Earworms #5

When I checked Spotify, I was surprised to see that Itchyworms released their first major album in 2001. Honestly, I am not familiar with a single song from that era. I only became a fan during high school, 2006 or 2007. As teenagers (actually hanggang ngayon naman), me and my friends enjoyed singing along to their songs especially Beer and Akin Ka Na Lang. In 2013, there was After All This Time, a song I listened to A LOT that if the Spotify Wrapped feature was available back then, it would probably be second only to P!nk’s Just Give Me A Reason as my most played for the year. In 2016, their collaboration with Ely Buendia called Pariwara grew on me after it was recommended by someone from that season of my life. Yeah, I try hard to like recommendations made by certain persons hahaha!

Anyway, their latest song to capture my heart is ‘Di Na Muli. Actually, it was released in 2016 and is the grand prize winner in that year’s PhilPop but I first heard it in the 2018 movie Sid & Aya (Not A Love Story). Then I saw a gig poster for Itchyworms and Ben&Ben at 70s Bistro. Since I was up-to-date with the latter’s music, I decided to catch up on the former. That’s when I first listened to it in its entirety. Ever since, in true earworm fashion, it’s been on loop. Aside from liking it in general and the urge to memorize the lyrics, there’s no other effect on me.

Until today.

I saw someone’s Facebook Story of it being performed at the aforementioned gig that I missed and the regret came flooding — it sounded better live, more heartfelt.

I read about the backstory of the music video and was touched by the last scene — Mrs. Hilado dancing with the lights executed by someone who was formerly mentored by her departed husband.

I remembered people I’m no longer in contact with — the words I wanted to say but will probably not get the chance to because it’s either too late, too corny or too awkward.

I got off the phone with a friend who confessed to me about her autoimmune disease. A little Google search calmed my pessimism. Thankfully, it is no longer as worse as I remember it from my Medical-Surgical lectures seven years ago.

I was suddenly sad at the thought of my father leaving for the province in a few hours. The reason why he visited in the first place is to spend time with me before I become busy with work. He’s been extremely patient, generous, and loving especially these past few days that the mere thought of him getting older or worse…makes me an emotional wreck.

I am overwhelmed by the transitions I need to go through and decisions that need to be made in the next months. So overwhelmed that I resort to my usual response which is procrastination and distraction.

And so I was listening to the song a while ago on my past midnight trip to the nearby 7eleven when it hit me right in the gut, I started crying. It’s as if I I was listening to it for the first time. As if I understood the gravity of love and loss for the first time.

‘Di Na Muli

by The Itchyworms

Nung araw kay tamis ng ating buhay
Puno ng saya at ng kulay
Di mauulit muli
Ang oras kapag hinayaang lumipas
Madarama mo hanggang bukas
Di mababawi muli

Ang dami daming bagay na hindi naman kailangan
Kung pwede lang bawasan natin ang mga tampuhan
Hindi mo lang alam hindi mo pa nararanasan
Kahapon sana natin di mo na pinahirapan

Patawad muli
Di na muli

Ang oras kapag hinayaang lumipas
Madarama mo hanggang bukas
Di mababawi muli

At natapos ang himas ng sandali
Di kukubli aking tinig
Nang lumipas na’t di man lang nasabi
Salamat hanggang sa muli

Ang dami daming bagay na hindi naman kailangan
Kung pwede lang bawasan natin ang mga tampuhan
Hindi mo lang alam hindi mo pa nararanasan
Kahapon sana natin di mo na pinahirapan

Patawad muli
Di na muli

Binawi buhay mo ng walang sabi
Binubulong ko sa sarili
Mahal kita hanggang sa huli
Mahal ko hanggang sa huli…

Most people may think the song is tragic. Heck, the title translated in English is “never again” but in the midst of me being being swallowed by a blackhole, there was a gentle tug in my spirit — death has been overcome. Grief is real, but so is hope.

It’s been close to two decades and this band still makes great music. I hope they stay together longer and make more.

Advertisements

A twinge in the heart more powerful than memory alone

Finally finished all seven seasons of Mad Men after putting it off for years! How do I even begin to describe it? I’ll just say what countless others have already said — it is one of the best TV shows of all time. The plot is simple — none of the scheming and shock value most shows today have, a little slow if you ask some — but the details are complex. Equal parts heart-wrenching and beautiful. I kept watching to find out what happens to Don, Joan, Peggy, Pete and Roger. It is set during the cultural revolution of the 60s. Watching how important events from recent memory like the MLK and JFK assassinations, Marilyn Monroe’s death, and the moon landing among others play out through the eyes of people from that generation is better than reading about history from Wikipedia. I’d like to say I wish I was born in that generation (watching The Beatles LIVE? COME ON!) but the show also made me re-evaluate the belief that it was better in the past. Heck, I can’t imagine living in that kind of gross and rampant sexism. It shows us how far we’ve come yet still serves as an encouragement that there are always barriers to break. I can blabber on and on and still not give it justice. Just go watch it!

Anyway, in one of the best minutes of the show (probably the first time I realized this was something else), Don Draper pitches his idea for the advertisement of Kodak’s image slide projector. As someone who tends to dwell in the past, this scene hit me hard and still wrecks me even after seeing it a dozen times. It’s true what Draper said, “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent“. So while I save up to buy a Polaroid and a decent film camera to appease my sentimentality, I tried phone applications that mimic the photographs produced in those days. The only ones I was satisfied with are Huji, Nomo, and Gudak. Huji and Gudak are quite similar except you had to wait an hour after finishing a roll and another 3 days for it to be developed in the latter plus it costs PHP49. Meanwhile, NOMO Point and Shoot looks like a scanned Instax.

