Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quote of the Week


"You know it's love when all you want is that person to be happy, even if you're not part of their happiness."

 -- Jean Zheng

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quote of the Week


"The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end."

 -- Benjamin Disraeli

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jonny Lang, "Only A Man"

I used to live my life in fear
Was worried all the time
From waking up to laying down
I had no peace of mind
The world became a darkened place
A struggle without end
Although bitter times those were
The days that I had began to understand
I was only a man

I grew up singing songs in church
With questions in my mind
Then turned my back and ran away
From God who gave me life
Then one night his presence fell
I wept and shook and then
I fell down and cried, Dear Jesus, rescue me again
I understand I am only a man

And He said, What will it be now?
Will you choose me or keep swimming up stream now?
I've been inside your head hearing you scream out.
Well here I am, just take my hand and I'll take out
All of the pain and all of the fear
All of the fear

I'll give you my burdens (I'll give you peace)
All of my desires (I'll give you what you need)
Oh, what about these chains, Lord? (I'll set you free)
But they're so heavy (Lay them at my feet)
I'll lay them at your feet
Just promise you won't leave (I'll never leave)
So where do I go from here, Lord? (Just follow me)
(Just follow me)
I'll follow you (Just follow me) wherever you lead
Wherever you lead, wherever you lead

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: Ihawan

Category: Filipino
Neighborhood: Woodside
4006 70th St
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 205-1480

4.0 / 5.0 star rating


You'll most likely find a photo of this place under the definition for hole-in-the-wall.

Entering this place fills me with a sudden longing for my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Lysol, and some industrial-strength bug spray, but an intoxicating whiff of greasy pork barbecue in the air, and wham! The fact that this place has allegedly been cited for health concerns suddenly seems inconsequential.

Ihawan arguably has the best barbecue, chicharron bulaklak, and morcon in New York, which, considering that the area it's in is colloquially called Little Manila, is no easy feat. For the portion size, authenticity, and quality of food, the price is more than fair. For a $7 lunch special, you get two choices of entrees and the Philippines' unsung hero, rice. Their barbecue (pork, beef, chicken) is grilled to flavourful, moist, golden brown perfection. Unlike most Pilipino barbecue I've eaten, Ihawan's version stands well on its own; dipping it in the sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, onions, garlic, chili peppers) almost seems like an insult to the barbecue deliciousness. As a testament to its onolicious factor, my pork-loving German-Turk friend declared it was love at first taste between him and the chicharron bulaklak (deep-fried pork ruffles). Despite my warning appetizing description of dinuguan as "pork intestines and/or ground pork in pork blood soup," aforementioned friend eagerly ordered one for himself and declared it delicious. He actually ordered two chicharron bulaklaks, pork barbecue, and lumpia shanghai to go.

Bottom line: if you're not squeamish about the possibility of New York's friendly neighbourhood cockroaches sashaying a la America's Next Top Model, don't care about shrill voices catching up on gossip as background, and aren't OCD about dried rice grains (mumho) lingering on your recently washed utensils, then I say Ihawan is just the place for you.

Surprise Pay it Forward

 Okay, so it's no surprise to those who know me that I've been lurking over at Philofaxy to satiate my organization OCD and Filofax fixation. What makes the Philofaxy community waaaay better than a forum, IMHO, is the community. It's a frienddly, open, intelligent, respectful community of diverse people. So needless to say I've added the lot of them to my blogroll :o)


I have just spotted this great idea on the lovely LJ's blog LJ's Blog of Stuff for a surprise pay it forward. This is how it works:

I will send a surprise gift to the first three people to comment on this post. This gift will be made by me and I will send it sometime within the next year. Exactly when you will receive it will be a surprise (it will probably be a surprise to me too :-D). Seeing as I'm just not that creative, what it will be will also be a total surprise to me.

Of course there are some rules in this game. Here it goes:


1. I will make a little something for the first 3 people that comment on this post. It will be a surprise and may arrive at any time in the next 365 days (yes, a year).

2. To sign up to receive a gift from me you must play along too. Share the giving love on your blog by promising to send a handmade goodie to the first three people that comment on your blog post.

3. You must have a blog.

4. After commenting on my post, you have to post this (or similar) on your blog to spread the love. If you haven't posted in 48 hours then the next commentor will be chosen.

I don't know if three people will even get around to commenting on this, but I will say that if you find this post 6 months from now and only 2 people have left a comment, you can still be commenter #3 and get a random goodie from me! When you comment, I'll email you and get your address and then you will get something from me sometime before next December 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quote of the Week


"You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings." 

