The morning sun stares me straight in the eye. The heat is painful. It wakes me up, telling me “it’s time to move on and spend at least 30 minutes of my wake-up time jumping, forcing the body and the limbs to express the lives that they own.”

Summer makes me realize I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting down writing and editing, I have forgotten my body needs exercise that would enable it to use its energy reserves. At my age, I really need exercise. My work keeps me glued on my desk, from late morning to early evening. I am not teaching this Summer, save for the graduate classes I handle every Saturday. You know teaching makes me more mobile; office work makes me a slave of my table and pile of papers I  must review, sign, or decide upon.

I will keep on exercising  physically as long I need it, beyond this Summer season. I must be healthy and remain strong; these paper works must not prevent me from being alive and young (at least the feeling of it!). I must enjoy Summer like when I was not buried in work–free, exciting, seemingly endless.

ako_2_editedStaying healthy.  To a certain extent, that would mean eating healthy foods. One Thursday, which we called Freedom Day–literally from everything and everyone–we prepared Greek salad with strawberry-flavored vinaigrette. It was something we saw from a food magazine simply called EATS. We got inspired, we mimicked every veggie it must have and ate it along Revilla staples, such as turon, pancit palabok, and pancit bihon and pork sisig. These were washed down by our special melon drinks.

One thing about Summer, it is a season of foods, better yet of healthy foods because fruits and veggies are at the height of their seasons, too. It is one of the best seasons in the country, minus the agonizingly hot days and the dust and dirt of busy streets. We have yet to go to beaches or resorts, but almost every week, the time is spent preparing foods and eating with the family, made more fun by the bahay kubo specially made for Summer and the videoke thing that we now own!

Before it rains. We must enjoy everything. Soon it will be Fiesta and that means more foods and bonding moments. Of course, I will give more attention to healthy foods–fruits and veggies!–because I want to stay healthy and live long. Before the rain comes, I must write more and weave words to keep me inspired and stay who I really am. To write for myself!

That way, I will enjoy Summer more and more.

February 25, 2015 | In: Leisure

Sa Barberya

While at the barbershop this afternoon to have my twice-a-month hair care, I was so at peace, I had taken a nap longer than I had expected. Maybe the process was so long, it lulled me much to sleep. Today, as a holiday, afforded  me a little leisure time. I woke up this morning so late, it had regained all the strength I had lost because of everyday stress. At least for today, I could take things lightly, but not long, because tomorrow the grinding and roaring of the machine resumes, and that means office work and academic concerns. Reason why I found the time to write now. Writing is like a gauge of how busy I am. But sometimes it is writing that deviates my attention so I could relax and go back to focus later.

throwbackMarch. Soon, it would be March and that is my birthday month. Actually, the birthday month of many of us in the family. So March brings a different kind of excitement that gains a different meaning this year because my sis Che and her family will be going back home after a few months of stay at Australia. They will be spending the Holy Week here and that means a lot of bonding time. Recently, we had a family reunion because our balikbayan  family members Tiyo Wanteng and Tiya Mercy are here for a month-long vacation. They are US-based ever since we could remember, so being here and having fun with us is a very rare occasion, that naturally called for a family reunion. And one thing that binds us together is staple food, passed onto us by generations of food lovers and cooks. Add to it the love for music, loud fun, and never-ending storytelling.

Summer. Meantime, while waiting for less busy days, hopefully this summer, I would just remember those times spent lightly and leisurely with loved ones. Because soon it would be March, then summer, when the days are hot and brooding but fun and interesting, making us remember more and more the vacation months of our childhood, when life was too simple and we had all the time to play and be carefree. Hope we can go somewhere. I love Ilocos trip this time. That would complete summer for me this year. Time would bring us there.

