2016 Read Log


Like the shock (for most) in various ways, this year, 2016, has brought, I also surprised myself by finally owning a Kindle.

Albeit the expensive tax fees I spent and the (still) feeling of lack of a reading experience as compared with a tangible book (all book nerds will understand what I mean), it is a lovely purchase that is worth the favor and the expenses due to its handiness especially when I am on travel and the reading ease it brings to my eyes.

With 24, 2016 is my most read year ever since I started counting in 2014. It is almost half of my (very ambitious) annual goal of 50.

Looking at my accomplished line up, a theme coincidentally (or not) ensues – unconventional.

The books have astonished me in different ways; how unique and original the writings and how they challenge the linear perspective the world knows. I am very grateful to have discovered and read them. Thank you to these inspiring authors who have allowed us (me) to temporarily reside and have a glimpse of their beautiful minds.

See my 2016 log below.

12.31 – The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
12.27 – Star Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka
11.02 – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
10.29 – Daring & Disruptive (unleashing the entrepreneur) by Lisa Messenger
10.23 – Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
10.11 – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
10.07 – Think Like An Artist and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life by Will Gompertz
09.25 – Chic (Tips on Life, Style, and Work) by Daphne Osena Paez
09.24 – Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
09.12 – Originals (How Non-Conformists Move The World) by Adam Grant
09.10 – Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
08.08 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Based on an Original New Story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne)
07.16 – The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
06.16 – Shoe Dog (A Memoir by the Creator of Nike) by Phil Knight
05.22 – essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
05.15 – The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
05.07 – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
05.01 – Everyone Can Be Creative: Inspiring Habits from an Ex-Nun by Merlee Cruz-Jayme
04.30 – Quiet (The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking) by Susan Cain
03.24 – Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
03.24 – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (Newt Scamander) by J.K. Rowling
03.12 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
02.27 – How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg
02.13 – After You by Jojo Moyes

*** Indicated dates are completion dates.


© rooks 2017

Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Movie

Miss Saigon 25

I was young, naive, and lived on a college allowance when I first watched Miss Saigon using complimentary tickets that gave me and my cousin the opportunity to watch it live from Balcony 2 of the PICC. We were giddy and very excited. For what seems to be a curse by a roommate who gave it to us because she had a huge fight with her then boyfriend that they decided to cancel their theater date, it was heaven sent for us. We felt we won the lottery. We were ecstatic.

Ms. Lea Salonga is not exaggerating with her high praises on the performance of Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi and Jon Jon Briones as the engineer in the Miss Saigon revival of 2014. In fact, it is an understatement. Truly, Filipino talent is world class. Thank you for sharing your gift to the world.

Experiencing the amazing Miss Saigon in my youth, I never stopped watching and loving theater from then on. I still have most of my paper tickets as souvenirs. To see the progress I have made from free tickets to only able to afford a balcony seat to VIP is a personal achievement. I can only be grateful.

My theater timeline with Ms. Lea Salonga.
  They’re Playing Our Song (2000)
  Cinderella (2008)
  Cats (2010)
  Fun Home (later this month, Nov 2016)

Of all my theater adventures (with or without Ms. Salonga as cast), Miss Saigon is still number 1 in my heart in many ways. It is my first theater love. And even after 15 years, it is still too much for one heart. I am always in awe of the musicale’s genius. I hope to watch it again on a live performance. On the other side of the earth… why not!

A Weekend with the Arts: ManilArt 2016 & Think Like An Artist by Will Gompertz

Recuerdos by Dominic Rubio

Recuerdos by Dominic Rubio. His gallery is one of my favorites. Art Critic Cid Reyes praised him for being “technically adept in displaying impressive workmanship”.

Celebrating its 8th year, ManilArt continues to support and uphold the best of Philippine art from the various regions in the country. As the country’s longest running art fair, it aims to create more awareness and appreciation for Filipino art.

The theme of the artists ranged from history to contemporary to modern to cultural interpretations – revering our being Filipino, uniquely and proudly ours.

I Fear That Silence by Rommel Sampana

(Right) I Fear That Silence by Rommel Sampana.

Among the abundance of creativity, I am especially drawn to “I Fear That Silence” (Oil on Canvas) by Rommel Sampana. Its black and gray grandeur expresses a meditative journey of a heart’s silent beatings to distant emotions that defines a human experience. I would definitely purchase the painting if I had the means. For now, I am contented with a souvenir photo beside it.

Think Like An Artist by Will Gompertz

Incidentally, the night before my visit to the galleries, I concluded my reading in Think Like an Artist and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life by Will Gompertz. Gompertz present delightful anecdotes and a handful of attributes of some of the world’s leading creative thinkers from Caravaggio to Warhol, Da Vinci to Ai Weiwei, etc., from which the readers can learn and be inspired.

