BrightWin, How do I love thee? Let me BUY the ways

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Look what you made me buy, BrightWin! 

Before anything else, let me just unload this now. All the stuff (BrightWin Titas call it in faux French, beauxdol) that you will be seeing below were not ordered/ purchased in one clean sweep. I can still regard my self-control as laudable. There is no freaking way that I can afford all. So a little disclaimer: everything here is within a tolerable range. Certain fans are only built to own just a few err things and I am OK with that. 

A little digression.

This is so not me before, that I can tell you now with certainty. The closest thing that I can claim to have been that 'fan' was when I bought the Stranger Things: World Turned Upside Down book at Fully Booked and that even took me 3 seasons and countless situational tug-of-wars( Shall I buy this? Do I need this in my life? Will I use this?) I made sure that I dreamed of it first because it's not like I can pawn the book during the rainy days. I promised myself that it will be the biggest splurge that I'll ever commit to a show no matter how I like it. 

Then along came 2gether the Series. 


Let's just say that I was pretty full from all the words that I have devoured. Did you hear the telltale traces of regrets in my voice? I am sure you didn't. 2gether The Series saved me trips to the shrink and with that, I am forever indebted. Buying their merchandises is waaaaay cheaper than expensive therapies. And since this is officially my first ever descent to the rabbit hole of everything BrightWin, I should slay the fangaying part right? But remember, no self-respecting fan would tell you the exact amount of all his purchases even forced at gunpoint, but they will gladly indulge you to all the visualities because why not? Lol.

So, this is the oral history of the beauxdol. It's not much. But this is all I have.

1. Colly Gluta C +

This product has appeared many times in the show that it basically shoves itself to you. It's a plus that some scenes in 2gether The Series had the characters popping this on their mouths. I am so convinced because the best endorsers are the ones that actually try the product themselves. So there. And that tender scene from Episode 4 of Still2gether made me not regret ever buying this. Did I become fairer as promise? Not really sure but I was happy. And isn't that the point?

2. Sarawat Jersey 

This is so iconic to the show that I can declare now that most of those who watched it would either want the white version (worn by Tine) or this black (worn by Sarawat). I should have bought the white one because I'm a member of #WivesOfSarawat but my thought process was, how does it feel to wear Sarawat's jersey on my body? Is this whipped to you or what?

3. Olay Body Science

When Olay Philippines hinted on Twitter a series of not-so-cryptic clues of two familiar shadows of its newest endorsers, BrightWins everywhere are quick to point out even without the official confirmation. When it was finally revealed that it was Win Metawin ( Bright Vachirawit is yet to be unveiled soon), I opened my Lazada app and ordered away. It was that easy. I din't even make a sweat.

4. White Sarawatine Tshirt and masks

To be fair because I bought the black jersey, I opted to order the white t-shirt worn by Win here. The masks which are probably the most essential piece now come in both black and white. I have yet to receive these items as of this posting and you I will wear them down like a road. 

5. Elle Idol x BrightWin

Elle Magazine Thailand has stumbled a publishing goldmine when they decided to enlist BrightWin as the stars of their Elle Idol 2 & 3! The fans had a hard time purchasing these copies because it was crazy during their separate launches. But once it came through, let's just say that I won't be erasing this app ever! Look for Bright on bed with those undressing eyes and CEO Win on his power suit about to boss you around! It's interactive, irresistible  and intimate! Just the way I like it! 

6.  V Live + Global Fan Meet x BrightWin

This is probably my best purchase from this fangaying journey! For all that its worth, I think this is for all the fans practicing for when the time comes that our best boys will have their real, in-the-flesh concert, we could really enjoy it the best way that we can! I still haven't replayed the video yet because I am saving it when I miss them the most but I remembered living in the moment during its play date. It was 2 hours well spent and I still cry thinking about it now.

7 & 8. 2gether The Series DVD Box Set and BrightWin Photobook

I never in a moment thought that this obsession will come to this point. But this is me admitting that yes, I mulled this decision for the longest time because I need to know how impactful this purchase could be in the years to come, when this is all over. Let's just say I'll cross the bridge when I get there.