January 3, 2015 | In: Leisure

Bringing something in

Lately, I take a special interest watching this TLC feature called “Eskimos in San Diego.” You can imagine what this TV program is all about: a reality show narrating the fun and adventure and difficulties of a small group of Eskimos from Alaska who came to San Diego (with the unfamiliar sun and beach site at that!), all in the name of adapting to change and later on adopting the new culture and environs. I love the documentation process — from the food they eat, the change in get-up, to their sudden transformation as city dwellers, a far cry from their igloo and hunting realities back home.

That reminds me how as travelers we also bring in the host place our usual ways of doing things, like eating and food preparation. In other words, our own food preferences. But this is a different story: Just very recently, we discovered at Pagsanjan, Laguna a local resto that specializes in Ilocos foods. The place is called Balai Ilocos. The name is a give away. Here they bring in the host town the foods travelers usually partake in a culturally rich area such as Ilocos!

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We are told the place is being rented from an old clan in the town — The Llamas. The house is old, and the way we often call houses of this type: ancestral. With little renovations, the house is able to retain its old, traditional, bahay na bato ambiance. The foods are a great mimic of Ilocano foods too: igado, bagnet, papaitan, Vigan longanisa etc.

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We’ve been here twice. Once as a family; then second time with graduate school friends. Short of saying, I recommend this place to food lovers who adore native cuisine, who have special taste for the Ilocano concoctions. The resto structure is a photo op site too! There is also a cafeteria down the old house, for tired travelers who crave for coffee or fresh pastries.

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The place accommodates events. I love celebrating my birthday here! I am marketing this resto free of charge. I hope they’ll be able to read this and give me discounts the next time I visit there. LOLz!!! Seriously, this place is worth a visit.

(NOTE: There is a photo album I created at FB detailing the place. It is labelled “Road Trip.”)

November 23, 2014 | In: Things Mundane

Beautiful sunsets

They are just the same. Both beautiful. Awesome!

These could describe the sunsets I had seen separately at Beijing, China and Cebu City the last two weeks of this month. Beautiful sunsets then are universal, whether you are in the coolest part of the world or in its hottest. Maybe sunsets are a great equalizer. They remain beautiful and awe-inspiring when the day begins to die and light turns into darkness, wherever we may be.

At the Forbidden City at Beijing, China, I had accidentally clicked my iPhone camera and had this captured and immortalized: one of the most beautiful sunsets I have so far seen. The sun setting at this one historical site of the world, where once emperors ruled and lived as if they were heaven-sent gods.

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Then recently at Cebu City, there I saw this beautiful sun setting as backdrop for the massive and modernist structure of the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine. Equally awesome and serene! Our country has its share of beautiful sunsets, too, and it looks different at home, where it feels more reachable and familiar and  clear.

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And we’ll forever love these sunsets and get inspired by them, more so when we have almost forgotten that they are just there.

September 28, 2014 | In: Family, Leisure

Crazy Katsu + The Sweet Spot

20 September 2014. After the three-hour research writeshop, which I facilitated for teachers held at Ateneo de Manila University, we met Ciel and Owie, two of my Manila-based pamangkins, at UP Diliman campus. The intention was to make a random visit of the Diliman Republic and nearby Teachers’ Village, where hole-in-the-wall eateries may be found.

IMG_2596Bookayukay. Before eating and discovering the foods Maginhawa St. at UP Village offers, we dropped by Bookayukay, a book-sale shop, which, despite its small space, is frequented by students and book enthusiasts alike. When we were there, there were like eight persons, trying to fit in themselves in the limited space there was. But that was the joy of locating books amid the heaps, when bodies almost hit one another, all in the name of finding that one golden treasure, reminiscent of Coelho’s “The Alchemist” (maybe it was just there).

Mine was found  through Ciel: Paulo Coelho’s “Authorized Biography.” Two types were available–the real price and that one discounted, half the price. Of course, I went for the discounted, obviously. That was the only treasure I got because we were really hungry, we crossed the street and found Crazy Katsu.

