Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Instead of Hills and Rivers

Instead of taking pictures of hardly-changing hills and rivers of the old homeland as part of a nostalgic trip as suggested by one equally forlorn friend, I opt instead to write about things that have changed since we left in what seems as a generation ago.

During our days we never imagined that having or getting dogs would be initiated through a business, a thriving business at that. When we wanted dogs we simply waited for friends' or relatives' dogs to have litters, then we asked for one or two. And our concept of having dogs as pets then was generally as watchdogs, or as "askals" letting them loose in the neighborhood. Watchdogs forever alert but really ignored to the side, or as “askals” go, like an orphaned kid who may come home for need of scraps or whatever.

Now pet shops are clearly visible around here, in the malls and elsewhere. Where birds, cats, dogs, fish, or whatever live animal will catch the onlookers’ fancies. And trailing them are the accoutrements necessary for their care and maintenance – cages, carriers, feeds, vitamins, glass tanks, etc.

Since I wanted a dog in the house, simply as one barking dog who will alert the occupants of any intruder or what, I looked for one and found this.

Reasons for choice? One of course was the looks. This is a mix, or a mongrel, of a Shih-Tzu and Terrier. Simply Terrier I was told. The better reason? It was cheap at 4,000 pesos, especially compared to a pure breed pup that was selling at 22,000 pesos. On earlier searching expeditions, I found out that these dogs do not sell cheaper than 6-7 thousand pesos locally. Thus, 4K was a good bargain.

Thus she will now be called Princess, in response to my daughter who has a Maltese named Prince.

Monday, April 21, 2008

And The Lights All Went Out . . .

At exactly 6 AM Sunday, the world stopped for our part of the city, with no electric power for the next 12 hours. This fortuitous event coming without benefit of any prior notice or warning. As is typical I am told, it just happens.

While 6AM may not be the time to start worrying about heat, nevertheless Mr. Sol wasted no time and began exerting its excruciating dominance by the time 8AM rolled in. No problem because I did not have to stay long inside a powerless house. I was set to accompany a couple of young electricians who might be commissioned to finalize the electrical connections to a couple of storeys of a building.

But getting back to the house after that abbreviated chore, it was not long when I started to dribble off sweat from my head, face, and body, even while sitting outdoors to try to cool off. No respite from the quickly sweltering heat. So decided to head on to the mall with a most convenient pretext. I needed new batteries for my camera. The cool ambiance of the mall was such a welcomed delight. Bought the batteries and a few other grocery items all designed to blunt the effects of the heat, like soda, all 3 big plastic bottles of them.

But there are only so much of the mall environs that I can tolerably sustain. Big crowds of total strangers, high-decibel noise, and overall dizziness in the atmosphere tend to bring on ennui for me very quickly. So before long I was out of there, heading where else but home. Had to deposit the groceries.

Again, a few minutes inside the “toaster oven” and heat-precipitated wanderlust had set in. So off I went, getting some immediate relief in the truck’s cooling system.

Bought some clay planters and had them loaded on the truck bed, then I was chugging away toward the city’s main market, Cogon Market, housed in a relatively new building. So crawled to an almost stop around its perimeter and took some quick shots while driving. That’s one of the “beauties” of driving around here – you can go as slow as you want, straddle between lanes, and literally stop in the middle of the road for some errands, like taking pictures.

Having parked in a safe place with my trusty camera case slung tight around my shoulder and positioned for a quick draw, this soldier was ready to walk for some breezy place, to the city’s main cathedral which sits imposingly from a distance on a hilly bend of the river, elevated from the river by at least 10 meters. But what confronted me was not what I had expected – not throngs and throngs of people spilling out into the huge park outside the church, clusters of them milling around the tennis courts situated on the street leading straight to the entrance of the cathedral. And still a lot more gathered around all sides of the church, though many in a festive or a day in the park kind of mood most of these people were actually attending the Mass services in progress inside. But by looking at the pictures one would not get the holy impression that the people were here to attend Sunday church services. So are Filipinos by nature religiously inclined? Looking and judging by the crowds one would think so.

Big crowds of strangers, disturbing high-decibel noise, and overall dizziness in the atmosphere, all but prodded me again to move on after taking the shots. And after all the 12 hours of power disruption was almost done. I should be getting home for some air-conditioned rest and comfort. And indeed this entry is written with no more traces of the aggravation this day heaped upon me.

The Almighty sure works wonders, reminding one of the wisdom of “this too will pass”.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Still More Quick Takes On This Slow Journey

A People Pure or Compromised?

More random musings from an ex-pat long gone from the old hometown, and earnestly trying to rediscover it but necessarily using a different analytical prism, and with changed attitudes and perceptions acquired form living too long in a first-world country.

But this early on I admit that had I been earnest enough I should have been forewarned and alerted. Forewarned and alerted by the different ways that home-grown compatriots reveal themselves in the ways they write, expressed their attitudes and values, as revealed for the world in the Internet through blogs and etc.

