wicked weekends

Spent some time in Bulacan with my siblings. J and I thought we were going to spend the weekend with just my brother, then two of my siblings and my cousin decided at the last minute to come home. The house became less lonely.

It was J’s sister’s birthday. V is a vegetarian, and so we had some vegetarian dishes, and the spread was amazing. I wish I knew where the goodies came from.

Even the cakes were/looked fabulous.

We tagged along the next day to breakfast at Fresh in Solaire.

They served the best yogurt I have ever had in my life. Thick and filling, almost as heavy as cream. I loved it.

I would happily wash all of the dishes if you cooked for me. Thank goodness J is a good cook. Here he perfects his gravy.

Taco Tuesday!

That salsa had other uses.

As a dip for grilled cheese sandwiches!
As ingredients for — we’re still not sure what to call this. I thought it tasted like caldereta.

We had a nice Valentine’s Day dinner at Wooden Spoon, where everything tastes amazing. SERIOUSLY.

Look at kuya at the back, looking so happy for our love huhuhu.

J’s nephew wanted to drag us here. We really didn’t need to be dragged hehe. Project Pie, where you can create your own pizza for PhP 285. Apparently everything’s 285, no matter how many toppings you ordered.

J said their interior looked like the set of Rent.

I can see that.

Ooh, this is a highlight. We saw the matinee show of Wicked on Feb 23. We were seated all the way up in Balcony I Center, but we were able to buy these cheap binoculars for only PhP 75 each. They helped a lot! But in truth, the distance wasn’t that bad. J said we had good seats, right smack in the center of the balcony facing the stage.

We really enjoyed the show. Great set pieces. The last play I saw in the CCP Main Theater was Cinderella, starring Lea Salonga, and that was years ago (and my sister and I were in Balcony II)! I was astounded by the spectacle. Suzie Mathers as Glinda/Galinda is a standout and Jemma Rix nailed the musical’s showstopper “Defying Gravity”. The applause was thunderous. I wanted more more more, and I would love to see this again.

Photo below from the official program. Read more here and here. I wonder what the next big production is going to be. The Book of Mormon? Pretty please?

Some photos at the lobby while we waited for the doors to open.

ace water spa – del monte, quezon city

When my sister invited us to join her for hydrotherapy at Ace Water Spa, I wondered what she was smoking. One, I didn’t know such a spa existed and so I was naturally hesitant and suspicious, and two, I can’t swim, so how can that be relaxing?

But you know what, I enjoyed myself. There were three hot herbal pools – mint, jasmine, lavender, with temperatures from a really hot 38 deg C to a scalding 40, but there’s a nifty cold “neck tube” where you can rest your nape and – you know what, I want to go back there already.

Photo from Ace Water Spa’s official website.
See those metal tubes? Those are cold tubes you can hang on to so the hot pool won’t stress you out so much.

Hydrotherapy massage – is a kind of therapeutic massage that utilizes “Ultrasonic Jet System” that massages specific areas of the body with its aquatic jets strategically located to relax and soothe tired and aching muscles. This treatment is best done in heated water.

These one push-of-a-button equipments are categorized as soft, moderate and hard massages. Because of these, the customers are assured of the same consistent experience, unlike manual hand massages wherein every visit may be a different experience due to different factors. For example, a masseuse that offers hard massages may not be as strong as before because he is already tired.

Moreover, the massage systems, being “do-it-yourself” type, gives the customer the freedom to decide which water equipment to use and which part of his body needs more attention

Cameras were not allowed inside the place, so that solved my (tiny) issue with cumbersome poolside selfies, but unfortunately I can’t share any photos with you now except a bunch of before (swimming) photos.

Fee is PhP 550 per head for four hours. That’s a LOT of time already. You’d get sick of pushing buttons soon enough.

But I did have a relaxing time. Thanks, sister.

Ace Water Spa Quezon City:
399 Del Monte Avenue (near cor. Banaue St.) SFDM, Quezon City
Trunkline: (6 32) 367-8040 to 41 / 367-8061 to 62

mibf ’13 + readercon kick-off

The first Manila International Book Fair I was able to attend was in 2009, where I mistook Budjette Tan of Trese fame for a Visprint booth cashier. True story.

Then life happened, and I missed the Fair three years in a row.

I am happy to be back this year. In 2009, I have some published stories and poems under my belt, and bad eyesight. (Sorry, Budjette.) This year, I have a sci-fi novel and a short story collection published by Visprint.  I visited their table and saw my book there. How’s that for cyclical? How’s that for a happy ending?



Hoo yeah ang daming taoooo.

I got Allan Popa’s incredible collection of poems in English, Drone, from the Ateneo de Manila University Press boothand Paolo Fabregas’ The Filipino Heroes League from the Visprint table at the Precious Pages booth.


Later that afternoon we headed to Meeting Room No. 6 for the Readercon kick-off.


Honey de Peralta talked a bit about the Filipino Readercon’s history.


This year’s theme:


The new logo:


The Viewless Dark and A Bottle of Storm Clouds didn’t have enough votes to make the shortlist, but thanks to those who voted for my titles! Here’s the shortlist.

I will be participating in the 2013 Readercon as a speaker in Authors as Readers. I will…talk about something. I need to get my Powerpoint presentation ready. See you in November! (Hopefully with my Powerpoint!)

Happy Saturday, with an equally happy Sunday, as I went on a road trip with J, his mom, his nephew, and their family friend. From Parañaque to Alabang to Makati and back to Parañaque. Awesome lunch at Uncle Cheffy.


Thank you to books and to rain and to love.

bohol on a rainy weekend

I organized this trip and therefore stressed over this trip from the day I booked the flight in March until before the plane landed safely back in Manila on Monday. (But then, who am I kidding? I stress over everything. Just ask J.)

This is my third time in Bohol, my second with J, and my first time with my siblings. Now I only want to travel during the rainy season: less people, less expensive hotel rooms due to the off-peak season, no painful sun rays to ruin your skin, no time limit at the beach, and no need to take three showers a day just to feel like a human being! Downside (or upside?) is you’ll leave a home in Manila, submerged and alone to defend itself. Another downside is the possibility of getting your flight cancelled.

So I stressed over cancelled flights, planes overshooting the runway, and sudden thunderstorms, but things turned out well.

Flights were with Cebu Pacific. Before the flight, my brothers and I stayed at J’s place. Here we are at the airport. CebuPac now has a web check-in service. Hallelujah. It helps save time at the counters. Another help is the fact that the terminal fee is already incorporated into the plane tickets.



My resort of choice is once again Dumaluan Beach Resort. (They call it Dumaluan 2, “the one with the pool.”) They offer tours, but of course the packages are expensive. I poked around in the interwebs and found a highly recommended tour guide named Tatsky.

 Jesser “Tatsky” Cubero:

  • Globe – 0915-7945556
  • Sun – 0922-3671051
  • Smart – 0912-7472737
  • Email : jessercubero@gmail.com

I texted his Globe number (better to text – he’s usually out on the field most days) and was glad when he replied quickly. The tour fee is 2,300 for the five of us. Though he tours visitors himself, he handles 20 or so tour guides, so he referred us to Jojo for the Saturday tour. Kuya Jojo was on time at the airport, and very polite throughout the trip. Two thumbs’ up!

Recommended start time, by the way, is 8AM. We got to Bohol at nearly 10AM, so we just did the best we can with the day.

The last time J and I were here was in 2010. A lot has changed since then. Baclayon Church (third oldest church in the country, following the San Agustin Church and Paoay Church) looks brighter inside.


Tarsiers, which used to be housed nearly side by side in open huts, are now in their natural habitats. Entrance fee is now PhP 60 (as opposed to a PhP 20 peso donation three years ago), and you had to climb up steep steps to see the primates in the trees. Better for the tarsiers, though the local government should really consider just giving night tours so the tarsiers can sleep during the day.

The Loboc River Cruise is now PhP 450, but you know what, the cruise redeemed itself for me this year. Tatsky’s group recommends Riverwatch, and it is so worth it. The food was so good.

By the way, Loboc now has a waiting area for those going on the cruise. It’s airconditioned, with cable TV and computer terminals with free Internet connection.




The fee includes a buffet lunch and a ride down the river.




The Chocolate Hills has a new attraction: navigating the hills via ATV. I am not interested, but my siblings gave it a go.



