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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

UST 400 Years Commemorative Php200 Notes

When my Alma mater, The Royal Pontifical Univesity of Sto. Tomas, celebrated its 400th founding anniversary last January, I tried my best to attend the ceremony. The Hubby and I are alumni (Faculty of Engineering) of the school that is considered the oldest existing university in Asia. In fact, Hubby also finished High School from UST so I was expecting he'd be more insistent to attend the festivities.

To say I was disappointed that I missed the event was an understatement. It was bad enough that the celebration was made in the evening (and ended past midnight) but what made it worse was it was also a weekday.

Anyhoo, you don't want to know where we were that evening of the Grand Quadricentenial Celebration. (We were in Ateneo Uniiversity, of all places!).

I was prepared to sulk and harbor regrets for many many weeks until Darling Sister showed me a little consolation. Bangko Sentral issued limited edition commemorative Php200 bill with UST's quadricentenial logo and my sister, being the darling that she is from Bangko Sentral, secured a note for me.

I can't believe I got one of this. Do I frame it, put in a vault, keep in my closet?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Roundin' Up Rudy's Gang

Dear Daddy,

It's been a while since I last wrote. I've been quite busy but I know that's not an excuse and I am sorry.

I fetched Mommy from Retiro the other day and we went to Quezon City Circle. They've made a lot of improvements in the park, including a huge playground. It was strange Mom and I were both making plans in our mind to take you there some time - yeah, silly us we forgot you are already in heaven.

I often do that. I see something you would surely love and I'd pick up my phone in an attempt to call you. I guess I am still not 100% adjusted to not having you around. It's going to be two years soon, but two years is not enough to get used to being Daddy-less. Heck, maybe even a lifetime will not be enough.

On a happy note, while you are away probably enjoying your leisure time answering Sodoku with the angels, your 'gang' expanded and got bigger. Ha! Everyone got busy so to speak.

What used to be a tandem of Eone and Jeje now became a team with Enoe a.k.a Little Jason and Euan (Rodgie's wailer) as the latest recruits. Four of them got together last weekend and it was a riot.

My little Enoe and Gie's baby Euan

Eone and Jeje - taller and naughtier

Three of them at play

Kuya Jeje trying to sleep while Kuya Enoe invades the bed

The boys played 'roll the ball' (or should I say they played 'you roll the ball or I'll snatch it from you'?) while the lone girl took her chance to rummage through Jeje's boxes of toys. Both Dhing and I were amused and slightly frustrated with all the grabbing and snatching of toys. The phrases, 'Dont be selfish' and 'Learn to share' were overused that day.

Mom was at the edge of her seat all the time. You know Mom, how she overreacts even on the slightest bump. She said she's tired by just watching the tots play. I told her you would probably trade everything for a chance to watch them together even just once.

Sigh. We miss you last weekend.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Balut 101

When I watched the episode of Fear Factor where contestants were made to eat Balut, I laughed like a loony. It was hilarious seeing the horror and disgust on those poor people's faces upon seeing the egg that is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. I told The Hubby if one of the contestants was Filipino, he would probably ask for more!

Balut is boiled unhatched duck egg that has been allowed to develop for about 15 to 17 days. The nearly developed embryo is what most people, especially foreigners, abhor as it does seem  cruel to cook and eat them. Okay, it's abortion, if you really want to be blunt. But if it offers some consolation, balut is mass produced artificially by an incubator so we can stop imaging eggs were forcefully taken from the mother ducks while they were sitting on them.

Foreigner friends who visit are oftentimes challenged into eating this notoriously popular Filipino delicacy, much to their dismay (and our delight). We often say "You've never really been to Philippines unless you eat balut'. How mischievous!

Before we invite any Tom, Dick or Harry to try Balut, I think it's only but proper to orient them on how to eat it. Do you agree?

HOW TO EAT BALUT (Don't continue if you were a duck in your past life):

1. Crack a small opening on one end of the egg. Take a peek. Oops, no duck yet! Are you excited?

2. Sip the small pool of broth inside and savor the delicious taste of duck's amniotic fluid.

3. Remove more shells around the crack to reveal more of the egg's contents. Some prefer to start eating whatever is exposed from the shell, be it the yolk or the duckling. Don't forget to sprinkle with salt (or pour a little vinegar).

4. Others prefer to remove all the shells and expose the entire egg. This way, the eater can see all the 'components' and probably avoid the duck (why don't you just eat hard boiled egg?).

Here's the entire balut, naked and exposed. The duck fetus is almost always noticeable, and depending on its size, all the usual body parts are visible. Sometimes you can trace the runny texture of the feathers in your tongue or feel the crunch of the beak between your teeth.

5. For the adventurous but wise balut-munchers, the only way to eat it is cover their eyes and pop the entire thing into their mouth (minus the white hard part or bato). Yum!

Trivia: Balut is rich in protein but also high in cholesterol. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac and is sold at night.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No Mercy for Merci

Finally and at last (although the battle is not yet over, in fact it has just begun).

212 voted to impeach the Ombudsman vs. 46 who dissented. I love the numbers. Whether the congressmen voted out of their conscience, coercion, or bandwagon effect, the end result is favorable for the many.

Let Merceditas Gutierrez have her day in court. Let her answer the many whys we all have in our minds. She said she didn't do anything wrong to the best of her knowledge. Well, that's a funny statement. Do we expect another Ligot? ("Oh, I forgot I need to pursue those cases")

Meantime, below is how your representatives voted. Take note and remember this on the next national elections.

*source from

Monday, March 21, 2011

MomGyver and the Magic Headdress

Eone's school had their culminating program to close the school year 2010-2011.  We were quite unprepared as she's been away from her classes for almost 2 weeks due to chicken pox. Yes, she caught it despite having the vaccine (she had in fact just recently received her booster when she turned 4). The good news is that she got only about 15 blisters and all of them disappeared like magic after a couple of days. She wasn't even feverish or appeared sick.

Anyway, so she missed a couple of lessons, her mastery tests and practices for their dance number in their program. On our part, we missed the announcements on what they should be wearing and even the date when the activity is going to be.

So I got this notice a school day before the event together with a picture of what they're suppose to wear (80's inspired clothes). I was also told Eone needs a headdress with feathers for their poem recitation, The Hummingbird.

Where in the world will I get such headdress that would fit Eone? Because I have limited time in my hands, I need to be creative. During these times that I can attest to what seems to be an overused phrase, 'Necessity is the mother of all inventions'.

Enter MomGyver. I bought a feather duster, unearthed some abaca fiber (I kept from a gift wrap) and some white glue. It would have been better if I have a glue gun but it went hiding just when I really need it.

I was worried that the feather will not stick to the headband that's why I thought of wrapping it with abaca fiber first before I start attaching the feathers. I worked! It also made the feathers 'stand', creating an illusion of volume.

Thanks to Toad, Enoe's sleeping companion, for offering himself as a model (and fitting guide) so I can check if the feathers were distributed equally. Eone refused to try the feathered headband that night, saying it's panget (bruhang bata yan) so I had to get a stuff toy to put it on. Jeez, I'm glad Toad didn't complain.

I was very proud of my little girl as she, together with her classmates, recited The Hummingbird. She swayed, raised her hand, titled her head and smiled as she mimicked the bird.

It must be the magic headdress made by mommy that was fueling her enormous confidence. Hehe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Triangle of Life


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI ), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years, and have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene -- unnecessary.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them - NOT under them. This space is what I call the 'triangle of life'. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the 'triangles' you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' when building collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a bed, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency' (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did 'duck and cover,' and ten mannequins I used in my 'triangle of life' survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the 'triangle of life.' This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

Without listening or reading, simply by looking at the following self-explanatory photos, you can learn more than in a thousand words about how to protect yourself during a major earthquake...

If you are inside a vehicle, come out and sit or lie down next to it. If something falls on the vehicle, it will leave an empty space along the sides.

**Note: There are a couple of refutes regarding Copp's article on the Triange of Life. Others even say it is rather life threatening opposite the claim that using this method could save thousands of life.

The American Red Cross still recommends "Drop, Cover and Hold On".

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Going for Triple X at Bite Club

It's neither gluttony nor craving for burger that introduced us to Bite Club for the first time 2 years back. Someone bragged about this humongous burger from a small joint in Katipunan and it got me curious to the bones.

But Katipunan is opposite our route going home. Sad! I had to be patient 'til The Hubby finds time to go there and buy me that burger (although I am not a burger fan). Then one night, he got back with a the 'surprise'.

Look at how big this burger is. This is called Triple X. Nope, there's no moaning and kinky between the gigantic bread - this is simply one pound of 100% pure beef (almost half kilo) grilled evenly, lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of toppings.

You can estimate the giant burger by Eone's fingers against it; even with her palms spread out, she even couldn't reach halfway! The mega slab of protein is 10 inches in diameter and occupies a whole plate. Unless someone has an appetite of a mammoth, this burger is good for sharing.  (When I went with my colleagues, we took a burger partner).

They have various selections of toppings to liven up your burger (pay additional). Choose from Saucemaryosep (hot cajun and chili sauce), Blue Cheese and Sour Cream, South Pork (bacon bits in cheddar cheese), Sergeant Peppers (peppered mushrooms in gravy sauce), Royal Rumble (a combination of 4 cheese - camembert, ricotta, parmesan and cheddar), Garlic and Cheese, and Wasabi and Teriyaki, Caramelized Onions and many more.

Other smaller burgers are also available for the beef conservatives. I heard Bombarella is another topnotcher which is a 1/2 pound burger and 7 inches in diameter. The mozzarella cheese-infused Burgerella is said to be very tasty too and just the right size (1/3 pounds) for diners who do not wish to share.

Aside from the regular sauces of burgers like ketchup, mayo and mustard, Bite Club has creatively 'invented' sauces and baptised them with intriguing names like Chavit Singsauce (obviously referring to Gov. Singson), a hot and spicy concoction just like its namesake and Atong Anghang (the popular gambling lord Atong Ang) which is a semi-spicy garlic sauce.

Planning to try their burgers? Bite Club is located in Katipunan Avenue across Blue Ridge A. There is not enough parking space but if you go in the evening, the small hardware and other shops beside them will allow you to park in their slots.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wounded No More

We finally have Tacqs back in our garage, fresh from Toyota like nothing happened. Yey!

It was mid January when the car was "flicked" by a ten-wheeler truck. The Hubby was driving along Calle Industria on his way home while the truck, being driven by an idiot pretending to know how to drive, made a right turn towards their parking lot (at Unilever).

It was a mild accident but the damage to the right front and rear doors were so bad they need to be replaced. Repair by a little patching and dent removal is not going to work and I was bent on not shouldering any expenses. These drivers and trucking companies need to learn a lesson.

So the battle with both the truck company and their vehicle insurance began. Despite the police report clearly indicating we are the aggrieved party, the trucking company had the temerity to claim it was us who hit them. Well, that's expected. Anyway, after a long argument which of course I won, we were told they will shoulder the cost of repair.

Having agreed to have their insurance cover our repair didn't end the chase. I was left to deal with their insurance coordinator who doesn't even have enough cellphone load to update me on my claim. If someone offers you a Paramount Insurance, cover your ears with button mushrooms and turn it down even if it's free. They have issues with claims payment and some Toyota branches refuse to accept repair jobs being guaranteed by them. In fact, in Toyota Pasig they are blacklisted.

Anyway, I am so happy that Tacqs is back in his old glory (save for the door handle that had no chrome cover).

When we went home after the accident, Eone saw the car and said, "Mommy, may sugat si Tacquiqui!".  We told her we'll take the car to Toyota to have it 'treated'.  Last weekend, we got the car back and upon seeing, she excitedly checked the car and exclaimed, "Wow, no more sugat na mommy!"

Yes, wounded no more and I hope it stays that way for a very very long time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wine and Cheese at Galileo Enoteca

The Hubby called telling me that he and friends are going to have wine and cheese in Mandaluyong and that he is picking me up at the office.

I agreed although I was a little worried. Wine and cheese? We're not even dressed properly! My almost four years of hotel experience taught me that one must be dressed appropriately in social functions, and that includes wine and cheese cocktails.

Anyway, "The hell with dress codes", The Hubby said. Even they are wearing casual attire (meaning jeans and shirts).

I heaved a sigh of relief when we got to the place. It's called Galileo Enoteca and Deli, a small Italian deli shop and restaurant. Enoteca means wine receptacle and that's exactly what the restaurant is.

The cellar-like setup almost transported me to Italy. I like the cozy, unpretentious yet relaxing ambiance of the place - perfect for a romantic dinner.

I also like how the servers would address you and introduce the food in Italian. It's sometimes funny because we don't understand Italian and didn't even know if he is already spitting invectives at us, especially we were quite a noisy group.

Half of us (we were 8) ordered the group meal at Php500 per head. The the rest ordered ala carte and ended up paying the same amount plus more because they had a second bottle of wine. Tomadors!

The boys fell in love with this red wine, Php600 per bottle

Assorted Cold Cuts and Cheese, Php600

My white wine, for toasting purposes only. I didn't drink :)

We ordered two kinds of pasta and a pizza. I am not a pizza person so despite the pizza being so tasty and flavourful with it's combination of olives, ham and loads of cheese, I wasn't wowed at all.

Quattro Stagione Pizza

The pasta dishes, however, took the home run. I particularly love Penne con Porcini Secchi and Tartufata which is penne in creamy white sauce, mixed with truffles and mushrooms. It's a fantastic dish and should have gone very well paired with my white wine. But having next to zero alcohol threshhold sent me ordering for coke instead.

The other pasta is Spaghetti Arrabiata and it's a spicy number (for my taste).

Spaghetti Arrabiata

Penne con Porcini Secchi and Tartufata

The night was capped with more wine and lots of laughter. There were also plenty of discussions and insights on wines - their origin, types, age and even prices (especially those bought by then president Erap).

Galileo Enoteca Deli is located at Calbayog Street corner Malinao Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City. For reservations, call 532 0482 or 0922 8328071

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rise and shine again, Japan

Everyone knows I love Japan. Among the places I've been to, it's the one that left me in awe. I love the technology-driven country, the marriage of traditional and modern, the fresh and organic food, the polite people who bows even when just serving meals, the discipline and orderliness, the systematic way of life, the little temples tucked between high-rise buildings - almost everything!

