The year could not have started out any worse than it did. Surprisingly, I am doing pretty well all things considered. Looking back, there were still some good things to come out of an understandably somber month for me and my family. And I’m glad I get to chronicle them in my tiny corner of the web.
Spotify now has playlists according to your star sign. Now, I don’t necessarily love all the songs in this, but I’m pleasantly surprised that “Destiny” by Zero 7 is on the list.
For some strange reason, I’ve been getting the sudden urge to just bake on a completely random day. It started with brownies. And then one day, it was Oreo cheesecake. On yet another, it was a batch of cookies. I’ve been giving some away, but also I’ve been thinking a lot about selling my cookies to strangers. I haven’t really sat down and brainstormed on how I’m going about it, but I’ve been bugging family and friends, asking them if I can count on their support when I do decide to go full-throttle on Macy’s Fields. (They said yes, duh.)
After a quick ritual with my sage and palo santo, I drew cards during the Full Moon. The Death card in tarot doesn’t usually mean literal death (more like ending and beginning of cycles), and this is not the first time it has appeared in my spreads.
But this is the only time I felt its literal meaning. The question for this card was “Where is my power during the full moon?” There couldn’t have been a more appropriate card.
When we were going through the motions at the hospital, then the morgue, then the funeral parlor, then the wake, and the burial, I couldn’t help but think, we were ready for it. Nobody told us what to do or where to go or what to say. Somehow, even if we weren’t prepared to say goodbye to our dad, in some ways, maybe we were.
My brothers and I have been “our father’s keeper,” as my brother Manu said in his beautiful eulogy on the last day of our father’s wake, for twenty years now. I look at us and I’m proud to stand by them and how we’ve taken care of each other all these years.
Maybe that’s why I’m not so worried about the future that lies ahead of us.
I finished two books this January (well, almost). The first one was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I started this last year and had such a difficult time finishing it because I was so annoyed with how stubborn Jules Jacobson was in the book. But my friend Marla, who lists this as one of her favorite books by the author, told me to see it through. And hard is it was to finish, it was a great story about growing up and finding out that maybe you’re not as remarkable as you thought you were as a kid—but that doesn’t make you any less interesting than everyone else. I loved how it teetered between their past and the present and how it showed that people can change through time and yet, somehow, stay the same.
As for Tara Westover’s memoir, which I technically finished today, I encourage you to read her amazing, awe-inspiring story. I had to remind myself several times over the course of reading this book that it was not fiction. Educated will make you think about how important education is—both in and out of school—and how sometimes, family can be the people you choose and not the ones you were born into. I cannot wait to read more from this author.
I’ve unearthed a lot of my mom’s hair accessories because of my recent de-cluttering. Who knew barrettes from the ’80s would be in fashion again? I guess sometimes, it pays to be a packrat? I’ve been trying to be smarter about my purchases, too, thinking if something I buy will last me the next ten years or so. I’ve been investing in a lot of linen clothes (I just bought some really nice ones from my friends’ line GoBasic, which I didn’t know had linen tops and dresses for sale until quite recently) and real leather shoes. Someday, I hope that when I have a kid of my own, she can also wear my clothes and shoes just like what I do with my mom’s old stuff.
I’m not even exaggerating when I say this is so ridiculously easy, you’ll be making cheesecake every week after you try it. This is one of the few recipes I know by heart. I go by the ratio: 1 pack cream cheese, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg. For this particular batch, I doubled the recipe for a slightly taller cheesecake. Most people will do 4 packs of cream cheese to get that coffee shop type of cheesecake. But since we’re just 3 people sharing this, I figured 2 packs are probably enough.
I originally started out hand mixing this because I was too lazy to go up and use my stand mixer. But I couldn’t really get it to a smooth consistency and I was getting impatient. I ended up throwing the cream cheese and sugar into the mixer and I was done in 10 minutes. That said, you can totally use a hand mixer or a wooden spoon—it’s totally up to you.
For this, I used some Oreo cookies for the crust, in the batter, and as garnish on top. I imagine you can do this with Speculoos, chocolate chip cookies, butter cookies, etc. I used a blender to crush my cookies but I’ve also used a mortar and pestle before (make sure you don’t use the same one you use for garlic, because uh who wants garlic cheesecake??).
