Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Melancholy of Ma'am Kristine: Mystery Cake

Today is Amb. Tirona's birthday. The PLP full-time faculty held a program so full-timers' classes were cancelled. Part-timers were supposed to hold classes as usual, but my students didn't come to class, so I joined the other part-timers whose students were MIA. We were invited to eat so we lined up for the buffet. But, since the affair was for full-timers, there weren't any seats for us, so we headed back to the faculty room. When we came back down to return the plates to the caterers, Ma'am Auit decided to watch the slide show made for Amba so Sir Ryan and I watched with her.

Moment 1: Open mouth, insert foot

Me (about the flattering acrosstic poem flashed on the screen): Hala ka. Totoo ba yan?
Sir Ryan: Para kay Amba. Patapos na yan.
Me (moves hands, as if forming a ball): Bola.
Lady beside us: Ang hirap humanap ng pictures. Akala ko hindi ko magagawa.

The lady beside us turned out to be Amba's daughter. Great. Open mouth, insert foot.

Moment 2: Mystery Cake

As we stood there, three female HM students approached me with a cake.

Girl 1: Ma'am, pinabibigay po ni Chef Luces(?).
Girl 2 (elbowing girl 1): Ssst.
Girl 1: Sabi niya, sabihin galing kay Chef Luces(?) eh.
Me: Sakin to?
Girl 3: Opo.
Me: Ano to? Bibigay ko kay Amba?
Girl 1: Hindi, ma'am! Sayo yan.
Me: Ah... okay. Just checking. Thank you.

I was too confused. Didn't really know how to react. I think I should be flattered, but really.... o_o

It's good cake, though. ;-D

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holidays for 2009

PGMA has listed the official holidays of 2009 in proclamation 1699.

6 April - Araw ng Kagitingan instead of April 9
9 April - Maundy Thursday
10 Apr - Good Friday
1 May - Labor Day
12 June - Independence Day
21 August - Ninoy Aquino Day
31 August - National Heroes’ Day
21 September - Eid’l Fitr (exact date my change)
1 November - All Saints’ Day
2 November - All Soul’s Day
30 November - Bonifacio Day
24 December - Christmas Eve
25 December - Christmas Day
30 December - Rizal Day
31 December - New Year’s Eve

Mark your calendars, then. Hope you guys find this information useful. Nothin about the commemoration of the first EDSA revolution (24/25 February), but that doesn't mean she can't declare it as a holiday at the last minute. Chances are she will, anyway.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Relieved: Comments on the Feast of the Black Nazarene

It has always been difficult for me, someone who a priest has called an "inquiring faithful", to understand many of the rituals and traditions of Philippine Catholicism. Don't get me wrong, whenever I recite the Apostles' Creed, I mean it. It's just that, sometimes, the human aspect of the Catholic Church is not easy to "believe in". Because I often find the actions of many "devout Catholics" to be utterly pointless and adverse to the Christian faith, it's not easy for me to defend the faith when questioned. Many people, myself included, are not good representatives of the Catholic Church.

This Sunday, I felt vindicated when a priest echoed my thoughts in his sermon. Fr. Nolan criticized the devotees of the Black Nazarene in this way. "Mag-tsinelas nga kayo. Baka matusok yang mga paa ninyo. Tingin niyo ba gusto ng Nazareno na magkasugat-sugat yang mga paa ninyo?" Fr. Nolan further told us that when you ask most devotees why they do what they do on the feast day of the Nazareno, they reply "Para matupad ang mga kahilingan namin." I think the priest's internal retort "Ano to, gamitan?" was most appropriate.

It is traditions, no, mentalities like this that make non-Catholic Christians shake their heads at us, marking us as unbelievers who have a very superficial relationship with God.

We tend to treat God like a vending machine. Insert good deed. Select wish. Take wish from compartment below. And when we don't get what we want we become resentful. We smack the machine. We curse at it. We swear never to use it again. This way of thinking assumes that when we do the things good Christians should do, God owes us something. But, how can that be when all the things we have and do are gifts from God? See the disconnect?

The feast of the Black Nazarene is a beautiful example of how Catholicism is still very much alive in the Philippines and how many Catholics are not merely nominal, but are devout. At the same time, to me, it is also a poignant picture of misleading tradition and skewed reasoning.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Nerdness and Coffee and Combining the Two

The members of the consultancy firm my mom is part of, Brain Trust Inc., was having a roundtable discussion when the topic of coffee was brought up. One of my mom's epicurian friends said that officials of Cafe Puro told him the secret of preparing the best cup of instant coffee.

