Archive for May, 2019

The Gardener (Mary Oliver)

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.

I just love these words from Mary Oliver. She is one of my favorite poets. Yesterday, I  harvested almost a kilo of kalamansi (Philippine lime). There were plenty more but I was afraid to use the ladder to pick them.


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As I am presently reading Ruth Reichl’s gourmet memoir Save Me the Plums, I remember those days when Nissa and three of her close friends went on a five-day trip to Thailand to learn first hand how to cook Thai food. One of them is a famous chef now, well-known on television and some five-star hotels in the metropolis.  There were times during their student days when they would shop for ingredients and spend the night over cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

One of Reichl’s features in her book was when she went to Thailand to study and learn Thai food.  Once in a while, the kids and I go to a Pad Thai restaurant to re-acquaint ourselves  with the taste and texture of Thai food. The first time I tried a glass of tamarind juice, I was sold.

I am reposting a previous blog post here back in June 2010. You may enlarge the pictures. They are high-resolution shots.

Discovering Thailand Cuisine Through My Daughter’s Eyes

I was plain excited when my daughter came home from a five-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand.  She was in the company of some friends and she was so enthusiastic in sharing her experience touring the place and absorbing  the culture.  Five days would not be  enough to see all there is to see  about the place but they went there for the food tour, they enrolled in a Thai cooking school to learn authentic Thai recipes.  More than  anything , I was elated when she brought home several ingredients for Thai cooking.

Two months ago, I bought a cookbook on Thai Cuisine and both of us planned of trying some of the recipes there.  Thai cuisine has a lot of similarities to some Filipino food so it is not so hard to find

fresh ingredients in the wet market.  I just told her to source for dry ingredients  which are difficult to buy here. And she came home with several packets of Coriander seeds, dried Kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, chilli powder, whole white pepper, instant Phad-kapraow paste and hot and sour curry paste, good enough for several experiments in the kitchen.

The richness of Thai cooking is more pronounced through its skillful use of wealthy colors, tastes, textures and smell wonderfully incorporated in every recipe that they use.  Many people think that Thai cooking is a complex process since they use a lot of ingredients and spices.   It is said that  “much of the heat of the  spicy dishes comes from red and green peppers” which we commonly know as chillies. The Thai call it Phrik. Thai food comes in varied forms like soups, fresh vegetable salads, dips, grilled meat, fish or chicken but the most popular   is the use of curry paste.  I’ve been accustomed to using the yellow curry powder so I was surprised that there is a red one too.

Here’s one recipe which is the whole family’s favorite when we eat at a Thai restaurant.  It’s called Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaves.


Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaves (Kai Hor Bai Toey)

You would need:

2 cups of boneless chicken meat

10 pandanus leaves (Pandan  in Tagalog)

Oil for deep frying

Pound Marinade together into a paste:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp. oyster sauce

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sesame oil

1-2 tsp. pepper corn

3 garlic cloves

2 coriander roots

And the ingredients for the sauce:

1 tsp. white sesame seeds

1/2 cup ( 250 ml.) distilled white vinegar

1 cup (100 grams) sugar

1 tbsp. black soy sauce

1 tsp. salt

Cut chicken meat into bite-sized pieces.  Mix the marinade with the chicken.  Set aside in the refrigerator for three hours. To prepare the sauce, cook the same seeds in a skillet for 2 minutes without oil or until lightly browned. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix white vinegar, sugar, black soy sauce and salt.  Add the sesame seeds and set aside.

Wrap two or three pieces of chicken in each pandanus leaf to form a knot.  Alternatively, wrap each pandanus leaf around the chicken to form a bundle and secure with a toothpick.

Heat oil in a wok or small frying pan.  Deep fry until fragrant.  (about 5 minutes).  Serve with sauce and steamed rice.

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It is cloudy but it is not raining. PAGASA says that the official rainy season will start in two weeks. I love the rain but I hate the flood. I think we are the most- prone country when it comes to typhoons. We get an average of 18-20 weather disturbances a year.

My gosh, every day I wake up earlier than usual. This morning I was awake at 2:30 am. Couldn’t sleep because of my throbbing knee. The pain is tolerable  but I can’t find the most comfortable way to sleep. It feels better when I sit or walk.  Imagine, loading the washing machine at 3 am. Done at 6 am. Such is the daily and weekly routine of a senior citizen like me.

I had time to read though. Done a reread on one of Danielle Steel’s books entitled Remembrance. I read it seven years ago but I could no longer  remember the story. Aren’t I lucky? Found another book, my second one of Ruth Reichl, another gourmet memoir entitled Save Me The Plums. I  am excited to start it soon. I am still looking for her other books. They were highly recommended by a friend.

I am still in the middle of Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. The prints are so fine that sometimes I could not read them for long. But this kind of memoir really needs a longer time to digest  and peruse. There are still so many new books I haven’t read. Time is of the essence.

I have a  lone Adenium in a large pot. Lately I noticed two pods growing at the tips of the plant. I didn’t know this is where the seeds are. You just have to wait for the pods to mature. What a blessing.

Adenium seed pod


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They laugh –

And their laughter

breaks into tiny fragments

touching the deepest end.

They smile –

but those smiles seem like a sham

that don’t even reach their eyes.

The world is full of farcical smiles,

Never a word rings true.

Lame excuses

They make us believe

Everything is true.

But the truth is hidden

behind those smiles.

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Just saw this from the “memories”  app at Facebook. Back when Multiply was still alive, I had a little more than a hundred friends, both online and personal ones. I got to see some of them eventually. Multiply has disbanded sometime in 2012 I think but the memories remain.

What Are Friends For?

One of those close friends at Multiply then was Bella a retired teacher who taught in Thailand.  She  was sickly but I admired her wit and how she viewed life. She viewed herself as a fashionista here and depicted me as a gardener which I loved.  She was always the first one who would decorate her house as early as October with those Christmas trimmings and tinsels. Every year, the colorful themes and decorations made us uttered “ohhs”  and “ahhs”. She made the celebration of Christmas so beautiful.

There are friends and there are friends but a few of them touch you  and they’ll remain in your heart forever. Bella is one of them.

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Monday, here we go.

I was indisposed the whole day yesterday because of my knee. I have to force myself to attend mass online because I could not yet walk well. Good thing my right knee is finally getting better.

Yesterday, social media was full of news and videos on the graduation ceremonies of the Phil. Military Academy Mabalasik Class 2019. VP Leni was there early. The program was supposed to start at 9:00 am but they have to wait for the president who arrived late for almost two hours. He could barely walk,  he was like someone who drank too much and can’t control himself. From all angles, he surely is sick. Even his face is bloated.

Do you need to prove anything even if you are not well to do the job? We’re waiting he would just say, “I’m tired, I am passing the reign to the legit  VP, VP  Robredo”.  Imagine being in front of a graduating class of the prestigious PMA and you show to the world that you can’t even distribute their diplomas because you feel sleepy? What would those future defenders of the land think? Despite his frailty looking self, he managed to deliver those rape jokes which he was so good at. What a shame! And when the graduating class laughs, what kind of values and principles are we teaching them?  The new graduates laugh to please and don’t seem to know what is right. That should not be their reaction. Asan ang integridad? Asan ang values na natutunan nila for four years at the august halls of the academy?

Congratulations Ma’am VP Leni. The Office of the  Vice-President  gets the highest rating from the Commission on Audit on the performance of the institution despite the setbacks and lessened budget for 2018. Here’s your government official whose track record is worthy of emulation. And for the third term, our very own Mayor  Atty. Kit Nieto won here in our place. Thank you sir for not leaving Cainta.

Josef cleaned our roof gutter of debris yesterday. Then he gave me two ripe guavas which he got from one of the branches of our guava tree. Yum! Waiting for the others to ripen.


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Another cut in the budget. Two leaking faucets replaced, two more with additional Teflon. At least now, we won’t have to worry about the “drip, drip, drip” sound at night. Fee for specialized job like this is more expensive than an ordinary carpenter’s job. Good thing we have a neighbor who is a plumber but does not usually tell his  PF so we have to add more than the usual charge a plumber does. We are grateful though that the job is done right.

I hurt my aching right knee running after Oreo when Josef left to meet the village’s garbage truck and dispose of our garbage. I was afraid he’ll go out of the open front gate and might be run over by passing cars.  He was quite behaved when he reached the garage playing with Noki. My right knee does not feel normal yet. It still aches once in a while but all of a sudden, I could feel the pain.  Gosh, what a disaster.

This morning, we started trimming the carabao grass which has grown faster the past days of having afternoon and evening rains. We are more than half-way finally. You can’t just trim them with an electric grass cutter, what with the concrete stepping stones all the way. There is really no other option but to do manual trimming.

Pres. Duterte’s almost two week’s absence  is fuelling speculation. You can’t just absent yourself from such an important position that long without so much as  a by your leave, right? If he is sick, the people of the Philippines has a right to know.

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This is quite a domestic topic but I just remembered to blog about it.

I often hear and read about this, vinegar use as rinse in your wash but I only tried doing it about a month ago when a friend told me that I can use it safely. We don’t have  a dryer here. Most washing machines have spin dry tub attached to it. Since this is a tropical country, we make use of the sunny days to dry our clothes.  Clothes line with your wash gently swinging in the breeze is still I think the best way to get your clothes dry and feeling fresh. Vinegar removes that mildew smell in your towels  and clothes.

I seldom use fabric fresheners nowadays. Taking advantage of the sunny weather.  It is a blessing that those with practical uses are often in our kitchen but we just ignore them.

Do you know that vinegar just like baking soda is a multi-purpose cleaner too? It’s a great way to make a paste of it mixed with baking soda and dishwashing liquid. Josef cleans the lavatory using this mixture and it is very effective. Just use a little amount of vinegar.

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I haven’t  posted anything here since May 18 except today (please see my earlier post called I Mourn For My Country).

I experienced a big drop on my page views and stats the last three or four days, the lowest of which was just 29 views two days ago. I do believe that no matter how experienced a blogger you are, you are just as good as your last blog post.  I miss those surges of page views/likes and comments a while back. And I also miss reading other posts from my fellow bloggers.  Got so focused on other things.  Even reading has become a little lax. I could not finish a book in two days which I used to do. I made some progress in gardening though. It is now quite inconvenient to stay in the garden when the soil/grass is saturated with last night’s rain. It rains every day now mostly at night.

I broke my reading glass so I had it changed. Had another refraction last Sunday and the optometrist told me that I either wear double vision lenses or have two eyeglasses, one for reading and one for long distance. It is quite costly in the process but I had to order two. I  am again wearing a multi-coated lens for reading to protect my eyes from exposure to radiation and glare from reading. So far, so good. it’s worth it.

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Allow me this, at least for a while. I might look strong on the outside but my heart is bleeding in the inside.

I mourn, yes, I mourn for my country.

Yesterday, they nailed the coffin for good. The end of democracy. It’s supposedly the last bastion to protect the Filipino people and yet the Commision on Election chose to proclaim all the twelve administration bets despite the clamor for manual count, despite the various anomalies that happened a week ago – defective SD cards, videos of election registrars filling in and shading empty ballots, 7-hour glitch in transferring the results from various precincts, malfunctioning Vote Counting Machines and many, many more. This election is a farce. And I guess there is no legitimacy in an election where the commissioners themselves who are tasked to protect the ballots break the rules. Some people said that this is the first time in the history of the Philippines in an election where not even one opposition bet won. In the local level, the opposition won in various areas but in the national level, they all lost.  It makes no sense to me.

Instead of bringing back those millions of pesos back to the government, they allowed the thieves to come back to the Senate. Think of this – a senator who wholehearted supported those extra-judicial killings, a thief, a loyal photographer/selfie maker/follower  to a president with no previous experience in politics, not even in the barangay level, someone who started campaigning a year before the election was held and the Comelec turned a blind eye, a former president’s daughter whose credentials are all fake, a good-for-nothing come-backing senator who did practically nothing in the past. They are complete, complete crooks if I may say.

Allow me to quote a few words from other netizens who are equally concerned with what is happening in our country.

They’re written in the vernacular but let me just translate it in the simplest way. Bato dela Rosa on illegal chinese workers “if they are illegal, make them legal”. Bong Go (the famous alalay), “I will put up a department of OFW”.  Bong Revilla (the come-backing senator) “if not for that budots dance, I won’t win”.

There was this poem published by the Thinking Class of the Philippines. Philippines, it is hard to love you.

The president has been absent from the limelight since the day of the election last  May 13. There are rumors that he was rushed to the hospital because of heart attack. I wonder why they are keeping mum on this when it is stated in the Constitution that the people has the right to know the physical health of a governing person.

And I wonder, why hold on to power even when you are not fit enough to govern. I call that extreme greed.


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