Day 82: #100HappyDays
Homer Sapiens

Happy Birthday Homer

Happy Birthday Homer

When it comes to family, God pretty much assigns you the people you are to call your brother, sister, mother, and father. You don’t have a say on who you end up with in this department.

But when it comes to close friends and one’s lifetime partner, you always have a choice. And that’s what makes friends and romantic partners special; you CHOOSE them and they CHOOSE you back amidst all your horrible flaws like being self-absorbed, mired in poverty, and forgetful of important dates like BIRTHDAYS.

I know. My utmost mortal sin of the BFF not to greet him on his birthday. 🙁 Bridal stress be damned, this day must not go uncelebrated.

But I hope that even if I cannot really take him out for ice cream because of his busy schedule, this record will somehow serve as a reminder to me and the whole world of what he means to me. 🙂

What would life be without Homer Pagkalinawan? Would the world be complete without a smile from my very good friend?


Honestly, I cannot really imagine such a life. And I never will imagine a life without Homer, because that’s not really part of the options of my life.

That’s the thing about having such wonderful friends. You are having such a wonderful time in their company that you forget to say basic things like thank you for being my friend, I love you, and I am really happy that we are friends. It’s so basic, and yet so few people get to do it regularly.

Homer’s warm and welcoming demeanor and fun outlook in life is a home to weird people like me. 🙂 I can just be myself, look absolutely okay with my good hair days and monstrous on my bad hair days, throw my tantrums in a fit of panicky bridal rage, or just have something to be giddy about. And he will embrace me for who I am, no matter what it meant. No matter what he finds in there, be it the loch ness monster or the angel of life. He can either come in with a shovel to bury the skeletons in my closet or come with a handkerchief to wipe away my tears. In this friendship and with a person of this calibre, you come to the dining table with so much excitement and zero fear of being judged or ostracized.


I do not always have chocolates and roses, and sometimes I feel like I am in a rotten canal than in a spring field. But with friends like this person, I really believe that I got so much better than what I deserve in life. I can never do anything outstanding or good to deserve the company of my friend Homer. He is a definite keeper, someone that you will always meet up with even if he gets stationed on Timbuktu. He is a person worth going out of the digital cave for.

For someone so smart and accomplished, he is so down to earth, practically thoughtful, and caring in the little and the big things. And yes, often it’s the little things that turn out to accumulate into the big one in the end. I can talk to him with just about anything, from mutual funds, to romantic issues, to board exams, to academic life or corporate life… I can go on and on and exceed the word count limit of this space but it won’t give justice to the wonderful person that Homer is to me and to many other people.

Dear Homer, my friend, I may have missed everyone’s social media greetings on your wall. But we have the other days in the rest of the year to celebrate the wonderful person that you are. Not just this year, but many more years, which I fervently wish for you to have.

Happy Birthday, Homer. I hope that even if I am bad with calendars, you will still forgive me. 🙂 <3 Love you!!!!

Day 40: #100HappyDays
H M and J

Photo by Engr. Joseph Morales

Photo by Engr. Joseph Morales

No words for this day. It’s just the awesome photo of us three that will speak volumes of my happiness. It’s been so long since I last saw these two lovebirds and I am really happy that my sister and I went with them today for a nice merienda at Army Navy. I love them so much, as much as I love my real life siblings.


Day 38: #100HappyDays
Brunch with the Blackberry Bunch

Mango Kani Salad from Mom and Tina's website

Mango Kani Salad from Mom and Tina’s website

You may have noticed that I am doing my 100HappyDays in retrospect because of my busyness. But it’s better late than never for this project. It is important to remember the people and things that make us genuinely happy. Insignificant people and things do not deserve the irreversible space and time that we unfortunately allow them to have.

I had to wait for two hours for these two girls to arrive, but I am glad that I did. We had so much fun catching up at Mom and Tina’s in Katipunan. I ordered a yummy kani salad which was laden with fresh fruits and vegetables. I call these girls the Blackberry bunch because they used to be two of my most frequently BBMed friends back when I had a Blackberry. One of them lives and works in Bacolod and it’s quite hard to keep in touch with her. Whenever she is in Manila, I make sure to see her. The other one just came back from the United States and it’s really nice to have this little reunion. My super smart economist friend fell asleep because she was probably still nursing a hangover from a Friday night out.

