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Wine Night at Barcino

For our Christmas dinner this year, Louie and I decided to try something a little different. A few weeks ago, in one of his weekly meetings in Rockwell, he made a reservation in Barcino at Power Plant. We figured it would be a great way of celebrating my last semester in law school, his career progression, and also the year that was, which is definitely - for lack of a better term - one for the books.

Oddly, despite it being just a few days away from Christmas, I haven't been 100% into the Christmas cheer. I suppose it's just because the last few weeks have been about studying for finals (my final finals, so the pressure was on), that I didn't have time to really embrace the whole holiday spirit right away. But when we got inside the mall and I saw all the lights and decorations, my eyes lit up like a 7-year-old on Christmas morning! It was beautiful. Each beam was adorned with green garlands and red ribbons, and the hallways were lined with potted poinsettias. (Alliteration is awesome!) It was quite a sight; what a way to trigger all my Christmas-y emotions!

'Tis the most wonderful time of the year!

When we finally decided to have dinner, I was surprised to find out that there was only one booth - the wine cellar. All the bottles adorned the shelves, and we had the small room all to ourselves. Lovely wouldn't even begin to describe it. It was nice because we felt really ~VIP~ and special.

Juan Tree Gil :))

Louie ordered Spanish wine to pair with our cheese and chorizo platter. Admittedly, I'm not much of a wine gal (beer or Long Island iced tea is more like it, LOL) so just having something new to try was exciting. In addition, we also had seafood paella, because I was craving it. A few years ago, we used to have paella at my Wowa's house in Batangas for Christmas. Recently, however, we've just opted to check in a hotel to celebrate, since my aunt's passing and my Wowa's accident. The staycation is less of a hassle for everyone, and it's great because we get to eat out. But of course I still miss Wowa's paella, so this was a great way of being reminded of the good ol' holidays :)

The cheese was good, but to no one's surprise, I still didn't like blue cheese. #uncultured :)) It reminded me of an awkward moment of mine when we had a trip to Amish Country in Ohio a few years back. The elderly in the community were showing us their products, and being the polite (and naive) girl that I was, I tried out their samples. Wrong move to go for the "cookies-and-cream-looking" cheese! I couldn't hide the disgust on my face! And while I uttered my revulsion in straight Tagalog ("Ang panget ng lasaaaa!!"), I'm pretty sure they could tell I was not pleased. I still carry the Amish grandma's disappointed face with me every single day of my life :))

...sorry, I digress!

Anyway, I am not ashamed to say that Louie and I almost finished everything. I wish I had a better word for delicious, because it all tasted so, so good. That, or we were just tired and hungry because traffic along EDSA is terrible! And justthat in general 2016 was such a mess, so we felt like we deserved to wolf down a meal to reward ourselves for surviving it! :))

But no, really, the food and wine was fantastic.

Yes, it was scrumptious. Those chorizos - man, I could marry them! 

Surrounded by spirits ;)

Jologs Girl fun fact: This VIP room was the exact spot where James and Nadine officially became a couple! Hahahaha! :)) More than all the fancy stuff, this little trivia was what took the cake! :)) Thank goodness for Louie who understands my #fangirl heart. :))

JN or KL? :))

I guess that's it for our 4th Christmas dinner together. It was quite a year for all of us but at the end of the day, there are still many, many things to be thankful for. It's good to be reminded of that every once in a while :)

Happy holidays! ♥


December in UP

Last week, I had my last classes and took my final exams in the College of Law. For the most part, I expected to be more emotional, more bittersweet about it. But as the days went on I just felt more relieved than anything else. This was the moment that I've long been dreaming of, the part where I can look at Malcolm Hall and say, "Wow, what a ride." But that day, when I took my last exam ever as a student, I gazed at our building and just uttered, "Hay, I just want to eat." :))

It's true, you can't predict your feelings, not even when you've imagined them all in your head for the last four and a half years. Which is funny, because being the emotional person that I am, one of my best friends was teasing me - "For sure, iiyak ka after Civ!" And I was so ready to cry that day. But I didn't. Instead, I let out a hearty laugh and craved for Burger King.

Which isn't to say that I don't feel sentimental at all. Of course I do. UP has been home for the last eight years. I've spent a huge fraction of my life here. I first stepped foot in the campus when I was a young, naive, idealistic 16-year-old. And now I'm a... uhh... 25. :)) I grew up here, and of course it's difficult to leave for good. But at the same time, eight years was such a long time of being confined inside the bubble. It was tiring. Most of my time was spent with books, with ideas. Now I'm just glad to finally have succeeded.

I reckon the heavy waterworks will be coming when I actually graduate, i.e., ceremony, sablay, UP Naming Mahal, the whole enchilada. But for now, I'm just really excited to have reached the finish line. Finally! I got into law school hoping and praying that I will get out of it in one piece. I did! I really effin' did! Who would have thought?! Now give me those burgers! :))


Later that week, I also attended the Lantern Parade, my first time since 2013. As per tradition, I was with two of my college best friends, Ria and Adrian. When we were in undergrad, our big group would sit on the steps of Melchor Hall and spend half a day there, watching as the festivities unfold. A lot of things have changed since then, most notable of which - aside from all of us graduating, of course - was the change in the academic calendar. Before, the last week of December meant Engineering Week, and the night of the Lantern Parade meant Miss Eng'g. Good times.

