Online

I am a millenial, and I am addicted to my phone.

Well, okay, not really. I’m close to it, though.

In any case, the past few days have seen me glued to my phone reading and responding and reposting stories and articles and opinions about that rape joke that presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte uttered last week. I won’t post links lest I be accused of curating what I want visitors to this blog will see. Google it and you’ll find a lot of netizens both in full rage mode against the guy and his supporters still, well, supporting him. 

My main beef with the guy is his morals. I cannot stand to have a national leader who will demean women like me just because that’s “who he is.” He will no longer be who he is if he assumes the oresidency; he will be assuming the role of every single Filipino in this country. He will be representing us if he wins, and therefore he has a lot more responsibility now to the nation as a candidate. As such, he should shape himself up for the job. 

I got into an online discussion with one of his supporters–a colleague of mine from my previous workplace. He condemned the joke, but retained support because of Duterte’s political will. I agreed with him that the candidate was tough, but I still disagree with his use of his machismo and his misogyny.

There were a lot of other comments online that were really misinformed, and this is what ABSOLUTELY frustrates me to no end. We have Information at our fingertips, yet people still react anyway without being informed. They don’t bother to do research or even READ. They don’t bother to listen or communicate PROPERLY. We have the tools at our hands, but sadly, the majority of its users do not use it responsibly.

I’ve spoken my piece about that guy on Facebook, and I will not repeat it here anymore. All I can say now is that whoever wins had better deserve the trust of the people and had better to do a hell of a job keeping this country moving forward.

Gratitude list

  • Om: I finally got to go back to the mat yesterday after almost a week of no yoga. I caught up with the challenge and did some Om chants to calm my mind and my whole being after reading through the hate online (so toxic huhu).
  • Openness: not many people are open to other people’s point of view. People don’t realize that you can still listen to others’ opinions and not have to change your own views. What irks me though, is if their views are wrong, like in the case of Duterte’s supporters who respond to indignant cries of people over the “joke” with “LOOK AT THE CONTEXT OF THE JOKE.” And we go, THERE IS NO FRIKKIN CONTEXT IN THE WORLD THAT JUSTIFIES RAPE JOKES!!! Besides, we weren’t even questioning the narrative behind the incident that brought that statement out; we were indignant over the thinking that it’s okay to crack jokes about raping somebody because no harm was meant, they were just words, they were said in the heat of anger yada yada. NO. Rape jokes are NEVER okay. NEVER.
  • Om: I need to chant Om again.

Hirap

hirap is Filipino for either “poor” or “difficulty,” so if you say that someone or something is mahirap, you mean that someone is poor or that something is difficult.

Last Wednesday my colleagues and I were required to answer Pope Francis’s call to “go to the peripheries,” which, in our case, meant the Payatas community in Quezon City, around 2 to 3 hours north of my school.

I’ll be honest; I was scared. I have heard and read stories about how Payatas was just full of trash, and rightfully so, as it was one of the country’s landfills. There was a huge mountain of trash there, and people living near it either scavenged through the trash or had to live with the stench when the wind blew unfavorably.

Many of us were scared, but we gamely answered that call. The service interaction was part of our annual spiritual growth activity. We’ve been on service interactions before, but it was our students who interacted with the less fortunate; we teachers merely supervised. This time, though, we were the ones who were required to interact. Needless to say, I found myself in my students’ shoes, full of apprehension and worry.

Soon, I realized I needn’t have worried because Payatas is AMAZING. Yes, it is not the cleanest place in the world, but the residents there do their best given the mountain of trash, which, honestly WAS NOWHERE VISIBLE FROM WHERE WE WERE. It was a good thirty minutes away from where our bus dropped us off.

We broke off into groups upon arriving, and we played some games to break the ice. Then we were partnered off–one teacher with one Payatas mom. My partner, Ate* Vangie, and I took a ten minute tricycle ride to get to her house then had to walk for five more minutes through narrow streets and unpaved alleys. When we got to her house, I saw that there was a small tindahan* or sari-sari* store in front manned by her mom. Inside were two of her six children, Jed and Jenella, the latter a four year old who kept looking at me but wouldn’t talk to me.