Despite their accomplishments, they are quite down to earth and pleasant to be with. I really value these friends I have and the fact that we can still keep in touch even if it’s quite hard as we have gone to different places makes it all the more meaningful. Life is really good.



Chillaxing Cheat Days and Calorie Counts

Having a meaningful and stable life involves balancing all the elements. While I became a fitness enthusiast recently, I did not make any measures to deprive myself. I established my own cheat days in between workouts so that I will not gorge in all the sweets my hands could get. Sometimes, even during the middle of the week, I can grab a chocolate bar.

But I usually strategize that my cheat days would fall on the days that I have to meet my friends, for maximum enjoyment. 🙂

The Wallflower Attempt to Imitate the Wall Painting

The Wallflower Attempt to Imitate the Wall Painting


For the longest time, I avoided going to J. Co because of the legendary queue that rivals those of the most in demand FX or AUVs in the city. It’s really insane. The only branch that does not have much of a line of customers is the one in Eastwood. But Homer and I went to that branch in SM North, college days style.

J Co

J Co

Catching up over a yummy sampling of J. Co’s famous donuts and signature J. Coccino drink is something I consider as welcome breathers to my otherwise rigid, semi-monastic hermitage. I rarely meet friends these days, and on the rare occasions that I do go out to meet the nearest and dearest, I make sure that I document it for safekeeping, online and offline.

Photo collage from Homer

Photo collage from Homer

Like a well-matched pair of glazed donuts to ice cold coffee, true friends are sweet, fabulous, and refreshing to be with.

J. Co Glazed Donuts. Loving the tissue inscription <3

J. Co Glazed Donuts. Loving the tissue inscription <3


You do not dread seeing them, and they love you whether you are shaped like a Coke Litro or a Coke 8 oz. bottle. And true friends like that are quite hard to find, so even when schedules are busy and deadlines are a-plenty, it is always just right to fight for the time to see them and keep in touch.

Not having a social media account or presence makes most friends complain. They say that it’s hard to track me down. That it makes me a friend from hell. And I admit that it is true. But it makes all my subsequent interactions more meaningful.

Now, when I have a date with someone, Facebook does not get ahead of me in announcing news about important updates in that person’s life. While status updates are quite nice to stay on track with other people’s happenings, I still think that there is a unique charm when you hear the updates straight from the person and face to face.  Smileys cannot capture everything. Smileys are definitely no replacement for fooling around with the camera offline and looking silly but happy in a very public place:

jco-fun1 jco-fun2


I really spend a huge chunk of my free time with my meditative pursuits and my partner. The balance of managing commitments to friends, to my partner, and to my large family is quite a challenge. It’s good that I was able to extricate myself from the noise of too much digital information on people’s timelines. This is a challenge that comes from the inherent blessing that I have a lot of people to love. And most of the time, they miraculously love me back. And when they make time to see me even when I am not really visible in the usual social channels, it makes me feel even more loved and valued as a person.

Even if I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I do not really fare well with counting calories religiously. But I know that somewhere in the fitness journey, you have to handle these things.

If you ask me if I am counting calories, I will say YES AND NO. Allow me to explain.

I do not make a detailed count. But I tend to make mental estimates. I also do not hang on to the weighing scale or tape measure that much; I just estimated my initial improvement based on clothing sizes. I only knew that my waistline was a 26″ already when I bought tight 27″ jeggings from Bench and it was still a bit too big for me. I knew that I was a 32″ or 33″ in 2013 because I had to buy new pairs of pants in that waistline range that time.

When I look at something so yummy like this:



I do two things, and two things only.

First, I enjoy the goodies to the extent that I am able. I developed this skill of being in tune with my body. So when I am full, I make everything in my body aware of that fact. But I enjoy every single bite without guilt feelings.

I already have an inkling when it is 70-80% full. I eat my food and chew it slowly. When I reach my 70-80% fullness level, I stop eating. If I know that I am going to eat desserts, I make sure that my main meal is very light for the evening. I also sometimes do offsetting in other times of day by eating one tablespoon of rice less during lunchtime to make room for an extra dessert during dinnertime. Or I jog in place during afternoon for a few minutes to advance my feasting in the evening.

