Me will eat a cookie

5 05 2014

WORDS OF wisdom are often quite lofty that when they do take form, it is only proper to pause and acknowledge that the words have taken tangible form.

Or sometimes, you are just simply reminded of one such passage.  Trust a well–meaning friend to share with you a snippet of wisdom on your birthday that somehow sticks with you.  The following has run in an unceasing circle in my head for about a year now.  And while it is NOT entirely true, it never fails to put a smile of my face as I hoard my now–favorite Sugar Cookie, concocted by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine, our cafeteria concessionaire.

Words of Wisdom from the Cookie Monster.  In my case, I just live by the part that says, "ME WILL EAT A COOKIE"!

Words of Wisdom from the Cookie Monster. In my case, I just live by the part that says, “ME WILL EAT A COOKIE”!

I like my cookies really chewy.  And this sugar cookie hits the spot every single time.  When I feel like extremely decadent, I would break it into chunks over my other new favorite, a gelato which I shall talk about on a separate post.

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

 

Part of the appeal of this sugar cookie is the actual sugar crystals on top.  They're like...  a dusting of diamond brilliants.

Part of the appeal of this sugar cookie is the actual sugar crystals on top. They’re like… a dusting of diamond brilliants.

Last Friday, my lusting after cookies went into overdrive when I found a cookie variety bag of Mrs. Fields® cookies!  It came from my good friend, the Kelly Linden.

Between the two of us, he is the real Cookie Monster.

Yet another pleasant sight at my desk.  A cookie variety bag of Mrs. Fields® cookies!

Yet another pleasant sight at my desk. A cookie variety bag of Mrs. Fields® cookies!

 

One of the varieties is ...  a sugar cookie!  Mrs. Fields®'s is just more colorful.

One of the varieties is … a sugar cookie! Mrs. Fields®’s is just more colorful.

 

I have to say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I have to say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Breaking bread

5 05 2014

WATCHING BUTTER melt on hot toast – a slice from a hearty homemade loaf – is a sight so comforting that I couldn’t help but stretch my legs and rest my feet on the ottoman, clasp my hands behind my head, and think that all is well in the world.

A most scrumptious treat!  Butter melting on a hot slice of my good friend Chase Mecham's specialty bread!

A most scrumptious treat! Butter melting on a hot slice of my good friend Chase Mecham’s specialty bread!

And all is indeed well, especially when one realizes that a friend made this loaf.  In this day and age of information that travels at lighting fast speeds and emotions packed into 140 characters (or less), posted much sooner than when the emotions are actually felt right down to the bottom of your soul, the ultimate luxury is time.  And making bread takes time.

Ok, he did make use of the dough hook to help with all the mixing and probably, some of the work needed to knead.  But still, not too many people will opt to make bread.

This whole grain bread arrived at my desk tightly enrobed in cling wrap.  What made it all the more special was a mix of seeds and spices that permeated the wrap and escaped in coy luscious whiffs.  Once the loaf was sliced, the whiffs I caught translated to a subtle flavor on the dense crumbs.  I first tasted the grain, then the nuts while my teeth negotiated popping the sesame seeds.

My good friend Chase Mecham, the generous Baker King himself, would usually make his own mix of nuts, seeds and spices that he would throw into his dough mix – the image in my head involves a lot of wrist action like in flouring a counter top on to which the dough would be mercilessly slammed – but this time, he used a mix he found in random at Trader Joe’s.  It’s called DUKKAH: A Nut & Spice Blend.  It was a whiff of inspiration.

After having savored a slice bare, it was time to butter it up – literally.  And it stood well, no matter how I heated it up – on the conventional toaster, or zapped for 15 seconds on the microwave – ready to receive dabs of butter all too willing to melt and slide down.

DUKKAH was meant to be used as a dry “rub” after a hunk of crusty bread has first been dipped in olive oil.  By mixing it into the bread, it has to be said – the Baker King has cut to the chase.

I started with these couple of slices and popped a DVD in!

I started with these couple of slices and popped a DVD in!

 

This loaf passed the perfect doneness test!  (Do you know what that is?)  Notice the bits and pieces of the nuts, seeds and spices that beautifully dot the bread, in and out!