Here are some photos I took over the last few months.

NOMO.1723456

GUDAK.

IMG_19930304IMG_203105IMG_344402IMG_410601IMG_2001When I went home after graduation, I found an old Minolta Capios automatic film camera. I brought it to Hidalgo in Quiapo two days ago to have it repaired. According to Kuya Nath of Bert’s Camera, there’s a problem with the ribbon which he would try to fix. Hopefully it’s not too brittle because spare parts of this brand are practically impossible to find. Till then, I’ll continue to take pictures with my beloved apps.

I PAAAAAAAAASSED!!! T.T

This was posted on my Facebook on June 12, the same day as the Philippine Independence. After three weeks, the initial ecstasy has waned but not the feeling of gratitude and humility.

Eto nga pala yung overdue entry ko sa fb essay writing contest haha!

When I decided to study again, a lot of eyebrows were raised. People said it was impractical, that I was being selfish. Hindi naman daw kami mayaman pero aral ako nang aral. Panganay pa man din daw ako, bakit hindi na lang magtrabaho para makatulong. More benign comments suggested I should just study medicine instead of another undergraduate degree. They were hard to ignore and fed the already crippling self-doubt I had. Fortunately, amidst the sea of discouragements, I found refuge in knowing that the people who actually mattered supported me. Minsan, all you need to do is listen to the right voices.

Pope Francis once tweeted, “Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives”. I am a testament to that, nothing I have achieved is done on my own.

It’s thanks to my parents — for the generosity with their love, patience, and financial support. For selling mami and halo-halo even when it’s hard, even when they’re tired. For putting up with my mood swings and making sure all I had to do was study.

It’s thanks to family and friends — for telling me they always knew I’d make it. For believing even when I found it hard to believe in myself. For rescheduling lakads because I have exams, forgiving my shortcomings and matagal na reply, and getting the bill because it’s only midweek but I already spent all my allowance on food 😅

It’s thanks to my church community for the shared lives — tireless reminders of my identity and purpose, covering in prayers, countless encouragements, rebukes done in love, and celebrations of milestones. From KFC Friday dinners to kahit-saan-basta-wag-lang-KFC-pls.

It’s thanks to the generosity of countless other lives — people I encounter regularly or barely even know. From my professors to the guy in CAS office who gave me favorable schedules (noong pwede pa mamili). From classmates who cared enough to include the irregular student to the reviewees who diligently uploaded handout answers online. From Kendrick Lamar for FEAR. to Will Reagan for Nothing I Hold on to.

Most of all, it’s thanks to Christ. When I found out the results, I cried. He who promised, indeed, is faithful. My leader liked to point out that I have grace in studying. However, a part of me was afraid I’d used up every ounce of that grace over the last decade of procrastination and pride. But on the 28th of May, God reminded me (yet again) that His grace is (1) inexhaustible (2) not dependent on my merit and (3) sufficient.35192854_10209422687483638_2045542792502968320_nIt felt like I was given something I was not qualified for, maybe that’s why it took me half a month before posting about it. All I know is that it points to the greatest thing given to me that I did not and will never deserve, the ultimate example of generosity — salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection. He saved me from an existence obsessed with vainly proving my worth and earning other’s affections to a life of relentless love and unceasing hope.

Even before I add the three letters (CPA) at the end of my name or another three (Mrs.) before it or whatever other title will come in the future, just like what former CJ Sereno said, “my life is complete in Christ”.

All glory and honor belong to Him.

Processed with MOLDIV
20 years apart. Not a day too late.

I’ve gone through my journal pages during these past few months and it just brings a smile on my face when I read about the struggles and doubts and praises and thanksgiving and surrender.

I’m writing this as I enjoy my remaining bum days. It’s another transition for me — finally facing the world I somewhat ran away from for five years. I’m sure joining the workforce has its fair share of struggles and breakthroughs but the same way God has been faithful to me in the past, I know He will remain faithful. A friend posted something about God being unchanging so whenever we feel distant from Him, the question is, WHO MOVED? HIM OR US? Lord, help me stay near.

Food Photodump 13; 17 days till doomsday

I read somewhere that procrastination, contrary to the popular belief that it is caused by laziness, may actually be due to fear or conflict. We procrastinate because we are overwhelmed, uncertain of the outcome of a major future event, afraid of facing that uncertainty, and/or overthinking all the things we need to do. So instead we do nothing. If that’s really the case then I am currently scared to death but am in denial. It’s less than a month till the board examinations and I haven’t properly reviewed. I tried going to classes in early April and thought everything was fine because I had no absences for three straight days only to regress on Thursday. The following week, I did not even try. Besides, it was the last week. I’m sorry, Ma, I tried making the most out of the tuition money you paid by getting all the handouts but I’d be kidding if I say it’s enough.