Thank you for reaching this point. Have you had it this bad? Probably you haven't encountered that one show that will change the gears for you. I still think that 2gether The Series is my Star Wars and some probably might scoff at this comparison but it is what it is for me.

At the end of the day, let us go to the show that has changed you that even if you look back, when all of these merches have all faded: jerseys and t-shirts were worn and torn, photobooks and dvd sets have lost their novelties and their nostalgia, memories of virtual concerts all forgotten, you can still say that those were the days when you've had it good.

And you wouldn't change a thing.


Proven and Tasted

Thursday, August 27, 2020


Ubeliciousness has been conceived many times in the past, but it is only during the pandemic, where the lull of days fused together as one long stretch, that this was birthed out to the world.

And what delicious offspring it was!

We are so enamored and full and filled with Mrs. Ruby Ann Ube's culinary flair. In fact, I once told her that it's a shame that we are the only ones enjoying her creations when they deserve wide, public consumerism. She always shrugs off the idea because she knows that it will demand her full attention and as a public high school teacher, having that on her plate is a little bit too much now.

And then the quarantine happened. Everyone is expected to acquire a new skill. Some people became instant plant daddies. Others collected digital certificates from webinars closest to their hearts. Few waited for an eternity to feed their sourdough starters. Mrs. Ube dusted off her aprons, perfected her ubecheesedesal and sushi bake game, and turned it into something profitable, and really, really tasteful! 

That something is now Ubeliciousness.

The brand name is a play of words from Ube ( her surname and with a surname like that, you can always expect for something sumptuous), delicious, and the suffix ness thrown in for a good measure.

With satisfied customers ranging from Antipolo City Councilor Susan Garcia-Say to Cignal HD Spikers Rachel Ann Daquis, to name just a few, these baked treats are joining the conversation and the quarantine get-togethers of family members. It is trending for all the good reasons!

Mrs. Ube and her daughter Rain with volleybelle Cignal HD Spiker Rachel Ann Daquis

Barely half a year when she started this venture and she already has a cult following! These are the people who, time and again, repeat orders after orders with generous reviews on social media prompting for more customers who can't get enough of their goodness and THAT is one clear indication that your business is thriving.

When I asked her how do people know her business, she told me that everything is word of mouth. Well, I just hope this humble mention will do her good because Mrs. Ube is someone who I will catch a grenade for, you know like a Bruno Mars hit.

Take your pick from the choices below:

  • UbeCheesedesal/ Ubebites
It's pillowy, gooey, cheesy, what more can you ask for really? And also, will you really buy an ubecheesedesal from someone whose surname is not Ube? Please reconsider your life choices.

  • Sushi Bake
Sushi Bake (or Baked Sushi) is for the people who don't like to eat sushi but will try anyway. I'm now a converted Sushi Bake disciple in every sense of the word, but I am partial to Ubeliciousness'. 

  • Chocobutternut Balls ( plain and with almonds)
There are days when our sweet tooth craves for something, well, sweet and there are days when it wants a little crunch. Good thing these balls, irresistible balls, come rescuing when those polarizing situations happen.

  • Banana Loaf (choice of Almonds or Choco Chips)
Of course, we love bananas. It's this one fruit that is available year-round and with many exciting varieties. It is in this inspired idea why Ubeliciousness Banana Loaf comes with toppings of almonds or choco chips because hey, when you want your daily dose of potassium, you'll go for something exciting right?

  • Magnum Ice Candy
Taste like those uber expensive ice creams but cost as less.

  • Milo Overload
It's either you are team Ovaltine or Team Milo growing up but for whatever Ubeliciousness Milo Overload puts the oomph in overload! 

  • Monghe
OMG, what are you doing gallivanting about? Order this gourmet embutido now because this is a gamechanger! 

Now more than ever, we should #SupportLocal because they are the ones most hit in this direst of circumstances. So every time your craving gets the best of you, you know where to go.

Follow Ubeliciousness on Instagram here.

Photos: Ruby Ann Ube



Wednesday, August 26, 2020


I woke up one indistinguishable morning to my sister’s crying. Her cat, which is her source of strength and sanity lately, was nearly driven over by our neighbor’s delivery truck. I forgot which day of the quarantine it is in Antipolo and the city’s rhyme and rhythm are put on hold.