This loaf passed the perfect doneness test! (Do you know what that is?) Notice the bits and pieces of the nuts, seeds and spices that beautifully dot the bread, in and out!

 

An All-American healthy bread on top of my Italia bag.  This was such a welcome sight!

An All-American healthy bread on top of my Italia bag. This was such a welcome sight!

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





A Blondie in Boise

14 04 2014

THE TITLE of this post is rife with suggestive thoughts. Not the impure kind, but rather the purest that only equal parts home baking goodness and a treasured family recipe can conjure up.

Beautiful Blondies, a family specialty, from my colleague and friend Chase and his Wife.

Beautiful Blondies, a family specialty, from my colleague and friend Chase and his Wife.

The first half is taken care of by my colleague Chase’s wife’s pastry skills. The second, by – if I remember it correctly – Chase’s grandmother’s recipe.

The result is a confection that is equal parts pretty to look at and yummy beyond crust–deep. The sweetness is not coy – shy and innocent are not the words. It is actually the kind that is unapologetically bold, defiant of the expectations better left for pretentious saccharin sweetness.

I was overwhelmed with the first bite, enough to articulate the contents of the thought bubble that formed above my head, “This is a blondie so good it is life–changing!”

But as I munched on the crunchy exterior that yields to a gooey, chewy, most interior, punctuated by the generous sprinkling of quality chocolate chips, I am reminded that food so good doesn’t really change one’s life – but affirms it.

This blondie is redolent of flavors so reminiscent of the butterscotch I would often have back home in the Philippines. And as I enjoy these bars at a totally new zip post code, I couldn’t help but realize that home is not only a place – but a reflection of the things we value most in life.

A reflection of the flavors that bring us back.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG c”,)™©’s MunchTime™©. All rights reserved.





Kuya Mike and pasta

29 06 2013

THE DIFFERENCE in time zones is the loophole of lapses in thoughtfulness.  Clearly, I mean this about friends who have oceans between them – blame it on the time zone, so to speak.  If this post had made it to the third week of May or at most the one after that, then I would claim my opening sentence to be nothing but absolute truth.  Or, at least my scapegoat.  But this post obviously is more of the really belated kind.  No loophole could justify the delay.

Well, I guess there’s one – I actually know when his birthday is, independent of any post on his facebook wall, and I always remember to greet him.  But then again, it is indeed way too late.

So let this be just one of those posts about my few but well thought out friendships.  It’s coming at a time when the cinemas are rumbling with the 40–minute pivotal action sequence in one of the more definitive superhero movies of our time.  So clearly, this post that talks about one of the superheroes in my life, is quite appropriate.

I’ve never really seen any of the cinematic installments but from what I’ve read about Tony Stark, it’s Kuya Mike who embodies him the most among my friends.  We came to Singapore together, had our first day at our new jobs together, and have since been waging our battles together.

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Kuya Mike a.k.a. Iron Man clearly drives for Scuderia Ferrari!

It’s amazing the clarity that comes with being down on your luck or just unexplainably sad.  You realize who your real friends are.  And you resolve to do your best to keep them.

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Linguine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Linguine with Seafood “in the bag”). This has turned out to be Iron Man’s favorite pasta dish!

 

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I saw this pile first thing one morning and I knew that Iron Man was back for his hectic, full-packed two-week break from his assignment on the isle of Sicily. I said in jest that his “pasalubong” for me has had a consistent theme – an “I heart (place)” item and a… notebook! The one the chocolates are on came from his layover in Amsterdam.

I’m quite thankful to be really close friends with Kuya Mike.  That is, Iron Man.  Over a week ago, he took a Royal Dutch Airlines flight back to Italia.  I’m quite happy that he has this chance to enjoy God’s creation in a totally different place.  He deserves every good opportunity that comes his way.

And my special, limited edition airport send–off service.  Hahaha!

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Every airport send-off starts with a snapshot of the control tower as our taxi approaches. My trusty Canon IXUS 860IS really does have great stabilizer.

 

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We’ve arrived! It has to be said that Iron Man may seem to be the conscientious traveler. But he actually travels quite light, packing everything efficiently. If I were to go to Italia, I’d probably lug around twice as much. Haha!

