Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Street Food: The Corny Vendor

During my holidays in the Philippines, I was looking for some healthy snacks in the market one morning when I stumbled upon a market vendor selling newly boiled, sweet yellow corn. 

Some were being sold for 10 pesos a piece; others 15. Indeed, they were sweet, crunchy and still warm. And healthy, too!

I remember they also sold boiled corns at the neighborhood market in Seoul, but these ones from the Philippines were much sweeter. And cheaper!

The next time I crave for some healthy snacks, I now know whom to look for: the corny vendor.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Ensaimadas, Pinipig and Tablea Tsokolate!

Holidays are over, but the eating isn't. 

For everyone, the Christmas holidays gave us a good excuse to eat whatever we wanted, but just because the holidays are over doesn't mean we have to subdue our craving. Life is short, you know. Ha-ha-ha!

So, after the Mary Grace ensaimada breakfasts, we had the local island's Consing's ensaimadas and pinipig to pair with my mom's rich tablea tsokolate.

And after scoops and scoops of pinipig, and bites of ensaimadas, who cares about holidays or diets? As long as you want it, I strongly encourage that you eat it!

Again, life is short, you know. :-)

Friday, 13 January 2017

A New Year of Fun and Delights!

Starting the first few days of 2017 with enjoyment, I made sure I treated myself to the various yummy local delicacies.

Walking around the local food market and rummaging through the goodies offered by the stalls selling Filipino delicacies such as bitso-bitso, baye-baye, puto, egg pie, panara and a lot more, I wondered whether this new year would also offer innumerable opportunities of great fortune, fun and adventure for me and for everyone else.

And just like the unique flavors, colors and memories each delicacy offers, each of our new year, I pray, will be special and memorable.

Have a fun, rich and memorable 2017, everyone!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Assassin's Creed

This is why I liked the film: a sci-fi movie with 15th century Europe origins, lots of stunts and a Da Vinci Code-ish conspiracy!

When I saw the official trailer of Assassin's Creed, the interesting BASE jumping scenes from medieval Spain's towers and its intriguing genetics-slash-reincarnation-slash-medieval-Spain history were all I needed to decide to watch this. (BASE stands for buildings, antenna, spans, Earth - from which a BASE jumper jumps or takes off.)

As the movie's title says, Assassin's Creed is the story about assassins, whose main obligation is to fight the Knights Templar, the Pope's private army. This reminded me of Angelina Jolie's Wanted, where she also played an assassin for the Fraternity, a group of assassins who kill to change the course of human history.

The trained killers in Assassin's Creed were like ninjas who perfected the art of parkour, running through the narrow alleys of Madrid, jumping from rooftops and balconies while engaging their enemies in hand-to-hand combat. They also love to stand on rooftops to enjoy the view of the city.

The stunt director, as well as the stuntmen and women, deserves a Templar knighthood because, one, the action scenes in the buildings and narrow alleys of 15th-century Madrid and on the plains of Spain (where the rain mainly stays according to Eliza Dolittle!) were captivating, and, two, those stunts were not easy to do while wearing thick robes and passing through cafés serving yummy churros con chocolaté, and resisting to stop by. Ja-ja-ja!

Michael Fassbender, who played Magneto in X-Men: First Class, plays two characters: Aguilar de Nerha, an assassin during medieval Spain, and Callum, a convicted killer condemned to die through lethal injection in 2016. 

Marion Cotillard plays a scientist, who runs a high-tech laboratory in Spain, but whose accent is British when she's happy and becomes American when she's inside the lab.

Her father in the movie is played by Jeremy Irons, one of my favorite actors, who was elegantly sinister, just like in Reversal of Fortune, the movie that won him an Oscar.

Unlike Da Vinci Code, Assassin's Creed is more like an action film with a dash of sci-fi, conspiracy, and a few Spanish language lessons. Yes, if you speak a little Spanish like I do, you'd probably test your proficiency against the English subtitles while the actors deliver their Spanish lines. And you'd probably also realize that you badly need to review a lot of your Spanish lessons, too! Ja-ja-ja!

I didn't know this movie was based on a video-game series. But even if you're not a fan of the game, or even if you don't have an X-Box to play with after, you'd still enjoy the action scenes, the story and the Spanish lessons.

My favorite quote of the movie?

"We work in the dark to serve the light."

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Dongdaemun Fabric Market: From Lost Spaniards To My Favorite Arroz Valenciana

Last November, outside Jegi-dong Station, I stopped to help two finely dressed foreigners, a man and a woman, who got lost. I was on my way home when, from afar, I saw them reading their smartphones and looking up to the buildings around them. It was obvious they were trying to figure out their exact location. So, when I got to them, I asked,"You need help?"

Yes, they did. 

They were looking for the Dongdaemun fabric market, which was three subway stations away. So, I guided them down to the station and pointed them towards Dongdaemun. They told me they were from Barcelona, Spain, and had a meeting in the Jegi-dong area. They must have been buyers from a Spanish fashion house trying to source new fabrics for their collection.

Of course, during our encounter, I introduced myself en español and told them I visited their city a year ago. They must have been initially surprised that this random 'korean' spoke Spanish. Ja-ja-ja!

(The buildings of the fabric market on the Jongno side. The encircled spot is the information booth manned by a lady who speaks English)

A few days after that, I was riding a bus that passed by the Dongdaemun fabric market, and thought of the two Spaniards. I wondered whether they found the kind of materials they needed. And since I was heading home to the Philippines in a few weeks' time for the Christmas holidays, I decided to visit the fabric market myself and look for Christmas fabrics for our dinner table!

(If you're into retro-fashion, this shop's just for you!)

The Dongdaemun fabric market is huge! With a few buildings having six floors selling fabrics, materials, accessories and everything you need to make an expensive-looking gown, or a simple pajama, your head might probably spin from the overwhelming display of colors, fabric designs, and of course, crowds of customers!

Fortunately for me, I didn't have to jump from one building to another just to find my Christmas fabrics. On the second floor, just after I turned around from an elevator ride, I immediately found a shop selling fabrics with interesting designs! Including Christmas designs!

Since I had the dimensions of our dinner tables at home, I bought three designs: two designs sold for KRW5,000 per yard, and the other, which was of a thicker fabric, sold for KRW6,000 per yard. They even have shops where you can have you hanbok tailored just for you.

And when I got home to the Philippines, my mom called her local seamstress and asked her to sew the fabrics in time for our Christmas noche buena!

And when Christmas day came, we used two Christmas fabrics for our noche buena tables. 

That day, as la arroz valenciana, a Spanish dish, sat on our table, I wondered whether I was meant to stumble upon the two Spaniards last month, who lost their way in finding the fabric market, which, in turn, gave me the idea to visit the market and look for Christmas designs for our noche buena table cloth, which then added a festive look to our table where our favorite arroz valenciana, a dish from Spain, sat and ready to be enjoyed.

              (The fabric market buildings as seen 
               from the Cheonggyecheon side)

As I write this, the two Spaniards I met are probably at home, too, in Spain, celebrating their felices pascuas. When we parted that day inside the Jegi-dong Station, they thanked me for the help. I should have thanked them, too, as that encounter gave me an idea. 

So, to those two Spaniards, to the shop owners at the Dongdaemun fabric market, and to everyone...

¡Prospero año nuevo! Happy new year!

          (The other fabric provides a background 
           for the yummy pistachio sans rival)

       (The Christmas fabric with poinsettia design 
             costing KRW5,000 per yard and my 
                      favorite arroz valenciana)

                               *  *  *  *  *

Here's the fabric market's website:

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Simbang Gabi in Pinas!

I was hoping it was really a 'midnight' Mass, and not just a misa de gallo (rooster's mass), which I thought was a mass celebrated at dawn before the crowing of the rooster.

But the aguinaldo Mass (literally, gift mass) is actually celebrated at 4AM here in the Philippines for nine mornings before Christmas Day. And I was able to finally attend one again!

Years ago, I have always wanted to visit a church at night to see some real ghosts. I was thinking if ever there would be a place where grounded spirits can be felt, a haunted house or a church could be the place. But unfortunately, I don't know of a real haunted house in my neighborhood. Ha-ha-ha!

After waking up as early as 2:30AM in order to get to our parish church before the pews filled up for the 4AM Mass, I dragged my mom with me to the church.

And when we got there just after 3AM, I didn't see any lost souls wandering inside the church, only the ghosts of Christmas past and a lot of sleepy parishioners!

We were lucky we got seats before the church filled up thereafter. And just before 4AM, a lot of people were already left standing.

But standing or seated, sleepy or not, ghost or living, everyone inside the church was gathered in prayer and faith.

Happy simbang gabi, everyone! 

I hope you're all able to complete your novena masses!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas Tree @ Home

Most homes in the Philippines will have by now a Christmas right in the living rooms. 

Before I flew out of Seoul, the extravagant Christmas displays of the Shinsegae Department store were busy attracting tourists and passers-by at night, and the steps of the Myeongdong Cathedral were illuminated by thousands of LED-lighted white flowers.

And while the prices of electricity may be lower in Korea, it's not the same in the Philippines, and having thousands of lights to decorate one's Christmas tree may translate to a huge electric bill unless you have solar cells to back up your electricity supply.

But I guess, since Christmas comes only once a year, nobody really cares about paying for the spike of electric consumption in December. After all, it's the thought the counts, not the expense. Ha-ha-ha!

Although it's nice to watch the twinkling lights of your Christmas tree, you may have to turn them off before going to bed to avoid fire from overheated lights.

No matter how colorful and bright, or simple and bare your tree is, it's always the love of the people around it that matters. After all, it's not the decorations, but the spirit that counts.

So, from our city plaza to yours, Merry Christmas!