Everyone, including my sister’s unfortunate feline, is on the verge of collapse.

A sound is difficult to interpret these days. A painful mew can mean imminent danger. My sister’s disappointed sigh for such negligence can also mean different thing. In our first line of defenses, the sounds can be all too familiar and all too frightening.  There are the rushing of feet squeaking on hospital floors, the hushed conspiratorial tones of doctors as more people tested positive for CoVid-19, the imaginary swoosh of the upward trend as it tries and fails to explain how our efforts to flatten the curve proves to be tomfooleries.

And there are those sounds absorbed by the frontliners, in which they preferred not hearing but they certainly have no choice. One of them could be scarred for life with even just snippets of an ambulance siren to trigger pandemic memories. Others could, unfortunately, succumb to the infection and not hear their own loved ones’ lamentations save only for the loud, hollow thud of urns placed alongside family artifacts.  

 So instead of wallowing into episodes of anxiety attacks that have defined my day-to-day struggle, I turn to sounds that I can control. Even for a brief, wondrous moment, a shot at normalcy before everything was suspended in midair.

There goes the paperback flipping like mad, without even reading the entirety of the book. I sort of take a title from my shelves, turn a random page, and read the passages out loud. There is a genuine shock hearing my voice. I like what I hear so I read some more, paying particular attention to the nuances, my coquettish lilt, and go out of my way to record them. If online teaching becomes the trend, even if it's virtually impossible, I need to make sure that my students won’t be annoyed by my auditory register.


I finally availed a premium subscription to Spotify which is filed under things I am putting out of for so long because I already have gazillion playlists and I sure don’t need another more. But I am a nervous wreck, I make the rules. So I curated songs upon songs under an aptly-titled playlist ‘Quarantunes’. Case in point: Billie Eilish’s when the party’s over. When this is all over, I will go to parties who won’t invite me.

As a portable repository of my sanity maintenance project ( homage to my writing God, Jessica Zafra), my laptop carries all of the downloaded movies which I watched to my heart’s content. This is escapism, ladies and gentlemen. By living vicariously the lives of the characters as they try to navigate the world they know nothing about, I become someone else. When the last credits rolled, I was dazed and confused because these realities now are harsher than the ones in the movies.

And I’ve also gone gaga over 2gether The Series just like all the gays of Twitter who professed their love to the show with Youtube screenshots, animated GIFs of the two characters about to kiss and some loose translations from Thai fans to eager- beaver international reactors. It was glorious, having to witness a story unlike any other that I’ve enjoyed watching growing up. I felt seen. I felt validated. If the sound that my kilig makes can be bottled up, I shall gladly open it when everything has gone bonkers again.

So when I hear people prophesying that the days after the ECQ will now be referred to as ‘new normal’, I can only sigh in resignation. Any semblance of an alternate reality is not new normal. It’s a stuff straight out of a Margaret Atwood dystopia, and it is completely terrifying. I don’t need to binge-watch an entire season of The Handmaid’s Tale to know this.

As for my sister’s cat Layla- she named her after a Mobile Legend character- she refuses to even step outside, afraid to even risk it. But it is still not the same with people who clearly won’t try risking their lives for, but are left with no choice. The groaning sound of an empty stomach is something that will keep you up at night and no amount of social distancing can silence hunger even if it haunts you.

Now that this lockdown has gone through adjectival changes, I clamor to hear the noise of the traffic of the city. The hagglers boasting their goods. The pious and the prayerful intoning its thanks to the higher being. The excited squeals of barkadas about to fulfill a travel goal, and the paradigm shifting and the silent breaking of the status quo.

But all in due time.

Images: Canva, Pinterest, Cosmos


You Can Rest Your Eyes Here

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

I made it my life mission to make my workplace as conducive and as inspiring as possible. It has all my favorite things within reach (I'll have a separate blog for this) but sometimes you need a little change of place to shake things up a bit. You know where my eyes can rest and recuperate and not stare at our window where the usual views are the laundry area and a little sunlight streaming in. 

