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Archive for December, 2011


THANK YOU   WordPress for the 2011 Post A Day Challenge!   Thank you dear readers for visiting my blog. A blessed and happy 2012 to all!

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We’re big on traditions especially the things we follow to make life more colorful. Some are handed down from generation to generation and we follow them year after year.  Just like preparing for Noche Buena for Christmas, meeting the new year won’t be the same without food. Food is one thing that binds families together, either sharing a simple meal or elaborate dishes/recipes that need hours laboring in front of a hot stove to complete Media Noche. Media Noche  simply means midnight in Spanish but it has certainly acquired a different meaning on how we celebrate it.

Attending an evening mass  prior to New Year’s Eve is a must for Catholic Filipinos and arranging food on the table before the strike of 12 midnight is another tradition that we observe.  We partake of the food after shouting and jumping  with joy greeting the new year. Never mind the noise outside, we don’t buy firecrackers anyway (don’t want to waste  money on toxic materials that could even trigger accidents if you’re not careful), having the stereo in full volume or watching the countdown on TV is enough.  One such traditional thing that I learned from Mom is to complete an array of thirteen round fruits on the table. Some say, twelve is enough to represent prosperity for the next twelve months but we always make it thirteen. And last year, I also lit prosperity candles.

We went marketing this morning, a little early at 5am but when we reached Cainta market, we had a hard time finding  a parking space since the slots normally allotted for cars were occupied by lots of stalls and vendors, you guess it, selling round fruits of different kinds.  If you have enough money, you could buy almost anything.  Wow, and the price –  it’s more than double the amount you have to pay on regular days. One Kiwi fruit was selling at P25, a medium-sized watermelon cost almost P100.  You have to spend almost a thousand pesos just to complete the thirteen required fruits, if you are on a budget, you can buy one each but how can you do that with the seasonal grapes or longan when they are selling them by the kilo?

Not to be left behind are the sticky sweets you have to order or prepare since having them around on New Year’s Eve assures the family of sticking together through thick and thin. It’s tradition! Bibingka, a glutinous rice cake topped with sweetened coconut cream (latik)  is also a must on the table. Here in our place, it’s so easy to buy any kind of native “kakanins” (sweets) as long as you wake up early so you won’t line up for hours. Cainta is known as the Bibingka Capital of the Philippines. One such known establishment where people from all places in Metro Manila troop to is Aling Kika’s. There you will find all sorts of sweets. Aside from bibingka, they also sell coco jam, leche flan, cassava cake, maja blanca, maja mais, sapin-sapin, you name it, they all have them there. So if ever you happen to pass by Cainta, Rizal, drop by Aling Kika’s.

I digress. Aside from the kakanins,  most noticeable on the table are pancit bihon or pancit canton, fruit salad or buko salad, cake (obviously my favorite is ube), lumpiang shanghai, embutido, and siomai. I made a kilo of siomai this morning and prepared lumpiang shanghai, ready for frying.

I am planning to make Buko Pandan for a change, instead of the usual fruit salad which we always have every year. I also bought marble potatoes which I am planning to bake to go with the lumpiang shanghai and siomai. Hubby brought home a native chicken from the province and we are thinking of having tinola with green papaya and dahong sili.

I don’t exactly know how this came about but one more thing that  I learned from mom is to scatter coins from the door going inside the house at exactly 12am of New Year’s day. I do place coins on every window ledge and open my wallet and coin purse on top of the bed to attract good luck and prosperity. It’s another tradition that I do, after all there is really no harm done by following it, right? It’s just part of the celebration of  the New Year.  And we do hang grapes near the door. The funny thing is, we often neglect to remove it until after a week  and it becomes like raisins :)

Time and again the Department of Health shows pictures of people, mostly children and teenagers who are victims of firecracker accidents and yet, when New year comes, everywhere is a cloud of thick smoke and believe me, there are victims who lose their fingers and limbs because of it.  It’s so scary because some of those firecrackers they sell are deadly.  They never learn because they say, it’s tradition. But it’s the one thing that I tell hubby and my kids not to do, buying those things which have toxic chemical contents and  harmful to one’s health.

And since nobody drinks in the house, except occasional beer and red and white wine, we only use shut glasses to toast the new year.  Here’s to a HAPPY, HAPPY 2012.  Happy New year to all.

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And here I thought Michael Crichton was the best when it comes to science-based thrillers. And Robin Cook comes next for those heart-stopping medical thrillers.  I heard of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child from some friends at Shelfari where I have my virtual library but it didn’t make me curious to find any of their books until I found a copy of The Cabinet of Curiosities in one of my forays at Booksale. I was hooked.  I have just finished reading it an hour ago, after  starting the first chapter last night till my eyes  hurt  and I felt so sleepy. It’s a page-turner and I can’t put it down. Reading about 19th century New York was a sure come-on.

