vahay kuvo part 1

carlo and i aim to simplify our lifestyle. the excessiveness of our world can be overwhelming and there will never be an end to what one’s lifestyle buries you into. we work in the advertising industry as production designers and it’s easy to get hooked into a superficial lifestyle if one is not conscious about it. averaging p250 meals at restaurants for one, free services to and from the office or the p260 taxi ride to the office and another going back home, that daily p165 grande starbucks coffee sealing your fake status in life. excessive! not to mention the small purchases of other items you may not really need.

it helps that we are not living in makati. we go home to an old, 40 year-old rented apartment in quezon city shared with my aunt who’s lived here longest in the neighborhood. food is a necessity but we are constantly reminded there are options always. i keep track of how much we spend a month and food takes up 60-70% of our expenses, through eating out or by groceries.

i remember as a kid life was so much simpler. mom goes to the market and comes back with loads of stuff. cooks meals and we share family time over a feast. it’s not too late to go back to that. sometimes, it’s not about spending less and going the cheaper route, it’s more about simplifying your life. going back to basics. buying local and reducing carbon footprint. celebrating home cooked meals. save the earth. all that jazz.

last month, carlo and i went off to the nearby marikina public market and spent P1200 ($27.21) on fresh produce. it took us 1.5 weeks to consume everything and that’s a good track record for us. this week we went back for more. there was a break with the cooking at home because we got busy with shoot projects but we’re currently back to cooking and eating at home this week.

before we left for marikina this afternoon, carlo and i planned to spend only P800 or $18 (plus P200 for taxi) at the market because we have to get a new lpg tank this month at roughly p550 (11kls per tank) as our old tank was all used up after 4 months of cooking (not bad). limiting expenses into a budget is crucial to simplifying lifestyles. money does not grow on trees, as everyone knows. here’s what we got this afternoon:



here’s an accounting of what we purchased today. im a sucker for squid and mussels. and galunggong. we’re hoping this produce and stock will see us through a week’s worth of awesome meals. carlo will cook and i will do the dishes.

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P974 ($22.09) total. we sorta overspent but our commute transportation was reduced to p48 ($1.09) so we’re still within budget. you may have noticed we didnt buy pork today. that’s no coincidence. also, no rice. normally we’d get brown rice at SM save more for P55/kilo but im trying to cut down on the carbs so no rice, not even brown rice. P974 divided into 7 days into 2 meals per day would be P69 shared meals for 2-3 pax (carlo, titatems, and myself). p69 per meal with 2 to 3 people eating! that’s roughly an unhealthy burger meal at some fastfood chain for one! crazy, right?

simplify your life. in this excessive lifestyle we have in manila, we’ve stopped appreciating the beauty of a home cooked meal and spending on more important stuff like good quality healthy food that will keep your sugar levels and cholesterol down.  im blogging about this so i can share and maybe inspire others to see for themselves how beautiful our produce is in the philippines and stop buying fast food and eat healthier and eating fresh food everyday.

will post photos of meals as the days progress. cheers and have a simplified life!


INTO THE WOODS (2014, rob marshall)

ive already written here before that im a sooper fan of stephen sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS the musical. the anticipation on the movie version is nerve-wracking and its screening in the Philippines didnt come any sooner.


the movie was nice. not that good, not that bad, only nice. after watching the movie, i couldnt help but look back at the original broadway production televised over PBS in the US and was blown away by the charm and wit of the musical. the whole thing was so funny that you do somersaults when act 2’s heavy mood brings you down. #anudaw the film was devoid of all punchlines from the original material. the film was being too serious for the kind of material it was working on.

i have to give credit to james corden and emily blunt for doing an awesome job as baker and wife. i did wonder why they didnt cast amy adams, who had done baker’s wife on a staging of ITW in central park with the witch and rapunzel’s mom from the animated disney film, rapunzel, donna murphy, playing witch and rapunzel’s mom. over sa meta, i know. meryl streep’s witch was a bit more tricky because bernadette peters did a memorable awesome job as the witch onstage. that does not say that meryl did bad. her “stay with me” and “last midnight” were hauntingly beautiful. disney just couldnt do to rapunzel in the film version what they did to her in the stage version. and that just sucks. 3/5


magpa-practice tayo araw araw!

the sprite tv commercial airing locally in the philippines last december may be confusing to some, knowing there was an indian version of it (click here to watch it). sometimes when a company’s tvc from some other region becomes successful, clients either allow that tvc to air in other territories or produce a similar ad with local talents and reflecting local culture. this sprite commercial is a mixture of both.

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the gorgeous teacher, chalo apni chaal, from the original is clearly indian, with her sari costume, and the scene set in some church with vaulted doorways and stone walls. the reverse shot of the guys can pass off for the pinoy tv audience, though they are not necessarily filipino looking. we only needed to replace the shots of the teacher then.

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somewhere in the series of meetings with creative heads, it was decided we avoid situating our version in a church. i tried to find a non-sectarian location that would tie up to the high-ceiling space and big doorways of the boys’ reverse shots (and maybe nobody will notice the left side of the shot that showed the painted glass windows). i thought a backroom of some auditorium or the side of a stage could nicely pair it up without getting too left field. cinematic license if you must. some groups do use backstage areas for music rehearsals or hold workshops where music equipment are kept.





my initial inspiration for the set design was the westminster abbey in the da vinci code, which actually used the interiors of the lincoln cathedral in the movie. so i was putting the church feel and merging it with the backgstage look. sketched out the set design on my ipad for presentation.

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paper app

eventually the set design was revised to look like this (with photos of instruments scattered all over the set because i was trying to build less flats (panels) and install stage curtains on the right for illusion of depth. id have the rolling scaff as foreground as well. agency wanted me to add some filipino string instruments in the background so i added hegulungs (or kudyapi, depends on who you ask).

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refining my paper app drawing of the set design with real-world measurements by going the google sketchup route by the time we started construction. this became the color guide as well for my painters.  further reduced the number of flats in this version, thereby cutting my construction costs further down. i also utilized the actual look of the studio if ever anything would be “peeking” beyond my built set.


here’s the finished set, dressed up and lit. head carpenter (setman) is the famous abrio. on the guitars behind the drum set is cinematographer odie flores.

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we cast patricia tumulak, a pageant beauty currently groomed for binibining pilipinas, as the teacher. i hope she makes it to the top. more stills from the shoot

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production house: filmex
director: ianne co
cinematographer: odie flores
production design: benjamin padero
wardrobe stylist: carlo tabije
assistant director: kristi gallaga