08 April 2014

Coco Martin on Cardboard

Found in the Dauin public market, on a hot day while looking for some provisions and drinks.

Coco Martin is an actor who is famous for being a handsome young guy who is really nice to his grandmother, as well as capable of speaking in a fairly dignified and non-mangled form of Tagalog. Among other things, I suppose.

12 August 2013

The Movable Sabbath

I've been quite busy in the past few months. Thanks for the emails. I've been ever the itinerant, and only of recent have been united with my laptop. Enough to post one or two things, hopefully more...

I'd traveled to Dipolog recently. The city is small, clean, relaxed, and has an unusually low population. Trade is far from brisk, because of the transportation situation. There is an airport in the area, but shipping is another thing altogether. The place does not seem to have a lot of local crafts-- many of the goods are sourced from Bohol.

There are no taxis in Dipolog. Everyone gets around by walking, riding jeeps or private vehicles, or taking tricycles. The tricycles are inexpensive. Ten pesos gets you from the airport into town, and twenty pesos to the airport (under the assumption that they will not have any human cargo going back into the center).

Also cute, is that they list their "days off" on the back of their tricycles. This is presumably to regulate the amount of traffic. Another possibility is to keep tricycle-driving viable. In the absence of a scientific method to analyze population-to-tricycle ratios (and with cab drivers in Davao complaining about the glut of cabs that basically makes a lot of them sit around, passenger-less all day) this might be a good idea.

Other cities like Dumaguete have proposed (and tried, and failed) color-coding their tricycles for easy identification of those that should not be on the road.

In Dipolog, the days off are painted on the back of the passenger chamber of the tricycles, together with the tricycle's registration number and the sentence "Keep Dipolog clean".

29 July 2013

The Giant Bear of Batac

The city of Batac, Ilocos Norte, has a giant teddy bear near their city hall. It has gone from being a sort of Santa Claus Christmas decor to an orange bear to this version, taken months ago, in pale wrapping paper. The "message heart" contains message upon message. Better than the Koons dog, in my opinion.

26 December 2012

Melaka Folk Typography

Not the Greek restaurant.

According to Google Translate, this means "Patience and perseverance / The success".

A majong shop!

18 October 2012

Secretly Recreational Jamu Drinking

Don't let the froth fool you...
Drinking jamu can hardly be classified as recreational. But then again, how often do we twenty-first century humans subject ourselves to slightly unpleasant experiences for the sake of our long-term benefits? It's like getting a tattoo. Your happiness is mutilated for a few minutes but you soon feel like getting another that is even more hardcore ugly-tasting.

Jamu is a blanket term for Indonesian medicinal formulations. We were hunting down some idli recently in Melaka when we spotted a makeshift stall apparently selling refreshments. We perused the little packets in a plastic bin and saw photographs and illustrations denoting ailments addressed or positive endstates after drinking some jamu.

Left, we concluded it was a woman with an aching back and not a rape scene. Right, virility via dried seahorse.
Aside from being an "unintentionally funny funny" enthusiast's dream, the packets symbolize something a phenomenon that evades many "developing country" cultures (save for India and a few more maybe?)-- the mass-marketing of "indigenous health products".

The jamu lady, dispenser of health and beautifying Indonesian products for immigrants.
From the smoky room of an herbalista or albolaryo (our local Filipino blanket terms for people who deal with leaves-as-medicine, or pigs' blood smearing-- yes, we lump them together) to an easily-distributed packet that can be sold anywhere and served by anyone with a few ingredients and a wire whisk. You wonder about the journey. This article describes fresh jamu in a wet market setting. I imagine a succeeding phase of commerce, of jamu propagated through market stalls of loose dried herbs and home-repacked plastic bags of powders, like you see in places like Quiapo.

A jamu packet for every need. Boxes are cut halfway to display the different types.
But this sachet-ization of jamu is something else. The just-add-water state is the easiest path to third-world domination (Nescafe, yes?). It has been attempted by energy drinks locally to limit transport, storage, and spoilage costs.

Powdered energy drinks and a jug of purified water, Manila streets.
All you need.
You begin by selecting the packet you like. If you can't read Indonesian, you can base it on the packet art, but sometimes that can be ambiguous, e.g.:

Be the strongest shadow-puppet on the block.
The lady at the jamu stall helped us select suitable packets, to do with virility and being a nice-looking female with shiny hair. She cut them open, emptied the earth-colored powders into a blender.

The biodiversity-reflecting muck that is jamu.
A kampung egg with a marvelously orange yolk.
Afterwards, she added a raw kampung (village, or non-industrial) egg yolk. Before you judge, raw egg yolks are, like, an original superfood, as long as they're "native" or backyard, with deep-colored yolks. Remember Disney's Gaston? Yes, from Davao to Romania, tales abound of grandmothers mixing egg yolks into great-tasting things like wine, sarsaparilla, and hot chocolate. But in jamu? You can't tell which bad taste is trying to mask which, apparently (I skipped it).

Mystery fermented syrup.
Then follow two kinds of fermented syrup, which were blessings, really. The lady topped it off with some hot water and ran the blender. It is worth noting that most of herbs and spices were obviously not water-soluble, so the beverage was a little grainy, like consuming a well-spiced German Christmas cookie without flour or butter.

It is also worth noting that I felt exceptionally great and bright-eyed the whole day despite all the eating that had taken place against my better judgement. Which leads me to conclude that megadoses of pleasure deserve megadoses of displeasure, which are in turn perversely pleasurable.

Want some jamu with those raw eggs, Gaston?

Cupholder. Now How?

Malaysian drink hanger, v. wire and screws.

Although I find it a terribly unsettling idea to put hot beverages in plastic bags, I also find it nice that we still live in a world where cupholders are just one kind of in-car beverage-resting thing.

29 September 2012

Melaka Dentist Signage Norms

Digital photo stickers of possible dentures.
Dental staff eats lunch in the background.

Say hoi! More digital photos of dentures and messed up teeth.
Handpainted dentures. Being young, I am frightened by screws in the mouth.

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