Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bulag, pipi, bingi: The Mystery Manila Edition!

It was time for another opportunity to challenge our brains with a life-sized puzzle. Ate Mary, Ate Bing, Joys, and Krishna were with me... and we chose to take on Sinister Sensorium at Mystery Manila.

In this puzzle, we were stripped off of one sense each. We had to choose among the following: hearing, sight, and speech. This concept reminded me of the three wise monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Anyway, the game master seated us by missing sensory capacity and then chained us to our seats. The blind (Ate Mary and Joys) had to figure out how to communicate with the dumb (Krishna), who then had to use hand gestures to tell me and Ate Bing what was going on (we're deaf).

It was a challenge, requiring a lot of teamwork and nonverbal communication techniques. But at the end of the one-hour challenge, we were able to get out and solve the mystery! We didn't reach the leader boards but we did gain bragging rights for this.

A good afternoon, indeed. It was so good that we decided to debrief over soufflés. Great job team!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Eldie and Richelle get married

My cousin, Kuya Eldie, tied the knot (finally!) with Richelle in a simple afternoon ceremony at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Las Piñas. Most of the clan was there to formally welcome Richelle into the family. There were a few snags along the way, thanks to the horrible traffic jam along the Las Piñas-Zapote Road but that didn't stop the family from having fun.

And surprise! Rochie, you're candle sponsor! I didn't know so I wasn't prepared with matches or with a lighter. Thank goodness, Kuya Eldie had a torch in his pocket! Easy peasy... not! I thought my job was done after igniting the wick. But no... I ended up running back and forth between my seat and the candle because the fire kept being blown off by the wind from the electric fan focused to the candle.

The wedding reception was at the nearby clubhouse. I could easily drop by the car and switch into flip-flops after being in heels for hours. When I finally got to the venue, I noticed that the party songs were mostly oldies but goodies. I am willing to bet that the playlist was based on Kuya Eldie's favourite songs. Hehe.

And as the party wound down to a close, we cousins (with their kids) just had to have group photos. No monopod; no problem. We ended up doing the shots à la Ellen Degeneres' group shot at the Oscars. 

Congratulations, Kuya Eldie and welcome to the fambam, Richelle!!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Easter egg hunt at the Museum

I've been to the Ayala Museum's diorama exhibit several times already and I learn something new each time. In my last two visits though, my eyes were led to possible "Easter eggs" in the dioramas. Perhaps the craftsmen from Paete, Laguna injected their sense of humour into the tableaus. 

In the diorama below, for instance, the scene was all about the trade between the Chinese merchants and the Filipino rulers. The Chinese were trading ceramics and other goods from the mainland for turtle shells, buffalo horns, etc. This trade between the Chinese and the Filipinos explain the strong business relationships that exist even today; and how the Philippines became rich in archeological sites (with all those pottery shards). And this was in pre-Hispanic Philippines.

However, what I found funny with this diorama was the man at the back, seemingly carrying things that were either sold to or sold by this man. Why? Because while the rest of the male characters were either wearing billowy robes or bahags, he was wearing denim pants... way before denim pants were first mentioned.

The next scene features the death of General Gregorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass; his martyrdom allowing Emilio Aguinaldo to escape and to reach Palanan, Isabela without Americans at his tail.

I found a few interesting things about this tableau. It puts to question whether del Pilar is a great general as history books suggest. First, the Filipino contingent had the reconnaissance advantage: they were supposedly at a better position because they had the higher location, perfect for shooting at the enemy from strategic locations. But this positioning didn't work because the Filipino contingent was almost totally wiped out by the much larger American force. Second, del Pilar was on a sparsely vegetated part of the pass, which made him an easy target. But not only that... he was on a horse! He's highly visible... a sitting duck, quite literally. No wonder the Filipino team, already outnumbered as it was, lost. They didn't maximize the strategic advantage presented to them! Again, this is just based on the diorama.

Andres Bonifacio is known as the hero who got the Filipinos to get their act together and fight for their independence from the Spanish colonisers. The scene below is the Cry of Pugadlawin, which was made popular by attendees infamously tearing up their cedulas. It must be a scary time to be in but everyone seemed brave and  ready to face the Spaniards. Now, what I found funny in the diorama was the presence of women who were cooking the meal for everyone in attendance. And then there's the guy who was pooping in the outhouse and the elderly man who wasn't participating in any of the exciting activities outside the house. Seldom do these scenes make into the cuts of movies about Philippine history. I'm happy that the diorama makers made sure that this part of Philippine culture gets represented.

In the next diorama, President Emilio Aguinaldo was holding office in the mountains. I was caught in surprise when I saw that there's a cat under the window! Again, like the old man in the previous diorama, the cat wasn't interested in the goings-on that had the potential to change history. It only cared about eating, methinks. 

The next diorama, if I'm not mistaken, is about the arrival of Americans or something about the naval capacity of the Americans. I just found it weird that a sailor would be talking to something hidden in the ship's navigation instrument.

And finally, the diorama depicting the declaration of independence led by President Emilio Aguinaldo. I found it funny because aside from the ever-present pets, there was a man carried on a hammock. I presume that this was Apolinario Mabini. Anyway, it was special because it reminded me of the crippled man who was lowered down a hole of the roof of the synagogue where Jesus was teaching.

Seeing the finer details of the dioramas means that I have been visiting the area too much... more than twice a month sometimes! I wonder what Easter eggs I'll see next time...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

mixed messages

After class, my classmates and I carpooled to go to Greenbelt, Makati to eat lunch. At the intersection of Buendia and Nicanor Garcia, we were greeted by the confusing message of the traffic lights: both red and green lights were lit up! What was I supposed to do, go or stop? I thought I was the only one who was baffled... until a motorbike stopped in front of my car (I had stopped while wondering what to do). The driver kept looking at me as if asking if it's okay to go or not. I could only shrug.

It's a wonder that people haven't crashed their cars onto each other because of these mixed signals. I remember seeing a scene in The Italian Job in which vehicular accidents happened because the traffic lights of vehicles crossing the intersection were hacked to go green at the same time. At least, I can say that the drivers I shared the road with that day were still defensive drivers. No collisions!

Monday, February 6, 2017

eating organic at The Farm

I am, more often than not, wary when I see a lot of photogenic food photos on Instagram with tags of the restaurants where these food items are served because I feel that the dishes might be mostly overrated. I'm even more wary of restaurant reviews that talk more about the location rather than the food; something about all-ambiance-no-bite kinda thing. 

As I was walking around Solenad 3 in Nuvali, Sta Rosa, I came across a really rustic-looking restaurant called The Farm Organics. What made me stop and eat there wasn't the ambiance though. The restaurant's manager saw me perusing the menu and was very friendly (without being pushy) as he ushered me straight to an empty table. A welcome change, compared to the greeters of the other restaurants: the staff who loiter outside the restaurant with menus on hand, who shout at passersby, trying to attract their attention.

I learned that the beef that The Farm serves comes from an organic farm in Masbate. The cows there are allowed to roam outdoors and are grass-fed, which means that they are not fed the typical animal meals that industry-raised cattle usually are. Since the cattle production is, in my opinion, much slower, I wonder if such business model will remain realistic as the restaurant ups its operations. I understand that there are around six branches, implying that the demand for the company's organic beef is increasing. Anyway, I thought that I might as well try what organic meat tastes like... I most frequently eat organic chicken (which is available in a restaurant in Los Baños).

Once inside, I immediately gravitated towards the tomato soup. I thought it was a good idea because I  had only eaten brunch while on the road to Manila (yeah, an unhealthy habit I'm reducing this 2017). A delicious way to warm up my tummy in preparation for the main course.

A photo posted by carmina syvilla-torres (@mina_mons) on

The manager was, naturally, suggesting their steaks because the beef is the restaurant speciality. However, I felt that I wasn't in the mood to eat such a heavy meal after all (despite my hunger), so I opted for the grilled pork belly paired with black vinegar with shallots; I also opted for white rice instead of Jambalaya rice because the latter has prawns.

When the dishes were served, they were so beautifully plated... worthy of Instagram posts. I was sure that a lot of people had posted photos already so I concentrated on eating. And that is why I am posting here Instagram photos posted by other people.

The food, I have to say, is delicious! I was not disappointed. The tomato soup (with croutons) was creamy and sour and was so fresh. There was no metallic taste I typically find in tomato soup that come off cans. The grilled pork was very tender and toasted just right; no burnt taste at all. The rice, with just the right softness and stickiness, paired really well with the grilled pork. I'm glad that the rice wasn't aromatic (or at least I didn't detect the sweet aromas) because I prefer to eat grilled meat with non-aromatic rice. Atypical of Filipinos, I removed the most delicious bits... the fatty pork rind! I normally don't eat the fat because I feel like I'll have a heart attack if I eat that.

Next time, I'll try the steaks. But they seem to come in big servings. So next time, I won't come alone.