My sister asked me to fry the luncheon meat as the kids will not eat the paksiw na isda. When the kids saw I was opening a can of Spam, they gave me an ear-to-ear grin and waited eagerly for me to finish frying. If there is anything I detest about cooking, it is frying. It's like there's a missile attack from the hot cooking oil that sends me cowering off for cover. Also, after frying, there seems to be more oil out of the pan than in it which means more time for cleaning is needed before I get my own dinner. I forgot that Spam is already oily and can be fried in its own oil. That way, I wouldn't have been under attack.
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Budbod: glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves. The process for making this is quite tedious but it's worth it. From cutting, cleaning and heating the banana leaves; selecting, hacking, grinding and pressing the coconut; cleaning, soaking and cooking the pilit or malagkit (glutinous rice); to its scooping, wrapping, tying and recooking until done... yes, it takes hours but as I said, it is worth it.

By theory, I know how it is done. But by practice... I can help. But as to actually making it myself... it's bound to be a disaster.
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Chak-chak's pix

at home

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Kids grow up so fast. The last time I saw these kids, they all seem to look so chubby. That was about 5 months ago. Now, home for the holidays, they look leaner and taller. But they are still the mischievous, naughty, playful yet sensitive kids that I know. I sometimes wonder if the next time I come to visit home, they will all look so grown up and act like grown ups - being more shy and "diplomatic" as they become more sensitive to grown-up moods. It is evident that we do need to grow up. But still, life would be more interesting if we nurture that child-like character in us that never ceases to wonder and embrace life with open arms.

This reminds me of a story I heard back in my high school sophomore year.

There were three friends who won a free Safari trip. Upon reaching Africa, the first one complained of the heat, the smell and the sight. The second took a glance, shrugged her shoulders, yawned and said, "Ok, this is Africa." The third, upon seeing Africa for the first time, exclaimed, "Ahhhh! I am finally here! I can't wait to see what is in Africa!"

Throughout their 5 day stay, the first one kept on complaining about the services, the people, the facilities and anything that came across her way. The second always looked around with an air of indifference, not minding about what was going on, not caring to know more, thinking that everything is the same and uninteresting. The third, on the other hand, was always curious to find out more about the land and its people, their ways and preferences, their music and everything else. She knew that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime offer and may not be duplicated anymore. She talked to the people, tasted their food, observed attentively the animals in their habitat, learned simple survival rules in the wild. But in spite of her lively and ever-curious attitude, she remained polite and good natured. Because of her goodness, she was well liked by those who met her.

Finally their 5 day stay was over. They went back to their homes and were met by their friends and family.

Each was asked a similar question, "How was the trip?"

The first complained endlessly. The second let out a yawn, shrugged her shoulders and in an uninteresting tone replied, "It went well." The third smiled broadly and described with much gusto her experiences in Africa. Everyone listened attentively to her and they felt alive and interested to visit Africa upon hearing her.

After we heard the story, we were asked, "Which character do you like best? Why?"

Definitely, most of us liked the third traveller. Later, I came to realize that the three characters are in us. But I wonder which among these three characters are more evident in us.

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Mama likes to see flowers in her garden. When we were young and had no garden hose yet at that time, we would run to and fro from the faucet to the garden with our pail of water and watering cans. The garden was too spacious for me that I would often detest "watering time." Because I did not like the job, I did not appreciate the garden that much. It's different now that I am older.
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This is a typical breakfast venue at the house of my aunt where everyone goes out to the garden and eat. Here you see mama, auntie meling, uncle sixto and papa. That unused plate is mine.
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Dili lalim magluto og 3 ka putahe sa sulod sa 2 ka oras lang labi na kung kana siya dinuguan, eskabeche og linat-an nga ribs. Samut na kung ang tinae limpyohanan pa, ang bukog frozen pa ug ang isda nga lutuonon wala pa miabot.

Mao na na ang nahitabo gahapon. Pero maski sa sobrang kapuliki, mihunong sa ko para pagkuha og picture. Hehehehe. Pilipino jud: picture-picture.

Dili ko mosuwat og recipe diri. Basaha nalang ninyo sa recipe book.
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sally's pix

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Before Papa had his stroke last July, he used to play with Waytee.
Five months later, I still find him and Waytee getting along pretty well.
There has always been a dog in the house ever since I can remember.
Each dog having a character of its own, just like people.

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It is fun to spend Christmas with the children as you get to do a lot of fun stuff like filling up stockings. My parents never had this tradition during their childhood days but they made us believe in Santa Claus and his reindeers. Now we are passing this tradition to the younger generation. Hearing their comments on Christmas morning is always amusing. For me, that is my Christmas surprise.

The captions in the picture are some of those I heard on the night before Christmas and Christmas morning - from my own brothers and sisters during our younger years, and from my young nephews and nieces as they checked what Santa has given them.
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Ping's pix

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This is the view seen on top of Osmena bridge in Ormoc. It looks great on a weather like this. But if this river could speak, she may most probably talk also of what she had gone through. Not just of events from centuries past but from the flash flood that happened some 18 years ago where about 8,000 perished in just 30 minutes or so.

Now she looks quite a beauty with her verdant greens and clean running water.

Often, something good comes out of tragedies as we gradually feel the urge to build on it rather than leave it to decay.

move on

Browsing through old pictures.
Looking at how we were and realizing how we are now.

Just can't help being grateful to two great persons who made life easy for us. Papa, now 80, just had his third stroke today. He's in the hospital while I'm miles away. I was able to talk to mama who assured me that everything is taken cared of and papa is stable.

These two persons, in their seemingly frail bodies have weathered many storms in their life. Always, they tell me: move on.

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etched in time

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The pen has fallen
the last page remains unwritten.

Neither one of us expected that it would be sooner than soon. Both of us knew that you were sick. Complicated diabetes, you said. But you always had your way of lightening grave matters and your sense of humor was an unfathomable abyss.

You were writing a book then. The real world of a jester. You said it's unfinished, but unfolding nicely and then....
For whom the bell tolls.

You once read that to us, years and years passed. Now the bells' tolling for you. I won't be there, you know. But I will pray for you.
Thank you, dear and trusted friend
for everything.

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the tri-sikad

so-called for
how it looks - it has three wheels;
and how it works - it is foot-pedalled.
(To pedal in our dialect is sikad).

This is common in the province
where life is not a rat race
and traditions are remembered and repeated
as they evolve in time.

I find travelling by tri-sikad interesting
as it enables me to:
- savor the view of the countryside
- relax as the gentle breeze beats on my face
- recognize a red, black or blue ant that crosses my way
- greet unhurriedly a cousin or friend on the road
- watch amused at the face of the kids
as I smile and wave hello.

The tri-sikad goes slow
a reflection of the life here in the province.
Even its people don't age fast
as they take life in stride
laughing off life's worries
living one day at a time.

The tri-sikad drivers I've met
were simple, honest people
who would patiently wait
as I drop or pick up something
en-route to the house of a friend.

If I don't know how to get to a place
I just give them the name
and they'd bring me there

If it is beyond their bounds
I'd have to make a square deal
and settle with a price
that is no longer the regular fare.

If weather permits
it's a door-to-door delivery
for the tri-sikad driver has a code to himself:
deliver the package
in fit shape
or he'll lose face.

If you'll give a tip
to the weather-beaten man,
you'll be making his day
under this heat of the sun.

It is not really easy
to pedal around
and be drenched by the rain
burned by the sun
all these and more
just to earn a living
for his family and all.

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i'm home

When the kids come running to you
and your dog, too
you know you are home.

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Once again I find myself in this kitchen,
cooking rice for the day's meal.
I don't mind staying here
as yaya (nanny) has provided a table and chair
and has kept the place clean.

Idly, I watched the fire die down.
I know I have to keep it burning as the water has yet to boil
or else the rice will spoil.
I took a paper for burning
and saw it slowly devoured by fire.
Fire has transformed it into its own.
No longer the paper I once held in my hands
But a fire now among fires.
This made me wonder
if there is anything
that is not transformed by fire.
They say it's plastic.
I say, "Maybe."
They say it's bricks, granite, diamond...
But all these have also been transformed by fire.
Are we not also transformed by fire?
Call it deadlines, crisis, rifts...
Those that cause turmoil within us
that make us cringe and struggle
Like the paper that writhed and cringed
as fire consumed it to its core.
The paper nourished the fire
as it helped keep it burning.
It has served another purpose
as it adapted to a new environ.
Like the paper that consumed
the all-consuming element of of its environ,
we, too, consume
the all-consuming elements in our environ
as these strongly influence us:
the philosophies, attitudes, beliefs;
culture and traditions.
We do not totally become
as we adapt what for us is applicable
and set aside what for us is not.
But still we change
only to adapt ourselves to a new environ
and nourish those around us
as we nourish ourselves in turn.
What happens to the paper?
As it turned to ash among embers,
come cleaning time
it's thrown in the garden
and becomes the 'transforming fire'
as it nourishes others
and help them live on.

Like the rest of us,
wherever we are,
we continue to transform
and be transformed
as we are consumed by our fires
and become a fire for others in turn.

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solitary life

Even if we work as a team,
there are times when we feel we are working alone
as we focus on the task
that is especially given to us
and each is on his/her own.

It makes me think of what a mother once said.
She has nine children, same as ours
and not one is left especially on working hours.

I realize that even as we live with so many
we have this solitary life.
We make decisions,
we do our share of work

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i'm ok

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Fresh flowers have a magical way of lifting up the human spirit.

When the father of a very good friend was confined in the hospital, my sister who works as a doctor there advised me to bring flowers when I go to visit. I asked why. She confided that flowers seem to have a magical effect on most of her patients as they responded positively to these, often enabling a speedy recovery.
I told her that flowers have pollen and they might not be good for people who are sick. She said, yes. But still she continues to notice how a room with flowers changes the otherwise dreary atmosphere of a hospital room, mysteriously lifting up the spirit of the melancholic or ailing person.

No wonder flowers are used for special occasions like birthdays, valentine's day, anniversaries, and most rites as they do not just show how we appreciate the person, or reveal how we try to beautify the room, but I guess it's more on hoping that something positive will come out of the occasion.

Just don't overdo it. The room might look like a funeral parlor. Or otherwise make the person feel that he/she should open a flower shop.

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holding on

When we sense we are threatened, we instinctively hold on to something or someone that will make us feel secure.

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