Tag Archives: Philippines

I Katha

*Tala:  Wala pang pamagat ang kathang ito kung kaya’t sa ngayo’y ito muna ang aking tanda: I Katha o “Fiction Part I”.

 

Kapag umusbong ang isang nangungusap ng pilosopiya, makikilala kaya ito na ito’y bahagi ng kanyang kalikasan?  Pagka’t siya ay may malayang kaisipan na binubuo ng kanyang diwa’t pagmamahal.  Hindi ba’t may ilang makata na di mawari ang pag-ibig na kanyang ibinabahagi sa kanyang mga tula ngunit sa pagtatagpo lamang ng isip at puso nauunawaan ang kahulugan.

Hindi ko akalain na matatagpuan ko ang ganitong lugar.  Ang dimensyon kung saan ika’y makalilikha ng mundong gusto mong kalagyan.  Sino ang makapagsasabing may kapangyarihan kang lumikha?

 

 

*Ito ay aking inspirasyong nahango sa mga aklat na sulat ni Neil Gaiman.  Hindi ko siya nabasa, pahapyaw lamang ngunit nabigyan ako nito ng ganitong ideya sa pagsusulat ng maaaring patunguhan ng aking kwentong katha kung ito ma’y magtuloy sa isang mahabang kwento.

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Agriculture Magazine

What magazine do you read these days?

When I went to a 2nd hand books bookstore here in the Philippines called “Booksale”, I browsed the current publications of magazines in the Philippines.  Booksale has a reputation of being frequented by artists, intellectuals and avid readers to explore new things from old books and magazines alike.  Although they also offer newly published local and imported books and magazine publications, there are only few. 

One that surprised me was to see an Agriculture magazine.  It is being published monthly by Manila Bulletin to update the public on the current trends in agriculture in the country.  It is a growing business.  After all, the nation is mainly an agricultural land.  If there’s one thing the country can successfully offer to the world market, I think that would be natural (organic) products.  No wonder a lot of investors are coming to the country to explore its natural resources and manufacture them using their technologies; it is since the Philippines is having a hard time making its own technological industry.  

But because of the natural ingenuity and industrious character of Filipinos, we find ways to adapt to the changing needs of the country and the world.  Innovative ways to improve food production and food security measures are fast coming to fruition.  Sustainable crops are a variant of staple foods that farmers are now growing.  In this issue, I learned of traditional white corn being produced in Pampanga, a province located in the Central Luzon region.  Despite not being a popular one to grow among corn farmers due to low market demand and smaller economic returns compared to the popular yellow corn, one farmer here prefers to grow this traditional corn.  This crop is a sustainable one and has cultural value.  One local delicacy called “binatog”, which is a merienda or snack I like when I was little, is one food that can be made out of this unique crop, white corn.  It is the first time I learned about white corn where this snack I used to enjoy when I was a child is made from.  I rarely see sellers of this delicacy these days in Manila, even in our place in San Pedro, Laguna.  I remember when I was in grade school, there were still some binatog sellers roaming in bicycle around the village to sell this as a snack in the afternoons.  The bike has a pail with cover tied and placed carefully at the back.  The pail is the container of the binatog, the boiled white corn kernels.  And this street food seller will serve one order with a cup-full binatog topped with grated coconut and sugar.  It is so delicious.  This street food used to be a popular Filipino snack here in the Philippines.  And another dried white corn product is “kornik”.  Usually, these white corn food are available in the provinces of Luzon. 

There is also a growing fondness for lettuce in the country.  It is a favorite staple ingredient for salad lovers.  And salads being made in the country are usually the organic ones.  A growing number of lettuce farmers are having regular buyers for this vegetable.  Along with these lettuce being grown are usually the cherry tomatoes and other herbs.  Various organic ways to repel insects in order to replace the use of pesticides are also being done.  Aside from it, having a chicken farm and even raising rabbits to make fertilizers rich in nitrogen are farming and gardening ideas that enrich the landscape of agriculture in the nation.

