One day, my feet landed on the 26th floor of Cyberone Building in Eastwood City. It was my first day of training in my second job. I had my bag checked-in and signed up on the guard’s list. I went inside the office and headed to the training room. At the door, I found myself with a companion. Another trainee was with me. He smiled and said, “Should we go in?” I smiled back. He turned the knob and the door swung open. He gestured his hand like a gentleman wanting the lady to go inside first. That was the start of everything. He was my first seatmate in training and he was my partner during the introductions. He introduced me to our batch mates and I introduced him to them. I found out that he worked in Malaysia for 5 months and that he has a relatively big tattoo on his upper back which says, “Only God Can Judge Me.” Not only did he become a companion at the door, seatmate, and partner in training, but he also became a teammate and a very good friend. Meet the birthday celebrant this 9th of May, Joseph Mariko Magno.
Days with Mariko (2012)
When Mariko accepted my friend request on Facebook, I found out he’s a chef. Yup, that’s what I call him! For me, he is a chef because he does one thing best–he cooks. He cooks and takes pictures of his masterpieces. For the record, he is my first chef friend (if that’s the right term). Curious that I was, I asked him tons of questions about his love for cooking in a random conversation one afternoon at Krispy Kreme in Cybermall.
Aussie T-Bone Steak with Steamed French Beans, Garlic- Cheese Fries, and Onion Rings; and Grape Fruit Shake by Joseph Mariko Magno (2012): The first photo I liked in his FB album
Mariko started to be curious about cooking at home. He would watch his mother cook meals in their kitchen and he would experiment on some recipes he would find in cook books. As a learner, he experienced them all—he was cut and he was burned. But as he said, “Wala pang cook or chef na hindi pa napaso, nahiwa, at natalsikan ng mantika.” So true!
I was surprised to know that his first course was actually Computer Science. He took this during the time when ComSci was the “most famous” course. Her mother was also afraid that he would experience the same tragic fate that their relative went through when he took up HRM—the course related to cooking. Unfortunately and fortunately, he failed in ComSci and he thought of it as a sign for him to shift to another course. When he finally shifted to HRM, his cooking life became remarkable. A group thesis in baking encouraged him to take pictures of his group’s works.
As he mentioned on the first day we met, he worked in Malaysia for 5 months as his first job. It was in Hard Rock Café in Penang, Malaysia, which exposed him to more kitchen stress. He went back to the Philippines because of homesickness. Poor Mariko, he lived alone in Penang. Of course, he also said that it’s more fun in the Philippines.
He returned to the Philippines and that’s when he started dieting and cooking for his friends. He would cook and plate a dish, take a picture of it, and give it to his friends, helpers, or even to his dogs. That was how extreme his diet was. I remember when we spent lunch time together; he would only have Coke float and cigarettes. All I could say back then was “Great!”
He prefers cooking more than baking. He said that cooking can be manipulated based on his own style. Baking, as he said, is stricter. The standard must be followed or else bread will not be bread.
I actually felt hungry when I first saw Mariko’s food posts in FB and dreamt of having a taste if his masterpieces. Dreams do come true because one morning, he invited our team to a breakfast in his humble abode. Of course, the breakfast was cooked and prepared by him. He served pancakes topped with chocolate syrup and sprinkles; fried cheesedog with tomato garnish; coffee with marshmallows, rice crispies, and nutmeg; and, for course, water with lemon (which he said is a simple way to transform ordinary water to alkaline water).
One morning. One set of beautiful breakfast. One great chef.
On another day, he also brought sausage and pancakes with berries for breakfast which he shared to us in the office. Even though I declined his offer at first because I already had breakfast that morning, he still left some sausage and pancakes out for me. Of course, I ate it when I already felt hungry. He’s just so sweet!
Mariko is that thoughtful. One day, he just bought my favorite Mcdo fries and Mentos Rainbow for me. He said that he likes making people happy the least they expect. Not only did he shared food, he also shared his favorite music. I remember him whenever I hear “Stuttering” by Jessica Sanchez and a certain Korean song performed by Dae Sung of Big Bang.
Simple things, memorable moments…
This post would take forever if I recount all the memorable and random days I had with Mariko. But overall, I can say that he is a person full of talent, full of passion, and full of dreams that are sure to come true. I once told him that I look forward to the day that I would be entering a restaurant where his name is labeled on every dish. Don’t be pressured, dear Mariko. I know that will happen. Amen.
One day, some months after we both rendered our resignation from the company where we first met, I entered McDonald’s Eastwood alone, sat down on a table and opened my book. After a few minutes, my phone rang… It was Mariko. Happy that he called, I smiled. But his news brought a dash of sadness in my heart. He called to invite me in another moment in Krispy Kreme Cybermall because he would already leave for the States. Yeah, I knew that would happen. It was his dream.
For the last time, I sat with Mariko in the same spot where he would check out his crushes, smoke a stick or two, drink his iced tea, and chat with me. In that last moment, he treated me a cup of hot mocha and honey-glazed doughnut. Although it was just a simple get together, like the random ones we had in the short five months of being friends, it was still as memorable.
Today, he’s so far away, but still, he feels near with his memories and his Twitter and FB posts. But, of course, today is like no other because IT IS HIS BIRTHDAY! I’ve said so much in this post as birthday gifts but beyond all these, I pray that he will be blessed more of the sweet life he is enjoying. I love you, friend! Maligayang kaarawan! Enjoy this very special day!