Sunday, July 24, 2005

On the "New" Batman

As an avid comic book reader and collector in my youth, the story of Batman and his adventures figured prominently in many idle hours past.

Furthermore, as a serious pencil sketcher or drawer in that same milieu, Batman also figured prominently because the drawings of Bob Kane, the original illustrator, were easy to draw and duplicate, aided of course, by the fact that the face of the masked crusader was quite simple in line and design. A mask with protruding bat ears, squared jaws, and nothing much more.

The original storyteller was one named Bill Finger and he started his series in 1939 without much fanfare. It was only later on that the "origin" of Batman was detailed in a rather short episode. He was witness to the robbery and murder of his parents, on a night out to the movies. Young Bruce vows to fight crime in memory of the sad plight of his parents. That's all. I remember that the comic book that had this episode devoted only maybe a dozen panels about the incident.

And back then, any signs of the "darkness" now popularly associated with Batman were limited to the facts that he took on the persona of a bat, which we all know is a nocturnal animal; that he was always summoned using a bat signal that lit the inky night sky. Or that the Wayne manor was depicted as a dimly-lit place which housed the equally dimly-lit bat cave, where most things associated with Batman were kept. But not much references to the darkness of his character, melancholic moods, or other dark human qualities.

I've personally kept a copy of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986) not because I like it but because it is a constant reminder for me how starkly different the Batman is now portrayed as compared to the Batman of my youth. And I do not mean just on the artwork. The simpler and easy to unravel masked Crusader with no dark sinister secrets bottled up or constantly conflicting him.

And thus, I often wonder how this metamorphosis came about. I doubt if the original creator, Bill Finger, had these now-accepted trivia stored up somewhere in the back of his mind waiting to be revealed and released at some future date. And this doubt extends to the original illustrator, Bob Kane, who probably was limited to the artwork.

Who started this gradual conversion of Batman into some kind of complex and inscrutable individual, confusing one whether he really stands for good or for something evil?

But definitely the movies and comic books about him now regularly portray him in this somber light. This most current movie, Batman Begins, which I have not yet seen, is touted by its makers and actors to become the definitive movie on Batman. The one that will come to mind first when movies about Batman are discussed.

Is it really? Or is it maybe, the definitive movie of the "new" Batman, sculpted to this dark image by some imaginative writers and equally creative screenplay-writers.

You know we are now a very complicated, conflicted, and at times sinister, society, so this simply may be a reflection of the current milieu. And a thirst-quenching product of our avid hunger for things front and center in our lives. Hollywood is arguably very adept at this.

A very far departure from the simpler and uncomplicated times of yesteryears.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Recipes From Eastern Visayas - Region VII

For this, we go to the storm-tossed islands of Leyte and Samar, periodically brought into our collective consciousness because of devastation wrought on their many places by typhoons. But Leyte is also home to the hardy Warays, they with their aggressive nature and can-do attitude. And this collection of recipes will also provide testimony to the region's other outstanding qualities.

1 cup finely ground raw peanuts
3-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon atsuwete
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water
1 cup malagkit flour
1/2 kilo pork liempo, cooked and thinly sliced
6 pieces banana leaves, wilted and greased (14"x15")

Cook peanut in water for 40 minutes.
Sauté atsuwete to extract color.
Remove seeds and brown garlic and onion.
Add peanut, vinegar, one teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Cook until peanut sauce is thick enough to spread.
Add the remaining seasonings to the water and mix flour to form a ball of dough.
Divided equally into two portions.
Put one portion on a banana leaf and roll out with a rolling pin.
For a rectangle 10"x5x1/8.
Steam 5 minutes.

Remove carefully from hot steam with a turner.
When cool, slip dough on another leaf.
On the dough, arrange half of the pork and top with peanut sauce.
Fold dough neatly and spread top with peanut sauce.
Wrap with a piece of banana leaf and tie securely with a string.
Repeat the same procedure with the other half of the dough.
Steam for two hours.
Before serving, divide each tamalus into 5 slices.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/2 cup fresh shrimps, blanched and shelled
1 cup cubed boiled pork
2 cups shrimp juice from pounded heads of shrimps
1 cup munggo sprouts (togue)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups sotanghon, soaked and cut 2" long
1 cup water
1/4 cup green onions
Dash of pepper

Sauté garlic, onion, shrimp and pork.
Add shrimp juice.
Cover and allow to boil.
Add togue and cover.
Cook 10 minutes.
Season to taste.
Add sotanghon and cook 5 minutes longer.
Add one cup water and bring to a boil.
Just before removing from fire, add green onions and dash of pepper.
Serve hot. Serves 6.

2 cups coconut milk (second extraction)
1 cup dried dilis
1 tablespoon bagoong alamang
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cubed squash
2 cups sliced patola
1 cups cut kangkong stems (1" lengths)
1 cup cubed okra
1/4 cup red pepper
2 cups kangkong leaves
2 cups alugbati leaves
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
1/2 cup pure coconut milk

Heat second extraction of coconut milk with dried dilis and bagoong.
Cook 10 minutes.
Season with salt.
Add squash and cook 3 minutes.
Add patola, kangkong stems, okra, red pepper, leafy greens and tomatoes.
Cook 4 minutes.
Add coconut milk and remove from fire as soon as it boils.
6 servings.

1 cup pure coconut milk
1/2 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon peppercorn
2 teaspoons salt
6 pieces medium eggplant, whole

Place all the above ingredients in a saucepan except eggplant.
Bring to a boil and stir to avoid curdling of coconut milk.
Add eggplant and cook 15 minutes.
6 Servings.

1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups grated coconut
1/2 cup evaporated milk (undiluted)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon kalamansi juice

Mix sugar and grated coconut.
Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.
Add milk little by little, mixing thoroughly.
Add slightly beaten eggs; continue mixing over moderate. Heat.
Flavor with kalamansi juice.
Remove from fire and drop by teaspoonfuls on wilted banana leaf or wax paper.
Yield: 50 pieces.

3/4 cup shredded raw gabi
1 cup rich coconut milk (e medium coconuts)
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 clean medium coconut shells (4-1/2" dia., 2" high)
1/2 can (1 oz.) full cream condensed milk
4 egg yolks
Wilted banana leaves
String for tying

Mix first three ingredients and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes, constantly stirring.
Lower heat and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
Add condensed milk and cook over low heat 20 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
Fill each coconut shell with mixture.
Make a well in center and drop raw egg yolk.
Cover top with tuber mixture and spread until smooth, very close to brim or shell.
Cover whole shell with two layers banana leaves and tie securely with strings.
Steam half an hour.
12 servings.

Recipes From Western Visayas - Region VI

The western portions of the Visayas take us to the islands of Panay, Guimaras of mango fame, part of Negros, and Romblon more noted not for its cuisine but things like its marble.

While the main ingredients may all look too familiar, such as pig's feet, bangus, and chicken, the different ways that the dishes are put together reveal the artistry and resourcefulness of the peoples in this region.

Thus a menu like Chicken Binakol introduces us to the use of a bamboo tube in cooking.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/4 kilo spareribs, cut into serving pieces
4 teaspoons salt
3 cups rice washing
2 cups sliced banana heart
2 cups sliced green papaya
3 cups sili leaves

Sauté garlic, onion and spareribs.
Season with salt.
Add rice washing and let boil.
Add banana heart, green papaya and cook 8 minutes.
Add sili leaves and cook 2 minutes more.
Serve hot.

3 cups rice washing
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
6 pieces dried pinakas (fish), washed
2 cups cut sitaw (2" lengths)
2 cups cubed kalabasa
2 pieces eggplant, sliced diagonally
2 cups alugbati

Combine first three ingredients and bring to a boil.
Add pinakas and cook 3 minutes.
Add sitaw, kalabasa and cook 2 minutes.
Add eggplant and alugbati.
Cook 4 minutes more.
Serve hot.

1 kilo pig's feet, cleaned and cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup young guava leaves, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon garlic
Dash of pepper
2 cups water
Guava leaves for lining
Banana leaves for wrapping

Combine all ingredients except water.
Let stand 20-25 minutes.
Line saucepan with guava leaves and set aside.
Wrap pork mixture in banana leaves and place on top of guava leaves in the saucepan.
Add water, boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer until meat is tender.
Serve hot.

1 medium bangus, cleaned, salted and broiled
3 pieces tomatoes, broiled
1 small onion, broiled
2 cups boiled water
1/4 cup cut green onions
1 teaspoon salt
2 pieces siling labuyo, crushed

Flake broiled bangus coarsely; remove bones.
Slice broiled tomatoes and onion.
Mix with bangus.
Add boiled water and green onions.
Season with salt and siling labuyo.
Serve hot.

1 small chicken, cleaned and cut into 6 serving portions
4 medium potatoes, pared and quartered
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
2 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 fresh bamboo tube (1 node, 12" long 4" diameter)
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1 bundle tanglad (lemon grass) sufficient to close end of tube

Mix all ingredients and put inside bamboo tube.
Close open end with tanglad leaves and place over live coal in a diagonal position to prevent dripping.
Turn bamboo at 5-minute intervals.
Cook 45-50 minutes until chicken is tender.

2 cups pinipig
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups butong (young coconut), grated

Grind toasted pinipig
In a bowl, mix ground pinipig, coconut water and sugar.
Blend well and add grated butong.
Divide into serving portions.
Wrap each servings in banana leaves or wax paper.
Chill before serving.

1-1/4 cups fresh kadyos
1 small chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced tomatoes
4 teaspoons salt
2 cups thinly sliced banana ubad
4 pieces tanglad leaves

Boil kadyos and chicken together until tender.
Separate chicken from kadyos and set aside.
Sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and boiled chicken.
Season with salt.
Add kadyos and broth.
Let boil.
Add banana ubad and tanglad and cook 10 minutes more.
Remove tanglad leaves before serving.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Recipes From Central Visayas - Region VII

Our focus today will be on the two big members of this region, Cebu and Bohol. Two places that are close and dear to me because I spent part of my youth in Cebu, the home province of my mother, and Bohol, for vacations being very proximate to our nothern Mindanao province.

1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 cups kangkong stems, cut into 1/2" lengths
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
3 tablespoons bagoong alamang

Mix vinegar and water and heat in a saucepan.
As soon as mixture boils, add kangkong stems.
Cook for 7 minutes over high heat until all the liquid is absorbed.
Set aside.
In the same pan, sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and bagoong alamang.
Add kangkong stems and mix thoroughly.
Remove from fire and serve as relish or appetizer.
Serves 6.

6 pieces gabi tuber
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 cups grated coconut

Wash gabi thoroughly.
Bore a hole on each tuber top and scrape out flesh without destroying shape of tuber.
Mix gabi meat with brown sugar and coconut.
Stuff gabi shells with mixture and cook in a pan of water until done.
Pare gabi, slice and serve.
Serves 6.

3/4 cup kamote
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
5 calamansi, squeezed
2 cups grated cassava

Boil kamote and mash.
Add sugar and a little amount of water to moisten mixture.
Add calamansi juice and mix well.
Set aside.
To the grated cassava, add a little sugar and water and set aside.
Form kamote mixture and cassava mixture into balls.
Insert kamote balls into cassava balls and fry until brown.
Roll in sugar and serve.

4 cups water
1 cup dried munggo
2 cups coconut milk (second extraction)
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups malunggay leaves
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
2 tablespoons cut green onions
1/2cup pure coconut milk.

Heat water; as soon as it boils, add munggo.
Simmer for about half an hour until tender.
Add dilis, second extraction of coconut milk and salt.
Cook 10 minutes.
Add malunggay, tomatoes and onions.
Cook 4 minutes.
Add pure coconut milk and cook for another minute.
Serves 6.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
2-1/2 cups grated buko meat
1 cup coconut water
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
3 boiled crabs, cut into halves
2 tablespoons green onions

Sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and buko.
Add water and season with salt.
Add crabs.
Cover and cook 10 minutes.
Drop green onions and cook 2 minutes longer before removing from fire.
Serves 6.

6 segments garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup fine flaked fish
2 cups cut sitaw (2" lengths)
3 eggplants, quartered
3 cups sliced squash
Soy Sauce
1-1/2 cups bago leaves

Sauté garlic, onion and tomatoes in oil.
Add flaked fish, enough water and simmer.
Add sitaw, eggplant and squash.
Season to taste.
Add bago leaves and simmer until done.
Serves 6.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Day In The Life

All the people I have encountered so far paint a dreary picture of their own individual economic conditions. The helpers we have engaged during our stay are mostly out of work and quite insistent that we hire then on a regular basis so they can feed their families. The carpenters are the same. The ones hired are out of work and are very glad to find work, whatever work is available. The business entrepreneurs chime in with the same woes. Business is bad, sales are down, and prices for producers are very volatile and most of the times, not good enough to be sustainably profitable.

Except for one.

He used to have a thriving appliance business but according to him, he is just bidding his time before he gets out of the business But he has one good "cash crop" that guarantees good sales and no bad debts. He has deployed in most towns of the eastern portion of the province, what are called videoke machines, at five pesos a pop. Drop a fiver and one can sing along for a few minutes, away from the dreary problems of daily living. He said he has hundreds of them scattered in the province.

And in the world of karaoke machines, the latest is now a DVD player with over 14,000 songs crammed in one DVD disc, showing many pretty petite Chinese ladies in their bikinis, cavorting around different beaches most probably located in mainland China.

One can take this home and spend one's remaining days going through the thousands of songs, available at the push of some buttons.

So, in a nutshell, our compatriots continue to find ways to parry the daily onslaught of hardships and sing the night away, accompanied by a couple of cheap light beer. At 20 pesos a pop.

Aside from this, everything else is heavenly, especially when one is perched atop Dahilayan Barrio in Manolo Fortich, watching the lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, red pepper, etc. grow and eating them dipped in vinegar.

And as I end this, I sit amidst a bunch of shrieking kids playing video games in an internet cafe boasting of over 40 PCs crammed in a little space, as much space as one can muster when one locates very close to a big crowded school like Liceo.

So, rest well because all's well.

Recipes from Central Mindanao - Region XII

Rounding out our parade of recipes so far focused on Mindanao, we take pride in detailing some noted recipes from our inland brothers from Central Mindanao - Region XII, completing our tour of the entire big island.

