Month: November 2014

Hitching a ride on an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Okay, I’ll admit it. I am a total scaredy-cat. My cousin had to taunt me into riding the California Screamin’ roller coaster at Disneyland (her words, I believe, were, “Don’t be such a pussy”). My legs shook as I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge (they kept shaking even after I hit solid ground). And I nearly backed out of paragliding in Austria (only I had already coughed up the money for it and was halfway up the mountain). One of the funniest things I’ll admit to being scared of was mounting an elephant. Bareback. All by my lonesome. But more than three years ago, I did it. Here’s how it went down. My sister (“Ate”) and I stayed in Bangkok for a few days before flying to Chiang Mai to meet her friend there. Along with checking out its temples and cultural spots, Ate deemed that we couldn’t leave the city without visiting an elephant camp…and riding one of said elephants. I’d promised myself I would try something new every time I traveled, so I went along with the plan. An …

An interview with author Marie Lu

If you’re a fan of dystopian YA books, chances are you’re familiar with Marie Lu, the writer behind the best-selling Legend trilogy, which has been picked up for adaptation by CBS Films. Last October, she debuted her new fantasy series The Young Elites with a book of the same title. This story follows Adelina Amouteru, a girl who emerged from the blood fever with strange markings and a dark, mysterious power. She falls in with the Young Elites, a society of other teens with magical capabilities, who are hunted by the Inquisition Axis. As her control over her powers grows, so does the call of the darkness within her. I’ve already passed the halfway mark of this book, and I can say that it’s a dark, compelling read that’s mostly narrated by an unexpected main character—a budding villain. Last week, National Book Store delighted readers by bringing Marie to Cebu and Manila for a signing tour. I was supposed to interview her for a website that I’m writing for, but since there was a last-minute scheduling conflict, I thought of doing it for my blog instead. Thankfully, the lovely folks at NBS accommodated me. This opportunity came …

“Can you take my picture?”

Because I was feeling inspired, I give you the first of my Snapshot Stories—encounters that stayed with me through my travels. Enjoy! Siem Reap, February 2013 The sun burned hot and bright against my back, sending trickles of sweat down the thin cotton of my shirt. The occasional breeze rustled my hair from its bun. My leggings had long said goodbye to their pristine black state, standing no chance against the fine orange dust that coated the ground. Like the finest of powder, the dust jumped at the slightest movement, swirled at the slightest whisper of wind. I’d been warned about it, but it had still shocked me when I arrived in that small but mighty town. No longer. I stood smiling as my friend struck a pose in front of the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple. Structures of red stone rose above him, battered by time, yet still glorious in the intricate details and the graceful curves and curlicues that brought life and depth to those solid walls. As though there wasn’t a crowd of …

Banteay Srei, Cambodia

I just realized that I never got around to continuing my posts on Siem Reap—and what’s worse is that I didn’t cover my favorite temple of them all. Since it’s about time that I revive my Flashback Friday series, I decided to give this gem the spotlight it deserves. So without further ado, I present to you the beautiful Citadel of Women, Banteay Srei. Banteay Srei is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park, but since it’s a long ways out from the main cluster of temples that includes the Angkor Wat, it’s often passed up for its more popular counterparts. But if you’re staying in Siem Reap for more than a weekend, you should definitely add this to your itinerary. You don’t even need to worry about the admission, since it’s covered by the Angkor Pass. The trip from town takes about an hour via remork, and it’s a great way to see more of the fields and small settlements housed in the park. It’s best to go here bright and early in the morning, so you can get the farthest destination …

Art Trails SG 2014

Every time I visit Singapore, I try to check out at least one of their museums. Last October, I had the chance to visit two of them, plus an art gallery and a quasi-art gallery—and I got in for free at all places but one! Unfortunately, I was too lazy to bring my camera, so I had to make do with my iPhone. Check out some of my photos below! ArtScience Museum I’d visited this museum before for the Harry Potter exhibit, but since my sister told me that the special Annie Leibovitz feature was nice, I figured I might as well go back. You usually have to pay to get in, but since it was a public holiday, I didn’t have to pay a cent. I even got a free guided tour to the Leibovitz exhibit, thanks to my good timing. I enjoyed seeing some of her most famous photographs, along with others that were more personal to her. Safe to say, I’m now a fan of her work. Photography wasn’t allowed in that exhibit, but I got a few …

GREASE is the word

Last night, I had the opportunity to watch Grease for the first time ever. I knew the story and was familiar with some of its songs, but I’d never seen it before. I’m so happy that my first experience of it was live. When it comes to theater, I tend to prefer heavier, more emotional material—which is weird, because I’m a happy-ever-after kind of girl—but what I loved about Grease was just how entertaining it was. It’s fun, funny, and flashy, and it’s a great way to spend a Friday night with friends. I’d missed 9 Works Theatrical’s first production of it last year, but thankfully, they decided to do a rerun featuring a mix of old and new cast members under the direction of Robbie Guevara. Interestingly enough, both leads were newbies to the Rydell family. Here are Tippy dos Santos as Sandy Dumbrowski and Guji Lorenzana as Danny Zuko. I’ve got to say, isn’t Tippy super pretty? Everyone in the cast was talented and totally in character—and man, did they rock those dance moves! They had me grooving along with …

Things I learned from 8 best-selling YA authors

In honor of it being midway through NaNoWriMo, I thought it was the perfect time to write about one of my favorite parts of my freelancing gig—interviewing published authors. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to publish my own novel, and nothing inspires me quite like talking to people who have done it, and done it well. More than celebrities, it’s authors who bring out the fangirl in me. It’s always such a pleasure to meet them and realize that they aren’t just extremely smart and well-spoken, they’re also down-to-earth and, well, awesome. Like I said, total fangirl. Thanks to National Book Store and Hitlist.ph, I’ve been able to meet several authors whom I never would’ve dreamed of being in the same room with, let along talking to one-on-one. I’ve picked up some great insights from them, and I thought I’d share them with you all. I hope you find these interesting and useful too, and if you’d like, you can click on the links to each of my articles to check out the full interviews. Enjoy! …