Nov 27, 2011

Camp Suki

It's one of those nights when people won't judge if you decide to dress up in a red cape, wear fake hair, knee-high boots, a giant sword and hook for hands. Yikes! Captain Hook is my peg for our pirate-themed Christmas party so I went to Camp Suki to find the perfect costume. No, it's not a Japanese garrison where they house pictures of Japanese soldiers and their comfort women, nor is it a house where cosplayers meet (but it's close to that.)

Found beside Mt. Carmel church in New Manila, San Juan, Camp Suki has been a refuge for those who want to dress up like princesses from the Middle Ages, an abominable snow man or a even an extra terrestrial that looks like Shrek.

"Camp Suki is the largest costume resource in the country with a collection of thousands of period dresses, fantastic headdresses, etc. It is virtually a museum of sorts which caters to the whims and fantasies of the customer."

Tip to first time visitors: make sure you have a character in mind because the place is really overwhelming with so much costumes! It will save you a lot of time. Second tip, don't be afraid to change ideas/plans. Feel free to ask the people there if you need assistance because they're very accommodating. They'll even give you some advice on what to pair with what.

When my brother and I went there last week for the second time, we were really in a hurry because he had to direct a photo shoot in the afternoon. I think we only had 10 minutes to make up our mind and choose which one to rent. If you really want to experience Camp Suki, dedicate at least 30 minutes to check out and fit the costumes. No one's too old to play dress ups!

I guess the perfect time to visit the place is on weekdays because there are less customers trying out the costumes (they only have one dressing room). It's also good to go there several weeks before your "costume-themed event" just to make sure that you'd get the best costume if there is one theme.

Make sure to check out their cool cash register (which they still use) and the vintage glasses on display!

Camp Suki is located at:
#88 4th Street, New Manila,
Quezon City, Philippines
(beside Mt. Carmel Church)

Tel. No: (63-2) 725-0819
(63-2) 725-4562
Cell Number: 0917-824-6900
Email address:

Nov 26, 2011

Over A Cup Of Coffee Or A Bottle Of Beer

Friends gather in laughs and in tears, or sometimes just to chill. Last weekend, my friends and I celebrated Jarvin's despedida because he'll be reassigned to Cebu for work. I thought when he said he'll be back next year, he meant after 12 months (and that's a really long time!) but it turns out he'll be there only until January. After dinner in an Italian restaurant in Greenhills, we went to this very cozy cafe in Katipunan where the 1980s atmosphere make you forget that you have to wake up at 5:30am the next day.

It's interesting how the topics of our conversation have grown over the years. Back in elementary, we mainly talked about our subjects and teachers. How difficult this math quiz was, why this teacher is so fixated on one student (favoritism) and what your last confession was about.

High school came and the conversation revolved around people and their relationships. Who's with who, how do you court this girl and why the hell did this perfect couple broke up?

College was a whole new arena and this gave people an opportunity to “re-invent” themselves and establish who they really are. Discussions were more idealistic and forward looking – about our future jobs, dreams of traveling around the world and legacies we want to leave long after we're gone.

Now that we're out of school, the idealism brought by college is toned down as the “real” world dilutes it into something more practical. We talk about stability, raising our own families and growing our “retirement fund.” When are you planning settle down/ marry? What name are you going to give to your son? Where is he going to study? How long are you going to stick with your current job?

I wonder what we'll talk about when we're middle aged. Maybe we'll be more health conscious and workaholic by then. By the time we're sixty, we'll talk more about our grandsons/daughters, mistakes we committed in life and our plans to atone for these mistakes.

By the time we're eighty, I'd like to think that my high school friends and I are still intact. We'll go back to the same places where we hung out and converse more. With all the technological innovations we have right now such as emails, cellphones, Skype and God knows what technology after sixty years, nothing can compare with having your friends gathered in front for you, either with a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer.

Planners Through the Years

During our last year in high school, Starbucks opened in Shaw boulevard, making it the perfect hang out place instead of going all the way to Shangri-la or Rockwell. November came and Starbucks released their annual collect-this-number-of-stickers-and-get-a-planner promo, which was then followed by my classmates' obsession of frequenting the coffee shop to complete their sticker cards. I wasn't much of a coffee drinker then, so I got my planner around late December and from then on, I've been in search for the perfect planner every year (not necessarily Starbucks - too mainstream na.)

Perks of having a planner: you exactly know what you did at a certain point in time. So here are the things that I found in my 5 five planners (while sometimes turning the pages randomly).

Jan 26 - I did not sleep to finish our entry for Cine ni Juan.
March 17 - last high school quarterly exam (Algebra and Trigo)
July 26 - my first Ateneo La Salle game. final score: 80-77 (Ateneo won!) 
Aug 2 - Taichi midterms
Nov 5 - Back to school!

Feb 14 - Valentine's Day + Calculus LT
June 5 - ORSEM Day 1 (as facilitator)
Aug - first and last college field trip
Sept - French Oral exams
Dec 22 - high school reunion

Jan 2 - blogged about New Year's resolution
April 19 - visited my favorite high school teacher for her birthday
June 14 - back to school shopping
Sept 17 - accompanied a friend to his first modeling VTR
Oct 25 - Libera concert <3

Jan 8 - Skype meeting with a representative in England for my int'l environmental org
May 7 - officially shifted to Management Economics
July 29 - quiz on derivatives (wtf!)
Aug 20 - Julius and Kevin's party at Fiamma
Oct 25 - start of fashion week
Nov 20 - Blue Christmas

Jan 13 - get graduation photo
March 5 - Trilogy summer sale
April 5 - Bora <3
May 31 - visited Sir Don's wake
Aug 25 - FaDAL OS party at 7th High
Oct 3 - first day of work

Now that 2012 is here, I bought a new planner at Muji. It's always a challenge to find the perfect planner for the year (depending on my mood) and I think that this plain minimalist white planner (with very smooth paper) from a Japanese store will fit my Zen like disposition next year!

Cheers to 2012! (soon)

Education Beyond Borders

Several weeks after typhoon Ondoy devastated majority of Luzon, I volunteered for a psycho-social relief operations in a small town in Laguna. My cousin is a social worker and she asked me if I'm interested to join them since there will be European student volunteers coming with us. Wearing our UNICEF shirts, we rode the mobile school where we sat on plastic chairs fit for elementary students. The ride was long and uncomfortable, not to mention unstable because the chairs would sway whenever the driver made a sharp turn. Regardless of this, we still had fun – playing games that displayed the culture of our foreign guests.

It was their first week in the Philippines, but some of them had long been exposed to the environment of a developing country. Anikka recently came from South Africa where she also volunteered. Anja is a school teacher who decided that traveling in poor countries will expand her horizons. Apart from her, all of them are just newly grad high school students who chose to explore the world while helping the less fortunate at the same time. My cousin then told me that they receive a lot of help from foreign pre-college students. The pattern is almost similar. Compared to what we're used to here in the Philippines where after finishing high school, a student directly enters college, some Europeans opt for the real learning outside the safety of the four corners and into the unknown – the real world of poverty, disease and death.

Maybe the reason why this pattern isn't much present in the country is because even before our high school students can give back, they need to have something to give in the first place. Maybe unless there's that sense of overflowing blessings, it might be inconceivable for them to help beyond its boundaries. Of course, it's only practical.

But how about those schools whose tuition fee go as high as a hundred thousand pesos per year? The opposite actually happens. Instead of having that sense of wanting to give back, they are shielded from the realities of poverty, sheltered from what really happens outside their chauffeured cars and guarded gates.

How many percent are our students learning in the classrooms which they can apply to their daily lives? 60%? 30%? I've asked the European student volunteers and they told me that they learned more from their traveling than the whole time they spent inside school. The world isn't confined in books or lectures. They only provide a glimpse of how beautifully complicated our world really is. Our educational system can be considered severely flawed because no matter how high students pay tuition fees or regardless of how prestigious a school is, if the student doesn't want to take the chance of exposing himself to the world, then his education will remain limited.

Maybe the measure of how much a person has been educated after all is how much he has given back – not only his contribution to our economy, science or the academe, but to the welfare of the community he is surrounded by.

