Friday, December 29, 2006

Adieu Christmas 2006 and An Antique Corner

Two more days, and we will be saying goodbye to Christmas and the year 2006. The gifts underneath the christmas tree have long been gone (actually since after the Christmas eve). And the Christmas Tree which once reigned with splendor with all its glittering lights will once more go back to obscurity.

This is my Auntie's antique corner. It is beautiful isn't it? There is a growing appreciation of handcarved wooden furnitures that looks like those our lolas used to have. Actually we have our own set of wooden sofa, a dining table, and 2 rocking chairs made purely of wood that were once owned by my grandmother. I used to hate them when I was a child because I find them hard to sit on. However now that I am older, I do appreciate them more for their worth (they are my lola's furnitures), than their looks (because they are more functional than beautiful). But what make them more endearing is, they were made long before I was born, yet they have remained sturdy and still useful to us. Thank you Lola, for your gift!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kinsay Tiguwang? (Dili Kami Uy!)

Ayala Scene...

"Who says we are old? Definitely not!" - Who says that only teenage girls want to hang out in the malls? Even golden girls enjoy hanging around too! Which will only prove that having a ka-BERKS is not only for the teens.

After raising kids, sending them to college, watching them raise their own families, a group of mothers (retired school teachers) re-live moments of youth!

Ayala Center Cebu

There is a little park tucked in Ayala Center Cebu. It has small pathways, trees, and a little lagoon in the center. Compared probably with other parks in other big cities in the world, it may seem insignificant. But I like walking around it. I took one picture from my camera but never did the place justice. Then I found this picture from skycraper. To the artist who took it, Thanks for making it look nice. Please take a walk with me. At the end of the pathway is a door to Max Fried Chicken. My sister and I spent some beautiful Sunday lunches here sitting beside the windows watching people go by.

Midnight Mass

Christmas for us is not complete without the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, even if we have already adopted a lot of Western Christmas practices due to cross-cultural influences, I am glad we are able to keep this tradition year after year.

This year, there were fewer faces around as we celebrate the Noche Buena and it was a bit lonelier. A cousin and her family left for the United States to work. Another cousin is in Dubai. While a brother is in Taiwan. Although you are not here with us physically, you are all present in our hearts as we celebrate Christmas. But of course, nothing can compare with having your presence with us. We miss your laughter...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Trying Hard

I went through a sleepless night. Doing...? Blogging! Joined sometime in April. Tried to stay away from it. Went into hiatus (in the pretext of doing something more important). Eventually came back to it (as in full circle). Why? I do not know! Sa Bisaya pa – Na-u-ngo! In English – na-Addict. (the literal translation of this Bisayan term really refers to being a witch. But it could also mean being addicted to something). Bisaya ray maka-sabut! (only a Bisaya can get it. But for the benefit of the global community, translations are provided).

Here is my story…

I went from being someone indifferent to being totally over-zealous in my blog. Armed with total ignorance of website designing and everything that there is to it, I have tried to read instructions from the internet maybe a thousand times in the hope of being able to fully digest them. But still I could not comprehend a lot of things. I thought the writing part would be a breeze, but I could not stop myself from re-writing things a million times over, because I was afraid my write-ups were incomprehensible. From all my readings about Blog designs, the only words I could remember are “tweak” and “widgets” because they sound cute. But honestly I am still piecing the two together. But am I giving up? Nope! I guess I will still be around for years (?). Hopefully.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Second Bridge

This is the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, the second bridge that links the bigger island of Cebu to the little island of Lapu-lapu (Mactan). The photo must have been taken by an artist because it looks dreamy. The bridge was named after a famous Cebuano legislator.
The bridge is only about 30 minutes from our place on a regular-traffic day. It was finished in 1999 and I remembered that it was causing massive traffic everyday while it was being built. So those who have left Cebu sometimes in the 80’s or early 90’s may have surely missed it. But no worry, visitors and balikbayan can always choose to pass by it upon arriving to Cebu. It is nearer to the airport than the first bridge.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Piniritong Buwad Nga Danggit!

This morning I had a hearty breakfast consisting of piniritong kan-on ( fried rice), piniritong buwad nga danggit and hotdog. Why the choice of hotdog together with the old time favorites, it’s my sister’ favorite breakfast treat. I would have wanted sikwate (Bisaya chocolate drink made from cacao) to go with all these, but I have long gone easy on sikwate, and besides the morning is not chilly. One of our suki nga tindera passed by and offered puto, unfortunately she was late because we had already prepared the danggit and the rice. We promised her that we’ll probably have puto next time if she can come earlier. And by that time, I would definitely prepare some sikwate to go with it, and some mangga of course.

Buwad danggit (dried fish) is a favorite not only among the Bisaya but it has also won the hearts of the Manilenos. To cook a perfect buwad nga danggit is not to over-cook it. Just heat some oil, drop the danggit and tossed it around for a few seconds, and voila! It would be perfectly crunchy. It is best with suka nga may siling kulikot.

Used to be sold only in tiangge (as in real market), but they have now invaded the air-conditioned supermarkets as well. However if anyone would like to buy in big volumes, it is advisable to buy in Tabo-an where one can still haggle for some hangyo (or discounts). There are some other dried fish actually, but some of them are too salty for my taste. This is the reason why buwad danggit has an edge over the others, because it is not too salty and not too overpowering. But unlike other buwad which can be used to complete other dishes like as part of utan bisaya or utang monggos, buwad danggit is best eaten alone on its own merit.


(I forgot to mention the most important thing. One is advised to eat kinamot for this dish to enjoy it fully. It means best eaten with bare hands. Just make sure that you will wash your hands thoroughly after eating...hahahaha!)

Tinuwang Isda

No fuss. No frills. Just plain simple boiling.

This is how tinuwang isda is cooked. It is the first dish I learned to cook as a young girl because all I have to do then is simply drop the fish and the panakot (or spices) in the boiling water, then wait for a few more minutes and presto! I 'm done with my cooking.

But that is not the end of the story. When I got older, I learned that the secret to a real good tinuwa is in the fish. Got to have it fresh because it is the fish that will give the soup its distinct taste. When one can afford, one can choose the likes of lapu-lapu , tangigue, mamsa and other big fishes with white meat (mga isda nga hiniwa or sliced fishes). However for us ordinary folks, we can readily settle for smaller fishes like anduhaw or tamarong.

The spices are sliced tomatoes, green onions (although sometimes I used the bulb onions), sili (medium green pepper) and tangad (or lemon grass). Okay, the lemon grass lives up to its name by giving out a lemony scent, but it is the green sili that perfects the aroma and gives the tinuwa that hot sting. How hot it is going to be will depend on the cook’s discretion. A few more sili could be added to make it really HOT! One could stop there already. But other people would like to add ginger. And then, for the true blue Bisaya, lukot (or sea weed) is added to complete the dish.

Actually one can make a hundred and one variations by simply adding some vegetables here and there, the most common vegetables of which are kamunggay and agbati. However most often people would prefer to keep it very simple, so that only the flavor of the fish will be the most dominant feature. This simple dish is actually a favorite in all social classes. The only difference would lie in the choice of fishes. Otherwise, it is a leveler of sorts. For a Bisaya “makalipay ug maayo ang makahigop ug init nga sabaw aron panington ug bugbog” (sipping hot soup can give happiness to a Bisaya, especially when one breaks out in sweats). I am not sure if I have translated it correctly. But just try to get the gist. Thanks!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Let's Pause For Some Break...

I have been quite busy this past month tinkering with my website. I got into an epiphany of sorts and realized it was getting lonely blogging alone, so I decided it was about time to get in touch with fellow bloggers who share the same interests. In fact I have become ambitious and experimented doing some link exchanges although I am not sure of my site’s acceptance since it does not have any traffic to boast of. I just wish those communities I am interested in, will be patient with me.

My site is actually just a one-page blog, but because I am not a techie and never knew anything about web designing, I am totally dependent on Sometimes I wish I could add some pages or rearrange some topics or articles. There are actually a thousand and one things I wanted to inject to my Blog because I want to bring it to a new level, but unfortunately I don’t know how to go about it. Anyhow, while I am mulling on my next move, I will just have to continue blogging on….

By the way, I just might take a Christmas break…

Monday, December 11, 2006

Utan Bisaya...

Kalbasang puwa, kalbasang puti, sikwa, gabi, okra , tawong, batong, kamunggay, agbati, sibuyas bombay, kamatis, subak nga piniritong isda nga gikunis-kunis (fried fish flakes). Each of which are cut into bite size except for agbati and kamunggay. For these two, only their leaves and udlot (tips) are included. The fish flakes and the vegetables are then boiled together (but for best results, the gabi should be very soft before the other vegetables are dropped in). Kamunggay and agbati are the last to be cooked. Boil and simmer in plain water. And voila! You get the most "lami-an nga Utan Bisaya" (literally means “most delicious Bisayan vegetable stew”)!

For me, utan bisaya is the most delicious soup because it is simple, clear and bereft of any animal fat. The agbati and kamunggay give it a peculiar aroma but not in a distasteful way, while the okra provides a slightly creamy texture. According to my mother, this vegetable stew is “walay kontra unya maayo sa lawas” (nothing hurtful to the body yet very healthful)! If I have taken it for granted when I was younger, now that I am much older, I do truly appreciate its real value. To complete a divine meal, it is best eaten with hot rice and piniritong buwad (fried dried fish) or else piniritong isda nga i-sawsaw sa suka nga naay patis (toyo) ug siling kulikot (fried fish dipped in spicy vinegar with small chili and soy sauce). Tungod ani, panington ka ug bugbog (should I have to translate this?). And as husbands here would say, “sa kalami gyud sa pagka-on puede nang malimtan ang asawa” (with food as delicious as this, any husband could readily forget his wife!). Which I think is the best compliment any vegetable stew could ever get!

Seriously, I believe that utan bisaya is worthy of a tribute because not only has it embodied the frugal lifestyle of our Bisayan forefathers, it has also survived the passing of time and continues to be appreciated until now. In the past, parents stripped themselves to the barest of essentials and tried to live simply so that children can go to college. People then, not only share food among neighbors and visitors, but help each other in times of dire need. But progress has demanded some price. And some of our well-loved traits are no longer practical in these times and age. As we welcome fast-foods and globalization, it is probably nice to at least keep something from our past and pass it on to the next generation. Whatever changes we will encounter and adapt, it is good to know that we have something that is probably uniquely Bisaya.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Banana Cue!

It is unassuming, cheap, and we grew up on it! I remembered pooling money together with friends in school, in order to buy pan-init (it means hot bread), or banana cue for snacks. If we were lucky enough to stretch our money a little further, our snacks would be a feast consisting of a family-sized Coke or Pepsi, and a large-sized Chippy.

For those of you who have left home and who have settled somewhere in other continents, but who at some point in your lives came to love the banana cue, I would just like to let you know that it has remained the sweet, unassuming, cheap snack that is still sold in those simple carts (tables actually). If for some of you, the memory of the banana cue has somewhat dimmed, let me remind you that it is best eaten HOT (meaning fresh out of the fire) and skewered in a bamboo stick, with dripping melted brown sugar, lavishly coated all over it!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Is Just Around The Bend...

Christmas is just around the bend… As a child I thought Christmas is some kind of a ritual that is celebrated in the same way year after year. How can a child forget twinkling Christmas lights, glittering trees and gifts with ribbons. Or the memories of delicious food on the table (which was always more than the usual)…There were new dresses, and sometimes toys. In my eyes as a child, it was the most magical time of the year! 

As I grew older, I came to realize that Christmas is not actually the same every year. Not all Christmases are merry. There were times when Christmases were celebrated joyfully. But then, there were Christmases when we were in mourning. Not all times that food was abundant on the table. There were also quite a number of times that there was just enough to get by. But my childhood memories of Christmas were quite happy! Over the years, Christmas took on a different shape and persona. From simple family gatherings to extravagant corporate productions, each Christmas has given me joy. And for as long as I live, I will probably look forward to it every year. 

Now it is time for me to take out the boxes of decorations once more and light up the Christmas tree…

Sunday, November 05, 2006


In the usual tradition of honoring our dead, we took a day off and trooped to the cemeteries on November 1 to be with our dearly departed. On this day, we brave the human traffic and endure the heat. We even forgive the vendors for their over-priced flowers. My father has been dead for more than 10 years now, but we tried hard to be there for him every year because we would not want him to feel alone when all the other dead have their families at their graves. Funny, because it is as if he can still care...

I remember when he died, we have never experienced anything out of the ordinary. He just silently slipped out of our lives leaving a void. There were no weird noises or sighting, except for one instance in my boarding house in Makati (where I worked during that time). That was in November 1 of 1991, about 3 months after he died. There were only 2 of us left in the whole house because all of our board mates went home to their respective provinces. At around six in the evening, my boardmate and I heard a knock. But when I came to open the door, there was no one outside. Just the empty darkness.

It should have felt spooky but instead, I felt desolate and really sad. I felt in my heart that it was my father who came to visit me, perhaps to say goodbye.

Are ghosts real? I bet they are! But the ghosts that really haunt us are actually the ghosts of our past. Like the ghosts of our past mistakes... Or maybe the ghosts of past failures... Or perhaps the ghosts of unfulfilled dreams. Ever wondered why we feared them? Maybe because their sheer memory still have the power to inflict pain even after they have long been gone...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Rains Have Come...!

In my opinion, summer has officially ended on the 10th of May. The rainy season was heralded by a storm which lashed Samar, and brought with it cold torrential rains. Suddenly the skies turned dark and gloomy. And although the storm lasted only for about 3 days here in the beautiful island of Cebu, nevertheless the summer spirit has been dampened.

Goodbye sweltering heat, Hello thunderstorms and lightning!

I think the rains have come a bit earlier this year. They're supposed to come around June, but not as early as middle of May. The fiestas in other provinces have just started yet. And the rains would certainly affect the parades and open dances. Not that I'm ecstatic about summer (I even hate it just a bit), but sometimes I find the rains so confining.

The children could no longer run freely in the street, and without them shouting and running around, the streets would be left empty and desolate.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Toxic Gas and One Hot Summer Night!

It was one of those hot summer nights, in the summer of 2001. It was the kind that makes you edgy and sticky with sweat, which was why I was eagerly looking forward to go home (to have an early dinner and a nice cool bath). Since I had no car, I had no choice but to take the public jeepney which is normally jam-packed with people. I could see that they were also tired, hungry, and probably just like me, straining forward to get home fast.

But traffic was slow and torturous, so slow that we have to stop every few minutes. I could not stop myself from gritting my teeth in sheer frustration, and have to contend in suffering the long ride ahead. Left with no choice, we sat there huddled uncomfortably in dark silence. Some I observed were trying to achieve blank stares, while others were trying to close their eyes feigning sleep (probably wishing that they were already lounging comfortably in their homes). Let me tell you how we look. All the seats were full. Even the center aisle was filled with passengers sitting on low stools. There were men clinging on at the entrance of the jeep, and at that point, we looked more like people being herded towards concentration camps, instead of people trying to go home. Because of the density of the people in that very small space, there was less oxygen circulating around us. It was difficult to breathe, much more move. That people have to suffer in this condition in order to reach home is beyond my comprehension.

Our route was northbound going to Consolacion, and we have to pass over the Mandaue fly-over bridge. When we reached at exactly the midpoint of the flyover, suddenly a most obnoxious smell pervaded the small confines of the jeepney. I assume that the owner must have been suffering from an aching tummy, and had unintentionally released the toxic gas against his or her will because probably he or she could no longer endure holding it. To say that it was really bad is actually an understatement, because it jolted those who were falling asleep, and had us who were awake desperately craning our heads outside the windows trying to gulp whatever better air was available outside! The more the people in the center aisle tried to fan the foul air out, the more it circulated around us. It got stuck inside the vehicle, and for a while it seemed that we were all turning blue from holding our breaths. It was such a nightmare, and nobody could do anything! Everybody seemed to be fighting the urge to jump out of the vehicle. But we were stuck between a 40 foot container van and the ledge of the flyover. Even the driver who got the most advantageous seat muttered curses against the mysterious culprit and threatened to leave the jeepney just to be able to breathe freely again.

But the heavens can give kind justice to us who are suffering in this life. Traffic eventually unraveled, and we were able to move again. Sweet polluted air circulated back inside and we were able to breathe freely once more. I realized (as I walking the short distance towards my home that night), that what happened was actually very funny after all! It taught me one thing, that as we wearily plod along in this sometimes dreary life, something unexpected would spice it up a little bit!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My Angel Wish...

I would not want to think that the advent of newspapers and television has become more of a bad phenomenon for mankind rather than a good one. Despite the enjoyment afforded to us by these things, one can not help but observe that events are most often unfolded in huge scale proportions, probably because there is the intention of delivering more drama than simple facts.

No matter where we go, when we flip the newspapers, or switch on the television sets, we get fresh depressing news every day! I flinched at those gory little details of murders, accidents or other conflicts which are being aired daily by the different television networks at dinnertime. But what is lamentable, is the fact that these horrors have become inordinate yet integral part of our everyday life. One could just imagine the effect of these on the minds of the children. It is possible that in their innocence they view these horrors to be the natural order of life. The thought is indeed very frightening.

Thus it becomes my fervent wish that our news headlines should be spruced up with more inspiring stories instead of horrendous events of atrocities. Surely there must be lots of beautiful stories out there in this still wonderful world of ours, just waiting to be told. Yes, stories which will tell us of hope and goodness of men. Stories which will inspire us, or which will soothe away the fears on real and imaginary frightful things that our hearts assume every tomorrow will probably bring. But i
t is very sad that we have unintentionally relegated stories of goodness and honesty and kindness to children’s books, or worse in fairy tales. It is easier for us to believe that most declared truths are just plain lies, or that there must be some underlying selfish motive behind every good deed. In these times when it is considered cool to be calculated and cold-hearted, it is simpler to accept that people are prone to do bad things rather than good.

One does not know when the exigencies of greed took over one’s life. But long before ambition took control over our lives, sometime before we were driven to accumulate more material things that we could possibly need, I remember that there was innocence in our youth, fewer needs, and simple happiness. That we never knew of their passing spared us from mourning their loss. Unless we remember these things, maybe we do deserve the kind of news we are being fed every day.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Trying To Enter Into The Scene!

Hey, I am new here! In fact I am groping blindly (as in literally) around the site. I am not sure what I am going to write on my blog and how to go about it. But it does not matter anyhow because I am excited, and learning can be a lot of fun. This lady here is trying to enter into the blog scene!

Could not think well, because it is very HOT! It is summer here in Cebu, and the temperature is soaring high (even during the nights). I am kept drowsy by the sweltering heat and my mind is always filled with thoughts of icy and sweet fruit shakes. Thus began my search for the perfect fruit shake. I began by hunting around for those famous mangoes, only to find that the really good ones were already exported. Half of the good ones which are left behind are made either into packaged juices or else as dried fruits. I was left holding in my hands puny little objects which looks anything but, mangoes.

My next target were the sweet, juicy and red watermelons. Unfortunately my search only led me to pale and pink ones instead (though still juicy), but which tasted more like cucumber than watermelons. I confronted my suki vendor for giving me the undesirable items. But he passed the buck and blamed it on the gasoline price increases. I could not fathom the relationship, so I probe him further. In a serious tone he said, "it is a fact of life, that when the price of gasoline goes up - the fruits, the vegetables, including the fish and even the pork also suffer with the human lot!"

Oh well..! who am I to object to his belief. I rest my case...