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FROM MACAU TO MANILA [Dec. 17th, 2007|11:59 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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After spending five exhausting yet exhilarating days in Macau, I arrived in Manila last Sunday at 2AM. It was great that I still got to watch some Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman when I got home. Too bad I missed Mystery Boy's performance - without his trademark mask!

Going home from a trip is always chaotic. There are the clothes to be washed, the ubong to divide and label, the hotel's little bottles of shampoo and conditioner to give to the maid or the relative who likes displaying them in the bathroom, the pictures to transfer to the computer and then upload to cyberspace, the brochures and notes to organize.

I'm still in harassed mode, but there's so much to do: the articles to write and submit, first and foremost, and then the e-mail duties to attend to, the paychecks to excitingly claim and deposit to the bank, the room-cleaning after being gone for almost a week, plus the Christmas gift-shopping and gift-wrapping.

Of course, there's the blogging part, which I am starting now. I could have blogged directly from Macau since the Macau Government Tourism Office offered free internet use, but for the first time ever I chose to ignore the WWW lure. There's free wi-fi in my hotel room too, but I didn't bring my laptop.

There's so much stuff to share about the trip: the architectural beauty of the buildings, the allure of the temples and churches, the discipline and diligence of the people, the presence of so many Filipinos there, the food (OMGOMG), the people I met, the new experiences, the challenges I cowardly turned down. Oh, and the pictures I took using my phone's trusted camera and my sister's digital camera!

While we're on the subject, I no longer have to borrow my sister's camera from now on. I bought myself an early Christmas gift.

All these stories have to wait since I seriously have to finish my articles first.

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AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL IS... [Dec. 17th, 2007|11:27 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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Saleisha - and I am ecstatic she won. I just love her bubbly personality. While most find it as something annoying and commercial, I on the other hand find it refreshingly positive as opposed to all the serious, nonchalant and freaky vibes that abound out there. I also admire Saleisha's drive and ability to take in criticism to her advantage.


I remember her long and curly hair when she joined the competition and I've realized that her makeover was truly beneficial to her. It's a good thing she was able to own it as well. Dora hair, after all, is pretty challenging to own after the first three years of your life in this world.

I love runner-up Chantal too, but she does give me that robotic dumb blonde vibe. Something about her seems amateurish, as Jenah pointed out.

Oh well. Can't wait for the next cycle.

Photos from: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/americas-next-top-model
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FIERCE!!! [Dec. 11th, 2007|01:19 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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I am impatiently waiting for the finale of America's Next Top Model Cycle 9. Bianca the Brandy-look-alike bitch just got booted out last episode and I am seriously having a hard time figuring out who'll eventually win.

My favorite has to be Saleisha, mainly because of her passion and drive. It sucked how looking very nice and sweet and commercial in the beginning was working to her disadvantage. But you really have to cut her some slack for bringing everything up a notch. She's not just working her new hairdo, it's also very clear how she's giving it all during the shoots.

I also like Chantal but I think she's very lucky because she already has that great hair, body and face combo to begin with. It seems as if even without effort, she always ends up with great pics. 

Jenah for me is the underdog. The one who was blah and totally forgettable during the start but is now suddenly so erm fierce. I don't know why but she is just so unforgettable now.

It's a toughie for me this Cycle. It seems as if each one can and deserves to win the title. It's just a matter of what Tyra and the gang are looking for this time.

Photo from: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/americas-next-top-model

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ANOTHER CRAZY COUSIN [Dec. 11th, 2007|01:09 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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Cousin Trina is leaving for New Zealand before the year ends and I will definitely miss her weirdness. According to my sister, Trina bawled her eyes out one time, went to the kitchen to get some grub and as she opened a cabinet, said, "Laughing makes me sick."

I don't get it, but I like it. 
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EINAR RETENTIVE [Dec. 11th, 2007|01:03 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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Look at this fabulous photo of Einar taken by the wonderful Niccolo Cosme. I think he kinda looks like the son of Keanu Reeves and Jonathan Rhys Meyers if they could ever make a baby. Belated happy birthday, Einar. I miss your Scandinavian hotness!
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VINNY [Dec. 10th, 2007|09:53 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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James dropped by the country for a very hectic week packed with shoots, interviews and meetings. In fact, he was so occupied that I only got to see him once - the night of his flight going back home. Wish I was able to spend more time with him (how gay do I sound, huh), but I guess there'll be lots of time for that next year.


But before he planed to London, he first treated us to dinner at Krua Thai. Awww.

Can't wait to see his numerous billboards next year.

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BUMP BUMP BUMP [Dec. 9th, 2007|12:53 am]
Niño Mark Sablan

Bunny and I came across one of my ex-friends awhile ago and the meeting was very interesting. He told me for us to bury the hatchet and I said that it had been buried a long time ago. He said that he missed me and that meeting soon would make a great birthday gift for him. What a very easy birthday present, I said.


I wonder when I’d meet him again. I wonder how that meeting would be like.

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BEING FAMOUS [Dec. 8th, 2007|11:41 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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The other day, I met the Macau group for a briefing on our familiarization tour next week. While it’s great that I hit it off with everyone, it’s sad how I before long discovered that not everyone present during the briefing would be going to Macau.



After our lunch at Greenbelt 5’s Chateau 1771 (where I didn’t really touch my food save for a couple of greens from my salad and some eggplant bits from my main course), it was decided that the group would have pictures taken outside the restaurant.


On my way out, I came across my editor and some other powerful people, one of which is a god in the fashion retail brand industry. I shook hands and excused myself.


Outside, we formed a line, followed the photographers’ instruction for us to “compress” and smiled as the cameras went clicking. I on the other hand – hearing Tyra’s voice inside my head – smiled with my eyes, did an Olsen pout and gave fierce pose after fierce pose.


