BGC skyline

On the Eighth Year

Last year, I realized that I was being called out of the place where I’d worked for the last seven and a half years. The things I went through before I had this realization were gruelling. And even though this realization was a huge sigh of relief, it was still a difficult thing to process. I’d still be leaving something I enjoyed, something I’d invested sweat and tears in. I’d be changing my life as I knew it.

So to deal with all this, I made a playlist.

Naturally. Continue Reading

At least sixteen percent of the Philippines

Tomorrow is the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Declaration of Independence, and to celebrate, I took the Lakbayan Quiz again. When I took it in 2007, I got a D, which means that I’d visited 5-10% of the Philippines. Now, five years later, I’ve visited 16-23% of the country, which gave me a C. Ha! Progress!

On a related note, I wrote a blog post about how many Philippine islands I’ve visited.

The Lakbayan Quiz is a project by Eugene Villar of Vista Pilipinas. It asks you where you’ve been in the Philippines, and how frequently visit each place–just passed by, been there once or twice, visit frequently, or if you’ve lived there. The grading system is discussed in this blog post.

If you like travelling around the Philippines and you haven’t tried the Lakbayan or something similar, I highly recommend taking it. It’s not to brag about how high your score is–or wallow in self-pity when you get a low one. To me, it’s a reminder that there’s still so much of the Philippines waiting for me; a realization that I’ve actually quite forgotten some of the provinces and islands that I’d studied in school before; and a reissued challenge to know my country and visit as much of it as I can.

My Lakbayan grade is C!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Cream Cheese Salmon Maki by White House Fusion Cuisine in Davao

Happiness in a Cream Cheese Salmon Maki

A layer of vinegar-infused white rice. A sheet of nori. A fresh slice of salmon sashimi. These are some of my favorite things in my favorite cuisine. And when they’re all rolled together with an important addition of cream cheese, it becomes a mouthful of happiness called a Cream Cheese Salmon Maki.

I get giddy just thinking about it. Continue Reading

Perfect Triple Dark Chocolate Brownie with Ganache in Annipie Davao

The Triple Dark Chocolate Brownies from Annipie are perfect

Everybody loves a brownie. I have literally never met someone who didn’t love a brownie unless they were allergic. The way we like our brownies differ, though.

Some like them sweet or dark; with nuts or without. There are light ones, dense ones, and biscuity ones.

We all have our own definition of a perfect brownie. I, for one, love the rich, chocolate-y, melt-in-your-mouth kind, preferably with no nuts. Unless it’s soft walnut mixed in the brownie, or maybe almond slivers on top, just to add a little crunch, in case there aren’t any chocolate chips on it. It’s one or the other. I don’t want no nuts distracting me from my chocolate.

Because of our different preferences, it’s easy to find a brownie that everyone will like, but it’s a little harder to find a one that everyone will love and enjoy and smile like an idiot about.

I found one such brownie in Davao when I went there in May. Continue Reading

Three cities in three hours

Once a year, our church holds a Discipleship conference.

It’s a big thing: it was to empower leaders to raise up leaders.
It’s a big thing: over 10,000 people all over Metro Manila were to be in attendance.
It’s a big thing: it was held simultaneously across 16 locations.

Our team’s involvement was in the preparations. My (non-)conversation with a colleague captured it:

“Is it so hard? I mean, don’t your department just have to prepare everything and so that all the other locations can execute it?”

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Train Station Platform at Taiyuan China

Waiting for chug-chug-chugging

Before October 2014, I had never ridden a train.

I’m not talking about city subways or bullet trains (although, before October 2014, I had never ridden a bullet train, either). I’m talking about cross-country ones that you ride for hours, where you stay in little cabins with your luggage tucked beside you; ones that seem to make you say “locomotive” instead of “train” in your head.
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Boatman at sea in Bohol

7,107 Islands

When a friend visited the Philippines recently, there was a question that people asked him quite a few times.

“Of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, how many have you visited?”

He just smiled and said: “Two. The island where Manila is, and the island where Davao is.”

During a conversation with him later, he swung the question back at me.

“Definitely more than two,” was my easy answer.
Continue Reading