Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas time

Let me see, Christmas is the time for giving, loving, sharing, forgiving and best of all, food!
It’s a friend’s birthday a day before Christmas so I was invited to their place and join the celebration. Since it’s also Christmas Eve, we planned to stay up celebrating all night. There were a lot of dishes prepared for that day. The main dish for the day was a roasted turkey, courtesy of the celebrant and her uncle who combined their grocery bill 2 days before so they can avail of a promo where if you spend $75 on groceries, you get to pick one whole turkey for free. And since its Christmas and her birthday, they were able to buy more than $75 worth.
Aside from the turkey, there were other good dishes served. There was Menudo, spaghetti, lumpia sahnghai, rice cakes, pizza and of course a birthday cake for the celebrant courtesy of her dad. I contributed a vegetable salad for that day. Hmm…which one to start with? Hmmm..everything looked so good and tasty.
Let me start with the turkey. The turkey was tender and juicy and very tasty, not dry and bland tasting. According to my friend they started marinating the turkey the night before in some herbs and salt rock. Then earlier that day wrapped it in foil then placed over charcoal for 4 – 5 hours then placed in the oven to brown it. They also prepared mashed potatoes with the roasted turkey. And what is a roasted turkey and mashed potatoes without gravy? Sure enough they were able to have someone prepare good gravy to match the two dishes.
Then there is the spaghetti which was prepared by the celebrant herself. The sauce was made of meat, plenty of herbs and some spices and lots of cheese. The aroma of the sauce itself would make your mouth water. When she told me she would be the one preparing the spaghetti dish, I said I would come early and see how she does in cooking the sauce. But when I came she it was almost done, with the help of her aunt.
Also prepared as a request of the birthday celebrant, was a thin crust pizza. They prepared the dough ahead so by this time it was just a matter of putting in the ingredients on top. There was a 3 cheese mix and a pure mozzarella cheese available, olives, ground beef and green bell pepper as toppings. I was hoping to see how they mixed the dough but then I would ask them later on.
I prepared a vegetable salad that day. Lucky me huh! Anyway, its lettuce, tomatoes, dried cranberries, dried apricots, ham and roasted almonds all tossed together. For the dressing it was Vinaigrette or otherwise known as Italian sauce or whatever; it’s just a mixture of vinegar, sesame oil, salt, sugar and mince garlic, onions, ground pepper and bell peppers mixed in proportion to suit the taste of whoever prepares it, in this case me!
Tere were Leche flan and some guest brought a very sweet and tasty rice cakes. And again of course, the birthday cake. The host put out some red wine and soft music to set the mood. Everything was set in the garden and good it did not rain, or should I say, it just drizzled for a few minutes during the party and eventually poured after the party.
So we started eating after singing to the celebrant a happy birthday song and the traditional blowing of the candles. Food was a plenty that night and everyone ate at their own satisfaction. For me no diet for this evening and really enjoyed the turkey.
At midnight we all greeted everyone a merry Christmas and the host started his gift giving. I was surprised to receive a gift for myself. Merry Christmas. But the best part of the night was when a friend’s daughter got her gift.
You see, she is the Goddaughter of the host. Every time she would visit the place she has her interest with the hammock that the host owns. That night upon after arriving, she requested to be placed of the hammock. They were teasing her that if she can remove it, it hers. But she would just look at her mom and contend herself using the hammock. Then at the strike of midnight, Christmas day, the godfather gave her her gift and insists on her to open it up. And when she did, wow, the priceless smile, the jump of joy and the excitement on her face, says it all. And yes, it was a hammock, just like the one she really likes. That was a picture of a very pure happiness and innocence of a young girl.
Well, everybody gets to go home happy. My birthday celebrant friend was also happy with what she got that night for her birthday; I get to go home with an unexpected gift and bag of left-over for the following day. Well, the following day was another birthday celebration, and this one I will attend the party in church. Merry Christmas everybody……….


