Saturday, June 27, 2009

Swine Flu tsk tsk

More than anything, this “swine flu” or the A(H1N1) is making us really blunt and rude to each other. Automatically, we become racists to Americans and Mexicans. We worry so much about catching flu that we have thrown our etiquette out the window.

With the recent “scare” of The Flu, I have emailed an American acquaintance if he’s got A(H1N1), if he or his Mexican friend has gotten sick lately because I caught flu a few days after I met them. In short, I was accusing them of making me sick; but then again, I couldn’t risk it. I felt a tad bit of sarcasm from his reply, saying that if they were to get flu, they might have gotten it from us! Tsk.

During my birthday party. I invited some of my Couchsurfing friends over, including 2 foreign friends, a Spanish guy and an Australian guy. The next day, a local friend of mine caught flu and texted me if any of my foreign friend is sick or anything haha. I told them that both of my foreign friends are locals in the Philippines. Then she asked if any of them were out of the country recently? Then I remembered that my Aussie friend just came back from Thailand, so I had to clarify things with him to reassure my friend that she doesn’t have H1N1 or at least she didn't get it from my friends hehe.

Another friend of mine also shared a story with me. She recently went to Shanghai and travelled with an office mate. Let’s just say that her friend is a bit worried about catching the h1n1 herself and so it sort of dampened the mood of travelling. When they came back, the officemate caught a flu, and the first thing she told my friend the next day they saw each other after the trip was: I think I caught h1n1 in Shanghai; leaving my friend feeling as though she was being blamed for her sickness since she was the one who invited her to go travel. Tsk.

Recently I was listening to the radio, the DJ was saying that after the h1n1 scare, he found himself with flu and did self-quarantine just to make sure; so that made him miss work for a few days and when he finally got well with some sniffles left, he went back to work. He saw an office mate whom he’s never talked to before said to him “don’t talk to me!” while covering her mouth and nose!!! And he felt so discriminated, as though he’s someone who’s got leprosy or something, like the stories in the Bible; and so quickly he responded: NEVER DID, NEVER WILL. Tsk.

I remember a twitt by a Hollywood actor (I don’t remember who) that said: 20 deaths of swine flu and everyone’s wearing a mask, 20 years of AIDS and still not everyone’s using condom! Haha how true.

The thing is about h1n1 is that it’s curable; everyone’s so freaking scared about it only because the newspapers hype it up too much! Big newspapers has resorted to tabloid-like headlines just to make the boring news exciting (or scary): FIRST FLU DEATH REPORTED IN RP; then when you read the fine print, you find out the person who died had existing disease but her immune system was just weakened by the flu. Tsk.

Posting of photos of people in masks. Tsk.

The education board mandates suspension of 10 days classes if a case of h1n1 has been found, it’s just too much precaution for a curable disease, now all the students are delayed in their lesson plan, resorting to attending classes on Saturdays, extending their school year or shortening their vacation. Tsk.

Lighten up!

Monday, June 22, 2009

My 26th Birthday!

I just love celebrating my birthday. I recently threw a surprise birthday party for myself last Saturday. I invited 40 something of my closest friends from all sectors of my life: the Mabuhay Tour Guides, kindergarten-elementary school, high school, college friends, and Couchsurfing friends. It is so fun to just be surrounded by people you want to see.

I got catering from a company called Sweet Inspirations ( They have a Mongolian Barbeque catering which you order per head, and then its arranged as a buffet then you get the ingredients you want like rice or vermicelli, pork or squid, vegetables or tofu; then you mix all the seasoning to your liking. You then give the bowl to the waiter then they will cook it for you Mongolian style then voila! I saw my guests were very intrigued by the type of catering I had, it was very interactive and kind of fun that you get to decide what to put into your rice bowl, and best of all, it really was delicious.


Later part of the night, my Spanish friend, Isma, prepared a game for the party; We dubbed it the national game of Spain. Haha. He bought a loaf of bread and he challenged anyone to eat a slice in 1 minute without drinking water. The winner gets P100 from Isma and the loser gives me P100. Entertainment and money! It’s the best game ever! Haha. Vangie, Stanley, Dustin and Melissa all dared to eat a slice of bread in a minute, they all lost! That only means I got P400 that night! Haha but Isma did lose a hundred to Andy! Lol.


A group of my friends were singing the karaoke, a table was playing poker which later on turned into the Monkey-Monkey game and the loser would have to have their face drawn on with a lipstick. It was so fun because I get to do all the drawing! My friends were all having fun (hopefully)! Booze kept coming in also with the guests, Absolut (thanks Nicky), Soju from Ronnie, Cuervo from Blossom, Lambanog from Dennis, jello shots from Beth; and how can I forget, all those yummy chocolate cakes thanks Stef and Erick, Michelle; Mango cake from Mon and Mercy; and of course the heavenly Tiramisu by Jordan (who is by the way, the best person ever!) lol.


Towards the later part of the night when more people were going home, Andy wanted me to go to Embassy with him. I swear I got some sort of back problem so I said I can’t go anymore, I feel like such a wet blanket especially when Andy rarely expresses what he wants and I felt really sorry. But then my friend Ronnie was just the life saver. He acted as my DJ for the night, spinning the coolest music for us. We turned off the lights and started dancing; but what really set the mood was that my good friend Zara (Pakshet) brought her LCD projector with her and projected the screen of the computer onto the wall with swirling colors and everything! We couldn’t be at the Embassy but they sure brought the Embassy to the house.


When we were all pooped from all that dancing, Pakshet gave me a surprise slideshow! It was the sweetest thing. I’ve never had anyone done a slideshow for me before, I felt really special, and it was a really nice gift. *sniff* haha

All in all, it was a great night. This is how I always want to celebrate my birthday, celebrate it with people who are close to me and just having fun!

Friday, June 12, 2009

One of the best decisions of my life!

Do you know the feeling when you’re just REALLY SATISFIED with a decision you’ve made, and for days you just keep thinking back, and you’re like, I AM SO GLAD I DID THIS! Well, i recently did somthing that am SOOOOO GLAD that i did. I had my eyebrows tattooed!

I was born with really thin eyebrows, I got it from my mom. I wake up in the morning, take a shower, put my clothes on, and every single morning, ugh! i get so tired of putting on eyebrows. It takes time, and there are days that i call "bad eyebrow days", and no matter how many times you draw and redraw them, they’re just uneven! So you will just have to go out into the world with uneven eyebrows just because you're late for work. Holler if you know what i mean.

I remember that momentus day that I finally got sick of being born without eyebrows. I was in Boracay, i was all made up when i walked to the beach, then i went into the water, and then i come up, !@#$%^&* I WAS BROW-LESS AGAIN!

I come home from Bora with vengeance. I told my sister to book me with Annie Young in Robinson’s Galleria. I just wanted to get it over with. I just want to have a normal life. I want to wake up and not think about my eyebrows. I want to not worry about the rain or sweat that might cut my eyebrows in half. I wanna be able to scratch my forehead when it’s itchy. I just want to be carefree!

Now... i am!

It really is the best decision ever. Now i wake up in the morning, i wash my face and i put on face powder, then i’m ready to go. If you’re on the verge of deciding on getting a cosmetic tattoo, i tell you, go get it. I will not vouch for other companies but Annie Young is definitely the best. This is not a paid advertisement, I am just a really really satisfied customer.

Annie Young

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

PaHiYaS fEsTiVaL

The first time I learned about Pahiyas festival was when I was probably 13 years old; I was watching the Discovery Channel, the Lonely Planet TV show. The travellers were in Lucban, Quezon, 4 hrs south of Manila by bus. The festival amazed me and I remember thinking, “one day, I will be there!”

The Pahiyas Festival is on every 15th of May. It is a festival of the farmers thanking their patron saint San Isidro (but ritual actually started even before the Spaniards came). On May 15th the farmers would bring their harvests to the church and have the priest bless them, but since there were so many patrons the priest asked them to just lay it down in front of their houses and the he would just go around and bless it; little did they know that the priest actually sparked the creative fire inside each Filipino.

I was so excited to have been accepted to surf the couch of a local in Lucban! Mark Salvatus and his family were such gracious hosts which reflect so much the local culture of people from Quezon. Mark’s late grandfather was a local historian who was actually the person who coined the term “Pahiyas”! Amazing.

Noam, an Israeli friend of mine travelled with me to Quezon, we took the Sta. Cruz bus in the Araneta Center Terminal in Cubao at 7AM. It was a good bus with working air conditioning and comfy chairs. The travel took around 4 hours, with 1 bathroom break. After which we had to take a 45 minute jeep to go to Lucban.