Crazy Katsu. The place, true to its being a hole-in-the-wall, is small. Its specialty is that of katsu (literally means “shout” in Japanese) cuisine, marked by shredded cabbage and carrots with special soy-sauce condiment and fresh chili bits. Crazy Katsu has variations of this cuisine: with chicken and the other as salad. We ordered both, with individual orders of rice as partner. We enjoyed the servings washed down by lemon drinks. At affordable prices, you can have an oriental meal, a little hot or with a certain amount of kick to make you lose or shed off that stress of a busy week.IMG_2599

The Sweet Spot. In search of some desserts, we found The Sweet Spot, also along Maginhawa St. The place was filled with students and some families wrapping up the day, having some sips of coffee or conservative slice of sweets or pasta servings. Most were just there to enjoy a cool nook and wi-fi perks. We ordered three servings of their special cakes: ube cheesecake, strawberry cheese cake, and chocolate cheesecake, just to do away with that chili taste of the katsu cuisine we just had. We enjoyed the quick Internet connect that enabled us to communicate with Aussie-based Che. Overall, the experience was indeed sweet; we could go back here again.

IMG_2607More. There are many more we could have visited, like the Burger Project, which could be our next in the list. Maginhawa St. is a haven for budget-conscious eaters, but who are in search of foods and pastries that leave much memories, enough to create stories and fill in a blog space like this.

Like Dr. Jack Sheppard of the famous mystery TV series, Lost, we will certainly go back.

We must go back.

When we do, we will eat more and explore more and spend time more knowing the place well.

September 8, 2014 | In: Family, Reading Life, The Writing Life, Work

Back!

I haven’t written anything for the last two months here! That’s unusual for moi who would usually spend the weekend reading and blogging and writing much (any given writing project occupies my weekend, at the very least).

Where have all the words gone??? Or, where did my muse hibernate?!

Checking Papers. I am almost teaching full time this semester/tri-mester. I was originally given 9 units of undergrad courses, but an exigency assignment, that eventually stays with me, was added to me at the start of the semester. Plus, I have 6 units of graduate classes. So the weekend is usually spent reading and rating and recording papers. That virtually eats up most of my time, with back aching and head almost bursting as after effects.

Sending off Che and Kids. August, the whole of it, was spent preparing for Che and kids’ trip to Aussie, where they would hopefully be staying for good with Chito. Preparing meant accompanying them to malls and other places such as Tagaytay and Alabang and Cabuyao to do important businesses. Visiting the Pink Sisters and Padre Pio again and saying goodbye to her in-laws. Then we had a series of despedida for them that culminated in our senti send-off at Terminal 2 of NAIA. We hope to visit them there soon!

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Sometimes, Reading. Like today when I spent practically the whole day reading Paulo Coelho’s latest. Finished it almost in one sitting. I love this novel: breezy, easy read. This is the first time I have read Coelho with a uni-linear plot or a readable, easy- to-follow story line. Of course I am referring to “Adultery.” Now talk of the town. Its mature, adult theme reinvents Coelho, who would usually talk about esoteric, abstract concerns in his philosophical-cerebral-nebular novels. Here his characters are, quite unusual in his style, named. It pursued a timeless concern: happiness — among characters who are depressed, stressed, alone, lonely, and sad (Linda and Jacob). I wouldn’t dwell on the details. But one thing is certain: this is one of Coelho’s best!

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On the side, I am also reading Haruki Murakami’s “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.”  A beautiful novel about finding the self lost among the others. There are sub-themes too of depression, death, and making oneself acceptable for others, at least to their very limited and conventional standards. Murakami is a personal favorite since I have read his dream-like, Kafka-like, magical realist short stories (a particular favorite is “Sleep”). More on him and his latest novel in a future blog entry.

Meantime …

Let me go back to work and with fingers crossed, I hope I’ll be able to write more often here. Maybe on a weekly basis. I will force myself to write. For words to crop up and surface and be triggered when the time gets tough checking papers or preparing things that matter so I could live and travel and be human. Carpe diem!!!

