The Recipe for a Psychology Major

Over the course of my four year navigation in the world of Psychology, I have also traversed over different creative pursuits aside from the study of human behavior. In my case, it was the world of Gastronomy that became my escape from the uphill journey to Psychological proficiency.

In the typical Andrei Paras fashion of merging two different worlds together, this blog post is intended to bridge the gap between Psychology and Gastronomy—resulting in this recipe for a psychology major that is Andrei himself.

Allow me to share the ingredients of the recipe I’ve developed over the last couple of years.


Calories: 2022 calories

Preparation time: 2 years

Cooking Time: 4 years

Ingredients:

Flour

Just as flour is sifted to get rid of lumps and to have a smoother texture, before I entered college, I sifted my choices and filtered all the possibilities so I’d have a smoother experience.

I had a lot of courses in mind, but there were three programs I was mostly leaning towards. I considered taking up Communication because of my journalism background in Cor Unum and my stints in DSPC. And partly because mom finished the same course, I thought that she would be able to guide me. Next, I also wanted to take up Hotel and Restaurant Management because of Old Town and because I love food and fancy stuff in general. However, I took up STEM in senior high, so I thought I might struggle with business subjects in college. Last, I was very interested in Psychology and I know that it’s a diverse field and I can pursue different paths should I choose it.

Long story short, it was Psychology that ended up passing through the sieve. If you have been following my blog for years, you know that it came to a point where I wanted to become a dermatologist because of my undying love for skin care. But then again, I am also bound to run the business. Hence, I was confused. Either I’d pursue medicine or I’d pursue the business. It was Psychology that became the balancing act. I thought to myself, “I can use it as a pre-med course and I can also use it for the business.

It was in this school event that I first shared how interested I am in Psychology. This was in March 2017. Lo and behold, our guest in the seminar ended up being one of my profs in college—Ma’am June de Leon.
This event was my first impromptu hosting. I was notified the same day that I’d be in charge, and I wrote my spiels right before the event. Little did I know it would be a serendipitous event for my Psych journey.

Sifting my course choices was one thing, sifting my choices for university was another. As I continued to narrow down my choices, I applied to Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines—only to not make it to the cut because I admit I didn’t prepare enough. It was AUF that became my saving grace. AUF, again, passed through the sieve.

Me and my high school friends in our remaining days in high school.

Initially, I was interested in Psych because of the LINGAP services in HFA. Familians know this too well. Akala ko dati, kapag Psychology ka, ang trabaho mo is to give advice, to analyze personality and behavior, and to administer all those tests. Boy, I was so wrong. So so wrong! I even thought na I’d learn how to hypnotize people if I study Psych! Hahaha! Budol-budol lang pala sa shopping ang matututuhan ko!

I remember way back 8th grade, my friend Yan, or Duys, as we call her, owns a Kokology book. It is a Japanese game, like a projective test, where you’ll be given various situations and then choose among the answers based on your gut feeling. In short, your answer would reveal your unconscious intent and personality. It was fun. My friends and I would gather around reading it and trying to decipher each situation and figure out our personalities. I think it was this book that preluded my interest in psychology.

Me on the way home after my high school creative shoot. I remember how eager I was to document my last few days in HFA. It was in these moments when I still couldn’t process the fact that I’ll be finally leaving for college.
Graduation Day 2018.
How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22?

Writing this down got me reading my blog entries from high school and walk down memory lane. Looking at it now, if I could talk to my 16 year old self, he’d be so proud of how far I’ve come and that the things happening to him all prepared him for his future journey in Psych.


Eggs

Just as eggs give structure, form, and volume to breads and pastries, the things I learned in SHS coupled with my innate talents and capabilities have prepared me to stand firm and strong in college. These are what I’d call the “eggs” in my recipe for Psychology.

Before entering college, I have always said that the K12 program was also a blessing in disguise as it gave me ample time to decide which path I’d take. In which case, Psychology still ended up being my choice.

I knew that the lessons and experiences in my extra two years in high school would be beneficial in my quest for Psychological knowledge. Be it in research (I’m very thankful for the intensive training in research I had in HFA), journalism (Psychology requires one to have an extensive vocabulary and stellar writing skills), leadership, and the arts. I knew that these were the “eggs” that would hatch and emerge as time goes by. I owe it to HFA for instilling in me the discipline and diligence I have for academics. I would not have it any other way.

No turning back. This was my Instagram story on the day I officially enrolled. I was still in disbelief that I’m finally a college student. I remember Ma’am Che asking me why I chose Psychology, and I answered “to have a better understanding of myself and other people.”
In my first year in college, I was still fixated in high school. I missed the familiarity, the routine, and the friends I interacted with for six (even twelve) years. I even rationalized why I felt this way, it was probably due to the fact that we overstayed for 2 years. When I entered AUF, it took a year for me to finally detach myself from my HFA fixation. I would even visit HFA when I had free time during my first year.
Me and my fellow Psych Familians. My first friends in college—Micalaine, Hazel, Camille, and Lims. We fulfilled our dream of visiting HFA as alumni and finally using a visitor’s pass to enter the campus. Nostalgic!

Although all the “eggs” were ready to hatch, it was mostly the academic eggs that I was able to cultivate further. My college life was mostly academics, and I no longer involved myself in extra curricular activities because studying Psych was already too overwhelming. I’d be spreading myself too thin if I involved myself in other endeavors. Apart from that, there were only few opportunities around. I didn’t join the school publication anymore, I didn’t get to host an event, nor did I dare join the university pageant. All of which were also halted further because of the pandemic. This blog also took a back seat. I was just focused on reading books.

I love how we were given the freedom to play with the microscopes in the lab, which we did not experience in high school. I’d literally examine anything under the microscope. Be it a leaf, a hair strand, or paper. I enjoyed this subject so much!
Pangarap ko talagang manusok at mag-dissect ng mga echoserang frog. Char!
NSTP Graduation

My first year in Psych was all about academics, and to an extent, baking. It was either baking or Psychology. Nothing in between. Dissect ng frog sa morning, dissect ng cake in the evening. Hahaha!

It came to a point where my love for my Zoology class met my passion for baking. It was ambitious of me to attempt doing a cake model of animal and plant cells with my very novice cake making skills. Thankfully, I was able to pull it off and this became my first shining moment in class. Haha! Worth the three day experiment!
Back then, I was seriously thinking of dropping out to pursue baking. But I feel like I’d be a failure should I quit and not finish Psychology. Na parang it’s such a shame na hindi ko siya tatapusin after spending time and effort to study and enroll. Pero ayun nga, wala naman akong ibang school na mapupuntahan so I just learned how to love Psych while pursuing my passion.
Cue the Tiktok “these came from my hand.”
Even before the pandemic, naka-face mask na talaga ako. I’m on THAT level na before COVID. LOL.
Lab classes during the day, baking classes sa gabi. Haha!
The best seller Momofuku Milk Bar cake, which was Taylor Swift’s all time favorite.

Apart from my world of Psychology books and lectures, the presence of Old Town further intensified my interest in gastronomy. And because of the pandemic, my culinary talent has gone to new heights. It was the culinary and pastry eggs (and actual eggs, lol) that cracked during the lockdown. In short, may incongruence ang course ko at ang passion ko. Haha!

Garlic bread, pasta, pizza >
My 21st birthday which was celebrated far differently from what I initially planned.
Mango tart during mango szn.
My first time baking puff pastry from scratch. Not bad for a first timer. Nakakaloka because these were so difficult to make.
Oh ‘di ba, saan ka nakakita ng Psych major na todo effort gumawa ng Charcuterie board?! Haha!

Apart from food, the pandemic also gave me the opportunity to return to my love for the arts. I would like to believe that the lockdown unleashed my creativity. I did this while still studying Psychology online. Crazy how I used to juggle all these before. I had all the time in the world.

I painted on a denim jacket. Ala Love Marie!
Two of the paintings I did before turning 21. These two are now displayed in my room.

It was in the course of my journey in Psych that I really expanded my skill set, and the pandemic even intensified this need of mine to know more things related to my craft. I’d rather be able to do a lot of things and not just excel in one, rather than excel in one thing and suck at doing everything else. I have always believed na maganda rin yung marami kang alam gawin para marami kang choices in the future, yun nga lang, minsan mahirap pumili ng career. Haha!


Butter

Smooth. Fatty. Indulgent. Pleasurable. Positively reinforcing. Dopamine inducing. Serotonin boosting. My oxygen. My life. Cheret! When warranted, I always see to it that I still have time for self-care and leisure. Pero minsan sumosobra nga eh. Char ulit. I’ve always believed in the power of reinforcement and punishment. Oh, BF Skinner, be proud of me. Matagal ko ng ina-apply yung concepts mo sa buhay ko. To strengthen good behavior, dapat may reward ‘di ba?! Otherwise, mabu-burnout ako! I don’t let it reach that point naman. Just because life is hard does not mean you have to deprive yourself. Sabi nga ni Karen Horney, a form of self-hatred is self-frustration! No no!

When things were rough and life was tough, these were the moments that made my life smooth like butter (BTS pun intended).

Went out for snacks with my friends after we finished our Psychological Assessment test construction. Then Ai also treated us with cake! It’s just sad that weeks after this, the lockdown happened. Kung wala sigurong pandemic, nakarami na kami ng desserts!
Ai’s birthday celeb. I missed eating here with my friends. Sinigang was our go-to meal, along with Stephen’s daily Coca Cola fix. Ugh memories!
Jamaica’s birthday! We surprised her before we had our chem lab.
Lance’s birthday naman was celebrated over Korean food.
Okay Via isasama na kita dito kahit bago lang ‘to, baka sabihin mo nakalimutan ka na naman. HAHAHA. Di mo kasi kami niremind!! Buti na lang nagkita pa tayo the next day kaya nabigyan kita ng something! Hahaha!
Totoo bang college student ka kung hindi part ng college life mo ang kumain sa Mcdo after class?
Jollibee > Mcdo. Fight me. Jollibee is love. Jollibee is life. Forever and ever. Amen.
The four of us believed that this was our last meal in the old normal. But it was not. This was taken a week earlier than March 10, pero nung March 10 kasi dito rin kami kumain. Kaya nung naghahanap kami ng old normal pictures, akala namin ito yung last. So ayun. Mandela effect realness.
This was the last place na sama sama kaming kumain ng friends ko before the world changed. Grabe. Di ko akalain na yun na yung last meal namin as normal university students. Abnormal na kasi kaming lahat ngayon. Charot!

Before COVID happened, my friends and I have a tradition of celebrating little accomplishments by eating out. Mapa-exam yan, project, birthday celebration, name it, we would always gather around food and enjoy each other’s company. This is also what the Psych department promotes—that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is very important. We’d treat ourselves with food, online shopping, or a salon day, basically anything that makes us happy! Satisfied dapat yung basic needs!

My 2018 self did not lie.
Ai’s wedding. This was our first time seeing each other since the lockdown. Halata namang takot na takot ako ma-COVID sa picture na ‘to ‘di ba.
I also prepared a garden dinner for my friends earlier last year, since COVID kind of slowed down that time. This was the only time I saw them in 2021. I can’t join them outside since we were not yet vaccinated then, and we (my family) were also taking care of Tang that time, he was immunocompromised because of his cancer. Kaya ayun, I can’t bear it if may magkasakit sa family dahil lang lumabas ako with friends.
Ito yung day na sinabi sa akin na kinabukasan na agad yung Clinical OJT ko and wala pa akong white uniform noong time na ‘to. Imagine my stress habang nagsha-shopping sa Nuvali. Walang alarm walang anything OJT agad!

When the pandemic slowed down, I only go out with my family. I was not allowed to have coffee with friends. And super inggit ako sa mga nakakapasyal at nakakapag-gathering. It was only in 2021 that my family and I dined out for the first time. But then again, marami pa ring surge and variants last year so limited lang din. But now that the situation is becoming normal, and because we all have our vaccines and boosters, we have slowly explored and compensated for the years we were locked inside.

Casually going to IKEA because there’s a power outage at home. Dapat may pasok nung day na ‘to eh, pero pinakiusap ko kaya ayun, unofficial holiday. LOL.
Chilling at Swissotel kahit first quiz ko sa PCA ng Abnormal Psychology the next day. Buti na lang may binigay na handouts si Doc Renz, and madali lang yung quiz niya…so far.
Tagaytay muna bago ko iyakan yung result ng Quiz 2 ng Abnormal Psych. Hindi naman ako bagsak, pero yun yung first line of 7 ko sa lahat ng quiz sa PCA. Kaya ayun, I attributed my “failure” to my going to Tagaytay instead of reading anxiety disorders. LOL.
Na-cancel ang IO class for Leni. Thankfully, lahat kami Kakampink, including my teachers and friends. So ayun, kalahati ng class nasa rally pero wala akong nakita ni isa sa kanila. Totoo yung 220k, wag kayong ano!
Christening of my new inaanak, Franco. Another time to catch up since it’s my first time to see my college friends this year. Sorry Ai, nagbabasa kami ng Psych Assessment ni Stephen nung binyag ng anak mo. HAHA.
My first time seeing my high school besties since God knows when! We found ourselves having afternoon coffee in Marriott dahil puno sa ibang cafe. We have to go out again!
Din Tai Fung muna bago iyakan yung result ng election. Nakaubos ata ako ng isang tray ng xiao long bao dito. Haha!

When the PCA started, I thought my world would just revolve around it, that I won’t have the time to go out and have fun, that I’d just lock myself at home reading and studying. I was wrong, mas marami pa yata akong napuntahan during the PCA season than last year combined. Yup. Ganung level. Partida na-surgery pa yung tuhod ko in the middle of it ha. Kaya yung anxiety ko bago mag-mock boards all time high kasi feeling ko babagsak ako dahil pasyal ako ng pasyal.

Mom and Dad’s anniversary celebration at Maranao.
When the online classes began, my goal was to survive and finish without buying a new laptop. The one I’ve been using was from 9th grade pa. It turned 7 years old this year, kung bata siya, Grade 1 na siya ngayon. But then again, hindi na niya kinaya at sobrang bagal niya na so my dad bought me a new one. Kahit patapos na school year, binili pa rin niya ako. Pero yung latter days ko in school F2F na. Hahaha! In short, for aesthetic purposes na lang ‘to. Char!

I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me and providing me with more than what I need. Siguro naging tradition na rin talaga namin as a family to implement a reward system, even if it’s just a small achievement or award in school, we’d celebrate, cook, go out or whatever. We’ve been doing this since time immemorial. And I think that really helped too, on a personal level, because when something motivates you, you’ll work harder to achieve what you want. In short, hindi lang naman ako puro capricho and kaartehan, I would proudly say that whatever it is I am enjoying right now, I worked hard for it. I earned it. Pinapakita ko talaga na I deserve whatever it is I may be asking for. (Talagang nag-justify pa eh no!)


Sugar

It’s close to impossible to bake without sugar. Sugar provides sweetness, balance, and gives moisture to baked goods. Sugar is absolutely essential!

To analogize, I’d compare our dreams and aspirations to sugar, as they give us a taste of the sweet moments in our life. In this regard, you can’t achieve something without dreaming of it first. We feel a sense of direction when we set goals, plan, and dream of that sweet life. Once they’re all set and we’re ready, it’s time to do everything to let them come to fruition. In my case, the life I can see ahead of me literally involves a truckload amount of sugar. Lo and behold, the sugars in my life are as follows.

Excerpt from my 2018 blog post. This was my mantra for college, that my parents would get the best seat on my graduation day. Weird, I know, but it helped. Dapat feel mo empowered ka, para ma-boost yung morale mo, para yung good and positive energy yung ma-attract mo.
My nameplate! Feeling ko talaga nung na-receive ko ‘to totoong college student na ako kasi dati naiinggit ako sa ibang courses na may nameplate tapos naka all-white uniform. When I got this nameplate, I’ve envisioned my name with the letters RPm sa dulo.
Selfie muna habang nagre-review with friends sa DR. Of course, to maintain my academic performance, review dapat! I missed reviewing here with my friends.

In my early days in Psychology, I planned on taking the board exams after I graduate. Everything I’ve written on my journals all say the same thing, that I wanted three extra letters after my name. But looking at it now, I am quite unsure. I think the pandemic also affected this plan, that the things I learned online won’t suffice and that the preparation I had was not enough. Maybe the pandemic redirected me to what is really for me. As of this writing, I am still unsure what to do. But one thing’s for sure—my future job would require me to wear white, and would literally involve sugar.

Syempre to make myself feel like a cOnYo cOLLeGe sTuDeNt, magre-review ako sa Starbucks. Pero ayun, mas mataas yung bayad ko sa kape kesa sa score ko. Ems! ‘Di ko talaga ma-gets kung paano nakakapag-focus yung iba sa binabasa nila eh ang ingay kaya sa mga coffee shop!
Of course, as someone with needs for law & order sabi nga ni Maslow, may schedule rin ako for the things I have to accomplish. I can’t function without structure. #Conscientiousness char
I can’t recall how much money (and time) I spent para lang mapa-print and bind lahat ng reviewers na ‘to. Malaki rin yung kinita ni Mauchi sa akin ha. Char! Siguro kung ‘di pa nagka-pandemic, mas marami ‘to and mas pagagandahin ko pa. Nakakapagod rin ‘to ha, imagine I carry all of these in one plastic envelope everyday habang nagco-commute!
f2f mood 4evs. Thank you Stephen for taking this pic, ayan may documentation ako of my different states of consciousness.
Fresh at 7am! Waiting for our Psych Assessment class. I arrive at school as early as 6 am to read my books sa stone benches. Grabe. Kahit nakakapagod, I miss those days. Tapos biglang nagbago lahat dahil sa COVID.

Because of the abrupt shift in education, we were all forced to study at home. But we didn’t think it would last this long. Akala namin before na the lockdown would only last for two weeks to a month and they’d be able to control the virus. Mali na naman kami. Two weeks mo naging two years! In whatever scenario, tuloy pa rin ang pangarap. Aral pa rin.

My room renovation also further intensified my aesthetic needs, and as Maslow claims, when they are not met, I become sick. Not literally sick, but I can’t stand disorganized and dirty spaces anymore. Eventually, the whole house got revamped because of me.
I’ve used this lifetime table since high school. I can’t believe that there was a time na ganito itsura ng study setup ko.

And since the lockdown extended, I have decided to renovate my room and have a proper study setup. I am lucky enough to have parents who supported me in this project. Nahihirapan na rin kasi ako with my old bed kasi lumalagpas na paa ko. I can’t sleep well! So ayun, everything was custom, even my desk. Kaya pinush na namin yung renovation talaga. In July 2020, I painted my whole room with the help of my cousin. Then over the next few months I slowly decorated it and as of this writing, it’s looking better than it ever was. I knew I had to invest in this because the pandemic would take time before it ends, and that I can’t bear studying and working in a disorganized place.

In 2019, we were told that once we pass our qualifying exams, we’d finally switch to an all-white uniform. Thing is, there’s no existing uniform design for Psych. So I thought I’d design one and submit them to the department. Na-approve naman, pero….coronavirus happened. Naputol yung excitement ko. Nakaka-gwapo kasi yung all-white uniform eh. #feelingmedstudent lol
Since the pandemic happened, the department decided not to push through with the qualifying exams anymore since we were all trying to survive the new learning setup. So I thought, wala na, drawing na lang talaga yung white uniform.
Surprise! The Clinical OJT happened and we were required to have our white uniforms done. Ahhh, na-fulfill yung pangarap kong mag-all white. Yun nga lang nasa bahay ako. Kaya ayun, nagmukha akong caregiver! No charot!

Since I just couldn’t let go of my love for clothes, I was ecstatic when they announced that we have the chance to design our white uniform. And as your resident fashion enthusiast, cinareer ko talaga. I was so happy when the white uniform design came into fruition. I just wished we had more f2f classes para sana nasulit ko siya.

School OJT. This is the most memorable setting for me since it’s our first f2f duty since the lockdown. And I got to spend it with my friends! ❤
This is how we looked like in white uniforms. Oh ‘di ba nakakaganda at nakakagwapo! Akala ng mga bata may vaccination or purga drive kami. Hahaha! Niloloko ko pa mga students ko na isu-swab test ko sila. LOL. Tinawag pa akong doc nung guard ng school! Nacacaloca!
Special shoutout to Angelyn na kasama ko sa lahat ng OJT setting. ❤
The last leg of my college life. I told myself that I have to pass the PCA since it’s the make or break subject. At wala talaga akong choice kung hindi ipasa siya!! I did everything, and nilabanan ko lahat ng anxiety and self-doubt at halos mabaliw na ako sa kaka-overthink. I would proudly say that this is, by far, the bravest thing I’ve done.

Alfred Adler’s theory of personality postulates that we all experienced feelings of inferiority at one point in our lives, hence we try to compensate and strive for success. In layman’s term, you will try to compensate for what you might have lacked earlier in life.

It was this theory that applied to what I experienced in the last two graduation ceremonies I had. When I finished elementary, I went home empty-handed because my final average didn’t make the cut. I told myself that once I finish high school, I’d get all the awards I can possibly get. Then came 2018, my average was beyond my goal. However, it was my grade in Physics that pulled me down from the ranks. Instead of graduating with high honors, I finished with distinction. But I still garnered all the other merits.

It was during these moments that I’d implicitly declare to the universe what I wanted to happen in the future. And…..!

These two experiences got me thinking that in college, I must (yes, must) finish with flying colors. This was the fictional finalism I have embedded in my mind, that I have to compensate for what I “lacked” before. It was such a dream. Take note, I imposed this on myself, and my parents do not demand anything from me. It was me who set these standards. Baka i-chismis niyo ako na pine-pressure ako ng mga magulang ko! I told myself that I’ll only graduate college once, so I better do everything to make it worthwhile.


Yeast

The bread won’t rise without yeast. However, without the sugar, the yeast won’t have anything to feed on, therefore it won’t thrive. As the yeast feeds on the sugar, there would be no way but up. Hence the bread rises. Without the sweet dreams and goals, coupled with hard work and determination, I won’t rise to the peak experiences I’ve had in the course of my stay in the Psychology program.

My first college recognition day. It was unfortunately my last face to face school-wide recognition.
does it ever drive you crazy…
…just how fast the night changes
When I was in first year, I was forced to join a science quiz bee by my prof. I was so afraid because the results would affect my Chem grade daw, so, dapat sumali at manalo kami para may extra points. In the end, my group emerged as the 3rd runner up naman. Super takot ako sa Chem and Physics dahil sila yung nanira ng average ko in HS, that’s why in college I still feel anxious at ayokong maulit ‘yun. Thankfully, wala na yung sumpa.
Class of 2018. 6/6 With Honors!
Will never not be grateful for my alma mater.

In my first year in college, I kept on thinking about how I should utilize my Familian training. I always tell myself that I can’t let my alma mater down, which made me want to do better and excel further because my performance in college would reflect what I learned from HFA. Eh sa HFA kasi, lagi nilang sinasabi sa amin na pag college ka na, madali na lang dahil maaga kaming na-train at nadisiplina sa HFA. Eh yun yung tumatak sa ‘kin, na dapat mapanindigan ko ‘yung standard na ‘yon. Kaya ayun. In short, we were primed that Familians do really well in their respective universities. Magaling ang self-fulfilling prophecies ng mga Benedictine sisters! Pygmalion effect is real!

I found these when I transferred to my current room. O ‘di ba, dagdag pressure pa! Upon seeing the awards mom got when she were in college, I told myself that I have to do better, if not as well as she’s done. Nasa dugo pala namin ang archetype ni Bobbie Salazar as a corporate communications manager with an extensive vocabulary. Charot!

Furthermore, because mom has been with AUF for 25 years, whatever I do in college would also be a reflection of her. In short, wala talaga akong choice kung hindi ayusin ang studies ko because I can’t let her down. I can’t afford to fail or do something bad, because whatever I do would gravitate back to her. And hello, ayoko namang i-chismis ako nga mga former colleagues niya and ng Angeles clan na I’m not as good or excellent! Besides, I went to college for free because of her! I have a full scholarship, kaya I really can’t afford to fail or slack off because I should prove them that I deserve that merit.

Well, conscientious and studious naman talaga ako, and I know that mom and my HFA experience do not directly cause my academic performance. Siguro lalo lang nare-reinforce yung good study habits ko dahil sa mga iniisip kong ‘to.

In August 2019, JCI Angeles held an exhibit in SM Telabastagan and my artworks were included! These were the artworks I donated before graduating high school and it’s so good to see them in this event after so long. I hope that whoever owns them will treasure them!
This is me in PAPJA 2020. I was sent off by the department as a finalist for the quiz bee, but things did not go our way. We just watched and enjoyed the program.
PAPJA 2020 team! This is the second time I was tasked to join a quiz bee again. But this time, about Psychology. So wala na yung trauma kagaya nung sa Chem and Physics. Dahil hindi kami nag-qualify, lumibot na lang kami sa MOA. Ngayong natapos ko na yung PCA, pwede niyo na akong ipadala ulit dito. Challenge me! Charot.

I was fortunate enough to join PAPJA 2020 because this was the last major event for Psychology students all over the Philippines before the pandemic happened. I was so happy to see thousands of Psych majors in one event. Grabe, ganoon pala kami karami. It was an event worth remembering.

Mukha kaming normal distribution nina Sir Roger and Ma’am Lala dito. Ako yung central tendency. Mean, median, mode yarn?! Char!
Last face-to-face CAS recognition day.
Recognition 2021. Gusto ko lang sabihin na sana isang name per slide, para naman may shining moment kami. Eme!
This was taken after our mock boards in TOP. Super memorable ng day(s) na ‘to, probably because it’s our first time to take an exam onsite since 2020 and that we knew before going home that all 5 of us passed our mock boards in TOP. And all 5 of us eventually passed the PCA!
Taken after the 2nd day of PCA. Finally free from exams na ako! I told myself na if I took my entrance test in SCC, it’s also in this place that I’ll be taking my last ever exam in college. Ginawa ko talaga lahat ng pamahiin and all, lahat ng santo sa langit tinawag ko na. Hahaha!

When it comes to achievements, I’d only say one thing: you reap what you sow. Don’t expect to have desirable outcomes kung yung performance mo and efforts na binigay mo, hindi ka-match ng outcome expectations mo. And small achievements and mastery experiences also matter, as they further boost your self-efficacy (uy, Bandura concepts). Additionally, it helps to surround yourself with good people, who are equally competent and driven as you, kasi nakakahawa yung energy that other people give out eh. If you surround yourself with lazy ones and carefree ones, alam mo na kung anong pwedeng mangyari sa’yo. Choose your friends wisely! Wag lalapit sa mga taong nanghihila ng morale mo pababa. Dun tayo sa may collective efficacy!


Bake at 350° Fahrenheit

With all things combined, it’s now time to bake. The ingredients are now complete and set, it’s time for the real deal. Without heat, no finished product will emerge. However, there may be times when the temperature fluctuates and gets out of control. Too little heat may result in a raw and undercooked product, too much heat may burn and ruin everything. Just the right temperature is enough for a desirable result.

Similar to an oven, life offers challenges and intense emotional experiences that when you can’t cope, you’ll come out burnt, damaged, and deformed. But if you know how to ride the tide, you’ll come out well. And strong. And in your best shape.

Taken during my high school graduation. I didn’t know na ito na yung last graduation ko na nakita ni Tang. If he were alive right now, he would be so proud of me. Siguro na-spoil na ako ng food at pera kung nakita niya akong pumasa sa PCA at mag-graduate.

If there’s one thing I’d like to tell you about my college journey, it’s that it was not without struggles. The road was not as smooth as expected and there were obstacles along the way. There were moments that the heat was too much and I felt burned, but there were also times when it was not enough and I was not in my best.

First month in AUF. I always go to SB because it’s the place I am familiar with as I still try to navigate my environment. Furthermore, I still am not acquainted yet with most people. Honestly, I think it took me a year to get accustomed to the university life.

The first month of my Psychology journey was all about the adjustment period, brought about by the shift in my school environment and the onset of Tang’s cancer. He met an accident in the first two weeks of my college life, he got a long bone fracture and spent 2 weeks confined, and bedridden for several months. Little did we know that it was the prelude to his almost four year battle with the big C. I spent two weeks of my first month in AUF going in and out of AUFMC to visit him. It was just the beginning of it all.

I miss you Tang.

Just as personality theorist Alfred Adler’s childhood was marked by an awareness of death and sickness, I feel like my journey in Psychology was also the same. It was marked by a series of hospital visits, admissions, medication, and countless lab tests; not just of Tang’s but all of us in the family. To make things worse, the unthinkable pandemic happened.

My last “first day” in college was spent at the hospital. Mom had Dengue, Popons had a viral exanthem; both of them got admitted just two days apart. And worse, Popons got admitted on his birthday. We managed to get them together in one suite so it would be more convenient. This was the longest 1 week of my life, which even included the fear of contracting the Delta variant and the fear of overstaying in the hospital.
Waiting for Popons to get “checked in” in the room. This was around midnight of his birthday. He was in the ER with dad, on the way upstairs. Mom was just beside me, and her bed is in front of his bed. This was such a difficult time. You know, I love preparing outfits and stuff for travel and overnight stays, but that excludes a stay in the hospital. Yung gusto kong check-in ay sa Marriott, hindi sa AUFMC!
I have always marveled over the view of Mt. Arayat and the landscapes of Pampanga when I am at AUFMC. I can see as far as San Fernando, Mexico, Porac, Clark and the nearby places in the city. Everything looks still, quiet, and beautiful from above.

However, it got me thinking that when I am this high up in this building, there has to be something wrong. That is, I only get to see Pampanga from above when someone in the family is hospitalized. Suddenly, I never want to see this view again. I don’t want to see my school building from this view ever, ’cause that would mean someone I love is in pain.

I have this rule of not taking pictures of difficult moments, not wearing perfume or scents, and not listening to music when times are tough. All because of the potential connection between these stimuli and the painful memories. In short, when these things are paired with the painful memory, their presence might elicit a pain response where you’ll feel like you are reliving the difficult moment again. That’s the reason I don’t wear perfumes in these times, kasi baka pag naamoy ko siya again in the future, maaalala ko yung bad memory. I don’t want that to happen. Ivan Pavlov, ikaw naman ang dapat maging proud.

However, I took these photos because I thought that when I look back, I’d think of how I survived and went through all of these, and how much I have grown after these experiences.

It was 2021 which exemplified the oven temperature exceeding 350 degrees. Siguro kung yung mga past years normal temp na 300 degrees, yung 2021 siguro mga 550 degrees siya. Hindi na siya pang normal baking, pang broiling na siya! Sobrang nakakapaso, nakakasunog, nakaka-damage. But still, there’s growth after the difficult times.

I might be smiling and looking fine in this photo, but I was very anxious about the upcoming quiz bee I was forced to join. This was I think, 2 days before that event. Punong-puno ng cortisol at adrenaline katawan ko at sobrang baba ng GABA levels ko.

If you’re going to tell my 18 year old self that I’d spend 2 years of my college life studying at home, I probably would have laughed at you. But the unthinkable happened. COVID-19 happened. I didn’t think it would last this long, none of us did, and that something so miniscule would literally change the world.

On a similar vein, when I was younger, I was fascinated with volcanoes and earthquakes, so much so that I always ask my parents about their experiences during the 1990 earthquake and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. I even watch related documentaries as a kid. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, sana wala ng mangyaring ganoon, kasi maraming masisira at mahihirapan kaming lahat. Pero during those times, iniisip ko what if something big happens that will collectively affect or traumatize us? When Pinatubo erupted, my mom was in her 2nd year in college. So iniisip ko, what if something happens pag ako na yung 2nd year? And you guessed it right, COVID happened when I was in 2nd year. Until now I am still in disbelief that the past two years went by just like that. I feel like I saw this coming, but nope, that’s just my hindsight bias. Coincidence lang na pareho kaming 2nd year ng mom ko when a collective traumatizing event happened. But it’s still unbelievable. I am still processing how and why all of that happened.

Title defense. Online.
Clinical OJT. Online.
HR OJT. Online ulit. Sorry selfie lang ‘to.
First few days of School OJT, online again. And this was my mood.

If you think it’s easy to attend school online, like fully online, nagkakamali ka. It was not. Pero it is made easier if you have the means, of course. I recognize my privilege in saying this. Pero hindi talaga lahat ng students nag-thrive sa online setting. Blessing na rin siguro na introvert ako kaya na-survive ko yung 2 years na isolated sa mga tao.

Last March, I underwent a surgical removal of an infected wound which was initially an allergic reaction to a topical muscle pain reliever. I had no idea that it had ibuprofen and aspirin, and months later, the location of the allergy on my knee swelled and had small skin ulcers. There’s no way it could be solved than by going under the knife. My surgery even coincided with my first day of Abnormal Psych in PCA. Operating room sa umaga, Zoom sa hapon. I was nursing a wound in between readings. Painful as hell. Pero nagawa ko pa kumain sa labas after ko sa operating room. Haha!
Me reviewing for the PCA, aka the biggest challenge in my Psychology life. But when it began, I set my mind na if I did well before, I’m going to do just fine. Along the way, I felt like giving up, pero labanan talaga ng mental fortitude yung PCA. It won’t only test your Psych knowledge; but also your grit, study habits, emotional stability, and faith, among others.

As mentioned earlier, the PCA was the make or break subject in my program. Either you pass it and graduate, or fail it and gradwait. It was never easy. It came to a point na talagang bare minimum na lang talaga target ko. I just needed to pass, and not ace it anymore, I told myself. Basta pumasa okay na. Yun lang naman talaga nagma-matter. However, God heard my prayers and guided me throughout the mock boards.

It was in this experience that I learned how afraid I am of failing, more so with the thought that failing would mean getting delayed. And if you’ve read earlier, alam niyo na ang iisipin ko—that me getting delayed would be such a shame because I invested so much effort, time, resources, learning materials, and all. I felt like if I would fail this, it would define me, and that my thought that Psych is really not for me would be further reinforced. Sabi ko, ang lapit ko na sa finish line, hinding-hindi ko afford ma-delay kasi sobrang lapit ko na sa goal ko, nakakahiya kung maiiwan ako. Nakakahiya sa parents ko, lalo na, dahil talagang binibigay nila lahat sa akin and my only job is to study well. Ang laki laki ng ginagastos nila sa akin, tapos ‘di ako mag-aaral nang mabuti? (This is not meant to offend or shame those who did not pass though, in case you might misconstrue it. This is just how I viewed itthat I can’t fail it because I had all the resources. I had nothing or nobody to blame but myself if I fail. You get me? So I told myself that failing it is not an option.)

Hence, I knew I had to exert more effort and devote more time in this challenge. I knew I had to do well. There’s no other option but to pass it, bonus na lang talaga if I emerge victorious.

It’s also important to remind yourself once in a while that you have to enjoy the process, and not just passively wait to arrive at your destination. Dapat active learning rin, not passive. I don’t know if it’s just me, pero yung takeaway kasi sa PCA is like proving yourself again na kung kinaya mo yung mga subjects na ‘to before, kakayanin mo rin sila the second time. Thing is, compressed lang sila and added pressure yung passing rate, kaya mapa-praning ka talaga kung hindi mo ma-manage nang maayos yung thoughts mo. Again, mental fortitude talaga and test taking skills ang tine-test dito.

In the course of the PCA, one thing na nilo-look forward ko was to know the things and lessons we missed when we took the classes the first time. Kasi ang dami pa naming hindi alam na nalaman na lang namin sa mock boards. Nakakainis kasi yung iba hindi rin na-cover sa mga review lessons. Pero nakakaproud rin, kasi most of these concepts which were new to us, naaral lang namin on our own, and kinaya naman namin sila!

Sabi ko kanina, I don’t put on scents during struggling times. However, I can’t review well if my desk is neutral or boring. So, I’d warm up scented candles depending on my mood and how I’d like my room to feel like. Minsan amoy coffee shop ang room ko, minsan amoy spa. But, in my mock boards review, I chose a scent that smells expensive and hotel-esque. Para naman ma-motivate ako to do better, para actual hotel na ang puntahan ko agad after ng PCA! Char! Penhaligon’s Neroli and White Barn’s Blackberries and Basil smell like my PCA days. Grabe, the scents even lingered on my notebooks when I brought them to the testing site. Eventually, na-classify as good memories ang amoy ng candles.

These scents remind me of the arduous days of my mock boards review. Talagang I’d cry randomly over messages of support from my friends, family and teachers, over random quotes on Instagram about motivation and determination. With their support and enough mental fortitude, I was able to rise above the anxiety and struggle.

The morning of June 2, the first day of my mock boards, my alarm vibrated and caused my phone to fall straight into my desk, shattering my desk’s glass cover and my phone’s tempered glass. Mataas yung binagsakan niya, refer to the previous photo. There were glass shards on my chair and on the floor. I felt terrified, as this happened right before I left home to take my mock boards in the SCC. Sabi ko, baka bad omen ito—na mayroong hindi magandang mangyayari, na baka bumagsak ako.
But, as someone who tries to debunk superstitious beliefs, I thought of it differently (Uy, George Kelly, maayos yung personal constructs ko oh! Ems!) Siguro kaya nabasag yung salamin ng desk ko at kaya nagkaroon ng bubog sa upuan ko, sign na yun na hindi na ako babalik sa lugar na ‘to para mag-aral. And true enough, when I tried to study the same night na nabasag siya, nasugat yung arm ko. So ayun, I neutralized the thought talaga na, last na ‘to, hindi na ako magre-review ever sa desk na ‘to. And totoo nga! The next time I returned to this place was when I received a congratulatory message.

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl once said, We may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. This book is one of my all time favorites, as it renewed my perspective on the challenges we, or I, face. That it’s possible to derive meaning out of our struggles, fears, and challenges.

There are two more quotes from Frankl which struck me. Allow me to share them to you.

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.

Suffering is not necessary to find meaning, meaning is possible in spite of suffering.

Without the heat, again, no product will emerge. No baked goods will be available without heat. Again, it’s important that we recognize these instances as growth opportunities, not just as inconveniences and frustrations.


Cooling Time: 24 Months

Cakes, breads, and pastries need rest after being subject to intense temperatures. Just like them, we need rest and cooling time too. Otherwise, we’d crumble and fall apart, just as when you try to grab a freshly baked cookie, you’re left with crumbs and pieces. When you allow it to cool, you’ll get it in its most perfect shape, in its most delicious state, and in its entirety.

I would consider the pandemic in general as the cooling stage. It was the quiet part of my life as things shifted abruptly. I attended school at home. Ironic, I know. I spent my time doing things I love while isolated from the rest of the world. The world was much more quiet. Silver lining siguro ng pandemic ‘tong mga ganitong pangyayari. Yung walang ibang tao, walang crowd, walang traffic, walang pollution. It was a time for personal growth without anyone else’s input. Absolute solitude.

After the intense heat of 2021, things were eventually falling into place in 2022. I would admit that I manifested this. After Tang’s death, when the pandemic (the Omicron surge) kind of slowed down, things were getting better.

Our house was slowly being renovated and improved. Our sales was improving, and marami kaming naging clients because of the campaign season. Moreover, I don’t see mom getting stressed over hospital arrangements, searching for blood donors, and funeral preparations anymore. Siguro the silver lining of Tang’s passing was that he is in a much better place and that he is no longer in pain. And that we don’t suffer also by seeing him in pain. I know he is watching over me, over us.

My first day of PCA was also Tang’s 40th Day. Siguro siya na talaga yung lumapit kay God para sabihin na kailangan ko ng divine intervention sa PCA. I’ve also noticed how fortuitous all the dates of these events were! Siguro this is God’s way of reminding me that He’s there, and hindi niya ako pababayaan.

It’s also in this time na tanggap ko na ring kasama talaga sa Psych journey ko yung PCA. Because at first I was in denial, and was constantly rationalizing kung bakit ko ba ‘to tine-take eh hindi naman ako magbo-boards. In the middle of it, I have come into terms that it’s something I can’t escape. Nag-enroll ako dito eh, wala akong magagawa kung hindi harapin siya. And again, kung kinaya ko naman siya dati, kakayanin ko siya ulit.

This OJT was the last straw. It was the beginning of an end. Officially gradwaiting na kami when the internship days passed.
The most memorable OJT Setting ever! We didn’t feel like we’re working at all dahil sama sama kaming magkakaibigan, at masaya ring kasama yung mga bata.
Family portrait ng mga chaebol heirs. Char! We look so expensive, ‘di ba! Nakuha pa naming kumain sa sidegate na ganito ang suot ha! Hahaha!
Shoutout to Anj and CJ na lagi kong groupmate since first year. You guys never gave me a hard time in the school activities we did together, I feel a sense of relief whenever I know na kagroup ko kayo. I’m thankful for both of you!
Class of 2022. Mga tamad daw mag-aral pero lahat College Scholar! May apat na Magna Cum Laude at isang Cum Laude pa! Tamad pa po kami sa lagay na ‘to ha. Imagine na lang kung sisipagin pa kami. Charot!

I can’t imagine my college life without these people. Kagaya ng sinabi ni Lanceleine dati, hindi ko rin alam kung saang kangkungan ako pupulutin kung wala ang friends ko. I am so proud of us for reaching this far, and for sticking until the end!

Grabe, I’ll graduate college at 23, samantalang yung parents ko nung 20 or 21 years old sila nagta-trabaho at lahat na!

It is in 2022 that God answered almost all my prayers. I am living through and experiencing the things and events I fervently prayed for before. Everything just fell into place. I am the happiest. Worth it lahat, and nagma-make sense na rin kung bakit nangyari lahat ng mga bagay na iniyakan ko before. Almost everything I manifested at the beginning of this year have happened, and are bound to happen. I am so thankful!

Of course, I wouldn’t be where I am right now without my family. Thank you for the gift of education and for everything!


Finished Product:

It’s time. The timer is off. The oven is back to its cool temperature. The product has also cooled down. It’s time to serve (Dasurv!), it’s the good part! Ito na ang exciting part!

Andrei Mari Chilian T. Paras
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Angeles University Foundation
Class of 2022
Magna Cum Laude
Topping the PCA was not what I envisioned, but God did not fail me.

When all of this is over, I’d look back with a grateful heart; for the years I spent studying human behavior allowed me to fulfill my goal—that is to have a better understanding of myself and other people. I am grateful for the experiences, the people, the lessons, and everything in between.

After traversing the world of human behavior, I know that I’d be choosing my passion next. I will study the things I love, the things I’m interested in, not the things I’m unconsciously afraid of, or the things that no longer spark joy. I know that the next destination would be sweeter in nature, and would involve actual ingredients and a legit recipe.

Psychology is not the end-all be-all of my life, it just had to be there for me to discover that I am capable, and that I can relate with others. It is not bound to limit my career path, I believe that it just diversified my career options.

We’re out of the woods! Adios, Psychology! Veni, vidi, vici!

That in all things, God may be glorified!


Author: Andrei Paras
Initial Draft: February 2019
Publishing Date: July 19, 2022
Featured Image by: Air Pocket Creatives
Edited by: Andrei Paras
Graduation Portraits: Cimmaroon Photography


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23

Did you ever hear about the guy who got frozen?
Time went on for everybody else, he won’t know it
He’s still 23 inside his fantasy
How it was supposed to be
Did you hear about the guy who lives in delusion?
Break-ups happen every day, you don’t have to lose it
He’s still 23 inside his fantasy
And you’re sitting in front of me

When I think of the events surrounding my life as I turn twenty-three, I feel like I am in a clean slate. The things happening recently are both endings and beginnings—an end of an era, a fresh start, an advent season.

Looking back, the things I manifested on my previous birthday have eventually been fulfilled and are bound to happen. The most recent of which is my forthcoming commencement exercises. In twelve days, I will graduate, at long last! God knows how much and how long I prayed for this to happen. But once I achieve this milestone, I will probably keep on asking myself, “what’s to come? what now?” For I am still clueless how to navigate my life from here on out. Will I pursue my passion? Or will I continue what I have started? Will I choose what I want this time? Or pursue what society would like to see me do—to take the board exams and work elsewhere thereafter? What’s is to come? I have no idea.

This freedom is both a blessing and a curse. I am free from school work and academic endeavors. I am also slowly being disentangled from the strict parenting as I am slowly becoming independent…hopefully. At 23, I better be. On the lovely side of that, this freedom also makes me anxious as it would mean that I have to fend for myself eventually. I have to work, earn, save, and invest—a typical twenty something would be expected to do. Along with this comes the quarter life crisis—the questioning, the doubts, the uncertainty, the unknown, which entails the pressure of having it all figured out and achieving your dreams. I am fully aware of the fact that the responsibilities I have ahead are much more complex. I’ll quote Taylor Swift, the scary news is: I’m on my own now, cool news is: I’m on my own now. No other choice would be more appropriate than to move forward, forever onward. As long as I am fortunate enough to be breathing, I will remind myself that I am in control of what I’d do and how I’d like to live my life. I know I won’t have all the questions answered at this moment, but it’s my internal locus of control that would help me figure it out.

For now, the thing I need to do is enjoy the current moment, celebrate my victories, and not get overwhelmed by the uncertainty and unknown. I’d focus first on what is bound to happen in the coming weeks, and I’ll go get that bread! There will be no problems, just champagne. This is 23.


Not much needs to be said but thank you.

To God, thank You for all that You have given me. Lord, I won’t be here without Your unending grace.

To Mom, Dad, and Popons, thank you, I love you! I’ll do everything to make you proud!

To everyone who remembered me, greeted me, sent me food and gifts today, thank you all!

Love,

Andrei

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

 

life lately
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

20200308_100755
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