Saturday, April 30, 2016

Falling in Love with Pinto Art Museum

I found out about Pinto Art Musuem thru random Facebook posts of friends. One day, I was spending a day with my best friend and we were deciding where to head to after our "errands" and we thought of going to Antipolo to check the place out. It was early, so we had time to see the museum, and finish just in time for an early dinner at their cafe. It was a great plan that did not push through, however, because we were bullied by her husband to go to a nearby mall so he could look at GoPros. Men are bullies! Haha!

A few weeks after that failed attempt, I finally got the chance to see Pinto Art Musuem. The travel to Antipolo was surprisingly bearable. We expected to meet heavy traffic, but we got there fast. 

Exploring Pinto 

The place is very picturesque. Every corner you look at, is photo-worthy, even the washroom. There are 6 main galleries and an extra gallery of indigenous art. I fell in love with a lot of things in there. Actually it is quite overwhelming because there's just too much to see, so I'm thinking of going back so I can snap more photos and go over the art some more. 

Anyway, here are some of my favorites:

I like this because it is a massive masterpiece completed by a collection of artists. Pinto Art Musem is home to the art of a group of artists that call themselves "Salingpusa". This piece was done by most if not all of the artists in the group. It is provocative--canvass that speaks. That is what I like most about art: it says so much and it pushes buttons. 

This is a local and modern interpretation of the Last Supper. Can you see the painting's Judas? He is on the verge of taking a paper bill from one of the plates. 

This caught my attention because the caption said: "color inside the lines" and I felt that it was talking to me, not only because I love to color, but also because it clamours in my head, almost like a warning. 

When we decided that Papa already needed a wheelchair, we didn't know how to break it to him. Papa was a manly man, and just as expected, he rejected the wheelchair at first until he realized for himself how much he needed it. When I saw this in the gallery I remembered him and that made me sad, but then I smiled thinking: maybe he wouldn't say no to a wheelchair that's as cool as this? What do you think?

This art piece reminded me again of my dad. He hated dialysis days. We hated dialysis days. We abhor CREA (creatinine) and this piece spoke heavily about the degradation that is linked to dialysis: death before dishonor. Dialysis breaks a person to pieces, right before they are crushed. I know it saves a lot of lives too, but that wasn't my Papa's story. 

This is a lovely abstract of the Certificate of Marriage. I remember having a conversation with a friend about this one time. He said: "Dapat like PRC and LTO, renewable din ang marriage contract" (The marriage contract should be renewable like your PRC and LTO license). He continues: "If you want to stay in the marriage, you have to renew it. But if you are done with it, you can just not bother." That is a convenient--BUT, a very irresponsible thing. I wish it was that easy, but it's not. Haha!

I like this piece only because it used a medium I love---coffee. That's it. I saw it and I was like: "Oh cool! Let me take a photo of this!" And then, I turned around and thought of having a cuppa!

If you are planning on heading to the place I have a few things to say: the galleries are not air conditioned, so we were literally dripping with sweat by the time we finished. Note that there is a cafe' serving good food found within, and they are conveniently located in three areas. You can stop in the middle of viewing, to take a breather and enjoy a refreshing drink. We decided to just go through all the galleries and sweat it all out. We devoured the art and then, we headed to the cafe to devour some food.

That is a better plan, I think!

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Pinto Art Musuem
San Roque, Antipolo Rizal
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 9am - 6pm
(02) 697 1015

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Villas in Bali: #unBALIvable

Enjoying the beach in from of Sheraton Hotel in Lombok

A few years ago I went on a week-long trip to Bali with my cousins. We've always dreamt of travelling together, but it just never happened. The Bali trip just sort of came to being... one day my cousin was messaging us about her trip, next thing I know I was saying "yes" to tagging along and booking my flight. Finally the trip hashtag, #unBALIvable, was born. My cousin will insist on it being #balibuddies, but NO--- it's #unBALIvable. Haha!

Oh that trip was crazy. I accidentally booked my flight the day before, so I was there really early (fortunately missing the massive flight delays), and two of my cousins just followed the next day. My other cousin and her friend (now future husband) almost didn't make it because flights have clogged up in NAIA due to the awful weather condition, but they made it just in time. Oh we were all over the place. Bali-Lombok-Bali, hopping on and off planes, to devour much of the place as we can. It was definitely worth it. 

Living La Vida Villa 

After our 2-night stay in Lombok, we went back to Bali and checked into our villa. Okay, you cannot go to Bali without staying in a villa---it's an absolute must, especially if you are travelling in a group. A villa is more comfortable because you have the "entire house" for yourselves and it is more affordable. Also, the villas are beautiful...

