Blog : Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anything: Childhood memories, Filipino poetry and magical Dutch paintings

Ask Me Anything is a series of questions given by my friends and answered by me, Angel! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, or if you’re just plain curious about me (because I am such a superstar), feel free to send me a message!


1. What’s the strongest image you have from your childhood?

I have a way of remembering memories that my closest friends would know – it’s like remembering a capsule of time complete with the colour of light, the feel of the air, the smell (and when I “see” that stamp of memory again in some future time, I will remember the old memory so crisply and almost painfully, because I can almost touch it but it’s not there..)

One of the strongest pockets of memory I have in my childhood is the rain in Manila, particularly the strong stormy ones, the kind that make the schools call off classes and send everyone home. Of course being children, this is one of the best things that can happen to us! I distinctly remember that feeling of anticipation – waiting in our classrooms looking outside, desperately wishing that they call off classes already.

In high school, we sometimes hang out for a little bit in the school canteen when classes are called off. I remember the chocolate granita I used to buy there all the time! Now when it rains heavily, I wish for that chocolate granita..

What’s even better is when I wake up to a grey, dark morning with the heavy raindrops crashing on the roof and secretly smiling to myself because more often than not, it means there are no classes for that day! I love snuggling back in the covers and enjoying the cool air from the rain. Later in the day, I’ll watch cartoons on TV – Cedie, or Heidi or The Little Princess. My grandparents still had their small carinderia downstairs then, so I’ll just go down and get a bowl of warm goto (rice porridge with meat) or sopas (creamy chicken noodle soup). It was so cozy.


2. With which famous personality would you most identify with?

I never really thought about it! Maybe a mixture of Kirsten Dunst, Julian Casablancas and Victoria LeGrand? And the talent of Vincent Van Gogh (but not his anxieties and luck haha). And of course, the woman who I share my birthday with: Amelia Earhart.


In addition to being an aviation pioneer and the first aviatrix to fly across the Atlantic, she is a true women’s rights advocate. She worked with coaching women in their careers, and inspired them with her passion. She said:

Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.
– Amelia Earhart


3. What’s the nicest poem in Filipino and how would you translate it?

I don’t really have a favourite one, so I did some research. I came across a really nice poem from Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. It’s called Awit ng Manlalakbay (The Song of the Traveler). You can hear me reciting it here, and you can read the text of the English translation further down. 🙂

Awit Ng Manlalakbay

Kagaya ng dahong nalanta, nalagas,
Sinisiklut-siklot ng hanging marahas;
Abang manlalakbay ay wala nang liyag,
Layuin, kalulwa’t bayang matatawag.

Hinahabul-habol yaong kapalarang
Mailap at hindi masunggab-sunggaban;
Magandang pag-asa’y kung nanlalabo man,
Siya’y patuloy ring patungo kung saan!

Sa udyok ng hindi nakikitang lakas,
Silanga’t Kanlura’y kanyang nililipad,
Mga minamahal ay napapangarap,
Gayon din ang araw ng pamamanatag.

Sa pusod ng isang disyertong mapanglaw,
Siya’y maaaring doon na mamatay,
Limot ng daigdig at sariling bayan,
Kamtan nawa niya ang kapayapaan!

Dami ng sa kanya ay nangaiinggit,
Ibong naglalakaby sa buong daigdig,
Hindi nila tanto ang laki ng hapis
Na sa kanyang puso ay lumiligalig.

Kung sa mga tanging minahal sa buhay
Siya’y magbalik pa pagdating ng araw,
Makikita niya’y mga guho lamang
At puntod ng kanyang mga kaibigan.

Abang manlalakbay! Huwag nang magbalik,
Sa sariling baya’y wala kang katalik;
Bayaang ang puso ng iba’y umawit,
Lumaboy kang muli sa buong daigdig.

Abang manlalakbay! Bakit babalik pa?
Ang luhang inyukol sa iyo’y tuyo na;
Abang manlalakbay! Limutin ang dusa,
Sa hapis ng tao, mundo’y nagtatawa.

