26 April 2007

Instant noodle, instant gratification, instant review

Last night, Harry (my pad buddy) and I arrived home earlier than usual. That's 8:00PM. In our line of work, it's normal to go home at 9 or 10PM so while others are preparing to call it a night, we sneak in an hour or two to unwind by watching TV (or, as I have found myself enjoying lately, listening to radio. But that's another story).

So imagine our wonderment at the couple of extra hours we had on hand that night! Watch a movie? No money. Watch TV? Ok. While he watched, I rummaged through my stuff looking for my eyeglasses and found my shades instead. And then I scanned through some craft books I bought months back.

Would you believe that relaxing can also make you hungry? That's where we found ourselves at half past eleven. So wouldn't it be great to have a midnight snack? So I brought out the instant chicken sopas and started to cook.

Ten minutes later... the noodles were still small and tough. Twenty minutes later... still small and less tough but still tough. But it was already under fire for twice the recommended time so we poured it into bowls.

Man... it was bad. No mater how thoroughly you mixed it up while cooking, some of the powdered flavoring stuck in the elbow macaroni was not dissolved. Munch into one of those flavor-packed noodles and it can send shockwaves on your taste buds. Really.

The instructions on how to cook it was simple enough. I wonder where it went wrong. And nope, it wasn't expired. My verdict: handle with care, or go for the real chicken sopas.

But here's the thing. Harry liked his share and consumed his bowl. To each his own, eh?

We both agreed though that it was not a satisfying meal (this is the midnight snack that turned to a meal). So we bought instant noodles with egg and pan de sal. Ten minutes later, our hunger pangs were satisfied. Yay! Now that hit right on the spot!
Ummm... this time Harry said it was a bit salty. Eh?

Now with a large chunk of our budget going to eating out, we plan to stock up on food that can last us a week which we can have as midnight snack or it can go with rice for dinner as well. Perhaps you have tried and tested recipes and food ideas you can share with us! Thanks!


I'd like to share other photos from Fort Santiago:

24 April 2007

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is a defense settlement established during the Spanish era. There were also dungeons here, where infidels and rebels were kept and tortured. This place is more popularly known as the place where the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal spent his final moments before facing the firing squad on December 29, 1896.

I found myself in Manila one weekend for work reasons. It's a half-day affair on saturdays, and soon I found myself staring at the office ceiling. Trek buddy Ruben invited me for an afternoon of cultural enlightenment and photography session at Fort Santiago. I have never been to the place. Intramuros, sure, but never Fort Santiago. So we were off to the Fort!

A ticket costs 40 pesos for adults.

Shops line up the entrance, selling paintings and souvenir items.

This "tunnel" leads to the chapel below.

In the heat of the afternoon sun, the chapel was surprisingly cool, with air passageways at the sides of the chapel.

You can just imagine what an imposing fortress this was! It still is. Notice the "line" at the middle of the entrance? This is a set of footsteps preserved in metal. This commemmorates the final steps of Dr. Jose Rizal to meet his fate.

This was also a very cool place. We were quite afraid to go into this cellar / dungeon, our imagination getting the best of us. We tiptoed downstairs. It was completely dark. And cool too. At the bottom of the stairs, we let our cameras flash to light up whatever lay ahead then dashed upstairs. Our cameras revealed a very spacious room. We wondered if this was a windowless dungeon.

Cannons were scattered about the fort. This was indeed food for thought for me, especially after reading Phil's blog on his take about the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. We have such a rich history and culture from the Spanish occupation (how many of us proudly say that we have Spanish blood?), and yet not many people do realize that it wasn't exactly 300 years of love, peace and harmony. This fort, an impressive symbol of Spanish domination at that time, imprisoned Filipino Nationalists, among them one of the greatest Filipinos ever. A thing of beauty with a violent past.

Yet, you realize that it is indeed important to look back and remember your past, for it will forever be part of your present and future.

