Thursday, October 11, 2007

Manila: Mixology Sessions at Prince of Japiur

I joined the October 9 Mixology (drink mixing) Session of Happyhours, Inc. at Prince of Jaipur at the Fort. Training us was master mixologist Kaiz Patel, fiance of my college friend Michelle Perez.

Anyway, we learned to dish up four drinks namely Cosmopolitan, Caipirojka (which is similar to a Mojito or Caipirinha), Cucumbertini and Chillax Guava. The drinks were great. I think I'll try doing them at home. Of course, part of the class was a sampling of Indian food from Prince of Jaipur. We were served a kebab sampler of beef and mutton sausages, chicken, fish, vegetables, etc. Yummy! I was yearning for more!

The P750 class fee is most definitely worth it since you get free drinks you mix yourselves, great Indian food, and an better appreciation of mixed drinks. The event is held regularly so check out their website or contact Michelle at (0915) 9977950 for future dates.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Baguio: Save Burnham Park from more development!

Just received some horrible news from Baguio City! They are planning to build a bus terminal and multi-level vending station in Burnham Park. Some Baguio City officials really do not know how to preserve the city's heritage and the little charm it has left. The proponent is Councilor Perlita Rondez, chair of the tourism committee of the Baguio City Council. I hope this project is stopped. Let's keep what's left of Burnham Park an open space!

At least Councilor Elaine Sembrano, chair of market, trade and commerce committee, said that “vending in parks must not be encouraged.” For more details, read Burnham Park market, parking area mulled.

Related article
Here are some excerpts from Remember Teachers Camp?:
"The distinct Baguio identity of mountainous terrain with green-and-white architecture nestled under pine trees is fast vanishing. The single largest remaining ensemble of that identity survives in Teachers Camp. Although no other city in Asia or in the Philippines has an identity like Baguio's, the identity today is vanishing rapidly.

"Unregulated development has caused Baguio to lose its luster as the Philippines' most popular mountain retreat. Nondescript concrete buildings and residences have replaced the traditional green-and-white architecture. Informal settlers' shanties now cover urban mountain vistas, once open green spaces, in sheets of rusted tin roofing.

"Pine trees, once a familiar sight of Baguio landscape, have practically disappeared. Heritage, whether urban, architectural, or landscape, neither protected by legislation or by zoning, does not appear to be within the sphere of interest of most city authorities and residents, therefore urban and architectural heritage is going fast, and vanishing rapidly also is its landmark umbrella of pines and multicolored flowers.

"Present-day Baguio is homogenizing into the generic, typical look of 21st-century Philippine cities. Only its mountainous terrain now reminds us that once this was the glorious Summer Capital of our Land and the only American Hill Station in Asia.

"Since Baguio mystique and tradition are practically gone today, it is necessary to maintain whatever is left of its urban, architectural, and environmental traditions for the future."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pampanga: Watch the frogs hop at Pyestang Tugak

The City of San Fernando, Pampanga will end the Pyestang Tugak: 5th Annual San Fernando Frog Festival later today. This event is extra special to me since I organized the first one way back in 2003. Frogs are a unique part of Pampanga culinary traditions. And by organizing the festival, the city is ensuring that these traditions are preserved and promoted.

There is a traditional way of catching frogs called paduasan. In the early days, when the rains came, while the elders where busy planting rice, kids would catch frogs. This game eventually evolved into a specialized technique and skill. Catchers use a bamboo rod called the paduas. And at the end of the string, they attach a type of worm called bulateng tudtud or sleeping worm. Once the frog bites, its tongue get entangled with the worm, and the catcher is able to hurl it up in the air and lets it fall into a net called panyapu.

It was a common sight to see people lined-up on top of the pilapil or rice paddies with a paduas in one hand and panyapu in the other, patiently waiting for the frogs to bite. The trick was to move the paduas in a slow horizontal direction, as quiet as possible so as not to agitate the frogs, mimicking the movements of insects hoping on the water surface.

Of course, the festival features frog cuisine in the lutung tugak competition which is scheduled today. The most popular traditional dish is undisputedly betute (which is Kapampangan for tadpole) or deep-fried frog stuffed with minced pork or even frog meat. During the festival, HRM students battle it out in preparing new frog recipes in hotel worthy presentations; while ordinary citizens come up with the best tasting traditional dishes.

We also added some fun games for the kids with the papyalung tugak which includes frog races, longest jump and dress-up-your frog competition among many others. They even have frog mascots nowadays.

If you missed the one this year, don't forget to check it out next October. Thanks to Ching Pangilinan for the photos!

Heritage updates
Lim reopens historic Manila museum
This is great news for the City of Manila! The elegant Army and Navy Club National Landmark which Atienza turned into a bodega is now the Museo ng Maynila again. Congratulations as well to the revived Manila Historical and Heritage Commission!

Save the Mt. Guiting-Guiting ecosystem!
Help organize a G2 protest climb!

Sibuyan Island in the province of Romblon stands out. It's called the Galapagos of Asia because of its high concentration of endemic species. One third of the 46,000-hectare island is a protected area. It's also home to heavily-forested Mt. Guiting-Guiting which has as much as 75 percent of its forest cover intact, and beautiful and clean rivers. Guess what? Mining is in! Now isn't that stupid? Before leaving the DENR, Sec. Angelo Reyes approved five special cutting permits to clear forest land for mining activity despite the strong opposition of the island's residents. That's an estimated 59,000 trees to be cut! All for nickel, the country is giving up a more precious treasure, the natural heritage of Sibuyan Island.

Read the Inquirer article for more details about this catastrophic turn of events. It's about time mountaineers unite to end this foolishness before we lose Sibuyan's astounding ecosystem. Contact Pinoy Mountaineer at to support or help organize this climb.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Semana Santa Filipinas: Preserving religious traditions on the web and beyond

In 2006, a pair of like-minded youngsters from America and the Philippines hooked up online to exchange information about their passion for religious arts and traditions. From this chance meeting, the two — Victor Ancheta, 18, a Filipino art student of Houston, Texas and Robby dela Vega, 20, also a student based in Meycauayan, Bulacan put up Flickr a cybergroup called Semana Santa Filipinas (SSF). The initial intent was to create a visual reference of our religious traditions from all parts of the country, with content contribution from members. Simple discussion threads were also appended to the photos, so that more information and opinions can be shared among members.

Just over a year after its creation, the SSF cyber group now counts over 1000 santo enthusiasts from all parts of the world as members, with over 8000 photos in its photo pool and over 700 topics in its discussion board. SSF today is the most informative, progressive and largest group on the web, using the members’ collective passion and knowledge to perpetuate, propagate, and increase the devotion to Philippine Lenten traditions, thus ensuring that these remain a permanent and significant part of Filipino culture everywhere in the world. Members include students, executives, housewives, lawyers, doctors, cultural advocates, writers, priests, educators and parish priest workers, all bound by a common love for santos and religious traditions.

The group’s most noteworthy undertaking is the Sponsor-a-Santo Program, in which members pool their resources to give a devotional santo to a fellow member who may be financially challenged to own one, or to an indigent parish in need of images for veneration. For Philippine-based members, there are also the SSF heritage tours to look forward to. Recently, Mr. Conrado Escudero hosted an exclusive tour of Villa Escudero for Semana Santa Filipinas members, highlighted by a museum and church visits as well as a discussion of the current state of our devotional practices.

With a growing membership and an increased interest in the group’s advocacies, it had become imperative to organize a Semana Santa Realworld, a group of members dedicated to planning, actualizing and implementing projects in the real world. SSF RealWorld hopes to continue the photo documentation of local Philippine Lenten traditions (religious imageries, processions, vanishing arts and crafts) as well as the Sponsor-a-Santo Program, now on its 2nd year. Projects such as the Pilgrim Santo, outreach programs to benefit indigent parishes, heritage church tours of Pampanga and Pangasinan, santo exhibits and convention, book and CD projects are in the drawing board. And more are in the offing.

SSF has truly become a visual showcase of Filipino’s faith and unique religious traditions. Not a bad legacy from two youngsters who made it all happen just over a year ago.

To join Semana Santa Filipinas, please check

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Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
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