7 Days of Salad

Vegan (n.) – a person who doesn’t eat animals and animal byproducts

Last December, after four years and eight months of being vegetarian, I decided to be vegan. That means completely giving up eggs and dairy. That means no more butter in my baking, no more eggs for my sandwich, and no more cheese on my pizza. (No more white sugar, too, since white sugar is generally refined using cows’ bones. Who knew that, right?) Six months later, I am thriving and I still think this is the single bravest decision I’ve made in my life.

Contrary to popular-right-now belief – because if you haven’t been reading the signs correctly the world is going vegan – eschewed by people whose agenda is to sell you their products, vegans and vegetarians do NOT eat only salads. In fact we have veganized everything – from French to Japanese to Filipino to any cuisine you can think of.  (Okay. Mongolia not included.) Most importantly, we eat cake. We’re not particularly healthier, too. We have LOTS of junkfood. Contrary to popular-right-now belief, vegan food isn’t bland and boring.

Having said that, I admit that I am not a huge fan of salads (except of course fruit salad with coconut cream and coconut nectar *drools*). My taste buds haven’t yet adapted to the taste of raw leaves (fruits are not leaves).

But because our office currently has a two-month wellness program and I and Francis have made it our mission to prove you can manage your fat and weight without powdered shakes, I’ve started my personal wellness plan with eating fresh, clean, and whole foods.

This 7-day salad list is the result of that.

Note: There’s not much variety. I make it a point to prefer fruits and vegetables that are readily available in our city. That means Lollo Rosa and Romaine for my greens, cucumber, corn (because my sister from Jeddah sent us lots), and whatever else is in the pantry.

1. Lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin seeds and corn kernels with balsamic-olive oil-garlic dressing

2. Lettuce, raisins, goji berries, sunflower seeds and corncake croutons with dayap juice, balsamic and olive oil

3. Lettuce, cucumber, corn kernels, store-bought salted garlic peanuts

4. Lettuce, black beans, corn, sundried tomatoes, sunflower seeds

5. Taco salad with crumbled vegan longganisa with store-bought salsa (best ever!)

6. Boring restaurant salad (Magellan)

7. Lettuce, sunflower seeds, green olives, vegan sausages, olive oil-balsamuc-garlic dressing

The result of my experiment? I lost 1.2 pounds a total of 3 inches around the belly. Not bad for someone whose not counting calories, eh?

Anyway. Angel just got her Nutribullet from Lazada which I’m inheriting when she gets married. Next week I’m going to show you 7 Days of Smoothie. Savvy?

Bonus:

I’m addicted to the dressing I doused on most of my salads and it’s so easy to make. Just mix 1 part extra-virgin olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, 1 part minced native garlic, salt and pepper in a jar, cover tightly, and shake until emulsified. You can use whatever herbs you have but Francis loves garlic and I love Francis.

Coffee Cake Muffins (Version-2)

In my previous post, I said I hate coffee for two reasons: 1) it makes me palpitate; and 2) it wakes me up. Two hours after finishing that coffee cupcake, I decided on a third reason: I’m acidic. I swore I’m not having coffee again (except of course in chocolate cakes).

But today I found myself baking coffee cupcakes again. Reviewing the recipe from Bosh, I discovered that I made a couple of stupid mistakes:

  • The original recipe calls for self-raising flour. In my excitement, I missed the self-raising part. Thus the absence of a raising agent.
  • I forgot to reduce the amount of flour. Because whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, 3/4 cup of it should be substituted for a cup of its refined counterpart.

In addition, I discovered that each unfrosted muffin contains a whopping 280 calories! And I doused fudge on Every. Single. Muffin. To add insult to the injury I ate two. And it was breakfast.

Horrible.

And so, as if it could undo the damage, I decided to make another batch. This time, it will be fluffy (I thought if I made it fluffy I could halve the recipe and still have 12 muffins) and lower in the calorie department.

