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. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fill In the Blanks

I'm a student again
back to school in gingham skirts,
two inches below the knee
rules that cuff me like a prisoner
without a bone
without a right
a test paper shoved in my face
demanding answers
that I don't know where to get
but I try to conquer with whatever 
superficial ego I have left

I'm a student again
filling blanks on a piece of paper
shading boxes that mean nothing to me
but holes dug deep
a buzzing headache through bottomless pits
and sounds that cascade like storms
in a, once, summer day--no more
because the student failed
and the blanks remained unfilled
the echoes murmuring like spirals 
of an unending pain
down the, now, empty corridors

I'm a student again, a student
my heart in anguish and in search of
cheat codes, shortcuts, clues
`cus I'm failing... falling... spiraling...
once again

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Expecting the Unexpected: Our Silver in Rio2016

Last August 8 the Philippines woke up with bright smiles despite the gloomy skies, because athelete Hidilyn Diaz scored the country its first Olympic medal in twenty years. The first in the long drought and a first in a long time, that isn't a boxing win. 

Source: Philstar

The simple win may not be significant to other countries (especially to those who rake in medals) but it is celebrated because it was very fulfilling. A well-deserved win--from her perfectly colored #teampilinas nails, to her actual lift, the expression on her face and her winning stance. Everything about her lifts deserved praise. But in the midst of all the screaming and cheering, one thing that I noticed is her graciousness.

"Naramdaman ko and presence ni God kanina nung bumubuhat ako", said Hidilyn Diaz. " I expected to win the bronze going to this compettion, na-shock ako nung sinabi sa akin na-zero yung China." (Source:

("I felt God's presence while I was lifting", said Hidilyn Diaz. "I expected to win the bronze going to this competition and I was shocked when I was told that China scored zero")

Yesterday, her homecoming was met by 130 Philippine Air Force men. Air Woman 2nd Class Diaz deserves it all (even the many incentives that is tagged with the medal). But while her victory automatically merits applause, I want to highlight her humility and grace. First of all, her medal is the product of years of work, and she does not forget that. And when she thanked God for her magnificent lift, she shone even more. 

Expecting the Unexpected

We should learn a little from Hidilyn. A little about perseverance because we all know that Rio is not her first Olympics and with that we should learn about hard work. We should realize that dreams may be set on the clouds but are brought into reality, with your own sweat and tears, here on Earth. That was just proven by this athlete and when asked if she will retire she quickly said that she misses the "barbel" and cannot wait to go back training. She vows to train her hardest, and to bring home the GOLD in the Tokyo Olympics. Can you see the heart there? I was telling my sister how much I admired her when she said she expected a bronze. She knew it--she knows her capacity, she knew she was going to win, and if she says she's going to do all she can to get the GOLD, I know she means it. 

With every interview she's given, she has not failed to thank the Lord, and I admire her even more for that. It's like when Manny Pacquio never forgets to kneel on the ring, because no glory is deserved if not the for the Lord. Hidilyn is a good example and she gives everyone a good reminder of how simple it is to show gratitude. Her homecoming was well-anticipated, but she arrives, humble as ever, clad in her PAF GOA Blues and unkempt hair. For a moment there I remembered my dad who during his time was very strict with PAF women about their hair--it should be short or you have to tie your hair all the time. Anyway, I really hope that she becomes an inspiration to all, because she has been to me. In her presscon she dedicates her win to her mother, who is her biggest fan, and she calls on all other athletes to dream with her because it is POSSIBLE. To expect the unexpected, because losses can be wins--and bronzes can become silvers if God wills it. 

Anyway, there are 10 more days left in the RIO Olympics and we have five more athletes with the chance for a medal. Let's continue to expect the unexpected. 

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

#PokemonNO vs #PokemonGo

Last Saturday, PokemonGo finally launched in the country. People had been waiting for it, since it was illegally released a month ago, but it's officially here, and people have gone crazy. It's so Pinoy too, to already have poke-humor going around, look at the nicknames they've given to the characters. Quite clever huh? Anyway, a month ago, this post was on my wall:

Last paragraph translates: 
So I have a question, who among my friends that are my age, has downloaded Pokemon Go?

Years ago, I left London ahead of my family, to start Dentistry school. Because of this, I was not there when my sisters all got hooked on Pokemon. A year later, they all got home with their Gameboys and I couldn't relate. So when this Pokemon Go craze started to make noise, I still couldn't relate. My sisters were laughing at me and were saying it's because I'm old, so they felt sorry for me. But some of my friends in America started playing it and said it's quite fun. Anyway, I started hash-taging #PokemonNo to my sisters and friends--only to find out it's a legit hashtag. Try it now. Some of the posts are hilarious. 

Last Saturday, the game finally launched in the country. The delay had everyone anticipating, including me, so in between patients I decided to download it. And during my final patient, as I was waiting for his cement to harden, I caught Charmander. Haha! 


Oh no! The funny thing too is that for a minute I thought that my phone is like that xBox accessory so I waved it to the "imaginary" location of the Charmander, like a wand. When I saw the illustration I laughed at myself and finally caught me my first Pokemon. My patient didn't even know what was happening. Anyway, when my patient left, I discovered that there are no other Pokemon in the clinic so I decided the game is boring. But on our way home, I gave my phone to my assistant and we caught about seven from Timog Avenue to Pasig. I even got a Hitmonlee while loading up on gas and I finally realized it is fun. 

It feels stupid to do it walking around like a zombie, but it's fun in the car. So I think my playing will be limited to stationary public visits (i.e. dining) and car chases for now.

PokemonNO vs PokemonGo

Like most things there is a good and bad for everything. When I was still playing Clash of Clan (breaking news, I no longer am) it was good because I made great friends who even became my patients and the game really kept me occupied in a good way. But it was too demanding and for people who have no control, it proved to be really bad. The same goes with this game. 

  • It's disruptive. I've seen in the news that there was one politician who caught someone playing the game while he was giving a speech. That's very disrespectful and I can imagine this happening in the workplace or in classroom (anywhere really) so I hope you do not allow this to happen. Simply, you shouldn't allow it to disrupt your life--period. Do not let it take away your quality/personal time with family and friends, unless catching Pokemon is actually your means of bonding with them, 
  • It's dangerous. This is dangerous if you are walking blindly (while stuck on the screen of your phone) and rather deadly if you are going to do it while driving. Only do it the driving thing if you have someone to play for you, but please do not Poke n Drive. 
  • It's bad for mobile data and battery life. This is my biggest concern because I left the clinic at a 100% and got home with 20% left. That's about more than hour of use so say goodbye to your battery if you are going to start career out of this. 
  • It takes control. Have you seen the zombie-like videos of people walking or running towards a location to a catch a Pokemon? I think it's silly and people should never allow themselves to be controlled like that. 

  • It's fun and easy. It's actually quite easy to play, but I haven't tried battling in gyms so I don't know. At the moment, I am not pressured to catch em all. My motto is to catch em when they come to me, conveniently. Haha. But anyway, it's quite simple and it can be played by kids and the kids at heart. 
  • It's encourages exercise. I have heard a lot of stories about people finally walking significant distances just to catch Pokemon. It seems like nothing but if you used to live a sedentary lifestyle and you're suddenly walking about 5 to 10 kilometers per day, that is amazing progress. While you're at it, how about increasing your pace and turning a scavenging leisurely walk to a semi-run?  My other friends says her sister take her little kid to Poke walk. He's out to catch em all and she's there to log STEPS so it's a win-win for the two of them and they get to bond too. Who knew a game can do this, right?
  • It encourages socialization. This is true for people of all ages. My friend said that when she and her husband are in the mall, everyone's helping each other out and people are making friends while catching Pokemon. For children with autism, I read that those who play PokemonGo are learning to interact with other players--and something like that is equivalent to a breakthrough--one that you cannot simply ignore as nonsense. 
  • It's good for kids in the hospital. Apart from children with autism, many hospital personnel say that the game really helps children in the hospital by lifting their somber moods. It gives them something to do and encourages them to walk around, go around and be more "physical" so in this aspect, it is definitely a big GO. 

To date, my Pokedex has a count of 18 Pokemon. Pardon me, I am advancing at such a slow pace, but I'm sure I'll eventually catch 'em all (even if it takes me forever). To the other trainers, good luck, stay safe and most of all ENJOY!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Visiting Balay Dako in Tagaytay

It's always nice to go on a road trip, even short ones. So for my mom's birthday, we all took a leave from work and spent her special day with her. Cool thing about her birthday, we created a Facebook Page and we invited friends and family to leave messages, photos and video greetings for her. The night before her day, we had dinner and coffee, and when we got home we unveiled the surprise. We sent her an invite to the group and when she saw it, she screamed: "158 members?" She was so ecstatic and she spent the whole night going through the posts.

Anyway for her actual birthday, we planned a road trip to Tagaytay and we went to Balay Dako. Oh the place was lovely. The view of Taal Lake is so nice and the staff, I'd have to give two thumbs up to the staff--but I'll do that later. Right now, I want to talk about the few things we tried on their menu. 

Bulalo Na Baka

None of us are fans of "bulalo" but my Papa was. Every time we go to Tagaytay we go to his favorite place and he enjoys his lovely bowl (plus a take home). We ordered this because it was nice and cold and outside and we needed warm soup. We also ordered this because you cannot go to Tagaytay without "bulalo" and it was a good reminder of Papa. Fortunately, it was a very good. I told you, none of us are fans of "bulalo" but the soup is amazing and the meat is tender. None of us attacked the marrow, though, that was Papa's job, but I sure had bowl-upon-bowl of soup and perfectly crisp vegetables. 

Crispy Pata
Php 680

This is my favorite of everything we ordered. I don't always look for crispy pata in a Filipino restaurant because I think it's all the same but this is absolutely different. It's probably the best crispy pata I've had and it's all because of the "pink" skin that you can see peeping shyly from my humble photo. This deep-fried pork shank is left to brine in salt, ginger, lemongrass and bay leaf overnight. This gives the meat deeper flavor and better texture, leaving it pink. Do not fret, though, the meat is perfectly cooked. The pink skin makes it perfect and I say you have to try it, to know what I mean. 

Lechon Na Baboy
Php350 250 grams; Php 650 500 grams; Php1,200 1 kilo

Stuffed with lemongrass and tamarind leaves, this suckling pig (lechon) is very tasty. It may be a little salty for me, but it really depends on how your like your food to be, because my mom favors salt and she loved this. I liked it too, but would rather it wasn't as salty. Anyway I tried the sauce, but I like with better without because I didn't want to destroy the natural flavors of lemongrass and tamarind. It is tender and the meat melts in your mouth--then you have the skin, perfectly thin and crisp, you hear it break when you bite. 

Ensaladang Mangga at Kamatis
Php 210

You can't go wrong with ensaladang mangga at kamatis and this is my sister's favorite, so whenever we go to a Filipino restaurant, this will definitely be on the list. Like my "laing" this is a staple. I like this because I don't think I've ever had ensaladang mangga at kamatis with mango cuts that are this big. The chunkiness make it more like you're eating green mangoes, rather than the "salad", so it's fun. Also, I am not a fan of fresh tomatoes except on Mexican food, so I like that this is not pre-mixed so you can pick out the mangoes and onions, only. 

As you can see, we didn't order a lot, but we were surprisingly stuffed. We couldn't even finish the bowl of bulalo, so we had to take the rest home. We got a little disappointed when we ordered laing (my favorite) and chicken skin and we were told that it's not available though. That's two dishes on the menu, so that's quite bad. Anyway, it was still a very pleasurable visit. The view of Taal Lake was nice and it's funny because we tried to open up the windows to let the breeze in, but decided to shut it tight because we began freezing when the cold air decided to blow harder. 

Anyway, since it was my mom's birthday, upon entry I asked the receptionist if they have a cake (or anything) for birthdays. She did not say NO but she said "Let me see what we can do." Later on, our waiter Macky came up to and said, "Just let me know when, I have the simple greeting ready. I'm sorry we don't have cake." And I thanked him with my warmest smile. At my signal, he came to our table and handed my mom this plate and greeted her. She was so surprised. 

You see, it's a simple ice sculpture and with a Happy Birthday written on the plate. It's nothing lavish--in fact, it's inedible, but we all smiled when Macky brought it to the table with his warm greeting because the truth is they could have said "We don't have cake", but they didn't and that makes this extra special. When people go the extra mile, you feel really special. It was my mom's birthday and we've been trying to make her feel special so the added support from the staff was truly appreciated. 

Anyway, right before we left there was a heavy downpour of rain outside so we got stranded. It gave us a chance to checkout their store (and we got jams and garlic peanuts). When the skies cleared, we all headed out, and started looking for a place to have coffee. Overall, it was a great visit. 

post signature Balay Dako
Tagaytay, Nasugbu Highway
Tagaytay, 4120 Cavite City
Open 7am - 9pm

Friday, August 5, 2016

I Told You I Wont Snapchat, I'm Not A Millenial

One day a friend who's of the same age as I, ranted to everyone and said, "I hate millennials. I hate how they feel so entitled..." And when I read it, I laughed because I knew for a fact that we are part of the bracket. 

Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028. The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Source:

To be honest, I want to be classified as Generation X because I feel that my heart belongs to that group (I am disaffected and directionless--aka Lainie Pierce from Reality Bites) but we cannot mess with data. Anyway, when my friend said that, I wanted to tell her right away "We're actually millennials too", but I waited for someone else to say it (and I seconded it). 

The thing about millennials is that they're too busy. Here's an example: they're on every messaging app and will surely be on Telegram (playing werewolves with their friends). At one point in my life I had access to BBM, iMessage, Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat and FB Messenger until I got truly exhausted and decided to pool in everyone else into two venues: Viber and FB Messenger (because it's kinda built-in). Maintaining all of those is just too exhausting, but my sisters are still happily jumping from one messaging app to another, like they're not even breaking sweat. I'm in awe. But that's the thing about them--young people have too much energy and when you're out in a bar, it is most evident because you see the energized individuals in packs. Most people my age are bordering "Titas of Manila" levels and while we still have stored up ATP (hope you remember your Biology), we would prefer the more laid back "nightout" with friends. Yung "chill" lang--and these nightouts end at midnight (or probably earlier). 

Oh Yeah Snapchat

I almost forgot. Anyway, I think everyone is on Snapchat based on the "filters" I see on Instagram and Facebook. The filters are quite fun in a one-seating kind of usage.

1) I don't really need the filters.  I remember playing with Snapchat with my cousins and it was real fun when they made me look like Iza Calzado and we turned our other cousin to Ogie Alcasid. That was hilarious. Filters are fun to try one time--on someone else's phone, but not on mine.

2) It seems redundant. Despite how interesting everything seems--creating another account for PHOTOS/VIDEOS is too redundant for me. "But it doesn't save," my sisters argued. "It will be gone after 24 hours and you cannot screencap because the app will tell you if someone does." 

3) I can't handle it anymore. At one point, I guess, you say "enough is enough" and it's just going take up space on my phone and use up all my data.

Well, no means no--but HEY! Yesterday Instagram Stories launched and it's finally justified my reason to stay out of Snapchat and just leave all the fun to the true millennials. I say TRUE because I feel like a crossbreed between a Millennial and Generation X --- so I have no true persona. Meanwhile, I tried the new app and it's just fine. But I can see myself loading it up on videos and images when I'm at special event.

Anyway, what an engagement gift to Miranda Kerr huh?

P.S. I don't hate millennials okay? I'm a millennial and my sisters are all millennials. Therefore, I love millennials. I also do not hate Snapchat or Miranda Kerr or everyone who's on Telegram. This is just a blog post.
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