I visualize my tummy as a tiny compartment, and I optimize the space by determining portions beforehand. That kind of psych preparation actually helps. I do not have to deprive myself totally of sweet things, but I try to keep everything in proper proportion. When “the room is full” in my head, I kind of automatically stop craving for more. 

I did some very menial computation for calories but only enough to inform me that my ideal calorie intake per day is 1,300+. I just make estimates on each food intake based on sizes, number of seasonings (sugary and salty foods are definitely on the high zone), and my body cravings. But you won’t catch me dead updating an app devotedly up to the serving size level. During my menstrual period, I tend to take note that I crave more salt and sugar than usual. And I’d try to take more fluids to stave off the cravings somewhat.

The second thing I do is convert the extra food into some form of workout priority. I try to think of a tiny activity to offset the additional calorie intake. No calculations or fitness apps in place here, mind you. For example, each donut I eat is equivalent to a 6-minute brisk walk with my core muscles engaged. On my way home, instead of taking a pedicab or tricycle, I’d decide to walk the way home for 15 minutes to offset my consumption. I did cheat on junk food for that day, but that does not mean I lost my mind or let myself go in that moment without putting it against the backdrop of my fitness regimen.

But it’s not something I measure so much. I just make offsets depending on the level of bloated or full feeling that I have after eating junk foods or sweets. It’s almost completely intuitive on my end. If I feel like I did not put my tummy tank to overflowing, I just go about my normal routine. 🙂 I can eat a Cadbury bar at whim and not feel guilty because I would be able to estimate how much work it would take me to keep it from nesting permanently as fat on my tummy.

In college, I read this nice fitness book that estimated certain foods to its appropriate workout equivalent. If I remember it correctly, I learned from there that a single Big Mac Value Meal is equivalent to 1.5 hours of non-stop running, a single donut is equivalent to 12-14 minutes of non-stop running, etc. I just kind of embedded these estimates in my head and let myself be guided accordingly for most of my dining experiences. Here is a nice excerpt from the The Diet Detective’s Countdown book to help you get started with your own estimations for fitness’ sake.

It’s really good to have true friends with you from time to time while you do all these. You will be able to get a nudge from them if you are eating too much or eating too little. That will keep you sane and keep you from being myopic about your eating habits. 🙂 And you can still have your fun while sharing the good vibes and the well-allotted calories.





Pino Resto Bar:
Malingap’s Chill Treasure


I like making excuses to go to Maginhawa Street, given its fine reputation for gastronomic delights and chill atmosphere. Compared to the Morato and Panay area, Maginhawa is really known for a more laidback dining and socializing experience. After our favorable experience with Breakfast and Pies, my brunch buddies Jodi and Leigh recommended Pino Resto Bar for my reunion with my college barkada.

And I am thankful for their recommendation; the place is chill, casual, and gastronomically friendly for friends who are out to catch up after months or years of not seeing each other.

Pino Resto Bar Malingap Wall Mural

Pino Resto Bar Malingap Wall Mural

Since it’s a fairly casual affair, I chose to be just as casual with my outfit:

Lacoste Bolero, Little Black Dress, Long Hair :)

Lacoste Bolero, Little Black Dress, Long Hair 🙂

When I was in college and starting out as an engineer, I did not bother to grow my hair long. It was too tedious. In fact, I still think it takes a lot of work to take good care of my growing hair. But I swear by the tried and tested method of cold electric fan air. I am not a fan of warm hair blowers so I manually finger comb it against a gust of cool air. I have reason to believe that it works:


Yeah, it works really well.

Years ago, this would have been unthinkable. These days, though, I have learned the moderate value of presenting myself, not out of vanity but more for consideration of the people who will be seeing me at any given time. Showing yourself prepared even in appearance conveys to people that “You are worth dressing up for.”

Some people abuse this appearance trick and get away with not knowing anything or hiding their ulterior motives by dazzling others with their presentable looks. I hated what those people represented and chose not to bother myself with my style for the longest time. Perhaps it was an attempt to spite the charlatans. But I realized later on that in doing so, I deprived myself of the ability to explore my sense of style.

