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Showing posts from March, 2008

The Graduate

The graduation ceremony started at 1:30 p.m. but we didn't get there till 4 p.m. That was on purpose because our own graduate would not be called until 5:30 p.m. Think how long the poor graduates were seated under the searing afternoon sun just for that moment when their name is called and they could go up the stage to receive their diploma case (diplomas will be handed out in a few weeks). Over a thousand graduates waited for confirmation that they had indeed successfully completed university requirements. Our very own Barbie graduated with a degree in nursing. She also received a Special Award for academic excellence. We left the university about 7:30 p.m. after taking memorable photos of the event. The proud Mom took us to MO2 where we celebrated in a private videoke room. We toasted the graduate with strawberry margaritas and mango shake. Dinner spread included sizzling tangigue, boneless bangus, cordon bleu and nachos. How novel to celebrate in a videoke room where we coul…

Going Private in Boracay

Finding the perfect accommodation at the hottest beach destination in the Philippines and perhaps Asia can be a bit tricky. There are native huts, five star hotels, Mediterranean inspired lodgings, boarding houses and if you’re lucky as I was, a room in a private home.

I’ve written before about Filipino hospitality and how easily I’ve made friends with them during my travels around the world. In Boracay, I was once again reminded how generous and welcoming Filipinos are.

My friends had invited me to Boracay for a long weekend through the first couple days of Holy Week. I was excited because I wanted to get away and see more of the island. My first visit to Boracay was on a day trip and we spent most of our time walking along White Beach. I was captivated by the colors of the sea and the missing crowds. It must have been off season then.

When we arrived at the home of my friends’ friends in the neighborhood of Station 1, I was entranced by the tropical landscape, the tree house, the nipa …

When it Blooms

Photos and layout by Rosario Charie Albar

The Impatient Gardener

It’s a special privilege to have a garden. When I wake up in the morning, I stand by the French doors to see the flowers blooming, the trees swaying in the sea breeze, and more banana trees sprouting though the old mama banana has not yet borne any fruit.

I just planted several ti plants this week to give more color to my elongated yard and hide the ugly cement fence. When I first paid attention to these plants in Bali, I thought how beautiful it would look to have a profusion of them. They grow tall and the crimson leaves are eye catching. I’ll need at least two dozen of these to cover the walls.

My garden is still evolving. I am hoping to bring the lush landscape of inland Capiz and Bohol into my home. But some plants are a little difficult to find like the Madagascar palm tree. So far I have a few young palms. They take a long time to reach six or seven feet but if I start cultivating them now, I’ll enjoy seeing them reach their maximum height.

On the contrary, it’s easy for bougainvi…

Once upon a summer's day

Once upon a summer’s day, I walked along the beach under a big, green umbrella with the name of a local bank emblazoned in gold across its face. I was dripping wet, the kind I abhor the most when my skin feels so sticky and shiny, I can only hope no one I know will stop and chat with me in my most vulnerable state. Any foreigner would laugh at the sight of me. No one uses an umbrella on the beach unless it’s one of those resort beach umbrellas that do not walk. But it’s scorching hot, a normal summer’s day.

These days I’ve been using my designer look-alike, plaid umbrella that can barely keep me dry, what with its flimsy metal bones that break at the slightest provocation. It’s been raining everyday since February. I wake up in the morning to the sound of howling winds and heavy surf. The skies are consistently a threatening grey. The ground is muddy and when I walk up and down the long driveway, my flip flops collect the mud. It sticks like glue and I feel laden with weight that I…

Videoke Queen

Whenever I've joined friends for a videoke evening, I've been surprised at how well they can sing. But I shouldn't be surprised in a country of singers. Singing is a great Philippine pastime. In church, I feel inspired by the beautiful songs rendered by the Sunday choir. On TV I've watched children sing like professionals. And at any party, the whole family sings while reading the lyrics on the TV screen.

But I'm surprised by my videoke friends because I've never heard them sing when I knew them in grade school. Now when they grab that mike, I hear Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or Andy Williams.

After each song a score comes up on screen to show how well the singer did. And my friends usually get a score of 97 and up. One of my earliest scores was 76. I was so humiliated.

I only knew one song, Girl from Ipanema, when I started going out with friends. And I was afraid to sing in front of confident men who would unexpectedly say, "Haaa" at str…

Let's Eat - Philippine Style

There is no simple meal in the Philippines. Any invitation to lunch or dinner entails fasting at least 24 hours beforehand. Every meal is a feast. Among the variety of dishes served are the staple lechon, prawns, fresh fish, crabs, assorted noodle dishes including spaghetti (the local version has a sweet taste), pork barbeque, and my favorite, scallops in a shell. Who needs dessert after such a feast?

Iloilo
Emilion - at the Grande Dame Hotel offers Japanese buffet nightly except Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays when they serve an international buffet. So much to eat for an incredibly low price. Smallville - is a row of restaurants, bars and cybercafes. We love the Thai restaurant for great food and ambience.

Breakthrough and Tatoys - Getting rave reviews. Breakthrough is on the beach and offers seafood. Tatoys is famous for its tasty grilled chicken.
Cebu
Cafe Laguna at Ayala Center. Their lumpia ubud is as good as it looks and the sotanghon is excellent. Minimalist decor and spacious dining…

When a Papaya is Not a Fruit!

I'm happy to see the 5 papaya trees in my garden growing fast but I have not yet enjoyed a single papaya. In time I'm sure there will be plenty to eat.

These last few months I've been interested in a different kind of papaya. This is the papaya dance that I've seen on local television. It's in the game show, Game ka na ba? It seems that when a contestant makes it to the final round, he/she must first do the papaya. I've followed this show religiously just to see the papaya dance. But to date I can't seem to get the movements down.

It starts with rolling both hands above the right knee, then the left. The next move is to raise both hands and roll them above the head and then down to the waist level. The next step is to wave both hands upward while the hips sway in the direction of the hands. This is where I get lost. But I'll work on it. When I've got it, the show's host can finally say, "Yeah, Baby!".

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