March 24, 2017

Weaknesses

Baler, Aurora - December 2015

Whether we admit it or not, exposing our weaknesses is something that is hard for us to do. It's not really because of pride or self-judgement but the act of acknowledging where we are bad at, really is mind draining. It's not that we think too highly of ourselves but I guess it has something to do with us, being so used to thinking positively about our personalities - strengths, virtues, and just things that other people usually commend us or recognize in us.

Personally, one of my weaknesses is being too passionate. I know that is something positive but too much of something, of anything is not really a good thing. I am very passionate about friends, relationships, hobbies to name a few. I am someone who gives more than a hundred percent to things that I really like, to people who matter so much to me. In the end, I get so drawn, so involved without realizing I'm giving too much of myself to it. In the end, I blame myself; not for the things I should not have done, but for the things I did too much.

Another weakness, and probably quite a big one for me is not knowing when to stop at something. Being a very emotional person, whenever I feel happy about something or someone, I feel really happy! And I do mean really really happy! I focus myself on it just like embracing it all as if it is the sunshine that I need to make me feel alive. But the downfall of anything so good, so high, is that we fall so hard by the time this happiness fades. There is no 'slow fall' with me, it's always a big fall. There then rolls another weakness; I never learn, not easily from these big falls.

At school I can say that I am a fast learner. I can get by acing a test or an exam without really reviewing at home because whenever a teacher delivers his/her lectures, I make sure that I am a very dry sponge ready to absorb every word that the teacher would deliver. And that's all I need for any upcoming evaluation, together with a fast scan on some of my friends' notes minutes before the papers are handed to us to build up on. But if it's life giving me lectures, it's something that I feel so dumb with. I don't really learn that fast.

I eat a little of this and it makes me a million pounds heavier. But still, when that food is handed over, I'd still indulge myself with it even if it's something I can easily avoid. I already know that if I skip washing my hair with nizoral shampoo once every month, my dandruff will suddenly gives a surprise appearance that bugs me out easily, I'd still feel sluggish maintaining it. And yes, the person I gave up all my heart to, who I fell over and over again even after hurt after hurt; I just never learn. Even after realizing just why, I still find myself going towards it again no matter how hard my fall was. Talk about being stupid?

But the biggest weakness that I really need to work on is my anxiety. I do overthink quite so much. I overwork my mind especially whenever I have idle times and have nothing to do, my mind gets clouded so easily by thoughts that aren't really needed at that very moment. This one, is one of those weaknesses that is negative by nature and should be minimized, if not totally removed. Time, efforts, thoughts are wasted. Too much anticipation could kill you, really!

The list just goes on and on but just as I have said, I recognize that I have a lot of weaknesses but it's tad hard to iterate every single one of it in detail. Though one thing I've known through these 26 years, is that these weaknesses are there to make us whole. These may be something negative in each of us but we cannot just take it off because it's part of who we are, it's part of what make us ourselves.

There's nothing wrong with making efforts to take these weaknesses away from our totality, besides, we are here on earth to live and work towards a better version of what we are than yesterday's. But as these weaknesses somehow finds home in us, without plans of leaving anytime soon, we should learn how to embrace it. Yes! Concede with these traits, attitudes and feelings and use them to make other weaknesses turn into strengths, use them to a better person. Not just a better son, a better mother, a better classmate, or a better friend - but a better person for yourself!

***
Never Stop Improving!
Steve

This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/

March 14, 2017

Secret Haven Cafe

They Are Open

Nestled in the middle of Jordan Subdivision in Noveleta is the hippest place you'd ever see in town. Located inside a residential area, truly this 'Secret Haven' is greatly kept away from the highway hustle and bustle. But what makes this place a must visit is not just its tasty food and yummy drinks, it's the place that is magically stunning!

My niece Abrielle at the beautiful green gates

As you walk through the green wooden gates, a beautiful garden filled with a lot of cacti and succulents will welcome you warmly and make you feel so much at home. Just like you stepped in through the pages of a beautiful fairy tale. And yes, this place is simply picture worthy, my cousins prove this fact so well.

Their garden where you can dine and relax.

Behind the Green Gates

My Cousin Caren adores their Whitewash walls

We walked inside the 'house' where there were available seats for us. It was quite a sunny and warm day so we opted to be seated inside for the air-conditioning. It's a small and cute place so our group of six already occupied half of the place. The interior is hipster chic with whitewashed wooden wall panels, hanging light bulbs and memorabilia from the owner's travels.