No sooner after deplaning does one get assaulted with the unique ways things are done in the old homeland. Low-level bureaucrats of either the airline or airport expect extra compensation for simply doing what is listed in their already short list of duties, at most times with hand and palm up ready to be greased. What for? – so your transfer luggage which is anyway tagged to your final destination can be cleared for loading to a domestic connecting flight. And while being manually frisked as a security measure upon entering the domestic airport, your searcher cannot help throw around blatant suggestions for some pasalubong, or snack money, or something because he welcomes you back. And do the restroom watchers/cleaners qualify as low-level bureaucrats? One asks because they appear to also be riding the gravy train, asking something in return for handing over to you a few pieces of toilet paper for your after use.

But once in the provinces, things change dramatically. Services are rendered without any perceptible traces of a string attached. Everybody addresses you with a disarming smile and a Sir or a Ma’am, and the addresser may be a professional, a professor, or your ubiquitous domestic helper, or your low-level bureaucrats in city or provincial governments. Decent tipping or gratuity in most eating places is almost a non-practice, regardless of the services rendered. Surprisingly, the waiters expect no more or less.

And yet in most instances, poverty stares at you uglier than you can find within a certain radius of the nice places in Makati and other upscale areas. Beggars and mendicants of all sorts abound in the provinces – in public places, along heavily-trafficked main streets, near stores, even in your own residences when itinerant ones travel their routes. Traffic stops are littered with them, some without limbs crawling about risking life and limb (oops, sorry) daily for a few tingling pesos, and oh I refuse to forget, under the blistering sun made worse with the hot emanations coming from concrete roads. Idle kids will pool around you, looking for something to do for you in exchange for a few coins. Anything at all. Dispose of your garbage, push your car, clean your car, your shoes, etc.

But amidst all these, many still cling to their innate dignity and earned self-esteem, and thus, will no doubt resort to instead begging you to give him or her work to earn their keep. And they do very good work, maybe not even compensated properly, fairly, or justly. Just as along as there is gainful work to be done, regardless of how thankless, hazardous, or risky. Or how unjust the work environment may be. Whether they are carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, and many of them anyway, have all of these skills rolled into one person.

Extreme penury also does some strange things to people. Some would gladly go through your dirtiest garbage to scrounge or fish for whatever value can be mined from it – any steel material, copper, any recyclable, magazines, anything at all, including but not limited to rotted wood or lumber, or any used household item.

But the resultant dark and rarely-discussed underbellies of such a deprived society show themselves in more subtle though visually arresting manners – like most houses are built like fortresses or prisons to preclude unwanted intrusions. All because petty thievery and/or porch climbing is as common as people taking a breezy stroll along quiet neighborhoods scouring around precisely with such a nefarious design in mind. Outside electric and water meters are not only bolted down but caged in iron bars. It is not enough to have high concrete fences topped with iron grilles and embedded broken glass, barbed wire has to be added on top of all these. I often wonder what the population of dogs is in the old hometown, and I do mean watchdogs, and not lapdogs or pet dogs. Dogs to bark and hopefully bite when intruders come and the owners are asleep or away.

And of course, corruption in government is so endemic and known it is taken for granted, so SOP that it is actually called SOP. Thus, you pay SOP to get normal business done, or to get scores settled or clandestinely ignored.

I once dropped a cheap plastic pedometer clipped to my shorts when I was jogging with scores of other, both young and senior, physical exercise enthusiasts. Jogging breathlessly around the dusty public oval I noticed the loss almost immediately upon checking my progress, so continued around the oval hoping to spot the contraption where it fell. It was completely gone from sight within a minute. Waited and looked still more, no results, no signs of it, completely vanished. A very common expected occurrence. Finders keepers practiced to the utmost degree. So I mischievously smirked and went my way. Another time, I had somebody removed a rusted angular-steel frame that once held a business signage of an old tenant in the building we owned. Laid it at the back of the pick-up truck and drove home. The truck was parked outside the fence while I went inside for lunch. Going back to the truck after lunch, the frame was gone, the perpetrator leaving little scratches on the truck bed as telltale signs of the deed. Another common expected occurrence. Another previous time, the items purloined were flattened cartons tied together and some old newspapers. Even the tin cans temporarily used as planters among hedges were gone, the soil with the tender plants emptied to the ground. All in a day’s work and experience.

Are these agonized perception of twisted aberrations or simply stark
versions of reality brought upon by harsh conditions?

Come to think about it, the poor cannot really be faulted or condemned for corruption, because after all they wield no power, whether real or imagined. It has to be those who wield some power, however, minute who will milk that power to derive the most good for themselves. Quite a simple equation really. Using greed, subterfuge, and whatever else necessary to survive and decently prosper in an environment where only the moneyed and rich appear to progress and thrive.

Nothing more than just an honest rendition of some laudable or ugly segments of everyday reality in Philippine society. Maybe the same is true in any comparable society.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More Quick Takes From This Slow Long Journey: A Potpourri

More rummaging through old stuff left behind brought on another discovery, tucked among old medical films was this sketch done by yours truly prior to marriage with the subject.

