Monday, May 30, 2016

Will You Cross?

One step. Two steps.
Will I take the ominous walk through an unfamiliar bridge?
Will you?
It's an unstable and rotting structure
with truths masked
lies abounding
and there is a higher chance of you falling to oblivion
than ever making it to the other side.
But will you? 
Even if you are given no warranty,
no receipt of purchase
not a single fortifying evidence to make a claim?

One step forward. One step back.
It is a dizzying journey of uncertainty
I suffer of nausea from vertigo
and confusion,
so I need to let go.
I need to collect. I need to retreat. 
I need to go away.
Far away where the bridge is unseen
and not inviting me to cross

But I took one step and another 
moving towards the field of dreams
the comforting touch
the placating whisper
the uplifting urges that promised change
Every given day I take one step forward, one step back,
never going anywhere
That's the truth

So, will you cross?
Should I cross?
Should I leave?

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Friday, May 27, 2016

So I've Started Boxing

I have always been with Gold's Gym, but when I relocated the clinic a few blocks away from my previous address, I left Gold's. The "walk" seemed too tasking for me, so I decided to enroll in a circuit gym just across the road where (unfortunately) I lost ZERO pounds. Hehe! They always say you have to find the perfect gym/exercise that works for you and the circuit gym wasn't for me, so when my contract expired June of 2015 I did not renew anymore. By that time, we were also going in and out of the hospital for Papa, so I didn't have time for the gym. 

Now, zero gym time and excessive binge-eating is never a good combination. You cannot tell me to stop eating, because that is just impossible. Actually, on my first day at the circuit gym, the trainer asked me: "What are your goals?" and I started blankly at him: "Huh?", so he explained his question: "What are your fitness goals? How much weight do you want to lose? Why are you here?", and I finally found the perfect answer: "Because I love to eat!" He laughed. I don't know why he was laughing because I was telling the truth. Eating is the "funnest" activity in the world and I need to go to the gym to continue eating all the food that I love. 

Xtreme Boxing Gym

When 2016 started, I decided it was time to go back to the gym. I also decided not to go back to the circuit gym anymore, but instead to enroll in the boxing gym 3 floors above my floor. 

Prior to enrolling, I had zero boxing experience apart from a single Muay Thai session at a friend's gym; and years of Les Mills Body Combat classes. Cardio work is nothing to me, I can do three hours of cardio workout, but I needed to get used to the entire program that they offer at Xtreme. 

Anyway, I've been doing it for almost 5 months now, and I like it. I love boxing and boxing at Xtreme because:

  • It is affordable. You have to understand that I am really very stingy, well in the reasonable
    way, that's why Gold's Gym was good for me because I think I was paying something like Php1,400 a month for 2-3 times weekly gym. The circuit gym was quite pricey, but I paid the annual fee to cut costs, but this boxing gym is just amazing. I earned membership for Php999 (Christmas promo) and it came with 3 free sessions. As a member, per session rate for non-peak is Php150 but I usually pay for the 3-session package priced at Php400. 
  • Trainers are experts. The coaches are either old fighers or coaches. I've been to several gyms and no offense, some trainers are just protein-packed. The coaches are ripped and they really know what they're doing. I am not saying that other trainers are not good; what I'm saying is that even though it is an affordable place, does not mean that it wont compare to more expensive places. 
  • Gym is not packed.
    The gym is small and not highly commercialized. This is good because it is seldom that I am competing with another student for the time and attention of the trainer. It is small, so I see a lot of familiar faces everyday. I avoid peak hours (after work) because I don't like working out with a crowd. I usually go in the middle of the day, when I don't have patients or when I finish early, so I sometimes have the gym to myself.  
  • It is very accessible. To get to my boxing gym I just have to take the elevator to get to the 6th floor. It is so accessible, I can go boxing in between patients, and go back down to see patients after working out. It like it because when I forget stuff, I just call Monique to deliver my slippers, towel, boxing gloves or bottle of Sting. I bring Beckham with me sometimes and he's a good boy... but when he's being bratty, I call Monique to pick him up. Hehe. Anyway, accessibility is very important for me because if it's not easy to go to, then I wouldn't want to go to the gym. Some people drive to the mall to get to their gym. I cannot do that. It needs to be where I am, walking distance, or I wont be going. 
  • It is fun. I really enjoy boxing. I enjoyed dancing/kick boxing classes in Gold's, but since
    I do not have easy access to it anymore, I've decided to try boxing. I was a little worried it wasn't for me, so I didn't get gloves right away, but I eventually did because after just a month I was sure I was going to do this for awhile. I spend about 2-3 hours in the gym. Depending on how much time I have I do 8-10 rounds of boxing, 3 rounds of speed ball/double end bag, 1-2 sets of 3 rounds of circuit, weight training and ab/core workout. Sometimes the program laid out for me is so hard, I give up, but I always enjoy the challenge and it's amazing. 
  • Results are fast. I gained a lot of weight in 2015. Inactivity is my biggest enemy, not food because you cannot blame the food, and I was such a lazy ass in 2015. Come January 2016, I told myself: "Crickette get your butt back to the gym" and I've already lost weight. I haven't been back to my target weight, but I'll get there. If I eat healthy food, maybe I'd be fit now, but sorry... I really can't. I've also gotten stronger. In the beginning I was weak, especially with weight training, but I can manage it better now. I expect to get better as I continue, but I'm taking things one day at a time. 
Boxing is fun. I've heard a lot of good things about it from people before, but I only heeded its call this year. I am glad I did. I still miss the gym and I miss dancing. Maybe sometimes I'll enroll in small dance classes, but for now I'm happy in my small gym and my PINK boxing gloves. 

Oh, I love it. It's so me!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Night I Was A Food Blogger with the KTG

I have been blogging for a while now and in the length that I have been at this I have made friends with many bloggers. I feel I know them because we read about our lives online, but many of these friendships remain in the virtual realm. The other week, however, I decided to leave FB messenger to meet up with a long time blogger friend, and he introduced me to a few food bloggers (collectively known as the KTG or the Kain Tulog Gang). 

Grand Patron Margarita. Served with a lovely bottle. 

When I arrived, everyone was enjoying a cocktail and I decided to join them, right away. Last year, my friends and I braved the Chili's unlimited margarita sensation and we all went home tipsy and extra happy, so I was quite eager to start with my first cocktail glass. My first pick was the Blueberry Pineapple Margarita and I followed it up with a Grand Patron Margarita. I was having too much fun, meeting new people, having post-election discussions, I didn't pay much attention to the ribs when they came out of the kitchen, so I cannot show you pictures. Just trust me they were good. We had the Blueberry and the Cherry Cola, slightly similar (sweet tasting), but I enjoyed the Cherry Cola ribs more--I will try to copy it one of these days. Hihi!

Actually, the truth is that my lowly Samsung phone got intimidated when they took out their fancy cameras. They all looked very professional, I felt so out of place, but the burgers came out and I couldn't resist it. You have to know, I am a burger lover and I make winner burgers so I was so excited when the Craft Burgers were served.

Southern Smokehouse Burger

Served with a side of BBQ sauce, it has everything I like in a burger; bacon, onion rings and lots of cheese. This is fairly basic. A classic served in a special type of bun. 

Guacamole Burger

This is my favorite because I like guacamole and I really wanted to try it the moment it was brought out. It could be a little spicier (perhaps more jalapenos) or maybe they could serve it with jalapenos on the side, so diners have the option to add some heat if they want to,

Sweet & Smoky Burger

The only difference between the Sweet & Smoky Burger to the Southern Smokehouse Burger is the cheese. Southern Smokehouse features a dollop of cheddar cheese and the Sweet & Smoky is served with pepper jack cheese. Also, the BBQ sauce is infused with mango (interesting, huh?) 

