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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Diwal Shell: Like a Tongue Sticking Out

Diwal shell, commonly found in Negros Occidental, are so-called because of its peculiar characteristic. Diwal (dee-WAHL) is an Ilonggo term for "tongue sticking out", and this shellfish tends do stick out of its shell, looking like a tongue sticking out.

In this particular bowl, however, the diwal shells are kind of shy and did not want to be seen in their usual form.

A delicious main ingredient in soups, such is the demand for the diwal shell.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Talaba, Anyone?

Talaba, or oysters, are found everywhere in Bacolod and almost all coastal towns of Negros Occidental, the City of Hinigaran known for having the sweetest talaba of all.

When in Bacolod, you can have your plateful of Talaba at Puntataytay. Famous seafood restaurants such as 18th Pala-pala, Imay's, or Aboy's also feature the delectable talaba.

Because of its high demand and also for hygienic purposes, talaba are now mostly cultured in special talaba farms.

These oysters come in two sizes. The big ones are called talaba (tah-lah-BAH), while the small ones are called sisi (si-SI).

Talaba is easier to handle and opens up easily. When harvested in an especially hot weather, talaba is sweet and smooth. It looses its flavor during wet or cloudy weather, and people believe the rains wash away the sweet-salty taste.

Sisi on the other hand is much harder to handle and opening it is more challenging just thinking of avoiding getting cut. Just as it is small, its flavor is like the compact version of talaba.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Negros Occidental's Provincial Capitol Lagoon Skating Rink

Negros Occidental's Provincial Capitol Lagoon skating rink is still very much in use today.

I remember skating on it years ago when skates had four wheels each -- two in front and two at the back, and was adjustable that it could accommodate any kind of shoe (wow, I miss that pair now, it's made of steel it can be a valuable antique now).

There was a time when the Provincial Capitol Lagoon skating rink went into dormancy. It had major cracks and the surface wasn't as skate-friendly as before.

Later skateboarders and BMX bike enthusiasts rediscovered the place and the Provincial Capitol Lagoon skating rink became populated again.

The advent of the roller blade in the late 80's -- with four wheels aligned on a straight line like that of an ice skate -- and the "skate shoes" in the 90's -- shoes that looked like bulky rubber shoes with wheels that pop out at the flick of a button -- made the Provincial Capitol Lagoon skating rink a skating haven again.

Waveboards, a two-wheel innovation of the classic skateboard, is another sight to see at Negros Occidental's Provincial Capitol Lagoon skating rink.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lopue's Silay City

There's a Lopue's in Silay City, and it looks like this.

Well, it doesn't look like an architectural wonder, and I wonder why its architectural design looks like that. Perhaps to blend in with the old glory of the Paris of Negros?

Hmmmm.... I still prefer the antique charm of the authentic original buildings.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Negros Occidental: The Sugar Bowl of the Philippines

Negros Occidental, also known as the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines, is the country's top sugar producer.

This is a friend's photo of the sugar mill where he works. He explained to me the many types of sugar being produced, aside from the familiar table sugar that's either white or brown, and the muscovado.

I've made an extensive research on sugar, the article appears on Follow Me magazine. And until now, I'm not paid for it, nor was I invited during the launching of the magazine. I wrote at least three articles there. Hmmm....

I forgot the magazine article title, and I wasn't SEO oriented in my writing before. Maybe I should just have blogged in the first place my article on Negros Occidental: The Sugar Bowl of the Philippines.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

5 de Noviembre: Today in Negros History

5 de Noviembre has become more than just a date. It has become a street, a landmark, a celebration of Negros' independence from Spanish rule in 1898.

Negros revolutionary troops led by Aniceto Lacson and Nicolas Golez from the north of Bacolod City (Silay City), and Juan Araneta from the south (Bago City), overcame the Spaniards by tricking them into thinking that they were outnumbered by a large number of rebels with a surprisingly large artillery. It turned out that the guns and cannons were just decoys, defronded coconut palm branches and rolled up amakan mats painted pitch black to look like firearms from a distance.

The ruse was successful as to win the province's independence, celebrated today, November 5, 2009.

12th Adobo Festival in Silay City

For 12 years, the Adobo Festival in Silay City has grown into a major tourist activity in the Paris of Negros.

Locals as well as foreign visitors flock into Balay Negrense along 5 de Noviembre Street, Silay City, to savor the many kinds of adobo Negrense cooks had to offer.

Lunch al fresco under giant foliage of ancient trees was the order of the day. Aside from culinary art, several artworks by Negrense artists stimulate the visual palate as well.

Ian Valladarez and his wire sculpture.

Me and my still life artworks in acrylic and oil pastel.

Bea Mocorro and her oil pastel "pinakas" (pi-NAH-kas) or dried fish.
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