art & design, filmmaking, musings, travel

wanderlust: rome

rome. magnificent rome. bella italia. where do i start?

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ive been to rome and venice in 2006, joining brillante mendoza in presenting his 2nd film, KALELDO, to that year’s rome international film festival. it would be my first time outside asia, having only travelled to hong kong the year before because of mendoza’s first film as well, MASAHISTA, which was screened there.  we travelled with producer, ferdie lapuz, and actress, cherry pie picache. staying for around 4 days, we were in rome for 3 days, saw the vatican, and a day in venice plus visiting murano island. needless to say it was a very short stay and we were just skimming over what we could discover and see in italy.

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this year, carlo and i worked on production design for bradley liew’s first feature film, SINGING IN GRAVEYARDS. a gorgeous portrait of an aging impersonator, joey “pepe” smith, who performs in bars as aging rockstar, joey “pepe” smith. i say gorgeous because the range of emotions we got from pepe smith’s non-acting acting is sublime and the environment (including our design work on the sets) captured on anamorphic lenses on a 2.39:1 aspect ratio is breathtaking. char. bradley claims he did not grade larry manda’s camera work. this film was included in the critic’s week section of the 73rd venice international film festival this year, which was why bradley, bianca balbuena (brad’s co-writer, producer, & girlfriend), mickey (sound design), tracy, (executive producer), and carlo and myself (production designers) plus pepe smith flew to italy to attend the festival.

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we finally got our screening schedules and the film was gonna be premiering towards the latter half of the festival. our visas granted us around 15 days to be in italy so carlo and i decided to max out that opportunity and see more of italy so we flew to rome and milan first before heading to venice for the festival.

after 10 years, im finally back in rome!

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rome was monumental and grand and delicate and massive and really the superpower history books said it was during the age of empires and gladiators and eating off grapes from the hands of slaves. while we stayed 2.5 days in rome and saw a lot of stuff, we still missed out on other sights and exhibits in the city. our milan hosts reckon we needed maybe 7 days to explore more of rome and i think i agree with him.

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the altar of the fatherland. only got to see this from afar before. it’s sooooo big. everything is big in rome. you can imagine what the great caesars wanted to impose on humanity back in the day for what rome represented.

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im loving the landscape of rome. those trees in the far distance evoke memories from childhood storybooks and pictures from encyclopedia, now real and alive and tangible. no wonder artists drew like that. id probably say the same when i get to visit japan. lol. walking around laurel trees, it was strangely amusing to smell them and be reminded of home and adobo. i think i will plant laurel trees in my home. and cypress. and this pine thing. and olive trees if i can find it in mindanao. awesome to see them mixed with calachuchi and calamansi bushes and talisay. i think i need a bigger piece of land.

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umm, this painting was gorgeous. hi kuya😉 we probably followed this guy from here in the vatican museum all the way to the sistine chapel. then we lost him. then he passed by us again while we were having dinner near the pantheon. choz. he nodded at us and we would have invited him over for pasta had he not walked so fast. see, we’re not stalkers. lol

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a detail of a wall painting of raphael (one of the ninja turles) in the vatican museum. that’s him in the black hat looking at us from the corner.

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every inch in the vatican museum is art. the church is the biggest patron of the arts, evident here in every room of the museum. i do wonder how nudity got to be so taboo when a lot of the depictions in art in the most holy of places are in the nude. paintings and sculpture of men and women all naked, loved by popes and the clergy. on display.

no pics of the sistine chapel, pinagbabawal. there were a few who defied and stole some photos but carlo and i felt we were too enthralled by michelangelo’s frescoes to bother taking photos. a lot of times, we felt photos do not give justice to the masterpieces on display, esp the frescoes in the sistine chapel. we stayed maybe an hour just looking up. gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

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the tapestries in this room is grabe na! dako kaayu!

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mosaic detail on the floor.

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a marble sculpture of laocoon and his sons, excavated in rome and now on permanent display at the vatican museum. gorgeous! according to google/wikipedia, this is in the hellenistic baroque style. char.

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wandered into a music shop near our airbnb in rome. always fascinated by shops in europe, they carry a lot of items despite its size. sa pilipinas, it would have to be some big franchise shop to carry this much varied merchandise in good condition. even the 2nd hand shops in cubao dont carry this kind of working, usable condition of merch.

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this time i got to see the colosseo up close and personal. chos. ancient rome is crazy, i tell you, to build such a massive building where people battled and died all in the name of entertainment. bloody thirsty masses watching and deciding the lives of slaves and warriors. hmmm, how very pilipinas lang now. never knew we became so blood thirsty, thrilled of the numbers of dead people popping up in the streets of manila. and how we ridicule and humiliate and curse at people on social media. wow. like the ancient romans? in my lifetime? but going back, maganda. pero masakit. the church with its riches despite the massive poor struggling to make ends meet. the relics of a mighty stadium reminds us of a brutal past. and we dont really learn from it.

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the oculus at the pantheon. i wasnt able to visit this in 2006 and this turned out to be absolutely one of my favorites in rome. i was surprised with the interiors, with the different colored marble sculptures and niches and that impressive hole in the ceiling.

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ang olive oil sa italy. bow. i heard a little about the olive oil mafia in italy, where the version we have commercially available isnt pure olive oil anymore. and only one family is supposedly controlling the olive oil industry. while in florence, our host told us not to use the cheap olive oil and instead use his stock of a slightly higher priced olive oil for our pasta. granted masarap nga. pero yung sinasabi niyang cheap oil ay isa na sa mahaling brand available sa pinas (bertolli). so ano nalang kaya yung mahalin sa kanila? wohoo. coconut oil nalang.

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local art in the neighborhood. diba kalorks. instant beauty everywhere. ingani ilang street art. atoa kay struggling but getting there. nothing wrong with mmda art really and sometimes i like that, ako ay engineer ako ay nurse thing. we need more subversive art though. lol.

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one cannot be in italia without eating gelato. the difference is that gelatos in italy are not as sweet as we have in manila. big difference for me kay dili kaayu ko tig-kaon ug ice cream. a bit cheaper also in italy. 150 to 200 pesos up per cone. mahal diay gihapon. haha

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thankfully they finished renovating/fixing the trevi fountain, one of the most gorgeous sights in rome, made more famous because making wishes at this fountain is 86% more effective than in other fountains. i made that up.

i did throw my coins back in 2006 (not in 2005 as i originally thought). and here i am back in italy. dreams come true, especially when you work for it and aim for it and save up for it and everything else in between.

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for more pics, check out my facebook photodump album for rome. cheers and leave me a comment here in my blog if you like this sort of thing. char.

up next: milan, dahlin’, milan.


wanderlust: prague

late post ito ha. although we flew to europe through prague in the czech republic last july 2016, we only got to visit and explore the city towards the end of our almost 2 week stay. amazing amazing amazing. prague is indeed the heart of europe (it being center of europe) and having perhaps the most lovely people we’ve met.


there is reason why the place is known as the city of spires. it’s such a magical sight actually. and i love the art nouveau motif mixed in with classical, art deco, etc design styles as well as modern and 21st century architectural styles.



art nouveau!


this little museum in the middle of the city housed quite a collection of mucha prints but maybe it’s the curation that really got me. over the next hour or so, i just felt such a strong connection (close kami) and fascination to mucha’s work and i love both his fine art and commercial work. a real national treasure of the czech republic.


a few blocks away the 21 epic slav paintings of mucha was housed in one of the national galleries in prague as he intended, complete and in one big gallery fit for them. the works were magnificent and totally captivating. the style was different from his commercial work and that’s pretty awesome. his love for his country was evident in the works. i swear we could have stayed all day and just stare at the works but we could only stay for 4 hours. we needed to eat. haha



another museum housed a small collection from three masters, salvador dali, andy warhol, and again alphonse mucha. the price of admissions were for each gallery floor. carlo and i just came from the mucha exhibit a few blocks away so we skipped that in this gallery and just paid to see dali and warhol’s works.


the dali exhibit here showcases quite a number of pieces but carlo tells me it is of his later works. the better dali paintings were his earlier works and it did seem like so. we eventually saw better dali paintings in italy, a few in the peggy guggenheim museum. a set of painted dishes were however also on display in prague and they were gorgeous.

andy warhol was something else. i only realized i was immersed my whole life (entire childhood) with works by warhol and those influenced by him. i was suddenly brought back to a much simpler time while looking at his album and magazine covers. beyond the campbell soup, which is still amazing, and the marilyns, you have the smiths and the interview magazine covers and the bananas. im not THAT old but whatever. ang saya lang.


this hotel’s name rings a bell, doesnt it?


i had the best time browsing through the poster catalogue of terryho ponosky. the shop is sort of an homage to terry gilliam, american-british director of monty python and 12 monkeys and his socks. the shop literally means terry’s socks, or something to that effect. there’s even a photo of terry and his socks in the shop. displayed in the store were some of the most gorgeous czech designed film posters of famous movies throughout the years. i probably came by this three times before i decided to buy something. it’s one of those things i know i’d regret if i didnt do it.  i could only afford a box of postcards so i got a 25-card set, which i plan to frame and put up in my room.


another bookshop near where we airbnb’ed that sold vintage stuff. naiiyak ako sa ganda at kamahal ng bilihins dito. ang ganda ng shop.


the city of spires indeed. prague is magical and enchanting. more photos in my facebook album photodump. i also posted a separate facebook album for the galleries we visited.

do come by sometime and dream a little. or dream big. till the next adventure, praha. na zdravi!


musings, travel

wanderlust: budapest

before i post about rome, i have to finish posting about budapest and prague. so heaven help me.

coming from croatia, we had about 2 days to spare prior to returning to prague. we decided to see budapest. the name itself sounded exotic, the european kind. it was a choice between vienna and budapest and the latter won because of the hashtag #bethebestinbudapest.



the film, the grand budapest hotel by wes craven, is an amalgamation of various hotels in europe, perhaps including this one, the hotel astoria, and especially the grandhotel pupp in karlovy vary, which we had the opportunity to wine and dine in during the recent film festival there.





budapest is a gorgeous town with amazing architecture and wonderful people. the city is divided down the middle by the river danube, which might be familiar to you guys who danced the waltz back in 3rd grade or something. on the left side of the river is the buda, where the grand palace and big museums are found, and the pest side (pronounced as pesh) on the right side, where we stayed. hence, “budapesh.”



i want door knockers like this but i dont know where to get/find them. they all seemed to be antique in nature so i doubt id find it in their equivalent to ace hardware.



had the best time in the national gallery. there was a picasso exhibit during the time we were in budapest but photos were not allowed. thankfully the main galleries showcased fabulous hungarian artists and masterpieces. photos on facebook.

for the rest of my photos, there in my facebook photodump album for budapest. just remember, be the besht in budapest!


here comes the men in black…

filmmaking, laundry therapy, musings, save the earth, travel

selfie vlog: king’s landing

so this is the story.

i took selfie videos while going around the old city in dubrovnik, croatia where they shot game of thrones. then i edited them with music from the show and posted on youtube. so i thought that was that.


on the day we were to leave croatia, the old landlady from our airbnb told me she saw me “on internet.” because she took note of our names and passport upon check-in, i assumed she researched our names and found me on facebook. so that was that.

in the airport while checking in for our flight, the guy manning the check-in counter told me he recognized me with the blue hair and touring the old city location a few days ago. i asked him if he was there when we were going around. he told me, no. he only saw me “on internet.”


he told me he saw my video. ah. i asked if he saw it on facebook. no, in the news.


then while processing our boarding passes, he whips out his phone and starts searching for the website of the local news. he shows it to me (it was in croatian) and i took note of it. flabbergasted, i later searched the site again. the translation was something else.

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my video apparently went viral in dubrovnik and was featured in two websites. “dangerous stunt” daw. lol. here’s the full video. dangerous daw, huwag tularan.

food trip, laundry therapy, musings, travel

wanderlust: dubrovnik

carlo, bianca, pepe, royd, bentol, and myself took a short plane ride to dubrovnik, croatia from the czech republic, to take the game of thrones tour. the city has become a major tourist attraction when hbo moved to film scenes from the hit tv show, game of thrones, in croatia for season 2. a lot of the exterior scenes of king’s landing and other locations were filmed in the old city and other parts of dubrovnik. i only knew about it when bianca suggested we take a side trip during the time we’re attending the karlovy vary film festival.


dubrovnik is a gorgeous coastal town and we enjoyed our time in it. it was summer and most of the tourists are heading for the beaches in dubrovnik. and then there was us going for game of thrones!


at the trsteno arboretrum recreating a scene from GOT

i love the cypress trees jutting out of the hills amidst stone-walled houses. ang ganduh parang nasa croatia ka lang. choz.



a view of the king’s landing from the steps going up the red keep. i cant stop gushing about how gorgeous this little pocket of heaven is.



inside the old city.



people resting by the docks away from the afternoon heat.




we stayed a total of 3 days in dubrovnik before heading to budapest. it was a bit expensive compared to the czech republic but totally worth it. the beaches are awesome and i would love to spend next summer here again. choz.

will post the youtube video of the old city tour we took that got viral in the local news. lol. and for the rest of the photos, here’s the link to my facebook photo dump. cheers!


on the steps where cersei took her walk of shame


digital world

rethinking my digital data storage options. i almost lost my old photos from an old wd mybook hdd when its hardware failed a few months ago. then i realized most of the photos were backed up in a separate 2TB wd passport hdd. so i said i was safe. AND THEN a few days i plugged in into an lg led tv and somehow it “erased” everything. i was able to save most of the photos using a data recovery program but i fear the hdd no longer gives me security. the same program allowed me however to access the old mybook hdd so im slowly backing up my previously lost photos. and maybe now i really need to triple backup things and also backup to cloud networks. hayy.

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a sample of my folder organization, catalogued in lightroom. i kinda never erase photos even if they are trivial and mundane. 

by importance, i want to save all my photos. ive succeeded in keeping all of them organized since 2005. and then i want to save all my project files, from way back 2005 to present. ive been working in the art department since that time and i havent erased any of my research, pegs, drawings, and presentation decks. the next important, and slightly not so important, would be my movie collection. it’s kinda heartbreaking to lose the really hard-to-find ones like musicals and documentaries. everything else, somehow you can find again online. the last thing i would want to save is probably the e-comics. i also have a big collection of mp3s (albums and all that) as well but they dont seem as important now as the rest of my files.

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recovering 1 folder at a time. and because it really is a hardware problem, the old mybook hdd is so slow it takes hours to download even a file of around 400mb. Lord, have mercy.

soon enough i will learn to let go of things lost, digital or otherwise. but not yet. not yet.

art & design, filmmaking, laundry therapy, movies, musings, travel

wanderlust: karlovy vary

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karlovy vary is about 1.5 hours from prague in the czech republic. i had but recently only realized that czechoslovakia had divided itself in 1993 (i blame sleepy afternoons and not concentrating in history). so there is the czech republic and there is slovakia on the map. awesome to learn something every day, right?

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karlovy vary is known for their spas and medicinal spring waters and a lot of their tourism is towards people seeking wellness and therapy. however, every july their sleepy little town gets to throw a big party for the summer crowd and because it hosts the karlovy vary international film festival.

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this is Hotel Thermal, home of the karlovy vary international film festival. the hotel is kinda like CCP, except with a hotel and is near everybody else.

our film, KAPATIRAN (Brotherhood), was screened this year, ive blogged about it already. this post would show a little bit of karlovy vary instead.

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one of the ballrooms in the grandhotel pupp with a big ass morgan freeman portrait. one of the biggest spa hotels in karlovy vary and where a lot of the parties during the festival were hosted. it’s awesome for 1 festival to have most of the whole city so involved. you can see a lot of their poster billboards all over. the theaters are spread out and not just in one venue.

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another one of the venues where we had our 2nd screening of karlovy vary. goofing outside the cafe, we were joined by hubert poul (6th from left), programmer in karlovy vary and the one who was responsible for bringing us to the czech republic. also in the photo in lucille (rightmost) who was in-charge of our schedules and car transfers. very organized and with a bmw sponsorship for transfers, we were major alta in karlovy vary haha

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early morning and the crowd had just partied the night before. still some few souls traversing through the venue and gardens, others sunbathing for their life. im pinoy, no thanks, i have my umbrella to shield me from the sun.

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the view outside hotel ruze, where we enjoy our breakfast buffet of cheeses, hard bread, and yohgurt. plus goulash and different kinds of sausages as well.

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another of the collonades that feature a spring of water, supposedly medicinal and which you can drink (if you buy them touristy ceramic mugs).

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we stayed for 4-5 days but wish we could stay the whole week. got to watch brillante mendoza’s ma’rosa (heartbreaking) and swiss army man, directed by dan kwan and daniel scheinert (amazing). then of course, the new edit to kapatiran, which we saw for the first time in karlovy vary. during the q&a, pepe likened the philippines to shattered glass, an archipelago of broken people, separated by seas and subcultures yet connected by affiliations. and then there was a proposal that occurred. but that will be another story.

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for the rest of the photos i took in karlovy vary, head on to my fb photodump album.