Have a Cato in your life while being a Cato for others

I’ve been reading this book The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, and came across an insight about having a Cato.

But first, who is Cato?

Cato the Younger, according to the book, is a Roman politician known to defend the Republic against Julius Caesar. He is a brave, bold, noble and disciplined person. He is the most commonly cited philosopher because of his principled life.

March 10th entry in the book suggests having a Cato or an indifferent spectator in our life. Someone who will quietly remind us when we are getting lost in life and choosing to avoid the uncomfortable situation crucial to attain our end-goal in this short lifetime.

This Cato could be your mom, dad, friend, lover or even Cato himself, basically anyone (existing or not) who can remind you that you are not doing the right thing.

Life could be very distracting most of the time and it is important that you have someone to tell you that you are doing something that will not benefit you and consequently directly or indirectly others.

And when you find your best Cato, try to be the best version of yourself worthy to become a Cato in someone else’s life.


Why do I keep procrastinating?

Have you ever read tons of books and watched millions of videos telling you how they stopped procrastinating and became more productive? And you still end up putting off things a couple of hours or day before the deadline? And then eventually you realize that you could do better than that?

Well, you’re not alone! I am still trying to be those social media productivity influencers but after a year I am still procrastinating and not living the best version of myself, and I am not proud of it. It gives me a pang of guilt and anxiety everyday and I acknowledge that it is not good for my mental and physical health.

But what can I do? I have been living this kind of routine for almost 10 years and it is so freaking hard to break it. The thing is that I have this feeling in me that I am designed to do greater things and I am not giving my 100% and even less than the bare minimum at my work. However, I keep failing in dragging myself to use my time in the most efficient way possible, and unleash the potential that I have.

At this point in my life I will be completely honest to myself and whoever is reading this. I STILL PROCRATINATE SO BAD. The more that I evaluate myself, the more I learn why I keep doing procrastination. I found one clear answer to this why.


The reason why I need to do the task. While reading at my past journal entries I keep writing that I don’t know the reason why I am doing this or that and ended doing those at the last minute because regardless if I do it with low quality or high, I still couldn’t think of what will I get from it.

A lot of people are so goal oriented that they set goals and achieve it on the dot with the best way possible by using their time efficiently aka not procrastinating. And I am truly jealous how they wired their mind that way. Because those people most likely have their reasons even before creating their goals. However, not all people are like them, and as an easy example of those people, take me. Most of the time at work or school I was given tasks and I know that I have to do it for me to get my goal (my salary or degree), but the immediate reason why I have to do it is not tangible and instant to see. What’s going to be my approach to find that missing link between the goal and the task? What would be the paradigm shift towards a better version of myself?

MAKE ONE (though easier said than done) – have a reason. I am going to try this new approach and start creating reason/s of why I am doing such task regardless of how small or big it is. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Start with the basic ones (you can also try to be extra if that will push you more) but make it as detailed as you can. If it’s a big task, try breaking the reasons into smaller pieces first and later on build the puzzle to see the bigger picture. YOU HAVE TO WRITE IT on a sticky note or wherever place that you CAN EASILY SEE IT. Whether it is a simple or complicated reason, try to make it as rewarding as possible. It will not be an overnight thing but practicing this will eventually make you better at using your time in the long run.

Time is more precious than gold or any other element in this world. It is something you cannot take back once you lost it. Time flies so fast but you do not have to fly faster, you just have to learn how to enjoy the journey. We are given this life with different and unique missions and a deadline so might as well live it at our best.

I don’t have a success story yet but I hope I can revisit this post and make myself proud of becoming a person that uses time efficiently.

Crave badly for rejection

Have you applied for a job or scholarship recently and you are anxious right now whether you’ll get it or not? I feel you. Especially when it’s a dream opportunity – something you think will cause you to break if you won’t get it. As I experienced them before, most of the time it is because I am scared of rejection and it’s normal. You are scared to lose the identity you’ve been wanting or you are at now.

