cleaning up 2016

spent my last few days of vacation cleaning my mother’s house. well, our house in the province. threw out so many things that were mindlessly stuffed away when they could have been disposed of in the first place or have been organized properly so one may realize that there’s too much of the same thing salvaged. so i have made myself busy, yes.


sporting my grandfather’s hipster glasses. he passed away in 1986. may his glasses live on.

threw out empty boxes (gift boxes, appliance boxes saved, old whatever boxes still alive and unrecycled) stashed everywhere and succeeded in taking old books out of the house. i was able to have my termite-infested bedroom closet removed and in the process, organized everything that were stashed in them. it’s tricky to get my mother to let go of old clothing or her plastic containers. small victories though. easily convinced her i throw away expired stuff like medicine and medical supplies, food, and makeup.

my father’s stuff hasnt been properly sorted through since he died 3 years ago. i kinda went over a few things and with his worktable alone ive already stuffed one sack for disposing. his work area would require a lot of time to organize and dispose/donate/whathaveyou. ill do that in june when i get back.


essentially my childhood in 3+ plastic crates. 

as a packrat, it’s a miracle to have reduced my stuff and keeping just this amount of memorabilia. and it’s awesome to still have the book on airplanes gifted to you at 4 years old or that greeting card your dad sent you from the US during the ’84 olympics. apparently they still give me joy so im keeping them.

my vacation is short-lived and tomorrow i will have to fly back to manila. i hope ill do better cleaning katipunan since im there 90% of the year anyway. looking forward to more cleaning in 2017.


brutalist architecture? or just no budget for a paintjob? lol 


ive recently deactivated my social media accounts (facebook, instagram, twitter). it’s that time of year again when i find the need to purge myself from too much narcissism, negativity, and unenlightened commentary. also that since facebook isnt free on mobile internet it eats up my data plan too fast. and the whole political circus in the philippines has driven the last nail.

i cant be labeled as hipster/millenial, mainly because i missed out on a few years to be included in the demographic. and im not part of the generation X, whose label i found so cool i wished i was born a little earlier. however, i live in this generation where the need to post things publicly has assimilated into my cultural being, this 80s kid who lived through childhood without internet and cellphones. and survived!

hence, here i am posting this blog post. im still alive. im just in social media limbo. cheers!


wanderlust: milan


a lot of the shops around milan were closed when we arrived. walking down their streets, we wondered where everyone went. we learned later on from our airbnb host that everyone was on vacation because it was summer. whut? may panahon pa magbakasyon ang mga tao? ika nga ni little mermaid, “what would i give to live where you are?” sa ekonomiya ng pinas di afford ng workforce magsara ng business for a few months kasi magbabakasyon sila. major na-inggit ako. not that i dont take vacations, i do. but my travels is the exception, not the norm. hayy


the main goal in our decision to go to milan was to see the last supper by da vinci. do not even bother walking into the ticket office without a reservation because it is almost impossible getting a ticket that way. the slots are normally booked and sold out for months and there are very few cancellations, ive been told. i checked for tickets online via select italy at 22 euros each (although cheaper at the official website at 10 euros plus reservation but tickets run out fast) and learned the only available date within our stay in italy was september 1. at 6.30PM. other tour companies also offered tickets but the prices would have doubled. so i changed our itinerary to accomodate that last supper schedule, booked for tickets, and cut down the days we would stay in rome so we could catch da vinci’s masterpiece there. it did not disappoint. you can only stay for 15 minutes at a time though. did not realize it was so big, a whole wall in fact. years of being exposed to the elements plus the fact that da vinci used a dry plaster technique to this resulted in its current faded state. there have been restorations done but yeah, it is what it is now. yet still powerful.


so after going to the last supper at the maria dela grazie chapel in milan, we basically had no other plans lined up here. it was kinda winging it as we walked around milan. one of the pleasant surprises was the triennale in milan. the last time the triennale expo opened in milan was around 20 years ago so this year’s expo was highly anticipated. tickets allowed you to visit all exhibits in various venues around the city. was so much fun.



this marble floor in the triennale was one of the most gorgeous marble floors ive seen in my life! and im not a fan of marble in the first place. so many colors, so many hues, so much texture and character. for marble!


beautiful gold mannequin shelves evoking a retro future whatever. and that red leather upholstered interior of a mirrorized giant helmet. pak! just looking at it, napapasigaw ako ng viva italia!




this humongous permanent installation of works by anselm kiefer at the pirelli hangarbicocca is a collection of those towers and large format paintings now called as the seven heavenly places. overwhelming and drop-jaw gorgeous.


one of the many large-format paintings permanently installed at the pirelli hangarbicocca

it pays to do research before traveling. bloggers have talked about the long lines at the last supper and advised to get tickets way way ahead online. so i did and we just went to the designated time and swoosh. we were in. the other thing i learned was that the museums were free on the first sunday of the month. and sept 2 was a sunday and we were in milan. so i figured it would be the best time to go to the pinacoteca de brera, one of the biggest museums in milan.


one of the famous paintings in the roster of the brera is andrea mantegna’s the lamentation of christ. while the gallery displayed other dead christ masterpieces in that same with mantegna’s, this famous painting was lauded for the unusual foreshortening of the body of christ, aside from the masterful techniques in painting done by the artist.


detail of mantegna’s dead christ


detail of another famous painting in the brera, francesco hayez’s the kiss.

and still, another door knocker photo. i have tons actually. so enthralled by this. grotesque or gorgeous, they greet you the first thing you come up a door. and such an interesting welcome. this one looks like the flying monkeys elpheba made in oz. defying gravity, i say.


pics in the duomo. we didnt bother going in and up already. all this traveling has made us wiser in choosing our battles. and going up another flight of stairs is one for the young-er, not ours. we’d rather enjoy the view from down at the square. lol. this was probably taken our 6pm. or 7. people in europe is having too much day time on their hands.



gorgeous architectural detail all around. so fascinating to see and experience. i wish we had a teacher traveling with us. or if it were an architectural history class tour and just go round the old city and identifying each detail and what it’s called and its origins. lovely lovely lovely. i shifted out of studying architecture but i never lost my love for buildings. and europe has the motherload of monumental, intricately designed buildings. you reach a point where it gets confusing if it’s renaissance or baroque but they are all still so gorgeous.


more photos will be uploaded in the milan facebook photodump album. up next is venice. wohoo venice!

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…