I got sucked!

Blood went streaming out of my veins…passing through a narrow pipe…coursing towards a vessel…

Yes, I got sucked. Not by a vampire, though—thank heavens.

On June 20, 2013, for the first time, I donated blood during the mobile blood donation activity of the Provincial Health Office of Pangasinan in partnership with Red Cross. Honestly, all I planned to do that day was to cover the activity held at the Provincial Hospital in San Carlos City, Pangasinan for a news report—not to donate blood. That wasn’t because I was selfish and didn’t want to share my blood to those who might need it. I just thought I wouldn’t qualify because of my underweight look.

But the weighing scale said I qualified, having a total weight of 55 kg, so I went to the registration area and signed the form. Further screening revealed that my blood pressure was (and is) normal, therefore I am neither hypertensive nor anemic. Thank heavens again.

The bloodletting activity was conducted in the conference room of the hospital where 77 good Samaritans, including me, donated 450 ml each of blood.

Posing beside my blood bag. That’s where my blood would go.
And the needle pierces into my virgin vein. 
That looks painful, but I’m perfectly well. It isn’t painful at all. Your arm will feel heavy, though, but the nurse will give you a tiny ball which you will have to squeeze every five seconds, so your arm won’t numb.
I can’t remember exactly how many minutes it took the bag to get filled with blood, but I’m sure it took longer than others’ bags did. I think I heard the nurse say the thicker the vein, the slower the flow of the blood is.

When all the space in the bag has been occupied, the nurse removes the needle, asks me to raise my arm for a minute and apply pressure on the tiny hole the needle left, and then puts a band aid over it.

After that, I felt dizzy. According to the nurse, that was normal. Well, yeas. I interviewed several donors that day and they felt the same thing.

A few years back, I really wanted to donate blood, but my weight then wouldn’t permit me (I weighed a little under 50 kg, the minimum weight requirement). Now that I gained some, it was a pleasure to donate blood and know that sooner or later, the 450-ml blood I gave will help someone continue seeing the bright day and the starry night.

All the blood bags collected that day went straight to the Red Cross blood bank.

So, do I see myself donating blood again? Definitely yes.

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When you reach this age

When you reach this age, you think you’ve got everything in control. You’ve grown mature enough to battle the world, so there you go engaging in a head-on collision with the way people once lived their lives in accordance with the norms of the society. The good news is you’re a challenger. The bad news is you’re fighting against the people close to your heart, your family.

When you reach this age, you think there are no boundaries. So, you move, move and move until you hit an invisible wall.

When you reach this age, you think you can decide for yourself, without taking others’ opinion into consideration. ‘Why would they matter?’ you say to yourself. ‘Through the years, I’ve learned to decide on my own, solved my own problems without asking for help from my family, found my way out of difficult situations I put myself into.’ Through all of those, you think you’re worthy enough to stand on your feet without others’ guidance. Apparently not. Or at least they think.

When you reach this age, you think you’re free to do whatever you want because it’s your life anyway. For the past years, your parents performed the responsibility of reminding you that you have to be good. That’s all they could do, remind you. You never saw the kind of parents you envied your friends about. And so you chose to have it your own way. You said to yourself, ‘Why would I follow their rules? They were never proven effective as evidenced by where they are right now. Somewhere nobody ever wants to land onto. Somewhere only an insane person dreams to be.’ Now, here they come ranting about you being different from whoever they want their child to be. They see you as good-gone-bad. But they don’t see what’s inside you because they never try to look into it. They don’t see that inside, you’re hurting.

When you reach this age, you’re afraid to make decisions. You arrive at a fork and you know exactly what to do. Choose. Now, you find it hard to decide because you know that whichever you choose comes with a consequence. But the only choice that you have screaming at your face is…CHOOSE.

When you reach this age, you’re euphoric. You think you can have it all. You think you can grab all the blessings that come showering down on you. So, you try to take hold of them all. You juggle them. Then everything gets messed up. You think you are advancing only to find out that you’re just revolving around a circle of the same things.

When you reach this age, only you can understand what you’re going through. Not your friends, not your co-workers, not even your parents who have caused you pain as well. Or at least you think.

When you reach this age, you realize that you can go on by unloading some of what you try very hard to carry on your back.

When you reach this age, you realize that you’re not giving up what you unload. You simply put them on the waiting list because you’re quite sure you’ll return to them right away when you’re done with your business ahead. You don”t know when exactly, but you’re sure you’ll return because you promise you will. Whatever happens.

