Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


you long for people all day
you look for the sound of big and small footsteps
for walls to ring with laughter and chatter
to be called home with the smell of cooking
to be the abode of happy faces and joyous hearts
your wish will not be in vain
for we are coming soon, the little girl and i
to complete the King and you

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Fuss Before Flying

how do i feel after packing 80% of stuff due for manila and naga? i felt bitin. it was over in less than an hour. perhaps because the packer is so organized, the stuff are already in separate plastic bags, just waiting to be unloaded and arranged in neat spaces inside the blue luggage. how i wish saturday would be tomorrow. then i don't have to think about org stories, articles waiting to be read and notes-d, a friday panel presentation. why can't i just go home without the preliminary fuss? it's long foreplay before the one final orgasm, once more.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


mayo man garong luha na bahaw. basta napapahibi ka, hibia sana. and yes, keep on moving. but allow yourself to rest into the pain and the sadness. dai man yan matatapos. pero maabut ang panahon the tears will come less and less, and only on special out-of-the-blue reminiscing. kaya mo yan. take courage in your tears.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yaman's Pain

Yaman is sick and she is crying, here, in front of me. she longs for a cuddle rather than an admonition that she watches too much tv. and how should a sick kid get by? lie in bed and wallow in self-pity like adults too?  sometimes we need to feel back, how we are as kids, to be able to understand why children are as they are when they're sick. in one week's time i'll be there. and i could only have this golden opportunity of being on scholarship, while writing in the philippines, why not? i'd rather be with Yaman any time. i am just enduring this PhD to help justify the pain for my daughter of being sick without her mom around.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Won't Miss It!

it's a choice between attending our Batch parade and my daughter's dance and modelling. sige na daw, better miss the parade than my daughter, after these many months away from her. i love you anak!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Org Stories

it is a term that Dr. Jim Warren finds amusing, 'Org Stories', or the stories i'm making out of the urban poor communities researched in naga city.  less than 2 weeks to the third and last fieldwork, i am still wrapping the first for a site in Lerma, which means i would still be doing a bit of writing for three more sites while in naga.  the attitude is to just 'find a way' rather than cringe, complain. org stories are my way of making sense of data from transcripts, records, and excel files.  it is a way of plumbing the uniqueness of each site and consequently, their shared patterns and themes. right now, the data on LUPA-Lerma is speaking out about the labor dependence of the urban poor in naga, about the intersections of survival and enriching strategies, and how they also exploit government for their own good. with the latter, i do not desire to develop a dichotomy about 'goodness' and 'badness' of being poor but rather, i hope to find out within this middle ground messy material, the realist positions the poor in naga city have in contending with their poverty. to assess realistically is the key. and i start with their stories.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sun Struggle

other than the heat from above searing through the skin in broad daylight, there wafting from below is the steaming, as if hell and purgatory lie under the australian desert...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


the consequence of not having much when i was young, of having to explain why i want when i want anything perhaps led me to this attitude of just making do with what's ever.  whatever. whatever means whatever you can give, can spare, can choose to understand, can choose to not, and call 'disgusting'. whatever means moving within the limits imposed, within demands still found reasonable, and explanations still acceptable. but i have to say that, the whatever that applies to me should also the same for you.  because in the whatever is the power play. of you seeking the upper hand in the conditions set; when in the ordinary instances of our shared lives, i see that i am to follow for harmony's sake.  so what if i turn the whatever and ask, how come? it is the same for you and me. in submission lies the real power, and i see in the question, how disconcerting to you it must be.

Monday, January 23, 2012


i'm drinking the wrong apple cider vinegar all along. ok, buying Bragg's tomorrow, less than 2 weeks before leaving for the philippines:(

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sharing Lightworks

i've kept my blog, LIGHTWORKS, private since 16 December 2009 and so it will be. but some blogs are worth sharing with the world. so without compromising privacy, i will begin posting snippets of this blog in FB on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the mood and occasion. reading my old blogs, i am transported back to truths that define my world, to lessons and relationships i hold dear and they have not changed. these are the ones worth sharing.

Friday, January 20, 2012


now that my weight has been resolved, how i wish i could fnd ways to whiten and beautify these tiny little pinky toes...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ang Agum Ko

i have nothing to complain about this man in front of me. complaint is not even the proper word because although the relationship is not perfect (just almost), there is not even an avenue for fault.  grabe man ang swerte ko saimo agum ko.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anatomy of a Headache

i am a structured person. predictably awake before 5am this summer, in the showers by 630am (if exercise day) and out of the house by 8am. so without the hustle and bustle which defines my almost 3-hour preparation before leaving the house, roxanne knew something was 'wrong' with vitti. indeed, if not for sleep deprivation, it must be the breathing causing this quiet but persistent headache. quiet because it's not the throbbing pain that one usually complains of in migraines. it's not in the left or right part, or even back of the head. it's just there.  persistent because not even prolonged sleep after the alarm rang around 445am, a hot water drink, a healthy breakfast of tuna cos salad, hot robert timms coffee with goat's milk, or even camomile tea could wear it off. no amount of hair pulling, rubbing with chinese pojo and upward finger massages to the forehead could subdue it. until i stopped from 'thinking' around 230pm and just went back to bed.  sleep did not come but it was such a relief just closing my eyes and succumbing to this occasional peace in just not doing anything.  so there it is, to calm yourself by not thinking, after all the physical forms of relief have been exhausted.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