We had a lovely pool. 

It's actually the first thing you see upon entering so it is a lovely welcome. I actually stayed they for a while to play some Clash of Clans (if I remember right). We couldn't swim in the day time, though, because the villa beside us was under renovation and there were construction workers. Yikes! Anyway, we didn't really have time to swim in the day because we had a packed itinerary that included a visit to Tanah Lot. 

After our picturesque tour, we went back to our villa and rested. Still exhausted from our flight from Lombok that morning we were eager to catch up on some rest, in order to replenish our energy. 

Come nighttime, we went swimming and we drank our bottle of vodka before heading out to Potato Head for more cocktails. I cannot remember the song we composed while swimming and drinking. Wait a minute. I remember it was truly hilarious.

Oh now I remember... we were chanting the name of the place (the villa), Danoya, and we believed that it's so brilliant they have to use it as a jingle to attract more customers.We were also convinced that our photos (posing by the pool, etc) would make very good photos for their brochure or website. 

Anyway, the chant was: "When I saw you DA- You say NOYA! DA-NOYA! DA-NOYA!" The lone guy in our group was heading the trying hard rap jingle--that was all his fault. 

The living room and dining room is very nice too. It had very comfortable seats, we almost wanted to sleep there because there was a television in the living area. 

The villa transforms to something even more beautiful at night. It is amazing in daylight but it is magical once darkness sets and the yellow lights are on. 

We almost didn't want to leave the place. We were tired... every corner of the place was inviting us and saying: "Rest your head on me!" But we decided it was our last night and we just had to see more of Bali before we leave, so we got ourselves ready for a night out.

We had a few drinks at Potato Head and then walked a bit to checkout the clubbing scene, but we were soon taking a cab back to the villa to collapse in bed. Two of my cousins had morning flights and needed their beauty rest (and also needed to pack). I wasn't leaving until after lunch so I was more relaxed. 

Actually I was so relaxed, that my cousins copied me because they did not realize until the next morning (day of their flight) that they were leaving on a much earlier flight. 

Well, why won't you relax if your bed is as beautiful as this? After our night out we just took off our makeups and then a quick shower and collapsed in bed. I was still asleep when my cousin discovered they were going to be late for their plane. She almost screamed, I think, and was in complete panic so I stood up and ran to the reception, to request a cab to take them to the airport ASAP. 

Thankfully they made it. They were the last to check-in, just before the counter closed, so they made it to their plane and arrived home safely. 

I was having breakfast when they finally boarded the plane. My other cousin was still sleeping and had all the luxury to do so because they had a few more days in Bali before they go back to the Philippines. 

I proceeded to pack right after breakfast and got myself ready to go. The week-long trip was coming to an end and I was supposed to say goodbye to the lovely villa. Oh well... maybe another day, some day, I'll be back. 

Anyway, what do you think about our villa in Bali? I've seen other villas that friends have stayed in on their own trips and they're all stunning. I keep telling my sisters, you need to go to Bali with your friends, not just for the villas. I enjoyed the trip thoroughly because it has everything you need: beaches, culture, history, good food, nightlife, nature---and it's important to note that everything is CHEAP. My only regret is not renting a scooter/moped to go around. We hired a driver and he drove us the entire time we were there, so we had a very convenient time, but I know I should have showed off my moped driving skills. Haha!

Where to next #cousinloves, Sydney perhaps?

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Food Tripping in Bicol

A few weeks ago I was in Bicol with ARMS (Asian Relief Medical Services) for a 10-day medical-dental mission. Before the trip, I remember slaving it in the gym (thinking I wouldn't have any time there) and my trainer said: "Lagot ka, sarap ng pagkain doon" (Oh you're in trouble, the food there is good). Luckily enough, we were too busy to really go food tripping. Also, I've been eating like crazy all 10 days, but was also burning them like crazy with all the work we do, so it didn't matter much. I gained some weight, but I've been back in the gym to burn it like crazy. Haha!

Let's Eat, Shall We?

I was there for 10 days, but I was in and out of missions and hardly had time to explore restaurants. We had very little free time--at some point I thought I'd be going home without even tasting Bicol Express, but we got lucky eventually. By the end of the trip I was able to devour much of Bicol... so I could take home a taste of it, to share with you all.

Laing Pasta with Pork Cutlet

I arrived at Oriental Hotel at around 11am and was expecting the rest of the team to arrive at 1pm via Cebu Pacific. At 1pm, I was told their flight was delayed and I was seriously getting bored in the lobby so I ordered some food. I saw this in the menu and being a lover of laing and pasta, I was so curious. 