I was really hopeful but I always found excuses not to study. I might blame it on my brothers being noisy, the cluttered surroundings, the weather being too hot, the air conditioning too cold, the errands I am asked to attend to, social media being too tempting, myself being trash. Any reason available. Just this year I finished all ten seasons of Friends, am nearing the end of Mad Men, and have watched a lot of movies (for the Netflix subscription, I got my money’s worth). I’m having internal panic. On the outside, I seem okay. I’m sure my parents and friends (except for a chosen few) think that I devote most of my time solving and reviewing. The reality is that I tell myself today will be the day I start only to be drowned in distractions again. Whenever I am reminded that doomsday is approaching — seeing the calendar and realizing it’s already April 13, or being unable to answer basic questions I should already know the intricacies of — my palms get sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. There’s no vomit on my clothes yet but I feel it in my gut, like I’m on a roller coaster but am not enjoying the ride. I become disoriented and have to stay still for a second or two or else I’ll crumble. I want to run away (diyan ka magaling dapat ata ang URL mo runningrani!).

This post is yet another distraction. I don’t know why I’m still writing it. Maybe it’s the thought that after I get this out of the way, I can finally start.

I’m angry right now. I want to bang my head and shout at myself for letting the months pass by. A few years ago I was looking forward to this season. As early as first year college, I was thinking of reviewing already for one of the most important exams of my life. My mindset before was, “Study as if you’re reviewing for the boards!“. Now here I am and I’ve never felt more unprepared.

***

The paragraphs above were written more than ten days ago. Thankfully, I got too sleepy to finish. A lot has happened since. I met with my leader who understood what I was going through and gave me one piece of advice I needed much more than I’d like to admit which is: learn to live with imperfections. If I keep on waiting for everything to be right before I begin studying, nothing will happen. Instead, I need to look at this from a different perspective. No use crying over spilled milk so I should no longer weep over the months gone but look forward to the coming days.

In another article, I read that for believers who are overwhelmed with anxiety, what we need to be is a remembering people. It has not been easy but slowly, and with grace, I remembered the times I was sure I’d fail but somehow made it through, especially during the last two years. Studying hard is an act of worship to a God who is honored by excellence. This does not mean, of course, that all will be good and well, that I will never fail. Oftentimes, the road to Christlikeness is paved with tears and hurt and anger and questions. The difference is in knowing that after all is said and done, He is for you and with you no matter what the circumstances are.

With that, I think this will be the last post till I take the exams and the results are out (just typing that, my heart skipped a beat huhu). The next one would either be me saying that passing is God’s grace because I know I totally don’t deserve it or me wallowing in my failure and still, hopefully, believing it is God’s grace all the same.

Now, on to the foooooood!

One day Fae visited me in Ubelt and instead of eating at a restaurant, we decided to just buy takoyaki from R’ Classic (it’s the one sold on motorcycles with red side cars) and Mang Toots’ Banana Rhum-A, find a spot to loiter in UST (preferrably near the soccer field where we can people watch), and eat while catching up.

Best eaten alternately to prevent umay. A bite of the savory, spicy, mayonnaise-y takoyaki first then the sweet, crunchy, cinnamon-y banana next. Sulit sarap!1There was a time when I got addicted to Moshi Manju I’d easily finish a small box all by myself. And I always request an all-caramel flavor.IMG_3023Finally! Ta Ke Ho Me Sushi Stand opened near places that are accessible to me. There’s one in Legarda and Robinson’s Manila. There’s another in SM San Lazaro. I guess they’re expanding. Anyway, I once went with Jerimae, Kiabels, and Asher and we had TKHM roll (salmon, cream cheese, bonito), Dragonball (smoked salmon, mango, spices), Spicy tuna (tuna, panko, spices), and Migori (torched salmon, cucumber, miso mayo). They’re affordable at 99 pesos/10 pcs and was filling despite my initial reaction that the rolls looked small. My favorites were Dragonball and Migori 🙂IMG_4709Near Cza’s apartment in Ventura street, Sampaloc, is Lola’s Ilocos Empanda. They’re made to order (so you need patience) and really delicious especially the one with cheese. I think I can finish two. More, if only the oil from frying that oozes with every bite wasn’t so disheartening to look at. Sometimes, I use visiting Cza as an excuse just to eat here haha!

Thanks to jerimae and kiabels, I found out about this carinderia in Bustillos. I’m not sure what street but it’s the one before 7-eleven when you’re coming from LRT2-Mendiola station. I believe the owners are Ilocano because they sell Igado with the innards and other northern dishes. A student meal which consists of rice, a vegetable, and a meat viand costs 40 pesos. And there’s a nearby shake stand where, for 35 pesos plus minimum amount for add-ons, you can customize your drink any way you want — add cheesecake, oreo, cheese, etcetera. In fact, instead of straw, spoon is given because it’s like melted sundae. These are what student lunch breaks are made of.4Kimi let me try the Thai Milk Tea from Chatime and it was so good I was reminded of the one I had in Brunei. In fact, I transferred half of the contents to my tumbler, refrigerated it, and for the next few days took a sip whenever the craving kicked in. Unfortunately as of this writing, it is no longer available 😦

On the right is my attempt to eat more greens. A Subway branch opened in Manila Medical Center last year. My favorite is Italian BMT in Honey Oats bread, no onion, extra lettuce and olives. Sometimes with ranch AND mayonnaise. Not so healthy after all.22Whenever I go to Binondo, the only bakeshop I usually stop in is Salazar’s for the tikoy with monggo. However, after rekindling my love for their buko custard hopia, Eng Bee Tin is now visited as well. Besides, it has a stall in Robinsons Manila! I’m not really fond of Hopia baboy because of a bad experience when I was younger so I settle for anything else.

One of my favorite pairings is Gong Cha 30% Taro Milk Tea with Cheese GC cream and Sisig Hooray! I usually have this after exams or a bad day. I go to SM Manila food court and eat the unpleasant emotions away.32Pizza Hut has an ongoing promo of free stuffed crust and I of course took advantage of it because their cheese stuffed crust pizza is literally the only thing that keeps me coming back. Otherwise, I’d choose Shakey’s every time.

