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).


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:


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.”


  • 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:


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.

Discoveries: Street Photography by Stella K

The latest issue of Fraction Magazine focuses on “Street Photography.”

This is an area dear to self’s heart.  Even in her fiction, self lives for The Moment.  For Discovery of the Unexpected.

She’s known Stella K for a while but only became aware of Stella’s street photography recently.

When Stella K and Tina B showed up two weekends ago to introduce self to the joys of hiking in Edgewood Nature Preserve (Amazing that it took two Emeryville residents to show self the joys of hiking in her very own backyard of Redwood City), Stella happened to mention in passing that her street photographs had been featured in Fraction Magazine.

Stella’s demeanor is very quiet and thoughtful —  even, shall we say, Read the rest of this entry »

Personal Library 11

Merry Christmas, dear blog readers!

It is raining again.

But so what.  Self likes the rain.  As long as it doesn’t come with high winds.  Like, this morning, self was even able to go outside without a poncho and plant a new begonia.  Getting wet now and then is very good for the soul.

Onward with the book tabulation!

Self is now starting with the second bookcase in the dining room.  This is the one right underneath the Santi Bose painting, “The White Room.”  There are 21 books in this area.

428 + 21 = 449 total of books catalogued thus far

Books in this section include:  The Translator’s Diary, by Jon Pineda; The Art of the Novel, by Milan Kundera;  Another Kind of Paradise:  Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific, edited by Trevor Carolan (Self’s story “Lizard” is in here);  Philippine Speculative Fiction IV:  Literature of the Fantastic, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar (Among the authors:  Maryanne Moll, Charles Tan, Apol Lejano-Massebieau);  Against Forgetting:  Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, edited by Carolyn Forché;  Palayok, by Doreen Fernandez; My Shining Archipelago:  Poems by Talvikki Ansel

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

So Doreen

Self is re-reading Tikim, a collection of Dear Departed Doreen Fernandez’s food essays (published by Anvil Press of the Philippines).  Here’s a section from the Introduction Doreen wrote, June 1994.  Her husband, Wili Fernandez, was the one she called “the intuitive gourmet.”  But it was Doreen who made Filipino food her vehicle for poking into all sorts of little-known areas of Filipino provincial life.  She was adventurous to the core:

“. . .  he indeed ate, and pronounced judgement.  I ate too, and wrote — and learned.  Soon I was no longer interested in just describing the food; I wanted to know its history, its setting, its meaning.  That was the beginning.

The learning process still goes on.  My teachers are all those who give me information about food:  market vendors, street sellers, cooks, chefs, waiters, restaurant and carinderia owners, farmers, tricycle drivers, gardeners, fishermen, aficionados, nutritionists, readers of my column, friends, food critics and historians, fellow-researchers, authors of books (and cookbooks), writers of columns, food anthropologists —  everyone who eats and cares.

She called self by her Filipino nickname, Batchoy, to the end.  (Batchoy’s the name of a famous soup.  Also, a man’s name.  Also, a short form of “Fatso” — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)

Self still remembers the time Doreen took her and fellow Atenista Lissa M to a new restaurant that hadn’t yet been reviewed.  It was somewhere in Makati.  Probably’s disappeared by now.

After the main course was over, Doreen ordered some tea.  She asked the waiter what kind of tea they had.

“Tea?  Ma’am?”  the waiter asked, looking for all the world as if Doreen had asked him to produce a golden egg.

“Yes,” Doreen said.  “What kind of tea do you have?”

After a long, long pause, during which you could see all the gears clicking in the man’s brain, he finally managed to say, “Hot, ma’am.”

Ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra!

Another Doreen Fernandez quote appears in the blog, Burnt Lumpia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Caramel Tarts, Dirty Ice Cream, Happiness

The first piece self had to write for Dear Departed Professor Doreen Fernandez was a piece about Bacolod.  It was the first ever writing assignment Doreen gave to self’s freshman class at the Ateneo de Manila.

There were many good writers in that class:  Reine Melvin, Lourdes (Minette) Lee, Lissa Ylanan.  When Doreen called on self to come to the front of the room and read her essay, self thought she would die of nervousness.

But once she got up there, to the front of the classroom, once she began to read, she began to have an inkling that she had just found her place in the world, and that place would be earned by her writing.  Thanks much, Dearest Doreen!  Self misses you terribly.

Not too long ago, self found the essay in a closet and decided to bring it with her on this trip.  Here’s an excerpt:

At night, the blazes of the sugar cane fields would bloody the velvet sky and the stars would be spilling out in protest like so many guardian angels.

I never grew up in Bacolod.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Ohm Sweet Ohm

Adventures in life from the Sunshine State to the Golden Gate

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery


Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog


Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor