Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mirrors by Justin Timberlake

Aren't you somethin' to admire, cause your shine is somethin' like a mirror
And I can't help but notice, you reflect in this heart of mine
If you ever feel alone and the glare makes me hard to find
Just know that I'm always parallel on the other side

Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul
I can tell you there's no place we couldn't go
Just put your hand on the glass, I'll be tryin' to pull you through
You just gotta be strong

The first verse in most songs are almost always the most beautiful lines of the song. With the lyrics evening out into a repetitive streak come chorus, I've always noticed the first line as elegantly phrased to give out the general impression for the rest of the song. 

Mirrors is one of my favorite music videos because of the old couple featured. I loved how their wrinkly hand touched and how their stares were filled with so much love. I love those actors! 

But the defining lines to the song, like most songs, is contained within the hook:

Cause I don't wanna lose you now
I'm lookin' right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now
And I'll tell you baby, it was easy
Comin' back into you once I figured it out
You were right here all along
It's like you're my mirror
My mirror staring back at me

The music video is like a mini-movie montage and the story is as beautiful and as emotional as its real life inspiration. Apparently the music video was dedicated to Justin Timberlake's grandparents who were married for 63 years until his grandfather's death last year.

It was said the his grandmother was moved to tears with the video...and it seems as though she wasn't the only one. :'( 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Pinoy Style Spaghetti

Since the advent of time the term spaghetti has been synonymous to birthday parties, children's occasion, fiesta, baptisms, parties, and anything related to a cause for celebration. Spaghetti for pinoys is a loose term for a long strand of pasta with sweet tomato sauce and topped off with pasteurized cheese. This means, the term spaghetti does not refer to the pasta but the dish itself. This is the same situation that goes for our term with Colgate, Coke, Frigidaire, Vetsin, and all those brand names that are synonymous to the generalization of a product.

We are as passionate of our spaghetti as the Italians. It takes a lot of measures and careful errors to create this celebrated dish. I remember being taught by my mom how to make this dish before, and being scolded on occasions for not following the proper procedure. It takes a lot of love and Filipino taste for a person to get this dish right, and anything that falls out of proportion would make your neighbor or aunt's spaghetti the better contender. It's only in recent years that the term "spaghetti" was corrected by the media and corporations by using the term "Pinoy Style Spaghetti" to refer to our sweet-bloody red pasta.

Along the years, after making countless batches in my effort to stray away from the repetitive taste of our nation's prideful version of spaghetti bolognese, I've come to realize a couple of things that makes our pasta become the pinoy style spaghetti:

Rules to cooking the pasta:

1. If the pasta is "al dente" it means it's under-cooked. We don't like that bite, we want it soft enough so we can chop it up with our plastic forks.

2. The 12-inch pasta is too long to fit in a standard pot, so you must cut it in half before dropping it in the boiling water.

3. Salt AND oil must be used to boil the pasta because it has the tendency to stick on the edge of the pot or the bottom. Oil prevents that disaster.

4. You must NEVER forget to stir the boiling pasta every few minutes else it will stick to the bottom of the pot and your whole dish will taste of burnt pasta.

5. The moment you strain the pasta, you must quickly wash it with running water to remove all the starch so that it won't stick with each other. You may slather it with butter or oil as added precaution to the pasta-sticking-to-each-other issue.

6. Let the pasta sit and cool while you make the sauce.

Rules to cooking the sauce:

1. Start with sauteeing the garlic, then add the onion only when the garlic has turned golden brown.

2. You may use ground pork because it's cheaper and the taste isn't as powerful as beef. No, meatballs are not a welcome addition.

3. Use a bouillon cube (aka Knorr Pork or Beef Cube) to enhance the meatiness of the dish.

4. Don't EVER forget the red hotdog! Put lots of it! And sweet ham too if desired.

5. Before the dawning of those commercialized spaghetti sauces, we use tomato sauce, lots and lots of it. If you see the foil pack has some traces of tomato sauce residue sticking to it, wash it off with a few tablespoons of water and add it to the sauce. Yes, we like our sauces watery.

6. The key rule to the pinoy style spaghetti is that it needs to be red, the redder the better. Take Jollibee's spaghetti as the perfect example of how red we want it. For the desired redness, you can add tomato or banana ketchup to add their bold color and flavor to the sauce.

7. Everyone knows that sugar is added to the sauce to make it sweet, so do it!

8. A secret ingredient of some include liver spread to add a dimension of meaty-saltiness to the dish, while some add peanut butter to add a nutty-sweetness to the sauce. Shhhhh!

9. You can add a dash of white or black pepper. That is all. DON'T EVER EVER add any herb or other spices, even's gonna make it totally Italian.

10. CHEESE! CHEESE!!! AND MORE CHEESE is a must! We don't like the pungent taste of Parmesan, that's totally gross to the sacredness of the pinoy dish. We want only the commercialized pasteurized cheeses because even if they label it "cheddar" it's actually processed cheese. So choose only the best cheese that suites our taste, no more no less. The grated cheese is halved, a portion of it goes into the sauce to make it thick, and the rest of it is later scattered as garnish and topping.

11. Once the sauce has been boiling for a long know, when the sauce has already splattered throughout your stove top, then it's done.

12. Plating the pasta by separating the sauce from the noodles is nice, but we prefer it mixed, very well mixed even if the pasta ends up two-inches short.

13. The finishing touches are the grated cheese and extra slices of hotdogs. Trust me, people will immediately dig in to make sure they get a portion of those toppings.

14. If it tastes like your childhood, then it's perfect!

I distinctly remember my aunt eating one of the pasta batches I did when I was much younger and this is how our conversation went:

Aunt: Your pasta looks pale. I think it lacks some sauce.
Me: No, it tastes just fine. If I add any more it's gonna be drowning in sauce.
Aunt: No, really, it looks pale.
Me: Just taste it!
Aunt: (gobbles a forkful) Tastes fine.
Me: See?
Aunt: But it still looks pale.

This goes to show that we have standards to what we call spaghetti. I also remember a time when I discovered the wonders of herbs and the Italian way of cooking pasta from some of the shows in Lifestyle Network back in the 1990's and how my mom was so skeptical about what these professionals had to say. I once suggested to add some dried basil on the sauce and the deliberation just went on until my mom said, "fine, but just a pinch." So, it was a pinch of dried basil in 1.5 liters of sauce then. Well...that's when I got my childhood theory that herbs are only there to add specs on your pasta and not really do anything more. I remember the argument back then was the assumption that the guests are not familiar with the taste of herbs and therefore it follows that they don't like herbs at all, that's just the way things are according to my mother. This is where, I believe, we Filipinos think like the Italians when it comes to food. This is how we do things, therefore this is the only way to do it. No questions asked. And despite the fact that the world still cannot put a finger on what Filipino food is because of our mixed ethnicity, we Filipinos simply know what our food is, it all comes down to the DNA of our ancestral palettes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pinto Art Museum

If there's ever a place that I can say worth the effort, it's this one. The travel time and the effort to get here by commute is quite a ride that by the time you get here you can't help but smile at the sight of what you're about to venture through. You enter through a small iron gate and will immediately be greeted by a lush wide-open garden and a small white chapel. To describe the whole vibe of the place, I can say it's Mediterranean in style as it is evident in its architecture and landscape. With the entire complex built on a sloping terrain expect a lot of climbing up and down various staircases. Among those that I've noticed is that there's an awful lot of CRs and bells scattered throughout the place, each unique from the other.

And note the challenge I had to go though deciding on just posting 25 photos out of the lot I got from the picturesque place. So after screening the shots and carefully selecting my choices, this is all I could offer--a partial glimpse, simple snippets of the place. I wanted to see the lights illuminate the walls, but when my friend paid manong driver he told her, "Maganda yung lugar na yan, wag lang kayo magpagabi." And for whatever reason he meant about not staying there after dark, we made it a point not to prove him right. We were pretty much in a hurry to leave before sunset, though reluctant, we had to because we were starving...the ate turon and gulaman was not there to save the day. We had to share a single plate at Siraulo Cafe (a subsidiary of Bizu, so you have the price range of an Php80.00 mineral water to Php550+ entree.) One thing I will ask you to bring besides your camera is water, lots of it. Water will always taste good after an endless walk and stair climbing.

