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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Friday, April 29, 2005

entry arrow5:45 PM | The 2005 Dumaguete National Writers Workshop Fellows

The National Writers Workshop 2005 scheduled on May 9 to 27, 2005 in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental is pleased to announce the following list of Fellows:

1. Virginia Mercado-Villanueva
2. Rica Bolipata-Santos
3. Jose Perseus G. Canivel
4. Whitney Fleming
5. Alfredo B. Diaz
6. Cynthia Diangson
7. Maria Lourdes DC Parawan
8. Rogelio Torres de la Rosa Jr.
9. EJ C. Galang
10. Gerardo Peralta
11. Mikael Co
12. Charisse Fuschia Paderna

The following are the critics invited to sit at the three-week workshop:

First Week
Dr. David Genotiva
Dr. Benilda Santos
Mr. Lito Zulueta

Second Week
Dr. Gemino H. Abad
Mr. Adrian Cristobal
Dr. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo
Mr. Alfred Yuson

Third Week
Dr. Jaime An Lim
Dr. Charlson Ong
Dr. Anthony L. Tan

Assisting Dr. Edith Lopez Tiempo, National Artist for Literature and Director of the National Writers Workshop, are Resident Panelists Atty. Ernesto Superal Yee, Mr. Bobby Flores-Villasis, and Dr. Cesar Ruiz Aquino.

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entry arrow2:47 PM | The Invasion of Spice

Sometimes you feel there are no hopes about educating the typical Dumagueteno about the cultivation of a certain culture of dining out, the way the truly cosmopolitan soul cultivates it. "We live still in barriotic tyranny," Kuya Moe once told me.

Often I feel he is right.

I once met a local who, upon learning that a coffee shop has opened in town, once quipped, "A coffee shop? I would rather go home and make myself a cup of Nescafe instant coffee." That's practical! you can exclaim -- which essentially gives you away as a "taga-bukid" troglodyte who only thinks of cafes in terms of simply coffee, instead of the "cafe culture" that is often the hallmark of great civilizations.

Go to Paris, to Vienna, to Madrid, to Rome, to New York, and you will find that great centers of culture have the Cafe in its very heart: it is often the gathering place of innovators and artists and geniuses, and where many great ideas are essentially born. The famous Algonquin Round Table group, which rose to prominence in post-World War II America, was basically a friendly gathering of some of New York's brightest minds. A group which included such luminaries as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Robert E. Sherwood, Alexander Woolcott, Edna Ferber, Peggy Wood, Franklin P. Adams, George S. Kaufman, Heywood Broun and Marc Connelly (and which also influenced such writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway), they often met for coffee and wine, gossiped and argued over their brew or spirit, and fundamentally changed the intellectual and cultural map of America of that time.

Things have since changed, of course. Silliman Avenue Cafe -- that wonderful coffee shop -- has since gone out of business, coming as it did into a city who was still very much in love with its barbaric instant coffee. But people here have since learned to embrace a kind of cafe culture. And other shops have since taken Silliman Avenue Cafe's place. Cafe Memento's barako is the best in town, but I also enjoy the coffee, and the bread, at Lee Cimbali.

Dining, too, has seen a revolution. More and more Dumaguetenos are getting out of their own kitchen to sample the culinary delights of, say, Royal Suite Inn, or Lab-as. Among the increasing number of new (and fantastic) beach resorts dotting Dauin, people have now become privy to the fantastic food, and relaxing elegance, of Private Residence.

And for something increasingly international, people are slowly discovering the Japanese take of Wakagi (you have to sample their delicious maki), the European bistro of Why Not?, and the Mexican offerings of CocoAmigos. (Some people, of course, have taken note that these places are not "authentic" enough -- but I always say "baby steps for the Dumagueteno"!) I remember there was a Korean restaurant around here once, and I also remember Dumaguete people making the long trek by car to Tanjay to sample the Thai delicacies of Sawasdee. The latter transplanted itself in Dumaguete soon after, but the Amigo branch died a silent death -- not because the food was horrible (it was to die for), but because the whole place seemed too much like a regular carinderia. Nothing Thai at all about the ambience -- plus your table jostled space with racks of ready-to-wear clothes also for sale. And if there is one thing about Dumaguetenos entrepreneurs need to know, it is that we love our surfaces.

Restaurants with a foreign slant have yet to really make their mark on the Dumagueteno food consciousness. We were talking about this once with Mrs. Cecilia Helen Bruce D'Huys, a local resident of Indian descent. We surmised that many people in the city still seemed trap in one basic mental frame of what is "cooking" and what is "eating experience." Will that soon change? We hoped so. If only to add spice to our everyday lives. Pun intended.

A few months ago, Cecilia took us to task to help her make a cookbook that would put "spice" to everyday cooking. I was the book designer of the whole project -- and the one thing I truly got from the whole experience was that I knew so little of spices, and how they made the simplest of recipes the best culinary experiences there could be. Now I know very well my coriander, my basil, my cinnamon, my cumin, my mint, and my turmeric or kurkuma. Laying out and designing everything in that cookbook, I knew what it was to salivate over such dishes as spicy chicken in Caribbean-style, enchiladas, Malaysian chicken, Morrocan chicken stew, fish filets in Thai sauce, prawn masala, shrimp and mango salsa, spicy clams with coconut, stir-fried shrimp, Hungarian goulash, moussaka, avocado salad with pineapple, Aubergine with peas, brown rice, scrambled eggs with ginger, spicy pumpkin, spinach with soy sauce, and tomato salsa. Cecilia's own favorite from the bunch was the tuna with capers, tomatoes, and basil -- because of the festive color of the dish, and because it tasted so good, full of Mediterranean flavor, she said.

"Through several years of travel," Cecilia once wrote to me of the book project, "I have met many people and made some really good friends in Belgium -- the country of my husband -- and other places where we’ve lived. Being an Indian, I learned to cook European food, and enjoyed discovering other types of cuisine. At the same time, I enjoyed cooking Indian food for family and friends. For many of them, the spices were a subject of curiosity and caution. Is it hot and spicy? Or is it just a particular flavor that one tastes without having your mouth on fire?

"But 'spicy' for me does not automatically mean 'chili-hot' -- although this can be achieved, too, without the use of a fiery chili. I once made empanada and accidentally added extra black pepper. Needless to say, the empanada turned out very hot and spicy, indeed. But despite the 'spice' debate, many of my friends were interested in Asian food and would try out recipes at home. However, they told me they were often left with the remaining spices without quite knowing how to utilize them in other dishes that were not Asian. This was the remark I heard from time to time, 'What do I do with them?' Hence, this was the basis for why I made this cookbook: as a compilation of simple everyday recipes from other cuisines for family and friends to try out, and with spices and ingredients that are easily available in any big supermarket.

"I learned to make a moussaka and chicken couscous by trial-and-error, and an American friend in Kenya gave me a list of ingredients that went into the making of simple-and-easy chili con carne... In the Philippines I learned the famous adobo, and there are quite a few versions. A Malaysian friend once gave me her version of chicken rending, which was a bit different from the one my husband makes. And then there are my own creations and my versions of different Indian meals. When my two daughters exclaim, 'Oh, that was good!' I would promptly write down the recipe."

Her cookbook, A Touch of Spice, is now available at The Village Bookstore at an affordable price. It wil be launched this Saturday, April 30, 4:00 pm, at The Spanish Heritage Patio.

Also this week, the spice invasion culminates with the opening of the Dumaguete branch of Persian Palate. It was a long time in coming. Others, who regularly travel to Cebu City for that dose of metropolitan life, have known of the branches in Ayala, in Mango Avenue, in Crossroads Mall. Perhaps it was in Persian Palate that they first had their taste of pita, that disk of unleavened bread that is the staple of the Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern world.

Finally, Persian Palate was in Dumaguete, nestled deep in the heart of The Spanish Heritage building, which itself is undergoing some beautiful changes (the interiors -- newly renovated -- has become a magnificent place, something entirely new for Dumaguete). The atmosphere of the restaurant is vaguely Persian, with some touches of Indian. The paintings on the wall, after all, seemed to be from Hindu mythology.

I broke papadum -- a kind of Indian crest -- dipped in chutney (that delicious mango paste) with proprietor and head chef Ahmad Vatandoost. He was a quiet and reserved man, but clearly proud of his restaurant which, he admitted, practically grew out of word of mouth. Now a neutralized Filipino, he was originally from Iran, but came to the Philippines 26 years ago to study in the University of San Carlos.

"When I was a student," he told me, "I came to Dumaguete with some friends." Purely by accident, he revealed. He had gone touring around southern Philippines with only P500 in his pocket, and on the way home to Cebu from Butuan, they hitched a ride in a cargo ship full of pineapples. The trip took about three days, and on the second day, the boat docked in Dumaguete for a few hours. He liked Dumaguete. He liked the weather then. He likes the weather even now, and most of all, its peace and the quiet, something he does not get in polluted Metro Cebu, he said. Plus the fact that he married a Filipina born in Sipalay may have something to do with why he is extremely drawn to Negros.

