Where When How

a creative exercise

on the way to Venice

It was a cool sunny afternoon when I took a boat to visit Venice. The air smelled fishy like the Pasig river but it didn’t matter because I was excited to set foot on it before the Adriatic Sea eats it up one day.

Inch by inch, as the water level rises, this city will slowly sink into the sea until it is completely lost and gone forever. In my mind, I thought of taking this picture to help me remember how it was when I visited it and maybe serve as a comparison with how it will be in the future. 

____________________

ciao bella!

angry bird

I love animals. When I was a kid, I always wanted to have a fierce winged sidekick like an Eagle. It never came true because eagles were an endangered species. But just because I can’t have a pet I couldn’t get close to a real one. :) 

One afternoon, I decided to go to the nearest zoo to take pictures. This is one of my favorite photos. I was using my 50mm lens for this.

The angry bird pecked at the lens! Good thing it had a UV filter that was strong enough to withstand this bird’s pecking power. haha 

Every time I look back at this picture, I feel good that for a split second I had a moment with my dream pet.

medianoche cookery

Happy New Year! I am very proud that my first post for 2012 is on Cooking :) 

For my family’s new year’s eve meal, I decided to tap my amateur cooking skills as a way to show my gratitude to my family. I prepared a mix of dishes from tried and tested family favorites to new and experimental ones. Good thing everyone liked what I cooked. :)

I don’t know if professionals do it this way but everytime I cook, I follow a strict process that helps me keep things organized while doing all the kitchen work. It involves the following steps: (1) Planning the menu, (2) Creating Recipes (3) Sourcing Ingredients (4) Scheduling of Tasks (5) Prep-work (6) Cooking (7) Plating (8) Serving (9) Clean-up (Admittedly though I hate step 9 :< ). 

I rarely document my cooking exploits. Usually, I would just jot down all my recipes in my cooking journal. Maybe it was because of New Year’s eve but I was energetic enough to document my cooking this time:

I love making pizza. I usually make my own dough and I like it very thin and biscuit-like so that its not too heavy. At the same time, I purposefully make the dough taste nutty so that it balances out the rich flavors of its toppings. To be honest, the dough making process is tedious but making your own dough is that extra step in making your pizza awesome. :)

For our meal, I made four pizzas: Pepperoni, A compost mushroom pizza, Sardines, and a variant that has veggies on it.

For my next dish, I made use of this very pungent herb called dill. Its one of my favorite herbs next to coriander and saffron as it gives a familiar and yet distinct taste in a dish.

Rolled Smoked Salmon in dill sauce plated with a whole lemon as a joke to my family.

Fish Roe with crackers.

Traditional Hot Chocolate made with Tablea sourced from our province. I made this using a batirol/batidor to make it foamy and thick. At times though, when this needs to be rushed, I start using a mixer/blender. My concoction usually consists of a tablea of secret blend, water, a bark of cinnamon for stirring/flavor/aesthetic value. Sugar and Milk is only added when requested. I like my hot chocolate thick and bitter.

I also made a deliciously cute (tastes and look good) dish that I call: Barquillos Panna Cotta topped with my tropical syrup. The panna cotta part was easy but the syrup part was very tricky. In the end though, my family greatly enjoyed this unusual dessert. It is light, airy, and with the right kick in the syrup.

Hopefully this year I’d be able to make my culinary exploits have the same photographic treatment as my other shots. :) 

Happy New Year!

I also post pictures of what I eat and cook here: talesfromthekitchen.tumblr.com

on christmas and teaching

this was my student’s photo 3 years ago during the annual christmas party on my last year as a volunteer teacher in Payatas. I can proudly say that it was a wonderful four-year stint where I learned so much. I learned to appreciate the simple things and to be grateful for the generosity and hospitality extended to me. 

His name is Bernard Ofemia. He lives with his Lola whose name always seem to escape my memory. I’d usually chat with lola as I waited for Bernard. Lola would then have her usual Hope menthol cigarettes as she told her story of how she became bernard’s guardian. I somehow memorized the story since its the same thing for four years every week. The highlight though of this visit is when the upstairs neighbor Ate Pinky, a toothless and chubby-in-a-cute-kind-of-way lady, will join the conversation with the gossip of what recently happened in their community. 

A lot of Ate Pinky’s gossips/stories were quite memorable. Examples include: a kid who was found dead without its kidneys because it was sold to foreigners; or the unending saga of the community aswang who always seem to elude the community albularyo in hot pursuit to stop the aswang from eating babies in women’s wombs. It was amazing that she never seemed to ran out of stories and the creativity to keep my attention.  

Anyway, I somehow remembered these wonderful and genuine people on a night like this and I am looking forward to visit them at Majaas St. one of these days :) Merry Christmas everyone :)

the sea (Mindanao 2011)

Unfavorable travelling conditions can be a bummer especially when it causes delays to a very tight itinerary. Strong waves and an unpredictable undercurrent were the reasons I got from the boat operators as to why I have to wait for more than an hour just to get back to the mainland. With my handy camera and an energy for an adventure, I wandered off the port to snap some pictures. For some strange reason, like sunsets, I am drawn by the sea. I love its smell, its energy, and overall affect when I look at it. It seems so deep (no pun intended).

feeling adventurous, I stood on a narrow crumbly breakwater to snap some of these photos:

I touched these ropes but ended up getting cut.

school of fish.

a double-masted ship!

some kids would swing on these tires without falling on the murky waters.

chicky and the game

I love to play sidewalk games. They bring back fond memories of my childhood when I used to bet P1 from my allowance to win the grand prize- usually a colored chick, a dove, a white rat, a fat chubby hamster, food, or triple my P1. 

Most of the time, I would win in these bets. My biggest win was 50 Euros in Montmartre, France versus two gypsies who bet against me that I won’t be able to figure out where the ball is hidden under the three moving cups. I can still remember the sullen look in their faces after losing 50 Euros to an asian kid (little did he know that back in Manila, i do this as a past time). 

A few weeks back, I once again indulged myself in this activity. I was lucky enough to win this: 

I dub thee, Chicky the orange chicken.

The story behind Chicky was that I was busy walking around taking pictures of people when a small ruckus behind me caught my attention. This was what I saw:

There were kids who huddled around a small push cart where they wagered their P1 versus the lady vendor. Basically, the game required the player to pick a piece of paper from the lady vendor’s bag and would have to guess what number will come out of it when dropped in a water solution. The player would have to choose a number between 1-12 and guessing it correctly can either triple your initial bet or win you a cute feathery pet.

The game:

1. the game cart. 

2. pick a number and hope it comes out of the piece of paper you draw

3. win a prize if you got it correctly or go home and cry if you lose

The technique here is to pick the paper before betting. If you are fortunate/unfortunate enough to have a sweaty palm, your sweat could be acidic enough to help reveal a bit of the number to give you an informed guess. 

So I ended up winning chicky. 

Unfortunately though, probably because of the harsh chemicals used by lady vendor to dye chicky’s feathers, he died after a few hours despite providing him the best shelter and chicken food. he arrived dead on the veterinarian’s table. :(

farewell!

a year

this is me. a few days before my birthday in the year 2011. As I tried to recall how I was a year ago, I can’t help but be grateful for a lot of things. I started listing them all down, and the list never seemed to end.

I am really grateful. For the whowherewhenwhatandhow’s of my 22nd year, thank you.

and thank you for this picture :)

december!

warm, fuzzy feelings when its december! It is arguably the most fun and jam-packed part of the year for these reasons:

1. I was born on december

2. Remembering Jesus

3. Completing Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo

4. Tons of food to eat

5. Reunions and parties left and right

6. Vacation time to go away and take pictures

7. End of MarkProf Training

8. Gift Giving to my godchildren and receiving gifts!

9. Caroling!

10. Fireworks preparation for New year 

Have a great december folks!

grimace! (2011)

I have always wondered what Grimace really is. There have been a lot of stories as to the origins of this purple mascot of McDonalds. Here in the Philippines, Grimace (I don’t know if he’s a he or a she) I’ve been told that he’s an ube, shit, or some kind of melted syrup. Nonetheless, I find this character both freaky and cute :)

Here is a rare encounter I have of a molten Grimace:

a sudden realization (2011)

Here’s a sudden realization:

(brothers and sisters- taken at the Manila North Cemetery last 11/01/11)

"marketing and philosophy are intersecting fields where the heart of the matter lies in the human person- the understanding, development of it, and the attainment of the common good."

love and time- a lesson from my mentor. (2010)

For November 21, I would like to share one of my favorite learnings from my jesuit mentor and friend, Patrick Nogoy SJ. This article never seemed to lose its significance and meaning even after we’ve parted ways :)

This article was also published in http://theclearingroom.blogspot.com/ as a response to a string of philosophical discourse between two intelligent individuals.

photos were taken at  Van Gogh is Bipolar last November 21, 2010.

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my sweet tooth.

Baking is a fun and challenging discipline.

It requires precision, patience, and practice before one gets to a level where the dish is not only delicious but also visually appealing. I’ve eaten in a lot of places and I hardly encounter dishes that perfectly marries those two critical traits. In fact, there is an abundance of delicious treats out there that lacks presentation and those that look good but fail to live up to its appearance.

As I was going through my picture set, I was glad to have found this lovely set of baked goods that not only taste good but also looks sooo good, you get an initial feeling that you shouldn’t eat something so beautiful.

Here is a lovely fondant cake with a carefully crafted design of cute snuggly bears and flowers that one oft seen in kindergarten. The sight of the cake just makes you want to remember nothing but cute pink memories.

Whoever baked the cake above pushed her creative juices further by creating these popular figures from Angry Birds, Plant vs Zombies, and Despicable Me. If only I could remember who was the one selling these and interview her so that I could learn from her (I am already assuming that the one who baked this is a woman)!

hook and line (2011)

I’ve always been fascinated by fishermen because of their patience. I admire their craft but I don’t think it would be something I would be interested to do.

When I traveled to Misamis in Mindanao early this year, I had a chance to observe a peculiar group of fishermen employing what I’d consider a very innovative fishing technique. Instead of the traditional fishing rod, net, or fish cages, these men were using a long nylon string with a very sharp hook at the end. they would stand on the dock and throw their lines as far as possible. from there, they would hastily pull the string back making the hook move as if it was swimming. There was no bait or meat tied to the hook nor was there a lot of waiting time. These men would do a strange wrist movement that surprisingly hits schools of fishes near the dock giving them a bountiful catch of shrimps, eels, parrot fishes, and other never-before-seen fish.

The activity has become more of a past time for the men who lived near the dock. They were even competing for the biggest catch. The fish were not traded but went straight to the kitchen for their lunch.

Out of curiosity, I asked if I could try it but alas, it was not as easy as I thought it was. I never caught anything at all! So I just took pictures and talked to them.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Over a cup of coffee

Coffee is one of my favorite drinks (next to water and tea).

It is very simple and flexible. To me, more than a culinary treat, a cup of coffee is a journey with a very rich cultural/historical value that starts from the farmer who tended the beans, down to the person beside me sipping it with a tasty scone on the side while enjoying a great conversation with friends and loved ones.

What I see when I go around - Rizal x Majayjay (2010)

I love to travel. Travelling is a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things. It builds character and most of all, forms lasting memories/relationships.

One of my favorite spontaneous “long-drives” is the stretch of road from Antipolo that goes all the way to Quezon. It is an interesting route that shows to you the hidden beauty of three provinces: Rizal, Laguna, and Quezon.  

I just wanted to share some favorite photographs I took of while I was driving along that long and winding road.

This first image was taken from a cliff in Antipolo. It might look very different because if I am not mistaken, this is a marble quarry. What I liked about this image was that it somehow reminded me of Golgotha; the place where Jesus and 2 others were crucified. The trees in the area would have passed for olive trees and desert shrubs to the undiscerning eye.

(church of Majayjay Belfry)

Another interesting place I’ve been to is the quaint municipality of Majayjay, Laguna. It is located at the foot of the mystical Mount Banahaw, rising at 1000 feet above sea level.

It was a very difficult place to go to because the roads that lead to this town are quite steep and narrow. At the same time, one has to cross the River Olla before reaching it. 

There are actually 2 bridges that can bring you to Majayjay, the first one is the Caprichio Bridge (Bridge of Whims)- a bridge made by Fray Victorino Moral de Calatrava using the Mamposteria Technique and the usual DPWH bridge that would easily bring you to town. 

(side entrance to the church)

I’ve heard a lot of stories and historical and cultural anecdotes about this farflung town that it motivated me to really go to it despite the difficulty. The list includes:

  1. its church is one of the oldest in the Philippines (Church of Majayjay / Church of Saint Gregory) having been constructed in the year 1575 with its beautiful algae/moss covered bricks and belfry that houses arguably one of the oldest bells in the country
  2. The church and the town was where the iconic Filipino Movies where shot. Titles include: Maruja, Ganito Kami Noon Paano Kayo Ngayon (You Were Thus Then, How are you now? 1976) by Peque Gallaga and Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos by Mario O’ Hara where Philippine Superstar Nora Aunor was the main character.
  3. Some Scenes from Francis Ford Copolla’s film Apocalypse Now was shot here. He even blew up a bridge there.
  4. A certain story was passed on to me by old folk that if one was able to get a chip the church’s stone, it shall bring you luck and wisdon.
  5. Majayjay was the town where Filipino Hero Emilio Jacinto lived for some time.
  6. William Howard Taft, then the Governor General of the Philippines, was so in love with the beauty of Majayjay, that he ordered a road from Botocan Falls to Majayjay.
  7. It has beautiful ancestral houses that once hosted parties with Manila Officials, distinguished guests, and European Royalties. 

One day, I plan to go back to Majayjay and take pictures once again.