Gana Vida’s Bangus Pâté

I got 3 jars of bangus pate from my friends two weeks ago.  I have been nagging them relentlessly on Facebook after learning about this product. Of course, they know why I have been so interested in the product. Lea Salonga loves it!

Lea Salonga has a weekly column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer called Backstory.  In her April 13, 2011 article, she wrote

“One seafood company talks about its sustainable practice by giving employment opportunities to poor people and educating them on the business. I feel this is something special. Plus, the pâté is really good.”

This sounded like the organization that 3 of my friends are a part of. I shared the link on Facebook and tagged my friend to ask if she was the one Lea talked to. To which my friend replied, “Yes!”. Incidentally, Lea Salonga is one of UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) goodwill ambassadors.

Lea even replied to my tweet about it:

After weeks of nagging, I finally got to taste the pâté.  Delicious. My friend has a degree in Food Technology from the University of the Philippines and her husband has a degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the same university. Both are part of the same organization.  Thus, we know that the product was developed by people who know what they are doing.

One test to determine if the product is safe is to check the ingredients. The ingredients used in their products are all natural (and easy to pronounce). The pâté has three flavors: Asian, Pinoy and Mediterranean. Each flavor has three variants: Regular, Chili, Lightly Salted. All in all, you have 9 choices.  If you look at the labels,  there are no chemical preservatives added.

Asian Style: with roasted nuts.

Pinoy Style: Malunggay is added!

Mediterranean: with eggplant

When my friend gave me my stash, I was told that the shelf life is 1 year. Once opened, you may keep it in the fridge and it will last more than a year.  Partly right. Nothing lasts in my fridge for more than year. My stomach takes over. In fact, I have no more pâté. 🙁  I have consumed them all. I did not even put it on a cracker and bread. I took a small spoon, scoop the pâté from the jar and off to my mouth it went. LOL!

What is most impressive about this product is that the organization is helping fisherfolks and farmers practice sustainable fishing and farming methods. In fact, when my friend brought me the pâté, he just came from a barrio near my city to educate farmers on cassava farming.

To know more about their organization, click here.

To get updates of their products, “Like” their Facebook page here. You can also shop for their products on this site.

 

Samantha Sotto’s “Before Ever After”

I first heard of Samantha Sotto from Chuvaness. Her story is inspiring. She is a mom who had three hours to spare while waiting for her son’s dismissal from school. In those three hours, she kept herself busy by writing a book. In the coffee shop, she conjured up stories with her vivid imagination by drawing inspiration from her travels. Her path to becoming a published writer sounded like a story of another favorite author.  Thus, it further piqued my interest but because I live in city with no decent bookstore, buying the book was not in my to-do list for the moment.

That was July 25, 2011. As I write this post, it is August 8, 2011 and I finished reading the book yesterday. I never thought I’d get my copy this soon. The book was released in August 2, 2011. When I started following Samantha Sotto on Twitter, I learned that there is a kindle version of the book. I did not think twice in downloading it. I got Amazon credits and I am amazed how easy it is to download. I do not have the Kindle device but there is a “Kindle for PC” application from Amazon that can be downloaded for free.

Tweeting Samantha

Like what I have experienced before, Twitter helps me connect with people, including authors I am interested in. When Samantha’s tweets showed up in my timeline before, I just read them like any other tweet- read and move to the next. It did not catch my fancy until Melissa Senate’s name was mentioned. That name sounds familiar. I think I have read her book before. A quick Google search told me that I did read her ‘See Jane Date’ book which was made into a TV movie starring Holly Marie Combs. I made a quick tweet about it and I got replies!!

Melissa Senate replied, too! This is just awesome!

Oh, Melissa has other books written after “See Jane Date”.  I must get copies of them.

Samantha sent me a link on Amazon where Melissa wrote her thoughts on “Before Ever After”. (Click this link if you want to read what she wrote. Buy the book, too!)

