Thursday, May 22, 2003

And sometimes, people can be just magically great. Got this tonight in my email:

hello, and thank you -- what a nice note. really glad you enjoyed the book.
cheers, and best wishes,
susan orlean

Which made my month. Along with finishing the script (now in its final drafting stages). It was also a cute coincidence, since I mentioned her in the post I'd written below.


Last thoughts on The Matrix Reloaded:

I think I may have the answer. I think that the real reason most people are disappointed with Reloaded, whether most of these people realize it or not, is because unlike the first Matrix, which was unashamedly escapist fun and concerned itself with just posing and looking Fucking Cool, Reloaded pretends to be About Something. It tries to be important; have meaning. You feel it from the very beginning: why does everything smack of Star Wars after that opening fight scene? The shots of ships docking, the crew disembarking, Zion's architecture, its citizens' garb, hell, Zion's even got a COUNCIL! And in pretending to be About Something, it tried too hard, and choked on its own ambition. Reloaded is the Wachowskis taking everything waaay too seriously, and being unable to convey that feeling to the audience in any clear, logical, and concise way.

And that's that.

Doesn't change the fact that everyone's going to be lining up for Revolutions, though.


Yesterday was my mother's birthday, and she took the day off work, and we did pretty much everything she wanted to do, which was have lunch at Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay, and go to mass at the Church of San Agustin in Intramuros.

Neva and I gave her a cigarette case that comes with a lighter. Despite my disapproval of her vice, it doesn't look like she's going to quit anytime soon. At least she smokes much less than she used to. My dad used to smoke, but quit cold turkey one day and hasn't smoked a stick since, though he has the occasional cigar with his brothers. My mom quit cold turkey thrice-whenever she found out that she was pregnant-and then promptly resumed the day each of us kids was born.

Anyway, it took an hour to get to Tagaytay, surprisingly, and we got to Sonya's Garden, which is literally a compound devoted practically entirely to plants. There's a dirt road, and a quaint wooden fence, and a parking lot. As you go in, you notice lots of signs:

Arugula For Sale,
Sonya's Body and Massage Parlor,
Country Store,
Private Garden Not Open To Public, (which is, I assume, why it's called the Private Garden)
and three that made me smile:
Do Not Provoke or Tease the Dogs;
Well-Behaved Kids Are Welcome: No Running, Shouting, and Kicking of Pebbles;
and Strictly No Picking of Flowers, Picking Up Pebbles, and Banging of Chimes.

Which means that it used to happen a lot, I guess. Legions of misbehaving children terrorizing the dogs while picking flowers, kicking pebbles, running screaming at the top of their lungs, and banging chimes.

The story goes that the restaurant is really more of a hobby: Sonya probably makes most of her money from selling plants. But people liked the food and kept eating there, and kept recommending it to their friends, and more and more people kept coming. There used to be three separate cottages where people could eat, each with its own bathroom (which has a stone tub and a balcony). Now there's a larger covered area where the guests eat (though the cottages are still there in case they're needed, or for more private functions), and it's split in two: the other half is a garden. Occasionally, mist is sprayed on the plants and if the wind's strong enough it floats to the patrons. The ambience is wonderful: very natural, relaxed, peaceful. Soft music plays from hidden speakers. I should know, ''cause I looked for 'em (they're in the kitchen). The menu never changes: the three times my mom's eaten here she had the exact same thing. If you don't like it, you can leave. You begin with a salad, and you can choose what you want in it. Then the main course is pasta, with two sauces: Sun-Dried Tomato or White Chicken, and again, you make it yourself: there were bowls of scampi, capers, mushrooms, cheese, nuts, anchovies, etc. Drinks were dalandan juice with mint leaves. Dessert was turon and sweet potatoes. It's PhP500 a head, plus a 10% service charge. If you show up without a reservation they won't accept you. And reservations are only by cellphone. They rarely serve dinner, but sometimes they're open up to 8 PM.

After the meal we walked around the garden, admiring the plants and flowers. Having recently read Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief I tried really hard to appreciate the flora more than I normally would, but could only identify a group of plants: bromeliads. No specific species. I saw the dogs the signs mentioned, and some chickens running about. We also visited the other three cottages. I should've gone to the Conservatory, because Neva later told me that it was a butterfly conservatory. She'd read about Sonya's Garden in a magazine. Around the garden there are some shaded benches, and a cushioned seat or two, and about two full mattresses, where only the owner could sleep. It was so tempting, because the air's so clean and refreshing, and we were full from the meal, and the temperature was just about right (since it was colder than in Manila).

Our last stop was the Country Store, where they sold various sizes of ornate dreamcatchers; and an "oriental lazy boy," basically a wooden reclining chair from Vietnam; and assorted dried fruits, herbs, spices, lotions, shampoos, soaps, tchotchkes, gewgaws, etc. We got a bottle of their herbal salad dressing.

It rained after that, which ruined our plans of taking a swim, so we drove back to Manila. The mass at Intramuros was uneventful, except I had developed a horrible headache on the drive down and had a difficult time standing up and keeping my concentration. It didn't help that the priest was one of those guys who talked s o s l o w l y . The headache lasted all the way till I got home, had dinner, and took the miraculous Motrin-S.

It sucks having sinusitis.

Which, incidentally, I inherited from my mother.

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