The douchebag pass

One lesson my mom insists I never forget is that nobody, no matter how brilliant, gets a douchebag pass (though not in so many words).

As the co-owner of a Montessori school, she’s worked for years with all sorts of kids, many of whom have special needs that compromise their learning ability. The most common needs that qualify as special are those that bestow upon their owners ADHD, autism, and dyslexia, but recently the school accepted a student who’s special in a different way: With math skills, logical reasoning, and verbal and reading ability well beyond his 9 years, he’s gifted.

Unfortunately, in addition to being extremely intelligent, he’s also unbelievably unlikeable. This kid, whose age isn’t even in the double-digits, is already  impatient, condescending, and disrespectful in ways that parents ought only to experience when their kids hit adolescence and their moodiness and the desire to punch them in the face are unwelcome but expected visitors.

So, why is he like this? Is it because he doesn’t see the point in the step-by-step learning process that he has to sit through, just like everybody else? Is is because his thought-process is at the finish line before anyone else’s has warmed up? Probably. But (as my mom asked me when I pointed this out) so what? Why does having above-average ability give him an excuse to be obnoxious? He is the way he is because his parents and everyone else around him gave him a pass and allowed him this feeling of entitlement.

Going to college, widening my horizons, and meeting all sorts of talented people has shown me that this gifted-ergo-douchebag phenomenon doesn’t only apply to academic achievement. It applies to artistic talent, to film literacy, even to taste in music and books. It would be a laughable lie if I said I’ve never been guilty of condescension, but lately I’ve become particularly conscious of how tiring it is be around people who are so good at what they do that it eats away at their ability to be kind.

Does knowing about good, underground music give you a monopoly on good taste? No, it means you have an ear for sound and the good luck to get at it before the radio does. Does graduating with honors means you can scoff haughtily at everyone who doesn’t as you post your QPI on Twitter? No, it means you got high grades that no one else really cares about. If you have talent, does flaunting it as though the world is doubting you have it (when nobody really is) increase that talent? No, because being blessed with talent and skill gives you just that: Talent and skill. To think that those things are packaged together with the right to display superiority is the equivalent of a 7 year old basing his eminence on how much later his bedtime is.

In short, nobody deserves a douchebag pass just because they’re armed with gifts that set them apart. In my eyes, the appeal of talent takes a beating if it’s outweighed by a superiority complex.

Cupcakes are always the answer

During Holy Week, everything shuts down: The MRT doesn’t run, radios emit static, and even malls that operate on Christmas day don’t open shop. For some people, these days leading up to Easter Sunday are set aside for the observation of religious traditions like visita iglesia and stations of the cross. For others, it has evolved into an extended holiday meant to be spent away from Manila, which empties the usually-packed roads so much that you half expect tumbleweed to roll by.

My family, however, ignores both these customs. We’ve never really been religious, which rules out taking part in the traditional Holy Week events. As we got older and things at home started to change, family trips just stopped getting planned; my mom works, my dad is with his girlfriend, and my siblings are married and have families and trips of their own.

So with nowhere to go, nowhere to be, no one to spend time with, and no way around, I’ve come to associate Holy Week with resourcefulness. What can be done to repel the boredom?

Yesterday, after two movies and a book, I decided that the answer to that question was an improvised cupcake recipe: Dark chocolate cake and three different kinds of icing.

I got the cake part of the recipe from here (sour cream and cupcakes just don’t make sense together though, so I scrapped that part).

I made vanilla buttercream frosting at first, but that was boring.

So I turned it into chocolate buttercream frosting!

I didn’t like the consistency of the icing though, so i tried out a peanut butter version instead.

I don’t eat what I bake though, so these are up for grabs.

Next, lemon sorbet :)

Jaq and Gus for a day

My cousin, Gabbie, is a fashion student as De La Salle College of Saint Benilde. I’ve seen her sketch skirts and party dresses, heard her crack jokes about zippers and fabric, and last night I watched her make Cinderella’s ball gown.

One of the classes she’s taking right now is children’s clothing construction, so of course the logical decision was to make a princess dress for her final project.

Children’s clothes are deceptive though. They may be small and make you want to take the nearest and fattest child out for a shopping spree, but they’re just as (if not more) difficult to make as big-people clothes. So her sister, Dan, and I played Jaq and Gus in her Cinderella sweatshop story.

