In defense of the Alex Tizon article 

*I tweeted this discreetly after a blow up on social media from various parts of the world about the controversial long read. I noted there: article, because I intend to defend the article, not the things that happened in Alex Tizon’s piece for The Atlantic about his family’s secret

People demand truth but they blow up when it’s not to their liking, failing to recognize that the work was not a lie, in fact, a brave truth. It’s naive and idealistic to demand stories to paint black and white portraits of explicitly good and bad characters and behavior. Real life is a web of intersecting good and bad, where people, customs, mindsets, and the ways of the world, are allowed to change and grow. Scrutinizing and nitpicking issues from the place of privilege where one “knows better” is self righteousness guised as righteousness. People wanna intellectual-speak instead of opening up their hearts to a writer who poured his into this. Their bond, in spite of all that was wrong in their circumstance is more genuine than how subordinates anywhere in the world get treated. Note that you can hurt and walk all over people without having to break any laws or violate any basic rights. This was a lovingly written memoir of a family that captures the ff. very crucial phenomena in the human experience:

(1) There are remnants of servitude that haunt us as revamped forms of it still exist today.

(2) There is love in dark and difficult places.

We are all Alex Tizon when we are silent, but we can also be Alex Tizon when we choose to be kinder and softer.

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Devotion at an arm’s length 

*Don’t you just love following that obscure neon sign amidst unoccupied spaces in buildings for lease that lead to a staircase to an exhibit in progress

an edit I made from two other corners of the exhibit 🛠

This is supposed to be Polish artist Pawel Althamer‘s take on Quiapo’s diversity. But the historical district is also where thousands of entangled bodies pile on each other once a year during the Black Nazarene.

Apart from the religious undertones, it actually looks to me a lot like a gym on leg day, where people are enslaved to body goals. That is, if it was open to interpretation, the sort of environment I’m more aware of.

Cool thing is, visitors that drop by are welcomed to become part of the exhibit. Though it primarily represents disenfranchised members of community, now all walks of life can be unified in Nazareno: Quiapo Constellations. This is through casts of faces and limbs held together by old scraps of wood and metal from Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.


Featured image: a corner of Bellas Artes Outpost

Marikina: A heritage of homemade

*This is article is by my good friend, the monk himself, Peavey, who had just graduated a few months ago.

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I’ve actually never been here

In what I’m assuming is his last article in The Guidon, he so fittingly features (more like writes a special tribute) to Marikina City. It’s the kind of article every city deserves, and every publication and aspiring journalist needs to be able to type out.

I’m unsure whether I’ve really been to Marikina. I know I haven’t explored any of it then. I bet it would’ve been what Manila has sort of become to me and grown on me in my college years. It would’ve been my playground in between breaks had I stayed in Ateneo. I’m still set on visiting it someday especially after reading this travelogue.

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but I’ve been wanting to go since 2012

But not every joint run by passion is bannered with neon signs and billboards. Tucked away in the most unassuming corners of the city center or Bayan are surprisingly authentic ramen houses, holes-in-the-wall serving uniquely-crafted porridge and Visayan food joints.

Of course, all the walking one goes through helps digest all the eating. As the feet prime the stomach, shoes have been the city’s historical marker and primary product for centuries. Displays and shops sprawled around the riverbanks and traditional city center serve as living testimonies to this heritage.

The story of shoes and food arose together. Marikina resident and former Barangay Administrator Alan Bartolome shares that when shoemaking was the main occupation of the citizens, workers and shop owners would reward themselves and their families after a week’s labor. Too tired to cook, they would place hearty bulk orders of pancit and lumpia on the many eateries that still serve till today.

—Peavey Vergara

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think just how the white & blue scheme goes with a plate of Pinoy breakfast

No one can make pancit after a long day sound so appetizing and culturally significant as you have, Peaves!


Featured images: Rustic Mornings by Isabelo © Ea Senga

Cerulean blue

Ever seen The Devil Wears Prada? I saw it a few times when it first came out and as a partly tomboyish 12 year old girl with a fairly stylish mom seated next to me, I didn’t bother grasping the whole story. I thought I got what I needed to know. Someone like Anne Hathaway’s Andy, someone I knew from dorky to princess on Princess Diaries, could go from badly dressed to Paris Fashion Week, with a little patience and a good eye.

Now on its 10th anniversary, I want to watch the movie again. It seems relevant because I too assume I want to become a serious journalist, like the demanding devil’s right hand set out for bigger things outside the industry she first looked down on with her new sense of confidence and perhaps what you could call style. But there’s more to story than the underling growing up and out, changing through a very staged 2006 wardrobe that’s nevertheless fascinating to see. Rachel Lubitz writes just a few days ago How, In One Monologue, The Devil Wears Prada Nailed the Cultural Appropriation Issue.

Before you try to immerse yourself in an industry or culture, or mock it while appearing to embrace it (like Andy), learn the history. Because, after all, in fashion, a blue sweater is not just a blue sweater, but the result of many different people working very hard to give you something exciting. Every garment has a story.

Have a little respect.

To Madison, Streep’s monologue was the lightbulb. What Priestley is doing in that scene, essentially, is exposing how dismissive and unknowledgeable Andy is of the culture she’s taking part in — a culture that she previously viewed as frivolous.

So many of us, me included, have that tendency to view certain industries as frivolous, don’t we? Yet one way or another we all partake in them.

Despite how much of serious (still not straight news but I guess features and lifestyle) journalism I thought I had to be a part of, a part of me still looks to the left every now and then. The fashion industry repels the side of me that works under the motion that I have to do something sensible with my degree. Ironically I’ve written two final papers about philosophy and fashion, haha. Maybe it repels my face that never looks good in makeup for more than two hours and can’t stand on heels for three. There is however a quite as large side of me that’s drawn to fashion beyond its aesthetic appeal. Though I’ll never be a slave to it like my mom warned and how some of the characters in the film have shown, who knows? I might hate to love and love to hate working in it if I choose to strut into that direction for a change.

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*Here’s another 10th anniversary related opinion article about the film. It criticizes the film but I think moreover, it shoots down the many assumptions people have about how they think the film should be as oppose to letting it just be. 

Unapologetically Hipster

Gone are the 1940s, which had seen hipsters living like jazz musicians in self-imposed poverty, with an air of sarcasm and irony around them.

It seems the only two traits that have remained consistent for this century old demographic was that familiar sense of sarcasm, and a profound appreciation for weed.

— {yours truly}

I had the opportunity to write this article in the school paper and though it’s nowhere near what a perfect feature is, I modeled it after the tone of those seasoned New Yorker and NY Times articles, particularly the Rites of Passage ones, except obviously very very amateur, haha! Nevertheless this is still one of my favorite assignments so I’m pretty excited about it. It’d mean loads if you check it out! 😊

Featured photo: © Sean Kevin Joya 

Bourdainism: Taipei 2015

*I look up to Anthony Bourdain, hence “Bourdainisms” are my adventures and travels consisting of people, places, food, culture, and experiences out of my usual comfort zone.


Over a month ago, I went to Taiwan with my family and here are some tidbits about my trip. 

Frankly I’m not the biggest fan of Chinese food especially Taiwanese cuisine other than Din Tai Fung chains, because it’s either too bland, too oily, or it’s just not my cup of… yang chow fried rice, but this trip’s meals were really good.

As tourists we’ve all been tricked into eating in overpriced restaurants, but travelers seek to taste things outside of the typical menu of xiao long bao and assortments of dumplings. Take walks around the city. Neon signs and bustling cues and crowds will always lead you to where the locals eat. Where have the old people been going to eat? Where do the youngsters go?

Night markets without fail are always fun for shopping and food tasting. But food carts by the side of streets, parked beside motorcycles and trucks, as well as simple eateries that look like they’ve been around for decades are also without fail an eating experience.

My favorite traditional Taiwanese comfort food has got to be the fried dough dipped in warm soy milk, called youtiao. I could eat that breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between! I also get another cup of fresh soy milk to go, this time over ice. It’s like your Chinese Starbucks with only one homemade drink in the same shop at the corner of the street, prepared by the same people that have been getting up at 5 in the morning to knead pastry dishes all their lives. Okay, it’s not like Starbucks, but it’s worth the extra block and cueing up for.

