The Sunbaked King

Yearend Series 2008: These Are A Few of My Favorite Things (II)

On to the second part of the Awards! It’s time to take a look at the favorite things that defined my lifestyle:

Favorite Restaurant, Prices Within Reach

The nominees are:

Bacolod Chicken Inasal

Mang Inasal

And the Favorite Thing Award goes to:


Mang Inasal

I’m a sucker for inasal. Mang Inasal’s chicken is especially special because the ones they serve are moist, huge, and coated with the most delicious sauce. The price is also quite affordable given the taste and the proportion of the meat.

Ma’am… Sir… EXTRA RICE?

Favorite Restaurant, Prices Beyond Reason

The nominees are:

Chateau, Greenbelt 5
Fish and Co., Greenbelt 3
FlapJacks, Greenbelt 2
Foccacia, A.Venue
Heaven and Eggs [not H&E], Glorietta 4
La Piadina, Glorietta Food Choices
Pepato, Greenbelt 2
The Old Spaghetti House, Katipunan
The Taipan, Philamlife Tower
Zong, The Fort

And the Favorite Thing Award goes to:


Greenbelt 2

When you get served an amuse bouche for the first time, it’s bound to be a treat. When you’re offered freshly squeezed oranges displayed by the window, it’s bound to be a perfect meal. And Pepato was all that and more. Great service, wonderful ambiance, and most important of all, delicious, well-cooked food. I’m eagerly anticipating a repeat.

Favorite Dish

The nominees are:

No need for nominees, this one’s easy. No matter what the restaurant, the Favorite Thing Award goes to:


Seafood Marinara

You know that question, “If you’re stuck in an island, and there’s only one dish you can eat for the rest of your life, what would you eat and why?” This dish is my answer. And I could just get the ingredients right there, just beneath the ocean.

Favorite Drink, Caffeinated

The nominees are:

Caffe Mocha, Starbucks
Caffe Mocha with Hazelnut, Starbucks
Passion Iced Tea, Starbucks
Signature Hot Chocolate, Starbucks
White Chocolate Mocha, Starbucks

The Favorite Thing Award goes to:

Caffe Mocha

It’s quite obvious from the list that I’m a certified Starbucks boy. I was able to complete the sticker thingie last year twice. Given that, I’m also pretty much loyal to one drink: Caffe Mocha. It has the right blend of bitterness and sweetness, it’s not too cloying on the throat, and gives me the necessary jolt that I need. I used to be a White Chocolate Mocha boy, but that was a tad too sweet for me.

As for my favorite non-caffeinated drink:


Calamansi Juice

I love sour, refreshing drinks, and this one fits the bill quite nicely.

Favorite Study Place

The nominees are:

Starbucks 6750
Starbucks Powerplant Mall
Starbucks Rockwell (Jungle)
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Makati Avenue
Seattle’s Best Coffee, Katipunan Avenue

The Favorite Thing Award goes to:


Starbucks Rockwell (Jungle)

It doesn’t meet all the requirements I have in choosing a perfect coffee shop for studying, but it does hold a special place in my heart. Sometimes, good memories override any kind of objectivity. Sometimes, emotions trump the mind. (But that’s just waaaaayyy too serious for this post.)


That’s it, folks! You just happened to view the little things that made my 2008 a happier year to be in. Some of these may change, some may not, but we’ll never know until the end of this year. So stay tuned, kiddos, and watch out for the next Annual These-Are-A-Few-Of-My-Favorite-Things Awards!


Filed under: Being Blue, Bibliomania, Gastronomy, Geekery, Sunshine, Utter Joy, Yearend

Yearend Series 2008: These Are A Few of My Favorite Things (I)

I know, I know. It’s past the first quarter of the year already. But there are some things you just cannot NOT do, you know?


Welcome to the Annual These-Are-A-Few-Of-My-Favorite-Things Awards. For the next two days, I shall regale you with a tribute to all things I loved in the year 2008. For the first day (which is today), we shall take a look into the visual and auditory media that have held my mind and my spirit in such rapture and awe. Without further ado, we begin with…

Favorite Song

The nominees are:

Burnin’ Up, Jonas Brothers
Lucky, Jason Mraz feat. Colbie Caillat
A Little Too Not Over You, David Archuleta
Lovebug, Jonas Brothers
Touch My Hand, David Archuleta
My Hands, David Archuleta
Can I Have This Dance, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens
Circus, Britney Spears
Crush, David Archuleta
You Can, David Archuleta

And the Favorite Thing Award goes to:

archuleta cover art from

You Can
David Archuleta

I don’t think it’s fair to have four of David’s songs in my top 10 and not make him bring home the bacon, do you? Archie surpassed the second placer (who, incidentally, was still him) by a small margin. Sorry, Britney, try again next year.

