Pinoy Elements in Villa Escudero

If I am to choose a place where to bring a foreigner-friend so as to fully immerse him to the culture of the Philippines, I would choose Villa Escudero in Tiaong Quezon. 

team langit in front of the museum

Villa Escudero seem to contain and characterize a wide assortment of a true Filipino culture.  Employees from engineering, to servers, to housekeeping and receptionists are all comfortably dressed in the traditional “patadyong” for the ladies and the colorful “camisa de chino” are worn by the guys.

The structures of Villa Escudero room accommodations are all native, characteristic of the traditional Filipino house known as “Bahay Kubo”.  Villa Escudero also boasts of a marvelous museum collection, majority of which are about the rich Filipino religion, clothings, history and even fauna.

After a glorious Filipino buffet lunch right in the middle of a river with a man-made waterfalls as a backdrop, guests will get to enjoy and watch a Filipino show inside a humongous pavilion.  The show features various uniquely Filipino dances, costumes and customs.  I particularly loved the energetic TInikling dance, the funny vignette about Sabong, the robust and brawny Maglalatik and of course the singing of the song Filipinas at the end of the show.  The show boasts about its authenticity for it was conceptualized and choreographed by the late Filipino National Artist for Dance, Mr. Ramon Obusan. 

Then later in the afternoon, guests would get to enjoy and listen to a “harana” (a serenade).  In the old days in the Philippines, a way for a suitor to woo a lady is by having a visit in the lady’s house.  But prior to being allowed inside the lady’s abode, the suitor needs to sing by the lady’s window otherwise known as the Harana

If the young lass showed up through her window, it means that the admirer will be welcomed inside the house after he finish his singing.  But if the lady refuse to show up and face the singing dude by her window, it signifies that she is not interested towards the guy singing outside. In Villa Escudero, their male employees get to sing old and traditional Filipino song in front of the houses where guests are billeted as if they are doing a “harana”.

But what I am most impressed about the authentic Filipino element present in Villa Escudero was its excellent food selection during breakfast.  Never have I seen a buffet breakfast as Filipino as that of the selection of dishes served in Villa Escudero! 

pinoy breakfast!

It seem that all remarkable Filipino breakfast dishes are featured in their buffet.  Aside from the usual fruits, yogurt, cereals, jams, milk and eggs, there were Filipino breakfast varieties like Champorado, Singangag, Lannganisa, Lugaw, Gatas Ng Calabao, Suman Sa Lihiya, Bibingka, Crispy Danggit, Crispy Dilis, Quesong Puti and of course Kapeng Barako.

Why do I know all these?  It is because Villa Escudero was again the chosen venue of Nengkoy for her to celebrate her 81st birthday.  Six years ago, this was the same venue for Nengkoy’s 75th birthday.  Villa Escudero no matter what year we visit still has the same authentic Filipino elements for everybody to enjoy.

nengkoy having buffet lunch by the water falls
i love it here…

Ay Lab Bilya Eskudero…

Nengkoy’s Snail Mails

I have one seem-to-be-odd and old-fashioned question.

I won’t be asking you what your wishes this Christmas are.  Neither would I ask where are you gonna spend it.  I won’t inquire whom your gonna spend it with or what look are you gonna don with on that joyous day.  My question would be: Do you remember when was the last time you sent a Christmas card to a friend or a relative through the classic postal mail?

With the advent of the internet, convenience of the social media and the availability of modern day apps, I’m pretty sure you cannot remember.  Or maybe, if you’re really young and part of the millennial generation, I guess you haven’t even sent yet a letter through snail mail.