I also decided that this time, I will take my time preparing the ingredients. Here’s the step by step account:

First, I cleaned the entire work area and prepared only the necessary equipment and ingredients. I prepped my muffin tin, too. By necessary I meant the oven, one mixing bowl, 1/4-cup measuring cup and measuring spoons. Seriously that is everything you need. This is Tip 1. Clear the clutter, clear your mind.

Next, I preheated the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). A pastry chef in the nutrition club I joined before decided to go vegan made me purchase an oven thermometer. It was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. Tip 2: Buy an oven thermometer.

In connection with that, it’s really important to preheat your oven. That makes the difference between success and favor. That’s Tip 3.

Then, I made my self-raising whole wheat flour. I measured 140 grams of whole wheat flour and added in 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. From this mixture I measured 3/4 cup. This is Tip 4, or how to make your own self-raising whole wheat flour. Hahaha. Courtesy of Food Network.

Tip 5 is scooping ingredients into the measuring cups using a spoon. Scooping directly with your measuring cups may result in you getting more that what you need.

The next I did was to measure everything before I start mixing the ingredients. This is a very easy cake recipe with just five ingredients and does not require mixing the dry and wet separately.

Because I don’t have a food processor, I mixed the ingredients by hand. Tip 6: do not overmix. Then, I spooned the batter into the lined muffin tin. Since I expected that the cake will rise during baking, I just filled them halfway. (Plus I intented them to be small to halve the calories so…) Gently tap the tin on the table to get rid of air bubbles.

Once the oven reached the desired temperature, I popped the tin into the oven and patiently waited. Yesterday’s recipe had a baking time of 20 minutes but since this recipe is just half of that, I estimated the baking time to be 12 to 15 minutes.

Since these are muffins, you can tell the cakes are done when cracks form on top but they still look moist. Tip 7 comes from baking goddess Anna Olson: it’s better to slightly underbake than slightly overbake. Using the toothpick test, I removed the cakes from the oven at 14 minutes.

Now here’s Tip 8: Cool the muffins in the tin for just a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Leaving it even a tad longer in the tin continues the baking through residual heat, risking overbaking.

The muffins turned out this way:

Observations:

  1. The muffins did not rise as much as I wanted. I wanted them to double but that’s stretching it too far, right?
  2. The coffee flavor was really pronounced this time. Unlike the first version, which tasted more like sugar, this tasted like black coffee.
  3. They definitely are cupcakes, not muffins. Hahaha. Truth is the tops are ugly. (None of the beautiful cracks I was aiming for.) They definitely need frosting but I didn’t care for the extra calories.

All in all, I am pleased with how these muffins turned out.

Healthy Coffee Cake Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour  (measure from mixture of 1 cup flour plus 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4-1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, lightly packed
  • 2.5 tbsp fine coffee powder, decaffeinated (I used Nescafe instant) – you can use less coffee is you want a subtler flavor
  • 6 tbsp cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup cup oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and divide batter into muffin liners.
  3. Bake at preheated oven for 12-14 minutes.
  4. Cool on a rack.
  5. Eat.

So there you go. Try it and tell me what you think! Happy vegan baking!

P.S. Francis’ verdict:

Q: Regardless of the calorie count, which muffin do you prefer?

A: I prefer this one.

Q: How many of these will you eat without feeling guilty?

A: 5

I so love this man.

Coffee Cake Muffins (Version 1)

In this age of coffee shops, I consider myself an anomaly: I hate coffee. First, because it gives me palpitations. Second, because it wakes me up. Being someone who prefers sleep over everything (yes, even chocolate), I naturally gravitate towards the calming, soothing, sensual route of tea.

Having said that, coffee is indispensible and irreplaceable in my baking arsenal. I love chocolate second only to sleep and coffee plays a huge role in that: in baking, coffee gives depth to chocolate and enhances its goodness. Therefore I always make sure to add coffee even if the recipe doesn’t state it. (Truth is I wouldn’t know if it affected the finished products since I never tried not mixing coffee.)

So to pay my respects to this ingredient (and do a little something for coffee-loving F), I made coffee cake. Which I turned into cupcakes. Because I’m a cupcake person.

