So I finally got to eat at Abe again. After the first bite, I wondered why I’d taken so long.

The bihod fried rice alone is enough to send you into raptures.

Bihod fried rice - Abe

Humba - AbeMy dinner companions did not know what humba was. I thought it was a great reason to order it, and they agreed. It’s not my Mom’s humba, but it was almost perfect. It’s chicken liver and pork stew, slow-cooked. This version had banana heart strips. Yum, yum, yum.

New cover project completed: Playing Autumn by Mina V. Esguerra

Playing Autumn by Mina V. Esguerra

My friend Mina has a new book out — a new adult, romance novella called Playing Autumn. It’s now available as a paperback, and you can order it from her website. I did the cover design. I hope y’all like it.

While doing the cover, I did realize that this may be the first book cover I’d done that actually has a kilig feel to it. I suppose it’s because the photo I used has a couple in it — they seem happy and the girl is smiling. It’s not that none of the previous books I’ve made covers for have romance in them — a lot of them do — but for the Playing Autumn cover, the romance is more emphasized.

Two geeks. No waiting.

This is happening! Like, on Thursday, December 26, at 7.30 to 8pm (ish), Manila Time (GMT +8). Watch this space for the link to the live broadcast of the premiere episode of the Five By Five Podcast.

It’s hosted by me and my friend Mina, and we’ll talk about pop culture, tech and writing — basically geek stuff. Oh, and we’d have guests too. I used to have a podcast, under a pseudonym. My friends, including Mina, would come over to guest on the show and we’d talk about whatever tv shows or movies we’ve been watching. I had no idea if anyone actually listened to it, but we had a lot of fun. I gave it up when I no longer had time to maintain it, and I didn’t bother to keep the files online, so I’m guessing they’re lost forever (I may have copies somewhere among my piles of backup CDs but it’s so hard to go through them all).

The Tyranny of Iced Tea

Most of what passes off as iced tea in this country has no actual tea in it. Most of the time it’s basically flavored sugar water. It’s gross. Most people like it (but then this is also a country where that so-godawful-this-must-be-what-satan’s-balls’-sweat-tasted-like San Mig instant coffee is considered coffee) so they, in turn, assume everyone shares their fondness for that crap.

Zamboanga City crisis: How to help

Likhaan is sending a batch of relief goods to Zamboanga City on Monday, 16 September 2013. If you’d like to give donations to those displaced by the current troubles in Zamboanga, you may deposit the cash in the Likhaan bank account.

If you have donations in kind, they may be included in the succeeding batches of relief goods. What is urgently needed now is water, used clothes, blankets, mats, slippers, medicines and medical supplies.

Emergency numbers in Zamboanga City

OK, so shit’s going down in my hometown right now. Here are the numbers you can call if you need the cops: POLICE STATIONS ZCPS 1 (Vitali) Natl Hiway, Brgy Vitali, Zamboanga City PSINSP JOEL CALES TUTTUH (+63-62) 926-0133 Mobile Hotline: +63-926-178-8277 e-mail: ps1vitalizc@yahoo.com ZCPS 2 (Curuan) Natl Hiway, Brgy Curuan, Zamboanga City PCINSP RICARDO… Continue reading Emergency numbers in Zamboanga City

6 English Words Almost Always Mispronounced by Pinoys

So people do this thing where they make fun of others who speak English in heavy Filipino accents. They hear “bejtebol” and start howling in laughter. Which is mean, I think. And also kinda silly. English is not our first language, no matter how hard you’ve convinced yourself that three months training for a call center agent job means you’re a native English speaker. And of course we have an accent. Everyone does, except maybe the British. But then they have the Cockney non-accent, the Yorkshire non-accent, the Manchester non-accent. You get get what I mean.

Furthermore, why make fun of people who say “Der are plenty op pish in da sea” when you’re probably pronouncing a bunch of common English words wrong anyway:

  1. Organization/Documentary/Hippopotamus/etc. That’s ORganization, docuMENtary and hippoPOtamus. We say orGANIzation, documenTARY, and hippopoTAmus. I think that when we encounter words longer than four syllables, we just put the accent wherever it feels natural.

The Accidental Soldiers of Zion vs The Zombie Home Invasion

So V, who had been taking Krav Maga classes for a while now, said we should go to a gun show. The International Krav Maga Federation (IKMF) Philippines was doing a demo around noon on Saturday. I’d never been to either a gun show or a Krav Maga demo, so I agreed to show up.

“Are you sure they’re just classes?” I asked. “I mean, what if you’d unwittingly signed up to serve in the Israeli army?” I heart the Jewish people and everything, but the Israeli army was a different class of awesome (when you’re surrounded by people who are forever trying to attack you, you had better be seriously badass) so I’m not sure they would want me. I get sore arms after rearranging my shoe boxes.

“You’ll be a soldier of Zion, but there will be no bacon,” I added.

“The food in Israel is really good,” S said. “Honestly, you won’t miss the bacon.”

“What about crispy pata?”

S told us about how she once bought, on a whim, a large loaf of bread from a vendor on the beach. “It was amazing. Better than anything at BreadSpeak*. And it had this cheese in it that was also amazing. They have really good food in Israel. Did I mention cheese? And there’s baklava.”

V was not sure she wanted baklava.

“You should tell your future commanding officer you don’t want Baklava,” I said. “I’m sure the Israeli army can feed you something else. Or you can send your baklava to me.”

How I learned to love the Lannisters *SPOILERS AHEAD*

I’ve always been a geek, but I think Game of Thrones was the first role-playing strategy board game I’ve ever played — and I’d only played it once, last year. Yeah, terrible, I know. My friends had been bugging me to get into board games for the longest time, but the idea of sitting around throwing dice and moving tiny plastic pieces on a board for 6 hours did not appeal to me.

Game of Thrones board gameHowever, apparently if I’m really into a TV show, I can be made to try anything related to it. So I gave it a shot. It took six hours to finish the one game. My friend who was game master said it usually takes even longer with experienced players. Ow. Anyway, I played House Stark. It’s not something I would recommend to anyone — your territory is so far away from the other kingdoms, and your supply line is the crappiest. But I chose it anyway because of loyalty to Sean B– Ned Stark and his family. Three seasons into the HBO series, and I’m still rooting for House Stark. Even if they’re clearly not the smartest bunch in the Seven Kingdoms.

Writing is hard, publishing is (a bit) easier

Anyone who’s ever liked a book wants to be a writer. It’s natural — you’re moved by words on a page, you think, “Hey, I wonder if I can do that?” You start a journal. You attempt to write your own version of Sweet Valley High/Nancy Drew. You make up characters in your head.

Once you’ve written a couple of stories, you begin to think, “Maybe I can be a published author one day.” You start picturing your name on the covers of books on the shelves of National Bookstore, right next to, say, Nick Joaquin or Stephen King. You imagine couples naming their babies after characters you’ve created. You daydream of getting mobbed by journalists at the premiere of the movie based on your bestselling trilogy (right after they finish interviewing the star, maybe Angelina Jolie or Judy Ann Santos). You practice your speech for your first Hugo award (“Thank you, World Science Fiction Society. This means more to me than even my Academy Award for best original screenplay.”)

You find yourself a lot of the time, after reading a book, thinking, I can totally write better than this.

And then that’s it.

For most people, that’s where it stops.