26 February 2007

Flora at Panagbenga

This blog will become flowery in the days to come in celebration of Baguio City's Panagbenga 2007. The photos below were taken last Saturday at the Landscape Competition at Burnham Park.

Monday is photo experiment day! Please rate my photos as a batch ( but let me know which you like best!) in terms of roses. 1 rose for the lowest score, 5 roses for the highest score. Thanks!

23 February 2007

The Crazy Chicken

Whenever we get a chance to visit SM Megamall in Ortigas, we drop by El Pollo Loco for lunch. Why? Because you cannot find this restaurant anywhere else. This is the only branch they have, right?

[scurries off to clickthecity.com]

Oh, they have another branch in SM Mall of Asia.

So... what's so special about El Pollo Loco? Just that their chicken tastes really good. Add spicy salsa to it, mix with the yellowish rice, wrap it around pita bread, and voila! A pollo loco feast.

And that's where we found ourselves last week after our ingress for an event: at an El Pollo Loco feast. There were four of us. We ordered a 12-piece chicken meal with rice, pita bread, spicy salsa, and large drinks. Let me see now... that's three pieces of chicken per person! Oh wow.

But guess what. We were so engrossed with the food that we just realized we consumed more than half a chicken each when we were already done. And we left with full stomachs indeed!

Get the crazy chicken at the Ground Floor of Megamall Building A, near the bridgeway.

21 February 2007

Today is Ash Wednesday

This is the start of the Lenten Season, a time for Catholics to renew their faith through penance, abstinence, and re-connect with the Gospel.

Ash Wednesday is marked with the faithful having a cross on their forehead made of ash, with the priest saying "repent and believe in the Gospel."

On this day, those aged 18 thru 60 will fast. But it's not completely not taking in any bit of food or drink; having one full meal, eating lightly for the two other meals, and eliminating morning, afternoon, and midnight snacks can be considered fasting. But if circumstances do not allow you to fast (such as an illness), then you are exempted.

Those aged 14 and above will abstain from meat as well. Abstinence from smoking, drinking and other forms of worldly indulgences are encouraged as well.

And when you fast, do not go about your business with a face like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Groom your hair, wash your face, and smile. For things that are done in secret (like charity work) are seen by our Lord, and he blesses you.

Have a meaningful Holy Week, everyone.

19 February 2007

Alarm clock

Shutter: 1/15; Aperture: f 3.5; Focal length: 50.70mm

I'm trying to study how photography works, and will post some of my experiments here. In fact, I'm not yet very familiar with the terms described above! hahaha. Just copied it off the properties of the photo. Hope you will also enjoy reviewing this and future snapshots. Tips and suggestions most welcome!

14 February 2007

Have a hot and spicy Valentine!

So... how are you spending your Valentine's? Want to know how I'm spending it? Well... we are going to be at this IT event in EDSA Shangri-La on the 15th and 16th. The ingress is -- you guessed it -- on the 14th! We'll be there practically the entire afternoon and probably most of the night if the set-up doesn't work as planned. Oh well.

But here's a hot and spicy Valentine's to you ... courtesy of my pickled peppers recipe ... version 2!

I have blogged about a pickled pepper recipe last 2005 (wow! time flies!). Check it out here and the result here. The first version involved a fair amount of chopping and cooking. Well, here's another recipe that's simpler to make!

You'll need:
Peppers (used for sinigang)
lasona (small, red onions)
vinegar (preferably cane vinegar)
whole black pepper
hot water
cold water
And before I forget... when we bought the peppers in Baguio, the first vendor we were going to buy from said "hindi maanghang yan" (my peppers are not the hot variety). We asked if this would be good for pickling, and she said it's better if it gives a little bite. So we got the kind that's on the spicy side. You can't tell the difference straight away between the hot and the regular kind, but the hot one has a darker shade of green.

So here's the way to pickle your pepper...

Wash the sinigang peppers clean.

Remove the stem and slice it into two. Remove the seeds. Is there a way to remove the seeds without touching a lot of them? My fingers are still burning 24 hours after we did this! Plastic gloves, perhaps?
Oh yes. Be careful where you place your hands after removing the seeds. Even after a couple of thorough hand washing, it can still sting! I learned this the hard way.

Guess what I did that made me wary of the power of this pepper.

Remove the skin of the onions. Slicing not needed if they're small.

Submerge the pepper in hot water (preferably freshly-boiled) in 3 to 5 seconds, then remove and pour cold water over it. We were told it's supposed to keep the crispiness of the pepper intact.

Now get the bottles and it's time to stuff in the peppers and the onions! For a regular jam bottle, we added three teaspoonfuls of sugar and around 2 tablespoons of black pepper.

