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Just my simple observations.

We are observing and commemorating our 119th Independence Day today where we are supposed to be united once again as a nation.  I salute our heroes who sacrificed their lives to gain our independence. In the past, we have seen our former presidents present at the symbolic flag raising ceremonies in Luneta  but this morning,  Duterte was not there as planned, no reason given.  It was Vice-Pres. Robredo and foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano who graced the occasion. Some were clearly disappointed, like he was trying to avoid his presence there but most people rejoiced in not seeing him there. The division among the people is blatantly obvious. Malacanang is mum about it 😦 .

There were these reports that he grudgingly thanked the US in helping  our AFP  and PNP  in  the Marawi siege.  He said he was not aware of it. Goodness gracious, he is the commander-in-chief who is supposed to be on top of the game.  You mean, “tutulog tulog lang”? (sleeping on the job). The AFP and PNP know that he wants the  NPA (the communists party of the Philippines) and the two Moro groups MILF and MNLF to help them in their fight. How could he even think of having those three enemy groups to be in the camp as our brave soldiers up front? The nerve. Sure the drug menace needs to be stopped but I am alarmed at the extra judicial killings  happening almost every day.  Is it a case of protecting the drug lords but disposing the lowly users and pushers? If the government is serious about it, why is it that until now, no drug lord has been arrested. I think they are freely  roaming around.  By the way, martial law is not lifted yet in Mindanao.

What’s happening to us?  Are we really free in the true sense of the word?

 

 

 

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Thinking of what to prepare tomorrow night for our media noche, to celebrate the coming of  the new year.  Usually, we celebrate a new leaf in the calendar with lots of sweets  like fruit or buko salad, cakes and the usual  food  like pancit, pasta, embutido, lumpiang shanghai, menudo (mostly  Chinese and  Spanish recipes handed down from one generation to the next). The price of buko (young coconut) has significantly gone up over the years. It now costs P35 per piece whereas a year or two ago, it could be bought at P20 to P25.

Celebration of new year here in our country is steeped in tradition. I blogged about this years ago how we celebrate New Year. It is pretty normal that two days before  new year, wet markets and grocery stores are filled with people shopping for fruits and sweets, must items that should be on the table come  media noche.  Tradition says that having twelve kinds of fruits  on the table brings luck, any round fruit will do but some are specific about what fruits to serve on the table. When they are not in season though, they cost sky-high. It is only during this time that you will see so many fruits displayed in the market.  Even lechon  (a roasted suckling pig)  could be bought whole or by the kilo. It’s one of the usual recipes that is served during Christmas and New Year.  I bought some fruits already, half-a kilo each for the small ones, pineapple  and  honey-dew but they are not yet complete. There are only six items  in all but the fruit basket is already filled. m I have to go back to the market tomorrow for the rest.  I am thinking of preparing chicken ala king, menudo, the usual baked ham,  and finger food like lumpiang shanghai (spring rolls). Pasta of course will  not be left behind  or pancit  for long life, so they say.

Attending the New Year’s Eve mass is also practiced by most Catholics here.  It used to be that mass was held at exactly 12am but that was changed over the years since you cannot hear the celebration properly with the sound of fireworks all around.  I don’t know why but they haven’t totally banned the use of firecrackers. It is still a big business particularly in some towns in Bulacan.They pose a serious and environmental health dangers, it’s pollution to the max.  I wonder why some people can’t do away with all these toxic chemicals. We never buy firecrackers,  our neighbors’ display are  more than enough to pollute the air in our village.

How do you greet the new year in your area? Do you have the same traditions like we do here?  May the coming 2017 be a brighter and better year for us. May it always be filled with  faith, hope and peace.

HAPPY 2017 !!!

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I seldom endorse a product,I am not even a lover of donuts (meaning, I don’t crave for it) but I can’t resist sharing this.  They’re the best I’ve ever tasted, not too sweet but melt in the mouth goodness. Compared to other brands, J.Co donuts are just so good and they come in many flavors with such eye-catching names. Fancy this – Alcapone, Mr. Green Tea, Oreology, Berry Spears, Forest Glam, Tiramisu, Coco Loco to name a few.  These bite-sized donuts come in a box of two dozen different flavors, they are soft and chewy because they are baked and not fried. They have 29 branches here in the Philippines (next to the 135  chain of stores in Indonesia).

J.Pops baby donuts. They're quite expensive but people line up in their outlets to buy donuts or fat free frozen yogurt.

J.Pops baby donuts. They’re quite expensive but people line up in their outlets to buy donuts or fat-free frozen yogurt.

Pair it with their unique flavor of Italian blends coffee and you’re good to go. I prefer my own Twinings’ Green Tea and Lemon or Celestial Seasonings’ Raspberry Zinger.

Donut, anyone?

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I’ve been awake since 2:30am. Crazy, isn’t  it? I had a shuteye though this afternoon. It rained early this morning but Josef and I did a quick trip to the wet market despite the rain. I was lucky to find a  fresh bundle of young garlic. What a joy, just perfect for a rainy day.  I’ve been on the lookout for this ever since I tasted it a few months ago at my son-in-law’s house. Although it is more expensive than the matured ones, it is best mixed with soup, a simple recipe of Chinese sotanghon and ground pork. The nutty flavor of the sliced young garlic is just so yummy  I wish a bought a kilo instead of just a little bundle.  You slice it thinly as you would an onion, sauté it with celery stalk  and pork, adding a little salt and pepper then the sotanghon last. It’s best while  it’s hot.

A productive day for arranging books , transferring some notes to my journal, IMG_6470blogging about Nate’s trip to Siquijor and Dumaguete, a little gardening this afternoon, what more could one ask, squeezing a little of everything in one day.IMG_6468

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I was looking at the pictures that Nissa sent thru Viber earlier and I was thrilled to see our little Nate enjoying his four-day vacation with his mom and dad. He must be wondering where they were,  different places, lovely scenery, lots of swimming to boot and a wide playground where he could roam around. This particular picture made me smile, I could imagine that hammock swaying gently through the breeze. What an adventure for a two-year old boy.

Nate9

It must be fun to just be here, with nary a thought of anything but the joy of the moment, the touch of the sand on your toes and the sound of the ocean waves nearby.

Have you ever tried reacquainting yourself with children’s books? I did while I was covering Nate’s books this afternoon. Another weird thing to do but an enjoyable one.  I am into e-books again. Let me correct that, I am alternating reading my loot last August and some short stories in between. I want to reread another favorite since I was in college.  A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, published in 1943 and was written by Betty Smith. Have you read it?

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♪♫have yourself a merry little Christmas. let your heart be light♪♫♪

Do I hear the music playing? Gosh, the days are definitely chasing each other. Josef and I have finally put up our minimal  Christmas decor and I love the look of our home now. Mind you, these are recycled  decorations that we have accumulated over the years and lovingly restored just for this occasion. I know some of you don’t celebrate Christmas the way we do here in our country, three long months of celebration.  Shopping malls are truly alive during this season because they usually put up their larger than life Christmas trees, trimmings and twinkling LED lights as early as September. Where can you find Christmas songs being played all day long? An  advertising gimmick to lure more shoppers of course. We are vulnerable that way because we love Christmas.  I’ve done shopping for some gifts for the family but I haven’t completed  my list yet. This is the first time that we did the decorating this early. I took advantage of Josef’s vacation leave to sort what to put up. I bought something new of course and it was the first time I did it – a set of pillow cases in Christmas prints.

Christmas 2014 - 2

Christmas 2014 -1I bought those empty rattan carts a year ago and embellished them with Christmas balls and flowers. That white porcelain nativity set was a gift from a friend many years ago and I just love it.

Our town is participating in a Christmas tree contest in the whole province of Rizal. The large Christmas tree displayed at the grounds of our municipal hall is made from recycled soft drink bottles. I hope we win 🙂

Don’t look now but I’ve finally been able to find some pictures of the Ayala Triangle gardens. The tradition continues with the  Festival of Lights happening  every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10 pm every night starting today and will continue till January 04, 2015. I got these two pictures from the timeline of JAZA (Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala), one of the big bosses of Ayala Group of Companies, Bank of PI included. I am sure he wouldn’t mind if I post them here 🙂 He has a page on FB which most former unibankers like me follow.

Courtesy of JAZA. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ayala Corp.

Courtesy of JAZA. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ayala Corp.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

I hope I would be able to visit this and watch musicians/composers sing Christmas carols of old. This is right in front of Nissa’s office building.

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Sunset scene at Calayan

Sunset scene at Calayan

Lovell sent me this picture a while ago, a dramatic shot of a sunset in Calayan. He said it is his birthday gift to me.  Calayan, when will I see your shore?

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What a mouthful for a blog title! Some would probably say it is too early yet. It’s the anticipation and the countdown though that make Christmas something to look forward to  every year.  It’s 76 days to go before Christmas, better yet make that 75 since October 10 is about to end.

Our street is the role model for the others when it comes to decorating. Christmas season or not, we have a color motif all year round. Since we adopted the idea of lighting our own street (that means every house has a light post in front) without relying on the subdivision fund to pay for our street light consumption, it has become even better. Our street coordinators maintain them and we have uniform potted plants lining the street as well.  I saw them fixed the parols this afternoon, those small Christmas lanterns that light our street every year. I got excited watching them decorate each light post.

Violet St. at night....

Violet St. at night….

This was how it looked last year. I wonder what they’ll add  to make it look more festive this time. I think it’s time to clean and bring out my favorite Christmas decor again although I don’t get to hang them until November 30 of each year.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Do I hear Christmas carols too?

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