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

My sis’ birthday was in July. But due to some reason, I didn’t get to post the birthday vid I made for her here in my blog on that day itself (I presented it in my FB status instead and she liked it).  So even if it is late, I am still publishing even if it is a tad too late.

And so here it is… it has a bit of a history lesson, too, btw. And I chose the song that Joni Mitchell was singing on this vid because she sang it live (as recorded) in Chicago on the very day that my sis was born (which was quite a number of years ago – the exact year of which I shouldn’t mention anymore because I don’t want to drive it in any further).  The song is “Both Sides Now” which is apt for her since she had her share of ups and downs, and in a way, has learned a lot of good lessons along the way. Good for you, Sis!

Disclaimer: I do not own nor am I claiming the rights to the song or some of the pictures used in this vid. Thanks.

Both Sides Now
(Words and Music by Joni Mitchell)
Rows and flows of angel hair,
And ice cream castles in the air,
And feather canyons everywhere,
I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the Sun,
They rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done,
But clouds got in my way.
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow,
It’s cloud illusions I recall,
I really don’t know clouds, at all.
Moons and Junes and ferris wheels,
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real.
I’ve looked at love that way.
But now it’s just another show,
You leave ’em laughing when you go.
And if you care, don’t let them know.
Don’t give yourself away.
I’ve looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow,
It’s love’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know love, at all.
Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say I love you right out loud.
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I’ve looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange.
They shake their heads; they say I’ve changed.
Well something’s lost but something’s gained,
In living every day.
I’ve looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose and still somehow,
It’s life’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know life, at all.

(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 took a restful short breather last Aug. 23 to 25 which happened to be a long rainy weekend.  I joined up with Doc, Sis and kids for an overnight stay in Tagaytay where the weather was damp and cool.

There are many things and sights to see in Tagaytay, much of it are already well-known by most Luzon dwellers so I don’t need to talk about them here.  But there’s only one place we visited (and may revisit) and it is the ‘bulalohan’ eateries at Mahogany Public Market (right).

There were many eateries to choose from along this foodstrip.  Sis wanted the one which had the most customers (having more customers means it might be the best) but naturally, there were no available seats anymore.  So we chose “Betchay’s House of Food” which was great, too.

The Bulalohan Foodstrip alfresco-style: it’s like dying and going to Bulalo heaven.

Bulalo is a dish of boiled bone-in beef shank with vegetables.  The bone marrow is the bulalo itself and it is the soul or core of this dish (pun intended).  It is not an ideal dish for those suffering from high levels of cholesterol so it should be something (as do most  delicious foods, I guess—sigh!) that you only get to enjoy once in a while.

Bulalo is what we came here for and that’s what we got:

Perfectly hot for a rainy cold weekend: They served bulalo in a very presentable transparent serving soup bowl heated up by a small flame underneath (wow, where can I get one of these?).  This brilliant idea serves to keep the fat in the broth from congealing into greasy soup which pretty much ruins anybody’s appetite.

….We enjoyed tawilis (small sardines) –fried to a crisp (left).  Condiments recommended for bulalo (right): patis (fish sauce) and calamansi juice with hot sili.

(Right) Get as many as you want! They also serve banana señoritas…for free!

The ‘bulalohan’ experience was worth it and really affordable. There is a public restroom near the market but it would be better to do your ‘business’ somewhere else before coming here.  Betchay’s food attendants were helpful and courteous.  The utensils looked clean enough.  They might need to improve on the quality of their tables and chairs for they tend to wobble while one chair I noticed was missing a leg (the ground is also a bit uneven).  Also being an open marketplace, the place has  some souvenir vendors walking by. So expect many of them to strut food and souvenir items and to ask you to buy from them while you’re sipping your broth.  It comes with the territory, I guess.  You can buy from them or politely refuse…after all, we all have to earn a living.

The next day, we went back to buy beef from the market itself.  A kilo of freshly butchered beef costs just a hundred and fifty pesos. And when I mean fresh meat—I mean meat that was still twitching while hanging from their hooks (pardon me for the visual imagery…I mean, I know! While  i was watching it, I don’t know whether to be appalled or be fascinated by it)!

We bought enough meat to last us for several days.  Beef chunks and ribs for Dad’s nilagang baka (a favorite of mine), and sirloin bought at low prices compared to the ones in the supermarket.  Like what our dads and lolos used to say…“Ayos na ang butu-buto!” Nuff said!

One day, at mcdo…

I saw what appeared to be a doppelganger lady or my Sis’ probable twin! I secretly took pictures of her look-alike…

In fairness, the doppelganger lady looks like a movie star (oo na, shempre, ikaw rin, Sis!).  I did not only say that to appease doppelganger lady in case she gets riled up if she ever finds these unauthorized pics of herself posted on the web (just think of it as papparazzi kunwari, k?), and also for calling her ‘doppelganger lady.’  nah, i ain’t scared of that.  i’m sure she’s a nice lady.  Maybe invite her for tea and for some chit-chat, too.

Kamukha mo siya! Mas kamukha mo pa nga siya kesa sa akin…Siya ang totoo mong kapatid–kakambal mo pa ata!” I cajoled and teased Sis when we met up one weekend. I showed her the candid shots of her mystery twin.  “Oo nga…ako nga yan! Haha!” she exclaimed.  Everyone agreed when they saw the photos from my cell’s cam.

To show you the uncanny resemblance, here is Sis during Paula’s birthday 2 weeks ago (it’s the only one i could find–a blurry shot of her profile that matches my equally blurry shots of the doppelganger lady):

And here is the doppelganger lady (i didn’t eavesdrop on her conversation—I’m not THAT nosy; i just used my imagination just to make this post a little more interesting.)   😉

“Napanood mo ba kagabi?”

Ang cute ni Gabby no?”

“Ay, oo, mare…sinabi mo! Dapat piliin ni Claudine si…”

“Hay, ang init sa labas…libre mo naman ako ng mcflurry o.”

What do you think…kamukha ba? 🙂

…we may not be able to afford to do so anymore.

That is my new take on that old saying.  It apparently dawned on me when I wrote my post last July 17, that since prices here keep going up, I might as well indulge and enjoy everything while I still can afford them.

So armed with this new somewhat hedonistic yet a truly ‘hell-yeah!’ philosophy, Sis and I decided to hold a Margarita party one Saturday night at their home for no reason in particular. Well, I wanted to try making margarita for the longest time because it is in one of dear Martha’s Things Anyone Should Know list (another one is how to make a home emergency kit).

I bought the margarita glasses while Sis got the rest of the necessary items-inexpensive tequila and triple sec.

I know, I know…Martha’s advice was to get the best quality ingredients like cuervo gold and cointreau or something…but-hey, we’re on a tight budget-and besides, if we didn’t get the mixing right, at least we didn’t blow our money away (or in other words, we-simply-just-wanted-to-get-wasted-on-a-Saturday-night, ok?).

Doc made his own recipe for his margarita.  It doesn’t only taste good, it’s loaded with vitamin C–just like what the doctor ordered! 😀 The recipe is what we christened as Doc’s Calamansi Margarita.  See the recipe below:

Doc’s Calamansi Margarita

3 parts Tequila

2 parts Triple Sec

1 part Limeade

1 Tbs concentrated calamansi juice

1 tsp fresh dayap (native sour lime) juice

ice cubes

Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Then serve in salt-rimmed glasses garnished with lime wedges.

It was fun to mix your own margarita.  If you’re willing to experiment (better to use inexpensive tequila so you can afford to hit and miss), you can try mixing with other ingredients-banana, orange, mango-but for this one, calamansi (lemoncito in Spanish or calamondin in English) is the primary ingredient, making it a truly pinoy original. By the way, the exact amounts of the ingredients Doc put in were sketchy since he was just experimenting with it.  If you want to try it, don’t sweat–just gauge the amount based on your own taste and liking (maybe add sugar if you want it sweet and sour), and have fun.

Green-minded…Loaded with Vitamin C goodness…

Due to the wake of the ferry oil spill disaster, we decided to forgo with the planned hors doeuvre of fresh oysters and baked mussels to go along with our margaritas.  Sis, of course, came out with her classic nacho tuna tomato dip instead. It was perfect nevertheless (recipe soon to follow).

Sis’ Tuna Tomato Dip and Nachos complemented our margaritas.

“Maasim na may guhit…” Ate Joy drops by and approves Doc’s concoction (left).

And with that I will end this post with a Bible quote from Luke 12:19 (King James): “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

Ah, yes…I’ll drink to that.

Salud!