Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spotted [Photo-Hunt]

Spotted this napping Bengal tiger at the Subic tiger safari. The sound of his snores made my hands shake as I snapped this photo. His paws are huge!

It was nap-time, too, for the spotted civet cat or alamid, as it is locally called. The civet cat is a nocturnal omnivore that is usually active between 6 pm and 4 am, less active on nights when the moon is bright; and its favorite diet is chico, rambutan, mango and coffee.

Coffee Alamid, the world's rarest brew, is coffee prepared from coffee beans harvested from droppings of wild civet on different forest floors of Philippine mountains. A 100-gram pack of coffee alamid costs US$100...a kilo is US$500. I haven't tried it yet but I was told that coffee alamid makes such a sublime cup. When roasted, it exudes a fruity aroma, and has a strong, sweet, dark chocolaty taste.

nocturnal civet cat

It looks like this spotted deer missed his nap. This nocturnal creature is listed by IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) as an endangered species. Scientists call it the "world's rarest deer" and it is one of the three endemic deer species in the Philippines. Surviving population of the Visayan spotted deer still roams the rain-forests of the Visayan islands of Panay and Negros, specifically in the protected habitats of Mt. Kanlaon National Park, North Negros Forest Reserve, Mount Talinis and Lake Balinsasayao Reserve and West Panay mountains. This deer species is protected under Philippine law.

Visayan spotted deer in captivity

Posted for Photo-Hunt

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rocky paradise [Friday-Finding Beauty]

Walking down fifty or so steps from a cliff to reach this rocky paradise was a breeze. Buho (a Visayan word for "hole") Rock Garden is a resort built on top on a group of rocky islets in Camotes Island. I spent a few days in Camotes Island not for the mojitos or to luxuriate in a spa, but for peace, quiet and solitude. I came for the clean air, fresh seafoods, and the enchanting wonders of the island. I came for the experience to stand at the edge of a cliff, completely captivated by the stillness of the sea as it gracefully envelops the setting sun.

"Discovering this idyllic place, we find ourselves filled with a yearning to linger here, where time stands still and beauty overwhelms."

Posted for Friday-Finding Beauty, hosted by Claudia at DipityRoad

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baked Scallops

Scrumptious baked scallops with garlic butter from Mesa-Filipino Moderne at Greenbelt 5. One of my favorite appetizers---the flavors burst in my mouth. The mouth-watering rich aroma of garlic and butter was delightful, and I felt positively lightheaded (not from hunger) after biting on the first scallop. But if you're counting calories, this is definitely NOT for you. This serving has 370 calories which you could burn by 49 minutes of jogging, or driving a truck including loading and unloading for 52 minutes. And that's only for an appetizer!:p

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Balak [plan] - Litratong Pinoy

Matagal kong pinagmuni-munihan ang trail map ng Eden Nature Park---balak ko sanang ikutin ang 4-kilometer trail sa pamamagitan ng paglalakad. Pero pagkatapos ng halos tatlong oras na pamamasyal sa kagubatan at medyo naligaw pa kami, sumuko na ako. Hindi nakayanan ng tsinelas ko.:p

I contemplated long and hard at Eden Nature Park's trail map---I planned to walk around the 4-kilometer mountain trail to get some exercise while enjoying the flora and fauna. But after nearly three hours of walking in the forest, we got lost somehow and almost screamed for help (just kidding!), I surrendered. My slippers just couldn't handle it.:p

Posted for Litratong Pinoy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quiet pool [Watery & Outdoor Wednesday]

the quiet pool of the Dumacaa River

I came where the river
Ran over stones;

My ears knew
An early joy.
And all the waters
Of all the streams
Sang in my veins
That summer day.

~ Theodore Roethke, The Waking

Chinatown [Ruby Tuesday]

To welcome the Chinese New Year, I am posting some Chinese reds for Ruby Tuesday.

You wouldn't miss something red when you visit a Chinatown anywhere in the world. This is the entrance to Seattle's Chinatown and International District that spans some 44-blocks south of downtown Seattle. The community has Chinese and Japanese gardens, museums, Asian restaurants and stores. I went to the Uwajimaya, one of the largest Asian grocery and gift stores in the Pacific Northwest, looking for some fabric I needed for my presentation. I ended up buying cream puffs.:p

Posted for Ruby Tuesday

Monday, January 25, 2010

A live plant and Feng Shui

hanging purple flowers in Seattle

I had a hectic weekend and nothing to show for it---except for a more spacious bedroom after I've repacked my "winter" clothes to a bigger luggage. Moving to a new apartment certainly takes a lot of energy and time, not to mention money.

It's been 2 weeks since I transferred to a new apartment. I gave away a lot of old books, furniture, wall decor, clothes, shoes and bags and I'm still left with a lot of junk. As I unpacked a few more boxes yesterday, I realized just how many gifts of plates, bowls, cups and saucers and wine glasses I got all these years. I felt like a newly-wed rummaging through the wedding gifts!:p

The new apartment has spacious bedrooms but the living room, dining/kitchen areas are a bit small. To avoid clutter, I decided to pack the things that are not used on a daily basis and place it in storage. Good thing the apartment building has a small storage space under the stairs. And because I gave away my shoe cabinet, I am now in the market for a shoe cabinet that would fit in the space behind the main entrance. Hayyyy!

My mother wanted to place a stone cast sculpture or an artificial flower arrangement to cover a "dead space" in the corner while I wanted to put an end table and a live plant in that space. It can also be a good place for cable and telephone connectors. Obviously, my mother and I don't see eye to eye when it comes to interior design---she prefers utilitarian while I am more on the aesthetic but functional (maarte daw ako :p). Not that I'd like to plant a tomato or chili pepper on that dead space---although it does sound like a good idea. Tried to explain to her that plants emit a positive energy and because they clean the air, they contribute to the positive flow of energy throughout the house. Naturally, she blamed the idea on feng shui because I mentioned that feng shui doesn't recommend thorny plants in the house---I had this wild idea of collecting cactus.

Talk of positive and negative flow of energy in the house is strange for my mother, too New Age for her. All I want is to make use of every nook and cranny instead of leaving an artificial flower here, a stone sculpture there to accumulate dust and for spiders to live in.

I hope this qualifies for
Our Weekend Memoirs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Savoring singlehood

sharing calories with my bestfriends
An old friend called last night and I was pleasantly surprised. After we said our hellos, he asked if I'm OK. Can't complain, I said. He breathed a sigh of relief that got me curious. We updated each other on what's happening in our lives and he said that he read my blog (On being single...) and was worried I'm getting desperate (hahaha)! And here I am, thinking that blog was an optimistic take on being single!
You may have this image in your head of a brooding, cheerless, chain-smoking spinster who snaps at everybody. First of all, I quit smoking 5 years ago (what an accomplishment that was!). I'll admit it though---there are days when I'd like to murder some people, or scream at the rooftop, bomb the Congress, or trash the office. And I could write a book called "Why Being Single Sucks?" That happens sometimes when I'm PMS-ing---most days, I'm a happy, carefree, single woman.
In the middle of the week, I decided to give myself a day-off...invited two single friends and they joined my independence day. We drove to the Mall of Asia, watched a movie, did some shopping, and had dinner by the bay. We can do all these things at the drop of a hat because we're singles. Aren't you glad we're singles???
girl-friends and a cousin
Spontaneity. Freedom. Flexibility. These are some of the best things about being single. It allowed my cousin Franzia to explore the islands with her friends. It allowed my friend Dee to spend her weekends with street-children. It allowed my friend R to quit his job and become a full-time missionary. It allowed a co-worker to scuba dive in Anilao anytime he wants to. It allowed Franzia’s friend J to change careers and move to Batanes. It allowed me to experience travel without missing a husband and kids back home.
Coffee breaks banter would sometimes drift to the topic of sex. While I join in with my share of green jokes, married colleagues say that sex isn't always thrilling. Sometimes, it's awkward and messy, boring and tiresome. As a single woman in this sex-saturated society, sometimes I need to hear this. Who said celibacy is easy???? It's simpler to desire sex, but more complicated if you're looking for closeness, affection and affirmation.
girl power at work
Listening to my married friends over the years, I've learned that marriage isn't always chocolates and roses. Singlehood may have its bad days...but my married friends remind me that married life has its share, too.
Now, the classic question: Can men and women be "just friends"? Remember the movie, When Harry Met Sally? In this husbandless season of my life, I found this to be possible. Without my guy friends, the lack of a husband or boyfriend could be very obvious. We talk on the phone, exchanging creative ideas, meet for coffee or dinner discussing valuable insights about our gender-differences---Vive le difference!--- have a drink every now and then. I'm savoring these male friendships. If I'm married now, I'm not even sure we'd be able to be friends.
friends in San Francisco
I'd lived alone for years. What could have been the loneliest time of my life turned out to be the most rewarding. I would sing along with the radio at the top of my lungs, watch my favorite TV shows over and over again, stay in bed with a good book and stay there until the wee hours of morning, eat breakfast at 10pm, ice cream at 2am, dance naked while cleaning my apartment. There was richness to this time of my life that I wouldn't trade for anything---even the days when the relative silence did actually turn into loneliness.
I've learned that being alone in public has its benefits, too. I take trips alone---sometimes for vacation, some for work. I go out and chat with people I meet at museums, restaurants, airports, resorts...exchanging cultural info. I'm free to take spur-of-the-moment expeditions and connect with interesting people along the way.
dessert buddies :D
I have incredible friends. These are the kind of friends that I can call at 3am and who would take me to the ER when I'm not feeling well, make me laugh while recovering from surgery; who would listen to my rants about an awful day at work, or hold my hand after a terrible date. They are the kind of friends who would accompany me to drive around in the middle of a typhoon to look for a gotohan. We cry at our failures, celebrate our accomplishments, laugh at our blunders, and comfort each other during bad times.
Sharing real life---warts and all---as a single woman has enriched my life in more ways I can't even imagine. All the laughter, deep sharing, moral support, and silliness---are sweeter than just about anything I know.

Balanced [Photo Hunt]

No doubt Franzia and April were rediscovering their inner child as they frolicked at the children's playground. Experts say that so much creative energy is lost when we give up our spirit of childhood and choose to look at the world only through the safety goggles of emotional detachment.

Be aware of wonder.
Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. ~ Robert Fulghum

A seesaw is a good balance indicator---it looks like Franzia had too much rice that day.:p

Silangang Nayon, in Pagbilao, Quezon

Posted for Photo Hunt, hosted by TNChick

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fried Shrimp Balls

I once hand-carried a box of "food for the gods" to the States and the US Customs officers were fascinated why it's called "food for the gods". I told them they'd feel closer to heaven when they eat the cookie.

If they see these crawly lumps, they'd probably call it "food for the aliens". I was thinking of bizarre-looking creatures from outer space that we've seen in the movies. These messy lumps are actually shrimp balls wrapped in wonton strips and then deep fried. It's crispy on the outside (wonton noodles), soft and tasty on the inside (shrimp paste)---dip it in ketchup or in sweet and spicy sauce. Lose that eww look on your face---it's a delightful appetizer!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fontana sunset [SWF and FFB]

Oh, Great Spirit Whose voice I hear in the winds, And whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me, I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my Spirit may come to you without shame.
~ Native American Prayer
Photos were taken at Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Field Posted for Friday-Finding Beauty and Sky-Watch Friday

Magustuhan [like] mo kaya ito? [LP]

Nakatikim ka na ba ng malapot na berdeng sabaw? Mukhang science project ang soup na ito, sabi ng kapatid ko. Naalala ko tuloy ang mapait na nakaraan, mapait na katas ng dahon na pinapainom sa akin ng aking lola no'ng ako'y bata pa. Katas ng dahon ng ampalaya at malunggay---hindi ko halos malunok! Tumatayo ang aking balahibo kapag naalala ko ang mapait na lasa. Magustuhan mo kaya ito?

Polonchay with seafood soup ang tawag dito---puree ng gulay na pinalapot ng harina. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang hitsura ng polonchay kaya humingi ako ng sariwang dahon sa waiter--mukha s'yang spinach. Tinikman ko ang sabaw---at ang sarap! Meron itong pira-pirasong isda, hipon at crab meat kaya hindi masyadong nalalasahan ang dahon---pero sigurado ako, nandito pa rin ang sustansya ng gulay sa sabaw.

Have you ever tried a thick green soup? To my sister, this soup looks like a science project, while it reminds me of a bitter past---the bitter leaves extract my grandmother used to administer when I was a kid. Extracts from ampalaya (bitter gourd) and malunggay (moringa) leaves that I could hardly swallow. I have goosebumps just thinking about the bitter taste. Do you think you'd like this soup?

It's called polonchay with seafood soup, a vegetable puree thickened with starch. I had no idea what polochay is---the waiter gave me a fresh leaf and it looks like spinach. I took a sip and it's tasty! The soup has bits of fish, shrimps and crab meat and the flavor of the leaves is not so strong but I'm sure the nutrients are all in the soup.

Posted for Litratong Pinoy

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lagoon at Fontana [Watery & Outdoor Wednesday]

A relaxing man-made lagoon at Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Field surrounded by ancient acacia trees and lush gardens. This lagoon leads to a Jacuzzi pool and a pool bar.

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." ~ John Muir

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend with old friends [OWM]

Spent the weekend in Angeles City to see an old friend from NYC---"old" being the operative word (hehehe peace, Arni!). We planned to go swimming at Fontana Leisure Park but we had some "senior" moments and decided to just chill by the hotel lagoon and catch up on each other's lives.

It's good to know that this previous members-only resort is now open to the public. They have an Olympic-size swimming pool, lots of kiddie pools, a pool with jacuzzis, a water theme park, a spa, restaurants and a casino. The rooms and villas are well-appointed, too.

We disturbed the peace by videoke singing...Bailey and Lucky, the dogs, were our attentive audience. And what do old friends do after dinner? Just like old times---we went to see a movie! And yes, we watched Avatar in 3D--impressive!

kiddie pool--my kind of pool
the water theme park
a Malacanang replica?

Do you remember the controversy of Fontana casino during the Estrada administration? Rumors had it that cronies fought over the acquisition of a casino in Clark at Erap's instructions---from Mimosa Regency to Fountainbleau and then Fontana. Personalites close to Erap like Atong Ang, Mark Jimenez, Chavit Singson, etc. were connected to the controversy. Probably the reason why the hotel was designed like a replica of the Malacanang Palace.:p

Justify Fullthe lagoon at dusk

Posted for Our Weekend Memoirs