Remembering 9/11

I guess the biggest injustice we and the future generation can do against those who perished in this tragedy is to forget about and pay very little attention to it as years pass by.

I am not American. I have never set foot in the United States and don’t really have any major connection the country aside from knowing that the Americans were our former colonial masters. Filipinos are also quite Americanised and very much in tune to their society because of TV and Hollywood. But other than having a couple of American friends and wanting to see New York someday, I don’t really have a major emotional investment in the country.

However, I do remember where I was on September 11, 2001 when news broke out that a plane hit one of the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Followed by another plane. Then news broke out that there’s yet another one that crashed into the Pentagon followed by the last plane that crashed in field in Pennsylvania.

It took a while for everyone to connect the dots. Everyone was blinded. Later on, we all found out that the 4 commercial planes were hijacked and intentionally crashed as a terror attack on the US and the last one was actually intended for the Capitol or the White House but it crashed into a field after the passengers fought the hijackers.

I remember hearing the news late at around 10 in the evening, Manila time. I was 12 years old and about to go to bed. We were watching the news and scenes from New York, one of my dream cities to visit, showed chaos and burning towers. Journalists were reporting from the streets and talking to people covered in soot and blood, running away from the devastation.

Photo from State of the Nation. An image that will forever haunt the people who were watching the news on September 11, 2001.

I was crying because I was scared and I felt so much pity for the people who were running, not knowing where to go and because I had some sort of inkling that there were thousand of people who might die – those were offices after all. I was right. Later on, it was reported that over 3000 people perished in the tragedy. The people who initiated the attack felt that they won. But at that time, I believed otherwise.

I went to bed after my mom pulled the plug on the telly but I wasn’t able to sleep right. I turned the TV on again as soon as the sun started peeking through my window and with my glasses on, I watched what happened next. Smoke, rubble, and people trying to dig out survivors from the fallen towers. Footage from the night before of firemen carrying injured people out of the burning Pentagon.

I remember seeing this photo everywhere in 2001. Taken during then-US President George W. Bush’s reading of a story book to school children and one of his people comes up to him to tell him the news that a plane hit one of the towers. Photo from Life Magazine.

I went to school upset and those scenes never left my mind. They scared me and made me care about what was happening in another part of the world that’s physically far from me but at that moment, I felt so close to it. I remember running to the grade school library during lunch and recess to ask my grade school librarian, Mrs Guevarra, to let me use her television. And together, we watched more cable news. She asked me: “So you still want to become a journalist after seeing that? It’s so dangerous what they’re doing!” and I told her that that’s precisely why I want to become one I want to be the one telling people what was happening and why. I want to know first.

While there were photos showing blood and gore, I think what got to me most were the simpler photos that said so much without being too loud. Photo from the New York Times.

For days, I found myself crying in front of the television. No, I didn’t know those people but I knew they did not deserve to die like that. I was hearing excerpts of last phone calls, seeing videos of people falling from the buildings, there were photos of dead people with loved ones crying over them splashed on broadsheets.

Their deaths were not in vain, however. In the next days and months the world saw a people united more than ever, telling their government that they want justice. I don’t know what Osama Bin Laden was thinking at that time but if it were me, I would have felt that I’ve woken an angry dragon up.

What’s more touching are the firemen, the police, and the volunteers that didn’t leave ground zero until all survivors were pulled out of the rubble. Photo from NBC News.

Movies were made, documentaries were filmed, features on news broadcasts and tributes were aired. We don’t hear about 9/11 as much nowadays. It’s been over a decade after all. But to me, that was one of the biggest turning points in modern history and one of the events in my late childhood that I will always remember. (Further Reading: Time Magazine’s If You Want to Humble an Empire)

Later on, in Journ school, I was discussing 9/11 to my Sociology professor. We were having a healthy debate on what drives people to commit such atrocities. The discussion went back to ideals, to a bit of history. From the US’ involvement in the wars in the Middle East, to lifestyle, to oil, conflicting ideals. Which made me realise that it’s not something you can just learn in a day. It’s a very complex matter which a lot of people tried to simplify in the past couple of years but still, it remains to be a tangled, complicated issue that only saddens me more as the issue is directly related to conflict in different parts of the world where men, women, and children are dying. I am strongly against the death of innocents and I believe we no longer live in a world where it’s always ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. (Further reading: Osama Bin Laden’s Letter to the American People)

The biggest injustice will be to forget the lessons we learned. Photo from CBS New York.

