I read all night

22 11 2009

The Aquino Family on the cover of the December 2009 issue of YES! magazine.

I WAS given the December 2009 issue of YES! Magazine as pasalubong.  It was a very thoughtful present.

The issue is packed with 74 photos of the Aquino family in their Times Street home.  And the write-up was quite long.  I really read all night.  It was an engaging read that I couldn’t put it down, bathroom breaks notwithstanding.  As Christmas is fast approaching, the story devoted a large part on the family’s traditions – and the sumptuous spread they would have.

A couple of things about the late former Philippine president, Tita Cory, struck me.  I found it funny how she described her daughter Kris’s posing for the camera.  Hindi ko kinaya, natawa talaga ako.  And I found comfort in the fact that I’m not the lone full-word, full-sentence texter on this planet.  Tita Cory was.

 

*Will it be easy to ship this magazine to Singapore and the US West Coast?

*Is there something significant with the numbers “74” and “11” (7+4=11)?  74 photos in this cover story.  And the number 11 is bold, embossed and in yellow in the limited edition Cory Aquino wristwatch by Philip Stein.

 

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40

9 09 2009

TODAY marks the 40th day of former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino’s passing.  Most everywhere I go, I still see yellow – a reminder of our nation’s beloved icon of democracy.

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Yellow ribbons are still around Town.

 

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I loved how the wind brought this ribbon to life. My camera just didn't really capture it.

In the flurry of the many things that were demanding my attention this morning – many approvals that had to be sent on their way – I was told by a colleague that Sen. Noynoy Aquino had already made at announcement at Club Filipino.

He has accepted the nation’s call.  He has responded to the invitation of destiny.

All the best to you Noynoy.  I could hear Kris’s voice ringing in my head, “Go, Noy!”

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IN ANTICIPATION OF SEPTEMBER 9th... I've never taken off my yellow Nike baller ID, a very simple homage to the late president and the Aquino family. Unlike the "livestrong" line, this one says "GOOOAL!"... how apropos to Noynoy's presidential bid.





Sweet child of destiny

3 09 2009

THE QUESTION still remains:  Will our next president be someone predestined by unseen powerful forces or predetermined course of events?  Or someone catapulted to the top by the skillful influencing and controlling powers of our own hands?

Like with millions of Filipinos, one passage from Ms. Kris Aquino’s loving tribute and farewell to her mom has held my thoughts captive for weeks now.  “Noy, ikaw at ako ang nasa posisyon para ipagpatuloy ang lahat ng kanilang nasimulan.”  (Noy, you and I are the ones in the position to continue what they (obvious reference to their parents) had started.)

Up until that moment – exactly 29 days ago – I for one haven’t seriously toyed with the idea of this young single man from Tarlac holding the highest position in the land.  But one thing was for sure and cannot be denied – the death of their mother had, by that fifth day of August, finally shattered the glass ceiling that had seemingly safely capped the rising steam of a nation’s brewing, years-long discontent.  Once again, 26 years after Ninoy was assassinated and 23 years after democracy was restored through Cory, the Filipinos have awakened with their hopes appearing to be pinned to these icons’ only son – Nonynoy.

Destiny is calling Noynoy.  What is he to do?

From the good senator’s statement at the historical and sentimental Club Filipino, what is clear is that he is going on a soul-searching retreat.  To find his answer, most definitely yes.  To ask for a sign, could be.  That, after what Kris had implied previously and eventually declared last night to be a series of family meetings that had culminated in that discussion in her van with only her driver Mario as the sole witness to everything.

When destiny calls, it clearly demands the totality of someone and then some more.  My heart ached when Ms. Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, their eldest sister, got all choked up with emotion during a live interview that gave us a glimpse of how excruciatingly demanding this decision-making has become.  When Ms. Pinky Aquino-Abellada said through text to a senior broadcast journalist that she can put her life on hold for the next six years and just have it back, I felt their family’s altruism.  And when Kris – in what could only be likened to a totally spontaneous, sincere, unguarded moment – had to stomp her feet to plead to Boy to not add to the pressure on Noynoy by assuming an announcement is forthcoming on the ninth day of September, there isn’t an iota of doubt anymore in my mind that answering this call by destiny has indeed taken its toll on their lives.

I join Kris’ call to pray for Noynoy and their family that they will be able to do whatever is in the best interest of the country.  Noynoy – and the Aquino family – has inspired many Filipinos in a positively contagious manner that could put a pandemic to shame.  If he chooses to answer the invitation and the call of destiny, then he is indeed it’s sweet child.

And while Noynoy has expressed a number of apprehensions about how difficult the journey to Malacañang could be – foremost of his concerns being the lack of funds – he should be very well aware that the skillfull and influencing powers of “our own hands” have started to come into play.

Coming on the day after the nation commemorated National Heroes’ Day, Senator Mar Roxas’ supreme sacrifice and even Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s similar insinuations have made them the new breed of heroes in my eyes.  Together with Noynoy – and of course all his sisters – they breathe life to one claim that until recently has just been something I read day in and day out on a plaque on a wall at home:  “The world needs men whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires.”





The Last Journey of Ninoy

24 08 2009

I REMAINED seated, motionless as the credits faded in and out of the screen towards the end of “The Last Journey of Ninoy.”  For someone like me who is very critical and particular in chronicling his life – captured not in celluloid but in cursive, on the pages of his 16-month Starbucks Coffee Company® Planner and Date Journal – the daily accounting of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.’s last nine days packed into barely a couple of hours proved very effective and engaging.  But that is barely scratching the surface of – and even sounded to be trivializing – the real suffering Ninoy and his family had gone through.

I watched the documentary with my mother, who on that fateful day in 1983, gave me a glimpse of who this “Ninoy” was and what he meant to the Filipino people.  I remember we were coming home from visiting my aunt in Pasig.  Upon our arrival, we were met by the charging steps of my grandmother, rushing from our home’s second floor, almost screaming: “Pinatay nila si Ninoy!” (They killed Ninoy!)

I saw my mother’s face turned ashen with grief, it was almost palpable.  She slumped on a chair and I could see tears silently streaming down her cheeks.  I had to ask who Ninoy was and if we knew him.  I remember my mom saying that he was our country’s hope.

A lot of years had passed – 26 to be exact – since that fateful day.  Like most of my countrymen, I had sailed on comfortably, almost oblivious to the struggle and the fight that had allowed me to enjoy all the freedom that I have in my hands right now.  Our former president Cory Aquino’s passing three weeks ago rekindled the latent patriotic and nationalistic pride that had seemed to be trampled on by one too many displays of braggadocio and claim to “absolute” power these past years.  These past days I have honestly gained a deeper appreciation of what it must have taken to set this country free.

But nothing had made me feel more aware of the price democracy and freedom had cost than “The Last Journey of Ninoy.”  Timelined within the nine days it took for Ninoy to make his trip from Boston to Manila – arduous as it was circuitous in making all those stops in Los Angeles, Singapore (then on land through the Malaysian border), and penultimately in Taipei – this gem of a documentary opened my eyes to the passion and the spirit that had fueled Ninoy’s dream for the country while allowing me to fully understand the impetus for his return.

In the space of his last journey’s “nine days” – starkly heralded with title screens that simply marked the day and date against the days-long timeline – I saw how Ninoy rose from the unassuming but undoubtedly driven boy of seventeen to the martyr of democracy that he came to be.  Something which to me seemed was an eventuality he didn’t wish for, but something that ironically breathed life to his oft-quoted belief that indeed, “the Filipino is worth dying for.”  While the center of the documentary was clearly Ninoy, I didn’t lose sight of the subtleties that underscored Cory’s role as the anchor, light and strength of a young family oppressed and pushed to their near-breaking point.

The precious and I assume never-before-seen video footages and photos were interspersed with precious – yet again – commentary from the late President Cory Aquino.  This, I firmly believe, lent invaluable factual and emotional credibility, and cohesiveness to an outstanding work of art and heart.

Every Filipino worth dying for (Ninoy’s words)… worth living for (Cory’s), and simply…  worth it (Kris’s) should see this docu-drama.





Beef that sticks to your ribs

20 08 2009

I THINK I may be in a serious corned beef phase.  It’s actually one of Tita Cory’s signature dishes.  She would make it fresh for their family’s Christmas spread.  And true to expectations, when Friendship learned about my corned beef fixation of late, she blurted out: “Chi-nun-kee check mo ba ang corned beef mo?”  (Did you “chunkee” check your corned beef?)…  totally channeling Ms. Kris Aquino, sans the long-handled all-stainless steel fork.

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Palm corned beef, the original "with juices".

Friendship actually brought up a good point.  Honestly, I want my corned beef chunky, not really shredded beyond recognition.  And everytime I’d try to imagine what Tita Cory’s fresh corned beef would have been like, I would picture really tender beef brisket – chunky and stringy at the same time, with real good measure of fat and tendon.  The other night I got up and raided the refrigerator.  Though I knew what to expect inside, a part of me still wondered if fresh beef brisket and the perfect blend of pickling spices would magically appear.

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I was so tempted to open both cans!

Good thing that in our last trip to the supermaket, we were able to stock up on all three brands of corned beef that I favor!  So on one night, I reached out for Palm – the original, “with juices” – and sauteed it my way.

I used one large clove of garlic, crushed; three medium vidalia (white) onions with the ends and inner layers finely chopped and the outer middle parts cut into rings; and lots of roma (plum) tomatoes that I blanched, peeled, and seeded.

Sauteed Palm corned beef – the closest I’ll ever get to real home-made, fresh goodness.  Perfect with lots of hot steamed white rice!

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Lots of fresh vidalia (white) onion rings to top my Palm corned beef dish! I finely chopped up the cores and the ends for the actual sauteing.

 

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The onion rings looked so fresh and juicy that I almost whipped up a light batter to turn them into "onion rings" – as we know it – instead!

 

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I start off with sauteing the onion rings in a heavy bottom skillet. I used 100% pure canola oil on this one. Not too much because I think that oil imparts a characteristic taste to the dish that may get in the way of the corned beef.

 

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The onion rings would take only a couple of minutes - do NOT overcook! After I remove them from the pan, I start sauteing the large clove of garlic, then the onions... then the tomatoes (blanch, peeled, seeded).

 

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A few minutes into the sauteing, this is how it would look like. It would always be at this point when I'd find myself torn between continuing the original dish in my head... or turning this into a fresh pasta sauce instead. Hahaha!

 

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The corned beef is now standing by, waiting to dunk into the pan.

 

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The corned beef finally joined the sizzling melee in the pan!

 

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A close shot of all the "chunky"-ness!

 

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The sauteed Palm corned beef is served, topped with a generous heap of onion rings. Sarrrap! Yum-O!





Presidential foodie

10 08 2009

 

TALK ABOUT wearing my heart on my sleeve!

 

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From my years-old collection – newspaper clippings of Kris Aquino's column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Yes, I read her, together with Mr. Teodoro "Teddyboy" L. Locsin, Jr.!

My slew of posts this past week has revolved around the passing of our dear former president, Mrs. Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.  Yes, around her and at least a couple others – Ms. Kris Aquino and Mr. Teodoro “Teddyboy” L. Locsin, Jr..  And it just occurred to me that, together with Prof. Winnie Monsod, three of my most admired people (listed in my “35 Things) have Tita Cory as the common denominator.  And if I’d count the perfectly tempered PROFILES feature Ms. Cheche Lazaro made for her, that makes four of my most admired people!

So here – yet again – is another Tita Cory post.  There really is no doubt I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve!  At some point in the past, Batman told me that I was fortunate I have a blog, which he called something to the effect of an “outlet” for me.  And all the many personalities that make me up.  And all the many emotions in my wide spectrum.

But this time around, I want to talk about a different aspect of our former president that I have come to love – her love for food.

It was in her daughter’s column Kris & Tell’s December 25, 2000 edition that food first heightened my curiosity about and admiration for our former president.  I quote my favorite excerpt: “…and then we eat heartily from the Christmas buffet that my mom has prepared.  We normally have lechon, roast turkey (prepared by my sister Ballsy’s mother-in-law, Tita Caring, which is the most delicious turkey and stuffing I’ve ever tasted), pasta and fresh corned beef which my mom herself prepares, and various desserts.”  From that short – yet impressive – list, it was the fresh corned beef that tickled my imagination especially since the former president would make it herself!

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A vivid description of the Aquino Noche Buena table. It was the "fresh corned beef" prepared by the former president herself, that really caught my attention – and made my mouth water.

From that point on, I would picture the Aquino Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner) table in my head every year.  My curiosity was particularly and incessantly piqued by the fact that in the midst of that spread would be corned beef that wasn’t akin to the ones I’d shake from out of a can.  No wonder that when I heard of Sentro 1771’s Sinigang Na Corned Beef (Corned Beef in Tamarind Broth with Vegetables), I immediately tried it… and added it to my list of faves.  I thought to myself that that could be the closest I could taste home-made corned beef.

And these past days, on morning shows and in the papers, I got to know about food items that Tita Cory loved.  She liked the ensaymada from Hizon’s.  She loved the special queso de bola on top!  And if I heard it right, she was also partial to their caramel cake.  (Now I don’t know if Hizon’s does have a caramel cake!)

And on the day after her interment, it was Tita Cory’s trademark chicken liver pâté that I learned about, courtesy of Vangie Baga-Reyes’s article in the Inquirer.  What actually got me was the mention that even during her illness, Tita Cory managed to whip this up three months ago.

Like the mention of her fresh corned beef eight-and-a-half years ago – and all subsequent references to it that I had heard or read about – this recent article on her chicken liver pâté didn’t share her secret recipe.  Though it offered someone else’s.  But compared to the one on the fresh corned beef, it did one better by at least mentioning that Tita Cory’s secret to her chicken liver pâté were red wine and cinnamon.  I couldn’t wait to try making it myself!

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Our Tita Cory would make her trademark Chicken Liver Pâté for family and friends.





She made me proud to be a Filipino

6 08 2009

FORMER PRESIDENT Corazon Cojuangco Aquino – “Tita Cory” – united the Filipino people in her death, just as she did in her lifetime.

Like practically every other Filipino at home yesterday, I stayed glued to the TV not because there was nothing else on…  but because I had to witness history unfold.  As a kid of the democracy Tita Cory restored, I have nothing but love for her, something I have professed here before when I had heard she was seriously ill.

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Yesterday, most Filipinos woke up to Kris Aquino's tribute to her mom.

I was touched by the homily I heard – arguably one of the best and most sincere tributes anybody paid Tita Cory since her passing last week.  I cried buckets when Kris spoke about and spoke to her mom.  I applauded when she categorically declared that they would continue what their parents had started; and pledged her full and unwavering support to her brother.  And I applauded when they were bringing the casket out of the church to Lea Salonga’s moving rendition of “Bayan Ko.”

Tita Cory’s greatest legacy is leading this nation by example.  What she probably did at home to raise five children almost all by herself, she brought to the nation’s forefront.  Above everything else, she didn’t compromise her and her family’s integrity.  She didn’t get consumed by the power she recognized was temporal and came with much responsibility.  She lived a simple yet meaningful life.  She left through a peaceful but meaningful death.