The St. Marc Cafe at RobMan is almost always empty so it’s a fortress away from the buzzing mall. One time, I took refuge there and ordered matcha tea latte, green tea chococro (the pastry they’re supposedly famous for), and potato and ham sandwich. The drink was just your typical sweetened matcha, the pastry was oily and stale. The presentation of the sandwich was forlorn, unlike the ones I see on anime. The filling was good but it cannot save the dry bread.
25Because food is not immune to inflation, I now eat more frequently in Lan Zhou La Mien than Ling Nam because the latter costs 180 pesos already (last time my father checked) and the serving is only good for one person unlike the the former, 150 pesos and shareable!

So happy Kim and I decided to try Macao Imperial Tea while strolling in Lucky Chinatown. The matcha was delicious and the cream on top, divine! Even creamier than Gong cha. Too bad they don’t have taro flavor. Mine is the one without pearls because I like to drink my drink and not chew it. Annnnd there’s a newly opened branch in SM Manila! I no longer care that that mall is very crowded.2Thanks to social media, Ministop’s Uncle John fried chicken is becoming more popular. It deserves the recognition and fanfare. Thanks to Tan, I found out that one of the best ways to eat it is by putting soy garlic sauce all over the rice. Plus, it now has a spicy version! Yas for one of our go-to lunches back in 2008.

In front of Adamson University near U.N. is a stall selling siomai and shanghai rice. An order of rice and 3 pcs siomai costs 25 pesos only! Plus, you can mix your own sauce. I don’t mind eating it from a bowl covered in disposable plastic, standing along the sidewalk, arm in arm with other diners. I think this is the budget-friendly version of my food photodump haha.14Ate Rica’s Bacsilog at UN Square Mall. I understand why this particular type of -silog is popular. The saltiness of the bacon and the cheesiness of the sauce on top were enough to save the generic rice. Next time I’m ordering the double toppings. I just hope the excess oil from cooking was removed before putting everything in the cup. And I’ll digress but I should probably practice my speaking because servers mishear/misspell my name. From DQ’s Runny, to this Randy, Hot Star’s Rally, and the funniest so far, Gong Cha’s Granny.  11Llao Llao. Only the best yogurt I’ve tried.17Sarsa at Mall of Asia is okay especially if your dining with a balikbayan. Their isaw is overpriced (almost 200 pesos for two or three sticks ata kaloka!), the dinuguan lacked something, the sinigang not sour enough, and the vegetables of pakbet a bit hard. But their sisig was good and the pancit, gone in seconds.

Frankie’s is what other wing joints are aspiring to be but are not. The price is reasonable, the serving is adequate, and the taste is delicious. I’m sure my younger brother will enjoy eating every single piece of meat off the bones as much as I did. My favorite as usual is original buffalo with blue cheese dip. My only complain is the location of their branches. There’s one in Mandaluyong (SM Megamall) and Pasig (City Gold Plaza) and two in Taguig (SM Aura and Fort Bonifacio) and Quezon City (SM North and UPTC). Paano naman ang Maynila? Open kayo sa SM Manila, ganon.16Long time favorites that I think I’ve written about before pero uulitin ko pa rin ilagay picture lol.8Thank you annj for the Irvins ❤ Finished it in one seating huhu. I’m not buying this with my own money because it’s steep but to anyone who’s willing to give, thanks in advance!

I have a love-hate relationship with Pancake House. Sometimes I think their fried chicken is the best (even better than Jollibee there I said it), sometimes it’s just an overpriced piece of dry meat.29Kumori’s Matcha Choco Latte is similar to Starbuck’s Matcha Espresso except it tastes more bitter. Let’s face it, Matcha TASTES like grass. Why do we still drink it? Because of the antioxidants my friend and not because we want to punish ourselves. Besides, it gets better the more you force it down your throat.

The bread was stale. Or my expectations with Japanese bakeries are just impossibly high? No, the bread was really stale. Again, the tuna filling, was good. Must be our weather being incompatible with Japanese flour or something? The Hanjuku Cheese is a different story. It’s soft and fluffy like clouds or a baby’s butt (whichever you want). It’s a reward. If it was cheesier, it’d be the grand prize.6Dohtonbori at SM Mall of Asia. I look forward to my sister’s layover here in Manila because (1) I get to see her (2) We get to stay at her hotel room for the night and (3) I always have a say on where to eat so I usually reserve the restaurants I want to try but are beyond my budget or am too lazy to commute to for when she’s here (Sorry schwes bawi ako pag may work na mwa).

The Gyudon and Ceasar Salad were delicious but of course, the highlight was Okonomiyaki, the savory version of Japanese pancake. First tried this in 2007 and I remember it having noodles. The ones we had (Butatama and 4-cheese) unfortunately didn’t because I only saw the Premium selection on the next pages after we already ordered. They were nonetheless satisfying and filling. I want to eat there again.7If you put mayonnaise long enough under heat, you see with your own eyes that the condiment is REALLY just fat. I don’t care I still like it. I learned long ago that the best way for me to consume vegetables is to drown them in meat and sauces. Works every time.IMG_1944The hybrid burgers of BeefX (formerly Big B Burgers) are delectable. Their patties are 50% beef and 50% other meat (bacon/spam/longganisa). Potions with feelings are served with a presentation which was rather awkward. I wish the poutine, a dish we can thank the Canadians for (and called Poutine ng Ina in the menu), had more cheese curds. The best thing about it is their price point, 140 pesos for a burger of that caliber ain’t bad. The worst is the store’s ventilation. Heat from the kitchen is trapped in the dining area together with the air conditioning. You leave smelling like a burger.

