Archive for the food Category

(lg2a) to rise again

Posted in culture, events, food, health, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, nature with tags , , , on March 30, 2013 by mijodo

ysla cover mike dario
It has been a while since I truly last posted here. I am in a middle of work that just exhausts me during weekdays and I just want to finish a book that I have started about two and a half years ago, right after migrating to the United States.

Now the book YSLA is complete. And I would like to think it is worth all the time. My intention has been to start a series of books that should encapsulate familiar words and themes to most young Filipinos living abroad most of their lives and who may have little idea about their heritage.

And hopefully YSLA does that through the eyes of three teens, Amiel, Mayumi and Ian who are marooned in an island full of surprises and terror, and eventually finding out the island’s history and their own culture and values. The Manananggal, the Tiyanak and the new set of colonizers move the story forward for these youngsters, pitifully stuck in another time and place.

Please get a copy of the ebook YSLA if you are outside the Philippines from Amazon.com, itunes and Barnes and Noble. And if you are within Philippines, get it from Flipreads.com.

Follow me at this Facebook account – https://www.facebook.com/mikedarios.ysla?ref=tn_tnmn

After this book YSLA, who knows I may rise again back here in this blog or even at another book for the series.

Happy Easter everyone!

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wedding

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, food, interior design, lifestyle, locales, people, religion on January 20, 2012 by mijodo

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Ah weddings and their many traditions to a lasting and happy marriage!

In the US, the wedding tradition starts with the bride-to-be looking for her wedding gown in bridal stores where the salesperson attending to her can show and deliver what the bride to be has always envisioned for herself during that special day. In doing so, the bride wears the probable gowns for fitting and showcasing them to her accompanying mother, sisters, girlfriends, and sometimes her groom for the right bridal dress design. After consultation, the chosen gown is to be worn again on the very day of the wedding.

In Philippine weddings, the bride to be can still look for a dress or have his fantabulous gown designed to her liking, but it is a definite no-no to fit the gown itself or lest the wedding is doomed not to go through at all. Hence the designers would only allow the bride to fit the lining such that no mishap can happen just before the wedding.  And all what the groom can do is to wait for his bride at the altar in quiet anticipation.

And this was what Rigor did while Jenny slowly glided toward him at the long red carpet, and beautiful flower blossoms at the side at the long red carpet – just wait and gushed over how beautiful Jenny was in her beaded gown accentuated with the up-do hairstyle and fresh looking make-up, exclusively for that matrimonial date.

(lg2a) what’s hot, chocnut?

Posted in artifacts, culture, food, health, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2011 by mijodo

Don’t get me wrong, my mom was quite a conscientious mother when I was being reared as a child. But there were days when she would ask me to go to the nearby grocery to buy Nestle Chocolate Crunch bar as substitute viand to a plate of rice, particularly when the maid or help was gone, and she was too lazy or perhaps busy to prepare food. And truth to be told, I loved it when chocolate bar became part of the meal – nopes not just chocolate drink such Milo, Ovaltine, Chocolait or ChocoVim.

Of course if you were a kid of the 70s or the 80s, you would remember Serg Chocolate Bar or Nips (M&M’s pinoy counterpart).  Do you still remember Horlicks – that chocolate flavored discs, good for energy (well that is what my mom said to me)? How about those addicting Curly Tops by Ricoa? Or probably you would have good memories of those fascinating but strange looking fake gold coins, laden with creamy chocolate that melted and annoyingly smeared your clothes.

Yet there is no denying that when we were kids, and probably the kids of this generation, would prefer those imported chocolates, direct from the United States or even from those PX stores from Angeles, Pampanga then.

Kitkat (my personal favorite). Three Musketeers. Baby Ruth. Butterfinger. Milky Way. Mr. Goodbar. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Almond Rocha. Almond Joy. Ferrero Roche. Toblerone. And of course, Kisses. These were the chocolates of our colonial-mentality fixated youth.

So when the opportunity came up, from my sisters Jane and Christie, together with niece Ernestine, to passby Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey’s, Pennsylvania, I could not forego it since the trip would surely bring back the yummy-filled memories of  my childhood.

Just like a kid in candy store, I was in awe of how grand the whole area was as envisioned by Mr. Milton Hershey, the grand daddy of confectionery when he started his choco factory. The Hershey factories and corporate office have been located in several hectares or acreage of land. But thoughtfully, a covered mini theme park has been set up to welcome visitors, comprised mainly of families.

In such hall, there were movies that account of Mr. Hershey’s rise to chocolatedom. There were rides that show the processes of chocolate making. And of course, the best part was the Hershey’s store that showcased all the candy products and keepsakes alike. The place was like being in the wonderful world of Willie Wonka without the scary and mean Wonka wrecking you out for being troublesome.

Obviously, there is much love for chocolates by Filipinos, particularly the imported ones. But there is one truly Pinoy chocolate that can rival any of these American goodies in terms of popularity, and even possibly in taste.  Definitely, it is Chocnut or Tsoknut – that humble nutty confection that one can get at the corner sari-sari store for a measely peso per piece (I remember it at 25 cents per piece before).

There is a continuing love for this chocolate that started as  kids’ fare and now has become an important ingredient for sophisticated restaurant deserts – from cakes to ice-cream concoctions. Surely, this choco brand has become  part of the Filipinos’ consciousness that spells comfort and happiness. Sweet kisses to you, Chocnut.

(lg2a) way to go

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by mijodo

 

It all started with a passion for photography, and some skill in writing.  Then I started to create a blog that should document all my travels , and probably show off a portfolio of pictures and articles which have been published not only in the world wide web but also in some of the more prestigious inflight and travel magazines that have literally crossed not only the shores within the Philippines, but across the whole globe.
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For many of the travel articles on this blog, Lets Go Pinas, the writing and photography are brought about not only by my interest and skills, but because of the circumstances that have brought me to many sections of the Philippines, and lately, to the vast areas of North America.
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Several weeks ago, I was invited by my cousin Barbara, and her husband, Eliot, to check on an idyllic community, west of Detroit, Michigan, using their Recreational Vehicle or RV. Basically an RV is a motorhome which can bring all the residential trappings as you go from one place to another inside a vehicle as large as a bus.  Our RV can accommodate probably about 4 people to sleep on its beds, even while the the RV is moving.  In  our vehicle, there is a full functioning kitchen and a restroom that can even supply heated water for showers.  Of course, there are amenities like the television, a comfortable couch, and table and chairs for dining. To travel the roads using such behemoth is truly a luxurious experience.
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Just recently, another posh mode of transportation that gives that high and exhilirating feel would be gondola lifts that are propelled by cable lines usually on steep areas such as atop the mountains. This kind of vehicle provides the riders stunning scenic vistas of verdant mountains during summers or ice-capped mountain areas during winter times.
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However obviously, it is not always that I get to ride such deluxe transportation.  Many times, while travelling alone to create articles and photos for magazine publication, I get to employ lowly vehicles, such as tricycles which I usually get to rent for the whole day, at very minimal cost, to take me into the hinterlands. For me, these trikes -not the jeepneys – are the real kings of the road in the provinces since there are more of them that take you directly to the exact places, even if they are quite remote.
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But for sheer excitement, the habal-habal of many island provinces in the Philippines takes the cake.  Again for some small fare, one can lease on such services of a motorcycle, and hop on at the back of the driver, and explore outlying destinations whether in the beaches or in the hills and mountains.  It may be a little dangerous as there is no gear provided just in case accidents occur. However definitely, using such motor bikes while my face is against the wind is already an adventure in itself.
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Many times, the proverbial line – the journey may be even more interesting than the destination itself – is quite true. I personally have collected some anecdotes and stories that have wiggled out during such trips.  One time, in Ilocos Norte, I had to ask my trike driver where La Paz Ilocos Dunes was.  But the driver seemed not to know where it was, or if there even was one around Laoag. So I had to describe it through another way – where Action King FPJ had done his epic movie classics: Ang Panday (series).  In a jiffy, he was able to bring me where I had wanted.
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By just constantly hiring tricycles throughout my trip to Ilocos, I was able to gather some quaint observation about the differences in tricycle sizes from one province to another,  The ones in Ilocos Sur are a lot roomier whereas the ones in Ilocos Norte may only fit one person inside their cabs, and one may even have some difficulty in getting out from the space as their trikes are short and squatlike. 
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I have met some interesting and even familiar faces just by waiting out at the airports or bus terminals, boarding on boats and ships, talking with cab drivers and fellow bus passengers, and hanging on to dangerous habal- habal and speeding jeepneys for dear life.
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However, it is most meaningful to share transport space with family and friends – from my great parents, Lita and Glicerio, constant, travel partner, Ate Mae in the Philippines to the people here in the United States and Canada, such as my sisters, Jane and Christie, brothers in law, Edgar and Rashid, beautiful niece, Ernestine, Uncle Isdoc and Auntie Lelita, Uncle Nary and Auntie Gaying, and cousins Al and Gisela,  Baby Liz, and of course RV owners, Barbara and her husband Eliot.  Thank you very much. Till our next trip together, guys. Happy New Year, and way to go, for Year 2011!
 

(lg2a) bluest and merriest

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, religion, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by mijodo

The holiday season should cheer one up. But there’s no denying, it does not happen all the time. In fact, it is during Christmas time that depression becomes even more pervasive. The sad person becomes sadder; the lonely becomes lonelier. That’s the paradox brought about by the supposed merry season.

The blues becomes more apparent for Filipinos who are outside the country.  They may be eking out a living somewhere probably in the heat of the deserts of Saudi Arabia that does not allow Christmas celebrations. Or they may just be retired and watching television alone while the frigid winters of temperate countries blow in. One can probably try to make do with what they have in order to have a semblance of the Christmases in faraway Philippines – where the season is celebrated with much anticipation and much conviction.

It is said that the Philippines has the longest Yuletide season, but in Frankenmouth, Michigan, there’s Bronner’s, a store that sells all the tinsels, ornaments, and trimmings that conjure the merriest season – all year round.  By January, right after the holiday season, you can buy such decors with significant discounts. Or if you want to plan for the forthcoming Christmas, you may visit even in hot  July and see the latest trends in decorations and gizmos that should brighten up the event by December.
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But you know and I know that nothing beats the spirit of the Christmas in the Philippines. The  morning novena masses or simbang gabi.  The crave-inducing aroma of bibingka and puto-bumbong.  The whimsy of  lights from the parol and the eloquence of the nativity scenes that deck the homes.  Kid carollers asking for money and yet insulting you just the same – “ang babarat ninyo.”  Silly games in office Christmas parties that end up with finding your Monito or Monita.  The unending shopping list for acquaintances, friends and family despite the small budget. And the exuberant embraces  and warm meals with loved ones during Noche Buena at Christmas and Media Noche at the end of the year.
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We outside the Philippines will just be glad and thankful of the joyful memories back home.  Such remembrances will lullaby us as we sleep throughout the holidays, just hoping that the blues will just move away.  Let us just comfort ourselves with such hopeful song – “I’ll be home for Christmas.” Till next year.
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Happy Christmas Dad and Mom, brother Mokoy, and my cousin, Ate Mae, Little, Nang Nida, Nang Bina, and to the drivers and workers, and friends and family back home!

(lg2a) give me the dirty, the dingy, the dazzling new york city

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, news, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by mijodo

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“This reminds me of Cubao, Quiapo and Makati altogether,” one sister declared.
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Yes it can be true. Just go to the heart of New York City – Manhattan that is, and you get a melange of all our iconic busy places in Metro Manila. The monumental glass buildings and skyscrapers, and fancy boutique glasswindows remind you of Ayala Avenue. The corner delicatessens, the quaint coffeshops and small emporiums, and the ubiquitous hotdog stands are reminiscent of the old Cubao, just before the posh Gateway Mall was built. Oh yes, the seedy, dirty streets, the incessant scaffoldings blocking pedestrians, and  the chaotic volume of people, crisscrossing the grid streets (which then Manila Metropolitan Commission Governor Imelda Marcos wanted to impossibly copy for the layout of Metro Manila )of Manhattan implore a Quiapo feel overall.
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“I will never come back here,” another sister threatened. She is happy to stay in a quiet suburb somewhere in the midwest.
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It is not only her who seems to be disillusioned by New York City. Aside from the disarray of Manhattan, some have outrightly warned of the bedlam that happens in the Big Apple such as frequent muggings and  the saucy attitude by the New Yorkers. There was even a time when all patrons were forcibly asked  to leave a store just because it was already closing. My sister pointed out such crudeness to a store manager. The store got some rude awakening from a Detroit diva there!
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But it is the diamond in the rough that makes New York special and iconic to many of us non-New York dwellers. The Statue of Liberty at the harbor, United Nations Headquaters and the Financial District appeal to those who have romanticized the ideals of freedom, harmony and capitalism. The beaches at Hamptons, the artifacts of the numerous galleries and museums, the runway fashion shows of designers, and the explosion of architecture connect highly to the desires and senses of the erudite, the avantgarde, the sophisticated, and the moneyed from all over the globe.
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But for many of us, hoi-polloi, including me, it is the razzle-dazzle of pop culture that makes us warm with delight in the City that Never Sleeps. Aside from the music and stories that are churned out from musicals and plays of Broadway and the numerous movies which featured the city, it is the weekly and probably daily television shows, old and new, that familiarize us with a piece of New York life. Shows such as Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City give the couch potatoes a weekly dose of insights regarding independence, fraternization and even perhaps fabulous urban living, aside from the quality comedic scripts that comeout from these shows. It is the involved appreciation of such shows that make travelling to this megapolis quite surreal and a definite treat for pop culture afficionados. 
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It is quite a testament to New York City, a city that has experienced trouble in the last few years, in terms of finance and security, of how it has remained on the top, for visitors and travellers passing by America.  No matter how shoddy and dirty New York is, the spotlight stays on that Big Apple.

(lg2a) boo!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by mijodo

Towards the first day of November, we, Filipinos, busy ourselves in remembering and honoring our dead.  Ordinarily, the feast for the commerating the dead is on November 2, however we seem to start trekking to the cemeteries on the first day of November for some reason.

As November approaches, we ask family members or our handymen to repaint the tombs, niches or family mausoleum of our dead relatives for All Saints Day or Todos los Santos. We spruce up the surroundings, trimming overgrown grass. Then we lit up candles, and buy a pot of flowers as an offering to our dearly departed. Some try to remember their loved ones with quiet prayer and masses, but some opt to have a grand reunion party in the very place where the dead is buried. Obviously, just like in any family gathering, filipino fare, like suman and pansit will be served for everyone who remembers. Some cemeteries will even allow some dance music and a little gambling for the people to while away until the wee hours of the morning.

However, in most parts of America, many prepare for Halloween instead. Americans busy themselves preparing their houses, with scary decorations usually made out of carved pumpkins for jack o’lanterns or some familiar creepy figures to entertain, and perhaps spook out kids, asking for some candy treats from them.

It is said that next to Christmas, halloween is the most anticipated celebration in the calendar.  Parents try to look for some fun costumes  to be worn by their kids during the day. The origin of wearing costumes with masks is done to ward off and confuse the evil spirits roaming around during this season.

It is quite interesting to see how Americans have incorporated the otherworldly into their tradition and customs such that the whole country even celebrates halloween with gusto, and with no religious guilt.  Surely, the Philippines is rich with folklores and mythical creatures like the manananggal (usually a woman who can detach its upper torso from the lower body part), tiyanak (evil toddler), or mangkukulam (witch).  And it is even very popular to scare ourselves about ghosts, hauntings and other deathly concerns during this time through television and movies, and in print. However, our national government is not into celebrating the ghouls and the ghosts of the netherworld, much less putting the event in the timetable of Philippine holidays.

However, there was one time when a certain province in the Visayas Region unabashedly played out its infamous reputation through a festival observance.  Some non-government offices in Capiz, a province in Western Visayas, thought of the Aswang Festival, despite its controversy as aswang is another diabolic folkloric creature that changes in form, from human, usually a woman, to an animal, usually a dog that pounces and eats the fetus of a pregnant woman.

But for some unknown reason, the Capizenos have been unfairly and preposterously identified as aswangs through generations. Probably many of them are offended by the connection, but some have played along with some chagrin.  Some creative Capizenos just tried to utilize the labelling as another way of promoting the province in terms of tourism.

By October 31, 1994, a day before the yearly Todo los Santos, the Aswang Festival was celebrated through parades and  costumes that depict the evil mythic creatures of the Philippines, just like the Halloween festivities in America. However, local government and the Catholic heirarchy intervened, and condemned such celebration as it relates to the evil spirits, and may just make the stigma of the aswangs in the area even more pronounce. It seemed that the festival died out eventually years after.

As they say, to each his own.  Whether we celebrate Halloween or All Souls’ Day/All Saints’ Day or both, may the good spirit be with us always.