Jiro dreams of sushi

March 30, 2014 § 4 Comments

source: www.magicpictures.com

I watched the famous documentary about sushi chef, Jiro, today with Mark and Kat. :)  It was a free screening at the UCC open courtyard, and my face was just lit up the entire time.  It felt surreal seeing Japan in film, because it made me remember the feeling of being there myself.  Apart from the wonderful and amazing time I had there, what I remember about Japan was that Inay was supposed to be with me during that trip.  She would have loved to be there: see all the places, eat all the delicacies, go through the shops, walk through the parks, ride all the trains, sleep in the hotel, and bite through fresh peaches.  Instead, she was at the hospital then.

I miss her.

But before I digress again or decide for the nth time to just trash away another blog post, let me go back to Jiro.  After one watches that film, they will definitely be amazed at the self-discipline Jiro has.  He has been going through the same routine for 75 years of his life, has practically dedicated his entire being to making sushi, and loves every second of it.  As usual, I kind of saw my mom in Jiro – just as I see her in everything.  But maybe that’s just me.  Jiro’s values struck me because I don’t think I have the capacity to be that patient with a routine life.  But I realized that often, we undervalue people who live in such a way.  Most of us are tempted to dismiss them as people missing out on the glorious and thrilling experiences out there.  “Boring”, “backward”, “one-tracked”, or “naive”, we might say.  In that way, we fail to appreciate the patience, diligence, and dedication they pour on what they do.  The focus they place on their mission and vision is harder to cultivate rather than the out-of-the-blue, YOLO, spontaneous, let’s-book-a-ticket-now-and-not-look-back attitude we usually glorify.  Yeah, it’s hard to be spontaneous.  However, I think it’s harder to be consistent.  But consistently improving?  Now that’s remarkable.  More than 10 years has to be devoted by an apprentice to earn the right to call himself a sushi chef.  That’s like earning an M.D.  And it doesn’t even involve voluminous books to be devoured, complemented by a glamorous title at the end.  It involves knives, lots of fishes, manual “menial” labor like fanning and slicing, and going to the market and what-not.  There’s a fine line between being a blind follower and dedication, but I firmly believe this one is an example of the latter.

One of the lines that particularly struck me in the film was Jiro talking about how parents nowadays advice their children “bullshit” when they tell them “you can always come back home when you fail”.  He said it shouldn’t be that way.  Because if they have that mindset, they’ll always be a failure.  They’ll always want to come back home.  I must admit I was raised with that kind of comfort though.  Although my parents encouraged me and nudged me, they did not push me nor force me.  Different ways may work with different people, but I have to admit there is a precious grain of wisdom in what Jiro said.  And I needed that grain.  I have to stop complaining about having a hard time and not being provided with the ideal environment to do a PhD.  I need to just focus on my work and go through the fire.  I need to go through it because I want to be molded, and not simply because I want it to be over.  Thank you God for the simple reminders.  I escape hard work for awhile, and there You are again leading me back.  Okay, I’m at it! :)


Craving sushi now.


March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

You know how they say we can sometimes be in love with the thought of “being in love”?   I feel that the most whenever I listen to certain songs.  311′s Amber used to top that list.  But tonight I think Coldplay’s Magic has managed to grab that spot.  I just love songs that make you feel so surreal – which is how I imagine true love will feel.


Still I call it magic
It’s such a passion doom


I found this really beautiful passage in Word Porn the other day.  I thought of Inay when I read the last line.  I’m sure she’s living this dream already.  At least that thought makes my heart smile.  As for me, I have yet to earn the day that I can finally be boundless and infinite as well.

I want to live simply. I want to sit by the window when it rains and read books I’ll never be tested on. I want to paint because I want to, not because I’ve got something to prove. I want to listen to my body, fall asleep when the moon is high and wake up slowly, with no place to rush off to. I want not to be governed by money or clocks or any of the artificial restraints that humanity imposes on itself. I just want to be, boundless and infinite.


P.S. Give me some more time, life.  I’m just tying up my laces, but I give you my word that I’ll see you at the finish.

March 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

please take me with you soon.


February 24, 2014 § 8 Comments

Scan 59

When I look at this picture, it’s the hands that draw me the most.  I stare at my hands, trying to imagine the way I held on to my mother’s arm.  And I stare at my mother’s hands, trying to imagine the way she held me closely on that boat.  I remember this moment in a way median to almost forgetting and definite clarity.  My dad wanted to take a picture of Inay and me on the bow of the boat, and he had instructed me to walk towards Inay.  I was paralyzed in fear, and it’s quite evident with the way I forced a smile.  I was so dependent on my parents that time we went to Hong Kong, which was my first overseas trip ever.  My pictures we’re all me gripping either my dad or my mom, mostly riding on my dad’s shoulders, probably scared of the new environment and the prospect of getting lost.  My parents pushed me to so many uncomfortable positions during that trip, “stand beside the Buddha 6 feet off the ground”, “look down the deep well where all the turtles we’re”, “ride the roller coaster in Seaworld”, “go up the cockpit and take a picture with the pilot”, “walk down the very wet plank to the open sea on a very windy day”, and what not.  Those words I just said suffer from not being able to capture how I really wanted to depict them, but I cannot do more.  Those memories are like all memories: swimming in your head.  And when you try to fish them out, they run down between your fingers – never to be retrieved whole, but will persist in some form anyway, indefinitely.  The chance of their degradation are what makes our fears of forgetting.  Moments lived in the past flash in random order.  The ballpen I got from the concierge of Omni Marco Polo Hotel, the perfume sticks my mom got as we passed by a department store and asked me to smell, the beautiful jade earrings my mom bought for me, which I regretfully lost 7 years ago in my uncle’s van in Ohio and wisely never told my mom about, the dolphin keychain my mom bought me from Seaworld which I instantly loved so much but accidentally left on the tour bus which made me cry that night but happy the next day because our tour guide found it and gave it back, and of course that morning I woke up in a hotel for the first time and beside my pillow was my first Polly Pocket – in grandfather clock style, with a secret garden at the back.  Memories: it is both wonderful and painful to have them.  Often times, I think of what being away from home and all her memories, immediately after she died, means for me.  Is it helping me heal, or is it delaying it until the day it comes crashing down on me when I finally come home?  I continue to live, and I have so much to live for.  But at the back of my mind, I have to wonder.  I wonder, I wonder, and I wonder.  I wonder what it means to lose a mother.  I wonder if a mother is an earthly connection that I will still find in heaven.  I wonder if I am too young, or old enough, or even too old.  I wonder how I’ll know that I’ve moved on.

My mind strays off when I am in the middle of work.  Like a strange cat – one moment beside you, and the next moment somewhere impossibly far that you have to ask “how the hell did it get there so fast?”.  I think about the numerous times I let my mom down.  Like the time I got angry at her for the weird shirt she gave me for Christmas, and the time I got mad at her because she failed to congratulate me when I told her I passed the board exams but withheld the fact that I managed to get a top spot.  I think about how I made her wait on my 25th birthday for Skype, because I wanted to blow my candle and eat cake with my new friends.  And I think about the times she would look at me as I studied as she lied on her bed with her broken leg, often remarking “busy ang baby mag study” and me sometimes putting my things down to tell her in my baby voice “no” and going to her side, yet at times me just continuing and telling her “I’ll just finish this Inay, konti na lang”.  I think of the time I could not recognize her contorted face anymore, because of the pain and the drugs, and eventually because her heart stopped beating while I wasn’t beside her.

I think of Ama and Gab, and how they need me to be strong for them.  Yet I can do so little from here, and the reality is, I really cannot do much.  We try to ignore the subject whenever we talk.  Only permitting ourselves to verbalize missing Inay in textual correspondence – where it isn’t an obligation to reply to that thought.  Lingering on these thoughts are not really productive.  Even writing this isn’t.  I have a ton of things that I have to finish.  Yet I chose to stop and write.  Because I need to write this down and I want to write this down.  Because in writing it, I might find what escapes me every single day.  The fact that I look for her everywhere, but in truth, I have to accept that I will never find her.  She is in me, yet she is not.  It will never be the same.

The other day, as I was rushing walking down from the train station, I found my path blocked by a mother and her teenage daughter.  They we’re walking leisurely and occupying both lanes, and I came to an abrupt stop behind their backs because my pace was like that of the late white rabbit’s.  But I did not dare overtake them, instead I waited until the path finally opened somewhere where I could silently diverge out of the lane.  I did not want to break anything during that moment.  They we’re talking and smiling – seemingly after a day of shopping.  Their connected hands blocked my way, but I gave them the right to do so.  I realized it suddenly mattered to me: to protect any bond between mothers and daughters.  To give due respect and importance to these unknown sacred moments.  And though I didn’t cry, I watched them with slight envy.  Whenever I walk down the street, I have to prepare myself to see these images, and I have to be ready that they will always lightly open up a scar.

Another day, another week, and soon another month.  I’m afraid this longing will never stop.

dizzy (amended)

February 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

I was applying for a hostel place next year when I came upon the task of having to update the particulars of my “Next of Kin”.  It was my mother’s name glaring at me, and I couldn’t edit her name for some reason.  I stared at it for a bit, while remembering all of my other forms on which I have placed her name as well.  “Should I update those? Nah, not now.”  Putting her name on my “person to contact in case of emergency” was one of my security blankets in the past.  I always thought twice when I encountered that question.  And I always placed her name at the end of my second thought.  It was if by placing her name there, I was assured she would be there in the event of an emergency.  God, was I wrong.  And I knew I would be, some day.

I placed my brother’s email address instead for the contact details.  Ama doesn’t have (nor want) an email address.  The world feels a little bit colder when I think of my brother and my dad.  They’re the only 2 immediate family members I have left.  Even with just 1 difference, 3 felt a whole lot bigger.


On other news, I got a large envelope in the mail today! :) Thank you, Gale for the letter and the cute box! :) I immediately propped up the box and placed all my random small prints which we’re begging for a place to stay at for several weeks now.  My desk looks a lot cuter! :D  Thank you for taking the time to write to me.  I know you guys are busy there, and of course it means a whole lot you always take the time to send me things. :)  I wannaaaa go hoooome….soon!



(added Feb 20) Oooh, and I have to add, the next next day, these other lovely things came: :D :D :D

DSC_0777from Marge <3  It will take me some time to reply to this mail because I don’t want to rush it too.  But I really appreciated reading it  :)

from Angelica, all the way from Canada!!! <3 I loved everything in the package! I will definitely make time to read this book :)


It’s so hard to be a good person.  God, please give me the strength to bear with these things silently.


February 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I can’t decide if my title should be “valentine’s”, or “diy”, or “no valentine”. haha.  Anyway, I’ll settle with “hearts”.


I got home pretty tired awhile ago and so while eating my flavor of the week favorite sandwich: mustard, cucumber & cheese, I started playing with some envelopes using the new post-its I bought today.  (anything to get a break).  Then I started looking for “diy” posts in my Reader and found one post that made a heart mobile out of the pages of her Twilight novel.  It seemed pretty easy and fast to do so I started rummaging for the sewing kit I knew I had somewhere.  It took me a good 5 minutes to remember it was in one of the pockets of my luggage.  Then I got out the hoard of colored magazines I’ve collected and started making the heart mobile.  I got so into it that I made 4 mobiles, started my laundry, and did this blog, and now it’s almost 11 and I’m so dead tomorrow. :| But my room looks home-ier now. :) Inay loved to buy capiz mobiles.  I miss the one she gave me back home. :’)

hung them beside my window :) this actually gives me an idea for gifts.  no, no, no, must get back to serious mugging.

letter to heaven.3

February 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Dear Inay,

it will be 40 days since, on Saturday.

It seems both so fast and so slow.  Fast because I can’t believe you’ve been gone for more than a month.  And slow because I have to wonder how long this life will drag on before I see you again.  I’ve lined all my work areas with pictures of you.  Your face greets me whenever I check my phone, and of course my desktop has been regularly featuring all your beautiful photos.  The truth is I’m scared I’ll forget you, although that’s remotely possible.  But I’m scared that one day I’ll forget how your voice sounds, or how your touch feels, or how you’ve always looked into my eyes to tell me everything will be okay without needing as much as a word.  I’m scared I wont hear you in my head anymore, and I’ll forget all the important things you told me before.  This is how powerful memories are, and we are truly nothing without them.  But I’m slowly finding the strength to move on one step at a time.  Whenever I’m scared, I try to imagine what you’d tell me if you we’re here.  I read a quote somewhere how our parents’ way of talking to us becomes our inner voice.  I couldn’t agree more.  I’m lucky my inner voice will always be strong. :)  Please don’t stop talking to me.  I know I won’t.

If there’s anything that has made itself clear as of late, it’s that life really goes on whether you’re running ahead or falling behind.  Especially when you’re falling behind.  People continue to be happy, death doesn’t stop from getting more people, problems force their presence on you, the bills continue piling and the deadlines keep coming up.  I’m trying to catch up as fast as I can, but sometimes I have to stop and catch my breath.  It’s during those times that I think of you and I cry.  And the funny thing is, those moments make me feel both close and far from you.  Everything feels so ambivalent.  It’s amazing how I can experience the full spectrum in so many situations.  Sometimes I feel like it’s driving me crazy, but at the same time it’s what keeps me moving.  My brain is both racing and halting.  And the only thing steady is how much I miss you.

But it’s okay, don’t let me worry you.  I just have to keep doing these letters, even if they seem like borderline crazy at times.  You’ll never get to read them anyway.  But it helps me.  It lets me be sad somewhere else because I have to be happy and positive everywhere else.  And I want to be happy and positive.  Just like how you’d want me to live my life. :) I love you Inay, I’ll write to you again soon.


P.S. I told Tita Elena you’re probably there in Paris now.  :) I’ll go there one day like how you’ve always been forcing me to, I swear.  I’ll meet you under the Arc de Triomphe. :)

The Temper Trap – Everybody Leaves In the End

xin nian kuai le

February 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Chinese New Year in Singapore.  :)  The pictures are from Real Food Cafe, Clarke Quay & Chinatown.   Thank you to Swati for forcing me to go out on an outing to cheer myself up.  And to Jane for being the tour guide, to Liang for translating all the Chinese things, and to Chan for adding humor.

letter to heaven.2

January 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

Dear Inay,

So much has been happening lately.  Sometimes I can’t sleep at night and I can barely concentrate during the day.  I wish you we’re here, I miss you a lot.  I want need want to talk to you. :’(


conning subway

January 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Unfortunately, food therapy, like retail therapy, is very expensive.  I’ve been wanting to buy a Subway since last week, but the thought of the calories and the accompanying price helped stop me.  I gave in the other day though because Swati wanted to try it as well, so I watched the lady carefully how she crafted the expensive sandwiches.  I went to the grocery the next day to buy the necessary ingredients and was devastated that there weren’t any jalapenos.  I even went to 2 other groceries to check if they had it, but it seems like my only chance of finding it will be going to Cold Storage.  I started the project by making a Tuna Sandwich which, as a matter of fact, had tuna.  Then tonight I tried making an Egg Wrap, which looked pretty legitimate – until I tried to wrap it.  FAIL.  Kaya pala ang konti maglagay ni ate, hindi pala kaya i-wrap pag madaming laman. T_T

CYMERA_20140126_091006tuna, cheese, cucumbers, tomato, black olives, mayonnaise & mustard; yes, this is half-eaten

CYMERA_20140126_230803microwaved eggs massacred into mayonnaise and a heap of healthy flax seeds; (mental note: need to sneak out some salt and pepper from McDonald’s next time I pass by)

CYMERA_20140126_231806I made this at home because I thought they were stingy in the ingredients – turns out you can’t close the wrapper if you put in too many in the middle :(

In other news, I’m trying to perfect my ref cake. :) I adopted my mom’s recipe for the crust which includes graham crackers, brown sugar and butter.  Hindi nga lang ako makaget over na 150 pesos yung 30 pesos sa Pilipinas na graham crackers.  Don’t even start asking about how much Nestle cream is! :( I’ve tried using varying combinations and amounts of cream, cream cheese, yogurt and condensed milk for the white layer.  My subjects seem to very much approve. :)  I’ve made 7 of these already.  Next project: banoffee pie! :)

CYMERA_20140126_091111my first batch :) this one has peaches but I used kiwi for my latest batch because I didn’t have a freakin’ can opener for the can of peaches and Helen wasn’t home with her Swiss Army knife. :(

In all fairness to this time consuming diversion, I have gained a couple of insights regarding my experiments in the lab.  At first, I constantly found myself wishing that my experiment was as easy as this.  No need to measure, just intuition and a good sense of combining things and imagining the taste.  I don’t measure out anything when I cook.  However, I realized that doing wet lab experiments should actually be like cooking.  Sure, there are certain things that have to be followed.  But it isn’t as rigid as I’m treating it.  Protocols are just there to ensure repeatability, but an added decimal in the molarity wouldn’t always result to something different.  Well, that statement certainly cannot be qualified for all wet lab experiments, but it helped me get over my OCness in the lab which kind of paralyzes me at times.  So thank you to the kitchen, I feel renewed excitement to continue with my experiments.  Though I wish all the chemicals I’m dealing with were as benign as food.  I’d give anything to not have to worry about explosive and lethal powders under my nose. @_@


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