Monday, March 26, 2012

What perfect time than now?

Last night, I stayed up late looking into the dark wondering where I was going with my life. I resigned from my corporate cushy job 2 months ago with the intention of going back to school and returning home to help my mom. However, I feel listless more than ever. In fact, I feel more resigned because I have nothing planned out, with the exception of school.

Where am I going? What am I doing?

My mind spews out things I should do, things I can do, activities that would challenge me, and projects I could start. Within the convoluted priority list in my head, one thing kept popping up in my head - stop planning and simply do.  

What perfect time than now? 

I have no family to take care of, no dependents to feed, no large bills clouding my head, no 8-5 job holding me back.

Maybe I'll start on a memoir? Because I have complete fate in myself to know I'll be someone important in the future.

Maybe I'll dabble in a bit of fiction writing? Because I always wanted to test my own creativity and see how far it would go.

Maybe I'll take a class on acting? Because I want to know if I can cry on the spot without being sad.

Maybe I'll take bartending classes? Because I have a secret wish to act out scenes from Cayote Ugly one day.

I don't think of this as a bucket list because a bucket list implies you have all the time in the world to get things done. No, this will be my "Shit to do Now list" because nothing potentially great should wait. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A woman's power can do magnificent deeds

"The idea of withholding sex for a cause is not a new one -- the ancient Greek play Lysistrata tells the story of women who organized a sex strike to end a war between Athens and Sparta.

More recently, a strike was launched in 2006 in the Colombian city of Pereira, known for its drug trafficking and violent crimes. The strike was implemented by wives and girlfriends of gang members to get them to change their lifestyle and hand over their guns."

The Ingenuity of Third World Countries - Cheap Lighting

If the world comes to an end tomorrow, all governments cease to exist, and the economy falls rendering all currency useless, who will survive? Will it be the cushy political leaders? Will it be the billionaires? Will it be celebrities? 

I somehow doubt it.

The people who will survive at world's end will be those who have to play the game of survival from the very beginning of their existence. This video is a testament to their ingenuity, their survival, and their wits. 

They may not have the most money in the world, the fame, nor the support of governments and organizations. However, they get by on their own. They survive through the resources at hand. Where else can you find inspiration than their story.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An upgrade of "boiling vegetables"


Lemon Grass
Young Papaya
Sweet Potato

Friday, March 23, 2012

Study Snacks from Ma's Garden

Before my midterm a couple weeks ago, my mom made me a study snack. However, this MEAL was anything but a snack. She turned a Korean noodle bowl into an amazing green feast with some greens in our back yard.

She also turned Potato tops (which I thought was just plain grass weeds at first) into a salad dressed with boiled eggs, tomatoes, ginger, sprinkled with a bit of fish sauce for taste.

Ugh! why are mom's so awesome? How can they just whip these dishes up like it's nothing?! Clearly I have much to learn because if it was just me, I'd just eat a bag of chips and soda.

Thanks ma!


Thursday, March 22, 2012


The 2012 DOUGHMAN:

Eat+run, eat+'swim', eat+bike!

Race the DOUGHMAN with a 4-person team in a relay format with each team member performing an individual eating+athletic leg culminating in a final team eating+sprint leg to the finish line. The race comprises 1 bike leg, 1 aquatic activity leg (requires some running), and 2 run legs. One vegetarian and one vegan can be included per team. Non-vegans should assume they are eating eggs and cheese.
The race route hasn't been set yet, but the two running legs are normally 1.75 to 2.5 miles, the "swim" leg is a run followed by an activity in the water (not a lap swim), and the bike route is less than 10 miles. Here's the breakdown by food type: Running: meat; Running: vegetarian; Bike: meat; Swim: vegan.

Food Food Food!

Let's Eat!

"I have always believed that a true Philippine cultural value is to use food as a unifying factor — for both families and communities. “Kain na tayo” (let’s eat) is probably one of the most used phrases in our language. And the use of the phrase is not just an invitation to join in the meal, but it is a gesture that signifies that it is unthinkable to eat without sharing food. To leave anyone out of a meal is sacrilege in our culture. So food is also an intangible that makes everyone a part of the feast." -Amy Besa, Owner of Purple Yam

One of the best things I look forward to when I go home is home cooked foods. My family has some of the best Filipino cooks in the world. Good thing, they only cook for the love of family. :)

Go Forth and Post!

