Sunday, March 30, 2008

roma panorama

After seven days in Rome, the Italian capital, what did I take home with me?

2 pairs of shoes, 2 jackets, 2 shirts, 1 belt, 1 pair of sandals, and... 700 (yes!) snapshots of one of Europe's grandest-looking cities. Here, take a look at some of them:

1. A cherub stares out from the inner dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

2. Tourists learn that the best way to see Rome is on foot.

3. Heavenly light shines on the city after a day of rain.

4. Yellow ochre, orange, burnt siena, peach, and raw umber. Who says a metropolis has to be gray?

5. The statue of St. Peter Nolasco, founder of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy (whose members offered themselves as ransom in order to save others), glows inside the dark interior of St. Peter's Basilica.

6. After an elevator ride, one still needs to climb 320 steps to the tip of the dome to catch this magnificent view of St. Peter's Square.

7. The only way to see the altar from the dome was through a thick wire fence. :-(

8. Thousands of plastic chairs are still lined up on St. Peter's Square the day after Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Easter mass.

9. The latest Dolce & Gabbana gladiator sandals walk Rome's stony pavements.

10. One may get a glimpse of the crowded piazza from inside the Pantheon.

11. A fragment of the Colosseum's arena peeks through silhouetted buttresses.

12. The only source of light inside the Pantheon is a hole in the ceiling.

13. The sun outlines the beauty of the trees at the Roman Forum.

14. The monument of Vittorio Emmanuel II (united Italy's first king) stands proudly at the center of Rome.

15. The remains of the temple of Castor and Pollux at the Forum rises against the blue sky.

16. Sculptural Italian pine trees are seen outside one of the Colosseum's scenic windows.

17. Bas relief sculptures adorn the entrance to the Vatican Museum.

18. Inside, one has to walk through the stunning Hall of Maps to reach the Sistine Chapel.

19. A formal balance characterizes most of Roman architecture.

20. The Vatican Museum's spiral staircase provides a most dramatic exit.

Tip for those planning on a Roman holiday: The city's grand proportions should be captured on a wide angle lens. I found it very hard to crop things out of a picture. It felt like tearing pages off a Roman history book! :-)

(Top) I took this pic of Series 5's Italian Flag Bearbrick against the dome of St. Peter's Basilica and the Ponte (bridge) Vittorio Emmanuel II. It was very windy, the bearbrick almost fell into the Tiber River!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

british designer be@rbrick

"F___ everybody except us," says the t-shirt on the Be@rbrick you see above.

Such audacity and irreverence can only come from British designer Vivienne Westwood (left), the fashion iconoclast responsible for bringing punk style (bondage gear, razor blades, safety pins, bicycle/lavatory chains, spiked dog collars, wild hair and make-up) into the mainstream. She started to gain fame when the punk band, The Sex Pistols, began to wear her outrageous fashion.

In September 2006, in collaboration with the British civil rights group called "Liberty", she created 'I am not a terrorist, please don't arrest me' t-shirts in support of the writ of habeas corpus.

Notorious for going knickerless, she twirled around to reveal her derriere (and more!) when she collected her OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1992. In 2006, she was made a dame by the Prince of Wales.

A three-time awardee for British Designer of the Year, Westwood has been influential in launching the careers of other British designers like Patrick Cox. Remember when supermodel Naomi Campbell fell on the runway in 1994? She was wearing Patrick Cox's 9-inch heels for Westwood's 'Clint Eastwood' collection.

Westwood's reputation and successful career in fashion was a result of an unabashed and undying self expression. Clearly, it wasn't about making fashion statements, but rather, about her own life statement coming into fashion.

(Top) This Westwood Be@rbrick is one of a set of three.

Pic of Westwood's London shop on Conduit Street by me / Pics of her 2008 spring-summer men's collection are from the catalogue which I got from her shop / Info from Wikipedia

Sunday, March 23, 2008

on every corner of london

In Paris, you'll find a sidewalk cafe on every corner. In Brussels, that will be a chocolatier. In Hong Kong, a Giordano store. In Bangkok, a foot massage clinic. In Amsterdam, a 'coffee shop' (which means a place to smoke pot).

In London, which I recently visited for the second time, bookstores remain as ubiquitous as ever. I'm not talking of big chains such as Borders, but of small specialty bookstores like the ones in Central London.

I find it wonderfully reassuring, in this age of Internet infotainment, that the art of the printed page is alive and well.

To quote Jerry Seinfeld, "A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking."

What a bloody good way to put it! :-)

The 'I London' Bearbrick is one of six from the 'A Round World' series of Colette Paris. Bearbrick pics (by the London Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace gate and Victoria Palace Theater) by moi. Seinfeld quote from

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

on turning 1

A little more than a year ago, Socky, my friend and business partner, gave me the idea for this blog. A blogger herself, she told me, 'Why don't you blog about your Be@rbricks, Ariel?'

At first, I thought, 'Who has the time?' I was churning out advertising stuff at the speed of light. 'Three-deadlines-a-day' kind of work. For sure, it was not going to be a 'stream-of-consciousness' kind of blog. I would need to conceptualize, research, write, and post! To make matters worse, half the web info on Bearbricks are in Japanese!

Then I told myself, 'Well, a lot of people have done so much more in their lifetimes. Surely, you can do this.'

That was the beginning.

After a month and 28 posts (I wrote so much back then), Bearbrick Love was nominated in the 1st Philippines Blog Awards. What a really cool start it was! :-D

Lately, my 'three-deadlines-a-day' workload seems more like 'five-deadlines-a-day'. But I'm still here. Photographing Be@rbricks. Researching on Be@rbricks. And writing Be@rbrick stuff.

I figured, if readers like you find the time to come here to read about these lovable, little creatures, then – hell, yes – I'm going to find time to tell you about them :-)

It's been a great 1st year – thanks, everyone!

(Top) The Series 11 Artist Be@rbrick with the number '1' on its face was designed by Taroshooten of Japan. Taroshooten designs and sells hand painted robot figures, self destruct buttons, funky silver rings and toy explosive kits. You can check out the Japanese site here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

the third eye

Last week, I attended the shoot of a television commercial. During dinner break, our conversation drifted to the subject of people with 'third eyes'.

Yup. Mediums. Clairvoyants. People who see dead people.

According to our director, his daughter started to see ghosts when she was very young. Obviously, it was difficult for him at first, having to deal with unseen playmates, psychologists, parapsychologists, mediums with spooky stories, and a host of otherworldly experiences.

But while he initially considered his daughter's paranormal faculties 'scary and alarming', he now has no choice but to accept it as 'useful and practical'.

One summer, he brought his whole family for a vacation at a beautiful beach house. After a quick tour of the place, his daughter told everyone, "Just avoid the small room on the left." And why was that? According to her, it had spirits that were "not very nice." (Experienced mediums will tell you that some ghosts are more malevolent than others. And that they can tell just by how the spirits look or smell.)

Well, it must have been a relief for the family that the house had many other rooms to choose from! LOL

Another medium who has put his gift to good use is a broadcast producer, Mr. D, who I met when I was working at JWT Manila.

One day, he visited the house of his friend whose daughters had been constantly sick for unexplainable reasons. True enough, he discovered a hostile presence hiding in one of the rooms. (According to Mr. D, he could smell the room's stench from outside the door!)

And so he invited the spook to his car, drove it to a farm field far away, and left it there for good. Soon after that, his friend's daughters recovered from their mysterious ailments, and they all lived happily ever after.

I guess having a 'third eye' has its benefits. If you're one of the poor souls who see the spirits among us, think of it this way: in times of trouble, you know you'll never be alone. LOL

(Top) The Eproze Be@rbrick with three eyes was designed to commemorate the online retail store's 7th anniversary. The pic that you see above is from the Eproze website that sells exclusive streetwear labels such as Mack Daddy, Devilock, Revolver, etc. Note the push-button console beside the 'Eames-style' chair and stool – such a sleek representation of online shopping, isn't it?

Info from Wikipedia and / Third eye pic from