I followed the coffee cake recipe from my favorite Facebook page, Bosh, although with some modifications: I used whole wheat flour (because I’ve recently decided to bake only with whole wheat and gluten-free flours for fitness reasons), used muscovado instead of light brown sugar (because I’m just finishing off the remaining muscovado – which I thought was unrefined but turns out isn’t – and then I’d switch to coconut sugar), and used 5 tablespoons of coffee instead of three.  (I know. Five, right?) Also, as I said, I turned it into cupcakes thus reducing the baking time from 25 to 20 minutes.

(I was scared because the recipe didn’t call for any rising agent but I stopped myself from adding in baking soda and vinegar and decided to trust Bosh. Needless to say, naturally, it didn’t rise. Not that it was meant to.)

The finished product are twelve dense yet yummy cupcakes. There’s a nutty flavor and texture from the whole wheat which I love. For the icing I just melted Malagos chocolate in soymilk and coconut butter and whisked it with a little powdered sugar with a hand mixer. It was runny but I’m yet to learn frostings. And a sprinkle of cocoa nibs on top. Because I have to have chocolate.

For a first try, not bad. Not bad at all.

And yes, I’m palpitating right now.

Coffee Cupcakes (makes 12)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup muscovado sugar
  • 5 tbsp fine coffee powder
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 3/4 cup oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line cupcake tin with 12 liners.
  2. Mix all ingredients and whisk.
  3. Pop in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Once done, cool for a few minutes (maximum of 5) in the tin before letting cool on a rack.
  5. Eat as it is or frost as you wish. 😊

P.S. The cake is going to be heavy and dense. F said he won’t snack after eating one. One of these days I’m going to experiment and add a rising agent. Maybe I could double the yield to halve the calories too. For the meantime, I’m going to drink tea to ease the palpilations. Lol.

Because It’s Pentecost Sunday: The Girl Called “Makahiya”

I remember that Friday in March two years ago.  I was wearing blue and praying intently, thanking God for the gift I didn’t deserve.  Then, the girl who read at the Mass said the priest wanted to see me.  Without any idea why, I followed her to where the priest was and he said, “Would you like to read?”

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Would I like to read?

If you’d known me just recently, you’d find it hard to believe that I used to have a bad case of stage fright.  (On the other hand, people who knew me from college would find it hard to believe that I talk a lot now.)  In school, I dreaded having to recite and report.  If only I can get away with just sitting there listening and taking exams and doing papers, school would’ve been a piece of cake.  I remember losing my voice in the midst of a Shakespeare report and once in college I literally wept.

Someone even had a simile for me: I was “makahiya” – or bashful mimosa, a sensitive plant that folds to the slightest touch.  Talk to me and I would be lost for words.  Literally.

Would I like to read?

Being a lifetime reader, of course I would like to read.  I became a librarian because I thought I could read everything I wanted.  Guess I’d leave everything for a job that paid me to do nothing but read.

But reading for the Mass is different.  Reading for the Mass means walking up in front and proclaiming the Word of God for the whole congregation.

I, the girl who would cry if asked to speak before more than five people, the girl whose social vocabulary consisted of “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.”  I can’t do it.  Knowing my limitations, I replied, “Yes, Father.”

Why did I say that?  I don’t know.  All I know, and I remember the feeling clearly, is something inside compelled me to answer nothing but “Yes, Father.”

On May 30, 2015, I was installed as a member of the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators.

Today, I read for ordinary day and Sunday Mass.  I am also an anchor of our radio show.  I sing (and dance) in public now.  I do emcee-ing for trainings and programs, even without preparations.  And I talk to people now.

Who would’ve thought this “makahiya” would be cured of her stage fright by nothing but that “Yes, Father”?

Date Like a Vegan: Pipino Restaurant

Francis and I have decided that our dates are going to be centered on food. Instead of visiting tourist spots or doing activities the place has to offer, we are going to scout its vegan food scene.

The first product of that mutual decision is this post.

We’ve planned this date since March – since we first learned of the free admission at the National Museum Planetarium – but things always came up on our chosen weekends. So we decided to take a leave from work BEFORE THE FREE ADMISSION ENDS. Anyway what’s one day compared to a serving of vegan karekare, right?

