Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pepsi and 7-Up Vietnamese posters

That's how Pepsi and 7-Up posters look like in Vietnam. Very straight forward, if you ask me. 
Look closely at the poster material. It's waterproof! 

Around it, I'd like to think that's their local adaptation of our Tubero signages.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Survived a Blind Date... with a Girl!

(Photo from
I sensed something fishy but I never thought I'd end up on a blind date... with a girl!

It started when Dad told me to accompany him for work today. I assumed that I needed to drive. But since our driver was present, I sensed something was up. I dismissed it, thinking that he just wanted some family time.  

Then Mom laughed when she saw what I was wearing. She asked my dad if it was appropriate for me to wear a t-shirt. Something wasn’t right.

"Why? Where are we going?" I asked.

He said in Chinese, "My classmate has a daughter. Setting you up—oops—She wants to have more friends."

Oops?! You've got to be kidding me, I thought! I couldn't believe I was being set up. It didn't help that it's with a girl! I was shocked. Confused. Fuming!   

Good thing I was wearing the beckiest outfit I had. Mom's laughter affirmed it. My objective: to be a dead giveaway that I'm gay.


In the car, I tried fishing for more information but Dad changed the topic. I tried to convince myself: What's a simple pakilala, right? And to make myself feel better, I thought, "Siguro naman mas maganda ako sa kanya!"

The whole set up was just off. Was I over-thinking things? I mean, at the very least, I would have appreciated a heads-up for some mental and emotional preparedness of sorts. 

The most disturbing of all: Are my parents that much in denial? 

After what seemed like the longest drive, we found ourselves in a little coffee shop along Greenhills. I tried backing out but it was too late. There they were.

Introductions were made. I sported my trying-to-be-extra-nice-but-I’m-really-not-interested smile. Deep inside, I wanted to scream, "Hennybenny, 26, Philippiiiiiines!" It was so awkward!

"I'm Jessica,” she said. She seemed really nice.

Of course, my parents were all smiles. For all I know, they were probably imagining our wedding already...and future children. *cringe*

Gosh. I couldn't wait to tell her that I'm gay. Para tapos na!

For starters, I ordered the beckiest thing on the menu.
And yeah, that's her.

I told her my course in college and that I work in advertisingshort of saying, "Get a hint!” And she picked up fast!

"Maraming girls sa advertising, diba?" she asked.


"Diba marami ring gay?"

Kaboom! This was my chance! "Oo! Super! I belong!!!"

She paused and gave a puzzled look. "Uhhh, you belong?"

"Yeah, I belong talaga! I'm gay!"

Her eyes beamed. "I KNEW IT!" She laughed, clapped, and probably gave a sigh of relief in betweenThe awkwardness disappeared. We then talked about her nails, her gay friends, and we even shared our own versions of how fell into our parents' "trap".

Her freshly-painted nails that got damaged while rearranging seats for us to sit across each other.
*roll eyes* 

I felt proud for being honest. At least she didn't feel hopeful (in case she was that blind). Sadly, if there's anyone who was hopeful, it would probably be my parents—even if they know I'm gay. 

Let's face it. For them, being parents of a gay son (an only child at that) and being products of their own time, I guess they'd forever be hopeful that I’d turn out to be a "normal" guy who’d eventually find a woman and live happily ever.

Fortunately or unfortunately, my happily ever after won’t be with a woman. Who knows? I may just end up by myself.

The happily ever after in my mind.
(Image from 

While I know that my parents love me and want what's best for me, I also know that the best decision I've made to be genuinely happy is to come out of the closet. Perhaps this is hard for them to accept, which I totally understand. I'm optimistic that one day, their denial will blossom into acceptance.

Hopefully, my parents won't be arranging any more blind dates for me. If ever they do, I pray that it's someone without a vagina.

Even if I gained a new friend, the process was quite traumatizing. I’m just glad that it’s over. Blind dates are scary enough as they are. I hope that no gay guy ever goes through this.

Can I just say... pwede ko bang i-pitch ito sa I SURVIVED?!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Forbidden Broadway

My latest wandering brought me to the hilarious play Forbidden Broadway.

There’s nothing really forbidden about the show—just a parody of Broadway musicals and some industry personalities. 

The show made LOL. Literally. 

It was like watching an improv musical—kinda like that music segment in Whose Line Is It Anyway? ...but longer.

Here are my Top 5 spoofs from the show:

5. Les Miserables
Oh yes, we heard the people sing!

4. Rent
Seasons of... hype?!

3. Annie
Sadly, she’s 30 years old... tomorrow.

2. Fiddler on the Roof
What ever happened to... tradition?! 

1. Wicked
That ending just blew me away. It definitely defied “gravity.”  

There were other memorable spoofs in the show, but probably because I was familiar with the original songs: Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Mamma Mia, Rent, Chicago, and Hairspray. 

