Taste of Italy

Italian cuisine is one of the best among the world’s cuisine. It is one of the most popular and most copied type of food as well. And where can you find the best authentic Italian food? In Italy of course!

When we visited Italy last month, we covered most of the country, from the northern region, with cities like Milan and Venice, to the central region which is Tuscany, including the cities of Pisa and Florence, and to the southern region, in Rome and even down to the Amalfi coast.

Amalfi coast (photo taken with an iPhone)

By the way, we avail the services of JDC Private Tours when we were in Italy, that’s why we were able to visit so many places and packed so many activities in such a short period of time. I was more than happy and have only compliments of their business.

Part of our trip of course was sampling authentic Italian food. Their cuisine is known for its regional diversity, especially between the north and south of the Italian peninsula.

Overall, the Italian foods that we ate, from the ‘street’ and on-the-go food to the long sit-down fine dining with 5-course dinner, (one evening we’re treated out by a friend from Rome and we ate dinner for almost 2 hours!), and from the appetizer like bruschetta, to the dessert like tiramisu, were all very good. It was really a delightful gastronomical experience.

Here in the United States, when we talked about Italian food, we think mostly of pizza and pasta. However, many of the “Italian” food we have here are somewhat modified to cater to the American taste.

For instance, when we went to one local restaurant in Rome, there was a note in their menu that says, “we don’t serve spaghetti with meatballs, fettucini alfredo, and lasagna.” That was interesting. Perhaps that’s all the American tourists order, and to the locals those were not even really authentic Italian dishes.

To say that Italy have many kinds of pasta, is an understatement. After all it is the mecca of pasta. But one thing peculiar is all their pasta are served “al dente.” Meaning it is really firm, teetering to raw, that you have to bite and chew it before you can swallow.

Leaning Tower of Pizza…….I mean Pisa

Another thing is that the Italian pizza is not served pre-sliced. They give it to you as a whole piece, fresh from the wood-burning oven, and they give a fork and a knife for you to slice it yourself. I heard that when they first introduced pizza in New York City long long time ago, somebody had the bright idea of serving it by the slice and made more money from it. Since then pizza in the US is served pre-sliced.

In one restaurant we went to in northern Italy, I was impressed on how many types of sauce or variation they have for pizza. The menu had 3 pages just for pizza! And Hawaiian pizza? That’s not even in the menu, because as you can surmise, that’s an American version of an Italian dish.

As a Filipino who grew up in Manila, I also have a different concept of an Italian dish. My favorite is the Greenwich pizza, which I understand is a Filipino brand of pizzeria. Furthermore, I used to think that spaghetti always have a sweet-tasting sauce, just like how my mother prepares it, which is close to the taste of spaghetti in Jollibee, the largest Filipino chain of fast-food restaurants.

When I migrated to America more than 20 years ago, the first time we dined in an “authentic” Italian Restaurant in New Jersey named Trattoria, I was a little surprised that the spaghetti tasted “sour.” In fact me and my wife looked at each other and said to ourselves, maybe the sauce was spoiled as it tasted different. That was an ignoramus moment for us.

Back to our tour of Italy, we landed in Milan airport and stayed in Milan for two nights. On our first day, we were so tired and jet-lagged that my son and daughter went to sleep without having dinner. But my wife and I, despite being tired, felt the hunger pangs and so we went out to eat.

view from our hotel room in Milan

Since we were in the heart of the city of Milan, there were several decent restaurants around our hotel. In fact in our hotel itself was a good ‘ristorante,’ but my wife and I wanted to explore the city. And lo and behold, just walking two blocks from where we were staying, we found what we were looking for.

We were excited as we enter the restaurant. Then we ordered our very first meal in Italy. I understand that you cannot go wrong if you order pasta in Italy, and that’s what I did. I ordered spaghetti. And when I tasted the spaghetti, it was all what I envisioned. It was good.

In case you are wondering what restaurant we went to for our first Italian dinner?

It was Jollibee!


(*Jollibee opened in Milan last year, and was the first ever Jollibee branch and only one so far in Europe.)

Hugot Lines sa Sari-Sari Store

Heto na naman po ako, huhugot na naman. May pinaghuhugutan ba kamo? Wala naman, nabubuwang lang. Pagpaumanhin na lang po sana ulit, kung sakaling hindi ninyo maibigan.

Dumako tayo sa paborito kong dating tambayan. Ang sari-sari store ni Aleng Luring.

Hugot #1

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga po ng paminta.

Tindera: ‘Yung buo o durog?