When you reach this age, you hope that everything will be all right. You pray that everything will fall in its proper place. And you expect that you will be fine.

I am 21 and will be fine.

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Fragile like jars


FRAGILE. Jars. We’re like jars. We’re fragile. We get broken. Damaged. Smashed into bits and pieces. But unlike jars, we can fix ourselves. Gather the pieces together. Stick them together although we know some parts get weaker than they were before.
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Something fishy

Pangasinan, particularly Lingayen, is very famous for its trademark product–bagoong (fish sauce). For health conscious individuals (and those who despise its smell), bagoong should never be on their table, but for Pangasinenses, this is a staple in every meal that can be a perfect match for its salty taste.

So, how is this very famous sauce that every Pangasinense is craving for being produced? That’s what I intended to discover as I featured the product on Talk TV Global’s Traveldotcom.

Bringing a cameraman (Kuya Rom) and our brand manager (Reg Agsalon) with me, I visited JB Bernal Bagoong’s plant and asked the owner and manager, Daniel Jun Bernal, to discuss with me and my team the process of bagoong making.

This is what greets us as we enter the factory. It’s clean and doesn’t exhibit any sign of grossness. The smell? The bagoong scent is present of course, but it’s not a stench that you will surely hate. As Sir Jun puts it, you can smell the fish sauce’s “aroma.”

Preparing for the taping. That’s Reg Agsalon, Talk TV Global’s brand manager, on the laptop and Kuya Rom, our videographer/editor

Well, here’s a huge collection of bottle stoppers. They came from the bottles they bought to serve as containers of their bagoong.

Got my eyes training around the premises. I spotted this cute holder displayed on the rack with their products.

Preparing the fresh fish previously mixed with salt and patis for the grinder.
That’s how it looks after getting ground.

The sauce will then be transferred to large plastic drums. A worker will then separate the bones from the liquid to prepare it for fermentation.
These tanks, measuring several feet deep, contain the fish sauce that is left for 2 to 3 months, depending on the kind of fish used, for fermentation…
…to produce this boneless bagoong. Look how clean it is. But before arriving at that result, a worker removes the oil floating on top.

Workers fill these bottles with the sauce and seal them using charcoal—that’s some sort of going back to basics thing considering that most factories nowadays use some kind of a blower in sealing their products.
To ensure the quality of each bottle of fish sauce, workers check them before sealing the boxes and stacking them in the warehouse. These boxes of fish sauce will be sold to dealers and retailers in many parts of Pangasinan, even outside.
And the export quality bagoong that makes your mouth water arrives at your favorite store.

Of course, my visit wouldn’t be complete without tasting the boneless bagoong. Thanks to Sir Jun who served us with this delicious meal. Yum!

It had been a yummy experience at JB Bernal Bagoong. I was supposed to only taste the fish sauce, but my appetite really shot up the moment it landed on my tongue, so there I had more than one helping of the meal. Well, I’m not really a fan of fish sauce, but I cannot deny that it’s really delicious. It’s a must try, so when you visit Pangasinan, never leave without grabbing a lunch with JB Bernal Bagoong as dip. Every bottle contains more than a thousand drops that helps many budget-tight families get by each day—and it only costs P15! For such a low price, every bottle may last for more than a month. Now, don’t you worry about it getting rotten. Like wine, because of fermentation, the older it gets, the tastier it becomes.

Get more of this story from our next episode on Traveldotcom, so stay tuned.
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New project


Probably out of stress one afternoon, I thought of putting up a new project here on my blog. I’ve been active on Instagram lately and been loving staring at photos taken in different places, at different times. They tell stories, touch hearts, stir emotions, fuel dreams and desires. There I thought, what about sharing my stories on my blog through pictures? It’s not a unique concept, but still a great idea and thing to do, so I’m now putting to action.

I call this project ‘Picbits.’ Pictures are also tasty bits of life that tell and stress reality and stimulate our mind to imagine fantasy. The subjects don’t move, but the whole picture move us. Well, this is another part of me which I am sharing with you. Here are sample photos I posted on my Instagram profile.

SPACE. Something about the day I took this photo got me staring far beyond the subject–something that got into my ego and pumped up my fighting spirit.

LOUNGE. Here’s one of my adopted cats. He loves to lounge on my slippers whenever my feet aren’t on them.

From time to time, like on Instagram, I’ll be posting a picture here and write captions under it. I hope you guys enjoy. Have your fill of my picbits!

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