About Me

United States
Belle is a mother of 2 beautiful teenagers aged 19 and 18 years old. She is originally from Bato, Catanduanes. She loves fiddling around with computer on her free time.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Mother

I miss my mom. She passed away a little over three months ago, exactly three months after I visited her in Catanduanes. I thought she had few more years to live because she didn't show any signs or tinges that she was going to die. She was fiesty, active even though she was confined to her wheelchair, nossy, and at 88 years old, she was very alert. Surprisingly, her memory had remained sharp until her last days.

Ever since I went to college, I don't think I ever returned to the province for longer vacation to rebond with my mom. The most I stayed with her was few months during summer break which I often spent holding a summer job in Bato. Though in my younger years, my mom and I had spent many times together, from going to the swamp, planting corn, camote, planting rice, and others stuff. At such a young age, she taught me how to survive in this tough and cruel world in her own way. Honestly, whenever I go back home, I don't mind doing those odd jobs even if it would mean I have to get messy. One time, my friend O took me to the forest to dig some "garyang", a delicious native root which I believe only grows in the province. It was a lot of work digging the roots out of a muddy soil. After we were through, we were all covered with mud and my dinem pants had stains all over from the juice of the "garyang" leaves.

When I was in Puraran, my husband and I, suddenly, were left alone for a day with lots of chores to do, including laundry. Normally, we had company to help us around the house. I didn't want to wait another day so I rolled my sleeves up, squatted down and washed the clothes the old fashion way...with my bare hands. My caretaker saw me and unhesitantly offered his wife to do the washing for me and I nicely declined the offer. I said, "I can handle this myself, thank you," I washed tons of clothes including 2 sets of beddings. After I was through hanging the clothes, I was overly exhausted.

Going back to my mom, I wrote an eulogy for her which was read by my niece, Tintin, on my behalf because, sadly, I was not able to attend to her funeral...same scenario with my father 17 years ago. It was a hard decision but I had no other choice. I know my mom would understand my situation.

Here is the Eulogy:
We consider ourselves to be one of the luckiest families to be given the chance to spend quite a lenghty time with our mother. Those times were full of memories. There is nothing else we could have asked for. She lived a long life and that is quite an achievement.

Though, it is extremely hard to lose a mother who was so dear to our hearts, yet our good memories with her are more than enough to compensate for the sadness. I am sure that mother does not want us to weep for her, but for us to be strong and to get on with our lives.

She was an incredible woman. Surprisingly enough, I saw myself in her. When my husband and I recently visited her last May, she spent a couple of days with us in our Puraran hut together with our relatives. I wanted her to experience life in a modern house even if it was just for a short time. On one of our conversations, Glo, (her caretaker then) made random comments to mama, "may, kapandok mo daw si B, lalo na pag gaguro ka." I wasn't sure if those were the exact words but that was the essence of what she said. Mama, as always, gave a sly smile, huyom huyom kung baga. She certainly looked good while staying with us in Puraran.

On one of our lunch sessions in Puraran, I noticed my mom's appetite was unsually huge! So, being straightforward and funny as I can be, I could not contain myself and I said jokingly, "mama, daog mo daw ako sa kaonan, hamak pang rice iyan na nakaon mo!" She didn't say a word and continued to finish her meal.

Two days later, she went back to her own abode. My Puraran hut must not have been to her liking, as she couldn't manuever on her own. You see, even though she was physically disabled, she tried her best to be independent. Where she lived, she found a way to hop on her wheelchair from her bed so she could snoop around and see what was going on around the house. Now, I know where I got my nosiness.

She definitely loved all her children and grandchildren. She made sure that all her children were situated and with a home to settle in. When one of her grandsons required special glasses for his rare eye problem, she did the best she could to relay the message to me at O's place by having V push her on her wheelchair all the way over. I noticed that she was at her best when faced with adversities and hardships. At those times, nothing could stop her.

