Love Potion #31 and Jamoca Plus a Long Lunch | Daily Prompt: A Moment in Time

What was the last picture you took? Tell us the story behind it. (No story behind the photo? Make one up, or choose the last picture you took that had one.)

Baskin-Robbins' Love Potion #31 and Jamoca, Php 145.00
Baskin-Robbins’ Love Potion #31 and Jamoca, Php 145.00

Two scoops!

What you see is courtesy of my first visit to Baskin-Robbins branch at the Bonifacio Global City, which is also their first branch here in the Philippines. And of all the flavors that I chose, I went with Love Potion #31 and Jamoca. The former is “white chocolate & raspberry ice creams swirled with a raspberry ribbon & loaded with raspberry-filled chocolate cups and chocolate chips” while the latter is “coffee ice cream with roasted almonds and a rich chocolate fudge ribbon”.

As I was reveling about my choices, my hunches were proven: neither one complements the other nor is close to taste or texture. Sid, the friend who was with me, approved of the ice cream’s thickness and the creaminess. He even considered buying a pint next time he was there. And that says something because he’s not huge on sweets.

Here are the rest of the earlier photos I took from a long lunch at IHOP.


No Cloud Nine | Daily Post: Re-springing Your Step

Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?

This morning, I was ready to say no.

I’ve been looking for a new job for a while now. And this morning was the latest result. I already know what I want and don’t want in a job. And working six days a week is a huge deal breaker for me. I’ve done it before. I did it for years. And it burned me out.

He flipped through my answer sheet. Inside the office, the boss, in his comfortable black chair, laughed for a bit. He smiled mostly. I knew what I wrote. But I had no idea what was making him sound pleased.

After a short interview and a few clarifications, he welcomed me to the company.

Somewhere in my head, I was raising objections. I needed to be heard before they I walked out of their front door. Because I was taken aside by the secretary for more instructions, I inquired about their work days. That was when I mentioned it: Sabbath is non-negotiable for me. She didn’t say another word but motioned me to stay in the chair.

Few moments later, she returned from the boss’ office and said that I would be under a no work-no pay contract, unlike the others. That was agreeable. It is fair and he was considerate, which were the two things I wrote as an expectation from the boss.

No sooner had I stepped out of the door, I began listening to a Sheppard song. I texted the family and friends to tell them the good news. I may not have been walking on cloud nine but I felt so much lighter—and so much faster—earlier! Even I wasn’t prepared for this. Life does pull surprises.

Replacement Best Friend | Daily Prompt: Bad Signal

Someone’s left you a voicemail message, but all you can make out are the last words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.” Who is it from, and what is this about?

It’s the man I used to call my best friend.

He finally owns up to the incident of the first quarter of this year: that when he began ignoring me out of no fault of my own – even when I was good, even when I was on my best behavior, even before I deserved all the cruelty – it was not solely because he thought of letting me widen my circle of friends without him; it was because he had found my replacement. And the replacement happened to be the close friend of the person he was hoping I would replace him with, who also happened to be the person he was avoiding because of a misunderstanding between the two of them. Strangely, the former best friend chose to avoid me and the person but not the person and the would-be replacement.

When I complained of being the collateral damage of their seeming feud, somehow I turned out to be the one in the wrong.

Until now, I don’t know how that happened. Guess I should have believed that little voice telling me back then: I finally met the man who would take my place in the life of my then best friend. But I didn’t.

I gave it—I gave him, I gave the two of them—the benefit of the doubt. I thought he just needed more people to support him through these trying days. I believed that he just needed more friends. I said that he could use more good distractions.

This is where it all led to: the sword finally falling on Damocles’ head, dirty, bloody, and messy. He’s now dead.

Some fools believe. Some fools doubt. Some fools give the benefit of the doubt.

If I Said (Colin Blunstone) | Daily Prompt: By Heart

You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?

If I said I loved you would it be so bad?
Why should it change all that we had?
You tell me, he only hurt you once before

How could he do it to you?
How could he stand to see you sad?
Why does he treat a love so bad?

