I’ve already written about how I bought a bag from a friend’s Multiply site, but I rarely mention my other bag purchases here. It’s strange because I love bags; I’ve loved them ever since third year high school when we all started trying to bring smaller and smaller bags to school, choosing to bring armfuls of books instead of lugging about a chunky backpack. I think that trend peaked when my classmate Carisse brought a backpack the size of a wallet. Ü

These days my bags aren’t ridiculously small. However, I still hate enormous bags that make people look like it’s the bag wearing the girl and not the other way around. That’s why I love bags that are roomier than they look on the outside.

Banana Peel Kremlin Body Bag When I switched to Fitness First gyms earlier this year, it was around the time I realized I had to replace my ratty gym bag. So, for my birthday I bought myself a Kremlin Body Bag (pictured here) from the Banana Peel outlet in Greenhills Theatre Mall. I thought at first that I had made a mistake and gotten one that was too small, but over time I learned to pack my gym things more efficiently. This bag can hold a change of clothes and shoes, a bath towel, a pair of flip-flops, shampoo/conditioner and facial soap, cologne, a wallet, and a cellphone, with room to spare for other miscellaneous items. I can even slip my water bottle into one of the belt loops outside the bag. This little trooper has seen me through countless daily workouts and intense practice sessions, and it’s only given out on me once — when I really overstuffed the bag and caused the lining to tear slightly near the zipper. Ü It was a steal, too, at a little over P500.

Banana Peel Avenue Hobo Bag I also found this cute Avenue Hobo Bag at Banana Peel, going at a 30% discount. I was carrying a very roomy bag one workday when on the spur of the moment my friends invited me to go out later that night. I needed a smaller bag to minimize the hassle of bag searches at malls and establishments. Although it looks small, this bag can hold two cellphones, a bottle of eau de toilette, comb, lipgloss and eyeliner, a big wallet, keys, and a large hair clip (!!!). I love it!

I definitely can’t survive without a bag because I don’t have pockets and usually drop stuff I carry in my hand. With these bags, I can just drop my things into them and go. Ü

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Last Call for Alcohol

I got drunk on Christmas morning.

No, this wasn’t a liquid breakfast. After noche buena we popped open a bottle of Freixenet spumante for everyone. That’s sparkling white wine with a 12% alcohol content.

I rarely drink; in fact, the last time I had more than one glass of an alcoholic beverage was back in June at Coco Beach, when I attempted to take on a margarita and a rhum citrus cooler in one sitting. I stop when I my perception of the world changes, which is usually 2/3 of the way through my first drink. I also can’t hold my liquor: instead of starting to act loose and unhibited, after one drink I start to feel lightheaded and sleepy. And since I drive myself whenever I go out with friends, I can’t take the chance of being impaired at the wheel.

Well, we celebrated Christmas at home, and among family I felt safe to conduct a little experiment. I wanted to see how I might act should I get drunk. So, after announcing to my sister and cousins what I was planning to do, I polished off a glass of spumante in 15 minutes then poured myself another one. And another.

I noticed that I had the tendency to run my mouth, although since at the time I was analyzing my own reaction to the alcohol I kept talking about myself. Meanwhile, I started to feel like my head was balanced on a stick and likely to get knocked off at any time.

I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and after I’d relieved myself went to go sit near my sister on one of our throw rugs in the family room. I was already feeling drowsy at the time, so I decided to sleep some of the alcohol off.

By the time I woke up, our relatives had just left and I felt like I’d missed out on the rest of the party.

So, that’s it; that’s the last time I drink that much. I may not be a happy drunk or an amorous drunk or a nasty drunk, but being a sleepy drunk is just as bad. Ü

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Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Well, not this house, that’s for sure. Ü Christmas Eve celebrations in this extended family are drawn-out affairs, with the requisite chatter, laughter, and food consumption that goes with trying to keep awake until 12am when tradition dictates a noche buena feast be had. Nobody here waits until morning to distribute and open presents, either. Last year and this year I played party host and in-house Magus, handing gifts around to their recipients.

Occasions like Christmas, New Year, and when the grandparents are in town are the only times we all really come together under one roof, and last night I realized that we all haven’t been seeing each other as often as we should. The proof lies in my receiving clothes I can’t wear because they’re too big. It hadn’t registered with them how much weight I’d really lost over the past six months. (I could joke that I’ve lose a whole toddler’s worth of weight, but it doesn’t sound wholesome. Ü)

We used to have bigger parties, but as nuclear family units moved to distant provinces and the grande padre y madre de familia moved to Bacolod to take care of my bereaved uncle’s children, the celebrations haven’t been the same. They’ve become less about making merry and more about getting re-connected with the rest of the family. Every Christmas I am reminded that family is a gift. Every year, the people are the same, but one year older. My aunts and uncles have wrinkles! My younger cousins are growing up! I’m of a marriageable age!

I’ve got so much to be thankful for; this whole year, with its highs and lows, has been a gift in itself. I learned so much about myself in such a short span of time, and that’s never a bad thing. Ü The New Year is only seven days away, and since I won’t be around that weekend, I’m going to sit here right now and write, off the top of my head, what I have to be thankful for this year.

  • Losing weight. Woohoo! I cannot believe it actually happened, but I am so grateful that it did. I still have ten to 15 pounds to go and a slight tendency to yo-yo, but it’s such a weight off my shoulders (pun may not be unintended) and a boost to my self-confidence to be in shape after trying so hard for such a long time.
  • Graduating. After 19 years, I finally got out of jail school. I’m still not sure what these degrees are for, but I’m sure God will put them to good use in his own time. Hopefully, next year.
  • Landing my first job. Although I miss having free time, I suppose I should be thankful that I’m now a woman with sort of independent means and that I’m not just mooching off my parents. I think that having this experience has helped me get honest with myself about what I really want in life, and it’s made me think deeply about what I am willing to do in order to get it. Passion is key in succeeding in and enjoying anything we do, and if we don’t have that, what’s the point? It’s like prisoners moving rocks from one end of the yard to the other, and then back again.

I hope and pray for God’s blessing for all of us in the last days of this year and in the coming year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to us all!

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I’ve Been Superblessed!

Ganns is one of my favorite bloggers. Writing about topics from music to movies to simple family joys, each post of his shows an infectious joy in Christ that’s hard to resist.

Every year Ganns posts The Superblessed Christian Blog Award Winners, a list of the Christian blogs that have blessed him. This year, I was surprised to open my Bloglines subscription page and read my name and blog link in one of Ganns’s posts.

Most Enjoyable Female Filipino-Christian Blog.
In My Pocket. Noelle has been a favorite of mine for years, and this particular year, I’ve seen her grow so much in her faith and her life that I naturally can’t help but be encouraged. I know God will use her even more as He molds her, and In My Pocket will detail that growth to encourage and satisfy other Christian believers. Good job living that life, Noelle.

I’m flattered and humbled to know that my posts, fluff or not, are read and enjoyed by someone I respect not just as a blogger, but also as a person. Thanks, Ganns. Ü

Bringing 80’s Back

Just a while ago I was in Promenade in Greenhills during my lunch break. I seem to have missed some sort of teenager bulletin (no surprises because I haven’t been a teenager in four years) that required all the kids to converge in that one small edifice. The holiday break seems to have started already, since these kids weren’t in their school uniforms. They were, however, still in some kind of uniform as they all seemed to be wearing retro-80’s clothing. Tights under skirts, short tops over long shirts, flats and Converses, stripes, polka dots, Day-Glo colors — I couldn’t help feeling a little un-trendy in my denim capris, spaghetti top, and sandals.

I can’t blame the young’uns for taking advantage of any opportunity to wear street clothing instead of their usual staid uniforms. (I used to do the same thing even though it meant looking like a fashion victim most of the time.) It’s just a happy coincidence that these kids are all in their 80’s-inspired wear on the same day that Magic 89.9 is throwing an 80’s-themed concert at Eastwood City, with Gary Valenciano as the marquee performer. Part of the event’s gimmick is a costume contest that challenges people to come in their best 80’s clothes to win some swag; if those kids are planning to take their duds out to party tonight, Eastwood City would be the place. The funny thing is, none of them were alive yet when the clothes and music making a comeback were in vogue.