When we arrived, we were so excited to see that the houses were just starting to decorate. Bamboo everywhere, hammering sounds here and there. You’d notice that some actually repainted their house to neon orange or green just so the house would go with their decoration. There is the of course, ever famous Kiping. It’s like our interpretation of the Mexican Taco only that it’s made from pulverized rice. They would use a giant leaf, kabal, as a mould and multicolorize them with food coloring. Everything I see was so pleasing to the eye. The colors spelled HAPPY. Everyone was smiling and ever happy.

It was such a great idea to go a day earlier before the event; this is how I really got into being a local. I helped out Mark’s house in decorating, but when we got to their house they obviously have already poured weeks of work into it, and yet there are still so much to do! Everything was so grand, so artistic, AMAZING. I haven’t stopped smiling since I got to Lucban.

This was actually my first time to attend a true-blue Filipino fiesta. I’ve heard people talk about it before, how it’s really festive and people will invite you to their houses to eat… it was as they said it will be. Coming from the city, I did not understand the idea of inviting strangers to your house to celebrate with you. It was just an idea I couldn’t grasp; but then, it’s true, it really is being done. Feast was in every home that day. One thing about the Philippines is that, there is no such thing as idle time. Time is classified only into 2:

1 – time to do something
2 – time to eat
Needless to say, I pigged out there.

Noam and I quickly left our bags in the house and started wandering around town. I loved the feeling of small towns. The center was the big church, and Mark lived just beside it, so I would never get lost. Even if I have the worst sense of direction in this world, I would just need to ask where the church is and I’m home.
Of course, being in Lucban, you have to try the Pancit Habhab. Habhab is the word for the way you eat the pansit: on a banana leaf on your palm without utensils what so ever, slurp it away!

It was time to help out, there was half a day left and my host family were still not done in the decorations! Noam and I helped install some tropical flowers; painted some wood panels; designed the panel with crushed corn; hang the rice grains onto the “chandeliers”; thread tomatoes into wires… nothing too complicated that we might mess up. It was 12:00MN and I was exhausted, but Mark’s family was still at it. They stayed up the whole night finishing the installation of the works of art into the fa├žade of their house.

The next morning, we were all awakened by the parade. There were 6 of us sharing a room, all but 2 were Couchsurfers. We were all feeling refreshed and as we went down to their living room… it was empty! Every single piece has been installed. No duck was to be found, no more leftover kipings, just furniture. I see zombies walking resembled Mark and his brothers, they haven’t slept at all! The dedication and commitment was incredible.

We went out and saw a sea of people taking photos in front of this masterpiece of a house. It was all so surreal. It’s finished! Some elements looked really familiar for it has been on the couch since we arrived; now it’s where it’s supposed to be. You will be overwhelmed by the details, how each bean was arranged accordingly. As they say, picture paints a thousand words.

(photo by EAZYtraveller)

I felt really proud to have been part of it, even though it was just for a few hours. I pretty much stayed indoors after I went around taking photos in other houses. Thankfully the sun was shining that day (it has been raining the day before). The streets were crowded, people gawking and posing, buying souvenirs; the ambiance was fascinating. We spent the day hanging out in the house, like a typical Filipino family, drinking rum and singing the karaoke.

It was 4PM I remember, another parade was passing thru in front of the house, and we all got up of our chairs and went out to see the festivities. We were catching prizes from the parading cars, waving at the Jollibee mascot; then the white Volkswagon beetle pulled over in front of the house, officials came to crown the Salvatus House a winner. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We shouted! We won 1st runner up! Everyone was happy and laughing; enjoying the merriment (as though we weren’t doing that before they announced it) but it just affirmed it, their hard work validated.

I will never forget my experience in the Pahiyas, it is one of those experience that you’ll remember forever. I met different kinds of people, made new friends; It will be one of those places that I’d always recommend people to go. It was one of the more exciting things I’ve ever done so far this year.

Going to Lucban, Quezon
J.A.C. Liner Inc. - Cubao Araneta Center Station
Take the bus to Sta. Cruz / Lucena City – Go down Lucena Grand Terminal (4 hrs) – P218
Take a jeep and go down at Lucban (45 minutes) – P25