In 1989, he decided to set up shop in front of Cebu's Capitol. "It was a small place," he said, "just cheap tables, and no air-conditioning even. It was just a canteen." But it was a "canteen" that was different, because it offered something entirely new for the Cebuano palate. Soon, the place was becoming the hub of some Indian expats, who asked him if they could cook Indian food in his kitchen, and in turn they would also teach him how to cook these dishes. He agreed. "It was basically a business where the customers cooked the food, and where the customers even dictated the price," he said. Soon, after six months of learning the nuances of Indian cooking, he told the customers they didn't have to cook anymore; he would cook Indian food for them.

It was unconventional business practice, but it was something that clearly worked, because by then he had prominent people -- businessmen and politicians -- coming into his Capitol canteen. For twelve years, the little canteen thrived. And soon, the move to Ayala Mall finally seemed inevitable. In 1997, that happened. The rest, as they say, is history.

All these he told me over a banquet of intoxicating food, as I became more aware of what the restaurant had to offer. For somebody clearly ignorant of Persian food, I was at a loss in recognizing most of them. One thing that was clear, though, was that the attempt here was not authentic Persian, but "fusion Persian," with food influences from the Mediterranean and India. There were kebabs and various versions of curry in the menu, as well as beef biryani, murch cholay (spicy chicken with chickpeas curry), beef qorma, nihari (spicy beef curry), chicken musala, and nan -- which is pita bread for the rest of you. The names rolled in my tongue with so much exotic flare. One had to love it.

I love the nan in all its softness. I sampled the Eggplant and Garlic, the Lamb Curry, the Tomato Rice, the Dal (or lentil) Curry, and the Raita -- a cool mix of yogurt, cucumber, and garlic that was perfect for any sunny day. Later, with Kuya Moe, Cecilia, and photographer John Stevenson, I also tried the tomato soup laced with cheese -- something that immediately appealed to me. And then there was the Gulab Jamun, a roundish dessert made from flour and milk mix, fried, and then soaked in honey or sugared paste -- a delicacy from the Iranian countrysides, one of the Iranian customers happily informed us. But it was the pale-yellow mango lassi, a drink made from yogurt and fresh mango that made my day. It was your regular shake with your regular heavenly cool taste, but something remarkably healthy you can actually feel it in your bones.

That was Thursday, the first day of Persian Palate in Dumaguete -- and already a day to behold. Customers were trickling in, and the place was suddenly festive. Something tells me that after all these years, the Dumagueteno has finally become the cosmopolitan Epicurean.

And that is something to celebrate with a generous glass of mango lassi.

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[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Wednesday, April 27, 2005

entry arrow9:59 AM | Machine Gone

Dear world,

I'm sorry but I can't blog or email often these days. My nearly-four year old computer, which is named Monkey Zonkabu III, is showing signs of old age, and is bogging down. I'm sad, but I'm also surprisingly philosophical about this. I love Monkey for being so faithful all these years -- and that he lasted this long is a testament to his incredible longevity, given that I am a voracious computer user. (I still have most of my original accessories and parts!) Until I get a new one, whenever that will be, I will be,


Sporadically yours,

Ian.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

entry arrow6:43 PM | Life Dies.

Most of you I've already emailed regarding where my new blog is. My LJ is on hold as well -- I've deleted all of my entries there, and giving the whole LiveJournal thing a grand vacation. If you haven't received notice, email me at icasocot(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'll tell you where my new blog is. I can't do anything about this. I just need a change of place, somewhere where Ugly-payans cannot touch me.

After-thought: Can't blog or email often as well. My nearly-four year old computer, which is named Monkey Zonkabu III, is showing signs of old age, and is bogging down. I love him for being so faithful all these years -- and that he lasted this long is a testament to his incredible longevity. (I still have all of my original accessories and parts.) Until I get a new one, whenever that is, I will be sporadically yours, Ian.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow6:43 PM | Life Dies.

Most of you I've already emailed regarding where my new blog is. My LJ is on hold as well -- I've deleted all of my entries there, and giving the whole LiveJournal thing a grand vacation. If you haven't received notice, email me at icasocot(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'll tell you where my new blog is. I can't do anything about this. I just need a change of place, somewhere where Ugly-payans cannot touch me.

After-thought: Can't blog or email often as well. My nearly-four year old computer, which is named Monkey Zonkabu III, is showing signs of old age, and is bogging down. I love him for being so faithful all these years -- and that he lasted this long is a testament to his incredible longevity. (I still have all of my original accessories and parts.) Until I get a new one, whenever that is, I will be sporadically yours, Ian.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow6:43 PM | Life Dies.

Most of you I've already emailed regarding where my new blog is. My LJ is on hold as well -- I've deleted all of my entries there, and giving the whole LiveJournal thing a grand vacation. If you haven't received notice, email me at icasocot(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'll tell you where my new blog is. I can't do anything about this. I just need a change of place, somewhere where Ugly-payans cannot touch me.

After-thought: Can't blog or email often as well. My nearly-four year old computer, which is named Monkey Zonkabu III, is showing signs of old age, and is bogging down. I love him for being so faithful all these years -- and that he lasted this long is a testament to his incredible longevity. (I still have all of my original accessories and parts.) Until I get a new one, whenever that is, I will be sporadically yours, Ian.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow6:26 PM | The Chronicle of Heat

He can smell the decay in the morning -- tropical almost, the rot of overripe mango left out to wither in the hot sun. He believes this is a portent, and already he feels sad, and a bit sick, the orgy of chocolate bars from yesterday now a festering sore in his throat. He shouldn't have eaten that much chocolate, he tells himself, almost jokingly, because he doen't even believe himself anymore, not the recriminations he takes himself to task with, not the gentle self-rebukes before morning mirrors. How do you believe a sad old joke? He is almost thirty, and the proverbial well has dried up for him. Or so he believes. He knows only that he feels tired.

Quickly, he got up from bed resembling the ruins of last night's ridiculous attempt to make love. The body beside him is not moving, and it is alive only to him as in the careful measure of early morning snore. He does not wake the body, and, zombie-like, he gets up, staggers really, to the shower, where the shock of cold water is not even enough to breathe the slightest hint of life into wasted body.

Quickly, he turns to the comfort of routine, sans coffee: the toweling away of wet body, muscles rippling, the sudden invasion of wardrobe, only to come up with a grey shirt with red stripes, and yesterday's pair of jeans. The sartorial equivalent of disappearance. He doesn't care.

From last night, he can still taste the delirium of having come from some aimlessness, culminating from the recent succession of scattered days; he was in Kitty's place, with the city's artists, and with them he had toasted to all of life's shit with so much wine, and little of song. It was, in hindsight (but is there any other?), perhaps a very bad idea. He had, naturally, gone to bed staggering like a fool, and in consequence woke up late Monday morning, with barely minutes to go before work starts.

Dressing up in the grey shirt and old jeans, he realizes youth is finally over when one doesn't even think about summer vacations anymore. The idylls are gone. And suddenly, he just wishes he can stop breathing.

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[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:30 AM | Once Upon a Time...

He can smell the decay in the morning -- tropical almost, the rot of overripe mango left out to wither in the hot sun. He believes this is a portent, and already he feels sad, and a bit sick, the orgy of chocolate bars from yesterday now a festering sore in his throat. He shouldn't have eaten that much chocolate, he tells himself, almost jokingly, because he doen't even believe himself anymore, not the recriminations he takes himself to task with, not the gentle self-rebukes before morning mirrors. How do you believe a sad old joke? He is almost thirty, and the proverbial well has dried up for him. Or so he believes. He knows only that he feels tired.

Quickly, he got up from bed resembling the ruins of last night's ridiculous attempt to make love. The body beside him is not moving, and it is alive only to him as in the careful measure of early morning snore. He does not wake the body, and, zombie-like, he gets up, staggers really, to the shower, where the shock of cold water is not even enough to breathe the slightest hint of life into wasted body.

Quickly, he turns to the comfort of routine, sans coffee: the toweling away of wet body, muscles rippling, the sudden invasion of wardrobe, only to come up with a grey shirt with red stripes, and yesterday's pair of jeans. The sartorial equivalent of disappearance. He doesn't care.

From last night, he can still taste the delirium of having come from some aimlessness, culminating from the recent succession of scattered days; he was in Kitty's place, with the city's artists, and with them he had toasted to all of life's shit with so much wine, and little of song. It was, in hindsight (but is there any other?), perhaps a very bad idea. He had, naturally, gone to bed staggering like a fool, and in consequence woke up late Monday morning, with barely minutes to go before work starts.

Dressing up in the grey shirt and old jeans, he realizes youth is finally over when one doesn't even think about summer vacations anymore. The idylls are gone. And suddenly, he just wishes he can stop breathing.

[to be continued somewhere else.]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:30 AM | Once Upon a Time...

He can smell the decay in the morning -- tropical almost, the rot of overripe mango left out to wither in the hot sun. He believes this is a portent, and already he feels sad, and a bit sick, the orgy of chocolate bars from yesterday now a festering sore in his throat. He shouldn't have eaten that much chocolate, he tells himself, almost jokingly, because he doen't even believe himself anymore, not the recriminations he takes himself to task with, not the gentle self-rebukes before morning mirrors. How do you believe a sad old joke? He is almost thirty, and the proverbial well has dried up for him. Or so he believes. He knows only that he feels tired.

Quickly, he got up from bed resembling the ruins of last night's ridiculous attempt to make love. The body beside him is not moving, and it is alive only to him as in the careful measure of early morning snore. He does not wake the body, and, zombie-like, he gets up, staggers really, to the shower, where the shock of cold water is not even enough to breathe the slightest hint of life into wasted body.