how i wish i could slam this computer with such force, chikka messenger will explode!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Restless PhD

how would i be able to get to what i want to, with these thoughts swirling and the phd, in its ever changing form. now that the structure is there, the challenge is to pin it down and keep it from floating or flying further out of my reach.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Non-Rice Life

one year ago, since friday, i have led a non-rice life which means, bidding goodbye to a staple i've known all my life and thought could not live without. it's not an 'all-in-your-mind' thing, to forego rice for a filipino like me.  meals could not be complete without this white starchy manna that could be eaten with any meal or even by itself. as a kid, i would eat rice with condensed milk, or evap with sugar, black coffee and even, with coke.  some people i know, used to eat rice with water pangtawid lang. it's how they defined their once poor, meagre existence.  i or my family didn't get to that point.

to forego rice takes more than just mind, or will. it has to do with being creative as well. that's why perhaps, i learned to cook. because i have to create dishes so interesting i would not miss rice at all. or that, i would have to think of combinations of meat, rice and veggies which i would not get tired of. it also means re-learning what carbohydrates mean, and the difference between good (whole) and bad (processed) carbs.  i learned to defy doctor's orders that i stay away even from bread and get my carbs from veggies and fruits. carbs from veggies? who are we kidding?  thus, i discovered wholemeal, whole grain and whole wheat products such as breads and cereals. took to reading labels and buying those with at least 50% whole-ness.

losing rice means embracing a whole new range of food that i used to ignore, take for granted. the happiest among my  friends is Janty, the Indonesian, because she disapproved of my past eating habits of just cooking tinola over and over again, or eating canned tuna with rice, or just noodles and soups from packs.  now, it takes an effort to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner.  except for lunch which i prepare in two batches every morning and eat alternately from tuesday to sunday, i prepare fresh breakfasts and dinners every day.  the rule is to always combine good carbs, proteins and fats. so every meal consists of veggies, fish or meat (organic if possible), and fruits and nuts.  every day, i make sure to have a bowl of veggies whether in the morning (tuna cos salad) or evening (mesculin/ rocket). to keep green leafy veggies fresh for soups, i just pour boiling water over them about 2min before serving with the dish like chicken tinola or lamb nilaga. i don't cook the leaves with the main dish except for munggo mixed  with lots of basil to keep it aromatic.

losing rice also means exercising everyday, mixing up sun salutations with joel harper's quick workouts. i had to keep on moving. walking has been part of the regimen, 15 minutes to school and another 15min back. before, i take shortcuts to cut walking time. but now, i just follow the circuitous bend from windelya going through the village to the arc to keep my heart pumping.  it also means sleeping well and keeping early sleeping habits (now just before 10pm) to keep the thyroid normal.

now, i don't miss rice at all except sushi and my mom's version of arroz ala valenciana.  but i could forego them if it means keeping the thyroid healthy and the weight within normal range.  for someone who has struggled with yoyo dieting and weight gain for 24 years, it is just about time to let rice go.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Unbearable Heat

the heat is enough to make me feel that for a thousand times, i've made love to the Hubby, vacuumed my room, ran the endless mile from windelya to arc, did sun salutations, push-ups with legs raised. the heat is just so unbearable i could understand roxanne sleeping naked. i've no energy left but sleep.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Talking Yaman

i often hear parents say the time their kids were babies were their best days. because babies do  not fuss about. do not blabber. do not make a mess. why do i feel quite differently? i like Yaman better now, each day as she grows older. as her likes change ('squinkies' now and 'dynamite' over you tube). her reasoning develops ('apelyido ko pareho kay mommy kasi pareho kaming girl'). her questions funnier (bakit miguel? di san miguel na iyon?!). i like talking to my daughter.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Deal with the Australian Sun

...wake up as early (445am or 5am)
...leave the house before 8am
...use an umbrella after 8am
...use sunscreen and sunnies (shades) with UV protection
...drink lots and lots of water
...avoid the beach!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mens has Come

since menstruating at age 11, i have never missed a period for 29 years, until 10 days ago. it usually comes on the dot or a day or two late. 10 days is a long time to wait. too late that my body has gone weary of exercising.  too late that i'm already the second Virgin Mary, on disguise, for having an immaculate conception.  too late that i wonder whether 40 is now the new age of menopause.  so what a relief it is that the blood has finally gushed out. what a release. may this delay not happen again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In My Own Time

when i go, what will this room say about me?

i am a mother and wife...
with a few close friends...
a reader...
with lots of lotions...
dreaming of the UN...

we will either be defined by things or the memories people live us by. and everyday we live, we choose, to create us by our things or by our relationships.