A block from where I live is a place where we can have Batangas Lomi. It’s not a good version (the soup is too thin, the ingredients too little) but it’s better than nothing especially when I have my cravings.23Shi Lin at Circuit Makati. It’s like the cheaper version of Din Tai Fung.IMG_0371Mami at Yue Lai Seafood and Hotpot Restaurant along Mabini. We were supposed to go to Binondo but ended up here because Arla lived nearby. I’ve seen this for a long time since it’s just beside Lau Chan but am always intimidated to go inside, it looked expensive. It’s true, abalones and crabs and live fish can be expensive but this one is priced fairly. The noodles are thin, the beef tender, the serving generous. IMG_0594In February, I was in Tagaytay twice in the same week. The first one for one of the most fun and heartfelt weddings ever, and the second for my sister’s birthday staycation.

Before going home, we decided to stop by Mushroom Burger in memory of Tito Del, the first person who brought each of us (on different occasions) there. Almost five years on and the loss is still palpable. Our eyes still sweat whenever we have “what if” conversations about him. I guess it doesn’t go away.IMG_2318Walang sinabi ang Chowking sa sarap ng fried chicken at pancit combo ng Mushroom Burger!IMG_2319Bulgogi Brothers! I remember the first time I ate here, five of us shared in the cheapest set meal available and just filled ourselves with the banchan. The manager may or may not have scratched his head as he compared the space we occupied and time we stayed there with our bill haha! We were broke college students then (I still am, actually). Biane!

Last December, Ate Clarisse (a responsible, earning adult) and I had a set meal good for three/four persons all to ourselves plus an extra order of meat. Naubos naman namin pero di na makahinga! Thank you ateeee 🙂
IMG_1025Masarap, kailangan lang may kasabay na maalat otherwise di ko mauubos.IMG_1911Much has been written about Ippudo’s ramen so let’s take this time to appreciate their Torched Salmon Roll. So tasty and soft one order is not enough but I have no choice because a serving is only 5 pieces and from what I remember, it costs as much as their cheapest ramen?IMG_2704Locavore for a meet-up slash mini baby shower for Abi bebe ❤ Thanks to Irvins, whenever I see salted egg chips in the appetizers menu I am inclined to order it. The restaurant is known for their locally-sourced ingredients as well as creativity in presenting well-loved Filipino staple dishes in a new way. Must tries are Sizzling Sinigang, Lechon and Oyster Sisig, and Mac’s boneless chicken.

It’s weird for the sinigang and sisig to have gravy (or if that’s not gravy whatever that brown sauce is called) but for some reason, Locavore made it work. The dishes were enjoyable except for the boneless chicken which was average.IMG_3247Galbizip: probably the cheapest KBBQ all you can in the metro. 299 pesos gives you unli samgyeopsal and banchans for an hour. You can actually choose between cooking with butane or charcoal. I know meat tastes better when cooked with the latter but it’s also slower and we wanted to make the most out of sixty minutes so butane it is. The banchans they offered were pretty decent. There’s the usual lettuce, nuts, kimchi, rice, egg, and noodles. Standout was braised pork similar to Adobo. I actually eat it with the rice while waiting for the samgyup to cook.

We were I think nine in the group had more or less a dozen plates in total. Had to change the grease receptacle thrice as well. Eating the same kind of protein over and over might be too much so you have to unleash your creativity with the side dishes and eat your way into the restaurant’s bankruptcy (As if! We know food businesses have one of the highest mark-ups on cost).21I guess Malate is not yet over the Korean BBQ craze. A relatively new buffet restaurant is Premier along Mabini. Tordy and I ate here last December and had to wait two hours just to get a table. To think that we went late to supposedly let the dinner rush hour pass! Anyway, the cost is more than twice that of Galbizip (580 plus tax ata for the Unli Mix Promo) but so is the quality of the food (more than 12 refillable banchans to choose from). AND THERE’S NO TIME LIMIT.

I decided not to post pictures of the meat because the colors are so nice it might tempt me to visit again. The service is not topnotch but that’s understandable because the place is open 24/7 and though the crew work in shifts, it’s still taxing to serve customers who are hangry from the long wait non-stop (also, can you see the amount of utensils and plates they have to carry and clean?).IMG_7958The Wholesome Table in Bonifacio High Street. Bacon with no grease is still bacon but at the same time, it’s not anymore bacon. Know what I mean? Anyway, I was surprised with the hefty serving since these kinds of restaurants usually think their diners only have half the stomach a normal human has (or I just have twice the size?). The salad was fresh and made delightful by the dressing. Kanto Freestyle’s Pesto Tomato tastes better but overall, this was a good breakfast.

Sincerity Cafe ❤ I already know that their fried chicken tastes best when paired with plain rice because it’s so delicious no other flavoring is needed but I still order fried rice *shrug emoji*. First time to taste Machang, I appreciate the abalone and meat inside but then again, I came there for the chicken.18In memory of our family’s HK trip. Yoshinoya tastes better there. That or nag-iinarte lang ako.IMG_6703Do you know that during your birthday month you can avail of a free Original King (Butao) if you bring one paying customer who’ll also order the same flavor at Ramen Nagi? I didn’t. It was Arla who told me and I’ve been telling everyone since haha! We also tried the pork tonkatsu roll and it did not disappoint! Like rolled bacon that is deep fried, drizzled with mayonnaise then served on a bed of sliced cabbage to make you feel less guilty about eating fat fried on fat drizzled with fat. But who cares about calories when the food is good?

