Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Work to Earn to Give

My first patient in San Teodoro, is a small Mangyan man.

Last weekend I traveled with the Christian missionary group, Team Jesus, to serve Mangyan tribes in Mindoro. In the morning of the first mission day, our devotion was based on Ephesians 4:28 and it spoke of three types of people: those who steal to get what they want/need; those who work to get what they want/need, which is how we most are; and those who work to get what they want/need to be able to GIVE, which is how God wants us to be. 

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Ephesians 4:28)

"So that he may have something to share..." It was a fitting devotion for a team set to serve. And on the opening at the first site in Baco, the Barangay Captain who spoke (in Filipino) said, "The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. And it is probably why these people are here." Why were we there? When I heard all that I was tucked away inside a classroom, trying to steal a few sleeping minutes before the work starts, and tears just started falling from my eyes. He continued, "In my long life, I have not experienced something like this..." Usually, you come to a place like that hoping to bring God's blessing and instead you are blessed by their graciousness. I was in awe--God was with us that day. 

Becoming A Mission Dentist

10 years ago, when I earned my license, I took an oath of service. While the work I do in the my clinic is service just the same, I've always known that I could be more, do more and give more. I knew I was meant for something else and when I joined the ARMS Mission in Bicol, it opened a whole new world to me. So when  I was invited to be a part of Team Jesus, I did not hesitate. 

A few months ago a friend suggested that I could teach in Dentistry School. Thinking that it had always been my dream, I was convinced that the way it conveniently landed on my lap meant that God wanted me to do it, so I heeded the call and submitted my CV to a University in Manila. The application never materialized, however, it went back and forth. There were demands I simply could not meet and it suddenly felt heavy in my heart, so I couldn't commit. At a point, I even asked God, "Is this not what you want for me?" 

Then while I was in the mission, I suddenly realized that if I became part of the academe, then I would be tied to a schedule and wouldn't be able to give room for a missionary life. Things suddenly made sense and I felt my heart delight at the thought. It was clear--this is what God wants me to do. 

Joining Team Jesus

Call it accidental or destiny, I hear it as God's calling. My friend was merely asking for me to fill in for her, for a single mission, but as it turns out she was set for migration to Canada, and needed a "permanent" replacement for the team. She joked, "I'm passing the baton to you", and I laughed, not realizing the my new reality.

Team Jesus was formed, post-Yolanda, but the heart of the team is consist of Christian missionaries serving in he Name of the Lord, far longer than that. They are partnered with the Philippine Army, and with their protection and assistance, are empowered to serve the Mangyan tribes in Mindoro (and other areas). I met amazing hearts this weekend. It is my dream to possess even half of the passion they have in their hearts. Next month I am set to travel with them again and I am delighted. 

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:44-45)

To God be the Glory,

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dealing with Bullies and Gossips

When I was in grade school I became friends with a batch bully and I learned the best things about the trade from her. I'm not proud of those days, but as you grow up you get to a point when you realize it's better to have the upper hand than to be the one being oppressed. Although, you should know that bullies always pick on people who have no means to fight, and I had a few experiences with that (but I would rather forget it). I think what I'm trying to say is that it is different to be a bully and to know how to defend yourself. When I was wiser (as I became older), I told my little sisters to be strong against bullies. There are different types of bullies in this world and I've encountered many versions of it, but I've never really allowed myself to be a victim. Cmon, I grew up as a military brat.

So I guess you can say that I was able to defend myself from bullies. I fight when necessary because growing up my mom always expressed the importance of assertion (and standing up for ourselves). Basically I was trained for that, but GOSSIPS were a different thing altogether. 

Surviving Gossip Girls (and Guys)

Yes I said, girls and guys because what I've discovered is that everyone like to gossip, even guys. It's not really a girl thing. I think it's human nature to be curious and to want to talk about other people, but it's a different story altogether when you're the one being talked about. It's not easy to be the subject of gossip. It can break you. It can eat you up. It can ruin your life. But you shouldn't let it conquer you. 