Pipino: Vegetarian Food by Pino, is found at Malingap St., Teacher’s Village, Diliman, Quezon City. It’s from the same group that owns Pino – a non-vegetarian restaurant – which is on the ground floor. Francis and I made the mistake of entering Pino instead and in horror saw animal bones being served. Pipino is on the second floor.

The place is small and cozy and is everything we imagine a vegan restaurant to be. The color scheme, the furniture, the decor – they’re all earthy. There’s no mistaking this is meant to be at least eco-friendly.

We had lemongrass pipino ginger cooler which was very refreshing after being under the hot Metro Manila sun. We loved the warming kick of the ginger, a welcome antidote to brainfreeze.

Next to be served is this pancit canton made of buckwheat noodles. Actually, I wasn’t impressed taste-wise. (Francis makes better pancit and I make better fried tofu. LOL.) The restaurant can use a little seasoning. But the lumpia was so delicious we ordered the trio plate.

Unfortunately, by the time they arrived we were full to our throats so we had them packed for take out instead. Of three variants, the one with the nori – sosy-fied lumpiang gulay – is the best.

The reason we chose Pipino to be the venue of our first food date is actually the karekare. It’s Francis’ favorite food so we were both excited when it arrived that we immediately dug in and forgot to take a picture. I, for one, missed the puso ng saging. The bagoong tasted like Lee Kum Kee garlic and black bean paste. The best thing is it inspired us to develop our own karekare recipe for the vegan restaurant I’m planning to open.

And of course, the highlight of our date: dessert! We had the halohalo. The ice cream was orgasmic (or at least we think because we haven’t had vegan ice cream before… and we haven’t had ice cream in a long time). We didn’t like the leche flan: it was depressing that it didn’t taste like the dairy version. My ultra high expectations for the leche flan were not met. Good thing Francis was impressed with the sweet potatoes and I loved the sweetened coconut and we agreed that overall, the owners should be proud of their summer offering. It was delicious.

Overall, Francis and I were much pleased with our first food date. Not only did we feel we were superheroic eating while saving the planet, we’re now inspired to finish the concept of the 100% vegan, 100% halal and 100% kosher restaurant that’s opening in San Jose City someday.

Thanks, Pipino! Now where’s our next delicious date going to be?
😋

Vegetarian Food: Cagayan de Oro

Truth is I’d rather this trip didn’t happen. There are still moments I wish I didn’t push through with the summer conference. Then maybe Inoo wouldn’t be sick, then he wouldn’t die. Or if it really was his time, at least I would be by his side. But I know that no matter how hard I wish I could turn back time and change everything, Cagayan de Oro happened. I also know that Inoo wouldn’t want to see me unhappy forever because of him – he has always done everything to make me happy.

Also, Cagayan de Oro had been good to my vegetarian belly that forgetting about it entirely is a disservice to the city. So here it goes: my vegetarian (mis) adventures in Cagayan de Oro!

Day 1: April 26, 2017

Since deciding to become vegetarian five years ago, I had become a traveling Girl Scout: I make it a point to do my research prior to the trip on vegetarian restaurants, health stores and markets, and I pack lots of emergency food that would last for days just in case. Just to illustrate how unprepared I was for this trip, I only had a family pack of Grower’s garlic and onion almonds, since I was confident I’d actually have food at the venue because I indicated in the registration that I’m “vegan”.

Unfortunately, there was no vegan food at the buffet. (Apparently there was an instruction to send me to the kitchen to plan my food but I wasn’t told about it until Day 2.) So when the conference started at about half past one, I was so HANGRY I almost cried.

Good thing I brought a box of Yogi Green Tea Kombucha – the best variant I’ve had so far – and I lasted until snack time where they served suman and a slice of mango. It actually came with hot chocolate but I refused it, naturally, since it had milk. (At this point I’d like to thank the waiters at Pearlmont Hotel for being honest and knowledgeable about what’s in their food.)

