About jp 吉平

john patrick | 吉平 is a former superhero from seattle | usa

The Health Journey, Part II: Calorie Deficit

Here’s that heartbreaking article that says that eating fewer calories than you expend is really the only way to to lose weight; that exercise is good for health but doesn’t directly make you thinner.  

Here’s what I’ve been doing to create a calorie deficit lately: 

  • I moved to a place where I’m not emotionally attached to the food.  I know there is good food in LA, but for the most part I haven’t found it yet, and realistically that is important to my weight loss.  Also, there is a lot of junky, cheap, tacky, low-quality food all around, and I don’t have a taste for it.  
  • I’m diabetic, and that means that sugar and fruit juice are poison to me, and simple carbohydrates turn into poison in my blood.  I haven’t had a Dr. Pepper or a glass of orange juice in 10 years.  Anyway, I know not everyone is diabetic but I recommend to everyone to lose their taste for sugars and simple carbs.  
  • I’ve stopped eating land animals.  Part of it was the horrible meat industry, and the animals, and the environmental damage.  Also, part of it is that it’s an easy shortcut for eating fewer calories; it’s easy to explain to people and it’s easy to stick to.  
  • I’m using a calorie tracker; loosely.  The one I use is My Fitness Pal, for the most part I can dial in a food by name and it already knows how many calories that is.  I don’t really care to track or record all my meals and calories, I just want to know where I am in relation to my calorie ceiling; if I go above, it’s weight gain.  
  • I eat on time.  When I studied in Europe, I always came back thinner, despite eating calorie dense foods and dessert every night.  I noticed (everybody noticed) that my appetite was way smaller than in America, and I think my stomach may have actually shrunk.  I think this happened because I ate at regular times.  

Ok, here’s specifically what I’m eating.  

6:45 am — Breakfast before crossfit.  It’s usually a Glucerna meal replacement shake that the dietitian told me to start doing to get ready for bariatric surgery, and weeks of all-liquid diet.  There’s also coffee:  fresh roast, ground on the spot, french press.  No cream or sugar.  

11:00 am — “Haimaiketako.”  An entire stalk of celery, sliced into sticks.  Or a few celery sticks and some hummus.  Or a green salad with some tuna on it.  It’s always vegetables.  

1:00 pm — Bento lunch.   I try to make a lunch that I don’t have to refrigerate or microwave, so that I don’t have to talk to coworkers in the break room.  Usually I just grab a bunch of banchan from the Korean supermarket deli and cram it into the bento and call it lunch.  Here are some examples.  

Sometimes I don’t get the chance to go shopping or pack a bento in the morning.  On those days I usually go to the Middle Eastern place and get either a Veggie Plate or a Grilled Mahi plate.  It’s too much food for me, I don’t eat all the rice or salad.  


4:00 pm — Four o’clock fruit.  It’s usually an apple or a banana.  

Anytime — Rescue snack.  It’s usually a handful of roasted almonds.

7:00 pm — Dinner. When I first started I ate a lot of ratatouille and salad.  Then I stared going to the all-vegetarian Indian cafeteria down the street, and just eating curries and dosas.  

If I’m hungry before bedtime:  some kind of soup, like miso, or a vegan soup from the Italian lady at the Sunday farmer’s market.  

I don’t know how long the breakfast shake thing is going to last.  It’s a convenient thing to do in the morning but I’d honestly rather fry an egg.  We’ll see.  

Next time:  the crossfit post.   

The Health Journey; Part I

Last year at this time (May 2015)  my doctor in Seattle said that my hemoglobin A1c was 9.4%, and that it was time for me to start insulin therapy; I would have to inject myself with insulin twice a day, through a syringe.  Wait, I said, I’m going to quit my unhealthy job, move to LA, and go back to a carless lifestyle, like when I lived in Manhattan and Shanghai, where my diabetes was under control.  The doctor agreed to hold off on insulin therapy, telling me that moving cities is a bad time to start insulin anyway.  

In November I met with my new doctor in LA for the first time; he said nice to meet you, your A1C has dropped to 8.4% which is a nice drop but still dangerous, have you thought about gastric bypass.  And I said, oh, doctor, nice to meet you, I’m JP.

Two months later, I told the doctor I was ready to think about getting my stomach cut out, and he sent me to a bariatric surgeon, who sent me to a dietitian.  Because of my diabetes I qualified as a candidate for gastric bypass, but they don’t just hand it out.  They want to make sure you’re not going to be one of the people that gets the surgery and then gains all the weight back anyway, which is a mess.  This was in January, and they also did an A1C test and didn’t tell me the results.  