I have sent a couple of merry Christmas greetings already via social media for the past few days, but Nengkoy still settles for the classic and traditional mode.  Just 2 weeks ago, she showed me a bunch of envelopes filled with Christmas cards to be sent to relatives in USA and Canada via old-style and old-fashioned postal mail.  And while taking photos of these classic form of greetings, out of nowhere, I suddenly wanted to receive a Christmas card sent via snail mail.  It would be one earnest feeling, I guess.

nengkoy's snail mails
nengkoy’s snail mails
3 generations: neil, nengkoy and my nephew gabby, a millennial who I guess has not yet sent a letter via classic postal mode
3 generations: neil, nengkoy and my nephew gabby, a millennial who I guess has not yet sent a letter via classic postal mode

Though I no longer remember, I have sent letters and greeting cards via postal mail in the past.  And I know how much time and effort that is poured in handwriting as well as the time and effort of going to the nearest postal station.

Handwritten letters and classic greetings cards for me is a beautiful thing.  Merry greetings received through this mode, I guess, is warmer, sincerer and more heartfelt.    It is one art, culture and tradition that is unfortunately on its verge of extinction.

But going back to my question if you happen to remember when the last time you sent a snail mail was. Nengkoy for sure can easily answer such an odd and old-fashioned question.

Klasik ng lola mo!

Ringing the Massive Bell of Bosingak

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent Seoul trip was something unplanned and unexpected.  Me and my colleagues were lucky enough to be at the right place and at the right time when we happen to experience one traditional South Korean ceremony.

bonsingak: a totally different belfry
bonsingak: a totally different belfry

During the Joseon Dynasty, the Bosingak Belfry was used to keep time.  In the very old days when Seoul was still enclosed by 4 main gates, the bell of Bosingak would ring 33 times at 4:00 AM so as to signify that people can be allowed to enter Seoul.  And by 10:00 PM, the bell again would ring 28 times to alert the public that the gates to the city are closing.

On our way to Insadong (one shopping capital in Seoul), just outside Jonggak subway station, we happen to pass by one oriental-looking structure.  Being first timers and tourists of South Korea, we of course were lured to take photos of the massive building.  When we were called to step in at the rather old compound and was informed that entrance for free, we temporarily suspended our shopping itinerary at Insadong and instead marveled at the beautiful structure in front of us.

i love the colors...
i love the colors…
ring my bell... hahaha!
ring my bell… hahaha!
high fashion!
high fashion!

While taking photos of ourselves, the buildings and the guards in traditional and colorful Korean clothing, we were told that we can participate in the day’s ringing of the bell ceremony.  But before we were allowed to hit the bell with a massive wooden log suspended from the ceiling, we were told to first change into Korean traditional costumes.  The changing into colorful Korean clothes even made this awesome experience more unforgettable.

And at 12 high noon, we were hitting the massive bell of Bosingak to alarm the whole Seoul, South Korea!  And after this awesome experience, we were so inspired, ended up buying lots of traditional South Korean goodies at Insadong.

Kampanerang kuba ang peg!

Keeping Up To The Pinoy Underwear New Year Tradition

Late in the morning today, Jan 1, a new friend whom I met in New York shared/posted in his Facebook page a video and article that highlights the tradition of what underwear color men wears when welcoming the New Year.  Interestingly enough my country, the Philippines, is included in the video feature.  And I was not surprised to find out that men in my country wears polka dots!

get lucky!
get lucky!

The researchers of The Underwear Expert really did their homework.  To support this claim, I am exactly one of those who wore polka dot last December 31st and when I welcome the year 2016.

nice booty!
nice booty!

The round shape being a symbol for money, wearing anything polka dotted in the Philippines during New Year’s Eve is believed to bring prosperity all year round.

This tidbit of a tradition has been instilled upon me by my beautiful and fashionista grandmother, Lola Teray (Nengkoy’s mom).  I remember during the early years when Lola Teray was still alive, she and her sisters (Lola Sario and Lola Beheng) would make sure to wear polka dot “daster” (house dress) every New Year’s Eve believing that it would bring good fortune in the coming year.

Pwet kung pwet!

Have a Haircut or Shoot Your Face

new year 2016
photo not mine…

Call it silly, call it insane.  But it has been my personal belief and tradition to have a haircut on the last day of the year.  I don’t know, but it brings me luck.