My husband and I also discuss the matters of the Middle East over dinner (and sometimes goes all the way to before going to sleep) every now and then and though we’ve been at it for ages, I somehow feel that there is still so much more to learn and understand. Sometimes we end up with opposing personal views on certain matters (Why is it like this? What should be done for it to be okay? How will peace be achieved?) but still, there are facts to guide us. ‘The conflict brought about by differences, the changing worlds, and inevitable coexistence’ as I like to call it in my head.

While conspiracy reports remain, Osama Bin Laden was reported to have been killed in a US special operation in 2011. America rejoiced but I guess they’ve already learned from the past. They knew it wasn’t over and they knew that it’s not just Bin Laden who disagrees with their policies. There are more groups, more leaders.

When will it end? Photo from NBC News.

Today, some countries in the Middle East are still locked internal conflict. There’s Syria, there’s Israel and Palestine, and then there’s the ISIS in Iraq. News reports say that difference in ideals, clashing beliefs, and political interests are playing a major role in the matter. Two American journalists were beheaded by ISIS, a group that has been reported to be doing ethnic and religious cleansing in the region, as a message to the US ‘to stop meddling’ in the Middle East. And just a couple of hours ago, US President Barack Obama addressed his people and announced a major expansion in their military campaign against the group, saying: “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Sometimes, you start to wonder: Will it ever end? Thirteen years from now, will we remember the people that were reportedly killed by ISIS and the historical monuments as well as places of worship of other religions that were reportedly destroyed by the group? There won’t be anniversary for the deaths of the Shiite Muslims, the Yazidis, and other ethnic groups who chose not to convert even at gunpoint.

I always talk about how remembering the past makes sure that you learn from your mistakes. And once this is all over, I can only hope that events will be remembered so that the future generations, despite differences in race, religion, and lifestyle, won’t have to resort to killing each other.

And while the New York skyline was forever changed by the tragedy of 2001 and there are no more plans of building new towers in ground zero as it has been turned into a memorial. I like how the Americans made sure that their future generations and everyone else in the world will never forget. Photo by Ryan D. Budhu, Happeningmag.

Nowadays, the New York skyline looks so different and I guess people have gotten used to not seeing the towers anymore. However, it is impossible for New Yorkers to ever forget September 11, 2001. The ‘Tribute in Light’ shines all night every September 11 since 2002. In 2008, the US announced that they will stop the tribute as an end to their nation’s mourning but it went on after and they said that it should continue well up to the tragedy’s tenth anniversary – 2011. However, it’s already 2014 and the Tribute in Light is still repeated yearly to commemorate what happened. I don’t think the US is still mourning the 3,000 people that died that day. I personally don’t agree with people who say that the tribute should be stopped so that they can move on. I think it’s nice to remember. To pause for a while and think about what happened. To examine ourselves how far we’ve come from that day when we heard the news that shook the entire world. And to reflect on how the conflict the brought about the death of thousands of lives in the West and the Middle East can finally be solved.

You wouldn’t want to lose your home or your livelihood, would you? And you wouldn’t want to leave your children orphaned. Right? Photo from Galleryhip.

But I’m no expert on the matter and maybe people who know better will want to shoot me for this. After all, I’m just a regular girl from Asia who’s dabbled in journalism and loves to watch the news. And while I don’t have a personal stake on the matter, I do care.  I am not Muslim nor American. I admit that sometimes, it’s hard not to pick a side. Especially when you see children dying and people losing their homes and livelihood due to conflict. Everyone deserves a place to call their home where they can practice their own religion and I do care about people even though they are different from me. I have learned to respect their own beliefs and the way they live even if I know if I were in their position, it would not work for me. I know that I am anti violence and I always will be. I know conflict and wars might be seen as an effective tool for certain people to get what they want. But at the end of the day, we all lose when the blood of our brothers and sisters (no matter what their race or religion is) is spilled, when children are orphaned, and when people are stripped of their homes and livelihood. We win with peace that’s achieved through peace. It might be slow, yes. But at least we’ll all sleep a little better at night, don’t you think?

More yapping later.

Peace and love,

Carol

PS. The views and comments in this post do not represent the views of the Philippine government or that of my husband’s. This is purely personal.

Foodie Adventures: Gelatomio

I’m a huge fan of gelato. I always say that when it comes to gastronomic pleasures, we shouldn’t really mind shelling out money (as long as it’s within our means) and gelato, which admittedly is more expensive than regular ice cream, is counted as one of those pleasures in my book. After all, one of the main things we need to survive is food so might as well indulge every now and then, right?

Just wanted to share my current favourite gelato place here in KL: Gelatomio. They serve Italian milk-based ice cream that’s 95% fat free while water-based flavours are at 99%. All their flavours come from natural ingredients with no preservatives. Knowing these makes me feel less guilty over indulging on dessert. ;)

Ok, photo’s a bit lopsided. Didn’t notice before the upload but you get the picture. Geddit? Haha. It’s kind of a huge kiosk in front of cotton on with it’s own seating area.

