casa lillibelle 2018

my family decided to push through with the planned holy week outing, though feeling very tentative: two of our daughters [the eldest and youngest] had issues; jikki [the middle daughter] struck her thumb, dislodging her thumbnail the night before our trip; skyler, our 2-yr old “baby boy”, tripped while running, his gums bled and his lower lip broke open, also the night before; ryan almost couldn’t come because of a prior commitment; and marco was nursing a fever.  BUT, thank God, we all pushed to make the trip to casa lilibelle happen.  and the rest… is now… history

casa lilibelle family pic

front row, from left: marco, dea [eldest daughter], jikki [middle], ryan, skyler [baby boy], nicko, meg [youngest].  back row: me and jane.

just search online for casa lillibelle — it’s in cabangan, zambales, a 2-3 hour drive [or 6-8 hours if you travel on holy week!] from manila via SCTEX.  ang nagma-manage ng beach resort, ang mag-asawang si joanne calica at MJ ungco.

“calica…” i said, “calico, calica… ok.”
“yes, with a ‘c’,” joanne said.
“ungco,” i said, “with a ‘g’… ‘u’ ‘n’ ‘G’ ‘co’?”
“yes, u-n-g-c-o.”

at the resort, MJ is so easy to find.  he’s that [stand-out] caucasian-looking dude na balbasin.  joanne is the pretty “zambal beauty” with darkish complexion.

casa lilibelle mj

MJ [he volunteered to take the group-fie] and joanne [rightmost]. me [with peace sign], dea [eldest; front]; jane [my wife; with shades]; jikki [2nd; behind dea]; ryan [rearmost].

chances are pagdating na pagdating nyo sa resort parking area, andun na si MJ… to welcome you.  joanne would probably be waiting for you at the counter area or greet you at the entrance to the resort.  you’ll also see MJ running here and there, in and out of the resort, taking care of business.  they’re both hands-on guys who give personal attention to and converses with their guests.

“MJ has caucasian features,” i said.
“‘kana’ ang mommy nya,” joanne said, “but his dad is chinese… ungco.”
“ikaw, are you from here?” i said.
“yes, just before the steel bridge coming here.”
“you are a zambal beauty.”

joanne was very thoughtful of our situation.  we were only booked for friday and was scheduled to leave and look for another place to stay that saturday morning.  lumakad na mga kasama namin [marco, dea, ryan, and jikki] that saturday morning, to make an ocular inspection of the other resort, and book it for an overnight stay; while jane [my wife] and i packed our bags and brought them to the hut.  they just got back, around 11 am.

“papa, wag ka na mag prepare ng lunch,” our eldest daughter dea said, “dun na tayo magluto sa kabila.”
“ahh, ok,” i said.

just then, joanne came to our hut to tell us that a reservation for that saturday cancelled; but instead of giving out the now available room to their friends who just arrived and were looking for a room; she remembered our predicament and decided to just let us stay for another day in our room to spare us the trouble of moving to another resort.

“si daddy nga kanina, nung sumilip ako sa kubo, mukhang nagdadasal na kung saan kayo magse-stay after eh,” joanne said, “mabuti na lang may nag-cancel.”

casa lilibelle nagdadasal

nagdadasal… nakatulog 🤣🤣

of course, we were all relieved and very grateful!  ryan raises two fists in the air!

the large air-conditioned room we occupied, comfortably accommodates 8-10 persons [we were 8 adults + a 2 yr old toddler], with cushioned beds; a spacious bathroom; a beachfront terrace; and ample space to walk around inside.  beach huts had individual grilling areas.  they have gas stoves [for rent] provided with saucepans and ladles.  you can order basic food items from the counter, like coffee, beer, eggs, ice, etc.  but there’s also a sari-sari store nearby if you want to go for an adventure into the small community.

casa lilibelle stove

marco and the stove

the resort is quite secure.  we were assured that our belongings would be safe in the hut overnight.  we just left them there… found them the next morning just as we left them.

joanne and MJ made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed: they would check on us every now and then, to see if everything was alright.

