Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Manila Photo - Festival of Photography

Photography enthusiasts may be interested in visiting and taking part in the Manila Photo Festival of Photography and Moving Image at SM Aura Premier in Taguig from September 29 to October 5. Exhibits, lectures, workshops, portfolio reviews, live shoots, etc are scheduled for this week-long event. For more information visit Manila Photo's website.


Picture collage from manilaphoto.net

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mount Mayon Impending Eruption

Every day there’s news of an impending eruption of the volcano that is said to have the most perfect cone, Mount Mayon.  Located in the province of Albay in the Central Bicol area, Mount Mayon is a tourist destination because of its picturesque landscape.

Beautiful picture c/o pixoto.com

Last September 15, alert level 3 was raised over Mount Mayon, which signals “relatively high unrest” and an “increased tendency towards eruption”  (from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS’s website).  The danger zone is currently in the 6 kilometer radius around the volcano, thereby increasing the number of residents in the evacuation centers.

Picture c/o dailymail.co.uk

I salute Governor Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province for the efficiency in evacuating his constituents and providing them their basic needs in the evacuation centers.  The national government has extended their financial assistance in providing for the evacuees, whose number has reached over 51,000.

Mount Mayon and the other parts of Albay is just one of the places in Luzon that I wish to explore in the future, not necessarily on a day when Mount Mayon erupts.  The last eruption was in 2009-2010 but was minor compared to the volcano’s current activities.  More information on its past eruption can be found at Wikipedia.

To my kababayans and tourists in the area, please follow the local government warnings to avoid danger.  Mount Mayon is truly a beauty to behold with or without the eruption, but surely that selfie can be taken from a safe vantage point.

Other related sites:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Taho!!!



"Taho!!!", the street vendor or the "magtataho" shouts out each morning waiting for customers to shout back "taho" to signal that you want to buy the sweet snack.  We have a "suki" or a constant vendor whom we buy from and whom we've been buying 4-6 cups from each day.  Joselyn loves this treat and eats 2-3 cups when she gets home from school.  Each cup currently costs 5 pesos.  You can also request from the vendor additional syrup, with or without the sago pearls depending on your taste.
Picture c/o www.examiner.com
There was a similar treat when I was living in the US that I bought at the Chinese or Vietnamese groceries.  These were the soft tofu which would have flavors such as the syrup that we're used to here in the Philippines or some with an almond flavor.

So what is actually in this snack and is it good for us?  Taho or tofu is rich in protein and can be a substitute for milk and other meat products for vegetarians.  The brown color comes from the brown syrup made from brown sugar and water.  The tapioca pearls or sago as they're more commonly known here in the Philippines, gives this dish, which is treated as a snack or dessert, texture, a round jelly-like addition one can chew on.


Other interesting facts can be found in the following websites:
Description and background on taho:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taho 
How to make homemade taho:
http://panlasangpinoy.com/2010/02/20/filipino-street-food-homemade-taho-recipe/ 
Taho nutrition facts:
http://tracker.dailyburn.com/nutrition/street_taho_calories

So the next time you hear "Taho!!!", shout back "Taho!" and try this sweet Filipino treat.  Some advise: It's good to have a "suki" as I mentioned earlier, as there are TV reports of unsafe and unclean practices of some of the taho makers/vendors.  It's best too to buy it in the morning as you know it's freshly made.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Roasting Lechon in Australia

Today is Throwback Thursday or commonly known as TBT - a time to post and remember pictures and memories of old.  Here is an old picture of our backyard in Australia when we lived there in the mid 70s to early 80s.  This picture is circa mid 70’s.  That’s my dad poking at the big lechon on some occasion.  That’s Tito Pat next to him.  This was just one of so many parties that we had in our house, mostly with mom’s co-workers from the Embassy.  I do remember us cooking lechon on more than one occasion.



This picture tells me though that Filipinos no matter where they are in the world continue with Filipino traditions and cultures.  This would be a typical scene here in the Philippines especially in the provinces during weddings or birthdays.  Of course nowadays, people would just buy lechon from the nearest lechonan instead of trying to roast one.  Living in the Lechon Capital of the Philippines here in Laloma, there are plenty of stores to choose from; Ping Ping’s and Mila’s are some of the more popular ones, but there are other less known lechon stores.


I’m not sure if this other picture of my brother and my aunt, Nanay Vicky, is on the same occasion.  It looks like my brother’s birthday with the table filled with all our traditional food.  I can recognize rice, pancit, lumpia and of course the freshly roasted lechon with that identifiable apple in its mouth - a delectable meal ready to be feasted on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Basura!

My last post got me to thinking.  Typhoon Mario caused floods in many areas.  While the cause of floods in areas such as the provinces are due to the rising rivers, the cause of most floods in Metro Manila is again the clogged drainage systems due to waste - plastics, styrofoams, etc. that are just thrown without a care.  Garbage or in tagalog "basura" causes floods.  Here's something I just wrote up to remind all of the simple act of just putting our waste in the the right place - the garbage container.


Picture c/o http://pananawpinoy.com/dagat-ng-basura/


Basura

Bata bata, huwag mong itapon
‘Yang basura kung saan-saan
At sigurado magiging dahilan
Ng pagbaha ng ating daan

Bata bata, pagkatapos mong kumain
‘Yang hawak mong balutan
Itapon sa maayos
Maghanap ng basurahan

Maliit man o malaki,
Kapag ‘yan ay naipon-ipon
Ay papasok sa kanal
Dadaloy sa ating mga ilog

Bata bata, huwag gayahin
‘Yang nakikita mong matanda
Na pagkatapos kumain,
Ginawa ng basura ang ating kalsada

Uy matanda! ‘Di ka na bata
Magbigay ka ng magandang halimbawa
May isip ka na, gamitin mo naman
Itapon ang basura sa tamang paraan

Mga bata't matanda, kahit sino ka man

Mayaman o mahirap, Pinoy o dayuhan
Igalang ang ating kapaligiran
Ang mundo nati'y mahalin at alagaan

Friday, September 19, 2014

Typhoon Mario

Photo courtesy of http://www.typhoon200.ph/

There are parts of our house that is leaking, an old illness that we’ve tried to repair countless times, but always comes back especially during heavy rainfall.  Like today, with typhoon Mario, I see the drops falling from behind the computer table, a mop on hand to dry the floor.

But this doesn’t compare to the problems of our other kababayans.   I woke up at 2:30am to hear the heavy downpour, groggily looking out our window and wondering how long it would last.  It only lasted a few minutes, but it was strong downpour and I was sure it must have caused floods.

We woke up to get ready for the kid’s school.  The kids first went downstairs at around 5:15am and happily went upstairs again to announce that there was no school.  Quezon City had announced suspension of classes from pre-school to high school.  They were too excited to go back to sleep. Other cities and provinces were likewise announcing suspension of classes.

Later in the hour, Malacanang announced that all levels were suspended in all of Metro Manila.  As I write, the rains are still pouring and the street in front of us is still passable.  But my husband who earlier went out to buy bread and corned beef for breakfast said that some surrounding streets were already flooded.

Jojo’s niece went to work despite the downpour.  She works in Manila and is sure to pass through flooded streets.  I offered her my rubber boots as she was going to go out in tsinelas, but she declined.  Hope she gets to work safely.  Hope everyone keeps safe.  God bless our country and countrymen.

Important sites for more updates on the current weather conditions:
Evacuation and Emergency hotlines:
Most churches and public schools are turned into evacuation centers during emergency situations.  For hard-hit areas, go to your nearest church, school, or barangay center for relief.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback - Meralco building and the Ortigas area


Do you recognize this area or that building in the middle of the deserted field?  That building standing by its lonesome is the Meralco building along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig, Metro Manila.  I didn’t get the date of this picture as it was a part of a collection of historical pictures of Meralco at its museum, taken during their anniversary in 2008.  My husband’s late cousin worked at Meralco as a company nurse for many decades and invited us to one of their anniversary celebrations.  It was my family’s first time to be on the Meralco grounds.



What amazes me about this picture is the scarcity of buildings and houses around the area and the handful of cars along the main avenue.  Here is a more recent picture of the area, taken from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meralco site, (you can learn more about the electric company from this website).  

Going by this area on our way to Binangonan, we usually get stuck in traffic with the front of this building being a major intersection.  Turning right would bring you to the SM Megamall area, which is not just the home of this sprawling mall but other malls, hotels, businesses and high-rise condominium complexes.  Going straight along Ortigas would bring you past Medical City and several subdivisions such as Valle Verde.  All these residential subdivisions and businesses in the area have made this area quite a hub of activity – a large leap from the era when the Meralco building was the sole building in this part of the Metro.

Commuting back then only took minutes while it takes hours in our days.  I have friends who went to school at St. Therese College along D. Tuazon Quezon City.  They lived in the Katipunan area, which would take an hour at least of commuting time.  Back then, in the 70s, the streets weren’t as congested as they are now, so the commute would take half that time.   Even travel from nearby provinces like Rizal to Metro Manila was bearable, unlike today where it takes anywhere from an hour or two or more, depending on the time of day or the traffic situation.


Times have changed, some things for the better, but for other things such as the traffic and congestion in the Metro, for the worse. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Leveling Up - New Trifocal Eyeglasses

These are my new glasses.  It was a needed change, having my old pair for at least 4 years.  I don’t believe in buying new pairs just for the sake of fashion, though the old ones with their blue/silver frame were getting to be on the boring side.  The reason for the new pair is my recent need for bifocals.  I’m not sure when I first noticed that I had trouble reading small print up close or when I found it difficult to thread a needle.  I had never had this problem.  But it’s one of those inevitable circumstances that come with aging.  I could still read the menu in the restaurants we went to, unlike some of my co-parents who needed to take out their reading glasses.

So now I enter a new era of bifocals, or as the optometrist explained, trifocals, since I purchased the progressive lens which did not have that distinctive line in the middle that bifocals had.  These had another middle focal point when using the computer.  I’m still trying to get used to these.  I was told by the optometrist that it may take two weeks to adjust to the new lens and I may feel some dizziness during this period.  I did feel dizzy when I first used them and went out from the shop into the mall and after a few minutes went back to wearing my old pair.  I also felt the same dizziness in church last Sunday.  I think it’s the big places that I have to get used to.  I wear it most often in the house and I don’t get the same dizzying effect.

The brief explanation I got was that it has 3 focal areas, the one on top for viewing far away (for my near-sightedness), the one in the middle for using the computer and the one at the bottom for reading (far-sightedness).  If I were to view sideways, I would need to turn my head and not just my eyes.  Turning just my eyes would give me blurred vision.


On my previous visit when Dr Belle from Ideal Vision tested my eyesight, she said that as I grow older my near-sightedness would decrease but my far-sightedness would increase.  Thus needing to change my prescription every once in a while, another thing to look forward to in my 40s and above stage.  

(Thank you, by the way to Dr Belle for the discount she gave us.  The frame were discounted and she gave us another discount for "knowing" their technician.  Actually I owe this to my husband's PR, he's always greeting and talking to people as if they've known each other for ages.  And this goes too for Ideal Vision's technician who contantly adjusts Benjo's frame.  Dr Belle must've thought we were close with their technician, by the way Jojo talked to him, thus giving us their employee discount.)

There are things that we can control like the food we eat, exercising and other health habits to help our overall well-being.  But there are things like our eye sight that is not within our control and we just have to be thankful for that instrument on top of our nose that helps us see better. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Foodtrip - Ramon Lee's Panciteria

To put more order into my random blogging, I've decided to designate some days with specific topics:
  • Throwback Thursdays
  • Foodie Fridays
  • Spirit-filled Sundays
It being a Friday, the topic is on food, which could be anything from restaurant reviews, Filipino food culture or Filipino recipes.  Today I've chosen to review the Ramon Lee's Panciteria restaurant in Quiapo, Manila since we were just there last Monday.

We came from the Villalobos area where we looked at jewelry material at Wellmanson's.  Ramon Lee wasn't our first choice.  We wanted to try the store the Globe lumpia house, but unfortunately they didn't have any dine-in space and only catered for take-out customers.  So we, Dra Janny and I, followed Jojo blindly, as he led us to the street that led to Ramon Lee.  

It was around 12:30pm, we were hungry and our walk turned out to be longer than we had expected. So we chose one of the first things that the waiter suggested, their budget meal combo, which consisted of fried rice, roasted chicken, pancit canton noodles, fried siomai and an egg/tofu soup for P150.  We asked how long the order would be and the waiter said it would only take a few minutes.  We were hungry from the long, hot walk.  And they were right, in less than 5 minutes our meal was right in front of us.  Not much to look at and when I tasted it, not much to taste either.

I hate to make a bad review on any restaurant.  This restaurant actually got a good review from Poptalk.  But we have to remember that these are TV shows doing the review on restaurants who are notified in advance of their visit.  Unlike us, your ordinary Filipino citizen, who just happens to be in the area, unannounced with no TV crew for the world to see.  I was hungry and so I would've eaten anything, but what they served was obviously, some leftover food or food that had gone cold and reheated.  Which explains why it only took a few minutes for them to serve the meal.  They're supposed to be famous for their chicken and noodles, but neither one, satisfied my appetite.  And the rice and soup, blah!



I looked at what the other customer next to us ordered, maybe he had it better.  He bought a squid dish with rice which he finished and must've enjoyed.  The place wasn't packed, as you would expect for lunch hour.  As a plus, the waiters, at least the one who served us, were friendly, the seats comfortable enough.  Maybe it was an off day or that the chef wasn't the usual chef, but for a place that has lasted this long (it was founded in 1929), I would suggest a revamp of sorts if they plan on satisfying more customers.  Ramon Lee's Panciteria - no "pop" for me.

Memories of 9/11

September 11, 2001.  13 years ago from this day (Around 9am Eastern standard time, 6am Pacific standard time).  I was in Seattle, Washington during that time, woken up earlier than usual by my dad who was staying with me.  My dad, who was diagnosed with PSP (Progressive supranuclear palsy) had tried to get up and move from his bedside pan/chair to his bed and he fell on the floor in between.  He had gained more weight during his illness being dependent on his wheelchair for most of his movement.  My 95lb frame could not with all the strength I could muster get him off the floor.  I had tried several minutes to my dismay and my dad's.  It was too early, I think around 5:30am, and I did not want to wake my brother who lived in another house several streets from where we lived.  I decided instead to call my then boyfriend, now husband, Jojo who lived a little further from us.  He willingly came and helped my father off the floor and back into bed.

In a few minutes I was to get ready for work and Jojo stayed to drive me.  We turned on the TV and watched the unfolding news, smoke belching from one of the towers of the World Trade Center, an airplane had crashed into the building the news reported.  No words escaped between us as we continued to watch, such a tragedy, how many people were there, how could this have happened? were questions that ran through my mind as with many others.  And then as we continued to watch, a second plane came crashing through the second tower.  It still sends chills in my body and my eyes are now welling up in tears.  No words but now some of the answers were there.  This is no accident, it is intentional.  A terrorist attack.  We were miles away, but as we saw the images unfolding before our eyes, we felt the emotions that many who witnessed this catastrophe did.

We had tickets to the SFC Conference to be held in New Jersey in two weeks.  New Jersey is right next to New York and we were planning to take a road trip around the area and the neighboring cities.  It would be our last trip in the US since we were already planning to fly back to the Philippines the following year.  After the 9/11 tragedy, we still continued with planning our trip despite my mom's objections about the safety of travel especially in that area.  But I was stubborn and being on an emotional charismatic high, I was sure that God would protect us.  Unfortunately due to the events of 9/11, the conference was cancelled.

After watching last night's documentary on the 9/11 tragedy, the feeling still lingers.  That hollow feeling inside when you see the video of the plane crashing into the towers.  Senseless, useless, cowardice.  Many lives were lost during that fateful day, lives of people who just came to work, firefighters and other rescuers who climbed the stairs looking for people to save, passengers of the airplanes.  We remember them today. For the lives that were lost and for the lives they have touched. We remember too that our world is still not safe, that there are still minds who organize themselves to do evil.  But we still must remember and never forget the heroism of those who saved lives still outweighs the ones who tried to destroy it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mistakes in English

This picture was taken some time last year when the apartment complex in front of our house was under construction.  I post this in the hope that it elicits some laughter and gives light to your day but at the same time not wanting the laughter to be directed at the person(s) who wrote this message or to make fun of their educational or ethical background.


So the sign is supposed to read: “Danger No Parking”, since debris might fall from the construction materials.  English spelling is always difficult, moreso for a non-English speaker.  My children have spelling tests for their English subjects.  They are in grades 5 and 3, and some words they are asked to spell are quite difficult.  Angelicum gives the child chances so that they give the same set of words to test on several times until the child masters the spelling of the words.  I tell my children that they can only learn to spell correctly when they come across the words and their meanings in their readings.  There are simple words that can be spelled by listening to the sounds they make, but with the different exceptions in English you cannot always rely on sounds.  So I tell them to read often if they want to be able to learn the correct spelling of words.

In the above case, the workers were Ilocano (my husband got to talk to a few of them at one time) and some Ilocano tongues would pronounce the words “Danger” as “Denger” and “Parking” as “Parkeng”, thus making the mistake in the picture. “Matigas ang dila” (“hard tongue”) would sometimes be said of some people who speak in some dialects.

A person’s educational background cannot be to blame either.  Even college graduates would make spelling and grammatical mistakes.  I’m one of those who, even though I’ve grown up reading, speaking and writing in English, still commit mistakes.  Spelling mistakes are caught on the spelling checker found in many applications, but grammatical mistakes are not as obvious.  A frequent challenge I come across is with the use of tenses.  My college English teacher noticed that I wrote well in one of our assignments, but brought to my attention that I tended to shift tenses, sometimes in the same sentence.  I try to be more conscious of this in my writing, but it’s not always easy.

When I read people’s postings or comments on facebook, I’m conscious of the mistakes they make in spelling or grammar.  I don’t comment on these, but still I can’t help being critical when reading, wanting to correct the mistakes with my invisible red pen like a teacher would do.  Like one of my friends, who is an editor by profession, once corrected one of my facebook posts.   I thanked him and made the needed corrections.  I’m always open to corrections and critical comments, which I would like to hear more of on this blog.


“Tao lang, nagkakamali”  (Just human, open to mistakes).  It’s only from our mistakes that we can learn and continue to grow, whether in spelling or in life.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Start of the Christmas Season and Mary's Song

The Philippines has the longest Christmas season in the world, with Christmas, at least the shopping and decorating part, starting as early as September or the start of the “ber” months.  There are radio stations that play Christmas songs almost all year round, but come September, Christmas songs are played more frequently both on radio and TV.

Our home is no exemption as I listen to more Christmas songs on youtube and start playing carols on the keyboard and the flute, which I have recently just picked up.

On the keyboard I play the traditional Christmas carols, but on youtube I like listening to the more contemporary Christian songs.  One favorite, which I’ve mentioned in this blog during a Christmas past, is Amy Grant’s “Mary’s Song” or “Breath of Heaven”.  I downloaded the music notes the other day and reading the lyrics made me feel the song and Mother Mary’s predicament during her 
pregnancy.  

Below is the lyrics on the song along with the youtube song itself.  Read or sing along and imagine Mother Mary as she bore our Savior Jesus in her womb.  Tomorrow is Mama Mary's birthday.  Happy birthday Mama Mary!



Verse 1:
I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a baby inside.
And I wonder what I’ve done.
Holy Father, You have come
and chosen me now to carry Your Son.

Verse 2:
I am waiting in a silent pray’r.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone.
Be with me now, be with me now.

Refrain:
Breath of heaven, hold me together.
Be forever near me, breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness.
Pour over me Your holiness,
for You are Holy, breath of heaven.


Verse 3:
Do you wonder as You watch my face,
if a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am for the mercy of Your plan.
Help me be strong, help me be… help me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Foodtrip to Bugis

I mentioned in my previous blog that a Filipino blog without a food blog isn’t complete.  My blog on the “budol fight” wasn’t actually a blog on food but on a style of eating food.  So here’s a food review blog on a recent food trip with my co-food trippers, my hubby Jojo and Dra Janny. 

This blog isn’t on a Filipino cuisine but on a cuisine from a neighboring Asian country, Singapore.  Our group (some co-parents from Angelicum) usually has our breakfast “meetings” at Lam Tin on Banawe street which is one of the few restaurants that are open early, around 7am.  Lam Tin especially during lunch and dinner is packed.  During breakfast hours there are a handful of customers.  I need not promote this restaurant as it has all the customers it can handle.

Brunch is served. With Dra Janny, ready to sample the dishes.


So we wanted to try something new.  Just off Banawe on N. Roxas street is a restaurant that I found while searching the internet for a place that opens early and was close to the kids’ school.  Bugis Singapore Streetfood Restaurant opens at 8am and the price reasonable, according to the zomato website.  We were the first customers there since it was only a little past 8am.  The interior was cozy with the bright colored chairs and soft lights.  We ordered the laksa, one of their specialties, the vegetable rolls, tofu with mushrooms, crab and scallop sticks.  We were told that they did not have the vegetable rolls but just meat rolls, so we made do with that.  The laksa was the first to arrive in a small wok on top of a boiler that kept the soup warm.  We asked for the rice to be served so we could start at once. Hungry stomachs could not wait.

Laksa is a famous Singaporean curry soup dish that has a
mixture of noodles, seafood and other dishes that can also be
bought ala carte like fishballs
Though I found the laksa to be more spicy than I was used to, it was just the right combination with the rice (and the cold water which I kept handy).  And to our pleasant surprise, they refilled the soup even without our request.  Unlimited laksa soup, Wow! This alone was worth the cost of the dish.  The other dishes weren’t that fantastic, your ordinary lumpia and the tofu a little too big and on the sweet side, with the mushrooms too small to be noticed.  The crab sticks were delicious though. These could be ordered ala carte from the front of the store along with the fishballs, squidballs, kikiam, etc.  We spent about P560 for the whole meal.


I would go back to the place, even if it was just for the laksa.  We promised to take the kids there one of these days. I’m sure they’ll like the place. Benjo has tasted laksa before from Paotsin and loves it and I’m sure he’ll love the laksa at Bugis too.  Joselyn, on the otherhand, would be content with the fishballs and maybe some of the other dimsum entrees.  All-in-all, Bugis Singapore Streetfood Restaurant – Pop!  (If Tonipet of Poptalk cares to ask ;)

Budol Fight

I rarely blog on food, and when I do, I only write on it as a side comment.  This being a Filipino blog (with an umbrella of topics covering all things and ideas from my own experiences here in the Philippines) there should be included a food blog.  Filipinos and food are very synonymous, no Filipino party is complete without food, food and more food.  More often, the reception and the food served at a wedding celebration is more talked about than the wedding itself.

“Budol fight” is a term that has become common in many a gathering.  No, it isn’t some sort of sport or fighting bout.  It is a way of eating and serving food here in the Philippines that is practical, fun and easy.  All is needed is a large banana leaf, regularly found on banana trees especially in the provinces.  This is used as the plates.  Then the food is just spread in the middle of the banana leaf.  All participants gather around the table with their space of the leaf in front of them.  We then gather with our hands food from the middle and place it in front of our section of the leaf and eat with our bare hands (“magkamay”).

 This way of eating may look rather messy and unhygienic especially to a newcomer but it’s a Filipino tradition that brings many a laughter and a full stomach.


I remember when I was younger that I attended a wedding reception in my Dad’s provice in Batangas where the meal was served budol fight style.  I was, to say the least, a little shocked, especially when someone in front of me stood up and I was supposed to take his position on the same space of the banana leaf that he ate.  No spoons, no forks, no plates - the plus side, no dishes and utensils to wash afterwards.  All you have to do is throw away the leaf.

An impromptu salu-salo at our home in Binangonan during
 Ate Connie's vacation last 2010


This type of eating increases one’s appetite, something that I’ve experienced even without the banana leaf.  I believe it’s because you know that you have to “fight” with the many others you have to share the food with before it’s all eaten.  So when in the Philippines, try eating the budol fight way.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Philippine Post Office

The Philippine Post Office is still alive.  Even with the onslaught of text messaging especially at the turn of the millennium, then email and more recently social networking such as facebook and twitter, there are still people who send actual mail and packages through the post office.   We ourselves still get letters and cards through the mail.  Mom and Ate Connie are regular senders of birthday and Christmas cards, which we are always thankful for.  The kids have received cards on all their birthdays, excited when they see their names on the envelope and open up the special message that is contained within.

Due mostly to practical reasons, people nowadays have foregone the sending of letters and cards.  It costs 80 pesos to send a card to the US for example, while sending an email is free.  It takes anywhere from 1 week to 2 weeks for my relatives abroad to receive their letter/card through regular postal mail.  It may only take seconds for them to receive their message through email or facebook posts.  Another reason for not sending through mail is to reduce the use of paper/cardboard, to help save trees.

But still, receiving and sending something that is tangible such as a card or handwritten message, has its magic.  You feel a little closer to the one you’re sending or receiving the letter to.  It is more personal and you know that the person who sent it took the time, energy and money making it more precious and meaningful.

This is a statue of the friendly neighborhood postman.
Actually most mailmen in the Philippines are not dressed
this way but are in very informal ware with a bimpo or towel
wrapped around his neck to wipe off sweat
I took a trip to the Philippine Post Office just this morning with my cousin to send my mom and aunt’s medication.  We took a jeepney to Lawton stopping right in front of the colossal building with its tall columns.  This was my first time to enter this building which we had passed by countless other times.  Upon entering you see several windows with numbers and different signs depending on your postal needs… domestic, international, regular, express, metered, stamped, etc…  I think 50 windows in all, and only one window had a customer.  The first window we went to was for International express, which would have cost us P1100+ in postal fees to get our package to the US in 3 days.  We asked for the regular, non-express shipment and we were directed to window #43.  The personnel were friendly, helping us with packing our material.  My cousin had sent packages before and was aware that they check the contents of the packages so it is best to leave them open and just do the packing at the post office.  Remember too that when sending medication, it must be sent with the prescription.  Our package ended up costing P500 (International, registered mail to the US) + P30 for the envelope with bubble-wrap, which the post office sells.

Another reason why I went with my cousin (I usually let her send the package) was to see the commemorative stamps.  There is an e-post shop on the left side of the building which sells stamps and other memorabilia and even snacks.  I asked for Cory Aquino’s painting stamps (pictured on the left) which I saw on TV were made especially scented.  A booklet of 8 costs P200 so I bought 2, one for me and another for my cousin.  


I asked for Pope Francis’ stamps too, which I also heard were available in preparation for his visit in January next year, but unfortunately they were sold out.  My mom collected stamps when we were young. Actually they were meant for me and my brother, with each of us having our own stamp album, so we could catch on the hobby.  But we never did get interested although the stamp albums are still here and on occasion (when dusting the bookshelf) I take a look at the collection.




Why did I buy the commemorative stamps?  Partly as an investment, they do tell a part of our history and maybe someday these stamps will become rare and valuable, partly because I wanted to support our postal system.  There is a proposed postal museum, which I would love to see if it materializes.  The post office is large and its customers are few.  But even if it’s a non-profitable, even a losing “business”, I heard it said that it’s a system or a service that will not go away at least not in the near future, because it reaches even the most remote places in the Philippines, places in the provinces especially which the modern and internet age has not yet reached.


For more info on the Philippine postal office, go to their official website: http://www.philpost.gov.ph
Phone numbers:
     Main Office (Manila) +63 (2) 525-7028
     Main Office (Quezon City) +63 (2) 928-6443 or +63 (2) 928-1667


Reminders when sending packages:  
  • Do not pack the materials beforehand or else pack them loosely so the material(s) can be checked by the post office personnel;
  • When packing medication, make sure to enclose the prescription

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Luho" (Luxury) and "Sapat" (Simple)

Part of my previous blog mentioned our attending mass in English and at times finding words in Filipino that gave it a deeper meaning.  This blog which I originally wrote in April 22, 2012 but which I drafted and never published is very timely...

"luho", "sapat"... these are some of the words that the priest at the 8am mass mentioned in his homily today.  We usually attend the 7am mass, but being it summer and a hot one at that, we have been waking up late and today was one of those mornings where we wanted to catch a few more minutes of sleep.  The reason why we like to attend the 7am mass is that it is just the right time, not too hot in Church plus it's in English as is every second mass.

The 8am mass is in Filipino, which I sometimes have a hard time understanding and following the responses.  But the homily in most part Filipino gives a different insight or perspective such as the one that Father (I didn't catch his name) gave this morning.  The Gospel, as the third Sunday of Easter, was on another appearance of Jesus to his apostles and disciples.  "Peace be with you" is his first greeting.  Father explains that the greeting of "Peace" or in Hebrew, "Shalom", has more connotation than just peace inside us, or spiritual peace, but is holistic in blessing us with all good things including our material welfare. 

"Peace be with you", was another blessing that another Father said before I left the confessional box before Holy week.  For some reason, well reasons that I know but which I will keep to myself, I was crying while confessing my sins. Crying in a way that I found it difficult to talk and afterwards I had to compose myself and try to hide my red eyes from the people who were attending mass and waiting outside the confessional box.  I thought then that Father must've thought that I was in such need of peace that he had to give me some comfort with his additional blessing of "Peace be with you."

"May mga tao nabubuhay in luxury or luho at dahil dito meron mga tao na hindi sapat ang pangangailangan.", is one of the messages that I got from today's mass.  "Luxury" - isn't this something that many of us esteem for?  To live a life of luxury.  But to hear that its Filipino translation is "Luho" brings the word luxury into a different light.  "Luho" means to have more than enough, to go overboard, to have too much - a sin, in short, like greed and gluttony.  I read an article in today's paper which mentioned the word "luxury" twice.

"Sapat" or Father's english translation of "simple".  "Let us live simply, so that others may simply live", is one of the quotes I've read often and have written in my facebook status and a quote that I try to live by but do find hard to comply many times.  "Sapat", or just enough.  Just enough.  The basics, nothing more.  Like it's okay to have a nice pair of shoes, a comfortable pair, then of course, we have to have another to suit an outfit, and then of course, the bag won't match either...  Then the list of needs or wants just goes on and on.