Over the last couple of weekends, my husband and I decided to sit around and eat some gelato after a loooong day of walking. We were out all day looking for more home decor and after dinner, we just had to get something sweet before finally heading home. So we went to the Gelatomio branch in Pavilion Mall.

It’s kind of hard to choose. But we’re basically a chocolate loving couple.

The husband and I ordered quite similar flavours. He got Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate, and another variant of chocolate while I went for Nutella Hazelnut, Cookies and Creme, and Vanilla.

And the best part about this is we only paid for one cup because of the Entertainer app! I just showed the app on my phone, entered my pin, then let the people from Gelatomio enter theirs, and voila!

Buy 1, take 1 gelato single cups. Each cup has three scoops each and cost us around RM11 (Php 150, USD 3.44, EUR 2.66).

I gotta say that my fave among the flavours I got was the cookies and creme!

What I really love about Gelatomio their ice cream’s consistency. Just the right amount of creaminess to enhance the flavours. The servings are huge too so it was kind of hard for me to finish mine.

Extremely tired but happy due to some kind of sugar high. ;)

The husband enjoying his dessert.

Of course, my husband being the guy that he is didn’t really have a hard time with his. I also have sensitive teeth so I often wait for my ice cream (or any frozen food for that matter) to thaw and melt a little before eating.

I’m looking forward to try their gelato smoothie next as I’ve heard that it’s the bomb. Dragging my husband back there as soon as he gets back from his conference.

More later!

Love,

C

Events + Photos: KL Vintage Festival 2014

Last Sunday, Malaysia celebrated Hari Merdeka (Independence/Freedom day) which commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule. The holiday was extended to Monday, September first, and since my husband had to make a quick nip (ok, not that quick – he was there from 8:30am until almost 4pm) to the embassy because the whole team as well as our Ambassador needed to rush a few things for our President, I was able to get most of my chores out of the way before he got home and we decided to check out the Kuala Lumpur Vintage Festival.

We left the condo at around 4pm and took the Monorail to the Maharajalela station which was basically connected to Stadium Merdeka – the festival’s choice of venue.

Upon entry to the stadium are walls filled with photographs of the Malaysians’ heroes and revered leaders.

The stadium grounds itself was filled with tents selling vintage finds – from clothes, to vehicles, down to Coca-Cola kitchen signs. 

This stadium is very important to Malaysians as it was the place where the power to govern the country was transferred from the British to the Malays in 1957. The stadium was constructed especially for that event and can accommodate up to 25 thousand people.

I love almost anything vintage – be it clothes, home decor, toys, glasses, etc. So prepare for a photo overload of all the quirky things we saw at the fair.

Vespa! Can’t bring myself to learn how to ride a motorbike but if ever I do, I would love to try one of these.

This combi van is so 60s! And yes, my sticker mask says hi. My face looked weird cos I was practically blinded by the sunlight. Haha.

Totally loving the Obamafied Marilyn right there. And it was just so cheap at RM50! We don’t have a wall for it though. :( The rooms have already been planned out. Maybe when we redecorate in a couple of years? ;) Hee.

Adidas fans in the festival had a field day. There were limited edition sneakers on sale. Loved the Star Wars series. Bummed that they’re only for boys. :(

The anatomy of an AT-AT.

These would totally look good in my kitchen!

Combi and muscle car overload.

You know how old people say one person’s junk is another person’s treasure? I totally believe that when it comes to vintage shopping. :D

All my close friends know how I dig vintage glasses – the bigger the better. They’re so quirky yet still classy!

What do you think? ;)

I’d love to pack lunch in these – especially on the one with the Volswagen design. Cute!

Spot the bag I was dying to buy! Yep, the green one with the gold handle. So 50s, yes? But I had to let it go because it had severe scratches. :( One thing about buying vintage is that you have to check the item thoroughly for damages and decide whether you can live with it or not.

I love Gold (not a fan of the plastic ones – too kiddie) vintage Casio watches. I have one already but I’m still looking into buying this design with the calculator. My friend Armi has one and I’m practically drooling all over it every time she’s wearing it!

Sadly, no flag pins for my husband. He collects those from every country. Either he buys them himself when he visits or his travelling friends get him some.

The husband also collects plane models and for a minute, he considered this fighter jet.

Vintage trains! My husband also loves trains. He dreams of having a locomotive train set in our condo but the question is always whether we have enough space for one. I love looking at old trains. They remind me of those years when travel was a luxury and people would often dress up and make an occasion out of a journey.

A red Swatch from the 80s.

Typewriters! So googly-eyed over these. They would make for great decor!

All the stalls were colourful with clothes dating as far back as the 50s.

I died and went to heaven after seeing these styles! <3

Just take a look at that leather traveling bag. Drool.

Hello, beautiful.

There are even school and office supplies. Venus Perfect Pencils is a brand I have not seen in YEARS. Gave me the heebie jeebies to see a couple of boxes. That company started out in the early 1900s. THe pencils were very popular among Americans and eventually, they became the favourite writing tool of soldiers during WWI after the American Lead Pencil Company started supplying Germany. Why do I know these things? Haha. The company making Venus pencils has been bought by Faber-Castell, btw.

While there were branded clothes going as high as RM60 or RM70, there were also stalls selling at just RM5.

Some pricey Ray-Bans. The tortoise-shell and gold wayfarers were adorbs but beyond my budget.

A Yashica Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) Camera! Thought about turning it into a part of my console table vignette but the seller says it’s still working (so it’s still hella pricey).

More planes. I’m amazed at how my husband can say the type/model of each plane we see. He is such a geek for these things. Oh, and he’s also very knowledgeable about countries. Give him a country and he will tell you about it’s history, the people, where it is exactly, the capital and its major cities, he can tell you how the flag looks like and the shape of it in a map. ANY COUNTRY. No notes. Just straight from his brain. I guess that’s what makes him really good at his job. I guess anything to do with travel, my husband knows.

C3-PO trying to go incognito behind a pair of Docs.

Cowabunga! We’re missing one turtle though.

Love this!

Not really vintage but the designs are. Would you let your toddlers wear these? I’m kind of partial to the Ramones shirt for our future kiddo. But my husband might not be too happy about it. Haha!

My girl Audrey makes an appearance.

More and more bags.

And a mini Darth Vader looking too cute for words.

Accessory overload. Not really vintage but the designs can actually fool people into thinking that they’re from your mom’s fancy jewellery box.

Cute shopping bag.

Oh hello there, husband.

A sweaty couple-selfie was in order. We were enjoying ourselves despite the heat.

There were also vintage cars on display.

As well as motorcycles that remind me of a scene from Indiana Jones.

This is so WWII.

We ended that short trip with a quick snack. We found this stall just outside the stadium and the smell is so inviting. They’re selling cheap fried chicken (called ayam by Malaysians) which you can munch on by itself.

A huge chunk of fried chicken was at RM7 (Php 96.08, EUR 1.68, USD 2.20). And when I say huge, I mean HUGE. My husband and I decided to share and ask them to chop it up for us.

Ok, the filters made it really dark but this is just one slice of the chicken. The skin is rather crispy with a spicy-salty taste and the meat, juicy. We paired it with a tangerine drink from a nearby stall and it was just divine.

All in all, we enjoyed the KL Vintage Festival. It was like taking a trip down memory lane, or more appropriately – taking the time machine out for a whirl. Looking forward to next year’s festival! :)

More later.

Love, 

C

When Nations Mourn and How the Media Either Helps or Gets in the Way

First written on July 31, 2014 but I decided to just actually finish it today. Also publishing this weeks after the incident to avoid being insensitive:

I’ve been putting off writing about things that caught my eye on the news the past couple of weeks so as to avoid tackling anything depressive.

But after weeks of not seeing anything other than Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, seeing images of people being hurt on both sides, after the several plane crashes within the same week, and catching a report on the TV showing a parade of hearses in the Netherlands carrying the bodies of those that died at the MH17 crash, I found myself scribbling my thoughts on random pieces of paper – the back pages of my planner, grocery lists, and even some receipts.

How can you not feel sad about it?

It’s just purely heartbreaking.

I was putting it off but I knew I had to sit down and write something about it – as what I would’ve done if I were back in Manila. It would have been for work and most likely with a political angle but it was getting it off my chest all the same.

This is not about Israel or Gaza (my husband and I have already been spending so much time during meals discussing the issue and we’ve both felt the sensitivity and emotion that comes with it that I guess it is best to avoid it at this point). This isn’t even about my heartbreak over the Chibok girls – something that I’ve been harbouring for a while now. Nor is this about Joseph Kony or who’s to blame over the MH17 crash.

After all, I promised my husband I won’t write anything political anymore so that I don’t get us in trouble ;) (We’ve been keeping my ‘scoops’ and my crazy opinions to ourselves as healthy discussions for meal times).

It’s about how people, as a nation, mourn.

In the Philippines, typhoons are expected from June till late in the year. We prepare, we try our best to minimise the casualties every time the weather centre reports that ‘another one’ is yet to come. Our lives and perceptions on typhoons changed in 2009 when Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) damaged Metro Manila and its neighbouring provinces. High death tolls, 2-storey houses completely submerged, people homeless. We thought we’ve seen the worst.

Along came Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013. Winds at 350kph, thousands homeless, infrastructure heavily damaged, over 6 thousand people dead.

On both times (and in several other tragedies), our country mourned. People prayed, differences were set aside and the whole nation (and even the world) came together to give the victims help and expressions of solidarity.

A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied my husband to an inter-faith gathering for the people that died in the MH17 crash as well as those people on board the lost MH370 plane. It was held at the Malaysia Airlines Academy in Kelana Jaya. Quite a long way from our place but I told my husband that I wanted to come along, pay my respects, and see representatives of different religions come together.

The entrance to the Malaysia Airlines Academy in Kelana Jaya

Diplomats, public officials, families of the victims, and employees of Malaysia Airlines were present to pay their respects. The transport minister came as well. And so did the media.

What was supposed to be a solemn gathering where families and friends of the victims as well as employees of the ill-fated airline company could pay their respects to those that lost their lives was mildly disrupted by the camera flashes, the noisy chatter, and the standing and constant moving around of the cameramen and the photographers trying to get a shot of the transport minister and the ambassadors who were praying. It irked me and made me spend a couple of minutes in my seat trying to remember if I was ever that disrespectful during a coverage (my memory might be hazy but thank goodness I don’t remember a time when I was that unruly during a coverage back in Manila).

I didn’t take photos of the actual inter-faith ceremony as I was quite interested with the Muslims, Christians, Sheiks, Hindus, Taoists, and Buddhists that took the stage one by one and prayed for the souls of the victims. It’s quite mystical to see and hear prayers in a different language, recited so beautifully. There was also a video presentation composed of photos of the crew of MH17 and MH370 as well as the passengers. It was so heartbreaking that I had tears in my eyes and I was fighting heaven and hell not to cry as I have the tendency to bawl and making me stop is quite a lot of work.

Bad photo but this is my least blurry shot of the colleagues of the victims. One of them told me that they’re all like family and that losing their colleagues in MH17 and MH370 felt like losing a relative or a best friend

All the while, photographers were just there – in front of the stage. Sometimes, they’d take photos and footage of the one leading the prayer but they would focus more on the transport minister and the Malaysia Airlines officials who were deep in prayer. Yes, I know that would make for good pictures on the newspapers the next day but really? All throughout the event? How many photos of the same people do you actually need?

Some of the photographers would even walk around the venue (noisily) and they totally ignored the pleading of the host in between prayers to take their seats.

No, I am not angry at the media. I know and understand how hard the job is. I’ve been there myself. Though I do believe that they could have tried a bit harder to keep the solemnity of the event. They could have moved a bit more quietly, taken their shots quickly and returned to their seats.

After the prayers, everyone was invited to lay flowers on the entrance of the academy and to write something on the signature wall the airline company prepared.

I took a quick snap while we were in line. It was a relief that the media decided to stay on one side and let the people laying flowers do it without being pushed around. But this scene was rather short lived.

Right after the CEO of Malaysia Airlines was able to place some flowers on the small altar they set up on the entrance, the media went wild again and started swarming towards him. I was a bit scared for the old man as he was quite old and at about 5’3″ a lot of us were way taller than him – especially the media who could easily envelope and trap him in a tight “ambush” circle. I heard one reporter shout at the old man: “Is it true that you are not doing enough for the families of the victims?!” Good thing there was security who whisked the old man off back inside the academy. Am I getting soft? Aren’t tough questions important anymore? I still believe that they are but there is always a way not to intimidate or to harass the person you are trying to get an answer from especially if he’s old and frail. Maybe this is my soft spot for older people talking but I believe there should still be enough amount of respect towards people – even if you’re interviewing a convicted criminal, it doesn’t give you the right to call that person names or make fools out of them on national TV (yes, I am thinking of certain journalists who love doing this back in Manila). Reporters, I believe, should be respectful to beget respect. They should offer both sides of the story and ask the tough questions without being rude.

And speaking of the media, remember how international channels ran special coverages on the lost MH370 plane and the MH17 tragedy? Back then, it was all you can see on the telly, hear about on the radio, and read on the newspapers and online news sites. Nowadays, after the parade of hearses in the Netherlands and after the bodies have been brought back in Malaysia, there’s hardly a peep about it. We can’t force the media to come up with stories especially when there’s no development (there’s so many other things happening elsewhere that are also news worthy) but what worries me is when the public starts to forget.

It’s a trend that I’ve noticed in Manila and in other countries where disasters struck. After a disaster, people would talk about it for days and weeks. Donations will come. The whole world will say their piece about what happened and after a while, when the news dies down, you don’t hear anything about it anymore from other people.

That’s where the media comes in. And this is one of the things I love about journalism. Not only does the media report what’s happening right now but they also play an important role in keeping the memories and lessons learned alive. News agencies will then air something about it every now and then, say when there’s a new development, a new donation, when something goes awry in the rebuilding of homes in typhoon-affected areas or when the investigation on MH17 is taking a bit long,  then comes the what I like to call “in-memoriam” and “looking back” stories aired or printed during the tragedy’s anniversary.

The time for mourning for MH17 won’t last long. In media timelines, even, it’s been over for days. But for the people of Malaysia, the shadow of MH17 and MH370 is still there. They go about their daily lives but you still see signs of mourning within the city.

I’ve heard that there might be less or even no fireworks this year for the Merdeka Day Celebration (Independence Day) here in Malaysia in deference to the tragedies that still feel quite fresh. In every mall, you see candles and areas where people can write their prayers for the victims of the tragedy. You see electronic billboards flashing messages of condolence from different entities here. You see people looking at Malaysia Airlines adds all over the city with a look that suggests sadness or loss. After all, it’s their national airline. I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for the people here.

I see the similarity we Filipinos have with Malaysians and even the Dutch who are also mourning their citizens who died in the MH17 tragedy. Like us Filipinos who often say that our spirits are waterproof and can weather any storm, the Dutch and the Malaysians also bond and get inspiration and support from each other when tragedy strikes – then they bounce back. You feel that they are sad, that they are mourning but you also see the resilience that people develop when something devastating happens to them and affects their nation. I think resilience is not just a Filipino thing. It’s a human being thing. And though we get more typhoons and natural disasters in the Philippines than some countries and that we practice resilience more often than others (that’s why ‘resilience’ is actually synonymous to being Filipino these days and it makes me proud and happy that the world sees that about us), I’m pretty sure that other nations can do it too.

In fact, we Filipinos often find ourselves smiling after a storm. It’s not because we’re crazy. But it’s because we know that after that much rain, tomorrow’s gonna be sunny for sure.

More later.

Love,

Carol

The Entertainer: Two for the price of one – always

The Entertainer Malaysia and The Entertainer Travel

I love a good bargain. I mean, really. Who doesn’t? Personally, I get a kick out of buying something on a discount. I feel that the purchase (even if it’s pretty hasty/impulsive) is justified.

A couple of days ago, a new friend of mine introduced The Entertainer – Malaysia to me. And needless to say, I am thrilled by it and totally excited to start using it. 

The Entertainer is basically a coupon book (good for one whole year) that lets you enjoy food, spa services, staying in hotels, fun activities, and a lot of other things in a certain area – buy 1, take 1. So let’s say my husband and I would want to try out a new steak restaurant, we’ll be ordering two steaks but will only be paying for one – it’s like dining out for the two of us is always on 50% off. Pretty cool, huh? 

It’s great for people who love to eat out and enjoy some pampering! One thing I didn’t like about it though is that the coupons come in a thick book which might a bit of a hassle to lug around every time I’d go out here in KL. Good thing I was informed about the Entertainer app which contains all of the coupons in the book. All I have to do is show the coupon (on my phone’s screen) to the waiter upon receiving my check for the meal or the service I availed, enter my personal code then let the establishment’s people enter theirs. The app will then deduct the coupon from your “virtual” coupon book and your bill will be revised. It’s that simple and the app is available for phones running on iOs, Android, Windows, and Blackberry’s OS.

It’s pretty easy to set up your own account on the app and if you’re not set on shelling out for the full product, they’ll let you try it for free for two weeks.

i do go out a lot with the husband and some girl friends and I are planning to dine out or go for coffee this September. So the vouchers will come in pretty handy. Better to spread the love and savings among your friends, right?

The whole thing costs RM235 and promises you RM90,000 in 2-for1 savings. But it gets better. My friends would probably go “get out of here!” if I say that the spa discounts are not my most favourite things in the book. It’s actually this (the one on top):

Contains over 380 hotel vouchers

It’s no secret that my husband and I love to travel. From European cities to Asian beaches, we’re all game for it. And one of the biggest expenses when it comes to travelling is the hotel booking.  While my husband and I are also experienced when it comes to budget travel and we’re perfectly fine with booking a small hotel room which we will hardly stay in (we maximise our trips by going out all day, sightseeing and just going back to the hotel for a shower and some sleep), I’m not gonna lie to you guys – I still think luxury hotels can also be a good garnish on top of a trip but only if we can afford it without breaking the bank. 

