A Man’s Home Within a Man’s Home

There was once a man who lives in a high-rise apartment in English Bay, Vancouver. I met him in a Garden Show in Waterfront. We had lunch together in White Tower Greek Restaurant. Since then, we became great buddies. He invited me into his flat and it’s the first time I saw and experienced the red poang chair. Sitting on the poang makes destressing effortless. It has a bentwood frame which has a light and soft bouncy feel. It follows the contours of the body and brace the lower back and neck makes leaning back so comfortable. 

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The red poang chair is my bud’s favourite chair. He was so attached to it that he brought it with him when we moved here in the prairies. He actually have two poang chairs. The other one is white with a foot stool but was always ignored. The movers lost one of the screws and the poor chair was set aside. The all-time-favourite red poang in the living room contrasting the massive sectional couch is now worn out. The fabric cover was ragged showing off the cottony texture of the inside. Despite the condition, my buddy still loves it. He sits on the red poang chair every time we watch boxing, television series, movies and youtube videos while I sit on the nest I made on our sectional couch which now became my favourite spot. We tried to switch one day, me on the poang chair and him on the nest. It felt so comfortable yet so weird. I felt like a man. I felt so powerful as I look at my buddy lying on the couch. I have always been wondering why he won’t sit with me on the couch. It is the red poang chair. The chair of a man. 

One of man’s essential is his chair. He does a lot of things in is chair. Aside from watching his favourite sports (boxing and English soccer), he drinks his favourite beverage, he contemplates, he thinks.

The Red Poang Chair is my buddy’s home within his home.

The Barbecue Season is Coming!

It was a clear and sunny day today. 23 °C on a Friday night, my best-loved day of the week. The anticipation of a good Friday dinner, waking up in a Saturday morning realizing we can sleep in for all we want.

Neil came in the pharmacy at 6 o’clock to pick me up. He found me at the dairy section of Save-On-Foods Store while I was looking for boxes of fresh eggs. He was cooking so we rushed to go home. He prepared a lovely dinner for us. Cabbage and pork irish style, mushroom and onions and the juicy grilled-to-perfection rib eye steak. It’s lovely and healthy. After dinner, we went to grab some house stuff from Wal-Mart. Walked a bit, bought beer from the liquor store  on the way home and then watch The Late Late Show.

The weather was gorgeous. Fresh warm air, bright sunny day makes me so excited about the barbecue season. While Neil is grilling the rib eye steak, I was getting so thrilled to making plans for summer. My parents and my elder sister are coming here in the prairies to visit. One thing is for sure, our summer is gonna be grand. We will have lots of great outdoor barbecue days. Busy but carefree and radiant.

We have a Coleman Grill at home. It uses natural gas which is way better than propane. We just connect it to our house, we don’t run out of gas at all unless the gas company runs out after four decades. We don’t worry about tanks to refill or about running out in the middle of a big cook. Burns clean, grilling is great. Since summer is coming soon, we need to have our grill in top shape. We want to make sure we’ll have a safe grilling season.

How To Get the Grills in Top Shape.

1. Clean the grill by removing the charred coating. Dry-scrub the grill and the inside surfaces using a non-scratch sponge and use an emery cloth on uncoated steel. After dry-scrubbing, wash the surfaces with soap and water. Rinse well and dry thoroughly. For the exterior part, sponge off stainless-steel and enameled surfaces with warm soapy water and wipe dry.

2. Do a gas check. Make sure everything is safe.

3. The grill is clean in and out. Safety is checked carefully. Then it’s time to have the barbecue shopping list ready.

Steak, salmon, burger meat, chicken quarters, lamb chops, tiger prawns, potatoes and a whole lot more. Neil and I likes to grill fresh ones better than those thawed frozen cuts of meat.

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Aside from meat, it’s always good to add some veggies. Zucchinis, tomatoes, asparagus, sweet corn, onions, potatoes and bell peppers are the best vegetables for grilling. Grilled vegetables are a healthy option when it comes time for some summertime grilling. The smoky flavor and the fresh grilled-vegetable scent makes you want some more. The combination of meat and vegetable is always good. Balance. Eating fresh fruits after the lovely barbecued dinner is even better.

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The above photo is glimpse of our barbecue days last summer.

Since summer season is not just about grilling, Neil and I were planning to have a nice garden with comfortable furniture where we can lie down or sit down after work. Our back garden is very secluded and it would be nice to have a wooden swing bed or a rattan day bed in there. We were actually looking for a decent but reasonably priced items. We planned to have it all set up before the season comes. Browsing the stores checking out garden furniture is exciting. Well, I must say the thought of summer season is very exhilarating.

Get yourselves ready. When the weather is fab and the days are long, fire up the grill, round up your family and friends and have a lavish barbecue dinner.

Best of luck!

The Blissful Province Life

I was browsing my iphoto library and I thought it could be interesting to write about the life in the provinces of the Philippines.

I grew up in the province of Aurora which is located in the Eastern part of Central Luzon Region facing the Philippine Sea. Aurora province is filled with gorgeous beaches. It is subdivided into 8 municipalities and my family and I lived in one of the small towns. Neil and I spent most of our holidays last February in the province. He met some of my relatives and he had experienced the blissful province life.

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People in the small towns get so excited when there’s a visitor from other places specially from other country. When Neil and I arrived in the farm house the kids in the neighborhood are all so ecstatic, they would stand outside our fences to catch a glimpse of us. Neil and I were so excited as well to meet the neighborhood. Those little kids four years ago before I left the country were all grown up. I can hardly recognize them. I have to ask who their parents are as these kids would come to me, call my name and I don’t even know them. Neil had a picture with the kids. They like posing with the visitor. When the sun sets, these kids would never leave unless their mom and dads would come and pick them up for supper. The usual time for supper is 6 o’clock. After supper, the family would relax for a bit and give the tummy the time to digest the lovely dinner.

My mom rented a Karaoke machine. The family loves karaoke, it’s one of the necessities when there’s something to celebrate. Neil and I sang a few songs. The sound system was pretty loud but the neighbors don’t mind. Sometimes they like listening to good music, unfortunately the singers are out of tune. I hope they were not swearing at us while we were singing. It’s 7 o’clock and the kids outside our fences would watch us sing. We asked them to dance and they would dance. The relatives would come over and sing with us. Everybody sings and dance. The night was filled with joy and laughter.

We wake up early in the morning. We hear the rooster singing Rock-a-doodle, dogs barking, neighbors gossiping, poot-poot boy passing by with the big basket of freshly baked sweet buns honking his customer magnet, pigs squealing, people shouting and a whole lot more. It’s so nice to wake up and feel the early morning breeze. Coffee and buns are all served. The helpers cooking our breakfast. Breakfast served at 8 o’clock. What a life.

tender juicy hotdog tilapia salted egg with tomatoes

Red hotdogs, fried tilapia, salted egg with tomatoes and fried rice. A very lovely breakfast. Some families would have noodles, fried sundried fish or any vegetable they can grab from their back garden. People in the provinces likes planting vegetables in the back garden, raising hogs and poultry. If they have no cash, they can just grab it from their garden or from the pig pen. People there are very resourceful even the families living in poverty can make up something just so the family can have three meals in a day.

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The above photo is an example of what is in the back garden. Goose, ducks, pig pen, poultry place and a vegetable garden. During our stay, my cousins slaughtered one of my moms piggy. I felt bad for the poor thing but I’m willing to eat after anyway. They planned to slaughter two of them, one for main recipes and one whole thing for “Lechon” or roasted pig but they ended up doing just one. They realized two is too much. We heard the squealing piggy begging for his life. My cousins finished the slaughtering in 30 minutes. They’re kinda good at it. Master slaughters. They started cooking the pork meat and made lots of dishes. My favourite is the “Lauya” which means pork soup. I like soup a lot that’s why I specifically requested for that one. They cooked “Dinuguan” or blood pudding stew, Ceviche, MenudoKaldereta and some other dishes that I can’t even remember. Those dishes are all tasty and savoury. Those are specialty dishes in the Philippines. It’s very common to have those yummy pork goodies during celebrations like birthdays, weddings, christmas, new years, house blessings and even welcoming visitors. Since my mom and dad missed me so much, they threw a huge celebration for our arrival or maybe it’s only for house blessing. I would like to think it’s for both.

If there’s a celebration in the neighborhood, the most common attitude is the “Come-One, Come-All” thing. Everybody is invited. Even the dogs of the farthest neighbor can come. The Barangay is so small that you’ll know every single individual that lives in one particular house. People sometimes get offended if you missed to invite them. Some people are just too shy to attend gatherings. My mom’s co-teachers are in complete attendance of course, my relatives and a lot of different faces. Everyone enjoyed the food. Pictures taken. Everybody’s talking, gabbing. Everybody was happy. After eating, some would stay for a bit and have a chit chat with the family. Some would go home early with doggy bags. It’s a common tradition to give the family of the attendee something before they go home. It’s common courtesy in our country.

sun beneath the leavesfarmlands

The most common view in our province are the rice fields. Feels like we’re in Vietnam war. Apocalypse Now. A very interesting panorama. People work on rice fields, and get payed by the land owner. That is the most common way of living in there. The rich owns the lands and the low income families works for them.

In our province, people would plant and harvest the rice manually. If the land owner owns hectares of land they hire a lot of head to work for him. They use water buffalos to plow the rice fields. Some would use machines. They harvest rice three times or four times a year.

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During harvest season, they use machineries to separate rice grains from the stalk. One example of the machine is the above photo wherein Neil is posing with the people.

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They would have the sacks of rice grains sundried either on a concrete road or on a private drying area. One common thing you’ll notice in our province are the sacks of rice grains all lined up on concrete road. After everything has been sundried properly, they will then sell them to buyers usually from other provinces. The price of one sack would depend on the weight. The price fluctuates all the time. It peaks during the summer season. Harvest times are happy times. The rich gets richer, the low income families earns money, three meals a day. Everybody’s untroubled. Sometimes the wealthy would give a sack of rice to the low-income relatives.

We went to Baler during our stay in Aurora. We dropped by our house in the downtown area and witnessed the evidence how proud my mom and dad was. Two tarpaulins showing our achievements hanging on 2 sides of our ancient house. One for me and one for my eldest sister. It’s been hanging there for 2 years now. Neil had a picture showing the tarpaulins but I’m too embarrassed to post them. After the stop over, we drove heading to Sabang Beach in Baler.

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Baler Bay is an extension of the Philippine Sea. It’s a 30 minute drive from our farm house to the beach. Very accessible pristine beach. It is known for the great huge waves, great place for surfing. A lot of surfers would go to Baler Bay and enjoy what it has to offer. There are lots of hotels and resorts close to the beach as well. It’s one of the most reachable beaches from out town. There are lots of gorgeous beaches down there but it’s 6 hours away from the farm. Sabang Beach is the most popular beach in the province for chilling out. Families would go there on Good Fridays, Black Saturdays and Easter Sundays. Some would just go there to feel the pacific breeze, have a fun time with friends. Some would go for contemplation, meditation etc. Some would go just to spend money.

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People in the provinces are very easy going. They’re living a happy life. No stress. The unspoiled nature has to do with it I think. The greens, the ocean, the fresh air, the sea breeze, the virgin forest and the people. Everything you see rejuvenates the soul. It relaxes the mind. It wiped off all the stress we had. Neil and I felt like new people. More relaxed. No worries. No anxiety. The surroundings and the mood of the people are very contagious. Everyone just seemed so happy. They laugh freely, they smile here and there, they greet us nicely. We felt their warm hearts. Everything and everyone was just amusing and gratifying.

grocery in the philippines

The above photo is a grocery shop in our province. That’s me and my cousin in the picture. The market there is a one huge open space wherein each stall is privately owned by individuals. Meat, fish, poultry and vegetables are all fresh, harvested in our very own province land. They are very cheap as well. A kilo of pork will only cost Php100 which is $2.50. Vegetables are even cheaper. Though people there loves meat a lot. Well, who doesn’t. Pork is always on top of a grocery shopping list. The trend is “A family who has pork dish on the table for dinner has earned good money.” Every after harvest season, there’s always pork meat for supper to celebrate.

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I missed the province life. Neil and I would definitely go back soon. I miss the family, the surroundings, the people, everything. The warm welcome, warm hearts, beautiful smiles, nature talking, the ocean breeze, the great waves, happy meals. People are genuinely happy, no stress, no drama.

Life brings simple pleasures. Simple pleasures are the most satisfying that life has to offer. The morning coffee, being outside under a blue warm sky, hanging out with love ones after dinner, a beautiful view, having a good laugh, sleeping in on a rainy day. There are lots of things to be satisfied about. The province life is living a simple but carefree life.

Why don’t we start making wonderful memories with the simple pleasures life gives us every morning, everyday?

Blessed Day to Everyone!

When Legends Fall

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This is the most heartbreaking video I’ve ever seen. It made me shed a tear. 3 minutes and 50 seconds of an emotional sad truth and the music didn’t help in cheering me up. What’s up with boxers still fighting past their prime? It’s always a very depressing sight. Well, it’s part of the brutal sport.

Coffee or Not

Coffee. Why is coffee so good that I can’t go on with my day without having a cup?

I have been addicted to coffee since my college years. I used to drink a cup in the morning before going to school, another cup on a lunch break and the last cup before going to bed. I know that the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, for some reason I react atypically from it. I did not have any sleeping problems at all even if I drink coffee before bed. Sometimes the coffee makes me drowsy. Maybe I put too much powdered milk in it. I love the Nescafe brand and I still use it up to now. I do not use a brewing machine for my coffee. I did not have a fancy Keurig or any kind of brewing machine back in my college days. A teaspoon of the Nescafe Great Taste Instant Coffee and 2 tablespoonful of Bear Brand Powdered Milk simply makes my day. Sometimes I buy a cracker or a bun to go with it for a more satisfying coffee break.

In the province, I had the habit of waking up early in the morning with my mom and dad and have a nice and hot coffee. 6 o’clock in the morning, my mom turns on the radio and we listen to news while we enjoy the scent and the creaminess of our morning addiction. We also buy sweet buns from the Poot-poot boy, a boy on a bicycle with a huge basket of freshly baked sweet buns and dip it in our cup of joe. We call our sweet buns “Pandesal“. Pandesal are always good with coffee.

I used to drink only 3 cups of coffee a day until I started studying for Canadian Evaluating Exam for Pharmacists. I ended up drinking 5 cups a day. I got more addicted to it that I experience headaches if I drink less than 5 cups of joe. A cup in the morning, a cup at lunchtime, a cup at 3 o’clock, a cup at suppertime and the last cup at bedtime. I know the adverse effects of caffeine but I can’t stop my routine and having said that I ended up having acid reflux. I had to stop for sometime and suffer from withdrawals but when I feel better I get back to the routine.

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I had severe gastritis one time and swore not to have coffee ever again. I cried for that matter as I love coffee too much but I have to prioritize my health. After a few months of not having coffee, my tummy felt a lot better and never had episodes of acid reflux again. I thought of the promise I made to myself, I thought I did it. Since the tummy felt better, the stubborn head can’t stop thinking about coffee again. And so I tried a decaffeinated one which is not as good as the regular coffee. Slowly, I started shifting from decaf to the old addiction.

What is it about coffee that makes people over consume it? I know it has an idiosyncratic effect on me but I still crave for it. It gives me a bit of stimulation in the morning, a burst of energy to keep me awake but it damages my stomach. I felt brainwashed by caffeine. I’m giving myself good reasons of drinking coffee instead of looking at the harmful effects it can possibly cause me.

Pros:
Antioxidant Property
Improve Mental Performance
Lowers the risk of kidney stone formation
Improve asthma symptoms
Reduces the risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Cons:
Stained Teeth
Induces stomach problems
Reduces sperm count
Sleep disturbances
Increase risk of osteoporosis
Risk of cardiovascular diseases
Increase stress level

Coffee is truly addicting but what is the key? “Everything in moderation”, an old ground rule which holds true for coffee. It is not deleterious unless you abuse it. Coffee has its own disadvantages, but offers an adequate amount of satisfactory points to make it a worthwhile drink.

Best of Luck!

Can’t Beat The Classics

Classic Car Show in Lethbridge is a once a year event usually during summer season. They call it Lethbridge Street Wheelers. The event falls on a weekend. It includes a night cruise, 100ft drag races, auto-x and a show and shine in the Galt Gardens. Thousands of people from Southern and Northern Alberta gather in the Galt Gardens to see the display of gorgeous classic cars.

We went to the Show and Shine event at Galt Gardens hoping to see a DeLorean. Neil was so excited to see one. He was a huge fan of the DeLorean Time Machine in Back To The Future Movie Series. Unfortunately, we did not see a DeLorean but it’s alright as we have seen lots of beautiful cars.

I only have my iphone with me that time and below are photos of the vintage cars.

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ImageThe 1928 Dodge Brothers Standard 6

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ImageWe browsed the Garden for almost 2 hours and we’re impressed with the quality of craftmanship of the vintage cars. Truly, nobody can’t beat the classics.