Mama Vicky waiting for her Club Sandwich

Three Generations of the Que Family

The menu features pasta, burgers, milkshakes and smoothies. We had a really hard time choosing what we'll be having because everything sounds so good! We tried their smoothies. I got myself a Lasagna, so as my brother, my niece Abrielle, and my cousin Caren while Ate Carmeline got herself her bacon and mushroom burger named after a famous waterfall from Iceland. My Aunt, Mama Vicky chose her favorite Club Sandwich.

Gullfoss - Secret Haven's Bacon and Mushroom Cheeseburger

It was good! Really good, as for me of course! The Lasagna is so beefy and perfectly seasoned to release the flavor of the beef. And the cheese, yes, real cheddar! Ate Carmeline's Burger on the other hand is a little spicy on the patty but still good.

Secret Haven's Beefy Lasagna

We also ordered their Mojo Potato Slices. Unlike the usual once we have from Shakey's, this one is breaded and not battered. Spiced as well, my niece did not like it that much but I think it was okay mainly because of the dip that it was served with.

Secret Haven's Mojo Potatoes
  
Their drinks were another story, they were really good! We tried three of their Milkshakes, the Love Statue, Croatia, and their Caramel Frappe. Love Statue is made with Lotus Biscoff Crunchy Biscuit Spread and Lotus Caramelized Biscuits. Croatia on the other hand, which I ordered, has Maltesers Chocolate Malted Milk Balls.

Yes, I had to take a photo before I finish this meal

We stayed there for more than an hour and then we visited the plant shop next door where we bought ourselves some cute little cactus plants and some succulents. They also have this cute little airplants. Of course, I got myself some cacti, four of them to be exact.

Four Little Cactus for Me!

This dinner was a treat from my brother Wilson to our one and only Mama Vicky, the best Aunt in the Whole Wide World! She's leaving this Thursday for California and we will surely miss her! Love You So Much Mama Vicky!

I would definitely go back to Secret Haven and bring my friends. It's more than just the food or the pretty place, but it's about this over all experience that you'll share with this 'secret haven'. Actually, me and my cousins are planning our next visit here very soon, you should too!

Kuya Wilson, Caren, Mama Vicky, Ate Carmeline, Abrielle, and Me.

Secret Haven is located inside Jordan Subdivision and can be reached through EPZA Diversion Road. Here is a map for your reference:


***


Never Stop Looking for Secrets!
Steve

March 1, 2017

Food Trippin' Asia

For most of us, our travel lists are made up of sightseeing, souvenir shopping, and even trying out extreme sports. But one thing we all have in common on our lists is Food. Whether it's tasting the most exotic delicacies on the city streets, to sit down dinners at Michelin star fine dine restaurants, food really mirrors not just the county's taste but also it gives our taste buds a glimpse of the story of a nation's culture.

Across Asia, here are a few of my favorite and truly remarkable dishes that I have tried on my Asian expeditions. Let me share you some of them here.

1. Pad Thai (Thailand)


Street hawker at Bangkok

Probably the most famous dish of Siam, Pad Thai is something you can enjoy anytime of the day. We tried this delicious noodle dish on the streets of Nighttime Bangkok. Stir Fried on flat iron griddle, Pad Thai is best enjoyed hot off the grill. It has a variety of ingredients including eggs, shrimp, pork, chicken, lime juice, sugar, and a special rice noodle or as they call it lo mein noodles.


Bangkok Style Pad Thai

Just on the street, we chose this hawker stall that sells Pad Thai during our second night in the city. I observed how it's being prepared and cooked and the chef's hands are just so fast I literally can't catch up with the small ingredients at that very moment.But what I love about Pad Thai is how you season it with condiments. I put a lot of chili and crushed peanuts on top of mine. It was good! I can still remember myself telling my cousin that Pad Thai is a good reason to go back to Thailand.

2. Lemon Breaded Pork (China)


Lemon Breaded Pork

This perfect fusion of sweet, sour, and tangy tastes left a remarkable mark to our Beijing experience. The pork was completely covered with crispy batter and then deep fried to its perfect consistensy while maintaining its tenderness inside its coat. 

It was winter when we traveled around the majestic city and instead of water for drinks, hot soya milk were given for free to dine-in customers. We never missed their take on tomato soup where fresh tomatoes are mashed and pureed to make a hot soup. Served in flamed warmers, the soup is warm throughout your meal under the freezing cold of the outside chill.