But what are you getting from the dread of waiting for your application results? Or what did you get from the sadness or hate you gave yourself just because you didn’t get that job or scholarship? You get nothing but stress. You may also somehow lose confidence. Or even worse, get no sense of direction in life. It stops us from functioning and living to our full potential. You lost the opportunity and you lose you. But remember, in this time and age, there are unlimited opportunities and a limitless you.

The thing in common that I realized from my collection of rejection was that what hurt the most from the rejection was myself expecting acceptance from something I don’t have control over to establish the self I’ve been imagining. Do not get me wrong, as I wrote in my previous blogs, you have to have a goal as high as your future self won’t believe your present self made it. Aim the impossible, DO YOUR BEST especially on things you have power.

As you navigate in this life, do not find acceptance from others but crave badly for rejection. If you got rejected from that prestigious university or that dream job then find more opportunities. Apply again or apply to a different one. Give your best shot but do not expect that you will get it. Expect more rejections. This rejection/s will give you more lessons about life, other people and most importantly about yourself.

Next time, instead of stressing about the results of your job/scholarship/school application, sit down and write new application forms and send them out. Give your best shot but do not expect to get in because maybe the universe wants you to be in a different and better place you will enjoy more.

Pinakbet vegetables and their scientific names

I saw in the news that the price of dried fish or tuyo is not as cheap as it used to be and people are opting to vegetables. Why not? It’s healthy and you’ll save money! Prepacked vegetables are also cheaper like the photo below.

You can find a lot of recipe in the internet for pinakbet. This Philippine dish is mainly composed of mixed vegetables that’s being cultivated in warmer areas. It’s very easy to cook. You just have to cut the vegetables mix everything in the boiling water add either fish, pork or shrimp paste and voila! Done!

What are the common vegetables in pinakbet? I looked up at different recipes and the common veggies are the following. And if you’re curious with their scientific names, just keep reading!

String beans or sitao – Vigna unguiculata spp. sesquipedalis

Squash or kalabasa – Cucurbita maxima

Eggplant or talong – Solanum melongena

Bittergourd or ampalaya – Momordica charantia

Tomato or kamatis – Solanum lycopersicum

Lady finger or okra – Abelmoschus esculentus

Garlic or bawang – Allium sativum

Onion or sibuyas – Allium cepa

Ginger or luya – Zingiber officinale

My lunchbox with my own pinakbet recipe. I like this dish because I feel like I’m eating healthy.

Be gentle to yourself: if you are feeling unmotivated, then just feel it and do nothing.

As I am writing this, I feel super unmotivated.

I watched inspirational videos but it didn’t work.

And looked at tips how to be motivated or productive during your low days.

They said, do the 2-minute rule,

Or chop tasks to smaller and realistically achievable,

Other suggested to make a to-do list,

Or romanticize your work/studies,

Clear desk, clear mind, and I did that as well,

I even meditated,

But nothing I found in the web worked.

What did I do?


Was I unproductive? Yes.

Did I feel any guilt? Sort of.

What did I do to change my mood?


And it’s ok.

Just feel it.

Do nothing.

Enjoy the moment of not doing anything for a while.

Maybe that’s your body’s way of telling you to pause, and reevaluate your life.

Maybe you’re in a transition phase to get the life you can’t stop thinking about.

It’s tough to rewire the mind and convince it to endure the uncomfortable.

It’s normal.

You can’t get it overnight.

It takes practice.

You’ll fail ten times.

But make sure that you’ll get up on the 11th.

Maybe your progress is slower.

But progress is progress.

Pause if you need to.

But remember to press the play button again.

Be patient.

Be strong.

Work. Pause. Work.


Must try Filipino street food (from Northern to Southern islands of the Philippines)

Is it your first time to go to the Philippines?

Or planning to do Filipino street food crawling?

Here are some of the Filipino street foods that you can try:

1. Grilled innards

Isaw or chicken/pork intestine is one of the famous grilled street food. But you can also be adventurous by trying out other innards like pig ear, chicken head (“helmet”), chicken/pork blood (“betamax”), chicken feet (“adidas”), pork skin, pork mesentery. For me it’s best eaten with sweet or sweet and spicy sauce or vinegar.

