The Pleasures of Sourness

Does our taste for asim come from our sour green landscape? From the proliferation of sour-towards-sweet tastes in our fruits and vegetables? Certainly we Filipinos have a tongue, a taste, a temper for sour notes, which is one of our chief flavor principles. We not only sour our soups (sinigang) and cook sundry dishes in vinegar (paksiw, adobo); we also use vinegars (nipa, coconut) and citrus (calamansi, dayap) as dips and marinades.

—  Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot, by Doreen Fernandez

P.S. Señor Sigig, a Filipino food truck, was just featured on Bay Area food program Check, Please! Owner says everything is marinated for at least 48 hours. But the lines!

It’s Filipino/Mexican — there are burritos and nachos. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Average price of a meal: $12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mourning for Isotope, edited by Christopher Cokinos

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper,they would look like a series of waves. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

— from self’s hybrid essay/memoir/short story The Lost Language, published in Isotope

Isotope was a literary journal based in Utah State. When that university began to make steep budget cuts, the magazine lost the heart of its funding. In 2009, editor Chris Cokinos issued an appeal for support. Terrain.org posted it.

Alas, Isotope lost the fight. Self mourned. It was the only literary journal of its kind, combining science writing and creative writing, a place that joined physicists and playwrights, biologists and memoir writers, and created an exciting new kind of community.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Military History: 1899, The Philippine Revolution

It is very interesting to read an article (in the American magazine Military History) about Colonel Frederick Funston and how, on 26 April 1899, he led the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment across the Rio Grande in Pampanga to take the town of Calumpit.

On 10 January 1899, Spain ceded the Philippines to America in a dastardly move, and the Filipinos wouldn’t have it, so America was forced to send 21,000 troops to the Philippines to quell the Filipino “uprising.”

The magazine refers to the Filipinos as insurrectionists but Filipinos referred to themselves as revolutionaries. (It must be noted that the Americans possessed far superior firepower to the Filipinos. Among the weapons in the American arsenal: the first magazine-loading rifle, the Krag-Jorgensen)

Anyhoo, the magazine is full of interesting information about the Kansas Volunteers, which is a little disorienting because self’s sole reason for reading the article is to glean information about the Filipino side (who were defeated by, among other things, that high-tech Krag-Jorgensen rifle! As well as by the Americans’ expert use of  “the artillery barrage.” And by the Filipinos’ relative inexperience — most were used to fighting as guerrillas, not as part of a massed assault. The writer of the article maintains that “a third” of the Filipino fighters were without guns or rifles of any kind. They faced the Americans with bolos and wooden spears).

The article is accompanied by many, many detailed illustrations, including this colorized photograph (No photographer cited) of the 20th Kansas lined up on a bank of the Rio Grande:

DSCN9726

Colorized Photograph of the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment Lined Up on a Bank of the Rio Grande in Pampanga, the Philippines: April 26, 1899

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Husband Falls Ill, Wife Unsympathetic (THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYICH)

This is the kind of story where everything is told.

But after reading a paragraph or so, self thinks Tolstoy knows everything in the world, so it is okay for him to tell us readers everything.

The plot, such as it is, goes thus:

A bureacrat feels pain in his stomach, which he realizes a few weeks later seems connected to what he eats. The symptoms manifest at meal time, which means he becomes particularly nasty before a meal. His wife figures this out on her own as well. Tolstoy writes true to RL (Real Life): knowing the cause does not mean that Ilyich tries to correct this behavior, or that the wife is any more sympathetic to him.

His wife finally tells Ilyich see a doctor. The doctor does not tell Ilyich anything, but decides to run more tests:

Praskovya Fyodorovan’s external attitude to her husband’s illness, which she voiced to others and to him, was that Ivan Ilyich was to blame for the illness and that his whole illness was a new unpleasantnes he was causing his wife. Ivan Ilyich felt this came from her involuntarily, but that did not make it easier for him.

And there you have it, self’s first quote from Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure” : A Piece About General Yamashita

This piece appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Our Own Voice,  a magazine of the Filipino diaspora.

There’s a legend about General Yamashita, who the U.S. held accountable for war crimes in the World War II occupation of the Philippines.  Yamashita was executed shortly after the war, after a brief trial.

They say he stashed away bars of gold bullion, and treasure hunters have been trying to find the riches ever since.

Self suddenly recalled this piece after listening to Joanne Diaz, a poet, whose reading in Moe’s Books self attended last night, along with Jay D and Lillian H, who belong to her fabulous writing group.

Joanne Diaz is an AWESOME reader. Self bought the two collections that were on sale last night:  My Favorite Tyrants (which won the 2014 Brittingham Prize in Poetry), and The Lessons.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

He was a shaman. Oh, something very old.

