#12 of 1001 Awesome Things: Last Episode of NatGeo’s Cosmos

August 30, 2017
“Put the table inside or else I will no longer eat here”, I told my family last night after they replaced our round wooden dining table with a plastic rectangular foldable table. I was serious and angry. I loved that table. It was there since I was a kid. We do not pass around food because of the lazy susan. After a while, I realized that I was too dramatic–a Telenovela level drama.
Today is full of drama too and I realized that drama is addictive. It sucks us dry but we still want more. We create our own drama if we can’t get enough. (Read Minimalism and Drama Queens)
I have seen plenty of drama while working with Small and Medium Enterprises in the countryside. These enterprises often form a cluster and register as an association. They start out as friends. When they form an organization after they realized they can work perfectly together and work together perfectly, they usually develop these annoying petty misunderstandings, and they eventually break away from their once loved group/s.
My first ever clients were 3 middle aged ladies who were into manufacturing handicrafts using sustainable materials. They started out as co-trainees at a livelihood training we organized. They were the best performers in a class of 40. They were three persistent, hardworking mothers too.They formed a group and started out their own enterprise. Unfortunately, their expertise and strengths were not capitalized. Instead, they used it against each other. They became competitors inside their small business. After 2 years, they disbanded.
Today, I also listened to other SME conflicts during a trade event. I had to listen because it’s part of my work. These conflicts may affect their businesses in the long run. Their conflicts were ranging from petty to “Friendship over” cases.
I also had a conversation with my officemates and I realized our office, like any other offices, is full of drama. We talked about drama in a very dramatic way.
When I got home, I had to listen to the drama of my loved ones and about the drama of people around them.
Like me, everybody is stuck with their rectangular dinner table dramas.
I remember the last episode of the documentary Cosmos where Neil Degrassi Tyson talked about the insignificance of Earth in the Universe. How the earth was actually a lonely and sad planet. How humans are actually insignificant in the vastness of the cosmos. And then I reflected on how my opinion about a rectangular dinner table or even my ego affects the infinite clouds of stars, dust, suns, and planets. We should learn how to fly using our imaginations for us to realize that above these clouds, we are nothing.
To close today’s awesome thing, let me quote Carl Sagan :
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
 
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
 
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
 
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
 
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

#11 of 1001 Awesome Things: Sneezing

This was my Nth allergy day and this was the longest one I have had. The weather was unpredictable so the shifting temperature made me and most of the people I know sick.
 
The only thing I love about the allergy season is the sneezing part, especially those three in a row “achiiing.” (Not achoos)
 
I love the pleasure of the moment, even though headaches will usually come after. 
 
Sneezes take us to the NOW, that millisecond present moment where everything around us stops
 
Sneezes are orgasmic. Really, they are. If sexual orgasm is 10 out of 10, sneezes are 6/10.
 
I tried to research why sneezes are pleasurable. According to Dr. Holly Boyer, an ENT specialist at the University of Minnesota, “the muscle tension that builds up in your chest causes pressure, and when you sneeze and the muscles relax, it releases pressure. Anytime you release pressure, it feels good.” (Source:http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/04/17/good-question-why-does-sneezing-feel-so-good/)
 
There was also an evidence that the body releases endorphins when we sneeze. These are the same hormones released when we exercise. 
 
Happy Allergy Season! 
 
P.S. My alternate awesome thing today was Babysitting! 
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#8 of 1001 Awesome Things: Turo Turo and Tapsilogan

August 26, 2017
Travelling in the Philippines is cheap according to the budget travelers I met and hosted. When they ask me where they can eat a cheap meal, I always tell them to eat at small stores called Turo turo or Tapsilogan. And these stores are everywhere! 

 

Turo Turo, also known as Carinderias are practically everywhere. Turo means to point. You have to point out which viand you want to eat. You can find these stores in every street, every school and every parking area of jeepneys and tricycles. When I had the chance to talk to repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Syria a couple of years ago, most of them would tell me that they want a carinderia business

 

Tapsilogan is a coined term for Tapa (Cured Beef), Sinangag (Fried Rice) and Itlog (Egg). These stores are usually open at nighttime until early morning. A meal usually costs a dollar. 

 

These stores are not only popular to travelers but also for locals. As for me, a person who tries to become healthy in this Fast Food country, turo turo are my go-to stores to eat healthy meals. Not to mention the support you give to local entrepreneurs and a dirty finger to the Fat Bee and the Scary Clown. 

 

Earlier, my friends and I went to this turo turo near a University hospital. The place was tiny with only six tables and around 2 dozens of monoblock chairs. There were 4 vegetable viands and around 8 meat viands, both in stainless steel containers. I ordered the sauteed bitter gourd and this very tasty taro cooked in coconut milk. The 2 vegetable viands cost a dollar. It was cheap. It was healthy. It tasted like mom’s cooking. 

 

During dinner, we went to our favorite tapsilog place. I ordered TunaSilog and a bowl of tofu. They served it with soy sauce, a very sour green lime and my all time favorite chili paste. This costs around 2 dollars. 

