Condo Living

November 20, 2015 at 11:49 PM | Posted in Lifestyle | Leave a comment

I finally moved to a condo with my sister. I must say, it’s a nice feeling to have a place of our own. And we’re not even renting it. We got a loan from the bank and bought this condo unit that my aunt’s friend was selling. It was on the market for a reasonable price, fully furnished and still in mint condition. It was a bargain deal so we eventually bought it.

Living room in my condo

The only disadvantage of the condo is that it is located in Pasig City, which is far from Makati City – the place where we used to live and where we currently work. But so far, it was the most affordable home we could find. We tried looking for condos within Makati, Mandaluyong and even Taguig but most of them were really expensive. And those that were cheap were too small for us. It would be like living in a shoebox.

Anyway, my sister and I just moved in the condo this week. Prior to the move, there was a lot of packing, cleaning and sorting out of old stuff. I didn’t realize how much clothes I had! Then when we moved in, there was more cleaning and unpacking to do and organizing our stuff. Thank goodness it’s all done now. There’s a gym within the condo complex and the swimming pool is big, but I haven’t tried using them yet.

Now we’re adjusting to this new place, especially the city. We’ve lived in Pasig before but that was so many years ago and it was in a different area. I still have difficulty finding my way around this new place. I feel like a fish out of water. But I know I’ll eventually get used to it. It’s just a matter of time before I can make myself feel really at home.

View of my dining area and living room

View of my dining area and living room

Me and the City

October 30, 2015 at 11:05 PM | Posted in Lifestyle, Musings | Leave a comment

I’m slowly conditioning myself to the fact that I will be leaving my apartment and moving to a new condo by next month with my sister. And while I’m so glad that my sister and I finally have a place of our own, I couldn’t help but feel sad about leaving. I’ve lived in Makati City for over ten years now and to move to another city will definitely be a jolt for me. I loved living in this city because it’s only minutes away from the central business district and the vibrant nightlife. Yes I know the city is known for its horrendous traffic, but then again so is everywhere. This is the Philippines after all.

A peek at Ayala Triangle Park in Makati

A peek at Ayala Triangle Park in Makati

But Makati is sort of a comfort zone for me. Somehow it doesn’t feel as crowded as Quezon City or any other city in Manila for that matter. I’ve gotten used to the hustle and bustle of Makati and its ever-changing city landscape. Shops have come and gone. New malls have sprung up. Parks have changed. But I can still live with that. That’s how it goes in the big city.

I think I’m going to miss my trips to Ayala Triangle Park where I used to jog at night. I’m going to miss seeing the skyscrapers along Ayala Avenue in the morning on my way to work. I will miss the malls I frequent on weekends, and I will definitely miss the restaurants and coffee shops I usually go to.

But certain things need to be sacrificed. A decision had to be made. And it’s all been done. Next month I will be adjusting to a new life in a new city. I’m crossing my fingers that all will turn out well.

My Dubai Experience

September 7, 2015 at 10:00 AM | Posted in Art, Food and Dining, Lifestyle, Shopping, Travel | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
The courtyard at Majlis Gallery

The courtyard at Majlis Gallery

Six months ago, if anyone told me I’d be traveling to Dubai I wouldn’t have believed him. But last August, I found myself packing my bags and heading off to Dubai for a month-long (well, almost) business trip. I’ve never been out of the country so imagine my anxiety just before I left for Dubai. Considering the fact that I’m going there alone for work didn’t lessen my anxiety. But after a few days of staying there, I gradually settled in comfortably.

Work-wise, my experience while I was in Dubai wasn’t that fantastic. There was so much work to do that I was always stressed out. I barely had time to eat. I was exhausted by the end of each day. My only consolation were the weekends when I got the chance to see the sights and explore the city.

XVA Art Hotel & Cafe

XVA Art Hotel & Cafe

mint & lemon juice with quinoia & zucchini kofta at XVA

mint & lemon juice with quinoia & zucchini kofta at XVA

Speaking of the city, my visit in Dubai came in an inopportune time. It’s the middle of summer there so the weather is scorchingly hot and humid. But being an excited traveler that I was and eager to explore, I bored the heat and traipsed my way to the Dubai Museum and the art galleries.

I had such a fun time at the art galleries in Al Fahidi (formerly known as Bastakiya). The art pieces from various and international artists were just amazing! Of course I’m talking about the art exhibits in Majlis Gallery and XVA Art Hotel and Cafe – two of the most popular art galleries in Dubai.

dhow boat

Weena aboard the dhow boat

me aboard a dhow boat at night

I also had the chance to try some of the local cuisines. Some I liked, some I didn’t. I particularly loved the kibbeh, kofta, falafel, and the hummus dip. But I absolutely fell in love with their famous mint lemonade (or mint and lemon juice)! It’s what I usually order every time I dined out.

Weena & Uncle Sanny on dinner cruise

My uncle who was based in Bahrain came to visit me on my third week and we explored the rest of the city together. We had a dinner cruise aboard a dhow boat and sailed along the Dubai Creek.

Weena_At the Top

And of course, my visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without going to the city’s two most recognizable attractions – the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world, standing at 828 meters high and having over 160 stories. It’s also the same building that Tom Cruise scaled in the movie, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Weena in At the Top, Burj Khalifa

me at the observation deck in Burj Khalifa

Weena in Burj Khalifa observation deck

Weena & Uncle Sanny inside Burj Khalifa

My uncle and I were able to go inside Burj Khalifa and got to see the spectacular views from the 124th and 125th floors of the building – the observation deck At the Top. True enough, the elevators were super fast! I think it took us only a minute or two to reach the 124th floor.

Weena at Dubai Mall overlooking Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa at night

Burj Khalifa at night

Weena with Burj Khalifa at nightBut perhaps to the general public, the most recognizable icon of Dubai is the Burj Al Arab – the world-famous building in the shape of a sail. Unfortunately though, my uncle and I weren’t able to go inside Burj Al Arab. Because you’re only allowed to go in if you have a reservation in one of the building’s restaurants. And to dine in one of the restaurants there was too expensive! So my uncle and I just contented ourselves with taking photos of the building while we were at the Jumeirah Open Beach. The beach was within the vicinity of Burj Al Arab and has a perfect view of the building.

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

Weena with Burj Al Arab in background

We also visited the popular souks in Deira, particularly the spice and gold souks. The spice souk had rows and rows of different spices in splashes of vibrant colors. It’s simply visually stunning. Various teas and nuts were also on display. I had the chance to visit the textile and garment souk in Al Fahidi before my uncle arrived in Dubai. There were so much to buy there – from local and traditional clothes, pashminas, parasols, to bags, shoes, rugs, and souvenir items.

Weena in spice souk in Deira

me at the spice souk in Deira

textile souk in Al Fahidi

textile souk in Al Fahidi

But while the souks offer shoppers great bargains, the two biggest malls in Dubai provide the wealthy with the most high-end stores that they could find. The Dubai Mall, which is adjacent to the Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai, is one of the largest malls in the world and boasts of having a collection of global brand names – from Armani, Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, to Versace, Christian Louboutin, Ermenegildo Zegna, and many others. My uncle and I practically got lost while we were inside the mall.

Weena at Dubai Mall

me outside Dubai Mall

Another mall we visited was the Mall of the Emirates. It’s a bit smaller than Dubai Mall but also holds the same global brands. I actually prefer the interior design and architecture of Mall of the Emirates than the Dubai Mall mainly because of the former’s use of traditional, Islamic architecture, which I find really gorgeous.

My friends and coworkers kept telling me that I’m really lucky to have been given the opportunity to visit Dubai. I guess they’re right. Work aside, my experience in Dubai was one that I will never forget.

Almost Human

August 11, 2015 at 2:23 AM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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Can androids become self-aware and experience human emotions? What would happen if they passed the Turing test? This was the premise of the movie, Ex Machina.

In the movie, a brilliant young man called Caleb was plucked out of his mundane life as a computer programmer to work on an experiment on artificial intelligence. His boss, Nathan, was a genius scientist who successfully created a female android named Ava. Caleb’s task was to interact with Ava and see if she could pass the Turing test – the global standard test for artificial intelligence.

Ex Machina poster

The test was conducted in an isolated research facility deep within the mountains. The experiment lasted for a week but it ended with surprising revelations. Caleb was  amazed with Ava’s ability to display and even feel human emotions. It wasn’t long before he concluded that Ava passed the test. But just as he learned of Ava’s capabilities, he too learned something more sinister happening inside the research facility.