Here’s the English translation:

The Song Of The Traveler

A withered leaf which flies uncertainly
And hurled about by furious hurricanes,
So goes the traveler about the world,
No guide, no hope, no fatherland, no love.

Anxiously he seeks a better fortune
And fickle fortune always takes to flight;
A shadow vain that mocks at his desire!
For her the wanderer has plowed the seas.

Driven on by hands invisible,
Wandering from land to weary land,
Only memories to keep him company,
Of loved ones and of bygone happier days.

A tomb perhaps upon the desert
Calls him–refuge sweet of peace,–
Where, by his country and the world forgotten,
Tranquil he may sleep who knew such pain.

And if they envy this sad traveler
When he speeds so swiftly round the world,
Ah, little do they know that in his soul
Exist an aching void for want of love.

Should the wanderer turn back to his country,
And to his home, it may be, make his way,
He would find but snow and ruins everywhere,
All love destroyed, and sepulchres,–no more.

On, then, traveler, pursue your journey,
Stranger to the land where you were born.
Letting others sing their songs of love
And feel their joys, you fare on again.

And traveler, as you go, do not turn back,
For none will shed a tear to say farewell,
Go, pilgrim, try to drown your sorrow,
Because the world but scoffs when strangers grieve.


4. What causes instant happiness?

A Phoenix song!

Particularly this one (especially, this video!) :

Phoenix – 1901 – A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

If this won’t make you smile just a little bit, I don’t know what will! 🙂


5. If you were a painter, what would end up on your canvas?

I wish I could paint! Right now, I’m very attracted to Dutch Golden Age paintings, especially still life with vibrant flowers against a dark background.

Master of the Veneration of Maria 1625 - Lilies and thornless Roses in a Glass VaseMaster of the Veneration of Maria, Lilies and Thornless Roses in a Glass Vase

Abraham Mignon Still Life with Squirrel and GoldfinchAbraham Mignon, Still Life with Squirrel and Goldfinch

abraham-mignon-the-nature-as-a-symbol-of-vanitas-oil-on-canvas-79-x-99-cmAbraham Mignon, The Nature as a Symbol of Vanitas

Lille_Hospice_Comt_MarrelJacob Marrel

Jacob MarrelJacob Marrel

Jacob MarelJacob Marrel

Flowers in a glass vase, Jacob van WalscapelleJacob van Walscapelle, Flowers in a Glass Vase

800px-Jacob_van_Walscapelle_-_A_Swag_of_Flowers_-_WGA25434Jacob van Walscapelle, A Swag of Flowers

Bouquet with cat and mousetrapAbraham Mignon, Bouquet with Cat and Mouse Trap

In contrast to still life’s solid and vivid compositions, I would also paint a dreamy, almost-fading-away piece like those of contemporary Dutch painter (my favourite!) Chris Berens‘ works. I’ve never seen anything like his work before.

I interviewed him for Arts Holland a couple of years back. These photos are from his Amsterdam series. You can read the interview here and see more of his amazing paintings here.

December5thbChris Berens, December 5th

(Rendesvous At) Brug 36bChris Berens, (Rendesvous At) Brug 36

AemstelredammebChris Berens, Aemstelredamme

PolderbChris Berens, Polder

the Spinsters of OudeschansbChris Berens, The Spinsters of Oudeschans

This set of questions is brought to you by my good friend Mario de Vries. Mario is a talented interior and design artist who works at Moooi Amsterdam. He loves bonfires, dreams of living in Norway someday and believes he was a sailor in his past life.

Ask Me Anything: New music, exciting things and a bajillion Euros

Ask Me Anything is a series of questions given by my friends and answered by me, Angel! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, or if you’re just plain curious about me (because I am such a superstar), feel free to send me a message!


1. Who are your three new favourite bands?

Currently loving Future Islands so much! I’ve also seen them recently at Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht – they blew me away! Sam Herring is INTENSE, he’s the best performer I’ve ever seen. He grabbed my shoulder and shook me while singing “Do you believe in love?” 🙂 I do, I do, I do.

My favourite songs: Balance, Tin Man, and Old Friend.

Not really a “new” favourite band, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Blondie songs these days. I especially love “Sunday Girl” – it’s the soundtrack of my days in Ideas Island, where I am now staying for a week. Live in dreams, Sunday Girl.

Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” is my default karaoke song!

And again, not really a new find, but a sort of rediscovery. I’ve been listening a lot to our favourite Norwegian troubadour Sondre Lerche, especially here in Stockholm. I love “Heartbeat Radio” – I think it’s quite a sad but upbeat song, and it hits you in all the right places (in your sunny-dark melancholy soul). You just know Sondre’s heart is breaking behind all those jangly guitars.

He is releasing a new album soon called “Please” and a new video just came out of his song “Bad Law”. It’s about crimes of passion and being “that guy” at a party. Crazy times!


2. What’s your favourite food from the Netherlands?

Hmm tough question! Hehe. Well I do love Holland’s sweets, they have a lot of awesome baked goods there. I especially love the Christmas/ New Year treat called oliebol: a sort of deep-fried donut, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Yum! I love Dutch cheese, especially the old ones. And bitterballen,  deep-fried snack balls which contain a mixture of meat and flour. Yeah, let’s deep-fry everything!

I also love eating at my neighbourhood Turkish restaurant, but is that counted as Dutch? :p

And I have to say, I love grocery shopping at Albert Heijn, they have the best selection ever! They also have the cutest hamster mascots which I ardently wait for on TV to show up. 🙂


3. If you have 1 bajillion Euros, what would you do with it?


Buy an island in the Swedish archipelago like the one I am on now. What a dream.

Check out the photo story I made of Ideas Island!


4. What is the most exciting thing that happened to you?

When I found out in 2008 that I won a scholarship to study in Europe and live my dream! I was screaming and jumping up and down with my best friend. That and the whole adventure and experience of living in Goettingen, Bilbao, Stockholm and of course, the Netherlands. I will definitely write about that in detail for those who don’t know. 🙂


5. Beyonce or Lady Gaga?

None. Haha I do like Lady Gaga’s opening act for her upcoming tour, though. BABYMETAL!!! \m/ Get ready to have your mind blown:


This set of questions is brought to you by my good friend and partner-in-achieving-dreams, DJ Yabis! DJ is the queen of eurotrip (and the glamorous founder of Dream Euro Trip). When not traveling, you can find him throwing dinner parties or working on DIY design projects for his apartment in Germany.

Ask Me Anything: Science fiction and the worlds we live in

Ask Me Anything is a series of questions given by my friends and answered by me, Angel! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, or if you’re just plain curious about me (because I am such a superstar), feel free to send me a message!

Did you read a lot of fantasy and science fiction as a kid? Why do you think authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien appealed to you so much?

I didn’t really start reading fantasy and science fiction as a kid, I actually read a lot of Sweet Valley Kids and Twins when I was young, hehe! I started reading science fiction and fantasy in high school, I think. The first (and most memorable) series that come to mind is The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I consider it fantasy, okay. My brother was the one who introduced me to Rice (and Stephen King, but I didn’t really like his stories), and the enigmatic Lestat. These books and Lestat meant the world to me, they were my escape. I spent a lot of time reading in my top floor attic room, shutting out the overwhelming chaos of the city, and dreaming of other worlds and immortality while watching the sun set from the roof. I dreamt a lot of leading a life like the courageous, hero-centric and ever-emotional Lestat’s. Come to think of it, I think it’s because of him that I have this romantic streak.

Tolkien made a huge impact on me when the Lord of the Rings movies came out. Indeed, I only read the books because I was inspired by the movie and the world it promised. 🙂 It’s full of heart and loyalty, unshakeable wisdom, a lush landscape, and grand magic. And of course, who wouldn’t be attracted to the elves and a journey to the west (= life after death). It also helped that my best friends also loved the books and Middle-Earth as much as I do. We spent a lot of time dreaming about it together, and assigning ourselves our own elven names. Basically, we shared this world together, it was real as it can be for us. After waiting for years, we watched the Return of the King when it came out in the cinema, crying our eyes out together.

