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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Celebration of Friendship – USC Barkada Reunion Day 2 at the Plantation Bay

 August 19, 2011

The phone rang.  It was 6:00 in the morning and we had a late night prior.  I and Jasmin were at Radisson Blu Hotel where she was checked in and where I had spent most of my time too.  She was in a deep slumber like a baby while Paolo, her nephew, was silently snoring on the couch.  I had wanted to ignore the sound but it just kept bugging me.  Plus, the sound was all too familiar.  It was my phone.  I picked it up and on the other end, a male voice in a high tone said “Gising na kayo?” 
Grrrrrrr!  It was my cousin Bong who was flying in from Manila.  I had wanted to put down the thing and go back to dreamland but he was persistent.  He said “you guys will have to talk to me.”

I said “why? It’s too early.”

“Exactly.  I might fall asleep and if I do, I’ll miss my plane.  If I miss my plane, it will be your fault and I won’t be able to go there for the reunion.”

I wanted to throw a fit because I was dizzy from lack of sleep but I chuckled heartily. How on earth can you get mad at someone who’s just so excited and ecstatic at seeing you?  So, what happened in the next 5 hours was that we had to bear with Bong by almost throwing the phone at each one.  I talked to him till about 8 am.  When Jasmin woke up, I gave her the phone to talk to the poor guy while I took a bath.  Then, the phone was back to me because Jasmin had to go to the bathroom too to prepare.  We dressed up, did our hair, put on our make up and he was just there chatting.  And yes, you read it right, 5 long hours.  Actually more but there were a few minutes break in between.  He was at the airport at 6 but his flight didn’t leave till 1 pm and he had nothing else to do but sit or sulk.  Not a good idea to sulk on a good day.  

Tata arrived.  Divine and Joy had joined us while Bong was still on the phone. He had purchased an unlimited phone call service and he planned on using it all up on us.  Unlimited!  He had 2 phones I guess and charged one while he used the other. It was clever.  We, on the other hand, had to take turns charging our phones as he would call another phone when one died out on him.  Pathetic and funny altogether – something only Bong could muster. 
Breakfast for Jasmin, Tata and myself was at the buffet in the hotel.  Divine and Joy were to pick us up and go to the resort together.  We checked out of the Radisson at 11 am since we were booked at the Plantation Bay Resort on Mactan Island. It was just about 45 minutes away from the City.  However, we were not allowed to go to our room right away as check in time was really at 2 pm anyway.  We So, we just brought in our bags, waited for Bong to arrive and took off to a nearby resto to have lunch.  Finally, our ordeal with Bong ended.  Ha ha!  You know, it was such a joyful and hair-raising sight to see how exuberant we all were to be together.  There were hugs and unending laughter, tearful recounts of past events, and unlimited stories told.  25 years could not have been enough to tell in 3 days!  But, we were all happy. 
In the afternoon, we were joined at Plantation Bay by Limuel and his family.  The boys were the group’s funny bones and just as before, we were laughed hard such that I had to constantly remind ourselves that we would had to tone down our voices lest we be told by the front office to do so.  We were in our mid 40’s and such an act would be degrading but we felt like we were in our 20’s that time because we were in that age where we left off.  At maybe 8 pm, we decided to go out to dinner.  First we decided to eat at a resto inside the hotel where they served the food al fresco with an Arabian nights show.  However, it was too expensive and there were over 20 of us that time.  Also, most of us wanted food that was Cebuano so we decided to go to another place.  I told Joy I would go to the powder room but when I went out they had gone off.  Apparently, Joy forgot about what I said since they were preoccupied when her sister joined us and boarded the tram that took them to the front office. Tata soon looked for me and they had realized I was left at the resto that she came to fetch me.  All of them tried to call me – Bong, Joy, Jasmin, Divine and Limuel.  We all laughed at that.  Some comic moment was bound to happen and that was it.  LOL
After dinner, we drove back to the hotel, passing by for some balut and penoy and, over a couple of drinks, told stories of each one’s own life the past decades.  We thank facebook and Tata for bringing us together -  Tata who diligently and persistently searched for all of us and brought us all back together.  It was a pity that some of our friends were not able to join then – Boy Beduya, Jun Pascua, Onie Torres.   Anyway, there’s always a next time. 



Day 3
Day 4

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Celebration of Friendship - USC Barkada Reunion Day 1

 It had been over 20 years since our barkada last got together.  After a year of planning, this year we went back to Cebu to get together.  My friends Joy, Jasmin and Divine had come home for the reunion. Jasmin came from Japan and Divine came all the way from from L.A.  Joy, however, was here a month prior.  She had come home from Austria where she and her family now resides and had extended her stay to join us.  The rest of us had come from different parts of the country - Tata, my bff, came from Dumaguete, Limuel from Surigao,while I and Bong from Manila.

 On our first day, however, there were only the girls and some of the young ones my friends are related to - Joy's children, Divine's son and 2 of her siblings, and Jasmin's nephew.  I took an early flight while Tata was there early too.  We both went straight to the Radisson Blu Hotel where the rest of the pack was waiting for us.  As expected, the ladies were almost hysterical to see each other after such a long while.  Some of us, yes us, grew bigger (sideways) while the others had maintained their built.  Nonetheless, despite the years, the wrinkles and the inches, the friendship had never been  stronger as the bond that tie us is rather long and deep. 

We had originally planned to go to Bohol but, because of the weather, opted not to go.  Instead we went to Simala where we had visited a famous church on a hill.  It is said that the place was miraculous and thus a church was built on the very ground where the miracles happened.  It was Divine's idea to go and thank the Good Lord for the time we had together. Everyone else just had to agree with her.  It took about 3 hours to get there. 

 On our way back from Simala, we stopped by a store in Carcar to buy some chicharon which the place is known for.  I had bought a few packs to bring home to Manila.  A pack of about 200 grams cost 50 pesos.  Of course we had a few pieces to eat inside the van. Sssshhh.  That's supposed to be a secret because we are now in our mid 40's and chicharon should not be on our list of things to eat. For those who do not know what the chicharon of Carcar is, it is pork crackling made of skin and fat.  Anyway, a few pieces wouldn't really hurt, right Vine?

While there, we saw a girl vendor who had some banana que with her.  Of course our friends who live abroad couldn't resist the temptation of buying some.  We all had a stick of the sugar-coated plaintain banans and a can of soft drink.  Whew!  talk about rising blood sugar.  Tata, though, had a coke zero because she's diabetic.  The rest of us, well, had a high glucose tolerance.

After the pitstop at Carcar, we went on our way but stopped once more in Carcar to buy some slippers and shoes.  It turned out that the place is also known for footwear and there's a place there where they sell them cheap.  The ladies bought an average of 2 pairs.  Jasmin had about half a dozen more. Cheaper by the dozen so it seems.

We went on our way after that back to the Radisson where Joy had her pretty daughters swim at the pool.  Jasmin had gone off to a business meeting, while we went to SM to eat dinner. For a night cap, we went to a videoke bar and sang our hearts out till about 3 am.  Boy, that day was tiresome, exhausting but very well spent.


Day 2
Day 3

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Choose A Good Dorm - It's A Parent's Responsibility

Beware of the thieves!

I actually mean those people who run a dorm and promise something without fulfilling them or who charge rates that you did not agree on.  Yesterday my daughter and I along with my mother-in-law transferred her stuff from her old dorm to the new one.  It was time to move to a new place because the old dorm near the raymundo gate is dirty, noisy and is run by a woman who gives false promises and charges exorbitant rates for nil or poor service.  The one thing I hate the most is how she expects the occupants of the dorm to clean the common area.  The reason it is a dorm and not an apartment is so that people will only want to occupy a room - actually, a space in a room for those who stay in those rooms for 2 or more people.  Thus, they should be responsible for the area that they are occupying.  Nothing else.  The kitchen, dining room, toilet, sala and even the ref should be cleaned and maintained by the owners or the caretakers.  

But no.  This dorm has dirty white tiles in the toilet – it used to be white but is now very dirty – plus the toilet bowl is  a mixture of brown and dirty white because of the grime.  The ref was never cleaned for the whole time my daughter was there and there was a time that it smelled like poop in the whole house when the ice melted during a black out.  Until yesterday the sink still had that turbid filthy brownish water near the wall just under the faucet which.  I dread to think what microorganisms can be cultured there.  Salmonella, pseudomonas?  Gosh!  Those can cause disease or even death to the kids.  So, be careful when you choose your child’s dorm especially for the first time.  

Here’re some tips to keep away from those types of dorms (a lesson I should have learned beforehand):
  1. Check with the local government. At UPLB, you can actually just go to the Batong Malake Barangay hall and check with them whether the dorm in has incidents or cases filed against them.  
  2. Check for recommendations over the internet.  I’m not saying that you believe everything on the net.  But if there are a lot of people saying that one place is good, then it probably is.  
  3. Check for recommendations from the college or university.  
  4. Of course if you have friends or relatives, ask them too for recommendations or suggestions.  

The following are recommended dorms at the UPLB area:

For the area near the Math Building:

  1. St. Therese Parish
  2. Ilag Dorm
  3. One Silangan

For the area near the BioSci building:
  Raymundo Gate dorms – butterfly ladies’ dorm, Lola, and a pink dorm at Pearl St., near F.O. Santos.  I will post a phone number soon.  Just please check back again.  The Westbrook dorm is a very nice, clean and well-kept dorm. However, the area going there gets really dark at night. 

For the area near the forestry, try the dorms of UP.  For the VetBuilding and CEAT areas, the YMCA or the dorms at the Silangan are probably the nearest ones.  

UPLB conducts a freshman orientation.  You can inquire then which dorms are recommended.  

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Dukan Diet with Tips for Filipinos

If you’re Filipino and you’re into the Dukan Diet, chances are that you would be scrambling about town to find the food that you can eat.  Here is how to do the Dukan Diet and the places to get the ingredients and food that you can consume while you’re on it. 

Dukan Diet Attack Phase (Phase 1)  

The Dukan diet Attack Phase is the most simple to remember but it is also the most difficult to adhere to.  However, it is in this phase that the most rapid weight loss occurs.  It is done anywhere from 2 to 10 days.  Dieters lose 5 to 7 pounds in 5 days.  Someone I know (Doc Mercy, this is you!) lost 10 lbs in 7 days.  Just don’t overdo it.  It is not a balanced diet and most dieters tend to become constipated.  It’s good that fat-free yogurt is allowed during this phase and will help address the problem of constipation.  Milk Kefir is also allowed as long as it is fat free.  I would suggest you take both.  Personally, I have lost weight just taking these two products with my regular meals.  In the Philippines, you can buy fat free, sugar free natural yogurt from Yoggie’s Yogurt Station.  Our yogurt do not have any emulsifier or other known stabilizers so you get a product that is purely made from milk and milk solids. 
The daily intake for this phase recommends the unlimited consumption of only lean protein from pork, beef, fish and eggs along with 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran and 1.5 liters of water daily.  However, in the US, tenderloin pork is allowed.

Attack Phase Food List
These are mostly what you can eat during this phase:
•    Seafood – any as long as it does not have carbs (e.g. breadcrumbs, flour, etc), or oil or in a sauce that has oil or fat.

•    Meat lean cuts of beef, veal or venison, low fat slices of ham with all rind and fat removed, lean bacon, calves  liver and kidneys, rabbit or hare.  The US version of the Diet also allows pork tenderloin.   Lean cuts of chicken, turkey, ostrich and other birds  without any limitations as long as they are devoid of all fat including the skin.  You are also allowed to eat chicken livers.  I found some ostrich meat at Rustan’s Grocery.

•    Dairy Products and Eggs – virtually any fat-free, sugar-free dairy products such as skim milk, quark, fromage frais, kefir or yoghurt can be eaten.  Yogurt is specially important to prevent constipation which is the usual complaints of Dukan dieters.  If you can find fat free ricotta and cream cheese, those are allowable too.  At Yoggie’s Yogurt Station, you can buy your yogurt, kefir, ricotta. 
Sugars from fruits are not allowed.  The consumption of up to 2 eggs a day in the attack phase.  I suggest you get the organic eggs which has very little cholesterol.  I found some cheap organic eggs are available at the organic stall at the fresh produce at Market Market.  Tofu and soy products are allowed. 