Suki: ‘Yung durog po ate, kagaya ng damdamin kong durog.

Hugot #2

Suki: Ale, pabili nga po ng suka.

Tindera: Anong klaseng suka?

Suki: Gusto ‘yung mabagsik at matapang. ‘Yung hindi susuko. Hindi gaya ng aking puso.

Hugot #3

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga po ng patis.

Tindera: Isang malaking bote ba?

Suki: Hindi po. Puwede bang pinakamaliit lang. ‘Yung para sa akin lang. Ang dami kasing gustong makisawsaw.

Hugot #4

Suki: Pabili nga po ng baterya.

Tindera: Eveready o Energizer – ‘yung keep on going and going?

Suki: Puwede po bang patay na baterya. ‘Yung hindi na tatakbo. Ayaw ko nang laging iniiwan.

Hugot #5

Suki: Ale, pabili po ng sabong panlaba.

Tindera: Anong brand ng sabon?

Suki: Kahit ano po, basta huwag lang Pride. Hindi kasi iyon natatanggal, kahit ilan beses pa banlawan.

Hugot #6

Suki: Tao po. Pagbilhan nyo nga po ako ng bawang. Dalawampung ulo po ng bawang.

Tindera: Aba, marami ka yatang igigisa.

Suki: Hindi ho. Panlaban ko lang ‘yan. Dahil sa akin na nga, pero marami pa rin umaaligid at gustong umaswang.

Hugot #7

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga po ng Band-Aid.

Tindera: Ilang Band-Aid?

Suki: Isa lang po. Ako lang naman ang nasaktan at nasugatan.

Hugot #8

Suki: Pabili nga po ng bumbilya.

Tindera: Anong klase?

Suki: ‘Yung spotlight. Para mapansin at makita niyang nandito lang naman ako.

Hugot #9

Suki: Pabili nga po ng papel.

Tindera: Anong klaseng papel.

Suki: ‘Yung graphing paper po. Kasi puro lang drawing ang mga plano niya sa amin.

Hugot #10

Suki: Tao po. Pabili nga ng bubble gum.

Tindera: Anong klase?

Suki: ‘Yung tumatagal ang tamis at hindi sa umpisa lang.

Hugot #11

Suki: Pabili nga po ng Coke.

Tindera: Litro ba?

Suki: Hindi po. ‘Yung pang solo-size po. Ako lang naman laging mag-isa.

Hugot #12

Suki: Kuya, pabili nga ng kape.

Tindero: Anong klaseng kape?

Suki: Kapeng barako kuya. ‘Yung sumisipa, na kaya akong gisingin sa katotohanan.

Hugot #13

Suki: Ale, pwede pong mag-pa load ng cellphone?

Tindera: Sige. Smart ba?

Suki: Hindi po Smart. Ang tanga-tanga ko nga eh. Hindi natututo. Globe na lang po. Pinapaikot-ikot lang naman ako.

Hugot #14

Suki: Ate, pabili nga ng toothpaste?

Tindera: Anong klaseng toothpaste?

Suki: ‘Yung Hapee. Para pag-ngumiti ako mukha akong happy. Kahit hindi naman talaga.

Hugot #15

Suki: Pabili po. Meron ba kayong Hope?

Tindera: Meron. Ilang kaha gusto mo?

Suki: Kahit isang piraso lang.

Tindera: Sandali lang ah. (*naghanap sa eskaparate……)

Tindera: (*lumipas ang ilang minuto) Ay, wala na pala. Naubos na.

Suki: Bakit ganun? Lagi na lang paasa.

Hanggang dito na lang mga suki, magsasara na po ang tindahan. Bukas na lang po ulit. Bukas na lang din pwedeng umutang.

photo from the web

(*a couple of entries are borrowed, but most are original materials)

Hugot Lines sa Jeepney

Kung minsan ay may mandurukot sa loob ng jeepney. Mag-ingat po tayo sa kanila. Pero hindi po ‘yung mga nandudukot ang tema ko ngayon, kundi ‘yung mga humuhugot kahit na sa jeepney. Unawain na lang po natin sila.

Kung hindi ninyo maibigan, ay ipagpaumanhin na lang po sana. Wala na lang pong kokontra.

Hugot #1

Driver: Heto po ‘yung sukli nung isang Quiapo.

Pasahero: Hindi na bale mama, nasanay na po akong hindi nasusuklian.

Hugot #2

Driver: Pakiabot na nga lang po.

Pasahero: Matagal ko nang pinapaabot kuya, pero dedma pa rin. Wala pa rin marating.

Hugot #3

Driver: Saan po itong bente pesos?

Pasahero: Diyan po sa may PAG-ASA. Kahit wala naman talaga.

Hugot #4

Driver: Saan po papunta itong bente?

Pasahero: Isa pong pa Balik-Balik. Walang ngang kadala-dala eh. Hindi pa rin natututo.

Hugot #5

Pasahero: Manong, kulang po yung ibinigay ninyong sukli.

Driver: Kulang? Lagi na lang akong kulang! Kailan ba makokontento?

Hugot #6

Pasahero: Ilan po itong isang daan?

Driver: Isa na lang po. Dalawa po sana, pero iniwan na niya ako.

Hugot #7

Driver: Bawal po ang sabit.

Pasahero: Alam ko namang sabit lang ako eh. Hindi ko lang talagang kayang bumitaw.

Hugot #8

Driver: Saan po itong singkwenta?

Pasahero: Diyan po sa Monumento. Pero pwede rin sa Luneta. Lagi na lang kasi akong nagpapakabayani. Pwede na akong tayuan ng Monumento.

Hugot #9

Pasahero: Para na po mama.

Driver: Sandali lang po, itatabi ko lang kayo.

Pasahero: Ganyan naman talaga kuya, lagi na lang ako sa tabi.

Hugot #10

Driver: Paki-usog na lang po diyan sa kaliwa, kasya pa isa diyan.

Pasahero: Hindi bale na lang po. Kahit pagsisiksikan ko ang sarili ko, wala pa rin akong puwang sa kanya.

Hugot #11

Driver: (*nagtatawag ng pasahero habang nakaparada ang jeep) Antipolo, Antipolo, Taytay, Antipolo!

Pasahero: Kuya, male-leyt na ako. Pwedeng tayo na?

Driver: Tayo na, Miss? Sige, sabi mo eh.

Matapos ang ilang minuto lang……..

Pasahero: Para na. Dito na lang ako.

Driver: Hanggang dito na lang? Pero salamat pa rin, dahil kahit sandali ay naging tayo.

Hugot #12

Driver: (*sa pasaherong sumasakay) Konting bilis at kapit na lamang po. Lalarga na tayo.

Pasahero: Ang higpit na nga po ng kapit ko. Pero lagi pa rin akong laglag, kuya.

Hanggang dito na lang po, boundery na. Magkakarga lang po ng krudo….este, kape. Sige, laglagan na.

photo from here

(*blaming my jet-lag for this transient craziness)

Flying the Roads of Tuscany

When we talk about Italy’s countryside what comes to mind are the picturesque rolling hills and bountiful vineyards of Tuscany.

And there’s no better way to tour this scenic place than the iconic Italian way – riding the Vespa or the Fiat. Well, you could do it too with a Ferrari convertible but that would cost you an arm and a leg.

During our visit to Italy we did the Tuscany Vespa Tour. (This is not a sponsored article though I would gladly accept even a free pizza if they offer.) Some of us rode the Vespa scooter while some of us rode the classic small Fiat car. I did the Vespa.

We picked up the Vespa and the Fiat from the tour’s office parking lot. After a brief tutorial, as I have not ridden a motorcycle since more than 25 years ago, I became more comfortable of riding it. I was at least confident that I would still be alive after the tour.

Then off we go!

Our first stop was at a local vineyard.

After parking our motorcycles and cars, we toured the place which includes wine tasting. I am not really into wine, but they had prepared free pasta lunch too, so I was more than happy. Plus I don’t think indulging in wine and riding a motorcycle afterwards was a good idea.

I even saw a black cat at the winery. Was it a bad omen? Should we not continue on our trip? Nah!

After the vineyard tour, we were back on the road again.

Our next stop was a quaint town. We parked our vehicles and walked around the small town. Here we tasted free samples of truffle spreads, different kinds of cheese, and balsalmic vinegar offered in the local stores. Their balsalmic vinegar tastes good that it rivals the sukang Iloco (being a half-bred Ilocano, I’m still biased for the sukang Iloco).

After hitting the road again, our last stop was an old fortress. Its medieval courtyard was transformed into shops and eateries. There were no sword-wielding knights nor jousting tournament though. The closest we had to a battle were tourists jostling to buy the ever popular Italian gelato. Of course we had some too.

Overall, it was a really fun ride. You may think that this small scooter is under power, but it is not. Yes it is not as muscular as the Harley-Davidson, but this Vespa Sprint model with its 125 cc cylinder can still fly through the Tuscan hills.