Having trellis in a garden especially a vegetable and herb garden is such a lovely scenery.  Especially if the vines growing there produce flowers.  And more so if there are hanging vegetables.  It is so nice to harvest them.

So from greenhouse construction to producing organic products, how to grow in the organic business to venturing in sustainable crops, being a supplier of raw ingredients to understanding the demand in food, you’ll learn a lot in this magazine.  Many authors of the articles are experts including scientists and professors, practitioners and enthusiasts in the field. 

All the positive vibes in the business in agriculture sector including soil improvement, you can get it here.  I think restaurant owners, will also benefit from this magazine.  They can have an overview of local produce that can be potential suppliers of organic products straight from the farms and gardens.

And the best part is you get to know more of what you eat, how you can be a part of the success of agriculture in the country, which is the industry that is very important in the development of the nation’s economy.

Geographically, you’ll also learn of the culture and natural resources abundant and being raised in the regions.  There are many programs that the government and non-profit organizations are being done to help farmers produce the best quality food to be available in the local market.  And these are our assets that we also play in the global marketplace.

In my opinion, knowing our strengths and weaknesses in the global economy in terms of our geography is a wise thing to consider.  We’ll know more how to play wisely, when we know our assets.  We’ll come to know our liabilities as we go along and manage how to balance and keep safe.  The agricultural industry in the Philippines is one that can give us our best yield economically.  Fiscal measures are important but the support from the grassroots to the local consumers will definitely play an important part in the success of industry building in the country.

 

 

Singaporean Pad Thai @Soi

I went with a date at Soi.  Soi is a Thai Restaurant.  The branch that I went to was in Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City.  My date treat me with a sumptuous meal.  These are what we ordered:

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  1. For appetizer, it’s fried spring roll. 
  2. For my main course, Singaporean Pad Thai—my favorite! 
  3. For my drinks, my date ordered for me and let me try, Vanilla Thai Tea Shake.  (I initially declined because I didn’t like the taste the first time I drink a cold beverage Thai tea.  Well, he had his reason and I just followed it.  He told me that I should try it because of what I ordered.)
  4. For a drink that I like, it’s calamansi juice, which he usually orders also for him whatever it is that I order as a drink.  This is one of my favorite cold drinks.
  5. For his main meal, breaded pork chop with yellow rice, which is a bit spicy too.  It has curry in it.

What I especially like in Thai food are their sauces!  I was so amazed with the sauce of the fried spring rolls.  It is carrot sauce, which is blended carrot with a little bit of sweet vinegar.  Fried spring roll with the carrot sauce is so appetizing!

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 And just look at the place, isn’t it so enticing?  Your senses will slowly open in these Asian colors.

Going back, Singaporean pad thai is a kind of fried noodles, which has barbeque pork, bell pepper, bean sprouts, green onions and scrambled egg.  How the spicy flavor of this dish was mixed, it is so yummy!  The taste is just so rich in flavors.  Each ingredient is defined in every bite.  I would say, the chef here really is a good cook!  I’m no food connoisseur, but I tell you my tongue has a way of dissecting taste of every ingredient in a food.  I am very particular if the ingredients used are natural, with quality and where is it made from.  I like organic food so my taste buds are I think trained to know if one has natural flavors.

I’m the type who eats because I love the taste.  I love the feel-the ambiance, the place itself, the company.  I love the service.

I am just an ordinary person who likes simple food with natural flavors.  It makes it more wonderful when I am with people who like the same.  But I just really like the taste of Asian cuisine, especially that of Thailand, Singapore and Korea.

That is why my date is my best partner in eating at restaurants.  For him, he doesn’t mind what he eats as long as he is with a person he wants to be with.  And I happen to be the lucky one! 

I am no feast eater too.  I don’t like having so many food in front of me.  I’m the type who takes a pick on what I eat by looking at the menu.  I love looking at the menu with all the choices the restaurant offers.  But I don’t like having too many to choose from.

