A Beautiful Day!

Every cloud has a silver lining, they say.  After a week of non-stop rains that caused floods and heavy traffics in the Metro, today, the mighty sun is finally smiling again.  The reason my cherry tomato plants look happy and green with their blossoming flowers. Yohooo!

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I thought I have a black thumb or I may have been doing something wrong. It was like an insult on me as farming is what my parents do for a living.  So I was relentless in trying different herbs and ornamental plants in my urban garden (terrace). I must say, they all failed. My bitter melon dried-up after a month of tending their promising buds. Then my basil and rosemary(from SM’s garden section P120 each) lasted only for 2 weeks. I had to water them frequently and ironically they perished from what looked like dehydration.  My snake plant roots rotted though I still have one left standing and I am not expecting a miracle for it. The lucky plant and Chinese palm are slowly dying  because of some pests (I’m guessing that they are palm aphids because of the white spots).  I also tried different composts, combined garden soil and rice husks all to no avail. I also bought a special blossoming fertilizer from Ace Hardware for P50 which only worked well with the tomatoes but not with the herbs and palm.  Okay, enough of the whining and focus on the beauty of the day- my cherry tomatoes.

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This time, I have high hopes that I might be finally hitting the nails on the head. I bought the cherry tomato seeds from Puregold for P50.  My father used to grow tomato seeds altogether in a square box then transplant them with appropriate distance from each other.  In my case, I transplanted them using medium plastic pots. As replacement of rice straws, I used old shredded paper bags as a base layer to hold moisture on the soil. It worked well I suppose because I only had to water them thrice a week.

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Let’s see what the heavens decision in the next few weeks.

Here is a bitter sweet song perfect for the day from Mr. Buble! Enjoy

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“Idiay Tiendaan”: Laoag City Public Market

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Apart from the panoramic views, pristine beaches, century-old heritage churches, vast rice fields and rich-cultural traditions, there is something more fascinating the North can offer- their Public Market (Tiendaan in the vernacular).  It may sound a cliché from this blog, but the best way to experience a town is to visit their markets.  And what better way to start than where this Palengkera was born- Laoag City.

Laoag City is the Capital of Ilocos Norte.  It is the center of political, commercial and industrial affairs of Ilocos. The one and only international airport of the region is strategically located just few minutes from the heart of the city. From the country’s capital Metro Manila, it is reachable by plane around 45 minutes and 10-12 hours by land. Speaking of economy, Laoag is close to many ports that can bridge trading goods from neighboring regions and nearby countries like Taiwan.   To date, it has also allured some of the giant retailers to expand in the area, SM, Robinsons, Puregold to name a few. And by 2014, one of the fastest growing BPO(Expert Global Solutions) is set to open for the competitive workforce in the region. Sources of income includes agri-business, small-scale food processing factories, rice mills, jewelry-making, hollow blocks factories, and metal crafts. Recently, however, tourism has turn into a key financial driver of Laoag, contributing to the boost of commercial investments, housing and infrastructure growth. Cozy and has an ambiance of what they say a surviving relic and example of Spanish Colonial town.

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The economic growth in Laoag paves the way for more trading of goods and services especially in its public market.  History has it that the Laoag City Commercial Complex was a replacement of the old (blue-green- I think) building public market.  The 3-storey structure is installed with an escalator. The hallways are a bit cramped but the market is secured and even has CCTVs installed around the area (according to my mom who roves the market 3 times a week). The sanitation and tidiness in the wet area is comparable to some of the best public markets I featured in this blog.

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The open market is scheduled every morning on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.  In my early days as a child, I usually get excited every Sunday as my mother used to take me to this vibrant market of course with the condition to obey her rules.  During the open market (tienda), the market would pack vendors from different Barangays and even neighboring towns to sell or trade their goods. It always fascinates me to see seasonal exotic foods like fried crickets, beetles, frogs, mushrooms, freshwater shellfish and the likes.

At the Sunday Market. this photo credits to Blauearth.

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When it comes to fresh produce, Public Market is far better choice than the Supermarkets.

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It is also a place where one can come and buy some popular Ilocos fares including bagnet, dried fish and seafood, longganisa, tobacco leaves, and other traditional native rice cakes and snacks.

Witness heart attack food at the 2nd level of the complex (Bagnet, Longganisa, Silet etc).

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Though we love the smell of fat and calories, to balance our diet, we still turn to our staple food- Green Leafy Veggies and among other weeds. We occasionally source our protein needs from different crawling living things (for lack of a better term).

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Seasonal Mushrooms (August-September)

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Seaweeds (Pokpoklo, Aragan, God knows what those are)

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Local Squid (I suppose)

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And some carcinogens…

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Farmers tools…

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This was taken one late Saturday afternoon in preparation for the Sunday Market.  Vendors and Merchants met to trade goods/produce.  I was with my Mom and our driver to deliver the produce from our humble farm.

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Whenever I am in this hometown, I never fail to visit our Market, out of necessity or for amusement. If asked how I describe this place, with a child’s excitement and grin- A wonderland. Nothing much changed- has always been a fascinating sight with beehive of activities.

Baguio’s Oh My Gulay: A Palengkera’s Restaurant Review

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A friend and I went on a trip to Baguio without an itinerary.  And so, one of our colleagues suggested we visit this place. Located at the heart of infamous Baguio’s Session Road, Oh My Gulay is a unique dining restaurant which is popular to vegans, local artists and tourists. You have to trek flight of stairs to reach the rooftop (5th floor) where the restaurant is located as there was no elevator installed in the aged La Azotea building. I was thinking that it was part of the design to make you want to eat anything by the time you get there. After all the hassle, it was worth it.  It was enchanting- with a garden on top of a building overlooking the panoramic Burnham Park.

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At the restaurant, we did not expect to meet our funny gay-friends from Manila that chilly Sunday afternoon while it was Baguio Day Celebration. So we thought that the incident was a good omen to devour a hearty lunch in the restaurant.  We were able to talk about how good the arts, how fabulous the ambiance is, and laugh about topics an unreserved people would normally brought up(almost anything).  We were also lucky to  get the best spot on the balcony to enjoy the cool breeze and smell of pine trees. It was a perfect place to talk, to think(if you’re alone), to unwind, and to leave all the troubles and anxieties behind.

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Much as I want to cut this story short, there are so much to say about this restaurant that photos can’t just summarize. The place was very cozy. I was amazed by the setting- flower garden, coi pond, giant stones, wood carvings, recycled artifact, antiques, paintings, and various art works I can’t explain. The washroom was also a giant piece of art- with vines serve as drapery, marbles as tiles, and a customized sink to go with the mood.

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This restaurant was designed by a quirky and creative artist. The star of the restaurant was the place itself and the decors it showcased.  An entertaining ambiance.

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And who wouldn’t chuckle on this?

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The menu promised a lot of interesting veggie-centric pastas, salads, soups, with some unique ingredients. Some of the menus were a little bit naughty like “Anak ng Putanesca”, “Caesar Asar”, and “Saging at Mani Love Affair”. The food was reasonably priced- Pasta from P110-P150 (almost good for 2 servings), Desserts P50-100, Salad P90-140, drinks/coffee P40-70.

We tried their signature dish Oh My Gulay Salad, Kabute(Mushroom) Pasta and OMG Club Sandwich. Perfect food to stave off Hypertension. :).  But upon close inspection, the pasta has overwhelming cheese, so it might not be good for your blood pressure after all.  The food is somehow good, but nothing to rave for. You can’t complain either.

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The OMG Salad was my favorite. It has the right texture, and the right mix of flavors -sweet, sour,  and a little spicy.

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And to cap off the good flavors, we ordered the reputable Benguet Coffee while enjoying the crispy wind breeze.

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Overall, it was a nice experience and Oh My Gulay now comes one my top list of “Palengkera Must Visit” when in Baguio.