After this, we shall be visiting the Visayas regions with their equally tantalizing array of recipes born and mastered as only their people could create and concoct.

But for this series, some may find some familiar names such as molo soup, ginat-an manok, or sotanghon, but rest assured these recipes are prepared as only those from this region are noted to do.

1 sandwich loaf, unsliced
1-1/2 cups chopped cooked ham
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup pickle relish
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
6 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped salted peanuts
- Pickles, cucumber and tomato slices for garnishing

Remove crust from loaf
Slice horizontally into four pieces.
Blend ham separately with crushed pineapple, with pickles, with chopped tomatoes.
Spread pineapple-ham on top layer, tomato-ham on center, pickles-ham on bottom.
Wrap in wax paper and chill overnight.
To make coating, beat margarine and mayonnaise until smooth.
Spread over loaf.
Sprinkle with peanuts.
Garnish with pickles, cucumber and tomato slices.

PIARUN (Piyar-ren)
15 tanglad leaves
1 medium dalag, cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 teaspoons crushed tumeric
1 tablespoon onion, sliced
1 cup thin cocomilk
1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Pound together:
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced sacorab (shallot bulb)
4 pieces crushed siling labuyo
1 cup cocomilk, thick

Line pan with tanglad leaves and arrange fish.
Put in the rest of the ingredients except the thick coconut milk.
Cook over brisk fire for 5 minutes and continue cooking over low heat for 30 minutes.
Add thick coconut milk and boil 2 minutes.
Serve hot. Serves 6.

1/4 kilo ground pork
1/2 cup flaked chicken meat
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped white onion
- salt, toyo and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped, shelled shrimp
3"x3" square molo wrappers

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onions
15 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Mix all filling ingredients together.
Set aside half for the broth and wrap the rest by teaspoonfuls with molo wrappers.
Sauté garlic and onions.
Add remaining half of stuffing mixture and cook for 3 minutes.
Add chicken broth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer 3 minutes before dropping in molo.
When done, add chopped green onion.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 hear garlic, crushed
1 piece duyaw or yellow ginger, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 spring chicken, cut into serving portions
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups thin cocomilk
2 fresh siling labuyo, crushed
1 cup thick cocomilk

Sauté garlic, ginger, onion and chicken.
Add salt.
Cook for a while then add thin cocomilk and siling labuyo.
Cook until meat in tender and the sauce thickens.
Add thick cocomilk and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve hot.

1/2 kilo ground pork
1/2 kilo ground shrimp
2 onions, chopped fine
5 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 chicken
1/2 cup ham
1/2 kilo sotanghon
2 heads garlic, crushed
1 onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooking oil
- Patis
- Seasoning
- Chicken broth
- Green onions

Mix the pork, shrimps, onion, eggs, flour, salt and pepper until well blended.
Heat cooking oil in a pan and add this mixture.
Steam for 1 hour.
When done, cool and cut into cubes.
Boil the chicken and ham. When tender, flake into small pieces.
Soak the sotanghon first for 1 hour in water.
Dip in boiling water, and then drain.
Cut into desired lengths.
Sauté the garlic. When brown, remove and set aside.
Add the onion, flaked chicken and ham.
Season with patis and seasoning.
Add some chicken broth and then the sotanghon.
Garnish with fried garlic and green onions.

2 cups lobster meat (2 cans, 6 ounces each)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup enriched flour
1/3 cup butter/margarine
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 teaspoons paprika
3-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sherry wine
1/4 kilo elbow macaroni
1/ 2 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup melted butter

Cut lobster meat in small pieces and sauté in 1/4 cup butter.
For sauce, melt 1/3 cup butter or margarine in large saucepan.
Blend in flour, salt, pepper and paprika.
Add milk gradually, stirring constantly; cook until thickened.
Add lobster meat and sherry wine.
Cook macaroni in boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
Add macaroni to lobster mixture.
Turn into lightly greased 2-quart casserole.
Sprinkle top with cheese.
Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over top of casserole.
Bake in moderate oven (350degF) until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and delicately browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
Serves 6.

Recipes from Southern Mindanao - Region XI

Our southern neighbors, which include the huge provinces of Davao and Cotabato, reflect their cultural diversities in their exotic recipes, for which these places are noted.

5 cups boiling water
1 cup dried munggo
1/2 cup sliced tomatoes
1 cup flaked smoked fish
3 cups sliced eggplant
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups kangkong leaves

Add munggo to the boiling water and let simmer for half an hour or until tender.
Add tomatoes, flaked smoked fish (tinaponon) and eggplant.
Bring to a boil.
Season with salt.
Add kangkong leaves and cook 3 minutes longer.

