Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sprockets "Raket"

Sprockets Coffee + Milk Tea Cafe is very hard to miss. It is brightly lit in J Block Building, Apitong Street in Cebu just alleys behind the Parklane Hotel. The street stretch is dim but as soon as you get near the block where it stood, you would notice bright lights coming from the inside of the restaurant passing through its glass walls. It has become the yuppies favorite night cafes since it is decorated with so many delightful camera artifacts and photographs. Although young professionals spread around and about the area, there are in fact, surprisingly, a few veterans around. One we caught sight of happened to be a church worker in one of Cebu's cathedrals and looked like she was doing an inventory or some sort of accounting work on her laptop while chilling over a glass of milk tea. I wondered what magnet the shop has that it seem to entice a lot of people from all walks of life.

When we requested a recommendation from the waiter regarding their specialty, he didn't hesitate offering the Ostrich Steak from their menu. And because he sounded like he bet his life on it, we took his advice. We also added Chili Con Carne Pizza to satisfy the craving of one of my food and travel friends.

Waiting for your order in the cafe is not much of a painful experience. If they tarried, you wouldn't notice it too much since there are a lot of things inside the shop that satisfies a little of every persons unique fancy. Those whose hobby is photography can get glued on a huge wall of Lomo pictures which I understand happens to be the owner's other favorite pastime. Then, there are the camera pillows all around that you could use to cushion a head or throw at a friend, and menu card boards designed in shapes of cameras and a drawing at the back. The atmosphere their interior set-up creates is playful which is why anyone can find himself getting comfortable not too long after sitting down on their cushioned chairs. The place fosters varieties and non-traditional styling. They have a display of Lomo cameras at one corner with new and used films. They also do not seem to be into uniformity or too much formality that even their chairs and tables are different. They have tables that are made for serious diners and there are the sofas that cater for casual chats and conversations with friends. WIFI internet connection is also available so people with pads, tabs, and smart phones won't miss Facebooking and internet surfing.

Ostrich Steak

Chili con Carne Pizza

Finally, the orders arrived and we were beaming with excitement to see the nicely-plated steak. It came with garlic rice accented with a green herb on top and small bowl of sauce. It was picturesque, so we kept our phone cameras busy. The Ostrich meat cooked at medium-well as requested, tasted delightfully delicious. The meat was cooked hard on the outside but tender inside. Cutting it through will show you the pinkish red color of the meat. To add to its flavor, a splash of special mustard sauce was poured on it. For diners like us who chance on steaks and ostriches occasionally, we only had good things to say about the palate treat. As if starved for more of what Sprocket has to offer, we reached for a slice of the Chili con Carne flavored pizZza. It was itself a welcome for our hungry stomachs as well. The crust was neither thick nor thin. Although the dough may have tasted a little stale and dry, the chili con carne toppings definitely made up for it.

Sprockets Milk Tea
For our drinks, we opted for a milk tea and a passion fruit iced tea.

Lately, the shop management has infused fun in dining through occasional trivia and other activities inside the cafe making hanging out more interesting.

Other good reads on Sprockets:
Babe for Food

Visit Sprockets Coffee + Milk Tea Cafe at Apitong, Street. For inquiries, contact them at 234-3304 or write a comment in their Facebook page.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hardly Ever There

Therefore whosoever heareth these saying of Mine,and doeth them, I will liken him
unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the
rivers came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it
was founded upon a rock.  (Matt. 7:24-25)

   I call it blind certainties. The times when one feels he is certain of his whereabouts but unsure of where his mind is wandering. Sometimes I feel so sure about what I want to do on a particular day yet ends up going back home with just as much "to dos" as I had envisioned at daybreak. In the matter of emotional disposition, one can be experiencing a state of happiness  and yet not finding where it is sourced from. Life sometimes takes me to moments seemingly serene, however, inexplicably internally noisy. It is an awkward feeling. A major contrast. Subtle opposites. Inconspicuously deceitful and a make believe. Pretty much like hiding fears behind beer bottles or bloating egos over cowardliness. Or puffing smoke from cigarettes to hide a weary face. Even sporting huge fake smiles or blurting big matter-of-factly Yeses to mime the "i don't knows". It is unreal. All of it are.
   When times like this happens, it's easy to be gullible. One can be an easy prey for lurking predators, people who take advantage at the slightest hint of weakness in others. I have seen people yield to not too reasonable requests simply because he/she couldn't keep his ground. He knows he ought to say "No" to a "treat me for lunch" request for the sake of building some savings fund, but, he nonetheless, say "Yes" to please another. Women muster their edge at coercing men to say "Okay" at requests that are in fact insignificant just so they get what they want. We, on the other hand, quickly raise arms in surrender at the power of their slightest hip sway, hair toss, tempting grin, a meaningless touch, childish murmur, and inviting glance. Ahh women! They always seem to have our egos by the neck. But, humans as we are, everybody ought to know that most things do not come for free all the time. Everybody has motives. The predator-prey-predator cycle is as real as wake-work-sleep routine. Be careful not to fall too deep into it that you could end up scarred for life or challenge the odds too aggressively that consequences could blow hard back on you sourly.
    This is why people with a sense of purpose and a seasoned self-control is admirable. Others are just gifted to have it so naturally that they seem to breeze through life's hustle and bustle effortlessly. They are quick to organize and come up with a plan. Keen in prioritizing and recognizing the importance of an excellent decision. And strong in keeping the stand, willing to sacrifice temporary lusts and short-lived pleasures for a more rewarding end. Still, in reality, a big fraction of the world's population are challenged in this aspect which is why even if you may not have been born and raised valuing purpose and self-control, for as long as you give it a conscious effort to find and master it, you will be alright. It will become part of your habit in no time. Men and women who found it knew when to say "Yes" and what to say "Yes" to. They fearlessly and shamelessly say "No" when they have to. Pride, ego and emotions do not dictate their decisions.
    I am one of the many who struggle through mastering self-control and keeping the purpose in mind. Focus evades me and I find it very elusive. It is volatile too in the sense that when I do find it at own effort, I tend to lose it at the slightest noise. And the only circumstances I seem to have it are the times when my relationship with the Lord is okay. When it is broken, I kind of lose it and these are the times when I say "Yes" and "No" so aimlessly. So adrift that I tend to be blown so easily from side to side. People, society, norms take turns in making the decisions for me. And when these elements go crazy and wild, I am caught in a limbo, and walk the world mindlessly and heartlessly. Such a pitiful disposition to be in.
    God is my direction. Without Him, everything is a question. If you take him away from life's formula, it would seem like you are part of a big community, but, hardly ever there.
    Live life with meaning and purpose.

Monday, October 1, 2012

"I" and "Us" of Growing

“Two's company, three's a crowd” - an American Proverb.

We hear about this statement a lot mostly referring to chaos, trouble, misunderstanding, disorganization, and division when in a group. And for most times in my life, I kinda believed the notion. Although, I can get along, just fine in a group, but I noticed, how interaction in this setup can also become much of a trouble. Decisions seem to take longer to make especially when you have more ideas and feelings to consider at a given time. Divisions in the group can also take place when certain members feel like they need to side with one who has established a certain level of dominance, while the more logical few takes as much courage they can muster to support a more rational member in the team. This is the reason why leaders are born but what if the desire to lead is inborn? And to further the thought, what if that is intrinsic to all? There are cowards, insecure, and timid types who would rather sulk in the corner and become content spectating but timidity is mostly a product of several failed leadership attempts. And although their submission and surrender seem to work in keeping the group appear united, there exists an even deeper conflict: "I, too, want to lead, but I will just be embarrassed trying." These and many more are reasons why people would rather spend doing things by themselves: "I'll travel alone.", "I'll decide by myself. Besides, I am more productive when I do not have to consult others." Keeping things in this perspective is indeed proving that the statement typed early on is true.

Lately, however, I have been hearing teachings about how community is important for people to grow into maturity. Apparently, Ecclesiastes 4:12, supports it clearly - "... A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." A group can make you stronger and it can accomplish greater things too that no man by himself can do. It can get things done faster, given that all members of the team understand the same vision and know the same purpose. Lessons to learn can come from many which could lead to accelerated growth. Proverbs 27:17 has this to say about being in the company of other people, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." It means to say that we get to develop characters that can build us up wiser and smarter.

As good as all that information may seem, a question popped suddenly. Is this really true all the time? Why is it that in the context of our present society, implementation of proposed constitutional amendments take so much time? Why is it that street dwellers are all around the metropolis and you see the kids breathing in lung-damaging substances while they scatter to ask for alms only to hand it over to syndicate leaders? How about deterioration of self-image amidst a bullying crowd? What have we to say about Juan whose addiction to cigarettes and other vices started from peer pressure? Or Ana, the single mom who decided she'll have a baby from anyone, even without marriage, because friends, norms and research tell her that she'll have cervical cancer if she doesn't bear a child at late twenties? They weren't alone. That was community forming them too.

While searching to understand how a community with its apparent benefits really live up to rearing people to maturity, here is a scripture I stumbled on before bedtime. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20) I see this verse in the light of the phrase "...come together in my name". It signifies agreement and indicates unity among the community of three acknowledging Jesus' name as the reason of their convergence. Although far-fetched to some, I draw two important theories from this reading.

    1.) A community is effective when they work for a common vision, purpose, or objective.
    2.) A community, despite differences as individuals, must have a common identity.

In the case above, the three is a community of Christians united for a single purpose. Hence, the Lord confirms habitation.

Applying all these lessons to the early assumptions, I objectively look at community as a make or break approach towards maturity. Encamping among people of good manners develop the appropriate breeding and achieves the kind of growth you expect for yourself. On the other hand, choice of bad companions can likely corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). I do not discredit, however, the 10% possibility that it can happen otherwise where you make others change at your influence instead. It happens, not frequently though. Either way, there has to be a guiding objective or mission for it to work.

And on whether it is "I" or "us", I would say that both aren't bad ideas. To swear that growth strictly happens only in a community is quite a generalization. There are things you learn by personal study, and there are those you learn better from other people. On rate of growth, lessons learned in a community is speedy - Maybe. Like in the idea of algae competing for oxygen in a body of water, too many can also mean limited growth. Some even die so the rest can thrive. Jesus took time to pray in a quiet place by himself without disruption from others. We cannot bring community with us or let others meddle on personal matters about ourselves all the time. In the same way, we cannot always keep our happiness or sadness all by ourselves. We also have the need for sympathy, affirmation, and companionship of others.

In closing, a crowd of three, four, nor five,  isn't really bad if each member identifies to a common niche and functions for the same objective. And doing things by and for yourself at times is not sin at all. If all's done for the glory of the One who befriended us at our worst, none can go wrong.
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