♡ every day, because I wake up and I’m okay, I’m here, I’m alive ♡ friends and family these past two weeks—I may have only replied a curt “thank you” to your messages, but I am deeply grateful for each one ♡ spending 5 days with my favorite not-so little person, who is growing up to be such a delightful human with so much love, empathy, and kindness <3 ♡ somehow getting work done and accomplishing paperwork in the middle of all that’s happened ♡ finishing sex education, which was absolutely hilarious and brilliantly written—now season 2, please ♡ finishing my first book of the year and starting a new one (I keep needing to remind myself that educated is not fiction, what a story) ♡ a new season of schitt’s creek, my best discovery of 2018 (I know I’m a late bloomer). moira rose forever~ ♡ getting a thousand words in for a short story I’m working on (I still have 6,000 more words to go…) ♡ getting to flex my strat muscles again (I haven’t done a strat plan since…2016 because my 2017 one was canceled, lol) ♡ my full moon in leo reading—makes me hopeful for the coming year. here’s to taking the steps to make all my plans happen.
On the last night of my Daddy’s wake, my brothers and I shared a few words with family and friends, who shared in our grief, celebrated our father’s life, and told us of the wonderful man he was to them when he was still alive.
I keep saying goodbye to Daddy. Different parts of him slowly peel away each time that I do.
In 1999, he suffered a stroke due to an aneurysm on the left side of his brain. Mommy heard a thud from their bathroom upstairs and found him sprawled in his underwear fresh from a shower. He was a big man—almost 300 lbs—and had to be dragged down the stairs and transported to the hospital. The story goes that an angel in the form of a man on a motorcycle, helped our van weave in and out of traffic to make it to St. Luke’s. They found out that his brain had already hemorrhaged and the artery had to be clipped.
The first time I saw him, lying in the ICU, all his hair had been shaved off, and multiple wires came in and out of the different holes in his body. This was not my Daddy. Not the one who tutored me in Math, not the one who played golf in Capitol, not the one I would sneakily ask permission from when Mommy would say no the first time I asked. I said goodbye to him for the first time.
In a few months, bits and pieces of my old Daddy would re-appear. In his signature quips like the famous “anak ng baka” and his hearty laugh. He still smiled that mischievous smile when he knows he’s been caught eating something he’s not supposed to.
We learned a new way of life. Learning how to maneuver him in a wheelchair, assisting his walking with a cane and a leg brace. We learned how to decipher his hand signs and guess what the words mean when they come out of his mouth. He was no longer our Daddy who talked over everyone at parties and knocked back beers with his siblings.
Two and a half years ago, I said goodbye to him a second time. My brothers and I were all about to leave for work when we saw Daddy shivering in the shower, unable to breathe. In the next twelve hours, we drove to the ER of St. Luke’s, were told that he had just had a heart attack, and he needed to undergo an angioplasty. We then transported him to Heart Center, where in just a few minutes he was wheeled into the operating room to have two stents placed in him to help his heart pump blood better.
It was another round of getting to know this new version of him. But parts of his old self would still peek through. He’d still exclaim an excited “anak ng baka” when he’s with old friends. He would still sneak in a piece of chocolate after he’s been told that he can’t have it. We had to change his diet and we had to get creative with the way we prepared his meals. His medicine had to be doubled and we had to hire a nurse to help take care of him. This was our new normal.
I spent Monday afternoon with him at the mall, accompanying him at the dentist to pick up his new dentures. When we said good night he said that he would feel better the next day. I didn’t know that on Tuesday morning, I was going to say goodbye to Daddy a third time.
Every morning since then, I wake up and I cry in bed. I wait until the tears stop flowing before I get up to come here and do everything all over again. I know I need to go through the tears and the ache in my chest will soon fade until I can forget about it a little while.
We’ll go back home after we say goodbye to him one more time tomorrow. We will trace our steps the best way we know how. We’ll learn to live a new normal and maybe we’ll see old parts of Daddy and Mommy in each other. Or at least that is my hope.