One summer, we spent a weekend at a friend’s guest house in Tagaytay. I was reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Earthsea Quartet and was so mesmerized by it. We ended up sharing the book in that weekend and taking turns reading it (and bugging each other to hurry up already and finish that chapter). 🙂

I remember feeling so much for these other worlds, and thinking that the one I live in lacked so much (magic, emotions, depth, colour, meaning). I was a teenager after all, living in a grimy, humid city. I longed so much for another place, I felt it deep in my heart. I reached for it in fantasy and science fiction at first, and later on in Europe.

Do you think this sort of literature had an influence in the creation of your own image of Europe as you grew up?

I don’t think so. Although they both spring from longings and wishes in my heart, fantasy and science fiction is separate from the “Europe” in my head. I feel like Ian Wright’s adventures in Lonely Planet made more of an impact for me (re: my early image of Europe) during my teenage years. 🙂 Also: Amelie Poulain, Prince Andrea of Monaco, “The Invisible Circus” with Cameron Diaz, and countless of cheesy travel books.

The utopian image of Sweden, however, came from a deep love of Swedish indie music. In the end, I even wrote my Master thesis about it: how Swedish indie music affects perceptions of people about Sweden, and how it ultimately influences and contributes to the success of Sweden’s nation branding efforts. Read all about it here.

Last time I saw you we talked about our love for Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood. What other science fiction women writers have you read lately? Does their treatment of gender interest you as a reader?

Jeanette Winterson is not really science fiction, nor fantasy, but her stories embody a fantastical vibe to it and a deep sense of otherworldliness. Perhaps it is “magic realism”, but not really… Anyway, her stories are absolutely beautiful and so intense that they will leave you feeling like you wouldn’t want to leave that “world” anymore. I love how she writes about the emotions of women in her stories, and the poetic tone of her writing. Her words and stories reach a deep part of myself (the ones we usually we don’t have words for, the ones that are screaming to be heard), in a dizzying, magical landscape.

My favourites are The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Please read them, your life will change forever!

 Photo: Tove Jansson

I would also love to read more of Tove Jansson‘s work. I recently read a very compelling article about Tove Jansson’s Moomins and what they mean to Jeanette Winterson and her writing, Jeanette Winterson: The Moomins and Me.

Some quotes that I can relate to in the article:

Poetic disorder is how language is made. Only later is it codified. Naming starts as joy. Think of the pleasure a child has in finding words and inventing words and forming sentences that are also shapes. Words are ear and mouth before they are pen and paper. Words run away; you have to catch them.

Machine-made language, the language that comes later, in school and then at work, is useful enough but has no life of its own. The job of the writer is to stay on the side of life. The moving words were what I wanted – then and now.

Moomin-world is wise. The Groke only cares about riches and freezes everything she touches like a refrigerated Midas. The Hemulen collects stamps but falls into despair when his collection is complete – then he is only an owner. Moomins don’t think much of owning things.

On their travels they adopt a small creature with big ears who explains: “I got lost and thought I’d never see the sun again”. This is Dante opening L’Inferno – “Midday through this life of ours I found myself alone in a dark wood.”

We know what that feels like, when the sun goes dark, whether we are a small scared child or a depressed adult.But here are light-up flowers and bowls of sea-pudding and Moominmamma reliably carries a dry pair of socks and stomach powders in her handbag.

Yet sadness is allowed. When Moominmamma falls into despair, everyone else gets gloomier and gloomier dwelling on the sadness in their lives. Perhaps this is Scandinavian, or perhaps it is just a psychic truth, and we try and protect children from what they know anyway – that life is dark as well as lit up.

Bonus question: Which fictional world would you like to live in? 🙂

A photo I took of my friend's cat in Stockholm, 2012.

A cross of Middle-Earth, Narnia and downtown Stockholm. 🙂

This set of questions is brought to you by one of my best friends, Arrate Hidalgo-Sanchez. Arrate is interested in all things science fiction and she writes and translates speculative literature that deals with interesting women. Among other things she likes noodles, rocks, the Northern Lights, silly dance moves and going to the pub with friends and/or books. Arrate does not know where she lives yet but she is having a good time finding out. You can read her brilliant thoughts on her blog, Emerald Grapefruit.

