A year’s worth

2016. It was a funky kind of year. It was a year when the world turned on its head and decided to follow a new order. In the Philippines, we voted a man who is so popular that people defend his rape jokes, agree that killing is a necessary solution to lasting peace and that making a hero a despot is a matter of legalese. In America, they replaced the coolest leader in the world with a sleazy capitalist who is a known racist, molester and liar, who also thinks global warming is something people just made up to be popular. Which is now just annoying compared to the unbelievable devastation of lives of tens of thousands of people caught in the crossfire of power-hungry politicians and extremists.

Has the world always been this strange, or has the internet merely magnified the things that were always there?

2016 is the year I questioned the basic goodness of man and looked into the darkness of humanity in the comments section.

I’m still angry and frustrated about how we’re making our evil side win. How can we let death penalty back? Why can’t you marry anybody you want? Why can’t drugstores sell contraceptives? Why is it okay to kill drug pushers?

And yet and yet and yet this year has been so good, with all the gruesome events notwithstanding. I’m going to look back at 2016 someday and say: that was a damn good year.


Apocalypse Child is the movie that just keeps giving. It has gone around the world, went back home for a small release and just got so much love it’s been amazing.


Best surfing tip from Ford. #apocalypsechild

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We went to Udine, Italy for the Far East Film Festival where the food was always spectacular and we were just drinking every single night with this crazy couple.

In Bucheon, Korea I travelled with my boys and lola!

Thank you #bifan2016 . Doing the k-pose w the volunteers. ✌🏼#apocalypsechild

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Poland for the win. The Five Flavours Film Festival in Warsaw was a very special experience, not because we won (of course that didn’t hurt) but there was something about the place and the festival.

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Can you guess which one is the Polish title for Apocalypse Child?

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I also had a life-changing experience on a side trip to Auschwitz which I must write about someday.


I can’t tell you how mythical Mekong River is in my life. I’ve pored through books and brochures and policy papers just to imagine why this river is such a big deal. I had to write several videos on the significance of Mekong River to Asia and yet have never set my eyes on it. And then boom! I was on a boat and I just realized that since I was in Laos and this is a river then I must be… OH MY GOD.

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Our little movie, BIG TIME, turned 11 years old and we made a special to prove it! Aptly titled: BIG TIME 11TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (Busy kami last year). Guys it’s also on iFlix if you want to catch it, along with the other Arkeofilms projects!


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#singabore2singamore. Okay I admit, I like Elvis Costello but I wouldn’t go all the way somewhere else just to see the guy. But Mario is a huge fan and I’m a huge fan of Mario so there.

#Elviscostello #singapore #esplanade

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#OhChaka. Every other year, my girlfriends plan an all-girls trip. My first time in Japan and it was super fun! Next stop: Las Vegas 2018


Andres goes to his favorite paradise with his favorite people! #plantationbay


Team Zissou was my first ever full-blown team costume party and how I love this crew!

"I wonder if he remembers me."

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Andres turns 4. This party makes it to my all-time favorites. Team Zissou was also behind the art direction of this awesome birthday party!

We rocked this party! #poohparty #mrandres

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#TSUngKong. This trip was not only the most disorganized fun I’ve had in recent memory but it’s also a very meaningful trip for me. We got three people to travel abroad for the first time in their lives, plus it’s a great way to cap a good year for This Side Up


And for Christmas, I actually get this beautiful thing which turns out to be August’s new favorite tambayan.

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Let the good win, right?


I have decided

that I want to be alive. I don’t want to be “dying slowly” or preparing for for my inevitable demise.


I want to embrace the good with the bad, the happy with the mad. The cool with the hot, the brilliant with the cringe-worthy. As long as it makes me feel alive I will welcome in my house.

I will however try to avoid any of them WOTs (in chumspeak: Waste Of Time), them bores, them apathetic or trivial things that don’t make my precious hours count.

I will not eat food just to fill my stomach. I will not window shop just to kill time. I will not make conversation for the sake of small talk.

Bad food over bland. Awkward silence over empty talk. Epic fail over death by boredom.

I want to feel alive.



My Girls

Before we decided to conquer the universe, we were just college kids who were always up to something good. We generally cut class to study for the next class. Whenever someone dropped a course, it was with our parents’ permission. We didn’t really get into a lot of trouble and the only thing we did in copious amounts was sleeping in the library, eating junkfood and taking notes. Some of us even volunteered for World Youth Day. Wild times.


And I had so much fun.

This year we celebrate 22 years of an easy yet deep friendship.

We just spent five days in Bali, a trip which took years in the making. And you can imagine the effort to bring together nine girls who are coming from four different countries to set aside priorities like children, husbands, work and other things. In the end, 5 out of the 9 showed up and that’s already short of amazing.

As in any group dynamic there is usually that one person we call “Jackpot,” who takes advantage of the rest of the group’s outstanding contributions. In this group, I am definitely “Jackpot.”

Without question, the trip would not have been possible without Quelly’s impressive organizing skills. We watched Bali’s beautiful sunsets in the coolest places and had dinner in the best restaurants. Gi kept the rest of the world posted about the trip, Pinky was the official timekeeper, and Abi took charge in organizing Quelly’s “surprise” birthday activity.

