Sunday, January 30, 2011

Villanueva Christmas Reunion 2010 - Part 2 .... Fun Fun Fun

Reunion serves as a storehouse of colorful family memories ……. a depository of significant family updates, warm pleasantries, light moments, hopeful wishes and fruitful meetings. Happy thoughts of many family members are made and kept inside it. It is therefore essential that the affair is made meaningful, memorable and full of fun……..a truly wonderful experience for all the members, young and old. Quite luckily, the annual Villanueva Christmas Reunion has always been like that and has maintained that standard over the years.

This year’s family get-together, as sponsored by the Villanueva-Dimaandal clan was no exemption. In fact, it successfully lived to the implied objective that the affair should equal or be better each passing year. Not really as a contest, but as a joint family commitment to live to the ideals of continuous development and further improvement in our lives. So that the family will continue to grow, enrich its legacy and effectively serve as an inspiration to the young members to aspire harder, become better persons and eventually acquire the ability to contribute to the family heritage.

All throughout the day, every moment was filled with fun and excitement; from simple chatting, to sumptuous dining, to thrilling games, to raffling of prices and to truly surprising presentations (both well-prepared and impromptu). With funny family members around …… tickling each other’s bones, mocking and frolicking, there was really no dull moments. Whilst the hilarious tandem of Ate Kim and Ate Ethel sure kept the life of the party going, the riotous participation of Tiya Auring was deeply missed. The triumvirate is no doubt an icon of fun and entertainment in every family affair or celebration.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Villanueva Christmas Reunion 2010 - Part 1

No matter how successful we may be, we will always long for that magical feeling that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. Something we could depend on, lean on and rightfully call our own. Something that could give us comforts, reprieve and assurance when everything else seems not working the way it’s planned; the way we want it to be. I’m referring to a FAMILY. You can call it clan, or kinsfolk, or even tribe. Whatever you call it, however you call it, one thing is sure, we all have one ……….. and we all need one.

We can sometimes ignore or overlook its importance, but sooner or later we will experience that yearning to connect back and desire for that relaxing feeling of togetherness. For no matter how far we have travelled or how high we have flown, in the end the most important question is where we came from. For like branches of a tree, our lives may grow and follow different directions, sprout in different places and elevations along the trunk and traverse different paths, yet our roots will remain as one. Collectively, those roots, no matter how low, no matter how deeply laden with dirt, is the life giving force of all the branches…..of the whole FAMILY.

Fundamentally, this is the reason why families including our own, the Villanueva’s of Padre Garcia, Batangas (Philippines) regularly have a family reunion during the holiday season. Formally organized by the highly respected family member, Chito V. Recto, to be alternately hosted by each family, it is one of the most anticipated Christmas activities of our extended family which many members, in pursuit of its individual aspiration, have relocated in various places all over the country and even abroad. But despite of the distance, busy lifestyles and indifferences, we all make sure that we meet and get-together in an annual Christmas Reunion.

Basically, to jointly celebrate the birth of Christ, remember our ancestors, share blessings, have fun and games, rekindle the relation, re-affirm the bond and hopefully make the ties stronger. With the rather adhesive theme “Dikit-dikit... parang malagkit” , which roughly translates to “Sticking with one another... like glutinous rice.” (whew….that was tough Father Donald :-)) the Villanueva-Dimaandal family of Lipa City, Batangas hosted our annual Villanueva Christmas Reunion last 30th December 2010.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bopis or Bopiz Version 2 (Lights and Heart Sauteed in Onions, Tomatoes and Chilies)

We already have a post about the earthy Filipino dish called “bopis or bopiz” which could be regarded as quite unusual because it is made from the lungs of a swine or sometimes bovine. Such internal organ of a livestock when used in cooking is called lights. For this preparation though, and as always done in the Philippines, I included the heart as well. Having said this, please consider yourself as have been warned about the bizarre or to some extent disturbing nature of the dish we are about to cook. You are advised to leave freely now if you think you are squeamish or faint-hearted and have a feeling that this post will somehow touch your sensitivities.

Please understand that like in many Asian countries and surprisingly Scotland and other European nations, lights or lungs are a common food item in the Philippines along with the heart, liver and even spleen of a livestock or game. There are unique dishes which the common people of our country have successfully developed for the main purpose of using such peculiar meat parts, which other find no or very limited usage in the kitchen, into acceptable daily meals. These I believe are normal occurrences in a country where the population is continuously exploding and shortage of food remains a perennial problem.

As explained before, “bopis” or “bopiz” in Spain is a spicy Filipino-Spanish dish made from finely diced pork or beef lights (lungs) and heart sautéed in garlic, onions, tomatoes, chilies and flavored with natural vinegar. While in the first version I used a parboiled and finely diced lungs, this version 2 will totally omit the parboiling process and directly sauté the finely minced or ground raw lungs and heart instead. As the meat is finer, we could expect the dish to be richer in taste and smoother in texture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Christmas Family Gift-Giving - The Tradition Lives On

As I have featured last year in my post “Gift-Giving on Christmas Day”, our family, for the last 13 years (at the very least), has been distributing modest Christmas gifts to the children of our community or “barangay” as well as to some kids of other nearby villages and subdivisions. This year, through God’s grace, we were again able to sustain the family gift-giving activity which we are doing as our way of sharing part of the bounties and blessings every family member received for the year. A rather small but sure way of bringing fun and memorable moments to the children who eagerly wait for Christmas and the customary gift-giving that goes with it during the most important day of the holiday season.

On the larger context, this is our small contribution in spreading the true spirit of giving and sharing particularly to the mind of young children in the hope that it will somehow inculcate and develop within them a pay-it-forward effect so that the noble gift-giving tradition will propagate and continue to live in the hearts of the next generation. This could just be a speck in a wide ocean but at least it provides a tiny lit of hope in helping parents in up-bringing more loving and passionate children in the volatile era of computer and hi-tech gadgets.

If my sisters Baby, Maya, Aimee and Cha-cha personally prepared 500 gifts last year, they have increased that number to 600 this year to ensure that the growing number of children who eagerly await and joyfully anticipate the gift-giving activity could be safely accommodated and that no child, under any circumstances, will go home empty handed and frustrated. Wrapping some 600 gifts was no easy job but the family was enthusiastic in doing the wrapping ourselves making every gift a true labor of love, caring and compassion.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steamed Talangka (Steamed Shore Crabs or River Crabs)

It’s been almost a month since my last post. Sorry! No, probably sorry to me. To compensate for the lost time and opportunities though, at least I have covered and documented some exciting recipes, events, adventures, delicacies, places, things, experiences, etc. in my relatively short Christmas holiday (ahh…it’s going to be always short no matter how) in the Philippines which I will soon feature here one by one. It has been a wonderful vacation and a grand time with families, relatives, friends, school mates and even old old friends. I also have lots of things to be thankful about. For one, my son is now free from his heavy fixator. Yehey!!!

The holiday season is such a momentous time for Filipino foodies. There are lots of authentic Filipino foods everywhere. Every dining table is full with different varieties of dishes. Diet program has been temporarily put on hold by most, including me. In fact, just after the holiday I gained several kilos from over indulging in delectable Filipino dishes. My pretty better half is to be blamed. Whew….now I have a sizeable excess “sex appeal” needs to burn ASAP. And I’m still on a holiday mode and could barely move. :-(

While Christmas in the Philippines is synonymous to food extravagance, I made sure that I also eat some of the most simple but unique Filipino delicacy during the season. One of them is the now hard-to-find “talangka” (Varuna litterata) or shore crab or river crab, a small decapods crustacean that live along river banks and mangrove forests of the Philippines. It is usually harvested to prepare a salted and fermented delicacy called “burong talangka” or the rich and tangy roe paste called “taba ng talangka” or even simply, just lightly salted, steamed and eaten with rice.


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