Trying to compress 3 hectic weeks into one post is difficult, and I’m not even sure I’m going to even to try to include everything that happened.
The reason I wasn’t able to update this for 3 weeks was obviously due to the holidays; Christmas and New Years. I had taken some time off work to fly back to my Motherland to be with family and friends once more.
But prior to flying back I had gone and watched Muse live in Melbourne, finally after 2007’s Bangkok show being canceled 2 days before the play date for who knows what reason.
Then I had to fly the next day. |||oTL
It was nice seeing family again, and in Philippine (as a result of both Castillo and Chinese influence) culture it is important as well. And to say I have a large family is somewhat of an understatement. During my time back home, I had spent those three weeks ping ponged between 3 houses, running around trying to meet up with friends, as well as fulfilling obligations.
Family up first.
Half of my immediate family. Some members missing. Its always nice seeing them again, after a while but it was a little saddening that half of the family is away and hadn’t returned for the holidays. It resulted in kind of a smaller celebration when it came to my Grandmother’s death anniversary (where a lot more of the family came by West [as the house is nicknamed] to pay their respects to their sister/aunt/grandmother), as well as a smaller Christmas celebration, and New Years Celebration.
The other half lives in New Manila and Makati. The members there aren’t as closely knit as the previous photo suggests of the former half but they love each other no less.
Interesting story while I stayed in New Manila. While Filipinos (especially people who reside in the Metro Manila area) are familiar with Balete Drive, I know some of my non-Filipino friends do read this, so a little backstory:
Balete Drive is a well known stretch of road in the New Manila area, near E. Rodriguez – Aurora Blvd. Its so named Balete Drive due to the large amount of Balete trees, which according to local legend, are the habitats of many paranormal entities. Balete Drive lies within New Manila, and the house I was temporarily residing in was a house that was built in the 1950s and was a clan house, a heirloom house. So it was OLD.
One morning I had woken up and was lying in bed when I felt this massive pressure on the left side of my body. All I could think of was “GET OFF” repeatedly and it did, eventually. However a few minutes later, the pressure returned, and I screamed within my head “GET OFF” once again. This time I didn’t wait for it to return instead I went off to my dad who had reassured me there was nothing of that sort in the house.
“If there was some sort of entity I would have felt it.” He said. Hrm. Not very reassuring.
A friend of mine, Elea, asked about it and gave me this even more reassuring tidbit: “Hrm… not good. Your area isn’t one of the hotspots of New Manila so it could mean one of two things – either the entity followed you there, or you woke something up.”
OH GEEZ THANKS. D:
But anyway, I didn’t feel anything else after that, thankfully. The 7 foot tall shadow and Night Terrors were enough, thanks.
One of the things I looked forward to the most while I was in Manila was catching up with my friends, who I am thankful to have kept in contact with. Majority of them were friends who were from high school, a good 6 to 7-ish years ago. One of which I have been friends with for about 14 long years.
We are all so different, yet managed to stay friends all this time. I’m thankful for you guys. :)
Also met up with JM, an friend-turned boyfriend- turned ex- turned best friend. Its awesome and I know how rare it is for exes to remain friends, much less best friends, but there we go. He’s thankful that I am apparently mature enough to have handled us the way we did, as we had a long distance relationship that lasted 3 years.
We met up, not only because we wanted to catch up, but also because he said to me, “It would be awesome if the two most important women in my life, barring my mother and sister, could meet up.” The other being his girlfriend but that’s another story.
Yeah, the three of us got along awesomely. Because we’re awesome like that. Awesome.
However it was not just going around meeting up with family and friends that kept me busy. A short time after Christmas, my mother’s side of the family went to Tagaytay, which is a good 2 – 3 hour drive outside of Metro Manila, and location of the Taal Volcano.
We stayed at a resort there for only a couple days before heading back to Manila, but it was an okay trip. The drive was nice, and the air up there was lovely. My family was complaining that it was cold and brought jackets and such, but I didn’t feel a thing (probably because I’ve gone through worse in Melbourne…).
After that came New Years, which I have actually spliced together a video comprised of videos I had taken during that night. I’d not exchange New Years in the Philippines for anything (although my opinion my change if they end up banning explosives throughout the country), since its just filled with noise, fireworks, and food.
And oh god the food. THE FOOD. The FOOD.
I mean, granted its holidays but I kind of wish I had reined in my eating whilst over there.
But… I really can’t say no to this…
Barbequeng Kalye – Street Barbeque. A running joke between my mother and I is that we can’t seem to replicate the barbeque taste in when we’re abroad because the barbeque in the Philippines captures the taste of all the exhaust fumes from the cars and pollution. Haha, no, we’re not serious.
This picture isn’t necessarily a Philippine dish per se, and while we call it “Mongolian Barbeque”, I don’t think it really is Mongolian. The gist of it is, a person gets a bowl and puts whatever they want in it that is available on the table. Rice, Noodles, and raw ingredients. Said person mixes the sauces together to make it suit their taste (I personally heap up lots of garlic, brown sugar, and lemon in mine, and mix Soy and Mongolian sauce to make it sweet but really sour). Then they hand their bowl to the designated cook who would fry it all up, cooking the meat and making sure the flavours have been absorbed. Its a kind of comfort food.
Now this is a meal. My Aunt Cathy took us to this restaurant in TriNoma called Abe, that specialises in Ka-Pampangan food. Food from Pampanga. It was really good, like omg. We had ordered the following:
Bamboo Rice – which was really sticky and seemed to have been cooked in the bamboo tube. The waiter had to tap the bamboo open. Really nice and refreshing. Warning: Heavy.
Fried Tilapia – Staple food, nothing to snub your nose at. Nice and crispy, but the insides were juicy and delicious.
Chicharon na Bulaklak – Chicharon is basically your pork crisps, but Chichcarong Bulaklak (Flower Chicharon) is actually made of fried intestines. Yeah, cringe if you want, but it was just so nice, the outer rim was soft yet mildly crunchy and the inner ring was nicely chewy.
Bulalo/Nilaga – I could never tell the two dishes apart. I get different answers to what makes them different from each other but they’re essentially the same. A beef broth stocked with Potatoes and Cabbage, but mine (and the rest of my family’s) favourite part of the broth is a large bone that is filled with bone marrow that you could just slurp up. Like below:
Baby Squid sautee’d in olive oil, garlic, and chili – I didn’t try this because … chili.
For desert we had Turon – a deep fried banana wrap with jackfruit and ube.
Ah, Filipino Food. You’re such a sin.
It’s getting late, so I’ll wrap up this post with some other photos of my Manila Trip, and a youtube video of the New Years Celebration.
Oh yeah, during that time I was also seduced by the massive Steam Christmas sale. ;;>.>