my neighbour at casa lillibelle

we are back at casa lillibelle in cabangan, zambales. as i said in my previous blog — quoting the terminator — “i’ll be back!” and we are back, back so soon. we were here just april.


today is christmas eve.

my family decides to spend the holiday out in this lovely beachfront resort. we rent a room and occupy a hut on the beach.

one small group (4 persons and 2 dogs) is already there, and they occupy the first hut. we obviously settle for the second (middle) hut. the last hut is empty. these huts are a few steps from the sea.


our solo neighbours are not run-of-the-mill beach goers. they are not loud, but subdued, quiet; like the sea when at noontide, just a few alternate waves splashing on the shore making you aware it is there. our neighbours are there, in the first hut, yes.

dinner time, while i was out and most of my family were starting to eat, the main man, my neighbour, comes over to our hut. he offers my family a couple slices of his inihaw na liempo, which they readily accept.

“eto po, o,” my neighbour said, as he hands them the inihaw on a paper plate. he goes back to his hut without further ado.

i couldn’t offer our neighbour anything in return. the 5-kg slab of cebu-style lechon belly i brought was reserved for noche buena. i couldn’t touch it until midnight.


after dinner, i go outside to buy ice at a nearby sari-sari store. on my way back to our hut, i pass by my neighbour’s hut to thank him personally for his kindness. i offer my neighbour ice for their drinks but he declines and said they had plenty.

wait… that face and that familiar voice!

deep into the night, i wrestle and torture my mind to put a name to my neighbour, the main man. he was that young newscaster moulded in an old cast — the likes of tina palma, angelo castro, harry gasser, bong lapira; and not that of ‘kabayan’ noli de castro, ‘kapuso’ mike enriquez, or ‘igan’ arnold clavio. his was straight news, no squanks. but the name escapes me.

we partake our noche buena before midnight.

our neighbours had already packed up, went up their room, and had called it a night. early. but one of them comes back to the hut and walks the dog on the shore.

i go over and offer him a chunk of our cebu-style lechon belly, which he accepts. he said he’d take it to their room for the others to share.


MJ, with joanne and baby monet II, owner/propreitor of casa lillibelle.

we have another neighbour — the propreitor/owner of casa lillibelle — MJ. MJ comes over to our hut as we eat noche buena. we offer him whisky and he gladly accepts.

dude speak… then he mentions our neighbour, the main man, and tells us he was also a regular at casa lillibelle. MJ asks if i knew him. i tell MJ i’ve been torturing my head all night trying to recall the newscaster’s name.

MJ tells us his name: jing magsaysay.

december 25. i bump into my neighbour this morning at casa lillibelle’s parking area.

“merry christmas!” i said.
“merry christmas!” he said.


college days comfort food


back in my college days, whenever i was home and got hungry in the middle of the night, i would look for leftovers in the fridge and mix everything i find all up in fried rice.  i would also fry a couple of eggs sunny-side-up and open a can of hunt’s pork and beans.  i would arrange it all in a plate for a sumptuous midnight snack.  my mother gets awestruck whenever she sees me doing this.

it might sound unusual but hunt’s pork and beans and fried eggs are comfort food to me.

i remember how my mother would prepare my sunny-side-up eggs with rice.  she’d cut up the eggs in the rice (like a bibimbap, but way, way before it became popular here) then mix it all up with sugar.  yes, sugar.  it becomes a sweet, salty, and creamy meal i enjoyed.  i grew up loving it until i forgot everything about it when i became a teenager.  then fairly recently, about 5 years ago, it all came rushing back.  i tried it again (after more than 40 years) with 3 eggs and a cup of rice, plus 2 tablespoons sugar.  wow!  that was good!  been doing it since.

i miss the old version of hunt’s pork and beans.  the joke going around why it’s called PORK (singular) and beans is because there is literally only one piece of pork fat you’ll find swimming somewhere above the mass of beans and sauce after you pour it on a bowl.  but taking in that melt-in-your-mouth piece of fat is the most satisfying thing about eating hunt’s pork and beans.  the new version is disgusting.  the company replaced the single piece of pork fat with multiple pieces of what-they-made-to-appear-as-meat-but-in-fact-looks-like-mouse-droppings-or-pigeon-pellets in an effort to have ‘more meat’ in the can.  epic fail!  so, hunt’s pork and beans has become less enjoyable as a result, but still nonetheless, my “go to” comfort food.

i cook for my family.  recently i went crazy over steak, always dreaming about cooking steak.  i used to be crazy over pork belly, crispy pata, and pata tim.  and pizza!  but once in a blue moon, i feel too lazy to cook.  today is one such day.

time for some college days comfort food.


boston sweet swat


a fly was buzzing inside our bedroom, circling around our airspace then landing on either a part of the bed or an immobile part of our bodies, our legs (my wife’s or mine.)

“get rid of it,” jane (my wife) said.

“ok, i will,” i said.

i looked for a newspaper and rolled it in 4 folds, to get a good, wide and flat surface area to swat the fly with, but still have a good handle on the newspaper roll with a single hand.  fail!  fail!  and another fail!  the fly could see the swatter coming even before it got near him.

“ha! ha! ha!” the fly said, “catch me if you ca-an!”

then, it occurred to me — the boston sweet swat!  i remember reading about this technique (of killing a fly) in college more than 30 years ago in a science magazine — popular science or discover.

the technique uses the flies limitations against it.  the technique posits that a fly on a flat surface far from any visible edge, when threatened by a (visual) attack on both sides, will instinctively fly straight up.  any other scenario enables the fly to escape: if there is an edge in sight, or the ground where it lands is uneven, or if the attack is on only one side, it would be easy for the fly to evade it and escape unharmed.  but on a flat surface with no visible edge in sight… that fly is a sitting duck for a boston sweet swat.

now, it’s a waiting game…

the boston sweet swat.  position your hands, palms facing each other about 10-12 inches apart.  approach the fly from behind and place your hands about 6 inches above ground zero, where it landed.  align the fly at center, on equal distance between your palms.  now, clap — the fly will fly straight up between your closing palms.  swoosh… bam!

“did you kill it?”

“see for yourself.”

one dead fly.

divisoria: ang liit ng mundo

“ang liit ng mundo,” ika ng mga magkakakilalang nagkikita ng di-sadya sa isang lugar na malayo sa karaniwan.

sinamahan ko si jane, si ‘kumander’ (kolokyal ng ‘misis’) sa divisoria.  bumili sya ng mga ‘kukur’ (yan ang tawag namin noong araw sa tela ng suot ng mga mapormang baduy) o kukurtinahin.  namili na rin syang maaga ng mga pamaskong panregalo — para sa mga inaanak, anak, at anak-anakan… at sa mga paslit na mamamasko sa kanya sa opisina.  (aba syempre, di malilimutang ibili ang paboritong apo, si skyler!)  kung sakaling isa ka sa mga makatanggap ng regalong mukhang mamahalin at high-class ang hitsura… eh, galing divisoria yan!  kung mukha namang mumurahin… eh, galing divisoria yan!

eh, sa liit ng mundo, (ika nga,) nagkita kami ni michael mendoza (tunay nyang pangalan,) sa kalye tabora.  si michael ay naglalako ng mga kadena ng aso sa tiangge sa pulilan, bulacan.  tiga-roon sya sa pulilan.  tiga-roon din ako (bagamat ngayon tiga-plaridel, bulacan na ako.)  magkalaro kami ng basketball sa lugar namin — at ilang beses na rin kaming nagkita sa tiangge sa pulilan public market pag sabado, kung saan naglalako sya ng paninda nya.

“misis ko, sinamahan ko,” sabi ko kay michael, “ako kargador, hehe.”  at pinakita ko sa kanya ang dalawang pagkalalaking supot na plastic na bitbit ko sa magkabilang kamay — bukod pa sa nakaumbok na bakpak sa dibdib ko.

“matumal dito, ambagal ng benta,” ika nya, “buti pa sa tin sa bulacan!”

makalipas ang manik-manaog at paroo’t-parito, iniwanan ko sandali si jane para makabili ako ng lona… nagkita ulit kami ni michael (ikatlong beses na) sa kalye juan luna naman.

“magpakuha nga tayo ng selfie,” sabi ko, “bihira mangyari tong ganito.”  inakbayan ko sya, sa gitna ng prusisyon ng mga mamimili.


mag aapat na oras na kaming naglilibot at namimili ni jane, sumakit na ulo naming pareho.  buti nalang, sa kainamang-palad, may botika ng chinese sa loob ng mall na pinasok namin, ang divisoria mall sa kalye tabora.

“may ibuprofen kayo?” tanong ko sa tindera.

“ay, di namin alam yun ‘ya!” ang sagot ng tindera.  (ang ‘ya’ ay pinaikling ‘kuya.’)

“eh sige, ‘white flower’ nalang,” sabi ko, “tsaka yang menthol.”  (itinuro ko yung menthol na hawig ng ‘borher ding.’)


“eh, ‘bedang kulit’ meron kayo?”


ang bubuyog na may ngiting abot-tenga

phenomenal talaga itong bubuyog na ito, na may ngiting abot-tenga at malalaking mga matang dilat at hindi kumukurap.  lahat ng mapadaan ay kung hindi mapapalingon at kakaway, ay titigil at makikipag-apir o magpapakuha ng selfie kasama sya — yan si jollibee (o jabi.)

sa kinse minutos na nag-aabang ako ng bus sa DRT hiway (ang national road na nag-uugnay sa bulacan at nueva ecija) paluwas, pinagmasdan ko itong icon (sa isang mascot) ng kulturang pilipino ‘in action’ — tatlo ang nagpakuha ng selfie, higit apat na sasakyan ang tumigil sa tapat nya, at di mabilang na sasakyang sari-sari (pampasaherong jeep, kotse, 10-wheeler truck, at ilang motorsiklo) ang nagminor pagdaan sa tapat nitong bubuyog.


sino ba naman ang di magigiliw?  habang umaalingawngaw at paulit-ulit na tinutugtog ang masiglang kantang “ang saya maging pilipino!” sa portable sound system nila, pinapanood mong kumembot-kembot at kumaway-kaway itong bubuyog na nagkatawang-tao, na napakatingkad ng kulay ng mukha, damit, at sapatos — kumbinasyon ng pula, dilaw, at puti.


sa tindi ng sikat ng araw kaninang umaga, wari ko, dahil hindi naman aircon ang loob ng mascot costume na iyon, eh baka nanlalagkit na sa pawis, hikahos at lawit na ang dila ng tao sa loob — pero sa labas… nakangiti pa rin!  malaking sakripisyo — hmm… magkano kaya bayad dun? — para lang mapasaya, hindi lang ang mga bata, kundi ang bawat pilipino… syempre, para talaga humakot ng mga parokyano sa loob… at kumita ang negosyo… at yumaman ang may-ari ng franchise!  yun oh… alam na!   subalit kasama na ako dun sa mga pinasaya, na nag-aabang lang ng bus (at nawala ang inip) paluwas.

bago pa ako makasakay (medyo madalang ang bus ngayong umagang ito, inabot ako ng kinse minutos) pumasok na muli ang bubuyog sa loob ng gusali.  subalit bago pa man ako malagpasan ng pagkakataong maisa-ala-ala ang pangyayaring ito… edi peechooran ng smartphone, at ilagay sa blog!




cochinillo español (lutong-bahay)


nag-level-up na ang handa.  kung ang dati-rating hinahanda sa hapag-kainan kung may birthday o special occasion ay crispy pata o lechon de pugon, ngayon cochinillo español na.  eh, birthday ni dea, panganay na anak namin ni jane…

hindi biro-biro ang pag level-up na to.  una, lubhang mas mahal ang magluto ng cochinillo kaysa crispy pata o lechon de pugon — mahigit doble ang gastos.  ikalawa, (on the positive side naman,) eh… lubhang mas napakasarap at mas napakalinamnam ng cochinillo kumpara sa dalawa.

hindi kasi karaniwang lechon de leche ang cochinillo español.  kakaiba ang pagluto nito.  hindi tinutuhog ng kawayan ang biik at iniikot sa baga ng ilang oras, na karaniwang paraan ng paglilitson.  niluluto ang cochinillo español sa malaking oven o pugon.

una, sa paglinis ng biik pagkatapos katayin, binibiyak ito sa likod (mula ilong, batok, patawid sa backbones, puwet, deretso sa ilalim ng hita hanggang sa pusod.)  ito ay upang maibuklat ito sa baking pan sa pagluluto.

ikalawa, pinapahiran ang laman at balat ng biik ng asin, paminta, at pinitpit na bawang, bago lutuin.

ikatlo, binabasa ng tubig ang balat ng biik habang niluluto.

at ikaapat, pinapahiran ng butter, olive oil, o magkahalong butter at olive oil ang balat nito, pag malapit na itong maluto at pinalulutong na lang ang balat.


kaya naman, hindi na kailangan pa ng sarsa o kung-anu-anong mapalamuting sawsawan para malasap ang tunay na sarap at linamnam ng cohchinillo español (kahit lutong-bahay.)


The Local Church: Foster Homes

To liken the Local Church to a family, though it sounds very intimate and appealing, does not accurately reflect the Bible’s portrayal.  It is true, however, that the Bible likens the Church to a family – not the Local (visible) Church but the Universal (invisible) Church.

Apostle Paul describes the entire Church as having only one Father, thus… there is only one family.  He said in Eph.3.14, 15, “I bow my knees to the Father… of whom the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named.”  And Apostle Paul refers to “the Church throughout all ages, world without end,” v.21.

If this is the case, i.e., that it is the Universal Church that the Bible likens to a family – to what should we liken the Local Church?

In relation to Apostle Paul’s analogy of the Universal Church belonging to one family with one Father; the Local Church may be likened to Foster Homes, where the Father’s adopted children are cared for, i.e., nourished and nurtured.  Pastors (who in another analogy are depicted as Christ’s under-shepherds) act as Foster Parents ensuring that all the Father’s children are cared for equally; and none neglected.  The Pastors of Local Churches are not the fathers – but God is the one and only Father.

Thus, there is only one Father, only one family, but many Foster Homes.

This proposition draws out (at least) five implications:

  1. All adopted children, though enlisted in different Foster Homes, are truly brothers and sisters that belong to only one family, having the same Father.
  2. Each Foster Home is governed by a set of rules/principles that may differ from other Foster Homes. The kind of discipline implemented in each Foster Home depends largely on how the Foster Parent(s) understand and interpret the ‘Universal Manual for Foster Homes.’  This Manual is widely sold in bookstores, and is also easily downloadable from the Internet.
  3. Foster Parents remain as ‘Elder Brothers’ only, but they have a serious charge from the Father of all, as “they must give account for your souls,” Heb.13.17.  They do not – ever – transform into ‘fathers.’
  4. Transferring from one Foster Home to another is not equivalent to transferring from one family to another.  It is simply transferring from the care of one Foster Home to another. Thus,
  5. Membership Status in one’s original Foster Home can change without prejudice, e.g., when a Member moves (permanently or indefinitely) out of his/her Local Foster Home, his/her Membership Status can change from “Active” to “Inactive” or to “Alumnus” (or “Former Member.”)  His/her name is taken out of the list of adopted children presently being cared for in that particular Foster Home.  He/she is (should be) now enlisted and cared for in another Foster Home.  He/she is still family…

As do all who remain.

hear ye!

i was running late entering sunday morning worship service: the liquid contents of the cup i was holding spilled all over the tiled floor as i sprinted down the aisle, leaving a delectable aroma of freshly brewed coffee all over the place.  with disheveled hair and wearing a crumpled, un-ironed shirt, i waved at everybody to their delight, and sat down gasping for breath.

i didn’t realize there was a wake in church this morning.  joyful and vibrant singing had passed away.  the whole congregation was mourning, (but clueless,) as the melody dragged its feet, as they sang, ‘glory be the God the Father, glory be to God the Son…’

then the minister stood behind the pulpit, took out the little black book, and dished out the free exposition, way above the heads of the small cosmopolitan congregation.  those who were able to reach it had longer arms than the rest and had the ability to stretch it out to grasp the lofty expressions.  the others held on to the little they could get their hands on, that was delivered just slightly above their heads.

the rest did not get much — if at all they did get anything.

some were like prophets in a trance, transported elsewhere in an altered state of consciousness — hearing words audibly in one’s head and seeing alternate visions… dreaming.

some brought their darling pets along with them and were obviously distracted all the way, to get anything of what was thrown above the heads of the listless mob.  at every turn the pet would fidget in their heads and claw on their thoughts compelling them to yield to its demands: whatever it takes to draw their attention away from the free exposition, the darling pet does.

many missed the free exposition swirling right above their heads because they were either too busy calling the attention of those people they knew needed it most and happily pointing the finger at them; others threw the free exposition back at the minister with the little black book in resentment and avowed disapproval; others, being too self-absorbed, tried to avoid spears hurling in their direction, seeing how sharp the ends were that pointed towards them.

others were not able to get much because the free exposition delivered above the heads of the congregation had already fallen on the floor and splattered in an indistinguishable mass before they could extend their hands to catch some.  all they could get to in good time were the refreshments, which were served after the free exposition.  too little… too late!

but the rest who forsake the assembly — and those who habitually do so — were slowly being transplanted by north koreans, soviets, and iraqis who would have loved free exposition, but are either prohibited, bound and imprisoned, or, happily… have been killed.

hear ye!

The Perfect Accident (5/5)

We eventually found our way and negotiated the uphill climb and the sharp turns without incident.  The only problem left was that we were running out of gas.  We had to find a gas station soon.

Because we were unfamiliar with the place, we weren’t sure if there was a gas station along the road that leads to the Sta.Rosa exit.  We couldn’t take the risk of discovering there was none.  We were quite sure that in the town proper, somewhere in the vicinity of the Tagaytay rotunda, there would be one.  Yes, there was one along the E. Aguinaldo Highway a hundred meters north of the rotunda.

As we refueled, Mon and I discussed whether to go back to the road leading to the Sta.Rosa exit, about three kilometers from where we were refueling, or to take the E. Aguinaldo Highway where we already were.  Since I was behind the wheel, I favored going back to the road leading to the Sta.Rosa exit to the Expressway to avoid going through the towns, the intersections, and the stoplights.  But Mon convinced me to take the E. Aguinaldo Highway since, he said, it was night and he expected the road to be clear of traffic.  He was right.

The road to Manila was clear and we cruised comfortably along the highway.  But since the road was dark and there were no street lamps, when we came to a fork-road in the town of Silang and saw no signboards, we decided to take the straight road instead of the road that curved left.  But the road that curved left was the right road, the E. Aguinaldo Highway.  The road that went straight was the wrong road, the road that led into the town proper.  We knew we had entered the town proper because there were tricycles here and there, the road became narrower with many small intersections, with houses, shops and street lamps along the road, and lots of people going about.

We came out again into the highway after about fifteen minutes of slowly plowing the town streets of Silang.

Apparently — in hindsight — we were still too early for the rendezvous with destiny in Dasmarinas; and despite already getting lost in the Midlands, we lost our way again! just to be at the exact place at the exact time when that man would cross the highway.


To get lost, run out of gas, lose your way a second time, then hit a man at 80 kph along a highway all in one night, happens to very, very, few people.

But for a man to get hit by a van at that speed, and break no bones, damage no organs, sustain a six-inch gash on his neck without killing him, he had to get hit at a very precise angle.  This can only happen in the Perfect Accident.  And it happened only because the Perfect hand of God had directed it all to happen.



(Note: The man was given a minimum recovery period of ten days by the neurosurgeon but he opted to get out after seven days of confinement in a ward. He was discharged upon his own insistence, against the advice of the doctor, on the seventh day. And as he went home, he was happy and thankful—and so was I—that God had given him a second lease on life.)

The Perfect Accident (4/5)

The victim also sustained a deep cut, a six-inch gash on his neck near his Adam’s apple. The cut was deep and sharp enough to cause the skin and flesh to open up like a pair of pouting lips; but not deep and sharp enough to snip the carotid artery, or rip the windpipe located just a breath and a heartbeat away.  Otherwise the victim would have died convulsing like a chicken slaughtered in the traditional way.  Unimaginable precision to the minutest detail!  That was all I could think of.

When I realized how close, literally, millimeters away, this man’s throat and artery were from being ripped and snipped, and how he had survived the force of the collision without any broken bones or damaged organs, I started putting pieces of the puzzle together and saw what (later) I had to call… The Perfect Accident.

I pieced together large chunks of how God in His sovereign wisdom allowed the events leading to the accident to unfold.  Events that, under normal circumstances, I would have passed over as everyday occurrences; but because of the near-fatal accident and the infinitesimal probabilities that accompanied it, I see, have become eerily superintended.

It all began when we missed refueling stops on our way to the wedding.  We skipped refueling at a gas station along EDSA where we were supposed to meet Joel, when he was running late for the rendezvous.  We decided to leave him and refuel later at a gas station along the South Luzon Expressway.  But we also missed this refueling stop because nobody was looking when we passed the gas station.  Every driver has missed a refueling stop once or twice without consequence — but not this time.

Later, before the wedding reception was over, a sketch of a shorter (new) route through the Calamba exit was being handed around for those with vehicles returning to Manila.  We took note of the directions and decided to try that route on our way home, instead of the usual route, the Sta.Rosa exit, where we came in.

So on our way home we took this route.  As we drove along the new route we began to feel that we were descending into what was becoming an endless road into abysmal darkness. Suddenly, the fuel warning light went on.  We decided to turn back knowing we were lost, descending into darkness, and now running out of gas.  (The refueling stops we missed now factored in.)

The pressure to find our way back and the fear of running out of gas along a dark mountain road was mounting.  Anxiety was beginning to grip us since the road from the Midlands (where we got lost) back to the Highlands (the right way) was a steep uphill climb and full of sharp curves.  It was darkness all around.