Now compare with this one done for my late mother by a more professional artist.

A world of difference making me grudgingly more humbled, but, you got it right, I still prefer the first one because it came from my own inexperienced hands.

Walked to a location in town to purchase some paint materials and had to walk through the premier park of the city, segmented and girded like city blocks into several sections. Took these pictures on the easternmost section of Divisoria Park, called Magsaysay Park, primarily because the huge, imposing, and bronzed statue of the late president stands elevated a few meters for all to see and crane their necks.

At mid-eight o’clock in the morning, it was quite revealing to witness that the nocturnal residents of the plaza have not really been done with their night’s rest, many still stretched out in and close to the statue, oblivious or literally dead to the scurry of activities of people waiting for their rides or other friends, of noisy public vehicles with diesel engines screeching and clunking while negotiating the labyrinthine perimeter of the entire plaza impatiently honking and weaving as they mindlessly head toward their separate destinations with their human cargoes. Of course, those denizens were even dead to the ubiquitous white-heat sunlight that was beginning to heat up and induce sweat in the many passersby, and with a stern warning not to be disregarded or taken for granted.

Though as shown in one picture, a close cluster of them had already done with night sleep and were now bantering around, thinking most probably about things they intend to do today, whatever it is they do on a daily basis.

Since I could not very well take their pictures at close range, I had to move away and shoot from a distance unobtrusively and unnoticed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Recipes From Bicol – Region V

This completes the round-up of food recipes from the original 12 regions of the country (Officially, there are now 17 regions since some were broken up into smaller regions). Started in 2005, we commenced with Northern Mindanao and moved up north. Here is the complete round-up of the original 12 regions in the order of publication:

Western Mindanao – Region IX

Northern Mindanao – Region X

Southern Mindanao – Region XI

Central Mindanao – Region XII

Western Visayas – Region VI

Central Visayas – Region VII

Eastern Visayas – Region VIII

Ilocos – Region I

Cagayan – Region II

Central Luzon – Region III

Southern Tagalog – Region IV

Bicol – Region V

So now for the finale we come to the balmy but at times wind-tossed region of Bicol or Bicolandia, which includes an island province clearly belonging to the Visayas.

It occupies the Bicol Peninsula at the southeastern end of Luzon island and some other islands.It now consists of six provinces, namely, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. It has one independent component city, Naga City, and six component cities, Iriga, Legazpi, Ligao, Masbate, Sorsogon, and Tabaco.


12 gabi leaves
3/10 kilo fresh dilis
6 pieces green pepper, cut into strips
2/3 cup pure coconut milk diluted with 1-2/3 cups water
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 small piece crushed ginger

Wrap 2 tablespoons dilis in gabi leaves. Follow the same procedure with the rest of the dilis. Tie the remaining leaves in knots and line them in the bottom of a cooking pan. Add pepper, coconut milk, vinegar, salt and ginger. Place the wrapped dilis on top and let boil for 45 minutes. Six servings.


24 gabi leaves and stems
¼ kilo cooked pork cut into small cubes
½ cub boiled and flaked dried fish
½ cup bagoong alamang
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 pieces siling labuyo, crushed
2/3 cup finely cut green onion
1-1/2 cups pure coconut milk
1-1/2 cups coconut milk (2nd extraction)

Pile four leaves together and put 3 tablespoons of the mixture in center. Wrap and tie with string or strips of banana leaf. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the ingredients. Arrange in a kettle together with the stems and pour the second extraction of coconut milk. Season with the remaining bagoong. Add 1 teaspoon ginger. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours. Six servings.


7/10 kilo yellow kamote, peeled
½ cup brown sugar
3 cups rice flour
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups coconut oil for deep frying

Cut the kamote into strips. Add the sugar and flour to the water and stir until well blended. Combine kamote strips with the flour mixture and mix well with a spoon until well coated. Heat coconut oil in a frying pan. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of kamote and flour mixture into a saucer. Pat to flatten, then from saucer slip into hot cooking oil. Fry until golden brown. Six servings.


1-1/2 cups grated kamoteng-kahoy
1-1/2 cups grated yellow kamote
1-4 cup coconut milk, 1st extraction
7 tablespoons brown sugar
Banana leaves for wrapping

Squeeze the grated kamoteng-kahoy and yellow kamote to extract some of the juice. Add the extract to the coconut milk, then the brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Mix the kamoteng-kahoy and yellow kamote very well and combine with the coconut mixture. Wrap 3 tablespoons of this mixture in a piece of banana leaf (8” x 5”) which has been wilted over an open flame. Tie in pairs and steam for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and serve.


3 medium tomatoes, sliced
6 segments garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 small piece singer, crushed
2 cups coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt
3 medium tilapia or martiniko, cleaned and cut through the back
6 petsay leaves, big

Mix tomatoes, garlic, onion and ginger with coconut milk. Season with salt. Lay tilapia on top of 2 petsay leaves. Season with 2 tablespoons of coco-milk mixture and fold over. Arrange by layers on a sauce-pan. Cover with the remaining coconut milk mixture. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Six servings.


