THE GOSSIP GIRL

Funny how people love a very juicy gossip; how enticing and how good it must feel to just take on other people’s lives and making it one hell of a hobby! 🙂

Before I was employed in an office-based career, I was on a field-work for the last 13 years and it was a semi-solitary confinement. I work on shifts and usually alone during my work hours; there’s technically no one to talk to except when somebody calls on the phone when something has gone wrong in the system. So, it was basically a very unfriendly working environment, the only good thing is – I don’t have the chance to relate with my other co-workers for a longer time, as I exit from work right after the next person-on-duty arrives. So I don’t have the chance to compare myself with others. No comparison means no feeling of superiority or inferiority. Human nature is all that all the time, hence, loving the feeling of pulling other people down to feel powerful.

When I got an office-based job, it was a roller coaster. Everyone is taking a bit of other people’s lives. I was taking bits and pieces of them, too. But most of the time, I cringe when I realize that I already have been doing what I hate doing. I don’t like to do gossip, but when the opportunity knocks, I succumb. It was, I think and feel, that taking part in it is like socializing, you take sides and voila! You become friends with someone who shares the same ideas and you become one with the group. Who wouldn’t love a very juicy gossip? It’s like eating a very sumptuous moist chocolate cake, you feel good right after!

But after sharing a thought or two, I feel guilty. What it does to me most of the time is very exhausting. It was always a realization that my so-called friends might have been doing the same to me. I have no skeletons in my closet, but anybody can put up a very good story. With all the actions and facial expressions during delivery, I dared something unbelievable could be very much be believable.

Every time the girls group during break time, It was always an opportunity for me to test the oath I swear never to gossip. Most of the time, I fail miserably. What’s worse is I am sharing my personal opinion. Me and my big mouth! Oh, how easy it was to become human and and so difficult to remain humane. Words can hurt so deep that not even the most expensive medicine can heal.

I am dealing with it every single day. I am the big fat perpetrator whenever I open my mouth! And for all I know, I might also be the innocent victim when I’m not in the office. Everything comes in full circle, that’s for sure. It’s scary and now I feel so uncomfortable around people in the office. It is a personal struggle. I’m just glad I still have the time to internalize and gather my thoughts and decipher the good from the bad.

The moral of my musings: Don’t do unto others what you don’t want them do unto you.

MY FAVORITE ADDICTION

Yes, I am a self-confessed addict. I tried giving it up years ago.  At some point, I succeeded; but most of the time, I failed. That being said, old habits just don’t ever die. Through time, realizations just come across from nowhere and makes me sit down and write all the things why I succeed and failed in conquering my addiction. Today is one of those days.

Before I throw in my light-bulb moments, please be informed that I am a working mom who wakes up at 5am to prepare every weekdays and goes to work from 8am-5pm, commutes to and from work in a public utility vehicle and a company bus, gets home at around 7pm, only had an hour of lunch break during the day, a home maker, a cook and a babysitter all at the same time, BUT can still squeeze in reading trilogy novels in 3 days. My addiction for reading romance novels sometimes gets out of hand. 🙂

So bad it is. Here goes my list why reading romance novels is a (kind of) bad thing (?):

1.) It takes too much of your free time (including lunch breaks and coffee breaks at work). When I start to read a very good book, I can’t put put it down until it ends. I feel guilty sometimes, thinking I could have made useful the time I spent reading for other productive things like…reading (?) This is really bad. I cannot even think of any other productive things to do other than reading 🙂

2.) It’s no different from a very addictive video game. The more you indulge in it, it just keeps getting better and better. And like playing a video game, you don’t want to be interrupted or else!

3.) It gives you false hopes. 99.99% of all romance novel theme is all about every girl’s ultimate dreams coming true, leaving one a hopeless romantic and a sucker for happy endings. I hope there is a study of women who loves to read romance novels and on how they deal with real-life relationships (if they even have one 🙂 ). I would like to bet that there is high statistics of women who marry late or never marry at all waiting for Mr. Right to come along just like the heroes in the books (dashing debonair, billionaires,CEOs, Christian Grey). Pathetic.

