Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Moved to Wordpress!

Hello, extremely small percentage of the world's people who read this blog. I've moved to Wordpress because, honestly, posting pictures is a bitch on Blogger. Read this entry on my new blog,, to see why that's important. I admit, I'll miss the grammatically-correct hyphen at the url of this blog. Stupid Wordpress allowing only letters and numbers in urls.

I've copied most of the entries here to the new site, with the exception of the very personal (read: emo) ones. I know it's silly pretending that makes them more private, but I'm a pretty silly fellow to begin with. All new entries will be posted there, too, so forget about this one.

Oh, and just because I'm proud of it, here's the header I drew for the new blog:

See how I kept the general theme of "Skinny Dork Fights Zombies with a Giant Pencil"? That's called brand consistency. If I were a brand, that is.

Anyhoots, that's all there is to this chapter of my life! See you at the new one!

Read on >

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The High School Girl Syndrome; or, Haters Gonna Hate

***NOTE: This is going start off sounding like a rant, but there's some actual helpful advice in it. I'm just sharing what I've learned from experience. You might learn something, too, or at least affirm what you already know.***

Two days ago, I came across a commentary on I didn't agree with the views on it, but that's what the site is for – presenting the unpopular opinion. I don't have a problem with that; in fact, I very much appreciate it. I stated more than once on my reaction piece that it's important to open one's mind to opinions that deviate from the norm, and those that directly oppose yours. We can all learn something from those who think differently, even if we don't necessarily agree with them.

My reaction to the post in question was constructed this way:

1. I explained that I don't have an issue with opinions that oppose mine.

2. I illustrated that fact by elaborating the difference between my opinion and the post author's.

3. After each difference, I showed that both opinions, though opposing, are valid given our own perspectives (although I could only assume the other person's stance).

4. I then explained that I had no qualms about the opinions, because, quite frankly, people will feel what they feel.

5. I elaborated on what DID irk me about the post, and that was the amount of logical fallacies and lack of recommendations within.

6. I went back to saying the importance of antipinoy's (and that of similar sites) role, and saying how posts like the one in question mar that task.

7. I ended by giving recommendations on what antipinoy should present in every single one of their posts; namely, logic, a lack of bias, and recommendations for improvement. After all, if the site is meant to improve the quality of Filipino life/culture/politics/intellect, it should do more than say what's wrong with us.

That sounds extremely fair in my mind. I'm not sure if it does to you, so please tell me in the comments if it doesn't. After all, I'm not going to critique anything or anyone if I don't open myself to some criticism.

That said, I have learned one important thing about the Internet: some readers are bound to act like typical high school girls.

I'm still a noob at this blogging thing, so forgive me if what you're about to read seems like common sense to you. To me, it's still a valuable lesson that I will need to refer to every time someone comments a particular way on my blog. That's the main reason I'm writing this down. I will be honest, however, and admit this is also my way of snarking back at a few pet peeves.

Anyhoots, back to the topic – some people on the Internet are going to act like high school girls. More specifically, the type we saw in Regina's gang in Mean Girls. Here's how:

1. They're Going to Remain Anonymous
You know how, when high school girls get caught for something, they try to shrug off responsibility by saying "It wasn't me?" That way, they won't be punished if the act was negative. If it turns out that they're going to be rewarded, however, they'll suddenly dissolve that anonymity and scream at the top of their lungs, "IT WAS ME LOVE MEEEEEEEE!!!"

They could also be hiding in anonymity to, as Kiko put it, create the illusion of strength in numbers. This is like that catty bitch in high school who hates you and tells you everyone hates you, even though everyone thinks you're pretty okay.

Some – not all – anonymous commenters are like that. They hide in anonymity because they don't have the conviction in their opinions to be responsible for them regardless of the outcome. They don't want to be called out for being wrong, but will show off to their friends when they feel they're right. They'll also stay anonymous to make it seem like everyone shares their opinion because, to paraphrase a certain image forum, Anon is Legion.

2. They'll Miss the Point
Try telling the Reginas of the world that dressing up in Juicy Couture sweatpants and pink boleros makes for a trashy aesthetic, and that something more elegant will enhance their good looks. Chances are they'll do one of two things: 1) Call you an "unfashionable loserrrr"; or 2) Completely gloss over the entirety of your statement and bitchslap you for calling them trashy. Never mind that you directed your opinion towards the clothes, or that you actually complimented them and gave a suggestion on how to emphasize what's good about them.

I got both reactions for my post. One reader said I didn't get the point of the articles on antipinoy, like I wouldn't get the point of those Juicy Couture sweatpants. Another missed the point completely and made my post about feeling national pride and how sports won't make the country better. Again, my issue with the post, and I explained this repeatedly to the commenters, was in the construction. I couldn't care less about the difference in opinions because, as I said, people will feel what they feel. That commenter seemed to ignore the fact that I acknowledged the difference – even appreciated it – and went for the throat.

3. They'll Resort to Non-Sequiturs
Never, ever criticize a catty high school girl. No matter how intelligently you'll try to make your point, they'll bring something completely unrelated into the picture. A few examples:

You: You know, the amount of hairspray you put in your bumpit releases a lot of aerosols, which in turn damage the ozone layer. Using gel might be a safer alternative.
Regina: Well, your face is ugly. *twirl gum*

You: You could really improve your grades if you shifted some of the time you spent on shopping to your studies.
Regina: You just jealiz 'coz you ain't got this heat. *smacks own ass*

You: You should seriously consider cutting down on the alcohol. Not only do you make a spectacle of yourself when you're drunk, you're causing serious damage to your liver, too.
Regina: Boy, you should bite a breath mint before you talk. *snap snap*

The commenters on my post about the construction of a single antipinoy entry somehow saw fit to bring Noynoy and the August 23 hostage crisis into the picture. Go figure.

4. They'll Make It Personal
As illustrated above, some commenters will find some way to make comments about you, even if you do your damned hardest to direct the discussion into a certain topic. Hairspray use becomes your face, studying becomes how less attractive you are in comparison, and alcohol abuse is relegated to how your breath smells. In the same vein, telling a Mean Girl that you disagree with her about the church's stance on the RH Bill will suddenly turn into a discussion on how you're stupid and a bad Christian.

A couple of commenters made things personal in two ways. One defended not feeling any pride when Pacquaio won, even though I said there was nothing wrong with that, and it wasn't the point of my post. Another called me narrow-minded, regardless of me being so accepting of the opposing view. Again, go figure.

5. All of the Above
Somehow, some people possess the magical power to combine all these things. Tell a particularly bitchy Regina that she could use a certain soap to take care of her tiny pimple, and you'll get a verbal smackdown like:

"Are you telling me I'm ugly, you fucking whore? Why don't you take a look at the mirror first, 'cause everyone thinks you're too fat to star in the talent show. By the way, you'll never get a prom date and your dad totally wants me." *twirl hair*

An anonymous commenter told me that I wasn't reading carefully, because the post I was remarking on was a comment from an antipinoy reader, not the site's writers; that I was accusing antipinoy of being counterproductive; and that the country should focus on scientific progress, rather than athletic achievement. Never mind that I took great lengths to limit as much of my criticism towards the post's construction, that I said posts like this one – not all of antipinoy's entries – were counterproductive, and that I never said anything about sports being important for a country's progress.

Given what I've experienced through the most action I've seen on my silly little blog, here's some helpful advice for other blogging noobs: expect the High School Girl Syndrome, if you ever get people to read your stuff. When you do, take it in stride. Leave them alone. Some people are just going to be like that; to try to change their attitudes is futile. In other words, haters gonna hate. Just don't ignore them completely – sometimes, the haters do say valid things. Be open to discourse, but know when it isn't going anywhere.

For my part, I'm taking my own advice. If Anon still continues with the High School Girl Syndrome, so be it. I've done everything I could to clarify my point with logic and conviction. I've defended my opinion by arguing against my own points, and feel that I still might be right. Of course, I'm not going to shut out Anon completely – he may have a point sometime in the future. And hey, if I can learn something from the post's actual author, you can, too. For now, though, I'm done with the matter. This is the last you'll hear of it from me, promise. I'll be back to spouting regular ramblings soon.

I'm tired.

Read on >

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm very rarely affected by blog posts. I always approach them with the perspective that it's someone else's opinion, and the fact that it was published is not an affront to my sensibilities should I find myself disagreeing with it. In fact, I'm often appreciative for the disconnect, as it allows me to see things from a different perspective and gives me a better idea of the big picture.

An entry on, however, has irked me a little.

It's not because the author seems to think the idea of pride through association doesn't exist. In the article, the author claims to not feel personally proud whenever Manny Pacquiao wins a big fight. The author feels proud for Pacquiao enjoying the fruits of his labor, but it doesn't make him/her proud to be a Filipino. It's was Pacquiao's effort, after all, and solely his.

Valid as this perspective may be, I find it hard to believe the author doesn't feel a quark of national pride when Pacquiao's fist is raised in victory. We always feel some semblance of personal pride when someone we associate with succeeds at something. It's why proud fathers go "That's my boy!" and why a school cheers for its varsity team. Pacquiao hits a particular nerve with the common Filipino – this is someone who rose from poverty to achieve international success. Like most Filipinos, he dropped out of school because his family couldn't afford it. He moved to Manila in search of better things, but found himself living on the streets. Had he not endured through adversity and pursued boxing, he never would've made the Philippine National Amateur Boxing Team, and never would've caught the eye of one Freddie Roach. He literally changed his poverty-stricken life, the life of the common Filipino, by working hard, persevering, and getting a little lucky.

When Filipinos feel proud when he wins, it's because he was one of us. He was every child you met on the streets, asking you for money. He was that doe-eyed dreamer who told us, every time he got drunk, that he was going to make it someday. He's the typical Pinoy who eats hotdogs with rice and sings far more than his talent should allow. That's why we associate with him, and that's why we go "That's our boy!!!" when he stands triumphant in the center of the ring.

I won't make any sweeping generalizations, though. Not every Filipino associates with Pacquiao, and I assume the author of the antipinoy post doesn't, either. I can see why he doesn't feel that personal pride during a big win. No qualms there.

My problem isn't even with the ridiculous assertion that associating ourselves with Pacquiao is a foolish thing to do, especially if we want to better ourselves as a nation. From the post:

And to associate ourselves with him is foolish thing to do. Discipline- Manny has it; our nation knows no law. Hard work- Manny has it;our nation is in a deep sea of mediocrity. Focus- Manny has it; our nation doesn’t know where to go, thanks to our president. Coaching- Manny has it; our nation didn’t listen when we educate them to vote intelligently and here’s our by-product:national shame. Training- Manny has it; our nation has it but it was only a loose cannon to them. Winning attitude- Manny has it; our nation has this attitude of being a loser and they are contented with it.

The number of logical fallacies is appalling. From exaggeration ("our nation knows no law"); to dramatic aggrandizing ("our nation is in a deep sea of mediocrity"); to biased assumption ("our nation doesn’t know where to go, thanks to our president"); to non-sequitur ("Coaching- Manny has it; our nation didn’t listen when we educate them to vote intelligently and here’s our by-product:national shame"); and further violations of those previously mentioned.

The most glaring fallacy, however, is the assumption that majority of the Filipino population is composed of hypocrites. The only way associating ourselves with discipline, hard work, focus, coaching, training, and a winning attitude could be foolish is if we were the opposite. You may call me naïve, but I'd like to think that CNN Heroes of the Year, mothers who get their families by on less than 100 pesos a day, and individuals who willingly spend lonely years working hundreds of miles away from their families to be breadwinners are lazy buffoons content with mediocrity. Even if we lacked these characteristics, seeing Pacquiao as a role model as described in the antipinoy article isn't foolish. It's actually quite commendable, as we recognize what we need to be better Filipinos.

I won't fall into the trap of sweeping generalizations myself, though. For all I know, I could be naïve, and majority of the Filipino population could be as rotten as the article implies. We could all be foolish for associating ourselves with such a hard worker. I'd prefer to keep my assumption that we're most likely a mix of the two, and that it isn't generally foolish to identify ourselves with Pacquiao. Again, no qualms – I don't really know if I'm necessarily more correct than the antipinoy author, or if I'm just kidding myself.

My real issue with the post is that is bears many characteristics of what we would call, in the vernacular, a "whiny bitch". I won't assume anything about the author, so the "whiny bitch" statement isn't directed towards him/her; it's directed towards the article itself. For all its complaints and criticisms of feeling proud for Pacquiao, its implied hypocrisy, and the sorry state of Philippine sports, it doesn't provide a solution; not even a ridiculous one. It's all just words put together to say "This all sucks".

There are no recommendations for any of the issues. In regard to the "illusion of pride", all the post offers is a rather condescending (in tone) reality check that illustrates the obvious fact that Pacquiao isn't going to be fighting forever. When he retires, the article asks, who are we going to use to hide our national dysfunction? I understand that this should be the impetus for readers to stand up and say "We will have no need to hide!", but saying it is much more effective than implying it. The article says the Philippines' national sports program sucks, but doesn't say what could make it better. Again, it's all implied, and the meaning is hidden within negative remarks.

The post, without a concrete message of empowerment, is akin to a bully who makes fun of you for being stupid. He's not helping you; he's crushing your self-esteem and instilling long-lasting psychological issues before you're actually spurred to action. This is assuming, of course, that you're actually spurred to action and don't end up just resigning to the fact that you're stupid because he says so. Bullying works both ways, and so do posts like this one. Not everyone is going to be defiant; some readers are going to accept that Filipinos are mediocre and they might as well live with it.

It's one thing to point out a nation's faults, but stopping there is disgustingly irresponsible. It bears a tone of hatefulness, of disdain for one's self. "Anti-Pinoy", indeed.

It's a shame, too, as unpopular opinions like the post's have an important place in the grand scheme of things. We all need to see things from as many perspectives as possible, as a nation or personally, if we are ever to improve ourselves and the situations at hand. I assume this is the reason for's existence; if it isn't, it should be.

Because of this, needs to do a few things better. It's got to make sure the logic is sound in each of its arguments, preferably backed up by solid facts. It also has to make it a point to offer concrete solutions in every post; as I explained, implying one simply isn't enough. Most importantly (and ironically) antipinoy needs a little more perspective in its posts. I understand the site is founded on personal opinions, but there's a line between conviction and bias – conviction is informed and cannot argue against itself. Complaining with conviction, even if it turns out to be in error, opens minds. Biased complaints close them.

I don't want another whiny bitch on the Internet.

Read on >

Friday, October 29, 2010

Food Porn: Bubble Tea

I wrote earlier that my latest adventure at Bubble Tea involved an avalanche of food. I wasn't kidding. After listing down my favorite items served that night, I was still left with 16 different dishes. It'd be a shame to let all that go to waste, so I decided to post pics and a quick review of each item. Read on to see what I thought of the rest of the feast.


The Stars

Throughout the earlier part of the night, Reagan and Aileen let us try the many different flavors of their signature bubble drinks. Even with servers zooming in and out of the kitchen, not all varieties made their way onto our taste buds. Here's what I thought of those that did make it:

Strawberry Milkshake: Like any good strawberry milkshake, but chewy.

Almond Milk Tea: Do you like almond jelly? Because this tastes exactly like it.

Azuki Red Bean: Okay, I'm getting more of that. It's exactly like red beans.

The Opening Salvo

The Tofu Steak had this amazing sauce that was sweetened by carrots, onions and mushrooms. The tofu itself was delightfully mushy, and a thin bread covering kept it together in between my chopsticks. A winner.

I didn't find the Spicy Tuna spicy enough. I suppose it's good for more casual diners who like their spice to add a tiny bite, rather than flaming-hot fury. The tuna itself had nice texture, like a very smooth tartare dish.

The Bubble Salad Sushi was clean-tasting, with a very slight crunch. I think it's better without soy sauce.

Main Events

At first, I found the pesto in the Tori Pesto Spaghetti a little too mild. I like my pesto sauces with oomph. When I took it together with the teriyaki chicken, however, I totally got it - the two blend very well. Bonus points for the crisp skin on the chicken.

Reagan was very proud of the Tonkatsu Omurice's omelette, saying it was perfectly cooked. I didn't get what he meant until I tried it. The egg was cooked on the outside, but wonderfully gooey inside. It looks like he knows how to time his omelettes. The tonkatsu was pretty good too; the pork was thick enough to enjoy, and the sauce was potent. The tomato-y rice didn't win me over immediately, but I grew to enjoy it.

Again, the Spicy Seafood Mix and Tomato Spaghetti wasn't quite hot enough for me. I did like that they were generous with the seafood, though.

The Chicken Teriyaki Doria is one of Bubble Tea's bestsellers, and it's easy to see why: teriyaki sauce and cheese make for an excellent pairing. I order this from time to time, but I always get the same impression that I'd prefer the dish served on mashed potatoes rather than rice.

I love curry, but I didn't really get enough sauce on the bit of Beef Stew Curry that I tried. Jury's out on this one for now.

Sweet Endings

Every time I think about this dessert, I'm reminded of this commercial. An Oreo Cheesecake is one of the brightest ideas ever conceived around Oreos, and Aileen's version is really generous with the cookies and cream. Order this if you love the cookie.

See that little bit of mango tucked inside the cheese filling? That's what I love about Bubble Tea's Mango Cheesecake - it's generous with the fruit. The cheesecake itself is very smooth and creamy, but not cloyingly so. I do wish it were a bit denser, though.

Lauren's Picks

The Matcha Green Tea and Cappuccino Cake is one of the reasons Lauren and I keep coming back to Bubble Tea. It's got this mocha-like richness to it, but it doesn't really overwhelm you. I could eat this all day and not get sick of its creamy goodness.

I've only really had Takoyaki at stalls, so I don't know what "legit" takoyaki is supposed to be like. I'd wager it's a lot like this, however, with its strong seafood flavor, savory sauce, and gooey texture.

People say Okonomiyaki is the Japanese version of a pizza, but the batter reminds me more of pancakes. In any case, this is a very meaty-tasting pancake, making it perfect for manly men, mustachioed biker gangs, and anybody who enjoys umami food.

Lauren insists that we get the Yakisoba on our next visit. These noodles have just the right amount of savoriness that they wake your taste buds up, but don't have you reaching for the water. The breaded prawns were a much-appreciated touch.

That about wraps it up! Head on over to Bubble Tea at SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, or Tomas Morato. Pretty soon, you'll be able to visit their upcoming branch at Wilson Street, Greenhills. Check out their Facebook page and feel free to join their Pichur Pichur contest, too - you may just be the lucky winner of a brand-new Nikon S230 camera.

Photos by Lauren.

Read on >

Bubbles and Tea

It's pretty cool when a couple works together well. Reagan and Aileen Tan, the founders of Bubble Tea, are a shining example of that. While Reagan works out the café's fun, quirky menu, Aileen brings a touch of sweetness to the meal with her pastries. Their culinary creations match each other perfectly, like their bubbles (chewy tapioca balls) and tea. It's a marriage made in heaven, especially for my taste buds.

They make a really cute couple on camera, too!

Lauren and I are avid fans of Bubble Tea. Their branch along Tomas Morato is one of our favorite haunts, both for the tantalizing tea drinks and the creative Japanese food. Being the creatures of habit we are, however, we tend to order the same things: a serving of Takoyaki (seafood balls) to start things off, the Aquarius sushi platter, and maybe some Chicken Teriyaki Doria, if I'm feeling famished that evening. Lauren often gets some Strawberry Milk Tea (with extra bubbles!), while I satisfy my sweet tooth with a Double Chocolate Milk Tea. We close out the meal with a delightful slice of Matcha Green Tea cake. It's pretty much the same thing over and over again, but we get the same items for a reason – we can't resist them.

It was high time that we tried out the other fun items on Bubble Tea's menu, and so we set off for the restaurant eager to explore some brand-new flavors. What we didn't expect, however, was the sheer amount of food that was going to be served that evening. Rather than bore you with a 10,000-word monstrosity about me stuffing myself, I've decided to highlight my favorite dishes of the night. You can check out the rest of the feast (along with quickie reviews) here. Read on for my top choices.

Things kicked off with an ample serving of sushi. If you've ever been to Bubble Tea, you'll know that they have some of the more creative rolls this side of the Pacific. Between the eye-catching presentation and the wonderful mélange of flavors, you'll probably find yourself coming back to Bubble Tea just for the sushi. Among the many different varieties served (I can count at least 4 from memory), my favorite definitely had to be the Dragon.

A thick chunk of prawn fills the center of the roll, and a sliver of unagi (eel) accentuates the seafood flavor. The sesame seeds sprinkled on top added a bit of smokiness. The entire roll is drizzled with teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayo. While the teriyaki sauce lends some savory sweetness to the rolls, the Japanese mayo adds a creamy texture that makes everything blend in your mouth just beautifully. Although it really isn't needed, I like dipping the rolls in some soy sauce to give the teriyaki sauce a little pop.

The Vancouver was a very, very close second. Like the Dragon, its main filling is breaded prawn, while teriyaki sauce is its chief accent. Instead of unagi, however, the Vancouver is topped with some spicy raw tuna, which adds a much-appreciated bite to the roll. I really enjoyed the combination, and rate it second to the Dragon only because I didn't find the tuna spicy enough. Of course, my tolerance for spice is a little high, so I'm guessing this dish has the perfect amount of mild heat for the average diner.

It looks like I forgot to copy a photo of the Vancouver from Lauren's camera, so
please enjoy this image of Bubble Tea's awesome lighting fixture instead. Hehe. :D

While we were enjoying the appetizers, our drink orders came in. Bubble Tea's concept is built around their beverages, as Reagan really wanted to bring back one of his favorite hang-outs from Canada: a café where you could enjoy your bubble tea and some food while lazily sitting around, instead of standing by the many kiosks we see in the Philippines. At Bubble Tea, you get to choose from a wide variety of green tea, milk tea, and milkshake flavors, each served with bubbles at the bottom. The end result is a titillating treat that goes incredibly well with the selection of Japanese food the café serves.

Pictured: Chewy, milky, drinky goodness.

With our adventurous mindset, Lauren and I decided to try two of the more interesting flavors being offered: Azuki Red Bean and Black Sesame. The Azuki Red Bean tasted exactly like the red beans I enjoy on top of some mochi (chewy rice cake) or green tea ice cream – sweet and somewhat chocolatey. The shake itself had a bit of a gritty texture which probably comes from the skins of the beans, but that's part of why I enjoyed it. The bubbles at the bottom did a fine job of substituting for mochi, making the drink a dessert in itself.

The Black Sesame shake, on the other hand, reminded me of another Asian dessert. It tasted like buchi (chewy sesame balls), but not quite so – the drink is topped with ice cream, which turns the flavor into a whole new concept. I quite enjoyed the taste of "buchi a la mode", but I'm afraid I'm too much of a chocoholic to have it replace my usual order. I'll definitely order this if I ever need a change of pace, though.

Apparently, my nostrils flare up when I am confronted by black sesame milkshakes.

We didn't get to try their new flavor, Honeydew Melon, which is a real shame because Reagan was really proud of it. Peter agreed that it was to die for. Maybe on our next visit?

A veritable avalanche of entrees came next. My personal stars of the night were the Yakiniku Beef Rice, the Japanese Fried Chicken in a Basket, and the Salmon Foil Yaki.

The Yakiniku Beef Rice had everything going for it. The cuts of meat were thin, soft, and flavorful, with just the right marbling of fat. The sauce was a sweet barbecue-like glaze, while the sesame seeds that topped the dish added a toasty taste that I very much enjoyed. Even rice was cooked to perfection, with a sprinkling of garlic flakes pulling everything together.

When I tried the Japanese Fried Chicken in a Basket, I learned one thing – these people know how to fry chicken. The very first thing you notice about fried chicken, the skin, had just about everything I was looking for: a crisp, flaky texture that isn't over-battered; a light seasoning that doesn't overpower the senses, but is just enough to keep your mouth watering; and a golden-brown appearance that just pulls you by the eyelashes and screams "Eat me!!!" When you finally sink your teeth into the meat, you're rewarded with this juicy explosion of chicken, an all-too satisfying bite of poultry that needs absolutely no rice.

The chicken was served with two sauces: the very same teriyaki glaze I loved all through the night, and a unique nori-ginger sauce. I do love my ginger sauces and enjoyed this one, but I couldn't help but wonder where the nori was. It certainly colored the sauce, but I think the ginger may have overpowered it.

The Salmon Foil Yaki came at a later portion of the meal, and I have to apologize right now for not taking a proper picture of it. There was just so much food to enjoy that I kind of got lost in the moment. I'll do this dish some justice on my next visit, though, and get a proper picture for this post. For now, here's a shot of its menu entry:

Honestly, I wasn't all too impressed when I first saw the Salmon Foil Yaki. By the time it arrived on the table, I had grown accustomed to the vivid colors that came with every dish. To my surprise, it ended up being one of my absolute favorite parts of the meal, so much so that it's going to be a guaranteed part of my next visit to Bubble Tea. The salmon is cooked just right – it was cooked just enough to feel meaty in the mouth, but still capture the flakiness that I love so much about fish. The fish was rested atop a bed of shiitake mushrooms, which added a lovely chewy texture and a sweetness that lingered in the mouth. I'd say it was a party in my mouth, but not the kind that involved kegs of beer and frat boys; this was a sophisticated party, where epicurean members of high society greeted each other with bows and curtsies. It was a classy, undeniably delicious dish.

We ended the meal with a sampling of Aileen's desserts. My favorite still ended up being the Matcha Green Tea Cake, but the two types of cheesecake served – mango and oreo – were also pretty good. The cheesecake was very smooth and creamy, and had the amount of tanginess that every cheesecake should had. It wasn't overpoweringly sweet, which is the case with many local restaurants. My one critique is that it's a fairly light cheesecake; I enjoy the thicker, denser type that makes you feel like you're engorging yourself with every mouthful. Of course, that type of cheesecake probably wouldn't mesh with the bubble tea, so I'd wager this kind's just right for the café. Aileen's pastries go so well with Reagan's dishes, I never really move on from Bubble Tea to another place for dessert, like I usually do. That's my kind of chemistry.

The desserts also go really well with striped dresses.

There was a lot more food served that evening, and I haven't even touched on Lauren's favorites. Needless to say, the meal reinforced the fact that Bubble Tea is one of our go-to places for dining. Its fun, youthful ambience and enjoyable menu items are worth every peso. The only difference now is that we'll probably have a harder time ordering something, since there's just so much to choose from.

Bubble Tea currently has three branches at SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, and Tomas Morato. Reagan and Aileen are also opening a new branch at Wilson Street near Greenhills soon. If you plan on visiting them between now and November 20, you might want to join their Pichur Pichur contest, in which you can win a brand-new Nikon S230 touch-screen camera. You can also Like them on Facebook for even more bubbly fun.

Most photos by Lauren.

Read on >

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I hate money. Sure, it's great when you've got enough, but it's been a while since I've been able to feel that sense of security. To me, and likely others like me, money is an evil, big-breasted seductress who toys with you before kicking you in the balls and shooting you down. You want her, but you'll never have her.

I suppose it's easy to predict where this post will be going. I don't really care. Whining to an invisible audience is cathartic somehow; as though I'm packing all these emotions in a trunk, locking it, and throwing away the key. At least I won't be all emo "God the world is unfair I may as well slash myself" about it. I've grown up a little since high school.

If you've got the patience to get to see me in a different light, feel free to read on. Just don't expect me to have a heart-to-heart with you about it. Whatever goes into these "Who Wants Cookies?" posts stays here, as far as I'm concerned. Otherwise, read something else and spare yourself my self-indulgent hoo-ha.

Let me go back to the start - I hate money. These days, it seems all my problems are money-related. I mean, I've got the best girlfriend ever, I've got friends I see on a pretty regular basis, and I'm doing what I want to in life. The catch is, all those get affected in one way or another because my bank account keeps dwindling to an unsavory amount.

There a whole bunch of reasons as to why my funds are in a leaky barrel. If we're going to get specific about it, the main culprit would be the fact that I'm not earning enough. I do make some money, but there are a bunch of demands that I have to deal with, mostly from my family.

Lately, I've been asked to cough up dough for electricity, groceries, and even a surgery. I haven't been able to meet the demands as I'd like, and it's been wearing me down. So much so that I've become pretty unbearable to talk to (Sorry, Lauren). I don't think there's been a day this month where I haven't owed my family some money. It makes me feel pretty much like the failure my parents see me as.

Never mind the fact that a lot of this is because I did something to please my parents.

See, I didn't really have my parents' support when I decided to quit my day job and go into freelance writing full-time. I guess it was something they couldn't understand. Heck, even my sister thought I was a bum for staying home all day and not going to an office (she told me this herself). Their traditionalist thinking made them blind to the fact that I was actually making more money this way, and was feeling a lot more fulfilled with the work I was doing.

And so they would have talks with me. They'd ask me how work was, and then give me some lecture about writing not being a career. Basically, I was given the same spiel my mother gave me when she warned me about the perils of being a starving artist. After that talk, the little five-year-old boy who was drawing his own comics and creating entire worlds in his head gave up on the fantasy and went on a path to med school, just as his parents always wanted. Forget the passion, the creativity, and the talent - go for where the money is.

The same thing's been happening after I went freelance. After I had rediscovered my passion for writing and creative work, I decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue it as a career. I really didn't think of myself as a good fit for med school, anyway (which, by the way, I'm sure they hoped I'd go for after saving the money from my day job). I logged onto Craigslist, found a few clients, and typed my fingers off. Along the way, I found a client who not only paid me very well, but also gave me topics I enjoyed writing about. I was earning well while pursuing my dreams, so much so the shitload of gifts I gave Lauren on Christmas didn't really hit my bank account that hard.

Of course, all this came at the expense of looking like a bum in front of my family. Sometime earlier this year, a local company gave me an offer. I had apprehensions about taking it, especially since I was so comfortable with Well-Paying Client. I could have ideally made about the same amount with Local Company, but only by doing a lot more work. I went back and forth on the decision until I realized something important: Local Company was a chance to show my family that I was actually working. There were company IDs, an office (that I didn't have to go to), and everything. In my all-consuming desire to appease my parents, I took the offer.

Unfortunately, things didn't work out with Local Company. I wasn't very well-rewarded for the passion I put into my work, and the rewards I did get were extremely delayed. Even worse, the work was so taxing that I had to give up my contract with Well-Paying Client. It didn't matter to me at the time, since all I really wanted was my parents' approval.

This led to financial disaster. With paychecks so far between, and a litany of problems coming from my family's financial shortcomings, I ended up being desperate for money. I actually still am, as I'm still waiting for the fruits of my labor at Local Company to come make me happy. Needless to say, things just got worse. With my family's financial demands going unaddressed, I've sunk lower into the Pit of Parental Disapproval. I've had the same "You've got to make more money" talks come to me over and over again. And I can't even afford to get away from all that.

All this has made me realize something - every time I do something to get my parents' approval, it blows up in my face. The pursuit of med school was an enormous waste of time, time I could have spent developing into a real writer and a real artist. The time I spent with Local Company could have been spent with Well-Paying Client, and I could very well be on my second trip to Thailand by now. Instead, I'm at a place in my life I don't want to be, and have been in since God knows when.

From now on, I'm going to be more selfish about things. I shouldn't be a slave to my parents' approval. I've got to accept the fact that their values are simply incompatible with mine, and that compromising myself for their sake only makes me more of a loser than I ought to be. I'm going to do what's right for me, regardless of what others think. It's going to take a while before I can stop feeling guilty for not being a "good son", but I can probably take it.

Goddammit, I'm going to be myself, and I don't give a fuck if they don't like it.

Read on >

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review: Siege #1

A few nights ago, I wrote an entry about New Year’s resolutions, and my decision to finally give them a try. In that same entry, I resolved to update my blog a lot more often – something I’ve pulled off rather well as of late, considering my past track record. Of course, this entails me constantly looking for new things to write. Seeing as how I’ve reignited my passion for comics after a few years’ dormancy, it only seems natural that I give writing comic reviews a shot.

(Sorta-long aside: in that very same entry, Paolo pointed out a rather embarrassing oversight on my part – I credited Foreigner with a Survivor song. As much as I’d like to sulk about my mistake, especially since MY FATHER HAS BEEN MAKING ME LISTEN TO THE SONG EVER SINCE I WAS A KID AND IT’S BEEN A PART OF MY SOUL SINCE GOD KNOWS WHEN SO I NEVER SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN IT WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE, I’ll suck it up, blame it on my current bout of insomnia, and repay Paolo’s call by plugging GeekFight, which he hosts. It is, by far, the most fun Trivia Night series I’ve attended, and the next one’s on this coming Monday, January 11, at Last Home, near Robinson’s Pioneer. Also, this coming Monday will serve as Paolo’s de facto birthday party, so it’s bound to be dripping with awesome.)

Anyhoots, I figured I’d kick off the year’s reviews with an event that started the moment Brian Michael Bendis pretty much took over the Marvel Universe – Siege. To be precise, I’ll be reviewing Siege #1, written by the infamous bald scribe and illustrated by Olivier Coipel.

Siege is hyped up to be culmination of all the Bendis-helmed major crossover events, making it a project that was at least seven years in the making (the event has its roots in Avengers Disassembled, which ran in the late parts of 2004). It’s this fact alone that has me a little disappointed in the series from the get-go. As of now, Siege’s main series is scheduled to consist of just four issues, which is an extremely short payoff for something Marvel’s been trying to make you drool over for the past year or so. This theme seems to carry over into the series’ debut issue, as one-third of the main story has already been released via previews and teaser comics. Six of the 23 story pages have already seen print, and the rest of the 38-page comic (discounting ads) consists of Joe Quesada’s obligatory primer on the event, supplementary material on Siege, and a preview for Fall of the Hulks. In terms of page count alone, Siege #1’s new content fails to live up to the insane hype machine that’s been running since BEFORE the event was announced.

That said, the content does show that Siege has the potential to be an awesome event. People tend to hate on Bendis a lot, but you can’t argue with the man’s ability to create plots that mirror American society today without really being too preachy. Siege is no different. The whole idea behind the crossover is that Norman Osborn’s attempts to “purify” America under his image have reached insane heights. He believes that the realm of Asgard (the home of the Norse gods which for reasons too long to explain now floats over Oklahoma) is a threat to his rise to power, and so he crafts a plot that paints Asgard as a foreign threat to the American way of life, one that needs to be removed from American territory immediately. And so he wages war. On a city of fucking GODS.

The previously-released pages provide the most relevant plot points of the issue, and parallel the events that led to a past Bendis crossover, Civil War. While many fans on the net cry foul at this supposed lack of originality, I see it as bloody brilliant. If Osborn’s goal is to gain support for his assault on Asgard, what better way to do it than to manufacture an incident that so closely mirrored what ignited public outrage against the superhero community as a whole? We all know how society is prone to knee-jerk reactions when it comes to history potentially repeating itself, and Bendis was all too eager to point out how this tendency can be manipulated by people in power.

The rest of the issue lays the foundation for the many side-plots that arise from Osborn’s insane agenda – Victoria Hand’s growing doubt, Ares’ wavering loyalty to Osborn, the Dark Avengers’ motivation for engaging in this suicide mission despite their diminishing trust in Osborn, the White House’s indignation at Osborn’s course of action, and Loki’s cunning manipulation of the events that transpire. You just know that Bendis is setting Stormin’ Norman up to fail, and yet, in the pages that follow, you can’t help but think that the megalomaniac will come out on top. The final panel presents a glimmer of hope, however, in a manner that seems almost poetic when Civil War is taken into consideration.

Olivier Coipel does a decent job of handling the issue’s artistic duties. I never really followed the guy (the last I’ve seen of his work was House of M, another Bendis collaboration), so I can’t really provide a solid critique of the artist in general. From what he’s done in the first issue of Siege, though, we can see that he’s more than capable of making Bendis’ story flow visually. The information in the story is so condensed that it’s better suited for a 32-page spread, but Coipel manages to make everything feel just right despite the lack of space. His visual style is a fine match for the story’s tone, as the whole shebang comes off as one of those epic action movies. Think Black Hawk Down as compared to Rush Hour, and you’ll see what I mean.

I do have one teeny-tiny nitpick, however. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Ivan Reis’ fantastic work on Blackest Night, but Coipel’s last panel didn’t seem to give off the impact it should have. It was potentially one of the series’ most defining moments, but while the intention was clear, the execution seemed lackluster.

All in all, if the mega-crazy-super-duper-hyper-hype is disregarded, Siege #1 feels like an excellent kick-off to the final part of Bendis’ nearly decade-long saga. The man has done an impeccable job of returning the Avengers to relevance and defining Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor as the foundations of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I never really cared for these characters before, but now I find myself clamoring for their long-anticipated reunion.

Read on >

Friday, January 8, 2010

On Pubic Hair, Politics, and Progressive Thinking

I’ve been relying on taxis for quite some time now, and I’ve developed a sort of love-hate relationship with them. I love that they can get me to wherever I want, but I hate that getting one can be so inconvenient. I love that they’re a lot more private than the sweaty, squishy trains, but I hate that a lot of the drivers can be total assholes. What I really, really love about cabs, though, is that I sometimes get the most amazing stories and meet some really fascinating people.

This is why I’ve decided to introduce a new subsection to my tiny little blog: The Taxi Ride Diaries. For as long as I am utterly dependent on cabs as my main form of transportation, I’m bound to come up with stories worth sharing. I’ve actually had this idea in my head for quite some time now, but tonight’s escapades gave me that final push I needed to get started on it.

The first cab ride was rather inconsequential, other than the fact that it had me fearing for my life. I was on my way to Lauren’s place, and as a pleasant surprise, I had no trouble getting a ride during the taxi rush hour on my street (around 7:00-8:00pm). The driver, unfortunately, must have been high on something, as he was noticeably twitchy as he drove. Things got scarier when I noticed his legs fidgeting, causing his feet to occasionally slide off the pedals. He seemed to be in enough control to get me to Lauren’s place, though, so I figured I may as well just stick with him. Thinking back, that wasn’t really the smartest option, was it?

I got to Lauren’s safe enough, and had a great time eating brownies and chatting with Tita Noemi and watching the animated joy that is The Venture Brothers. It was getting pretty late, and so I went on my merry way home. Now, the walk from Lauren’s home to her village’s gate is a good ten minutes or so, and I sometimes catch taxis on their way out. I usually hail these cabs as they NEVER turn me down (a rarity in this country), and I get pretty spooked by the village late at night. I, uh, kinda imagine seeing dead people where there aren’t any. Stupid overactive imagination.

Sure enough, a cab arrived to spare me from my own silly thoughts. To my surprise, I didn’t even have to hail him. The driver (who unfortunately I never got the name of) was a pretty old man, the kind who shouldn’t be driving at his age, and he was lost. He pulled over to ask me for directions to the gate. I told him that I was actually on my way out, and could use a ride. I hopped into the cab, and directed him to the gate. When we got there, though, the guard told us that the driver’s pass was from the gate on the OTHER side of the village, and that he had to exit from there. Although I was really, really tempted to get down from there and get a cab from where it was closer to my place, something in my gut told me I should stick with the old man. He looked like he’d been lost for a while, and probably wasn’t going to be too good with directions.

And so we turned back and made our way to the other side of the village. I had no idea how huge Lauren’s village was, and I was worried that me and the cab driver might end up getting lost again. The driver was the type of old man who seemed borderline senile, muttering about how he got lost and talking about a truck that he used as a marker but couldn’t find again, mostly because he had confused other trucks for it. Luckily, though, there was a bunch of people along the way, and we were able to get directions to the exit. We found the gate easily enough, handed the guards the driver’s pass, and got back on the road.

The old man turned to me and snickered, telling me he felt like NoyNoy Aquino back there. I asked what he meant by that, and he said (in Filipino)”Like I had absolutely no idea on what to do or where to go. I felt completely incompetent.” I couldn’t help but giggle back. The driver must have taken this as a hint that I was one of those passengers up for a little conversation, as he became more animated and started talking about anything and everything. In this regard, “anything” meant him talking about how he started wearing Crispa briefs when he first got his first bulbol (pubic hairs), and “everything” meant how that very fact was tied into the sorry state of Philippine politics.

He told me about how much he missed Crispa briefs, about how nice they felt, and how they were a far cry from the shorts his mother made for him out of flour sacks. He told me how sad he was that Crispa wasn’t around much anymore, as compared to the brand in its heyday. He found it rather depressing that his favorite local producer of underwear and shirts was taking a backseat to foreign brands, and how that lack of support for local brands was taking its toll on the economy. He made a lot of sense, to be honest, and he got me listening.

He went on to talk about a variety things, like the origins of Ukay-Ukay and where you’d go to buy surplus appliances back in the day, and he somehow managed to connect it all to politics and the economy. I don’t really remember how we got there, but the conversation went back to NoyNoy, and how it worried the driver that NoyNoy might be too-heavily influenced by the Catholic Church.

This was something I didn’t expect to hear from a cab driver, especially an aged one from one of the most strongly-Catholic countries in the world. I asked him what he meant by this, and he went on to tell me something I never saw coming – he used the RH Bill as an example. He said it was a downright shame that the RH Bill wasn't passed. He saw it as a step in the right direction for the country, in that it was a positive method of helping solve overpopulation, which in turn would help improve the economy. He said that the local clergy got in the way, telling people that the Bill was immoral and promoted abortion. The driver argued that the Bill did no such thing, and merely wanted to ensure that students were educated about alternative ways of avoiding unwanted pregnancies, rather than the ineffective withdrawal movement the Church suggested. What we needed, the driver said, was a leader who could stand up to the Church, who’d ignore their outdated badgering and take an active role in shaping the country with a State separated from the Church, as it should be.

Clearly, these weren’t thoughts I imagined my aged cab driver would be sharing, especially since he told me that he never went to school or anything. And yet he was able to argue a most progressive argument for the RH Bill, which was unpopular among many Filipinos because of the Church’s influence. I’d have listened to more, but by then we had arrived at my place. I paid the man, thanked him for the ride, and thanked him for the talk. He let out a kind laugh, smiled, and drove away.

I don’t know why, but the experience made me feel a little better about the country’s fate. Maybe it was because the old man showed me that there really are intelligent, forward-thinking individuals out there who can see beyond the mass hysteria of public opinion. With the elections coming around, I can only hope that these people step forward and take action.

Read on >

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cute Meet

I love my friends. That’s why I can’t really write about the night I met Lauren in full, explicit detail. Doing so might make a lot of my friends laugh, while some of them might remain indifferent. One of them, though, might get hurt, and that’s something I definitely want to avoid. If you want the complete story, you’ll have to ask me in person. Thankfully, though, that particular section of the night Lauren and I first caught each others’ eyes happened in the beginning, and waaaaay before all the mushy stuff. Without further ado, here’s my I-really-love-this-story-and-I-wanna-share-it-to-the-world-but-I-can’t-without-potentially-losing-a-friend-so-here’s-the-best-I-can-do account of that evening:

I was on the road with a bunch of my college friends, and we were on the way to Cantina at Katipunan. My friend JC got word of some late-night escapades in the area that somehow involved Paula, Rica, Kimi, some other Psych people that I’ve embarrassingly forgotten were there, and oodles and oodles of alcohol. More than anything, it was the oodles and oodles of alcohol that beckoned me.

Pardon the really bad chronology for now, but we’ll need about three flashbacks to paint the picture of that car ride right. The first flashback happened months ago, when my ex dumped me in August. Shortly thereafter, my manager in my former office decided to pounce on the opportunity to take her crush on me to the next level (why she crushed on me, I’ll never know). The days and weeks and months that followed were a harrowing ordeal that involved a lot of inappropriate touching, Miley Cyrus songs, and The One Cup of Pudding I Would NEVER EVER Eat.

The second flashback takes me back to one extremely slow day at the office. My mind started to wander out of sheer boredom, and I found myself realizing that I *needed* someone to love. I couldn’t quite explain it at the time, but I think I’m one of those people who genuinely feel an incredible amount of emotion, and without someone or something to share that emotion with, get unbearably restless and frustrated. My singlehood wasn’t characterized by a void, but by an upwelling of feelings that threatened to spontaneously combust within me. I told all this to one of my better friends at the office. I never felt like a bigger pansy for doing so.

The third sorta-flashback was that whole awkward stage after the epiphany, where I, for the very first time in my life, was actively looking for love. Eek.

It didn’t go very well, and after a lackluster experience and three rather frightening ones, I decided I had had enough of it all, which brings us back to the car ride. I resolved to stop looking and just live. I was tired and drained and I just didn’t want to put any effort into finding someone to love anymore. I was done with being single-and-seeking, and wanted to be just single. Most of all, though, I was frustrated – why couldn’t I find a smart, funny, sexy, cute, intelligent, dorky girl who wasn’t bat-shit crazy??? I wanted to cut my losses and ditch the whole “wanting someone to love” bit. I remember telling all this to everyone in the car. I never felt like a bigger douche for doing so.

When we finally arrived at Cantina, I was surprised to see more people than I expected, including a few unfamiliar faces. The group was way too big for the table we were at, so we moved to a bigger one. Since I was closest to the new table, I ended up being the first to sit. That’s when I found myself cut off from my Psych friends and surrounded by three long-haired strangers – Helga, Luis, and Lauren. What seemed like the perfect opportunity to make new friends was an incredibly terrifying experience for me. I’m incredibly awkward at these sorts of situations, so I made a hasty retreat to my beer.

Then, for some strange reason, something in me kind of just switched on. I figured since there was no way I could weasel closer to my college friends, I may as well make the most of things and *gasp* be social. I acted completely out of character and started blabbing away, although occasionally bringing the beer to my mouth at times of awkwardness. I didn’t realize it until long after that evening that Girl to the Left (Helga) did a fantastic job of facilitating conversation between me and Girl to the Right (Lauren), who I couldn’t help but notice was pretty damn cute. Helga asked if I liked zombies, to which I replied with a resounding yes. Lauren then followed up with “What’s your favorite zombie movie?”, and I told her I had to go with Romero’s rather visceral piece of social commentary, as it showed that zombie flicks could actually be quite profound. Helga asked if I liked cats, and I told the group I actually grew up as a cat person, but recently learned to appreciate dogs, too.

Then Helga asked if I was gay. I imagine Lauren looked mortified at this moment, but I was actually kinda glad Helga asked. I know I don’t necessarily look like my personality, so I took this as an awesome conversation starter. I asked them what I looked like, and after a few queasy replies, we determined that my overall aesthetic was that of a gay management student. I found this really funny, and I explained to them how far off that image was from the actual me. Somehow I got into joking that I was actually this totally emo character, and talked about how I love to slash my wrists and about how all I really wanted was to be hugged. Lauren kept laughing along with me, and we didn’t really notice that the conversation ended up being between just the two of us.

I couldn’t help but realize how good it felt to make Lauren laugh. There was just something about her that made me want to bring that beautiful smile out over and over again. Before I knew it, I was crushing on her.

It was getting pretty late, and people wanted to go home. Those of us who arrived late to the party, though, wanted to keep drinking. We decided to head out to Meat Shop 2.0 for a little more inebriation. To my surprise, Lauren didn’t leave with Helga and Luis, and instead came with us to Meat Shop. I was noticeably quieter at that point because of three things: 1) I was getting tired; 2) I was doing so well with this amazing new girl and I didn’t want to fuck anything up; and 3) HOLY SHIT SHE’S FUCKING SITTING RIGHT BESIDE ME DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID. Yeah, I was majorly crushing.

Thankfully, I avoided almost all sorts of I’m-a-cool-guy-and-totally-not-dorky faux pas. Almost. My friend Dino offered to drive Rica home after Meat Shop, to which a slightly tipsy Rica happily agreed. We all got into Dino’s car and headed out. After we dropped Rica off, Dino felt like driving a little longer and offered to drive Lauren home as well. I have no idea what possessed me, but when he offered, I found myself singing Drive by The Cars. Oops. For one thing, making a 80s reference was sooooo 90s of me. A poor rendition of the song, as performed by a tipsy talentless buffoon, is just plain sad. To my surprise, Lauren was perfectly fine with my act of dorkery. I found out weeks later that she actually thought it was kinda cute.

We dropped Lauren off at her place (during which I expressed my awe at the Big Boy-ish statue in her village), and that was the end of the evening. As I headed home, I remember thinking “Did I really just meet a girl who was smart and funny and sexy and cute and intelligent AND dorky???”

It’s been a year since then, and I can attest to the fact that Lauren really is smart and funny and sexy and cute and intelligent AND dorky.

And she’s bat-shit crazy in love with me. <3

Read on >

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Resolutionary War, or How Survivor will Change My Life in 2010

I fucking hate New Year’s Eve. There, I said it. Every year, my hearing gets a little worse thanks to the fireworks that go BOOM in rapid, obnoxious succession. The smoke from said fireworks is pretty smelly, and it colors my boogers black (heehee, I said “boogers”). I stay up ‘till ungodly hours (read: 9am) because my family heads on over to my lola’s house in Dasmariñas Village AFTER 2am, and we party until after the sun comes up.

Perhaps the thing I dislike most about New Year’s Eve, though, is the resolution-making. Every year, people ask me what my New Year’s resolutions are, to which I mumble incoherently so as to disguise the fact that I don’t have any. I don’t make any resolutions because I think they’re silly, desperate attempts to correct the previous year’s mistakes. I mean, most of the resolutions I’ve heard were all based on what my friends should’ve done in 2009. I should’ve been friendlier, therefore I resolve to be more social this year. I should’ve taken more care of my figure, therefore 2010 will be the year I diet and exercise! I should’ve fallen in love, therefore I will leap at the opportunities that present themselves in 2010.

Blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. I don’t see why people should start their years by thinking immediately of their regrets, nor do I see why they attempt to make up for these regrets by making these vague, impossible-to-fulfill promises to themselves. Saying “I promise to be better” opens you up for disappointment, especially since the goals set during New Year’s Eve are usually too hard to reach.

But this isn’t some rant entry. In fact, it’s supposed to be quite jolly and optimistic and motivational. Let’s rewind and brighten things up, shall we?

In retrospect, New Year’s Eve isn’t too bad. Sure, the fireworks can be deafening, but they’re also really pretty, and I happen to find them very romantic. The smoke does get pretty gross, but the awesome Silent Hill-like fog the morning after makes the city look a lot more interesting. I may lose sleep over the holidays, but that’s because I’m drinking and partying with people I really, really love.

The resolutions, though, I still find kinda silly and desperate. I guess it just isn’t my thing.

And then I remember that 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, which to my overly-cheesy mind reminds me of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger. This, my friends, is THE YEAR OF THE THEME SONG FROM ROCKY. Because The Immortal Power Ballad of Triumph now plays in my head every time I think of what year it is, I must pay due respect to it. I must overcome physical exertion, mental exhaustion, and an indecipherable Italian-American accent. I must challenge myself and succeed. I must… make some New Year’s resolutions.

See, I like to approach life with a little spontaneity. Resolutions kind of take away from that, like planning what you’re going to have for dessert before raiding the fridge does. Telling yourself, “I’m soooooo gonna have ice cream,” before opening your freezer door can have one of two effects – A) You get your ice cream, and you are satisfied over getting exactly what you want; or B) You find that there’s no ice cream, and you’re left with that lingering craving for cold, creamy goodness. Opening the ref without really planning your dessert brings the possibility of pleasant surprises. You can peek into the freezer and go “HOLY SHIT ICE CREAM FUCK YEAH EXPLETIVE EXPLETIVE JOY”. You can find that there’s no ice cream at all, but you weren’t really looking for it anyway, so there wasn’t really any loss. Or you can look into an empty freezer, have your eyes wander downwards, and find cookies that you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them. Approaching life with light expectations (because, of course, you’re still hoping to find dessert in the ref) just brings you more avenues for happiness through serendipity. Heck, the night I met Lauren was a prime example of that (you can read her fantastically-written account of that evening here while I'm still writing my own).

This outlook towards expectations has never really failed me, and I really like the ways things are now. I don’t really put too much pressure on myself or on the things (or people) that make me happy. But then Survivor’s words echo through my mind, and I recall the sweet, sweet feeling of triumph that Rocky reveled in when he got past that final step at the end of the classic movie montage, and it makes me want that feeling. Bad. And if New Year's resolutions can give me that feeling, well... Maybe they aren't so silly after all.

And so, with Eye of the Tiger playing in the background, here are the steps to my Philadelphia Museum of Art:

1. Write all those blog entries I wrote in my head these past two months and finally post them, GODDAMMIT! I’m giving myself until the end of next week for this one.

2. Update my blogs a lot more. Attempt to write an entry in either blog at least once a week. This one counts.

3. Once I’ve gotten the hang of writing more often, shoot for an entry a day for an entire month (probably May or October).

4. Give my sister the Most Awesome Palanca Ever for her final high school retreat.

5. Learn to draw better poses for my doodles.

6. Unlock the mysteries of perspective drawing.

7. Finish a painting I’d actually be proud of.

8. Make my girlfriend insanely, butt-wigglingly happy through some sort of gesture (although this is always a goal).

9. Gain five pounds. Preferably of muscle. Preferably before I take my 6-foot+ junior varsity cousin on in a basketball game I challenged him to.

10. Stop making such stupid challenges.

11. Make enough money to be able to buy myself a Wii, a Rock Band set for Susan (my shiny new Xbox 360) and still have enough left over to keep myself comfortable.

12. Make myself a kick-ass personal calling card.

13. Learn a new skill, or refine an existing one. Drawing doesn’t count.

14. Make at least two more fwends. Two because I’m kinda shy. *blush*

15. Travel one more time (domestic or international) this year, after Bangkok this April.

Okay, so maybe my list is 57 steps short of the 72 that Rocky ran (does this appease you, fellow trivia nerds?), but I’m all about consistency, and staying consistent with myself means keeping my expectations for myself light. I’m also pretty good at disguising my inability to think of more goals (at least those that I think are achievable) through semi-believable rationalization. It’s going to be fun coming back to this list in the future and checking to see what I’ll have achieved by then. I have a horrible feeling I’m going to fail number 10, but 14 out of 15 ain’t so bad. I think. Anyway, I’m going to attack this list and do my goddamn best to rise to the challenges.

Eye of the Tiger, bitches. It’s my year. Roar. Meow.

Read on >