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.

Remembering the Ampatuan Massacre

Self arrived in the Philippines at the end of November, just after the one-year anniversary of the worst massacre in recent Philippine history.

On Nov. 23, 2009, 200 armed men confronted a convoy of supporters of the local vice-mayor, who were traveling to register his candidacy for an upcoming election. The thugs ordered all members of the convoy off the road and murdered them. It was a group that included 30 journalists and six unfortunate passersby who were killed merely to eliminate all witnesses.

Up in her room of the Montebello Hotel in Cebu, self was so engrossed in watching a documentary on the massacre, “The 58,” that she almost missed the Saturday dinner with other members of the Philippine Pen Congress. Oh, how she cried for the woman whose husband had been killed, who could only gesture in imitation of an embrace. For the man who talked stoically about his two young nieces, who had been killed.

The week before self got to Manila, The Philippine Inquirer published a series of articles about the Ampatuan family, who were accused of plotting the murders. Accompanying the article was a chart that showed the different branches of the family. Why was this chart important? Was it just so that the newspaper’s readers would know that the clan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan, Sr., had four wives and eleven children? The Ampatuans, according to the Inquirer, have “controlled life and death in Maguindanao for more than two decades.” Ampatuan, Sr. was the governor of Maguindanao for almost a decade, from 2001 to 2009. The Inquirer notes that before the May 2010 elections, “most of Maguindanao’s 27 mayors were the sons, grandsons, or other relatives of Andal Ampatuan, Sr., including his son, Andal Ampatuan Jr., now charged with 57 counts of murder.”

The final scene of the documentary “The 58” showed Andal Ampatuan, Jr. proclaiming his innocence to the cameraman and the reporters who were interviewing him. He had extended his arms through the iron bars of his cell. Over and over, to the camera, he recited, “I am innocent! I am innocent!” His gestures were that of a supplicant, arms raised to high heaven. What a performance! The camera’s eye shrank from him (as did self, though she was absolutely mesmerized) As the camera pulled away, the man continued his insistent chant: “I am innocent.”

Self remembers hubby telling her, when the news first broke: “Did you see the picture of the alleged mastermind? He looks like he belongs in high school!” The implication being: if someone who looks like that could be a murderer, then anyone can be a murderer: your neighbor, your teacher, your doctor. Evil doesn’t have to look like a goose-stepping Nazi. Or someone with a swastika tattooed on his shaved head.

The Inquirer continues: “For more than two decades, the Ampatuans operated unchecked by the national police, the military, or the or the Department of Justice, which have not only failed to seriously investigate crimes allegedly committed by the family’s militia, but have even armed and worked alongside its members.”

Currently, 195 people have been charged, including 29 members of the Ampatuan family and their allies; over half of those charged remain at large. On the back page of the article are photographs of the victims’ faces. Among them were:

Mac Delbert “MacMac” Areola, 20, Cameraman for UNTV;
Rev. V. Merisco, 34, columnist for Periodico Ini
Eleanor “Leah” Dalmacio, 38, Reporter for Sorsogon News Today
Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon, 35, a Lawyer
Concepcion Brizuela, 55, a Lawyer
Gina de la Cruz, 41, Saksi Correspondent
Marites Cablitas, 38, Publisher, TV anchor
Alejandro M. Reblando, 54, Correspondent for Manila Bulletin and Reuters
Francisco “Ian” Subang Jr., 49, Publisher of Sorsogon News Today
Noel Decena, 28, Circulation Manager for Periodico Ini
Napoleon Salaysay, 57, Clear View Gazette Publisher and Editor
Ronnie Perante, 43, Correspondent for Gold Star Daily
Rubello Bataluna, 44, Correspondent for Gold Star Daily
Victor O. Nuñez, 24, UNTV Anchor
Fernando “Ranny” P. Razon, 44, Sales Manager for Periodico Ini
Norton “Sedick” Ebus Edza, 33, Van driver
Razul Bulilo Daud, 35, Van driver

The list just goes on and on. Now, it is late: well past 2 a.m. Self prays for those murdered souls.

Self thinks the trial should be televised. She wouldn’t miss a word.

Stay tuned.

PEN International Congress: Cebu, 2010

Dear blog readers, here’s a link to Susan Lara’s facebook page on the PEN International Congress, held in Cebu, Dec. 3 – 5.

And here’s a link to the Philippine Daily Inquirer article about the conference, “Writers Define, Defy Borders.”

It was mucho fun getting to meet all the other writers, and being in Cebu, and loving the fact that this was the very first writing conference self has ever attended in the Philippines, not to mention the fact that this was the first writing conference self ever attended where waiters served breakfast, lunch, merienda and dinner to the audience in the ballroom of the Montebello Villa hotel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Random: 2nd Monday in July 2010

The octopus again made the right prediction :  Spain won the World Cup (Oh to be in Spain, getting drunk and dancing in the streets at this very moment!)

Hmm, let’s see:  what are some other matters of note this morning?

  • The gods at io9 have seen fit to grace the world with the trailer for a fictitious TV series called “Simon Tam, M.D.” (Self’s heart overflows with gratitude, io9!)
  • And self read an article written by Benjamin Pimentel (fellow Atenista!) in self’s mailbox when she checked bright and early this morning.  Very interesting, seems Imelda Marcos aka Mother of All Shoe Mavens is now positioning herself as a “human rights victim”?  Here’s an excerpt from Ben’s article, posted on

The newly-elected congresswoman from Ilocos says she will support a bill to compensate those who suffered under the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

“Because I’m the number one major victim of human rights,” she told reporters.  “I have not had my justice since 1986.”

Truly, this woman is the Queen of Re-invention!  And whoever voted her back into power deserves whatever they get!

On to self’s reading for the day, which is Miguel Syjuco/aka “former student” ‘s first novel (Seven years in the making!  Whew!  That takes tenacity!), Ilustrado.  Here’s a part self loves, on p. 2:

Both The Philippine Gazette and The Sun traded blows with Salvador’s own Manila Times, debating the author’s literary, and indeed social, significance to our weary country.  The Times, of course, declared their dead columnist the waylaid hope of a culture’s literary renaissance.  The Gazette argued that Salvador was not “an authentic Filipino writer,” because he wrote mostly in English and was not “browned by the same sun as the masses.”  The Sun said Salvador was too middling to merit murder.

Intrigued already, dear readers?  Keep reading!

Stay tuned.

Essence of Shame 2: What Really Happened in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines

Self first heard of the massacre from hubby.  He learned of it while trolling the internet. Then, a few days ago, Dearest Mum contributed a few more details:

They say they dug the holes a month before. Huge holes, because they even buried the victims’ cars, with the victims still inside. Then, they used bulldozers to flatten the ground. In other words, they had planned everything beforehand.

So, there were 100 shooters sent by Ampatuan to kill his political rivals. Self finds it interesting that two of the 100 spilled the beans.  It’s too bad their consciences couldn’t have bothered them before, rather than after the evil deed.

Yesterday, after a long day braving the crowds at Costco and corresponding with son over his grad school applications, and tutoring students at the Writing Center, self opened her e-mail and there was an article Luis Francia had written for The Philippine Inquirer. Below are excerpts from Luis’ article, “Try Again, Fail Better.” (Note: Ismail, the electoral opponent of the incumbent governor of Maguindanao province, lost his wife as well as several other members of his family.) :

    The victims were herded to a grassy hilltop where they were shot in cold blood, not far from where their cars were pulled over. Two vehicles that happened along were also stopped, and their occupants killed as well. The bodies were buried in a shallow grave, as were three of the vehicles. A backhoe, property of the provincial government, may have been used to excavate the shallow grave and dump earth on the bodies, thus deepening suspicions that the provincial authorities were involved.

    * * * *

    The slaughter included an estimated 30 journalists; Mangudadatu clan members, most (if not all) women, of whom there were 22, including Ismail’s wife, Genalyn; lawyers; and passersby.

    * * * *

    According to a New York Times report written by Carlos Conde, “the women’s bodies had been separated from those of the men and bore evidence of mutilation.” Aside from the wives and children, two of the women worked with Gawad Kalinga, a humanitarian housing project.

With thanks to Luis for allowing self to quote from his excellent article. Author bio: Luis Francia is an editor, essayist, playwright, and poet.  His books include Eye of the Fish and Museum of Absences . He writes a monthly column for

The earth of Maguindanao weeps, dear blog readers. It weeps for everyone.

Luis Francia Says: Open Your Eyes

Luis Francia writes “The Artist Abroad” column for The Philippine Inquirer. The following quote is taken from his article, “A Country Is Not Just a Site on a Map,” filed 27 July 2009:

Right now, the most powerful state agency Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Morning: Reading About A(H1N1)

That’s what Filipinos have been calling it, such is their love for the obscure acronym. (A couple of weeks ago, on the Filipino News Channel, there was a reporter talking about how two contestants from American Idol, in the Philippines for a concert, insulted the medical party that was about to examine them at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by brushing past them and refusing to submit to a medical exam.  The reporter kept saying AH1N1, and self wondered what that was until she realized it was the swine flu)

Here’s a headline from the front page of The Philippine Inquirer of Saturday, 30 May (courtesy of Dearest Mum, who frankly thought self was nuts to request that she bring copies of newspapers with her)

2 More Wedding Guests in Zambales Get A(H1N1)

The number of confirmed cases of influenza (A(H1N1)  —  more commonly known as swine flu —  in the country has climbed to 14 as the Department of Health reported four more cases yesterday, eight days after the first case was confirmed.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said two of the new cases in the Philippines —  a 42-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man —  were at a May 17 wedding in Zambales attended by a Taiwanese mother and her daughter, who were later found carrying the virus upon their return to Taipei.

Self thinks it is pretty brave of the newspaper to put that information on the front page, for she can’t remember anything about the swine flu being on the front pages of her local newspapers, at least not recently.

Meanwhile, it is Sunday morning here in California, and self is watching a blonde woman give a very chirpy account of her cruise on the Carnival Cruise Lines.  In one segment, she goes behind the scenes and chats with the kitchen staff, who are unsurprisingly mostly Filipino.  And then the head chef tells her he is following a family tradition:  his dad, too, had worked as the head chef of a cruise ship.  And as he talks to the woman, the chef’s hands remain busily at work on a cantaloupe.  When the finished product is displayed, it turns out to be a cantaloupe carved into the shape of a rose, with many petals.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Reading for the Day: KUNG HEI FAT CHOI!

Today’s post will be something of a “fluff” article.  That is, it will contain nothing of profound political, social, or emotional significance.  Instead, this is a post in which self will attempt to divine her future (which, self is sure dear blog readers will agree, should be of tremendous help in self’s negotiation of the reefs and shoals of outrageous fortune —  in other words, of self’s negotiation of her all-important life)

In Section F-1 of  yesterday’s edition of The Philippine Inquirer is an article entitled, “Kung Hai Fat Choi:  Rat’s Luckiest, Sheep’s Worst.”  The article begins:  “Surely it’s the year of the ox but people who were born under this sign should not be all that thrilled because the year would not be a walk in the park for them.”

It then goes on to say:  “Tigers are next to the rat in terms of luck this year.  They would be lucky in all aspects, from career to business to love life.”  This is just great, for son was born in the year of the tiger.

What’s in store for hubby, self wonders?  For he was born in the year of the sheep.  Not only is he a sheep, he’s a wooden sheep, which sounds terrible but isn’t as terrible as being an iron sheep (so self’s Chinese friends assure her).  Here’s what the article has to say about hubby’s prospects:  “For the sheep, it’s not their best year since they’re the enemy of the ox.  Sheep’s worst year can be countered by using a middle man which is the rooster.  A rooster figure or image would be their lucky charm.  Roosters would also serve as sheep’s best partner since they are soul mates.”  Too bad self wasn’t born in the year of the rooster; she was born in the year of the

Dog:  “Dogs, among the signs, are the ones who can get rich easily.  Dogs are also the only ones who can face the north direction bravely.  He can face financial crises or difficulties easily.  Dogs are also known to be polygamous.  The more women or men they have, the richer they get.  They are also stingy to loved ones, even to family members, but for themselves it would be first-class all the way!  Famous people who were born under this sign are Lucio Tan and Manny Pangilinan.”

Now that, self is sure dear blog readers will agree, is quite an interesting horoscope.  If that were true, why is self not now rich?  Or polygamous?  Or “stingy with loved ones”?  Why is she not traveling first-class on Asiana, instead of going for the 12-hour stop-over in Seoul to save $300 on her round-trip ticket?  Self likes that she is in the same category as Lucio Tan (at last!), but she has no idea who Manny Pangilinan is.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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