Quickly, he turns to the comfort of routine, sans coffee: the toweling away of wet body, muscles rippling, the sudden invasion of wardrobe, only to come up with a grey shirt with red stripes, and yesterday's pair of jeans. The sartorial equivalent of disappearance. He doesn't care.

From last night, he can still taste the delirium of having come from some aimlessness, culminating from the recent succession of scattered days; he was in Kitty's place, with the city's artists, and with them he had toasted to all of life's shit with so much wine, and little of song. It was, in hindsight (but is there any other?), perhaps a very bad idea. He had, naturally, gone to bed staggering like a fool, and in consequence woke up late Monday morning, with barely minutes to go before work starts.

Dressing up in the grey shirt and old jeans, he realizes youth is finally over when one doesn't even think about summer vacations anymore. The idylls are gone. And suddenly, he just wishes he can stop breathing.

[to be continued somewhere else.]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:30 AM | Once Upon a Time...

He can smell the decay in the morning -- tropical almost, the rot of overripe mango left out to wither in the hot sun. He believes this is a portent, and already he feels sad, and a bit sick, the orgy of chocolate bars from yesterday now a festering sore in his throat. He shouldn't have eaten that much chocolate, he tells himself, almost jokingly, because he doen't even believe himself anymore, not the recriminations he takes himself to task with, not the gentle self-rebukes before morning mirrors. How do you believe a sad old joke? He is almost thirty, and the proverbial well has dried up for him. Or so he believes. He knows only that he feels tired.

Quickly, he got up from bed resembling the ruins of last night's ridiculous attempt to make love. The body beside him is not moving, and it is alive only to him as in the careful measure of early morning snore. He does not wake the body, and, zombie-like, he gets up, staggers really, to the shower, where the shock of cold water is not even enough to breathe the slightest hint of life into wasted body.

Quickly, he turns to the comfort of routine, sans coffee: the toweling away of wet body, muscles rippling, the sudden invasion of wardrobe, only to come up with a grey shirt with red stripes, and yesterday's pair of jeans. The sartorial equivalent of disappearance. He doesn't care.

From last night, he can still taste the delirium of having come from some aimlessness, culminating from the recent succession of scattered days; he was in Kitty's place, with the city's artists, and with them he had toasted to all of life's shit with so much wine, and little of song. It was, in hindsight (but is there any other?), perhaps a very bad idea. He had, naturally, gone to bed staggering like a fool, and in consequence woke up late Monday morning, with barely minutes to go before work starts.

Dressing up in the grey shirt and old jeans, he realizes youth is finally over when one doesn't even think about summer vacations anymore. The idylls are gone. And suddenly, he just wishes he can stop breathing.

[to be continued somewhere else.]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Thursday, April 21, 2005

entry arrow11:46 PM | For the Consideration of the Members of the Midnight Society

Friends, ladies and gentlemen...



For your consideration, I present to you the newest recruit for membership to The Midnight Society...

Desiree Maxino Bandal. Magna cum laude. Brilliant thinker. Magnificent wit. Incredible writer. Solid strategist. Down-to-earth logician. Amazing businesswoman with a sharp legal mind. Bodacious babe. Your all-around Renaissance Woman.

It's about time, eh? What do you think?

More importantly, what's our proper initiation for this girl? Gimme your suggestions in my LJ, quick!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow11:46 PM | For the Consideration of the Members of the Midnight Society

Friends, ladies and gentlemen...



For your consideration, I present to you the newest recruit for membership to The Midnight Society...

Desiree Maxino Bandal. Magna cum laude. Brilliant thinker. Magnificent wit. Incredible writer. Solid strategist. Down-to-earth logician. Amazing businesswoman with a sharp legal mind. Bodacious babe. Your all-around Renaissance Woman.

It's about time, eh? What do you think?

More importantly, what's our proper initiation for this girl? Gimme your suggestions in my LJ, quick!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow11:46 PM | For the Consideration of the Members of the Midnight Society

Friends, ladies and gentlemen...



For your consideration, I present to you the newest recruit for membership to The Midnight Society...

Desiree Maxino Bandal. Magna cum laude. Brilliant thinker. Magnificent wit. Incredible writer. Solid strategist. Down-to-earth logician. Amazing businesswoman with a sharp legal mind. Bodacious babe. Your all-around Renaissance Woman.

It's about time, eh? What do you think?

More importantly, what's our proper initiation for this girl? Gimme your suggestions in my LJ, quick!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:50 PM | Irreverence

Please forgive me.

[via the pig pond]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:50 PM | Irreverence

Please forgive me.

[via the pig pond]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:50 PM | Irreverence

Please forgive me.

[via the pig pond]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:44 PM | Tama Na! Sobra Na!

Huling hirit na 'to. It's getting tiring actually, if you ask me. I know I've been vocal about icky things like religion of late. Like what I told Resty, I hate debates about religion, because they make animals of us all. I really have no idea why. Considering that I'm a Church-going man (I am!) who reads the Bible a lot (I do!) and prays like crazy (I do!) and treasures my faith like it was the very glue to existence, I really don't know why I get into these tussles. The one thing I know is that I am Christian, but far from being a perfect one -- and also that I am very, very wary of dogma. One thing that strikes me now though is that, while I have a few debating sounding-boards online, usually over the medium of blogging comments, there are some who do their debates from some reservoir of spite that borders on madness. They are erudite, yes, but have arguments that appeal more to emotional, below-the-belt wrangglings more than any other. But there are some debaters I consider worthy of respect, even emulation. Resty Odon, for example. A brilliant man who treasures his faith, he makes his arguments from a well-spring of intellect that says it knows its history, psychology, sociology, and statistics. In other words, people like him actually know what they are talking about, and have the knowledge/informational evidence to back what they have to say. In other words, they are not stupid. The rest may blather all they want to kingdom come but they're all "pink idiots" compared to Resty. Now, let me talk about shopping ... Wasn't that outfit in that boutique just adorable for summer? I'd like to get it in blue.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:44 PM | Tama Na! Sobra Na!

Huling hirit na 'to. It's getting tiring actually, if you ask me. I know I've been vocal about icky things like religion of late. Like what I told Resty, I hate debates about religion, because they make animals of us all. I really have no idea why. Considering that I'm a Church-going man (I am!) who reads the Bible a lot (I do!) and prays like crazy (I do!) and treasures my faith like it was the very glue to existence, I really don't know why I get into these tussles. The one thing I know is that I am Christian, but far from being a perfect one -- and also that I am very, very wary of dogma. One thing that strikes me now though is that, while I have a few debating sounding-boards online, usually over the medium of blogging comments, there are some who do their debates from some reservoir of spite that borders on madness. They are erudite, yes, but have arguments that appeal more to emotional, below-the-belt wrangglings more than any other. But there are some debaters I consider worthy of respect, even emulation. Resty Odon, for example. A brilliant man who treasures his faith, he makes his arguments from a well-spring of intellect that says it knows its history, psychology, sociology, and statistics. In other words, people like him actually know what they are talking about, and have the knowledge/informational evidence to back what they have to say. In other words, they are not stupid. The rest may blather all they want to kingdom come but they're all "pink idiots" compared to Resty. Now, let me talk about shopping ... Wasn't that outfit in that boutique just adorable for summer? I'd like to get it in blue.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:44 PM | Tama Na! Sobra Na!

Huling hirit na 'to. It's getting tiring actually, if you ask me. I know I've been vocal about icky things like religion of late. Like what I told Resty, I hate debates about religion, because they make animals of us all. I really have no idea why. Considering that I'm a Church-going man (I am!) who reads the Bible a lot (I do!) and prays like crazy (I do!) and treasures my faith like it was the very glue to existence, I really don't know why I get into these tussles. The one thing I know is that I am Christian, but far from being a perfect one -- and also that I am very, very wary of dogma. One thing that strikes me now though is that, while I have a few debating sounding-boards online, usually over the medium of blogging comments, there are some who do their debates from some reservoir of spite that borders on madness. They are erudite, yes, but have arguments that appeal more to emotional, below-the-belt wrangglings more than any other. But there are some debaters I consider worthy of respect, even emulation. Resty Odon, for example. A brilliant man who treasures his faith, he makes his arguments from a well-spring of intellect that says it knows its history, psychology, sociology, and statistics. In other words, people like him actually know what they are talking about, and have the knowledge/informational evidence to back what they have to say. In other words, they are not stupid. The rest may blather all they want to kingdom come but they're all "pink idiots" compared to Resty. Now, let me talk about shopping ... Wasn't that outfit in that boutique just adorable for summer? I'd like to get it in blue.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:24 AM | Why Men Are Happier

Men are just happier people -- what do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car Mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress, $5000. Tux rental, $100. People never stare at your chest when you are talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conservations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all of your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe even decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually hides you big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter what how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:24 AM | Why Men Are Happier

Men are just happier people -- what do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car Mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress, $5000. Tux rental, $100. People never stare at your chest when you are talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conservations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all of your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe even decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually hides you big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter what how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:24 AM | Why Men Are Happier

Men are just happier people -- what do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car Mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress, $5000. Tux rental, $100. People never stare at your chest when you are talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conservations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all of your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes. Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe even decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually hides you big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter what how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Wednesday, April 20, 2005

entry arrow11:36 PM | How We Change Skins

New look? Well, if the Church could elect a new Pope, I too could do with something new. Plus, I was getting tired of all that melting ice. Now, it's all about autumn.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow11:36 PM | How We Change Skins

New look? Well, if the Church could elect a new Pope, I too could do with something new. Plus, I was getting tired of all that melting ice. Now, it's all about autumn.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow11:36 PM | How We Change Skins

New look? Well, if the Church could elect a new Pope, I too could do with something new. Plus, I was getting tired of all that melting ice. Now, it's all about autumn.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:35 AM | Habemus Papam?

