Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oh My I'm A Certified Tita!

During our annual New Year dinner, my highschool friends and I noted that we will be turning thirty-five (35) years old this year. One even boldly reminded us: "In five years we'll be in our 40s" and we all got very nervous. How did that happen? One minute we were all in gingham skirts and enjoyed lunches on the floor of our classrooms in St Paul, next minute we're counting years until we all turn forty. Oh my!

Do we look like we're ready to be 40s anytime soon?

A lot a has changed through the years. While I still enjoy the occasional drinking session with friends in bars, I would rather have a lovely dinner making endless chit-chat or enjoy coffee for a sober all-nighter. People change and mature, I guess, and just last week I had a perfect "Titas of Manila" afternoon. 

It's so funny. I was telling my friend I am headed to two parties after my patients, and right after I said it I realized that my parties were very "Titas of Manila", I had to laugh out loud. I went to work dressed for it too, I was in a very Stepford Wife blue printed dress and black peep-toes, and right after my patients I attended a baby shower and when that ended I went to a birthday party for a 7-year old boy. Oh what a fun afternoon!'

Lovely Baby Showers

Speaking of all things "tita", the baby shower I attended the other week was so pretty. I should have expected it too, my cousin's wife is super creative and she picked such a pretty place to hold the event, Vanilla Cupcake Bakery. 

I've only been to Vanilla Cupcake Bakery once and I stayed outside because I brought Beckham with me. The place on it's own is very colorful and dainty. It's very girly and chic, it is definitely a good venue for a baby shower. If you've been to any of their branches, you will know what I'm talking about. The place is so beautiful, you would want to have a photo shoot in their washroom (yes their washroom). I actually took a photo but it wasn't very good so I couldn't post it--but that gives you a better reason to check it out for yourself then. Haha!

For this ultimate "tita party" I got to enjoy good company, good food and a chance to be competitive. My cousin-in-law and her friends prepared several games and everyone was eager to win so it was a busy room. We played pin the pacifier on the baby, fill in the blanks (nursery rhymes), charades, baby bingo and unscramble the words. 

The games were so fun to play and the prizes were great. The last time I attended a party with a bunch of competitive guests was at a bridal shower--my friend's guests were her teammates in ultimate (disc) and they were up for the challenge. It's never fun to play games with people who are "too cool" to participate--and the baby shower had a roomful of girls who are eager enough to dominate, so it was a fun "tita" kind of day. 

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be having more tita afternoons in the next years. There will still be "youthful" hangouts and nightouts with friends, but I expect there will be more of this because (oh well) we are not getting any younger! 

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Who Are You Voting For in the 2016 Elections: The Drama of Making Decisions

Life is a choice. In life, we are expected to make a number of decisions and in a few months, we have to make a decision that is not just for ourselves but for the benefit a lot of people. The elections are coming and we have to put some thought to the names we will be putting on our list.

How's your list going?

Picture from here

With all honesty, I am still uncertain about my vote. I am sure about the names I will NOT consider, but I have not finalized my list of candidates yet. It is so much different during the previous Presidential Elections because I was very confident about my vote. I campaigned heavily for the Gordon and Bayani tandem, I was even having debates with patients while they were on my chair. Haha.

Now, however, is a different story altogether. I feel like I have been going back and forth with my choice--I couldn't finalize anything. It's like when I find a good one, I discover reasons to reconsider, and it's actually gotten really frustrating. It's making me nervous because if I am having a difficult time, I feel it is the same for many. It is not going to be easy when people are confused about their choice because you know that many will be settling--and that's very much what most people do already. Settling means making wrong choices and that compromises quality. Do you want to do that to your country?

Anyway, we still have a few months before it unfolds. Hopefully we get enough debates televised so we could hear more from the candidates. Years back, it was during a debate that I fell in love with Dick Gordon. I had a different candidate in mind, but the spotlight shone brightly on him that night, and I spent the next weeks (and months) learning more and more about him, his work and his platform. I was hopeful he would win and I was very disappointed when he didn't. It was painful--I cried.

Scrutinizing Menus

When I eat out, I love scrutinizing the menu like crazy. Like a book, I read it from cover-to-cover and even ask my companion(s) what page they are looking at when they mention a dish I cannot locate from the selection. When you go to a restaurant you frequent, you already know what to order, and so the job is easy. Still, you need to scour the menu to see if there are new additions or simply ask the waiter if they have something new to offer. When you dine, you come in and you expect to come out satisfied, so you make a careful choice. Otherwise you sit in front of the meal (for a few minutes to a few hours) that you would rather you didn't order at all.

To make sure that you have a superb dining experience, you want to order smart and you can only do that if you take time to go through your choices. You may take a suggestion, you may go wild and make a decision on a whim--or you can completely take responsibility and order based on proper research

Everyone ought to do the same when they vote this year. To sit down, study the candidates (their credentials, their platform and their past work) so they could come up with a formidable list of names. Let's scrutinize the menu so that the next SIX years will a good one. How about that?

Keeping the Faith

In my heart of hearts, I pray to gain some passion for the coming elections. And at the same time I pray that it will be the same for everyone who will participate. I love my country. In a very weird (almost stoical) way, I patiently dream it becomes a better place for everyone. I'm sure you also share my sentiment. Even those who are dying to leave the country, for better lives, would rather they didn't have to think of that option. The Philippines is my comfort zone... albeit not really living up to my expectation, but maybe there is something that we can collectively do about it. 

Do you have your voting list ready?

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Opa in Greeka Kousina

My family's favorite activity is "eating". Our second favorite is "watching movies". If we're able to do these two things together, we are the happiest. When we used to have staycations with Papa at we would make sure to bring movies with us to watch (once we had a Band of Brothers marathon in the hotel, it was amazing). We have a huge list of favorite movies that we can watch over and over again. Some of these movies, we know by heart, we can probably rewrite the entire screenplay (in great accuracy). Just kidding. 

A sure favorite is "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". We saw that movie hundreds of times, and we've already made plans to watch the sequel that's coming out this year. We love the movie because the humor is fairly straightforward. Nia Vardalos is naturally hilarious and since we are fans of "Sex in the City" John Corbett is an amazing addition to the cast. 

Anyway, speaking of Greek, we recently tried "Greeka Kousina" in Kapitolyo. We were supposed to try out a new Mexican restaurant for the first time, but mom wanted Greek so we all went, "Opa!"

This a personal favorite. I love spinach and this spinach pie is heavenly. It looks good and it tastes wonderful. I used to hate vegetables. I used to think eating veggies is such an awful chore and then I came to know greens and now I love anything that is green except for okra and ampalaya. Haha. 

Fig Arugula Salad 
This salad is very good, but maybe because I am a true salad lover. Unfortunately, they did not have arugula that day so they loaded our platter with greens instead. This means that I cannot give you a true review for this, but know that whatever they served us, it was great. 

This lamb dish is amazing it melts in your mouth. The flavor is divine and the meat is tender, but it would be nice if the serving was bigger. 

Porkchops. There isn't anything special with porkchops but the tenderness and flavor of the meat is very good. I think my mom enjoyed the porkchops more than the lamb, even though she insisted on getting the lamb. It is more tender and if you are particular about the distinct "lamb taste" this is a safer meat choice. 

I like this moussaka compared to the other Greek restaurant we always go to. It is not as oily but the serving is quite small. Nevertheless, equally enjoyable. What a fun meal we had!

Eggplant Dip 
I love dips. Whether in Italian or Greek restaurants, I love covering bread in a flavorful dip and this is very good. Recently I tried to duplicate a cheese dip and I'm not sure if I did a good job. I ought to make a second attempt, I think. But I'm pretty sure I can perfect it. 

Potato Wedges with Greek Lemon Sauce 
This is very simple but it is perfectly seasoned and cooked. A fitting side for our Greek feast. As I write this and go through all the food we tried, I realized we ordered so much that day. Haha. 

Inasmuch as we can, we try to take mom on date. Without Papa to dine with, argue with and hangout with, we try our best to take her out when she is in the mood to go out. We were all up for Mexican when we went out but mom was suddently feeling Greek, remembering Nia Vardalos, perhaps. It was a good choice. I like Greek food. It has a lot of meat and cheese. "What do you mean you don't eat no meat?" That's a famous line from the movie. Haha! No offense vegetarians and vegans, I respect your choice, I am just happy I''m carnivorous. 

