Pajammy Party

Pillow fights, secrets, s'mores and scary stories. Sleeping bag not required.

Like Barney but better


I was in a serious hair rut. For a few years now, this has been my hair care regimen: shampoo, condition, towel-dry hair, tie hair in a bun. Yes, while wet. Yes, I’m terrible.

My hair has grown so long and my bun has gotten so big that the last time I traveled, airport security actually checked my bun, as if I was hiding weapons of mass destruction in my tangles.

It was time for a change and I didn’t mean me reaching for the nearest bottle of Manic Panic and DIY-ing my hair troubles away. I needed the experts. And by experts I mean the killer combo of husband-and-wife team Jude Hipolito and Rose Velasco.

I actually sent Rose my first SOS in November but I didn’t have the chance to go to the salon until now. I first met Jude and Rose during a work trip to Shanghai. It was Rose who first colored my hair in 2004. I didn’t know this until now, but she says I was the first person to ever ask her for pink hair.

Ten years later, I found myself back in their chair, this time in their newest salon Juro Salon Exclusif. I had no pegs, no plans. They know better so I left it up to them. Jude expertly cut my hair (while I was standing – yup, that’s how he works his magic), keeping the length but removing all traces of my fake ombré.

Then, Rose pre-lightened my hair (it was my first time to see myself entirely blonde and that was… erm, interesting) before giving my hair a reddish-purple base and highlights in different shades of purple and lavender.

You know how hair color – especially funky colors – can often look like it was slapped on? Not this time. It looks like purple hair actually grew out of my head and I love it. The result is the right mix of subtle and crazy.

I know this salon is more expensive than most but after abusing my hair for years, I totally think it deserved this treat. My hair does seem happier now.

And the best part? Jude and Rose are such warm, lovely people that an afternoon spent at their salon feels more like a nice visit with good friends – except you leave with better hair. I can’t believe I waited ten years to experience their magic again.


After reading this horrific article, I called Lola Charit because I knew she and my other grandparents lived through World War II. They were both in Manila – this is where all my grandparents grew up.

When I was growing up, every year, we spent November 1 at the family mausoleum at the North Cemetery which was just a couple of blocks from our house. I’d point to each name, especially those who passed away before I was born, and ask how they died.

It was Soly’s story that had always stayed with me. She was just 17, pregnant and married to Lolo Dick, my Lolo Osing’s brother. It was 1945, at the height of the Japanese war. Bombings and gun battles were a regular occurrence and Lola Bibay, their mother, thought it was safest for them to sleep in their garage. So there they were that night, sleeping in total darkness – Lolo Osing, his parents, his siblings and Soly. Soly was sleeping beside her husband Lolo Dick but in the middle of the night, he realized she was no longer beside him. While they were asleep, shrapnel had pierced through the garage, hitting Soly in the stomach, killing her and her baby. The force was so strong that it blasted her away from her sleeping husband.

There was no way to give her a proper burial, Lola Charit said, so Lolo Dick and his siblings made a makeshift coffin for his wife. They found a spot under a tree in the North Cemetery and buried her there.

Lolo Dick was so heartbroken he soon left for the US after.

Years later, after the war, because his brother was already thousands of miles away, it was Lolo Osing who tried to search for Soly’s remains. He looked for the tree where they buried her. He found remains, claimed them and gave them a proper burial. It was only today that I found out, after talking to Lola Charit, that he wasn’t sure if it was really Soly he found. The bones in the crypt I had been pointing to as a child could have belonged to another victim of the war.

Lolo Osing and Lola Charit were still in the early stages of their courtship in 1945. Lola Charit’s family was luckier than Lolo’s. Yes, it was a tough time, she said. They didn’t have a lot to eat (sometimes just half a corn), her mother cried every day but at least they all survived.

Lola Charit’s brothers liked going outside to watch what they called “the dog fights” between Japanese and American planes. One day, shrapnel hit Lolo Rogie and Lolo Aling as they watched a battle. Shrapnel had to be taken out of Lolo Rogie’s leg and Lolo Aling still has shrapnel in his lungs but they’re both still alive today.

In later months, things became better. Lola Charit’s mom started selling halo-halo to their neighbors and to American soldiers who were everywhere. “Yung mga sundalo, walang ginawa kundi manligaw ng mga babae,” Lola Charit said.

“Ikaw din niligawan?” I asked.

“Oo naman, di ko lang pinapansin,” she said.

Lola added that they didn’t learn about the massacres until later. The Japanese had destroyed bridges and getting around was hard.

I asked her how they escaped from being killed. It was just luck, she said. If they had lived in a different area of Manila, she said, “Malamang patay kami lahat.”

It’s easy to think that things that happened in the distant past have nothing to do with you. But I was hit with the realization that if my grandparents had been at the wrong place (or if Lola Charit responded to an American solider’s advances instead of marrying Lolo Osing), I wouldn’t be here today.

History. I hated it as a kid but now I want to know everything.

Beyond tragic

This is Anne Van de Ven. She is the 26-year-old Dutch woman who died in the Florida Bus tragedy.

According to a Dutch publication, Anne had quit her job as a primary school teacher so she could travel around the world. She explored South America, China, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo and Indonesia and had planned to go to Australia after visiting the Philippines.

Anne had been here for almost two weeks when she boarded that ill-fated bus with her friend Annemiek Verwegen. Annemiek survived the crash but is in serious condition.

Anne chronicled her travels online – on a page that has now become a virtual memorial, where the people who knew her have been posting messages of shock and grief and remembrances of a girl they described as “sweet” and “sparkling.”

She was loved.

This was the last thing she had written in her travelogue: “A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers. My year visa for Australia is inside. Let’s see if these flowers bloom in late February… But first I’m going to thoroughly enjoy in the Philippines with the beautiful Annemiek at my side.”

She liked the Facebook page “Places To See Before You Die.” The last place Anne saw was Bontoc, Mountain Province, all because of irresponsible bus operators who care more about profit than people’s safety.

How many more Annes and Tados need to die before they stop gambling with people’s lives?

On the eve of her last Christmas, Anne had written, “I walk around the globe, visit exotic places, meet new people, different cultures and live my own vision of freedom. I chose to be a professional dreamer. And when I lie awake at night and think about all the misery in the world, I try to think of what I do like, because my sense says that it could go either way.”

This Homeland intermission was brought to you by The New York Times

“Holy shit!” I said to Jill, pausing Homeland so I could break the news without Claire Danes stealing my thunder. “I just got an email from The New York Times.”

“Whoa!” she said.

They wanted to know if I would be free for a phone interview later this week. The topic? Nail polish, of course.

But I kinda had the feeling they thought I was based in New York. So I emailed back and said I’m in the Philippines but sure, they could call me. The reply came within minutes. Was I just traveling here and did I have Skype? No and yes, I replied, I’m really based in the Philippines. “Not sure if you were looking for someone based in New York,” I added.

Yes, they were. The interview was off. “Leche!” Jill said. Strangely, she was more bummed out than I was. Truthfully, my bigger reaction was relief. Because I was already thinking, “Holy crap, if I do a Skype interview with The New York Times, does that mean I need to get a blowout and put some makeup on?”

The next day, I told Tatin about it and her reaction mirrored Jill’s. “Sayang!” she said.

Again, I was left wondering why she seemed more bummed out than I was. That was The New York Times. I almost genuflected in front of that building when I first saw it. Why wasn’t I sadder?

In the middle of EDSA traffic, it hit me. It’s just never been my dream. I like writing newspaper articles, not being featured in them. Everything I’ve done – the writing, the singing, the baking, the nail polish insanity – I’ve done because they’re fun, because I’m passionate about them, because I really enjoy them. It’s never been about fame or attention or money.

So it was with zero hard feelings that I wrote back to The New York Times,
“No worries!” Then I gave them the name of a girl based in New York who loves polish just as much as I do. Then I pressed the play button because Claire Danes was trying to save America from terrorists and, damn it, she wanted me to watch.

How to make garlic parmesan chicken wings

I swear, there’s a real recipe in here somewhere.

garlic parmesan wings


A computer
internet connection
nail polish
top coat
4 kilos chicken wings (or less, if you want to listen to Jill’s cook)
flour for dredging
1 cup salted butter
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
powdered parmesan
grated parmesan
Italian seasoning
onion salt
onion powder
garlic granules/powder


1. Realize that Jill’s spicy pasta and Mexican corn aren’t enough. Your dinner party menu needs chicken.

2. Briefly consider making your soy garlic chicken wings but drop the idea because admit it, you have done soy garlic chicken to death.

3. Think about making buffalo wings and then roll your eyes at your stupidity. The pasta is spicy, the corn is spicy, what are you trying to do – set someone’s mouth on fire? (And if that’s the plan, target Giff.)

4. Let the lightbulb hit you. Garlic parmesan wings! Delicious! And not spicy! Yes!

5. Google “garlic parmesan wings recipe.”

6. Look at photos of garlic parmesan wings and try – and fail – to decide which plate of wings looks the most delicious.

7. Google “best garlic parmesan wings recipe.”

8. Google “perfect garlic parmesan wings recipe.”

9. Google “garlic parmesan wings recipe so good your guests will want to dry hump them.”

10. Stop googling.

11. Watch old episodes of Dateline and 48 Hours on YouTube for hours.

12. Stop watching when you realize that you still haven’t found a recipe for garlic parmesan wings.

13. Google “best garlic parmesan wings recipe” again.

14. Read about twenty different recipes and find yourself completely confused, like the Bachelorette on the first episode of, uh, The Bachelorette.

15. And, just like the Bachelorette, think, “They all look meaty. And delicious. How will I choose?”

16. Say to yourself, hopefully unlike the Bachelorette: “Screw choosing. I will use all the recipes at the same time.”

17. Use your phone to grab screenshots of the ingredients list of all the different recipes.

18. Go to the supermarket.

19. Ignore your ingredients list and head to the chocolates section first.

20. Go to the dairy section and look for a block of parmesan cheese because you want to grate your own.

21. Be left disappointed by the measly cheese choices and walk to the pasta section to grab a can of powder masquerading as parmesan.

22. Return to the dairy section for one more attempt at finding decent parmesan. Find real grated parmesan hiding in a black box. And it comes with a free pot holder! Score!

23. Resist the urge to pump your fist in the air.

24. Grab three blocks of salted butter.

25. Head to the produce section and grab a bag of garlic.

26. Stand in front of the spice racks and scroll through your many screenshots. Feel a little overwhelmed. Make the quick decision to just get all the spices listed in all the recipes and figure out which ones to use later.

27. Grab dried basil, Italian seasoning, onion salt, onion powder, garlic granules.

28. Scan the shelf for garlic salt and find nothing. Wonder: if you can’t buy garlic salt, can you just use garlic granules and salt?

29. Look at all the spices in your cart and convince yourself that even if you don’t get to use all of them, you’ll find a way to use them later.

30. Ask Jill how much chicken you should buy.

31. Wait as she calls their cook and listen as the cook recommends that you get 2 kilos of chicken.

32. Go to the poultry guy and ask for 4 kilos of wings, just to be sure. You don’t want to run out of chicken wings – it has happened to you once before and it wasn’t pretty.

33. Ask them to chop the wings between the flat and the drumette.

34. Pay for your purchases.

35. Leave the supermarket.

36. Paint your nails.

37. Seriously, paint your nails. You can’t have horribly chipped nails when you’re co-hosting a dinner.

38. Go to the kitchen and ignore the chicken.

39. Make hot fudge.

40. While you’re making hot fudge, find someone who will peel and crush the garlic cloves for you.

41. Spend so much time working on the hot fudge that by the time you finish, it’s almost dinner time.

42. Season the raw chicken with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Really rub those flavors in, like you are giving the wings a creepy, pervy massage.

43. Deep fry the chicken. If you are lucky, find someone to deep fry them for you.

44. Panic when the first guest arrives and the food isn’t ready yet.

45. Chit-chat as the chicken wings are frying and Jill is serving her pasta and the angels are grilling the corn.

46. Panic again when you realize that they are all waiting for the chicken.

47. Panic even more when you realize you need to throw the sauce together now and you have no time to consult your twenty recipes.

48. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that if you can ace your El Filibusterismo exam in high school without ever reading it, you can throw together a garlic parmesan sauce without rereading a recipe.

49. Melt a few spoonfuls of butter.

50. Add the crushed garlic and sauté it.

51. Just before it turns brown, add the rest of the butter.

52. When the butter is completely melted, add the parmesan. Start with the powder.

53. If you bought enough real grated parmesan, add some of it to the butter mixture too. If not, don’t. You will need it later.

54. Add the spices liberally. Onion salt, onion powder, garlic granules, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper – throw them in.

55. Try not to look surprised when your butter mixture actually starts looking like garlic parmesan sauce.

56. Grab one of the freshly fried wings, put it on a plate and drizzle it with your sauce.

57. Take a bite and chew.

58. Resist the urge to shout “Holy shit, it really tastes like garlic parmesan wings!”

59. Make Jill take a bite and pretend to be nonchalant when she says, “Sarap!”

60. Grab a sturdy tupperware, put a few wings in, drizzle the wings with sauce, close the tupperware and shake it until the wings are coated with sauce.

61. Open the tupperware, add some grated parmesan, close and shake.

62. Serve.

63. Repeat steps 60 to 62 until your guests are too full to eat another wing.

64. The next day, realize that you still have about a kilo of wings left and that you will need to make more sauce.

65. Repeat steps 49 to 62.

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