16 July 2018

Breakfast at Portabaga Falls, Santa Praxedes

Everything extremely fresh: sautéed-yet-tender eggplant, a fried egg (the way I like it the few times I have it––devoid of runniness), with tomatoes that were slightly tart and not savory.
Along the 5+ hour drive from Tuguegarao to the Santa Praxedes multipurpose hall (basketball court), we stopped at Portabaga Falls for a government-sponsored breakfast

It turned out to be a "pescetarian" spread––fried eggplant topped with those bright red northerly tomatoes, fried eggs, and some small fried fish (dilis). Literally a lighter, coastal version of the heavy meat-centric rice-and-beef versions that are usually available along the roadsides in the province. Save for the fish, everything was probably a tinge less savory than one would expect, but that is always remedied by the available sawsawan (this time it was soy sauce with vinegar).

Chafing dishes lined up for the buffet-style breakfast.
Eggplant with tomatoes, dilis, and more tomatoes.
Portabaga Falls and its pools. We didn't take a dip––it was way too cold.

19 June 2018

Tuguegarao Tricycles

There are cool things about Tuguegarao, but air quality isn't one of them. As previously mentioned, your lungs won't be particularly happy in the city. It seems as though all the outlawed two-strokes of the Philippines were sent there to die. In general, one of the most hostile-to-pedestrians small cities in the country. 

A typical Tuguegarao tricycle.

The milky smoke from two-stroke tricycles.

09 June 2018

Signs of Indian Life in Tuguegarao

There seem to be a few shops owned by Indians in downtown Tuguegarao. There is also an Indian food delivery service.

Tuguegarao Bombay Bazaar
Lachmi Department Store

06 June 2018

Tuguegarao Improvisations

I realized I hadn't been to an entirely new place in a long time.

I had been traveling, but to the same places all the time, and not really documenting anything, sometimes just going to the same spots everyday and watching the sunset. Going deep and getting accustomed and being pensive and actually a bit reclusive. Call it... Getting old? Not having a smartphone? Living in these times? Recent political events had left me feeling mentally dulled. As time passed, though, things remained consistently absurd enough to turn almost interesting, and I started taking photos again and poking my nose around like I used to.

Tuguegarao was a brief trip in March. I felt pretty much like my old self. It was the "entirely new place" thing, I believe.

Tuguegarao is a city neglected by its government. It is infested with cars and tricycles, and being a pedestrian is pretty tough. But its people are some of the nicest, and they've managed to shape their lives around an unplanned, vehicle-centric situation. Walking around is something of a healthy hazard (that's coming from a perpetually smog-enveloped Manileña), but during off-hours it's not so bad.

Anyway here are a couple of small things from there:

Repurposed plastic container tricycle accessory.
A bat sticker.
A cloth cover for exposed pipes.

Plastic cup inserts for holes on a gutter cover. Maybe things kept falling inside? Maybe it smelled bad?

05 January 2018

Ambulant Clam Vendor

A dude claimed to be selling abalones and scallops from San Narciso, Quezon. He hyped us up so hard that I forgot for a moment how actual abalones looked, and that scallop shells are, well, scalloped.

We ended up buying some "just for the experience" (I don't even eat the stuff, but I made abalone porridge with the non-abalones), and the guy shuffled away to his Korean restaurant suki. I suppose they are well aware what these clams are. I will update this post if I get to identify them.

Despite the misinformation, I am nonetheless pleased at this free agent making his way through our urban capillaries and hawking rural goods.

"Abalone" and "scallops". Check that wooden carrying stick though.

Cool how the net bag bunches up when he pulls the string to hang it back up!

03 January 2018

Backyard Farm Tobacco

Filipinos are lucky to have access to tobacco leaves in remarkably raw form. As in: whole leaves, recently harvested, then cured or dried. I am neither a smoker nor a chewer of the leaf, but I happen to be a compulsive buyer, because I am in awe at their limp, leathery goodness. As I have tried smoking a fat stick of chewing tobacco, and because I have recently heard (so it is still hearsay actually) that they are two separate types of tobacco planted here (and that you cannot smoke the chewing sort), I am motivated to pry more, and will do so in the following weeks.

Anyway, Siquijor Island has only one man growing tobacco. He sells it to smokers and to healers, who use it for rituals. He maintains the field next to his house and one nearby, and air-dries them by his front porch. He also tried to sell me large seashells.

A porch drying area, with a small workspace for this one-man operation.
The house, as seen from the street.
Everything is religious on this island.
Waste tobacco.
The farmer unties a sack of his cured / dried leaf stash.
Fresh leaves, just harvested and ready for hanging.

25 June 2017

In Gentrifying Poblacion

Yep, I'm still here.

When I first moved to Poblacion three years ago, everything felt exciting. It was gritty, which I like. I know, I know. I was probably part of the initial wave of gentrifiers to settle in.

People have gone from raising their eyebrows at me (and saying a small prayer for my safety and wellbeing) to asking me to give them "Poblacion food tours". And I still enjoy living here, but am riding this emotionally confusing wave of being able to walk to a good cafe, seeing many friends all the time, dodging cars of youthful Instagrammers on their way to whatever loud party of the night, and witnessing old (admittedly mostly crappy) structures give way to nondescript buildings. With the zoning laws of Poblacion just revised to accommodate buildings above five floors, everyone is cashing in. It makes money sense to build and then wait until this last patch of neighborhood gets devoured by Rockwellesque development or the dormant glossiness of the Century Mall area.

Nonetheless, I'm still immensely grateful for / endlessly entertained by living in a non-gated, relatively safe, walkable area in Manila (a rarity) which still gets together to build its neighborhood float for the Holy Week fiesta. The religious icons used are passed down among "old" families and lent to the neighborhood folk for decoration and parading. Some are more than a hundred years old!

Also, our barangay marching band is unparalleled, probably because we do have loads of fiestas. One was supposed to happen today on the Pasig river, but was cancelled due to an abundance of water hyacinths.

Neighbors deciding what flowers to put on the float. 
More flowers.

Our street float, with La Casita Mercedes in the background.

18 November 2015


At the Poblacion market, a rocking chair frame with an office chair body. Lhazybhoi?

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