Through our ever evolving social media platform, technology has significantly changed the way we humans interact. This cataclysmic change was best described with four words: “What are you doing?”
Such a simple question and yet you could get answers that are so diverse it ranges from the most trivial, thoughtful, to informative. The end of 2010 saw approximately two billion individuals with web access. Today there are more than 750 million Facebook users;  2 billion video views per day on Youtube; and 1 billion tweets per week on Twitter. Can you believe, there are more tweets than there are people!
What does the popularity of social media reveal about the human psyche? How does it reveal an evolution of human beings?
First, contrary to popular belief, we do not go on facebook to “network” rather we go on facebook to “broadcast our lives” to people who are not in our inner circle of friends. This broadcast goes a long way in developing, not mere friendship, but information and news about what is happening in the world today. Think about it, you go through your feed to not just comment on people’s walls but to see what is happening? John is eating at all you can eat steak special, Jane is at the 50% off sale , Sam is stuck in traffic because of construction. All these little tid bits feed us information about what is happening in the world, so now we know to hit up that steak place this weekend, to go to that sale, and to take an alternative route home after work to escape the traffic line. Our addiction to facebook and twitter does not stem from our need to make friends, but rather our need to expand our information network. Afterall, the more people we add to our facebook the wider the information network we receive. As human beings we recognize the importance of not just “making friends” but what sort of information that “friend” can give you. For example, I am facebook friends with a promoter for a club. In no way, are we close or have hung out. However, through her status updates I get the low down on what sort of parties are happening in the city and a contact through which I can get access to those events. Very valuable indeed!!
Secondly, in 2009, Twitter dropped their “what are you doing” and started asking “what is happening.” This small yet significant change further reflects how individuals are going beyond the concept of “personal updates” and evolved into an “information network” that shares everything from news worthy information, fashion, entertainment, restaurants, nearby events, etc. Gone are the days of personal updates, now people want to share news, events, and stories. Think of it as going beyond the gossip to filtering information that is actually useful to you.
Lastly, having a large network and connecting with people play a large impact in the information we receive around the city that could help us make decisions about what we plan or new information tidbits we would pick up during the week that could influence our decision and conversations. Previously, the information we received came from a few close friends and the 6’oclock news. Now, social media has become an explosive trend to gather information from all sources and allows you to likewise share the news you hear twice as fast, as it is happening. Today, we do not get information after it happens, we get it AS IT IS HAPPENING. When a severe earthquake occurred in India, a local got on twitter and tweets what is happening. He opens up a google document for people to share information about bodies found and how to get needed supplies. Within minutes thousands of people respond and that one tweet and one google document becomes the most important survival tool to help victims of the earthquake tragedy. How amazing.
Nowadays, all major news networks, CNN, BBC, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc. have added new buttons to their articles by giving you the opportunity to “share” on facebook or twitter. We have become, not a “networking culture” but an “information culture” greedy for new news, trends, and popularity for sharing new information first.
Evolving social media reflects a culture that thrives on the concept of “What Are You Doing?” The four words that have transformed the way we share. AND now to “What is happening?” The three words that have changed the way information is dispersed in the world. Now, within seconds, we know when the first rock was thrown in a protest in Syria, we know when Justin Bieber cut his hair, and we can follow every second that passes of the Pacquiao’s fights without without buying HBO pay-per-view and just reading people’s tweets. Shared and reshared, we spread human interest and opinions, which in turn changes what we know, how we talk, what we become interested in, and consequently who we build relationships with.
So, go forth and post, tweet, facebook, share, like, comment, and poke and perpetuate the addiction of social media and hunger for information.

The Drama of Happily Ever After

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a charming girl who good natured and everyone in the villeage loved her. One day she met a prince wandering in the forest and they fell head over heels in love. The girl, however, felt guilty because she harboured a secret. She was born as a half human and half wolf, a beautiful girl during the day and by night a mighty she-wolf. It was only by the hand of true love can she control her “gift” and live a fulfilling life.  Days and months passed, the couple fell deeper and deeper into love. The deeper she fell in love, the more guilt she had. Until one day, she told him her secret. 
We are taught at a young age what it means to love through fairy tales. The conception that love will come from a dazzling prince who will sweep you off your feet and live happily ever after is in fact a misconception. Those types of stories are too good to be true, don’t you think?
In retrospect, these fairy tales reflect some realistic truths about relationships, life, and love.
First, it reinforces the reality that marrying rich is good advice.
In the Disney fairy tales, and even in the original stories by the Grimm Brothers, one thing is for sure, it showed a class difference between two star crossed lovers. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin are some examples where the girl (or in Alladin’s case, the guy) had to go through drastic means to become financially stable. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does paint a story that mirrors the general view society has towards marriage and relationships.
Second, be wary of the crazy mother in law or step mother
Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?
O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, Snow White is farrier far to see
In the Snow White fairy tell, Snow White and her Prince faced a crazy step mother with image issues, combined with her temper and flair for dramatics, make her a very deadly villain.
In the story, Cinderella, the evil step mother had attention issues and a superiority complex. To compound her bitch attitude, she had two equally bitchy daughters because the apple never falls to far from the tree.
Cinderella and Snow White are stories where the mother figure plays a rather important role in determining the happiness of a relationship. Instead, what do these stories teach us as young children? They teach us to “hope for happiness” to “hope for a brand new day” and to “always do unto others as you would like others to do unto you.” However, the obvious underlying realistic and practical lessons in these stories should be to always make a good first impression with the “mother” because that will ultimately determine the level misery of your relationship.
The last challenge is we are conditioned to believe in “happily ever after”
After the story ends, what do we believe will happen? Think about it, “Happily Ever After” implies the Prince and Princess lead a perfect life, drama free because they already got over the hurdle of the evil witch, the bitchy step bother, and every curse and poison in the book.
However, with time and old age we learn “Happily Ever After” is far and few between. A pessimist once said, Life does not always have happy endings, and it will take medication, unreturned phone calls, heart break, and some therapy to ultimately get there.
Personally, I believe we need to change “Happily Ever After” to “And they lived happily as they could possibly be after.”
A pessimist, however, offers a few other realistic alternatives to “Happily Ever After” to consider
a.   And with all the alimony, she finally bought the castle she always dreamed of
b.   And he never found out the child wasn’t his
c.    And she never had any idea that he was actually gay
d.   And they stayed together because of the kids

In the end you should make your own story but maybe one day when you have children or grand children, try to give them a reality dose of the world to make them realize that “happily ever after” is not something that happens is something you have to work hard for. As they always say, If you’re not willing to take the pain, then don’t get in the game.
So to continue the fairy tale we started before. Upon hearing the news of the young girl’s secret, the Prince ran off scared for his life that one day he will be ripped from limb to limb in their marriage bed. The girl cried, got over it, and then chased him for dinner. – And she lived happily ever after.

