Short Story Writing: My First Love

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.–Gene Fowler

 

I AM NOT A WRITER. I never am. Instead, I’m simply a person who loves to write and gets pleasure from it, someone who took a writing course then transferred to another writing program in college, and wrote for a living for almost two years until just recently. A writer? Me? No way.

For me, “writer” is so big and heavy a word that it takes a pure genius to be called one. It’s like a container filled with boiling water. It’s too hot to handle, and although I can do with a potholder, if I become clumsy enough in carrying it, I may spill it all over the place and burn my skin. Now that’s total pain that will definitely leave a scar. So no, I’m not a writer, I just enjoy writing. People may call me one because of my background, but me, declaring that I’m certainly a writer, is deplorable, an outright crime. Except, perhaps, if one would ask what my job designations were in the past.

Not writing a short story there but something else. Hmmmm… -_- (Photo by Mae Winky Mozelle Veluz)

My love for writing began when I was 11 years old, an elementary student. I think my friends and I were watching too much anime and were going gaga over them then that soon, we already had stories of our own that we couldn’t contain in our young minds anymore, so we immortalized them on paper. We cheerfully wrote each story on intermediate papers or yellow pads, and they were in a form of screenplay scripts, not paragraphs like those in short stories and novels.

Those were fun times, young as we were and we had nothing else to think about except those crazy stories from our wacky imaginations. It was especially thrilling and annoying when we were trying our best to hide our secret agenda from our mischievous little boy classmates–Er, actually one was really big–who were very curious about what we were up to in those sheets that we were always busy and serious while writing on them, and laughing and giggling whenever we read them. Yes, short story writing was a clandestine affair for us then. So just imagine the adrenaline rush whenever one of the intruders would successfully grab our papers, then we would fight with all our might to get them back. Kids…

We continued that private business of ours in high school, and eventually, learned to write them on notebooks and we also recruited new members. We stopped when we entered college, though, when we went to different universities.

We stopped writing, but I didn’t. I took AB Literature in college and it was there where I first wrote a short story in paragraph form. Then come third year and I shifted to AB Journalism where I wrote articles based on facts, not my fancies. I acquired so much writing tips on that course but I thought I lost my ability to summon fictional stories from my mind.

Good thing we had a Filipino subject in fourth year where we wrote not just short stories in the Filipino language, but also poems. It was a fun subject taught by the funniest professor I had in college and I had the chance to twist my psyche again for those eccentric stories I could think of.

Today, I only write blog entries, research reports and E-mails for work, and short short stories like Touch It Not, my first post at Words of Happinest, but I’m still hoping I can rekindle my relationship with my first love, short story writing. I think I only need enough inspiration for it and I believe I can do it one of these days.

Anyway, what you’ll read below–if you can read and comprehend the Filipino language, and if you’re still willing to go on reading–is the short story I wrote for my Filipino subject during my fourth year in college. I honestly don’t know what to think of it except that I laughed hard while reading it just a couple of days ago, albeit the topic is not a laughing matter. So there, I hope you’ll take the time and enjoy reading the piece which this person who merely loves writing had written. 🙂

 

 

———————–

“Sana Lang”

(012408)

 

Umpisa na naman ng araw. At kagaya ng palaging ginagawa ni Madie sa tuwing sisikat ang araw, naka-upo na naman siya sa kung saan nakaharap ang mukha ni Johann, naghihintay na magbukas ang mga mata nito. Wala siyang pakialam kung abutin pa ito ng maghapon sa pagtulog, basta ang mahalaga, siya ang una nitong makikita sa paggising.

Hinawakan niya ang pisngi ng lalaki. Napakahimbing talaga niya matulog. At sa kung pang-ilang beses na na pagkakataon, nalungkot ulit siya. Paano ba niya mapapaalam kay Johann ang nararamdaman niya? Iyon na lang lagi ang nagpapasira ng araw niya. Isang tanong na masakit ulit-ulitin. Isang tanong na napakahirap sagutin.

Nagpatuloy siya sa pag-intay sa paggising ng lalaki. Hanggang sa maya-maya nga’y dahan-dahan ng dumilat ang mga mata nito. Ngumiti ito sa kanya, at sa sandali ring iyon ay nawala ang lungkot na nararamdaman nito kani-kanina lamang at napalitan agad ito ng saya. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit gustong-gusto niya itong nakikitang gumising.

“Magandang umaga,” bati niya sa kakagising lamang na lalaki.

Good morning, Mademoiselle,” nakangiti pa ring sabi ni Johann habang nag-uunat ng katawan. “Iniintay mo na naman ba ‘kong gumising? Pasensiya na ha, ang sakit kasi ng katawan ko kagabi.”

Humiga si Madie sa tabi nito, sabay yakap naman sa kanya ng lalaki. “Ayos lang ‘yon, alam ko naming mahirap ang trabaho mo e.”

“Nakakain ka ba kagabi? Sa sobrang sakit ng katawan ko kagabi, hindi ko na maalala.”