4.) It introduces you to a lot of erotic strategies. It’s not a bad thing, right? Or is it? For minors, yes? 🙂 I, for one, found romance novels very educational in terms of sex education (well, putting it in my most decent comment for conservative readers). 🙂

5.) Before one book ends, you can’t wait to start reading another one. It is a revolution. And an addiction.

6.) It can give you body ailments – stiff neck, poor vision, fat tummy due to lesser burning of calories while sitting the whole time reading.

My list of negative effects can go on forever, but I love my addiction! So, no stopping it anytime. So much for giving everyone points to ponder! haha

 

 

 

FAMILY FEUD

 

Long before I knew time, conflicts with my relatives and family existed. It was, I think, handed down from generations that were too proud and unforgiving. Today, having witnessed a very stunning confrontation between my two aunts, I tried to recollect the same instances in the past as far as my memory can serve me; the same shallow reasons, the same immaturity. To think, they were already in their 60’s. The pain and the grudge were passed on to their children, making the younger generation hate each other again.

The cycle won’t break and I wonder, maybe they are happy of what’s been happening; are these, for them, stress busters or something? I can only laugh at the idea of while they are raising their voices and  fight one another like children lowers their blood pressure. Yes, it’s true that if you let your suppressed feelings go, it will make you feel better and its healthy. But, the truth of the matter is, while you are punching words at your own brother or sister, you are deliberately hurting them in the process. You are creating a much bigger problem. Wounds can heal, but the words that pierced like a knife will be forever remembered. Same way that I don’t believe in the saying, “Forgive and forget”. I might just love the 5SOS song “Amnesia” if it can be done in any situation. 🙂

The experience helped me deal with my own brothers and sister. In my very first personal blog about family, I wrote about my relationship with my younger sister. As an elder sibling, I tend to analyze what goes around my sister’s brainy brain, why we always have conflicting views and opinions and eventually fight over nonsense things. I think I already figured some of them because we fight so rarely now, unlike before; a little friction with little words always generates really large fires that sometimes I would really want to punch her in the face (I’ve never done that, but I think I would love to haha!).

The realizations came when I saw my two aunts fighting. When me and my little sister grows old, I don’t want us to be like my two aunts. Having said that, I just would like to point out some things that siblings fell prey to and fight over. I may or may not have experienced some of these reasons, but I am preparing myself to overcome when the situation sits.

Here are 3 obvious reasons why I think siblings fight and how to overcome them:

1.) Favoritism by parents – I only have a daughter and she has all my attention. I cannot relate to this as a parent, but as a daughter, I think I can manage a few thoughts. I am second from the eldest; I have an older brother that is only a year ahead of me. I remember, way back as a freshman in college, we were required to speak one on one with the University Guidance Counselor. The first question she asked me straight-faced was, “Do you oftentimes feel insecure?” I cannot think of a clear answer so I just smiled and asked her back,”Why?”. She told me about the psychology of a second child, always the second best, always in the shadow of the eldest. Much more that my age gap with my brother is only a little more than a year, she said that the it’s possible that while we were still babies, I might not have gotten the same special attention as the eldest offspring received. True enough, I was raised with a nanny.

The possibility of insecurities in children that can sprung from favoritism of parents is eminent but can be mended. In my case, I was not as insecure as can be perceived from a child that lacked attention because I always think of beautiful things; as I am a woman of all sorts, I always do a lot of diverting fruitful activities. I don’t mind being always the second best, it is good enough for me already. The bottom line is, I have always loved my older brother; no reason to feel hate or anything.

But, in some families, favoritism makes one good reason siblings fight.

