Friday, July 27, 2012

Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Trail: Follow Me To Singapore

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

After completing my visit to 27 sites featured in  Lakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail and finishing at No.65 last May 28, 2012, I was more eager to retrace our national hero's steps overseas. Good thing, I found myself in Singapore the next day, to take my flight to my dream destination New Zealand and I learned that Dr. Jose Rizal left some imprints in the Lion City. 

It was my fourth  visit to the Lion City (previous visits in 2001, 2009, & 2011) and thought I've been everywhere to claim " I've been there, done that". But honestly, I was taken a back when I read La Escala En Singapur post by my tour guide friend Ron Cruz of Flip N' Travel blog and realized that as a self-proclaimed true blue Kalakbay ni Jose Rizal, I have missed out a lot. 

Chances are, many of you can relate as you have been to Singapore and visited all the touristy places as well but didn't know that our national hero was, like me, visited this old English colony on four different times in 1882, 1887, 1891 and 1896. No worries. Follow Me To Singapore as I checked those places which Dr. Rizal visited. 

Asian Civilization Museum  
I commenced my steps at the Asian Civilization Museum to see the two-sided marker that bears a picture of a painting of Dr. Rizal by Fabian dela Rosa and on the other side a bust bronze relief dubbed as " the Great Malayan" by Philippine national artist Guillermo Tolentino, fabricated by Peter de Guzman. This marker was unveiled in 2005 by the Singapore National Heritage Board to commemorate Dr. Jose Rizal's visits in their country. I didn't see the bronze relief during my visit though as it was being cleaned/upgraded.

Then I retraced Dr. Rizal's first lay - over in Singapore on May 9, 1882 when he arrived on board Salvadora. The next day, our national hero went around town by carriage and made his observations in his diary captured in this blog post 2nd day in Singapore (10 May -- Wednesday).

The first that I saw were two beautiful houses of Chinese in European style, surrounded by walls and trees. I made the carriage stop in front of a Chinese building decorated with dragons and paintings. I entered. I was equipped by Goinda with some English words. With these I entered a kind of small garden among columns and pedestals. Numerous beautiful plants and a variety of flowers, planted with symmetry and order; cages at the two extremes; in one of them were pheasants, a kind of turkey, and other birds beside; in the other, spotted deer and peacocks. I came out and got into the carriage to continue my tour. 

My driver, whose name is Nija, he said, pointed out to me an English building, then a French church. There I stopped and went down. To reach it one crosses a beautiful garden, but I found it closed. From there to the Portuguese church; the same, it was closed, but the garden is less beautiful. 

Running, running we reached the gas factory: a building, all new to me. I entered but I saw nothing nor could I get into the interior. After this, a magnificent Chinese temple, which was about to be finished. I entered it: Large and tall pillars painted the color of coffee; three altars with painted idols; in the middle is a genie blowing stones over a dragon; paintings, sculptures, and good bas-reliefs. In the patio is a little tower of live rock which is charming. 

Afterward, through many streets and shops of fish, fruits, and a thousand enigmatic things. After having seen two beautiful markets, the like of which cannot be found in Manila, I saw the magnificent house of the American consul with the flag aloft. I visited also a large school for Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Englishmen. It is a magnificent building and there are many students. The palace of the Rajah of Siam is also notable and has a small iron elephant and whatnot on the pedestal placed in front of the building. 

My carriage crossed a beautiful hanging bridge and we reached a lively place. Beautiful European buildings, shops, show-windows, etc. It is the Escolta of the town. The banks and a Japanese curio bazaar are located there. In all the houses there are fountains with faucets. In a certain way this is more advanced than the Philippines. 

I told the driver to take me to the Messageries Maritimes, but as he could not understand me, I had to return to the inn and ask the majordomo how to say in English Messageries and he taught me a cabalistic phrase which I repeated to the driver who understood it as if it were his brother. He went then running and from there I returned to the inn, telling the driver to come back at three. 

An hour later, we took luncheon and then I took the carriage in the company of Goinda, the young Indian, who taught me how to shop. Following that, I went to the Botanical Garden, seeing on the way the Armenian cemetery. The entire road is beautiful, shaded by trees; beautiful bridges, and charming houses. 

