Roasted Chicken A la Bicolana

I was supposed to write this article last December but the holiday rush, preparation and celebration with the family kept me from doing so.

This article though came in timely as my previous articles for this month were all about gifts (not your usual gift in a box with a ribbon) and the value of serving others through your gifts. I actually didn’t expect that last Sunday’s lecture will also be about that. Ah yes, it always is a wonder how things can be intertwined all because of God’s mysterious ways. 🙂

What is serving and how can we serve in a biblical sense?

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45

“…and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:27-28

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ – Matthew 25:40

I believe one way of honoring God and showing our thanks to Him is by sharing that love to others too. Let’s just say that you felt how much God loves you and it is just too wonderful to keep it to yourself that’s why you wanted to let others know and feel that kind of love as well.

In doing so, they might wonder what is it that’s been fueling your actions and though they might not understand it at first, this can be your perfect response – out of love.

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

In the aspect of serving, we do find ourselves doing that knowingly or unknowingly with our families first and foremost. So last Christmas, I thought about preparing this roasted chicken recipe which was the first in the family’s Christmas celebration tradition.

Do take note though that I am no chef. lol 😀

I was just inspired and taught by my 3 older sisters who are very good in the kitchen and have such superb cooking skills they can invent their own recipe. Yup, no kidding. They really are that good.

Being the youngest, I grew up being the dishwasher. Haha Yes, you won’t believe it but my brother and I take turns in washing the dishes when we were younger. We are the two youngest members in the family, by the way.

On a side note, I just love being in a big family. You might not get to see or talk to all of them at the same time, yet you’ll still have one sibling to bug about every week aside from your parents. 😀

Anyway, as for my roasted chicken recipe, let’s just say I combined all the roasted chicken recipes I could find over the internet and came up with a “hybrid” roasted chicken. 😉

Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken A la Bicolana

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

1 bunch of lemongrass

1 cup butter

½ cup tomato ketchup

1 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons salt

5 cloves whole garlic

2 teaspoons slightly crushed black pepper

4 onions cut into 4 parts

Procedure:

  1. Combine all the ingredients except for butter.
  2. Place the onions, garlic and lemongrass inside the chicken and marinate overnight.
  3. Prepare the butter and remaining marinade for basting.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit and cook for about 1 hour or until the chicken is tender.
  5. Top it with garnishing, serve and enjoy!

I intend to make this a yearly tradition – out of love for God, love for family and joy in serving others. 🙂

P.S.

Oh and one mistake from the roasted chicken recipe – don’t prepare 1 roasted chicken ONLY especially when there are about 8 persons hoping to try it. lol 

I was expecting it to be served as an additional dish along with other meals but it became the main course – ooopps, my mistake. So yes, Mom wasn’t able to try it as she ate late and sadly, no roasted chicken leftover. I have this year to make up for it though. 😀

One thing more, the turbo broiler is a kitchen winner for me, nothing beats. ❤

Turbo Broiler

Turbo Broiler Moment

 

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All The Way To Tagaytay

Another long overdue article here. 😀

I did mention in my previous articles I have quite a pile of article drafts for editing and publishing and I am in a rush to publish them all (hopefully) while I am in a period of waiting and time is still on my side.

The summer escapade for me and hubby along with his family for this year was in the cool breeze of Tagaytay. We just had to take advantage of the summer season before the rainy days start to fill the last quarters of our calendar. It was a short holiday break thus the rest of the family members were all free to have this short family time and get-together.

It always is a privilege to spend some quality time with the family despite the busy schedules and varying demands of priorities in life – something that is far too precious to waste. My parents are in Bicol which is a 17-hour land travel to get directly to our hometown. Now that is something that I don’t have the privilege to do. Going to my hometown meant allotting 1 day for travel time then another day to rest which, after doing the Math, requires at least a week if you want to make the most and the best out of your family get-together. Simply put, visiting my family in Bicol is synonymous to careful planning ahead of the scheduled visit.

But well, this is the part where I need to thank God for technology. Skype made the term “homesickness” just a term. Again, family time meant quality time and this requires we set aside time for this despite the busy schedules. If most of us have the same free time, my family and I are able to Skype with one another once a week. And Skype-ing in the family means this – the minimum talking time is 4 hours starting at around 9 or 10pm.

Wuhaaat?!?! 😀

Yep, you can already hear the rooster crowing and we’re still on our “high” conversing with one another. Well, that’s for us, women in the family. For the men, 2 hours is the maximum and they bid their “goodbyes” in the middle of our conversation. The ever popular difference of men and women, eh? 😀

Anyway, going back to the Tagaytay escapade, we tried the Pamana restaurant with its awesome overlooking view of the Taal Lake and the food was superb too. I only captured shots of some dishes though, the long trip sure made us all pretty hungry.

I also loved the interiors which exude the ambiance of an old Hispanic house. Indeed, the concept of the restaurant matched with its name “Pamana,” a Tagalog term for heirloom/inheritance.

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Captivating, isn’t it?

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We also scouted for anything new in the area which includes this food park called “StrEat.” We didn’t get to try the food stalls though as it’s flocked with a huge crowd when we got there. The next day, there was no plan where we will have our summer escapade. We’ve been traveling without a destination actually and we came to that point of giving up and just head back home because all the resorts we’ve inquired were fully booked. Well, it’s summer so we kind of expected that.

When we were on the verge of turning back, voila, God gave us one resort that’s not so jam packed with visitors but the place was nice (and budget friendly) enough to bond with the family. Hotel Monticello was indeed “heaven sent”  hubby and I actually thought it’d be perfect for a wedding reception too. We couldn’t spend overnight though as we’re only geared up for a day tour. When we arrived, we had all the pool to ourselves which means this – LOTS OF SELFIES! Hahaha 😀

Nope, don’t get me wrong, I seldom take selfies. You can actually check my Instagram account for that. I just choose moments best for selfies and those moments that are not. And I only take selfies when nobody’s around, not even my hubby. 😀

Hotel Monticello

Selfie moment. My ever seldom selfie moment. 

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But really, when it comes to moments, there are just those that a camera snap isn’t enough to capture them all. I guess that’s the reason why God created our memories, an infinite storage at the back of our heads where every single memory is captured and safely stored.

