Rainy Day

Mario is visiting the country and although he is not passing by our neighborhood, we can feel his strong presence tremendously.

Mario is not handsome nor famous. In fact, everyone seems to hate him and wants him out of the country right now. Still, he lingers and we can’t do anything about it. He calls the shots and we’re helpless.

Mario is the 13th (?) tropical depression to hit the country this year. Classes in all levels and office work have been suspended in several areas following last night’s and this morning’s non-stop rains.

I woke up to the news that Metro Manila is flooded. In the suburb where we live, some 1,000 meters above sea level, some streets are submerged in flashfloods. That means no going to the market or the grocery. We’re stranded in the house with nothing in the freezer but an already opened pack of bacon and Sam’s vege-meat. We also have eggs and a can of luncheon meat. They will do until the flashfloods subside and we can drive to the market. [Read more...]

Lemon Day

One afternoon in Boracay, one of those times when the wind was blowing and I just knew that a downpour would follow, while the rest of the group was frolicking in the sea, I was having one of those what-have-we-done-with-our-lives talks with a friend. I was telling her that illness does not scare me, except Alzheimer’s disease. Of course I’m decades away from that age to seriously entertain the thought… but it’s there. The thought of not being in control of my mind is horror beyond imagination. I sometimes tease my kids about it using “variations”. Last time it was, “What if I wake up one day with amnesia and have totally forgotten how to cook?” Sam, never at a loss for smart answers, replied, “Isn’t that what your blog is for? So you can just follow what you wrote?”

lemon-dayMy friend is scared of the same thing (I’m not alone with strange fears). I told her that I deal with it by treating the brain as a muscle like any other. It needs to be active and it needs exercise. So, I exercise my brain everyday in every way that I can; mostly, by learning new things.

My rule is to learn at least one new thing each day. It doesn’t matter what. Last night and earlier today, it was creating a new logo using Photoshop commands I had never used before. When I was satisfied, I moved on to lemons. How to make limoncello with lemon zest and what to do with the fruits’ flesh afterward.

lemon-day2I love limoncello but good limoncello is pricey. There are cheaper brands but they are so watery that it feels like throwing away money. So, I thought I’d learn to make limoncello. After all, how hard can it be? Alcohol, lemons and sugar… the thing to learn was the how.

I searched the web, found at least six different techniques then decided to start with the most straightforward. Cut off the lemon zest with a vegetable peeler, drop into a bottle of vodka, screw on the cap tightly and leave in a cool, dark place for a week or two. After the soaking period, the vodka will be strained, simple syrup will be added, and voila! Limoncello. Of course, I haven’t gotten to the straining part yet. That’s still a week or two into the future. In seven days, I will strain half of the vodka, add simple syrup and taste the limoncello. After another seven days, I will strain the remaining half of the vodka, add simple syrup and taste. Then, I will compare if the additional seven days of soaking lemon zest in vodka makes a marked difference.

And the fruit flesh…? [Read more...]

On ballgowns and the history of the toilet

Having been raised in a generation when Barbara Cartland was standard reading for teens and pre-teens, I spent many days and nights dreaming about ballgowns and jewelry, and Prince Charming. European-style, of course, having been influenced by Barbara Cartland. It was a phase I quickly outgrew after discovering that Perry Mason books were a lot more exciting than Barbara Cartland novels. Still, I loved visualizing pretty gowns, matching hats and gloves, horse-drawn carriages and waltzes. How I made the images fit in with Perry Mason, I cannot recall.

I still smile to myself when I remember those days. And I am constantly reminded of those fantasies with the oh-so-many quizzes I come across on Facebook about things like what era do you really belong to. Although I still adore watching period films with those gorgeous costumes (the photo above is a screen grab from “Belle”), I no longer have fantasies of living in the Tudor Age or even in Marie Antoinette’s Versailles.

It has nothing to do with feminism; it has everything to do with the toilet. If some kind of science-defying act will allow me to sample life in the past, I will choose an era after 1850 when the flush toilet came to widespread use. No latrines and chamber pots for me, thank you.

Japanese Spaghetti


Who’d have thought that fish roe and cream could taste so good together?

Seisha Coffee


Had to register a business name at the local DTI office. There was a queue so we decided to kill time at the cafe on the ground floor of the building.

Seisha Coffee is probably the oldest and most decent cafe in Antipolo. Sadly, the cappuccino didn’t look nor taste like it was made with espresso.

Don’t forget to pinch the flowers

The moment I saw the flowers, I had to take photos. And I knew I was taking photos so I could post them on my blog. But which one? And what should be the context?

The most obvious choice was to post them in the home and garden blog. After all, there is a home gardening section there. Plus, there is a post on how to grow and propagate mint where it says pinch the flowers to encourage the plant to grow more leaves. Photos of the flowers of the mint would have been a great addendum, but… Why repeat what I’ve already said in a previous post? The web is already too full of shares, retweets, reblogs and aggregated content. [Read more...]

Yesterday was about clothes and food

First, shopping. Vida Doria. Love her stuff. Timeless.

Traffic was so bad on the way home and I was so hungry I felt a bad headache coming.

We stopped and ate. A lot. At Yang Chow Teahouse. Clam and tofu soup, yang chow rice and sweet and sour pork. My tummy was happy.

We went home.

On Twitter, Instagram and hashtags

I’m no fan of Twitter. I don’t like Twitter for the same reason I couldn’t swallow the Tumblr culture — I don’t like regurgitated content. I’ve always seen Twitter and Tumblr as playgrounds for people with no original ideas, incapable of publishing original content and they’re only good at repeating what they have seen and read.

Repetition, the embryo of virality. I know. But the power of viral content is its downfall too. Viral is not equal to valid; popularity is not the same as substance. Most people who share links, for instance, don’t even bother checking the truthfulness of the content in the linked articles. Some of the most shared articles in 2013 were, in fact, hoaxes. But that didn’t prevent them from being passed around, with matching wide eyes, bated breath and sense of urgency, as though they really happened.

Laziness? Stupidity? Both? Doesn’t matter. The end result is the same. Pathetic.


And hashtags? I cringe at tweets with a gazillion hashtags appended to it.

The hashtag-happy people are all over Instagram too. Twenty hashtags for a selfie? Unbelievable. Hashtags were invented to organize web content, not turn the web into a slum.

Does that make me a snob? Maybe. But it could be worse. I could be a nasty snob.

Sleeping with a minor can land you in prison despite what clueless lawmakers say

In the US, it’s called statutory rape. In the Philippines, it’s called seduction. Both refer to the same thing — having sexual relations with a minor, with or without the minor’s consent. All the discussion, online and off, about the topic has, of course, been triggered by the romance of singer Freddie Aguilar, 60, with a 16-year-old girl.

From a legal standpoint, lawyer Mel Sta. Maria got it right — Aguilar’s actions may have legal consequences based on the Article 338 of the Revised Penal Code and under Section 10 (b) of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”.

First, the Revised Penal Code:

Art. 338. Simple seduction. — The seduction of a woman who is single or a widow of good reputation, over twelve but under eighteen years of age, committed by means of deceit, shall be punished by arresto mayor.

“Deceit” has a very wide definition. Fraud is only one kind of deceit. Taking advantage of a young person through pambobola, enticing a poor person with promises of wealth or a life of comfort, making misrepresentations about one’s true intentions are examples of deceit.

Is there deception in the relationship of Freddie Aguilar with his 16-year-old girlfriend? We don’t know. Even the girl probably doesn’t know. And that’s just the first problem. [Read more...]