I know everyone is saddened by the devastation of the recent 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Sendai, near Tokyo. Those who have been to Japan probably feel the loss more even just by watching the catastrophe as it unfolds on TV. I have been to that beautiful country several times and I shiver at the sight of what used to be almost perfect being wiped out in a blink.

It's heartbreaking watching cars, farmlands, and homes being washed away by a surge of ocean water. As I write this blog, the death toll has been estimated at 1000 and it still may rise.

At that magnitude I am impressed at how sturdy their structures are. In Tokyo to be particular, there were no reports of buildings that collapsed. Admirable too, that the people are calm and still act in an orderly fashion even in the absence of transportation, threat of a radiation leak from their nuclear power plant and the imminent shortage of fuel and food. During these times of crisis, I couldn't help but admire the Japanese people.

Flor Contemplacion tragedy continues

Do you still remember Flor Contemplacion and her story? Flor is the Filipino domestic helper who was hanged in Singapore in 1995 for allegedly killing a fellow Filipina, Delia Maga, and her 4-year old ward.

Hers was a tragic story of a wife and mother who thought she would be able to provide a better life for her family by working as a maid abroad. She was wrong.

What's more tragic is what her family have become after her execution. Despite the fact that the Contemplacions apparently received a hefty sum from the Philippine government, various institutions and groups and were also paid for filming the life story of their mother, Flor's children continued to live a life of struggle. Her sons drove pedicabs/tricycles to earn a living and her daughters married early. What happened to the money that was supposed to be for their education?

We thought the Singaporeans were cruel and unjust in hanging her, but what could be more cruel than your own family putting to waste all the sacrifices you have made for them?

She must be suffering even in her grave now that 16 years after her death, her 3 sons were found guilty of drug pushing and were sentenced to serve life in prison.

Flor has just been hanged for the second time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I *Heart* Banapple

I wonder who else in my circle of friends hasn't been to Banapple.

Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes used to be a tiny bakeshop along Katipunan - I swear it's so small only about 15 diners can sit. Last year they opened another branch, a two-storey cafe, also in Katipunan but closer to White Plains. Aside from these 2 branches, they have expanded their wings to Makati, Tomas Morato and Greenhills just recently.

The branches in Katipunan are nearer to me and I like their homey interiors: lampshades on the walls, customized tables with top made of marbles, paintings and pictures of food and cakes and stripe wallpapers adorned the cafe. Very comfortable and laid back.

But of course what keeps me coming back is their food more than the cafe's decorations, although dining in a cozy atmosphere almost always entices one's appetite.

We always order our favorites - Baked Creamy Cheese Penne for me and Hickory Smoked Barbecue Country Ribs for The Hubby.

What I particularly love about this pasta is the combination of the taste of white cheese and tomato sauce. Simply unique and satisfying. However, no matter how much I crave for this dish, I just couldn't finish one serving. Pasta in itself is already very filling and the generous serving makes this a heavy meal.

 Baked Creamy Cheese Penne, Php155

I couldn't talk about The Hubby's favorite, but what I know is the fall-off-the-bone tenderness and juiciness of the meat make him order this (and nothing but this) everytime we dine at Banapple.

Hickory Smoked Barbecue Country Ribs, Php165

Eone, my soup girl, ordered Corn Chowder which she barely touched after seeing the cake I ordered. So the soup ended up being wrapped for her to finish at home instead. (I later had a taste - it's creamy with lots of corn kernels).

Grandma's Corn Chowder, Php70

I contemplated on ordering their popular Banoffee Pie (my favorite actually) but decided I'll let Eone choose the cake. She happily pointed at Blueberry Cheesecake.

Although Eone seemed to love it, I am partial with the taste and texture of this cake. It's not bad, but not the type I'd go back at Banapple for. Also, notice that very thick crust? It's not only thick, it's also hard. I wonder if it's a 'trick' to cushion the cost of cheesecake ingredients. I'd rather that they just do a price hike just so the quality of their product doesn't suffer.

Blueberry Cheesecake, Php90 per slice / Php860 whole cake

Good thing I had a take out order of Banoffee Pie to eat at home, otherwise, I would have left disappointed because of the cheesecake.

Banoffee Pie, Php85 per slice / Php650 whole cake

We also ordered some pasta to take to my Little Sister who had just given birth. We figured she might be tired of hospital food and she deserves some good food after a hellish, gestational diabetes-filled pregnancy.

Pasta Verde, Php150

Good food, good service, ambience and pocket-friendly price surely make Banapple a winner. Without the cheesecake, I still love Banapple and it will remain one of my favorite dining spots. There are plenty of other desserts to order anyway.

Banapple's menu and contact details can be found in their website.
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