Pia Mia!

Probably the most amusing thing I saw today. It’s been almost three months since Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was crowned Miss Universe 2015. I guess there is no question why she deserves the crown. Just her fierce stare is menacing enough to sweep everyone off his or her feet. She reigns and she rocks.

Then I came across this video from BuzzFeed Philippines this morning (Everybody loves BuzzFeed). It is the woman making a very popular Filipino delicacy we call Lumpia, which is basically a savoury concoction of minced meat and chopped veggies wrapped in crepe-thin pastry.  On a personal note, I am a fan of this Filipino version of spring rolls (However, I believe it is Chinese by origin, maybe).

The video got over one million views so far. And people seem to have mixed reactions to it (not that I actually care too much).

I’m sure some people would think that this is a bit deglamorising for a “queen”, even egregious. But Miss Universe 2015 seems to be pretty cool with it. All dolled up and “perrdy”, she was clasping and pressing ground meat with bare hands, not even with a pair of gloves or freezer bags (so Pilipino).

I like it when exalted personalities still manage to act normal, act plain human. And Pia Wurtzbach embodies that. Despite the glory and frills of being a “beauty queen”, she knows how to be herself and keep her truth. No make-up, no hairstyle nor dress seemed to have transformed her. She says what she wants and feels. She expresses her honest-to-goodness self without any hesitation or inhibition. She’s just Pia.

I also think it’s also a sign of humility. Pia knows how to acknowledge and recognise her cultural roots and customs. Traditionally, Filipinos eat (and I guess handle food) with their bare hands, but clean hands, of course. And being “Binibining Pilipinas” (Miss Philippines) primarily, even before she took home the ultimate reigning title, she just got to display her being Filipino in the international scene by practicing this century-old tradition. No arte whatsoever. She just got to do it the way it is done. And I think it’s worth noticing.

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Moreover, she speaks our language, every so often. Being Filipinos, we’re used to speaking bilingually. Oh, trust me. It’s so common kaya, especially these days when people just want to sound sushal (posh), diba? I also noticed the Filipino gay lingo being in use. It’s so very “Pak!

I’m using “I” a lot because these are personal opinions. Now, I might be wrong, I might only be assuming, because it seems to good to be true. But that’s what she emanates. She’s teaching people to become a little more truthful to themselves and to others, and just say what you want to say. As long as it’s said with the right intentions and absolute sincerity, then go for it!

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R.

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Special times

What a day it’s been! I thought I’d share a glimpse of that through a few snapshots. So my Lola (Grandmother) has just turned 75 today! And my family and I are just absolutely thankful that she gets to spend her birthday here with us in Syd, after we’ve been separated by distance for some eight long years because she now stays in the US.

Just like my family, my Mommy (that’s what we call her) isn’t very festive as well. When asked about how she wanted to celebrate her birthday, she really just wanted to celebrate it at home with us. No massive feast, no visitors, no frills whatsoever. She just wanted to spend time with us, and celebrate this momentous milestone.

During the day, she wanted to hear a mass (I know, I’m not even used to saying that anymore as I haven’t been Catholic for years now). I think this is her being traditionally Filipino, because if it is your birthday in the Philippines, you have to make sure you come to church within the day to say your thanks, and summon blessings and good vibes. That’s basically it.

And so, we went to St Mary’s Cathedral in the city. It’s one of Sydney’s most beautiful church buildings I believe. Like seriously, it’s so grandiose, so majestic. And it’s been my Lola’s favourite go-to since she arrived.

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Then we had a mini celebration at home. My Lola particularly requested my Pancit Palabok to be in the dinner menu, and so I tried my best to perfect the ever elusive recipe of mine.

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The ’75’ photo collage I conceptualised and created, made from (real) printed photos. It contains old and new images of my Mommy and our family. This really made her frisky! She loved it. It was worth the 3 hours of toiling, past midnight.

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How do I sum up the day? It’s pretty simple, nothing too festive or ostentatious like she requested. We just stuck together and had heaps of fun.

I guess we’re a family that do not really depend on material things to get happy and feel blessed. The most valuable thing we could offer each other and gift to each other is our time. And just being together overthrows any need for material stuff or lavish settings. We know how to be content with what we have with thankfulness and appreciation.

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It is also that time when we realise how important our Lola is, and how thankful we are that she’s been given another year to live, love and serve. Another year to be healthy, happy and favoured by our Lord. Another year full of grace and hope. That’s probably the most significant reason why we all must celebrate birthdays, however simple or grand it may be.

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R.

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Spent this day listening to this incredible woman. Happy birthday to my first love and first musical inspiration, Carol Banawa! I can’t even begin to explain how much this artist means to me, but what I’m absolutely sure of is that I wouldn’t have this much passion for what I do today if not for her pristine voice and divine music.

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R.