zigzags and circles

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For a lot of people–myself included–my life has taken an unexpected detour this past month. 

Despite being a graduate of Public Administration, I’ve never done administrative work (except for that month-long internship back in college).  Heck, I’ve never even had an 8-to-5 job! 

But here I am with a Position Description Form that clearly states my administrative position and the duties and responsibilities that come with it.

I’ve done a lot of writing before but never the sort of writing that my current job entails.  And I must admit that I’ve felt like fish out of water on several occasions. 

My most recent assignment even gave me nightmares for three nights in a row!  Inception-type nightmares where I’m in the office drafting the policy proposal and I wake up and find myself still in the office still writing the darn proposal and I wake up again but I’m still there!  It happens about four times before I finally wake up and find myself in bed–with my laptop and the outline of the policy proposal beside me.

I finally finished the darn thing yesterday and it seems like a massive boulder has been lifted from my shoulders.

I have two new policy proposal assignments lined up but I no longer feel like I’m in over my head.

My so-called zigzag alignment has often been a point of contention (sometimes even a deal breaker) for the powers that be.  But here, everything I’ve learned from the various fields I’ve delved into all come together.  And contrary to what some people think, my brain gets full mileage.

So while I feel that I’ve ventured into uncharted territory, I also feel that things have somehow come full circle.  That I haven’t really strayed at all.

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when it rains, it pours

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Some days just suck.

I should’ve known from the way things were going when the clock struck twelve that today was going to be one of those days.

I tried to channel that glass half-full schtick but it just wouldn’t stick.  I also tried looking for that proverbial silver lining but all I could find was a sky full of rain clouds.

I did get a few minutes of peace and I momentarily forgot about how awfully things were going.  But just when I thought the worst was over–BAM!–another mishap hit me smack in the face.  It was as if the Universe was saying, “Ha! I’m not done with you just yet!”

And sure enough, things came gleefully crashing down.  Like dominoes.  One after the other.

As if that wasn’t enough, a torrential downpour began to fall.  I wanted to shake my fist and yell, “That’s right!  When it rains, it pours!  Very punny, Universe. Very punny.”

episode 2 of the fruh sessions

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Just three days after my first visit, I  went back to The Fruh Cafe–this time with my fellow foodie and one-time basil supplier, Kat.  She ordered a banana and hazelnut crepe while I went with a chocolate crepe.

We couldn’t help oohing and aahing when Kat’s order arrived.  It just looked so… dramatic.  I didn’t get to taste it but Kat enjoyed it so it must be good.

060514 03Banana and Hazelnut Crepe (P59)

My chocolate crepe didn’t look as visually arresting.  It came with chocolate wafer sticks and marshmallows though.  And I couldn’t help grinning and feeling like a kid while eating it.

chocolate crepeChocolate Crepe (P55)

Even though we were no longer hungry, we decided to try the BonChon Style Chicken.  Curiosity won over non-hunger, I guess.  That decision was hands down the best one we made that day because man oh man was the chicken good!  It was so tasty, we couldn’t stop raving about it the entire time we were eating!

060514 04BonChon Style Chicken (P89)

I enjoyed the chicken so much, I ordered the BonChon Style Chicken in a Basket the following day.

Yes, it’s that good.

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The Fruh Cafe is located at A. Bonifacio Ave., Tibanga, Iligan City (near MSU-IIT, beside Triple M Sales).

episode 1 of the fruh sessions

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episode 1 of the fruh sessions

I don’t know if it was the hipstery signage or the name of the place but something drew me to The Fruh Cafe the first time I passed by it.  The building looked pretty much non-descript from outside but it somehow evoked images of Maginhawa Street in my head.  I just had a good feeling about the place.

I asked several people about it but no one seemed to know of its existence.  I never got around to visiting it either–up until this month when I saw pictures of my cousin-in-law modeling for the cafe.  I found a link to Fruh’s Facebook page and discovered that it was a creperie/coffee shop.  The photos of the food looked enticing so I decided to give it a go.

We both ordered pasta.  Shrimp aglio e olio for him and seafood pasta for me.  To our delight, the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente (it’s something that’s very basic to cooking pasta but sadly, most people fail to get it right).  They were very generous with the herbs (yey!) but not so with the seafood.  Both dishes were pretty cheap (P65 for the aglio e olio and P95 for the seafood pasta) so I guess I can’t really blame them.  Most places charge double the price yet they’re only ahead by a single piece of shrimp or a slice of squid.

 060514 05Shrimp Aglio E Olio (P65)

fruh seafood pastaSeafood Pasta (P95)

For the little one, we ordered some ham and cheese crepes.  Unfortunately, he refused to eat it.  He hated the thousand island dressing drizzled on top.  I guess I should’ve ordered one of the sweet crepes for him instead.

060514 06Ham and Cheese Crepes

For dessert, we decided to try the mango crepe rolls.  While Ice Factory’s mango crepe only had slivers of mango in it, this one had big chunks of mango wrapped in crepe.  Ooh la la!  I had an issue with the texture of the vanilla ice cream though.  It wasn’t velvety smooth.  It must’ve been refrozen after it had already melted, hence the presence of ice crystals.  But still, it was a pretty good eat.

fruh mango crepeMango Crepe Rolls

I enjoyed eating there so much, I went back just three days later.  Stay tuned for Episode 2. 😀

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The Fruh Cafe is located at A. Bonifacio Ave., Tibanga, Iligan City (near MSU-IIT, beside Triple M Sales).

to the moon and back

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After a long and tiring day, we went out to find a place where we could just chill out.  We had already eaten dinner at the pad so we only wanted to have some dessert.

I had done a bit of research prior to the trip and several people recommended the halo-halo from North Pole and the cakes at Carmela’s so we decided to go check them out.  Unfortunately, both North Pole and Carmela’s were closed at the time because of the scheduled four-hour power outage in the area.

And so we went to Mooon Cafe instead.  They only had one dessert on the menu: halo-halo.  I was in the mood for something fancy schmancy so I was a bit dismayed by the lack of options.

But when the halo-halo arrived, all traces of disappointment disappeared.  The texture of the crushed ice was velvety smooth and they were very generous with the ingredients.  They didn’t scrimp on anything!  Ube ice cream.  Macapuno.  Langka.  Leche flan.  Nata de coco.  Kaong.  Cornflakes.  No beans.  No monggo.  I loved how it was just the good stuff.

051014 mooon halohalo bKilig-inducing halo-halo (P65)

It was so good, it made me giddy.  At one point, I even exclaimed, “Maka-kilig lagi ni na halo-halo ay!”

The halo-halo from Razon’s had nothing on this baby.

This halo-halo was by far the best I’d ever had.  It was even better than my forever favorite Ice Blink halo-halo from Bicol!

Since we were at a Mexican-inspired restaurant, we also ordered something from the Mexican Mooon section of the menu.  We just wanted something light so we had Campesinos, crispy flour tortilla chips layered with cheese and tender beef fillings, topped with melted cheese and spiced paprika.

051014 mooon campesinosCampesinos (P125)

The tortilla chips had a really nice texture and the paprika was a really nice twist.  We thoroughly enjoyed this dish and it gave us some ideas on what to do with the flour tortillas sitting in the fridge at home.

We had a really wonderful time and we left with wide grins, full tummies, and joyful hearts.

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Mooon Cafe
Rizal Avenue, Ozamiz City
(088) 564-2622

mooon cafe*Mooon Cafe also has branches in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Dumaguete, Ilolilo, Davao, and Ormoc.

tidbits of thought

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It was the day before Day Zero.  I hadn’t had any sleep and I had just spent half the afternoon standing in line at the bus terminal.  I breathed a sigh of relief and sank into my seat.

“Finally, some much-needed shut-eye!” I almost said out loud.

But then I realized that I was seated next to some random guy so I clutched my backpack and leaned my head against the window instead.  A conversation with a stranger was the last thing I wanted.

Every muscle in my body was sore and my eyelids felt like lead.  I looked out the window at the heavy traffic and giant billboards.

“Hello, Manila.  We meet again,” I whispered as I half-smiled.

It wasn’t long after that I found myself weaving in and out of consciousness.

Although I was in a stupor for a good part of the trip, I did have moments of alacrity.  Whenever I would find something interesting, I would scribble on my imaginary notepad and take snapshots with the camera in my head.

Tidbit No. 1: Juxtaposition and Ambivalence
Tall buildings are a dime a dozen in Metro Manila but one particular building managed to stand out: a high-rise building that seemed to be in limbo.  It looked half-unfinished but also half-abandoned.  It was like seeing the beginning and the end all at once.

Something about its ambivalence stirred something in me.

Tidbit No. 2: Different Strokes for Different Folks
Like in most places, houses and buildings gave way to increasing stretches of green as we moved farther and farther away from the metropolis.  I couldn’t help oohing and aahing over the sheer variety of trees that dotted the landscape.  I imagined painting them, using a certain type of brush stroke for each type of tree.

Tidbit No. 3: The Desolation of SCTEX
But what I found even more riveting were those pockets of petrified land in the midst of all the greenery.  It was as if some maniacal sorcerer on a dragon haphazardly threw down balls of fire, scorching patches of grass.  Leaving behind nothing but shriveled remnants of shrubs standing in mute horror and seemingly delicate magenta flowers clinging onto the branches in defiance.

Tidbit No.4: Sea of Devastation
Those little pockets of desolation along SCTEX, however, paled in comparison to the river of lahar in Porac.  I could only imagine the terror the people of Pampanga must have felt when Mt. Pinatubo erupted all those years ago.  My college roommates’ stories came rushing back to me as I stared in awe at the lahar flow.

My reminiscence of these borrowed memories, however, was interrupted by the high school kids behind me.

“What a weird-looking sea!” they exclaimed.

I honestly didn’t know whether I should be amused or mortified.

“That’s lahar,” I couldn’t help saying.

Their eyes grew wide for a moment and they nodded in comprehension.

Although these kids initially had no cognizance of lahar, they were still in a way correct.  This may be a river of lahar but it could just as well be a sea.

A sea of devastation, that is.

a-hunting we will go

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One of my favorite childhood memories was the annual Easter egg hunt my cousins and I used to have.  Our parents would boil dozens of eggs and we would all gather together and color them on the eve of Easter Sunday.

At sunrise the following day, our parents would hide the eggs in my grandmother’s garden then wake us up and we would all run around in our pajamas looking for the eggs.

Although I never ended up with the most number of eggs, I always found it to be such a wonderful experience.  So when I became a mom, it was one of the first things I placed on my to-do list.  Although my son was just a year old last year, I decided to give it a go.  I let him paint two eggs and go on an egg hunt.

We did the same thing this year but I added one more egg.  A lot of our art supplies were missing so I had to make do with what I could find.  The little one didn’t seem to mind though.  He was completely stoked about painting the eggs.  He did a pretty good job, didn’t he?

fresh from the oven

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“Why don’t you go check?” said my dad as we pulled up in front of the tiny store near the bus stop.

It was scorching hot but I got out of the car anyway and ran excitedly to the lady at the counter.

“Sorry, it’s not yet available,” she said.

My heart sank and I turned to walk away.  I had only taken two steps when the guy in the kitchen suddenly called out, “Wait! It’s almost done!”

Huzzah!  I wanted to do cartwheels right there and then.

After a minute or so, I walked out of the store carrying two bags of bibingka (a type of Filipino rice cake) that had just come straight from the oven.

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Everyone in the car was just as excited as I was.  We all wanted to gobble up the bibingka right away but they were still piping hot.  We had to wait until we reached the next town so we wouldn’t end up with burned hands and tongues.

They were definitely worth the wait though.  They were so good, I couldn’t help thinking, “With bibingka as yummy and fluffy as these, who needs toppings?”

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*Available at the store in front of the bus/shuttle stop near Laguindingan Airport at P10 apiece

fare thee well

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When my sister was a little girl, she and my grandfather planted an avocado seed in our front yard.  It grew and grew and after many years, it finally bore fruit.  The avocado from that tree was the creamiest we had ever tasted.  It wasn’t hairy or bitter like most avocado fruits sold in the market.

We loved that tree dearly.  Not only because it produced the best-tasting fruit, but more importantly because it was my sister and my grandfather who planted it.  We worried about it incessantly during typhoons.  It was the first thing we checked as soon as the sky cleared up.

We found out fairly recently that the avocado tree was actually planted out of bounds.  We hoped the owners of the adjacent lot wouldn’t cut it down when they start construction.  We were assured it wouldn’t be touched.

So imagine my consternation when I went outside one day and saw one of the construction workers cutting down about half of the tree.  I was ready to raise hell then.  But they told me they were just lopping off a few branches.  They weren’t going to chop down the whole tree.

The avocado tree had five fruits then.  It produced a lot of blossoms after that.  It seemed as if it was pleading its case.

“Look, I’m going to bear much fruit! Please don’t cut me down!”

Every single day, I would sit on the balcony and marvel at the sheer number of blossoms and how big the fruits were getting.

“They’ll be ripe soon.”

“The avocado will be ready in about a week.”

“Just in time for your sister’s arrival.”

We all monitored the fruits’ progress.  I guess we all had that fear that we would wake up one day and find that the tree had been chopped down.

I never thought it would be today.

My dad had just got back from an errand when he burst in and said, “They’re chopping it down!”

I immediately ran outside and saw the construction workers mercilessly butchering our beloved tree.

“The roots are in the way,” they said.

But they could’ve warned us.  Our attachment to the tree wasn’t a secret.  We declared how important that tree was to us.  The least the owners of the lot could have done was tell us that they were chopping it down.

We could’ve at least taken a picture of our beloved avocado tree with all its blossoms and fruits.

We could’ve at least said good-bye.