So when a friend suggested we could go to this place not really far from where we all live (we all live in one city so everywhere is accessible), I immediately packed my work essentials and said yes. This idea of working somewhere excited me. After all, the pandemic forces everyone to stay inside. Every time I go out to buy the essentials, you sort of having these panic attacks and the only necessary thing to do is to cut off your shopping half so you can go home in a jiffy. In fact, the only places I've been to this whole lockdown are Shopwise, Savemore, Puregold, and Robinson's Antipolo. When the ECQ was lifted, we were allowed to dine in at Jollibee and I nearly wept because it was so good. 

The place where my friend has been singing praises is the First Pacific Leadership Academy. It is conveniently located alongside the busy Sumulong Highway and considering from the outside looking in, the greens are thriving and yes, productivity seems to be shouting out loud. I was compelled to listen of course although I'm a huge believer of the idea that you are not measured by the amount of work that you accomplished during a contagion.

If you know me, I'm not a nature kind of gay. I did not even jump in the planting craze that has defined my friends' quarantine. I call myself a mallrat because I'm the proverbial slave of capitalism but in this day and age, a little reset won't hurt. Most especially now where traveling far and wide is not an option. All your #travelgoals are cancelledt and you basically have to accept the cold, hard truth. And now that I think about it, an empty mall is a lifeless box, made all the more hollow by even emptier shops and concept stores. I miss it though, I mean, but this is unmissable too!

First Pacific Leadership Academy boasts of verdant greens from all around, not for nothing since it's a popular hub for motivational seminars and teambuilding activities. It's as if you step into an area where the noise of the city is muffled. It is so hard to believe that a few steps out will lead you to the traffic that we definitely did not sign up for. There, butterflies flit and flutter freely. Unbothered birds are chirping and I bet during nighttime, the comforting drones of cicadas provide a symphony that only nature can give. So yes even if we tried the hardest to be productive, the scenes outside our work area are a welcome distraction.

Lucky me, I can easily be tempted to frolic!

I forgot what's this installation but this will greet you when you enter the training area.

This has a very cafe feel to it.

This is where we worked for the rest of the day. It is fully air-conditioned, with reliable Wifi connectivity and a Nespresso machine. 

Yep, it me! I don't look good on photos so you won't be seeing my face often here. I am wearing my favorite Sarawat jersey because 2gether The Series! Lol!

We had a hearty lunch over at Tipulo because you know when you are trying to be productive, what you want after is a satisfying meal. The restaurant promises Modern Filipino Cuisine and we can definitely vouch for that. I hope you can forgive me because the moment the food was served, with the safety protocol observed of course, we weren't able to take food shots. We were so ravenous so we kinda dig in after the grace before meal! 

What we've had: Sweet and Spicy Tapsilog, Pandesal Platter, and the super sinful Crispy Patatim. Yum!

Because we spend a lot of time staring at our laptop screens, WFH setups can often lead to people contacting Computer Vision Syndrome. It is recommended to rest your eyes for at least 15 minutes. In First Pacific Leadership Academy, you can spend hours and more and your eyes will definitely love you back! 

The entrance fee is 300 bucks and you can have all this dose of nature for 12 hours! How cool is that? 

Not a paid post, but the Griffin's Hub ( where my friends worked and I didn't lol ) is open Mondays to Fridays ( for walk-in and reservations ) and Sundays ( for reservations only). You can check their Facebook page here


2gether 4ever: a love letter to a Thai BL series that changed me

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Seriously, now that we are still under wraps for the Enhanced Community Quarantine- a period in our collective memories which would be potential conversations starters in the years to come, I do not know, nor have any desire to pin down any day of the week. They all feel the same to me. What are days now when one bleeds to the next, but just a concept of the things that move forward, but are unaware of? Except of course, when it’s a Friday, particularly Friday night, 10:30 in the evening, Philippine Standard Time.

Every Friday at least until May 15 of this year.

Fridays B.C. (Before Corona) are hipster’s sacred ground. But in the age of pandemic, these hipsters stay at home, storm-troop Twitter, watch TV and crack phone screens until their sockets burn and eyes pop out. 2gether, the Thai BL ( Boys Love) Series which airs on Youtube every Friday, is that show that can make these hipsters stay at home or storm-troop Twitter, even if, say, the ECQ is lifted tomorrow. It’s that one show that I don’t mind watching, even with the centripetal pull of good literature nearby, at 10:30 PM which freakishly runs, at least to me, for 5 minutes because it feels so short and sudden. The period of waiting from one week to the next is a sadomasochistic lull, an interlude of weeping for the uncalled-for spoilers that fans suffuse social media and celebrating the little victories of a perfectly-placed translation of behind-the-scenes videos.

