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!

I Wanna…

I hate YouTube today.  Can you just imagine this YouTube thing had the overzealous audacity to suggest a music video on my iPad that would stress, accentuate and lay emphasis on my being solo?!

How could you YouTube?  How could you?! I am so offended because the song’s lyrics is so true in every sense of the word! Hahaha!

Good thing the beat and its remake rendition is so awesome, it indeed made me dance! I’m a goofball and I love Ben Rector by the way.

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.

Visa Application: The Expensive Way of Proving My Being a Human Being

My comment on a Facebook post by Business Insider “Hahaha! No need to read the article.  I know this so well… (Filipino here)” is gaining semi-popularity.  This article written by a Syrian was about how difficult it is to travel when you don’t have the power of a privileged passport.

And like Syrians, Filipinos like me has to face expensive challenges and time-consuming process of obtaining a travel visa.  Like Syrians, Filipino-world travelers has very weak passports.  We are not privileged to travel easily like the French, the Norwegians and the Singaporeans to name a few.

new zealand: visa fee usd 140

shanghai, china: visa fee usd 27.50

Belgians and South Koreans and other nationalities with powerful passport need not plan so much ahead of time.  They can easily go and hop on the next flight available to another country if they wish to.  But Syrians and Filipinos need months in advance of processing our visit visa.  We need to prepare a long list of proofs of our being human beings as well as present our capability to finance ourselves during our travel.

We have to pay the expensive visa fees which Australians, Americans and Canadians can already apportion to their room accommodations or meal expense during their travel.  We have to allot a separate budget for that. Hahaha!  And these pricy visa fees does not actually assure us of securing our needed visit visa.  We need to do loads of prayers to the heavens plus tons of luck!

mexico: visa-free entry if you have japanese or us visa

israel: visa free (yohooo!!!)

turkey: need to have US visa + usd 20 for evisa

As of this writing I have to pay 60 euros to secure a Schengen visa, 160 US dollars to obtain an American visa and 832 US dollars to acquire a 5-year UK visa.  And according to 2018 schengenvisainfo.com report, Schengen embassies and consulates in the Philippines processed 175,700 visa applications.  UK on the other hand processed 78,482 applications.  And these are just Schengen and UK, we Filipinos love USA so do the math on how much these embassies profited from travel-loving Filipinos.

Wealthy Malaysians, Japanese and Singaporeans has to pay nothing.  Zero.  Thus, Schengen, UK and US embassies and consulates don’t earn from them considering that they can effortlessly afford it. 

If for some people getting lost in a foreign country is the most tough, Syrians for and Filipinos on the other hand, the process of obtaining visa is the most difficult.  Hahaha!  It is actually the very element that hinders me from going to places I want to explore.  It is one sad truth that a travel lover like me has to endure and undertake.

A Needed Upgrade Of Filipino Independence Day

Today, June 12 my country is celebrating its Independence Day.  It’s the day when Philippines was freed and got liberated from centuries of Spanish colonial rule.  All forms of media here in my country today seem to rejoice and acclaim the freedom my country had 121 years ago.  It’s not bad.  But such commemoration seem so 121 years ago that it failed to level-up and be upgraded in a more current and present-day perspective about freedom.

My country’s celebration is still so stuck about the freedom from political and social control by the Spaniards.  Every Filipino shouts that it really feels good to be free and independent! But are we really free and independent in the true sense of the word today?

Spanish folks definitely has moved on and would not really care anymore about the goings-on in the Philippines today.  Yet still here we are, still so stuck with the thought of being freed and be independent from these folks from Europe.

Can we simply upgrade our thoughts on today’s celebration?  I would rather rally about true freedom and true independence today in the context of the present-day Filipino situations and circumstances.  I guess it would be better if Filipinos would rather contemplate on whether we are really free and independent socially, politically, morally and (wallet-wise) economically. 

Yeah we have our own government but are we really free from shameless politicians and government officials? Yeah we have freedom of expression, but are we really free and be accepted by fellow Filipinos on who we are regardless of skin color, dialect, physical attributes and sexual orientation?  Yeah we are free from economic control by other countries but are we really independent money-wise that we no longer have to worry on where to source the dough needed for tomorrow’s food, clothes, medicine and shelter? Are we really free from traffic congestion, bad education and racial discrimination? Parang hinde! (Translation: It seems not)!

I don’t want to spoil today’s revelry.  Besides, bakasyon ngayon or it’s a non-working day today!  The last time I checked, Spain has no plans of recolonizing us.  And I guess we Pinoys still have a lot to work on regarding the true meaning of freedom and independence.

smile… it’s free!

Ismayl lang yata ang libre! Pridom ka dyan!

I Won Two Million Pesos

At exactly 3:18PM I received a phone call via Viber app.  The caller sounded like a lady with very foreign accent.  With very poor English speaking skills the caller seem to tell me that I was so lucky because I won.  I told her to speak clearly because I can’t seem to understand her English.  She dropped the call.

Then all of a sudden here is how our Viber messaging transpired and won my Two Million Pesos…  

Winning Moment! Mwahahaha!

   

After sending my ATM, she never called or message back.  Oh, by the way “Gago!” is a Tagalog word meaning “You Idiot!”

Kaloka! 143-44-54!

Uber Is A Verb But Now It’s Gone

I am 1 of the 640,000,000 inhabitants of Southeast Asia.  And I am 1 of those who was just gone upset now that Uber is no longer operational in this part of the world.  I am an Uber user since the time Uber started in the Philippines.  It is my chosen ride-hailing firm as compared to Grab, a Singaporean-based and a more giant in my region.

Uber was my preferred ride every time I would travel back to Manila.  It has prevented me from dealing with the swindler cum taxi drivers infesting the Manila airports.  And though it’s no longer operational here in the Philippines, I intend to keep the Uber app in the phone.  

i’ve been notified! grrr!

 

I am an Uber user because I find it more efficient, a lot cheaper and the drivers seem more polite.  I’m an Uber user that I even got to use Uber as a verb in my daily conversations with people.  My admiration to Uber got more intense when I travelled solo in Istanbul.  It was the ride I took when I need to spend the night in a hotel near the Istanbul airport. And when Nengkoy, my sister and I was in Bangkok, Uber was our preferred mode of transportation.

But the use of Uber would soon be so foreign to me both as an app and as a verb.  Using an Uber now would only signify that I am out of my country for some travel, rest and recreation! Here’s one cute Uber Philippines commercial though…

Thanks for the short yet precious time Uber.  Hoping to use you soon!

Josme! Pano Na???

Tessa & Scott Makes Me Wanna Be Canadian

There seem to be no good news in the Philippines for the past 2 years.  Everything on the news concerning the situations in my country were either so bad or gone worse.  Like any other ordinary citizen living in the Philippines, I long for some good news!

Because of the present economic, political and social circumstances of my country, I’m jealous and envious towards the citizens of progressive Canada. These feelings of envy was further reinforced when I saw a YouTube video of the winning dance skating performances of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the recently concluded Winter Olympics. 

Though the Philippines now send delegates, I don’t normally watch the Winter Olympics held every after four years.  Maybe it is because my country does not have a winter season that is why winter sports are so foreign and unfamiliar.

But when I clicked on a recommendation by YouTube about a couple of weeks ago while I was searching for good news about the Philippines in the net, I suddenly wanted to become Canadian while watching Tessa and Scott’s performances. 

My foolish admiration towards Tessa and Scott further intensified when I learned (also from Youtube) that they have been partners in the sports of ice dancing since their cute childhood days.  This made me further admire and fell in love with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. 

They seem so pleasant and amiable that is so typical of a Canadian. I totally admired them to the point that after the day this tandem won their Olympic gold medals, I Facebook-messaged a friend and former colleague (Chef Onille Pitogo) who is now based in Canada, I told her to say hi to both Tessa and Scott if she happens to bump unto this lovely couple. 

I thought that my wanting to become a Canadian would eventually wear off.  But this was again revived and revitalized when I saw a homecoming video of this ice dancing legends when they arrived back in their home country.

Can some nice Canadian adopt me until the next Philippine presidential election? Hahaha!  I badly need some damn awesome news about my country.  And while I await for such moment, my heart continues to melt towards this lovely Canadian couple.

Inggit much grabe! Ay wana be Kaneydiyan!

My Uchisar Journey and Still Solo on Spooky February

February for me is more eerie and scary as compared to the Halloween month of November.  For me, it is more disturbing and unnerving as compared to the Chinese ghost month of August.  Reason being? It’s the sinister month when Valentines is celebrated!

With much resilience and fortitude, I was able passed through more than four and a half decades of scary Valentines celebrations.  And though my chance of finally celebrating it with a partner may have started to further dwindle, I would like to stay positive.  I am staying positive because I believe that everybody deserves a great love story.

And while I STILL wait for the most spectacular Valentine’s Day ever, let me just post my photos from my previous SOLO travel in Uchisar, the highest point in Cappadocia, Turkey.

       

And I hope that my upcoming love life shall be as spectacular, historic and as stunning as that of the Uchisar Castle of Turkey!

Balang araw! Hu yu kayo sa kin pag nagkataon! Hahaha!