One night and one more time: Thanks for the memories, Eng'g

It's pretty much obvious by now what a special place I have in my heart for Eng'g. That's where I found my bestest, closest friends, my funniest escapades, and my greatest crush - who also became my greatest love. #yihee But the truth is, I really feel such a strong affinity with the college even though I never took classes there. So I just felt like it was proper to spend my last Lantern Parade as a student in the same place where I made so many memories.

Since the Parade is scheduled at the last day of the academic semester, it meant less people. It was at the tail-end of finals week, so I suppose most people were either still studying for exams or were already done and have gone back to their provinces. But while the crowd wasn't as big, the lanterns still lived up to my expectations. I was super pleased that most of them not only embodied a Christmas theme, but also carried with them a strong sentiment against the current political climate. I was especially proud of College of Law's lantern, of course, since it featured Lady Justice with the words "Marcos Not A Hero." We really are in trying times, and it's good to know that even in the middle of such revelry, there is still room to acknowledge the struggle that lies outside.

It's things like this that I'll really miss about UP.


But of course, there's still one place that I will always consider home.

Shortly after the Lantern Parade, my friends and I went to AS to fetch our other kabarkada Jio, who is now a history professor. (Coincidentally, he's also the boyfriend of my law school blockmate and sis, Therese). After the fire that destroyed the Faculty Center, they were relocated to what was formerly the Chem Pavilion. It was newly renovated after it was also razed in flames a couple of years before. The entire first floor corridor of the pavilion felt eerily familiar - and then I remembered, it was where I took my UPCAT in 2007!

And now, that very same corridor houses the offices and departments of my college, the College of Arts and Letters. This was what made me feel really nostalgic. It still breaks my heart thinking about all that was lost in that April fire - more than just the memories, but all the books! Pieces of literature that were parts of history. Gone.

Always love: Home is wherever DECL is

But, as they say, art is never really destroyed. Much like energy, it just transforms, and finds other ways to be re-created. I walked the corridors where CAL is now located, and I found small comfort in knowing that they have now planted new seeds there. Time for new art to flourish, and new stories to be told. :)


My last few nights in QC I spent with friends--

After Lantern Parade I met up with the rest of my college barkada at a friend's house. It wasn't even a third of the entire group, but that's still a feat considering our number (30??), our busy schedules, and our zip codes. It's a different kind of fun when I'm with them because I can be my most natural, no pretenses, and still be completely at home. We always just pick up where we left off, and never run out of things to talk laugh about. We had pizza and beer; Ria also brought some home-cooked pesto rolls (or what our friend Enzo dubbed as "lumpiang pesto" haha!). It's the simple things that I love most when it comes to these guys. No charades, and eight years later, we're still quite the same people. Which is the kind of constancy we need in these crazy times, really.

Just like the good ol' days

Then the day after was my food trip / tita date with my blockmate sisses. The five of us are the only Portians in our block, with two of them having taken the bar last November, two of us graduating this semester, and one who transferred in another law school. So it really is a rarity to have all of us in one place! And what a riot. I've never eaten that much food in a span of 12 hours! We decided to try and venture out into the Kapitolyo area since we never go there. For lunch, we wanted to be adventurous and ate at Locavore. (Everything we ordered was sooo goood!). Then we walked around East Kapitolyo, stopped by some craft stores, and ended up having cakes at Epic Cafe. Then we waited for the Sky High Bar to open to cap off our night with some drinks. Talking about exams, firm interviews, and clients never seemed so fancy :))

Locavore with Des, Chrissa, Kat, and Therese

With my best girls and the best chocolate cake this side of the metro!

Hello, Ortigas! Love, North and South girls


In hindsight, it was a great weekend for ~closure~. I don't think it has really sunk in yet that I'll be leaving Quezon City, and be crawling back to my domicile in Paranaque for good. But more than feeling wistful, I'm actually more thrilled. Eight years in a place like UP was more than what most people can ask for in their lifetime. But now it's time to settle back into our home and make myself comfortable with the idea that I'm finally a permanent resident of our house again. A lot of adjustments to be expected, yes, especially given the grueling months ahead for bar review. But I think I made the right decision to surround myself with the best people in my life instead, and that's my family, who's been my support system since Day 1.

TL;DR: I miss my mom and pop so much, so it's definitely great to be back! I'm going to miss you QC, but Paranaque's still the shizz ;)


Light up the stage

       Team Sleep

you make that dance look so new
and I'm on a face like you've never seen

On most nights, I go to sleep with a heavy feeling in my chest, the kind that makes me feel sad for the country and what happens to each of us when we set out for the real world.

But there are nights when I am unfettered by these thoughts, and instead I go to sleep dreaming of dreams I used to have, the kind that will let me pen stories about people and places, about love and loss, about things unsaid between gasps for air. And every single time, these scenes I create in my head, that chimera of putting to paper something fleeting but powerful, it's punctuated by the sweeping choruses of this man. 

Chino Moreno, thank you for saving my life many times over. Thank you for Deftones, for Team Sleep, for Crosses, for Palms. For every album, for every band you were in. For helping me see beauty in the darkness, but also the exquisiteness in finding the light. It has been years, and you're still carrying me through. Look at how far your music has gotten me.