Ruminations on literature, film, life, and what-have-you.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Q: How many people can fit inside a jeepney?
A: One more.

For the uninitiated, the jeepney would look like an aluminum box on steroids. In Manila, jeepneys are notorious for violating traffic rules and overloading passengers. Here in Cagayan de Oro, well, it seems much much worse.

Haggling for Passengers

While waiting outside Xavier University High School campus in Pueblo de Oro, you would see jeepneys numbering around to or three, occupying both lanes of the main road. There you would hear the barker yelling, "Kooh-goon, kooh-goon!" which actually refers to Cogon, a marketplace in CDOC. If you decline their offer, they will cross your path and berate you once more, "Kooh-goon!"

If you say "no" once more, then they ask what you are going, "Asa ka mangadto?" as if they would change their route for you.

If you decide to board the jeepney. Prepare for an interminable wait. Yes, the jeepney will wait until every nook and cranny is filled by your lubot. When then you think you're done waiting, do not be fooled: the drivers rev up the engine to feign departure but then wait for ten minutes more.

Like, laziness!

Then the jeepney actually begins to move. The drivers here either drive too slow or too fast. Too fast because they actually race against each other on the curving roads of CDOC. Too slow, because some are not satisfied with the number of passengers in their jeepneys.

The passengers themselves do not seem to mind. They hail a jeepney, and walk very slowly (imagine an ant wading through a pool of molasses) because they know that the jeepneys will wait for them. Yes, these jeepneys are that desperate for passengers—that even while moving, when the drivers think they have spotted a passenger, they will stop and drive in reverse, just to make sure.

Nightmare Barkers

There was a time that I rode the jeepney and the barker was acting weirdly. He seemed to be looking at everyone suspiciously, as if we had some planned conspiracy. Another barker was hesitant in calling in passengers because it was raining and he seemed afraid of getting wet.

Colourful Jeepney, Colourful People

Yet amidst all of these, I continue to ride the jeepney because it is the most affordable form of transport and moreover, it is an opportunity for you travel with your students and fellow faculty members. You travel with colourful people—the baby in nothing but a t-shirt who rests on her mother's bosom, the old man with gray hair chewing some gum, the elvin grade school student who has bag that is taller than he is—these people, are on a journey with you. The jeepney, and the people in them, is as colourful as life.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The City of Golden Friendship

And I'm baaaaaack.

I have now moved to Cagayan de Oro City, otherwise known as The City of Golden Friendship. Hmmm. I wonder what that actually means.

I know, however, that moving here means more things to write about--more restaurants to review, more recipes to post, and of course, more Cagayanon pecularities to smile about. :)

So keep posted.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Yoiks! I've been tagged! Yes, from Passionate Eater, no less! I am now asked to enumerate the things I love to eat!

10. Pizza Margherita
I truly enjoy the crisp thin crust of a good pizza margherita. It is a simple, easy-to-make treat. Chef Rafael Esposito created this pizza to honor Queen Margherita, to whom this pizza is named after. The main ingredients represent the colors of the Italian flag: tomato (red), basil (green), and mozarella (white). In the United States, it is known more as Napolitano Pizza. (If you ordered Napolitano in Italy you would be served a white pizza)

9. Aligot
A twist to the common mashed potato. Crushed garlic is incorporated with the potato. This is usually served with slices of cheese and it's perfect with smoked sausages. Alternatively, to make it easier, you may incorporate grated cheese into the mash, and serve it as a side dish instead. I don't have space for a full recipe but you may access it here.

8. Manggang Kalabaw: Philippine Mangoes
Nothing beats a good luscious Philippine mango on a warm summer day. To make the eating experience more memorable, try eating it with your hands. Begin by peeling the pointed tip of the mango, revealing a biteful of the bright yellow-orange flesh. Then sink your teeth into the aromatic flesh not mindful of the pulp streaming down your chin. Mmmmm!

7. Paella
Every Christmas, my sister brings out her paellera and whips up this Spanish rice dish. Mussels, shrimp, chicken and chorizos all contribute to the flavours of this dish. But those ingredients in themselves do not makes this dish delectable. My sister's secret ingredient: saffron. This expensive spice is sure worth it.

6. Tom Yum Goong
Whoever invented this Thai dish should be an international hero! Truly comfort food. The soothing lemongrass infused broth and the bite of the chilis make this soup both refreshing and exciting at one slurp. Plus I'm a shrimp lover. Why don't you whip up one yourself?

5. Kung Pao Chicken Pasta | Pasta al'Amatriciana.
The Chinese kung pao chicken made into a pasta dish. I love pasta and I love spicy food. This Asian fusion dish is one of the best I've tried. California Pizza Kitchen has a recipe here.

Tied to this is Pasta al'Amatriciana, a simple tomato sauce flavoured with pancetta, or Italian smoked bacon. The sauce is named after a place in Italy called Amatrice.

4. White Chocolate Gelato with Hazelnuts
There is a gelateria in Greenbelt 3, Makati that serves excellent gelato. One of my favourites is their dense white chocolate gelato sprinkled with roughly chopped hazelnuts. A close second is their limoncello sorbetto. They go for around PhP100 a scoop ($2) For a more budget-conscious scoop, I go to Amici de Don Bosco, a cafeteria that serves wonderful gelato for only PhP30 per scoop (around 50 cents): quite authentic.

3. Suman sa Latik
Tia Paring's suman latik always brightens my day. There must be something about the thick syrup made out of coconuts and then drizzled over sticky sweet rice that always makes me crave for more. Sticky treat.

2. Feta Cheese
Good on its own, I have also learned to serve this cheese in a salad made up of chopped tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil, chopped kalamata olives and chopped pine nuts.

1. Sinigang na Baboy
Filipinos are fond of souring agents as clearly epitomized by this national dish. I prefer my pork sinigang soured with tamarind and served with crushed green chili peppers. Good served on rainy days. A food blogger in the UK, Celia Kusinera has a recipe.

So there, folks. My favourite things to eat. Hope I whetted your appetite! Hmmm.... *poke* it's your turn.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Classes Begin Today

Oh no! Classes begin today. *shudder*
I suppose I should begin my comps countdown.
12 days to go til minicomps....

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Father's Song

Early this afternoon I happened to pass by the Oratory of St. Ignatius in Loyola House of Studies. The skies were downcast; it was drizzling, yet I could hear the faint music coming from the Clavinova. I peered into the wrought iron grills of the Oratory to catch a glimpse of who was playing. It was Dougs, a pre-Novice from Arivisu. Dougs was with a Jesuit brother of mine, Atoy, perhaps talking about the latter's first perpetual vows. Shortly, their conversation concluded and Atoy bade us goodbye.

Dougs wanted me to listen to one of his new compositons. As I approached Dougs, Fr. Manoling Francisco passed by the Oratory and Dougs invited him over to listen as well. Dougs' fingers began dance over the ivories, and I was enthralled with the melody and morseo the message of the song—God is ever with us and longs to be with us.

After that, Dougs and Fr. Mano exchanged ideas. Slowly, what was already a good song was becoming richer, was becoming full of emotion. And then it hit me—I was somehow witnessing the birth of a song.

I was somehow witness to the religious experience of a friend, his experience of a God who never abandons us. I was witness to the guiding hand of a priest, who helps make someone's song everyone's own hymn. I was witness to the Spirit moving amongst friends.

For Dougs' story about his song, In Time You Will, click here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

'Tis a Season to be Busy

A flurry of activities. For religious, moreso for priests, the seasons of Advent and Christmas are the most demanding. Well, there are of course, Christmas parties to attend, and come December 16, the Simbang Gabi novena dawn masses begin. That means getting up at 3:00 am for a 4:00 am mass everyday until the 25th.

For us scholastics and brothers, it means trying to help out, accompanying priests, helping with homilies, and of course trying to meet all of our deadlines before the Christmas break (which incidentally will be on the 22nd). It means braving the traffic to buy the perfect gifts for people who have touched your life. It means sleepless nights of balancing all of these activities and somehow trying to maintain our sanity.

For me, it means research, research and research. I am still trying to produce a decent proposal and that means reading more journals and books on the subject matter. I am currently perusing the book, The Psychology of Religion specifically studying religious experience and emotion.

Since I am going to study how display screens in liturgy affect religious experience, I need to have some way of analyzing emotions empirically. The book will help me provide the framework of the study.

There is a part of me telling me that I am treading into heretical ground since there is a risk of looking at the experience purely in an empirical manner—it is, after all a scientific investigation. But another part of me tells me that, done well, the study can help enhance the religious experience of parishioners whenever they celebrate mass. But it is a religious experience and so it involves not only screens and liturgical soundness, but a people and their God.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Liturgy and Computer Science

My training prior to entering the Society of Jesus involves the sciences. I took Computer Science as my major in the Ateneo de Manila University where I concentrated on developing multimedia applications. After that, I worked for a company called Infinity Information Systems doing financial web applications research and development for Spectrasoft. I was invited to teach in the Ateneo, and I took my Masters in Computer Science while I was teaching.

The Society of Jesus is quite known for being much involved in the Sciences. The Information Systems and Computer Science Department is housed in a building named after Jesuit, Fr. Federico Faura, who founded Manila Observatory and invented the aneroid barometer.

I am currently writing my masteral thesis in computer science as a final step for my degree. For my area of concentration, I decided to focus on Human Computer Interaction, particularly, user-interface design. I initially wrote about developing user interfaces for online learning systems and its effects on user attrition. Because of my philosophy studies, I was not able to finish writing.

I then decided to write on a new topic. It is on Liturgy and Computer Science. There are a number of parishes in Metro Manila that utilize LCD projectors and Microsoft Powerpoint within the liturgy. I have experienced times when the slides do not necessarily help me to pray, but actually distracted me. I then realized, that in some way, this is a different sort of user interface, where a user (the parishioner) responds to stimuli, but he/she responds using liturgical actions. There must then be a way to use this technology, to improve liturgy, as regards pariticipation, as regards retention, as regards the entire user experience.

My mentor Neo Gonzales, has been very helpful supplying me information, especially on psychology, memory, and HCI. Hopefull I finish writing soon.