½ cup sliced lungs
½ cup sliced liver
½ cup sliced heart
½ cup water
2 tablespoons lard
6 segments garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon toyo
I teaspoon “paminton”
¼ cup green pepper strips
¼ cup red pepper strips

Boil the first 3 ingredients in water for 5 minutes. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool and chop fine. Sauté garlic and onion. Cook 2 minutes and mix lungs, liver and heart. Add salt, vinegar, toyo, “paminton”, red and green peppers. Cove and cook for 5 minutes. Six servings.


2 tablespoons lard
4 segments garlic, minced
1medium onion, sliced
1 small piece ginger, crushed
2 cups rice washing
1 cup cubed kalabasa
2 cups shelled tulya
1 cup cut kangkong
2 teaspoons salt
6 pieces kalamansi

Sauté garlic, onion, and ginger. Add rice washing. Cover and let boil. Add kalabasa and cook for 5 minutes. Add tulya and kangkong and cook 5 minutes longer. Season with salt. Serve with patis and kalamansi. Six servings.


½ cup pure coconut milk, diluted with ½ cup water
1 cup flaked tulingan, tinapa
1 segment garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
1/8 cup bagoong alamang
2 cups malunggay leaves
3 long green peppers cuts in strips

Boil coconut milk, flaked tinapa, garlic and onion for 10 minutes. Season with bagoong and continue stirring. Add malunggay leaves and strips of green pepper. Cook 5 minutes longer. Serve hot. Six servings.

Final Note:
The partaking of food offers its own pleasures, that makes all the efforts involved in its preparation well worthwhile and worth repeating. Enjoy!

Recipes From Southern Tagalog – Region IV

Now the name for this region may be a bit of a misnomer because of the areas covered by the biggest region in the country. Here’s a geographical description of this area:

Region IV covers the southwestern part of Luzon and encompasses eleven provinces and several cities. It includes the provinces of Aurora, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, and the island provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It is the largest region in the Philippines with a total land area of 9,940.72 sq.kms.

Definitely, not all areas covered could be considered Tagalog in the popular sense, of a people speaking the Tagalog dialect. The island provinces included definitely speak their own local dialects.

So how does the regional cuisine stand as a true representation of the entire region? Well, you get to decide for yourself.


2 tablespoons cooking fat
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup diced ham
½ onion, sliced
Gizzard, liver, blood, heart of one chicken, boiled and cut into strips
5 cups chicken stock
1 can peas
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 hard-cooked egg. Chopped
½ cup croutons (fried bread cubes)

Sauté garlic, ham, onion, giblets, liver, heart and blood. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add peas and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with egg. Serve with croutons. Five servings.


1 medium chicken, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup cooking oil
1 bunch green onion leaves cut fine
2 teaspoons curry
½ cup boiled water chestnuts (halves)
Chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 slices ham, diced

Boil chicken in a mixture of soy sauce and cornstarch. Fry with enough cooking oil. Sauté green onions and curry powder and stir well. Add fried chicken. Mix.
Add water chestnuts and chicken broth. Thicken with cornstarch diluted in a small amount of water. Decorate with ham and green onions. Serve hot. Eight to 10 servings.

About 10 fresh malunggay pods

2 tablespoons cooking fat
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
½ cup sliced tomatoes
1 cup diced boiled pork
½ cup shelled & cut shrimp (slice lengthwise)
2-1/2 cups shrimp juice from pounded heads of shrimps
2 tablespoons bagoong alamang
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced calabasa
1 cup cut green sitaw pods (1-1/2” lengths)

Cut malunggay pods lengthwise into 4 pieces. Slice white pulp including tender seeds. Discard outer covering. Cut pulp into 1-1/2 inch lengths. Sauté garlic, onion and tomatoes. Add pork and shrimps. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Add shrimp juice and boil. Season with bagoong and salt. Add kalabasa and cook 3 minutes. Add malunggay pulp and sitaw. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Six servings.


3 cups cauliflower flowerets
4 tablespoons cooking fat
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
½ cup crab meat from boiled crabs
1 cup rice washing
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon toyo
1 cup carrot, sliced thinly
1 cup sliced cabbage
2 teaspoons cornstarch, blended with 1 teaspoon water
2 sprigs of kintsay

Sauté garlic, onion and crab meat. Add rich washing. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and toyo. Add cauliflower, carrot and cabbage. Cover and cook 4 minutes. Thicken with cornstarch blended with water. After 1 minute, remove from fire and serve hot.


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 tahong
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 tahong. Cook 10 minutes. Add malunggay leaves and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve hot. Six servings.


12 large cabbage leaves separated from head
4 dried Chinese mushrooms
1 chicken breast, boned
12 water chestnuts (apulid)
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 egg for mixture
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs for omelet
3 pieces ham (3” x 3”), cut into strips
2 pieces gherkin pickle, cut into strips
2boiled carrots, cut into strips
10 cups chicken stock

Wash each cabbage leaf separately. Place leaves in strainer and blanch. Soak dried mushrooms 5 minutes in water and remove stems. Chop chicken, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Mix together with minced onions. Eggs and cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside

Separate egg yolks from whites. Beat yolks and whites separately with a fork. Make into paper thin omelets by cooking in slightly greased pan. Cut yellow and white omelets into strips.

