Monday, May 26, 2008

San Agustin Convent Chapel

A picture of the Augustinian convent chapel at San Agustin church in Old Manila. Though the church itself still exists (the sole surviving great church in the destruction of Manila in WWII), the convent, where this chapel was located, did not. It is completely polychromed in gold, or so I have read.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Something Entertaining

The 80s. I'm glad I was born at the end of that ridiculous decade, hahahaha. 'Look around like a hound till you catch that fox!' LOL

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Because I'm in love. Because we've been doing it for 500 years. Because she deserves it. Because she is the Mother of God. Because it is May. Because she is our Mother.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Assassination of General Bustamante

A curious footnote in Philippine history is the assassination of the governor general Fernando Manuel de Bustillo Bustamante y Rueda in 1719. The general, who came to Manila from Mexico on 9 August 1717, quickly proved to be an unpopular figure, which would later lead to his assassination, unique in the entirety of Philippine history for being instigated by priests and religious. On 17 October 1719, it was reported that all of Manila was at a standstill; church bells sang funeral dirges, and the citizenry lit candles, multitudes of them, as if it were Dia de Todos los Santos. Word reached the ears of the Governor that the religious were conspiring with many of the citizens to assassinate him. In response to this, he had the Archbishop of Manila, H.E. Antonio Cuesta, arrested and thrown in jail. This would prove to be his fatal mistake.

Two days later, just before the crack of dawn, the sons of St. Dominic, St, Francis, St. Ignatius, and St. Augustine poured out in droves into the streets of Manila, and processed to the Palacio del Gobernador..

"The Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians came out from their convents, each as a body, carrying in their hands crucifixes and shouting, ‘Long Live the Church! Long Live King Felipe V!’… they were joined by people of all classes and proceeded to the Church of San Agustin…

The governor who was roused from his sleep and informed of the arrival of the mob sprang up and ordered the guards to keep back the crowd… He dispatched an order to the fort to discharge artillery at the crowd; but he was so little obeyed that, although they applied a match to two cannons, these where aimed so low that the balls were buried in the middle of the esplanade of the fort.

Without opposition, this multitude arrived at the doors of the palace… As for the soldiers of the guard, some retreated in fear, and others in terror laid down their arms. The mob climbed up by ladders and entered the first hall, the halberdiers not firing the swivel-guns that had been provided, although the governor had commanded them to do so…

{Bustamante} attempted to discharge his gun at a citizen standing near and it missed fore; then the governor drew his saber and wounded the citizen; the latter, and with him all the rest at once attacked the governor. They broke him right arm, and a blow on his head from a saber caused him to fall like one dead."

In the aftermath of the assassination, it was said that the Te Deum was sung in the streets of Manila, and that the governor's body was yet made subject to a heap of other indignities too numerous to mention. Finally, his and his dead son's body, with their remaining relatives, were banished to the galleons to return to Mexico. It remains a controversial, albeit rarely discussed, footnote in Philippine history, with a number of historians defending the efficiency of Bustamante's reign. Prior to his arrival, Manila was governed by corrupt officials (hmm, this sounds familiar), and her treasury was in shambles. To be fair to the governor, he was able to raise Manila's coffers significantly, but his ruthlessness, it was said, also knew no bounds.

You may read some more of this incident in these following websites.

"A fatal religious procession"
Assassination of General Bustamante

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

RIP Jimmy Mizen

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Jimmy Mizen, 16, murdered for refusing to pick a fight. As a teenager, I am deeply affected, not only because it was a life cut too short, but because from what I have read, Mr. Mizen was an exemplary character who brought love and joy to everyone who knew him. A devout Catholic and an altar server, Jimmy was killed, apparently by a fellow teenager, who smashed a dinner plate to his neck, and thus, bleeding to death. It is indeed sad that a gentle soul like him would have to die such a tragic death. Pray for justice, pray for his family. I've little doubt that he is with God now.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

St. Francis Xavier Church, Nasugbu, Batangas

Can you believe this Church was just recently renovated? And yes-- those are the renovations! I was able to visit this church in April of last year; prior to this occasion I had last been in this church in April of 2005. Back then the murals still had not been painted and the retablo was still being finished. I'm particularly smitten with the chandeliers, I've seen them in person, and thought they were just absolutely fantastic. Nasugbu is a small town located in the province of Batangas, just two hours' drive south of Manila. It is famed for its beaches and multiple azucareras; many prominent residents of this town are of the old Spanish mestizo extraction. I have a couple of relatives in this town, and visiting them-- and no doubt, their church-- is always a pleasure.

The official website of St. Francis Xavier parish is here. Also, do check out their Flickr account; it has many beautiful pictures of the spectacular high altar, and more.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sinigang na Baboy!

Sinigang na Baboy is arguably my favorite meal in the whole world. For those who don't know, sinigang na baboy means 'sour soup with pork', roughly the equivalent of the Thai tom yum, only less spicy. In fact, many Filipinos compete to make the sourest sinigang possible. In my opinion, it's best eaten on a cold, rainy day, as the hot soup is always refreshing in any circumstances. Here are the ingredients and steps to make sinigang.

First, you need the broth, and to make that, you need some tamarind first. Locally, it is called sampaloc, and half a kilogram usually suffices for making the broth. Clean the sampaloc, and place it in a pot with roughly 7 or 8 cups water. Heat for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your tastes. I think the rule of thumb is the longer the sourer, though I think there's also a danger of draining away all the sourness. The best way to see if the broth is ready is when the tamarind pods are "mashable" or at least very soft. After boiling, discard the solid tamarinds, and strain. Don't worry if the broth looks cloudy, it's supposed to be that way, in fact, most people I know think that it's meant to be that way.

Ideally, while this is being done, you should have your pork ready by then. Typically, we use pork ribs for sinigang, although pork chops are also an acceptable substitute. Some cooks sear the pork first to add some zest to it, but typically, this is not required. Make sure to add a lot of bony parts, as these help to add flavor to the broth. Most Filipinos also opt to keep the fat in the pork, citing its velvety smooth texture as the pinnacle of all delights. Add a large quantity of water to the pork, together with some chopped tomatoes and spring onions (green onions if none of the former). Since sinigang is a typical Filipino dish which means the more ostentatious the better, many also add leeks, eggplant, sitaw (long beans), long green chili, and patis (fermented fish sauce); some also add black pepper to make it spicier. The quantity depends on the cook's liking, but usually these are in quantities that do not outnumber/outpower the pork. Let this simmer for at least 40 minutes.

After this is done, add the tamarind broth to the pork. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and then add kangkong leaves (water spinach). These are a favorite of mine, and I like them in large doses in my sinigang. You can also add the water spinach earlier, with the rest of the pork, but this might turn them a rather unappetizing shade or brown. Thus, it's preferable to add them later so that they retain a somewhat vibrant green hue. I also like to add more onions at this point, just because they're awesome, LOL.

Finally, when all is done, sinigang na baboy is served! It is always eaten in the Philippines with magnificently hefty servings of steamed white rice. I like to put some of the broth in a cup and then just pour everything on top of the rice. The pork is tender and exudes a very sour, yet absolutely very tasty, uh, taste. You may also keep some more patis at hand, to make it even sourer; kalamansi (calamondin) is also another fine option. Kainan na!

*Note: The word sinigang is actually a method of cooking. Fish, prawns, and chicken siningang are all respectable dishes on their own. Typically, 'sinigang na manok' or chicken sinigang is not called thus, but given the moniker 'sinampalukang manok'; that is, literally, 'sampaloc-ed chicken'.

Some Updates

Dear Readers,

It has been a long time since I properly updated this blog. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have posted less and less frequently, occasionally popping in for prayer requests and some rants. Partly, this hiatus is my own fault; as I've mentioned, I've been battling severe depression lately, and it has really taken a toll on me. Just looking at the mirror confirms that I am now rather gaunt, if not a bit downcast. The good news is that I am not bi-polar, although I have been told that I am prone to depression. Apparently, I have many family members who are of similar situations, so I guess I am not alone in battling this. Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and your prayers.

Also, I have added an option for Donations to this blog. The main reason I am doing this is because I've finally decided to be 'independent' to some degree, that is, I'm now going to pay more a third of my college tuition. Lately, I've felt like I've been in all your endeavocausing my parents undue stress with education, and I wanted to help them by alleviating some of the burden from their shoulders. I don't think I can go steady with a part time job yet, though, as I still have some personal issues to resolve. That said, your donations would be of tremendous help! Please understand, though, that I am NOT demanding anything from you; I will still continue blogging, donations or not.

Finally, I ask that you all be patient with me! Although this blog is not exactly a 'mega-blog', I am nevertheless DELIGHTED with all of the thoughtful and humorous comments you have left in my posts. They have seriously given me much to ponder, and I have to admit that they are often the inspiration for some of my posts. Once I again, I thank you all for reading my blog. May the Good Lord continue to bless you all in everything that you do!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Myanmar Cyclone

Of your charity, please pray for the souls of the 22,000 dead and 41,000 missing as a result of the recent, devastating cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (aka Burma). There are bigger, more real news out there than the Indiana primaries or the latest celebrity scandals, and this is one such item that is sadly, outrageously, lacking attention.

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine:
Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendentes:
in vocem deprecationis meae.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: qui sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est:
et propter legem tuam sustinuite, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus,
speravit anima mea in Domino,
a custodia matutina usque ad noctem.
Speret Israel in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia
et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.