Sunday, August 19, 2018

Hayate Reflections: My Digital Art Process

I have a new Hayate-inspired story that I'll be featuring next week. For now, let me walk you through my digital art process in this video.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hayate Reflections: Nagi's Character Development Part 2

Lordcloudx here again and this week, we’re picking up right where we left off and discussing Nagi’s character development. So let’s get right down to it.

Beating Maria and not being afraid of the dark anymore

The next stage of Nagi’s character development came in the closing moments of the level 5 arc in chapter 515. At this point, Maria had gotten into the act and it culminates into a roulette battle between Nagi and Maria. This was a pretty iconic moment for Nagi. It marked the first time that she had ever beaten Maria in any game – since one of Maria’s quirks is that she’s basically invincible at games. Secondly, Nagi won without relying on Hayate or any other outside factors except the traits she was born with – an amazing intellect and even more amazing luck, which she was well aware of.

Needless to say, both Hayate and Maria were shocked by her victory. It is at this point wherein  her two pseudo guardians would disagree in their assessment of her. Maria notes how she has been sleeping on her own without being afraid of the dark for a while, but Hayate, in total denial says that nothing about her has really changed. At this point, Hayate is conflicted because he is probably well-aware of Nagi’s rapid development, but at the same time, he wants to retain the status quo.

Climax - heart broken

Next, we move on to the climax of Nagi’s development in chapter 561 and onwards.  And of course, this was the point when Nagi found out that Hayate never confessed to her all along and it leads to an explosion of negative emotions from her that was strong enough to open the path to the royal garden.

It’s also worth noting that delusional Nagi haters thought her ship had sunk at this point because Hayate had nooo romantic feelings for her. How did that turn out for you?

Ahem… anyway, her character development seemed to have taken a step back here since she wished for a world where Hayate loves her and thus, the royal power granted her wish by sending her into an illusory world where she could live with a fake Hayate and Maria forever.

Chapter 566

Of course, her redemption wouldn’t take too long. Near the end of the manga, Hayate manages to convince her that the time that they spent together wasn’t a lie even if he hadn’t noticed her feelings for him. This continues on into chapter 567 when Nagi’s character development reaches its true climax. It is here that Nagi gives up her inheritance to Hisui and then subsequently sets Hayate free, choosing to live on her own and become the woman that she had always aspired to be. Hayate stares at her with a lovestruck look on her face – which is easy to confirm if you will visit Hata’s blog – but if you’re in denial, then that’s too bad.. for you.

Also, let me take this moment to say that… of course Hisui was ok with just leaving and not causing any more harm after everything that’s happened. Nagi gave the inheritance to her. She got what she wanted. Furthermore, no matter how violent and greedy she was portrayed to be, Hisui never once tried to directly harm Nagi nor did she ever show that she hated her childhood friend.

And of course with that, there’s nothing left to do except to confirm Nagi’s character development – and this is adequately done when we see her two years later as a 16 year-old. Able to take care of herself in all aspects and most importantly – being stalked by Hayate for the last two years until she finally calls him out to confess to her for a happy, lovey-dovey ending.

Fanart Corner

Just a painting of Nagi in casual clothes this time. Reference was some Korean model, I think. Used White Nights watercolors for this one.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 6 (Final Day)

We spent most of the day packing up our things. We just finished off the food we had left inside the fridge for breakfast. After making sure that nothing had been left behind, we made our way downstairs with our luggage to check out. There was a bit of a misunderstanding because they requested us to deposit 4000 php as security on the first day, which would be returned when we checked out. However, the receipt they gave us only said 2000 php. Of course, my mother and I were pretty sure that we gave 4000 php, we just failed to check the receipt. My mother was about ready to explode on the woman behind the front desk at this point because she was actually the same employee who made the request when we first checked in. Fortunately, she just asked us to sign a paper acknowledging that we received our 4000 php back and there was no need for us to make much of a protest. Pretty sure the hotel would just settle things amicably rather than risk having us go public with it via social media and ruin their reputation anyway.

We then opted to just stay in the lobby for a while to wait.

A relative would be picking us up in her car for lunch. By about 12:00, the car arrived and after loading our luggage into the back of the car, we were off to the Power Plant Mall for lunch. It was just a short drive away.

I figured that since this was our last day, it was a good time for some last-minute shopping. We met another relative inside the power plant (both of them were women about 20 years or so older than me, by the way).

Anyway, while they were choosing a restaurant at the ground floor of the mall, I excused myself to go to the restroom. After that, I took a little detour up to the top floor and the Fully-Booked store over there. I browsed around the manga section for a bit to see if there was anything I wanted to buy -- nope.

Next, I went over to the art supplies section and bought three packs of 4x6" watercolor paper from Tokyo Finds and some black paper (these would be great for colored pencils and pastels).

At this point, I also took Nagi's last picture in Manila for a while.
See you again, Manila!

I rejoined my mother and relatives for lunch -- which was nice, except I forgot the name of the restaurant. Anyway, they had a mixture of different Asian food ranging from Thai to Indian and Chinese.

After a little bit of chit-chat, they wanted to see some of my watercolor paintings and they each asked for one -- and I was like, yeah, why not? Interestingly, they choose the ones that I rendered with Sakura Koi and not the Kuretake Gansai Tambi ones.

So with lunch done, we walked back to the carpark to go to our next destination. Dali's son came to pick her up at this point and we parted ways there. "Nene," the one who came with us to the mall would be accompanying us all the way to the airport. Fortunately, our flight was still at 11:40 PM, we had the rest of the day ahead. It was about 1:30 PM.

We had no idea where to go next so we let Nene decide. She asked us if we wanted to visit the house of our other relatives living here and we agreed. It took about 45 minutes to get there, but unfortunately, they were out of the house. Thus, we went on our way. She took us to a nearby SM Mall where our relatives were waiting. It was a mall that we'd never been to before. This place was on the outskirts of Manila, actually. Outside of the main city.

The mall was a bit smaller than most Manila malls, but it was quite passable. We walked around inside for a bit and finally met up with our relatives -- including her husband, children and grandchildren. It was a sort of mini-reunion. We found a place to sit inside of Pizza Hut and they ordered extra-large pizzas for everyone. My mother and I just ate a slice each because we were still full.