Indeed, there is much to discover on the artist more than the masterpiece.

While the known greats of the arts are humanity’s treasure, our nation’s distinct talents of the experienced and the young are also a class of our own – truly world class. Our appreciation and support on their works are fuels to an exciting and ingenious future.

ManilArt 2016 concluded its exhibit last Oct. 9, 2016.
It was held at the 3/F SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City, from Oct. 6-9, 2016 (11AM – 9PM).


© rooks 2016

CHIC by Daphne Oseña-Paez


As in life in general, I am cautious, restrained, and reflective. I do not instantaneously take delight in a fad that may currently be making the universe crazy. I do calculated risks most of the time. But, when it comes to adventure like zip lining, sky diving (which I did last May 2015), etc., or to my obsession to learn through books (the annual book fair is my kryptonite and my kind of chaos), that is a different story from a perspective of my introversion. At first I thought CHIC is all about being “hip and modern” but as I read through, it is a blend of the best in generations. I am glad to indulge.

I read a lot of biographies. In fact, I ensure to read a biography at least once every year. The story of an individual fascinates and inspires me. With CHIC, it is a unique semi-biography in a magazine style treat by Daphne Oseña-Paez. I leafed through every page in admiration and full attention. Her views on faith, parenting, fashion, love, and life resonate with what I similarly would want to accomplish in life. The essence of it…

I love every chapter that starts with something historically personal, followed by tips/lessons, and a different outlook on life from one on one interviews with some of our society’s icons. Indeed, it is a taste of life, style, work, and more.

To those who are still finding themselves in this scheme of things, CHIC will inspire you. May you find your true self and live the life you dream in style.


© rooks 2016

Malaysia: Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is the capital state of Sabah, Malaysia. Sabah is one of the states and federal territories of Malaysia. It is located in Borneo, the third largest island in the world and the largest island in Asia. Borneo is politically divided between 3 countries: Brunei and Malaysia in the north, and Indonesia to the south. Kota Kinabalu is formerly known as Jesselton, named after Sir Charles Jessel who served as the Vice-Chairman of BNBC (British North Borneo Company). It is also known as KK.

Map of Borneo

Day 1 – Arrival and a Do-It-Yourself Tour

11 - Kota Kinabalu

We stayed at the Grandis Hotel. It is a 15-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu International Airport. The location of the hotel is strategic as it is beside a mall and is a walk away from some of the tourist attractions and food establishments.  I commend this hotel for their overall cleanliness.

28 - Kota Kinabalu

Sabah Tourism Building. Located along Gaya Street, it is only one of three buildings that survived the bombings of WWII. This is where we acquired our free traveler’s map and guide.

1 - Kota Kinabalu

The starting point of our morning walk & hike to get a good view of Kota Kinabalu.

2 - Kota Kinabalu

Signal Hill Observatory Tower. The highest point in the city.

3 - Kota Kinabalu

Atkinson Clock Tower. It is named after Francis George Atkinson, the 1st district officer of Jesselton who died of Malaria. The tower is the oldest structure at Kota Kinabalu that survived the destruction of Jesselton town during WWII.

4 - Kota Kinabalu

Gaya Street. The whole stretch turns into a pedestrian street market every Sunday morning where one can get almost everything from fresh tropical fruits to local handicrafts, etc.

5 - Kota Kinabalu

6 - Kota Kinabalu

7 - Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu City Hall.

8 - Kota Kinabalu

Roll of Honor. In Memory of The Australian Armed Forces who gave their lives in the defense of Sabah (British North Borneo) during the Second World War, 1939-1945, as presented by The Returned Services League of Australia.

9 - Kota Kinabalu

Day 2 – Day: Manukan Island, Sky Blu Bar

12 - Kota Kinabalu

One of the gateways to Pulau Manukan. Our port of embarkation through Star Marina is within the premises of the Shangri-La Hotel.

13 - Kota Kinabalu

A lovely first view of the Pulau Manukan shore.

20 - Kota Kinabalu

17 - Kota Kinabalu

14 - Kota Kinabalu

Sea walk site.

23 - Kota Kinabalu

Nemo and an equally cute photo bomber.

15 - Kota Kinabalu

16 - Kota Kinabalu

18 - Kota Kinabalu

19 - Kota Kinabalu

21 - Kota Kinabalu

27 - Kota Kinabalu

Sky Blu Bar. Dinner and some local indie music by a local band.

