Tuesday, January 03, 2006


The holidays, anywhere between December 24 and January 1, were spent shopping for gifts. Yes, gifts for friends, officemates and family. The shopping drained my finances leaving me without anything for myself. Don’t get me wrong peeps, I’m not whining. I still believe in the adage: It’s better to give than to receive. Amen.

Holiday shopping was done in parts ‘coz I was financially incapable of a one-time grand pocket-slashing shopping journey. Like majority of us, I needed to budget my wads, limited wads. So practicality dictated a shopping list that had to be revised a couple of times. And mind you, revisions were made in just a matter of minutes. You know how it goes: list, de-list, re-list and aided with the calculator feature of my 5-year old mobile, finally, I came up with a shortened but meaningful list.

In the midst of the materialistic fervor that’s shopping, I was able to squeeze some time for exercise. Instead of buying something, I opted to give myself a gift of fitness. Nakks!!! In case you haven’t come across it yet, the “gift of fitness” is the mantra of an international fitness club that is aggressively marketing its presence in the Philippines and banking on the Pinoy “pa-macho/pa-sexy” psyche.

The holiday rush (plus the booze and food bingeing) did not deter me from my “holy” training plan. Running, my running, had never been this really freaking serious. The past days and nights were totally awesome. Training had me running from the Fort Strip all the way through a minor ascent to McKinley road in Forbes Park until slightly reaching EDSA for a turnaround. The final stretch had me running flatly in the direction of the Bonifacio stopover turning right toward Market Market! and finally heading back to the strip. I lost count of the rounds I made. What stuck in my mind was the almost three hours of sweet hell!

I kept outdoing myself with each run. It was like a revelation. I never thought I could be this passionate and focused with road running. I loved every second of it; cherished every sweat that trickled from my pores; ached for every grasp of breath and wickedly mouthed expletives whenever I felt exhaustion knocking into my senses, enveloping me with fear of physical limitation…and yet I kept running.

OK I feel I’m boring you with running 101’s, let me go back to the holidays. My family’s Noche Buena feast was the usual stuff, nothing fancy, just the tried and tested hamonado, fruit salad, spaghetti (the sweet Pinoy version) and Coke (make that Diet… Hehehe). So for the Media Noche fare, I decided it had to be a little different. I devised a New Year’s Eve dinner menu consisting of fresh greens in vinaigrette and mixed seafood soup and ramen for appetizer; followed by the main course of grilled lamb chops with buttered button mushrooms in parsley and tuna kebab; dessert was the heavenly mango-jelly salad prepared by my sister and sweet bloody red iced tea for refreshment. A bottle of Merlot for the adults capped the sumptuous feast.

The dinner menu was my idea. Well, it was not exactly wholly mine ‘coz some dishes were inspired by a bit of a Lifestyle Network exposure. That’s kudos in part to Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Nigella Lawson, Ming of Ming’s Quest and those really amazing Japanese Iron Chefs.... Hiyaaa!!!!!!!! The coiffed Iron Chef host announces in his trademark smirk: Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Iron Chef Nobu’s contender from Nagasaki prefecture, Master Chef Hirosan… Hahaha…

Planning the menu was fun. Shopping for the ingredients was another story. Whoever said that shopping was therapeutic, relaxing or enjoyable must have been feverishly out of his mind. Well, I realized shopping was really tedious. I decided to get everything from Market Market! because of its extensive outdoor tiangge-style fruit and veggie stalls and the surprisingly huge Metro Gaisano supermarket at the basement. The whole place was packed. The counters had queues to forever. It was terribly annoying. What made me more fidgety was the fact that I was on a budget and that I needed to buy everything for a thousand or less! Apart from that constraint, my knowledge on food items was so limited that I had to buy them through mind-recall (Is this the dressing that Mario mentioned in Molto Mario? Did Nigella ever mention that parsley goes well with buttered mushroom?). I had to ask help from the other shoppers as well which was admittedly pleasurable. Somehow in the midst of this chaotic consumerist exercise, I was able to apply a few socializing skills.

The whole task of planning, shopping, preparing and partly cooking the dishes had me exhausted. Mid-way through dinner I felt a kind of familiar, comforting and undeniably tempting drowsiness that had me early in bed. I was in oblivion while the rest of the city noisily celebrated New Year. I even missed my friend’s Sunlounge party at Rockwell. I was supposed to go there around 1AM or until after the “bombs” had subsided; unfortunately, I woke up past 2AM and still sleepy.

December is undoubtedly the country’s official party season. What with the barrage of party invites here and there. Although I got my fair share of engagements, I felt I was less of a partygoer in 2005. I don’t know what happened. It could be that I am getting old for brazen drunkenness and nights of debauchery or that my usual gimmick buddies who I constantly invite and unceasingly remind of the fabulous (night)life are the ones feeling the bite. Hahaha…. Some friends will cry foul after reading this blog. Hey, the season of peace still lingers in the air… Hahaha.

The holiday season made me realize the essentials of one’s existence. Life, however chaotic; happiness, however shallow, all go back to the basics: family, friends and oneself. Amidst the blatant commercialism and the perceived loss of the true meaning of the season, it is reassuring that one still has family, friends and the sanity that collectively remind you of the meaning of Christmas and the New Year- a celebration of life and a continued journey to blissfulness.