The tiny house was cramped but clean. There was no untoward smell inside nor outside the house. There was food on the table. Ate Vangie had gotten up at 3am that day (like she does every day) to prepare the meals for her family and the lumpiang toge (Filipino version of spring rolls; filling is of mung bean sprouts) that she sells. She gave me the last two pieces in the store. I tried paying for it, but she wouldn’t let me. She was horrified. I felt ashamed.

Anyway, her lumpiang toge was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. She mixed her own vinegar dipping sauce to go with it and the combo was just absolutely delicious. I was one of the lucky ones whose partner was able to serve food. The partners of my other colleagues didn’t have food at home and therefore were not able to serve food.

The food serving wasn’t our idea. In fact, we planned to be the ones to bring the food to them, but when they heard that we were to go to their houses to interact after the games, they insisted that they prepare for us. They wouldn’t hear of not being able to serve their guests even a simple meal. It just so happened that others had had a bad night with their husbands  and therefore were not able to prepare anything.

The hospitality of our Payatas partners is legendary. Here were people who had next to nothing, who lived day to day worrying about what to serve their children or how to send their children to school, yet these people openly welcomed strangers into their homes without batting an eyelash. What they wanted? For people to listen to them and not judge them because they lived next to a dumpsite.

And you know what I realized?

I realized that these people were mahirap not because of a LACK or because they were poor.  Our partners were mahirap because they were having difficulty in achieving their goals. As my colleague astutely pointed out, WE were the ones who seemed to LACK because we were always looking for MORE. We were never content. Our partners’ common wish was for their children to finish their studies. It put OUR own wishes to shame for we wanted to travel the world or finish our own studies. Our partners thought nothing of themselves. They were always thinking of other people.  My own partner did not complain about her status in life. All she kept saying was that she was proud of her children because they were doing well in school, and her eldest was a year from graduating college.

I’m crying now just thinking of my partner again.

took selfies with my groupmates, partner Ate Vangie, her daughter Jenella, and her mother

took selfies with my groupmates, partner Ate Vangie, her daughter Jenella, and her mother

I was wholly disturbed by the experience.

Filipinos are racist and discriminatory jerks, and the Payatas residents experience that regularly. We found out at the end of our interaction that whenever they try to apply for jobs, employers turn them away as soon as they find out that they are from Payatas. It is unfair because they want nothing more than an opportunity not even for themselves but an opportunity to help their families.

We all went back to work the next day crying during our debriefing/reflection and resolute in our desire to reach out to and help those in the peripheries.

This is not just a Catholic thing. Helping out is expected of any decent human being WHATEVER their belief.

We were disturbed. We were shaken. We will help.

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*ate (pronounced ah-teh) is an honorific that means “older sister.” also used as a sign of respect towards a slightly older female

*Tindahan means store.

*sari-sari means “many different things” or “variety”.  Sari-sari store is a small home-based store that sells a variety of goods that you might need at home such as a sachet of shampoo (if you’ve run out already and it’s not yet grocery day) or a pack of crackers or a loaf of bread or a bottle of soda, etc

X

I’m going to cheat a bit here… You know that emoticon with X’s for eyes?

Today (Tuesday, April 28) is supposedly the execution date of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina who was caught with drugs in her luggage in Indonesia where she was supposedly to start work as a domestic helper. Her story–that she did not know there were drugs in the bag because it was just “given” to her–sounds true, and this was corroborated, albeit too late, by the surrender of the person who recruited her. It was originally set for 5pm, but somehow it got moved to Wednesday, April 29, 1am, Philippine time, and this is an hour from now. What pisses me off is that President Widodo says that staying the execution will be seen as a sign of weakness. NO. It is seen now by people (even Indonesians who have put up a petition to save her [see pic below]) as a sign of INJUSTICE. Punish the guilty, yes, but this woman is NOT guilty and therefore does not deserve to be executed. Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 12.09.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 12.23.37 AM One hour to go. I cannot imagine what she must be thinking or going through right now. I cannot imagine what her family and children must be thinking of now. My heart, my thoughts, my prayers go out to her and her family and to the Indonesian president who seems to think that saving an innocent person’s life is a sign of weakness.