A new Pope. What do you know...



The TV was on well past midnight. We were about to go to sleep when I switched to CNN before turning the TV off. And there it was. Mark, who's a Catholic, lets it out slowly, "Eh, he doesn't look Pope-ish." He was puzzled earlier, why -- when the bells of the Vatican were ringing and the white smoke was coming out of the Sistine Chapel -- I was talking to myself this way, "Please, not Ratzinger. Please, not Ratzinger..." It was Ratzinger. Rats. The New York Times has since reported of the soft-spoken, but also reportedly divisive Cardinal Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI (I should get used to that name soon) -- as "John Paul II, without the imagination."

Ouch.

Now, let's see how this Pope fares in the world... Go Papa!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:35 AM | Habemus Papam?

A new Pope. What do you know...



The TV was on well past midnight. We were about to go to sleep when I switched to CNN before turning the TV off. And there it was. Mark, who's a Catholic, lets it out slowly, "Eh, he doesn't look Pope-ish." He was puzzled earlier, why -- when the bells of the Vatican were ringing and the white smoke was coming out of the Sistine Chapel -- I was talking to myself this way, "Please, not Ratzinger. Please, not Ratzinger..." It was Ratzinger. Rats. The New York Times has since reported of the soft-spoken, but also reportedly divisive Cardinal Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI (I should get used to that name soon) -- as "John Paul II, without the imagination."

Ouch.

Now, let's see how this Pope fares in the world... Go Papa!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:35 AM | Habemus Papam?

A new Pope. What do you know...



The TV was on well past midnight. We were about to go to sleep when I switched to CNN before turning the TV off. And there it was. Mark, who's a Catholic, lets it out slowly, "Eh, he doesn't look Pope-ish." He was puzzled earlier, why -- when the bells of the Vatican were ringing and the white smoke was coming out of the Sistine Chapel -- I was talking to myself this way, "Please, not Ratzinger. Please, not Ratzinger..." It was Ratzinger. Rats. The New York Times has since reported of the soft-spoken, but also reportedly divisive Cardinal Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI (I should get used to that name soon) -- as "John Paul II, without the imagination."

Ouch.

Now, let's see how this Pope fares in the world... Go Papa!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Tuesday, April 19, 2005

entry arrow11:41 AM | Oh, Dear God. It's That Woman Again.

Some people have been asking me what's so bad about George W. Bush being in office, and what's so bad about the "values" tsunami in the United States, and what's so bad about conservatives being in power.

Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you the rabid Ann Coulter.



Bush bitch. Tart-tongued Republican go-go girl. Paragon of American conservatism, if it were given a voice that speaks what's really in its mind.

I rest my case.

[via bookslut]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow11:41 AM | Oh, Dear God. It's That Woman Again.

Some people have been asking me what's so bad about George W. Bush being in office, and what's so bad about the "values" tsunami in the United States, and what's so bad about conservatives being in power.

Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you the rabid Ann Coulter.



Bush bitch. Tart-tongued Republican go-go girl. Paragon of American conservatism, if it were given a voice that speaks what's really in its mind.

I rest my case.

[via bookslut]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow11:41 AM | Oh, Dear God. It's That Woman Again.

Some people have been asking me what's so bad about George W. Bush being in office, and what's so bad about the "values" tsunami in the United States, and what's so bad about conservatives being in power.

Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you the rabid Ann Coulter.



Bush bitch. Tart-tongued Republican go-go girl. Paragon of American conservatism, if it were given a voice that speaks what's really in its mind.

I rest my case.

[via bookslut]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Monday, April 18, 2005

entry arrow9:07 PM | The Worst Thing You Can Give Your Kid is a C******* Education

My best friend, Kokak, used to teach in one of those saintly institutions of education here in Dumaguete. Without doubt, she is a woman with a mind of her own, and often speaks it; she is, in other words, a woman very much ahead of her time. She was also a very good teacher, perfectly suited for the job description of Mass Communication instructor for that saintly school. Considering that she was a reporter for ABS-CBN Dumaguete at that time, and who would later saw action as a journalist in the wartorn battlefields of Mindanao, she was the perfect source for journalistic education.

One day, when the new school term was about to begin, she was given "no teaching load" -- which, in the academic industry, is a subtle way for a school administration to tell you "You're fired." The reason?

She was reported to the nuns by some "concerned" persons, as having committed the most sinful of indiscretions: she wore a short skirt while walking down the Boulevard.

Her initial reaction was, of course, anger. "Damn them," she told me. It was not the lost paycheck she regretted, because she did that stint for the love and the experience of teaching. It was the sheer embarrassment of having been branded with the implication she was "immoral" because of some sartorial choice, and thus not fit to be teaching college students. Later, she found humor in the situation, and moved on with her life.

And what a life!

First, she went to Singapore on an ASEAN scholarship, and gained her Master's Degree in Mass Communication from Nanyang University. And today, she works as an IT journalist in Sydney, with her cutting-edge work always seeing print in The New York Times. She has recently been nominated for the award of outstanding reporter in that field, for a much-coveted industry prize in Australia. The first time for any Filipino, and thus, a matter of pride for us all.

Truly, an outstanding journalist.

But fired by a Catholic school ... for wearing a short skirt.

Sometimes, I wonder: where do the priorities lie for schools like this? In education? Or in moral paranoia edging on the absurd and the grotesquely ridiculous? How do you measure morality through beauty pageants and skimpy clothing? Erin Brokovich had skirts that scandalized even the sun, but is now known as a crusader for environmental rights, played to perfection in an Oscar-winning turn by Julia Roberts.

And then this hits me: the worst thing you can ever give your kid perhaps is a Catholic education. Nuns', most especially. The men of the cloth seem to be more on the understanding side. That is why you have the University of Sto. Tomas with the Dominicans, Ateneo de Manila with the Jesuits, and De la Salle with the La Sallian brothers -- outstanding universities all, but without the needless needling on moral ridiculousness, like the wrath on the "sin" of short skirts.

Let's say it again: ridiculous!

There is the case of another lady friend, now the beautiful manager of a telecommunications firm, who is also one of Dumaguete City's young movers and shakers. She is a former beauty queen and flight attendant, and without doubt, is one of the nicest people around town. Wherever she goes, she brings a certain lightness to the room. She turns heads, she melts hearts. She has turned out so well, this lovely, lovely woman. When she was 15, however, and studying in that saintly high school, she discreetly joined and won Miss Dumaguete. She was promptly called by the administration, and berated with so much fire, there was no flame left in hell. But she couldn't be kicked out because she had really good grades. One case of another honor student/beauty queen reached as far as the courts of law. I'm not sure who won, but I remember the saintly rejoinder: "This is our policy, so why bother studying here?"

Exactly.

Why bother studying there at all? When all you have right there is a box to contain all of you, in the name of grotesque morality?

I have another friend, a conscientious Nursing student, who now finds herself in serious quandary, facing possible expulsion. She has always been an above-average student, is very well-liked in school, and comes from a very good family. Somebody with good breeding, you can say. She was in Cebu a few weeks ago, to give support to two friends who were joining the Miss Philippines Earth Central Visayas beauty pageant. In the rash of activities that followed, and because of her can-do spirit, she was allowed by the organizers to join in with the girls' fun, but not as a candidate. She knew she couldn't jeopardize her nursing education with that, coming as she does from a saintly school. But she was part of some pictorials, and what-not, and then promptly went home for summer school.

Then it broke: one saintly clinical instructor sneakily told a nun in the administration about all of that. "How can you let this girl take summer school, when she wore an indecent bikini for a photo shoot?" the clinical instructor reportedly said. The "indecent" bikini shot, of course, showed nothing more than a head and shoulder mug. But my friend was promptly called by the administration, and now she is in tears. She is already in Junior year, after all. All those years spent burning the midnight candle, gone? Because of a snitch of a teacher? And an immoral bikini picture that wasn't?

The nun said, "The issue here is not about you joining, the issue here is morality and decency."

"Sister," my friend defended herself, "I was just there to accompany my friend. Since I was vacationing, I just wore the appropriate summer attire."

"And what do you mean by summer wear?"

"A bathing suit, sister."

"Imagine!" the nun said. "A bathing suit! Bikini? You are very indiscrete! Very indecent! You have exposed yourself for all the world to see! That’s not the doings of a [identity of people from that school]."

The poor, clueless nun.

Of course, in comparison, my friend brought with her to the administrator's meeting, her clinical instructor's telling photos from Friendster, with the clinical instructor draped all over her boyfriend, showing cleavage and all. "So, who's more indecent now?" my friend posed the question.

Sad, sad, sad.

If a school pays more attention to your clothes rather than the contents of your head, be careful.

