25 January 2010

Salinity: High

R's plate: salted egg, a relish of onions, tomatoes, and bagoong, seaweed salad, local sitao, and the malaga fish.

One thing that drives me mad about being outside Manila is the salty food. Whereas, native residents may be drinking or eating something that just about cancels the ill effects out, I tend not to know what that is (I tried more water, really), and I end up feeling parched.

Sinigang na malaga with the curiously non-hot local green peppers.

Batac longanisa, a bit sweeter than the one from Paoay, but still loads of vinegar.

Though sometimes they can be overzealous in their use of local salt and bagoong, Ilocanos make dishes that are always top-notch, if you add a bit of water when no one is looking. And besides, very few cuisines in the Philippines can rival small-town Ilocos' freshness and high vegetable ratio.

Pinakbet with local sitao and small sigarillas.

In the larger Laoag market's second floor, the vegetables tend towards Chinese imports (you know, large carrots, cabbage, galic, onions) used in making the ubiquitous, gag-worthy chop suey. However, a short ride away to the smaller markets of Batac and Paoay, and you can find local sitao (two varieties-- the straight, bush sort and the longer one, which is still straighter, smaller and deeper green than what I am used to), rabanos, katuray, and many more of the region's unique produce. I'll be back in a few weeks with a better constitution and more time to poke around, so stay tuned.

Ginisang gulay and a salad of seaweed and tomatoes.

That relish, up front, is the famous KBL or kamatis, bagoong and lasona (local red onions).

20 January 2010

Push The Button 2 Stop

An old doorbell against faux wood and plastic leather.

Spaceship jeepney. Button was non-functional.

A US flag motif up front.

Some guy's shirt: "Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question, yes is the answer."

Tropical Snowballs

To melt mid-air.

My first encounter of snow, during a visit to Lake Tahoe when I was 11 years old, was a huge disappointment. Heartbreaking, even. Thanks to cheesy American greeting cards and cartoons, I had expected fluffy, cotton candy-like material that I could collapse into and lay in for happy hours on end. Instead, snow was cold, and, later into the day, it was wet. My clothes were soaking, and besides, we saw tracks of a very large feline, so I made my way back into the car.

And what of my first snowball fight before the retreat? It was pretty similar to the ones we had back here, by scraping the ice off the walls of the freezer, and shaping those into little balls before they melted on contact with the tropical air.

Ice shaving machine.

And how to replicate without a freezer? The ice shaving machines for making cool summer treats like halo-halo (every barangay has one).

I can never resist a group of huddled children. They are always onto something good.


11 January 2010

Improvised Transportation

A motorized sidecar with an automobile's steering wheel.

This is the Philippines! Our famous jeepneys were born out of improvisation, and continue to harbor so many possibilities for customization and tweaking. The land of stuff like that and homemade skateboards and such also has very cool "enhanced" bicycles in its inner life of warehouses, cheap bagsakans and ports.

Overloading? What is that?

Notice that every area has different standard designs. The above for the warehousing district, while the "reseller haven" Divisoria has room for passengers (owners of sari-sari stores and businesses), but the standard pedicab chairs are elevated for cargo storage under. The photo below is a repost.)

The Divi pedicabs. No more goods-in-your-face squeezing into the passenger compartment.

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