“ano, sir, ok ba kayak ride,” MJ said, “nakapag workout ka na?”
“oo,” i said, “ang lakas nga ng hangin, kinokontra ko, tinatangay yung kayak eh.”

casa lilibelle kayak

this was my second time to go to casa lillibelle.  and it was my first choice when my family decided to go on this holy week getaway.

as the terminator would say, of course… “i’ll be back!”  😋😋

 

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january 2018

january 2018 is almost over with a day to go before it completely expires into history.  i haven’t written anything yet.  i had written thoughts on the incoming (new) year for the past years since i began this blog, thestrayschnauzer, but apparently, for this year, i hadn’t.

i was at a small high school reunion last night — only 12 of about 40 old classmates were present.

toast to manolo

we met because one of our classmates based in seattle was here in the country.  we have mini reunions — meet ups — every now and then.  but this one was special because of our balikbayan classmate, manolo (picture below, middle).  it was most special for me because manolo and i last saw each other in 1977… 40 years ago!

manolo

me, manolo, & mar — classmates since grade 3 (but probably further).

the reason i am writing my blog now is because manolo reminded me of its existence — he told me he reads my blog.  there!

driving in the streets of metromanila is very stressful.  this is if you are one who stays in your lane, flicks your indicator (signal) light when overtaking, looks in the side mirror if you’ve completely passed the other vehicle before getting back in lane, keeps within speed limit, and drives cautiously and defensively.  people seem to be always racing for time on the streets.  cars and vans, motorcycles and buses — all vehicles — weave left and right in front of me on the wide 6-lane EDSA highway.  it reminded me of what i have wanted to blog about for the new year, 2018.

it’s about the race.  not the human race, but a car race or a horse race — a race to the finish line.  life is a race — a race to the grave.  and the longer you reach the finish line, the better winner you are!  however, in this race, unlike other races where contenders sometimes don’t finish — everybody finishes!  everybody reaches the finish line — the grave.

this is very sobering.

so when we are at our best, when our intellectual faculties are functioning above our bestial appetites, we do everything in our powers to prolong our appointment with the grave — we take care of our bodily health.  and the number one way to do so is by attempting to go on a diet and lose all those unwanted and heart-risk-increasing poundage.

the best thing that happened to me last year, 2017, by far, is when i learned of and went on the ketogenic diet.  this is 2017 for me — keto (ketogenic) WOE (way of eating).  this was everything on my mind last year — or, at least, the last quarter.  losing 30 lbs in 3 months is great news, as far as bodily health is concerned.  blood works coming in all normal is good news.

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that, my friends, in toto, is 2017 — a radical way of eating and a huge amount of weight lost, a normal blood panel, and getting a new handle on bodily health.

i have no new year’s resolution, as i have had before — but a new year’s target: to reach 190 lbs with normal blood pressure through keto WOE.

happy new year!  and kung hei fat choi to my dear chinese friends on feb.16.

lessons from a bible student falling into sexual immorality

it is sad — devastating — when you hear of a bible school student falling in fornication (sex) with a young teenage girl committed to his trust.

he was the leader of the young people’s group in our local church where the teenage girl was a part of.  he was also active in leadership in the community outreach of the church, the community (the house) where the teenage girl lived.

i loved the young brother.  i saw myself (when i was much younger) in him — full of zeal for the work of the Lord.  volunteering to help when there was a need.  where i was judged (for being too forward in volunteering, in my former church), i did not judge him, because i understood where he was coming from — with the desire to help out and be of service, having gifts of teaching from the Holy Spirit.

he once offered to help me out.  i had preached in the morning service of the church.  after the worship service, i was going to teach the ‘tagalog’ worship group as a substitute.  then in the afternoon i was also assigned to lead the bible study.  he (then) offered himself to me, personally — to help me out in teaching the tagalog service.  i gave the assignment to him without hesitation and second thoughts.  that was how much i loved this young brother, and sought to encourage him along the way of his seeking the Lord’s will.

it is so sad — devastating — that he fell into sin.  it is so sad — devastating — that he fell into sexual immorality of the kind.

two things call to my attention: one, my problem with the practice in the church, that when a young man expresses his desire to serve the Lord in the ministry, the church leadership immediately sends him to bible school or the ministerial Academy, for doctrinal instruction.  this (to my mind) is a very fatal error!  i think i agree with DM lloyd jones (i can’t quote him… yet.  as i am hammering off the cuff).  i won’t send a young man desiring to serve the Lord in the ministry immediately to the ministerial Academy — i will send him to L I F E!  live a life.  find gainful employment, find a wife, start a family and, above all — live a life!  then, after all’s been said and done, after so many years, and (probably) grey or falling hair — that’s the only time to consider serving the Lord in the ministry… again.

two.  secondly, a thousand thoughts spawn one overt action.  be very wary about what goes on in your head — in your thoughts.  in your thoughts, there is a world of evil!  in your thoughts, you sin against God.  but, you ask forgiveness directly and immediately from God.  but when those thousand and one thoughts are translated into action, then, you sin against your fellow man — and sometimes the law of the land!  and for violating the law of the land, you will be held accountable, because justice demands it.

i cannot offer any remedy for the second issue except sanctifying your thought life, and exercising double restraint on your actions through self-control.  but the first, ie, sending a young, inexperienced man to the ministerial Academy — that, to me, is a big No-No!  send him to life — first.  this is what i firmly believe in.  i don’t think the church will suffer any bit for this young man not to be in the ministry ‘serving the Lord’.  on the contrary, i think he will do the church a great deal of service by being out of the ministry, and proving himself a faithful servant outside the ministry (and qualifying himself) — first — before he even cherishes the thought that he is “in” and (thus) being of service to the Lord his Saviour.  let him show — first — by a good testimony (outside the ministry) that he is indeed worthy of the calling.  let him endure and overcome temptations pertaining to his personal relationships, to his personal faith, to life etc. OUTSIDE the ministry, before even thinking about letting his foot in the door.

this is my 2¢ worth.

ketocayo: my first 24-hour fast

OMAD — the first time i encountered the term in the fb group, ketogenic ph (where i was recently added by a friend), i commented, “that’s what we called ‘stuff’ back in HS and college!” the OMAD ‘stuff’ i alluded to was… yes, DAMO.  grass.  MJ.

omad

but OMAD in ketogenic jargon stands for One Meal A Day — the practice of the 24-hour fast. in the 24-hour fast, you eat no solids, but may drink plain water, electrolyte water, coffee, tea, and broth.  today was my first time to try OMAD.

i’ve been regular in doing IF (Intermittent Fasting), another concept associated with keto WOE (Way Of Eating).  (jargon is social currency.  use it to blend in and not be seen or regarded as an outsider.)  i was already practicing a 16-8 IF, before i tried the 24-hour.

16-8 is a 16-hour fast, alternated by an 8-hour loading (eating) window.  during my 16-8 IF, i ate only two meals.  i coined my own term for it — TaMAD (Two Meals A Day).  there is no rule how many meals you can have during the 8-hour loading window — i can only handle two.  so i’ve been doing the 16-8 TaMAD (about 3 weeks) before i tried the 24-hour fast, OMAD.

the 24-hour fast.  the 24-hour ketogenic fast started 2 pm, saturday.  my family was in barrio fiesta celebrating the graduation of my youngest daughter.  order was crispy pata and kare-kare combo, with additional sinampalukang manok and inihaw na liempo.  gorged myself on my favourite knuckles, ligaments and tendons, with some pata meat.  had a couple of cuts of tuwalya (ox tripe) and laman from the kare-kare, of course, with bagoong alamang, with a bite of two of the scanty veggies that went with it.  had a bite or two of inihaw na liempo.  sipped sinampalukan soup and had the behind part of the chicken.

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an hour and a half stroll at the mall and an hour travel back home. 

siesta.

then i went for my (un)usual run (at 7 pm), a 40-minute slow jog.  pulse rate was 136 bpm.  i used to run late afternoon around 5 pm.  but when i heard of the ‘fasted run’ i began changing my running program.  i started running in the morning around 6 am.  done it twice already.  the 7 pm run was an alternative to the next morning’s ‘fasted run’.

usual tidying up of the house for the rest of the evening.  late into the night until the wee hours of the morning was spent devouring stuff on hydration, electrolytes, keto flu, etc., from articles, a video, and discussions on various threads in ketogenic ph fb page.  (learning a lot of valuable — crucial — information from the fb group!)  over a cup of BPC.

and as a result of new information gleaned from the evening’s harvest, i took two dashes of himalayan salt orally, to spike my sodium levels — i was feeling kind-a lightheaded and dizzy, and based on my research, there was a good probability that i was experiencing ‘keto flu’ caused by a deficiency in sodium, potassium, or magnesium.

sunday.  i had my morning BPC, with knorr beef broth.  the knorr beef broth (while i haven’t made my own bone broth yet) is also the result of hours of brow-burning about electrolytes and keto flu the night before.  then off to church with my wife, jane, and middle daughter, jikki (who i will soon add to the fb group.)  then back home lunchtime.

broke the fast about 1:30 pm, less than 24 hours.

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by not completing the 24 hours — did i break the law?  nah!

enjoy KETO WOE.  😋😋

 

eliz and CV

saturday was antithesis: in the morning, we were invited to a birthday breakfast buffet; in the afternoon, we went to a wake.  the birthday, was the 60th birthday celebration of a dear christian friend, eliz ‘maling’ francisco: the wake, the wake of an uncle, dr. cesar vicente san pedro, 87, who died of liver cancer.

there are no ironies — if ever there were — in birthdays.  in deaths there often are.  one of the ironies in deaths is that a death in the family becomes the occasion of happy reunions between siblings, cousins, relatives, and friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.  a death in the family brings us together, and the tragedy of death becomes a comedy of reunions.  an irony.  an irony on a tragedy…

maling is special.  she is one of a few.  she hosted the birthday breakfast buffet largely for her churchmates and us fellow christians (long-time friends) from all over (100-120 persons) — a huge blow-out!  she wanted to celebrate her 60th birthday with people closest to her heart.  the lady loves the Lord, and drives a silver jaguar.

 

at the wake of my uncle, it was a noisy reunion of cousins and close uncles and aunts.  noisy, filled with laughter and animated story-telling.  an irony on a tragedy…

i met CV, a 2nd cousin (son of my mother’s 1st cousin, the departed), the youngest.  i realized that for the past 30 odd years i have never talked to him — not a word — and not even exchanged a handshake greeting in countless clan reunions we’ve seen each other at.  yesterday was our first warm handshake, when i expressed my condolences to him upon our arriving at the wake…

“CV…” i said, “does that stand for cesar vicente, after your dad, cesar, and grand-dad, vicente?”
“his dad’s name is also cesar vicente,” my eldest brother rolly said.
“no, my name is cesar vincent,” CV said.
“ahh, tweaked,” i said…

CV, i learned, was a chef.  a would-have-been doctor like his dad and elder brother, paul, but chose another path — culinary arts.  he’s now the head chef at parq vancouver.  i asked him how he cooks scrambled eggs — gordon ramsey or anthony bourdain — to break the ice.  i said i didn’t like gordon ramsey’s scrambled eggs because they were “masyadong malasado” (too runny).  from then on, it was talk about chinese cuisine — herbs and spices, star anise, cooking wine, chicken powder, soup stock made from chicken, pork, and veal, century eggs mashed in congeee; pho, wansoy; bibimbop, kimchi — asian cuisine — after the ice breaker…

when it was time to go, i bade my cousins, uncle, and aunts goodbye.  i shook CV’s hand.

“at long last,” i said.
“oo nga,” he said.

 

 

nuclear fire spicy noodle challenge

nuclear

you must have heard of the nuclear fire spicy noodle challenge.  but if you haven’t, it’s all over yoochoob.  just type ‘nuclear fire spicy noodle challenge’ in the yoochoob search bar and you’ll get there.

it’s the one featuring the ‘samyang’ brand ‘HOT chicken flavor ramen’ with a ‘2x spicy’ printed on a red package.  the original challenge was (i think) to eat as much spicy hot noodles in the shortest possible time — a race.  but for my purpose, i simplified it to finishing a pack of the spicy hot noodles and posting the video online.

i’ve watched videos where the subjects don’t finish the noodles because they found it too spicy hot.  i’ve also watched videos where the subjects drink water or milk, or eat ice cream to quell the intensifying inferno in their mouths.  of course, there were those vloggers who were trying to be cute, and the crazy ones, whose videos make you smile or laugh for sheer stupidity.  but there are videos where the subjects make it through and finish the entire pack (some even 5 packs!)

my experience.  on the first mouthful, the taste was a mixture of sweet and savoury followed immediately by a burning sensation in my mouth (tongue, cheek, and all).  the next mouthfuls were searing hot, an intense nuclear fire in my mouth.  the only relief i got was in between mouthfuls, when i can momentarily breathe, talk, and be happy i’m still alive!  the next mouthfuls were more incendiary than the ones before it, because the ones before left the inside of my mouth still aflame.  by the fourth mouthful, i have already developed beads of sweat on my forehead and my entire face felt flushed and sweating profusely.  i could hardly manage a smile — game face on.  though the spicy noodles didn’t bring me to tears (as it did some subjects), my mouth was all singedmy cheeks were swelling, and i thought my tongue would fall off!

i did not drink water (which i know worsens the condition), or milk, or eat ice cream to quell the conflagration.  five minutes after i finished the challenge, my mouth was still stinging with spicy heat.

a friend reminded me after watching the video i posted, “isn’t that contrary to keto?  i said, “it’s my cheat day!”

i just issued a challenge to (nominated) two of my facebook friends, gerry munda (one of my best friends in high school.  he found a korean store that sold the samyang 2x spicy and bought a couple of packs.  i asked him to also buy me a couple), and philip cu (a fil-chi friend, a foodie who i know loves spicy hot food, now based in SG).  awaiting their video…

was the challenge worth it?  yes, every mouthful!  😋😋

 

paranoia

paranoia, the baseless fear that there is an evil plot against you; that people you see pass by your house are spies who are part of the conspiracy.

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this was the kind of paranoia that afflicted me.  it was not a constant fear, but manifested itself from time to time, in episodes, like spells. it also manifested itself in a couple other ways:

when i am in a public place like a cafeteria or restaurant, and see a group of people in a huddle — i was certain they were talking about me.  they weren’t saying good things about me, but nasty, unkind things.  sometimes, alone in my bedroom, i could even hear them talking, i could hear their voices through the walls.

but my nastiest and most horrifying experience of paranoia was seeing (in my peripheral vision, when i look slightly down) the faces of people sitting across from me melt and disfigure into hideous demons frowning at me.

Clem_Ritz

all this was a result of drug abuse.  i had already quit.  i was already into rehab.  but the damage that drugs have caused in my brain’s perceptions of reality remained.  my problem wasn’t merely psychological, it was physiological — drugs have messed up my brain’s bio-chemical equilibrium.

i was regularly injected with an anti-psychotic drug to correct the chemical imbalance in my brain that caused the hallucinations — the paranoia.  i was also given depressants to slow down my thoughts and make me droopy and drowsy, unable (now) to further conceive conspiracy theories.

after six months or so of drug treatment, the chemical imbalance was corrected and my brain had altogether ceased from inventing malevolent plots plotted against me… and involuntarily conjuring up frowning demon faces.