Dancing our culture away

Reading a status message of a friend and batch mate from high school on my news feed on Facebook disturbed me. 

It was a disappointed comment about the opening number performed by Sarah Geronimo in her weekly show, Sarah G. Live! aired last Sunday, 12 August 2012 on ABS-CBN (Channel 2, on UHF). Sarah danced Singkil, a Maranao cultural epic dance, while singing adaptations of a number of novelty songs. I wasn't able to see it live, but I was too alarmed that I had to search for it online and verify. True enough, the pop star was doing a "modernized" version of Singkil. (Watch the video here.)

I shared my friend's (who by the way spent and devoted years to various forms of dance) sentiment. I felt that in as much as I want to assume that the show was promoting Filipino culture, it went overboard that for me affected the integrity of Singkil.


As the water rises

For the past weeks, the Philippines have been experiencing strange and intense calamities.

On 1 August 2012, a storm surge during the onslaught of Typhoon Gener was experienced along the coasts of Manila Bay. This stretched from Roxas Boulevard in Manila to some towns of Cavite. Roxas Boulevard was left flooded and closed for traffic. Worse, tons of garbage were washed to shore as if the sea was spewing back to us the garbage we improperly threw away.

Skinfatuated ™ with VMV

Like a teener who blushes every time her crush's name is mentioned, I flush when I talk about VMV.  I giggle and I just talk non-stop about it. (My friends can attest to that.) No, VMV is not a pseudonym, it is a brand of skin care products.

I met VMV Hypoallergenics through a small blue box in Christmas of 2009. My best friend gave me an Id Buff-buff Clarifying soap to help erase my bacne (back acne). It worked, but I was nonchalant about it, because I wasn't very conscious about skin care then. 

Fast forward to January of 2011. While preparing for the 2010 Bar Examinations, I was plagued with acne due to stress. I never had as many breakouts my entire life and it sadly did not go away until VMV came to the rescue, just like a knight in shining armor. From then, our love affair blossomed that I want to spend the rest of my life with VMV. 


Birthday Project: 30 at 30. Thirty trees for thirty years.

Lately, we have been experiencing Mother Earth behaving like a bipolar or better yet having her seemingly "menopause' episodes, swinging for sunny to rainy then scorchingly hot the next minute. Sadly this is an effect of global warming. 

Next month, I will be celebrating a milestone birthday. I will be turning three-oh! :) A beginning of a new decade. A beginning of new adventures. I felt that instead of throwing a party or going on a trip, it is best to give back to Mother Earth so she can have few more additional decades to live. 

In cooperation with Haribon Foundation (in support of its Road to 2020 Project), I created the project which I call:  


MIlky and Sunny: Breakfast Lovin'!

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. More than the health benefits I get out of it and the comfort of the morning sun while eating, it's the food choice that I love the most. From tinapa to bacon to stacks of pancakes and corned beef, name it! I definitely love 'em. In fact, my obsession for breakfast made me want to have an all-day breakfast resto, which unfortunately to date is still at bay. 

In the mean time, I content myself in hopping from one breakfast resto to the other. I love the old Heaven and Eggs and Flapjacks. Of course, let us not forget the breakfast buffet in hotels. :) Yuumm!

Last month, I was able to visit a soooper interesting restaurant called Milky and Sunny. It prides itself as serving comfort food with a whole lot of lovin'. I have heard about it previously but I can't remember why I was not able to swing by and try it out. So, when my friend Mia and I (joined by Denise) had a day out, we decided to treat ourselves a brekky-dinner and give Milky and Sunny our verdict. Being breakfast food lovers, this resto must be ready. Here are some of the pieces of evidence: 

Upon entering the resto, this very bright wall will great you.
A super pretty blue, glass chandlier hangs right atop it.



People closest to me would know that I grew up with the nickname Pache. It was a morphed version of “Fache”, which was coined by my dad after annoyingly mixing “Fatima” and “Michelle” together. That came up because at five, I grew fond of the name Michelle after hearing the Beatles sang their song with the same title. I loved that song so much that I wanted to change my name to Michelle. Pache had another version: "Che", an abbreviation. 