She was a hardworking mother and a survivor. At a young age, she had taught me every task imaginable, from mangamunti, mag talok, mag tanom ning kamunti, to fishing in the swamp. Mother liked to pull tricks on me, as well. During one of our trips to the swamp, I tried to have a feel of the bottom of the water in an attempt to find holes where fish or crabs may be hiding. Little did I know, she went from behind me and felt my bottom, which scared the heck out of me. Ang hona ko some ugly creatures invaded my private zone. She laughed hard, of course, and had preserved those memories for kicks and giggles.

I was amazed at how well she was able to maintain her sanity and speech in a clear fashion until her last breath. Being the only person with authority, she was able to convey to her nieces and great nieces to settle their differences and to reconcile with one another. Truly, she epitomized the woman whose love extended far beyond her children.

Much as I want to be with her today, God knows how much I tried as I almost booked round trip ticket but I am sure she understands the financial dilemma that I am facing right now. And I had her permission.

Mother, together with your amerikanang granddaughters, S and A, and my husband S, we love you. I know Jehovah will welcome you in heaven with open arms. May your soul rest in peace.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

S Concert at the Cafe

Last night, S held a concert in our local coffee shop intended for the typhoon victims in my village. About 50 people showed up. It turned out to be a little too many for a small coffee shop to accommodate. Some people chose to watch her in standing position. Many of her high school friends came and watched her, too, and hung out for a while even after the show was over. People thought she did excellently!
In this picture, S and A sang a song that S composed called, "Day After Day" that was sung at the high school graduation 2005 by the Payson High School Modern Choir of which Alexis was a member. It was a beautiful song full of memories of her high school years. The two of them beautifully executed the song.

Here, she sang a song titled, "Trust" which she composed a year ago and has remained untitled for some time until her friends found an appropriate title for it. It is a beautiful song and is one of my favorites from her repertoire.

From all the snapshots taken at last night's concert, this one is my favorite as it captured her emotion as she beautifully sang the song.

Well, of course, the show was not complete without the mother's participation. Though, I haven't been strumming the guitar in years, I thought I would give it try just on one song. I did practice a couple of night prior but it takes a while to develop that calluses on the finger tips. Luckily, I made it through without being obvious that I was hurting. Whew! Glad, I only had to perform once that night.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Para sainyong lahat: Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A 's Solo

My daughter, Alexis, beautifully rendered a song today at a church entitled, "Let Us Be United", with the choir supporting her. She has this beautiful high voice that complemented the choir just perfectly. Of course, I gave credit to the choir director for orchestrating the proceedings. I wish I could have recorded the song and let you hear it.

Alexis is graduating this year in high school and will go to Northern Arizona University. Time really flies by quickly. Not too long ago, she was just a little girl. I can't believe that she is going to college this fall. Soon, I will be the only teenager left in the house..hehe.

Hmmm, I have been thinking. How did I end up with two daughters who do fairly well in singing? I am pretty sure they got it from my side of the family because my husband can't even carry a tune. He sings a song with same note all throughout..hehehe. I can sing, too, but I never had a chance to cultivate it in my younger years, thus, it went downhill. I do sing and strum my guitar once in a while, but I don't have as much inclination as I had when I was younger. Nowadays, I usually quit after singing one song. My daughter suggested that I keep working on it but who has the time to do that? I am extremely busy at work with Association's matters and household tasks.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Benefit Concert featuring S..

Benefit Concert featuring local artist, S. Concert will take place at Fireside Espresso located at 614 N. Beeline Highway on December 23, 2006 at 7:30 PM sharp.

All proceeds will go to the typhoon victims in her hometown village in the Philippines. She will be singing mostly original songs.

Padre D said he will try to fly to Phoenix to sing along with S. It will be nice if he can come. A couple friend of mine from Roosevelt, AZ said they will be there. I expect to have a good turnout.

Wish us luck.

My Family is Safe, Thank God!