That's my little sister Abi and that's my mom's elbow. Haha!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Time Machine

The most overused fictional plot is time travelling. From books to movies, several stories about travelling to the past and to the future dominate because the truth is that everyone wishes for a do over or to enjoy an opportunity to make timeline alterations that will improve their current situations. Like a magic slate, everyone wishes that mistakes made could be erased with one swift movement. Similarly, time travelling to the future will offer advantages that will enable a person to take a glimpse of "what might happen" so that he can make decisions that will help change outcomes.

Throughout my existence, I can pinpoint several dates that are worth altering. Extreme turning points that truly made a difference in my life. I think if I'm given a chance to make specific changes, my life as it is now, will be better. Better how, though? The truth is that we wont know if making changes will mean a better ending or outcome. Maybe the alteration will only postpone things, but the outcome will be the same. Maybe there is no escaping your reality... the blueprint of your life is set on stone and is unchangeable.

Do you want to try a Marty McFly Time Machine?

Building a Time Machine

Someone once told me that if he could, he would build me a time machine. He would build it and go to a specific date on my timeline so that he could make specific alterations. I remember that today and realize that it sounds nice to be able to do that, right? Like in "Back to the Future", when Marty McFly was able to better his family's life by going back to the past and making significant changes to specific circumstances. He comes home at the end of the movie and they were richer and his parents were much happier. But then I also remember my answer to another friend, when the subject of past events was being discussed: "I may not be who I am today if not for my past". And I strongly believe that. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, they were right about that. 

You can liken it to learning to ride a bicycle. I remember spending an entire afternoon with my Papa, struggling at first, and then finally doing it with ease. He took the trainer wheels out and when I finally got the rhythm it was amazing, but during one victorious lap my hands trembled and I crashed. I fell, grazed my knee, and nursed battle scars for a long time. I never fell on my bike after that. I eventually learned how to ride standing up, ride with no hands and even ride while tying my shoelaces (I became some stunt woman with tricks). Anyway, the moral of my story is that when you hurt yourself and you get scarred, you learn from your mistakes. 

I have made multiple errors in my life. I've made a series of wrongs that it is quite tempting to get on a time machine so I could make things right, but I would not do it. I say this because the Crickette of 5-10 years ago is of no comparison to the 2016 version of myself and that is all because of my past. I do not want a do over because it means skipping all the learning experience (and I'm talking about a lot). The pain is hard when you're living the consequence of your wrong decisions, and that often causes people to long for an escape. At some point I felt that urge too, but like all wounds, they heal and you forget about the pain. After a while you realize that it's gone... and then you appreciate your past as a spectator. 

Time travelling sounds amazing. Many of the films I truly enjoyed involved travelling to the past and the future. Films make it really fascinating, but do you remember HEROES? Minus the writer's strike, the whole story was ruined when the whole plot was lost with all the time lapses. I think it will be the same when you try to tamper with your timeline.

I found that on Facebook while I was taking a break from writing this. We all have to learn to let go. We all have to make peace with our past so we can move on and live our lives... without regret. 

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Friday, January 8, 2016

On Dining Alone

I used to hate dining alone. I used to NEVER do it. Before, when I'm on a date or dining with a friend and he/she asks to be excused to go to the washroom (etc), I stop eating. Once on my own, I just sit there until my dining companion returns to the table. I sit... daydream... fiddle with my phone... people-watch... but you won't see me touching my plate. I'm so weird, I know, but I really can't eat alone. So when I started working at Healthway in SM North, I didn't know what to do for lunch. For a while I would only eat sandwiches I packed from home so that lunch would be quick, but I eventually graduated from the hurried lunches...

Anyway, I love dining alone now and I already get it when my friend used to say: "Oh it's my favorite ME time". I used to care so much about how I'd look while devouring an entire plate or bowl, by myself, so I used to just get takeout and enjoy solo meals in the car while I drive. I used to imagine I'd look so funny giving a massive burger a carefree bite while in my lonesome, but that's a non-concern now. I discovered that there is a different kind of peace that you experience when you dine alone. More than just experiencing the food in its totality, without the interruption of unnecessary chit-chat, dining alone may be likened to a day at the spa or a salon. It is the version of "me time" that non-kikays can enjoy.

I say non-kikay and you probably have your eyebrows raised. Haha! I may sound like a hypocrite but if you really know me, you'll know that I am not the frequent spa and salon type of girl. I may look kikay (many are fooled) but I really do not indulge in those activities as often as most girls do. I get a haircut probably twice a year, get colored annually, and demand a massage when my body is already screaming for one. Pamper days aren't my typical ME time. I do DIY pedicures more often than I have one done at a nail spa, mostly because I feel it's a waste of money when I can do it myself (albeit in lower quality, of course). Anyway, for my perfect ME time, you just have to give me a book to read, a page to color or let me play Clash of Clans--and I will be alright. 

An addition I proudly declare, is dining alone. I have come to love it because...
  • I don't have to share my food. Just kidding! I happily share my food when I am dining with other people, I was just really joking about that. Dining alone is nice because you do not have to think about your companion. You can satisfy your own craving, without having to consider another's and you can splurge or scrimp, without thinking twice. When you dine on your own, you think only of yourself and, yes, you get to enjoy all the food. No one has to battle for the last piece of chicken because the entire plate is yours to tackle. When I'm sad and I need cheering up, I usually dine in a good restaurant and order my heart's (or tummy's) desire. I take my time, too. Sometimes after a long day at work, I get into a restaurant and I invigorate myself with a plateful of goodness. I come out of the restaurant, recharged and renewed, definitely happier.
  • I can catch up on my reading. I don't really have a lot of time to read because it requires a lot of attention and there are other stuff I can do, so I assign reading time on my drive to and from work (via voiceover) and while I'm dining. Once I'm settled on the table with my meal, I take my iPad out, and I read. Time lapses quickly when I'm reading and I am able to overcome useless thoughts about "dining alone" because I'm too busy inhabiting a fictional literary world. 
  • I can Clash of Clans in peace. Not that I cannot play anywhere else, because I play COC everywhere. I've played in Boracay. I've played in bars. I say "in peace" because people laugh at my geekiness when I take out my gadget(s) and say "I have to fight in our war". They do not understand how serious a commitment it is that we consume both attacks in war, so during a busy day, I devote my lunch hour to be able to plan and attack in peace. I need "peace" because I need to score and I cannot do that if someone is hovering behind me and being judgmental. Haha!
  • I can make plans and organize my thoughts. I also do a lot of planning and thought-organizing when I'm driving, but I try to avoid that because it leads to auto-pilot driving that is very dangerous, so I do my planning while I'm dining alone. I also do a lot of planning while I take a shower actually (I remember composing my maid-of-honor speech to my good friend while in the shower), but I like making plans while dining because you can sit down, take a pad out and do some serious writing and outlining. I write to-do-lists while I eat and I enjoy it, so much. 

It's My Perfect ME Time 

The perfect ME time is subjective. Your perfect version may not suit mine but dining alone is my perfection because apart from what I've mentioned earlier (that it is my alternate to a salon and spa day), I am able to combine a few of my favorite things with dining alone: reading, playing COC and being a control freak. 

Anyway, what is your perfect "ME" time activity? 

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Letting Go of the Past Year

In 1999 we were all scared the world was going to end. The Millennium Bug, they called it, a worldwide shutdown that was supposedly catastrophic.  In 2012, we all wondered if the movie was going to be a sound prophesy, but it was a load of bollocks. Today is the first day of the new year and we're all still here.

Happy 2016 Everyone!

In the middle of the year that just passed, I gained a deeper grasp of the meaning of brand new mornings. When my Papa was getting ill and I knew his life was as fragile as glass, I thanked the Lord for every morning that I wake up and he is still with us. I remember asking the Lord for 5 more years, 10 more, and even bargained for even just this Christmas. Mornings come as a blessing (especially when it matters the most) and when you are given the opportunity to wake up to a brand new year, there is so much that you have to be grateful for. 

Goodbye 2015

2015 wasn't a good year for me... and the rest of my family. But amidst all the heartache and pain, there is always the growing hope for better days. Apart from the presence and kindness of friends and family (that I will never discount), I am most grateful for the stronghold that the Lord provides. 