Day 3 – Shop, Foot Reflex for RM 28, Food Trip at Fook Yuen Café and Bakery along Jalan Gaya, Some Reading

22 - Kota Kinabalu

Due to heavy rains, we were unable to proceed with an activity I was really excited about for Day 3. I should return, I guess. Someday, hopefully.

24 - Kota Kinabalu

After all the walking, our feet deserved a massage.

25 - Kota Kinabalu

Fook Yuen Café along Jalan Gaya. Great food to complement the gloomy weather.

26 - Kota Kinabalu

The bed weather is best for some reading. I readily obliged. ** On our last day, we transferred to Hotel Sixty3 as there were no more rooms available at the Grandis Hotel. I liked the Grandis Hotel better.

10 - Kota Kinabalu

A store around the city where we bought most of our goodies. They sell at a lower price as compared to other stores we have been around.


© rooks 2016

Marinduque Island

Unlike other islands in the Philippines, a Marinduque destination is rarely heard of.  When a friend mentioned the island in a one unplanned day tour with other friends, an itinerary is roughly drafted and a travel date temporarily plotted.  And so it happened.  On the dawn of July 2, 2016, our Marinduque adventure commenced.

Map of Marinduque

Marinduque is an island in the Philippines that belongs to Region IV-B with Boac as its capital.  Marinduque is at the West of Quezon Province, East of Mindoro, and North of Romblon.  Its northern region lies in the Tayabas Bay while the southern region lies in the Sibuyan Sea.  The island is composed of 6 municipalities: Santa Cruz, Mogpog, Gasan, Boac, Buenavista, and Torrijos.  The smaller islands on the north are Polo Island, Maniwaya Island, and Mompong Island.  Tres Reyes Islands and the Elephant Island are the smaller islands on the south.  Geographically, Marinduque is at the center of the Philippine archipelago and the exact location can be found in the Municipality of Mogpog.  To reach midpoint, one must brace for a bumpy ride to Barangay Hinanggayon and trek.  Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the marker due to the rainy weather.  Someday, hopefully.

For our Marinduque escapade, we stayed at Residencia de Palo Maria at Maniwaya Island.  While the resort is not starred, the simplicity of the place and the hospitality of the staff makes the stay worthwhile.  It is laid back provincial life where electricity runs from 3PM – 7AM only.  With a full itinerary, having no electricity during the day is unnoticeable.

Day 1 – Arrival and Swimming at Palad Sandbar

1 - Marinduque

Day 2 – Around Marinduque

From Maniwaya Island we sailed to Buyabod Port.  It became the starting and end point of our trip around Marinduque.


1 - Santa Cruz

2 - Santa Cruz

Breakfast at Rico’s Inn.

3 - Santa Cruz

A Morion Statue. The Moriones Festival is annually held at the Island of Marinduque during the Holy Week.

4 - Santa Cruz

Holy Cross Parish Church


1 - Mogpog

3 - Mogpog

A pop up bakery for some morning snacks.

2 - Mogpog

San Isidro Labrador Parish Church


1 - Boac

2 - Boac

Simbahan ng Boac. Built in 1792.

3 - Boac

Inside Simbahan ng Boac.

4 - Boac

Cafe Ma’ Mita. We bought our pasalubongs here. While waiting for the others, a woman came in bringing her products. She told us that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and in partnership with the cafe, help them in selling their products. It encouraged me more to buy more local products as they help the small entrepreneurs of our country.


1 - Gasan

2 - Gasan

Parish of St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary. Built in 1609.

3 - Gasan

Inside the Parish of St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary.


1 - Buenavista

2 - Buenavista

Path going to the Malbog Hot Spring.

3 - Buenavista

(Left) Malbog Hot Spring. It is one of the exhausts of Mt. Malindig. (Right) A swimming pool was built near the hot spring. The water from the hot spring warms the pool through the small holes of the cemented fence. The water in the pool flows to the river, thus, the water is constantly replenished.

4 - Buenavista

Elephant Island or Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa. Unfortunately, the resort which opened in 2009 is now closed.


1 - Torrijos

Poctoy White Beach.

and back to Santa Cruz

5 - Santa Cruz

2 - Marinduque

The Crew.

Simply Marinduque:
** At lunch time, a friend ordered a viand which looks like Dinuguan, tastes like Bopis, and is called Kare-Kare.
** Try the pizza of GoodChow Food Express at Boac. Highly recommended. Very delicious.

How to go to Maniwaya Island (our route)
1. Go to Kamias, Cubao bus station.
2. Ride the bus going to Lucena Grand Terminal.
3. Take a van going to Heneral Luna Port.
4. A boat of the Residencia de Palo Maria (previously contacted) fetched us.


© rooks 2016