Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mabuhay Pilipinas

While having a celebratory lunch today for a niece who capped last school year with flying colors,  another, but way  grander, celebration is held at the exact same time at the Quirino Grand Stand in Manila.

Every Filipino, including my firmly decided Father-in-law who opted not to let this occasion pass him by, have long anticipated for this day to come.  A day that marks clean beginnings, filled with hope and promise.  "P. Noy" and "VP. Nay" were not my choice of candidates.  But I'm now way over that.

(J.  Bond asks: You are???  Me:  I hope.)

This is no longer a popularity contest ... who's strong, who's weak, who has the best vision and platform, who tops surveys, so forth and so on.

Rather, this is now all about getting the Filipino people's act together.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Rowena's Tarts

The first time I stepped foot at Rowena's .....

me and Bugsy -- Rowena's shih tzu.

.... was the exact same moment I promised that  I will gift myself a shih tzu someday.  That was around seven years ago, still single, with short hair, beads  nonexistent ..... and  when the murmur about Rowena's special tarts have only just begun to spread.

Fast forward to present times.  Though  the promise of a gift to myself still remains to be a plan, I am now happily married, with shoulder-length hair regularly styled in a ponytail, beads treated as if these were gold ..... and Rowena's have strongly built its  presence as a 10-year old tourist destination in Tagaytay for its popular and much talked-about tarts, pies, jams, Philippine-made delicacies, coffee and many more.

View of Ilog Maria's honey bee farm from the store.

Yesterday, my ex-work colleagues and I materialized a two weeks ago plan to visit Ilog Maria for the purpose of replenishing our all-natural healing honey soaps and energy booster bee propolis.  So, off we went to Cavite amidst a gloomy sky on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  With a 45-minute travel from our meeting place, we finished our shopping escapade in a span of 15 minutes.  That was how well-planned we were even with a really long shopping list :)

Just like in our frequent meet-ups, a day or a night won't pass by without having satisfied our addiction for  caffeine.   Faced with a request for a "unique" coffee-shop in Tagaytay (approximately 15 minutes away from Ilog Maria), I gamely suggested to the group a coffee-art nook that J. Bond and I discovered a year before we wed in 2006.  With Java Jazz set in our minds and with a nostalgic-romantic mood which I eagerly wanted to express to my friends for the first time, we landed in Rowena's instead. 

Family and friends know for a fact that Tagaytay is my 2nd home.  But for the first time ever, I was faced with bad traffic  in my "wish-to-be" permanent (retirement) residence address.  Thus, pretty much explains the change of venue and the postponement of the rendezvous.

Located at #152 Bgy Francisco, Tagaytay City.
Photo courtesy of Rowena's.

Seven years ago, the time I first met Ms. Rowena and her shih tzu Bugsy, Rowena's was still then  a quaint, approximately 30 square meter store, that introduced mini-sized tarts offered in various flavors such as Buko, Mango, Apple, Ube and Pineapple.  Good feedback were thrown my way by those who have tasted these special tarts that were first sold or sampled for free at Training Centers in Tagaytay.  At that time, I was given the assignment to invite Rowena's to explore a possible space for a soon-to-rise mall in Taguig.

She said NO.  That then started my "affair" with Ms. Rowena.  A NO to my 1st attempt and a crashing NO to my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th attempts.  A decisive plan to stay put, sell and expand in Tagaytay (not Manila nor even nearby towns) was the only thing she had in mind.  Flowery sales-talk, the promise of an urbanized development and leisure lifestyle were all of no use.  She was firm.

Rowena's famous apple tart. 
Top it with Vanilla ice-cream, then hola! -- Apple pie ala-mode.
Photo courtesy of Rowena's.

Despite the thumbs down, Rowena's became a part of my route each time I traverse the relaxing and lush paths of Tagaytay.  I buy buko and apple tarts, fish crackers and nuts.  I also make sure to check on Bugsy and have a chat with Ms. Rowena and her staff.  A routine that Ms. Rowena have grown so accustomed to, that days after the wedding she gave J. Bond and I boxes of brownies as her wedding gift.

At Rowena's last year with Dad 2.

The familiarity (of me, J. Bond, including my family and friends) due to frequent visits, I assume, led her to finally saying YES one glorious day  last year.  On my 1st attempt to invite Rowena's to be part of a one day weekend market in a nearby land development, she instantly gave me her sweet yes.  Absolutely a triumphant moment after seven long years.

Rowena's booth at the the Nuvali Weekend Market in May 2009.

Transactions, meet-ups and discussions have always been business-related.  I have never seen the personal side of Ms. Rowena in my years of "attempts".  Until yesterday afternoon came along.   

We were greeted by a more than usual huge shopping crowd and a car/tourist bus/jeepney packed parking lot upon arriving Rowena's around 3:30pm in the afternoon.  The  selling area (less the kitchen) now occupies an approximate of 60-70 square meters, with an outdoor dining area, and a yet being constructed private function facility for future use.  Long lines of customers waited to be served with their take-home orders, with Ms. Rowena right smack at the middle of this busy scene.  The store have ran out of tarts at this time due to the large demand, and thus, customers have settled for buko pies and cassava cakes instead.  On the other side of the fence was their dining area.  A relaxing outdoor ambiance that surely added delight and ultimate satisfaction to our caffeine craving.

Dine-in menu of Rowena's

Amidst a combination of patient and demanding for quick service customers, I realized that Ms. Rowena was right all along in saying NO.  For it is in Tagaytay where Rowena's begun.  For it is in Tagaytay where that "tart" mark was built.  For it is in the fun and thrilling travel to Tagaytay where one could find Rowena's and bring back home special made delicacies. 

For it is in Tagaytay where the prayer of Ms. Rowena was answered.

Personalized service by Ms. Rowena.  

After seven years, I saw a glimpse of Ms. Rowena's personal side when she joined in our relaxing coffee fix with a cassava cake that she gave to the group for free. Hardworking but knows how to reward herself (ooh! is all I can say).  Mother of one.  Wife to a business man.  Family-oriented.  Dog lover. Giving. God-fearing. 

With almost an hour of this getting-to-know-you-better chat, I asked  towards the end how Rowena's came to mind.  She said ... I prayed.  I prayed for a business that will help support my mother in her old age. And I was blessed by God with thisRowena's is my means of giving back ....

Thank you for sharing Bugsy and your stories with me (and the group), Ms. Rowena.  May you be blessed with many more tarts.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Story of the Original Gerard Mercator's 1595 Map

It was on my usual Thursday lunch date with Aunt C when I finally said yes to her request to unload years of "junk" long stored in her home.  You bet, she was ecstatic! For this "junk" of yesteryears included High School stuff, College stuff, 1st job memories, 2nd job memories, Cook Books, Pocket Books, Blue and Yellow Photo Albums, Stationery and Sticker Collections, Volumes of Archie Comics, Greeting Cards, a big box of Baseball Cards, report cards, library cards, a deck of playing cards ..... and so forth and so on.

The "junk" was way too much that each piece in the end found its way back to its original location ..... Aunt C's home =)

Except for this .....

Tucked in my bins of "junk" was an authentic reproduction of  Gerard Mercator's 1595 map of Southeast Asia, better known as Insulae Indiae Orientalis Praecipuae, In quibus Moluccae celeberrime sunt (The Principal Island of Oriental India of which the Moluccas are the most famous).  A gift given to Dad in the early 80s by a good friend who I knew nothing of except his name.  Though I  knew of the map's existence,  I never took time to check in detail the contents of the 2 feet long canister clad by a colorful map.  Until that fateful Thursday came along. 

While seriously figuring out the fate of the canister, Aunt C happily shared amidst  piles of "paper junk" scattered on the floor ..... that map shows how the Philippines looked in the 1500s.

A gift to Dad by his good friend, Tony Marquez

Choked with intrigue and curiosity, I brought the map home and left behind all other "junk".  For the first time since the day this map fell on our hands, I uncovered the canister and aired out all the long-ago hidden contents. 

