Category Archives: Read!

because I love books

OMF Publishing launches Book 2 of best-selling “Ikaw Na ang Maganda” 

As someone who lives for books, I always find it a pleasure each time I am invited to a book launch. For me, this means the book publishing industry is still thriving and people still flock to the printed word – inspite the 20th century being truly wired. 

OMF Publishing, the name behind inspirational titles including “The Purpose Driven Life” series has recently launched the second book of “Ikaw Na ang Maganda” by inspirational author Malu Tiongson-Ortiz. Whereas Malou’s first book “Ikaw Na ang Maganda (How to be Beautiful Inside and Out)” tackled makeups, the second foray in the series discusses proper dressing and personal style. 

Author Malu Tiongson-Ortiz

The launch, held in a quaint cafe in BGC, served as a quick refresher on personal style. I was brave enough to share my daily uniform of ” rock concert clothes” noting how the choice of clothes really fit the personalities of those who shared their personal style. 

Tiongson-Ortiz candidly shared how she developed her personal style- something that was shaped by the various moments in her life, from dressing up to cover her depression over a failing marriage to finally discovering God and shaping her style based on her Faith. 

My thoughts 

It took me a long time to write this post because I wanted to read the book and be able to share my thoughts on it. 

I agree that dressing shouldn’t be based on what’s the “in thing” or based on the current trenss that flood the market. It should be based on your personality, what makes you stand out and what makes you unique. The clothes should be clean, pressed and presentable. After all, it really makes a lot of difference on how people respond to us based on the clothes we wear. While it may not be the latest brand or it may not cost you a fortune, as long as its clean and it brings out your best features, then you should wear it. 

This is a struggle that I can very well relate. While I am already in my 30s, my taste in clothes can be best described as “street style.” I don’t do corporate attire and was lucky enough to work in a company that lets me wear chunky black shoes with LBDs. What I try to do is dress accordingly for meetings and presentations because I want to assert myself and I wand people to not question my credibility. 

There are some parts of the book where I don’t agree, particularly on how dressing sexy “leads men to sin.” It might be because I have a different interpretation of my religion or maybe because my views are more liberal than the author. 

In the end, Tiongson-Ortiz presented valid points on appropriate dressing, which in my opinion is a life skill that should be learned and mastered not just by women but by everyone. 


Hey Jack, you’re killing the (wannabe) hipster in me

Because I am so cool (I exhale snowflakes), I attempted to finish Jack Kerouac’s “The Visions of Cody” during the Christmas break. Yes, this girl reads Kerouac, Salinger, Rice and the occasional Rowling in her spare time. (None of the S&M shit that girls my age tout as a “must read”).

(I mean, if I want porn I’ll watch it. Not read about it.)

Visions of Cody... I am still stuck on page 42!
Visions of Cody… I am still stuck on page 93!

“attempted” being the operative word because it’s already the New Year and I am still on page 93.

I know for sure that I wasn’t fazed by the continuous writing, in 10-size font. After all, I finished “On the Road” twice but I can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly is ruining my Kerouac mojo. I also have “Desolation Angels” on my bookshelf and I did get to finish it. It’s freaking Cody and the beat jazz singers and the half naked girls that seems to be bringing me to a standstill.

I brought the book out after being faced with the prospect of spending Christmas eve with the darling in-laws. Due to me not having someone to talk to in detail and in length, figured it’s an opportunity to finally finish the book that’s been gathering in the shelf in the last two years (it was a birthday gift from the hubby). So, in between spoonfuls of baked macaroni and strings of cheddar cheese, I tried to follow Dulouz as he describes the mundane in rapid, continuous beat that seems to take shape in my head. I don’t know if its the stillness of the holidays, but I have come to adapt an imaginary rhyme on how I read the words from the book…

“oh ragged sailing heart–it was far from time for Cody to be able to even want to explain his craziest secrets. Actually and no lie, Tom, I was thinking to myself what a wonderful guy this Tom Watson is really truly indeed.”

In my head, it was melodious.

Believe me there are days when I want to give up and go back to JD Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” (a favorite read every December when all the phonies are out in all their majestic glory, and thus an apt read for the season) but to forsake the novel is to say that I have given up. And that I don’t get. (Which I hate more).

A quick look on Google says it’s worth the weird beats in your head. In fact, in a review for New York Times, Aaron Latham writes, “The book may, at first, seem like a raft that has broken up–no order, no plan, everything afloat in the stream of Jack Kerouac’s consciousness. But if you can stand some disorder, you will find some of Kerouac’s very best writing in this book. It is funny, it is serious. It is eloquent. To read “On the Road” but not “Visions of Cody” is to take a nice sightseeing tour but to forgo the spectacular rapids of Jack Kerouac’s wildest writing.”

Latham says that the best strategy to read (and hopefully finish it) “…would be to read the book in bits and pieces as if it were a book of poetry rather than a continuous narrative because it simply is not a continuous narrative.”

Fine strategy which I will employ as soon as I finish this post. Not finishing this book is just so…uncool.

Can’t wait for Manila International Book Fair

Thank you Fully Booked!

I never got this excited for free tickets, well, maybe except when it’s for Incubus (which I always buy, by the way). But here it is, two tickets to the Manila International Book Fair next weekend! For a geek like me, the thought alone is enough to give me a heart attack.

I love books — I love the smell of a newly-bought book, its pages still crisp and the letters too vivid against the brownish book paper. I love old books, the pages brittle and fragile, seemingly lined with the years it spent against the shelf and between my fingertips. I loved it how reading a specially good one can make me forget of the time. At times and in between a really good story, it’s like watching a really good, really compelling movie and the only difference is that everything is unfolding only in my mind.

So while I am extremely and terribly busy right now due to an upcoming event (hence the lack of post) — I am glad there’s something to look forward to.

NOTE: I got these tickets after I spent PHP12,000 on gift cards which I intend to use as give away for upcoming company event.

Dreaming of kingdoms, dragons, fat kids, travels and a mix of adventures

I’ve always been a bookworm, and has even lamented before that being online most of the time has robbed me of the opportunity to finish books on my reading list. Whereas before I can manage to finish a book in just three day, now my bed side table is currently full of books waiting for my attention.

I recently started reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, an Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Dominican author Junot Diaz.The story tells the story of Oscar de Leon, an overweight, science fiction-reading geek with a bad stroke of luck when it comes to love. The story also gives a glimpse of the lives of Oscar’s family, his sister Lola, his mother and his grandfather. The narrative is mixed with cross references to culture and the events that happened at the Dominican Republic during the time of the dictator Rafael Trujillo during the 1930s.

image not mine

I’ve already reached the middle part of the book, going past Lola’s boyfriend dramas and the love story of Beli when I hit a sour patch in my reading and had the mistake of putting down the book. Now, it officially joined the list of unfinished books staring accusingly at me each night on the bed side table. It’s not that it’s not interesting, it is. But I got tired following the problems of Oscar that I just had to stop.

Committing that I’ll finish the book as soon as I get past my horrendous schedule two weeks ago, I vowed I’ll get back to Oscar.

That is until I made the mistake of going inside Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street and purchasing “Game of Thrones”, the first book in George RR Martin’s series “A Song of Fire and Ice”. I’ll be honest here, the reason I picked up the book is because I got inspired by the TV series. I am a big Game of Thrones fan and is seriously contemplating leaving The Hubby to join Jon Snow at The Wall (hey hun, kidding!).

I have yet to start reading it but a good friend told me to read really slow because once I devour the whole series, it’ll be painfully agonizing waiting for the next one. I know exactly how that feels, having agonized waiting for new Harry Potter books to come out. The choice to buy a fantasy novel, with knights, dragons and warring kingdoms surprised the hubby no end. After all, between the two of us, he’s the one who usually trek to the fantasy novel aisle for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and the Dragon Lance series books. I meanwhile, can be sometimes found on the cook book aisle, staring dreamily on Anthony Bourdain’s paperback eyes.

image not mine, but I wish the whole book series was!

Anyway, I wish I had the time to begin Games of Thrones. The death of Ned Stark tore my heart into two and I had to restrain myself from hurling our TV to the wall due to my hatred to that freaking bastard (literally!) King Joffrey Barantheon.

Also included in my pile of unfinished books are: “Alice in Wonderland” the Illustrated Edition by Camille Rose Garcia:

Alice in Wonderland (The Illustrated Edition by Camille Rose Garcia) – image not mine

I thumbed through this book numerous times, but unfortunately not to read the story (though I’ve read this back in elementary school) but to stare on the wicked illustrations. The art is simply wicked (literally and figuratively). How I wish I had Ms. Garcia’s talent.

I also have a lot of pages needing my attention on “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am still thinking if I wanted to continue reading that or let it stay for a very long time on that bed side table, and keep the company of Unbearable Lightness of Being and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Both books, I have been trying to finish for one hundred years but no dice. In the case of “One Hundred Years….” I always end up stopping, and choosing to pick-up a different book rather than continue reading Mr. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ opus.

It’s not like I can’t finish my books: I breezed through On the Road (my favorite novel) and I’ve JD Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” so many times that I cared to count (usually during Christmas when the population of phonies dramatically rise). The Harry Potter series (all seven of them) I managed to read five times (usually when I am bored). I breezed through Aron Ralston’s “24 Hours”, John Krakauer’s narrative of the life of Chris McCandless in “Into the Wild”, as well as Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.

For novels I call my guilty pleasure like “Gossip Girl”, “True Blood”, and the “Vampire Chronicles” — I managed to devour like gummy candies.

But the books mentioned above, oh man — I have problems finishing them. Sometimes, I even resorted to reading two or three books at the same time though that wouldn’t be wise in my opinion because sometimes I got mix up and I have to remind myself that there’s no fat kid in Eat, Pray, Love.

What about you? How do you deal with reading backlogs? And more importantly, WHAT’S ON YOUR READING LIST?

Found knowledge – Under the Overpass

The problem with having easy connection to the internet and having Momo beside me is the fact that I have forgotten to read books. I used to spend hours finishing a single book, lost in the character’s world while I travel to new places without leaving the miserable space that I call my room.

Now, I consider it a miracle if I finish a book in five days, the high stack of unread tomes in my bed side table looking at me accusingly. I can hear the books whispering, “traitor — slave to technology!” and I am almost tempted to forgo Facebooking and blogging just so I can devote time to my books once again.

That’s why I thank my sister, the Queen for lending me this book:

Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America (pic not mine)

Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America tells the story of Mike Yankoski and his friend Sam Purvis, who spent six months living on the streets of America trying their best to live as Christians and children of God while faced with drug addiction, helplessness and violence that permeated the streets of America.

Mike and Sam are both Christians who grew up in upper middle class households enjoying their life as privileged young men blessed with good education and family. Unlike the majority of the privileged in America, Mike aims to test his faith in God and his claim of good Christian living by forsaking the trappings of material wealth and seeing what it’s like to live in the streets. Armed with backpacks, a 3-dollar sleeping bag and their trusty guitars, Mike and Sam trawled the dangerous streets while panhandling (by singing worship songs) in the hopes of raising money for their everyday food as well as travel money.

They wanted to know: stripped of material wealth, can a young Christian still do what is expected of him as a believer of Christ?

“Under the Overpass” is one of the best books about the Christian faith that I’ve ever encountered my whole life. You see, I am born a Catholic and I have no intentions of changing my religious belief (my sister though converted to Christian-ism), but the lessons imparted by Mike and Sam were not bound by any denomination or religion.

Love others just as you loved yourself Isn’t this the primary teaching of Christ? That we should always try to see ourselves in others? In the book, Mike and Sam likened living in the streets to “losing your pride and dignity” — you smell horrible, you look horrible, at times you eat from the trash, you ask people for money, people don’t even look at you…it’s like you don’t exist.

I won’t be a hypocrite and say that I will start giving money to every homeless person that I see on my way to work. It might be different in America and it’s different also here in the Philippines. In fact, on my way home earlier, a little kid went up the jeepney to ask for money. The kid kept touching people’s hands and harassing us for a few coins — it was sad and annoying at the same time. You know why? this kid (about 5 years old, i think) shouldn’t be asking people for money. It’s the responsibility of the persons who created him. I did not gave a single cent because that will only encourage him to beg. It will also encourage his mom and dad to left him in the streets to earn money for them.

In the Philippines, the best way to help is to be part of a third party organization or an NGO that promotes the welfare of street kids and the homeless, like Virlanie Foundation, Bantay Bata, Golden Acres (for the elderly and destitute) and many other organizations. Do not ever give money directly to those who beg because you do not know if they are part of a syndicate or if they will really spend it on food.

This sad reality of poverty in the Philippines is what depressed the hell out of me. How can I make a difference, like Mike and Sam? After thinking about it, I realized that we become our version of ideal persons through our “neighbors” — the people around us: our parents, our siblings, co-workers, the weird neighbor down the street.

“Hello, Tony — wanna shoot the breeze?”

Holden Caulfield once said, “what really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it, and shoot the breeze”.

Well, right now after reading “Kitchen Confidential” (Adventures from the Culinary Underbelly), I was hoping I have Anthony Bourdain’s cellphone number just so that I can call him and tell him that his book is bar-none one of the best books that I’ve read so far…and being the nerd that I am, I can assure you that I’ve read quite a lot!

Bourdain doesn’t try to sound like an all-important writer — in fact, his manner of writing is very casual, relaxed and easy. If there’s one word to describe Bourdain’s manner of writing, it is relaxed and painfully honest.

Bourdain details his initial foray into cooking–how, bored with life as a college student in Vassar, he went up North to so-called “P-Town” to begin work as a dishwasher mainly to earn money to support his interest in girls and crack. He outlined his humble beginnings: from washing dishes and to serving as the “Mal Carne” (bad meat) to a rowdy yet awfully talented kitchen group in P-Town whose sheer talent astounded the young Bourdain prompting him to enrol in a culinary course at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

There is no shame in detailing his exploits, how as a young chef he immediately went for jobs that will assure him a nice salary, how he bounced from one restaurant to another, serving as an “undertaker” who buried the recesses of failed restaurants. I’ve always been a fan of Bourdain in his TV shows and I am always amazed on the success he enjoys. I always tell myself that I’d like to have Bourdain’s career. And even if I’d rather puke my heart out than eat a quivering snake heart, if Bourdain will ask him to join his team, hell–give me the heart and skin and blood — I’d make snake stew!

But through the book, Bourdain gave his avid fans (and readers) the opportunity to see his humble beginnings. He didn’t start as Bourdain, the rock star chef, he went through a lot of shit and heartbreak and misadventures before he became the ROCK STAR CHEF. What I love about this book is that after reading it, I am tempted to forsake Momo, enroll in a culinary school and begin a miserable yet exciting life as a dishwasher (with plans of moving up the line and be a line cook or patisserie by next year) 🙂 Isn’t that what a good book should give you?

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…”

that iconic line basically summarizes the story of NORWEGIAN WOOD (Noruwei no Mori) written by Haruki Murakami.

Though I have read some of Haruki Murakami’s novels (the most recent is Kafka on the Shore) — this novel holds a special place in my heart because of the title and the theme of the story. As some of you knows, I am a big fan of The Beatles–maybe in the same vein and love as that of Arashi and Incubus.

When I heard that Tran Ahn Hung is making a film adaptation of this movie, starring my favorite Japanese actor, Kenichi Matsuyama–that’s when I knew that I REALLY had to get it. What followed of course is the blind obsession to find a copy of this novel. Surprisingly, it seemed all copies disappeared at the same time just when I was looking for a copy.

Finally yesterday at Power Books Greenbelt!

I intend to start reading this as soon as I get off the cyberspace. I really miss reading. Sometimes, I feel like my reading and quiet times alone had suffered immensely ever since I got Momo and became a permanent fixture in cyberspace. I used to devour books as if they were gummy bears, but now— reading became a “hit-and-miss thing”, one which I put off when I no longer have the time.

The last book I read was “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, an account of the two year journey of Christopher “Chris” McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp) who gave up a university degree and a well-off life to live the life of an adventurer, tramping in the desolate wilds of America. Chris McCandless died in 1992 after camping for 100 days in Alaska.

I first saw the story of Chris McCandless in a movie directed by Sean Penn and starred Emile Hirsch (with a pre-Twilight Kirsten Stewart in a small role). It was truly a dream life, to travel and don’t have a care in the world–but of course, also a life marked with disappointments and danger.

Having a sister who is also very much into camping, hiking, mountain-climbing, I came across the book lying in my sister’s bedroom. It was truly an enlightening read, even as far as discussing the force the drives young people to abandon a life of privilege and comfort just for a life away from material things and the worries being in the great rat race. I understood what compelled Chris to abandon a university degree and a privileged upbringing, but there were a lot of things he did that I don’t agree.

I finished this novel three weeks ago and I hope to finish reading Norwegian Wood within the week and move on to another book. I really miss reading…I miss the adventures that go with curling up in bed, with a good book in hand.