Parlor Game During My Youth Lives On

4-Way Sungka?

4-Way Sungka?

About three months ago, I happened to see a sungka in Silay used as an appetizer tray. Cute idea I thought. I made a blog about it coz I haven’t seen sungka since I was in grade school which was over 30 years ago.

Cute idea

Innovative idea

Then I went on an Ilocano Roadtrip and saw in Calle Crisologo Vigan sungka sets for sale. I was happy. In the advent of the electronics age, the games of my youth have long been forgotten. No more Tex, Marbles, Trumpo or Shato, the last of which is a game of sticks too difficult to explain. Spider fighting is long gone since there are no more open fields to catch them. All good things come to an end…someday.

But in Cebu, I chanced upon a piece of furniture I have never seen before! I call it 4-way sungka. Make your own rules! At best 4 bored tourists can play or keep themselves busy as they wait for their pick up. It was beautifully made, showing the quality of Filipino craftsmanship. I found it so “aliw“, I just had to take a picture.

To many, this may be no big thing, but somehow it’s big to me! Maybe I just yearn for the good old days where the open fields were plentiful and life was simpler. No responsibilities then. Life was good. Ok I’m getting nostalgic…blame it on the beer! On second thought…Waiter, get me another beer!

Is Masskara Worth Going To?


I have been observing the Masskara festival since the early 1990s. I say observing coz I never participated in the events, I look forward to the eating, drinking and socializing. It’s be Sem Break so the students would be back. Negrenses take time out to bring over and entertain non-Negrense friends and make sure they have a good time.

I recall only once did I watch the street dancing in the heat. I had to park far then walked to the street dancing area. Luckily I’m tall so I can see no problem. Others had to stand atop their pickups to get a good view. During that time, the only mask one could buy was that of the Power Rangers. Your choices were red, yellow or green. Seeing the street dancing once is enough. Listening to “La Bamba” about 20 times as each baranggay danced to the same tune, was enough to make me say, “No mas, no mas! Yo no soy marinero, soy Capitan, soy Capitan!”

Oftentimes I would just hang out along Lacson St., have some dinner, drinks, walk the strip and say hi to friends hanging out in other Lacson St restos., have more drinks. As the night wore on, the merriment became rowdier. Drinking 8 San Mig Lights a night was the norm.

About ten years ago, someone had the bright idea of closing Lacson St starting 4pm til the wee hours of the morning. Negrenses loved the idea of walking along Lacson sans vehicular traffic. Then someone decided to have an Electrical Parade at night that added to the festivities. Frankly, I found the Electrical Parade overrated but I’m sure as the years go by, the creativity of the Negrense would improve the design of the participating electrical floats.

Two years ago, it was still fun to walk along Lacson St. It was tight in some areas where there were stages then a bit of open space in between. I missed last year’s and this year’s Masskara. For this year, I heard part of the Masskara venue near Bacolod Town Plaza was transferred to Lacson. Hence, Lacson St became one big can of sardines. Stall owners were cooking inasal on both sides of the street making the venue hotter and smellier. The four-lane road became two-lanes as more kiosks occupied the outer lanes. If it’s tight, thieves will have a heyday. One of my friends was pickpocketed but that is no surprise anymore. Every time there is a Masskara, Atiatihan, Sinulog or Dinagyang, thieves from all over the country congregate and prey on the unsuspecting.

So is Masskara worth going to? If one is a Masskara first-timer, photographer, eater or drinker, it’s an overwhelming YES! But after that, it becomes a case of “been there, done that.” If one has friends who can entertain them by all means go again. Negros and Bacolod are more than just Masskara. There are many restaurants to try and places to visit. I can proudly say Negros is definitely a good example of…”It’s More Fun In The Philippines!”

To A Dog, One Day Can Make A Big Difference

Sept 10, 2014

Sept 10, 2014

Sept 11, 2014

Sept 11, 2014

For me, a dog is a dog and yes, pure breeds get more respect. Azkals tend to be neglected and abandoned but they have a right to live too! I was hesitant to have my wife rescue an animal because if that animal doesn’t get adopted, he will end up in my house.

