Sushi Zen

Now tell me, who doesn’t love sushi?

Last week during Labor Day, Franco treated me to a special Japanese dinner before he left for Manila. By now, it’s quite obvious that my brother’s favorite cuisine is Japanese, so expect a lot of posts like these when I go out with my brother. This date was a spontaneous answer to our sudden craving for Asian food, sushi, and of course, all things RICE!

I promised myself 6 months ago, that before I left San Francisco, I would go down 19th Avenue and explore the Sunset district. I’m glad to have that item off my bucket list thanks to Franco. Along Taraval and 19th, there’s this hole in the wall Japanese restaurant called Sushi Zen which is famous for their signature rolls.

You would have to get through that tiny white door which could be tricky to open, but don’t be fooled by the size of it because it was quite spacious inside. It actually reminded me of the restaurants along Maginhawa, where the looks of the exteriors can get really deceiving.

We decided to get three plates of sushi for ourselves and Franco had a helping of miso soup on the side. I was quite disappointed that we had to buy the miso separately. Other Japanese restaurants would normally serve this while you were waiting for your meal. However, the service did not disappoint and so did the food. Our orders came right on time and our server paid extra attention to our needs.

When our food came, we were in heaven. See for yourself:  Continue reading “Sushi Zen”

Dreams do come true

The Foghorn - The Official Student Publication of the University of San Francisco

My piece on communication came out in The Foghorn today! It’s my first time to get published internationally and I am truly humbled by this experience.

“There are times where I spoke in class and couldn’t get my point across as I was struggling to find the perfect Tagalog-to-English translation. After watching certain emotional videos or heart-wrenching readings, I would find it difficult to relay my thoughts because the words I knew didn’t have an English equivalent.

It’s not a case of not knowing how to construct sentences properly or misusing the rules of grammar. The barrier stems from my personal history and my identity, just as someone from Europe, let’s say, might have trouble understanding a person of Asian descent. The difficulty for me begins when the clash of cultures make it impossible for a fluid communication to occur—that is, when the context from which we’re speaking differs in so many ways.”

Full article here: http://foghorn.usfca.edu/2012/04/filipina-exchange-student-tongue-tied-in-sf/

Lessons from a $2 ride

Everyday, the MUNI serves as my own little place of reflection. Cliche as this may sound, I have also found myself here. Today, I tried my best to capture the emotions that come alive when I step inside the 5, 28, 38, 31, 14L, 22, 43, or F–and hopefully immortalize the familiar feeling of hope that it never fails to give me once I step off.

There will be moments when you're left alone--and that's okay. We all need our space anyway.
You meet different people who are, just like yourself, fighting their own battles.
At times you may think you're helpless, but others need your strength.
Complicated stops are things you will encounter and overcome.
And in these stops, you will learn when to put your foot down and say "This is enough."
Other people will have finished the journey you are yet to take and you must use this as your source of hope.
Some doors close--
--while some are left wide open.
A lot of things won't make sense, but there will always be light if you just lift your head high.
You will find inspiration in the most unexpected things-- San Francisco's streets speak of a kind of life you never knew existed.
Finding your way won't be easy, but you'll get by. (You may feel the need to call for your mother at times, but this time--you're alone.)
People are carrying their burdens from Point A to Point B and suddenly your problems seem insignificant next to theirs.
But whatever happens, happens. You just gotta hold on tight.

Di mapigilang luha

Photo from the 2004 March for Women's Lives, t...
Photo from the 2004 March for Women's Lives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Di Mapigilang Luha” (Tears that could not be held back)

I cried in my Feminism class today. I will forever hate myself for letting my emotions get the best of me, but for those who know me well, you’d know that I do not possess the ability to hold back my tears.

The class was talking about abortion and throughout the entire meeting, I was all clammed up. My values were being challenged and I was being put in a vulnerable state–I literally felt like I was sinning just by sitting in that room, or for some weird reason, God would strike lighting and punish me for absorbing these words. But then I decided I would not let the moment pass. Kabang-kaba ako, nilalamig at di mapakali (I was nervous, cold, and restless)–it was best for me to shut up but I knew that it was easier to forgive myself for breaking down than it was if I’d just shut up completely. I just knew I had to say my piece.

It was 5 mins before the bell rang and I was the last one to say my piece on the topic. The question went a little like, “Do you think it’s murder to kill a fetus? Do you think the fetus is a person? Do you think abortion is necessary and how does that protect the mother? Do you believe that women should have a choice?”

I immediately raised my hand and began my point of not having to have to label all these beliefs in black and white. While they use scientific arguments (e.g. the fetus is scientifically not a person because it does not have a brain, etc. etc.), I raised the point that before considering science as a basis for judgment, cultural backgrounds of certain groups of people must come into play. I was going to digress more about the upbringing that both religion and family ties impose on us, Filipinos, but my mind drifted off to thinking about my education and the education of the young people in Manila who were just like me.

I started tearing up and eventually went on to crying because I realized that my education did not give me the other side of the story. I was crying because I was shaken, yes, but a part of my tears were also because I was opened to the truth that the Philippines was not even close to being a progressive nation. In elementary and high school, Health class didn’t teach us anything other what we already knew and topics like sex, abortion, contraceptives and the like were discussed in passing and if the topics did come up, it was considered as taboo, or bad, or yes — a sin.

I do not denounce my religion because I am a firm believer of my faith. I just hoped that I learned more from my education without religion having to hinder the content of what I was to absorb. The class today taught me so much things not only about abortion, but also about the concepts of being open to a different perspective and knowing when to filter what you hear and learn. I wish I had a lot more knowledge on these things, rather than having a limited scope of ideologies now that I’m 20. As I am writing this, I realized that another reason for my crying was because I can’t believe I actually went on with life without questioning what’s given to me– I have passively assimilated that the idea of this is “wrong” and never bothered to look at the other side.

I know that my stance on the RH Bill is an inevitable question that may rise from this entry, so let me clear that I am pro-RH Bill with revisions (contraceptives and sex education) but am against abortion. However, I now respect the views and opinions of everyone on the latter as opposed to my earlier thinking that it was a “sin” mainly because I’ve received so much understanding from my class today. Although I still hold on to my faith and will forever do, I support the plight of these women all over the world to have a say to what their body goes through and fight for having a choice. I would personally not go through with an abortion because it is against my personal values, but I can proudly say that I’ve earned an entirely new level of respect for those who fight for it. ‘To each, his own’ and I’ve realized that we shouldn’t be quick to judge because we do not know the battles behind the faces we interact with.

As I was apologizing to my class and to my professor, I thanked them for giving me a whole new set of eyes to see the world in. Not only did I learn that abortion wasn’t only a matter of life or death but human rights and choice, but I also learned that I always need to look at the other side of things to make sense of the world. I have learned that issues like these stem from the fact that people, by nature, always want to have a sense of hierarchy between right and wrong– and abortion, in this example, further triggers conflicts in society because opposing parties refuse to meet in the middle and attempt to understand. The universe doesn’t revolve around me and I knew that, but it was only today that I fully felt like I had so much left to discover, learn, and explore that Manila and my education there, no matter how great it has been, is not enough to make me a citizen of humanity.

I’d like to thank my Feminism class for being there for me and receiving me with an open mind–I am sorry for not being an open-minded person to those like you in the past, Dr. Raeburn, for understanding that I come from a completely different cultural background and appreciating the effort I put into adjusting to the new ideologies presented in class, and to Fran, Debora, Natalia and Gracie, for making me feel like I wasn’t alone and that it was okay to be shaken once in a while.

*Comments are very much appreciated as I need more conversations regarding this topic.

**This entry was written in the rawest form, just hours after the incident happened, with emotions still very fresh. I apologize for any errors this piece may have.

Tani’s Kitchen

Cravings are usually a regular for me. Last night, my palate yearned for sushi. After spending the entire afternoon in Japantown to take part in the Cherry Blossom Festival, I can’t believe that my brother and I weren’t able to find a decent place to have a nice Japanese dinner. The area was just too full and there wasn’t any space for two wandering Filipinos such as ourselves. Tired and frustrated, we decided to head back home and to our delight, found a hole in the wall Japanese restaurant just 5 minutes away from our place.

Photo credit: infoUSA

Tani’s Kitchen is located in the Westlake complex in Daly City. It’s something you would miss while on a car or bus, but if you go by foot, you won’t miss the sign hanging above their door. However, most regulars opt to have their orders to go since the place only seats 14 people– six on the counter and two in each of the four mini tables. The place is definitely not for the claustrophobic. Tani’s isn’t what you’d call 5 star, but their food was excellent and reasonably priced. A $20 (~900php) Japanese dinner for two wasn’t bad at all.

Tani's Kitchen - Menu

Franco and I had a nice dinner seated on the counter and had the opportunity to watch the chef make the sushi we ordered. What’s nice about the place is that you know your food is fresh and you get it right at the moment it leaves the kitchen–which was literally two steps away from where we were seated. The service was okay and I could probably blame that on the language barrier (our server had trouble with English), but overall, it was quite the experience and I’m definitely coming back before I fly out to Manila.

What we ordered: Tempura and chicken teriyaki bento, crunchy makimono and Philly makimono.
I give them points for presentation!
Their salad was interesting because it's the first time I've had a spicy twist to my vinaigrette. It also seems like the dressing had freshly pureed tomatoes in it, so that added to the refreshing burst of flavor it had.
Franco and I split the tempura-- he had the shrimp, I had all the veggies.
The bento box was blowing off steam until the end of our meal. Tani's truly defines "hot off the grill".
The sushi plate satisfied my cravings! The Philly was one of the creamiest I've ever had (look at the cheese in that thing!), but I do wish they put in a bit more shrimp inside the crunchy makimono.
I added spicy furikake to my Kikkoman to give it a little bite. It was a nice discovery and I'll surely be doing that again in my future sushi sessions.
Franco enjoyed the meal so much that we decided to save up on a Japanese buffet before we leave for home. If that plan pushes through, expect a Kome blog entry from me in the coming weeks!