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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 philosophy rambling reflections Uncategorized

The Impostor

Once in a while, I would remember this painting I saw at the Rijksmuseum during my trip to Amsterdam in 2019.

There’s nothing remarkable about this painting. By that I mean, it hasn’t achieved the same level of fame as Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. You could argue that the painter, Jan Adam Krusemann, was somewhat popular for his portraits, but in the pantheon of artists, he doesn’t have that name recall as Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Frida Kahlo, or Artemisia Gentileschi. And when you Google the subject, Alida Christina Assink, you would barely find any information about her.

That drab October afternoon though, I listened to the audio guide as I stared at the portrait of Alida’s face intently, longer than at any other artwork inside that museum.

“Portrait of Alida Christina Assink”, by Jan Adam Krusemann (1833).
Photo taken at the Rijksmuseum in October 2019

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gay personal life rambling reflections travel

Giving Up to Live

Christmas Day, 2020

“And if it is love, it is a curiously inefficient force, urge and halt, both at the same time. I want, but nothing I can propose would satisfy this wanting. I can’t say what it is I want, not anything much…Simply I want. Earnestly, most hurriedly, wretchedly want.”

– “At Swim, Two Boys”, Jamie O’Neill

I’m typing this at a food court in Dubai Airport Terminal 3 while waiting for my flight to Clark. There’s a three-hour layover and I’m eating the vegan falafel sandwich my boyfriend lovingly prepared before I left the UK, which he handed to me just as he was sending me off in Heathrow.

It’s midnight, I’ve almost finished the sandwich, and I’m still hungry, but I’m not sure if the eggplant tofu dish being served at the Panda Express behind me is even vegan. So this will have to do (not that I’m settling in any sense—it is delicious falafel.)

After one and a half months staying in London, I’m now trying to figure out what I feel about going back to Manila.

I love the Philippines, no doubt about it, and I’ve often said that I couldn’t imagine myself living elsewhere. But relationships have a way of making people reconsider things, such as—what exactly should we give up for the people we love?

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metaphysics personal life philosophy rambling reflections

Go Fake Yourself

Mirror selfie at the Musée d’Orsay, 2019

When a friend posted on Instagram stories a few weeks ago something about “being true to one’s self”, I couldn’t help but send a reply to that Pinterest platitude: “What is the authentic self, anyway?”

I wasn’t being rude: I’ve been guilty of criminally allying myself with the #staytruestayyou community at least one point in my life (specifically: in a post-breakup Facebook moment, sometime 2015: lock me up, officer.) But the more I think about pinning down who the “authentic self” is, the more I question that it even exists.

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metaphysics personal life philosophy rambling reflections Uncategorized

“The Universe is Having a Wank”: Teleological Explorations, By Way of Birthdays

Evan Tan Writer in Manila

There’s nothing that drives you further down into introspection like the waning high of your birthday that’s almost about to end (except probably a close brush with death, a bus speeding at 100 kilometers per hour barely colliding with the car you’re in at a highway—but that’s another story.)

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metaphysics personal life philosophy reflections

What If Everything Will Have Always Been Us

The other day, I was thinking about Ate Belle and remembered that it has been almost four years since she died. I was deciding on when I was going to fold clothes when the memory of her in our house, calmly sifting through the freshly laundered shirts and sheets, came back to my head.

I really should’ve paid attention to how she did it. Then again, folding clothes is one of the chores which I absolutely don’t enjoy. Some of my friends, like Mela and Jessica, find it therapeutic; I find it dull and repetitive. I’d rather cook or do the groceries than be stuck folding clothes for what feels like an eternity.

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personal life Uncategorized world events

Why People Would Rather Get Covid-19: Chronicles During the Covid-19 Community Quarantine

A few days ago, my friend Nancy and I were talking about how we’re all adjusting to this new normal (a term used to exhaustion that it is already grating on my ears), as we carried our groceries back to our condos. Yes, we were lucky–alive and well, not yet driven to the brink of desperation, like those spilling out in the streets and being threatened to be shot down by the police.

But to be alive is not just the goal, I argued. We might as well be living in some weird fictional dystopian place…or North Korea. Being a hermit and being a solitary prisoner may seem similar superficially, but the difference lies in the element of choice.

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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.