Abe’s Farm Is Like Next To Someone

I know that being next to someone is the ultimate favorite place of everyone.  But if a spot that is about 2.5 hours drive and you no longer cannot count the number of times that you have been there, does this mean that such a place is also one of your favorites?

the compulsory posing! hahaha!

This will be short…

Abe’s Farm, a quiet staycation venue at the foothills of dormant volcano, Mt. Arayat, north of Manila is the place.  For me, Abe’s Farm is one of those perfect getaway places where one can just stay quiet, have a short social media detox, simply breathe and relax.

A perfect add-on to this is the food that they serve.  Situated right in the heart of Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines, Abe’s Farm food offers what one can call an assault to the senses – texture, color, presentation and of course taste.

happy eating! yum!

Yeah. I gave myself some short quiet break.  And just this weekend I am again at Abe’s Farm.  I guess Abe’s Farm though not a “next-to-someone” is one of my favorites.

A Plantito with Black Thumb

I have always recognized that I do not have a green thumb.  Though I love plants and have taken cared quite a number of them in the past, plants don’t love me back.  My relatives can attest that I have purchased countless number of plants in the past, but all chose to breathe their last breath and declined to settle with me in my condo unit.  I sometimes correlate my relations to plants as a form of unrequited love! 

When I and my family would go out of town, I would often suggest to stop at a garden store by a roadside before heading back to Manila for I want to acquire new greens.  “Are you looking for a new victim?” or “You’re just wasting some bucks” are the usual remarks of my relatives when I would suggest my buying new plants.

the recent garden shop where i purchased my succulents… i can hear these greens saying… “no! not me!!!” LOL!

I have always thought that I would make a good gardener because I had an A+ grade in my Botany subjects during my old school days and would even had the time and fortitude of talking to these plants.  But all these photosynthetic members of the Kingdom Plantae refuse to live with me.  My relatives has even tagged me as having the black thumb or even worse the black-kiss-of-death thumb!

Owning and taking care of plants here in Manila is the new craze.  Like me, this has been some of people’s emotional outlet or thing to do and be busy of indoors during this time of quarantining and pandemic. 

This has been evidenced by the steady increase in the number of social media posts of people posing behind, in front or beside their happy and healthy plants!  People call these plant-fanatics and shrub-obsessed folks as Plantitas (for female) and Plantitos (for male) of Manila.

In my recent out of town adventure, I again purchased a new batch of plants to enjoy and take care of.  I hope these creatures are as glad as I am.  I am really hoping that this new batch will live a long life and would finally erase my being a black thumb.

if those trees can run, i’m pretty sure they’ve moved way way farther! hahaha!

my not-so-happy green companions! please don’t die…(my recent purchases)

But if these plants chose to reject me and die instead, I will still care for one and would just have to melodramatically remind myself that old warriors may have to fight a long battle more than once to win it.  And if one zany plant would finally decide to settle it out with me, I will call myself a Plantito who would be smiling while sharing social media pictures with it.

Looking forward to having photos with these new plants!

Her Istanbul Is So Much Better Than My Istanbul

In my long-ago adventure in Ciudad de Mexico, there was one influencer (YouTube travel vlogger) whose posts about the city made it easier for me to go around.  Her posts about Mexico City was so helpful during that time that I made it as my reference on where to go, what to visit and how to go about.

This vlogger recently posted her adventures in Istanbul, Turkey.  I was a little swollen with pride to learn that I being a small-time traveler actually came and visited years ahead before she did.  I was secretly hoping that she has read a number of my blog posts about Istanbul for her to use as her travel reference of the city.

inside hagia sophia

But when I watched her posts about Istanbul, I was so envious that I wanted to revisit the city and re-do all my lackluster blog posts. Hahaha!  Her vlogs were so vibrant, so appealing and so alive that though I already have seen, felt and tasted what she was featuring, I wanted to go back, do the same and do the way she does! 

I guess I am just bitter that I could not produce a better feature of Istanbul the way other travel content creators do.  Am I really envious about her work? Or I am just finding an excuse because I really wanted to go back to the grand and splendid Istanbul?!

Let me then post a short clip of my personal experience in Istanbul. 

I hope that re-reading multiple times this blog post would in some way reduce my craving to revisit that beautiful transcontinental city.  And to that lady vlogger – whom I refuse to identify and feature here, hahaha! – I do admit that you really do a better job than I do. 

Let me just then be contented with the powerful saying that: “recognizing one’s own weakness is one of the biggest strengths that one can have”. And yeah, I am so bitter and really wanted to be back in gorgeous Istanbul. Hahaha!

I Wanna…

I hate YouTube today.  Can you just imagine this YouTube thing had the overzealous audacity to suggest a music video on my iPad that would stress, accentuate and lay emphasis on my being solo?!

How could you YouTube?  How could you?! I am so offended because the song’s lyrics is so true in every sense of the word! Hahaha!

Good thing the beat and its remake rendition is so awesome, it indeed made me dance! I’m a goofball and I love Ben Rector by the way.

Rediscovering Asiong’s Restaurant

Fed-up, tired and cloying from staying indoor due to the pandemic, me and 3 of my close colleagues decided to sneak out of the metro.  Despite the continuous spike in coronavirus cases, we agreed to break the monotony of staying in our respective houses and drove up to the scenic city-province of Tagaytay, an hour and a half drive south of Manila just to have lunch. 

We nevertheless took extra precautions prior to leaving the metro.  We were wearing face-masks and face-shields, brought along bottles of alcohol and I even have a huge pack of disinfecting surface wipes!

But only about five minutes away from our destination, we encountered a highway check point.  To make the story short, we were prevented from entering Tagaytay because we do not have the local government’s required travel pass to enter the province.  Yeah, this is how strict it is here in the Philippines due to this ridiculous pandemic.

We made a U turn yet decided to still have lunch someplace else.  And when I turned on Google to check for the nearest highly recommended restaurant, it responded ‘Asiong’s’.

I remember having dined at Asiong’s in the past.  I know that the food is really good but the atmosphere is something I really do not admire especially that moment when it would be the first time after a very long time of not dining out.  I know Asiong’s is not even a casual dining restaurant but some sort of a low-grade canteen or a roadside eatery which in the Philippines is called carinderia.

I nevertheless still suggested to proceed to Asiong’s because of their great food!  But I warned my colleagues that the ambiance is not like the typical snooty restaurants found in Tagaytay.

But when we followed and let the GPS navigation app point us to our destination, the road we were taking was totally different.  It seem no longer the same road I took when I last dined at Asiong’s eight long years ago.  (Click HERE regarding my 2012 blog post about Asiong’s)

pose first (the obligatory photo taking session)

a collage of photos i took (with jb, willy and mj)

The location of Asiong’s now is a totally different spot in Cavite!  And the establishment is totally dissimilar from the way it was!  The concept and its aesthetics has impressively been improved.  Their alfresco dining is no longer by the dusty road side but a cool garden dining set-up.  We actually settled alfresco for we did not want to be confined in a closed area during this time of pandemic.

The only akin and parallel to how Asiong’s was in the past was the marvelous food!  The awesome gastronomic experience was still the same.

asado de ignacio (braised meat and innards) an authentic savage caviteño dish

adobong pula (pork adobo in annatto sauce)… a must in asiong’s

pancit pusit (rice vermicelli noodles cooked in squid ink)… a house specialty

crispy tawilis (a fresh water sardine exclusively found in the philippines)… this dish is gone in 3 minutes!

a filipino meal will not be complete without the rice. this one is “binagoongang rice” (fried rice in shrimp paste)

Thanks to the valiant military men manning the highway check point. Hahaha!  If not for their being so rigorous in implementing the pandemic rules and protocols of the province, I would have not rediscovered the fineness of the present Asiong’s restaurant.

Smells Like Grandma!

Have you ever wondered what you actually smell like? Do you know what object when smelt will be reminded of you?

During college, I learned through lectures, readings and studies (Psychology was my major), that olfaction or the sense of smell can harness evocative power towards a person’s emotion.  I personally believe that people can fall in love towards a food, a location, an animal or even a person because of the odorant organic molecules that these objects of affection diffuses.

Just imagine the aromatic smell of coffee that relaxes you in the morning or the joy you feel when you smell freshly baked bagels?  Have you ever wondered why some stunningly beautiful and well-mannered lady can be so head over heels towards a rude dude who only takes a shower once a week? It must be the odor!  Furthermore, multiple journals in Psychology asserts that memories and recollections as evoked by smell are usually localized to the childhood period.

this reminds me of lola teray… ow i wish you can smell this.

All these stance and viewpoints about olfaction were further reinforced when I and my younger sister bought a buy-1-take-1 Japanese-made charcoal soap from a grocery store!  I of course paid for the “buy one” and she took the “take 1”.  Hahaha!

On my initial use and as soon as I lathered it on my hands, a vivid childhood recollection was evoked by the subtle fragrance of the soap!  The scent clearly reminds me of how my Lola Teray (my mom’s mom) smelled like.  On an impulse, my brain suddenly replayed some of the beautiful childhood memories I had when my adorable Lola Teray was still alive.

my lola teray… she smells so good…

lola teray’s photo when she was a chosen subject for a photography session

My family lost my Lola Teray more than 30 years ago, and I could not imagine how an object now can actually trigger and remind me of my long-forgotten scent of my grandmother!  How amazing is that?!  And as soon as I finished my shower, I messaged my younger sister telling her that the scent of the soap reminded me of our sweet and gentle grandmother, Lola Teray.  She agreed!

Now, I wonder how I smell and what odorant chemical compounds that I diffuse?  I wonder what crazy object do I smell like? Hahaha!

My Frozen

When someone discusses anything about Frozen, young lads and lassies today would link and associate this to the fearless princess Elsa, her adorable sister and the cheerful Olaf.  Yeah, Frozen would be about the fun charming Disney movie and its sequel based on the fairy tale Snow Queen.

young people’s king of ‘frozen”

Frozen today would also be associated to a now classic seven-year-old song where the snow glows white on the mountain tonight and where the wind is howling like a swirling storm inside. Hahaha! Yeah, it is entitled (who would not know?) Let it Go.

But for me, I don’t associate Frozen to Frozen, the movie.  It is because prior to this film, during my younger years, my brain has been wired, stuck and enthused by an excellent 22-year-old song and a music video masterpiece.

I would associate Frozen to a mystifying lady in a black dress who would mysteriously collapse on the ground and would magically turn into numerous black flying crows.  I would correlate Frozen to a lady who tells us that “love is a bird, it needs to fly, let all the hurt inside of us die

Watch this, this is my Frozen.

Yup, my favorite song in Madonna’s 1998 album Ray of Light is my Frozen. 

But no matter what your Frozen is.  May it be the sensuous song by Madonna or the Let It Go from the movie Frozen, both songs seem to have an interlocking message.  It tells us that we should simply let go because we are considered frozen when our hearts are not open.

Small Victories

I got two words for you today…  Small Victories.

When I saw these words tattooed on a stranger’s left arm, it suddenly invoked some thoughts and emotions.  I became joyous and thankful.

It made me realize that I have actually been achieving countless small victories.  And though I often brush these aside and do not think about it, seeing the man’s tattoo made me contemplate how lucky and blessed I have been.  That I should appreciate and take into account these tiny accomplishments in life.

celebrate your small victories peeps!

Learning how to cook, freeing oneself from zits, waking up relaxed, sending a civil message to your ex, making someone smile and staying afloat when everybody seemed to have drowned are some of the small victories each one of us has to acknowledge and be joyous about.

Stay alive, be happy and keep achieving those Small Victories!

A Snake Thing

Which among the creatures of the animal kingdom that you fear most?  The animal that provides irrational trepidations.   The beast or creature you don’t know why you dread the most.  I got one.

It would be the snake.  I don’t know why, but the mere site of a snake gives me discomfort.  If virile, macho big guys can hit the highest note known to mankind when they encounter spiders, my vocal stamina can be tested by the mere site of this reptile.

Oftentimes, I don’t remember my dreams but each time I dream about snakes, I can always recall it when I wake up.  I haven’t touched a serpent and I don’t have plans of holding one.  I don’t know why I abhor and fear the poor snakes. 

And I don’t know why I am including a video of my cooking Snake Beans Adobo in this blog post. Hahaha!  Maybe it is because while cooking this dish, I am reminded of my fear of the said animal.

I know that the heavens will not place snakes on mother earth if it does not play a significant role in the ecosystem.  Regardless, I will not hug a black mamba or a king cobra any time soon but will instead run my fastest at the sight of one.

Oh, and by the way the Snake Beans Adobo was heavenly.  I guess it is the only type of snake that I can personally deal with.