Monday, March 29, 2010

earth hour 2010

for earth hour 2010...
we did some lightpainting/writing using a led flashlight!

ige drew a truck

i wrote a little more.

ige and his mom played pinoy henyo.

this is for ige's dad, who's in canada.

we also made ige twins

having the lights off sure makes one sleepy!

--- --- --- --- --- ---
Earth Hour 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010, 8:30-9:30pm
what did you do during earth hour?

I once lived in a floating house

it was only for a few days, but it gave me some of the best memories of college life.

We were into our third year in our bachelors in Sociology when we had an exposure trip to the Magat Lake community in Ramon, Isabela.  The fourth-year class was also with us, and a handful of us volunteered to experience community life on 'floating houses'--houses made of light materials that were built on bamboo and literally floated on the water.  The houses were surrounded by fishpens and were tethered to the nearest piece of land by a long, fat rope.  Rej, my college bestie, was my buddy and we were taken to a small floating house to a young family who would be taking care of us during our stay.  Ate and Kuya had two little boys, chickens, a puppy, and a cat.  Our floating house had electricity (care of car batteries and a generator), television, tilapia and bighead fishpens, and a couple of small boats.  We also had a small 'comfort room', a stall covered by empty rice sacks.  It didn't have a roof, and at night when we took our showers we could see the stars.

Community profiling by land and 'sea' for the win!  :)

our little brother, mom, and older brother

part of the immersion was a trip to the hydroelectric plant.

market day


dog barkada on an early morning romp

studying with a chicken

feeding the fish

our bunso at his favorite spot beside the tv

coming home


cat.  she slept in the boat.

swimming chicken.

morning stretch.  with chickens.


they call this fish Imelda.

lola, little brother, rej, kuya (nanay's brother), nanay, littlest brother, tatay

beside our floating house

i woke up to this.  glad to have been here.

I used my lolo's Canon FTQL SLR camera with the 50mm/1.8 lens (which I took for granted before, now I know the different kinds of lenses, yay!). I was trying out my hand in photography then and I taught myself the basics with the FTQL--so you really have to excuse the overexposure and such. It's a heavy camera and I'm proud it survived the immersion (it didn't fall into the murky water!). As for the film, my favorite was the Fuji Superia asa400 and that's what I used for the trip. I had the film processed and printed at Kodak in Dapitan. This was in 2003 and digital cameras still had to make their way to the Philippine market (I think), and most of my printed photos were (unfortunately) used for our reporting and presentation. Good thing that today's technology allows for negative scanning directly to cd, and so after almost seven years, I finally have digital files of my film photos. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010



a lot of my daily musings about interesting projects to do and about life in general happen when i'm riding the bus to work.  i stare out the window, but sometimes i don't really 'look'--my thoughts are elsewhere, planning, reminiscing, daydreaming.  a couple of days ago i was in this state of mind, recalling the phone call i had with ige the night before.  he was describing to me the photos from the set of negatives i had scanned by a photo store near his office and had him pick up after work.  some of those photos were of my college buddies.  we were part of a university-wide writers group, and i took the photo before a workshop.  my thoughts flew to 'muses' and how they 'inspired' writers to come up with really good stuff.  for example, gelo had his nymph (for a time), ramil had his duende, even fictional characters had their own muses. 

it was at this point that i realized i didn't have one.

"hello good afternoon."
"miss lauren?  si __ 'to ng hr."
"yes ma'am?"
"tanong ko lang, nagba-badminton ka ba?"
"ay hindi po eh, si __ po ang alam ko, pero hindi pala kami magka-team." (sa volleyball ako nagpalista)
"ah ganun ba, sige ok lang.  ano nga pala, pwede ka bang mag-muse?"
[di ko na matandaan ang takbo ng usapan]
"may choice po bang iba?  'yung iba po sa blue team!"
"ikaw na kasi ang napili eh."
"aah."  (so bakit nga pala nagtanong pa kayo?)
"so okay ka na ha."
"okay...  sige po thank you, bye."


as i got out of the office this nagging thought came to mind: "what the hell am i going to wear?"  i racked my brain for sports that didn't call for body-fitting outfits, and i came up with chess, "maybe i can go as a mountaineer", *what have i gotten myself into???*, "hey maybe i can wear a surfsuit with an inner tube and goggles", "i'd wear a blue dress! only i only have red ones...", and the 'easiest' sport to dress up in, running (i already have a singlet, which really isn't much.).

they were expecting the muse to dress "'yung medyo sexy", btw.

when i got home i told my parents that their eldest daughter is to be a muse for the employees' sportsfest.  "'yung pang-jogging!" may dad suggested.

"the objectification of the body."


the last time i did anything close to representing a team physical beauty-wise was in sophomore year in high school.  i was the designated miss intramurals for our class of nerds, and my then-boyfriend (he was my first 'boyfriend', and yes, i started in the intimate relationship business a little early) was the escort/mr. intrams.  when i told my mom about it, she accompanied me to sm department store to pick an outfit.  it was a blue striped top and a plain blue miniskirt.  the next day i went back to sm and picked out a different outfit, a brick-orange sleeveless top and skirt, something you'd wear during a tennis match.  i didn't tell my mom.

my friends helped me to look more like a girl by putting a pair of wedges on my feet, tying my hair up in pigtails, and adding a few dashes of blush on my cheeks.

one of our teachers said i looked like baby spice.


next week i'll be spending time with ige's family (+cousins) in ilocos.
the week after that, we're conducting a leadership training in zambales, by the beach.
the week after that is *the* sportsfest parade, where yours truly will be sashaying in full battle gear, whatever that is.
saturday after the parade, my cousin's getting married, a *very formal* and 'themed' event, and i still have nothing to wear.
the week after that, we have an exposure trip in marinduque.
after that, i'll only have a week to prepare for our annual youth camp.

busy, busy.


ang haba ng hair ko 'no?


itigil na ang kahibangang ito.  hindi ako mapagpursige sa larangan ng malikhaing pagsusulat.  hindi ko kayang paglaruin ang mga talinghaga sa ilalim ng liwanag ng buwan ng aking kamalayan.  wa akong k magpaka-makata at wala akong kwentang kwentista, sapagkat ako'y walang musa.  ako ang musa!!!

just a phone call away

i remember calling him at around one in the morning just to keep him awake so he can finish working on something.  i felt like i was back in high school, trying to get myself to call my crush.  it was a butterflies-in-the-stomach-smiling-while-talking experience for me, and one i'm not likely to forget anytime soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Other City

got a call for papers in the mail from mervmark salvatus is interested.  i want to explore too.  nice concept.  in anthro we call 'the other city' as 'the periphery'.


Papers are invited for publication in a collected volume entitled The Other City: Emergent Urban Cultures. Editors are Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, Tutun Mukherjee, Christopher Larkosh, Agata Anna Lisiak, and Asuncón López-Varela Azcaráte. The volume is considered to be published pending peer review by Cambridge University Press India.

Contributors to the volume are expected to examine urban cultures in a global context but beyond the conventionally limited and so-called A-list of global cities. How do other cities represent many of the same trends that scholars have identified as characteristic of the self-proclaimed first tier of the world's national, political, economic, and cultural capitals? May there even be something in these other cities that cannot exist in the larger urban centres by their very nature? How do these other cities exhibit alternative forms of global network(ing)? How do (im)migrants, minorities, and subcultures participate actively in the continuous redefinition of these other cities? How do representations in art, architecture, literature, film, and other categories of cultural products/production reflect the shifting and the fluid nature of these urban identities?

Among others, contributors shall investigate the phenomenon of the second city, a space that defines itself in opposition to the first city and, at the same time, embraces its empowering international/global identity. Papers of 5500-6000 words in length, including works cited in the MLA style with endnotes, are to be submitted by 31 May 2010 to Steven Totosy de Zepetnek at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down, but Foodways and Holidays Always Fill Me Up

In my previous post I pasted an old article/paper I made for grad school.  I'm putting another one here, this time about food. :)  Note: Rainy days don't get me down ha, it's just for the title.  Hehe.  I want more rain (in moderate amounts, please), especially in this heat.  Note to self: do your thesis.  Now.

Things that come but once a year—fiestas,  homecomings, graduations, promotions, birthdays, holidays—are bound to be full of festivity, frivolity, and of course, flavors.  The idea of rejoicing and merriment for someone or something that’s ‘finally here’ is not complete without sumptuous cooking (and dare I say, the huge amounts of cholesterol with it).
For this reflection I attempt to look into different aspects of culture as seen in the foodways of three different festive occasions I attended over the holidays: a birthday celebration held two days before Christmas, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.  I aim to look at how food affects kin relations, how it, with family tradition, changes over time, how it ‘creates’ new traditions, and how it even brings about fond memories within the family.  Let me share with you my observations on food and eating regarding the three events, hopefully establishing what I think is an interesting and colorful picture of food culture.
 *For this blog post I'll just put here my observations for the third event, the New Year's Day lunch.
Pancit ni Lola vs. Carbonara ni Tita
            Like in many other families, food and fireworks are a yearly must for New Year’s Eve in our family, and it is also a time for a special chicken noodle soup, fondly called “Sopas ni Daddy” after my late grandfather (my mother’s father).  Consumed with fiesta hams (or so my grandmother Mommy said, “ham sweet ham”), queso de bola, and red wine or soda, it was the best hot food for our gurgling stomachs as we waited for the kitchen clock to chime twelve.  My mother told me that she learned the recipe from Daddy, who in turn learned the recipe from his mother.  It was another dish I wanted to learn and pass on.
Traditionally, while Christmas is spent with my mother’s side of the family, January 1st is ‘reserved’ for my father’s relatives because of the double celebration—my late grandfather’s (my father’s father’s) birthday.  With no time to prepare the food ourselves, my grandmother decided to ‘call a friend’ and have the food catered.  Unfortunately, the caterer was away, and my mom finally took it into her hands, and dialed a friend.  “Except the pancit,” my grandmother reminded her.  “Anabel’s bringing it,” she said, referring to her firstborn.
My mother’s magic finger brought about fish fillet, lumpiang shanghai, beef with broccoli, mashed potatoes with buttered vegetables, buko pandan,  and chicken lollipops “for the kids” (old kids included).  My grandmother made her quail egg soup, another yearly tradition but one which some of us would love to dispose of, because she made so much we had to eat the leftovers for the next three days.  Alas, it cannot be easily scraped off the menu—“Tradisyon na ‘yon eh.”  
Eating time and everyone was present, except for my aunt who was tasked to bring the pancit.  “Okay lang, kain na tayo, pancit naman ‘yon eh, pwedeng i-merienda,” said Lola.  So we dug in and ate with gusto, many thanks to the caterer who sacrificed the first hours of the new year preparing the food.  
When my aunt arrived with a big bowl, my grandmother exclaimed, “Ang daming pancit niyan!” to which my aunt replied, “Di ‘to pancit, carbonara ‘yung ginawa ko.”  From then my grandmother started her new year with a frown.  When I visited the kitchen to stack my used plate, I heard her grumble “Sabi ko pancit eh, iba naman ‘yung dinala.”  It was very good pasta by the way, and somehow I felt sorry for my grandmother because she couldn’t appreciate the different flavor it offered.  But then again, my grandmother is firmly grounded in her (conservative) beliefs, and I understood why she rejected the idea of substituting one “long-life” dish for another.
While that drama in the kitchen was unfolding, my cousins were happily chomping on after-meal chips while watching the television, completely oblivious of the breach of tradition that had just taken place.

[Deleted: some academic stuff/analysis here.]
Breaking a tradition is considered taboo—as for the pancit-turned-carbonara, I suppose it will take a couple of years more for the pasta to be accepted as a fitting substitute for the ever-so-present pancit.  Looking into the effect on the relationship between mother and daughter because of this instance, we can say that the disapproval by the mother has passed, yet it is possible that the daughter may not be tasked—trusted—again with the dish.  Frowned upon but also worth mentioning here is women and beer—it is not widely accepted in our family that women drink—red wine, yes, but beer, never.  Consumption of alcoholic drinks is genderized, favoring the masculine.  
Traditions do change over time—if not in the kind of dishes served during special occasions, then in the manner of preparing them.  What used to be an all-morning affair of cooking became a mere thirty-minute ride to the caterer’s to pick up the food for the New Year’s Day celebration.  If things stay as busy the next year, then it’s a phone call to the caterers again, but the eating and festivities will undoubtedly push through.
Oh, such a heavy burden the word “tradition” puts on later generations!  But then, who’s complaining?  As long as food keeps families together and stomachs full, the way I see it, food traditions will surely stay.  And if anyone still craves for more, well, there’s always next year.  
And the next, 
and the next.

my graffiti notes, 2005

I wrote this paper for grad school, during the second sem of the school year 2005-2006.  Looong time ago.  I'm reminiscing, my 'method' of getting myself to write again.  I reread a couple of articles and hey, I wrote well (or so I like to think).  I'll share the articles here.  Do forgive the length of the posts; it's been a while since I wrote anything 'long' anyway.  The course was Special Problems in Philippine Communities if I remember correctly.
Read n' Pee: an exploration of latrinalia in schools
When I was in my junior year in high school, I had a ‘favorite’ cubicle in the girls’ comfort room, which was conveniently situated right beside our classroom.  It was the one farthest from the door, right where the window was.  I liked it not because I enjoyed looking outside or because I welcomed voyeurs, but because no one else seemed to use it—maybe the other girls feared somebody from the tree across the building might be peeking, I don’t know—the cubicle was always “clean”: unlike the other cubicles, my cubicle had little or no trash at all in its garbage bin, the toilet was spotless (just like the last time I used it), and, the most striking difference of all, the cubicle door had nothing but pale pink paint on it.
The other cubicle doors were like open forums, covering a wide range of topics from terror teachers to crushes, answers to exams, the latest catfights due to boyfriend-stealing, and, as Nokia 5110’s and 3210’s became popular, most cubicle doors served as directories.  I got my daily dose of gossip and exam leakage from reading those latrinalia (as Allan Dundes put it).  This of course meant that I occasionally visited cubicles other than my own.  I had no problem with that whatsoever, so long as I was being entertained by what the other girls wrote about.
When I asked my younger sisters who are both in high school if their cubicle doors had graffiti on them, they said no, the doors are clean now because of the repainting done.  “But the grade school CRs have lots of cellphone numbers posted in them,” said my youngest sister, who admitted she sometimes went to the other comfort room to wash up after lunch.  Maybe Sister X hasn’t checked that part.
For this assignment I went back to my alma mater, the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters, which is notorious for all kinds of latrinalia, being a haven of students interested in politics, economics, social science, the humanities, the arts, media, philosophy, literature, law, show business, and in being pretty.  (For some reason AB girls were expected to have it all—good looks and good brains, but sometimes it’s easier to put makeup on.)  I wanted to catch up on gossip, like, who’s going out with whom now, who got herself pregnant again, who shagged this particular professor, who’s being called a “pokpok”. 
Upon entering the building I first went to our publication office to see how things are going with the paper.  After a few minutes chatting with my juniors I asked them if students were still writing on comfort room cubicle doors.  They gave me a grave look.  It turns out that because of the upcoming accreditation, the administration did some cleaning-up and repainted the doors, fixed locks, and simply made everything look presentable and smell pleasant enough.  It only happens during accreditation days, and I was in bad timing.  I had  a small consolation though; because I opened up the topic, the publication staff enthusiastically recalled the most memorable latrinalia they encountered in the building.
Because I was already well-acquainted with girls’ comfort room vandalism, I wanted to know about what the boys wrote about.  One of the editors recalled a ‘philosophical debate about God, right smack on the wall’ that had a huge following—it started with a question, and a lot answered.  “No two responses were the same,” said my friend.  “I think it was the question ‘Does God really exist?’ but as the discussion lengthened, the topic blurred, ” he continued.  He added that he knew some of the people who joined that discussion—in fact, he mentioned that two of the publication’s editors not only joined in, but also made some proofreader’s marks, encircling and correcting statements with wrong grammar using red markers.
When it was time for me to go to UP for my class, I thought I’d give my exploration of latrinalia one last chance.  I went up to Palma Hall and chose to do my business in the ladies’ room on the ground floor, in a cubicle somewhere in the middle.  The text written on the cubicle door was interesting.  It posed the question, “how to sexually please a guy? (ans. please Ű) ” to which, underneath, the one who made the query wrote numbers, as if providing a place for a list.  In Number 1 someone answered, “make pakipot they Y the chase!”  Number 2 answer read like “have phone sex w/ him & then what you about…”  Numbers 3 and 4 were left blank, but somebody commented on all this with a “slut!” beneath the list.  Aside from the help wanted, there were other words written, such as “I love u, Duke!!!” with a smiley.  Others have become faded or have already been painted over.  
[Deleted for this post: academic references and stuff] 
It is this "imagined community" that defines the contemporary culture of graffiti.  Through writings on public spaces, authors are defined by a shared identity, in which they construct individuality.  Furthermore, Bartolomeo stresses that people create culture through a shared use and understanding of symbols — creating a cohesive group and community. An element distinctive of Anderson's imagined community is the defining force by which the act of sharing and participating, though it may only be vicariously, in a behavior, group, or aspect of society is what truly creates a sense of cohesion.
*   *   *
Graffiti, for me has become a form of entertainment and a window to different “worlds”—in this case, the world of the students of different campuses, from grade school to college.  Graffiti also came to be associated with another word: vandalism.  My focus on latrinalia showed me how easily graffiti on bathroom stall doors can easily be covered up by those who try to be in control; however, it also opened up for me a whole new perspective.
I acknowledge Phillips’ Meeker’s, and Bartolomeo’s works, who looked at graffiti as forms of resistance and links to the social world.  Allan Dundes’ word for graffiti done in public bathrooms, latrinalia, was for me a very catchy term, and difficult to forget especially for those who have experienced it—reading and writing both.  It sounds like an art term, and indeed it is, for the writers who take part in doing this kind of graffiti are definitely using the bathrooms as the mediums for self-expression and communication. 
And what about group identity?  Can I say that those who participate in latrinalia discussions identify themselves as part of the group, as sharing the same “identities” with others?  That, they are on the same “level”?  Perhaps, and it would not be wrong to say otherwise.  The latrinalia I have read in my lifetime and what others have told me are symbols of a collective identity, but with each differing statement, we can see individuality, whether the authors agree or not on whatever’s written.  What else do these forms of graffiti tell us about Philippine communities? 
Taboo subjects like sex (“how to sexually please a guy?”) and religion (“Does God really exist?”) are not discussed out in the open, but the youth have other ways of making their sentiments known.  It is telling us that the views and attitudes of society are changing—young people are reaching out to others to share with them insights, and the bathrooms have become venues of public forums.  
There are other things I want to learn about graffiti, especially latrinalia.  Are the writers participating in a latrinalia discussion expressing their true selves because of the anonymous nature?  What are the motives behind professing love behind a door, when only persons of the same gender can read the statements?  Do the “primary authors” purposely go back to the cubicles where they wrote, to see and check if somebody has written a comment?  Whose numbers are written on the doors—the authors’ or someone else they hated?  Do the persons who leave their own numbers expect someone to call?  A host of other questions, to be explored another time.
Latrinalia?  I think I may have found a new hobby.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


or, The Boston Terrier Formerly Known As Shaquille.

Frank almost made me late today!  He insisted on seeing me off, but he wasn't ready yet!

I'm not really sure if I have eye contact with him. Hehe.

Papa teaching him to walk on a leash so he can see me off.  Note the hesitation.

Waving goodbye.

We never thought we would have a dog like this.  By 'like this' I mean 'snoutless" with large eyes, and almost no tail.  We really don't find Frank's breed "gwapo" and we say "ampanget!" whenever we see him (or talk about him).  But I think that's going to change--he's growing on us already, and we're getting used to the idea of having a dog like him as part of the family.  How large is his new family?  Well we already have two doxies, a yellow-white labrador, a golden retriever, a lab-retriever cross, two aspins, two rats, two bettas, five goldfish, a black and an albino catfish, and around thirteen (regular) cats.  So as you can see, we have our hands full already--but then came the gift that is four-month-old Frank, and we really couldn't refuse.  Look at those eyes.  Haha.  Well, his breed is good with kids and other pets, so I guess he's a keeper!  :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

surprise party

i really didn't plan on celebrating my birthday in the office today since we're four people short, and i wanted to share my blessings when everyone's present.  our assistant director ordered some of my favorite food anyway, and so all i could do was er, get some ice cream.  they took care of all the rest: savory pancit canton and lumpia, chocolate cake rolls (complete with a candle!), and softdrinks.

 all i could offer

as you can see, we also invited our rector.


lots of thanks to my officemates! :)

birthday doodle

look! there's gypsy!
(this is the teeny tiny signature at the bottom)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

ngayong umaga, o, kwento ng isang transient

5:30 ng umaga, sa kusina.  kinausap ako ni lola.

malapit na ah...
ano po?
di ba sa 4 ka?
ano'ng araw 'yon, friday?
ah, thursday.
sa'n tayo uupo?
ay may pasok ka 'no?
meron po.
di ba alam ni mommy mo?
alam po.
e di sana nag-stay pa siya.

eto agad ang naisip ko: ah, lola, kung nag-stay pa po si mommy (nanay ng nanay ko), sa sopa na naman ako gigising, kahit sa araw ng kaarawan ko.  ayoko nang mag-buhay transient.  gusto ko namang matikman ulit ang matulog sa kama, give me liberty or give me death, i am the captain of my fate i am the master of my soul.

dati kasi, sa sopa ako natutulog by choice--dahil gising pa ang mga kapatid ko sa kwarto namin (bukas pa ang mga ilaw, maingay sila, etc.), may gusto akong trabahuhin sa laptop at sa living room lang may space o kaya may project ako at pag pagod na ay sasalampak na lang ako sa sopa, ganun.  ngayon, natutulog na lang ako du'n by default, pag nandiyan si mommy.  'yun kasi ang napagkasunduan simula nu'ng binigay na 'yung guest room sa akin pagkatapos kong magdrama na "di ko na alam kung saan ako lulugar!" sa bahay.

mas dati pa: pagkatapos kong gumgraduate, sabi ko sa tatay ko, "pa, mage-m.a. na 'ko, kailangan ko na ng sarili kong kwarto," sa pagdadahilang mas kailangang magbasa/mag-aral at di ko magagawa iyon pag ang naririnig ko ay ang ingay ng mga kapatid ko.  pumayag naman ang tatay ko, at naisip na du'n ako ilagay sa guest room.  nagkataong noong bakasyon na iyon, naospital si mommy (pagkagaling sa baguio).  sa amin iniuwi para maalagaan ni mama, at naging kwarto na niya ang guest room.  di pa naman ako nagka-clamor masyado noon.

konting forward: ginamit ko ring kwarto 'yung kwarto ni kuya noong umupa sila ni mina ng apartment malapit sa lourdes.  nakatapos ako ng marami-raming papers noong doon ako nagstay.  nilatag ko 'yung banig ko sa kama ni kuya at doon natulog ng ilang oras bago balikan ang laptop.  evacuation mode na naman ako nu'ng bumalik na sila, ipapanganak na kasi si miel.

ayun ang mababaw na masalimuot kong buhay bilang isang bedspacer.  tapos heto ang lola ko at tila kinukunsinti na niya (indirectly) ang pagtulog ko sa sopa, siya na nagsabi na "hindi naman bedroom ang living room," tuwing nalalaman niyang doon ako natulog. 

hay, basta masaya na ako na ngayon (as in as of today), may nagagamit akong kwarto, kahit olats sa umaga pag gising na ang mga anghel at nagsisimula nang magsipag.  okay na 'yun.  "maraming tao ang walang bahay."

ay, may isa pa pala.  may binanggit ang nanay ko noon na pagagawan daw niya ng 'extension' ang kwarto nila, parang ekstrang kwarto na ang pintuan ay sa labas, para raw sa akin. 

o baka napanaginipan ko lang 'yon?

makabili na nga ng kubo.