 

I am not sure why we still eat at expensive unhealthy fast food chains when we have these local stores. If you happen to travel to the Philippines, make sure to try out turo turos, carinderias and tapsilogan.

#4 of 1001 Awesome Things: Talking about Social Issues during Family Dinners

August 22, 2017

Family dinners are becoming rare as we age, or at least in my case. I moved out last year to be independent. But if my schedule permits, I visit for dinners and sometimes stay overnight. 

 

Our family dinner looks like this:

 

Mama will cook while Mama Cing, my grandma prepares the plates and the utensils. After preparing, mama will call us. Papa will wake up Tatang, my grandpa who usually sleeps around 6 pm. He must wake up and eat because of his medications. While on the table, Tatang will stare at me as if I am a stranger, no thanks to his memory loss. Mama Cing will ask Tatang if he can still recognize me. For Tatang, I am always a different person. Sometimes I am a family friend or sometimes I am his 18-year old great grandson. Grandma will shout at Grandpa if he refuses to eat. Everybody shouts because of grandpa’s aging ear. Sometimes I hate the routine. Most of the time I love it–the peaceful chaos of family dinners. 

 

Tonight’s dinner was different. We were all affected by the local news about the injustices in the country including the murder of the 11th grader by the local police. The country’s situation was getting worse. Mama, who was usually quiet when Papa and I talk about these issues finally gave her opinion. “People can now easily take away life as if they were pigs in a slaughterhouse”, she said. Grandma would tell us that he used to like the President, but because of the recent events, she started to loathe the guy. Meanwhile, my disoriented grandpa thinks the President was a dwarf. 

 

We ranted about the President’s leadership. We ranted why he was still supported by the people. We ranted why majority of the poor are the victims of drug related killings.

 

Most of our extended family members are also supporters. But I am glad that I am in the same boat with my parents and grandparents. We all believe that life is sacred, and that is something I am thankful for today. 

#3 of 1001 Awesome Things: The Realization that I Have More than One Home

August 21, 2017

I have lived in Angeles City all my life. But in the last 3 years, I have been traveling to and fro Quezon City a lot of times because of different reasons. The frequency of visits led me to familiarize the place and in the long run, to love the place. Quezon City is homey to me unlike other cities in the Metro.

 

Earlier today, we watched an Indie film entitled “Patay na Si Hesus” or “Hesus is dead”. The short before the feature was filmed in Quezon City and I suddenly had a nostalgia. I missed Quezon City the way I am missing Angeles City when I am out of town. 

 

We all have second homes. It could be at a friend’s house in the same town or a neighboring country where we felt like we were one of the locals. It’s nice to think that we have such places in this lifetime, a place we can actually call home aside from our own. 

Featured Photo: A street at UP Diliman, Quezon City, February 26, 2016. 

#2 of 1001 Awesome Things: Organic Fairs

August 20, 2017

I have been organizing Trade Fairs for seven years now as part of my job to promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in our Province. For the first time, I was able to organize a small organic fair at a local mall. Majority of our participants were organic farmers. The products vary from fresh produce to manufactured organic products. 

 

I had this moment of joy when the shoppers finally entered the mall after our early Sunday ingress. I am happy for the SMEs and happy for the welfare of the consumers. Although it is my job to promote all kinds of SMEs, I am a bit biased with organic and eco-friendly products. We must all go back to basics, avoid eating processed foods and of course to buy home grown products. 

 

Hoping to organize these kinds of fairs in the future. If you happened to find a similar event, please do buy the products of our local farmers and our micro entrepreneurs!

#1 of 1001 Awesome Things: The 1001 Awesome Things Project

August 19,2017

I love self-help books. When I was a pre-teenager, I go to this book store at the center of our city and buy these kinds of books. I even remembered having a book entitled “Teenage Book of Manners” which I found helpful during our Prom Night. Fast-forward 15 years and I am still reading self-help books. I read them simultaneously. Sometimes I skim them and I can finish them in one sitting. Sometimes I sit down, take down notes, and read each sentence carefully

 

I am currently reading two books now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and Neil Pasricha’s The Happiness Equation. Big Magic talks about the mystical aspects of creativity and how ideas are alive. The Happiness Equation talks about how happiness is a choice. While reading The Happiness Equation, I realized that the author was actually a guy I watched on the Ted Talk site 3 years ago. He also wrote a blog called The 1000 Awesome Things where he documented everyday awesome things we take for granted like finding money you didn’t know you lost or the smell of frying onions. He wrote the blog during his dark night of the soul and as expected, the blog helped him a lot in his recovery. In his book, Neil advised counting our blessings by writing/journalling five things we are grateful for every day

 

So as a response to this, I planned on adapting the 1000 Awesome Things project and I will be using this site as a channel. Of course, I will not be using the 1000 Awesome Things tag because I am not sure if this was under Neil’s Intellectual Property rights.  Instead, I will be using 1001 Awesome Things. How original right? Pardon me for my laziness to think of another title. But of course, I will still maintain the minimalist theme of the blog.

 

That’s it for Day 1.

 

PS. I love Ted Talks too. I quit social media because of a Ted Talk. Read here.

Featured Photo: A Mime at Jakarta, Indonesia, October 2015.