-- Pearl S. Buck

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quote of the Week


"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.

 -- Lynn Hall

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dearest Da,

9 years. As of the 14th, it's been nine years since you've gone off to that yet-to-be-definitively-named-or-even-proven-to-exist-place over yonder. Is it the beyond, da? Is there somewhere beyond where I am living and breathing? Are love and memories truly bridges that link the gulf that separates us? Or is there nothing?

Momma is doing well, da. She's back in school, slowly but surely taking steps toward the EdM she gave up on getting the moment she realized that life grew inside of her. My life. Did you ever feel guilty, da. as I sometimes do? Momma gave up her dreams and a career of her own to become your devoted wife and my loving momma. Oh, she has told me time and time again that her dream of being a mom--my mom--is far stronger and much more important than her dream of being a teacher. She did teach me well; I wouldn't have been the successful young woman I am today without her by my side. But still...I feel sad whenever I think about all those lost years and missed opportunities. 

I think I understand you now, da. It's weird how it is in retrospect that I see who you are with clarity. When you didn't shower me with hugs and kisses as a child (like mom did, and still does) or show me much affection, it wasn't because you didn't love me; it was because you never really knew how. But you tried, da. I see that not. You may not have always said "I love you," but you expressed it in your own way. It was in the way you preferred to tell me non-Disney bedtime versions of fairy tales over the phone; you wanted me to know different sides to every story, and to search for my own truth. Your love was in the way you insisted that I take martial arts classes instead of the voice lessons momma wanted. It wasn't because you wanted me to be the son you always wanted but momma never gave birth to; it was because you wanted me to be able to protect myself in times when you could not.

Once in a while I go over your old letters and your old Filofax. The pages are dog-eared, tear-stained, and some are yellowed with age. Ink's faded on some passages, and it's difficult to figure out if you went to visit Dr.  Shen for an EKG or if you kicked the shin of some dude named EG. But no matter. I've memorized your words and held them close.

You've been gone for about a third of my life and you've missed well over half of my life because, well, the Constitution and safety of our country had to come first. But in some ways, those lost years don't matter anymore. I love you, da, and because love is alive, you've grown and changed with me through the years even if you'll always be on the edge of 64 and 2002.

I'll be seeing you again, da. And when I come rushing into your arms, I will once again be that pudgy, pig-tailed little girl with the lacy dress and binoculars, demanding, "Spin me again, daddy! Spin me again!" Someday, I'll dance with you again. 

Quote of the Week


"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." 

-- Madeleine L'Engle

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quote of the Week

“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."

 -- Thomas Paine 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bucket List

Build a house on a cliff that overlooks the sea.

Graduate from university at the top of my class and with at least one award.
Backpack across Europe for at least 6 months.

Go on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise.

Learn how to ride a bike and then a motorcycle

Go on a motorcycle ride through the coast or the countryside.

Fall in love.

Experience heartbreak

Learn how to trust and fall in love again.

Move to Turkey.

Go to Troy, where the valiant Hector once stood.

Dance in the rain.

Dance in the rain with a man I love.

Watch a scary movie without once covering my eyes or hiding behind something or someone. 

Own a cat.

Get a tattoo.

Watch the perfect sunrise.

Watch the perfect sunset.

Experience a perfect moment.

Speak fluent Euskara.

Hug a stranger.

Kiss a stranger.

Jump into the sea or into a pool full-clothed.

Cut off my long hair.

Send an anonymous love letter to someone telling them how amazing and so worthy of being loved they are.

Open a restaurant.

Howl at the moon...naked.

Find the dilapidated fortress I've dreamt of since I was 11.

Go on a road trip Americana.

Ride a mechanical bull.

Meet "The One."

Adopt a child.

Be a great mom like my momma.

Don't speak English for a day.

Enter a cheesy karaoke contest.

Kiss a dolphin.

Face and conquer most of my fears.

Stay in a cave house in Kapadokya.

Start a non-profit organization that empowers refugees and honour crime survivors through education and livelihood workshops.

Walk down the aisle to 'Ka Wailele o Nu'uanu" instead of the traditional wedding march.

Be silent for a day.

Finish and publish "Before This Anger."

Finish and publish "Three Alohas for Nalu."

Meet Simon Cowell and congratulate him on having bigger boobs than I do.

Ask Pope Benedict if he really does wear Armani sunnies and Prada loafers. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quote of the Week


"The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared."

 -- Lois Lowry

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 9: Something that you're proud of in the past few days

I've always been proud of my momma, but these days I am absolutely beaming with pride. See, her childhood dream had always been to teach little kids. She was actually a teacher, but then I was born and my da told her to stay at home to raise me. She never stopped teaching, though. She was my first teacher, after all. She taught me how to read and write by the time I was three years old, and was the reason why I tested into first grade level when I was in kindergarten. (Momma decided against letting me skip grades; she wanted me to be with kids my own age.) 

Anyway. She's back in school now, starting over with the end goal of getting a Master's in Education. Momma's retired now, and instead of spending her retirement playing golf or singing karaoke all day, she's hitting the books. She's doing really well, too; her grades are in the B+/A- range!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 8: Short term goals for the next month and why


Before art, linguistics, politics, womanism and social activism, writing was my first love. My momma loves to tell the story of how, when I was about three, I became so curious and jealous of her signing credit card receipts that I insisted that she teach me how to write my name as well. By age five I wrote little poems, and by seven I was so sad about Bambi's mom's death that I re-wrote Bambi to have a happy ending with her playing with her grandchildren.Simply put, writing was my world.

But then life sort of got in the way. It was during my uni years when writing began to lose its magic, its wonder. Writing term papers on political economy and Sharia Law became the norm and before I knew it, I barely had time to write for myself. Later on, I wrote grant proposals and reports on gender violence, genocide and war. Writing became something I had to do. Because it became an obligation, I avoided writing during my free time. I created art. I hiked. I wrote e-mails. I scheduled "Quote of the Week" posts for this blog. But I didn't write for the sake of writing.

I would like to re-claim the magic I felt as a three-year-old, which is why I'm joining NaNoWriMo , which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every year in November, participants are given the task of writing at least 50,000 words. There are no "winners" per se; you get kudos for completing it. It will certainly be an interesting time, and I hope I can complete this task.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 7: A picture of something or someone that has made a big impact on you

Her name is Sharbat Gula, and she is the face and name behind the haunting National Geographic cover. I was six  years old when, being the snoop that I am, I came across my da's old collection of iconic magazine covers. I asked my da, "Why is she so sad? She would be so beautiful if she smiled." My da looked at me sadly and said, "Well, darlin', she looks sad because she and her family lost her home because of war." I naively suggested that we should send her some of my toys, and maybe half my piggy bank so she and her family could find an apartment.

Da looked at me strangely--I remember thinking he looked like he was holding back tears--as he explained to me that while it was sweet that I wanted to help, this little girl and her family were probably already dead. He tried as best he could to explain war, displacement and starvation to a 6-year-old girl. I remember crying myself to sleep that night. "Dead" was a concept I'd yet to understand. To me "death" was like sleeping, and I wanted so badly for a prince to find this beauty, so she could live again. And maybe, just maybe I'd find her one day and send her my toys. Then this girl with the haunting eyes would smile.

It is because of Sharbat Gula that the seed of humanitarianism was planted inside of me. Through the years I became actively involved with advocacy for survivors of war, genocide, gender violence and honour crimes. More often than not, being in this field has brought me heartache. Some days i feel like I cannot bear to hear one more story of raped women and babies killed in front of their mothers.

But then I remember that in 1999, as my da and i were watching PBS, there was a special that caught both our eyes. It was the search for the girl with the haunting eyes.

Her name is Sharbat Gula.

She didn't die.

She was 30 when they found her again, married with children. And her haunting eyes burnt as bright as ever, telling me to keep the faith. To stay the course in humanitarianism. For her. For her children. And for their children, and many more children in generations to come.

Hope lives.

Quote of the Week



I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves. 

--Wilma Mankiller, (former) Chief of the Cherokee Nation 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quote of the Week


For in the end, freedom is a personal and lonely battle; and one faces down fears of today so that those of tomorrow might be engaged.

--Alice Walker 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Set-Up: Personal Filofax Finsbury in Red

After a couple of weeks of using my personal Filofax Osterley in Wine (as the colour is called here in the States), I've come to the decision that as beautiful as she is and as much as I love her, Ms. Luxurious Crocodile-Embossed Leather just does not fit my current on-the-go lifestyle. Even if I put her inside a dust bag before putting her inside my bag, I am still so paranoid about getting any scratches on her. And then there was that time when I used an anti-bacterial gel. I thought my hands were dry, but when I opened the organizer, a wee part of the leather became discoloured :o(

I'm now using a personal Finsbury in red and if you can believe it, is actually a simpler, slimmed down version of my usual ;o) Just one ruler, one business/credit card holder, no dpp. It also functions as a wallet...Heaven help me. Eventually I will do a major overhaul, but for now, this system works.

I will write more detailed posts later, but for now, here are some  (low-res camera phone) photos:

We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl