Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why yes, I am Martha Stewart

I have noticed that since moving here, I tend to be more "crafty". This is not to say I have any skill at it, it just comes as a surprise since I really did not do ANYTHING craft related before moving out here. Here, life seems to be opposite of the states in some regards. I feel like in the states, I was of the mindset of why do something if I can pay for it to already be done. Why make coffee in the morning when I can just grab a cup on the way to work? Why iron when the dry cleaner will do it for me, better and faster? Here, there is the mindset of why pay to have it done, when I can do it myself. And this thinking led me to try and become Martha.

Despite what you may think, it is the Christmas season. The evening news has a countdown which is why I know there are 37 days left until Christmas. No Thanksgiving to break it up or get in the way (since I am going to SF this year for Christmas, I was overruled and Thanksgiving will not happen at my house this year). Thus, the start of the Christmas shopping. We have 18 village security guards, ~30 clients or professional associates, countless god-kids, and billions of people in my in-laws neighborhood. These are our somewhat obligatory gifts and do not count close friend or family. Our security guards get grocery baskets (rice, ham, sardines, tuna, cookies, tube of potato chip things that look like french fries), clients get wine (some get fruit as well), god-kids get age appropriate books or educational toys, and the billions in Tondo get toothbrushes (we gave out 500 last year). Needless to say, we start early.

Wine was selected at S&R and we went to Divisoria to buy the wrapping (as well as a fake Christmas tree). The pre-decorated bags were P25 each (~$.50) but we could buy plain craft paper bags for P13 (~$.25). Guess which way we went?

Started with a plain bag

Bought red and green ribbon for P17 (~$.35 per 50 yard roll), little holly leaves, and red berries ($.30 for 10 sticks with two pieces each), Christmas labels for P10 (100 labels ~$.20), and a glue gun for P60 (~$1.25).

While watching a downloaded episode of Top Chef, we made the above bag.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Next year will be the presidential elections. I am still (after over three years here) at times very confused by politics here and still have not fully grasped how everything works. I am ecstatic that GMA will be out of power (unless she pulls some last minute shenanigans). I also love the parody videos that tend to come out around this time as well. This is by far my favorite of the moment.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Our village is one of the villages in the Philippines that usually participates in Halloween. While it is not a country-wide holiday (like All Saints Day the following day), some areas do have events. This year, Halloween was canceled in our village due to Ondoy. Besides the fact that many houses in the village sustained damage, a squatter area right outside the walls was almost completely decimated. Thus, it was decided that the money usually spent on the Halloween should be spent (and rightly so) on grocery donations for the people who lost their homes.

The kids (who live in Tondo which is one of the areas that does not have Halloween celebrations) had been asking about Halloween for the past few months (since perhaps July) since they had been here last year for the village party and trick-or-treating. There was no way we could just tell them Halloween had been canceled so we instead decided to throw a Halloween party at home.

We did everything fairly traditional with the exception of costumes because we knew the kids would want to swim and it seemed like a waste to have everyone all dressed up just to jump in the pool 20 minutes later. We had swimming, spaghetti for lunch, and a bunch of games. A slew of the kids slept over and they stayed up late into the night watching horror movies. It was a very successful holiday all around and everyone woke up early enough to go to the cemetery for All Saints Day the following day.

Bobbing for apples....

Doughnut on a string game

Our Halloween giveaways were little paper mache pumpkins (which look like eggs due to the fact that I used water balloons instead of normal balloons). We filled them with candy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Adobo Aso

Eating dogs was a post I avoided writing about because it is such a cliche. The whole Filipinos eats dogs is as tired to me as a travel show coming here and focusing on none of the cuisine besides balut. So what changed my mind? Well, it had a lot to do with the dog I saw being slaughtered this morning.

While statistically, that majority of people who live here do not eat dog meat, to say that this is an extinct practice or one that only takes place in the north or in remote provinces is way off. It definitely happens and to accidentally witness the slaughter, makes me want to vomit. I do not fall into the camp that believes that because I live in another country I have to either love or respect all aspects of the culture and to do otherwise is either some form of neocolonialism or sneaky manifest destiny. I think that the home slaughter of dogs is disgusting. It is worth noting that both the dogs I have come across being killed were in Manila.

I grew up in a major city. I have never lived on a farm. I eat meat. If I saw the cow alive before I ate it, I would likely not be able to eat the steak. I am one of those who likes to pretend my meat was born already chopped up at the butcher. However, I think even people who are used to the animal as food equation would have issues with a dog being repeatedly bashed with a 2 x 4. This is the second dog I have come across being killed in the three years I have lived here. I have not gotten desensitized to it and likely never will.