In the 19th century, New Yorkers flocked to collections of strange and grotesque oddities called “cabinets of curiosities.” Now, in lower Manhattan, a modern apartment tower is slated to rise on the site of one of the old cabinets. Yet when the excavators break into a basement, they uncover a charnel pit of horror: the remains of thirty-six people murdered and gruesomely dismembered over 130 years ago by an unknown serial killer.

In the aftermath, FBI Special Agent Pendergast and museum archaeologist Nora Kelly embark on an investigation that unearths the faint whisper of a mysterious doctor who once roamed the city, carrying out medical experiments on living human beings. But just as Nora and Pendergast begin to unravel the clues to the century-old killings, a fresh spree of murder and surgical mutilation erupts around them. . . and New York City is awash in terror.

Don’t ask me why I love reading science fiction and medical thrillers. I learned a lot from Robin Cook , a doctor in real life who writes about medical malpractices encountered by some patients while under treatment. I didn’t eat hamburger for about a year I guess when I read his book Toxin, fascinated with how Ebola virus came through in his book Outbreak which was also made into a film. I understood  more about cancer marker testing in his more recent book entitled Marker. I was so amazed with his books that I started collecting all of his published works three years ago, some of them, most of them I lost during typhoon Ondoy. I have about ten books left which I plan to re-read one of these days.

Michael Crichton was one of the best of course. I read Andromeda Strain when I was in college  followed by The Terminal Man. And who could forget Sphere, Congo and the movie he directed Coma which was based on the novel by Robin Cook?

Charles W. Eliot couldn’t have said it better and I quote: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” How true!

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I sincerely wish you all  A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY 2012! And I like to share this Christmas Prayer written by Fra Giovanni 1n 1513. Since I’ve read it in one of the articles of Fr. Joseph Galdon, a Jesuit priest who was  the author of the book Jubilee, I have always been moved by the simple message of hope for every one of us.  My book is gone  and Fr. Galdon died last year but the essence  of this lovely prayer remains. It is not just for Christmas but a timeless message  that today seems more relevant than ever.

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER

I am your friend and my love for you goes very deep.  There is nothing really that I can give you this Christmas that you do not already have.  But there is much, very much that you can discover for yourself this Christmas, even if I am not the one to give it to you.  So I pray that you will find peace, which is in the hidden places around us today. The gloom of our world is really only a shadow.  Beyond that gloom, yet still within our reach, is happiness. I pray that you will discover happiness in your heart this year.  There is light and glory in the darkness around us, if we only could see it.  To see the light in the darkness we only have to look. I pray that you will look for the light this Christmas.  Life is actually a very generous giver, but because we judge the gifts by their covering, we cast them away as ugly, or heavy, or hard.  Remove the covering from the gifts of life and you will find beneath it a living splendor that is woven of love.  Life is full of meaning and purpose. It is full of beauty beneath the covering. I pray that this Christmas you will discover that earth is only a cloak for heaven.  This Christmas, I send you greetings. They are not exactly the kind of greetings that the world sends.  But I send them to you with great love and with a prayer that, for you and for all those you love, this Christmas and forever, the dawn will break and the shadows of night will flee away.

May your 2012 be a year of pleasant journeys, a year of peace and  a time to discover new beginnings, a time to realize new dreams. HAPPY, HAPPY 2012.

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This year may not be as hectic as the previous year for me but there were big events that made it a good year – our year.  There were no road trips to speak of either. January started with a bang, with the quadricentennial celebration of my alma mater, University of Santo Tomas, visiting Lovell at the seminary and seeing old friends, colleagues from the UST Main Library where I used to  work during my college days.

Sometimes, a trip to UST would not be complete without dropping by Sto. Domingo Convent to have a little sharing with Lovell.  It’s something to look forward to when his schedule permits.

College life made a difference because of friends who have become close over the years  and I have adopted them as my older sisters.

Sr. Thea, FMM is a Franciscan nun based in Mindoro and Grace is now a permanent resident in Canada. We make it a point to see each other every year if time permits. Growing up with them, sharing heartaches during our college days made us soul sisters.

At Sweet Inspiration, our favorite hangout every time we see each other. Except for Grace (in yellow striped t-shirt), the three of us, Sr. Thea, Precy and I are cancer survivors. Precy says, even in friendship, we battled the same ailment.

January 29 found me attending another high school reunion (our fourth one, actually). This time though, it was just a casual affair at the  house of one of our batchmates in Quezon City.

Two of our classmates came home last February so we had another get-together at Shakey’s Espana then paid a visit to UST for some photo-op. It was fun reminiscing the good old days. It brings back memories.

Every time I visit this place, I could not leave it without taking a shot or two of the UST Main Bldg. This was  where some of the programs were held  the previous month, hence the stage in front of it.

At Shakey’s Espana, having fun with lots of pizza, pasta and fried chicken.  I had this crazy idea of taking shots of our arms wearing the bracelets which one of our classmates made for us and it came out good.

April was a busy month. For several years now, we’ve visited several churches at our annual Visita Iglesia, this time though we confined ourselves to seven churches in San Juan city and Quezon City. We also met Fr. Louie Coronel, OP , my co-admin at Apostles Filipino Catholic Community and he toured us at Bahay Dominiko at Sto. Domingo Convent in Quezon City. Earlier on, we also discovered a bird’s nest in our garden, for a while there we thought we could watch the hatchlings grow into little yellow-vented Bulbul but they died after a few days. I also met an online friend from Cebu. It was another lovely meeting with her grand kids in tow.

Hubby, Nissa and I visited Pan de Amerikana last July since Nissa was eyeing it for their pre-nuptial shoot. It was a trip down memory lane with all those old-old frames and paraphernalia that adorns the place.  Nissa was so happy to receive their Papal Blessing from Rome. And for the first time, Fr. Louie and I were able to plan our first AFCC gathering at Bahay Dominiko in Sto. Domingo Church. Meeting some of the members of our  Catholic community was such a joy and a blessing. It was definitely a day worth-remembering. And we couldn’t get enough so we planned another one last August 27 at the same place. There were new members from as far as Nueva Vizcaya and Pangasinan who attended.

I can’t forget my birthday last October since Nissa’s gift, The Best Of  Me, a book by Nicholas Sparks paved the way for  me to meet Nicholas in person at the momentous  book signing at The Podium.  That was the first time I ever attended a book signing and just like the rest of the crowd, I shouted and laughed with them. Got a big smile on my face when I saw him face to face. The highlight of the year of course was my daughter’s wedding last November 13 at the Paco Park Chapel followed by a lovely reception at Ibarra’s Garden in Malate, Manila.  We called it Purple Day. Except for the two solo pictures of Nissa that I included here, these are not the official photos of the wedding, they were  just culled from friends’ tags at Facebook.  They still have to choose the photos which will be included in their wedding album.

The year was capped by Lovell’s Diaconate Ordination last November 30 at Sto. Domingo Church. Looking back, it was  definitely a year full of blessings – meeting friends, sharing with the family,  having another son in the family,  having my adopted son ordained as a deacon, what more can one ask?

Thank You Lord!

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I just want to acknowledge  Certainly Not Lost Down Under  for this nomination. Wow, a second nomination in a span of a month. Thank you very, very much.

 

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I really hope it was a blessed, peaceful and a happy celebration for you and your family. It was a quiet celebration for us, attending the Christmas Eve mass at our village chapel and the Christmas Day mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish where I received a personal blessing from one of my favorite priests, Fr. Matthew Fernandez of the Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross.

For the first time in so many years, we got to celebrate Noche Buena quietly and I mean, no fanfare not much food on the table except for hot drinks  and fried chicken which I laboriously cooked on a charcoal stove after attending the Holy Mass at 7:30pm, an almost two-hour celebration presided by our Parish priest.  For the first time too, our LPG lasted for seven weeks when we changed our gas dealer last month. Unluckily though, it conked out on me when I was about to cook for Noche Buena last Christmas Eve. Of all things that has to happen, it has to be that!  I had previously cooked Embutido and Callos but they were frozen on the ref and reheating them  on the microwave was such a waste of time. My son suggested that we just listen to Christmas carols while waiting for 12 midnight. It’s our usual tradition over the years to attend the Christmas Eve mass together,  prepare Noche Buena meals then open our gifts afterward. It has always been a happy occasion but Nissa was not around to share the fun with us. They only came for Christmas dinner yesterday afternoon so we opened our gifts late and just enjoyed the quiet evening.  It was a completely different scene and  it was so peaceful and quiet.

Christmas morning found us attending the 9am mass then a marathon cooking for lunch and dinner.  Although it was fun giving Mom, son and hubby their own tasks to do, it was a bit tiring for me.  I told hubby  that I’ve done this for 29 years now, doing the cooking all year round. Can someone volunteer for a change and do their thing in the kitchen? :) :) :) Anyway, Christmas won’t be what it is for us without laboring on the stove. We don’t go out much during Christmas day because sometimes, we  have visitors at home, relatives and friends who come to visit. There were times though in the past when we had Christmas lunch outside then later watched a movie. Usually, during Christmas day, all movies are in Tagalog because of the film festival.  I want to watch Segunda Mano but Mom says she does not want to watch horror movies. Gosh, I miss watching Tagalog movies, it’s been years since I did.  And I love horror movies.  Oh well, I wish Nissa is around to accompany me. I miss the girl-bonding.

I was reading the Pope’s Christmas Eve homily and I quote: Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light.

It’s so true, sometimes we forget why we are celebrating and whom we are celebrating for.

 

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