This hitchhiker's ideal ride

Land Rovers, possibly my favorite thing about Cameron Highlands

Because agriculture is big in the Cameron Highlands region, these manong-rides were everywhere-- parked and all over the up-and-down road. The bus-&-road-lovin'-girl in me found them hard to resist; oh, the potential for adventure they hold. Pasakay naman o!

Welcoming richer descriptions

Love is vivid. I never wanted the pale version. Love is full strength. I never wanted the diluted version. I never shied away from love’s hugeness but I had no idea that love could be as reliable as the sun. The daily rising of love. 
-- Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
 via Book Mania 

I always thought it was an either/or proposition -- the hot and passionate type vs. the cool, comforting/ comfortable one. Surprise, surprise: love is more multi-dimensional than I had given it credit for, and for this, I'm grateful.



Taken in Guimaras, 06.2012
We're all just trying to survive here. How pompous to think our concerns are of greater immediacy than a tree's. How haughty to think our presence are of bigger significance than this plant who has struggled against varied weathers, climate changes, political rulers, and persisted.


I went to war every morning, 
I lost my way but now I'm following what you said in my arms, 
What I read in the charms, that I love durably now 
It's dead and gone and I am free.
- "Lille," Sea Sew, Lisa Hannigan  

"An Ocean and a Rock," Lisa Hannigan

Last week, Turtle was telling me about her newfound respect for singer Lisa Hannigan, who we both previously knew from her work in a few of Damien Rice's songs, i.e. "Volcano." Upon Turtle's recommendation, gave Lisa's solo album Sea Sew a listen. Hannigan's work is fantastic, quite a far cry from the kind of intensity present in Rice's songs, but beautiful too -- their intensity tempered with a certain whimsicality. 

Here's my favorite track (so far):   

Thoughts of you, warm my bones
I'm on the way, I'm on the phone,
Lets get lost, me and you,
an ocean and a rock is nothing to me.


The Fault in Our Stars

"Mother's glass eye turned inward," Augustus began. As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
- Hazel Grace, the Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Recent random memory: was finishing the book on a flight back to Manila, engrossed in the lives of Hazel and Gus. "A grenade" Hazel thinks of herself. Towards the end of the book, I was there on the plane, sobbing.

From Amazon: Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition--How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?--has a raw honesty that is deeply moving. (Seira Wilson)

Hawker treats #1

Soy Duck, Roti Jala, and Salted Veggies

Cheap duck rice -- one of those guilty pleasures I love having when I'm away from the Philippines. My housemate, Swan, took me to her favorite duck rice place -- a hawker area where you can get Chinese and Indian food. But the revelation was the salted veggies -- hangsarap! It's soft and just very lightly salted. Couture Foodie describes the dish as "melt in your mouth." I think it may be just an accurate description of the surprise this dish was.

Roti Jala is plain soft pancake-like rolled bread dipped in curry. Stumbled upon it while walking around the Central Market area (and it only set me back by about PhP24!). Hello, Kuala Lumpur. :)  

Here's to movement.

Three years later, another move.

Of the uprooting recently encountered, I have...

1. Fought the urge to just quit and run back home.
2. Struggled with homesickness, daily and by the second.
3. Found myself saying that the difficult can sometimes just be really difficult.

But no one forced me to move, yes? And so by hanging on, I am relearning that

- One can live with the contradiction. One must. You can embrace it, even.
- The world is big and there are new people to meet, make friends with, and new places to go.
- Expansion is waiting around the corner and with every step, with each hustle, you make your way there.

Hai, from Malaysia

Around the campus: research building, the UM logo, one of the Rapid KL buses doing its rounds,
and the fish pond outside the Chancellor's building

A "yes" in Japanese is a friendly "hi" in Bahasa. Hai, Kuala Lumpur.


Travel Treat: Cheesy like that ensaymada

So, two months ago, I found Ilo-ilo and an Ilonggo found me.

Ilo-ilo: a potential paradise for foodies

"Mmm... Ang sarap! Ang mura! (This is good! And cheap!)" was something Greenminds, the Ilonggo BFF, heard over and over again when he showed me around Ilo-ilo. 2 days were too short for a city filled with so many good restaurants, street treats, and cafes to try.

Breakfast, snacks, or late night dalliance over coffee
Bowls of batchoy for under Php40? Pastries (butterscotch, coffee bars, revel bars) no more than Php15? Head over to JD's Bakeshop. Regarding the batchoy, yep, forget the ones in Manila, the Ilonggo batchoy even without the addition of patis is really, really tasty.

Cookies for PhP5? Coffee that can give Starbucks a run for its money for less than Php50? That can be had at the popular local hangout Coffeebreak.

Bluejay Coffee and Deli, another local coffee place, has interiors as cool as their "dangerous" claim: they make the best ensaymada. Of course, what child who grew up Pinoy would dare not try to disprove a claim like that; pwedeng magkaron ng best ensaymada FULL STOP? Reeeally? Bluejay didn't disappoint. The ensaymada was pretty, bigger than usual, and really cheesy. Maaaring hindi best, pero may laban.

Dapat may photo-op with the best ensaymada
Photo c/o F. Grate
Dinner and heavyweight feasts
For full meals or special dinners, go to the aptly named Ponsyon ("feast" in Ilonggo) at Plazuela (near SM Ilo-ilo).  Greenminds specifically brought me here to try the managat, a special fish which, as far as we know, is only served in Ilo-ilo. The taste and texture is quite creamy. Have it sinugba (grilled) or sinabawan (with soup). If you're in the mood for something more sinful, order a plate of Ponsyon's lechon kawali, too (bless your heart, it was so good).

Turtle, my foodie friend, would insist that you visit Tatoy's, perhaps my greatest omission this time around. Promise Tatoy's, sasaludo at makikisalo ako w/ friends sa lamesa nyo next time. From Turtle's stories, the lato and the buttered clams were heavyweights, in terms of serving size and taste.

I'll be back for you, Tatoy's
Photo c/o J. Ferrer
Tatoy's lato, photo c/o J. Ferrer

Baon and pasalubong
And you don't have to part with Ilo-ilo at the point of boarding your flight back home just yet. The legendary Biscocho Haus (before "haus" was even street) lets you take its yummeh treats back to the land of no biscocho Manila. Don't miss out on the butterscotch bars (they're perfect with coffee!) or those thin, fun-to-nibble galletas.

Go crazy with shelves and cabinets filled with pasalubong
An Ilonggo's food language
Heading to Ilo-ilo to eat? Then, you must know the following:
  • "Taho" is not the soybean variant, but brewed ginger. It's "salabat" to us, Tagalogs.
  • Want some ginataan? Yes, the sweet, sticky soup with sago and bilo-bilo? Ask for "lugaw."
  • "Tinola" is anything with broth. So yes, they have tinolang isda over there.
  • Patis is pretty non-existent in their recipe list. Anyone who asks for patis is given toyo instead.
While "Pansit Canton" is a myth created in our lands, meaning, there's really no pansit canton in the Canton province of China, "La Paz Batchoy" is a specialty of the town of La Paz, Ilo-ilo. And Pansit Molo? Yep, its origins can be traced to the Molo town of Ilo-ilo. :)

*Thanks to Greenminds, Turtle, and the ValMan for their contribution to this post.