OF VISIONS, DREAMS & REALITY: Manila ➙ Hong Kong ➙ Shanghai Aboard Cathay Pacific & DragonAir

It was the Anglo-Irish essayist Jonathan Swift who once said...

 "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others."

Four years ago, I had a simple feeling that maybe my son Tutapel inherited his dad's mathematical ability.

And as Regina Spektor's famous song goes- that feeling turned into hope...

"Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word.
And then  the word grew louder and louder
"Til it was a battle cry..."

Since then, it has become an all-out war against a series of hindrances in the form of self-doubt, grueling training, difficult tests and surmounting bills. But it was a war that we were bent on winning!

I then resorted to the only viable solution available to Christians and that is to offer everything we had to our Lord and plead with Him to direct us to the path we ought to take. It might be a passive response to some, but devoted followers would agree that the fulfillment of any vision begins with surrendering your all to God.  

It was far from easy, believe me. I soon found out that I had to put my faith into action in order for that burning vision to become a reality.

Finally, last summer, the Lord took delight in our faith offering and granted us the desires of our hearts. My 7 year old son was one of around 50- Grade 1 and Grade 2 students all over the Philippines who qualified to the Philippine Team to be sent to International Math Competitions abroad.

And last July 26, along with other elementary students from various schools in the country, he flew to represent the PHILIPPINES  in the 2016 China Primary Math Olympiad also known as the Enjoying Math Summer Camp to be held in the beautiful city of Hangzhou located in the province of Zhejiang, People's Republic of China.

And here is where my CHINA NARRATIVE (TRAVEL BLOG) officially begins.

   Philippine Representative to the 2016 China Primary Math Olympiad

Timeless Musings: Ambeth Ocampo's Books on Rizal & F. Sionil Jose's Take on the Duterte Phenomenon

I didn't exactly know what happened. 

We went to good ole National Bookstore with the original intent of buying books for my son. There was nothing strange about that. What was rather unusual was that I purchased more books for myself than for him!  

I didn't regret buying Mr. Ocampo's books at all for the author is able to make Philippine history interesting and brimming with so much life. He is indeed a master storyteller, so effective in fact that I continually asked myself whether I was reading history or reading the synopsis of a Korean Drama

Mr. Ocampo is successful in separating Rizal the Man from the Myth, thanks to the author's painstaking research from the hero's first-hand works and letters. While reading my Ocampo Book Haul, I can't help but see Rizal as an ordinary man struggling with similar dreams and fears.

In the book Meaning & History, Mr. Ocampo explains this concept further.

"So by dissecting Rizal the myth, and by juxtaposing this against the real historical Rizal, one attains a glimpse of this "imagined" national identity.

We create Rizal in our own image and likeness using both memory and amnesia to suit our ruffled conscience. How we will see Rizal in the coming century will be a clear expression of how we see ourselves.

Rizal both in life and in death showed the Filipino people a capacity for greatness. Only when we share this view can we fully understand Rizal and consequently ourselves." ( Chapter: Memory and Amnesia, page 19)

Ambeth Ocampo
April Book Haul:
Rizal's Teeth, Bonifacio's Bones by Ambeth Ocampo
Ambeth Ocampo's Meaning & History
Death by Garrote by Ambeth Ocampo

Mr. Ocampo further noted, "...that what made Rizal the hero he is today was his capacity to rise above his physical limitations and to attempt great deeds."

Mr. Ocampo's highly-esteemed colleague, National Artist F. Sionil Jose echoed a similar view during one of his talks which I was fortunate enough to attend . He said, "Rizal matched wits with any white man" which garnered the world's respect. Proof is that many nations have adopted Rizal as their hero as seen in many landmarks and statues from around Asia, Germany and in Spain, Mr. Jose added. 

A Candid Shot of National Artist F. Sionil Jose 
During One of His Talks

Many regard Mr. Jose as a sage of our times for he's able to make sense of history, politics and current events like no other. No wonder a number of our kababayan want to know what the National Artist's thoughts are on the 2016 Presidential Elections.

On April 27, Mr. Jose posted his views on his Facebook Page with emphasis on the supposed "Duterte Phenomenon."

"Why Duterte" by F. Sionil Jose

This was not the first time that the National Artist shared razor-sharp views on how the government should be run as seen in his now famous Open Letter to NoyNoy published in the Philippine Star on May 23, 2010.

He ended the letter with a passionate plea for the CHANGE he has longed to see but couldn't for sooo many years.

"I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it..."

F. Sionil Jose's Official Facebook Page

Ambeth R. Ocampo's Facebook Page

Mother's Day Musings

Truth be told, I don't want to miss my mom because it only reminds me that she's no longer of this world. 

Every time I look at my son, my mind always brings me back to those moments when my mom lovingly gazed at me without saying a word. I remember a particular instance wherein I was in the study room hitting the books for an exam, when mommy just stayed in the doorway staring at me with a mesmerized smile on her face.

Mommy and I sometime in 1973

That moment was buried in the deepest recesses of my soul, unuttered until now. I couldn't decipher what that look was all about not until I had my own son. 

Just to see his face makes my heart flutter like no other. He doesn't even have to do anything nor say anything to make me happy. I simply am because he is there!

My son and I sometime in 2008

However, as much as I want to be the best mom possible, I fall short of my calling most of the time. There were instances, I think, wherein a hug was more comforting than a reprimand or a word of encouragement way better than a critique. In the end, I still chose to admonish maybe because I was too tired or too stubborn to understand my son's predicament.

Now in my early forties, about the same age of my mom in the picture above, I realize that my mom was also far from perfect. But what makes her the perfect mom is the way she loved me; pretty much similar to the mother in this immensely inspiring video.

"How one generation loves, the next generation learns."

Much of what I know about love and sacrifice, I've learned from just watching my mom apply it in our daily lives which according to her was a product of "grasya" or what we refer to in the bible as God's Amazing Grace. 

I once asked my 7 year old son why we love the way we do. His reply which he learned from attending Sunday School for the past four years, left me dumbfounded --but in a good way. 

"Mama," he responded, "we love because He first loved us." (I John 4:19)

Cooking 101: Our Version of Yellow Cab's Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta

Despite craving for Yellow Cab's extremely popular Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta, my "motley crew" and I didn't dash to the nearest YC branch. We opted to whip up our own version instead as a wonderful way to bond while saving our precious pesos in the process. 

What We Used:

  • 250 grams of angel's hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • olive oil
  • 150 grams of diced chicken meat
  • ground cashews and roasted peanuts
  • 2 packs of Clara Ole Kung Pao Pasta Sauce
  • Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce to taste
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • brown sugar to taste
  • chili pepper flakes to taste
  • scallions or spring onions
  • lemon juice

What I Did with the Pasta:
I love cooking pasta so without going through the preliminaries, I basically assigned and authorized myself to do the job!
  1. After putting in just enough water in the pan, I added in a handful of salt to make the pasta distinctly more flavorful. I got that tip from constantly watching Giada De Laurentiis's show on the Asian Food Channel.
  2. A minute after the water boiled, I added in the pasta and allowed it to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Since Angel's hair cooks much faster than any other pasta types, it just took a little under 4 minutes before it turned out al dente. A minute before this happened however, I was already scooping the pasta out of the pan to preserve the chewy texture that I dearly love.
  4. Coating the Angel's Hair with a some olive oil is actually my favorite step because by this time, I can freely devour my pasta sans the sauce!

What We Did with the Sauce:
  1. After mixing in some salt, pepper and lemon juice to our chicken, we let it marinate inside the fridge for about two hours. 
  2. Afterwards, we sauteed the meat in oil, added in some nuts and cooked both for a few more minutes.
  3. We then poured in the Clara Ole Kung Pao Pasta Sauce and cooked until everything's been heated through.
  4. A tablespoon or two of oyster sauce tossed in with some lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper flakes did make a difference in the over-all texture of the sauce.
  5. As a fitting finale, we added in the pasta as well as some scallions for freshness. 
Need I say more? 

Our Version of Yellow Cab's Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta!

Yay! Angel's Hair Pasta was sooo easy to make; it even turned out al dente in no time!

Hmmmm...I can most definitely devour all the garnishings in one sitting!  


I used Fujifilm X-A2 for this particular blog post.

Photo of Fujifilm X-A2