Monday, January 9, 2012


before 755pm today, Vincent, my bestfriend Gie's husband died. he failed to make it to the hospital. his motorcycle was hit by a bus along the roads in pili. perhaps he was going home. how was he then? death happens, and it would be futile to search for reasons. asking why does not matter. like life, death happens. and it happens to the strongest and the weakest. to the beloved and the shameless. to the merciful and the crazy.  and as it happens, there is no such thing as fair indeed. it can catch you at any point in your life, just when you are the happiest. just about a week ago, i saw their family pic through Ianne's (my goddaughter) FB page. they were all complete, and so happy. all in red. and now this happens.  i don't have words of comfort at this time, Gie. but i grant you the right to stop and think and stare and ask God the questions in your heart. be still but just don't stop. don't stop.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ghost in the Screen

when Hubby comes near, the screen turns stabilo green. when he goes farther, it returns to normal. but no, it's changing its mind. now normal, then later green. may sanib nga.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vitti's Vietnamese Seafood Roll

What I truly consider my 'launching dish'.  I first made this December 2009 here in Perth, one Xmas party when good old friends Elaine and Stephii were still here. It's a 'launching dish' because it's the first dish I prepared for public consumption. he he. 

 Slice seafood tofu combination (available from the Asian shops - about 12 kinds in one pack) in thin long slices. Next slice about 15 pcs shitake mushrooms (pre-soaked in hot water for about 2 hours).  Beat two eggs with a little salt, set aside. Wash fresh coriander leaves (2 cups).

Fry eggs first ala scrambled style in olive oil. While frying,stir in shreds then set aside. Fry next the seafood tofu. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and vegetarian seasoning. Cover for about 5 min. Then add eggs and shitake mushrooms and leave for another 3min. Add coriander last and cook for another 2min.

Prepare vermicelli noodles by soaking first in hot water. After 1min, dunk in cold water to stay firm and loose, then strain.

Mix well vermicelli and fried tofu, egg, mushroom and coriander. For the Vietnamese rice paper, just pat with enough water until soft. Wrap ingredients and roll into fat yummy shapes. Good with chilli sauce. Bon appetit!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Preggy by April?

in having a deep cervix, it is hard for me to conceive. technically, a surge of sperm cells had to get pass my cervix, the uterus and finally, the ovaries and succeed in fertilizing one roaming egg.  so it's a hit or miss thing depending on whether i'm at my fertile period and how the sperm could negotiate the depth of this cervix.  the delay of my menstruation now for about a week does not mean i'm pregnant because technically, there's no sex and it is impossible to be impregnated by cyber means.  must be my aging organs. but what this means is, infertility would be harder to predict. it would be a hit or miss thing. i just might get pregnant after april this year.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


this is the year by which one departs from the mother nest to build one's own nest.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iloilo and Zamboanga

his Zamboanga is my Iloilo. in Zamboanga, fate lured him away from his vocation. while in Iloilo, i nearly lost life and limb from a flash flood.  his life was totally disfigured because of zamboanga while mine led to unique events exposing the frailty of supposed mentors.  in zamboanga, illness envelops him and the same for me in iloilo. i pray we never get to step to these places ever in the future.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Aging Heart

i do not know where her anger comes from. when alzheimer's disease attacks the heart, the brain and the soul follows.  better be apart from her and be a secondary daughter.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Silverfish Spaghetti (aka Balao Spaghetti)

Who wants to try my silverfish spaghetti? Silverfish is better known as 'fish bait' here in WA. But an edible pack can be bought from  the Asian shops here.  Before, I used to eat it with rice (lots!) so now in my non-rice life, I had to find a way to still enjoy it.  That's how the thought of making a spaghetti dish came about.  It's quite simple. All you need is to saute silverfish (about a tablespoon) in olive oil with garlic and cherry or roma tomatoes. Season with pepper only (packed silverfish is already salted). Add a cupful of fresh basil leaves, green olives (I use the 'Sicilian' brand), and 3 tbsp of preserving liquid from the green olives.  Add the cooked spaghetti, toss well and eat with a dash of parmesan (optional).  Enjoy! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pork Crackling Hubad!

The pork has been 'overscored' (the skin was sliced too deeply it opened up with the heat he he).  But the taste is superb! It only takes two tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of salt to create a joyously crispy crackling.
First, score the pork. The skin was cut too deep see? Next time, just a thin slice over the skin would do. Thaw the meat at least by the afternoon before the day of roasting by bringing it down from the freezer to the ref rack.  Thaw out of the ref at least 3 hours before cooking.

Just rub the olive oil with salt over the skin. Leave for about 30 minutes. 

Line baking pan with butter.  Preheat oven to 220C (200C if fan forced).  Once ready, roast first for 20 min.  Reduce temp to 180C (160C fan forced) and cook for 45 min every 1kg of pork. This 1.72kg portion was cooked for 100min. Decided to cook further since it's fan forced.  Put sliced veggies at least 15min before cooking time ends.

I take awful food pics but this will do for now. Serve with veggies and the pork juices. Ay sarap talaga and the skin is so so crispy tumutunog sa lutong! Enjoy! Bon appetit!