  • You cannot control what other people will do. I've learned that in life. You can fight people all you want, but ultimately, they will do what they want to do. Since you cannot control what other people will do--which means they will gossip about you regardless of the obvious struggle you are going through, there is just nothing you can do about it. What you can control is how you react to their actions. You can go ballistic. You can calmly shrug it off. You can let it devour you. Do not hate the people who gossip about you because it's not their fault. These things happen. 
  • Chances are it's your own fault. I am not saying you've brought it upon yourself, but you know what I mean. If your life is juicy and interesting, you can expect to be under the spotlight. If you've made a wrong decision in life, expect people to have an opinion about it. If you do not want to be talked about, HIDE because if you are prominent even in a minute scale, you will get in people's radar. Of course no one should be a victim of gossiping, no matter who you are, but I am saying it is sometimes a territorial/conditional thing. 
  • Don't take it seriously. No matter what you hear, no matter how bad it makes you feel, do not take it seriously. Try not to let it ruin you and if you can disregard it, do so. Whether the news is true or false, do not let it get to you. Once upon a time I cared so much about what people think or say about me, until I realized I've been wasting too much effort trying to shield myself from the "bullets". Eventually I gained a stronger stance against things and said, "Let them talk!" I just go on with my life because truthfully, there are more important things than this.  
  • This too shall pass. Always remember this because it should bring you comfort. No matter how grave your situation is right now, it will be over. After some time people will get tired talking about you, since they will find other people to talk about. Hehe. That's the truth. Things will be better and you will get through this, so like the rampage of waves on the shore, you just have to let it fall because it will eventually pull away and go back to the sea. 

It is never easy to deal with bullies and gossips, but when you are forced in this situation you just have to be strong. You have be strong enough to stand your ground against bullies, no matter who they are; and you have to be strong enough to survive through the negative talk about you. 

And if you need help, just holler...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Experiencing Canto Bogchi Joint

In June 8, 2008 my cousin's family opened a restaurant and they named it Canto Bogchi Joint. When I first saw his posts on social media, I immediately said, "Oh this is so Carlo". The rugged, simple, unique and  happy-go-lucky feel of the name spoke well of my cousin(s) from Baguio. Since then I've always wanted to visit, but the few times I was in the city, I was there for a purpose that didn't allow side trips and so I've always ached for the chance.

Initially spelled with a "K", my niece accidentally spelled it with a "C" and they decided it better that way (she was right).

The first time I ever saw a food post from a friend who visited Canto, I proudly announced, "Oh that's my cousin's place. I'm glad you liked it." It became a thing I tell people when I learn that they're headed for Baguio, "Visit Canto, it's owned by my cousins" and my referrals always returned with positive remarks--and soon the overflow of good reviews couldn't be stopped. The first time I saw Canto being featured on television, I screamed, "Oh pamangkin ko yan!" (Oh that's my niece). Canto had become synonymous to Baguio and I felt so proud. As a matter of fact, when I was announcing to some friends that I was headed for Baguio, one asked "Which places do you plan to visit?" and even before I could answer she goes, "Pinakamasarap na nakainan ko doon yung Canto" (The place that served the best food for me when I was there, was Canto" And I smiled.

Needless to say, the scheduled dinner at Canto Bogchi Joint was highly anticipated. We specifically avoided a heavy lunch after our full breakfast that day because we wanted the complete Canto experience---and we sure had one.

Anyway, here are the dishes that we tried

Cascade Salad

This salad looks simple, but the unexpected bites of peanut brittle made this truly memorable. The choice greens are fresh and the vinaigrette is perfect. The fruit was watermelon and usually its addition in salad dishes make the most statement, but I will direct you to the peanut brittle once again. Everything about this salad was perfect, even the alfalfa sprouts, so we were truly overwhelmed by the character (sweetness and crunch) that the peanut brittle gave to every bite we took. I mean, salad is salad, and if you are a lover of greens you will love a good salad. But the peanut brittle, made it so much more--we were hooked. It was addictive. Who gets hooked on a salad, right? Interestingly enough, I just found out the brittle surprise was suggested by another cousin. 

Lomo Ribs (Whole Slab)

Everyone who visits Canto, will surely order their ribs, and we sure did. It was tender, flavorful and served with our favorite, Cascade Salad. (N.B. I heard you can convert the salad to mashed potatoes). This did not disappoint and like most of the food in the restaurant, this was something they used to just cook at home. The ribs, specifically, was a recipe they borrowed from a friend. This was tweaked to perfection until it came to be how it is now--the way their the regular patrons love it. 

Grilled Chicken

When this was served, my cousin gave us a side of chili sauce and he said, "This goes well with anything", and we took his advice. Haha. We sincerely enjoyed it with the chicken. It was good on its own, but the kick that the chili offered, made everything more interesting. It's funny, too, because we didn't have any idea how "spicy" it was so we gave a generous helping of it initially---explosion in the mouth, I tell you. But it was so good so after that we learned our lesson and made sure not to go overboard. 

Dessert Nachos

This is absolutely good. The "nachos" which are coated with cinnamon are perfectly crisp and they surprisingly remained crispy up to the last chip (much to our amazement). The flavors go very well together, but it's not too sweet and just how I want it. 

Strawberry Yogurt

When my cousins invited me to have dessert, my mind was saying, "No more" but I knew my stomach was going to find physical space and it did. This yogurt desert is simple but it's the best way to enjoy fresh strawberries form Baguio. The yogurt is faint and not overpowering, so you appreciate the toppings even more. 

As of publishing, Canto at Arellano has closed its doors. A massive development is soon to rise in the area and so I end this post on a bittersweet note. How timely that I finally got to try Canto Bogchi Joint just before their departure. Even sadder, Canto at Ketchup Community is given a contract limit, so make sure to pay them a visit before they leave. Keep posted to find out what's next for Canto. I am eager to know (and I'm sure many share my sentiment) where my cousins and the CANTO family are headed to after the massive success they've accomplished for eight years. A more permanent home for the famous Bogchi Joint, perhaps? Open in Manila, nearer to their beloved cousins, here? Hahaha. Just kidding!

The Canto Family. My family. Meet the heart behind the famous ribs. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Let's Talk About Death and Taxes

"In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except Death and Taxes"
-Benjamin Franklin 

Early last year, a friend's mom passed away. A few months after, I attended another funeral and not long after that, a friend's dad fell seriously ill. It left me distraught. I talked to my mom about it and she said, "It's the circle of life. You are born, you live, and you die. And for people my age, we are slowly coming to our end". She is right of course. Ben Franklin was right too. Everyone eventually meets their end (although some earlier than expected) we all go through the same story, albeit with differing twists and turns. You're born, you live, you die. 

After that talk with my mom, I remember thinking, "Oh thank God that my parents are still far from that", but months after, my father fell into a roller-coaster of health problems that eventually took his life. Death comes to everyone, eventually. And sometimes it comes when you least expect it. I remember when he was getting seriously ill, that I was beginning to bargain. I initially asked the Lord for 10 years, begged for 5 years and at some point wished he would make it, at least until Christmas 2015. But of course he didn't.  

In the following months, I began to understand death even more. 

Let's Talk About Death

Anyway, a week ago we said goodbye to an aunt and the subject of death was brought up again. A cousin kept excusing himself, "Sorry if this is so morbid" but I said, "It's okay, we have to talk about these things". We have to talk about cemetery plots, memorial plans, cremation, coffins and so forth. We have to understand that in the culmination of our lives, these final arrangements have to be made in advance, because the burden of a loss is heavy enough for family.  

Life in this Earth is not permanent. We are born. We live. We die. On the day of my aunt's cremation I posted this photo with the caption, "The beauty of flowers, like life, is but fleeting. One day you'll wilt away". 

Everyone dies. Are you prepared for your inevitable exit from this Earth? Have you made all the physical arrangements (i.e. funeral plans, memorial lots, burial conditions, insurances)? Have you spent enough time with people you love? One thing about my Father's death, however fast it all seemed, was that God gave us three months to be with him. Two nights before, I was cleaning his dentures and brushing his teeth. You see, I didn't know it was the last time I would be doing that, and now I remember it all the time. 

Death is sad. When you lose a loved one, the days, weeks, months and years following that day will be a momentary struggle. But it's not necessarily the end. 

So What Now?

Have you ever wondered where you'd go after you expire on Earth? What happens after you take your final breath--after your body is lowered into the ground and buried under the dirt? Many people will say, "I don't know" and death becomes a scary thing. But what if there is a way for you to be sure?

The promise of salvation is not something that a lot of people understand. Life after death is something that people would rather not touch, but not when you've truly grasped the meaning of salvation. It is said that the story of the death and the resurrection of Christ is one of the best established facts of history. His death, has brought deliverance and redemption from sin--and through him, a way to heaven was given.

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.       (Romans 10: 9-10)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and it is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.                                  (Ephesians 2: 8-9) 

Salvation is something we do not deserve, but it is given to us. The ultimate father, we are offered a chance to be with Him in paradise, we just have to believe. Isn't that amazing? Anyway, I'm sorry if I brushed on the topic of death today, but like I said to my cousin, "We have to talk about these things". We have to talk about cemetery plots, memorial plans, burial conditions, insurances, life after death and salvation.

Oh yeah, I didn't really want to talk about taxes... 

Monday, September 26, 2016

SONG IN MY HEAD: My Eyes Adored You

So last Saturday, I saw "Jersey Boys" with my family. The whole thing was a production. My youngest sister was turning 25 and we wanted to make her day special. She is a musical geek and we thought to surprise her with tickets to see one of her all time faves. 

I grew up watching plays and musicals at Repertory Philippines (and at one point, dreamed of being part of the theatre). In London, when I saw my all-time favorite, Miss Saigon--I cried. My little sister turned out to be a bigger fan of the theatre, so for her birthday we surprised her with tickets. Truth: it was a treat for the entire family. It was a delight for my mom, who was singing and dancing during the show---and it was equally appreciated by the four musical Inserto sisters who grew up singing the famous songs as featured in movies. In "Heart and Souls", we fell in love with Robert Downey Jr when he performed "Walk Like A Man" and in "10 Things I Hate About You", we all rooted for Heath Ledger when he serenaded Julia Stiles with "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You"

Having seen the movie, I knew I was going to enjoy Jersey Boys, and I was right. I had zero expectations for the cast, coming in, but I left Meralco Theater with greater respect for Nyoy Volante, Christian Bautista, Markki Stroem and Nino Alejandro. Nyoy Volante was just amazing as Frankie Valli. His voice and on-stage charisma was spot on and I was just in awe. The Jersey accents were brilliant and the performances--truly outstanding. In fact, it is not easy for me to pick a favorite song from the entire list.  

Anyway, I've chosen to share with you this song, which in the musical was performed when Frankie and his wife, decided to get a divorce. 

My Eyes Adored You

My eyes adored you
Though I never laid a hand on you,
My eyes adored you
Like a million miles away from me you couldn't see
How I adored you
So close, so close and yet so far away

Carried your books from school,
Playing make-believe you're married to me
You were fifth grade, I was sixth
When we came to be
Walking home every day over Barnegat Bridge and Bay,
Till we grew into the me and you
Who went our separate ways

My eyes adored you
Though I never laid a hand on you,
My eyes adored you
Like a million miles away from me you couldn't see
How I adored you
So close, so close and yet so far

Headed for city lights,
Climbed the ladder up to fortune and fame,
I worked my fingers to the bone,
Made myself a name.
Funny, I seem to find that, no matter how the years unwind,
Still I reminisce about the gir I miss
And the love I left behind

My eyes adored you
Though I never laid a hand on you,
My eyes adored you
Like a million miles away from me you couldn't see
How I adored you:
So close, so close and yet so far

All my life I will remember how warm and tender
We were way back then
Though I'm feeling sad regrets I know I won't ever forget
You, my childhood friend

My eyes adored you
Though I never laid a hand on you,
My eyes adored you
Like a million miles away from me you couldn't see
How I adored you
So close, so close and yet so far

The lyrics of the song is fairly straightforward. It speaks to a girl, he loved (adored), who probably had no idea how much, how deep or how real the emotion was, "Like a million miles away from me you couldn't see, how I adored you".

Just recently I read an article about "almost relationships" and how they're practically a waste of your time. I think this song speaks of an almost relationship. In his mind, he's already gone with his dream girl to far away places--where he's married her, built a life with her and loved her--but the image remains in his head. "My eyes adored you, though I never laid a hand on you, my eyes adored you".

Anyway, back to the article I read, it said that although almost relationships sometimes present with the same sensation as a real relationship, it is hardly worth one's time and effort because, more often than not, they never pull through. It said, "almost relationships" never ever feel real and if it were, then it would have, and won't ever be half-hearted. Makes sense huh? When the other party cannot fully commit, it's an almost relationship. When one's heart is somewhere else, it's an almost relationship. When you keep on guessing, it's an almost relationship. The level of uncertainty is unhealthy and is just not worth it. It may be interesting, fun, exciting--but it's not real. Of course the article also spoke of almost relationships progressing to real ones, but that's a rarity, so be careful not to wait in vain because you wouldn't want to be singing this song right? "So close, so close and yet so far..."

Do not forget to watch Jersey Boys. It's only playing for a month so do not miss it. 
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Friday, September 16, 2016

Inhaling Artistic Air At Bencab Museum

A few months ago someone invited me to BenCab Museum and before I answered, I consulted my best friend Google because I was sure the museum is not located in Manila, "In Baguio?"Anyway, that never happened because Baguio is about 5 hours away for just a leisurely trip to see art. So when some friends invited me to join them to Baguio, the first thing I said was "Let's go to BenCab", and we did.

BenCab is home to the work of National Artist, Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, or BenCab. It is located in Tuba, which is a little far from the city but it's a trip worth taking. It's smaller than I expected, so you only need a little over an hour to explore it. My friends and I enjoyed our visit. From the strawberry taho being sold outside, to the pieces of art, to the many areas perfect for artistic photography--it was the highlight of our trip. And I would recommend it to everyone visiting Baguio.

Anyway, here are a few pieces that I loved at BenCab...

This piece is entitled, "When the Walls Come Down" and I can imagine that the 1990 earthquake that broke Baguio is the inspiration for this. When the walls came down, many people got trapped inside broken buildings for days, before they were rescued. They waited--probably losing hope as days passed, and I can only imagine what it must be like in that situation--to not know whether you will live another day or not. My uncle passed away in that quake. He escaped just in time, but went back, and the walls came down on him. 

It's funny how society loves to paint women as shopaholics, hence "Manila Girls Shopping". While that may be true for a lot of women, even myself, I know of many men who are shopaholics too. My father is a shopaholic-- and it plays to our favor, especially when we travel because you can be sure that shopping is on the agenda. Oh, you have no idea how crazy my Papa was when he fixates on something and starts to hoard. He loves the mall. He loves to buy his favorite things: tissue paper, cable ties, bath foam, white briefs, 3-in-1 coffee, white socks and so many others. Anyway, shopping is fun and it has therapeutic gains. I love shopping best when I'm feeling down because my spending power invigorates me in a very superficial way. How about you?

I know how it is to be "Almost Mad" and the piece depicts the moment in accuracy. When you're almost about to burst, you get an awful rush that clouds your head, so you're like a ticking time bomb. Like a brewing storm, the internal monologue in your head is a deafening raucous, that wants to break free. The color red represents the blood rush--the vein popping marathon circulation of your blood from your thumping heart. I hate it when I'm almost mad because you're at a fork road and you can either be the better man, and suppress it or indulge the rise and explode. 
Will you be MAD or will you calm down? 

Traydor. I do not hate America but it's true, we are often among traitors. In my younger years, I enjoyed travelling to the US, but the so-called American dream has brought drama to my family to the point of it being unhealthy, already. Sometimes I wonder why we're too mesmerized with a country that has done more bad than good to the rest of the world. Yes they aid third world countries in times of need, as a wealthy country with interests to protect, these investments are really worth taking. They hold a pivotal role in the international "Game of Thrones", and we've always agreed to be a pawn in their game ploys. My Papa used to say America is and will be further punished for their sins. I don't know what the artist wanted to convey when he created this piece, but that's how I see it. 

We are always "Ready to Hope", right? Hope is the ray of light that we rely on when things do not make sense and you are filled with questions. Hope is the one thing you can count on to turn things around. In the painting the subject's eyes are covered because hoping is putting blind trust on something or someone. It is closing your eyes and having faith on what's to come. In the past I used to go to lengths to be able to maneuver my life. It's a tiring process that does not guarantee favorable results. Now, I have learned to surrender my life. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year---and like the subject on the painting, I have a blindfold over my eyes. Am I afraid? Oh I am--but it's okay. 

The text caption on the painting says, "Wag mong damdamin ang mga bagay, dahil ang mga bagay ay walang damdamin". (Do not worry about things, because things do not have feelings). The English translation may be off, and it slightly departs from the idea, so I will interpret the quote in Filipino which to me may be seen in two ways. The direct meaning says that you shouldn't worry about material things because material things do not have emotions, which is true. Therefore you should not worry about the worldly things in this life because it holds no bearing and will not define or qualify your existence. The alternate meaning may suggest that the "thing" is a person. And just the same it says that you shouldn't care about this "thing", especially since it feels nothing.
 It feels nothing. So if it feels nothing, why should you care?

This is a timely piece. Today we're dealing with all kinds of "Spin Doctors" in media. The piece depict them as half naked individuals with masks because they bare truth behind masks. They hide behind masks because they do not want to be caught in a lie. I often get frustrated with news nowadays. It's not completely spun, of course, but news are written and presented differently, that's why I always look for actual interviews. If I have to watch hours worth of speeches, I will, just so I could get the whole context. Spin doctors are manipulators. They abuse power that they have and they hide behind masks. All kinds of manipulators are frightening--you should be wary of spin doctors. 

I love art. BenCab mostly showcases paintings and indigenous art--and I loved the paintings. I can look at a painting and stare at it for hours, writing a story about it. I am not a skilled painter, but I wish I am. Maybe one day I'll try but for now I'm just going to continue with my adult coloring books. 

BenCab Museum
Km 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan
Tuba, Benguet
Tuesday - Sunday 
Php 120

P.S. Cafe Sabel is located at the basement and it has a perfect window view that you will surely enjoy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Learning Empathy From Books

I have been reading for as long as I could remember. It began with the "Run Bantay Run" series that most Filipino children go through when we're learning to read and then I jumped to fairy tales, Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew, R.L Stine, John Grisham and it has gone on and on. My love affair with books began at a young age--and I am grateful for it, for a lot of reasons. Books are my friends. They keep me company during long haul trips, interminable queues, solo meals, sleepless nights, even salon and spa visits. But more than just something to do, books (just like words) fuel my existence. 

Not my books. This is my sister's collection. This is just one portion of a large wall shelf. 

People read books for many reasons but apparently, studies reveal that reading cultivates empathy. Reading fiction helps a reader understand what a person is going through--what he is feeling or thinking, because that's what every reader does when he's trying to get to know characters in books. Those who read will understand what I mean. When you open a story and go deep into the lives of the characters (especially that of the narrator) you become in tune with him. You see what he sees, you feel what he feels, smell what he smells, hear what he hears. It sounds absurd for those those who do not read, but this will be true for all bookworms who like myself, faced a Dementor, fell in love in Rosings Park, curiously spied on Boo Radley and finally saw color like Jonas. I have been to many places, met many people, have gone through unimaginable tragedies and triumphs with every turn of a page. Books are entertainment, primarily, but for people like myself--it is really so much more. 

You know, I sometimes get truly invested in the lives of the characters that when I am away from the book, I feel a knot in my chest that I couldn't explain and then I realize I am worried because Katniss Everdeen just lost Peeta to the careers. When a book ends disturbingly, I often stay motionless for hours, in despair. So similarly, I jump in elation when the character feels the same. 

Empathy vs Sympathy

There's always an argument about these two. Although it is not automatic, it is easier to sympathize with people. To say "I feel sorry for you" or "I hope you feel better" require much less and are often cliche responses to other people's grief. But it is definitely another thing to put yourself in someone else's shoes--that is empathy. When you go to lengths to actually understand what is going on, beyond the surface, you are hitting the core (and so you are getting the picture as a whole). 

As a professional in the healthcare industry, I am called not only to sympathize with patients' needs, but to apply empathy when dealing with their concerns, as well. When a patient comes in, you see him more than his toothache--you listen to depth of the complaint. And whether I am working with a child who is kicking and slapping my arm, screaming "I don't like you anymore!" or a grown man expressing his fear of injections--I have to take off my coat, sit on the chair, and imagine it from their side.

In the real world, away from books and beyond my professional life (as a dentist), I have come to realize that empathy has allowed me to forgive easily. More than just branding people according to their actions (which I admit is always my initial reaction--being human), I am able to step away and compartmentalize my emotions. I scrutinize people and events, like I do characters in books. I am always decoding things--and yes, it could be quite exhausting to be me, but lucky for many of you this helps me to understand people (and people's actions) more. Like if you hurt me, of course I'll hate you, but I'll understand why you did it or what about your core (and story) made you do it. Eventually, I'll forgive you just as readers forgave Severus Snape--because that's how it is and that's in my core too.

Literary fiction, by contrast, focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. “Often those characters’ minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we’re forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations,” Kidd says. This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world, which is full of complicated individuals whose inner lives are usually difficult to fathom.  (Source: Scientific American)

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Going Pizza and Pasta Crazy at Motorino Pizza

If there is one food I consider my staple it is not rice--it is pizza. Pizza is my life source and I've said it many times when asked what food I'd like to eat for the rest of my life, if I could only choose one, that it's PIZZA. It does not matter what topping, it could be thin or thick, crispy or doughy, gourmet or traditional plain cheese--PIZZA IS LOVE. I don't know how many times I've expressed it on social media--pizza is serious matter for me. So basically, you know that the key to my heart is food and specifically, it's pizza. Naturally, when my cousin organized dinner for our regular Aussie visitor at Motorino Pizza, my heart rejoiced. Haha.

Motorino Pizza is rather small, but the make sure to ready a big appetite because their menu is loaded. My family's love affair with food is real, so we ordered a lot. N.B. Their crust is thin and pizzas are loaded. You may consider eating it with knife and fork, but since it's best to eat pizza with your hands, they suggest that you "fold" your slice to reinforce it, as you take it into your mouth.

Our Pizza Choices

Php 595

This is not so special, but pizza is pizza and what I loved most about Motorino pizzas is their cheese. They give a generous helping of cheese, as you will see on my photos, and your teeth will definitely sink into flavors when you bite--then it will be as stringy as possible when you pull. I always look for that when I eat pizza, You do not get that often, but you will at with a every Motorino pizza slice.

Pizza Al Uovo 
Php 595

I'm not sure I've had egg on my pizza before, but this is an interesting ingredient. I love eggs and I love fried eggs, because it reminds of breakfast. Pizza Al Uovo brings together two of the things I love, breakfast food and pizza. Do not forget to order this when you visit Motorino not just because it is unique, but because it's worth trying. 

Prosciutto di Parma
Php 625

Of all the pizza's we had this is my absolute fave. I love prosciutto and I love arugula. I mean, just look at the picture--it is as good as it looks. The flavors are simple and but every bite you take is a challenge to cut through the prosciutto and the arugula, so it its quite interactive. If you're not careful, you'll get the entire prosciutto with a single bite and have none left for the rest (same goes with the arugula). Haha. 

Our Spaghetti Choices

Aglio Olio with Bacon
Php 345

This is the only pasta I was able to taste. The initial orders were seafood pastas and I couldn't have them, but my cousins kept saying that they felt sorry because the fresh pasta was good. I told them not to order anymore--but someone else arrived, I influenced him to order pasta that I could eat without dying. Yes, the fresh pasta made a difference. Pasta is my go-to recipe. Once upon a time, I only knew how to cook pasta and now I want to learn how to make fresh pasta. 

Clams and Bacon 
Php 376

Alfredo with Prawns 
Php 525

Since I am deathly allergic to seafood, I did not get to taste these two pasta dishes. My cousins kept forgetting that I am allergic so they kept offering me a taste (and then they'd give me a sad face, after they realize). That means that the pasta is really good. Based on the sounds, I think the clam and bacon pasta was enjoyed the most. Apart from the fact that the noodles are fresh, they kept raving about how flavorful every bite was. 

There is one more pizza we tried, but I failed to take a photo of that one because it was the first to come out and I was already hungry. I initially planned to enjoy dinner with wine, but decided against it. We closed dinner with coffee and a scoop of their homemade gelato. I got pop rock and mallows--it was good. I got to try spoonfuls of their dark chocolate and strawberry shortcake (I like the strawberry one the most). In an Instagram post I referenced Lin-Manuel Miranda's famous speech and said. "Pizza. Because pizza is pizza is pizza is pizza." If you love pizza, you know what I mean. 

post signature Motorino Pizza
3L Greenbelt 3 
Makati City
(02) 7548018

Netpark Building 
5th Avenue, BGC Taguig City
(02) 9624445

Sunday to Thursday 11am - 11pm
Friday and Saturday 11am - midnight

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SONG IN MY HEAD: Dreaming With A Broken Heart

On my drive home, I was listening to the radio and Magic 89.9 was taking callers on the topic of "moving on". Throughout the journey, I heard tales from one guy and two girls, and both girls were on the verge of crying. I was laughing with my assistant and just as they were about to end the segment, the lovely John Mayer song played--and the laughter immediately stopped.

The first time I really listened to this song was when I used to watch "So You Think You Can Dance" and Twitch and Kherington performed on stage. Maybe it was the song, maybe it was John Mayer, maybe it was the dance---or maybe it was all of the above. I fell in love with the song in an instant and when I heard it on the radio, I was transported back to that moment when I first watched them perform (see the video below). Suddenly I forgot about the annoying voices on the radio and their so-called heartbreaks. Mostly I stopped because the song made me realize that once upon a time, I had my heart broken too. 

Dreaming With A Broken Heart
John Mayer

When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
You roll outta bed and down on your knees
And for a moment you can hardly breathe
Wondering, "Was she really here?
Is she standing in my room?"
No she's not, 'cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone....

When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The giving up is the hardest part
She takes you in with her crying eyes
Then all at once you have to say goodbye
Wondering, "Could you stay my love?
Will you wake up by my side?"
No she can't, 'cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone....

Now do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand?
Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand?
Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand?
Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my, roses in my hand?
would you get them if I did?
No you won't, 'cause you're gone, gone, gone, gone, gone....

When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part

The song begins with a few lines that scream reality for many who endure heartbreak and pain, "When you're dreaming with a broken heart, the waking up is the hardest part". This, I'm sure is true for most people. "You roll out of bed and down on your knees. And for a moment you can hardly breathe". Mornings are the hardest because it is when you open your eyes and your mind is the clearest. Sometimes this heavy feeling will come at night, when you are about to expire for the day, but often the exhaustion numbs you and the heaviness of slumber quickly gets in the way of your emotions. But mornings... mornings are the worst. The presence of a new day clamor loudly because it signifies another day you have to forcefully live. Despite the violent reluctance in your head to participate in anything, you open your eyes and you face it all again. It's different at night when closing your eyes is the perfect escape because dreams can take you anywhere you want to go, mornings are real and the details of your heartache shine like the sun when it's bright. "Wondering was she really here? Is she standing in my room?" Oh no--there is no escape.

Unfortunately so, our hearts are made of tough involuntary muscles. It beats unceasingly, until death, so almost always it will persist--although much to one's dismay. "Do I have to fall sleep with roses in my hand?" The song asks this question repeatedly. It's desperately pleading, possibly hoping for an answer. "Would you get them if I did?" 

When I broke up with my very first boyfriend (more than a decade ago), I was very young but back then, the intensity of the heartbreak I felt had the capacity to break my world and like the lyrics of the song, I pleaded and wished that he would come back. That actually took awhile. I remember going through my first years of Dentistry school trying to find stable footing after been mercilessly torn apart. It wasn't easy and at this point I remember the callers on the radio and I regret belittling their quivering voices as tears probably welled up in their eyelids. Every heartache is different from one another--for sure--and each one I went through impacted my life differently. Nevertheless, all will be painful because when you realize that the other person has GONE and left, you will be alone to pick up the broken pieces of yourself.

So yes, mornings are often the worst. And in the dance, they paint the frustration and disarming gloom of being alone.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dear PDiggy: It's You Against the World

Despite your high 91% trust rating, the 16 million electoral mandate, the Congress super majority, and the continued support you get from people like myself--I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry because despite the number of people who believe in you, you are battling this on your own. 

