Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My First Nuffnang Contest: Hapontukin!

Here's an email that recently arrived in my inbox, courtesy of the awesome folks at Nuffnang Philippines:
Have you experienced hapontukin?  It’s a condition where you don't have enough energy to last you through the day. Kaya you're always antok sa hapon!
For those of you who don't speak Taglish, "antok sa hapon" means "sleepy in the afternoon." So, in other words, we're looking at what's globally known as the afternoon slump.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve had your hapontukin moments, yes?  Then tell us about it!  How do you cope when hapontukin sets in?   Show us!
Hapontukin, you say? Well, you're talking to a veteran of the hapontukin wars, here.

In my twenties, I used to work as an assistant at a predominantly male tech firm, where the hapontukin weapon of choice involved violent video games on an LCD flat-screen in the conference room. Since I didn't do the whole video-game thing back in the day, I ended up fighting the good fight with a combination of sweet and salty snacks, accompanied by the caffeinated drink of choice.

I left that job when I went to graduate school, but the same story continued even after my post-Masters career. Long story short: Didn't work.

Over the years, however, I stumbled upon a few things that did work for me. Now, when hapontukin sets in, I employ a variety of strategies that share a common theme: Stimulating the mind through the senses.

- Sight: Instead of lazy-reading my way through magazines and Internet forums, I switch gears and search through more colorful forms of visual stimulation. For example, I tend to look washed out by mid-day, so it's always important for me to freshen up with pressed powder and an extra layer of lipstick in the afternoon as a quick fix. Another tip: When I used to work one-on-one (and in person) with students for English-language tutorials, I made sure to bring my iPod Touch along and play a few short videos to enrich our understanding of the lesson; the videos could be anything from movie trailers that demonstrate American idioms and accents, to travel documentaries about the Philippines. (Let's just say that a lot of these students now know more about roasted pig and the production of 166-proof lambanog than they've ever hoped for.)

- Smell: Now that I live in the Philippines, the crazy humidity here has proven to be a blessing in disguise in terms of the kinds of fragrances I can wear. Spritzing a lightweight cologne immediately makes me feel fresh and clean - and since my usual cologne leans more on the citrusy side, the scent gives me an extra boost in mental stimulation. Even the simplest one-note eau de toilette gets to bloom in the island heat, which tends to bring out complexities that I'd be more likely to miss in an air-conditioned cubicle or department store.

- Sound: Give me my iPod - or a radio, or a computer with an extensive MP3 library - and I'll be more than likely to find something that will wake me up in no time. And it doesn't have to be anything loud and fast, either; even baduy songs that get played on the radio are enough to make me get up and go... to change the station, fast.

(Ironically, I tend to sleep through text messages... but that's because I'd rather answer my phone if I know that I'm expecting an important call.)

- Touch: Nothing signals the onset of hapontukin for me than mindlessly picking on my hangnails. That's what makes moisturizer an absolute must: to put it simply, no dry skin means no urge to scratch and be distracted. Similarly, if my hair gets that icky, grungy coating by mid-afternoon, all I'll need to do is comb it, and it'll be manageable for a few more hours before I get home.

- Taste: As I've mentioned earlier, I'm still searching for the elusive mix of salty-sweetness to give me that necessary afternoon jolt. The only difference now is that I don't have to rely on junk food for my afternoon snack fix, since I'm always experimenting with unusual flavors and ingredients. A friend of mine, for example, introduced me to the combination of Chips Ahoy and dried apricots - two things that don't always appeal to me separately - and yet, they just work so well together in terms of texture and taste. Fruit and cheese combos work on the same principle, too: I've been known to combine cheddar cheese with guava jam or mango chutney in the same sandwich, as well as cream cheese with dried berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It's definitely a case of "don't knock it until you've tried it," and there's no law stopping anyone from pursuing such acquired tastes... so, why not?

DISCLAIMER: This is my official entry to the "Hapontukin" contest co-sponsored by Nuffnang Philippines and Enervon Multivitamins. More information about Hapontukin and Enervon can be found here.

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