30 March 2006

Back to Taytay Falls in Majayjay!

Time to visit the great outdoors! Last weekend, my office colleagues, good neighbor Roger and daughter, and my wife (yipee!) took to the road and headed straight for Taytay Falls in Majayjay, Laguna!

We left Manila on Saturday morning at 8 and arrived at around 10:30. As expected, there was already quite a number of campers, some of which were there since Friday. So getting a campsite was quite a challenge especially in our case, where there are three tents between us. The bank nearest us was fully occupied, so we had to wade across the river to search some more. Thank goodness we came across this relatively flat and wide camping ground! We set-up tent and enjoyed the rest of this weekend retreat.

[L-R] Harry, Gay, Lorrie, Gen, Sarah, my wife Tina, and me! Not in photo is Roger (who took this) and daughter Nica.
Me and my wife!
Cross the river we go! Some campers helpd out when they heard the shrieks of the ladies. :-)
This is our campsite, photo taken by the river.
Lunch time! We brought along banana leaves to use as plates and we used our hands in eating. Of course food was served with spoon and fork. :-) This is chicken-pork adobo, a concoction made by simmering meat in soy sauce, laurel leaves, black pepper, garlic, and vinegar. Yum yum!
A funny thing happened at lunchtime. We ran out of rice! But we were still so hungry! What to do? Stay put, stare at each other, and wait for the second batch of rice to cook!
Ok! Ok! I admit it! We love to eat!
We visited the falls later in the afternoon.
Evening dinner was sumptious! I had at least four servings of rice! Diet, diet... where art thou, diet?
Later in the night, we had our socials where we cooked hotdogs and marshmallows over biodegradable charcoals.
Later on, we had night visitors. Fireflies hovered about, and -- surprise, surprise -- a walking stick dropped by! I haven't seen one in ages. These harmless creatures were once abundant in Camp John Hay when I was younger.
The next day, we took a dip in the cold river ...
... while the sun occasionally peeked amongst the clouds and trees.
Alas. Time flies when you're having fun. Time to go!

28 March 2006

Nanny McPhee and the Sandwich of Horror

Nanny McPhee taught me five valuable lessons. These are:
(1) To go to bed when told,
(2) To get out of bed when told,
(3) To dress up when told,
(4) To listen, and
(5) To do as you are told.

The other kids did eventually learned a lot more things than the five lessons mentioned above. And what a Nanny she is! Asking only for Sunday afternoons off for her term of stay. Her staff, though menacing, is not at all used for flogging naughty kids like them but when she gives a mighty tap on the floor, sparks fly and magic happens.

When there is a domestic problem, especially with kids, Nanny McPhee is sure to be there. Children feigning sickness, beware! For she will surely make you stay in bed. But she taught her charges well. She's fair and knocks on the door before she enters a room.

It was likewise a delight seeing Angela Lansbury of Murder, She Wrote once again!

Nanny McPhee is a wonderful movie, and is a film the family can watch and enjoy. It's currently playing in theaters. Catch it!

[photo credit: Rotten Tomatoes]


Speaking of domestic abilities, I would like to share with you today an original recipe. I call it... the Sandwich of Horror! It's quite simple to make, really. All you need are the following:

A loaf of Bread
A medium jar of Mayonnaise
Tuna spread
Raw mangoes
Fish sauce (bagoong) - optional

First, mix the mayo and tuna spread. Set aside.
Peel off the green mango and slice. If you feel adventurous, use the entire mango!
Take a slice of loaf bread. Generously spread the tuna mix on one side.

Put mango slices on top of the tuna mix. Or, you can put the entire mango altogether! Less hassle on peeling and slicing.
Spread a bit of fish sauce (optional).

Top it off with another slice of loaf and your done! Treat your nosey neighbors ... err ... guests with this gastronomic delight and invent a fancy name like "tuna-mango delight"!

Last one to the restroom has a stomach made of lead!

24 March 2006

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Yesterday, I was at the Evangelista public market looking for cookware and food provisions for our upcoming camping trip. Donned with shirt, shorts, and slippers to look unobtrusive, I courageously bargained for the prices of these items (I'm not the bargaining type but discovered it can be fun when I'm with my wife).

Then this morning, I was at Libertad looking for a simple crib Jo-Lo can use for his stay over the weekend, stall-hopping and bargaining with the shopkeepers.

By lunchtime I was donned in my office attire and heading off to a Power Team meeting in one of the Call Center offices in Makati. And later on I will be in a general meeting for Information Technology vendors, rubbing shoulders with industry movers.

I was in the market one time, then in corporate halls the next. Life can be so colorful sometimes. My boss once said that in our lifetime, we will be wearing many hats. It's a comparative analysis of our roles in life. A father one time, an office employee the next, a trekking enthusiast the next. But we are all of these at the same time.

Have a happy weekend everyone!

22 March 2006

Of Trees, Trolls, and Cat's Eyes

Upon the request of Mr. Ed Abbey of Recycled Thoughts, I took closer shots of the tree that made it look like autumn in our neighborhood last week. I don't think the tree will be easy to identify, though. I asked around and even they don't know what sort of tree it is.

It's shown a lot of healthy growth of leaves though. And for that, I'm glad. Here's a photo of the slender branches. The trunk itself is quite slender, too.
And here's a shot of the leaves. Not close enough I guess, but this is really way up.

I couldn't sleep last night. And when I'm stricken with a bit of insomnia, I do a combination of three things: read a magazine, watch TV, or surf the net. Last night I did the first two.

Unfortunately, I can't comprehend what I was trying to read (this month's issue of National Geographic - a Christmas subscription gift of my wife to me - is about Celts and DNA so it's not exactly light reading), so I tuned in to Star Movies instead.

Lo and behold! A story by Stephen King! Cat's Eye! One of this master storyteller's ... ummm, stories ... is one of my favorites. Silver Bullet. And then there's Christine which I want to watch but haven't seen a copy anywhere so far. This may just as well be a good story to keep me company for the night.

Unfortunately, I was also fixing my dirty clothes to bring to the laundromat the next day so I got the first few minutes, and then when I got back, there was this new set of characters and storyline, and then later on it was still another story, this time with child star Drew Barrymore in it.

It then dawned to me that this must be a film composed of short stories. Much like the local horror flick Shake, Rattle, and Roll (by the way, if any reader here knows where I can get a copy of the very first Shake, Rattle and Roll movie, do let me know please! Been searching for this for the longest time too).

The second story was rather compelling but I only got the ending part. I was able to watch the third story though. It was said that you should not let cats in your room at night because while you are asleep, they will sit on your chest and steal your breath away. At least that's what the parents think. But Drew has told them that General (her name for the stray cat that she decided to adopt) had actually stopped a recurring nightmare of hers about a monster living in her room the night the cat stoled into her room one night.

At any rate, the stray cat knew of the presence of something else too. It was a troll. And I was able to get a photo of this hideous thing! Reminded me of Gremlins, actually (another nice movie! The first one, anyway). The troll knew how to get rid of the cat. He killed the girl's pet parakeet in time for the cat to come in through the window. The bird cage crashed and the cat was last seen on the crime scene (I feel like doing a rap today...)

With the cat in the animal shelter due for termination, the troll went up Drew's bed (above photo) and pinched her nose, at which she opened her mouth to gasp for air. And then the troll started to take her breath!

The cat made a daring escape and ran off to Drew's room in time to fight the troll before he finishes his nasty business! The chase and fight scenes unfolded to the tune of "Every Breath You Take". It was so 80s I loved it!

Of course, the troll got busted in the end.

Oops, was anybody reading this planning to rent or buy a copy for the weekend home movie? Sorry about the spoilers. But I did not relate the other two stories (which I was not able to catch anyways) so it's still worth a look!

20 March 2006

Musings for Monday

The road from my apartment intersect the main road where you can get a jeepney or cab to other places. Right smack in the intersection is a stately old tree. I was quite surprised when 4 days ago, it was brighter than usual in that area. And then I realized that the tree was shedding its leaves! Everytime a breeze wafted by, leaves would fall in all directions.

I was quite alarmed. Never in my 9 years stay here can I recall that tree doing that. Is it dying? I crossed the street and took a photo. you can see the leaves by the roadside. There were lots more on the road and opposite sidewalk.

Then, this morning, I was delightfully surprised to see the same tree looking so young with its new sprout of bright-green leaves. In just 4 days! Oh joy!
Question: do trees periodically shed off their leaves to grow new ones?


We bought some sunflower seeds in Baguio while I was getting ice cream for Jo-Lo's 9th month birthday last Saturday. The words inscribed on the packaging was amusing, one worthy of sharing with you. Click on the image below to read the labels.

Just what is the "mysterious recipe"? I'm all giddy with excitement. Yeah. Over a packet of sunflower seeds. "Ha, tasty!"

"Bravo! they all applauded the awesome tastes." Yeah. Over a packet of sunflower seeds.
Have a good week, everyone!

14 March 2006

The conquest of Mt. Maculot

Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas as described in the Internet, is a favorite spot among mountaineers because it is a relatively easy climb (classified as Level 1) and the view of Taal Lake is amazing. When you'd like to go on a trek but don't have much time for it, Mt. Maculot is the way to go. As Phil said in his post about his trek to the Mayon volcano, "climb your mountains while you still can". I have just recently discovered the joy of being in the great outdoors, and I wish that when Jo-Lo will be older to go on camping trips, my wife and I will still be physically able to do so.

