25 September 2008

Arranging Bills

A conductor, counting money.

I really love how drivers and conductors on buses and jeepneys arrange their bills. They fold each bill in half (lengthwise) and arrange them by denomination. They thread the whole bunch through their middle finger, so it looks like a fan. Pretty.

Practical, too. Because the bill is folded, it is easier to identify and pull out. Because it is nakaipit, it can be extracted smoothly and quickly. I'm such a fan of the folded approach that I arrange my money like that, in my wallet, which is really a small coin purse.

A jeepney driver with the munniez.

24 September 2008

Makeshift Muscles

Gym in front of the garage.

In a small-yet-pricey Makati subdivision, someone has set up a homemade gym. I assume a driver owns it because it is by the cars. And no one living there would be caught dead using such a charming health facility. I know, I know, I'm generalizing.

Improvisation: salvaged wood, a metal bar, two cement-filled milk tins.

23 September 2008


I was hired to take photos of certain mascots doing a promotional mall tour. While not snapping the more endearing, smiley moments, I am amused by the substantial amount of children who do not actually like mascots.

There is a certain age. It is between when a child is too young to even decide that the mascot is supposed to resemble a person or animal, and the age when they begin to overdose on cartoons.

I don't blame them. It's like being in the Giant World in Super Mario, without ever having played the game. After spending lots of time with mascots, I've decided that they are pretty unsettling.

Is the time of the mascot passing? When will we begin to be creeped out by the large, gleaming eyes, plastered smile, unfeeling face?

Will it soon join other human creations in the attic that are irrelevant? Clowns, for instance, are relics of the past. They come from pre-stimulus-overload times when painting your face white, wearing colorful clothes, and a red ball on your nose, was so mind-blowing that it actually made people laugh.

22 September 2008

Almond Jelly Soothes the Belly

Their jelly is great, and comes with ice and a cherry, like a fancy sago drink.

I don't have a clue what almond jelly is made of. Are there real almonds in it at all? Hmm. I don't know, but at certain times of the day, I really don't care.

Chinese food is always nice after drinking. You can always get vegetables. The dishes are oily enough to soothe your stomach, not as heavy as Western food, and always tasty. Furthermore, Chinese places area always bright and snap you back into reality.

Thank you, Hap Chan, for providing reliable garlic-filled meals during ungodly hours of the morning.

Hap Chan Neptune Branch
103 Neptune Street, Bel Air Village
Makati City
(+632) 895-9340
(I have no idea how to get here by myself, sorry I can't give directions)

17 September 2008

All That He Owns

A house right by the river. Furnished with a mat, a pillow,

a deluxe kitchen stove,

and some firewood.

16 September 2008

Pasig Fishing

The universal male chillingest activity.

A few steps away from tony Rockwell is the part of Pasig River that flows through Guadalupe Viejo. A welcome change from the conceptual stores and plastered sales smiles is the company of a bunch of men who are looking to catch hito, dalag, and tilapia from the murky waters of the once-mighty ilog.

Moral support.

"But I thought this river was dead?", I asked. A chorus of protests ensued. Just the other day, said one of the men, he caught a 4-kilo hito here. This is where dinner comes from, everyday. I nodded and noticed how the once-unbearable stench of Pasig River had mellowed to a faint, disagreeable smell.

A predator threads his hook with some prey for a predator that is his prey.

Healthy pink worms!

They breed the earthworms in broken, plugged up sinks, filled with moist soil and dead leaves. They thread these on hooks and cast them close, reeling in when barges pass and create waves in their wake.

A passing barge gets heckled by my companions. Some kids jump in to swim after it.

Human beings traditionally settled along waterways for their advantages of trade, mobility, leisure, easy laundry, and food. These days, only the brave acquire the latter three from it. One would particularly cringe at the idea of eating fish that feed on the refuse of industry, households, and the human body.

But really, this is how food is supposed to be-- free, and, if possible, acquired along with some serious bonding and companionship. A place where pollution makes this impossible (or unacceptable) is no place to live at all. Here, in the heart of dirty, crusty, smoky Manila, live the last hunters of the metropolis.

What's your name and will you be back?

10 September 2008

Chariya's Thai Kitchen

Thai halo-halo, with coconut milk, those wormy things, and jackfruit.

If you ever find yourself wandering along Nicanor Garcia St. (more commonly known by its former name, Reposo), walk down a bit further than the galleries. Cross over Kalayaan St., and you'll stumble upon a small restaurant that will satisfy your tri-color curry cravings.

Red chicken curry with very little veggies in it.

Chariya's just opened last August 31st and is probably looking to replicate the buzz generated a few years ago by Som's Noodle House, a then-great Thai-on-the-cheap "secret" of Makati. While the food is definitely not the best Thai out there, it's reasonably tasty and a good departure from grilleries and Italian restaurants in the less central areas of Makati. I wonder if this was the same Chariya's from 168 Shopping Mall?

Long live King Bhumibol, past tense of Bhumibibol.

The place is clean, with very pale yellow walls adorned by pictures of beloved Thai king. The servers, of course, wear yellow. The tables are, thankfully, not (entirely) yellow, but made of tile with patterns on them. Live sweet basil plants sit on the end of each, and we munched on their leaves. Remember that you must leave 80% of any plant intact, so don't get carried away.

Patterns on the table.

The selection of "Simply Delicious Thai's Foods".

The menu is nothing different, with regular things like red-green-yellow curry, spring rolls, the coconut-milk-based desserts, and salads.

Yellow vegetable curry.

The menu is nothing different, with regular things like red-green-yellow curry, spring rolls, the coconut-milk-based desserts, and salads.

Chariya's Thai Kitchen
Nicanor Garcia St., Makati City
MRT Station: Buendia
Walk or take a jeep along Gil Puyat Ave. (formerly Buendia)
Take a right at Nicanor Garcia St. (formerly Reposo)
Keep walking past St. Andrew's Church
Cross Kalayaan, pass Cafe Maestro and Cucina Reposo

09 September 2008

Tofu "Sandwiches"

The tofu thingies with some corn soup (and squid there in the back for the seafood eaters in the family).

What to do with tokwa (or tao kwa, if you are Thai)? This pressed soy cake has less moisture (and is therefore drier and firmer) than other forms of tofu. It is also way cheaper.

Usually, a little bit of crunch or flavor sets it up for me. When it's extremely crunchy and cooked through, I can eat it without sauce. It's a good substitute for meat in dishes. And also, it's a good substitute for fake meat that is substituted for meat in dishes. (Fake meat sucks!)

Earlier this week we were supposed to do the whole simple tofu-balsamic vinegar thing, but the lure of the garden lured. After some foraging, I came in and made a paste of lemongrass, garlic, and guava in the dikdikan and cooked it over low heat with a bit of mascobado sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Guava season! Peeling, before removing the seeds of this small sucka.

Meanwhile, I sliced each cake of tokwa in half. I fried them until they were adequately brown and slightly crispy. I laid these out like small sandwiches and spread the lemongrass paste on them. I then laid several leaves of kulitis on, and covered with the other half of tokwa.

It is okay to play with your food before serving it.

And on top went some malunggay leaves, arranged like a little flower. The rest of the paste went on in similarly dotty fashion. In the end, I took the oil from cooking the paste, mixed it with more soy sauce, and drizzled it on top. Drizzled sounds fancy, no?

My brother said it was a bit too garlicky for his tastes. I, on the other hand, am a screaming fan of garlic. I wish I made more paste, and just slathered the whole thing with flavor.

Half A Pig

Near the markets, you see meat in pre-retail cuts. Look below, it's an actual, real-life cross-section of a pig. These days animals are manufactured, just like things.

08 September 2008


Facing highways and public walkways you can see shanty areas with suspicious-looking "walls". These are built by the MMDA and painted to make shacks seem like they are not made from scrap material.

Best wall forward, facing Recto walkway between LRT1 and LRT2.

Does it not remind us of when certain leaders used to paint dead grass green when foreign dignitaries would arrive?

There is a fine line between operating within the broken-windows theory and being absurd and desperate.

05 September 2008

On The Road Again (Leaving Things Behind)

Just a bit of personal thinking.

Tomorrow early morning (or tonight, depending on information I receive today), I will hit the road again. A bus ride will begin another month or so of moving around again, of many smaller trips, instead of one long journey.

During the years that I spend a significant fraction of my time away, returning home seems like a dream.

For the most part, I feel alienated. Not from people, but from the things I own. After a backpack is my "house" for a few months, my material possessions back home become unnecessary burdens, clutter.

My room seems to me like a bizarre collection of objects, only a small fraction of which are really tools for better living. My clothes seem frivolous, evidence of this period of mass production that allows people enough garb to each cushion the fall of a small and doomed aircraft. My books seem lame collections of others' experiences, greatly inferior to living in the present, making life an experiment, and feeling alive.

Even my collection of rocks and seeds look dead inside my walls, deserving instead to be outside and in circulation-- being weathered by the weather, growing, decomposing.

When I "try" an object-- hold it up to the light and ask "Should I chuck this?"-- I rationalize I need it, so-and-so gave it to me, etc. But I lose them all together now, and I won't be a bit sad. Maybe I should invite a group of able looters to my place and give them 20 seconds to work on it.

Before the year ends, I'll be free of the unnecessaries. Screw things. ¡Viva la tortuga!

Cephalopod Gallantry

01 September 2008

More Mushroom Siomai

They're not very big. They are dwarfed by this rather large calamansi.

Yes, we are seeing a trend here. Might is snowball into the next Zagu craze or shawarma wave? Maybe not, but it's worth continuing on the mushroom path.

I just spotted another mushroom siomai booth, this time at the AANI Weekend Market at FTI. This was a healthier version, being steamed and more mushroom-y in flavor.

Twenty pesos for five pieces, not bad at all.

Who knows?

The same stall also distributes Golden Cucinero Homemade Products. And if you might just remember that you need one while waiting for your siomai, you can buy a "ballpen" here for 10 pesos.

(Like the other AANI Market, this one is decidedly down-to-earth. I'm currently having a little internal rebellion against the "upscale" Makati markets, because often the sellers are very disconnected to their raw materials, and sometimes sell them at disproportionately high prices. Admittedly, I sell at one of them. :p)

You also see here an abundance of Filipino food, Filipino ingredients, interesting plants and fruit trees, and more of those "inventors" so neglected by our government.

Golden Cucinero Homemade Products (Distributor)
AANI Weekend Market
FTI Complex, Taguig City
Scroll down on this page and there are driving directions,
since I don't know how to komyut going there.

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