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Rules of Engagement for Your 30’s

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Photo from Global Pillage

I’m turning 29 in a few days and if reexamining my 2014 wasn’t enough, I’m getting around to examining my 20’s as a whole. It’s hard to believe that this crazy, disjointed decade is about to close and apart from figuring out what I wanted to be doing with my life, this whole episode has also been characterized by the friendships and romantic relationships that I created or destroyed.

I didn’t have a very sophisticated algorithm for attraction. Ten years ago, I felt like I earned a bright friendship badge every time I met someone who liked the same music as I did, liked the same books, drank as much alcohol, and hated the same people. Such stellar standards! I’m still friends with some of my peoples from the college and post-college years, but that’s all because of good conflict resolution skills and empathy. Most of those relationships though have faded into the background or got spectacularly sabotaged by my or their assholery.

It’s tricky finding what you have in common with people when the things that used to don’t come into play anymore. Pop culture know-how still ranks high in my attraction algorithm, but not as high as emotional wholeness. I don’t drink or leave a trail of destruction when I go out anymore (maybe once a year!) and my favorite conversations these days are the sober ones over brunch. It seems that our time gets more finite as we get older and it would be nice to make sure that it goes to the people who will appreciate it the most.

Here are the red flags I’ve learned to call out on others and on myself:

  1. When they make their insecurities your problem
    Everyone’s insecure. It becomes as issue though when it gets projected to the people you allegedly love and care for. This is a passive aggressive way someone expresses resentment and a good gauge of how to sniff it out is when you find yourself not wanting to share so much about your life because you’re afraid of how it will make the other person feel. Another gauge is when you try to share and you get parroted replies in return and the conversation doesn’t grow. Another is when you find yourself spending so much time trying to make your friends feel better about themselves.

    Think this is you? Suggested reflection: I am not in competition with anybody but myself. I need to stop categorizing people in hierarchies because it’s that same hierarchy system that feeds my self-loathing.

  2. When they have victim/guilt complexes
    These are people who have a hard time being honest with themselves and who have cultivated years of playing innocent to avoid responsibility and owning up to their mistakes. This is a wide spectrum and sometimes you’ll encounter the types who will acknowledge their faults but will fast forward to the resolution part so that they can still avoid the uncomfortable process of guilt and remorse. Many of them are the types that insist on cultivating a curated persona and revert to this behavior when cracks form on the surface. This tends to go hand in hand with vulnerability issues.

    Think this is you? Suggested reflection: I am not perfect and no one expects me to be. Confrontation and reconciliation are really painful things but only in the short-term. Barricading myself emotionally again and again will only get in the way in fostering healthy relationships and will most likely draw in only superficial ones — this is an exhausting and lonely way to live.

  3. When they have sensitivity chips missing
    These are people who either don’t care or unaware they hurt their friends’ feelings when they get carried away with their teasing or ideological diatribes. These are people who give you shit for quitting alcohol/drugs or wanting to go home early. These are people who can’t put their gadgets down when you’re trying to talk to them. These are people who have never uttered a sincere “How are you?” in their whole lives. These things are so fundamental and yet so many people still put up with it.

    Think this is you? Suggested reflection: Compassion is not weakness. We live in a relational world and it would be great to check on others instead of myself all the time.

And that’s it! It’s not a guarantee but these three things are huge and have helped me figure out coexisting. I complain about people almost as much as I want to spend time with them again. Relationships make our world and the world’s a nicer place when we’re more honest and more empathic.

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2015

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Photos by Joel Darwin and Simon Moritz

I wasn’t counting on doing a hiatus when I went on vacation. I traveled with my laptop with the hope that I would be able to clock in some writing time during lulls. I guess I learned pretty quickly that when I travel, I like checking out — mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. If you go through Joel’s pictures of me, I always look reluctant at best and pissed at worst. It’s hard bringing me back to earth when I travel.

Now that I’m back I don’t even know where to start. We did 4 cities in 6 weeks and I’m in this space in between elation and depression. I feel like 20 lbs. of potatoes crammed into a 10 lb. bag. I have many things I can’t wait to share but I don’t even know where I can begin.

