Friday, 17 November 2017

Today in Philippine History: November 17, 1898 and General Martin Teofilo Delgado's Revolution

        (The Philippine flag flies over Santa Barbara 
             in the Iloilo Province, Philippines)

Thinking about the Philippine history, I just found it funny that both sides of my ancestry may have participated in it somewhere down the line.

On my mother's side, my maternal grandfather's sister-in-law told us that my grandfather's ancestors came from a small city in Cebu Province, carrying one of the family names that traces its roots to Lapu-Lapu, the brave captain of the natives on the Mactan Island who fought off Ferdinand Magellan, his Spanish soldiers and a thousand of rival natives a month after Magellan landed in the Philippines. 

Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernando de Magallanes, stumbled upon the Islas Filipinas for Spain on March 16, 1521, and unfortunately for him, he got killed on Mactan Island with his head probably ending up as Lapu-Lapu's prized trophy that was eventually displayed on his front porch.

Now, on my father's side, there was this general who fought against the Spanish government in the Iloilo Province. His name was General Martin Teófilo Delgado and according to my aunt, my grandfather used to tag along with him when my grandfather was a kid.

On November 17, 1898, General Martin Teofilo Delgado got his soldiers to put up a flagpole made of a long bamboo in front of the house of Señor Vicente Bermejo. And after the revolutionary leaders' meeting inside the house to set up their own independent government, they all went outside and stood in front of the revolutionary army and a crowd of locals from different towns and villages in Iloilo Province.

                  (General Delgado's statue at 
                  Santa Barbara's public plaza)

And upon the General Delgado's command, the two soldiers raised the Philippine flag to the Philippine hymn being played by his brother Posidio Delgado's band. When the flag reached the top of the bamboo pole, it danced with the tropical breezes and the crowd cheered!

"¡Viva Independencia! Fuerá España! Viva Libertád!", shouted the General to the crowds, celebrating their independence from Spain. This was an important moment in Philippine history.

         (1858-1918; The General lived until 60.)
(A gun on his left hand and a sword on his right)

The raising of the Philippine flag in Santa Barbara, Iloilo Province that day was the first outside of Luzon. That year the Philippines gained independence from Spain.

And 119 years ago this day, November 17, a gallant Ilonggo, and an ancestor, led the historical moment at Santa Barbara in the Iloilo Province.

(The marker that says the Philippine flag should be permanent hoisted all year long, day and night, and illuminated in front of the Santa Barbara in Iloilo)

        (The 120-foot pole and one of the only five 
         giant Philippine flags flying in the country; 
           this is the only one outside of Luzon)

So on one of my many trips to Iloilo, I made sure I visited Santa Barbara and visited the General's statue standing bravely at the public plaza. Just like it was on November 17, 1898, General Delgado's statue faces the Philippine flag with his arms raised in victory with a gun on one and a sword on the other. Finally, I was able to pay my respects to a fearless and honorable ancestor, who probably didn't even care about recognition or pedestals for himself. 

The public plaza was just right next to the beautiful Santa Barbara parish church, which we made sure we also visited.
             (The beautiful neoclassical facade of 
                      Santa Barbara church)

The biggest Philippine flag outside of Luzon flies proudly on a 120-foot pole over Santa Barbara that celebrates today the 'Cry of Santa Barbara'. It is one of the only five giant Philippine flags flying in the Philippines.

And along with the people of Santa Barbara, and probably along with a few distant relatives still living there, I join you in celebrating this important day in Philippine history.

(The main altar retablo features the patron saints) 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Cooking 101: What's In A Happy Meal?

                           (Burger made from veggies)

Well, I was sure they didn't invite me because, like the rest of the hungry world, I love to eat. They could just have invited anyone crossing the street. But I had to accept the invitation; their school activity was interesting.

I was invited to judge a cook-off at a local elementary school here in my hometown. The competition was about cooking a meal at the lowest cost.

What's in a happy meal? I asked. Well, if you ask McDonald's, it's french fries, burger and a soda.

                             (Shrimp lumpia)

But at the cook-off, it's nutrition!

Yes, the winning meal should not only be economical but also be nutritious and appealing to kids.

Most dishes included fish and vegetables, ingredients which are cheapest to buy and nutritious, too. Some competitors brought their A-game, decorating their table with attractive ornaments as if to get more points for the effort. 
           (Seashells with veggies and mango bits)
               (Fruits and vegetables on display)

But I was not about to be swayed by the presentation alone. I had nutrition and the taste in mind, a dish that would encourage a kid to actually eat and enjoy the dish.

There were shrimp lumpia, the super nutritious pinakbet, seashells with vegetables and mangoes, eggplant with pumpkin and bitter gourd, and tilapia cooked in coconut milk and garnished with ripe mangoes. I think there were other two dishes whose names my taste glands have forgotten for now. Ha-ha-ha!

         (Eggplant with pumpkin and bitter gourd)

The winner was actually the tilapia cooked in coconut milk and garnished with mangoes. Well, for one, fish is a good source of protein and, two, the mango in the dish perked up the taste, which I was sure any kid would enjoy. 

After we made the rounds, I asked the other judges for their favorite. It was unanimous. The tilapia won, and the moms who made the dish were ecstatic! The principal got to bring home the dish, by the way. Ha-ha-ha!
      (Pinakbet with rice and banana. Ready to eat?)

If you're cooking today, is your dish as nutritious?

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Thor: Ragnarok

It was Cate Blanchett who invited me to watch Thor: Ragnarok than Chris Hemsworth and his hammer.

Her unmistakably deep, husky voice suited her very well as Hela, the goddess of death. Cate has always been a mean enemy, just like she was in Elizabeth: the Golden Age, where she admonished the Spanish ambassador to "go back to his rat hole".

I so pitied Thor and Loki while Hela was kicking their godly asses during their god-to-god combat scenes. Hela was more powerful than any of them. But as to how both guys fared, you have to watch the film.

         (This time it's Bravo! Yellow Cab Pizza)

Watching Thor: Ragnarok was actually the topping on my pizza that day, literally. Thanks to Yellow Cab Pizza, my tummy was full before I went to the cinema.

A couple of weeks before, I tweeted Yellow Cab Pizza to complain about the boring pepperoni pizza I had before I headed to the Masskara Festival grounds in Bacolod City. And as good companies usually do, they listened to their customer!

Yellow Cab offered me free lunch that day to make up for the previous disappointment. And before I left, I complimented Jonalyn and her staff at Yellow Cab Pizza at the SM Mall in Bacolod City because, this time, their pepperoni pizza was full of cheese and their pasta was yummier. So thanks to Yellow Cab Pizza! Burp! 

And just like my lunch, the movie was fun and worth it. Yes, it's a comic-book movie with flying superheroes from other galaxies with Earth-ly, cheesy humour and Star Wars-y spaceships. So, be prepared to enjoy it like a kid. Though you may need popcorn, I, on the other hand, needed an iced java coffee to cap my pizza and pasta.

After the movie, I could still hear Cate Blanchett asking, "Dear brother, what were you the god of again?"

Though she was a bad girl, I never forgot why she was the reason I watched the movie. Sorry, I'm not a fan of Thor and Loki; I'm not from Asgard. Ha-ha-ha!

So, if you're also watching Thor: Ragnarok, don't forget your popcorn. Or pizza. Or pasta

Friday, 3 November 2017

Kaon Ta!: Enjoying Silay City's Gastronomic Heritage

               (My mom and her friend Jenny)

Silay City on the Negros Island in the Philippines is famous for its history and heritage homes, the most famous of which is Balay Negrense owned by the Gaston Family. 

But aside from its rich history and famous children, Silay is also famous for its local delicacies the recipes of which have been handed down from generations of Silaynon families. I can always attest to that as my favorite snack stop in Silay is El Ideal - located on the ground floor of that unassuming house by the national highway near the City's public plaza.  

My oldest memories of Silay delicacies were courtesy of Tia Bodok, an old lady vendor who traveled to Victorias from Silay balancing her wide flat basket full of panara, dulce gatas, salab, and other snacks made in Silay.

Well, thanks to El Ideal, I can always satisfy my craving with a trip to Silay whenever I am on the island.

And last June 10, 2017, we were able to enjoy, not just El Ideal's menu, but the rest of Silaynon's recipes!  Held at Balay Negrense grounds, the Kaon Ta! food festival celebrated the gastronomic history and delights of Silay, and we were glad we made the trip! 

'Kaon ta', short for 'makaon kita', means let's eat.

    (Monsignor Gigi Gaston's adobong milyonaryo)
      (The freshest lumpia made on the spot!)
           (Panara is also a childhood favorite)

We made it to Balay Negrense that day, just in time for merienda. And at the first stall, Monsignor Gaston's adobong milyonaryo greeted everyone, inviting them to try his own style adobo. We weren't able to say 'hi' to Monsignor Gigi as we just missed him; he left when we arrived. Fortunately, he was able to make it to my birthday lunch at home a month after that).

             (My mom and Jenny enjoying their 
            sightseeing before sitting down to eat)

You can just imagine my drooling as I jumped from one stall to another with all those displays of yummy delicacies from 'heritage' recipes. See? Silay City has not only successfully preserved its old homes and converted them into showcases of its heritage, but the Silaynon families also preserved their family recipes and shared them with tourists and visitors from everywhere! 

Bravo, Silay!

Of course, we spent a few hours enjoying the food that afternoon, and we left just before it grew really dark. We were so full we didn't feel like having dinner that night when we got home. Burp!

              (A live band serenading the guests)

So, if you missed Kaon Ta! last June, you have another chance to enjoy Silay City's famous recipes this weekend (November 4-5) at Balay Negrense grounds!


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

October: The Month Of The Holy Rosary

I remember during my grade school days at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Victorias in the Philippines, the whole school would gather around the statue of the Virgin Mary next to the dormitory building and pray the Holy Rosary all together.

This was done on Fridays in the month of October, the month of the Holy Rosary. 

And this month, since I was home, I was able to participate with my mom in the parish's living rosary that was done in front of our parish church.

Of course, I had with me the rosary the kind Sister Beneditta gave to me at the Dubai International Airport. This, to me, is a very special rosary, since I was a stranger to Sister Beneditta, and yet she gave me her rosary. As I recounted in my blog about her kindness, I never saw Sister Beneditta again during our Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai to Rome. Neither did I ever see her even when our plane landed.

All my childhood years studying at Salesian schools, devotion to Mary was encouraged. That's why my classmates and I grew up knowing Mary, the Help of Christians as our Mother, who's always looking over us. 

So, were you also able to join your parish's Holy Rosary this month?

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Living in Korea: How I Got My Permanent Resident Visa

(Note: This post is NOT to be used as a reference for Korean Immigration policies. This is just to share my experience in applying for a permanent resident visa in Korea.)

After I finished my sixth year in South Korea, I was told I could already apply for a permanent visa since I held an E-7 visa continuously for six straight years. But at that time, I was required to present a TOPIK Level 2 certification, which I didn't have. TOPIK stands for Test of Proficiency in Korean, and I needed to pass at least Level 2.

But after my tenth year, that TOPIK Level 2 requirement was waived; I no longer needed it in my application for a permanent visa since I was told I completed a ten-year continuous stay in Korea under the same visa type.

So, I went to the Seoul Global Center in Jongno, Seoul, and with the help of the Filipino staff Robylyn, I was able to get the list of documents I needed. Robylyn helped me call the Immigration hotline 1345, who then enumerated to her the required documents and faxed to her the forms (other than the application form) I needed to accomplish. 

These are the standard requirements I submitted:

1. Application form with photo
(Download application form here.)

2. Passport and alien registration card

3. Current employment contract

4. Your employer's business registration 

5. Apartment rental contract (if the contract is not in your name, there's a document in Korean to be signed by the person who is the signatory to the lease contract of the apartment you live in).

6. Any postmarked letter addressed to you at the current address where you live. (The address should be the same as the one in the apartment rental contract.)

7. Letter of guarantee from a Korean citizen. (There's also a prescribed form for this letter written in the Korean language).

8. Latest income tax return (You can request this from any National Tax Service office. Your previous annual income in Korea should be 100% more than the per capita income in Korea.)

9. Transcript of records from my university with apostille. (In my case, I requested my transcript from my university and I had it apostilled with the Commission of Higher Education of the Philippines, which then sent it the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines (DFA) for authentication. After claiming it from the DFA, I asked a friend in Manila to bring it to the South Korean Embassy in Manila for authentication. I gave an authorization letter to that friend so she could request authentication on my behalf.)

10. Clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation of the Philippines (I applied for the clearance at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul and had the application sent to the Philippines. And when I flew home for a vacation that year, I visited the nearest NBI office to facilitate the process. The clearance was released days after and was claimed by someone whom I authorized.)

11. Processing fee of KRW230,000

Other than the standard documents required above, I also submitted these documents which I thought could help in the approval of my application:

12. Photocopy of my Korean bankbook (I photocopied the last page and the information page that included my name, signature and bank account number).

13. The latest statement of pension plan balance from the National Pension Service. (This statement is sent to any pension plan holder in South Korea, or you can visit their office and request for your latest statement).

14. The latest statement of investments from the securities firm to which my annual severance payments were deposited. 

15. Certificate of Award from the Seoul City Mayor when I won in the Seoul International Essay Writing Competition

16. Certificate of Appointment as a World Korea Blogger from the Director of Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS)

17. Letters of blood donation results from my numerous blood donation at the Korean Red Cross. (Since I didn't have any certification from the Korean Red Cross, I submitted these letters as proof that I was a regular blood donor. These letters are sent to the blood donor days after the actual bloodletting; it contains the blood tests done on your donated blood.)

Note: You can add more documents, e.g., scholastic diplomas from Korean schools/universities, certificates of awards in Korea, certifications from your volunteer work in Korea, certificates from competitions you won, and other achievements in Korea.

I submitted all those documents in mid-November and I received an SMS on my phone late December (about 36 days after) advising me that I could already get my new alien card. So in my case, it took about 36 days for the processing and approval of my application. 

                              *  *  *  *  *

As I mentioned above, this post is only to share my experience in applying for a permanent residency visa in Korea. Do visit the Korean Immigration website for official policies:

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Creative Masks @ Bacolod City's 2017 Masskara Festival

When elaborate masskaras start to be displayed around Bacolod City in the Philippines, it only means one thing: it's the Masskara Festival!

My mom and I stumbled upon this display of masskaras while we were at a local mall in Bacolod City, and were impressed with the creativity and ingenuity.
                (A feng shui masskara that would 
           probably balance the energies of your face)

The Masskara Festival was organized in 1980 when the city of Bacolod and the province of Negros Occidental needed 'something' to raise the spirit of the city and the province from the gloomy atmosphere brought about by the tragedy of the sinking of M/V Don Juan and the decline in the prices of sugar, which is the main product of the island.

The maritime vessel M/V Don Juan carrying passengers from Bacolod City and Negros Occidental sank upon its collision with a tanker. About 700 Bacolodnons and Negrenses perished. That time, everyone in Negros Occidental knew someone who knew someone who died in the tragedy. It was a very sad year.
        (This is the most elaborate masskara I have 
              ever seen, and probably the one that 
                 would break my neck if I wore it)

   (This one looks like an elegant peacock from afar)

              (Black feathers and gold motif)

Then came the idea of the Masskara Festival.

The organizers of the festival thought of naming it mass-kara, a combination of the word 'mass', meaning crowds, and 'cara', the Spanish word for face, because if you're attending the Festival, it will be crowd of smiling faces, capitalizing on Bacolod's reputation as the City of Smiles.

              (This looks very Carmen Miranda)

               (This masskara looks very irony)

And with the masks came the competitions such as masskara costume-making, street-dancing, and Masskara Queen, a beauty contest. All these inspired by Venice's masquerades, Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, and New Orlean's Mardi Gras.

    (This reminds me of a Venetian mask costume)

             (Looks like the creator used recycled 
               materials to create this masskara)

             (The creative masskaras on display at a 
                           Bacolod City mall)

So, if you're attending the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City this week, with or without a mask, you'll definitely be wearing a smile all week long!

Have fun!