And I took this really great photo of my fabulous girlfriends.


Just for posterity, let me recall some highlights: (Pero bilang Jackpot ako, I really didn’t take that many photos so I will just steal from their photos. )

At Seminyak, we stayed at Mutiara Villa where we had our very own mini-resort with a pool and a kitchen where they cooked breakfast for us every morning.


A beach that we had all to ourselves.


Impromptu singing by Gizella and Abi while white folks in the audience danced.


Getting a massage in an underground cave.


Ending up in tears while brainstorming for the #manilagirlsgonewild campaign. Driver Nyoman ends up laughing with us too (or maybe at us).

It’s always handy to have a copywriter around…



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Riding on a funicular, sitting by the edge of a cliff while a DJ is on top of a huge rock while everybody waits for the sun to set. Rock Bar is fun times.


And capping the trip with a birthday dinner for “Alexis”

I cannot wait for more fun times in 2016!


31,536,000 seconds

That’s also 525,600 minutes, which is also 365 days of your days here on earth.

And every second has been a revelation not just about you but about myself, your father, our friends, our family and just about human beings in general.

A staggeringly beautiful and fascinating person becoming right before my very eyes.


Happy birthday, babe.

(Note to babe: This photograph was taken today as you celebrate with your playmates and your yayas. You spend so much time with them we thought of giving them a small merienda treat and bubbles for the kiddies.)

200 days of you

I say it’s worth a note to remember your first 200 days (which was yesterday). It’s about the time where I still notice your every rash and coo and poo. 

  1. You’re not quite the crawler yet. To move from one point to the other, like the Mad Max of rolling pins you roll from side to side. And when you do resemble what could be close to crawling, you look like a snake, using your head and your shoulders to move.
  2. You just started eating solids four days ago. And when I say solid, I actually mean just mashed brown rice with some of my milk, which just looks like milk with stuff. Sometimes you like it, most times you just look confounded and proceed to spitting half of what goes in your mouth onto your onesie and my lap and my face.
  3. You just grew your hair back. There’s like a couple of months where you have this D.O.M. look because you lost all your hair on the top section of your head.
  4. You’ve been sticking your tongue out and  putting the tip of your tongue behind the bottom part of your toothless gums. This may be the start of the teething phase. I fear for my boobies.
  5. There are times when I’m feeding you, when you’re about half asleep, that you tremble ever so slightly for about 10 to 20 seconds.That’s a little freaky. 
  6. Just when you’re about to sleep, you like scratching your face and your ears like a madman. This drives me crazy because it makes your ears bleed and your forehead all scratched up.
  7. You love textures. Your favorite toy is this long rainbow-colored silk that your lola gave you. She bought it in Bangkok a long time ago but never really got around to using it.
  8. It’s so easy to make you smile, but boy, can you cry. You got those powerful lungs that could howl and howl loud.
  9. Your father recently discovered your tickle spot. A generous zerbert aimed at the right side of your waist sends you into giggles.
  10. You enjoyed your first beach trip, but maybe not as thoroughly as you’d want because I didn’t let you taste the sand. All in good time, babe. You’ll have plenty time to do stupid things when you’re all grown up.Image

My Popsicle

You’d have teased me all the time. Bouncing my baby up and down like a ball. That’s what mom said you used to do with us and it would drive her to tears for fear you might drop us. As that would drive me mad too.

You’d be so happy I’m sure. And maybe I’ll allow you just this once, now that he just turned 100 days old. Which in my opinion, is worth the celebration. Mom is all over the little man. She calls him GS, as he would be trained to call her GM once able. (In that case maybe I should make the boy call me simply M. Not!)

I hope he gets your athleticism, because I'm such a sloth!

I hope he gets your athleticism, because I’m such a sloth!

Six years to the day. And although it happens so rarely now, when I do miss you, I miss you like I’m missing an arm. I miss you like I swallowed a rock. I still miss you like before, like I swallowed a frog and my throat is stuck with something awful. Now that I’m starting to have my doubts about the afterlife, it’s become difficult to imagine you as a conscious being above the clouds, ethereal. I think of you more as energy that floats around. This idea doesn’t make it harder for me, fortunately. I think it’s okay if you don’t exist anymore as an entire being. I don’t need that consolation. Because it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re rubbing elbows with St. Peter or reduced to fertilizer, the fact is you’re not here anymore. And that’s that.

You walked this earth and that’s enough of a life to make a world of difference to me and everyone you knew.



I turn beet red after 3 gulps of beer; my allergy to alcohol I don’t miss. But that never stopped me from from drinking before. Because I do enjoy a little buzz–my voice gets a little louder, my eyes get sleepy, and jokes sound funnier.

Unless I want the little man to slur in his cooing and get him drunk, I’ll have to remain alcohol-free for as long as I am his faithful cow.



Hong Kong. Quelly’s birthday, March 9 2012. This might have been the last time I got drunk.

People let’s get drunk on my birthday!