It did not disappoint. The dish was creamy and spicy---you can really taste the laing component of the dish. I loved it! In fact, when the waiter served it to me I said: "Oh the serving is big, what if I don't finish?" Moments later, I was about to finish off the plate---yeah, plate included. Haha!

Chili Ice Cream

In my brief "things-to-do-in-Bicol" research I found out that you cannot leave the place without tasting Chili ice cream (sili ice cream) so even though I knew the pasta would fill me up good, I still ordered it. Websites recommend going to "1st Colonial Grill" for the best chili ice cream, but I couldn't wait---I had to have it right away, plus maybe the heat was telling me I needed something cold, like ice cream.

It is very interesting. It is cold (like ice cream should be) but it bites. The spice will travel from your tongue, down to your throat, it was amazing. I eventually got to taste the Sili Ice Cream at 1st Colonial Grill days after this, and this one is just a LEVEL 1. In the restaurant you can order the ice cream in LEVEL 1, 2, 3 or 4. Level 4 is for people who want to punish themselves. 

Pili Nut Ice Cream

When I finally got to 1st Colonial Grill, I didn't want to order Sili Ice Cream anymore because I've already tasted it. I told them I'll just get a spoonful of the different levels to sample them, and I ordered the Pili Nut Ice Cream instead (even if the waiter said it was slightly melted). 

This is very good. It easily transformed into a smoothie but when it was still an ice cream, I enjoyed it very much. The pili nut crunch on top was good. Anyway our table also sampled the malunggay ice cream (which is so gross, and definitely not for me) and the Tinutong na Ice Cream (burnt rice). 

Pili Capuccino

After our ice cream, we weren't ready to go back to the hotel. We've been stuck in the hotel for a week and we wanted to stay out a bit more, so we decided to have coffee. 

La Mia Tazza is another must-try place. We all ordered Pili Capuccino (available hot and cold). I liked it very much. A little do-not-quote-me-about-this story though, their washroom may or may not be haunted. This is so funny because no one wanted to go to the washroom alone anymore (and I completely did, unaware) and one of the girls asked me to go with her, before we left, and I had to bring my coffee inside with me. 

Supreme Halo Halo

The moment we arrived in Naga, people wouldn't stop talking about halo-halo so we just had to go. After mission day #5, we gathered some people after dinner and all had supreme halo-halo at DJC's (walking distance from our hotel). Of course we didn't know it was walking distance. We all rode a jeep, paid Php100 for the lot, and after 3-5 minutes we had to go down. Hahaha! We were laughing hysterically and the jeepney driver just said: "Sorry! Hehehe!"

I absolutely love their halo-halo. Everyone loved it so we returned the day after and brought more people. The cheese topping was a lovely surprise. I didn't know you could put cheese on halo-halo and everyone should 'cus it was really good. This halo-halo only had ingredient I LIKED: ice cream, leche flan, gulaman, banana (and it may have rice crispies and macapuno or coconut, but I'm not so sure). The serving was big but everyone finished it. And while writing about it now, I am actually wishing I have a bowl of halo-halo, because it's just so hot in herrrrrrr! 


This photo is of a "home-cooked" pinangat that was served to us in one of the sites, but I didn't get to taste it because it had shrimps (Yes I am responsible like that, I always ask). I got to taste pinangat at "Waways" but I forgot to take a photo of it. Anyway, I absolutely enjoyed the pinangat that I got to sample. When you read descriptions of laing and pinangat, they seem similar, but there is a difference between the two. Apart from the fact that pinangat is served like gift, it is tastier than laing, which is more subtle. 


This is "home-cooked" laing served in the site with the pinangat I was just talking to you about. The foreigners loved it and thought it was spinach, but we just didn't bother correcting it because we don't have time to talk about food in the field (just kidding). If any of my new foreign friends are reading this, I am telling you now that it wasn't spinach--it's TARO. 

This laing dish is absolutely amazing. I've always loved laing---I order it a lot when in a Filipino restaurant (here in Manila) and I always judge it. This was is very very very good, and if there was more than one tray of this, I would've gone for a second serving but I love my mission friends and they deserve to taste it too, so I didn't.  

Bicol Express

This is from Waways and if you do not know, it is a buffet-style restaurant. Bicol Express is cooked with bagoong (shrimp paste) but this was cooked like our kuya would, at home, and that is with very little bagoong so I was confident it was safe for me. 

It was perfectly tasty and the spiciness is just great. Everyone wanted more of it but we came late and they were actually closed already when we arrived so they were not cooking more (until dinner). Oh well, I am still happy I got to taste it. 