We spent quite some time chatting and reminiscing about our other relatives in Iloilo and all across the Philippines. I just mostly listened and let my mother do all the talking. I'm really not good with this type of stuff. In any case, they were really nice people and I definitely didn't feel uncomfortable nor left out.

After that, it was about time to get to the airport. It was around 6:40 PM when we parted ways with everyone and Nene drove us off to the airport, NAIA Terminal 3.

On the way there, she shared her own stories and heartaches with us -- especially about her singing career and her parents.

She dropped us off at the entrance to the airport and recommended that we see the Casino that was connected to terminal 3. 

After checking in our heavy luggage, we considered the thought, but ultimately decided against it because of how bulky our handcarry luggage was. Fortunately, terminal 3 has a mini-mall on the second floor with its own food court and several shops. We walked around the shops for a bit and then decided to eat a little bit for dinner. It was about 8:30 PM at this point. There were several restaurants there, including some high end ones. In the end, we opted for something simple at Wendy's.

I noticed there were several Caucasians in the restaurant as well -- and I noticed they acclimated to the "Filipino way" pretty quickly... and by that, I mean leaving their trash right on their table without even bothering to fix things up a bit for the waiter. Hah! Looks like we Filipinos aren't the only ones who act like lazy slobs when given the chance.

Heh, with that aside, we went straight to the waiting area after that and awaited our flight home. It took about 4 anime episodes on my phone before boarding time.

And that concludes our 6-day Manila trip for 2018.

Final Thoughts

Over-all, I'd say that this was the most fulfilling of any of our trips to Manila. Over the course of our trip, I'd heard the many colorful stories of people from all walks of life who have etched out a living in this massively diverse city. 

We were never really at a loss as to what to do in Manila and a part of it is because we were pretty familiar with the city at this point and which places we wanted to visit there. My only regret is that I never got to try ice skating while over there -- although we do have our own skating rink in Festive Walk Mall that opened fairly recently. A video of the Skating Rink shows that it's probably about the size of half a basketball court or less though... that's kinda pathetic.

Personally, I think Manila is a place that I could get used to living in pretty quickly. The city is so big that almost everyone on the street is a stranger -- unlike Iloilo City, which is so small that you're bound to run into someone you know if you hang out in the malls and other densely populated areas for a while. Being in such a massive city with so many people going about the daily rat race of life within the massive network of roads, skyways, and buildings that characterize Manila sort of serves as a reminder of just how insignificant we really all are in the grand scheme of things. I realize that most people see this as a negative, but for someone like me, an antisocial individual who doesn't quite value self-importance the way others seem to, I find it comforting -- reassuring even. 

I think I wouldn't dislike such an existence; being someone totally content to be nothing in a world where every other person is aiming to be something. 

With that said, this has been our 6-day trip to Manila and this is lordcloudx out. See you again in future travels to come.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Hayate Reflections: Nagi's Character Development Part 1

Greetings, lordcloudx here and this week, I'd like to talk about an often-understated portion of Hayate no Gotoku and of course, this would be Nagi's character development.  I mean, sure, it’s pretty much in-your-face if you were paying attention throughout the series, but I say that it’s understated because people often purposely ignore her character development to talk about the imaginary romantic developments they perceive with Hayate and all the other girls in his harem except for Nagi.

Therefore, let’s try to rectify this. I’ll keep things nice and simple.

Starting A Part Time Job

Now let me get this straight. I’m fairly certain that Nagi’s character development was always a work-in-progress that actually culminated in the penultimate chapter of the manga, but in my opinion, there were several key chapters that really highlighted her character development and of course, taking on a part time job was one of the first triggers.

At this point in the story, Nagi had just decided to burn a winning ticket for some small-time prize that Hayate had won. She was wondering why Hayate was so upset about it. Therefore, a little bit later, she asked Hayate what he would like for a birthday present and when Hayate said that he’d like a watch if it was from her so that he could always keep it with him, she decided to take on a part time job at the Café where Hayate and Hina work – Café Donguri. This triggers an episode wherein she totally shows up Ayumu when it’s shown that they’re both clueless about working in a café but that Nagi actually learns pretty fast.

It may not have seemed like much, but this was one of the first times that we were shown a more competent side of Nagi – even if it was played off for laughs.

Chapter 252

Chapter 252 needs no introduction, but for non-manga readers, I’ll do it anyway. This was the turning point for Nagi’s character development, basically. It was during this time when Nagi broke the King’s Jewel for Hayate’s sake. Her grandfather Mikado had said that the stone should be protected at all costs because it was the proof of her inheritance. On the other hand, Hayate had been informed by Nagi’s friend Isumi that his childhood sweetheart, Athena, needed the stone to be broken in order to be freed from the curse of King Midas. As you can imagine, Hayate was put into quite a predicament. 

He had to choose between saving the woman that he arguably loves and the girl who became his savior at the lowest moment of his life. Of course, while Hayate was agonizing over the decision he had to make – Nagi made that decision for him by breaking the king’s jewel herself and therefore, putting Hayate out of his misery. In effect, she actually gave up her inheritance just to see him happy – but wait, here’s the best part: Nagi was totally unaware of just how serious the matter was for Hayate since she had no clue about the curse of King Midas nor of Athena’s case. 

She broke the stone only because she saw that it was something that was troubling Hayate – in short, she did it out of a pure and honest love for him – however you may choose to label this love – platonic, romantic, whatever.

Writing Her Own Manga

The next stage of Nagi’s character development came in the mangaka arc. As you all know, she and Ruka were competing in a self-imposed doujin competition here with Hayate at stake. If Ruka won, Nagi would set Hayate free from his debt and allow him to marry Ruka. On the other hand, if Nagi won, then the status quo would stay and Ruka would continue being a pop idol and not bother her about Hayate again.

In the end, beyond the matter of who actually won the competition, the entire point of this arc was simply to show Nagi accomplishing a personal victory of her own – writing a manga from the heart and selling it herself despite having her manuscript almost destroyed just a few days before the due date of the competition.

