Five Photos/Five Stories: #3 – A confession

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Manny Pacquiao, the great boxer from the Philippines, is everywhere. To my surprise, even in New York. Of course before his big fight on May 2nd he was everyone’s favorite to win over Mayweather. Everyone who’s ever interested in boxing.

I’ve never been a fan of boxing so you can just imagine I could not care less if he wins or not then. Everyone said there was too much hype to that bout. But most Filipinos believe that he won and that Mayweather cheated. I bet you if Manny won, no American would say he played dirty over Mayweather nor any Filipino in his right mind would claim that he wasn’t the better fighter.

Anyway when asked I told people I was actually betting against his opponent. Did that make me unpatriotic? I don’t know much about the sport but it’s easy to conclude that Mayweather got a big chance of defeating him. He was undefeated in his career and he’s a bigger man. Manny was counting on his swiftness and since he’s short, they say he moves real fast.

Everyone I know, even my friends, partied and watched him on tv. I didn’t. I slept through it to wake up with a message from my sisters that Manny lost. They secretly rooted for my man, not wanting to annoy their husbands or they might get blamed for the loss. We Filipinos are superstitious that way or we find every excuse when we lose.

Both boxers are now several millions richer. Great pay for about half an hour dancing around in a boxing ring. One friend said it was just a show, couldn’t believe that no one bled at all. Many of the spectators were disappointed and heartbroken.

For me, am glad it is over.

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This is the third of Five Photos/Five Stories. Thanks to Simply Beautiful for nominating me.

I would like to nominate Frizztext of Flickr Comments. Frizztext loves music and plays the guitar. I once followed his weekly challenge A to Z but I was lost for words when it came to some letters like x and z’s. But he tells very engaging stories when he does.

Rules: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

Posted in Photo Challenge, Weekly Writing Challenge | 10 Comments

Travel Theme: Tangle

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My entry to Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme Challenge for the week: Tangle.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Beyond repair

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This is my response to The Daily Post Challenge for the week: Broken.

I love taking photos of old wooden barns. Maybe because I grew up in a farm although in the Philippines the lower floor of our homes serve the purpose of a barn.

Growing up I remember underneath the house was where hundred of earthen jars filled with cakes of brown sugar, shaped in empty halves of coconut shells were stored. Thats where they also kept the farm implements and iron rods for marking the farm animals. Attached to the house was an open covered area that sheltered the animals.

The first floor of our house in town was where we stored grains – rice and corn and at some point, tobacco leaves.

Just like its American counterpart, we no longer have those. The first floor of our house in town has been converted into a livable space. Our farm house is no longer there as my late grandmother left the barrio years before she passed away and we no longer produce sugar cane.

So looking at American barns give me some nostalgia of a life so close to my heart. Am sad that pretty soon they would no longer be seen in American landscapes instead they would be replaced with barns with galvanized or iron sidings. A more practical version as wood is now prohibitive and for practical purposes the new ones would last much longer.

The barn above seems to be waiting to be demolished. Maybe it has gotten too expensive to repair and is just waiting to be replaced.

Posted in Midwest, Photo Challenge, Vacation | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pairs

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To answer Cee’s photo challenge I have decided to present faces of friendships. It’s been a couple of years since, I wonder how they look like now.

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Posted in Friendships, Photo Challenge | Tagged | 11 Comments

Five Photos/Five Stories – #2 the Greek church

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This is the second installment to the Five Photos/Five Stories challenge from LolaWi of Simply Beautiful.

There are many churches in Greece. If you go to Santorini, you’d see several church domes in close proximity to each other. They are not necessarily big, many are chapels. It turned out that many built personal chapels to commemorate a deceased loved one or as a gesture of thanksgiving.

My former boss of 30 years is Greek and I had an occasion to visit his birthplace one summer. He came from a very tiny village, almost isolated in the mountains of the main island of Peloponnese. In their property is a tiny chapel dedicated to her only sister who passed away as a child.

Then there was the church above. It was a short drive away from their house. He explained to me that his father was in the army during the war and just when everyone thought that he probably got killed he suddenly showed up one day. Remember there were no cell phones then and we know communication was very difficult. He was so grateful that he survived and was able to return to his family that he pledged to build a church in their village.

I was not able to get close to the church to even see its interior because his car broke down. I took this photo with my SLR while waiting for one of his cousins to come and get us while a passing acquaintance repaired the car right there. Aside from taking pictures, with his niece Katherine and my boss’s first cousin, John, who was also my good friend, we kept ourselves busy picking wild berries and figs.

It was a very rustic place. Very sedate and not too many houses. My boss had the biggest house in the village and the only one with a pool and the newest as they had rehabbed their old house. Cable was spotty and so was internet. It was a great place for day dreaming, perfect place to get away from the hub-bub of the city.

And I was very tired from island hopping before I got there that I fell asleep on the patio chair and missed taking a photo of the old shepherd with her herd of sheeps despite the reminder from my boss’s daughter to watch for it. The murmuring of the river down the mountain was like sweet music that lulled me to sleep. And then there were the smell of lavender, sage and oregano. When I woke up my boss had left a plateful of figs for me on the table from the next door neighbor – his cousin’s. The fig tree actually had branches with fruits that went over their property which were so easy to reach.

We had dinner one night at the next village which was a short drive from their house. It was a family restaurant and the fare very simple. We had a couple of trays of grilled baby lamb chops, crusty bread, olive oil and slices of watermelon. Of course the local wines. And yes, stewed rabbit too!

They told me what went on in the village square – the most happening place. Greeks spend their summers in their hometowns and that’s where they all meet and congregate. It was the place to look and be seen, where many courtships happen.

I spent almost three weeks in Greece that summer, attending a friend’s wedding and island hopping but I wish I had spent more time in that tiny village. I had taken several hundreds of photos and I had given the negatives and hard copies to my boss. I kept a CD for myself and hard copies too.

When Jim’s dad passed away a few years ago, I saw the enlarged copy of the above photo next to his remains at the funeral home. I felt so humbled and at the same time honored.

End of story . . .

Yesterday my first nominee was Ompong. Ompong it turned out was a former executive in the Philippines of the company I work for. Small world indeed. He considers himself a media warrior but he’s not only a good photographer, he might just find a new calling in this challenge, as a story teller. Please visit his site and tell me if you don’t agree.

For today, I would like to nominate Michael Lai of Retiree Diary. Michael is one the most well-traveled photographers here in WP, including his wife, friends and other family members. I hope Michael would join us in this challenge as I’ve not only enjoyed his photos but also the stories he told about his friend’s dog. Thank you!

Rules: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

Posted in Photo Challenge, Vacation | 9 Comments

Five Photos/Five Stories – #1 Tapas Crawl in Madrid

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This is deviating from my weekly norm of sharing with you some of my current stories and some photo challenges.

Simply Beautiful has nominated me to join this challenge of Five Photos/Five Stories.

This first photo was taken when a Spanish friend, Elisa, who was studying in Chicago invited me for a tapas crawl in Madrid. She happened to go home for vacation and I was vacationing in Spain that year. In my previous trips to Spain I’ve always enjoyed their various main dishes bypassing the tapas. Spanish cuisine is not strange to Filipinos as we have been a Spanish colony for 333 years. But I think tapas are more enjoyable when done with friends accompanied with wine or pitchers of Sangria as proven by my first experience.

Even though I hardly spoke their language and Elisa’s friend’s English were as poor as my Spanish, we had a great denominator for the night – food. They were all very friendly, hospitable and accommodating, showing me the night life in their city.

They knew Madrid very well and brought me to the best places to indulge in this very Spanish tradition. Very young, they knew the trendiest places for tapas. A tapas crawl is a good learning experience for anyone who’s new to the culture. So many little dishes in one night, the variations so numerous, the melding of ingredients result in explosive flavors beyond your imagination.

That tapas crawl taught me a greater appreciation of Spanish cuisine, culture and the people. After that vacation, I’ve shared what I learned with my family and friends. We’d frequent a tapas bar close to work for lunch and on weekends I’d bring my family. It’s been a while since I’ve last done that but I found a great Spanish restaurant that’s been below the radar of many. Time to do it soon again.

My friend Elisa is now a CPA, happily married with two beautiful children in Chicago. She remains to be my friend although lately we just follow each other in FB.

Elisa is in the middle, front row

Elisa is in the middle, front row

Rules: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

My first nomination is Ompong of Photo ni Ompong.

Posted in Friendships, Photo Challenge, Vacation | 14 Comments

Dried fish in my linguini

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On a tour of Bavarian Alps in Germany my Mom ordered shrimps and was very disappointed that she was served popcorn shrimps or teeny-tiny shrimps and my late advice to her was to not order seafood in a landlocked area.

But then again I break the rule whenever in Madrid where you can have the freshest of them even though it is up in the mountain. And I’ve had seafood in Chicago without questioning their freshness. We’re not exactly away from a big area of water – there’s Lake Michigan but like in Madrid, seafood here are flown pre-frozen or maybe fresh frozen.

My boss of almost 30 years was in town for business and family visits. It so happened my 30th year anniversary with the firm was last Saturday so he dropped by to celebrate it with lunch with a couple of my friends at work.

I got to pick the place so I thought we’d try The Pearl Tavern across the street from our building. It is an oyster bar but we were there for the other seafood.

Reservation was difficult to get, we got lucky when a group from the office wanted to cancel theirs so we just took it. Which got us all worked up that it must be that good.

Seafood pasta has and always been my favorite to order whenever I see it in the menu. Theirs has a twist to it – with smoked trout and deep-fried okra. The okra was there for texture as it was deep-fried to a crisp and the smoked fish was to intensify the fish flavor.

At first bite I was disappointed that it was very salty. I suspected they deep fried some of the smoked fish and flaked which turned its flavor to dried fish (believe me I’ve eaten a lot in my lifetime). The salt level was high which totally destroyed the dish for me. And the mussels left much to be desired.

The Bay Seasoning sauce was creamy and delicious and the scallops were huge and perfectly done. There were pieces of the smoked trout.

Adding smoked or dried fish in pasta is not strange to me. After all it has been the trend in the Philippines where we have an abundance of dried and smoked fish in our diet. But if it tastes like it came out of a salty brine, it would not be appetizing.

My friends’ impression of their orders were all positive. I definitely will order differently next time. As to my bad dish – well I picked the place so I could only blame myself.

Besides we were there to celebrate and to be in great company are in themselves blessings.

Posted in 9 to 5, At the Zoo, Battling the bulge, Chicago | 4 Comments