I got to do 3 things at the same time this morning: cook my seafood spaghetti for my potluck this lunch time; eat my breakfast/lunch (brunch); and do this blog.
I wonder which would go awry first, burn my spaghetti, pour coffee on my net book or misspell all my words in this blog. Hmmm, the last would be the most welcome if ever.
It’s a friend’
s birthday today and my other friends planned a surprise (surprise in Pohnpei?) party for her this lunch time. It will be a seaside luncheon cum birthday party. They called me up last night and informed me of the plan. I was thinking of bringing a vegetable salad (again) but since it’s a seaside party why not a seafood spaghetti instead? Logical isn’t it? So I went to the nearby grocery and purchase seafood mix and the pasta. I have tried this experiment of mine so many times and no untoward complaints or problem happened so why not try again.
I was looking through my personal cooler (I don’t call it refrigerator for it cannot even freeze a hotdog) and remembered somebody gave me some beef. It thawed alright and started to have a bit of change in color. So I decided to tapa some of it and cook nilaga for the rest. So I got some cabbage and potatoes and boiled the beef. Looking at the clock, it’s almost 10:00 am. Deciding whether to have early lunch or late breakfast, well there is this thing that they called Brunch. So brunch it is. Coffee anyone?
Now this blog. I tried to make one last night about another birthday party I attended last December 24 and straight to the Christmas noche buena I shared with friends, but I was not in a mood and no thoughts were flowing. I think I had 3 to 5 sentences and it was for about an hour already. So I just gave it up.
Well, my spaghetti is done, almost finished my food and so I also have to end this blog. So if anybody out there is interested in ordering my seafood spaghetti you know my e-mail……

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Honolulu here I come...again

Last November, I was informed by my boss that I will be attending a training seminar on Uniform Data System, a system of reporting we use at our center, on December 8 and 9. This seminar is an annual seminar/training/updating on the use of the UDS. If there is an immediate change that is needed to be done they would hold another training update usually in June. The venue of this seminar is Honolulu, Hawaii so when he said I will be going and heading the delegate; the next thing I did was search my Google Earth to look at the Honolulu map and started plotting my adventure.
Hmmmm, Honolulu in December plus pocket money equals shopping! Let me see, sale in this store and that, discounts on this day at that mall, wow, so many places to go with so little time. We were scheduled to leave on 5 December at 1 pm Pohnpei time and will be in Honolulu 5 December at 2 am Honolulu time. So I have Friday, Saturday and Sunday as free day then half day of Tuesday before returning Wednesday morning. Wow, 3 days of going around Honolulu.
I preparation, I called my friend whose son and daughter are in Honolulu. I have stayed with them last June and planning to again stay with them this month. Their apartment is located at Lusitania Street in downtown Honolulu so it is very convenient to go around. Though staying in Pagoda Hotel would be much better, being near Wal-mart store which is open 24 hours and Don Quijote also an all-nighter store, but it would save me money for shopping staying with these guys. And I really enjoyed my last stay in Honolulu when I stayed with them. Then next was to buy some fishes, Lapu-lapu, tuna and if available mahi-mahi, and some crabs for my auntie and cousin living in Honolulu. No available tuna that time so I settled for crabs and lapu-lapu. Next task was to talk to another friend who would take cAdd Imageare of my puppy and to check on the house every now and then. All done and I was ready to go. Ooops, wrong. I was scheduled to go on duty on December 6, I have to talk to the Medical Services Chief about it and when I did, he changed my schedule with another doctor who was supposed to be working 12mn to 8 am Friday. I agreed and later on realized it was a wrong move somehow.
Thursday I reported for work 8am to 5 pm then cleaned the house 6pm to about 10 pm then started preparing for my duty at 12mn. I finished my duty at 8:00 am and was home at 8:30 am then started packing and calling people who asked me to buy something for them. I finished at 10 am and went to the airport to check in and was done at 11:30 am. I had no sleep for more than 24 hours.
I slept. From the time I was seated, seatbelt in place, I slept and woke about a few minutes prior to landing in Kosrae State. The weather was bad and the landing was worse. I really hate landing and this one made me hate it more. It was raining heavily and according to the pilot visibility was not that good that we have to go around the island again and try landing the second time, so I already have an idea of the outcome. And sure enough we landed after bouncing twice before the plane got its grip. Whew.
After 45 minutes we took off for Kwajerlein State of the Marshall Islands. We had an uneventful flight and landing, but I still hate it. The landing I mean. Then off again for Majuro State of Marshall Islands and here, we made touchdown after bouncing 3 times again due to bad weather. After this a 5 hour travel till we reach Honolulu. This is the part when it gets kind of boring but that time they featured 2 good movies which I haven’t seen so more or less it was okay.
We arrived at Aloha International Airport Honolulu delayed for 45 minutes. My friend's son-in-law was there waiting for me without his kids. He informed me that he is free that Friday morning so he can drive me around. I infromed him that the seminar is not until Monday so I plan to walk around town that day, I just told him to go straight to Walmart store for me to pick up some toiletries since there is no hurry for us to go home. And at 4 am we were window shopping at Walmart.
I woke up at 7:30 am and as soon as I was able to change I left the apartment with the guys still sleeping. Once I got my bearing straight, I walked to my favorite breakfast area: Chinatown. I discovered this eatery in the middle of Chinatown market. They serve Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese and local food turo-turo style. Usually I start the morning eating Vietnamese style noodles then come back lunch for a variety of Filipino foods from toge, labong, pakbet to goat meat cooked in different ways, adobo, kilawen , sea foods, and a whole lot more. Boy, I really forgot about diet. So breakfast was noodles then at lunch I had Labong, papaitan and kilawen kambing. These for only $7, whew.

I did some strolling in downtown Honolulu, enjoying the sites in town and taking advantage of its emptyness being early in the morning. I went and visited the Iolani Palace, The Honolulu Arts Building and the Legislature building. I then walked all the way to Best Buy Store at Dilingham to check some laptops and netbooks. They informed me that most of the best laptops were out of stock after they had the Black Friday sale a week before. A lot on display was the Xbox 360 and the Guitar hero set. I almost got myself one that day. Most of the things I was looking for were also out of stock anyway, but was able to stop myself and look for the ones I really needed to buy, not by impulse. From there I took a bus, which I now am pretty good at, and went to Ala Moana Mall. I went around the mall window shopping. Nothing new to see, most of the stores were on sale but low on stock I got some of the things I needed to buy.
From there it was a short walk to another favorite hang out of mine, Starbucks Coffee Shop. They were serving a good brew that day and there was a seasonal mix they have, peppermint mocha, and it instantly became my favorite. So I vie my time at the stall, checking out the people going through and fro, smiling, big shopping bags at hand and the unusual heavy traffic. I guess traffic during the holidays is common all over.
After an hour, I walked to the Walmart store and got myself a walking shoe, a Dr. Scholl brand and it felt really good on the feet. I then went to the electronic center where I was hoping they would still have the netbook I was looking for. I got a little bit frustrated when they informed me they don’t have the blue Acer One netbook but when I saw the white one, boy, it looks better. Without any hesitation, I got myself one. I did a few more rounds checking the list of bilins from time to time. After which I went back to Starbucks, ordered another peppermint mocha this time warm, then tried out my net book, and was easily on the net. After another hour, I took the cab home and called my Auntie.
She was really glad to hear from me and she told me she would pick me up early the following day to have breakfast. My Auntie is my mom’s 1st cousin. They are almost of the same age so they were close and practically grew up together then. Until she moved to Honolulu way back in 1965 and has stayed. The last time she saw my mom was in 2002. So at around 8:30 am Saturday, we met and went to Zippy’s. According to her she is a regular customer and you can tell; for the people working there already know her name and she knows theirs'. My other auntie, her sister, was with her. She told me we never met before because she left Manila in 1967 to go to London, England and later in 1977 transferred to Honolulu. She went back to the Philippines only once so I never got to meet her before. We exchanged interesting stories, happy and sad events in our lives. We had a long talk about my mom the three of us trying very hard to hold back our tears. So we end our brunch at about 10:30 am and they told me they’ll pick me up Sunday afternoon to have dinner with my cousin and my nephews and nieces. I went home and changed then walk again around town. There was an unusual light traffic at Punchbowl Street that afternoon and I noticed that the roads were blocked in some portions in preparation for a parade. On reaching King Street, people were already anticipating the parade; children were running around, parents are sitting on their mats with picnic baskets on the side. It was a fiesta atmosphere. I hang around the area and waited for the parade, but later learned it is not due until 5 pm. So I took the bus and went to Ross Store and looked for some clothes. I needed to buy some new ones for me. The last time I had shop for clothes was 3 years ago. I went to 3 Ross Store, in the Downtown area, the one near Walmart and the other at Ward center. I got new sets of working clothes. Then I went back to Honolulu City Hall and listened to the live Orchestra playing Christmas tunes in front of a big Christmas tree.
Sunday, I took another long walk to China town then back to city hall to look at the display they have. There were a lot of people the night before so I just stayed outside and listened. They have plenty of Christmas trees on display. One tree for every department of the City. They also have small bread houses on display. Again, one for each department. After going through it, I took a bus and went to Wards Center Mall. I have been in Honolulu for several times but this would be the first time I would really explore Wards Center. Again plenty of people were out shopping. I went around the mall grounds and found some interesting stores. I also saw a Sports Authority store where there were lots of nice stuffs really making me wish I could take them back home. I found a Starbucks outlet and stayed there for some Peppermint mocha until about 5:00 pm and went back home just in time for my Auntie to pick me up.
I had dinner at my Auntie’s house. I met with my cousin and her kids. They served plenty of good dishes that I again forgot about diet. Then after dinner, my cousin baked some cookies and boy, they were really good. I was asking her for her recipe but she just gave me more of the cookies instead. I stayed until about 9:00 pm and my auntie took me back home. Monday was the start of the seminar. My friend took me down to the Ohana Airport Hotel that morning very early. They already placed the breakfast buffet at the seminar area so I help myself to some. They have cakes, muffins and fresh fruits. The seminar went well, and they introduced the new points in the system. Lunch was served buffet style and we we introduced to a Hawaiian lunch feast.We finished at around 3:30 pm and my auntie was there to take me to Costco.
I told her I have no plans of buying that much but she insist for me to buy what I needed. So I got my coffee, creamer and juice but she insisted to get some nuts and dried fruits for me as my snack and told me it would be good for my diet. We passed by some ham on display and she took a big one and told me to cook it for Christmas to share with my friends. I did not complain. She placed so many food and stuffs in our cart adding more to what I got and was surprised to learned that it was all for me. Thank you and merry Christmas auntie. She then suggested we have dinner but I feel so full that time. She said she knows a place where they serve vegetable salad that would be light and healthy for me, and so we did. We ate at Kenny’s Barbeque and she suggested the salad. I was reading to the ingredients, lettuce, carrots, special dressing, chicken pieces, a few meats, and nuts. But what puzzles me was the price. It was $10. How come it is so expensive for a vegetable salad? When it arrived that’s when I realize that 3 or four people can eat from one serving. It was a gigantic serving of a salad. And my Aunt ordered grilled fish for me because I might not be satisfied with just a salad, so she thought. I ended up eating half of the things she got for me.
Tuesday morning, I was back at Ohana Hotel to continue with the seminar. It went on until about 3 in the afternoon again after which I did my laundry at Don Quijote and got the rest of the bilins in my list. I spend some more time walking downton Honolulu again to the City Hall and listen to the orchestra. It was really a very good sound and the Honolulu City Lights Display made the atmosphere really good. At about 10:00 pm I went back to the apartment, packed up and went to bed.
I had no trouble checking-in in the morning and I had a very good seat. The flight back was uneventful, landing was smooth all the way, thank God, and I arrived in Pohnpei 20 minutes earlier than schedule. My friend picked me –up at the airport and brought me home.
Settling down and sorting out my luggage, one thought keeps coming back to my mind: when will I be going back to Honolulu.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This is the season.........

Christmas is just around the corner. People are now busy shopping and preparing to celebrate this season of love and giving. I remember in the Philippines, the season starts as early as September. People start spending and preparing for Christmas Day and when it comes, pooof, the day is done.
I don't want to be negative today but a situation that happened a few hours ago makes me really look at the negative side of how we people came about and celebrate this season. I am actually doing a draft of my recent trip to Hawaii but then again, I would like to vent my present mood. And so it goes.....
I recall in my grade school years at Immaculate Heart of Mary College in Quezon City, which were run by Nuns, that Christ who was born on this day, teaches us living in the simpliest way. He was a Gift from God and a symbol of God's love for us. Thus, Christmas which is the birth of Christ, becomes a symbol of giving and loving and live his life in the simpliest way.
Through the years, it has become a tradition to give gifts and show love for our friends. People buy gifts for their friends and acquaintances and even their "enemies" at work. No matter what the Economist tell us on how the economy is bad and going down, people still queue it up at the cashiers of stores, malls and the like. Lucky are those who can really afford. I admit I was one of them who equate Christmas with money in order to have a happy holiday. I became one of those people who go to malls and shops and compete with other people buying so many things that makes me think do they really want these? And do I really need these things that I am buying right now. Christmas then has become a season of shopping sale; buying things we really don't need, getting hold or whatever fad that is there that season.
I remember trying so hard to grab every duty in the hospital just to have more than enough pay for Christmas day. I forgot what my mom and dad taught me in previous Christmases when we celebrate the season in the most simple way, no lavish gift, few here and there, no buffet at the table, just a pot of may dad's very delicious arroz caldo, but what is more important for that day was we were all together, go to mass and talk. That was the perfect Christmas. A simple reminder and a day of thanks for what this day really means.
After shopping and on your way home, reality sets in. You would notice street people, asking for alms, old ones looking worried and probably thinking where I would get my money to buy my family something for Christmas, kids in their shabby clothes, their eyes on other kids holding nice toys, a very sad scene, really. Peoples life plan changes in this season, their priority changes to things they don't need and only thinks they need it because its the fad or what is "in" during this time. I know its their right to celebrate Christmas, but again, one can celebrate it without all these shopping. Gone were the days when a simple Christmas card would be enough to brighten the season.
Anyway, because of this mentality that we equate Christmas with lavish living, people would also start doing stupid things just to be " in". Robbery, hold up,, snatching etc, becomes rampant and this year I became one of the victims. And this is why I have this blog.
Earlier this morning, at around 3:30, I was roused from my sleep by a thumping sound coming from my window. I thought it was Kikoy, my cat who was doing the sound trying to catch his favorite toy, live lizards. I did not try to shoo him away that time. Probably 3 or 4 thumps that I heard. Then later, I was roused again by the sound of my cell phone. Every time you would remove the phone from its charger it would make a sound. So again I thought it was Kikoy chasing his latest victim and got tangled up with the cellphone charger wire. Then the cellphone lit up and when I look, the light was moving. I thought it fell down but instinct told me that something was wrong.
I stood up and there, a man who is in my house!. I shouted at him and gave chase but he ran and I even think jumped from my veranda to the ground floor. I turned on the lights and was trying to check what was taken. On my work table, was my digital camera, electronic book and wallet were still there. My entertainment center was in order, my back pack where my laptop is was still in the same place it was, my sunglasses are still in my divider so it was just my cell phone he took interest in. The front door was open and that was his escape route. It made me think how did he got in? Was it through the door that I forgot to lock? Then I remember the thumping sound when I saw Kikoy coming if the house. I check my window and there you have it folks, the entry point. Lucky for him I was charging my cell phone that time so he was able to get the charger with it. My Land Lady and her son came up a few minutes after and apparently heard me shout. I told them my suspicion that that person knows and has been in this place because he knows which window can be easily pried opened and where I usually put my things in. Beside the window was my entertainment center where I keep my DVDs and DVD player. He could just easily go through it and not even enter the house. I thought of calling the police but what will they do? It also made me think that if he would have done it 2 days earlier, it would have been a jackpot for him, because I was off-island for a week. Well again, since this is the season of giving, then let him have it, he probably needs it more than I do. And since this is a day of thanksgiving, I am also thankful that that was all that happened this morning.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Paradise That is Pohnpei