Here’s the thing, I want practical, orderly and quality things.  So that is why I guess each thing having a particular plate is so appealing to me.  I like being able to customize particular food.  Which is why condiments section or having specific containers for each condiment is very important.  Here at Soi, it is nice.

Chilli flakes is one particular condiment that I especially like when eating at a restaurant.  I like eating in Asian restaurants so I especially like or very particular with the sauces and condiments they offer.  And for me, the sauces in Thai food is the mark of success of the restaurant.

When I tasted the sauce of the fried spring rolls, which was the first time that I tasted it as a fried one (I usually order it fresh with peanut sauce, which I also like), the sauce is very appetizing.  The sauces they make are what makes me crave for more.

It actually reminded me of the delicious sauce I also tasted in another Thai restaurant here in the Philippines.  The sauce is mashed eggplant and green chillis with sweet vinegar.  It is the sauce for their Chilli Squid O’s, their brand of Calamares, the breaded squid rings.

I love these sauces and food.  I love their spicy noodles.  And need I say more that their food are really delicious?

My favorites in Thai food are pad thai, noodle soup and chicken.  With others, if there are vegetables and side dishes too like that in Korean food, I like it a lot.  It’s only the time that I can eat meat.  But when it comes to spicy food, nothing beats Singapore and Thai’s spicy noodles!

With Singaporean pad thai, I like its spiciness.  It tastes like the spicy dried “pusit” (dried squid) here in the Philippines.  They almost have the same flavors, which is why I guess Singaporean pad thai is something close to my heart when it comes to spicy food.  I used to eat these spicy “pusit” when I was a child like it is a candy.  It is actually in very small transparent square plastic wrappers with small amounts of tiny bits of spicy squid, about five pieces at most where you can buy in sari-sari stores. 

In the Philippines, sari-sari store is usually a small portion in front of a house turned into a convenience store  in a residential area .  A store where you can buy in retail products for everyday use.  Most of the products are what we call “chichirya”, goodies for kids like chocolates, chips, candy bars, bubble gums and other sweets.  Other food usually being sold are sometimes ice candy (different kinds of juice made frozen), ice buko, instant noodles, instant coffee and many others.   Beverages being sold include softdrinks, beers, bottled water, milk and juices in tetra packs, bottles and cans.  Other retail products are soap, shampoo and conditioner, detergent bar or powder and the like.  Natural foods include raw and salted eggs, bread, and some vegetables.  Just a trivia here in the Philippines.

Going back to these Asian noodles, I’d like to tell the difference I observed with the Singaporean pad thai and the pad thai.  This is what I have only observed in Thai restaurants here in the Philippines.  The Singaporean is spicy while pad thai is not.  With the former, the egg ingredient is scrambled while with other pad thai, it has an egg net.  The egg net is like beaten egg sifted while being fried and put on top of the noodles, which looks like chicken wire.  Also, with Singaporean pad thai, for me, there’s no need to add chilli condiments for it is already spicy while with pad thai, to make it spicy, you have to add chilli condiments.  And that’s the fun part!

Now, to make the spiciness of the food be neutralized, that’s where the Thai tea is for.  For me, as a stand-alone cold drink, Thai tea shake is not one I especially like.  With the Vanilla Thai Tea Shake I ordered, it is like a float-there’s a vanilla ice cream on it.  That’s what my date ordered for me (which I agreed), he knows that I’m going to need it.  He is right.  It goes well with spicy food.  After all, he lived in Thailand for 4 years when he was young, that is why he knows about it.

I love my man.  We always eat in peace.  We have good conversations while eating.  He makes me feel secured.  And he can make me smile.

And one more thing, he ordered a dessert to make our meal complete despite telling him that I’m already not feeling well because of feeling full.  Or rather because of having put chilli flakes in my Singaporean pad thai a little more than I should (which I realized only later).  And so our dinner was culminated with sweet banana with cocomilk.  He always eat half of the food I order because I have a smaller capacity for eating.  Although he does wait for me when I am still half-way to go and he’s done eating everything he ordered including half of mine.  And when I’m done, he’ll have the dessert served.  And we eat them together.

