22

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.” I’ve waited 8 years and 8 months for the day I can use this Taylor lyric, and finally, that day has come. Yes. I am 22 and I can’t believe it. I remember the days I was 13, listening to this song and wondering what my life would be like when I’m already 22. And here we are now.

A lot has been going on in my mind: mostly academics, some family matters, the things I’m about to check out :P. So forgive me if I can’t organize my thoughts on this post. I am literally writing this 5 hours and 30 minutes before I technically turn 22. By this time tomorrow, I hope this post has seen the light of day.

Long story short, I have not planned anything for my birthday. I have absolutely no idea what to do. No celebration menu was planned. No outfits were prepared. No places were booked. No one was invited. No annual birthday post was drafted. Absolutely nothing. One thing is for sure, I know how Taylor Swift felt when she turned 22—happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. Apologies if I always have a Swift reference; I mean, she owns the age 22. Enough said.

Casting my mind back to this day last year, I promised myself that if the pandemic ends soon, as in December 2020, I am going to have a 22nd birthday with a RED album theme. But then again, COVID is still out and about; and starting a super-spreader event does not sit well with me. It would be a very selfish decision to gather people now that the virus has mutated multiple times. It’s pretty terrifying. I can go shopping and dining to celebrate this day instead. I love my friends and family enough that I don’t want them exposed to a killer virus. I know they will understand.

Right now, I am just counterfactually thinking of what could have been if the virus is not around. I am probably spending my birthday in my internship place, wherever that may be. Maybe I am bound to celebrate my birthday in a fancy buffet with my family in the coming weekend. Perhaps, I’d invite my friends too. What if. What if. I still have this disturbing thought that I am slowly losing my twenties to this pandemic, and I don’t like it. I hate it.

Although this painful thought continuously lingers on my mind, I have to keep reminding myself that my 22nd year has plenty of events in store. As of this writing, I am on my summer term. I am just 2 semesters away from graduation. I am finally graduating from college at 22. I am bound to experience my internship soon, albeit online, I am looking forward to it. I am yet to receive my COVID-19 vaccine soon as I am qualified in the A4 category. Hopefully, I’ll get my jab before 2021 ends. I will vote for the first time next year and I can’t wait to exercise this right. I guess being a Psychology major has helped me rewire my brain every time I have unpleasant thoughts. It helps a lot. See, there are still good things waiting for me even if the pandemic robbed me off of the fancy stuff I wanted. Heck, the things that are about to come are actually more essential than what COVID has taken from me. I mean, should I not be grateful about my education, my health, my career, and politics?

To end this obligatory birthday post: I just want to extend my heartfelt thanks to my family, my friends, my classmates, teachers, and everyone who remembered me today. I am thankful for the birthday messages, greetings, food, and goodies. Thank you, God, for another year. I am eternally grateful for everything.

Happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time,

Andrei

PS: Please register to vote. Let’s make 2022 a better year.

Life Lately : Summer Story Vol. 5

 

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PS: This is a long, photo-heavy blog post. Make sure your connection is stable. 

Last year, I had this brief moment thinking that I wanted a period in my life that would be spent away from people for, let’s say, one year. I guess this is what my obsession with Taylor Swift does. I wanted a break just like what she basically had in reputation where she was gone for a year. I wanted that. The peace. The quiet. The silence of nobody physically seeing you for a period of time. Ideally, I thought of doing it after I graduate college. But little did I know, I’d be having it sooner than I thought.  From now on, I’ll be careful with what I wish for. Sometimes, life really gives you what you want in a very bizarre way. 

Although things did not go as planned, there’s still a silver lining in this situation (yes, I’m acknowledging my privilege as I say this). After all, if plan A did not work, there are 25 more letters left in the alphabet. I’ve spent my seemingly-eternal summer trying new things, and doing what I love to keep me sane and to, somehow, earn a living. Continue reading to see how I spent the past few months at home. 


The Lasts of the Past

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This was our last “normal Sunday” outside. I remember wanting to go to the mall pero ayaw nina daddy dahil nagsisimula na yung pagtaas ng mga COVID-19 cases this time so kumain na lang kami sa labas. Instead of the mall, we just went to Duty Free. This was March 8. Ayan Popons, dapat kasi ready ka pag nagse-selfie tayo, ‘di man natin namalayan na last normal na pala ‘to!
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You know that I have a penchant for printed photos so I was also able to print all the pictures from 2019 to the pre-pandemic days. I just miss how everything used to be.
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This was my last day in school, hence also the last time I wore my uniform. I went to visit my friend Iya right before their event got cancelled. While my friends and I were eating lunch, nagtataka kami kung bakit sobrang tindi ng traffic at ang dami ng mga estudyante sa daan, ‘yun pala suspended na lahat ng klase. Little did I know that that was really the last time.

Lockdown Diaries

  • Social distancing, hand washing, face masks? Not new to me. – Long before the pandemic, I’ve practiced all these three whenever and wherever. I never run out of alcohol, wipes, and tissue in my bag and in my room. I feel uncomfortable when I’m surrounded by so many strangers (in public transpo, for example), most specially when I come in close contact with them (pag nag-aabot ng bayad). Bawat abot ng bayad, alcohol agad. I swear.  Kahit nakikita pa nila ako, I don’t care. Kahit mabigyan pa ng alcohol marks ang bag ko, basta malinis ko lang ang mga kamay ko I’ll do it. Hawak ng menu? Hugas agad. Humawak sa door knobs? Spray. Karating sa classroom, spray agad ng alcohol sa chair at desk. Ask my friends, they can attest to this. I swear, I always prioritize hygiene more than anything else. And now that we are in the middle of a pandemic, palagi akong nag-lilinis at nag-huhugas ng kamay in fear of contracting the coronavirus. I know this is not OCD and I hope it doesn’t lead to that, it’s just that I value cleanliness now more than ever. 
  • Trying to grow out both my facial hair and my hair—and actually regretting it. – Since the start of the quarantine, I remember thinking that this might be the perfect time to grow my hair. Then I also thought of growing out my beard and as per usual, it was the most hassle thing ever. I eventually found myself buying two electric razors from Lazada so my family and I can get a haircut at home. 
  • My obsession with sunscreen and anti-aging products. – I told myself na kung anong itsura ko nung huli akong nakita ng mga kaibigan ko, dapat ganun pa rin itsura ko pag nagkita kami ulit. Ayokong tumanda so I hoarded skin care products that will hopefully make me unlock the fountain of youth. Pero with the things happening and the kind of government we have in the country, feel ko walang kwenta yung efforts ko kasi tatanda ang itsura mo ng 58 years dahil sa kahayupan nila. 
  • Cleaning the entire house. – As of press time, I’ve just finished a room renovation spearheaded by….you guessed it….me. I’ve decluttered and organized almost one fourth of the entire house. Yup, just one fourth. Probably less than that. There’s just so much stuff to be taken and sorted out. And I know that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure so we’re giving stuff away to whoever might need them. Espirito ni Marie Kondo, ‘wag mo akong lisanin. 
  • Embracing the feeling of uncertainty and actually witnessing a deadly pandemic right before your eyes. – Seeing people die, people getting sick and hospitals getting overwhelmed, seeing businesses go bankrupt and shut down to the point of leaving millions unemployed in the midst of a pandemic is beyond me. I can’t believe that I’ll be witnessing a pandemic in my lifetime. And I can’t fathom how the government let this happen when it could have been prevented right before the year started. And they make everything worse. KASALANAN TALAGA NG GOBYERNO ANG LAHAT NG ITO. You know what makes it deadlier? The fact that the government does not give a shit about it. Kahit anong letra pa ang ilagay niyo sa quarantine, ECQ, MECQ, MGCQ, GCQ (whatever letter you want to add), kung walang mass testing at maayos na contact tracing, wala ring mangyayari. Iba pa rin ang inuuna ng gobyerno so we practically wasted almost 5 months of our lives. We still couldn’t manage to flatten the freaking curve. 
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I just miss the times when we used to celebrate after successfully accomplishing school work.
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I also miss being fetched at Starbucks during afternoons. Tapos aawayin ako ni Popons dahil wala akong binili para sa kanya. Namiss ko na rin yung acid reflux  na nae-experience ko on the way home dahil sa cold brew or caramel macchiato.
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One of our last meals out. I miss this. Hay. Nakakamiss yung kakain tayo sa labas kapag walang dumating na prof. I miss the takoyaki, the lemonade, the turon, the chicken wings, and everything AUF sidegate.
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I also miss going to school as early as 6 am to read for my Psych Assessment class. Tapos super lamig sa quad pag umaga.  Tapos deretso na sa wellness pag 7:30 na pero pagdating doon wala palang susi. I miss school so bad!
  • Missing my friends terribly. – And feeling so sad because we had no idea that everything we did last March 10 was already our last meal, last day, and last few moments together and not knowing when will we ever see each other again. 
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The last time I went out was on the 13th of March. We hoarded for ingredients, not groceries. Sobrang nagkakagulo ang mundo nung time na ‘to. Panic buying lahat. I remember hoarding herbs and pasta during this time. I knew that it would take time before I can actually go out again.
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This is me when I went out for the first time in three months. I really dressed up. Feel ko ako si Yoon Se-ri noong nakabalik siya ng South Korea! Hahaha.
  • Missing the outside world. – I was locked up at home for 3 months but I kept myself busy doing the things I love. I spent the quarantine improving my skills and learning new things. As of press time, I only went out for a grand total of 10 times. That’s 10 days out of 152 days spent in quarantine. And I’ve also realized na kaya ko naman palang mabuhay nang maayos without going to the mall, dining out, shopping every week and all the things I used to do before. Nakatipid pa kami!
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The first thing I learned to play in the piano was “The Song for my Brother” from Crash Landing on You. I was watching the series that time and that piece gave me a major LSS.
  • Learning how to play the piano – Because of Crash Landing on You and my Art class, I was forced to learn how to play the piano. As of now, I don’t know how to play anymore. I haven’t played in months and I no longer have the time. 

Online Classes

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I successfully finished my second year in college even if the final term was spent online. I requested for my numerical grades and guess what? I’m a University scholar for 3rd year 1st sem!
  • Finishing the school year online. – I hated the very demanding projects from my Gen Ed subjects. I still could not fathom their obsession with video requirements. In the middle of a pandemic, pilit na pilit pa rin sa videos. Jusko! Nagugunaw na yung mundo pinapasayaw pa kami! Hay bakit hindi na lang kasi written para hindi tayo pare-parehong nahihirapan?! On a lighter note, my majors and my Psych professors are the most considerate ones. If there’s one thing I enjoyed doing, it would be the Psych Report. It feels as if I was writing a blog post or a biography but from a psychological and theoretical perspective. Siguro yung report na ‘yun lang yung pinaka-sensible at reasonable na online requirement namin. Okay lang na puro written, ‘wag lang audio-visual okay??
  • Finding the motivation for 3rd Year. – I’ve already enrolled so there’s no turning back. I started my 3rd year in Psychology today but I am still not sure if I’m ready for it. My brain is still not academically prepared as of this moment. Ikaw ba namang ilang buwang nagti-tinapay at nami-mintura, hindi ka maga-adjust?! Honestly speaking, I just enrolled because I don’t want to be left behind. Hello, I already wasted 2 years of my life because of K12, I can’t afford to be delayed again! Pero seryoso, may matututunan ba tayo sa online classes? Meron, pero siguro wala masyadong retention? We’ll see how it goes.
  • The dilemma of Academic Freeze vs. Pushing for Online and/or Blended Learning.  – The ambiguity of it all. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-dont thing. I know how hard it is to attend classes online, even if I have all the means, what more yung mga mahihirap at walang wala? Paano yung mga batang umaakyat pa ng bundok makakuha lang ng signal? Paano yung mga walang gadgets? TV and Radio won’t suffice, DepEd. Stop trying to make it happen. But on the other hand, if there’s an academic freeze, paano ang mga teachers at ang mga pamilya nila? Paano sila kakain at mabubuhay? Ang hirap lang talaga. Tapos nito, yung competence pa namin ang questionable dahil “natuto lang kami online” at “walang practical application” ang knowledge namin. Guys, it’s just the education sector we are talking about here. Ito pa lang nakakasakit na ng ulo. Paano na? Ano na, PH Government? 

Gastronomic Adventures

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The Quarantine gave me so much time to accomplish all the things I wanted to cook. This was my first list. I have 5 more, I think.
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As of press time, I’ve accomplished half of this list and I’ve made a 6th list.
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Italian spread.
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Western.
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Father’s Day Spread
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Baked bread because bored.
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I love working under pressure, to the point that I’d be up to cook a lot of things in just four hours. I love the adrenaline.
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April and May were spent in the kitchen because I was busy accepting cake orders. These are the classic chocolate cakes I once sold.
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My forever favorite, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
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I also tried making garlic bread from scratch. It’s a Martha Bakes recipe. And if it’s from Martha Stewart, it must be good. And it is.
  • Cooking and Baking – In case you’ve read all my summer stories in the past 4 years, the only reoccurring theme would be me going on kitchen adventures. I’ve also realized my culinary philosophy recently and that is “People eat with their eyes first, then with their nose, and with their mouths last.” that’s why I really assure that what I prepare is not only tasty, but appealing to all senses. 
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If you didn’t learn how to bake bread this quarantine, were you really in quarantine?
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Homemade pasta!

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Faceless emoji.
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I bought a pasta roller just so I could accomplish this! It feels so fulfilling to actually make and cook homemade pasta using homegrown ingredients. I feel like a true chef. Haha!
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Shrimp Scampi using homemade fettucine.
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This was my first attempt in pasta making. I had no roller then so I cut these by hand, and tadaaa, a Tagliatelle recipe.
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Attempted to make homemade puff pastry too!
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I swear I’ll never do this again. Nakakaloka. Ang sakit ng katawan ko after ko ‘tong gawin.
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Look at them layers! I rolled this dough stone cold. Imagine how sore my arms were! Ilang days atang namamaga yung batok at braso ko noon, feel ko may naipit akong muscle or nerve. Puff pastry never again. I’m just gonna buy!
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It was worth the pain naman, look at these goodies.
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I also made homemade ice cream! Actually, wala na kaming binibili sa grocery masyado kasi ginagawa ko na lahat sa bahay. Mapa bread, pasta, ice cream, pizza crust, cakes, and all that!
  • Homemade Everything Series – During the early days of the lockdown I thought, “If I want something and I can’t go out to buy it, why can’t I just make it?” And that’s the beginning of my Homemade Everything and Andrei Recreates series. I wanted fettuccine but I can’t go out. I wanted lasagna. I wanted pizza. I wanted ice cream. But I can’t go out!!! Thank heavens our kitchen is complete and fully equipped so it was a breeze doing all of these goodies. My next goal is to make cheese from whole milk, and to make tomato sauce using fresh and homegrown tomatoes. I want to make a farm-to-table meal! Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver who? 
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My forever staple McChicken! Laging ito yung inoorder ko sa Mcdo when I was still in school. (Wow parang nagdrop out ako no?!) I recreated it using homemade brioche buns and the Cook-it-Yourself Chicken Fillet of Mcdonald’s!
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My own version of Conti’s Mango Bravo. This was my most liked post in What’s Your Ulam Pare? with almost 5k likes. Kinabahan nga ako kasi merong nagcomment na Conti yung apelyido. Siguro affiliated siya sa Conti’s. Don’t worry po, ‘di ko ‘to balak pagkakitaan. Haha!
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Mango Tart
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Black Forest Cake
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Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies. My all time favorite!
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Proof Bakery’s Chocolate Espresso Cake.
  • Andrei Recreates –  And since I have all the time in the world, I decided to recreate the food I’ve been wanting to eat. The ones posted here are actually just some of the famous desserts and food I tried to recreate. I’ve done a lot more but I did not document them because they were either too-good-i-wont-share or pic-is-too-ugly-i-wont-share. If we’re friends on Facebook just check them out!
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Sigurado ka bang na-quarantine ka kung hindi ka gumawa ng Dalgona coffee?
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Coffee cake for Tatang’s 70th.
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Coffee Crumble Ice cream from scratch!
  • Coffee Series – There’s this feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment when you brew your own cup of coffee in the morning. It’s also just this time that I realized na we have so much coffee at home. So what better way to use them than to make your own cup, and use them for a variety of recipes! It even got to a point where I want to invest in an espresso machine because I wanted to try latte art. Oh my love for arts and coffee. I take Kremil S after every cup though. 😛 

ArtVentures

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Bloom. (Paras, 2020)
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Initial draft of my denim jacket painting. As usual, ‘di rin naman ‘to nasundan talaga. 

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Nakukulangan pa ako this time so I added blue callalilies in the middle.
  • Denim Painting – I watched Netflix’s Next in Fashion during the early days of quarantine and I was inspired to upcycle some clothes I already have. And since I am also inspired by no-less-than Love Marie Ongpauco-Escudero, why not fuse my love for fashion with my love for arts? I got this denim jacket from a package we got months ago. It was an old one that I decided to give a new life by painting flowers on it. 
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Love Marie, pray for us. My new patron saint. Char.
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I painted Heart and the next morning, I woke up to her seeing my IG Story! I was so happy I got noticed by the queen!
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Bright from 2gether the Series
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Win from 2gether the Series
  • Coffee Paintings – This part should’ve been in the coffee series part earlier but I know that artworks are not edible so I placed them here instead. I’ve painted some of the people who made my quarantine life better. 
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I painted this in Autumn of 2014. Charot, walang Autumn dito. Basta ang natatandaan ko Grade 9 Sembreak ko ata ‘yun, Undas of 2014. Basta matagal na ‘to. Hahaha!
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FUN FACT: This painting was also used in one of the advertisements of AUF way back 2017. This was one of my Mom’s last projects before she resigned. They needed a painting so she brought my then work-in-progress painting.
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I almost ran out of paint trying to cover up the previous paintings. Quarantine lang pala ang gigising sa painting talent kong natutulog. Haha!
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#21DREI Initial draft.

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I’d call this painting my lucky number painting, inspired by the number 8. I drew 8 daisies, and shaped the vase like the number 8.
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Cue Katy Perry: “Cover me in daisies. Daisies. Daisiiiiieeeeeees.
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Daisies. Impressionism. (Paras, 2020)
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2020 (Paras, 2020). I decided to name it 2020 because I’ve long envisioned this year to be a bright, golden year but then again, the pandemic started to permeate all parts of our lives.
  • Back to work. – And since I’m doing my best to keep myself entertained this quarantine, I decided to finish my works in progress and start some new ones. The big canvas I used to paint 21DREI was six years old, the other ones were just reused because I don’t want to spend my money anymore. #magtipid. As of press time, I’m working on my biggest painting ever but I am not sure when will I be able to finish it because I’m having my online classes! 

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  • Restoring and Varnishing my old paintings. – I got myself a bottle of clear coat so I decided to protect all my old paintings. This way, they’d be easier to clean and all potential dirt won’t damage the artworks. Next goal would be getting all of them framed!
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This is how the bag looked before. It’s a Dune London tote bag we bought years ago. But since the leather is starting to chip off and the bag was already dying, I decided to resurrect it. Haha.

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  • Painting mom’s bag – And since I no longer want to invest in a canvas and my Love Marie complex is at an all time high, what better way to live through her life is to paint bags! I may not be painting an Hermès bag but at least ‘di ba? I can widen my range of artistic skills by painting bags. The original bag had cracks and chipped leather because it wasn’t well taken cared of, so I upcycled it by painting over it, just like how Heart did with her stained lizard-skin Birkin. 

Gardening

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All of these f–king died (except for the Aloe which I can’t eat) because of the Basils on the right. May dala silang COVID, nahawa yung mga katabi nila. Kidding aside, mukhang may fungal infection yung mga basil when they arrived. Ugh, dapat pala naka-quarantine rin. Char.
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I also tried to propagate my herbs using water. The Basil and Mint have developed roots but still died. Ugh.
  • My dreams of having a herb garden – Fresh herbs are very rare in groceries (they’re only available in high-end supermarkets) and are also a little bit pricey so I wanted to have my own plants. It gives me a sense of power when I use fresh herbs when I cook, what more when you harvest your own in your garden? Farm to table realness! Unfortunately, my plants died because of a fungal infection (or mildew, I think?) including the rosemary I bought last February. Ugh. Sucks. 

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  • Trying to plant from seed. –  Last May, I thought of planting herbs from seed because I really want to cook a farm to table meal. I’ve tried planting countless times, from Parsley to Cherry Tomatoes to Basil but then again…you guessed it…they did not germinate at all. I think it’s because of the soil, my watering technique, or the seeds were expired. But I never lost the motivation to keep plants so I sowed some seeds on my birthday and now I’m in the process of growing a basil plant! Finally, after many many failed attempts and dead plants, I’m able to grow a plant from seed! I’m also waiting for my Dill and Chives seeds to germinate soon. I can’t wait for them to grow so I can use them in the kitchen. 

Turning 21

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You all know that I turned 21 in the way I did not initially plan. Maybe this is what God wanted for me, and whatever He wants, I’d gladly accept. Prior to the 8th of July, I went out for a pre-birthday treat with my parents then I cooked for my birthday dinner celebration at home. As part of my 21st, I was also given the creative freedom to redesign and renovate my room in lieu of my forthcoming online classes. Months ago, I only wanted one out of the three things I mentioned earlier. I remember telling myself, “when I turn 21, I have to choose only one gift—retail therapy, good food and company, or a room makeover.” And boy, I didn’t know I’d be getting all three, and guess what made my 21st even better? Taylor Swift also dropped her surprise album, folklore. Ahhh, I’m living! Best birthday and birth month ever. #21DREI

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My choices for my 21st Birthday Cake.
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As usual, none of these actually went into fruition. Ewan ko ba, plano plano pa ako pero hindi rin naman ito yung mga sinusundan ko. 
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Since none of my initial flavor profiles were chosen, I started from scratch yet again and came up with this. I chose red velvet para swerte! Hahaha. I know red is a lucky color! And because I don’t want my cake to be too sweet, I just designed my cake with whipped cream. I have this weird obsession with cakes topped with whipped cream. They just taste better and lighter.
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I admit, it wasn’t as pretty as I thought it would be. It does not look like how I imagined it. Maybe because I expected it to have strawberries but there were none available that time. The cake tasted good nonetheless!
  • Designing and baking my cake. – Being the very hands-on artist that I am, of course I’d be the one planning, designing, and baking my own cake. Actually, itong birthday ko para siyang group work na isang tao lang lahat ng gumawa. Ganung levels ko itong sineryoso. Joke, katulong ko mga pinsan at pamilya ko! Hahahaha.
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I even made a menu for my birthday dinner! I’m THAT extra.
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Charcuterie board is love! Fun fact: I love blue cheese kahit lasa daw siyang sira. I love cheese in all forms, shapes, and sizes.

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My other fancy birthday cake. A caviar pie with smoked salmon rosettes. 
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Mom’s prawn thermidor has become a staple in our meals. We never run out of seafood and we just cook these when we feel like it. Looove!
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Belly pot roast. Slow cooked and hickory style!
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Smoked salmon in lemon, garlic, and butter, with asparagus on the side. Heaven. Imagine the taste of tinapa and salmon in one dish? Perfect combo. I love tinapa and salmon equally. Hihi.
  • Cooking my birthday dinner feast. – I planned this birthday menu a month before my birthday. I really really made sure that I’ll eat salmon on my dinner celebration. Just imagine how tired I was when I cooked and prepared almost all of these dishes! 
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What would I do without Pinterest?
  • Renovating my room – Here’s the mood board I chose for my room makeover! I can’t and won’t post the before and after photos of my room here because I value privacy (even if I’m an open book). I believe that my personal space is not for public consumption. Just imagine how it looks! The makeover is not actually done yet because I’m still waiting for my new room decor and my other room essentials. I’m also waiting for my paintings to be framed! 

 

And that ends this post! If you reached this part, thank you. Please please please stay at home as much as you can. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Take your vitamins. Practice social and physical distancing. Keep safe always. Til the next post! 

 

Love,

H1

 

21DREI

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This is not what I want and absolutely not what I planned.

I wanted a party. A feast. An opportunity to dress up and wear another design of mine. A chance to see my friends all glammed up. A way to gather all my family and friends complete. I wanted to celebrate my 21st in the best way possible, who doesn’t? But then again, COVID-19 happened. This pandemic robbed me off of one of the most important moments in my life. I guess it’s normal to feel so frustrated and disappointed after wasting all the planning and anticipation I did in the past two years.

However painful, the onslaught of this pandemic could also be a fortuitous event that made me realize that what I wanted was just the superficial, the shallow, the fleeting, and the brief illusion of having it all. Things may not have gone my way but I have learned to shift my attention on the more important things—family, health, and safety.

I may have failed to gather all my friends, but at least my family is complete. I may not have a fancy and lavish dinner party, but at least we’re all healthy and doing well. I may not have spent a birthday weekend in a hotel room, but at least I’m safe at home. I may not be having a good time in one of my favorite places, but at least I’m not isolated inside a hospital room. The Little Prince once said, “what is essential is invisible to the eye. At the end of the day, a plan delayed is not a plan denied. I believe that God has better and greater plans.

On a lighter note, the classic and beautiful quote “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” from Mulan has inspired me to get back to painting after 6 years on hiatus. This painting is also like a birthday gift to myself instead of having other mementos. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder of how I’ve spent and immortalized these times.

One thing the pandemic taught me is to bloom where I am planted. I was able to grow where God has placed me, despite the uncertainty. However, I fully acknowledge my privilege when I say these things, I know that not everyone has the capability or the means to just do things as they please when people all over the world are actually dying. The past four months I spent at home taught me to utilize all my innate talents and skills, not only for my personal development or financial gain, but also for the common good. I’m able to help my family financially, help flatten the curve by staying home, help our relatives to have a source of income, help in spreading awareness about the current situation, to name a few. Now that I am finally 21, I know that God has blessed me to become a blessing.


Above all else, thank You Lord for another year in my life. And for keeping us all safe and healthy amidst a terrifying health crisis. Thank You for watching over me and guiding me to where I am now, I know that I will be able to conquer anything through Your everlasting grace and love. Your will be done.

Thank you Mom and Dad just for everything. I won’t be living the kind of life I have right now if it weren’t for both of you. Thank you. Saranghaeyo.

Thank you to everyone who remembered me and greeted me today. I appreciate you all. Keep safe, stay at home, and always wash your hands. See you in my next blog post.

 

Love,

H1

21 Things I Learned Before Turning 21

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It was the end of a decade, but a start of an age. In light of 8 months before my 21st birthday, I got inspired by that girl in a red lip classic thing that I like to share 21 things I learned before turning two decades and one. These are some of the things I’ve essentially realized and have noted down whilst on the way home, in the middle of a class, or just whenever and wherever these thoughts come into my mind. Let’s get down to business and allow me to share twenty-one things I learned before I turn twenty-one. This 2020, fly with me to my roaring twenties.


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ONEI’d rather waste money than waste time. When money is spent, it can be earned back. But when time is gone, it’s gone forever. Wasting time perpetually infuriates me. If I could only purchase time, or avail the wasted time of other people, then I definitely would. And I’d be able to do everything I need and want to. It’s so sad you can’t recycle wasted time.

TWOInvesting in expensive things isn’t being materialistic, it’s being quality-oriented. In  today’s very consumerist society, I’d rather invest on something expensive but will last, rather than buy something cheap over and over again. Come on, why don’t we choose sustainability? It’s almost 2020. Try computing the cost per wear of your clothes and shoes so you have an idea if they are really worth it. In addition, buying things in bulk saves you more money in the long run. Do the math before every purchase, it’s definitely worth the painstaking calculations.

THREE

If you won’t do it well, then don’t do it at all. Do things with passion, purpose, and love. Never do something just to pass the bare minimum.

 

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FOUR

 

Moisturizing is a must. Be it your skin, your hair, your lips, or even your personality. A good moisturizer is a good investment. Life is too short to be dry as fck. The moment my second year in college began, I started to invest in good facial moisturizers and eye creams to spare my face from all-nighters. Right now, I swear by Ponds Age Miracle as my eye cream and my fine lines have been visibly reduced. I wish I could unlock the fountain of youth.

FIVEEnjoy and trust the process. The first time I took Psychology, I had second thoughts about shifting or dropping out. But looking at it now, I am enjoying it so much and I can’t thank myself enough for staying. Sometimes, you have to look forward to the means, not just the ends. The journey may be long and tedious but the destination becomes more beautiful when you appreciate how you got there. And when you appreciate the people who help you get there.

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SIX

Your loved ones’ happiness should also be your happiness. It takes a lot of maturity to be genuinely happy for the successes and joys of your loved ones. I feel with them when they go through something else, so when they feel really happy, I am also happy.

 

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SEVENTraditional over digital. Printed photos, handwritten letters and poems, longhand diary entries, and printed books are so much better as compared to their digital counterparts. There is that hint of nostalgia or happiness elicited when you can physically browse pictures and jot down your thoughts using pen and paper. I have so much respect for the written word and I hope and pray that my writings will go see the light of day soon.

EIGHTBe a gracious host. Bring out the best plates, light up scented candles, cook the best food, bake the best goodies. Be a good host. Ever since the receiving area at home was built, I have this urge to invite my friends over and cook for them. It’s such an ‘adult’ thing to do and it’s very new and rare to me because I am an introvert. Nevertheless, I know this is something I can do this for the rest of my life.

NINEYour parents are the best friends you’ll ever haveI always assure that they will be the first ones (aside from my inner circle) to know if I am currently going through something. This is just one of the biggest realizations I’ve learned this year as I’ve opened up about my anxiety, my failures, and regrets to both my mom and dad. Your parents will always be the ones who will watch over you.

