Filipino cuisine is so simple, yet mouth-watering.  If you’re someone who had not been in the Philippines for quite sometime, I bet you’re dreaming of the taste and aroma of fried “tuyo”, “danggit”, “bagoong alamang”, or if you’re from the Ilocos Region, the dried “deer meat” cooked in puchero style, or may be the dried “gamet” (Ilocos Nori seaweed).

How would you like to enjoy your fried “tuyo”?  Tuyo with sunny side-up eggs?  Or just fried and simply have them with sliced tomatoes?  Or dip them in Ilocos black vinegar?  Wow!  Isn’t that really mouth-watering?   Whatever is your choice, tuyo, especially the Tamban kind, is a very hearty breakfast, so with fried “danggit”, and “espada” (swordfish).

For those who have no idea of what a “tuyo” is, well take a close look at it:

It is actually dried, salted Herring fish
It is actually dried, salted Herring fish

Just a word of advice:  Don’t eat too much of it if you have hypertension.  Eat only once a week, and try to control your appetite.  Yes, why not indulge once in a while!  But  don’t make tuyo a part of your everyday meal.  So does with danggit, dried sword fish, dilis, and other dried and salted fishes.

If you want to have a look at some of Filipino/Ilocano delicacies like gamet, dried shrimps,  Ilocos black vinegar, Ilocos aromatic garlic and onions, visit www.filipinoproductsandservices.com.  This site caters to your needs and offers their services too.  A must-try product is their CORNIK PINOY.  The seasonings are stuck into every corn bit.  Other brands’ seasonings settle at the bottom of the pack, but not with CORNIK PINOY.  No wonder its very tasty.

gamet or Ilocos Nori seaweed

gamet or Ilocos Nori seaweed

dried pusit

dried pusit

CORNIK PINOY

CORNIK PINOY

dried dilis
dried dilis

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Many say that nowadays a forbidden love affair is already an ordinary affair, but sometimes the pains of the “forbidden” are not ordinary, they are almost unbearable.  Up to now, my friend is still grappling her way back to reality, and this is her story.

Eliza, Jason, and I were officemates since 1991. We were among the first employees of a big realty company which branched out to our area. Eliza and Jason belonged to the same department and being both site engineers, they were together most of the time doing field work. Eliza’s constant togetherness with Jason, a legally married guy with two kids, became the foundation of this forbidden love affair.


No one in the office had ever expected that Eliza would get into such a relationship. She’s a smart, very decent, well-mannered woman who came from a reputable family. Eliza once told me that she herself never imagined that she’d fall in love deeply with this married guy, so deep that her world revolved almost just around him.


It went on smoothly for more than a year, until she came to me one time, supposedly for cost accounting on some important materials.  But when she sensed that I was alone, she slumped on a chair and started to cry. “Jason is divorcing his wife”, she sobbed. “He filed it three days ago.” I didn’t know how to react because I thought what Jason did would have made her happy. I only got the message when she blurted out: “I’m a home-wrecker, a paramour, an adulterer! I’m so guilty!”


Eliza’s decent character was still running in her blood, it had never been lost after all.


Eliza suddenly disappeared. Jason couldn’t answer questions as to her whereabouts. After a week, the office received her mailed resignation letter. Four days later, she called me up, informing me that she’s going away for a while, to a place where she could “kill the feeling.”


Julia, Eliza’s elder sister came to my house about two months after the call. While reaching for a card inside her bag, she said: “The anti-depressants didn’t work. We had no other alternative. Please visit her if you have the time, I’m sure it would help.”


Eliza was staring blankly on the white wall, her hands clenching a pink rose on her chest when I visited her in the neuropsychiatric institute. “She is suppressing too many feelings inside her and she can’t take them out of her system. I could feel the weight; I know they are too heavy for her. She’ll stay here until she’d be able to learn how to let go. Please try to talk to her, she’s responsive sometimes”, said her doctor and left.


Tears rolled down from my eyes. Poor Eliza, she wanted to kill the feeling so abruptly. Maybe she was afraid that if she would not have done it sooner, chances were she’d never be able to do it anymore, and she’ll be carrying a more hurting guilt and a forbidden love which no one in this world could then ever kill.


Eliza is getting better everyday. She could now talk a little about Jason. She smiled when I gave her the draft of this story.

by bright_light

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicted a couple of years ago that by year 2025 more than 300 million people around the world will be afflicted with diabetes.  According to the Diabetes Atlas of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), “there are 246 million people worldwide who are currently suffering from diabetes and a person dies from diabetes-related causes every 10 seconds”.  These statistics are alarming and we should not take them for granted, especially if this disease runs in your family just like mine.

 

My father, two brothers, and a sister, are all diabetic, so is my 30-year-old nephew.  In the mid-80s, my cousin who was only 40 years old, died from it.  Diabetes awareness was not yet a primary program of our government, hence, except for those in the medical profession, only a few knew what a glucometer was.  I believe this medical instrument could have saved the life of my cousin.

 

My late cousin suddenly felt so weak at that time and on the verge of passing out.  His wife got nervous, took a tablespoon of table sugar and put it inside his mouth.  Seconds later, my cousin quivered.  He was already dead when they reached the hospital.

 

Now that we constantly use a glucometer, I am still mulling over the circumstances surrounding his death.  Was he suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) at that time? What if it was hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and still he was given a tablespoon of table sugar?

 

Well, nobody knows, and I don’t want to blame anybody for his death.  All I can say now is that, every household should have a glucometer especially if a member of the family is diabetic.  For us who are not afflicted with the disease, it pays to measure our glucose level once in a while.  Fasting blood sugar should not reach 100 mg/dL but should not be less than 70 mg/dL.  Post-meal blood sugar should not be more than 140 mg/dL.  Of course, don’t forget diet and exercise. 

 

 

a.k.a. bright_light

 

Who is an ordinary Filipino?  He is the one who is earning an average salary in the Philippines, a gross monthly income of not more than Php12,000.00 or US$ 300.00, and there are about 16 million of them who are in the low-income group but not yet in the poverty threshold.

An ordinary Filipino parent, though situated lowly in life, has also big dreams for his children, but sometimes dreams that remain as dreams forever.  Why do I say this?  An ordinary Filipino parent could be an ordinary employee in the government or in the private sector, and his eldest child is about to enter college, and will most probably take up Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Just like every parent, he desires to give his child a better life in the future, go to places someday where there he could find, as the adage says, “the greener pasture”.

So, the process of giving a good education for his child has begun, and there is no stopping him.  He pays his child’s tuition fee which is in the minimum of Php 15,000.00 or US$ 375.00 for a single five-month semester, spend Php 22,000.00 or US$ 550.00 for meals and travel expenses, and another Php 15,000.00 or US$ 375.00 for books and school projects for the duration of the entire semester.  All in all, the ordinary parent’s school expenses for one child who is in college is more or less Php 54,000.00 or US$ 1,350.00 per semester vis-à-vis his five-month income before tax which is equivalent to Php 60,000.00 or US$1,500.00.  If my mathematics is correct, then the ordinary parent has Php 4,000.00 or US$ 100.00 remaining amount for the rest of the family’s expenses like food, water, clothes, rent, electricity, medicines, and other incidental expenses, but it should be remembered that this remaining amount covers a five-month period.  Computed in another way, he and the other members of his family must content themselves with less than Php 26.00 or US$ .65 a day!

Now, one may ask: “How does an ordinary Filipino, especially a parent, survive such scarcity in life, and at the same time live on with their dreams?”

As I’ve said, there’s no stopping the ordinary Filipino, and he will use all his wits to convince creditors to lend him money.  These are not bank creditors; they are what we call “loan sharks”.  They charge a very high interest rate (15%-30% per month).  In the Philippines, borrowing from regular banks and other financial institutions is so difficult for the ordinary Filipino because they need collaterals that the lowly borrower cannot put up; or they require so many documents needed for the long processing of the loan.  Thus, the ordinary Filipino would rather go to these “loan sharks” where the borrower could get the proceeds of his loan in a couple of hours without any collateral.  It seems easy but ultimately will cause too much pressure and stress to the borrower.  If the ordinary Filipino could not pay, say, his Php 20,000.00 (US$ 500.00) short-term loan, he goes to another “shark”, borrows a little bigger amount to pay the first “shark”, and then to a third, then to another and the cycle goes on.  If the parent is finished with all the “loan sharks” he knows, and his child is still in college, the latter will be forced to stop his schooling in order to look for a job, if ever he finds one.  Due to the inadequacy of jobs in the Philippines, especially if the applicant has not finished a college degree, it is very seldom that one would find a decent-paying job.

 

Our youth will then feel worthless and hopeless, and if they’re weak in spirit, they will find their own place in the world of illusions and delusions, where there is superficial brightness in their own world of darkness.

This is the plight of the ordinary Filipino and his children.  In the midst of shattered dreams, they keep on dreaming.

LIFE COULD HAVE BEEN EASIER

December 21, 2007

by bright_light

The poor in my country envy the healthcare programs of other nations in the world – they have tough and comprehensive policies against poverty.   Indigents could avail of free glucose strips if they are diabetics; free dialysis sessions if they are suffering from renal failure; free chemotherapy if they are cancer patients; and above all, free medicines.  Most of my poor countrymen could not even afford a two-day confinement in a well-equipped hospital. Government hospitals in the rural areas barely have even the cheapest medical equipments like a glucometer or a nebulizer.  Vast corruption in government has given no choice for the poor who are sick but to just lie down in bed and wait for death to come.          

Renal or kidney failure is one of the illnesses that has given much pain and suffering to my countrymen especially the poor.  I am a witness to their day-to-day difficulties.  My neighbor Lucille was an active girl who, upon finishing college, got immediately hired as a radio announcer in a popular radio station in our place.  She worked there for four years, but her adventurous spirit and big dreams made her decide to work in a hotel in another city, a more urbanized place than ours.  Two years later, when she was 26 years of age, her father died in an accident.  With two siblings who were in their high school years and an unemployed mother to support, Lucille worked sixteen hours a day to meet the needs of her family.  She endured the life of a single bread-winner for more than two and a half years, until she observed that she urinated less than normal, got tired easily, and her stomach started to bloat.  Then came the day only a drop of urine got out of her system for a period of 24 hours.   She withdrew her little savings and decided to undergo a medical examination.  She was devastated when her doctor told her that she has a blocked renal artery, and that surgery could no longer be an option.  Dialysis was then the only way to cleanse her blood of toxins.  She was forced to quit her jobs later on due to chronic fatigue, and then her whole life depended on the dialysis machine.  She must undergo dialysis twice a week costing her P6,000.00 or US$134.00 per week, if not, it will cost her life.          

These days, while our top government officials are throwing out millions of money to bribe our lawmakers, busy using the people’s hard earned taxes for anomalous transactions, and all sorts of corruption, Lucille and her mom are knocking on the doors of friends and neighbors for cash donations in order for Lucille to meet her medical needs.  Barely do they eat three square meals a day.  Lucille is now tired and hopeless that she is now asking her mom to stop her dialysis sessions because she sees the desperation in her mother’s face.  But mom Marilyn has a determined spirit, she won’t do that, she will do everything just to save her daughter, especially that Lucille is now very pale and her fingernails are turning dark.  Aside from accepting laundry work, knocking on doors is already a part of mom Marilyn’s daily tasks.  What a tortuous life!          

I love my country and I’m so proud of it.  It’s so beautiful that some parts of it are described by tourists as hidden paradise, whether it be above or beneath the oceans.  I guess you already know this country, and I’m very much angered by people in our government who are making it ugly in the eyes of the whole world.  Had our government been not like this, life for Lucille and the other “Lucilles” in my country could have been a lot easier.  My countrymen deserve to live and not just simply to survive.