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Taho

| filipino, philippines

From Sunday:

When I was growing up, we often had taho for breakfast. Manila had many magtataho who roamed the streets each morning, with two aluminum buckets hanging in balance from a pole. One bucket had tofu, and the other had compartments for tapioca pearls and sugar syrup. Yaya would have glasses filled and brought upstairs, where they would wait under crocheted glass-covers for us. Sometimes I lucked out and had two glasses of taho, like when I knew other people had finished breakfast already. Sometimes we had taho for afternoon snacks, too. It was fun watching the vendors work: swiftly scooping the tofu into a glass, spooning tapioca pearls in, swirling the syrup and mixing everything together.

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There are no taho vendors in this part of Toronto – or perhaps anywhere in Canada. But we can get silken tofu and tapioca pearls at the Lawrence Supermarket on Black Creek Drive. After five years of only having taho on my trips home, I found a recipe on the Internet and made taho for the first time. It’s simple: a syrup of brown sugar and water, tapioca pearls, and warm silken tofu.

It tasted like the quiet mornings of childhood.

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Filipiniana

Posted: - Modified: | clothing, filipino, philippines

The dress arrived last week. It’s a simple ivory sheath of piña (pineapple fiber), with a lightly-beaded and embroidered panuelo (wrap). Although I’d never met the seamstress who made it, the dress fit like a charm, thanks to the measurements I’d sent.

I had been planning to wear a dress a family friend had given me before, but my mom wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted to be involved in planning the wedding, so she volunteered to take care of the dress. It would be her gift, she said. I accepted, asking her to make sure it was simple, classic, and something I could wear again. This dress fits the bill perfectly. It would do just fine at a wedding and at a formal get-together or cultural celebration.

In addition to this knee-length dress, she has also commissioned a Maria Clara, in case a long dress proves a better fit. My concession to the pageantry of weddings is to reach back in time and connect with my roots. I asked her to make sure the designer didn’t get carried away with modernizing the outfit. Traditional. Classic. A dress I can be buried in, I said.

I was half-tempted to suggest an Ifugao outfit – our family has many memories of Banaue – but it seemed easier to find a seamstress to work on a beautiful Tagalog outfit than to (a) pick the right tribe, and (b) find an outfit that doesn’t scream “tourist souvenir”. Maria Claras and nice panuelos are non-mainstream enough to require a seamstress, but there’s plenty of wedding inspiration. The rich weaves and beading of the mountain tribes are more niche. And there’d be no question of W- matching my outfit – a g-string? in Canada? in October? At least W- has a barong, which he may or may not choose to wear.

Actually, the wraparound skirts and colourful belts of some of the tribes can work really well here, too. I’ll need to find a way to pick up some of those when I next visit, as SM Kultura doesn’t stock a lot of those. =) We don’t have nearly enough variety in those department stores. I was looking all over for a payneta, and I think I only found it in Baguio…

I love wearing Filipiniana, from the malongs I wear in summers to the colourful Ifugao belt I once repurposed as earwarmers in winter. I’d like to wear more of it, like the way I see men and women in ethnic outfits even at work. That might mean learning how to sew my own everyday versions, because the only baro’t saya I’ve seen in Philippine department stores are embellished with metallic threads or beads. The baro’t saya is close enough to regular wear for me to avoid having tons of conversations with strangers about whether I’m heading off to perform somewhere.

Yay culture. =)

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Filipino diaspora blog

| filipino

Kudos to Juan Gonzalez for telling me about
Insurgelicious, a
thought-provoking blog that often discusses the Filipino diaspora. I
should check it out during the holiday break.

On Technorati:

Random Emacs symbol: cons-cells-consed – Variable: Number of cons cells that have been consed so far.

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Bayan Ko

Posted: - Modified: | filipino, philippines

The song “Bayan Ko” never fails to move me, and it is to this song and
other traditional songs that I turn to whenever I feel homesick. I
wish I knew the first stanza better, and I wish I could sing well
enough to help even my non-Tagalog-speaking friends appreciate the
beauty of the song.

Lyrics by Jose Corazon de Jesus, melody by Constancio de Guzman

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto’t bulaklak
Pag-ibig ang sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda’t dilag.
At sa kanyang yumi at ganda
Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko, binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa.

>

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag
Ang di magnasang makaalpas!
Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha ko’t dalita
Aking adhika,
Makita kang sakdal laya!

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Documentary on Filipino teachers

| filipino, philippines

Via School Librarian in Action (eruannie): Tals Diaz will make a documentary on Filipino teachers going to the US to work and teach. More info

I watched a documentary about the difficulties domestic helpers face
when they reunite with their families after years apart. “When
Strangers Meet” – it’s available at the Canadian Film Board.

I want to watch a documentary on techie migration, too. I’d love to
help make that happen.

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Batik and ethnic clothes

| clothing, filipino, philippines

Wearing a batik malong

I love wearing ethnic clothes. Traditional outfits are hip enough to
pass off as casual but dignified enough to go formal, possible with a
little creative re-pinning. I love wearing batik-dyed or embroidered
malongs, the simple tubular skirts that can be turned into dresses and
sashes and sleeping bags depending on need. I love wearing my
butterfly-sleeved terno and wish I had one that looked less formal.
The gold-threaded cream blouse makes it too dressy, but I wear it
anyway!

Of all the costumes I wear—from hacked computer T-shirts to flowing
skirts to jeans and a tee—I like the traditional ones the most.

Thanks, Mom, for sending me two more malongs and a few black tops!
Thanks to Pavel and Emily for bringing them from the Philippines!
I want more outfits…

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How to wear a malong

| filipino

Someone came upon my webpages while looking for ways to wear a malong,
one of the traditional Filipino costumes. It’s really simple – just a
tube of cloth – but incredibly versatile. Although a number of
creative ways to use a malong are featured in a traditional dance
called (unsurprisingly) the malong-malong, I haven’t been able to find
a good Web reference that gives step-by-step instructions on how to
wear a malong. I may just build a malong site this summer, after
sewing that pretty blue/green batik cloth into a spring/summer malong.

Here are a number of ways to wear a malong as a full-length skirt. The
easiest way to wear a malong around your waist would be to flatten the
tube and wrap it around your waist, tucking it in at the end. My
malong is ankle-length when worn like that, which probably goes to
show that I’m exactly the typical Filipino’s height.

Alternatively, you can step into the tube and fold the malong inwards
until it’s the height you want. Then:

  • draw it to one side and wrap that one around tightly, tucking in
    the other end with or without pleating. To pleat, you wrap part of
    it tightly and then fold the excess back and forth with a little
    bit of overlap (like making a paper fan, except with less
    overlap), then tucking this bulky part into the tight inner part.

OR

  • stand in the middle and use your elbows to keep the front side of the malong
    close to your waist while you tie the excess ends into a knot (or a
    double knot), or

OR

  • draw it forward and backward, then use your elbows to keep the
    inside part of the malong close to your body as you fold the excess
    ends to one side and tie a knot

Or you can make something up. =)

I tend to like pleating over a tight wrap because pleating gives you
some freedom of movement. If I knot the malong, I prefer to knot it at
the side so that it has more of a shape, although middle-knotted
malongs go nicely with certain tops.

I should post pictures sometime – maybe three weeks from now, when things quiet down a bit (end of term cramming)…

I’ve also figured out how to wear it as a dress that reminds people of
India or togas. It’s interestingly cultural and gets a lot of comments
(although I’m not sure how many of those are being politically
sensitive) although it’s probably not kosher (safety pins?!). For that
one, you step into the tube and pin it under one arm, then take the
excess and drape it over the opposite shoulder, pinning it to the
front side and adding a large brooch.

I also experimented with using garters to hold up a tube dress (wrap
the tube around you, fold it in front, fold a little bit back, tuck
the excess under that fold, fold the top part in a bit to secure, then
clip on the garters like dress straps). White garters with metal
fasteners looked incongruous. Black or beaded garters with black
fasteners might do the trick.

And yes, I know, I should just post pictures so that you know what I’m
talking about, but I’m technically not supposed to be up this late
documenting part of my cultural heritage… =)

Besides, isn’t it just _so_ cool that malongs are one of the
acceptable skirt-like garments that guys can wear? ;)

More malong tips would be very much appreciated. If my blue/green
malong goes well, I’ll probably shift more of my wardrobe to malongs.
(I can’t sew a balintawak or a Maria Clara!) People can chalk it up to
my being charmingly quirky/nationalistic/exotic/weird…

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