Thursday, September 26, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

My favorite meal of the day

It's always breakfast, no matter the dish, no matter the time of day. When I'm eating breakfast, it makes me feel like something new is about to begin or like something was worth staying up for, and someone, staying up with.

This is my spicy chai latte and hazelnut waffle sandwich from The Wicked Waffle All-Day Breakfast Cafe in Eastwood Cybermall.

Breakfast was at 1am, with a book, The Girl who Played with Fire.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Good morning

This week is off to an early (rainy) start. Too early! But it's good to know that riding off to work at this hour means riding off into the sunrise.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Leaf says I love you

Let me always be a person who looks for proofs of love.

Bus rides



I was 16 when I first started going on public bus rides regularly, first as a college freshman at DLSU, then as a college freshman all over again at UP Diliman.

From our house in Las Piñas, the trip to Taft was more comfortable. I'd take the Tas Trans bus from outside our village, bear the traffic along Alabang-Zapote Road, always watching for the old trees that line the way, and get off right outside La Salle. I loved the Tas Trans bus line, with its clean modern buses and friendly drivers and conducters. I always felt safe. I could leave my school bag with the driver if I had to sit by the back, and I would be sure to get it when it was time to get off.

The trip to Diliman from Las Piñas, on the other hand, will always be a taste of hell, the gates to which can be found at the Alabang Viaduct. The difference was made clear to me on my first commute as a UP student: as the Fairview-bound bus turned to enter the Quezon Circle, the driver had a fight with another motorist. There was a flurry of angry words, and steel pipes were pulled out. I thought I'd have to try to escape a bloody bashing at the only point of exit. Thankfully, traffic cops quickly intervened.

I was scared while it was happening, but when it was all over with the intervention of traffic cops, I told myself, "I'm in the real world!" Of course, I was a naive college student, more a country girl than a city one, raring for any taste of adventure that wasn't anything like my sleepy suburban home.

Compare this to my worst memory of taking the Tas Trans line, which involved having to ride the bus "round trip," all the way to Sta. Cruz and back, because my "bus mates" and I couldn't get a ride in front of the campus. It took us four hours to go home, because of flooding and heavy traffic in Manila. We were starving, but we managed to get off and buy boiled sweet corn somewhere along Taft and still get back on the bus. The commute was horrible, but the experience wasn't really that bad.

When I learned to love travel, long bus rides meant going to Sagada via Banaue or Dumaguete via Cebu. It meant going to Baguio and eating local snacks at each stop. It meant shuttling from a Point A to a very different Point B, and signing up for a momentarily suspension of life in between. For a couple of hours, you can watch life changing outside your window as you deal with a simplified, unignorable now.

I really, really need to get on a bus soon.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm alive

Things have happened.

Some of them I'm happy about, some I'm sad about, some I'm not proud about, some I can live with, and the rest I'm still processing.

I think about mirrors, about how, I've been told, what you don't like in another person is usually what you don't like in yourself.

I think about radical authenticity, about how difficult it is, this business of going for truth and transparency and showing up as yourself in a body that is filled with fear in a world that may not be patient enough to understand.

I think about my relationships, about relating, about the people I've kept close, the people who chose to lose me, and the people I've been glad to lose.

I think about harsh words people have for each other, harsh words I've used against people and harsh words that have been used against me.

I think about how, beneath those harsh words, we really know nothing about each other, and that maybe, just maybe, if I saw that part of you that earned a term of endearment or if you saw that part of me that, I don't know, will never find it in herself to enjoy your misery, then we would think twice before saying anything hurtful.

*****

Tonight I spoke to an old online friend who's been going through a tough time in the last five or six years. I hadn't spoken to him since 2011, and he suddenly just appeared on my Yahoo Messenger.

He updated me on his life story, and suddenly my life was all roses, and I found it in me to feel compassion for someone once again. Suddenly, I was grateful for every aspect of my life again.

"Be good," he told me.

"I try," I replied.

"You've always been a good person," he said.

"You be good yourself," I said, "and I'm sorry about what's happened to you."

"I'm alive," he said, and I could imagine him smiling sadly. "That's it. I'm alive."

*****

I think about the faces I need to prepare and hate preparing. I think about some truths I can't say.

I think about how I am surviving, and how it feels nothing like living.

Then, somewhere in my heart, in that space that had sought to love you and failed without any regret, I think about whether you're feeling the same way.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I love laing and it's news to me

A few days ago, craving one of my favorite street foods, squid balls, I stepped out of Eastwood City, hoping to get my fix at one of the carts along C-5. To my surprise, none of the usual carts were there, perhaps removed from the area by traffic enforcers since new jeepney stops were in place. Still hungry and now frustrated, I decided to check out a new place a colleague had recommended, Señor Liempo.

Like the fishball carts, Señor Liempo is just outside Eastwood City. Located in the same area as Piandré and Omakase, it's an unassuming little place that's a little more than just a food stall with some tables and chairs. I think it can seat 20 (but don't trust me with numbers!). 

I ordered a set meal of their kiln-roasted pork belly (their specialty) and rice, and the young guy taking my order asked me if I wanted unlimited rice or a side dish with it. I told him unlimited rice wasn't an option because I was getting my food to go. He explained that I could get one order of extra rice instead -- which wasn't an option either as I was already having one cup too many.

So I asked him what the side dish was.

"Laing," he said.

Now, next to buro, laing is perhaps the most unappealing Filipino dish I've ever set eyes on. I've always thought it looked like somebody had chewed some leaves, changed their mind about swallowing it, and spit it out with some extra half-digested stuff--which is exactly how I would describe how buro looks, but instead of leaves it would be rice.

It didn't help that growing up I'd heard many of my friends say laing wasn't good. Except they used the word "yuck."

Still, since I'm cutting down on rice again, I grudgingly chose the laing side dish.

Back at the office, as I was thoroughly enjoying the liempo, I decided to give the laing a try. I dipped my spoon into the small container it came in and licked the spoon. Not bad. Then I tried half a tablespoon of it, ready to chase it down with rice and water. But there was no need--I absolutely loved it!

The next day, I had laing for lunch again. And typing this now, I'm hoping I can do a repeat. And I really rue the years I'd spent not eating laing only because I thought I wouldn't like it.

Which led me to wonder: What other things I actually like have I missed out on by listening to people who didn't like them? That question has been on my mind since. I mean, how much of what I think I like now that I'm in my mid-thirties was really shaped by other people's preferences?

I'm still thinking!