Anatomy of Faces and Hues

 

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From our exhibit last February 28 about mental health awareness (Photo taken by me)

 

When people ask me if I am doing fine,

I close my eyes and pick a color farthest from the nightmares in my mind.

“I’m fine,” I say, as I watch myself paint another face.

Another masterpiece, another lie–today I’ve survived.

 

When people ask me if I am doing fine,

I examine the ugly scars in my body and imagine an unblemished canvas.

“I’m alright,” I whisper, choosing a red, blissful face.

Another masterpiece, another lie–today I’ve survived.

 

When people ask me if I am doing fine,

My mind immediately cries–while my hands automatically pick the brush.

“I will be okay,” I promise, as my demon wakes.

Another masterpiece, another lie–today I’ve survived.

 

Of Happiness, Warm Hearts, and a Whole Bunch of Infinities

When we were young, fairy tales taught us how there’s only one person we are destined to live with for the rest of our lives and I admit, I firmly believed this idea. My seven-year-old self probably found it magical and romantic like most of the kids during that age. Fortunately, David Levithan and Rachel Cohn saved me from this rather incredible lie that the universe made up. On their novel entitled, “Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List,”  the two authors perfectly countered this idea.

“It’s a total lie to say there’s only one person you’re going to be with for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky – and if you try really hard – there will always be more than one. ”

That line stuck with me ever since I read it and it’s probably because it’s true. As I grew older, I appreciated the comfort I often find with my friends rather than the idea of a romantic partner. In my opinion, it’s because friendships are one of the strongest ties there ever is. Also, it’s the truest form of fairy tales.

With that said, I would like to dedicate this post to the seven people who made every moment of this year spectacular.


First of all, to this guy who fights every single person who mistreats us, thank you for always watching our backs. I know that I often tell you not to make people hate you just for our sake but I know it’s no use. You’re the kind of person who fights hard for your loved ones and even though it’s not necessary for you to fight our own battle, I appreciate the gesture.

I know that this year was particularly hard for you and I know how you’re staying strong amidst all of your problems and I love you for doing so. Whenever I see you fooling around and trying your best to make us laugh even though you’re having a bad day, I kind of wish I can be as strong as you.

This Christmas, I hope that you will continue to smile sweetly, love with every beat of your heart and fight your battles bravely. And in case you need reinforcements, don’t forget to call us because we also got your back. Okay? I love you!

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To one of the most sensible and kind person in our group, thank you for always encouraging us to do the right thing. I often think badly of myself because let’s face it, I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life but because of you, I’m starting to learn how to think of the other person first before doing something impulsive. And as Lily Collins said in the film Stuck In Love, “You make me feel less cynical.” 

Thank you for being an excellent listener and an honest friend. More than anything, I wish you happiness and warmth this Christmas. I know that you’re a strong person even though you’re quiet most of the time so I’m sure that no matter what happen, you’re going to overcome it. Love you, Grace!

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(P.S. I’m not sure if I’m the one who took this photo. Lol)

For the girl whose made of sugar and joy, thank you for making me smile and for always offering a helping hand. Last year, I wrote about how you should learn how to say no to people who’ll just hurt you and this year, you’ve done just that. I was honestly surprised with how you handled things with a certain someone that by the way, I would gladly trip if I ever see him walking alone. You bravely talked about the things you wanted and did not take any bullshit from him. I’m proud of you, girl.

I’m glad that you now see your heart as something people should not mess with. You deserve all the love that you can get and you should not hesitate to leave someone if they ever take you or your feelings for granted. Remember, you are (so, so much) worth it.

I wish you a Christmas filled with love and laughter. I love you!

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To the girl made of the strongest armor, thank you for always making me remember my worth and for talking me out of most of my ridiculous plans. There were lots of things that changed for you this year and I know that some part of you is still feeling guilty for what happened, I already said this to you before and I’m repeating it again: don’t. 

You did the right thing and it doesn’t matter how many people don’t understand it or how painful it is. In the end, what is right is what matters. You deserve to be happy too, Tricia. Don’t take that away from yourself.

This Christmas, I wish you peace and lots of happiness. Continue to face life while taking zero bullshits. Love you!!

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To the girl filled with beautiful words and lovely smiles, thank you for constantly worrying about us. I always find your concern so overwhelming and I often tell myself not to do or say stuff that will further worry you since I can feel how much you want us to feel better.

So for that, I am really grateful. You have a lot in your hands right now but believe me, everything’s going to be alright. You are more than capable of overcoming your problems so keep on staying strong, okay? We are always here for you, remember that.

I wish for more wonderful music for you (because you love it more than anything else) and all the laughter in the universe. I hope to see more of your smiles next year because you look the brightest whenever you do it. Love you, Belle!

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For the person who always looks at the lighter side of things, thank you for making everything easier not only for me but for all of us. You and Jann have been the constant stress reliever in the group and I can’t imagine us without the both of you.

Thank you for bearing with my annoying rambles and ridiculous stories. You might think it’s not much but it isn’t. You put color in our lives and while I am not much of a painter, you made us and the moments we spent together a masterpiece.

I wish that you continue to live boldly and bravely and that you finally (finally!!!) find someone who will love you as much as we do (and more). Love you, girl!

cang

(I also don’t know if I took this photo haha)

To the person who never fails to amaze me with her bravery, thank you. This year was also a tough year for you but I am so glad that you’ve overcome it. It might not look like it, but you are one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met and I am so lucky to be friends with you.

Continue to fight for what you believe in and you can expect to see us in the back, always supporting you. Do not hesitate to lean on us whenever there’s too much going on. We will offer you warm hugs and laughter as much as you want.

I wish you a beautiful Christmas with the people you love the most. I love you, Cang!


Thank you guys for everything. I know that the hours we spend together get shorter and lesser because of our thesis but I am still grateful for those moments no matter how long or short it is. You made my college life wonderful and I will surely miss you once we graduate and do our own things. Also, I hope that all of our dreams for our future will come true!

The future may be scary but it’s alright since I’ve got the best people by my side. I love you, guys! We make one heck of a beautiful fairy tale, I’m sure of it. Haha. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Tomato Cannon: Braving Uncharted Recipes

Walking around the various streets of Malolos in search of new restaurants to explore and share with your family and friends might be a little too exhausting and time-consuming especially because of the increasing number of restaurants and cafes surrounding the area. Plus, there is always a tendency to find restaurants covered in fancy décor but offers bland and soulless food or places with only half-hearted attempts in following food trends causing huge dismay to their customers.

Luckily, we found a place that suits most of the categories needed for a good restaurant. Using a name which brought confusion in our 4th-grade selves and maybe up until now (Is it a vegetable or a fruit?!)–Tomato Cannon is a cozy café situated across Centro Escolar University Malolos Campus and South Supermarket which caters to all the hungry and picky tummies out there.

Exploration #1: “I came, I saw, I conquered” – Preparing for the trip

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Wall of all things good. Taken by Jean Pagtalunan (10-23-16)

Tomato Cannon started as a fun project way back in the month of May between Vince Nuguid (owner), his family and friends. But after only two months in their soft opening, they received different types of positive feedbacks from the people and from then on, Vince decided to make plans for the café’s future expansion.

In spite of the relatively small space, they were able to maximize it using six medium-sized tables which can accommodate roughly 36 people. Once inside, you will be welcomed by cheerful waiters; immediately eliciting a smile out of your tired and hungry soul. If it is not enough to lighten up your mood, there are several feel good quotes scattered around the café. As a whole, the place succeeded in giving off a relaxing mood with the help of warm, yellow-orange lights paired with the tasteful music turned in just the right volume.

Exploration #2: “No stop signs, no speed limit. Nobody’s gonna slow me down” – Reaching Highway to Heaven

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Thirst Quenchers. Taken by Thea Panganiban (10-23-16)

As its name promised, Tomato Cannon’s menu consists of different dishes using tomato as a staple ingredient. They offer basic tomato dishes from pasta to pizza and even bravely mixing tomato with other fruits for their signature drinks.

Aside from the unusual dishes that will give you more than enough reason to visit the café like Longganisa Mac and Cheese, Salted Egg Walnut pasta, Cheesy Volcano Ribs, Spicy Strawberry shake and the famous Ultimate Cannon Pizza, Tomato Cannon’s gem also lies within the reasonable prices of their food.

After deciding amongst ourselves, we ended up trying the store’s bestsellers in order to determine if they are really as good as what we heard. (Spoiler Alert: All of it is good!)

We ordered the Garlic Tomato Basil pasta (85php), Creamy Three Cheese pasta (125php) and paired it with the intriguing Tomato Lemonade (59php) and Brazilian Milkshake (59php). Finally, we ordered their Cheesy Bacon pizza (295php) which is said to be handmade and prepared using fresh ingredients.

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Delish. Taken by Thea Panganiban (10-23-16)

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Taken by Thea Panganiban (10-23-16)

First off, the Garlic Tomato Basil pasta. I normally don’t like tomato pasta since I prefer my pasta to be sweet and salty rather than sour but surprisingly, I love this dish. Unlike the typical tomato pasta that I’ve eaten before, this pasta’s flavors are well-balanced and the cook somehow perfected the art of picking tomatoes since it is not too sour nor too sweet which is the best and preferably the only way to eat it. On the other hand, the Creamy Three Cheese pasta is all the things that one can ask for in a pasta dish. It’s both cheesy and creamy at the same time and even though it has too many flavors and might appear to be a little too salty to some, we both extremely enjoyed it.

Second in the list are Tomato Lemonade and Brazilian Milkshake. We both admire the defiant combination of tomato and lemon in order to create a perfect shake to beat the constant heat in the Philippines. The surprising thing about this lemonade is that it tastes like bittersweet green mangoes which is totally unexpected but nevertheless, good. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Milkshake which is obviously a mix of milk and lemonade has a kind of addicting taste to it. My partner swore that when we eat at Tomato Cannon again, it will definitely be in her order.

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Round Shaped Heaven. Taken by Jean Pagtalunan (10-23-16)

Finally, we savored the delicious thin-crust pizza with cheese and bacon toppings. I did not especially find anything new to it since I’ve never been a real fan of the said combination however, I must say that I adore their pizza crust. It’s not as thin as what the popular pizza parlors in our country offers which is good since super thin crust pizzas are kind of a little too much in my opinion. We were also in awe of the minimal amount of oil there is in the pizza which somehow makes it less sinful.

All in all, we tremendously enjoyed the food that we ordered and we’re both happy that we don’t need to travel far in order to eat quality pizza and pasta.

Exploration #3: “Not all those who wander are lost” – Marking the Territory

In our opinion, the only problematic thing about Tomato Cannon is its lack of parking space. Since it is located along the highway, there is a very little option in parking one’s car. Although according to Vince Nuguid, owner of the café, there is a huge possibility that they will transfer the store someplace else but since that will be a long process, we just have to bear with it for now.

With that said, we highly recommend Tomato Cannon to people who are tired of the same old dishes found in fast food chains or fancy restaurants. It is for the people whose philosophy when it comes to food is, every bite should be an experience. And what a great experience this has been! From the homey interior, the friendly staff, and owner, to the mouth-watering foods they serve–Tomato Cannon have aced them all.

So, what are you waiting for? Drop by at the café and mark your own territories as you spoon your way to every single piece of good food they offer!

Ratings: 8.5 stars

Things I Need to Say Today

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I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. It’s the most basic thing to say but it’s the truest thing that ever came out of my quivering lips.

I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. September’s gone and so are your smiles—like the branches being carried away by the river’s rage…you have packed them all away.

I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. I heard the song you used to sing today and I kept on hitting replay; it is as if you’re going to come back if I listen to it one more time, one more time.

I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. I can still remember the day I saw you crying alone in the hallway—I approached you and hugged you and I told you that if you’ll be happier if you leave the organization, do it. Those words are still haunting me until today.

I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. There are days when I feel so damn guilty for breathing. It is as if I have already lost my right to live ever since the darkness took you away.

I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. I’m building a castle of nightmares founded with what ifs. I’m building an ocean where no sails could be lost and forgotten. I’m building a life without your warmth and embrace.

I’m sorry. I miss you and I wish you were here. I know yours were the most painful “see you again” that will ever escape my quivering lips.

Rizal: A sun-filled province

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After a stressful week at school, I can’t help but to be excited with the fact that I’ll be surrounded with the sun, cool mountain air, and honestly just anything alive and doesn’t scream “Study!” or “Deadlines!” to me.

Thankfully, my family decided that it’s about time to go on a road trip again!

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Taken at Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia, Tanay, Rizal (09-10-16)

Since my family loves to visit pilgrimage sites, our first destination was Tanay, Rizal wherein the famous Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia is located. The said site is managed by Dominican sisters of Regina Rosarii and as stated above, they are the home of Contemplative prayer.

The place has strict house rules and before the visitors can enter the different worship sites, they must undergo a quick orientation. It’s mainly about the vision and mission of the place and the dress codes implemented.

TIP: If you want to visit, wear a semi-formal attire. For the girls, wear longer skirts or jeans because you need to borrow a shawl to cover the lower part of your body if you’re wearing clothes cut above the knee.

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Taken at the picnic grounds on Regina Rosarii, Tanay, Rizal (09-10-16)

Once inside you will be welcomed by horses and sheep, colorful peacocks, and bright flowers. Lots and lots of them!!!

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I apologize for taking so many pictures but they are absolutely gorgeous and I keep on wanting to show them off! Haha. 

After the 11:00 am mass, we immediately left Tanay and went on to Pililia to see the wind mill farm.

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Taken at Pililia Wind Farm, Rizal (09-10-16)

There were a several number of people in the wind farm considering that we arrived there around 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.

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The place, as promised, is surrounded by huge wind mills and strong winds. Due to the strong afternoon wind, I did not mind the heat so much. Although I’m certain that I got a bit of a tan from taking photos without any protection from the sun. Still, I have no regrets!

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TIP: Bring a cap or an umbrella if you want to visit this place. Trust me, it’s very much needed.

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We stopped over on a couple of old churches along the way home too, but due to lack of sleep, I wasn’t able to take good photos of those places. (I sleep whenever we get in the car. Lol)

The trip however, was a really fun one-scorching heat and all. I was glad that I did something other than study and finish my tasks in our organization. I had fun and I definitely want to go back to Rizal another time. Mainly because we weren’t able to eat their special treats. I do not call it touring if I wasn’t able to eat the place’s specialty. Haha!

Anyways, the long weekend is about to leave and I fear that a major reality check is going to haunt me really soon. Lol. See you, again!

 

 

Once I painted my world black and white

 

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I stood there as the sun burnt the trees, as the shutter hit its limit. I stood there as the world started to move, as the air started to breathe. I stood there. I stood and watched. Stood and watched. (Taken at Mini Forest, City of Malolos, Bulacan)

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I am trapped. Like a painting. Breathless, lifeless, beautiful–t r a p p e d. (Taken at National Museum of the Philippines, Metro Manila)

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Take your colors and paint with the wind. Take your canvass and paint with your heartbeat. Take the darkness and paint with the world. (Taken at National Museum of the Philippines, Metro Manila)

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All I wanted was for the world to freeze, to stop. Like the moment we spent that day, forever frozen in a four sided wall. Like you and me, kept in a dark portion of your heart—frozen cold. (Taken at Robinsons Place, City of Malolos, Bulacan)

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As I catch a glimpse of your body caged in the damned casket, I begged for the universe to have one last second, one last month, one last year with you. Not out. Not without. (Taken at National Museum of the Philippines, Metro Manila)

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Sometimes I wonder, do my shadows get lonely too? (Photographed by Thea Panganiban at Intramuros, Manila)

BTS: Before the Shot Stories – A Day In Manila

My unrelenting heart has flown,

Like the vast blue sky above-alone and unreachable.

Like a bullet racing towards its target,

My heart no longer aches to wait.

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Flowers hanging in the trellis,

I was stunned by your thorns.

Blood dropping from my fingers,

I realized you’re fragile but strong.

Flowers hanging in the trellis,

I could not help but to think of his long gone kisses.

Tiny petals floating in the air,

I wish my memories of him could be blown out and away.

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Dear Mr. Lamppost, I am calling out to you.

Can you hear the birds chirping from up above the sky?

Can you tell how scared I am?

Dear Mr. Lamppost, I am calling out to you.

Can you see the sun falling beyond the sea?

Can you feel my warmth quickly faltering?

Dear Mr. Lamppost, I am calling out to you.

My friend says you share your light with anyone,

Can you also cast your light upon my weary soul?

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Seasons of You and Me

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Taken at Rizal Park, Metro Manila, Philippines (12/04/15)

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Taken at Rizal Park, Metro Manila, Philippines (12/04/15)

Wind’s biting,

Winter is coming,

Are you still writing to me?

 

Flowers blooming,

Spring is approaching,

Are you still waiting for me?

 

Sunlight’s burning,

Summer is deafening,

Are you still searching for me?

 

Trees undressing,

Autumn is waking,

Are you still wishing for me?

 

Meteors falling,

The season’s changing,

Why are you still thinking of me?