Wednesday, March 15, 2023


- March 11, 2023, Saturday.

- Holi is back in Manila this 2023 after years of pandemic-caused disruptions! As usual, it was held in SM Mall of Asia By the Bay. Unlike in the earlier iterations of Holi in Manila, this year is was mainly organized by the Indian Cultural Association of the Philippines (ICAP), in partnership with other Indian associations such as the Indian Women in Enterprise (I-WE) and non-Indian organizations such as Asia Society Philippines. Both ICAP and I-WE are young associations in the Indian community, which makes this event more significant. ICAP was supposed to hold it's first ever Holi in 2020, but lockdowns were imposed shortly before they were able to hold the event. This making the 2023 Holi celebration a few years in the making - and it was just amazing!!

- For those not familiar with Holi, Holi is one of the major Indian festivals. In the Philippins, this is one of two major Indian festivals celebrated publicly by the growing Indian community, the other being Diwali (known as "the festival of lights" and takes place in Autumn.) The Holi Festival welcomes spring, and is best known for people throwing colored powder and spraying colored water at each other. There are also other more detailed explanations depending on the religion, such as Hinduism. Holi is also not too common in Southern India as a religious celebration, but some South Indians do decide to participate and play with color during Holi.

Love the costumes!

Getting ready.

Throwing color at each other is very much appropriate.

- In the Philippines, Holi is always done in a controlled manner, which I appreciate the most. The organizers always provide the colored powder packets, and are certified hypoallergenic. The other important thing to me too, is that they colored powder they chose easily comes off in the wash!   

- Unlike the past, the organizers chose a side of MOA that was more spacious, so it was more comfortable going around the kiosks (mostly food stalls). It was also easier to find chairs and tables when I needed to eat. The stalls present were facilitated by I-WE, who tapped on Indian women entrepreneurs (most of which specialize in food products.) 

Do try Savories and Sweets by Karina! They make some of the best homecooked Indian meals! (You may reach them in IG or Facebook, just search for their store name.)

Many many Indian food stalls!

- I went around the venue alone, but I was very happy to reconnect with old friends and some whom I have communicated with in online platforms during the pandemic. Truly, Indian events like these feel like the multiverse of my lives as I get to meet so many people I've encountered in various situations in the past.

- The program was also a mood lifter (because it's Holi after all!) From bhangra performances, devotion dances, and the endless beats of Indian music, there was not a single dull moment from the blazing afternoon until sunset.

A few words from ICAP! That's Ms. Shalini Saha, the main organizer of Holi Manila!

The main highlight! Holi hai!

Endless dances.

So many people.

The day won't end without bhangra!!

I look like the 80s spat me out. But hey I love colors so I don't mind!

Some people had way too much color (but that also is quite appropriate!)

With Roshan, the resident host of Holi in the Philippines and one of the best hosts ever! (And a good fiend too!)

- I've attended various Indian events in and out of the Philippines. Without biases, I've always had some of the best Indian celebrations here in the Philippines - like Holi Manila! Congratulations to all the organizers, especially ICAP and I-WE, for finally bringing Holi back to Manila! This was something I truly missed during the pandemic! 

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Sound of Music in Manila! - The Hills are Defo Alive!

- March 7, 2023, Tuesday.

- The hills are alive once more in Manila with The Sound of Music!! The stage production of The Sound of Music is here in Manila from March 7 to 26 at Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Ayala Malls Circuit. It was brought to Manila by GMG Productions, which also brought Matilda, the Lion King, Cats, and other big productions to Manila and the Asia-Pacific region. Though mainly an international cast, local artists Karylle and Markki Stroem appear in the musical as Baroness Schraeder and Rolf respectively. Tickets are still very much available in the official Ticketworld website (click here).  

I feel more like Godzilla than Maria.

Yay! I also tried to wear something trachten-inspired although I have a lederhosen and trachten suit at home. In hindsight, I should've gone all out! ("Tracht" or "trachten" refers to the traditional clothes of Southern Germany, Austria, and other related regions.) 

- For those who probably have never heard of "The Sound of Music," it is a semi-fictionalized story of the Von Trapp Family singers, who lived during the eve of the German annexation of Austria. The family is headed by Captain Von Trapp, a highly-decorated navy officer. He hired a governess named Maria Rainer who eventually taught the Von Trapp children how to sing. This stage production was originally done in the 1950s, although its most famous version is the 1965 film, starring Julie Andres and the late Christopher Plummer.


You'll see this once you go up the escalator to the main lobby.

- I've watched the movie over and over and over again throughout the years but seeing the musical alive will forever be a different immersive experience. This is the magic of theater. Since the musical is based on the stage production, some songs appear in scenes you probably wouldn't expect them to be in. Some songs in the film are also not in the stage production, and some songs are in the stage production but not in the movie. The pacing is also slightly different since the movie had an easier time bending time through montages, while the stage production had to be....a bit abrupt in some parts of the narrative. (I'm trying to be quite vague, for those who probably wish to watch.) 

- Overall, I loved the performance! Jill Christine-Wiley and Trevor Martin as Marita and Captain Von Trapp were perfect. More importantly, I must say I now have a newfound respect for Markki Stroem - whom I normally ignore when I see on TV because I thought he was just one of those mestizo actors TV stations hire. I wasn't actually aware that he started out in showbiz as a singer, and that he was active in the theater scene in the Philippines apart from his appearances in TV and film. (This being said, I guess I need to watch more local productions too.) As for Karylle, I have seen her in local productions (top of my mind is "Rama Hari" in 2012), so it was no surprise that she gave life to Baroness Schraeder really well too! However, I guess a super minor concern would be the theater's microphone situation since there were some instances of the actors' microphones not working for a second or two. However, it didn't really affect the overall experience of watching the play.

Hills covered in blue....clouds?

- I'm so glad I was able to watch the musical because I was actually saving money for something. However, God probably wanted me to see this because I earned a decent amount of money from a recent wedding I attended (I joined/was forced to join games in that wedding) and so I had some money to spare for a ticket. I love The Sound of Music so much I even did some sort of "pilgrimage" to the filming locations of the movie when I went to Salzburg a few years back (see here, here, and here). I'm hoping that more people would come watch since I was surprised that not a lot of people knew that the musical is currently showing. So why not take a chance? Go to the hills now, maybe your heart is lonely? Or climb ev'ry mountain, 'til you find your the theater!  

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Korean Village: The Way I (Will) Remember It

- Feb. 24, 2023, Friday.

- Before the battalion of unlimited samgyupsal restaurants shaped the way Filipinos understand Korean food, there was Korean Village in Malate. It was "THE" Korean restaurant, and one of the earliest Korean restaurants in the heart of Manila. It opened in 1978, and was the go-to Korean restaurant of many Manilenos. It was owned by the Filipino-Korean Tallos family. Recently, it became the talk of the town once more, because the current owner decided to close the restaurant after many years. Obviously, I had to go for one final meal.


- Due to the proximity of Malate to Chinatown, many Chinoys or Chinese-Filipinos had their first taste of Korean food in Korean Village. If I remember correctly, I was introduced to Korean food here as well. I couldn't remember much of what I ate in the past because we didn't always go there. However, I had a personal connection with Korean Village in the late 2000s just as the Korean Wave or "hallyu" was gaining popularity in the Philippines. I had frequent trips there with friends who were also interested in all things Korean. I remember celebrating a few birthdays there, and receiving my first ever K-Pop CD as a birthday gift from my friend (a SHINee CD, of course!) Back then, Korean CDs and other fan merchandise could be only bought in Korea or other Northeast-Asian countries. It wasn't long after those were sold in the Philippines as well. I also remember eating in Korean Village after watching SHINee live - and for free! - in 2009 when they performed at the 60th Korea-Philippines Friendship Festival at CCP. However, I ate at Korean Village less and less in the past decade due to the emergence of many authentic Korean restaurants, and of course, the unlimited samgyupsal craze. I also regularly went to Korea before the pandemic for conferences and other events, so I didn't long for Korean food too much. But despite that, Korean Village was still an important part of my formative years as a hallyu fan. Because of all these reasons, I just had to go back to Korean Village even when it meant braving the long lines of other nostalgia-filled diners.

- I met my friend Sharmaine in Korean Village, and it took us more than an hour before being seated. The restaurant was too overwhelmed by the number of customers since they never had very long lines ever (at least, that's what we were told.) 

A former student of mine was inside, and saw me standing outside the window. She took this photo to show how miserably hungry I was.

- I was surprised to see celebrity chef Margarita Fores who dined that noon and met with the owner. According to her during our brief small talk, she tried to convince the owner to not close down this jewel of a restaurant, to no avail. (I was told that the owner had medical conditions that needed a long time to treat.) Margarita Fores was one of many famous people who went to Korean Village for one last bite. That's how significant Korean Village is/was!

With Chef Margarita Fores. (If y'all don't know her, she owns Cibo!)

- Sharmaine and I were eventually seated, and had budae chigae (Korean army stew), a plate of assorted raw meat for grilling, and haemul pajeon (seafood pancake). It was a simple meal (well OK the budae chigae was quite big for the two of us!) with some of the many must-haves!

My favorite "look at me I'm grilling" pose.

We're enjoying our food.

Budae chigae.

Super spontaneous meetup but I'm glad we met again! We haven't seen each other since....maybe a year or two?

- After dining, I had one last photo with the restaurant, and as you can notice, I didn't shy away from wearing my hanbok, because why not! 

A last look.


- Korean Village holds a place in my heart and the hearts of many. Korean Village closed on the 25th of February 2023, the day after I ate. The long line was worth it for a place that meant so much! Kamsahamnida, Korean Village!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Guam - Green and Gorgeous! (Part 3): Guam's Historical Wonders // And How Do I Store All My Travel Hauls?!

- December 25-26, 2022, Sunday to Monday.

- Christmas in Guam isn't as fun as you think - but of course I made it fun! It isn't as fun because Christmas is a holiday in Catholic-majority Guam and most of everything is closed on Christmas! Many stores, restaurants - even the malls! - are closed on Christmas. I was so glad I found out about this early on as I was planning for the trip, so I was able to make sure that our Christmas would still be interesting.

- I realized that most of Guam's historical spots are open 24/7, and conveniently located near each other in the island's capital, Agana. It was the perfect way to spend Christmas! At least, for someone interested in history like me. (If not, I think water activities might be available during the holidays because there are many tourists who don't really celebrate Christmas. Water activities aren't my thing though.)

- We first visited Fort Santa Agueda on top of a hill overlooking Agana and the sea. Built in the 1800s, the small fort is actually the last remaining fort in Agana. I'm glad it was eventually protected because many forts and Spanish-era sites have been victims of neglect and theft.   

The cannons left in Fort Santa Agueda. Old documents said that there should have been 10.

View from the hilltop fort.

One of the cannons.

Stairs to the cannons.

 - At the bottom of the hill, one can find the Latte Stone Park. Although the park was formally established in the 1950s, the latte stones were actually from centuries prior. Originally from the village of Mepo in southern Guam, but were moved because the American Navy was going to build some facility there. (The park also has two entrances to Japanese air raid shelters from World War II but for the life of me, I cannot remember why I forgot to check them out! Woe is me.)

With the lattes.

Again, latte stones were supposed to be bases of Chamorro wooden/grass houses. They provide sturdy support for the whole structure, prevent floods from reaching the houses (to some extent,) and prevents animals from climbing to the houses.

- After having a quick brunch in Tamuning (as there was a restaurant we liked and we knew was open on Christmas), my family went back to Agana to continue exploring Agana. Perhaps one of Agana's most popular and recognizable tourist destinations is Plaza de Espana. It was the seat of government of Guam from the 1700s until World War II. The governor's office used to be there, until it was destroyed in the war, only leaving some structures behind. 

Left: Chocolate House, a small function/meeting room where chocolate was usually served. Right: Azotea, or terrace-porch.  

With the fountain and Siesta Shed.

Arches of the almacen (armory.) The armory doesn't exist anymore, but the arches remained.

Old pillars.


- Right beside Plaza de Espana is the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica. The cathedral is one of the main churches of Guam. Though built in 1959, it is significant as it was built on the place where the first church of Guam used to be. The first church was built in the 1600s and was only destroyed during World War II. The church appears to have a museum but I wasn't able to visit it anymore since they were closing the church after the Christmas mass (at least that's what it seemed like?) By the way, the church is air-conditioned. 

Inside the church. You can see a small statue of Santa Marian Kamalen, the patron saint of Guam.

San Lorenzo Ruiz. Although not exactly involved with Guam in any way, he is the patron saint of overseas Filipinos.

Saint Pedro Calungsod is also enshrined here, for a more obvious reason. He went to Guam with the Spanish to help spread Catholicism in the island. He was also killed in Guam. 

With the cathedral.

Statue of Pope John Paul II (and the Insular Guard Monument at the back.)

- Finally, we ended our historical tour of Agana by visiting San Antonio Bridge, or Tollai Acho. It is a bridge that was built in 1800 over what used to be the Agana River. The river was rerouted, so there isn't a body of water under the bridge anymore. There is also a mermaid statue on one side of the bridge. The mermaid, called "Sirena" (which means mermaid,) used to be a human who didn't do her chores and was cursed to become a mermaid.

Tollai Acho.


With the Sirena.

This is what it looks like over the bridge.

- The rest of Christmas afternoon was spent resting before my family had Christmas dinner in Dusit Thani.

My Christmas look.

- On our last day in Guam, I visited the Latte of Freedom, located inside the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex (where the governor's office is.) Originally planned in the 1970s, the giant latte was supposed to not only serve as Guam's main landmark, but also as a multi-purpose building that includes a Chamorro museum and cultural center. This was planned by the late Ricardo J. Bordallo who was the governor that time. Although the Latte of Freedom was not built while he was living, a scaled down version was finished in 2010. The Latte of Freedom mainly serves as a viewing deck.

Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex.

With the Latte of Freedom. (I didn't go up anymore.)

Artillery from World War II, as well as a small Japanese shrine to honor those who lost their lives in World War II (regardless of affiliation.)

- We had breakfast afterwards at Shirley's (it's a good all-day diner!) Apart from the food, I was also interested at the Indian Temple that was a few doors away from the restaurant. The temple is currently Guam's only Indian temple. The temple was closed the day I visited, but I was able to take a peek at the small shrine at the yard. It was a shrine for Shiva.

Guam's only Indian temple.

Couldn't go in as it was closed. It's only open on Thursday.

Nandi, Shiva's bull.

Shiva's image, and the Shiva lingam on the yoni.

- In the afternoon we decided to go to Duty Free for some last minute shopping. I am not normally interested in Duty Free shopping, so I left my family in Duty Free while I visited a peculiar store called Underground Dungeon. It's a warehouse that sells costumes for parties, Halloween, or any major occasion. It was paradise for me!!

Despite the name, it is paradise.

I told you.

More Power Rangers merchhhh.

There is a section dedicated to Power Rangers stuff. I mean....I tried my best not to buy everything of those shelves.

- After dinner we had to head back to the hotel and rest before our red-eye flight back to Manila. Our trip to Guam was the first time my family had a vacation together in a long while and for that I feel thankful. We rarely go on vacations together, and traveling was out of the question during the earlier years of the pandemic. Although I was able to stay in Australia for a good few months and had some adventures there, my family didn't. As for Guam, I guess it exceeded my expectations to some extent because I was surprised by how alive it is despite the size of the island, and the lack of infrastructure compared to Hawai'i. I keep comparing Guam to Hawai'i because they're both American territories (although Hawai'i is a state) in the Pacific - and also because I have been to Hawai'i. Although admittedly, considering the number of tourists visiting Guam, I think Guam could probably improve a lot of its infrastructure and preservation of historical landmarks. I hope more people can see the beauty of Guam beyond its beaches because there really is something to see and do in this small Pacific Island!



- After two back-to-back trips - a long one in Australia, and a short week-long trip to Guam - I realized that I have a lot more things at home now. Even without my trips, people have always asked me how I manage to organize and store my everyday clothes, and more importantly, my collection of traditional and cultural clothing and accessories. Because my family lives in a modest condo unit, there isn't too much space to work with in the first place. Good thing ORGANONO is here to save the day!

- Organono is an online store (click here to see their website) that provides easy-to-assemble modular items ranging from cabinets, organizers, racks, pet houses/cages, and more. Because my room is small I opted to get shoe organizers for a more compact fit for my clothes. I actually already have the 6-door 12-layer shoe organizer from a previous purchase. Since I needed more space, I bought two more sets so I can connect it to the one that I already have! By the way, purchasing from their store is very easy, and they deliver it right to your doorstep!

My existing shoe organizer converted into mini cabinets. It doesn't look stable so I wanted to add more compartments to the side.

- Each box has rectangualr and square panels, round connectors, and hooks. They usually add a wooden hammer to help people make sure that the steel frames of the panels are completely attached to the connectors. They also have instruction sheets to help you understand how the pieces go together. However, the final product IS UP TO YOUR NEEDS AND IMAGINATION!

Square panels, rectangular panels, doors, round connectors, hooks, and an instruction sheet.

- It took me 3 hours to work on my new cabinet (after removing my clothes from the existing one) because I had many compartments to work with! I also needed to make sure that the panels are all attached correctly. Making mistakes might be a concern since the connectors are difficult to remove from the panels once you hammer them in. HOWEVER, the panels' snug fit is actually what makes the final product durable!

I love working on my new cabinet. I feel like a carpenter! The wooden hammer helps a lot by the way! I chose this particular style of cabinet because the transparent doors allow me to see what's inside each compartment easily!

This is what a compartment looks like. The corners are secured by the round connectors. In the middle of each compartment, you see hooks attached to the square panels. The hooks allow me to add a panel so I can split a big compartment into two smaller compartments. 

The compartments looks small, but I assure you that they are spacious! You can also see the mid-panel hook on the lower left of the photo that allows me to add another layer inside this compartment. Also see my wooden hammer, some connectors, and hooks.

- I absolutely love my new cabinet and the process of making it was actually therapeutic too. I felt happy and proud because I made something for myself and for my own convenience. Organono is a life changer because their products allow you to organize your things the way you want to! When your things are organized, it's easier to organize your life too!

I was tired, but I know that my newly-assembled cabinet can provide me more comfort!

I immediately placed all my clothes in my new cabinet after taking this photo. Now I know where everything is!

- Thank you Organono for changing my life! Your products are affordable, durable, and modifiable! As someone who likes to organize, this is surely a game changer. Do check out Organono's website today (linking it here again) and see how you can organize your life based on your rules!