Tag Archives: Filipino

Typhoon Tales

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery so with this thought firmly in mind I proudly present my typhoon tale dedicated to Crumple, whose style I have unashamedly copied.

Of course I realize I will not even come close to the master who has the unerring ability to draw random thoughts from points A to Z and somehow make a connection however I will give it a shot and in so doing hopefully describe in an entertaining way what we all went through with the arrival of super typhoon Megi.

Megi what kind of a name is Megi? Have you ever wondered why they always name Typhoons after women? Yes, Yes I know the old joke about them being wet when they come and after they’ve gone leaving a trail of devastation. But seriously now, why do they always seem to give typhoons female names?

For this typhoon we had plenty of warning. Thanks to the modern wonder of the Internet and that godsend named Google many among us have become instant meteorologists and long before these storms hit we are warned with imposing looking maps boasting a swirl of color reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting.



I am fixated on those red swirls Jackson Pollock had nothing on the typhoon weather map.


Anyone who has lived here for five or more years or even visited just once during the rainy season is well aware of the havoc and devastation these storms create. And us foreigners are not alone, the Filipinos are all too familiar with the fury of Pacific Ocean typhoons and consequently Northern Luzon was declared a national calamity area before the storm even hit.

Talk about weather prediction but the scary thing is, they were right. The great mass of low pressure, blasting wind and torrential rain slowly built up over Guam and then traveled its torturously slow path towards Philippines all the time building in intensity until it made landfall as a category 5 Super Typhoon.

Which brings me to my second why question for the day. Even though we are prepared for the typhoons, we are aware of their approach and they come every bloody year, why then do they cause so much damage and take so many lives? Is the infrastructure that haphazard? Are the typhoons so strong that no matter what the Filipinos do they are going to succumb to the ravages of mother nature or is it because the Filipinos have destroyed so much of the natural vegetation they have cleared a perfect path for the annual mud slides?



200 Miles per hour battered Illocos province causing massive damage and loss of life.




Fields Avenue is always prone to flooding every time a major storm hits Angeles.


Then again maybe its just good old human nature. Could it be human nature to become attached to ones home and not want to abandon it or perhaps it is human nature to just stick it out no matter what the world throws at ya.



Roof what roof?


Here’s a horrible thought, perhaps it’s as I always say, ‘it’s all about the money’. Let’s face it these people who each year are battered by the storms live a precarious existence and are lucky to have two pesos to rub together as a result they can hardly be expected to build a weather proof home let alone vacate their little shanty once the typhoon hits in earnest.

But wait a minute didn’t the President just secure hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid money? Will the Philippine Government actually divert some of that money to build decent infrastructure thus avoiding more devastation and loss of life in the future? Will the Aid money actually be used to aid those who need it? Will the troops be sent to rescue some people who genuinely need rescuing or will they stick to the easy pickings of poor exploited Angeles city bar girls? Please note Jung they weren’t why questions that were will questions.

We are all familiar with the theory of global warming and if changing weather patterns are indicative of this phenomenon then the Pacific Ocean typhoons are proof that global warming really is happening. When I first came to the Philippines 19 years ago I noticed it started drizzling in late June early July and carried on well into late September and many of the major storms were down south in the Visayas or Mindanao however in the last seven years I have noticed a distinct change where the major storms seem to skirt the southern regions and instead batter Northern Luzon plus they are each year coming later and later each year.

Those Moro Liberation guys down south must have come up with a way to control the weather and are now diverting the storms northwards to batter the predominantly Catholic Luzon. And all this time we thought they were just your average run of the mil Moslem extremists.

When it comes to typhoons preparation is everything. I know this and yet every time a typhoon hits I am unprepared. There is never enough food or water in my fridge, my front yard which I have been persevering with for six years still takes on the appearance of a swimming pool at the slightest drop of rain and my Guava tree still blows in the wind threatening to tear down the power lines. I console myself with the fact that with the typhoon comes a ‘brown out’ and if I had any food in the fridge it would go bad anyway. As for my front yard, well it becomes a cool playground for my dogs and the Guava tree provides welcome shade from the sun so it can blow against the bloody power lines all it bloody wants. Having said this I must admit, 24 hours prior to the typhoon hitting I got SWMBO’s father to chop off a few of the more prominent branches as this way I don’t have to put up with a distraught landlady who is convinced my Guava tree is possessed by some evil fruit demon hell bent on taking down the neighborhood power lines.



My front yard which becomes a swimming pool with even a hint of rain






My Guava tree which my landlady is 100% sure is possessed by a demonic fruit demon hell bent on bringing down power lines every time there is a storm in Angeles.

I am never one to be prepared, (perhaps that’s why I was thrown out of boy scouts), but when it comes to ‘brown outs’ I have learnt the hard way and have now invested in a number of small battery powered fans. These fans will not cool you down significantly but they will blow enough breeze to keep you from turning into a puddle of sweat. Trust me there is nothing more annoying than having nothing to do but lye in bed swimming in a pool of your own greasy sweat.

There are many problems associated with typhoons and one of them will always be the dreaded ‘brown out’. In the Philippines if it rains there will be a ‘brown out’, if there is too much sunshine there will be a ‘brown out’ and if there is a typhoon you can bet your bottom dollar there will always be a ‘brown out’. In fact I am anticipating another brown out any minute now simply because I am writing about them. Of course there is never any reason given for the ‘brown outs’ and when they happen one is brutally reminded just how dependant on electricity we really are. The brown outs force locals to adapt and live their lives around intermittent sparks of electricity.

When the typhoon hit’s the brown outs go into overtime and we lucky expatriates get to experience that uniquely Filipino phenomenon, the “rolling brown out”. More often than not the rolling brown outs are only short lived being a duration of two or three hours then an hour of power then 2 more hours of brown out etc. The rolling brown outs are annoying but in a way easier to handle than what I have termed the Super Brown Outs. I figure if you can have Super Typhoons then you can have Super Brown Out’s simply because the two so often occur together.

As I have said previously typhoon Megi was well broadcast and I knew only to well there would be prolonged brown outs coming but nothing could have prepared me for what eventually happened. The typhoon had been forecast to make landfall Monday morning and as we all braced ourselves a number of us were lulled into a false sense of security by the slight breeze blowing and occasional raindrops falling from the sky.

On the news and by text messaging we heard tales of woe from up North but so far Angeles had remained virtually untouched. I thought about this and images of the bright red swirls virtually missing Angeles on the weather maps suddenly sprang to mind. These were accompanied by the prophetic words from the likes of Thotoy and Shagger both of whom claimed “Angeles never really cops the brunt of these storms” and “Angeles is protected because it has mountains on both sides”. I looked outside at the calm surroundings and thought to myself who am I to argue with the venerable weather sages Thotoy and Shagger, looks like they were right Angeles would once again escape.

By 9PM just as I was stumbling into the shower the first brown out hit. Now when the power is cut off there is no water so one minute I am standing under a shower letting the water cascade into my sleep laden eyes and the next minute I am standing underneath a dry shower head looking like a complete idiot. I hear the pitter patter of little feet and then through the door carrying a candle comes my eldest daughter who looks at me and promptly asks why are you standing under the shower with no water dad?

By candle light I manage to dry off , get changed, don my raincoat, straddle the bike and amidst cries of “goodbye daddy” and “see you later mahal” I bravely head off into the ominous looking clouds and blanketing rain that once was Fields Avenue.

Tonight was DocJaidee’s last night and the lanky mongerer had made it abundantly clear that he expected a good time and wasn’t about to let a mere super typhoon dampen his spirits. We partied in Golden Nile until about 3AM and during that time there was continual brown outs in fact so many we couldn’t tell when we were on normal power and when we were on generator. At times I would look out on the street from my lofty perch only to see the lights on Clark fully illuminated but the lights on Fields all non existent.



While the storm raged outside the lanky DocJaidee was uncommonly subdued on his last night in town.


Which brings me to my third ‘why question’. Why is it a system installed by the joint efforts of Americans and Filipinos some 30 years ago, works better than any modern day equivalent installed solely by Filipinos? Watching the inner sanctum of Clark function smoothly no matter what the elements throw at it compared to the normal world of the Philippines as represented by Fields Ave and Perimeter Road one is forced to have some serious doubts as to the future of this country.

The night progressed smoothly until a bunch of AE members came in including Nitty, BamBam, Drummer, Jung and others. They all sat at the big tables and proudly announced “well there’s no power and we cant go home so we thought we would drop by and say hello. We knew you had a generator and we knew you would still be here so come on it’s your round”.

Now noticeably most of this group had a girl with them so I knew if there was any money to be made it would be from the drinks but at this time of night in these conditions I reasoned it was hardly worth it so when the mamasan asked, “can we close early because the generator run out of gasoline”. Even I know generators run on diesel but who was I to pick straws so I took this as my cue and closed shop.

Once SWMBO and I got outside I saw that it wasn’t to bad in fact there was hardly any wind at all and the rain wasn’t exactly heavy either. We straddled the bike then just as we were nearing Bunny Burger SWMBO whispers in my ear that she is hungry. Now I don’t know how many readers have experienced the wrath of a hungry Filipina but let me tell you its not a pretty sight and behind that soft diminutive whisper is a world of demand unparalleled by western women.

Knowing full well the consequences of taking an angry unfed Filipina home I deferred to my cowardice and promptly made a sharp left turn bringing us to a stop outside the ever beckoning Bunny Burger.

In the Philippines there are numerous restaurants that claim to be open 24/7 but in reality few of them are. Bunny Burger however is the exception. When we got to Bunny Burger I noticed there were several customers inside even though it was 4AM and the conditions outside were rapidly deteriorating. I asked the girl at the counter where is the delivery bike expecting her to tell me sir we cannot make delivery on night like this but instead she smiled and simply replied “the boy deliver order Sir Martin”. Hearing this I thought to myself it’s hats off to Bunny Burger. When it comes to food delivery this joint is to fast food what Wells Fargo was to mail delivery 200 years ago “we deliver come rain hail or shine”.



Baby back ribs always popular with Filipinas typhoon or no typhoon.


Having had my assumptions shattered and being put firmly in my place I realized not all Filipinos are lazy, disorganized and corrupt. In fact sometimes under adverse conditions the Filipino male will excel and their tenacity and willingness to work are clearly demonstrated.

With take out firmly tucked under her arm SWMBO ordered a trike whilst I braved the elements on my motor bike. Once home there of course was no power so our Bunny Burger was consumed by candle light which kind of made for a romantic setting and no sooner was it finished than I found myself on top of SWMBO doing what a man and a woman naturally should.

By the time we had finished copulating with the sound of wind howling through the Guava tree and the rain pouring down outside it was 6AM and I fell into a fretful snooze with visions of flood water flowing through my living room.

Now in a typhoon with no power I will normally sleep with the windows open so as to capture some sort of breeze and keep things a little bit cooler. My windows are covered with wire mesh thus preventing dengue carrying mosquitoes from devouring me and it is actually quite a pleasant experience. That is until you are rudely shaken out of your slumber by the sound of the neighbors roosters crowing, (yes they even crow when half submerged in flood waters), or the sound of the taho vendor advertising his wares at full cry.





I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the Filipino food named Taho but basically it is bean curd topped with caramelized sugar and sago. This is normally considered a delicacy for breakfast but can also be enjoyed anytime of day and night.

With the inclement weather conditions I wasn’t expecting the Taho man to be doing his rounds so when I was jolted out of my sleep by his ringing voice I could hardly believe my ears. Normally I would have been pissed off being deprived of my precious sleep but for some reason this particular morning I found his familiar voice strangely comforting and I found myself grudgingly respecting this guy who no matter what the conditions lugged his heavy metal containers of bean curd and caramelized sugar around with him to make a grand total of approximately 400 hundred piso daily.



8 AM in the morning and this guy is out selling Taho no matter what the weather conditions.


The brown out had now been going for approximately 8 hours when all of a sudden in the midst of the storm the power came back on but only for a minute and then out again. Shit I thought to myself this power supply is like a prick teasing bitch, it gets you excited with its seductive promise only to pull away at the last moment leaving you frustrated and hot under the collar.

Throughout that day the wind continued howling and the rain pelted down like some giant god pissing on humanity trying to drown the entire world in his urine. The power would come back briefly only to be snatched away again in a momentary heartbeat.

There was no TV, no water, no lights and nothing to do at home except write down notes for this article whilst watching the flood waters in my front yard steadily rising.

It is now 12 minutes past 10 on Tuesday night. The rain is pelting down harder than ever but the wind seems to have died down. I have been texting Drummer who has rapidly become the local weather expert and he has explained to me how typhoons travel in a swirling motion and what we are now experiencing is the typhoons tail. This is all very well but I have seen the maps on AE and I know that the front of the typhoon is larger than the tail which leads me to my fourth and I promise very last why question. Why is it that we had more rain from the tail of the typhoon than we did from the front?



The tail end is significantly smaller than the front yet in Angeles we received more rain from the tale than from the front.


Being about as knowledgeable of the weather as I am of a woman’s mind, this typhoon tail business means nothing to me but even though it is raining outside we still have power and I have found time to finish this article. My air-con is working, my electricity powered fan is blowing and after my performance earlier this morning SWMBO is looking at me with what can only be described as a look of intoxicating expectation. Typhoon or no typhoon my little universe is alright and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

Bell Ringing and Ball Throwing

“Why the fuck would anyone want to ring the bell? I just don’t get it I would never do that”. So began my conversation with Shagger whilst sitting around the pool waiting for our Bunny Burger orders to arrive. Straight away I replied “but didn’t you ring the bell a couple of times in Neros”? “Yeah sure I did” he quickly quipped “but that was when I was a newbie and didn’t know any better. I didn’t get a dam thing for spending all that money and I would never do it again now that I know what I know”. Despite his lack of anything resembling a grasp of the English language Shagger is no dummy but as our conversation progressed I just couldn’t help myself so I said to him “geez Shagger anyone would think you were a campanologist” a campa what he replied” and now I knew I had him “a campanologist” I reiterated and had great satisfaction in seeing the what the fuck look cross his features. I was just about to explain what a campanologist was and put Shagger out of his misery when our Bunny Burger food turned up and our attention was instantly diverted to ravenously devouring the delicious food.

Later on that night when I was sitting in the bar I remembered my conversation with Shagger and it occurred to me that the mere fact there was a word such as campanologist demonstrated how much part of our culture the simple act of bell ringing is. Now I can see you readers running for your dictionaries looking for a definition of campanologist but let me save you the trouble a campanologist is basically someone who likes ringing bells and yes there are many of them out there and probably even some who are reading this article.

Shagger and I often have different points of view and usually they result in me having to write articles such as this to make him understand mine. No matter what he says about not understanding why people ring bells the fact is a lot of people do it including many AE members and it is very much part of the AC bar scene. As such I thought it would write down my thoughts and make an article of it. I hope you guys enjoy reading it and it is at least thought provoking plus entertaining.

When Shagger said he couldn’t understand why people would ring the bell in a bar this prompted me to think about the thought process behind the action and here are the factors I have been able to identify. I think the primary reason people ring bells is because they want to make a statement. I always compare this sort of behavior to that of drinking champagne in a bar. As the old line goes “why do people drink Champagne….. because they can. In other words they are making the statement that I can afford to drink Champagne and I think much the same thought process often underlies people ringing the bell. Is it showing off yes it is but at the end of the day it’s harmless to others and the brief moment of self aggrandizement actually benefit’s the bell ringer, the bar and the girls working there.