One Sunday, engrossed with the movie we had just seen, I accidentally put a bottle of mineral water inside my favorite bag. I positioned it there the wrong way, enough for it to leak and make my things wet. It was too late before I had discovered it: my valuables drenched in water. Passport. Student driver’s ID and permit. Business card. Etc.

Once home, I took out each thing from the bag and dried each of them meticulously under the electric fan and aircon. Glad the passport wasn’t damaged much. My iPhone charger too. In one careless instant I can easily put my valuables in danger. When you are too preoccupied by grownup matters, you tend to forget to take care of things that matter much. I couldn’t blame myself more.

*  *  *

Sometimes, I was telling my friends in the office, you just want to stay longer in bed and forget about work. That is to do things that you really want to do in life. In my case, reading and writing. But this work is a commitment. I need it, for one, to live and survive. I need it as much as it needs me. There are things in life you must take and bear and endure, difficulties included, but at the end of the day, these enrich you, without you noticing it.

That’s how I see my work that keeps me whole and alive.

*  *  *

There is a kind of routine I follow every day. In the morning, if time permits, I’ll check on my social network account to look for updates. The entire morning will be spent at work. Lunch time I’ll go home to be with my loved ones; it will end up again checking on my FB account, for latest updates (you see how life revolves around social media, whether you are a Millenial or not).

IMG_2080If office work allows me to go home early that would mean reading a few more pages from a book or books I am presently reading, then taking a precious nap. Dinner, then tele-novela, then PBB. These TV shows make me more human and vulnerable, despite what others will tell that they are not intellectually healthy or something. They keep me grounded and real.

Then I will work more: syllabus, instructional material, letters, plans, exams, etc. Then I will FB more posting photos, reacting on comments, commenting on posts I like, writing blog entries like this, etc. Things begin and end through the social media. There is no moment of boredom or loneliness. Always you find yourself hooked into somebody else’s world. Even if I don’t go home in our hometown every weekend, I can see how the folks are doing and faring. I can pm (private message) them and I’ll get updates. This social media thing makes our world smaller, our distances nearer.

It is a welcome boon. At least for me.

IMG_2062Much of what I do now, if I am not in the office or attending meetings or writing or editing something, is reading.

I hop from one book to another, then to another. Lately I have discovered Lydia Davis, an American storyteller, whose flair for brevity in short stories makes her popular; in fact she has short stories in a sentence or paragraph length only. Her stories are works of poetry. She is a Man Booker International Prize winner last year (May 2013). Her Collected Stories (2009) enables me to go through her style and nuances as a writer. I am now reading  her short story “Five Signs of Disturbance.”

Another book I am now reading is Divergent  by Veronica Roth (2011), which was turned into a movie last March 2014. This is a material, that reminds me so much of Hunger Games (also turned into film), that I am reading while [re]reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (now a movie, too).

So much to read, so little time for reading.

May 24, 2014 | In: Leisure, Work

The Perks of Traveling

This summer enabled me to travel for fun or as my work required, with good friends and nice people.

I revisited HK with Letran Calamba friends and had a side trip to Macau. One thing about traveling, you bring home the memories captured by photos. Images of friendship, bonding, happy times. Forever, they are etched where they could be retrieved later: when the moments run out of inspirations, you want to go back to good times and relive the experience. The photos summon the spirits, transporting you back, back where colors get back to life, scenes make you laugh and remember.

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Early this month we had the opportunity to participate in the World Research Festival 2014, co-hosted by the Colegio with IAMURE. The event was held at Cebu City. In between sessions, we had photo ops at Radisson Blu Hotel, the festival site. At Radisson, we got thrilled by the showcase of talents. We were awed by the warmth of people we just met there. We realized research could be fun and alive. It does not have to be a bore or a way to boast or even threaten people. It is an engagement that has to be kept within the happy repository of our memories. It must also be remembered and relived and shared.

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A thing about photos, they are more expressive than words. If that is the case, they are good storytellers. They don’t keep secrets. They tell all.

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.]

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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.