Category: Journal Art

Beer Batter

I recently started a journal that’s all about cooking and food. It’s not a compilation of recipes but more on my thoughts about the process of cooking and learning about it. Anything I find interesting about food and our relationship with it. This particular entry is about using beer in fish fillet batter and why it tastes so much better. I’ve never liked drinking alcohol. Back when I was younger, I used to drink but strictly just to go along with work friends. I hated how alcohol tastes, especially beer. I hated how I felt while drinking and especially after drinking. I think I can count with one hand the number of times I tried drinking alcohol. So I was hesitant at first about using it in the batter for fish fillet. Surprisingly, the resulting dish doesn’t taste like beer at all. The batter is crunchy and remains crunchy longer, and the fish inside is moist and tender. Beer and its components help the cooking process along. It’s pretty interesting, these transformations that are invisible to the eyes that happen while food cooks.

Pain Perdu

I’m trying to revive my all-food journal again. I keep trying to compile food journal entries in one place but my mind keeps wandering and I keep writing about different things. I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, and I finished reading his other book “In Defense of Food” a few weeks back. His books inspire me to be more circumspect about food and to enjoy the process of cooking, especially now that we’re always home. Hopefully I can write more about it.

On Religious Legalism

My journal entry last Monday was about religious fundamentalism and legalism, and how incongruous it is to the example of Jesus. I won’t go into the many details of that but I have to admit that I wrote this because of a deep disappointment I’ve been feeling about many of the Christians in my life recently, and it came to a boiling point with the issue about Ben Tulfo’s very revealing statement on rape. As in revealing of his state of mind. Continue reading “On Religious Legalism”

Lockdown Diaries

Metro Manila has been on lockdown for 11 weeks. Only one person is allowed to go out of the house because only one quarantine pass per household is issued, and we can only go out during a certain window of time, 3 days a week (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday).

I have not been outside our home for over 11 weeks.

I keep a Hobonichi cousin, and I use the weekly pages to make short daily summaries at the end of the day. Just an overview of how the day went, along with a few to-do items. Here’s a collection of my weekly pages from the past 11 weeks of community quarantine. I included a simple drawing of what we had for lunch daily. It takes a few seconds to illustrate, these tiny drawings, but this little ritual has kept me calm and sane these past eleven weeks. It’s also a bit quirky, keeping track of what we eat no matter what that is. You can see the weeks when I made more of an effort to cook healthier food instead of relying on processed food that are quick to prepare. 11 weeks’ worth of daily summaries, showing what my life had been like in community quarantine. These daily summaries don’t take up a lot of time, but what they did for me in terms of my mental and emotional health is incalculable.

Aside from these weekly pages, I also write longer daily entries that include Covid cases and deaths in the Philippines and worldwide. The first day that I recorded these tallies was back in March 11, when we had only 33 cases in the country and no deaths. Fast forward to today, when the global tally is already over 6 million. I don’t subscribe to the idea of toxic positivity, where you only focus on the positive no matter what. I subscribe more to the eyes wide open school of thought. We’re going through extraordinary times, and it’s important that we be honest about what’s happening not just around us but also inside us. It takes more courage to face the facts, after all, and it’s an important process in being able to see what’s happening in a larger historical context.

Tomorrow we’re allowed to go out, with some restrictions. I am looking forward to seeing what the world outside looks like. We won’t be in lockdown anymore, but I know that life isn’t going back to normal anytime soon. We’re slowly inching our way to some sense of normalcy, and nobody knows what the next few days will be like. I think it will be interesting to read my journal entries for this year someday, several years from now, when we’ve put COVID behind us.

Continue reading “Lockdown Diaries”

Women Leaders

Today’s journal entry is about women leaders and the quality of leadership that they brought to their countries during the time of pandemic. I think one thing that this pandemic did was to shine a very bright spotlight on how poorly certain leaders are doing during these times. Leaders cannot bully, bribe, or brag their way around a pandemic. One also cannot fake empathy for the people. At leastĀ  not for long. It’s interesting how a handful of women leaders brought a markedly different approach to the pandemic. They harnessed data, encouraged research, reacted quickly, and brought an undeniable warmth and steadiness whenever they addressed the people. Meanwhile in the Philippines, our president can hardly get through a single press briefing without using foul language, which his supporters passes off as sincerity, lol. Anyway, I thought it would be great to make a journal entry about these remarkable women and their response to the pandemic because it will definitely be part of history.

Keeping an Art Journal Through a Pandemic

To say that the past few days have been difficult would be the understatement of the year. It’s been brutal on everybody, and harder for some than for others. It’s hard to fight off the existential dread that has been eating away at many of us these past few weeks. We’re almost at the middle of the third week of lockdown and though things are settling down a bit at home, it’s not always comforting to look at the news and see what the government is doing (or not doing). You look at how other countries are responding to the same existential threat and you see very clearly how much our own government has neglected us for years. You don’t really notice it if you’ve worked all your life to not need anything from the government, but when you’re put in a position where your life depends on it, things can get pretty bleak. I started documenting COVID19 around end of January, at a time when I was still wondering I’m overreacting to it (turns out I wasn’t). My husband and I were cautious about this novel virus, at a time when not a lot of people were taking it seriously yet. Then there was a lull in the local news about it, and things went back to “normal” for a time. Then the mad rush to get food before the “enhanced community quarantine”. It seemed like all of a sudden, reality spun out of control and we were struggling to secure our food supplies, herding our little family home, keeping out an invisible enemy while trying to make sense of the government’s haphazard, wildly-swinging policies about the lockdown.

I can still remember the last time I was outdoors. My husband and I were rushing to buy groceries at 6:50PM, making it through the door just 10 minutes before SnR closed. Then rushing home just a few minutes before the 8PM curfew, nervous about how we’re going to get my brother-in-law home from Quezon City when cities are closing borders. It’s like waking up to a new, dystopian version of your world. It’s very disconcerting, to say the least.

To keep calm and to help myself process what’s happening, I’ve begun to write more focused entries on the pandemic, hoping that I will be able to read them a few months from now and marvel at what we all went through.

Continue reading “Keeping an Art Journal Through a Pandemic”

Rampage

Yesterday’s journal entry was about my thoughts on the book I’m currently reading, “Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila” by James M. Scott. It’s hard to read thisĀ  book continuously. Honestly, it gave me nightmares, the same way that reading books about the Holocaust gives me nightmares. I wrote about how I felt while reading the excerpts from journals and survivor accounts. To think that some of the people living during that time are still alive. I recall back in my college days, one of our professors took us to this home for the aged in Quezon City. This home was different though because the occupants are all former comfort women. We sat with them individually, listened to them, kept them company. This book has graphic descriptions of the human cost of war, and knowing this, one would hope that world leaders would give it a lot of thought before even considering provoking one again. Knowing history is quite different from learning from it, I suppose.

A Timeless Gem

My journal entry today is about Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, which I’m rereading for a book club I joined. I’ve read this book several times when I was younger but the last time I read it was many years ago. I decided to refresh my memory and read it again, and instantly I was swept away to a different time and place. It’s so wonderful. I remember again why I loved this novel when I was young, it’s so pure and wholesome, and everything about it warms my heart. This sketch in particular is about one of my favorite parts of the book, when they were just beginning to make friends with Laurie. Jo went to visit him while he was sick and brought some blancmange that Meg made, and of course Beth sent the most sensible gift of all, her kittens.

I am halfway through the book and I’m reading slower so I can savor it longer. Of course I’ll need to reread Little Men and Jo’s Boys after this. Reading about Marmee made me miss my mom, though. She’s the same beacon of warmth and light, and her presence is sorely missed. I’m glad she instilled in me the love for books, and especially picked out Louisa May Alcott’s works to introduce me to the wonderful world of the March sisters.