Nearing The Finish

Nearing the end of the manga now, the next phase of Nagi’s character development happened in the Level 5 arc in chapter 510. It was during this time when Nagi began to reflect on her feelings for Hayate and about how her feelings of love were closely connected with the debt that he had with her at that time.

What she said at that time was: “I didn’t fall in love with him because he said he loved me. There must be times when someone falls in love with someone else upon first laying eyes on them.  Hayate, a lot has happened since I met you. They were busy and turbulent times, but they were still happy times. Is that why? Once that happiness became commonplace and the liveliness grew normal… I found I wasn’t sure of something. I didn’t know why you were by my side. Was it because you loved me? Or… was it because of your debt? Unlike formless love, solid numbers are powerful. At some point, those solid numbers had bound the two of us and become a strong support for my heart. But if not for that… Hayate, would you still stay by my side? Can I still believe in that formless bond? Hayate, my feelings for you have not changed.”

And then it stops as the alarm clock wakes her up… anyway, in this chapter we can see the reaffirmation and growth of Nagi’s love for Hayate. Yes, it may have started as a simple crush, but at this point in the story, surely, those feelings have blossomed into love – not yet reciprocal at this point… but now we all know what happens in the future.

She didn’t know it at that time, but it was also in this chapter when Hayate would permanently pay off his debt of 150 million yen to her – while still choosing to remain as her butler.

Anyway, this video is getting a bit too long, so I’m going to cut it up into two parts. This has been Hayate Reflectons and I will see you next week for part 2 of my personal analysis of Nagi’s character development. This is lordcloudx out.

Fanart Corner

Hata-sensei noticed me again this week~
Link to twitter post:

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 5

The 5th day of our trip fell on a Saturday. While we woke up pretty early, there was really not much to do since my mother's former High School classmates would be picking us up by 10:00-10:30 for a mini get-together that they would be having. I'd be tagging along, of course.

We had breakfast just inside our hotel room. The refrigerator was stocked with provisions that we hadn't used up yet -- including several cups of yogurt and ice cream. 

Anyway, by 10:30, two of my mother's classmates picked us up in a Mitsubishi Adventure SUV. It was actually a short drive to where we were going -- a place called "Paluto" just in the outskirts of SM Mall of Asia. 

Paluto was a pretty rustic place. There was a wet market at the center and several places where you could have your raw food materials cooked. They had fish, vegetables, and meat, as well as some miscellaneous items like sunglasses and cheap children's toys in their wet market. The way it works is that you buy your own groceries there and then head inside one of the many restaurants to have them cook the food to your specifications. There's an extra charge for that service, of course. Part of the reason why I think my mother's classmates chose this place is because the owners were "Ilonggos" from Iloilo City.

Anyway, we were led to a large long table where a few of my mother's other classmates were already waiting. Some of them wouldn't arrive until a few minutes later. Me having nothing much to do, I settled down to completing another mini painting. I was really loving these 4x6" pieces of watercolor paper.

When the food was finally prepared, I was quite impressed. The vegetable dish that they cooked made out of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and a few greens was really something else.

The group spent quite a while taking selfies, asking me to take group pics of them and just having a fun chat reminiscing about old times in general. 

By about 2:30, it was time for everyone to go on their separate ways. We were driven back to the hotel, of course.

Back at the hotel, we rested up a bit until about 5:30. We'd be meeting a younger batch at SM Mall of Asia -- some of my former seniors at the University of San Agustin Publications, and one younger individual who also went through the USA Pub and was a close friend of my mother's.

We took a GRAB car to SM MOA and it took just a little bit above 15 minutes to get there -- it was actually really close to where we were staying. When we arrived at about 5:30, no one was there yet. I decided that this was a good time to buy a few more clothes for Nagi. We went to a local toy shop called Toy Kingdom, where I picked up three more dresses for her. While I was paying at the counter, one of the people that were to meet, Jakeson, arrived. He worked at Call Center here and as I learned, was also into SEO and other virtual assistant stuff -- pretty much, what I do. Also, he'd become much, much more muscular since I last saw him. Oh, and he does Acrylic paintings too. He showed me a few pics of some paintings that he did on T-Shirts and canvas shoes. He's got some pretty competent skills.

We walked around a bit more and into the department store where my mother managed to buy some piece of makeup or something as a "pasalubong" for someone back in Iloilo City. A little while later, the youngest individual we were to meet, Pietros,  To my surprise, he seemed like a rather reserved young man -- even moreso than I am IRL. (Yeah, yeah... I know it's hard to picture me as an introvert based on how I write, but you'll have to take my word for it that I really am.)

The last person who would be joining the group said texted us that he was still somewhere in Ortigas -- which was still a bit far away considering the traffic situation since it was the weekend. We decided to find a place to have dinner at this point. The group chose some kind of Asian-Filipino restaurant. We ordered in advance for the group. Greg, the last person to join us, finally arrived at about 7:00 PM, just about time for our food to be served. I was quite surprised at how fit and slim he'd become since we last met as well.

It was really nice sitting down and just chatting with this group. We learned a lot about each other and what everyone else has been doing the past few years. We also learned that everyone shared a mutual dislike for our current president -- because honestly, no matter what kind of progress our compatriots may perceive is happening, that doesn't justify the rampant murders being left unresolved in our country. We also talked about all kinds of things such as our views on literature, art, career paths and our personal philosophies. This is the kind of group that I like to be with, personally -- people who want to make more than just small talk and really dig deep into different issues. I also managed to complete another Nagi drawing on the paper placemat.
Now if I could only remember the name of this place...

It was about 9:30 by the time we left the place. Greg, an attorney who was currently working for a local advertising agency, offered to picked up the bill. We couldn't really disagree.

After this, we took a taxi to a 24-hour Tim Horton's that was actually just a few blocks away -- of course, given how massive the buildings are in this area, a few blocks away probably translates to about 4-6 kilometers.
If you don't know where I am in this pic... you really need to get a clue.

We ordered some vanilla, coffee and a few light snacks at Tim Horton's. There, the group continued discussing different topics that just flowed one after another -- including mutual acquaintances and our experiences with San Agustin. It was a lot of fun but at about 11:40, it was about time to call it a night for everyone. We booked a grab car and had planned to have the car drop us off at multiple locations so we could chat a bit more while in the car. Unfortunately, the car we booked had already scheduled multiple drop points with two other passengers with whom my mother and I shared the ride with. So with that, we parted ways with everyone.
I recently sent one of my paintings to Greg as thanks for his genuine hospitality during our trip

There was no more traffic at this time of the night during the drive back to the hotel. We arrived at exactly 12:00 AM. We started packing up our things a bit at this point, since we would be leaving tomorrow.

With that said, day 5 of our trip to Manila ends here. See you soon for the last day of our trip.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 4

We didn't hit the pool today since it was raining hard. Also, if we took any more wet laundry along, we might have to pay extra for baggage on our airfare. I think the hotel had a laundry service, but we never really bothered with those -- in hindsight, it would have been easier if we did. I checked the prices and they're quite reasonable, actually.

We still had a lot of extra provisions in the refrigerator and it was already Friday, so we had a light breakfast of some yogurt and empanada (a type of small meat bun with the bread fried around the edges to make it crisp). We'd actually brought the empanada along as a gift for some of the people we'd be meeting in Manila and my mother brought a ton of it along. It's a Filipino tradition called "Pasalubong," which would literally translate to "for encountering." Basically, the gift is something you bring with you for meeting someone -- and it's usually a delicacy or some kind of novelty item/souvenir that's unique to your particular place.

Anyway, we stayed in the hotel room for most of the morning and then left to try and find a place to eat lunch somewhere out in one of the three adjacent malls. We'd be meeting my aunt who lives all the way to the North (we were at the Southern point of Manila) later.

We went to Glorietta first and tried to find a slightly pricey restaurant called Heaven & Eggs that we really liked before. Google couldn't find the place in Glorietta and the next one was a good 6 km away. Unfortunately, upon asking the Concierge, it seems the branch in Glorietta closed down quite some time ago -- which is a trend that I'd noticed since day one. A lot of the shops in Glorietta had closed down. 

Anyway, we walked over to the computer hardware stores section of Glorietta because I needed a new power brick for one of our laptops left back home. I brought the power adapter along so they'd know what type of replacement power brick to give us. There actually was one, but my mother declined to buy it and told me that we should shop around a bit first since the shop was almost just next door to us. We could always come back to it later. Good point.

After that, we walked around Glorietta and Greenbelt a bit more looking for a place to eat lunch. Since we didn't really find any to our liking, we opted to just eat lunch at the Subway that was next to our hotel.

We went back to our hotel after lunch and then rested up for a good while. Our goal was to get to the MRT station which was attached to SM Ayala before 4:00 PM, which is when the rush hour starts. My mother figured that since we were in Manila anyway, we might as well try the MRT once. The last time we did, it was extremely hot with almost zero air conditioning and extremely overcrowded. Still, it was the fastest way to get to North Station and the two malls there, Trinoma and SM North Edsa.

Anyway, we left the hotel by 3 pm and walked our way to North Station. My mother being a senior citizen, procuring tickets was a breeze. After a 10-minute wait, the Northbound train arrived. It was slightly crowded already, but there was room for my mother to sit. Actually, she could have sat at the ladies-only car, but then we'd have to be separated and she has poor sense of direction and gets stressed pretty easily nowadays.

We arrived at Trinoma at about 4:30 PM. We wouldn't be meeting my Aunt until she got off work and made her way to SM North by about 6:00-6:30 PM. Thus, we killed some time by walking around Trinoma.

The Trinoma is a pretty large mall -- probably much bigger than anything we have at Iloilo City except for SM City. Anyway, it had that usual three-pronged structure that seemed to be a general attribute of Ayala-owned malls. Three wings with multiple floors jutting out to each side and meeting at the center in some kind of public area. It was fairly crowded when we got there, but thankfully, the mall has a lot of empty walking space for its patrons. We stopped by a Daiso store because I wanted to see if they still carried some of those 1/6 doll outfits that they used to sell. Elly Doll clothes. Unfortunately, they didn't. My mother bought a laundry bag though.

With that small errand done, we traversed the footbridge that took us straight to the 2nd floor of one of SM City North Edsa's wings, the North Link. This mall is actually the 2nd biggest mall in the Philippines second only to SM Megamall. Facts aside though, it can seem like SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall are so much bigger because of the way they are structured. SM North Edsa is a pretty old mall and there's not a lot of breathing/walking space since they filled it with shops everywhere. It has newer wings on its left and right sides with 4-5 floors each -- and these were planned out much better than the original mall.

So anyway, I found an art store called The Craft Central and managed to buy a few pieces of 4x6" watercolor paper. I saw that they were actually putting up some of the completed works on display and selling them for about 100 php each inside of the store. Looking at the pieces on display, I couldn't help but think, "wow, I can actually do better than most of these." Also, I thought, "why are they selling these original pieces so cheap?" I mean, these were full pieces done traditionally. Digital art at all levels usually sell for about $15-20 for a full-body pic with full coloring and shading -- and that's not even counting the background.

From the North Link, we walked past the "City Center" to the left wing, The Annex in order to see if they sold a power brick for my laptop there. I'm pretty familiar with this place because I used to live inside the UP University Hotel and it was just a good 4-6 kilometers away from SM North. You could take a Jeepney from there which goes straight to the mall and back. After a good bit of walking, we finally found a shop that sells the power brick. My mother, the master haggler, managed to bring the price down quite a bit. That's the thing with some of the shops here -- unless they put up a specific fixed retail price, you can actually haggle it down if it seems too expensive for you.

We stopped at one of the areas in the left wing that had some benches and texted my aunt to meet us there. It actually took us about 15-20 minutes to just walk from the North Link to The Annex. That gives you an idea of just how massive this mall is. At this point, I decided to break out my Bento Picasso watercolor set from yesterday and the 4x6" watercolor paper that I'd bought recently. I worked on a new piece featuring Nagi with her hair down and wearing a hat. After about 30 minutes, my aunt arrived. It was about 7:00 and just about right to have dinner.

After walking around for a while, we settled down inside a cafe & grill called "Blake's Wings and Steaks" that was right next to the movie theaters at the center of the mall. Dinner was pretty nice. I had some ribs with mashed potatoes and we ordered a large salad for sharing. I also managed to complete the Nagi painting while waiting for our food.
The acrylic stand I brought for her broke a bit... good thing I could still repurpose it to support her leg.

My aunt mentioned that the girl next to me (our table was at a long bench that accommodated other customers) was looking at what I was doing. Of course, I didn't mind stuff like that. It's pretty normal when you do a lot of plen-air painting for people to look.

What surprised me though is that when she left, she took the time to tell me "alam mo, ang ganda ng ginagawa mo." (You know what? What you're doing is really beautiful." I smiled and thanked her for the compliment. Really, this kind of spontaneous, sincere compliment is just the best kind of reward for us artists -- whether it's visual art or writing.

My mother also noted that the girl was pretty. Hmm... hadn't noticed that one. Anyway, she was obviously taken since she was dining with her boyfriend and I'm obviously not interested because I have NAGI! :).

Anyway, we had a really filling and fulfilling dinner -- and yes, for me, it was thanks to that one single compliment. It really made my day. After walking around the mall randomly while talking a little bit more, it was time to go home and part with my aunt. I had her choose one of my larger 8x10" paintings as parting gift. I was expecting her to choose one of my more mundane paintings like the landscapes or that hand holding a crab thing, but she actually chose the Nagi painting with her hair down and wearing a pink jacket -- I guess Nagi has a universal appeal, huh? Of course, I'm always reluctant to part with any of my Nagi paintings -- and this one was particularly special because I really liked the way she looked here. Still, if it was what my aunt sincerely wanted, I was more than happy to part with it. I knew she'd take good care of it.

Nagi's hair is one of her best assets~

We took a grab car back to the hotel this time. It'd be a lot longer than the MRT ride, but it's also much more comfortable.

 We arrived at the hotel at about 8:30 PM. Since it was the weekend, the malls would be closing by 10:00 PM, so after dropping our stuff of inside our room, we decided to do a little bit more window shopping around Greenbelt. They seriously had some high end stores here -- especially the watch and clothing stores. I'd actually heard from some relatives abroad that the brand name stores in this area sold some items much cheaper than for what you could get the same items for in the US. Not sure how accurate that information is however.

After a brief walk, it was back to the hotel to get some sleep. We'd be meeting some of my mother's former classmates tomorrow. It seems a whole lot of them went to Manila to live and work. 

With that said, this entry for our fourth day in Manila ends here. See you next time for Day five~

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Tokyo Finds Bento Picasso Watercolor Set Review + Painting Maho Hiyajo

This review was delayed quite a bit due to me reformatting my SD card and accidentally deleting all my previous footage. Apologies for the shaky cam. I really need to find a stable place to mount my phone.

Summary of the review: Good pigmentation, slightly chalky, no lightfast rating so it's probably student-grade, no water brush -- but over-all, pretty easy to use, very portable and the colors look nice.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hayate Reflections: Rape Prevention Tips From Nagi Sanzenin

Today, let us talk about a topic of monumental importance for all women – and men as well, to some extent, I suppose.
And of course, that topic would be: how to avoid rape. Naturally, we’ll be using Nagi Sanzenin – specifically, 16 year-old Nagi from the end of the series as an example. Anyway, let’s keep it short and sweet today and get right on it.

The Scenario

Just in case you didn’t realize it yet, this will be a spoiler for the final chapter, but if you’re watching this video then you probably don’t even need this warning in the first place – thus, we continue.

So the scenario here is that it’s Christmas Eve and Nagi is by herself in Loser Park thinking about who else? Hayate, of course. She’s reflecting on her personal growth and how far she’s come without him in the past two years.

Suddenly, two men with obviously ill intentions approach her. Now it might be a bit of stretch to say that these two goofballs were thinking of raping her, but they were definitely up to no good.

Anyway, one of them tries to grab her by the arm and then…
This happens.

There, attempted rape averted – or at least she preempted whatever it was they were planning to do. These two turned out to be a bunch of cowards after all, but in any case, despite wearing a short skirt and being in a rather isolated place at night, she managed to fend off some would-be attackers. So just how did she do it?

Having A Weapon

Well, first of all, she had a weapon handy – which would be her Lacrosse Stick inside its case. Just to give you an idea, according to Wikipedia, modern Lacrosse sticks have shafts made of hollow metal such as titanium, scandium, aluminum, or alloys. Now some of these metals are known to be notoriously soft, but given the shape of the stick, it’s still potent enough to be wielded as a makeshift weapon – especially someone unarmed. Anyway, the point here is that she had something right by her side that she could use as a weapon.


The second point here would be assertion. Nagi took the initiative once she observed that things were getting out of hand. She immediately took action as soon as one of the men who had approached her invaded her personal space and got too close. She did two things: First of all, she shouted in a loud, assertive voice and commanded them not to touch her. Secondly, she immediately took hold of her weapon and aimed it at her would-be attacker’s neck with every intention to use it – as you can see in this panel… also, beautiful, isn’t she?

But What If The Men Were More Aggressive?

Yes, indeed. What if the men had been more aggressive? Would Nagi’s weapon and her own skill with it have been sufficient enough to ensure that she isn’t put at a disadvantage had the men continued to advance on her? Who knows? It’s a pretty hypothetical scenario – but in any case, Nagi had one more ace up her sleeve.

Situational Awareness

She chose a relatively well-lighted and public place to sit by even though Loser Park was mostly abandoned. Therefore, she placed herself in a position wherein she could easily draw attention to herself and the would-be attackers just in case she couldn’t handle things. Also, she was aware of one key element in this situation…

That’s right, she was aware that there was some blue-haired guy who was in love with her and who was ready to leap out of the bushes to her rescue at any time just in case she couldn’t handle it…

And that my friends, is how to avoid rape – as demonstrated by Nagi Sanzenin.
This has been Hayate Reflections and this is lordcloudx out. See you next week!

Fanart Corner

Been trying to familiarize myself with my White Nights watercolor set recently. I'm just about used to how pigmented the paint is with even just a slight dab. This is my first time drawing Nagi in her summer uniform. She looks cute as always, of course.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 3

The third day of the trip was pretty much a free day as well. We weren't scheduled to meet anyone until later in the week. Anyway, we had a lot of food in the mini-refrigerator (that I forgot to mention the hotel had). Therefore, we had breakfast just inside the room. After that, we got ready to go swimming again.

The weather was a bit cloudy this time. Also, there were no other people in the pool -- but that was fine. It's a really small swimming pool anyway. Naturally, this was a chance to take a pic of Nagi in another one of her swimsuits as well.
Nagi is cute and sexy as usual today

We spent just about an hour in the pool and then went back to the hotel room to get changed and hit another one of the nearby shopping malls. By the way, I got my shirt wet when I jumped into the pool and forgot to take it off, so I had to get inside the elevator with just a towel around me. An older guy who got inside the elevator looked pretty surprised to see me like that. Anyway, he was pretty polite about it and asked me how the water was. I told him it was pretty good, but the chlorine was kinda strong.

With that episode aside, this time, we were going to the Power Plant mall, which was actually just a few blocks away. Still, because of the big buildings and the confusing layout of the streets in Makati, it was better to use a Grab Car again to get there. This would be the first time my mother saw this place. It was her idea to visit it.

The Power Plant was pretty much the same as ever since I'd last been there about 5-6 years ago. It's pretty much a one-strip mall with its own movie theater and indoor parking -- pretty much a necessity since it was located right in the middle of the city. The basement area is where most of the restuarants are located. The ground floor has some miscellaneous shops along with a supermarket. The second floor is where the clothing, bag, and shoe stores are, and the third floor has novelty shops, art shops, computer hardware stores, toy stores, and the movie theaters.

My mother bought some clothes and a bag on sale at Topshop and bought me a new pair of shoes at Topman as well. Meanwhile, I bought a few barbie clothes for Nagi at a Toys R' Us. Yup, Toys R' Us is still alive here in the Philippines -- for now.

After that, we decided to go to another mall -- SM Aura. It was also just a short ride away. I did make a blunder, though. I just went with the GPS suggestion for our location when I booked the Grab Car and it turns out the location was on the opposite side of the mall. Fortunately, our driver figured it out and drove over to our location instead. I apologized for the mistake and he was pretty cool about it. 

SM Aura is also a bit of a one-strip mall, but a bit larger than the Power Plant -- or at least it seems that way. We entered the building via the Elevator areas, which took us straight to the top floor of the mall. We had to navigate our way past the chapel and inside the actual mall area -- which was pretty simple. Thankfully, there are signs everywhere in Manila and people don't blindly assume that you know your way around -- quite a contrast from Iloilo City. While I'm at it, I might as well tell you. Probably, because Iloilo City is such a small place, people here expect you to know what you are supposed to do without any instructions no matter where you go -- enrollment at a school, bank, government services. There are no visible signs because people always assume that everyone else is familiar with how things work in Iloilo City -- and if you don't, it's your fault. We're pretty insular that way.

Anyway, back to SM Aura, we made our way to the food hall and yeah, we were pretty much familiar with this place as well. We had some lunch there and a dessert of crepes. After which, we planned to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp. The movie theatre was just right next to the food hall, which was pretty convenient. Also, I was surprised to see that you could choose your own seats when buying tickets. In Iloilo, there's no seat selector option because the Movie Theatres are huge -- about the size of a medium-sized auditorium, probably able to host at least 100-150 people at once. In contrast, the cinema inside of SM Aura had a seating capacity of about 60 -- which was actually a nice experience since everyone could get a good viewing angle on the movie. I chose our seats to be close to the far side from the single entrance/exit because I expected people to swarm in at the center -- I was right. In any case, the viewing angle was still pretty good since the projection screen was curved like those newer TVs.

The movie itself was pretty nice. It was action-packed and thus, never boring all throughout and it even had a tie-in to Avengers Infinity War.

It was about 4:30-5:00 PM by the time the movie was over. We saw that there was a National Bookstore branch in the mall so we checked it out for those Liquitex paints, but they didn't have any. We went over to an adjacent mall just across the road from SM Aura after that -- Market! Market! I liked to visit the department store inside of this place every time I'm in Manila -- we didn't do that this time, though. My mother doesn't think much of the place -- especially the crowd. Market! Market! Has a circular, three pronged structure with a fountain in the middle and three wings that jut out on each of its sides -- or at least I think there are three wings -- might be more.  Anyway, this structure seems to be common for Ayala malls -- which Market! Market! is. We checked out the National Bookstore branch there and struck out on the Liquitex paints -- again. Of course, at this point, we'd checked just about everywhere and were ready to give up on those paints.

Having nothing more to do in Market! Market! we walked over to Serendra Plaza, a commercial complex which sort of works like an outside mall -- and which was also just across Market! Market!

There, we saw a place called "Art Bar," an art specialty store. Finally, they had those elusive Liquitex Heavy Body paints.

After that, we walked over to the big Fully-Booked branch in one of the buildings in Serendra. There, I finally found the Bento Picasso watercolor set. Basically, it's a student grade watercolor set by Tokyo Finds that comes recommended by this channel:

I've been using it for a little while and it seems about on par in terms of quality and ease of use to the Sakura Koi field sketch set. It's a little bit cheaper too -- so it's a good alternative. I think the quality of the paints is somewhere in-between Sakura Koi and Prang. I'm doing a review of it in a bit -- once I set up my cellphone to record me painting (I deleted my previous footage by accident via memory card reformat). Look forward to the review!

So after Fully-Booked, we booked a Grab Car to get back to our Hotel. It was about a 30 minute ride due to traffic, but we still arrived at about 7:30 PM. We had dinner at the Glorietta food court again. With dinner done, we walked over to SM Ayala's supermarket to buy some cultured milk and some fruits for my mother and then it was back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, we'd be meeting my aunt, but I'd basically bought everything I wanted to buy in Manila at this point: Some new clothes for Nagi, White Nights Watercolor Set, Tokyo Finds Bento Picasso Watercolor Set (bought by my mother for me).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 2

I think I woke up at about 7:00 AM. One thing that I like to do when I'm in a hotel is to just leave the TV on all night at low volume for background noise. I dunno, it just helps me to sleep better, like the sound of falling rain. Speaking of which, there's actually a rainfall sounds app that I use on my phone.
The hotel left a small memo pad with a pencil in our room, so...

Anyway, I stayed in bed for a bit longer until my mother decided that she wanted to get into a little Zumba session. There was actually enough space inside the room, so I set up the laptop to stream a Zumba session from youtube and hooked it up to the room's TV via HDMI port.

After that, it was time for breakfast. We went downstairs to see which restaurants were open. Luckily, there was one called "The Pancake House" just across the street. There were actually two branches of this restaurant back in Iloilo, but they closed down for some reason. I think it's because their prices aren't exactly very competitive. Ilonggos prefer cheap, quality food over food that's been expensively priced to make them seem premium -- anyway, that's just an opinion. Could have been mismanagement or something else entirely.

In any case, we always liked their food, so breakfast was pretty good. I had waffles with some bacon and eggs and I think my mother had the same. After that, we went back to our hotel room and got ready to hit the pool. We called in the front desk via a public area phone at the roof deck where the pool was located. After a short wait, the guard with the keys to the pool area arrived. There weren't many rules, but there was no lifeguard either. There were two people already in the pool. I got in first to test the height of the water since my mother couldn't swim and I could barely swim as well. It went up to about my chin area, so I figured it was probably about 5" ft. I'm 5'7" (around 170-ish CM), so I informed my mother of this so she could just cling to the sides of the pool. 

At that moment, a rather big kid about 8-9 years old decided to jump into the pool -- I guess he wasn't prepared for how cold the water was because he started crying for help soon afterwards. He was right in the middle of the water. Good thing the pool was pretty small. One of the people in the pool, a guy about 20-30-ish, started swimming towards him right away. I waded over to the kid as well. The guy managed to reach him before his head went under and I arrived just half a second later and latched onto one of his arms. We assisted him in getting to the side of the pool.

His mother, who had been panicking at the side of the pool thanked us. It seems the kid could actually swim but his mother couldn't. It was probably as a I suspected, the pool water was a bit cold and took him by surprise. This reminded me of my 9 year-old niece who is a much, much better swimmer than me. I don't think I could imagine her ever being in that situation, drowning and gasping for air unless she had cramps or something.
The video is vertical coz my mother took it, obviously.

Anyway, we spent about 2-3 hours in the pool give or take. I took the opportunity to try out a few swimming techniques. For the life of me, I'll never learn how to breathe using the freestyle stroke -- or any other stroke that requires you to pull your head out of the water to take in air. I just can't time it right -- hmm... maybe if I had more time and privacy to experiment, I might just get it. Meanwhile, I can do this... which I also learned from watching my niece. She does this sometimes. Starts with a freestyle stroke and then rolls over on her back completely to do a backstroke or just rest. Eh, in any case, I doubt I'll drown in deep water as long as I know how to relax and float... I guess that's good enough for now.
Hmm.. maybe I should have taken those bangles off. She looks great either way~

Also, this was a good time to try out the school swimsuit (すく水) that I made for Nagi. It suits you, Nagi!

So after drying off, it was back to our hotel room to change and then we made our way to the Greenbelt Mall for lunch. Good thing we spent such a long time in the pool. Greenbelt doesn't open until 11 AM. After walking around for a bit and not finding any restaurant to our liking (there are tons of them lined up all over the Greenbelt Mall), we settled for a simple meal at Wendy's.

After that, it was back to the hotel to freshen up a bit and rest. Swimming around in the pool all day was a bit tiring. By 3:30 PM, we were well-rested, so we decided to visit Megamall for today since there was no itinerary anyway. Megamall is currently the biggest mall in the Philippines, by the way.

We booked a GRAB car again to take us there. By the way, we used to use UBER, but complications happened and UBER was shut down by the government for some kinda legality or whatever.

Funny thing I noticed is that our taxi driver had mounted an ABS-CBN TV Plus digital TV receiver to the heads-up display unit of his car, so he was actually watching TV while driving... hehe -- can't say I blame him. I mean, we do the same in our car -- except I use pre-recorded videos from a USB stick.

So we arrived at SM Megamall by about 4:00 PM. It was the same as ever except I noticed that some new shops had opened and quite a few had closed down ever since we were last here just a year ago. I guess this is a sign of our bustling economy! CHANGE IS COMING and all that~

Heh... sarcasm aside, we went hunting for those coveted Liquitex paints again. I asked Google and it seems there was a Deovir art supply store at the top floor of one of the buildings. We located it easily enough and asked about the Liquitex heavy body acrylic paints that my mother's co-teacher/friend wanted. Unfortunately, they didn't carry that particular brand of paint. My mother set off to leave at once, but I asked her to wait. I asked them what kind of artist grade watercolors they had and they presented me with a White Nights set... exactly what I'd been looking for. Actually, I already checked their website way before coming here, so I knew they had this particular set :D.

So yeah, bought it for 1018 PHP (12 palette field sketch version) and I was pretty happy~

After leaving the store, we decided to check out the National Bookstore branch in Megamall if they had any of those elusive Liquitex acrylics. It took us some time to find the store because it was hidden in one of the alleys in the mall and the directions from the digital map made no sense whatsoever.

Also, they didn't have any more of the particular colors that my mother's friend wanted.

So we didn't have any more itineraries after that and just leisurely walked around inside the mall. My mother bought a pair of shoes from a Payless Shoe Source store at some point.

By 5:30, we decided to go to SM Mall of Asia (abbreviated locally as SM MOA. You pronounce the letters S and M and then the MOA phonetically as "MOWA.") We went to the least populated entrance/exit point by the Fashion Hall of the mall and booked a GRAB car again. Yup, GRAB would be our main means of transportation from here. It's worth noting that we could actually have made it to this place a bit faster via MRT, but then we'd have to deal with the crowds and the asthmatic airconditioning system of the MRT box cars nowadays. I swear, the MRT was still a pretty decent experience despite rush hour back when I was living here.

