In the kitchen, more

What’s a subtle benefit of staying at home and avoiding restaurants? I’ve never cooked this much in my life. My partner and I created a meal plan which I document using a Google sheet. Recently I’ve learned how to bake salmon (which is fairly simple). I’ve also improved the time it takes to make cheesy tuna pasta. I’ve made improvised tacos. Simple really. We placed some pita bread in the oven since our preferred grocery store nearby doesn’t seem to have taco shells in stock.

Am I proud? Of course I am. I’m graduating from Singapore’s circuit breaker and phase 1 knowing that I can also cook a Filipino staple like sinigang. I’ve never baked fish in my life until now. I can even chop garlic cloves faster. My brother is doing more cooking as well. He shares photos in our WhatsApp family chat group.

We count the things we’re thankful for.

What have you cooked recently?

Freedom should never be taken for granted

June 12 is Philippine Independence Day. It’s when the Philippines declared itself independent from Spain in 1898. It’s taken different meanings through the decades. In 2020, it’s a potent reminder to never take the freedoms we enjoy for granted. We can’t afford to be silent if we see injustices happening. Speak up. The Philippines is not for sale to those more powerful. We are our own country.

It’s mid-June in the year of the coronavirus. Four and a half months later, Singapore leads Southeast Asia in total pandemic cases which is short of 40,000. Neighbouring Indonesia is past 36,000 with daily increases reaching new highs. Singapore’s circuit breaker and phase 1 have seen cases that reveal a gradual drop in cases. It used to be in the 800-1,000 a few weeks ago. We’re now seeing 400-500. The country is observing community transmission since circuit breaker ended on June 1. The Philippines is seeing 25,000 and that number is increasing too – with protests happening on Philippine Independence Day and quarantine measures being lifted by the government.

I’ve started my new job working for a media intelligence company. I’ve completed my first training week. I’m eager to quickly learn the ropes. I have an affinity towards media professionals and journalists. I studied broadcast journalism in university and I’d jump on any opportunity to provide support to media professionals and journalists back home.

Weather in Singapore has been a mix of humid afternoons and fierce thunderstorms. You can spot the tops of buildings across the length of Bedok Reservoir from our living room window in Tampines. In the distance, you can see the Singapore skyline. This includes Singapore’s tallest buildings like Guoco Tower, One Raffles Place, and the UOB Building. I’ve sat in the living room long enough to notice when the sunlight reflects off some of the downtown buildings or when the water at Marina Bay bounces light onto one of the hotels there. Wild.

I try to jog at least three times a week. On alternate days, I’m exercising at home with the help of these videos and Just Dance 2020. I’ve noticed I’m getting larger in the belly area — likely due to being stationary at home the past three months. The new job I have means I’ll potentially be client-facing. I want to ensure I look sharp. 🙂

Music I’m listening to…

Lady Gaga’s Chromatica album is a blessing for 2020. Every song is a hit. I love Free Woman, Plastic Doll, and Sour Candy (her collab with Blackpink). Since 2018, I’ve been listening to more K-pop. It’s bubbly, upbeat, and well-produced. I’m obsessed with SUNMI – who drops music like tap water that was switched off 10 minutes ago. TWICE, I thought was a duo. BTS, an explosion of creativity and inspiration (really, if you haven’t caught up with BTS, listen to their music… there’s so much heart in it and in their performances). Then there’s ITZY, adding color to the monsoon season.

Shows I’m watching…

PJ and I completed The Good Fight — meaning we’re CURRENT. Legit we subscribed to Amazon Prime to watch The Good Fight but the fourth season wasn’t available so we had get creative. I completed Westworld season 3, which has numerous scenes filmed in Singapore. The season’s rehoboam supercomputer sits in Marina One which was next to my old office. Marina One houses the offices of Facebook and Netflix in Singapore.

Speaking of Westworld, I’m confused by it lol. But I keep watching. Weird.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 was a highlight of the past two months. The season is lighthearted and the stories are inspiring. It’s different from some of the drama of past seasons. I understand some fans live for that drama. But with the coronavirus, we needed a season that doesn’t feel too petty.

We’ve moved onto RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 5 which brings us back to some drama. Derrick Berry, who I thought was a questionable addition to RPDR All Stars 5 initially… is gold. Absolutely proven wrong. He brings reality drama back to the show. Spoiler alert coming up. He is the first to be eliminated from All Stars 5.

I’m taking two online writing courses on Udemy. I’m hoping to finally complete at least one of them today.

I’m working on launching a website called Singapore Kuya. It’s a resource for Filipinos living and working in Singapore. Do visit and follow. 🙂

We made it to the end of the circuit breaker

In about 30 minutes, Singapore’s circuit breaker is coming to an end. Hoping that the next few days and weeks the country won’t see a spike in cases. Realistically, I think there will still be cases. But I’m hoping it’s manageable and that the cases count in the migrant worker dormitories will continue to decline.

The idea of staying home for almost two months sounds like a vacation. Honestly, the anxiety and the isolation isn’t good. I’m one of the fortunate ones who could work from home. But my heart pours out to the frontliners from the hospitals to the delivery folks. Those who worked in essential services like my partner. Those who are in supermarkets and clinics. Those in hawkers. Those who lost their jobs in the travel industry.