Story of the original Gerard Mercator's 1595 Map by Antonio Roa Marquez.
question to Mom and Aunt C:  Are Tony Marquez and Antonio Roa Marquez one and the same?
Click to enlarge.

I was struck with WONDER.  Cartographer, Gerard Mercator, brought to my thoughts  an age of voyages and wonderful discoveries. I became part of their exploration, able to see the  vastness of the world and feel the triumph of their conquer.  The map looked amazingly beautiful. Rich in color. "Islas"  glorious and warm. Intricately adorned with mythical and jewel-like images.  And emitted a great sense of historical richness and affinity.
The story behind the discovery of this map makes it more interesting.  In 1965, Antonio Roa Marquez found the original of this unique work of art from a sidewalk vendor along the River Seine near the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.  Having been away  for 2 long years from his mother land, his search for a Philippine map led him to discover Gerard Mercator's map. The full story may be read from the 2nd photo above.  

Except for these places located in the Philippines .... MINDA NAO (Mindanao), MINDARA (Mindoro?), MANILBA (Manila?), LUZOM (Luzon?), all others are unfamiliar due to its Latin text.  There is yet a need for me to put this map rendition side-by-side with today's latest map for comparison.  Though I am NOT an expert on this matter, the shape and cluster of  islands show a striking semblance that it is indeed the Philippines.

In Mr. Marquez's note, he says  ....
It must be replete with errors, understandably so - but, it is still recognizably South East Asia.....My eyes would travel from my country, the Philippines, to the then famous "Moluccas" in Indonesia, to that island south of Malaysia which is now Singapore, to Malaysia, Thailand, and Indochina, which seemed to be confined to Cambodia and Vietnam. 

Multiple errors may have been pointed out in Gerard Mercator's map. But, I am reminded by that fact that computers and other modern forms of technology did not exist in the 1500s.  Instead, the sense of sight and the power of the hand were the  two important tools heavily relied on back then.  Absolutely amazing, most especially on how cartographers and explorers were able to translate their manually-made works into an image with great historical impact.  The colorful map, I believe, not only serves as a picturesque piece of precious artwork.  It has made me see the unscathed beauty of our land's past

Someday, I will have to hand this map over to my one and only brother.  I believe that this treasure should rightfully  belong to him.  A historical image for his sake and most especially for his children's future reference. 

For now, this belongs to me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tears for Dreams

SUNDAY, we gave our thanks, wished her luck and said goodbye.
TODAY, her Mother dropped by to say that she has left and cried non-stop
I feel her tears.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Scary Thoughts

Saturday was all about the 2nd generiKID auditions.  Another happy occasion except for the nightmare ending .... 

We ended the auditions this way. A true-to-life scene, with the Pharmacy's store window used as a television screen. Everyone watched the unexpected raging rain with a lot of loud oohs, aahs, and yikes (by me) due to the lashing wind that blew away our event paraphernalia (tent, chairs, backdrop, banners) far far (really far) away.  For an hour, the Pharmacy served as a refugee camp to stranded customers, kid contestants, families, and sponsors.  Some have even earmarked a "floor" spot in case of an overnight camp out at the Pharmacy.  Here's a picture scene of this scary show I am talking about (lol)  ...

Yikes! Zero visibility.  Horizontal Rain.  Chairs gone. Backdrop blown away. But life moved on.  With everyone glued to the scary show, the staff began the preparations for next day's activity.

What I thought was a half-day, Sunday (Father's Day) activity, turned out to be a 5:30am to 5pm tedious process, technical-intense, and stomach-crunching inventory. The staff was stressed, I was stressed.  J. Bond, on the other hand, stressed us out (hahaha!).  Imagine this scene: A dark, damp, dusty basement.  Evil eyes in one corner following your every move. Your body shaking, drenched with sweat, clothes torn apart. Then, the psychotic killer  attacks with his well-polished flesh-piercing  knife.  That's just it!  J. Bond was good, but tremendously nerve-wracking. With an ounce of energy left, I joined the analysis in the end with eyes looking down, absolutely refusing to make eye contact with the "killer" who later on had his blood pressure checked.