While they’re enjoying the terrain, J and I had mango-flavored carabao milk!


Now off to the viewing deck for us:





Another attraction is traveling via zip line or cable car over the Loboc River. Nope. Nope. No can do. I’m sitting this one out. Fee is PhP 350 for zip line, 250 for cable car, and 350 for combo (zip line one way, cable car for return). I would have tried the cable car with J, but the counters were already closing when we got there, and a cable car ride takes 7 minutes.




My kind of adventure is sitting indoors with a book. You know how it is.

After buying pasalubong, Kuya Jojo drove us to Dumaluan, which is located on Panglao Island and shares the same white beach shoreline as the more expensive Bohol Beach Club.

I reserved an Executive Family room.

Executive Family – 4,500 Php Per Night – good for 4 persons
Fully air conditioned room, with solar powered water heater, refrigerator,
cable T.V. and breakfast for two persons.
Extra person is Php 400.00 per night inclusive of mattress and breakfast.

Okay. There was no water heater, so I don’t know what happened there. There is a refrigerator and cable TV though. And there’s a tree in the washroom!


We liked the room. It’s homey.


Here’s the view of the room from outside.


Washroom in the morning.


We woke up early to visit the beach at low tide.



What say you of my sleepwear/beach attire?



We had breakfast and enjoyed the beach. We also saw this film on cable and were so enamored we nearly skipped lunch.






Tiny crab.




We moved to the pool, where I FINALLY LEARNED HOW TO FLOAT. Take that monsoon rains! I’m ready for you, flood!

Actually no, I’m not.







My sister, who woke up late, finally decided to join us.


Failed jump shot.






Evidence that I finally learned how to float after ten years. (Literally; I’ve been trying to learn since high school.)

The secret is to relax, and as mentioned, I don’t relax. You can’t float while making to-do lists in your head, I guess?




Last night in Bohol.




Morning before the flight back.


Till next time!


the big 5-0, zalora loot, and home cooking adventures

My father recently celebrated his 50th birthday. I don’t have photos of my mother’s birthday because the rains were crazy and floodwater entered the house, so I decided to come home a week later. I think this made me daughter non grata for a short while haha. But there was water inside the house!

Anyway. Here’s a giant cake from Conti’s.



My father is very happy he’s 50. “Kaya pa 1/4th! (25 years),” he told me. Hehe.

Ze Zalora loot! I received a text from them saying I am eligible to a 20 percent discount for my next purchase. I couldn’t resist.


I got:

Original Carmex Jar

Bare Naturals Mineral All Over Glow – Precious

Bare Naturals Vitamin Stix – Definite Lips

Charm Retractable Kabuki (Pink)

Wet n Wild Mega Glo Illuminating Powder in Catwalk Pink

This is my first time to use Bare Naturals and Wet n Wild. I haven’t cracked open the All Over Glow, but I’m loving their tinted lip balm, which is very pigmented. I also love Mega Glo. I’ve been looking for a good illuminating powder, but I find Guerlain’s Météorites too expensive. I think Mega Glo is a good place to start for me. (I would have just stuck with the All Over Glow, but it’s a loose powder, and I need something travel-friendly.)

And this is my first kabuki brush! I love it. Look how cute it is.


And of course, the kitchen adventure continues. Here’s some microwave bread pudding, and beef burgers with a side of cucumbers.



20130704_193420Okay, the burgers in the photo above were a mess because I couldn’t cut garlic and onion properly. The pieces were too large!

This is a better set, thanks to J.


Something to look out for: My story, “The Missing”, will be appearing in VOLUME One, an anthology of stories edited by Dean Alfar and Sarge Lacuesta. Launch will be in September.

The volume will be edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Angelo R. Lacuesta. Volume 1 will be the first book in an anthology series that will showcase fiction by Filipino writers, age 45 and under, selected without regard for boundaries or genres.

Hope you can get a copy. I am proud of this story, and I can’t wait to share it with readers.

