Tag Archives: buhay ciudad

Book heaven

I have a strong love for secondhand bookshops. More than half of my books are from the bargain bins, mostly out of print works or books that are very hard to find here in the Philippines (not to mention expensive if I order it from abroad), but for most part those are lucky and chance finds.

day4-books.jpg It never fails that when I’m at any mall, I make a beeline for the bookstore, and if I know there are book thrift shops, I’d pass by those too. When I’m with my two college best friends, these are our usual haunts. Even my friend Bakemono knows that I have to pass by a bookstore when we meet up to watch a movie. It’s like a blackhole that sucks me right in.

Today, I was with Den and her sister. We met up in a bookstore, where I got a copy of her book and a sketchpad (small enough to lug around & it has a nice, solid back). As we walked around the mall to head to another big bookstore, we passed by a small, secondhand bookstall. Needless to say, we got sucked in.

There were scores of amazing titles by writers we both loved, as well as a few others that I had heard of and wanted to read. The prices were reasonable, and I lamented the fact that I didn’t bring enough money with me. I went home with just one book. It was hard leaving those books. Luckily, the attendant told me they had a branch that was nearer where I lived, so it should be easy for me to find copies of the titles I wanted. Yay!

Then I had the sudden thought of working in that big bookstore in Bonifacio High Street. Admittedly, I’m not really comfortable with the idea of facing people (I am somewhat anti-social), but the idea of working around books sounds like heaven. Yes, yes I know it’s not going to be that easy, but I am very tempted to try it.

Nothing to lose, much to gain, I say.

Who watches you?

After yesterday’s stay at home and veg day, my brothers and I decided to head out and watch “Watchmen”. Yeah, we’re a week late but we figured there’s less people in the theaters so it’ll be more comfy.

Good thing the walkway from our side to SM Marikina’s pretty much done. No more dodging cars along Marcos Highway, just a walk above them, which still looks pretty scary, nonetheless. Oh well, at least it’s much safer, thank God.

The movie was ok. Personally, like most comic/book to movie adaptations, if you haven’t read it, you might have a difficult time figuring out what’s going on. It gets a lot more confusing as the story goes along. I think I started liking it towards the end, and mostly thanks to Rorschach (whose face sometimes reminds me of Clay Aiken in some angles, Clint Eastwood in others, Chuck Norris for most). It was also the little things that I took notice of: Hearing “Everybody wants to rule the world” play in the background in one scene, seeing Andy Warhol personified etc. Loved the music mostly.

Random photos
This actually strikes me as ironic because the kind of faucets they have isn’t exactly helping conserve water.

You press it, it releases water for about 10-15 seconds, which can be too much if you just want to rinse. I’ve seen a lot of people do just that and walk away, leaving the water running for a longer time than they’ve used it. Worse is when someone is behind them and wants to rinse, they actually wait for the water to close before they do the exact same thing.

On the walkway, we can see Libis, Ortigas, Quezon City, Marikina and Antipolo. This one’s Libis.

And this can be found somewhere near our office. Haha, kulit.

P.S. I have neighbors who love videoke sessions on a Sunday… just when 99% of their neighbors need to sleep because of work or school the next day. I wish the barangay council would do something about it, like maybe a total ban?

Being Pinoy through food

For a while now, I’ve been wondering what’s the best way to describe the Filipinos. When you watch travel shows, most countries can be easily identified by their food, their costumes, their speech.

When you say Filipino… well, I can say that a Pinoy will have his or her own definition depending on where they came from. The old debate of what should be the national language is still up in the air and possibly no closer to being resolved than say, getting a cure for the common cold.

Be that as it may, it’s always interesting to see foreigners react to the Philippines: either through a travel show such as Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” or Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” (we’ll also be seeing Bobby Chin visit the country soon); or through various blogs and comments online. I once talked to a lady from one of the middle American states (Arkansas, I think) who asked me about the country and was apologizing because she thought we still lived very primitively.

I was amused yet somewhat insulted too, but readily answered “Ma’am, had we lived in trees, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now.” I proceeded to tell her about how we live in the city, how I’m updated about the series Lost, that I just had a Big Mac the other day and gave her some websites she could visit to learn more about us. She was also surprised to learn that I have never been out of the country and credited Sesame Street as a huge part of my English language education.

Granted there’s still a lot of not-so-good stuff about the Philippines (specifically politics, but then again, when is that a good thing anywhere?) but the good stuff is more than all worth it.


What is Filipino?

Anthony Bourdain asked this question to just about every person he met during the show, and more or less didn’t get a satisfactory answer until the end.

“Geography plays a prominent role in what you eat in the Philippines, maybe more so than in other places.”

I have to agree on this. Each region boasts of something that is way better than any other region’s even if you can find it there. For example, I’m a big fan of the Zambales mangoes, and am not ashamed to say that I don’t think Cebu mangoes outclass them. I’m not being rude, but basing it on my experience, especially since I grew up eating Zambales mangoes and not Cebu’s. I’m sure if it were the other way around, I’d be raving about Cebu’s mangoes right now.

Claude Tayag said, “You cannot be a Filipino first until you become Kapampangan first. Become yourself first.”

A lot of this is being taken out of context. Watching this particular part, I feel no offense when Claude Tayag said this. In fact, I can clearly understand what he meant. Many Pinoys belong to a specific region, with their parents and grandparents coming from the province. Myself is a product of the North with a bit of the South thrown in, so I’m more partial to places like Zambales, Pampanga, Baguio and… Bicol than anywhere else. Feed me something from other places and I’d say “Oh, that’s better in *insert place I love here*” This is were regionalism, a trait that is very much ingrained in every Pinoy. Wag na mag deny, dahil totoo naman ito di ba? We feel pride in where we come from, and we staunchly defend it.

What I feel that Claude is trying to say is the mere fact of embracing your roots — be you Kapampangan, Sambali, Cebuano, Bicolano, Davaeno — is the key to being Filipino. I don’t think it would be easy to define who we are if we don’t embrace who our ancestors are.

Face it, our country is one big melting pot, hugely influenced by Spanish and American culture. I always thought that if we weren’t heavily colonized by them, we’d be something like Malaysia or Thailand, given that we have similar roots, but since we were, well, this is who we are.

In fact, the way I see it, it’s a pretty much universal attitude. Anthony Bourdain said it, “I’m a New Yorker first, American second.” If you’ve watched so many travel and cooking shows like No Reservations, you’ll notice it. People, no matter where they live, are quick to say that their version of this food is better than any version you’ll find in their country… or anywhere else.

If anything, this episode of No Reservations would make you ask, “Who are the Pinoys, really?” I have long wondered why we didn’t have a culture where old traditions are very well preserved alongside the modern world. Look at the Japanese, the Chinese and the Koreans. Look at the Malaysians, the Thais and the Indonesians. Their past co-exists harmoniously with the present and when you ask their people who they are, they can tell you.

Perhaps I am not as lost as Augusto is, having grown up being aware of my roots, but there’s still the slight confusion of who my country is in the bigger scale of things.

Maybe, that’s what makes us who we are.

I say…
There’s so much I want to say about this episode of No Reservations. I mean, it’s about the Philippines! How can I not comment on just about every aspect of the program?

But I must practice restraint. I don’t want to end up babbling all over the place (which I am wont to do in many cases). I love, love, love this episode, not just because it’s about the Philippines, but also because Bourdain touched a chord in me about our country and its people. One thing I learned about watching No Reservations is that if it’s good, Tony will say so. If it isn’t, he’ll say it too.

Granted, many people have commented that Augusto feels so restrained and isn’t as enthusiastic as he was in his video — and that they could’ve done better. Yeah, we all have that thinking, but hey, Augusto sent his entry, he got picked. You didn’t. We are all critics, but it has it’s time and place. Bottomline, the crew got what the needed, Augusto got to go home and the Philippines is once again brought to the world’s attention but this time in a very good light.

I think that says a lot.

Snippets
Tony Bourdain loves sisig. Heck, he just about loved everything he had, including the pinapaitan, which personally took me a long time to even partially like.

Yehey, no balut. Not all Filipinos eat balut *waves hand* but I do love the fried day old. Yay for chicken balls! Yay for dampa!

Calamansi FTW! Neil Gaiman mentioned it in his blog when he visited back in 2005.

He referred to Binondo as “the oldest Chinatown in the world”, which I’m sure got the nod of many Chinese-Filipinos. I’ve always wondered why it’s never been featured in any of the travel sites I’ve been to, especially since Ivan said it’s as old as the city, which makes it some hundreds of years old. I love Binondo. I often went there with my grandparents, where my grandfather is often mistaken for another Chinoy (even though he doesn’t speak a word of Chinese).

I had a great time watching the Cebu segment. I remember my first time going to Tabo-an. We went there hours before our flight back to Manila to buy some danggit. We didn’t know that the smell of the dried fish would stick to us. Needless to say, we sat in the plane hoping that we wouldn’t be kicked out by the pilot halfway over the ocean.

You can never go wrong with lechon. I think it’s safe to say that even vegetarians break a bit when they are faced with lechon (and if they don’t, I marvel at their self-control).

Photo from: No Reservations Facebook

Lastly…
Once again, I say, I want Anthony Bourdain’s job.

Interesting reads:
Anthony Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork
Colin on No Reservations Philippines He’s from Pennsylvania and reading his entry makes me want to find a way to send him some sisig.