Friday, September 16, 2011

Oh My Yogurt

Today being a holiday in Los Banos - Banamos Festival, my son and I went to SM Calamba to buy some things for a Physics project he is working on. Went to Ace Hardware to look for the things he needed but could not find any- we eventually decided just to buy the electrical things in Eusebio's Electrical store in LB. It was almost 12 noon and I asked my son where he would like to have lunch (teenage kids are always hungry)  and without hesitation he answered back, "Dad, Mang Inasal."  So Mang Inasal, it is! As expected Mang Inasal is always full and you have to wait for a table to free itself from the hungry customers. After a sumptous lunch with my pitso and his pork barbecue, we decided to have some  ice cream, we ended up with "Oh My Yogurt". Since it was self-service my son and I poured some yogurt on our paper cups. Thinking it would only cost us around P50 to  P60 pesos each, we lined up at the cash register- and there we saw the small sign "P20 per oz". We could not pour it back - it cost us more than we had for lunch. Anyway, there is no turning back - we just enjoyed our ice-cold yogurt and promised not to eat there again. And friends that is why they call their store "Oh My Yogurt!"

PS. After that episode we watch Rowan Atkinson's new movie "Johnny English - Reborn" - it was better than the yogurt - hahaha!

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Saturday a month ago was another boring afternoon for me having been hospitalized (for pneumonia) for 8 days and told to rest at home for another 7 days. My wife has a plan for this particular day for which I have no previous  knowledge. We drove our youngest son to his soccer practice game early morning only to come back at 11 am to get him and his older brother to have lunch somewhere in San Pablo City.

So we leisurely drove to SPC (from Los Banos) and as we approached Brgy Del Remedio - the last barrio before the city proper, I asked my navigator - my wife, were here but where exactly is Sulyap. Out came her cellphone, dialled Sulyap's number and asked for directions. So I heard it is after the railroad track, first corner turn right, then straight to a large half-opened iron gate.

Memories came back, because I knew the place, it was once a small college - if I am not mistaken it was called "Southern Luzon Colleges" or SLC back in the seventies. Later it was closed and became Cocoland Hotel. So this is Sulyap.

When we entered the half-opened steel gates we were greeted on the left by an old 1800's Bahay na bato, restored to its old grandeur and beautifully rearranged to accomodate chairs and tables. We climbed a steep stairways to the second floor and we sat on an recreated antique table and chairs. We asked the waiter for any suggestions and we ordered pako salad, fish and chips, kulaong na talong, kalderetang hipon and fried bangus belly. The food was very good, specially the pako salad - the dressing which is basic vinaigrette with the right combination of sourness and sweetness that tingles your tastebuds. At first my two boys were reluctant to taste it but when they did, they almost dwvoured the whole bowl! Here are some pictures we took at Sulyap, we plan to return sometime this October!


Isabelo Garden Restaurant

Saturday evening a few weeks ago, we went for dinner (my whole family) in Marikina in a very dark alley at the back of Otto shoes building. My wife, who is the food explorer in our family found this blog of a hidden restaurant named after the first name of the street.  We were seated on a shed, decorated by old family pictures,  oil paintings, old perfume bottles, wine bottles and all sort of bottles arranged on the ledges. There were quite a number of bronze kitchen pans, saucers on display on a makeshift white-painted bookshelves.

We were warmly welcomed by the lovely owner and chef (Ms Portia Dee-Baluyot). Here are some pictures of our experience.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My hard disk crashed!

Happy New Year, everyone!

It has been a long time!

Sad news, my hard disk crashed - still readable but the Dell people(online) advised me to replace my ailing disk. Finding a new replacement for my dell latitude d400, was an adventure. I bought my Dell used from a trusted friend of my daughter, two years ago. I bought an old Dell, specifically because of the serial port - which is now missing in new computers, so I can connect it to my old ssb ham radios. Since last year, I have to reboot via "ctrl+alt+del" several times before it successfully logs on. It was ok, cause I only have to do it once or twice, but very recently I have experienced doing it more than twice - a signal that my disk is dying from old age. Finding a replacement disk was a long walk. Computer shops at Megamall kept on telling me that they do not carry anymore "old technology" hard disk - an IDE, so they say. The last guy I asked pointed me to a corner shop - a less appointed one. I would say, no frills, no display only working tables, and no ceiling!. The lady attendant was still buzy with a young person, who also brought his also broken laptop for a checkup, and finally she asked me how can she help. I courteously asked her if they have an IDE hardisk. Luck of all luck they have one an 80gb ide harddisk. But that is only half the story.

