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The Spices of Life



Bored with life? Spice it up!


Long after the Pandemic has eased restrictions on social connectivity, many people still complain of boredom and lack of excitement with the high cost of living, chronic illness, unsatisfied with one’s job or joblessness, no challenge in one’s profession, low pay for a tedious job, fear of failure, problematic relationships, and other multiple stressors in one’s environment.


For those who get bored, no worry. It is a universal experience. Almost all suffer from boredom at some point in life. According to one study, men quickly get more bored than women. In many cultures, boredom is when you have nothing to do! When it becomes a regular and everyday feeling, that is a cause for worry. An unpleasant emotional state leaves you empty yet tired and anxious or nervous over nothing. It becomes a chronic and lingering state of depression. If not resolved, one loses focus and breaks down.


I remember the middle-aged mother in Naga City who lost her daughter to suicide at the height of the Pandemic in 2021. I could not even mention her name or the family. I chatted with her when Tabang Bikol Movement organized a Webinar with the Department of Education Region V on Psycho-Social Intervention for distressed families, especially among school children in 2020 and another in 2021. I listened intently to the litany of the mother’s woes, with our face masks on, as we both felt the intensity of the loss of her child. Apparently, from her narrative, the mother began exhibiting manifestations of loneliness, extreme boredom, and lack of interest in life and wished to disappear from oblivion. The mother had domestic struggles with the father, who lost his job, and finances were an overwhelming challenge for the family of six. They were uncertain about where life for them was going. The children suffered emotionally.


Get a life, spice up!


We all have our ways of coping with boredom and loneliness. I am often asked how I do. Spice up! Diversity spices up life, as many would say. There are so many traditional ways to doing things in life. Why not start doing things differently by creating, innovating, exploring, inventing, or doing something new all the time? After all, variety is the spice of life.


Like when we cook foods, we use different ways to spice them up to enhance their taste, flavor, color, and palatability. I choose natural additives, like oregano, cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric, and add colors from the blue ternate leaves and the red annatto seeds to lighten the food presentation. Instead of the usual green salads, I love the exotic, wild, and new concoctions. The all-flowers salad, of various colors and varieties, freshly picked from the garden of Café Rosa at Magarao, is a natural stress reliever like my E-Sense made of kalamansi, citronella, pili, and herba buena essential oils. Last week, I also discovered the spicy Indian foods of Veer Di Indian Restaurant near the Basilica with their Bermati veggie rice and tasty vegetarian Samosa that my nephew James loves for snacks. Spicy foods and E-Sense natural essential oils release a flood of endorphins to help you feel better. So, I felt good when I learned that JaimEliza’s spicy VitaSisig and the hot natural sauces are selling well, along with Pandesal Marinero and Empanada Eliza. These diners are a welcome addition to the list of healthy eateries like the Green Earth and the Ralph Greens. Green entrepreneurship is the way to go to perk up your life.


How about home gardening? Or writing a book or a weekly column? I just did with Bicol Mail!


Or a walk up to the 400 steps of Tinandyagan hills in Libmanan, running after the flock of a hundred native “itik” at the San Isidro Farm in Calabanga, accepting a new challenge from friends or family like jumping from the top of the diving board to dive into the depth of the Mariners swimming pool at Legazpi, that would be fun. Have you tried the zip line, dip in the hot or cold springs, and feel the solid calm waters from the waterfalls that gently pound your back like a clean massage from Trangkilo Spa? We usually spend the hot summer at the beach. Instead, why not organize a quick camping overnight at some local hilly park nearby or have a grand time going deer, bird, or moon-watching? Why not play an easy online game with the young and the old folks or learn to play the bamboo instruments with the all-seniors Angklung Musical Ensemble under the baton of Rocelle Jimenez, retired dean of the PNU Conservatory of Music? Socialize and make new friends each day. I did. A few months ago, I joined the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce (CSCCI), awarded an outstanding chamber for 2022!


Try a new hobby or a new trick, engage in rough or gentle play with children. Enjoy a big laugh. Last Holy Week, I laughed at the thought of my husband taking a long video of the senior women singing the Pasyon and wondering the singing did not seem to end at all. Organizing a quick reunion among relatives from the different family tree branches would be a blast. At the quarrying site of Sto. Domingo in Albay, Doc Nila brought home a few rocks to paint colorful flowers and turned them into instant paperweights at the office. She learned the rudiments of painting from the Kurit Aki, a yearly painting session that hundreds of children enjoy learning every December. It indeed provides an effective psycho-social relief for stress.


Making life a newfound experience from the ordinary is a creation. To become special, one needs a creative mix of ingredients, flavors, and colors, like concocting a special halo-halo and ice cream that comes from the clever combination of various flavors and tastes from non-spicy, moderate to volcanic hot, like the famous Bicol chili ice cream. Variety is the very spice of life that gives it all its unique flavor: to make life meaningful and for a purpose. Have a life!

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