I reached (10 minutes) the garden located on a hill, as the majority of the constructions in Singapore are. Its cleanliness and orderliness are admirable; numerous plants with their labels beside them, well tended by Malays. One climbs up through a clean path with canals on the sides until one reaches a poorly inhabited cage, for it had only one cockatoo, one parrot, and other little birds. I found beside it a Chinese woman with an English boy. I continued walking, admiring those trees which charmed me and I entered a kind of storehouse with numerous varieties of parasitic and air plants, most beautiful and rare. I met there a Malay who could not understand me. I went out looking for mammals, for I believed there were some and I found only a kind of cage-storehouse where I saw in different compartments two superb peacocks, an eagle, two marabous, turkeys and Guinea hens, blue birds similar to the hoopoe in plumage, wild pigeons, cockatoos, and other birds whose names I didn't know. I met another Malay, and as he could not understand me, I drew a cow and showed it to him and he replied: Tadar. Tired of looking for it, I approached an Englishman who was playing with his dog. I greeted him and asked him for the zoological garden. He replied that there was none. I went away then, looked for a coach, and went back. 

I met on my way several English girls, some of whom were quite pretty, many coaches, and strollers. I stopped to watch the ball game and then told my driver, remembering what Mr. Buil taught me, steamer, meaning I wished to be taken to a boat. He understood me and we left. 

It was my intention to transfer my luggage to the Djemnah but they told me in the Salvadora that it was impossible, because of certain regulations of the English. 

I returned to the inn fretting and gave the driver two duros for my whole trip that day. It must be noted that yesterday for one trip alone, I paid $1.20 (2.50). 

After a while they called us to supper and I had the luck to sit beside a drunk Englishman. He was talking in French so that we conversed. He was drunk like a toper and he repeated to me the same phrases. At last, we understood each other. He hardly ceased talking until the end of the supper when I had the chance to sneak away and to leave him alone. After a short walk, I went up to my room to write. 

On May 11, 1882 at 2pm, Rizal boarded the boat Djemnah  to continue his trip to Spain.

Dr. Rizal's subsequent Visits to Singapore  were in 1887, 1891 and 1896.

"He found the city less attractive in 1887 and noted in 1891 how much it had changed.  On this visit he discussed Philippine affairs with a local Filipino lawyer whom he subsequently sent copies of his books to sell in Singapore.

In 1896 Filipino friends in Singapore urged Rizal to save himself by remaining there and abandoning his trip to Cuba, but he trusted Spanish guarantees of safe passage and resolved to proceed. On his fateful, final voyage home almost two months later he was kept shackled in his cabin at each stop to prevent escape attempts. While his ship was docked in Singapore, supporters, including former newspaper publisher Charles Burton Buckley, unsuccessfully attempted to secure his release at the Supreme Court.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Before I Hit The Twig: Have a Favorite Color!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
At the Manila Philippines Temple
In July Blog Carnival's The Birth of 29 Travel Blogs, host Edmar Quibb of Edmaration Etc asked contributors for their favorite color. The runaway winner? Blue and I belong to the Blue Team.Yeahey!! Having a favorite color is also one of the tasks in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" so I checked it off.
At Kabayan Resort in Batangas
I love Blue from moutfits, umbrella, car, curtains, fence, even contact lenses. Blue evoke such calmness and is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed so I adopted it as my signature color and checked this task in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die". But after reading about the Country Fair Story, my fascination for blue becomes more of a reminder to always be worthy of a blue-ribbon or being of the highest quality
Fence was Blue before Developer demanded to change color 
In the United States, there is a Lamb Show held each year. The judges would lined - up the lambs according to quality and conditioning. Those lambs with high quality and are well conditioned gets a blue-ribbon. Those lambs which are at the wrong end of the line gets a red-ribbon. A special junior livestock auction for blue - ribbon animals is held each year. Community members come and buy the animals. But a red-ribbon meant you couldn't sell the lamb for that year.
In Taipei (Taiwan) Airport in 2009
I pictured another auction day, the judgment day, when I would be just like the lamb and  would have to give our Saviour Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father an account of my life. I wondered how I would feel on that day if I hadn't lived worthy of a "blue-ribbon" 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tagaytay's Surprises: Roadside Flower Shops and Mushroom Burger!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Since I claimed that I have been to Tagaytay a hundreth times and that it had been the venue for my best one day itinerary, I thought that I have tried all the best offerings of the place - from resto, lodging and attractions and anyone who will bring me there on a date  (ahem!) stands to hear from me repetitively the phrase 'been there done that'. My friend Raymond proved me wrong!
After our first meeting, we were back at his place in Sta. Rosa Heights near Nuvali the  following weekendWe drove to Tagaytay which is only about 15 minutes away and  he showed me two (2) things/places I haven't  done/seen yet in this tourist haven.

(1) Roadside Flower Shops
When Raymond stopped the car, I thought it was for restroom break until he gave me three (3) red roses! How sweet! Only then that I noticed the ubiquitous flower shops dotting along the highway (before the pineapple farms and fruits stalls) which for the life of me and those frequent trips previously did not afford me such a delight. With the wide range and variety of plants and flowers I can choose from like my fave roses and mums (which I learned from Raymond to be a short word for chrysanthemums), buying (or even  just admiring or smelling them) is an added reason for me to make a day trip to Tagaytay. Oh well, it would be a plus to travel there with a date who will surprise me with flowers! (*hinting).
(2) Mushroom Burger 
Another Raymond's pleasant surprise about Tagaytay is the Mushroom Burger located in Brgy. Kaybagal along Aguinaldo Highway. For a person like me who haven't tried the usual burgers of beef patties (because of my allergic reaction to beef (even the smell), having a burger made of my fave mushroom is such a welcome idea! I love mushrooms ("the  so-called meat in the vegetable world"), but I still couldn't believe it can replace beef patties and would taste as good (if not better!).
I ordered Mushroom Burger Regular meal (Php 70) with drinks and fries and Raymond had Mushroom Burger Royal meal with drinks and fries (Php 95), Lomi (Php 51), and Strawberry and Chocolate Sundae. The meal was simple, healthy, uniquely Pinoy taste, and really affordable. I guess this is the reason why foreign and local tourists, as in its name, spring up like mushrooms in Tagaytay.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Old Is Back With Amazing Spiderman...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Seeing this picture of my nephew Jay - A  wearing face painting of his uber fave superhero Spider-man was very timely because the reboot of the Spidey movie is out. Lucky for my old pal Raymond as it didn't take me second thinking to accept his invite to watch Amazing Spider-man on his Fourth of July holiday. I thought this is a good movie to reminisce our younger years after two (2) decades of separation. 

And I was right! Like in the old days, Raymond was a take charge date. He picked me up from home and drove me to attend my baking session with Ate Raquel before proceeding to SM North Edsa Cinema I was laughing during the whole trip with the many jokes on his sleeves and that was a good start to get me comfortable with him during this movie date. He then bought the tickets to a 3D movie and let me chose the seats. That felt like a déjà vu (a phenomenon of believing an experience has occurred in the past) since I recalled watching Terminator 2 with him last August 17, 1991 in the same place. I recorded in my journal that "I didn't have any dull moments with him" during the movie date and that feeling is all coming back to me now

As in the old days, we chose hotdogs and drinks to munch on during the movie, over the more popular choice of popcorns (which I couldn't eat because of the smell). It takes an old friend to remember this important tidbit about me because that allowed us to laugh heartily and eat as slowly as we want while catching up as old friends (and letting loose to copycat Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy's 17 year olds intelligently awkward charms). Chessy!

Amazing Spider-Man has all the cutesy ingredients I was looking for in a movie, with more focused on the teenage angst and love story shown in a respectful and safe tone. With its simple plot and scenes, which were mostly adapted from the 2002 film of this super hero's beginning as young Peter Parker, the movie has put me in a total "old is back" experience where my mind wandered back in the old days when I wrote in my journal - "I feel safe being with person(s) even though the lights are dim". 

Many a times, I had to snap myself back into reality because I was so caught up in the moment and truly forgot that we have just met recently  - 6 days to be exact.  We definitely didn't lose touch despite the long years of no contact. Like Amazing Spider-man, the movie date was truly amazing!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Breaking Out of A Rut Through Baking Moist Chocolate Cake!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I was admittedly in a rut lately and trying to get out of it, by doing something new that are interesting. Glad I was able to read 42-practical-ways-to-improve-yourself and had been trying some of the suggestions there. Today, I did No. 3. Pick - up a new hobby - baking

And what better way to do Baking 101 than to bake my uber favorite moist chocolate cake with a good friend Raquel whom I haven't seen for awhile. We have been meaning to meet for this baking session and glad we finally got the chance on the Fourth of July holiday which coincided with a date invite by another old pal Raymond whom I have just met very recently. So while Raquel was my patient baking mentor, avid listener (to my lotza lotza stories) and eager confidante, Raymond was my driver, videographer, photographer and taster that day which turn out to be one of freedom - from boredom.

ingredients  for  chocolate Moist cake 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (created by mixing 1 cup milk and 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 cup boiling water

  1. In the large bowl mix the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. 
  2. In a separate mixing bowl combine the wet ingredients - eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Stir in boiling water.
  3. Pour batter evenly among the four pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until the cake detaches  around the edges of the pan (few moist crumbs along the pan).

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour four small baking pans and set aside.
  2. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place on a wire cooling rack. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or frosting.

ingredients  for chocolate frosting 
  • 1/2 stick bar butter 
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

  • Procedure: Melt butter over boiling water then add cocoa powder and powdered sugar little at a time alternately with milk then add vanilla 

ingredients  for  ganache 
  • 227 grams semi-sweet bittersweet 
  • 3/4 cup all purpose cream
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • Procedure: Chop chocolate bar. Heat cream but do not boil. Pour in chopped chocolate. 
Indeed, learning something new is a great way to get me out of a rut and this baking session  stretched me out in more ways than one - physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Travel Blog Journey...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
My interests in Travel and blogging (both in their simplest forms - account of field trips scribbled by pen on a simple notebook) came into being when I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint (LDS) on April 11, 1987

In response to the admonition of the twelfth LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball to “... begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies", I started my first personal journal dated March 4, 1989. 

I have several binders of journals in our bookshelves since then, which contains records of "things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:79). 

Reading from my first journal, I learned that my very first recorded travel was in Villa Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon Province on Thursday, March 23, 1989. 

"I'm here in Villa Escudero (Laguna) for our Youth Conference. We had a great time here. As we arrived we had a welcome drink in the pavilion. The waitress who served us are wearing "probinsiyana dress". When we are going to Camp Placido, we ride at a carabao with matching "harana". You supposed yourself as you're in a province and you are also a probinsiyana".

Who cares about grammatical errors then? haha -At least you have an idea that at 14 I was already fascinated with the first form of traveling and blogging!

My Journal. To The Past, Present and Future.
 I dedicate this book to the PAST because I came out of it.
To the PRESENT because I live in it.
To the FUTURE because my children shall inherit it.
On April 18, 1992 (Saturday), I began my second Journal. I wrote "As I looked back, reminiscing and capturing the past events, I sighed "there's still a lot of things to be history is not yet complete" - and happiness can be seen in my face, coz I still have time to jot down the details of my comings and goings. I am thankful that I have started recording my least I know where to begin anew...where to continue my pen running...". 

Then on October 11, 2008, upon a friend's insistence, I created "My Comings and Goings" on blogspot. My first blog entry explains the reason for the blog, "This blog is created so I can account and show to families, loved-ones, relatives, friends and colleagues, my journey through life ...through written words and photos of special event, trip and accomplishment". But as in my  private journal, the first few entries therein were merely for personal consumption and was written solely for my posterity. 

The blog has gotten better since then.  First, it has evolved into  a Travel blog after Gael Hilotin a.k.a. The Pinay Solo Backpacker has added me in the Pinoy Travel Bloggers (PTB) group on Facebook sometime in April 2011. I became a regular reader of femme travel blogs like Claire's Lakwatsera de Primera, Gay's Pinay Travel Junkie, Nina's Just Wandering, Liliane's Wanderlass and Chichi's & Loi's We Are Solesisters. Their accounts have gotten me really pumped up about traveling and that fueled my desire to check off some my bucket lists and to write the experiences with netizens in mind. 

And came the first meet up with the PTB Gael Hilotin with young folks Lauren, Ivan, Darwin, and Marco at the Pahiyas celebration in Lucban. After that I became more involved in the PTB community, attending more meet-ups and hosted the Blog Carnival in May 2011 on "My Hometowns". I also get to know more friends' bloggers and followed their blogs like Aleah's Solitary Wanderer, Marky Ramone Go's  Nomadic Photographs, James Betia's Journeying James and Monette and Ron's Flip N Travels.

So when "My Comings And Goingsturned 3 on October 11, 2o11, it has 40 followers, 18,589 page views, 450 published posts and a three (3) month worth of backlogs!  

On November 24, 2011,  "My Comings and Goings" came to the fore as I scored a dollar-domain hosting with GoDaddy. I then changed the design, added a few more pages, spruced it up with more icons and heaps of pictures. After less than 7 months of having a self-hosted blog and as I get  lucky to go on a weekly trip to feed my wanderlust, my followers almost tripled, my page views skyrocketed to more than 51,000, my published posts reached beyond 500 and my backlogs? - I lost count

No worries though. I will surely write about them. If not on thisTravel blog  I will do so in my personal journal because as Pres. Spencer W. Kimball said "What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity."

This is my entry to the July 2012 Pinoy Travel Blog Carnival with the theme "The Journey That Made Us A Travel Blogger" being hosted by Edmar Gu - Quibb Edmaration Etc.

For previous Blog Carnival topics please visit Estan Cabigas' Langyaw.

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Trotting The Globe

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I've been to 660 cities in 26 countries
Mhe-Anne is an explorer that:
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