Be Glad It Was Not You

We all had our share of awkward moments. That awkward moment when you punch the air for a hi5 but the other person doesn’t reciprocate. That awkward moment when you go in for a hug but the other person doesn’t hug back. That awkward moment when you release a bit of gas in a quiet room and pretended it was not you. That awkward moment when you had the bathroom stall to yourself for a big dump only to find out there were other people in the stall next to you.
As much as it makes us squirm in our chairs, we cannot deny we were one of two people in situations like these. You are either embarassed or you witnessed an embarrassing moment. People often talk about how they reacted if they experienced an embarrassing moment. However, no one discusses how to react AS A witness to embarrassing situations. Do we just look away? Do we just ignore it? Do we laugh? Do we make a joke? Do we change the topic?  What do we do? As much as people hate it the most, being a witness to an embarrassing moment is difficult because deep down inside we want to laugh but at the same time we want to be courteous and not say anything. What a struggle, to control two emotions at once. Believe it or not, how we react tells us a lot about our personalities.
 What would you do?
So how would you react if you realized I have a lipstick stain on my teeth or some spinach stuck in the crevice of my tooth? Are you the type of person to say, “Hey Krystle, you have spinach on your teeth?” or would you simply be the type of person to stare with a discomfort on your face like you just witnessed your worst nightmare?
Social Scientists have termed this as vicarious embarrassment where you empathize with the person who is living an embarrassing situation without knowing it. The higher the empathy the more prone we are to feel discomfort when witnessing an embarrassing situation. That look of discomfort can be described as a “cringe worthy moment.”
Cringe Worthy Moments
I’m sure many of you have naturally cringed when you watch American Idol and the person on national tv sings horribly. You want to turn the channel because you cannot stand to watch someone’s humiliation. Some cringe worthy moments I have experienced, and I’m sure many of you have experienced as well, includes: seeing a lady with a huge rip in her pants, a man who trailed toilet paper on his shoes after leaving the bathroom, a woman walking in stilettos taking a huge fall, and a girl who had a period blood stain on her pants.
According to social scientists we are one of two people, those who feel external shame and empathy for victims of embarrassing moments and those who find humour and delight in other’s embarrassment. If you’re someone who loves watching episodes of “The Office” and find amusement in other people’s awkwardness you are definitely someone who finds humour in everything.
It is not necessarily a bad thing if you laugh. Some might find it rude, but “laughing” would be the best way to cope with it. Simply because any pain of external shame from witnessing an embarrassing moment is already difficult in itself. So why prolong the discomfort when you can simply laugh at it.
Viral embarrassments
So in this day and age, you would think embarrassing situations are contained. In that millisecond when you watched someone fall and slip or when you see someone bend over with a huge crack in their pants, the moment lives on for a few minutes then it fades away. Taken over my life’s other mundane worries.
Fortunately, for our generation embarrassing situations go viral, ON THE INTERNET. With my handy-dandy phone or my handy-dandy camera, I can snap a picture of you in your moment of drunken glory and post it on my facebook. With a simple button, I can record you dozing off and drooling at your desk and post it on youtube. With a simple tweet or status update I can let all my one thousand friends know what I just witnessed and with a simple upload I can post that video or picture on a website that finds humour in human failures.
I’m sure many of you have seen or taken part in this trend. One of my many favorite websites to check regularly is that posts picture of people, signs, situations that are just embarrassing and awkward. People rate it, comment it, and the link gets passed around all over the world. Another one of my favourites is where people take screenshots of friends status updates with typos and embarrassing photos made public. Another one I would like to share with you is where people who send text messages with autocorrect turned on would send messages that are completely different than intended.
These websites flourish on viral embarrassments, which turn embarrassing “moments” into lifetime embarrassments. 
In the event that you find yourself on the opposite end of an embarrassing moment, a witness to the faulty of human beings and awkward moments. Take a step back, appreciate the moment, and be glad it was not you…THEN MAYBE YOU CAN FEEL SORRY AFTER.

Through The Eyes Of A 5 Year Old

Don’t you wish we all still see the world as a 5 year old? With innocence and truth? However, as we grow older and progress in life, life lessons, experiences, realizations, and challenges complicate our view of the world. We become insecure, spiteful, distrustful, tired, irritated, stressed, and indifferent. All of these negativity affect how we act, what we know, and what we do in work, relationships, families, and life.

However, I’m here to show you why it is important to go back to the basics. Why we need to deconstruct our view of the world to the simplest forms. Simplicity, after all, is beautiful and sometimes in our convoluted view of the world we sometimes forget our fundamentals.

Our fundamentals. Where did we learn those? High School? No, let’s go back further? Elementary? No Let’s go back further. Kindergarten!

Yes, Kindergarten. Kindergarten is where we learned our basic survival tools. Do you remember them? Of course not! Why? Because work, broken hearts, distrust, insecurity has clouded our view of how we should be living.

One of my favorite authors, Robert Fulgham, wrote a book entitled “All I Really Needed to Know, I learned in Kindergarten.” In this book he argues wisdom is not found written in your graduate school diploma or at the top of the corporate ladder but in kindergarten.

Some of the basic rules are:

1.     Share Everything

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.'" Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus.

Now by sharing everything, I do not mean sharing girlfriends, sharing wives, or sharing your underwear. I mean sharing within the context of sharing your wealth by donating, sharing your food to the hungry, and sharing your knowledge.

2.     Don’t hit people

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five- and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."

Imagine a world where people didn’t hit each other? There would be world peace.

3.     Don’t Lie, Tell the Truth

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog.

4.     Clean up your own mess

If toddlers and can clean up their own mess and put things away nicely why can’t political leaders do the same too?

5.     Don’t take things that aren’t yours

The age old rule, imagine if corporate CEOs followed this rule, America and the rest of the world would not be in a recession.

6.     Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

“Sorry” can bring ethnic clashes to an end, can bring down hatred and prejudice, can bring forth peace building and peace making.

7.     Wash your hands before you eat.

Swine Flu, Bird Flu, West Nile Virus, H1N1, how many different strains of illnesses exist in the world? Too many to count. If everyone made an effort to wash their hands, carry some antibacterial soap in their bags, and keep a tissue nearby, the world would not be hit by major illnesses and sickness.

