Archive for Photos

Nutella Champorado

Champorado is a Filipino porridge flavored with tablea, a cocoa tablet used for cooking or making hot chocolate drinks. It is best paired with something salty such as tuyo or tinapa. Last night I made my pairing a little more unique with Nutella! The result was an even yummier champorado with hazelnutty flavor. The dried fishes were fried to a crisp and were eaten with every spoonful of the champorado. These imported dried fishes are called 'pinka' and 'danggit' in the Philippine north. Milk is optional. I prefer mine dark and less sweet.


Pinakbet Guisado

Pakbet or pinakbet guisado is a popular and modified version of the authentic pinakbet. Although the ingredients are the same, the manner of cooking is guisado. Instead of strategical boiling of the vegetables, this version is sauteed in pork fat (generated from cooking the other main ingredient, pork belly) and added with a generous serving of Ilocos bagnet or 'Chicharon Camiling'. Ingredients Eggplant, 2 lbs Bittermelon, 2 lbs Sweet potato or yam, 2 lbs Tomato, 1 lb 1 small can of tomato sauce Bagoong monamon, 1/8 of a cup Okra, 1 lb 2 tablespoons of minced garlic Half cup of white onion Pork broth Sliced Pork belly, 2 lbs Scallion Preparation of the vegetable is as important as cooking it. The shape and size must be bigger than usual to not overcook. Timing, cookware, variety of vegetables used are the different factors to consider when cooking pinakbet. Vegetable Cutting Procedure 1) Peel the sweet potato. Cut into big chunks around 1" by 2". Do not cut too small because they easily crumble once cooked. Soak in water while preparing the rest of the vegetables. 2) Cut the bittermelon. Clean out the seeds. Cut into half-inch sticks. To those who prefer it less bitter, soak in brine water for 15 minutes or more. 3) Cut the eggplant. If it is the round variety just slice a little bit on top. If it is the asian long ones cut into 3 slices and slice the top part making sure the two halves are still jointed on the lower part. Just like the sweet potato also soak in water to prevent darkening of the cut vegetables. 4) Mince the tomatoes. Keep the juice and seeds. 5) The okra just needs to be washed and cleaned on top. Do not cut the head. The seeds will spill out once cooked if the top is cut. Pork Belly Preparation 1) Boil chopped scallions and pork together. Wait until pork is tender. Remove from broth then cut into bite-size pieces in such a way that fat, skin and meat are evenly distributed in each slice. 2) In a thick pan with splatter cover, pour little oil. Once ready, fry the pork. Turn over when necessary. Wait until both sides are brown. This can be dangerous as oil splatters can burn the skin. If available buy already cooked bagnet or crispy pata as an alternative. Set aside when done. Keep the oil for next step. Saute Procedure 1) Using the remaining pork fat, saute garlic and onions. Mix the tomato. Pour a cup or two of pork broth. Wait until the tomato is melted. 2) Throw in the sweet potato. 3) Once the potato has changed color, put the eggplant. 4) Put the bittermelon. Do not disturb and cover. 5) Once the other vegetables are 80 percent ready, put the bagoong, tomato sauce, pork belly and okra. 6) Simmer for another 5 minutes. There you go! Pakbet guisado is now ready! TIP: The pinakbet is best enjoyed the same day it is cooked. Not recommended for tomorrow's baon. 20130911-123654.jpg

Hiking at Breakneck Ridge

Last Saturday I spent the entire day hiking one of New York's best hiking trails, the Breakneck Ridge mountain. After a 5-hour long trek, my group went to nearby Little Stony Point where there is a hidden beach with fantastic views of the Hudson River and its surrounding mountains. I have been coming back to this trail for the past 3 years and I plan to return for as long as time and my physical condition will allow me.

This year I didn't go home unscathed. My legs have a lot of bruises and scratches. Yet despite my aches, my spirit is refreshed and I came home renewed.

My Breakneck Ridge annual hike is now my favorite metaphor for life. While scaling boulders with daunting cliffs behind me, I was reminded how gripping fear worsens an already difficult situation. Watching my friends ramble through gorges showed me how a right attitude / approach defeat all other obstacles and limitations. And as I look at a heavier friend successfully climb; I again saw how confidence can be the best tool in carrying one's entire weight in one haul. Until next time!

To those interested, you may email me at to join my u[coming 2013 Fall Hike.

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Do-It-Yourself Binubudan: When Craving Gets Tough, BREW!

One of my favorite Ilocano specialties is the binubudan or tapuy. Binubudan is a wine porridge that is a favorite northern Philippine delicacy usually eaten as a snack or breakfast item. It has a soupy rice consistency and with a sweet juice that tastes a lot like sake. The key ingredient is the 'budbud' or live yeast balls available in the Philippine north. Once I tried using the yeast balls available I found in oriental stores in New York, the finished product did not quite come close to the kind we eat back home. (Maybe in the microbiological level there are also ethnic differences) In my part of the US, the perfect timing is during summer, June to August, when the hot weather is most ideal for fermenting binubudan.

Preparing binududan is fairly easy. The hardest part is waiting 3-9 days before the delicacy can be enjoyed.


1) Sweet sticky rice (for stronger wine taste) or red rice (for sweeter binubudan) 2) Budbod, usually imported from the Philippines 3) PATIENCE! - Fermentation can take 3-9 days. WHAT TO EXPECT 3 days: it starts smelling like alcohol. 5 days: my favorite when I can taste the alcohol, but the rice remains sweet. 9 days: results to a very intoxicating binubudan and bittersweet taste. 10 days or more: Expect some kind of hard liquor. Rice will disappear.   PROCEDURE 1) Steam cook the rice. (Like you always do) Let it cool.

2) In a clean (must be very sterile) container, terracotta or steel, sprinkle the powdered budbod evenly on cooked rice. For one cup of rice, I usually use half of the budbod cake. I arrived at this preference by trial and error.

3) Cover the container with a clean cotton cloth. This allows the fermentation agents to breathe and do their work well.

4) Keep and place in a cool dry place away from sunlight and movement. Do not disturb until its ready.

5) Once the binubudan is ready it will smell sweet and with soup that tastes a lot like alcohol. No need to add anything. I like serving it cold though so I put it in the fridge to cool before enjoying.

Like any alcoholic beverage and food, it can be intoxicating so eat moderately.


Yeast cakes imported from the Philippines


I prefer using the red rice variety. The red wine once fermented is sweeter compared to the usual white sticky rice.

Stumbling on JOSE GARCIA VILLA in Greenwich Village

Yesterday, in one of my quests to illuminate a Fil-American about her very rich heritage, my focus was showing her the poems of the Filipino writer/poet and National Artist for Literature Jose Garcia Villa who once roamed Greenwich Village, NY. In my online search, I accidentally found out that when he died in 1997 he was interred at Our Lady of Pompei Church, now my chosen parish Church in NYC. Trivial as it may be to some, I find it absolutely stunning! One of my greatest literary-historical moments ever! I wish I could retrace his steps in Greenwich Village and actually create a JG Villa Tour for Pinoys and literary lovers! Dreams!

Here is the link:

Also a literature guzzler, Atty. Mitzi Arao checks out JG Villa's death registry at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village. Mitzi, also an Ilocano, is Ilocano York's classmate in numerous comparative literature courses at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Also a literature guzzler, Atty. Mitzi Arao checks out JG Villa's death registry at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village. Mitzi, also an Ilocano, is Ilocano York's classmate in numerous comparative literature courses at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Anyone who knows Prof. Luis Francia's contact information?

Meeting the Iron Chef

Meeting Chef Morimoto today was serendipitous. I was just coming out of the high tech Japanese bathroom of a high-end restaurant named after him when a handsome guy from the bar called our attention and asked casually if we were visiting. Smiling my very best and fully refreshed from using the Japanese toilet (that has the option to wash the front and rear after each use), I went straight to the bar ready for a quick 'pretend- tourist' chat. But before I can even answer his follow-up question was, "Would you like to meet The Chef?" As he said the line his arm was directed to a man gloriously clad in all white from shades to sandals. He looked Japanese but I didn't recognize him yet. When he finally spoke he said, "Are you from Manila?". I said, "No, I live here, but I used to be." Kamy, the teenager with me butted in, in an obviously star-trucked manner, "Are you really The Chef?" The man humbly said yes and we all shook his hand trying so hard to conceal our excitement. We chatted more, then he offered us his new line of sake. The bartender even joked about checking our birth dates to verify if we were all over 21. Even if I really didn't want to drink, I couldn't say no to Morimoto. I took the big shot glass, slowly sipped its contents then gave the other guy the camera to take a picture of us and SNAP! Here's the picture with the Iron Chef.

Kamy Reyes, Debbie Quintos and Maricar Tangonan cozy up with Masaharu Morimoto aka 'The Iron Chef' at his restaurant in Chelsea Market

The sake was bittersweet and smooth, the type that didn't ferment too long. I mentioned that I also ferment my own rice wine. He smiled and looked surprised. By then I guessed that they were probably conducting an impromptu survey to see how consumers, particularly women, will warm up to Morimoto's new line of sake that his company plans to roll out to liquor stores soon. Then one of the guys told us that Morimoto will soon get ready for the taping of the newest season of the Iron Chef. (I should have asked to be part of the studio audience. Darn!) That was our cue so we said our goodbye, wished him well and left the man and his sake sitting quietly at his very own immaculately white bar.

The Iron Chef show is filmed at the Food Network studio located at the 2nd floor of Chelsea Market in New York's Meatpacking District.

Empty Bowl

I started my early evening calling friends to check if they can have dinner with me somewhere in Manhattan. No one was available so I went home and ended up spending time with a surprisingly enjoyable company ... myself. The dinner was a bowl of homemade sinigang na baboy.


MLB All Star Parade

June 16, 2013. New York City hosts the Major League Baseball's All Star game. Part of the pre-game activities is a parade in Midtown Manhattan. During the parade near my workplace I saw these baseball stars but unfortunately, I do not know them except for Matt Harvey. Now let's see if you recognize the players and their respective teams in the picture. This one is Jose Fernandez. 20130717-004554.jpg 20130717-004708.jpg 20130717-004719.jpg 20130717-004729.jpg 20130717-004736.jpg 20130717-004744.jpg 20130717-004751.jpg 20130717-004805.jpg Matt Harvey!20130717-004819.jpg and Matt Harvey again!20130717-004826.jpg

Penaverde Debut Exhibit in NYC

Manila artist Rem Penaverde, younger sister to New York- based Filipino tenor Rogelio Penaverde, holds her first art exhibit and auction in NYC. All artwork were sold out and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the activities and projects of San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir.






My Little Blue Bird

hi, handsome bird.

your eye is filled with meaning that I cannot yet understand. your feathers of blue make me want to look at the sky and the sea more than i should have been through these years.

i very much admire how you proudly stand guard by your nest that you built prodigiously and patiently. i wish i can do the same for my future home ...

i wish i can tell you how you make me smile every day i look at you ...

and i wish you know how you remind me of how beautiful that mind is of whoever created you.

A picture of a blue bird borrowed online. The source had been lost, but this site id thankful for the one who took the picture of this wonderful creature.

A picture of a blue bird borrowed online. The source is lost, but this blog site is thankful for the one who took the picture of this wonderful creature.