It took a while for me to realize that it does not necessarily make me shallow, dumb, or full of fluff if I lift a finger occasionally to present myself in a pleasant way.  Substance and style can go together, and my decision to wear something nice does not mean that I am giving up on my other deeper passions in life.

And my first college barkada would know me well enough that this is a giant leap of my impoverished fashion sense. I am quite pleased to see them last night because it’s been so long. Two in our group have already married and have 2 kids each. It’s amazing how time flies and how the effort to keep in touch becomes increasingly difficult with adult life demands:

C.H.A.R.M. - Carol, Helen, Ann Rosette, Michelle (left to right!)

C.H.A.R.M. – Carol, Helen, Ann Rosette, Michelle (left to right!)

The pregnant one is due anytime soon so we cannot extricate her from Maginhawa area. The Pasig girls decided to go to Malingap and pay her a long overdue visit.

Now that I have mentioned my outfit, my reason for choosing this place, and my happy companions to this gastronomic experience, I come to the main thing: the FOOD. Off the bat, the salads took my full attention and I decided to go catfish!!

Pino Resto Bar's Catfish Salad

Pino Resto Bar’s Catfish Salad


Crunchy texture of the catfish and mayo goes really well with the uber fresh lettuce. The cutely sliced cucumber is so-so, since I am not really a fan of cucumber. Totally love the detail on the QUAIL EGG at the bottom. But this is a biased review because I am a real quail egg fanatic. (My largest quail egg craving had me finishing off an entire bowl on my own one Christmas evening! I felt the cholesterol at the back of my neck after.)

This is part of a group of restaurants so we also had choices from the vegetarian menu, Pipino…

Pino Resto Bar and Pipino Menu

Pino Resto Bar and Pipino Menu


One of the highly raved food in this resto bar is the Kare Kareng Bagnet:

Pino Resto Bar's Bestselling Kare Kareng Bagnet

Pino Resto Bar’s Bestselling Kare Kareng Bagnet

Mich and I loved this one. But it depends on the person. If you are a fan of salty and do not mind the excess fried fat on a night out (there are cheat days and you can indulge!), you will probably enjoy this one. I ended up eating more from this plate than the others that we ordered.

The fried calamares is passable. Carol ended up taking this home.


Ginataang Bopis

Ginataang Bopis

The ginataang bopis was good but I fail to make a more detailed appraisal because the salad and the kare kareng bagnet took center stage in my stomach all night.

Right before the girls arrived, I managed to grab the yummy signature brewed iced tea. I like it. It’s not too sweet and you actually feel like it’s TEA.

Pino's Signature Brewed Iced Tea

Pino’s Signature Brewed Iced Tea

My dearly beloved SO also liked the iced tea, who passed by to say hi to my college CHARM BFFs. Sharing a cozy photo moment here:


I think Carol got disgruntled with the Longganisa Rice. Her inherently steep standards for Vigan longganisa kicked in so she told me to include that in this review. I am no longer eating much rice meals anyway so I let her review stand. The bagoong rice that came with the Kare Kareng Bagnet, however, is absolutely divine and I had three heaping spoonfuls. 🙂

Even in food preferences, our differences are apparent. But that’s what makes this group really special. We are all so different and yet so together. I realized that this was somehow a gift from God, to stay this long with this set of friends without becoming disinterested. You do not always grow up with people. Some people just grow apart, and I am thankful that even if it’s hard and I am already a pseudo-hermit with my lifestyle, I still have these wonderful girls in my life:

12 Years of CHARMed Friendship

12 Years of CHARMed Friendship


Earlier in college years, I was not sure that we’d last this long because we have all gone in different directions. But it actually happens these days that I see them as the ninangs of my future children. I see combined family swimming parties in our futures. In college, that would not be something I can easily imagine. I appreciate that even if we chose to meet in a far place, Carol went all the way from Mall of Asia just to see the group. As we got older, my love for this group grew exponentially (that term exactly because we became the CHARM group at UP’s Math building!).

Carol, the Calculus genius (for more reasons than one), now has two wonderful kids. Mich’s second baby is on the way, who I believe will sing great songs like her and her hubby. And my Korean rock band gal pal Rosette is still her quiet self but just as delightful. Rosette is in fact planning to buy her home soon.

