Monday, January 23, 2012


I am an Ilocano. Therefore I eat almost everything. As long as it doesn't kill me.

It was indeed a culinary trek worth of an Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmerman as I decided to birthday on the road and join colleagues from the Kingdom of Pee in a 3-day Ilocos road trip.

APPETIZER: Somewhere in Novaliches is a place called Kambingan ni Tsong (?) where, before hitting the road, we decided to have lunch. Yeah, it serves goat dishes which are mostly of Ilocano origin and we wolfed down kilawen (regrettably blanched, not grilled), sinampalukang up and down (that's the head and feet) which is surprisingly good, pinapaitan (I'm on a low purine diet so I passed), dinakdakan (yuk, mayonnaise instead of pig's brain), and a not so Ilocano kaldereta.

TEASER: Dinner was one of those bus stops somewhere in La Union's Bangar-Sudipen area where a lonely Partas bus was parked. It was late, we were hungry. And God bless everybody for the authentic Ilocano pinakbet (it must exude of ginger) and balatong (seasoned with bagoong instead of salt or patis). There was also sinanglao which I reluctantly passed again.

BEACH FOOD: The food at the Apo Idon's Beach Hotel in Pagudpud is a disappointing your-usual-hotel-fare. Until they served pinakbet and lauya which we requested, and grilled some seafood a colleague bought from the market. And I had my birthday pansit too which is the usual bihon topped with boiled quail's egg, kikiam, and fish crackers. 

PASALUBONG GALORE: I was the food guide on the trip back to Manila, and we started with packs of biscocho from the Pasuquin Bakery --- freshly baked and anised before being toasted. I said we have to stop in Batac for empanadas but was told back that we can have these in Sinait where it supposedly originated. We got busy shooting in Paoay and missed the chichacorn. Gone too are the empanadas in Sinait as we were asleep when we passed by.  We were not sure if Marsha's in Bantay sells bagnet and longganisa too so we side tripped to Vigan and ended up with frozen (read: embalsamado) versions. Later over coffee and cassava cake at Marsha's, we found too late that they do have freshly cooked bagnet and longganisa too. Our last pit stop was Candon where I bought a pack of its famous calamay for the wife.  

THE MAIN COURSE. The highlight of our Ilocos culinary adventure was at Dawang's Place in San Nicolas, in between our Pasuquin and Paoay jaunts, where we feasted on its calorie loaded fare of crunchy dinardaraan which is actually dinuguan with deep fried meat bits, igado which I think is the Ilocano's version of the menudo, tinuno or plain grilled pork with fresh tomatos, kilawen which is raw thinly sliced beef (Pinoy carpaccio?) swimming in a thinned bile dressing (the papait) dip, and the famous paksiw which is a cross between pinapaitan and sinanglaw.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Isinulat ko ang tula sa ibaba noong Nobiyembre 1990 habang dumadalo sa Luzonwide Congress ng College Editors Guild of the Philippines na ginanap sa Mariano Marcos State University sa Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Sinusubok ko noong isabuhay ang paggamit ng mas madaming "images" katulad ng payo ng aking mentor na si Oyet P.

At ilan nga sa mga nagamit kong "images" ang sinking bell tower ng Laoag, ang lawa ng Paoay, at ang mga larawan nina Imelda at Makoy na aking namalas sa aming pamamasyal sa Malacang of the North.

Sina Kiko Maniego at Karina ay mga totoong tao at tunay kong nasaksihan ng burahin ng mga alon ng dagat ang mga pangalan nilang isinulat sa pampang.

Sa huli kong biyahe sa Ilocos ay kinunan ko ang mga imaheng nabanggit sa tula at napagpasihayan ko, ngayon at ngayong oras din, na muling ilimbag sa blog na ito ang nasabing tula kasama ang mga nabanggit na larawan.

DANNIW (Kay Karina at Kiko Maniego)

Kung bakit pinagtipan kayo ni Apo Lakay
ay kapalaran na lamang marahil ang dahilan.
Ang mahalaga’y nagsalo kayo
sa nag-iisang mangkok ng pinakbet.
Sumumpa ka, Kiko,
iguguhit mo ang kanyang larawan sa mga alon ng Lawang Asul,
paaawitin ang mga nawawalang kampana ng Lumang Simbahan,
at huhugutin ang lumubog na Torre sa bituka ng lupa.
Makulay ang mga sandali ng inyong isang gabi,
mga haplos sa dibdib, mga kumawalang maiinit na hininga
habang nakatuntong sa ilusyon ng Hari’t Reyna.
Sayang nga lang at kailangang maubos ang Basi
at tuluyan nang natuyo ang katas ng bagoong.
Ikaw, Karina, ay walang nagawa
kundi timplahin ang tubig dagat sa ilang patak ng luha
habang pinipilit pigilin ni Kiko ang pagbura ng alon
sa mga pangalang nakasulat sa pampang.

MGA LARAWAN: (1) Lawang Asul = Paoay Lake, (2) lumubog na Toree = Laoag Sinking Bell Tower,  (3) ilusyon ng Hari't Reyna = Malacanang of the North.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


The trip back to Manila from Pagudpud offered me a chance to update my gallery at least on the heritage churches of Paoay, Magsingal, and Sta. Maria. There sure is an ocean of change from my days as a point-and-shoot wannabe to a serious DSLR-totting photography hobbyist as the photos below show:

Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Circa 2005, Olympus Camedia

Circa 2012, Nikon D40

Magsingal, Ilocos Sur

Circa 2005, Olympus Camedia

 Circa 2012, Nikon D40

Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur

Circa 2005, Olympus Camedia

Circa 2012, Nikon D40

But I can say the eye for composition was already there. The Nikon D40 sure helped a lot too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


My plan was carefully calculated: if we leave at 10 am, then we will have enough time to shoot the heritage churches of Luna in La Union, and Sta. Maria and Magsingal in Ilocos Sur before night overtakes us. That of Paoay's in Ilocos Norte will be on the way back where I can also update my take on the Patapat Road, the Bangui wind mills, the Burgos lighthouse, Laoag's St. William's Cathedral, Batac's two churches, and perhaps even the Luna ancestral house in Badoc.

But it was not to be as we left at 11 am, had lunch first at a kambingan somewhere in Novalices, and killed almost an hour at a gas station waiting for a left-behind luggage to be delivered.

It was dark when we reached Agoo and I'm glad I took a shot at the settling dusk as we stopped to buy supplies for the bottle of Bacardi rum on board our ride. It will be my only photo of that day. Then it was a sleepless bumpy ride to Pagudpud from there and all I could do is point out colonial churches along the way and tell something about them. 

I hate night trips...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


is when kidneys fry
from the ghosts of spirits imbibed
like purine stones colliding.

is Ewan McGregor home at 5,
Masaharu Morimoto chasing pots from 6,
like “Pawn Stars” dozing off by 10.

is when the clock tick louder
as spectacles peel the blur ahead
like a pause dropped in midday’s silence…

Sunday, January 15, 2012


“The jewel of my office reminds me to be upright always as I stand guard at the South Gate and refresh the Brethren while they pursue their labors…”

(Photo taken by Kuya Florante Fajardo)

Sunday, January 01, 2012


Dacquel ti Dios ken naimbag
Isu't mangted kanen ti biag
Apo kenka agyaman ka'm
Kanen mi inaldaw itdem


Apo umay kad' kadakam'
Ditoy 'yan mi a panganan
Taraon mi bendisyunam
Espiritum punwen na kam'


In memory of our Amang Lakay, ANTERO LAZARO aka Lakay Sippi, who taught us to sing these prayers before every meal in that sorely missed house in magical Almaguer...