Saturday, 25 February 2017

From The Real Farm to The Real Market!

In Seoul, I am lucky to have the biggest fruit and vegetable market north of the Han River right in my neighborhood. I could easy get the cheapest and freshest fruits by just walking down the street.

Here in my hometown in the Philippines, I was surprised to find a similar market, though not as big, that sells the cheapest fruits and vegetables! And you can even haggle!
Market day here is actually Sunday, but the trick is to visit the market the night before when the farmers bring their fresh produce to the area, although I was told some of the farmers arrive as early as Friday night. These farmers come from the other side of the island, and some even speak another dialect.
They have mangoes, papayas, soursops, bananas, pineapples, yams, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and a lot of vegetables for your dishes and salads!

I was amazed that those huge papayas were selling PHP15 per kilo! And you can just imagine how many papaya shakes I was able to make out of them!
My primary targets are usually bananas, papayas, mangoes and tomatoes. For my tomatoes, I just slice them up, bathe them in olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt. 
And since the people selling the produce at the market are the farmers themselves, you can query them about just anything about his or her produce. You can ask whether they're really organic or not, or ask them how many more days do you need to wait before a huge papaya you're buying ripens.
I'm heading to the market tonight, and I'm wondering what fruits they will have brought from their farms again.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: La La Land

This is a movie about every aspiring actor's Hollywood dream. Maybe that's why it connected with a lot of Hollywood people. And it's a song and dance, too!

Emma Stone's character Mia is an aspiring actress just like ReneƩ Zellweger's character Roxy Hart in Chicago. But unlike Roxy Hart, Mia didn't have to kill anybody; she just had to fall in love with Ryan Gosling's Sebastian, a pianist also struggling to find real work in Los Angeles, or LA, short, thus LA-LA in the title, or perhaps, it's the la-la-la singing when one is in love.

The story line is pretty neat and simple: struggling boy meets struggling girl, both try to figure out how to achieve their dreams, both succeed, and they live happily ever after. Or did they?

As the most scenes were shot in Los Angeles, it reminded me of my LA visit where my fellow movie buff, Roselyn, toured me around. We had fun pretending to be struggling actors ourselves while we were driving around Hollywood, where she lives. 

La La Land is a very 'easy' movie to watch, no heavy thinking required like Chicago, as its songs were fun and life as actor seemed easy. Mia could actually get by in an expensive city by working as a barista! Hmm. That gives me an idea. Ha-ha-ha!

The last song-and-dance film that won the Oscar Best Picture was Chicago in 2002, where Catherin Zeta-Jones won best supporting actress.

Will La La Land win best picture, too? Let's sing and dance to that!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Great Wall

This movie isn't a travel documentary about China's five-thousand-mile-long fortress, which Donald Trump wanted to duplicate in North America to keep away Mexican tourists. It is a fantasy version of a Chinese tour documentary on how to enjoy a side trip to the Great Wall when you visit Beijing.

It's always entertaining to watch these fantasy movies which use historical elements as their jump-off point. And Great Wall is one of them.

Great Wall is about a fictional monster that plagued China every 60 years thousands of years ago, and this monster happened to be the main reason why the Great Wall of China was built. History books would tell us the main purpose of the Wall was to keep nomads away. This movie tells us, however, that these 'nomads' were actually monsters which wanted to devour villages in China.   

At the start of the film, Matt Damon and his sidekick were being chased by Chinese bandits along some slopes which looked like the rainbow mountains of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park. I thought it would have been amazing on screen if they actually featured those colored mountains, but I doubted if it was logistically possible for the whole production to shoot scenes on those colored slopes with galloping horses and bow-and-arrow warriors. I wonder if the Chinese government would want those ecological wonders to be disturbed.

Aside from the captivating computer-generated images of the battles between man and monster, I was especially impressed in how well the Chinese soldiers, both men and women, dressed up for the war! Their costumes were perfectly tailored in very leathery fabric and chic designs. I guess, if these Chinese warriors and soldiers had to die in battle, they would at least die in haute couture. 

Other than Matt Damon, familiar faces in the movie include Willen Dafoe and Lu Han, a former member of EXO, a Korean boy band, who played a clumsy young soldier. Of course, it's part of the marketing ploy that, in order to attract young viewers for the movie, they should cast an actor who's popular with the young. 

And with EXO's millions of fans in Asia, it shouldn't be a surprise if most of the ticket sales were generated by these young screaming girls, who also happened to be screaming their lungs out when I was at Incheon International Airport on the day EXO was flying to another country.

But you won't be screaming if you watch Great Wall (unless you're Lu Han's fan). You will just be entertained by battle acrobatics, stunts, costumes, and how you'd be able to appreciate a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China by simply buying a movie ticket.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Tawag ng Tanghalan: Victorias City Welcomes Noven Belleza!

I noticed his huge billboard on the stage the night before. I couldn't read though what the big letters said because the Victorias plaza was dimly lit.

The next morning, under the bright Saturday sun, I had to ask what 'NOVEN' meant as it was the word written in caps on the billboard, the word I couldn't make out the night before. I later learned 'NOVEN' was Noven Belleza, a native of Victorias City in the Negros Island Region, who made it to finals of Tawag ng Tanghalan, a singing competition held by a noontime show in Manila, Philippines.
         (Thousands waiting for Noven at the plaza)
He was going to arrive at the city plaza for a homecoming, where he would be welcomed by his neighbors, fans, supporters, and the students of the Victorias National High School, his alma mater.

Among the thousands who welcomed him, Miss Divina Farinas, his former teacher at Victorias National High School, told me that Noven actually finished his high school four years ago, but couldn't go on to college because of financial difficulties. Noven, she said, had to work in the farm to help his family.
(Current and former teachers from 
the Victorias National High School)

From the videotaping of the dancers and drummers on an almost empty plaza using a drone two hours before Noven actually arrived, to the nicely decorated vehicles that would fetch him from the Bacolod-Silay Airport, and his calculated entrance into the plaza while riding a vehicle that was preceded by drummers and dancers, Noven's homecoming was obviously scripted by the people behind the TV show, much like a homecoming of the finalists of American Idol.

But scripted or not, the loud cheers and screams from his young supporters, especially those from the Victorias National High School, proved that they were indeed proud he and his vocal talent made it big in Manila. 

(They're just happy to cheer and welcome Noven)
       (Even tricycle drivers wanted to see Noven)

I learned from his teacher that Noven used to compete during area meets while he was still in school and even borrowed long sleeve shirts to wear during singing competitions. Now, he probably has his own glam squad behind him.
                    (Noven is welcomed by his kasimanwa)

And that during his early days, he would seek help from some government officials for financial assistance but didn't get any. But during his homecoming, I could see a lot of local officials riding on his popularity. Hmm.
                       (The boy who used to work in a farm 
                         stopped city traffic)
I don't exactly know about the details on how to vote for Noven during the finals in Tawag ng Tanghalan. But if you're a follower, I'm sure you know how to vote and make him win the competition, which will surely change his life forever.

I looked up his performances on Youtube and I think he sounds like Arnel Pineda, the Filipino vocalist of Journey who replaced Steve Perry. So, in the future, if Arnel retires, Journey's type of 'sound' can still live on with Noven providing the band's vocals. Who knows? 

Good luck, Noven!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Lucky 888 on The Year of the Fire Rooster!

I heard that the number '8' is a lucky number among the Chinese because its pronunciation sounds like the Chinese word that means 'fortune'.

So, when a few ocho-ocho (eight-eight) snacks were on my plate, I realized this must have been my lucky day! And it was! 

This Filipino snack, made of ground sticky rice, which was deep fried and bathed with caramelized brown sugar, is not only very sweet, but also very crunchy on the outside, then soft and bland on the inside. But the caramel mixture turns the whole thing enjoyably sweet.

And for everyone celebrating the new lunar year with your own Chinese delicacies, let me wish you all the 888 lucky on this year of the fire rooster!

Kung hei fat choy!

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. :-)