Traffic was kinda heavy so it was already getting about 7:00 by the time we arrived. My mother suggested that we go to Ramen Nagi for dinner since a lot of people recommended it and it had the same name as my Nagi. Of course, this was an opportunity for another picture. I also scribbled Nagi onto the paper place mat while waiting~
Good use of some quality blank space~

One thing I found really annoying was that in order to accommodate a lot of customers at once, they had table sharing. Like, you had to share a table with two other people if there were only two of you. Yeah, yeah, I know it's part of authentic Japanese culture... but you know what? I don't really like Japanese culture in the first place.
Nagi inside of  Ramen Nagi
Anyway, to make matters worse, there was an annoying couple in the table adjacent to us separated by a thin divider. I say they were annoying because they kept staring at us, particularly at my mother and using hand signals and body language to surreptitiously communicate -- while still staring directly at us. I wasn't very comfortable with this and neither was my mother who was just about ready to explode.

It could have been any number of things such as the jewels my mother was wearing or perhaps it was the fact that we were using Hiligaynon to communicate -- still, I don't think it was the Hiligyanon. I did experience how people from Manila would often look down on people who spoke anything other than Tagalog as "probinsyanos or probinsayanas" (People from the provinces. We have gender-specific nouns.) long ago, but this was more than 2 decades ago back when Manila wasn't such a hub of different people from the Philippines. Nowdays, the stigma of "people who are probinsyanos are backwards" is no longer prevalent and most people from Manila don't really care what kind of language you speak as long as you can converse in Tagalog. So anyway, I'm betting it was just my mother's appearance with all of her jewels. Well, we were just touring the malls most of the time and using a car-sharing service to get around the high-end areas of Manila, so it was hardly dangerous.

Well, with that experience aside, it was time to go back home after dinner -- and also after swearing that we'd never set foot in that place again. The ramen bowl was super expensive for an average Filipino's standards at PHP 390 a bowl, and you had to deal with the annoying table-sharing for that "authentic Japanese culture" feel. Blech~ I know what Nagi would say: "Hayate, there are too many people here. Let's go home!"

It was still a bit early when we got back to the hotel at 8:30, so we took a short walk around Greenbelt Mall for some window shopping before walking back to our hotel.

That concludes day 2. See you next time for day 3 of our trip.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Manila Trip 2018 - Day 1

Unlike my previous trips this year, this one was purely a leisure trip. We were at Manila from July 3-8. My mother and I had booked this flight earlier in the year all the way back in February in order to take advantage of the low-prices on the ticket fare.

You know, it's worth noting that people in Manila speak Tagalog, while we Ilonggos speak a different language altogether called "Hiligaynon." There are some words shared in-between the two languages, but otherwise, they are actually completely different. Still, most Filipinos, know how to converse in Tagalog because the national language, "Filipino" is actually just glorified Tagalog and it's taught as a mandatory subject in school from Primary to Tertiary levels. Furthermore, Tagalog is used in national television including all local TV shows, soap operas, and Filipino movies. Anyway, many ilonggos, usually from generations before Millennials actually have a hard time actually speaking in Tagalog with a conversational accent. Of course, I'm an adaptable early Milennial, so this doesn't include me :D.

We decided to leave the car at home and just take a taxi to the airport. We had about two hours before the flight when we checked in at the airport. We had a light breakfast at a restaurant in the waiting area. My mother knew the attendant who checked us into our flight so she put us at the very front seats so it'd be nice and comfy.

The flight was pretty uneventful except for our seatmate who was snoring quite loudly -- or at least loud enough to annoy my mother.

After securing our luggage of three trolley type hard plastic cases, we used GRAB to book a ride to our hotel, Prince Plaza II Condotel in Makati. We were delighted to know that the hotel was really just a 2-3 minute walk away from the main Greenbelt Mall area. Of course, it was a bit annoying because we arrived at around 12:40 and front desk told us that check in would be at 2 PM. We left our luggage in their care and decide to go and grab lunch.

I lived in Manila for two whole months during the bar exams and while I can't say I'm very familiar with the roads since I took the MRT 90% of the time, I did know my way around the malls in Makati. Anyway, my mother wanted to eat at the Glorietta food court, so we walked all the way over there passing through an overpass lined with shops called "The Link" and a department store called "The Landmark," which links up directly to Glorietta.

Anyway, after a passable lunch at the food court, we took a short walk around Glorietta to find an ATM machine and then went straight back to our hotel to check into our room... which came with a few complications.
Not bad at all.
There were delays for some reason and front desk kept us in the lobby until 4 PM. At this point, my mother was visibly annoyed at this development. Fortunately, the room was pretty nice. It was clean parquet flooring with a throw rug, ample space, two beds, one dresser table, one dining table, a safe, a closet, 42" TV, strong wifi with a private router for our room, decently soundproofed walls, and surprisingly, it also had a cupboard and a kitchen counter with a sink and  a stove -- not that we ever planned to do any cooking while we were here. Also, I noticed that there was a Subway fastfood restaurant just next to the lobby of the hotel. 

There was also a pool which we planned to check out the next day. 

We were both a bit tired from the plane trip and all the delays so we slept a bit until 6 PM. 
I took Nagi with me, of course.
Later, we looked for some acrylic paints for a co-teacher of my mother's over at National Bookstore. There was one at Greenbelt mall, which is the high end mall, and another at Glorietta, which is the more mid-range, everybody's mall.

Unfortunately, after visiting booth shops, they only had one of the four types of paints he requested. I asked them what type of watercolor paints they had and the clerk showed me a Winsor&Newton pocket field sketch set. I was tempted to buy it, but checking online revealed that it was a student grade set. I already had plans to buy a Bento Picasso student grade set and a more expensive St. Petersburg White Nights set during the trip, so I declined.

After that, my mother wanted to shop for some provisions, so we went over to SM Ayala, which is connected directly to Glorietta. There was a mini food court next to the supermarket as well, so we had dinner there -- and it was surprisingly good.. After that, it was time to head back to the hotel and get rested up for tomorrow. The malls were already closed though, so we couldn't go through them anymore to get to our hotel. We had to walk around The Landmark building and then get our bearings from there. Fortunately, it was pretty easy to find our way back to the hotel because it was directly underneath the series of overpasses that connect the different Ayala, Makati area malls together.

It was still a bit early, so I had time to do a little bit of watercolor painting before bed. That concludes day 1. See ya next time for day 2.

This was a request from my mother. The silhouette is hers.