2. More grilled food

If you’re a vegetarian or pescatarian, you can do grilled sweet corn or dried squid. This is not too common in a lot of places so if you find one go grab one! I found the grilled dried seafood in Cebu and Bacolod.

3. Kwek-kwek

They say it’s called as egg waffle in English but I couldn’t justify. LOL. Basically, this is hard boiled egg coated in orange batter and fried. Best paired with spicy vinegar or sauce or combination of both.

4. Fish balls, kikiam, squid balls and chicken balls

So from the name itself except kikiam, these streetfood are made of fish, squid and chicken while kikiam is made of pork meat mixed with flour and seasoning and shaped into balls and fried. Don’t forget to eat it with the sweet sauce.

5. Balut

Don’t be scared of that tiny chick inside the egg. Balut is a fertilized developing duck egg embryo. Usually sold at night along the streets or mobile vendors. Can be eaten with vinegar and salt. Sip the savory soup of the egg first before opening the egg.

6. Fried intestine, proven(proventiculus), gizzard

If you didn’t like the grilled innards, you may opt to try it in fried form. Of course with good sauce and vinegar!

7. Buchi/Mochi

I just saw this in a night market in Davao. There are places with their own street food so this one was new when I tried it but it’s worth a try! This is fried rice cake with variety of fillings to choose from. In this photo, they also sell fried shrimp roll, bread rolls and chicken dragon balls that I don’t know because I didn’t try.

8. Fried peanuts

This is a common street food. No need to explain but what’s different from the packed peanuts I think is that this is freshly cooked. Usually, they also sell fried anchovies, caramel-coated peanut, kidney beans, cornick, and sweet beans alongside that you should try as well.

9. Fried dumplings and chili egg roll (dynamite)

Fried dumplings is usually made of ground pork with seasoning stuffed in eggroll wrapper and then fried. While the chili egg roll aka “dynamite”, is made of long green chili stuffed with ground pork mix then wrapped and fried. Best dipped with sauce and/or vinegar.

10. Pansit (stir fried noodle)

Pansit habhab or lomi are sometimes sold in the streets in some places. Pansit habhab is more common in Quezon province and instead of calamansi, you can put vinegar. Lomi on the other hand is being sold usually in Batangas province or nearby places.

11. Egg cake

This street food has a distinct smell because it is made of old egg or eggs with broken yolk. They put seasoning and tomatoes and baked or fried. Best with spicy vinegar.

12. Ilocos empanada

If you’re in Ilocos region, this is a must try. Although there are places that serve this as street food but not as common as in Ilocos. I love the Vigan sausage, egg and veggies mixture inside this orange wrap.

13. Veggie balls + lato(seaweed)

Made of ground veggies, flour, egg and seasoning. Deep fried. Try it out with seaweed if you see one.

14. Grilled bananas

Saba banana in a perfect unripe-ripe stage grilled coated with margarine and sugar. You can also try banana cue – this is the same banana but coated with sugar.

15. Taho

Soybean milk curd with sweet caramel syrup and tapioca. In some places, like in Baguio City, they have strawberry and ube taho.

16. Binaki

Steam grated corn. It’s a bit sweet and the cool part is that it is steamed using the husk. Usually sold in Cagayan de Oro-Bukidnon area.

17. Dirty ice cream

And we are down to the last one that I purposefully put here as your choice of dessert. Aside from the usual chocolate and cookies and cream flavor, they sometimes have cheddar cheese and purple yam(ube) combo flavor. In some places like Bicol province, they have chili ice cream and other interesting flavor. In Davao City, I had a charcoal ice cream variant they also have Durian ice cream. In Baguio City, they have ube and strawberry ice cream.

And if you get thirsty, we gotchu! Get some buko (young coconut) juice.

Take advantage of the health benefits of young coconut in a place where young coconut is considered as street food. Pair it with any of your selected street food!

It’s amazing how Filipinos are very creative in terms of street food. There are a lot more but I hope this list helps you decide the first ones to try.

Do not give up on love.