Me next, please!  I am "over" pressured with activities like this. 

With that and after 2 long days at the Pharmacy, I almost ditched my plan to visit Dad yesterday.  But guilt got into me and thus, accomplished my promise with flying colors at 7pm.

The first time I ever went to a cemetery with the moon up. Therefore, it took me around fifteen minutes to find Dad. Night makes a place really look different ... especially a place where the "dead" lives.  So, I relied heavily on every tree  (dad's burial place is underneath a big tree), a big-fat-scented candle and a lot of one-way talking to my lost Dad.

Except for bone remnants and freshly buried bodies, the cemetery glowed last night. Lit candles, like fireflies, flickered in darkness.  Nearby was a family praying together, all in black.  When I finally found Dad, I quickly took three photos of this night visit and brushed aside the urge of snapping a panoramic photo of the flickering candles.  I controlled myself for this scary reason -- I was in a cemetery, at 7 pm, in total darkness.  The captured photos of wandering souls I regularly watch at Discovery channel entered my mind.

That then ended my weekend!

With another activity-filled weekend ahead of me, I detoxified my system from the scary thoughts and moments this morning.  What I did (aside from establishing eye contact with the "killer")??? 


Friday, June 18, 2010

Thinking of YOU

I'm thinking of you right now!!!

Your day is a day and half a night away.  I will drop by.  I know it's  been "MONTHssssss".  I promise! Rather than you dropping by.  I hate goosebumps.  Lol!  Seriously, I know you have been good to me =)

Sorry, no beads for you like Mom.  Bead arrangements for men have been a challenge. I tried once, but that was the first and the end of it. I hope flowers will make do.  No promises though, but yes I will TRY HARD  to control the foreseen debate with  flower vendors once again. I expect! a hike on prices of flowers on your special day. Grr!

I miss ya.   I sometimes wish  that you are just a text or an email away.  Sad that you  have not even reached this day and age of texts and emails.  "INSTANT" and "SPEEDY" COMMUNICATION.  Unless a bill, personal letters sent via mail no longer exist.  Reason why I dislike checking out the contents of my mailbox.  A bunch of bills, bills, bills and a LIZARD.  Ugh!  But I know you are happy UP there.  Plus,  I'm grateful for your FAST reply to my endless nags.  Beats all forms of technology-sent messages.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  Sending you this short note in advance via my blog --- Blog???  Well, it's sort of a journal that exists in "cyberspace". Unlike privately locked diaries, entries are for the whole wide world's pleasure and consumption.  So, be careful on what to write.  Yet, a really cool tool to use for sharing and most especially discovering.  I'm pretty sure you already know what this is about.

 I HEART YOU, DAD .... in other words, I love you! 

Do you get the drift? Do not answer please.  I will just assume that it is a yes.  See you on Sunday and will definitely NAG you in a bit ....

                                                                                       ♥ TRIX

Thursday, June 17, 2010

He dreamed. I feared.

Twenty years from now ....

You will be more disappointed by the things you did  not do
than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.


Explore. Dream. Discover.
(author unknown)

I never saw this coming.  Though I repetitively brainwashed myself that it will be alright, a long-playing series of discussions transpired between J. Bond and I. Emotions extremely fluctuated.  He explored, I feared. He dreamed, I feared. 

That was over a year ago.  The time when I leapt high with eyes closed and breathed fear.

But in dreams. In taking risks.  And in doing so ... even with eyes closed, I have finally conquered fear. 

We are now ONE and absolutely looking forward to more fruitful years  (with hopefully a new branch soon?). I proudly  salute the team,  our principals, community partners, sponsors and  patrons.  And of course,  a HIGH-FIVE to my sparring partner, J.Bond.

See you at the finale of our month-long anniversary celebration on July 10, 2010.  Cheers!

                                                                                   at your service,
                                                                                            Patricia of Generika :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Carrie vs Agua

When everyone has fanatically been talking about Carrie and her friends for the past days,

I remain glued  in my room this way.

All because of a fantasy TV series named Aqua Bendita which airs over at the Kapamilya network from Mondays-Fridays, 7:45pm-8:45pm.  Really!  The beading happens before and after.  But never during :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

the Dream of a better LIFE

After two years of mourning, Mom packed her bags and moved to New York.  A couple of months later, I found myself, with 3 younger siblings, in a plane en route to a New Life.  The age range, 7-14 years old. 

That day marked the beginning of a new chapter.

I flew back to Manila to finish  high school.  Though summer breaks were spent in New York, the rest of the year was all about teenage life in Manila.  I have grown so accustomed to this jet setter lifestyle that I eventually gave up the opportunity to take a collegiate degree in New York, and more so the opportunity of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Looking back, I still stand firm with the decision I made years ago. Living my story in a foreign land was never part of the plot.  All I know, up to this day, is I AM HOME.

Yet, a different story is heard from the many Filipinos who dream of a better life. It remains a fact that the Pharmacy has provided employment opportunities to frustrated job-seekers in the Philippines.  A fulfillment my husband and I share with a beaming sense of pride and honor.  In this blog, I only speak of what we have personally encountered in the Pharmacy's one year of existence.  Though a tiny part of a  massive spectrum, this, I believe, is a reflection of a disheartening dark reality that has long loomed in the land I call home.

Early this year, one of our staff, with nursing background, volunteered to do work for a hospital located at the south. A 12-hour duty  was required of her, with extended hours on peak days.  This volunteer work eventually caused conflict in our store schedule, and thus culminated with a resignation. More than words, actions spoke decisiveness to walk this new path.  A courageous act  towards what I believe is exploitation. The volunteer act lives to its name.  VOLUNTEER, work for 12 hours, at least 4 days a week, with no pay, not even a minimal allowance to pay for meals, transportation and uniform.  All these accepted with a firm mind and a whole heart to gain experience.  For it is in this experience that the chance (with zero assurance) to work and live the dream in a foreign land lies.

Nursing in the Philippines is indeed an in-demand course primarily blinded by the hypothesis of a lucrative career overseas. Here's the grim reality -- nursing graduates pay a high price to gain experience. But, not all have the means to pay. With dreams down the grave, they take on different fields. Yet, even those with a bag-load of experience are most often faced with frustration.  Many years ago, nursing opportunities overseas was lucrative.  Today, it is a gamble.

In an interview, I make sure to ask these two questions towards the end.  A barometer I use to gauge the applicant's passion for his chosen career.
  1. Why did you take up nursing?  The answer, It is my parents wish that I take nursing.  Nursing equates to employment opportunities overseas and it will help support my parents and my siblings.
  2. If not nursing, what course would you have taken instead?  The top 3 answers, Architecture, Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Business Management.
Passion does not breath life in this case.  But the dream for a better life does.

On June 21, our Store Supervisor flies to Baker's Field, California. A promising career awaits her at a Nursing Home.  She leaves behind her parents, a younger brother and a tearful boyfriend.  I  asked a few days ago the question she faced during her first interview.  WHY?  All she said, For greener pastures.

I am frustrated ....

...  how the Pharmacy has evolved into  a stopover for nurses who await for overseas opportunities
... of the lack of employment opportunities for nurses in this country
... of how reputable hospitals and establishments lure nurses to work for free
... of how nursing students live the dream of their parents, sacrificing their own dreams

Yet, I understand the dream of a better life.

Today, the Filipinos celebrate Independence Day, looking  forward to  a better future with the coming of a new president. Many have aired their sentiments and suggestions. A sense of  "Dear God" letter,  hoping that someday  prayers will be answered.

I look back to the decision I made years ago at this very moment.  I still stand firm. 

But I pray and dream of a richer land that every Filipino will someday be proud of and call HOME.

*Thanks Pat for this link.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flash OFF

I fall in love with photo moments like  this.  A dramatic mood of fairy tale romance and enchantment stir my imagination aglow.  Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother (not prince charming!) danced in my thoughts  when I snapped  this photo. 

However, I was faced with disappointment a second after my one and only snap. The photo came out dark, grainy and blurred.  The flash  refused to work on such heartwarming moment. Sell the camera and get a better one was what I firmly thought.

Now that I have uploaded the photo, I think otherwise.  Fairy Godmother had deliberately turned the flash off from her wand to make me remember ........

...That once I was 18... and had a Grandfather who I looked up to as Prince Charming.

Happy 18, J!  Glad to hear that you love the mood of this photo with your Grandpa S.

                                                                                           ----Ate Trix

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

found in the Philippines

I often go back to this one same place found in Greenhills or Festival Mall for three reasons:

1st,  to shop for affordable pearls.
2nd, to satisfy the never-ending pearl craving of my New York-based family.
3rd, to carry out special requests of visiting relatives and friends residing abroad.

My 2 months ago visit was a mix of 2 and 3.  Sister # 4's fiance came over to Manila for a quick vacation and brought back to New York a few long strands for my sister (white and pink) and my mother (brown).  Every opportunity that comes my family's way surely equates to a visit to the pearl stalls found only in the Philippines.

Yesterday's visit, on the other hand,  was to fulfill a request by a visiting relative.  An aunt from J. Bond's maternal side of the family. 

Scanning the rows of stalls engulfed by layers of stringed pearls, one could immediately assume that the products carried by each stall are one and the same.  Probably true for the untrained eye like mine. A meticulous scrutiny and patience are plus points to survive the scavenge and discover unique designs.  Strings of pearls, semi-precious stones and other accessories are literally displayed within all possible areas in a 4-6 square meter stall. In my frequent visits, I usually cap the hunt with a  confused mood.  Most especially on  peak shopping days when everyone else seems to crave and hunt for pearls at the same time. Thus, I have addressed this confusion by applying these pearl-shopping styles:

1.  Shop early.  The 1st customer gets the best discount.
2.  Establish a friendly relationship with 1-2 stall owners.  It has worked wonders.
     -  1st crack on new designs and good-looking pearls.
     -  Again, appealing discounts.
     -  And, free add-ons like pouches, gift boxes and earrings.

The so-called experts  have shared  a way of testing the authenticity of a pearl --- specifically those sold in  stalls.  Rub two exact same pearls against each other.  If rough and texture is uneven, the pearl is authentic.  If smooth, it is man-made.  Truly a unique and mind-boggling way to test.  Majority of buyers and loyal patrons know this technique by heart. But my own personal belief says, as long as it's inexpensive (way too low compared to price of pearls sold at jewelry shops), then there may be(?) a huge probability of a hocus pocus way of manufacturing  these pearls.

In these stalls, I have been educated of the different type of pearls aside from South Sea Pearls --- Fresh Water pearl, Rice pearl, Mother of pearl, Black pearl, and so forth and so on. All natural.  The majestic pearl, in particular, lives to its name. Shiny. Round. Perfect. In other words, made by man.  There's too much to see and choose from that my way of pearl shopping have eventually evolved into design-based rather than a scrutiny of authenticity. 

I happily tagged along yesterday without having any plans of making a purchase. True enough, I went home with nothing!  A first in history.  I give myself a pat on the back.  Yet, I must confess that self-control can truly be tiring.  Energy down the drain!   But with this came a realization  after having observed the scrutiny of my aunt (and mother-in-law). The Philippines is blessed  for having such an abundance of pearls (and other semi-precious stones). Pearl stalls found in Greenhills, Festival Mall and Market Market  have become  popular destinations for locals and tourists alike.

In our  New York trip last year, my Mother toured J. Bond and I around her United Nations office. A first for J. Bond and an "nth" time around for me.  But definitely a tour with better appreciation perhaps due to "maturity". I faced boredom in my younger years.  The last stop was a souvenir gift shop.  In that shop, I slowly scrutinized each and every module that highlighted the crafts found from different countries. 

Then, there came the Philippines ...."an archipelago popularly known as the Pearl of Oriental Beauty and Enchantment".  The different pearls found in stalls, and that of which I have  doubted the authenticity, were ALL on display ... in a glass case ... at the United Nations ... and tagged with a high price.

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