I posted this picture here as a sign of promise and hope for our kababayans who went through the emotional trauma from the severe beating and pounding of the brutal typhoon Reming (Durian).

I finally heard from my brothers on December 6, 2006, six days after the typhoon Reming ravaged our poor island of Catanduanes. He probably felt how anxious and worried I was to hear from them so he took his tricycle and bravely traversed the road to Viga despite of the uncertainty and perils that lay ahead of him for three hours one way, thus, incurring 6 hours total travel time. That is a lot of traveling just to get in touch with his sister and relatives in Manila.

The first thing he said was my house in P is okay sustaining only minor damage and could be easily fixed. Thank God! Next thing he told me was that they were okay except that one of my brothers lost his house completely. I expected it to happen though, initially, I was in denial hoping that a miracle would happen and spare the house. I wonder how he felt about losing his house. Still in shock, he must be devastated and feeling helpless thinking of how and where he will get the resources to rebuild his house. All sources of livelihood perished, and the whole situation is in chaos waiting for it to go through its course. I felt so sorry for him. Even though I don't particularly like this brother of mine because of things that he does which I will not elaborate here, but I will try my best to help him financially to reconstruct his house with help from my dear friends and relatives. I am not made up of money myself but with God's help, I am positive that I can make it happen. A studio type concrete house will suffice, something that will withstand typhoon repeatedly.

I scheduled a benefit concert in our community featuring my daughter who will be signing her original songs for the benefit of my brother and poor relatives in my barrio on December 23, 2006; http://diveintoblue.com/. There are about 20 families in my barrio living below the poverty line, deeply in need of food. I am unsure if the rations that are being sent to Virac ever reach the far flung barrios. There are no reports that said so.

In addition, I am planning to send vegetable seeds like pechay, talong, long beans, and bittermelon (if I can find bittermelon seeds here) ASAP. My Japanese friend is starting to procure dry goods such as legumes, etc to bring along when she travels with me to Catanduanes for the first time early next year. She is a good-hearted woman and resembles Mother Theresa. She wants to do humanitarian acts instead of relaxing and enjoying her vacation. That is nice of her. She is aware that our poeple need all the help they can get to recover. The government aid, if ever there is any reaching our place, will quit after sometime and so they need to plow that soil now and start planting though there is no guarantee that the typhoon will not come at least for the time being.

Hope, you, too, are doing your part in helping the people in your hometown, as we can't rely on the government alone. Let's all help beyond our family however small it may be.

Lastly, make God part of your daily life. It is never too late to study Bible.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Typhoon Reming Wreaked Havoc in Catanduanes, One of the Worst.

Awful site to behold! Those are tyhpoon Reming aftermath pictures that I lifted from deepskin's gallery,
I hope he doesn't mind. I guess some of these pictures were taken from a military plane that flew to the province of Catanduanes to deliver relief goods to the typhoon victims..

I lived in Catanduanes for 16 years and I had experienced typhoon of this magnitude when I was in grade 3. Our house just as you see in the aftermath photos was torn asunder and all our personal belongings were either ruined, blown away or slobbered with mud. What a tragedy, indeed.

This recent tyhpoon was no different from the one I experienced some eons ago. I know how my fellow Catandunganons felt. I share your losses and your pain, but life must go on. Somehow, with God's help, you will manage to put your life together just as you used to by starting all over again.

To this date, I am worried sick over the safety of my 4 brothers who live in the typhoon strongest hit area, Bato. It is now Monday December 4, 2006; 5 days after the typhoon brought havoc in our island and still no news from my relatives. It is heartbreaking especially thinking of my poor little nephews who had to go through this terrible ordeal in their younger years. I couldn't even imagine how frightened they were as the typhoon blasted and made a direct hit to our beloved island. How did they manage to stay safe amidst all these destructions? Did they all get drenched? Did they sleep overnight with their clothes wet? Did they sleep with empty stomachs? I hope it will not forever leave a scar on these young ones as it were to me when I was a little girl.

We will not know for sure what they went through until we hear from them. My mind is wandering right now as to what exactly are they doing at this very moment. They are probably still in shock and confused or are thankful just to be alive. Or they are trying to retrieve parts of their houses like the tin roofs that were buffeted by the powerful wind so they don't have to sleep another night without a roof. I am afraid to accept that one of my brothers may have lost his house completely as it was made out of woods and nipa huts only unless there was some Divine intervention from up above. Waiting not knowing what is going on is killing me.

I still remember vividly the aftermath of the monstrous typhoon Sening some 35 plus years ago. My mother tried to recover the rice grains that were washed away into the ditch otherwise we would not have anything to eat. Fortunately, she managed to get some of it but eventually gave up when she became very ill after being exposed to unsanitary condition. She almost died! We were staying on a floor of our house with roof caved in. It surely was a traumatic experience for a little girl like me. However, it was not her time to go just yet so God let her live for another 35 years.

While it offers consolation to know that there were no casualties in the town of Bato, yet, on the other hand, it is saddening to know that 90% of the houses sustained substantial damage. Even strong built houses suffered a beating. All vegetations were strewn all over the ground. Looking at the aerial pictures of the island, Catanduanes, it looks like a war zone. It is an eerie sight to behold! Classes were suspended because school buildings were without roofs. The teachers will likely to give lessons in residential houses like when I was in grade 3.

I hope that all Catandunganons and filipinos alike will try to pitch in to help our poor kababayans recoup from these devastation. Every little help counts.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Security Tips to help prevent "Identity Theft".

I thought I would pass these valuable tips on to others.

  • The next time you order checks, have only your initials (jn place of your first name) put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
  • When accepting credit cards, it's important that the "back of the card is signed by the customer." Some credit cards are issued with a picture and signature of the customer laminated on the front. The signature policy is the same and the signature is still required on the back of the card. "Do not accept unsigned cards." If the card is unsigned, request a photo I.D. and have the customer sign the back of the card in your presence. This policy was established by the credit card companies and it is an added layer of security for merchants as well as customers if a dispute arises.
  • When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, do not put the complete account number on the memo line. Instead, just put the last four digits of your card. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone handling your check will not have access to the complete account number.
  • Put your work phone number and address on your checks instead of you home information. If you have a PO Box, use this for your address. Never, ever, put your Social Security Number on your checks.
  • Use the credit cards company's address as a return address on your payment envelope. If someone intercepts the payment, they will not have your home information.
  • Copy all of the contents of your wallet or purse on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides and you will have all the information needed to contact the individual companies in case of lost or theft. When traveling abroad, keep a copy of your passport with the paperwork.
  • When you check out of a hotel that uses card keys, do not turn in the keys. Destroy them. Many of those little cards carry on them all the information you used on check-in including address and credit card numbers. Someone with a card reader or any employee of the hotel can access all this information.
  • If your wallet, purse, credit cards, etc. are stolen, call to cancel the cards immediately. They are probably already being used. Next is to file a police report in the jurisdiction where the theft or loss took place. Lastly is to notify the three national credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number. The alert means any company checking your credit will know of the stolen information and will have to contact your personally by phone to authorize new credit.
The phone numbers for the three agencies are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-800-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stir Fry Vegetables- Yummy In Your Tummy

This morning, my husband and I took a walk along the lake again. While walking, I started thinking of what I was going to fix for lunch today. And this is what I came up.

To be continued.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Typical Rural Life Scenes

These were some random shots taken a year ago in my barrio in Catanduanes. I especially chose these pictures to post in my blog because it depicts rural life activities that I was accustomed to. Having lived outside the Philippines half my life, I surely miss everything from home. Indeed, the saying, "no place like home" is true!

Have you ever experienced eating food on a banana leaf? I don't know what it is about it, but the food tastes so much better on these leaves and it makes you devour food in great quantities. Nowadays, people are starting to use banana leaves as lining/covering on native plates made out of rattan in social gathering. . It is convenient and very economical. When you finish eating, all you need to do is throw away the leaves in the compost pit. Because it is perishable, it will decompose over time, and will make good fertilizer for our garden. You see, nothing is wasted in the whole process.

When I was little, I couldn't hold still in the house. Well, for one thing, we didn't have television or toys to keep me entertained and I didn't like being cooped up in the house all day long with nothing to do. I preferred to wander into places with my friends. Sometimes, we would stay in the tree house for hours and end up napping because the cool breeze from atop seemed to hypnotize us. Often, we were awaken by the holler of my father from the house, screaming obstreperously for my name mandating me to come home. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, afraid of the possible consequences that would befall me ; the dreaded whipping. I was supposed to be home helping my mother in the house. If I got lucky, depending on his mood, he spared me the lashing...usually whips on my poor bottom..hehehe.

Other times, we would go in the forest looking for firewood. Woods were so easy to find then. We usually got our limit in no time giving us more time for fun and little mischief. We had hilarious memories with Antutan tree close to where we searched for firewood. Antutan tree had a loathsome scent which resembled like a "tot." I think that is the reason why the tree was called Antutan because of its smell. It made us gag. Anyway, we would pick some leaves off the tree and would deliberately have someone sniffed on it without his/her knowledge. Oh boy, was she/he infuriated, and attempted to pay us back. I made sure I always watched my back just in case someone was pulling that same trick on me from behind. Hahahaha...silly memories!

Those pictures above show rural life scenes typical in my barrio. In the afternoon until dusk, people like to gather outside along the side of the road just to catch the latest news/gossips or to chew tobacco. Chewing tobacco was common among the elders including my father. I had done some errands for my father on many occasions looking for nganga ingredients such as buyo, apog, bunga, and some tobacco in the neighborhood. There was absolutely nothing from that concoction that appealed to me. Yikess! It was gross. Why were the elders so hooked on it was beyond me. I am so thankful I didn't become a nganga chewer.

One picture above shows myself sitting on the balcony railing with my feet up. It is my favorite position when I need a relaxing chat with friends and relatives. It looks funny and odd but I feel comfortable in this position. Try doing it yourself and let me know what you think.

The other two pictures are of my mom who just passed away not too long ago. In one picture, she is seen making the molido that I promised to bring a friend in the US. She was the only one in the family who knew how to make the molido. Unfortunately, she didn't pass it on to any of her kids.

The other picture is of the four of us; mom, me, and my two daughters, playing domino. Somehow, she managed to communicate with my daughters even in broken English. I am glad, she had a chance to bond with my children before she joined with the Creator.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Our Thanksgiving Trip to Roosevelt, AZ.

On our way to Roosevelt, AZ. to spend Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, we stopped at the viewpoint and took some pictures of the Roosevelt Lake. It was once the largest man-made lake in the world. It offers many recreational activities from boating, fishing, jet and waterskieng, camping, and just merely sightseeing. When the lake is full, it can cover more than 88 miles of shoreline, big enough to accommodate large crowds.

We had good memories in this lake with family and friends. We used to go fishing here and caught quite a few of crappie. I remember my husband tossing the children in the water from the boat and they got a kick out it. They were like little fish. They swam for hours until their lips became purple and puckered up from soaking too long.

The picture on top is thornless Prickly Pear. Seven years ago, my husband planted the cactus about 2 inches long. When the plant was little, Javelina liked to chew on it, undeterred by the cactus' spines, so my friend, Bob, installed a perimeter fence for protection. Now, they don't seem to bother the plant anymore because, for one, it might be too tough for them to chew or it could be that the Javelinas (wild stinky peccary, which resemble wild boars) feel threatened by the plant's size. It is about 8 feet tall. Huge!

The Saguaro Cactus, the second picture from the top, is the state flower of Arizona. This particular cactus only grows in Arizona, and in Mexico. It grows very slowly, perhaps an inch a year, but to a great height, about 15 to 50 feet. This particular cactus has five arms and is about 25 feet tall. It blooms in springtime and it surely is a pretty sight from the freeway. The flowers are about 3 inches wide and have many creamy petals around a tube about 4 inches long. The fruit of the cactus is edible and was the food source of the Native Americans of the region. They used the flesh, seeds, and the juice.

I have tried eating the fruit of the Prickly Pear only to be stung by its spines. It can be deceptive because the spikelets are not that visible until you touch it. The spines quickly prick your skin as if they are being pulled my a magnet. The fruit itself tasted good but the pricking incident was enough to dissuade me from picking the fruit off the plant unprotected. The use of gloves is absolutely necessary in case I decide to try another shot at it. .

It took me an hour to get rid of the darn prickers using a twissor. Oh, I actually had a friend remove it for me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sinigang na Bangus

This is what I had for dinner tonight--siningang na bangus. It was delicious. I could eat this meal every week and never get tired of it. I know, for foreigners, this dish doesn't look appetizing. My husband, who is an American, doesn't care for it. Sour soup doesn't appeal to him. My eldest daughter is allergic to fish. Even the steam from cooking the fish makes her sick. This time, I turned on the exhaust fan at full blast. She didn't even notice it.

In this dish, I threw in six different vegetables; okra, eggplant, long beans, Taiwan bok choi, radish, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and slices of ginger. I used a combination of tamarind and guava ready-made broth. I didn't use any oil or butter. I made sure that I did not overcook the vegetables. I put in the bok choi last, covered the pan and turned off the heat. This dish is very satiating even without rice. It is a healthy dish.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bahay Kubo

Remember the song, Bahay Kubo?

The song goes like this:

Bahay kubo, kahit munti
Ang halaman doon ay sari sari
Singkamas at talong, sigarilyas at mani
Sitaw, bataw, patani.

Kundol, patola, opo't kalabasa
At saka meron pang
Labanos, mustasa
Sibuyas, kamatis
Bawang at luya
Sa paligid nito puno ng linga.

I took this picture when I went to the Philippines 3 years ago. I was just fascinated by it. The moment I laid my eyes on it, it instantly brought back some childhood memories: the rustic primitive abode, the simplicity, peacefulness, and slow paced way of life, to name a few. Nowadays, people are always on the go, and are deeply engrossed in their chosen careers that they don't have time anymore to appreciate simple and little things in life. We spend more time at work than at home. We barely know our own family. Sad, isn't it?

For me, this picture reminds me of home...not just a simple structure or dwelling but a home where the HEART is. It a place where you can kick up your feet and relax. It is a place where native delicious cooking takes place. It is a place where family spends more quality time together.

Many years ago, when I went back home, I always made time to visit my friend who used to live in this house. I spent few hours with her. She was a bit retarded. She talked to herself a lot especially early in the morning when everybody was still in deep slumber. Since we lived right adjacent to her place, I couldn't miss her blabbing. I got used to it and considered it as my morning alarm clock.

One thing, though, I had noticed about her, she didn't owe anybody anything. She was debt-free. She was a hardworking and self-sufficient woman. Amazingly, she never ran out of food, and she ate three good meals a day composed mainly of brown rice and vegetables. She threshed her own rice grain producing a nutritious brown rice. She was a good fisherman as well. When she went fishing at the swamp, she always came home with a basket full of seafood. She would convert half of the catch into cash for her personal expenses, and she would keep half to her own.

Unfortunately, she passed away several years ago. She left behind this special house.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Mogollon Rim

This afternoon, my husband, Steffi, and I went for a history lesson, and took a hike as well in the Mogollon Rim. It was quite a drive on an unpaved road. The road was not that bad though compared to the road going to Puraran in the Philippines. The fastest we drove was 30 miles an hour.

We went to see the battleground of US cavalry and Apache Indians. It was located at the Mogollon Rim (mountains) at 7,500 feet elevation . When it became impossible for us to drive further, we swerved right into the open space to park. Then, we began our grueling hike. The hill was precariously steep! I saw footprints and droppings of elks and deer. The trail was rather gloomy. I begged my husband to turn around because coming back was harder yet, and it was getting late. But, he stubbornly acted as if he didn't hear me and kept going. Steffi was right behind him. I maintained a good distance from them from behind because just in case he made a sudden turn around, I would save myself from traversing the challenging and slippery course. However, he carried on and so I walked a little faster as I didn't want to be left further behind. I caught up with them in no time.

The battleground was interesting. It was an open space where the US cavalry and Apache Indians fought ferociously. However, the Indians did not come out victorious in this fight, one of the few they lost. This battle was actually the last one fought between the US soldiers and the Indians. It was called the Battle of Big Dry Wash, year 1882.

The lake you see is called the Blue Ridge Lake. The water is green. I was thinking that should we get lost, we would be able to survive for a while because of our close proximity to the water although I doubt if we would be able to handle the freezing temperature at night Steffi was singing the whole time. I could hear her echo from the other side of the ridge. I urged her to stop because the place was eerily quiet and I was afraid of annoying the invisible people...hehe. She would not listen.

Steve had a hard time climbing the steep hill back. He called me chipmunk because I cruised right through it while he groaned and moaned. He took forever to reach the top.

The pile of stones you see is a marker that people put together to find their way back. I saw quite a bit of them. We followed the stones and took us right to our destination.

Cauliflower Mushrooms

Have you seen this type of mushroom before? It is rare and it is exceptionally good. My friends from Seattle go mushroom hunting right around end of October and they usually find boxes of wild mushrooms of various kinds. Our family went with them once, and it was a pleasant experience. You need a pair of good eyesight, though, to find them.

Anyway, cauliflower mushroom grows mostly in rocks and at the base of the rotting fir trees. It is a fungus so it grows in sunshine-free places and requires plenty of moisture. Once it is established, it can grow fast and within two weeks, it is ready for harvesting. Mushroom hunters must pick them at the right time. otherwise, if they wait too long, the frost will get it, and besides, its lifespan is short.

This particular mushroom can weigh as much as 40 pounds. The one they found weighed 28 pounds. Can you imagine lifting one that heavy while hunting?

Baboy or Pig

My daughter had a blast seeing a pig for the first time in her lifetime in the province. The pig put quite a show, too, and seemed happy to meet my daughter. Sadly, this particular pig was long gone as it was butchered for the fiesta two years ago.

In the province, every household raises a pig or two to earmark for special occasion, usually, a fiesta or wedding. It takes about 6 months to grow one to a shoat. It used to break my heart when the pig was about to be slaughtered. I went as far away as I could so I would not hear the squealing.

Pigs are very intelligent animals, and they make good pet. I remember when I was young, I used to put my mother's pig to sleep by rubbing his belly. He loved it! Reason why I got attached to these creatures, which made it hard for me to see them butchered. I wished there was a way of butchering them the easy, painless, and crueless way.

Pigs do not have effective sweat glands so they cool off during hot season by immersing themselves in the mud or by using water. They use mud as a form of protection from sunburn. They like rooting dirt with their snouts. They practically eat everything, from greens, insects, worms, rotting carcasses, and even their own young.

My Hometown, Catanduanes, Philippines

Familiar with the scenery? Beautiful, isn't it? It is a picture of idyllic setting in my hometown. My daughter took this picture when the rice plants were all green, which made it interesting. Yes, we do have rice terraces that we can call our own.

When I was little, about 11 0r 12 years old, I took a job of planting young rice plant for people, and I got paid Ph6. 00 a day for it. Boy, for that money, it was a hard job! Not only that I had to be in muddy soil, slogging through the mud for more than 8 hours, the job was backbreaking! I started at 7 AM and ended at 5 PM. When I came home, I couldn't see straight from too much fatigue. Right after I finished dinner, I went straight to bed and slept through until morning. When I woke up, my whole body ached. I was lifeless! It took me several days to recuperate. Then, I began to realize that it was not worth it for me. I told my mother that I would/could not do this again, and she understood. I swore to never submerge my feet again in that muddy soil.

Trike or tricyle is a major form of transportation in the province as shown in the picture. It is not a comfortable ride, and it produces significant noise and air pollution. My husband had tried it once and wasn't thrilled about it. Since half of the road in the province is paved and the other half is unmaintained, it is hard to avoid the potholes, thus, making the ride hellishly unpleasant. My husband preferred renting a van instead to take him to and from. Fortunately, there are available cars and vans for rent in Catanduanes for reasonable cost, and usually, it comes with a driver for free. Of course, tip is optional. I ended up tipping my driver because he was very nice and helpful to us all throughout our trip.

Naturally, I don't mind hopping in the tricycle because I grew up with it. My brother owns one and just like car, it takes us anywhere and whereever we want to go and yet, it is not expensive to operate and maintain. For people who have limited money, owning a tricycle is the way to go.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Puraran Beach House

The house below is located in the island of Catanduanes, Philippines, in the town of Baras, in the barrio of Puraran. It is just a short walk to the ocean, about 100 steps to the beach. The 2 pictures on top are of breathtaking Puraran beach.

Puraran is a surfer's paradise. It has powerful waves that break into corals 100 to 200 meters from the beach. Surfers and tourists from all over the world come to this place to take advantage of the majestics waves that people rave about or just to relax and enjoy the beautiful sceneries. It has white sand. The beach is nestled by the mountains on the east side. Two resorts here offer basic accomodation for reasonable cost. For Ph300, you can have a room and two meals. The meal is mainly composed of rice, fresh fish, veggies, and a bottle of water.

This house is still going through finishing stage. When it is done, it is going to be up for sale for Ph4, 000,000, which includes furnitures and appliances. The house should be finished by March or earlier. Personal items are not included. So, if you are a retired surfer and would want to live frugally in a state of the art house, this is a perfect place for you. You get fresh fish from the local fishermen, and sometimes lobster at reasonable prices. You can also hire a maid for US$50 salary per month. If you are interested, email me at liwayway07@yahoo.com.

Beautiful Green Valley Park, in Payson, Arizona

On our walk this morning, I thought of bringing the digital camera along to capture some routine scenes along the way. This lake is within walking distance from our house. It is a beautiful man-made lake. Of course, all lakes in Arizona are man-made except for one. This particular lake, however, uses reclaimed wastewater. It is planted with trout, crappie, and sunfish. People from different places come and fish in this lake.

This afternoon, I saw a kid catch a large trout about 14 inches long. He was happy and excited! He proudly showed his trophy catch to his grandpa who was situated on the other side of the lake, who, also, was fishing.

To fish in this lake, an adult is required to have a license, otherwise, if you are caught, you are fined. The license costs US$16.00 and is good for a year. However, kids, ages 14 years old and below (not sure) are free. When my children were little, we used to go fishing here. It was fairly easy to catch a limit. I cleaned them good and fried them until they were crispy. It was a good treat!

Payson, by the way, is located about 90 miles northeast of Phoenix. It is where the mountains meet the desert. It has the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the country. One thing I like about Payson is, it has four seasons so there are so many things to do and and see all year round from golfing, hunting, fishing, and camping. It is one of the free ozone places in the US.

My Delicious Pansit Dish

Since my daughter is here for Thanksgiving break, I thought of fixing her favorite dish, which was pansit. I used shredded barbeque pork that I bought from Best Hongkong Dining in Phoenix, AZ., and some average sized shrimps. I sliced some carrots, celery, and Taiwan bok choi. I added some stock for more flavor.

It hit the spot. It was flavorful. I had a good serving, and came back for seconds and so was everybody else. The other dish I made was left untouched, hopefully, we will have it for lunch tomorrow.