I think I covered all that needs to be covered in Bicol despite the limitations of our trip. If I find myself in the region again, I will try do more exploration, but this will do for now. I hope you enjoyed my description as much as my tummy did (the actual eating). Hehe!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Working with ARMS (Asian Relief and Medical Services)

Early this year I got invited to join a Medical and Dental Mission to Bicol. I've always enjoyed going to these things, but I don't get invited to a lot, and this ARMS trip is a special one so I was ecstatic. I was initially asked to join for a week, but later on I was told that I needed to stay for two, and after praying I decided to go for it. I was telling myself: "Crix you've been praying for something like this for a long time. You have been looking for a way to serve the Lord and this is it. Why are you having second thoughts about it?" So I asked my assistant to block the dates and I booked my ticket. 

In Site #4: Malictay Island, San Miguel. We had to hike to the school.
It was a scenic path, but it was scorching hot that morning

Preparing for the Trip: A Confession

I've always loved tooth extractions. I still remember the first time I took a tooth out---it was liberating for me, the tooth and the patient. My skill has improved through the years, but I credit most of my talent to my time as an intern in the Air Force Dental Dispensary, where I was exposed to a lot of surgeries and tooth extractions. Needless to say, I have always been confident when it comes to extractions--but a few weeks before the trip I had a few cases in my clinic and in several occasions, I had a difficult time. I even broke two teeth and I was thinking maybe it's my boxing and weight training (that I've gotten stronger, so I should readjust the force I put in), I don't know if that makes sense. But anyway, I was really worried about the dental mission because there will be no automated dental chairs, no surgical burs, and no sophisticated equipment. In the field we make do with what we have--and we rely on our inherent skills. 

A few days before the mission I remember praying: "Lord, what's wrong with my hands? Am I ready for this mission?" On our first day in the field, DENTAL went through 183 patients. I went through all my patients successfully and I was grateful. Now let me go back to what I said earlier: In the field we make do with what we have--and we rely on our inherent skills--I FORGOT ONE IMPORTANT THING: In the field we heal by faith and we manage patients in the NAME OF JESUS. I don't know why I was worried, at all. 

The 7-Day Mission

It was a 10-day trip and we spent seven days in the field. We went to 7 sites (all schools) and each location was a different work environment. Some classrooms were small and some were spacious; some had electricity and some didn't; and some locations were hot, still some, even hotter. The heat surely did not help with the exhaustion brought on by the physical work, but I never felt really tired. 

For two locations (Santicon and Malictay) we had to travel to an island so we had to go on a boat ride. This meant transferring the load of the bus (not just people) to the boats; and everyone, young and old, helped. From one location to the next, we carried boxes in and out of the buses, and transformed classrooms to makeshift "clinics". A battlefield of sorts, we came in like soldiers and we brought with us our weapons for war. We setup camps, in whichever way possible and we opened our doors to treat patients. 

The standard mission clinic setup

The island experience was memorable for me (maybe for every dentist) because I never encountered patients with the toughest bones ever---until that day (maybe due to  their high seafood diet). If you are a dentist, you know that the key to extractions is good elevation/luxation. If you've successfully loosened a tooth from the socket, pulling it out will be easy. I only grasp the forceps at the very end, to scoop the tooth out. Most of the action is put on the loosening, but the teeth of the people in the island were surrounded by very tough and thick bones, so our elevators/luxators hardly had wiggle room. By the middle of the day, I realized my hands were sore and it was because I was physically battling with teeth and bone and giving the forceps extraordinary "muscle-man" grip. 

We were on our third day and it was my first time to take out a mallet and chisel. I even had to call for reinforcements because that is how it is in the field, you call for backup. 

You know what, we were working on wisdom tooth extractions in the field. With no radiograph (xray), we only identify impacted teeth mid-surgery and we are left with no choice but to finish the case. Leaving the tooth would be detrimental to a patient, let alone expensive, so we didn't want to release them unless we've liberated the tooth completely from its bony socket. 

On several occasions, while working on a difficult patient, we'd breathe a prayer: "Lord please, konting tulong!" (Lord, a little help here please!) And that is all you can rely on when you've taken much of the bone already and the tooth still refuses to show any movement. You trust that the Lord will not let you harm a patient and God is faithful in his promise. I worked on cases that would've been tough, even in the clinic, but through sweat I extricated the tooth from its bony cage. All glory to God!