Might is not always right.

UPDATE:

She’s safe… for now.

V

Filipinos are known for not being able to pronounce some letters properly. There’s the V-B problem, F-P, Th vs T vs D.

One of my favorite stories regarding the V-B problem comes my own experience in high school. My classmates swear this happened but I can’t remember this and I refuse to say it was because I wasn’t listening haha. My story then is as I heard from my classmates.

On the first day of Computer class, our teacher introduces herself but we some couldn’t make out if the first letter of her name was a B or a V. A classmate asked which it was and she replied:

B as in bictory (victory).

Badum tss *facepalm*

Kaladkarin

The word comes from kaladkad (not sure about the root word), which means to drag. It can be used as a verb or a noun. If as a verb, the word kaladkarin is a command to drag something or someone with/behind you. As a noun–and with stress/accenton different syllables–it refers to a person who lets himsel or herself get dragged along on impromptu outings.

I am a self-proclaimed kaladkarin, and today I allowed myself to be dragged down most streets in the world’s second oldest Chinatown: Binondo, Manila. We availed of Old Manila Tours’ Binondo Food Wok, which basically brings you to different significant Chinese-Filipino places to get a taste (literally) of the culture.

It is a walking tour, so we were just walking the whole time, ducking into old alleyways and buildings and the Binondo Church, but the best part was that this was a food tour, which meant that beyond the usual touristy stops, we got to go to restaurants that served authentic Chinese food. None of the fast food dumplings in the mall, for example. In our second stop, our food (assorted dumplings) was prepared in front of us–so fresh!

Today was a great day to be dragged around Old Manila, which used to scare me because it was just so old and looked so decrepit. Not only did we get to see the sights and eat food, we also got to shop at the nearby Lucky Chinatown Mall (and we girls went crazy over the crafting items).

Pics in my FB account and some in my IG account.

//

edit. I realize I wrote this close to midnight and I was already so sleepy. There were a lot of things I could have included here like that stop at the traditional Chinese medicine shop that sold–among others–dried lizards on a stick (boil, add herbs, drink tonic for asthma relief).

Crimson Hotel’s Sunday Family Brunch

Can I just say this?

I’m not a buffet person. I suck at buffets–if that’s even possible. I haven’t been to a lot, but in all of them, there have always been food items that I wasn’t able to try because I was already too full to get up from the table.

Nevertheless, buffets are always a fun experience. 🙂

Last Sunday, I was invited by Irene E., the co-founder of the South Writers’ League (SWL) of which I’m a member, to try out the brunch at the relatively new Crimson Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa. I got there early, so I got the chance to look around the main lobby, which, strangely, was on the 8th floor. I’m guessing the other floors below it are reserved for parking.

The lobby itself is a sight to behold. Here you can find the grand ballroom, the concierge, the receptionist, the lobby lounge, gorgeous paintings, and the Cafe Eight where the brunch was held.

When I got to the lobby, I was surprised to see people entering the grand ballroom. I didn’t expect an event to be happening on such a lazy Sunday, but later on I heard singing; I looked at the sign beside one of the doors and saw that there was mass. That discovery was certainly a pleasant surprise. It’s not often you see hotels holding mass in their grounds regularly.

When my new friends from the SWL arrived, we immediately went to the buffet area. It turns out that the Sunday brunch was a new thing and they were calling it the Sunday Family Brunch. The first thing that greeted us was the bar right next to the entrance and the cashier (more on this later), but what made us ooh and aah was the enormous round table full of a variety of desserts. I saw leche flan, fruits, chocolate stuff, other sweets (I’m sorry I can’t remember any of them; my jaw just dropped). To our left was the appetizer buffet full of breads and spreads and cheese and salads and lots of other small stuff the names of which I can’t remember. Seriously. You just go there to EAT, not memorize names, right?

