Saturday, 22 July 2017

Iloilo City Hates Smoking!

Yes, this is what I love. A city that has balls!

I hate it when someone's cigarette smoke wafts into my territory. I had asthma, and if you saw me having an asthma attack when I was a kid, you would have thought I'd never survive. Chasing your breath EVERY SECOND with everything you had was like breathing your last. 

Although my asthma attacks were mostly caused by pollens and some strenuous activities at school, some asthma patients react violently when they inhale some second-hand cigarette smoke usually from an inconsiderate smoker nearby. When this happens, you could give him a stare; sometimes you can fan yourself while looking towards his direction. Most of the time, these would work.

But these tricks aren't needed anymore if one is in Iloilo City, a charming historic city in the middle part of the Philippines. Why? Because Iloilo City bans smoking in public! 

When I arrived at Iloilo City's pier last month, I took a cab and the driver joked that the only place one could probably smoke was at home. You can no longer smoke in the streets or any public place.

For asthma patients and people with respiratory problems, this smoking ban is good as they no longer fear walking around and not being ambushed by second-hand smoke. But for tourists and restaurant goers who smoke, this could probably be a deterrent for them to go out and have fun while smoking.

What do you think?  

Smoking is hazardous to your health, remember?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

One Of The Philippines' Yummiest: El Ideal's Fresh Lumpia!

Do you know it's always a torture for me to write about food, especially when it's midnight and I'm too lazy to take a few steps to the refrigerator? Ha-ha-ha!

I am salivating as I try to finish this blog about one of the best fresh lumpia in the Philippines! El Ideal's fresh lumpia!

El Ideal is an old family restaurant in Silay City in the Negros Island in the Philippines, and both locals and tourists travel to visit and enjoy the local delicacies of the restaurant. 

And if you ask my mom, their most popular delicacy is their fresh lumpia, and I wholeheartedly agree!

El Ideal's fresh lumpia is always the first one to get sold out! 

Made with coconut pulp, or the core of a young coconut (or ubod in Ilonggo), that is mixed with boiled egg and other local ingredients, and then rolled together in the thinnest homemade wrap, the lumpia gives off a onion-ish scented filling with a crunch.

When I was a kid, I didn't appreciate this kind of wrapped delight. Back then, I only knew how to enjoy the fried lumpia variations. But I guess people and their taste change!

So, when you're in the Negros Island, or if you're landing at Silay-Bacolod International Airport, do swing by Silay City, so you'll also enjoy the yummiest fresh lumpia there is!

Now, time to enjoy fresh my dreams!


Sunday, 16 July 2017

A Philippine Delicacy: Kalamay-Hati

It's gummy and yummy!

Kalamay-hati is a Philippine delicacy made of ground glutinous rice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and a lot of stirring! Yes, it is cooked over low fire and stirred to sweet, sticky perfection!

Most people enjoy this as a snack, but I enjoy kalamay-hati as a dessert and midnight snack! Although one should be careful as it's heavy to the tummy, and you would need to drink a lot of water with this.
             (My kalamay-hati clinging on a fork)

My kalamay-hati today is, well, given (again!). And thanks to a kind tita, I'll be enjoying it while everyone in the neighborhood is soundly sleeping tonight! :-)

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A Philippine Delicacy: Alupe!

Unwrapping an 'alupe' is like unwrapping memories of childhood. And biting a slice of an 'alupe' is like reliving it!
            (My childhood memories and alupe!)

Alupe is a popular delicacy in the Negros Island in the Philippines. Cassava is grated and pressed to extract the water in it. The grated cassava is then mixed with coconut milk, condensed milk, and sugar. Chunks of cheese and strips of coconut meat are added to make the flavor more interesting. The mixture is then wrapped in banana leaf in a rectangular shape, tied with threads, and then steamed until cooked!

On ordinary days if you crave for alupe, you can just roam the town's market and get your alupe from the delicacy corner. But the flavor and quality may just taste ordinary and very commercial.

But on special occasions, alupe is prepared without worrying about the cost of the ingredients. Since all of these are readily available and abundant in the islands, they won't be as expensive as they are in Manila.

But my stash of alupe was especially made for me! Thanks to the helpful neighbors who know how to make these!
           (I am about to relive my childhood!)

Although that day, cassava was sold out at the local market, a friend, who had a neighbor with cassava plants in her backyard, asked to buy all of it! For only two hundred pesos, or about US$4! And it's the main ingredient!

That's why we had a few kilos of raw cassava to turn into yummy alupe! My own stash of alupe made especially for me!