Take cabbage leaf and spread with thin layer of chicken mixture. In straight rows, arrange alternate layers of five colors (ham, gherkins, egg white, egg yolks and carrots). Roll like jelly roll, taking care to make each roll as a finger. Make 12 rolls. Arrange in small pan, place in a steamer and steam 30 minutes.

Remove rolls from steamer. Cool. Cut off ends, then slice each roll into one-centimeter pieces. Place slices side by side, lining deep saucer or small cereal dish. Pack center tightly with vegetable trimmings to fill dish. Return to steamer and steam 10 minutes. Just before serving, invert saucer or dish (with contents) into soup tureen; remove saucer. Pour seasoned chicken stock around bouquet.


1 big kanduli, cleaned and cut into serving portions
½ head garlic, crushed
½ cup vinegar
1 teaspoon dilaw (casubha)
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon peppercorn
½ cup coconut milk

Combine fish with garlic, vinegar, dilaw (casubha), salt and peppercorn. If the vinegar is too sour, add water. Add coconut milk and boil until fish is done. Six servings.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recipes From Central Luzon – Region III

Central Luzon comprises of six provinces: Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales, in central Luzon island. In terms of cuisine, it would appear from the list above that Pampanga has the edge in having its savory delights advertised and enjoyed not only locally but globally wherever a perceptible presence of Filipinos can be felt. Even Daly City in Northern California boasts of its own Pampango cuisine restaurant and other uniquely Pampango food products lining the shelves of ethnic grocery stores.


1 large pork pata, sliced
1 cup beer
½ cup dried banana blossoms, cleaned and soaked
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small laurel leaf
Oregano leaves
½ cup vinegar
Salt, soy sauce and pepper to taste
6 pieces saba banana, fried
Brown sugar to taste

Clean pata and place in deep saucepan. Add beer and enough water to cover and cook until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients except bananas and continue cooking. Add bananas and simmer for 5 minutes more. Six servings.


¼ cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 pieces tokwa, cut into cubes
¼ kilo pork, lean, cut into cubes
¼ kilo shrimps, shelled
½ cup shrimp juice
½ cup atsuwete extract
Patis, salt and pepper for seasoning
¼ kilo cabbage, cut finely
¼ kilo bihon, soaked briskly in water
1 teaspoon, minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Green onions
½ cup finely cut kamias
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Heat oil, sauté 1 teaspoon garlic. Add fried tokwa & pork, shrimp and shrimp juice. Season with patis, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to boil. Add cabbage and kintsay and cook for 1 minute. Add bihon and cook until done. Remove from fire. In another skillet sauté the rest of the minced garlic in a little oil until brown, add green onions and kamias. Sprinkle over cooked pansit. Garnish with hard-cooked eggs. Six Servings.


2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon sliced onion
½ cup sliced tomatoes
½ cup shrimps, shelled
1-1/2cups shrimp juice
1-1/2teaspoons salt
Dash of pepper
2 cups cut squash fruit
1 cup cut kamaniang (sitaw) (2” lengths)

Sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and shrimps. Cook 2 minutes and add shrimp juice. Season with salt and pepper. Let boil. Add squash fruit and sitaw. Cook 10 minutes. Six servings.


2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1 cup sliced boiled pork
1 cup cubed pork liver
¾ cup sliced boiled pork heart
¼ cup sliced oiled pork kidney
1 cup broth
1/3 cup vinegar
1-1/2teaspoons salt
½ cup red sweet pepper strips

Sauté garlic, onion, pork, liver, heart and kidney. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add broth, vinegar and salt. Boil and add sweet pepper. Cook 5 minutes longer. Serve hot. Six servings.


½ cup sliced cleaned & cooked small intestines (2” lengths)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 slices lean pork
½ cup sliced pork liver
¼ cup vinegar
2 tablespoons patis
½ cup meat broth

Turn small intestines inside out and rub with salt. Rinse well with water. Boil 2 cups water and add small intestines. Cook over low heat for one hour until tender. Heat cooking oil and brown garlic. Mix in small intestines, pork and liver. Add vinegar, patis and ½ cup meat broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Serve hot. Six servings.


30 pieces talangka
3 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon sliced onion
¼ cup sliced tomatoes
Patis to taste
2 pieces kamias
¼ kilo fresh miki
Green onions and kintsay for garnishing

Wash talangka very well. Extract aligi and set aside. Pound talangka shells until fine. Add water. Strain. Boil stock & set aside. Sauté onion, tomatoes and aligi; season with patis and add to the soup stock. Add kamias and cook until tender. Take out kamias and mash with a little stock. Strain and add to the soup stock. Boil. Add miki and cook 3 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with green onion and kintsay. Serve hot. Six servings.