For Xion’s Christening, we had the celebration at Cafe Juanita in Kapitolyo. I never had the chance to eat here before the occasion but I’m sure I’m coming back. That Kare-Kare! The tofu! The pancit! The pakbet! The cassava cake! (I’m not even sure if these are available in their regular menu). One of the best binyags ever! 30Wingman at The Collective in Malugay. If you like your wings naked and without much batter, this is for you. Otherwise, Frankie’s pa rin. Comparison aside, it’s pretty delicious.IMG_6409Ooma! Already forgot the names of the plates we had and even when I checked the menu again online I couldn’t pinpoint which is which but they were the bestsellers and lived up to the distinction.IMG_8955Most memorable and the ones I remember the names of were Soft Shell Crab Katsu and Hangar Steak! The latter was so tender (medium well) but you have to eat it fast because the texture of the sweet potato mash gets icky the longer it comes into contact with the grease from the steak.IMG_8956Another restaurant I had to wait two hours for before being seated in (good thing I was with good friends and we had a lot of catching up to do) is Mendokoro Ramenba in Salcedo Village. Upon arriving, you line up at the cashier to order, pay, and get your queue number slip (one for each person). Then the waiting starts. The only seating option available is facing the open kitchen like in a bar, and I think it can only house 20 customers at a time. No wonder. After what felt like a hundred false alarms and half a dozen conversations of “lipat na tayo“/”naghintay na rin lang e, dito na“, our queue numbers were finally called. Thankfully, we were seated at the far end where we are not pressured into wolfing our bowls down fast by the impatient stares of other customers.

Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen. The soup was thick and milky, the noodles firm.IMG_9117Tantanmen. This one had a chili kick which I prefer. The first bowl is too savory.IMG_9114Miso Tonkatsu Ramen.IMG_9113Plus a side order of gyoza.IMG_9121Toby’s Estate. I like this cafe and wish there was a branch nearer to me. The interiors (or at least at their branch in Salcedo Village) is light and homey. I like their Flat White but especially love their Chai Chocolate even if I’m not usually fond of chocolate drinks (with the exception of course of Moo and Chuckie and Milo).IMG_9137Blocleaf Cafe along M.H. Del Pilar. This one has been featured in countless sites because of the architecture and the food. The space is really small I think there are only two tables inside plus four chairs facing the road. But I do agree that it’s pleasing to the eyes with its minimalist design made predominantly of wood and glass. I can only imagine how hot it must be at noon time though.

Bebe and I had Dirty Iced Lattes (double the espresso shot) in Matcha and Chai variants for drinks, Longganisa Pasta and Tuyo Puttanesca for snacks. The drinks were refreshing and perfect in the morning when you don’t have yet the energy to do anything. The pasta was a little too sweet at first but you get used to it. The puttanesca, unremarkable. I hope Blocleaf stands the test of time. I appreciate having a place to go to in Malate that isn’t KBBQ or CBTL.27I appreciate Tito Patrick for always cooking my favorite dishes (and his specialties) whenever I go home to the province. Last time, it was Kare-Kare and Dinakdakan. They look like that because they’ve been refrigerated and reheated. Not all things shiny are good for my heart but these two definitely are good with rice.IMG_8955 (2)And last but not the least before I force myself using any kind of reinforcement possible (joke lang healthy dapat tayo) is my cheap snack bought from a sari-sari store/mini carinderia two blocks from where I live. The Maja is not the best but it’s only 10 pesos. The bananas used in the banana cue are smaller and therefore more delicious. The bihon does not compare to Manang Tess’ cooking but putting spiced vinegar on it reminds me of home.IMG_3143P.S. Bar exam results came out today and I’m so happy the people I was rooting for passed (I even got teary-eyed as I spoke to one of them on the phone). Plus, my alma mater produced 5 in the top 20. After euphoria, my heart started beating fast and now I think I’m on the verge of an attack. I’m out. Bye.

Earworms #4

Since 2018 started, I’ve been listening to OPM more. And it wasn’t only the frequency that increased but variety as well. I branched out from the 4-5 Pinoy bands that I’ve listened to for a decade and am happy to know that the local music scene is thriving with the arrival of new artists. I believe at the forefront of this wave are Ben&Ben, a group I first heard two or three years ago after someone invited me to a Parokya ni Edgar gig fronted by them (I remember it was exams week and I regret not being able to go), and IV of Spades, a band I discovered thanks to a fan who uploaded their amazing Route 196 performance of “Mundo” on YouTube last year. There’s also Maude and their cool music video concept for “Habol”, Autotelic, and a whole lot more. Just check Spotify’s Pinoy Indie Mix playlist for the idea. However, I’m ambivalent to the term indie. I hope we stop obsessing over categorizing songs into indie or mainstream. Good music is good music.

