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The Return of the Prodigal Daughter

I have a love/hate relationship with the city of my childhood. Strange I know this sounds.

I have a love/hate relationship with the city of my childhood.  Strange I know this sounds.

I have happy memories of the Cebu of my childhood, going to the beach at Liloan before the bridge was built and the exodus to Mactan and the white sand beaches.  Sailing with my father for literally hours on his hobie cat (since we would always get stranded and need to be towed back to shore). Then of course nursing painful sunburns after hours  baking in the sun, it took me twenty years to embrace my paleness and realize that I would never be tanned. Plus the dawning of the era wherein people pay good money to achieve the unhealthy pallor that I was trying to rid myself of.

Carefree, happy years of going to school at CIS, swimming lessons at Cebu Country Club, hanging out at friends houses at weekends and sleepovers.  CIS really was the best school.

Then the teenage years of STC, Bai disco, sneaking out to Inner Circle since that apparently was a den of Sin and we should not set foot in it.  Made it all the more alluring and exciting.  Generally sneaking out and finding ways to skirt our curfews.

Then the super fun Halloween parties at Country Club and the costume balls at Casino Espanol.

Then came college and the need to escape the small town.  Leaving to study abroad and deciding that under no circumstance could I live in Cebu after graduation. It was too stifling. So I moved to Manila. This was a great time, Euphoria and Faces days plus started building my hotel career at Westin.  And then I gave up the career, got married, packed up and moved to Baguio. Where in retrospect was another small town, however, it was a seasonal party with the constant flow Manila people. Nothing could beat a New Years party in Baguio. This was before Boracay became the party destination.  My house was always full of house guests.

Years later, was the return to Manila and as well as my return to my hospitality career.  In between were trips to Cebu to visit, the Cebu of my youth had changed and was developing into a cosmopolitan city.  New people had moved in , new friends were made as well as the rekindling of old friendships. It was always nice to visit but I knew I could still go home to Manila .  Could not fathom moving out of Manila.

But life is a circle and nothing ever stays the same. I finally found the opportunity to end my marriage and despite my doubts I came home.  Not an easy decision to make, despite all the changes, Cebu is still a small town. A small town where news travels at light speed and everyone gets involved in your life.  Everything I essentially ran away from.  But it was where I had family and very close friends.

Before moving back I called a very good friend and asked if I could move back, his response, am so excited! That essentially clinched it.

I do not know how long I will be staying this time, whether this will be permanent or after finding myself again I move back to the big city, which I still miss. There are days I want to hop on that plane and get out, satisfy the gypsy in me. But most days I am grateful I am home, grateful for my peace of mind, my new life, my freedom my friends, my family.  This love/hate relationship still continues but for the moment the prodigal daughter is home.



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Arcane: League of Legends: Netflix Review

Rating: *****/*****

League of Legends a very popular video game that’s been around for over a decade has now been adapted into an animated series on Netflix.  The series, Arcane: League of Legends was just released on November 6, 2021 and starring Hailee Steinfeld.  As a person who doesn’t play LoL, I was very surprised by Arcane’s story and the quality of the animation.  The title theme song is by Imagine Dragons and soundtrack is very cool.

Rottentomatoes gives the series a 100% score!  Here’s what they say:

“Newcomers should be equally enthralled by Arcane’s compelling narrative, richly developed characters … “

 Critics Consensus

“Arcane makes an arresting first impression, combining a spectacular mix of 2D and 3D animation with an emotionally compelling story to deliver a video game adaptation that could become legendary.”

Well then, this is a must see for me!  Now out on Netflix

… zen

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ALBUM REVIEW: Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift

RATING: ★★★ / ★★★★★

You probably don’t need to be reminded of why Taylor Swift has decided to release re-recordings of her previous albums, starting with Fearless (Taylor’s Version) last year and now with Red (Taylor’s Version). However, if you somehow missed one of the biggest music controversies in recent history, here’s a quick summary: in 2019, talent manager Scooter Braun acquired the record label Big Machine and as part of the deal acquired ownership of the master recordings for the first six studio albums by Taylor Swift. Swift has been trying to buy the masters to her songs for years but she’s been offered nothing but unfavorable conditions — therefore, as a countermeasure, she is re-recording all of her six albums and so far has released two.

It’s a bold move on Taylor’s part, but lucky for her, the re-recordings have done incredibly well especially with the re-recording of her 2012 album Red. On its first day of release, Red (Taylor’s Version) has broken two Spotify records: one for the most-streamed album in a day by a female and another for the most-streamed female in a single day both in Spotify history.

It’s hard to review an album like this when Red (Taylor’s Version) is, for the most part, just a recreation of the songs of Red. There are new songs, of course, but the majority of the tracks are simply re-recorded versions of her already existing songs. The Immaculate Collection by Madonna, this isn’t — save for All Too Well, there are no new instrumentals or parts of the song here, just plain re-recordings of her previous songs.

Unfortunately for Taylor Swift, some of the songs don’t really benefit from being re-recorded. The original version of We Are Never Getting Back Together, for instance, while far from Swift’s best song at least had the energy and emotion you’d expect a bitter break-up song like it to have. In the new version, Taylor Swift just sounds lifeless and bored, especially when it comes to her spoken lines.

It’s difficult to blame her when she’s expected to still give convincing performances of experiences she’s had over a decade ago. How do you expect a singer in her 30s to sing a song about how excited she is to be 22 and still make it sound as convincing as she made it when she was actually 22?

That being said, some of the songs also benefit from being re-recorded. There’s a sense of nostalgia added to many of these songs. Taylor Swift sounds older and, in a way, that adds even more emotional depth to some of her tracks. And for anyone not wild about these songs simply being re-recordings, Swift has six new “From The Vault” tracks which should be enough to tide you over.

All in all, Red (Taylor’s Version) doesn’t always work, but for Taylor Swift fans, it’s a way to listen to versions of her songs that are hers. It’s why the “(Taylor’s Version)” at the end of these songs are so important and it’s great to know Taylor Swift finally has versions of the songs she wrote which she can call hers.

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Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic.  People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu.  More and more are joining the ride.  Many are quite serious about cycling.  I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.

How did you get into serious cycling?  What was your motivation?

Blinky de Leon.  Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer

“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”


“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”


Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant

“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”

“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”


Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative

“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”

Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…

by: Zen

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