So this one article is up in the memory of my head, but in case I have amnesia days or years from now, I have WordPress to retell and rewind them for me. Ah yes, the joys and perks of blogging – your online journal indeed. 🙂

P.S.

WordPress, please don’t ever shut down. Like, EVER. 😀

Oh and check out this amusing video of my hubby and sister-in-law. Reminds me of my brother and I – siblings moment, they are. 😉

 

 

Expressing The Bicolana In Me: BICOL EXPRESS

It’s been quite a while since I last posted about food (I love food but I hate gluttony thus striking the balance)  and I bet it is time I post one of my recipes. Not exactly my recipe as this is a traditional dish from my hometown in the Bicol region. Thus, where the name Bicol Express was derived.

You will commonly see this dish served during meal time in our home in Bicol. My Mom and Dad always make this as a side dish which perfectly partners with any viand. There are now a lot of variations of this recipe including the one with coconut milk which contains more meat and less green chilies.

I grew up getting used to this dish prepared and cooked having only 3 main ingredients: lots of green chilies, fresh shrimp paste, and pork meat. It’s also very easy to prepare as you’d only need to saute the pork meat along with garlic, add the fresh shrimp paste until cooked and lastly, put in the green chilies. Then wait until the aroma of the chilies come out and it’s ready to be served.

To give you a background on my cooking experience, it was only when I was 20 years old that I started learning how to cook. I am the youngest among 5 siblings and I have 3 older sisters who are amazing in the kitchen – I ended up being the dishwasher and the kitchen assistant (prep the ingredients). lol

My sisters though knew I needed to learn sooner or later as time will come we’ll all go our separate ways one by one and I need to hone my cooking skills to be able to live and survive independently.

They’ve been such great teachers who raised me to who I am now in behalf of my Mom as she and Dad stayed in our hometown in Bicol starting when I turned 16 and came here in Manila to study in college. The cooking skills I’ve acquired from them proved to be of great help now that I am married – got to please my hubby’s tummy. *wink*

It is, therefore, with such gratitude that I give back to God for blessing me with awesome siblings and to my sisters for teaching me the art of cooking and with everything else.

Bon appetit! 

Tin Ginete-Rome

Bicol Express

A Father’s Day Special: Courageous

This movie review is a Father’s Day tribute to honor the roles of the father in the family and in society. If you are wondering why I don’t have a Mother’s Day tribute here in my blog for this year, hubby and I went home to my province and celebrated it with my 69-year old Mom and 91-year old grandma – two great matriarchs in my family.

Time has it that I can’t visit my hometown again and celebrate Father’s Day this June 19 with my 76-year old Dad. I thought about honoring my Dad here instead. Since he is not updated with the technology-driven world, he’d probably joke around saying what I wrote about him over social media will already “expire”  before it reaches him. Yup, funny, my Dad is. 😉

Even funnier when you see this photo of us around year 2011. 😀

Before I proceed with the movie review, I’d like to share some snippets on who my Dad is. My brother wrote an essay about him 11 years ago which was selected as one of the articles read at the graduation rites of my brother’s class (Sanlingan 2005)  in the Philippine Military Academy. When the announcer started reading Kuya’s essay during the ceremony, there came the gushing and shedding of tears – our tears. It did bring us all to tears because my brother was right, our Dad is “The Unsung Hero” and yet loved and respected by all.

Taken inside the cockpit of the Cessna aircraft during Kuya’s Naval Aviation Group Graduation year 2010.

Our Dad is a man of few words and yet he cracks the silliest of jokes. He is seldom the disciplinarian and yet when discipline comes from him, we all remembered this need to hide as his discipline would mean leaving a mark for the rest of your life. He seldom gets angry but when he does, it is the kind of anger that you would not want to see.

I am grateful though to my Dad for this thing called “discipline.”  If it wasn’t for this, our lives might be in a total mess right now, without direction. Now that I am a believer, I have learned that discipline in a family is very important not to show who’s the boss in the household but for parents to guide their children in the right way and in the right things only because they love them and only wanted the best for them. Just like how God disciplines and rebukes us, a Father to His sons and daughters, so we could live fruitful and better lives.

My Mom is never the stage mom type and when I was in grade school, I was always invited to participate in dance numbers, presentations, oral declamations, etc. So you’ve probably guessed who was with me most of the time in those instances – my Dad. 😀

It is a #FlashbackFriday today so please allow me to backtrack a little bit further to when I was in grade school just to share some photos of moi and the extra curricular activities I have mentioned:

Sitting in with the Grade 1 class as I am still a year younger.

Preparing for an ati-atihan folk dance number when I was 6 years old. That’s me second to the right.

Before there was Walking Dead, there was zombie dance. lol Seriously, this is a Hawaiian dance number.

Before Walking Dead, there was zombie dance. lol Seriously, this is a Hawaiian dance number.

Grade 3, Star Scout Camping. There’s another star scouter wanting to have her photo taken with me before our dance number – except that she became a photo bomber. Tsk, too late. 😀

Loving my childhood because of Girl Scout Camping. This was during our hiking and swimming at Obou Falls.

Loving my childhood because of Girl Scout Camping. This was during our hiking and swimming at Obou Falls with childhood friends and classmates. That’s me in the middle wearing a white shirt.

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Playing the role of a bridesmaid.

Competed with other schools in the folk dance category during the Literary & Musical Contest.

Competed with other schools in the folk dance category during the Literary & Musical Contest.

School play during my last year in grade school and played the role Thisbe in the Greek story "Pyramus and Thisbe."

School play during my last year in grade school and played the role of Thisbe in one of the stories in Greek mythology, “Pyramus and Thisbe.”

I’d just like to give credit to my Dad for being our all-time photographer – these photos and memories wouldn’t have been made possible. Nope, I am not a Daddy’s girl and I do not consider myself as one. I never experienced being so absolutely clingy to my Dad but at some point I did feel a deeper connection with him more than my Mom when I was in high school. But when I got into college, I felt that both my parents did so well in raising us all and they never had any favoritism on any of us five siblings.

I believe one thing that I am forever grateful to God is the fact that I grew up with both my parents present through every milestone that we went through. Though we all had to leave home when we all went to college, we always look forward to the days wherein we will all come home together and both our parents are there to welcome us.

As for my Dad, I admired him for being a civil engineer by weekdays and farmer by weekends (tending farms is difficult)  just to make sure we have enough for all our expenses as a family while Mom was a grade school teacher on weekdays and stayed at home cleaning, gardening, cooking and doing take-home work on weekends. But this kind of setup didn’t mean Dad had no time for us at home. It was, on the other hand, quite the opposite. Despite juggling through a lot of responsibilities at work and at home, my Dad made sure all our needs (not just material things)  were well provided for including emotional support, bonding time, etc.

Dad, the civil engineer, fresh from oath taking during his late 20s.

Dad, the civil engineer, fresh from oath taking during his late 20s.

Dad, the farmer, and me, the farm girl. I mean, the photographer. ;-)

Dad, the farmer, and me, the farm girl. I mean, the photographer. 😉

I’d like to share at this point a little trivia on me – I was Daddy’s little maid. We all are actually but I believe it is more of a “youngest”  thing. *wink*  Yes, every time he is cutting grass in the garden with the lawn mower and he was all sweaty, here goes him calling out to his “errand girl”:

“Nen (my nickname which is short for Nene)! Please get me a glass of cold water and towelette and wipe my back dry from sweat.” 

Then after a hard day’s work at the farm, here comes Daddy calling me out to give him a back massage while he is resting. When I was little, back massages for my Dad means I am to do my “cat walk”  on his back while he’s lying face down. Well, that was before I was skinny and little. When I grew older, it became the regular back massage.

It was only when I was in college and the only child in the family still studying that my parents were able to gather enough funds for our house to have it completely constructed – the product of all their hard work, patience and persistence. But it is more than just constructing a house that they have built for they have actually built something greater in us over the years.

Reminiscing our younger moments spent with our parents, we saw and we were taught how to value hard work over riches and accumulation of possessions, quality time with loved ones than splurging and being with a lot of people on grand occasions, and being content with whatever we have. They didn’t particularly instruct us with bible verses on how to live our lives but now that I am slowly learning the bible day by day, I realized that my parents brought us up according to the Scripture – live life simply with fear in the Lord.

To end this part, I’d like to share this text message that my Dad texted me about a current challenge that I am going through. This was in the vernacular (Bicol), so I’d just translate it for you:

“As long as you trust in yourself, you trust in God and if it is meant for you, it will and it will come.”

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Of course, Mom also has something similar regarding another event which I informed her yesterday:

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Never mind the exclamation point because my Mom wasn’t angry nor excited, she just wanted to emphasize the last statement. That is how my Mom texts – stressed words in capital letters accompanied by exclamation points at the end a.k.a. generation gap. lol I’m just kidding. It’s a good thing my Mom doesn’t read this. But if she does, errrr, love you Mom! 😀

Another thing, praise God for Skype – long distance relationships now have been made easier to deal with. My Dad, through me, might sound like such a perfect man to anyone reading this. But honestly, like any Dad in this world, he is not perfect either. Well, let’s just say he’s just close to being perfect. I chose to see him that way despite his imperfections. He is our hero, anyway.

“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12

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Year 2012 portrait of Mom and Dad. 🙂

Now on to the movie review. This is by far one of the best movies I have watched with the main focus on fathers. If I have to commend the Kendricks brothers for producing such great Christian films, that is for the reason that majority of the scenes portrayed all depict real-life situations. Although we can say that some were tweaked to fit the entire theme of the movie, I wouldn’t give it much of a consideration actually. Moreover, if all the scenes were to happen in real life, some may take quite some time to take place and not according to how the movie scenes have been sequenced and yet what is important is the lesson behind it according to the Christian faith.

Not all relationships and marriages are the same. It always is a case to case basis and yet watching it now made me know what to expect and what to do if time comes I’m walking on similar shoes with that of the movie characters. I highly encourage all the young men out there, fathers, and soon-to-be fathers to watch this film and I am praying they, too, will step up to the place that God has called them to be – to be Godly leaders or future leaders of their homes. My husband and I watched it together and what he blurted to me after watching was this,

“Honey, can you look up on the internet for more movies like that?” 

Ah yes, that’s an affirmation, a positive response. I was just glad that was the kind of response that the movie elicited from him. I wasn’t expecting anything at all regarding my husband’s reaction though I did my research what the movie was all about prior to watching. I just thought we’ll view it like any regular “chill time”  movie that we come across and watch during rest days.

Praise God for sending the Spirit and the guidance (preparing the hearts, minds and souls) how to take the movie in. I only recommend movies if I rated it with 5 stars (very good)  meaning it made such a life-changing impact on me i.e. how I view things, my perspective and reactions on certain things, my lifestyle, attitude and character, etc. No second thoughts, no hesitations, I am definitely recommending this.

Hubby and I watched it a couple of weeks ago and we both agreed this is such a perfect movie to watch on Father’s Day. Thus, I’ll cut this short for now and let you watch it but first, don’t forget to shower your Dad with much love and appreciation on his special day as a father. 🙂

The Ginete family at Dad’s ancestral house circa 1993 and my favorite sheepish, no-teeth smile which I never seem to outgrow. 😀

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE FATHERS and most especially to my ONE, GREAT FATHER from up above, FATHER GOD! ❤

RESOLUTION

“…I now believe that God desires for EVERY father to courageously step up and do whatever it takes to be involved in the lives of his children. But more than just being there providing for them, he is to walk with them through their young lives and be a visual representation of the character of God, their father in heaven.

A father should love his children, and seek to win their hearts. He should protect them, discipline them, and teach them about God. He should model how to walk with integrity and treat others with respect, and should call out his children to become responsible men and women, who live their lives for what matters in eternity.

Some men will hear this, and mock it. Or ignore it. But I tell you that as a father, you are accountable to God for the position of influence He has given you. You can’t fall asleep at the wheel, only to wake up one day and realize that your job or your hobbies have no eternal value, but the souls of your children do.

Some men will hear this and agree with it, but have no resolve to live it out. Instead, they will live for themselves, and waste the opportunity to leave a godly legacy for the next generation.

But there are some men, who regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, regardless of what our fathers did NOT do for us, will give the strength of our arms and the rest of our days to loving God with all that we are and to teach our children to do the same.

And whenever possible to love and mentor others who have no father in their lives, but who desperately need help and direction. And we are inviting any man whose heart is willing and courageous, to join us in this resolution.

In my home, the decision has already been made. You don’t have to ask who will guide my family, because by God’s grace, I will. You don’t have to ask who will teach my son to follow Christ, because I will.

Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? I will. Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family’s history? I will. Who will pray for, and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? I am their father. I will.

I accept this responsibility and it is my privilege to embrace it. I want the favor of God and His blessing on my home. Any good man does. So where are you men of courage? Where are you, fathers who fear the Lord? It’s time to rise up and answer the call that God has given to you and to say I will. I will. I will!”

– Adam Mitchell, COURAGEOUS

Hidden Paradise: Bicol’s Virgin Beaches

If I will be allowed to be proud of something, that I will reserve for the beautiful beaches that my hometown offers. I grew up in the province and as a kid, summertime with family means scouting local beaches and nature hopping from rivers, falls to springs and mountains.

It is through this that I got to appreciate nature at its best in its original beauty. Yes, that kind of beauty that is not tampered by man or any modernization. I have somehow developed this kind of appreciation when it comes to what is beautiful and having gone to commercialized beaches such as Boracay, I must say that I wasn’t fascinated that much at all compared to the ecstatic feeling I get every time my eyes lay upon the sight of paradise in its original state – how God created them and not how man created them.

It was this appreciation that taught me to love nature and care for it as if its part of me. I actually wanted to promote in our province, in light of this, an advocacy to tourists and locals alike how to enjoy nature’s bounty and yet at the same time, preserve its natural beauty. Commercialization of beaches as tourist spots means a flock of tourists which is also equivalent to more use of resources as well as more litter. The latter is what becomes far too common in all commercialized beaches.

I do not mean to be selfish and enjoy the luscious and diverse beauty that nature can offer just by myself, and yet it saddens me to know the fact that not all tourists have the same kind of appreciation and concern as I do. Seeing a single trash along the seashore is enough to make me furious and the first thing that goes into my head is this – how irresponsible the person who threw this trash is. Now this is something I should not do, for it is not right – judging and thinking negatively about any person. It is similar to committing a crime in God’s standards.

Instead of that accusing thought though, I might as well divert my thoughts how I could partner with the local government units in preserving local beaches which include but is not limited to informing the public (tourists and locals) about a policy that will implement stricter discipline when it comes to taking good care of nature. And I mean STRICTER DISCIPLINE.

I told my husband that this summer, instead of going to commercialized and expensive hotels and resorts (being the practical me), I suggested we visit my family in the province, celebrate Mother’s Day there and scout for local beaches which is what my family would usually do during summertime. So we went to this beach which is a 30-minute drive from home and we usually spend our family outing there during the summer and once during Christmas. What we saw next was the ultimate paradise deal.

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Mt. Bulusan in the background, the province’s active volcano.

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Combination of patches of seaweeds and sand.

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This beach is an inlet rich of diverse marine ecosystem and at the end of the reef is the Pacific Ocean. Pretty deep this ocean. So if you are not a swimmer like me, better stay a little closer to the shore. My husband is adventurous and yet when we both saw the different sea creatures we found in the reefs, we were fascinated and yet a little scared at the same time. He started joking that there might be a great white which somehow got inside the shallow reefs as there were plenty of other sea creatures to feed on.

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Something pink underneath.

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There’s the edible seaweed.

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My foot was here.

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Funny hubby with his signature wacky pose.

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There’s me introducing the rock.

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Well, it is a possibility, I told him and yet it should not hinder us from exploring what else does that inlet could offer. Besides, my family and I have been there a couple of times already and we never encountered or heard any incident about shark attacks or a jellyfish sting even. Although we saw this jellyfish-like sea creature which we could not identify whether an eel, a variety of a jellyfish or a sea snake. It looked harmless as local kids were poking it and covering it with sand. We tried to uncover it after they left but we couldn’t find a solid object to remove the heavy sand away. Besides, it is heaving so we know it is still alive.

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Local children covering the slimy sea creature with sand.

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Low tides are a great opportunity for me to explore what is on the ocean floor. Being a lover of Science (probably because my Mom used to be a Science teacher), I love exploring everything most especially when it comes to nature. I even thought that maybe I would’ve ended better if I pursued a degree in Biology. But that is not God’s plans for me. Or maybe it is, I just don’t know. Yet.  *smiles*

For me, the sea is a huge exploration ground. Very ironic because I do not know how to swim. Now you must be wondering how did that ever happen. Well, I am wondering about that too. *wink*  But I never let anything hinder when it comes to pursuing things that I am interested about.

So back to our seafloor exploration, we found a live snail, a small one and hubby and I enjoyed observing how it attempted to raise  “himself” up back to its crawling position. I didn’t know that a snail has a tiny claw/hook of some sort and it is fascinating to know that that hook is strong enough to lift itself up considering the hardness of the shell. We wanted to take a video of it but unfortunately we left our cameras already as we decided to swim and explore and we didn’t bring any waterproof camera case with us.

Oh and this edible seaweed. We eat them raw and just dip it in lime juice. It is a perfect side dish for barbecues or grilled fish. We call it as  “lato.” We saw local fishermen harvesting them during low tide somewhere before the reef ends and big waves from the Pacific Ocean hit the side of the reef or the wall of the continental shelf.

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The Pacific Ocean and the continental shelf.

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Our harvest.

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Harvesting a big one.

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We got to the beach about lunch time and after 2 hours, the tides begun to rise. Hubby and I waited as each small patch of dried seaweed start to be submerged in water again. We did swim nearby when the water level became high enough but because it was late in the afternoon approaching night time, we decided to take our leave and let nature have her rest too – it was feeding time for the sea creatures. Yep, we don’t want to be part of their food chain so out we went and just took photos around.

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High tide is finally here.

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White sand it is.

Indeed, right they are when they say that in order to keep things balanced with nature, you have to know your limits. Hubby usually is the adventurous type and is always on the go. But this time, it made me smile when I saw him learn to have this respect and love for nature out of awe and fascination. This was the same kind of awe and fascination that I first had when I was a kid which made me love and care for nature because I have learned to understand our relationship with it. We felt guilty though when we showed some locals the seaweeds that we were able to harvest and they said it was the right one but they usually pluck the stems out but leave the roots so it could reproduce.  *insert sad face here*

But it made me smile still. It means that they already know their limits as to the proper use of nature’s resources and how to take good care of her and this will be very essential in informing tourists like me about the limitations/boundaries between man and nature. 🙂

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God’s awesome creation, including him. 😉

The Christian From Bicol

(This is an excerpt from this post I have written back in November 2013 during the Typhoon Yolanda. I thought this particular content deserves to have it’s own separate article with a different title this time.)

Wherever God would take me, whatever God would give me, I will bring with me two identities: first, I am a Christian and second, I am a Bicolana.

I can never be more proud of anything I have and whoever I have become other than those two I have mentioned above.

Why a Christian? I am nothing and nobody without my God, first and foremost. My identity is in Him and I believe I need not say more as it is what it already is. 🙂

Why a Bicolana then? Ahh, this is most likely where I’ll be explaining more.

I grew up in the province. I spent more than half of my life there. As of writing, that is. There’s no other place that I could ever call ‘home’ except Bulan. Yes, that is my hometown, a small town in the city of Sorsogon somewhere in the southernmost part of Luzon.

Sorsogon City is a coastal area surrounded by beaches of all sand color from white, pink, to black –  you name it, we have it. Rich of natural resources, fishing and farming have been the sources of livelihood with almost all the Bulanons (that’s how we generally call ourselves).

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Fishing

If there is one value that being a Bicolana has taught me, it would be this – knowing your roots. In other words, learn to look back from your humble beginnings. Bulan is the one thing that has taught me how it is to be humble and to be grateful. Humility bespeaks when the heart is in awe of the mediocre. I know you are going to agree with me right there.

I came from a family of farmers. My parents, my grandparents and the parents before them all came from humble beginnings. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. Gratitude is what I could offer to my ancestors for the sacrifices and hard work that they have invested in providing the best for their families.

I came from a generation wherein I don’t have to go to the fields and do the farming myself and go home with sweaty clothes covered in mud just to pay for all of my expenses and supply my needs. An experience I never had to go through and yet something that I would want to go through.

CIRCA 1980s: My mom, aunts, uncles along with my grandparents.

CIRCA 1980s: My mom, aunts, uncles along with my grandparents.

They say that for someone to appreciate the value of something less than its market value and more of its sentimental value, you have to work hard for it and have it like how it is usually done and achieved. You have to sweat it out, so to speak.

I was listening to the podcast of Pastor Christian Flores regarding Victory’s new series entitled “It’s Not About The Money” two Sundays ago and he mentioned about the story of a farmer and how this farmer has invested his earnings in acquiring an even bigger barn where he could store more which actually resulted to his own destruction.

That made me thought about our farm, our farmers and what do we really get from it. For starters, our farm house did not change though how many years and decades have passed. We are earning just enough and we are still living frugal lives though we have acquired some possessions through time – still, I think it is not about the money. Money, for us, is something that has to do with survival but never to accumulate great wealth and live grandiose, rich lives.

I might be speaking out of righteousness here but if you will personally ask me, that is how I think it should be. I do not wish to dwell on this matter then and will just leave all the explaining to our Pastors as they lead us on with the series – a reason for you to stay tuned for our upcoming podcasts or better yet visit a nearby Victory church: http://victory.org.ph/. (Sorry for the shameless plugging, but I felt you would understand it better if the explaining would come from our church leaders).

victoryqc.org

victoryqc.org

This is the season of harvesting and when I went home during the holidays last November 1 and 2, I chanced upon the last harvest in our farm. I have skin asthma and as much as I should be staying away from hay, I know it would not stop me from going along with my Dad. I suffered the consequences later on – cough got worse and itchy rashes came out that last for usually a week leaving black spots on my skin which then stay on for about how many months.

The last time I have been with my Dad during harvesting was when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I could still remember how our parents would ask us (not really me as I was way too young, but my sisters and brother) to help in drying the “palay”  we have harvested so they could be sold to the millers for a good price before they then sell it to the market.

Yes, how could I really forget all the scurrying here and there, to and fro when dark clouds come and heavy rains start to pour. It only means sweeping the grains, piling and covering them up as FAST as you can to prevent them from getting wet, thus lowering the chances of getting a low price as “palay”  buyers measure the moisture content of the rice grains. The drier the grain is, the higher its market value.

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Threshing of palay.

My Dad is not a farmer per se. He is a civil engineer who juggled two occupations at the same time – that of a farmer and a superintendent at the National Irrigation Administration in the Bicol region (officially at San Ramon, OIC in Masbate and Sorsogon City). He is now 74 years old, retired from his engineering career and yet a continuing farmer. I have always admired my Dad how at his age still manages to do what he would always do at the farm despite his arthritis, gout attacks, hypertension, cataract and other illnesses of the aged. Although we don’t dry the harvested rice grains anymore to lessen the stress level of all the scurrying and hurrying, tending the farm is still a busy and a lot of work to do.

I went to the farm with my Dad not to harvest the grains myself and have them threshed out but witness how it is usually done. I have to get into the particulars as to how to do this and that. Well, I might consider farming as my job someday. Yes, “Tin”  the farm girl. *wink*  I think I heard my Kuya’s sarcastic chuckle back there again. Haha Yeah, right. And yes, I wanted to observe how our farmers do it – our trusted and loyal workers. I admired them more than I have admired an office employee (no offense to office-based workers). But hard labor is no easy job. Exposed in the heat of the sun, bending over for hours either planting rice seedlings or harvesting them, soaked in mud or inhaling the itchy hay dust when threshing are, for me, among the most challenging tasks.

I closely looked at all of them. I saw Tio Digoy and Tio Kadog – they are the oldest among all of them. They have been working for my Dad since I was a kid. Now, their sons are working for us as well. I have learned to love them for all that they have put up for me and my family. I am praying that through us, their sons, daughters and grandchildren will one day have a better future because of their parents and grandparents’ hard work. Though that means we might lose workers in our farms, it would also be equivalent to giving everyone the chance to have better lives than what they have now.

I am praying too that someday there will no longer be a need for manual labor and everything will be run by machines operated in a clean office from planting to harvesting rice. That goes as well for harvesting coconuts and converting them into copra. The team of Tio Digoy also does them for us. Skilled, they really are. My family and I will always be grateful to them. We will always be grateful to Him for any blessing that He has bestowed as well as for His guidance and protection not just to me and my family but to our skilled workers and their families as well.

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Coconuts being made into copra.

So if most think this is what I do in Bicol:

Nope, that’s not it because this is what I usually do:

"Tin, The Farm Girl"

“Tin, The Farm Girl”

Quite the opposite, right? Well, aside from washing the dishes, cleaning the house, feeding the pets, etc. and having a little vacation time actually. We have no helpers or house maids back home and here in Manila, by the way. As it is written in the bible:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 10:45

Let’s all live a life of servitude, shall we my dear brothers and sisters? 🙂

A More Appreciative 2016

Ahhh, yes. FINALLY. 🙂

It feels good to be back posting my thoughts in this special place I call “blog.” It’s been a month since I last posted as I’ve promised myself to keep the holidays as solemn as possible – an opportunity to spend quality time with me and my husband’s families and loved ones which equates to less social media interaction and doing the actual interaction with people. Yes, I still believe forging stronger relationships can only be done through meaningful conversations, moments of laughter, of just sitting there, reminiscing and just being with people you love.

Honestly and personally, the beginning of this year didn’t start well for me and my family. An incident during the New Year’s eve wherein my niece had a bad fall while we were using sparklers and a disagreement with my hubby made me tell him that this was the first New Year’s eve that didn’t go right and as happy or perfect. I thought of it as a sign or a meaning that is not just what the circumstances obviously portray.

I was too fearful back then and it was this fear that held back my freedom to try enjoyable and good things. But since I got saved, I channeled these fears of mine through prayers and relied on to God for courage. And what I will share are more like God’s answers in a visible way – a way in which we, humans, can relate. Although faith is the assurance of something that we do not see, and yet God also makes us feel His presence in ways that we can relate.

The first of these was a very visible sign – a rainbow. I know as a kid what rainbows meant, they appear after a storm. When I was in high school, Science have taught me how rainbows were created, it’s called prism. But it is God who taught me now what they really are for – to give hope. When my husband and I went to my hometown in Bicol which was struck by the typhoon Nona, the worst that was listed in the history of the town, we saw the devastation it brought upon my townspeople.

As our bus was getting nearer our hometown, I struggled to hold back the tears as I felt a piercing in my heart from what I saw – every house that we passed by was destroyed, completely roofless or blown away, electricity lines were all down, and the once luscious greenery was now leafless, brown and lifeless. I so felt the heaviness inside my heart that if given a private moment at that time, I want to drop down on my knees and weep. I know I have every right to ask God “why?” but I know God has a good reason for everything and I just have to continue seeing the good in every situation. Thus, I prayed silently in my heart – that God would give us hope.

We arrived home and was glad that my parents and my sister were safe and was extremely grateful that not one of our properties near our home was destroyed – not even our tree house! Which really was, for me, a miracle. It also survived super typhoon Yolanda  in 2013.

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Though it lifted my spirits up, I cannot stop thinking about those who will celebrate the holidays without shelter, without clean clothes, without electricity, food and jobs.

It was still early in the morning so my husband and I took the opportunity to go out the balcony at the second floor of our house which faces the rice fields and some houses. Lo and behold, our arrival was greeted by a rainbow in its full spectrum – colors as complete and as bold as they are from one end to the other. This was the first rainbow appearance that I have gazed in my entire life that is so complete. Both my husband and I were amazed, so he decided to capture the moment.

Since that day, we often see rainbows, sometimes two rainbows at the same time even. And my husband and I would just gaze up with a smile. Until came the day for us to leave my hometown. It was my sister’s birthday and to our surprise, an electrician came up to our house and informed us that they are now reinstalling electricity. Wow! We weren’t expecting it to be that soon as reports said it will take about 4-6 months to put up electric posts and lines. We teased my sister that she got the best birthday gift ever from God – electricity. 😀

And on that same day, as my husband and I boarded the bus and we were slowly leaving the town, I saw yet another rainbow in its full spectrum. As close as before even though we were in a moving vehicle. I tugged my husband’s arm and pointed the rainbow to him, that’s when I realized what God meant by rainbows. The power lines and electricity being restored were just a few of the many promises that God will fulfill and the rainbow was His sign of that promise. 🙂

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The second was during the Prayer and Fasting. My hubby and I were having disagreements about future goals that it came to the point wherein emotions were escalating. I went ahead and grabbed a stick note that belonged to my sister to better illustrate my point and started flipping its pages to find a new one when out fell a very old piece of paper. I could tell by the corners of it turned yellow by old age. I was still explaining while picking up this paper until something caught my eyes. The paper was a very old calling card and the most interesting thing about it was the name printed on that calling card, the name of a clinic – God’s Way Diagnostic Center. It looked too old that I was not even sure if the clinic still exists. 🙂

I have long given up the notion that everything happens coincidentally. Nothing happens by chance, perhaps by choice and yet there is this idea of the Grand Plan – God’s will. So I stopped talking, my husband also followed suit. I looked closely at the calling card and scrutinized every detail in it. I laughed. I smiled. My mood changed and here I was just savoring everything that was there in the calling card. Take note of what I have discovered: “God’s Way,” “man,” “United Nations,” Noe Lordan,” and “Sure ka dito.”

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I interpreted God’s message as this, if my husband and I continue to insist what we both wanted which is different from one another, we will be disappointed, we will be furious, we will have a fight and there will be no peace. BUT if we choose God’s way, then man will be united through the Lord and we will be sure of it.

I shared this to my husband, and we both agreed – God will give us the wisdom and will guide us in making the right decision in His time and at the right place. We have decided then to just include what we were disagreeing about in our Prayer and Fasting, which are now among our faith goals and settled the matter in peace. 🙂

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Last but not the least is the color “orange.” Yes, I am supposed to write this article 2nd week of January but I haven’t felt the urge to do so. And now I realized why. My sharing of testimony/revelations won’t be complete as some of them will take place just the 2nd week of January. Yes, everything in God’s time indeed. 🙂

So what about orange? Well, during the holidays I have received gifts from my loved ones and not that I am materialistic but because I am a keen observer, I was able to piece everything together. Or maybe God intended I find it out. I used to own a pen from my brother’s wedding, a green one. Somebody borrowed it and forgot to return it. I loved the pen so I asked my brother if he has spare ones. He said yes and circumstances aligned in a way that the only free time he can give it to me was over the holidays. So I got hold of the pen during the holidays and he asked me to choose from 3 colors – orange, green and blue. Blue is my favorite color, but this time, the orange pen attracted me in such a way that I chose it over the blue one. There were only two left of that color.

Then, when I opened my brother and sister-in-law’s gift to me, it was my favorite Paulo Coelho planner. Now this planner also has a very meaningful part in my spiritual journey as a Christian. And maybe that is the reason why for 3 consecutive Christmases now, I have been receiving this planner from my brother. To which I am very grateful. Nothing is ever meaningful than to write over something that God has meant for you to write on. And guess what the dominant color is in the abstract design of the cover? It is orange. 🙂

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I still wasn’t amazed by the orange thing until I remembered our Prayer and Fasting manuals, the dominant color is orange amid the black and yellow. So now…..I am beginning to wonder. There is no coincidence with God, right? 🙂

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I thought, there is something that God wanted me to find out with this orange thing. I shared this to my husband and told him, I still can’t decipher what this orange means but I know God wanted to tell me something or He wanted me to know something. This was 1st week of January. We finished the Prayer and Fasting already and yet no clear answers.

Then 2nd week of January came. My sister from Norway arrived and she brought with her gifts from her travel to Prague in Czech Republic. She made my husband and I choose between gold and bronze key chains with the engraved names of Praha and Ceska Republika. My husband chose the gold one and I happily settled with the bronze key chain. And while I was taking a macro shot of it, I noticed that bronze has a similar color to orange like tangerine. Except that it is darker. SO the orange thing was there again even from far, far away like Prague. 😉

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Now I believe God has intended I come to the conclusion of my findings. Something within me spurred the thought that I forgot to read all my devotion in Our Daily Bread since December 20 until December 31 so I did my backlogs. And voila, here’s the finding. In the December 25 devotion, the title is “Christingle.” It’s just like my name Christine, without the “g” and the “l.” Well, the reason why my Mom named me Christine was because I was born on December 22, Christmas time. 😉

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Christingle

AND here’s what I found out about Christingle. Do read along the devotion in the picture and be amazed. 🙂

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Here’s a definition of the color orange as well:

Orange is the colour between red and yellow on the spectrum of light, and in the traditional colour wheel used by painters. Its name is derived from the fruit orange.

In Europe and America orange is commonly associated with amusement, the unconventional, extroverts, warmth, fire, energy, activity, danger, taste and aroma, the autumn season, and Protestantism. In Asia it is an important symbolic colour of Buddhism andHinduism.[1] – Wikipedia

In other sources, orange also means joy and creativity. I was just fascinated to find out one of the meanings of “orange” in the Wikipedia definition which is Protestantism – the religion I grew up with as a child through my grandmother, the daughter of one of the pioneers of the Protestant church in our hometown.

My grandmother is for me the epitome of a woman of faith. No other woman have I encountered who has as much devotion in faith as she has through the 91 years of her life. We were able to visit her during the holidays and when I saw her, tears came running down my cheeks as I hugged her. She was bedridden from a bad fall and yet we can feel that her spirit is strong. There came a moment when she told us that she is already tired and she does not want us to live as long as she did. But my eldest sister assured her that God still has a purpose why she has to live that long. My only prayer to God for my grandmother is that she will have the peace in her heart that her family will always be guided by God and that her prayers were never unanswered. 🙂

So now I would like to end this article with the question from the theme of our Prayer and Fasting this year:

“Would you dare to believe?” 🙂

And also with this official soundtrack from the movie Prince of Egypt which I know has something to do with me planning to name our first baby boy with Zaphen, from Joseph’s Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah. 😉

Though Whitney Houston died a tragic death, this song will always remind me of my memory of her and what this song aims to instill in our hearts – how to believe and have faith even with the impossible.

And it has now become my tradition to include a prayer in the very first article that I will write for the new year here in my blog. Please pray this prayer with me my dear brothers and sisters:

“Dear Father,

Though we do not see the future and though fear may start to creep in our hearts for the many trials and challenges, the “giants” that will come our way, we pray that You give us the courage and the strength to overcome them all. Please guide and protect us as we continue to tread along the journey that you have set out for us to accomplish. 

We are rest assured that You are and will be with us in all that we will go through. We claim that in the name of Your Son, Jesus, we will will not just be conquerors but we will be game-changers and leaders in spreading Your Word and Your Love.

Thank you for the many things and the many ways that You have assured us of the Grace, the Love and the Hope. We will continue to seek for Your Name and we will give You all the glory and honor that You deserve.

Please teach us how to be more appreciative of the things that we have through what You have given, to be joyful despite the storms and may You continue to be our source of Light despite the darkness around us. 

We send this prayer from our hearts with all our love and through the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus,

Amen.”

Let’s have a more appreciative 2016, everyone! 🙂 ❤

Tin Ginete

I Love BICOL (Part 2): Siama Hotel

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.)

My family and I visited the province of Sorsogon regarding an urgent matter last June 2, 2015 and having read about Siama Hotel in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, my sister, my Dad and I thought it best if we could drop by the hotel and check it out since we will be passing it by going home.

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Siama Hotel

After finishing everything, we headed off towards Brgy. Bibincahan which is just a few miles away from the city proper along the diversion road. Thank God for Google maps, we need not ask around for specific directions and found ourselves looking at the gates of the Siama Hotel.

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Hotel lobby.

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Long wooden table and black leather chairs.

If you are in need of a breather away from city life and opt to enjoy the bounty that nature has to offer, this would be the escape you’ve been needing. The hotel is situated in a secluded estate which is primarily cultivated as a coconut plantation. We already had an idea how the place looks like seeing the pictures in the local newspaper but to see is to believe.

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Reception area.

We arrived after lunch time and the first thing that came into my mind when I saw the minimalist exteriors of the hotel lobby is that they wanted to enhance the interior decorations and furniture which was designed by one of the owners, Mr. Milo Naval, a well-acclaimed interior designer.

Indeed, the interiors of the hotel lobby from chairs, tables, lamps and cabinets are all a work of creative art and truly a masterpiece. What is interesting about it is that Mr. Naval came up with the idea of using indigenous raw materials such as rattan, native coconut products as well as wood from local trees depicting so much of the Bicol region.

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Wicker chairs.

Their very modern pool is the highlight of the hotel. It is just a striking fusion of having this beautiful modern pool nestled at the center surrounded by giant ferns and tall coconut trees in contrast to the minimalist, local design of the hotel’s exteriors.

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Siama Hotel

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The pool and the hotel rooms in the background.

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They also have a hall for events and this is just suitable and perfect for wedding receptions, conferences, birthdays and other special occasions. Once again, the interiors as well as the exteriors of the hall did not fall short in evoking that subtle and yet sophisticated style – definitely no grandeur, shining, and shimmering designs everywhere. But if you ask me about elegance, Siama Hotel nailed it.

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Event hall exteriors.

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The event hall.

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Cabinets with antique bric-a-brac.

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More wicker chairs.

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Food/bar lounge.

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The event hall.

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Hanging capiz shells as a glass curtain.

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The function room.

They are currently constructing an outdoor spa which is one of the things I am looking forward to when they are done with it. I must say it is going to be a one-of-a-kind outdoor spa which, once again, exemplifies designs made from local materials such as bamboo.

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The outdoor spa are those surrounded by bamboo stilts behind the coconut trees and there are 3 of them being constructed as of writing.

This is going to be one of the best and state-of-the-art hotels in Bicol especially if you are in the province of Sorsogon and you plan to have your vacation in class and in style. Surely, your vacation will be worth it. 🙂

This is their website: http://www.siamahotel.com/.

P.S.

You’ll also find this very peculiar but creatively designed “eco-padyak” which is but a magnificent piece of art and a rarity.

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I Love BICOL (Part 1): Masacrot Spring

I was born in Bicol region at the far end of the province of Sorsogon. I am a Bicolana and this is how we, the locals, are commonly called. I only transferred in the metro when I attended college at UP Diliman but my love for nature didn’t stop there. I grew up being a nature lover because of this – Bicol offers a very luscious nature with its beautiful and wide biodiversity making it one of the famous places there is here in the Philippines to visit for ecotourism.

You can also find in Bicol the majestic Mt. Mayon volcano which is known for its perfect cone. Though we are located in the ring of fire housing two active volcanoes, they are actually the few things that made our region a tourist spot because of the hot and cold springs which can be found at the foot of the volcanoes.

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Mt. Mayon Volcano

Hot springs are very common but I am not sure if you have heard of cold springs in a tropical country – and I mean, an ice cold spring. 🙂

In this article, I will be featuring one of the famous cold springs in the province of Sorsogon in Bicol which my family visited last May 31, 2015 – the Masacrot Spring.

So why the name? “Masacrot” is a Bicol term which means “astringent.” 

Astringency

Some foods, such as unripe fruits, contain tannins or calcium oxalate that cause an astringent or puckering sensation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Examples include tea, red wine, rhubarb, and unripe persimmons and bananas.

Less exact terms for the astringent sensation are “dry”, “rough”, “harsh” (especially for wine), “tart” (normally referring to sourness), “rubbery”, “hard” or “styptic”.[73]

When referring to wine, dry is the opposite of sweet, and does not refer to astringency. Wines that contain tannins and so cause an astringent sensation are not necessarily classified as “dry,” and “dry” wines are not necessarily astringent.

In the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, one of the six tastes is astringency (kasaaya).[74]

– WIKIPEDIA

They say that the water in the Masacrot Spring contains one of the best minerals in the world and this is probably why the water is astringent. But nothing to worry because the water at the Masacrot Spring is potable.

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Masacrot Spring

The blue green waters of the pool will captivate you that much it’d make you want to take the plunge right away. I know those who loves to swim will agree with me. The pool was hand-carved and set up in a natural background making you feel more one with nature. This was the second time we visited Masacrot Spring and the first time was when I was just 5 years old. Whew! That was way, way back I could barely remember a thing except that there’s a very cold pool that exists in this world. 😉

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Pristine, crystal blue green waters.

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Hand-carved pool.

Taking a plunge in the cold pool can only be described in one perfect word – invigorating. YES, that is a definite. Chills will run down from your spine to your bones the moment the cold water touches your skin. Though I wouldn’t advise taking a dip in the pool without moving for a long period of time because it is REALLY that freezing cold.

Locals visit the place during the peak of the summer season wherein weather temperature rises to as high as 39 degrees. With this kind of temperature, dipping in a freezing, ice cold water is such a life-saver to combat the extreme heat wave.

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Masacrot Spring pool.

The bottom of the pool is not made of cement or tiles but with the regular clay-ish soil similar to that of the entire resort covered with moss. Nothing to worry because it is not that slippery as you imagine. There are parts in the pool though that go as deep as 6 feet. So if you are not a swimmer, better rent or bring your own floaters for swimming, old and young alike.

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Don’t forget your swimming floaters. 😉

The cold water is free flowing too so the water stays clean even though it is usually flocked by a lot of swimmers and visitors during the peak season. They also have a lot of cottages which you and your family could rent and grill stations for your barbecues and grilled fish. Now, that makes me hungry. 😀

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The perfect summer snack: unripe, pretty sour mangoes with shrimp paste.

Masacrot Spring is located in Bulusan, Sorsogon and if you will be coming from the airport in Legazpi, Albay, it will be a 2-hour drive. There’s no problem commuting except that I suggest you hire a van or a jeepney that will take you there and pick you up for a hassle-free vacay for you and your family or friends. 🙂

Loving LOCAL LOVE Philippines

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(cup with stirrer and saucer made from anahaw wood and coconut hull from Sorsogon City)

 

Well, it is all about love. Not the typical kind of love. But an extraordinary love. That kind of love you have for your country and your countrymen – patronizing local products.

My heart is just close to anything native. Why? Because I grew up in a small town from the province of Sorsogon called Bulan. I am just glad and proud of my local roots and folk culture. Because that is my identity, that is who I am and that is who I will be. 🙂

Do check out the article to find out what the Philippine products have to offer. And have that Filipino pride as well, Filipino or not. 😉

“Local Love Philippines: Go Loco with True Filipino Pride”