 

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While Iron Man fusses over his stuff for one final accounting before checking in, my attention was demanded by this dynamic work of art. I didn’t bother to check its name out just yet. All I could make of them at the time was that they seemed to be golden droplets of rain making beautiful patterns suspended in the sky.

 

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Here are those golden rain drops, suspended on parallel planes. Observing my being mesmerized, Iron Man quipped, “Boss, ngayon mo lang nakita yan?” (Boss, you’re just noticing that now?)

 

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Iron Man took the Royal Dutch Airlines.

 

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Trust Audemars to give accurate time check. Iron Man’s flight leaves past midnight.

 

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The blogger and the superhero. That’s Iron Man at the check-in counter.

 

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Something in common with Iron Man: We travel in shorts!

 

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I asked him to post for a photo in front of numbers “3” and “4”, two of my favorites.

 

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Like with most of those I had sent off at the airport, the first post-check-in activity involves… F–O–O–D.

 

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I realize that I have been in Singapore for two years, yet I haven’t been to Aston’s. This dinner with Iron Man was only my second time at the place – in the space of two days! It felt like a revenge for missing out. Both were such treats.

 

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I loved this chalk work on the board that I asked permission to photograph it. (Lest the store manager screams, “No photo please!”)

 

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It was departure time so Iron Man was fielding text messages that were coming in a-plenty.

 

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Between Iron Man and me, the count was two wristwatches and three phones. If it were one of those days I fancy to strap on two watches, then it would’ve been three even.

 

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Tag Heuer and Technomarine – live together in perfect harmony… Channeling Stevie and Paulie. Hahaha!

 

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The food has landed!

 

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The same thing in the space of two days – the Prime Ribeye Extra Cut, with sides of french fries and steamed vegetables. I would’ve wanted the Macaroni & Cheese but given the lateness of the hour, they had run out.

 

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This is exactly how I want my meat – medium rare.

 

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See, nothing left. Hahaha!

 

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Dinner’s done! It’s time to head to the departure area.

 

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Iron Man was a walking advertisement for UNIQLO. And North Face.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Farewell, Mommy

11 06 2013

SO THIS must be how it feels to break.  For the heart to break.  For the spirit to break.

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My maternal grandmother “Mommy”, ANGELINA AQUINO HERNANDEZ, 03 September 1921 – 28 May 2013

MOMMY, MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, a constant fixture in my growing up years, had finally left this world on the 28th of May 2013, at exactly 6:35 AM.  At about the same time, I was leaving my office desk, frantically and repeatedly pushing the lift button as I couldn’t wait to dart through the turnstile downstairs to catch my flight back to the Philippines.  The day before, the 27th, Mommy was rushed back to the hospital after having been cleared from a bout with pneumonia a couple of weeks earlier.

When I heard the news, I dropped what I was doing and had to make a call.

 

“Mommy?  You’re in the hospital again daw po?”

 Oo.  Balik na naman ako dito.”  (Yes.  I’m back here again.)

 Pagaling po kayo haDadalawin ko po kayo!   (Please get well.  I’ll visit you.)

 How could that be?  Eh di ba nasa Singapore ka?  (How could that be?  You’re in Singapore, right?)

 “Kumukuha na po ako ng ticket.  The earliest flight available, I will get.  Hintayin nyo ako ha.”  (I’m getting a ticket now.  The earliest flight available, I will get.  Please wait for me.)

 “I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

 

It felt like neither of us wanted to end the conversation.  We just kept saying “I love you” to each other.  It didn’t feel like a portent of what was to happen within the next 12 hours.  It was just that we had always been comfortable to say those words to each other – meaning it every single time.

By the time I arrived, Mommy was already at the morgue.  Nobody knew how to tell it to me so they just blurted it out in the middle of me talking about all that I had to do to make it on a plane back home.

Wag ka mabibigla.  Wala na si Mommy.”  (Don’t be surprised.  Mommy’s gone.)

I couldn’t speak.  But in my head and in my heart, everything just felt crashing down.

During her final moments, they told me that they had to tell her to not wait for me anymore.  Knowing of the pain and the difficulty she must have been going through at the time, I fully understand that she was assured that she could go and leave us and that we would all be fine – I for one could only be a better version of me because she was in my life.

