Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Who Knew I Could?

I was the most active member of our Catholic community for single young professionals, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon - Quezon City, for several years and I attended nearly ALL of the activities except the annual Unity Games... because they involved sports played under the sun.

People who know me also know the things that I simply don't do. I don't stay under the heat of the sun. I don't run in the sand under the scorching heat of the sun. I don't like sports, except swimming. The list is long.

That was me before. This year, I have been trying to open up more consistently to physical activities, for the sake of my health and my sanity. I invested in good quality athletic gear for my workouts. I practiced shooting baskets with my nephew, who taught me how to do it properly. I actually inquired about badminton rackets in Sports House once, after years of resisting the game.

When my friends who facilitate teambuilding activities asked me to help out as marshal, I dreaded all the sun and the sand that I would have to endure for one afternoon. Disguised as someone else in my cap and ponytail on (I also never wear a cap and almost never leave the house wearing a ponytail), I slathered on sunblock lotion on my face, arms and legs, but forgot to protect my lips.

It was held at beautiful Punta Fuego. We rallied the sales and distribution team of a multinational corporation with one tiring activity after the next. The sun was unforgiving and fried us all. I felt my lips cracking and immediately regretted not bringing my lip balm with SPF 15. Worse, we were like Disneyland cast members who were not allowed to complain or to show tiredness. We had to be perky and solicitous to the employees so they would not hold back from participating in the activities and enjoying themselves.

I helped set up flags and mats and bombs and pails. I played judge and looked at my team's creativity, resourcefulness, and unity. I wanted to run back into the locker rooms and take a quick shower every ten minutes, but it was not me running on unlimited energy that afternoon, and I had to stay and stick to my sweating shirt.

When, after the last activity, the company president thanked us for our unique events, and when individuals on my team thanked me for being a good marshal, I felt light and exhilarated. Dinner at Josephine's in Tagaytay never tasted as good as that night, when I put in a hard day's work and was fed as part of my keep.

If there is a next run, I might wear my disguise again, shed my corporate image which I had long given up anyway, and plunge into the deep, to discover more sides of myself that I thought did not exist.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Circles and Bohol

My balikbayan Tito and Tita from L.A. treated our family to a sumptuous meal at Circles Event Cafe in Shangri-la Makati a couple of weeks ago. We ran out of tummy space in no time for there were simply too many dishes to choose from.

There was something for everybody - grandparents to grandchildren had a grand time walking up and down the buffet spread and picking out their favorites. I had to remind myself that summer was fast approaching and I was on a diet. The few pounds I lost since the new year could have easily been regained had I given in to the various dessert choices. The panna cotta was perfect. Luigi, my 9-year old nephew, said the steak was "very good". Miko, the 7-year-old, got disappointed because the chocolate from the fountain was made from dark and bitter chocolate, which the grownups favored. My parents and I talked about that meal for days afterwards. We definitely want to come back when other balikbayan relatives arrive.

The next highlight of my aunt and uncle's visit was a trip to Bohol and Cebu. We made last-minute reservations through Travel Village of Tagbilaran for an overnight stay at the Bohol Beach Club and a city tour. In this photo, we posed at the real site of the historical blood compact. We had the best tour guide, Grace, who also was trained to take pictures for her guests.
This was taken inside one of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines, Baclayon Church. Beside the church is a small museum where artifacts from the 16th century were on display.

I first saw Panglao Island ten years ago and I fell in love with its serenity and beauty. I was with my fellow law students then on a limited budget and they had to pry me away from the hammock for us to make it in time for our ferry back to Cebu. I was therefore very thankful to be back in Panglao. I did not wait to put my purse down, I strolled immediately on the beach after breakfast. I even woke up early enough to catch a sunrise. My mom knew it was a special occasion then, for I'm a night owl. I had my prayer time on the beach. Fantastic!

The words "inviting pool" took on a real meaning for me when I saw one of the three swimming pools at the resort. I virtually had the pool all to myself and I was free to do laps. My tita just swam short distances, and the rest of our group just watched us on the water. It was a very refreshing swim for me.

Our last stop before the ferry back to Cebu was the famous Bohol Bee Farm. We did not have space for the smorgasboard and just relied on the owner Vicky's picks for our lunch. Must-try are her pates and breads. We also loved the salad made of greens and indigenous flowers. There were various products made of honey to buy for pasalubong and good-quality handbags at reasonable prices.

