28 December 2007

Lessons from the Lanzones

Today, looking at all the fruits we received as gifts from friends, such as apples, pears, pomelos, dragon fruit, persimmon and grapes, I wondered why no one bothered to give out local fruits as gifts for Christmas. Even the pomelo was imported. Where were all the locally available fruit? To my knowledge, pears, apples and persimmon still do not grow in the tropical climate of the Philippines.

In my mind, I went through all our local fruits and the various ways we usually eat them at home:

- Mangosteen: We in our clan, for some reason, call this as "Mango-stan". My favorite fruit! Since I was a kid, I would feel that all that thick purple rind was such a waste for it is usually thrown away. Now we know of its natural curative properties, even for Cancer.

- Balimbing (Star fruit): As seen in the picture above, of a still unripe and green Balimbing, we still have a tree of this in Pasig. This is so good when it is ripe. Say no to the giant ones found in markets these days, they just don't have the same flavor. Say no to real-life political balimbings as well, hehe.

- Siniguelas (Spanish Plum): As we were growing up, our 'katiwala' in Binangonan would bring 'kaings' of these small fruit to our home from our farm. My mom prefers the slightly raw and crunchier fruit, I prefer the fully ripe, softer ones.

- Lanzones: You can't stop eating this once you've started. A word of advice though, don't eat it on an empty stomach, unless you're constipated. Major laxative! You can also smoke dried lanzones peels to drive away mosquitoes. No, you don't smoke it like a cigarette, you burn it and just allow it to smoke. Duh.

- Duhat (Java Plum): We had a huge tree of this in Binangonan. We would place them in a sealed container with a little rock salt and shake them vigorously, afterwhich, voila! Non-stop duhat eating. The salt hides the somewhat bitter taste while all the shaking tenderizes, and I swear, sweetens them. They make this into wine too, though I have never tried it.

- Kasuy (Cashew): I think I am allergic to the nuts, my tongue hurts for days after, but the fruits are wonderful! What is better are the young leaves of the tree. Eat them raw with some spicy, fried dish. It is bitter, but

- Pinya (Pineapple): I don't particularly like this fruit because I usually eat my fruits either first thing in the morning or right before meals, on an empty stomach, and this fruit always gives me major acid problems. I have only tried one variety of pinya that I ever liked, and that was at the Dole plantation, and it is for export only.

- Durian: Ah, the fruit you either hate or love. Well, I loooovvvve digging into them with my bare hands! I love its texture, its taste, everything about it, including its smell. Admittedly, I was impartial to this fruit, and even disapproved of its smell, that is until I tasted a fresh durian with my bare hands in Davao. Alas, the love affair commenced...

- Santol: There are sweet santol and there are sour santol. I, proudly state, that I have uses for both kinds. Unlike others who enjoy allowing the santol seed to swim gleefully in their mouths, I would rather leave some 'hacked' whole fruits in a jug of water overnight in the ref for a refreshing drink the following day. As for the sour fruits, which most people neglect because they are 'inedible', I discard the seeds, grate the inner part of the rind, ferment in salt for a few days, and cook with chilis and coconut milk for an appetizing entree. I'm serious!

- Kamias: As in the picture above, our Kamias tree grows next to our Bayabas tree, and if you look closely, can see the the fruits of the Bayabas in the background and the Kamias bunch in the foreground. My Lola used to make candies out of these Kamias fruits. As kids, we would also eat them as-is, with a pinch of MSG (Oooh, we didn't know they were bad then). Its sourness would really make our mouths water. Kamias is also wonderful as a souring agent for sinigang, provided it is done properly. I remember my lola instructing us to clean our hands with mashed-up Kamias fruits, as she often did. It was supposedly a good hand cleanser.

Bayabas (Guava) - Have you ever tried the local 'manibalang' guavas, the ones not as large as the imported varieties? Well, you should! I was mostly indoctrinated on the imported ones, which I found hard to eat with all the seeds and really, it wasn't all that tasty. On top of that, guava cooked in sinigang actually doesn't appeal to my sense of smell. That is, until I chanced upon one of the help in our Tagaytay farm meandering beneath a guava tree, muching the time away. I got curious and tried that small yellow-green orb of a fruit, and it was like..."where have you been all my life?". It has to be 'manibalang' or at that point in its maturity where it borders between being too crunchy and too soft, or just right....right? I started appreciating sinigang sa baybas as well...

- Langka (Jackfruit): Eaten ripe or... taken from the tree while still immature, chopped into bite size pieces and broiled in coconut milk. Ginataang Langka! "Kamansi" or Breadfruit is another fruit which tastes good prepared the same way as immature Langka. Try freezing ripe Langka so it stays longer. Then, when craving for some, just pull some from the freezer.

- Avocado: We have an avocado tree which we regularly take from, and anticipate all year round. The kids, wife and I love Avocado mashed with milk and sugar, then frozen. The leaves, we use for tea. I learned this from an old-timer I caught picking fresh leaves.

- Dalandan: Among all the citrus fruits, I love this the best. It is great eaten as it is, or juiced and mixed with pandan water. I swear, I can tell even while blindfolded, if the citrus scent is from a Dalandan, Pomelo, Calamansi or Orange. Its scent is definitely unique and easy on my palate --- not too tangy, not too sour.

- Kaimito: Has everyone tried Kaimito? Chilled? As is? I really like this fruit, I can gobble up several pieces at a sitting. The tree in our backyard is testament to our prolific want of the fruit. You can still see wooden stairs, sungkit and nets leaning against our trees.

And there are others: tiyesa, marang, mabolo (which I still need to try) and all the rest of the clan... I love you all!

Considering that the mango and watermelon are probably out of season, I just tried imagining how good and juicy they tasted when they were still around during this past year.

I enjoy discovering new fruit varieties, specially the ones endemic to a certain location. I once met a certain Dr. Coronel who was an expert in Philippine trees and fruits. He operates a nursery in Los Banos. It was there that I formulated the concept that what is good for you to eat depends on what grows where you live and what is available at that point in time. Watermelons, for example, seem to do a good job of replenishing lost body fluids and minerals during the summer months, when they are naturally available.

Back in Subic Bay, there was this tree that bore fruits similar to a longan. Upon opening, you were greeted with a large seed with thin-paperlike sweet flesh covering it. That was the edible part. I saw the monkeys eating it, so I ate it too. I later learned of the tree's name, which escapes me now, and that it only bore fruit every five years. Lucky me, I thought.

I just noticed that my grnadmother's old cacao tree is packed with fruits. I was told that one could eat the flesh like a santol. I think I'll go and try some...

Yum....eaten just like Santol.

Oh, and the lesson from the Lanzones?

Not so long ago, when I learned that it took at least 15 to 20 years for a Lanzones seedling to bear fruit, I quickly remarked that it was not worth the wait to plant them. Even the economics probably wouldn't work out. I was then told, "It is not for us, but for our children. If everyone thought that way, we wouldn't be enjoying Lanzones right now."

Aha! I was dumbfounded. Barado! Guilty! Guilty!

(Topmost photo: Cacao/Cocoa Fruit; All photos taken from my Lola's backyard. Sorry, no picture of the Lanzones, we don't have a tree of it.)

24 December 2007

Christmas Cheers!

Before I get drunk tonight and lose my ability to write meaningfully, or carry on a decent narrative, let me take this opportunity to greet one and all a special Christmas. Instead of reminiscing on all the great times gone by, and how things were so much better before, my wish for all is that before we let this season pass us by, let us all make this our best Christmas yet.

Christmas time is merry-making time with our loved ones, and that is what makes us long for Christmas the whole year round.

A Happy, Memorable and Joyful Christmas to all!

20 December 2007

The Peculiarity of the Philippine Language

It is difficult to remove biases, especially when these involve differences based on individual's geographical origins. Language, for one, often betrays one's roots which in turn serve as someone else's preconceieved notions about the person. The way one speaks is sometimes a cause for discrimination.

Particularly in the Philippines, the reason why a person from one region pronounces the same word differently from someone from another part of the country may then come as a surprise to you.

Did you know that the original Philippine alphabet, most likely the foundation of all our contemporary dialects, called 'Baybayin' or more commonly known as 'Alibata', only had three vowels? Yes, just three.

They are "A", "E or I" and "O or U". E or I? O or U? Yes, the use of "E" and "I" are interchangeable, and so is the use of "O" and "U"

This accounts for why both "Lalake" and "Lalaki" are acceptable pronunciations of the same word. And so with: Kain and Kaen, Multo and Molto, Diyos and Deyos, Laki and Lake.

So, the next time you hear a person from a different region as yours pronounce the word "kuya" as "koya", or vise versa, think hard about who is correct. In this case, both of you are.

(Photo courtesy of www.magandanghaponatbp.com)

16 December 2007

Venting Out

First of all, I must apologize: this post will not have a picture. Why? Read on.

I lost my mobile phone yesterday, and I cannot understand for the life of me, why it hurts so much. It is not even the amount, I know I will be able to manage that. The phone isn't even technically mine, as it is a service unit issued to me by one of my clients. I still have my personal line.

I have been processing my feelings and I am not even that attached to the device. I can't understand why I feel so miserable.

My last recollection of using it was at around 2PM yesterday, then as I usually do, slipped it in my right trouser pocket. It was around 6PM when I noticed it was gone. I have vague memories of glancing at it ocassionally or even feeling it in my pocket, basically out of habit, but then I wasn't sure.

Sure, it is the camera phone I use for my blog pictures, and I had taken some beautiful pictures with it I was meaning to post: some forest scenes with a real rainbow as backdrop, some sunset pics taken over the bay and some taken at night. All these pics were still on the phone, but I don't think that is why I feel miserable either.

It somehow feels like a bit of treachery, maybe more of fear, of insecurity, of inadequacy, of self-pity, of betrayal, of losing, of being cheated OR this feeling may even be a reaction from a previous experience, this dimension or otherwise.

Maybe I dropped it. Maybe it was picked from my pocket. Maybe I had misplaced it. I tried to retrace my steps, but I couldn't find it. You see, I had gone to 3 places between 2-6PM, and one of them was a party.

I have now decided to just let it go and bless the person who holds it right now.

Everything happens for a reason. Maybe the universe is collecting from me. Whatever it is, I must oblige if it must be.

14 December 2007

Razon's Halo-Halo

I have to confess, I took on a new vice: Regular doses of Razon's Halo-Halo. I know, I know, shame on me. But really, how could anyone resist? All it takes is one puff....I mean, try.
To the uninitiated, halo-halo is your Philippine summer staple made from a variety of sweetened fruits, beans, gelatin and other items of fancy topped with shaved ice, leche flan and/or ice cream, drizzled with milk or coconut cream. One can take it as is, but better to mix the concoction well and blend all the flavors together. What ensues is a cornucopia of different flavors, rummaging itself through the palate.
Now, halo-halo seems like typical fare which would go well only during the hot summer months, where the sweltering heat would naturally prod your body yearn for an icy sanctuary. Not the case these days, where halo-halo can be taken at any time of the year since outlets like Chow King started offering it all year round.
Razon's likewise has always prided itself in its pancit and halo-halo. The Razons branches that are in proximity to the areas I operate in, and that I am aware of, are the ones in Julia Vargas, Greenbelt I, San Fernando (Pampanga), Sta. Rita (Pampanga) and Olongapo. I have tried them all, with the exception of the Julia Vargas branch, and I found the halo-halo in Olongapo to be the best. That's what I think, at least. My friends say they all taste the same. I still beg to disagree.
A short disclaimer here: I have no idea if all these Razon's branches are actually part of the same chain. You know how it is with "The Original Adeng's Puto Binan", "Adeng's Real Puto Binan" and "Adeng's Puto Binan". You never really know, do you?
Back to the halo-halo...
What makes their halo-halo unique, for one, is that there are only 5 ingredients visible: macapuno (or it could also be plain sweetened coconut), sweetened saba bananas, all filled with finely shaven ice, drizzled with evaporated milk, and topped with a slice of leche flan. (Okay, technically its just 3: the bananas, leche flan and macapuno. Ice and milk are part of ALL halo-halo varieties.)
Second, their finely shaven ice rarely has lumps in them, and can easily be mixed with the ingredients as compared to others that need to be poked at constantly. Believe me, when you're dying to eat your halo-halo, poking at fused-together shaved ice can really be frustrating.
Third and last, I believe they have a secret ingredient. I can't believe all those simple items can result in such great tasting halo-halo. I think I've got an idea of what it is: crushed pinipig, or immature glutinous rice flakes. I think that is what makes the beverage a bit 'thick' and tastier than your usual fare.
But hey, with all the trouble in trying to figure out how to make the perfect halo-halo, and making it yourself, why not just order one at a Razon's branch. After all, it probably will cost just about P50.00 no matter which branch.
I wouldn't really recommend their puto to go with it, since the taste and consistency changes each time I order one. Their pancit, I must admit, I wouldn't really know. I'm vegetarian, remember? But hey, maybe I'll try and order one sometime, one without chicharon.

12 December 2007

The Hidden Wisdom of the Ages

I believe in learning from the wisdom of our elders, whose following statements have been generally 'hidden' from the public throughout time:

"Thou shalt not kill" does not apply to murder of one's own kind only, but to all living beings; and this Commandment was inscribed in the human breast long before it was proclaimed from Sinai. ~Leo Tolstoy

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Truely man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: we are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men. ~Leonardo da Vinci

We manage to swallow flesh only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing that we do. Cruelty... is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions. If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us - in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? ~Plutarch

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other.... ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? ~George Bernard Shaw

You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I'll buy you a new car. ~Harvey Diamond

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them. ~Samuel Butler, Note-Books, 1912

Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay. ~George Bernard Shaw

One farmer says to me, "You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;" and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle. ~Henry David Thoreau

The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of "real food for real people" you'd better live real close to a real good hospital. ~Neal Barnard, M.D.

My situation is a solemn one. Life is offered to me on condition of eating beefsteaks. But death is better than cannibalism. My will contains directions for my funeral, which will be followed not by mourning coaches, but by oxen, sheep, flocks of poultry, and a small traveling aquarium of live fish, all wearing white scarfs in honor of the man who perished rather than eat his fellow creatures. ~George Bernard Shaw

Vegetarianism is harmless enough though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness. ~Robert Hutchison, address to the British Medical Association, 1930

Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal. ~Ingrid Newkirk, National Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

We all love animals. Why do we call some "pets" and others "dinner?" ~k.d. lang

A mind of the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows. ~George Bernard Shaw

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses. ~George Bernard Shaw

I think if you want to eat more meat you should kill it yourself and eat it raw so that you are not blinded by the hypocrisy of having it processed for you. ~Margi Clark

As soon as I realized that I didn't need meat to survive or to be in good health, I began to see how forlorn it all is. If only we had a different mentality about the drama of the cowboy and the range and all the rest of it. It's a very romantic notion, an entrenched part of American culture, but I've seen, for example, pigs waiting to be slaughtered, and their hysteria and panic was something I shall never forget. ~Cloris Leachman

It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab Notes

A veteran USDA meat inspector from Texas describes what he has seen: "Cattle dragged and choked... knocking 'em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they're stunned they come back to life, and they're up there agonizing. They're supposed to be re-stunned but sometimes they aren't and they'll go through the skinning process alive. I've worked in four large [slaughterhouses] and a bunch of small ones. They're all the same. If people were to see this, they'd probably feel really bad about it. But in a packing house everybody gets so used to it that it doesn't mean anything." ~Slaughterhouse 1997

I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb. ~Vaslav Nijinsky

And this, I particularly like:

I won't eat anything that has intelligent life, but I'd gladly eat a network executive or a politician. ~Marty Feldman

And finally, from the smartest man that ever lived:

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ~Albert Einstein

10 December 2007

The Bats of Subic Bay

Bats are nocturnal creatures, which means that they sleep during the day and forage for fruits at night, this being the case with the Subic bats who are actually peaceful giant Philippine Fruit Bats, or also known as the Giant Flying Fox, and yes, you guessed it, found only here in the Philippines.

Recently, I have noticed that these bats are disturbed from their normal sleeping hours during the day by, I was told, poachers. The bats are relatively protected in the Subic reservation, but are at great risk when they leave its boundaries at night to search for food. Other factors may also contribute to their restlessness, including too much noise, which pretty much could have been the case in this particular instance.

Nevertheless, if the bats are frequently irritated, they tend to move their abodes, which has been observed several times in the past few years. Subic authorities has moved the original bat viewing area, where they used to be seen flying from their nest during twilight by the thousands. I have spent early evenings with my wife and kids, staring at the night sky as the bats almost turn the twilight sky's violet hue to an almost black as they travel overhead us.

The bat's slumber being disturbed, coupled with their dwindling population due to them being hunted as food (the bats are a delicacy in certain parts of nearby provinces, particularly Bataan) make for an unstable formula in the continued peaceful and balanced existence of these wonderful creatures.

Here, we see the bats converge and attempt to sleep in a tree just a few meters from our backyard. I suspect that they would rather spend the day sleeping in that tree rather than in their usual home.

I wonder if anyone is doing anything to protect our bats, and keep them from going....uhm....bats!

07 December 2007

Ilog Maria: Closer Than You Think

Back during the times we used to frequent our sanctuary in Tagaytay, I used to regularly drop by several places, one of them being Nature's Original where I usually get my stock of what-have-you's such as incense, vegetarian supplies and other unique items of fancy.
After moving to Subic Bay, one of the other places I used to visit that I began to miss was Ilog Maria. I started feeling the pangs once my supplies, practically available only from their farm, started running dry on me and I began longing for the scent and comfort they usually brought to me and my family.
So deep was my longing that I decided to google anything on Ilog Maria. I eventually found myself on the doorsteps of their website, quickly going through the products found on their Product Catalogue section and browsing through their FAQs. Oh, joy! There, I found all my favorite products.
Seeing that the website is frequently updated, I felt confident enough to sign up as a registered user on the site. After receiving an email to which I quickly confirmed to, my account was activated and I immediately proceeded to place my favorite items in the shopping cart. After going through everything I had placed in the cart, removing some items to stick to my self-imposed budget and double-checking if I had everything I really wanted, I checked them all out and waited. The whole process lasted no more than a few minutes, my decision-making process taking the longest time. I immediately received an email confirming my order and was told to keep tabs while they make sure they had everything I ordered in inventory.
I waited, and early the following day, Joel Magsaysay (the owner) emailed me confirming that they did have everything in stock. The email stated that they tended to respond to emails and orders in the mornings. He then proceeded to give me instructions on how to make payment. Glad that it was Joel who emailed me, I jumped at the chance to send him my regards and to let him know how we were doing.
Joel presented me with 7 payment options to get my payment across, which I must say is very savvy of him, and convenient for us: BPI ATM deposit, BPI online banking check-free payment, BPI over-the-counter deposit, GCash (via SMS or Globe business centers/accredited outlets) and Smart Money (via SMS or Smart wireless centers/Smart Padala centers).
After weighing my options, and going through my own process of elimination, taking the following factors into consideration:
  1. BPI Account or ATM Payment - I used to have a BPI account and was one of the first adopters of online banking in the country, as I recall way back in 1998, but I made the mistake of neglecting its low maintaing balance sometime last year when I ceased using it frequently, and my usual transactions stopped, when we moved residence. Suddenly, I found my account closed. That payment option is out.
  2. Smart Money - I gave up my Smart line and just kept my Globe line, augmented with a Sun line. I do have a Smart number, but it is issued by one of my clients for my use while I remain their consultant. I am not making the same mistake twice. Smart already refused to transfer a heavily used Smart money account to a prepaid line I took just to keep my account going when I dropped my postpaid line. Too bad for them, I stopped using Smart Money since. I mean, I had no choice! My account was linked to my OLD postpaid line that didn't exist anymore! I had more than P500 in that account and they never even considered that. This option too, out the drain. I wouldn't go to a wireless center just to transfer money with better options at hand, besides, parking is a hassle in their small, cramped wireless center in Olongapo, and we have no 7-11s in Subic Bay.

  3. GCash - Problem is, I had used my GCash wallet several times in the past few months that I only had P44.00 left! I wouldn't go out just to see to it that this transaction was done properly. Also, their business center is too far out in Olongapo to merit a trip.

Considering all these factors, and the fact that I had an easy way out, I simply sent a messenger to deposit the amount at BPI. upon his return, I scanned the deposit slip and emailed it back to Joel. I know, shame on me, not patronizing the tech route in spite of my profession, but this was really the most convenient given the circumstances. Hehe.

My total order amounted to P1,317.00 and since the total weight was 2Kgs, I just had to add an additional P155.00 for shipping.

Joel confirmed receipt of my email, including the scanned deposit slip, at 6AM the following day and shipped the products out.

I got my order via FedEx/Air21 at 10AM, in the jungles of Subic, the day after it was shipped. Total time it took me from placing the order, paying and finally receiving the order: around 60hrs or less than 3 days. Not bad, not bad at all! This all happened late in September of this year. It definitely saved me an unplanned trip, coerced by a major event such as a family reunion, with 3 kids a-lug and a 6 hour drive ahead of me.

The transaction may not have been true-blue full cycle e-Commerce, but which I consider a practical application of it nonetheless.

As you see from the picture above, this is all that is left from the original order, 2 months after. I particularly enjoy using their soap, which as you see from the picture is all but gone. We enjoy the Eucalyptus-Ginger, Lavender, Rosemary and Spearmint-Oatmeal most of all, each of them ideal for certain moods. I, for one, use the spearmint-oatmeal soap in the morning for a good perk up and the lavender soap for an evening relax.

Let me share with you how we personally use the rest of the products we usually buy.

The honey propolis shampoo and lavender liquid soap are very good replacements for their more commercially-available, chemically-laced commercial equivalents. They both smell really wonderful and actually make you feel cool and clean after using them.

I use their essential peppermint oil as a massaging agent on my temples whenever I have a headache or if I simply want to relax. For a whole body massage, which by the way only my wife can give me, I use their healing massage oil scented with a blend of different essential oils. The patchouli oil I use as a daily perfume on my handkerchief. It actually reminds me of the hippie lifestyle somehow. I also drop a small amount on the incandescent bulb in our bedroom at night before I switch it on for an aromatic diffusion. I really can't explain my addiction to this scent.

I keep some propolis throat spray at home in case anyone complains of a sore throat. I know my body and I swear that this product saved me from fever on many an ocassion. The times I ignored those first symptoms, it worsened. My dad always keeps one in his pocket as a breath freshener. In fact, he has learned to purchase a big container which he keeps in the ref and refills his small pocket-sized spray bottle with.

I take my bee pollen first thing in the morning before breakfast as a weight reducer and vitamin supplement, or whenever I need that extra boost for my biking. My lola gained weight after I had her take a scoopful after meals, and she has a hard time trying to gain weight. Oh, by the way, she's pushing 88 years old and as strong as a she-ox.

My children use the sting-less insect repellant frequently. It is made of natural ingredients such as citronella and lemongrass, so I prefer it over off lotion. It is our secret weapon against dengue, specially since we literally live in a forested area.

Ang before I forget, last but not least is one of the most important Ilog Maria products in our arsenal of natural remedies: their propolis ointment. This, I have to say, is something I take with me all the time in my travels. I use it to treat burns, wounds and 'singaw' (canker sores, I think). Each bout I have with the singaw would usually last a few weeks and really upset my mood and movement because of the pain. These usually start off, in my case, whenever I bite my lip or whenever I feel I am overworking my body with too much late nights and stressful days. At the first signs of a singaw, and if I apply the ointment early enough, it almost always nips it in the bud, so to speak.

Their products, which form part of our essential supplies, is why my family (and my good friends know this) never keeps pharmaceutical products in our medicine cabinet.

For more information on Ilog Maria and the wonderful family that runs it, visit http://www.ilogmaria.com/

02 December 2007

"What do you eat?"

You can imagine how often I am asked that question by people. Sometimes, followed by ".....salad?.....boiled vegetables?......do you eat rice?......I bet you don't drink Coke!.......so, you don't eat sweets?.....But fish is okay, right?"

I have been known to sheepishly joke about "not being a rabbit", or playfully correcting them by saying I am actually "veginese". Then of course, next comes the subtle accusation that I am a closet meat-eater. "I mean, you're 200 lbs., and you eat just vegetables?" Hello.... duh!.....cows? elephants? carabaos? They're vegetarian too! (Okay, okay, I need to lessen my food intake)

Just to satisfy the curiosity of those people, I would like to share what I ate this past week:

Sunday (Today) - as of posting time

Breakfast - Burger Steak ("Arrow" brand, made by the Seventh Day Adventists. They're all-veg) with gravy made by my wife;

Saturday (Yesterday)

Dinner - Bittermelon Rasam (a south indian soup dish) which I topped off with fresh organic coriander from our farm; Pakbet made with vegetarian bagoong we bought from "Nature's Original" in Tagaytay; Fried Tofu sprinkled with Amchoor (dry mango) Powder and topped with fresh tomatoes. Now, the vegetarian bagoong is not a necessity. We had some, so we used it. Carp Patis, which is made from soya and can be found in most grocery stores, or loads of tomatoes would have done just as well.

Lunch - Curried chickpeas and potatoes (not so spicy, so the kids enjoyed it too!); Pancit bijon guisado; Home-made Chapatis brushed with a little ghee, Mango Chutney;

Breakfast - Grilled barbeque (vegetarian, of course), marinated in our secret sauce ;-)


Dinner - Fried squash flowers stuffed with our mashed potatoes; Lime chutney; Eggplant, spinach and tofu hot pot

Snack - Gonuts Donuts (sugar glazed & pastillas de leche flavors)

Lunch - Cucumber, bittermelon & tomato salad with rice (That was all I could eat at the affair I went to, although it doesn't happen that often)

Breakfast - Vege-hotdog (From Country Vege-Foods) and Vege-burger (From Hapilife, Olongapo) with rice


Dinner - Hearty curried vegetable soup

Lunch - Packed vegetarian lunch from Rho-Del vegetarian stall located at the Olongapo Market c/o our client

Breakfast - Banana Loaf (which we bought from Country Vege-foods)


Dinner - Vegetable Pasta and leftover pizza

Lunch - One extremely large pizza (half all-cheese and half mushroom and spinach in white sauce) from Extremely Expresso

Breakfast - Assorted Fruits in Season


Dinner - Indian Lentil Soup w/ Okra (Sambar)

Snack - Krispy Kreme Donuts (which we bought the day before from Bonifacio High Street)

Lunch - Potato Bhajee and fried Vadais (Thick lentil fritters)

Breakfast - Banana w/ home-made Yoghurt and Vegetable Samosas (From Taj Grocery)


Dinner - Vegetable Sinigang & "Lumpiang Hubad"

Lunch - Take-out food from Country Vege-foods in San Juan, enough for the entire family.

Breakfast - Hash Browns

So there, life as a "veginese" ain't so bland at all, right?

01 December 2007

I Love the Weather!

I keep a wall clock with a built-in thermometer on my living room wall, which tells me how cool or warm it is inside my home.

For the past two days, I have woken up to a comfortable temperature of 23 Deg. Celsius and I really feel good about it. Its actually wonderful compared to the 29 Deg. I usually get during summer time.

This cooler weather means that I do not need to switch my airconditioner on, and in fact do not even have to run my ventilators/fans at all. My refrigerator's temperature settings have also been adjusted, the contents are much too cold to be just "chilled". We have started using our thick comforters again, and can snuggle up beside my partner without feeling too warm. For some reason, I enjoy my warm meals more and top them off with a cup of hot tea. We have started heating our bathing water as well.

I notice my neighbors don't switch their A/Cs on too, making my nights really quiet. Nothing to hear but the nocturnal creatures' wild calls to each other.

The scents of all the plants and flowers seem to travel better in this cooler temperature, and I can hear the crickets in the evening and birds in the day agree with me. I woke up yesterday to a scent similar to honey-lemon. I imagined some citrus smelling tree dripping its sap on a bee hive and mixing its juices together. Now I wonder if my daughter slyly wiped some Halls candy somewhere near me while I was asleep.

Outdoors, I estimate the temperature to be at least a good degree or two less, but the sun still shines warm, so I can hang my clothes out to dry.
I also had a nap this afternoon, something I don't usually have the luxury for. It was a pleasant one because of the cool weather.

Manila was said to have clocked in a cool (literally) 19 Deg. Celsius sometime early today. I wonder how it must be in Baguio or Tagaytay. It must be really cold there.
I am ecstatic, PAGASA just announced that we should yet prepare for colder weather in the days ahead. Yipee!