If I say don’t see him, would it be so wrong?
What does it take to see him gone?

If only you could be strong enough to see
That he doesn’t matter to you
You should be making other plans
So I feel I have to say
Don’t go and throw you life away

He takes, you give
He leaves you lonely
He makes it hard to listen to me


When he takes, you give
It leaves you lonely
He makes it hard to listen to me
If I said I loved you, would it be so bad

What’s worse than a hopeless romantic?

A hopeless tormented romantic. And that was me years ago. I could write love letters, spout sonnets, and create swoon-worthy stories better—plus so much more!—than any young man in my class. Yet I could never win the girl. Not that I did not try. I just could not be seen as anything else other than a good friend.

Colin Blunstone’s song remains my plea.

A Teen Demigod and the Greek Pantheon | Daily Prompt: Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

It was 2006 when I last read anything worth a rave or rant.

School was my biggest motivation to read, hugely because my classes used my favorite books as its references; ergo, I enjoyed the assigned readings. But, because I no longer had assignments, I didn’t feel the need to flip through any book anymore.

The following year, I began my work with a newspaper company. The broadsheet gave me my daily fix of information about local, national, and international current events. That replaced books for the next three years.

While I would be reminded of my love of reading books by seeing high school and college kids and other yuppies reading on trains, I felt frustrated. Yes, I would get a book, finish it, and be okay. And that was what was wrong: after reading a book, I felt okay! Years before, whenever I finished a book, I wouldn’t be okay. I would be devastated, enraged, or inconsolable, even murderous or overjoyed—I would be anything but okay! I was okay because I no longer hungered for more. And I knew that to be a gigantic lie. I needed to be saved.

My savior came in the form of a friend I met online. His name was Patrick, who was a big fan of the Harry Potter series. Interestingly, it wasn’t that series he recommended to me but something else entirely. He introduced me to the world of Rick Riordan, a teen demigod, and the Greek Pantheon. He said I should give The Percy Jackson series a fair try.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Try I did. From the start to finish of The Lightning Thief, I was undeniably hooked. Even before I could finish the current book in the series, I would buy the next. That was how sure I was that I would love what I would read in the future, that the next book would be a hit with me. When I saw it came to life on the big screen, I raged. When I turned the final page of The Last Olympian, I experienced terrible withdrawal symptoms. By then, Patrick— and I as well—was sure that I was, assuredly, back into reading form.

Bicolano with a Twist | Daily Prompt: Mouths Wide Shut

Are you a picky eater? Share some of your favorite food quirks with us (the more exotic, the better!). Omnivores: what’s the one thing you won’t eat?

Yes, I am a picky eater.

The family thought that it would just be one of those childhood phases, one that I would gradually grow out of. I didn’t. Picky isn’t a phase, it’s a way of life for me. And thankfully the family—especially the parents—could accommodate my preferences ever since I could eat on my own.

Because the family is Bicolano and Bicolanos are known for their signature spicy fare, I grew up eating stuff that wasn’t just hot but came with a kick. Anything less would be a disappointment. But before I came into the picture, my parents usually cooked any Bicolano recipe the way they normally would. Yet once I gained influence in the kitchen, all that changed.

One of the most dramatic alterations is the way Pa made bopis. Bopis is a dish, made up mostly of lungs and heart bits; by tradition, we took those from a cow. Throw in some chilies, vinegar, and soy sauce and you’re good to go! Because of my prodding, just before it’s served, Pa adds some cubed cheese, which made it creamier and gave it more texture.

Laing recipe focuses on dried gabi (taro) leaves and gata (coconut milk). But instead of any remotely seafood-tasting bit as a bonus, Pa uses tuna; usually canned tuna because he only needs a small amount. That’s the same thing he does with santol (cotton fruit): cooks it with gata, loads of spices, and chunks of tuna. The spicier, the better!

Speaking of tuna, he and Ma tandem on making tambakol (yellow-fin tuna) in gata, which takes hours to cook. And they make certain that the bottom layer of tambakol not only simmers in sauce but gets a bit toasted as well because that’s the part that I love eating. I usually don’t go for anything burnt, saved for barbeque and tambakol. Just don’t overdo it.

Experiments | Daily Prompt: To-Do? Done!

Quickly list five things you’d like to change in your life. Now, write a post about a day in your life once all five have been crossed off your to-do list.

1. Get hired by a certain government office for a certain job
2. Travel abroad by myself
3. Finish writing just one of the long stories that I have
4. Cook a decent meal + rice
5. Have my own place

I arrive home.

No, I did not return from the office. I’m from a 10-day vacation spent in the countryside of Italy. So I drag and pull through the door luggage filled with clothes that need to be washed and sneakers that must be cleaned because – man! – do they stink. But thank goodness that I now have place of my own, which means that no one else has to complain about the mess I am making or the smell that’s emanating from them.

So, while the washing machine rumbles, I’m making more messes at the kitchen. I am trying out the secrets I learned from Italian cooks and housewives about how they do pasta and pizza. It smells way better around the herbs and the spices than around more-than-a-week-old sweat stains.

Water boils. Water bubbles.

It’s a pain to do chores while cooking. And while I could have food delivered, I’m not going for that. I just used up a lot of my money. And there’s still stuff in the kitchen, which I just have to learn how to use. And use properly.

After a few minutes, I now know for certain. I have a long way to get my experiments to taste great. But at least they’re way more than edible. Plus seeing that my book is doing well does put a smile on my face. Now if only I could be certain I could wake up early when I return to work tomorrow. It is difficult to bring pasalubong with me during the morning commute after all.

A Bladeless Hilt | Daily Prompt: Opening Lines

What’s the first line of the last song you listened to (on the radio, on your music player, or anywhere else)? Use it as the first sentence of your post.

He’s fought and he’s fallen.

From where he lay on the cold, hard, stone floor, the bloodied and beaten William could see him. Despite the exhausting and long duel, The Lord did not look like he dropped even one bead of sweat. Powder was still on his wig, which was perfectly in place on his head. His face still had matte finish. His beard impeccably trimmed, not a hair out of place. And not a single thread was missing from his clothes or a drop of blood gone from his body.

William had always known that he would be no match for The Lord who was perfect in his ways. But he could not deny that his soul called out when—for the first time—he saw his muse, his goddess, his universe in The Lady, the woman who would be his disease and cure, his salvation and ruin, his life and death, The Lady who belonged to The Lord.

Now, The Lord was about to destroy William’s work. All of his work! There, contained in a space bordered by old, cold stones rarely touched by the warmth of fire or the light of the sun, were worlds and seasons that even the gods and their messengers could not influence. William’s words on pages could bring down the earth or raise a paradise the second they were uttered.

In the hand of The Lord was a duet of oil and flame, a dance of mystery and beauty contained in a small tarnished metal vessel. They illuminated the pages, crisp with age, dusty with unkemptness, alive with inspiration, and unaware of the destruction that loomed only inches before them.

All that William had now was a scabbard, slashed right through the center. And a bladeless hilt, which he still gripped in his bleeding hand. The life from his feet was seeping down to the floor where he lay. And he only had moments before the unimaginable became reality.

Dancing flames played with the shadows and, in silence, never betraying the silver red lightning that slashed darkness that crouched behind The Lord.

#DrugsAlcoholandothervices | Daily Prompt: Uncanned Laughter

A misused word, a misremembered song lyric, a cream pie that just happened to be there: tell us about a time you (or someone else) said or did something unintentionally funny.

Humans benefit from anonymous confessions.

Back in college, one of the ways I know it was done was through the student council’s popular Crushes’ Week. A person could send flowers, chocolates, stuffed toys, and whatever you have to anyone—from students to faculty and staff—in the university. And there was no telling who sent it, unless it was written on paper or allowed to be revealed. But, with most cases, that didn’t happen. So, while enjoying a sweet treat or a bouquet of roses, one is left wondering who sent what.

These days, we have apps and accounts that cater to anonymity.