At my first meeting with the dietitian, she asked me what I had eaten the day before, and when I told her, she said, ” I notice you didn’t have ANY FRUIT!” and then meta-morphed into a werewolf.  The werewolf went into a well-rehearsed monologue about whole grains and protein-centric eating.  

For my part, my eyes glowed orange and flames shot around me as I shook the earth with the words, “WHITE PEOPLE HAVE THE MOST DEMORALIZING HEALTH FOOD ON THE PLANET.”  As I said the word “planet, ” I hovered about a meter above the Living Simply sofa.  We didn’t speak for the next twenty minutes, listening to a windstorm outside the shuttered window, sitting quietly.  

That was the first meeting.  Weeks later at the second meeting, I told her, “I’ve stopped eating land animals, and I’m starting crossfit in the next cycle.”  For her part, she said she thought a lot about how ethnocentric a lot of her information was, and thanked me for bringing it up.  She hadn’t realized how most of the industry’s recommendations were by and for white Americans, and that for people like me, changing cultures to eat healthy was an added stress.  

Last week (May 2016)  I had another appointment with my doctor.  He told me I had lost 15 pounds since my last visit and that my A1C way back in January was 7.4%, just above my target of 7.0% where it’s considered “well-controlled.”  The following day I went for another blood draw.  

The results from that blood draw came back this week:  6.7% “well-controlled.”  I am no longer a candidate for insulin therapy. To celebrate, I ate a whole pecan pie.* 

In future posts: the land animals, the crossfit.

*I did not actually eat any pecan pie. 

Friends from Other Places

It’s 11pm and I didn’t do laundry this weekend, and my kitchen is a mess, and I don’t have any lunches ready for this coming week.  In other words, it was a great weekend.  

Saturday morning I went to a crossfit workout, and I learned about the insanities of “Turkish Get Ups.”  I have a hard time getting up from the kneel.  We also did snatches, and coach J made me take the weights off my bar, which is FINE WITH ME.  My quads are starting to rebel against their new job in my life, which is to constantly get up from a squat while my back is straight.  These workouts are hard but I enjoy the endorphins afterwards, that feeling of well being.  It’s the same feeling I get after an ugly cry, the kind with uncontrollable sobbing.  

After that, I made bought some ono fish and baked them up for tacos, brought the whole kit to M&F’s house for JB’s big birthday party.  It was supposed to have been a beach party but the cloudy weather made it a backyard firepit party.  I learned that when LA people start a fire, they buy a cardboard box filled with firewood, which has some kindling in it.  At first none us knew about the kindling because we all failed to read the box, and I offered to bust up some kindling if I could use a hatchet, which is a chore I kind of like to do.  They all looked at me like I was an alien from an other planet and brought out  a box of “fire starter” which is how they do it here, it’s a package from the convenience store that you light on fire, and that starts the kindling which starts the wood.  I felt I had stepped into the future.  I couldn’t believe there was an actual product that saved us from using wadded up news paper like some cave people, and that firewood and kindling came from a box.  The package of firewood was marked as from Madera, California, by the way, and all the Spanish speakers winked at each other.  Haha, Madera.  

By the way, I think my fish tacos were a hit.  The fish market was a little reluctant to sell me ono fish for tacos, which further confirmed my suspicion that they don’t know much about fish.  Good product though.  

Today I went to a yoga class at the box, my first yoga class ever.  I liked it mostly, it was strenuous and relaxing at the same time.  For the most part I was limber enough and strong enough for the class, but my knees didn’t like being in table position or, even worse, being in a tripod position.  These yoga sessions are once a week, I would consider going more.  After yoga I got a mysoor dosa and then hit the road for San Diego.  

I met JG in Del Mar at a highly rated taqueria which I deemed mediocre.  After fish tacos we walked around La Jolla, got a beer in Pacific Beach, and then a sushi restaurant in downtown San Diego.  JG is in town for a surfing vacation, it was good to see him as always.  

My knees feel a little bruised but we’ll see if I’m up for more crossfit tomorrow.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a big week.   

Still Early

Here are the things I’ve done this weekend:  

  • Help my friend C move from Baldwin Village to Boyle Heights, lunch at BCD Tofu
  • Send my credit card information to so crossfitters and tell them to help themselves to the membership dues every month. 
  • Do my laundry, clean the entire apartment, sweep.  
  • Make poke for the week with M from grad school, after a trip to the Fish King.  We made albacore, ahi, and hamachi. 
  • Organize my Von’s Monopoly game, with the help of M. 

Next weekend I’m hanging out with the gang on Dockweiler State Beach and then going to meet JG in San Diego , maybe go to Mexico, who knows.  