Our anniversary is coming up and we’ve been looking at places to visit in the Southeast Asia area or maybe just within Malaysia. And anniversaries are special after all so we’re willing to spend just a wee bit more (we’re thrifty bordering on being cheapskates – there, I said it) to make the celebration a bit more special.

Imagine staying at The Oberoi in Bali or the Intercontinental just here in KL for a staycation for half the price. Not bad, right? That falls under my “not breaking the bank” category and it will totally help us save on our anniversary expenses without settling on one of the usual hotels we will pick out when we’re just going on a normal holiday.

The travel edition of the Entertainer is included in the purchase of Entertainer Malaysia and helps you get buy one get one nights in different luxury hotels within the region. 

Some of the hotel partners featured in the back.

The Asia and Indian Ocean edition includes offers in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles, and one of my dream destinations:

Though we’re not going there THIS anniversary just yet, it’s nice to know that when we finally decide to go, there’s a way to get a discount on one of those beautiful sea-side villas. :D

The Entertainer is also available in Dubai and the Emirates, Jordan, Cape Town, Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, Kuwait, Johannesburg, Lebanon, London, Bahrain, Oman, Cyprus, Jeddah, Qatar, Malaysia, Riyadh & E. Prov, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

More later.

Love,

Carol

KL Adventures: Colourful Brickfields (Little India)

Right in the centre of Kuala Lumpur is its own Little India. The husband and I were able to walk around its main street during one of our weekend afternoons which we usually spend either sightseeing within the city or furniture shopping.

Brickfields is a neighbourhood near KL Sentral station. It’s easily accessible and is a place known for good bargains (from food, grocery items, to accessories) and a good mix of modern meets traditional architecture.

Just wanted to do a quick post on this neighbourhood (which we visited after our trip to the Planetarium) and share some photos taken along the area’s main street, Jalan Tun Sambanthan:

The KL Sentral side of Brickfields is filled with modern architecture.

From offices to hotels on one side, to a little piece of India just right across the street.

How cute are these earrings? Cheap too!

Fell in love with this beautiful, Hindu-inspired fountain constructed on the centre of a roundabout.

The lamps and even the information centre (which was already closed by the time we got there – it was around 6pm) features elaborate design. It’s a feast for the eyes!

And how beautiful are these arches? I felt like an Indian princess in a pretty sari while walking along the main street! ;)

Flowers for sale!

Good to know: Flower garlands play a huge role in Hindu society. They are a must in every festival and there are certain flowers that are used for each deity. An Indian wedding will not push through as well if the bride and groom are not wearing wedding garlands. Some of the temples in India even have their own flower gardens where they can get blooms for their garlands everyday and back in the day, to be a garland maker (appointed by the king) is a huge honour!

While in Bali for our honeymoon last year, I also read that there are certain rules in making the garlands – like, you can’t let the flowers or any of the materials you are using touch the floor or be at the same level as your feet (because the garlands are for their gods, it shouldn’t be placed lower than your pelvis). Garland makers should also pick the flowers early in the morning but only after they have taken a bath. And the flower pickers should also chant to their gods while doing the picking. Pretty mystical, no?

Pretty busy street.

Brickfields’ main street is populated by sari shops (which you have to check out because the clothes are just b-e-a-utiful), restaurants that serve authentic Biryani, hotels, and grocery stores where you can get the cheapest Basmati rice grains in the city. There are also shops that sell jewellery, kitchenware, Bollywood movies, and of course – incense sticks.

There are also Indian bridal shops where you can get intricate temporary tattoos on your hands and feet (using dye from a plant which they call Mehendilike these. Indian women (and even men) undergo a mehendi ceremony a day before their wedding where the patterns are drawn onto their hands and feet. The temporary tattoos are said to bring the couple luck and a fruitful marriage. 

Fancy a walk?

At night, the wide sidewalk is transformed into a street-dining area similar to Jalan Alor. Monoblock chairs and plastic tables are set up by the restaurants on the street and people (a lot of tourists and local Indians) flock to this neighbourhood for a hearty, authentic Indian dinner.

MY FIRST DOG SIGHTING IN MALAYSIA! (All caps was necessary)

I was so excited and giddy when we chanced upon this precious little shih-tzu in Brickfields. The owner was also kind enough to let me pet and coo at it for a good couple of minutes. Here in Malaysia (particularly KL), dogs are not allowed in most condos and public areas. Muslims do not like them and classified dogs as ‘dirty’. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to leave our dogs Sophie (shih-tzu) and Jack (maltese) back in Manila with my husband’s parents. We don’t want to offend or scare any of our neighbours and I’d feel bad for the dogs if they’re only cooped up inside our condo.

Before I end this really short (quickie) post, here’s a closer look at the fountain. It’s totes pretty with elephants supporting the base – they remind me of my favourite Hindu deity Ganesha.

