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art current events film media personal life pop culture rambling reflections

Am I Too Old to Enjoy This?

Last Friday, we went out to see Amélie the Musical at the Criterion Theater. My partner chose it because he loves the film a lot: it was one of the movies we watched during the height of the pandemic last year. (We played the movie in sync while on a Google Meet call, which is pretty much how we survived the long-distance relationship.) 

It was surreal to get back inside the theater for the first time since COVID started, and seeing the West End bustling with so much life made me miss watching plays and movies in Manila. (Wicked has started showing again, while The Book of Mormon has been bombarding me with reminders that it will resume this November.) 

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current events media personal life pop culture rambling reflections Uncategorized vegan

Whose Adobo is Authentic, Anyway?

On my second day in gloomy London, I found myself making my version of adobo. I threw the thinly-chopped garlic in the pan of cubed tofu, adding the bay leaves after and letting the ingredients simmer in cider vinegar (it was either that or the balsamic in the pantry—I would’ve preferred cane vinegar, but that meant a trip to the Asian store in Stratford, a few kilometers away.)

If there was any doubt that there was a Filipino inside this house, that doubt would’ve been certainly overpowered by the strong smell that had enveloped the whole kitchen and now started to waft outside.

But is my vegan adobo truly adobo? Maybe not for the Philippine government, who has proposed to standardize the dish for international taste. It was a move that was unsurprisingly met with much chagrin. Why are we after all mandating that only one adobo recipe is valid?

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metaphysics personal life pop culture rambling reflections travel world events

The End of the F***ing Year

A sunless day in London, December 2020.

I’ve been thinking about the end of this year and I imagine curtains closing—the velvet drapes sweeping to meet in the middle as it hides away the stage. But instead of the end of a play, it is the turn of the magician’s trick—the second act following the pledge, when the magician makes a promise. As the lights dim and the audience holds its breath, the magician prepares the next act, this third and final act, the reveal that upturns the spectators’ assumptions.

What the trick is, I don’t know. We started 2020 hoping that we will have a better year, the bookend to a decade that was in many ways crazy and exciting and sad: the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok (which was—perhaps—the death knell for bloggers-as-opinion leaders, to be replaced by social media influencers); the explosion of the #MeToo movement and “Black Lives Matter”,  putting front and center social inequalities, except unlike before when we only had mainstream media to spotlight these issues, now everyone who had a mobile phone could easily pitch in the conversation; the age of disinformation ushered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which also leads us to ask: are we actually free, or are we just biological switchboards that can easily be manipulated by pushing a few buttons here and there? 

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personal life philosophy pop culture rambling vegan

To See Clearly, Don’t Shy Away from Conflict: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Recently, I was in a heated Twitter debate about how people who had animal companions but were not vegan were essentially in a master-slave relationship.

While some of my friends argued with me directly, some chose not to reply and instead resorted to subtweets and snarky, shady remarks. Those who did the latter did not contribute anything substantial to the debate, because contesting ideas directly, while it seems superficially uncomfortable, allows people to test ideas and hones our capacity to argue well.

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personal life philosophy pop culture rambling reflections vegan

Suffering is a Cookie: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Suffering, I thought–as I bit on the half-eaten mango that I had stored in the refrigerator yesterday, is inevitable. There was nothing new to this concept: Buddhism’s First Noble Truth discusses the dissatisfaction that arises from changing states–hence, suffering is but a discomfort from a present situation which isn’t exactly what you expect.

But what I was wondering about was whether suffering was diminished the earlier one accepted it.

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film gay personal life pop culture reflections vegan

Solidarity or Shit: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Last night, I watched Netflix’s “The Platform” (El Hoyo), a dystopian science-fiction film which explores class warfare and how a threat could force people to cooperate.

I’ve been mulling about how the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the entrenched inequalities in our society. Already we’re seeing how the less privileged are made to choose between dying from hunger or dying from the disease, while the rich continue to believe that these people are merely being stubborn–lacking the discipline that is demanded by this enhanced community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government, when in fact, it is the very privilege these rich people have that allow them to easily follow the rules.

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books personal life philosophy pop culture reflections

Is There Really A Self? (& 10 PM Explorations of Being)

“Connecting Time”, an exhibition by Daniel Arsham. Taken at the MOCO Museum in Amsterdam, October 2019

A few years back, right after I graduated from college, I had to be confined because of depression.

In the facility, our days were regimented. We (the other patients and I) woke up at 6 in the morning, stretched for a bit, ate breakfast, did a morning activity that lasted for an hour or so, had lunch, then took a break. We had another activity in the afternoon, and then a quick snack, then a break before dinner. At 9 pm, they would turn off the lights.

During that period of confinement, I got to meet another patient, who was reading a book on Buddhism, which I ended up reading because I was bored with the routines. I remember being engrossed with the part about anattā, which is the Buddhist concept of non-self.