Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3 Filipinos Executed in China

My condolences to the families of the three Filipinos who were executed today for illegal drug violations. Despite  the government's countless efforts to halt the execution, the Chinese government still followed their laws and did not relent. I could fully understand the Chinese government for doing this, after all they have done it several times before, with British and Australian nationals.

It is but a sad reality that those who were executed really claimed that they had nothing to do with the illegal drug trade. Just like many of the Filipinos who wish to work abroad, they were in dire need of work, thus, will do whatever the recruiter says, even carry baggages with contents unknown to them. In the eyes of the Chinese government, they are criminals. But they were, indeed, victims of the real criminals who hover the Philippine streets in the guise of decent recruitment agencies.

What the Philippine government should do next is a major crackdown of drug dens in the country, find all those recruitment agencies that victimized these three Filipinos and close them down and put the owners behind bars.

As for us, we need to strengthen our law enforcement system so that we will no longer be victims of the real criminals. We put the real criminals behind bars, and yes, if possible, subject them to the same execution as what our Filipino fall guys have suffered.

Three Filipinos have died to show that China is serious in their efforts to curtail drug trafficking in their country. But the real criminals are still out there. And I'm sure, they haven't seen even the tip of the iceberg.

Kaawaawa ang mga Pilipino. Naghahanap buhay na nga, nabibiktima pa ng ganyan. Ang sakit isipin...

The General Motors Diet - Second Try

I've done this diet before and it somehow worked for me even if I cheated on one of the days. On day two, I decided to categorize peanuts as vegetable so that it could maintain my sanity. I also categorized corn as a valuable vegetable so I ate as much. :) What happened? I lost around 4.7 pounds. Good thing I maintained the loss of weight. The first three days feel strange, but it felt good afterwards because you'll feel like you cleaned up your colon. The fourth day is extremely difficult, even if I am a fan of bananas and milk. Here's the diet plan below:

GM Diet Plan

During the first seven days you must abstain from all alcohol. You must drink 10 glasses of water each day on the GM Diet
Day One All fruits except bananas. Your first day will consist of all the fruits you want. It is strongly suggested that you consume lots of melons the first day. Especially watermelon and a loupe. If you limit your fruit consumption to melons, your chances of losing three lbs. on first day are very good.

Day Two
 All vegetables. You are encouraged to eat until you are stuffed with all the raw or cooked vegetables of your choice. There is no limit on the amount or type. For your complex carbohydrate, you will start day two with a large baked potato for breakfast. You may top the potato with one pat of butter.
Day Three A mixture of fruits and vegetables of your choice. Any amount, any quantity. No bananas yet. No potatoes today.
Day Four Bananas and milk. Today you will eat as many as eight bananas and drink three glasses of milk. This will be combined with the special soup which may be eaten in limited quantities.
Day Five Today is feast day. You will eat beef and tomatoes. Eat two 10 oz. portions of lean beef. Hamburger is OK. Combine this with six whole tomatoes. On day five you must increase your water intake by one quart. This is to cleanse your system of the uric acid you will be producing.
Day Six Beef and vegetables. Today you may eat an unlimited amount of beef and vegetables. Eat to your hearts content.
Day Seven Today your food intake will consist of brown rice, fruit juices and all the vegetables you care to consume.
Tomorrow morning from the GM Diet you will be 10-17 lbs. lighter than one week ago. If you desire further weight loss, repeat the program again. You may repeat this program as often as you like, however, it is suggested that you are allowed two glasses of white wine in addition to the instructions on the program. You may substitute champagne for white wine. Under no circumstances are you to drink any other alcoholic beverages with the exception of beer which is allowed. Any liquor (bourbon,vodka, rum) is forbidden.
Cream drinks are especially forbidden on the GM Diet. You may have an occasional cordial such as creme de menthe or schnapps, but you must always limit yourself to two drinks.
If you wine, drink only wine that day. If you have beer, drink only beer that day, etc. Alcohol adds empty calories to your diet. However, after the first week on the GM Diet it will help your digestion and settle your stomach.

GM Wonder Soup

The following soup is intended as a supplement to your GM Diet. It can be eaten any time of the day in virtually unlimited quantities. You are encouraged to consume large quantities of this soup.
28 oz, Water, 6 Large Onions, 2 Green Peppers, Whole Tomatoes (fresh or canned), 1 Head Cabbage, 1 Bunch Celery, 4 Envelopes Lipton Onion Soup Mix, Herbs and Flavoring as desired.

GM Diet Additional Notes

Vegetables as may be taken in the form of a salad if desired. No dressing except malt, white or wine vinegar, squeezed lemon, garlic, herbs. No more than one tea spoon of oil on the GM Diet.
You have above a recipe for the wonder soup which can be eaten in unlimited quantities. This soup is a supplement while you are on the program and it should be a pleasure to eat. Not everyone likes cabbage, green peppers, celery etc. This recipe is not inflexible. You may substitute vegetables according to your taste. You may add any vegetables you like: asparagus, peas, corn, turnips, green beans, cauliflower, etc. Try to stay away from beans (lima, pinto, kidney, etc.), however, because they tend to be high in calories even though they are very good for you.
Beverages you may consume while on the GM Diet program :
1. Water (flavored with lemon/lime if desired).
2. Club Soda is OK.
3. Black Coffee. No cream or cream substitute. No sugar or sweetness.
4. Black Tea = Herb or Leaf.
5. Absolutely nothing else except the fruit juices which are part of day seven. No fruit juices before day seven.

How and Why the GM Diet Works

Day One – You are preparing your system for the upcoming program. Your only source of nutrition is fresh or canned fruits. Fruits are nature’s perfect food. They provide everything you could possibly want to sustain life except total balance and variety.
Day Two – Starts with a fix of complex carbohydrates coupled with an oil dose. This is taken in the morning for energy and balance. The rest of day two consists of vegetables which are virtually calorie free and provide essential nutrients and fibre.
Day Three – Eliminates the potato because you get your carbohydrates from the fruits. You system is now prepared to start burning excess pounds. You will still have cravings which should start to diminish by day four.
Day Four – Bananas, milk and soup sound the strangest and least desirable. You’re in for a surprise. You probably will not eat all the bananas allowed. But they are there for the potassium you have lost and the sodium you may have missed the past three days. You will notice a definite loss of desire for sweets. You will be surprised how easy this day will go.
Day Five – Beef and tomatoes. The beef is for iron and proteins, the tomatoes are for digestion and fibre. Lots and lots of water purifies your system. You should notice colorless urine today. Your allowance calls for the equivalent of five “quarter ponders”. Do not feel you have to eat all this beef. You must eat the six tomatoes.
Day Six – Similar to day five, Iron and proteins from beef, Vitamins and fibre from vegetables. By now your system is in a total weight loss inclination. There should be a noticeable difference in the way you look today, compared to day one.
Day Seven - Finished off the program like a good cigar used to finish off Victorian meals, except much healthier. You have your system under control and it should thank you for the flushing and cleaning you just gave it.

I sure hope I get better results this time. This time I have my personal nutritionist, my wife. :) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Philam Lifer for Life. :)

Ten things I'm going to miss as a Philam Lifer:

10. Beautiful free concerts with the country's best choral groups every first week of December
9. Flurry of calls coming from agents and clients asking about features of a product
8. Logging in in the morning. Logging out during lunch. Logging in in the afternoon. Ooops, I missed! Override!
7. Endorsement that comes with a free tumbler!
6. Hosting jobs!!! I felt very much like a pro! Thanks for the confidence boost!
5. Dell's! no matter how they change the name of the menu, it feels and tastes quite the same. :)
4. Mang Ben and his famous fruit stand
3. The long lines in the ATM machine during paydays. Just when you think it's your turn, OFFLINE!
2. Running along Roxas Boulevard's Baywalk
1. My brothers and sisters in this happy family called Philam Life...

Once a Philam Lifer, always a Philam Lifer. If given a chance, I will surely come back.

Spring is Here!

People from in and around Washington DC look forward to spring time, a season when flowers bloom the prettiest. One of the most talked about festivals in the US held during springtime is in DC: The Cherry Blossom festival.

The festival takes place from the last week of March up to the first week of April. This is when the cherry trees from the sides of the Potomac River, or what they call the Tidal Basin, bloom altogether, a beautiful sight to see for residents and tourists. The Cherry Blossom festival in DC is the closest thing to the original festival in Japan, from where the Cherry Blossom festival originated.

Since last week, the streets of DC near the Tidal Basin are clogged in traffic, people walk from faraway parking areas just to witness the cherry trees bloom. We went to the festival last weekend, and even if the trees have not fully bloomed yet, it was already a beautiful sight. I'll try to go back to when the cherry trees have fully bloomed to see how it looks like. :)

Here are some pictures: 
(taken using Canon Powershot A590is)

This year, spring time is already here, but the winter temperature hasn't left! Temperature dropped from a high of 70 degrees during the 3rd week of February to 35-40 degrees in the 2nd week of March. Just when you thought you're back to normal clothing after your annual spring cleaning, you'll then wake up to find out you need to dig up your thick jackets in order to see the cherries bloom! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Survived! --Bale Dutung's Porky Treats - 8 January 2011

Before leaving for the US, Bubbles and I were fortunate to have been able to travel to a few places, including Boracay. One of the places we were lucky to have been given time was Bale Dutung in Angeles, Pampanga, home of the world-famous Filipino architect-turned-chef Claude Tayag.

Bale Dutung, whose name is Kapampangang for "Wooden House," is a famous Filipino restaurant in Pampanga. This is by-reservation basis only, so you need to call up Claude or Mary Ann Tayag to be able to eat here.

Bale Dutung was made more famous by Anthony Bourdain, who feature Claude Tayag, Pampanga, and this restaurant in his show "No Reservations." Thanks to Petite and Concep's rave reviews of the place when they ate here last year, we decided to spend one of the post-wedding weekends with Bubbles' and my family here at Bale Dutung. 

Bale Dutung has a very "homey," warm and cozy atmosphere. It feels like you're just in your very own dining table, eating with your beloved relatives. This is because the hosts, Claude and Maryann makes you feel at home at their very own house! Maryann personally welcomes guests, guides them to their seats, and personally gives them the welcome drinks juice with "muscovado ice." This hands-on treatment is part of the entire package. 

There are three menu options to choose from at Bale Dutung. First is the traditional Kapampangan menu, which showcases hit Pampanga delicacies like the sisig and kare-kare. Another is the Anthony Bourdain menu, where the guests get to experience the Filipino dishes that were eaten by Anthony Bourdain when Claude hosted him at Bale. The third and our chosen menu, is the tasty, porky, cholesterol-packed 5-ways Lechon menu. Diet and health worries are put on the sidelines for this menu, as we will be placed under a flavorful, delightful, happy lineup of porky food, all meat based on the traditional national food, Pork Lechon. 

What is Pork Lechon?!

Lechon, Litson, or Lichon, however way you want it spelled, is the juicy, tasty pork evenly roasted with flame or coal, by regularly turning over the pork using a long bamboo stick and putting seasoning on the skin to give it the right crisp. Lechon is the Philippines' national food and was branded by Anthony Bourdain as the world's greatest pig. 

The Lechon menu in Bale Dutung is a serving of 5 different ways of cooking lechon. The 5-ways lechon, plus a flurry of tasty appetizers and capped with native coffee and sweet native dessert, make up the Lechon menu. 

WARNING: This is not simply a lunch treat. This is an overall dining experience. The usual time spent for a Bale Dutung dining is around 4 hours, so if you're planning a job interview or an airport pickup after eating, forget it, you might miss it. And make sure the kids that you bring are also food enthusiasts, or better yet, ask them to bring their favorite PSP game just to make sure.


I haven't taken pictures of the first-ever appetizer served to us: crackers with 3 kinds dip. Just by eating this, I am already satisfied. But of course, this is just 2% of the experience. :) 

We started off with Pako salad. Pako is an edible type of fern famous for its uniquely tasty and juicy leaves. 

Afterwards, Maryann will introduce the Lumpiang Ubod sa Oriental Sauce appetizer. She branded this as one of her favorites because given that she's not much of a vegetable eater, Claude made sure that she would eat the lumpiang ubod even if it's all veggies inside. Lumpiang ubod is fried egg roll with vegetable and bamboo shoot fillings.

Maryann then served Chicken Inasal with Talangka Rice. And that is NOT part of the main course yet, despite it having a serving of rice. After this, I am already starting to get full. 

Chicken Inasal is an original Bacolod delicacy, but of course grilled food is a universal way of preparing food, so they adapted it and paired it with a Pampango-famous Talangka Rice (Crab fat Rice). 

We have not finished digesting the Chicken Inasal yet when Maryann got back to our place and gave us a briefing of the next delicious appetizer: Hito (Catfish) wrapped in balo-balo leaf. The taste was very good! This is another veggie-filled food that I appreciated. Like Maryann, I am not a big fan of veggies myself, but these veggies made me rethink my favorites.

The last of the starters is another adapted food from our Japanese brothers and sisters. They served the Talangka sushi, sushi, with a Filipinized flavor. They topped the usual tuna sushi (rice, nori, tuna) with crab fat, and the Japanese delicacy was never the same. Whew! Appetizer lineup is over! And now, the main dishes. 

5-Ways Lechon

Note: All of these 5 dishes are made from the original roasted pig, Lechon!

#1: The Lechon Tortilla

The Five ways lechon started with the Lechon tortilla, an adaptation of the Mexican dish. The big difference from the usual tortilla is that it is stuffed with the yummy roasted pork flakes! The Lechon was made into flakes, and made a little crunchier to make it fit for the tortilla dish. 

#2: The Lechon Sinigang

Pork Sinigang has been a favorite of every Filipino home. It competes with Adobo as the all-time favorite way of cooking pork in the Philippines. I am a self-confessed fan of my wife's sinigang! What if we turn some of the Lechon meat into sinigang? The answer is for you to figure out! As for me, I have experienced the sinigang zeal, the sinigang of sinigangs in Bale Dutung. 

Sinigang is the Filipino version of the Hot and Sour soup. It is a mixture of vegetables and pork cooked in either sampaloc, kamias, or tomatoes. If the Thais have their Tom Yum Soup, we have our very own Sinigang.

#3: Lechon Skin in Liver Sauce

Pork Lechon is famous for its tasty, ultra-crispy skin. As for the 5-ways lechon, this is my favorite part, where Claude gets to cut the Lechon's skin, and people just binge away! You can already feel the crispiness of the skin just by looking at how Claude easily cuts away the skin from the Lechon. Yum! How's your nape, buddy? :) 

The liver sauce makes the skin even tastier. This is our sweet version of the American Gravy. 

#4: Inihaw na Tadyang ng Lechon with Ensaladang Talong (Grilled Spareribs with Eggplant Salsa (?!))

There's no better way to eat the Lechon's ribs but to reheat it by grilling, partner it with the healthy eggplant ensalada. The contrast in flavor gives you the emphasis of both food, which will make you want some more. By this time, I am now full, but I just couldn't stop eating. One tip in this experience is the pacing. After all, this is a 4-hour lunch. 

#5: Sisig Lechon

The original Pampanga delicacy, the Pork Sisig is also one of the many favorite Filipino delights. People would go to Pampanga just to dine in karinderyas (eateries) with Sisig. Lechon sisig is the grand finale of the 5-ways lechon. 

As mentioned by Claude in his briefing of the 5th way, Sisig originated in Pampanga, but has been adapted by many Filipino races, and often substituted one ingredient from another. The original sisig offers chopped pork ears, skin, liver and meat filled with pork brain. In the absence of pork brain in some places, some Pinoys resort to using substitutes, like egg or mayonnaise. In Bale Dutung, Claude cooks the bare sisig lechon, and  you have the choice to make it authentic by applying pork brain filling, which I did! The sisig is never the same without the pork brain, but of course, this needs to be taken moderately. Attention, 50 years old and up. :)


For dessert, Claude and Maryann served old-fashioned coffee, plus a plate of Paradiso, an original homemade dessert made of coconut, yam, egg and fresh milk. 

The 4-hour experience is capped with Claude and Maryann's tour of their house, which is located in the 2nd floor of the restaurant. Being an architect as his original profession, Claude applied his architectural expertise in designing a house that truly represents the Filipino culture. And his penchant for antique art gives his home more of the rustic atmosphere, relaxing inside out. 

Bale Dutung is truly a memorable experience for every person who gets to try it out. Anyone who loves food must try this out, not only for its good food, but because it gives our culture much more meaning, it reinvents the Filipino food character and brings it at par with the packaging of our Asian neighbors; With restaurants like Bale, we can aptly brag our hometown food, not just for its taste, but for its overall gastronomic value. 

Claude and Maryann Tayag, Mabuhay kayo! I pray that people like you who appreciate the value of Filipino food would spread around the nation, and if possible around the world. I hope that next time, a similar Bale Dutung will be put up in Cebu, Negros, Davao, Bohol, Ilocos, and many other places! 

I also hope that Filipinos put up decent-looking Filipino-delicacy stores around the world. Ahem, Virginia! 

Some photos of the 5-ways lechon survivors*: 
*All photos taken with Canon Powershot A590is

Quinito: Yummy!
The Apostol Ladies

Claude with the Lechoneros
Senior Survivor: He Gets to take home the shirt
The Ultimate Survivors
The Reyeses
The Acostas
Joaquin and Dondon

The Newlyweds with Claude
Bub and Pet with Claude and Maryann

The Duloses with Claude and Maryann
Autograph signing with Mommy Es

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Roger and Friends - They surely know how to have fun!

My brother and his good pal Paulo a.k.a. Raker and Roger and their group of teenage hilarious undergraduates are into the youtube entertainment industry! If you want a plain doze of endorphins in your system, don't hesitate to add these youthful comedic amateurs in your profile. Just wait till they get their groove and will soon be one with the likes of Moymoy Palaboy and Kuya Jobert!

Ika nga, "Kung san ka masaya, teh. Supurtahan taka." Kaya Supurtahan ko itong kapatid ko at ang tropang Roger and Friends.

Here's one of their funny antics. A spoof of Lucky Me's Nam-nam. Just by the sound of the soundtrack, it tells that you need very minimal action to spoof it. It is a spoof in itself.

Mabuhay Roger and Raker!

Subscribe at your own risk. The videos are habit-forming. :)


EDSA 25 at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. is home to thousands of books from all over the world. It is the resting place of original signed copies of statutes, laws and resolutions from the U.S. Congress, which comes from across the street, the United States Capitol. It is also believed that underneath the two buildings is a passageway connecting the two buildings. But we'll not dwell into that.

Just last month, February 23-25, our home country celebrated 25 years of the EDSA People Power revolution. The mother of all peaceful revolutions. The inspiration of countries in Europe and the Middle East. It's been 25 years. See how time flies indeed.And to commemorate this, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. did their share to celebrate our 25 years of freedom from dictatorship and authoritarianism.

One of the activities lined up was a photo exhibit at the Southeast Asian Section of the Library of Congress. The photos were taken by Scottish-Australian photojournalist Alfred Hardy, who was present during the bloodless revolution in EDSA, and was witness to how the seemingly bloody revolt would turn into a sharing of roses and rosaries. The exhibit ran for about a week.


On its opening ceremony, Ambassador Willy Gaa, in his speech before the guests of the opening of the exhibit, expressed how monumental EDSA Revolution has become not just to the Filipinos, but to many nations around the world. This is why the spirit of EDSA should never be forgotten and the facts and figures behind the bloodless revolt should forever be in the minds and hearts of everyone.

The opening program was attended not only by Filipinos, but also by Americans who were either in the Philippines when EDSA 1 erupted, or they knew people who knew people who were involved in the revolution.

At present, we are once again faced with another revolution. This is the revolution of the disgruntled Filipino. Now is the time for the administration to show what they were voted for. Clean up the ranks, straighten the government, show professionalism, revive the morale of the Filipinos. If we can do this in the next five years, then, maybe, just maybe, we can soar with our neighbors Singapore and Malaysia. Let's bring back the Tiger in our economy. Let's use the spirit of EDSA and be inspired to go the distance!

Mabuhay ang diwa ng EDSA magpakailanman!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Boracay Bliss, January 10-12, 2011

Finally, after a flurry of failed or foiled plans to take a trip to this world-famous island, I was able to step on the powdery white sand of Boracay on January 10-12, 2011. This was our wedding gift from the Apostol sisters. Thanks very much guys!

My wish of getting in Boracay before we leave for DC came true a few days before my departure! :) I really wanted to get to this island so that I can fully perform my duties of promoting the beautiful sites of the Philippines. It will be quite ironic for me to be promoting the country's most beautiful white sand beach without having experienced going there. I could even imagine the conversations if ever I get to boast the Philippines...
Me: You should try going to the Philippines. We have plenty of beautiful beaches!
Foreigner: Yeah, I've heard a bit about Boracay Island and I heard it's really beautiful!
Me: Yeah, It's really beautiful! You should go there sometime!
Foreigner: Yeah, I will. have you been there?
Me: Hey, look, dinner is served. Let's eat, shall we (silence afterwards, then I end the conversation with a smile)?

Thank goodness this scenario will no longer happen because I can now boast the Boracay experience because I have been there! :) To my Filipino friends: For the Nth time, please don't shorten Boracay's name into Bora. As the municipal government fervently reminds us in its series of stickers and posters, "BORACAY IS NOT BORA." Respecting the name is followed with respecting the place. Amen to that!

I was lucky to be billeted in Station 1, the relatively peaceful and more quiet side of Boracay. We stayed at the Sea Wind Resort. The resort was beautiful and native-looking. I loved their slogan, "Boracay as it should be." Amen and Amen!

The powdery white sand is not an exaggeration. It really is powdery! But kikay ladies, don't try to put any of the sand in your faces. But of course it's a free country. :)

Most of the time, Bubbles and I would walk towards station 2 to eat and see the beautiful sights. We were amazed to see that the tourist population on this time of the year is higher on foreign tourists than local ones.

It's good to see that hawkers and vendors have good business, and they adjust to their market. When they see foreign tourists, they shout "Sir, you want to ride the banca, go snorkeling? how about massage, do you want massage?" And when they see local tourists, they shout in native language. When we passed by one of the restaurants, a masseuse shouted at me and said "Boss, masahe gusto mo?" And when she turned to Bubbles, she also offered her, "Ma'am do you want massage ma'am?" Ouch... Key learning is that our vendors are flexible with the type of people they meet and greet. Ouch again...

One good thing about Boracay is that it is like a beachside mall, where you get the perks of a mall, while enjoying the warm sun and the beautiful waves. You can even see a branch of the overpriced slippers of All Flip-Flops in  Station 2! We ate at MaƱana for lunch and Don Vito for dinner on Day 1. We missed eating liempo at beachside so we decided to eat at Gerry's for lunch on Day 2. For dinner, we ate the great Ilonggo meal, La Paz Batchoy at Deco's in Station 3. All the places we've eaten at served great food! My favorite was Deco's original La Paz Batchoy. Solb!

Boracay is also a place for lovebirds who escape from their busy routines of work. Some couples, though, want to show to the world that they ARE couples by wearing the same piece of clothing. Kudos to couples who got the guts to were his and hers clothing! But what I don't understand is how they can wear his and hers JACKET in the hot weather of Boracay?! I must write this amazing information to Ripley's.

Good thing I was able to see Boracay in time. I just hope that when I come back, the beauty of the beach and the cleanliness of the island is restored even if there is garbage accumulated everyday. I hope that Boracay will remain to be the premiere island paradise even in the years to come.

There are still a lot of places to see in the Philippines. When I come back, my journey to the other 7,000 islands will continue.