Monthly Archives: February 2009

Thank you

A few years ago, I started doing a weekly “Thank You” list. Every end of the week, I list down the top five to ten things that I was thankful for.

I did that for a few months, then I stopped. Mostly out of laziness, and the fact that I lost interest in blogging around that time. Back then, it was no big deal.

Recently my cousin started a blog that listed in detail the things she was thankful for. It was, by all means, an account of her everyday but she wrote it in a way that was nothing but positivity and praise and thankfulness. Every little thing about that day that made her realize what a great life she had, she wrote down, and every sentence began with a “salamat.”

In most Filipino languages, “salamat” translates to “thank you,” and you pretty much use it the same way as you would in English or in any other language. I find that using it instead of thanks, thank you  or even ty feels so much more genuine and heartfelt.

Reading my cousin’s blog makes me realize again that there are so many things in our life that we take for granted. Things we wouldn’t normally notice until it’s been taken from us, and usually in a very abrupt manner. It makes you think that the problems we encounter are so few as opposed to the blessings we receive. It’s just a matter of how we look at it and how we react to it.

I am going to try to be more attentive to these things, and start doing my own thank you entries. I know I can’t start on it full blast at once, but I’m going to take it slow. I have been inspired and humbled by my cousin (who seemed to have inherited our grandfather’s serene disposition), and I hope that I’ll never forget the things in this world that I am thankful for.

Thank you for the good night’s rest. Thank you for being able to check my email and other online stuff early in the morning. Thank you for the safe trip from home to the LRT station via tricycle. Thank you for the walk that serves as my daily exercise. Thank you for letting me get my favorite spot on the train and for the music that kept me entertained the whole trip. Thank you for getting me to the office and not be late. Thank you for letting my computer restart fast after it unexpectedly shut down. Thank you for the breakfast of siomai and coffee. Thank you for letting me finish me work quickly and noticing the mistakes that I was able to correct ASAP.

Thank you for the good lunch and Ate Tess’ looking out for us. Thank you for the occasional entertainment in between work. Thank you for the help in making the team’s work faster. Thank you for my teammates especially Marc and Maya for being so diligent. Thank you for merienda. Thank you for being able to finish my tasks. Thank you for the walk with Winston and the safe trip home. Thank you for the seat on the LRT and the little reminder that technology, albeit convenient, is far from perfect. Thank you for the entertaining shows on TV. Thank you for the ates at the eatery downstairs and for the family who owns the store below. Thank you for letting Nuks get to Candelaria safe & Miks home safely. Thank you for the chat with my friends online and relieving me of any doubts that I had. Thank you for the books I read. Thank you for today.


Booking Through Thursday

  • Hardcover? Or paperback?
  • Illustrations? Or just text?
  • First editions? Or you don’t care?
  • Signed by the author? Or not?

Admittedly, I’m 50-50 on most of these. I know the value of books that are hardcover, illustrated, first editions or signed, and occasionaly, I give in to the temptation of having them. I have two copies of some of my books: one for keeping, and one for reading. Though given the cost of the first choices (again, hardcover, illustrated, first editions or signed), I often fall back to the latter ones: paperback, just text, subsequent editions and unsigned.

Frankly, I’m more for the joy of the story than the prestige of the collection, and I’m going to be re-reading a book, I know it gets worn down over time. So what’s the point in owning something that’s a collectible but I can only look at it?

Though amongst my pride & joy is a paperback copy of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust that is signed by him and has a drawing of a shooting star.

He was rather tired by the time he signed this, though I was among the first ten people whose books he signed that day

A letter of thanks

A few months ago, my classmate Kat (yep, same nick as mine) and I were talking about the nearly lost art of traditional letter writing. Nowadays, just about the only thing you get via snail mail are bills, notices and things that don’t really make you happy.

In the last three years, I probably have received about less than ten mail (discounting bills): a couple of postcards that I asked for from friends who went abroad, notices for packages I need to pick up at the post office and a letter or two (from Google Adsense that isn’t worth anything now since my account’s closed off; my SSS ID after 145 years of waiting; my Civil Service exam permit… heck nothing interesting at all).

I used to have penpals from the United States via Animerica magazine, and we’d write to each other on a nearly weekly basis. During vacation, I’d write letters to my roommate, my best friend or my former boyfriend, sometimes to this guy I had a crush on. The boys didn’t really write back much, maybe one letter for every five I sent. Still, it was nice to get something from the mail.

Anyway, we decided it would be nice to send each other something via good old fashioned mail. So we (Kat, myself and some other of our classmates from college) exchanged addresses and vowed to send each other something ASAP.

I have yet to do something about this, but recently, Kat posted a meme on her LJ that I decided to do as well.

She hit two birds with one stone here: making something and writing me a letter. Nice! It was also interesting to see her handwriting. I feel that I don’t know how the handwriting of most people I know (at least the ones I met after college anyway) looks like.

I wouldn’t actually call today a bad day, but I was feeling a bit sad earlier on due to some realizations about life and relationships. I felt a bit better when Den reminded me that today was our anniversary (we, along with our friends Allan and Ching celebrate our friendship every 25th of February) and that we’ve been friends for nine years now. I had dinner with my brother, had some ice cream and watched Time Warp, went online and talked to my friends, and I thought, life’s good. Why was I moping earlier?

Then Kat’s letter came and it just made my day.

So I realized that today is a good day after all, and I’m thankful. 🙂

PS. If you want to receive something from me, read this then leave a comment here.

Laughing all the way

I must have looked weird as I made my way to the train station from the office. I had my music playing through my phone’s headset and occasionally, I’d be mouthing the words to the song that was playing. That wasn’t what probably made me look crazy. What it was is the fact that I’d suddenly grin, or laugh.

Now if you were walking along with friends, it probably would be normal. Not in this case.
From the office to the train station, I kept coming across things or people that made me smile, or, in some cases, laugh.

Today, it was this: I was reminded that it was Ash Wednesday one I stepped out of the office compound. The church next door was packed, which normally happened only on Thursdays. The people who came from that direction had black cross marks on their foreheads made of soot. For a predominantly Catholic country, this is a tradition that must be done. (The discussion on why I don’t is another story to be told at another time)

I didn’t really pay much attention… except when this young nursing student crossed my path. Call me rude but I couldn’t help but stare at the cross on her forehead. It seemed to me that the priest had been a tad generous with the ash. Not only was is so thick and black, but it was big! I think it covered most of her forehead.

At least her boyfriend matched her. He also had a very big and very black cross on his forehead.

Yesterday’s sunset

From the train platform. The tall buildings are Eastwood City, Libis.

Being Pinoy through food

For a while now, I’ve been wondering what’s the best way to describe the Filipinos. When you watch travel shows, most countries can be easily identified by their food, their costumes, their speech.

When you say Filipino… well, I can say that a Pinoy will have his or her own definition depending on where they came from. The old debate of what should be the national language is still up in the air and possibly no closer to being resolved than say, getting a cure for the common cold.

Be that as it may, it’s always interesting to see foreigners react to the Philippines: either through a travel show such as Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” or Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” (we’ll also be seeing Bobby Chin visit the country soon); or through various blogs and comments online. I once talked to a lady from one of the middle American states (Arkansas, I think) who asked me about the country and was apologizing because she thought we still lived very primitively.

I was amused yet somewhat insulted too, but readily answered “Ma’am, had we lived in trees, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now.” I proceeded to tell her about how we live in the city, how I’m updated about the series Lost, that I just had a Big Mac the other day and gave her some websites she could visit to learn more about us. She was also surprised to learn that I have never been out of the country and credited Sesame Street as a huge part of my English language education.

Granted there’s still a lot of not-so-good stuff about the Philippines (specifically politics, but then again, when is that a good thing anywhere?) but the good stuff is more than all worth it.

What is Filipino?

Anthony Bourdain asked this question to just about every person he met during the show, and more or less didn’t get a satisfactory answer until the end.

“Geography plays a prominent role in what you eat in the Philippines, maybe more so than in other places.”

I have to agree on this. Each region boasts of something that is way better than any other region’s even if you can find it there. For example, I’m a big fan of the Zambales mangoes, and am not ashamed to say that I don’t think Cebu mangoes outclass them. I’m not being rude, but basing it on my experience, especially since I grew up eating Zambales mangoes and not Cebu’s. I’m sure if it were the other way around, I’d be raving about Cebu’s mangoes right now.

Claude Tayag said, “You cannot be a Filipino first until you become Kapampangan first. Become yourself first.”

A lot of this is being taken out of context. Watching this particular part, I feel no offense when Claude Tayag said this. In fact, I can clearly understand what he meant. Many Pinoys belong to a specific region, with their parents and grandparents coming from the province. Myself is a product of the North with a bit of the South thrown in, so I’m more partial to places like Zambales, Pampanga, Baguio and… Bicol than anywhere else. Feed me something from other places and I’d say “Oh, that’s better in *insert place I love here*” This is were regionalism, a trait that is very much ingrained in every Pinoy. Wag na mag deny, dahil totoo naman ito di ba? We feel pride in where we come from, and we staunchly defend it.

What I feel that Claude is trying to say is the mere fact of embracing your roots — be you Kapampangan, Sambali, Cebuano, Bicolano, Davaeno — is the key to being Filipino. I don’t think it would be easy to define who we are if we don’t embrace who our ancestors are.

Face it, our country is one big melting pot, hugely influenced by Spanish and American culture. I always thought that if we weren’t heavily colonized by them, we’d be something like Malaysia or Thailand, given that we have similar roots, but since we were, well, this is who we are.

In fact, the way I see it, it’s a pretty much universal attitude. Anthony Bourdain said it, “I’m a New Yorker first, American second.” If you’ve watched so many travel and cooking shows like No Reservations, you’ll notice it. People, no matter where they live, are quick to say that their version of this food is better than any version you’ll find in their country… or anywhere else.

If anything, this episode of No Reservations would make you ask, “Who are the Pinoys, really?” I have long wondered why we didn’t have a culture where old traditions are very well preserved alongside the modern world. Look at the Japanese, the Chinese and the Koreans. Look at the Malaysians, the Thais and the Indonesians. Their past co-exists harmoniously with the present and when you ask their people who they are, they can tell you.

Perhaps I am not as lost as Augusto is, having grown up being aware of my roots, but there’s still the slight confusion of who my country is in the bigger scale of things.

Maybe, that’s what makes us who we are.

I say…
There’s so much I want to say about this episode of No Reservations. I mean, it’s about the Philippines! How can I not comment on just about every aspect of the program?

But I must practice restraint. I don’t want to end up babbling all over the place (which I am wont to do in many cases). I love, love, love this episode, not just because it’s about the Philippines, but also because Bourdain touched a chord in me about our country and its people. One thing I learned about watching No Reservations is that if it’s good, Tony will say so. If it isn’t, he’ll say it too.

Granted, many people have commented that Augusto feels so restrained and isn’t as enthusiastic as he was in his video — and that they could’ve done better. Yeah, we all have that thinking, but hey, Augusto sent his entry, he got picked. You didn’t. We are all critics, but it has it’s time and place. Bottomline, the crew got what the needed, Augusto got to go home and the Philippines is once again brought to the world’s attention but this time in a very good light.

I think that says a lot.

Tony Bourdain loves sisig. Heck, he just about loved everything he had, including the pinapaitan, which personally took me a long time to even partially like.

Yehey, no balut. Not all Filipinos eat balut *waves hand* but I do love the fried day old. Yay for chicken balls! Yay for dampa!

Calamansi FTW! Neil Gaiman mentioned it in his blog when he visited back in 2005.

He referred to Binondo as “the oldest Chinatown in the world”, which I’m sure got the nod of many Chinese-Filipinos. I’ve always wondered why it’s never been featured in any of the travel sites I’ve been to, especially since Ivan said it’s as old as the city, which makes it some hundreds of years old. I love Binondo. I often went there with my grandparents, where my grandfather is often mistaken for another Chinoy (even though he doesn’t speak a word of Chinese).

I had a great time watching the Cebu segment. I remember my first time going to Tabo-an. We went there hours before our flight back to Manila to buy some danggit. We didn’t know that the smell of the dried fish would stick to us. Needless to say, we sat in the plane hoping that we wouldn’t be kicked out by the pilot halfway over the ocean.

You can never go wrong with lechon. I think it’s safe to say that even vegetarians break a bit when they are faced with lechon (and if they don’t, I marvel at their self-control).

Photo from: No Reservations Facebook

Once again, I say, I want Anthony Bourdain’s job.

Interesting reads:
Anthony Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork
Colin on No Reservations Philippines He’s from Pennsylvania and reading his entry makes me want to find a way to send him some sisig.

Repost: How to lose weight

Here’s something I wrote last year (or was it two years ago?). A humorous (?) piece on how to lose weight. Take it with a grain of salt and enjoy!

How to Lose Weight (and maybe save some money in the progress)

1. Get a second job. Part time, full time, it’s up to you. Juggle the work schedules between each job. Figure out the commute from one location to another. Watch the pounds melt away!
2. Eat two full meals a day (breakfast and dinner), and Skyflakes only in between.
3. Drink only water, with the occasional coffee (3-in-1) or softdrink. Unless someone says he/she will treat you to a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.
4. Walk. Walk to where you need to go. If you live near the office, walk. If the distance is the same as that of RCBC to HSBC, walk. Walk from Buendia to Ayala MRT. If you get tired, stop by one of the food stores along the way and grab a drink of water.
5. On your workdays, sleep eight hours. But it will be cut into a three-hour and four hour sleep, in between your shifts and jobs. The one hour is the one where you fight getting up and repeatedly hit the snooze button.
6. Say goodbye to your social life, because you’re too busy with work. Naturally on your restdays, you’d rather be sleeping.
7. Pray. Pray that you won’t get sick with what you’re doing. Pray that you’ll still have some of your friends even after all the times you never get to see them. Pray that you’ll still have your sanity at the end of each day.

Original post here

I don’t remember why I wrote this though. :p

BTT: Storage

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question is suggested by Kat:

I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?”

Well this is a surprise! My question was picked for this week's BTT! I changed my blog recently so the link on my name won't work. I haven't gotten around to letting everybody know (just a handful at best) that I've changed blogs, so, my apologies!

Ok, I tend to be a bit cluttered with things, but cluttered in my own orderly way (or should it be "organized in my own clutterly way"?). One thing I've very OC about is my books, and they can't be scattered all over the place. My books are currently in two houses: the one where I live now, and my grandparents' home.

Taking a look at my books, I realize that I put them mostly by author, then by series (first book to the leftmost, or at the bottom since most of my books are stored lying down). I also tend to put them by genre: romance here, sci-fi there, fantasy over on the other side (or wherever there's space). Non-fiction books are on a different area and are arranged by topic. My comics are arranged by author and by series as well.

Unconciously, I further arrange them by order of favorite. Say if I like a certain author, s/he goes to the part of the shelf that's easier to reach. Her/his books are also arranged by favorite and so on…

Here's a few of my books… there's still a lot more on the other shelf and at my grandparents' home 😀

I once spent the whole day cataloging my books and figuring out how to pack them when I moved. There was a lot, and I keep adding to them.

up, up and away!

I haven’t attended a flag ceremony in a long time. Today, we were asked to attend because our office was hosting it for the entire division. My shift was supposed to start at 10am and end at 7pm, but I started it early today. I still had to leave at 7 though.

It was interesting. I didn’t know that there have been changes to the flag ceremony, like the panatang makabayan was no longer being recited (though I don’t know if this was done in schools as well. After a few words from one of the officers, we sang “Pilipinas Kong Mahal” (I was a bit ashamed that I struggled over the words, while I saw museum director Jeremy Barnes singing it with no difficulties at all).

14th Hot Air Balloon Fest
I went with my cousin Miel and her family to Clark for the lat day of the Hot Air Balloon fest yesterday. I spent the night at their house after we watched Boyce Avenue. Dinner was best described as homemade gourmet courtesy of Ate Angge (salamat, Ate!) and we spent the rest of the night just hanging out. I watch Nodame Cantabile on Animax and didn’t fall asleep until midnight. Woke up around 2 am and got ready to leave for Clark.

We sort of got lost on the way but we arrived safe and sound at the venue. I thought I was going to have some problem with the ticket as mine was the one printed out by Ticketnet, but aside from an odd look by the ticket guy, he let me through. Weee.

I felt like a kid. There was so many things to look at, so many things to try. I wanted to ride the balloon, climb in the jet or the tanks, people watch, eat all sorts of food…

It was a good day, if a bit warm towards midday. The weather was great, allowing the balloons to fly. It was amazing to see them rise to the sky. Had some delicious German sausages for breakfast, expensive, but worth it.

Notice the guy on the right, both his hat and apron

Also checked out the exhibit by the army, navy and airforce. Got to hold a bazooka, but I wasn’t able to ride the jet.

When we were heading back, we saw a gathering of vintage car enthusiasts. Volkswagon, Fords, Toyotas, Mitsubishis, etc. It was really interesting to see them all tricked out and in excellent working condition.

It was a good morning. Will definitely have to check it out next year again.

More pictures here.