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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death-salt & death-pepper

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death, or dying, is how a friend (a university professor) described the experience of wasabi in his mouth.  the aftermath… life from the dead!  a resurrection… of sorts.

what i hear often describing the experience of wasabi in the mouth is that it is “hot” — like chili-pepper-hot.  we have a word for it in tagalog — maanghang.

i don’t describe it as maanghang.  instead, i describe the experience of wasabi in the mouth as an allergic reaction — a strong involuntary repulsion to a potent chemical.

when the wasabi paste touches my upper palate, it sends electrical signals into the nasal cavities, singes up and around my skull, causing my entire head to shiver and quiver for a few seconds.  it takes my breath away — literally!  the aftermath is a teary-eyed sigh of relief from the terrible onslaught.

but, the entire experience is altogether a pleasurable one, albeit, the initial onslaught feels terribly powerful.  this is the reason, i think, my friend (the professor) describes his experience as a death, or as dying… but to live again afterwards.  this is also the reason why i love to repeat the experience over and over again, a few times.

now, the wasabi i am talking about, is not the real deal wasabi that the japanese gourmets use — according to some expert.  it is just an imitation.  so what!  it’s the death-experience that makes even the ‘alternative’ wasabi worth dipping your favourite sushi or sashimi on.

now, this death-salt & death-pepper (photo above) is wasabi-salt & wasabi-pepper — pulverized salt with pulverized wasabi and pulverized pepper with pulverized wasabi, in salt & pepper shakers.  it was given by a friend who just arrived from japan.  i may not be able to read the label, but i know the taste of salt and pepper, even wasabi laced salt & pepper.

i know a little japanese… he owns a ramen noodle house.

that’s why it’s called a schnauzer

i met a handful of new people on our weekend vacation in siquijor.  meeting new people is not really my thing.  in fact, it is one thing in my “avoid list”.  but, it was something i was unable to avoid.

i was unable to avoid meeting this lovely, young, backpacking german couple, students from berlin — julian allgaier and louise apelt, (hmm… aliases?)

we called them over, as they were on their way out the park, and our group just settled in at a picnic table for mid-afternoon snacks.  we called them over to have some food, to which they happily obliged.

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they dug into whatever we offered them : mashed cassava sweetened with lumps of brown sugar, boiled cassava in sugar syrup, charcoal-roasted banana, glutinous rice cakes, and plain-salted steamed tulingan.  they enjoyed all the food, the company, and the conversations.

louise said that filipinos are beautiful.  in the case of germans, she said, you need to look for beautiful germans, (but she is beautiful); and the british, she said, are ugly; but the filipino face had good proportion.

“eat some more!” i replied, “here, have more food!”  so, julian added, “the filipinos are really very beautiful!”  everybody joined in, “here, have more food!”  we all had a good laugh!

when i told them i was going to write about this meeting in my blog, julian asked me the title of my blog.  he couldn’t get exactly what i was saying, so i had to spell each word out, “the” t-h-e, “stray” s-t-r-a-y, “schnauzer” s-c-h-n-a-u-z-e-r, “with no spaces in between the words.”

when i got to finish spelling schnauzer, julian was quizzical.

he said, “oh… mustache???  schnauzer is german for mustache.”  

i replied, “ahh, i see… schnauzer… it’s the dog… with a mustache… (so that’s why it’s called a schnauzer!)”

so that’s why it’s called a schnauzer!