“Oo, nakakain ako, sabay pa nga tayo e. Kaya lang, dahil nga sa masakit ang katawan mo, hindi mo na naubos yung pagkain mo. Hindi mo na rin nahugasan ang mga pinggan, hanggang ngayon tuloy nandon pa rin sa hapag-kainan. Ayos ka na ba? ‘Wag ka kaya munang pumasok ngayon, magpahinga ka muna.”

Lumingon si Johann sa orasan sa dingding at biglang napabalikwas. “Naku, mahuhuli na pala ako sa trabaho,” gulat na gulat nitong sabi. “Sige, Madie, maliligo muna ako ha,” at dali-dali na siyang pumunta sa palikuran.

“Sige,” sagot ni Madie habang bumababa sa kama. “Dahan-dahan ka lang ha, baka madulas ka.”

Sana lang, naiintindihan ni Johann ang bawat sinasabi niya…

Sana lang, hindi lang puro ‘meow’ang lumalabas sa bibig niya…

Sana lang, hindi siya isang pusa…

 

Napakaraming  bagay ang gustong sabihin ni Madie kay Johann. Ngunit nang dahil nga sa kahit kailan ay hinding hindi siya maiintidihan ng huli, nananatili itong mangmang sa mga nararamdaman ng una. Gusto niyang magpasalamat sa lahat-lahat ng ginagawa nito sa kanya. Gusto niyang iparamdam sa kanya kung gaano siya nag-aalala sa tuwing pinipilit niyang magtrabaho kahit na mayroon siyang sakit. At higit sa lahat, gustong-gusto niyang malaman ni Johann na ang paglalambing niya dito ay hindi kagaya ng sa ibang pusa. Naglalambing siya dito hindi sa iyon ang likas na ginagawa ng isang pusa sa amo niya, kundi ginagawa niya iyon dahil baka sa ganoong paraan malaman ni Johann kung gaano niya ito kamahal. Pero kahit ano talagang gawin niya, hindi siya maiintindihan ng amo.

 

Kakatapos lang magbihis ni Johann nang biglang may kumatok sa pintuan ng apartment unit nito.

“Yung kabit,” wiki ni Madie at marahang bumaba sa sofa kung saan niya nililinis ang sarili habang iniintay na matapos si Johann.

Binuksan nung lalaki ang pinto. Tama, yung ‘kabit’ nga, si Megumi, ang nobya ni Johann. Sa isip ni Madie, ang alagang pusa ang asawa at ang nobya, kabit lang.

“Hi, Johann,” masaya nitong pagbati sabay dampi ng labi sa labi ng nobyo. “O, papasok ka pa rin ngayon? Hindi ba sabi mo kagabi masakit ang katawan mo? ‘Nga pala, may dala akong breakfast,” at ibinigay ang supot.

Inabot ng kausap ang bag saka sila pumunta sa hapag-kainan. “Alam mo namang ayaw kong nag-aabsent sa trabaho ‘di ba? Saka hindi na naman masakit ang katawa ko e, ayos na ‘yon.”

Dahan-dahan namang lumapit si Madie kay Johann at marahang hinaplos ang sariling katawan sa binti ng amo.

“Minsan ka lang naman aabsent e.”

Kinalong ni Johann ang pusa na naging dahilan naman upang medyo mapaurong si Megumi. Lagi kasi siya nitong kinakalmot sa tuwing susubukan niyang lumapit dito. Madalas tuloy siyang pumasok sa trabaho na puno ng sugat. Gayon pa man, hindi niya magawang magalit dito sapagkat alam naman niyang pusa ito at likas dito ang mangalmot ng kung sinu-sino at kung anu-ano. Ang hindi lang niya alam ay ayaw nitong makita na magkalapit sila ni Johann at ayaw din nitong hinahawak-hawakan siya ng ibang tao, lalung-lalo na siya.

“Sayang lang ang isang araw na sweldo kung aabsent ako ng dahil lang sa masakit ang katawan ko kagabi,” sagot nito sa nobya habang hinihimas-himas ang pusang kalong-kalong. “Saka, malapit na ‘kong ma-promote, baka mawala pa ‘yon. Sayang naman kung saka-sakali ‘di ba? Para sa’ting dalawa naman ‘to e,” nakangiti pa nitong dagdag sa kausap.

Okay. Sabi mo e.”

“Tara, sa opisina na lang natin kainin ‘tong dala mo, mahuhuli na tayo,” nilapag niya sa sahig ang pusa at kinuha ang supot. “Teka, pagkain nga pala ni Madie.”

Nagmadali siyang kumuha ng pagkain at inilagay sa kaninan ni Madie. Lumapit ito sa alaga at ibinigay ang pagkain. “Pasensya na kung ‘yan pa yung pagkain nung isang araw ha,” paghihingi nito ng paumanhin sa alaga habang hinihimas ang ulo nito. “Hindi na ‘ko nakabili kagabi e. Pero promise, mamaya masarap na’ng pagkain mo.”

