Archive for May, 2009

My First Taste of Durian

I have always been curious about the fruit, the spikes are simply attractive and it always looks fresh compared to the other fruits I see in supermarkets. Why do some people consider it as the king of fruits?  No offense meant for those people who love eating durian but I guess that like balut, it is an acquired taste. Exotic taste, exotic smell – that’s what they say!

Cost of one durian fruit would probably buy you  about two kilos of banana, two or three pieces of sweet Washington apple and about one-fourth kilo of fine, seedless local grapes. That’s how expensive durian is and it is now in season.

Our friendly neighbor gave us a few pulps with the seed on and she told me that I could tolerate the taste later on, it’s the first bite which would probably turn you off. Well, I tried it – I just could not place how it taste really, somewhat creamy and at the same time tangy. Give me durian candies  anytime and I would appreciate it more!


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Four good-looking guys from well-off families. A poor but smart girl who is an easy target for bullies.  She fights back, she could hold her own.  An obedient child, takes family problems seriously, would do everything to make her family happy.

They say that Boys Over Flowers is the latest craze on prime time TV. Everyone is raving about it, everyone is talking about it.  It’s the Korean version of the original Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango.  I haven’t watched the latter much less the anime version of it so there is really no point of comparison.  Taiwan did a similar adaptation of this drama series a few years ago which catapulted the Taiwanese actors and actress into fame.  Remember Shan Cai? Dao Ming Se?  Didn’t they even come over and were featured as guests on Philippine TV?

For two straight days, Nissa and I played couch potato to the hilt.  She was on leave for a few days and she bought a DVD version of the series.  And in between taking care of my hyperactive 5-year old niece, we managed to finish the whole thing.  So relaxing to watch something like this.  It consists of 25 episodes, has good English translation except in the last two where it was obvious from the quality of it that they were just lifted from or just copied perhaps from the TV version.  Even the names of the characters were changed.

Boys Over Flowers is still being shown on ABS CBN.  I initially watched the two episodes last Sunday in a two-hour replay and the voice over is quite good.  But can you resist watching the DVD uninterrupted by several TV ads?

They are known as the F4. Why they were called such (it’s Flowers Four actually) still baffles me.  But never mind, the Korean actors are much too good-looking than the Taiwanese ones.

Meet Koo Hye Sun playing the role of Geum Jan Di, the fearless high school sophomore who was ridiculed, laughed at and bullied. She earned a scholarship in the most prestigious  school in Korea, where students are sons of owners of big conglomerates and grandson of a former president.  She is the hope of her family to make their lives better.  She is a lovable character and a good actress too.  She is the Korean version of Shan Cai.

Lee Min Ho as Goo Joon Pyo is very effective as the heir to the Shinwa Group of companies.  An arrogant, spoiled brat and the leader of F4.  He learned to adopt to the lower bracket of society when he met Jan Di and became her love interest.  With a mother as stiff as a pole, (the typical askance look, raised eyebrows, rigid stand) who would sacrifice her two kids in favor of the Shinwa group.  Joon Pyo could be charming at times, at most, he is full of angst, though in the end, he did become a very responsible individual.

Kim Hyun Joong is Yoon Ji Hoo, a Zua Ze Lei counterpart. He is, oh so good-looking. Of all the characters in this series, I like him the most.  In real life, he is a member of a boy band so it’s not surprising that he could play the violin, piano and could really strum the guitar.  He plays the best friend of Jan Di –  the soul mate, the guy who is always there, the understanding character who has a secret liking for the former but still managed to play the BFF (pardon the term) till the end.

Kim Bum as So Yi Jung and Kim Joon as Song woo Bin complete the four F4 characters. They also became best friends to Jan Di.

How could a Korean telenovela like this click to Filipino TV viewers?  Based on the previous Korean telenovelas that I have watched in the past, there is always that element of a love triangle but unlike the Filipino characters who play antagonist, being vindictive and revengeful, the Korean character plays the best friend, most of the time a shoulder to cry on and somebody who would wipe your tears away if and when you cry.  Are the stories realistic? Not quite, because the lead characters are always being portrayed as too rich, the elitist type who could do no wrong. The love interest is almost always portrayed as long suffering, belongs to the lower class of society and sometimes lead a hand to mouth existence.  The redeeming features of course are the lessons learned, that  triumph and success could only be achieved if the genuine desire to improve one’s lot is there.

Sometimes there are violent scenes which are only suitable for parental guidance but at least, they don’t show indecent exposure of body parts like they do in Mexican telenovelas (which I don’t watch anyway).  One thing I admire about Boys Over Flowers are the lovely scenery depicted in the series.  It was filmed in New Caledonia and in Macau.

All in all, this is something worth your many hours watching the 25 episodes. Be prepared for high drama for there are some scenes that really touch the heart.  It shows how important a family is and clearly emphasizes the importance of true friendship.  The musical score is very good.  I love all the songs and the music is oh so delightful, it fills the senses with wonder.

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If you think this is a review of John Grisham’s book, think again. My daughter Nissa brought this home from Palawan, a piece of bamboo about three feet long, probably filled with small pebbles or sea shells and sealed at both ends, with small holes all over. When it is overturned and the pebbles fall, there is a uniform sound like that of flowing water or a splatter of heavy rain. I was fascinated! It feels like having an inexpensive toy that you can play with. It surely is an ingenious way of making a rain effect. I don’t know if this is considered a musical instrument. They call it a rainmaker.

I have a wind chime made of various sea shells which I put in my garden. It was  a gift from one of Nissa’s friends. It also came from Palawan. When the wind blows, the shells create a sound like someone frying on a hot griddle. And this instrument reminds me so much of a cowrie sea shell that I used to play with when I was a child. Don’t you just love the sound of the sea when you place it close to your ear?

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Life in Our Neighborhood

Directly behind our house is a stretch of concrete road which is an undeveloped part of our subdivision. The people here in our place call it “the little runway”. Every morning,as early as five o’clock, you could see them dressed in sports attire either jogging or brisk walking or just simply taking a leisurely, unhurried walk. Sometimes, they come in groups, at other times, there are young children tagging along with their parents. It is a beautiful  sight to see. Last summer, the kids flew kites here, a sort of contest on whose kite will outlast the others.

I used to do my ten laps  a year ago, lately though, my early mornings are consumed tending  my small patch of garden. The funny thing is, the people here have now their own community of joggers.It’s kind of exhilarating to  take a walk early in the morning . I used to bring along my MP3 player or just turn on the radio of my cellphone  whenever I get the chance to join  them.

Life in our neighborhood has still that rustic touch, though it is in the middle of  the urban area. You can hear the sounds of tricycles at any time of the day.You can still enjoy exchanging hellos with your neighbor while doing your morning chores of watering the plants. Ortigas Center is just a mere twenty minutes away from our place.

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IMGP2308IMGP2330The Arch of Centuries
Fountain of Wisdom as seen from the top
The  Football Field
It was founded on April 28, 1611 by Fr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P. The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the Catholic University of the Philippines. Simply known as UST but for us alumni and students alike, we fondly and affectionately call it Uste. 

UST is a private Roman Catholic University run by the Order of Preachers in Manila. It is the only Pontifical University in Asia. It is the only university (Catholic or not) to have been visited by two popes three times, twice by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995 and once by Pope Paul VI in 1970 (I was in second year high school then).

It was built in a 215,000 sq. meter campus in Sampaloc, Manila. The university was originally located within the walled city of Intramuros, Manila.

UST Main Building
Miguel de Benavidez Monument

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Another day bonding with the family. Being awake at 6 am is a little late for me. Hubby and I watched DVD last night so I missed seeing the break of dawn and the early visitors in the garden. Waking up as early as 5am gives you that privilege of hearing the twits and chirps of the maya birds as they hop to and from the branches of our avocado tree, it’s a sound echoing the promise of another lovely and great day. I wonder why as soon as the sun rises, they are out of sight, only to come back the following morning. The only time I don’t see them is when it is raining.

Listening and watching Fr. Joey Faller celebrating Sunday mass on TV is another great start. You can say, it’s a force of habit, it has been my regular Sunday routine, aside of course from the regular 9am mass which we attend at the nearby church.

This is the 6th Sunday of Easter. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love. You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. “(John 15:9-10).

Yes, Love is the word of the day- that much overused and abused word given meaning in a way people want it to mean. It’s love that makes poets in all of us and it’s love that makes us swoon and sing, it’s love that makes the world go round. And because love means a lot to different people, it gives several colors to our own existence, a kaleidoscope akin to a rainbow. And when things go wrong, love comes flying out of the window. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people who are so cynical in their views about love. We can’t really choose people who comes to our lives but we can always choose those we want to stay because we know they are worth-keeping.

Fr. Alexis summarized his homily with these: that there are three kinds of fruits we reap from the gospel today, the fruits of peace, joy and presence. I was laughing out loud when he ended his homily with this story. A boy and a girl promised to love each other till the end. The boy wanted to go abroad so he could save and give a good life to his future bride. He promised to write everyday. The girl was so happy receiving letters from the boy and almost everyday too, the postman never fails to deliver the boy’s letters. After a while, the big wedding came, the girl was so happy when she married her postman. Haha, poor, poor boy, the story reminds me of the saying that goes,”ako ang nagtanim, nagbayo at nagsaing, subalit nung maluto, iba ang kumain”. And I thought, it’s good there’s the e-mail nowadays.

We passed by Ever Ortigas Mall before we went home, bought a few groceries and did a little window shopping. I told my daughter it was time to visit our friendly Booksale lady at the second floor. So we did, and I asked her if there were new titles in store. We were in a quandary on what to buy. We saw Jeffrey Archer’s The Eleventh Commandment, James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls ( I read from a blog at WordPress that he is the highest paid author nowadays), Nelson de Mille’s Wild Fire and a chicklit entitled Almost Perfect by Julie Ortolon. Oh yes, I saw a copy of Angels and Demons, another much-publicized book by Dan Brown but I was not inclined to read another book of his. One was enough to make me believe that he is not really that good an author. Nissa bought a copy of Da Vinci Code when it was spreading like wildfire among book lovers. What was all the hype, anyway? And do you know, Da Vinci Code was eaten by termites about a year ago along with some unknown volumes we had in our shelf? Perhaps, that was meant to be. You can’t really leave a bookstore without buying anything, right? That is almost sacrilegious to bookworms like my daughter and me, so we brought home Nelson de Mille and Julie Ortolon’s books.

By the way, I watched the initial airing of Boys Over Flowers. Wiki says that it s a 25 episode south Korean television drama adaptation from the Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango and the Taiwanese equivalent of Meteor Garden. I like the character of Ji Hoo, a calm, soft-spoken boy who plays the violin, piano and guitar. A boy after my own heart. Catch it on ABS CBN’s Channel 2. Shameless plugging!

You can read the synopsis of the story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boys_Over_Flowers_(TV_series) Tags: and more books, ramblings

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It is still a lost cause for me finding even just one book by Thomas Merton. My friend Grace suggested that I go to the UST Library but I told her that I want to have a copy of my own. His most famous works like The Seven Storey Mountain, No Man is an Island, Thoughts in Solitude and some of his famous selected poems are still in my Wish list until now.I was arranging some of my old collections of quotations and my college journal when I found this inserted in one of my notebooks, writings of Thomas Merton which I have typed some thirty years ago. I cannot remember now which one of his works I got this from but I want to share it with you.

Thomas Merton is a Trappist monk and is one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century.

SINCERITY (Thomas Merton)

We make ourselves real by telling the truth. We cannot know truth unless we ourselves are conformed to it. We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know that which is outside us. But we make ourselves true inside by manifesting the truth as we see it.

Sincerity in the fullest sense must be more than a temperamental disposition to be frank. It is simplicity of spirit which is preserved by the will to be true. Sincerity in the fullest sense is a divine gift, a clarity of spirit which comes only with grace. the sincere man therefore, is one who has the grace to know that he may be instinctively insincere, and that even his natural sincerity may become a camouflage for irresponsibility and moral cowardice; as if it were enough to recognize the truth, and do nothing about it.

Your idea of me is fabricated with materials you have borrowed from other people and from yourself. What you think of me depends on what you think of yourself. Perhaps you create your idea of me out of material that you would like to eliminate from your own idea of yourself. Perhaps your idea of me is a reflection of what other people think of you. Or perhaps what you think of me is simply what you think I think of you.

It takes more courage than we imagine to be perfectly simple with other men. Our frankness is often spoiled by a hidden barbarity, born of fear.

In the end, the problem of sincerity is a problem of love. A sincere man is not so much one who sees the truth and manifests it as he sees it, but one who loves the truth with a pure love. But truth is more than an abstraction. It lives and is embodied in men and things that are real. And the secret of sincerity is, therefore not to be sought in a philosophical love for abstract truth but in a love for real people and real things – a love for God apprehended in the reality around us.

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They have spoken and their voices were heard. The Americans have delivered and set a historical record of choosing their 44th president. If only we could emulate what they did, going out of their comfort zones to choose a man who they think is more capable of running the government with all its present problems and its economic turmoil. I admire their guts in choosing someone regardless of color of his skin. Democracy is clearly in place and the freedom to exercise their right to choose was in evidence.

How I wish there would come a time in our own Philippine politics where a loser graciously accepts defeat and the winner humbly acknowledges his triumph. I dream of the time when they would just shake hands and go along the same road together instead of back fighting, tongue lashing and hurling vindictive at each other. Or didn’t you know, there are two mindsets gravely embedded in us Filipinos – if you win, you are nandaya and if you lose, you are nadaya.

In the end, it’s the Filipino voters who are losers. Will we ever win?
(I posted this blog in my other sites when Barack Obama took his oath as the 44th President of America)

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I found this gem of a book while my daughter and I were ‘spring cleaning”. We no longer have enough space for books so we sorted some reading materials which we could donate to some school children who until now don’t have access to the internet. There is a whole set of Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia (1997) edition which I want to give to the barangay school in our place. It might be a little bit outdated but they could still use it as reference. There is no internet connection in the barangay school there, much less a computer where they could do some research. M daughter segregated some of her books and wants to donate them as well.

While we were sorting the pile, I finally found this book entitled Promises to Myself, a slim volume published by Blue Mountain Arts. It’s a collection of inspirational thoughts and daily promises that leads one to the life he or she always dreams of. I want to share some quotes with you, and I hope you will also find inspiration in reading them. This book has given me pleasure throughout the years.

Look on the Bright Side

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or I can be thankful that the grass is
getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don’t have more money or I can be glad that my finances
encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.

Today I can grumble about my health or I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn’t give me when I was growing up
or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today, I can mourn my lack of friends or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to
discover new relationships.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work or I can shout because I have a job
to go to!

Today I can complain because I have to go to school or I can eagerly open my mind
and fill it with knowledge and adventure.

Today I can dejectedly murmur because I have housework to do or I can
feel grateful for shelter for my mind, body and soul.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped, and here I am, the sculptor who
gets to do the shaping. what today will be like is up to me and I shall
decide what kind of day I shall have.

– author unknown-

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived
are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.

-Henry Drummond-

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I never heard of Sharon Hinck until Renovating Becky Miller. At first I had some reservations if I’ll read it among a stash of around a hundred books which have been accumulating in our shelf – left unread.

It’s a story of Becky, Kevin, her husband and their three young kids named Dylan, age nine, Kelsey, five and the youngest Micah, who is two and a half years old. Becky is your typical young mom – smart, tender, and deliciously witty, at times doing everything to keep the household running in a perfect rhythm – only she realizes that she’s just human. She is a daydreamer too and she’s been envisioning herself in the happy endings she sees during her weekly movie nights with Kevin.

When they decide to sell their family home to purchase a rundown farmhouse, Becky pictures herself in a slower, simpler lifestyle in the countryside only to discover that it doesn’t really work out that way, her real life feels more like a broken filmstrip, spinning out of control.

Hinck is a good storyteller, the book comes alive with every page that have you laughing and crying at times with Becky. It makes you remember your own experiences as a young mom, that feeling of “been there, done that” and “I can oh-so-relate to that life” thing.

And Becky Miller’s Guide to Home Repair? Here goes,as summarized in the book cover:

“- Budget the gross national product of a small country then double it
– Never, ever invite your mother-in-law to stay with you during a remodel
– Figure out how to heat the living room before inviting your Bible study group
– Stock up on Tylenol, chocolate and sandbags
– Hire a professional to fix the plumbing
– Sometimes, renovation is an inside job”

This book is definitely a good read, it will make you ask, “What will happen next?”.

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