But I think of both of these women as victims, really, of an atmosphere of moral paranoia. I remember my readings about Iron Curtain countries at the height of the Cold War, when people in communist states snitched on each other to the secret police springing from the constant climate of fear. I think the same thing is happening in this saintly school. When I was editor of a local newspaper, this saintly school gained the eerie distinction of having had two (or was it three?) suicides all in the same schoolyear. Three suicides. That should say for something. One was a grade school boy who hanged himself in the school gym after being reprimanded by his teacher about a busted electric fan. I still remember the photos of that boy with the unmistakable ring around his throat from the pressure of the cord.

My God, I remember saying to myself. My God. Nobody deserves that death.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:07 PM | The Worst Thing You Can Give Your Kid is a C******* Education

My best friend, Kokak, used to teach in one of those saintly institutions of education here in Dumaguete. Without doubt, she is a woman with a mind of her own, and often speaks it; she is, in other words, a woman very much ahead of her time. She was also a very good teacher, perfectly suited for the job description of Mass Communication instructor for that saintly school. Considering that she was a reporter for ABS-CBN Dumaguete at that time, and who would later saw action as a journalist in the wartorn battlefields of Mindanao, she was the perfect source for journalistic education.

One day, when the new school term was about to begin, she was given "no teaching load" -- which, in the academic industry, is a subtle way for a school administration to tell you "You're fired." The reason?

She was reported to the nuns by some "concerned" persons, as having committed the most sinful of indiscretions: she wore a short skirt while walking down the Boulevard.

Her initial reaction was, of course, anger. "Damn them," she told me. It was not the lost paycheck she regretted, because she did that stint for the love and the experience of teaching. It was the sheer embarrassment of having been branded with the implication she was "immoral" because of some sartorial choice, and thus not fit to be teaching college students. Later, she found humor in the situation, and moved on with her life.

And what a life!

First, she went to Singapore on an ASEAN scholarship, and gained her Master's Degree in Mass Communication from Nanyang University. And today, she works as an IT journalist in Sydney, with her cutting-edge work always seeing print in The New York Times. She has recently been nominated for the award of outstanding reporter in that field, for a much-coveted industry prize in Australia. The first time for any Filipino, and thus, a matter of pride for us all.

Truly, an outstanding journalist.

But fired by a Catholic school ... for wearing a short skirt.

Sometimes, I wonder: where do the priorities lie for schools like this? In education? Or in moral paranoia edging on the absurd and the grotesquely ridiculous? How do you measure morality through beauty pageants and skimpy clothing? Erin Brokovich had skirts that scandalized even the sun, but is now known as a crusader for environmental rights, played to perfection in an Oscar-winning turn by Julia Roberts.

And then this hits me: the worst thing you can ever give your kid perhaps is a Catholic education. Nuns', most especially. The men of the cloth seem to be more on the understanding side. That is why you have the University of Sto. Tomas with the Dominicans, Ateneo de Manila with the Jesuits, and De la Salle with the La Sallian brothers -- outstanding universities all, but without the needless needling on moral ridiculousness, like the wrath on the "sin" of short skirts.

Let's say it again: ridiculous!

There is the case of another lady friend, now the beautiful manager of a telecommunications firm, who is also one of Dumaguete City's young movers and shakers. She is a former beauty queen and flight attendant, and without doubt, is one of the nicest people around town. Wherever she goes, she brings a certain lightness to the room. She turns heads, she melts hearts. She has turned out so well, this lovely, lovely woman. When she was 15, however, and studying in that saintly high school, she discreetly joined and won Miss Dumaguete. She was promptly called by the administration, and berated with so much fire, there was no flame left in hell. But she couldn't be kicked out because she had really good grades. One case of another honor student/beauty queen reached as far as the courts of law. I'm not sure who won, but I remember the saintly rejoinder: "This is our policy, so why bother studying here?"

Exactly.

Why bother studying there at all? When all you have right there is a box to contain all of you, in the name of grotesque morality?

I have another friend, a conscientious Nursing student, who now finds herself in serious quandary, facing possible expulsion. She has always been an above-average student, is very well-liked in school, and comes from a very good family. Somebody with good breeding, you can say. She was in Cebu a few weeks ago, to give support to two friends who were joining the Miss Philippines Earth Central Visayas beauty pageant. In the rash of activities that followed, and because of her can-do spirit, she was allowed by the organizers to join in with the girls' fun, but not as a candidate. She knew she couldn't jeopardize her nursing education with that, coming as she does from a saintly school. But she was part of some pictorials, and what-not, and then promptly went home for summer school.

Then it broke: one saintly clinical instructor sneakily told a nun in the administration about all of that. "How can you let this girl take summer school, when she wore an indecent bikini for a photo shoot?" the clinical instructor reportedly said. The "indecent" bikini shot, of course, showed nothing more than a head and shoulder mug. But my friend was promptly called by the administration, and now she is in tears. She is already in Junior year, after all. All those years spent burning the midnight candle, gone? Because of a snitch of a teacher? And an immoral bikini picture that wasn't?

The nun said, "The issue here is not about you joining, the issue here is morality and decency."

"Sister," my friend defended herself, "I was just there to accompany my friend. Since I was vacationing, I just wore the appropriate summer attire."

"And what do you mean by summer wear?"

"A bathing suit, sister."

"Imagine!" the nun said. "A bathing suit! Bikini? You are very indiscrete! Very indecent! You have exposed yourself for all the world to see! That’s not the doings of a [identity of people from that school]."

The poor, clueless nun.

Of course, in comparison, my friend brought with her to the administrator's meeting, her clinical instructor's telling photos from Friendster, with the clinical instructor draped all over her boyfriend, showing cleavage and all. "So, who's more indecent now?" my friend posed the question.

Sad, sad, sad.

If a school pays more attention to your clothes rather than the contents of your head, be careful.

But I think of both of these women as victims, really, of an atmosphere of moral paranoia. I remember my readings about Iron Curtain countries at the height of the Cold War, when people in communist states snitched on each other to the secret police springing from the constant climate of fear. I think the same thing is happening in this saintly school. When I was editor of a local newspaper, this saintly school gained the eerie distinction of having had two (or was it three?) suicides all in the same schoolyear. Three suicides. That should say for something. One was a grade school boy who hanged himself in the school gym after being reprimanded by his teacher about a busted electric fan. I still remember the photos of that boy with the unmistakable ring around his throat from the pressure of the cord.

My God, I remember saying to myself. My God. Nobody deserves that death.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:07 PM | The Worst Thing You Can Give Your Kid is a C******* Education

My best friend, Kokak, used to teach in one of those saintly institutions of education here in Dumaguete. Without doubt, she is a woman with a mind of her own, and often speaks it; she is, in other words, a woman very much ahead of her time. She was also a very good teacher, perfectly suited for the job description of Mass Communication instructor for that saintly school. Considering that she was a reporter for ABS-CBN Dumaguete at that time, and who would later saw action as a journalist in the wartorn battlefields of Mindanao, she was the perfect source for journalistic education.

One day, when the new school term was about to begin, she was given "no teaching load" -- which, in the academic industry, is a subtle way for a school administration to tell you "You're fired." The reason?

She was reported to the nuns by some "concerned" persons, as having committed the most sinful of indiscretions: she wore a short skirt while walking down the Boulevard.

Her initial reaction was, of course, anger. "Damn them," she told me. It was not the lost paycheck she regretted, because she did that stint for the love and the experience of teaching. It was the sheer embarrassment of having been branded with the implication she was "immoral" because of some sartorial choice, and thus not fit to be teaching college students. Later, she found humor in the situation, and moved on with her life.

And what a life!

First, she went to Singapore on an ASEAN scholarship, and gained her Master's Degree in Mass Communication from Nanyang University. And today, she works as an IT journalist in Sydney, with her cutting-edge work always seeing print in The New York Times. She has recently been nominated for the award of outstanding reporter in that field, for a much-coveted industry prize in Australia. The first time for any Filipino, and thus, a matter of pride for us all.

Truly, an outstanding journalist.

But fired by a Catholic school ... for wearing a short skirt.

Sometimes, I wonder: where do the priorities lie for schools like this? In education? Or in moral paranoia edging on the absurd and the grotesquely ridiculous? How do you measure morality through beauty pageants and skimpy clothing? Erin Brokovich had skirts that scandalized even the sun, but is now known as a crusader for environmental rights, played to perfection in an Oscar-winning turn by Julia Roberts.

And then this hits me: the worst thing you can ever give your kid perhaps is a Catholic education. Nuns', most especially. The men of the cloth seem to be more on the understanding side. That is why you have the University of Sto. Tomas with the Dominicans, Ateneo de Manila with the Jesuits, and De la Salle with the La Sallian brothers -- outstanding universities all, but without the needless needling on moral ridiculousness, like the wrath on the "sin" of short skirts.

Let's say it again: ridiculous!

There is the case of another lady friend, now the beautiful manager of a telecommunications firm, who is also one of Dumaguete City's young movers and shakers. She is a former beauty queen and flight attendant, and without doubt, is one of the nicest people around town. Wherever she goes, she brings a certain lightness to the room. She turns heads, she melts hearts. She has turned out so well, this lovely, lovely woman. When she was 15, however, and studying in that saintly high school, she discreetly joined and won Miss Dumaguete. She was promptly called by the administration, and berated with so much fire, there was no flame left in hell. But she couldn't be kicked out because she had really good grades. One case of another honor student/beauty queen reached as far as the courts of law. I'm not sure who won, but I remember the saintly rejoinder: "This is our policy, so why bother studying here?"