With the end of the circuit breaker comes a new role I’m starting in. I’ve had to offboard from my previous company, remotely. Now, I’m going to onboard remotely. It’s bizarre but this is the time we live in. I’ll have to make the most of it. I’m thrilled at the possibilities. I’m letting go of the worries. I’ve taken new learning courses. I’ve increased my professional network by 82% in the past two months. I’ve assembled an emergency fund and will continue to add into it in the weeks and months to come.

From Today Online

Let’s see what happens tomorrow when Singapore re-opens with Phase 1. 🙂

Running Route: Tampines Avenue 1 and Bedok Reservoir

I feel a little bit of accomplishment. LOL

I’ve nailed a new 5km route from my new rental flat in Tampines. It’s about half sidewalk (Tampines Avenue 1) and half park (Bedok Reservoir Park) along its northeastern stretch.

Basically, I start off right in front of the main entrance of Temasek Polytechnic (TP). I take this footbridge to cross to the other side so there are fewer people (since we are practising physical distancing right now).

It’s an easy warm-up jog on the sidewalk in front of TP. You’ll reach a series of condos that sit on the edge of Tampines which is also where one of the major roads spill onto. You’ll notice the sidewalk signs indicate you’re on the Park Connector Network (PCN). Follow this along the edge of the condo wall and it brings you to the northern part of Bedok Reservoir Park. Here, you’ll enter the park through Bedok Reservoir Carpark B.

Because it’s circuit breaker, the park is only open to joggers who need to get some fresh air and to take in the lovely scenery. I mean, fine, it’s man-made. But I’ll take it over running in tiny circles near my HDB block.

Bedok Reservoir Park includes a jogging path that is made of gravel. This is one of the unique features of this park. If I understand correctly, the gravel path is unbroken around the entirety of the reservoir lake.

However, I didn’t realise there was a non-gravel path available as well if you don’t want to dirty your shoes. This wider path is the standard in Singapore and it is shared with bikers, dog walkers, and people on rollerblades.

I noticed the park had a reasonable amount of activity-goers (the “approved activities”) this early evening. It’s nice that the government even has the technology to detect if a park is crowded or not.

I did both the non-gravel and gravel path. When you reach the Forest Adventure attraction (ziplines), it’s obviously closed. But they’ve also closed the gravel path for a certain stretch due to redevelopment of some sort. This is also where the dragon boats are at Bedok Reservoir.

Back onto the non-gravel path, it leads toward the “main entrance” of the park which has Wawawa (the nice restaurant at this location which I can’t wait to open again for cocktails and pizza). This is also where Carpark A is. Mindful I wasn’t going to hit my 5km goal if I headed back to Tampines Avenue 1… I circled the main park area a few times while taking in the purple sunset. YES. A purple sunset this evening. Like a painting.

Exit through Bedok Reservoir Carpark A and make a hard left back towards Tampines town. A large construction site is there which is the future site of Tampines GreenGem. An exciting new HDB development that will have a view of the reservoir.

This would be around the 4km to the 4.5km mark. Great to spot the Tampines West MRT station at the intersection. This is also where “Tampines town” begins. I make a hard left on the side of TP to finish the loop at 5km right in front of the main entrance of TP.

I noticed my energy levels and pace reach optimum around the 4km mark. I enjoyed getting into my stride again. I try to run 3-5km at least three times a week. I used to do this at Marina Barrage. I’m happy I’ve found an easy route right outside my rental in Tampines.

I’m planning to tweak this route into a 5.5-km or 6-km if I do one loop around Bedok Reservoir Park (the actual body of water) + TP. I’ll update again in a future post.

For those reading from outside Singapore: What is Circuit Breaker?

NOTE: Circuit breaker encourages the public to stay at home at all times. We are only allowed to go out to buy essentials (groceries, takeout food) and to do some exercise which is what I did. Wearing of masks is mandatory unless you’re running, biking, or doing some form of solo streneous activity while outdoors. I had my mask with me the whole time and I would wear it once I started walking.

Where’s your favourite running route?

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Tampines West during circuit breaker

I took these photos during my first walk around the neighborhood after 17 days non-stop at home. I took a walk around 6:30 PM when some residents were going out to dapao (takeout) food from the hawker and coffee shops nearby. There were a few joggers.