Before dinner, I went to Healthy Options at Centrio Mall to buy noodles, granola and hot choco mix.

Dinner was great. From Centrio I walked for about twenty minutes to Pilian Cafe at Centerpoint. Pilian Cafe is a small vegetarian restaurant that I found on my research.

The place was actually packed when I arrived. I was pleasantly surprised to know that there’s a market for vegetarian food at CDO.  Because it’s just my second time at a vegetarian restaurant (the first was at Ima’s at Puerto Princesa in 2013), I ordered a lot for one: cucumber shake, fried vegemeat with mushroom gravy, and Veggie Glow rice bowl.


Needless to say, I finished everything. See 4th photo.

Day 2: April 27, 2017

Day 2 was a lot better. The organizers finally realized I hadn’t eaten so I was sent to the kitchen for the very specific instructions for cooking my food. I came up with this:


So by lunch I had a family size serving of chopsuey – which I have to say is really delicious – that I shared with another vegetarian at the conference. For dinner, I had a huge plate of tossed salad which I honestly didn’t enjoy because I’m not really a salad person. Anyway, apologies for forgetting to take pictures of the food because I was too excited to devour their veganized food. I’d just post this instead:
I inserted being vegan with the group activity (linked data or how to connect “Ariana Grande” and “rice”) and got applauded for my genius. Lol.

Day 3: April 28, 2017

I received the news of Inoo’s illness on Day 3 so it was such a particularly hard day. Since my fruit plate didn’t get delivered, I ate Annie Chun’s udon bowl from Healthy Options for breakfast – which was scrumptious, if you’re wondering – and this vegan fig bar I accidentally found at 7 Eleven. Why don’t they have in all their branches?

For lunch, I had another family-size platter of sotanghon guisado. Again, I failed to take a picture – because I was distracted about Inoo. But I swear the chef at Pearlmont Hotel did a great job.

For dinner, despite not feeling hungry at all, I returned to Pilian Cafe and had carrot juice, sisig (which I learned was not vegan too late and it made me guilty that I found it really delicious), brown rice and fried sweet potatoes.

Nevertheless, I tried to enjoy my dinner in between praying that God spared Inoo.

I also bought pasalubong from Pilian Cafe: their guilt-free chicharon and Mookie. Because of Inoo’s illness I didn’t have the chance to look around for vegetarian pasalubong as I usually do. But no regrets: my Inoo is more important.

Day 4: April 29, 2017

Pineapple juice, Fig Bar and Soon vegan ramyun from 7 Eleven was all I ate.  (And it was brunch.) I was not hungry. I was sad.  Inoo died. But…

In another circumstance, I guess being vegetarian in CDO would have been a better experience. Unfortunately I couldn’t be “in the moment” at the time.

So maybe next time.

After all the nice lady at Pilian said I should bring my Significant Other next time. Let’s see. If he wants. And if Cagayan de Oro isn’t traumatic anymore.

Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Greg McKeown)

18451783_10210383203270502_4300204862066979574_oShe said I was the only librarian she knew who didn’t like books.

It was 2011.  I just weeded out ALL the old textbooks from the school library.  (Come on.  One title had like a gazillion copies rotting in perfectly usable shelves and nobody had read them in the past year.)  Then the principal claimed I didn’t like books.  In my bitchbrain, I Anton Ego-ed (my favorite character in “Ratatouille”), “I don’t like books; I love it.  If I don’t love it, I weed it.”  Then I told the kids, “That means she doesn’t know a lot of librarians.”

Because librarians take up selection and acquisition.

I wasn’t a good student in college but I guess UP trained me well in this area of librarianship because even in other aspects of my life, I am a selector.  I have a carefully crafted set of criteria that I (almost always) strictly follow.

Thus, you can call me an essentialist.

“Essentialism,” says Greg McKeown, “is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

“Essentialism,” Patti follows up, “is my new favorite book.”  In fact I’ve read it three consecutive times already.  Here’s three of what I learned:


1. Be Clear with Your Intent

Years ago, I had a book by the UP professor, TV host, comedian, and Internet action star Ramon Bautista.  It’s hard to believe a book that’s primarily meant as entertainment would teach me something I would apply for the rest of my life: halamanization.

