30 September, 2008

Baker's Hill - Palawan

Baker’s Hill started out as just a bakery but when the business became successful, the owner decided to convert the place into a park. Thus, Baker’s Hill is now included in the itinerary for the city tour of Palawan.

After our Mitra Ranch Tour, I was really hungry and it was thus fitting that our next stop had something to do with food. I asked what their specialties were and was told that it was hopia and choco crinkles. I thus bought 4 packs each to give to my friends back in Manila.

Their choco crinkles were really delicious. It was soft and chewy and tasted like chocolate cake. It went well with the vanilla ice cream I bought from there (no dieting here as I went to Palawan to fully enjoy and indulge my every whim, he he!)

I wonder though why they said hopia was one of their specialties. Some did like it but I still prefer Eng Bee Tin’s.

I also liked their munchies. I especially loved their ube munchies (I love anything purple and ube tops my list!). Their choco munchies and cheese munchies were also addicting. And so was their inipit.

Baker’s Hill was like a theme park. It had life-sized fiber glass statues like the ones below.

This one elicited amused giggles from me.

As we walked around the park, I saw some interesting architectural creations. The house of the owner looked like a castle from a fairytale book.

There were interesting plants too, including some bonsai.

But what really made this tour very memorable for me were the animals I saw there. There was a golden pheasant, a Philippine eagle owl and peacocks. Wow.

Baker's Hill is in Mitra Road, Santa Monica, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Its contact number is (044) 433-3414.

27 September, 2008

The earthquake that rocked my sleeping world on the day I learned to cook for myself

The earth shook just before lunch time today. Literally. Because we just had an earthquake.

I was actually in deep slumber when the earthquake hit. It was what finally woke me up. I actually thought I was dreaming. In my sleep-fogged brain, I thought it was but a figment of my hyperactive imagination. That is, until I felt my bed shook violently. At first it wasn’t that strong a quake. It was the aftermath that was scary. The funny thing was that while everything seemed to be tottering, my first thought was “Shimmer (my laptop), where the heck is Shimmer??” After locating her in my bedside table, I proceeded to putting her back in her case. Then I plugged in my iTouch’s earphones and listened to some music while I let the world rock me.

Boy, was it nerve-racking. Our condo is located on the 11th floor and I could really feel the movements. Later, a text message from a friend confirmed that it was indeed an earthquake. I stayed in bed for 30 more minutes, bracing myself for maybe another aftermath. There was none so I got out of bed and proceeded to the kitchen. I was hungry.

I raided the fridge. I found hotdogs, longganiza, tocino, pork and chicken in the freezer. I proceeded to my shelf. Canned goods greeted me – corned beef, meat loaf, tuna, luncheon meat... These held no appeal to my growling stomach.

I went back to our fridge and there on the bottom part, I found vegetables. “ Okay,” I thought. “Now I can cook.” Squash, check. String beans, check. Pork cutlets, check. Coconut milk, check (the powdered version though). I actually did not know what I was about to cook but I was thinking of Vegetables with Pork in Coconut Milk. In Filipino, the dish translates to Ginataang Gulay.

I do not know how to cook and I never bothered to learn but I am a self-confessed food connoisseur. I love to eat, is why. At home, I grew up surrounded by people who cook delicious foods. My dad and my mom and even my siblings all know how to cook and they have each a specialty dish or two (maybe more). Me? My cooking is limited to the occasional frying of such unhealthy foods as hotdogs, meat products, eggs and canned goods. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my specialty is in making desserts but preparing them is not really cooking, is it?

And since I’m getting older but feeling left out for not knowing how to cook, on my recently concluded 25th birthday, I wrote in “Learn how to cook” in bold letters in my to-do list. Yup, it is a priority. An utmost goal that I am hell bent on achieving.

And today is the day that I will start my cooking.

The dish I mentioned is a childhood favorite of mine. It’s one of my dad’s specialties (see, my dad has many specialties and I am yet to have one, LOL). Whenever family members at home cook, aside from tasting and eating the dish, my participation is limited to peeling whatever needs to be peeled and cutting whatever needs to be cut. And yeah, just watching them in their cooking preparations.

So today, I proceeded with my cooking armed with only distant memories of how my dad does his Vegetables with Pork in Coconut Milk.

First, I sautéed the garlic then onions and added the pork till it turned brown. Then I poured the coconut milk and let it simmer while stirring everything occasionally. Then I added the vegetables, the squash first then the string beans (I do not like eggplant on such a dish, by the way, so I omitted it) then brought them to a boil to cook. Voila. It’s done.

The funny thing about how I did my cooking was that I do not use any measurements. I just mix the ingredients together then add a dash of salt here and other spices (if need be) there up to the point when I have reached the flavor that I like.

So how did my Vegetables with Pork in Coconut Milk taste like? It was delicious.

Or maybe it’s just me talking. Ha ha! :P

26 September, 2008

"Beep & Fork Siomai" and "Prince Fries"

My friends and I were talking about pronunciation boo-boos.

Me: Once when I and my friend were ordering in Chowking, we overheard the person in front of us say in our vernacular, "What do you want, BEEP SIOMAI or FORK SIOMAI?"

God. I really had to bite my inner cheeks lest I burst out laughing. But I was thinking. A beeping siomai? Oh wow. Does it bite too? LOL. And what the hell is a fork siomai? Siomai served pierced on a fork?

Of course, I very well know that the poor lady meant BEEF SIOMAI or PORK SIOMAI.

While people were laughing their hearts out at my story, a friend shared a similar experience, even preceding her story with a "this one is a winner" remark. It sure was.
My Friend: In our office, we wanted to order from McDonald's so we passed around a piece of paper where people can list their orders. Our cleaner passed by so I asked her if she wanted anything.

Cleaner (in the vernacular): Ma'am, I wrote it down already.

My Friend: (scanning the list).
True enough. Written in the list was the cleaner's name and her order: PRINCE FRIES.

So, does anyone want to order KING FRIES? That's FRENCH FRIES, the up-sized version. LOL.

25 September, 2008

Mitra Ranch - Palawan

Mitra Ranch came after our Butterfly Garden tour. This ranch is owned by the late Philippine Senator Ramon Mitra.

The ranch had a great view of Palawan. Its architectural structure and design was also interesting.

The place was pretty popular with Palaweños. When we were there, aside from tourists, there were locals usually lovers either holding hands or cuddling while sitting on the grass or in benches. Tourists kept on snapping photos and these lovers did not seem to mind. Or maybe they were so into each other that they did not notice us. Te he!

I just loved this trellis overlooking Palawan. Pretty.

24 September, 2008

Superstitions on Moving in to a New Place

Filipinos have a lot of superstitions. We have superstitions for the New Year, superstitions for pregnant women, wedding superstitions etc. I just did not know that we also have superstitions for people who have just moved houses.

I just transferred houses. I’ve been to my new condo for nearly three weeks now and this weekend, I decided to do a general cleaning. As I was sweeping the floor of my room, I saw a comb beneath my bed. I wondered how it got there or why it’s there in the first place because I don’t use a comb. I prefer hairbrushes. Then I remembered. It’s there because of my mom.

Mom has been pretty supportive of my decision to move houses. It even elated here for she knew my new place would be near to where I work and commuting would then be not much of a hassle. The minute I told her that I’ve already done packing my stuff and ready to move out, she advised me to bring a comb and put it in the door. I asked why and she told me it’s supposed to bring good luck.

My colleagues who are all sweethearts were also happy for me in finding a condo near my work. My boss even planned on giving me a loaf of bread and salt. I laughed. What are those for? She said these are what people usually do when they move houses as it signifies luck. Oh, okay.

These two events thus made me ponder on just how many superstitions are there about moving in to a new place. I asked one friend and she told me that she was advised by her mom to position herself to where the sun is shining at dawn when she is new in a place. I asked why and she said she also does not know. She added that this is what people from Batangas are told to do.


Below are more superstitions about moving in and getting settled in one's new home.
When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.

Stuff fennel in your keyhole or hang it over your door to protect against witches.

Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do so by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.

Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan's territory. If you must do it, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers).

If you give a steel blade to a friend, make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship.

Never pound a nail after sundown, or you will wake the tree gods.

Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets' nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to any age house.

Click HERE to view the complete list of superstitions.

Here are more, taken from another website:

If the previous owners have been kind, they will have left some bread (or rice, depending where you are in the world) and salt behind for you. If the realtor got rid of it, don't worry, just make sure the first person to enter carries these items, plus a new broom.

The salt should be sprinkled in all the rooms and across the door sills, so evil spirits will never enter.

Pick your move-in date very carefully. Regardless of contract exchange, escrow or lengthy chains, you should move in when the moon is waxing. Avoid Fridays, Saturdays and rainy days.

Thursday is a propitious day for moving in Tamil culture.

Poke the fire for luck.

The first time you leave your new home, make sure you exit by the same door that you entered, otherwise you will never settle.

If a pal brings you a set of knives as a housewarming present, don't accept it, or offer them a coin in exchange, unless you expect your friend to become an enemy before too long.

And here are more Filipino superstitions about building houses and moving in to one's new home:

If you are to build a house, always begin during a full moon.

The best months to build a house is during the months of March, June, July, August, September, and November.

Never build your house at the end of a cul-de-sac, or "dead end" road.

The number of steps on a staircase should not be in multiples of three. Count off the steps as oro (gold), plata (silver), and mata (death). The last step must not fall on mata.

Always move into a new house on a Wednesday or Saturday.

When moving into a new home, scatter coins in the living room so prosperity will reign.

Bees found inside the house will bring fortune and good luck to its occupants.

If you want to rid your house of bedbugs (fleas), place some on a piece of paper then leave them in someone else's house. The bedbugs will move to that house.

If you wish to rid your home of unwanted visitors, secretly sprinkle salt around the house and they will soon depart.
Click HERE for the source of the latter.

I've never been a believer of such thus finding the comb was very funny for me. Oh well, they say mothers know best and being the good (cough) daughter that I am, I only heeded my mom's advice.

22 September, 2008

The Senate is "Out of Order!"

I was watching the news earlier while having dinner when I heard something that made me snap my head towards the direction of our television.

The news was about Cayetano & Lacson's infamous spat with regard to Pro-Villar Senators trying to block Lacson's speech. The moment Cayetano finished speaking, someone bellowed that Cayetano should not be listened to because "THE SENATOR IS OUT OF ORDER!"

What?! OUT OF ORDER? I was concentrating on my meal that I wasn't able to see who among the senators said this. When I riveted my attention to the TV screen, it only showed Cayetano in a podium.

I tried digesting the out of order bellow but I really couldn't make sense of it. I snorted laughing. I was amused to no end.

OUT OF ORDER?! What is he? A rest room that goes out of order? Or a machine? A photocopier, perhaps?

Geez. The endless bickering in the Senate can be appalling. Maybe it is the Senate that is OUT OF ORDER, huh.

No wonder this country is going down the drain.

Can I what?!

Here's a funny phone call I got earlier.
Caller: Hi. I finally got hold of your room rates via e-mail.

Me: And how may I help you, ma'am?

Caller: I was just wondering. How much is your Junior Two Bedroom Suite?

Me: (thinking) I thought she already has the room rates with her?!

Ma'am, it's USD380nett per room per night, inclusive of taxes and service charge.

Caller: I see. Can you compute me, then? I will stay for two (2) nights.

Me: (after doing the computations). Ma'am, it's USD760nett for a two-night stay.
After the guest was done with her reservations and I had recapped her reservation details AND the computation (for the nth time), we bid each other goodbye.

"Phew!" A very relieved me sighed in relief.

"Can you compute me?" Okay, what are your vital statistics so I may total them up? LOL.

I'm not good at numbers. I've never been. They're actually my waterloo and the mere sight of them makes my head spin, especially if they involve algebraic expressions. But to actually encounter someone who cannot seem to "compute (it) herself" boggles my mind. It's mere addition, right?

Oh well.

Over the Hedge

I watched this movie just this weekend. It is about RJ, a wily and self-serving raccoon who, after his unsuccessful attempt of stealing from Vincent the Bear promised to return it to him in a week. Desperate as it his life that’s hanging on the line, RJ ventured out and came to El Rancho Camelot Estates where he met a group of foragers. He then did his damnedest to charm them into stealing food from people who live over the hedge, with these foragers thinking that they were doing the stealing so as to store food when in fact, it was to replace the items that RJ had stolen from Vincent.
The movie was an unexpected surprise and in some scenes, I did not know whether to hate Vincent for his treachery or to love him for his “brilliant” ideas and funny antics to get his hands on what he wants. He was just so amusing!

The entire cast was just as riveting. There’s Verne, the box turtle who was suspicious of RJ’s ulterior motive from the start, Stella the perennially single skunk who would “settle down” if and when she would find a man who did not have a sense of smell (LOL at this one), Hammy the hyperactive squirrel, Ozzie the opossum who’s the master at playing dead and who had a cynic for a daughter named Heather and a whole family of adorable porcupines named Lou, Penny, Spike, Bucky and Quillo.

The “human” characters were just as funny – there’s Gladys Sharp, the neurotic homeowners association president of El Rancho Camelot Estates and the somewhat dumb verminator named Dwayne LaFontant.

The lines are witty and funny, the songs apt and just as meaningful that I was totally riveted. Beneath the laughs though are the more important lessons on family, man’s incessant and insatiable wants (consumerism) and the repercussions to the environment that “development” brings.

This is now officially one of my favorite animated movies.

19 September, 2008

Butterfly Garden - Palawan

After touring the Crocodile Farm, we went to the Butterfly Garden and it was a short but still enjoyable tour.

Before the tour started, a simple talk was conducted but the place was crowded with tourists that I decided to just take some pics. Anyway, the tour guide was discussing about a butterfly's life cycle and I already knew about them as this was discussed in my elementary and high school science lessons.

I love butterflies. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination with them. It was thus a wonder to be very near them, to closely watch them flit from one flower to another in all their colorful glory.

I even saw pink and blue butterflies but they were the ones who were very elusive. The black and white butterflies were the easiest to photograph as they did not seem to mind being very near humans. The others though would fly at the slightest human movement.

The farm had limited flora though. But I got fascinated with some flowers so I snapped their pics.

I also got fascinated with their "home" when they were about to populate. It's the pic below. Interesting.

All in all, it was a pretty laid back but still fun tour.