Archive of ‘Culture’ category

Great Finds At L’Indochine

Last Saturday, my daughter and I spent some QT strolling along BGC. Since we’re from the South, we seldom go to this place so we really make the most of our day when we’re here. Of course trip to BGC will never be completely without checking some of our favorite shops in SM Aura. One of the novelty stores I’ve been meaning to go to here is L’Indochine since I’ve read and heard so much about this place. And what can I say, it’s definitely a shopper’s paradise if you happen to love art, fashion, and culture since the store is a beautiful fusion of the three.

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L’ Indochine sells unique, handmade and handcrafted items from Indo China. The store owners travel around the Indo China region and other places to seek inspiration. They personally handpick the items that they would like to sell in their store and get them from the artisans themselves so you can say that, every piece really has its own story to tell.

Here are some of my top picks. These are perfect christmas gifts to friends and relatives who are into handmade and handcrafted items. They are unique, affordable, and made of excellent quality.

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My daughter absolutely love the place too. She found a lot of artsy and crafty things she liked from the store.

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Do check out L’Indochine when you happen to be in SM Aura, they have great finds that you will surely love.

Chiz Escudero: Will You Vote For Him Again?

I don’t know about you but I am starting to note down the senators who are deserving of my vote come election next year.  I vow to myself  after some senators proved to be such a disappointment that I will be a wise voter next time around.  As most of the candidates seem to be making their presence known again in different media after successfully managing to fade in the background after the 2007 election, I thought it wise to share some of my thoughts here.

An online article written by Janette Toral on top senatorial bet Chiz Escudero caught my attention. It referred back to an earlier post she wrote about him in 2007 where Chiz Escudero laid his cards on the table. He spoke of his plans of working on a legislation that would “guarantee accessibility of education to all Filipinos up to college and not only up to high school.”  He also mentioned of creating programs for the “protection and security of our nationals working abroad, fair terms of employment and forward looking policies to predict labor demands from abroad” among other things. Five years later, I dare ask,”What happened to all these plans?”

I tried to search in the net for some information about legislations or bills that he authored, co-authored, presented or seen to the very end in relation to his supposed political plans and programs, but sad to say I didn’t find any that can be attributed to him as the father or primary proponent. Although Lexi Fenando in her article, Senator Chiz Escudero for 2013?, did mention that she found  a number of bills and resolutions he sponsored, co-sponsored, co-authored, these are not easily available in the internet for reference too.  There was  a law that he voted to be approved, the Cybercrime Law, which he later admitted was a mistake and oversight on his part since he missed reading the part about libel.  This has attracted much criticism on his part as being a senator, people expected him to thoroughly review documents with razor sharp eyes before approving it.  It didn’t help also that in one interview he disclosed that, “Nakalusot sa amin yun, nung pumirma naman kami nun wala pa yun.  Inamin namin yun agad kaya nga amendatory bill ang agad naming ifile,” (see complete story here).I can’t help but wonder again, Ano pa kaya nakalusot sa kanila? and Ano na kaya nangyari sa ammendatory bill?

Sad to say, among the top results of my searches on Chiz was that of his current relationship with showbiz princess, Heart Evangelista and his annulment to his then wife, Chistine Robles Flores.  And then there are those articles that called him a fake and a traitor too.  Since I am not privy to his personal affairs, I will take his word that he found true love with Heart at face value and believe that it is real and not politically motivated like how some believe. They seemed genuinely in-love and I know for a fact that love is not easy to fake.

I understand why he is the top choice as senator, he’s articulate, he has proven to be an engaging conversationalist, he can keep up and exchange quick fire ideas in a snap of a finger and he’s pleasant looking. The youths love him because he can relate with them like no one else can never mind if he was vocal in his support for the abolition of Sangguniang Kabataan before . He was able to successfully established himself in the online community as well in the boob tube by aggressively using these two media as tools to reach the “generation connect” which  admittedly will be the driving force this coming election. What seems to be lacking though  is an effective machinery, may it be in print or online, where people can easily refer to to know how far he has accomplished his supposed plans and programs  (more than his rising popularity in TV hosting and guesting). As of the moment, there seems to be none of that, his official pages sad to say are not up to date.

As a mom, working professional, and citizen hungry for leaders with thick professional portfolios and impeccable track records, it makes me wonder yet again if Chiz Escudero truly deserves my second vote? As it is I only have his TV appearances,  guestings, and interviews as basis for now.  What do you think, I will be happy to read your thoughts here.

 

 

 

The Villar Foundation: 20 Years of Transforming The Community Through Its Various Green Social Enterprises

Yesterday, I had the chance to revisit my old hometown, Las Pinas. I now live in Molino, Bacoor Cavite, literally a stone’s throw away or should I say a river’s throw away from neighboring Las Pinas but it has been years since I last explored the place and took notice of the many changes that happened here.

I grew up in Baranggay Manuyo, the first district of Las Pinas that would welcome you if you are coming from Paranaque. It is the home of the famous Bamboo Organ Church. I had a memorable childhood in Las Pinas.  My lolo used to take us to the “beach” near Villa Manila every morning when I was a child. This was actually a portion of Manila Bay before it was reclaimed and made into Coastal Road. I remember that we used to gather clams and swim there. I also have a good recollection of afternoons spent playing at our family’s Irasan (salt bed) which had been the primary source of living of my dad’s family. The river back then was healthy and teeming with aquatic life. My family even owned  a small fishpond too where fresh supply of sugpo and tilapia can be harvested.

Everything changed though when development came and they started reclaiming the “beach” to construct  Coastal Road. Flooding grew worst in Manuyo. Businesses started cropping up everywhere and people started setting up homes there as well. Uncontrolled dumping of garbage in the river eventually caused it to die and down came with it our Irasan and our fishpond.  As much as we hate leaving the place that we love so much, we knew that moving to a less crowded place like Molino was inevitable. Summer of 1995, after graduating high school from St. Joseph’s Academy, we made the move to Cavite but I guess you could say that I left my heart in Las Pinas. Six years after we left the place, I came back to march and meet my groom at the altar  of St. Joseph’s Church while the sweet melody of the Bamboo Organ was playing in the background.  Yes, I got married in the church where I was baptized and confirmed. In my hometown that I love so much.

But then life happened. Though I can say that I never totally forgot about Las Pinas, it was easy to take for granted this place especially when you need not pass the route leading to Old Town Las Pinas where I grew up and just conveniently head straight to Coastal Road to go to Manila or to Daang Hari and SLEX to go to Makati.  I was aware of the developments and changes happening in the city but I wasn’t too keen on learning more about it until the other day.

In line with The Villar Foundation’s 20th Anniversary, I was invited by the group of Mrs. Cynthia Villar  to visit the sites of the different Green Social Enterprises of the foundation as well as learn more about the different Solid Waste Management Practices that the city has been conducting.  The Villar Foundation’s Social Enterprises aimed to: (a) reduce proverty, (b) manage the city’s garbage problem, and (c) preserve and conserve the community’s natural resources.

It all started with Mrs. Cynthia Villar’s fond recollection of a clean and healthy river from her childhood too. When she won the 2001 election as the lone congressional representative of Las Pinas, she vowed to clean up the Las Pinas-Zapote  River.  Amidst negative predictions and speculations that the project won’t see its completion, she bravely took the plunged and launched the Sagip Ilog Program under The Villar Foundation. Supported by a team of engineering experts headed by Engr. Dexter Gonzales and strong financial backing from Senator Manny Villar, Sagip Ilog was set into action. Mrs. Cythia Villar recalled that, “Nung umpisa kinausap ko ang mga tao ko, sabi ko kaya ba natin to, ayaw ko naman na sa bandang huli magiging ningas-cogon lang kami. Kaya tinutukan ko talaga ito hanggang matapos. Iba  iba ang standard ng tao e kung minsan yung sinasabi nilang okay na, ayos na, sa akin hindi pa kaya ako mismo binantayan ko ito.”

10 years after, the historical Las Pinas-Zapote River whom others considered dead and beyond hope, lives again. Through the concerted efforts of concerned residents and through viable engineering solutions, the clean up was completed. Up until now the residents continue to live up to the challenge of  preserving  and conserving the river long after after the clean up ended for they have successfully shed the uncaring attitude and have taken it upon themselves to look after this community resource.

Dam in Las Pinas Zapote River constructed by St.Ezekiel Moreno, former parish pries of Las Pinas

Just like how the river served as the backbone of early communities before, the birth of The Villar Foundation’s Green Social Enterprises and Solid Waste Management can also be traced back to their efforts to revive and sustain the Las Pinas-Zapote River while at the same time providing livelihood assistance to the marginally poor sectors in their district.

The Coconut Coir and Peat Enterprise

Engr. Dexter Gonzales shared that, “Nung nililinis namin yung ilog natuklasan namin na isa sa  duming naipon sa baba ng ilog  ay ito mga coconut husks na ito.” Coconut fruit has been popular among city dwellers and these accounts for the pile of coconut husks that inevitably found its way to the river bed and later became garbage that clogged the river.

Engr. Dexter Gonzales, Project Coordinator of The Villar Foundation

 
At around that time also, soil erosion along the river banks has alarmed The Villar Foundation. Mrs. Cynthia Villar fortunately learned about former dean of Bicol University, Dr. Justino Arboleda’s work on coco nets, a low cost biodegradable netting material that arrest soil erosion. After seeking him out and getting his commitment to share his knowledge, The Villar Foundation set the motion for the establishment of The Las Pinas Coco Coir Enterprise. Instead of utilizing it only as a means to deload the river from coco nut husks garbage and to build coco nets that would address the problem of soil erosion in the river, they decided to make it  a livelihood project as well.  They made it a venue where underpriviledged families in the community can have the opportunity to earn money.

The Villar Foundation trained families in the branggay with the skills necessary to twine and weave coco nets. To date, there is one Coconet Weaving Center in each of Las Pinas’ 20 baranggays where housewives and their family members can go to and weave nets. The Coconet Weaving Centers are strategically placed in the heart of each baranggay so mothers who want to work can simply walk going there anytime it is convenient for them. A family can earn a minimum of 3, 300 pesos per week by twining and weaving coconets alone. When we were there, several mothers with their children in tow were working. I asked one mother how she felt about working there and she shared that, “Gusto ko po dito kasi malapit at tsaka di ko na poproblemahin yung magaaalaga sa anak ko kasi open naman sila dito sa mga bata, puede din sila tumulong dito.” The coco nets are preventive measures against soil erosion. They are used to hold the soil down. Plants are  grown on the eyelet spaces to establish a root system that would hold the soil further.

Coconut Husk Decorticating Machine

a mother preparing coconut fiber for twining

twining coconut fiber

weaving twines in the coco fiber loom

The Villar Foundation’s Coconut Coir and Peat Enterprise has successfully woven the perfect economic and ecological solution that would provide livelihood opportunities to housewives and their families. At the same time, it presents the perfect rehabilitation solution that would sustain the river in the years to come.

The Water Hyacinth Fiber Enterprise

One of the problems that the group encountered while cleaning up the river was the presence of water hyacinths there.  These have impeded the clean up efforts as they have prevented barges from moving and collecting trash easily. Though a beautiful sight, these water hyacinths, which are commonly known as water lilies, have long been considered a pest. Since they are virtually indestructible, they trapped garbage and clogged the river. They also served as breeding places for the dreaded dengue mosquitoes.

The idea of using water hyacinths to make baskets and other things came from Mrs. Ophelia So, an exporter of hand woven baskets. When Mrs. Cynthia Villar learned that there is a market for hand woven baskets made of water hyacinth, she set out to form a skills training program  in weaving dried water hyacinth stalks for women who live near the center and didn’t have a steady source of income. Townfolks who concentrated their efforts in harvesting and drying the water hyacinths to supply the Las Pinas Basket Weaving Center were also paid for their efforts. To date the women and men who chose to stay in the program cite water hyacinth weaving as their families’ main source of income.

housewives weaving baskets

world class products

water hyacinth products

christmas tree made of dried water hyacinth stalks

 
Though there are no water hyacinth to harvest anymore since the river has long been cleared out of these pests, The Villar Foundation’s Water Hyacinth Weaving Enterprise still sourced out water hyacinths from the nearby Laguna Lake to sustain this thriving livelihood.  This has manged to turn  what once was considered an environmental pest into a medium where housewives’ excellent  artistry and craftsmanship and love for their community resources come together.

The Handloom Blanket Weaving Enterprise

To revive the dying Filipino tradition of weaving fabrics and to help out a group of women who were earnest in their desire to learn the handloom weaving skill in order to earn a living that would augment their families’ expenses, The Villar Foundation, put up the Handloom Blanket Weaving Enterprise. Currently the blankets are not for sale and are distributed  as part of relief operations for people rendered homeless by a typhoon. The money that is supposed to be used by the office of Senator Villar to purchase mats for relief operations is being used to buy the thread that will make these handloom blankets. The surplus income from the Coco Coir Enterprise is used to pay for the blankets made. Mrs. Roda Rodronio, project coordinator of the Handloom Blanket Weaving Enterprise shared that, “A weaver can make 3 handloom blankets a day and she is paid 165 pesos for every handloom blanket she makes.”

Through the Handloom Blanket Weaving Enterprises, The Villar Foudation has not only given these women a chance to earn money but the satisfaction in knowing that they can be productive members of the community as well. It has managed to uplift the quality of life of these women by arming them with the necessary skills needed to succeed in this enterprise. These women clearly are hanging on a thread where their futures seem to be pretty much laid down like a blanket of big possibilities. They have indeed proven that with their perseverance and diligence, they can  weave a bright future for their families.

 Solid Waste Management City Wide Practices

As part of their desire to come up with sustainable solution to the mounting garbage problem of Las Pinas, Mrs. Cynthia Villar through The Villar Foundation during her term as Congresswoman of Las Pinas, enjoined households to segregate their trash properly. Undaunted by the strong resistance from the people, she continued to mobilize this project with the help of priests, baranggay captains, and other concerned groups who set out to educate the residents of their moral and civic responsibilities to the environment.  House to house education campaigns by different association were done.  The plan was to turn the biodegradable into compost.

Bio-digesters were placed in each barangay. To provide livelihood assistance, each baranggay hired “bio-men” who will collect kitchen wastes from Monday to Saturday, starting at 7 o’clock in the morning. The wet garbage collected are then brought to the Bio-digester where they are processed and mixed with coco peat (coconut dust gathered from the coconut husk) and trichoderma enzymes to create organic fertilizers that condition the soil to become healthy. Part of the compost generated is used for the regreening and tree-planting programs in Las Pinas while the rest are bought by farmers from far provinces like Nueva Ecija to produce organic vegetables. The income derived from the sale of the composts are awarded to the barangay or subdivision housing association to support their environmental activities. Residual wastes such as those that cannot be recycled, reused or composted are manufactured and turned into construction materials like hollow blocks and pavers that the city government itself uses to beautify the whole of Las Pinas.

composting machines

the by products

composting process

Vermi Composting

tiles made from shreded plastics

hollow blocks from residual wastes

Pamplona 1 Baranggay Capt. Roberto Rodronio

 
As what Barangay Captain Robert Villalon said, “Dito sa Las Pinas we use ecologically sound practices to manage our garbage.  All our projects are designed to protect the environment.” From the looks of it, the residents of Las Pinas through the efforts of The Villar Foundation have indeed mastered the art of segregating sound environmental practices from those that are not thereby making Las Pinas not only a clean and green city but an Environmentally Friendly one at that too.

The Villar Foundation has indeed come a long way since its establishment in 1992 but for Mrs. Cynthia Villar, the work is far from over, she still has big dreams for Las Pinas and the Zapote River, “Pangarap ko magkaron ng sort of like River Cruise ang Zapote River. We plan make it a top tourist attraction. We will create a road along the river and eventually restaurants para maging river park sya. This would also generate more income opportunities for people. Gusto ko magkaron ng mga cultural presentations din like the one in Loboc River but something different something unique, something that we would really call our own.” As for advice on how to make a project a success, she has this to say, “Kailangan pasensyosa ka. Projects take time to complete, hindi mo dapat madaliin. You should have a clear vision and a plan on how to go about it and kailangan ikaw mismo tumututok sa project mo.”

The Villar Foundation, now on its 20th year, has successfully managed to transform the community and the lives of its people by creating various interpendent social enterprises that are specifically designed to empower them to live a life of economic independence while striking a balance between successful urban development and strong ecological management. Through the sound leadership of its Managing Director, Cynthia Villar, it has indeed proven that sustainable living right in the middle of the city is possible and that sustainable development can be achieved through the concerted efforts of each individual.

Culion Island

During my recent trip to Palawan, we visited Culion Island, the former leprosarium of the American Commonwealth Government. It is found on the northernmost part of Palawan and is part of the Calamian Group of Islands together with the municipalities of Busuanga, Coron, and Linapacan.

One of the sites that caught my attention as our boat was drawing near the shore was the Purisima Concepcion de Nuestra Senora. It proudly stood perched atop a cliff and is set against the clear blue sky. Immaculate Conception Church as it is known today is one of the oldest buildings in the island. It was constructed in 1906 by a group of Augustinian priest. Now it is being run by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus.

It sits right across the Culion Sanitarium which once was a leprosy segregation camp.

Its watchtower and fort were constructed by the Augustinian Recollects as defense measure against the Moro Raiders which used to harass the whole island.

It has the most breathtaking view of the sea and of the shoreline of Culion.

Though we didn’t get to see much of the island, I noticed the presence of old traditional houses and buildings as well as the lack of modern facilities here. It gave me the impression that life here still remains as simple as it is. As our boat was pulling away from the shore, we were treated to the most beautiful sunset.

Clearly, its sheer natural beauty as well as its rich history are what gives Culion Island its old world charm.

Culion Island can be reached by an outrigger. It is an hour and a half travel by sea from the town of Coron.

Gewang Gewang

We spent Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday at my mom’s hometown in Pila-Pila, Binangonan, Rizal. This is one of the many towns of Rizal that hasn’t fully succumbed to urbanization yet. It isn’t that far from Manila, in fact we reached this place an hour after we left Cavite last Thursday since there’s hardly any traffic. As we were entering Pila-pila, I remembered the times when we would go here to visit my Lola. Pila-pila is at the foot of a mountain. When I was a kid, we used to travel here at dawn in our owner-type jeep. My sister and I used to marvel at how big and scary the mountain was with its big boulders and bamboos. My dad often regale us with stories about how they chased an aswang in that same mountain and how he saw a Kapre smoking a pipe on one of the big trees along the road. Of course all those stories were designed to tickle our imagination but I have to admit, we ate them up.:)

I was surprised to learn that Lenten traditions like pabasa, senakulo, penitensya and prusisyon are still practiced in this place. Whereas religious traditions have slowly faded into the distant memories of people in urban towns, they are still very much alive here. Last Friday night, we trooped to the Bayan to watch the prusisyon (procession) and witness the Gewang-Gewang. I heard so much about Gewang-Gewang from my mom. It is the highlight of their Good Friday procession. It is called Gewang Gewang because devotees of the Santo Sepulcro (Jesus Christ in his coffin) try to squeeze themselves closer to the Santo Sepulcro so they can help carry it. They believe that all their prayer intentions and petitions will be granted if they will be able to touch or carry the Santo Sepulcro. Because of the surge of devotees trying to get near the Santo Seplucro, it moves in a gewang-gewang (topsy-turvy) motion. It takes hours before the Santo Sepulcro enters the church again. There is a story going around that the Santo Seplucro will not leave a certain place if it stops in front of a house where the owner planted his anting-anting (amulet). It is believed that it is one way of testing if it is still working and unless the owner digs and removes it from the ground, the Santo Sepulcro and the procession will not proceed even if the carriers willed it to move forward. For some reasons, it will just move back and forth as if a magnet is forcing it to stay. The procession that night started at 6 am and the Santo Sepulcro was brought back to the church a little over 3 am because it kept on moving at such slow pace.

We had a good view from where we were. We saw how the devotees fought their way closer to the Santo Sepulcro. In the course of their struggle, they get hurt. One devotee shared that they don’t mind getting wounded and crushed since to them these are all part of their sacrifice. We saw how others stepped on other men’s arms, legs, shoulders and even faces in their desire to reach the Santo Sepulcro. Some men that night were seen being fished out and carried by others to safety. And most of them were gasping for breath as they try to push the Santo Sepulcro. One man even suffered heart attack that night. It was very much like the Feast of the Black Nazarene. My cousin who has been a devotee of the Santo Sepulcro since he was a teenager shared that all his prayer intentions are granted whenever he joins the “buhat” (carrying of the Santo Sepulcro). Most of the devotees I have spoken to share the same sentiments that is why it has become every man’s panata in this town to join the Gewang-Gewang every Good Friday. To others, it has even become their initiation to manhood.

After witnessing Gewang Gewang for myself, I can’t help but admire these people for they truly were never afraid to show just how far they can take their faith in God. I admire how they have kept this tradition very much alive until now. How through their deep faith in the divine, they have managed to preserved this part of our culture. I am glad that I brought my 10 year old daughter to witness this with me. In the event that this tradition die a natural death like the others, at least my daughter has it engraved in her memory.

Sulong Sining III: A Night of Classical and Jazz Music

I had the pleasure of being invited to a one of a kind concert featuring some of our very own award winning Filipino artists last night. At first, my husband and I were a bit apprehensive since this would be the first time that we would watch a concert featuring music of Puccini, Legrand, Mozart, and Bolling. But curiosity got the better of us so we went, anyway, the tickets were given to us for free.

We were late and missed the first performance but we arrived just in time to witness soprano Joy Abalon Tamayo sing, A Piece of Sky, with the master himself, Jovianney Emmanuela Tamayo, on the piano. We were bowled over by her voice and her rendition. Then came the chamber music performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Allegro, Andante and Rondo: Allegre. My husband and I were captivated as Jimmy Tagala (violin), David Tagala (viola,) Giancarlo Gonzales (cello), and Joshua Alexander Manalo (piano) brought to life this Mozart masterpiece. My husband beside me kept on saying over and over “galing”, he being a fan of rock and roll and reggae music, while I had a silly smile plastered on my face the whole time. When they came back after intermisson to do another set of chamber music, my husband and I were pretty much at the edge of our seats. This time, they did Claude Bolling’s Baroque in Rythm, Gallop, Romantique and Cello. We were literally swayed by the rhythm of jazz music as played by these young artists. Joy Abalon Tamayo’s rendition of Light of a Million Mornings, with Jiovanney Emmanuel Cruz, again on piano, was the perfect ending to an enchanting night of great music. I am so glad we came and witnessed these amazing Filipino artists. I now have deep appreciation for this type of music and deep respect to these young brood of musicians.

chamber music

Move over One Direction, this is my new boy band.:)

Bravo! Bravo!

the young brood of award winning Filipino artists

Sulong Sining III: Seekers of the Truth was presented by the Outlook Pointe Foundation. This foundation was formed in 2007 by a group of creative individuals whose vision is to rekindle the Filipinos’ consciousness through arts. Their aim is to bring about change through its various projects with various photographers and musicians. They hope to ignite inspiration among Filipinos to commit to the concerted efforts of reviving the goodness of the Filipinos soul. Through their projects, at the foremost of which is Sulong Sining (Forward Art), they hope to rekindle the passion for our nation through arts. True to its mission and vision, a portion of the collected proceeds from the concert will be used for the benefit of the Philippine School for the Arts, a secondary school for the artistically gifted and talented children and adolescent, in Los Banos, Laguna.

It was very timely that this concert was held on the day that we were commemorating the People Power Revolution. On the way home, I was telling my husband that it’s sad how the children of today cannot relate anymore to the People Power Revolution and how they treat it as just an event that we discuss in the classroom and read about in books. I guess in a way the story is somehow lost to our children’s consciousness but I believe that its message still remains. Change. Nation Building. Last night, I witnessed how the message of People Power Revolution lives on, through the arts and through these young bloods who have nothing but great desire to bring honor and glory to our country through their music and passion.

“The culture and arts of the country is the window to the soul of a people.” I heard it often said during the concert. Raul Guingona, who by the way was an excellent, excellent host, even quoted Carlos Cedran at one point and shared that, “When Intramuros was destroyed, our soul came down with it, and we never have recovered since.” But what does it mean really? I guess, unless we recognize the essential things inside us, Filipinos, like creativity, passion, excellence, and harmony, and bring these forward, we can never be really great as a nation. For greatness comes only when the soul is ready…

10 Christmas Food Treats

These are ten food treats that make the whole christmas experience complete. They definitely add lots and lots of cheer to the holidays.

1. PUTO BUNGBONG

Puto Bungbong is a Filipino delicacy made of sticky rice which is cooked in a chimney like steamers. The sight of them being sold in the streets marks the start of the christmas season. It is ever present during simbang gabi. And of course my favorite part of it is the panutsa (sugar cane sweets) on top, it definitely livens up the Puto Bungbong.

Puto Bungbong

2. BIBINGKA

I love how this rice cake is still being traditionally cooked in oven charcoals during christmas. Skip Bibingkinitan, there’s nothing like the smell of an authentic bibingka side by side with Puto Bungbong during simbang gabi.

Bibingka

3. KASTANAS (roasted chestnuts)

The sight of kastanas being cooked in big “talyasi” brings back childhood memories of cracking these roasted chestnuts with gusto using our bare teeth while watching The Little Match Girl on TV. Sad to say, there are only few kastanas vendors around who would indulge people in the streets with their show of muscles, as they try to mix these roasted kastanas with stones (hehe).

kastanas

4. LECHE FLAN

My lola used to make the creamiest leche flan, the one made from pure egg yolk. I managed to snag a leche flan recipe that is quite like it two years ago. My recipe is still a work in progress though but despite that it still manages to pass up as the perfect dinner dessert during the holidays.

Leche Flan

5. UBE HALAYA

My dad used to make one when he was a kid. Only a few who knows how to make the authentic ones remain. We usually buy the Good Shepherd version. They have, so far, the best tasting Ube around plus when you buy from them you get to help send some kids to college.

Good Shepherd Ube

6. BUKO SALAD

Probably the most popular salad dessert here in the Philippines. Del Monte Fruit Cocktail and Nestle Cream are the first ones that usually ran out of stocks in supermarkets because most households make their own version of this during christmas. It never gets missed in Noche Buenas and Media Noche menus.

Buko Salad

7. BRAZO DE MERCEDES

When I was a kid our Papang and Mamang would bring us the most delicious Brazo de Mercedes. It was only recently that I was able to find a Brazo de Mercedes closest to the one from my childhood. Supreme Brazo Bars by Ces Lopez.

Brazo Bars

8. PASTILLAS

This is the only time in the year where I allow myself to feast on all the sweets that I like (I will worry about them later). I found the perfect pastillas from San Miguel, Bulacan. They are being sold under the name, Cristy’s Special Pastillas. They are made from real carabao’s milk and they are the best I tell you. This has been our family giveaway this christmas.

Cristy's Special Pastillas (for orders call 09228368860 or 0447641870

9. HOT CHOCOLATE

There’s nothing like sipping hot cocoa during a cold christmas night. We used to drink Hershey’s cocoa and Nesquick when I was a child. It was only during christmas that we get to buy these as they were really expensive at that time. When my daughter was old enough to sip cocoa, in keeping up with the tradition, we would buy her Swissmiss with Marshmallow. This holiday, it will be Bellagio sipping chocolate from Healthy Options for us.

Bellagio Sipping Chocolate

10. PUREFOODS FIESTA HAM

It is only during the christmas season that this kind of ham makes its presence known. It used to be the authentic Chinese ham leg from Quiapo for us, but when we discovered how yummy Purefoods Fiesta ham can be, the salty Chinese ham leg was dethroned from its rightful place in our Noche Buena and Media Noche table and Purefood Fiesta Ham took over.

Purefoods Fiesta Ham

I am sure that aside from the ones that I mentioned, there are still a lot of other good food going around this season. Let us all indulge in the yummy feasts that christmas brings for this is the only time where we can guiltlessly do that (hehe). We have the perfect excuse–christmas only happens once a year.:)