Irene  introduced us to the Marketing and Communications Manager, Alex Aquino. He talked to us about the brunch buffet and told us that it just started a couple of weeks ago. It was relatively new and was their attempt to branch out to the families. The hotel was known as one that catered to businessmen, but they wanted families–especially the ones living in the south, which is suburbia heaven–to come visit them as well. They had the Sunday mass at 11am (yes, it’s regular), and, given the sosyal nature of the families in the immediate area, you know they’d want to attend mass at a hotel. The idea is: go to mass at the hotel, then have lunch there, too.

The selection isn’t as varied as the other buffets I’ve been to, but that’s not to say the food was not as good; it was excellent, actually. You have your stable pork, chicken, beef, pasta, soup, sushi/maki selections. What I didn’t get to check out were the dedicated seafood and dessert tables, though, and I regret this deeply.

**note: I wasn’t able to take a pic of the main dishes because I was too busy eating.

One standout feature of the Sunday Family Brunch is the dedicated kids’ corner. Kiddie food? Got it! They’ve got the staple spaghetti and pizza, but they also have healthier food like the fruit kebabs. Their kids’ corner also had the chocolate lava cake (holy lord, the only dessert I had, and it was divine!), a cotton candy stand, a popcorn stand, and more desserts. Another part of the kids’ corner was the kids’ play area which featured a large screen where the kids could watch cartoons or other kid-friendly movies, tables and chairs that were both for kids and adults (for those who want to stay in the area to supervise their children), and some games.

The idea to have a dedicated kids’ corner seems genius for me. I don’t know about you, but if I had kids, I’d bring them here once in a while because (and I can’t believe I’m just remembering this now) aside from the kids’ corner, the children get to swim in the pool and play in the deck as well (ask about this as you enter the cafe).

What else can I say?

I met new lovely people and got myself stuffed silly with sumptuous food. ‘Twas a happy Sunday brunch. 🙂

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Sunday Family Brunch
11am-2pm
Cafe Eight, Crimson Hotel, Alabang
Php 1,600 (with unlimited juices)
Php 2,100 (with alcoholic drinks)
Reservations not required but recommended.

For more details, visit their website.

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Plugging the blogs of my new friends Gaby and Jacqui.

Gaby writes about budget travels while Jacqui writes about food and travel.

Read what Gaby had to say about this brunch.
Read what Jacqui had to say about this.

Ilog Maria Royal Jelly Face Oil

Last December I got this during a Tagaytay road trip. A bunch of friends and I stayed at Belize Tagaytay Bed and Breakfast Inn then went around a bunch of places. We made it a point to drop by Ilog Maria, though, and I’m glad we did.

The place is a honeybee farm, and the people there make hygiene and skincare products using honey as one of the ingredients. A friend had raved about this place, so it was pretty exciting to see it.

The place was tucked away in… Well… somewhere. It was quite an adventure to try to locate the place and to actually journey through the narrow road that led to the farm. I’d show pictures, but most of the ones I took were blurred.

Anyway, the shop. THE SHOP. THE SHOP HAD THIS FACE OIL. And it is GENIUS!

I am one of those people who aren’t blessed with perfect skin, but after just one use of this, I became the biggest fan. You shake the thing first then put just three tiny drops (or big drops if the size of your skin area is bigger) on the palm of your hand before spreading it all over your face. You do this at night before going to bed and you’ll wake up with softer skin.

After a month one of my superiors told me that my skin had gotten better. I initially thought it was the Maybelline Pore Eraser I had just started using at that time, and maybe it helped, but I still credit the oil.

The expiration date is a year after date of purchase, and I hope I can finish it in a year. After a month I had barely diminished the bottle contents. You really don’t need a huge amount. The oil is cheaper in the actual store than if you buy online. Then again, if you don’t like the hassle of going on a treasure hunt-like adventure, then the extra amount shouldn’t be a problem.

The farm sells soap, shampoo, balms, and other things. Check out their website for more details especially on how to get there. The directions they posted are pretty straightforward, so you should have no problem getting there. (Best if you go by car, though.)

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//edit

I’ve had this in my drafts for a few weeks now. I just realized that posting this right after my depressed post seems… bipolar. I also realized that maybe finally finishing and posting this helped me get my mind off the sadder thoughts.