2.) Sibling Rivalry – We are four children in the family and this problem can come up any time. I personally don’t like the idea of sibling rivalry; it’s about jealousy, competition, and animosity between brothers and sisters. It’s not a healthy competition. Often times, it is the parents that are hurt in the end. From my personal experience, I cannot cite  a concrete example of a sibling rivalry in our family. From my own point of view, I don’t remember being jealous or being competitive with my other siblings. The secret lies in happy thoughts. Whatever my brothers and sister achieve, I was always happy for them; no sibling rivalry.

3.) Inheritance – Ah, this is one thing I can not relate first hand. Just knew a lot of family problems that rooted from it. I remember this very touching Filipino movie entitled “Tanging Yaman“. It is a story of a very broken family; full of hatred and jealousy of siblings to the point of arguing and scrambling over to inherit the properties of their parents. This problem exists in most families in all races, except for an only child of course. That is the saddest thing; sacrificing relationships over material things.

I just think that one solution to this problem is for the parents to talk to their children about these things early. It might sound so awkward, really; when the parents are still living and they talk about how to divide their properties equally, if there’s anything to divide (haha). That is the most proactive way to stop the problem from ever surfacing.

Well, those are my top three. There may be a lot more reasons for siblings to fight for, but in the end, I would like to believe that for whatever reasons siblings fight, at the end of the day, brothers and sisters should never fail to reconcile. Family will always be family, no matter what.

I hope I made clear why I put the 5SOS Song “Amnesia” on top of this blog (haha). Well, forgetting the cause of pain can make difficult things easier to do, like “forgiving”. 🙂

A FILIPINO TOURIST IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

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I had the time of my life when I went for a 2-week vacation to see my husband in Sydney, Australia last month. I was really excited to have a really amazing adventure in the Land Down Under!

Since it’s my first out-of-the country travel and alone, I was not familiar with the process. During my assessment in the Immigration Section at the Philippine Airport, the Officer had no questions, she just looked at me and confirmed my picture in the passport and stamped something on my passport. Instead of me proceeding forward past the Officer, I turned back and walked away. I was so embarrassed when they called my name aloud and asked me where I was going; they instructed, again aloud,  that I was suppose to proceed past the Officer to wait for plane boarding! The people were staring at me and butterflies start to swarm my stomach, I just laughed a little and told them, “Forgive the first timer”. Whew! 🙂

From Manila, Philippines, it took me a tiring 9-hour flight. Just so glad that I had no seatmate in the plane; I pulled the armrest between the seats up and slept on it just like a bed. I stretched and yawn and yawn, but could not get myself to sleep. I had been dreaming of this vacation for a long time, that even the most tiring flight can’t get me to sleep. Maybe my subconscious was telling me not sleep because I might wake up and realize that everything was just a dream (haha). Anyway, it was a fun ride; looking forward to reunite with my hubby who is working in Sydney.

So this is Sydney. One of the places I can only read about in books. It was really a lot different from where I live; crispy cold, clean and a lot of amazingly beautiful people. On top of that, I experienced my first taste of winter! (it’s okey without the snow) 🙂

My husband prepared to buy me winter clothes. While we were shopping, I just could not stop converting the prices to Philippine Peso! It was amazingly stressful (haha). The prices converted to Peso were way too big for me already (I’m a cheap shopper, that’s why. haha!) My husband just kept explaining that the price of the goods are as normal as they can get, “We are in Australia, for heaven sake. What can you expect.” In the end, I had the most expensive shopping spree ever; thank you, hubby. 🙂

We went to downtown Sydney and just walked and walked and walked until sundown. Such a lovely city. We went to Hyde Park, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and The Australian Museum featuring Dinosaurs. Of course, how can I miss the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge; we went to it during sunset and I enjoyed it’s beauty in reality. Also went to Darling Harbor and got mesmerized by the amazing city lights at night. I figured hundreds of restaurants, cafes, and bars. And the food, yes the food! I had to taste what’s not in my country. I started with the Fish and Chips with vegetable salad; an introduction to a no-rice diet. Everyone I see were happy and speaking in a very impressive accent (this is just for me 🙂 )   The night is so young in Sydney, and the people looked like they just got started.