♡ all the people who trusted my work and let me edit/write/strategize/do video demos for them ♡ almost one year of this website (it turns one on January 10 offish) ♡ all the dishes I cooked and the bread I learned to bake ♡ the time to read and watch all the things ♡ every morning I got to write something ♡ all of the productive co-work days with fellow freelancers and supportive friends teaching me the ways ♡ weddings and birthdays and celebrations I got to be part of ♡ creative projects with friends ♡ getting to travel to new places with people I love ♡ rediscovering the magic inside me and trusting my intuition fully
The last day of the year and I can’t let it end without my final Currently list. It’s been a pretty amazing year and I’m glad I’ve chronicled all my favorites throughout the year.
I’ve been making year-end playlists for a while now, and I’m not stopping any time soon. I know Spotify generated my Top 100 songs for the year, but I thought I’d still go ahead and curate my own without web algorithms dictating it. I present to you A Year in Songs 2018.
What is December without copious amounts of eating? But my best meal of the month—maybe even of the year—was our early Noche Buena at Samba in Shang at the Fort. It was also our first time to spend Christmas on holiday and it was a pretty good one. We didn’t have to cook, wash dishes, or even make up our beds. Haha! Definitely a tradition I want us to continue.
Been baking a lot this month and it made me think of what could be possible in the coming year. I’ve never pushed Macy’s Fields aggressively, but I think 2019 may be the year I take it to the next level. Hoping that I can figure out how to make it a sustainable business. Wish me luck! Also, I hope I can count on your support when I decide to put my goods out there.
Looking back at the year with gratitude in my heart. Thankful to everyone who put their trust in me and let me work with them. I’ve learned a whole lot in the last 365 days. I always remember that quote from Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, “Wisest is she who knows she does not know.” Looking forward to all the lessons waiting for me in 2019.
After so many months of being pretty good at self-control, I went all out this month. I think all my birthday shopping last month spilled over to my holiday shopping (“I deserve this,” I kept telling myself, lol) this month. Definitely splurged on my Christmas dress (a bright red terno mini from Áraw), but I love it so much! Also picked up another pair of Souvenir clip-ons and got gifted a pair by Sam for Christmas. Love!
I had grand plans of cleaning out my closet today, but I kind of just want to lay in bed and read. How are you spending the last day of 2018?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the kind of person who honors traditions. I stick to the same plan every year, never really changing what I’ve grown accustomed to doing growing up.
Every birthday meant I’d have my friends over, have them sing me a birthday song, I’d blow out the candles and make a wish with my eyes closed. Even the food would be the same: lasagna with my mom’s bechamel sauce, orange spare ribs, and jungle juice (a recipe taught by my high school English teacher of all people, lol). When we were still living in Xavierville, the night would not end without a midnight walk to the park. History would repeat itself over and over again.
Until one year, I didn’t want a party. My friends still surprised me that year, but eventually, we also moved out of our house. I could no longer have friends over. And my birthday tradition was suddenly gone. Or so I thought.
It simply changed. I celebrated with smaller groups and stretched my birthday into weeks. My awesome friends even surprised me by pooling together money, so I could buy a new oven a few years ago. These past few years, I’ve tried to go on a birthday trip when I can and when I have the funds to splurge.
Christmas is another tradition that has constantly evolved for me. From getting our stockings filled with chocolate and toys when we were still living in Marikina to heading over to my Lola’s place in Iba to open gifts after midnight. I remember my parents would take us shopping for clothes and gifts on the 24th because there were hardly ever any people at the mall anymore. That and my mom is just really last minute, haha.
I used to complete Simbang Gabi with my parents—first in the Xavierville chapel then eventually in Gesu. Then when my mom passed away, I just stopped going completely. Maybe one day, I’ll go again.
The year before she died, we spent our holidays in Olongapo, where we had Noche Buena at a Korean restaurant that oddly served Filipino food. It feels so long ago, but I still remember the tiny tree my brother brought along with gifts for all of us.
And when Mira came along, we all got excited seeing her rip her gifts open and excitedly play with her new toys right away. I would bravely drive us all the way to the South just so we could spend Christmas Eve with her. These days, you can’t even get me to drive myself to the grocery. LOL.
Maybe this year will be different again, but it doesn’t worry me. Traditions are great, but they’re also not permanent. They can fade, linger, and sometimes transform, depending on your situation. Maybe they stay the same for as long as you need them to.
Technically, I saw it on the first day of December, but leading up to it, I was listening to the Broadway recording of Waitress. I saw a video of this kid Adrian singing “She Used to Be Mine” and then eventually, ending up singing it live on Broadway. I cried watching both videos, of course. When they announced the Manila production, I knew I wanted to see it. I expressed interest in the show, but didn’t really find anyone to watch it with until I asked two of my friends who magically said yes. I knew all the songs, but I never Googled the story, so I was pleasantly surprised at the ending. But also, was not prepared for it. *tears* Ahh! I’m so happy I got to watch it. PS Sara Bareilles needs to come to the Philippines, ASAP!
Still thinking about all the yummy things we got to eat in Taiwan. When I booked a trip to Taipei, I knew that I wanted to eat all of the things. And I spent my birthday doing just that. #blessed
It’s so funny how 2018 has really been a year like no other. This year, I completely missed the Cheer Dancing Competition—the only thing I truly care about during UAAP season. And yet, I found myself watching the UP-Adamson nail-biting game from start to finish. Of course I was thrilled when they won! TBH, I’m not sure how I can watch another game, but my friend Chinggay managed to convince me to watch Game 2 live tomorrow. LOL! Here’s hoping I don’t collapse from stress, hahaha. (Also, how cool would it be to watch the UP MBT win a game live??)
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts this year, and this live episode of How I Built This is probably one of my favorites. I’ve always been in awe of Emily Weiss and what she’s done with beauty. First, with her blog Into the Gloss, which is one of my favorite beauty websites to read (I love them so much, I follow a bunch of their editors online). Then, with Glossier, which probably makes up 75% of my beauty products (Milky Jelly Cleanser and Cloud Paints 4 eva eva). I love how she took something so simple (and relevant to a lot of people) and built her brand by listening to her would-be customers. Haters will say it’s all smoke and mirrors, but I’m a believer.
Could not possibly let my birthday pass without buying myself any presents, right? (Shut up, I know the trip was already a gift to myself. Haha!) Some of my favorite things: these Marquina slides, which I got on sale, and a Strange Mercy shirt that says, “The Universe Provides.”
December is here and I don’t know if I’m ready for it, but guess what? It doesn’t matter. d:
I booked this trip back in March, so we took our time planning our itinerary. Lucky for me, I was traveling with my good friend Mimi, who is probably the most organized person I know. We listed the places we wanted to go to and built our trip around that. It was only my first time traveling to Taiwan, but it was going to be Mimi’s third time, so I wanted to make sure we didn’t do too many repeats for her. We settled on visiting Shifen, Jiufen, and Taichung apart from Taipei.
We set out two days to travel a few hours out of Taipei and booked a private car to get to Taichung and a bus tour for our Shifen and Jiufen day trip. Would 10/10 recommend booking a car through Winner’s Tailor-Made VIP Tour if you want a hassle-free way of getting in and out of the city. We also booked our airport transfers with them. The rest of the trip was spent exploring our area in Ximending and checking out the art spaces in the Huashan and Songshan districts. Since our flight out was early Tuesday morning, we spent the entire Monday walking around (for almost 12 hours!), making sure to make a night market stop (we ended up in Raohe Street Night Market) before heading back to our hotel.
Where we stayed
I have to admit I booked Hotel PaPa Whale solely on how it looked. Haha! The reviews it got on Booking.com were pretty good and its location was ideal—not too far from all the action in Ximending, a 10-minute walk from the Ximen station, and generally a quiet area compared to the central area of the district.
Shifen Waterfall and Jiufen Old Street
My only request was that we spend my birthday at Amei Teahouse in Jiufen. Little did I know that it would be raining the entire day and we would be soaked by the time we headed to the teahouse. We arrived at GaKuDen bakery where we picked up some bread (and cake for some candle-blowing later that night) before hopping on the Klook bus that would take us to our first stop: Shifen Waterfall. By the time we got to the drop-off point, it was already drizzling. I had brought a long a pocketable parka, but by the time we made our way down from the waterfall viewing deck, I was drenched. I ended up buying an umbrella before we headed to the tracks.
I skipped the sky lanterns (please consider its effect on the environment before you participate in this tourist trap) and just checked out the shops lining the tracks at Shifen. I wanted to try the peanut ice cream, so I was waiting for my order when a familiar voice asked, “Masarap ba?” To my complete surprise, Patty was standing in front of me with her backpack and everything. She followed us to Shifen straight from the airport because she’s awesome like that. I wish we had my reaction on video because I’m pretty sure it was pure shock. I had invited her to come along, but she told me she was out of leaves. LOL! Apparently, she and Mimi had been corresponding the entire time trying to figure out where she could catch us. Thankfully, our Klook guide Michael let her join the bus (she also purchased a voucher) heading to Jiufen.
We arrived at the Jiufen drop-off past 5pm and it was raining very hard. The wind was strong and since our clothes were already soaked, we were freezing! Jiufen is a hillside village that has about 200 steps to the top, where the street is lined with shops. There are several tea houses lined with paper lanterns in the area, but we headed to Amei, which is supposedly the inspiration for the location of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. I was already exhausted at this point, and I had to pull myself up the steps just to make it to Amei. We were directed to a table outside and we had a view of the pretty lanterns a few steps below. We decided to enjoy our tea and skip the rest of the trip up the stairs and head back down when it was a few minutes before our meet-up time. Our oolong tea was served with an assortment of snacks. I enjoyed the sesame crackers, mung bean cake, and pineapple cake the best. You could also purchase these along with tea sets and souvenirs at the shop. They gave us complimentary postcards with a beautiful photo of the tea house. This was easily one of the best parts of this trip for me. We headed back to the city and we polished my two cakes (one chocolate and one cheese) before we completely passed out.
A day in Taichung
We were surprisingly up early the next morning for our day trip to Taichung. Taichung is about two hours away, so we wanted to make the most of our day. We originally planned to go the DIY commute route, but realized that we might have trouble finding taxis in the city. We opted to book a private car that made our trip stress-free. Our driver Will was helpful (answered all our questions and gave tips on which spots to hit back in Taipei) and, more importantly, spoke English.
We left our hotel a few minutes after 8:30 and made it to our first stop, the Zhongshe Flower Farm, a little before 11. There were so many fields to take pictures of (and with), so we spent about an hour just going around. We made our way to Calligraphy Greenway for lunch (where we had a bit of trouble ordering, haha), and walked the stretch to look at some art. I realized belatedly that the shops I wanted to see were on the side streets and not the main road, so we didn’t get to see them. We were running out of time, so I just made mental note to go back if I ever find myself in Taiwan again. Our next stop was the Rainbow Village, a military housing that’s painted in all the colors of the rainbow. A retired soldier does all the painting and he’s usually in the area, so you can meet him and take a photo with him. After taking all the photos we could, we headed to Miyahara, excited to try the delicious ice cream we saw online prior to our trip. The space where it’s housed was an old optical shop that the pineapple cake-making company Dawn Cakes transformed into a gorgeous store. I kid you not, it looks straight out of a Harry Potter book. The Honeydukes-like store sells all kinds of treats from cookies to chocolate to cheesecake and other delectable pastries. We made our way to the ice cream place only to see an extremely long queue. Since we were already running late on our schedule, we knew there was no time to wait in line. We relegated to buying a cheesecake to share and took as many photos we could. The packaging was so beautiful, we actually took home the box! Our last Taichung stop was Chun Shui Tang, the home of the original pearl milk tea, circa 1983 (a full year younger than me!). We opted to visit the original store since we were already there. If we had more time, it would’ve been nice to sit down and try some of the dishes served here, too. We still had about two hours of travel ahead of us, so we took our pearl milk tea to go and enjoyed them on the way back to Taipei.
We’re only halfway done, but I’ll reserve the rest of our Taipei adventures for my next post. Up next: All the good eats in Taipei, creative parks, cute shops in Dihua, plus all the Eslite branches we visited. Haha! Are you headed to Taiwan any time soon? What places did we miss? Let me know so I can visit the next time I go!