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Posts Tagged ‘guilty pleasures’


I remember the event we had last Saturday,  Nate’s graduation from kindergarten.

We had our lunch at Dampa Seaside in Pasay City, a more than an hour trip from our place. We were fifteen in all including Obet’s parents, brothers, sister and in-laws plus the grandkids.  Obet and Nissa rented a private room in one of the restaurants complete with videoke. This is the second time that I ate in this place. The idea is you have to buy fresh produce from the nearby wet market and the staff of the restaurant would cook them for you anyway you want. Most of it of course are fresh seafood and meat too. If you love seafood, this is the place for you. Dampa Seaside is perhaps the largest seaside market in Metro Manila. One good thing is, the place is very  near hotels and shopping malls.

 Seaside Dampa Macapagal in Manila, Philippines. Photo culled from the net

We brought Oreo along.  Nate and the other kids had a grand time playing with him.

“What’s his name?” Hermie asked.

“Oreo”, Josef said.

“Oreo  parang yung biscuits na Oreo?” Hermie asked further.

“Yap”, Josef answered.

We all laughed.

Josef and I tried the videoke too while Nate was busy playing with his toys, gifts from his mom and dad and Nissa’s sis-in-law. More Lego toys….haha!

cousins

Funny moments, precious hours bonding together. Lovely  time with family.

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It’s not officially summer yet but the sun gets hot so early in the morning. More so in the middle of the day. Any day now though, PAGASA says they will declare it’s the summer season.

Summer.

Time for tropical fruits that abound in every nook and cranny of the  country. But one authentic summer offering by those in high-end restaurants, carinderias and resto bars, and those enterprising homeowners who sell them in the afternoon in front of their gates during summer is halo-halo. 

Halo-halo.

culled from the net, Pinoy Food.

You might just laugh at its English translation. It simply means mixed.  There are so many variations of halo-halo depending on the available ingredients. Ingredients include the following:

  • sweet red bean (munggo)
  • sweet white beans
  • coconut gel (nata de coco)
  • macapuno (gelatinous coconut string)
  • Fresh or canned jackfruit, cut into chunks
  • Shaved ice
  • Evaporated milk
  • Ube ice cream

You can even mix boiled sweet potato, boiled Saba bananas and top it with slivers of cheese and small slices of leche flan. It’s one summer dessert that you can  prepare on your own.

One thing I’ve tasted so far and it was so good was Kuya J’s Ube halo-halo. Bits of ube ice are mixed in the recipe so even if the ice melts, it does not change the taste. It’s melt- in-the-mouth goodness.

halo-halo-e1507429954890

Refreshing halo-halo, anyone?

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The last time I blogged about a book was last March 3. I thoroughly enjoyed Becoming by Michelle Obama. It was followed by several more books, nine more titles to be exact. They are mostly historical novels set in different places. There was one in Nigeria, a sort of memoir too and I enjoyed reading it. There were two books during the WWII.  I always love reading what happened during that time in world history.

About an hour ago, I finished reading Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata, with an English translation by  Edward G. Seidensticker. I wasn’t born yet when it was first published in 1952 but there are other editions in the market. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know about Japanese traditions and heritage left by their ancestors but I learned something from this book. The delicate art of the tea ceremony which is a part of their culture is beautiful. If I remember, this is only my second book set in Japan and by a Japanese author.

There is another book that I am excited to read, The Crown’s Fate. The setting is in Russia. It’s actually a sequel but it could stand alone. I love stories about the Russian Revolution. This started when I encountered my first book of Ayn Rand, (a Russian-American writer) called The Fountainhead. I strained my eyes finishing Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky years ago. Anna  Karenina is a recent read.

Trying to look for more Asian authors.

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The last time I really read a good memoir was when I discovered Peter Mayle’s books two years ago. I read all of his three books entitled A Year In Provence (giving it  a five-star rating on Goodreads), Toujours Provence and Encore Provence. Back then, I couldn’t get enough of how he described his adventures and life in the south of France. I even googled all those places that he mentioned in his books.  I got sad though when he died last January 18, 2018 at the age of 78. He was a British author.

Then here comes another book that got me hooked up to the last page.

Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Of course we all know who Michelle Obama is, the first African-American First Lady of the United States. The book of course is not about politics. It’s about the life of a future First Lady from when she was a child growing up with her brother Craig on the South Side of Chicago.  She belonged to a middle class family, graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. The book speaks of the times when she was a child until her family left the White House after eight years.