This movie showed the humanizing of an android – a robot that believed she’s human but forever be reminded that she’s not because of the way she looked. It showed just to what extent an android would do to become human.

Ava the android

But what I really loved about this movie was the unexpected twist at the end. Caleb suddenly became the subject of the experiment not just Ava. Ex Machina showed us how human weakness could become a powerful tool and exploited by an android. Ava learned how to manipulate, deceive and inject just the right emotions to convince Caleb to turn against Nathan.

Alicia Vikander’s performance as Ava the android was simply superb. Her facial expressions and the way she moved had that fluidity of a human/robot hybrid without looking clunky and well, robotic. The slightest turn of her head or the way she blinked had that right balance to convince the audience that she’s not entirely a robot – nor human.

At the end of the movie, you could almost sympathize with her and her plight but at the same time feel horrified at the coldbloodedness of her actions as a robot.

When John Connor Pulled a Darth Vader

July 5, 2015 at 12:07 AM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

SPOILER WARNING: This movie review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

John Connor just went to the dark side of The Force. The hero has fallen – and it was all disappointing.

I’ve been a big fan of the Terminator movies since I was a child. I was in grade school when I first saw The Terminator and loved it. I also loved its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and the fourth installment Terminator: Salvation (let’s forget about the third one). The franchise always captivated me because of its compelling storyline about man versus machines. So when I saw the trailer of Terminator: Genisys, I got really excited. I had high expectations that it would be as good as the previous ones (except the third film). But now that I’ve seen the latest installment of the franchise, I’m not so sure.


Photo credit goes to

I was expecting the liquid metal, T-1000 to be the main villain in this movie, or at least a new Terminator. I didn’t expect John Connor to be the bad guy. He’s supposed to be the hero – the leader of the resistance against the machines. But halfway through the movie, he turned out to be the main villain. Skynet got through him. It infiltrated his body and turned him into a human/machine hybrid. Now he was fighting for and with Skynet, not against it.

What really disappointed me was that the movie didn’t even show if John or any of his army actually attempted to fight Skynet when it was infiltrating his body. Like we’re supposed to accept the fact that the resistance was too weak and wasn’t prepared enough for a sudden attack. I wanted the ending to at least show if there’s anything left in John’s humanity. Heck, I wanted John (the human not the hybrid) to survive. I get that the writers wanted a tragic story but for me that felt a little flat. Those scenes with the hybdrid John Connor wasn’t as moving and heartbreaking as that scene in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith when Obi Wan Kenobi fought with the dark Anakin Skywalker (“You were the chosen one!”). Sarah Connor was more emotional about “Pops,” (a.k.a T-800, the Terminator sent from the future to protect her) than her son turning against her and the crusade).

The period of the time travels got a little confusing, too. So Sarah never became a waitress in 1984? If the hybrid John Connor was killed by T-800 (a.k.a Arnold) in 2017, then would that have affected the past and the future? I didn’t get the explanation as to why a young Kyle Reese from the past could meet the older Kyle Reese from the future. Perhaps I need to rewatch the entire franchise again to better understand this.

And by the way, T-1000 was underutilized in this movie. He was so badass in those scenes that it reminded me of how I felt about him when I first saw him in Terminator 2: Judgement Day – terrifying. The actor who played him was so good even though he had only one dialogue. I wanted to see more of T-1000!

Emilia Clarke did a fine job playing Sarah Connor, although the writers could have written her character to be more connected and bonded with her son than “Pops.” But I really missed seeing Linda Hamilton in that role. I hope she could appear in the next installment of the movie, even just for a cameo.

Of course it’s always good to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. That Arnold versus Arnold scene was so cool! I loved that Terminator: Genisys incorporated a few elements from the previous movies – the scene where Arnold was crawling on the floor with a dismembered arm looking almost defeated, the shoes that Kyle Reese was wearing, T-1000 melting and disintegrating, and the classic lines: “Come with me if you want to live,” and “I’ll be back!”

Terminator: Genisys wasn’t as fantastic as I hoped it to be but it wasn’t all that bad either.

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