Show me that good things come to those who wait.

Favorite Movie

The nominees are:

Cloverfield, directed by JJ Abrams
Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr.
The Happening, Mark Wahlberg, directed by M. Night Shymalan
Wanted, Angelina Jolie
Mamma Mia, Meryl Streep
The Dark Knight, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger
Wall-E, Pixar Animation Studios
Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller and a star-studded cast
High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens
Pineapple Express, Seth Rogen, James Franco

And the Favorite Thing Award goes to:


The Dark Knight
Christian Bale, Heath Ledger

The brilliant performance of Heath Ledger, the complex ethical and moral undertones surrounding the film, and pretty much the general kickass awesomeness of The Dark Knight put it way ahead of its competitors. I’ve watched a total of 31 films in 2008, give or take 3, and nothing expresses the “wow” factor more than this dark film of twisted heroism.

Why so serious? πŸ™‚

Favorite TV Series, Reality

The nominees are:

The Amazing Race, Season 13: Nick and Starr win
American Idol, Season 7: David Cook wins
America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 10: Whitney wins
America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 11: McKey wins
Hell’s Kitchen, Season 4: Christina wins
Top Chef, Season 4: Stephanie wins
Top Chef, Season 5: Hosea wins

And the Favorite Thing Award goes to:


America’s Next Top Model
Cycle 10

Among all the shows listed above, I only got ANTM Cycle 10 right. I picked Whitney from the very start, cheered her on even as she got in the bottom two so many times, dismissed rumors of fixing, and laughed as Tyra got her plus-sized model wish. If David Archuleta won American Idol… the award would have went somewhere else. (And really, I still do think The Amazing Race is the best reality TV show of all time.)

Tyra: Let’s not use “plus-sized,” let’s use “full-figured.”
Paulina: Let’s just call it “beautiful.”

Favorite TV Series, Drama/Comedy

The nominees are:

Well… I don’t think there’s any contest last year.
The Favorite Thing Award goes to:


Gossip Girl
Season 2

OMG you guys I can’t believe, like, I missed out on this!!1!! I mean, fine, missing the first season was sooooo L to the ame, but who cares, I’m back in!!! Loving Blair and Chuck and Serena and Eric and Lily and bleching Vanessa, and the entire Humphreys (really, who likes them anyways). Squeeek! Gossip Girl, include me in the email blast!!!1!!

You know you love me…

Favorite TV Series, Local

The nominees are:

Iisa Pa Lamang, ABS-CBN 2
Lipgloss, ABC 5
Pinoy Dream Academy, Season 2, ABS-CBN 2

And the Favorite Thing Award goes to:


Iisa Pa Lamang

One word: Isadora. With a villainess like that, who needs Claudine Barreto? I could watch an entire show with only Isadora plotting. The next best thing about the show are the dialogues. It’s as if the show decided at some point to stop pretending like it was a serious soap and embraced the innate campiness of Filipino soap operas. It utilized the usual soap opera conversation repertoire and cranked it up a thousand notches. Without such a show, you wouldn’t hear this:

Scarlet: Hanggang sa pool ba naman, sinusuot mo pa rin yang diamond necklace mo?
Katherine: Of course! Diamonds are forever… just like me.


That’s the first part. The next part deals with my favorite lifestyle treats.

The Annual Favorite Things Awards shall continue… after the break.

Filed under: Cinema, Geekery, The Couch Potato, TV, Yearend

100 Words

heaven + ground + storm + archuleta + happening + rejection + pasok + flapjacks + forgotten + incredible + california + hermit + games + good + journey + taipan + cows + single + knight + kaban + sunday + boob + four + wall + aisle + august + tomb + chris + iphone + entry + history + sassy + wall-e + birthday + way + breakfast + clone + sumosam + study + darkness + competition + poem + jacques + death + coffee + eavesdropping + contented + corollary + catch + atenista + eagle + embers + other + recovery + melancholia + retreat + one + sidebar + thunder + q + hush + coat + waltz + letters + exam + know + family + musical + incomprehensible + leche + minutes + comeback + comeback + universe + blast + joke + brothers + yearend + series + 2008 + 2009 + goodbye + forgotten + sing + united + nations + avenue + honeymoon + american + hopeless + rest + idol + night + honors + honesty + hot + half-empty + hee + hope + 100 =

100 posts in 100 words.

I’ve gone a long way, and there’s no sign of stopping.

I will never tire of writing.

Filed under: ...And Others, Being Blue, Bibliomania, Cinema, Domesticated, Eros, Fiction, Yes?, Gadgetry, Gastronomy, Geekery, Helios, Mindlifting, Ra, Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, The Couch Potato, Them, TV, Untamed, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness, Vanity, Yearend

Yearend Series 2008: The Year That Was (III)

October to December: So we’ve come to the last leg of 2008, the final quarter of the calendar year. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? πŸ™‚

There are three events that highlight this period: the arrival of family, the case of the exam, and the grand Mindanao tour.

The Arrival of Family. Papa arrived in October for an interview. He’s been under the same company for 25 years now, and it was time to move on. During this time, he resigned and accepted the offer for a new job. As it turned out, he had to return to Manila in November for almost a month of training. Imagine my surprise and joy to find out that he brought Mama with him. For the first time since I was 6 years old, there were four of us in Manila. Just swap Kuya with Kenneth, exchange Manila Zoo with Manila Ocean Park, and remove the fascination with Jollibee and TimeZone, and you’ve got the same deal.

The Case of the Exam. My second local exam, my sixth overall, my seventh technically. I failed my last exam in June, and I certainly didn’t want that to happen again. So by September, I had my schedule all planned out. Unfortunately, there was no way in hell I could follow the schedule; there was simply not enough willpower in me to charge through readings night after night after night. Sometimes the place wasn’t warm enough, I didn’t bring my jacket, something’s distracting me, I left work a little too late, I was too tired, I couldn’t understand my readings–

Excuses. It was a double whammy of faults: 1) I wasn’t studying right; 2) I wasn’t studying. Good thing the lawyers around me took me by the shoulders and shook me. Hard. With only a month to go, I learned how to study. 21 years of studying and I got nothing? Shame on me. Shaaaaaame on me.

I’m still waiting for the results of the exam. Pray for me, amigos.

The Grand Mindanao Tour. Each year, the actuaries and actuaries-to-be from all over meet up and converge in a 2-day-long seminar. Last year it was Cebu. This year, it was Cagayan de Oro. The highlight of each trip is not the 2-day seminar, but the 2-day weekend that follows it. In keeping up with the theme of the seminar (and of year 2008), we explored CDO in a way I haven’t explored anything before: we went adventurous. Risk-ploring has never felt this intense, and I’m not even talking about the canopy walk, or the whitewater rafting, or the zipline. I’m talking about the chase to catch the plane ride home.

But that’s another story to be told another time.

* * * * * * *

I intended “The Year That Was” review to occupy only one entry. As it turned out, one column’s worth of reminiscing is simply not enough. I guess one of the major reasons why I found myself so entranced by writing about 2008 is because I found a theme to encapsulate the entire year: Riskploration. Yes, it appears that the theme for our annual actuarial gathering turned out to be the perfect word to describe what 2008 was like.

Venturing in the Dark. Wading in new territories. Mixing with new circles. Meeting new friends from unlikely places. Choosing paths I would not have normally chosen. Trying out new cuisines. Dining in new restaurants. Reading my way out of Stephen King territory. Gaining newfound confidence. Feeling newfound shame and humility.

So what did I discover in my riskploring?

No matter how much pain and heartbreak the universe throws at you, there’s nothing that time can’t heal, and there’s no one friends can’t save.

Happy new year, everyone. πŸ™‚

Filed under: Yearend

Yearend Series 2008: The Year That Was (II)

May: May 10, 2008. That was perhaps the date when I first glimpsed a world that would soon suck me in. A week later, I found myself in the center of a universe I never had the chance to explore before. I was enthralled, excited, eager.

My life is standing at the threshold of a new world right now. I don’t know what’s out there. I’ve only seen glimpses and only heard sound bites, but the visions I glimpsed were colorful, and the sounds I heard were pleasant to the ear. As it was with every beginning, I’m terrified, and yet excited.

I took the leap and never looked back. Well, until now. Do I regret it? No. Do I wish things turned out differently? No. It wasn’t about the new bonds that were formed; I was thankful for that for so many reasons (a reason to shop for new clothes, on the shallow side; a reason to expand the self in relation to the other, on the deep end). Exploration isn’t so bad, as long as you know what you’re leaving behind.

June: The more I explored this new world, the more I forgot what it was that I left behind. In the process of scouting what I had missed out on, I stumbled upon an especially wonderful gem. I knew about the gem from a friend who first saw it jutting out of a rock; I knew the gem’s power to charm; I knew the gem’s magical properties. But I ignored the warnings my friend gave me. The gem was too beautiful, too irresistible. I had to have it.

The gem accelerated the process of forgetting. But when the gem decided that I was not the right owner for it, my previous life came crashing back down. The fantasy world collapsed around me. One after the other, the dominoes tumbled: a rejection for a job application I thought I aced and an exam that I knew I failed spectacularly.