So, if you know how to make your own alupe, you can enjoy your own stash as well! But if you don't, I hope you're as lucky as I am to have neighbors willing to make you some so you can enjoy alupe and relive the memories of your bite at a time!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Philippine Snacks: Negros Island's But-ong

In the Negros Island in the middle part of the Philippines, we call it but-ong, , a delicacy made of sticky rice that is wrapped in banana leaf in conical shapes then cooked in coconut milk.

Its taste has a ginger flavor because small pieces of ginger are cooked with it, giving it that distinct local signature.
                  (Sticky rice being cooked in 
               coconut milk with other ingredients)
                      (Packed in a conical shape)

Cooking 'but-ong' is in itself an artform. Funneling the semi-cooked sticky rice into the banana leaf, which is then shaped into a cone and tied at the top with a thread.

This is what I love about local delicacies: they are environment-friendly! I guess, even before the Westerners set foot in the Philippine archipelago, we were already conscious about the environment. We used biodegradables and only consumed what we needed.

Then the Westerners came and introduced, well, the end of the world. Ha-ha-ha!

(Freshly cooked but-ong; 
still warm and smelling good)

I am not sure if the 'suman' delicacy from Luzon (northern part of the Philippines) is the same as 'but-ong'. The common ingredient among the two is the sticky rice and coconut milk. But I guess the difference lies in the presentation and the ginger flavor.  

The common 'suman' is usually wrapped flat for an easy packing. But-ong, on the otherhand, is given a artful form. 

                         (All mine to enjoy!)

(But-ong alongside the best puto in the Philippines)

But whether you call it suman or I call it but-ong, I am thankful to the neighbors who made these breakfast delights from scratch. Yes, it's best eaten for breakfast with hot table tsokolate or fresh mangoes. It's heavy to the tummy and best enjoyed while still warm.

Now, who wants to join me?

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Philippine Snacks: Pilit Nga Turon!

The Philippine delicacy 'turon' is a popular snack among pinoys. Thinly sliced bananas sprinkled with brown sugar are placed inside the spring roll wrapper à la The Mummy, and then deep fried with more brown sugar. During the jackfruit season, slices of jackfruit, or langka, are wrapped with the bananas to add flavor.

But one morning, as I craved for some turon for merienda, I was surprised that the vendor had another turon variety, other than the usual banana turon

She offered me pilit nga turon

'Pilit' means sticky rice in Hiligaynon, and instead of the sweet banana inside the turon, she put in sticky rice! How creative!

On each bite, the bland taste and sticky texture of the filling complimented the sweet, crunchy wrap of the fried turon!

                   (Bananacue on one tray and 
                       pilit turon on the other)

So, does your neighborhood turon vendor have the turon nga pilit, too?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Wonder Woman

In the closing credits of Wonder Woman, the film thanks Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman of the 1970s. 

Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the TV series, had the most beautiful face that ever graced the 70's television. She also probably had the tiniest waist line, too. Here's Lynda Carter's official Facebook page where you can see how gorgeous the 1970's Wonder Woman was. 

But this time, in 2017, Wonder Woman twirls out from television and into the theaters, and along with its millions of fans, I was impressed as well!

The movie began by telling the story on how Themyscira, or Paradise Island, Wonder Woman's home, and the amazon population came about. And as it turned out, just like Perseus from Clash of the Titans, Diana is also Zeus' kid from a human mother, which made me ask, 'Are there other demigods living among us who resulted from Zeus' habit of sleeping around?' Hmm.

Going back to Wonder Woman.

She's now played by Gal Gadot, who's tall and got black hair as well. But compared to Lynda Carter's Diana who was charming and was relegated to secretary work, Gal Gadot's seemed more aggressive and outspoken, a very 21st century woman who wasn't going to be pushed around by Chris Pine or any other male chauvinist. 

But the big difference this time is the action scenes, stunts and effects. This was more enjoyable compared to the TV series, as this one is made during the time when we have better technology to create the fantasy, and a bigger budget to realize the imaginary!

And wasn't there any other actor who could play Steve Trevor? Was Chris Pine the only one who auditioned? I was expecting a fresher face.

And as to the final battle between Wonder Woman and Ares, I was a bit disappointed. I have seen those laser-like beams of fire power before. It would have been more exciting if Wonder Woman just wrestled with Ares in a hand-to-hand combat: a battle of the sexes of sorts! 

In Man of Steel movie, Superman and General Zod practically destroyed the whole downtown Metropolis by slamming each other into buildings. But if DC Comics was into body slamming, why not raise the level and had the whole final battle on that German airport à la WWE?

Just like most moviegoers this week, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is more entertaining and more fun than Tom Cruise's The Mummy

And if you're a Lynda Carter fan, you'll also like Gal Gadot, her new costume, her stand against gender discrimination, and her family of highly skilled amazons and their home, Themyscira, which could probably use a resort with all of its white sand beaches!