Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009 bad headlines continues...

can someone please twitter me what's so wrong with 2009? it's barely 5 months into the year and it is shaping up to be one of those years you'd remember more for the bad headlines than anything else.

the economy is slumping - it's actually slowing down, feds say. then the swine flu - yeah, the H1N1 flu, hit mexico, crossed to the US and is now creating quite a huge scare all over the world! omg!

and now our favorite hollywood couples are separating.

first came out news that mel gibson and his wife of 29 years have filed for divorce. the couple used to be role models of marital bliss but when a young east european model came along and, voila, marriage turns suddenly sour.

today, sean penn and robin wright penn, married for over 13 years, announced that they are likewise separating. what!?

i wonder who else out there are going to announce their headline-making separation next.

thank goodness for heidi and spencer for restoring my faith in hollywood marriages! lol. yes, the OC couple/brats got married over the weekend although, unfortunately, had their cancun honeymoon cut short due to... yeah, yeah, the mexican flu. it was still a good headline over at TMZ.

it's not a perfect world, i suppose. but whatever, it is yellow to me.

oh yeah, more bad news. adam lambert is still on AI. i find the guy actually very good but also very boring.

i only caught the last 2 minutes of last night's show because i was so captivated by last night's criminal minds. was the guy who played the serial killer tha same guy on the verizon commercials? the one with the "whole network following you"? twitter me please...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

California Wok Celebrates Success


May 2009 Celebration

In May 2009, California Wok, the biggest little secret in Orange County will be formally introduced to the Filipino Community via a two-day celebration that will include the launching of a new wing and a new groundbreaking show that will anchor its Sunday entertainment.

Quietly building a loyal clientele for the past two years, owners Sonny and Novie Medina are now ready to share the secret to the rest of Los Angeles.

Formerly owned by a Thai microbiologist, the couple bought the business and took over the operations in 2007. They have transformed what was once a quiet family restaurant located inside the Los Alamitos Corporate Center into a popular weekend entertainment destination with live sing-along bar and a group of versatile stand-up comics providing hysterical comedy shows. Joseph Gelito, LA’s premier comedian, leads the talented foursome that also includes Kasia, Justine and Maui.

The restaurant goes back more than twenty-two years in its history. It began as a dream for a Thai mother who wanted to imbue her own distinct and personal approach to a popular traditional cuisine. She started California Wok in Cerritos in the early 1980s and moved her restaurant to its present location sometime later. Over the years, the restaurant grew and expanded to include a banquet. It has also earned industry awards and was cited for eight consecutive years by the American Heart Association (AHA) for its heart-healthy menu. This endorsement by the AHA can be found next to the menu items.

The Dream

Sonny Medina has always wanted to manage his own restaurant. A Radiology Technician graduate of De La Salle Cavite, he started in the restaurant business as a manager for a popular Filipino fast-food chain. His wife, Novie, who is a Systems Administrator for a hematology and oncology center, comes from a family who owns various restaurants in Lucena City in the Philippines.

For the longest time, the couple dreamt of having their own business, and, in 2006, they started scouting the market for a possible restaurant venture.

Initially, they were supposed to buy a popular Filipino restaurant but the deal went sour just a few weeks after they took over.

But the couple was never intimidated. They were looking for another restaurant to buy when they accidentally met Baiyok, the former owner of California Wok, again. Sonny was previously introduced to Baiyok and the chance meeting ended with the couple sharing with Baiyok their recent sad business experience and how they still plan on running their own restaurant.

And in what can only be called a serendipitous moment, Baiyok, sensing the couple’s sincerity and good business acumen, offered to sell them California Wok. Sonny and Novie couldn’t believe their luck – they are going to have their own restaurant after all!

Because she wanted to retire, Baiyok was keen on selling the restaurant at a discount but with two conditions for the couple: first, she wanted all the staff to be retained and, second, she wanted the menu to be kept for her loyal customers. The couple, still reeling with disbelief at the sudden opportunity, readily agreed. A few days later, they started escrow.

On February 1, 2007, the couple formally took over the operations. They kept the staff, the menu, and the name. They also get to keep the secret formula to the soy sauce made of a special blend of various fruits that adds distinctive flavor to their food.

They redecorated the interiors, repainted the walls, and added live sing-along weekend entertainment a few months later.

California Wok

During the first few days that they were managing the restaurant, the couple discovered that their customers included zero Filipinos. Sure, the restaurant gets filled, but in order to grow, they needed to add more customers. They needed to tap the Filipino market.

When the couple started envisioning the future for California Wok, the first thing they considered was the live sing-along weekend entertainment.

Southern California, in recent years, has seen an explosion of sing-along bars patterned after the comedy bars popular in the Philippines. Ask a Filipino if he can sing, and he will not tell you but will show you that he can. Armed with whatever kind of voice, he will not hesitate to sing with a microphone in front of strangers as long as he gets that much-desired applause in the end.

Those who are not so brave to show off their natural voices still troop to these places because of the fun they get from the comedic antics of the sing-along hosts.

California Wok introduced Karaoke weekends July of 2007. The young and perky comedian Maui was the first sing-along host to be tapped. Joseph, finally freed from his other commitments, moved to California Wok a few months later. Kasia and Justine would join the gang much later.

Steadily, a good word-of-mouth started to build about this “new” restaurant that is offering delicious food and fun-filled sing-along entertainment. Soon, hordes of Filipinos started coming in droves.

In just over a year, California Wok has already made a mark in the entertainment scene and is now one of the most popular hangouts among food-loving and fun-loving Filipinos. And as its popularity grew, the restaurant, in its former size, became too small to accommodate the throng of people that continued to come. In some instances, a long queue would form outside, and some patrons, who are unwilling to wait, just leave.

The couple saw this and decided to expand the restaurant. It took several months to get the necessary approval for expansion and finally, on May 30, the new and bigger California Wok will be presented to the public.

On that same occasion, the restaurant will introduce another entertainment feature that will supplement their current Friday-Saturday sing-along nights.

Embracing America

During its two-day grand celebration, California Wok will launch a new show called “Embracing America”. This show will be a once-a-month private Sunday entertainment feature to showcase local and Philippine-based artists in a series of comedy-concerts dealing with the cultural fusion of the American and Filipino values.

A brainchild by Joseph, who is affectionately called LA’s “star for all genders”, the show will include comedy skits, celebrity spoofs, and character sketches, among others.

A who’s who of Filipino entertainment is also lined up to appear. These artists include Marco Sison, Rey Valera, Bernardo Bernardo, Bobby Solis, and the Ichiban Stars. There are also plans to have Ric Manrique do a Kundiman night. Negotiations to have Pilita Corrales and Dulce perform are also currently in the works.

A group of loyal California Wok patrons will also be featured in a sing-along showdown called “The Best of California Wokers”.

What was once a dream for a mother is now keeping alive the collective dreams of Sonny and Novie. The couple, which had to endure a rough start in their married life, is now enjoying the fruits of their labor while bracing for what the future awaits for them. They have bigger plans for California Wok and they can’t wait to see them take shape.

A short 25-minute drive from Downtown LA, California Wok is located in the city of Los Alamitos in Orange County.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

should i be scared?

let's veer away from showbiz this time.

yahoo is reporting that two deaths have been linked to the dreaded swine flu virus in bellflower and norwalk.

and why should this matter to me? you ask. i live in bellflower! and norwalk is just a cough away from bellflower. tell me, shouldn't i be scared?

i think i will have more reason to stay indoors now. gyms are potential hazards and i got an excuse not to go. what else. projects! i need to finish this rush job by may 10 and i am at most 15% through with it.

but seriously though, i am pretty scared about this terrible outbreak. is it another terrorist handiwork? i wonder. it's so sudden and how it spread is very much suspect.

let's squeeze in the movies now. they say that one of the best precauitions against contracting this disease is for people to avoid contained spaces, hence the gym, wink, wink.... but let me ask, should people start avoiding moviehouses, too?

i am afraid the big summer movies are gonna be affected the most if this virus is not contained soon. what bad luck it would be for X-MEN if its opening weekend gross suffer after its unauthorized internet leak weeks ago. terrible. terrible. terrible.

oh well. gotta wash my hands now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


so beyonce topped this week's box office race. hmmm.

the soloist came in fourth - which is good! i didn't really expect the soloist to do well after it was bumped off last fall for a spring playdate. hint: if a prestige movie is delayed for whatever reason from its original award-season opening sked, then it must be somewhat awful.

but beyonce? obsessed??? the trailer alone makes me cringe - but a shift is a shift. teenagers rule the box office money and they now command who and what they want to see on screen. and as long as the movies are alive, who am i to complain.

but beyonce #1? well... oh... gotta go...

Saturday, April 25, 2009


been hearing about twitter a lot these days. i read it on Details, see it on CNN, find it on YAHOO - it's anywhere!

and now, thanks to KFC grilled chicken (why KFC??? - ask me and i'll tell you), am now tweeting - is that the right verb? tweeting? anyway, am on twitter now. name: ph_raymond.

i don't know how it works but hopefully i get to catch up quick.

now on to other non-twitter-related topic.

this week, i was vent on eating just oatmeal. monday, i was fine.

tuesday - not fine. the office had what we call a "WE-TREAT", a tradition poor non-management staff started about five years ago when the management team of my company started having these so-called two-day annual retreats. this year, they went to palm springs and we had barbeque and a table-full of delicious cakes and pastries. bye oatmeal.

wednesday and thursday, i was in good behavior. i might be able to actually finish the week somewhat triumphant.

... and friday came.

tonight. i scheduled two dinners in two cities separated by about 30 miles. at 7, i was at my friend's birthday dinner at p.f. chang's in burbank - they serve chinese and i probably consumed more than two normal people would -- it's one of my fave restos, what can i do?

at 9, i was to meet with another set of friends at toscanova in century city - by its name, i don't have to tell you it's italian.

i made it to the first dinner but was an hour late to the 9pm dinner - i didn't even make it for dessert. dang! but it was a good night. it ended on just the right note.

i wonder what's opening this weekend. is "the soloist" coming out today?

could someone please twitter me if it is....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

philippines back in cannes again!

flash news...

am not a big brillante ma. mendoza fan but his achievement is still great news.
his films have competed two years in a row now... way to go!!!

hopefully, "KINATAY" will be better than sub-par "SERBIS".

Here is the complete list of films competing for the top prize:

Antichrist, Denmark-Sweden-France-Italy, Lars von Trier

Bright Star, Australia-U.K.-France, Jane Campion

Broken Embraces, Spain, Pedro Almodóvar

Enter the Void, France, Gaspar Noe

Face, France-Taiwan-Netherlands-Belgium, Tsai Ming-liang

Fish Tank, U.K.-Netherlands, Andrea Arnold

In the Beginning, France, Xavier Giannoli

Inglourious Basterds, U.S., Quentin Tarantino

Kinatay, Philippines, Brillante Mendoza

Les Herbes folles, France-Italy, Alain Resnais

Looking for Eric, U.K.-France-Belgium-Italy, Ken Loach

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, Spain, Isabel Coixet

A Prophet, France, Jacques Audiard

Spring Fever, China-France, Lou Ye

Taking Woodstock, U.S., Ang Lee

The Time That Remains, Israel-France-Belgium-Italy, Elia Suleiman

Thirst, South Korea-U.S., Park Chan-wook

Vengeance, Hong Kong-France-U.S., Johnnie To

Vincere, Italy-France, Marco Bellocchio

The White Ribbon, Germany-Austria-France, Michael Haneke

bye anoop :(

when american idol started the season, i thought i would stick by it through its entirety... but no, it just wont let me.

first, they cast off tatiana, the puerto rican whiner who can cry like an angel and laugh like a devil possessed all in the same frame - she was my favorite auditioner.

my hopes went up again when the top 13 was selected. indian anoop desai (hello slumdog millionaire), blind scott mcintyre, and everyday man michael sarver (big burly oil rigman from texas) got in and i was watching again.

first to go was michael. it was okay.

scott held on and was sent home after 5 weeks. i was still watching - but only the wednesday result shows. nope, i stopped voting after tatiana did not make top 13.

last night, anoop was sent packing and i was crushed.

i watch idol for entertainment's sake. i don't watch it strictly as a talent show. there are already so many singers languishing just below billboard's top 100 and i don't care if these idol contestants want to join them. i am after my own enjoyment. and sadly, this season, idol gave me its last last night.

until next season then. oh, by the way, so you know, i am now rooting for kris allen to win - but if he doesn't i wouldn't mind.

does anybody know what tatiana is doing now?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

newest favorite soundtrack

my friend anselmo gave me for my birthday the soundtrack to "slumdog millionaire" and i haven't stopped listening to it ever since.

from the first drum beats of o'saya to the hypnotic humming of latika's theme, i feel transported back to the time i saw the movie and experienced its uplifting spirit for the first time.

oscar-winning jai-ho closes the cd, and, i swear, my car was dancing and swaying to its infectious beat.

love, love, love it. thanks anselmo!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just Asking

Has there been a generation shift in Hollywood without much of the public taking notice?

Note that Julia Robert's latest movie in two years pulled in only $13 mil during its first weekend outing and has quietly slipped in the rankings.

And now consider Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana's first weekend take of $33mil++ - amazing, indeed!

This week, zac efron toppled russell crowe and ben affleck with his megastar-like weekend blockbuster "17 Again".

We all know that Tom Cruise's career is so over. Can we pin our hopes on Will Smith still?

Just asking.

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