You know how your mother tells you never to accept food from strangers?
I broke that rule during my first time in Laoag, the capital of Ilocos Norte.
My companions and I were checking out Dap-Ayan ti Ilocos Norte, the hawker food court where you can get fresh Ilocos empanadas and other provincial treats, but mainly Ilocos empanadas, which are quite tasty. A mixture of meat, shredded green papaya, and other vegetables, and hopefully an egg are stuffed into an orange-colored flour-based casing and deep fried so that it’s crisp on the outside and piping hot on the inside. It is street food at its best, and the Ilocanos are very proud of it, as they should be.
We stopped at the first empanada stall in Dap-Ayan and my companions struck up a conversation with the vendors. I noticed that one of the proprietors was having dinner. She was spooning tiny fish swimming in a cloudy liquid onto a plate of rice and eating everything with gusto.
My friend asked what the lady was eating and the lady said it was kilawin na dilis (ceviche), and would she like some? My friend declined, but jokingly asked me if I wanted to try the dish.
Not being one to back down froma challenge (and from the offer of food), I said yes. The lady handed me her spoon. I scooped a few small fish with some of the vinegared sauce and put it in my mouth.
The dilis was salty and a bit bitter, not my thing at all. I’m happy the lady was nice enough to offer me a bite of her dinner. Now I know that kilawin na dilis isn’t for me, and that the way I found this out is a story in itself.
Just don’t tell mother.
A few years ago, I found myself in Rafel Farm in Leyte. The farm is a beautiful events place where one can hold elegant parties and host casual but classy lunches.
After such a casual yet classy lunch made up of Filipino favorites, we were left to explore the breathtaking surroundings.
I was looking at the garden near where our van was parked when one of the guys on the trip, a seasoned news photographer, tapped me and surreptitiously pointed to a nearby rock.
“That’s a Buhay na Bato,” he said. “If you look closely, you’ll notice that the crags make it look like a human face, but you’ll only see it if the elemental that lives in the rock lets you.”
Buhay na bato means “living rock,” he explained, and refers to rocks inhabited by earth elementals. You can tell th by their vaguely humanoid features, which come from having been inhabited by an elemental for so long. He learned about living rocks durung one of his many trips to Mt. Banahaw, one of the most mystical places in the Philippines. The mountain is rife with them, he said, one of the reasons why travelers in the wilderness must always watch where they step.
“Can you see its face?” he asked.
I shook my head.
“Look closely,” he urged. “I’m sure it will show itself to you.”
I waited, wondering just how crazy my companion was to be talking aboy stuff like that, and how much crazier I was for believing him.
And then, I saw it. Two shadows for eyes, a sharp jut of nose, the ridge of a knitted brow, mouth set into half-frown.
Maybe I imagined it. Maybe my brain willed my eyes to see what they wanted to see. All I know is that my companion told me to snap a picture, which I did (he said the rock wouldn’t mind), and whenever I look at it until now, I can still see that elemental’s slightly annoyed face posing for me.
Aside from the surprise and delight of finding a quote from a science fiction writer in a tourist hotel, the quote is also a reminder that the best stories, even if they are couched in genre, are ultimately about the human condition, something that he was big on. I loved Starship Troopers, both the book and the movie, even though both were very different from each other. But it doesn’t matter. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you’ll know that it’s more than just about people going off to space. It’s about finding love and friendship, despite the rockets and aliens thrown into the mix.
Dropped by the opening of Picture Imperfect at mo_space in BGC. The exhibit is curated by award-winning conceptual artist Roberto Chabet and co-curated by award-winning photographer MM Yu. The exhibit features the works of 24 artists, many of them award-winning, all of them groundbreaking.
Artists in the exhibit are:
Catalina Africa Cocoy Lumbao
Poklong Ananding At Maculangan
Yason Banal Lani Mestro
Ringo Bunoan Jet Melencio
Roberto Chabet Paul Mondok
Mariano Ching Mawen Ong
Kiri Dalena Gary-Ross Pastrana
Jed Escueta Soler Santos
Nona Garcia Yasmin Sison
Katya Guerrero Gerardo Tan
Nilo Ilarde Weather Bureau
Sam Kiyoumarsi MM Yu
It’s hard to write about an exhibit without resorting to words like ‘interesting’ and ‘awesome,’ especially for one put up by a group, so I will just tell you to go see it and judge for yourself.
Each work is different, conveying its own message and meaning, ready for you to imprint yours upon it as well. Mariano Ching’s childhood pictures, for example, give off an eerie effect tinged with nostalgia. MM Yu’s photographs showcase different aspects of a city that is constantly being built, even as parts of are constantly breaking down. Weather Bureau has a beautiful landscape photograph with a rather big nod to pop culture. Nona Garcia has a striking painting of Silverlens that I wish I had seen while it was still hanging in Silverlens. And those are the only ones I can remember. The others are just as arresting.
The exhibit runs until April 28, 2013, so there’s lots of time to check it out.
3/F Mos Design Building, B2 Bonifacio High Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Fort Taguig
Open daily 11am – 8pm
Mango Tree celebrated a successful forst year by paying it forward and giving part of their proceeds to Project: Brave Kids, a nonprofit organization that helps kids with cancer.
Mango Tree prides itself not just on its authentic Thai cuisine, but also on providing guests with Thai-style hospitality.
Must-trys include classic standbys like Yum Mamuang (Php280), green mango salad with peanuts and grated coconut and Phad Thai Jay (Php350), Thai stir-fried noodles with mixed vegetables and tofu; as well as new favorites such as Gai Phed Med Ma-Muang (Php400), stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts, bell peppers, and onions and Talay Ruam Mit (Php1,700), a hot seafood platter of grilled prawns, grilled squid, and grilled crab served with a trio of sauces.
For something more contemporary, there is the Spaghetti Salmon (Php380), stir-fried spaghetti with salmon and sweet basil.
Mother Spice Food Corp, the company that runs Mango Tree, has a lot of projects lined up, including more CSR endeavors and a new restaurant concept that will give people a new way of experiencing their food.
7th Ave., Bonifacio High Street. Central,
I’ve been a fan of Leyende’s handmade, organic skincare products ever since I heard about the brand sometime in 2008. This Easter, Leyende is giving away some notebooks that I made from their old catalogues.
This collaboration happened by accident. I had given the notebooks to Leyende’s founder, Neva Talladen, who decided to give them away in a contest because people kept asking her about them (pats self on back).
You can find out what the notebooks look like and how to join the promo on Leyende’s Facebook page.