The artists featured are mostly contemporary as seen obvious by the pieces shown. Every now and then the museum would hold in exhibits, but there are also permanent pieces on display. Since the place was so huge and we were more giddy about taking pictures and exploring the place, I unfortuneately missed out on some of the artworks...most of them actually. Thus, I have every reason to go back there--I am especially looking forward to the completion of their new wing. But seeing those pieces, without even absorbing every sense of it, you will feel your Pinoy spirit being moved by the art as most subjects tackle our cultural and social issues. This theme is evidently shown in the titles of the pieces like Ondoy, Phuway-huway (resting), Alibangbang (butterfly), and Lolong and Loleng. To see different visual renditions be it in a form of a painting, a sculpture, or installation, it gives you a relieving sense of freedom living in a country with people who can express deep sentiments without external restraints. And to see such works displayed in the beautiful space sends out a lot of message in being a Filipino. I'm glad we have such people who do their part in adding color to our  society. 

The chapel, the first thing you spot the moment you enter.

It's pretty small, but there's a lot of antiques to see.

It's the first time I saw Jesus on a contemporary bed.

This is one of the first galleries you can explore.

Some art pieces are available for purchase, while some aren't.

There are a lot of nooks where you can hang out and read a book.

Even the tree is a work of art.

Obviously created by a new breed of artists.

There's so much greenery that it reminded me of the being in the province.

Using Kat as a scale, you can see how huge the paintings are.

This is a view of Siraulo Cafe. Pretty and pricey.

You can just see the beautiful Antipolo landscape beyond the wall.

We hung out in this hall-gallery for a while since it rained real hard.

These are some of the pieces that amused me.

This courtyard is one of the recent addition in the museum.

White-washed and bell towers, kinda like Santorini. 

There's just so much open spaces available that it almost seems private.

I liked this life-size green man staring into a puddle of dirty water.

"We are the kids that your parents warned you about." - love it!

This is my favorite room of all because of the colors: brown, aqua, and white.

This was one of my favorites because of the level of detail and realism.

Seeing this at the end of the wall seriously made my day. I had to smile.

Known as "The Room" it reeks of dried bamboo and the only thing you
 will hear is the water dropping off from the rock and into the pool of water.
Using the light, the ripples reflect on the wall and the effect is pretty.

No wonder the order took a while, they made it into a work of art with syrups and nuts.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sheepig for Thought #038

There's nothing I resent more than hearing parents or anyone for that matter stopping kids from being kids. I'm not amused by kids who speak like adults, they are poor little souls disillusioned by the unimaginative sense of reasoning by those around them. If a child says he wants to eat his rice in a bowl of orange juice, don't stop him just because you know it isn't tasty, he'll know that when he tries it--and perchance he may even like it. If there's one thing adults fear, it's kids proving them wrong. 

Thinking back, I thought of a lot of nonsense as a child, and I'm glad I know how wrong I was and how much I've grown from those nonsenseness. I know, nonsenseness isn't a word, but a child would think that it is so I'll stick to what I typed in even if I see red squiggly lines below the word. After all, the thought of committing a conscious mistake can be so liberating.

And to the parents of these cute kids, I took this photo back at Boracay last December 2012. I was standing at Bulabog Beach happily men-spotting when I saw these two adorable brunettes lazily walking along the beach, and I just had to snap a photo. I hope you don't mind me posting them here because the moment was far too precious not to share. :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Carmen's Best Ice Cream

After seeing the interview of Paco Magsaysay (yes, our late president's grandson) on Cocktails and listening to what he has to say about the product, I was convinced that I needed to buy it, pronto! And the horror to swearing by my word was paying the price of Php370.00 (Now costs P445.00!!!) for a pint of ice cream. I was screaming on the inside as I handed my newly received salary. The question is, is it worth it? Let me put it this way, if I'm filthy rich as identified under a Class A/B market, earning loads of cash, then it is...but the fact that I earn a sorry amount of pay every fifteen days, then it's obviously beyond a reasonable expense for my budget. The price reminded me of Haagen Dazs (it's actually more expensive than Haagen Dazs and Ben and Jerry's!!!), an unnecessary commodity but worth a try, and a rare reward to one's self. The next time you want to indulge in it, it should not come out of your pocket. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tea Tap Cafe

These pictures date back October 22, was Saturday that day, a time when the milk tea craze was still at large, and days when I'm still innocent of the term quarter-life-crisis.  Those were the days that I still found the energy to walk all day and not feel so much pain in my shin at the end of the day--wait--that was less than two years ago. ARGHHHH! 

All that I will write will be from my memory of what happened that day...I remembered a couple of things:

1. The place made me look forward to more milk tea places to pop up with nice calming interiors. 

2. The tip bin made me so happy that day...actually, it was one of the reasons why we went there in the first place.

3. Tea Tap, I realized then, is located in a place where there are lots of restaurants around as well as other milk tea places.

4. They sell cutesy stuff, some with cats on them.

5. The term "Keep Calm" was fairly uncommon then.

6. The milk tea I drank was the best tasting milk tea I had so far. It tasted full-bodied, one so good that the taste of strong black tea flavor still haunts the other milk teas I've been drinking to this day.

7. I remember thinking to myself how much I want to go back there several times since that faithful day...but I never did. Why? It's too far away.

8. There's a recurring theme of cats throughout the fairly big space.

Having said that, and also knowing that the owner of Tea Tap and Kozui is one, I wish he considers opening a branch somewhere closer to those living in the southern part of the metro--The Fort area would be just perfect! 

Tea Tap Café
Ongpauco Sisters Bldg. P. Guevarra
cor. Wilson St., San Juan, Metro Manila

Pet Peeve # 018

Like seriously!? 
I pity you because the Like button is intended for your friends to click, not you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Art Work: Leviathan

My rendition of the mythical sea beast Leviathan.

Every now and then I get bum out with work and being lost in the world of advertising and repetitive's hard living in a society when you have to make a living out of what you're good at but the lack of passion to pursue. I mean, advertising is a fun field to be in, but the pressure and boxed-type clients can be frustrating at times. I miss the energy of doing art just for the heck of it...and the last time I checked, it's been months since I held a brush or drew something I liked for that matter.

After watching a documentary on History channel called Beasts of the Bible, I was struck with a sudden urge to draw something fantasy-related. Drawing fantasy is invigorating for me as it lets your imagination flow, not restricted by proper anatomy or even logic. I loved fantasy as long as I could remember, and I still do today as is evident in my choice of movies, videogames, and books. I've bought a lot of references in my interest to learn about mythology including a dictionary of angels and faeries, collection of fantasy creatures, and an encyclopedia about steampunk. I'm still looking into finding a good book about dragons since the one I have is 32-pages thin, as well as a complete bestiary reference.

My Steampunk Bible...I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

So, the one I did is the sea-monster named Leviathan, mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Job. It is translated in Hebrew as "whale", but apparently a lot went on over the years and the simple term was lost in translation as now it is considered as a sea dragon or serpent with all sorts of descriptions. I was first introduced to the Leviathan as a GF (Guardian Force) in Final Fantasy VIII, and the creature stuck to my head since then.

I had four animal-inspirations for this piece; the entire anatomy is basically structured after an Asian dragon except the head which is more western in influence. The body color I got the inspiration from a tiger shark with its perfect camouflage in blue waters as the stripe effect blends in with rippled water when you look from above, and the bright color on its lower half to mimic the sunlight when you look from below. The head was in reference with a cobra's hood to make it look menacing because it's cool. The fourth and last animal I referenced it from is the stingray's tail as a barb stings out of its dorsal fin. When it extends it's actually a pectoral fin, it flattens out to look like a stingray. The tip of its barb excretes poison and can easily rip off flesh. It mostly feeds of big game fishes such as tunas, sailfishes, groupers, and even dolphins. The leviathan's size can reach over 60-feet at maturity, and can weigh for over a ton, and ages up to two-hundred years. That's all I know...or at least that's all I'm using to describe the creature that I drew. 

It was the first time, in a long time, that I used watercolor so it kinda looks sucky, besides, I did it all in one afternoon as I watched the show so my only consolation is that I got it done in one sitting and it isn't terrible. Its anatomy, I'm aware, does not qualify it as a viable sea creature with the lack of gills and the limitation I did with the anatomy of its head, but hey, I needed a mental break so doing this came with the lack of desire to make it a believable creature. After all, what is fantasy but an exaggerated impression of reality?

Tiger shark from

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rustic Mornings by Isabelo

When dealing with breakfast--by that I mean the time of day wherein you eat the meal early in the morning and not the tapsilog you eat at 4 pm--it's best to be mentally aware that you have the rest of the day ahead to burn the calories you're about to take, thus you shouldn't hold back. Apparently on this faithful day we needed all the energy we could get for our day ahead at Pinto Museum because we didn't know what was coming.

We arrived starving...the kind wherein we ate popcorn for dinner the night before and a glass of water that morning before heading out to the resto. I say, when you're hungry and lack the proper brain protein, you tend to say funny things. Such was the case of my friend Cesca, who, was so frustrated with the heavy glass pitcher that she suddenly blurted, "Kainis, ambigat...pwede ko ba siyang basagin para gumaan?"

Of course, it would've been rude not to laugh at her suggestion, because we are those kind of friends.

The selection was good, the kind wherein you want to order at least three dishes just to satisfy your urge to try everything that sounds good. Thus, it is advisable to come with lots of friends for that very reason...but we apparently, unfortunately, all craved for waffles that morning. Dammit.

I must sit here next time!!!

The opposite view from where we sat.

We sat at the far corner because it was packed when we got there.

Getting there, our only landmark was the Shoe Museum...but we were there for breakfast so we skipped the museum and found ourselves in front of a big blue gate with a Rustic Mornings logo tarp attached to it. One look and you get the impression that the one who runs the place is an artist to a certain degree. This is apparently true when I read an article in llovermarikina that the owner used to be in advertising...either in creatives or in accounts, she gave up the field to pursue a greater love. And based on personal experiences, advertising people know what they want--they visualize it and make it happen, either on their own or ask people to do it for them. I can see that they know where they're going with their branding and it makes sense, very much. The place is filled with knickknacks and thinggymagiggles, but the thing that I do believe stood out were the multitude of perfume bottles stuck in corners or dangled on up. Art pieces were also consistently found throughout the venue.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that what I'm looking for in a restaurant these days is the interior and the ambiance, food is turning out to be secondary. I'm starting to scout out places worth hanging in and taking pictures, the taste of the food I can always tolerate as I'm learning to appreciate all kinds of flavors except really bad and soulless food. Anyway...

Rustic Mornings deliver a good ambiance with oldies tracks that were tastefully selected to aid aimless conversations. It's another one of those places that I am both thankful and envious of ever existing. There are a lot of tables available with ample distances; it gives you a feeling of privacy and exclusivity especially with a very homey setup. I love love love the interior of their clearly defines their term for rustic mornings. There's a lot of blue and white involved...and notice how they did the tiles on the floor? 

Their menu has a good layout, but their utensils were quite heavy that you need both hands to share your food with the person across the table. Each set of chairs and tables slightly differ from one another but is lovely to look at as a whole. It's that kind of thing that nothing makes sense that's why it makes sense altogether.

Waffles, Buffalo Chicken Strips, and Salad  (Php250.00)

Frothy Lemon Iced Tea (Php50.00)

Filipino Breakfast Tray: Beef Tapa (Php235.00)

Sausage Spaghetti bathing in olive oil (Php200.00)

Thanks for the chocolate Kat! :)

Crispy Waffle (Php150.00)

Food...they say their crispy waffles are the best sellers. I have no argument because they are good--light and crispy. Unlike other waffles that stretches out when pulled, this one can be heard crunching when sliced. Their homemade syrup was also so good that I had to drown my waffle with it on every bite.

The rice meals were also satisfying especially with the free-range eggs as made obvious by the almost-orange color of the's just that I wasn't so crazy about their fried rice...could barely taste the garlic and the "friedness" of the rice. The meat was so-so...I describe it as home cooking--comfort food would be an appropriate term for it--you know, with a motherly touch on the taste.

ARGHHHHH! I missed on dessert because I was so stuffed by the time I ate a meal-and-a-half that I'd want to go back there someday soon. I'm thinking of dining in earlier than brunch as people do tend to come in groups so you're left to whatever seat is available by then. I'm still bitter I didn't get to eat indoors.

Open everyday, from 8am until 4pm.
#11 Isabelo Mendoza St. San Roque, 
Marikina City

*Disclaimer: some photos are by Cesca C.