Exactly.

Why bother studying there at all? When all you have right there is a box to contain all of you, in the name of grotesque morality?

I have another friend, a conscientious Nursing student, who now finds herself in serious quandary, facing possible expulsion. She has always been an above-average student, is very well-liked in school, and comes from a very good family. Somebody with good breeding, you can say. She was in Cebu a few weeks ago, to give support to two friends who were joining the Miss Philippines Earth Central Visayas beauty pageant. In the rash of activities that followed, and because of her can-do spirit, she was allowed by the organizers to join in with the girls' fun, but not as a candidate. She knew she couldn't jeopardize her nursing education with that, coming as she does from a saintly school. But she was part of some pictorials, and what-not, and then promptly went home for summer school.

Then it broke: one saintly clinical instructor sneakily told a nun in the administration about all of that. "How can you let this girl take summer school, when she wore an indecent bikini for a photo shoot?" the clinical instructor reportedly said. The "indecent" bikini shot, of course, showed nothing more than a head and shoulder mug. But my friend was promptly called by the administration, and now she is in tears. She is already in Junior year, after all. All those years spent burning the midnight candle, gone? Because of a snitch of a teacher? And an immoral bikini picture that wasn't?

The nun said, "The issue here is not about you joining, the issue here is morality and decency."

"Sister," my friend defended herself, "I was just there to accompany my friend. Since I was vacationing, I just wore the appropriate summer attire."

"And what do you mean by summer wear?"

"A bathing suit, sister."

"Imagine!" the nun said. "A bathing suit! Bikini? You are very indiscrete! Very indecent! You have exposed yourself for all the world to see! That’s not the doings of a [identity of people from that school]."

The poor, clueless nun.

Of course, in comparison, my friend brought with her to the administrator's meeting, her clinical instructor's telling photos from Friendster, with the clinical instructor draped all over her boyfriend, showing cleavage and all. "So, who's more indecent now?" my friend posed the question.

Sad, sad, sad.

If a school pays more attention to your clothes rather than the contents of your head, be careful.

But I think of both of these women as victims, really, of an atmosphere of moral paranoia. I remember my readings about Iron Curtain countries at the height of the Cold War, when people in communist states snitched on each other to the secret police springing from the constant climate of fear. I think the same thing is happening in this saintly school. When I was editor of a local newspaper, this saintly school gained the eerie distinction of having had two (or was it three?) suicides all in the same schoolyear. Three suicides. That should say for something. One was a grade school boy who hanged himself in the school gym after being reprimanded by his teacher about a busted electric fan. I still remember the photos of that boy with the unmistakable ring around his throat from the pressure of the cord.

My God, I remember saying to myself. My God. Nobody deserves that death.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:31 PM | When Harry Met ... Draco?

What goes on in the dark, enchanted shadows of Hogwarts? A whole salacious lot, by all accounts. Forgive me, but if you've noticed, this is the continued baring all of some of our favorite characters. First the Smurfs, and now the quintessential magic boy with the, you know, the wand. (What does he do with the wand ba?)



I emailed this image (swiped from some Downelink acccount) -- click here to get the bigger version -- to some friends this morning; they got the joke, and Kokak promptly insisted she wanted this posted in my blog. I have no choice but to comply with the wishes of my bestest fag hag. Then again, the whole picture makes sense naman, no?


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:31 PM | When Harry Met ... Draco?

What goes on in the dark, enchanted shadows of Hogwarts? A whole salacious lot, by all accounts. Forgive me, but if you've noticed, this is the continued baring all of some of our favorite characters. First the Smurfs, and now the quintessential magic boy with the, you know, the wand. (What does he do with the wand ba?)



I emailed this image (swiped from some Downelink acccount) -- click here to get the bigger version -- to some friends this morning; they got the joke, and Kokak promptly insisted she wanted this posted in my blog. I have no choice but to comply with the wishes of my bestest fag hag. Then again, the whole picture makes sense naman, no?


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:31 PM | When Harry Met ... Draco?

What goes on in the dark, enchanted shadows of Hogwarts? A whole salacious lot, by all accounts. Forgive me, but if you've noticed, this is the continued baring all of some of our favorite characters. First the Smurfs, and now the quintessential magic boy with the, you know, the wand. (What does he do with the wand ba?)



I emailed this image (swiped from some Downelink acccount) -- click here to get the bigger version -- to some friends this morning; they got the joke, and Kokak promptly insisted she wanted this posted in my blog. I have no choice but to comply with the wishes of my bestest fag hag. Then again, the whole picture makes sense naman, no?


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:21 AM | The Secret Lives of Smurfs

Somehow, we always suspected something was going on among these blue creatures...



All those little men, and only one little woman...

[via nerve.com]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:21 AM | The Secret Lives of Smurfs

Somehow, we always suspected something was going on among these blue creatures...



All those little men, and only one little woman...

[via nerve.com]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:21 AM | The Secret Lives of Smurfs

Somehow, we always suspected something was going on among these blue creatures...



All those little men, and only one little woman...

[via nerve.com]


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Sunday, April 17, 2005

entry arrow9:21 AM | Goma Bibe

Richard Gomez, tax evader.

He protests though that he is "facing this 'injustice'" simply because he's Richard Gomez. And that because he is a member of the opposition. (Wha--? Even this is politicized? What a crock! After yesterday's headlines with Susan Roces crusading like another Cory Aquino, the opposition is becoming quite hysterical. I am not a fan of the pygmy we call our President -- never voted for her, nor for Da King -- but the opposition seems to be mistaking theatrics for positive governance) The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports the actor as saying, "If I were an ordinary person, this would not have been a problem. I would have merely been asked to pay a penalty, and pay for omissions, if any."

The report goes on to say that Gomez and wife Lucy Torres were coming back from Hong Kong when the charges were filed.

"I am on my second honeymoon," he said, "and they're disturbing me."

Ow? Oh, boo-hoo-hoo. And he's complaining about "special treatment"? What a bitch. As somebody who just paid a fortune for hard-earned money, and not even complaining too much about it, I have this to say to Pretty-Boy-Made-Laos: "Pay up, bitch." And shut that whinny mouth.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:21 AM | Goma Bibe

Richard Gomez, tax evader.

He protests though that he is "facing this 'injustice'" simply because he's Richard Gomez. And that because he is a member of the opposition. (Wha--? Even this is politicized? What a crock! After yesterday's headlines with Susan Roces crusading like another Cory Aquino, the opposition is becoming quite hysterical. I am not a fan of the pygmy we call our President -- never voted for her, nor for Da King -- but the opposition seems to be mistaking theatrics for positive governance) The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports the actor as saying, "If I were an ordinary person, this would not have been a problem. I would have merely been asked to pay a penalty, and pay for omissions, if any."

The report goes on to say that Gomez and wife Lucy Torres were coming back from Hong Kong when the charges were filed.

"I am on my second honeymoon," he said, "and they're disturbing me."

Ow? Oh, boo-hoo-hoo. And he's complaining about "special treatment"? What a bitch. As somebody who just paid a fortune for hard-earned money, and not even complaining too much about it, I have this to say to Pretty-Boy-Made-Laos: "Pay up, bitch." And shut that whinny mouth.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:21 AM | Goma Bibe

Richard Gomez, tax evader.

He protests though that he is "facing this 'injustice'" simply because he's Richard Gomez. And that because he is a member of the opposition. (Wha--? Even this is politicized? What a crock! After yesterday's headlines with Susan Roces crusading like another Cory Aquino, the opposition is becoming quite hysterical. I am not a fan of the pygmy we call our President -- never voted for her, nor for Da King -- but the opposition seems to be mistaking theatrics for positive governance) The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports the actor as saying, "If I were an ordinary person, this would not have been a problem. I would have merely been asked to pay a penalty, and pay for omissions, if any."

The report goes on to say that Gomez and wife Lucy Torres were coming back from Hong Kong when the charges were filed.

"I am on my second honeymoon," he said, "and they're disturbing me."

Ow? Oh, boo-hoo-hoo. And he's complaining about "special treatment"? What a bitch. As somebody who just paid a fortune for hard-earned money, and not even complaining too much about it, I have this to say to Pretty-Boy-Made-Laos: "Pay up, bitch." And shut that whinny mouth.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:09 AM | Giddiness

There is something about this Sunday that feels just right on the get-go. I woke up, quite early, feeling a tremendous sense of having really rested. There's a downy feeling to my breathing: a purr, if you must. And I float, like one so relaxed, the very air is a comfort bed. My belly muscle still aches, but I just ignore it. Mark has prepared my favorite brewed coffee by the time I opened my eyes, and the first thing I taste is the wonderful start of caffeine snaking through my throat, suddenly edging me more awake. And then I see there's already so much sun -- but of a gentle, summery sort. I cannot wait to go to my mother's house, and have lunch with her. I envision eating a lot of bananas. I love bananas. And she has a store-house full of them, bless her soul. Mark has turned on the television, to MTV, and they're playing the classics from the good old 80's. Imagine waking up to Bette Midler singing "Wind Beneath My Wings," Breath singing "Hands to Heaven," Madonna singing "Crazy for You," Whitney Houston singing "How Will I Know," Bananarama singing "Love, Truth, and Honesty," and Paula Abdul singing "Straight Up." Wonderful, wonderful. Mark said something funny last night before we went to sleep. He was watching Spider-man, and was quite disturbed by the fact that the superhero shoots his web through his -- wrist? hand? (No one really knows spider-people's anatomy.) "If he really has become a spider in man form," Mark says, "shouldn't he be shooting his web through his ass?"