I went home to Laguna and had a local computer shop copy my old files from the sick to the new disk. It took them two working-days to copy my files because they said it the copying would sometimes stop because of the bad sectors in my old disk.

I took home my laptop and told them that I would just do the copying on my own. But again, I have to have a harness to connect my sick disk to my laptop. I have ordered one, so the copying probably would commence next week, I hope.

The next step was to update my Windows XP. When I was installing MS Office 2007, the system would display "old software detected", and won't install. I have to call a friend-a licensed Microsoft Systems Engineer - he does not work for Microsoft though, and he enumerated the steps that I have to do before I can install MS Office 2007. He warned me that it would take a very long time to update. This process took the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Finally, I was able to put in MS Office 2007, after the long update of Windows XP -service pack 2). Now I am using my laptop but still without my 2gb of Photos!

I am not afraid of loosing those photos, I always keep a backup on other computers. Lesson, do not wait until your disk, literally dies.

That's all for now guys!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Leaving on a Jet plane

Twenty-one years ago I left the country with my four-year-old daughter and my 18-month-old son to join my wife at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. That was our first trip to the US - for all of us and was very difficult for me because I was flying solo. I have two luggages and a box of our worldly possessions and a backpack with diapers, water, milk and feeding bottles. After 15 hours of flying we finally arrived in Seattle. I don't remember anymore how I handled our luggages and two young children.

Last Thursday, my wife and I saw this "baby" leave on a jet plane, on his own, to do his graduate studies in the State of Georgia. It was more of a feeling of sadness than of joy to see my son leave our sight. When he was going to board my wife hugged him crying and told our son to do good. When it was my turn, I told him to do his very best in his work and his studies. I showed no tears until when I was writing an email to his would be guardian in school - a day after. I was not being honest in not showing that I was also sad that he is leaving our side after 22 years. I was crying, I missed my son!

He arrived in Georgia, after three plane changes and almost 24 hours of travel. I have talked to him already on the phone lately and he is adjusting to a new life in a different culture. We have already exchanged text and emails and I am glad that he is ready to face new challenges in his new life. I came to realize what our parents were feeling when we were away twenty years ago - that we were also missed.

What goes around, turns around or is it what turns around, goes around!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kilib - Ernest Santiago's Legacy

My wife and I planned to visit the new resort of Ernest Santiago long before his murder happened. One time that we were having lunch at the 83 Gallery Cafe, Ernest Santiago approached our table and talked about the new resort in Lucban, Quezon -- Kilib, that he was developing. He said it was much better than his garden at the back of the 83 Gallery Cafe. That declaration alone ensured that the interest in Kilib will stay in my wife's mind. "What looks better than Ernest's garden in Pagsanjan?", she would often mused. And so, when Ernest told her that Kilib will have a soft opening in December way back in October, my wife planned to visit Kilib on 28 December, the day that is a holiday in her office but not for any other institution in the Philippines. We invited along our Pakistani friend who has a lush pocket garden in his three-bedroom apartment suite in one of Ortigas' hotel buildings.

Lucky us for our friend insisted that we use his six-month old black 2007 CRV. We took the long but more scenic route (Los Banos, Calauan, Victoria, Sta. Cruz, Pagsanjan, Cavinti, Louisiana, Lucban). I prefer this route over the one that goes through Magdalena, Liliw, Majayjay, Lucban because the road is much better.

We stopped at the 83 Gallery Cafe when we passed by Pagsanjan. Ernest Santiago's sisters were there, preparing for a court appearance. Ernest's ashes was in an urn on an altar at the east side of Ernest's pavilion-style house, together with his picture that showed him laughing. Kilib and 83 Gallery Cafe were officially closed because the mourning period for Ernest has not yet ended but the very gracious sisters allowed us to visit Kilib.

Kilib was not grand in size at all. But it was beautiful and serene. It is art by itself. Ernest put together very ordinary pieces of materials to create something original with perhaps Balinese touches. For example, the Christmas lights hanging from the trees that are seen in many Filipino homes in December are also found in Kilib, but contrary to that usual practice, they are intertwined in very artistic way with stringed deadwood chips that children usually pick near river banks. The lights that hang from the high ceiling in the big pavilion are covered with cones pointed downwards that are seemingly made of brass from afar and with artistically cut-out flowers and birds to let out the light. But when you look at the half cones of similar design that cover the wall lights, you would see that they are just painted to look like brass but are made of galvanized iron that is usually used as roofing material.

Bathrooms seem to be a fascination of Ernest. There is a bathroom at the back garden of 83 Gallery Cafe that do not have doors at all. And that alone is a very interesting conversation starter. In Kilib, the bathrooms have doors but opposite wall does not meet the roof at all, perhaps to provide better ventilation. The front door of one bathroom opens to a wall that has an art work, similar to a foyer of a hotel suite. And you should see what Ernest has done with the lowly rice grinder. The base became a soap dish!

There is nothing extraordinary about the plants in Kilib. What is extraordinary is how the plants were arranged with unique structural accents such as the two arches that Ernest himself designed and the construction of which he meticulously supervised. There was also the cascading pond and totempole claypots.

I hope that Kilib resort will be opened again to the public. I hope that others can come and visit to savor the creative genius of Ernest Santiago. I hope that others can feel what I felt after the visit. I felt I could also do something nice and wonderful.

For more pictures, please visit:

I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did. Going there and appreciating the works of art that Ernest Santiago left gave me the goosebumps. For those who have gps, the waypoint is : N14 deg 8.411 min, E121 deg 34.444 min. Please drop by 83 cafe before going to Kilib, it might still be closed to guests. And please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Of Deaths This Festive Season

I was not ready for the "thief" who suddenly came in the darkness of the night just as we were admonished in the Bible. Not this time of the year when we are about to celebrate the birth of our Lord. Not this merry month of December. And certainly not twice in one week -- the first during a seminar that I attended and the second, although I was not present, I also felt the pain because my family and I spent many happy meals in the beautiful restaurant of the person who died.

Last Thursday 13 December, I attended a seminar sponsored by LLDA (Laguna Lake Development Authority) on bamboo propagation. LLDA's goal is to plant 90,000 hectares of land around the lake and rivers; to prevent soil erosion, increase soil-water retention and fight air pollution. Members of LGU's in Laguna and surrounding provinces, member of NGO's, some farmer leaders and farmers (me included) were invited to attend. It would be a two-and-a-half days of lecture and field work.

Our lecture was held in one of the air-conditioned meeting rooms of the LLDA compound in Calauan, Laguna. Our trainors from the Philippine Bamboo Foundation and PCARRD introduced themselves first, then later we were made to speak a little about ourselves. That morning, we learned about the importance of bamboo, physiology of the bamboo, how it grows and how it can help fight global warming. We were told that we will have a field work on how to clean a bamboo clump after lunch.

After lunch we drove to a demonstration farm in Calauan, Laguna about 3 km from LLDA where we were made to work for the free lunch and seminar. We were asked to clear out the bamboo clumps using the techniques that we learned in the morning. One classmate who was working with me suddenly fell. I thought at first that he just slipped but after waiting for a minute for him to regain his footing, two other trainees and I checked on him and found him unconscious and his mouth, bubbling. We tried to extricate him from the bamboo thorns, but even with six persons working together, we could hardly carry him out of the farm to one of the cars. We rushed him to the Bay Community hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. I could only imagine how heart-rending it was for his family who expected him to return home after a fruitful seminar, only to learn that he died without anyone of them beside him.

I read the second death on the front page of the Philippine Star today. Ernest Santiago -- owner of the Gallery 83, the restaurant that I wrote about in this blog; and more importantly, a leading designer, be it fashion, furniture, house or garden -- was murdered probably last Saturday afternoon, 15 December. Police suspect robbery was the cause because some of Ernest Santiago's worldly possessions are nowhere to be found. Come to think of it, the last time I saw him was about two weeks ago when we were both buying our groceries at the South Supermarket in Los Banos.

My family and I have a great affinity for Ernest Santiago. This artist with the long grey hair was really still on top of his game.Even though we have been to Gallery 83 so many times, each time that we visit is still a novelty because of distinctive additions that make the ambience of the place like no other. The front pocket garden of the restaurant has undergone so many changes, each time as marvelous as the previous one, a testament of the creative genius of the owner. My wife has just wondered two weeks ago when we were starting to decorate our house for the season, how would Ernest decorate his garden and restaurant this year. Last year, she remembered, he used the lowly used straws (for drinking) to make many beautiful parols of attractive colors. My children still remember the quaint bathroom of his house that has no doors, secluded from the public view by plants and interesting artifacts. As part of entertaining our house guests, especially those from the US, we usually invite them to Gallery 83 hoping that after the meal, we would be allowed to view Ernest's house and garden in which we have always found tranquility as we savor the beautiful scenery. We were planning to visit his other restaurant in Lukban, Kilib Resort, this Christmas break. We will miss him if we ever get there but probably Ernest is creating something wonderful in the bosom of our Lord.