In the grand traditions of other BL series that come before #2gether, the tools of the trade here seem to be contemplative to certain regularities. It needs to have the right material albeit, not exactly groundbreaking but should work best through irresistible, all-too sudden episodes. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a BL series could run for 13 episodes tops or more but not as enduring as in the case of local teleseryes which may take several reincarnations. It could tackle the big issues which the characters go through in the course of the show but not as hard sell so it can still elicit the most appropriate escapist response. And most importantly as this can’t be denied, it should feature eye candies- fair-skinned, disarmingly charming, predominantly straight guys about to acclimatize naturally to the demands of the genre, or else it defeats the purpose of what a BL should be, so it can defy a possible alienation and reach out to its intended audience.

#2gether, my default favorite amongst the cornucopia of BL series, takes a grain of salt and a tequila to go with it. It updates the genre paying homage to erstwhile hits and still checks the same boxes. It is the story of Tine and Sarawat, both criminally attractive, as they try to define and make sense of this attraction that consumes them. From their awkward first encounter where Tine asks Sarawat to pretend to be his fake boyfriend to deter a persistent admirer from pursuing him to Sarawat’s stolen kisses as feelings change but with a twist that you don’t see coming, to the most romantic episode 11 ender that wraps up as it should. Arguably, even if the show will do wrong, its fanatical hordes will still wolf it down, unmindful of its blatant disregard to the craving public.

2gether the series

    What is most admirable about #2gether is does not romanticize the usual tropes that LBGT-themed series employ to its advantage: intimate scenes, as implied in its most tender moments, do not drive the show to move a frenetic pace. Spoiler: When Tine and Sarawat move together, we will never see them undress each other passionately. They woke up next to each other, each fully dressed with their clothes the night before, and we understand and we accept it and we move on to nonstop swooning again. This is a delicate, if not a precarious balance to strike because 1. it could get overwhelming especially to a generation of love-starved gay men who like to keep their feelings latched for a supposed fear of judgment and 2. the unlikelihood of these things from ever happening is stemmed from the idiosyncratic idealism. As I was watching and re-watching the series in the comforts of my bed, there are instances that I have to pause a scenario because it can almost feel cartoonish. After all, I never had an instance where a man professes his admiration to me through songs and even dares to look me in the eyes in utter emotive surrender. 2gether effervescently supports a dream that I play over and over again, raptures all the could have beens and what-ifs in series of doe-eyed squeals and pulls everything inward to its blessed center.

I breezed through the first 11 episodes the way I scarfed down riveting bestsellers: urgent, deliberate, goal-oriented. I need to catch up with the narratives because it will end soon. I need to squeeze all the fleshed-out moments into my head so I can reach out to them when the world is falling apart. Those were the greatest instances that I spend on the medium- on my battered iPhone 6, under a data subscription that can end abruptly- even if I only met Tine and Sarawat for that briefest period of strategic boredom. Bright and Win, the real names behind the characters, grow on me like second skin. Whenever I scroll a Facebook group or inadvertently follow the week’s official hashtag, I have to marvel on how my heart skips a beat when I see Bright’s deep-seated eyes, or Win’s winsome smile or the two of them goofing and guffawing together as they take a Youtube challenge together all for the fans. This is probably what Alice in Wonderland might have felt when she fell down the rabbit hole: there are many chances to get out of it, but I choose to stay. Also, I never had this burning-hot desire to learn another language apart from the ones that I wielded ever since Bright sang the series OST at the show end credits which I admittedly watched only once because it spoils the next montages. The official video as of press time has racked 15 million views after a month it was released and I might have contributed half of it. To say that I am obsessed with it is putting it bluntly.

