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Friday, 17 April 2009


Since I have been living abroad for almost seven years now, there are things in the Philippines that I really miss and wish that we have here in the Middle East.

1. Fishballs, squid balls, kikiam
Before going home, I always make it a point to drop by my suking fishball vendor near the tricycle station in our subdivision. "Manong" (how we Filipinos call our elderly men) seems to have the tastiest sauce that goes along with the crispy fishballs, squid balls and kikiam, not to mention ththe sago't gulaman that will quench your thirst after a hefty snack.

2. Zagu Pearlshakes
This is really worth missing because of the intense heat here in the Middle East. Yes, there are smoothies here and there, but nothing beats the taste of Zagu pearlshakes. Ooh, I can just imagine the taste of those pearls. Very refreshing indeed.

3. Isaw and Balat
Isaw is the Tagalog term for chicken intestine. Balat is skin in English, and in the Philippines, balat is the term for pork skin when it comes to street food. Both the isaw and balat will be boiled first with special ingredients then it's ready for barbecue. After it has been barbecued, it will then be dipped into two different sauces depending on what you like. First is the vinegar with lots and lots of onions and chili. The other one is a thick sauce, which, I believe, is made from soy sauce, catsup, chili, sugar and salt.

4. Siomai
Although not a native Filipino food, i definitely miss this one because of the unique taste that siomais in the Philippines have. Aside from the traditional siomai, there is also the Japanese siomai, which is better than the tradiotional one.

5. Lots'a Pizza
Pizza definitely is all over here in the UAE, but Lots'a Pizza is a standout among all of these pizzas, be it Dominos, Little Caesar's or even Pizza Hut. It's not too sweet and it's not too sour. The crust is just perfect. The amount of cheese is just right. In short, it's fantastic.

6. Mini Stop
A 24-hour convenient store that has almost everything that you are looking for even in the late hours of the night. In addition, they also have a snack bar where you can eat to your satisfaction, be it you're craving for something heavy such as a full meal or even a light snack.

7. Flee Markets
Flee markets are almost everywhere in the Philippines. With these markets, the prices are way much much cheaper than those in the regular malls. Also, there are many things that you can buy here. From food to clothes, to accessories, to electronics. Name it, they have it. Just be a little more patient when it comes to bargaining because I know that they will give in in the end.

8. Ukay-ukay
Surplus or ukay-ukay shops have bloomed in the Philippines like mushrooms. This is the place where tens and thousands of used clothes, shoes, bags, etc., are on sale in give-away prices. Just imagine purchasing an Esprit top for only P100 or $2.50! Isn't that a bargain. However, you must be very patient because it will consume most of your time searching and literally digging into huge piles of clothing.

9. Taho
This drink is made from soy beans with tapioca pearls (sago) and sugar syrup. Every morning, this used to be my breakfast. It also evolved into diferent flavors such as pandan and ube. For me, the original is still the best.

10. Christmas in the Philippines
The Philippines seems to have the longest Christmas celebration in the world. The celebration starts during the month of September where we Filipinos usually have this Christmas countdown. Then comes Misa de Galio or the Christmas eve mass which starts on the 16th of December and ends on the 24th. There is a belief that if you are able to complete the whole nine days of Misa de Galio, which, by the way, is conducted at 4:00 a.m., your wish will come true. Then comes the Noche Buena on the 24th of December, then Christmas day on the 25th for gift giving, then Media Noche on the 31st of December, followed by the New Year on 01 January and ends with the Feast of the Three Kings.

With all of what I have mentioned above, there's really no place like home.


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