Feeling Low? Read This!

a friend captured this early this morning in his home province…

If you are a non-Filipino and you hate your life and at a lowest low, think again.  Let me just inform you that while I am writing this, my country (the Philippines) is experiencing the deadliest, the strongest and most devastating tropical storm of the year on the planet.  Power outages, spotty internet, dreadful storm surges by the seaside, terrible flashfloods, daunting evacuations of families and horrible destruction of buildings, crops and produce are all ongoing.   And this is in the midst of the deadly pandemic!

So, if you are feeling sad, miserable and dispirited, think again! You just don’t know how blessed and fortunate you are at the moment.

Got to go.  Need to evacuate to my mom’s house and arm myself with the mighty umbrella!  Stay resilient Philippines! I pray for everyone’s safety and that this deadly storm will pass soonest!

Getting Stout and the All-Purpose Comforter

Oftentimes during my nightly video teleconference with my family, they would tell me that I’m starting to gain so much weight.  That my face has gone so stout that it no longer fits their cellphone screen!  This was further confirmed by a friend whom I recently caught up with.  When he told me that I have gone quite corpulent, I rolled my eyes heavenward and justified that it is because my social life has turned depressingly invaginated, that the mentally-disturbing pandemic has gone so long and that I am still miserably uninspired and alone. 

Yup, my food intake has gone way extra in the past months because of these reasons.  A lot of us, I’m sure, at some stage in our lives have taken to using food as a surrogate for the stuffs we cannot have.  Since the helpless food does not resist and surrenders instantly, it is the best substitute for everything.  It doesn’t fight back when you assault it with your spoon or attack it with a fork.  It does not scream pain nor howl agony when you munch it in your mouth.  It is the ultimate giver of warmth and the all-purpose comforter.

double-chin smile! haha!

I’m almost certain that after checking out his latest (dis)approval ratings, Donald Trump sought solace not from Melania, but from a big bag of chips.  It is just too bad that the sugar high that food provides goes straight to our chin and belly and results to blobs of fat that clogs our defenseless arteries.  And it is disturbing to realize that the quantity of fat in our body is exactly proportional to the size of our doctor’s bank account.

Please pardon my body-shaming-like post today, all these blood sugar seem to have caramelized in my brain already.  Christmas season is coming so expect a bigger me.  Or maybe, I should reactivate my exercise regimen and restart being on ketosis already!  Let me contemplate on this then.  Have a healthy week everyone!

Dine Out, Put Your Seatbelt & Be Safe

Weird as it may seem, dining out in a restaurant at this time of contagion would be like riding a rusty roller coaster, a rickety Ferris wheel or entering a spooky horror house.  Dining out is so scary people don’t know if they would catch the deadly virus or would come out of the restaurant still hale and healthy.

But since I am in a state when I would rather go out and live a life yet would still observe extra precautions to prevent catching the bug, I decided to dine out here in Manila.  The lucky joint I chose is the 36-year-old Bistro Remedios, an authentic regional Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila.

And I was glad to know that on the day of my gastronomic consumption, the week-long citywide project of Manila City government called Restaurant Week was on-going.  Bistro Remedios was participating in this initiative by the city mayor whom I predict would be the future president of this country.

I ordered and munched on these…

As I was to finish chomping on my beautiful dessert, dining out at this time of pandemic was indeed like having a roller coaster ride.  I experienced the thrill brought about by the visceral sensation of fear – pounding heart and faster breathing – when I was about to enter the resto.

Similar in a roller coaster ride, cheery attendants would ask you to sign a waiver and settle you down by putting on your seatbelt.  It was so similar in Bistro Remedios because the smiling waiter asked me to fill out a health declaration and contact tracing form and sprayed a mist of alcohol on my hand before leading me to my table.

When I sat down and relayed my order, I realized the increased feeling of well-being and wakefulness.  And when the food was served and had my first bite of the delicious meal, I closed my eyes, felt the busting of flavors in my mouth, my endorphins were high and was having a euphoria!  Good thing I failed to scream when I opened my eyes inside that restaurant. Hahaha!

fasten your seatbelt!

Conquer your fear this time of pandemic.  Dine out, put your seatbelt and be safe!

An Aborted Grandeur Illusion for a Halloween Costume

When a friend relayed that he read my recent blog post about my Osaka flight cancellation, he knew that one of my agendas in going there was to celebrate and attend again the big Halloween street party in Osaka. He then asked who would I be this time if my Osaka Halloween attendance pushed though.  I simply responded King George.

I have been the Riddler and an Indian Warrior in the past Osaka Halloweens, but I was really looking forward to being the mighty and loony King George this year.  But when my friend further asked why King George, I told him that we Filipinos seem to secretly yearns for a king and has the weird fascination towards noble families.  Though our country is not under a monarchy, we are so in love with kings and queens!

crowned prince of the twisted! hahaha!

 Here in the Philippines, every primary or grade school seem to have coronated their little prince and princess.  Even rich and affluent people featured in society columns in the past were tagged “royals and royalettes”.  And when people are elected to a public office, they have to go around with a whole battalion of body guards to signify how important they are, waving their hands to their constituents as if they are kings and queens of their barrio or little municipalities. 

Classic examples are the effective portrayal of the late dictator Marcos and Imelda who depicted themselves as the modern king and queen of the Philippines.  This outrageous couple thought that it was their obligation to the people to live a fabulous imperial-like lives for the poor. Hahaha!   

Also, we are so fascinated with grand majestic coronations, that we look forward to the annual coronation of the queen of the universe (Miss Universe pageant) and we go extra crazy if the crowned winner is from the Philippines!

Now that I will not go back to Osaka, my friend still further asked what then should I do during Halloween? I told him that as a message to myself, I will have to settle singing the song “You’ll Be Back” by King George in the Broadway musical Hamilton. Hahaha!

You, who would you be this Halloween?

Dance When Bored Angels Ignore Us

It’s the last quarter and when I realized that I haven’t gone out of the country this year, I got sad.  When I counted that it has been close to eight months that I have been limiting my movement outdoors, I got sad.  I actually got sad when I realized I got sad.

Gazing into the affirmative, bouts of sadness may be good for us.  Can you just imagine happiness if there is no sadness?  Life then would be so dull, nauseating and mind-numbing.  Angels in heaven must have been so bored with happiness they prefer descending down to earth in search of sadness and turn the same into glee, delight and gladness.

Life is not about wishing storms to pass. It is about learning how to dance in the rain.

I am not saying that I would love to bask on sadness.  I had so much of it already.  But sadness as unwelcome and unwanted as it may seem is a life ingredient.  And if bored angels up above ignore us, what is good about us being humans is that we cope.  We have the capacity to manage, the ability to handle and the aptitude to deal.

Sadness is like a life’s unwanted storm.  It can be intense, horrible and devastating.  But life is not about wishing storms to pass.  It is about learning how to dance in the rain.  Therefore, we simply just have to dance if bored angels ignore us.

Cool Carlo

Reading about good news has been so hard to come by.  In the age of divisiveness, social mistreatment and neglect of the planet, human beings would seem to yearn for some good news nowadays. 

Let me provide one to you then. Carlo Acutis, an Italian Roman Catholic teenager is scheduled for beatification today, October 10, 2020.  This is after the Pope confirmed a miracle attributed to Carlo’s intercession – the healing of a young Brazilian boy who was afflicted with a rare congenital pancreatic disease.

cool carlo acutis

This young dude who died of leukemia in 2006 at a young age of 15 did things that no ordinary teenager of his generation would do.  He frequently prayed the holy rosary, attended mass and received the eucharist.   He also made an online catalog of the miracles pertaining to the Holy Eucharist.  As if like an old wise man, Carlo offered his pains, agonies and sufferings to the Lord and the Church.  How cool is that!

The body of Blessed Carlo on display in Assisi

Another cool thing about Carlo is that he seems to be the only Blessed in Nike shoes! Congratulations Blessed Carlo! You simply rock!

My Superhero Action Figure

Majority of the present male human specie – young and old – grew up playing with superhero action figures.  Every one of these dudes can gleefully recall which among these animated crusaders was their favorite.  I am part of the unfortunate, luckless and deprived minority.  I never got the chance to play with a mini-Superman, Batman or the Green Lantern.

that’s me! hahaha! had a pretty twisted set of toys yet with awesome childhood

Instead, I can clearly recall that I and my siblings would play with canned goods and variety of grocery items of Nengkoy (my mother) from her pantry storage at the second floor of our house.  We enjoyed rolling cans of Hunts pork & beans on the floor with the aim of hitting unopened plastic bottles of Jergens body lotions and Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoos.  We find excitement in stacking weighty tins of Spam luncheon meats. And we adored imagining fragrant boxes of Dove and Ivory bath soaps as mini cars. 

Miniature sports figures (not the Hulk, Captain America nor other superheroes) would be so infrequent to come by because we would have to wait for the next can of Milo or Ovaltine to finish because the free promotional mini-sports figures are buried somewhere within the cans of these powdered choco drinks.

Don’t get me wrong.  I actually had a balanced and awesome childhood.  But unfortunately, I could not contribute or share a fun childhood experience when asked which among the superheroes did I grew up having as an action figure. 

But now that I am old, people would seem to start contemplating whether they had a cool childhood as I did when I dare answer such question because my reply now would no longer be a boring “none”.  It is only lately that I figured out that I actually grew up having a superhero action figure! It’s the supreme crusader in bright red imperial regalia that would beat even the chief, topnotch and paramount superhero a human animator has created.  Nowadays – though I did not played with it, I actually prayed to it – my simple answer to this question is the little Santo Niño (translation: the image of The Child Jesus).

My very own Santo Niño in green imperial regalia was gifted to me by my mom more than 25 years ago when I decided to live on my own and be independent.

A Moment When Dark Spirits Hated Me

I have just been in a zoom meeting and encountered a circumstance where I have been slightly wronged.  Though I was not bestowed even a hint of apology, and since the concern at hand has been clarified, I simply let go of the issue and tolerantly charged it to experience.

This zoom meeting experience is nothing but bread crumbs if compared to a huge loaf of an intense situation others may have when it comes to the aspect of forgiveness. I read somewhere that forgiveness could be the most difficult thing many of us do in our lifetime.  It is hard because it is against all our earthly impulses.  I hope that there would not come a time when forgiving for me would be the hardest.

my face being a peace! hahaha!

But I guess on undemanding situations, forgiving is easier than being too proud, too bitter and too loaded with angst and resentment.  Being at peace is the benefit of being tolerant while good will is what you get from tossing away the negatives.  Evil spirits abhor the concept of forgiving and during that specific zoom meeting, those dark hostile forces hated me.

I Had Coffee With Your Avatar

Now that the world has gone bonkers, I think gaining and winning friends by the present generation sits quite fine and okeydokey with me.  Generation now would consider that the minimum requirements for at least two human beings to be considered as friends is that they have to have a photo together posted on social media or that one has clicked accept a Facebook invite by the other.

Though I am truly glad that I am not part of this peculiar “friendship” scheme.  I think I would still recognize and accept such a modern way of developing friendships for the mere fact that such scheme and pattern is positive.

It is totally different from the way how friendship develops and flourish during my young though not so vibrant time.  Friendship development and occurrences then were face-to-face, non-tech, unknowing, fluid, extemporaneous and does not require having an avatar.

my present globally recognized avatar! hi friends!

I am not saying that those that I connect with via social media or the world-wide-web as not friends.  They are indeed!  But it could have been more enhanced if I happen to at least smell or touch these new found friends.  Yeah, I am a touchy person (and not a smelly one)!  And I would have love to have at least a coffee or dinner with these new found comrades.

Case in point are the new found friends I developed while writing and posting on this blog.  These are the amazing and beautiful people who cared to read, like, comment and/or follow the Nengkoy blog.  Conversing via the comment sections and responding to emails, believe it or not, has been very fascinating and enriching experiences.  Some don’t even have a face since their avatar would be a painting, a cartoon character or the photo of their favorite pet yet I would consider them as my modern virtual friends. 

And since, like what I have said, the world has gone bonkers, you may not know it, but I have had a coffee with your avatar in the past few days! Hahaha!

Finding new friends is positive and in the affirmative, whichever way a person achieves it would be so fine with me. 

A Plantito with Black Thumb

I have always recognized that I do not have a green thumb.  Though I love plants and have taken cared quite a number of them in the past, plants don’t love me back.  My relatives can attest that I have purchased countless number of plants in the past, but all chose to breathe their last breath and declined to settle with me in my condo unit.  I sometimes correlate my relations to plants as a form of unrequited love! 

When I and my family would go out of town, I would often suggest to stop at a garden store by a roadside before heading back to Manila for I want to acquire new greens.  “Are you looking for a new victim?” or “You’re just wasting some bucks” are the usual remarks of my relatives when I would suggest my buying new plants.

the recent garden shop where i purchased my succulents… i can hear these greens saying… “no! not me!!!” LOL!

I have always thought that I would make a good gardener because I had an A+ grade in my Botany subjects during my old school days and would even had the time and fortitude of talking to these plants.  But all these photosynthetic members of the Kingdom Plantae refuse to live with me.  My relatives has even tagged me as having the black thumb or even worse the black-kiss-of-death thumb!

Owning and taking care of plants here in Manila is the new craze.  Like me, this has been some of people’s emotional outlet or thing to do and be busy of indoors during this time of quarantining and pandemic. 

This has been evidenced by the steady increase in the number of social media posts of people posing behind, in front or beside their happy and healthy plants!  People call these plant-fanatics and shrub-obsessed folks as Plantitas (for female) and Plantitos (for male) of Manila.

In my recent out of town adventure, I again purchased a new batch of plants to enjoy and take care of.  I hope these creatures are as glad as I am.  I am really hoping that this new batch will live a long life and would finally erase my being a black thumb.

if those trees can run, i’m pretty sure they’ve moved way way farther! hahaha!

my not-so-happy green companions! please don’t die…(my recent purchases)

But if these plants chose to reject me and die instead, I will still care for one and would just have to melodramatically remind myself that old warriors may have to fight a long battle more than once to win it.  And if one zany plant would finally decide to settle it out with me, I will call myself a Plantito who would be smiling while sharing social media pictures with it.

Looking forward to having photos with these new plants!