Kailan ka pupunta dito? Sis texted me from Provident Village. This was before the Big Flood.  I spent a lot of my weekends in the Village but at that time I haven’t been there for over a month, that’s why she was texting me.  I had been too busy at work and needed my weekends to unwind at my own home and be alone – that was why I haven’t visited them at the rented house they were staying in.

Saka na. Di naman aalis yang bahay dyan e, I replied.

Then a week later, Typhoon Ondoy came.

Well, you could imagine my regret.  Ayan tuloy. Di ka na makakadalaw uli – kahit kelan Sis laughingly scolded me.

Sis and Doc have decided to abandon Provident and are staying over at Doc’s family’s house.  The house at Provident – post-Ondoy – reeked of stench (real or imagined) from the putrid mud no matter how much they scrubbed it clean.  In fairness to the brave residents who chose to stay, the village had indeed been washed, cleaned and repaired.  However, even so, there is said to be this gloomy and tragic sentiment lingering in the air – of a haunting allusion of grief and frustration, heavy feeling of sadness, and memories of misery and destruction.  It was even worst at night. And then there is this nagging fear: for how long will one be safe and what if the nightmare happens again – and again?

Provident Village was one of the worst-hit areas when the heavy rains of Ondoy came down. Most of the village is nearest to the Marikina river – nestling dangerously inside its U-shaped path (at right)- thus, the village gets easily inundated once it overflows.

(pic courtesy of Google Maps)

I do miss Provident.  We ALL do. Despite the poor location, it is quite ideally and conveniently located near all the major areas of urban living necessities– the malls, schools and universities in Katipunan, the markets, the church, the tiangges, the plaza, sports complex, etc.  Sis misses the fresh cool wind that permeates the house even in summer time; Paw misses the peaceful silence that pervades throughout the village (Parang buhay probinsya). Levic misses riding his bike through the relatively safe streets. Me? I miss the roof deck of the house…

My most favorite part is the roofdeck. I remember I would go straight up there and enjoy watching the sunset or just eat ice cream…

On the roofdeck, Pawie (above) would sit on the ledge, too, at night and just chillax.  We even camped and slept overnight here under the stars last summer. Too bad, I didn’t take pix of us ‘camping.’ Now, it won’t happen again….

I used to exercise and walk through the streets of Provident Village at night while Levic acted as my bodyguard as he rode his bike.  He and I know the streets like the back of our hands. The scariest part of the village at night was near the village wall that separates it from the river – for it was dark there and lacks street lights, right, Lev?

Every weekend all throughout December, fireworks can be seen from the roof deck. Like this pic of a fireworks display from last Christmas season.  Well, now, no more fireworks viewing from there this year (or from hereon for that matter). Sighs…

What’s to be learned from all these? Not to take for granted what we have. Appreciate the simple things and always be grateful.  It’s better to enrich ourselves not with owning material things but with wonderful memories and life experiences instead.  So let’s build more memories! With new hopes, new dreams, and a positive outlook in life… for there is nowhere to go but up!

To be continued in Life after Ondoy

Bloggers are the New Powers That Be! Behold, we are the new commercial endorsers to be reckoned with.  Companies and businesses should tremble, kiss our rings, and kneel before us for we have the power to make or break your product. Unlike Sharon and Aga, we ourselves buy your products and actually use them, don’t get paid for what we have to say about them, we’re more believable, and definitely way cuter.

With that out of my system, I present some of my favorite meriendas…

Chocolate cake… like what mom used to make:

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There are a lot of bakeries selling chocolate cakes in town.  The more established ones (oh, you know who you are!) sell ones wherein they obviously scrimp on the ingredients, resulting to dry, anemic-pathetic cakes that you are forced to buy for your kid’s birthday party for no one else is giving you anything better.  But along came Ms. Polly’s.  I had the privilege of being given these cakes as gifts, not just once but twice for the past two months. Theirs is as close to being home-baked–moist and rich.  It’s just like what your mom (well, at least mine did) used to make!  Great with black coffee on a lazy afternoon…

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Pancit Malabon… an all-time Pinoy favorite:

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Pancit Malabon is a Pinoy specialty dish of noodles with an orange-colored sauce and seafood garnishings on top as well as sliced hard-boiled eggs. This one is from Amber’s in Makati (near Cash and Carry), an old food establishment that is already considered an institution around these areas.  I bought pancit from them twice.  Preferring fine bihon or sotanghon, I’m seralulalu-002not much of a fan of thick noodles but I do enjoy a good pancit malabon (or palabok) once in a while.  Better to order ahead by phone and set a time for pick-up or delivery. If you don’t, you’ll have to wait a long time, just sitting at the counter, twiddling your thumbs and looking at Amber’s tired-looking, unsmiling attendants (at right) who seem to be comfortable with their “we don’t care if you wait, we’re already an institution!” style of service. Don’t forget their pichi-pichi and barbeque, too!  All great with ice-cold coke!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And finally, Churros…a second time around:

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Ever since I saw Mario Batali make authentic Spanish churros on the food network, I’ve dreamed of doing the same thing.  It seemed to look so easy! But my ill-fated churros experiment last Christmas taught me never to trust on-line recipes anymore, to not follow their recommended measurements or quantities of ingredients and, according to Paw, to just trust your instincts. However, it did not dampen my hopes of getting it right so I tried it out again… this time with much success.  They came out perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and tasty in the inside.  And the leftover chocolate fondue from Noche Buena sent me to a buzzy, stuff-2741sugary-high mode.

One thing I can’t solve though is dealing with the inevitable gooey mess that it could make.  Just don’t wear your favorite shirt when attempting to eat churros, maybe use a jicara, or lay out your cheapest table cloth, and be ready with napkins– lotsa table napkins, and you’ll be fine.

And if you want to be sure your churros will be a success (and to save time as well)… just get a hold of a trusty pack of ready-mixed Antonio Pueo’s Churros con Chocolate (at left) from the supermarket like what I did.  Daya? Success naman! Hehe…

(I wasn’t able to upload pictures from my cellphone camera for the past weeks.  Something went wrong with my computer lately due to viruses I got from the Internet. But now it is semi-fixed and so I have a backlog of 200 pics waiting to be uploaded and some are worthy to be posted.  So you will see a lot of pictures in my upcoming posts for the next few weeks… starting with the following pix from two weekends ago…)

Spent the weekend of Dec. 12 to 14 mostly in Marikina because it was the birthday of Levic.  I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:

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Sushiiiiii(!) which was a gift from a relative, pusit, pasta, barbeque, and other yummy dishes served for the party prepared by Sis.  Happy Birthday, Levic!

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It was the year’s last biggest full moon that hovered over us that weekend according to the news.  Took a pic of it but it was partly hidden by clouds.

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Enjoying one of my favorite comfort foods: ice cream and barquillos (crunchy sweet wafer rolls) leftovers from the previous night’s party on the rooftop slash balcony of the house.

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Checking out the Marikina River scene and Bayani Fernando and his missus’ attempt to make it look great…Hmm, still smelly and it’s no Disneyland but at least it’s clean, attracting some crowds, and the residents seem to like it.

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Tis the season to go bargain-hunting!: Paw and I checking out the ukay-ukay strip along the river’s banks.  She got some great bargains on sandals and blouses (like 2 for P180)–not bad!

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From low-end ukayan to high end ukayan (below): Passed by San Juan to check out an indoor bazaar in front of the Pinaglabanan shrine (above pic)

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The San Juan ukay-ukay was selling merchandise that were branded factory overruns which include Chanel shirts, Vera Wang, etc. If you still want to check it out, it’s at the second floor of the building in front of the said shrine.

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Every weekend for this month, fireworks light up the Marikina skyline at night…

So goes the weekend…

Undas is a major holiday that we observed as the “All Souls Day” (Nov. 2) in the Philippines.  It is celebrated along with All Saints Day (Nov. 1).  It is a Catholic tradition that was adapted from ancient Mexican rituals of honoring departed loved ones (um, I think).

During the Undas, families and clans reunite.  They go home to their respective hometowns or regions, clean and repaint the tombs of deceased relatives, and cook up a simple feast (usually kakanin or glutinous rice delicacies like biko) to take with them to the cemeteries. Families would have picnics by the graves or tombs, offer flowers or food, play cards, camp out, eat and pray.  On the downside, there would be lots of traffic jams along major highways and naturally, plenty of headaches and occasional petty traffic spats and squabbles.

Offering flowers, lit candles and prayers for Mommy (Oct. 30, 2008):


Picnicking on the memorial park grounds at night and watching out for shooting stars together with Sis, Doc, Pchi, Paw, Levic, and Lolo Daddy.

Traditional holiday food: Biko prepared at home, made from glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut milk:

I remember when we go to the memorial park way back in the 80’s to visit mama.  There were a lot more people back then.  There was generally a festive atmosphere at that time.  There were food stalls all around and many families would stay for hours and hours or set up huge tents on the grass so that they could camp overnight.

Now, I have noticed that the number of people visiting the park during the Undas have dwindled down considerably during the past years.  Or that if they do visit, they will stay for a short time, and then leave.  Or some visit ahead of time (like what we did) so as to avoid the traffic hassles and headaches.  Times are changing, I guess but I am pretty sure the tradition will continue to live on…  After all Undas is all about remembering.  As an Irish blessing goes: “May you never forget what is worth remembering nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” Nobody wants to be forgotten so let’s hope we all live a life that is worth remembering… Have a Safe and Happy Undas, Pinoys!

We celebrated Father’s Day on June 15, plus it was my birthday the following day. We had seafood fiesta at home to celebrate these special double occasions!
A birthday wish come true…Home-cooked Paella Marinera with mussels, crabs, jumbo shrimps, squid, chicken, olive oil, jasponica rice, saffron mix.

It had been a dream of mine to serve Paella Marinera at home for the longest time. The ingredients were expensive (cost me more than a thousand pesos but I got two big “kawali-ful” of paella which if you get in Mingoy’s will definitely cost you so much more), and to cook it for the first time will not be easy. But what the heck, let’s get it over with! I already gave it a lot of thought (more like year) before pushing through with the idea and besides… we deserve it!

The previous night, I was trying to decipher the recipe I got from the pack of the saffron mix I bought from the grocery. Decipher–meaning it was written in Spanish. I had to call and ask someone what sofreir, cigalas, and hirviendo meant. The next morning, we started early. We thought we would end by lunch time but we were done past 1 pm! It was harder than I thought…I was never good in math so i was trying to figure out whether I’m putting enough amount of this and that for a group of eight; worrying if I placed too much olive oil and that it could turn into a super sebo-ish paella; and was on the verge of tears, thinking that I poured too much water and that I may end up with rice porridge instead…

Levic checking out the paella…Muy bien? Si! Si!

Paw helping out with the paella. She made it better actually. Gracias, Paulina!!! Buen trabaho, mi sobrina!

Good thing Sis, Doc Drew, and the kids arrived late. They all helped out as well. Paula took over one kawali while Donna and Pchie manned the other one…and Sis was barking out orders ala Gordon Ramsey. I relaxed and let them do the work. They brought along with them deliciously grilled boneless bangus (or milkfish) from Fixies, QC. And Mango Torte from Dulcelin. Wow, more food!

My Birthday Cake slash Torte from Dulcelin Gourmet (below right)with yummy cashew-based nougats and mango.

Happy Father’s Day! Dad, the seafood lover enjoyed the feast…

The kawali or thick iron cooking pan that we used was not exactly my type of paellera but it did the job. There was no time to prepare the toppings (e.g. sliced boiled eggs, green peas) to make it presentable. Oh, well, maybe next time!

The paella tasted heavenly (or baka gutom lang kami?)…Good thing we still had sparkling white wine from last Christmas to go along with it. Wine, paella and good company…it was like living out one of those Travel and Living shows that i can only dream about. After a few minutes, we were talking in Spanish…Muy delicioso…Gracias, gracias..or at least trying to rack our brains for phrases we learned from our long-forgotten, short-lived Spanish language courses in college. Of course, we can only remember the curse words though…hehehe.

We were not able to finish one kawali of paella. Mabigat pala sa tyan. At least, we had more of it to last for one more day.

Ah, yes…I deserve something like this…at least once in while…we all do.