The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the category “Philippines”

New Year’s in the Philippines

hello 2007

‘crazy fireworks here @ new years’ (photo credit: Jessica C)

December 31, 2011, Calamba City. – ‘Ka-BOOM!’ ‘Hiss’ ‘Pop, Pop, Pop’ – We were in my father’s hometown. It was early in the evening but the fireworks had already started. My Tita stuffed peso bills in our pockets and ‘the Chef’ and I scooted outside. We did not want to miss this. The sky was clear and a breeze blew over my skin and funny enough I got goose bumps even though it was a tropical 27-28 degrees. We walked to the back of the house and climbed the stairs to the empty balcony of the building next door. I was surprised we were the only ones out there.

The Filipino Tradition

The Filipino Tradition (photo credit: Paolo Dala)

The city was spread out in front of us in an almost unobstructed 180 degree view. Puffs of white smoke slowly dissipated in the black sky, the smell of sulfur lingered in our nostrils. – ‘BANG!’ ‘Crackle’ ‘Whiz’ – Fireworks from everywhere big and small exploded against the night sky. We didn’t know what time it was but I kept thinking it was midnight because the fireworks built to what I thought was a crescendo but kept going and going until our senses were satiated by sound and light. I thought to myself, ‘This is freaking awesome!” Satisfied, we finally called it quits and went back into the house.


My cousin gleefully eating Balut!

The table was set with a New Year’s meal – a big bowl of steaming soup, a dense, circular slab of puto (steamed rice cake), a pyramid of balut (boiled, fertilized duck egg), and a bowl of filled with grapes, longans and oranges – mostly round foods that would bring good fortune for the new year. Everyone wished each other a happy new year and we dug into the food.

As our heads hit the pillow I could still hear the distant ‘pop, pop, pop’ of distant fireworks as I drifted into happy sleep.

If you want to experience what it’s like in Manila just click on the YouTube video above. The next day we left on a plane for Palawan and marvelled at the haze and sulfur smell that still hung over Manila in the morning aftermath of the big celebration.

The Land Where I Was Born 020

Photos and thoughts about the Philippines.

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for images about the Philippines, the country I was born in and which I am now rediscovering.

Halo halo especial

Halo halo especial (photo credit Jeff Younstrom)

Summer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the best way to beat this unbearable heat is with every Filipino’s undisputed favorite shaved ice dessert: the halo-halo! A medley of sweetened jewels, a gracious layer of icy granules, a heaping scoop of ube ice cream, all drowned in creamy milky goodness-it’s a sweet tooth’s dream. ~ Top 10 Halo-halo in Manila (2014 Edition), spot.PH, April 24, 2014

Power Breakfast Pinoy Style

Power Breakfast Pinoy Style (photo credit weye)

Magandang umaga! ~ 21 Delicious Filipino Breakfasts That Are Actually Hangover Cures, Buzzfeed, August 21, 2015


Lechon on the table (photo credit whologwhy)

In restaurant circles, the dreaded F-word—fusion—is usually reserved to describe some sort of disparate multi-culti combination, like sauce soubise on top of tamales. But in the case of Filipino food, there’s no stronger term to capture the essence of Asia’s most unique, idiosyncratic, and underrated culinary tradition. ~ Coconut, Vinegar, and a Whole Lotta Pork: An Introduction to Filipino Cuisine, Serious Eats, June 14, 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge: BETWEEN

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

When I visited the Philippines in 2012 I stayed in Calamba, the hometown of the National Hero of the Philippines Jose Rizal. It also happens to be the hometown of my Dad. The most shocking thing to me was how much the town had grown.

I’m all for progress but not when it doesn’t make sense. Like weeds growing unchecked, infrastructure has sprouted in the most arbitrary way. This ‘Alcasid’ sign has stood majestically atop my great grandfather’s building for many, many years. I remember it from my childhood visits. Today, it’s only visible BETWEEN the opening of an elevated pedestrian bridge that literally obliterates the front view of the buildings (and that’s only if you’re looking for it).

To see how others interpret the word ‘between’ visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: GROWTH

Some of the first memories I have of the Philippines are of big, voluptuous, white clouds hanging over water saturated fields of rice. Driving from Manila to my Dad’s hometown of Calamba used to be a slow drive through rural countryside.  Read more…

The Tree Hugger in Me

When I saw this video on the ‘time travelling‘ blog I was in awe of the pristine beauty of Palawan and fascinated by its indigenous culture. Then my heart quickly sank as the story unfolded. Read more…

World’s Best Cover Bands

The Philippines is known for exporting nurses, domestic help and hotel employees but did you know they also supply the world with Filipino musical talent – over 120,000 musicians working overseas on cruise ships, in bars and in nightclubs.

It’s no secret Filipinos love to sing and play music and they’re pretty good at it. Although some Filipinos play their own music they excel at playing songs of other artists. They have an inherent ability to listen to something and copy it extremely well. That’s their talent.

CNN International recently asked some top Filipino cover bands to list of some of the most requested songs, that frankly, they’re a little tired of playing.  Here are the top 10.

Read more…

Harsh Realities of a Third World Country

Sometimes we tend to romanticize our dreams. How many people have wanted to play in a rock band, open up their own restaurant or bar or live on an island paradise? Sounds good doesn’t it? We can imagine ourselves living the dream lifestyle but seem to gloss over the hard work and realities of these dreams.  Read more…

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