Friday, October 26, 2007

Going Nigerian

Problem 1

"Help! Where can I get Nigerian food? My son's country for UN Day is Nigeria." This was the urgent text message I sent out to friends last week. It was already Tuesday and the program was on Thursday, and I was leaving for a business trip that Thursday. Where o where can I get Nigerian food in Manila?

When I say I'm looking for Nigerian food, my friends know I'm actually looking for a restaurant that serves Nigerian food, or a store that sells Nigerian snacks or something. That's because I'm not really a good cook, and they know that. Meg knew that, so when her husband Dennis's Nigerian classmate said there isn't a place in Manila that serves Nigerian food, she didn't think of suggesting I cook a recipe from the Internet.

"Parang curry curry na lamb lamb daw siya," said my friend Jing. Great. I cannot cook lamb.

"Nyar! I'll ask around," said Yummy editor-in-chief Becky.

"How about you ask the Nigerian Embassy?" said my friend Germaine. Nice idea. I did. But office hours were only up to 4 pm and it was already past 4:30 pm.

"You want to call my tita? She worked as a missionary in Nigeria for five years. She can teach you something simple to cook," said my friend Ruth. I told her I'll keep that in mind and will resort to that if I come up with nothing.

My friend Kytin e-mailed her former classmate Fonma who's a Nigerian consul. Fonma confirmed what I dreaded: Nigerian food is not sold in Manila. He suggested preparing rice and stew with chicken and goat meat, fried beans cake called akara, and pepper soup cooked with goat meat, thyme, and curry. I will not attempt to do them because the kids in school may not like my cooking and it will reflect on Nigeria the country.

Sherry saved the day. She directed me to the website And there was a simple recipe called Chin Chin she said I can easily do. "Fried flour with sugar lang, Ate," she said. Hmmm. My niece, seeing my dilemma, volunteered to cook it for me. She can have it done by 10 am on Thursday so we can bring it to the program venue at 10:30 am before I dash to the airport.

And so ChinChin it was. It's just...doughnuts without the hole.

Problem 2

My other problem then was how to find the agbada costume that my son will wear. It's a long flowing tunic with long sleeves, often embroidered. Since I'm a no-fuss mom, I was wondering how I can pull this off. I can't do the costume -- I'm not one of those moms who labor over making costumes. (I have nothing against that. I'm just not gifted in crafts making or anything to do with hands.) I couldn't find Camp Suki's number (they're into costume rentals). My niece suggested I just take a blanket and wrap it around my son. We tried it but it didn't look good. He looked like a mummy struggling to be free.

So my son suggested he just be a Nigerian dictator. He went to the UN Day program wearing a coat and tie and declared to the audience, "I'm from the land of oil and dictatorship -- NIGERIA!"

Problem solved.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is a classic devotional that stands the test of time. The insights are still relevant today even if the book was published more than 75 years ago. I read somewhere that actor Piolo Pascual reads this. It's a gem.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:9

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Making kuwento

"O ano, kumusta ka na? Hindi ka na nagkukuwento," my dad told me the other day just as I was hurrying out to bring my son to school.

"Wala naman akong kuwento. Ayun, ganun pa rin. Nag-e-edit. Nagsusulat. Nagshu-shoot," I said, then proceeded to the garage.

That got me thinking. The conversation seemed weird, considering we all live in the same house. I must have been so busy with work the past few weeks that I just tune out at home.

When I pick up my son from school, I always ask him, "How's school?" When he just replies, "Fine," I probe more: what did you learn, did you have a quiz, did you eat your baon, what fun thing did you do today? I guess my parents must be that interested to know what's going on in my life too. Even now that I'm 30 (the new 40, hehe).

And you being my friends, you must be interested to know what's up with me too.

So here goes:

1. Love life: I met up again with one of my fave makeup artists Barbi this week, and as she was doing my makeup for my editor's photo shoot, she asked me about my love life. I said, "Ten years ago, I prayed to God that if the next one will just be a problem, wag na lang. And since then, wala."

A few Sundays ago, Pastor Peter said something like this, that God will not give us a snake knowing it won't be good for us.

2. My new entertainment find: DZMM on the AM band in the morning. I don't normally tune in to the radio but recent political events just made me hungrier for talk radio. The recent circus brought on by the ZTE broadband hearings was really fun.

Consider this sound bite: "Pinag-aawayan niyo lang ang mga kickback niyo! I resent being made party to this squabble!" I love Miriam Defensor-Santiago for all the quotable quotes she has given us all these years.

3. New place to de-stress: When I got back from the US, my former officemate Elvie invited me to try out the spa services at Footloose in front of ABS-CBN. It's owned by our former boss. I finally got to try the place today, and found the place very calming. I got a foot and back massage, Thai style for P530 for 60 minutes. The foot massage was marvelous! Heard that artistas are regular clients here.

4. New restaurants I've tried: I Have Two Eggs is a classy tapsilog place along Tomas Morato Extension, beside Alex III. I had the adobo rice topping with omelet (every dish on the menu has 2 eggs, your choice of luto) and it was superb. Also tried the choco bibingcrepe at its sister restaurant Half Moon. Yummy!

5. Work: I'm swamped. My friend Erli texted me this recently: "When honoring God is at the top of your to-do list, the rest of your day falls more easily into order. God is the author of organization." That's a nice reminder for all of us.

And that's my kuwento today. What's yours?

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Manila We Knew, a collection of essays edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio. Women writers share with us their recollections of old Manila before the war (peace time), during the war, and after--the 60s. I love reading this book.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4: 2