I haven’t been blogging lately, which feels wrong to me, as I have plenty of time and ideas to blog about.  I just don’t feel as energized to sit and write anymore like I did, which is bad because becoming an famous author is my retirement Plan A.  So I gotta work on that…

Maybe I’m too distracted by the weather here.  I’ve got doors and windows open, a breeze going, and my fridge is full of poke. I’ll go out later to buy coffee beans.  

I don’t want to say too much about Crossfit because I’m not great at it, and everytime I go I think, “I’m finally going to hate it this time.”  But I don’t.  So I’ll just say this: I think I’m not the worst at rowing.  

Langauge Learning: How to Spot a Chaos Informant

When you’re learning a language, you should know that some native speakers will feed you misinformation, and they will believe it deep down in their hearts that their misinformation is true, completely oblivious to the fact that they made that shit up on the spot.  I call these people “Chaos Informants;” take their explanations with a grain of salt. This is not a term that professional linguists use, in fact I just made the shit up on the spot.

Sometimes, they will offer you their chaos information unsolicited, but more often the chaos informants come out when I ask a question.  In fact, you can use questions to identify Chaos Informants, so you can take their explanations with a grain of salt. Here’s how.

“What is the difference between much and many?”  If you’re learning English, you can use this question to identify English speaking Chaos Candidates.

The “professional” answer to that question is countables; we use the word “many” for nouns that are in countable units (too many bananas, too many armpits, too many individual liberties).  We use much for things that are not in countable units,  (too much money, too much talking, too much sex).

I call this the “professional” answer because usually it’s only langauge professionals that can answer this question off the top of their head. This answer probably does not occur to someone who learned English as their native language.  Here’s the deal: linguistic knowledge is separate from conscious or academic knowledge. A native speaker can live a hundred years without ever mixing up “many” and “much” and never be able to supply the “professional” answer.

A “chaos answer” is any explanation that is yanked out of the ass region that doesn’t involve countability.  So if someone tries to tell you something like “always use many with objects you can fit in your pocket,” they are a Chaos Informant; grain of salt.  It’s probably not malicious; people are just trying to be helpful.  Some people just have horrible horrible intuitions about language and have a “tin ear” for what their own mouth is doing.  One British lady railed against /r/ insertion and then burst into tears when a researcher pointed out that she was totally an /r/ inserter.  She’s not stupid; it’s common for poeple’s perception of their own langauge to be different from actual acoustic reality.  I used to tell my classes that there was an [m] sound hidden in the sentence “I lived in Paris for a year;” this exercise divided the class and upset people, not kidding.

If you’re not blessed to be a language professional and you don’t want to be a Chaos Informant, here’s a good alternative for you; just say, “I don’t know.”  If that’s too humiliating for you, you can try “I’m not sure.”  It may not be the answer to the person’s question, but at least it’s the truth, and it’s more helpful than making shit up like a jackass.

Here’s a test for Spanish-speaking Chaos Informants:  “When do you use the subjunctive?”  The professional answer is that there are certain clauses and conjunctions that trigger the subjunctive; I can list them all for you if you need me to.  Native Spanish speakers who are not language professionals have no reason to know the professional answer, so don’t bother them with that. Hopefully they’ll tell you “I don’t know, I’ve never had to think about it before,” which doesn’t answer your question, but at least it’s true.  A chaos answer, one that I’ve heard before, is that you have to use the subjunctive whenever you use the word “que.”  Total chaos.

By the way, the students in my Spanish classes often felt confident about making up their own rules for Spanish, you don’t have to be a native speaker to be a Chaos Informant.  I was always stunned at their classmates willingness to believe the explanation as that still smelled like the ass they were yanked out of.  They’d say something like “you can’t have three verbs in a sentence” or “there is no umlaut in Spanish,” and then try to convince me that they were right.

For Tagalog, ask your friends, “What’s the difference between galing mo and galing ka.Both sentences mean something like “you’re sharp.” The professional answer is that “galing mo” is an abbreviated form of the exclamatory “Ang galing mo,” and the focus is on the adjective “galing.”  In the sentence galing ka, the focus is on the pronoun.  Easy.

If the person tells you that the verb “galing” means “to come,” you know that this person is a Chaos Informant; grain of salt.

Do I have one for Chinese?  I don’t remember anymore.  It might have been the difference between modal verbs 必須,必需and 需要.  I think I’m back to being a chaos informant for Chinese.

I have no memory of ever meeting a Chaos Informant of French or Italian, although there are many times where I’d hear someone make a grammatical mistake for fun, and then deny that it exists and forbid me to repeat it.  Also, I discovered last week that I’m making shit up when it comes to French.  Here’s a lamp post sign in Glendale that’s up right now:

img_0952-1

As you’ve probably noticed, they’ve written “Welcome” in several languages.  None of them are Filipino, so I guess Filipinos are not welcome.  Chinese is on there twice. And the French looks like a feminine singular; they’re welcoming a single French woman.  Ho ho ho. Look everyone, a French mistake!

Only my friend Armando pointed out that, “Bienvenue” is the noun, and that’s the appropriate way to write “Welcome” in this context.

So in other words, I’m a Chaos Informant for French; grain of salt.  Don’t trust my judgement!

Learn Pangasinan: Existence Sentences

To declare the existence of something in Pangasinan, we use the word wala.  To declare the non-existence of something, we use angapo.

Examples:

  • Walay andeketa pusa ed dalanan. There’s a black cat in the street.
  • Angapoy andeketa pusa ed dalanan. There’s no black cat in the street.
  • Walay priton pusit ed lamisaan. There are fried squid on the table.  
  • Angapoy priton pusit ed lamisaan. There aren’t any fried squid on the table.  

Piece of cake. You should notice that there’s a -y suffixed onto our target words.  That -y is a focus marker, it tells you when the noun in focus is coming up. In this case the nouns in focus were andaketa pusa and priton pusit.  

You may have noticed that we use the preposition ed to specify a place in Pangasinan.  In English, we have specific prepositions like on, in, at, and to… In Pangasinan we can use ed for all of those; it’s a general-purpose location preposition.

If you want a more general locations like here and there, there are a couple of options. Here are the location adverbs:

  • dia here (near the speaker)
  • ditan there (by the listener) 
  • diman there (far from speaker and listener)

Note that it’s a three-way distinction, which corresponds to 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person. It’s different than the two-way here/there system in English.

So now you can use these location words in your existence and non-existence sentences.

Examples: 

  • Angapoy andeketa pusit dia. There are no black squids here.  
  • Walay priton pusa diman.  There’s some fried cat over there.  (DISCLAIMER: Pangasinan speakers do not eat cats.  Language learning has to be surprising sometimes.)

Hooray, now you can declare existence (and non-existence) of objects and specify locations!

But wait, there’s more!  If you are really committed to the preposition ed, you can feel free to use it with diaditan, and diman; there’s no change in meaning.  One thing you should know, though, is that the forms contract.  Here are the contractions:

  • edia (ed + dia)
  • edtan (ed + ditan)
  • edman (ed + diman)

I’m told that you can switch corresponding forms out freely, that there’s not a meaningful difference between walay bastosa ugaw edman and walay bastosa ugaw diman.  

There’s one more thing. The existence verb wala loves the location adverbs so much, that it contracts with them.  Check it out.

  • wadia (wala + edia). Wadiay narasana aso ed abong.  There’s a hungry dog here at the house. 
  • wadtan (wala + edtan)  Wadtan so narasana aso ed abong. There’s a hungry dog there at the house (near you, listener). 
  • wadman (wala + edman) Wadman so narasana aso ed abong. There’s a hungry dog over there (far from both of us).  

You’ll notice that wadtan and wadman both end in consonants, so it’s impossible to add the focus suffix -y to the end of that word.  Instead, we use the other focus marker so.

As far as I know, it’s just wala that has contractions; if there are angapo contractions I’m not aware of them yet.

To summarize, there are a few ways to declare the existence of, for example, a big house over there, you’d say it like this:

  • Walay balega abong diman. 
  • Walay balega abong edman.
  • Wadman so balega abong.  

You can deny the existence of that big house over there with angapo; just remember the word angapo doesn’t want to make a contraction.

  • Angapoy balega abong diman.
  • Angapoy balega abong edman.  

That’s all for now, here’s a summary.

Existence and non-existencelocation prepositionlocation word three way

 

Learn Pangasinan:  Noun Phrase Linky-Links

Look here’s a bunch of  common nouns.  I’m listing them with definite article say, which means “the for singular objects.

The list is short because this post isn’t really about nouns, it’s about making the linky-link with other nouns and adjectives.

Some Common Nouns

  1. say aso the dog
  2. say pusa the cat
  3. say pusit the squid
  4. say ugaw the kiddo
  5. say abong the house, the home
  6. say kaiba the companion, friend
  7. say dalanan the street, the road
  8. say buek the hair
  9. say eges the belly, the tummy

So if you want to link any of these nouns together in a noun phrase relationship, you have to use a linky-link.  Here are the noun linky-links in Pangasinan:

Linky-links for Pangasinan: 

  • If the first word ends in a vowel, jam the linky suffix -n onto the first word.
  • If the first word already ends in an -n, make it end in linky suffix -y instead.
  • If the first word ends in a consonant, separate the two words with the linky particle na.

Now you can link a bunch of those nouns above together.

  • say abong na pusa the cat’s house
  • say kaiban aso the dog’s companion
  • say eges na pusit the squid’s belly
  • say dalanay ugaw the kiddo’s street

You may have noticed that my English equivalents all came up as possessive apostrophe-“s,” which is one way we link nouns together in English. It’s not the only way we do it in English, so don’t get too hung up it. What you need to know is that you need a suffix or a particle to link nouns in a noun phrase relationship.

If you’re from Santo Tomás, La Unión, you can use a slightly different set of linkers:

  • If the first word ends in a vowel, jam the linky suffix -n onto the first word (same as standard Pangasinan).
  • If that first word ends in -s, use the linky particle na.
  • If the first word ends in a consonant, jam the linky suffix -a onto the first word.

Here’s what you get:

  • say abonga pusa
  • say kaiban aso
  • say uges na pusit
  • say dalanana ugaw

There, easy.  If you want Santo Tomás flavored Pangasinan like I do, you’re going to end up having to know the standard way too, so you can understand your friends in Dagupan. It’s a minor difference.

Now that you know how to link nouns to each other, it’s time to link adjectives to nouns. The rules will look very familiar.

  • If the adjective ends in a vowel, use linky suffix -n.
  • If the adjective ends in a consonant , use the linky particle ya.
  • If the adjective ends in an -an, make it end in -ay instead.
  • For Santo Tomás style, use -n for vowels, and -a for consonants and don’t worry about adjectives that end is -s, they can take -a as well.

Some Common Adjectives

  • baleg big
  • melag small
  • ambanget stinky 
  • bangad naughty, willfully-disobedient
  • bastos naughty, disrespectful, rude
  • dugyot filthy
  • pilipino
  • andeket black
  • ampoti white
  • maabig nice
  • narasan hungry
  • buwag greedy, gluttonous 

Ok, now you can link these handy adjectives to the noun above!  You can say things like Say baleg ya abong, say pilipinon ugaw, say andeket ya pusit, say narasay ugaw, say dugyota pusa. 

Try saying these things:  The white house, the greedy squid, the naughty dog, the rude friend, the big belly.  Make your own combinations!

At first, you’ll be looking back and forth between lists, and using analysis muscles to figure out which linky-link to use.  Keep practicing until you’ve got linky-links in muscle memory.

Noun and Adjective Linkies

Interference and other Paranoia

I would like to tell the world that in the early 1990s back at the UW, I studied more than one langauge at the same time.  In fact, it was my policy; taking both French and Spanish was exactly what I wanted to do.  There was one point when I added Italian to the mix so that I could do the UW’s Rome Program.  Anyway, the point is that semester after semester, I was studying two or sometimes three different languages at the same time; often on the same day.  

People used to ask me, “Don’t you mix them up?  Don’t you confuse them?  Don’t they interfere with each other?” 

And my answer was, no, not really.  Then people would either look at me like I was a super genious (I’ve never been a super genious) or tell me that it was impossible, and that I must be lying somehow.  

I don’t really know what their theory of language was. They must have believed that the human brain is a finite container, and that a one language filled a normal brain to capacity.  My Linguistics 120 class taught me that we haven’t really found a ceiling on the number of languages a human could learn, but maybe I was the only one who got that memo.  In other words, if there is a limit on the number of languages a human brain can hold, science hasn’t found it yet.  

For me, speaking a language is just a habit, and we conjugate verbs by habit, the same way a basketball player has a habit to dribble a ball.  Is there a limit to a number of sports someone can learn to play?  If someone is a tennis player, does the tennis knowledge interfere when that person tries to play basketball?  Are there stern warnings against learning too many sports or too many games?  Is there a danger that a football player might get confused and start dribbling the ball?  

Anyway, for me, French is an entirely different game than Italian; Italian is a different game than Spanish.  So no, I don’t mix them up.  Sometimes, when I’d be teaching a Spanish class and the bell rings and five minutes later my Chinese class is in the room, yes, I absolutely called a Chinese student “Señorita” or “Señor.”  Does that count as mixing up the languages?  Because it doesn’t seem very significant.  Nobody seemed to care, not me, not my students.  I feel like in those quick-switch situations, I wasn’t “mixing them up;” it just had a different langauge handy at that very second.  I mean, so what if I call an English speaking lady “Señora,” or say “Hola” to a Chinese person?  Everybody survives.  Literally everybody survives.  

I remember one time when got a paper back in Spanish class back in college.  I had written, “he oído hablar que…” or something and the prof marked it wrong and wrote “Interference from French.”  And I thought, this prof is a dick.  We were in a Spanish class because we were learning how to speak Spanish; if I used a French structure it was because I DIDN’T KNOW THE SPANISH STRUCTURE.  It was a strategy.  But he called it “interference” as if my French habit was damaging my Spanish.  Honestly, literature professors are not qualified to diagnose stages of language learning.  I still think poorly of that prof (although I learned a crapload about Latin American short story in that class).  

People love the theory of language interference, they love it like a dog loves a bone.  Whenever I take a new language class, it doesn’t matter if it’s Spanish or Korean or German, there is always some precious snowflake who answers the instructor in French, and the breaks into English and explains that they took 6 years of French and French is just on their mind, and guh, it’s so hard to speak Chinese now because French is crippling them. Later I speak to them in French and find out that they don’t actually speak French; their Chinese is being blocked by a langauge THEY DON’T EVEN SPEAK. 

I don’t believe in interference.  I don’t believe that knowledge of one langauge is ever a detriment to learning another.  I don’t think that langauge learning is ever bad.  

When people ask me how many languages they can take at once, I tell them, “as many as you believe you can handle.”  If they believe they can handle only one at a time, then they’re probably right, but it’s their personal limitation, not a biological one.  

And when people tell me about getting “confused” with too many languages, I always wonder, do they know someone who is so “confused” with many languages that they are disadvantaged in life?  Are there YouTube videos of genuinely language-confused people whose lives are ruined by too many languages?  Have you heard of a single person?  Sure, they say, this person speaks English with a horrible accent, they say, but in that case, it’s not someone that’s genuinely “confused.”  It’s usually the case that they’re not good at English.  Anyway the point is “confused with too many languages” is NOT A REAL AFFLICTION.  

Finally, there are people who create monolingual policies for their children, because they don’t want their kids to be “confused.”  Folks, little kids learn language like a superpower.  Confining a kid to one language because you are afraid of confusion is like forbidding Superman to fly because you’re afraid he might fall.  It’s adults that tend to suck at language learning; it is a shame that they project that onto their kids.  Also, you might want to remind those parents who fear multilingualism that they haven’t read a single book, article, blog, tweet, nutrition label, or fortune cookie about raising multilingual kids before they sentenced their child to monolingualism.  

The End of the Trip

Day Trip to Baguio

My sister and I woke up in Sto. Tomás, again, and piled into the car with Kuya G, Atsi T, and Auntie M, and drove down the road to Agoo and had breakfast at a place called New Iceland.  Poor H wasn’t feeling well and had some problems with the tabu.

After breakfast, we piled into the car again and drove up the mountain to Baguio City. It’s a beautiful drive by all accounts, but I fell asleep. H had it worse in the back of the van; I think she was getting motion sick.

We got to Baguio, took a pit stop at Burnham Park, picked up Atsi T’s grandson N, and then drove to the strawberry fields in La Trinidad.  Auntie M bought baskets and also all the vegetables. I had a coffee emergency, and everyone ended up having a coffee with me. Kuya G and H tried the strawberry ice cream.

After that, we all drove to Burnham Park and rented bikes. I tried a bike but found that all the seats stabbed me in my gentleman parts, so I decided not to rent. However H, Atsi T, and Kuya G all took rode around happily.  A highlight of this portion of the trip was when Auntie M reached over and grabbed H’s bilbil, asking, “What happened?”

After the bike riding was dinner at a Chinese restaurant called “Rose Bowl.”  By this time H was feeling really sick so she excused herself and lay down in the van.

Then we rode down the mountain back to Sto. Tomás, and I rode in the way-back so that H wouldn’t have to ride there again.  I am too tall for the way-back, and got motion sick as well, but H got a picture of the Lion Head, so there’s that.

 

I’m a Tomasiño!

Once we all got back to Sto. Tomás, H was feeling too crummy to go out, so I walked around the corner to the Villanueva family house, which was right where I remember it from 1983.  Cousin D and L live there now, and I hung out with them for a while, looking at old family photos, speaking Tagalog, enjoying some Coke Zero.  At one point D showed me a video of his sabong performance, and even showed me the chicks, which lived in a box still until he could get them inoculated.  D and L are soft-spoken and kind and I liked hanging out with them.

When it was time to go, they offered to walk me back to Auntie M’s place, but that seemed unnecessary, since it was only around the corner. They worried I’d get lost, or that the dogs would get me, but I told them not to worry, I’m a Tomasiño; I got it under control.  As expected, I got back without incident.

Goodbye, Sto. Tomás

The following morning my sister made breakfast and then we said goodbye.  We took one last walk to Tsismis Park and the place where Atsi T volunteers, and took some pictures. Afterward we drove to Agoo and waited for a Dominion bus to take us back to Metro Manila on the TPLEX.

I don’t regret having spent my entire last summer in Makati and not going home to the province; I was able to study Tagalog grammar with Ate B who is a professional teacher, and it was the background I needed. However now that I’ve been back to the province it’s really kind of the only place I want to be.  If and when I get a chance to return to the Philippines, I hope to go back to our little town and learn Pangasinan.  I know my Tagalog will improve there as well, since people seemed to have no interest in speaking English with me.

So the TPLEX and the NLEX are the expressways that cut the trip from the province from 10 hours to 4, and if you don’t want a back-road slow bus, I highly recommend using a bus that takes the TPLEX.  We only made one stop in Tarlac, and the rest of the ride we listened to some DJ’s funny dance mix which had a very silly beat-track super-imposed on the music.

Snack in La Loma; Dinner at Kanin Club

We got off the bus at Balintawak Station and über’d back to the family house in La Loma.  Niece G was super happy to see us, she is a ray of sunshine.  Cousin Ate D fed us a huge snack immediately and Auntie B demanded to know how we managed to get there.  We told her we just got off the bus at Balongkakawit Station, which she thought was charming, but Ate D wasn’t that impressed with.

We watched a bunch of news that was not news; most of it was preparation for the big Traslacion ng mga Replika through central Manila, and I wondered irreverently why Filipino Catholicism required so much suffering and busting-ass.  Auntie B just shook her head at me and laughed.

Later we got in a car and drove to Kanin Club on Scout Rallos, which is prounced “es-kaw-trall-yos.” The veggies were a little salty for our tastes, and the non-veggies seemed bland, but it was good to be there.  Cousin D also showed up, and I spent most of my time trying to mortify my teenage niece, who is gorgeous and amazing.

Later we fought over the bill in a grabby way, trying to snatch it away to pay it and treat the other. Yes, it’s tacky, and also, tacky is fun. In the end we lost when Auntie B threw our money into the car at us.

Airport Run and Dinner with More Cousins

The next morning, H and I hoofed it over to Toby’s Estate on Salcedo for breakfast and coffee at the same place–trust me–and then we got in an über to the airport to pick up Cousin L.  She managed to text us from the terminal, so the driver agreed to just pick her up and circle us back to Makati.

L is a great traveler; had no problems with adjusting, super well-prepared, great attitude. We went for coffee at Habitual Coffee (check it, check it) which is a good place for Seattlites.  L checked in with her brother and we put together a plan for the afternoon.

The plan included a massage, which we reserved.  They cancelled on us 10 minutes before the appointment (unprofessional!) and we ended up walking into another place.

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After a pretty good massage, we walked over to Mesa and met Cousins D and N to catch up. Also, Cris from Kalyespeak showed up, as did the S family, who was also on vacation (except for Uncle R and Auntie G, who live there now).  I don’t remember much about the food but it was great to catch up.

After that, L wanted to try Grammercy, but there was a stupid dress code, so Cris took us to Hole in the Wall instead, which was quiet, rooftop, and casual:  perfect.  We had a quiet drink and chat before going home for the night.

Last Day

It was H, L, and I.  We had breakfast early at The Wholesome Table, and then a stroll through the Salcedo Saturday Market.  Then it was über to Market! Market! and SM Aura.  We ended up eating in the food center at Isdang Pulo; a fried crab, a pork sinigang, and a couple plates of lato (ararosep).

Business Class Upgrade

After lunch we went back to the condo, and I packed up my gear and said goodbye.  My sister sent me off with a baggie of trail mix.

There was crazy slow traffic on the way to the airport, a bag scan at the entrance of the terminal, and then a long, chaotic, snaky line to check in. By the time I had gotten to the front of the line, I had already decided I was going to upgrade, since the thought of the middle seat they assigned me made me want to die. They told me they’d call me if there was a spot.

There’s departure checkpoint with immigration in the Philippines, and they wanted to see both my passports; the one I was traveling under, plus the one I had entered with.  Then airport security, a second bag scan.  Finally I got to the gate, and there was a third bag scan just to sit down at the gate!  I chugged a water I had just bought before sitting down at the gate to anger-tweet about being hungry and isolated from the bathroom.

Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore, I exited the secure gate area, went to the restroom, and afterword ate a tuna sandwich at the snack bar.  When I went to return to the gate, the flight had been moved to two gates down, and everyone had been re-seated.  I had to get in line to go through gate security AGAIN, and I had to wave at the gate desk from behind the velvet rope when they called me about my upgrade.

Finally, I got in, they assigned me a seat, and they asked me to board.  My seat was 5C.  I’m trying not to think about how much money I paid for it. In any case, it was a seat that folded into a bed, and that was amazing.  I ignored all of the media and games; I didn’t even bust open my headphones. I just read a book on my kindle app and spent the rest of the time either sleeping or eating.  The food was good and the bathroom was always free when I wanted it.  I hope all my transpacific flights from now on will be in business class! and I know with my brain that it’s probably not going to happen again.

So it was a good trip to the Philippines for New Year 2016.  It wasn’t actually a vacation, technically; I was working remotely. It was awesome to see family, to practice Tagalog and Pangasinan, and to spend time with my baby sister.  I’m not sure when I’m going to get a chance to do this again, but I hope it’s soon.

 

Pangasinan Adventure

So today Kuya G and Atsi T took H and I in Auntie M’s minivan on a “lazy hawaiian” style tour of the Lingayen Gulf coastline in Pangasinan province.  I’m saying “lazy hawaiian” style here to mean “reasonable,” because Filipino style provincial travel would be waking up before dawn, sleeping in the car, driving the entire day, being unrealistic about the drive time, arriving at the destination late and without reservations, and then repeating the whole thing in reverse for the return trip.  So forget Filipino style!  “Lazy hawaiian” style is the greatest.

We drove through San Fabian and reminisced about the old railway that used to bring visitors from Manila along the eastern coast of the Lingayen Gulf all the way up to Ilocos, before they gave up on it in the 60s.  We stopped at a roadside bike shop which had dramatic lighting from skylights. I told my sister to find an ugly bike that works really well, one that will get you places without getting stolen.

Our next stop was Dagupan, which in the morning is a couple of notches below “bustling.”  We had breakfast at Pedritos and I theorized that whoever serves ketchup with embutido really doesn’t enjoy embutido.  We got some gas also, and stopped at a cash machine.

There was a side mission to CSI, which is a hyper market.  We bought water, candy, and a fabulous romantic parasol for Atsi T.

Our next stop was the provincial capital Lingayen, which was kind of peaceful and beautiful.  There was a wide, long beach with baseball fields and picnic areas and a memorial to the Japanese Occupation and the MacArthur landing and Liberation and also the unnecessary bombing by the Americans after Resistence fighters had already busted their asses to tell them that the Japanese forces had already completely retreated from Pangasinan.  Actually they were nicer about the unnecessary bombing than I would have been.  If I wanted to hang out in Pangasinan for a little bit, I might choose Lingayen.  Anyway, at the beach I put my feet in the Lingayen Gulf and watched a bunch of kids sort the fish from the shrimp after the nets were emptied.  We also saw fishing boats that looked an awful lot like the ones in the paintings from 100 years ago, same shape.

Our next stop was Alaminos, which is a resort town as it is near the Hundred Islands national park.  In early January on a Tuesday it’s a pretty chill place, though.  We got some supplies at the market and then chartered a motor boat for four.  We ended up on Quezon Island, and the first order of business was to explore the karenderia on the second floor of the terrace. We ordered liempo, some pinakbet, a large Coke, and two plates of araraosep (sea grapes) with tomatoes, which are my favorite.  This araraosep was a little spicy.

A couple of us splashed around in the water later, and a couple of us hung out on the beach.  Hundred Islands is really a beautiful place to hang out and play in the water the whole day.  The islands are beautiful and the facilities are really very nice when it’s not crowded.

A boat ride back to land, and then we got back in the car.  If I were my sister I’d hang out in Alaminos for a couple of months, learn Pangasinan and maybe work in the tourism industry for something to do.  I like that place.  On the ride back, we busted open a bag of chicharron, and it was magical; the flavor was complex and subtle. Seriously.  Best chicharron ever.

On the ride back through Pangasinan province we learned a lot of Pangasinan words and phrases, some that we forgot already like “masturbation” but also some that we like to talk about a lot:  hunger, gluttony, mosquitos, etc.  We also got clarity on words we had known but never knew that we knew.  Mangiras.  Ageyet. Buwag. Kuwatit.  Ambagel.  Naerasanak la. Mamanganak ni.  Baoninato say pusa.

My sister practiced the whole subject pronoun paradigm with predicate adjectives.  We also started creating a stupid Adele parody.

Dinner was at Silverio’s back in Dagupan by the river.  We had two kinds of sinigang, calamares, adobong pusit, and chop suey.

The photos below were taken by my sister.