I also have a lot more photos of sushi, just sushi, and more Japanese food than anything else, which gave a lot of people on Snapchat the impression that I was actually in Tokyo or Osaka, haha. And if you know me, you know I’m not the biggest sushi eater, but ever since I tasted the sushi (what an accomplishment for non-sushi-eaters) in the Japanese restaurants in Taipei, I’ve craved it since!

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Soy milk over ice, Sushi buffet, Youtiao, 1/16th of continental breakfast haha, Grocery finds, Standard milk appreciation photo, Local pastries, More fresh sushi, & Bitter gourd or ampalaya shake

A little history lesson for anyone wondering why I’m eating sushi all the way in Taiwain. Well after the Chinese-Japanese war, Japan occupied Taiwan in the early 1950s and have since maintained working relations and a strong influence in its culture today, especially in the capital seat of Taipei. From the abundance of imported Japanese goods in department stores to all-day Japanese buffets people wait in line for, the “peaceful people” left behind more than just kawaii shopping districts and delicately prepared fresh sashimi.

Taiwanese today are very mild-mannered and respectful. They’re also very disciplined, the kind of people that literally stay behind the yellow line or in between a carefully drawn out path for the next set of passengers to give way to those alighting the platform.

There’s a harmony to their civic-mindedness that’s distinctly similar to how I’ve pictured Japan from what I’ve read and heard, and I feel like I’m the ball of eagerness that’s disrupting their flow, taking pictures here and there.

Got allergies after my daily photowalks around the city but there's no better way around than by foot

My allergies hit on the third of my daily photowalks around the city but there’s no better way around than by foot, so it’s all good and there was a breeze

A huge part of why I enjoyed my trip is because of the boutique hotel we stayed in. Who doesn’t like hotels? But this one’s probably one of my favorites. Other than fast wifi and the Japanese-style toilets (buttons, sprinklers, and a system more updated than my laptop), there’s a coffee shop I can be left in for hours or days even, and I wouldn’t mind.

It’s also where we have our continental breakfast buffet (almost Jordan Peele level of awe), which is the only motivation I have to get out of a fluffy white bed. 6 in the evening is happy hour during which they serve wine, crackers, and cheese. Other times of the day, they offer snacks and sweets. Two words: chocolate & unlimited hot chocolate! 😊 Alright, those were five words for five times the love. Also why I walked down to the lobby in my PJ’s and startled a few people. But I didn’t mind cause the goal was to get to the hot chocolate machine.

In the same lounge, they have a mini library of coffee table books and I enjoyed every one of the six or eight that I read and browsed through. I wish I had more time or that I could’ve taken them home with me. There was no better alternative to spending an afternoon with sniffles and a gross pile of used tissue, reading about the history of toy trains, Barbie, and rare photographs of Amish towns.

Goofy in the city

More random shots and milk tea! Can’t go to Taiwan without drinking milk tea

Speaking of libraries, we took the bus at around 10 o’clock in the evening, to the famous 24-hour bookstore. To tell you the truth, it was a little bit of a disappointment. However, stationery heaven waited at the basement, but I decided not to get anything even if I wanted everything (again, notebooks and journals) because it was pricey. The other floors were just books, and although overwhelmingly large, only 5% of the stocks were in English and they were really common English books.

Had the bookstore offer a wider selection of English books, then I would’ve felt the way every local felt as they perched on every step and corner of the aisles, flipping through pages till the wee hours. I envied their bliss getting lost in infinite pages for an infinitely longer period of time, while I found myself just completely lost in translation in this forest of a library. But it was a sight to see anyhow.

Taipei is a melting pot of Asian influences and the old and the new. Small dilapidated town homes and shops sit in front of a skyscraper backdrop. In every street there’s something new being built or brewing with a 21st century city grind and craft morning ground; however, the streets are still tainted with a unique brand of Taiwanese culture and portions of Chinese history that waft the city. There’s still a lot I want to see and I wonder how Taipei will be in a couple of years. Till then!

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A selfie with a Comme des Garçons head wrap in Sogo showing off my freshly snipped hair then. And I didn’t buy the wrap nor a tee cause they didn’t have it in my size