When you drop by Manila, visiting Fort Santiago should be part of your itinerary. Check out Hotel reservations in Manila for convenient booking.


Saw this in Alternati's blog:

One Day Blog Silence

On April 30, let us all pause in silence for the victims at Virginia Tech, and for the others who fell victim to similar circumstances.

23 April 2007

Food and Friends

When we have friends in Baguio, we always make it a point to have a get-together over food, no matter how simple it is. Here are some photos that couldn't quite find their way into the blog, and so has ended up as a collective set of photos and friends.

Breakfast is served!

I separate the yolk from the white when I scramble eggs. When the whites get frothy, I add in the yolk, dash of salt, and a couple tablespoons water. I saw it as part of a recipe for omelet back in grade school and has been doing it since.
The fish strips (below left) come from Davao. At the lower right is homemade pickled pepper. There's my scrambled eggs, scrambled just the way I like it! Meatloaf, butter, and bread completes this simple breakfast for our guests.
Oh, there's some fresh tomatoes too!
There's Jo-Lo with his camera grin.

Late-night coffee!

The next set of photos is from a late night out at upper Session Road. The place is Vizco's, serving yummy coffee and cake.

Pauline and Jo-Lo burning the midnight oil with us.

This was my order. The predictable me usually just order either apple pie or carrot cake when I don't feel adventurous.

We chatted until midnight, bracing ourselves against the cool night air while chatting with friends.

19 April 2007

Dear Future Me

A friend and I have been watching the hit TV series Heroes recently, where ordinary men and women possess extraordinary powers. One day we theorized what sort of powers we would like to have in case something in our DNAs get "messed" up and get evolutionized a gazillion notches up the chain.

So what will it be? Invisibility, memory recall, flying?

"It would be great to have Petrelli's power. He merely touches the others and he can already imitate their power." My friend said.

Hmmm... good point. Right now, the only real power I have is walking fast (friends usually call out to me and ask what's the hurry... it's just that we walk everywhere in Baguio that it's second nature. And then there's also my power to have migraines.

"Oh wait... Hiro's power is cool too. The power to bend time and space."

Oh yes. Wouldn't it be great to go back in time and correct your mistakes? Or go forward in time to see how you and the world would fare? I wonder how you would count your age then, with your present getting mixed with the past and future? Hmmm...

Well, here's a way to travel and catch up with your old self in the future. Best part is, you don't need to have such power!

FutureMe.org enables you to write a message to yourself and send it to a date of your choice in the future. What an excellent idea! Why haven't I thought of this myself!?

Uncle BatJay introduced this site to the blogkadahan members. It was such an interesting topic that it's currently the thread in the blogkadahan blog. My present self is planning to write my future self as well. It's a great idea in keeping track of where you were and where you will be when you receive the letter in the future.

I can just imagine my surprise when I read an e-mail from my past self (I would feign surprise hehehe). Delighted? Or Saddened? Depends on what I would have done with my life between the creation and submission of the letter.

What about you? Interested to write to your future self? Then head on to FutureMe.org today. It's free!

Happy weekend everyone!

Photo: Rizal goes to Luneta for execution before the firing squad. Taken at Fort Santiago.

17 April 2007

Good Taste!

For somebody who's lived in Baguio for practically his entire life, you'd think that I would know every nook and cranny of Baguio City, right? Wrong.

I had familiar haunts and playgrounds as a kid and as a student and with friends, but I wasn't really the outgoing kind of person. It is only recently when I'm working in Manila that I'm rediscovering Baguio City and appreciating it more. Not that I ignored Baguio when I was there. Heck no. In fact, I love having spent my childhood and school years there. We cooked on clay pottery, wandered all over Baguio, saw a pitcher plant and venus fly trap in the wild, caught tadpoles and grasshoppers (I left spiders to my brother who expertly cared for them and had spider fights), and as students we'd read books and do our assignment under the relaxing shade of pine trees in Burnham Park.

But I digress.