Step 1. Heat the water to boiling.
Step 2. Put two teaspoons of coffee in a mug.
Step 3. Pour a small amount of water INTO the coffee and not the other way around. Add sugar (if you wish) and mix into a slurry.
Step 4. Add the rest of the hot water.
Step 5. Add milk or creamer.
Step 6. Add other flavorings (cinnamon, choco powder, etc.)

By this time I was already aware of this process. I even wrote a vignette describing the preparation of the "ideal cup". What struck me was the question "Why does it taste better if you put the water into the coffee?"

On the trip back, my mind was mulling over possible theories and here is the most sensible one:

From what I know, instant coffee does not dissolve, per se. Parts of the coffee are "leached", meaning a chemical reaction occurs between the coffee grains and the water. So, instant coffee is actually the product of the leaching process PLUS the inert parts of the coffee that were dissolved by the hot water. If I understand this correctly, these dissolved parts are not desirable. If we put the coffee into the water, the rate of dissolution competes with the leaching process. The full flavor of the coffee is therefore not realized. On the other hand, if there is a lot of coffee and a little water, I imagine that, somehow, dissolution is minimized while leaching is maximized, thus making a better cup of coffee.

So there. x_x Yes. I'm thinking too much about this. Going back to PIC model and shape factors now...

TRIVIA: The volatile parts of your coffee are continuously lost to the atmosphere. Coffee beans lose these flavorful oils at a lower rate simply because coffee beans have a lower surface area than coffee ground of the same mass. Therefore, when buying coffee, it is good to check the date when the coffee beans were packed. Also, it is not advised to have your coffee beans ground if you don't plan on drinking it within the day.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It kinda started like this...

"Baka stress lang yan. Magpahinga ka."

The doctor said this as she read my EKG which, apparently, was normal. As I rolled down my green tennis dress, I couldn't help but think that what she said made sense. I had every right to be stressed out. I had little sleep the night prior as I was cramming for my Komunikasyon term paper and I had a workout that was far more rigorous than what my normally lethargic body was used to. But, I knew that those were not the reasons for the twinge in my chest that sent me staggering to the infirmary. There were two things that were weighing even more heavily than my "Babae lang ba ang nagme-make up?" term paper: the discovery that my burgeoning friendship with Chenn was ruined and a confession that I didn't know how to react to.

As I stood from the examination table, the doctor addressed me a second time. "Huwag ka muna maglalalakad magisa. Bumalik ka kapag sumakit ulit."

I nodded and thanked her and wondered who I would call to accompany me.

Ivan sounded worried over the phone. He and Rene arrived even before I finished returning my record to that surly old lady at the Records Section and paying for my EKG. When I saw them, they looked even more worried than Ivan had sounded and I commented that they looked like expectant fathers. Rene was the one who first spoke to me, asking how I was. I explained what happened and apologized for calling them over from the Math Building. Ivan hung around, not saying anything. When we got out of the Infirmary, Ivan hailed a cab to take us to the Math Building for Math 53. Ivan took the front seat, leaving the back seat to Rene and me.

"Tumakbo si Ivan."

"Huh?" I blinked, confused by the supposedly stunning revelation of Rene's. He was smiling, amused.

"Hindi tumatakbo si Ivan. Tumakbo siya para sayo."

I think I blushed a bit. I can't really tell. It was at that moment that I realized that I really shouldn't be stressing out. Things would fall into place, eventually.

Later that afternoon, after a long lunch with Teds, at around 4PM, right after Ivan's Physics 101.1 class. I was feeling much better. I had made a decision to deal with one of the two things that were bothering me.

I approached Ivan and pulled him aside. "About last night's message," I began as I stared at his hands picking on the peeling white paint of the ledge separating Pav 4 from the rest of AS...

...and the rest is history, I suppose. Seven years after that extended moment is today (or, rather, yesterday, considering the time). I'm not as eloquent as Ivan when it comes expressing himself. I'm not concise and witty like he is. But I like telling this story because the more I tell it, the more I'm assured that I will never forget why I am in this position and why I am not regretting it.

Thanks for seven years, Ivan.


I also updated Cliched and Corny, but not with my own works. Do check it out.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

PdLR's Thought for the Day

"Never forget: There is nothing that human hands are capable of that is below you; and there is nothing that the human mind can conceive that is beyond you."

I put this at the end of my students' midterm exam. =p