27 February 2009

Larong Goma

The underdog is evident as their band collections are wrapped around the top of their palms.

Quezon again. We chanced upon these kids playing a game with goma (rubber bands) on a flat piece of plywood outside their home. It is like the goma version of pick-up sticks! It is interesting to watch children go about a game, not speaking and with ease. The proportions of their paraphernalia are suited to their size, and they show a dexterity that has not the grace of older ladies. There's a video at the bottom that's worth a peek at.

Setting up one bunch, with equal contributions of rubber bands from both parties.

Setting up a second batch so they could go right in after the first round.

After palming the bunch (to make sure the bands are firm into each other for a challenge), they get right on to flicking the bands off.

Whichever bands get separated from the bunch can be kept by the flicker.

The undisputed queen of larong goma.

Such a beautiful and intimidating way to keep the heads you hunt.

26 February 2009

Takatak Boys

The "takatak boys" are called onomatopoeically such because they have noisemakers in their selling boxes. These noisemakers allow them to make their presence known to the motoring (or walking) public.

If you check the video below out, you will notice that the takatak man is manipulating a pretty well-made component. Another version I've seen involves a piece of wood held down by rubber to the side of the selling box. The boys have to lift it up with their fingers and thwap it.

I mentioned them briefly here and am pretty hopeful that in the future they start selling things that I actually consume.

25 February 2009

Balo-Balo Experiment

A heap of the potato-balo-balo mash with some veggies.

Following my Quite General Pinoy Fermentation Post, I decided to act upon my idea that balo-balo, Capampangan fermented rice with fish or freshwater shrimp, has a tart cheesy taste that will work well with making certain people eat their vegetables.

So I made a thickish mash using lots of garlic, coconut milk and potatoes (this would be great in a moussaka), and added the rice part of balo-balo (I don't eat the seafood part, but I like the rice!). This resulted in a mash that we scooped over our vegetables, which were a sauteed mixture of sigarillas, pako fern, and the astringent blossoms of banana.

Just the vegetables.

While it is a good combination for layering, or as slathering material, the potato makes it too thick in a starchy-irresistible way to eat just a little bit of. Call it the impulse to pile on anything potato. Perhaps I will thin it out with more coconut cream and less potato next time.

I will be experimenting more in finding interesting ways to use fermented foodstuffs. As a last note, the lactic acid from our balo-balo apparently might help reduce obesity.

Quezon Suman

Are you buying just the same volume as long suman, for more pesos?

I am still dreaming about Quezon suman. This one is simple, with glutinous rice and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves. But small-- like finger-length small. Not too sweet, not too large, cooked to just the right firmness. Perfect for road trips and long walks.

Beside a glutinous cake with margarine. Pass.


24 February 2009


A bit off the side...

Some kids are difficult at the barbershop, but this one was fast asleep during an al fresco haircut, despite the chatter of the ladies at the sari-sari store.

Some powder...

A naked razor for more precision...

I was waiting for the kid to wake up to cause mayhem. Alas, no action.

23 February 2009


A woman uses a multi-gallon container with holes to give some murky water to the grass.

The guardians of cemetery plots, who work regularly on the dead that we visit once or twice a year. Watering, collecting garbage and emptying pots out.

A sidecar full of emptied-out pots that used to hold flowers.

19 February 2009

Friend Finding

Go ahead, email her.

Filipinos have always liked making friends with random people. I remember living in pre-caller ID times, and having to turn down random calls from strangers ("Puede makipag-phone pal?). I would get ten-peso bills from the store with phone numbers written on them, begging for new voices and lives to peruse.

Then cellphones were born and hordes of folks began sending messages to random numbers, looking for "txtmates". Recently I've been seeing them-- cellphone numbers scrawled along sidewalks, on bus seats, on public restroom cubicle walls. Some have a little marketing involved: "Friends lang" (Just friends) or "Pogi ako" (I'm handsome).

And her too. She must be part of the "Simple Rockers".

In Cebu, I saw for the first time email addresses written on walls. In small towns where the internet has just surfaced, people are eager both to make new friends and to begin actually receiving mail.

It's the same for all the technologies above. People obtain some means to communicate, and then look for opportunities to use them. Think IRC chatrooms, though slower and in public spaces. The motivation mix varies-- trying to make the most of a sunk cost (cellphone unit, email account), looking for love or friends in the face of boredom or migration, plain interest in other human beings, etc.

18 February 2009


Cigarette vendors selling their wares on used fruit crates.

17 February 2009

Cemetery Food

Nom nom nom.

Of course we know of eating at the cemetery. Filipinos camp out, push their large umbrellas open, lay on the grass. Oldies first, while the young ones wait patiently and pray the dessert won't run out.

Coffee, porkchop, pan de sal, rice.

Some also leave food for the dead. A favorite meal, some of which probably did them in.

For three?

15 February 2009

Love and Death


I've never been big on the "lover" aspect of Valentine's Day. For the past eight years, I've been spending it at the cemetery to visit my lola on her death anniversary. It's actually a nice place to spend any idle day-- trees, chatty plot caretakers, flowers.


14 February 2009


Is it Maranaw?

An advisory in styrofoam cutouts tells people (in two languages, above) that this is a no-peeing zone. This is underneath the Quiapo LRT station staircase, where it has traditionally been dark and damp, and intuition tells you that you hold your breath.

Reassertion: bawal umihi dito sabi.

12 February 2009

Wearing Your Heart on Your Handlebar

A white rosary front and center.

Bikers also find ways to display their religious paraphernalia on their rather stark vehicles.

Rosary from a handlebar, in knots-as-mysteries style.

A scapular on the other side.

11 February 2009

Buntot Pagi

Catering to a niche market.

Long absence, again. If posting has been quite erratic, blame the itchy feet and PLDT DSL kabulokan. Anyway, here are some buntot pagi or sting-ray tails sold among the amulets of Quiapo. They are likely a byproduct of coastal areas, where the animals are eaten.


When I asked the vendor what it was, he said it was for warding away bad spirits and aswangs (local monsters and shapeshifters). Apparently, the thing must be displayed prominently in your room, and be waved around everyday by your gates, windows, and doors when evening sets in.

For the less superstitious, a suggested use is to whip burglars. Surprisingly, the thing is used in actual combat.

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