#15 of 1001 Awesome Things: Indigenous Coffee Served in Coconut Shells

September 3, 2017
 
I love coffee. If you have read my previous awesome things, majority were related to coffee like empty coffee shops, free Starbucks drink and convenience stores serving cheap coffee
 
Today, we went to UP Diliman to attend Lakbayan 2017. This is an event where the indigenous people around the country gather to fight for their rights. (working on a separate post about it)
 
During dinner, one of the organizers of the Ifugao group invited us to come to their tent to talk about important issues over a cup of Cordillera coffee
 
I was expecting to see a coffee maker, or a brewer or a presser. I was surprised that the coffee was brewed in stainless cooking vats. We took some white plastic cups in the corner but the organizer insisted that we use the coconut shells. 
 
It was one of the best tasting coffee I have tasted. Maybe it was just psychological because of the authentic experience. Maybe it was because I was all revved up because it was brewed by the heroes of the north. I do not know. But daaaaaamn it was goooood! 

#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.

#7 of 1001 Awesome Things: When a Friend Survives a Tragic Accident

August 25, 2017

“I was asleep for five days. People around me thought I was in a coma”, he said. John, a former trainee at our office, shared what happened to him after his motorcycle accident last January

 

“Wow. Five days! How does it feel?”, I asked. I remembered how it felt when I had an endoscopy. I was asleep for 3 hours but it only felt like I just closed my eyes for a minute. 

 

“It seemed like I only slept for a day”, he said. 

 

“Cool. Have you seen a dead loved one?”

 

“No I didn’t. But I saw my ex-girlfriend.” I laughed. It seemed like he already killed her in his mind. John was a joker without him realizing it. He was too innocent to notice or he was charmingly tactless. 

 

“Then what happened?”

 

“I am not sure if I was awake or if I was asleep. When I woke up, the pretty ICU nurse told me that I was courting her and according to her, I even asked for her number.” 

 

We were all laughing. He added that the nurse was still texting him and he thinks that she likes him. 

 

It’s nice to hear from him again despite his dislocated joints and a foot long scar on his stomach area. It was awesome that he survived death and that was undoubtedly something to be thankful for. 

 

Before he left the office, he said to us, “I told my doctor that God gave me a second life because I still have a mission. My mission in life now is to finally look for a wife. With that, I promised God that I will go to church every Sunday.”

 

Oh my God. He’s really back.

Featured Photo: DJ’s Motorcycle, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, October 2014. 

#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.