Treasure Island the smallest bar with the biggest bell in AC. You would be amazed how many people ring the bell in Treasure Island just because it’s so big and prominent in the bar.

Talking about the girls this brings me to my next reason. Some people actually ring the bell because they know all the girls get a commission on the drink and this is merely an efficient way for them to buy bulk ladies drinks.It has often amused me to see how some customers become genuinely attached to a certain bar and the girls who work there and ringing the bell is for these people just another way to express this attachment. When I have presented this argument to people some have countered by saying I would rather express my affection for the girls by giving every girl on stage a 50 piso note. I usually counter this by saying well that helps the girl but it doesn’t help the bar whereas ringing the bell helps both.

The attachment people feel to a particular bar or the girls there in is often played upon to get a bell ring. A classic example of this was Mummy Perla of Neros fame who would find out when a customer was leaving and straight away if it was his last night she would get on the microphone and tell the Dj to play leaving on a jet plane. After the song was finished the girls would go into a rousing cheer of ring the bell, ring the bell and many times gentlemen customers did exactly that. For me this was annoying but I also found it interesting to see how they would use music in an attempt to trigger an emotional response and get the resultant bell ring.

One definite reason why people ring the bell is to celebrate. On many occasions I have seen people ring the bell to celebrate a particular event. For example some guys ring the bell to celebrate their birthday, their wedding, their new relationship with a girl from that bar, the birth of a child and so on. One thing about the bell ringing in the Philippines is that the ringer gets to leave a message these are usually painted on the wall, or the mirrors, or they are inscribed on a plaque or even marked by a plastic Gecko. I have often seen guys ring the bell because they want to leave a particular message for themselves and others to see in the future. The message acts as a reminder of the good times they are having in the bar.





I have always found atmosphere to be a key ingredient of a successful bar and ringing the bell is one sure fire way to bring the atmosphere up a notch. In most bars the girls will respond with a massive cheers or by simply giving the customer a kiss on the cheek. Either way the girls know they have just secured a commission from the ladies drink and the atmosphere of the club is automatically raised. One of the best bars for this was Dirty Duck. Once the bell was rung the atmosphere of excitement and partying was almost tangible and the dancing became almost frenetic. When the ladies drink was tequila you would see some ducking and weaving trying to avoid having to do the tequila but in the end it was inevitable and the party started to roll from there. I think the fact that ringing the bell creates a party ambiance in the club is a major reason why people ring it. For me this logic is best summed up by the bell ring sign in Golden Nile.





Exactly the same logic pervades behind poppers. These are supposed to create a party type atmosphere or at least a celebratory one with the contents being displayed like in a ticker tape parade. The poppers are actually loud and automatically remind one of special celebratory evenings such as New Years or your favorite teams victory. The Poppers are also a unique way of dispersing money to the girls. People will fill them up and insert money which then explodes along with the ticker tape onto the girls. With the poppers it is possible to literally make it like it is raining money.

Believe it or not some peoples motivation for ringing the bell is to take advantage of a certain situation or a special offer. One classic example of this is the voodoo diamond bell ring which costs 7500 piso and for that you get 8 hours all you can drink, one free ewr, one free bucket of balls, a t-shirt, a bar towel, 10% off food and drinks in kokomos, free 2 hour stay in kokomos hotel, a free pizza and a tray of daily shooters. In other bars such as Lollipop they give away free merchandise including T shirts beer coolers bar towels etc .





Often a bell ring can result from a managers salesmanship ability or as some would call it the managers pressure. In this case the managers are normally lowly paid and will be offered a commission on the bell ring. This of course gives the manager an added incentive to find a customer to ring the bell. One manager I knew always used to get bell rings and when I asked him “are you on commission or something” he replied, “no I just like the sound of a bell ringing” and it seemed like he wasn’t the only one judging by the amount of bell rings he used to have. A manager who cares nearly always uses the bar sales as his barometer to measure how well he has done his job and when it comes to making money for the bar there is no quicker or efficient way than a customer ringing the bell. Perhaps this is why some managers verge on obsessive compulsive when it comes to getting that bell ring.