I actually wanted to giggle and run away when I saw my editor and her group (including Mr. fashion retail brand god) looking at us but what the heck. Why be anonymous when you can be famous, even for 3 seconds, right?


I blame America’s Next Top Model Cycle 9 episode 12 for being possessed that particular morning. It’s the finale next week! Go Saleisha!!!   

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BYE, BRETT [Dec. 8th, 2007|12:11 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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It wasn't so long ago when I used to regularly watch all these shows on TV. As in I'd always go home or turn down engagements just so I could make it in time for my fave TV shows' OBBs.

Now that almost all TV shows are so accessible thanks to DVDs that compile them in seasons, I no longer need to skip events just so I could watch the latest exciting episodes.

However, there is one program that makes me go home before 9PM every Thursday - The Amazing Race Asia 2.

Why? Because of Brett. I love staring at contestant Brett from Indonesia because he's just so beautiful. I admit I watch the show mainly because of him. 

Last Thursday night, I failed to tune in at 9PM and didn't know who got booted out. I was told that the morning after, I had the chance to interview the latest team to exit. I thought it was Edwin and Monica from Hong Kong.

And then I was informed that Brett and Kinar from Indonesia got booted out - and that I was going to interview Brett. Just Brett. I was so ecstatic I danced those Beyonce moves for about ten seconds. Of course, I had to catch the reun so I would know what to ask the beautiful Brett.

The phoner almost didn't push through because I had a hard time finding a place where I could conduct the interview. I was caught in traffic and there was just no quiet place. I even had a very important meeting the exact same time, which I was willing to be late for, all for Brett. And then I also had a hard time hearing him during the first few seconds.

Oh, and the bummer bit. Kinar was there too!!! Kinar is cool, but I was seriously expecting to have just Brett all to myself. Oh well.

Interview went great - Brett talked most of the time while I was just sighing and giggling. 

I feel kinda sad now that there's no Brett, but I just realized something. I think Daichi is my soulmate. I can see us taking good care of each other.

Photos from: http://amazing-race-asia.axn-asia.com/index.php

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IT'S A WRAP [Dec. 5th, 2007|11:12 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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With all the mad gift-giving that happens every Christmas season, gift-wrapping is a very in-demand skill. While there are the professionals available to do it for a certain fee (or even for free but using limited gift-wrapping paper choices, often with the store logo), gift-wrapping is something that almost anyone can do, minus the amateur-looking results. Below are a few basics to get you through the holiday rush and some extra yuletide wrap ideas to make those recipients stare at those presents a few seconds more before they finally go for the ripping.


Wrapping books, boxes or anything rectangular is one of the easiest to do and all it needs is a sheet of wrapping paper and maybe some strips of ribbon for detail. While an assortment of wrapping paper in various Christmas-related prints is readily available in the market, so many other options can be used. From magazine tear-outs to coloring book pages, from newspaper to maps, some kinds of wrapping paper don’t even have to be purchased.


Using solid-colored sheets of paper such as cartolina, felt, art, construction or kraft paper is a simple idea that can be made more interesting by layering them or using color combinations. Popular themes are the usual red and green combo, brown with red and green for an earthy feel, Tiffany blue and white for that winter effect, and a lot of whites with silver or gold touches.


For personalized gift-wrapper, you can paint, stamp or write phrases, messages or even the family name on the paper.


A few fun details can also be added to give the gifts more dimension and make them look even more attractive. Apart from the expected ribbons, curled or not, other accessories that can be attached are stickers, snowflake cut-outs, origami creations, fake flowers, twigs, bells and even candies.


When it comes to more challenging items such as stuffed toys, t-shirts, trinkets and others, putting them in a paper bag is a better idea than wrapping them. While paper bags, both expensive and more affordable, can be purchased in bookstores and department stores, making one is pretty easy too. You must have a friend or at least a friend of a friend who knows how to do so and can probably teach you, but if there’s none, you can always surf the net for an instructional video.


Paper bags are fun to decorate as well. You can attach cards or images or even details such as handles, ribbons and buttons.


But don’t limit yourself to paper bags since you can package your gifts using other items as well, such as Chinese food take-out boxes, tin cans or cloth.


For the final touch, one should never forget the gift tag. Ready-made tags are in abundance at the mall, but making your own is pretty simple and practical as well. Any type of paper can be used as tags, but preferably the harder and thicker types. Once cut to the preferred size (fun shape-edged scissors can be used), decorate with borders, glitter, stickers, doodles and even puncher holes. If you’re on a tight budget, use the blank side of business cards that you don’t need anymore.


You can use plain cartolina as gift-wrapping paper, but don’t forget to decorate it with Christmas-related scribbles or doodles using felt-tip pens or paint. Add strips of ribbon in yuletide colors.


The red-and-green combination is so overused so why not use a blue-and-white color theme? Create your own snowflakes by folding square-shaped paper and cutting holes in various shapes. A silver strip of ribbon goes good with the snow theme.


Even with plain and solid colored paper, you can come up with an interestingly-wrapped gift if you layer them. Layer as many times as you want and polish it off with a shiny strip of ribbon.



Paper bags are perfect for gift items that are hard to wrap or for those that you don’t want to put inside a box. Embellish ready-made or make-your-own paper bags with cut-out images of Christmas-related pictures and other materials such as ribbons, sequins, glitter and stickers.


A paper bag made of personalized gift-wrapping paper with scribbles can be sealed with paper clips in Christmas-related colors.


Pages from old Christmas books can be ripped out and pasted together to make a huge sheet of yuletide wrapping paper.


Ornaments such as crystals and bells (used), twigs, fake flowers and the like make great finishing touches

As published in the December 5, 2007 issue of 2bU!, the youth section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

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