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


Son has called me twice already since they left this morning for the airport going to Boracay. It’ll be his second time to take a short break there.  He called me up again  less than an hour ago, they are now  at their hotel in Station One.  We just had heavy rains here due to thunderstorms but Boracay is sunny, the weather there is perfect for all the activities they plan to do. Five days of bliss  and exploration.

Got this photo from Wikipedia.

I think I need to trim our carabao grass again.  It is growing by leaps and bounds because of the rain. I just  feel lazy  because I am trying to finish a historical novel set during WWI and two years after WWII.  I always visit the garden though since our small vacant pond is always inundated with rain water.  We’ve lost the Koi fish years ago when it got flooded and it overflowed.

I chanced upon this insect  atop my pink-striped lily that I could not identify. Do you know what it is?

I haven’t harvested calamansi since  my daughter’s family came over for a visit two weeks ago. Some are ready for picking.  I don’t store them in the ref, I just pick some when I need to marinate something or use them as juice  instead of  drinking soda.   That’s  the  good thing about having some fruits and veggies in the garden aside from the ornamental plants  that I have. I noticed some Jutes growing side by side with our chilli peppers.  Perfect.

May you have the nicest week ever.

 

 

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So summer has  started in the Philippines. Technically PAGASA does not call it summer  but the dry season.  The dry season though starts from the month  of November until March the following year. The hottest months are usually  April and May. Sometimes, rainy days start mid June until October.

It is during these  summer months that we have those summer fruits in season. This morning, I bought a kilo of star apple (kaimito in Tagalog) and fresh bananas.  My mom who is still with us until now loves fruits especially bananas. The variety I bought ripens easily in a day or two. I usually buy the ones which are still green.

  Green and ripe sweet mangoes are in abundance too but they  are still expensive. In the province, mangoes are given free by neighbors during harvest  time and almost every family has a mango tree in the backyard. I love the green ones (which we call manibalang)  better than the ripe ones. They taste so good with alamang  (shrimp paste) and chili peppers. Have you ever tried  freshly cooked shrimp paste as dipping sauce?It is wonderfully yummy with that kick of chili.

Do you know what’s the best time to visit the Philippines?  It is during the cooler weather of December until probably late January or early March. It is during these times that there are so many festivals celebrated in different parts of the  archipelago. Fiestas are also held at these times of the year. These feast are definitely attractions in themselves.  I guess our country celebrate so many feast, a valid excuse to party and to prepare Filipino food too. We have a variety of Philippine cuisine truly unique in the country. Some are fusion of Spanish and American dishes.  Chinese recipes abound in local food courts and restaurants.

We have lovely beaches too. I guess Palawan, Cebu  and Boracay are the best places to be during summer. There are more lovely islands in other areas too. We are not called a country of 7,641 islands for nothing. More than 5,000 islands are yet to be named though.

Come visit us, it is summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Original Pilipino Music.

There is this new show on ABS CBN channel called I Love OPM which started over the weekend.  It only airs during Saturdays and Sundays. As the airtime was a bit late, I  was not able to watch the initial showing but Josef did and he said it was  lovely, the concept is new and interesting. I don’t really watch television every day but sometimes there are programs worth waiting for.  They feature Pilipino music composed by talented Filipino musicians/artists and what  makes it all the more interesting is that all participants of the show are foreigners. They sure know how to speak Tagalog.

Last night, we watched the Sunday edition – it’s entertainment at its best.  There were three  featured individual contestants and a group from Korea – one is an Arab guy who is fluent in Tagalog, another one is a shy Indian who has a big crush on Anne Curtis. The third one is a Russian lady who is married to a Filipino guy and said that she loves the Philippines. The  group from Korea  sang and danced.  The Russian lady did a rap. They really went out of their way to learn the Pilipino language and speak it like a native.  It’s kind of amazing when you see a foreign face singing a Tagalog song.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley

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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.

Parasailing....

Parasailing….

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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