Happiness In, Happiness Out

They say it takes 21 days to build a habit.
I say it takes 42 days to REALLY build a habit.
I just got through my 42nd day of eating vegan! Yeay!

Sharing some scrumptious highlights of my journey so far:

Prepping a lettuce-grape-mango contraption, for experimentation’s sake. Turned out yom!

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Availing a vegan diet delivery service c/o Fitness Gourmet. This was the best breakfast I  had – vegan pizza!

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Munching on these hot and yummy PH made bars!

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Ordered my 1st vegan Subway sandwich! Jalapenos is love.

 

 

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Had the energy to make my own salad and learning to love the different flavor ranges of vinegar-

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Went home early from a raving party to instead read up on tech articles and munch on carrot sticks. Haha!

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Getting a banana from my officemate. One of the best things about this transition is being grateful for the extra thoughtfulness of friends who are rooting for my sustenance and sustainability in this lifestyle.

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My ate cooking me Moringa spirals for lunch as a pre-yoga booster. Again, so thoughtful of her, and I am so touched!

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Chancing upon this lovely looking AND tasting dessert at Romulo Cafe during the Geeks on a Beach presscon. Latik + Suman = love.

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Creating this homemade tonic to fight sickness with ginger essence and sugar!

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Bringing this to our bus ride en route to Laoag for breakfast. Better than dairy chocolate milk, hands down!

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Eating this vegan lumpia at Spring, which is walkable from my workplace. Yeay! Of course I drowned it with chili sauce, and of course I like being reminded that I am what I eat.

You are what you eat.

Cruelty in, cruelty out. Mindfulness in, mindfulness out. Happiness in, happiness out!

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Yup, vegan options exist in a food place as mainstream as Pancake House!

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Soy latte at Wildflour Cafe. I had the honey replaced with liquid sugar instead. Instavegan, yeay!

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Red photo c/o the red lighting at El Chupacabra (which happens to be located near the red light district – no pun intended). This vegan chori taco was grilled to goodness! The avocado, lemon and cilantro combo is a wonderful explosion of flavors to munch on!

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Dinner with dear high school friends at Simple lang. BBQ tofu, brown rice, and stir fry baguio beans + squash definitely made me full. Go ahead, judge how I ate a lot. Good eats. Haha.

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Being vegan in Vigan. Last meal at this wonderful city, munching on yummy Shiitake mushroom maki!

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Dish # 2 was this sizzling chopsuey dish. I loved how Cafe Leona emphasized vegan dishes with an asterisk. Yup, not vegetarian, but vegan!

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One of the best banana chips I’ve ever tasted. No kidding! Even my omnivore friends couldn’t agree more.

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Going back to the office from my trip only to discover that another officemate got me these yummy vegan treats. I’m so lucky!

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And what to give my officemates as pasalubong than Tinubong Kakanin a.k.a. Sundot Kulangot haha. Happens to be vegan, BT-dub!

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And of course coming home to dinner preps that ate Gai made: garlic kangkong! Yum.

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Taking this moment to thank everyone who has been supportive and considerate of my special needs, for respecting my motives behind this commitment, and for considering to share vegan meals with me from time to time.

It’s all about curbing negative impact, and freeing up more energy to amplify positive impact!

Namaste.

 

Vegan Diaries

Let me tell you a secret.

 

Yes, I’m a V.

 

Vegan, that is.

Don’t get me wrong. I never thought for a second that I’d decide to get into this. My inherent carnivorous self would kneejerkingly look forward to downing those sumptuous steaks at Del Monte Clubhouse whenever we’d go up to Bukidnon.

I remember being in a posh lunch meeting with the company president and my boss back at my previous stint, and they were talking about the variety of colors that make up a good meal. They were complimenting each others’ plates, observing the harmonious reds, purples and beiges on a bed of varied greens. Then my boss looked at my plate – my predominantly brown, meaty plate.

Why do something crazy like this at a time like this, you say. I revel in crazy, radical stuff. But really, the intent is to deepen my yoga practice through this.

Dude, it hasn’t been easy. I recently went berserk as I mindlessly ordered milk tea to quench my thirst after an intense yoga class. I had to take the time to ask if there was such a thing as a soy milk tea (of which they had none). There was a long discussion of having to bargain on changing my order from milk tea to just tea.

But moments like these taught me the value of mindfulness, of being aware of how food is prepared, and how it differs or resembles its original form. It’s been wonderful, actually.