It was a swell experience to fly the Tuscan roads with the sunlight on my eyes, wind on my hair (even though I don’t have much) and bugs in my face. Wait…..what?

Actually “flying” has a double meaning here, as this includes the flying insects that may hit your face as you zoom through the hills. I must be in a state of exhilaration with my mouth wide open that one insect hit my teeth. Good thing I was able to spit it out.

Italian bug tasting? Not included in this tour.

From the roads of Tuscany,


(*All photos taken with an iPhone. Thanks to my unofficial photographers who took some of the pictures. A shout out to JDC Private Tours, who made our tour of Italy such a pleasant experience.)

Kanal, Eskinita at Sinampay

Kahit na bumibisita sa isang banyagang lugar, bakit kaya mga pamilyar na bagay pa rin gaya ng aking kinagisnan sa Pilipinas ang tumatawag sa aking pansin?

Noong isang araw ako’y natuwang maglakad sa tabi ng mga estero o ng malalaking kanal…….

Naglagalag at sumuot sa mga maliliit na eskinita…….

At tumanaw sa mga pinapatuyong sinampay (ngunit hindi ko naman ito sinungkit).

Pero may pagkakaiba rin naman sa bansang ito. Dahil dito, kahit sa kanal ay may mga namamangka.

Kahit na tabing-kanal ay maari palang maging romantikong lugar.

May mahuhuli kaya kaming dalag?

(*photos taken with an iPhone in Venice, Italy)

Abangers: Endgame

(No spoiler alert for Avengers: Endgame movie.)

Tumabo na naman sa takilya ang pelikula na tungkol sa ating mga paboritong superheroes, ang Avengers: Endgame. Sa panahong sinusulat ko ang akdang ito ay hindi ko pa napanood ang naturang pelikula, kaya’t hindi ko pa maibibida ito sa inyo.

Pero ibang superhero ang aking tatalakayin sa post na ito. Sila ang mga superhero o nagpapakabayani na maghintay at mag-abang – ang mga Abangers. Opo tinalakay ko na sila sa post ko noon, Abangers: Infinity Wait, pero sana’y pagbigyan ninyo akong muli na pag-usapan natin sila.

Sino ba ang mga Abangers na ito? Sila ba iyong nag-aabang ng nagtitinda ng puto o balut? O iyong nag-aabang ng jeepney o bus? O kaya nama’y nag-aabang ng kinsenas o katapusan ng buwan na suweldo? O nag-aabang sa kanto ng away o kaya’y sa kalye ng tsismis? Hindi po mga ‘yan ang tinutukoy ko.

Ang mga Abangers na aking tinutukoy ay ang mga taong nag-aabang na mahalin sila ng kanilang iniibig na may mahal namang iba. Sila ang mga taong umiibig ng boyfriend o girlfriend ng iba, o mas masaklap pa asawa na ng iba. Iyan ang mga super bayaning Abangers.

Siguro may kakilala kayong Abanger? O baka ikaw ay isang Abanger din? Kaibigan, siguro kailangan mo nang mag-isip-isip at baka ikaw ay nag-aabang lang ng wala. Ika nga, naghihintay na pumiti ang uwak.

Noong ako’y bata-bata pa ay maraming kanta akong nagisnan na nagsasaad ng ganitong damdamin. Sa katunayan naging sikat ang mga kantang ito. Dahil kaya marami kasing mga tao ang nakaka-relate sa mga awit na ito?

Ito po ang isang lumang kanta. Sa aking pagkakaalala ay si Jaime Rivera ang orihinal na umawit nito, pero noong makailan lamang ay may cover din si Morrissette Amon ng kantang ito – “Mahal Naman Kita.” Sabi ng kantang ito:

Pangarap ka na lang ba o magiging katotohanan pa,
Bakit may mahal ka nang iba,
Ngunit ‘di bale na kahit mahal mo siya,
Mahal naman kita.

Heto pa ang isang lumang kanta ulit. Si Martin Nievera naman ang unang kumanta nito, pero may version din si Regine Velazquez. Ang kantang ito ay ang “Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin.” Saad ng kanta:

Ikaw ang lahat sa akin, 
Kahit ika’y di ko dapat ibigin, 
Dapat ba kitang limutin, 
Pa’no mapipigil ang isang damdamin, 
Kung ang sinisigaw, 
Ikaw ang lahat sa akin. 
At kung hindi ngayon ang panahon, 
Upang ikaw ay mahalin, 
Bukas na walang hanggan, 
Doo’y maghihintay pa rin. 

Mayroon pa akong alam na kanta, sinalumang awit ulit. Isinulat at inawit ito ni Rey Valera. Pero may bago-bagong version nito si Piolo Pascual. Ano ba yan, bakit yata puro recycle na ang ating mga kanta? Ang kanta ni Rey Valera ay ang “Walang Kapalit.” Sangayon sa kanta:

At kung hindi man dumating sa ‘kin ang panahon,
Na ako ay mahalin mo rin,
Asahan mong ‘di ako magdaramdam,
Kahit ako ay nasasaktan,
Huwag mo lang ipagkait,
Na ikaw ay aking mahalin.

Pero heto ang mas matindi. Isang lumang OPM ulit na ang orihinal na kumanta ay si Basil Valdez, pero may cover din si Sarah Geronimo. Ang kanta ay ang “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan.” Sabi ng kanta:

At kung sadyang siya lang ang ‘yong mahal, 
Asahan mong ako’y ‘di hahadlang, 
Habang ikaw ay maligaya ako’y maghihintay, 
Maging hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan. 

Talagang matindi ano? Maghihintay hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan! Subali’t maganda bang gawin iyon? Para po sa akin, ay hindi yata tama.

Ang kanta ay natatapos. Ang ubo ay nauubos. Pati nga liwanag ng bituin ay nauupos, kaya nga may black hole. Lahat ng bagay ay may katapusan. Kung ang paglalakbay ng alon sa dagat ay may dalampasigang hangganan, ang bus ay may terminal, at ang pasada ng jeepney ay may boundary, kaya ang mga biyaheng one-way na pag-ibig sana ay may hangganan din.

Kahit po sa mga Abangers, dapat may Endgame.

Noong makalawang araw ay naghalughug ako ng mga bagong OPM na mapapakinggan. Alam kong hindi na mga bago ‘yung iba, pero para sa aking pandinig, ay mga bago ito. Kahit mahigit dalawang dekada na po akong wala sa Pilipinas ay patuloy pa rin naman akong nakikinig at naaaliw sa mga awit na sariling atin.

Dito ay natuklasan ko ang dalawang “hugot” na mga kanta. Ito ay nagsasaad rin ng mga damdamin ng isang Abanger. Pero sa halip na sila ay umaasa nang umasa ng walang hanggan, o kaya’y umibig kahit na walang inaasam na kapalit, ang mga kantang ito ay nagpasyang may katapusan ang kanilang paghihintay. Ika nga Endgame na.

Ang unang kantang aking napakinggan ay kanta ng Ben and Ben. Ito ay ang “Kathang Isip.” Sabi ng kanilang kanta:

Pasensya ka na,
Sa mga kathang isip kong ito,
Wari’y dala lang ng pagmamahal sa iyo,
Ako’y gigising na,
Sa panaginip kong ito,
At sa wakas ay kusang lalayo sa iyo.

Heto pa ang isa. Kanta ng Muni-muni, “Sa Hindi Pagalala.” Wika ng kanta:

Kakalimutan na kita,
Siguraduhin mong hindi talaga pwedeng tayo,
Napagisipan mo na ba, 
Dahil kakalimutan na kita,
Eto na, eto na.

Tulad ng aking nasambit na noon, ako’y naging superhero din. Ako ay minsa’y naging Abanger din noon. Pero buti na lang at ako’y nagising sa aking kathang isip at kusang nag-endgame. Dahil kahit superhero o may superpower, may panahong dapat tayong sumuko, lumayo at lumimot na.

Mga Abangers, Endgame na!


Here’s the official music video of Kathang Isip:

(*photo from web, video from youtube)


(This piece may be a parody, my aim though is not to ridicule those people with mental illness, but perhaps give an insight to their sad plight.)

Isip ko’y wala na sa akin,

Ako’y buwang sa ‘yong paningin,

Ako ngayo’y nag-iisa,

Sa loob ng isang selda.

Sa ilalim ng puting ilaw,

At dilaw na gown,

Nagwawala’t sumisigaw,

Sa dilaw na buwan.

Ayokong mabuhay sa hawla,

Ngunit ‘di na ako lalaya pa,

Ulirat ko ay lumayas na,

Lumipad papuntang buwan.

Sa ilalim ng puting ilaw,

At dilaw na gown,

Nagwawala’t sumisigaw,

Sa dilaw na buwan.

Itong kanta pinapaabot ko sa buwan,

Ang takbo nitong utak ko ay nasa kalawakan,

Hindi na bumabalik dito sa akin,

Walang nagmamahal,

Wala rin namang mamahalin,

Pakinggan aking iyak at damdamin,

Sa loob ng Mandaluyong na damdamin.

Sa ilalim ng puting ilaw,

At dilaw na gown,

Nagwawala’t sumisigaw,

Sa dilaw na buwan.

image from the web

(*Inspired by the song “Buwan” by Juan Karlos. This piece can also be sang to that same tune; composed at 2 AM, crazed by the moonlight.

Turo-turo, McDonald’s, at Jollibee

Namayagpag na naman ang mga commercial ng Jollibee nitong nagdaang Valentine’s. Huling-huli kasi ng Jollibee ang kiliti at sintimyento ng mga Pilipino, at siyempre pa pati na rin ang ating panlasa.

Paano ba naging pambansang tambayan ng mga Pilipino ang Jollibee?

Bago mag-bagong taon ay bumisita kami sa New York. Habang ang aming mga anak ay nag-a-iceskating sa Bryant Park sa Midtown Manhattan, ay nabanggit ng isa naming kaibigan na may bagong bukas daw na Jollibee sa lugar na iyon. Kuwento pa nila pinipilahan daw ito. Hindi lang mga Pilipino, pati mga Amerikano at ibang lahi ay nakikipila rin. Siguro curious lang sila kung bakit dinudumog ang Jollibee.

Jollibee in Manhattan (photo from New York Post)

Maraming beses din naman akong pumunta sa mga Jollibee branches dito sa Amerika. Napuntahan ko ang Jollibee sa may West Covina California. Ilang beses na rin akong kumain sa Jollibee sa Chicago. At kumain na rin ako sa Jollibee sa may Woodside New York.

Maliban dito sa Amerika nagbukas na rin ng mga branches ang Jollibee sa iba’t ibang bansa sa Asia, Middle East at Europa.

Nang maliliit pa ang aking mga anak, minsa’y nagbalik-bayan kami at nag birthday sila sa isang Jollibee branch sa may Pasay City. Natuwa naman ang aking mga anak at ang aming mga bisita sa isinagawang party. Maliban sa chicken joy at jolly spaghetti, naaliw rin sila sa pagsasayaw ng masayang bubuyog na si Jollibee.

Noong biglaan din akong umuwi ng Pilipinas, ilang taon nang nakalipas, dahil malubha ang kalagayan ng aking nanay, ay naging comfort food ko ang Jollibee. Kasi may malapit na branch mula sa ospital kung saan nakaratay ang aking nanay. O siguro miss ko lang ang lasa nito.

Hindi ako lumaki na pala-hamburger. Nang ako ay nasa high school pa (early 1980’s), hindi pa masyadong tanyag at iilan pa lamang ang Jollibee branches sa Maynila. Sa katunayan hindi namin ito tambayan dahil walang malapit sa aming eskwela.

Ang aming tambayan noon ay isang turo-turo sa tabi ng aming paaralan. Pero noong kami’y nagbalik para sa aming 25th high school graduation anniversary ay laking gulat ko na isang night club na ang nakatirik sa pwesto ng turo-turo. Ibang luto na pala ang inihahain sa lugar na iyon!

Isa pa sa tambayan ng iba naming kaklaseng pasaway noong high school ay isang esblisimyento na may pangalang “Halina.” Dito sila naglalaro. Isa itong bilyaran. Beer garden din ito. Hindi po ako tumambay doon.

Kahit nang nasa kolehiyo na ako, hindi pa rin Jollibee ang paboritong tambayan ko noon kundi isa uling turo-turo malapit sa UST. “Goodah” ang pangalan nito. Mas mura naman kasi sa turo-turo at lutong bahay pa ang putahe. Siguro mas marami pa ring mga Pilipino ang pipiliin ang turo-turo kaysa fast food, o adobo kaysa hamburger.

Ang unang branch ng Jollibee ay nagbukas noong 1978 sa Cubao. Mula noon ay isa-isa nang sumulpot na parang kabute ang mga branches nito. Kahit pumasok pa ang McDonalds sa ating bansa noong 1981, ay naging matatag pa rin ang Jollibee.

Sa pagputok ng katanyagan ng Jollibee, isama na rin natin ang McDonald’s at Wendy’s, ay nahilig nang kumain ang mga Pilipino ng hamburger at french fries. Naging westernized na ang ating panlasa. Pero iniiba pa rin naman natin ang timpla kahit na western food. Tulad ng spaghetti – ang pinoy spaghetti ay manamis-namis, na hindi tulad ng authentic Italian spaghetti na maasim-asim.

Nang ako’y napadpad na sa Amerika, ay aking natunghayan kung gaano kapalasak ang fast foods dito. Lalo na ang McDonald’s. Kahit sa mga hospital ay may mga branches ito. Sa isang hospital sa New York kung saan ako nag-training, ay may McDonald’s sa mismong floor kung saan ang cardiac cath lab. Kaya’t kung ikaw ay inatake sa puso habang kumakain ng hamburger, ay igugulong ka lang nila sa katabing cath lab.

Para sa inyong kaalaman ang McDonald’s, isang American corporation, ang pinakamalaking fast-food chain sa buong mundo. Sa katunayan lahat ng pinasukan nitong bansa ay halos patayin nito ang mga lokal na kompetisyon. Maliban sa Pilipinas, na Jollibee pa rin ang naghahari. Bakit kaya hindi kayang pataubin ng McDonald’s ang Jollibee kahit pa American hamburger ang kanilang pinaglalabanan?

Dahil kaya mas naaaliw tayo sa bubuyog kaysa sa clown (mascots)? O dahil walang panama sa chicken joy at jolly spaghetti ang kalaban? O nadadala tayo sa mga makabagbag-damdamin na mga commercials? O dahil alam natin na ang Jollibee ay katutubong produktong Pilipino kaya’t tinatangkilik natin ito kaysa sa kumpitensiya? O baka naman mas masarap lang talaga sa ating panlasa ang pagkain nito?

Ano man ang dahilan, naging pambansang tambayan na ng Pinoy ang Jollibee kaysa iba pang fast food chain o restaurant. (Wala po akong komisyon sa Jollibee sa artikulong ito,  pero kung gusto nila akong bigyan ng isang taon na supply ng chickenjoy hindi ko tatanggihan ito.)

Noong ako’y nasa kolehiyo pa, sa harap ng UST Charity Hospital sa may Forbes St. (Lacson Avenue na ngayon) ay may mga lumang bahay na ginagawang boarding houses. Isang araw nagkararoon ng sunog dito, taong 1990 yata iyon. Isa sa aking kaibigan ang nasunugan ng boarding house. Matapos matupok ang lugar na iyon, ang ipinatayong gusali ay hindi na mga bahay, kundi isang malaking McDonalds.

Bulung-bulungan ng iba, dahil hindi mapagiba ang mga lumang bahay para gawing commercial complex kaya raw ito sinunog. Hindi ko sinasabing totoo ito at wala po akong inaakusahan, at lalong hindi ko sinasabing may kinalaman ang McDonald’s o sinuman dito.

Maaring natuwa ang mga estudyante ng UST dahil may malaking McDonald’s na sa harap nito. Hindi nagtagal, isang malaking Jollibee rin ang itinayo katapat nito. Ngayon sangkatutak na fastfoods na ang nasa paligid at pati sa loob ng university. Nandoon pa kaya ang tambayan naming Goodah?

Baka sa susunod, mawala nang lubusan ang mga turo-turo at karinderya. Huwag naman sana.

Warm Thoughts on a Cold Day

Last Friday, I drove to our new satellite clinic. This was the most distant one so far compared to our other outreach clinics, as it takes an hour and 40 minutes to get there from our main office. I go to an outreach clinic at least once a month.

It was a very cold day for a drive. The outside temperature was -2 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -20 degrees. The wind was brisk and it was blowing the snow that was already plowed to the sides of the road back into the road.

The whole surrounding was white as we had fresh snow that had fallen the past couple of days. There was also a shiny glaze on the branches of the bare trees as in addition to the snowfall, it was preceded by a freezing rain that coated everything with ice, including the roads, which layered underneath the snow. This made the travel more dangerous.

In fact one of my partners cancelled his trip to another one of our outreach clinics a day before mine, due to the snow, sleet and ice.

But on the day of my travel, though it was very cold, it was sunny. Thus I decided to press on. Besides, there were many patients that were waiting and expecting to be seen. Plus, I felt confident in my driving and in my trusty vehicle.

I felt warm though while I was cruising along the wintry rural highways of Iowa. My favorite feature of my car on a very cold day like this was the heated seats along with the reliable heater. In some countries, like in the Philippines, a car airconditioner may be a luxury to keep you cool on a hot day. But where I live now, we can survive without an AC but not without a heater. It is a necessity or we’ll freeze to death.

But there was something more that was keeping me warm besides the heater, the heated seat, and the heated steering wheel. It was the warm thoughts and happy memories of a tropical place I still call home.

Playing on my car radio was streaming music sync from my iPhone from an on-line radio station. What was the radio station I was listening to? Pagudpud Beach Resort Radio Station! (Pagudpud is a place in Ilocos Norte, Philippines with a year round temperature of 70 to 90ºF.)

photo taken few years ago in a beach resort in Ilocos Norte

I could almost hear the lapping waves as they break into the sandy shore and the rushing breeze bristling through the palm trees. A stark contrast from the view of a slew of ice and snow surrounding me. They say that you could take away the boy from the island, but could never take away the island from the boy.

It’s true, I was feeling homesick. It has been three years since I last visited my motherland. Perhaps it is time for a journey back to that very familiar place.

I know I’m not the only one missing home. Most of us, in one way or another, have wandered away and left our comfort zones in pursuit of a dream. And many times in our quest, the path we crossed was not easy, for it was uncertain and unfamiliar.

I was deep in this thought when a familiar song played on the radio:


Hindi kita iiwan sa paglalakbay,

Dito sa mundong walang katiyakan,


Di kita bibitiwan sa paglalakbay,

Sa mundo ng kawalan.

That was all I needed to hear, a reassurance that we are not alone in this journey.

I glanced at my car’s GPS. It indicated that I still have 70 miles to go, and an hour more before I reach my destination.

Well, I still have an hour to enjoy this “beach.”

(*lyrics from Hawak Kamay a song by Yeng Constantino)

Dinosaur Technology

Not too long ago, these things roam and rule the earth. But like dinosaurs, they are now extinct. I don’t think the millennials or the younger generation have any idea what they are.

I will give you a snapshot if you will, of my normal day employing the current technology of the time when I was still in college:

One evening, I wanted to call my classmates so we can meet up in the library before our late morning class to work on our school project. But I had to wait for our party line to hang up before I could use the phone. An hour later, I finally was able to make the call. I dialed the number (not punch in, mind you; this explain why we say “dial”) using this device:

The next day, after taking a shower, I dressed up and was heading out the door when I happened to glance at this big “box” and checked the weather forecast. The talking box said no need for an umbrella today.

On my way to the university, I boarded a jeepney plying the Balic-Balic route with loud music blaring inside. The driver was proudly playing an expensive music console system using this:

The jeepney driver probably was an ex-OFW and bought this console when he was still in Saudi. What made me think that? Because a sign in front of his jeeney says “Katas ng Saudi.”

Though I wish I had my own portable music that I could choose what songs to listen to. Then I noticed one passenger in the jeepney who was rocking to a different rhythm than that of the music we were hearing. Of course he had this:

I know it’s kind of cool, but it makes you a hot target for snatchers especially if you’re walking in the streets of Metro Manila.

After meeting up with my classmates for an hour, it was time to attend a lecture in a big hall. Our professor was using lecture aids and was projecting it on a wall using this gadget:

While our professor, who was also a practicing physician, was giving his lecture, he asked to be excused for a minute to make a call at a payphone outside the hall. He was responding to a message he got from this:

Later that day, we started writing our paper for submission. We could have gone to Dapitan or Recto and had it done for us, but we decided to do it ourselves to save money. So we worked on this:

Of course we needed duplicate copies so we had to use these:

This explains why even in our e-mails now, we call a copy to a different recipient a “carbon copy.”

After a while we had noted that the letters we were typing were getting faint. So we had to replace this:

We also had several mistakes, but we were able to correct them thanks to this:

We had to work on the presentation of our paper too. During our brainstorming we decided to make our exhibition fancy and we planned on having photos or slides. So we had to borrow this gadget for our presentation:

However we had to take photos first. Our group chipped-in some money and they handed them to me. They asked me to go to Raon near Quiapo to buy this:

And for better picture-taking, just in case the lighting is not good, I bought these as well:

We wanted to make sure that we only take good photos so not to waste any film. But can you imagine taking a photo and not seeing the picture until after a few days?

Before going home I passed by a friend’s house. I heard they just got this gadget called a “computer” that would be the future of all technologies. I even tried it and I was able to do some of our school project on it. My friend was kind enough to have me save my work and transfer it to this:

Maybe it was just an excuse for me to use their home computer. For what I really wanted to do was to play some games with my friend in their other “computer:”

The end.


Can you name all of them? Do you have an idea what they are?

If you know all of these gadgets and have used them before, then you are probably “old” like me.

(*photos from the web)