Friday, August 31, 2012

Ferdinand Marcos on an Office Desk

You know how you forget last night's dreams at the beginning of the day?  You shower, you eat breakfast, you eat lunch, you work and work and work, and, all of a sudden, at 3PM in the afternoon, POOF!  You remember it clearly.

So here goes:

Last night I had a dream that President Marcos was an office worker.  I don't know what office that was or where it was located.  All I remember is that he was almost buried in paperwork and he had no time to talk to me because he had so much to do.  I tried to strike a conversation but all I got from him was a remark saying he was too busy for conversations.  It was like he was subordinate to someone but he was not suffering.  He was neither happy nor sad.  It didn't seem permanent, though.  It was like he was trying to work as fast as he could because he was after a deadline.
I also remember from the same dream that there was some sort of commotion behind an old glass door adjacent to where Marcos' desk was but he did not so much as fidget.  He just carried on with his work at the same pace.  I don't know what caused the commotion either.  What I remember is seeing shadows of people from behind the glass door. 
In a panic, I went outside the office and reported to a calm-natured superior figure.  I told him something was going on behind the door near the "president."  He proceeded to check it out... And that's all I could remember.

The strange thing:

I didn't have any reason to dream of President Marcos.  I neither talked nor thought about him any time in the recent past.

Brand New Vegetarian Food Blog

I've been cooking a lot lately and I've been going crazy with recipe posts, too.  It seemed like this blog was four inches away from becoming a food portal and I was concerned that readers who visit this page just to check out vegetarian recipes might be disappointed whenever I decide to post normal blog entries.

I saw only one solution to that problem: create a new blog just for vegetarian food.

So I did!  All my recipes from this blog have been transferred there and any new ones will be posted there.  No more recipes here from this day onwards.  This is a blog for musings, not food p*rn, as some of my friends call it! Hahaha!

Go ahead and check out my new food blog!  It's called The Kitchen of an Eccentric Male Specimen.

Click on the link below.

You may also click on the sixth tab above that says VEGETARIAN KITCHEN.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heavenly Roast Potatoes

a lacto vegetarian dish

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Heavenly Roast Potatoes

This recipe is a variation of Jamie Oliver's Perfect Roast Potatoes, which I've seen on TLC and YouTube a couple of times.

If you follow the recipe strictly, you'll come up with a boat that would serve:

- 2 to 4 people
And, yes, you read that right.  It says "boat" up there.  A boat that looks just like the one in the picture.

You will need:

- 4 medium sized potatoes
- 3 tablespoons of melted butter
- 1 & 1/2 cup of grated Emmental Swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup of grated Edam cheese
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves (1 teaspoon if dried)
- 7 pieces of fresh marjoram leaves (1 teaspoon if dried)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of either apple cider vinegar, red/white wine vinegar, or sugar cane vinegar
- 5 cloves of garlic, pressed and broken
- sea salt for seasoning
- black pepper for seasoning

To make this dish suitable for vegans, use the following alternatives:

- margarine instead of butter
- soy cheese instead of Edam & Emmental (or you may omit cheese completely)

NOTE: You will need both a stove and an oven to cook this dish.  A real oven, NEVER a microwave oven.

Let's get roastin':

1. Peel the potatoes and halve them crosswise.
2. Wash the starch off with some cold water..
3. Drop the potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water just enough to cover all individual pieces.
4. Season the water well with salt and bring to the boil.
5. When it comes to the boil, parboil covered over medium heat for 10 full minutes.
6. After parboiling, drain the water out.
7. Grease the base of a heatproof boat or a small casserole pan.  Let the potatoes sit on it cut-side-down and then baste them with the rest of the butter.
8. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper.
9. Pop the boat or casserole pan in an oven for 30 minutes at 190°C or 375°F.
10. Remove the dish from the oven and lightly press the potatoes down using a potato masher or a big spoon. You want to see the sides break a little and make juices come out but you don't want to press too hard.  You are not doing this to mash it, only to agitate the insides.
11. Put your thyme leaves, marjoram leaves and garlic in a bowl.  Pour in your vinegar and olive oil until everything is coated.
12. Use your hands to thoroughly sprinkle it over the dish.  Make sure the garlic cloves sit on top of the potatoes.
13. Pop it back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes at the same temperature.
14. Take it out of the oven, drop the garlic cloves to the sides and sprinkle your cheese evenly all over the dish.
15. Pop it back in for a final time and allow the cheese to melt for about 5 minutes.  You may use a the grill feature if you have it to let the cheese burn a little.
16. Take it out of the oven and ENJOY HEAVEN!

WARNING:  Do not make this dish every day or you'll grow really, really fat!

Asparagus and Broccoli Curry

a vegan dish

You will find that the procedure in this recipe is quite cumbersome.  Processes such as boiling and simmering are repeated over and over again to ensure that the proper sauce consistency is achieved.

You must keep in mind that this is a type of stew and stewing always takes time even if it only involves vegetables.


Asparagus and Broccoli Curry

It's a curry that involves asparagus and broccoli.  Best eaten with rice or soft potatoes.

If you follow the recipe strictly, you'll come up with a bowl that would serve:

- 3 people who really like curry
- 5 people who like curry but don't want to eat too much, or
- 7 to 10 people who don't like curry but are really hungry and have no choice but to eat it

You will need:

- 1 large potato, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium sized carrot, halved lengthwise (leave one half intact & chop the other half)
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium sized onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon of curry powder
- 1 teaspoon of fresh dill leaves (1/4 teaspoon if dried)
- 1 teaspoon of ginger paste or crushed ginger
- 2 tablespoons of oil/butter/ghee
- 1 tablespoon of plain flour dissolved in half a cup of water
- 1 cup of asparagus
- 1 cup of broccoli
- 1 regular sized western tomato (or 2 medium sized Roma/Bangalore tomatoes), soaked in very hot water for five minutes and peeled
- salt to taste
- muscovado sugar or molasses to balance the flavour
- chilli for an additional kick (optional)

Let's get cookin':

1. Heat two tablespoons of oil/butter/ghee in a sauce pan and drop in the onion and garlic together.
2. Add in the carrot (both chopped and intact) and toss for about a minute.
3. Pour in a cup of water, mix in your tablespoon of curry powder along with the ginger paste and bring to the boil.
4. When it comes to the boil, add in the flour dissolved in a cup of water and stir to thicken.
If you want to add in chilli, this would be the perfect time to do it.
5. Drop in your chopped potatoes and bring again to the boil.
6. When boiling, simmer gently for 30 minutes with occasional stirring.
7. Remove the intact half of the carrot and blend it to purée.  Add the purée to the saucepan right after.
8. Using your bare hands, squeeze the peeled tomato over the saucepan so that its juices fall onto your cooking.  Mince it using your hand, dropping each peace you pull right onto the saucepan.
9. Drop in the dill along with your asparagus and broccoli and stir everything.
10. Add salt and muscovado/molasses to your palate's delight.
11. Bring to the boil and simmer for another 5-7 minutes before serving.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Popeye the Sailor Man is NOT FOR KIDS

Popeye seen tossing the tin of spinach away after taking its contents

I used to enjoy watching Popeye cartoons as a child.  Back when I was eight, I used to steal the remote control from my grandpa each time I visited his house.  My next move would then be to tune in to Cartoon Network to see if they had either of my two favourite shows on.  It was either the Tom and Jerry Show or Popeye the Sailor.  Otherwise, I'd give the remote back to him and leave him to watch the news in peace.

Tom and Jerry gave me cheap laughs and taught me two primary lessons: Not to be a bully and to never allow myself to be bullied.  Popeye, on the other hand, made me love spinach betting on the idea that it would help me become strong and overcome oppressive people.  I would begin punching air and imitating his actions the moment he ate his spinach and started beating the crap out of Bluto--all in the effort to save the love of his life, Olive Oyl.

FUN FACT: I used to walk around my village hiding a small plastic container full of water spinach as a precautionary measure in case someone tried to bully me like Bluto did to Popeye.  And, yes, I used water spinach because no real spinach was sold in any grocery store in my city during those days.

Having grown up and become more socially aware, I recently went to YouTube to revisit a slice of my childhood.  I opted to watch an episode of Popeye and noticed how it was no longer a treat to see the violence he inflicted on Bluto.  Sure, the fat man just gets flung to a nearby hill when Popeye punches him.  However, I have personally experienced delivering an uppercut to a bully and it was not pretty.  His mouth bled and it didn't please me at all.  He didn't fly and land on a tree like I comically imagined he would.  Sad, I know, but I was only 12 then.

Popeye cartoons don't exemplify good values and children should not idolise him!

True, he eats spinach (which is indubitable healthy)!  However, if you watch a few episodes again, you may notice that in some of them, he recklessly and irresponsibly disposes of his rubbish!  After he eats the spinach, he is sometimes shown to just toss tins anywhere without thinking about it.

Another photo showing Popeye tossing the tin away after eating the spinach

While I'm aware that it's not the show's intent to popularise littering, such image is subconsciously embedded in children's minds, leading them to do the same thing without giving it a thought.  Subliminal messaging wasn't given attention in the 1930's when the Popeye character was conceived but we have now learned, from modern discoveries in the field of psychology, that they do matter and play a significant role in character development.

If you argue that littering has been minimised over the years of the cartoon series' existence, there are other themes that are worth attention:

- Smoking:  If you haven't noticed Popeye smoking a pipe, you'd have to be blind.
- Destructive Behaviour:  The fact that he tends to destroy a lot of things that come his way without thinking of his actions' consequences!
- Animal Cruelty:  He has been shown in a number of episodes abusing cattle in bull fighting scenes.
- Racism:  In one episode, Popeye and Pappy are shown subduing an island tribe whose population appears to have a dark complexion.  The tribe members are later stacked by the father-son tandem on a rack and labelled "Cheaper by the dozen."  Now you tell me what message that conveys to children!

Popeye the Sailor
Popeye hurting a bull in a bullfight scene
(Self-defence? Why participate in such activities in the first place?)

Popeye the Sailor
Pappy labelling the dark-skinned natives "Cheaper by the dozen."
(I can't understand why you need to add insult to injury after defeating your attackers.)

While I appreciate some themes like the encouragement of eating vegetables and the protection of weaker people and helpless small animals (like that young calf he saved from being killed by Bluto; although he killed a bigger bull in the same episode), I do not recommend the show for young children who are in their formative years.

Popeye the Sailor Man is a cartoon classic but should just not be watched by our youngsters who are in the process of formulating values for themselves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Open Letter to Arrogant Pricks Who Just Don't Know When to Stop

Dear You,

Please put a lid on your destructively patronising attitude.  It's not helping anyone and it's unnecessarily offending a lot of people.

You live in a free country so you have the liberty to express your opinions as frequently as you want to.  However, do employ common sense to determine where and when a statement is appropriate or not.

Are you trying to call attention to yourself?  Are you trying to make people fall in awe of your deliberate nonconformity to social ethics?  I don't know if you are purposely trying to be ostentatious about your indecency or if your sense of judgement is just way too weak to be able to see where the line between "strongly opinionated citizen" and "pompous, insensitive prick" is drawn.  If it's the former, then it's definitely working.  If it's the latter, go seek psychiatric help because you direly need it.

Your arrogance is way too much.  The fact that you're hurting people isn't the issue here.  What's bothering me is that the pain you're causing isn't the type that amounts to anything constructive.  Sure, you can rant about sensible legislation and political crimes.  News articles about such things are meant to trigger waves of opinion so, by all means, bring yours to the fore.  However, when you use your hammers to merely destroy without the intent to rebuild, it's a different story.  You cannot keep doing it.  You need to stop!  It's one thing to enjoy expressing your points of view; it's another thing to bash and bask in the blood you've drawn out.

Do you expect emotional injuries to simply disappear in the void of oblivion?  For your information: that just doesn't happen.  While some people are evolved enough to let your offences pass, most do not bear such an ability.  For the majority of people you hurt, the pain builds up and causes unspeakable damage to their being.

My advice is for you to now embark on a long journey of self-discovery to examine the aspects of your existence that are worth a ton of not-so-pleasant adjectives.  I couldn't care less if you do it or not, though.  What's important is you come to terms with the fact that you have an attitude that needs adjustment--not to mention a mouth and set of typing fingers that need to undergo intensive rehabilitation.

You need to know when to zip it!

Ludwig Bon Migriño Quirog

P.S.  Another piece of advice: Please work on your grammar if you wish to continue using the English language in expressing yourself on the internet.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

LifestyleBohol * At the End of the Day: A Review of Les Misérables (in Bohol)

This review article's text is exactly as it appears on the August 5th, 2012 issue of LifestyleBohol.  Of course, since this is a webpage, I went crazy with the photos.  I hope they don't end up making this entry confusing for anyone.

Enjoy reading!

I was in Manila on a trip to see the French play, God of Carnage, when my Aunt Bing told me she was giving me a ticket to see Les Misérables at the Bohol Cultural Centre.  I leaped with joy!  “Two French stage shows on the same week?”  I said to myself, “It’s not even Christmas yet.  What did I do to deserve this awesomeness?”

Over a month before that day, I had known about it.  DreamBig Productions and Cre8tive Thespians Circle Inc, the Cebuano companies that brought the musical to Bohol, had created a lot of noise on Facebook about a supposed Les Miz production but I didn’t take them seriously.  I couldn’t help it; I hadn’t heard about them before and I wasn’t sure if they could deliver.  I was obviously wrong to have doubted them and my aunt’s enthusiasm for art proved to be an enormous blessing!

The Show

July 27th, opening night, came before I knew it.  It was to be the night of “ultimate Misery,” as West End and Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh would put it.  The ticket said the show would start at 7:00PM but we had to sit through half an hour of dead air before they actually turned the lights off and pulled the curtains up.  It wasn’t the production team’s fault, though.  The place didn’t properly fill up until 7:20.  I guess we’ve gotten used to events starting an hour behind schedule that we tend to take time for granted.

I watched the show again on the second night, where a large part of this review will be based on since I was seated nearer to the stage.  Before I go about it, however, let me make it clear that I won’t be telling the story or talking about character backstories or enumerating every single musical number in this article.  This is a review, not a summary.  If you want to know about Les Misérables, Google it or read the novel.

The show began with the familiar overture and Work Song and I was pleased when I noticed the lapel microphones sticking out of the actors’ ears, knowing the singing was live.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to endure a medley of pre-recorded tracks like I did with a few local productions in the past.  What I had to endure, though, was the very bad audio system.  While the choruses were really good, the solo lines sounded irreconcilably hollow, which was very irritating.  Add to the list of flaws the fact that some of the lapels also had problems, which rendered some songs practically inaudible to people beyond the fifth row.

Jean Valjean with the Male Ensemble in Work Song following the Overture
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Jean Valjean

I noticed that, Sonny Alquizola, the actor playing Jean Valjean had a vocal quality comparable to that of Colm Wilkinson, the Canadian tenor who originated the role in the West End and on Broadway.  When he ages considerably, there’s a good chance he might even achieve the same timbre.  My companions and I were certainly bowled over with his performance of Bring Him Home, a song written specifically for the Canadian Tenor.

Alquizola had a few difficulties here and there, but who didn’t?  His most notable predicament was in achieving a solid grip of the very lofty final note of the song Who Am I, a high B which is normally held for seven seconds.  He was also a good actor—his stage behavior changed as he supposedly got old throughout the musical.  He even added more huskiness to his voice in the latter part, which gave an extra tinge of realism to his characterization.

Jean Valjean with Marius and the Ensemble in Bring Him Home
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Inspector Javert

The main antagonist of the musical, Inspector Javert, was played by Andrew Vincent Esplanada.  His rendition of Stars was classic—punctuated with the eyes of an angry Roman god about to smite the unrighteous.  While Esplanada wasn’t quite the despicable pious prick that Javert was meant to be, he knew how to stare at Valjean and the rest of the cast with such hatred and disdain, which helped him make it perfectly clear that his character meant business.  His abuse directed towards Fantine as a prostitute made me want to throw a can of soda at him—which meant he did it right.

Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in the duet part of Work Song
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot


Gayle Marie Sinadjan, portraying Fantine, had a smooth voice with a beautiful vibrato—a cross between Joanna Ampil and Ruthie Henshall but definitely neither.  She took my heart away during The Confrontation when she sang of the character’s daughter, Cosette, as though she had a real child to sing about.  Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream was vocally impressive but I have to say she moved way too much.  Her voice would have been enough to reduce me to a teary pulp but her physical activity while singing proved too distracting to elicit genuine sympathy.  Overall, she was very good.  Her appearance in Valjean’s Death sent chills down my spine.  It was the same experience I had when I first saw the show several years ago.

Fantine and the Foreman with the Ensemble in At the End of the Day
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Valjean and Fantine in Fantine's Death
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

The Thénardiers

Playing Monsieur and Madame Thénardier were Warren Clyde Tompong and April Anne Moncada respectively.  Oh what a comic relief those two were after a series of miserable scenes depicting death and anguish!  Tompong sang Master of the House like a pro—prancing with a naughty tiptoe all over the stage—singing about how he rips his customers off and steals from them.  He even had a faux 18th century peasant Londoner accent.

Monsieur Thénardier with the Ensemble in Master of the House
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Moncada, on the other hand, really needs to be lauded for her amazing vocal timbre.  She would have very easily stolen the show if her part were longer.  She reminded me so much of Anne Harada, the actress who played the role on Broadway in 2006, with her amazing vocals and wily disposition.  She had the eyebrows of a typical evil villainess and she knew how to use them.  The audience cracked up in laughter when she pulled a tiny banana out while singing the line “thinks he’s quite a lover but there’s not much there.”  That’s something I haven’t seen in any other production of Les Miz.  She’s a bloody wonder!

Madame Thénardier and Young Cosette
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

It’s such a shame the producers decided to cut Beggars at the Feast, the couple’s second big song.  It would have been nice to see them back in their own number.

Marius and Cosette

I was instantly drawn by the vocal prowess of John Michael Fulgencio, who took on the role of Marius.  The moment he first opened his mouth to sing, his voice immediately reminded me of a young Michael Ball, the English tenor who originated the role in the West End.  His notes were smooth and cool—with a stupendous quality showcased when he sang Empty Chairs at Empty Tables on the second night.  On the verge of tears, I remember my cousin, Isa, saying, “He’s way better than Nick Jonas” and she was right to say so.

Marius with the Male Ensemble in Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Cosette was played by Pauline Anne Rosales, a lyric soprano.  I’m glad the production brought back the song, I Saw Him Once, which hasn’t been performed in the musical’s context since the Original West End production in 1985.  It showcased Rosales’ amazing vocal range.  Let me stress, however, that although she and Marius made a cute couple on stage, the strongest chemistry was between the latter and Eponine.

Cosette in I Saw Him Once
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot


Played by Joanna Jane Ang, Eponine was a feisty female waif with a heart-rending sentiment.  Her performance of On My Own was so soul-piercing that I even heard a couple of people clearing their nostrils and throats right before the loud applause.  That could only have meant they were crying.  She portrayed her quiet pain so masterfully that it was agonizing to watch.  A Little Fall of Rain, her duet with Marius right before she dies, drove me to tears on the second night.  With everything that she did before her death, she set the right mood for the audience to weep like they lost their own friend.

Eponine in A Heart Full of Love
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot 

Marius and Eponine (centre) with the Ensemble in A Little Fall of Rain
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot


Junrey Alayacyac, the young man cast as Enjolras had a remarkable set of pipes which reminded me a lot of David Thaxton, who played the role in 2008 in the West End.  It takes a strong voice to play a leader of the June Rebellion and Alayacyac fit the description perfectly.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood when he began to sing Do You Hear the People Sing to the beat of marching drums.  It was as though he was calling on the audience to join him in battle.  He was as passionate as a real revolutionary and it was clear he was singing with heart.  Perhaps he was singing for a modern kind of revolution.

Javert (left; kneeling), Enjolras (centre) and Gavroche (extreme right) with the Ensemble in Little People
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Young Cosette and Gavroche

Of course, we have to give special mention to these two little people—children with such music-filled futures ahead of them.  It’s clear that it could only get brighter from there on.  Portrayed by Raven Chan, a treble, Young Cosette only appears twice in the entire show—first when she sings Castle on a Cloud and second when she is “bought” by Valjean from the Thenardiers where she is mostly silent.  Little Miss Chan had a memorable angelic voice, which, to this day, still rings in my head like I just heard it an hour ago.

Young Cosette in her iconic pose with the broom
To this day, this pose represents Les Misérables.
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Gavroche, the smart little urchin, was another precious character.  Actor Arjay Chan, who played the role, sang Little People bringing an adorable pause of relief for those who found the preceding events to be too heavy on the heart.  In the end, though, he dies by the guns of the enemy.  Rummaging dead bodies for bullets, Little Mister Chan made our hearts sink when he sang his final solo as his character was being shot repeatedly by the French National Guard, writhing in agony until his last note.

Gavroche in Stars
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot


I have to laud the ensemble members for their vocal abilities.  With every single number from the Work Song to the reprise of Do You Hear the People Sing, they showed how much of a formidable bunch they all were.  They must have had a very good choir master because they left me in awe every single time.  Being really close to the stage on the second night, I recognized their faces each time they assumed a different character from their last.  From singing prostitutes to mendicants in the streets of Paris to armed rebels, they took on them with all they had and nailed it with pure awesomeness.

The second night concluded with a reprise of One Day More after the curtain call—this time with members of the crew singing alongside the performers.  Everyone had genuine smiles on their faces—no longer adherent to the miserable theme of the musical—singing their hearts out, knowing they did great.  That standing ovation at the end was very well deserved, to say the least.

The Entire Cast in the Finale (Reprise of Do You Hear the People Sing)
by Karen Lara Migriño Libot

Other Matters

This show was not, in any way, sanctioned by Music Theatre International but it doesn’t matter much.  MTI is known to be very lenient with real art lovers.  What’s important is Cre8tive Thespians Circle Inc, through DreamBig Productions, came to Bohol and made us theatre junkies very happy.

For years and years, I’ve been hoping and praying for the musical theatre scene in the province to come alive and take flight again.  I hope Les Misérables’ staging would usher in more productions—even from local art groups—because having a constant urge to fly to other places just to get my fill isn’t a good feeling.  There are many who love theatre here—enough, perhaps, to give a local production company a lucrative source of income.  Who knows?

Bohol has an open door for art.  Do come in, won’t you?


Seen on Print: