Sunday, October 30, 2016

On open spaces for the general public

This long weekend is something a lot of people were looking forward to to have a break before the long Christmas season. Undas is a time for homecomings as people flock to their respective hometowns to honor those who passed away. These cemeteries and memorial parks become very crowded when, for most of the year, these are usually quiet areas where few people venture to. But what if we had more open spaces where people can enjoy walks, picnics or simply getting together or perhaps do some solitary time? We don't have much of these despite so much encouragement as well as studies and example pointing to such open spaces (e.g., parks) enhancing quality of life and health of people. What I wanted to point out here is actually that we need to have more public areas in our cities and towns, and local governments should invest in these for the welfare of their constituents.

Here is a couple of panoramic photos I took at Lingayen during a recent trip showing the expanse of the public park near the beach and the beach itself facing Lingayen Bay.

Lingayen Park behind the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol complex is a wide expanse where people converge to picnic or take a walk. There are no structures here, which I thought was not necessarily a good thing considering the area is very exposed to the environment. I guess the local or provincial government can design and construct a few structures for shelter but these structures need to be designed according to the locale and using native building materials. And then there is also the need for proper maintenance. Perhaps considering all these concerns help make a case against structures in the first place?
Sunset at Lingayen Beach - its not white sands like what attract tourists to Boracay, Bohol or Cebu but the beach is clean, the waters are also clean and warm. You can become envious of what people here have in terms of public open spaces. Historically, maybe its hard to imagine for some that these beaches were where Japanese forces landed en masse in 1941 during the Second World War as they invaded the Philippines, which was then under the United States. I can imagine these beaches and Lingayen Park swarming with soldiers and military equipment, and with warships filling the bay to provide naval support to landing troops.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Dagupan market

My recent trip to Dagupan City in Pangasinan Province allowed me to have some change in environment. It had been a while since I went out to do field work and I was looking forward to this trip since it had also been a long time that I had been in this part of the country. Dagupan is famous for seafood and particularly the bangus or milkfish that fishermen raise in the surrounding areas. Pangasinan is also visited by a lot of pilgrims particularly the town of Manauag, which is well known because of the image of Our Lady to whom many miracles have been attributed. The Shrine in Manauag, of course, deserves a separate post that I will likely write in November.

On our way back the day after our field work, we decided to go to the market to shop for seafood. There, I was able to take a few photos of shops and items I bought. My only regret was not being able to take a photo of the bangus (milkfish) at the market.

There were many shops selling dried seafood. I bought danggit, dulong, tuyo, squid and espada. It was definitely cheaper compared to prices in Metro Manila and these were not the salty kind.
A closer look at the different types (according to size) of dried squid
This shop sold kakanin or rice cakes. These are the famous puto Calasiao, which are supposed to originate from the next town but are also made and sold in Dagupan. Shown are two variants - the plain puto (steamed rice cakes) and the puto with cheese. These were being sold by the kilogram and I bought one kilo of each to bring home.
I forget what they called their version of suman, which was typically made of glutinous rice and coconut milk. The wrap is made of coconut leaves.
I enjoy going to the market every time I visit places like Dagupan. Markets are where you can get the best prices for local goods including food and souvenirs. I always get dried fish whenever I find these and coastal cities and towns definitely have seafood in abundance so you have a lot of variety, the quality is really good and the prices low.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Some thoughts about the current Philippine situation

I find it amusing that many apologists react quickly about the President's comments; providing their own interpretations - twisting here, wagging there, spinning everywhere.  There's really no need for such if the guy can just control his tongue assuming of course that he can also control his thinking. Its not an excuse that he told people he was like that and still they voted for him. He, too, must rise to the occasion and be the President people voted for. 

We didn't vote for a Mayor last May and if he wants, he can always go back to being one instead if president. I suspect though that many but not all those around him want him to stay put simply because they have so much at stake here especially in terms of power. I won't go into the details of whom I suspect are the ones with much interest here but I am sure many observers would not find it difficult to  identify these. Perhaps they will end up losing a lot of money from the favors they get from being in power and in the position to peddle influence?

As for the apologists, the attempts to explain, justify, attribute (e.g., the person being a master strategist, of being adept at foreign policy and geopolitics, etc.) and even glorify fail in the face of facts. Unfortunately, there are so much misinformation going around and the very same apologists seem to fall for information that fit their beliefs rather than lift a finger or two to determine the veracity of the (mis)information they also tend to share in social media. I have encountered many who similarly believe in hoaxes and are quick to click the share button on Facebook. And then of course, there are those at a safe distance (i.e., abroad and probably for the long term if not for good) whose views and arguments are questionable. These include those who would likely (if they have not yet done so) vote for Trump in the next US elections.  

Kawawa naman iyung mga napapaniwala (o naloko?) noong kampanya.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Sigs Smokehouse, Maginhawa Street

The first time I heard about Sigs Smokehouse was from the wife. She had learned about it from a friend whose son owned the place. I had told her about another restaurant that offered as its most popular item smoked ribs and she countered that there was this other restaurant along Maginhawa Street that specialized in smoked meat. I saw some ads about this popping up on my Facebook feed so it was nice to finally try it out. My colleagues and I actually wanted to try it out for lunch but it was closed on Mondays and we had to come back a second time to finally eat there.

Sigs has a nice selection of beers and other drinks
The sides reminded us of Kenny Rogers'
Simple interior and furnitures
They have a mezzanine, taking advantage of the high ceiling to have more space for customers
Smoked Wagyu
Pork ribs
Smoked chicken
Pulled pork
"Dirty" rice
Sigs Smokehouse offers a good selection of smoked meats and we thought it was really good. The servings are on the generous side and so I recommend coming as a group so everyone can order one item and everyone can share. We loved their specialty "dirty" rice, which was actually rice infused with select herbs and spices. I forget exactly which ones but it was fragrant and matched perfectly with the smoked meats. For first timers, go for the wagyu and/or the pulled pork. Corn also works very well with the smoked meats. Price-wise, I thought it was just right given the quality and quantity of the servings. I saw that they offered discounts to some UP Engineering organizations so perhaps the owner or one of the owners is from the UP College of Engineering (an alumnus perhaps?). Sigs Smokehouse is located at a building along Maginhawa St. at the left just after the intersection with Malingap St. if you are coming from UP.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Global Street Design Guide

Here's another quick post and more on the 'work' aspect of my life. I just wanted to share this article with a link to a Global Street Design Guide that was developed by the National Association of City Transport Officials (NACTO) in the United States (US). It's a nice guide that's based on the experiences of many cities in the US including transformations that have made commuting more efficient, enhanced mobility and, most important of all, improved safety. Following is the link to a more direct link to the guide:

NACTO and the Global Designing Cities Initiative Release Global Street Design Guide

This will be a good reference in the Philippines where many cities are in need of transformation to address current and future challenges in transportation.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Elusive Barcelona

The Clairvoyant was supposed to be traveling today to Europe for their annual firm meeting to be held at Barcelona, Spain. It was not to be as she had to undergo surgery and is now recovering from it. It's actually the second time that she was not able to go to Barcelona for their company's annual meeting. The first time was just after she joined the firm and she couldn't go because it was too late to apply for and get a visa to travel to Europe. This is the second after more than a decade, and so she's 0 for 2 in terms of a trip to Barcelona.

I guess it was just not meant to be for now. That is, the travel to Barcelona, which she was looking forward to. We always joked about how nice it would be to go the "motherland" a term we used as our country used to be under Spain. No matter the issues then, we're pretty sure there was some good imparted from Spain's occupation of the Philippines from the 1570s to 1898. Of course, Barcelona itself offers many attractions including and especially Sagrada Familia. And then there is the food and the places to eat at that we've seen in many TV shows. An added attraction for this trip would have been a trip to Camp Nou, F.C. Barcelona's home stadium, where their firm was supposed to have arranged for as a formal dinner venue.

She'll get another shot at Barcelona though as next May, there will be another conference to be held there that she usually participates in. As they say, three's the charm and so maybe she'll get to go. It's for May next year so there is also the likelihood our daughter and I get to go. We're just crossing our fingers until then and again look forward to that trip if and ever we or she gets to travel to Barcelona.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Jacobo's seafood & grill, Dagupan City

Provincial trips allow me the pleasure of eating at new places. In a recent trip to Dagupan City in Pangasinan Province to the northwest from Metro Manila, We had dinner at Jacobo's Seafood and Grill. My colleagues were in Dagupan a couple of months ago to coordinate with a client for a study in that city and although the places they ate at were decent enough, they wanted to check out another restaurant they spotted there.

Well lighted by rather small sign along the highway - it was easy to pass the restaurant if you weren't looking for it
Another sign, also quite small for a restaurant along the highway
Bridges made out of bamboo and other wood connect the dining areas of this restaurant that's on stilts and over the brackish waters around Dagupan City.
Diningding is a local vegetable dish that's not really all vegetable
Jacobo's take on fried chicken
Boneless bangus - the pride of Dagupan and neighboring towns that have a lot of fish pens raising milkfish
Jacobo's was okay but not really extraordinary or special. Most of the items in the menu are your typical seafood and grill types and the drinks are quite limited (no buko juice!). There's also nothing so special about the way they prepared, cooked or served the food so I would say they're basically just another roadside restaurant that's good for meals but not really a place you would seek out and go out of your way for lunch or dinner.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Status symbols of many years past

I have always been amused about the plaques prominently displayed in front of old houses in the provinces. You don't usually see these in Metro Manila (there are old houses in Manila with the same plaques) and I haven't seen it in areas near Metro Manila. The plaques to me are from bygone days when the status symbol wasn't that you had a huge house or several cars. Back in the day and maybe at present to some people at least, the pride is in how many professionals each household or family has 'produced'. The more plaques mean more members of the family (e.g., children) who have finished college, attained degrees and perhaps passed the licensure exams. Thus, you see plaques proudly displayed outside indicating someone being an engineer, lawyer, doctor, nurse, accountant and other professions.

An old home along the Dagupan-Mangaldan-San Fabian road. The year when this house was made is displayed in front at the top - 1936.

Noticeable to passers-by below the second floor window are six plaques bearing the names of people who probably were or are part of the family who owns this home. Also indicated are their professions showing that there are, for example, engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. in the family.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Warehouse, Seafood & Ribs Restaurant, Palo, Leyte

This is a late post because we were in Leyte back in August and not recently. After our meetings were over, our hosts took us out for a side trip and dinner. Instead of going around Tacloban City, we instead went to the next town, Palo, which is the site of the Leyte landings back in 1945, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise of returning and liberating the Philippines from the occupying Japanese forces. After our visit and photo ops, we drove to a nearby restaurant that we learned was quite popular not just among Palo residents but also to Taclobanons, too.

Warehouse seafood & ribs restaurant is along the national road just past the junction to the government center. It is 'paluto' style so you get to select the seafood and/or meat at front and give instructions on how you want it cooked.

Roadside sign
A peak inside the restaurant
Interesting door made out of wood from old crates
There were already many diners when we arrived.
Accent wall inside the restaurant
View of the restaurant from our
Sinigang, Waray style
Garlic prawns
Baked scallops
Pinakbet, Waray style
I forgot what this fish was called there but the grilled dish was very good and just what we expected in a good restaurant
Tuna belly just the way we liked it
Our meals at Warehouse were very good and just what we liked about traveling outside Metro Manila and especially in Visayas where the seafood is great. The restaurant is highly recommended although I am sure there are many good places to eat in Tacloban. The seafood was fresh and they were good in cooking according to how diners wanted their food.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Old photos: Cabatuan, Iloilo

My old Pentax camera had a panorama feature that I liked to use even though it cost me more whenever I had these developed and printed. I remember I had a collection of panoramic photos but most of the negatives and prints didn't survive Ketsana's (Ondoy's) floods. One of the early panorama photos I took was of my father's hometown of Iloilo from atop the Balik hill the town uses as Mt. Calvary for its Lenten activities. I recall that my cousins and I just finished climbing the hill together with hundreds of others and marveled at the view of the town. I made sure to get a panoramic shot and it sure seemed the most appropriate to take as a souvenir back then. It still is now.

Cabatuan town as seen from atop Balik hill - the most identifiable landmark is at center left, the centuries old Catholic Church at the town plaza


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Old photos: Kegon no taki, Nikko National Park

I'm starting a new series of posts featuring photos I've taken quite some time ago. These are photos I took with my old camera, using good old film. My first camera was a Pentax 140mm point and shoot that had many other features. I got it during my first visit to Japan in February 1996. I remember I got it for about 36,000 yen or about 12,000 pesos given the exchange rate at the time. The camera survives today and I plan to use it again to take more photos. I just need to get me some film.

This is a panoramic photo of Kegon Falls I took sometime in 1997 during my only trip to Nikko National Park. I was actually invited to Utsunomiya University by a Dr. Mamoru Nagai, who was a Visiting Professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman when I was a newly hired faculty member there. When he learned that I was in Japan as a post graduate student, he invited me and a good friend to visit his university. His main researches were on transport and tourism and after some research presentations at his laboratory, we headed out to Nikko National Park. We stayed there overnight and enjoyed its onsen (hot spring spa). We also did some pretty serious hiking to see the various waterfalls, springs, lakes and other features of the national park.

Kegon no taki
I have been able to recover negatives from that first 'expedition' in Japan in 1997. I will be posting those soon. I think this trip to Nikko and others like it around Japan were among my most memorable. It's a good thing that I have some left despite the losses due to the Typhoon Ketsana in 2009.