My wife rescued a dog she named Pio because it was found near Pioneer House in Paseo de Roxas. My wife took a picture and the dog looked scared and unhappy. When picture was posted in Facebook, the immediate response of friends was that the dog looked stressed and sad. I didn’t notice that. I just thought that was the natural look of the dog.

Lo and behold, after one day in the vet, my wife took a picture and now Pio looks like a happy camper! I’m just so amazed at the sudden turnaround. With his big smile and wide eyes, Pio is now surprisingly cute! Well I guess dogs can’t hide their feelings. What one day of care can achieve! He is a nice dog and deserves a better life so I hope he gets adopted.

A Must-Eat For Me from Tison’s

Chicken Asparagus Sandwich

Chicken Asparagus Sandwich

When the management of our sugar association decided that Tison’s was doing the catering for our Talisay fiesta party, they said that the menu will consist of beef, breaded fish, chicken galantina, lasagna and Russian salad with dessert and lechon added. I asked if there was going to be chicken asparagus sandwich which I always look for whenever Tison’s caters. Not this time they said since it’s dinner.

So I asked if the caterer can make a couple of chicken asparagus sandwiches for little old me. Ayan, request granted! Kinda selfish of me but heck, you don’t ask, you don’t get! Doesn’t cost much. Caterer just threw the sandwiches in as part of the deal.

Sarap! The sandwich is shaped like a canoli and I can eat four – no problem! Caterer made 8 sandwiches so I have been eating it the for last two days. Burp! I’m supposed to be avoiding white bread but what can I do? It’s one of my favorites! It’s a must-have for me every time Tison’s caters. I don’t believe they have a restaurant but their catered food is excellent and reasonably priced. If ever one needs a caterer in Negros, try them out. I highly recommend them.

Some People Actually Like This Stuff!

Novellino mad Carlo Rossi

Novellino and  Carlo Rossi

Our sugar association recently had a small dinner party because it was the day of the town fiesta. In preparing for the dinner, management chose the caterer and the menu. The staff asked us what type of red wine did we want. I gave a couple of brands but I told them any Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz would do. So the staff bought the wine and when I inspected I saw the Cabernet Sauvignon wine but also Carlo Rossi and Novellino.

“Why did you buy Carlo Rossi and Novellino?” I exclaimed. During the recent sugar convention, we were avoiding the Carlo Rossi and Novellino stuff which you could tell due to its lighter color. The answer of the staff surprised me. They found our regular wine too “pait” or bitter. Well I find Carlo Rossi and Novellino too sweet.

Come dinner time, my friends and I were chugging the Cabernet Sauvignon while the staff and our “forever-young” external auditor – lo and behold! – were enjoying the sweet wine. Bottom line is my friends and I were enjoying the regular wine while the others were enjoying the sweet wine. Everybody happy! It was a Fiesta! Just have to remember that what I like doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what others like as well. Live and Learn. Salud Pesetas Y Amor con Ana West en Chapultepec! (That’s a joke for those who took Spanish in our days)

Had to Harvest

Carabao Mango and Pomelo

Carabao Mango and Pomelo

Ok, it’s not really a harvest. I passed by my predominantly carabao mango orchard today and saw a lone mango so I plucked it from the tree. It was still green but if I didn’t do it, someone else will harvest it!

At the far end of the orchard, I have 5 pomelo trees which I don’t really pay much attention to. The pomelo produce isn’t commercial; not too sweet nor juicy. Ok for salads per my thinking. I’m not really a pomelo eater but I also got to pluck out one to try. It was fortunate that I was able to get one because a lot of people pass thru the farm and pluck illegally when no one is looking. Anyway, I’m excited to make some green mango salad which is basically green mango, bagoong or shrimp paste and tomatoes. For the pomelo, buy some lettuce , ham, cheese with some Asian dressing. Hmmm…I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Bon Appetit!

Gilas Pilipinas: Yes, The Filipino Can!

Thank you Gilas Pilipinas!

Thank you Gilas Pilipinas!

In my previous blog entitled, “Take Heart Phl“, I mentioned about the Filipinos over-reliance on its import in the last 5 minutes causing the Filipinos to freeze and abandon their attacking style for the half-court set. In three of Gilas Pilipinas first four games the game was lost in the last two minutes. How tragic! But that’s basketball and one can only learn from defeat and move on.

Against Senegal, Gilas Pilipinas was ahead most of the game until Senegal made a final run and sent the game into overtime. With about two minutes remaining in overtime, Andre Blatche fouled out and I’m sure not many people gave the Phl a chance. But no the Filipinos found a way to win through defense and conversion of free throws! Call it Serendipity. The Filipinos had to dig deep inside and trust the system. The players have proved to themselves that they can win on their own merits. This experience is invaluable and will be remembered for a long, long time.

I want to thank all the Gilas players for sacrificing for their country, thank Chot Reyes and the coaching staff for showing a basketball style that is uniquely Filipino, and thank the team backers and managers for dreaming big, for showing their countrymen that we can hustle with the big boys and for reminding us that “Yes, The Filipino Can!” Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Yes, the Philippines Can Beat Argentina!

Believe it or not!

Let’s see . . . PH lost to Croatia by 3 points in overtime while Croatia beat Argentina by 5 points in regulation. So we should have a decent chance of beating Argentina, right?


I would say that if the Gilas would play ten games with Argentina, Gilas would probably win at least one game. There’s always that chance. To beat Argentina, Gilas must play its best game and hope Argentina plays a mediocre game. Definitely Andre Blatche must play well for us to have a chance.

Our team is undoubtedly the smallest team in the FIBA tourney but one of the fastest. Argentina is big and full of NBA veterans that are aging who probably would be slow and unable to run back to defend against a fast break. So the Philippine team has to capitalize on its speed and their 3-pointers because there is no way that they can to pound it out inside the paint.

Moreover, Argentina doesn’t seem to play that well and is a way different team without Ginobili. I pray Andre Blatche, Jeff Chan, Paul lee, Jimmy Alapag and Jason Castro have monster games and that Marc Pingris hold his own against a bruising Nocioni. Good luck, Gilas! Our nation is with you! Laban Pilipinas!

Thank You, Gilas Pilipinas! You make Us Proud!

Blatche limps to the bench during the timeout. Getting ice now on his right knee.  Photo courtesy of @tjmanotoc

Blatche limps to the bench during the timeout. Getting ice now on his right knee. Photo courtesy of @tjmanotoc

Finally, the FIBA World tournament is upon us. Before the game started, people didn’t give the PH a chance. Experts predicted a blowout while Filipinos hoped for a credible performance from their heroes. Well, Filipinos got more than that! The PH trailed most of the game but rallied and even led near the endgame. With the score tied, the whole nation prayed that the long shot of Jeff Chan would go in. But it wasn’t meant to be and the game went into overtime. So near but yet so far!

During the overtime we were able to keep it close and somehow the game got away from us. Though we made one last run capped by a Blatche three-pointer, we fell short. Filipinos believe Jason Castro was fouled in the end by attempting a three pointer, but the refs hid their whistles.

At such a crucial moment, I doubted the refs would blow their whistles. But what if they did? Could we have beaten Croatia? The basketball world would turn upside down if we did! Ah…what-ifs are so dangerous. Had we lost without even leading the game, everyone will give kudos to the team. But the thing is, we led and had a chance to win the game! Sayang!

Nothing to be ashamed of Gilas! You make us proud! If we feel the pain, we are sure you guys are feeling even more pain! This was a good game for you so build on the experience and maybe – just maybe – upset Greece. I’m sure the other teams in the bracket will not take Gilas Pilipinas for granted anymore. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Gilas Pilipinas players, coaches and managers for sacrificing for our country. They believed so we should believe too! For those supporters and OFWs who took time out to watch the games and support the team: Mabuhay kayo!