There were so many things we did not know about each other from the months we spent apart. This meetup rarely happens (but we swear to do it more frequently everytime!) so we ended up moving to Infinitea after Pino closed at midnight. It was such a shame since we really enjoyed the nice ambience and I liked looking at the abstract pastel paintings:

pinos-ceiling pinos-featured-painting pinos-mural pinos-paintings pinos-shelf

We savored each other’s catching up stories and enjoyed the rich texture of Pino Resto Bar’s Chocolate Tablea dessert. We shared the calories with a single slice:

Pino Choco Tablea

Pino Choco Tablea

It was really rich and textured, very much like my friendship with the CHARM girls. (I must say though, that when it comes to tablea or chocolate I believe that Chocolat’s Death by Tablea and Xocolat’s Salted Caramel Brownie remain unparalleled in awakening taste bud sensations.)

Regarding staff service, I must say it’s stellar. They are super polite and more than happy to indulge in our slew of SELFIES. The girls all have Facebook; I had to ask them to email me. Totally primitive and ironic.

My Friday just went from drab and predictable to nostalgically fabulous because of the CHARMers I am with, plus the wonderful chillax experience of Pino Resto Bar.


Pino Resto Bar
39 Malingap Street, Teacher’s Village – East
Diliman, Quezon City
(02) 441-1773

Pino Resto Bar Store Hours

Pino Resto Bar Store Hours

Budget:  Php 250 to 500 per head
(this really depends on number of viands, pitchers of iced tea consumed, and dessert preference)

Ideal for: Casual dining, Catching up, Relaxing after a hard day’s work




Jethro: The DOCTOR is IN!

Doctor of Physics, that is!

This is a short but sweet post documenting my very first experience of watching a dissertation presentation in the new and improved National Institute of Physics in UP Diliman.

The topic? Surface modification of polytetrafluoroethylene (we normal people just call it TEFLON) and … oh god, I forgot the thing related to the sea (it sounded like poisson and then something something). I’m so sorry. :S  I only took Physics 71-73 for engineering and after being introduced to Einstein’s theory of relativity, I haven’t gotten much chance to explore the nuances of the world of physical science. If I did understand my context clues correctly, the study had some significance to the environment in a way because it studies the properties of how surfaces absorb liquid. It’s really nice and heavily technical.

And then the way the liquid hits a surface has interesting models like Cassie-Baxter and Wenzel. I never knew those things! LOL. How can a single drop have so much in it?

It was 3 hours of presentation and interestingly, I found some parallels or vague similarities of physics in the engineering subjects I took like when he mentioned the concept of hysteresis. The force body diagram of the approaching and receding angles reminded me so much of free body diagrams in the ES series on the frictionless incline. Also, I was amazed by the numerous equipment that this ultra-ultra-smart person used. Some of the research and materials were even done and taken in FRANCE! Ooh lala!

Despite my complete unfamiliarity and occasional zoning out or nosebleeding after the Powerpoint presentation, I really appreciated what this life’s work has brought to my good friend Jethro. And I am mighty proud to call him my friend. 🙂 At least I know of a real life physicist aside from my favorite characters in the TV show Big Bang Theory.

Congratulations, Dr. Hernando Salapare III! 🙂

(I prefer calling this Francophone Jethro in his non-working time!) 



“Laida Magtalas version 2.0” decided to give 2 dozens of roses as a congratulatory gift. 🙂 The beautiful flowers deserve its own set of photos. 🙂 Many thanks and image credits to my forever Skyflakes buddy, engineer, and manager Homer Pagkalinawan. 🙂

66862_10151502323539172_73040192_n  562295_10151502336314172_1467113093_n

It was really a fun morning so far and while I gave the doctor one of my favorite books on planet earth, I still want the world to know that my friend Jethro reached one of the pinnacles of the academe today and I am mighty proud to have witnessed it with a free breakfast meal to boot.

[I also made me think of what my academic plans are. I wish I can accomplish something as monumental. Hahaha. 🙂 ]

Prior to attending this presentation, I was just looking at teflon products in a regular way. I guess I will start becoming more conscious of the oil dripping on the teflon surface because of what I just witnessed. I never knew that there was this much at a microscopic (?) level. It’s amazing. 🙂 The wonders of the world never cease.