In my eight years in Singapore, the mood outside has never been this silent. I’m sure everyone is trying to do their best right now. What’s happening right now from a practical POV:

  • Barber shops are closed. This was removed from the essential services for two or three weeks. I think they might re-open on May 12 since the community cases have dwindled lately.
  • Bubble tea shops are closed too. This might seem pretty trivial compared to the greater scheme of things. But it’s symbolic of some of the modern pleasures that have to be put on hold. Bubble tea shops were part of the reduced essential services. Originally they fell under “food and beverage” which was to remain open. But they clamped down on some of the F&Bs.
  • McDonalds remains closed in Singapore. A few Covid-19 cases were from McDonalds employees a few weeks back. McDonalds announced it will be closing all of its stores in Singapore. I think they can re-open when some of the circuit breaker measures are slowly lifted soon… but they announced that they will remain closed for a while. I probably eat McDonalds twice a week.
  • You cannot jog together with housemates. Even people staying in the same household cannot jog or exercise outside together. People are encouraged to exercise alone.
  • It’s mandatory to wear a mask when outdoors in public. You can only remove the mask if you are jogging or doing some type of streneous exercise. But you have to put it back on as soon as you’re done with your exercise.
  • Social distancing continues. With non-essential businesses closed, the essential ones like grocery stores and hawker centres have queuing markers to help with social distancing. People are encouraged to stay a meter apart from others. However, at a grocery store, sometimes people gather at one area briefly. What I do is I make sure there’s an opening… go in… and grab what I need (like frozen pork).

Generally, I don’t want to be outside of my house. I would only leave for groceries (meats) and to jog. Even with circuit breaker being lifted in a few weeks… I’d likely reduce interactions with people. Some of the things I’d probably try doing:

  • Playing video games. Final Fantasy VII Remake and Animal Crossing are on my list. I’d also like to learn some steps with Just Dance.
  • Taking online courses. There are numerous courses that I’m currently taking like digital marketing and events management.
  • Organising my digital files. I’m behind on this (with the deluge of media). I’d like to organise this with my cloud and my hard drives.
  • Cooking a new recipe each week. I have yakisoba and kimchi pork on my list.
  • Exercise at home. Body weights, HIIT, etc.
  • Learn a new language. Japanese?

Stay safe and take care, everyone.

How are you coping with the pandemic?

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3 emotions I’m probably better without

What are the three emotions I’m probably better without?

  • Worry. I worry about situations I can’t control. I worry about the ideas or concepts that I’m not knowledgable in. I worry about the things I’ve said or haven’t said.
  • Anger. I snap when I’m angry. I can turn into a fireball of rage. I express my emotions in American English – my first language. F-words are native.
  • Nostalgia. I am overly sentimental about people and things. I document memories. I get stuck thinking that I’m a victim of my past.

These are three emotions I’m probably better without. But I acknowledge how each one has a tiny silver lining.

Worrying has taught me to create documents in how I organise my thoughts and plan for the future. It’s taught me to come up with an action plan. Worrying keeps me on my feet. I only have to ensure I keep from over-worrying. Too much of it is detrimental.

Anger has taught me that I’m responsible for my actions. There are consequences. But anger has also been my great equalizer. It’s taught me to flex for what I’m worth and to stand up for myself. I have to ensure that anger is not directed at people. Too much of it will alienate loved ones.

Nostalgia has taught me to look at the bright moments of the past. It reminds me to believe that I’ll make it through to the next day. I have to ensure that I’m at peace with the fact that the past cannot be changed. Too much nostalgia is deadweight for the future.

What emotions would you be doing better without?

May you treat yourself better

To be business as usual in the middle of a pandemic is stupid.

Instead, do what you can but don’t exert too much pressure on yourself to deliver value or ruthless productivity at the expense of your mental health. I’m not saying live in your ivory tower and play Mario Kart all day. What I repeat is this: do what you can but don’t cry over the things you can’t do.

The situation varies. My partner is a breadwinner and I understand he doesn’t have some of the liberties I enjoy. He has tuitions to pay for. He needs to provide for his family. He has to be productive, yes. But I’ve noticed, thankfully, that his company supports working from home. His company enables him to work from home. It’s win-win.

Others out there have lost their jobs. In Singapore Q1 this year, total employment has plunged according to Channel NewsAsia. The travel industry is crippled. Blue-collar workers are without work. They say that the pandemic is the first wave. The economy is the next to suffer. It’s not looking good.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. This is where attention needs to grow. First, society looks at containing and mitigating the pandemic. Next, how are we caring for the mental health of those affected (which is virtually every person out there except perhaps the Sentinelese). In Singapore, an Indian national who had Covid-19 was found dead at the foot of a hospital stairwell. Dead by unnatural causes. What made him end his life?

The situation in the foreign worker’s dormitories in Singapore is SAD.  I’ve refused to write about anything that might seem politically-charged (I mean, my blog is really personal and about gadgets, and food). But I hope this pandemic has placed the magnifying glass on Singapore’s migrant population. They are heroes. They build Singapore: MRT stations, buildings that house Fortune 500s, condos, roads, and parks. I hold faith in Singapore’s efficiency. I hope those companies that neglect worker’s rights and promote sub-standard living conditions are punished.

Wheew. What a mouthful. Probably because we’re halfway through circuit breaker.

It’s a new month and instead of checklists of what I need to do… I’m reversing it. I’m writing down things I’ve doing each day to make it to the next. It could be as calm as answering three emails and then making myself another cup of instant coffee. It could be walking around the neighborhood with a 1.5 kilometer distance… yes, shorter than the usual 3-5km I’d enjoy running. But 1.5 km is an achievement. Even 200 meters is.

This pandemic is a middle finger to a society bent on over productivity. Do what you need to do to get something important done, absolutely. But don’t overstress it.

Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself better.