When I was small, my parents were sometimes away and the aunts slept in another room, so my sister and I would sleep at the master’s bedroom, listening to voices and sounds on the radio,
photo: some kids in plastic orbs at MOA
Mike knows that mangoes tame my inner monsters, so since the onset of summer he’s been buying me kilos of yellow mangoes that exude that familiar smell of ripeness.
One second, I could be a complete worrywart, the next minute, I am Zenlike, eating bite after bite of mangoes divine. On Sundays outside the streets of stinky Manila, all he would say is “mangga?” and I would smile sheepishly and nod, and he would walk to the nearest cariton of those sweet smelling summer fruit, choose the fat ones, and show me the plastic bag full of happiness.
He once stared at me, looking at the way I ate mangoes – I don’t chew them, he thought out loud. I chuckled, eating some more.
It’s not only Mike who supports my addiction. My mother climbed a tree (which, I just learned, my father planted at an emptied lot), picked and plucked more than a dozen, and brought me bags of green indian mangoes, the shape and size of a human heart.
The fruit is a national favorite. Our memories of summer would always have that one time we were climbing mango trees, or eating indian mangoes with salt or bagoong or alamang or sukang iloko.
When I was in Singapore, I witnessed how Filipinos go crazy over indian mangoes – pasalubong from the Philippines – and munch on them in no time. Even I myself missed it a lot when I was abroad, so I had to settle for mangoes from Thailand or Vietnam, but I found them less sweet than ours. I wondered why.
You know the best mangoes I’ve tasted so far were from the Visayas. Holy tropical miracles, those mangoes from Cebu and Bohol are so juicy and packed, they’re like the fuji apple of mangoes (if that makes sense).
If at this point, you still aren’t craving for mangoes, let me tell you their health and beauty benefits.
Mangoes may help prevent cancer, help lower cholesterol, promote eye health, help normalize insulin levels, help improve digestion, and boost immune system, and that’s because these fruits can supply us our needed vitamin C (very good for the skin), vitamin A (good for your eyes), and daily fiber (good for your diet).
Most important of all, you help mango farmers all over the Philippines earn their living whenever you eat mangoes. I know the Philippines is already big in exporting mangoes to countries all over the world (you can check out the Philippine mango ad at the MRT Edsa station), but we can support the local mango industry more by buying those ripe mangoes from Pangasinan or Zambales.
I say this with a heart for mango ‘farmers’ because my father once planted hundreds of mango trees in Mindoro when I was younger, in a time when all I had to worry about was how to finish eating all those baskets of harvested mangoes.
Planting mangoes (the carabao variety in particular) and taking them to the market is not easy.
My father said the soil has to be well-fertilized, with moderate irrigation, and void of weeds which could suck out the macro and micronutrients of the soil. Pests can destroy the trees while they’re growing so years of care have to be dedicated to it. And come harvest time, perfect ripening has techniques.
Maybe that’s why I eat my mangoes with such relish – because I am aware how so much love and care can go into producing the golden ripe tropical goodness that is the mango.Read More
The first thing you need to know about Bangkok is how the heat can make you do crazy things in April.
One morning, after the usual breakfast of croissant, eggs(?), fresh orange juice, coffee, and banana at a backpackers’ hostel in Siam, I searched for beaches near Thailand’s capital and found some islands a few hours away. Instead of going to airconditioned museums or malls, which was my usual fare in humid Bangkok, I took an MRT ride to the bus station (Bangkok Eastern Bus Terminal). And that’s when my misadventure began.
I can’t read Thai, I don’t understand and speak Thai. I asked for directions in basic touristy English where I can buy tickets going to this specific port at Rayong. I was led to a window where I bought roundtrip bus and boat tickets. The lady said I can still catch the last boat that night if I leave before 4 pm. The last bus leaves at four.
Looking at my ticket gave me a sense of uneasiness in that unplanned travel to the rural side of Thailand.
At 4pm, I wasn’t sure where my bus is, so I showed my ticket to a woman in uniform who’s calling out for passengers. She told me to board the bus in front of her.
I was directed to my assigned seat and was given free cupcake and cold water in a sealed plastic cup. Cool, I thought – but I was scared when the bus started to move. I was alone in a foreign country whose language I don’t speak, and I was moving away from safe Bangkok to the outskirts full of Godknowswhat. Nobody knew where I was (didn’t leave a message to my Korean roommates, didn’t post a Facebook status, didn’t email anyone).Read More
I’ve been locked out of my blog for some time to avoid any hacking incidence that’s been crippling my host’s websites, so to make up for it, I’ll try to write every other day starting today.
First, some realizations.
In less than two months, I have written about 80 articles: news re-writes, breaking news stories, and full-length articles; also interviewed CEOs, politicians’ media personnel, university professors, international experts in medicine, health professionals, and other sources. I am not sure how I did that since I only used to write one full article in three months in my previous job. Amazing. And tiring, said my eyes.
The first month flew by rather smoothly because of generous guidance from the editors in Australia – and the happy fruit basket we receive every week.
Last week I started getting distracted (but I tried so hard to contain my disappointment) when I saw my tax. It’s about a quarter of my salary. I went up to the supervisor. Nothing can be done about it. Status quo. ”Welcome to the Philippines” my officemate said. I went out for a long walk that morning.Read More
The news of a US military ship stuck in an important paradise of a coral reef in the Philippine waters strikes a blow to any nature lover and travel enthusiast whose appreciation of marine life and ecological balance runs deep.
Tubbataha reef may actually be considered the planet’s act of kindness–of showing a slice of the ocean’s vast mysterious beauty, thus, smashing it with tons of metal borne out of modern human warfare is nothing but a relapse into that phase of human history called barbarism when man’s sense of civility toward others and his environment hasn’t been achieved.
It’s a puzzle, still, how among other life forms, the creature most capable of thinking can do reckless damage to the wonders of the world, which has been quiet home to the fish and corals, and playground to birds–as seen in snapshots and watercolor paintings at BenCab Museum just a few months ago.
Is it an artist’s omen that Tubbataha is to become a museum artifact? Hopefully not. Hopefully this world’s premier diving spot and heritage site survives. Hopefully, justice be laid upon those who are accountable to this incident that pulls a tangle of ugly threads of sovereignty, aggression, and territory issues.Read More
Apparently we all survived the end of the world, rather nervously. This start of the year should be a renewal of life, but I think all of us renew life every time we replace cells here and there, and improve on our self.
Right before calendars turned 2012, I made a list of outlook, which I post here with notes.
1. see the boyfriend late 2012
He went back to the Philippines last May. That’s mid-2012. Yay!
2. be an expert in the principles of supply and demand in global economies
Not really an expert, but I understood a lot.
3. expand business network
This has to be the year I met the most number of new contacts, talked with so many people, in the Philippines and abroad.
Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I did with watercolor pencils and oil.
5. ride an elephant
6. beach bum in Bali
I decided to postpone this and beach bum in Philippine beaches instead. All year round.
7. invest in some properties
8. road trip with college friends
Not just one, but two memorable epic trips.
9. make more people happy
I hope I did make people happy when my sister and I bought Papa a car, when my friends and I organized a fun run for the victims of violence against women, when I hosted a friend’s wedding, when I wrote a feature article for IRRI’s Rice Today magazine (it was picked up and quoted by international press), and when I wrote that article in Youngblood, which reached more than 11,000 shares!
10. make love on the sand late 2012
Happy new year!!!Read More
In between reading books and editing articles, I bring here some memories from weeks ago at BenCab museum in Baguio City, Philippines.
Entrance fee is 100 pesos (prices are discounted for students). The museum has four floors of wonder and the fog outside reminds me of the blinding whiteness of Saramago’s Blindness.
Ben Cabrera is mostly known for his carvings,
but his paintings are equally captivating.
I love it when I tour museums without too many visitors, so I was glad there was just 1 to 3 other guests when we went here one weekday.
Being alone in a museum gives you the freedom to react honestly to a work of art.Read More
In some other time, or planes of existence, time seems to move forward ever so slowly, slower than the city pace or that of a town indulged in a rush for Pleasures that will masticate society- and self-induced Pain.
Tam-awan Village in Baguio preserves a way of living in its small parcel of land in slopes and mid-air.
One can reach this kind of place through a long cab ride from Session Road (about P100 only) or through a dream.
It’s so small that one can trek up and down from one Ifugao hut to another, all in a span of coffee time.Read More
Let’s start with the 50′s Diner near Mines View Park, Baguio City.
Mike ordered stuffed squid, I had Corvette burger (porkloin steak), asparagus soup, and frozen margarita.
The burger buns looked nothing special. Tell that to a person, “you look nothing special,” she might get offended, hold grudges, be bitter about it, so I didn’t say it aloud. A chemical engineer once told me that food can take in your comments and react to them–you tell your water, “sarap,” the water will taste good; you tell the food it sucks, it will start tasting like socks.
I couldn’t use my right hand that time so Mike sliced the steak patty for me (while I ate his squid). The squidness of the squid tasted like beach barbecue parties in the seafood capital of the Philippines.
It must’ve been because Mike was so appreciative, he told the squid, “sarap!” and the squid felt proud how his life had become meaningful.
As for the steak sandwiched between the dry-looking buns, I just had to adjust its taste with help from tomato catsup.
The Diner itself is splashed with pink light and a feel of the simulated 50s.
A few steps away from the Diner is Concoctions Bar. Sadly, no band was playing that night so we left after a glass of Martini, beer, and a view of Baguio City from the top.Read More
Baguio City and I were never friends. Baguio is that place families seem to be obliged to visit every year (at least in our case) when the kids are still, well, young and their participation in decision-making is as little as their financial contribution to vacations. And so, the small ones have no choice but to be shepherded from Burnham Park to Mines View to Camp John Hay, year after year.
After decades of going up to Baguio to see that lake full of plastic swans, that rocky cliff always packed with too many tourists, and slopes of distant pine trees, I whispered apologetically to Baguio one time that it bores me–until last week. Of all the places in the Philippines, I picked Baguio to visit because it’s about time that I offered reconciliation.
My travel buddy and I took a bus on a Sunday night. I called him up that morning; told him to meet me in Cubao, where we first met; waited for the 11pm trip to the City of Pines. We arrived at 5am and Baguio welcomed us with a queen bitch coldness that challenged the function of our jackets. Our jackets were embarrassed. We held hands.
Mike and I had no booking yet, and we didn’t want to look like lost tourists at the Victory Liner station so we politely excused ourselves from the men offering cheap lodging and cab rides. The icy walk from the bus station to Burnham Park could’ve been creepy if there were no joggers. The darkness would spit them out, joggers, then swallow them in seconds. Houses standing since 1909 and trees that witnessed the Killer Earthquake of the 90s stared at us, not sure if they’ll say hi. Finally, I said hello, as I felt that it was going to be a different Baguio experience.
By 6am, we found what would be our home for three days, the lovely Holiday Park Hotel near Burnham and steps away from Cafe By The Ruins. We ate pancakes and filled our cold tummies with hot choco while watching the morning unfold and duties performed: mothers taking their kids to school, college students walking to their universities, office workers quietly waiting for their rides. It was a cool morning of duties. Our duty, I assigned, was to observe without interrupting the precision of things.
Mike and I just had a simple list to accomplish in Baguio:Read More