The bell ring is in most cases inextricably linked with the bell ringers ego. Some guys do it to show of how much money they have, some do it to create the number of bell rings in one night record, some do it so they look like big spenders in front of the girls and some do it just because they want to show they can party harder than the other customers in the bar. There are of course what I call the understated bell ringers and these people will get their partner or one of the girls to ring the bell for them preferring to let that person bask in the limelight rather than themselves. This is in some ways the direct opposite of the person who rings the bell to say hey look at me but at the same time it is a kind of reverse egotism sitting back and demonstrating you can pull the strings and make things happen without even being noticed. This is in some ways the puppeteer approach to bell ringing.

Ping Pong balls first came into use in Angeles from Thailand. I have asked myself many times why people would throw ping pong balls at the girls only to find out I do not have any real answer and yet I throw ping pong balls myself. When I sit back and analyze this behavior in myself I think I throw the balls because it is a cheap way of having some fun and at the same time giving the girls a little something monetarily, simply because they get commission from each ball collected. Other guys seem to get a kick out of watching the girls scramble for the ping pong balls whilst other guys like to use the balls simply as entertainment. Many times when I worked in Lollipop we would have ping pong fights across the bar or roll the balls down the street then sit back and watch the door girls chase them down Fields Avenue. For me the ping pong balls are harmless fun and just another money spinner for the girls and the bars. These days the ping pong balls have become part and parcel of the AC bar scene and vary from small buckets of ten balls which cost 300 piso through to giant nets of balls suspended above the girls which can cost up to 1000 piso.





I have often rung bells both in my own bars and other peoples bars and most of the time have never stopped to analyze my behavior, all I knew was at the time I thought it was something I should do and it felt good even though I realized it was at the end of the day a waste of money. The bells come in many shapes and sizes and are often not even bells at all in fact some bars have air horns and others have gongs which customers bang with a special gong ringer.





As it turns out I am not the only one with a tendency to ring bells and in fact the very man who was so adamant about not understanding why people would ring bells, Mr Shagger, is in fact half of the bell ringing team that still holds the record for the most bell rings in Bedrock Bars history that being 34 bell rings in one night. No doubt Shagger is still asking himself why did I waste all that money but I hope maybe he has a better idea after reading this article.

Filipino Food

There was a group of six of us sitting around the table at Neros and the subject of how and why we first came to the Philippines came up. The guys each stated why they came there and then it was Shaggers turn but before he could answer I butted in and said well there could only be one reason for Shagger to come to the Philippines and that’s right there on the stage. This provoked a knowing chuckle from all the guys, except Shagger, who upon hearing my remark turned to me and said “actually mate I came here for the chicken adobo”.

Shaggers remark caused yet another round of guffaws from the guys but at the same time it got me thinking about some of the dishes that are symbolic of Philippine cuisine and an integral part of Filipino culture. When spending time with the Filipina it is almost inevitable that you will be exposed to Filipino cuisine and if your anything like me you will have probably been curious about certain dishes and wonder what the heck they are composed of and why are the girls so fanatical about them.

At first glance Filipino cuisine seems basic and bland but it is in fact quite the opposite. There are numerous dishes and even more variations in their preparation and cooking so much so that a simple dish such as Chicken Adobo will vary from region to region throughout the Philippines. There have been numerous influences on Filipino cuisine including Chinese, Spanish, English and American. These influences have all in some way been fused together along with local produce to create the unique cuisine of the Philippines.

Perhaps the signature dish of Filipino cuisine is Chicken Adobo. What curry is to Indian cooking adobo is to Filipinos. Pinoys and pinays have been known to wax lyrical about their chicken adobo to the point where it has become an iconic symbol of Filipino culture. Bands such as the Black eyed peas have paid homage to adobo in their songs and there are numerous websites and cook books dedicated to the different recipes’. Chicken adobo is nearly always associated with fond memories of childhood or happy times and Filipinos all seem to have a personal experience with this dish.

Although there are numerous variations in the adobo recipe’ they basically all include vinegar, soy sauce and pepper corns. These are the three ingredients that can be found in all adobo recipe’s and combine together to create the unique adobo flavor. Adobo is often referred to as the Filipino national dish and all Filipinos seem to know how to cook it.



Adobo

Like most dishes in Philippine cuisine Adobo is always served with rice.


Adobo



One of my favorite Filipino dishes is Sinigang. Sinigang is a mixture between a stew and a hearty soup. There are numerous different ingredients used including sea foods, pork, chicken beef and many different vegetables including eggplant, onions, tomatoes, beans, white radish and these are all stewed in a Tamarind broth.


Sinigang na Hipon




Sinigang na bangus


Bangus is a local fish and in this dish they use guava leaves giving the broth a sweeter taste.



Pork sinigang or sinigang na baboy




Beef sinigang or Sinigang na baka


This is an interesting dish in that it has contradictory flavors these being the sour taste of Tamarind and the strong earthy flavor of beef.

Beef Kaldereta as the name implies is basically a beef stew and is a result of the Spanish influence on Filipino cuisine. The main flavor is created through stewing the beef and extensive use of tomato paste. Just as in adobo Filipinos will sometimes use vinegar which acts as a meat tenderizer and also gives the stew a slightly sour tang. Other common ingredients in the Kaldereta are carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and garlic.



Kaldereta


One of the first Filipino dishes I tried was KareKare. Basically this is composed of meat normally pork, beef or oxtail combined with some vegetables and all stewed in a peanut flavored sauce. Most often the main vegetables used will be string beans eggplant and sometimes jack fruit. KareKare is often eaten with a salty shrimp paste named Bagoong as a side dish.



Kare Kare


The pancit canton is composed of long noodles and includes basic meats and vegetables mixed in with the noodles. Pancit Canton demonstrates the Chinese influence on Filipino cuisine and will often be used as a quick dish in times of celebration such as birthday parties and New Year celebrations. Pancit Canton is also a comparatively quick and easy dish and is cheap to make. It also comes in an instant meal form.



Pancit Canton




Pancit Bihon


Pancit Bihon is composed of glass noodles mixed with various meats and vegetables.

Tinapa or smoked fish is sometimes referred to as food for the masses or poor peoples food. Tinapa are small salt water fish which are smoked. The Filipinos buy them and them fry them in oil creating the fried fish smell that permeates throughout so many of their houses. Another way of cooking them is on the grill and many of the poorer Filipinos will purchase the Tinapa in bulk, grill them then resell them right of the grill in a kind of street side operation. Tinapa is often eaten with rice using tomatoes and lettuce leaves as the vegetables accompanying it.



Tinapa




Tinapa


Bicol Express is a stew that originates from the Bicol Region and is composed of pork onion garlic chilies shrimp paste all gently simmered in a coconut milk sauce. Bicol express normally contains several chilies and has a reputation for being their hottest dish. This is an interesting dish because in most of their dishes unlike their South East Asian neighboring countries they tend to shy away from spicy food however the Bicol Express is loaded with chilies and has a reputation of making its eaters horny and supposedly it increases sexual potency.



Bicol express


Perhaps the staple meat in the Filipino diet is pork and it is cooked and consumed in a number of different ways. Pork forms the basis for many dishes including the ever popular Sisig. It is a common belief in the Philippines that owning a piggery is a “good business” and it is not uncommon to see pigs being transported for slaughter whenever traveling. The sisig is reputedly a Pampangan dish created in Angeles. Throughout Pampanga and now Manila and beyond Sisig is considered the ultimate pulutan and is enjoyed during social get-tog ether’s. Normally Sisig will be accompanied by a cold beer or two and Filipinos will order it when engaged in drinking sessions as a side dish to be enjoyed either by itself or with rice.



Pork sisig


Pork Sisig is the most famous but it is not exactly a heart starter. In fact for those suffering with cholesterol problems or hypertension then this is a dish certainly best avoided. Sisig is composed primarily of the pigs head the brains, the ears, the tongue, the snout etc . They will also use the pigs heart if available.

To make sisig the ingredients are chopped up into small pieces then marinated in water together with pineapple juice, salt and black pepper corns. This mixture is then simmered for about one hour. This mixture is then put onto a hot grill and combined with chopped up ginger, garlic onions, calamansi, salt, pepper and of course some chopped up chili to add that extra bit of zing.

Sisig is not restricted to pork and for those who are watching their diet sisig can be made from chicken, fish and even tofu. When you know what goes into sisig it can be a bit off putting but the end result is truly delicious and the crispy pork really does make the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer.

For lechon kawali pork is once again the meat used. To make this dish the Filipinos use pork belly (liempo) which is broiled in water with salt, pepper, garlic and laurel leaves. This is done for 35 minutes then it is deep fried in oil until crispy brown and served with a sauce composed of vinegar soy sauce onions and garlic. This is not exactly a healthy dish but it is truly delicious and like sisig can be enjoyed while enjoying a cold beer or two.



Lechon Kawali


Kilawin literally means to cook in vinegar but this is in some ways misleading because the fish (primarily mackerel) is actually soaked in vinegar with shallots, chili, ginger, salt and pepper added. The dish is served cold and has a distinctive flavor. Normally Filipinos will eat this together with rice but I find it even better just by itself. This is a light dish and makes a perfect non fattening snack. It can be made from tuna or tanigue or lapu lapu.



Kilawin Tanigue




Kilawin Tuna


Shanghai Lumpia was perhaps the second dish I was ever exposed to when trying Filipino food. This is basically the Filipinos answer to spring rolls or egg rolls and it has the advantages of being fast, light, cheap, easy to prepare and can be consumed quickly.



Shanghai Lumpia


Shanghai Lumpia is composed of either ground pork or mince meat together with carrots diced onion, spices and all held together with raw egg. This ingredients is then poured into lumpia wrappers and deep fried until golden crispy brown. The lumpia are small and treated by Filipinos as finger food or a quick snack. The lumpia is always associated with party times and social gatherings and as such is a favorite amongst Filipinos.

Beef tapa or tapsilog are basically the same thing. The word tapa refers to salt cured meat which is normally beef although they use pork as well and the tapsilog is the name for a particular dish incorporating the beef tapa. Tap refers to the salt cured meat, si refers to the sinangag or garlic flavored rice and log which refers to the egg or as the Filipinos pronounce it Itlog. Tap-si-log. Tapsilog is primarily recognized as a Filipino breakfast dish although to be honest they seem to eat it at all times of the day especially when traveling. Tapsilog is also convenient and a number of fast food restaurants exist whose primary dish is tapsilog or other dishes utilizing beef tapa the classic one of these that springs to mind is Tapa King which has branches all over the Philippines. The Tapa especially when it is beef is usually tenderized but for me this is a bland dish and I am yet to find any what I call decent beef in the Philippines.



Tapsilog




Tapa King advert


Another breakfast favorite is longanisa. The longanisa is basically a Filipino sausage and is most often served together with garlic rice and an egg. This is a long time favorite of the Flipinos and harks back to the Spanish influence when they introduced the sausage to the Filipino diet. Longanisa together with garlic rice and egg is considered a so called power breakfast and comes in many different variations and formats but the most common is certainly as a breakfast dish with garlic rice and eggs.



Longanisa


There are of course many other Filipino dishes far to numerous to mention here and as a result I have stuck with the main ones that you will more than likely be exposed to through your interaction with the girls. As said previously there are many books and websites dedicated to Filipino cuisine and as you read through them like me you will probably get a much better idea of the truly unique cuisine that is so much a part of Filipino culture. No visit to the Philippines is complete without trying at least one of these dishes but be warned like the Filipina it can become addictive and don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeking out Filipino food when back in your own country.


Bon apetite or as the Filipinos would say Mabuhay