Indio Bravo: The Life of Jose Rizal

Indio Bravo: The Life of Jose Rizal is written by Asuncion Lopez-Rizal Bantug with Sylvia Mendez Ventura and illustrated by BenCab. It aims to introduce young people to Jose Rizal and provide an intimate narrative about his life. It is published by Tahanan Books for Young Readers. Rizal scholar Ambeth Ocampo, the National Historical Institute, National Centennial Commission, the Spanish and German Embassies of Manila are also credited for their assistance in making the book.

Mom bought our copy when we went to visit Rizal’s house in Dapitan City many years ago. Tahanan Books doesn’t seem to have it on their website. If all else fails, it’s also available on Amazon.


How is it possible to get tearyeyed just by reading the first chapters? Of course I indulged  in reading about Jose’s love life especially his long distance drama with Leonor Rivera. I thought it would take me a week to finish. It’s only 158 pages but I haven’t read in a really really long while (coz life/stress/work). Tamad kaayo ko mubasa. -_-

I just finished it (quicker than I expected). I’m writing this post in a bubble tea cafe that my sister and I frequent. When I read the last few chapters, my tears fell uncontrollably (as in ugly cry T_T). Wo Meimei didn’t know what to do with me. Hehehe.


Study should be a thing of love and joy; the primer not a black book bathed in the tears of childhood, but a friend who is going to reveal wonderful secrets; and the schoolroom not a place of sorrows, but a scene of intellectual refreshment. -from Noli Me Tangere

Most Filipinos know Jose Rizal because he is our national hero but apart from the required course in university, I don’t remember being taught a lot about his life at school. I was lucky to have Sir Nilo Ocampo as my PI 100 professor. He loved Rizal and it was in his class that I started to know a bit more. A recent trip to Madrid also gave me the inspiration to revisit Philippine history. I feel like man, I don’t know a thing. So here I am going back to the past to make sense of the present.

Thank you Jose Rizal. Ok tears again… (T_T)





Pinoy Leading Men, A Review-ish

Don’t Give Popoy A Chance

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a long while. About 7 months ago, I re-watched One More Chance with my sister and our friend, A. A mentioned how the leading man’s character, Popoy (played by John Lloyd) was the type your mom warns you about. He might have said that of most Pinoy leading men characters and not just Popoy’s.

In the course of watching One More Chance for the 3rd time I found myself annoyed with Popoy’s character. Basha could have moved on and found someone less controlling and oblivious. The tipping point for A and my sister (and that break up part of the movie) was when Popoy separated the fried chicken skin from the meat, not allowing Basha to eat it. Okay, concerned lang. Isn’t it nice of him to think of her health? Uhm yah but nah. That’s a good thing in a partner when he/she looks after you and helps you shape up. In this case, Popoy the character merely directs and decides for Basha (ie. he changes Basha’s presentation at work without her knowledge).


Of course people have flaws and so should the characters but this particular leading man lacked a redeeming quality. My sister mentioned that Popoy never even realizes why Basha broke up with him. He (though understandably) gets broken and goes on a downward spiral when they break up. Then he gets better after a while, “moving on” when he meets another girl only to fall for Basha again. Throughout the movie, I still do not feel any sympathy for Popoy and rather than being endeared to his character, I am still annoyed as ever.


Same Old, Same Old

I haven’t watched the sequel so I can’t speak about that. Considering One More Chance is an “old” movie and there have been countless romcoms that came after so I think that there’s hope for the Pinoy leading man. Always Be My Maybe was promising and it had so many good things. Yet once again I couldn’t find sympathy for Jake (played by Gerald Anderson). Supposedly, a playboy who eventually wanted to settle down with his girlfriend. Then his girlfriend would have none of it, he was too late and she’s over him so he’s this guy with hurt feelings. I mean I don’t know if I can believe that a player suddenly wants to be serious.

He’s such a typical bro. He works in his dad’s business but is dreaming to be a photographer. Okay good, I just need more depth. Just need to know more about this cookie-cutter pogi dude who seems like every Manileño.


Where Art The Leading Men?

I have to say though leading men are kind of improving. Everyone seems to love the Jadine team. I do too! Heehee. But I haven’t been religious in watching anything except for the first few episodes of OTWOL. Series have the upper hand over movies it seems when it comes to character development. Totally different format and you can show all sorts of things and reasons why this character is so and so. Might not be fair to say Clark’s character had more depth compared to Popoy’ and Jake’s because there were more chances to get to know Clark.

Yet I think it could still work. Case in point was this Kathniel movie, Crazy Beautiful You. Daniel Padilla’s character Kiko was actually very well thought of. Of course it had a tacky cheesy ending but in terms of the leading man’s character, I felt like I was more involved and that I really liked the guy. The responsible anak-sa-labas ng mayor who has to clean up after his feeling-dalaga irresponsible mom. But then he was still funny and quite endearing.


Anyway I am looking forward to watching Jodie’s movie Achy Breaky Hearts because I will get to know 2 leading men instead of 1. I’m expecting that these characters are more multi-dimensional. Or I could be biased. (Showing in Vancouver International Village Jul 8-21!!! I was not paid to promote this. I have no followers and I have yet to watch it. Haha.)


Anyway I still look forward to better characters in our Pinoy leading men. Whatever socio-economic class their character is in I hope the personality shines through. If the guy is poor, can he not be this generic poor guy? If he’s rich, can he not be this generic rich guy who stands to inherit his family’s hacienda or something?

Mahalin Ang Sariling Atin

One of my tags for this entry is #jologsmoment but in reality, I think Pinoys can aspire to make better movies and improve on the highly snubbed genre of romcoms. I kind of feel sorry for those Pinoys who automatically dismiss Pinoy movies. I mean yes I understand it can get tacky and super inane! There are enjoyable & good ones out there you just have to give it a chance. And hey, I think Hollywood produces loads of movies and most of it are crap then some good ones. I hope our industry produces even more movies to the point that the ratio of fun relatable movies to tacky ones become 5:1 at least instead of the seemingly 2:5 (I’m just making these numbers up. That’s how it seems to me. :p). Tangkilikin ang sariling atin!

That said, I’m looking forward to my sister’s film career. I will just have to ask her to make those movies for me.

Yun lang. Bow.

(images from

Pagpamalandong Matod sa Pinulongan


Omg. I am embarassed by my poor grasp of my very own language. I can explain. I picked-up and used Bisaya growing up. I use it to communicate with my family, friends and people in general. I did not learn it formally in school nor did I read Bisaya literature so my fluency is practical and conversational. English was what I learned in school. Like most Filipino students, I was exposed to English grammar and literature lessons. If I want to express emotion, I speak in Bisaya. With letters and formalities, English is the language of choice.

Last year, my mom brought a copy of a Bisaya magazine and I could not “read” it. There were too many words that were “deep” or seemed “antiquated” (but they’re not!). I realized that my vocabulary was SUPER limited. I could not believe that I spoke and grew up with a language but could not even appreciate an article or literary piece. Even this blog entry is in English. So I have taken up the challenge of expanding my Bisaya vocabulary with the help of Bisaya magazine and blogs that publish Visayan poems.


Philippine Languages

I once had a bet with my unknowing boss who said Tagalog was our language and the rest are dialects. I insisted we had 8 major languages and he vehemently disagreed. Of course I only bet when I’m sure. His was a common mistake.

Most people think of Philippine languages, that are not Tagalog, as dialects. Dialect is a variation of a language. Bisaya, Bikol, Waray, Hiligaynon, Pangasinense, Kampampangan, Ilocano are not variations of Tagalog. Always, I want to correct that mistake but don’t bother. Let me satisfy that itch:

The Philippines is an archipelagic country with diverse languages. We have 8 major languages: Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Pangasinense, Ilocano, Bikol and Kapampangan. Major only because these are spoken by huge chunks of the population. We actually have more than eight languages.

Those 8 languages are not mutually intelligible. I will not understand my grandfather if he speaks to me in Pangasinense. He will not understand my Bisaya either. Those are two different languages.

If I speak in Kagay-anon with someone who is from Bohol, we will be able to understand and have a conversation despite differences in pronunciation or a few terms because these are dialects of Bisaya. Just like a Batangueno will understand a Caviteno if they converse in their own dialect of the Tagalog language.

In the end, I won the bet and got myself a free bottle of wine.

Book Love: Memories of Philippine Kitchens

Philippine Kitchens Cover

I love a good coffee table book. I savor the feeling of the glossy pages and the heaviness of  the hardbound book in my hands. It’s a visual and tactile feast! They give me joy.


The first time I leafed through the pages of Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa-Dorotan and Remy Dorotan was three years ago. I was perusing the shelves of our city library for just the type of food book. There were many featuring cuisines from France, Spain, Japan but barely anything about the Philippines. So I got very excited when I found this one book that told our culinary stories! Last Christmas, my aunt gave the exact same to our family. Maybe aunts have some sort of ESP.


What I love most about it is the different family recipes the authors gathered from Luzon and Visayas. Being from Mindanao, I was only able to appreciate the diversity of Philippine cuisine when I studied in Quezon City. School trips brought me to different places in the North such as Lucban, Baguio, Pampanga.

Informative and personal, memories of taste are recounted. Native ingredients are reintroduced.


What keeps this book from being truly comprehensive about Philippine Kitchens is the lack of information on Mindanao food. The main focus was Luzon (Ilocos, Zambales, Bicol, Pampanga) and Visayas (Cebu and Bacolod).

Still it is very inspirational. They pose a simple question that garners a multitude of answers worth exploring: What are your food memories?

It is my dream to explore such memories of taste in Mindanao! There will be plenty to unearth and rediscover.

Book Love: Sky Blue After The Rain

Sky Blue After The Rain

I have little patience in so many things even in one I usually love to do: reading.

However, with some books, you are immediately grabbed by the story. I find myself having fun or feeling sad depending on how they go. I enjoy Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s writing. I love reading stories set in different places but there’s nothing like reading Philippine literature.

It could be set in the past or the present. The emotions and thoughts are much closer to home. I feel like I know what the authors are talking about. It adds a different dimension to my reading experience. That or vice versa where having read the book changes how I experience a place or a situation. Sky Blue After The Rain is a collection of such type of short stories.

I particularly liked Patriciang Payatot, The Pink Parasol and The Tree  of the Perfect Plum.  Some stories are relate-able, some just enjoyable to read but all of them encourage introspection. It makes me want to go back to religiously write on my journal again. Props to my sister who bought it! For a non-Filipino reader, it gives you insight on our culture, our every day thoughts and feelings and how we view things without giving you a Social Studies lesson.

It is published by the University of the Philippines Press so it may still be available there, otherwise there’s always Amazon.


20150305_204527 (2)

I wrote this with the intention of submitting it to the Doreen Fernandez Food Writing Contest. However, I was unable to finish and ended up editing and submitting it to World Nomad’s Passport and Plate Contest instead. It’s still up on their website along with other entries from all kinds of food lovers around the world. I am re-posting it here:

The magic of midday in a tropical country lies in the raucous rhythm of lunchtime. This recipe brings me back to my university days when people leave the classrooms and rush to hole-in-the-wall eateries to hide from the burning 38C heat. Voices and the clattering of utensils seem louder in the sweltering noon air. For a while, it’s as though students are always coming, and there wouldn’t be enough seats. After the heavy, greasy and meaty lunch, we unconsciously rub our tummies in satisfaction. For me, the last hurrah of this cheap yet enjoyable budget meal would be the saba con yielo. Though irreverently contained in a flimsy plastic cup and scooped with an equally flimsy plastic spoon, this chilled dessert is the perfect noontime refreshment. The boiled banana and tapioca soak in the sweetness of the syrup. Once cooled, the chilled milk is poured and crushed ice unceremoniously plunked in.
At some point, food has been taken to a level where it’s cooked for the emperor with a jaded palate. Yet recipes like this one takes me back to celebrating food’s simplicity. Sweetened saba is ordinary dessert fare in the Philippines. It is local, accessible and affordable. Its simplest version, without the tapioca, ice and milk, is enjoyed by Filipinos both on ordinary days and special occasions. I remember having it in one of my Anthropology field trips to Talim Island, Rizal (a town a few hours away from the country’s’ capital city, Manila). My classmates and I had lunch on one of the bamboo houses on stilts after swimming. Lunch was a feast of steamed rice on banana leaves, fried tilapia piled on a plate, crisp spring rolls, sinigang (sour soup), fresh deep red tomatoes and a bowl of calamansi (our local lemon). I ate to my heart’s content until I was full but not full enough to refuse the dessert: minatamis na saba. I ate it with delight as though it’s through this dessert that one ends a satisfying meal with gratefulness for a truly sweet life.

A Birthday Wish and A Birthday Gift

Before we left for Canada, my mother brought me and my sisters to a Joey Ayala concert. His melodies were a part of my childhood music education along with The Phantom of the Opera, the Bukidnon lullabye and assorted children’s songs but I have never been in one of his performances until then. I was excited!

I learned during this event that aside from being an exceptional artist, Joey Ayala is also a super effective facilitator*. Instead of a traditional music session, I found myself participating in a workshop! We were seated around tables, provided papers and coloured pencils. Imagine the audience being asked, What do you love doing? by a man walking around with a guitar and singing Ang Lahat ng Bagay ay Magkaugnay. He continued with more ideas and questions: What are you good at? What are your strengths? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? 

In the course of a few hours, each us had come up with a draft of our Salundiwa or what I can only loosely translate as personal vision. My family still has each of our Salundiwa posted in our rooms. 

At this point, I am going to have to admit that I have just turned a year older this month. While my twenty something years seem to be fraught with uncertainty, disappointment and failure I am grateful for the constant source of inspiration from other people I admire and surprisingly even from myself.

On my birthday, instead of defaulting into my list-making habit, I did not to make one. I always had a list. I make lists and revise them regularly that making one for this year would be redundant. Instead, with the spirit of the Salundiwa workshop, I decided to focus more on discerning, seeking wisdom in my decisions so that I can align my lists with my Salundiwa or personal vision. Besides, doesn’t diwa mean the sense, the meaning, or the soul?

me having fun. yay!

There are many things I want to happen in my life. I want to travel. I want to be independent and not rely on a job. I still think of myself crazy how I can want so much but then again, do I really want to toil away and not get anywhere? Or get somewhere but not where I imagined and would love myself to be? 

In the midst of my country mourning the loss of Sec. Jesse Robredo, seeing how he lived his life has instilled in my mind and heart that nothing is impossible. When he entered public office, he was determined to do what was right and not to be swallowed up by the system. In Philippine politics riddled with corruption, that is an “impossible” feat but he did it and had he lived longer he would continue to do it.

I see how taking the steps to achieve one’s dreams incurs a lot of discomfort. Sec. Robredo has been criticized, sued many times over, challenged by overwhelming pressure but the changes he has put in place, the good that came out of his vision was surely worth the temporary discomfort. 

My mentor says, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to be comfortable. It’s a mouthful but it makes so much sense. Until recently, I used to be so worried about my achievements as they compare to my peers’. I’ve always felt I wasn’t good enough. The fact that I am a self confessed glossy mag reader doesn’t help because those things always seem to require me to be so and so. 

One time at the airport I came up with an imaginary identity just for fun in case someone who had no better things to do would chat me up. Lara Abelardo – well travelled author, non-profit organization program manager, dances and scuba dives in her spare time

Of course my name is not Lara Abelardo. I can’t write a cohesive post. This girl works in customer service, can’t swim and has two left feet. But my birthday wish isn’t to be her or a version of this imaginary woman. My birthday wish is to someday live the life I want to live and be an example so other people know that it’s possible. In the end, my greatest gift this year is that I am happy that I no longer care of what the world expects me to be at the age of 2_ and in knowing that I now have the inner resolve to be who I , and only I, want myself to be.

*This is funny but I just googled him again a few minutes ago and found my realizations backed up by his twitter description: singer, songwriter, facilitator.