My husband bought us a 5-attractions tickets to see Madame Tussauds creations, Sea Life and Wildlife Museums, and the Sydney Tower Eye where we experienced looking the whole of Sydney from the highest point at the breathtaking Skywalk. The Luna Park at Milson’s Point was full of children and those young at heart; the only place I visited crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I felt the heat of the sun on winter at Watson’s Bay and the world-renowned Bondi Beach. The two sites were quite near to each other, so we swept visiting them in half a day. We also went to Manly Beach and bought souvenirs.

While roaming to and fro the city, the most mesmerizing building I’ve seen was the Queen Victoria Building; such intricately built historical structure turned into a modern Mall.  All of the buildings and houses there were historical and were made of winter-ready and very sturdy materials-bricks. I cannot imagine having homes like those here in my tropical country, aside of course for those who can afford air condition units.

We toured the Taronga Zoological Zoo for one day. It was the biggest zoo I’ve been to. Saw for the first time the Tasmanian Devil; they don’t look devilish after all. 🙂 Also saw kangaroos, but I was a bit disappointed not to have the chance to see a kangaroo with a baby in the pocket.

All in all, my experience was the best so far. I could never have done all these things without my partner-in-crime for life, my ever dearest husband. 🙂

 

 

I GOT “HIT”

Wow, its been a while since I wrote something interesting (at least, for me 🙂 ). But lately, I experienced something interesting and find it too intriguing not to write about.

I am two weeks shy from my scheduled vacation to Sydney, Australia, so I am busy preparing my documents for a smooth passage in the Immigration Office on my flight date. My first ever out-of-the-country travel. One of the documents was the N.B.I. (National Bureau of Investigation) Clearance (Philippines’ NBI is the counterpart of U.S.A’s FBI). To acquire the clearance, I went to the NBI Office last June 16 and applied for it.

My name was called after 5 hours and a half to have my picture and my biometrics taken. Supposedly, after that, if a person doesn’t have criminal or derogatory records, one can immediately get the clearance. The sad thing is, I was advised to come back after 5 days to get my clearance because my name got “hit” when they scanned it against their records of persons with criminal records.

Oh gosh, someone with name same as mine is on the “wanted” list. I told the office,” it’s definitely not me!” 🙂 I don’t have to explain further, I just smiled and walked away thinking that along with the 90 million population of my country, someone shared my name but not my “law-abiding citizen” disposition.

I came back on the 5th day. I waited for roughly 30 minutes, anxious but confident to get the clearance. And my name was called at the releasing area.

With my experience, I can’t help but think and feel for those people whose identity were taken mistakenly as notorious. Sometimes, the worst thing happens, I hear news of persons killed by “riding in tandem vigilantes” but close friends and  relatives of the victim would come shocked and disdainful. They would tell stories of how much of a good man the victim was; swearing that the victim never had a bad trait on every strand of his hair. It’s not fair, right?

The city where I live probably had the most cases of vigilantism in the Philippines. We call them the Davao Death Squad. Our City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was the alleged mastermind of the summary executions and was even investigated by the Human Rights Group and the Department of Justice, but was never proven. Our City Mayor would just laugh at it and openly agrees to the summary executions, citing that the victims were trashes to the society; drug addicts and drug traffickers.

Sometimes, I think of these things as beneficial for me and my family. Nobody would dare do bad things anymore. I can walk around the city at night time feeling safe and protected from lawless elements. But when I got “hit” during the clearance, I feel that anybody can be a victim, even me or someone from my family. My conscience is clear; I have been a law-abiding citizen since birth. But what if I will be mistaken for somebody with a really, really bad record?

 

THE ROADS LESS TRAVELED BY

Last May 19, 2014, I had the first chance of a lifetime to travel by land one of the most dangerous places in the Philippines, or so they say; the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.IMG_20140520_121608

We departed from Davao City at 1:00 P.M. I was seated on the passenger seat next to the driver. Mr. Driver asked me if I have any issue regarding speed limit, sighting that he intends to drive at an average of 130kph. I immediately asked why and he told me that there are areas along the way that are very critical after sunset; critical because the residents living around that certain area make “kidnapping” a way of living. After hearing his reason, I immediately said “no” (of course 🙂 ). So, the ultimate goal is to arrive to our destination before the sun sets. I had mixed emotions; thrilled and excited, but at the same time, worried. It was my very first road trip to the infamous home of terrorists in the island of Mindanao, Philippines.

During the first hour, I was asleep; I was still confident because we are still within the boundary of the southern part of Davao Region. When we passed by the Municipality of Bansalan, that’s when I was so wide awake and all my senses activated. I want to witness every inch of the road less traveled by. Mr. Driver was very calm and careful at his 130kph speed, but I can see his urgency to come past the noted areas. The roads are well-cemented; a good sign of progress, but the houses along the way are mostly shabby. The people we passed by looked at us with discerning eyes.

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I can observe tarpaulin prints and paint posts saying proudly “Congratulations! Bangsamoro Government” pertaining to the newly signed comprehensive peace agreement between the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March 27, 2014, that gave them sovereignty over their ancestral lands in exchange for deactivation of rebel forces by the MILF. I can feel tension everywhere, with frequent sightings of War tanks at every AFP (Philippine Army) checkpoints.

When we arrived at our destination, one of the Substations of the company I work for, I still never felt safe because the Security Guards and the Staff were said to be members and relatives of the MILF. We had to be careful of what we say and do around the place. Right in front of the gate of the Substation was said to be the newly built Office Building of the MILFs.

I also got the chance to see where the Maguindanao Massacre took place in November 2009; the municipality of Shariff Aguak. It is also known as the “Ampatuan Massacre” because the alleged mastermind is one of the members of one of the most powerful Muslim Political clans in Mindanao, Andal Ampatuan, Jr. The victims were composed of the wife of the Ampatuans’ political rival, Toto Mangudadato, and her sisters, journalists, lawyers, and civilians mistaken as part of the convoy; a total of 58 casualties, kidnapped, brutally killed and buried in a mass grave.

IMG_20140520_133118I also got to see the castle-like residence of the Ampatuans surrounded with small houses made of dilapidated bamboo matting; a very extreme manifestation of uneven distribution of wealth and corruption.  It was said that the small houses are home to the Ampatuans’ personal army and guards.

 

 

disneyOn the lighter side, I was so amazed at the beautiful Mosques. It was my first time to see Mosques at almost every kilometer interval since we entered the Muslim Region. There was this particular Mosque somewhere in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao that really caught me; it was like a castle in a Disney movie; so pink and so beautiful. It is situated more or less 500 meters away from the road. I cannot get close enough to take pictures; just a snap from our running vehicle, such a shame I can’t stop over and rejoice in its beauty. The mosque is the one over the shabby hut.

IMG_20140520_135050When we got a few more kilometers away from the critical areas, me and my colleagues stopped to breathe fresh air and taste the sweet water melon abundant in the place called “Esperanza”. It was the safest place that we’ve ever came across with; the inhabitants were mostly ilonggos and ilokanos.

IMG_20140520_141901Further down south, we passed by the Provincial Capitol of Sultan Kudarat; a very grandiose mosque-like building located at Isulan, North Cotabato. The travel was already relaxing as we were nearing  Tacurong City; a part of North Cotabato with a more liberal Government because majority of the residents are Christians.

My road trip experience was really very interesting. Having had close encounters with members of one of the most notorious rebel groups in the Philippines, and around the World as well, was very amusing for me. I felt happy and fearful all at the same time. The experience could have me broken, but I loved the hype and the risk.

I am home now, safe and sound, writing this experience.