TENGo through it and grow through it. This is exactly how you learn. How do you even know the feeling of successfully surviving something scary without even going through it in the first place?

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ELEVENAccept that sickness, deterioration, and death are part of life. These used to be my biggest fears. They still are, but I’ve learned how to accept them. When I was younger, I view death and sickness as life’s “abnormalities”. There’s just no room for them. I once believed that life is all about happiness and strength that I forgot that we’re all born to die. I’ve slowly accepted that these things really happen, and are bound to happen. We can never be truly safe. It’s about what you do in that dash between the two dates on your tombstone.

finalTWELVETake a little peek into the future. It can be imagining yourself on your graduation day, or visualizing your 25th birthday, or planning your parents’ silver wedding anniversary. It’s good to zoom out and see into the future and just simply think that good things are yet to happen. And it makes you leave everything in the past because what can we do over spilled milk, right?

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THIRTEENSugar is the best spice. Ironic, I know. There’s just that sweet magic when you add a dash of sugar to everything you cook. No disrespect to salt and pepper, but I think I’ve found a better partner. Sugar is like the white t-shirt of the culinary world. It’s very universal and versatile and goes along well with any dish.

FOURTEENRecreating old photos or replying to your old posts or tweets is like talking to your old selfIt’s like a time capsule. “Hey, this is how far you’ve come. Your life is so much better than it was then, you already got what you are praying for.” It’s a gentle reminder of how much you’ve developed or how much your life has changed for better or for worse.

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FIFTEENIt’s not about the glass being half full or half empty. It’s about filling it up again. It’s okay to have periods of sadness, brokenness, emptiness and the general feeling of being so lost in translation. It’s normal and it makes you human. Cry it all out. But always remember that bad days are not forever. You will always find your way to happiness. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

SIXTEENIf the day hasn’t ended yet, there’s still hope. I’ve learned not to dwell or waste my time and energy on bad things happening. As long as the day hasn’t ended yet, there can still be something good that might happen and eventually improve my mood. It’s wrong to punish yourself for something that isn’t entirely your fault.

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SEVENTEENKeep your creative juices flowing by taking down notes. I always get ideas out of nowhere and I try to preserve these by jotting them down on my planner or my notes app. They’re usually about outfit ideas, random quotes or lessons, recipe ideas, event planning, blog post titles, and random things. Whenever I think of a good cake design, I draw them and note what ingredients I’m going to be using if I make them. Whenever I have ideas about menswear, I also draw them on my planner. I also write down my dreams the moment I wake up every morning and sometimes I interpret them on my own. This way I can document my ideas without trying to remember them because they’re all archived.

 

EIGHTEEN

Yellow is such a beautiful color. It’s only now that I realized that I wear too much monochromatic colors that I underestimate other colors. Yellow is something that makes me feel happy and bright. It’s also a color that flatters my skin tone so that being said, I promise to wear more yellow.

NINETEENPerfumes are the best time capsules. Just like how listening to old music, it’s amazing how certain scents bring back a lot of memories. Whenever I smell Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren, I get transported back to those days when I was 11 feeling giddy for an upcoming flight. Same goes with Zara Seoul Sinsa eau de toilette, I get flashbacks from my last days in high school. Earlier this year, I chose Davidoff Silver Shadow Altitude and it instantly brings nostalgia from those days I  listen to thank u, next as I arrive one hour early for my 7 a.m. classes. It’s a good idea to change perfumes every year. “Oh this reminds me of 2010! Oh, this smells like 2018.” #nostalgic

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TWENTYNever be afraid to be honest. And to speak about your insecurities, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. If I were to mention some of the greatest things I’ve learned lately, it would be to live truthfully as possible, be straightforward about your choices, and be firm with your decisions. You do you. There will always be a friend who’s ready to listen to you and I’m lucky I have a lot of them. It’s definitely okay to ask for help. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to and that’s it. We just need to let it all out.

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TWENTY ONETake the risk or lose the chance?  Turning Twenty has taught me to never bottle up your feelings and be so engulfed with your emotions. Let people know how you really feel about them, it’s actually a lot better than playing mind games. Honestly, you wouldn’t be afraid to risk something if you know you have nothing to lose. Would you rather know something and regret it forever and ever or never know it and forever wonder?


Written by: Andrei Paras (July – October 2019)

Shoot locations: Clark Marriott Hotel, Bonifacio Global City, Cafe Dia, Angeles University Foundation.