Last Christmas we did not really cook. We're usually very busy in the kitchen days prior Christmas Eve, mostly because Papa checks on the menu and he approves it (according to his appetite), but he wasn't around to do that. The morning of the 24th of December I came to my mom and asked her what's on tonight's menu and she said: "None". The day went on and there was still no pressure to prepare anything (Papa would've been mad if at 5pm nothing is being cooked yet), but we decided to just buy food--and got ribs and salad from Racks. But last night was different. New Year's Eve was always spent with mom's family in Alabang and it was always a big production (with themes and costumes). Unlike Christmas we cooked for New Year's Eve, but we decided to stay at home and break a yearly tradition of spending it with family. Baby steps--we will get there, eventually, I think.

2015 was not easy for everyone but I will assure you we are fine. Tears still come and go, and sadness often creeps painfully (always when it's least expected), but I am grateful for ALL THE REASONS I still smile.

Mornings are great because it signifies something new. I am letting go of the past year because I have to surrender it to the Lord (along with the pain) and I am opening my arms wide to welcome the new year. I am excited, are you? I have never been so giddy about a brand new year, but I am today. I just feel it will be amazing... and I cannot wait to wake up every day and live it. 

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, 
whose trust is in the Lord" 
(Jeremiah 17:7)

Thank you Lord, for new mornings... 

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

"The Flowers" with My Cousins: Nun Quam Iterum

In 1989, when my family was still living in Camp Aguinaldo, there was a coup d'etat that forced us out of our homes. We woke up one morning, guns started firing and we waited until it was safe before we escaped. When it ended, we went back home and the camp was in chaos. At the entrance of Gate 1, a huge tank was left there. It was later refurbished and then placed at the entrance and on it they wrote the latin saying: "Nunquam iterum" (never again), to remind everyone that something like that should not happen again. 

For our annual Christmas dinner, my cousins and I booked a table at Las Flores, a modern Spanish restaurant. I had to run errands before going to the place, which included a stopover at my friends house to see my goddaughter, and it's quite funny because when they were asking me to stay over for dinner and I said I really shouldn't because I had dinner plans at Las Flores, they almost wanted to stop me. It got me really curious, because according to them they did not enjoy it there and friends who've also tried it were vocal enough to say: "That is the last time I am dining there!"

Anyway, I got to Las Flores and the place was lovely. There was no parking accessible to customers but there is an automatic valet that only charges for parking. I was late so I didn't get to sample the tapas they ordered, but my cousins enjoyed everything they had so I was really jealous. I just told myself: more room for the main course which was two orders of Paella and their US Prime Rib Eye. 

My cousins ordered two paellas and they arrived on time (and was served with a bottle of wine). We were advised the paella will take 30 minutes and the steak about 20 minutes, so we were looking for the rib eye. I think we followed it up with 3 different people. We were about to finish the paellas and the entire bottle of wine had been poured out, so I decided to order two sides (croquettes and patatas bravas) to accompany the steak when it arrives--and it finally did, after waiting for an hour. 

The infamous rib eye

Well, the rib eye was good. The garlic cloves--I loved; and the goat cheese croquettes and the patatas bravas went well with it. We finished the plate, ordered the dessert platter, and asked for the bill right away (because we were worried we had to wait an hour for it too). Still in a cheery and celebratory mood, we devoured the lovely dessert platter (churros, cheesecake, chocolate ganache) and decided to distribute Christmas gifts. 

Last year, one cousin gave out bleeves and it became 2014's signature gift. This year, we all got kiss socks: character socks that are so cute. I guess our "chilling in the cold" ensemble is now complete with the arrival of the socks (I got Jasmine, which I believe is perfect cus I think I look like an Indian princess---yes princess tlaga, di manlang ordinary Indian character, haha!). 

Anyway, after cheering ourselves up with the dessert and gift-giving, we decided it was time for us to deal with the issue of the RIB EYE that came out too late. Our bill was being prepared so it was the right time. Also, when I posted about the misfortune on Instagram, my friend said: "Dapat it's free na!" (Should already be free!) and she was right, it ought to be. 

We called the waitress, who passed us to the host and we delivered our concern. We said: "We were told the paella took 30 minutes and the steak should take about 20. The paella arrived on time, but we waited an hour for the steak. What happened with that and is there anything you can do about this?" Almost immediately, the host went in defensive mode. Her first excuse: "You did not order the steak from me. I recommended it, but you did not order it." to which we replied: "Yeah we didn't because we weren't ready to order then, but we ordered everything from the waitress. The paella arrived but the steak didn't". After this she excused herself and came back a few minutes later showing an order ticket. Apparently, the order was never sent to the kitchen when we ordered it with the paella. And during the three occasions that we followed it up, they decided to send out the order, without informing us of what happened. 

