Archive for the ‘It’s More Fun In the Philippines’ Category

The first words I heard from my son when he came home from a week-trip to Boracay were,  “Enjoy talaga,  umitim ba ako Ma?” I laughed and he embraced me and said, “I’ve missed you Ma”. Of course I’ve missed him too.

He said he was sorry he was not able to find sea glass for me. It was just a lovely powder-white  sand all throughout. That’s okay though because based on his accounts, he enjoyed his one-week stay there and that what really counts. He didn’t take pictures but took videos of the activities they did there. Aside from swimming and exploring the place,  he enjoyed parasailing, one of the many things they did with his friends. When I saw the video, it was really, really beautiful.  Imagine yourself high up in the air with just the blue ocean underneath.  One thing that he would like to experience again if he ever has the chance to come back was the helmet diving. It was his first time to dive. They  were briefed on how to equalize pressure in the ears,  taught  hand signals to the divers and just enjoy the gifts of the sea. They gave a small packet of bread to feed the different species of fish they saw there and he enjoyed that too. The corals are just so lovely. The diving package comes with a CD where you will see yourself  feeding a school of fish and admiring the lovely corals. They tried the ATV ride (buggy cars, one of the many options to go around the island) but it was not much of a challenge compared to helmet diving and parasailing. The place is open 24/7. The whole story-telling itself was just as exciting.



Banana boat ride...

Banana boat ride…

About to experience the best of all....helmet diving!

About to experience the best of all….helmet diving!

So there is a grotto there, an image of Mama Mary..

So there is a grotto there, an image of Mama Mary..

Boracay is one of the many (if not the best) tourist attractions in our country. A lot of tourists, foreign and local visit this place throughout the year. To view some photos of the place, just click this link. It is one of the world’s top beach destinations.

He brought home sweets, lots of key chains for me, for Nissa and for his office mates and t-shirts.

My Boracay loot

It’s more fun in the Philippines.

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“Come over and experience the peace and quiet, see the pristine beaches, just be”, he enthused.

And I said, “I wish, I wish, I wish.”  I wish I have wings to fly and visit this wonderful place and enjoy what nature has to offer.

My priest son and I were in  a long, long chat a few nights ago and he reiterated his invitation that we go visit him and see Calayan Island while he is assigned there in one of their Dominican Missions in the North.  I am writing this from memory, from what he shared during our occasional but lengthy phone conversations. You’re right, I spent a few nights searching for videos on Calayan and visiting some blogs written by travel bloggers who’ve been to the place. I still dream of visiting Batanes of course but Calayan offers the same lovely, unexplored places  which make my soul dream of it more.

Posted with permission from Estan Cabigas, a travel blogger who writes for international and local travel magazines. Thanks Stan for thse lovely images.

Posted with permission from Estan Cabigas, a travel blogger who writes for international and local travel magazines. Thanks Stan for these lovely images.

Who would not be impressed by this scenery?

Who would not be impressed by this scenery?


“We’ve just harvested corn”, he continued and “enjoying the cold weather now”.  I jokingly answered “Send some via LBC”.

Unfortunately, they don’t have LBC there. Every day, they only have electricity from 12pm to 12am but they don’t complain, they are used to it. I love the idea of  fishing when you need food to eat, growing vegetables on one’s backyard and they come fresh everyday, planting rice the traditional way (and Lovell tells me that he will try using it – the plough hooked at the back of a carabao), breeding chicken and pigs for meat. I was so surprised when he said that they don’t have a public market in Calayan. The people peddle their  produce from house to house.  Sometimes, the parishioners give lobster, fresh veggies  or live chicken to the parish.

Children walk to school and they have the luxury of time to just admire the sunrise and the endless blue sea an hour before classes start.  You could never do that here in the city. Tricycles and motorcycles are the popular means of transport. The best time to go there is during the summer months of April or early May.  Twelve-hour bus ride, (unless you take a plane to Cagayan) and four to six hours boat trip to the island.

Here is a Wiki description of the place.

Calayan (Ibanag language, meaning “where laya (ginger) abounded”) is a municipality in the province of Cagayan, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 16,200 people in an area of 49,453 hectares (122,200 acres).

It is located in the South China Sea, in Luzon Strait north of Luzon Island. The town is composed of four of the five major islands of the Babuyan Islands namely: Calayan, Camiguin, Dalupiri and Babuyan Island. Calayan Island is the largest of the Babuyan Islands. Fuga Island, the fifth island within the Babuyan Islands, is part of Aparri municipality.Calayan is home to the Calayan Rail, a flightless bird identified as a separate species in 2004 and endemic to Calayan Island.

Lovell says, you cannot appreciate it enough through pictures. The best thing is to go there and see the island for real.


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It’s not our usual fare on the table, for one thing, it is costly when you buy it ready-to-eat unless you prepare it on your own. Sometimes though the thrill of eating something is when you just lift your spoon and fork and taste the delicious recipe in front of you.

Josef brought home a half-kilo of bagnet he ordered from their office. I sliced and fried it and he had it with fried rice and egg for breakfast.  Bagnet is a specialty in Ilocos. Actually, I find it bland and tasteless just like your typical lechon  without the sauce, but then when you mix it with monggo or with  veggies like squash, ampalaya (bitter gourd), eggplant and okra, you’ll have a yummy and tasty pinakbet. And the best partner for your bagnet would be fresh tomatoes mixed with a little fish sauce and  lazona, a  variety of onion  locally produced in Ilocos and other parts of the northern provinces in the Philippines. Or you could dip it with vinegar with lots of red chili, this is one of the best dips used either in pork or fish.

Bagnet, a deep-fried crispy pork with its skin on cooked like lechong kawali and chicharon.

Bagnet, a deep-fried crispy pork with its skin on cooked like lechong kawali and chicharon.

I haven’t tried cooking this yet, we don’t often eat fried pork. I prefer lean ground pork which is so versatile in the kitchen. I found a simple recipe for this from Sandy Daza. Why not try it?

How To Cook Bagnet

  • Boil a whole 3-kilo pork liempo covered for 1.5 hours. (You can use chicken broth instead of water.)
  • Deep fry the boiled liempo. Make sure the cooking oil is still cold when you introduce the meat.
  • Under a low fire, allow the oil to heat up slowly and fry the bagnet till it’s crunchy.
  • Fish out the liempo. Let the oil cool and then repeat the slow-frying step.
  • When done, get a spoonful of a mixture of spring onions, onions and tomatoes dressed in diluted fish bagoong. Then, add a piece on bagnet on top of it and enjoy.

Here’s a tip from Sandy I got from yahoo.com “Watch the bubbles on the surface of the oil. The bigger the bubbles, the more moisture the meat has.



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When you see mangoes in season, you’d think  summer is finally here. And some of the sweetest mangoes are grown in our native province in Pangasinan.  My brother brought a whole crate (kaing) of it when they came over last Saturday to celebrate Mom’s birthday with us.




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♫♪♫♪On a clear day

Rise and look around you

And you’ll see who you are

On a clear day

How it will astound you

That the glow of your being

Outshines every star

You’ll feel part of every mountain, sea and shore

You can hear

From far and near

A word you’ve never, never heard before…

And on a clear day…On a clear day…

You can see forever…

And ever…

And ever…

And ever more…♪♪♫♪

I think I am having  a LSS. That’s Capones Island located in San Antonio, Zambales. Someday, I would love to come back here and wait for the sunrise…maybe just greet the early morning with a smile.

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If there are popular street food in every corner of Metro Manila, there are also popular drinks that you will find in malls and yes, food cart on the street. Buko juice and gulaman at sago are just examples of these. Gulaman is simply the Tagalog term for  jelly while sago are tapioca pearls that go with it.  Don’t ask me why they go together but they taste good especially when they’re home-made. The ones they sell in food kiosks  in malls contain only about half a spoon of gulaman and probably  a teaspoon of sago. That’s P10 for you for a small plastic cup. Sago is also used in those very popular pearl and milk teas. I tried making a pitcher this afternoon, it’s better than sodas or soft drinks.  Gulaman of course is so easy to prepare while sago needs a lot of  boiling time to soften.

gulaman at sago

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I haven’t tasted this for quite sometime but I chanced upon a vendor selling it at 3 pieces for P50.00.  They call it suman sa latik –  made from glutinous  rice (malagkit), wrapped in banana leaves then boiled to cook. It’s the latik (coconut cream mixed with brown sugar) that makes it so delicious and tasty. It’s perfect for that hot cup of tea or coffee.  In our province in Pangasinan, we prepare suman  by wrapping them in young coconut leaves after cooking it in  coconut cream then boil it again to get that nice flavor.  I say, ours is better when it comes to taste, not that I am biased of course because suman sa latik is actually bland without the latik. And would you believe that there are as many ways to cook suman as there are so many provinces in the Philippines? Take your pick from what region they come from and they’ll surely vary in taste the more you explore the countryside.

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