My camping friends and I, along with Tol Pare Harry went to Mt. Maculot for a break last weekend. We discovered soon that Level 1 does not necessarily mean "easy" for everyone. We got lost twice, and we took breaks whenever we can as we tried to catch our breath. But as we sat on the Rockies with the Taal Lake spread out before us with the wind on our face, it was all worth it.

The simple comic below is a narrative of this unforgettable adventure. Simply click on a page to enlarge.

Here are a couple more photos on the view from the Rockies.

The above comic was done using Comic Life, a Mac application.

10 March 2006

Indian food, anyone?

In case you guys were wondering (for an entire week! Sorry, things got a bit hectic at work) on the polo result (see previous post), we settled for a less-subdued design instead. Would I wear one of the polos below on a dare? hmmm... How much? :-)

Anyways, if you happen to be in the Salcedo Village area and land exactly in the intersection of Leviste and Salcedo Streets near the Sagittarius Building, you may have seen this small food shop bearing the "unimaginative" name "Indian Food". This is where me and my friend Harry landed one lunchtime, when we went out of the office a bit late and found our favorite Jollijeep no longer had food available, and the store nearby we visited once had already closed. So when we saw this place, we shrugged and said, "why not?"
Admittedly, we have actually been avoiding this place because the exhaust near their signage always gives off the familiar scent of curry and spices. So we have this notion that when we leave the place, we'd be smelling of Indian food!

Surprisingly, the place did not smell as strongly. It's just a simple place actually where you can have an out-of the-ordinary lunch or dinner. The menu items, though in english, were not familiar so the waitress patiently explained what the dishes are all about. This, inspite of the fact that there is a short description of the food in the menu. Perhaps behind the smile, the waitress is wondering if we could not read. Mighty nice of her to indulge our questions though.
Not knowing what to order, we settled for their more popular dishes: The metti fish (at the foreground) and shrimp curry, and of course, rice.

The food was surprisingly delicious! We enjoyed trying out both dishes. They would ask if you want it hot or medium and mild, and I believe we settled for hot. After all, since we're going out on a different food trip, why not indulge in the "extreme"?

We are not much on spicy food though, but interestingly we found the food to be just right. It was not the "gimme water nowwww!" spicy hot thing.

A little note, though. One rice is enough. We ordered one more bowl of rice to split between us and we barely finished it. Pour sauce on your rice sparingly. You would find the deliciousness "too tasty" after some time. It's really good for a single rice only.

And of course, it being spicy and all, there is an aftertaste so better brush immediately after or have your breath mints ready if you cannot get to the toothpaste just yet. Strange though that the Persian Kebab restaurant at Makati Avenue does not seem to have this strong an aftertaste... but that place is much classier.

Overall, service is great, the food is great. Just don't overindulge. Damage between the two of us is around P250.00 with soda each.

Happy weekend everyone!

06 March 2006

Groovy Baby!

Last weekend, Pauline and I accompanied good friend Francis Pasaway to the mall as he was going to buy three long-sleeve polo shirts for office use. He was taking time to complete his choices, so Pauline decided it was time for a Watson makeover!

We saw these fabulous clothing straight from the creative imagination of who knows-who. Help me and Pauline choose which I should buy! Please!

The speckled sunkist style
Inter-galactic inspired polo
Snowflakes galore shirt
Daddy Groovy shirt
That 70s show!

03 March 2006

Fontana Leisure Park

(We actually went here late last year for our company business planning. I would love to say I planned to blog this at the start of summer 2006, but the truth of the matter is it got buried in the 2005 yuletide festivities. I was looking for material to write about while in the cab this morning and found these photos!)
Summertime is upon us! The merry month of March has just drawn a close to February, and the chilly winds of Baguio will soon be replaced by mildly cool breeze. Time to hit the great outdoors and take a break! Here's a recommendation: Fontana Leisure Park located in the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, a couple of hours' drive from Manila.

Rather than staying in the hotel, you can actually stay in cottages that are for rent. There are lots of these in the area, but the weekend vacationers come in droves to this place so better reserve early. The cottages are spacious and with the amenities of home less the pet cat and dog. You may even cook there if you want, and barbecues are actually quite popular with weekenders.

Duplex cottages. A lawn is located at the back for barbecue parties.
Airconditioning, cable TV, huge, comfortable sofas, and high mobile phone signal strength make it difficult to leave the cottage , especially at high noon.

Me so sleepy...Aside from the Casino, the main attraction of Fontana is its water-themed park. Water, water, water everywhere!

This is the wave pool, where artificial waves simulate the feeling of being on an actual ocean shore. Jump in sync with the waves or sit by the "shoreline" and simply enjoy the lapping waters.

Kids can't get enough of ths ship with slides, tunnels, nets, and water all over the place. Now is the time to play with water and not get reprimanded!
Lazily spend the afternoon drifting around this river...
Or you can enjoy getting into the action ...
and hit those water slides!
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