Honestly, if we were told it was never ordered, we would have cancelled it. Miscommunication like this one is very common. But Las Flores is an expensive restaurant and the Prime Rib Eye was worth 3000Php so you expect better service to come along with the price, I guess. We would have appreciated some humility from the host, but she did not apologize, and eventually said: "Okay, let me just give something on the house from your bill"-- and she returned with a new receipt, minus a dessert platter worth 600Php. 

Still smiling because the #cousinsofblanco are just naturally happy people and we love to eat

As I write this, I am recalling the conversation I had with my friends before I headed to the restaurant. Our experience wasn't 100% bad. We enjoyed the food (especially the dessert), but that night's service was not good at all. Let's blame it to the holiday rush, but I think they could've handled our complaint differently. Anyway that's over and done with... we know one thing though: "nunquam iterum".

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Friday, December 18, 2015

I Abhor Manila Traffic

As I write this I am currently enjoying a cup of tea, at home, while I play Clash of Clans. I fantasized about this two days ago, but today I finally decided that I was taking the day off from work. For three weeks now I have been going around Metro Manila, attending all kinds of Christmas parties with friends. It was fine, until all the activities began to weigh heavily on my body (especially since I was also working nonstop and trying to makeup for the coming break). By the end of last week it was clear that I was exhausted.  

Anyway, physical tiredness is something I am very much used to. The "labor" I do at work leave me with headaches, backaches and neckaches, so this is familiar territory. This week, what with the 24th just around the corner and the untimely visit of a typhoon, Christmas traffic just got from bad to worst. And I am not saying this is NEW because this is something I'm used to, but I've always been lucky enough to avoid crazy traffic, until the other day. 

Wednesday traffic going out of SM North parking. I saw this and tuned back. 

On my way to a dinner with some friends last Tuesday, I got stuck on a street for an hour and a half. My total drive was about 4 hours. After driving 3 hours, I stopped and decided to eat first, then continued to drive to see my friends who have been waiting for a while. It was still worth it. When I got there we had some laughs and we traded "war" stories. Going home from that dinner was another story. My two sisters got stranded and I had to rescue them, so I got home 2 hours after leaving my friends. It was awful. 

The following day, Wednesday, I had another dinner scheduled with my friend and my goddaughter at their house. On my way out of SM (Healthway) I saw that the traffic going out of the parking building was horrendous, so I turned back and cancelled dinner. 

I decided to just have dinner by myself, instead. I got so frightened of the traffic I endured the day before I did not want to get stuck again. I went around the mall, had a bowl of ramen and then I had coffee and mochi cream. 

My dinner and coffee companion was John Grisham. Always book-ready, I took out my iPad and I read as I prayed for traffic to get better. By 10:30pm, the queue out of the parking got a lot better and I assumed the streets outside was the same, and I was right. My drive home was smooth and I was able to pick my sister up from the condo. We both agreed it was a better plan, to let the road clear instead of fighting it out with the other cars on the street. 

Thursday, when I woke up, I decided I was just done with it. I skipped work, packed my bags and wasted my time at home. I am off to a mini vacay today. I am attending a wedding of two good friends and then I am doing some exploring (I'll blog about that soon). For now, I just want to really complain about the traffic and also express how happy I am to be going out of Metro Manila for a few days, in the worst traffic season. You know at one point, when I was stalled at that one street for more than an hour, I made my assistant go out of the car to check the road and see what was causing the non-movement. Inch-by-inch movement during a bumper-to-bumper traffic situation I understand. Car volume is high and there might be an obstruction along the way, so cars will creep slowly. For traffic to have no progress for more than an hour, I do not understand that at all. For an hour an a half I watched as Waze tried to reroute and recalculate... reporting a better and faster way, but I wanted to shout at the voice and tell her: "I cannot get out of this street to follow your new route!" 

Let's just say that's the worst traffic situation I've ever been in. I usually find a way to turn around or I avoid the streets altogether by staying where I am. On a daily basis I wait until 8:30-9pm in the clinic, instead of driving through the awfulness of EDSA SB. I'd rather sit in my clinic, coloring, reading, writing or playing Clash of Clans than to waste hours and gasoline in the car. 

You know, I love Christmas but every year it comes with this, and it's really frustrating. The time that is wasted on the road is time you cannot get back anymore. I was just heading to a dinner, so that was fine, but how about those who are travelling to a meeting, a presentation, a flight or something else more important than a dinner? When I was young and was watching the Jetson's on television, I wished we all traveled the way they did (via a magical elevator that traversed the entire city, you just press a button to get to where you needed to go). But at the age of 8 or 10 years old, I wasn't really thinking about the traffic situation. I wanted to travel that way because I hated waking up so early in the morning to go to school and I imagined it would be easier if from waking, I just had to get ready and then press a button to go to school. 

I am thinking about that again. I will fantasize about it... maybe it will happen. Haha! Just kidding. Anyway, traffic in the Philippines is hopeless and I think it is the pathetic commute system in this country. When I travel I usually commute, especially if the bus or train system is highly organized. I reckon if we had better public transport, people would not bother bringing their cars, and would just commute. In London, people in suits and high-heels commute. I wish something could be done here and I would be grateful if some improvement is achieved because traffic is so unpredictable nowadays. Sometimes you think you've estimated your journey time because you've taken that route hundreds of times before and then things suddenly change... it is really annoying. 

It is annoying because you waste gasoline, you waste time, you miss important appointments--and you are sometimes caught thirsty, hungry and much worse, in need of the washroom. Traffic in Metro Manila is unbelievable. I was lucky last Tuesday because I somehow got saved in the middle of Shaw by a guardian angel, but miracles like that do not always happen. Most of the time, you endure the stretch with the rest of the motorists. 

But anyway, I am going away for awhile, so goodbye Manila. See you in three days. Haha!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Will I Ever Get Used to It?

During Papa's wake I had a momentary lapse while I was talking to one of my girl friends:

Friend: I think your dad knew my husband's dad, he was a military doctor. I think they were assigned here in Villamor around the same time. 
Crix: Maybe. Maybe they were here together and knew each other. What's his name?
Friend: Dr. ________________
Crix: Ahhhh, okay I got it. 

And within seconds I slapped her hard on the shoulder. I slapped her so hard because after she gave me the name, I made a mental note to ask my Papa, and then realized that I couldn't do that anymore. Papa is gone so he could never answer my question. For a moment there, I immediately jumped to a familiar practice and forgot that he is gone. Papa is gone... and there is no remedy to that.

It's been a month now. Last Sunday we visited Papa and we ate cheese and crackers. We have all been back to work and have resumed all our daily routines inside and outside the house. We have no choice... life goes on for the living, so we wake in the morning go on with our days and then end the day to sleep (and wait for another morning). We force ourselves to go back to our routines because we have to. But sometimes I get moments when I expect Papa to be there (and he's not). 

I guess it will be like this for a while. It is hardest for my mom because she was with Papa everyday and now she's alone. Anyway, the other day she started singing: "Twerk it like Buddy" and we all burst into laughter: "Mom who is Buddy?". She laughed, too, after realizing she had the wrong lyrics and said: "That's how your Papa and I sang it" and she continued to sing. We really miss him. We sing his songs and use his famous phrases--it's often funny and it makes us smile to be reminded of him. But sometimes it makes us sad. It makes us sad that we no longer enjoy meals with him. It makes us sad that his office feels empty without him. It makes us sad that he's gone. 

I really don't know what to make of what I am feeling right now. In general I am doing fine, but most of the time I feel very confused. One time I was supposed to text a friend who has lost a parent too, so I could ask him if he felt/feels the same way, but I deleted the message because I was afraid I might resurrect buried emotions. Most of the time I am okay. I go on with my day, like I'm supposed to, but then I wonder if that's normal that I am okay. Should I be sadder? Should I look for him more? Should I cry more tears, because I don't? They say people handle grief differently... but is there an abnormal or a normal way to go through this? 

What I know is that there is an alien feeling inside me and I feel that I will never ever get used to it. Maybe eventually... I don't really know.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

The Depth of Friendship

After Papa's departure at the Villamor Air Base Mortuary, he was brought to his final resting place in Libingan ng Mga Bayani. The ceremony was lengthy and elaborate, but it was very beautiful. Just like his arrival honors, the morning of the 30th of October, there was an assembly of soldiers at the Mortuary and at Libingan ng Mga Bayani, and then we walked to where he was finally laid to rest. 

My Papa's PMA classmates

Of the entire ceremony, the presentation of the flag was the most memorable for me. After the pall bearers folded it, just before they presented it to my mom, it first made its round among Papa's mistah from the PMA. It was very dramatic. One by one, they took the flag and pressed it to their heart, a symbolic gesture that made me cry even more. I mentioned it to my girlfriends after. Almost the entire class (those still living) attended the necrological service and then the internment, the following morning. I was telling them I hope that when we're that age, we'd still be devoted to each other. They have a Viber group and they keep in touch with each other's lives. The bond formed decades ago, still intact and strong. 

Friendship is really serious stuff for me. Some people collect them in bulk but I am the type who is willing to let go of those who are not worth my time, just so I could focus on those who matter most to me. I prefer friendships that are genuine. More so, I put real value on the type of friendship that defends and protects...  I call this BLIND LOVE. 

True Friendship Demands Blind Love

Blind love is when you love despite and in spite of. It is when you pick a side and you stick with that side because you are loyal. This is true for family. My sisters and I have made a pact to always honor blind love. This means that we will have common enemies and we will always fight for the same team. This also means that we will always be there for each other, no matter what. And in the Romeo and Juliet notion of things, it means that I will proudly Mercutio the butt of any Montague in sight (for my sisters). 

I also demand blind love from my friends. I do not speak it, but I quietly expect it because I will give you the same type of loyalty. I have said goodbye to many people for different reasons. Some of my old friendships are now very casual, some have been downgraded to social media connections and some are totally down the drain (depending on the cause of the falling out). You see, I will fight for a friendship, as much as I can, but I have always been willing to let go of friends who are disloyal, dishonest and most of all selfish. 

I had one falling out with a long time friend because she was disloyal, dishonest and selfish. I trusted her with my story and she played with it like it was common information she had to share to all. You see, despite my "public" existence here in my blog and social media, I am a private person. It may not be easy to understand because here I am blogging, but know that the stuff I share here are filtered and carefully censored. This means that when I reveal something, it is information that I can openly talk about. When I tell you, A SECRET, it means that I am entrusting to you a portion of my life that I would rather not let anyone touch. I am very particular about my sensitive private life and I expect my friends to respect that because I will do the same. I seem loud and open, but that is not exactly the case--AND SHE KNEW THAT. 

I expected my friend to defend and protect me, because she was supposed to be on my side. I would've done the same for her... I would have fought for the team, but I was so surprised to find out that she wasn't taking my friendship seriously--that really hurt me the most. It was painful because I chose her for a reason and I realized I did not know her well. For that, I do not fault her, I picked her to be my friend and so I chose to remedy the situation. My mom would always tell us to choose our friends wisely, so I eventually chose to let her go. We are generally okay (not immediately), but I eventually explained and apologized for my decision. We, however, will never be close again. 

True Friends = Soulmates 

During the day of my Papa' s burial I watched one of my Papa's best friends as he said his lonesome goodbye in front of the coffin. He was there for maybe 30 minutes, I did not see him cry because he had his back to me, but I saw him gripping a handkerchief.

After we went back home, we received more messages from his friends and they continued to speak of friendship, brotherhood and how this now extends and is immediately transferred to us (in Papa's absence). My Mom also got to talk to "that best friend"... and when she asked him why he loved my Papa he said: "Because we understood each other. We were both loners. He was the only one that got me." And I immediately made a mental examination: Do my friends understand me? Do they really get who I am? For years I've had the opportunity to meet a collection of people. I found out that it is not hard to make friends, but I also learned that it is not easy to find ones that are REAL.

When Papa passed away I gained a deeper appreciation for many of my friends. God has truly blessed me with friends I feel I do not deserve. During the stretch of the wake and to this day, I continue to receive care from all directions, it is heartwarming and invigorating. I do not have a lot of friends, I've said that before, but I have amazing few. The core of the friendships I share with people have been tested by time and I am grateful for each one of them. I have lost some people in the past and every loss was not easy. The one I recently lost initially saddened me, but when a friendship is not nurturing but is instead damaging, you have to let the wind take it somewhere. 

And then hope for the best...

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