Traditionally, the inherently patriarchal Buddhist monastic system has nuns performing only the most meanial of domestic tasks, while the monks can lead prayers and occupy powerful positions. Nuns are perceived as inferior to monks and usually spend their time working in the kitchens and gardens of Buddhist monasteries…the Gyalwang Drukpa took things even further in 2008, when he introduced kung fu to the nunnery, after seeing nuns from Vietnam receiving combat training that was previously used by Viet Cong guerrillas.

Dampa food again

Last minute changes in my schedule resulted to me waiting three hours for a friend I was meeting for dinner. My friend suggested shopping at the nearby mall to kill time but I was too drained even for shopping. I said I’ll wait because anyway this was the dampa (open place where you let a stall cook fresh seafood of your choice) where wait staff didn’t mind as long as you actually eat at one point.

The wait provided me ample time to reply to emails, read up on work-related documents, and draft posts for here. The dampa’s open design allowed fresh air to circulate which is a rarity in the metro (it’s not as hot these days thanks to afternoon rains). The sound system blared out loud funky disco music which effectively kept sleepiness at bay (for which I apologized when the agency staff I was coordinating with called).

Thirty minutes before my friend’s arrival, I had our suki stall cook and grill half a kilogram each of halaan (clam) and pork. We washed the food down with sugarfree soda (although the best was cold beer as also suggested by my friend but I still had to do some work afterward). I felt renewed.

If one could call this healthy bingeing then this was it: fresh dampa food.

Clam soup

Latest on my fave TV shows

Gossip Girl cast via Grazia UK

The Upper East Siders have moved on but fans such as I (ha ha) love to have updates of them – of the cast – now and then. Who’s the fan that doesn’t know about Blake Lively’s marriage to Ryan Reynolds? Or, Leighton Meester to Adam Brody? Ed Westwick was the face of Penshoppe (it’s Gigi Hadid now) and visited the Philippines because of it. Kelly Rutherford (even during the series) openly campaigned for custody of both her children by her Italian ex but lost (a mother myself, I understand it’s the worst of all possible pains and I thought the actress very strong through it all). Grazia UK has more on the cast.

I’m actually a fan of these shows (and can’t for the life of me get what my friends see in Sex and The City although I’ll check out Divorce which maybe better).

My preference for the genre started with Paper Dolls in the early 80s in which I loved Terry Farrell. Her beauty does not conform to technical definitons but I thought she was the loveliest. Then Beverly Hills 90210, the original series.

In between these and before Gossip Girl, I was into legal flicks such as L.A. Law (because I loved the gorgeous lawyer pair of Michael Kuzak played by Harry Hamlin and Grace van Owen played by Susan Dey) which ran from the mid-80s to early 90s and Boston Legal (because of James Spader) which I credit to completely changing my view on the death penalty (which since then is a ‘no’).

The MRT again

City and public transport

“Where are you, ma’am?” the agency staff had called to inform me that the donor representative I was meeting had a noontime flight and needed to be at the airport at least two hours early (since after the President declared a national emergency) hence if I could come earlier.

This info had me switching from my initial plan of going by taxi to using the MRT which remains the quickest means to get from A to Z in the metro. At the station I found the lines ridiculously long even after rush hour.

It was my first time again to ride after several years. The one change I noticed was the e-cards. I observed a young woman do the card in at the turnpike. OK I could do that.

On the platform above, there were almost no people on the opposite side going north while us southbound passengers were like live sardines waiting to be packed in. A guard tried to humor the sombre-faced lines of women. “Why is it,” he said, “that the men are quicker getting into the cars?” Getting no response from the crowd, he continued “because there everybody’s pushing everybody inside whereas women they pull the others out.” I twitched with suppressed laughter. Yup. Bitchiness of women sometimes. It’s why gender equality has not completely happened. We’re our own greater enemies.

Normally, it takes 15 minutes to reach my destination but because I was only able to get inside the fourth MRT that came in, travel took 40 minutes total. By then, the donor rep had left for the airport. We contended with teleconferencing. I waited two hours more for the agency staff who I had another transaction with. He came in at noon. Good thing the building is conveniently located, along EDSA and walking distance to coffee houses and eateries.

Inside the elevator, after my meeting with the staff, an Indian consultant who was also on his way out was advising agency staff who had a flight later in the day to go early, “in fact, now if you can. I’m often on travel here and the traffic’s terrible.”

I had concluded my business for the week and was also homeward bound. That was around 1 PM, the best time (1-4 PM, actually) to ride the MRT. Lesson there is, finish your business before these hours. The Indian national obviously knew this. There were no lines on the platform just three persons max going into each door. Bliss.

Inside the MRT car, passengers on my seat were talking about a recent video on social media that went viral. It was taken inside one of these cars, of someone who refused seat to a girl who’d requested. The girl allegedly was exhausted from school activities. The chitchat revolved around the good and bad sides in video taking and uploading. The good side, they said, is MRT commuters will be more sensitive to fellow travelers. The bad side- anybody could take a video about anything and upload that anytime for an entire world to witness. Ah. A good discussion indeed. Societal changes that technology bring. At 1 PM too!

The emergency power for the President to manage traffic discussed in Congress is overkill of constitutional powers. What government – the MMDA and LGUs (not national government) – should do instead is to craft (1) a traffic management strategy alongside an urbanization strategy, (2) policies to support the strategy e.g. community re-education to change attitudes on the value and importance of using public transport, incentives for owners of transport lines to upgrade their units, car pooling and other carbon footprint reducing modes of transportation, and (3) budgets to actually be able to implement, monitor, evaluate, and continually improve the policies.

Adventures in adaptation

The agency staff opened the door of the meeting room to diverse faces turned toward us- of donor staff who look like young Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies (the lady I’m directly collaborating with has a fab nose piercing that got me thinking about the gap in individual liberty and freedom, pursuit of individual happiness for one, in our countries) as well as more grim faced HQ-based local technocrats.

In that moment, I realized I’m back in familiar cosmopolitan settings. These were no country folks in other words. Having just recently came from a grassroots organization, it hit me that I’ve gotten to be a pro at adaptation.

Tact and diplomacy are what hold these UN like gatherings together. But whether or not your recommendations will get adopted depends on national and collective clout e.g. G7 or G20 countries v. developing countries, if not an individual’s sheer power of persuasion.

Collaboration-meeting via rawpixel