So I've been recently learning how to cook. Note that I grew up cooking nothing more than hotdogs in a microwave oven and the occasional hotdogs on grill. I'm also a veteran in making s'mores at camp or nights out. 

But lately I found myself making my own (perfect!) sunny side up eggs when I get home late and everyone else would be sleeping. I throw in a slice of bread seared on a pan with some herbs and butter and Spanish sardines fried in their own oil straight from the jar. That would be my version of a perfect dinner stamped with my signature. 

But I'm looking for some progress. 

Enter The Fat Kid Inside demo videos and Erwan Heussaff. And then some Jamie "Naked Chef" Oliver, Junior Masterchef episodes and shows of my former pen pal, Bobby Flay (Why? It's a long story). 

I'm also reading "Just Three Ingredients" by Jenny White with simple encyclopedia-like pages on the basic ingredients, kitchen tools and minimalist cooking techniques. I find it the perfect book to have for dumber-than-dumb beginner cooks. 

I got the interest going as I was made to cover several restaurants and interview some awesome chefs while pretending I actually know what I'm asking and writing. I think I'll be covering less in the food beat now that we have a full-time lifestyle writer but I've to be ready. What if Mario Batalli comes over in Manila and our writer gets sick? Someone has to rise to the occasion. Ehem. 

But my main reason is how inspired I am by people who know their way around the kitchen and food. A wise man by the name of Saint Josemaria Escriva is perhaps one of the first people to have lived who believed those who serve and make the home a happier place have a job as dignified as a CEO's.

Also, imagine trying to create an artistic, excellent meal for hours and it will only be consumed in 15 minutes! It's somehow like writing, which would take hours and even days and months (and a decade, gasp~) to put together. It will only be read by someone for one whole hour or less. Ouch!

An untitled painting of a newborn child I spotted while in one of my regular walk around art galleries in Ortigas yesterday.

I hope and pray the RH Law will be declared invalid tomorrow. Otherwise, expect pro-life groups to take the battle in other levels during its implementation. 

And it was awesome. 

I had to suspend all expectations to appreciate the Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival for what it is. People going around, bobbing their heads as if gestured by the golden cat perched on cabs' dashboards. Pomelo scent filled the air, blown from the fog machine from the stage. I only spotted one girl wearing jeans and t-shirt: Me.

And now to share my discoveries: 

1. The art and talent of Mishka Adams (thank God she's back!) 

It was a bit awkward to be standing in front of the stage and waiting so eagerly for half an hour while she and sound engineers try so hard to perfect the volume of the microphones assigned to her instrument. But I had been waiting for that moment since college. 

Alas I did not have a courage to head backstage to meet her for an interview. I was so satisfied fangirling from the mosh pit. 

2. Eping, a Hanunuo Mangyan woman who so openly spoke with us about the plight and joys of her tribe. 


Yes, they are less fortunate than most of us economically speaking. But there are more of us, too, who perhaps love culture way less than they do. 

3. Outdoor installation art by the bulk. 

At Malasimbo, there is an abundance of  contemporary works. You name them: d'Aboville, Katigbak, New, De Guia, Arellano, etc. It's one glorious, grassy gallery!

4. This Mangyan guy:

Who practices everyday to create music from guava leaves. 

5. Poi. 

It's not a sport, not a talent, not even a body building practice. It's a dance, but still not exactly.

"It's a kind of flow," my bugang instructor Hans (in yellow shirt) said. Oh-kay. 

6. Picture-perfect Puerto Galera and its sand and its shore and its long, winding roads without light at night. (Electricity is expensive, the mayor told me.)

It's unfortunate that the once favorite tourist destination is now tainted by the rep of its red district, bawdy night life and availability of marijuana and illegal drugs.

Local government should consider battling these forces decisively if they want to make serious money for the people from a renewed boom in tourist numbers coming in for cheap, family-friendly getaways. 


- Yellow piggy bank. Each of us in the newsroom/office has a piggy bank for rainy days. I'm probably the only one who doesn't put anything there as I like to keep my coins. But I keep the coin bank on my desk to remind me to be frugal.

- I have a photo of some people in our team pinned here while we were at lunch at last year's IMMAP Summit. 

- Instant coffee in a Foxs' candies can to ward off temptations to run to pricey Starbucks for caffeine. But we do have unli brewed coffee to power our tight days. 

- A planner, alcohol spray, coffee mug, and a water bottle which doubles as a tea container. 

- Lenovo laptop without which I can't work, obviously, since I'm a writer. It contains my own fully customized dashboards with monitoring tools, social media publishing platforms, and rich library of stock editorial photos I personally collected (and labelled accordingly with copyright licenses). 

- A vintage cardboard cellphone stand that probably only I have in the entire universe. Okay, maybe not. But it was given to me from a box of garbage sale-worthy goodies from the family of a known tycoon. Pretty rare find. 

- An "I'm silently correcting your grammar" magnetic pin from my good friend Jali staying in Washington DC. She got it from Newseum.

- A "Love your browser" mobile phone sleeve from a Catholic-Indonesian acquaintance from Opera. 

- A surfboard magnetic pin from my co-worker Emjae. 

And finally ...

- A photo of Saint Joseph holding the baby Jesus with an aspiration "Assist me in my daily tasks."

Our desks, the venue of human and spiritual growth. 

Hey, imaginary readers! I'm kinda back to blogging since I discovered there is a convenient Blogger iPhone app I can easily use to post quick quote-unquote cultural finds anywhere I find myself half-bored and somewhat inspired. 

Recently, I found myself walking around Alabang. More on walking around and being lost at "Filinvest City" actually, since it's such an alien territory to me. And I somehow found myself trying to find a decent but not so pricey place to take lunch at Westgate--a commercial center sleepy during daytime but bustling in the evening (by the looks of it).

Tucked in between two relatively known dining places Alba and Zong is this little restaurant called Whistlestop.

By now, costumers must be tired of any American-inspired resto looking like a ripoff of Friday's with the vintage-looking design and decors and reference to the heydays of Hollywood.

Whistlestop, however, is unique as it is true to its name. It's inspired by cross-state travel in America featuring a vintage phone booth and lamp post at its doorway.

Old film cameras hang by the wall and 70s-type luggages line the window. A steel luggage is even stuck on the washroom wall over the sink with a mirror. 

So let's talk about the food, the food. 
Price range P150-P300 per head. Must try is a rich soup of egg, veggies, sotanghon, chicken and squid ball called Steamboat. There are also classic American fusion dishes such as honey bourbon chicken and sizzling buttered corn on the menu.

Hello to you unseen, unknown, (maybe also imaginary) blog readers!

I'm taking a break from activities here in northern Luzon to blog about a near-encounter with National Artist Benedicto Cabrera a few months ago during the height of the grounding of a American warship in Tubbataha Reef.

I've mentioned before that I'm uncomfortable about the idea of bringing art "down" to make it accessible to pedestrians by displaying them in commercial establishments. Still, it's a joy to live in Ortigas where malls that feature some art exhibits are just a few blocks away from my house that I can take a couple of hours or so skipping from one display to another, from mall to mall, on a free weekend afternoon.

So back to BenCab, I saw him one day being interviewed in Megamall Atrium as his works of birds are displayed around. Being a reporter myself, I wanted to approach him for ambush questions but I hesitated. While I didn't feel like working at that time, I also didn't bring witty questions to throw at him, so I abandoned my ambition of being up close with a great or risk being labeled incompetent by a popular stranger.

So I just looked around, and saw these:

'Green-footed Booby with Juvenile' by Bencab .Watercolor on handmade paper 2012 13" x 18"

'Sunset at Tubbataha' by BenCab (detail). Watercolor on handmade paper 2012 18" x 13"

The exhibit did not carry originals, of course, but the pieces did catch the attention of many passers-by just looking for a cheap buffet offering or looking to head to  the uppermost floor to attend Mass. Subtly vibrant and with a vintage color scheme, BenCab's Birds of Tubbataha series show his masterful use of the tough practice of watercolor.

The Philippine Star's Igan D'Bayan writes: "BenCab painted the watercolors in Baguio, based on his own photographs. None were done on the spot. The paper he used is a very special handmade paper we bought in Moulin de Larroque, a 13th-century paper mill in the village of Couze, in the Dordogne region in France."

Since I'm nearer Baguio this time, maybe I can finally take a peek at BenCab's museum? Let's see. Maybe tomorrow.

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