Wednesday, April 1, 2015

People in their Element

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Classic Styled San Fernando, Pampanga

Entering San Fernando, Pampanga, my attention was captured by two lovely surprises. One is the dense concentration of houses and structures that mirror a rich cultural heritage. From ancestral homes of residents and kapampangan families to old religious and government buildings now recognized as historical treasurers. The other is the proliferation of the traditional kutsero driven karitelas or horse driven carriage, still devoted for use as regular public utility vehicles, like the ubiquitous jeepney and tricyles of Metropolitan Manila, but more pleasant to behold, and environment friendly. Together with friends, I chanced upon one backyard, still devoted to the creation and maintenance of such karitelas, owned and operated by Mang Ben and his aid, Mang Fred. Besides karitelas, their shop also caters to the more esoteric karuwahe or carriages of more elaborate design than your usual karitela. You'll see such Karuwahes in private use or catering to tourists and sightseers in such places as Intramuros and retro themed establishments.


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Revered and Scorned: Balut and Itik as Gustatory Fare

Half yolk, half duck embryo, carefully aged to seventeen days old and and then cooked in its own savory broth within its own unbroken shell. These are the stuff that gustatory legends are made of. Well, at least one legend, which unfortunately, is not to everyone's liking. This is the one and only Balut, succulent prized poach of the far east, and scourge of western taste buds. Love it or hate it, you'll be surprised that aside from eating the balut, cooked the classic way, simply boiled and consumed with a dash of salt or a sprinkling of spicy vinegar, there are a lot more ways to enjoy this savory delight, all in the fashion of Philippine traditional dishes, like caldereta, afritada, fried crispy, pickled, and the quintessential adobo, and more. The local Philippine Duck or Itik, from which the balut egg was laid, is a delicious meat in itself. In the latest celebration of the Araw ng Pateros, which is the traditional home of balut makers in the Philippines, a culinary feast/competition was held celebrating this celebrated egg and fowl. A culinary delight or a feast for sore eyes, you be the judge.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An Afternoon in a Bonsai Garden

A dear friend took me to a Bonsai Show one afternoon, two or three years ago, that was being held in Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila. These are some of the attractions that were on display. Even though I'm not into Bonsai culture or any kind of horticulture for that matter, I enjoyed the afternoon and was very much in awe of the patience and creativity that these Bonsai enthusiasts put into their creations. I also felt a sort of quietness in my mind while beholding each bonsai plant that was sort of...magical. Maybe it was due to the realization that so much care, patience and love was poured into these creations that could leave one only breathless with admiration. Indeed, it was welcome break amidst the bustling rat chase of a bureaucrat's life.



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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Good Friday, Pateros

As in many other municipalities in the Philippine archipelago, the town of Pateros, situated south of the national capital, lead by its local government and Roman Catholic Church leaders, mark the Friday before Easter Sunday with a grand but solemn procession of icons and images, some, generations old, depicting the personalities and events associated with the last days of Christ's Passion. Devotes or namamanatas join in the procession, candles lit and reciting prayers and singing songs on the Passion of Christ, a moving and living prayer, if you will, dedicated to reflecting on the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In the heat of the summer night, they endure this ceremony patiently, joining in the Passion and suffering of the Lord. In doing so, they hope to cleanse themselves of their sins, anxieties, discouragement, frustrations of the past and frivolous year, all in preparation for the coming resurrection of the Lord and Savior, that is traditionally marked with Sunday's Easter celebration..