It’s been days and I still couldn’t get over the pain.  I still cry.  I feel no shame in missing Mommy.  I’m thankful for all our conversations, for all the times she held my hands.  We laughed a lot together.  She would always kiss me and embrace me really tight.

I‘ve been made to sing in public so many many times ever since I was a kid.  But the one I now cherish the most is singing an a capella solo of “Tanging Yaman” (Only Treasure), standing right in front of her casket during the Funeral Mass.  That had always been our setup – I would be singing in front of her and then she would applaud enthusiastically.  Mommy loved my singing very much.  I’m glad I had the chance to do it one last time in this life.

I closed my eulogy at her interment by saying that when my own time to die comes, I will will myself to consciously speak to her and tell her just how excited I will be at that moment because it will mean that I will finally see her again.  And I expect her to be there to welcome me.

Like I always said – and still say to this day – “I love you, Mommy.”  To that I now add, “And I miss you very much.  I know you left with a full knowledge of just how much you were loved and cared for.”

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For Mommy, it had to be all–white.

 

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During the wake, I would just sit in front of the coffin, hold on to it, and just “talk” to Mommy.

 

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Writing myexact thoughts down. The hospital bracelet came from a 2010 hospitalization. I have this is my wallet. It’s with me all the time.

 

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I threw this in my luggage as I intended to wear this on my first night visiting her at the hospital. I didn’t know I would wear it to the wake.

 

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The entrance to Mommy’s final resting place here on earth.

 

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The sky was so clear the day we bid her a fond farewell that I know she was being given a warm welcome in heaven.

 

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We sent her off with the release of doves and white balloons.

 

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…And one final flying kiss from me. “I love you, Mommy.”

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Comfort notes

19 05 2013

OFTEN HERE in Singapore, I don’t need to move away from my desk to survive a hectic workday.  I can successfully keep the insatiable, unceasing hunger pangs at bay with munchies I pop in my mouth from time to time.  You probably think that I could very well have made a pantry of one of the three drawers on my MPD (mobile personal drawer).  To a certain extent, I did.  But I actually survive more through the “love and care for me that is in other people.”

From_Intern_Someone

One morning, I found this paper rose on my desk. I still don’t know who made it for me. Ok, cue the song… “Paper roses / paper roses / …” HAHA!

If only my cubicle walls could talk, I would be regaled with anecdotes of food and notes left on my desk by some of the most generous and it has to be said – lovable – people I’ve ever come across here.  The surprises would come in the morning, perfect for starting one’s day, and any other time in between.  Regardless, they’re perfect for adding a spring – no, make that chutzpah – to one’s step in yet another long day in the office.

The food may have long disappeared – believe me, they’ve had (haha!) – but I have the accompanying notes to go back to and read.  They’re like a warm blanket I can pull up to my chin when the cool breeze blows through my windows at night.

And even in the perennial tropic that is the Singaporean warm weather, there really are times when the cool wind blows.

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I receive a lot of these from my Malaysian friends. But this one, its Chinese name translated to “Black Sugar Biscuit” has got to be one of the ultimate best!

 

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I asked someone to translate for me what these lovely delicious balls of gooey goodness are called. “Black Sugar Biscuits,” he said.

 

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Malaysian treats don’t have to exclusively come from Malaysians. I have a Singaporean friend who always remembers me too!

 

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These biscuits had a (purple) yam filling. Quite scrumptious too! I liked it.

 

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These treats are paper-thin wafers or crepes called “Love Letters,” made by hand by a colleague’s aunt. Each bears a very intricate pattern. They are so delicious.

 

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These two boxes came all the way from Shanghai in China, from a beloved colleague I respectfully call “Ms. Lynda.”

 

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One box contained these sesame seed finger biscuits that had the feel and taste of biscotti. Perfect with tea or coffee.

 

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More cookies in the other box.

 

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This is one amazing sandwich made by Betchie (or by her “Staff”). To this slice I sing, “Sana maulit muli…” Hahaha!

 

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A variety of teas from Rhonee

 

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My current “half-and-half” fixation, introduced to me by Cecille – Cadbury Brunch Bars! Every bar is half guilt, half “good-for-you” goodness.