2gether is far from perfect and it does not try to be. But who cares about perfection when the show could be this light and fluffy and therapeutic and a solitary episode like a shot of dopamine? It just feels good to be lost in their smoldering stares reserved only to themselves but us raging fans can have a front row seat advantage. We wish we all could be Tine or Sarawat at one point but we won’t trade this chance for anything in the world. We wish we have this kind of show growing up so all the free falling and the ground bursting colors cannot be invalidated. This is a version of a love story we like to play over and over again because even if it’s just a concept, we are radiated from within, lit with the show’s fire and ember until we all glow luminous and incandescent.

In each episode cut to four uneven parts, I am anxious and breathy and expectant like I’m going on a labor. It’s not hormones but it is very likely that I will cry again in the episode’s unguarded moments because this is how I roll with the show’s punches. This isn’t in 2gether The Series’s genetic blueprint of course whose romcom proclivities are brought to the fore. But time’s rough at the moment, we all seek comfort even if that means unabashedly reacting differently to what is perceived to be as light viewing experience and I don’t see wrong with it. I am an emotional person that even if I can’t understand the lyrics of the songs featured prominently by a real Thai band, Scrubbs, I still hug the pillow I go to bed every night. I think of rose-colored days ahead all while remembering how it feels to love and be loved in return, which 2gether The series plays out incessantly until it becomes solid, touchable truth.

2gether the Series 2020๐Ÿ’•❣️๐Ÿงก

The May 15 finale could have ended differently, but the afterglow of the show was in its most piercing. Interestingly, it spawned top trending domination, hilarious memes, and to some extent some amateur directorial stints from the viewers which are valid representations of the show’s mass appeal. Endings are crucial and as nerve-wracking as the first few scenes. It could be subtle or could take the high road, or mess things up. But for whichever twist and turn it took, only time will tell if the flame will hold up on its own.

In arguably one of the show’s dramatic revelations in Episode 7, where earlier Tine told Sarawat to quit with the fake flirting, the transcript of their conversation encapsulates the seismic impact of the show to me when this is all over:

Sarawat: But when I saw you with someone else, I don’t think I can stop my feeling anymore.
Tine: And do you think I can? From the day you disappeared, my life was never the same. Whatever I did, or wherever I went, you caught up with me. Even in my dreams, you were there teasing me. Are you going to take responsibility for what you did?

To which I sigh. Same Tine. Same.

Now published at Annyeong Oppa in a slightly different format

*all images are from Pinterest*


The Great NBS Sale Finds

National Bookstore is a constant puzzler these days. First, they are slowly turning into school supplies-general merchandise even months away from Balik Eskwela. Second, they have sales after sales after sales that me wonders, are the company struggling? But I don't complain about the latter. The former, I have some words.

What I particularly hate is the sight of their Bestsellers and New Titles shelves now replaced with far too many planners and notebooks that I don't even consider cute. I mean, can these notebooks be relegated to just a corner and allow the books to take centerstage? Or the winds are changing because people don't read nowadays and only by selling these school days staples can they ever survive?

I just hope not because I always have some of the best memories when I'm inside the store. There will be no mall days without visiting a branch because stepping into the bright interiors with all the fabulous books ready to wear my wallets thin is the kind of simple luxury that I can afford.

Although I am lowkey complaining about the direction their brand is heading into ( I could be wrong though it's just that I am #LakingNational so I should know), their many, many sales this year are a different story.

My favorite branch to visit when they are having these insane sales is their Superbranch in Cubao. It's impossible to miss this because even from a distance, the telltale red exterior with their store's name scrawled in the surface can easily be seen alongside Araneta City's many establishments.

So the moment I entered the store, I directly went up and located my favorite sections: Lifestyle books. Super happy to buy all of these books insanely discounted.

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book

50 Ways to draw your beautiful ordinary life

My Ideal Bookshelf

The Bust DIY Guide to Life

Cool Japan Guide

The Exquisite Book

Lizzie Lees Create Your Own Collage

So you want to publish a magazine? 

Hello Tokyo

I regretted the fact that I only had this fascination towards lifestyle books as of late. I'm a novel kind of person but novels bore me these days. Very happy that I grew up reading all the novels that I could get my hands on so I don't really need to burden myself of buying new books as they happened.

So do you have any marvelous finds from the sale?