I grew up in the 1980’s but I don’t really remember much of the music distinctly, aside from songs by Gary V, Michael Jackson, and Jem and the Holograms (hahaha). My parents were more of the classical-music people. I only heard Madonna, Debbie Gibson, the Miami Sound Machine, and others while watching Classic MTV and films from the decade, although now that I’m hearing them played on the radio they do seem very familiar; I think I’m familiar with them through osmosis. At least now I’m getting to experience some of what I missed back in the day.

But yikes! I am old if a fashion and music era I lived through is coming back around.

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Noelle La Fea

Up until last Saturday, I looked like this:

I feel pretty and... you know the rest of it

Today, though, I look like this:

Noelle La Fea

Why the change, you may ask? (And it’s a pretty drastic one to transform from Andy Sachs of The Devil Wears Prada into Betty la Fea.)

I got green colored contact lenses for my birthday last July and had no problems with them until October, when the left lens suddenly developed a deformity on its curved surface, irritating my eye. I got a replacement for it, but the same thing happened three weeks later. I got a different kind of colored lens (same brand though) four weeks ago, but the problem reoccurred. Frustrated, I decided to give contact lenses a rest. I also needed a new pair of eyeglasses, so I went out and got these. Supposedly, dark-colored thick plastic eyeglass frames are the in thing this year, but God help you if you are ugly girl you are prone to making silly faces or have a naturally goofy grin.

I’m giving up on the colored contact lenses, but I’ll have new clear disposable contact lenses by next week. Meanwhile, my officemates, family, and friends may enjoy having Noelle La Fea around. I don’t mind getting laughs out of this look. Ü I can always show them that I can look like this (read more about this picture at the Man Blog):

Noelle for The Man Blog

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Body Jam 39 Sneak Preview

Last Friday I gave an MP3 CD compilation to Clark, my hiphop instructor on Monday mornings at 6:30am. He’s been looking for new music for our classes, so in a way this also benefits me. I helped him import them to the iTunes on his laptop.

Clark also happens to be one of the two program heads for BodyJam here in the Philippines. (In fact he was one of the judges at the audition for instructor training last September.) So, his iTunes had a BodyJam playlist. And it wasn’t just any playlist: it was the list of songs for the upcoming release 39, to be launched in mid- to late December 2006. I ribbed him about getting a sneak peek at it and he just laughed at me and said it was too bad he’d ruined the element of surprise.

Anyway, since the launch is coming up it’s been increasingly easy to find sneak peeks into BodyJam 39. The tracklist has been posted to the many different Les Mills and BTS message boards, so at least I know what kind of music we’re in for — and what dancing styles are involved. DON’T LOOK IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS! You’ve been warned. Ü


  1. Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
  2. Isolations

  3. Buttons – The Pussycat Dolls
  4. BollyJam

  5. Mundian To Bach Ke – Panjabi MC
  6. The Power Of Bhangra (vs. Motivo) – Snap!
  7. Reggaeton

  8. Hips Don’t lie – Bamboo – Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean
  9. Latin

  10. Boom Boom – Chayanne
  11. Recovery

  12. Deja vu – Beyonce feat. Jay Z
  13. Dance4Life

  14. Mesmerized – Faith Evans
  15. Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake
  16. S.O.S. – Rihanna
  17. London Bridge (Oh Shh) – Fergie
  18. Dance4Life – Tiesto feat. Maxi Jazz
  19. Love Sensation ’06 – Loleatta Holloway
  20. Groove Down

  21. I’ll Do 4 U – Father M.C.

From this playlist there are a lot of dance styles in this release (and a mix of old and new songs!). Turns out that Les Mills is now affiliated with Dance4Life, the global campaign against HIV/AIDS, and that this release has a special track mixed by DJ Tiesto, who is the campaign’s ambassador and a famous club music DJ. The style of the main cardio block (Dance4Life) might be “contemporary club,” like we had in BodyJam 38 because it doesn’t look like there’s a strong hiphop component aside from the “Sexy Back” and “S.O.S.” dance rehearsal tracks. Fellow BodyJam fanatics surmise that the moves set to this music in BodyJam choreographer Gandalf Archer‘s YouTube video of their Euro Summit demo could be very similar to what we’ll encounter in release 39.