Like the turtle you forgot about that grew to 10 times its size in your mother’s garden.

My uncle looked for the gold bars, you know.

Under the old fort.

Why would they be there?  Why would General Yamashita leave them behind? Underneath an old fort in Manila?

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jade . . .

The rest of self’s piece can be found here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Endurance 3: Various Interpretations of This Week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

Again, self knows nothing about the creator of this. sculpture. It stands just outside the Olympic Theatre (the one designed by Palladio) in Vicenza.

Self knows nothing about the creator of this. sculpture. It stands just outside the Teatro Olimpico (designed by Palladio in the late 16th century) in Vicenza.

Backyard Watering: Takes Endurance, especially in the summer.

Backyard Watering: Takes Endurance, especially in the summer.

Spam was first introduced to the Philippines by the Americans. Now we Filipinos crave it -- it's become "comfort food."

Spam was first introduced to the Philippines by the Americans. Now we Filipinos crave it — it’s become “comfort food.”

 

Dialogue: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is another — ehem — challenging one.

DIALOGUE

They want you to post a pair of photographs that, “when placed next to each other,” open “up to meanings that weren’t there when viewed alone.”

So here’s self’s first attempt:  two photographs of the Blessed Virgin, both taken at Mission San Gabriel in southern California, Sunday Aug. 24. The only reason she was at the Mission was to meet an old high-school classmate from Manila, Connie Genato, who was singing at the 11:15 mass.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is iconic in Roman Catholicism, and an object of particular veneration in the Philippines (colony of Spain for 333 years!)

A statue of the Blessed Virgin In Mission San Gabriel

A statue of the Blessed Virgin In Mission San Gabriel, near Los Angeles

Another statue of the Blessed Virgin taken at Mission San Gabriel, this one just outside the church

Another statue of the Blessed Virgin taken at Mission San Gabriel, this one just outside the church

In and of themselves, these photographs are nothing much. Together, though, they seem to speak of a child-like simplicity that self finds particularly touching.

Self has tons of other Blessed Virgin pictures. She might look for those and add later, if she has time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

These Mentions (A Post Inspired by This Week’s WordPress Daily Post But Containing NO Photography)

What is the history of the term ‘Manila Envelope’?

Why is it always about Imelda’s shoes?

Who was that fiction writer who had a character think (in a novel):  At least no one expects me to wake up and be Corazon Aquino today!

What was that novel about Read the rest of this entry »

Windows: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Sunset, June:  In southern Scotland, that meant 10 p.m.

Sunset, viewed from self’s room at Hawthornden: In southern Scotland, in June, the sun sets at 10 p.m.

These next two photographs are not of windows themselves, but of the available light that comes from windows (Self never uses flash.  Never.  She feels it destroys the mood.)

For those of you who may be wondering where in the hell BACOLOD is, it’s the capital city of Dear Departed Dad’s home province, Negros Occidental.  “Negros” is no typo.  The Spanish gave the island of “Negros” (There are two halves:  Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Perhaps self will leave further explanations to Wikipedia?) its name because the natives were purportedly so ehem dark!

Self took this picture in an old house in either Silay or Talisay, near Bacolod.

Self took this picture in an old house in either Silay or Talisay, near Bacolod. Was this the Lacson house? Possibly.

The kitchen of the Balay ni Tana Dicang in Talisay (It's owned by the Lizares clan)

The kitchen of the Balay ni Tana Dicang in Talisay (It’s owned by the Lizares clan)  Only a short jeepney ride from Bacolod.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

1st Friday of the Month: Talisay

The Reclining Christ in the Talisay cathedral had people lining up to touch His feet:  There's a small opening in the glass case for people to reach their hands through.

The Reclining Christ in the Talisay cathedral had people lining up to touch His feet: There’s a small opening in the glass case for people to reach their hands through.

The church in Talisay is very beautiful:  it was built by the Recollects, who arrived in the Islands in 1606.

The church in Talisay is very beautiful: it was built by the Recollects, who arrived in the Islands in 1606.

After visiting the Church, self went to the market.  The ukay-ukay here is tremendous.  She bought three tailored cotton shirts for a grand total of 75 pesos (just under $2).  She tried them on:  perfect fit!  Then she took the jeep back to Bacolod (Only one transfer:  each leg was 8 pesos, for a total of 16 pesos, about 35 US cents).  If only self had had the courage to take pictures while riding in the jeepney!  Incredible:  more and more people kept coming in, and self was squashed right between two schoolboys.  She was balancing her stash of five shirts from the hukay-hukay, and 1 kilo of lanzones (2.2 lbs, and she probably overpaid, judging from the way the lanzones vendor broke out into a big, toothless smile when self handed over her payment.  But the lanzones were huge, and very sweet.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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