And my favorite yoga teacher would always remind us of this beautiful Sanskrit statement that goes:

Loka Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings be happy and free, and may the words, thoughts and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that freedom and to that happiness for all.

Beings include animals.

I saw this TED talk about the brain in love, and there was an interesting bit there about brains beyond the Homo sapiens sort:

I would also like to tell the world that animals love. There’s not an animal on this planet that will copulate with anything that comes along. Too old, too young, too scruffy, too stupid, and they won’t do it. Unless you’re stuck in a laboratory cage — and you know, if you spend your entire life in a little box, you’re not going to be as picky about who you have sex with — but I’ve looked in a hundred species, and everywhere in the wild, animals have favorites.

And yet I have been born and raised to see farmed meat for my daily consumption as a desensitized norm.

What if humans were farmed? A couple of years back, I chanced on watching a Cine Europa film titled Never Let Me Go. It was about an introspection on humans being farmed. It was a pretty provocative and perplexing experience watching that movie, and although I got to see it a while back, I wasn’t able to go deep enough and perceive the call to action.

Last year, I got to attend a nutrition talk arranged by vegans, and they talked about how adopting this lifestyle actually meant cutting the middleman of getting the nutrition source, which in this case are the animals we ingest for meat. The misnomer is that it’s only through meat that we get protein, but it’s the amino acids that are vital in protein. So much amino acids can be found in super green vegetables.

And so in all matters that involve going straight to the source, cutting the middleman, cutting the fixer and making things more efficient, the economist in me is pacified.  And being a fan of Total Quality Management, it goes without saying that I have high respect for best practice aimed at efficiency measures. Yup, this reasoning to the cause for being vegan makes me one happy camper.

So this, my friends, is my attempt at making my homeostatic system more efficient. Inasmuch as energy and time and space are finite, it will all depend on what I choose for my body to dedicate its energy to: Digesting junk? Or freeing up that unneeded effort and instead funneling that energy towards passions, towards people, towards ambitions?

So above and beyond the call for animal rights, I simply subscribe to the notion of efficient living. And it doesn’t hurt that all the vegans I’ve met so far were all pretty hot. Don’t mind if I join the bandwagon, misters and misses!

Namaste.

Lessons from Balasana

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I find myself in a contemplative mood as I listen to my Matisyahu playlist on the train ride going home. I was in full concentration on their Live at Stubb’s album, listening to that prelude about the kingdom and the people, and how both relate and validate each other.

This reminded me of that unforgettable moment three years ago, where my college orgmate posted photos of her experience in attending the Shanghai World Expo on Facebook. One photo of hers particularly stuck with me:

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Prior to seeing this, I chanced upon an Oprah Show episode featuring the best countries to live as a woman. Denmark was one of the featured countries, and their segment did highlight how bulk of their population was agnostic in terms of their religious demographic, but that they were progressive still.

Progress.

Amazing stuff, I thought. I could not help but ponder on this further, how ahead they were in promoting gender equality and empowering women, one of the UN millenium development goals. It was in learning of the MDGs back in the day that got me to start thinking about intrinsic cultural paradigms and their impact on the rate of development for a country. And I don’t view this in the context of sheer GDP growth alone, but also on other bottom lines, particularly those that dwell on sustainability and inclusiveness. But this is not a post on gender gaps and filling them in.

Progress. Inclusiveness.

I might have stepped the lands of Shanghai three years too late to catch that expo, but it was with the power of technology that enabled me to relish in that unforgettable moment, albeit virtually. It goes without saying that I will defend my habits as an SNS junkie to the death. This is further validation of my love for technology.

Progress. Inclusiveness. The exponential benefits of technology.

Yesterday, I found myself in the 3rd Filipino Technopreneurship Summit organized by GoNegosyo. Of the prominent tech startup founders that took the stage to share their success stories, one of the prevailing themes that resonated was to get oneself out there and find the right people who share your values and vision. It is with this shared vision, they say, that will pull a team through adversity and catapult the start-up to the next level.

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration.

This then leads me to recall the brewing frustration I have been having in class. I am honestly getting sick of sitting in lectures that often involve ranting and criticizing other institutions, looking at failures and highlighting them, but ending there, not even coming up with commentary on how to improve things. Last term, I got so irked by this, people adding complaint upon complaint, and just dwelling on that level. It came to the point where I raised my hand and asked the entire class, “So, what is the solution?”

I got different answers. One was to elect different leaders. Another was a sentiment saying that the role of academe is to make the students aware of these problems, so that the students may come up with the solution.

We then shifted on to another topic. But that moment got me thinking further: if the world was a venn diagram, and we had a God’s view on matters, will we choose to see the differences? Or will we choose to see the intersections and unions of things? Should everything be compartmentalized as an I-do-this-and-you-do-that type of thing? Or should everything be seen as convergent and idle opportunities waiting to be acted on as a collective?

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration. The cultural lack thereof.

I found myself in a moment of restfulness in Yoga class this morning as I transitioned to balasana after continuous rounds of suryas. It is a beautiful pose, it enables one to reconnect with the earth, to feel a state of willful surrender and yet the ground feels as if it is cradling us, supporting us.

And so it is with this subliminal sense of support that we thrive, is what I felt.

In the start-up ecosystem, people are known to help and support each other, validating and challenging each other, but all done in the spirit of wanting each other to succeed. It is a refreshing feeling to witness the greats, in all their laurels garnered throughout life, helping the young ones (whether by one’s age, or by the age of one’s venture) in their initial attempts to cross the chasm.

On the flipside, I’m also starting to get a glimpse of the polarities of thought in the ecosystem. I profess to be a fan of conflict, as I believe that great things can come out of it when taken maturely. It is in the lack of maturity though, that childish banter get brewed. It is my hope still that a shift in a paradigm will evolve, where the incentives of looking at convergences are actively seen, rather than the differences.

As one splendid development worker I recently met splendidly puts it: we are not the message, we are the messenger. We do what we do for the ecosystem, not our ego.

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration. Culture. Hope.

I am brought back to a moment one year ago, as I found myself in a contemplative retreat. One fine afternoon, the moderator encouraged us to take advantage of our youth, to use this time to shop around and choose our values. Youth is like jello in room temp, he said. At this time in our lives, we’re soft and flexible, but over time, we become jello in freezer conditions, living our lives with the values we’ve set ourselves on.

Progress. Inclusiveness. Technology. Collaboration. Culture. Hope. Empowerment.

Be like jello. Great advice not just for dance moves, but for values.
As one of the richest Filipinos who came from humble beginnings puts it magnificently: love what you do. Be curious, shake things up. In difficult times, your love for what you do will pull you through. He also encouraged answering math prob sets.

And as my favorite yoga teacher would say: superhero movies make it big in the box office because we highly subscribe to the notion that someone will save us. But what if we dig deeper and think that we can save ourselves? We are all that we’ve been waiting for.

Namaste.

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Reflections on Ganesha

Ahh, obstacles. They make us feel uncomfortable. They make me feel uncomfortable. Suffice it to say that the past two weeks have been uncomfortable.

Ganesha is said to be the god who removes the obstacles that come in our lives. Other proponents believe that Ganesha actually puts obstacles to serve as checkpoints in our lives, to allow us to stop, reflect and realize whether we’re treading on the right path.

Is comfort the end goal? Does happiness entail a constant state of comfort? I have yet to find literature that preaches this notion. I do often hear that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. There are externalities that are givens, but it is ultimately up to us as to how we choose to react and handle these circumstances. It takes a certain internal balance to adapt with given externalities.

A good friend introduced me to the literature of Osho, and does this person have wonderful, convergent insights on the different philosophies of the world! In the chapter where I’m in, he speaks of how we can foster real unadulterated love, as love is not bound by the physical. Our physical selves are bound by natural limitations and obstacles such that we feel discomfort when we, say, stand up for too long, or sit for too long. It is in our horizontal way of rest by lying down that we work around the imposed discomfort of gravity.  But then again, we can only do so much when in a horizontal state.

Such is the virtue of finding comfort in the uncomfortable. When we want to learn and understand more about ourselves and our milieu, we have to accept such givens. In the process of swimming against the current of discomfort and of obstacles, there is a natural sense of doubt. But as a good friend would often say, there are no failures, only lessons. The more lessons, the more learning.

I’ve never put much thought when my yoga teacher would often say that “the teacher in me honors the teacher in each and every one of you”. Given this new stint involving an elevated level of responsibility, and working with contemporaries, perceived superiors and subordinates in the corporate hierarchy, one thing remains clear: we all learn from each other. You and I are not so different. We are the same energy expressed differently, with our own unique quirks.

In my two weeks of dealing with an entirely new environment, new city, new people, new user interfaces for work tools, new structures, and new leadership, I found myself giving up a lot of what I’ve been accustomed to. I spend more time travelling to my new office, I spend more time working. I am having challenges squeezing in my yoga practice as I often find myself spent after a long workday. I have had to opt out of bonding sessions with friends. This time around, it’s not just about me and my output anymore. It is about my team, and I am only as good as my team.

Ahh, priorities and trade-offs. It is but necessary. I feel grateful to have had lunch with a good friend who’s taught me so much. This time, talk of priorities, trade-offs, and taking care of one’s health was on the roster. I always thought I could do everything. Last year, I learned the lesson that I didn’t have to be all things to all people. This time around, I am getting the feeling that I will learn how it is not to be everything to everything. The jack of all trades is a master of none. Cliche but true?

If we all knew what we were doing and were sure of the outcomes of our efforts, then insurance companies would run out of business, right? I once again find myself in a space of overwhelming doubt and uncertainty. But these are externalities, and I chose to get myself in the circumstance of breaking new ground. Life is a gamble and we are our own persons. We cannot simply blame unfavorable outcomes on others. We have the power to influence the outcome. The more we believe that we can, we are able to.

Namaste.

5 Things I Learned From Gandhi

“Nothing is more important than the cultivation of yourself.”

Thought Catalog

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First, two small stories:

#1: A woman walks with her son many miles and days to come to Gandhi. She is very worried about her son’s health because he is eating too much sugar. She comes to Gandhi and says, “please, sir, can you tell my son to stop eating sugar.”

Gandhi looks at her and thinks for a bit and finally says, “ok, but not today. Bring him back in two weeks.”

She’s disappointed and takes her son home. Two weeks later she makes the journey again and goes to Gandhi with her son.

Gandhi says to the boy, “you must stop eating sugar. It’s very bad for you.”

The boy has such respect for Gandhi that he stops and lives a healthy life.

The woman is confused and asks him, “Gandhi, please tell me: why did you want me to wait two weeks to bring back my son.”

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Eco-Friendly Pursuits: The Cutiepatootie Ecobag

It wasn’t too long ago that I’ve expressed my frustrations as a consumer on how there is a general lack of aesthetically pleasing ecobags out there. Lo and behold, I found myself in a Robinson’s Department Store last weekend after watching Iron Man with my nephews. There it was – The One.

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This is admittedly too colorful for others’ tastes but I find that it suits my preferences just right: it’s big, it has elements of purple and I got a 25% discount when I bought it. Okay, so it was supposed to be 40 pesos and I bought it for 30. Ahh, the power of spinning numbers.

I think I got the discount because my total purchase amount exceeded 1,000 pesos. I was so amused by the smorgasbord of Whatever statement shirts I found. I can’t wait to wear them to Yoga class!

Okay, going back to the bag. Everytime you use the bag to shop again in their store, you get 5 pesos off your purchase total.

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I love how they chose to go with incentivizing rather than penalizing. Although, I am not entirely against the notion of imposing tariffs (I come from an Economics background, after all), packaging efforts like these on a more positive note is something which I think would be more enticing and sustainable. I hope other stores will follow suit, and I hope government will enforce taxation on the use of plastic all throughout the country.

Here’s another design that the store is carrying for their ecobag (left):

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How can I not be proud of getting this ecobag with a statement printed on it, saying:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

-Dalai Lama

I believe that making these baby steps towards being more aware of our consumption habits – be it apparel, or food, or even ideas can steadily and sustainably help in changing this world for the better.

Borrowing some lines from one of Marina and the Diamonds’ songs:

Question what the TV tells you
Question what the pop star tells you
Question mom and question dad
Question good and question bad

Cheers to breaking old habits and finding meaning in new ones. Ü

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Inner Battle

It is seven minutes shy ’til 8AM and I am still in bed, engaging in an internal debate whether I should go to Yoga class or not. I still haven’t gotten onto the meat of my presentation outline for the business review session set with our partners this week. I have been experiencing pain in my left wrist for several days now. I sprained my right thumb during Gentle Flow class yesterday morning when I carelessly landed on my spider fingers instead of my palms. I could be spending time doing other things.

But the Sunday morning Sun is glorious and wonderful. It is only fitting to pay gratitude by way of Surya Namaskars.

Pain reminds me of my humanness. Pain is an intense feeling but it is, like most other things in this world, temporary. I look forward to learning more from what my body will tell me today.

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu.

I wish everyone a jubilant and fruitful Sunday morning!