Miracles Up Close

Tally of patients seen in Medical and Dental
(and the number of people who accepted Christ)

Now let me differentiate the ARMS Mission from other Medical-Dental missions. Formed under Christians in Action, we are not a social welfare development group, but we go in the field to be fishers of men. The group of pastors, doctors, dentists, nurses and countless medical and non-medical individuals come together to alleviate spiritual poverty---to give people the opportunity to hear about and accept Christ into their lives as their Lord and Savior. The Medical Assistance we provide is just the tip of the iceberg because ultimately, there is only one true healer, and in this mission my faith has been fortified. 

This is Site #1: Tabaco. It was the first day we were eager with anticipation.
We were inundated by the crowd.

The work that doctors and dentists do in the field do not compare to the miracles that God brought through prayer. Before ARMS, I thought miracles only happened in the Bible. I've heard stories of miraculous healing in the past (and have doubted the credibility of every story I heard)---but it's different when miracles happen up-close and it was amazing. 

From our Prayer and Healing Team there was a 14-year old girl who was able to restore eyesight to two old people. After she prayed, the old man looked at her and said in delight: "I can see you. You are beautiful." (Said in Filipino). There was a witch doctor who left prayer and healing, free from pain, saying: "I've treated many people, but I couldn't treat myself" (Said in Filipino). There was also a patient currently being healed by a faith healer. This person wore a rope around the waist--a treatment costing Php2000, and after prayers were offered they removed the rope and the pain was gone. The person joked, after being asked if they could throw the rope in the trash: "I want it. I will go back to the faith healer and get a refund!" (Said in Filipino).

There were more stories of healing (outside of dental and medical) but the one I want to tell you in detail is one of a woman (a veteran mother) who came into Medical and was seen by Dr. Sarah Turner.

This is in Medical.
Behind the curtain, minor surgeries were being performed in the field.

So anyway, a woman came in. As soon as Dr. Sarah read her paper, she knew she couldn't do anything for her (at least not in the current field setup). As I've mentioned, she's a veteran mother, and what I meant by that is that she's had many children and has had multiple births. Now, you should know that the delivery process can very torturous and damaging to the tissues and muscles of the vagina. The medical term for this damage is Pelvic Organ Prolapse and it's when the supporting tissues can no longer fulfill its function, so the structures collapse. That woman came in with this complaint and the severity of her case could only be resolved with surgery, so Dr Sarah talked to her and offered her a prayer, instead. 

She placed her hand on her and proceed to pray, and as she was doing so, she felt a shift. When she finished, almost immediately, the woman was relieved of pain. This surprised Dr Sarah, so she examined her, and was surprised with what she found out. She even asked the woman to squat, a full squat, and she managed it. Still in awe of what just happened, she decided to lead the woman to Prayer and Healing. She said: "Let's have them continue what's been started here". 

Isn't the Lord amazing? You may or may not believe what I just said, it is up to you. It is not about being amazed, really, because in my life God has done countless wonderful things. I'm sharing this story because if you have not experienced God's amazing love yet, I am daring you to open your life to Him to see for yourself. I am excited for the 2,980 people who made a decision to accept Christ through the ARMS missionaries in Bicol. I'm excited because I know that their lives will be extra special. 

Friends in Love with the Lord

On April 4th I flew to Bicol on my own. A complete newbie in the ARMS Mission, I only knew one person when my plane departed from NAIA 3 but I came back from the trip on April 14th with new friends from all over the world. What's more amazing, too, is that I met people who are seriously in love with the Lord. To be honest, I was a little worried before the trip because I didn't know anyone there... but all that didn't matter. Right from the first day, I have already gotten along with my two roomies in the first hotel; and the same with my new roomie in the second hotel. Most of them knew each other already, but it didn't take long for me to join in the friendly banter and laughter. I had such an amazing time. 

Working with the ARMS Dental Team was amazing. Everyday I was working with people who were smiling and singing through broken teeth, aching backs and extreme heat. By the end of the 10-day trip the team was like a family---a solid working unit and we had non-dental individuals, truly committing to their task, whether it was sterilizing, sorting instruments, assisting, dispensing drugs or holding the flashlight. 

They say: "there are no small roles, only small actors" and every person on the team played a significant part. We breezed through the 1113 patients because we were working as one... looking out for each other, ready to rescue, support and cheer (whenever there is a need). I cannot wait to work with these people again. 

Pastor Kennedy call everyone saints. "Well done saints" he would say after a good day spent in the field. I'm not sure about me but I met a lot of saints in the ARMS Mission. They are amazing people and it was a privilege to be given a chance to work with the group. In fact, on the very first day of the mission, I came back to the hotel and messaged my family: "I want to do this. I want to be a mission dentist". So please pray for me... because I want to continue on this path. Of course, I will still work as a dentist in my practice, but I want to devote more time working for the Lord. 

I am Crickette and I am an ARMS missionary!

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe

My best friend and I always have a dilemma when we're thinking of where to eat when she visits me in the clinic. For years now, she's been telling me to CREATE A MAP that will show where all the different restaurants are, because every time, we spend a lot of time (waste, more accurately) thinking and going around the whole of Timog Avenue. Many times we think of a place and get there, only to find it's already closed--that's the worst!

Anyway, with or without a map one thing is true: Timog Avenue is a haven of amazing restaurants and I discovered a good one recently: Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe. They serve European and Middle Eastern dishes and like their overall theme, every plate is like an art piece.

Spicy Coco Mango Pasta with Pinipig-Crusted Fish

This is very interesting. There are several pasta choices one the menu but this caught my attention because if you recall my Pitstop post (about my visit to Guimaras), I missed tasting the mango pasta they serve there. Anyway, the coconut-laksa sauce go very well with the mangoes and the pasta. Everything about this dish, even the pinipig-crusted fish is perfect, the marrying of taste and texture play like a harmonious symphony in your mouth. It has the right spice, for a kick, and seals in all the flavors with every forkful you enjoy. 

When I first heard of a "mango pasta" my eyebrows rose. The way this dish delivered was not as expected, so I am very happy we ordered this. It was actually addictive. We cleaned the plate clean and even if this came in a bigger serving, I'm sure we would still finish it. 

Fruit and Nut

It may seem as though this plate is too full but the flavor given by the orange-dill vinaigrette is simple--so just right. It is not too ambitious and the ingredients are not overpowering each other, but rather you enjoy the perfect mix of flavors. It's not like most salads because the ingredients are not exactly common, so expect an adventure from this plate. 

Chicken Souvlaki

I liked this very much, not only because this was my first choice and I want to stand by my order, but because it was really good. The chicken, yogurt and potatoes go very well with each other--and the chicken is tender. You can have this with rice or pita (I, obviously, chose pita bread and I think that's the better choice).

A little tip: If you are going to going to have pita bread with this dish, you will need to eat it right away because it gets tough and hard to eat once it cools.

The place is very nice, like a small art museum, every corner you look at is picture-perfect. It is an art cafe, after all, and one interesting thing about the place is that, all the pieces you find (furniture and art work) may be purchased. More than just to be admired, they are carefully chosen so that visitors may make a decision to take a piece of the restaurant home with them (not just in their tummies or their takeout bags--haha!) I would definitely come back to the place. And if I have made the map my best friend has begged me to create, I would make sure to HIGHLIGHT the name of the place because it is worthy of everyone's attention. 

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Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe
25 Don A. Roces Avenue, 
Diliman, Quezon City
(02) 6620880

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Maybe I Was A Man In My Past Life

I get asked a lot of funny things but one time a friend boldly asked me: "Nakipagsapakan ka na ba sa lalake noon?" (Have you ever gone fighting with a boy before?) That made me laugh, so I asked him why he's curious to know, to which he replied: "Eh kasi lagi ka ng hahamon ng sapakan!" (Oh because you always threaten to hurt me!) And I laughed real hard. I laughed hard for a few moments and then I realized how embarrassing it really was, so I defended myself: "No. I've never had a fight with a guy before!" Well that is not entirely true, because if you've been following this blog long enough, you'll know that I have--but let's just ignore that and assume what's nearest to the truth and it's that I haven't engaged in a physical fight with a man--especially one where I was the dominant one. Haha!

No. I don't exactly look like a boy.

Realizing the Truth

After that funny conversation I tried to analyze things. I mean, I have always been boyish. I know that doesn't make sense to a lot of people because I look girly. But those who really know me, understand that I have never been dainty. I wasn't ever a girly girl. I grew up playing with boys and I'm rough around the edges, so guys I'm with panic when I wear a skirt, because I forget to sit properly most of the time. Haha!

So anyway, I know that I'm not exactly very girly and I'm more boyish than delicate, but my friend's question made me want to trace back where all the feistiness came from because I sure wasn't that way before. I was boyish, but I didn't used to invite guys to fights and I don't really talk like a guy--but I kinda do now. As a matter of fact, I have a also developed a "manly vocabulary". And I realized I knew WHY. 

Meet my Clash of Clans teammates. My co-leads. 

I have been playing Clash of Clans for over three years now and I have been playing with boys. It's a game dominated by boys and when you're one of the FEW girls in the team, you either get bullied or you get stuck in a lot of awkward situations. It wasn't easy in the beginning. I used to get bullied a lot and some of the guys pick fights with me (maybe because I'm a girl and an easy target) so to avoid being caught in the middle of a bad situation, I built for myself a tougher exterior. I discovered I had to level with guys--and think like them. You have to make them feel like they are talking to a BUDDY and not a dainty girl, so I developed new vocabulary, speaking tone and one of the things I loved to do was to invite bullies to a FIGHT. 

"Ano sapakan nalang?" (So what, do you wanna fight with me?) I honestly do not mean it--because there is no way that I could ever win in a fight with a guy, but it makes me feel good to say it, so I throw it around a lot. My boxing instructor says: "Masyado ka babae sumuntok" (You punch like a girl) which is quite funny because I am a girl, but that basically strengthens what I just said about me having no right inviting people to boxing matches. 

Capable or not, though, I had to maintain this kind of image (not for my co-leads, who are my friends) but for the rest of the team, who look up to you. As a leader, you have to boss people around, make rules and reprimand wrongdoings. You need an authoritative tone and persona and it's not easy when you're a girl in a WORLD full of BOYS. So yeah, I may be a lover... not a fighter, but I had to assume a personality that best fits my role---and unfortunately, it has seeped out of my COC world and into my personal life. Yikes. 

Going Even Deeper

Today is my birthday and I turn thirty-five (it's okay, I look 25--HAHAHA). A few months after I turned 1 year, my mother passed away and I lived the next four years being cared for by my father, who was a military officer (before he remarried and fell in love with my mommy today).

I looked like a boy when I was young. I remember I used to have action figures when I was little and I dressed like a boy, too. I dunno, maybe my dad was clueless about raising a girl, he'd rather pretend I was a boy. So maybe, the early programming was the reason for all the boyishness. You know I'm actually more comfortable with a bunch of boys than girls? Except for my high school friends (who are not girly girls at all), I get along better with guys and I've always been ONE OF THE BOYS. I mean it too, I know it sounds cliche, but my childhood friends all treat me like I'm a guy because they're not really used to seeing my all girly. They're used to Crickette in a backwards cap, baggy clothes and thee one who rode around Camp Aguinaldo in a red scooter/moped. They're not used to Crickette with long hair and makeup--in a dress or skirt. That Crickette's a joke for them. 

So anyway, I ought to get back to my friend to explain why I always invite him to a boxing match. But I'll do that tomorrow because today since it's my birthday, I will dress up like a girl and celebrate the day that God made me a LADY. 

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SONG IN MY HEAD: I'll Show You

When Justin Bieber's latest album came out, noise about his songs came in louder and louder, especially when the song "Purpose" was released. It was a fresher, more mature Bieber, everyone kept saying. And I won't be ashamed to admit it, but I downloaded the entire album and I enjoy listening to his music. The more mature Bieber wants to be taken seriously--and I get him.

I'll Show You
-Justin Bieber-

My life is a movie and everyone's watching
So let's get to the good part and past all the nonsense

Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing
When the pressure's coming down like lightning
It's like they want me to be perfect
When they don't even know that I'm hurting

This life's not easy, I'm not made out of steel
Don't forget that I'm human, don't forget that I'm real
Act like you know me, but you never will
There's one thing that I know for sure

I'll show you
I'll show you
I'll show you
I'll show you

I got to learn things, learn them the hard way
Gotta see what it feels like, no matter what they say

Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing
When the pressure's coming down like lightning
It's like they want me to be perfect
When they don't even know that I'm hurting

This life's not easy, I'm not made out of steel
Don't forget that I'm human, don't forget that I'm real
Act like you know me, but you never will
There's one thing that I know for sure

I'll show you
I'll show you
I'll show you
I'll show you

This life's not easy, I'm not made out of steel
Don't forget that I'm human, don't forget that I'm real
Act like you know me, but you never will
There's one thing that I know for sure

I'll show you

I'll show you

This song appealed to me not because I think I'm some kind of celebrity (because I don't), but I know how it is to have an audience hovering around. I know how it is to have people look at me with judgment. I know how it is to be talked about, laughed at and ridiculed. And like Justin Bieber, I know how hard it is when "the pressure's coming down like lightning" so you try so hard to do the right thing, but find that it's just become tougher and more impossible.

People make mistakes and I have gone through a lot, but it doesn't really help when people think they can just look at what your life has become with much disdain. It is not easy when people think they know better or when they think they know exactly what you're going through. They treat your life like a scientific experiment: they make countless analysis, provide several solutions and predict possible outcomes. I am not infallible--and I never said I am without error, but the presence of my wrongs is not an open invitation for you to scrutinize my life. What I'm saying is, we all have our own lives to live, focus on your own. 

