The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “culture”

The Price of Living in Paradise

Busunaga

The island of Busuanga is beautiful.

The island of Busuanga is beautiful. It’s also challenging, primitive and harsh. Living here is so much different from being on holiday. The reality is unless you have deep pockets life is hard. Infrastructure is poor in the Philippines and resources scarce. You are constantly battling the environment – sun, heat, dust, insects, animals.

Water Tank

Our empty water tank.

The heat is beating me down, making me so lethargic I don’t really want to move. Well, we did arrive in summer, hot season and it’s just beginning. It’s been four days without a refill on our water tank. The town’s water reserves are low, very low. We can’t do the laundry and ‘the Chef’ is running out of clothes. We try and conserve the best we can but it doesn’t help that the people next door syphon off our water. The kicker is we also pay for it.

Bat

Bat in our water tank. Eww.

As a last insult our remaining 20 litres of water got contaminated when a bat decided to go for a bath in our drum and couldn’t get out. At first I wanted to wait until ‘The Chef’ got back to deal with it. He was down the street at the neighbour’s doing laundry but I said the hell with it. What was I so afraid of? It took two tries but I managed to scoop out the bat and dump it unceremoniously in the yard. Despite all the hardship our neighbour sent his niece and nephew over and filled 5 water containers for us from an alternative water supply.

34 degrees in the shade

59 degrees in the sun. Insane.

We’ve had seven brown-outs in the last two weeks. Life is getting harsher. A transformer blew up so we were without power for almost three days. A second year of El Nino has brought drought and high temperatures. The first night without air-conditioning or even a fan was brutal but our bodies are slowly began to adapt.

Water

Taking care of our own water.

We take so much for granted in western society. If you’re thirsty just turn in the tap a fill your glass. Here we need to plan our drinking water. We bought five 25? litre jugs that we need to fill in Coron town 15 kilometres away.

Tricycle

Supply run. Beer, pop and water.

When we moved out of Coron town to the village of San Nicolas we also had to hire a tricycle to get our supplies home. I made the mistake of riding in the tricycle instead of on the motorbike on one of our runs and it was a bone jarring, wet experience (the lids on the water containers came loose and I ended up sitting in water). Seven of those fifteen kilometres are on a crappy, dusty dirt road.

Squid

Cooking squid adobo.

Cooking in our simple kitchen is a challenge. We have a basic cooktop (with only one of the two burners working, some kitchen tools we brought with us and our determination. The biggest challenge has been the ants. They are everywhere and they love seafood. On night we bought some squid from the little market down the road and the little buggers went on full attack mode. Our strategy was for ‘the Chef’ to clean them, then for me to take out all the trimmings and clean immediately. We had a nice squid adobo for dinner.

This isn’t Disney World. This is reality. We did sign-up for this ‘adventure.’ By renting a house outside of town we get to experience what normal living is like for the average person. Let’s see if we can hack it.

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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.

Balut

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.

I’m Canadian, Eh? 021

Photos and thoughts about Canada.

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 Canada, the country I grew up in.

Maple Syrup Lines, Wyebridge, Ontario

Maple Syrup Lines (photo: David Allan Barker)

Figgy duff, Saskatoon berry pie, and split pea soup are just a few of our tasty exports. ~ 12 foods Canada has given the world (besides poutine), Maclean’s, August 3, 2012

Ooh All Dressed Chips

Ooh All Dressed Chips (photo: Chinkerfly)

There seems to be some sort of confusion surrounding one of our most delicious, addictive chip flavours; Canadians know All Dressed Ruffles chips have a unique taste all their own, keeping us coming back for more (and more and more and more). ~ Americans are finally getting All Dressed Chips, but they don’t understand them…yet, The Loop, September 21, 2015

McBarge

McBarge (photo: Taz)

Whatever you eat here is one sad, sad meal. This boat was once home to a rare floating McDonald’s, which was built as a shining beacon of innovation for Canada’s 1986 World Expo. Conveyer belts delivered shakes and fries, glass windows offered panoramic views, and a tiny tugboat pulled up alongside the barge to collect Big Mac wrappers and cups. ~ Abandoned Floating McDonald’s Does NOT Serve Happy Meals, Huffpost Travel, March 17, 2015

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

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

I’m Canadian, Eh? 020

Random photos and thoughts about Canada.

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 thought-provoking images about Canada, the country I grew up in.

Maple Jello @ Cabane à sucre au pied de cochon

Sugar Shack Snack

Maple season is finally upon us. Quebec is home to hundreds of the best cabanes à sucres (aka sugar shacks) in the world and supplies about 80% of its maple syrup…..Martin Picard is the mastermind behind Au Pied de Cochon and since 2009, he is also the brains behind Cabane à sucre Au Pied De Cochon. This sugar shack is unlike any other. Not only does it elevate traditional sugar shack cuisine to an uber gourmet level, it also does so with an untamed imaginative flare. Pea soup with foie gras, mackerel omelet, pancakes fried in duck fat and smothered in the cabane’s maple syrup are just few of the dishes that have been featured at Picard’s sugar shack. ~ The 5 Best The 5 Best Sugar Shacks (cabanes à sucre) Around Montreal

Pillow Fighter

Pillow Talk

If you’ve ever wanted to hit your fellow citizens, then International Pillow Fight Day is for you.…..You can smack and whack your friends and strangers with a pillow until your arms go limp…..Of course, your opponents also have to be holding a pillow. And they can hit you back…..This pillow whacking free-for-all is how hundreds of Torontonians spent their Saturday afternoon on Easter weekend, as they converged at Nathan Phillips Square, pillows in hand, taking fluffy swings at each other during the Toronto segment of International Pillow Fight Day. ~ ‘Massive’ pillow fight takes over Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, The Globe and Mail, April 4, 2015

Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Riding the Trail

You might want to quit your job after reading this…..Outdoor gear company Woods Canada is hiring two people to take a five-month trip across Canada this summer and document their adventures hiking, swimming, canoeing and climbing along the way……Each person will be paid $20,000 plus all travel costs, accommodations, food and a full Woods wardrobe…..They will travel as a team along the Trans Canada Trail and work six days a week from May 12 until Sept. 30. Those worried about tenting with a total stranger for five months can apply in pairs. ~ Dream job alert: Get paid $20,000 to travel, camp across Canada, Metro, April 1, 2015

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I’m Canadian, Eh? 019

Random photos and thoughts about Canada.

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 thought-provoking images about Canada, the country I grew up in.

Northern Lights, Yukon, Canada

Northern Lights

The skies across the country will light up with the breathtaking colours of the aurora borealis during the solar maximum this year. Here are some of the best spots to catch the view. ~ The best places in Canada to view the northern lights, Canadian Geographic

"Love you forever and always"

Locked in love

Many places in Canada have been hit by this strange lovesickness. On Vancouver Island, the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet is full of love locks, as is the Humber Bridge in Toronto. The debate has just begun. Should we be thinking of environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing alternatives? Are the hanging locks more like artwork or graffiti? And if the authorities decided to get rid of them, would they keep on returning… just like an old love? ~ A love too heavy to bear?, Gazette, July 9, 2014

Ice Hotel Québec City

Cool Hotel

We went up to Quebec City especially to visit the Ice Hotel. We stayed on a Sunday night and managed to pick a quiet weekend – only 25 guests so there was plenty of solitude which added to the charm. Sophie gave us the talk on how to survive the night and she was fantastic. We slept through the night there – a little cold at first and then got used to the feeling of the sleeping bags and we both settled. ~ “Wow – this was an amazing experience,” John P., TripAdvisor Review

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I’m Canadian, Eh? 018

Random photos and thoughts about Canada.

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 thought-provoking images about Canada, the country I grew up in.

lairson sledding

What’s next, snowball fights?

As more cities in Canada and the U.S. become concerned with liability costs and catastrophic injuries, they are passing by-laws, posting signs, restricting access and even outright banning tobogganing. The crackdown has inspired pro-sledding protests, music videos and petitions. ~ Freedom sliders defy tobogganing bans in defence of Canadians’ right to slide down hills, The National Post, January 12, 2015

Axe.

Not just for lumberjacks anymore

Eyes on the target, the pressure is on as Niki Schiafone raises a 28-inch axe high over her head. It’s the tie-breaker of her first game in Toronto’s axe throwing league, held in a Port Lands warehouse with multiple playing lanes caged in barbed wire. Her opponent has landed a blade just off the bull’s eye and Ms. Schiafone must stick hers right in the centre to win the match. ~ Where burying the hatchet can gain you points, The Globe and Mail, June 13, 2014

snow drummer

It’s just winter

Polar Vortex: Every year, meteorologists struggle to come up with innovative terms to bring terror to viewers over weather conditions. Polar vortex has its own Wikipedia page, and it really is a scientific thing, but six-o’clock weathermen (and women) started tossing the term around anytime the temps dropped. How about we just go back to calling it “winter,” agreed? ~ Banished words for 2015: Don’t ever say these cra-cra words again, you hack, Examiner.com, January 2, 2015

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