“Mahal na mahal mo talaga ‘yang si Madie a,” komento ni Megumi. “Talagang nagsosorry ka pa sa kanya.”

“Oo naman, mahal ko talaga ‘tong si Madie. ‘Di ba Madie?”

Meow.

Natawa ang magnobyo.

“Tara na,” wiki ni Johann at saka tumayo.

At tuluyan na ngang iniwan si Madie ng kanyang asawang naka-akbay pa sa kanyang kabit. Kagaya ng mangilan-ngilang asawa na ayos lang kung sa kabit sa umaga, basta pagdating ng gabi ay sa kanya naman uuwi, ganon din ang nararamdaman niya. Dahil kung sa bagay, wala naman talaga siyang karapatan dito at alam na naman niyang may Megumi na si Johann miski nung una pa lang siyang mapapunta sa lugar na iyon.

 

Photo grabbed from Humor Train

 

Napulot nila Johann at Megumi si Madie. Galing sila sa isang mall noon at inihatid lang ni Johann sa bahay ang kanyang nobya nang mapadaan sila sa isang tambak ng basura at nakarinig sila ng isang munting iyak ng pusa. Awang-awa sila nang makita nila ang itsura ng kuting na itinapon na lang ng may-ari. Madungis ito at mahina ang pangangatawan. At dahil sa sadyang maaawain, nag-alala si Megumi, baka raw mamatay ang kuting kung papabayaan lang nila. Inimungkahi naman ni Johann na alagaan na lang niya ito ngunit napailing ang babae dahil may hika ang kapatid niya at makakasama ang balahibo ng pusa. Kaya sa huli nga’y si Johann ang nag-uwi at nag-alaga sa kanya. Ginawa niya ang lahat para sumigla ang kuting na pinangalanan niyang Mademoiselle. Pinadala niya sa doktor, binilhan ng mahal na pagkain, at itinuring na parang tao. Ilan lamang iyo sa mga ginawa niya na talaga naming ikinatuwa ni Madie. Masaya ang pusa sa lahat ng nagawa para sa kanya ng amo, masaya siya dahil iniligtas ni Johann ang buhay niya. Noong una, pati si Megumi at nag-aalaga sa kanya, lagi itong bumibisita sa bahay ng nobyo para lamang makita ang kalagayan niya. Ngunit nang magsimula na nga siyang mangalmot ay dahan-dahan na itong lumayo sa kanya.

Simula ng mapunta sa apartment unit ni Johann, naging ugali na ni Madie na hintayin sa harapan ng pinto ang kanyang amo sa tuwing magdidilim na dahil alam niyang parating na ito. Pagbukas ni Johann ng pinto at ilaw, paniguradong nakangiti na ito sa kanya at hihimasin ulit nito ang kanyang ulo. Kukumustahin nito ang araw niya sa bahay at magkukwento rin siya ng mga nangyari sa kanya sa labas. Susundan niya sa kahit saan magpunta ang amo sa loob ng bahay para lang marinig ang bawat kwento niya. Mas lalo siyang sumasaya sa tuwing ginagawa niya ito. Pakiramdam niya ay maiintindihan din siya nito kapag sumagot siya.

 

Isang araw, madilim na ay hindi pa dumadating si Johann. Ang tagal na niyang nag-iintay sa harapan ng pinto ngunit wala pa ring kahit na anong palatandaan na parating na ito. Ngunit hindi nasiraan ng loob si Madie, matiyaga pa rin siyang naka-upo at naghihintay.

Hanggang sa dahan-dahan na ngang bumukas ang pinto at ang ilaw. Tumingala siya upang masilayan ang ngiti ng bagong dating ngunit wala ito ngayon. Dire-diretso lang itong pumasok sa bahay at dinaanan lang ang kanyang pusa na matagal na nag-antay sa kanya. Halatang wala ito sa sarili, namumutla at bakas sa mukha niyang mayroon siyang dinaramdam.

Pumunta siya sa palikuran at naghilamos. Pakatapos ay matagal nitong tinitigan ang sarili sa salamin. Lumapit si Madie. Masakit sa kanya ang makitang nagkakaganon ang amo. Gusto niyang itanong kung ano ba ang problema nito ngunit hindi niya alam kung paano ito gagawin.

Lumabas si Johann sa palikuran at kumuha ng tubig sa refrigerator. Dali-dali niyang ininom ang tubig at padabog na inilapag ang baso sa mesa. Naiinis na si Madie, bakit ba wala siyang magawa sa mga oras na ganito?

Nagtungo si Johann sa kwarto at humiga ng nakatakip ang isang braso sa mga mata. Hindi pa rin malaman ni Madie kung ano ba talaga ang problema. Lumapit siya sa amo at sinubukang maglambing, nagbabakasakaling mapasaya niya ito. Walang nangyari. Lalo lang siyang nasaktan sa ginagawa niya dahil hindi siya pinapansin ng taong mahal niya kaya humiga na lang siya sa tabi nito at pinanood na lang ito habang nagmumukmok.

“Para sa kanya lahat ng paghihirap ko,” biglang putol sa katahimikan ni Johann, nakatakip pa rin ang mga mata. “Bakit kailangan pa niyang mawala?”

Itinaas ni Madie ang kanyang ulo. Nagtataka siya kung ano ba ang sinasabi ng amo pero masaya siya dahil sa wakas ay nagsalita na ito.

“Wala na siya. Wala na si Megumi, Madie.”

Magkahalong saya at lungkot ang naramdaman niya. Wala na si Megumi. Ngunit bakit parang pati si Johann at wala na rin? Tumayo siya at lumipat sa dibdib ng amo.

“Pakiramdam ko nasayang lahat ng pinaghirapan ko. Kahit may sakit ako pumapasok ako para lang makapag-ipon para sa aming dalawa. Bakit kailangan pa siyang kunin sa’kin?” Sumisinghot nitong sabi.

“Huwag kang mag-isip ng ganyan,” sagot naman ni Madie.

“Pakiramdam ko nag-iisa na lang ako sa mundo—“

“Hindi, Johann, andito pa rin ako.”

“Hindi ko kaya, mamamatay na rin ako—“

“Huwag mong sabihin ‘yan.”

“Dapat nga mamatay na rin ako—“

“Kung mamamatay ka rin paano na lang ako?”

“Bakit hindi pa Niya ako kinuha—“

Tumayo si Madie at lumabas ng kwarto. Hindi na niya kaya. Naaawa siya kay Johann ngunit mas naaawa na siya sa sarili niya. Gusto niyang kausapin si Johann. Gusto niyang iparamdam na may karamay ito at hindi siya nag-iisa. Gusto niyang sabihin na hindi dapat tumigil ang mundo nito nang dahil lang sa namatayan siya ng mahal sa buhay. Gusto niyang iparating lahat ng gusto niyang sabihin. Pero hindi niya kaya. Hindi sapat ang bawat kilos niya.

Sana lang, naiintindihan ni Johann ang bawat sinasabi niya…

Sana lang, hindi lang puro ‘meow’ ang lumalabas sa bibig niya…

Sana lang, hindi siya isang pusa…

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Foodtografia de Camilla Pt 2

SM Mall of Asia. The first time I heard the name on television, I thought it was some humongous, extravagant, official shopping center of the world’s largest continent—Asia. Well, it is almost, actually.

According to its website, the 407,000-square-meter SM Mall of Asia, or simply MoA, is the Philippines’ largest and the world’s third biggest mall. But Wikipedia says that it is the second in the country, third in Asia, and fourth in the world. It’s confusing which one is true, yet surely, I don’t want to scare people like me who have phobia with numbers, so I won’t bombard this post with digits. But with its vastness, MoA has a lot of space to be more than just a mall, for it is also a tourist spot, and a leisure and entertainment go-to place.

 

Photo grabbed from Wikipedia

 

It was after a few months since its opening in 2006 when I first experienced its hugeness. My family and I just went there for Christmas to check out what everybody and the media were all talking about. When we arrived, we were somewhat dismayed by its size that at the end, we were only able to walk up to one-fourth of the whole mall, then we all decided to go back home. For us, it was just like any other malls, only farther from our place, bigger, and more tiring to roam into.

That was in 2006. I never thought of ever going back in there ’cause, hey, SM Megamall‘s nearer to my home, and though it’s not as gigantic, it is still big enough to house all the shops that have my needs.

But like they say, things change and people can have a change of heart. Since the first quarter of this year, MoA has become my rendezvous with a friend or two. Then I went to its SMX Convention Center just recently for the 33rd Manila International Book Fair (which made me reminisce walking at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre), and I even celebrated my birthday there with my mom and younger brother.

Maybe it’s because I grew mature and I have come to widen my horizon, or maybe I got tired of the malls around my place, or better yet, maybe I finally find it more refreshing and liberating–if that’s the right term–to be in a place where I can choose whether to stroll in open air or in an air-conditioned area than just the fully air-conditioned one. Whatever it is, I have seen MoA in a whole different light.

It is especially nice to walk and hang out at its esplanade during the night when the sun won’t have the luxury of burning one alive anymore and only the cold air can touch a person’s skin (Err… Not really, it is also a place where couples hold hands and cuddle. Please believe me when I say that I don’t do any of that anywhere. I swear! hehehe. Little Miss Defensive in the house, yo!)

Anyway, with a size like that, it is undoubtedly abundant in restaurants of all kinds in every corner. But the things is, irony comes when I tell you that there’s a scarcity in my little photo collection of the food I ate there so far. hehe. Still the same problem with my blog post Foodtografia de Camilla Pt 1. *sigh I’m trying my best to be more vigilant now, though. 🙂

So without further ado, let me present to you six images of the food I happily masticated from four restaurants located in MoA. They may be few, but they are some of the best. 🙂

 

Ranch Style Beef Strips
Holy Cow!

 

New York Cheesecake
Holy Cow!

 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Racks

 

(Some Ribs. I forgot what it’s called)
Racks

 

Tempura Japanese Grill

 

Tanabe Japanese Restaurant

Pucker Up those Healthy Lips :*

It was just in April of this year when I started wearing lipstick.

My officemate, who is a close friend and a long-time wearer of red lipsticks, had convinced us, her lady co-workers, to buy inexpensive lippies from NYX online. At first, I wasn’t interested in joining the craze, thinking my lips are way too dry for it and that wearing one would be very uncomfortable.

But then my friend pointed to NYX Round Lipstick in Indian Pink and said it would look great on me since its light color fits my “demure” image. I considered what she said for a few minutes, then I thought, hey, it’s only 135 pesos, so why not try it for a change.

NYX Round Lipstick in Indian Pink (Photo by Champy Cachola)

So the purchase was made and I got my first. ever. lipstick. Oh boy, it’s kinda embarrassing, but it did look good on me and even on my other colleague who also bought the same shade. It makes one’s face bloom!

The Tale of the Lipstick Addict

That NYX shade became my official lip color for a few months except when I felt like using the NARS lipstick my close friend gave me some time when we transferred to another job.

Then one July night,  a seductive little catalogue arrived home with the letters A, V, O, and N on its cover page. I flipped through its contents and was completely hypnotized. And so, it was then when my love for lipsticks was born. I got two from it, was sated, then I bought another one from MAC. I thought of trying a red shade, but I was afraid it wouldn’t look good on me, so to be safe, I purchased a very affordable one from the local brand Fashion 21, then I bought another from a foreign brand, until voilà! I already have a lipstick collection!

It is true that mothers know best, though. When my mom noticed that I buy lipsticks like I was simply changing clothes, she suggested that I stop because it was getting too impractical. She said that there are other better stuff that I can use my hard-earned cash with. I got her point, and it had sense, and so like your regular obedient child, I took her advice. Whew!

Okay, I confess. It didn’t stop there. Just this month, I bought Avon Ultra Color Rich Brilliance Lipstick in Vermilion on a whim. I have this Avon dealer co-worker who always brings her catalogue to the office, and I saw this other officemate deciding on what to buy, then BOOM, I guess you know what happened next. I told it to my mom, and as she was about to say something, I quickly interjected that it was only 199 pesos, and that I promise that this time around, it’s really, really, really, really, reeeeaaaalllllyyyy the last. Hehe. Really now… >.<

Taking Good Care of Your Lips

With dry lips and a great lip color come great responsibility (Whoa. Who would’ve thought it would be just like being Spiderman? O_o).

Lips should be kept healthy so you can confidently pout like this! Just kidding. >.< Next photo please…

As I said above, I wasn’t into lippies before because I have dry lips (Along with my dry hair, dry skin, and dry eyes. Dry everything.). So just imagine yourself in my shoes. You’re on your way to work and you’re wearing a noticeable fuchsia pink lipstick. You’re so happy about it, but after a while, you feel your lips are getting dry. You’re tempted to lick it but doing so will erase what’s on so you act like a martyr who has mastered the art of self-control for the sake of beauty.

Then there comes a cute guy from the opposite direction and he is kind of looking at you. He is your type so you smile at him until you suddenly realize that he may be looking at the horror that is your now chapped fuchsia pink-colored lips. So what happens next is you look away in shame. Not a very good sight for him, not a very good sight, indeed. Tsk tsk. And you just ruined that potential love affair before it even started. (Note: This is purely fictional, okay? There’s no way I can smile to the guy I like like that. 😛 ) Fantastic. Simply fantastic.

Devastated, you mull over stopping painting your lips ’cause it’s turning into a discomfort. Yet just like anything else, once you start with it, you can never live without it ever again. So you need another option for this little challenge.

But what may it be? Thanks to the pieces of information I got all over the Internet, I now know. If you’re also a lipstick wearer but have lips that are always dehydrated, you may want to continue reading for useful tips on how to take care of your lips without causing you a fortune.

Aside from the dry lips itself, there are lipsticks which formulas are very drying and hot on the lips like that one I got from Shiseido. So add those two up and you get double pain in the neck. The solution? Simply put lip balm first about three minutes before you apply your lipstick. That way, it wouldn’t only moisturize your lips, it’ll also make it shimmery (That is, if you’re into that kind of lips).

Then before going to bed every night, always put petroleum jelly on and leave it overnight to achieve that soft duckface-worthy lips.

… Or like this! The “sexy” way, if it can be called that. hahaha This is getting too shameful, this blog entry is turning into my vanity pout page. :’) My apologies. Last photo please…

But applying those on your lips isn’t enough, for just like the skin all over your body, your lips should be stripped off of the dead skin cells to expose those healthy live ones. There are several simple ways to exfoliate the lips:

1. Toothbrush. After brushing your teeth, put a small amount of toothpaste, petroleum jelly, or nothing at all on your toothbrush, and gently rub it on your lips in circular motions. Do this for one to two minutes, then put petroleum jelly to moisturize your lips afterward.

Among the exfoliation methods, this is the only one that I do since it promotes no bother. I brush my teeth thrice a day with the use of a toothbrush and toothpaste (just like everybody else), so the only extra stuff that’s needed is another few minutes to my brushing time, that’s all. There’s no way I would forget it or I would be lazy ’cause all the essentials are with me thrice a day. 😀

2. Sugar. Mix sugar with olive oil or petroleum jelly. Use it as a scrub and gently rub it to your lips in circular motions using your fingertips. After rinsing off with warm water, don’t forget to put petroleum jelly on your lips.

3. Baking Soda. Mix baking soda with water until it resembles a paste. Put it on your lips, then with the use of a toothbrush or your bare fingertips, rub it gently in circular motions for a few minutes, then rinse it off with water. To moisturize your lips, do not forget to apply petroleum jelly.

4. Honey and Sugar. Make a scrub of honey and sugar by mixing both and applying it to your lips, again, in circular motions. Let it stay on for a few minutes, then rinse it off with water. Honey is known to be a natural moisturizer, so by using this method, you won’t need to apply petroleum jelly anymore.

So those are the four simple and budget-friendly steps to exfoliate the lips. Whatever method you choose, as long as it’ll get rid of the dead skin on your lips, go, go, go, I support you! haha.

Serious mode. Of course, a duckface is more fun and better done with a close friend who has equally healthy lips. Meet Mao, the person who persuaded me to wear lippy. 🙂 (Photo by Champy Cachola)

Oh, I almost forgot. Wearing lipstick did something good to me aside from the aesthetics. It stopped me from licking my lips whenever I feel like its very dry. Did you know that saliva evaporates fast making your lips drier than before you lick it? If you don’t, well now you know. That’s all. Hope this entry helped you if you have the same problem as mine. 🙂

It’s Raining Blessings Everyday!

Last week, I sent an SMS to my high-school friend greeting her a happy birthday and telling her–with much conviction–that God will surely bless her more in the new year added to her life.

After a few hours, she replied with the usual thanks, and that she’s looking forward to that “I know God will bless you more” part. I smiled with positivity upon reading it, then suddenly, I thought…

Photo grabbed from Flickr

Heeeeeeeyyyyy…  We’re lavished with blessings everyday! 🙂

From the moment we wake up, take a bath, eat our breakfast, say goodbye to the people at home (if we live with our family or anybody else), commute to work, let the sun touch our skin, meet and mingle with our colleagues (or classmates for those still in school), do our tasks in the office or at school, eat lunch, eat snack, reach the end of our shift, commute back home, pass by people–strangers or not–with equally busy lives, greet and catch up with people at home, eat dinner, watch TV, check our Facebook accounts,  get a bit unlucky with some of the occurrences along our daily routine, to the time we say goodnight, turn off the lights, and go to sleep… These are all blessings from God!

To most, those may not be godsend anymore because doing them every single day have made them too monotonous. But if we really think about it, not everybody is given the gift of next day, which means there are less fortunate ones who can never be able to do those everyday habits again.

As Panic At The Disco‘s Oh Glory song goes, “If I wake in the morning, I only need two more miracles to be a saint…” It’s true. To be able to see the daylight once more is indeed a marvel. Just imagine how many people sleep at night with carefully-listed plans for tomorrow in mind, but then, never able to fulfill them because their time have expired. And there are people who still wake up, but then after a few hours, their lives turn unexpectedly, and they can no longer function the same way they do.

So to us who still have the chance to greet the world a happy morning again and again, let us never take those unacknowledged blessings from the Lord for granted. Let us also never stop from thanking Him for those ’cause we never know when the last time we’ll be able to do them.

We are very fortunate. We really are. There may be times when our regular days are disturbed by troubles–lots of troubles–and it seems like there’s no way out. But remember, God doesn’t put those trials just to punish us. Problems come to us to teach us and mold us into the stronger and wiser persons whom He meant for us to be. That’s another great blessing, right?

So let us not let ennui take over us and instead, look at the brighter side. Blessings are abundantly presented to us each day, we just have to search at the right places and have the right frame of mind.

 

P.S. A simple reply of appreciation that led to this blog entry. Oh, it’s okay if you don’t mind me, and it’s okay if you do. It’s just me with overflowing optimism and renewed faith in God. :3

God bless!

 

 

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UPDATE (October 21, 2012):
I just remembered this quote I read from Jostein Gaarder’s The Solitaire Mystery:

How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.

Deboned Goodness: Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata

A few months have passed, but I can still remember that moment when I first had the taste of something sooooooooooooo delectable, and so, so worth raving about.

I am talking about Serye‘s Boneless Crispy Pata. If you look at the photo below, the presentation alone would make your mouth water in anticipation, and that’s even in person. So just imagine when it finally touches your taste buds. Mmmm…

Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata at 130 pesos per 100 grams

Discovering the Goodness

Before anything else, let me first tell how I came to learn about the restaurant.

Serye was introduced to me by a close friend and office mate who went eating at its Eastwood branch with two colleagues one lunch break. As a person who likes sharing everything to me, she quickly told me she wanted to make me try its offerings especially the Boneless Crispy Pata, and so she went on talking about it for a few days until at last, our plan to eat together there materialized.

I think we just got our salaries when we headed to the same branch (it’s very near our office) with one of the co-workers she went with her first time. So both of us decided to treat this office mate, the company’s admin head, because she has been really nice to us even if she is just a new acquaintance.

It was around 12nn so the restaurant was full and we waited a few minutes before we got our table. The place was nice and cozy and the crew was really accommodating, but waiting for the food was taking forever, or maybe we were just running out of time since we only had an hour. Setting that aside though, once the food we ordered were already on our table, I forgot that I waited (one of my greatest pet peeves is waiting) and instead, pure satisfaction took over me that by the time we went out of the place, it was my turn to rave about it ceaselessly and enthusiastically to my friends and family.

Inside Serye, Eastwood branch

The Taste of Goodness

We ordered two viands, the Boneless Crispy Pata and Sinigang na Bangus Belly (Bangus is milkfish in English). At 215 pesos per order, the latter is equally superb, only that I think there was too little bangus in it that it seemed like it was a Sinigang na Gulay (Gulay is vegetable in English.), if such food exists. It was delicious that I didn’t find myself hoping there was a fish sauce nearby, and the slices of fish took no fuss in chewing because they didn’t have even a single bone when it’s known to have lots of it, but hey, it is really, really the former that I want to focus on in this post.

Serye’s Sinigang na Gulay… Er… I mean, Sinigang na Bangus Belly at 215 pesos

So what is a Crispy Pata? (It’s so off when the photo above this is not what I’m talking about. hehe Please forgive it. ‘^_^)

Crispy Pata is a Filipino dish made of a pig’s trotter, boiled in salted water, vinegar, and onions (or so my mother said), then deep-fried making its skin oh-so crunchy. When eating, it is dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, sliced onion, chopped garlic, green chili pepper, pepper, and a little bit of sugar for added flavor.

When I was a kid, I remember how everyone would devour it once placed on the table like not doing so would leave them with nothing during family reunions. And now, I was able to have a taste of Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata. As the name would suggest, it is deboned, therefore, there’s no hassle in consuming it, ’cause all you have to do is chew and chew and chew, and indulge your taste buds and tummy. Now that’s total pampering for you!

It is also sliced to the right thickness for more ease in eating, and is cooked perfectly, so expect juicy meat meets crispy skin as you put a bite size in your mouth. It costs 130 pesos per 100 grams, or 600+ pesos for a small size (like on that first photo above) that’s good for three people. Of course, Serye also serves the regular Crispy Pata for a cheaper price of 100 pesos per 100 grams, but with the boneless one around, I believe it will be just a second option.

Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata is the restaurant’s newest bestseller and is one of the dishes, along with the Kare-Kare, that won the Sooo Pinoy, The Search for the Ultimate Pinoy Dish award.

The Goodness that is Serye

Serye not only offers Filipino dishes, but also cakes, pasteries, and coffee.

A little trivia about Serye: The name of the restaurant is short and simple, but behind it is a total creativity and a hidden message. Serye is an anagram of the owner’s surname, Reyes, since the menu was based on the recipes of the Reyes family matriarch, Engracia Cruz Reyes (I suggest you click the link before this, she was totally amazing). Aside from that, the word serye, or series in English, signifies the restaurant’s mission, which is “to carry on the family’s culinary tradition.” As a person who’s in love with words, I find this totally awesome.

Currently, Serye has three branches in QC Memorial Circle (924.3411 / 426.2693 / 0921.8489149), in Santana Grove, Sucat (825.4691 / 826.9317 / 0915.2276042), and at Eastwood City (911.2334 / 709.3712 / 0921.3708648). Visit one of them now and be filled with real goodness!

P.S. Yes, I am a Reyes but no, I’m not related to these Reyeses, though I have joked that my father owns it and I was assigned to manage the Eastwood branch. hehe 🙂

“Late Blossom”: Love is Ageless, it Knows No Limit

Photo grabbed from AsianWiki

Though your hair may already be graying, your skin sagging, and wrinkles long been forming on your face, it can never be too late for true love.

Late Blossom (Keudaereul Saranghamnida ; 그대를 사랑합니다), a 2011 South Korean indie film and one of the featured films at the recent 2012 Korean Film Festival in the Philippines, revolves around the lives of four old people whose ages do not limit their abilities to love and be loved. 

 

The Story

Kim Man-Suk (Lee Soon-Jae), a milk delivery guy that uses his motorbike, is a grumpy old widower on the outside but is really soft and sweet on the inside, while Ms Song (Yun So-Jeong), a scrap paper collector and seller, is a soft-spoken old woman who is alone almost all her life. They run into each other before dawn a few times and eventually, develop a strong affection for each other.

Meanwhile, Jang Kun-Bong (Song Jae-Ho), the neighborhood parking lot manager, and Jo Soon-Yi (Kim Soo-Mi), who has Alzheimer’s disease, are a married couple who once had their three children living with them but, naturally, as they started having their own lives, left the couple living alone yet contented together.

The two couples journeyed through old age accompanied by each other’s love and new-found friendship.

Just like what I said in my blog entry, All Hail the Hallyu Wave! (2012 Korean Film Fest)Late Blossom is very touching and was worth more than the every tissue I pulled out of my pack during its screening in the film fest. I am not the emotional type, but I cried while watching the film, when my friends and I were talking about it right after seeing it, when I retold its story to my sister, and even when I remembered some of its scenes while I was on my way to work. The film was that amazing in pushing the right buttons of its audience.

And how can it fail to be great when each role, whether major or minor, was played by an actor who’s expert in his or her field, plus the fact that the South Korean film industry has a seemingly effortless ability to make everyone cry with just the right facial expressions, words, settings, and angling of the scenes. With that, it is not surprising when it became a box office hit in its home origin.

 

Thoughts, Sentiments

(Warning: Spoiler Alert)

“That’s how I wanted to grow old,” Ms Song murmurs as Jang Kun-Bong slowly walks away, relieved and thankful, while carrying his wife on his back. Already late for work, the old man accidentally leaves their home’s gate unlocked which enables his wife to go out and wander around the village, oblivious of how she’ll go back. Upon learning about this horror, Kun-Bong then spends the next hours running and shouting around the neighborhood, looking for the love of his life. When he finds her walking with Ms Song and Kim Man-Suk, he runs toward her, very much worried, and holds her tightly. This scene, filled with strong emotions, is when one can learn how powerful love is, that it can incessantly work its magic despite oldness and the other half’s shortcomings.

The enormously worried Jang Kun-bong holds his wife tightly when he finally finds her. (Screencap from Late Blossom)

Ms Song’s sentiment may be the reason the movie gets a sobbing crowd. Or at least in my case. Everybody wants to grow old with someone who shares the same passionate feeling as ours, and whose only condition in perpetually loving you is just you being at their side through good times and bad times. Just that. It doesn’t matter if you’re not able to give as long as you’re simply there, breathing the same air they breathe, and occupying the same space that they do. So just imagine that thought, coupled up with a film that shows exactly that kind of unending love rolling right before your eyes, and you’ll surely be fumbling through the things in your bag, hoping you can finally get a hold of your tissue. I’m speaking based on experience, yes.

Then as though the tears that already flowed out of your eyes aren’t enough, the film continues and later on, the viewers are presented with a weeping old man on the verge of committing suicide with his wife. He can’t take the fact that due to a severe disease, death will soon be snatching his beloved away from him. “Goodbye. I’m a timid old man. I couldn’t go on without you. So hold on to my hand. Let’s find each other again,” the married old man is saying behind the camera, as the scene zooms out showing the now departed couple, peacefully holding each other’s hand.

Again, everybody wants something like that. Who doesn’t? There’s a realest of the real love that even death can’t completely break into two. It’s somewhere out there, and the only thing you can do is wish that someday you’ll be one of the fewest lucky winners of that kind of love. But what are the chances? That is the question.

Like teenagers. Grumpy but sweet Kim Man-Suk and soft-spoken Ms Song on a date. 🙂 (Screencap from Late Blossom)

Then if sweet love exists, there’s also a bittersweet one that no matter how you admire each other, you have to willingly let go of the relationship right away out of fear for possible heartaches and sorrows.

While walking home from the late married couple’s wake, Ms Song tells Kim Man-Suk that she’s going back to her hometown ’cause due to age, both of them will both depart from the world soon, and she won’t be able to take it if the latter goes first. As a person who has been lonely almost all her life, she thinks it’s better to stop what they share right away than wait for that moment to come. Upset by what he just heard, old Man-Suk walks out, leaving behind the authentic, black leather gloves which the old woman gave her, but comes back immediately when he finally comprehends Ms Song’s sentiments. He agrees about the set up but asks the woman if they can meet each other before they both pass away. At the end, Man-Suk leaves the world looking elated while Ms Song hears the familiar sound of Man-Suk’s motorbike, opens the door, and finds him outside, flashing her a smile and inviting her for a ride. They’re finally reunited and nothing can hold back their happiness together anymore.

I read before that if a man truly loves a woman, he will let her go. Maybe that’s it, maybe that’s it. And that form of sacrifice is indeed very touching.

 

How about you, have you watched Late Blossom? Did you cry as much as I do? If so, what do you think is the reason it was able to conjure so much emotion from you? 🙂