Here is another wonderful discovery that's been in Baguio City for the longest time. It was actually a place my wife learned about from her colleagues. The restaurant, called Good Taste Cafe and Restaurant, is hidden behind Baguio Center Mall in Magsaysay Avenue. I think the terminal behind this mall is also where you can get your ride to Sagada.

The look of the place is a testament to a simple past when Baguio didn't have Jollibees and McDonalds, and the mall before it was once a huge open-air jeepney terminal where enterprising folks would put up magic trick shows with snakes and sell medicines in small bottles while they make their pesence known using megaphones (these very popular then; I used to mill about with the crowd and gawk at the magical things they did).

Whoops! I got lost in memory lane again...

The place was simple but generally clean.

We ordered just for the two of us: sinigang na tilapia (fish in sour soup), lumpiang shanghai, yang chow fried rice, and drinks. When our orders arrived, it was sufficient to feed four!
The soup was excellent, the fish fresh! There was more lumpiang shanghai than we can manage. The rice too, advertised as good for three (I count as two hehehe), but it was more than we can handle.

The only qualm my wife had was that her mango juice evidently came from the can. She was served the same from a similar restaurant before... so I hope she sticks to iced tea next time. hehe.

Other than that, the food was great!

We finished eating already and look at what was left unfinished. We had our leftovers packed up. So guess what was for dinner.
Guess how much the bill was!

After attending to some matters, we visited my parents. Our youngest sister Ruby was there with her daughter. "Oh, where is baby Jaja?", we asked. It's been ages since we last saw her. And there she was, no longer a baby! How time flies! But we still called her baby Jaja. Too bad they're all growing without seeing much of their cousins. We asked Kiefer and Kyle (my younger brother's kids) to visit us one time and play with baby Jo-Lo too.

16 April 2007

Puerto Galera

Leap of Faith
There were lots of boats in the water ... getting this shot required patiently waiting for the other boats to disperse.
We rode in one of these going to and from Puerto Galera.
Off to snorkel we go!

Baby Jo-Lo and I sitting by the beach enjoying the late afternoon sights and letting the water rush and subside before us.

Congratulations to Fr. Efren N. Reyes (more popularly known as Fr. Wren) of the Missionaries of Jesus on his 25th Anniversary of Ordination to Priesthood yesterday, April 15th. My wife and I and her colleagues from St. Louis College La Union visited him on this special day at the Sto. Nino Parish in Modesto, San Mateo, Rizal.

13 April 2007

Songs that hug and tug

I was tagged by Lady Cess some time ago for 7 songs that "hug and tug" or, as I would interpret it, songs that have senti value to me. So here goes...

1. Eyes on Me. - Are you a gamer, particularly of the RPG genre? If so, you'd know this song by Faye Wong. It comes from the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VIII.

We were thinking of a song for our wedding back in 2002. We wanted it to be different. I remembered this song and played it to my wife. She liked it. I then asked one of our officemates to sing it in our wedding. We brought a CD for the background music, then discovered that the Church did not have a CD player! I couldn't signal to my officemate that it's ok if she couldn't sing it. But soon her lovely voice carried the familiar tune in accapela. It was beautiful.

2. Smoke Gets in your Eyes. - This one's a really old song. I'm a sucker for Steven Spielberg films, and I saw the movie "Always" with this song featured in one of the touching moments. Watch the movie! It's great. This song always remind me of that movie and the feeling of sadness that came with it.

3. Pretty in Pink. - a song from the 80s by The Psychedelic Furs. I can't understand the lyrics so when I sing with it, I mumble whatever phrases and syllables that sound like it. Hah!

I love the movie with the same title too by Director John Hughes. In fact, Princess Em even bought me a DVD copy from the States! Her pasalubong to me. Thanks again Em!

4. If You Leave - by the Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark, or OMD. Another 80s great. I love the violins interspersed with the drums and guitars. Whenever I hear this song, I get transported back to the time when I was in my teens and we were watching Pretty in Pink at my friend's living room. They were well-off and had a VHS player. "If you leave" was playing in the scene where the prom was starting and an overhead sweep of the dance floor was being shown. The song and the scene blended so well that you knew something important was going to happen soon.

