April 21, 2012

April 18, 2012

Angelito: Batang Ama Finale Viewing Party

I thought of immortalizing the pictures of my baby's finale viewing party, thus, this entry. :)

My Angelito family
Sigh! I miss the people in front of and behind the show already!  Here's the link to the Facebook album. :)

April 15, 2012

The Great Melbourne Trip 2012

I finally experienced my first travel alone and outside Asia last Holy Week. I went down under, to Melbourne and needless to say, I had the time of my life!:)  I would like to share to you my travel in pictures.

Day 1: April 3, Tuesday

I arrived in Melbourne at around 9:30am from Kuala Lumpur.  I immediately rode the Skybus that will take me to Southern Cross station in the Central Business District.  The long flight made me hungry, I went straight to the first fastfood I saw to eat.  This was my lunch in Hungry Jacks, their own version of Burger King.

I then rode a tram that will bring me to Space Hotel, my hostel in Melbourne  (More story about this hostel later).  Anyway, this was where the confusion started.  It was ignorant of me to assume that the trams inside Melbourne's Central Business District only travel in 1 direction.  In other words, I got lost.  Melbourne locals were very helpful, though.  After 2 tram rides, I finally found my hostel. 

It was already nighttime when I woke up from my nap in the hostel. I would be going to a Couchsurfer's meet-up in Queensberry Hotel, about 5 blocks away from my hostel.  I went there but I got overwhelmed by the large number of white people in the pub. I found myself hesitant, paranoid and insecure to enter.  What if I will run out of English?  What if they will discriminate me?  And so,  I chickened out and U-turned to a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant.  I ate dinner while gathering courage. LOL! :)

After dinner, I went back back again to Queensberry Hotel.   I entered its pub, searched for the Couchsurfing banner and found myself introducing to other couchsurfers.  I am glad I conquered my nerves because the meet-up turned out to be one of the memorable highlights of my trip.  My fears were also unfounded for the other couchsurfers were just so open and friendly. 
In just one night, I was able to meet couchsurfers from more than 10 countries.  I met someone from Estonia, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Hongkong, Singapore, Holland, Australia, China, etcetera.  Everyone has a different story to tell and it's amazing listening to their stories.

By the end of the night, we were already exchanging emails and inviting one another to visit our respective countries.

Day 2: April 4, Wednesday

On day 2, I went to Melbourne Tourist Center and paid 20 Australian dollars to join a Historical Walking Tour.  Later I found out that Melbourne is very tourist friendly, you can actually do the tour yourself by following these pavement signs while reading a brochure.  Still, no regrets.  It pays to have company.

My company happened to be Margaret from New York and a middle-aged couple from Perth.  The husband's name is Wayne which I did not get at first since he pronounced it as "wine".  Jim was our tour guide and he was a passionate tour guide.  He really knows a lot, and I mean a lot, about Melbourne history.

This is Yarra River where the trade happened in old Melbourne.  The tallest building that you see is Eureka Tower, the tallest building in the city.  I learned from Jim that Melbourne is actually a young city. It was just founded in the 1840s.  It used to be a penal colony... Well, I'll save you from the history lesson.  You can wiki Melbourne's history yourselves but it does feel good to be walking and seeing the old architecture that's part of Melbourne's history still erected and functional. 
Melbourne's story is a story of immigrants that is why it has an Immigrant Museum with a memorial garden listing the names of its first immigrants.  I also noticed that Jim makes light of Melbourne's founders.  He told us their flaws and misgivings.  In a way, even if not necessarily gaining sympathy, it made them more human and not history book characters.
What I also admire about Melbourne is the way they preserve their old architecture.  This is the interior of what used to be the old Rialto building.  Now, it is Hotel Intercontinental.  Notice how they mix old and modern architecture. Beautiful, isn't it?  I hope we can do that also to our old buildings here rather than demolish them.

This is the exterior of the Rialto building, now Hotel Intercontinental, still preserved.  You may view the other pictures I took from our Historical Walking Tour in my Facebook album.

Even if I got "lost" sometimes in the tour because of Jim's heavy accent (I'm sorry!), one thing is clear to me.  A country with a clear sense of history is a beautiful country.  Here's our customary group picture after the tour.

After the Historical Walking Tour, I was off to meet George Clipp, my Couchsurfer host who would also give me a walking tour.  I met him in Melbourne Town Hall and he was with his good friend Matt Cleaves.  They then brought me to Hotel Sofitel where I got a bird's eye-view of Melbourne.

The catch is, I was able to view this for free.  The free view deck is inside the men's toilet in Hotel Sofitel's 35th floor.  (Now, that's a backpacking tip!)
We were really inside the men's toilet as you can see. :)  That's George and Matt admiring the view themselves.

On the left is Matt and on the right is George.  George is originally from Manchester but he studied in Melbourne where he met Matt.  They are award-winning independent filmmakers in Melbourne.  (You can Google their names if you want to see their works).  They are also two of the nicest guys I have met.
Since obviously they're into arts, they then brought me to one of the graffiti alleys in Melbourne.  I got to take a look at the many beautiful street artworks.

We asked some tourists to take our pictures in one of the graffiti walls.  It turned out the tourists are also from the Philippines.  It was an awesome coincidence!  They ended up joining us to our next stop.
Our next stop was The American Center for The Moving Image.  You know what, as I'm writing this, I realize that George and Matt were actually bringing me to venues connected to the arts.  Nice!  Anyway, leftmost Pinay is Hanica and rightmost Pinoy is Ryan.  They're travel buddies.  They've known each other since they were in high school in Bicol and studied uni in Ateneo de Manila. 

There are lots of cool stuff in ACMI especially for cinephiles like us. What's cooler is that there's no entrance fee!  George, Matt and I had fun doing this time-slice animation video ala The Matrix. I also have other videos inside ACMI.  I might post them here or in my Facebook account.

ACMI is also a museum of film memorabilia from movies made in Australia.  This one's the car used in Mad Max.  Remember that flick?! :)
After ACMI, we went to the Block Arcade to have coffee.  We had so much fun exchanging stories and opinions on wide array of topics that we lost track of time.  We left the coffee shop and bade each other goodbye around sunset.  I gave George and Matt a pack of dried mangoes from the Philippines as a thank you gift. :)  (Actually, George has already been to the Philippines.  He mostly stayed in Sagada and directed a documentary about Philippine politics while staying there.  He was here during the election period last year.)

In the evening, I had my first couchsurfing experience in North Carlton suburbia in Mick Power's house.  Mick is an environmental lawyer.  He's originally from Perth but studied law in University of Melbourne.  He lives in Melbourne now with his other classmates Matt, a union lawyer, and Nick, another lawyer.  I got to meet all his housemates plus Mick's girlfriend Jo.  They asked me stories about my job as soap opera director in the Philippines.  I ended up showing them You Tube clips of Angelito and telling them the whole story of the soap.  They were genuinely amazed.  They even reenacted the scenes they saw on You Tube.  Here, they were reenacting Angelito and Rolan's fight scene. LOL!:)

They also reenacted the waterfalls scene of Rosalie and Angelito.  LOL!  These guys are funny.  A tidbit that I learned, law is an undergraduate course in Australia. 

(L-R) Me, Matt and Jo.  Matt has been to the Philippines also but his experience is quite different from George.  His rich Filipino uni classmate brought him here.  Matt remembers his classmate living in a gated community in Makati with security guards and maids.  He also remembers them going to Boracay.  Like any other tourist, he was also asked to eat the balut.

That's my Couchsurfer host Mick Powers in the center.  I have nothing but gratitude for him.  He was sick that day and yet he was still very generous, excited and accommodating.  His girlfriend Jo was also very sweet to me.  I gave them Philippine dried mangoes as thank you gift.  :)

Day 3: April 5, Thursday

I had a laid-back Day 3.  I first met up with former Neighbours soap opera writer and screenwriting teacher Luke Devenish for brunch.  I met Luke last year in the Philippines when I attended his workshop sponsored by my company.  He kind of also helped me plan my Melbourne trip by sending me web links on Facebook.  Anyway, we chit-chatted about our respective TV industries. It was very enlightening. He told me he uses the ABS-CBN soap Imortal as reference on how soap operas are done in the Philippines.  He lets his students watch the soap without subtitles and the beauty of Philippine soap opera, he said, is that his students still understand the story.  I guess, this is the reason why Mick, Matt and Jo had big reactions to Angelito the previous night.  I then casually mentioned to Luke that there are many good-looking people in Melbourne.  He told me that when he went to Manila, he also observed the same. I guess the saying is true.  Beauty is relative. :) 

After the lovely brunch, I walked around town and took pictures of great architecture. Here in my background is the famous train station in Melbourne, Flinders Street Station.

I had lunch in Brunetti, a Lonely Planet recommendation.  I had orange juice, tomato salad...
... and the best tiramisu I've ever tasted.  This was heavenly!

Since it was Holy Thursday, I walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  It's a beautiful cathedral.

This is how the cathedral looks inside.  I didn't use any photo filter here.  Anyway, I prayed and then I unabashedly cried.  I know it's weird but I just felt so blessed that very moment. :)

Nighttime, I met up with Hanica and Ryan and watched two comedy shows at the ongoing Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  The first show was a series of sketches by Idiot of Ants.  It was hilarious.  I was in stitches while watching it.  The second show was a stand-up comedy by Michael Chamberlain.  I found the humor too Aussie so I didn't get most of the jokes.

Then I got a text from Ursule who I met in the Couchsurfer's meet up in Queensberry.  He said they're in Station 8 Bar across Lonsdale Street and invited me to come.  We went and had fun! We also got to meet more French people. :)

Day 4: April 6, Friday

I spent the whole day 4 on the Great Ocean Road Tour.  The tour started at 9 in the morning and ended at 9 at night.  Since there were only a few of us in the tour (we rode in a van instead of a bus), the tour assured us of many stops and longer time per stop.  I just had to pay more but in the end it was worth it!  I'd say this was a travel highlight!   The tour's first stop was Torquay beach.  I immediately befriended American boy Evan who was vacationing with his mom Karen.  Here's Evan with Torquay beach in the background.  This beach is a surfer's paradise. I saw many in action that day.
We had tea breakfast in Torquay beach too.  I chose to drink coffee, though.  I went home late from the gimmick the previous night and needed to be awake. :) 

Finally got a taste of Vegemite for breakfast.  I'm not a fan.  We actually featured Vegemite as conflict to the interracial love plot in my old series Good Vibes before.  After tasting Vegemite, I now understand the characters. LOL!  I did love the taste of their traditional Lamington cakes.

Our next stop was the Split Point Lighthouse.  It has a view deck where we can see some beach and islets below.  Here, I was with Leni and her daughter Aris.  They're from Penang, Malaysia.  Leni's son Keith just enrolled in Melbourne's RMIT taking up animation.  Leni moved to Melbourne just to be with him.

Then, we moved to the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch.  This is me with the arch in the background.
We went down the beach near the Memorial Arch.  I just had to take time to appreciate earth's beauty.

Our tour continued and we ended in a public beach along The Great Ocean Road.  It would have been nice to dip into the ocean but it's autumn in Melbourne so I presumed it's really cold.

Our tourmates and I decided to just lay on the grass and share each other's stories.  (L-R) Keith, Leni, Karen, I, Evan
We moved along to Kenet River and finally saw a koala bear for the first time.  Cutie patootie!
Then we fed the birds!  I thought this was a Kookaburra, but no.  Couldn't get my mind off that Kookaburra song after this, though. LOL!  Anyway, I pretty much squealed when the bird landed on my palm.  I wasn't really into birds until this moment. Haha!
Then we stopped at a town along Apollo Bay to have lunch.  I'm glad there was wifi in the resto where we ate.   I got to update everyone through Instagram. Hehe.  I had lamb for lunch.  It tasted alright. :) 
After lunch, we went to Mait's Rest to see different species of trees.  This was some kind of a lowlight because the forest reminded me of forests in Subic.  The other tourists were amazed, though.   I did only when I saw a tall eucalyptus tree for the first time.  Nevertheless, I had fun taking pictures with Evan and Aris.  Here we were under a tree trunk.

Finally, we went to the tour highlight! Twelve Apostles!  This was a must-go and must-see!

A friend commented on Instagram that the scenery in the background looks like an opening scene from a movie like Lord of the Rings.  I agree.  It was that cinematic!

Then it drizzled!  And believe me, a drizzle in autumn feels reeeeally cold!

And windy too! :)  By the way, did I tell you already that Karen works for Fox's marketing department?  Her current project is Ice Age 4.  Cool, isn't it?!:)
But after the rain, comes the rainbow! 

And what a beautiful rainbow it was!  I was on a high seeing that rainbow. :)
Here's the other side of Twelve Apostles!  Magnificent view!

We went down Gibson Steps after, to this beach.  It was also drizzling, thus the hazy background.

Our next stop was Loch Ard George.  I was in front one of the caves.

Then, eureka!
I'm running out of adjectives but wow, really WOW! :)

On our way to the next stop, we spotted some kangaroos. The kids alighted the van to chase after the kangaroos. Sadly for me, I wasn't quick enough to get my camera and take a picture of a kangaroo. But I did see real and live ones! :)

Our last stop before dinner was London Bridge.  It fell in 1991.  They used to be connected.
We waited for sunset in London Bridge and it was worth the wait!

I truly felt blessed and grateful to experience The Great Ocean Road Tour.  If you want to see the other Great Ocean Road pictures, just view my Facebook album. :)

Day 5: April 7, Saturday

On my last day, I realized I still haven't taken a touristy picture of my hostel room so here it is!  But this wasn't my room in the first 2 days.  I was in a dorm room where I was roommates with a 30 year old guy from Manchester and a retired Mom from Japan.  I got transferred here because of an online reservation fiasco.  I first booked at a booking site that told me it wasn't successful so I booked again in Agoda.  Lo and behold, when I checked my email, the other reservation got through so I had to cancel it.  When I arrived in Space, they thought I cancelled both reservation altogether.  They did check me in but they said everything will depend on the room's availability every day.  In the end, being transferred to this room was a blessing in disguise because I had this room by myself. :)
It was another laid-back last day.  Went to the artsy street in Brunswick for brunch.  I tried Babka, another Lonely Planet recommendation.
This was a typical scene at Babka.  It's a popular place.  I had to wait in line to get a table.

I had this scrambled egg Russian style (it was alright) and hot chocolate with marshmallows (their marshmallows taste different, they're sweeter).  I also got to finish Julian Barnes' The Sense of An Ending while eating at Babka.  Very powerful book.  I didn't expect the ending and I'm still thinking about what happened in the book days after I read it.  Tell me if you want to borrow the book.  I will happily lend it.
I then window-shopped in Burke Street.  "Window shop" is the term because the items there are so expensive.  A Jag jeans cost 5,000 pesos, it was ridiculous!  I did bought some souvenirs along Swanston.  This is a picture of "The Purse", a shopping landmark in Bourke Street.
In the evening, I dined in Grossi Italiano, a Travel Advisor recommendation.  I had some red wine and just took everything in - the view, the atmosphere, the food...

I love Italian food but I did not like this much, though.  I should have gone for their lasagna which the Italian waiter highly recommended.  After dinner, I went to Collingwood and danced the night away!

I definitely left Melbourne feeling "bitin".  There was so much more to do there and while I enjoyed the touristy stuff, it was mingling with the people, fellow tourists and locals, that I enjoyed the most.  I learned so much from my encounters with them.  The theory of semiotics come into play.  Everything is about perspective and knowing that, it makes me appreciate humanity more.  What I also like about traveling is that it shows you the limitless possibilities the world can offer.  You don't have to put yourself inside a box, you can step outside it and while scary, explore and be open to whatever that will come your way.  Of course, I did enjoy the beautiful scenery that came along my learning.:)  Lastly, I realize that I'm going to make traveling my vice and I can't wait for the next adventure!

Here's the link to my Facebook album.