Monday, 25 December 2017

Season’s Greetings

This year was a bit tough but I made it through somehow. My hands were always full in the office and in the house as well. In the house, I’m doing some artworks right here and there, reviewing things about math particularly Algebra which is very useful in computer programming, studying more about C#.Net and T-SQL, brushing up on my piano skill and doing some gardening.

You see, I hardly have any time left for computer games and for watching movies. But I still do when I’m really free.

I found this edible Ginger Bread house at the Meat Haus in Waigani area. I’m not particularly picky about cake designs, but I like something that is cute. I am also of the persuasion that anything, which possesses extreme awesomeness, deserves some kind of positive reaction.

For this Ginger Bread House, I give it a two-thumbs up. 

In Mity Meat Haus, one can find a plethora of longanisa of various origins. My favorite is the Spanish Longanisa.  All of which are actually good, but the word “Spanish” has a familiar ring to it. Our ancestors in the Philippines have once been under the rule of Spain, and despite having been in the hands of American and later, the Japanese occupation,  the influences brought about by the Spaniards didn’t immediately vanish but were still carried on up to this generation. This includes our fondness for eating longanisa or the Spanish Sausage.

It’s for this reason also that we have words in Filipino vocabulary like silya, bintana, kutsara, diyaryo, telebisyon; all of which are Spanish origin.

In some household, Christmas is celebrated with a good ham on the table. I’m not usually a fan of eating ham but if one is looking for a nice ham for this holiday season, you can find a good lots of them in Mity Meat Haus. 

Last week, I bought a couple of gardening tools from Brian Bell. I don’t usually buy things unless they are of great importance but I think these are great tools.

Second only to Gold and Metal detectors.

Here are some of the plants that I take care in the accommodation. When I was younger, we used to do a lot of flowery plants planting. Aside from its purely aesthetic purpose, it’s a good way to make yourself appear useful in those days. 

I also planted cherry tomatoes in the pots. This variety of tomato does not grow well without having some kind of a framework to grow onto, so I stopped planting them after the harvest.

I also have saluyot plants and kamote plants. I like to grow them for their leaves which I cook every once in a while.

I also have a chilli plant. For all of the plants, I am using a compound fertilizer, which contains 12% nitrogen, 12% phosphorus and 17% potash. They grow really fast and healthy in this plant food.

I’m pretty flat out since I came back from holiday and didn’t realize that my hair had grown longer.

Here's the notebook that I use when I'm brushing up on my math comprehension. I have pages full of these indistinct scribbling. 

I like to read about financial literacy books nowadays. It gives me some kind of financial guidance that regular schools would not normally teach us. After all the time I spent reading, I have come to realize that to unlock the key to financial success, one must go devotedly through the following in the exact order:

1. Pay all your debts.
2. Establish an emergency fund from a five-month three-month worth of your monthly salary.
3. Establish a savings fund aside from emergency fund.
4. Invest your saved money wisely.

At the end of the day, what we do today does apply a certain effect to our respective future. If one is working hard today, it is said to be in preparation for tomorrow. But eventually, some of us will not live to see that day. So do things wisely and enjoyably. 

Happy Holidays!

Friday, 22 December 2017

First Attempt To Breed Swordtails

There is an old saying that goes something like, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” To an aquarium hobbyist, a more suitable quote befitting of such person like myself should be, “Buy yourself a fish and you have a fish to take care of. Learn to breed fishes and you’ll have a fish to sell later on.”

I kid.

I have a pair of tropical fish called, Swordtail Fish, which I bought from the PNG Gardener, here in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. They are livebearers, which means the female swordtail can bear little fishes in its tummy as opposed to other fishes that spread eggs near the surface of water.

To breed this kind of fish is easy; one must only need a big plastic bin or an aquarium the size of 42 Liters or more.  I chose a bin that is slightly translucent so I can check on them from time to time.  In this bin, I placed a male and two female swordtails. You can see that I put in some rocks and plastic plants so there will be plenty of room for the baby swords to hide after the mother sword gives birth to them.

I also cut an opening at the center of the bin’s lid and had it covered with glass. If I want to feed the fishes, I just slide the glass open. A 3-Watt fluorescent bulb is enough to illuminate the bin. 

I used a 3.5-Watt Eheim Pick Up 45 submersible aquarium filter for keeping the water clean and to maintain a considerable amount of good bacteria that holds the ammonia levels in check.  Ammonia build-up is caused by the accumulation of fish poop and from uneaten fish food.  

These are the pair of swordtails in the bin. The fish in the foreground is the female and the one at the back is the male. It is easy to distinguish a male from a female swordfish because the male always has a sword-like tail fin.

This is a male swordtail. The sword-like tail fin is slightly visible. Keep the bottom of the plastic bin gravel-free so it’s easier to remove fish poops that get accumulated at the bottom. Swordtails are a notorious poop-machine aquarium fish and they pollute the aquarium twice as fast as an egg-laying fish. That’s why I like the egg-laying fish more.

An example of egg-laying fish is the Gourami. 

This is one of the Gouramis in my other aquarium. A Gourami of this kind always have two dots in its body. But its eyes are also as big as the dots so it’s easy to confuse the eyes with the dots, hence it’s also called, the Three Spot Gourami.

I also have a pair of rainbow fish, which are also an egg-laying type of aquarium fish. This fish is native to Papua New Guinea. 

I also have three pieces of the Sogeri Koi. These are also egg-layers.

Now, going back to our topic, it might take a few days or weeks before the pair of Swordtails can get along with each other.  Nevertheless, in just two or three months, you’re going to start seeing little baby swords darting through the plastic plants. You’ll need to scoop them out and separate them from the parents. 

I have a 1-Liter plastic bin that I modified to serve as the nursery for the babies as they grow to juveniles.  The parent swords will eat the babies if they get a chance so it is best to separate the latter from the former.

Finally, here is a baby sword swimming peacefully in the nursery. The other baby swords are hiding in the substrate and behind the plastic plant. I encircled the part of the photo where the baby sword is swimming. 

Baby swordtails are not orange during infancy. They only get the peculiar orange colors when they grow a bit bigger. To keep the waters clean and liveable in the nursery, I used a sponge filter that I made by myself. 

While breeding swordtails is a bit easy, breeding egg-laying fishes is quite challenging. I’ve tried on many occasions to breed them but I haven’t had any luck thus far.  

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Managers’ Party at Sunset Village Resort

In what appeared as a rather unforeseen decision made by the higher-ups, one by one we were informed of our new venue for the managers’ party this year.  Sunset Village Resort in Lea Lea was the selected venue and for those who had not been in Lea Lea Beach before, the announcement did not fall short of expectations, but it quite invoked a few curious reactions from the old-timers.

A typical hypothetical reaction was, “Is it true? But it took us forever to go there the last time.”

Okay, that wasn’t purely hypothetical. I actually raised that question. Cheers! Anyway, if you guys will just browse backwards throughout my posts, you will see that I had an entry about Lea Lea Beach that I entitled “My Unforgettable Trip To Lea Lea Beach” in 2014. While the part of my brain responsible for recycling neurons has already purged a plethora of memoirs from that trip, it retained some vague recollections of a few things worthy of remembering. Back then, I remember that because of rough roads and potholes, we had to slow down every once in a while. It is for that reason that our trip had taken more than an hour to complete. It was a bit exhausting, but it wasn’t an off-putting experience though.

In 2017 however, things have changed dramatically. Any old timer who may want to revisit the place can get a surprise of how remarkably the roads have gotten better in time. So without further ado, let’s have a look at what we have seen in our trip which all happened just last Sunday.

Like all excursions in general, they are not as exciting as without the complementary foods to accompany them. Here’s ate Des, James and nanay Ada all in one place. James has now learned the art of making pansit from the good ol’ guidance of nanay Ada.

Ate Des was assigned a task to come up with crispy pata. Within those boiling oil are a bunch of crispy pata slowly crisping their way to crispiness. She’s been cooking this food ever since I arrived in 2011 and I think everyone knows that’s her specialty now. I wonder how she would respond to the situation if someone would actually call her Pata Queen?

I hereby warn you that thou shall think twice. 

The first group of managers, who are off-duty that day, have gone to Sunset Village two hours ahead of us. The rest of us had to wait for our duties to end yet before we could go as well. In this photo, I just sat in the car and waited patiently for the other managers to emerge from the shop’s gate. 