Love is in the air. If you are close to giving up on love, this is the sign to keep holding on. I know it hurts a lot. An unbearable and excruciating pain. Every day is a struggle to get out of bed because you just want to cry all day. It’s exhausting mentally, emotionally, and physically. You just want the memories to get washed off by the tears, but it seems that each morning is just the same amount of pain as yesterday. Tomorrow won’t be ok. Or not even next week. Then maybe today was better. You guessed that you are starting to feel the slow healing and smiled a bit. And then you saw the cause of your pain and you go back to day 1. You may cry each night for a month everything may seem like a never-ending cycle. But it’s not. In time, you’ll heal. Be patient with yourself. Acknowledge the pain. You are enough. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s just not yet your time. But I hope you get well soon. While you’re in pain several thoughts will come into your mind like maybe love is not for you and then you’ll start building thick walls around your heart to not let anyone enter ever again. Depending on how things ended, sometimes after the healing process is done, you’ll have the tendency push away the love that you most certainly deserve. And it’s normal. It’s part of our life that makes living exciting. Yes. It is easier said than done but trust me, you lost that love to give way for another one. The one that you’ll be thankful everyday why things didn’t work out. It will look magical how everything seems so easy and almost perfect. You’ll be scared because the flow is very smooth. You know why? Because the universe prepared you this present. Only for you. So, don’t give up on love. Ok?

How to make tempeh in 5 easy steps.

Back in college, I had this microbiology class where we made tempeh. Basically, it’s fermented soybean. I really liked it and when I started working with soybeans, I remembered that dish and was so curious if I can make one. Google to the rescue. I was successfully to make one!!! And realized that it’s so easy and cheaper than buying meat. Below is the summary of the things I did:

  1. Prepare your ingredients: 2 cups of dried soybean, 3/4 teaspoon tempeh starter, 4 tablespoon vinegar.
  2. Wash the dried beans in water and overnight. Dehull it if you don’t prefer the taste or texture of the hull.
  3. Cook for 45 minutes in boiling water. Drain and dry it well the next day (it should be dry to touch).
  4. Add the vinegar to the dry soybean and mix it very well (this will prevent the unnecessary microorganism to grow).
  5. Add the tempeh starter and mix it well to the soybean.
  6. Get a ziplock and poke it with a stick to create holes so the starter can breathe. Put the mixture in the bag. Incubate for 48hours under 35 deg Celsius or 90 deg Fahrenheit.
Don’t be scared. The cotton texture on top is normal, sometimes if it is incubated so long it will have black spots.

You can put them in the fridge if you won’t cook them yet to prevent sporulation (gives black dots in the tempeh). Then cook it whatever way you want. I just like frying it and adding salt (just like the image below).

How to get a double-entry Japan visa (when you are in the US)?

Henly and Partners recently published the countries with the most powerful passport. And which got the top spot? No other than Japan! It’s inevitable to not get jealous because my country’s passport even requires a visa for 1-day transit to to go out of the airport in a lot of countries! It’s sometimes frustrating and challenging to get all those paperwork done for someone like me who doesn’t like doing paperwork but very into traveling. But don’t let that stop you from aiming to go to places! Let this guide you on getting your Japan visa.

Japan’s sakura being featured in animes when I was a kid has always lured me to go to Japan. Ticket price is not cheap but the most intimidating part is getting a visa. I don’t know where to get that bank statement that will prove that you can stay in Japan (they say you need at least PhP 100K in your bank account for a week’s stay. Not sure about this but you can find other sources). Guess what? I only had PhP15K but was able to get a double-entry visa!

My journey in getting one wasn’t too bad. How did I do that? Agriculture! In my previous posts, you’d see how I was able to go to places without breaking the bank (cos I don’t have a bank to break to begin with. lol) by being in the field of agriculture. So, agriculture brought me to the US and the fact that I’m in the US I think helped me get the double-entry transit visa.

It was a bit last minute cause I was busy with things. I got a round trip ticket to the Philippines for a quick vacation and the ticket had a 20-hr layover in Nagoya going to the Philippines and 12-hr layover in Narita going back to the US. I was not planning to go out of the airport so I won’t have to process any papers. But then I said to myself, why not give it a try. I didn’t even go the Japan embassy in Chicago (the embassy that process visa for people residing in the state where I’m staying), I just sent everything by mail! But make sure to have all the required documents before sending them!

The documents I sent are the following:

  • original valid passport with available visa pages
  • completed visa form application
  • 2″x2″ recent photo (taken within the last six months with my full name on the back side)
  • flight reservation/itinerary (basically the round-trip flight information)
  • hotel reservation for the 20-hr layover (in my case, the layover in Nagoya)
  • proof of your U.S. immigration status
  • clearance from the country that you are planning to enter after Japan (I didn’t need this bec my final destination was my country)
  • valid I-20 (if you’re studying)
  • bank statement (I think my account had only $300. LOL)
  • prepaid self-addressed return envelope (there’s an express which was 3x the price of the usual priority mail but 1-2 days faster, if you’re not in a hurry, the cheaper one is fine)
  • visa fee (if it applies in your country, for Philippines residents at the time I applied it was free)
  • schedule of stay where you describe day by day DETAILED activity plan in Japan (see the one I made below)

If your layover is more than 12-hr, it is imperative to have a hotel reservation issued by the hotel or travel agency in Japan. If you have all the requirements mentioned above, you just have to mail them and wait for it to get back to you.

How long did it take to get my double entry visa? If I mailed the complete documents, it would just be a 5-7 business days from the date they received my papers.

NOTE: In my case, I did not initially have a hotel reservation and schedule of stay so they had to mail it back to me with a checklist of missing documents. So make sure you have the COMPLETE requirements.

Funny story when I resubmitted my documents, I looked at the tracking online and saw that it was sent back to me back like 3 days after and I felt like it was so fast and assumed that I got denied. I didn’t have enough time to reapply if that would be the case, so I had to message my friend that I was sad because I got denied. But then when I physically got the envelope, I felt that it only had my passport and immediately opened it. Taddddaaaaaa!!! Approved!!!

Most blogs I saw said that the time it takes to get processed would be at least 10 business day so I advise you to apply a month before your flight especially if you’re planning to do everything by mail.

When I was thinking I got denied, I said maybe there’s another way. I heard that in some countries they give transit visa in the airport. While searching, I came across on this Japan Shore Pass which says that I may be able to obtain a Japan Transit Visa on arrival if I have a travel ticket within 72 hours. I don’t know how this one works because before I could do a thorough research, I already got my visa. If anyone knows how it works, feel free to share it with us.

It was worth it and rewarding. Fighting for something you really want.

Scientific name of vegetables in sinigang(sour/tamarind soup)

Sinigang is my comfort food especially during the rainy/colder season. It is a sour soup made of vegetables and meat of your choice (you can use shrimp, pork, beef, fish, chicken). Unripe tamarind is the commonly used ingredient to make the sinigang sour. Other people use calamansi instead of tamarind. Nowadays, people usually use the instant tamarind soup mix because it’s cheaper and easy to use.

I won’t be detailing how to make one because you can find several youtube videos and/or blogs to learn how to make one. My goal here to look at the sinigang and the commonly used vegetables from different versions of it.

Below are the commonly used vegetables in sinigang. They are in Tagalog-English-Scientific name order.

kangkong – water Spinach – Ipomoea aquatica

sitaw – string beans – Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis

kamatis – tomato – Solanum lycopersicum

siling haba – long chili – Capsicum annuum

sibuyas – onion – Allium cepa

gabi – taro – Colocasia esculenta

labanos – radish – Raphanus sativus

miso – soybean – Glycine max

talong – eggplant – Solanum melongena

sampaloc – tamarind – Tamarindus indica

calamansi – Philippine lime – Citrofortunella microcarpa

The photo above was my take on my own sinigang (because in the country I am right now, the veggies mentioned are rare to find). I used asparagus and mustard instead of string beans and kangkong. Enjoy your hot sinigang in this bed weather situation. I would love to hear how they are called in your place and other vegetables you add in your sinigang in the comment section.