Saturday, July 30, 2016

Merkado in Art District

The inspiration to write has a switch. But unlike switches wherein you can just press up or down to turn it on, writing belongs to a different kind. To turn it on is like yawning when you feel sleepy. Or running when a mad dog attacks you. Or singing when you hear (or at least when I hear) this on the radio, "When I think of home I think of a place where there's love overflowing..." The process has been like that. Today, I get back to write because I found this beautiful place. I was lost along Lacson Street way past Robinsons Mall, walked under a gloomy sky, when I saw this signage, Merkado, within Art District. No one was inside. That made it more interesting. 

 Inside, this met my eyes.

I have always loved wood furnitures so I stayed and checked the menu. And the music commanded me to stay.

It was cold outside and even colder inside so I decided to get a hot drink - hot cocoa. It was heavenly. And easy on the pocket. And you have the option to use honey as sweetener. Honey, it was so good on the palate. I want more warming, so I ordered, fish tinola.

And yes, they have red rice. In fact, they have black rice too. 

This afternoon is about two things. Getting lost but finding one great place to dine. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gay Marie

I call her with her Gay Marie. She calls me Jay Cris. When Mel and Jay, two famous tv show hosts, parted ways in television, Gay and I started our toastmasters journey in 2007. Our first meeting was very memorable. Well to make it more vivid. It was embarrassing. It was one Friday evening. She delivered a speech. I was her evaluator. She was so full of energy and honestly she was already very good for basic speech project number 4. I tried to match her being articulate and energy, I opened my evaluation with my usual loud voice saying, Good evening TM Gay Marie Gane. She was single at that time. When suddenly all barangay toastmaster members chorused in telling me - Gane! I was silent. Well, I was embarrassed. Moral of the story, you can never be too good with names. Most of the time, they are so tricky. Since then, we became inseparable as hosts. When Riverside and Barangay did joint meetings, such as during Buwan ng Wika meeting, we took the role as toastmasters of the evening. Perhaps we complemented well, that fellow toastmasters took it to a higher level. When Division D hosted the Midyear Convention in 2008, we hosted together the Masskara themed Fellowship night, where Marty Go of ABS CBN did an ambush interview after the event. If Mel and Jay watched that interview, they would have realized, they did what was right - ended the show. In with the new, out with the old. We journeyed together in our respective toastmasters life. We both became Club Presidents in 2010 where she led Barangay to achieve Presidents Distinguished Club. It was also in her term as President that BTMC turned 50 years. But I tell you, she is not as old as her club. We became Area Governors also in the same year, 2013, the year when both of us stopped competing with each other in a Speech Contest. Simply because we are not allowed to compete. Otherwise, we are always on the same stage trying to outdo one another! Those were the very rare moments that our friendship is put on hold! We don't smile at each other and no one accepts any beverage even for free be it coffee or juice if it comes from me or from her. In other words, stay away from your enemy. If its contest time, its friendship over for us! But of course whatever the results of the contest, we became friends again! We both suffered from short-term memory loss. I must say though that she is undeniably the best table topics speaker of the division! That being said, she became Division Champion in Table Topics three times. A record for any toastmaster in the division. And in 2014, she won 1st Runner Up in National Table Topics Contest. She was also Division Champion in Evaluation and Prepared International Speech. To complete her collection would only be one, being a Division Humorous Speech Champion. Who knows, next year, she will be. Now that she is taking another toastmaster track which is on leadership, I couldn't be more proud. I know she will leave beautiful memories and legacies as a leader as she said, its now time to give back to the organization that she loves and she works full-time even without pay. In fact if her efforts given to toastmasters will have monetary yield, undoubtedly she will be the richest toastmaster. Her passion is flaming hot that its very very contagious! Her passion is the energy that drives excellence and superior results! Fellow slaves and servants, how about a big round of applause to our Division Director, very soon to be Distinguished Toastmaster Gay Marie Gane Tiu!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lessons From A Seesaw

When I was growing up, people tell me, "Jay, soar high" or "Fly high like an eagle." Now that I am over 20’s, they tell me, "Jay, What goes up, must come down" or Jay, it's lonely at the top." Now I end up confused. Then I realized the world is full of confusing Confucius. And so I began to think, really, where should I position myself - up or down.

Then this Pia Wurtzback moment happened  in one of the seminars I attended with this question, "If you were to find an object that resembles your life, what would that be?" I began to do what they say, connecting the dots by looking backward. Confidently beautiful with a heart, I answered, “My life is like a seesaw.”

My sister and I are not only siblings. We are also the best of friends. Every sundays, after we attend mass, we would sneak out of our parents eyes, and play the seesaw. My sister, being bigger and heavier at that time, would always bring the other end of the seesaw at its highest position, her evil smile all over her face while my face got paler and paler out of fear from falling. Then I realized its not only lonely at the top. It is scary at the top.

My academic life in grade school and in high school also resembles that of a seesaw. I was first honors in grade 1, second honors in grade 2, third honors in grade 3, and guess what  place I landed in grade 4? I was first honors again. In grade 5, I was second honors, and in grade 6, I graduated... Second honors. In high school, I finished 1st year with fourth honors, 2nd year with 3rd honors, 3rd year with 1st honors, and graduated high school with 2nd honors. My medal collection just like your multivitamins, they are complete. And I bet if my parents can only bring back time, they would have named me Segundo or Thirdy.

For a high school student who devoted his exciting four years with extra curricular activities writing for the school paper as a feature editor, competed in Regional Schools Press Conference, represented the school in declamation and oratorical contests, and end up being a Chemist, elicited reactions ranging from a simple rise of the right eyebrow to the most detestable question as if  I committed a heinous crime, "Why? What happened?" And when I tell them, “Chemistry has all the solutions in life.” They just look at me, leave, and never look back.

I spent my four years in college, balancing equations. Our chemistry professor will just barge inside  Science Complex 115,  write chemical reactions on the board, and tell us, "balance the equation!" When she comes back, she will tell us, "Insufficient, inadequate, wrong. You cannot graduate if you cannot balance equations!”

Many years ago, I had a funny story in Dumaguete City where I was already followed by the ambulance because I was already the last runner and made a resolve to hitch in the vehicle instead thus I restored my 7 pesos fare going back to the hotel, and most especially, my ego.  I got super addicted to running. At first I was content with 5 kilometers, progressed to 10 kilometers, then to 21 kilometers. I ran all runs there were available, from 30 kilometers to 34 kilometers, and to 50 kilometers while working, while staying late at night with friends, while making the most out of life. I was always in a hurry. I was always beating the red light trying to do all things in day. Because I thought I am invincible. No one and nothing can stop me.

Until I was confined in the hospital for 4 days. It was the longest red light of my life. Like in a seminar when things go out of order we say, "Process Check!", "Process Check!"

And then suddenly, I remembered the seesaw game with my sister. How I felt fear gripped me because because  I was at the top. Had it been going up and down, I would have enjoyed the game.  And how my academic years were going up and down nevertheless I discovered my love for writing and public speaking. And how in College should we muster the art of balancing equations to graduate. These events in my life point to one word: Balance. Chemists balance equations. CPA's balance worksheets. Jounalists write balanced stories.

Man by natute is insatiable. Ambitious. When we achieve small sucessess in life we don’t usually stop. We want more. More money. More fame. More power. But in those four days I spent lying in my hospital bed made me realize that the traffic of our life cannot just be purely green. To just go, go, and go. Get, get, and get. We must learn to obey the orange light and most especially the red light. Learning when to pause and learning when to stop. When times comes when you are so down, strike a balance. When you are over speeding, strike a balance. From a balanced seesaw, to a balanced equation, to what we call a balanced life. So its not, "Jay soar high, or Jay what goes up must come down, but Jay srike to balance."

Sunday, January 17, 2016