Ask Me Anything: Home, homesickness and Coke rooms

Ask Me Anything is a series of questions given by my friends and answered by me, Angel! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, or if you’re just plain curious about me (because I am such a superstar), feel free to send me a message!

1/ How do you define home?

I made a blog post about this last year, and I think this is my working definition of “home”:

Home to me for the past years have been a psychological phenomenon, a place where you can be yourself and where you are surrounded with the people that you love and who love you. A place where the most authentic “you” can flourish, and where you have the freedom and the state of mind to create, express and just be yourself. Simply, somewhere where you can be comfortable, happy and true. It is a bit different from the traditional definition of home, which is a more physical and non-flexible entity (and most usually refers to “where you came from”). Mine is a more mobile definition, perhaps a skill I have adapted to to match the currents of my life and/or a truth that I have discovered. I believe that you can be at home anywhere.

In addition: a much older blog post circa 2009, when I was moving around from Sweden, to Spain and to the Philippines, unsure where to go next, but absolutely sure where my heart lies.

what’s on my bedroom wall: a big outline of sweden, made out of blue lace. there’s a map of stockholm: norrmalm and gamla stan and sodermalm. and a map of the tunnelbana, the green and red and blue lines criss-crossing one another. looking at them now, i realized that they don’t mean anything to me anymore.

what makes my heart leap now: the lines of your face, the way you look at me, your words, your touch.

what’s happening now: i’m falling in love with people, instead of places. finding home in a different kind of way.

To sum it up, home is a place where the most authentic “you” can flourish, and/or a place that can be found in certain special people. Since you change, and other people change, homes can change too. TA-DA! What an epiphany!

2/ What is homesickness for you? (For some reason, I think that you don’t really associate homesickness with not being in Manila. Or do you?)

I don’t necessarily associate homesickness with Manila, because I don’t really feel “at home” there. Although, I DO miss my mother and my friends, and the feeling of being part of a warm, everlasting community and being loved in a particular way, which can only come from someone knowing you for decades and seeing you grow up. I think that is something irreplaceable.  I also miss the food, of course.

Homesickness can be felt anywhere, especially for cosmopolitan people: it can also be closely related to the feeling of “homelessness”, the feeling of disconnection and dislocation. Every cosmopolite can relate to the sentiments evoked by the Kings of Convenience song “Homesick”: Homesick. Because I no longer know where home is. But isn’t that just plain loneliness in the end, when you come to think of it?

The way to combat this nasty feeling is to know and accept and internalize that you are living a different life from the majority, and home cannot just be a simplistic definition, at least not for us (stop comparing yourself to others). Home can be many places all at once, and in the hearts of the many people who love you (spread all over the world!) Get on the computer, write a letter to your best friend, skype with your mom, connect and be less lonely/ homesick!

3/ What happened to the Coke room? (Remember this room under the big Coke sign in Stockholm?)

Photo: Marthin Sühl

Jobelle visited me in Stockholm during the summer of 2010. It was a great time! I remember pointing out to her “my Coca Cola room”: a top floor apartment in the Södermalm district, close to Slussen metro station (my favourite district and favourite metro station). It is my dream apartment. It also felt so personal because I am a Coca Cola addict and a big sucker for romance. Wouldn’t it be the most romantic thing if I ended up living in Sweden, in an apartment in Söder, overlooking Lake Mälaren and the entire city, with a Coca Cola sign as my nightlight?! Ahhh.

Just like how Jay Gatsby had his own personal green light to gaze into, I have my Coke room as the symbol of my Sweden dream. A concrete, yellow-ochre and beige, neon-lit embodiment of my hopes and dreams. Something that is mine to hold on to.

I don’t know what happened to the room nor who occupies it, but I do know that my dream is still there. 🙂

Here are some pictures of me and Jobelle during her fun-filled visit! All photos by Jobelle:

4/ Will it always be Europe for you? (To live, work, grow old?)