This is what we had in Soi.  I love the food.  I love the structure of the place.  I even liked the drawings of elephants in small frames in the cupboards. 

And so, our date was said goodbye with a picture of the elephant, which is the pendant of my necklace I remembered.  He was even embarrassed to take a picture of the drawings in the cupboard near us when I asked him to.  

Well, no doubt there will be more of these food reviews.  Chow lah! 😉

Street food

Street food

I love food!

That’s Dalandan Mint Juice in Fruit Magic cup. Dalandan is a kind of Philippine orange fruit, only the color is green, which turns yellow when really ripe. The juice or the fruit itself are eaten when the peel is still green. It is best to eat or squeezed to make juice when freshly picked. It has a sour taste and natural sweetness. When it is almost yellow or really yellow, it is already too ripe and the taste is so sweet that is unsavory. That is why when eaten as a fruit or prepared as a juice, it is made sure that it has its natural sour taste with a little bit of sweetness. With Fruit Magic food cart, they add mint, which gives it a unique flavor.

The one on the left is lobster ball from Potdog. I really love small servings of food. I call them “little food” instead of street food because they are not being sold on the streets; they are being sold usually in food courts or on sidewalks within the malls in the Philippines. These food are being sold in what I call “food booths.”

This lobster ball is my favorite among the well-known usual street food like fish ball, squid ball and kikiam. These original street food are usually being sold in mobile food carts-carts with wheels parked on sidewalks of busy streets in the Philippines. I remember when I was a grade school student, the fish ball vendor will park its food cart on the sidewalk beside our school. At that time, it was only fish ball but later on, it has evolved to having other choices like squid ball, kikiam, “kwek-kwek” (breaded quail eggs) and cheese sticks. These street food are being fried in front of you as you order them. And now, other street food vendors like Potdog also included lobster ball, crablets, crab egg, chicken nuggets, or even potato wedges. Almost anything that is easy to fry and eat quickly with a nice sauce.

And the one on the right is organic lumpia with special egg wrapper from Aboy’s Fresh Lumpia. It is a food booth at Shopwise Supermarket in Festival Mall, Alabang. I usually frequent Aboy’s to buy fresh lumpia for lunch or as a quick snack when I shop there.
Usually these three are just a snack for others. But since my capacity for eating a meal is just as small as this, it is already my lunch. 🙂 For others, there is a selection in Potdog wherein you can avail of one serving of the street food with rice and drinks. These food are supposed to be for merienda or just a snack but you may observe that many Filipinos have this appetite for fried food and make it a meal. I confess, it is cheap and it is very delectable and appetizing.

I think, it is one thing about Filipinos. We love food! 🙂

Ang Pinakamagandang Food Court

Filipino

Dahil mahilig akong kumain ng mga maliliit na serving ng pagkain, lagi akong kumakain sa mga food court.  Gustung-gusto ko bumibili sa mga food booth na partikular lamang ang tinitindang pagkain o inumin.  Tulad ng sa inumin, ang paborito ko ay calamansi at buko.  Hangga’t maaari ay mayroon nito sa aking kakainan at kung wala naman ay dalandan, four seasons o lemongrass.

Sa lahat ng food court sa mall na nakainan ko sa Pilipinas, ang food court sa Landmark Trinoma (sa hilagang bahagi ng EDSA, Quezon City) ang pinakamaganda, pinakamalinis at pinakamahusay ang serbisyo at sistema.

Ito ang lugar na kung saan ang pakiramdam ko ay para akong nasa Singapore. Halos pareho ang itsura ng istruktura.  Ang mga upuan ay tama ang mga espasyo sa isa’t isa.  Hindi lapit-lapit na pakiramdam mo ay napakasikip at kailangan mo lagi makipagsiksikan.  Sa aking pagpunta sa Singapore, natutunan ko kung gaano pahalagahan ng mamamayan nito ang espasyo para sa isang tao.  Laging may palugit upang di magkadikit ang taong magkakatabi. Ito ay para sa akin simbolo ng kanilang respeto sa lugar ng bawat isa.

Namangha ako sa ganitong pilosopiya ng mga Singaporean.  Na ang bawat isa ay nasa lugar at dapat may espesipikong lugar.  Ang upuan na para sa isang tao ay nararapat na para lamang sa isang tao.

Pagdating naman sa kalinisan, mas lalo naman ako namangha.  Naging kultura na nila ang mapanatiling malinis ang kapaligiran.  May mga basurahan sa kapaligiran na sistematikong nakalagay sa lahat ng pampublikong daraanan ng mga tao.

At kahit na naging bukas sila sa iba’t ibang dayuhan, hindi nila kinalimutan ang unahin ang kanilang pambansang kaugalian: ang panatilihing ligtas ang mga mamamayan mula sa sakit, dumi at krimen.

Kung kaya’t ang kanilang batas ay istriktong ipinatutupad sa lahat.  Bawal ang manigarilyo sa lugar na hindi pinahihintulutang manigarilyo.  Bawal ang dumura sa kalye na para sa akin ay nararapat lamang naman na magbigay galang sa mga pampublikong lugar kung saan ang lahat ay makikinabang sa linis, ganda at kaayusan ng paligid.

Isang taon na ang nakalipas nang ako ay nakapunta roon.  Kahit na hindi ako nakakuha ng trabaho doon ay na-appreciate ko ang kanilang hospitalidad sa mga dayuhang tulad ko.  Naramdaman kong ako’y ligtas din tulad ng mga mamamayan nila roon at mga permamnenteng naninirahan na roon.

Natuwa ako na doon ko lamang naranasan sa unang pagkakataon na makapag-shorts na pakiramdam mo ay ligtas ka.  Dahil natural lang doon ang naka-shorts at di ka tititigan.  Mayroon silang “manners.”  Di ko alam kung manners yun ngunit hindi sila yung tipong parang noon lamang nakakita ng legs.  Wala silang pakialam.

Yun ang isa sa mga nagpasaya sa akin doon.  Maliban doon ay napakasarap mag-commute.  Napakaalwan.  Gustung-gusto ko sumasakay sa kanilang bus at tren-ang kanilang MRT at LRT.  Nainggit ako sa sistema ng kanilang lipunan.  Napakaayos.  Gusto ko ang pamamalakad ng kanilang pamahalaan sa pagpapatupad ng kanilang mga polisiya at batas.  Kung tutuusin, sila ay hindi konserbatibo o sobrang istrikto.  Para sa akin, ito ay balanse.

Pagkat ang kanilang lupain ay di tulad ng sa Pilipinas na agrikultural kung saan makapagtatanim ka ng palayan at iba pang mga pagkaing pananim, nakagawa pa rin sila ng mainam na paraan upang maipamalas ang kanilang paggalang sa kalikasan at di sila magutom kahit na wala silang taniman.

Naipamalas nila iyon sa pamamagitan ng paglikha ng mga hardin at parke sa bawat malalaking munisipalidad ng kanilang bansa.  kahit na ang kanilang mga pagkain ay puro imported mula sa iba’t ibang bansa sa buong mundo, nagagawa pa rin nilang maging katamtaman ang presyo ng mga pagkain upang maging risonable sa mga mamamayan nito.

Ang isa pang ikinatutuwa ko roon  ng ay ang makitang ang mga bata ay nagco-commute ng sila lamang sakay ng pampublikong bus.  Sa wari ko’y mga siyam na taong gulang pataas.  Kung sa atin ay nasa antas pa lamang ng elementarya pataas gang high school at kolehiyo.  Yung tipong para lamang nasa school bus ang lahat ng pasahero.  Ganun ang kanilang sistema ng transportasyon.  Tatlo lamang naman ang kanilang pampublikong sasakyang panglupa–bus, taxi, at sa pamamagitan ng tren (rail) na  MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) at LRT (Light Rail Transit).

Sa kanilang pampublikong transportasyon, wala akong masasabi.  Hanep sa ayos.

Sa bus at sa LRT, mayroon silang prepaid card na ginagamit at ang tawag nila rito ay EZ-Link.  Ito ay parang ATM card na itinatapat sa EZ-Link card reader machine sa mga bus at tren pagsakay at pagbaba upang maibawas sa load nito at malaman kung magkano pa ang natitirang load sa card.  Mayroon ding parang ATM Machine sa mga istasyon ng tren na kung saan doon ka magloload ng halaga sa iyong EZ-Link para ipambayad sa pagsakay sa mga pampublikong sasakyang ito.

Kung wala namang EZ-Link ang sasakay, maaari rin namang cash ang gamitin.  Sa bus, walang kundoktor.  Ang tagapagmaneho (driver) ng bus ay tagapagmaneho lamang.  Wala siyang ibang gagawin kundi magmaneho lamang sa mga nakaatas na lugar ng sakayan at babaan ayon sa ruta ng kanyang byahe.  Ang bawat bus ay may numerong nakaatas bilang tanda kung anong ruta ang dadaanan ng byahe nito.

At ang mga pasahero ay alam ang limitasyon kung hindi na sila dapat sumakay dahil puno na.  Sila ang tipong di nakikipagsiksikan, kailangan ay laging may natitirang espasyo na kagagalawan ng bawat isa at di magdidikit ang mga katawan.  Ganito sila kadisiplinado pagdating sa kinalalagyan ng bawat isa.  Tulad na lamang sa kanilang MRT at LRT, ang mga upuan dito ay pang-isa isang tao.  Hindi maaaring umupo at sumiksik sa gitna nito kahit pa kasya kahit man lang ang isang bata.  Ang isang upuan ay para lamang sa isang tao.  At nakatutuwa na kasama sa kultura nila na awtomatikong tumatayo ang mga nakaupo sa upuan madalas sa may sign na pangmatanda o pang-buntis at pang-may kasamang bata kapag may nakita silang nakatayo na doon nararapat umupo.

Dahil sa foodcourt na ito, bumabalik ang magagandang alaala ng aking karanasan sa paglalakbay sa Singapore.  Dito ko lamang naramdaman ang tunay na pakiramdam na ikaw ay ligtas.  Yung kahit iwanan mo ang iyong bag sa mesa ng kainan o sa upuan ay walang kukuha nito.  Minsan nagagawa ko yun dito sa Pilipinas ngunit laging babalik ang aking isip sa pag-aalala na baka nga ito mawala.  Sa ilang beses ko namang nagawa ito, hindi naman nawala ang aking gamit.  Siguro’y sa aking pananabik na magkaroon ng ganoong lipunan dito sa Pilipinas.

Trinoma Landmark Food Court

*Ito ay para sa aking Lolo na yumao na.  Malalim siyang magsalita sa wikang Tagalog pagkat siya ay taga-Mindoro Oriental.  Siya ay laging nagtatalumpati noon sa mga pagtitipon ng aming pamilya at angkan.

 

English

Because I like eating small servings of food, I always eat in food courts.  I really like buying from food stalls that has only a particular food or drinks they sell.  Just like in drinks, my favorite is calamansi and buko.  As much as possible, these are available in the place I’ll dine in and if those two are not available, hopefully, there’s dalandan, four seasons or lemongrass.

Of all the food courts in malls that I’ve been to here in the Philippines, the food court at Landmark Trinoma (in North part of EDSA, Quezon City) is the most beautiful, most neat and has the best service and system for public dining in a shopping mall.

This is one place where it feels like I’m in Singapore.  It almost looks the same in structure.  The chairs have enough space from each other.  It’s not too close to each other that you feel like it is too crowded or you still need to squeeze yourself in.  When I went to Singapore, I learned how its citizens value the space of each individual.  There’s always somewhat a borderline so that their bodies will not be in contact.  For me, this is a sign of their respect for the space of each person.

I was amazed at this kind of philosophy of Singaporeans.  That each has its own space and must have a specific place.  The chair for one person is due for one alone.

On the other hand, when it comes to cleanliness, I was more surprised.  It has become their culture to keep their surroundings clean.  There are trash bins around that are systematically placed in all public places where people pass by.

And even if they are open to foreigners, they didn’t forget to prioritize their nation’s practice: to keep its citizens safe from sickness, dirt and crime.

That is why their laws are strictly implemented to all.  No smoking in non-designated smoking areas.  No spitting on the streets that, in my opinion, it is just right to give respect for public places where all would benefit in its cleanliness, beauty and orderliness.

One year has passed when I went there.  Despite not being able to get a job, I appreciated their hospitality to foreigners like me.  I’ve felt I’m also safe like its citizens and those who are already permanent residents there.

I’m glad because it is there that I first experienced to wear shorts that I felt “safe” since it is natural there that people wear shorts and they won’t stare.  They have “manners.”  I don’t know if it is manners but they are not the type who as if it’s the first time they’ve seen “legs.”  They don’t care.

That is one of the things that made me happy there.  Aside from that, it is so pleasant to commute.  Very convenient.  I especially like riding in their bus and trains—their MRT and LRT.  I am jealous of the system of their society.  Very orderly.  I like how their government runs and implements their policies and laws.  In fact, they are neither conservative nor too strict.  For me, it is balanced.

Because their land is not like in the Philippines wherein it is agricultural—meaning it can be planted with rice and other food crops, they were still able to find efficient ways to show their respect for nature and to have food security even if they don’t have any farm lands.

They have demonstrated these ways by creating community gardens and parks in every major local area in the country.  Even though their food are almost all imported from many different countries in the world, they can still manage to make their food prices reasonable for the citizens.

Another thing that made me happy there is to see the kids commuting on their own riding the public buses.  It seems like they are about 9 years old and up.  If it is in the Philippines, they are in the higher elementary level up to high school and college.  It seems like all passengers are just riding in a school bus.  This is their transportation system.  They only have three public land transportation vehicles—bus, taxi and through rail, which are the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and LRT (Light Rail Transit).

In their public transportation, I can say no more.  It is very orderly.

In the bus and rail transits, they have a prepaid card that they use, which they call EZ-Link.  It’s like ATM card that you put over the EZ-Link card reader machine when you ride the bus and trains to debit the fare from your card and to see how much load is left.  There are also ticketing machine in train stations where you can load for your EZ-Link to pay for the rides in the public transport vehicles.

In case a passenger has no EZ-Link, cash can also be used.  In the bus, there is no ticketing crew.  The bus driver is just a driver.  He will do nothing but only drive to designated areas where people can ride or alight according to the bus’s route.  Each bus has a number assigned to it as a sign of the route it will take in its journey.

And the passengers know the limitation if they cannot ride anymore because the bus is already full.  They are the type who do not hustle or push themselves inside just to be a part of the ride even if they are in a rush.  For them, there must always be a space where one can move around and their bodies will not be in contact.  This is how disciplined they are when it comes to the space of each one.  Just like in the trains, the seats there are designed as one seat for one person.  One cannot sit in between even if there is still space for even just a child.  One seat is strictly for one person only.  And it is so pleasing to see that part of their culture is to stand up automatically, which I witnessed many times, to offer the seat intended for the elderly, pregnant, and those with children when one happens to sit there and saw someone who needed to sit down.

Because of this food court, my happy memories of my journey to Singapore flashed back.  This is the only place where I truly felt that I am safe.  The experience that even if you leave your bag unattended on a table in hawkers or chair, nobody will take it.  Sometimes I even get to do that here in the Philippines but it will always come back to my mind that it might get lost.  For a number of times I did this, thankfully, I didn’t lose my things.  Maybe because of my longing to have that kind of society here in the Philippines.

*This is for my grandfather who already passed away.  He is very fluent in Tagalog language for he was from Mindoro Oriental.  He always give a speech whenever we have a family gathering.