Happy New Year 2010!

The year was a very blessed yet challenging for me. Many opportunities have opened yet it required me to do a lot of risks. Its not the best year but its not also the worst. 2010 will bring more hope and more friends...for now let us celebrate life and welcome the new year! Expect more interesting blogs, comments and features as we go full steam ahead to the new year! MAZEL TOV!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Its Christmas day! And we would like to greet everyone and to all the readers of this Blog a Very Merry Christmas! The year was somewhat a roller coaster ride for all of us but there are still a lot of things to be thankful for this year. Our families, our friends and also the things we have endured and also offered a helping hand for those who need them most. The year is not yet over so many things can still happen but for now, lets enjoy the holidays and focus on the birthday boy today that made a big difference in the world.


füdfÿt: WHY NOT? CHOC NUT Graham cake!

Its Christmas time and what we love to do on this celebration is... EAT. Its already a given and the challenge to food lovers is to enjoy the art of eating by devising new flavors but of the same Christmas spirit. And what I always want to "cook" are Graham cakes because (1) they are easy to preapre and (2) you dont need a oven (but you need a refrigerator). And like what I said there should be twist for this year, and I made my own recepie which I called.... WHY NOT? CHOC NUT!Now the ingredients:
1. 1 pack Graham Crackers
2. 2. packs 250ml All purpose cream
3. 1 can condensed milk
4. Powdered chocolate
5. Sugar
6. Marshmallows (the little cute sized ones were out of stock so I used the ones that look like frech fries)
7. 1 pack (of the legendary) CHOC NUT!

Now for the steps:
1. place first layer with Graham Crackers on a pan. Then sprinkle some chocolate powder above it and also the gaps that were uncovered by the crackers.

2. With the Choc nut, crush them using you hand and sprinkle them above the layer. Also its OK for you to leave some chunks to emphasize the flavor of the Choc nut in the dish. While doing this you can now place the creams into another pan and mix it with some condensed milk and sugar. Mix well and make sure no lumps or bubbles are formed.
3. You can now place some marshmallows above them. For the french fries style of mallows, you can pull them apart to make them shorter. Then after you can now pour the cream mixture.
4. Do the same layer procedure which may go up to 2-4 layers depending on the size of the pan. At the top, which should be the cream, we will now create the top layer. The top layer will be formed by the sprinkling the rest of the crushed choc nut covering the top layer.
5. If you still have marshmallows left you can decorate the top with anything that you want. For us, since its Christmas, we place there Happy b-day Jesus! (we have to make sure that mallows are enough to spell the out). Then with the powdered chocolate and condensed milk, mix them to make a syrup that you can design the top layer of the cake.
6. You can now place pan inside the refrigerator for about an hour as the cream freezes and its done!
An there you have it! WHY NOT? CHOC NUT Graham cake, made with very practical ingredients with a twist of a favorite Filipino confectionery.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day nine

As the simbang gabi ends with this last day, I've never noticed that it has been nine days already. Was I too used to it or I enjoyed it a lot that time passed by too fast. Now for the last leg I was drawn into the Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord in Megamall. But I have not gone into shopping in the mall, it was really to attend the last day of this devotion. And as this is dubbed as the biggest indoor mall chapel in the world, it has been an effective connection for Filipinos who loves going to the mall as well as the deep spirituality that would not jeopardize both sides. Athough many still opose to this kind, it has the support of the Archdiocese thus clearing all the issues. Nevertheless, this has been a spiritual spring amidst the commercial and material desert.
The presider for the mas was Father Que which is an expert in cathecesis. He would perfectly integrate the catacethical explanation of the gospel in layman's terms and explain them in a very simple manner that is not boring. He stressed that simbang gabi is not made for wishing because God already knows our needs and will provide them at the right time and venue. The essence of simbang gabi is to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, just like the experiences of Mary , John the baptist and his parents.
And as Christmas dawns, it is important to know that this is also a way of thanking God for the things we have today. Our survival up to now and what will happen in the future. The Gospel also speaks of the testimony of Zechariah as he regains his voice and hearing as he wrote the word John on the tablet asking him what will be the name of his son. As John came into the world he now paves the way as the arrival of the Messiah comes.
It was very fulfilling that I have completed the nine days of Misa de Gallo. Yes there were different and unique experiences, new learnings, new places and happy memories that arose amidst the inconviniences that I have encountered along the way. And like what I noticed, time did pass by as you were enjoying the journey. I would like to call it a pilgrimage even if its not very far but really helped me spiritually as I had realizations along the way as well as the sermons given by each unique priest. For now, I know that I have done a part to thank God for the blessings I have gotten this year yet still pray for present woes. It made me firm to my faith and hopefully I would also get my friends to join me next year. And I am now blogging this as a diary of what had happened in the 9 days. These blogs would also remind me of the things I've been through and if ever it will also inspire others in any little way. And on Christmas day, I am now preparing myself as I open my heart and let the Messiah be born in it.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day eight

The eighth day of simbang gabi actually led me to a church that brought me memories. This is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral formerly a parish in which the school behind it was my school in pre-school and early elementary days. The church made a makeover after it was dedicated as the cathedral for the diocese of Cubao. I also remembered that this is where I had my first comunion.
The church is still in renovation up to now but you would see that the details were meticulous and made a big leap from a parish to a real cathedral. The celing is studded with stars that would make you look up to star-gaze. And because of its very beautiful interiors and upgrades, I was thinking that someday I would get married here. Memories plus nice interiors...that would explain everything. Breathtaking!
Yes, about the gospel. it is still about the story of John and his parents who are known to be pious and obedient to the Lord. This time Zacheriah was tested as he lost his voice and became deaf because he doubted if he would have a son brought about the news the Angel Gabriel told him as he was doing rituals in the temple of God. Now the thing that was really striking was, Nothing is impossible with God. Its sounds like the slogan of a sports brand but it was proven in the story which the continuation will be testified on the last day as it culminates and will reveal the arrival of Jesus on Christmas day.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day seven

Just like last night (or morning), I also went back to a previous church for the seventh day. But this was accidental because of my poor scheduling and on the spot decisions that almost jeopardized the essence and value of the simbang gabi. I originally planned to try a church in the Ortigas-Pasig Area, but I failed to check on the churches that are available and their respective schedules. I was at St. Francis Parish at 8pm but they were already done with thier mass when I arrived. Then I thought if Megamall chapel would start at that time but from what I know its also at the same time as this parish. Then, I made a move by going to EDSA shrine on a short bus ride but eventually to find out that they only serve dawn masses and no night ones.
So I was getting desparate. Its almost 930pm and I am confused on what church would have mass at that time. And then, I remembered San Juan church that starts at 930. So I acted quick to take a jeepney ride to the church. However, I also encountered traffic as we passed by greenhills which made me a little bit depressed and guilty of what have I done. But it was a grace that I have arrived at the church. And was able to understand that the gospel was about Zacheriah, John the baptist's father. As I would remember I am drawn into a church dedicated to John the baptist.
My view at the church was different since I was near the door and never seated. But this gave me another perspective of the church that it had murals about John's life including his father. You might say it would be old art but it was very helful in reflecting about the message for today. And since the church is one of my recent discoveries, I would like to take sometime to go around the church and probably know some history about it. But for now, its still not a good time. However, the experiences I had in this church actually helped me a lot in understanding the message of the gospels especially about John, the voice coming from the desert preparing the way of the Lord.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day six

Day six is somewhat like starting misa de Gallo again because I went back to Sacred Heart Parish for the sixth day mass. However, I managed to attend it in the morning making the experience a little bit different from the first time. Well one thing odd about the experience is that since its very early in the morning and our street is so quiet yet there would be incidents of theft and assult. My mother acted as an observer as I walk in the eerie but lighted street. Eventually, I did make it to the church but a little bit late.
As you may know, the gospel would again speak of the visitaion of Mary to Elizabeth, who bears John the baptist. And as the anticipation for John's birth comes so does also the coming of Jesus. I was wondering since she was said to be at her old age if the pregnancy would be difficult as well as raising John as a child. Oh well, at least he grew up to be a great servant of God.
After the mass, I noticed that there were vendors of bibingka and puto bungbong. Oh what joy! I have not tasted these two in years! Although I noticed that prices also went up too as time passed. But I had to take this chance to get them and probably feel nostalgic about the taste and feeling. But more than that, I also tried the lugawan thats also beside the church. I forgot the name but it is famous for the students of PUP and that area because the lugaw is very affordable and you can get refills!
As I arrived home, I went ahead in taking a bite from the puto bungbong and bibingka. And since the journey home would be humid and cold. I have to heat them up in the microwave so they would appear as freshly baked. And they did not dissapointed me as they tasted good and brought fond memories. And it registered in my mind that I would probably get another serving on the next days of simbang gabi.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day five

For this day, I went to a dawn mass again. And for this trip, I chose to go to Quiapo Chruch. And if you may not know, I do have a devotion for the Black Nazarene. That is why since high school I would always attend the Feast of the Black Nazarene every January. Like me, there would be millions of devotees that would testify the miracles that happened in their lives with having a strong spiritual connection with Jesus. Being the central figure of faith, his birth would show his great mission which eventually showed his love for mankind by being crucified on the cross.

The church is coincidently the parish of St. John the Baptist. Whch is also what the gopel is all about. Even within the womb. John showed his excitement as Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. At this sight, Elizabeth felt very blessed and spoke of praise to Mary and the one in he womb. And we knw that John the Baptist lived the life similar to the prophet Elijah. He is also the "voice that cries out in the desert saying prepare the way of the Lord". With this the arrival of Jesus has proven his Kingship and thet title of Messiah.
This journey to Quiapo was very exciting because even if the number of devotee are overflowing from inside, I was able to get inside and also got sprinkled with a lot of holy water. I often wondered if it is possible that holy water would be vented out in sprinklers so everyone would be showered (and get wet) with it. But it made me realized that even some may not be sprinkled with blessings, one may need to be patient with waiting for the right time. One may pray for years for healing for a certain disease, but would not loose hope. And with this hope, it makes us alive. It makes us strive to be better. It makes us rise from our grieving and sorrows. And hope is also the message of Christmas.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day four

The fourth night of simbang gabi was very special to me since its also our Christmas Party for AYOM (Archdiocesan Youth Organizations and Movements) at the Arsobispado de Manila in Intramuros, Manila. I've been working with this group for the whole year with major activities such as retreats and team buidling. And for this night, we will have mass before the actual party. I was also excited to see the belen collection the archdiocese is displaying. They are just small figurines so they dont take a lot of space but they are well crafted.
The chapel inside arsobispado has been my favorite indoor chapels despite its seating capacity. Its ambiance is simple yet very solemn. The mass was celebrated by our minister Father Marthy Marcelo. Its his first time to spend Christmas with the AYOM group since his installation on March. We loved his sermons because even it starts with witty humor, eventually he would turn it to a serious, touching and meaningful speech. He is also very new in the priesthood as he celebrated his first year this year. And we are looking forward for more years of journeying with him.

The message in for the mass' gospel is still linked to the message of being not afraid from God's will be with him and will protect all who are faithful to him. This time we would also see Joseph as he recieve the good news although he hesitated at first. If I were in his shoes, I would also be hesistant but the good thing that he done is that he chose to follow the great plan for the arrival Jesus.
As I was saying we also had the Christmas Party also at the same venue but in the 4th floor where Pope John Paul II also dined years ago. We were about 150 people there. Of course there is food, games, dances but no booze (hey its a church movement!). But eventhough, we had a lot of fun thinking that this buiding is the office of the Archdiocese of Manila. This just proves that being pious can be fun especially when you have your friends.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day three

Last night, me and my mother went to Divisoria to buy something. Not really gifts but practical stuff like fabric et cetera. And since there is heavy traffic of vehicles and people, I was not able to reach the masses in the evening. However, I made a desicion to persue to early morning mass but just not sure where to go. My options were to go to PLM where I got an invite set at 4:30 am. The other option is EDSA shrine since I also wanted to attend mass there again. Being so practical (and a little bout of time for commuting) I decided to go to EDSA shrine since it takes one bus ride (or two jeepney rides) and would not take more than 15 mins at that hour. Again for my Simbang Gabi masses, I feel everyday is an adventure that I can cherish and reflect on what I have experienced in the past nights/mornings. And since it was my first mass in the morning, the feeling of excitement filled me. I did arrived probably 10 mins late since I entered the shire when the reading were started.
The message in today's gospel is DO NOT BE AFRAID. Its very timely for us that are in anxiety for the coming days or probably next year. The message was also lingering in my mind since the priest had a french accent (probably he is french). I do have fears and worries about the coming days or even hours. I beleive you have one also. It was a message of security from the Lord that as we await him, we can put our trust in him and stand brave amidst the night. There are still days before the mager will be filled, so it is good for us to light our lamp of trust and faith until he arrives.
After the mass, I was excited to taste the taho from the vendor outside. Since there were no other vendors for puto bumbong or bibingka. I also met a TENer friend kuya Lei(he gave me the time the mass will start). I missed the morning breeze and also the hot taho at ortigas. So I also realized that even things did not go according to plan, it may actually lead to a better experince.

Misa de Gallo Diaries: Day two

Today is the second day of Misa de Gallo, this time we go to a new venue which is the St. John the baptist church in San Juan City. This was my first time to enter the church despite I have passed by it a thousand times when I was working in ortigas. So I consider it a blessing. At first I thought I was late but the actual start of the mass is 9:30 pm. And there was also some practice made my the sacristans. I have to say that even the church is vintage it has the modern touch. But of course I am not there to critic the architecture or thier practice stands. But for the message.

According to the readings, it shows the geneology of Jesus from Abraham to David up to Joseph his foster father. For me that part of the gospel is the longest verse in the book since it would tell the lineage of Jesus from the time of Abraham. The Priest in his homily asked volunteers to do thier happiest and loudsest laugh and all of them got a gift for being volunteers. After that he said that the essence of Christmas is to feel hope and reoice in it amidst the problems that happened this year.
Personally, It was also a test of patience of waiting for one and a half hour before the mass proper because I arrived 8:15 but the mass was set at 9:30. I really cannot stand waiting, yet I find me self to find solace in waiting. Knowing that it was also this trait that led me into his blessings and grace. For now, I would like to apologize of being too technical about some observations but since its my first time in the church I tend to oberve a lot. But above all it ends well as I aknowledge my shortcomings and will try to change them. Thus, another sign of providence from the man above.


Amidst the bad news we have faced this year 2009, we have another thing that we cab be proud of and also be another source of inspiration for us as a nation. This time its not just a man that brought a new pride, but a number of hardworking, creative and cheese-loving team of student and chefs from different cooking schools that made the "chessy" record. Together with Kraft Foods and Eden Cheese, they made an attempt to make the most number of dishes on display in a single day. The last record holder was India with 4,668 in 2007. And the question is...did we beat the record?

The answer was definitely YES! with 5,845 unique dishes on display under the big Araneta Coliseum dome, witnessed by students, chefs and food-lovers affirmed the Filipinos effort to make another world record. And aside from that there was also competition between the participating schools in cheese carving and Noche Buena setting and cuisine. The schools who participated are Centro Escolar University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, La Consolacion College, St. Paul University, Arellano University, and Regina Carmeli. Also as the pilot school for the event was the Magsaysay Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Arts (MIHCA). Top chefs of the country also participated as judges for the competitions and also support the world record bid within the sea of dishes frm pastas, breads, cakes, dumplings, and many more that made the historical record.

At this event also Kraft had launched the Keso de Gallo that will be done of different venues that will showcase dishes that will also bring joy to the areas that they will visit. Now, you will see cheese in a different way now this Christmas season aside from providing a delicious treat it will also make people feel the spirit of Christmas after all the disasters and tragedies.

more pics at my multiply site...