8.     When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

In kindergarten, we all had a buddy system. Whenever we would go out of school grounds the rule was, you had to hold your buddy’s hands. I think the same applies in real life; you should always have a buddy to hold hands with when you go out in the world. It can be a scary place and sometimes you need that extra safety to make sure you won’t get hurt.

9.     Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

A father was at the beach with his children when his four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore, where a seagull lay dead in the sand. "Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked. "He died and went to Heaven," the dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"

Death is a part of life and we all have to come to a realization that it will strike us at one point or another. So we should always live life to the fullest.

So put away what you “think” you know about the world and live by the basic fundamental rules you were taught as a kid: how to love, basic sanitation, and equality.

We all live very sophisticated and complicated lives: money problems, relationship issues, lack of appreciation, restlessness and our experiences have hardened us to live a certain way and to believe in certain things. Take these fundamentals and apply it to your life. 

Remember, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

The Question of Identity

I am a Filipino-American, or as Filipino colloquialism would suggest, “Fil-Am”. Not many of you would know thus, but for many first generation Filipino-Americans, like myself, we often struggle with our IDENTITY. Amongst my non-Filipino friends, I am THE Filipino. Amongst my Filipino friends, in the Philippines, I am THE American.

However, I never really know where I fit in within both cultures because I constantly question: Am I Filipino or American? Here in the Philippines, I try to blend in as a “Filipino” but my body type, accent, and attitude is the typical American. While in the U.S., my long black hair, dark skin, and clique of Filipino friends make me “The Filipino.”

I realized early on that I could never be wholly Filipino or wholly American. I also learned that I could neither find comfort in being wholly Filipino nor wholly American. Instead, I find solace in the THE HYPHEN. That middle dash in between Filipino and American. That hyphen is my signifies me..standing on the precipice of two cultures and trying to embrace both.
Growing up, my mother denied me one thing, my language.

My mother and father were immigrant workers in the 1970s. They struggled financially all their lives and worked odd jobs like fast food restaurants, maintenance, hotel cleaning, cafeteria workers, florists, etc. They weren’t college  nor high school educated so you can imagine how much pressure they placed on my brother and I to do well in school.

Throughout their struggles they came to the hard realization that America is a difficult place to live. They encouraged my brother and I to learn English and they spoke to us only in English because they believed by having a different accent and by speaking our native Filipino dialect we only differentiate ourselves in society. By being different and being blatantly Filipino we only encourage stereotypes, judgements, and fewer opportunities because people would look down on us.

This denial of my culture was further exacerbated by the American system. For those of you who do not know, America likes to place people in neat ethnic boxes. When you apply for a divers license, college, or taxes you have check off which ethnicity you belong to.

In my case, when I applied for college I had to check off one of five boxes: Latin American/ Hispanic, Asian America/Pacific Islander, African American, Caucasian, and OTHER.

So, naturally, being a Filipino American, I asked where do I belong? Am I Latin American, simply because we share the same Spanish oppressor? Am I Asian-American, simply because the Philippines is considered part of the Asian region? Am I Pacific Islander, simply because I live amongst of Polynesians? Or am I an “Other” because even my own government cannot place me in the right category? Where do I actually fit in?

If not a Filipino..then an American..if not an American..then what type of American? An “other” American?

At this point in my life I have lived in the Philippines for more than two years and even now I find it hard to blend in to Filipino society. I have yet to fully grasp the language. In fact a lot of my Filipino friends bemoan my inability to understand Filipino jokes and sayings. My literal translation of everything and backwards attempt at speaking Tagalog is abysmal.

Moreover, my attitude has put me in trouble more than once when I get into heated discussions for supporting same sex marriages, stem sell research, freedom of choice for women, and reproductive health. I am very forthright in what I want and I am also very outspoken when need be. When I try to speak in Tagalog, everyone laughs and when I speak in English everyone cringes and they run away with an excuse. Even being an American in the Philippines is difficult!

In the end, I realize that I will spend the rest of my life struggling to reconcile the differences and I will always be stuck in the middle, like the hyphen, continually belonging in the middle and precariously balancing both worlds in one. I guess in the end, you cannot call me Filpino or American. Perhaps the U.S. government cannot recognize me as Filipino-American. In the end do not call me “fil-am” just the hyphen.