From time to time, I would read some quotes of hers but I was never curious to know how she lived her life as a mother to two beautiful kids and the wife of Pres. Barack Obama. Becoming is an intimate account on how experiences have shaped her, a warm story-telling of her life as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and eventually as the First Lady of the United States of America. With honesty and wit, she described her disappointments and triumphs in life.  Her beauty, elegance and intelligence were clearly manifested in her detailed descriptions of how life was back then.

Here are some  quotes that I jotted down while reading the book.

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” 

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I woke up early yesterday morning despite having lack of sleep the previous night attending the wake of my aunt.

I hate seeing the fallen leaves in front of the house, atop  the  two parked cars of my brother and ours so I have to sweep while drinking a hot cup of coffee. Wandered around the place and took several shots of the flowers growing there together with the coconut trees and mahogany trees planted years ago by my Dad.  I will update how our garden looks now after several years of not seeing it (in my other blog of course).

An old well. We used to fetch water here when we were kids and until potable water was provided by the town several years ago.

 

Mahogany trees

 

Our coconut trees. We had fresh buko during breakfast. Fresh from the tree of course.

 

A pile of old and dried coconut leaves which one can make into brooms. I told my brother to hire someone to clean it.

Honestly, it is nice to go back there and commune with nature again even for a short time. I brought home some jackfruit.

Since we are in a higher place, it is cold at night and in the early morning.

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A few days ago (I think last Tuesday to be exact), Josef and I looked at the moon when he went out of the gate to go to work.

“It’s so big. Take a photo”, he said.

I just gazed at it and remembered those days when my brothers and I were still staying in the province. When it is full moon and the surroundings are brighter at night, we would visit some relatives near our place usually after dinner. I was always in awe of the bright moon above, how it shone clearly. I always  wondered though lots of times why it seemed to move and travelled with us. Where we were, it was right there above us. And except for a few clouds that hid it somehow and the dark shadows of trees along the rough road, it kept lighting our way.  You won’t really need a flash light nor a torch to guide you.

There seems to be something mysterious while you are gazing at a full moon. You think of so many things and remember those moments of the past when playing tug of war or hide and seek with friends and cousins was the order of the night. Back in the province, the silence was  broken with shouts of laughter and joy.

Nissa’s family is spending a few days in Baguio City. They went there yesterday since Obet has a one-day teaching engagement/guesting with some employees of Bank  of PI where they both work. Monday is a holiday here so it would be an extended road trip for them.  Going to  Baguio is not complete without taking  souvenir shots of this lion’s head, an entrance to Baguio City.

 

At Lion’s Head, Kennon Road, Baguio City

I was talking to Nate a while ago. He asked me what I want for pasalubong. I told him to bring home “walis tambo” and veggies. It’s cold out there  (around 13 C°) but they are planning to swim at the pool later today. Anyway, it is heated.

 

A typical Nate pose.

Oh yes, the cold mornings are back but it is definitely colder in Baguio.

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When you accidentally find another book that takes you back to places and events that you never get tired of reading about, it is truly a joy to read it.

At first, it was the cover of the book that I noticed. I have always loved reading about World War II. Yes, historical novels fascinate me. And since Amy Harmon is a new author in my list, I was not expecting that I will enjoy this book.

From Sand  And Ash, a touching, beautiful and heart-wrenching story of an Italian Jew and a Catholic priest and their families. The setting was in 1943 at the height of WWII in war-torn Italy. They were childhood friends, raised like family, of different faith and religion. The male protagonist Angelo, chose to become a priest while Eva grew up in the company of Angelo’s grandparents. The author says most of the events that happened in the book were factual. Italy’s Jews were hidden by members of the Catholic clergy. One thing that I’ve always read about in similar stories were how the Jews were killed in concentration camps in Poland and Germany. Although Italy was mentioned, it was never this detailed.

If you happen to love such stories with a little romance in between, you would enjoy reading this. It was a beautiful read from start to finish. A story of faith, love and war, a mesmerizing combination that grips you till the end.

I am giving this five-stars on Goodreads, one of the best books I read this year so far. I never include summaries when I review a book, it’s for you to find out if you are interested to read it.  I jotted down some worth-reading quotes though.

“Fear is strange. It settles on chests and seeps through skin, through layers of tissue, muscle, and bone and collects in a soul-sized black hole, sucking the joy out of life, the pleasure, the beauty. But not the hope. Somehow, the hope is the only thing resistant to the fear, and it is that hope that makes the next breath possible, the next step, the next tiny act of rebellion, even if that rebellion is simply staying alive.”

“Life is like a long note; it persists without variance, without wavering. There is no cessation in sound or pause in tempo. It continues on, and we must master it or it will master us.”

“Time doesn’t stop or give warning. It simply ticks along, marking time, ignoring humanity.” 

Done with 26% of my book challenge this year.

 

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