•    Herbs and Spices - You can use any herb or spice in any phase of the diet. However, they should be used sparingly – only to give some flavour to your food.  There ’s a wide selection that I found at the SM Megamall grocery.  Also, there’s a store at Market Market that sells unusual herbs and spices.  It is located across serendra right beside Fiorgelato.  The name eludes me this time. 
Even salt is allowed.  Just try not to be tempted to put too much of it as the proteins will be taxing on the kidneys already. 

•    Vinegar - All vinegars are allowed in all phases.  Some lemons can be used too for flavouring.

•    Sweeteners - Aspartame, Stevia, Splenda(sucralose) and Xylitol are allowed. I suggest you go for stevia instead.  You can buy the plant and use the leaves.  They’re available at the Manila Seedling Bank.  However, if you prefer the dried and readymade ones, I believe they’re available at the AANI stalls at Quezon City Memorial Circle.  Healthy Options has them too but those are a bit pricey.
Chewing gum can be used to freshen your breath.  It also helps you get rid of the hunger pangs. 

•    Drinks - You can drink skim milk, coffee, diet soda (as long as it is under 1 calorie per glass), green tea or fruit teas.   

•    Goji Berries - A tolerated item according to the official site.  Yoggie’s has this too. 

•    Brewer’s Yeast and Multivitamin Supplements
I will write about these in another blog tomorrow:
Dukan diet Cruise Phase (Phase 2)
Dukan diet Consolidation Phase (Phase 3)
Dukan diet Stabilization Phase (Phase 4)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The No Poo Shampoo Method - A Natural Way to Clean Hair

Commercial shampoos have chemicals that may cause cancer.  This is according to what I have found over the internet.  So, the herbalist, naturalist and "organicist" (???) that I am, I tried to search for an alternative to it.  I found the "no poo" method which are now being sold.  However, why buy when I can actually make it at home with very little cost.  Here's how I do it:

Mix 1 tbsp baking soda in 1 cup of water in a dipper.  In another dipper, mix the juice of1/4 dalandan or navel orange with 1 cup of water.  Wet hair thoroughly.  Pour the soda water solution through out the hair and scalp.  Massage scalp for a few seconds.  Rinse with tap water.  Pour in and massage through your hair the orange-water mixture.  leave on for about 5 minutes.  The longer it stays on hair, the softer the hair is. The nice
At the start, my hair became greasy but as it went on, I find that it smelled good and is really cleaner.  The orange was also good for my tresses as it became softer and more manageable.  plus my locks smell refreshingly nice with  the essence of orange.  I used GIGA's Scalp Treatment which is made from virgin coconut oil and ginger to stop my falling hair.  It seems like the regimen is working for me.  It's cheap and it really works.  Why don't you try it and find out? 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Yogurt and the Dukan Diet

I had a lady doctor come over today to buy some fat-free natural yogurt.  In the Philippines, there are but a few who make yogurt and most are either whole milk or low-fat.  Thus far, this lady said I'm the only yogurt maker with fat free yogurt that she found on the internet. 

Anyway, it turned out that she is on the attack phase (the very first phase) of the dukan diet and had very little choices for food variety that she wants to add yogurt or fat free dairy to her list. So, she tried to ask me and while I do not have fat free yogurt in my product list, I do give in to some client requests such as this.  She contacted me yesterday, and today, she came over to pick it up. 

So what's the Dukan Diet all about?  As I understand it, it is a diet formulated by a certain Dr. Pierre Dukan who is a French medical doctor.  The diet has 4 phases and the very first one, the attack phase, involves ingesting only protein.  Some people claim to have lost 10 pounds in 3 days.  This lady doctor said she has so far lost 10 pounds in 7 days.  Not bad.  perhaps I'll give it a shot.  Anyone care to try? 

For fresh yogurt in manila and other dairy and probiotic needs, visit