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The virgin suicides

 

I don’t know about most people, but I put a premium on virginity. Not necessarily the sexual kind– it goes for anything. I’ve never thought inexperience was a handicap; in fact, I always appreciate fresh eyes, and I prefer that those eyes be mine. I guess it’s the unjadedness– when you feel something for the first time, you’ll never feel it again as much as you did the first. I thought Nick Hornby said it best, but maybe it was Cat Stevens after all: the first cut is the deepest.

And I suppose the problem comes with every there time after that. The second time, the third time, the fourth, the fifth… None of them beat the unexpectedness of the new. I used to be so afraid of running out of new things to experience, but at twenty-three, it’s not so much about experiencing the newest. Appallingly, the problem seems to be as not being perceived as new– basically, as old. It’s the point where people take things for granted, like the pain of getting your hair bleached then dyed green. And  then of course there’s the fact hat we’re no longer new. And I don’t know to do that.

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Food

No bake baking

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It is really annoying that my brother buys cookbooks assuming that I’ll do the recipes in it. I don’t even cook. The only thing I can cook are posed Instagram food shots and menu descriptors.

But I do love looking at cookbook photos, and my brothers challenged me to do 12 recipes out of Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories cookbook before the end of the month. I did the (deformed) sour cream cookies the other day (with a sour cream glaze that didn’t harden; my boss aptly described it as an ugly cupcake), and I honestly thought it’d take one trip to the supermarket and then it’d be smooth sailing, but I forgot that this isn’t a first world country. I can’t find Thai tea leaves anywhere, and they’re supposed to be found at Asian supermarkets. Am I not in Asia?!?!

Complaints aside, I actually like doing these little baking projects right before I go to work. I feel so productive. Like, I can’t get up at 10 to workout, so I may as well flip the opportunity cost, and bake all the calories I was supposed to have burned. I’ve been giving all of it away (friends, officemates, househelp, brothers). If I can’t be thin, may as well make everyone fat.

I am surprised though that my ~boyfriend~ (did I just admit that ugh) loves ugly little beetles I made this morning. They’re peanut butter cornflake no-bakes, which were so simple to make, but of course I fucked up somehow. The recipe said 1 cup of corn syrup; turns out we didn’t have any at home so I improvised with molasses. Did I even measure the cup? Nope. Just threw it in and stopped when our cook Marilyn commented that this was going to turn out really sweet. I also threw in a bit of malted milk powder, just because i felt like throwing more stuff in.

I don’t have a propensity for baking, but I am fairly skilled at improvisation, and I’m slowly realizing that it’s the same thing.

PEANUT BUTTER CORNFLAKE CLUSTERS

Ingredients: 1 cup of sugar, less than a cup of molasses, 1 teaspoon of vanilla (the recipe said vanilla but the little bottle I used just said vanilla; I’m assuming that it’s at least similar), maybe a teaspoon of malted milk powder, a lot of creamy Skippy peanut butter, a box of Special K.

Directions: Throw everything but the cereal into a large or deep pan, and put it over medium heat. Mix til it becomes fairly homogenous. Turn off the heat, mix in the cereal really quickly before the thing hardens and you’re left with uncovered cornflakes like what happened with me. Scoop out onto a cookie sheet or a flat pan, wait to cool. Take a shower while playing an entire Taylor Swift album. Return to kitchen. Have a bite.

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Photography, Singular Adventures

Artifacts

I miss you, London. I thought that I knew who I was when I left you, but I guess I did only for a while, and now I don’t know anything anymore (again).

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For Better or Worse

A Culture of Hypocrisy

Here’s a new “Culture of,” for ya, Internet. Isn’t that the Internet’s favourite term to coin? Culture of slut shaming. Culture of online bullying. Culture of first world feminism, of wearing makeup for myself and not for boys, of not shaving armpits.

Obviously these are significant issues, especially in extreme cases. Some people get pushed too hard, and acceptance is a necessity in many cases.

But why the fuck are we creating a culture of hypocrisy? Why do we have to like everything? Why does everything have to be judged, and that judgement quantified, by an online audience that we subject ourselves too?

