What to eat?

I refrain from eating meat since the start of November. For the first week, I was adjusting because I’m a useless homo sapien in the kitchen. In short, I don’t cook.

I have to use a lifeline, ie. call my mother how to cook this and that. She was laughing hard because one time, I have to ask her how will to boil banana (saba). Ok, ok, don’t give me that eyeball roll.

Lately, I’ve been devouring lots of fruits and veggies. I don’t even crave meat. A good thing.

I expect to lose weight in a month or two just by changing this diet. To think that I even run on the sides.

Below are some of my dishes.

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Why my reading backlogs are piling up.

I read one book per week. Okay, that’s a little slow versus hardcore readers out there. But for someone who has a work daily from Monday to Saturday, and who only finds the time to read in between meals and at night, one book a week is somewhat acceptable.

But the past 3 weeks, I have been shutting my eyes from browsing through pages of pulp fiction. The culprit? TV series. I know, lame. How can a reader prefer the boob-tube over books!

TV series, at least in the UK and US, has been very nice for the past several years. They are like mini-movies in terms of cinematography and production design. I don’t watch local Pinoy telenovelas.

Aside from my usual staples of TV series that I enjoy for several seasons like Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, The Killing, Homeland, The Good Wife, and Dexter there are also newly released TV shows that looks promising.

My evenings are spent on these new shows. You may also like them.

1. Orphan Black (BBC America). This is a Canadian production, and the first season (with 10 episodes) was pick by BBC America for US audience. It tells the cautionary tale of cloning humans in the modern world. It’s fast-paced, gripping and the lead star, Tatiana Maslany, is a believable character doing different roles.

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2. The Bridge (AMC). After Breaking Bad ended, I was kinda looking for a TV series with the same setting—desert, drug cartel, and the like. I think that I find that association in The Bridge, the US version of a Swede tv series (UK/French has its own version titled The Tunnel). It is about a killer within the El Paso (Texas) and Juarez (Mexico) border. The first season has just ended, and I suggest you watch it.

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I am currently watching Under The Dome (CBS), but these two new series are far more superior in terms of storyline. I don’t know if I will go back to reading after I finish this, but two series are lining up! The Fall and Top of the Lake.

Well, I guess I have to balance the two. Reading and watching TV series can co-exist in my busy schedule.

 

The best films of the year are starting to be release.

It’s fall season in countries with four seasons. And in Hollywood, fall season also means award-worthy films are started to be release in time for attention from award giving bodies at the end of the year—Golden Globes, Academy Awards, AFI, BAFTA, etc.

In Manila, we have been noticing good films for the past one month starting with The Butler (Lee Daniels), Rush (Ron Howard), Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve), and Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron).

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This week, another foreign language entry of UK is being release in the Philippines. It is directed by a Briton, Sean Ellis, acted by Filipino actors, set in the Philippines. “Metro Manila” opens in cinemas this week, and I hope that you all catch it.

Next week, another award worthy film is about to be shown—Captain Philipps (Paul Greengrass). It stars Tom Hanks, whose acting is being touted as a contender for Lead Actor nomination.

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In the US, critics are raving about the new movie from David O. Russell “American Hustle.” All its lead and supporting actors are being projected to be nominated again come awards season.

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From the films I have seen, Gravity and Rush are so far my top of mind as award worthy.

These are the books you should be reading…on this rainy month.

It is September. And it’s been raining for the past three days. There’s not much to do, because you cannot (or tired to) go out. So just stay indoor, and grab a nice book to read.

These are my recommended books, published in the past 3 months, for your reading pleasure.

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1. The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri.

One of the most anticipated books of the year, it revolves around the story of two brothers in India and their choices in life, and how it will affect them when they get old.

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2. The Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews

The author is a 33 years veteran of the CIA, it tells the story of US and Russian intelligence organizations. And if that won’t make you curious enough, how about telling you that Darren Aronofsky is turning this book into a film.

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3. The English Girl, by Daniel Silva

Another thriller from a fantastic storyteller. It tells the story of a British Prime Minister after his name is drag from a missing woman in Corsica. He has to hire an Israeli spy to fix things up for him. Great read.

Happy reading!!!

 

The Mongo Diaries

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“It is not enough to be compassionate; you must act.”

– the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Cyatso, 1992

 

August 24, 2013/8.30AM

The overall feeding coordinator formally announces that all employees in the Head Office will have its second feeding program this year in the afternoon of August 31, 2013. Groupings will be according to each department, hence, members know each other by name and face because they belong to one department. Since our department is huge, we were divided into three groups, with 11 employees per group.

 

August 27, 2013 /9.00AM

We meet in the office, all member of Group 10, to discuss the forthcoming feeding program. The discussion revolved on the following: venue of the feeding, division of labor on the actual feeding, what to bring and who will provide, contribution per head for other expenses that the group will incur.

The group decided that we will do our feeding program in Block 27-30 of Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City.

August 27, 2013 /5.10PM

Two members of the group, Rudolf and Jayson, went to the site to do ocular inspection. They also went to the barangay hall and meet the barangay captain to ask for permission. The group prepared a formal letter to do a feeding program in the barangay in advance, and it was received by the captain that day.

Our team leader is already feeling crazy that week because he also happens to be the overall coordinator of the whole activity. Not to mention that he is part of the on-going Part 1 course after office hours so he cannot devote much of his time in the preparation. The other members take the responsibility to lead in the preparation; making sure that the incoming feeding program will turn out successful and hassle-free.

The barangay captain of Addition Hills, Hon. Rodolfo Posadas, was very cooperative with our initiative. He offered us the kitchen of the barangay for our food preparation. This is good news for the group because we don’t have to worry about the cooking place. Besides, it is very convenient to transport the ready food to the feeding site.

 

August 30, 2013 /2.00PM

The major ingredients for the feeding program were received, including rice, eggs, bananas, mongo, squash, paper plates and utensils. Everybody is so busy!

But because we prepared and discussed who will be assigned to do each tasks, it was a breeze in the preparation part. Melody takes the responsibility to cook the rice. Revo and Jayson volunteer to boil the eggs. Romeo provided the LPG gas that will be use for the cooking of mongo in the barangay hall the next day.

Melchor and Norvel were assigned to cook the mongo. Lala is the host of the program prior to the actual feeding; while Jayson and Rudolf assist in making sure that the children remains behave and in order during the games.

We went home early that day so everybody can rest on the eve of the feeding program.

 

August 31, 2013 / 8.00AM

This is it. This is the day that the group has been waiting for. We will be mobbed, er feeding, 350 kids. We had short kriya in the morning to prepare us with “battle” in the afternoon. Three hundred fifty is no laughing matter.

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August 31, 2013 / 11.30AM

All feeding team leaders had an audience with our EVP to give us blessings and offer congratulatory speech for a job well done. This feeding program was only planned in 2 weeks time, and somehow, with focus and dedication, the whole thing was pulled off successfully.

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August 31, 2013 / 1.30PM

After we ate our lunch, we went directly to the barangay hall of Addition Hills. This is where we will cook our mongo. Melchor, Norvel, Revo and Ramil were simultaneously doing the rounds to ensure that the whole thing will be cook and ready by 3PM, our call time for the feeding program. Melody, on the other hand, is in San Juan together with her relatives cooking 25 kilos of rice! Again, she also has a deadline to beat—cooked rice at every kids plate by 3PM, too!

Every feeding program, the kids are the boss. We, the sponsor, the food preparers, are at their mercy. Our roles are reversed and it is an experience worth noting every time. It keeps us grounded.

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August 31, 2013 /2.00PM

Chopping. And more chopping. Onions, garlic, squash. Chopping.

We have to divide the mongo in two containers to make it cook faster. The problem is we don’t have extra container. So we just have to contend ourselves with what we have—cook the mongo in two batches. Our initial fear is we might not be able to finish cooking by 3PM! Oh dear mongo!

Sweat. Sweat. Sweat.

Chop. Stir. Chop. Stir.

 

August 31, 2013 /3.00PM

Lala, Rudolf and Jayson went to the feeding venue ahead of the group. The barangay has chosen the Nueve de Febrero Elementary School as our feeding site. Kids from nearby depressed communities will come over to the school for our feeding program from 3PM-5PM.

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Lo and behold. Upon arrival in the place, the school is teeming with noisy kids!!! Lala, being the host of the program, has to tune herself to lead the kids and tell them to behave and sit in the floor while the rest are still coming inside the school. The energy inside the school is indescribable, Lala has to speak louder even in microphone just to get the message across to all present inside the building.

Prior to the feeding proper, the group prepared some fun activities for the kids. They have games, including best dance and sing-off. All had fun. We also introduce simple exercises and stretches to them.

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August 31, 2013 / 4PM

The mongo is now ready for serving! Hot and yummy. Cooked with tender, loving, care from the group. We know that all of them are a bit hungry, and are here because of the free food, so it is expected that most of them will find their ways to be in front of the line.

It gets rowdy, but thanks to social workers from the barangay, the children were arranged and lined up in single file. We just have to assure them that we have enough food for everybody.

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The whole group has to doubly put food per plate so we can distribute it right away in the shortest possible time. Division of labor again—two persons assigned in rice, two persons put spoon and fork to each plate, two persons distribute banana and egg, two persons in mongo, two persons distribute the food to the kids, and one person in water station.

We finish serving the food to everybody after 40 minutes. We have used up all the 350 plates that was allotted for the feeding. Alas, we still have excess rice and mongo. So we inform the people nearby to send some food container from their houses so we can distribute the remaining food. After 15 minutes, gone. That is how it is in communities where the people are deprived of basic needs like food.

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August 31, 2013 /5PM

We are all tired. Dead tired. We even forgot to take group picture together with the kids. Before we left the school building, we have to clean up the place with garbage. It is SOP to our entire feeding program.

Yes, tired but rewarding. The sense of fulfillment that you derived from seeing kids eat, from their smiles while enjoying the games, from their precious utter of thank you when you give them food. In our own simple gesture of giving a meal for the day, we were able to affect the lives of 350 kids. We are happy, because we give it our 100%.

So, when is the next feeding program again?

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What have I been doing for the past two weeks?

I stop reading a book after 200 pages because I know that I have been missing a lot of good TV shows. So that’s what I did for the last two weeks—tv series marathon every night. Here’s the list of what I watched:

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1. Mad Men (season 6)

This is one of the best shows in television right now. It tells about the life of Don Draper, and his decadent life in the advertising world of the 1960s. It is awash with bias against women in the workplace, and the patriarchal society of that era.

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2. Girls (season 1)

This is the kind of tv series where you are not advised to eat while watching it. You see, the spaghetti that you’re eating might get thrown out of your nose from laughing! That kind of thing.

It tells the story of four young girls in New York, and their life struggles, er, sex lives. It was created and starred by Lena Dunham (what a genius!), and I want to catch up on its season 2 pronto.

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3. Hannibal (season 1)

Hannibal is dark, and delves more into the psyche of disturbed, psychotic people. The series looks to me as too dream-like, because it presents a case based on the impression of its protagonist, Will Graham, a gifted profiler working for the FBI who uses his special imaginary skills to re-create a crime scene, an identify who the killer is.

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4. Dexter (first 4 episodes of season 8)

I love Dexter from the start! I love the concept of a serial killer who only kills murderers. It is now on its final season (on-going), and I am excited how the writers will end his story. It seems that they are undressing him of his identity, and will eventually has his comeuppance at the end. We’ll see.

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5. The Bridge (first 3 episodes of season 1, ongoing)

The Bridge is the new tv series from FX, a remake of the Dane/Swede series. It tells the cultural divide between US and Mexico in the Bridge of America, a bridge that connects El Paso, Texas to Juarez, Chihuahua (Mexico). A serial killer is testing the patience of two police detectives (one from the US, the other from Mexico) menacing the said border. It looks really promising, after watching the first few episodes.

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6. Under The Dome (first 3 episodes of season 1, on-going)

The tv series is based on the novel of Stephen King of the same title. It is about a town, Chester’s Mill, suddenly became engulfed with a huge translucent dome, leaving people inside trap.

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In the next few months, I am going to completely watch the last season of Dexter and Breaking Bad, two of my favorite tv series. But I am not complaining because there are excellent new tv shows worth watching. I have to check if Low Winter Sun (AMC) is a good show, too.

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A date with the Pet Shop Boys

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When news came out few months back that the Pet Shop Boys is coming to Manila, damn, no brainer, I have to buy tickets. With all the pre-occupation at work, I haven’t notice that the concert date is coming soon. So I have to remind a friend that I’ll see her on the venue itself, 7PM, because the concert will start at 8PM.

Araneta Coliseum made some renovations which looks nice. From the entrace, the floor tiles to the white-painted ceilings, and the comfort rooms, the changes were a welcome sight. I have never been to Araneta since December last year when I watch Sting in concert, and the place then is not as good as today. Maybe they renovate it because SM Arena opened this year, and they smell competition from a new venue.

I was introduced to Pet Shop Boys while I was in college because most of my boardmates then are into ’80s music. I appreciate West End Girls, Go West, What Have I Done To Deserve This, It’s A Sin, and You Were Always On My Mind. They were kinda old then, so I don’t expect that they have that much energy now when they are in their 50s, I guess.

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But I was wrong! This is one of the few concerts I saw where the production numbers are well-thought, colorful (psychedelic), and pompous. The lights and the video walls are very useful to every songs, and boy, did I tell you that there are also several costume changes?

Source: Manila Concert Scene Facebook Page

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