While the four-man cast is brilliant, I’d like to commend solo pianist Dingdong Fiel, who provided the music throughout the entire show. I don’t think he’s been getting the credit that he deserves.

The cast of Forbidden Broadway
(Photo grabbed from

Even if audiences may not be familiar with Broadway musicals, I think that they would still enjoy the show. 
Of course, it would be funnier if they were familiar with some of them. In fact, some acts could already serve as crash courses into what the actual musical is about. 

For those who still want to watch, there are only a few shows left!

May 25 (Fri), 8 p.m. – I heard that Lea Salonga is the surprise guest here!
May 26 (Sat), 3 pm & 8 p.m.
May 27 (Sun), 3 p.m.

Performances are the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. 
Call 891-9999 or visit for ticket details.

PS. Thanks, Bryan, for the ticket!
(posters from

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Much I Paid for a Coconut

Street vendor? Nah. Just tried it for the experience.
It was the street vendor's lucky day. Silly me impulsively bought a coconut from him while walking around Ho Chi Minh City. They were too cute to resist! (The coconuts, ha!)

He offered me one for 120,000 Vietnamese dong (VND). I didn’t bother trying to convert it to peso since I thought, "How much could a coconut possibly cost?" 

Honestly, though, I just didn't know how to convert and I was dying in the heat!

Automatically, I bargained, even if it was just for the sake of it. I even felt proud for bringing the cost down to 100,000 VND, which I eventually realized was 200 pesos!!!

Imagine! 200 pesos for a tiny coconut?! *facepalm*

My ever so expensive but really really really yummy coconut!

It was definitely his lucky day. I later found out that the average cost of a coconut is 15,000 VND. That's just 30 pesos! 

Charged to experience. In full!

Tip on how to roughly convert Vietnamese Dong (VND) to Philippine Peso (Php): 
Remove the last three 0’s in the figure then multiply the remaining number by 2. 
Example: 10,000 VND = Php 20. 

Thanks for the tip, Yoa! If only I knew this early on.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Family Weddings galore!

Three cousins. Three weddings. Three consecutive weeks.

Yep, it's been a weekly family reunion this May. Not that I'm complaining. It's really refreshing seeing everyone dolled up... and it's been a decade already! Talk about a wedding drought, eh? But as the old saying goes, "When it rains, it's four pours."

Here are the beautiful weddings that we attended this month:

May 5, 2012 - Wong-Herrera Wedding
The Serenitea couple, Ahia Tantan and Atsi Jen, finally tied the knot after more than 10 years together. Funny how we only got to meet Atsi Jen this yearto think that they've been together since I was in Grade 6. We just love, love, love her.

Ahia Tantan and Atsi Jen... and Mr. Backstroke.
The guy was just there... swimming away!

I was a cord sponsor. I think it's the easiest compared to being a candle or veil sponsor.
(Screen grab from the couple's wedding video.)

(Dress designed by former office mate Mel Orlina.)

The Wong Family at Bellevue Hotel, Alabang.

May 12, 2012 - Tan-Wong Wedding
They've known each other most of their lives. When they were both four years old, Atsi Val was a flower girl and Ahia Johann was a ring bearer for a particular wedding. It's cute how they ended up together after 25 years.

Then and now.
(Vintage photo from Ahia Johann's FB page)

That's me over there fighting back tears.
(Photo from Ahia Johann's FB page)

I was holding back happy-sad tears when Atsi Val walked down the aisle. Happy tears: because she was going to marry the man of her dreams. Sad tears: because our childhood days are really over—No more silly games, eating santan flowers, and no more sleepovers. (Iba na ang ka-sleepover niya!) 

Sealed with a kiss.
United Evangelical Church of the Philippines

Table pic at Annapolis Seafood Palace.
(Btw! Atsi Val's make up was by Sanny de Leva. We get him for our print ads!)

May 19, 2012 - Lee-Lim Wedding
We rarely get to see Ahia Alwin since he's based in the States. In fact, it was the family's first time to meet Atsi Anna that night. We look forward to getting to know her more. She seems really nice and bagay for Ahia Alwin.

First time ko maging offertory sa kasal. Inoffer ko ang aking kagandahan...
pati na rin itong fruit basket.

Yeyyyy! Christ the King Parish.

Table picture! At Mandarin Oriental.

The Wong Family (even if we're never complete)

Events such as these are never complete without people asking us when it'll be "our turn". My usual response? "Mag-de-debut muna ako." #AlamNa. 

But given all the answers I heard from my cousins, I see another wedding drought coming. Hopefully it won't take another decade before the next one.  

Congratulations and best wishes to my cousins and new cousins-in-law! I love you guys.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What to eat in Ho Chi Minh City aside from Noodles

Even if you just eat your way around Ho Chi Minh City, it’ll feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth already. For me, that’s how delicious Vietnamese food is.

The food is never just spicy, salty, or sweet. It’s practically a combination of everything, including a pleasantly surprising aftertaste.

Here are some of the food I tried and enjoyed:

1.     Beef Noodle Soup (Bo Kho) 
This just made Pho Hoa cry. It’s just that good. The weather may be a bit too hot for soup but it’s still worth it. Runny nose alert! 

Price: 40,000 VND (~Php 80)
Where: Street vendor along Pham Ngu Lao St.
2.    Vietnamese Subway (Banh Mi)
It’s a Subway with an oriental kick: liver pate with 3 different sausage slices, mayo, tomatoes, cucumber, pork floss, chili sauce, soy sauce, onions, and a dash of pepper.

Price: 15,000 VND (~Php 30)
Where: Street vendors along Bui Vien and De Tham St.

3.     Fried Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without this. The sauce gives it that extra oomph.

Price: 40,000 VND (~Php 80)
Where: Ngon 138, 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St.

4.     Fresh Spring Rolls (Tuong Cham)
This isn't for those who are allergic to shrimp...and vegetables. It’s quite small but really filling. The sweet peanuty-chilli-oyster sauce gives you that kilig factor.

Price: 6,000 VND (~Php 12)
Where: Street vendor along De Tham St.

5.     Elephant Ear Fish Wrap
This was lunch during the Mekong River tour. The fish was freshly caught from the river. While it tastes like the regular fried tilapia, how it’s eaten is its charm: lumpia style! 

Price: 170,000 VND (~Php 340) Good for two to three people.
Where: Mekong River tour.

6.      Tropical Iced Tea
It’s not just iced tea. There's a thick layer of what seemed like mango shake! Highlands Coffee is everywhere (kinda like Starbucks here), but go to this branch and savor the awesome view of the Parliament and Opera House. There's "normal" food there if you're not in to Vietnamese.

Price: 54,000 VND (~Php 108)
Where: Highlands Coffee, 4th Floor, Saigon Tax Trade Center

7.  Wrapped Banana with Thick Coconut Milk (Chuoi Nep Nuong)
The banana is wrapped in gelatinous rice, which is why it was extra chewy. Surprisingly, this was served warm. There’s a salty aftertaste, which was weirdly delicious. 

Price: 20,000 VND (~Php 40)
Where: Bui Vien St.

8.     Curry Soup with a Baguette
The curry soup was interestingly sweet but had a mild spicy kick. There’s pork, beef, and chicken, which was perfect with the baguette. The black thing is liver–I think–or maybe the lady didn’t understand me and just nodded. 

Price: 30,000 VND (~Php 60)
Where: One of the alleys between Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao St.

9.     Vietnamese Coffee 
Whether hot or cold, it’s everywhere! I’m not a coffee drinker but iced coffee was heaven on a hot day. I would have at least one a day! 

Price: 15,000 – 20,000 VND (~Php 30-40)
Where: Street vendors and almost all restaurants

10.   Hanoi-Style Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork (Bun Cha Hanoi Nem Ran)
The beef and noodles are supposed to be dipped into the sauce. I drank it like soup. No wonder the waiters looked at me funny.

Price: 54,000 VND (~Php 108)
Where: Nha Hang Ngon, 160 Pasteur St.

Whether you’re traveling in a small group or by yourself, try eating street food! For me, these tasted better and were more flavorful than restaurant food. It's cheaper, too! Eat at your own risk, though.

 Hopefully, your stomach's cooperative. I know mine was.

Trying to eat like a local!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crossing the Streets of Ho Chi Minh City

Ultimate tip for crossing the street: Just keep walking. Motorcycles avoid you.  

Instinct tells you to avoid them but in this bustling city, motorists are the ones who avoid you.

This makes crossing the streets of Ho Chi Minh City extra challenging. On one hand, you're trying to stop every other step because of an incoming vehicle... but on the other hand, your mind tells you to keep walking because you know they'll avoid you. Such struggle!

Though shallow, this should be one thing on everyone's itinerary. It's great practice, though equally dangerous. If you've crossed the streets here, crossing any other is a piece of cake.

Here's a silly video of me crossing to get to Ben Thanh market.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why I travel like Mom

With Mom along the streets of Vancouver, Canada. 
My first travel experience.

My parents are fond of traveling. They also have their own travel style, opposite from one another. But I travel more like my momalways on-the-go, roughing it out, raring to try the next roller coaster, and being a sucker for cute souvenirs.

Still sleepy because Mom wanted to have brunch at Pancake House today. 

Aside from the usual, I'm thankful for her sharing with me the love for travel and drive to see the world.

Happy Mothers' Day!
I love you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A cigarette named what?

Hehehe. Bastos. Hehehe.

Just had to take a picture!