JUST DON’T MIND THE ONE WITH THE BIG NOSE :-)

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What’s behind me is the name of the small but elegant culinary school here in Davao City where I participated a 2-day workshop on Basic Cakes and Frosting. The school’s name is so enticing as it can get; Gourmet Bites. It was really a joy when I entered the 10-person capacity baking area; I felt so at home, imagining the smell of baked cakes and the feel of the utensils and wearing the cap and the apron were really, really good. I could have been a Pastry Chef. Could have been. 🙂 But, anyway, it was a very fruitful experience. Learning the basics is just the beginning for me. I felt the want to pursue this long overdue dream but just don’t have the luxury of time. Chef Simone, our mentor, was so indulgent in giving away tips for a successful baking.

Two months ago, I was so into losing weight and stuff, but now I am in my new hype: baking. Such amusing irony of both worlds 🙂 I am always into a lot of things; new flavor of activity every month. The idea was not really new; just in hiatus for several short periods in my lifetime during health consciousness moments. 🙂  I get excited with learning new ideas, so pardon my extreme likes for trying desperately to lose calories today and learning how to gain it back the next day (haha). Either way, it just goes to show that I fancy anything about kitchens; the good and bad about the place. 🙂 And one thing I love about kitchens, everything in it never goes out of style; no new or old technology, so no missing out on good food and fun.

Eventhough I can’t be the pastry chef I wanted to be, I still plan to continue the cake baking modules of the school on my own pace and plans to open a small coffee and pastry shop soon. How’s that for a dream? 🙂

I would like to share one recipe that we made during the work shop. My finished product was not perfect, but already very good enough for me (Pic of my finished product on your right) Our mentor Chef’s demo cake was perfect. So, along with the recipe, I will include the useful tips she gave that I did not execute properly (haha). Here goes the recipe :

MOCCHA CHIFFON CAKE WITH WHIPPED MOCCHA FROSTING

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Ingredients:

Cake Flour              1 1/4 cup

Baking Powder      1 1/2 tsp

Salt                             1/2 tsp

White Sugar            1/2 cup

Coffee Powder        1 tbsp

 

Egg yolks                   4 pcs

Vegetable oil           1/4 cup

Vanilla                       1/2 tsp

Water                         1/2 cup

 

For Egg-white Meringue:

Egg whites               4 pcs

Cream of Tartar     1/2 tsp

White sugar             1/4 cup

 

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Lightly grease the bottom of the pan only.
  2. In a bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and coffee and set aside.
  3. Gradually combine the egg yolks, vegetable oil, vanilla, and water. Beat with a whisk until the egg yolk mixture is well-blended and turns light yellow in color. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture and combine well.
  4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer until it looks bubbly; add in the cream of tartar until it starts to look foamy, then add in the sugar. Beat at high speed until stiff peak stage is reached (but not dry)
  5. Fold in the egg whites into the flour-egg yolk mixture. This is the most tricky part. By folding, means “literally” folding in SLOWLY the foamy egg white meringue to the flour-egg mixture using a rubber spatula or a wire whisk. DO NOT stir or whisk because the air in the egg-white meringue will escape and the mixture will become watery; it will ruin the foamy consistency of the mixture. The aim is to maintain the foamy consistency so that the cake will be soft and fluffy. (This is where I got a little bit off; my finished product was semi-compact because my cake mixture became watery)
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake immediately for 25-30 mins.
  7. Remove cake from oven and let cool completely

 

For Whipped Moccha Frosting:

Non-dairy Whipping Cream                      1 cup   (chilled overnight)

Powdered Sugar                                             2/3 cup

Coffee Paste                                                      Combination of 1 tbsp coffee + 1.5 tsp hot water

 

Procedure:

  1. Whip the cream until thick and fluffy
  2. Add the Powdered Sugar
  3. Add in the Coffee Paste
  4. Ice over the cake.
  5. Sprinkle finished product with favorite topping.
  6. Lastly, enjoy! 🙂

I personally love the coffee-taste of this cake. If you happen to try the recipe, I would like to hear feed backs. 🙂