This is me, speaking as someone of course who has the usual social media outlets. Let me be transparent (but I’m sure someone will read this and say I’m not being transparent enough) (fine, then I’m being as transparent as I can at the moment, but obviously, as with anything there is room for error): I have 1,449 friends on Facebook, ranging from people I’ve met briefly to friends I’ve had my whole life; I have 1,114 followers on Instagram, and my posts average at around 40+ likes; and I have 735 followers on Twitter, and I have no idea how to quantify how well-received my Tweets are.

These of course don’t reflect real-life numbers. The actual number for friends– real friends, who I can count on to have my back in a firefight and get sloshed with at the end of the week– I have is less than a hundred, for sure. Which is fine, because I’ve always been socially awkward, and making a single friend at all is a huge deal to me.

These are easy facts. I’m sure any article on the Internet can give anyone the same. With so many people populating it, why do so many people turn to the Internet as escape, as refuge?

Well, I don’t know everyone’s reasons. When I was eleven, mine was that I knew nothing, and I had nothing better to do. No one heard my voice, so I put myself out there. Not to be known, or with any intention of engagement, because that was rare in the early 2000s– the Internet was simply a convenient to put it all, that’s it. (And, okay, I was a hex code-memorizing nerd who loved coding and web design.) I’m sure people have their own. But the Internet was another world then, and the line between “online” and “real life” was clear.

Nowadays, not so much. Real life is online is real life is online, and that “culture of” escapism has become something else. That culture of escapism, if you ask me (and I’m sure at this moment you wish you didn’t start reading this at all), has become a culture of hypocrisy.

Why do I have to get behind something I don’t believe in? Let’s say I have a friend sleeping around, gender arguments aside. Let’s say I’ve theoretically tried to get the bottom of such behaviour, and said friend has transformed from Depressed Friend Having A Rough Time, to Friend Manufacturing Experiences for Attention. (Theoretically.) Why do I have to agree? Why am I “mean and cold and bitchy and throwing shade” when I don’t? Why do I have to like it? Why can’t I take a step back and say, wait, this isn’t the person I became friends with, and you know what, I’m not into it anymore? Why am I not allowed to rethink our friendship, realize this person and I can’t even fill a dinner’s worth of words, and decide that it’s best to take a breather? Why can’t I let myself make judgements, and why do other people get to decide that my judgements are wrong?

They say choose your friends wisely. Since when has the personal decision to step away from a friendship become punishable by stoning, Internet-style? Why does withholding my opinion make me a bad person? Why do I have to be ready to give 100% acceptance all the time to absolutely anyone?

I’m not saying acceptance isn’t necessary, because obviously, in arguments like this, any form of extremity will just put everything to shit. I support the freedom of homosexuality, I condemn the use of gender as grounds of any form of punishment or harassment, among other issues. But that’s exactly what bothers me– that greater issues are losing the attention it deserves because we’re too busy telling each other that you should wear makeup for yourself, and no one else. There’s a difference between progress and simply arguing for the sake of validation. And sometimes if all you’re seeking is validation for the things you do, for the things you aren’t sure of, for the things you can’t personally figure out, then you’re creating a backwards world– or, in Internet-speak, a culture of enablement. You can’t expect all barriers to be raised if your intentions are to simply excuse your own decisions.

I already know that I don’t know everything. Who does? But I’m sick of being asking to fall in line for “cultures of” and “cultures of” that I don’t believe in. You can tell me to fuck off for what I’m saying, but you have to understand: I can too.

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Singular Adventures, Sold

It Doesn’t Always Have To Suck: Countries that Philippine passport holders have access to by extension, kind of

Real life doesn’t echo the movies, and I’m not just talking about unrealistic romantic expectations. Those scenes where someone buys a plane ticket on the spot and immediately jumps onto the plane? Obviously unreal, as anyone who’s accidentally worn loafers with a leather buckle on them will painfully tell you — as well as anyone who holds a Philippine passport.

Ranking 69th with Georgia on the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2014, the Philippines has access to 62 countries. It doesn’t sound too bad, if you don’t take into account the fact that countries with lower rank are the combative type: China, Egypt, Korea, Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan. If this isn’t throwing shade (not only on our economy standing but general perception), I don’t know what is.

So the solo trip everyone inevitably attempts — that life-changing Eat Pray Love adventure on every bucket list — is hardly a passionate, impulsive decision. I can’t randomly book a flight to Malta because I’ll have to check visa requirements, get ID pictures taken, procure bank statements, make an itinerary, buy insurance, book an appointment… Ugh. The ideal of course is to marry a Swede or a Brit, get a second passport, and be done with it. Unfortunately, not everyone you fall in love with is a citizen of the first world, so visas are a necessary evil.

As a veteran of the last minute visa acquisition (I’ve received a visa in the morning of my evening flight), I’m hardly a role model. But I am always trying to find loopholes in anything, so when I found out that Philippine passports can enter Taipei if they have an existing U.S.A., Canada, Japan, U.K., EU Schengen, Australia, or New Zealand visa, I immediately Googled for a list of countries with similar entry restrictions.

Um, I didn’t find one. So I made my own. (Well my mother told me to, but anyway.)

Please note that you should still check with the appropriate embassy if this information is accurate at the time of your departure. I could be making it up so I can take your seat on the flight.

COUNTRIES THAT PHILIPPINE PASSPORT HOLDERS HAVE ACCESS TO BY EXTENSION

AMERICAN SAMOA

Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and fairly close to Australia are the islands of Tutuila, Manuʻa, Rose Atoll, and Swains. It’s part of the Samoan Islands chain, and as United States territory, requires a US visa upon entry (if you can find your way over there).

Source: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html

CANADA

Surprise attack! If you’re already within the US on a B2 visa, you can go to Canada as long as it’s within the period specified that you would be in the US: “During your visit to the U.S., you may visit Canada or Mexico for up to 30 days and re-enter the U.S. as long as you re-enter within the period noted on the Form I-94 which you received when you first entered.”

Source: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/751/~/traveling-to-other-countries-while-in-the-u.s.-on-a-b1-or-b2-visa

MEXICO

It’s not just Canada — if you’re already within the US on a B2 visa, you can also go to Mexico under the same terms. God bless America. God bless your Filipino relatives who chose to settle in sunny California. “During your visit to the U.S., you may visit Canada or Mexico for up to 30 days and re-enter the U.S. as long as you re-enter within the period noted on the Form I-94 which you received when you first entered.”

Source: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/751/~/traveling-to-other-countries-while-in-the-u.s.-on-a-b1-or-b2-visa

MONACO

Although not declared as part of the Schengen area, the European microstate of Monaco is easy access if you have an existing Schengen visa, considered de facto due to lack of border controls. If not, application for a visa is via your French consulate.

Source: http://www.consulfrance-washington.org/spip.php?article408

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

Also a territory of the United States, fifteen islands in the northwestern area of the Pacific Ocean form the Northern Maria Islands. Add Guam, and it becomes the Marian Islands.

Source: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html

PUERTO RICO

One of two commonwealths under the United States, the same visa that gets you into mainland America will also get you into Puerto Rico.

Source: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html

SAN MARINO

Situated on the Italian Peninsula, the European microstate of San Marino is easy access if you have an existing Schengen visa, considered de facto due to lack of border controls.

TAIPEI

“Effective August 08, 2013, Philippine passport holders are exempted from visa and are allowed to stay in the Republic of China (Taiwan) for thirty (30) days provided that they have never worked in Taiwan as blue-collar workers and are currently holding valid visas or permanent resident cards of U.S.A., Canada, Japan, U.K., EU Schengen, Australia and New Zealand. Qualified applicants may register for approval athttps://niaspeedy.immigration.gov.tw/nia_southeast

Source: http://www.roc-taiwan.org/PH/ct.asp?xItem=409174&ctNode=4712&mp=272

THE VATICAN

44 hectares within the city of Rome is a European microstate known as — of course — the Vatican, also considered de facto to the Schengen area due to lack of border controls.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

Also a US territory.

If you don’t have any of the above visas, you can always apply for a Japanese visa. Everyone seems to have one nowadays anyway.

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