Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Foods of the Philippines

Eating in the Philippines is a gastronomical experience. Some days I felt like Andrew Zimmern, some days like Anthony Bourdain. Typically when a Filipino greets you he will say "have you eaten yet?". Filipinos love to eat, and they always are sincere and want to share food with you.

Breakfast is simple: rice, egg ( can be salted hard boiled egg or over easy), with piece of meat or fish. I don't think guests at the Ogunquit Beach Inn would like this type of breakfast. However, while in the Philippines I do enjoy this type of meal.

Rice is a staple for Filipinos as it is in most Asians countries. Forty percent of the Filipino diet in calories is rice. Rice is consumed at every meal.

Merienda. Merienda is an afternoon meal, usually after school or after a nap. Here I  decided to indulge and have "Maruya". Maruya is a type of  banana fritter. Local plantains ( sabas) are cut length wise and and dipped in a batter then fried. The flour and the banana forms a fritter the size of a human hand. Rolled in sugar and served hot-Ma Sarap (delicious). I went to my favorite street vendor everyday to enjoy these tasty treats!


Another treat is ice cream. Filipinos eat a lot of ice cream. Ice cream vendors sell this on the street in pushcarts. The Filipinos call this "dirty ice cream", because its sold out on the dirt ( hence the road...). Served on a bun, flavors can be avocado, cheese or mango. This is a true ice cream sandwich! Something I consumed almost everyday!


Everywhere you go in the Philippines there are street vendors selling food. The variety is amazing. Filipinos eat on the go, often eating little meals. For meals on the run, Filipinos will eat at turo-turo stands. Turo-turo literally means pick-pick, and you would pick your sides that would accompany rice. These meals are relatively cheap.

Typically, supper for Filipinos is rice, with either chicken, pork or seafood. One popular dish is chicken adobo. This dish is cubed chicken  marinated with peppercorns, vinegar and soy sauce. Fish is either fresh or dried. In the Philippines nothing is wasted. You eat virtually the whole fish. Roasted chicken, roasted pork are also popular for dinner. One of my favorite side dishes is  a sour soup called sinigang. This soup  is made with tamarind and may have, shrimp, pork or chicken with vegetables.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Running in Metro Manila!

Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about
                                                                                         -PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Racing in the Philippines is a challenge:  the heat, humidity and different terrain. Running in general, can be a challenge in a megalopolis like Metro Manila. The city steams with 12 million people, 18 hour long  rush hours, diesel exhaust and poor infrastructure,  but that didn't stop me!
I ran in the Haribon 5k race at Fort Bonifacio. Fort Bonifacio is now called the "Global City". The community consists of fine dining, shopping, office buildings and luxury condos. The "Fort" is a planned community so its easy to run and there is almost always a race during the weekends (sometimes there are 3 or more races in one day throughout Metro Manila).
I chose the Haribon 5k race because it is a charity with a mission on preserving 1 million hectares of rain forest for conservation in the Philippines.

Entry fees are modest in the Philippines. This race the fee was 400 PHPs ( @$10). For that you got a certified race course, a real goodie bag loaded with schwag, tech shirt, book about Philippine wildlife and other promotional treats. Most races are 350 to 600 pesos in the Philippines. A bargain compared to the states. I placed 8th in the men's division and 10th overall out of 350 people. A good race for me, but not my best time. The three H's were tough: hills, heat and humidity. Filipinos are modest, so running without a shirt was not an option. Race started at 5:35am. Early race times are the norm in Manila.

Its tough to run through most of Metro Manila due to traffic, and bad sidewalks. I did find a great place to run in the middle of Quezon City, the Amoranto Stadium. The Stadium is in the middle of Quezon City On Roces Avenue.  Early in the morning there are runners, walkers and tai chi enthusiasts exercising on the track in the stadium.

There are places to run in Metro Manila: The University of Philippines campus in Diliman, where the streets are shaded with Acacia trees. While at the University of the Philippines High School in the late 70's, I ran on this campus. The air is a bit cleaner and their is less noise.

The sidewalks in Makati are relatively safe and free of potholes. In the business district of Mandaluyong, the sidewalks are good, and traffic is a bit saner. In the Ermita/Malate/waterfront district there is Manila Baywalk. This Baywalk path is a two kilometre stretch between the US Embassy and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) just past the Manila Yacht Club. This baywalk/esplanade is right on the water, and the view at sunset is phenomenal.

Sometimes the best part of running is overcoming the challenges. Thats why I enjoy training in different enviornmnets! Gusto ko na tumakbo sa Manila!

For more info on races in Metro Manila, visit http://www.pinoyfitness.com/

Basureros, or "Oh, to live on Smokey Mountain"

But when you own a big chunk of the bloody Third World, the Babies just come with the scenery...
                                                      -Chrissy Hynde

In the Philippines there have always been poor people. People are born and live on the streets their whole lives. This little boy (age 11), was wondering around Intramuros in old Manila. He wore and oversized t-shirt with no footwear. He was begging for money or food. Many of these children are orphans. Some are left behind as their parent(s) forage through garbage for something to eat, and recycle garbage for money.  Many of these recyclers ( basureros) make about 60 pesos per day. About $1.25 . Many of these children are obviously malnourished.

Within feet from where I sleep, near my hotel there are several homeless people sleeping on cardboard under building overhangs with their children.  This newborn sleeps under a bank overhang on the sidewalk in Quezon City. The pollution from diesel vehicles and elements pose some of the many problems this child will suffer.

Rugby Boys has a whole different meaning in Metro Manila. On my visit I noticed packs of boys and girls many pre-teen, sniffing inhalants in a bag. I later found out that they are sniffing a contact cement for a drug induced effect. One such 'tween told me that it keeps him from thinking about food. (notice the bag next to the foot of one orphan. The boys sniff inhalants out of these bags...). These boys are called Rugby Boys.
Sometimes the poverty is overwhelming, however there is a direct correlation with over population and poverty. Its common to see a 22 year old women with four kids in-tow living on the street. Education is free in the Philippines, but you do need to buy a uniform, have shoes, and need to buy lunch. This is out of reach for many people here. I really don't know what the answer is to stop the cycle. Maybe family planning, maybe education. President Aquino is trying to pass the RH Bill (reproductive health bill), which would allow family planning on a local level. He has wide support except from one organization: The Catholic church. Ironically the church is a huge land owner in the country, and collects money for the poor ( like this collection statue), yet  I could not find any Catholic charities involved helping the poor. Once again, the church is using money to try to alter government.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Philippine Jeepney

The ubiquitous Jeepney. Part bus, part off road vehicle. The Jeepney is synonymous with the Philippines. After World War II, the Filipinos were left with surplus US Jeeps. The Filipinos used these vehicles for transportation, and accepted riders for a modest fee. Over the years Filipinos improvised and altered these vehicles akin to "pimp my ride". Many are lavishly (or garishly) decorated with names of routes, loved ones, religious icons or Disney characters. Many of the jeepneys that roll through Manila's streets are 50 to 60 years old.

Over the years the Jeepney has evolved, and soon the next generation will be e-Jeepneys.
The Jeepney is a relatively cheap way to maneuver through the streets of Metro Manila

Friday, November 12, 2010

Back to the Philippines!

(Greg 1979 on Mactan Island)

The off season in Ogunquit signals us to start our winter adventures. This year, I have decided to return to the Philippines. I lived in the Philippines in 1978 - 1979. Back then it was an exotic place full of intrigue and surprise. Metro Manila a cosmopolitan city with millions of people, and the country side with a more simpler way of life. The diversity of these two ways of life was amazing to me back then. 

Cebuanos building a boat. April 1979...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

End of Season- November

The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation:
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen closer,
I find its purpose and place up there toward the November Sky.
        - Walt Whitman

Its that time of year when the last batch of muffins are made.......
It's time to say goodbye to the last guest.....

Time to say goodbye to the everchanging north Atlantic.....

Time to batten the hatches of Ogunquit Beach Inn for 2010.

Don't get me wrong, Ogunquit is beautiful in the quiet season of late autumn and winter. Crisp skies, with cumulus clouds that stretch for miles. My runs are long and fast in the winter. The abscence of people has a calming effect on the soul during the off season. We have spent many winters in Maine and in New England, but its our turn to be a tourisit. Time to explore. Time for adventure.
Our 1569 mile (2525 km) adventure starts in early November at 04:00 am.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ogunquit Memorial Library

                                The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history
                                                                                                                  -Carl T Rowan

Many people have warm memories of their public or school library when they were growing up. For me it was the stacks of books, comfortable chairs and the sense that time stood still. At the Ogunquit Memorial Library, time has stood still. The Library is closed from Noon to 2:00 pm for lunch ( It is rumoured that it is closed for two hours because that's how long it took one of the first librarians to walk home have lunch and walk back many years ago). You also sign books out the old fashioned way: by signing your name on the card on the back of the book.

The fieldstone structure was built in 1897 by Charles Burns in the HH Richardson Romanesque Tradition. The Library is unique in that it receives no funds from the town, and financially supported by donations and endowments.

The library's charming interior, with its huge stone fireplace that was once the only source of heat, has changed very little through the years. The structure resembles a mini castle with a turret tower. Ogunquit has a long-established art colony and the library has a collection of several paintings from local artists. The art collection is worth a visit on its own. While browsing along the stacks of books, I came across a book that was donated and signed by famed Ogunquit artist Henry Strater. You really never know what treasures are behind these stone walls!

The Details:
Ogunquit Memorial Library
166 Shore Road
Ogunquit, ME 03907
Phone: 207 646 9024

Hours: Winter, Tuesday to Saturday 9:00 to noon; 2:00 to 5:00
Librarians are helpful and resourceful. There are no public restrooms or computers. The library has an interesting Ogunquit art collection. There are over 18,000 books in the collection, daily newspapers, and best sellers. The annual  book sale is a must if you are visiting Ogunquit in the early autumn.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween Ogunquit 2010

Children must know fear. Without it, they'll try Frenching grizzly bears or trying to live in Florida.
                                                                -Coach Sue Sylvester of William McKinley High School

Halloween is quite festive in Ogunquit. Sunny days with cool crisp nights. Traditional Halloween events are held at Maine Street Nightclub  and Oxygen Bar. Many visitors return for this closing holiday weekend. Its a long weekend full of vampires, queens, pirates and  other characters....

I admire the creativity and thought process that goes into the costumes. Who would've thought  that THE Queen would pop in for a visit, or Sue Sylvester from Glee would make an appearance....

 This years theme was Dirty, Sexy, Disney. Maine Street Nightclub was decorated like a Disney castle gone mad.

A town like Ogunquit attracts talented and creative people, and I am glad to call it my home.