All the burgers were overwhelming massive, beautiful and accompanied by a side of homestyle fries. They used potato buns, hence the dark color, and they are toasted perfectly to give every burger bite an interesting crispiness. I'm not sure if I've had potato buns before but they're now my favorite. They're a bit heavy, but here's what I say about that: "If you're gonna enjoy something, better go all out!" 

Anyway, I'm sure you already know that I am not a food blogger. My blog is melodramatic, most of the time, but I love food and I'm sure you've read some of my restaurant reviews. My sister who is a media analyst, always say that food bloggers are the best kind of bloggers. I didn't understand her before, I am not a food blogger (so I was thinking she was judging me. Haha!) But after meeting the group, I'd have to agree with her--and maybe that's because they're never hungry. Haha! 

Here are some of the members of KTG

From food, to politics, to ghosts (yikes), the night went by so fast...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Elections 2016: On Voting Duterte for Change

Tuesday morning, May 10 2016, I woke up and realized I fell asleep sometime after 12 midnight and it felt good.

The Rabid Campaign

I didn't sleep well for weeks, just following news and reading articles (good and bad), following the campaign of all the candidates. On an average, I'd doze off between 3-4 am, when I'm truly exhausted and then wake up at 7 am to get ready for work. A friend joked: "Campaign manager ka ba ni Duterte?" (Are you the campaign manager of Duterte?) And you know what, there were times when I felt like I was part of the actual campaign and I had to keep in touch with the goings on. I had countless chat rooms on FB and Viber that were either transformed to election threads or were formed for the elections. I talked elections with friends, colleagues and patients. Inasmuch as I could, however, I kept my Facebook (and other social media pages) hate-free. (emphasis on: inasmuch as I could), so I kept the heated discussions private. 

Actually, it took me awhile before I actively participated. For months my feed was clean of election posts until the final week. For months I was silently reading, liking and stalking the campaign of each candidate. I watched all the debates, interviews--but all the while, kept quiet. The battle on FB went on and towards the end it had gotten from bad to worst so I didn't want to add to the tension. Also, I was already getting irritated with all the hate and I knew if I started there's no stopping me, but one day I saw a friend's post (he was on the other team) and he said something like: "I'm not posting for you. I am posting for people who have the same beliefs as I do. To let them know they're not alone". And I realized, that's true. Some people may be waiting for allies, so I decided to step forward and leave my chat rooms. More than liking posts, I started to share stuff too, and I started to talk about my CANDIDATE. 

Why Digong?

To explain my choice is going to be long, controversial--and this blog is no place for that. I am not a political analyst and I am not a historian, so I wont even attempt to go there. Instead, I will give you my "personal" reasons because you cannot argue this with a FACT, THEORY or BLACK PROPAGANDA. Funny thing, before the elections a friend dared me to blog about my dark thoughts about the elections and I laughed, telling him: "Given the archive I have here, do you think people will take me seriously? I mean, I talk about Justin Bieber, Clash of Clans and adult coloring books". Anyway, I shared this conversation with another friend and she said: "You should do it and then you can change the name of your blog to... The Drama Queen Can Tell Theories." Hahaha!

Anyway let me start explaining. My father was a retired military officer. For 21 years I lived in Camp Aguinaldo and grew up with men like Digong. As a matter of fact, Digong reminds me so much of my Papa. His loose shirt and corduroy pants---his hatred for crime and drugs. You know, my sisters and I were discouraged to go out to bars and to go to places like EMBASSY (the club) because he says people go there for drugs? In high school, I was hardly allowed out; and in college I had a curfew of 11pm that sometimes stretched to 1am, even though I was a constant dean's lister. High grades do not justify one's need to go out and unwind. He says it's his duty to send us to school and as gratitude, we had to bring home good results. High grades were expected (a resounding "be sure" his favorite reminder). We grew up understanding that going out was a privilege, not a right--and how can you argue with that?