Anyway, one of the bands I became a fan of is Munimuni. After I first heard of them through the gut-wrenching song “Sa Hindi Pag-alala”, the only thing I listened to for the next two or three days was their Simula EP. My favorite is “Sa’yo” especially the part about butterflies in the stomach. I read an article dubbing their type of music as Makata Pop because of the poetic use of the Filipino language. It makes them unique and is one of the reasons why I love them. ❤

Sa’yo

by Munimuni

ang buhok mo’y parang gabing numinipis 
sa pagdating ng madaling araw 
na kumukulay sa alapaap 

ang ngiti mo’y parang isang tala 
na matagal na ang kinang ngunit ngayon lang nakita 
kung kailan wala na 

kailan kaya mahahalata 
ang pighati sa ilalim ng iyong mga tawa 

kahit mawala ka pa 
hinding-hindi mawawala 
ang damdamin ko’y sa’yong-sa’yo 

ang buhay mo’y parang kandila na pumapawi 
sa kadiliman ng gabing puno ng dalita 
at ng lagim 

bawat segundo ay natutunaw 
tumutulo parang luha 
humuhugis na parang mga puting paru-paro 

kailan kaya mahahalata 
ang pighati sa ilalim ng iyong mga tawa 

kahit mawala ka pa 
hinding-hindi mawawala 
ang damdamin ko’y sa’yong-sa’yo 

sa’yong-sa’yo 

ni isang beses ay hindi pa ‘ko 
nakakakain ng paru-paro 
ngunit tila bakit ang sikmura ko’y puno? 

saka ko naalala na noon 
nang una kong masabi ang pangalan mo 
nakalunok ako kaya siguro 

kailan kaya mahahalata 
ang pighati sa ilalim ng iyong mga tawa 

kahit mawala ka pa 
hinding-hindi mawawala 
ang damdamin ko’y sa’yong-sa’yo 

sa’yong-sa’yo

Hiking is easy with a healthy body

Thanks to a friend’s relentless persuading plus an ongoing promo, I again enrolled myself in a gym last week. I’ve done this before, twice or thrice. And unlike in the past when I did not even get the value of what I paid for because I only went a couple of times during the first month and then never set foot again the remaining five, I want this time to be different. Actually, I need it to be different. Why, you say?

Well, it was the wake up call of all wake up calls. As is customary during sign ups, I was asked for my current weight and desired weight. When I stepped on the digital scale and saw the numbers, my knees weakened and it felt like someone threw cold water on my back.

As of March 12, 2018, I weigh a whopping 97.6 kilograms! That’s like two sacks of rice. Or two healthy (based on BMI) 156cm persons! The heaviest I’ve been in my 26 years. Heavier than my 2012-2013 super dark phase.

I have a long journey ahead of me. After signing up, I decided to give it a try and two minutes into the warm-up, I was literally wheezing! Half a dozen times during the duration of the routine I needed to finish, I either laid down because I was about to faint, rushed outside to breathe the semi-polluted air of Mendiola, or went to the bathroom to vomit. I really appreciate Thalia (the friend mentioned in the first paragraph) for being so patient and positive with me even when I was giving up on myself. She’d make a good coach. The exercise was doable in an an hour and 30 minutes but I caused delay. It was one of the hardest 3 hours of my life. Thalia said it gets better the more I do it but the fear of fainting for real has kept me from coming back. I’m such a loser.

So I guess the objective behind this post is motivation. I need to shed those pounds if I want to keep doing what I enjoy doing, one of which is hiking. The last mountain I climbed was Batulao in July last year. Nothing followed not because I was too busy nor too poor nor too alone. I just know, deep inside, that my body is not fit enough to do it.

I don’t actually know why Batulao has a 4/9 difficulty rating. I think it’s an easier hike compared with other 4/9 like Tarak Ridge. Though I’m not speaking from the point of view of the 200-pound me because clearly, I had a hard time climbing this 800+ masl mountain.

Fae and I road a Nasugbu-bound bus in Buendia and told the driver to drop us at Evercrest Golf Course where there’s a queue of tricycle to bring you to the registration area. While waiting for our tour guide, we ate breakfast composed of Batangas Lomi and a beloved snack with a twist. The former was different from the Lomis I’m used to, the noodles are thicker and firmer and the egg was boiled instead of battered with the soup. The latter was a pleasant surprise, never thought the saltiness of the fish crackers would complement the sweetness of the brown sugar. My only complain is that the caramelized sugar keeps being stuck on my teeth.3On some parts, the weather was cool. Unfortunately, as lunchtime approached, it became very hot and humid because the trail was exposed, no trees to protect you from the sun. I’m not complaining too much though because I’d take hot and humid over raining and muddy any day. batulao (9)Unlike other mountains I’ve climbed where the view changes from time to time, Batulao is pretty much the same rolling hills. The only thing different is the height of the grass.batulao (4)Some areas are muddy because it rained the day before. As usual, I still did the sit and slide in some steep areas. Thankfully, I only fell down my butt once.410 minutes into the climb, I had to lie down because my body, used to being sedentary for the past months, was rebelling against me. My vision turned from colored into Sepia which meant I was about to faint. Thanks to our guide for bringing candies with him and to Fae for letting me drink 80% of the water we brought.batulao (21)Everything was worth it for this view.batulao (3)5Blue insect at the summit.batulao (7)While I was catching my breath most of the time, this girl right here did not even break a sweat (or if she did, it was because I kept on messing with her momentum due to my unscheduled stops). Proud of you beh!batulao (2)I think I was around 80-85 kgs here (anggulo lang bes).batulao (8)Will never get tired of the feeling once you reach the summit (and will always hate the feeling that I still need to go down after sometime). What I need is to rekindle the love for the climb itself. It’s not only a battle of the physical state but mental as well. I miss the things that go through my head while hiking. Number one of which is almost always “Mag jogging ka na kasi” hahaha.batulao (1)Since we didn’t bring anything to eat for lunch at the summit, we decided to have a decent post-climb meal. In the mindset of tired hikers, “we earned it“. So we rode a Jeepney to Tagaytay.batulao (24)Ended up in Fire Lake Grill in Cliffhouse, Tagaytay. We were the only diners aside from what I can only deduce is a food blogger. All I can say is that she did not have a concept of personals space.

