Serum means dusk

Writer-friend says my photography is improving. He says I should stick with the SLR camera because it is a more difficult medium and it is becoming a lost art. Wanted to tell him that the only reason I want to buy a digital camera is because I can’t afford film. But you can’t argue with an artist about costs. Hehehe. My officemate tells me that cost is relative. If you like what you’re doing, you’d be willing to spend more for top quality. True. Of course, that’s easy to say if you have the money. Sigh. Glad that my trip to Sitio Serum improved my perspective on cost and on art. Finally, this blog is beginning to look like a Photoblog.

My church group celebrated our 10th anniversary by donating bags of food and second-hand clothes to Sitio Serum, Guimaras last Sunday. It's a 15-minute boat ride from the city and a 30-minute drive from the wharf. Sitio Serum is a community of Aetas (dark-skinned aborigines) who have been displaced and relocated there. They live by selling whatever they plant, and making charcoal which is not much.


Our friend J and his fellow bikers joined us. While we were breezing through Guimaras on jeepney’s horsepower, they rode the mountains with their bikes and a lot of leg-power.


Her name is Joy and she's 1/2 of a twin. Her sister looks on behind her. I bought the little girls dolls but regretted it when I saw that some of them had no flip-flops. Should have bought flip-flops and toothbrushes.


Meet Maria. She's the most friendly among the kids and has good confidence. While everybody there had very dark skin, Maria stands out because of her light brown skin. I sometimes wonder if skin color does affect people's attitude towards life.

Lightning Speed Lester
Meet lightning-speed Lester. He runs in circles like Speedy Gonzales and makes everyone laugh without even trying to.

sari-sari store

My dentist-friend and my teacher-friend inside the day-care center. This sari-sari (assorted) store was built by the aetas to teach the children trade and money. The things they "sell" here are just empty wrappers and boxes that don't contain anything. They just wanted it to look more like a store. After we fed them, they collected our wrappers so they can use it again.


One of my biker-friends, who refuses to show his face to the camera. I like this shot though.


This is one of the boats that take passengers and cargo across the river to the island of Guimaras. It can carry up to 30 people.


So we were quite loaded with 18 bikes, 18 bikers, about 29 bags of goods containing rice, clothes, food and 12 of us from the community.

top ride

The crazy women who wanted to ride on the jeepney roof because there was no room for people due to the bags of food. Who said only men get to ride the jeepney rooftops?
I got sunburn from too much sun and dancing with the aetas. I was blushing red when I got home. Now the sunburn has turned to brown and dries-up my face. Not very pretty at all. But who cares.



I don't wear my eyeglasses unless I have to. That means I only wear them when I'm reading, writing or taking pictures. The problem is I almost always forget to wear them when I'm taking pictures because I almost always forget to bring them when I'm holding my camera. The result is a waste of film. These pics were taken during the garden show in the office parking lot a few weeks ago. I left my glasses on the 3rd floor but I thought it was too much trouble getting them so I relied on instinct and hoped my eyesight will not fail me that much. WRONG!

My dentist friend says "Buy digital!" I would if I can afford one. But I have a middle-class income and a house to run. Another advised "You need diopter lens". Yes, I know. I'd like to buy one too, but I'm still trying to figure out how to pay the electric bill, how am I suppose to buy diopter lens or more, a camera with diopters? "Get contact lenses!" I would but I'm still in denial that there's something wrong with my eyes. GRIN! Listen. I'm poor. My camera was a gift from a friend. I skip a meal just to buy film and get them developed. So please stop asking me to update my equipment.

I'm starting to think I've got the wrong hobby. :( But I likey so much. You don't give up something you like just because it's expensive, do you? Don't stare at the pics too long. They gave me a big headache.



yellow flowers





I’m full and it was delicious. Guess what? I cooked.

The maid went home again. And sister was thinking take outs because she was too tired to cook. And so I opened my big mouth and volunteered “I’ll cook.” My announcement was met with blank stares and an eyebrow raised but I was not about to be discouraged. I brought out the chicken I’ve been reserving for the occasion. Defrosted it for a few hours. Then I called out a friend for her special fried chicken recipe, making sure I write it down with long discussions of how much is a kilo of chicken and how much is a teaspoon of salt. Does a teaspoon mean heaped over or is it leveled off? I know expert cooks don’t ask stuff like these but hey, I want everything done right because I have a reputation to save. My friend asked if she should come over just in case. I, of course, assured her that I will be fine.

Never had so much fun crying over chopped onions. Or chopping garlic, and mixing them with vinegar, black pepper, salt and a bit of kalamansi juice. After marinating my chicken in the mix, I heated the frying pan, poured on cooking oil and when oil started bouncing off the pan, I started dropping chicken dipped in flour and pepper. So far so good. Was so happy to be cooking, I took a picture of everything to commemorate my success. Watched over my chicken like an vulture would over a dying animal, until it turned golden brown. I then transferred them to a clean plate. My sister went to check on me, in case I had burned the kitchen. She assessed my situation, and declared that I needed to add more oil, and the insides of my chicken weren’t cooked.

Positive about the whole thing, I added more oil, dropped my golden brown chicken back on the pan until I the insides were cooked. Some of them got burnt in the process but most of them looked very delicious. Beads of sweat were already lining up on my forehead as I fought off jumping oil bubbles with the kettle cover. This is damn difficult. But I was determined to have good fried chicken. I certainly don’t have the pizzazz of Nigella but I was thinking that I was creating my own style. If Nigella was this sultry seductive cook, I’ll be the comedian.

is this fried chicken or what?

After making the gravy mix, one of those packets where you just add hot water (hell, I’m in training so cut me some slack!), I arranged my friend chicken on plate with table napkins. I tasted it first. Hmmmm. Asked my sister to have some. Hmmmm. Then we called Afrique’s and ordered fettuccini and pizza.

Verdict: The chicken was well-cooked but without flavor. I should have covered it with salt before marinating. Or I should have added more salt while it was marinating. That they didn't tell me. Maybe it was common sense, but hey, this cooking is as foreign to me as Danish. Covered with gravy, it was edible and will fill the stomach. Was so glad that nobody laughed at my chicken even if it didn’t have any taste. They ate it all up with a lot of the gravy. I think my family was pretty happy to see me make an effort on cooking.

The whole time, I keep remembering Outburst commenting that to learn to cook is to keep on practicing. So I’m cooking again next week even if by that time, the maid would be home during the weekend.

And by the way, it was the pizza that was delicious.


I'm a Culinary Disaster

Sent the maid home for the weekend. My nephew is with his cousins for a few weeks. My brother is out looking for jobs or going out with girlfriend. And my Dad is busy with something … or someone (Hmmmmm!) … or madjong, or chess, because he’s always out. My sisters had to do this church thingy which I had carefully avoided so I am home alone. Grin! Everyone gets home only when it gets really dark which is really great.

No other TVs blaring except the one I’m watching so no competition to noise. I can watch whatever I want without someone switching channels now and then. No slamming of doors – a habit which puzzles guests but which family found too innate to correct. No one there to ask me to do errands. No one there to use the phone so I could use internet without interruption. All is calm and serene without a single entity to disturb the peace. TOTAL BLISS.

Except for one thing. I CAN”T COOK. The maid left some frozen meals stashed and ready, but I had very little appetite for something microwaved. Why don’t I cook? Good question. It all boils down to my first few attempts in the culinary arts. I was hungry and tried boiling an egg. I forgot about it; so the water dried up and the egg exploded on the ceiling. My family never lets me forget that sole incident. Maybe because I was once again tasked to boil water with the same results except for egg on ceiling.

It doesn’t help that when I do try to redeem myself, everything becomes a cooking disaster. Rice either turns out too hard or floating in water. Fried fish doesn’t look like fried fish. More like fish soufflé without the flavor. And when I’m done with the sunny-side-up, eggs looked like they’ve been soaked by a tsunami. I can’t even boil pasta right! even if I follow package instructions word for word.

I therefore gave up all attempts to be domesticated in kitchen. My mom was not a good cook either. She has this knack for developing out-of-this world meals and you have to guess the ingredients so you can swallow her initiative. This is probably why we grew up with a maid in the house and why my mom remained a career woman. My father, however, was a good cook. He makes a mean dinuguan and linagpang. If he does cook on rare occasions, we would choose not eat anything else but dinuguan and linagpang even when there are more delectable fodder to choose from. Cooking was the only talent I got from my mother (apart from love of writing).

My sisters can cook which people find confusing. Why don’t I have the same knack for guessing how much exactly is a pinch of salt? My fish tastes like they have jumped out from the Dead Sea and landed on our dining table. So the bad experiences with cooking had kept me away from the oven. BUT! I have since then improved on rice-cooking although I still worry about putting too much water. I can prepare simple dishes like mango floats because they don’t require a stove or an oven. I tried making green salads but even my knife skills needs training because my carrots look like they’ve been picked from the streets. I did think about cooking schools but with my culinary disasters, I was so afraid I would embarrass myself.

This brings me back to my weekend alone. I realized that I cannot live on breakfast cereals. And I can’t stand another frozen dish (Yes! I am aware that I have to defrost them and heat them in the microwave before putting them in my mouth! I can do that part!).

So I boiled myself some water for instant noodles – not exactly very challenging but if you have fear of cooking, this was One Tense Moment. And I played the guessing game. Had to stop myself from touching boiling water. Is this hot enough? How many bubbles does it take? Drop noodles. Wait for 3 minutes. Separate them with big spoon. Check to see softness by breaking noodle strands. Wait few more minutes. Check again. Pour in colander. Pour in bowl with mixed sauces and powder. Add a squeeze of calamansi for added flavor. Taste. Mmmmm. Not bad.

Armed with my instant noodles, I sat down in front of TV to watch Amazing Race. Surprisingly, it was an enjoyable meal. Not very healthy. But enjoyable.

Today I bought chicken with strict instructions that it shall not be touched by anyone except me. I’m going to learn to fry chicken this weekend even if it kills me!


Wasted Day

Been sick for a whole day. It's because of this bad habit of forgetting to eat when I'm on a roll. And when I skip a meal(s) and had too much coffee, the stomach churns and acid burns, holes in my stomach which make me roll around the bed in pain. So spent the day in bed, like pregnant woman biting hard on lip, till stomach spasms pass one by one. Only I don't count the minutes in between. And I don't have big belly to anticipate big bundle of joy and no husband to hold my hand when I go into 'labor'. Another day wasted.

But had a good time reviewing 6-hour conversation with female friends last Monday. we've reached Resolution No. 6 of the (beep) sisterhood which is aptly titled, "GET OVER IT!" - hahaha. President is taking steps and will be breaking one heart soon because she deserves better than certain mysterious boyfriend. Dentist-friend is embracing the idea of new life but is hoping that she gets to keep profession and clientele with her if she ends up married and moving. Banker is finally facing her emotions and feelings and acknowledging them maturely. And lastly, me. I get to love (beep) (beep) and learn to (beep) and accept (beep) and (beep). :)

It's easier to deal with problems when they are not your own. We have one month to accomplish resolution no. 6. And they have asked me to write a book about their lives, too. Something I’d like to do but not sure if I’m up for it. I mean, it’s easier to write about things you really know and understand. It’s another to write and put yourself in other people’s shoes. But I like the idea and I love the challenge. So we’ll see.

Miss my coffee because I’m not allowed to have any. And I really don’t like spending time in bed. Hope spasms will be gone by tomorrow. And hope I can go get a life by then.



I've become somewhat of a bitch in a span of three days. Sort of like a female tazmanian devil creating havoc along the way ... only silent and inflicts a much deeper gash on person. Good God! I might be one! (loud laugh echoing amongst walls of empty castle! Good accoustics!) What is worse, I seem separated from it - like unremorseful serial killer (insert Psycho theme here).

No. Not really. But I've been breaking hearts lately and have become somewhat of a hermit. I'm content with staying in the house, with computer, TV and the clutter in my room. My responses has become automatic and rehearsed. People ask me if there's something wrong. And the truthful response to that is "I don't know. And I don't care." Sort of like mad drunk who has not recovered reality and wonders why ground is moving to his face. "Oh, look! It moves! Fas-si-na-ting." BLAGAG!

It's either PMS or deep depression. To which I still don't care. Maybe I should rename this blog Of Life and Chili. Only I don't eat chili. Maybe Of LIfe and Broccolli. Only I never attempted to taste broccolli.

I need to bring my camera and my notebook. Will try to get inspired with this nothingness ... or maybe drown myself in - this unfeeling. Love, pain, or joy eludes me. And it seems much worst than feeling pain. But still I don't care. Who was that Filipino writer who drinks again? What was his name? Lopez Jaena, was it? Maybe I need to discover my poison? What if this IS my poison?

Tee-hee-hee. Man-troubles. And I'm babbling. Maybe time with girlfriends will do me good. Tonight, I'm off to see the wizard and her court. Together we will dance around the fire and make howling noises that wake the neighborhood and scare little children away. Thank God for women-friends! Need reprieve from man-troubles.


Obviously not okay

Annie Lennox, Whiter Shade of Pale (concert version)
If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen;
and likewise if behind is in front,
then dirt in truth is clean.

Jewel, Dreamer
I’m half alive but I feel mostly dead;
I try and tell myself it’s alright;
I just shouldn’t think anymore tonight

Amanda Marshall, I’ll Be Okay
Till love comes again, I'll be okay

Me, Wala lang.
Never love a guy who calls you honey!

I'm actually looking forward to being buried with work tomorrow. And I'm getting tired of thinking of him. To be tired of thinking of him - hahahaha, that's a first! Must think of anything else other than Stephanie Mills, Julio Iglesias, Leanne Womack, Boracay and slow-dancing. Going out with lady friends tomorrow to gripe about men! ... about a man! :) Have ball, MUST KICK! :P So which is it? London or California? Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.

I know you're not going to understand much of this but bear with me. There's nothing more relaxing than the sound of fingers on keyboard.

Nickelback, This Side
There's no place to hide but I don't think I'm scared.


Hurdles in bits and pieces

Background music: Macy Gray's Moment To Myself

The four day work-week sucks! We now report to work at 7:30am and leave the office at 6:30pm, working Monday to Thursday with Friday free. It sucks! I feel real tired when I get home. And I miss my 30-minutes extra sleep. I still love work though. :) And I like that I get to do more without the pressure of staying in late. Now, what to do on a Friday?

Watched my brother graduate last Sunday. We bought him a sampaguita garland. Hahaha! He refused to wear it. Imagine! Hahaha! We had a good laugh about it though. As we watched all the graduates go up the stage with the smile of accomplishment, we wonder where they all will find work in this third world country. About 75% of them would probably wish to work abroad. Who could blame them. Had the party at my brother's house, where my nieces, my sister and I played with the camera. The poses we made would put any model to shame ... come to think of it, it would put everyone to shame - hahaha! It was fun though. After the party, we had coffee at Little Malate, the first time I went out for real in the last two months! Didn't realize, it was that long!

Sent the maid home with hopefully enough money to help her in her need. Her mom died of cancer early Monday morning. The mom was diagnosed just last February. And since they don't have enough money for chemotherapy, they just waited it off. Really sad. Even if we can raise money for a first session, how can they pay for the next sessions? I know how expensive chemo is. It took a lot from us, and we had two cancer patients in this family alone. I think we paid dearly for it, and sometimes I still feel we still are ... but my sister survived, and my mother was given time to prepare for her death ... so spending a big amount was just something we had to do ... and we will probably do it again if we need to (knock on wood). I still think lucky are those who die first. They wouldn't get to see how the living continue to destroy the planet and the human race. Wish they have an org that funds free chemotherapy.

I feel sad too that the Pope passed away. I did get to see him in Manila, along with the thousands of people who were there during World Youth Day. He passed by me, very fast. "Pop!" went the Pope! It was a marvelous time. And it did inspire us to go out and help out in whatever way we can. Being in his presence was a blessing enough. The grace I felt being there and hearing his voice, I still feel it up to now. One of the very few people who aged gracefully. He will surely be missed.

Have to buy my Dad a new cellphone. This is the fourth one he lost/broke in the span of two years. He now realizes he needs a cheap one, but insists that he doesn't like the Nokia 5110 - hehehe! He needs one. I wish we could attach a device in his bald head that would let us know where he goes when he goes out exploring alone. We need to keep track of him if it's madjong, shopping or chess matches, or to his hometown to take care of business. We don't want him to be helpless when he gets high blood pressure or needs help. But he doesn't leave notes . He forgets. So he needs a cellphone so we can find him. That's if he doesn't lose it first.

hurdles in technicolor

These tires seemed so high when I was small. Now that I can reach them, I no longer care to play.


The Resurrection

I have been rescued. Ahhhhh, finally received my resurrection in form of much awaited check. Now, can pay the bills and be relieved of stress … at least till the next crisis comes along. I can now go watch a movie or buy myself something worthwhile without feeling guilty of being selfish.

Thinking webcam … but practicality gets the best of me. So just might settle for new blouses or sensible shoes, or have someone take care of my hair which has exceeded the length of the summer look.

I will be attending younger brother’s graduation on Sunday and will try to control myself as he gets honored for best thesis and most outstanding IT student. BIG GRIN! My Dad gets to pin the ribbon, or is it medals now? Have no idea. Me there to assist deaf Dad in case he say "Ha?" when asked intelligent questions. After that, we're gonna have a part-ey! Asked younger bro to let me try on his toga for just one pic – hehehe. Maybe it will motivate me to get back to school. But alas, since he’s taller by a ruler and a half, the toga trails on floor like Dumbledore’s heavy robe. Me thinks I’m too young to have big togas (hehehe), yet I pray I will grow into one that fits me.

I have also been asked to baby-sit 4 teenagers and one superhero sometime May for two weeks. Which means I will be moving out of my house and living in comfortable home with nice garden, with cars for use, large place for jogging without fear of snatchers or dogs, and have a quite large TV in my room. Can also have a healthy walk towards the kebabs place to take a look at cute owner. Giggle! Thus, the Nanny Diaries. Looking forward to sharing secrets with teenage nieces again and have long smart talks with Wonder Boy.

And the ex called. Friendly chat without undertones of regret and bad karma. Will be meeting him soon in one party. He sounds happy. And that makes me happy too. After bad break-up, you soon realize who your true friends are. Wink!

And one more thing. I am beginning to love working – yes, in office. Strange but true. And it’s not about potential love in office environment – Yeeech! No! It’s about fulfillment, and loving what you do, and finding a place where you can be truly useful.

New hopes. At last! Congratulating self for surviving crisis. Laugh! – a loud one!