Anyway back to Digong, I grew up to a strict father with seemingly unfair rules (unfair compared to my friends), but beneath his tough exterior he was our funny, generous and thoughtful  hero. He was tough on bad people, but always fought for people who are weak. 

It was during the 2nd Presidential debate hosted by TV5 that I made my decision to vote for Digong. Just so you know, he was always my top choice (even before he filed his candidacy), and I remember having Duterte discussions with my dad before he passed away. That TV5 debate was crucial for me because although many saw it as disorganized and chaotic, the rawness of it all revealed more to me than anything did. There I saw a man feared by many, but I cannot forget how he spoke to Binay regarding the notes: "Just let the debate go on. You can just present your documents at a presscon" (not verbatim). Yes he is crass, he makes a lot of shocking remarks, and he's surprised me with several "face-palm" moments, but have you ever seen him in a formal interview? Oh, in the right setting this man is profound, eloquent and very intelligent--just like my father. 

In my democratic home, I was the only Duterte vote. My 3 sisters voted Roxas and my mother voted Santiago. 

Before the elections my sisters said I was making a sentimental vote, but I want you to understand that I thought hard about this. I am presenting this reason to you because THIS STAND is immune from criticism. In other words, I don't want to invite negativity into my blog. But if you wish to engage in a lengthy conversation about this, send me an email or message me on Facebook. 

Another personal reason is the need to feel secure. While cases are more isolated now, do you remember when there were back-to-back reports of rape and deaths of dentists? It scared a lot of people, even those outside the dental community, so people would message me to stay safe. It went on for a while, and I often feared it happening to me (while holding on to God's faithfulness to keep me safe from harm), but what's most painful is that the solution and safeguard provided to us is TO INSTALL A CCTV. People urged me to get a CCTV for my protection--and I answered: "Protection from what? Will the CCTV kill my attacker? Can I afford to connect my CCTV to the police station so they are on a 24/7 alert to keep me safe? What exactly is the CCTV for; so that they can watch the bad thing over and over--and hope to capture the criminal with it?" What the government is saying is that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR SAFETY--and that pains me. My vote for Duterte is also a cry for help because I really don't feel safe. Yes the CCTV is a responsible action, but please do not tell me that it is the ONLY SOLUTION you can give to me. 

It's Time to Heal: Embracing the Future

It has been a week since the May 9 elections. Duterte is now PDiggy and I look back at the rabid campaign (especially the final weeks). There are still traces of hatred on social media, it will take awhile for all that to go away. But just so you know, the hashtags were annoying; the irresponsible journalism was appalling; and like I said, I tried my very best to control temper--but of all that I encountered one post truly hit a nerve so I took a stand. Do I regret doing that, not really, because I wanted to tell her she hurt me by saying what she said, but I wont exactly do it again. 

Here, I am putting it out. This is my confession. I left a comment on someone's page because I couldn't stand it. 

One of the first things President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said on May 9th was that it was "time to heal". In a CNN interview he was asked to comment about what he thought about the black propaganda and the LP's call to "return to decency"; and in another, they asked him about what he thought about the accusations and the negative claims, and for all of that he just said: "Forget about the hate... it's part of the territory of politics". He also talked about journalists working like garbage collectors, but he accepted that it was all part and parcel of journey--and he's right.

Six years ago, I voted for Richard "Dick" Gordon for the Presidency and he lost. I imagined a world with him as a leader and I liked that picture, but I woke up the day after and I was devastated. Nevertheless, I supported the new President and remained hopeful for the Aquino government. That's how it is. The slogan, "CHANGE IS COMING" is simple; often times used in a joke, but I can really feel people embracing it now. Within a week he has already presented us with good things to expect, and I pray this goes on. Just like in 2010, we wait for good things. And if I made a mistake; if my President turns out to be a failure--I promise to be the first one to SCREAM at him because believe me, I will feel very betrayed. The passion I poured out is too great, he should not let it go all in vain. So trust me, if he fails, I will GET REALLY MAD. But do not condemn me, and all the others who voted for him---that's not right. 


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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 there 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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