But it wasn’t all gloom and doom, no matter how much I try to emphasize that it was. I transferred, both in the real world and the virtual world, and I was glad. Our office left its old home and transferred just across the hall, but it felt like we moved from Manila to Makati.

And perhaps the more important transfer: I left Multiply and created The Sunbaked King.

July and August: I didn’t realize how much of my time the blog occupied until I sifted through the archives. Nothing of note happened during July and August, but my blog contained tons of movie reviews, restaurant reviews, book lists, and TV commentaries. It seemed like I dove into blogging and stayed there, and only rose up to breathe a dose of reality occasionally (like during my birthday, which was a superb addicting dose of reality).

The blog transformed from a “stalking” device (or pa-porma device, if you prefer) to something resembling a friend. The Single Guy entries (fiction, yes) served as both my companion and cushion for those times I wondered “if only” and wondered “how come”? And for a while, it worked. And for a moment, I felt, really, really fine.

September: Check out these September entries in my previous blogs:

I’m tired. I’m confused. I don’t want to think anymore. I deserve to be alone. I think I’m meant to be alone.

My self-esteem just dropped a thousand points right now.

You know that you’re not as OK as you think you are when you start singing boy band songs and chewing various candies to console yourself.

On a lighter note, I don’t like the Smoothie Mix series of Skittles. Damn you, Cotton Candy flavor! But I ate you anyway.

Wait. That wasn’t so light a note, after all.

As you can see, September was my Waterloo month, the month that trumped all other months in terms of self-pity and defeat. But in 2008, September was a month of redemption, of recollection, of revival. For the first time in months, I felt contented. With just a change in routine, my life seemed to turned around. I had time to do everything: study for my exams, blog during nighttime, party during weekends (O, the Dark, the Dark), and bond with new-found friends. Never mind the crisis in the insurance industry; never mind the stress of the impending exams. Indeed, I felt a flash of hope that the year would end at a very high note.

And it didn’t hurt that Ateneo won the basketball championship. πŸ™‚

Filed under: Yearend

Yearend Series 2008: The Year That Was (I)

My Comeback entries (I and II) almost served as a summary of the year that was. Almost is the operative word here, because those entries never fully encapsulated what 2008 was for me. Good thing. If that were the case, 2008 would be known as the Year Love Never Really Took Flight, or, as whispered in some circles, the Year of Suck.

There’s so much more to 2008 than the fact that I wasn’t able to find a partner for myself. There is always more to life than romantic relationships. My roommate and very good friend Jeland reminds me constantly– “You make me complete” is a fundamentally wrong sentiment. You don’t need anyone to feel complete. You don’t need somebody to be happy. I say this, of course, at the risk of sounding bitter and forlorn; but the sentiment remains true nonetheless.

So what else is there? Here’s a rundown of the year that was.

January to April: There’s a reason why I lumped these months together: not much happened. Check out this entry during April, aptly titled “Holding On Steady”:

I’m neither too happy nor too sad… I’m currently in a state of neutrality. On the one hand this is good, since riding on a rollercoaster of emotions can be quite taxing on my wee little heart… On the other hand, this neutrality scares me… because the balance can tip anytime. If the gods are listening, I would very much prefer it if show time begins after my next set of exams. But knowing the universe? I have a feeling it will come much sooner.

Who knew I was prophetic? The rollercoaster did come just around crunch time, and I paid a dear price for the ride. But before the troughs and the crests of whirling emotions, of unrequited love, and of new acquaintances, there were the months January to April. I passed my December actuarial exam, Jel passed his bar exams, and we both attached some kind of title in our names. His, more popular; mine, more fabulous.Β In between exams, I took a side trip to Tagaytay and Batangas for some much-needed breaks. In between exams, I started my Restaurant Hopping and burned money in my quest to eat outside my comfort zones (meaning: Jollibee and KFC). This was perhaps the start of the realization that there are things I have not fully explored and yet could. Like the Cowardly Lion, all I needed was a little dash of courage and chutzpah.

Chutzpah was what I had when I decided to take on the responsibility of being a godfather to my friend’s newborn son. It was my first time, after all. Chutzpah was also what I had tons of when I decided to use my credit card in buying my new camera (the Canon S5 IS, bought January) and my new music player (the first-generation iPod Touch, bought April). Poverty became a recurring theme in 2008, but I didn’t care. Spending/shopping took my mind off things, and would continue to do so later on.

Things like getting sick with the poo-poo (I crawled to the hospital alone, wee). Things like feeling lazy, over-indulgent, and stupid. Things like friendships that need mending. Things like selves that need exploring.

When May came in, holding on steady was the furthest thing that was on my mind.

Filed under: Yearend