My ride for that day is an earlier model of Honda CRV, but has an automatic transmission. In Papua New Guinea, all of the vehicles are set to right-hand drive, so the driver is seated on the right side, which is the total opposite of what I’ve gotten used to in the Philippines. If one is keen on asking, I started driving in the Philippines at around the age of 15 and got my first Driver’s License at 18. 

Learning how to handle a right-hand drive car isn’t a rocket science. A seasoned driver can get the hang of it in just a few tries. 

The initial waypoint going to Lea Lea can be anywhere, but the easiest to remember is from the area around Stop and Shop Harbour Side. From that shop, just drive on the road going up to Boroko where just halfway to the climb, you can turn left. You’ll end up going to this area that has a sign board pointing to Napanapa road if you go straight and Tokarara Waigani if you turn right. 

Go straight to Napanapa Road. 

The roads going to Lea Lea Beach have received a significant amount of improvement since the last time we took a visit. My estimate is that 70% of the roads are now upgraded to cement, 29% to asphalt and only 1% of which still needs an enhancement.

I’m pretty conservative with my estimates but those are pretty commendable improvements that happened in just a year or two.

Here’s our convoy of three cars. I always like to be driving at the end of the convoy because that way, I won’t have to carry the pressure of setting up the pace. The underdeveloped 1% part of the road that I’ve mentioned earlier is this. With the current progress in the road development, I guess we will no longer encounter this on our next visit. 

This photo will soon be a relic of the past that photo-collectors will be searching after. 

More than halfway through the trip, you’ll come across the LNG Project properties on the left side of the road. It’s a huge property and they actually have several gates that they simply name Gate 1, Gate 2 and so on. You’re only a few minutes away to Sunset Village once you went past these gates.

After the LNG Properties, you’ll come across a village with stilt houses that are elevated a few feet off the ground. One of the peculiarities in Papua New Guinea is this type of house, of which design derives its concept from the idea of keeping seawater from flooding the house during high tide. The open space below the house often serves as a shade to a shiny car or a perfect place to spend a hot afternoon.

Finally, here’s the Sunset Village Resort. We arrived here after an approximately 45 minutes to an hour of relaxed driving. 

Here’s the iconic footbridge in Sunset Village Resort that everyone has come to know and recognized. At the end of which are newly added poles that will support a roofed structure in the future.

I can’t help but to feel a bit nostalgic.

And here are the same mangrove trees that I have taken a photo of back in 2014. There isn’t much of a noticeable change but they seem to have grown bigger than the last time.

The first group who arrived earlier have already chosen a nice spot for us and they’ve begun grilling foods for all of us. Thanks guys.

The eggs are purposely bought for one person alone, Jagajit, a guy from Nepal who adhered strictly to a vegetarian diet. He only eats egg meat and will run away from you if you mention pork meat to him. 


There was a copious amount of lamb meat getting a good grilling. Judging from the ratio of lamb meat versus the other foods present in the party, I think it best to call this party a Lamb Party instead. 

I’m not of a lamb meat person. Not all person will come to like lamb meat, but not all will also come to like chicken. But thankfully, they also prepared chicken meat, sausages and a special beef called Wagyu Beef.

The Wagyu Beef that we had for party came from  Australia, and my boss’ husband brought it from there. She said it was a Ranger’s Valley wagyu and it was a premium stuff. It has had its place in the Top 10 Beef in the world.  I only knew this when I asked her later that night where to buy that excellent beef only to be told nicely that we could not get here in Papua New Guinea.

Too bad I didn’t have a picture of it though.

Here are the other managers having a small chat while consuming their part of the loot. One thing that I notice in all of our company parties is that people of the senior age, whose habits in life are similar to one another, tend to cluster in together, forming a yet another sub-group that sets them apart from the rest.

Sometimes, this social phenomenon does escalate to the point where it progresses to talking about other people’s lives, of which I am not a fan.

Here’s Harold, Cristina and me. I am not a hat person but I forgot to buy a sunblock beforehand so I bought this hat of Japanese origin instead. 

After eating our foods, I decided to walk around to loosen up a bit. Here’s an old boat that was intentionally capsized. My guess is that it was put down that way so it won’t float away in high tide.  

Here’s all of us. We took this photo just before we started our beach games.

Here’s me again. It’s frantically irresistible to take a photo of yourself in a relaxing place like this. 

Frantically irresistible? I always love to exaggerate. 

We played a couple of games under the sweltering heat of the sun. Here’s a limbo game with both gender getting involved. The rule of the game is simple; all of the participants must go under the cloth held by two people with their backs facing toward the ground. A player is eliminated if he/she touches the cloth or falls down. The challenging part is that the players must bend backwards when making a pass underneath.

This is one of those heterosexual games in which anyone who does not have a calcium-deprived bone structure is allowed to join.

I'm not sure if it's okay for the bosses to have their photos publicly shared in my post so I blurred their faces instead. Better to err on the side of caution. The man in the middle is Mark Anthony, our new bakery manager. He just arrived only recently. Surprisingly, he won the Limbo Rock game, beating all the odds.

Some men have more flexible body than women and this winner is a living proof to it. 

Here’s a game of throwing sacks that are partially filled with sand. The idea is to find out who among the guys have the strongest throwing power. The person who can throw the sack to the farthest distance is the winner. The person in a blue hat, who appeared to be swinging the sack, is our boss. The sack he threw up the air actually landed the farthest but that was not counted since he’s the boss.

Just like in video games, a boss in real life can also be the strongest.

The next person who threw the sack the farthest is Raffy. He was awarded a pseudo certificate of “The Strongest Male Manager” award. I also joined in the game but I lost happily. 

The women were also invited to play the game. That woman who threw the sack on the air was Alice. Each of the sacks weighs 5 Kilos. With remarkable results, the women could also throw them at a reasonable distance. 

I guess that all the years of carrying a lady-shoulder bag full of beauty kits have paid off.

Ate Des won in the “Strongest Female Manager” category. In a test of strength between two female, does having bigger arm over the other competitor offers an advantage to the bearer?

I think so.

After the games, we were all allowed to walkabout the place. We ended up watching this band playing music together to entertain the people.  The person wearing a pink shirt is happily dancing to the tune of the music, totally oblivious to our presence. 

At the end of the band’s set, we asked them if we could use their musical instruments. They asked us if we’re a band too, to which we politely said “no” because we’re not really a band. Harold, who is holding a guitar at the left, used to play guitars occasionally in college.  The girl seated behind the drums is Cristina and she’s had the experience playing in a band. The person in the white shirt is quite good in singing and has a nice voice. His name is Ryan and he had actually joined in a singing contest on the TV Show called Tawag Ng Tanghalan. The guy with an orange band on his shirt is Jay-ar and he’s our bakery manager. 

And that’s me on the right, wearing a Japanese hat and shades. I picked up the bass guitar because I just liked it.

Here’s a clip of what we’ve played on the stage. We have not played a single song together before that and because this is just for fun, we expected less from each other. We played two songs actually. When we played the first song Ang Huling El Bimbo, the intro was good but chaos ensued afterwards.

In the next song that we played, I used the keyboard. The title of the song is Next in Line and it seemed to go well somehow. Cheers!

That’s all for this week. Advance Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Inherent Musical Affinity

Back in the old days, in the early 2000's, I developed an affinity for learning a musical instrument. My kind of thing before was guitar and although guys of my age are finding it easy to learn, I did not excel well with it. Perhaps it's because I didn't try hard enough. But being an ordinary guitarist as I was, a few talented guys still believed in me and got me playing with them in their band. That was the highlight in my musical career as a guitarist, which lasted only for a few months.

When the keyboardist we were playing with had opted out, I volunteered to fill in for the position. A helpful friend named Ray Adora helped us buy a second-hand keyboard from his own pocket and  donated it to our group. Again, this was an another turning point in my musical career. I like calling it "musical career" because it sounds like I was doing something important.

Anyway, I did not know a thing about playing a piano and all I had was the desire to learn it. Little did I know that with perseverance and so many sleepless nights of practicing, I did learn how to play it. I played as a keyboardist for our band up to a few more fruitful years. But that was back then and was a thing of the past. Today, I still try and play some music when I'm in the mood to play. It's a good way to relieve stress and promotes calmness.

Here's me playing a short music last night with my Yamaha Keyboard I bought from Key Note Music Shop at Brian Bell.

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 a continuous event 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 are being equally provided to us all 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 with a really big crab that was 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!

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