Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Third Saturday: Zone 5 Photo Studios Inc.

I finished my MA thesis last October and will finally, FINALLY get to attend my second UP graduation in April (I'm old-- don't remind me). Part of the whole pomp and pageantry is getting graduation pictures made. I have been really looking forward to this because my first set was not that...likeable. For my creative shot, my peg was Imelda Marcos. What I got was "Poong Inaalayan" (idk even know how to translate that; yes, it was that bad). So this time, I said I'd prepare even more. I have been conceptualizing even before October and was pretty partial to a Dark Alice theme. There would be time, I said. I can pull this off, I said. We had asked the college about when grad pics would be scheduled, and we were informed that they would start in January. So my friend and co-graduate, Shelley and I stopped bugging the office and just went back on the second week of the said month.

Only to find out that the grad pic schedule was over.

After a brief seizure, we asked/begged around some more and were told we'd be contacted if the people in charge of this year's graduation would have additional schedules. I hung on to the hope that I still had time to prepare since we were told this on a Friday. But since the Universe just loves seeing me have a panic attack, our contact called and said they had a final schedule on the next day, Saturday. This meant that not only did I not have anything prepped, I would also have to go to the studio and have pictures taken right after work, right when my eyebags have taken full control of my face.

Alas, there was nothing to be done, so I met up with Shelley and after some dispute with the GPS on my phone (the taxi driver was pretty vocal about his unbridled hate for it), we got to Zone 5 in Project 8.

The first thing we noticed was the awesome wall artwork that welcomed you as you go up the stairs. I asked Shelley for a quick pose because it was just too edgy!

Before the photobombers
I would have wanted to take more pictures but people kept accidentally photobombing my shots, so I gave up and headed to the lobby. Since Zone 5 was the assigned studio for UPD, we had special rates and packages. However, you can still have your grad pic taken even without a schedule, something I was very relieved to know. They have walk-in rates (slightly more expensive) and they cater to a number of colleges and universities so you don't have to worry about them not having the right toga. The prices are not that steep, too, considering the quality of shots. We were automatically awed by the creative shots posted on the wall of the lobby and got us pretty pumped for our turn.

Shelley and I were the first ones to get to the studio, so after settling our payments, we didn't have to wait long to have our hair and make-up done. The first shots to be taken were the formal shots, so my stylist just ironed my hair and gave me a nice and simple look. [Warning: selfies ahead]

It didn't take long for me to finish, and after the beautification process, we were led to the photography area. The place is divided into sections because Zone 5 has a variety of sets for creative shots. They take the more formal ones in a smaller area, and apart from the nice photographer, there is an assistant who helps you dress and choose accessories from the studio's own stash. For one of the formal shots, you get to choose the color of the fabric that you wear, and the assistant artfully ties it around you to make an impromptu dress. Another cool thing is that after the serious shots, the photog asks you to pose for a wacky one!

Afterwards, you are asked about what concept you'd like for the creative shot. If you're like us and you have no idea what to do, you can ask them for their catalog of past creative shots. They have a couple of huge albums so you can get a ton of ideas. For my shot, I chose a Audrey Hepburn-esque one, but I wanted to put my own gothic twist to it. This required a change of hair and make-up, so I had to pay extra. I do not regret this, however, because I ended up having the most awesome beehive in history since Marge Simpson.

I can hide my wallet up in there

They also let me borrow accessories and then let me choose my set. I chose a Victorian one, and then waited for my turn.

Sexy paneling
I was not prepared for what happened next. I found out just exactly how hard it was to be a model and look good while doing awkward poses. The photog took so many shots that my entire body hurt after the shoot. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I wouldn't trade for the world!

After everything's all done, you now go to this little booth where you get to choose the shots you want reproduced. Yes, that fast! They will show you all your unedited shots that very day so that you won't have to wonder how all those poses turned out. Depending on the package you chose, you can get to keep all your photos in a CD and just edit them later to your liking. To be honest, the choosing took longer than the photoshoot. It was so difficult to choose the ones I liked best. I seriously wanted to go with all the wacky ones, but my mother would kill me so I had to go for the ones that made me look halfway decent. After all that was done, Shelley and I went on our merry way to Trinoma to finally get some lunch.


Although we didn't get to go to the UKEAS UK Education Fair as planned, this Saturday was unforgettable because it will be another five to seven years before I get to do this again (yay PhD!). And I'm happy knowing that this time, my grad pics will end up the way I want them to look.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Second Saturday: Galli Village Cafe and Frosted Desserts

I was going to do something different this weekend but my brother got pneumonia and we had to stay in the hospital to watch over him, so I had to make do with a quick dinner and dessert with my best friend. It turned out to be real fun, though, so no regrets (also, my brother is better, so yay!).

At first, I wanted to go to When Uan Met sally, this artsy shop that also serves some snacks on the side, but when we got there, I figured I would spend so much on the store so since Galli Village Cafe is right beside it, we went in to give it a try.

Chillin' time
Galli Village Cafe is located at #154 Maginhawa and is small, with a chill, European cafe vibe. It has seats outside for smokers and people who don't want confined spaces. They serve a selection of Spanish cuisine and because my best friend and I were famished, we got Paella Valenciana for 2-3 people and it cost only 295php. We weren't able to eat all of it because the serving was huge. It was also very filling. I got another for take out to have my family try it, too. Next time, I want to try their all day breakfast dishes and probably some wine.

We decided to go to another place for dessert. I was torn between Bellatini Cafe and Frosted Desserts, but the best friend wanted to go to Bookay Ukay (I SAW MERCEDES CABRAL AGAIN OMG), so we headed to Frosted, at #57 Maginhawa.

Diabetes, here I come
That was also a great decision because we had really sumptious cupcakes and very nice tea (I had peppermint, best friend had lemon ginger).

He was tired of me taking pictures
The cupcake selection isn't too big but it is enough for people who have different tastes: they have premium and classic flavors. I had Jazzy Jane, a vanilla-flavored cupcake that made me want to live in it and eat the frosting forever. Best friend had double chocolate and banana nutella. Yes. Banana Nutella. They also had Smores, Snickers, and Red Velvet. I wanted to try EVERYTHING. But one cupcake is enough to fulfill your craving. If you want to get take out, though, you can (they have really nice packaging, too).

Sugar overload
The cupcakes are not expensive at all. Prices range from 50 to 80 pesos. They also have sundaes, which I can't wait to try on my next visit.

What I found most unique about Frosted is that they also bake cakes for dogs! They also sell pet treats at 120php per pack. I bought beefy gnoshers for my little boy (although he still has to get used to them; his one great love is Dentasticks). Huge plus: they're preservative-free (and that's why you have to refrigerate them).

It expires on Valentine's. Lol.
All in all, it was a nice little Saturday outing. Next week, however, is going to be a bit different because I'm going to a UK Education Fair! And that means one thing: guys with British accents hihihi.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The First Saturday: Taste of Heaven and Bowl & Brew

I'm starting a new project for 2014. Every Saturday, I'm going to try out something new: an experience, a restaurant, a boyfriend (lol no), and will blog about it to document the things I've tried out in the span of a year. This not only helps me remember the wonderful places I've been to and the equally wonderful people I've been with, but will also appear as search results on Google, thus aiding me in my quest to gain more page views. Hue hue hue.

So here's my entry for the first Saturday day of 2014. On this date, I went to two new places in Teacher's Village: A Taste of Heaven and Bowl & Brew.

Appropriately named, I must say
A Taste of Heaven is a milkshake place located at #71 Maginhawa. It's pretty small and seats about 15-20 people at most. Some of my friends have been there and said that their milkshakes were worth a try, and since I was craving milkshakes but didn't feel like being around too many people, I decided to read a book there.

Trying to take a picture of the menu and failing
Their shakes are not that expensive. The classics cost 80PHP while the premium ones cost 130PHP. I tried a mid-priced shake called Peach Banana Cobbler and it was really refreshing and not too sweet. I also ordered TLC (Tenderly Loved Chicken), which came with a side of fries. I don't know what kind of loving went into that chicken but it tasted good.

 Also the guy who made this was pretty cute. 
They also had a "Choose and Shake" menu where you get to choose what to put in your milkshake from a range of chocolates (M&Ms, Reese's, Snickers, etc.). I'm planning to try this one out next time. Yes, there will be a next time because I forgot to slip TLC guy my number.

Bowl & Brew, on the other hand, is another small eatery along Maginhawa. My friend and I chanced upon it when we left Pino because I wanted to walk around after drinking a glass of flavored beer (which you should also definitely try out. Go for Peach). We really didn't plan on going in but the place was too orange to miss.

"Thou shall not resist me," said the sign to us
You could see the snazzy interior from the outside, but being inside was a totally different experience. Everything was so eye-catching that I needed about 50 more eyes to appreciate everything. I mean, there was a bowl galaxy on the ceiling, for crying out loud.

Decoration or Time-Space Warp?
When we got there, the staff was having dinner while watching MMK and seemed oddly surprised that two weirdos walked through the door. They quickly gave us a menu and since the sign mentioned "Lucban Specialties," we decided to have a Lucban Longganisa Sandwich. The sign also said "Coffee and More," so we also ordered an Espresso (which the staff called Expresso and turned out to be unavailable so my friend just went for an Americano), and a Latte Machiatto.

Still orange
I have a sweet tooth so I went for the desserts and asked the staff what the cakes on display were called. The one I asked did not know. One of the other girls said "Tiramisu." I pointed to the chocolate cake beside the tiramisu. The girls looked at each other and laughed sheepishly. I joked, "So ano to, something something chocolate something?" [So what's this, something something chocolate something?] And one of the girls said, "Yes, Ma'am." So I didn't order it. Lol.

Our order arrived and although the serving was smaller than expected, the longganisa was pretty good. The bread didn't seem like a good match for it, though, and was a bit hard to chew.

Yep, we just got this. No tissue, no plates, no utensils. I guess coz we didn't order those.
Our coffee also arrived. At least my friend's coffee did. What got served to me was literally just milk with froth on top. My friend pointed it out to the staff and they apologized profusely. They replaced my coffee with something that more closely resembled a latte, but even that fell short. My friend's Americano looked like what you'd get when you poured hot water into a mug with coffee dregs at the bottom. It was sad. It was so sad I couldn't even take a picture of it.

We didn't stay long because apart from the excruciating show on TV, the colors were just too much. We went back out into the night... and was welcomed by a dog on a roof barking at a cat on the pavement. Apparently, our WTF quota had not been reached.

To be fair, I think we caught Bowl & Brew on a bad day. The big boss was not around and when he did come in, he was nice and took our picture to post on their Facebook page (which, unfortunately, I cannot find). I don't know if I'm willing to give this resto another shot, but if someone out there wants to, let me know if you also experience hallucinations right after.