Monthly Archives: March 2014

fresh from the oven


“Why don’t you go check?” said my dad as we pulled up in front of the tiny store near the bus stop.

It was scorching hot but I got out of the car anyway and ran excitedly to the lady at the counter.

“Sorry, it’s not yet available,” she said.

My heart sank and I turned to walk away.  I had only taken two steps when the guy in the kitchen suddenly called out, “Wait! It’s almost done!”

Huzzah!  I wanted to do cartwheels right there and then.

After a minute or so, I walked out of the store carrying two bags of bibingka (a type of Filipino rice cake) that had just come straight from the oven.


Everyone in the car was just as excited as I was.  We all wanted to gobble up the bibingka right away but they were still piping hot.  We had to wait until we reached the next town so we wouldn’t end up with burned hands and tongues.

They were definitely worth the wait though.  They were so good, I couldn’t help thinking, “With bibingka as yummy and fluffy as these, who needs toppings?”


*Available at the store in front of the bus/shuttle stop near Laguindingan Airport at P10 apiece


fare thee well


When my sister was a little girl, she and my grandfather planted an avocado seed in our front yard.  It grew and grew and after many years, it finally bore fruit.  The avocado from that tree was the creamiest we had ever tasted.  It wasn’t hairy or bitter like most avocado fruits sold in the market.

We loved that tree dearly.  Not only because it produced the best-tasting fruit, but more importantly because it was my sister and my grandfather who planted it.  We worried about it incessantly during typhoons.  It was the first thing we checked as soon as the sky cleared up.

We found out fairly recently that the avocado tree was actually planted out of bounds.  We hoped the owners of the adjacent lot wouldn’t cut it down when they start construction.  We were assured it wouldn’t be touched.

So imagine my consternation when I went outside one day and saw one of the construction workers cutting down about half of the tree.  I was ready to raise hell then.  But they told me they were just lopping off a few branches.  They weren’t going to chop down the whole tree.

The avocado tree had five fruits then.  It produced a lot of blossoms after that.  It seemed as if it was pleading its case.

“Look, I’m going to bear much fruit! Please don’t cut me down!”

Every single day, I would sit on the balcony and marvel at the sheer number of blossoms and how big the fruits were getting.

“They’ll be ripe soon.”

“The avocado will be ready in about a week.”

“Just in time for your sister’s arrival.”

We all monitored the fruits’ progress.  I guess we all had that fear that we would wake up one day and find that the tree had been chopped down.

I never thought it would be today.

My dad had just got back from an errand when he burst in and said, “They’re chopping it down!”

I immediately ran outside and saw the construction workers mercilessly butchering our beloved tree.

“The roots are in the way,” they said.

But they could’ve warned us.  Our attachment to the tree wasn’t a secret.  We declared how important that tree was to us.  The least the owners of the lot could have done was tell us that they were chopping it down.

We could’ve at least taken a picture of our beloved avocado tree with all its blossoms and fruits.

We could’ve at least said good-bye.

no place like home


I’ll be in the metro for a few days next month and I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about the trip.  I look forward to catching up with friends, visiting my beloved Alma Mater, and going on a foodtrip with my siblings.  But the metro to me is like the moon is to Ernie.

Well, I’d like to visit the moon
On a rocket ship high in the air
Yes, I’d like to visit the moon
But I don’t think I’d like to live there

As much as I miss the happenings (film festivals, concerts, and art exhibits) and unlimited choices (food and shopping), I simply cannot imagine living there–not at this point in my life.  The daily commute is just too stressful and the pace too frantic.

On the other hand, life in my hometown is pretty laid-back.  It’s quiet but not too quiet.  You see, Iligan is a hybrid.  It offers the convenience of city living but at the same time, it retains that probinsya charm.  We have a mall (albeit a small one), wifi hotspots (practically everywhere), and most other stuff cities typically have.  But we also have waterfalls (more than twenty-two!), caves, and all those lovely things the countryside is known for.

More than anything though, I love being in Iligan because this is where my family is.

There’s so many strange places I’d like to be
But none of them permanently
So if I should visit the moon
Well, I’ll dance on a moonbeam and then
I will make a wish on a star
And I’ll wish I was home once again…
So although I may go, I’ll be coming home soon
‘Cause I don’t want to live on the moon
No, I don’t want to live on the moon

Daily Prompt: We Built This City

against all odds


So what happens if the dreaded just in case comes to pass, if I find that the odds are not in my favor?

Well, I could switch careers and be a stunt woman instead.  No, you didn’t misread the previous sentence.

Stunt woman.

“But you’re a couch potato who doesn’t even know how to play a sport or ride a bicycle!” you think (or maybe yell into the screen).

Well, I have relevant experience.  And I got it right smack in the middle of my board exam.  Perfect timing, huh?

About five minutes before the start of the second part of the exam, I took a bathroom break.  But just when I was about to leave the rest room, I noticed that the lever of my cubicle was missing.  I couldn’t open the door!  I repeatedly screamed for help but nobody came.  I stood on the toilet seat and tried to turn the lever outside but the door refused to budge!

I decided to go back to Plan A, i.e., scream for help.  But after several rounds of screaming, my throat started to become sore and it soon became apparent that no one was coming to rescue me.  Everyone was already inside, ready to take the test.

I sensed an and-the-world-came-crashing-down feeling come over me and for a moment, I was tempted to just sit down and cry.  The restroom wasn’t very clean though so staying there for hours wasn’t an option.  But more importantly, I didn’t want to fail the board exam just because of a missing lever.

I watched a lot of MacGyver episodes as a kid so I looked around for something I could use to pry the door open.  Nothing.

The only option left was to climb the wall.  It was pretty high and the bathroom floor was wet so I had to be careful not to slip and hit my head.  By some miracle, I somehow managed to climb the wall and get out of the restroom.

My knees were shaking and my heart was still beating wildly as I entered the examination room.  Fortunately, I got back in time. The examiner was just about to distribute the questionnaires.  I told her what happened and one of the examinees on the first row said, “Wow! Naging Angelina Jolie ka nang wala sa oras!”  I was still trembling then but I did manage to laugh.

It wasn’t until when the test started that I realized that I had a couple of scratches and that my hands were bleeding.  Although it hurt to grasp the pencil, I was more concerned about not getting any blood stains on my paper (and answering the test questions, of course).

That should count as relevant work experience, right?


I wrote this about a month ago when everything was still up in the air.  The exam results were released earlier today.  Turns out I’m not going to be a stunt woman after all.

crostini my heart


The magic from the previous night’s Kinfolk dinner still hadn’t worn off when I woke up this morning.  Not one bit.

I wolfed down some shiitake mushrooms, white beans, and couscous  then trooped to my aunt’s house to ask her about the scrumptious crostinis she made last night.

“I was actually overcome with panic when I got my assignment,” she said, “I had absolutely no idea what a crostini was!”

After consulting trusty Mr. Google, she decided to go with bacon and egg crostinis.

Her biggest problem though was the avocado which wasn’t in season.  Fortunately, she was able to score some after making the rounds at the local markets.

The recipe she found on Cooking & Beer also called for cilantro (wansoy) but none of the sellers seemed to know what it was so my aunt used rosemary instead.

Bacon and Egg Crostini with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Avocado Photo by Bobby Timonera

Bacon and Egg Crostini with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Avocado
Photo by Bobby Timonera

My aunt also made a few tweaks here and there.  Here’s her version:

Cleo Jean’s Bacon and Egg Crostini with Roasted Garlic Aioli and Avocado


  • 1 French baguette
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 strips of bacon
  • 3 eggs, hardboiled, shells removed and sliced thinly
  • ½ cup of mayo
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roasted and smashed
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • zest from 4 lemons
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 semi-ripe avocados, skins and pits removed, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lay bacon strips on top. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to degrease.
  2. Slice your baguette into ¼ inch slices and brush each side with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes or until golden.
  3. Prepare the aioli.  In a small bowl, combine the mayo, garlic, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together until completely combined then refrigerate until you are ready to use.
  4. Cut bacon into 1-inch strips then combine bacon, avocado, lime juice, fresh cilantro, and a dash of salt in a bowl.
  5. Assemble your crostini. First, top the slices of baguette with the aioli.  Then place the rest of the ingredients on the crostini in the following order: egg slice, bacon and avocado mixture.
  6. Garnish with rosemary and serve immediately.