Just last month, there was a confession addressed to a friend. It wasn’t particularly romantic but nonetheless remained unknown. The message went, “Mag gym ka pa please. Parang yung nasa video lang.” (Please go to the gym. Just like in the video.) The guy in the said video kind of resembled the addressee.

Moments after the confession was posted, respondents tried their hand at unmasking the confessor. But that went downhill fast. Yet something stood out of the confession: it was categorized as #DrugsAlcoholandothervices, which got a number of people curious.

Why would the confession be tagged as #DrugsAlcoholandothervices?

First answer referred to the alcohol and cigarettes shown in the movie. I took a shot at it. I said that it’s because the addressee was addicting. That had people cracking. A nice result, albeit unanticipated. And, for the record, while we enjoyed the laughs, the confession remains—to this day—anonymous and the tag as curious.


As big as evil itself | Daily Prompt: Off the Shelf

Take a look at your bookcase. If you had enough free time, which book would be the first one you’d like to reread? Why?

The first title that popped in my head: A Separate Peace by John Knowles.

While some know of it because it was a high school or college reading material, I did not know about until I had already graduated from the university and began working. There I was at the book store, searching for something new to read, when came across the front cover where the words of Aubrey Menen were printed.

“I think it’s the best-written, best-designed, and most moving novel I have read in many years. Beginning with a tiny incident among ordinary boys, it ends by being deep and as big as evil itself.”

It was the last sentence that hooked my curiosity. What incident that started out as ordinary ended as evil? I just had to find out for myself. So I bought it.

As I was reading the tale of boys from a time long gone, I seemed to read about my own set of friends at the time. With the passing of every page, I saw characters from my life in the book. That excited me in the same intensity that it scared me. Even before I reached the most difficult turn in the book, I feared for the characters, as well as my friends.

While I have reread certain chapters and pages, I have not read the book in its entirety for years now. Also, there are certain friends I have not contacted in years.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I know that—somehow—particular scenes in the book and in my life have mirrored each other. Maybe that is why I am hesitant to read it again. Maybe it’s not. When one realizes his potential and capabilities to do good and bad, along with decisions both big and small, sometimes one can’t help but wonder about how well he knows himself.

Always with Hope | Daily Prompt: Matters of Taste

When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?

A force called out to me.

When I first saw it on the book shelf, I thought it was a gag book, that it would be a senseless parody of something I have seen when I was a kid. But an inexplicable power compelled me to flip through it and look between the covers. I was amazed at what I found. And I had to make it mine—all because the force was strong!

Last year, I bought (Master) William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher

The following February, I began reading the book. At first, I found it to be a wonder and a charm: a classic sci-fi story written with Shakespearean flair, complete with quotes! I liked how R2D2 had actual dialogue. I showed it off to friends and cousins, whose curiosities were also piqued by my predictably odd choice of reading material. And I began to relive the moments when I first saw the film.

But, by the time I reached the middle of the book, the force began to lose its hold on me. It could barely make me smile, much less laugh. I couldn’t enjoy it anymore all because I began to remember the moments when I first saw the film. I’ve known of the spoilers years before I read the book.

I did my best to power through with it but it felt more like a punishment than a pastime.

Though the force is no longer with that one, I still keep the book. It may find someone else who could finish its story. Until then, it waits, always with hope.

I am the obscure | Daily Prompt: A Bookish Choice

A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

Obscure is me.

Yes, a good number of the books I bought are popular ones but upon closer examination of my shelves and it would be obvious: the whole line of books is dotted with lesser-known titles by little known authors.

Why is that?

Through my years of reading, I have come to enjoy the company only a handful of people are familiar with. I have listened to voices that are drowned in the sea of crowds. I have recognized the peculiarity that I found in their words is also within my soul. The oddness from the cover to page calls out my whole being.

It’s easy to pick out stories that masses would love. Not so with the rest; there are individuals out there, keeping their ears and eyes open, waiting for tales that go beyond the common and have household names. Those are my people—because that is who I am. As the reader, so the writer: I am the obscure.