April 19, 2014 | In: Leisure

Foreign-sounding resto

There is this foreign-sounding restaurant along 6 Rizal Avenue, Poblacion, San Pablo City, just outside the cathedral. Si Christina Gateau Sans Rival. My eldest sister, who often visits San Pablo, had been here many times over with her good friend who resides in the area.

IMG_1530We visited the place after our 12th station of the cross last Maundy Thursday. It was an early lunch. The place has nice staff, young enough to be my college students. They were warm, all smiles to customers. At the outset, we loved the place because of its Mediterranean aura: walls made up of bricks, lamps plastered on walls or hanging as chandeliers, seats are cushioned red while tables and parts of the wall are just right in yellow, paintings adorn the walls as well.

It took less than 15 minutes for our order to be delivered. We ordered their IMG_1532austere vegetable salad with vinaigrette dressing and pumpkin soup as prelude to main course baby back ribs with brown rice and steamed mixed veggies. We found them okay, matching our food standards; but it was the main course that wowed us more:  the ribs were so tender and tasted so sweet, we could ask for another serving if only it wasn’t a day for moderation.

We also tried their cold coffee latte and freshly brewed iced tea, which I loved much with its prudent bits mixing with the cold drink. We capped the meal by trying their version of sans rival, which, when given a rating, was measly 6 for us (in a 10-point scale, with 1 as the lowest). It wasn’t comparable with Goldilocks’s or even Pantoja’s. My niece Anne also tried their red velvety cup cake; verdict: not good enough.

IMG_1542Short of saying, this resto thrives for its main course, not for its dessert. But it’s worth another visit. We’ll go back for its yummy baby back ribs!

The place’s well kept despite its limited space. It has an intimate and personal appeal.

[A complete photo album describing this resto may be found in my FB account, uploaded as Visita Iglesia around Laguna.]

April 9, 2014 | In: Family

Summer

It’s summer and during lunchtime and on my way back to work, the heat is unbearable; you can feel the dust and dirt mixing with the hot afternoon air. You want to stay longer inside the office, where the air is much cooler; but you can’t stay long because you’re the only one there. A cool moment deserves a company. Just like anything in life. You need someone with whom to share your happiness. You need a support group or a family or a circle of friends.

* * *

March had been a tough month. It was my birthday month. We have been going home often lately. By home I mean our hometown. March was the birthday month of most of us in the family: Anne, myself, Kuya Lito, Biboy. Whenever we go back home, things revolve around family, food, and fun. There is always a moment for talk and laughs. I always love going back home. I must do this often this summer.

* * *

IMG_1420Food binds us together. Ate Len loves to cook our favorite okoy.  That’s a good appetizer or side dish. I would often request it. Che, my youngest sis, would often assume the role of making the table look good. She could be the family’s own chef. There is something about food and family gatherings. I want to believe that we want to make a reason to be together by sitting down as a family and partaking the same foods we love to prepare and eat.

What we eat reflects the kind of family we have. We have favorite foods in the family that were passed on to us by generations past. Whenever we eat our loved foods, we remember Lola, Tiya Bure, and Nanay. We remember the summers of our childhood when fiestas were the highlights of school vacation. We remember the utmost care they had exerted to prepare morcon and other fiesta staples.

We remember the summer break waiting for fiesta ng santacruzan, when the entire barangay would all go out into the streets to end the lutrina and eat and join the revelry.

I miss those summers, when I was not working and was simply someone taking part in the fun with nothing to worry and nothing to lose. I miss being laidback and carefree.

I miss our old way of celebrating fiestas and santacruzan. I miss those days when summer was something I anticipate because there was nothing to do. Those were the days.

March 2, 2014 | In: Angst, Life Essays

Now!

The week had been tiring and, to an extent, draining but enriching.

It started with me renewing my passport as a preparation for an institutional trip this coming April. But despite this stressful life, I would often find time to visit my favorite spa to release all the tensions away.

My morning classes during weekdays and graduate class on Saturdays make a perfect balance. Office works would mean dealing with papers and attending meetings. One cluster meeting we had just attended took us to Manila. We plotted out what to do the coming months. So planning is integral to work the way I plan for my personal life.

My personal project is coming to life more and more. Yesterday I found time practicing how to drive in a nearby vacant lot. This afternoon I will have my fourth session in the driving school. This happens while my undergrad and graduate students prepare for their research proposal. What an apt metaphor! While I set my mind to finally drive on my own, there they are also laboring on their class project, with the same difficulty I know.

