Monday, February 29, 2016

Moments in Manila

   My father, now ninety years old suffered a mild stroke in November, 2015.  Although I was in the Philippines just six months prior, I flew back came January to check how he’s doing.  His mobility has been affected but otherwise, he has fully recovered by the time I arrived.

   My first vacation in 2013 was spent almost entirely with one of my sons and his family.  The second vacation in 2014 was spent between Las Piñas where I got necessary medical treatment and Cavite to be with my father.  I thought this third vacation was going be the same, more so because of my father’s stroke.  But God had other plans. 

   The dialysis treatment which was 100% free last year is now 90% free due to some changes in Philhealth insurance coverage.  The hospital does not accept credit card and the cash I brought with me did not allow for the difference.  This affected the quality of my medical treatment, leaving me with less energy for the rigorous four hours round trip travel to Cavite.  What seemed to be a setback turned out to be a gift.  God Jehovah saw it fit to make this vacation all about me. 

   This time, I got to hang out with my loving cousins and nieces.  I had the opportunity to give some leg work to a project I had been mulling over.  I had a chance to be with the son and grandson I missed in 2013.  Despite his busy work schedule which included Saturdays and Sundays, he took time off to take me on a road trip to Tagaytay. 
 Island Cove    From:
We got to rediscover Island Cove, a place my family frequented when my sons were in grade school.  It has a lot more to offer now but we only came to dine and load up on fresh oysters.

   I chanced upon a boy about 8 or 9 years old sitting on the curb crying.  I asked him what happened.  He pointed to two boys half a block away.  He said those boys hit him on the head for no reason.  I saw the bullies looking at us.  I told the crying boy I’ll have a word with those two.  As I approached the bullies, they sprinted away.  Seeing that I got his back, their victim was emboldened and chased after them.  It always feels good to turn tables when an opportunity presents itself to do so. 

   I had time to look into the death of the Gunman.  The hospital listed on the death certificate did not have him in the Records Department file.  I was referred to the Emergency Room records which did not have him either.  There, I was advised to see the head of Security who might have a releasing logbook.  The security chief said they don’t keep any information over a year old.  I was given a list of funeral services that usually picks up from the hospital.  I would have to call each one to find who took him.  The Gunman is as mysterious and illusive dead as he was alive.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Mediterranean Spaghetti

   My father brought home a Mediterranean spaghetti recipe when he retired from the US Navy.  He said he got it from an Italian navy man.  The Filipino spaghetti is sweet.  The sweetness came from adding banana ketchup to save on tomato sauce.  That and children like it sweet.

   However, the Mediterranean pasta sauce is not sweet.  It has olives and capers, both of which are sour or tangy. I prefer the olive brand in the photo because it has not been pitted.  The pitted olives lacked the strength of olive taste, probably squeezed out of it during the pitting process.  As such, this brand of olives give out its natural olive oil into the sauce during boiling.  No olive oil however pure or virgin can match the taste that comes out fresh from the fruit into the sauce.

   The capers come in big or small sizes.  Capers is not a fruit.  It is actually a flower in the bud and may have medicinal qualities.  I like it just for the sour taste.

   Here’s the recipe for the spaghetti sauce:
  •    1 can of Hunts pasta sauce 
  •   Ground beef and mini pepperoni (quantity based on preference)
  •    1 big onion and 5 cloves of garlic 
  •    Olives and capers quantity as per preference
  •    Celery and carrots 
  •    Italian spices 1 tsp of each 

   Cooking instructions:

   Mince garlic and chop the onion in then sauté in small amount of olive oil.  When these are fully cooked include the ground beef and pepperoni.  Chop the carrots and celery.  When the beef is cooked, throw in the carrots and celery in the pot.  Flavor with salt and pepper.  After a couple of minutes pour the pasta sauce then add the Italian spices, capers and olives.  Continue simmering for a few more minutes for all the flavors to combine. 

   Use this sauce for any kind of pasta you got in your pantry.  Serve with parmesan cheese and mild banana pepper for decoration and additional flavor. 


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Monday, February 15, 2016

Ninay, The Matriarch

   Marcelina, my grandmother, more popularly known as Ninay, was born and raised in Imus, Cavite.  Before World War II, she moved her family to Pasay City, where business opportunity was booming, as expansion from old Manila moved south.  Alienable and disposable land in Pasay City was available for the taking in 1939.  In the effort to jump start industrialization, the government allowed building on empty lots for temporary housing to be rented out to laborers migrating from the provinces.  Ninay built such make shift homes along Humildad Street with the use of ‘bayanihan’ system, a tradition of donated labor in exchange for hospitality (food and drinks).  

She then rented out the homes until she has accumulated enough capital to open a grocery store in Pasay City public market.  Then she sold all those homes to buy an old house on a lot at the corner of P. Reyes Street and Ibarra Street.

   When she heard rumors of war, she had photographs of her grocery store taken for posterity’s sake.  She kept the photos safe through the fires of war and the uncertainties of awaiting the liberation from the Japanese forces.  After the war, Japan signed a peace treaty with 49 nations, including the Philippines to pay reparations.  Ninay whipped out the photos of the grocery store as proof of war damage and collected her share of the reparation.  

   With that money, she restored her previous place in the reconstructed market.  This time she opened a clothing store.  During that time, before the world had malls, people bought their clothes from the market.  Fresh from WWII victory, American influence was at its height.  The traditional Filipino apparel was replaced by American fashion.  That was when wearing pants became acceptable as women’s clothing.  Her ‘dry goods store’, as it was called back then, came just in time to sell the American jeans and dresses while she, herself, continued to wear the Filipina ‘kimona and saya’ till the day she died in 1990.  

   She used her clothing store profits to demolish the old house at the corner of P. Reyes Street and Ibarra Street, Pasay City and build a six unit apartment, one for each of her six children.  Her apartment still stands today.  Albeit old and now surrounded by newer condo buildings, it is a testament to the tenacity of a Filipina not even a world war can break.  

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Blog’s 3rd Anniversary

   2015 was full of surprises.  A total unknown Filipina rose to fame and fortune in 5 months from sheer talent and ingenuity.  Her story, the article A Filipina Called Yaya Dub, rose to the top of the list of popular posts in the same amount of time.  The other half of Aldub, Alden Richards, is featured in Ethnically Ambiguous.  

   The fan base of the Aldub tandem organized itself into a virtual nation, called Aldubnation, composed of people from all walks of life.  They are all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, bridging distance and social status.  Team Bahay are those who watch the show at home, Team Abroad are those who watch the show over the internet and there are Aldubnation chapters with representation from all the provinces in the Philippines.  Aldubnation has proven to be a formidable force.  The vigilance and social networking of Aldubnation exposed anomalies in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) which triggered a Congressional investigation prompting veteran actress Boots Anson-Roa to resign as a member of the MMFF executive committee.  Other members may follow.

   The Gunman Saga Continues tells about the recent news of the Gunman’s death, however unconfirmed.  A complete book about the Gunman is on its last chapter.  

   I paid tribute to my great grandmother in Grandma (Lola) Eugenia, to my dog Buddy and to my first car The Beetle.  I remembered our nanny of sorts in The Iron Lady.  

   Articles about friendship were added to the list such as The Sword, The Standbys of Makati and The Barkada Mentality while Postscript: Best Place to Work in Manila, Loving the Job, The Girl They Called ‘Manila Times’ are articles about the topic closest to the heart of the Filipina, her employment.  

   Cord-Cutting is a protest against the high cost of cable television.  A Proof of Genesis, Google It and Keep Knocking are Bible based topics that might just be what the reader is searching for.

   More Thrift Tips, If You’re Tired Of…, The Lunchbox and If You are Out of... contain household tips I gathered here and there.  Motherhood is not a perfect science.  We can all use a little help. 

   Pageviews for 2015  Thanks to all the readers!

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Living on Dialysis

   Dialysis have short and long term ill effects on the body.  The immediate effects usually wear off as quickly as they come i.e. low blood pressure causes dizziness and vomiting up to passing out, muscle cramps from toes, to legs to  stomach and chest, depending on the potassium content of the previous meal.  

   Long term side effects would need time and a lot of ‘tender loving care’ (TLC) to counter.  The most obvious is dry skin and itchy scalp.  Due to constantly pulling fluid off from the blood stream, the moisture under the skin goes with it.  That moisture serves as the buffer between the skin and the nerves under.  Without that moisture anything that may cause pain, like a splash of hot oil from cooking or any cut or bruise, feels more excruciating than normal.  

   I have tried a number of popular skin lotions but their effect was temporary at best.  I finally gave up and resigned to having parts unprotected by clothes like the forehead, arms and legs to be parched dry.  

Pure Collagen
   Then my daughter brought me a bottle of liquid pure collagen and a bottle of collagen lotion.  I’ve heard of the healing effect of collagen on the skin so I used it on the skin that covers my dialysis access which has been ravaged by the frequent onslaught of needle prick so that it had developed scar tissues on top of and under.  

Dialysis Access Improvement
   I pour the liquid collagen into a piece of gauze, lay the gauze on top of my shunt then cover it with plastic wrap for a few hours to keep it from drying.  My shunt skin started to recover so I used the left over collagen in the gauze on the rest of my arms, forehead and legs.  In time, I noticed those parts slowly retained moisture to almost normal.  

   As for dry itchy scalp, I alternate using my regular shampoo laced with a little amount of Creamsilk and Head and Shoulders.  My hair is now as soft and scalp as healthy as they were before I fell into the hole called dialysis. 

   Now, the diet is a different story.  Fluid should be measured all day not to exceed the amount allowed by the patient’s body weight and size.  Forbidden food can be had at moderation.  Total abstention is not advisable.  When the joy of eating no longer justifies living, the patient might decide to forego both.

See also:
Racial Bullying  
The Bright Side of Colonoscopy
The Gunman Saga Continues