Why do I say this? Since you took your seat you have waged war on a number of people. You put yourself in front of the camera and you make your "announcements". Depending on who is at the receiving end, you are applauded or criticized. For those who criticize you, this unusual practice is seen as uncouth, unpresidential and so forth. In the past administration, you would hardly see the President resort to this because he usually has someone like Trillanes, De Lima or Drilon to do the dirty work for him. Right now, we have someone who does his own laundry... someone who tells the police, "No one will go to jail as long as long as you are doing your job. I will not allow it." And always, declarations of this nature end with this statement, "Even if I lose the Presidency". You see, I say "on your own" because you've put it all in your hands. 

The War Between Supporters

Yesterday was your 50th day and having declared it a "holiday" because of C5 traffic, I spent the entire day following features and commentaries about your first 50 days. It was as mixed as reviews for "Suicide Squad", and on Twitter and Facebook, it was just as violent. As a supporter, I make sure to keep track of things--it's quite entertaining. 

And just so you know, I was enraged by the TIME.COM article by Miguel Syjuco. I have lots to say about it, but I'll keep it simple. Here we have a highly educated novelist, with much credibility, use his award-winning pen power to write an article so maliciously selective and creatively colored with an agenda to destroy. The title alone, "This Is Why Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Will Get Away With Murder", is very suggestive. It's a lengthy piece that was written well and it conveniently accommodated all notable accusations, whether or not it was relevant or accurate. It's not enough that the so-called bonafide media is against you. It's not enough that your supporters are laughed at and ridiculed for publishing their own versions of the truth, to contrast the versions that mainstream media publishes. It's not enough that people who defend you are called trolls because what credibility or brand can they present? Here comes a highly credible writer--and he publishes on TIME.COM and of course, it is applauded (and believed). 

This war will go on and with your recent spat with De Lima, it will continue. And about that, as a Christian I do not believe in the worldly saying, "an eye for an eye". I am the type of person who hardly finds the heart to take revenge or get back at people, so I may never have the boldness you possess. But I do not and cannot control your reactions and decisions. An impending international inquiry threatens your Presidency and in an interview De Lima expressed some "worry" by saying: "Now hindi po biro yan. The last thing we need nga is for our dear President to be subjected to prosecution by an international tribunal, like the international criminal court. Hindi ko po tinatakot ang ating pangulo, I'm just stating a fact". (Now this is not a joke. The last thing we need is for our dear President to be subjected to prosecution by an international tribunal, like the international criminal court. I am not threatening the President, I'm just stating a fact). And meanwhile we have Kill Lists being properly organized and updated, articles from international news publications speaking of EJK and then of course we see photos like this one: 

photo from here

Some people were furious when you asked the media to stop sensationalizing the killings. They said you were mocking the deaths. Were you? I say the photos are of amazing quality. These are coffee table book quality, huh? We used to have People Power hardbound books displayed at home. I loved looking at the photos when I was growing up. I noticed that photos of the drug killings have the same artistic quality. Such deaths used to be tucked far away in tabloids (where they are unseen)--but these photos are particularly good for reposting--perfect for sharing in blogs, Twitter, Facebook and so forth. 

The War In My Head

Whenever I am asked about how I feel about the extrajudicial killings, I say: "I do not like the killings", and that is the truth. Why I do not rage against it is because... Well, let me quote to you what Senator Dick Gordon immediately answered when Teddy Locsin Jr asked for his opinion about EJK by agreeing that while the killings have been a long-time issue, the past were much random, whereas today's is... "How do you know?", Dick Gordon quickly interrupted. It was such a fast interview, he conducted it in lightning speed and I cannot find a video of it online so forgive me if I cannot quote it verbatim, but Gordon's answer was clear--and Locsin paused, listened and agreed--because, how do you know, really? The war in my head sees the pictures of deaths--and then I see 570,000+ surrenders (that rehabilitation centers can no longer accommodate). I see efforts to call house to house for people to come forward and I see people being named and shamed publicly. Now, who makes it to the KILL LIST? If the goal is to kill, then why bother with the charade? You see, the war in my head cannot connect these things. So I raise the same question by Dick Gordon, this time to all of you, "How do you know?" Are you sure there is no other reason why people are being killed? 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-6)

I will never know the inner workings of Rodrigo Duterte's mind. But in his Sona when he said, "I believe in the separation of the church and state, but there should be no separation between God and state", I think he was referring to the verses above. Senator Pacquiao quoted a little of this in his privilege speech about the Death Penalty. Anyway, the truth is that all of this is beyond me so I leave it to the Lord. But in my heart of hearts, I want for Duterte to find a way to disconnect himself from the salvage killings because I need the war in my head to stop. 

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