Here’s the (still unedited) opening paragraphs:

The Missing

There were only six of them in the group, but several times during the trip in Thailand, Harold would think that they were missing one person. During dinner he would catch himself saying, Let’s wait for – and then realize that there was no one left to wait for, as he counted his seated friends already digging into grilled fish and steamed rice at the sidewalk stall. One two three four five six. Inside Platinum Mall, as they made their way through hordes of fellow tourists buying scarves and cheap shoes, the sudden bursts of Filipino words (Mahal, Ang ganda o, Tawaran mo pa) causing both confusion and delight, one of his friends said, Meet you downstairs at closing time?, and Harold very nearly said, Okay, but we should tell –

One two three four five six.

There was no one to tell, but Harold felt the uneasiness nestling in his bones, the same disquiet that invaded him whenever he left his rundown Makati apartment in a rush: Did I leave the light on? Did I lock the gate properly? Did I unplug the computer?

Am I forgetting someone?

End of excerpt. Eliza Victoria © 2013

reviews from home

I went home to Bulacan this weekend with J. It had been incredibly humid this weekend! And the heavy rain at night was insane. I wasn’t able to relax as much as I wanted, but still had fun eating proper home-cooked meals.

Brought home some sweets (peach and tamarind) and coffee from Vietnam and Thailand.
Binalay! My favorite dessert from Cagayan Valley.
A drunk J eating binalay.
My brothers in Yellow Cab. We had dinner there before heading to our respective rented apartments.

Let me go through some films I’ve seen a while ago (but forgot to review):

I saw Casino Royale and could now understand why fans of the James Bond franchise didn’t like this new version. Bond seemed too bitter here. There is a better balance of grimness and Bond-playfulness in Skyfall. I enjoyed watching Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), though.

Oz: The Great and Powerful has great effects, but lacks charm. It feels like the producers are holding a checklist and going, “So here’s how we get Elphaba, and here’s how Glinda will meet Oz, and here’s Oz giving gifts – not granting wishes, mind you! – to his friends.” I like origin stories, but this one just drags us from one scene to another. There is a sense of wonder in the beginning, with the huge, tinkling yellowbells and the water fairies, but this amazement soon deflates. James Franco, who is supposed to be wicked but is simply not wicked enough, gets swallowed up by the special effects. Maybe it could have been solved by a different lead? Johnny Depp? Robert Downey Jr?

Anyhoo. Rachel Weisz as the Witch Evanora looks absolutely stunning.


Star Trek: Into Darkness. Everyone’s having a nerd boner, I know. The opening scene is a winner, with the team struggling to deactivate a raging volcano, and Benedict Cumberbatch looks incredibly bad-ass in his fight scenes. BUT, the conflict gets resolved so abruptly that I literally sit up, surprised. That’s it? It’s still a good watch, but the plot unravels as you look closer post-viewing, and the resolution doesn’t feel as satisfying as I have hoped.

Still, bad-ass Cumberbatch.

star trek 2
Yes, I mean you, baby.

Also, finished another book! (Apologies to the books I have abandoned.)

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two couples are meeting up for dinner in a high-end restaurant. One couple – a famous politician and his wife – is used to a life of wealth. The other (we don’t know much about them at this point) is not.

‘What is it?’ Claire asked.
‘Did you see what it says here?’
My wife looked at me questioningly.
‘It says: “Aperitif of the house, ten euros”.’
‘But that’s insane, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘The man said: “We’d like to offer you the aperitif of the house,” right? “The aperitif of the house is pink champagne.” So what are you supposed to think? You think they’re offering you the pink champagne, or am I nuts? If they offer you something, you get it, right? “Can we offer you the this-or-that of the house?” Then it doesn’t cost ten euros, it’s free!’

It is clear, however, from the second couple’s circuitous discussion before entering the restaurant, that this is not just an ordinary dinner. They’re there to discuss something. Something important. Something big. While reading the protagonist’s long, meandering descriptions of the food and the place, I wondered to myself if this novel will just end on a lame reveal.

It doesn’t.

I was attracted to this novel because the entire story is told over the course of a single meal – aperitif, appetizer, main course, dessert, digestif. It was stylistically intriguing, but I didn’t expect to be blown away by how dark it is, by how brilliant Koch was in setting up the big reveal by giving us the details in small morsels, until we choke.

You know how dinners with people you don’t like can be more suspenseful, more nerve-wracking, than any thriller? And we haven’t even started on the secrets.

View all my reviews