The night before New Year’s Eve, I was seated in a dining table with my brother-in-law Daniel and our good friend Simon. We were bothered about something. We were looking over Daniel’s phone and trying to figure out what someone meant when she messaged him “HNY.” We ended up listing all of these acronyms that have been bothering us (like WCW, and the rest I can’t even remember — I’m the worst millennial, and so are they). After we found out what they all meant, we met each other in one painful groan after the other. Then came the laughter for realizing how we allowed these idiot abbreviations confound us.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we can be the worst representations of what we think we’re supposed to be or know and that it’s not such a big deal. I tend to think that I’m bad at documenting my travels, but that’s just a matter of perspective.

WHAT I MISS ABOUT AMERICA

  1. Small towns. I miss walking with Joel and “claiming” cute houses we liked as ours.
  2. Small towns by the water.
  3. Small town shops. The first time I came to the Main Line, I told my friends it was like being in Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. I’m a city girl from one of the biggest mega cities in the world and the entrepreneur community of a small town is a refreshing break from restaurant chains and big name franchises.
  4. Supermarkets. Whether it’s Whole Foods or Wegman’s or Giant, I love gawking at the aisles and all the infinite variants per food item.
  5. Cheap greek yogurt, English muffins, shrimp cocktail, ice cream (I only crave ice cream in the US — it’s the dairy), flavored soda, New York brunches, Bloody Mary’s, Belgian craft beer, Dough donuts, Spak Brothers Pizza (we ate pizza everywhere we went and this was the best we had!).
  6. Weekend Markets. Joel and I had the best time at Brooklyn Flea and a pop-up market we randomly came across in Union Square in New York. I love checking out new and quirky products from small business owners.
  7. Fresh air and stillness in the suburbs. I sleep so much better there.
  8. Urban planning and effective mass transportation (except for that one time we experienced “Subway-geddon” the day we left New York).
  9. How ridiculously easy it is to prepare meals and clean up.
  10. Museums, libraries, parks, and nature. I can disappear into them and forget the world.

WHAT I MISSED ABOUT MANILA

  1. We have the best Asian food for the kind of prices we pay. Trust me when I say that we’re so spoiled when it comes to our Asian restaurants. I would lie awake at night craving ramen, shabu-shabu, and dimsum while lamenting their bland American counterparts.
  2. My friends! I’m a pretty outgoing and amiable girl but you’ll be pressed to find any group that can compare to the crazy, funny, amazing friends Joel and I have cultivated in Manila.
  3. Our helper Vicky and my building’s laundromat. I can live without them but my time in the US made me feel so grateful for the kind of help we have access to here.
  4. Filipinos. We fly Delta (many Filipinos work for them) and while waiting for our flight to Narita from Detroit, my ears perked up when I heard a gentleman make some announcements in Tagalog. We sound so nice, so sweet, and so accommodating. I often take that for granted.
  5. CHURCH! We always made it out to service on Sundays (except for the times we were in transit) and while some services we attended were wonderful and enriching, we really missed our home church. We go to a church that has erudite bible teachers for its pastors and nothing really compares to listening to a pastor letting scripture do the talking and taking his congregation into an emotional and scholastic journey.
  6. Wearing sandals and shorts. Also, not having to moisturize so much!
  7. Cheaper beer. Cheaper meals, dammit.
  8. Philippine bananas. The American ones may be better looking but they have no taste!
  9. My job, actually. Joel and I easily slipped into fantasies of moving to America but I honestly have no idea how I would make a living. We’re not closed to the idea and we may still pursue it in the future, but I really love how I run a graphic design business with my husband here. We’ve been able to sustain it through purely word of mouth and we will have to operate under a different model if we were to attempt it in the States. We may have to do something completely different even, but we’ll know when the time comes. All we know is that we still want to see this business through in Manila first.
  10. Mornings in our apartment. I really missed watching Joel write in his journal and water the plants. When you’ve ironed out your personal rituals, a part of you feels incomplete when you don’t get to do them.
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Lazy Girl Uniform (Winter)

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I’ve been travelling these last three weeks and this is my first breather in a while. Joel and I did a week in New York City, then bused it to Portland, Maine, squeezed in one more night in New York, bused it again to Pittsburgh, and now we’re finally in my husband’s (second) hometown Wayne, Pennsylvania.

I still have another three weeks to go and in between all my rumination, I have become too aware of the fact that I’ve been rotating the same set of clothes day in and day out. Since we were visiting a bunch of cities, Joel and I had to pack really light and squeezed clothes (his and hers) for a month and a half into one check-in luggage and one carry-on. It felt like lugging around two hippos (one momma and one baby) and we dragged those things across stairs, subway platforms (from Brooklyn into Manhattan, people!), bus stops, Amtrak stations, and down many, many long stretches of sidewalks. Then add my purse, Joel’s satchel, and two fat neck pillows.

I’ve been wearing the same clothes. It’s been bothering me for a bit but this exercise in paring down my wardrobe has revealed my sartorial all-stars. I only packed clothes for one week and have relied heavily on the cold weather to kill smells — plus doing laundry! I’m not yet that barbaric to skip doing the laundry, but I have skipped putting on deodorant many times, heh (yay, winter!). Sans the coats and the thermals, these pieces also comprise my Manila uniform and if I were to make the summer edition of this, you’ll still see some familiar faces.

I love having a uniform! It really appeals to someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of closet space and doesn’t really like sticking out in a crowd. It cuts down my getting-ready time because everything goes together and I can just mix and match. Back home, I have maybe three weeks worth of clothes that I have on a healthy rotation. It’s great knowing that when reduced to one week’s worth, my wardrobe still pulls through. Here’s an incomplete list:

1 Striped Shirts, Uniqlo
You can never own too many of them.

2 Oxford Shirts, Mango, Eddie Bauer
They’re very forgiving for the girls who don’t know how to iron and they clean up any outfit.

3 Knit Sweater, Uniqlo
These sweaters are the best for that cozy and nonchalant look. They look great layered over the oxford shirts.

4 Skinny Jeans, Uniqlo, H&M
The high-waisted ones get a lot of love for whenever I pig out and my love handles are raring to poke out. Doomsayers have been calling for the death of the skinny jean, but whatevs, the silhouette is a new classic and they keep me warm.

5 Boyfriend Jeans, Roxy
Like I said, I like to eat. These pants are also what I wore for the 24-hour flight getting here. Roxy has amazingly soft denim.

6 Fur Hood Parka, borrowed (picture is from Madewell)
I don’t really travel to cold places often so I outsourced a lot of my winter wear from friends. (I love you, friends! Thank you so much!) The parka I borrowed is fur-lined and has the perfect pockets to burrow my hands in.

7 Kitty Beanie, borrowed
My friend tossed this beanie in when she lent me her pea coat. It’s for days where I don’t want to be so serious — which is most days.

8 Pea Coat, borrowed (picture is from H&M)
A pea coat is great for dressier events. I try to mimic Charlotte Gainsbourg in it but I up looking like a homeless soldier most of the time.

9 Pancake Beanie
Make sure to get a really thick one! Mine isn’t so thick and it was useless against the Maine wind chills. I didn’t realize my ears were a vulnerable spot.

10 Wing-tipped 16-Hole Boots, DR. Martens
My pride and joy! I bought these burgundy beauties in a thrift store in Baguio and they can withstand ice and sludge. The wing tips give it a dapper touch!

11 Sneakers, Converse
I’ve been living in them since high school. Don’t make the mistake of wearing them when it rains and it’s freezing cold though.

12 Tassel Penny Loafers, G.H. Bass
I like wine-colored shoes! I like going sockless in these on warmer days.

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Icon: Bianca Jagger

Solange got married last week and like the internet, I was floored with her outfit and her wedding entourage. Her white suit reminded me of another bride in a mind-blowing blazer and trousers combo. I can still see Bianca Jagger’s ensemble at her St. Tropez wedding to Mick Jagger — we know the picture so well. When I see white suits, I think of Bianca Jagger.

She’s now known as a human rights activist but most people remember her as a jet-setting party girl in the ’70s and the ’80s. She was one of Andy Warhol’s muses and was a fixture at Studio 54. I like her because she is so FIERCE. Joel called me out on the fact that I have a thing for women with stunning jawlines, but more than that, I have a thing for women of rock n’ roll. They all look so glamorous and nonchalant smoking their cigarettes and sleeping in tour buses. Bianca Jagger’s halter dresses, Halston gowns, and wide brimmed hats are the stuff of legend.

Photos Courtesy of Pinterest (I hate citing Pinterest! But a lot of pictures are “user-uploaded”) / The Huffington Post
 The Zoe Report / Boho Gypsy Girl Harper’s Bazaar

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Funny Girls are the Best Girls

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Photos by Peter Tom Tolibas

I never knew how much I loved female comedians. I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and I’m finding myself simultaneously wanting to cry and wanting to stand up and read out loud the paragraphs that are blowing my mind. I know I should stop getting surprised, but I got bowled over when Amy gets into detail about royally screwing up, using self-righteous anger to buffer your shame, and the gargantuan task of asking for forgiveness and apologizing with your heart. I’m not even halfway done!

I’ve always been drawn to funny people. Mainly because I didn’t think I was and I was hoping that I could work on developing a sense of humor through osmosis. Good news: it’s possible. My husband was one of the people who brought it out of me. One of his bigger secrets is the fact that he has an absolute foul mouth and is the master of schadenfreude. He has had a lifelong fascination with poop. He thinks being politically correct is overrated. He will make fun of people, things, and ideas that polite society should not touch and he says that the act of going below the belt is what’s funny to him, the fact that it’s so absurd. I used to recoil in horror at the garbage that can come out of his mouth, but then I realized that I think and feel the same things too but I never learned how to get comfortable and poke fun at it.

My girlfriends are the same! But add the fact that they’re also all about mismatched boobs, period stains, and old, sagging strapless bras that fall off your chest without any warning while walking in the mall. They have drunken personas like “Elma from H.R.”

We love to laugh and the best kind of humor though comes from intelligent and empathic people! People who make a living making people laugh especially know the whole universe of human emotions and interactions. The best jokes always have all these layers and nuances to them and you can’t wield a toolbox like that if you’re not learned, bendy, and hella smart.

It just makes so much sense the the same people who know all that is about laughter also have the same perceptiveness about things like anger, sadness, humiliation, and defeat. It’s what makes the jokes hit even harder. I’ve read many, many female authors, but the advice and life lessons that thunder in my head are from the comedians. My life is not always peachy and the only way I have been able to soldier on is to laugh at the face of absurdity.

In between trying on all sorts of identities in my 20s, the brightest spark in that timeline happened when I met a concentrated group of funny girls. We all knew each other vaguely but we started hanging out a lot when we did Geek Fights together (and win, mothafackaas!) and the friendships, I’d say became set in stone in 2010 during a phase where we had to have costume parties ALL THE TIME. These were not Pinterest-worthy parties. We didn’t really photograph well because we usually had fake blood spattered on our faces, walked around wearing panda heads/horse heads, and smiled with food in our mouth.

Girls who know how to laugh until they cry know how to laugh at themselves. If I run with this idea that a sense of humor gets born in the ashes of adversities, it would explain why we’re still all so tight. When learn not to take yourself so seriously and when you learn to be perceptive, it becomes so easy to be vulnerable and open. By a lot of grace, I feel relieved that I’ve been spared from a lot of drama with them because we never felt the need to compare, compete, or be insecure around each other. How can you, when these are girls who tend to have their skirts stuck in their panty? My only regret is that I didn’t meet them sooner.

Sometimes I wish someone told me when I was a lot younger that the alchemy of friendship can also be boiled down to figuring out what you laugh at and who to laugh with.

Both Amy Poehler and Tina Fey mention in their books how much their improv training has also set the ground rules for manoeuvring through life. If you want to get into improv, you cannot ever care about how stupid you look. No one gets brownie points for trying to be cool or clever. You should have a “Yes” attitude in improv and that in a nutshell means being able to roll with whatever situation gets hurled at you. Improv teaches you to run with a joke no matter how ridiculous and to build each other up.

Nobody looks stupid when they are having fun.
Amy Poehler

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Kindle Favorites

I’m going to find myself on a long haul flight in two weeks and I’m already thinking about how I’ll keep myself entertained. We fly economy and in the case of Delta Airlines, the inflight movie tends to be on communal screen far away from me. I always opt to read something instead. One of my cousins gifted me with a Kindle as a wedding gift and it’s been my favorite travelling companion.

A book tends to be an introvert’s security blanket. Books were my buffer against the world and it was where I escape if I didn’t want to socialize at family gatherings or listen in class. I carried over the habit into adulthood and the Kindle has made it easier for me to enjoy eating in restaurants alone and waiting in line at the bank. Plus with the Kindle, I can bring a ton of books with me and it’s handy if you’re like me who can’t stand it when people can see what you’re reading.

I’ll admit that I haven’t acquainted myself with a lot of literary heavyweights in recent years (but hey, I try) but I have excellent taste in waste-your-time-away books. These are the kind of books that just suck you in and you can open it at any part of the story and it will still be so good.

 

1 WORLD WAR Z by MAX BROOKS / 2 COMMITTED BY ELIZABETH GILBERT / 3 BOSSYPANTS BY TINA FEY /
4 CRAZY RICH ASIANS BY KEVIN KWAN / 5 MY UNCLE OSWALD BY ROALD DAHL

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Photo by Joel Darwin

I found this picture of me from last year when I opened Lightroom awhile ago. I cut my hair into a long bob this year and I’m beginning to forget what it feels like to have long hair. I used to have it really long — all the way to my rib cage. That girl in the picture feels like a different person and she probably is. My birthday is still three months away but I have a feeling that this is the only time be able to take stock of what a year this has been before I get swallowed up the holidays.

This has been one slow 2014. I felt like I kept hitting dead ends and I’m still feeling some regret over how I only managed to get myself business-wise this year. I didn’t travel a lot. I stopped partying and staying out late this year. I remember working many long nights and having more frugal days than splurge days.

And yet I would say that this was the year that my character was pounded, stretched, and plied in new ways yet again. 2014 is not yet over but I’m christening it as another “learning” year. There are some givens, like start caring about my diet, start waking up with the sun, start making a habit of sending out thank you cards/gifts, etc. But as always, the lessons that will make any year definitive are the ones that punch you in the gut.

Here are some of my lessons:

  1. EMOTIONAL CONSTIPATION SUCKS!
    It’s really sinking in now that our threshold for insincere niceties does come to an end when you approach your 30s. We’re all learning that it’s not the picture perfect facades we try to maintain that define relationships — it’s more about how we pick ourselves up from mistakes and conflict. Mistakes and conflict are part of being human and it’s better we acknowledge that than pretend it only happens to messed up people. It’s scary learning how to be more confrontational and less passive aggressive, but the peace of mind that you get from being upfront outweighs the fear any day. Good friends/employers/lovers should be able to call you out, but always out of a good place and not from a self-righteous perch.
  2. KNOW YOUR CURRENCY!
    One of the perks of being a hermit (getting older does that) is that I get to gauge my social circles from a safe enough vantage point. The people who still seek you out when you disappear from the face of the earth are the keepers — not the three hour brunch friends or the friends who have never seen you in broad daylight. Genuine friendship and community are my currencies and my time off allowed me understand that it’s not always the case everywhere else. A lot of groups operate on the circulation of social importance and cultural relevance and how they treat you can be directly proportional to how much you have of both. That circuit requires so much physical/social maintenance and the payoff is so fleeting.
  3. TRUST!
    I don’t recommend my lifestyle to control freaks. I can never fully gauge how much money will come in every month and when it will arrive so I’m so grateful that I’m still living a relatively cushy life. It’s too easy to gripe about the things I don’t have and miss out on, but I make the rent and all my bills every month, I get to work in pajamas everyday still, and I live in a city that allows me to do so much. I’m just so amazed how it all works out — it’s like performing a gymnastics routine and not knowing if you’ll stick your landing, but good God, we do, we do! It’s trusting that makes the difference. Trusting makes you optimistic and when your energy is that good, it radiates to all of your tasks.
  4. MY PATH IS NOT NORMAL AND IT’S OK!
    There are many scary things in life that I pursue without any hesitation, e.g., quitting my day job, getting married youngish, but what I don’t really talk about is how I go about things the reverse way. Normal people would wait and plan before they do big moves. But I’m weird so I do the big move first then worry about it afterward. My intuition is crazy. I will just know with all my heart that a certain decision is the right one, but then I’ll spend quite some time sitting in the middle of my new surroundings taking stock of what just happened. I’m still in that phase, that’s why I have a lot of feelings and I’m still shell shocked. It took me awhile to realize I work from the way out going in.
  5. FILTER ADVICE!
    I learned not to take other people’s advice seriously when they don’t have good personal lives. Their choices have brought them to that point and I don’t want to be there. There are many “successful” people who have terrible relationships with their families, who aren’t kind/moral, who don’t have lives outside their industries, and who don’t hold themselves accountable to anything (read: ego problems). It works the other way, too. You don’t have to listen to me either! I don’t eat breakfast regularly! I laugh when people I don’t like mess up!

Sometimes I feel like I’m quickly approaching a juncture where my choices won’t be as irreversible as they once were. When I think of it that way, then it’s not so bad when life seems to go by in a glacial place. I’m really curious what sort of character wants to come out of me.

I have this bad habit with books and it’s something I haven’t shared with anyone. Sometimes I’ll read the last page of a book before I’m even done with it just so I can manage my expectations as I read. I want a heads up if someone I like will die or if my favorite character will get his happy ending. I take it back, I can be a control freak.

I have this tendency of wanting to see into the future. It’s like I fix my actions accordingly to the ending I’m headed at. How strange, isn’t it? I want to have a semblance of control because I do acknowledge that how my life plays out won’t all be on me.

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Design School: Pedro Friedeberg

While waiting for a series of talks in the Ayala Museum to begin, I wandered into the Mexico: Fantastic Identity exhibit that was currently ongoing in the ground floor. It contained Mexican art and photography from the FEMSA Collection (FEMSA is a Latin American beverage company) and its artists were important figures in the 20th century. It runs until November 9 so you still have this week to check it out.

I recognized a lot of the paintings on display but I was drawn to this painted wooden piece that had geometric patterns and carved hands on it. I wasn’t able to jot down the name of the artwork as the talk I was there for was about to start but I remembered the artist’s name and figured I could always look him up online. The artist is surrealist Pedro Friedeberg.

His themes are eccentric and his religious and occult references got me fascinated. Pedro Friedeberg also had a background in architecture hence the structure and geometrics in his work. I can’t look at his paintings for too long as I’m afraid that it would make my head spin.

As I delved in further, I also discovered that he’s the guy responsible for the “hand chair.” You know what I’m talking about — that giant hand that supports your butt as you sit on it. It’s so absurd but you can’t look away. It’s ubiquitous enough in pop culture that I’ve seen replicas in the roadside furniture stalls in Quezon City and there’s a red version of it in Buster Bluth’s room in Arrested Development. Designers Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler have a fondness for it too.

Photos Courtesy of Pattern Bank, Juxtapoz, Eclectic Cool, iCollector, and Elle Decor

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Cases for Feminism

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“I want to tell you a little bit about my class, the class of 1962 … How long ago was it? It was so long ago that while I was here, Wellesley actually threw six young women out for lesbianism. It was so long ago that we had curfews. It was so long ago that if you had a boy in your room, you had to leave the door open six inches, and if you closed the door you had to put a sock on the doorknob. In my class of, I don’t know, maybe 375 young women, there were six Asians and five blacks. There was a strict quota on the number of Jews … We weren’t meant to have futures, we were meant to marry them. We weren’t meant to have politics, or careers that mattered, or opinions, or lives; we were meant to marry them. If you wanted to be an architect, you married an architect. Non Ministrare sed Ministrari — you know the old joke, not to be ministers but to be ministers’ wives.

—Nora Ephron, Wellesley 1996 Commencement Speech
25 Famous Women on Their College Lives, The Cut

I didn’t always identify as a feminist. I only started becoming comfortable with the identifier when I began actively dialoguing with other women about feminist issues. It started becoming real to me when we started talking about being sexually abused, dealing with sexist “friends,” and having to defend certain choices we make (not taking your husband’s last name, supporting the Reproductive Health Law, not having children, etc.).

Now I feel incredulous, at once feeling uneasy, but back then I used to equate identifying as feminist to condoning feminist rage and aggression. That was just the surface emotion though. The truth was I was also afraid of having to open myself up to discourse because I didn’t want to be judged. It’s a defense mechanism born out of years of being conditioned to keep quiet and to conform. I came from a background that sounds a lot like Nora Ehpron’s 1966 Wellesley.

In film and in real life, any “elite” school prides itself on its traditions and values and the premise of Mona Lisa Smile (also set in Wellesley, or Dead Poets Society, if you want the male version) is how school administrators/board members ensure they carry out these values ad infinitum. We have a movie when you pit the traditionalists against the liberals/non-conformists.

Feminism is essentially an exercise in empathy and in recognizing otherness. Women especially have a lot of issues and abuses that are unique to their gender. A lot of it has been so ingrained in our culture and I’m glad my generation can now question machismo and religious guilt without it being labeled as a radical or subversive thing. Men don’t have to worry the way we do when we’re walking alone late at night. Men aren’t crucified the way women are when they sleep around. Men are not usually subjected to questions like “Why don’t you have any kids yet?” or “Oh, are you into this video game because your boyfriend plays it?”

I can only hope that we’re slowly shaping a society where we realize the necessity for empathy and our shared humanity. Talking through the hurtful things I experienced in the past with a feminist vocabulary allowed me to close a lot wounds. It got spurred on because I came to the realization that I care about how women are getting abused and I wanted to understand the places of privilege and power that allow for this to happen. I only was able to take a bigger step towards caring about feminist issues because some of my friends identified as feminist. So now I identify as one.

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Recipes: Chiara’s Hummus

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Chiara’s Hummus is so good that we call it “Chiara’s Hummus” and always ask after it whenever Chiara R.S.V.P’s for our potlucks. Chiara’s Hummus is a well-loved party guest and it has trumped any hummus we’ve sampled in Metro Manila. It’s not “authentic” compared to what you’re used to in restaurants but that’s what makes her version so good. It’s zingy with lemon and garlic and it leaves a sensation that just goes so well with your poison of choice. We’ve slathered it over chips, tortillas, pitas, and fruit and a container of it never lasts long wherever she lays it down.

When I first moved into our apartment and tried to navigate my way around my kitchen, Chiara came to my rescue and shared her hummus recipe. I used to bake cookies and cupcakes in high school but had no idea how to cook. I only knew how to boil pasta and that was about it. Hummus is so easy to make and I credit this recipe for helping me build kitchen confidence. Now I’m sharing it with you! Let’s all build kitchen confidence together!

 

Garlic Lemon Hummus

1 can of chickpeas
4-5 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlic-y you want your hummus to be, you can add more)
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice (the juice of about half a lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
Dash of smoked paprika
Salt to taste

Throw everything into a blender and blend that sucker!

This is my base recipe, but I taste as I blend. Sometimes I’ll add more olive oil, sometimes I’ll reserve some of the liquid from the chickpea can and add that to the mix to get a better consistency and all around chickpea flavor. Just keep tasting as you go and add as you feel necessary. When it’s all done top off with olive oil, smoked paprika, and some lemon juice.

Enjoy!

 

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