i don't think i've recently been this busy in the space of one weekend, but immediately after the triathlon, we stopped by meat plus to recover the calories we burned at the race, although i think i largely ate on our athletes' behalf, since i ate more than they did. and since we were in subic, we had a mandatory stop at the groceries for some imported goods. i stuffed my basket with muesli (and damn good tasting muesli, at that!), beef jerky, a pan greaser, and yummy protein bars since you don't get these brands locally. no chocolates! haha.
the trip back home was uneventful despite the strong rains that crisscrossed the SCTex. i dozed off to sleep a few times, but don just patiently ran at an average of 100kph. just as we arrived in manila (and if you've just gone through SCTex and NLex, it won't be such a surprise if you say that these expressways don't feel like manila at all since balintawak was an ugly choke point), roy invited us for dinner at tong yang hotpot in jupiter. the last time i had hotpot was in SG, which was like 11 years ago, with friends from vietnam. previous to that, me and my friends went to tong yang along quezon avenue after our graduation at UP CAL. and both experiences have always been less than stellar because i can't cook without a complete set of herbs and spices, or my idea of good food isn't exactly floating in soup! but hey, roy was treating, so i went!
all these raw ingredients beautifully laid out in these metal dishes all looked delectable, and the tendency is to just fill your plate with everything. but that spells disaster because certain ingredients only work with a handful of others. if you put too many things in one pot, you're bound to have something that tastes pretty weird. but the barbecues we're okay and i cleaned my plate. roy apparently is a mainstay here and the waiters know him. so we had good service, slightly better cooking, and great company. anytime it's free, i'd gladly go back to tong yang.
don and roy at tong yang | mike and mico at tonio's grill
immediately after that gastronomic indulgence, i flew to QC late in the evening to see 3 of my high school friends who'd decided to have a small get-together. i always regret not seeing these guys as often as i should, and they're very different from the time we left tricol in 1993. i think about half of my high school batchmates is abroad, working as IT professionals or nurses. i belong to this generation when nursing was so in-demand that it seemed the most natural course to pursue, and it suddenly encountered a slump whence many of my batchmates took on weird jobs before nursing was back in currency and they all fled the country. so our homecomings are always thin and poorly attended. i wonder whether this is one of the reasons why i'm getting hits from all these countries in europe and the USA. my former classmates must be stalking me! haha.
anyway, immediately after, and by this time i've already had about a bottle of korean vodka (from bamboo, i'm not sure) and 5 beers since the chimay at meat plus in subic, i decided rather belatedly to attend karl's gossip girl themed birthday bash in century park. i sent him a text message saying i have never seen an episode of gossip girl, although everyone's talking about it. i don't have television, and even if i had, i probably won't get cable, so i'd still be ignorant and the daily greeting "good morning upper east siders" wouldn't mean a thing to me. and i'm anti-fashion, anti-trend, anti-establishment, so it all felt so alien to me. i asked if i could come as i am, he said yes, so i grabbed the first t-shirt in my closet, slung my camera over my shoulder, and ran to manila.
the gossip girl cast | beautiful people at the balcony
when i entered the room, i felt i was clearly out of my comfort zone. people, including my friend jenny, was in all-out costume. so this is gossip girl, i thought, and karl directed me to slides being projected onto a wall. the fashions! haha. besides, i belong to a different age group, probably a completely different persuasion, and other than jenny, i only knew 4 other people: the birthday boy, glenn, eric, and johnnie boy. nevertheless, i'm rarely the type to fade into a wallflower in any party, and despite this feeling of being a stranger in a strange land, i was introduced to nearly everyone (though i probably forgot most of their names, and they forgot mine as well), and had casual conversations. i kept repeating to people that i saved karl's life.
that story may be partly embellished, but if jenny, janice and i weren't with karl and eric at camiguin, they would have been in deep deep trouble along the slopes of mount hibuk-hibuk, so in a way, saying that i saved his life isn't such a stretch, even if i didn't pull him out of a crevice, or got him out of the path of careening bus. the fact that my presence took him out of harm's way is sufficient. and the things we talked about on our way down that volcano. it ranged from michel foucault to the changing concept of luxury.
these are gossip girl fashions and scenes
so despite these observations, i did have a lot of fun at the party. after some time, johnnie boy relieved me of my heavy camera and started shooting everyone and everything! he took i think between 200 to 250 of the 300 plus photos from that party. it was pretty well attended, by fabulous, beautiful young people, and karl seemed very very happy. hehe. i even choreographed some shots with people who were all too willing to show me sexy, show me desire, show me lust. i love people who channel the inner slut in them. once again, that song "i kissed a girl and i liked it" played in my mind.
the party was beginning to lower in volume at around 5am, and i was supposed to rush over to the milo marathon which was going to take place at luneta, but it was raining and my purpose of documenting it quickly fizzled, so i just decided to stay at the hotel and wait for the rain to stop. it didn't, so at around 6:30am, i went down to the hotel lobby, took a cab, and went home. i still had to be in QC at 10am, so i quickly took a nap.
i woke up a little later at 9:30am. george, beng and i are godparents to janet's daughter janamarie, and we confirmed our attendance at her first birthday party in angeles city pampanga. besides, my present was a slideshow of jana's photos. i did finishing touches inside george's car while we were traveling along NLex, and we arrived at angeles just in time.
my pretty inaanak jana: will she grow up to be like her mom?
jana's birthday was held at a grand hall filled with balloons. children's parties are getting more and more expensive! they had us sign this book, and i wrote: dear jana, you'll probably be able to understand this in a few years... haha. the food was okay, although i would have preferred local fare, and jana's parents were beaming and blooming. when i first saw janet, i was just happy to see her after all these weeks, then i noticed something, so i had to ask: are you pregnant again? she apparently is. and for 5 months now. i don't think i haven't seen her that long, so i wonder why she never told me. like she never even told me she gave birth to jana until after she was already about a month old! but i'm excited for both of them. jana is the prettiest little angel i have seen lately, so the next one (it's going to be a boy), will be a bundle of joy i'm sure.
the party was over at around 2:30pm, and i was back in manila before 5pm. i planned to still do a few things, like run a few kms, go home to QC, but then, lacking sleep and with alcohol running through my bloodstream, i fell on the bed and woke up monday. haha. so my weekend took me from trinoma to subic to makati to QC to manila and finally back to makati. and all these despite having had a bad cough and a runny nose for a week now. i hate this feeling when you think you're going to get sick, and you don't, so you just have all these awful symptoms for several days. i think i'll go get myself some berocca.