Pour the vinegar and seal it up.
It's recommended that you store the pickles at room temperature for 7 days or more. If you're sure the jam bottles are sealed tight, it's also recommended to keep the bottles upside-down for a couple of days so the pepper at the top will be "cooked". Then bring it back to its right position for the remaining days.

I can't wait to try this out. When it's time to savour the pickled peppers, better have some fried fish handy! Yum yum!

A Hot and Spicy Happy Valentine's, everyone!

12 February 2007

Weekend fair

Yesterday afternoon, my wife invited me to join her in her practice driving at South Drive in Baguio (South Drive is a long stretch of road from the former gate of John Hay, passing through the Hyatt Hotel site, and out to Wright Park). So Jo-Lo and I went with her. I wasn't exactly keen on dressing up to go, and I thought we'd be in the car most of the time. So I went with just a pair slippers, shorts, and a shirt on, while baby Jo-Lo wore white shirt and pants that were showing signs of wear from the day's eating of ice cream.

Having finished our afternoon drive, we decided to park at the Orchidarium at Burnham Park and take a leisurely stroll to the market to buy some veggies. We were indeed surprised when we spotted rows upon rows of stalls. Ah, yes. The month-long celebration of Panagbenga (Flower Festival) is upon us.

The tower beyond the clump of trees is the City Hall.
Lots of things are being sold at the booths. Silver jewelry, wood carvings, clothing, toys, food.
This one sells woven items made from newspapers!

The photo below was taken near Rizal Park where an archway welcomes you to trade fair. We were wondering why some of the stalls had a name of a country in it. We soon knew why as the archway read "International Trade Fair."

However, there was nothing international about the fair. All the goods being sold were local (save for some "Made in China" goods). Which prompted local newspapers to criticize the misleading "international" theme.I do hope they remove the country labels and drop the international theme. Nevertheless, there are some nice finds in the trade fair. I wonder if the native sling bags here are cheaper than the one at the Maharlika Livelihood Center? I better check it out next time we drop by again; I want one.

09 February 2007

And the diagnosis is...

Maxilliary sinusitis. WebMD defines it as "an infection of the maxillary sinus, which is located in the mid-face". I was having my ears checked, and they found my sinusitis instead. Guess the nose, ears, and eyes are really interconnected, huh? At least the word "chronic" or "acute" is not appended to the diagnosis. I was being asked to go back so the EENT doctor can prescribe medication.

Thanks to everyone who wished me luck on the CT Scan! Unfortunately, I might not be able to see the scan itself; it's up there in Baguio. I'm feeling much better, by the way. The pain in my right ear is not as strong as before, and its recurrence is not as frequent.

Happy weekend!

06 February 2007

My first CT scan

I arrived at the SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart with my wife yesterday at 1PM. We made way for the CT Scan laboratory and unceremoniously handed over my Doctor's request. It was for the CT scan of my paranasal sinuses. I was being scanned for the possibility of a cyst that's affecting my ear. Oh boy.

I was ushered into a sparsely-furnished room. In the middle was a huge, white, donut-shaped contraption with a narrow bed. I was half-expecting to be asked to disrobe but I was just asked to remove my shoes and lie down.

Soon the bed moved into position and my head was parallel with the donut-shaped thing. Inspite of the reason why I was there, I couldn't help but be in awe with the medical advancements we have done so far. Take this CT scan for example. I simply have to lie down and they can see what the inside of my head looks like! Amazing.

They then asked me to lie on my stomach, chin up. Yep, quite an uncomfortable position. But still better than having to go through a scalpel and slice open my head. Ugh. Yep, this option is just fine with me.

After some time, the attendant informed me that we're done. Whew! Now for the scan results... which will have to wait for another post.

01 February 2007

Sick leave

I have just reported for work today. Yep, I was ill with something over the weekend.

I have been bugged by a painful sensation in my right ear for about a month now. I didn't have it checked because I thought it was just the result of my going up to Baguio every weekend. My ears would pop every so often when I go down to Manila. But the pain would persist for days after I the trip.

Then something strange happened last weekend. The pain increased last Sunday, and by the afternoon, I was already running a slight fever. That prompted sickness the following day, and I was not able to report for work. Tuesday found me at the SLU Hospital. I got my ears checked. There was indeed some swelling in my outer ear. I was prescribed painkillers and antibiotics.

I also had an x-ray whose results were to be released the following day. And so on Wednesday, I was back at the hospital. I have sinusitis and something like a cyst on the right side of my head. I need a CT scan but I have to go back to work and catch up on the deadlines piling up on my desk. The CT Scan will have to wait for this Saturday.

On the bright side, I was able to be with my family for four whole days. It was wonderful. I do hope CT scan would show up negative.
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