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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Maria Isabel Garcia and Her Science Solitaire Book

Maria Isabel Garcia is unlike other authors because, to her, the best thing about having a published book is not about getting rich from sales or leaving a legacy. For her, being a writer is more about the satisfaction of seeing a finished book get a life of its own. She is a natural explorer who writes about what she sees around her, connecting her observations in life with science. Her inquisitive nature has led to become a science writer of The Philippine Star, a content author for Rappler, and ultimately, the curator of The Mind Museum, an innovative science museum in the Philippines that adds to the reasons why it's more Fun in The Philippines.
Maria Isabel Garcia's first book is Science Solitaire: Essays on science, nature and becoming human. It's all about science, but the kind that is more personal and derived from her own personal experience of the world, which comes to her in a visual manner in her head.

Ideas do not come to her in words but in symbols that take on a visually solid or liquid form in her head. She combines what she sees with what she reads and viola, new ideas emerge to help her llustrate a point. That is what she writes about. "Writer's chase" which she does in order to capture the essence of a thought. It's what she experiences instead of "writer's block." She tries to chase after her own understanding of a topic and do all sorts of things to share it clearly and beautifully to people. Getting the approval of the book review board of the Ateneo De Manila University Press was something that she was very happy about.

Garcia’s wish for Science Solitaire is for it to inspire young people to write about science. Oddly enough, it's not even shelved with the science books but rather under the ‘Filipiniana’ section, which even her own friends, who are also science writers in the US, find very strange.

Here's how Maria Isabel Garcia describes her book on Amazon:

"Science Solitaire is a mind dance with nature's cards, in a style and lens that could help us see that science is alive - as it inhabits not just classrooms and textbooks but also our everyday lives. It consists of pieces of discovery that try to reveal the possible connections between the snippets of understanding we gain from science and our journey toward becoming human. What happens to our brains when we are happy, when we delight in music or food or other pleasurable pursuits? What lurks behind the awesome powers of some creatures with whom we inhabit this planet? What is E=mc2 and why is it the most popular icon for scientific ideas?"

Maria Isabel Garcia is also the author of Twenty-One Grams of Spirit and Seven Ounces of Desire

Jim Paredes and His 5th "Passion Night" Dinner When Strangers Get Together and Talk about Their Passion in Life

Jim Paredes and myself with other participants of the 5th Passion Night Dinner.
Jim Paredes in 2013. Wikipedia.
If you've deliberately searched online for "Passion Night" and "Jim Paredes," then it's likely you read a post of him online inviting ten people, total strangers, to join him for dinner to tell stories of what excites them in life. What is your passion?

I was fortunate and honored to have been a part of the 5th Passion Night Dinner of Jim Paredes held at his residence in Quezon City on May 1, 2015 (Labor Day). It was something that I did not really expect although I did think it would be cool. I had reservations about attending, but it was an adventure of sorts and in my opinion, was also the thrill that Mr. Paredes looked forward to.

My adventure began when I saw a tweet of his inviting people to send him an email about what they're passionate about in life. He was going to pick only 10 respondents to join him for a dinner date. As a fellow writer, I thought he might be interested in reading what I had to say, so I wrote him an email. For several days, there was no reply and I thought he didn't pick me, but I was mistaken. He did reply and told me to call in to confirm and that I could bring food if I'd like (which I did). The dinner invitattion, he said, was only for me and that I shouldn't bring anyone along. I told him I understood and that I'd come alone.

I arrived a bit early. From the cab, I saw there was already someone waiting at the gate. He thought I was a resident of the house but I told him I was just a guest of Mr. Paredes. Surprised, he told me that he was also there as a guest. So we rang the doorbell and waited. It took a little while for someone to open the gate, then we were ushered in across a driveway and a patio to a house at the back that had wide glass windows. I could see Mr. Paredes inside. He smiled and waved us in.

The comfy room had a long dinner table in the middle with an overhead light fixture that gave a subdued illumination to the interior. I later learned that the lights in the room had several settings which changed the mood in the room. Another guest, a woman, was already inside. She said she was the first to arrive. She told me she had to walk from the gate that was some distance from the house. Mr. Paredes introduced us to his artist wife, Lydia, who, he explained, was the one who designed the house from scratch, sourcing sturdy wood from dismantled old houses. He pointed out the doorway which he said was originally from a church.

While waiting for the other guests to arrive, Mr. Paredes explained that it was already his 5th Passion Night and that previously, he had held it in Palawan and even paid for the airfare and hotel accommodation of his guests. I thought that was quite generous of him and wondered where he'd be hosting Passion Night in the coming years. Someone had suggested to him that he turn it into something like a reality show with cameras and everything but he said he didn't like the idea, which was a good thing, I thought.

Eventually, the other guests arrived. Sitting at the table were a balikbayan who was vacationing from a European country and another guest who had roots in the same country (she's a singer at the City of Dreams and also a radio deejay). There was also a guy who was passionate about cooking (his marble tomatoes and Pili nuts combo was a hit), a traveling videographer, a female race car driver, a beauty queen, a cancer-gene "therapist" from St. Luke's Medical Center, a computer programmer, and two students - one of which flew in from her province just to attend the dinner. The picture that accompanies this article, which was taken at the end of the affair at 2 am, does not include all of the guests, as two of them left early.

We all had turns telling our story and listening. That was perhaps the "main event" of the night. I learned much from the other guests and also from Jim Paredes, who described himself as a Creative, although to most of us he would be forever one of the faces of the APO Hiking Society singing group with their well-loved songs that are now, I would say, part of the Filipino identity (Jim Paredes also has a solo album, LARO). His other passions, apart from music, are photography (which he teaches) and Zen, which was introduced to him by the owner of a popular grocery chain in the Philippines. If you ask him a Zen question like, "What does one hand clapping sound like?" He would likely return the question to you and if you can't answer, he'd tell you, "Sit on it," and that would be your introduction to Zen.

I won't spoil the fun for you by revealing any more of what transpired that night because if you are somehow considering taking up an invite of Jim Paredes to one of his Passion Night gatherings, then you should really dive in without any preconceptions or assumptions. Of course, you need to get picked first, and that's going to be the first surprise of many. Sometimes, it's good to get off the beaten path and join complete strangers in a room for dinner and storytelling. If you come upon an invite to Jim's Passion Night dinner, charge it to serendipity.

My thanks to Mr. Jim Paredes and his wife, Lydia for their hospitality and also to the other guests for making the night complete and unforgettable.

LARO, solo album of Jim Paredes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kinamat Resto Bar Silog and Budbod Menu (Angono, Rizal)

"Fi-fi-fo-fum. I smell a hungry customer. Solve this riddle to enter..."

Kinamat Resto Bar in Angono, Rizal is a simple native eatery with a band area for guests to experience a little live music while dining or drinking with friends and family. It has a rustic ambiance with all the natural materials like wood, bamboo, and nipa, used in the building structure. Outside, traditional masks used in festival parades look out to welcome diners. One could easily pass by this restaurant without noticing it. There's just a gravel driveway where guests can park, but apart from the sign hanging from a bamboo post and what's painted on the front wall, one would think that it's not a restaurant at all, but people do frequent the place and word-of-mouth gets around. When kids hear about the shark lamp, they all want to see it with their own eyes, though it's only made of fiberglass, maybe.

Sink your teeth into this crispy Kinamat pork chop.

Kinamat Resto Bar is simple, informal, quaint, and a local favorite, which means tourists have nothing to lose by checking out the place and ordering local food favorites like budbod, which is similar to Spanish tapas but with fried meat that's heartily mixed in with rice and slivers of scrambled egg. There are different kinds of budbod available. There's Shanghai (lumpia or egg roll as it's called by Americans), Pork, Beef, and Mixed, Of course, where there's budbod, there's also likely the silog dishes which are essentially fried rice (sinangag) with ulam, which is the meat you eat with the rice, like fried beef, pork, longanisa, chicken, bangus, hotdog... all served with fried egg, tomatos and your choice of either vinegar (suka) or fish sauce (patis). It's like breakfast at any hour of the day! there's also the popular breaded pork chop that is crunchy on the outside and juicy in the inside. Most of what's in the menu would complement a bottle of cold beer, as the locals would prefer it. But just as the restaurant is simple, so are what's in the menu, but it's all good. Kinamat Resto Bar is located along 1342 Col. Guido St. near the Manila East Rd. Tricycle and jeepney drivers can tell you where it is.

Kinamat Resto Bar's Beef Budbod.

Kinamat Resto Bar's Menu. Click to read.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pinoy Robust Supplement for Men Secrets Revealed

Many men in the Philippines as well as men from places like the United States and the UK of course, look to enhance their virility and performance by exploring exotic herbal solutions mostly available in Asian countries. In the Philippines, some of the popular male enhancement products are the Lee MF-Rhino and Honey Moon teas, but there's another brand that few men realize actually leave a lasting effect on their manhood. It's Robust Dietary Supplement for Men and its combination of mostly exotic Asian herbal ingredients is guaranteed to uplift men and their special member for hours at a time. If you want to know more about the secret of its ingredients, then read on.

Robust Dietary Supplement for Men is marketed in the Philippines, as the name reveals, as a supplement, but it's no ordinary supplement. It's a supplement with ingredients specially combined and formulated  to enhance male sexual performance. Essentially, it's like herbal Viagra and it's got a lot of oomph to go. It's marketed for men an fondly called locally as pampa gwapo (makes you attractive). Women can even try it.

Robust - gampa gwapo.
Each pack of Robust Dietary Supplement for Men (imported and distributed by ATC Healthcare Corp.) costs less than 200 pesos (P110 as of this writing) and comes with two tablets and a small brochure with a picture of sexy actress Paloma in bikini. The excitement starts even when you first open the box! Pop the two tablets from the foil pack and you immediately get a herbal scent. It's the kind of smell you would normally associate with a Chinese apothecary shop. This is not surprising because most of the ingredients in the tablets are Chinese herbs that you have not likely heard of. It's powerful 500 mg blend.

Robust Supplement for Men main ingredients and their secrets. 

Epimedium Extract (Horny Goat Weed) -
Contains icariin, which works like sildenafil, the active ingredient of Viagra. It has the same effect

L-Arginine -
Reverses erectile dysfunction, so if you're already fully functional, this does a lot more; improves sensations for men and women

Songaria Cynomorium Extract -
Used to treat impotence in men and enhance libido

Gamma Amino Butyric Acid/GABA -
Gives you a relaxed sensual state

Cnidium Monnier Whole Plant Extract -
Natural libido booster

Ginseng Extract -
Effectively treats sexual dysfunction and improves sexual desire of both sexes

Ginko Biloba Extract -
Increases sexual desire and orgasms (women and men)

Dahurian Angelica Root Extract -
Improves sex drive and performance

Dansheng Root Extract -
Herbal libido enhancer used in traditional medicine

Take the two tablets 4 to 5 hours before going into action. In three hours, you will feel a warm fuzzy sensation in your face and extremities. This means you're almost ready. In four to five hours you'll feel solid like a rock and stay that way for a few hours more. You can buy Robust Supplement for Men at Mercury Drug Stores and select convenience stores in the Philippines.

But be careful. As with anything, too much can be dangerous, so follow dosages and consult with your physician if you intend to take dietary supplements especially if your intent is to boost sexual arousal or performance. If you have a heart or blood pressure problem, it's best to get advice from your doctor because your life is more precious than a few hours of excitement.

Batchoy Noodle Soup Is for Tourists to Taste in The Philippines

American and British tourists should get a taste of batchoy in the Philippines.

One of the noodle soup dishes popular in the Philippines as a merienda meal is batchoy, a noodle soup which includes slivers of braised pork meat with crunchy skin, liver, and shrimp steeped in a salt, pepper and egg noodle broth flavored with sauteed garlic and onions. It's simple but flavorful with a perfect blend of ingredients that tease the taste buds with every sip of the hot broth. It's an oriental in style but distinctly Filipino. Batchoy, is a dish that Western tourists (Americans, British, etc.) should taste and experience because it's unlike the usual noodle dishes from other Asian countries.

Batchoy originated in the Visayas region. According to Wikipedia, it was first made in La Paz in the province of Iloilo by someone named Federico Guillergan, Sr. in 1938. Whether he's the sole originator, it's hard to say, but what did happen was batchoy became Iloilo's signature dish and is now popular all over the country. It's particularly more enjoyable during the rainy season when piping hot batchoy can be a warm companion.

Inside the Eskina batchoy restaurant in the Sta. Lucia mall.

Pictured here are bowls of hot batchoy served at the Eskina Ilonggo Manukan Seafoods at Batchoy restaurant at the Sta. Lucia mall along Marcos Highway in Cainta, Rizal. Since opening, this restaurant has become one of the more popular merienda or mid-afternoon snack establishments to go to when people are craving for a fix of batchoy noodle soup. If you're an American or British tourist, looking to experience Filipino cuisine, don't forget to get a taste of batchoy. This is just one of the restaurants that specializes in batchoy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Balaw Balaw Exotic Food Restaurant Art Gallery in Angono, Rizal

The Balaw Balaw restaurant welcome sign

Welcome to Balaw Balaw
Balaw Balaw is a native specialty restaurant in Angono, Rizal in the Philippines that doubles as an art gallery. Established by local artist and crafstman, Perdigon Vocalan and his wife, Luzvimin in 1982, Balaw Balaw became known for its menu which includes adobo crickets and timber grubs. If you're a tourist looking to experience a new and challenging culinary adventure in the Philippines, then this is the place to go to. You can find Balaw Balaw restaurant along the Manila East Road near the corner of Doña Aurora Street in Doña Justa Village in Angono

Looking down from the 2nd floor
There are plenty of the surprises inside the Balaw Balaw restaurant. There are several floors and rooms that are open to guests where they'll find all sorts of wood and paper sculptures and also paintings depicting local culture. The house itself is a wonder to behold with it's winding staircases and local antique charm. You can start your exploration in the dining area where there are already plenty of installation art and sculptures from local festivals on display. The ground floor is bisected by an artificial creek that's obviously been sitting there untended for a very long time. You'll find a little bridge of rocks that you can cross to get to the other side where the art gallery actually begins. The sculptures there appear old and untouched so don't be surprised to find huge cobwebs and a spider or two staring back at you. But it's all part of the thrill of the old house. 
The Balaw Balaw dining area

A roomful of paintings
There are lots of very old things to discover inside Balaw Balaw restaurant and if you go visit when few people are around, like two in the afternoon, it can feel like you're exploring an abandoned house. You might get an eerie feeling when looking at the many sculptures with faces and religious iconography, and at times you might feel like you're being watched from a dark corner. A section of the house is actually occupied and the rooms are connected by obscured passages, so you might get startled when someone suddenly appears when it seems you are alone in a room. Just hide your surprise by pretending to admire your surroundings or by asking if the piece of art you're looking at is for sale.
Head up to Balaw Balaw restaurant

A partly hidden room
At the roof deck, there's a quaint garden of potted plants and a shed where paper mâché masks used in the local Higantes (Giants) festival held in November are displayed. Be careful going in there because there's likely a guard dog in a corner of the room (another one of the little surprises of Balaw Balaw). It's actually where the art workshops are held. 

So, if you love adventure when it comes to eating exotic food and exploring old art houses, why not get a taste of Balaw Balaw restaurant? It might not be the kind of place for a first date, but if you are into art, antiques, strange food, eerie things and a meditative state, this is highly recommended. Go to Balaw Balaw for the experience. The memories will stay with your for a long time and enough for you to take a few friends or tourists along so that they can also experience it with you as their guide. 

What does balaw balaw mean? The term refers to a local delicacy in Rizal made from fermented shrimp paste and rice. 

The grand room of driftwood sculptures

Join the Last Supper of Balaw Balaw Restaurant

The wooden spiral staircase of the Balaw Balaw house
The art workshop

Balaw Balaw Restaurant house facade

Our Lady of Lourdes Mt. Maculot Virgin Mary Image on Rock Formation Seen from the Grotto

Mt. Maculot is a small mountain in the laid-back town of Cuenca of Batangas province in The Philippines. Formed by the explosion of...