I saw a bunch of pretty things today. Because it was sweltering hot, I decided to edit the colors of these pictures a little bit. I couldn’t believe how hot it was! I work from home and I almost never have to go out into the sun, so this was a bit of an unwelcome familiarity, harkening back to my days as an Atenean, when we would have to endure the heat and attempt to concentrate on class, despite the lingering stickiness.
This is a picture taken by Karen B that I cropped and colored. I like it a lot, because it looks it’s in mid-motion, and it looks somewhat like a painting.
Ryan & Garovs, some of my favorite creative people and one of my favorite couples. (That was a confusing sentence.) I met Trish, too, who I had known on the Internet for a long, long time, but never actually met until today.
I liked this picture because of the helicopter, but it made me realize how much I truly hate big-ass billboards along major Manila highways.
Window Pane-esque patterns on my pants, from the stickers on the car window.
And trees that look prickly.
I haven’t done any of these in a while, so here is a Currently, where I am consuming a spinach artichoke type of sandwich and a Hojicha tea frappuccino with earl grey tea jelly. Mmm.
It’s been a long day, and it’s not yet done, but I’m thankful for the change of scenery because it really does get a little bit lonely being me sometimes.
For Bratpack’s blog series, Dailys, I took pictures of my brother’s Herschel backpack and its contents. The slant of the article was travel and essentials, but I think that bags (and the contents that lie within) often tell a partial biography of their owners.
What I’d been meaning to do, all these months—aside from actually posting about the trip, of course—was posting the rest of the “Dailys” that I had taken. I managed to take pictures of the innards of my travel bag, as well as my sister’s, though I intended to take sneak peeks into my parents’ as well. Oh well.
My brother’s backpack was featured on the Bratpack blog. You can read the Q&A over here.
Here’s mine! Please compare how much more stuff I opted to bring along. Aside from the Olympus Pen EP-1, I brought along three film cameras (Olympus Pen EE, Nikon FM2, Lomo LC-A+) and a bunch of electronics (i.e. chargers, laptop, Kindle). I also have Field Notes notebooks, my planner from The Believer, makeup~, meds (in the green coin purse), film, my passport, and pens. That thin slender thing is the travel wallet I filched from my mom. It has four pockets (for different currencies!) and she bought it from like, Anonymous, or something. The backpack is the Kanken Mini in Frost!
And now, I introduce my sister, Isabel. Inside a pink Kipling bag, she has managed to stuff decades-old Percy, who accompanies her on all her travels. Which means that he has been to more continents than me. Along with Percy (who is the pug in Pocahontas) is a pair of glasses (that, alas, was lost on this trip), a Swatch watch, some brochures, barf bags from the plane, meds, a Rhodia notebook I got her, makeup!, and of course, snacks that we had already eaten.
Anyway, looking at these pictures makes me want to finally put together my Hong Kong posts. I don’t know why I never got around to, but here we are.
One of my recent gastronomic pursuits happened on a rainy Saturday. Sarie picked me up after class and I’d suggested Wooden Spoon a few weekends ago, because I’d seen Dan Matutina sharing pictures of what looked like a great meal. We were famished so we ended up ordering an appetizer and three main courses (vegetable, chicken, pork), as well as a rather large plate of rice.
Wooden Spoon can be found along Katipunan Ave., and is owned by chef Sandy Daza of Cooking with the Dazas fame. Having practically resided in Katipunan for nearly my whole academic life (and now teaching there), I would have to say that it’s a welcome addition to what I seems to be a flourishing culinary hub. It’s a feat to run a restaurant that can cater to students and faculty, as well as the throng of residents in the area, so I personally always welcome the great new additions and options that break the monotony of daily lunch breaks.
For starters, we had Wansoy Shrimp Balls. This is a deep fried concoction made of shrimp and wansoy (what else!), but the kick of the gorgeous wansoy sauce that it comes with rounds out the dish. It is the stuff that dreams are made of. At just Php 145 a pop (you get five pieces per order), it’s enough for me to come back and go out of my way for the occasional snack.