It was getting dark by the time we got there so our walk was pretty short (we wanted to be home early as the husband has work the next day) but there are still more places to see in the district like a Lutheran Church, a Buddhist Temple, and a traditional Malaysian house so we’ll definitely be back for those. 

When visiting Brickfields, do be mindful of your belongings. It’s a pretty busy area and according to other expats, petty crime such as theft is still common there.

Back for more later.

Love,

Carol

Happenings + OOTD: Vision KL 18th Anniversary

Photo wall! Strike an (awkward) pose! ;)

Last night, the husband and I attended the Vision KL Anniversary Party at Signature by the Hill (The Roof). It made me totally excited cos it meant that I can wear something that’s not too formal for a change. The husband was tasked to attend the party in place of the our Ambassador who had a prior commitment. So, yay! Lucky, lucky!

Vision KL is a popular magazine-slash-city guide here in Kuala Lumpur. They have over a million readers and has been around for 18 years.

I loved Signature by the Hill’s interior. It’s pretty chill with striking elements. Like this:

An LED-lighted tree. It changes colour every couple of seconds.

Wore something a little less formal for a night out in this chic place. The outfit is actually a repeat. The dress I wore is something I’ve had for 3 years and I’ve only worn it thrice. I’m a huge supporter of repeating outfits. After all, not everyone can afford to be like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton who practically get clothes like everyday. I just make it to a point to mix and match the shoes, the accessories, and make sure that I don’t wear my hair the same way as the last time I wore the same dress.

OOTD/OOTN? A little less formal. The Flash is a bit too strong on this one. ;)

Dress from H&M Denmark (a gift from my ultra-fashionable sister Desiree), shoes are also a repeat (they’re my wedding shoes – which I will probably keep wearing until they are all worn out), clutch from Kultura, earrings from Forever 21 (also a gift, this time from my friend Camille), watch from Casio (my favourite, classic/digital piece). The red band isn’t part of the outfit – you get it at the entrance and you’re asked to wear it all night then return it at the end of the event.

The venue is on top of a tall building in Petaling Jaya and the view is just ah-mazing. You can even see the KL skyline from a distance.

KL Skyline.

Downtown PJ.

Lots of applause for the Vision KL team for throwing a great party and for lasting almost 2 decades!

I was also pleasantly surprised last night. I bumped into Jeanne – who I am supposed to meet today for a chat on some exciting things I can do with this blog. Talk about fate!

What’s a party without cake?

Remember the red band I mentioned up there? Once you return it after the event, you get a gift – a stuffed teddy or Hello Kitty. Cute! Of course, my husband and I chose the bears. I’ve kind of outgrown Hello Kitty but bears are still adorable and would make fluffy guests in our home.

We were also given a printed copy of our photo at the photo wall. I love this photo of us. :)

Before leaving, Alvin and I checked out the helipad further up the building. Up there, there was yet another bar – Stratosphere.

It’s cosy and a lot more quiet than Signature. And the view is also great. A nice place to take photos if you ask me. ;)

There are also seats around the helipad so you can just relax and enjoy the view. Just be careful that you don’t fall off!

Hair: I was dying to try the faux-side shave hair style which I first saw being sported by Rihanna. Of course, I didn’t have the heart nor the commitment to actually shave the side of my head so I decided to fake it. I’m addicted to styling my hair (as much as I am addicted to makeup) and I learned a lot of my techniques from my hairstylist friend back in Manila, Mycke Arcano. He inspired to keep trying out different styles on my curls. This look in particular is rather easy. I just made a deep part on my hair then made a simple french braid on the side that I wanted to fake the shaved look. Make sure the french braid is thin and tight. Start from the back of your earlobe and keep braiding until the other side of your nape. Tuck it under the hair that you will keep loose and secure with bobby pins. You now have a sort of “base” for pinning the hair that you want to keep flat. After that, I combed the upper side of the “shaved” part and started pinning it by sections on the french braid. I also used some maximum strength hair spray to keep it in place. As for the loose side, I just used some leave on product for my curls for volume. (If you don’t have curly hair, using your curling iron and some setting spray will do the trick. Use some hair spray for volume as well).

Makeup used: Benefit 15-hour primer, MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Fluid in NC 25, MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Powder NC 25, Benefit Benetint, The Balm Shady Lady Vol 2 eyeshadow palette, HEMA Eyeliner, Benefit Brow Zings, HEMA Brow Gel, MAC Cosmetics Alluring Aquatic Lipstick in Enchanted One, Make Up Factory High Shine Lipgloss in 35. And yes, I forgot to use mascara that night.

More later.

Love,

Carol