I was named Ma. Fatima by my parents. Although an Arabic name which means "the shining one" and popularly known as Mohammad's daughter's name, my parents gave me the name Fatima because of a more Catholic reason. According to my mom, weeks before I was born, my dad dreamt of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who at one time appeared to three shepherds in Fatima, Portugal. Hence, the title Our Lady of Fatima. Being devout Catholics, they named me in her honor. Interestingly though, I stumbled upon an article in the internet that Fatima Zahra, daughter of Mohammad and Mary, mother of Jesus are likened to each other by the members of their respective faiths.  "Ma." was an abbreviated form of Maria, Spanish for Mary. 

In grade school, my classmates would call me Fatty no matter how thin I was, as it was conveniently the first two syllables of my name Fatima. But when I reached high school, a classmate started calling me Faith. Apparently, her cousin named Fatima was fondly called Faith in their family. Then, that name got stuck. 

I read and heard how a name affects the character of a person—precisely why elders would be very meticulous in giving names to newborns. We can recall how in fairy tales would the fairy godmothers hover around their godchild and giggly suggest names that reflect virtues which they feel would be something the kid would possess as he/she grows up. In the Catholic tradition, it was suggested that children would be named after saints so as they grow, they can learn to emulate their namesake. But with the evolution of more modern names, we somehow lose this tradition.

The Bible was also filled of etymologies and meanings of names. More interestingly though, was the changing of names when God ordains certain people for specific tasks. Jacob was renamed to Israel when he wrestled with God; Simon was renamed to Peter (meaning "rock") when Jesus entrusted to him the Church; and Saul, a prime critic of the Christians during the Early Christianity bore the name of a King in the Old Testament was changed to Paul (meaning "little") when he became Christian. Then, he learned the value of humility. The name change somehow suggest an entirely, huge change in the person. As if a new person was created and the old was gone.

In a conversation with a friend, I realized that perhaps, God allowed my nickname "Faith" to stick to remind me that I must bear the true meaning of my name. Through the years, I realized that I lack the ability to trust my talents, skills, choices--ultimately myself. This distrust led to a long line of stories of mistrust to people, poor judgment as to who to trust and fear of simply letting go. My friend, rightly put it: "You just got to embrace faith, Faith." More than faith as synonymous to trust, I knew it also meant I got to embrace the whole of who I am. No pretenses. No conditions. No expectations.

And perhaps, when I become successful in doing that, I will emerge to be that better and more brilliant person that God intended me to be. ♥ 


yet another paranormal experience

I had yet another paranormal experience last night. For quite a while now, I have been paranormal-free until this happened. 

I was sleeping on the couch in my friend, Angel’s (not her really name), living room which was against a wall with a large window. The property beside it was owned by a relative but was an empty space, more like a huge cemented parking lot. I cannot sleep but I thought it was because of the coffee we had after dinner. I was tossing back and forth until I had my back was against the wall. I started feeling that there was a man in white standing outside of the house, by the window. For a while, I ignored it, thinking perhaps it was my imagination working to entertain my very awake and bored self. Nevertheless, I felt that the seeming presence behind me was growing its intensity. Surely, it was making itself felt and noticed. His presence was still, but very commanding. I felt that he was just standing still but his eyes were scanning the whole living room as if diligently and carefully searching for something—or yet someone. However, no matter how pervasive his presence was, I somehow felt he did not meant any harm. Still, I hid myself under the sheets as if it can protect me. Then thoughts started to freely pour in my mind. He revealed himself as a man—a father, looking for his daughter. At this, I immediately interrupted the gush of thoughts and emotions. I learned from a priest-mentor that sensitive people should not communicate with spirits but in times of intense sensitivity, pray and call unto Jesus. I prayed but I still woke up Cris (not her real name), my partner and sister of my Angel, who was sleeping beside me. She too has paranormal sensitivity. By just looking at me, she knew something was wrong. She instantly pulled me up and warned me not to tell her anything. She said we’ll talk about it in the morning as we walk up to the second floor of the house. We decided to sleep beside her nieces, Angel’s daughters.  

I was filled with fear. Something of an oddly different kind. I asked myself why in the world I would encounter something like this. I was checking my internal condition as I repeatedly say formula prayers beneath my breath. I asked Jesus to stand in the gap between me and the spirit—whatever it was. I prayed that if in any case he was a disturbed soul of a departed may God’s peace be with him. Finally, I fell into sleep. 

In the morning, Angel asked us why we transferred from the couch to the room. With goose bumps, I told her what happened the previous night. She had her conclusions of who the man could be and why he was there. Apparently, he must be a deceased member of his husband’s family coming with a very urgent purpose. 

I was a bit relieved telling her the story but at the same time, freaked out of how the message can turn out to be. But at the end of it all, I knew that this experience was greatly used by God to awaken my seemingly sleeping faith. The fear was so overwhelming that I knew only God’s love can conquer and no matter how bleak the possibilities of that encounter may be, hope abounded that it can allow reconciliation, faith and love to settle in her husband’s family. I was also reminded of God’s omnipotence—that it is him alone that has the power over all forces. 

This noon, I decided to hear mass and offer it to the soul of that deceased person. I also prayed for those whom he left here on earth. Whether he was really coming back for whatever purpose, I felt that offering prayers for the eternal repose of his soul will surely help. I know God is in control and there is nothing to fear. 


Pipino, where healthy meets delicious


Last Saturday, Denise and I visited Pipino, a vegetarian restaurant owned by Alessadra Lanot, a vegan herself. I have been following her blog, Life After Breakfast for sometime now and that is where I found out about Pipino. I have always wanted to try going vegetarian but the thought of losing the delight of having the mixture of flavor in my mouth, makes me think twice. The write ups about Pipino assured to "bridge healthy AND delicious". THAT interested me and so,  I promised myself that I will visit and try Pipino out.

After my visit to my endocrinologist's clinic at NKTI, I thought of swinging by Pipino which is just a few blocks away and have lunch there. On our way, I felt like a giddy child waiting to open her Christmas present. After roughly 3 minutes on cab, there we were. 

Pipino's Facade

Pipino is part of the Pino Group who also owned Pino Resto Bar. I supposed that since they are in the same location, you can order from both menus. This was a little of a concern because Denise is not very much fond of the vegetarian food. 

Upon entering the restaurant, this wall art greeted us:

Then, a server came to our table and promptly gave us two menus, one of Pipino and the other is Pino's. I concentrated on Pipino's since that was what I really came there for. Besides, my doctor advised me to cut down on meat. I was given a weight goal until our next scheduled check up. 

Menu is also available at
I ordered the Soup for the Day and since it was Saturday, they serve Vegetable Soup and for the Entree, I ordered Piniritong Talong with Adobong Kangkong and Brown Rice. For my drinks, I had a huge glass of Pino Iced Tea. Denise, on the other hand ordered from Pino, Miso Soup and Seafood Kare-Kare.

Saturday Soup for the Day: Vegetable Soup
My soup was served immediately. It was all green and mushy. I figure that it must be some green vegetables crushed in a food processor and was served with a few noodles. I enjoyed it but was careful to fill myself up. My main course was yet to be served.

Pritong Talong at Adobong Kangkong with Brown Rice
Pipino delivered as promised: healthy can be delicious. Eating my kangkong and talong did not in anyway made me feel that I was missing on meat. The slices of mango and cherry tomatoes on the side somehow break the flavor.  

Miso Soup
 The miso soup was interesting but was a bit salty though. 

Seafood Kare-Kare
The kare-kare sauce was a little sweet (I prefer it just peanut-y) but it was ok. Good paired with Miso. they did not serve bagoong though. Denise liked it and being a cook herself I can say she was satisfied.

We skipped on dessert because my tummy wasn't really ok that time. But we'll definitely come back. :)

Cuisine: Filipino
Rating: 8
Price: 8

Pipino Vegetarian Restaurant
39 Malingap St. Teacher's Village, Quezon City 


somebody just moved in

On board an orange “Jeep ni Erap”, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada moved residence from Greenhills, San Juan to Sta. Mesa, Manila, yesterday, 09 May 2012, in preparation for next year's midterm elections. The Local Government Code of 1991 requires for at least one (1) year residency preceding the day of election.  Without reservations, Erap indeed expressed his intention of running for the mayoralty post but claimed that he will be serving for one term only. With sentimentality, he said in the news report that he wanted to end his political career by serving the city where he was born. Erap was born in Tondo, Manila.
photo courtesy of
As a resident of Manila for all my life, I am very much concerned as to who will head the affairs of this city. For 30 years, I have witnessed how Manila lost its luster to the more modern cities like Makati and Quezon City. It felt that the perennial problems of this city such as peace and order, flood, and traffic, have worsened through the years. 

 I am ambivalent with Erap’s move. Perhaps, this is because I personally wished to live in San Juan as it gave me a sense of peace and security and I wonder if Erap can do the same to Manila as if he can pull out a magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust all over the city and make everything brand new. On the other hand, I have reservations knowing that several years ago, I went out into the streets to have him ousted as President. Yet, I wonder why does it feel that my gut is telling me he is fit for this job. Hmm… Perhaps I will vote for him. Or perhaps not. 

This is exciting.


on cats

I always wanted to have a dog but my first pet was a cat. I remember how my aunt insisted that I bring home one of the kittens that her cat gave birth to. She was a tiny, orange ball of fur when they placed her in a piece of cloth. Papa and I took her home. When asked what her name would be, the first thing that came to mind was 'Muning'. Perhaps the kindergarten books that I read influenced me too much. I once tried to bathe her, but I was told that cats don't take a bath and if they do, they die.  So, Muning grew up smelly. I wasn't too fond of her though but I would make sure she eats well everyday. I remember saving the fish bones whenever I eat so she'll have something to eat too. My uncle who was then living with us had a poodle and I would  fight with him whenever the dog would bully my kitty-cat. 

Muning caused the household to smell foul so my yaya and my uncle set up a plot of misleading her so she won't come home. According to them, cats have this ability of finding their way back home even if you try to lose them. So, you have to sort of confuse them by leading them to unfamiliar places just so they won't return. My Muning was tough! She was able to find her way home! :) I was so proud of her that time. Though, at the second attempt, Muning failed to come home.  I wasn't sure if they left her roaming on the streets or they gave her away. Nonetheless, I was really sad and angry. After several hours of sulking, I just had to wish that she'll find a better place for her and her future family.

After her, it only took care of a few hamsters and rabbits. (I will write another entry about the rabbits. :)) Taking care of animals is like taking care of your children. You have to feed them, clean them and their cages and somehow, adapt to their "language" so you'll know what they need or try to say. But the joy they bring is awesome. Somehow, my little pets remove the stress from me.


This morning, I read an article online about a boy who is charged for animal cruelty. Jerzon Senador caught the ire of the netizens when he posted a photo of his puppy pinned on a clothesline last year.  This year, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) initiated a complaint against him for violating Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act.  Section 6 of the law states that "it shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal." A warrant of arrest was issued and served against him but his whereabouts cannot be found as of the moment, according to the article.

photo courtesy of PAWS through
Perhaps Jerzon found it cute to play with his puppy this way, yet since animal rights advocacy has grown active in our country in the recent years, his seeming playfulness was not approved of. I am happy to know that laws like this are implemented and reaches its purpose. In fact, in May 2011, the Quezon City Trial Court convicted a Joseph Candare, a UP college student, for killing a cat who has been roaming around the campus. Candare was fined with 1,000 and made to do volunteer work with PAWS. (GMANews) It's a good thing though that the Filipinos are becoming more aware and responsible for life--including that of animals. More than being civilized as it appears to be, I would rather say that we are becoming more human--that is we are learning to respect the circle of life.


There is glory in agony

I went through my blog and have read a number of entries talking about my law school life, the bar exams and my ardent desire to become a lawyer. I guess, it is really something that my inner self has always cried for. Unfortunately, two attempts didn't prove my efforts to be enough to have my name listed in the Roll of Attorneys. Truth be told, I am getting discouraged and weary. The journey of getting my four-letter title is getting too long and arduous. But I guess this proves that the measure of how much one wants something is the inextinguishable desire to stand up after every fall and the resilience to do whatever it takes just so to reach the goal.

A conversation I recently had with my mom revealed much wisdom to my seeming mishaps. She said, "Wag kang panghinaan ng loob. Tingnan mo na lang ang mga pagsubok na ito na paraan ng Diyos na ipakita sa’yo ang mga bagay na kailangan mong baguhin. Makikita mo, lalabas din ang kalooban ng Diyos sa buhay mo. Alam ko kapag nakalagpas ka dito, mabubuhay ka na sa tunay na success.” (Do not be discouraged. Look at these obstacles as God's way of revealing your weaknesses--things you need to work on. By that, you'll realize the deeper purpose of your life. I know that after you get past this, you'll burst into your way to true success). I have been hearing these words faintly in my heart, but my mom spoke it exactly as I needed to hear. Her words were like a gentle blow of wind that fired my frightened spirit. Isn’t it wonderful how God created parents to really support and guide? In these very rare occasions, I heard my mom speak and her words brought much peace in me. 

For the first time in prayer, I thanked God for the trial and suffering while I was going through it. Normally, I will thank him after, when I have finally got the lesson that the trial wanted to teach me. It’s different now, perhaps, because of the grace of faith that things will surely be better after this. Now, I see glory in agony. My journey to months of toiling for the Bar is beginning once again. With renewed hope, I will embrace each day with extra ounces of commitment, responsibility and passion. For whatever is in store at the end of this road, I open myself to the surprise that awaits—and for whatever it may be, I will wholeheartedly accept. 


The lessons of the floods in Espana

Today, I attended my sister's college graduation in UST. I guess, this will be the last time that we will be attending graduations in the family since she's already the youngest of the brood. It was held in the newly constructed gymnasium near Espana gate. It was a drizzling when we entered the University campus. A sudden breath of nostalgia hit me. Rain and UST. Sigh. I tried not to bother.

Rites and traditions filled the commencement exercise, and I realized why UST made sure that traditions are always present. I guess, amid the ever changing things, these are the only things that bind generations of Thomasians together.

The representative of the University in the conferring the degrees was a priest that was close to my heart, a friend-- Fr. Deng Dela Cruz, OP. Memories and conversations quickly passed in my mind. I smiled inside. In his address to the students, he posed the question "Who is a Thomasian?" 

As a graduate myself, I tried to search for answers in my head. Of course, what came to mind was the "staple" answer of being a 3C--Competent, Committed and Compassionate human being. Yes, he did mention that but first tickled everyone by enumerating trivial characteristics of a Thomasian like eating Mang Tomas ice cream and being stranded during rainy seasons. UST must come up with a compilation of short stories from each student new and old about their personal experiences with rains and floods. Little did we realize that this seemingly annoying and peculiar mishap of Thomasians shaped our distinct character as individuals.

He vividly pictured how each of us would prepare greatly for anything (an event or an exam) but once a dark cloud comes across the sky with the threat of heavy rains, we forget of how much we have toiled but merely succumbed to prayer and humbly ask God for mercy for the rain not to harm us. It is then we realize that after pouring in excellence, in the end, God is still is in control. Hence, our humility in prayer is what defined each of us as Thomasians.

Hearing this humbled me greatly. It was a little reminder that as a Thomasian with roots deeply planted, I have to live by the lessons of the floods in Espana.

He sent off the Neo-Centennial batch (They are called such since this year is the beginning of a new century for UST after it celebrated its 400 years last 2011) with a reminder of the prayer we say in our UST hymn. We say, "Keep us in beauty...." He said that beauty comes from vigor which comes from a sense of mission. Without the sense of mission, we lose our vigor then we lose our beauty. UST remains beautifully standing through 400 years because it never lost its purpose. I guess, it was a timely reminder for me to go back to my purpose as I head on new challenges in life. With a sense of purpose armed with the lessons of humility in prayer, each Thomasian will definitely not fail to be competent, committed and compassionate as we go live in the real world far from the streets of Espana.


A video was created by some students for this graduating batch and I want to share it with you. Salamat sa pagmamahal, UST!

Bakit Mo Mahal Ang UST? 

Music and Lyrics: Patrick Henry Castañeda
Director: Karla Mides Toledo
Musical Arrangement: Roman Gerard Enguerro,
Vocals: Maia Marasigan, Jasper John Jimenez, Patrick Henry Castañeda
Musical Score: Tonton Africa


no gadget day

Today is a totally weird day. 

Less gadgets, less worries. Hahaha! 

Yesterday, during midday, a thief broke into our house and unfortunately was successful in taking my laptop. It was an 18-inch, orange, Toshiba laptop. A hand-me-down from my mom but still very much working. As of press time, I still haven't told my mom what happened. Hopefully, by tonight when I get home I can fetch my mobile phone and call her.

See, it was really a less tech-y for me. I accidentally left my phone at home while I left it charging. (No worries, I have already asked my sister to unplug it, to keep the house from burning this time Apparently, I did not plug it in its usual socket so when I checked in that area this morning and did not find anything, I thought I was all set for work. Hahaha! Funny how our brain works sometimes and how it tricks us! 

I bet I will be surprised on how many missed calls are registered on my call log and messages will be there later. 

Without all of these gadgets, I feel different. As if extensions of myself are lopped off. Well, in truth, I still function and breathe! I still get to communicate with people who matters, although, I guess, I have to go use more primitive technology like the land line phone and email. What enjoyed though was the peace and seeming break from incessant text messaging and phone calls. (Sorry, friends! Hehe!) I remembered how much I wanted to switch off my mobile phone but always hesitated because of "important" calls I might miss. Today, it felt that communication is more valuable when intended rather than senseless "necessity" to keep in touch.

Today surely felt weird...but surely good. :)

first fourth

It feels like my creativity to write is running on a dry spell.

It was only this morning that I checked my blog once again and noticed that I have not been writing anything for almost three months now. Yes, there were a lot that happened for the past weeks that I have failed to journal them. I guess, the lack of time to reflect also brought the seeming drought of colorful words on this blank screen.

In a quick rundown, I have took on new challenges, surrendered to life's surprises, fallen in love, stayed in love, learned to embrace and accept human frailties, finally let go and clinched to move forward.The first quarter of this year is filled with fun and adventure.

Now, after the dust have settled and the tides have calmed, I can see a clearer horizon. My vision is crystal and more pinpoint...and I am ready to create new things ahead of me. :)


Hello, 2012!

I kissed 2011 goodbye with a grateful heart. It taught me a lot about courage, acceptance and trust. 2011 allowed me to welcome love again in my life. Now, as I begin with this new page of the book of my life, I cannot help but get giddy over what I'll write on each chapter. 

Let me begin with this note:

Dear 2012, 

Hello! I have a strong feeling that we'll make good experiences together. I am sure we'll welcome love, joy and adventure in greater portions. We'll meet new people, explore new places, overcome greater challenges, fulfill bigger dreams, and grow leaps higher. Let's make sure we'll fill each day with much laughter and fun! Help me become more of who I really am. :)

In case, life can be a little rough, please help me tough. Let me seek support from trusted and loving people. And when this people turn to be a little out of weather too, may I learn how to be patient and forgiving too. Guess, that's just how life is lived, right?

This year, let's take each other's hands and make it happen! I am just so excited! :)