In between, I still read, despite the many papers I must still check and other small and big works on the side. Right now I continue to read Ceres Doyo’s Human Face, a compilation of her PDI columns and Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which is an easy-read memoir. The latter relates to my recent drive to drive. Reason why I enjoy reading it.

Murakami would say: often we get tired and we do not want to go on with our goal or pursuit of a dream. But when we think about how lucky we are to have a dream and have the opportunity to pursue it, it is still better to pursue it than to drag on and stop. That is my inspiration. And so go I will pursue that dream. I must drive. Now!

February 23, 2014 | In: Angst, Family

The Most Important Things

Life has been going on well lately.

Save for the pressures of work and the challenge of understanding people, life has been generally kind and exciting. I wake up early Monday to Thursday to attend to my early classes in the morning. The whole day would be spent doing all the work in the office. I enjoy going home during lunch time as a way to break the difficulty of attending meetings and dealing with queries.

IMG_1369I would usually spend late afternoon up to early evening staying alone on my desk, reading my students’ papers or planning what to do next. Life is not too leisurely but when I think about going home every night peacefully to the comforts of my family, I would feel I am too blessed: far from what others are doing or saying or thinking, far from the unreal meaning of being friends or being concerned.

Home is one of such important things. The evening would end  up me watching with my loved ones our favorite tele-novelas. They soothe the mind, relaxing me from a day’s hard work. Lately I have been sleeping early, except when I have an important thing to finish. Weekends allow me to stay up late. Grad class comes late on Saturdays.

Sunday is spent attending driving school. It is never too late learning a new trick. All this time I have been avoiding the need to drive. The last time I had attempted to learn driving was like two years ago. It takes humility and patience to be able to learn something I should have learned a long time ago. Now I know that I should be patient too teaching my students how to write or do research. The skill does not come easy. Sometimes I want to think that driving is also a gift. The skill to do it is like a talent you nurture, the same manner I nurture my flair for writing or my passion for research.

The passion to do things is another important value, add to it the fire to keep the interest burning. A few weeks from now, on time for my birthday, I hope I can drive on my own. It is a sense of independence. It is an accomplishment for this person who would always avoid courting dangers.

Life has been going on well. It is moving on light when I think about what really matters to me. No distractions could ever make me get out of focus.

It was my niece Cielo,  who introduced me to John Green. I could remember I was that time talking about the Millenials in my Organizational Communication classes, both in the undergrad and graduate school. Cielo said John Green is an author for the Millenials. So there, without much hesitation, I grabbed my first Green. And I didn’t look back since then!

Probably most of us have already read his “The Fault in Our Stars.” It will, in fact, be shown as a movie this June. Readers of this blog site may have already known by now his larger-than-life characters Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters (Gus), two cancer patients who have fallen in love with each other at a time of pain and uncertainty. This may be too late a review of that book. This is post-John Green syndrome!

cdo j greenI could remember as well bringing that book while attending a research conference at CDO sometime July of last year. In between listening to paper presentations I was there reading about Hazel and Gus and their heartbreaking story. That addiction saw me up until we were there in the local airport waiting for our flight out of that province. The following weekend I was done reading this popular Green novel. It was, true to another Millenial term, unputdownable!

Back in the office I had the chance to share with an office mate the merits and beauty of the book. By the way, that office mate was also with me during the CDO conference. I was able to recruit her to go and jump onto the bandwagon. Reading, as you see, just like research, is something we can rub to the other. [LOL!] That time I was done with the book, she did a marathon too, so that moment we were exchanging views about the book, she was through with it also.

I could remember sharing these points about the book to her. To an extent, the book would always go philosophical, intentionally. Like, the mention of the universe as something that would always want to be noticed. Isn’t that the premise of pain? To keep us alert? So we could notice the universe?

For me, the last few chapters when Augustus died, was where Green was at his utmost best as a writer. He described pain through Hazel’s words.  That was too angst-y. Hazel thanked Gus for that “forever given at a very short time” or to that effect. ‘Forever’ is constructed here as a patch or an episode from one’s life. So it could be short-lived. It is described here as a moment of bliss with someone we care so much about. Enough for me to recall one favorite singer’s definition of forever as a place. Even then, forever is a personal, subjective construct, as all constructs are.  For Hazel, that moment with Gus, although short and quick, was her forever!

What makes Green great is his contemporary writing style. Not stiff. Raw. Staccato style at its finest! Truly Millenial.

The book would always mention about [in]finities and temporality/ies, faithful to its attempt to [re]define our concept of ‘forever.’ And it is consistent with its thrust to be philosophical despite its being obviously a commercial genre intended for young [Millenial] readers [or those acting and thinking like this generational cohort, such as moi]. Personally, despite its being popularized, I find the book intelligent. Like, by way of  illustration, that conversation on scrambled egg as stereo-typically a breakfast food. [That it must be eaten, customs would dictate, during breakfast only!] That is both fun and cute. Or, that premise on cancer cells as stubborn or pesky parts of us, often begging to be noticed. Or, another exemplar, that reference to existential blues as side effect of dying and not of cancer. [What's the diff?]

Finally, there’s that Venn diagram about virgins and one-legged cancer patient that I couldn’t understand. Gus was explaining this to Hazel one time after they had given in to that need or temptation to be too intimate. Maybe the textual person in me couldn’t decipher what that visual representations is trying to express. As always!

The last time I searched through Google images I saw the actor, who would play Gus, holding a cigarette, which is his metaphor for smoking or not smoking. Now it could picture out the texts well! Fanatics couldn’t wait more for the movie. This a film I would watch after I have fully read its book version. The more I would be critical, like most of us, to check the movie’s faithfulness with (or creative break-away from) the print counterpart. The excitement wouldn’t die down.

We’ll see the moving and real Hazel and Gus then. Finally! Alive.

December 29, 2013 | In: Reading Life, The Writing Life

Albom as Brown

If you are a Mitch Albom fanatic, you can notice his transformation in style so evident in his latest fictional novel “The First Phone Call from Heaven.”

Offhand, I have observed he sounds like Dan Brown here. Previously (in his earlier novels “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” and “For One More Day”), he simply describes and narrates life’s lessons through beautiful stories of faith and love, and, in the end, leads us as to how meanings can be drawn out from life-changing events. IMG_0917

But in this new novel, he tackles heaven as a concept, as a matter of faith, and as something historical.  He developed in the story a fictional town he called Coldwater. Here, one day, people began receiving calls from the dead. Is it a miracle? Is the phenomenon sending a spiritual message? Is it a hoax or a conspiracy?

One character, Sully Harding, a former pilot who spent some time in jail for a controversial crime he allegedly committed and who himself lost a wife (one of those dead calling through phone), is not convinced of this so called “miracle.”  He launched a silent investigation, which is the object of the entire novel. Here is where Albom sounds like Brown. This time he is solving a mystery and establishing proofs against it, a genre he has not tried before.

Albom described, as well, in details characters that populate Coldwater: media workers, religious leaders, police personnel, and the common folks, all of whom get intertwined into the “miracle” or mess the story aspires to resolve.

The novel has a historical twist too as Albom intersperses his story with actual vignettes from the life of Alexander Graham Bell, the famous inventor of the first telephone.  Anecdotes from his life draw parallelism to what the people of Coldwater are experiencing in the present. I particularly enjoy those snippets of facts about Bell’s competition with Thomas Alva Edison over intellectual property rights for the first phone.  The researcher in me got triggered again by this interesting episode in the life of Bell.

In the end, Sully discovers the truth; but, then, again what is the “real” truth about heaven? This you have to discover when you get to read this latest from Albom.

In a scale of 1-5 (with 5 as the highest), I give this latest opus by one of  my most  favorite writers (who crafts stories with that impressive Hemingway style) a 4.5 (with the remaining .5 for continual improvement onto his take of a new writing formula)!

December 23, 2013 | In: Angst, Work

Go further, Do more

2013 had been a great year. It had been a travel: from the struggles of work to  personal victories. It had been a personal leap. An idea that became a word, that transformed into action, that became real.

IMG_0969For the first time in many years, I have learned to fit in where I am not originally meant. I have struggled to fit in and enjoyed the process and was surprised by what turned out from it later. From there, I wanted to believe that I have emerged a better, more tolerant, and, to use a parlance, a multi-versed person. I have discovered, through it all, that the safe me could explore the un-thought and move on so I could do more.

Little did I know that I would go far from there. The recent turn of events made me realize the need to wait and the value of patience. It is true. Not simply an adage nor  mushy words of wisdom. It really pays to wait. To wait patiently like looking forward to a miracle at a time when it does not look like it is possible to happen.

In retrospect, good people and the forces of the universe, to sound like Coelho, would help you achieve what you want. If only you would stop complaining and expecting. If you would only stop being conscious of the future. If you would stop counting the cost.

Thank God. You give us every reason to believe that You know our dreams even before we can think of them.  Because every dream that we create is just but a thread in the entire tapestry You have woven for us, a detail in every narrative that comprises our story.

Here I am looking forward to the coming year and the years after that. With no clear-cut plans. Only hopes for the unknown. And the excitement to gaze at the future,  looming large in the horizon,  without reservations nor fears.

November 30, 2013 | In: Angst

Client satisfaction

Our recent engagement with ISO made us conscious of quality management system. Buzz phrases are customer satisfaction and continual improvement.

That brought me to my point now.  This Internet service had been testing my patience since a month ago. On and off connection. Poor service! There were days when there was virtually no connection!

The problem was compounded by the company’s kind of responsiveness–or the lack of it. I asked my sister to call that Internet service provider for me because I was  too stressed out trying to reach it out for help. The process was too procedural. An operator service would lead you to a maze of steps, to a myriad of numbers you must enter, to no avail. The condition was that I must be in front of my computer unit so they could trouble shoot from a distance. Only then they would decide whether I am worth visiting for my antenna’s repair or something else. They have done that process many times. After a few days, the problem would ressurect again.

Point is where is customer service? Where is their responsiveness to client needs? I hope this would serve as a reminder to other service providers and subscribers. We need to get our money’s worth back. We need to get that better service our payment deserves.

Now I’m back here. At Netopia, working via the Net conscious with the metered time, but better than getting stressed out by a poor, inefficient Internet service I have trusted much to be installed right at the confines of my own home. Hope soon I’ll get a better service from a new prospective company I have heard good things about.

Just a few minutes ago, I have severed my engagement with that incompetent provider. Disconnected myself from their poor service!

Till then. Always, make smart decisions! Never to be fooled again.

October 26, 2013 | In: Angst

Unlike

Have you ever caught yourself in a conversation with which you have nothing to do? Or a conversation that hits you directly, offending you, without the other person knowing it?

It pisses me off. I would always find a chance to get out of it by saying, quite respectfully,  ”excuse me, I’ll go ahead.”

* * *

The ending of a creative telenovela that doesn’t match with the kind you have in mind also disappoints. Maybe because the story when told becomes the audience’s too. You can readily interrupt and create your own beautiful, subjective ending.

* * *

A kind of work that treats people as machine? That kills creativity? That annoys as well!

In the hierarchy of needs, that’s the highest, ultimate level: giving us the leeway, the elbow room to create without so much of the rules that stunt innovativeness.

* * *

Get angry! Rage at times! But always understand where all these are coming. Then liberate yourself from all negativities!

* * *

It is worthwhile to be happy. There’s always another day to smile and take things lightly.

October 6, 2013 | In: Angst, Work

Dolce vita

If there’s one thing I have realized in the three days and a half I have spent staying at home and resting, practically doing nothing–couldn’t read, write, or stare at the computer monitor and connect to the Net–it would be that of valuing the sweetness of doing nothing. I was sick for the last three days. The symptoms made themselves felt last Wednesday right after the accreditation visit: bones aching, runny nose, was feeling weaker, and all I wanted to do then was to lie down and sleep. And so I did exactly that, gave in, succumbed to that call for me to do nothing but sleep and rest, far from all the worries and concerns of work and everything built around it.IMG_0784

Maybe that was a Cebu virus I had acquired or all the pressures of work previously done that had finally burst into one final act telling me: you can no longer elude this, please just let things be. For three days, sleep came without me courting it. My system simply gave in. My eyes were too watery I couldn’t  read much, despite the temptation that that book–The Happiness Project–irresistibly offered me. I just depended on TV for a few moments but that I couldn’t endure too given that such needed the attention of my eyes as well.

For three days I subsisted on fresh juice drinks–much of that calamansi, which is now in season–and fruits. I missed meetings and classes. I missed the kind of life I live almost every day in the office. I missed the social media. I missed everything that could make me normal and mainstream. But those three days made me appreciate a slow life more and more; add to it the value of a good health. The weekly massage didn’t work so well. A good sleep perfectly could. Good foods, too. I could work hard again but in moderation this time, not forgetting to pamper myself in between: with a good amount of sleep and the right combination of foods.

A wake-up call, maybe a reality check, for someone who loves his work so much and values happiness, and all those who make this possible, as well as the “good long life.”

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On My Own

This is the first blog site I can call my own. Here's where I could find the individual Self on top of his being a social being. It talks about a multitude. Books. Events. Inanities. Foods. Family. Writing. Rhetorics. Travel. Places. Philosophy. Practically Everything under the sun. Or more aptly, Anything built around my World of Words: Texts.