Ink Stains and Photos

A story lover's memoirs and photo blog. :-) #Dumaguete #Manila #StreetPhotography #Psychiatry #PopCulture


Amazing Stories ( “Alternate Universes” entry for #TheBlogRounds 3.0)

I remember feeling infinitely bored daily when I was growing up. 

It was a deeply intense desire to always be stimulated. To always discover something new was a daily quest for me. A new thing, new person, new experience would always fascinate. 
I grew up in the province. Back in the day, we had no internet, no phone line in our house for many years. In fact, I distinctly remember that cable TV didn’t get hooked up until I was in high school. The closest thing we had to multimedia entertainment were the weekly VHS tapes of cartoons that my father rented out in the city (for we had finished the movies we had of our own in the house).
Also, books (or, at least, the fancy books that I wanted) were considered a luxury and my parents didn’t think it was necessary to spend much on books, because I would “burn through” books so fast that…well, they didn’t think it economically sound to cater to my reading needs at the rate I was going.. πŸ™‚
So that left me with a lot of free time… I was always looking for ways to occupy myself, even back then. I’ve been known raid other people’s bookshelves, and when that was done, I’d move on to the next. If I didn’t have a steady supply of books to preoccupy me, I would constantly (and in a melodramatic manner at that)complain that “Life” was moving on without me, and that I needed to travel and tell more stories.) Then, I found a Book rental store that allowed me to borrow books at a price my daily allowance could afford. That kept me preoccupied again, until I had finished their haul, and I was hankering for another set. πŸ™‚
Stories were a lifeblood, even when I was young. I had an insatiable need to be told them, to read them…and to experience something so I could know them. My father would tell us stories at night before bedtime, but that eventually became boring for me, as he used pretty much the same characters (not his fault that I was dreaming up more sophisicated stuff to be entertained by.) 
So I tried to make my own, but at kindergarten, I found that I did not have enough of a vocabulary to really express what I wanted to.. I knew what I wanted to say, just not entirely how to say it. But I tried. My brother and 2 other male cousins were my playmates, and we’d always stage role plays to entertain ourselves. In our “warrior’s garb” that we fashioned out of blankets from our own parents’ beds, and “laser swords”, we would pretend we were aliens coming to visit Earth after a successful interplanetary conquest. I remember one time, in the “farewell” scene I had concocted, I saw a tear falling out of my cousin Gremi’s cheek, and I realized then how much power stories held.
Power, yes, but more of a fascination with how it was told and ways to tell it. My second grade class put on a play of Cinderella for the elementary school, and because I had a good speaking voice then (but none of Disney Princess charm, regretfully), they made me “The Narrator”. The Narrator really just reads stuff, and tells the story while Cinderella (played by my cousin) was wooed by the handsome Prince Charming (yes, he was. :-)) . Peering from sidelines, I watched how the words of the story (and the characters who were playing them) enthralled the audience completely, until the end.
When I was sixteen after years of work in the school paper and other writing tilts,  I had set myself up for a career in writing. I so wanted to tell stories. I had been accepted to the premier State University in Diliman, but my parents vetoed the idea of sending wee Stephanie Eloisa to the big city to study either Creative Writing or European Languages. Instead, I was sent to the next best thing. A local university whose name sounded exactly like the one in Diliman…where, wryly, I took up something so far removed from storytelling as possible, Medical Technology. πŸ™‚
Thinking back, I think my life’s major timelines broke off into two separate alternate realities at the time. It always makes me think of what other possible life I could have been leading now, had I taken that path. What would I have been? WHO would I have been? I may have been La Belle Parisienne writer Stephanie, so chic and smoking cigarettes with a thin black handle, married to someone named Jean Pierre. Or I could have been Estephania, at the Foreign Service, cultural attache with an addiction for collecting Italian modern art. Who would know, really?
I wouldn’t know…well, not exactly, anyway. 
Yet somehow, thankfully, life thankfully takes us to places and leads us to people who make us realize that despite what choices we may have regretted in our lives, we somehow gravitate to a place and time where our wishes and dreams are fulfilled in a better way than we actually have planned. I say this now because even though I didn’t get to study writing, I somehow ended up in a health care profession where I get paid to listen (and interact) to people with stories and even interact with them, and ahem, know on a biochemical level, why their “stories” are that way. πŸ™‚
Speaking of everything turning out in the most surprising ways that we don’t expect, I DID get to have coffee with Prince Charming (from that grade school play) as friends last year, and wouldn’t you know…his stories were pretty amazing too. πŸ™‚ 


On Beards and Manbuns

Β Very recently, I’ve developed “an extremely strong desire to mentally consume” all episodes of this small screen/ Netflix wonder (read: I binge-watch these episodes in my spare time, with my father occasionally joining to watch. )

It simply cannot be helped. The large-scale production of a historical drama, with larger-than-life characters, created by the legendary Michael Hirst is a compelling show to watch. He is the sole writer for the show, and allegedly, to up the excitement factor new scripts come out every two weeks for the actors, and they never know what to expect.

The characters have great chemistry, and the actors are very easy on the eyes (aside from the fact that they are good actors, of course.). Β My initial favorite,was of course, Ragnar Lothbrok (played by erstwhile Calvin Klein model, Travis Fimmel) and now, heavily favored is the very strong “crippled Viking” character, Ivar the Boneless , who is portrayed by Alex Hogh Andersen.


Photo from

Like any full-blooded female, I am partial to strong male characters on TV, Β but these two characters were so well-crafted and well-played that they actually made me dissociate pleasantly and had me thinking that they might actually be real vikings in their past lives. I kid you not. πŸ™‚

Ragnar is bold, adventurous and curious…enough to defy his earl and go wandering off West, even when he was explicitly told not to. Also, as a bonus he has this leering look and twitching of his eye that seems to emphasize his points. You really have to admire the man, he was ahead of his time, and his nearly insatiable thirst for “the new worlds to explore” made him a standout indeed. He had that fire in his eyes, a charisma, which everyone saw, because they all followed him unquestioningly.

(Maybe he was a visionary in those Dark Ages…but really, the show was only based on The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, an old Viking tale handed down from generations through storytelling, too diluted to be even considered as real, accurate history. )

Nevertheless, it made for very entertaining viewing. My father loves it for the swordfights and battle scenes, I myself, love it for the relationship drama and the internal and external conflicts of the characters. #Priorities. πŸ™‚


Lagertha, the shield maiden, is also a favorite character, as she is a…well, a Badass female, way ahead of her time. She could handle herself in a brawl…and still have time for her kids, AND was brave enough to pack up her bags and divorce her philandering husband publicly, without fear of the unknown. Also, I might add, she never looked back. Sure, she may have seemed to love such a powerful man with all her heart, but in the end, she could not bear to be humiliated by his philandering ways, and she opted instead to just break it off with him anyway.

(She never settled, and became Earl in her own right…winning battles and commanding men.)


πŸ™‚ Really, this is just the gist of it all, and I am merely writing out the things that I like about this show. There are several articles on the show, and I think this one here is more congruent with real Viking History. πŸ™‚


Perhaps since I am infinitely curious about people’s character and how they think, my current favorite would have to be one of Ragnar’s sons, Β Ivar the Boneless, played by Alex Hogh Andersen. This character was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta ( and was nearly killed by his own father) and had an anger management problem that drove him to be one of the most notorious Viking conquerors of Western Europe, so to speak. Β (AH fun. All the internal conflicts there!) He was also, allegedly, very smart…and cunningly genius war strategist as well…and despite the fact that he could not walk, legacy stories about him were telling about how “stood higher than many men in the battlefield.”


Speculations about his condition abound, of course, but we really have no way of knowing for sure, because all this data is being extrapolated from the recounted histories, and very old Viking records from the 10th century that were recorded by the monks and the priests of Christianity.

alexΒ  However, it is not a bad thing at all that Alex Hogh AndersenΒ is playing Ivar. No, not at all…especially since he also takes photos in his spare time, in real life (which I think is pretty cool, of course!). haha. not at all. Β πŸ™‚

Don’t take my word for it, though… try to watch it yourself. If you like stories and characters like I do, then this series is for you. πŸ™‚

(And this concludes my extra-curricular writing blogging activity. πŸ™‚ )

So, enjoy! Because I definitely did,beards,manbuns and all.) πŸ™‚

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Photos: Intramuros morning

My friend Arla was entertaining her friends from France while they were in town for a few days. She asked me to join them for breakfast in Intramuros, before they would leave on a flight later that same day.

Intramuros was one of my favorite touristy spots to shoot in, when in Manila, and I was free for the morning so I went. Nico and Mickael were friends of hers from when she did her clerkship rotation in France, while she was in medical school. They had been touring spots around the country for a couple of weeks and were just winding down.

They were great, a couple of good-natured guys were very nice and fun to talk to. They gamely triedΒ Binignit,Β Champorado,Β as well asΒ Halo-halo,Β when we were in Ilustrado for breakfast.

Being in Intramuros, the walled city, is always a good excuse for me to take photos and walk around. So much so, that Arla was amused enough to laughingly comment that I was almost more touristy than her friends. πŸ™‚

Oh well, it simply could not be helped.

There are always plenty of colors and textures that pique my interest every time in this place.

I called this one, “Frenchman in Manila”, actually, this was Nico having a quiet moment looking on at the architecture and me noticing that the bougainvillea-laden floors made for a good contrast point.

Mickael had a small Canon point and shoot, which gave me the idea to shift to smaller cameras with a better sensor than my iphone. Also, I like taking photos of people taking photos. πŸ™‚

Flowy skirts. March 2017.

Going up the rise. March 2017.

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Photo: Japanese subway art

The Midori notebook my cousin Chris got me from his recent trip to Japan is really pretty. This subway map is very nice, and I find humor in that it is all written in Japanese, and I can only appreciate how organized and efficient it looks. πŸ™‚

Also, I have an opportunity to travel to Singapore for a few days in the first week of May, so that got me thinking about subway systems that I will take when I am there. Β Quite excited. πŸ™‚ (Japan is my next place to go to, fingers crossed.)