Like the Chinese, I believe that having a haircut on the first week of the New Year also cuts off your good luck that you’re supposed to receive throughout the year.  That is also why I have a haircut on the last day of the year.  But since I am thankfully not Chinese, I observe this belief every December 31.

While having my haircut, the TV set is turned on inside the salon.  News about the statistics of stray bullets hitting innocent kids all over the Philippines is rising according to the news flash.

The tradition of igniting firecrackers to welcome the New Year is supposed to be for fun and supposed to drive away the evil spirits according to some baseless belief.

smoking gun
photo not mine…

But a pretty good amount of moronic people would rather fire their guns indiscriminately so as to create a loud sound without knowing the deadly consequence it may result to innocent people who would be hit by the stray bullet.  This thoughtless act is what is silly and what is insane!

While having my haircut, I then thought of the idea that these dim-witted people should instead aim their guns to their very own faces.  This would definitely reduce the number of evil spirits of this planet.

Have a safe and lucky New Year’s Eve celebration everyone!

Itutuk mo sa mukha mo para mabawasan na ang ibil ispirit. Hahaha!

Hanami in Osaka

Some people believe that blossoming of flowers at the start of spring is one of life’s simple pleasures.  But not in Japan,  because here in Japan, the blossoming of cherry blossoms (known as Sakua) is such a BIG DEAL!  It is such a big deal that they were able to establish one fantastic tradition known as Hanami Picnics.

hanami3
hanami

hanami2

During limited number of weeks when the Sakura are in full bloom until the latter days when it falls of from its branches, people of Japan gather under the cherry blossom trees to watch and appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms.  This tradition of barbeques, bento boxes and Japanese alcoholic drinks in the park ushers the start of colorful spring.

hanami food
notice the ochiba (fallen sakura petal) at the left side of the blue plastic mat
hanami4
me and my niece (japan’s ms. congeniality)

Today, I personally experienced what it is to experience an Hanami Picnic.  Thanks to my niece (Japan’s Miss Congeniality) who brought me and my family along to the Hanami Party organized by her Brazilian-Japanese friend.  Our picnic spot was at a park around the Osaka Castle in Osakajo.  I can definitely say that Hanami is one rare experience.  Yes I can have a picnic anytime in any part of the world, but this event is one authentic adventure.

Piknik na ibang level…

Dilemma On Quaresma: The Modernized Pabasa

pabasawithmicrophoneIts Maundy Thursday today and the traditional Pabasa Ng Pasyon (Chanting of Christ’s Passion) literally kept me up all night.  Not because I joined the bandwagon this year of chanting in monotonous tone the narratives of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Lord Jesus but because a community right beside the building where I live chose to chant the Pasyon in loud and proud manner utilizing a microphone with humongous sets of speakers.

I know Pabasa Ng Pasyon is considered to be a unique Filipino communal tradition which would run during the whole span of the Holy Week.  But do devotees today really have to use a microphone to fulfill this religious meditation? What about those who opted to follow the tradition of shutting their mouth and ears to find peace and serenity during the observance of the Holy Week?

I am not saying that Pabasa should be stopped in all corners of the land what I am trying to point out is that this tradition should be kept and observed in the traditional manner, that is, speaker-less, microphone-less with merely raw, genuine and unprocessed chants.

In my personal opinion, using microphones and speakers in Pabasa denotes artless, insincere and contrived expression and profession of the Catholic faith.  It no longer sounds the way I used to hear it – exotic, bizarre and mysterious.  For me, using these modern technological equipments turns the “modernized” Pabasa into nothing but a thoughtless, vain and immodest show.

It’s the Holy Week no one should be playing or making loud music for Pete’s sake!  I just hope the ear fatiguing sound from the nearby colony of human beings would stop while I write this post otherwise this week is turning out to be one unholy week.

Mataimtim na kwaresma para sa lahat…