Sentence of the Day: Doreen G. Fernandez

Every year for the last seven years or so, I have written one piece in March or April — the beginning of its traditional season — on the mango, feeling that it is one of the best fruits in the world, and that all of the folklore, songs, sarswelas and recipes do not even begin to do it justice.

— from Fruits of Memory, the Introduction to Fruits of the Philippines, by Doreen G. Fernandez

Doreen Fernandez: When the World Was New

In 1953 Albert Herre listed 2,175 marine and freshwater species inhabiting Philippine waters, the first extensive checklist. Twenty-seven additional species were added later, bringing the total to 2,202. Some of these are ornamental, some not edible, some not attractive as food fish, but usable as fish meal or fish balls or for fermentation into patis and bagoong. Most of them have regional names, and may be difficult to pin to their scientific and other names.

Doreen Fernandez, from an unpublished manuscript, When the World Was New

Self thought she had every book Doreen had written, until last year, when she went to Silay, Doreen’s childhood home. There was a book she didn’t have: Fruits of the Philippines. A few months ago, self found a copy by going on Amazon, and ordering from a third-party vendor in New Jersey. It arrived several weeks ago. Joy!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: Doreen G. Fernandez

  • The drive from Dumaguete through Bais and Mabinay to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental is an excellent road, past hills and valleys, even a zig-zag portion, through fields and towns, and hardly a billboard.

Self has driven this route. Ten years ago.

Doreen G. Fernandez (self’s second mother) had made an appointment to visit Vicente Lobaton, kinilaw artist. Kinilaw is the Filipino version of sushi. And it’s rather a specialty in the Visayan Islands, in the central Philippines. The number one requirement is that the seafood be freshly caught. And in a country with over 7000 islands, there’s no excuse not to have seafood that is freshly caught. Kinilaw is served with a “dressing” called sawsawan. Want to know more? It’s all in Doreen’s book, Kinilaw (1991) She goes on to describe the meal, which involved kinilaw crab, fish, and shrimp. (SO hungry right now)

Doreen was from the self-same island that Dear Departed Dad was from. It has a very non-PC name: Negros. That’s right, the island is named Negros because its people were dark. It has been named that since the 16th century. It is divided into two provinces: Negros Occidental (where self’s Dear Departed Dad, and Doreen, were from) and Negros Oriental. Negros Oriental has this really cool city called Dumaguete, which became the title for one of self’s short stories (It’s in MsAligned 3, published earlier this year)

Vicente, who goes by Enting, has two restaurants on Negros. One is Enting’s Manukan in Sagay; the other is Enting’s Lechonan on 17th St. near Lacson in downtown Bacolod, the capitol of Negros Occidental.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Glass, Cups, Saucers

WHAT FUN! Self loves Glass, Cups, and Saucers. Just in general. Thank you, Cee Neuner!

Good morning, Silay! Hometown of Dear Departed Food Writer Doreen G. Fernandez: Self visited in September.

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Gamboa House, Silay: September 2019

Hello, Ateneo Classmates! Reunion Dinner

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Makati, September 2019

Hello, Prague! At the Globe Bookstore/Coffeeshop. Self was in Prague with her niece, Irene.

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May 2019

What a year 2019 was!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Doreen G. Fernandez: Fruits of Memory

from Doreen’s Introduction to Fruits of the Philippines (Bookmark, Inc.: Manila, 1997):

I remember gathering lemons in our farm: they were large and lumpy and not like the neat American lemons in supermarkets, but they were fragrant, and basketfuls of them made cooling lemonades. Right near these trees were aratiles, which we called seresa, low enough to climb, and almost exclusively for us children, since adults did not usually bother to gather the little berries, although they willingly ate what we shared with them.

During the Pacific war about ten families, all related, lived on the farm, and, guided by a young uncle, we children picked wild fruits called tino-tino and maria-maria, which I have not seen since then and cannot identify. The tino-tino looked like the cape gooseberry, except that it was usually not eaten raw, but sliced and fried like tomatoes. The maria-maria was delicately sweet, but where is it now? The farm never seemed to run out of guavas, which we ate green or ripe, or of nangka, also delicious both green and ripe (cooked into ginatan or eaten fresh).

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

In Honor of International Women’s Day

Books that rocked self’s world:

  • Break It Down, by Lydia Davis
  • Empty Chairs, by Liu Xia
  • The Charm Buyers, by Lillian Howan
  • Yes (A screenplay), by Sally Potter
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  • Night Willow, by Luisa Igloria
  • Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, by Doreen Fernandez
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
  • Memories Flow In Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writings from Calyx, edited by the Calyx Editorial Collective
  • The Infernal Devices Trilogy, by Cassandra Clare
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Going Home to a Landscape: a Filipino Women’s Anthology, edited by Virginia Cerenio and Marianne Villanueva

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.

Virtual Blog Tour: 3rd Introduction

And now, the third of the three people self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour:

STEEELLAAAAA KALAW!

Excuse the emo post. Self was introduced to Stella K almost 15 years ago, by the woman self considers her mentor, her icon, her 2nd mother:  Doreen Fernandez, who taught self Freshman English at the Ateneo de Manila, many many many oh too many years to count long ago.  Since that fateful meeting, right here in self’s home in Redwood City, California, she and Stella became friends for life.

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw is a photographer. An A-MA-ZING photographer.  You can find samples of her photography projects here.  And she writes a fantastic food blog on tumblr,  Shoots to Roots.

She was born and raised in Manila.  She earned a BA in Communications from De La Salle University and a BA in Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.  Her work has been exhibited at the Singapore International Photography Festival, The Ayala Museum, and the Silverlens Gallery in Manila, Wall Space Gallery in Seattle, Rayko Gallery in San Francisco and at the UCR California Museum of Photography.  Her photographs explore narratives rooted from family, memory and places.  She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Doreen Lives!

Enteng’s is the name of a karinderia-type restaurant in Bacolod, right next to L’Fisher.  Their specialty is kinilaw (a Filipino version of ceviche)

The placemats are mimeographed sheets of an article Doreen wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Lunch,” Doreen wrote of Enteng’s, “was superb, the centerpiece a small, lean, delicious lechon stuffed tight with tanglad and salt — crisp and soft, deeply flavored.  Around it were:  sweet, meaty alimasag; tanguingue steaks delicately flavored (soy and calamansi), expertly roasted (“Inasal ‘yan,” said Glenda, “high above the fire”); steamed red lapu-lapu; arroz Valenciana in banana-leaf pouches; a dish of small crabs, bamboo shoot, buko, corn, and gata.  And three kinds of kinilaw:  tanguingue with vinegar, gata and onions; tabagak (herring) with vinegar, onions, ginger and tomatoes; onions on tender squid rings that one was to dip into vinegar-sili.  Ayyy!  Each had a favorite to defend against all others. Enteng is truly a kinilaw master.”

Glossary:

  • lechon: small roast pig
  • tanglad:  lemon grass
  • alimasag:  crab
  • buko:  coconut
  • gata:  coconut milk
  • kinilaw:  the Filipino version of ceviche

Now, if that doesn’t make dear blog readers extremely curious and hungry, she doesn’t know what will.

Stay tuned.

The Writer at 16

Self has been slowly but methodically arranging her piles and piles of books, magazines, and saved scraps —  invitations, greeting cards, reminders, son’s report cards, anything and everything that’s been accumulating in the backs of her closets for years and years, becoming the cause — no doubt — of all those mishaps, all those “poisoned arrows” that result when one fails to adhere to the most basic precepts of feng shui (For example, all those rejections piling in, the most recent of which just arrived a few hours ago, a form rejection from Southwest Review!)

She’s going through a pile of papers next to a bookshelf when she encounters a sheaf of stapled, typewritten pages.  There is a cover page:

BIVOUAC

by Marianne Villanueva

Though self is well aware that she doesn’t know French, she would just like to say:  Quelle magnifique!

She begins to read her own story.  It begins:

The army transport ship had dumped its cargo of fifty-odd girls on the rock-strewn beach and was now slicing cleanly away into deeper water.  Most of the girls had shrugged off their army jackets and were draped across the stones in their undershirts, damp hair slicked impatiently off their tired faces, eyes surveying the sere, brown landscape with scarcely a glimmer of anticipation or excitement.

The sergeant in charge spoke horrendous English and his awareness of this defect caused him to stammer uncontrollably.  He was pretending to be resting but every now and then, his eyes would drift anxiously in the direction of his uncooperative charges, and his leg muscles would twitch restlessly, as though he were having a hard time controlling his impatience.

Many were daughters of big-shots.  Two had fathers who were high-ranking generals in the AFP.  He felt his teeth chatter every time they fastened their limpid, I-see-through-you eyes on him.

Now it all comes back to her:

  • Senior year of high school
  • ROTC field trip to “the Rock” (Corregidor)
  • Parade Rest with Fake (Wooden) Rifles
  • Brushing her teeth in the surf —  the strong wind blew the foamy toothpaste right back in her face, bleeeah!
  • Midnight skinny-dipping on a secluded stretch of beach

Self!  Did you just write skinny-dipping?

Indeed she did!

She doesn’t recall whether the army sergeant who was playing chaperone was hiding somewhere behind the rocks at one end of the beach.  Calm down, dear blog readers:  self was not one of the brave ones who were prancing around Corregidor in the buff.  She was one of a handful who kept their ROTC uniforms on, at all times (though surely she must have toted along pajamas or a nightie to slip into at bedtime!)

Back to the short story.

Her high school English teacher had signed off on the story —  that’s her signature on the upper right of the cover page —  but there was no grade.  What?  How awful!

Only a year later, she’d be at the Ateneo, studying with Doreen Fernandez.  The stories she wrote for Doreen always got A’s.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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