I definitely want to go back to Bohol, specifically Loboc River for the cruise, and Panglao Island. It was a stress-free holiday too as we were on package tour. You may email Travel Village for inquiries and reservations at tvillage@globelines.com.ph. Tell Leslie, my friend from Lingkod-Tagbilaran, that Ella referred you. She knows I will blog about them. That's what I told her after she gave me a tub of the best ube I've ever tasted, proudly Boholano-made, reportedly the one used for Magnolia's Ube Royale.

I think I could get into this travel writing business. Wait for that on another website, coming soon. ;)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Andok's or Baliwag Lechon of Blogging

Blogs are out; videos (on YouTube) are in - that's what the girl who got me started blogging in 2003 told me yesterday when I asked her why she had not updated her blog in months.

She may be right, but it makes blogging all the more significant for me. I blog because there are people who prefer to read and slowly make sense of the information they're receiving rather than watch videos, which may concededly be more humorous and even entertaining, but which also cater to the everything-should-be-instant mentality of our generation. Plus, I like to write, and Blogspot is my chosen medium.

I am not alarmed even if I cannot switch over to the more favored form of artistic expression. For years newspapers have survived even if "Video Killed the Radio Star", as the first music video said about TV's effect on the rule of the airwaves showed. Some people have grown accustomed to getting their hands blackened by the ink from their morning papers and prefer to receive their news that way, especially since here in the Philippines, television newscasts offer sensational journalism and even outright capitalism, highlighting the littlest crimes and promoting their respective networks' shows and stars as if they were legitimately newsworthy. These are the reasons why I still read the papers day after day. As an aside, I remember the character "M" in GoldenEye, who was asked by James Bond if the pictures he was seeing were live, and replied, "Unlike the Americans, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN." Me neither.

If it were true that there are less active bloggers now, it makes people like me who like to be read so much happier. I would compare this to the "lechon manok" (grilled chicken) phenomenon in Manila. Many years ago, lechon manok was so much the fad that stalls were put up at almost every corner of the metropolis and surrounding provinces. It was insane. People must have eaten lechon manok at least twice a day in order to consume all the birds that were grilled at that time. Since a family could only eat so much chicken without sprouting feathers and wings, the demand naturally decreased and one by one the entrepreneurs had to close shop. The giants of the business survived, however. Only two big names in lechon manok stayed to rule the market - Andok's Litson Manok and Baliwag Lechon.

Since Filipinos have always liked to join in the bandwagon, this phenomenon was repeated for
shawarma, which according to Wikipedia is "a Middle Eastern-style sandwich usually composed of shaved lamb, chicken, turkey, or beef." After that we got addicted to pearl shakes and everyone, even actors, invested in them and got franchises of different brands from across Asia. Now, shawarma and pearl shakes are still around but only the best-tasting ones have remained.

My Economics professors would probably have a more technical explanation to all these, but going back to blogging, I would like to be known as the "Baliwag or Andok's Lechon Manok of Blogging". Even if other bloggers have come and gone, I would like to stay and write my pieces for those who like to read.

I must admit that I am plain stupid when it comes to shooting videos. My editing skills are even worse, they are non-existent! Yes this really is the reason why I can't entertain you on YouTube. I'd like to stick to what's familiar. I know some people, like my sister-in-law Peeya and my friend Karreen, who discovered latent skills in this medium, but not me.

I plan to write blogs for a very long time.

Monday, February 5, 2007

If I Had a Column...

I have given in to the temptation of creating "another blog". For years, I've kept an online journal here , but my first blog, "Lessons in Waiting", actually appeals only to my family and friends. My relatives abroad check it to be updated of the happenings here in the Philippines, while my friends read to find out the latest in my labyrinthine journey as a Christian attempting to be a lawyer, and vice versa.

In this blog I hope to feature stories of more interest to the general public. The posts would still revolve around things I'm familiar with, because I can confidently write only of what I know. Perhaps I'll talk about movies, travels, songs, concerts, plays, poems, books, and other addictions I have.

If I can't have my own column on broadsheet, which experts say might disappear in a decade or so anyway, then I'll just take advantage of push-button publishing to once more realize one of my dreams.

This blog is for dreamers like me, who can choose to drink coffee or tea while reading this, as if they were holding the Lifestyle pages of their favorite daily newspaper.

At least, that's the plan so far.