Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where to Find Firecrackers in Bacolod City

After a crackdown of illegally sold firecrackers by the local police, there's only one place to find firecrackers in Bacolod City -- at the Reclamation Area.

No wonder I couldn't find them a few days ago as I was scrounging downtown Bacolod's sidewalks for New Year trumpets and other noisy gadgets for the revelry.

And so I found this bustling alley of all sorts of pyrotechnics vigilantly guarded by armed policemen in uniforms to enforce a no smoking policy on the premises.

There you can find a wide assortment of fireworks, firecrackers and sparklers that suit your fancy. I ignored the big scary ones and settled for the small ones for the kids. PhP200 for a bagful of sparklers, pap pop, piccolo, mini missiles, rainbow lucis... not bad.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Carolling Pinoy Style: Pasko Na Naman!

Pasko Na Naman! As soon as the calendar is officially turned to December, christmas carolers hit the streets and sing familiar gleeful christmas songs to welcoming homes.

Well, not all homes are accommodating to christmas carolers.

The christmas caroling tradition started as a reenactment of what happened 2,000 years ago when Joseph and Mary went house to house seeking for a place to stay for the night in Bethlehem. Just as not all homes are accommodating to christmas carolers of today, finally an innkeeper ushered Joseph and Mary to a stable, the only place he could offer them because the inn was full.

Christmas caroling Pinoy style are usually by choral groups for fund raising purposes or by children out to have some fun and spare change. Most attractive to christmas carolers are homes that are bedecked with jolly lights, decors and lanterns because of the christmas spirit that seem to welcome carolers.

Children would fashion improvised musical instruments out of flattened bottlecaps strung with wire made into tambourine rings, or loosely nailed onto sticks to make a jingling sound.

All-time favorite songs that are never amiss are: Pasko Na Naman! (It's Christmas Once Again!), Sa Maybahay Ang Aming Bati (Our Greeting to the Homeowner), and, Thank You, Thank You, Ang Babait Ninyo, Thank You! (Thank You, You Are All So Kind!)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bacolod Dance Academy's Tribute to the Filipino Music

Bacolod Dance Academy presents: A Tribute to the Filipino Music, a classical ballet presentation at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum, December 13, 6:00 p.m.

After a major presentation of ballet classics (Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker) last year, Bacolod Dance Academy headed by its directress, Marichit Arrieta-Hofilena, goes Filipino this time, paying tribute to beautiful classics such as Matud Nila, Ngayon at Kailanman, Ikaw, Tuwing Umuulan, Sa Libis ng Nayon, Parang Kailan Lang, Iduyan Mo, Anak, and many more.

A sharp contrast from last year's major presentation complete with major production concerns, the 2009 presentation is free from frills, so minimalistic in costume and stage design that the dancers' lines can be appreciated even more.

The all-Filipino music also tugs at the heartstrings, be it a touching ballad or a fast number, from opening to curtain call. Each number, even still only rehearsals, never fail to cause goosebumps at the back of my neck. I remember their first day of practice, a tear trickled down my face as the depth of emotion of original Filipino music gripped my heart.

Surely this is another visual-musical-performance treat that is truly food for the soul, served in all its simplistic minimalism by the Bacolod Dance Academy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bugnay: Miracle Fruit?

Bugnay as it is called in our part of the Philippines, is a kind of sour berry that is ripest when it is at its blackest. Bugnay comes in clumps of some 30 or more berries clumped together in various degrees of ripeness, making a colorful bunch of light green, pink, red to black berries. It is also called bignay in Tagalog.

I once read a newspaper article where a couple cultivating bugnay fruit claimed that the bugnay is also called miracle berry which has a taste-changing property, turning the next sour thing you will eat sour. However, when I researched more about the African miracle berry (synsepalum dulcificum), I have my doubts because the miracle berry looks different from our bugnay (antidesma bunius).

I would have wanted to try it for myself but the tempting sour-sweet black berries were soon wiped out and there was no other sour thing to try my tastebuds on. Oh, well.

The bugnay tree is medium in size and is easy to climb.

White Carabao Just Gave Birth!

White carabao -- albino water buffalo -- is not considered sacred like the white elephant. Back in the ricefields of Ma-ao, Bago City, this beast of burden, normally black in color still gets to work like everybody else.

It was a particularly lucky day when we arrived in Ma-ao and chanced upon this white carabao that just gave birth to a white carabao calf. Too bad we came just moments late from the actual giving birth.

As can be seen in the picture, the mother white carabao's birth canal is still oozing with fresh blood and placenta.

The interesting about the baby carabao is that, like baby horses and other babies of the same family, they can already stand on their wobbly feet to reach out to their mother's breasts.

Out in the fields, the carabao has a symbiotic partner, the tulabong (tu-LAH-bong) or egret, some hovering about, and some actually riding atop the carabao's back. It's an you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-your-back arrangement. The tulabong "scratches" the carabao's back by feeding on the flies pestering the carabao to its relief.

Carabaos have "birth certificates" called credentials, sort of like land titles showing the name of the owner. Instead of thumb marks distinguishing one person from the other, carabaos are identified by their unique nose prints.

Atay-Atay: Fancy Pinoy Bread

Atay-atay (a-tahy-atahy), a kind of bread which, although literally means (liver-liver), has nothing to do with liver.
Atay-atay is just one of those fancy Pinoy breads with streaks of red, pink, yellow, or in this example, purple.

The atay-atay that I know had red fillings and perhaps they were called such because they look like liver insides when actually they are just food color.

The atay-atay is still popular among the lower-income bracket, and so I was surprised when one day this bread was being sold, direct selling style, and so I bought two pieces.

Surely, memories of old never fail to flood our minds when things like this show up in our present time. It always brings out the child in us, days when things were a lot simpler, like when we just used to eat simple breads such as the atay-atay.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to Pick the Best Banana

The tip in picking the best banana: the perfect banana must look small, has black spots all over, and imperfect in every way. The blacker the skin, the better.

My mother would always buy this ugly looking tordan banana. Not only is it cheaper, it is also sweeter than the more famous, exported lakatan banana which is bigger, longer, has a brighter yellow color, smoother and more flawless skin. While the more familiar food-for-the-gods lakatan has its own merits, the more exotic food-for-the-monkeys tordan is locally more preferred by banana experts, the mothers. For inside the thin, ugly black skin, is a firm, flawless, white, juicy and sweet banana flesh.

As the saying goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." This means that the tordan banana can only be judged sweeter when it is tasted.

Thus proves true another saying, handed from mother to daughter down to generations, the golden banana rule: "Don't judge the banana by its skin."

Monday, December 7, 2009

History of the Parol

Parol (pa-ROL) is the Filipino pronunciation of the Spanish farol or lantern. Its design is derived from the pi├▒ata which itself originated in Italy then was brought to Spain, to Mexico, then finally to the Philippines.

In the Spanish period when the Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) and the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) were held during the wee hours of the morning or before midnight, lanterns lit the way to and from church.

As the parol evolved throughout the ages
from candlelit or kerosene-fueled lanterns to the electric-bulb glowing stars, the ever creative Filipino finally incorporated the now classic design after the Star of Bethlehem that guided the shepherds and the wise men to a stable where the Baby Jesus was laid out on a manger.

Today, these lanterns adorn homes as well as public places, heralding the joyous Christmas season, highlighted not only by a gloriously decorated tree, but also by the brightly lit parol.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Awesome Philippine Skies

Wherever you are in the world, God's canvas is simply awesome.

A couple of days ago, our Philippine skies spread a textured carpet of clouds that gloriously highlighted the beautiful sunset. If only I had a better camera.

I could almost hear a host of angels singing, heralding the birth of the Messiah. Driving home as the sun dipped deeper into the far horizon, flecks of fuschia glistened westward, but it happened so fast the pink clouds turned a hazy purple as I finally found the perfect parking space.

The night before that, this same blanket of shredded clouds shrouded around a shy moon, which at one time was framed with soft edges that looked like a watchful eye. To me, it seemed like a reptilian eye because of the scaly effect of the softly-lit layered clouds. To my daughter, it was like the Eye of God.

Awesome. Truly awesome Philippine skies.

Philippine Fruits in Season

Atis! Chicos! Mangoes! Three of my favorite Philippine fruits in season during the last quarter of the year.

Atis. Also called sweet sop, sugar apple, or chirimoya, a relative of the custard apple belonging to the annona family. Brought to the Philippines by the Spanish colonizers from South America, the fruit has sweet white flesh whose black seeds are easily cultivated into small trees that can mature between 10 and 20 feet and that will bear fruit after a year.

The green grenade-looking fruit atis is rich in vitamin C, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Carotene, Ash, Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Carbohydrates, Protein, Tryptophan, Lysine, and Methionine.

Chico. Also called sapodilla, this brown round to oblong fruit with shiny black seeds is soft, slightly gritty, and sweet. Its tree called chiku in English is about as big in size and height as the atis tree.

The cico's sapota juice is rich in sugars, proteins, vitamin C, phenolics, carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, calcium and potassium.

Mango. Heart-shaped and bright yellow, the mango which is hailed the most majestic of all Philippine fruits has a twin counterpart from India. While the indian variety is intolerant of humidity, has flushes of bright red new growth that are subject to mildew, Philippine mango tolerates excess moisture, has pale green or red new growth and resists mildew. The mango is a good source of vitamins A, C, and D.

This should not be confused with the Philippine "indian mango" which has green skin, even when at its ripest. This green mango is best when near ripe with its sweet-sour crunchy-juicy flesh best dipped in plain salt, or soy sauce with optional spiced vinegar, or traditionally prepared shrimp paste called bagoong.

Philippine fruits in season are said to be at their sweetest and most succulent when the sun is at its meanest and hottest. The best atis, chico, and mango should be firm, not too hard, not too mushy for your perfect pick of Philippine fruits in season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Philippine Driving Techiques by Evil Women Drivers

Philippine driving takes another dimension if you are a woman driver. While making a stupid driving mistake, you can always hear the other driver mouth the words, "Ah, kay babaye!" ("Oh, it's a woman!") rather condescendingly. When situations like this arise, take it to your advantage, as well as with other evil-woman-driver techniques:

Philippine Driving Technique No. 1 - Look innocent. There's no forgivable sight in Philippine highways as a woman driver. Even if you know you can drive better than a man, you can still pull through a driving mistake by pulling over an angelic look. A smile can go a long, long mile.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 2 - Go around the red light. You can do this when trapped in an intersection with a vacant lot or a gasoline station around the corner. As soon as the red light is on, make a right if the corner gasoline station is to your right, drive past it, and go back to the main thoroughfare. Do the same to a left corner gasoline station.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 3 - Drive through the long queue. If it's especially long and torturous on your side of the lane and it's so free as a bowling alley on the opposite lane.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 4 - Never follow a jeepney. It's notorious stops at every corner and shoulder where a passenger alights or awaits at their own bidding can make you crazy stopping at every five meters or so as well.

Philippine Driving Technique No. 5 - Never give way. Stick your nose as close to the next car or else you'll get cut for a long, long queue of cars. In these streets, there are no gentlemen nor ladies.

Well, for evil women drivers only. But sometimes, when driving in the Philippines, with all the pandemonium going around on its streets, these driving techniques may, although not safe, may come in handy.

Basic Calculator Program

I have made my own calculator! Using Microsoft Access, this is the crude Design View of my calculator.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 1: Create new blank form, click text box, create 3 blank text boxes. The computer will assign them their respective labels, e.g. Text0, Text 2, and Text4. Sometimes, the number at the end of the word Text varies so take note of this.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 2: Click buttons to create command buttons for addition (+), subtraction ( - ), multiplication ( * ), and division ( / ), as well as "clear".

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 3: Right click on the command buttons, when the form wizard menu appears, click cancel. Right click again so that another drop down menu appears, go to "Event Builder", then click "Build Code". This will take you to the Visual Basic code builder to customize the commands for the basic calculator function buttons.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 4: For the addition (+) command button, type

Text0 = Val(Text2) + Val(Text4)

For the subtraction ( - ) command button, type

Text0 = Text2 + Text4

For the multiplication ( * ) command button, type

Text0 = Text2 * Text4

For the division ( / ) command button, type

Text0 = Text2 / Text4

For the "clear" command button, type

Text0 = " "
Text2 = " "
Text4 = " "

The program should be free of errors otherwise the debugger will appear highlighting in yellow your errors for correction.

Basic Calculator Programming Step No. 5: Go back to your crude calculator in Design View, refine the buttons a bit, and change to Form View. Voila! Your very own basic calculator!

*Note: It is best to try each command button if the first one is working properly. If so, you can simply copy + paste the line command and replace the symbols of the command function as needed, for your running program of a basic calculator.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ice Skating in a Parallel World

Ice skating! The last time I did it was when I was single and shameless -- ice skating wearing the thinnest (at least long sleeved blouse) and slacks and the burning desire to ice skate no matter what. That was at SM Megamall in the early 90's.

This year, I went ice skating again, rather by force, by my daughter who wanted to do it with me, on her Day Two of ice skating. At least this time, a friend (Ruel A.) has forewarned, thus forearmed us, about what to wear when ice skating -- including our very own socks.

It was at the Mall of Asia when Bea had her first taste of ice skating. I had to decline and let her go ice skating with Ruel and his daughter Yuki while I go somewhere else.

Of course I lingered for a while, watching Bea's first few steps on the ice. From my view several meters away, a sudden rush of flashback overwhelmed me as I saw my daughter fumbling and tumbling in her ice skates, like a baby taking her first steps. Unmindful of the other ice skating figures from the neophytes to the pros, Bea struggled with her very best as she tried to pull herself up along the metal bars on the rink side. She stumbled, she fell. My heart rushed out to her, but I couldn't help her, and she must stand up on her own.

Suddenly, I saw the whole skating rink as a microcosm of the world populated by ice skaters from all walks of life. And there, of all the people ice skating about, is the one person I love, the one person I will always have in mind. She has a story to tell that nobody else would really care about. And each one of them have their own life stories nobody else would really care about. Except for the one who parents for them. For the one who loves each and every one of them.

I cried insanely by myself as I pondered upon this thought among a crowd of watchers -- parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. I wondered how God must be looking at each one of us. Only He knows each of our individual stories as we go about ice skating through life. Only He cares for each and everyone of us. Because He made us. We are His.

And there we go about, ice skating in this icy cold world, minding our own businesses, sometimes forgetting that He allows us to fall so that we can stand up on our own, stronger this time, to face the world with more confidence in Him as we go on, ice skating.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SEO Your Articles Easy

SEO simply means "search engine optimized". This is because of the vastness of the internet, your article gets lost in a sea of gazillions of other related articles. Thus you use a search engine to literally search for these articles. Here are some simplified tips to SEO your articles easy (painting by Nonoy Etabag-I, a social realist artist whose painting themes usually focus on social commentaries about poverty and politicians).

SEO Tip No. 1. Use Key Words Positionally - When you arrive at a search engine, say google or yahoo, you type in your key word. For example your key word is "poverty". Position your key words so that it is search engine optimized: as much as possible, make it the first word of your title, the first word of your paragraph, sprinkled all over your article, and the last word of your article. Forget redundancy. The rule here is REDUNDANCY. The more redundant you are with your key words, the more search engine optimized your article is, thus it will most likely land at the top of the search engine results page. Creative writing license also takes into a new direction by challenging you to twist your article to start and end with a key word, but still read-worthy as well as search engine optimized.

SEO Tip No. 2. Ratio Your Key Word Ratio to at Least 10% - So that if your article has a word count of 300 words, make sure that 10 or more key words (e.g. "poverty") are well spread throughout your article in order to be search engine optimized. There are dirty tricks like spamming your article with all key words or hiding 1,000 key words by coloring it white against a white background in a desparate attempt to be search engine optimized, but these are illegal and your account will be deleted for this. Remember also that CONTENT IS KING. Not only is your article riddled with search engine optimized key words, but that it has also good content, spelling and grammar checked, so that it will have a professional look and credible image.

SEO Tip No. 3. Set Your Key Words to Bold Typeface - For obvious reasons, in order to be more search engine optimized. You may have already noticed by now why the bold repetitions of search engine optimized key words in this blog.

SEO Tip No. 4. Use Key Words in Attention-Grabbing Titles - "Understanding Poverty" is understandable, but it will not get the attention of your readers even if it is at the top of your search engine results. Why not make it more graphic, like: "Poverty: Sucking the Blood Out of Poor Juan Dela Cruz", or "Poverty: the Pinoy Politicians' Legacy", or "Poverty: How to Get Rich in the Midst of Financial Depression". The more appealing your title, the more it is likely to get clicked on search engine results.

SEO Tip No. 5. Use Key Words in Bullets - Articles in bullet form are easier to read as well as search engine optimized. Even in bullets, make sure your key word is there. Notice the deliberate effort in putting the SEO key word in every bullet. That is how to increase readership in your blog and generate more traffic by making your article search engine optimized.

Sisi, Anyone?

(pronounced si-SI) is the smaller cousin of the talaba, an oyster that is as tastier as it is more compact than its bigger counterpart.

The problem with the sisi is that it is also harder to open, with smaller and tighter compartments, thus prying open the sisi yourself (which is the more exciting way to eat talaba) poses more danger of getting cut or injured by the sisi opener, a tool that can be anything from a small knife to a mini screw driver.

But worry no more because the sisi comes to you pre-opened, preserved in salt (gi-na-MUS) and bottled, which recently costs PhP80.00 per bottle. Just pour into a small plate a desired amount, squeeze a few drops of calamansi or lemon juice and you're now ready to enjoy that sea-sweet goodness of this delectable oyster, the sisi.

Vermicompost Fertilizer: Vermicomposting Made Easy

Vermicompost fertilizer may look ewwy but this technology in organic farming may just save the world.

What is vermicomposting? It is the process of producing organic fertilizer (vermicompost) using agricultural wastes through the disgetive action of earthworms, and not just your ordinary garden earthworms (because it does more harm than good to your garden top soil) but the African nightcrawler (eudrilus euginae).

According to Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero III and Mrs. Lina Villegas, vermicompost is a high quality organic fertilizer that contains up to 8%-7%-1% of NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium), as well as trace elements, depending on the quality of the substrate.

Here are the easy steps in vermicomposting:

Vermicomposting step #1. Site Selection - must be shady, free from flooding, near a water source, cool, and near a material source.

Vermicomposting step #2. Bed Preparation - Prepare wormbeds 1m x 4m x 2ft high or compost heap style. You may also use old or unused basin, pots, sack or any suitable container for backyard vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting step #3
. Gathering of Materials/Substrate - They are basically from two sources:
  • Carbon - grass, sawdust, leaves, coconut husks, corn stovers, stalks, rice straw, paper, boxes, etc.
  • Nitrogen - peanut, hagonoy, ipil-ipil, madre de cacao, centrosema, malunggay, katuray, baging-ilog, and all animal wastes except human, dog, and cat excrement because of the presence of e-coli bacteria.
However, eucalyptus leaves are not advisable because of their bitter taste.

Having gathered your materials, consider this as your Day 1 in the stages of vermicomposting. Afterwards you are ready for the next stages:

Vermicomposting stage #1. Anaerobic Stage (Day 2-15) - Mix a ratio of 3:1 Carbon-Nitrogen (CN) chopped or shredded substrate, sprinkle with water if the mixture is too dry. Place inside a sack and tie it up, or place inside a big can and cover it. Store in a shady area and leave the tied sack or covered container unopened for 10-15 days.

Vermicomposting stage #2. Aerobic Stage (Day 16-45) - Place the anaerobically decomposed substrate on the prepared beds 6 inches thick, unpressed. Sprinkle with water and maintain cool temperature of the substrate (ideally 5-7 drops of water when squeezed). Put the worms the next day.

Vermicomposting stage #3. Migration (Day 30-45) - If substrate is 80-90% consumed, processed and decomposed, allow the worm to migrate in orchid net/onion bag with the anaerobically-decomposed substrate in it.

Vermicomposting stage #4. Harvesting (Day 45-60) - Pull out the substrate where the worms have migrated and place in vacant beds. Manual picking of remaining worms is recommended. Do not water the bed a week before harvesting. The by-product of the process is vermicompost and earthworm biomass.

Vermicomposting stage #5. Storage and Farm Consumption - Air dry the vermicompost up to 30% humidity and seal in plastic bags for sale or for personal use.

Apply your vermicompost directly in the field as any other organic fertilizer or foliar fertilizer using vermi-tea.

Vermicompost is also used as one of the ingredients for "bukashi" which is made of basura (garbage), chicken manure, rice husks (must be made into charcoal) and vermicompost.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taho in Hiligaynon, Salabat in Tagalog, Ginger Tea in English

Good for sore throats and a great soother during the cold months, whether it's called taho in Hiligaynon, salabat in Tagalog, or ginger tea in English, this hot herbal concoction is sure to heal your cold discomforts:

You will need:
  • fresh ginger
  • water
  • brown sugar

To make your own ginger tea:
  • Pound 2 inches of fresh ginger.
  • Boil in 4 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar for 7-8 minutes.
  • Serve hot, ideally with any rice-based Filipino delicacy, but also tastes great with most pastries.

Go Home and Plant Kamote

"Go home and plant kamote!" If you are being told this, you're probably dumb and stupid that you should better go home to the rural areas where people plant kamote for a living and for survival.

However, with the new trend of going back to basics, going home to plant kamote is getting the respect it deserves.

Kamote or sweet potato is a root crop that looks like a potato but is not. It is rich in carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, C, and B as well as iron and calcium.
Kamote leaves are also a excellent greens for many Filipino soup dishes.

The kamote tuber is usually steamed. It's cooked as soon as it softens and the skin breaks. Spread a little butter with every bite, or dip it into sugar for a healthy snack. Kamote may also be cut up about 10cm thick and deep fried with brown sugar coating for a deliciously hot kamote-cue.

So who's dumb and stupid? Let's go home and plant kamote. And eat some, too.

Yummy Yema!

Yema, also known as custard candy, is a very yummy healthy candy you can't resist to the last piece.

Yummy yema is so easy to make, a can of condensed milk and 12 egg yolks or less, depending on your preference, will do.

To make your own yema, just m
ix condensed milk and egg yolks in a sauce pan or a double boiler. Cook your yema mixture under medium to high heat, stirring continuously until the yema mixture coagulates and separates from the pan. Cool your cooked yema for about 30 minutes. Mold into bite-sized balls and roll yema on white sugar to coat, or shape into pyramids and wrap with colorful cellophane.

Tip: for a creamier yema, use full cream condensed milk like Milk Maid, as condensed filled milks tend to harden the yema because of its high-sugar, low-milk content.

So there you have it, yummy yema!

What to do When Eating Out Turo-Turo Style

You might want to try eating out turo-turo style at a local carinderia or diner.

For those who are not familiar with it, here are some of the tacit rules on what to do when you're eating out turo-turo style.

Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 1.
As nobody greets you at the door, you just walk straight up to the counter where the specialty of the day is written on a big menu overhead. Make you order at the friendly lady manning the counter by reciting the desired dishes or simply point want you want from the array of ready-cooked dish or dishes. That's the essence of a turo-turo (literally, point-pont) diner.

Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 2. If the carinderia is especially crowded but you still would want to eat there anyway, have a companion reserve a table by occupying the next empty one. If all tables happen to be full, follow the share-a-table-win-a-friend rule. Ask the occupants of a table with vacant seats if you (and your companion if any) can join in, and if the seats are not taken, they will customarily acquiesce. If there are no vacant seats but there is a batch that are almost done eating, it is perfectly okay if you stand behind their chairs and obviously wait for them to scram. If your table is secured, go back to No. 1.

Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 3. Follow the signs posted conspicuously at the counter.

  • "Pay as You Order" means you pay for your order at the counter before you cart away your food tray (sometimes there is no tray). Still tradition has inculcated in the Filipino mentality to "Eat Now Pay Later", so depending on your choice of carinderia it's also okay to not pay for your meal until you are down to the last morsel. The counter lady's memories are sharp enough to note which table you are and won't take her eyes off you until you've paid up.
  • "Self Service" means there are no waiters to serve your food, just bus boys. You get your own eating utensils, ask for tissue paper, and get straw for your drink.
  • "Share a Table, Win a Friend" applies to a scenario described in No. 2.
Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 4. Because of the situation described in No. 2, consume your meal fast enough in order to give way for the next customer/s. If the other tables are clear, you are no longer obliged to leave and can while away your time for as long as you like. You can watch an entire show on their cable TV or even ask that the channel be changed to your favorite program.

Turo-turo Style Eating Tip No. 5. Because of the self-service rule, you are not expected to give a tip. However, there are some carinderia where you are once in a while besieged by beggars. It is not advisable to give them money or even your left over food, because once you've given one, two or more beggars will show up at your table with equally practiced hungry looks, ready to claw everything off your hands.

Eating out turo-turo style can be fun and exciting, never mind the occasional annoyances that give a new dimension to the experience. For as low as PhP50.00, you can already have a satisfying meal.

Now you know now what to do when eating out turo-turo style.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Winning Essay in the 2008 McDonald's Champion Kid (Philippines) Essay Writing Contest

This is Bea's winning essay that made it to the top 20 finalists in the 2008 McDonald's Champion Kid (Philippines) Essay Writing Contest. Before her essay was finalized, she had to learn what every writer had to learn after gathering all her ideas. Edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, until her essay became compact and still able to convey her message in the available space given.

I have won nine medals this year! At the Western Visayas Junior Convention of Schools of Tomorrow in Iloilo City, I entered in nine events: volleyball, essaywriting, short-story writing, cross-stitch, colored pencils, quarted ({all}first place); large ensemble, one-act play (second placE); and poetry writing (third place). I won the most number of medals!

The most precious of all is the volleyball medal! It was my first time to join the Athletics. I wasn't the best player, but I did my best. We practiced everyday, except Sundays. Even when it rained we did not quit!

I felt the teamwork and hard work in my heart. Maybe God also felt the teamwork and hard work, too, because He blessed us with no fever, no cough, nor runny nose!

So, I encourage kids to work hard, persevere, and pray so they can finish the race and win, maybe even more than nine medals! That's a McDonald's Champion Kid.

See related blog by clicking here for a closer look at how Bea and I proved to ourselves that, indeed, we are a great team.

New Moon in the Forks of the Philippines

New Moon and Twilight fans: there's a place in the Philippines that closely resemble Forks!

It's a small secluded mountainous area almost constantly under a cool blanket of fog and rain, dotted with pine trees and shrouded with mystery.

Sounds like vampire haven!

You can almost imagine Edward Cullen emerging from among the caucasian denizens or visitors that pilgrimage to this mountain hideaway. Or Jacob Black showing up from among the culturally rich native inhabitants of this scenic spot. Incidentally, it is famous for its amazingly preserved coffins ceremoniously niched in the sacred chambers of its limestone cave walls.

Where else but in Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines. While there are no vampire/werewolf stories that abound here, there's a lot to discover in this hard-to-reach place that's truly worth the bumpy six-hour bus ride from Baguio City (not yet counting the other six-hour bus ride from Manila to Baguio).

Follow my blog by clicking here for a closer look at this truly stupendous spot where you can almost feel like New Moon in the Forks of the Philippines.

Pork Estofado, Turo-Turo Style, Anyone?

Pork estofado, one of my favorite dishes! I miss the sweet-sour taste so that when I chanced upon it at the local carinderia or diner, I ordered for a serving of pork estofado, turo-turo style.

Turo-turo literally means point-point, an ordering system in a self-service eatery where the menu is written on an overhead billboard. You either point to a dish name or point directly to the food of your choice. In this case, pork estofado! ;-)

Wherever you are in the world, it is not difficult to secure the ingredients for this popular Filipino dish. Estofado can be pork or chicken or both.

For a home-coked, family-sized serving of pork estofado, you will need:
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 head garlic, cloves crushed
  • 1 kg boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 carrot, sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup corn oil
  • 2 pieces French bread, cut into 1-inch squares and fried in oil
  • 3 saba (plaintain) bananas, sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
You will need about 45 minutes to cook your pork estofado.
  • Heat oil in a casserole. Fry the garlic until brown. Remove garlic from pan and set aside.

  • Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and water in a mixing bowl. Set aside to allow flavors to blend.

  • Pour in remaining oil and heat. Add pork and brown lightly on all sides. Pour in vinegar mixture. Bring to the boil, then lower heat to simmer. (Do not stir, or the vinegar will have a “raw” taste).

  • Add bay leaf and simmer for about 20 minutes or until pork is almost tender.

  • Add the carrot and, 5 minutes later, the bananas. When bananas and carrot are almost tender, about 5 minutes more, stir in pan de sal.

  • Continue simmering until pork is fully cooked and bananas and carrot are completely tender, about 5 minutes. Garnish with French bread squares.

  • You may also add canned pineapple slices.
Great when served hot with steaming rice. Enjoy your estofado!
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