6 medium slices dalag fillet
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons kalamansi juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Dash of pepper
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cracker crumbs
1 cup oil for frying
2 tablespoons sliced onions
1/2 cup sliced tomatoes

Marinate fillet in soy sauce, kalamansi juice, garlic, pepper and salt.
Drain and set aside marinade for the preparation of sauce.
Roll fillet in crumbs.
Fry in deep fat over moderate heat until fish is well done.
Sauté garlic drained from marinade in two tablespoons of oil.
Add onion, tomatoes and marinade.
Cook 2 minutes longer.
Serve on rolletes, Six servings.

PAKLAY (Davao)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/2 cup each of cooked and sliced pork (liempo), kidney, spleen, heart and liver
1/4 cup native vinegar
2 cups broth
1 cup cubed, unripe pineapple
3/4 cup sliced gre
en and red pepper
2-1/2 teaspoons salt

Sauté garlic, ginger, onion, pork and variety meats.
Add vinegar and broth.
Bring to a boil.
Add pineapple and pepper.
Season with salt.
Cook 5 minutes longer.
Serve hot. Six servings.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1 cup shredded young corn
7 cups water
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups litub (sea-shell)
3 cups malunggay leaves

Sauté garlic, onion, and corn.
Add water and cook until corn is almost tender.
Season with salt.
Bring to a boil and add litub.
Cook 10 minutes.
Add malunggay leaves and cook 5 minutes longer.
Serve hot. Six servings.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Recipes from Western Mindanao Region IX

In our next series of local recipes, we present this time those from Western Mindanao Region IX

(Curry Manok Iban Talum)

1 spring chicken, cut into serving pieces
1 tablespoon salt
- Cooking oil for frying
1/2 cup chopped onion
2-1/2 cups cocomilk (2nd extraction)
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 pieces eggplant, cut into serving pieces
1/2 cup pure cocomilk
1 teaspoon salt
- Dash of pepper

Season chicken with salt, fry and set aside.
Saute onion, add chicken, thin cocomilk and curry powder.
Cook for the few minutes.
Add eggplant, cook until sauce thickens.
When almost dry, add pure cocomilk.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot. 6 servings.


2 tablespoons flaked, boiled dried fish
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pieces crushed siling labuyo
1/2 cup pure coconut milk
- Dash of pepper
1 medium cucumbers thinly cut lengthwise
2 medium tomatoes, sliced crosswise

Mix above ingredients except cucumber and tomatoes.
Arrange cucumber in a dish, then pour over coconut milk mixture.
Garnish with tomatoes before serving.


2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon pamapa
1/4 kilo beef with bones
8 cups rice washing
1 tablespoon salt
6 stalks of petsay

Saute pamapa and beef for 5 minutes.
Add rice washing, cover and cook till meat is tender.
Season with salt.
Drop petsay and cook 3 minutes.

Mix and pound together:
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped tumeric
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
4 pieces siling labuyo
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 part whole coconut, roasted to dark brown


2 tablespoons kalamansi juice.
1 tablespoon toyo
2 teaspoons salt
- Dash of pepper
5 tablespoons cooking oil
6 slices meat
1 medium onion, sliced into rings

Marinate meat in kalamansi juice, toyo, salt and pepper.
Fry meat in moderate heat for 3 minutes.
Turn and cook 3 minutes longer, then set aside.
Fry onion rings in fat left in pan.
Add toyo mixture and bring to a boil.
Pour heated mixture over steak before serving.

To The Migration-prone Filipinos: Where to Go?

As an ex-pat retracing old haunts in the old homeland, one inexorably finds the issue of emigration not only as a hot-button issue, but takes on front and center when discussion centers on the current politics and economic prognoses of this islands nation.

No question that emigration has been a familiar resident to the typical psyche of the Filipino for a long time, maybe dating back to pre-history. And the several migration waves to the US mainland during the 40 odd years of the American regime readily and unquestionably comes to mind. History is wont to point to the start of the 60's as yet another watershed in this migration to American soil, this time made up mostly of professionals since the earlier ones were deigned as composed of menial workers, or sacadas, collectively recruited for the plantations and other agricultural endeavors in the mainland.

And for decades, emigration in the Philippines had always been discussed in this context, that when one decides to leave the country, whether for economic reasons or otherwise, the most likely destination would be the fabled land of milk and honey, the United States. Europe and other more progressive Asian nations may have also figured as likely destinations, but definitely in very insignificant numbers.

Even in the Western Hemisphere, Canada and the Central and South American countries did not figure prominently. Only the United States. And there was a justifiably good reason for this. The US was most liberal and open to migration coming from most nations of the world, while other recipient nations were not as hospitable and accommodating. And this continues to be the norm to this day.

Other countries today may balk at this assessment and point to their more liberalized policies on migration. Countries like Canada, Australia, and maybe even, tiny New Zealand, may unfurl and glowingly advertise their welcome mat to the hordes of actual and potential immigrants from the far corners of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and maybe even from parts of the old Eastern Europe, but the proof of the pudding still is in the eating.