From the root word “halaman”. ‘Yan ay ang pag-convert ng sarili mo para ikaw ay maging halaman: nilalang na walang feelings, walang emosyon at walang kalibog-libog sa katawan. Magcoconcentrate ka sa non-love aspects of life.

(“From the root word “halaman” (plant).  This means converting yourself to become a plant: a creature with no feelings, no emotions, and absolutely no lust in your body.  You concentrate on non-love aspects of life.”)

Thus halamanizing I did.  I decided at once that love – specifically romantic love – is not a life goal.  If God thinks I am for marriage, thank you.  If not, thank you too.  Either way I won’t lose sleep on that.  Thus I stopped reading romance and immersed myself in non-fiction.  I stopped watching sweet flicks.  I practically stopped being a fangirl.  You can ask the kids: Ericka even thought I didn’t have feelings.  Through time, I came up with a list of things I consider important in my life, in this particular order:

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Notice what’s missing?  Work.  Money.  Travel.  Marriage.  (God is NOT missing.  Father Peter said God should not be separated from any aspect of our life.)

These goals guided the course of my life for the past years.  I’m glad I explicitly made this list.  Everything I am now is because of this list.


2. There are Trade-offs

In the course of fulfilling my intent, I had to pass off opportunities – “even good ones,” as McKeown said – because they will cause me to stray off the path.  For example, to fulfill goals 2 (being a mom Inoo) and 3 (being a good daughter), I refused the invitation to become a nun.

It was a hard decision, mind you.  The thought that staying with Inoo and my parents meant I am choosing them over God was the most bitter pill to swallow.  In the end, though, I know that I am not going to be as happy if I left my loved ones and went to the convent half-heartedly.  I accepted that and now I have no doubt that I made the right decision.

On another note, loving myself entailed facing the list of things I hated about myself: my ptosis of the eyes, my weight, my skin, the dullness of my job, my fear of public speaking.  Then I made two more lists, and what I will do to solve them:

  1. Things I can’t change
    1. My ptosis of the eyes
      • How to Solve: None.  Just accept God’s design.
      • Trade-offs: None.
    2. The dullness of my job
      • How to Solve: Nothing.  That comes with the routine.
      • Trade-offs: None.
  2. Things I can change
    1. My weight
      • How to Solve: Change my eating habits (it helped I had become vegetarian at this point), exercise, drink lots of water, have enough sleep
      • Trade-offs: Have to say ‘no’ to my omnivore parents, have less time for other extra activities, can’t watch too much TV anymore
    2. My skin
      • How to Solve: Start using natural and organic products, change my eating habits, lose weight, drink lots of water, sleep
      • Trade-offs: Can’t eat food cooked by my omnivore parents, have less time for other extra activities, can’t watch too much TV anymore
    3. The dullness of my job
      • How to Solve: Find my priority (marketing and advocacy), collaborate with co-workers, love my clients
      • Trade-offs: Didn’t pay as much attention to technical work
    4. My fear of public speaking
      • How to Solve: Start talking, serve as a reader in church, accept hosting tasks at work
      • Trade-offs: None.  Except church service means less time for extra activities

In short, if I want something done, I have to accept that I have to let some opportunities to pass me by – especially opportunities that will delay me from reaching my goals.  For example, I opt out of conferences that are focused on the technical aspects of librarianship.  Instead, the training I choose are more on management.

And you know what?  Doing that is starting to pay off.


3. “Priority” is Originally Singular

This is probably the best lesson I’ve read my whole life.  Apparently, the term “priority” only became plural in the 1900s, as if, as McKeown puts it, by adding s we can change reality.  Truth is, we can’t have multiple priorities because that means we don’t have any priority.

Francis and I had been planning on going on a date to the National Museum Planetarium since April but we don’t seem to find time.  We’re both working 8 to 5 so of course weekdays are off the choices.  Sundays are not good too because we’re both serving at church.  (He now has six services on Sundays.)  He’s even joining the Knights of Columbus.  Even Saturdays are off-limits now since we’re both in the Neocatechumenal Way community.  Then we planned to do it on Saturday, May 20, and just excuse ourselves from the liturgical celebration.  But I remembered May 20 is the christening of my goddaughter Francine and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  May 20 is also Francis’ mom’s birthday.

At first, I was really pissed off that the universe seems to conspire against our date.  But thinking about it, would I really have enjoyed being at the Planetarium and missing my goddaughter’s baptism?  And would Francis have fully enjoyed our date knowing he should be with his mom?  No.

It turns out my priority for May 20 is Francine.  Her baptism will happen only once.  His priority is his mother’s birthday.  Nothing else would be more important than that.  Reading this lesson made me realize that if I pursue things that are not the most important at the moment, I will not be happy.


I can write about this book and what I’ve learned from it for ages but I will stop here.  After all I also learned that I should know when enough is enough.

For the recommendation?  Five stars!

Mawmaw’s Goodbye, 17 Days Later

On April 29, seven years, eight months, and eight days since I carried him in my arms for the first time, the handsome white and black dog with the broken heart on his right died.  He died and I wasn’t there.  At 7:02 p.m., all I, his mother, stuck in traffic from the airport, could do was weep in silence “Father into your hands I commend his spirit” as the joy and meaning of my life cried his last cry a hundred and thirty kilometers away.  When I arrived at 10 to what I used to call home – for it’s all different now that the one-dog welcoming committee and the master and the heir is gone – all I could do was take his still warm body in my arms, say how handsome he was even then for he didn’t look like he suffered, feel awed at the fact he wasn’t heavy at all despite his being fat, and bury him.

I’m not a person who prays for much, and, although I forced him to make pinky promises with me, truth is I didn’t have the illusion that my Inoo will live forever.  All I prayed for was for me to be there when God decided to take him, so I can hold his paw, so I can lay with him on the floor, so I can shower him with kisses, so I can whisper to his good ear a million times that I love him and that he is loved and that Mawmaw loves him, so I can sing for him our kunikuni song, so I can hug him even if it meant I can because he would have no more strength to resist.  Because I had hoped being there will ease his pain and sadness.  Because I had hoped if I prayed hard and if I went to church as much as I can and if I served at least four times a week, God would listen.  Because I know that I am his life as much as he is mine.  Yet God decided that my Inoo should go exactly when I wasn’t and I can’t be there.

I don’t get His logic.

Or maybe I do.  Maybe it’s God’s way of reminding me that even if I go to church everyday, even if I pray hard for this one wish, even if I serve, in the end, it is His will… His timing.  Even the fact that I don’t eat animals and advocate not eating animals couldn’t change His mind.

Maybe this is God’s way of reminding me to cherish every second I am with those I love, because I never know when they or I will be gone.

Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me to pay attention to signs.

Or maybe this is punishment because I had been neglectful the last three months.  But no.  God is not that kind of god.

But I refuse to go there.  I refuse to reduce Inoo to a set of faith or life lessons.

All I want is to do is grieve: grieve the fact that the meaning and joy of my life is gone.

I love you, Devil Dog.  Now you can watch over Mawmaw 24/7.  Wait for me.  If Catholic heaven doesn’t allow dogs in it, wait for me by the gates of dog heaven instead.

#OffTheBucketlist: 10 Churches + 1!

It’s April, the fourth month, and I’m happy to announce that I’m checking one goal off my 2017 bucket list.  I’ve visited ten churches.  Yey!  In fact, I got to visit more than that.  Here they are:

NUEVA ECIJA (REGION 3)

1. St. Andrew Parish Roman Catholic Church, Poblacion, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. (Visited on January 28, 2017)

st andrew

2. St. Joseph the Worker Parish Roman Catholic Church, Rizal, Nueva Ecija. (Visited on January 28, 2017)

st joseph

TUGUEGARAO CITY (REGION 2)

3. Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Peter, Tuguegarao City. (Visited on February 25, 2017)

DSC_0549

4. San Jacino Church (Ermita de Piedra de San Jacinto), Tuguegarao City. (Visited on February 25, 2017)*

ILOCOS NORTE (REGION 1)

5. Simbahan ng Sta. Maria (Church of Sta. Maria), Santa Maria, Poblacion Norte, Ilocos Norte. (Visited on April 13, 2017)

santa maria

6. Church of Laoag, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. (Visited on April 13, 2017)

laoag church

7. Pasuquin Church, St. James the Greater Parish, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.  (Visited April 14, 2017)

pasuquin church

8. San Nicolas De Tolentino Parish Church, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. (Visited April 14, 2017)

san nicolas

9. Paoay Church, Batac, Ilocos Norte. (Visited on April 14, 2017)

paoay

ILOCOS SUR (REGION 1)

10. Cathedral of Vigan, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. (Visited on April 16, 2017)

vigan

11. St. Stephen Protomartyr Parish, San Esteban, Ilocos Sur. (Visited April 16, 2017)

san esteban

One goal down. Sixteen more to go. ❤

*I can’t find the photo!!!

Generation Represent: Early 2000s

Thanks to Boy Scout’s packing genius, all my bags are packed; I’m ready to go to Cagayan de Oro tomorrow.

Well, at least I was until I saw this advisory from the organizer of the summer conference I’m attending that says, “Don’t forget to bring your PRC ID and Your Generation Represent! socials night attire” and I was like:

😮😯😲😨😡

In that particular order.

Gahhhhd I hate surprises. 1) I didn’t know they’re throwing a socials night. (Who invented this trend in seminars anyway? How about some consideration for the introverts, yes?) 2) What am going to wear? For someone with a lack of a decent wardrobe, this is torture. (As if thinking of attire for the entire conference isn’t torture enough.) And 3) Which generation do I belong to?

Considering my concerns, of course, are equally important, let me focus on the 3rd: the generation question. The most considerate thing about the organizer is the footnote that says, “Attire: summer get up with a touch of the generation where you spent your adolescent life.” Good. Now my search is delimited.

I then Googled “adolescent” – ikr – and found out for the first time ever that it usually means somewhere between 13 and 19.

Okay. Great. Now I know that would be between 2001 and 2007. All I could think of was Slam Dunk and Meteor Garden and The Ring. Apparently I spent my adolescence fangirling over anime, East Asian boys, and learning Nihongo that I have no idea what else had been happening around me all those years. (Unless I’d considering reminding everybody of the 9/11 bombings by donning Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush. This is not a joke, btw.)

My first thought was to just braid my hair a la Shan Cai. But since I’d mocha-ed my hair last month, I might end up looking like Britney Spears. Or if I put on a pink backpack like Dao Ming Si’s obsession, I’d look like Dora the Explorer.

Slam Dunk’s Ayako was my second choice. After all, I used to dream I was her back in my entire high school to early college days. But it’s a hassle to find a cap, plain pink shirt, and blur cycling shorts. And if I did Ayako I’d have to bring basketball and a whistle and find myself a Ryota Miyagi. No, I had to remind myself that this isn’t a cosplay competition. (Plus I kinda promised Boy Scout I won’t even look at guys there.)

So… I spent like thirty minutes of my precious time cracking my skull about what I would wear.

But for me summer is shorts and white shirt.

Then it dawned on me. Like an avalanche I remembered spending all those lunchtimes (and lunch money) with my friend Joymarie over Optichat. NASL. Lol. Lmao. Btw. Otw. I was an adolescent when I learned them.

From that memory, the emoticons – emojis for you kids. Back then I can read faces via colons, hyphens, commas, exes, etc. There was even a time – specifically when the epic peyups.com was still up – that my favorite emoticon was [colon][no space][type in “rolleyes”][no space][colon]. (I had to write it because it converts into 🙄 .)

And this is how I found what I was going to wear: the faces of early 2000s.

So, yeah. See you at Cagayan de Oro! B-)

P.S.

Btw, I checked the tentative program just to be sure and it wasn’t there. <Insert I-told-you-so emoji here.>

Oops. I meant emoticon. >:-D