Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Relevance of Jose "Pepe" Diokno

You may be wondering what's this post about Jose "Pepe" Diokno, senator, nationalist, public servant, human rights lawyer, educator and scholar doing in this blog? Well, we believe that "Living the Good Life" encompasses ones social, political and economic activities. Our daily living is very much affected by the kind of government and politicians we have. Jose Diokno's speeches and writings which can be found in his book "A Nation for Our Children" are very much relevant in our country's present condition. His words can serve as inspiration to the present generation and admonishment to the current breed of politicians.

When it comes to "living a goodlife", he says: "Why be honest, when it pays to become dishonest? Why fight for others when they won’t fight with you? – or even for themselves? … the answer lies in what life means to you. If life means having a good time, money, fame, power, security – then you don’t need principles; all you need are techniques. On the other hand, if happiness counts more than a good time, respect more than fame, right more than power and peace of soul more than security; if death doesn’t end life but transforms it, then you must be true to yourself and to God …”

Jose Diokno is a peacemaker and a nonviolent freedom fighter. “If resort to violence is natural in man, so are attempts to control it. Man wants to live, but he also wants to live well. Life is not worth living, if he must live under the constant lash of fear. Violence is a part of life, yes. But to tame violence is to civilize life.”

To him, addressing the problems of discontent and insurgency in the country can be found in our fundamental, basic human rights - “Food and freedom, jobs and justice – these are the keys to peace." Sadly, Diokno lamented, many people are not aware of their basic human rights and freedoms much less of ways to enforce them. “If we do not struggle with all that we have and do all that we can to vindicate our rights, we do not only condemn our rights to death; we also condemn our hopes and our dreams, our present, and our children’s future.” Diokno has an alternative view on how to measure development. For him, development means " developing a better people – people with a conscience, people with a heart, people with the guts to stand up and defend their rights."

A Nation for Our Children — a collection of Jose W. Diokno’s essays and speeches on human rights, nationalism, and Philippine sovereignty — was published in 1987 by the Diokno Foundation. (Maybe it's useful to give our politicians a copy of this book to remind them that nobility lies in genuinely serving the people -not lining their pockets.)


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our Favorites at Lola Idang's

Kare-kare, pritong tilapia, lumpiang sariwa, pritong hito, pancit canton. These are our all time favorites everytime we go to Lola Idang's, a small restaurant along Visayas Avenue. The kare-kare has a thick yellow-orange peanut paste, with chunks of beef (meat and "twalya" or the intestine linings) , veggies and accompanied by bagoong (shrimp paste). While we wish the veggies are more generous, we couldn't really complain given the very low-price they charge for each serving. The taste is what we're after.
The pritong tilapia and hito are crunchy and tasty, and Geof's (predictable) order. The fresh lumpia is made of "ubod" and topped with thick, brown sauce with peanuts. The pancit canton is also good. They also have pancit-malabon sa bilao for big groups or to-go for those who wish to serve them at home.
They serve their food in plates covered with banana-leaves for that 'homey' feel. The interiors are simple and pleasing, too - the inside wall is covered with drawings ala Larry Alcala's, depicting a regular day along Proj. 6-Visayas Ave, with "Lola Idang's" store at the hub.
In general, we've never been dissapointed with all the food that we order in this resto, making this among our favorites.
The price range of the food at Lola Idang's is from PhP 55 to PhP 200.00 - really affordable by today's standards. With 3 adults and 2 kids, and side orders of shing-a-ling (crispy-fried noodles) and pastillas de leche, my P500 even has a few coins for change.

Lola Idang's is near the Shell Gasoline station and beside the South Star Drug along Visayas Ave.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adarna, a time-warp with food and history

Slide Album: Adarna Fodd & Culture

We had lunch today at a place called "Adarna - Food and Culture" along Kalayaan Ave., Quezon City - just a short walk from Trellis and opposite Kamay-Kainan.

The walls of the place were designed with wooden window covers, those with a checkered pattern with flat capiz placed in each small square. When we got inside, it was like a mini-museum of everything old. There are old newspapers, old pictures, posters, old money, old home-pieces (like a 100-yr old piano that's still working), a manual flat-iron (where burning charcoal is placed inside for heat), a very old wooden clock that's still working, big glass jars (the same jar containers for the 3-for-5 centavos texas gums and the red bubble gum in the corner sari-sari store of "Mang Inong" when I was 7).

In their function rooms, there was an old black and white TV (the one with the wooden cover and with a dial to change channels), an old phonograph, and a film-projector. There were also pictures of actors and actresses when they were still young - Susan Roces, Vilma Santos, Rogelio dela Rosa, Edgar Mortiz, Nida Blanca, Nora Aunor, Tirso Cruz III, Nestor de Villa .... the experience of looking at all these was like being in a time-warp. It brought me back to my younger years, when I was tugging along my Nanay Ching as she watches her favorite TV shows.

The dining experience. The tables and chairs are solid-wood, those we usually see in old houses, with intricate wood carvings. The table-cloth and the dish used really reminded me of the old house of my lola (bless her soul). The dish were old china and the glass coasters were crochetted.

The food menu - with their description - was reminiscent of the late Doreen Fernandez and her penchance for ascertaining the original recipe and origin of each dish. Adarna offers specialty dishes from different parts of the country, boasting of preparing each dish to its old/original preparation. Some of the food I find interesting are Pancit musiko (Ilocano noodle soup), Sigarillas salad, Lumpia Freska Kabitenya, Pamplina (that allegedly dates back to the Galleon Trade), Tagalog Pochero, Pancit 1913, Pancit Anamita 1930, Pancit Tondo 1800, Kesong puti and Langka fry, Plantanillos con Manga (Pinoy's version of crepe), Felicidad (cold drink of eggs, cream, milk, rhum, vanilla).

We ordered crispy dilis and Tokwa (tofu) rebosado with fresh tomato salsa as appetizers The tokwa was delicious, even my 9-year old son Geof who's not a fan of tofu ate them with gusto. For our entree, we ordered Piassok, a dish of beef chunks "cooked slowly in smoked coconut cream and ten spices until tender." This dish, according to the menu, hails from Sulu. The sauce taste like a mix of curry, coconut, and cumin. It's good, and I bet even better when eaten with beer or wine, as suggested by the chef. Next we had the camaron rebosado. Geof and Julia enjoyed this, but I find this dish a little too common. (Price range of entree is between P160 to P400). The resto also offers Batanes yellow rice which we also tried. The serving is generous (P65 per serving). The plain rice is also cheap (P12/ serving) with a very nice texture - like the rice you buy/ eat when you're in Nueva Ecija or Pampanga - the grains are small and a little sticky.

For our drinks, Geof ordered mango shake and they gave us a very thick and rich shake. When I ordered Barako coffee, it was served in a very elegant and feminine cup and saucer (the attendant corfirmed first who will have the coffee before serving - I guess the dish they use for coffee are gender-specific). Over-all, the dining experience creates a feeling of being a rich or well-off ilustrado of the old days. The ambiance, the food, the dish used, the music - it was like we were brought back in time.

For big groups or functions, Adarna also has rooms that can seat 15-20 (if bigger, the rooms can be 'combined' by removing the divider ). The rate for room use is P5000, all consumable, for 4 hours. We recommend this place especially to those who have balikbayan or foreign visitors , or even to those who, like us, enjoy being reminded of the good-old-days. Adarna - Food and Culture is located at 119 Kalayaan Avenue, Diliman Quezon City. TeleFax (+632) 926 8712 and email

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mushroomburger's Pancit Canton

Mushroomburger used to be associated only with Tagaytay. Not anymore. It has a branch along West Avenue where you can also buy dried and fresh mushrooms. I am not too hot about their burger, although they are indeed tasty. I am more excited with their pancit canton. Yes, mushroomburger offers pancit canton that's generously topped with different kinds of mushroom!

I served Mushroomburger's pancit canton in a party at home and our visitors enjoyed it. I brought it during our college reunion pot-luck party, and my college classmates (24 years ago, aargh, I'm that ... young ?) also loved the pancit. What makes this pancit different is the generous serving of mushroom on top, and the thick mushroom sauce that blends well with the noodles. It's not expensive too! You can see the price of the pancit canton in the photo above.

Mushroomburger is located near Ersao at West Ave., Quezon City. Free delivery (Tel. 375-1290) is also available.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Toys for Creative Minds

If you want to develop children's creativity, patience and imagination, give them a Lego or MegaBloks. Lego or MegaBloks consist of colorful interlocking plastic bricks, beams, axles and minifigures which can be assembled and connected in many ways to contstruct various types of objects such as vehicles, buildings and even working robots. Anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. Lego and MegaBloks pieces are compatible.

My two kids especially my son, Geof enjoy creating objects using Lego and MegaBloks bricks. Geof designed his own Lego twin tower almost similar to the Petronas twin towers with perfect symmetry in design and colors. He creates cars, airplanes and buildings. He usually watches Lego creations in You Tube and gets inspiration from these movies. When inspired, he will diligently and painstakingly assemble the structure from his imagination. My daughter, Julia (4 yrs old), also creates her own cars and structures. Watch this slide show showing some of the kids' creations.
Slide Album: Geof & Julia Play LEGO

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our Favorite Halo-Halo!

The scorching summer heat is here again. It's the best time to eat the Pinoy's favorite dessert - the Halo-Halo. Halo-Halo (Halo means "mix") usually consists of a blend of fruits - banana, camote, beans, macapuno, ube, corn, langka and preserved ingredients like nata de coco, sago, gulaman, ube, kaong, leche flan and ice cream. Shaved ice, milk and sugar complete the delicious halo-halo. There is really no specific ingredient for the halo-halo. You may simply mix any ingredient as you desire. I remember when I was in Japan, my friends and I only used sweet corn and beans in our halo-halo. The secret to a satisfying and delicious halo-halo is not only the mixed ingredients but also the shaved ice. Don't serve ice that hardens like an iceberg - you won't be able to mix the ice with the fillings. We were served once in Tagaytay with this kind of halo-halo and we ended up eating only the fillings and throwing the block of ice (I realized now, I should have thrown the solidified ice to the owner...ooops! Just kidding :-).

Each restaurant concocts its own formula for its halo-halo. In Pampanga, there are three popular halo-halo restos- Razon's of Guagua, Corazon of Angeles City and Kabigting of Arayat. Each of this halo-halo has its own unique taste and special ingredient. (You may read an article about these 3 halo-halos). One of our favorites is Razon's halo-halo. Razon's halo-halo consists only of three basic ingredients - banana (saging na saba), shredded macapuno, and leche plan - mixed with finely shaved ice, evaporated milk, sugar and a tinge of dayap. The mixture is so simple yet it's so tasty - the sweetness is just right. In Pampanga, the halo-halo costs maybe about P50.00 (since my last visit maybe a year ago), however here in Metro Manila, it is P72.00 (at Razon's, Timog Ave., QC). Its price in Metro Manila really has soared high, but at least you don't have to travel to Pampanga to taste the halo-halo. Razon's halo-halo can now be found in several malls like Trinoma and the Mall of Asia.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our Floating Book Fair Experience

Filipinos really love books and discounts. Despite the scorching heat last Sunday of March 8, 2009, old and young book lovers queued to the Doulos Floating Book Fair 2009 at South Harbor Manila Pier 13.
We arrived a few minutes before 2pm but were not allowed inside the south harbor until 2pm. There were a lot of people outside waiting for the opening, too. At exactly 2pm, we were allowed in. It was realllllly hot and I really pity those who brought their kids but failed to bring an umbrella. The line was long and it took us about 15 to 20 mins under the sun (I can't say enough about the heat but it was really terrible for the kids).

When we finally got on-board, the bookstore was big but was really crowded. The entrance was small, and the aisle between bookshelves were tight. It actualy reminded me of my "rally/ mass action-days" in the 80's - hot, crowded, with everyone sweaty. You cannot spend time to browse books for long because you will be literally pushed forward by the crowd who are just coming in. The price of books? Almost the same as in our regular bookstore - although I think there was a 15% discount that Sunday for some who hold a coupon (how to get the coupon, I have no idea) - that probably explains the crowd, too.

I think our mistake was to go there at 2 pm (too excited!) - it's actually a nice bookstore and just the experience of being in a ship-bookstore is something else, much more if you learn about the history of the ship (it was built in 1914, just 2 years after the Titanic). It has travelled in all corners of the world, and just that idea - that you're in a ship that has visited so many areas, and that you are looking at the same books and in the same ship just as the thousand others from different countries who also visited Doulos - is already monumental. Further, the dedication of the young volunteers from different parts of the world who run Doulos is also something that inspires.

I guess the best time to go to this bookstore is in the evening - then you can really appreciate the ambiance of being in a ship and surrounded by all sorts of books.

We got books for the kids. Geof is eager to watch the CD about MV Doulos history, and Julia has opened all her books. For me and Andy? Our best buy is the "Buy 3 books for P200.00" at a special section of the fair and you get a free Doulos bag. The 3 books we bought were Relic Quest and Ark Fever by Robert Cornuke - these are two story accounts of one man's pursuit of the lost ark of the covenant and Noah's ark. The third book is Jake Thoene's Shaton's Fire, a book about waging war on terror.

The Doulos Book Fair runs in Manila on March 5-31, 2009. Ship Location: Gate 1, South Harbor, Manila Pier 13 (Near Manila Hotel). Learn more about the ship MV Doulos at the website and try the virtual tour.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ready to (H)EAT Pizza

If you and your kids love pizza, you can instantly prepare the ready-to-heat Jimini pizza. Here is a short review by our our son, Geof:

"Chicago style pizzas are thick crusted medium-sized pizzas with mozzarrella and toppings on it. They come in 3 flavors and they are delicious. My favorite flavor is the one shown in the picture. "

The three flavors are burger joe, superoni (pepperoni) and the dynamic duo (beef & pepperoni). One box has three whole pizzas and costs about P178.00 at Landmark. So each pizza is about p60.00.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Oishii (Delicious) Proposal !

We watched another Japanese food comedy drama – Oishii Proposal. The plot centers on the relationship between Shiraishi Suzuko, a beautiful and strong-minded female chef of a small Italian restaurant in Tokyo and Koide Keisuke, a rich and handsome businessman whose father wants to take-over the restaurant. The movie has wonderful characters who have their own interesting roles to play – the restaurant manager, the sous chef, the waitress, the father, the businessman’s assistant, the rich daughter of a business partner, who is infatuated with Keisuke….everybody contributes to this movie which is full of comedy, romance and conflict.

Will Suzuko sacrifice the restaurant business and her chef job for love? Will Keisuke obey his father’s orders to take-over the restaurant of the lady chef to whom he is falling in love? Will Keisuke marry the rich girl so that their business will prosper or will he choose the lady chef instead? Will Suzuko accept the bribe given by the father so that she cuts-off her relationship with Keisuke? Watch it at or and find out the twist at the final episode. It’s really a tasty (especially if you love Italian food like pasta) and enjoyable movie!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Muang Thai Resto - Thai food at its best

Andy and I went on a date at Muang Thai last February 27. We ordered catfish-mango salad, chicken curry, squid, and tom yum soup. What can I say but their food is absolutely delicious.

First, the catfish salad: We have, thus far, tried catfish salad in at least three restos, but the version of Muang Thai is sumptuously different. It is overflowing with crispy catfish that tops the few strands of semi-ripe mango- the sourness of the mango was just right to complement the saltiness of the fish. Next, the chicken curry - it was rich and spicy and had lots of chicken for a change (unlike in other restos where the chicken strips were very few). We had tom yum soup, but made a mistake of ordering the one without the coconut milk. It was tasty and spicy (whew!) but I would have preferred the one with coconut. And finally, the squid. It was sauteed in garlic, a little soy sauce, and chilli but the preparation was not spicy at all. I like the sauce since it blends well with the squid, and was actually a good alternative to the usual grilled or stuffed squid we are so used to.

Muang Thai Restaurant is located at 138 Malakas St.,, Brgy. Central, Quezon City at the back of McDonald's near QC Hall. Tel. 632) 426-4123 , (632) 927-4305. The price ranges between P200-P300 per dish.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Personalized Mugs

Personalized products like shirts, keychains or mugs are good items to give on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. On our 10th wedding anniversary, I ordered these personalized mugs (at one stall called It's Personal! at Trinoma) with the cartoon images of myself, Apple and our two kids, Geof and Julia. These mugs represent our 10 years of happy and memorable relationship with each other and with the kids.