Saturday, 31 January 2015

Life of Pie!

                 (My buko pie 'pabaon' from the Feists)

Late last year, before I flew home to the Philippines, I asked friends living in Manila on where I could buy buko pie in Makati City. I had to ask friends about this because my Korean friend, Joon-Ho, fell in love with buko pie when he first visited the Philippines last summer. Joon-Ho holds fund-raising activities for charity projects, and he went to the impoverished Tondo area in Manila to give out t-shirts and supplies to the kids living there.  So, in order to return the favor to this kind-hearted Korean friend, I promised to bring him some buko pie when I return from my vacation.

'Buko' is the Pilipino word for coconut, and buko pie is a Philippine delicacy made of slices of the white coconut meat. These fresh, chunky slices are mixed with some sweetened filling, and enclosed and baked in a crust and yumminess. And there was one brand which I used to enjoy years ago: Collete's
                                      (A slice of life!)

And thanks to the ever thoughtful friends, the Feists, I got a few packs of buko pie to bring back to Seoul! The day before I flew out of Manila, I got my 'pabaon' of warm, freshly made buko pie straight from Collete's Buko Pie shop in Laguna! 

I then bought a plastic container and divided the pies into slices that could squeeze into the container. This way, they wouldn't be crushed in my check-in  luggage. How I wanted to handcarry them to make sure they were secure, but I got already a big bag for handcarry. I just saved a slice to eat inside the plane.
                                 (Sliced and packed)

To make the life of buko pie story short, they all landed with me safely at Incheon International Airport, and I was able to share a few slices my friend Joon-Ho, who, as you would imagine, was ecstatic and excited upon hearing I successfully brought him some.  

So, thanks again to the Feists (and their driver Ben, who drove all the way to Laguna for the pie!), I (and one kind-hearted Korean friend) was able to enjoy once more this unique Philippine delicacy after all these years! 
(My own in-flight meal en route to Seoul: two slices of Collete's buko pie, tuna and beef empanadas from Conti's, sapin-sapin from Dolor, fresh grapes from the ref, and a soda from the stewardess)

Thursday, 29 January 2015

#ThrowbackThursday: 1968 Miss Korea

Early this week, the 2015 Miss Universe was crowned in Florida, USA. Although it was Miss Colombia who actually won the title, the netizens declared Miss Jamaica as the winner. Why? In the final Q&A, many believed that Miss Jamaica gave the best response among the five finalists. Some members of the audience on coronation night even booed the judges when Miss Jamaica was only declared 4th runner-up. You can google the video of the final Q&A of the 5 finalists and judge for yourself who gave the best answer.

Anyways, since it's #throwbackThursday, I'm posting an old photograph I saw at the newly renovated Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul. This Gymnasium is Korea's first domed sports arena, which was built in 1963 with the help of Filipino engineers. Yes, engineers from the Philippines.

The black-and-white photograph shows the winners of the Miss Korea beauty pageant held in Jangchung Gymnasium on May 29,1968. Even though the photograph is old, you can still see their features and tell that they were beautiful. I don't know why, in this generation, Korean women (and men, too!), have to resort to plastic surgery in order to please society.

Enjoy your Thursday, everyone!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Pinoy At The Movies: Tragic Theater and Seventh Son

It was at the tail end of my Christmas vacation in the Philippines when I finally was able to watch some films.  Every year, during the last two weeks of December, all cinemas in the Philippines only show Filipino movies in observance of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

And luckily, the day before I flew out of Manila, the Festival ended, which was very good news to moviegoers who weren't exactly into some corny comedy films included in the festival line-up. And after a reunion lunch with friends who used to live in Seoul, I made sure I squeezed in two movies later that day: Tragic Theater and Seventh Son.

I was able to catch Tragic Theater at the Glorietta 4 Cinemas. I felt at home when I got there. I used to watch a lot of movies with my friend Roselyn here; we're both Hollywood movie fans. But she no longer lives in Manila; she now lives in West Hollywood! I envy her; she could watch the movie stars walk down the red carpet at the Academy Awards night every year. I can only watch it on TV. Ha-ha-ha!

Tragic Theater was supposed to be a horror movie about a group of spirit questors who wanted to talk to the ghosts in a haunted building. Last month, its trailer was banned from TV because they said it was too scary for kids watching TV (which was the whole point of a horror film). It turned out to be a big disappointment. I was interested in watching it because I love ghost stories, and this was about the grounded spirits that still linger at the Manila Film Center. They're said to be the spirits of the laborers who were buried alive during a construction accident in November 1981. Stories I heard about the accident included versions of laborers being left to die under the quick-drying cement because rescuers were allowed late into the site, and another version was that the authorities decided to bury them alive under the cement so as not to cause any delay in the construction. They had to finish the film center in time for the January 1982 opening of the Manila International Film Festival. 

But the most scary part about this accident was that the woman in charge of the construction oversight was herself killed in a mysterious car accident months later. She was with another man (not her husband) driving to Tagaytay City in the  dead of the night (pardon the pun) when suddenly, the guy allegedly claimed (he survived) that something suddenly grabbed the steering wheel from him causing them to swerve off the road and hit a tree, killing the woman instantly.

Scary, no?

But the movie wasn't. Although the first few minutes seemed serious, a few scenes that followed seemed comedic: Gemma Cruz-Araneta (a former Miss International), who was the Tourism Secretary at that time, was played with some woman with almost bright brown hair and colorful make-up that made her look like she was at cosplay or the Santacruzan's hermana mayor. I wonder if the beauty queen actually saw this film. She would have squirmed in her seat if she saw that scene. Ha-ha-ha!

Another scene where the Film Center's security guard was possessed by a spirit made the audience laugh, which made me think the movie was like the comedy show, Bubble Gang, full of horror jokes. And noticing a female questor with parlored hair and high heels, I thought that she made sure she was all fashionista-ready when she met those dead construction workers. 

The last Filipino movie I saw was Sana Dati last November 2014 at the 2014 ASEAN Film Festival in Seoul. It was exceedingly good that even the Korean audience was impressed. And now, Tragic Theater? Tragically funny it was.

After the disappointment at Glorietta 4, I hurried down to Greenbelt 5 to buy myself a ticket for the next movie, Seventh Son. Of all the line-up that day, these two were the most interesting.

And at least Seventh Son sort of compensated for Tragic Theater.
This one is not a horror flick, but a fantasy full of witches, slayers, kingdoms and high mountains, much like a mix of Sorcerer's Apprentice, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Reign of Fire, and Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert. Ha-ha-ha!

Ben Barnes (who was Prince Caspian of the Narnia series) is the apprentice of Jeff Bridges, who was like the medieval version of an assassin; he slays witches and the like. And he can only be replaced by a trained apprentice who should be the seventh son of the seventh son. Yes, the apprentice can only be found among clans with poor family planning. Ha-ha-ha! 

Although the story line was very common among witchy, fantasy films, what I liked were the special effects, the landscapes and the fabulous costumes of the mother witch, Julianne Moore, and her followers. Although it was set in the medieval times, their costumes and make-up were so 21st century. It was like they just came from a fantasy costume and make-up convention in Las Vegas.

Of course, the ending was predictable, even when the witches could fly, had supernatural powers and outnumbered Jeff Bridges and the seventh son. The two eventually slayed everyone, even without the help of the other six brothers. Nor six uncles. Ha-ha-ha!

Although she looked good in all her costumes, Julianne Moore didn't convince me that she was evil, just like she was un-convincing as Clarice Starling in Hannibal. I wonder if there are only a few women in Hollywood who could play witches. Angelica Houston in The Witches was one damn evil witch, and I guess Meryl Streep in Into The Woods (I haven't seen it yet) is, too. Famke Janssen in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters did better, too. 

  *  *  *  *  *
Although my afternoon started with a horror movie that tried to be funny and ended my evening with witches, I never had problems going to sleep on my last night in Manila. Ha-ha-ha!  All I wanted to remember was that I had fun all day with friends and movies in the city that used to be my playground. :-)  

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Pope Francis: From South Korea To The Philippines!

 (My commemorative stamps of Pope Francis' visit to Korea)

During Pope Francis's visit to Korea in August 2014, the Korea Post printed commemorative stamps for his visit. Since I wanted this souvenir, I went to the Korea Post's main building near Myeongdong and right across the Shinsegae Department Store, and purchased a few sheets days after they started selling them.

Today, in Manila, Philippines, Pope Francis is saying a Mass at Luneta Park, and I guess I wanted to be there, too, along with millions of Catholics and Pope Francis fans.

So, I just watch the livestreaming over the Internet here in Seoul to celebrate with everyone else while having my Pope Francis bookmarks on hand. These bookmarks, by the way, were made out of the Pope Francis commemorative stamps I bought in Seoul.

All these months of having those stamps with me, I was looking for a place to have them laminated. And thanks to my friend, Marlu, I finally had them done! Marlu brought me to that small lamination shop in a parking building in Makati where I had these stamps laminated and perforated with eyelets so I could insert yellow and white ribbons (from National Bookstore!). Why yellow and white? These are the Vatican City colors, and I thought these are the correct colors to tie the bookmarks with.
                    (The stamps cut into bookmark sizes)
              (Rollie cutting the plastic to cover the stamps)

                                (Cut, laminated, tied!)

Although I gave away a few bookmarks to friends, I saved one for myself which I'm using for the books I read. My friend Fay told me that she couldn't get over the Pope Francis bookmark I gave her because she'll be able to use it for her books (she's a member of a book club), it's about Korea (she used to live in Seoul), and it's Pope Francis!
                    (Finally, my Pope Francis bookmarks!)

On my last vacation day in the Philippines the other week, I visited the Greenbelt Church and saw the life-size Pope Francis cutout by the entrance. Too bad, I wasn't there in Manila last Thursday when he planed in from Sri Lanka, but at least he was there when I stepped into Greenbelt Church!

Last August 2014, I saw Pope Francis and attended the beautification mass he said at Gwanghwamun Square. I just hope that the weather would be okay over Manila this time when he says that Mass today. 

And from South Korea to the Philippines, my Pope Francis bookmarks and I join everyone at Luneta Park!
                (Pope Francis at the Greenbelt Church)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Pasko, Pastries And Pinas!

Looks like everyone is still recovering my the Christmas ('Pasko' in Pilipino) holidays, which included lots of family reunions and parties that involved lots of eating.

For me, while I am home in the Philippines having a vacacion grande, enjoying my favorite pastries and cakes is always part of my itinerary. Since I go home only once or twice a year, I always indulge on the best pastries of the islands and not worry about any weight gain. After all, life is short. And so is my Christmas vacation. Ha-ha-ha!

For all Filipino balikbayans like me flying into the archipelago during these holidays, spending time with family and seeing old friends are a priority. That's why most of the time I just stay at home and stay close to the dinner table. Close to my Felicia's chocolate cake, brazo de mercedes (thanks, Tita Gamay!), home-made ham (thanks, Tita Helen!), napoleones (from Roli's) and some other pastries, that is!

                                 (Felicia's chocolate espresso cake)

             (Felicia's chocolate cake and macaroons)

Although it was mostly good weather during the holidays, a visit from Typhoon Seniang didn't dampen the spirit of the islands; only the travel plans of those wanting to go back to their provinces. I would have wanted to visit my cousins in Iloilo City had the typhoon not cancelled the ferry trips between Iloilo and Bacolod City.

                                 (Arroz valenciana on a celadon plate 
                       from Eden's Pottery in Itaewon)

                       (Dark clouds of Typhoon Seniang)

Well, as I am about to end my vacation here in the tropical temperatures of the Philippines, I wish to tell all my friends back in Seoul that I am not yet too excited to join them in the freezing temperatures of winter. Here, I wear shorts everyday! Ha-ha-ha!

                    (My mom prepared her traditional fruits 
                                   for the new year)
                      (Fireworks on new year's eve at the city plaza!)

                  (I forgot the official name of this Felicia's cake, 
                      but I can't forget the yumminess!)

And although I landed in the Philippines with a minor medical problem a couple of weeks back, I wish to fly back to Korea without a hitch, and without an excess baggage charge. I hope my eardrums would hold up on my next flight; I should write and thank the NAIA3 doctor and nurse who gave me some medical assistance at NAIA3 on my next blog.

                                                  (Napoleones from Roli's)
                                             (Pancit malabon from El Ideal)
                     (Brazo de mercedes with extra filling)

And on this first blog of the year, I wish everyone a safer, more prosperous 2015! Let's all learn the mistakes made in the past years, and make sure they don't happen again. And I am not talking about weight loss diets. Ha-ha-ha!

Happy new year, everyone!

                     (Blue tropical skies over my city!)