It was this tweet that got me to thinking that if it is on Amazon.com, there might be a Kindle version of this book. I need not wait before I’m in Manila in September! I have installed the Kindle-for-PC application and downloaded some free books from Amazon before.  And I still have Amazon credits so I quickly bought the kindle version of “Before Ever After”.  I am amazed how quick the process was. With a few clicks and less than 10 seconds later, the book is already in my Kindle application.

See my books list in case you might be interested in reading some of them. (Note: Ilustrado is not a free book. I bought that, too!)

I was too happy with my purchase that I tweeted:

Samantha was gracious with her replies. What a nice person!

And she’s funny, too!

Oh, I am sooo getting my post-it signed!

I love all the tweeting that I was so tempted to tweet her as I read the book. I controlled myself from doing such so as not to spoil the story to those who have not read the book yet. Like me, Frances Sales (editor of OK! Magazine in the Philippines) also had a lot of questions for Samantha. So I tweeted that I am writing down all my questions so I can post it in this blog once I am done with the book.  Samantha replied:

There’s nothing to be scared of, Ms. Sotto.

The Preview

Too bad I did not know that she had a blog before she became this big. I would have loved to be part of her campers. She had a blog which chronicled her journey to becoming an internationally-published writer.  It also showed snippets of her writing process.  That said, it is never too late to become a camper.  Her website is up and she updates her blog. When I have the time, I will retrace her steps in this wonderful writing journey.

Here are some of teasers to the book:

Baked eggs played an important part of the story.

The virtual tour of the book:

Boracay, Philippines

And to top all these:

You can read the first 30 pages of the book.

Click to read.

When she shared the excerpt, I already finished reading the book. I thought it was the excerpt for her 2nd book!  Haha Fan-girl mode!

My review (There might be spoilers. You have been warned.)

I posted my review on Amazon.

Read the other reviews here.

Since I tweeted Samantha that I created a document  for all my questions, I feel compelled to create a substantial review with coherent sentences which explore the book a lot more than what I have written on Amazon. I can’t. Words escape me.  So just allow me to just post the contents of that document.

—————Start of Document——————————-

1. How do you know all these places? That graveyard in France was not a regular tourist destination.
-Then, I found your old blog. You’ve been traveling a lot.
2.. Wow. Red roses =‘I love you.’ Pink carnations say ‘I’ll never forget you.’ And purple hyacinths, well, they say ‘please forgive me.’ How do think of these things? Nice touch on the the crumpled purple hyacinths.
3. Thank you for including the Philippines in your book!
4. I like the line: “Guilt left a fishy aftertaste.” Never heard nor read that line anywhere.
5. Where did you research all this “historical” stuff? Samantha, are you some kind of the history buff? You have an encyclopaedic knowledge. Historical is in quotation marks because I am too lazy to verify the itty-bitty details of the stories if they had parallel accounts in world history.
6. The vinegar and alum thing. Amazing. I might try that one day

If this was a real book (tangible, i mean, as opposed to a kindle version), I would have finished the book in one sitting. I bought a kindle version because I wanted to read the book immediately. However, I do not own a kindle, laptop or any portable devices that will  allow me to read the book while lying on the bed- the most comfiest position for reading. I own a desktop and had to sit upright staring at the computer screen. Add to that the distractions of twitter, facebook and tv shows. (I just start watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and it is a very engaging series. ) As much I would like to finish the book, my eyes can’t. It is good that the book is composed of different mini-stories meld together by a group tour which is a flashback. It is a series of flashbacks within a flashback. The mini-stories intricately woven to complete a puzzle. The book cover reflects such theme. It is a book cover in a book cover!

Photo credit: Not mine. This is a screencapture of the book cover on the Kindle application.

It is amazing how she conjured up all these stories. She has a way with words.They sound to like lullabies that sweetly lulls me to dreamland.

Back to Q1: I checked your new site. I now understand your vast knowledge on Europe.

—————End of Document——————————-

Haha! I am such a lazy blogger.

I asked Samantha another question and she replied:

That is something I should think about. Hmmm. ..who would I like to play Max and Shelley in a movie? This deserves another blog post.

You may get yourself an awesome Kindle!

Buy Samantha Sotto’s book here:

June 12, 2011- 113th Philippine Independence Day

Last June, my aunt and I went on a trip to Hong Kong. We flew from Butuan to Manila on June 12. Our flight to Hong Kong was on June 13 around 8AM. We have the afternoon of June 12 to spare. What better way to spend than to visit Luneta. It was Independence day after all.

Luneta is the park in Manila where a monument of the Philippine's national hero, Jose Rizal, stands. Almost every town in the Philippines has a Rizal park. Luneta is the mother of all Rizal parks. Luneta was formerly known as Bagumbayan. It is where Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards through firing squad.

I have never been to Luneta. My mother used to tell as a child that the Jose Rizal monument has guards. I remember my mother saying, “Why do they have to guard him when he is already dead? It was only just a statue. It is not like they (the Spaniards) can kill him again.”  I was amused at her story.  I was doing my grade one project on heroes when she told me this. (Papa recorded our conversations on a cassette tape. One day I will convert it to digital format. )  My father, on the other hand, had some riddle in Bisaya (or Ilonggo?) referring to Rizal: “Hantungtung habato, hapilit ha posporo, ha uwanan ha initan, dili hahilantan“. Roughly translated: ‘ On top of the rock, glued on the match. Rain or shine, he will never get sick.”

Jose Rizal: On top of a rock (concrete) and on a match

 LUGGAGE & MORE

Because our flight is on 8am the next day, I already told my aunt beforehand that we are going to sleep at the airport. She needed no convincing because my cousin’s house is in Fairview and my aunt knew how far is that place from NAIA Terminal 3. While I was planning for the trip, my only problem is where to leave of our luggage. I can carry my backpack but I do not think my 65-year-old aunt would want to carry her bag while we stroll Luneta. Good thing I came across an article about Luggage & More. It is a luggage storage facility in NAIA terminal 3. For P150, you can leave your small bag for 3 hours; P300 for more than 3 hours up to a day. Large bags have different rates . The facility is tucked in the right wing of the arrival area. Ask an airport personnel for directions. Luggage & More opens at 6am and closes at 11pm. If you have a plane to catch early in the morning and you leave your bags there, make sure to pick them up before they close.

NAIA Loop and LRT

The commuter in me already search the cheapest way to reach Luneta. The airport taxi’s flag down rate is P70. So, that was not an option for the budget travelers like us. Good thing there is the NAIA Loop. It plies from NAIA3 to Pasay Rotunda for P20 per person. Waiting time is longer though. I think we stood in line for 30 minutes. My aunt had some crackers and candies so the wait did not seem long. Besides, we were busy chatting. It was a short trip to Pasay Rotunda. All I knew was that we passed Baclaran area. NAIA loop dropped us at the terminal near Taft MRT station. There is a McDonald’s and Chowking in that area so we picked the latter for lunch. I already researched beforehand the nearest LRT station to Luneta which is the UN Ave station. I already checked google maps and saw that I only need to cross a few streets to get to Luneta.


The Taft MRT station connects to the LRT station. We just had to follow the signs. The fare was P15 per person. When added, our fare from NAIA3 to Luneta was P70 -a steal considering the flag down rate for an airport taxi was P70. I am giving myself a virtual pat on the back.

One probinsiyana (from the province) booboo though: A man standing beside me on the LRT asked me for direction. Uh-oh. I was not prepared how to react. I knew he was from the province like me. He spoke to me in Tagalog with a hint of Bisaya (like me!). Plus, he was carrying a luggage. He asked, while we were approaching the Gil Puyat Station, “Dito ba Buendia?” (Is this Buendia?) . I stared at my ticket. There is no Buendia in the route. So I answered, “Gil Puyat, po“. The man did not get off on that station but he quickly realized his mistake and hurriedly left the train when we reach the next station- before I can say sorry. I should have said, “I don’t know” so he can ask other passengers. Gil Puyat Avenue is formerly named Buendia Avenue. Oops.

LUNETA

The map was right. Luneta was a few steps away from the LRT station. Since it was Independence Day and a Sunday, there were a lot of people in the park. I see families spreading a mat and having a picnic in the park. Mental note: I should do that one in my lifetime.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines showed their wares (hehe power?). I saw people posing for a picture holding some kind of weapon. There were long lines of kids waiting for their free ride in an armored personnel carrier. Cameras clicked on people in different poses in different areas of the military tank. Some posed with the soldiers. If not for the number of people, I would have had my picture taken there, too.

Tanque de Guerra

What to see in Luneta?

There is the relief map of the Philippines commissioned by Ferdinand Marcos.

Information on the Relief Map

I was trying to locate Mindanao. It is somewhere there.

There is a very imposing statue of Lapu-Lapu (the Filipino who killed Magellan in Mactan). While I was looking at the statue, I was thinking, “Lapu-lapu or Dagohoy?” I know. My ignorance showed. I got confused why Lapu-lapu was given a prominent place in the park. When you think about it, Lapu-Lapu is the first Philippine hero. He fought against Spanish invasion. (Dagohoy led the longest revolt against the Spaniards.) He deserved to be immortalized in stone! ( or is that bronze?)

Lapu-lapu

There are beautiful, old buildings near the park. The National Museum is near the park. This is the Department of Tourism Building.

Department of Tourism

The highlight of being in Luneta is to visit the Rizal Monument. FAIL! My senior citizen companion got tired of all the walking. The weather was warm and sunny. It would have been a perfect time for strolling. There are trees for shade. I even wanted to go Intramuros. As we walked towards the road that will lead to Intramuros, my aunt hesitated. The roads were empty and she was afraid we will get mugged or something. I was telling her, ” Why should we be afraid? This is the Philippines. Our country. You should be afraid tomorrow. We’re going to Hong Kong.” It has been my wish to visit Intramuros but my travel companions before were not as thrilled as I was in visiting there. Neither was my aunt. Hmp! Maybe I should start traveling alone.

Not yet Rizal, not yet. I will visit you one day.

The Mall of Asia

Because of the heat, my aunt wanted to go the nearest mall. After a train and a jeepney ride, we arrived at the Mall of Asia. I told her we should watch a movie. We checked what is showing and none caught her fancy. I wanted to try any 3-D movie but she doesn’t. So, we just roam around the mall and passed by an open area. I was curious so we checked it out. It is the Manila bay!

The Manila bay from MOA

I was thinking, “This is a good time to experience the sunset!” I wanted to wait for it but my aunt was too tired and wanted to sit down. She wanted to be in an air-conditioned area.

Tired feet.

We were sitting on a bench where people gathered. My aunt dozed off while I watched people go about their business. There was Filipino music in the background so I sang along to the ones I knew. When she woke up, we decide to find a place to eat. As we went near to an entertainment area where the music came from, we found out there was a free concert featuring Kuh Ledesma. We looked for a good vantage point and enjoyed the free concert. Henry Sy was there. He was on his wheelchair looking down from the second floor. I did not see his face but I saw the wheelchair as Kuh acknowledged his presence. It did not look like he had many bodyguards. He was watching like regular people.

Nice concert. Thanks, Kuh!

After we had dinner at Jollibee (Filipino fastfood chain for Independence day), we rode the jeep to the MRT station. I made a mistake of using the pedestrian walkway instead of the LRT station to cross the busy EDSA traffic. It was scary. We were on this metal platform traversing over a very busy highway (EDSA). We could see vehicles in moving fast underneath us. I could feel the walkway vibrating as I took a step. I kept praying that the walkway will not collapse. Thankfully, we reached the NAIA Loop station in one piece.

Another booboo: I thought the drop off point of the bus in the airport is the same place where we took the bus. While quite a number of people got off in the middle of the arrival area where the bus stopped, we stayed on our seats thinking we should stop near the area where we took our exit because the Luggage&More is near that area. There would be less walking for the senior citizen. I saw the confused look of the driver when I asked to be dropped there. As we reach the door where we exited, I realized my mistake. There is only one entrance. The door we used to exit was for exit only. We walked (long walk) again towards the only entrance (where the bus stopped first).

We gathered our luggage and found a good spot were we could spend the night. I thought sleeping at the airport was my novel idea.  Nope, there were a lot of people who found a good spot for themselves. A lot of them were sleeping soundly already.

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a favorite dish in the house. Simple, healthy and delicious.  We use fresh fruits in our fruit salad plus evaporated milk and sugar.  There is no exact recipe. We just use fruits available in the market. Our fruit salad is usually a combination of any of these fruits- papaya, mango, apple, banana and avocado.

Yes, avocado is a fruit in my country. It is an ingredient in dessert recipes. We have avocado ice cream and avocado shake.

On avocado: My father used to tell me that the nutritional content of the avocado is equivalent to 8 eggs. He told me that my mother who is hypertensive should avoid eating avocado. We used to believe that until we heard that the avocado helps increase the good cholesterol which will fight the bad cholesterol.

If we want a fancier fruit salad, we add raisins and marshmallows and use condensed milk+cream instead of the evaporated milk+sugar combination. It is only recently that I like eating fruit salad.  I used to dislike eating anything mixed. I used to be a purist. I eat the fruits but when they are not combined with other fruits. Before,  when I eat fruit salad, I eat all the papayas first, then the avocado, and so on. The preparation of the fruit salad is my task in the kitchen. I like cutting the fruits into bite-size pieces. I feel like a chef because I can cut them with ease due to their soft flesh. The simple procedure ( cut+dump in bowl+add milk and sugar+mix a little+refrigerate) has become second-nature to me. Foolproof! On a regular day, there are 5 of us who share the fruit salad. We usually make just enough for one meal. Because we all like fruit salad, we tend to overeat. Some more voracious than others. The slow-eaters are at a disadvantage.  We figured we must portion out the salad instead of just putting one large bowl. Thus, we have these. If there are leftovers, we freeze them and we got ice cream the next day! Yum! Truth be told, my tummy is still heavy with the salad I ate for dinner. Therefore, I am still awake because sleeping with a full stomach is not advisable. Afraid of bangungot. Bangugot, according to my nurse relatives, is acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis. From what I gather from them, it happens when the body is on sleep-mode while the stomach continues its work in digesting the food. Before I end up in nightmares, I end the day with this prayer.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

My First Nephew

Being an only child,  the closest I get to having a niece or a nephew is through my first cousins. Although I have nieces and nephews from my father’s side of the family, I did not grow up with them. I have met 3 or 4 of them but it did not feel like I was an aunt. They live far away from me.

The first week of July this year, we welcomed a new baby in the family (mother’s side). My cousin is the father of this cute little boy. It is amazing how one little boy can make a grown man cry with joy.  Yeah, my cousin is one proud daddy and I am a proud aunt.

My First Nephew

The sight of the baby sleeping is calming. I can stare at this all day. I tried carrying him but I worry that I might squish him or drop him. I have held a baby only a few times in my life so there is that fear that I was not doing it right. I do not think I can babysit for this kid. I’ll just wait for him to grow up and I’ll be his playmate. Hopefully, I will be the cool aunt- the one with all the candies and junk food. Hey, it is not my role to discipline. I am not the parent.  I do not think my cousin is reading this blog so I am safe to declare this things.

I pray that this kid will grow up to be a fine young man.

Below is a favorite poem of mine by Rudyard Kipling. It says everything I want to say to the little boy when grows up.

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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