Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mayor Bing Leonardia's Secret in Keeping Fit

Mayor Bing Leonardia was at a christmas party hosted by the Demonteverde family. He was having a light dinner (because he still has six more parties to go) at our table having casual conversation when his good friend and fellow lawyer Atty. Ivan Nemenzo, this year's IBP president, asked the Bacolod City mayor's secret in keeping fit.The mayor answered that, contrary to the popular advice, he doesn't have breakfast but he only takes a glass of Reliv in the morning.

I was amazed because that's what I do, too. No breakfast or maybe a late breakfast (or else I'd be late for office), but a glass of Reliv Classic with Innergize before I take anything else. This is a sort of body detox for me. And just look at me and Mayor Bing Leonardia in our respective ideal body weight.

Atty. Nemenzo then said that Reliv products are very expensive he might not be able to afford it. But I explained that it's really worth it's price and the amount he saw at a local department store is a non-member's price so he should become a member himself like myself and the mayor's wife to avail of membership discounts. I cited another mayor, Dr. Eric Saratan of Talisay City as one of Reliv's top master affiliates.

For more information on Reliv products, click on the following link:

If you wish to become a member, please contact me for registration details.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Bacolod Public Plaza: Where is the Magic Now?

The Bacolod Public Plaza has been the centerpiece of all Bacolodnon activity for ages. Back in the 70's and even in the 80's, the Bacolod Public Plaza is the hub for Family Sundays. After going to church at the huge cathedral, people flock to the black-and-white checkered square to relax, eat some dirty ice cream, fly balloons, and have their pictures taken.

I remember as a child being fascinated by the stoic beauty of the bandstand, just standing on a larger-than-life chessboard sprawled all around it. I used to enjoy frolicking with the seemingly alive stone statues drenched in fountain showers. I could almost feel the very presence of President Manuel L. Quezon the day he planted the half-a-century old tindalo tree.

But these days, as I basked in the morning sunshine in the Bacolod Public Plaza (undeniably the safest time to snap pictures without worrying about a possible snatching), gone is the magic of old when these same statues used to sparkle in a mesmerizing play of water and lights weaving wondrous awe to children from 1 to 101.

The stone statues are now literally stoned dry as their blank eyes gaze out in a feeling of helplessness as they stand eternally trapped in a dry pool of neglect.

It all goes to show that the Bacolod Public Plaza these days is as lifeless as the city itself is artless, having no home for the arts and culture. The wholesomeness of the heart of Bacolod City has long been corrupted with shady deals and characters that abound.

What a sad, sad state indeed, as sad as the stone lady's bowed head forever mourning the death of the unknown soldier, or of the Bacolod Public Plaza.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Roadtripping: Ma-ao, Bago City

Roadtripping to Ma-ao, Bago City, or just about any city or town in Negros Occidental is a fun way to explore the island.

One day, I decided, rather on an impulse and in response to a small emergency, to drive some 40 kilometers from Bacolod City to the next city down South, up to one of its popular barangay, Ma-ao. Further up eastward is Pader, an adjacent barangay where my three girls -- Janice, Jo-an, and Joylyn -- and the rest of their family of four other siblings and their mother reside.

They showed us a vast playground of acres and acres of breezy rice and sugarcane fields, dotted with bamboo clumps, and an assortment of trees.

The Ma-ao Creek is vital to their survival. Along its banks are spots of golden earth they call "tae sang bulawan" or excrement of gold. This is where the clearest water spring from and you can dig a well from which to draw drinking water. However, because the creek also serves as the community's wash area and outhouse, drinking water is preferably fetched from the tap a few distance away at PhP2.00 per container.

A few hundred meters ahead is the children's favorite bamboo playground, a lofty perch accessible by bamboo ladder leading to a bed of dry bamboo leaves and twigs where the children spend warm afternoons dreaming of a better life someday.

But then again, what could be better than clean country air, green landscapes, simple living, exotic fruits and pretty flowers in this little paradise in Ma-ao, Negros Occidental?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Central District: A 2009 Christmas Bazaar

I've been meaning to visit Central District: A 2009 Christmas Bazaar right beside Robinsons's Place.

First, because the city-paved but unused street recently sparked a lot of controversy since it was closed to the public.

Second, now that it's opened and christened as Central District: A 2009 Christmas Bazaar, it spurs a lot of curiousity.

So I went in to see what's beyond the big tarpaulin sign board and the al fresco table arrangements waiting for outdoor barbecue diners.

I wanted to see what's inside the giant white tent lined with tall palm trees waving in the air for people to come.

Inside were rows of familiar looking stalls displaying the same old trinkets, foodstuffs, wares, dresses, CDs, etc. that you can easily find at Robinson's, SM, 888, Mayfair, and other big stores.

I posted this article in Interesting Nooks and Corners, but unfortunately, the only interesting thing here is the first reason I've mentioned earlier. I also posted this blog in Happenings, but sadly, nothing's really happening here, not even the sales (the way I saw it). Unless something really interesting is happening here, the al fresco tables will eternally be futilely waiting, and the tall palm trees will forever be frantically waving in the air for people who will never come.

But thanks to this new place, I've added a new label, Reviews. And my rating is a half star out of five for Central District: A 2009 Christmas Bazaar.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is This a Sign for Bacolod Politics 2010?

Atty. Bing Sedonio, a good friend of mine, noticed this sight as he was driving along Araneta Street at downtown Bacolod. As we were approaching the Bacolod City Public Plaza, the past noon day sun cast a sun-dial-like shadow from one of the halogen lamp holders poised at a large tarpaulin billboard showcasing the faces of the Bacolod City officials from the Mayor to his councilors.

As we drove nearer and nearer, the shadow won't budge on one councilor's face. He asked me what I thought about it. The blogger that I am, quickly took pictures as he frantically ordered me to be done with it as he was driving as slowly as he could while downtown Bacolod traffic was pushing us into the roundabout flow.

An artist himself, he loves lecturing about his vast knowledge of art or discussing the things that normally go unnoticed by the unartistic eye.

"'In the dark'?" I ventured, looking at the solid shadow landing squarely on the councilor's face.

"Or, 'this is it'?" Atty. Bing suggested, interpreting it as Fate pointing at what look like a powerpoint presentation of Bacolod City's next congressional candidate.

Either way, with the mounting election fever and comic candidatorial circus going about, it's a sign worth looking out for in Bacolod politics 2010.

What Does Downtown Bacolod Look Like in 2009?

Downtown Bacolod hasn't changed much. The landmark buildings still have the 70's look.

Araneta Street is always the favorite avenue for parades such as the Family Day of La Consolacion College Elementary Department. I grabbed the opportunity to snap pictures of downtown Bacolod while the probability of my gadget being snatched is at its lowest.

During early Saturday mornings, the main street and the roundabout surrounding the plaza still breathes clear of Bacolod air, until pandemonium wreaks havoc starting around 10:00 in the morning down to afternoon rush hour.

The familiar landmarks of downtown Bacolod, i.e., Iris Theater (no longer in business), Lopue's Araneta (which was recently partially razed by fire), and Plaza Mart (after having a facelift and additional split levelling, still looks quite the same inside) stand witness to the chaotic sidewalk way of life of downtown denizens. Stalls displaying all kinds of merchandise, from fruits to small tools, goldfish in plastic bags to seasonal wares, endlessly and relentlessly vie against each other for passerby attention.

One familiar facade that is permanently erased in the face of downtown Bacolod is China Rose, a department store that is now replaced by Unitop, a Korean store selling China goods. Talk about the bustling irony that can only be downtown Bacolod.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Belen: Pinoy Style Nativity Scene

Belen is a Spanish word for the nativity scene commonly reconstructed during Christmas. Over the years, the belen has been presented in many different ways and is the centerpiece of all christmas decorations in Filipino homes.

While the name Jerry Sy sounds Chinese and indeed he is considered Fil-Sino, he is truly Filipino in his celebration of the birth of Christ. For his home at San Agustin Street, Bacolod City (near Colegio San Agustin) becomes a backdrop for a lavishly decorated belen set right outside his gates for everyone to enjoy.

As if heralding the message that his home is always a welcome haven for the weary couple looking for a place to stay for the night in Bethlehem, Jerry Sy does so in his trademark flair.

Everyone who passes by couldn't help but pause and admire with great awe this thoughtfully prepared belen that underwent several revisions until it was just right according to Jerry's specifications.

Being just outside the street, anyone could go near the nativity scene and touch it, just don't break it -- Jerry's angels are in the constant lookout to guard and protect this beautiful belen.

Bacolod Parol and Probation

Parol, not parole.

Parol is the christmas lantern that usually adorn Filipino homes during the yuletide season.

In Bacolod, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology has made it a yearly tradition for prisoners at the Provincial Jail to fashion colorful parol out of flexible bamboo sticks as part of their fund raising drive. Beginning the latter part of November, the jail's sidewalks become colorful as makeshift stalls line along the otherwise foreboding prison walls displaying the parol in solid christmas colors and in various sizes to suit your motif.

The parol is wrapped in sturdy colored plastic to withstand sun and rain when displayed outdoors. Thus it can still be re-used for two to three christmases thereafter. When finally they get worn out or you just want to change color combination, you can always bring your old set for them to re-wrap. But the small bunch of ten parol stars costs only PhP250.00 that it is well worth it to buy brand new.

The inmates supervised by the Bacolod Parole and Probation Office make parol of different styles. The classic 10-star series is always a big hit, it varies only in color and comes in small and medium sizes. The bigger ones are too heavy for hanging in series so they come individually, others propped up in bamboo sticks that can be planted into your garden for a magically starry night outdoors.

These stars on stilts only cost from PhP130 to 180 each. Not bad for a parol on parole.

For more on the history of parol, click here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Alupi, Alupi, Alupi!

Alupi. This steamed cassava delicacy has a light sweet taste that is soft and chewy to the bite. Cooked in banana leaf, the wrapping adds a new dimension to its flavor. Buco strips make alupi more special.

Eating alupi is rather messy because of its sticky consistency. The best way to eat alupi is with a fork. Simply open the banana leaf wrapping to reveal a flat green-yellowish rectangular alupi delight. Slice away with your fork and enjoy with a bottle of cold Coke.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"May Toyo Ka Ba?": Do You Have Toyo/Patis (Soy Sauce/Fish Sauce)?

In Bacolod, patis (pa-TIS) in Hiligaynon means soy sauce, and the Tagalog patis is is Rufina patis. Thus, they are both patis, the only distinction is that the Ilonggos refer to soy sauce as patis, while fish sauce is Rufina patis, as if all fish sauces are rufina.

In Tagalog speaking areas, what the Ilonggos know as patis is called toyo (TO-yo^). So that Ilonggo speaking people must have to specify when ordering for patis condiment in a restaurant in Manila in order to be served with toyo (TO-yo^) or soy sauce, because for the Tagalogs, the Ilonggo patis is toyo and the Ilonggo Rufina patis is patis.

Makes you a bit crazy, huh? Well, for the Tagalog speaker, toyo also means a "loose screw" so that when someone asks you, "May toyo ka ba?". It either means, "Do you have toyo?" referring to the soy sauce, or to your state of mind.

Ah, this naughty Tagalog word for the Ilonggo patis.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

888 Chinatown Square: What to Expect and How to Get There

888 Chinatown Square is the Bacolod counterpart for Divisoria's 628. It is the place to go for inexpensive China goods, RTW's, shoes, accessories, cell phones, DVD's and the lot.
888 Chinatown Square is found along Gatuslao Street, Bacolod City, right beside Land Bank of the Philippines and in front of the National Food Authority. It is very accessible by all sorts of transportation from trisikad to jeepneys to taxis to private vehicles.

When taking the jeep or jeepney, take the Bata-Libertad route when coming from the North of the Provincial Capitol Lagoon as your reference point. Take the Mandalagan-Libertad route when coming from the South in order to get to 888 Chinatown Square.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tinolang Bangus, Ilonggo Style

Tinolang Bangus , Tinolang Manok, for the Ilonggos, they are all tinola, hot clear-broth soupy dishes. In Manila, only chicken is tinola (tinolang manok), and bangus is sinigang.

So much ado about the name, here's a great milkfish recipe for tinolang bangus, Ilonggo style:
  • 1 piece large bangus, cleaned and sliced into serving pieces
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 small ginger, sliced
  • 2 pieces tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 medium radishes, cut into serving pieces
  • 5 pieces string beans, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 cups kangkong leaves
  • 5 pieces batuan*
  • 1 teaspoon salt

*A joke goes, "There are many trees, batuan is the best." And indeed, of all the souring ingredients to sinigang or tinolang bangus, batuan beats tamarind (sampaloc), camias, kalamansi, or guava.

To cook:
  • In a casserole, bring water to a boil together with the ginger.
  • Add the bangus, tomatoes, and onion and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the batuan and salt to taste.
  • Add the radishes and string beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add the kangkong leaves, and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
Note: if you're out of radishes, you may also use sliced eggplants or banana heart for your own version of tinolang bangus, Ilonggo style.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bacolod City Goes Orgasmic Over Organic

The Organic Market, situated in Bacolod City, is a brainchild of the Negros Occidental Provincial Government under the leadership of the late Governor Joseph Maranon.

The Organic Market started out as a small market and diner featuring organically produced fruits, vegetables, rice, herbal oils, and even fertilizers.

Now, the Organic Market has become the mecca of health buffs from all walks of life, be it local or foreign. For as low as P50, one can have an orgasmic, er, organic gastric delight of a complete meal including a healthy fruit shake combo.

The Organic Market is easily located at the big vacant lot right behind the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol building. It is very accessible by both private and public transportation. When taking the jeep (a jeepney, Bacolod style), take the Bata-Libertad route when coming from the north of the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol, or the Mandalagan-Libertad route when coming from the south.

The Organic Market is truly an organic treat you shouldn't miss when in Bacolod City.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Ruins in Talisay City, Negros Occidental

The Ruins of Talisay is now what remains of the magnificent 903 square meter Italianate architecture with neo-Romanesque columns. The Ruins (before it was ruined) closely resemble New York's Carnegie Hall.

The mansion, built in the middle of a sprawling sugarcane plantation, was the largest residential structure built during its time. It is home to sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and his Portuguese wife, Maria Braga in the early 1900's.

Maria's father, a ship captain, brought with him the finest furniture, chinawares, and other decorative pieces from all over Europe and Asia. An imported, four-tiered fountain still adorns the Ruins' grounds to this day.

During the World War II, the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) burned the mansion to ruins to thwart Japanese invasion of the mansion with a view to making it as their headquarters. The fire lasted for two days until it finally brought down the roof and the two-inch thick wooden floors.

The main structure still stands to this day, thanks to one of Mariano's son's close supervision of strictly following the grade A mixture of the cement.

With the roof and wooden flooring all gone, it looks up into the open heaven, its grand staircase that was long stripped of its wooden covering seemingly leading to an imaginary second floor where you can almost hear soft elegant music reminiscent of the grand parties the mansion used to hold. And the ghosts of the past seem to be almost visible as they gracefully float in the silver screen of reconstructed memories (never mind that ghostly image in the digitally altered photograph, it's just me terribly frightened not by the thought of seeing the ghosts of christmas past but by the sheer height and nothingness beyond those stairs -- it's supposed to be off limits!).

Having an excellent view of the Talisay sunset, the Ruins is a picture-perfect backdrop for wedding pictorials and other theme pictorials. The historic mansion has a picnic grove a few meters away.

The Ruins is just some 15 minutes' drive from Bacolod City and by private transport. Public transport is a bumpy tricycle ride from Talisay highway and amid vast acres of sugarcane fields.

Another less turbulent (and perhaps safer) route is via Barangay Bata through Bangga Rose Lawns (memorial park), passing through Goldcrest Subdivision.

Conspicuous signs and festive flags have been posted at both routes that lead the way to the Ruins of Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

Forest Park: A Quick Getaway within Bacolod City

There's a forest right within Bacolod City, at Barangay Taculing. Aptly called Forest Park, it is a quick getaway for short retreats, kiddie field trips, family picnics, group parties, and lovers' rendezvous.

I love the green scenery of Forest Park and the peaceful quiet of the place. It has been an inspiration of several of my paintings.

It also has a man-made boating lagoon where children and lovers can enjoy.

A mere 15-minute drive or less from the heart of the city just a stone's throw away from the former Bacolod Sanitarium and Hospital, now the Bacolod Adventist Hospital, one can easily enjoy a laid back affair at Forest Park.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

San Carlos City's Signs of Humor

Arriving dazedly in San Carlos City after a three-hour drive from Bacolod City through Don Salvador Benedicto, I stepped out of the car to stretch my legs. It was December 2007.

I was still in a hazy trance when I saw the first sign posted on the bamboo fence which announced that the owners within are are selling ice, a normal business every three or four houses wherever in Negros Occidental and in the Philippines.

The bamboo fence stretched along a 10 meter frontage and on it were posted several more signs which, although painted using different material, moods and colors, apparently coming from the same author. Only then that I realized that I was into a visual, comic treat.

Judging from the weatherbeaten look of these signs, I wonder if they are still around after two years? I just discovered these photos that I discovered in my old files and decided to post them together with another sign of humor, a picture taken by Judge Jose Paolo Ariola, which is actually a warning sign for unauthorized persons not to enter the premises without permission.

Ah, well, there are lots of funny signs such as these, but around these parts, these are truly local flavor courtesy of San Carlos City's Signs of Humor.
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