I had fettuccine pasta in black truffle cream sauce with smoked garlic sausage and Shiitake mushrooms while Fae had grilled spring chicken marinated in lemongrass and light curry and basted in Annatto seed oil. Both dishes were delicious albeit pricey and not really suitable post-climb meals. In hindsight, we should’ve gone to Mahogany Market and shared in an order of Bulalo and Crispy Tawilis. I think Fire Lake Grill is perfect for those who  want a romantic date. For two friends who just overcame a mountain and only changed clothes without taking showers, not really.  We felt out-of-place in our shirts and jogging pants and backpacks hehe.batulao (25)The view at Cliffhouse was nice. If you want some peace and quiet in Tagaytay during the weekends, this is the place to be.batulao (27)I wonder when I can climb mountains again. Kailangan ko muna pakiramdaman katawan ko. Hopefully after the boards in May before the rainy season starts.

Gah, I really miss the 70 kg Rani. Hope she makes a comeback this year and stays for good.

no erase period comma

I hate broken promises. I know most of us do but I think mine is way beyond normal. Maybe because I try my best to keep my word, no matter how inconvenient (don’t want anybody questioning my palabra de honor). Maybe as a child I was tricked into believing things that aren’t true. Maybe I don’t have an excuse except the fact that I’m “impossible to deal with”. Bottom line is, it irks me when people don’t do the things they tell me they’d do no matter how small and insignificant, no matter how valid the excuse.

One time, my mother promised that we’d go to Lotsa Pizza for dinner. Being the rotten human that I am, I did not remind her because she SHOULD have known what time we’re supposed to leave. To cut the story short, the store was already closed when we got there and I was so mad “di na maipinta yung mukha ko“. Heck, it wasn’t even about the pizza because let’s face it, Lotsa pizza tastes meh. Just the thought that I was told we’d go but didn’t. There are a hundred more stories like this.

And don’t get me started with friends. You know the story where the main character realizes all his other friends are too busy to hang out with him? The one where everyone else but him has work? Or worse, a significant other? Where the lead basically feels like a spare tire? Fed up, he promises never to cross oceans for people who won’t even jump a puddle for him again.

Honestly, I thought that was the answer. Stop crossing oceans. Wallow in self pity. Look for people who deserve you and will reciprocate the things you give to them. Dispose relationships. Or at least, don’t be too invested in them.

But I thank my God for humbling me, big time.

First off, He made me realize I was overestimating myself. I am neither His gift to humanity nor am the sun around which the world revolves. I was too busy remembering the instances when friends and family bailed out on me that I forgot about the times I let them down. Have I taught my father how to download songs just like I promised? Nope. Have I tutored the classmate who I told could ask me for help in the subject she is having difficulty in? Nah. So yeah, how dare I!

Second, I was reminded that I am looking for love in the wrong places. When promises are fulfilled, we feel important. But no human being can do all the things he says all the time. Heck, how many of us have repeatedly promised to go on a diet? or break a bad habit? Hence, I was placing an impossible burden and unattainable expectations on people who were as broken and as flawed as I am.

There are things only God can give. Most of the holes we have aren’t human-shaped. But it also doesn’t mean we become lone wolves and rely only on our relationship with the Lord. Yes, He is a personal God but He also commanded us to love others. The best analogy for this is one I heard from the Unashamed conference last year. God is the grand prize, everything and everyone else is a bonus.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t figured everything out, just the important bits. This is actually something God is still dealing with me. Last year, three dear friends decided to stop communicating with me. It hurt, a lot. The past few months have been a cycle of denial, guilt, and anger. Just yesterday I cried for one of them. A part of me wanted to slap what they were missing on their faces. I did not do anything wrong (or so I think)! It’s so unfair! Another part wanted me to cling desperately. I bombarded them with messages ranging from I miss yous and let’s try to work this out to outright let’s hangout as if nothing happened.

In hindsight, both of them were wrong responses mainly because they were driven by my pride. So my prayer for this season is acceptance. I am not obligated to all the people who come my way and not all of my relationships will start and end when I want them to. And if when, in the future, God tells me to reconcile, I am sincerely praying for a humble and obedient heart devoid of bitterness and unforgiveness.

I think people letting us down (and vice versa) is also a form of God’s grace, to remind us that it is only Him who won’t let us down and Him to whom we must put all our faith and hope and trust. After all, just like what is written on His word, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19, NLT).

The line about oceans and puddles above actually became popular during my days in Tumblr. Last year, I came across this:

3464abd80564443f183df724dfc5b222--dear-god-crosses

I think a better version would be to cross oceans and climb mountains for people because Someone not only crossed oceans and mountains for us but heaven and earth, death and life. You see, sometimes even our act of giving is riddled with pride and wrong intentions especially if we think we are the ones extending it first. So we always have to be reminded that our giving and loving is but a response (not a payment because it’s like paying off a debt in gold with mud) to what was already done for us on the cross.

Everyday, we contribute to millions of broken promises all around the world.

Every single day, thankfully, we can also hold on to Jesus, the promise fulfilled.