For more about BodyJam 39, check out the official Les Mills sizzler. I’ve also found some videos on YouTube of BodyJam master trainers Kylie Gates and Tracy Minnoch at a Les Mills workshop showing off the new moves. Check out the isolation track and the BollyJam track: they look like fun! I’ll be studying these clips in preparation for Kylie Gates’ special class at Fitness First Ortigas on Wednesday; I’ve been told we’ll get a taste of this release there. Ü I can’t wait!

UPDATE (December 13, 2006): BodyJam with Kylie was awesome! After starting us off with the warm-up combo from release 38, she said, “Let’s do something different.” And then the strains of Punjabi MC’s “Mundian To Bach Ke” started blasting through the speakers. BollyJam! We also did the two Latin tracks off release 39, and after the recovery track (Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious” from release 37), Kylie taught us the Dance4Life block. Our groove-down, “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac, came from release 38.

My initial reaction to what we sampled from release 39 was excitement and delight, particularly when we were doing BollyJam. It brought back my memories of the Nike Rockstar Workout Bollywood competition, even more so because I had just received a CD of our pictures from there.

The BollyJam block ended rather abruptly, though. The Latin block was also too short, building up but then failing to hit a climax before ending. I guess we’ve been spoiled by the long and elaborate Latin block from release 38. As for the Dance4Life cardio block, it was fun to learn, but I think it’ll take me a few more classes before I can actually party to the music. I love the spins and turns in the choreo, though. The “London Bridge” crump segment in the middle of the Dance4Life block was puzzling because it didn’t really add anything to the choreography and felt like it was tacked-on just to have one more Top 40 song in the mix.

I’m glad I was able to keep up with the choreography and minimized any mess-ups; I was in the second row right in front of Kylie and didn’t want to embarrass myself. Ü I’m excited for the launch so I can see the release in its entirety.

SPECIAL UPDATE: I noticed I’m getting a lot of hits not just for BodyJam tracklist search queries, but also for the tracklists of other Les Mills programs. There’s a fantastic resource out there called Totally Les Mills, an unofficial site run by Mel, a certified LM instructor. It not only has the tracklists of all LM programs (BodyJam, BodyCombat, BodyPump, BodyStep, BodyAttack, BodyFlow/BodyBalance, RPM) from the time they went international with their releases, but also has news about these programs and information on how to become an instructor.

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Deranged Office Girl Seeks Internet Connection

We thought we had been spared from Typhoon Durian (Reming), the super-typhoon that was supposed to hit Metro Manila but instead hit Bicol and other southern provinces. The typhoon is already off to Vietnam, but it seems it’s also still wreaking havoc here in our office.

While I commiserate and sympathize with the people who suffered most from the typhoon’s devastation, I’ve really got to say something about the misery caused by not having an Internet connection at the office. Shallow? Yes. Insensitive? Maybe. But really, I’ve got work to do on our websites and web presence and I’ll be damned if I let a typhoon get in my way.

I think for maintenance reasons our ISP decided to switch off its servers prior to the typhoon hitting, but now can’t seem to restore proper service to its DSL clients. It’s even worse than the way things were back in the early 1990’s internet scene here in the Philippines. At least then, computers still had dial-up modems — never mind that they connected at (the relatively snail-pace rate of) 28.8 kbps. Our desktops have LAN cards, but no dial-up modems to speak of! Ü
Right now, I’m in a Netopia cafe here in Greenhills answering emails and checking Friendster and Myspace (*ahem* that’s part of my job description, actually) on the company dime. There used to be a time (long before my time) when this company conducted all its intra- and inter-office communications through fax and computer print-outs and actual door-to-door messenger services, but in this age of email and high-speed Internet connections it’s easier to fire off one email CC’ed to several people, or to email high-resolution photos to the press instead of getting prints made and then having those delivered.

I didn’t realize how much took our ISP for granted until this happened — especially since the job I’m trying to define for myself relies so much on being online. It’s gotten so bad that I’m actually looking for work to do. I was able to complete creating a database and writing a report; alas, the lack of internet access means I’ll have to wait until God-knows-when to send those files to my supervisors. Or we could always use floppy disks (so 1990’s!).

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