Next up is the Stuffed Pechay. It reminded me of rice parcels, except you actually eat the pechay leaves. The stuffing is basically a tinapa concoction mixed with a bit of ground pork, which is good in itself. The coconut milk it swims in is really good, too, with the sort of flavor that rolls around on your tongue. These are a little bigger than bite-sized pieces, so I cut them in half. Each order is Php 155 for seven pieces.
Because we were planning on getting two entrees, we broke our rice fast and decided to get Garlic Rice (Php 100), because who can say no to garlic rice, when you’re faced with so many delicious entrees to choose from? They said it would be good for two people, but their enormous serving could easily have fed three people, especially people like us who enjoy feasting on a smörgåsbord.
Sarie was avoiding pork, so she opted for Wooden Spoon Crispy Chicken (Php 195). It was okay, but I wouldn’t come back for it. The taste was had a pleasant, slight spiciness, but the lack of the glaze didn’t go well with the texture of the chicken and made it appear a little dry. I was expecting something like kung pao or General Tso’s chicken, but it wasn’t horrible. We still ate most of it, but we want more glaze!
I was thinking of getting the Tostadong Adobo, but I’m a sucker for Adobo Flakes (Php 195), so that was what I ended up getting. Wooden Spoon’s version comes with garlic mayo dip (aioli?) instead of the usual vinegar. I have a strong aversion to mayonnaise, but I decided to try it with its original sauce, and that was another good decision I made that day!
The serving is rather large, and when it came out, Sarie asked if we could ever possibly finish it, given the other things we ordered. I told her it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s really hard to get adobo flakes wrong, and Wooden Spoon’s is exceptionally tasty.
For refreshments, I decided to get the Wooden Spoon Iced Tea (Php 45), thinking it was a special sort of brew. It wasn’t anything special; it tasted a lot like Lipton.
When the food first came out and we first saw our spread, we were a little worried, but I guess you can tell that we enjoyed every last bit of that meal. The staff was very accomodating as well, even agreeing to reheat some of the dishes because we took a while savoring it all.
Despite eating so much food, we left feeling stuffed but not too full. It was a pleasant sort of feeling that didn’t leave us feeling drowsy at all, and it lasted up until our later-than-usual dinner. I feel like it’s sort of perfect for students, because I hated that after-meal drowsiness I get, especially when I had some sort of deadline I couldn’t miss.
A part of me wishes I was still studying so that I would have an excuse to eat here more often. Thankfully, it’s only closed on Mondays.
329 Katipunan Ave
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Tues-Sun: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Mikka invited Sarie and me to a tasting of Don Papa Rum last night. Sarie went to an event in Aracama already with Karen, and raved about how lovely this rum was, which piqued my interest. (Some of the pictures here were taken by Sarie.)
Don Papa Rum is a premium rum made and developed in the Philippines. Isn’t that great? It is distilled from sugar cane grown in Negros, a Philippine region known for its sugar, and aged in American oak barrels for 7 years in the foothills of Mount Kanloan. I remember buying organic coffee grown in the same region as well. This was an exciting discovery because I feel like we Filipinos are so steeped in foreign cultures and products, we often forget that our country is so rich and that we make great things, too.
It was a small get-together and we had our fill of this spinach-filled puff pastry of some sort, and I got to talk with 4/5 of the folks from Pepper. I knew Dwight from school, but it was great getting to talk to them at length.
We got to try three cocktails crafted by mixologist, Kathryn Eckstein. The first one, Liquid Butterscotch, is made with ingredients that seem to usually be found in pastries. It tastes more like a dessert than a swig of alcohol and feels like a warm blanket. You could probably close your eyes and pretend to be in the Three Broomsticks, tossing back one or two of these drinks with Harry Potter! We imagine it to be what butterbeer must taste like—smooth and sweet, spreading warmth on the inside.
This is my favorite drink, so refreshing! Called the Coco Breeze, it’s made with guava juice and nata de coco, garnished with a pretty calamansi and served in a tall glass and a handful of ice. The inspiration behind this drink are local ingredients, and it’s really the perfect companion on a hot day, which we see a lot of in this country, despite it being way past the summer season. Biting into the nata de coco is a special treat, because it soaks up all the flavors.
The last drink, Ka-pag Serious Ka, a fun take on Caprioska, is made with calamansi, ginger and honey. It’s not a favorite because neither of us like soda water, but it’s a good drink, if you’re in an actual serious mood. Be sure to drink it in a low-ball glass such as this one, for added effect.
One of the great things about Don Papa Rum is the packaging. It was made by Strange & Stranger, a design outfit based in London and NY that specializes in packaging for alcohol and spirits. Obviously inspired by old bank notes, the packaging for Don Papa Rum is a delight for the inner Where’s Waldo? obsessor in you. They allegedly used around fifty animals indigenous to the country, but I’m still stuck, marveling at the slug moustache Don Papa is sporting. It really is very intricate and interesting, and I think it adds a special Filipino flair to the product, despite being created by foreigners. The red spot UV gloss detail is also an exquisite detail.
Speaking of Don Papa, he’s an actual Filipino revolutionary that fought during the occupation of Spain and the United States. Called the “Lion of Kanloan,” Dionisio Sigobela or Papa Isio, led an eight-year-long uprising to protect his countrymen. As a farmer in Negros, he was said to have slain his cruel Spanish haciendero, fleeing to the mountains of Kanloan and establishing his own religion. Popular among the babaylanes, he believed in animism (which maybe explains all the animals on the bottle label), as well as anting-antings or amulets as protection from bullets.
Papa Isio led several uprisings and pledged his allegiance only to the Philippines, displaying a fervent and intense nationalism rarely seen these days. He sought to instigate agrarian reform and had political ideas that were perhaps too radical for the country at the time. Most people don’t know whether or not to regard him as a hero, because of his ideas (he called himself the “pope” at some point), but it is his unwavering spirit that Don Papa Rum wants to honor with this, um, spirit. His story, in detail, can be found here.
For a closer look at the packaging, here is its feature on The Dieline. There are wonderful close-ups of the label.
I haven’t tried it by itself, on the rocks, but Bleeding Heart Rum Co. claims that Don Papa Rum is “a rum that’s good enough to drink neat.” Currently, it is in the process of distribution. Since it’s a “Small Batch Rum”, it will only be available in selected bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Manila including Aracama Manila Cuisine, Draft, Beso, Distillery and Ralphs Wines and Spirits, once it has officially launched later this month.
After we drank and ate our fill, we walked around the area in search of cake! I tried Starbucks’ Green Tea and Berry Cheesecake, and I didn’t taste much of the green tea. Good if you aren’t fond of green tea, because the cheesecake itself is creamy and not fluffed up with gelatin. However, I am a green tea fiend, so I was not very pleased. Still good cheesecake, though.
We made several videos lamenting the concrete jungle that the Fort is shaping up to be. We also saw a truck of live chickens on the way home.
I was fourteen years old when I first saw Ciudad play live. It was, predictably, at my first high school fair. I was part of the Variety Show committee, and I had a laminated ID, a Sharpie, and a few hundred bucks (and some dignity) to burn. My OPM knowledge was hardly vast—I had CDs and tapes of Freestyle, Barbie’s Cradle AND Kaya, HAHA—and that one magical night opened my eyes. I saw Ciudad, Itchyworms, Twisted Halo, Narda, The Pin-Up Girls, Sugar Free, Imago, Ramp Queen, Sponge Cola, and a bunch of other bands play well into the night as I scrambled around making sure that people were doing their rounds and that every band was fed.
I left that “show” with a few drumsticks (lol), a broken guitar pick from Mondo Castro, some CDs and EPs, and a new and burning fire for local music and seeing bands play live. I didn’t get to watch a lot of shows in high school because they all happened at night and I am a baby with no car or driver’s license. I compensated by getting myself a second-hand Washburn XB100 (with DiMarzio pick-ups) with my own money, though I should tell you that I still don’t know how to play the bass.
In college, I drenched myself, as much as I could, in live music and production. I joined AMP, Ateneo’s music org, even though I didn’t know anything about making music. I did know how to write and take photos, though, so that’s what I did. It was tiring and frustrating at times, but deep, deep down, I loved every little bit of it.
I am, at best, a big fan of music. I tried being a musician, but that kind of dream doesn’t work out so well when you are talentless in the music area. So, I listened and I loved. Whenever a band I liked was playing a gig, I would be there if I could find a way to get there. Even if they played the same songs, and even though I saw the same people. Somewhere along the way, though, I forgot why I went to gigs and I lost some of the excitement, so I stopped going.
The reason this entry exists is because in the middle of Ciudad’s set last Saturday, I remembered why I fell in love with music and why I loved watching the bands play, and being in a crowd of people who probably felt as big as I did then. We even only caught Ciudad’s set because I lost that anal part of me that needed to be at gigs on time.
It was something I welcomed—being teleported back to that feeling that was ignited when I was fourtee, almost ten years ago. My good friend, Ryc, burned me a copy of Hello! How Are You, Mico the Happy Bear? because I couldn’t find it anywhere anymore. She made me listen to bands like Weedisneys, the Happy Meals, Splitcide, Boy Elroy, Plane Divides the Sky, and Spelt Backwards. I met some other bands on mIRC, and I truly loved all of it. To tell you the truth, I probably won’t be able to say if a band I loved from back then was good or not, because a part of me will always love them.
Ciudad is somewhat symbolic of my early awkward days, where all I had were my LiveJournal, the three or so friends who read it regularly, my words and other people’s music. Everybody always claims that they used to be so awkward, but I assure you—I was the real deal. Here is proof:
They’re symbolic of that time, because they were the first people on stage that fateful night (November 23, 2002), and Mikey was the first person to sign my ID. And that was the moment that I knew I was gone and over the moon for music that surges through your bones, and makes you feel connected to everything else that ever existed.
During the launch of their newest album, Follow the Leader, I felt a similar sense of closeness with the people who were there, whether or not I knew them personally. It felt so good hearing the new album played live, even if we were too short to see past taller people’s heads. It was so nice to have been a part of something special, even if most of the people I shared that night with were strangers.
There’s a Lonely Road to Sunday Night — Ciudad
And then, when Marie Jamora played a longer trailer of Ang Nawawala, as well as the music video for “There’s a Lonely Road to Sunday Night” (directed by Ramon de Veyra, I think), I just felt love course through me. And I knew I had to write this entry, so here we are.
I have a lot of memories of Ciudad. I have often wailed at people, asking them if they would be my strawberry jam, and I have often been met with dumbfounded faces. During another org-related event in 2006, they played an entire set with a girl gypsy-hippie-dancing across the whole length of the front of the stage. I stole an extra prod pass saved for a friend or roadie of the band that never showed up.
In 2008, I danced along to them with friends, and I kept shouting at them to play a really old song, and I don’t remember if they played it, but I’d like to believe that they did.
One time, Mikey even commented on a vlog I made because I used one of their songs as my background music. He said it was cool, even though I know it was definitely not. And that is how I know that they are nice people.
Anyway, the gig was great, even though we missed a really big part of it. I know you probably can’t really trust my opinion, after this long-winded, overly personal tribute post of sorts, but do yourself a favor and buy their latest release, Follow the Leader.
It filled up a hole in my heart that I didn’t even realize was there.
An assortment of photographs from the past few weeks. I miss having visual records of my days.