 

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Two muffins from Ms. Sharon

 

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Chocolates galore! Godiva, no less. And there are so many others. Like that pack on the left. I’m not crazy about chocolates. But it’s nice to be thought of from time to time.

 

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Two of the most heartwarming notes I’ve ever received came from my Bez’s (Glenda) two daughters, Kyla and Keisha!

 

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The letter from Keisha opens up, literally, and actually has a story to it.

 

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This one is from Kyla.

 

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A collage of more recent notes that have been taking up real estate on my wall.

 

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This came posted on a couple of morning treats from Ms. Madeline.

 

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It’s soya!

 

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Saw this on my notebook at the end of a workday.

 

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Thanks again, Ms. Madeline!

 

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Blast from the past – Some really memorable notes.

 

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A lovely note from Trisha. Beside it is a card from Melissa and Sam.

 

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Only a true kolehiyala has monogrammed stationery. Hahaha!

 

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From Dearest Daphne Tatiana!

 

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Of course there is a note from Batman!

 

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A farewell note from my Chinese best friend, Bin!

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Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The Summit rises

14 05 2013

I LOVE surrounding myself with people who are far smarter than I am – or ever could be.  That way, if I’m very lucky, one could be a teacher to me.

I love the company of my female friends because while I may be so close to a female first cousin, I still technically do not have a sister.

I love that no matter how much you feel like you already have all the people you need in your life, there will always be room for someone new.  And how you meet this someone new could be the stuff of stories worth looking back to.

I love that even with all the oceans and seas geography puts between people, there is always a way to get in touch.  And keep in touch.

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One of the definitive farewell dinners I had before leaving for Singapore was of course with the Summit. This was at The Podium, June 2011.

 

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She handled the extensive buffet spread in style.

Last year, one of my closest friends left the Philippines as one of the principal scholars of the Fulbright Classic Program.  She was one of only three PhD students in a fellowship of nine – how so Lord of the Rings! – and was the only one in Communication.  Specifically, she is taking up her PhD in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design.

She told me that she is working on “a research that will focus on web video, the politics of the everyday, and the cultural identities we embed, create, and recreate as our mundane interactions become more and more mediated.  This is true especially among diasporic Filipinos.”  Her fascination has always been with the web and visual communication.  And she wants “to be able to author studies that will be of use to societies, especially among Filipinos.”  I remember these to be her words.  I recall these now and I feel that I’m at the mercy of Meclizine HCl.  I get nauseous just attempting to fathom her depth.

But before I could even launch into a dizzying spin, I get reminded that this is the same person who, at one point in the past, orchestrated a shopping day for us by first presenting me with a formal, well-written “project proposal” – the kind that gets presented to venture capitalists.  Depth, a sense of humor, and yes, biting sarcasm are a lethal combination.

I look forward to the right time when we’d share a lazy day in the sun, shop ‘til we drop, have coffee, and trade stories.  Nothing does beat surrounding myself with people smarter than I am.  I’ve found one teacher.  And what’s actually better – I’ve found in this teacher yet another real friend who has my welfare at heart.

Today, the 14th of May is her birthday.  Happy birthday, Data!  I can’t wait to call you Data, MA, PhD!

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Data, my friend who I fondly call as “The Summit”, recently participated in the Twin Cities Fulbright Enrichment Seminar. (Photos are hers unless otherwise stated.)

 

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The Twin Cities Fulbright Enrichment Seminar is a melding of cultures and the brightest minds of today. Who says that intellect is not akin to having fun? Here are Data and her fellow participants in a seeming “telenovela” pose. I see the Patriarch of a rich clan caught in the midst of his three warring daughters. Haha!

 

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This photo brings South East Asia and Central America in one frame.

 

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Group Dynamics is one reason to engage in a lively discussion. Or argument. Haha! From left to right: The Philippines, Spain, Germany, and Indonesia. This photo is owned by Patrick Muhire of the Twin Cities Fulbright Enrichment Seminar Group.

 

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Data in another group photo. Again, Data… HAPPY BIRTHDAY! It’s such a vicarious thrill to see you living your dreams. And not stopping to learn more in this world. I already feel smarter just by my association with you. Take care!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved