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. 

OMG! Sam Drew Me!

God is so smart and so clever that he decided not to bestow me the gift of being a drawing artist. Because of my being so egocentric, self-centered, narcissistic and self-obsessed, he knows that if He is to equipped me with such a talent, I would draw nothing but my self-portrait. 

But since God is truly unpredictably generous, He let me encounter an awesome Drawing Master. He gave me the amazing chance to know Sam of .AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? blog

I have been fortunate to bump into the wordpress blog of Sam.  His drawings posted on his blog gave me the impression that he indeed is a master drawer.  I may not be the arbiter who determines a good art work from the bad, but with my pretty rich exposures to various drawings and artworks that I have personally seen from various museums in various parts of the world, I guess I know a good artwork when I see one.

A fine art creation for me is something that prompts me to feel or do something: unconsciously grow goosebumps, write about it, stare on it for minutes, take photos of it, find out more regarding its origin or simply be breathless about it.

I was so impressed with Sam’s drawings that I did not hesitate clicking likes and commenting on his blog posts.  I was so impressed that I commented that “in case he run out of photos to draw, I can always volunteer and send mine” for him to work on.

Sam took it as a challenge and responded on my comment.  I did not, of course, hesitated sending him my photo.  And as expected, the one photo I choose includes me.  Without telling Sam the location where the photo was taken, he surprisingly recognized that it was taken in Glenorchy a beautiful southern town in New Zealand.

100% pure

After a short convo thru comment section of Sam’s blog, I no longer expected anything.  But surprisingly, when I tried checking out his latest blog post (I follow him by the way), this is what I saw.

OMG! Awesome!!!! (hahaha! i posted this photo without seeking Sam’s authorization, sorry Sam)

OMG! I uttered the biggest O.M.G. when I saw it!  I was so happy, I wanted to fly to Sam’s hometown and give him a kiss!

This is one big awesome surprise!  You just don’t know how glad I am when I saw it.    God may not grant me the talent Sam has but I know He was laughing out loud when He saw my jaw dropped, the moment I saw Sam’s super awesome drawing.  Thank you Sam from the bottom of my heart!

The Dismantling of a Building is Making Me Sad

There is one old building here in Manila that is being dismantled and pulled into pieces.  I am quite affected by this demolition simply because this structure has been part of my young college years.  Being just across our campus, I have always tagged this marvel as the extension of our college grounds. 

Me and my collegemates then has considered its spacious airconditioned lobby as our place of solace, our relaxation spot and our undisturbed hideaway.  We truly adore the clean and spotless toilets which were way better, fresher and tidier than the lavatories in our campus.  During cram periods, instead of going to the library, a quiet corner within the building has been our retreat to focus on reviewing prior to an intense exam.

iconic piece of architecture (photo not mine)

hey! that’s our usual spot!

The building’s large cafeteria was our go-to dining hall every time our school’s canteen serves super oily, flavorless and unsavory dishes. The only thing that we seem to have failed to do was to hold the actual class inside that building!

The long airconditioned hallway of the ground floor from the main entrance leading to its side door has been me and my classmates’ short-cut route when we want to go to the nearby mall.  My college mates may not know this but I personally admire the huge old trees outdoor that surrounds the building and I gape and ogle towards the gorgeous art pieces (sculptures & mural paintings) that lies and hanged around the main lobby.

the facade of the main entrance… (photo not mine)

miss those quiet spots

This building has been so part of my college life.  Me and my classmates even celebrated a milestone with this building because its marvelous auditorium was in fact the venue of our baccalaureate mass and graduation rites when we finished our college degree in the old Manila Doctors College. 

And lately have I only known that the stunning auditorium was renowned for its excellent acoustics.  I never knew that this auditorium was done by the same engineers who did the Sydney Opera House.  If I only knew then, I should have instead sung an enchanting song when I was tasked to deliver the graduation speech during our college graduation rites.

with those acoustics, i should have sung a song!

philamlife building u.n. ave.

With all these memories and recollections, the ongoing ripping into pieces of the iconic and magnificent Philam Life building along United Nations Avenue in Manila is truly making me sad.

Barkada is Fine with Me

I have personally experienced racism, discrimination and oppression here in my country and especially abroad.  This is oddly because of the color or my skin, my Malay/Pacific-islander features as well as the weird sounding accent that I have when I speak the English language.  And often times, here in my country, our warm hospitality is often abused by the flat-out bad travelers of a more dominant race.  And when abroad, I had personally felt the quiet laughter and the subtle disgust exhibited by the more dominant race towards me.

Digressing a little, recent local news featured a newly opened bar in Washington DC.  It gained interest here in my country because the bar was named Barkada, a Filipino word which means “a group of close friends”.  Though named after a Filipino word, the bar & resto has nothing else about the Philippines.  One would expect that it would offer something Filipino – cuisine, beverage, music, interiors, etc. – but surprisingly none.

got this photo from IG account of Barkada

This rouse some flak and negative reactions from my fellow Filipinos who posted unenthusiastic and superfluous comments on the social media account of Barkada (the bar).  It seems like a case when the Filipinos and not the dominant race are the oppressors and the unfair.

Some Filipinos would accuse the 4 Caucasian owners of cultural appropriation since not one of them were from the Philippines.  Other snow-flaked Filipinos would demand that the owners have to change the name because it has no relevant ties with the Philippines.  And even accused the owners for taking from a culture that is not theirs and that these Caucasians are asserting again their being so entitled. 

These juvenile and aggravating reactions made the owners published an apology to Filipinos who felt slighted.  Yet their impressive statement was on point when they explained the beauty in the word barkada that prompted them to use it as the name of their establishment.

“barkada” is such a gorgeous word that all should know and celebrate

For me, I totally agree with the 4 Caucasian owners when they said that barkada is a beautiful word that connotes the deep meaning of friendship.  And I totally disagree with the narrow-minded, intolerant and prejudiced Filipinos who reacted negatively on naming Barkada barkada

In fact, I actually felt flattered that non-Filipinos were able to appreciate the gorgeousness of the word.  For me, using the word barkada by a non-Filipino owned and a non-Filipino concept bar is totally fine.  In fact, the owners have just lifted up the concept of “barkada” into a higher global plane. 

Allowing and using the word barkada as a name of an establishment will not end discrimination, racism and oppression in the world.  Nevertheless, barkada may it be a word, a tavern, a feeling or a people should not selfishly be alienated but should instead be celebrated.

Oh, and by the way, here in the Philippines we have very popular restaurant establishments named Vikings Luxury Buffet restaurant and Congo Grille which has nothing to do with the Scandinavians and Congolese people and cultures.  Also, the most popular corned beef brand here in my country is called Argentina yet Argentinians are not offended, I guess.  Even the most famous and well-revered beer brand that we have here is named San Miguel Beer yet still Saint Michael is not reacting and posting his rants on social media regarding the unpermitted usage of his name for this Filipino alcoholic drink. Hahaha!

i wonder how saint michael feels… flattered or appalled?

To my fellow Filipinos, can we just move on and stop being such sensitive drama queens?! To the owners of Barkada, thanks for the warm appreciation of the word and I hope to have the opportunity to visit your store soon when given the chance to be back in Washington DC.  I really hope that during my visit the warmness of hospitality and friendliness of service you provide is Filipino-like.

Catching Up with Super Friend Karen B.

William Shakespeare is so correct when he said that “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow”.

The beauty about friendships is that we cannot tell the exact circumstance and that it ensued and best formed before we needed it.  I am super glad to have been privileged to develop super friendships in these manner.

with super friend, Karen B.

One long-time, unpretentious and authentic friendship I obtained is that with Karen B. And after eons of seasons, I have been favored by luck and providence to catch up with this genuine and indisputable human being. 

My friendship with Karen B is actually older than a lot of readers and followers of this blog.  And for the last more than 3 decades that we know each other catching up has been very intermittent.  Catch up can sometimes be between seasons, sometimes annually and sometimes even lengthier than the sports Olympic meets of the planet.

comfy talk! frank, unpretentious and sometimes brutal, you can actually leave behind your pocketful of formalities when you are to catch up with this lady. hahaha!

But despite the irregular meet-ups the level of frankness, candidness and sincerity remains the same.  May it be silly, serious, brutal, momentous or wicked, I can essentially say anything I want to this lady.  And point in fact, she can actually do the same to me!  That is how deep the friendship I have with Karen B.  And I am just so glad to have met up again with this lady.

Finally Understanding A Priest’s Homily

One opposite of living a normal life in a Catholic country like the Philippines is not having a Catholic priest as a friend.  In this particular aspect, I have long considered myself as abnormal, a nonstandard and an aberration. 

Yeah, I guess I am one of those self-promoting folks in Manila who lacks a saintly priest as a friend.  Dealing with a Catholic priest on a regular basis is an unchartered territory for me.

Maybe one of the reasons why I don’t have a Catholic priest friend is because I am seldom impressed by their delivered Homilies during a Holy Mass.  Commonly, priests in their Homilies would often talk too vague and too imprecise and they would move from one topic to another in a nonsensical fashion.  Their line of thinking often times is so ambiguous and so formless I would often suspect that priest’s common mental illness is schizophrenia.

But the priest I heard last Monday during a Holy Mass in Greenbelt Chapel to commemorate the death of my boss (Sir Larry Cruz) eleven years ago was somebody who was impressively different.  He was specific and was exact.  He was coherent and was so cohesive in his Homily.  His talk was well research.  It was actually enjoyable, charming and was very inspiring.

 

that’s me (left) with super friend dominic… nagdadasal? thanks to mj for this blurry photo. hahaha! 

i was so impressed, i took a glimpse of the greenbelt chapel’s priest

He talked about the man whom the Holy Mass was for and successfully correlate my amiable boss’s vocation and persona to his homily.  He was inspiring when he said that it is not about the years in your life that counts, but it is the life in your years that matter.  And what struck me most about this priest’s Homily was his wisdom about: “people will forget what you said”andpeople will forget what you did”butpeople will never forget what you made them feel”

If I am to make friends with a priest that Greenbelt Chapel priest would be the first dude in line!

Hay salamat at sa wakas, naka-intindi rin ng sermon!

Remarkable Taipei

Taiwan also known as the Republic of China did an awesome job when it decided to allow visa-free entry to Philippine citizens also known as Filipinos.  They must be reaping the benefits out from this imperative decision.

Because of the influx of Filipino tourists, vendors started learning Filipino words that would entice and charm Filipino shopaholics!  Taiwainese sellers can be heard saying “masarap” (Filipino word for delicious), “mura” (Filipino word for inexpensive) and “maganda” (Filipino word for attractive)

And because of the visa-free decision, I just had my third visit in a short span of 2 years to the super urbanized capital city Taipei.  My visit was not about business or work but because of tourism.  Thus, their visa-free entry decision for Filipinos has definitely boosted their tourism. 

happy gang at the airport! 

i love this shot! 

first timers jb, mj and willie 

getting not so confused at confucius temple 

taipei mrt is eons away in terms of efficiency and comfort as compared to the manila mrt

For me Taipei is an inexpensive alternative for Filipinos who want to travel abroad.  Instead of going for a short vacation to Hongkong, Osaka or Singapore, Filipinos can actually do a fun-filled weekend adventure in Taipei.  And that is what I just did with MJ, Willie and JB!

I was not surprised at how surprised MJ, Willie and JB was regarding how progressive, modern, civilized, ultra-clean, courteous and efficient Taipei was.  They told me that they were expecting Taipei to be just like to old, shabby and stinky Chinatown of Manila.  There were actually moments when these three colleagues ponder on what happened to their beloved Metro Manila that was definitely left behind in all aspects concerning tourism and urban living.

It was my third time, yet Taipei has consistently impressed me.  This only shows that my first two visits were not merely flukes of remarkable circumstances.  Taipei can therefore be concluded as one exciting and impressive city! 

serene…

MMM – masarap, mura, maganda! 

Harvested Good Amount of Negative Ions in Laiya Batangas

I recently learned one negative aspect on earth that results to something positive!  It’s the Negative Ions that are abundant in nature especially around waterfalls, the ocean surf and the beach.  Scientists say that negative ions are like antimicrobial agents that neutralizes fee radicals and promote good health as well as overall well-being.

I recently harvested a pretty good amount of negative ions when I recently had a fun out-of-town adventure with my colleagues at one nice beach resort in Laiya, Batangas.

Refreshed and recharged, I was able to create two videos from this summer in September fun adventure.  Happy watching…

Meron pa din pasitib sa negatib!

The Pinoy Lomi

With its world wide appeal and popularity, the Japanese ramen has turned out to become such an intense source of pride for Japan.  It is so popular, Chefs around the world are in serious pursuit of locating and determining the best Japanese ramen ever made.

I myself love a number of ramen varieties and such popularity makes me so jealous on why our Filipino-made and Filipino-developed noddle dish could not be as popular as that of the savory ramen.  I wish and dream on the day when the erstwhile and yummy Pinoy Lomi would be as popular, as trendy and as pursued-after kind of a noodle dish like that of the Japanes Ramen.

Japanese Ramen houses are literally everywhere around the planet.  But can you envision and imagine having a Lomi House in the well-appointed streets of New York, Paris and Sydney? 

it would be a big surprise if this would be sooo sought after

cafeño

darling lomi

And while I patiently wait until such an embryonic and what seem to be ridiculous vision turned out to become such a shocking and ridiculous reality, let me feature one savory Lomi that I and friends recently tried when we went to San Juan in the province of Batangas.

Cafeño the leading café restaurant in San Juan, Batangas (according to Tripadvisor) offers a very good variety of Lomi.  Picture freshly-cooked thick noodles, rich and savory broth, the perfect amount of spice, half-cooked egg topped with crispy pork cracklings! 

I would not say Cafeño’s version of Lomi is the best Lomi in the country.  It is because I have always believed that there is no such thing as the best Lomi.  This Pinoy noodle dish is supposed to be of a personal preference.  It’s more on having your own favorite variety.  Thus, unlike the popular ramen houses who claims to serve the best ramen dish, there is no best Lomi in the country because every Pinoy definitely would have their preferred and darling Lomi version.  And so far, Cafeño’s version has been my personal choice and favorite.

The Pinoy Lomi may not be as highly-sophisticated like some of the ramen varieties but this meal manages to be so comforting and soul-soothing at the same time. It is a properly balanced bowl dish that earthlings outside the Philippines has yet to discover. 

so glad to have discovered cafeño with super friends!

Nakakagulat na sarap!

Tastes of Asahikawa

One unusual thing that I and my colleagues did in our most recent trip to Japan is that we decided to stay in a minimally advertised destination in Hokkaido.  Instead of staying in a more popular Sapporo or Furano, we decided to stay for 2 nights in a remote place called Asahikawa. 

And since there are limited tourist spots to go to (aside from going to a mall and a zoo), I and my colleagues decided to explore Asahikawa through its food.  Our first destination was the ramen house our hotel has recommended, the Ichikura Raman. 

with the asahikawa gang just outside ichikura raman (edwin, malou, gie and dominic) 

surprisingly clear to the palate yet with a distinct flavor of a ramen

 Since Isahikawa seem to be popular with shoyu-based ramen (shoyu: Japanese soy sauce), I settled and ordered the Okhotsk Shoyu Ramen.  This ramen according to the menu is composed with unique Hokkaido ingredients like Namuro dried salmon flakes, Esashi dried herring and Rishiri kelp from Oumu.  I was really happy that Ichikura Raman was the ramen place our hotel has recommended.  And aside from their ramen, one surprising dish in this joint was their Gyoza.  It was one of the best gyozas that I have tasted!

A lot of people say that it would be a sin for a tourist in Hokkaido if he/she failed or refuse to try the Hokkaido ice cream.  This soft frozen dairy is one plain ice cream that is simply made of milk.  It has no fancy flavor, no fancy add-ons and no fancy flairs for an ice cream.  For me, its plainness makes Hokkaido ice cream remarkably exquisite and amazingly elegant. 

happy crew handing me my creamy ice cream 

savoring every moment of yummy-ness!

Then, one of the highlights of our Asahikawa stay was the dinner at Jingisukan Daikokuya.  This restaurant is the top rated local-cuisine restaurant in Asahikawa as per Tripadvisor.  It is so popular people would have to wait and queue outside before they be given a table.  Specialty of the house was Hokkaido’s grill icon called Genghis Khan (also termed Jingisukan).

Like their sophisticated ice cream, Jingisukan is a must try in Hokkaido.  It is a unique style of yakiniku in which mutton and lamb are grilled on a convex skillet shaped like an upside-down bowl.  Since the meat are grilled over charcoal, we were surprised to see and experience the amount of smoke inside the popular restaurant.  We nevertheless did not complain because the smoke actually added up to the character and atmosphere of the establishment. 

outside the resto, waiting for our turn

 

an asahikawa highlight

I personally prefer beef over lamb, but the marinated flavor and the stunning taste of the meat served to us gave me some second thought if I really do prefer beef over lamb. Genghis Khan was strikingly delicious!

Asahikawa may not be of the same level as that of Osaka, Tokyo or Sapporo where there are tons to see and marvel at.  Asahikawa nevertheless has loads of gustatory surprises that tourists can taste and talk about.

Para maiba naman!