2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 segments garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon sliced onion
1 cup sliced boiled pork
1 cup munggo sprouts, sorted and washed
½ cup sliced tokwa
½ cup sliced petsay
½ cup sliced cabbage
½ kilo fresh miki
Soy Sauce to taste

Heat cooking oil. Sauté garlic, onion and pork. Add munggo sprouts, simmer, then ad tokwa. Season with soy sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. Add petsay and cabbage. Cook for 2 minutes. Add miki. Cook 3 minutes more. Serve hot. Six servings

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Photo Essay: Cagayan de Oro From Atop

Above the irritating din of both human and vehicular traffic, and the dank air at ground level cooked by a blistering sun, one can view a familiar city differently. Where the relative ages of building structures are clearly brought out by rusted GI sheets, and also their liberal use of timber materials as compared with the more modern use of concrete, steel structures, and more storeys.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recipes From Cagayan – Region II

The Cagayan Valley region is composed of 5 provinces, namely, Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino. Quite an odd combination to form a region but one of its exquisite gourmet prides is a dish delicacy which comes principally from fish which is seasonally found in Cagayan (Ludong). Another exotic dish is one garnished with Himbabao flowers.

But here goes for your feastful delight.


6 pieces fresh fish, cleaned
½ cup cubed pork liver
1-1/2teaspoons salt
3 cups water
2 tablespoons bagoong sauce
1 cup cubed squash
2 cups cut string beans (2” lengths)
1 cup cut eggplant, (slice diagonally)

Salt fish and liver; broil, and set aside. Boil water and bagoong in a saucepan. Add squash, broiled fish and liver. Cook 3 minutes. Add stringbeans, eggplant and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve hot. Six servings.


2 cups fresh dulong
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons sliced onion
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups water
Banana leaves about 7” x 12”
6 pieces kalamansi

Mix first 4 ingredients together. Place ¼ cup of the mixture on two layers of banana leaf. Wrap in the form of a square and tie with a piece of string. Put wrapped fish in pan and add 2 cups of water. Cover and boil 30 minutes over moderate heat. Serve with kalamansi juice. Six servings.


1/3 kilo beef chunks
¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 pieces medium-sized onion, quartered
5 medium-sized potatoes, quartered
3 medium-sized carrots, quartered
½ cup water
¼ cup tomato sauce
½ cup sweet peas
½ cup celery, sliced.

Coat meat with mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Slowly brown in cooking oil in a large skillet, about 20 minutes. Add water and tomato sauce. Cover. Simmer until almost soft for about 1 hour. Add water, bring to a boil and add all the vegetables. Cover and cook 15 minutes longer until tender. Six servings.


4 pieces tamarind
6 cups rice washing
1 small onion, sliced
½ cup sliced tomatoes
6 pieces fresh ludong, cleaned
2 medium eggplants. Sliced
1 cups sliced stringbeans
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups kamote tops

Boil tamarind in 1 cup rice washing. When soft, mash fruit. Strain and add juice to the remaining rice washing. Cover and bring to a boil. Add onion, tomatoes and fish. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Add eggplant, stringbeans and cook for another 3 minutes. Season with salt. Add kamote tops and cook 4 minutes longer. Serve hot. Six servings.


6 pieces fresh fish, cleaned
1-1/2teaspoons salt
2 cups water
2 cups sliced banana heart
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
½ teaspoons chopped ginger
2 teaspoons sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2cups fish and vegetable broth
½ cup sliced tomatoes
Banana leaves, cut 1” wide

Parboil fish with salt in 2 cups water to facilitate flaking. Boil banana blossom in the fish broth for 2 minutes. Drain and chop finely. Reserve broth for cooking fish balls. In a bowl, mix together flaked fish, banana blossoms, garlic, ginger, onion and salt. Form into balls 2” in diameter. Tie with banana leaves. Boil broth and tomatoes in a saucepan. Add fish balls and cook 15 minutes. Serve hot. Six servings.


4 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced onion
½ cup sliced tomatoes
1 cup sliced pork
1 cup dried black-eyed beans, cooked
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups himbabao

Heat water. As soon as it boils, add beans and cook 2 minutes. Set aside for 1 hour. Sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and pork. Add beans including broth. Boil, then simmer until almost soft. Season with salt, cook 4 minutes. Bring to a boil once more and add himbabao flowers. Cook 7 minutes longer. Serve hot. Six servings.


2 cups malagkit rice
1-1/4cups thick coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 pieces green bamboo tube, fresh
Banana leaves, wilted

Soak malagkit rice overnight. Wash and drain. Add coconut milk and salt and cook until malagkit is half done, stirring the mixture to avoid sticking at the bottom of the container. Divide the mixture into two and wrap each portion in banana leaves. Insert inside a freshly cut bamboo tube. Broil bamboo tube over hot charcoal, rotating it slowly until bamboo tube gets burned. Eight servings.

Recipes From Ilocos – Region I

Responding to a moderately sustained interest as shown by hits to this blog, we are continuing our round-up of food recipes categorized according to the different regions of the country, clearly delineating clear diversity not only in customs, mores, and yes, dialects, but also in cuisine.

But first a formal attribution to the recipes highlighted as representatives of the respective regions.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of he National Science Development Board has been continually developing menus and recipes for over 30 years. It is the country’s leading scientific center on basic and applied researches on food and nutrition. It has provided the springboard of present–day actively sustained community nutrition programs.
Region 1 is comprised of the following provinces Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan, all clustered and cradled in the northernmost tip of the big island of Luzon. This bloc popularly would be the land of the Ilokanos and their most distinctive and uniquely identifiable cuisine.


2 tablespoons cooking fat
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon sliced onion
1 teaspoon narrow ginger strips
½ cup cut goat’s intestines (crosswise ½ “ lengths)
½ cup sliced goat’s tripe
¼ cup sliced goat’s heart
¼ cup sliced lapay
¼ cup vinegar
6 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
Dash of pepper
¼ cup sliced liver
1 teaspoon bile juice

Saute garlic, onion and ginger. Add intestines and cook 3 minutes to extract a little fat. Add tripe, heart and lapay. Continue cooking 2 minutes longer. Add vinegar and bring to a boil before adding water. Simmer until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add liver and bile juice and cook 15 minutes longer. Six servings.


1 cup sliced pork liempo
1 large ampalaya, sliced
4 small eggplants
5 pieces okra, sliced
1 teaspoon sliced ginger
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
½ cup sliced tomatoes
¼ cup sliced onion
3 tablespoons bagoong isda, strained
1 cup water

Cook pork in ½ cup water, uncovered, until all water has evaporated. Continue cooking, stir constantly until pork pieces turn golden brown, (sitsaron).

Arrange vegetables in a saucepan, add bagoong, water and simmer until vegetables are just crisp-tender.


6 medium-sized dried pusit, sliced
½ cup cooking oil
1 head garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1 cup sliced boiled pork
1 cup sliced sausage
½ cup sliced sayote
1 medium-sized sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced Baguio petsay
4 cups meat broth
1 cup atsuete extract
1 kilo bihon
Salt to taste

Soak dried pusit in water to soften and slice thinly. Set aside. Fry minced garlic until golden brown; set aside half the amount for garnishing. To the remaining garlic saute onion, pusit, boiled pork and petsay Baguio. Add meat broth, atsuete extract and bihon. Season, with salt. Garnish with fried garlic and serve with kalamansi.


½ cup cut leaf lard (small pieces)
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
½ cup sliced lean pork
½ cup sliced pork heart
¼ cup water
½ cup chopped boiled pork lungs
1 cup cubed pork liver soaked in ¼ cup vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup green sweet pepper strips
¼ cup red sweet pepper strips

Heat leaf lard and water in a frying pan and cook until fat is extracted. Brown garlic in fat. Add lean pork and pork heart. Saute 5 mintues. Add water. Cover and cook 15 minutes over low heat. Add lungs and pork liver and cook 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add green and red pepper and cook 5 minutes longer. Six servings.


6 cups rice washing
1 tablespoon sliced ginger
1/3 kilo goat’s spareribs
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup sliced goat’s liver
4 pieces okra, sliced
3 cups eggplant, sliced
2 cups sitaw tops

Boil rice washing with ginger. Add spareribs, and season with salt. Cook until meat is tender. Add okra and eggplant and cook 2 minutes. Put in sitaw tops and let boil for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.


2 cups half-cooked kadyos
1 medium-sized pata, sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons bagoong
Salt to taste

Simmer pata and kadyos, add boiling water if necessary and cook until tender. Add tomatoes, onion and bagoong. Cook for a few minutes. Season with bagoong, salt and pepper.


2 cups fresh ipon (small fish found in North)
2 teaspoons ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sliced onion
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
Banana leaves about 7”x12”
6 pieces kalamansi

Mix first 4 ingredients together. Place ¼ cup of the mixture on two layers of banana leaf. Wrap in the form of a square and tie with a piece of string. Put wrapped tamales in pan and add 2 cups water. Cover and boil 30 minutes over moderate heat. Serve with kalamansi juice.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

FICCO Still On The Go

Fifty-three years later and it is still logging record-breaking figures in its outreach and operations.

As a long-time member, one cannot help but proudly extol the sacred virtues and sterling accomplishments of this open-type credit cooperative that was started quite inauspiciously by a Jesuit priest way back in 1954 as one way out for its cash-strapped employees and faculty. But as gleaned from a cursory interview with a couple of its motivated officers, it ended the last year with out of the roof figures in total membership (now totaling 108,000), total loans granted, and even in assets registering over 2 billion pesos as of last reckoning.

I am speaking of the First Community Cooperative based here in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Philippines, which first saw light inside the campus of the then fledging Ateneo de Cagayan. Pioneered by the late Fr. William Masterson,SJ, who earlier had been the primary architect in purchasing the Loyola Heights campus and bringing the prestigious Ateneo de Manila within its huge but then distant and rural environs. Fr. Masterson also blessed Cagayan de Oro with his forward-looking establishment of the Ateneo de Cagayan College of Agriculture, in the predominantly agricultural island of Mindanao, long envisioned and projected as the land of promise. The Manresa area in Lumbia which has now been partially converted into premier subdivisions, school site, and commercial center anchored by SM, was to be the fertile ground on which to plant to seeds of agricultural development. He also gave us global Searsolin.

As gleaned from the cover of its latest general assembly report, we get a pretty good idea of the reach and penetration of this now gigantic agent of empowerment and economic change in the otherwise blighted areas of Mindanao. From the bustling urbanized center that Cagayan de Oro is now, to the fabled farmlands of General Santos. To the rarely visited but quite always in the news communities in Ipil, in Zamboanga. To the even less known San Francisco area, tucked in close to the shores of the Pacific in wind-tossed Surigao.

Here’s a quote from Chairman Proculo T. Sarmen:

Cooperatives have proven to be highly effective in improving the quality of life of people all over the world. FICCO is an outstanding example.

FICCO has never been an overnight sensation. Neither was it built nor created by just one individual. It is a collective accumulation of cycles of transition, discovery, hard work and more importantly, collective effort. Great leaders, committed volunteers, diligent staff and supportive members comprise the FICCO Team in striving to reach out and attain its vision and mission.

The journey to success is long and arduous. But the forerunners of this cooperative kept their minds toward achieving the dream of SERVICE, EMPOWERMENT, and UPLIFTMENT.

No truer words spoken.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Quick Takes On A Slow Journey

Quick because of time constraints and slow because a journey that lasts for three months is never fast.

But make the trip I had to do so here I am on the second week of a globe-trotting trip that stretched over 7,000 miles from the temperate comfortable climate of Northern California to the hot and humid cauldron that is the tropics, the Philippine Islands in particular. Where the sun beats mercilessly as early as seven o’clock in the morning until its waning moments in the afternoon. Where anything enclosed, a car or a room, or your clothes on your body, unwittingly serves as your toaster oven when Mr. Sol is involved.

But please bear with the whining, since I am simply and unrepentantly your formerly born and raised in the tropics native who after a long absence will now have to re-acclimatize like the rest of the fair-skinned foreigners. Pretty soon I should be back to my normally squinting self and at home with my elements.

This trip started with me solo sitting by Gate No.7 at SFO listlessly waiting for a 10pm Philippine Airlines plane to depart. Listless, because I had already perused and re-read all the pertinent notes about the urgent tasks that needed doing when I get to my destination. Arriving very early at the airport to avoid commute traffic made for the very ample time from check-in to flight time. The fact that the plane to be used was squatting silently by within sight did not help in my listlessness, with the metallic bird’s imposing hulk immobile and waiting at the tarmac with no obvious further needs of preparation for the 16 hours to destination.

Oh, should I mention the hills of “balikbayan” boxes I had to negotiate at the check-in line as a highlight of the trip? Nah. Too common and trite. It happens during every trip of PAL to the old homeland. Proud Filipino returnees declaring to all and sundry that they are going back home, loaded and burdened to the limit (the airline’s baggage limitations) by those bloated boxes taped and tied like a badly-beaten boxer ready to go down.

To say that the 16 hours of flight was uneventful would be an understatement, especially sitting cramped and stiff in coach class, but uneventful it was, blessed only by a few hours of languid stupor called sleep during a flight.

Speaking of stupor, is that how one feels when one’s plane arrives at about 5:30am and the connecting flight is for 7:20am on the same day, and it takes about the same time to claim one’s sole piece of luggage from the baggage carousel? Because that was what actually happened. And I am happy to report that I reacted better than an Aussie who deplaned in a latter flight but shared the same carousel who was starting to feel beside himself impatiently eyeing for his luggage. Anyway, being on time for the connecting flight was enough petty consolation for me to forget all the earlier hazards. I was only too glad to be sitting on the plane that would be the last leg of that long trip. So I did not mind the woman who I found was sitting on the seat assigned to me, and who curtly retorted that she was sitting there only because another passenger wanted to put his hand-carried luggage on the overhead rack above the seat assigned to her.

After the short ride from the local airport to the house, I was ready to be greeted with familiar surroundings from a house owned for so many years and which appears frozen in time from the last visit, and a lot more time when looking at the very vintage books that date back to my school years. Shedding travel clothes down to what would be considered decent based on local custom, I was ready to hit the ground running, or more like walking slowly given the almost unbearable heat of the late morning sun.

First visit went to the local credit union to do some updating work. Déjà vu! Again, the scene was almost frozen in time much like the last visit – crowded with clients waiting and hugging dearly to small pieces of paper showing their number in the waiting line. I immediately bolted out promising to return at some later time, unable to gather enough patience to go through the ordeal. It was a little better after returning at an unholy hour, like a few minutes past lunch time.

The first day ended with early bedtime, though with the difference in time I had been without sleep for more like 40 hours.

To be continued.