Friday, September 30, 2016

Merienda sa Casa Amante

June, July, August and September are difficult financial months for many ordinary families in Filipinas. These are the months after the enrollment of children in school. The tuition, books, and other miscellaneous fees have just been settled. That's why we call these months as "tag-hiráp" months, hehehe! But it's normal. We all go through this kind of hardship from time to time. And since my family is not spared from these tag-hiráp months, we just thought of going to a place where we could enjoy some cheap but delicious Filipino merienda. Besides, it's the rainy season, and the cold weather is about to arrive in a few weeks. That's why we opted to visit San Pedro Tunasán's famous "lugawán" (congee eatery) at the Población (town proper) to partake of its delicious arroz caldo (congee) which is actually situated at the first floor of one of the oldest ancestral homes in our young city.

This house was once the home of former Mayor José L. Amante. My hubby Pepe, a member of the San Pedro City Historical Council, informed me that Mayor Amante was super strict. He used to scold men who strolled at the plaza without any shirt and sent them home. He was always seen with a hat and wearing a suit. He was known for his fiery speeches. He was a just leader especially when it comes to law enforcement. Under his term, San Pedro Tunasán opened its first factory (Kimberly Clark) as well as Aclem Paper Mills, Inc. and Holland Milk Products, Inc. (now known as Alaska Milk Corp.). It was also under his term when the then municipality had its very first gasoline station (Caltex) and first subdivision (Amante Subdivision). Mayor Amante was also able to upgrade San Pedro Tunasán's municipal classification from fifth class to third. Mayor Amante is a classic example of a true Filipino statesman in the local government.

José L. Amante was mayor of San Pedro Tunasán three times: November 25, 1941 – December 30, 1941; November 1946 – December 1947, and; January 1, 1964 – December 31, 1971.

Mayor Amante was also one of those who persuaded businessman Calixto Catáquiz to run for mayor.

Sadly, Mayor Amante's ancestral house which is right beside the old town plaza (along Rizal St.) is no longer habitated. We heard that those who still own the house (probably the children or grandchildren of the late mayor) are already in Canada. But they have leased the first floor to the said eatery which is officially called Bhonnete's Binalot Sa Dahon. Out of all the meals this eatery offers, many customers prefer arroz caldo not because it is the most delicious and affordable but it is simply a Filipino favorite. It consists of malagquít rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa) and goto or lamáng-loób (beef tripe). You can also choose to add condiments such as garlic or spring onions. You may also order tocua't baboy or diced tofu and pork, or just tocua alone. Both are perfect partners for the arroz caldo.

We had our merienda or afternoon snack there this afternoon, and I should say that Bhonnete's has one of the best tofu I have ever tasted! You can really savor the tofu, so simple in taste with their awesome sauce. I will definitely order it again next time.

Our Nikon camera COOLPIX has been having problems these past few months. The pictures are getting blurred, but that can't stop us from taking pictures and traveling, hehehe! ¡Vamos a viajar y buen provecho!        

Yummy arroz caldo and tocua't baboy, but a must try is their goto and plain tocua, promise! 

As mentioned earlier, this eatery is at the first floor of former Mayor Amante's ancestral house which is locally known as a bahay na bató. It is sad that they have abandoned the second floor completely. My husband Pepe and our three boys (Mómay, Jefe, and Juanito) explored it after our merienda and they were disappointed to find out that it's already abandoned and dirty. The wooden floors seemed weak, too, and there are many huge holes on the wooden panels and walls. We hope that the heirs of Mayor Amante still have plans to preserve this place because there are only few heritage houses left in Filipinas, particularly in San Pedro Tunasán. Besides, it is already considered as a historical site because a former mayor who had contributed so much to San Pedro Tunasán once lived there.

My husband is an advocate of heritage conservation, and he strives to impart this love for heritage to me and our children. That is why whenever our family travels, we make it a point to explore ancestral houses. So don't be surprised if you see us taking pictures of bahay na bató homes whenever we travel. We only have a few of these houses left, and we are afraid that the next generation might not be able to see them anymore.

We love bahay na bató homes!    

What I have learned from my husband is that the bahay na bató's ground floor is usually made up of adobe which has ground seashells, lime, and egg white for mortar because there was no cement yet during the Spanish times. The second floor is made up of light materials (wood) and is topped with red tile roofs. That is why it is said that the bahay na bató can withstand typhoons and earthquakes for many, many years. Red tiled roofs are difficult to break unlike modern houses that have galvanized iron. Whenever there are strong typhoons, galvanized iron roofs end up like flying saucers as they are carried away by the winds, making it so dangerous to go out whenever there is a bad weather condition, LOL! That is why the sturdy bahay na bató should be declared as our true National House, not the flimsy bahay kubo. We inherited this unique architecture both from Mother Spain and from our indigenous past. They introduced to us this kind of house which is built to last. 

Even Junífera Clarita's right foot got a taste of the hot arroz caldo... ouch! Good thing it is not that serious, just a slight burn. My hubby is applying some ice on her right foot to ease the pain while we are all strolling at the old town plaza.     

We should really preserve our Bahay Na Bató ancestral homes. I've actually seen such houses that have been preserved successfully because they were converted into establishments without their features changed, like that 7-Eleven store in Pila, La Laguna and Union Bank branch in Santa Rosa, also in La Laguna. Even if they're old, it's been tested and proven that they can still be used instead of having them demolished completely to give way to a new house or building (Daddy Pepe says this good practice is called "adaptive reuse"). Bahay Na Bato houses is part of our identity as Filipinos, so we should really give importance to them.

Please click here for the complete photo album and don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook! ¡Gracias!      

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Seventeen years of burning love

Sweetness overload at Yellow Sweets Café


                                                   it is perhaps because
                                                   one way or the other
                                                   we keep this distance 
                                                   closeness will tug as apart
                                                   in many directions
                                                   in absolute din
                                                   how we love the same
                                                   trivial pursuits and
                                                   insignificant gewgaws
                                                   spoken or inert
                                                   claw at the same straws
                                                   pore over the same jigsaws
                                                   trying to make heads or tails
                                                   you take the edges
                                                   i take the center
                                                   keeping fancy guard
                                                   loving beyond what is there
                                                   you sling at the stars
                                                   i bedeck the weeds
                                                   straining in song or
                                                   profanities towards some
                                                   fabled meeting apart
                                                   from what dreams read
                                                   and suns dismantle
                                                   we have been all the hapless
                                                   lovers in this wayward world
                                                   in almost all kinds of ways
                                                   except we never really meet
                                                   but for this kind of burning.

This poem is similar to our relationship as a couple. The poem is about love thriving more in distance. Me and my hubby Pepe are not apart. We've been together for the past seventeen years but there seems to be a "distance" between us. We don't jibe most of the time regarding many things. He is the radical type, and I'm more diplomatic. He is short-tempered, but I have a lot of patience. I love summer, but he loves the rainy season.

I am weird, but he's the weirdest, hahaha!

Selfies! =) =)

My husband is a bit hard-headed and sometimes aggressive, but I'm more soft and tender. He tends to panic, but I remain calm. Like all couples, we quarrel, we fight, we disagree. Contrary to what our friends may think of us, we have so many things that are not in common. My husband is very intelligent with his highfalutin words, and I'm just my simple self, hehe.

But no matter how we disagree with each other, I always believe in the saying "opposites attract".

you sling at the stars
i bedeck the weeds

And so to my husband: in each trial we've faced throughout our seventeen years together, you have always remained by my side even against all odds. We may not get along together most of the time, but with this kind of burning that we have, our hearts have rolled into one to form a different kind of love, igniting and burning.

Happy 17th anniversary (and 3rd wedding anniversary), my love! ¡Te amo mucho! Let us always live by the words of God, may we continue to remain faithful to each other, as we have promised to God during our wedding, and may we always have more patience in the midst of trials, and more love, compassion, and understanding so that both of us will continue to live happily ever after, together with our five children.

My love for you will always remain, from here to eternity even though we don't always agree in so many ways, but for this kind of burning.

Please click here for the complete photo album of our modest anniversary celebration at newly opened Yellow Sweets Café (hope to bring our kids there next time)! And don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook! ¡Gracias! =) =)