Archive for April, 2011



This is our very first time to spend summer abroad; although Penang and Manila share similarities under one tropical sun, my family and I still miss some things about this time of the year in the Philippines – from going to Baguio or Tagaytay Cities, to our beautiful beaches, to taking a few week break from work (or for Gabby, from school) less the part of being diaphoretic of course (read : profuse sweating!).

We miss enjoying scoopful of halo-halo topped with leche flan and ube jam and spending some afternoon with dirty ice cream, carioca, turon, banana cue and camote cue from street vendors. Sarap!

To lessen our homesickness, I brought my wifey and kid to places where coolers are best served.

One of the biggest, if not the largest mall in the Island, Queensbay Mall has this kiosk in its food court on Level 3, that sells flavored shaved ice topped with slices and balls of tropical fruits in season. They call it Snow Ice Mix Fruits.

At RM 6 (PhP 84) per bowl, one is treated to a refreshing and nutritious delight that effortlessly beat the summer heat.

If you want to sample distinctly Malaysian dishes and desserts, hit the roads and find nearby hawker food stalls where one can savor unique flavors in colors…

Ais kacang (pronounced as ais ka-chang) is a Malaysian dessert. Traditionally a special ice machine is used to churn out the shaved ice used in the dessert, originally hand cranked but now more often motorized.

Formerly, it was made of only shaved ice and red beans. Today, ice kacang generally comes in bright colours, and with different fruit cocktails and dressings. In Malaysia, almost all variants now contain a large serving of attap chee (palm seed),  red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly and cubes of agar agar as common ingredients. Other less common ingredients include aloe vera in one form or another (e.g. jelly) nata de coco, or ice cream in various variants of the dessert. A final topping of evaporated milk, condensed milk, or coconut milk is drizzled over the mountain of ice along with red rose syrup and sarsi syrup. To cater to the palates of the modern customer, some stalls have even introduced novelty toppings such as durian, chocolate syrup and ice cream. There are also versions that shun the multi-coloured syrup and are served with just a drizzling of gula melaka syrup (gula=sugar) instead. (Sourced from Wiki)

Cendol (pronounced /ˈtʃɛndɒl/) is a traditional dessert originating from South East Asia which is still popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar (where it is known as Mont let saung), Singapore, Vietnam, and Southern Thailand (where it is called lortchorng singapore ลอดช่องสิงคโปร์).

The dessert’s basic ingredients consist of coconut milk, a worm-like jelly made from rice flour with green food coloring (usually derived from the pandan leaf), shaved ice and palm sugar. Next to these basic recipe, other ingredients such as red beans, glutinous rice, grass jelly, creamed corn, might also be included. (Sourced from Wiki)

There are a thousand and one ways to celebrate summer and beat the heat. Ice cream and halo-halo still top my list.  However we spend the season, the best is to enjoy the time being with the ones we love.

What are your best memories of summer?

Have a great ‘fruitful’ weekend, everyone!



The 2 storey-5 bedroom penthouse at this appartment has been our temporary home in Penang for the past 8 months (but for my wife and kid, only after they’ve arrived last mid March).
Although Tina, Gabby and I are extremely excited to transfer to our “new home” before the month of July ends (oh yes, we thank the Lord we already found a new condo unit to rent- deposit given!), Gabby still likes it here because the place has swimming pool and playground too… nice, isn’t it?
Our little-big boy usually spends his afternoon frolicking in the pool.
But when a party for all Pinoys and our families was planned, the venue was hands down given to our colleagues’ ‘home-away-from-home’ called Kondominium Cassia at Raja Uda, Butterworth, Penang which has more gorgeous facilities than our present humble abode.
The Filipino MD-lecturers and our families opted for this beautiful resort-like appartment as the venue of our casual get-together party for our kids and some birthday celebrators few weeks ago.
Tina, Gabby and I didn’t miss the fun! We shared reasonable contribution for the party and even volunteered to bring 2 sets of these :
pâte de crevettes, mangues vertes et aubergines frites (sa madaling salita : homemade bagoong, hilaw na mangga at pritong talong!) Tina sauteed the shrimp paste, sliced the green mangoes and ehem, I fried the aubergine! sige na nga, pritong talong! LOL!
The get-together made us feel we are one with the world, hehehe… My wife felt she’s in a beauty pageant representing the Philippines…

beauties all! from right to left : Dr. Phoo from Myanmar, Ms. Tina and son Kostyk from Russia & Zamboanga, Lyn - Phoo's sister also from Myanmar and of course, my very own -Tina & Gabby from the Philippines

Tina candidly told me that she could have won it effortlessly if there’s any pageant if the contest would give more points on talent portion rather than question and answer! haha! *nose bleed* daw sya, LOL!

Definitely, a party, simple or grand, would be incomplete without something to pig-out.  The spread contained these yummies…

It felt like a feast for all of us Pinoys!

their sweet smiles say it all

Tina and I didn’t take a dip (read : I was a cat in my past life, LOL!) so Gabby was accompanied by his floater and our colleagues at the pool.

floating happily at the wonderful swimming pool of Kondominium Cassia

The moment of being a kid again is priceless!

Life will be so much better if we can only live our lives as simple as children do. *easier said than done, though!*

Imagine a dreamy life where problems and hassles do not exist and all you need to do is to eat, smile and swim!

Tina and Gelo's pride!

How is your summer or whatever season you’re having in your part of your world?



We usually celebrate Easter in the Philippines by waking up before dawn to attend the very early morning mass and witness the Salubong (restaging of the scene where Jesus Christ first saw Mother Mary after His Resurrection; little girls dressed as angels lift the black veil as symbol of mourning from the image of the Blessed Virgin in caroza). Then it’s usually followed by religious procession led by the image in caroza of the Risen Christ, His apostles and saints. I miss those events. I miss eating lechon and lechon paksiw as brunch during Easter Sunday with our entire family. Things are totally different now that we’re trying our luck  to live a better life here in Penang.

Dressed in Sari : An Indian mother and daughter who are about to hear Catholic Mass in St. Anne Church

As Tina, Gabby and I tried to make the best out of our very first Easter here in Penang, we woke up early at 4:45AM, freshen up and hit the roads to the bus stop before 6AM. We ate and sipped our purchases from the ever reliable convenience store, 7-11 while waiting (for almost an hour because we were too early!) for the Rapid Penang bus that would take us from our place in Butterworth to Jetty. 

 At Penang Sentral bus station, I personally asked the bus drivers of the specific bus and bus number that we have to ride going to St. Anne Church in Bukit Mertajam. Two of them told me the bus will leave at 8 in the morning, which I knew would be too late for the mass. So Tina agreed to take the cab for RM 25 (PhP 350) which I haggled from RM 30 (PhP 420), hehe! :D

There are other few Catholic churches in predominantly Muslim state like Penang, but I wanted my family to experience St. Anne. Its mountainous backdrop with lush greens and fresh air blends beautifully with its vast interiors and exteriors.

First built in 1888, St. Anne then was only a chapel. That original small church remains to stand still on top of the hill  beside the newly established parish for everyone to visit.

The interiors of the original chapel…

The image of the Resurrection perfectly overlooks from the top of the hill beside the chapel…

They built a new parish in honor of St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin,with bell tower that reaches the heavens…  

The massive parking lot…

And the church itself…

As faithfuls started flocking inside the church, I signaled Tina to walk toward the right side first for us to go to tandas (read : malaysian word for toilet). 

I led my family to sit in the pew at the church’s right side and started praying just before the mass. I knew that English Mass is always scheduled at 8AM at St. Anne but apparently, almost half of all of the church-goers at that time were dressed in Sari and mostly Indians. My hint that the mass would be in Tamil was confirmed only when it began.

We looked at each other cluelessly. Gabby was puzzled. The boy was surprised to hear hymns and biblical readings in foreign tongue. Tina and I explained to him that regardless of language, color or race, our Lord understands and appreciates the voice of our hearts. Then he started saying his very own daily prayer, also uttered one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.

We didn’t finish the mass and walked few meters away from the church to the same Chinese eatery we used to go to. 

After almost a weeklong abstinence from pork, I suggested this simple meal to be our breakfast; we ordered two (Tina had hers mixed with Peking Duck, mine was purely roasted pork cutlets both affordably delicious at RM 4 each = PhP 56 served with rice) with iced and hot coffee, while Gabby had seafood noodle soup and Milo-iced (pronounced here as Mee-lo ais).

It may not be my personal Easter favorite, lechon or at least, lechon kawali, but we savored our simple breakfast because we certainly enjoyed it TOGETHER.

 God bless, everyone!



I am not complaining but as a Catholic, I consider working during Holy Week particularly last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as one of my atypical experiences to date.  The fact that I have been exposed to  several activities like watching and at time, participating in religious procession in Marikina City, and to my wife’s family tradition of chanting the Lord’s Passion or pabasa during these Holy days for several years, and doing Visita Iglesia (visiting churches to pray and do Station of the Cross) with her and my immediate family before, I needed to remind myself that we’re now based in foreign shores amidst religious and cultural diversities therefore things like going to work on previously celebrated holidays in our own country are just mundane and ordinary. Resistance as they say, is futile. Acceptance is difficult at first but offers great relief.

The Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, George Town, Penang on Good Friday 2011 where Holy Masses are celebrated in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Tagalog (every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month)

This year’s Holy Week has been personally different in the sense that the turn of events kept me grounded. I sincerely said my apologies to my Creator, and to those people I’ve wronged and received some sorries in return too. Admitting your fault and taking the blame may be a sign of weakness for some, but I believe otherwise. I feel, it takes tons of strength and courage to say you’re sorry about something and far from being arrogant. Humility in this day and age is still alive or at least, we take efforts in keeping it viable in our bloodstream.

Chance officially led me last Friday to leave work earlier to spend some time with my family and reflect. Before dusk, we attended the Station of the Cross delivered in English and Mandarin at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in George Town, Penang. This is one of the churches here where I find solace and peace of mind amidst uncertainties of living an expat life.

On a lighter note, just when every Catholic soul on Earth was fasting, my family and I only observed total aversion to pork for almost a week as our annual sacrifice; our appetite has been as usual :D 

Sinfully, we indulged a little.  Below are the proofs of my confession.

Although Beryl’s chocolate has been a favorite of most tourists who visit Malaysia, the diversity of choices from other brands is almost limitless.

We found this store called Cocoa Boutique located at Jalan Bagan Jermal, Pulau Pinang; it’s a stone throw away from Gurney Mall.

Vezzo Chocolate has wide unique variety : chili chocolate, curry chocolate, fruity chocolates (durian, banana, rasberry, apple, orange), tongkat ali chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, nutty, tiramisu, milk and dark and the list goes on…

I gave my wife and kid the liberty to choose their preference. We got (from top left to right) orange chocolate, tiramisu, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cappuccino, almond+white & dark chocolates (Penang and Malaysian mini-bars) and rasberry chocolate.

Exquisite. Exotic. Exceptional. These are the 3Es on the label of these sweet-tooth temptation.  I have to state, these handmade chocolates are luscious enough to clear out your worries and make you feel stress-free even for a bit. Its texture and flavors are enticingly delicious.

The important thing about Lent is not giving up chocolates but it’s to give up sin.

How was your week?

Happy Easter, everyone! God bless!



“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” -John 8:7

This blog will have a weeklong holiday and will be back on Easter Sunday. The author, like any sinners would need to repent for his wrong doings, would pray for people he has wronged and would reflect and learn lessons from his and others’ mistakes. He fervently lifts up everything to the Lord Almighty. May the Peace of the Lord be with us all.  Amen!



He knows I would not underestimate him but I realized that strolling and hopping on and off buses and cabs in foreign shores with him actually came in too early than I’ve imagined.  

Reunion in Penang : Rob with Tina and Gabby at Sleeping Buddha Thai Buddhist Temple

If you must know, Rob of Sensory Replays and I (with our closest friends) have known each other since 1993, when we began our college years in Far Eastern University. He’s the one who suggested for my blog in one of the outdated networking sites be transferred to wordpress. He eventually became my wife’s friend too and serves as one of our son’s dutiful godparents. 

My family and I became excited when he told us he’s going to Penang for a couple of days as part of his Malaysian getaway for an entire week (Kota Kinabalu-Penang-Kuala Lumpur). I filed for a replacement leave at work and took an early time off just to pick him up from Penang Airport. However, efforts were not enough to make his limited stay in Penang worthwhile because of inevitable hassles (I won’t elaborate and will let his blog relay the story). But it’s the thought that counts, right? :D

Like anyone from abroad (he came from his paramedic work in Saudi via Pinas), he brought some pasalubong for us. He gave me his black and white ghuttra (Arabian scarf), a rosary he bought from Monasterio de Tarlac…

And lots of these sachets of seasoning and mixes which are so hard to find in Penang, if not expensive in few Filipino stores here…

Thanks, Rob for the visit and bring more pasalubong when you decide to drop by Penang again! :D Next time, I want some Purefoods corned beef, chicharon, Chocnut, Boy Bawang nuts, Skyflakes, Century Tuna Bangus fillet (Spanish style), flat tops, Sunflower crackers (original flavor), bagnet, longganisang Vigan and Lucban, Clover chips, Chippy and Chiz curls. Seriously, you know we’ll welcome you anytime, anywhere.



Blame it on the unconventional kick of the appetite to try something beyond the favorite fast food joint and usual home cooking. I found myself with my wife, Tina and our 6-year-old son, Gabby seated in front of a food stall in the hawkers’ center of Gurney Drive, ordering a spiky horny shells called Siput Duri

In the country where I came from, the Philippines, edible snails are commonly cooked on coconut milk and eaten as an appetizer or usually served as a perfect partner to a bottle of cold beer. In French, they called it escargot, in our very own Tagalog, suso’ or kuhol.

Trust me, when I was studying Biology as my pre-Med course almost 2 decades ago, I knew its Scientific Name. All it gave me then, was a specimen to memorize. I never thought that it would take me 8 months of being an expat, living 1,541 miles away from Manila to first try to eat a snail-like seashell like this.

Toothpicks were given to pierce and dip this steamed snails to either soy sauce and/or chili sauce. Did my family enjoyed it?

I only asked Gabby to pick up a stick and pose with it but he didn’t care to eat even one. Tina tasted it but didn’t like it and found its price of RM 10 (PhP 140) expensive. I cannot agree more. It tasted bland compared to the usual mussels (New Zealand mussels) or clams. I didn’t finish the plate. 

Tina bought some steamed dim sums (on the table on the photo above) that we also didn’t like for too much extenders on its fillings.

Apparently, our taste buds were looking for something else so we transferred table and ordered street foods from other stalls.

From a Chinese food stall, these cured pork delights winked at me.


I ordered some for us to sample. I like it! For only RM 6 (PhP 84), my choices included some bacon strips, Chinese sausages and other meaty tastefuls. Sarap! :D

From this stall we bought…

a fresh Bj (buco juice) and its pulp to scoop (RM 4 = PhP 56) and a cup of sugar cane juice (RM 1 =PhP 14); refreshing enough to wash down everything.

Oops, there more. Since we’re having an early rice-less-light dinner before attending to a 6:45PM-Anticipated Mass, I decided to get another plateful of yummies -Assorted fried seafoods…

some shrimp tempura and shrimp balls, fried squid cutlets, fish balls and more. Burp!

This affirms that my family and I are really not that risky when it comes to food. It may take perhaps, a great amount of money (haha! :D) for me to be convinced to try an exotic food (insects, reptiles, amphibians, even the chick in balut or duck egg; I only eat its yolk and amniotic fluid). When you’re abroad, it’s always best to stick on the safe side and chow down the things you’re familiar with.


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TOKYO 2010



"Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship." (Buddha)



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