Dan helps with Gabbie’s projects so often that she really ought to graduate with a fashion minor. She’s had just as many sleepless nights, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s able to relate to Gabbie’s jokes about different types of pockets.

Dan, Cinderelli's #1 mouse, working on the nine feet of fabric that will make the skirt fluffy

All I really did was take pictures and make pa-cute.

Wrapped in my wedding veil that smelled of feet and dried sweat. <3

Seven hours, a cup of coffee each, and lots of inexplicably weird moments (“If you had to get raped by any animal, which animal would you choose?”) later, this is how far we’d made it:

 


 

The Salgado house, where the will to stay thin goes to die

If you ever need to eat your weight in lutong-bahay na sosyal food and not regret it, Cara’s house is the place to go.

She turned twenty recently, and in celebration of her departure from her teen years, she served paella, greek salad, angel hair pasta, fish, salad rolls, red velvet cakes, and an unending supply of amazing cupcakes. I think that eating a little (okay, a lot) of all of that was a jab at the version of myself who sometimes insists that looking good in a bikini takes priority over enjoying excellent food.

It didn't even occur to me to just go back for more later.

There’s been a lot of nonsense among my own friends lately about what it takes to stay thin. Too many times I’ve heard of people going to the gym everyday, sniffing food to satisfy a craving, counting calories, drinking only juice for days on end, and jumping on the bandwagon of every new and ridiculously priced workout regimen. While their toned legs and flat stomachs say that their efforts were not in vain, I look at them as they push away their carbs and sugars and  seriously question their emotional stability.

I worry that they’ve equated their self-worth with what they see when they step in front of a mirror or onto a weighing scale, and they’ve lost the ability to look at themselves objectively. They hunger for approval, so every spoonful of rice is an obstacle to their goal, every bite of a cupcake a hurdle in the way of their happiness, until nothing is good enough. There’s nothing wrong with working on your appearance, until it becomes the basis for the way you do and view everything else.

Maybe watching people I know do this to themselves is why, instead of spending my first weekend of summer running off the weight I gained during the school year, I lounged about my house, reading books, watching movies, and downloading music. Ironically, hearing them go on about their weight has been a constant reminder to me that there are things in life that deserve to be ranked above my lack of abs.

But I digress. All I meant to do when I started this entry was post food pictures. So let’s get to it.


Greek salad a la Cyma

Red velvet birthday cake!

The art of science

“ART HAD to come to rescue science from its boringness.”

– Emily Abrera (board member)

It may raise some eyebrows among defensive science buffs, but this statement perfectly encapsulates the principles that built the newest and already most celebrated science museum in the country: The Mind Museum.

Taking up an entire hectare of land in Bonifacio Global City, the museum is the product of the attempt to unify science and art, and the one billion peso answer to the simple question, “How can science be presented differently?”

Culturally, Filipinos are an aesthetically driven people. Art and the opportunity to be involved in it is what catches and holds our attention. Generally, it isn’t enough to hand us notes on solar energy and expect us get a kick out of reading them. We respond best to what is tangible and what is beautiful.

THE LIGHT LIFE. These solar-powered bug models are kept mobile by a halogen lamp that represents the sun.

That is a lesson Maribel Garcia, the curator and visionary of the museum, picked up from her 25 years as a science writer.

“I noticed that when you use language that is beautiful—and I don’t mean dumb or simple, I mean beautful–you access certain minds who otherwise would not have really paid attention to how the world works,” she said.

With this in mind, she conceptualized the museum so that it would demonstrate science in a fashion previously unknown to the general Filipino public. She said, “We were going to do science exhibits, but we were going to use art as a strategy, not the goal… It is still ultimately to show a principle in science, but we would have to cloak it in really beautiful forms.”

I love the theory behind this museum. Their attempt to accomplish it is evident in a number of their exhibits, from the fossil cave with its sand-covered floor to the playground installations with their bubble-makers and off-center see-saws, but they still seem to have a lot to work on.

I was a little disappointed that a number of the exhibits were out or order or not yet ready for use at all. I was hoping for something as interactive as San Francisco’s Exploratorium (but I was only six when I went, and people have a bad habit of becoming less excitable as they get older). Then again, I was only there on its second official day, and allowance ought to be given for birthing pains.

Stan the T-Rex is named after Stan Sacrison, the discoverer of T-Rex bones in the 1980s.

Nonetheless, the international praise the museum has received isn’t unwarranted. It’s the first and only museum of its kind in the country, and for that alone it deserves recognition.