5. Why Don't you Care. - Do you know the original Bagets movie? This song was performed by Harner. In the early 90s, I scoured music stores and record bars for the Baget soundtrack in order to get this particular song. It was so catchy I couldn't get it out of my head. And then a DVD was released last year. I got to hear the song again and then I knew I had to have a copy of that song. There was the internet this time. I was able to contact somebody who was willing to sell me a copy. I now have this song on my playlist! After more than ten years!

May I add an extra song? Farewell by Raymond Lauchengco. Graduation song from our high school!

6. Bato sa Buhangin. - If you know this song, then we must be from the same generation. Hahaha. Actually I can only remember snippets of this song now, but there was a time when I knew this song by heart. I was in Grade 2 then and we were to sing in front of the class as a graded performance. I sang this song. After my performance, the teacher said, "Please choose another song next time. You don't know yet the meaning of this song".
Perhaps the song reminded my teacher of her ex-boyfriend? hehehe

There are a lot of things I have already forgotten that happened in my youth, but this one stuck. And I don't know why.

7. Someone's Waiting for You. - This was sung by Lea Salonga, one of my favorite artists. I knew this song by heart when I was a kid, and it accompanied me in my times of solitude. I was a bit of a loner then. Here's the lyrics to this wonderful song.

Be brave little one
Make a wish for each sad little tear
Hold your head up though no one is near
Someone's waiting for you

Don't cry little one
There'll be a smile where a frown used to be
You'll be part of a love that you see
Someone's waiting for you

Always keep a little pray'r in your pocket
And you're sure to see the light
Soon, there'll be joy and happiness
And your little world will be bright
Have faith little one
'Til your hopes and your wishes come true
You must try to be brave little one
Someone's waiting to love you

Always keep a little pray'r in your pocket
And you're sure to see the light
Soon, there'll be joy and happiness
And your little world will be bright
Have faith little one
'Til your hopes and your wishes come true
You must try to be brave little one
Someone's waiting to love you

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to tag somebody else. I have to run off to a meeting right now, so if you fancy doing the tag, please do so.
Happy weekend, everyone!

11 April 2007

Puerto Galera

Puerto Galera was one of those "so near and yet so far" places for me. Friends have said that it's so near and accessible from Manila. I didn't believe them. I mean, how can a popular beach area be so near this crowded place?

But with our Sagada vacation cancelled last week, we hastened to make last-minute trip decisions. And Puerto Galera it was.

Peak season = throngs of people. Didn't mind at all. I would love to see Puerto Galera during off-season too, though.

Bars are in adequate supply by the shore, with Bob Marley singing to the groove of the summer heat.
Shirts! beach wear! Bracelets! Ref magnets! Souvenir shops vie for attention.
Jo-Lo had a wonderful time playing with the sand. He got his feet wet too.
What's beach life without barbecue? We had meals in some of the restaurants...

... and when we got quite settled in, we brought out our cooking skills! Yoyo (the guy at left) was able to get a great deal on a whole tuna for our dinner. Yum yum!
I remember my wife Tina was quite timid at getting into the water for snorkeling last year at Boracay. Now, she's become more adventurous and tried it on her own while I looked out for baby Jo-Lo in the boat. Go Dearest!
Watching the sun set by the beach was really nice. For a couple of late afternoons, we just sat by the beach, listened to the waters crash to the shore, with the other people milling about and having a great time, and watch the sun turn from a a yellowish hue, to a mesmerizing red as it finally calls it a day and takes a dip in the waters of Puerto Galera.

Now that I've been there, I still couldn't believe how relatively close and accessible it is from Manila! A really nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Manila. And you can really have a great time there without creating a hole in your pocket during off-peak season.

Thanks to my old and new friends who made the stay memorable!
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