I think so! I loved Europe ever since I can remember, and I’m really enjoying myself here. I feel that the authentic me has been given a chance to grow and flourish here. The creative scene is very good (although sometimes I feel like a certain dynamism is lacking) and I like the fact that I don’t need to be scared walking home alone at night or getting mugged while riding public transportation. I like the fact that I ride a bicycle, and so does my boss. Living in the first world leaves a generous amount of space in your head to pursue your dreams and creative endeavours.

But who knows how I will feel about Europe in the future. I mean, the past six years I was clearly convinced that it would always be Sweden. But now I’m living in Holland. Things happen in life and it’s okay to change, it just means I am human and not a robot. Who knows what the future will bring? Being open is the key.

5/ Any new projects (creative, crazy, simple, life plans, etc) that you have in mind? (We never got to do our Manila art scene critique blog!)

Right now, I am busy working with Arts Holland and I am loving every minute of it. However, in a couple of months my contract will end and I will have to find a new job by then. (Offers and job interviews are very welcome! Contact me, potential boss.)

Personal ongoing projects include DJ-ing as Ice Hotel. Life plans: a trip to the Philippines at the end of the year, and a move to Amsterdam is also on the horizon, just need to make it happen!

This set of questions is brought to you by the awesome Jobelle Tayawa. Jobelle is one of my friends from way back (1st grade?!), we rode Tita Nelly’s school bus together even if we were attending different schools. She was wearing a colourful pink and blue uniform, mine’s stark white and maroon. Fast forward to college where we crossed paths again and found a shared love for creativity, artistic endeavours, indie music and general coolness. Jobelle is currently a globe-trotting, motorbike-riding art director and 1/2 of the Bad Ass Co. See her work at

And! She is currently competing for a spot as a luxury hotel tester in Europe! Vote for Team Cool ‘n Poor, and help send Jobelle to Europe (so she can also visit me and we can have amazing adventures again!) Vote here now (and prove that you’re not a robot!)

Ask Me Anything: A favourite travel story

Ask Me Anything is a series of questions given by my friends and answered by me, Angel! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, or if you’re just plain curious about me (because I am such a superstar), feel free to send me a message!

You are a true world traveler and this may be an impossible question to answer but can you tell me one of your favorite stories from your travels? First one that comes to mind!

I am very tempted to tell a Sweden story, but I’m not going to for more variety. Hehe! First one that comes to mind is my first time to travel abroad alone.

I was eighteen, young, free and obsessively in love with a Taiwanese pop boyband! I skipped my Friday classes and jumped on a flight to Hong Kong to attend an autograph signing, haha! It was incredibly fun, but now that I look back on it, the best bits are the moments I was exploring alone in the city, and how amazing it felt (and not really the moment when I met my favourite boyband member).

I remembered checking in alone at my first hotel, smack in the middle of downtown. It was a bit dark and scary, but who cares! I remember roaming the neon-lit streets, pretending I was in a Wong Kar Wai movie, as if everything was in slow motion and I was in the middle of a melancholy love story. I remember buying high top Vans sneakers with pink and black skulls all over it. I remember The Sundays’ My Finest Hour as the soundtrack to that trip.

And of course, I remember meeting up with my good friend Camille and traversing the city streets with her! We discovered an underground video arcade in the middle of the night, we were so happy! We played Guitar Freaks and Dance Dance Revolution (I am the undisputed queen of DDR in Robinsons Metro East! LOL!) I remember us singing Stars’ On Peak Hill together while climbing up a busy shopping street. Cold wind, blowing hair, arms raised up, hearts full of love.

It was almost ten years ago! I hope that sense of wonder, openness to the world, hunger for discovery and the wildness of my heart would never leave me.


This question is brought to you by my good friend Natalie. Natalie grew up in a warm place by the ocean and now lives in a much colder place by an archipelago. She’s working on a PhD at Stockholm University and her project focuses on early color film’s impact on the costume department. She also runs an amazing blog about waiting dogs.