He is funny and cute, no? I love this guy...


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:09 AM | Giddiness

There is something about this Sunday that feels just right on the get-go. I woke up, quite early, feeling a tremendous sense of having really rested. There's a downy feeling to my breathing: a purr, if you must. And I float, like one so relaxed, the very air is a comfort bed. My belly muscle still aches, but I just ignore it. Mark has prepared my favorite brewed coffee by the time I opened my eyes, and the first thing I taste is the wonderful start of caffeine snaking through my throat, suddenly edging me more awake. And then I see there's already so much sun -- but of a gentle, summery sort. I cannot wait to go to my mother's house, and have lunch with her. I envision eating a lot of bananas. I love bananas. And she has a store-house full of them, bless her soul. Mark has turned on the television, to MTV, and they're playing the classics from the good old 80's. Imagine waking up to Bette Midler singing "Wind Beneath My Wings," Breath singing "Hands to Heaven," Madonna singing "Crazy for You," Whitney Houston singing "How Will I Know," Bananarama singing "Love, Truth, and Honesty," and Paula Abdul singing "Straight Up." Wonderful, wonderful. Mark said something funny last night before we went to sleep. He was watching Spider-man, and was quite disturbed by the fact that the superhero shoots his web through his -- wrist? hand? (No one really knows spider-people's anatomy.) "If he really has become a spider in man form," Mark says, "shouldn't he be shooting his web through his ass?"

He is funny and cute, no? I love this guy...


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:09 AM | Giddiness

There is something about this Sunday that feels just right on the get-go. I woke up, quite early, feeling a tremendous sense of having really rested. There's a downy feeling to my breathing: a purr, if you must. And I float, like one so relaxed, the very air is a comfort bed. My belly muscle still aches, but I just ignore it. Mark has prepared my favorite brewed coffee by the time I opened my eyes, and the first thing I taste is the wonderful start of caffeine snaking through my throat, suddenly edging me more awake. And then I see there's already so much sun -- but of a gentle, summery sort. I cannot wait to go to my mother's house, and have lunch with her. I envision eating a lot of bananas. I love bananas. And she has a store-house full of them, bless her soul. Mark has turned on the television, to MTV, and they're playing the classics from the good old 80's. Imagine waking up to Bette Midler singing "Wind Beneath My Wings," Breath singing "Hands to Heaven," Madonna singing "Crazy for You," Whitney Houston singing "How Will I Know," Bananarama singing "Love, Truth, and Honesty," and Paula Abdul singing "Straight Up." Wonderful, wonderful. Mark said something funny last night before we went to sleep. He was watching Spider-man, and was quite disturbed by the fact that the superhero shoots his web through his -- wrist? hand? (No one really knows spider-people's anatomy.) "If he really has become a spider in man form," Mark says, "shouldn't he be shooting his web through his ass?"

He is funny and cute, no? I love this guy...


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Friday, April 15, 2005

entry arrow10:08 PM | I Never Thought I'd Live to See the Day...

... when pigs actually do fly.



Just caught a glimpse of the fantaserye Krystala on ABS-CBN, and they were showing Judy Ann Santos, as the superheroine of the title, soaring through the air in flight. Imagine that. Judy Ann Santos, in all her hefty glory. Flying. Her flying pose has the camera catching her at the sides, so you can actually see all those fleshy bumps struggling to get out of her blue costume. Forgive me for this, but the first thought that came into my head was, "Oh my God, a flying pig." Really.

I burst out laughing -- which was not easy considering that I pulled a belly muscle last week by overextending and being overambitious at the gym. That laugh pretty much hurt a lot.

That this post is not politically correct is a given. I do know of some plus-size people who are incredibly sexy. (One's a writer/friend, who is very much close to my heart. You know who you are. And Nick Joaquin's Amada in "The Summer Solstice" is another one.) So please forgive me. It's just the whole Judy Ann thing, hehehehe. I don't get it. Krystala. Hehehe.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:08 PM | I Never Thought I'd Live to See the Day...

... when pigs actually do fly.



Just caught a glimpse of the fantaserye Krystala on ABS-CBN, and they were showing Judy Ann Santos, as the superheroine of the title, soaring through the air in flight. Imagine that. Judy Ann Santos, in all her hefty glory. Flying. Her flying pose has the camera catching her at the sides, so you can actually see all those fleshy bumps struggling to get out of her blue costume. Forgive me for this, but the first thought that came into my head was, "Oh my God, a flying pig." Really.

I burst out laughing -- which was not easy considering that I pulled a belly muscle last week by overextending and being overambitious at the gym. That laugh pretty much hurt a lot.

That this post is not politically correct is a given. I do know of some plus-size people who are incredibly sexy. (One's a writer/friend, who is very much close to my heart. You know who you are. And Nick Joaquin's Amada in "The Summer Solstice" is another one.) So please forgive me. It's just the whole Judy Ann thing, hehehehe. I don't get it. Krystala. Hehehe.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:08 PM | I Never Thought I'd Live to See the Day...

... when pigs actually do fly.



Just caught a glimpse of the fantaserye Krystala on ABS-CBN, and they were showing Judy Ann Santos, as the superheroine of the title, soaring through the air in flight. Imagine that. Judy Ann Santos, in all her hefty glory. Flying. Her flying pose has the camera catching her at the sides, so you can actually see all those fleshy bumps struggling to get out of her blue costume. Forgive me for this, but the first thought that came into my head was, "Oh my God, a flying pig." Really.

I burst out laughing -- which was not easy considering that I pulled a belly muscle last week by overextending and being overambitious at the gym. That laugh pretty much hurt a lot.

That this post is not politically correct is a given. I do know of some plus-size people who are incredibly sexy. (One's a writer/friend, who is very much close to my heart. You know who you are. And Nick Joaquin's Amada in "The Summer Solstice" is another one.) So please forgive me. It's just the whole Judy Ann thing, hehehehe. I don't get it. Krystala. Hehehe.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Thursday, April 14, 2005

entry arrow6:33 PM | So You Want to Be a Call Center Guy?

A day in the life of call support.

[from the endless wandering of clee villasor]



[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow6:33 PM | So You Want to Be a Call Center Guy?

A day in the life of call support.

[from the endless wandering of clee villasor]



[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow6:33 PM | So You Want to Be a Call Center Guy?

A day in the life of call support.

[from the endless wandering of clee villasor]



[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Wednesday, April 13, 2005

entry arrow8:13 AM | How It Is

I filed my income tax return last week. The taxable amount glared at me like a wart on paper. I pay the government this much every year? Highway robbery. I want a street named after me!

I needed some cooling down.

So last Sunday, Mark and I were doing our bit of Sunday strolling, something we used to do often but haven't done in a long time. I've been busy salvaging stories (to some degree of success) and preparing for the summer term, and he has been busy graduating from college and shooting TV shows. It is remarkable how so much clutter disguised as responsibilities make up our lives, we forget to actually live.

In Lee Super Plaza, we'd do our regular route of browsing the second-hand books and magazines at the mezzanine, eating siomai (and sometimes tacos) at the Food Court, then going on to the kitsch on display at the downstairs knick-knacks department: all those figurines and picture frames and candles and lamps and fake flowers of astonishing bad taste I wonder who buys these things. We become more excited when we get to the kitchen ware section, and the furnitures, and we wonder: why is that so? Have we become so domesticated together?

At the toy store, we revert to being children. All those Spongebobs and toy cars and funny dolls and stuffed toys and mechanical snakes to occupy our fancy! Then I saw some board games, the kind I used to play with as a kid, something that brought families and friends together: Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Bingo, Monopoly, Snake and Ladders, Clue...

I don't know anybody -- kids or adults -- who play board games these days. With that, and taxes, the world becomes so much sadder.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:13 AM | How It Is

I filed my income tax return last week. The taxable amount glared at me like a wart on paper. I pay the government this much every year? Highway robbery. I want a street named after me!

I needed some cooling down.

So last Sunday, Mark and I were doing our bit of Sunday strolling, something we used to do often but haven't done in a long time. I've been busy salvaging stories (to some degree of success) and preparing for the summer term, and he has been busy graduating from college and shooting TV shows. It is remarkable how so much clutter disguised as responsibilities make up our lives, we forget to actually live.

In Lee Super Plaza, we'd do our regular route of browsing the second-hand books and magazines at the mezzanine, eating siomai (and sometimes tacos) at the Food Court, then going on to the kitsch on display at the downstairs knick-knacks department: all those figurines and picture frames and candles and lamps and fake flowers of astonishing bad taste I wonder who buys these things. We become more excited when we get to the kitchen ware section, and the furnitures, and we wonder: why is that so? Have we become so domesticated together?

At the toy store, we revert to being children. All those Spongebobs and toy cars and funny dolls and stuffed toys and mechanical snakes to occupy our fancy! Then I saw some board games, the kind I used to play with as a kid, something that brought families and friends together: Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Bingo, Monopoly, Snake and Ladders, Clue...

I don't know anybody -- kids or adults -- who play board games these days. With that, and taxes, the world becomes so much sadder.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:13 AM | How It Is

I filed my income tax return last week. The taxable amount glared at me like a wart on paper. I pay the government this much every year? Highway robbery. I want a street named after me!

I needed some cooling down.

So last Sunday, Mark and I were doing our bit of Sunday strolling, something we used to do often but haven't done in a long time. I've been busy salvaging stories (to some degree of success) and preparing for the summer term, and he has been busy graduating from college and shooting TV shows. It is remarkable how so much clutter disguised as responsibilities make up our lives, we forget to actually live.

In Lee Super Plaza, we'd do our regular route of browsing the second-hand books and magazines at the mezzanine, eating siomai (and sometimes tacos) at the Food Court, then going on to the kitsch on display at the downstairs knick-knacks department: all those figurines and picture frames and candles and lamps and fake flowers of astonishing bad taste I wonder who buys these things. We become more excited when we get to the kitchen ware section, and the furnitures, and we wonder: why is that so? Have we become so domesticated together?

At the toy store, we revert to being children. All those Spongebobs and toy cars and funny dolls and stuffed toys and mechanical snakes to occupy our fancy! Then I saw some board games, the kind I used to play with as a kid, something that brought families and friends together: Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Bingo, Monopoly, Snake and Ladders, Clue...

I don't know anybody -- kids or adults -- who play board games these days. With that, and taxes, the world becomes so much sadder.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Tuesday, April 12, 2005

entry arrow1:48 AM | My Favorite Food Places

I don't cook much.

The last time I baked Angel's Food Cake was for high school's Home Economics class, and the cake we eventually produced straight from the oven was unbelievably spongy, and the icing runny. Mrs. Timtim, who was our ever-patient teacher in Silliman High, gave me a passing grade nevertheless. This despite the fact that my group had ran out of our ration of three matchsticks for the oven, but Gerard, who was already wily even in our younger years, had evilly pocketed a matchbox-full into the helm of his apron. The cake was a relative success: it didn't collapse upon itself. And despite its aesthetic failures, it was surprisingly delicious. Gerard since then has graduated with an HRM degree from the University of the Philippines ... and I am still the pedestrian food taster. Never one made for the magic of skillets and measuring cups. I was to be one of those hopelessly inept Filipino boys spoiled too much by mother to be lord of the kitchen. That I do make great achara is no boasting matter, because pickled papaya does not a dish make.

When I studied and lived on my own in the concrete jungles of Tokyo -- where a restaurant meal cost far more than anyone's monthly salary here -- I reveled in the joys of living in a first-world country where everything can be had for a few yen more. The busy Japanese had developed a heat-then-eat pack of microwave-ready fried rice, which was available 24 hours a day from the nearest SunKus. (Or the 7-11 a few blocks south, which was a bit too far from my side of Mitaka.) That was a tasty instant food, something I lived on as staple for the most part of my Japanese residence. Sometimes, I fried something. Bacon, I think.

On good days, when I feel just a tiny bit epicurean, I switch on the television and watch the various temptations proffered in the cooking shows over at the Lifestyle Network, and more often these days, on the Food and Living division of Discovery Channel. Anthony Bourdain, besides being a great writer, becomes even more enviable for me when I learn he knows his exotic food like the back of his cooking hand, too. Then there is Nigella Lawson. Television food indeed made sexy. Which goes without saying that watching television is the extent to my efforts in food preparation, and I've convinced myself luckily, too, because this couch potato exercise is helpfully cholesterol-free.

But a kind of wish often escapes from my mouth in the guise of sighing -- something I interpret as my soul wishing that my hands were a bit more creative, food-wise. I can perfectly imagine myself with a chef's hat, skillets and knives on hand, concocting the perfect tocino del cielo. But there is no passion in even attempting that, not the kind of passion I have anyway for, well, eating. I blame my mother sometimes; herself a very good cook -- the kind who absolutely loathes the dishes she makes -- she never taught me how to handle myself in the kitchen, although all five of my older brothers have certain specialties that somehow elevate them, at least in my estimation. Brother Alvin, who makes a living as a chef in Los Angeles, has all the gifts. Brother Edwin has all the imagination and European-savvy, while Brother Rey puts his own stamp on his chicken salad.

I cannot make spaghetti without consulting the cookbook.

The ultimate reward for all these in a bachelor's life such as mine, is that it makes me as a kind of expert in choosing the best restaurants anywhere, brought about more out of a sense of necessity. I need to eat, and I just don't eat anywhere, because the rule of any gourmand involves also the enjoyment in the eating. In my Dumaguete life as a bachelor, I know of the endless parade of culinary possibilities that present itself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am going to share some of the more interesting ones. The top ones, because they are closer to my heart.

It's not the deliciousness of the meal that catches my fancy all the time. It is not the primary criteria. In Don Atilano, I once had a wonderful dinner (with Father Jacques de Boccard) of the most savory steak, done rare, complete with a 2002 Cape Gold Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa, the soft berry and fruity aroma of which made the whole experience a refection of divine gusto. Its Wakagi counterpart is great enough for a Japanese resturant (the maki is to die for). But I never liked the atmosphere, and oftentimes the service, of Don Atilano. My cousin, newly-arrived from Canada, took me for dinner there once, and upon entering a near-empty Wakagi, we were immediately dismissed by the waiter with a suggestion bordering on snobbery, to "go to the other side" of the establishment. Manang Yvette replied coolly back: "My dear waiter, I wish to have Japanese food for my dinner. Do you have a problem with that?" Later, she made a statement by ordering more than half the available listings in the menu, all charged to her platinum credit card.

Which is why I like Blueman's Chicken. The very name suggests imagination (why, indeed, "blue man"?) that belies the fact it is actually a little more than a roadside stand, offering deep-fried nuggets of chicken. Mark used to take me for dinner to the old stand near St. Paul's, where we would dine on either deliciously fried breast or drumstick, in darkness. (They had no electricity, only quaint candles.) Today, they have transferred near my pad along Aldecoa Drive (otherwise known as Laguna Silliman), with a tiny (and well-lit) sitting room with three tables. The chicken is still the same, perhaps even more delicious. And intriguing, because it is so ordinary, reminding me of the fried chicken Mother used to make for me when I was a kid. The chicken has a certain crunchiness to it, and the meat is tantalizingly soft for something that is fried.

The chicken is not so great over at Sta. Teresa, near Piapi. (It is often bony.) But this wonderful upscale carinderia compensates for it with its other dishes that define the very best of home cooking. Over the past few months, and without any advertising at all, the business has thrived on the power of word-of-mouth. And now days are rare when the place is not full to capacity. The proprietors have had to erect a table or two along the sidewalk to accommodate the growing throng of very faithful patrons. What I like about Sta. Teresa is its meticulous attention to detail. They have somehow learned what is already common knowledge among food aficionados: that dining out must also be an experience, not just for the palate, but for the rest of senses. The whole place evokes something Zen-like, almost Japanese, with its carefully cultured landscaping and perfectly designed lighting. The whole experiment has thus resulted to an illusion of relaxation and quiet, even when the place itself is buzzing with activity. To eat at Sta. Teresa is to enjoy a sense of wholeness.

That sense of wholeness takes on a different approach in Chantilly. An old name for most Dumaguetenos who flock to the place for their pastry needs, the reason why I love Chantilly is the fact that I can spend whole afternoons there and get out feeling a little bit happier, and more in touch with myself. Yes, it's the food: the carbonara and the Chantilly bread are old favorites; but it is also the music selection, which is soft, and easy. When I have to attack the piles of student papers for grading in my work as a college instructor, I prepare myself for the assault on grammar and syntax by doing it all in Chantilly, over some cake and hot tea.

I like an atmosphere of friendliness and accommodation in my restaurants -- which is why it disheartened me when I noted a particular notice in Dunkin' Donuts barring students from studying in its premises, because of "complaints from other customers." Which gives me pause. I, too, used to study in Dunkin', burning my midnight candle while burping over a box of Bavarians and cups of brewed coffee. It was the perfect place: open 24 hours in a city purported to be a University Town. I mean, who else would be awake in Dumaguete at 2 o'clock in the morning, except students? So now, studying there is banned. Alas, we, too, can choose not to eat doughnuts. Most of the students I know -- law students, mostly -- have gone back to Chantilly, where the music is more relaxing, and the food great.

When I want something heavier for lunch and dinner, Howyang is the place I go to. There is a certain charm to the place. It's friendly, and very clean. There once was a survey among consumers in Manila to determine what people considered a very good restaurant. The surprising result was the restroom factor: that the cleaner the restroom, the better the restaurant is perceived to be. On that one criteria, Howyang is perhaps the best restaurant in Dumaguete. Notwithstanding the fact that for a cheap total of P55, you get a good meal of your choice, with drinks. Which is more than I can say for most fastfood joints in Dumaguete. My current favorite fare is the grilled pork belly, always a scrumptious affair.

But for the best food in town, all roads lead to Royal Suite Inn, along Rovira Road in Bantayan -- a place which is, for the most part, the sacred secret destination among the city's gourmands. The place looks unpretentious, but the moment you taste their sizzling pochero and garlic chicken, you would have yourself believe that God is in heaven, and everything is good in the world. Because of places like these, I do not mind at all the fact that I am a cooking ignoramus. What's a little ignorance, in exchange for food and atmosphere like theirs?


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





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