Simply dissect and examine the compositions of these countries' populations and the scores of immigration applications received and continue to be received by them. This should undoubtedly paint the true picture of how their words have been translated to action. It is one thing to advertise a country's desire to be open-handed in extending its blessings to the "the tired and huddled masses" but quite another to gauge the actions it has taken to bring it about.

The US lives this, and then some, when one considers the millions of illegals that continue trekking through its northern and southern borders, many of them from origins sometimes unknown. Not to mention those who enter the legal way but extend their stays illegally.

Though at the present time, there is a gathering school of thought on the need to stem this almost unrestricted tide of migrants, the collective conscience of the American people is quite conflicted since many of them also can point to their own past of illegal entries and initial stays. Even securing its wide borders has blossomed into a very delicate contentious issue, a common fodder during election cycles.

No doubt some of these countries, such as Canada and maybe Australia, and some European nations, may already show noticeable and/or significant shifts in their populations' breakdowns as a result of the world-wide clamor for affluent nations to open their doors to migrants, or at least temporary workers, from more distressed areas. But as far as I know, it is still only the US that can boast to this day that its population is made up essentially of immigrants from across the far reaches of the world - from Ethiopia, Somalia, to Burma, New Guinea; from France to Ukraine; from the Philippines to Indonesia; you name it, and they have it.

I am quite amused to relate that tiny Norway of almost 5 million population can still say that its population is largely homogeneous; but oh, there is a steady stream of migrants, though mostly from neighboring countries such as Holland and Finland. Any wonder then that this postage-stamp country continues to be adjudged by international groups such as the UN as the "best" country to live in, scoring high in most categories such as low crime rates, good schools, etc. The US usually gets the cellar places among more developed affluent nations.

In spite of all these, telltale conditions and immigration policies that conventional wisdom would readily judge as negatively impacting on one nation's health and continued prosperity, the US nonetheless continues to post figures and stats that buck this bit of folklore. The US economy continues to be the most vibrant and brisk among all the developed nations. While most European nations are content to point to an anemic GDP growth in the 1's and 2's, this lumbering behemoth, the US, unerringly continues to post high 3's and 4's. Mighty Canada's economic health is quite dependent on its next-door neighbor if the trade figures are to be believed. As a matter of fact, defense of Canada and the entire continent is made secure no thanks to American steel and willpower. It is noted that New York City has as many police officers as Canada's entire military.

And Mexico, on the southern border? Needless to say, the underground economy provided by its citizens illegally in the US provides the life jacket to keep its own lop-sided economy, occasioned by extreme poverty brought about by an inept and corrupt government, afloat and on even keel.

It thus greatly saddens me to notice some voices in the old homeland, voices emanating mostly from the "educated" elite (in the Philippine context, as compared to the affluent elite), gratuitously putting down the US not only with uncalled-for comments but derogatory statements usually attributed to dubious or partial sources or those sources with personal axes to grind against it.

Legitimate disagreement should always be welcomed and not stifled for it enhances discussions and brings about more brainstorming ideas into the table. But hateful or incendiary rhetoric, not addressing issues or those founded on unexamined premises or biases, should be avoided. As the good book of a' Kempis states, if one must talk, talk about things that edify. Avoid superfluous rhetoric. What possible good could come out of those? What defiles a man is not what is outside of him, but those that come out from his own mouth, the good book chimes in.

To unequivocally declare that Philippine professionals who are caught in menial jobs in their adopted country in their earnest search for a better life are considered "lucky", is at best cruel and unfounded. FilAm and Filipino professionals can be found in many US companies, appointive or elective positions in government, and even as entrepreneurs.

And another, for one to declare that one other country provides a voice to the ordinary citizen while the US does not, is at least grossly misinformed, or worse, intellectually dishonest. First amendment rights are almost sacrosanct in the US, to the point of being considered licentious.

True, that universal health care rains on every citizen the many benefits of medicine and its many leading edge technologies, but realities give those sponsoring it justifiable causes to re-examine it in the areas of sustainability, and even on fairness and equity. Socialized medicine has not yet come to the US, not because it is a greedy and unmindful society, but because it constantly worries about the unintended repercussions that could impact on its long-term sustainability.

Most of Europe, and yes, Canada, too, do practice socialized medicine but one would be remiss not to mention that their continued practice has been noted to expose the sponsoring countries to its vulnerabilities - in the areas of exorbitant tax rates impacting on individual entrepreneurship, the incipient inabilities to render efficient and fast medical services under government-sponsored and/or -dictated programs, and others.

At many times, learning from the experiences of other countries may be the better part of wisdom in a country's conduct.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Country Woes

I am an expat who is on a three-month sojourn to the old homeland. Motivated by a personal agenda, all intended to improve and enhance my personal capabilities to indulge in the avowed task of being able to help others and myself in the country where I was born, educated, and I worked for a time.

And after already a month into the trimester, I have tallied that I have garnered some modest successes in some predetermined areas, such as financially incrementing my holdings in our fast-growing credit union; enhancing the values of my real estate holdings by making cosmetic repairs and value-adding improvements; and initiating plans to invest more in our commercial building endeavors with the end in view of generating more rental income; and other similar investments/expenditures designed to position us both to earn more and thus, improve the overall value of our estate, and help those less unfortunate.

In fine, I could say that things are looking up and the future is quite rosy. I find myself not having any plausible or discernible reason to think that being in this country would be a big disadvantage for me, taking into account the fact that I have spent the last 26 years of my life and that of my family in the United States.

Granted that my initial reason was not because of purely economic imperatives, however, part of the reason for leaving was to try to live and work abroad with the scheming notion that exerting the same amount of passion, sweat, and dedication focused to the then current job, I could earn more working in the US. The fact that the wife was an American citizen made it easier to decide to try something different.

Admittedly, also factored into the decision to migrate were the frustrations and cynicism then experienced in the job. Idealistic pursuits, honed and inebriated by years of study under the Jesuit motto, man/woman for others, that could not find place and fulfillment in work. Still, I left the old country as a member of its working class, solely dependent on livelihood to support family and myself. Though contented with the material benefits accorded by work, it was then thoroughly threshed out and decided that living and working for a while in the US would be a welcomed and personally advantageous change.

And so it was. And now, 26 years later, I am back in the old country thinking and acting much like the way it was, though now sporting a foreign citizenship. Getting re-acclimatized to the humid weather. Being indifferent to the silly and at times, abhorrent, politics of the country. But experiencing a lot of countrified goodness, downright humility, unspoiled simplicity, spontaneous helpfulness, etc., in the locals I have reacquainted with. Of course, abject poverty and most dire deprivation daily stare one in the face most everywhere one goes, heightened and made more pronounced by the life experienced in the first world. Definitely, many things are a lot worse than when I left the country. There are also more people in the same places that used to be populated by very much less. Worse, talks of citizens leaving the country for greener pastures abroad fill and electrify the air.

Still, I am of the mind that Filipinos belong to the Philippines. It is their only proper place, however messy and unrecognizable it may now seem and look. In most countries where Filipinos gravitate, my experiences and studies suggest to me that many find it difficult to assimilate because their innate desires and qualities to continue to be Filipinos make that task that much harder. They want to remain Filipinos and will only give up their Filipino-ness in areas where they really have to to survive. For the most part, they want to remain and be identified as Filipino. Most continue to adamantly pine that someday they will be back in the old homeland. Such irony, if you ask the natives in those countries, who assume that migrating to their respective countries presupposes that the immigrant desires to give up the old culture to assume a new one.

That long premise done with, though I would say in a rather long-winded and ineffectual way, I now say that I was taken aback by a blog entry I read in the Sassy Lawyer, where the author opened herself up and poured out the seeming initial dilemma in her family regarding the husband's desire to migrate to another country.

Having read her blogs and many of her most loyal following for at least a year, one couldn't find a more cohesive pack of Filipinos, standing tall and proud for Filipino-ness, warts and all, in peace and turmoil, the country against the world, especially against the perceived arrogance and indifference of a number of first world countries and their bungling leaders.

But why the abrupt change in heart? It is not for me to get involved, of course. But I am curious. As expressed, the desire to migrate for one thing, stems from the goals of providing a more secure and opportunity-laden future for the kids and for their own golden years. As theorized, migrating to another country, most probably to a first world one, would considerably improve the chances of attaining these goals.

In my most humble estimation, this seeming dilemma can be resolved if one examines how each individual person perceives the "journey of life". How one defines the purposes and goals of life and living in general determines to a great extent how one views or adapts to one's immediate environs, and on a broader context, to one's country. Country, not just as a political construct and/or as an abstraction, but as one where one thrives and interacts with people and environment, and everything else in between.

Is the journey of life perceived as a smooth sail on a most hospitable sea caressed by friendly winds, or is it one done amidst treacherous waters where danger lurks at every turn or change of winds? Stated differently, is life one big test and trial that will incessantly stretch one's indomitability? Or is it one where one expects a yeoman's share of peace, tranquillity, prosperity, goodness, etc. to settle on and bless one's family before one departs to the great beyond?

Is the actual attainment of the goals, rather than the manifold but resolute and continued attempts at accomplishing the goals, the greater and more important measure of one's life here on earth?

Where is the "eye" to one's intentions?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Your obligatory blog on Recipes of the Old Homeland

Any cursory reading of blogs authored by compatriots, whether still domiciled in the old homeland or abroad, will either provide snippets of time-worn recipes longingly remembered from a storied past where food played such a focal role in either growing up or simply in living and interacting with other people, or for others who are more knowledgeable, passionate and thorough, allocate a formal venue for detailing varied recipes, complete with pictures of the finished creative products. No doubt, food and its partaking play a central theme in any social life, or simply as a means of breaking the ice in social settings, not much different with the subject of the weather as a safe intro to any initial conversation with any new acquaintance.

Maybe as a result of the islands very diverse peoples and local cultures, isolated from each other by wide expanse of water or rough terrain, the corresponding local cuisine are just as varied, exotic, and reflective of the local cultures.

I am of the mind that sites that do either regularly or sporadically feature such recipes usually fail to attribute the geographical origins of such specific recipes. While the dish itself maybe universally known as such, specific recipes are indigenous to the specific localities that they originate. Thus, a dish in Luzon may be prepared with specified ingredients in a specific way, while the same dish may be prepared differently in different areas in Mindanao, with their own specific ingredients not necessarily the same as the one in Luzon. Needless to state, the dish will be known in the distinct dialects of the unique areas. To illustrate, Dinugo-an is known as Sampayna in Mindanao.

This then is an attempt to provide proper attribution to the recipes. Full credit and origination are given to the Food and Nutrition Institute of the National Science Development Board, whose main concern is food and nutrition. And the attribution of such recipes was then based on studies made by the above body.

And to start off, and the choice was easy, recipes from our beloved Northern Mindanao Region X. Later blogs will detail other recipes distinct to the other regions of the archipelago.

3 cups of tangkong stems and leaves, cut into 2" lengths
1/2 cup sliced tomatoes
1 tablespoon sliced onion
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 cup fresh alamang
3/4 cup coconut milk (1st extraction)
2 tablespoons kalamansi juice
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
6 pieces banana leaves, wilted

Wash and cut tangkong stems and leaves into 2-inch lengths.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Wrap mixture in 2 layers of banana leaves, securing all edges with string of banana stalk.
Cook over live charcoal for 10 minutes. 5 minutes on each side.
Serve hot. Six servings.

1/2 cup sliced pork liver
1/2 cup sliced pork, medium fat
3 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic
1 cup sliced upo
1 cup sliced patola
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
1 teaspoon sliced ginger
1 small ginger leaf
1 stalk tanglad leaves`

Place liver and pork in a saucepan.
Add water, salt, and garlic and bring to a boil.
When meat is tender, add upo, patola, onion, tomatoes and ginger.
Cook for 5 minutes.
Add ginger leaf and tanglad and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve hot. Six servings.

6 slices pork chops
6 cups rice washings
2 medium gabi tubers, quartered
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
3 cups cut sitaw (2" lengths)
1 tablespoon sliced sweet pepper
1 tanglad leaf
1 sprig yerba buena
1/4 cup green onions

Boil meat in rice washing for 40 minutes.
Add gabi tubers and salt.
Cook 5 minutes.
Add sitaw and pepper.
Cook 3 minutes.
Add herbs, tomatoes, and green onions.
Cook 3 minutes longer.
Serve hot. Six servings.

10 tanglad leaves
2-1/2 cups cut young nangka, (2" x 1" wedges)
2 cups coconut milk, 2nd extraction
3 tablespoons sliced onion
1 tablespoon crushed ginger
1 tablespoon crushed tumeric
2 tablespoons bagoong-sauce
3 teaspoon ona (whole fermented fish)
1 cup coconut milk, 1st extraction
1/2 cup sliced tomatoes
1 small tumeric leaf
1 leaf oregano
1 sprig yerba buena

Line bottom of a pan with tanglad leaves.
Arrange nangka in pan and add 2nd extraction of coconut milk, onion, ginger and tumeric.
Cook 20 minutes.
Season with fish sauce and whole fish of fermented bagoong.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Cook 2 minutes longer.
Serve hot. Six servings.

1 cup cut pork's small intestines (cleaned, boiled and cut crosswise, 1cm lengths)
1 cup cut pork's lung (cleaned, boiled and cut into small cubes)
2 tablespoons cooking fat
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons sliced onions
1 teaspoon sliced ginger
2 tablespoons sliced tomatoes
1/2 cup cut pork liver (cubes)
3 cups sliced banana heart
1 cup vinegar mixed with 2 cups pork's blood
2-1/2teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olasiman stems and leaves

Boil intestines and lungs until tender or for about 30 minutes.
Sauté garlic, onion, ginger and tomatoes
Add intestines, lungs, liver and banana heart.
Add well-mixed vinegar-blood mixture and bring to a boil without stirring for about 15 minutes.
Add salt, stir and add olasiman.
Cook 5 minutes longer.
Serve hot. Six servings.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ears young corn, grated and ground
- enough water to cover for boiling

Combine sugar, powdered milk and baking powder.
Add corn and mix thoroughly.
Pile 2 cornhusks and put in 2 tablespoons of the mixture.
Wrap and tie.
Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the mixture.
Arrange in a saucepan and add just enough water for boiling.
Cook for 35 minutes
Six servings, 2 pieces per serving.