My dad and our Hot Tomato Soup - Beijing Style

Dining in the heart of Beijing was sort of a challenge for us to be honest. There were no Menus written in English. Good thing the owner of the restaurant near Red Lantern House, where we stayed were very nice and accommodating to us. We cannot speak in Mandarin and he cannot speak in English so we relied on sign language and animal sounds to distinguish the kind of meat these dishes are made of.

3. Hainanese Chicken Rice (Singapore)


Singapore's Famous Chicken Rice

Originally from the Chinese island of Hainan, the Chicken Rice is a dish made up of two main parts, the chicken and the rice. HAHAHA But as funny as how literal its name is, this dish is so tasty! The secret to this is exfoliating the chicken with coarse salt which then creates this silky and smooth skin once it has been cooked, while keeping the meat tender and tasty.

Bugis Hainanese Chicken Rice

Although the sign reads "Bugis Hainanese Chicken Rice" this very store I enjoyed this dish is located at the bottom of the Singapore Flyer, South East Asia's largest Ferris wheel attraction. Just for 5 Singapore Dollars (Php 180.00) you can enjoy this delectable dish. As simple as it sounds and looks like, pairing it with its special peanut sauce (My Favorite) is just an adventure at your table.

4. Yakitori (Japan)


One of Japan's most famous street food is the Yakitori (Japanese for grilled chicken). Grilled over hot charcoal on little skewers called kushi, these are usually seasoned with salt or sometimes their special sauces.

Plain Salted Chicken Yakitori

Before, I thought Yakitori is just made up of thigh fillet pieces but there did I knew that Yakitori can be prepared using boned chicken, chicken intestines, and even ground chicken to name a few.

Me in front of Toritake, Tokyo

My cousin Carmina took me to this famous Yakitori place just a block away from the iconic Shibuya Junction. The place is small and cute but patrons line up just to be seated inside the cozy area. We were lucky enough to go straight right away since we were just a party of two and it was a weekday when we visited. Aside from Yakitori, Ate Carmina also ordered a tofu dish, an onigiri dish with salmon roe, and two bottles of sake. It was amazing!

5. Beef Lok Lak


Cambodia's Beef Lok Lak

Prepared with a sauce usually made up of lime juice, salt, and pepper, Beef Lok Lak is a stir fried beef dish famous in Cambodia. It is usually served with rice and this one (from Golden Coconut at Siem Reap) with fried egg on top. 

It is a mixture of salty, savory, sweet, sour, and spicy! What else can you look for in a dish. As crazy as it sounds, the fusion of all these tastes gives it a perfect combination that will leave you wanting a second serving at your table. 

***

Never Stop Eating Dreaming!
Steve

Osu Shopping District, Nagoya, Japan

February 27, 2017

Josefina "Neneng" Que Lozares (1947 - 2017)

Josefina "Neneng" Que Lozares 
(January 14, 1947 -  February 18, 2017)

Your advices are always up to date and not the traditional advices from old people. You always see to it that whoever needs your words will feel understood and accepted and loved.

It was so hard to see you leave especially for me who's used to seeing you every single day since I was born. But you're at the best place now with all our loved ones including my Mom and Lolo and Lola and Uncle Gody.


I love you Auntie Neneng, Thank you for everything!


Here are some beautiful and timeless photographs of my Aunt Neneng during her years:


Josefina during her teenage years


Josefina during her teenage years

My Beautiful Auntie Neneng at New General Lumber who she is one of the founding pillars


College Days


Walking out of her Bridal Car (August 10, 1968)


Josefina and Vivencio on their Wedding Day (August 10, 1968)


Auntie Neneng with her Niece


Left to Right: Nana Norie, Auntie Neneng, Kuya Venice, Kuya Tom, Lola Bebang
Front: Kuya Jon-Jon

Uncle Bay and Auntie Neneng


Auntie Neneng on a Birthday Party at Westin Philippine Plaza


Auntie Neneng at the Grand Palace, Thailand (June 2015)


Auntie Neneng at Bangkok, Thailand (June 2015)


"We love you so much Auntie and you'll always be part of us even if you are now in Heaven"

+ Josefina "Neneng" Que Lozares 
(January 14, 1947 -  February 18, 2017)


February 24, 2017

Taytay, Palawan

Abongan, Taytay, Palawan

This is probably one of my favorite shots that I took during my last trip to the island of Palawan. The tranquil waters of the swamps leading to the river that opens up to the bountiful part of the sea mirrors the clearest and bluest skies. This part of the waters lead up to the Malampaya Sound where Irrawaddy Dolphins swim and thrive together with a diverse marine life. We did a lot of Fishing on that beautiful sunny day and grilled our freshest catch that afternoon.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/