Today marks my 7th year here in Pohnpei. “Time flies when you’re having fun” I remember one song goes, but for me “time flies when you like what you do”, for if it’s not that then I would have gone back home after a year or two. Its not always fun though, there are times when days were difficult. But all in all it was, and still, a good adventure for me.
Going back years even before med school, I chose to pursue my Doctoral study at Saint Louis University way up north in Baguio City so I will be closer to my province of La Union where I see myself practicing Medicine later on. I did for a while after med school and securing my medical license and my practice was slowly picking up. But then there was economics and the sad story of politics intervening in my pursuit of further practice which eventually ended my dream of staying and continue my practice there.
Then came this opportunity to practice here in Pohnpei which on first impression, was like going back to my province. The setting was rural, plain and simple, and the people are in need of medical care. The feeling and ambiance of the place is like staying in the province, people with simple needs and wants and living a simple life. The only difference is you’re earning and using Dollar currency. So I felt comfortable and not wanting in my stay.
Pohnpei is one of the four state of the Federated States of Micronesia, the others being Yap, Chuuk and Kosrae. It is here where the capital of FSM is that is why it becomes the center of all activities of the country. It is located about 3 hour plane ride to the east of Guam and about 7 hours plane trip to the west of Hawaii.
When you arrive in Pohnpei, a big sign outside the airport would greet you “Welcome to Pohnpei: The garden island of Micronesia” because of its very beautiful flora and fauna some of which are only found in this island paradise and truly this small island of 34 thousand people is a Paradise in its own right. People in general are very courteous and friendly, the place has lots to offer if you’re the one who wants tranquility and peace. No shopping mall, just small groceries which offers mostly products from the Philippines and from the mainland US; having only one theater but always up to date; a disco house for those who likes to dance the night away (literally the night because it closes after midnight); bars and restaurants are a plenty for people here really loves to eat.
Another thing I admire in Pohnpei is their politicians. I am used to see politicians in the Philippines with body guards left and right (front and back too) that even a Barangay Chairman cannot move about the barangay without his tanods; but here, the President of the FSM goes to church by himself without anybody guarding him. You would often meet their Congressmen and Senators walking the streets usually in their zorries (slippers) and very simple clothes. You can even be elbow to elbow with the Governor in one of the restaurants.
Though they have their own government, people still believe in the traditional culture of having Nahnmwahrki (kings) in every Municipality. Traditional beliefs also play major roles in everyday life of the people, but slowly western ways are on the rise especially in the younger generations.
So how did I end up here in Pohnpei? Well let me see where I will start, hmmmmm. I was in my senior year as a Resident Physician for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Quezon City General Hospital and was on my rotation with the Internal Medicine Department when I overheard one of the Consultant Physician ask the residents if they would be interested in working somewhere in Micronesia. So I asked him if they are only interested with an Internist and if I could also apply. He said they may consider me and if I am interested, to give him my Resume. After several weeks, he called me up to set up a meeting with his friend who knows the owner of the hospital in Micronesia that is looking for a physician. To make the long story short, I was able to talk to the owner and agreed in principle as to what the contract would be. After that everything went so fast that in late October of 2001 I already have my ticket and Entry permit for Pohnpei. I remember having a difficult decision of leaving because I was having problems leaving my two boys behind. They were very young that time and I know they need me to be beside them. But on the other hand, if I go on with this their future would be better secured. So I kept postponing my trip until my mom and dad gave me security that they will be taking care of my two boys and everything would be okay.
So finally, I left for Pohnpei on 29 November 2001 and arriving 30 November 2001.
I started working in Pohnpei for Genesis Hospital and after 4 years was offered a position for the government hospital. Actually more for the Public Health Department, I accepted the offer and was assigned to man the Community Health Center. After 6 months on the job, the Director of Health Services met with me and told mo to give another application for the position of Medical Director for the Health Center since it has been vacated for several years. And so I was then promoted to Health Director of the Center. Being the Medical Director has its privileges like attending Seminars and Conferences held in the US mainland, Hawaii and Guam on a regular basis but the draw back would be more paper works and reports. Oh well, who says such trip is free.
I my seven years here in Pohnpei, I have made new friends and acquaintances. Some of them already left for better work in one case or another. I have been elected president of the Timpuyog Dagiti Ilocanos iti Pohnpei (TDIP), an Ilocano association, at one time and was elected, and still serving, as a Board Member for the United Filipino Community In Pohnpei (UFCP) twice. I remember during the first election, I received the 2nd highest vote for the position of Board member and during the last election landed in the 1st place. Being in the Board, it has become parallel with being the masters of ceremonies for most of the events and the most fun assignment for me was to play Santa Claus during the Christmas Party. You should see the faces of the kids when they see me, the smile they have is really priceless.
Again all in all it has been a good seven years for me and I am looking for several years more. This has become my second home away form home; my paradise and the most tranquil place for me to think about my future and the future of my kids.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Dinner Buffet

It is my Friday day-off today. I will be On-call tomorrow at the main hospital’s Emergency Room so they placed me off today. It was a typical Friday for me, on second thought; it is not quite a typical Friday off for me. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. this morning which is again early for a day-off since I usually wake up at 8:00 a.m. or past 9:00 a.m. in may day off. Anyway, I slept very early the night before so therefore waking up early as a result is expected.
Though its my day-off today, I was asked to join a meeting with the representative of the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association (PIHOA), who is on-island for several days, the Director of the Health Department, PCHC Chairman of the Board and the Executive Director of PCHC which was scheduled at 9:00 a.m. So I still had time to do my chores.
I started to do my laundry for the week and cleaned the house as usual. I was done at about 7:00 a.m. so I still had time for myself. I don’t really know what pushed me to do my 10,000 steps for today but I had this urged to do so and so, I walked on my usual route after which, I lifted some weights on my new Gym set (ahem). I was done by 8:30 a.m. and so I started preparing for the meeting.
The meeting was held at the Health Directors Office and it went well. We finished at about 11:00 a.m. I went home directly to prepare lunch. I had two visitors for lunch today. I invited my friend at work over for lunch and another one came by to ask for help with her computer. We had tuna sinigang for lunch.
After lunch and after they left, I started again using my Gym set until about 3 p.m. then rested. At 4:30 p.m. I have this urged to do my walk again. So I went out and walk to the causeway and passed by KSP restaurant on my way back to pick up the food for my two pets.
Along the way, I had a phone call from a friend and he reminded me about our plan to try the new Dinner buffet with Island Girls Performance they are offering every Friday night only at Ocean View Restaurant. He said to pick me up at about 6:30 p.m. since it starts at about 7:00 p.m. Then it struck me. This is probably the reason why I was doing extra work-out this day because subconsciously I know I will be eating a lot tonight. And also the light lunch I had was also because of this. So with this in mind I said YES.
At 7:00 p.m. we were already there at Ocean View Restaurant. It has been quite a while since my last visit to the place and it has been renovated and looks better than it was before. I noticed that the light setting was low which is probably to my advantage so that they wont see how much I will be eating. There is now a big stage on the front area and the veranda is now wider and cozier than before. The only thing that did not change was the bar.
There were not as many people as we anticipated this night so there was no lin
e to the buffet table. They offered barbequed chicken, pork spare ribs, hotdogs and STEAK. There was tuna sashimi and vegetable salad. They have several local foods and there were noodle dishes, one of which became a point of discussion between my companions. One said its pancit the other claims that it is sukiyaki. What ever it was its good, well actually everything was good since at this time I was already starving. I was looking for the chicken kelagen, a Guamanian recipe, which they claim to have in their flyers, but there was none. Anyway, food was good and plenty.
After dinner, we were entertained by the Island Girls, a group of young female who performs local dances. I really admire how they sway their hip on dancing the hula. They do it effortlessly and g
raciously. These set of Island Girls are the nth generation of these Island Girls group. I have seen at least three groups of these girls before this but these new ones still has the appeal graciousness in dancing.
The opening number was a fast one and boy, they can really dance! They performed seven numbers and they danced to both fast and slow hula music. There was even a slow s
olo dance by one of the young lady. There were three young ladies and a young girl in this group. The youngest one performed solo. And she was really good. I know the parents of this young girl and they were there to watch her perform. I was even teasing the father to perform the dance himself. The three young ladies looks familiar to me but their names skipped my mind.
All in all, the evening went well. I had good food and was entertained by good dancers. You would really get your money’s worth. Anyway, I was so full that I asked my friend to just drop me off at Palm Terrace so I would just walk back home. He insisted to drive me back home because its far from where I want to get down and he said it might rain, but I explained that I am really full and I need to walk it off and I don’t mind if it rains and get wet because I am on my way home.
So I did walk home and felt better after that slow leisurely walk home. It was a little windy too at that time and good thing it didn’t rain. In my mind all through the walk was, will I be there again next Friday, hmmmm, I’ll blog it later

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chicken Inasal and Lumpia

Its a Sunday, a day of rest before the start the coming work week. I woke up early this typical Sunday morning for what reason, I don't know. Early, meaning at 5:30 am. Anyway I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning and as usual I started my day by brewing my coffee, sweeping the floor and mopping it right after. After feeding both pets, I had my morning ritual of using the rest room and showering right after (never tried it the other way around).

Contemplating of whether doing my daily walk that early in the morning or in my usual afternoon walk I chose the latter and decided to just lie around and read a book. A little past 6:00 am, a friend send a text message bragging that she was on her way to the track and field and explaining how glad she was that the road going to the track and field was all her own at that time of the day. But later send another message that she was almost attacked by street dogs. Well I was to warn her earlier about the possibility of being attacked by dogs along the way especially she's walking alone but I don't want to spoil her fun. Anyway, she later text me that she survived.

I continued my day passing the hours reading my novel when a little past 8 am my phone rang. It was another friend (and neighbor) on the line. She reminded me that we are to have lunch at their house today and I would help her pick up some ingredients for her recipes' for today's lunch. I asked her what was she planning to cook for lunch and she said she learned new recipes and would like to try it. She mentioned a chicken recipe which she said is popular in Southern Philippines and it is a grilled one. What came to mind immediately was Chicken Inasal and she said that's it. Then she added she also remember a dish she tried in Guam that is a combination of vermicelli (sotanghon) papaya and carrots wrapped in lumpia wrapper with lettuce. Having had an early and light breakfast made me say YES without any hesitation.

She picked me up at around 9 am and we went around buying the ingredients for both recipes and were at their house a little before 10 am.

Lumpia, are dishes of Chinese origin which is similar to spring rolls. Variation of the dish would depend on the ingredients being wrapped by the thin pastry made of flour and egg (that is why it is sometimes known as egg roll). I have tried a lot of varieties of this dish from Lumpiang shanghai (with ground pork, minced onion, carrots, and spices with the mixture held together by beaten eggs), lumpiang sariwa (minced ubod, flaked chicken, crushed peanuts and turnips) and its "naked" variety, Lumpiang Hubad; Lumpiang prito (fried and filled with bean sprouts and other various vegetables), to Banana Lumpia or Turon (wrapped sliced banana).

Anyway, this particular lumpia is somewhat different for the filling consists of sotanghon, grated papaya and carrots, deep fried and after frying, wrapped again in fresh romaine lettuce. The dipping sauce preferably is sweet and sour sauce. It was good and tasty and apparently a good meal for people on diet, like me (ahem). It was really good and it gave me an idea to make some for me to store in my ref and cook some as needed. Try it folks....

My friend then asked me to de-bone the chicken leg quarters that we bought earlier to prepare it for the next dish. After which I also minced some garlic (actually crushed) while she steeped some achuete in olive oil. After this she mixed the chicken fillet, achuete oil, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and some chili together and let it stand for an hour. This is the Chicken Insal dish.

Chicken inasal is another Filipino dish, this time one for the grill. This is an Ilonggo dish, or more specifically, Bacolod dish. The chicken pieces, imbued with a reddish hue from achuete or annatto seeds, is nothing but appealing to your sight, but it’s the smell of inasal cooking that always brings about rumblings in the stomach, and you can’t wait to sink your teeth into it. Different variations in preparation and cooking are known but this is the simpliest I ever learned (actually this is the first for me). And so after an hour of soaking the chicken in the mixture, I started barbequing it.

While doing so my friend also prepared some tuna sphagetti as an addition to the menu she had. It was a warm Sunday afternoon but it was a good and satisfying one with the food we had for lunch and later followed by a freshly brewed coffee.

Now I am ready for the new week coming...