Nov 16, 2011

Keeping Up With the Arroyos

“Why should a person's right to travel be more important than a whole nation's right to justice?”

I haven't been feeding myself with local news over the past weeks. As with my other friends, except for  Mikey who is a producer/writer for 24 Oras, the way to keep up with current events is through social networking sites. Last night, I got my regular dose of political jolt when everyone started rambling of how the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order regardless of the contemptuous records of the Arroyos. Imagine setting them free in countries where the Philippines has no extradition treaty! They could have as well waived all the cases filed against the Arroyos and give them one way tickets to Hawaii where they can retire for the rest of their corruption stained lives.

Good thing Secretary De Lima was quick on her feet! She had the balls (even though she's a girl) to defy the Supreme Court. Even though the SC's decision was constitutional, we have to remember that the Constitution was formed in the first place to protect the people and if the Constitution is the reason why actual justice and accountability cannot prevail (by allowing the Arroyos to "allegedly" escape) then by all means, let De Lima exercise her power as Justice Secretary and slap these judges with a megawatt of common sense.

Last night's dramatic showdown elicited random reactions via the Twitter world. My travel blogger friend was taken aback by De Lima's response, fearing of her misuse of power – that she can hold any individual from their “traveling” rights. Ok. Some people were questioning why GMA News, allegedly the channel less prone to bias, wasn't there covering the scene. Maybe we can then zero in on how the media portrayed the Arroyos as a politically persecuted family. Yeah, right. Others, of course, are less sympathetic on her pleas even though she was looking very harassed in a wheel chair with metal contraptions sticking out of her neck while she's all clothed in a drab looking shawl. Staged, I guess.

After a decade or so, we'll forget how Arroyo raped our constitution and bribed her stay in power. We'll remember how she was able to skyrocket our GDP (plus other economic indicators) and save us from the Global Financial Crisis. Like what happened several times in the recent past where former thieves, dictators and mass murderers were not held accountable for their crimes, Arroyo will reign free and will be welcomed by Filipinos with arms wide open. Fools.

photo courtesy of

Nov 2, 2011

Mangyari Lamang

I heard this poem for the first time from one of our most memorable Ateneo professors, Sir Bobby Guev. The way he read it gave me goosebumps. It's as if every word coming from him was shaped by years of experience. I knew he read this poem every semester to his students, but it never sounded like a routine. We were in a theater, it was his one man show, and we were all mesmerized by Bobby Guev. May pusong kasama.

Fortunately, a friend reread it again several days ago when he talked to a group of students having a retreat. Allow me to share it with you guys, although it's better if you listened rather than read. 

Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga
Nang makita ng lahat ang mukha ng pag-ibig
Ipamalas ang tamis ng malalim na pagkakaunawaan
Sa mga malabo ang paningin.

Mangyari lamang na tumayo rin ang mga nagmahal at
Nang makita ng lahat ang mga sugat ng isang bayani
Ipadama ang pait ng kabiguan
Habang ipinagbubunyi ang walang katulad
Na kagitingan ng isang nagtaya.

Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga
nangangambang magmahal
Nang makita ng lahat ang kilos ng isang bata
Ipamalas ang katapatan ng damdamin na pilit ikinukubli
Ng pusong lumaki sa mga engkanto’t diwata.

Mangyari lamang na tumayo ang
nagmahal, minahal at iniwan
Ngunit handa pa ring magmahal
Nang makita ng lahat ang yaman ng karanasan
Ipamalas ang katotohanang nasaksihan
Nang maging makahulugan ang mga paghahagulhol sa dilim.

At sa mga nanatiling
Mangyari lamang ay dahan-dahang tumalilis
Palabas sa nakangangang pinto
Umuwi na kayo!
At sumbatan ang mga magulang
Na nagpalaki ng isang halimaw.

At sa lahat ng mga nakaiwang nakatayo
Mangyari lamang na hagkan ang isa’t isa
At yakapin ang mga sugatan
Mabuhay tayong lahat
Na nagsisikap makabalik sa ating pinagmulan

Manatiling masaya at higit sa lahat
Magpatuloy sa pagmamahal.

by Rico Abelardo