Thursday, 7 December 2017

Divine Providence

Up until now since God has created everything including us, humankind, all of existing evidences that are circumstantial in nature are by far leading up to one point that seem to suggest that His intervention is continuous even in the aftermath of the creation.

If you think about it, it’s very hard not to cogitate a notion that someone out there is keeping the whole universe in natural order. Someone who has the capacity to provide us with a billion-year assurance that everything we need to remain in existence in our lifetime like sunlight, rain and food for example will be equally provided to all of us no matter how good or bad we may have behaved in the last Christmas.

In Koki Fish Market, one can learn from looking at the fishes being sold there about how impressive God’s entities can be. If you observe them closely, you may probably notice that all fishes are like diversities of cloned creatures. While majorities of the fish in the market are moderate in sizes, some are really enormous and may require several people to reel out of the water. Yet they all share a common trait that makes them a mouth-watering delicacy, and that is the idea that aside from being a healthy treat, they are yummy.

But one can be forgiven for oversimplifying that fishes are just foods in general; perhaps it is due to how widely they are viewed as part of most culinary practices.

In Papua New Guinea, it’s a common thing to see Tunas of various fin colours being ended as goods in fish markets. Tuna is my favourite fish to buy because of how it looks. They always have a solid appearance that make them look good when grilled over.

I’ve been meaning to grill one but I haven’t got around to that yet.

If you can imagine a world without fish, do you think that we could substitute rats for the fish? My mental picture-processing unit is refusing to visualize a dead rat being grilled at the moment. Luckily, we haven’t arrived to that point yet. Fishes have an astonishing reproductive strategy in that some of them lay eggs in thousands, which externally fertilise leaving more room for the parents to party around without giving much attention to the surviving hatchlings.  

I don’t think we can out-eat their ability to reproduce yet.

Speaking of party, our parties in Papua New Guinea are held mostly in the house and may involve a round of a few drinks. 

How much does a typical bundle of fish cost in Port Moresby? At the time of this writing, it’s about K20 to K30 a bundle and that still depends on the kind of fish. 

A typical strategy that one can use for rating out a fish’s freshness is by scrutinizing the fishes’ gills. Fresh fishes have red gills and don’t have a red and cloudy eyes.  Our friend Jay-ar here is gingerly inspecting a bundle of fish for any sign of being stale. 

The seas of Papua New Guinea account for the major source of the fishes sold in the market, the other sources include tropical rivers and man-made lakes. In the open seas, there is always a bigger fish capable of eating other smaller fishes. It’s an uncomfortable truth but that’s how life is going on in the seas.

In one occasion, we have chanced upon a group of either Japanese or Korean nationals doing a documentary of something. There’s our friend Ryan on the left trying to have a conversation with one of the camera person on the right.

That begs a question; did Ryan initially say Ohayo gozaimasu or Anneyonghaseyo? I’ll have to ask him about it.

I’m not a fan of octopus but at one point in time, I bought one or two just to try it out.

My culinary skills haven’t evolved to chef level yet and I don’t know if it will ever be, but I have a never-ending fascination to learn from observing other people's work. These octopi are rather getting a good boiling from Raffy. Raffy is another IT manager in the company that I’m working with and one of the things that we have in common is an unwavering interest in cooking.

These green-looking bags are an interesting sight to see in Koki and are usually placed at the entrance of the market. They contain big clams in them and are sold for K10 to K15 each bag at the time of this writing.

If you like to try and increase the amount of iodine in your body naturally, try cooking out these clams.  It’s a known source of iron and iodine, which is good for our thyroid health. Every once in a while, it is available at Koki Fish Market. Clams are known to ingest dirt in them so it is best to have them submerged in the water first for a whole day.

Crabs are also found in both Port Moresby and in Daru Island but the latter has more of it. These decapod crusaceans in Papua New Guinea are capable of reaching to the size of a regular table plate. They can grow that much that even four people can share a piece among themselves.  I took this in Daru Island when I went there sometime around September this year.

Here’s me way back in 2011 holding a really big crab sent to me by my cousin Marlon from Daru Island. Three of us had shared this crab on that day. You can see that the pincers are almost as big as my hands.

And here are the crabs that I brought from Daru last September, 2017. I gave them away to my co-managers as pasalubong. I don’t fully understand the whole meaning of that word but it probably has something to do with an old phrase, “Share your blessings.”

Tropical fishes raised in captivity for commercial purposes are also abundant in Papua New Guinea. Here’s me frying Tilapia with my hand fully enclosed in a custom-built boiling oil deflector shield.

You see, no matter how difficult life gets, there is always a clear indication that God’s grace is working in silence. All that one needs to do is act on it. The fishes are all swimming freely somewhere out there and one just needs to try and catch them.

Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Holiday Rest in The Philippines

After three years of working straight from Papua New Guinea, I finally found the time to rest in the heart of my hometown. But the word “rest” was kind of a misnomer, because I didn’t spend much of the time resting on a bed. I was instead, constantly on the move, trying to cover as much land that I had kind of missed going into.

This house that is currently under construction belongs to my cousin kuya Jun. He is also working in Papua New Guinea and has been an OFW for over 8 years. I went to visit this house to see how things are going so far and to check if the proportions are in the right places. You see, my cousin is 6’2” and for him, having a house with a low ceiling is kind of disheartening. So for him to have some close-to-reality kind of measurement, I had to go there and actually measured the distance between the floor and the ceiling using my height as the primeval tool of choice.

I’m kind of a tall-person myself, but not as tall as kuya Jun. But I guess that my findings will be equally indispensable.

This photo is next to the front view of his house, and from where I was taking this photo is exactly where I was playing when I was just 6 years old. When I was at that age, I would collect as much fallen leaves that you could see here and used them to build a small makeshift house where I could sit the whole time daydreaming.

Here’s a panoramic view of an open field next to our old house. Our house is no longer there and an aunt had used the lot for their house instead.  During our childhood, me and my friends would spend the entire day playing around this area until my father would call us over with his unique whistling ability. Such whistling comes with an unquestionable authority and the only tolerable response is an absolute obedience. 

Those are the days when parents are allowed to scare their kids off with sticks. 

On the left is my cousin Embong, whose parents have taken the responsibility of adopting me. In the middle is Robert, my classmate in College and who I considered to be my best friend. And that is me on the right. We usually spend most of the nights sitting under this kubo (hut) discussing the complexities of life and the intricacies of relationships in general.

Embong was kind enough to let me use their motorcycle (the white one) while I was there. The black one on the left side belongs to Robert. Robert and I have many similarities in life and among the things we share in common is the dislike to go out in daytime. So we usually go around at night, spending time in some lugawan (porridge houses).

Here’s a typical porridge house in Palayan City. That’s Robert over there. The way you buy things here is simple, you just look at the menu on the board and say your order aloud. It’s not considered rude unless one is already shouting on top of his lungs. The philosophical view behind is that saying your orders out loud cuts the waiter some slacks.

There is more time for the waiter to catch a quick nap.

On some nights, Robert and I would go over to kuya Jun’s computer shop. In other countries, this is called a gaming shop, or a net cafĂ©, or one can call it whatever one wants to call it as long as it can let you play games or browse through the internet. Several years ago, computer shops are the epitome of gaming events but such title has come to a decline when smart phones are introduced to the masses.

Nowadays, it’s very hard to keep those computers occupied even with an existing promotional discounts.

And here’s Ivan, my niece. He’s in charge of running this computer shop. That mammoth PC is his work of art. He had personally built it piece by piece with pieces that were hard to come by. While at work, he likes to play an online game with his friends and he would usually wear a headset with a mouthpiece so he could communicate with them. 

I kind of imagine him like the SCV character in the Starcraft game. 

This is Robert’s brother’s house and it’s a bit close to that computer shop. Sometimes, before we proceed to play in that shop, we would stay here in the afternoon. The house is not finished yet but by some standards, it’s already livable. 

In Palayan City, there is no McDonald’s or Jollibee yet. But people eating in barbecue houses is a thriving scene since the big bang theory. Here’s Robert and I trying out a sweet-pork meal. 

Are we excited to eat it? Please refer to Robert’s face for that.

This is the house where I grew up into. It belongs to Embong’s parents. These laptops are of Ivy’s, and she’s Embong’s sister. I think I was checking for viruses and was trying to make the mouse work on the Vaio. I’m not usually a fan of Vaio or Mac but I find them nice and sturdy. 

Ivy gave me a pair of new shoes which she bought from SM in Manila. It’s nice and light and I’m actually wearing it at the office every day. 

Thanks Ivy.

These are pork meat and fried chicken. One thing I like in tita Sunny’s (Embong’s mom) house is that there’s always something edible on the table to eat. Sometimes there’s not much, but most of the time, one can find something delicious over there.

Now, who wants to go with me over tita’s house?

One of the perks of staying in tita Sunny’s house is a free access to an enormous source of information from the cluster of encyclopedias sitting near the dining area.  They have the Britannica, the Britannica Junior and the New Standard Encyclopedia. They also have the Funk and Wagnalls version of Encyclopedia and a complete volume of How Things work. 

During those years that I lived with them, I could not count the times that I had read these books in my free time. 

Here’s another cousin, kuya Alvin, who came to visit us on All Saint’s Day. We spent some time reading some of the books together while we’re waiting for the rain to stop. For the record, he’s my smartest cousin around. Off the record, he’s the one who taught me how to smoke. But luckily, I already quit smoking in 1998 and has since ignored the occasional pleas to try.

While on vacation, problems would arise sometimes in the workplace in Papua New Guinea. This is the Bread Booking Entry module in CinchPro Payroll System that I created. I was told that they couldn’t make an entry to the module so I tried and connected to a computer in the workplace with Teamviewer. 

My iPad mini was a quintessential tool that I had to have by my side every time. 

These are the books that I like to read nowadays. I bought these from National Bookstore. The things that I am into now that I’m 40 years old, includes arming myself with the knowledge in financial literacy. This is the part where I think has the least of my attention when I was younger. But it’s been almost a year now since I started learning about saving and investing. In a future blog post, I will try to write and share some of my strategies with you.

Hopefully, I can impart some knowledge that can put someone on the right track. 

And these are the sweets that I thought I really missed so much. It’s called merengue in our place. These are actually icing that have cooled down to harden.  When I was in my high school days, I used to consume a lot of these. Nowadays, I don’t find these enticing to eat anymore. I only ate two and laid the rest on the table.

My vacation went well and although it was brief, I could truly say that it was a holiday well spent. Until next time.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Going Back To Philippines

It has long been planned out that I’d have my holiday leave on October, during which temperatures in the Philippines will go down a bit and the usual rain showers and storms will make brief passes over the archipelago.  And so it has come to pass that I had triumphantly returned to my homeland, with the prospect of re-visiting familiar places at hand.

This is I at the Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby while waiting for the crew of Philippine Airline to get the plane ready for us. People will usually wish you a “Happy trip” when embarking on a journey somewhere. Well, I prefer to fulfil such wishes at the soonest time possible. So here’s a smiling me for all my readers out there. I do feel happy that I’ve decided to finally take this holiday break after three years.

The flight to Philippines from Papua New Guinea takes about five hours to complete. Inside a PAL airplane, you can either sleep through it or spend those hours watching in-flight  movies on a small overhead LCD screens.  I believe I had been shifting constantly between sleeping and watching what was being played on the screen until the dry lands of the Philippines had come into view on the windowpane.

Ah, there’s no place like home indeed.

The food being served in the airplane is prepared with high nutritional value in mind. Those pretty flight stewardesses will usually offer two sets of food comprised of either pork stew or fish stew. After giving it some careful thinking, I have to admit that it is easier to choose pork over fish simply for the reason that the former is less complicated to eat than the latter.

I’ve arranged for someone to pick me up from the NAIA Terminal 2 Airport. One thing noteworthy of being mentioned here is that the person I have contacted for this vehicle through a friend, is a Barangay Captain of Pagas, Cabanatuan City, and he has assigned a Toyota Hiace Grandia Van to me. The van was really huge for the driver and me and there were more than enough legrooms at the back as I chose to sit at the front. The rent was fairly reasonable and it was a comfortable ride all the way through.

One of the peculiarities of Manila and its relative cities is the never-ending queues of vehicles in a bumper-to-bumper traffic. If there is something that I need to share about the experience, it would be to advice anyone to avoid going back home on Fridays if you didn’t want to get caught in a heavy traffic.

That’s all everyone. I hope to share more of my experience during my holiday vacation in the Philippines. Cheers!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Daru Island, My Arrival

One of the few things that I thought would not come to pass was the possibility of going to Daru Island. For starters, I always have the notion that life in Daru is particularly hard, having heard about the grievances in shortage of water supply or the intermittent power loss or the lack of mobile signal therein. Hence, I came up with a foregone conclusion that nothing on Earth could make me go to Daru.

 Well, almost.

On Monday, 7th of August, I booked for a flight to Daru via Air Nuigini. The company that I am currently working with has a branch in Daru Island that is being renovated and I was sent there to help. My directives were to install network cables, CCTV cameras and its public address sound system. Aside from those, I am also tasked to assist Harsya, an Indonesian national, and to make sure that the new POS Systems that our company has acquired from him should be up and running before the grand opening on the 21st of August.

The purple luggage is mine and is packed with a week’s supply of fresh clothing.

I had successfully checked in my baggage two hours earlier before the flight. I figured that if I had to endure the long wait before boarding time, I needed to, at least, eat something to keep my mouth busy during the whole waiting process. Luckily, there’s a small cafeteria near the boarding gates, which has an adequate variety of pastries to choose from. 

When embarking on a long journey, I made it a habit not to indulge myself in a heavy meal. Therefore, my ideal choice of food in the cafeteria at the time being has involved a combo of fruit slices and a chicken sandwich. On the left side is my boarding pass. The typical air fare to Daru from POM is around K500 to K700. I’m not sure though what kind of variable is at play here for the price shift but the frequent flyers might figure that out easily.

Turboprop planes are the main mode of air transportation to Daru.  During take offs, the plane may bank sideways to adjust directions. This can cause the plane to appear like it’s stalling. But one must not fear that moment because turboprop planes are highly efficient while flying slow and are less efficient when flying fast.

I always like to think that airplanes are safe.

Unlike jet planes, turboprop planes show little or no visible exhaust gases that produce the trust, and instead direct all of its exhaust gases to turn the propeller. The land mass below was of Port Moresby. Shortly after taking this view, the pilot has announced that we are in for a long flight. An hour and fifteen minutes later, we were on Daru Island.

For such a short flight, I wouldn’t expect the crew to be serving us any meals. But they did serve us with these nice treats. I finished them all in five minutes. The flight attendant seemed delighted.

Daru Airport was relatively small compared to Jackson Aiport at POM. But again, turboprop planes can operate on short runways.  And if the pilots were to try, they could land the plane on someone’s front lawn without a problem.

Just kidding.

The huge door in the building is the departure area and on the left side is the arrival area. The building doesn’t have a conveyor belt that brings your luggage to you as you wait but rather relies on the human workforce to stockpile your belongings on a large table where it is good enough for everyone to see.

When I arrived at the airport, this fellow was already patiently waiting for me. By the way, kuya Levi is in Daru at the time being and Sarigi (this guy) said that it was kuya Levi who arranged for him to pick me up at the airport. Thanks for the effort Sarigi.

Good job kuya Levi. Cheers!

They say that Daru Island is quite a small place. It only has a population of more than 13,000 probably. Wikipedia says it actually has an area of 14.7 km2, and it’s quite big for an island. You could fit in it around 1,400 soccer fields. 

Now that’s a lot of soccer fields!

This is the view from our branch in Daru. We are located on the beach side. The boats in the background seemed to have been stuck on the muddy shore, but it was actually low tide when I took this photo. Later that night, all of those boats are floating on the water.

Well, it turned out that life in Daru wasn't as hard as what I thought it was. Telikom PNG is operating in the Island so there is a telephone line except for its mobile services. Telikom ADSL internet is available through landline connection which suits those who'd like to stay longer. Digicel internet is available through mobile 3G and it's quite fast for the average internet users although most of the time the network is down.

Water supply comes from the rainwater collected into reservoirs which you can safely use for cooking and bathing. There are also deep wells that serve as a backup system in case there's hardly a rain. I didn't a have problem with water supply since the day I arrived. For drinking, it's most likely that you're offered to drink bottled water instead.

Electricity is also consistent, thus far. During my stay, I only experienced two power outage at least.

That’s all for today. Have a good Sunday everyone! :)

Friday, 4 August 2017

Intermittent Fasting

There are two things I like about Sunday in Papua New Guinea, the first being the day when there is almost no traffic on the roads and second, there’s a chance that you can be invited to a birthday party.

I like a traffic-less road and birthday parties!

As one might expect on a Sunday afternoon, the roads are indeed clear and the Sun is providing an excellent illumination that made this “selfie” of me really bright.  When driving around the streets of Papua New Guinea, it’s good to be observant. One of the things I find peculiar here is that there are lots of roundabouts in place of traffic lights. Runabouts are an economical alternative to traffic lights in that they don’t require an electricity to work and they instill discipline on the drivers.  

I’m following a strict diet these days and it involves an intermittent fasting. The definition of intermittent fasting is different on each of us and for me, it’s just skipping breakfast and eating a small amount of food during lunch, and going on a binge at night. The success of which depends on the nutritional values of the foods you eat.  For example, I eat nothing in breakfast and then I take a boiled egg, an apple and an orange for lunch. To make sure that I don’t get malnourished, I eat whatever I can eat at night.  Then the cycle continues throughout the next day. From 89 Kilos, I am now down to 83 Kilos in just 2 months.

Although I find it to be physically tormenting, I intend to keep this habit for, maybe, a year more.

Here’s me and Ryan during a night out at Duffy Harbor Side. Ryan used to have less body fats the first time he arrived in PNG. But eventually, sedentary lifestyle has caught up and made him grow cuter but bigger.

“Fat is wealth! Ho-ho-ho!” He used to joke around when someone says he’s not getting any thinner.

During Sundays, however, all of my dieting routines are suspended lest I’ll get tired of it. Sundays are more like of a reward day for going through a 6-day course of intermittent fasting. In one of those “reward days”, I cooked up a full American breakfast for me and some friends.

That’s all for today. Happy dieting everyone! 

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