And like life is not already complicated, there are people who live with the purpose of bringing you down. I have encountered bullies... many kinds of oppressors. Some of these people I thought were my friends, so I put my trust on them, only to be slapped with the painful truth. "This life's not easy, I'm not made out of steel. Don't forget that I'm human, don't forget that I'm real". I'm not weak but I am not exactly made of metal. Prick me and I will bleed. Hurt me and I will cry. I've gone through so much and will probably go through so much more in the future, but Justin said it best when he made it certain that: "I'll show you", because I will. 

I'll show you...

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pitstop In Guimaras

When I went out of town to attend my friends' wedding, I decided to take a quick visit to Guimaras. It's a 15-minute ferry ride away for Php14 so I couldn't miss it. My sister and her friends visited Guimaras but they did the island hopping tour. My itinerary, which included a wedding, did not really have enough space for a much longer time in Guimaras so I decided to do a day trip. 

At Ortiz Wharf. The weather was not a-okay that day but we were still ready to do some touring.

Planning the Trip

Like most trips I plan, Google was my best friend here. As always, I scour the internet for different sources and collate everything in a Powerpoint Presentation (so I could create JPEG slides)--a geek to the core. Anyway, in my search I found Cherald Padojenog and booked him right away. I did so, without hesitation, because he had very good reviews and his rates were reasonable. I'd be very happy to recommend Kuya Cherald to anyone. He is kind, funny, efficient and he delivers as promised (he wasn't kidding with the photographer claim too). On the slide below, I'm providing you with all the details for your reference:

I initially thought I was doing this alone and I booked a tricycle. As I got nearer to my trip schedule, however, more friends (also attending the wedding) decided to tag along so we booked a bigger transport, instead. The initial plan was that from my arrival in Iloilo at 9:25 am we were to wait for another who who was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 am and then pick up three more from their hotel and head to Ortiz Wharf. That would give us a lot of time to devour much of Guimaras. Unfortunately, I arrived in Iloilo at 12:00 noon (no thanks to the back-to-back delays) and we got to Guimaras at 2:30 pm. 

Our fancy transport around Guimaras c/o Kuya Cherald

I asked Kuya Cherald if the tour was still feasible and he said, "Yes" so we went on the ferry and hoped for the best. 

Amazing Race in Guimaras: Pitstop and Mangoes

We had to slash a lot of the items on the itinerary because we were pressed for time, but I think we had enough of what was important, so that's fine. The highlight of my rushed Guimaras Day Tour is the visit to Guisi Lighthouse. The place is very picturesque and our tour guide was amazing with the camera so I went home with good shots of the place. It was a long drive and by the time the tour was over, we were hungry (I hadn't had a proper meal all day because my flight got cancelled) and we closed our trip with a pit stop at PITSTOP.

Guimaras is known for its mangoes, so the trip included a visit to the Mango Research Center and Plantation, and you'll see from there just how serious they are about this fruit. And just as planned, Kuya Cherald arranged for us to sample the unique menu Pitstop. We were running out of time, though (we had to make it back to the ferry on time before the wharf closes) so on our way down from Guisi Lighthouse, we pre-ordered the food, so it was ready when we got to the restaurant. It was an awesome plan because I was very hungry and we were in a hurry--I think I mentioned that already.

Mango Pizza
Looks beautiful. Sounded weird. Definitely delicious. 
I am a pizza-lover and I wanted to try this when I heard about it because I was curious about how the mangoes would work but it was amazing. A must-try!

Mango Bulalo
Everyone loved this. It wasn't a typical bowl of bulalo, it had a slight kick of kare-kare because you'll taste the peanuts, so it was definitely something new. I couldn't get enough of the soup and mind you I am not really a fan of bulalo, but I am of this one. 

Bangus Sisig with Mango
A little ordinary, but sisig is sisig, and everyone loves sisig. This would've gotten more attention if not for the pizza and bulalo, but it was really good too. 

We also ordered the Mango Spaghetti but it was, unfortunately, out of stock. That made me really sad because I was very curious about how it would taste like (even look like). Is going to be sweet? Is it going to be yellow? Will there be meat? Hahaha. Oh well, Kuya said we just have to book another trip to Guimaras to find out for sure: clever tourism tactic (just kidding). By the time we finished we had to speed off to make the last ferry boat back to Iloilo and with the rain, it was slightly ominous. We docked safely, thankfully, and we concluded our day with dinner and a few round of drinks. The wedding was scheduled for the next day, so we had to wrap it up early. 

Anyway, if you are planning a trip to Guimaras, contact Kuya Cherald if you need him, he is highly recommended!

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