Me, Anthony B. and the Vicious Sisig

A couple of years ago while on a 6-hour pit stop at Incheon International Airport on my way to San Francisco for some exciting solo adventure, I can clearly recall that I chose to sit at a very quiet portion of the airport and a tall white curly-haired gentleman sat across from where I was.  He too was quiet and seem so engrossed with his mobile phone.  My hazy brain tells me that the guy looks like Anthony Bourdain.  When the guy looked at me and realized that I was staring at him and seem to have noticed that I know who he was, he stood up took his leather bag and silently left.

I recalled this vivid experience because of my recent visit in an eatery at the culinary capital of my country where the late Anthony Bourdain once dined. I was at Aling Lucing’s, a humble eatery in Angeles City, in the province of Pampanga. A two-and-a-half-hour ride from Manila.

anthony bourdain with the sisig queen during his visit (framed memory posted on the wall of the eatery)

I chose to dine in this modest eating place for its original dish called “Sisig”.  This too was the same dish that drove Mr. Bourdain to dine in this eatery because the tasty Sisig has been established to be one original Filipino food. 

I consider Sisig to be in the same league of other scary savage Filipino dishes like the Dinuguan (black-colored pork blood stew); the petrifying Balut (steamed fertilized duck egg); Betamax & Helmet (grilled coagulated pork blood and grilled chicken head respectively); Tuyo (the dreadfully stinky dried fish); and, the lewd Soup No. 5 (soup made from bull’s balls & wiener) to name a few. 

sisig!

these other food selections clearly complements the ferocious sisig! steamed tilapia, grilled eggplant, salad with pink shrimp paste, balo-balo dip (another savage dish made of fermented rice sauteed in shrimp & tomatoes)

a collage of photos i took during my visit

Sisig for me is vicious and ferocious because it is the ears, the face and sometimes the brain of the pig that is the main ingredient – grilled, chopped into pieces and served on a hot sizzling plate!

Sisig has gone a long way since the time this has been created by the Sisig Queen herself, Aling Lucing.  In fact, during that solo trip in San Francisco, I had the chance to eat Filipino Sisig in burrito form! Click here to learn about it: Sisig Burrito.

According to Mr. Bourdain “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park.  Enjoy the ride.”  And one unique culinary ride that one must take is by trying the vicious, un-elegant yet very tasty Sisig.

Winter Feels???

I have long learned from grade school that Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system.  And when I grew up, living in one of the hottest nations where the fiery hot sun is up every day, there are boiling moments that I would start believing that my muggy sweaty beach-weather country is not on Earth but in burning Venus!

winter cold: the tropical country version! hahaha!

But not today!  At a temperate 24 degrees Celsius, my country now must be in a winter season status! Haha!  And it actually takes a cold snap in Korea, Japan and India before my country experience such a clement kind of temperature.  

gone crazy!

We don’t have winter but now that it is a little cold, I should pull out my winter gears! I don’t wanna experience frostbite!  And yeah, I am happy and gone nuts because of this beautiful weather!

A Swanky Kakanin

In my country, there is a ton of silly cultural and superstitious beliefs that needs to be kept and observed during the New Year.  From wearing polka dots, to ensuring 12 types of fruits on the dining table, to jumping when midnight strikes and to making sure all lights are on inside the house, all these and other insane beliefs are observed by Filipinos when New Year happens.  Failure to do so would result to some wicked curse, a good amount of misfortune and a handful of bad lucks the whole year.

Two of the silly beliefs my family did last New Year’s Eve was the tossing of heaps of coins inside the house (for prosperous fortune) plus the serving of classic “kakanin”.  From the amalgamation of two Tagalog root words kain meaning “to eat” and kanin meaning “cooked rice”, kakanin are varieties of sticky and glutinous Filipino delicacies whose main ingredient is rice.

It is an inane Filipino belief that eating something glutinous and sticky during the New Year like kakanin will bring good vibes in terms of relationships within the family.  Reason for eating something sticky will result to a greater bond, affirmative ties and optimistic connection among members of the family which for my family is very important and essential.

My family settled for having the “biko” as this new year’s kakaninBiko is a classic kakanin made of glutinous rice cooked for hours with fresh coconut milk and brown sugar usually sprinkled on top with brown coconut curds! And since I am pretentious, nitpicky and ostentatious, I pushed on levelling up this new year’s family Biko or Kakanin

I had our classic biko topped with dark brown coconut curds, drizzled with rich coconut-cinnamon caramel syrup served with slices of ripe and succulent peaches! Yum!

our swanky kakanin! yum!

Aside from hoping for a continuous upbeat sticky bond with my family, with this swanky kakanin, my hopes are high for a chic, swish and affluent New Year ahead!

Face Cover Fashion

Aside from tourism, airline and restaurant industries, one of the badly hurt industries smacked by the ongoing pandemic, I believe, is the lip-cosmetic industry.  With the mandate (at least in my country) that everyone needs to wear facemask and face shield when in public, only a few people would venture into putting lipstick on.  Also, my poor country being at the end of the queue among the countries where Covid19 vaccine would be made available, a totally different apparel has evolved during this time of contagion. 

The style and fashion of wearing face covering has been born!  Sorry to those who still do not believe the existence of Covid and would aver and persist for their freedom to choose not to wear one, I particularly is in favor of wearing a face covering.  It is not for the mere fact that it prevents the spread and snagging the virus, it is also the thought of having to wear a stylish kind of facemask and face-shield.

Here in my country, in fact, the type or quality of facemasks and face-shields one wear characterizes his and her social status.  The more stylish and expensive it is, the higher that you belong to the social hierarchy! Hahaha!

With the dawn of this new gear and apparel, I have actually amassed quite a quantity already.  These are either personally purchased online, bought from a department store, gifted by a friend/colleague or shipped from (no less) abroad!

got these to choose from! i use a “mask bracket” for easy breathing!

my face shields! i think, it is only here in my country (the Philippines) where face shield is required to be worn aside from the face mask

While I await the available vaccine, which would still be way way far away in the future (no thanks to the slow government bureaucracy here and no thanks too to the President, his security group and his cabinet secretaries who were the first to get injected with illegally smuggled vaccines here), I would rather enjoy the wearing and the flashing of some chic and stylish facemasks and face shields in public! Haha!

Thank You For The Rescue

A dear friend who regularly watch out and read my blog posts asked if I again ceased on writing and putting entries in this blog.  I answered no and not yet.  I explained that I cancelled writing about my take on Starbucks’ release of its Christmas holiday cups.   I annulled writing about my suggested technique on how to baste a turkey.  And I refused to write about my rants of not being able to shop during the 11.11 (Nov 11) online sale.

And though I wanted to praise on how blue looks so good on both the states of Georgia and Pennsylvania after the US American elections, I decided to keep quiet.  Reason behind this is because I do not have the gull to write about all these trivial and fun stuffs when my country is experiencing a horrendous devastation brought about by a string of super deadly typhoons.

a huge flood! 

I decided to be a little more sensitive towards the agony felt by my country towards the recent devastations brought about by not just 1 but 4 strong typhoons (named Quinta, Rolly, Siony and Ulysses) that hit my country consecutively in a matter of 2 short weeks.

Its sunny and dry now; the floods have started to recede now; and, the winds are gentler now.  But there are a lot of cleaning, clearing and fixing that needs to be done. I guess I am a little relax now and can write something again now.

My last 2 posts were about saying thanks.  Let this be my 3rd consecutive showing of gratitude then.  This time, let me extend my warmest praise and thanks to the rescuers who put their lives on the line in saving the people who got trapped by the big devastating floods brought about by these typhoons.

thanks paps!

i love this photo!

Their extra ordinary heroic bravery is truly worth all the praises! Thanks for your bravery. Thanks for your service.

Touched by Disney UK!

Disney UK got a cool and heartwarming Christmas advert!  I am particularly touched and moved by this video ad simply because it features bits of the Filipino qualities and culture. 

Mano:  the gentle placing of the back of the hands of your elders to your forehead is a unique Filipino gesture to show sign of respect to elders

Parol & Parol-Making:  a lantern which is made of bamboo sticks and colored paper is a major Christmas symbol of every household in the Philippines.  And it is a common practice that grade school students would create one as a school project during Christmas season so as to have it hanged in their respective houses.  I made a horrible-looking one myself during my young school days!

Simbang Gabi: a Filipino-Catholic tradition of attending midnight Mass at a nearby Catholic church for 9 consecutive nights prior to Christmas Eve.  And since I am wicked, this is one Filipino tradition that I never get to complete!

Recycling of an old cookie tin can:  Lola-s (translation: grandmothers) around the nation would never throw away metal cookie cans.  These would instead be re-used either as a jewelry box, a sewing kit container, an old photos or greeting cards chest or other similar charms, trinkets and mementos that a usual Filipino lola wants to keep.

Thanks Disney UK!  You moved me.

Thanks EU!

No thanks to the geographical location, my country is the customary pathway of strong and deadly tropical storms and typhoons on the planet.  The storm-track here seem so idyllic, we are no longer amazed if three storms would pass by in a week.  Tropical cyclones seem so at home during the rainy season, an average of 20 storms would pass in a year and 25% of which are usually destructive.

Because of these, my poor country is a common recipient of international aid.  These supports usually in millions of dollars would typically come from rich opulent countries.  Just in the recent deadly category-5 tropical cyclone Rolly, the European Union has announced its provision of humanitarian aid funding amounting to 1.3 million euros to affected families in my country.

I don’t know if someone has relayed a huge “thank you”, so let me be one of the few.  Maybe we are so used to receiving international emergency relief assistance that we already forget how to express our gratitude.  Or, maybe it is because we are too busy rebuilding our lives again after a series of destructive natural phenomenon.  Please pardon us if we missed saying thanks.  So, in behalf of everyone here (and since a big chunk of readers of this blog are from there), let me express a giant, full-sized and humongous, Thank you EU!”

One grateful soul here! Warm hugs to all of you.

 

Feeling Low? Read This!

a friend captured this early this morning in his home province…

If you are a non-Filipino and you hate your life and at a lowest low, think again.  Let me just inform you that while I am writing this, my country (the Philippines) is experiencing the deadliest, the strongest and most devastating tropical storm of the year on the planet.  Power outages, spotty internet, dreadful storm surges by the seaside, terrible flashfloods, daunting evacuations of families and horrible destruction of buildings, crops and produce are all ongoing.   And this is in the midst of the deadly pandemic!

So, if you are feeling sad, miserable and dispirited, think again! You just don’t know how blessed and fortunate you are at the moment.

Got to go.  Need to evacuate to my mom’s house and arm myself with the mighty umbrella!  Stay resilient Philippines! I pray for everyone’s safety and that this deadly storm will pass soonest!

Dine Out, Put Your Seatbelt & Be Safe

Weird as it may seem, dining out in a restaurant at this time of contagion would be like riding a rusty roller coaster, a rickety Ferris wheel or entering a spooky horror house.  Dining out is so scary people don’t know if they would catch the deadly virus or would come out of the restaurant still hale and healthy.

But since I am in a state when I would rather go out and live a life yet would still observe extra precautions to prevent catching the bug, I decided to dine out here in Manila.  The lucky joint I chose is the 36-year-old Bistro Remedios, an authentic regional Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila.

And I was glad to know that on the day of my gastronomic consumption, the week-long citywide project of Manila City government called Restaurant Week was on-going.  Bistro Remedios was participating in this initiative by the city mayor whom I predict would be the future president of this country.

I ordered and munched on these…

As I was to finish chomping on my beautiful dessert, dining out at this time of pandemic was indeed like having a roller coaster ride.  I experienced the thrill brought about by the visceral sensation of fear – pounding heart and faster breathing – when I was about to enter the resto.

Similar in a roller coaster ride, cheery attendants would ask you to sign a waiver and settle you down by putting on your seatbelt.  It was so similar in Bistro Remedios because the smiling waiter asked me to fill out a health declaration and contact tracing form and sprayed a mist of alcohol on my hand before leading me to my table.

When I sat down and relayed my order, I realized the increased feeling of well-being and wakefulness.  And when the food was served and had my first bite of the delicious meal, I closed my eyes, felt the busting of flavors in my mouth, my endorphins were high and was having a euphoria!  Good thing I failed to scream when I opened my eyes inside that restaurant. Hahaha!

fasten your seatbelt!

Conquer your fear this time of pandemic.  Dine out, put your seatbelt and be safe!

An Aborted Grandeur Illusion for a Halloween Costume

When a friend relayed that he read my recent blog post about my Osaka flight cancellation, he knew that one of my agendas in going there was to celebrate and attend again the big Halloween street party in Osaka. He then asked who would I be this time if my Osaka Halloween attendance pushed though.  I simply responded King George.

I have been the Riddler and an Indian Warrior in the past Osaka Halloweens, but I was really looking forward to being the mighty and loony King George this year.  But when my friend further asked why King George, I told him that we Filipinos seem to secretly yearns for a king and has the weird fascination towards noble families.  Though our country is not under a monarchy, we are so in love with kings and queens!

crowned prince of the twisted! hahaha!

 Here in the Philippines, every primary or grade school seem to have coronated their little prince and princess.  Even rich and affluent people featured in society columns in the past were tagged “royals and royalettes”.  And when people are elected to a public office, they have to go around with a whole battalion of body guards to signify how important they are, waving their hands to their constituents as if they are kings and queens of their barrio or little municipalities. 

Classic examples are the effective portrayal of the late dictator Marcos and Imelda who depicted themselves as the modern king and queen of the Philippines.  This outrageous couple thought that it was their obligation to the people to live a fabulous imperial-like lives for the poor. Hahaha!   

Also, we are so fascinated with grand majestic coronations, that we look forward to the annual coronation of the queen of the universe (Miss Universe pageant) and we go extra crazy if the crowned winner is from the Philippines!

Now that I will not go back to Osaka, my friend still further asked what then should I do during Halloween? I told him that as a message to myself, I will have to settle singing the song “You’ll Be Back” by King George in the Broadway musical Hamilton. Hahaha!

You, who would you be this Halloween?