About Me

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Mabuhay! I'm an Asian American writer (Back Kicks And Broken Promises, Abbott Press, 2012), martial artist and teacher who was born in The Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and ended up in New Jersey.

23 May, 2013

Food Blogging

So, I've decided to create a new identity - Panlasa - and begin food blogging. Panlasa is Tagalog for 'taste' or 'flavour.' I'm not a professional restaurant critic and I'm not a trained cook (I was going to say 'trained chef' but that just sounded like I believe in my cooking talents a little too much) but, as someone who does like to cook and eat, I do have thoughts on food. And, what's a blog if not someone's thoughts expressed out loud, so to speak, and in a public forum.

For the little that it's worth, I'm not just another so-and-so with an opinion (As the saying goes, "Opinions are like a**holes. We all have one."). I've always been a foodie. In secondary school, during my first form, we had what was called Domestic Science. Here in the United States, it's called Home Ec. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as simple as it was, but it fully ignited my interest in cooking. The following couple of years, we had our first taste (haha!) at choosing electives. There were classes like Plastics, Woodworking, Metal Work, Sowing, Domestic Science. I recall choosing DS, as we nicknamed it. 

My interest in food, as far as cooking and being creative in the kitchen, probably comes down to one of my sisters, my mother and my father. During our childhood, my sister had all sorts of Mary Quant items and I believe one of them was some kind of paper dolls set and recipe/activity book. I was really young so my recollection of these things might be a bit clouded but, among those things, was some kind of recipe that had to do with corn flakes, melted chocolate/chocolate sauce and cupcake wrappers. The simplicity of melting the chocolate and mixing in the corn flakes and placing a dollop into each cupcake wrapper seemed, at the time, such an amazing thing. We had followed the recipe and created a quick and tasty treat.

My father, during a time when my mother, brother and sisters were in The Philippines and my father and I were in Hong Kong, was a wiz in the kitchen. Memories of him making simple instant noodles - what I grew up calling 'Poison Noodles' - with sliced fish and shrimp balls still brighten my thoughts. Sliced Chinese sausage with sticky winter rice, something he'd make on a Sunday after church,  trips to the noodle shops for beef cartilage with noodles, stops at the street vendors (the dai pai dong) for steamed cuttlefish and congee definitely informed my love for food, making it and the kinds of flavours that really wake up my palate. In fact, these memories I have of my father make me think of the opening scene from the movie "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" and that opening scene makes me think of my father and, whenever I see that scene, it makes me run to the market, buy up some meats and veggies and other things and conjure up something in the kitchen.

And, then, there's Ma. When we lived in Hong Kong, and even during the first couple of years after moving to the United States, we used to host a couple of parties a year. In Hong Kong, we usually had a Christmas Day event and a New Year's event, replete with roast turkey, glazed ham, macaroni salad, rice, you name it. The turkey, too, was filled with my mother's chestnut-bread stuffing. Back then, we'd have to but the chestnuts from the street vendors in Causeway Bay, in that area between The Excelsior Hotel and Daimaru. In preparation for the parties' feasts, I'd helped peel the chestnuts and mash them down for the stuffing. I'd help with the table settings, placing cloves on the ham, whatever was needed.

So, my love for food and cooking has some foundation.  And, you can read about what I've learnt and experimented with food, as well as try some of my favourite recipes in my new blog, called, Panlasa. I hope to see you there.

13 May, 2013

Favourite Sports Movies

I happened to come across "For Love of the Game" on TV yesterday and, of course, I got sidetracked watching it. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's kind of the closing chapter in the Kevin Costner trilogy of baseball movies; "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams" being the other two in the 'series.' (I refer to them as a trilogy because I'd read them referred to that way in another article, although I don't know if Mr. Costner planned on making them as such.)
I love "For Love of the Game and I'm not even a baseball fan. I love it because it portrays the story of Billy Chapel, an aging but talented pitcher on an underachieving team, pull off the perfect game against the New York Yankees. The fact that he wins against the Yankees - a team that, even though I'm not a baseball fan, I still manage to dislike - adds to my enjoyment of the movie. (Sorry Roger.) More than Chapel's achievement, however, I love the movie because at the time I first saw it, in my early thirties, it posed a question - a challenge, if you will - inside me. It asked me what great thing am I going to achieve and how am I going to be remembered when my glory days are over and/or long gone and I'm six feet under. Costner's character is forty when he pulls off the perfect game. I'm forty-four now so, watching it yesterday, the movie had a different kind of impact, a deeper and more pressing one, on me. Like I said, in my thirties, it made me ask "What am I going to achieve?" Today, it asks "What have I achieved?"
When I saw this movie as a younger man, combinations of emotions stirred inside me - at different parts of the film and as the credits rolled. Yesterday, I felt the same emotions although some of them in differing degrees than I did fourteen years ago. I laughed, I cringed, I cried. I could go into an entire blog about why I felt the emotions I did and how I feel about what they represent but, ultimately, as far as movies go, the fact that I felt the same emotions yesterday as I did when I first saw it - and every time in between - means that "For Love of the Game" is a fantastically good movie.
After composing myself, I started to think about other sports movies I've seen and what strong feelings they've aroused inside me that get stirred every time I watch them. There are a lot of sports movies - and classic ones, at that - I've yet to see. I've not seen "Brian's Song" from start to finish, I'm ashamed to admit but, from the ones I have seen, here's my top ten. They're listed in order with my favourite at number one, with the year they came out and the name of one of the main actors in parentheses.
1. Chariots of Fire (1981; Ben Cross)
2. Rocky V (1990; Sylvester Stallone)
3. For Love of the Game (1999; Kevin Costner)
4. The Karate Kid (1984; Ralph Macchio)
5. The Hustler (1961; Paul Newman)
6. Jericho Mile (1979; Peter Strauss)
7. Best of the Best (1989; Eric Roberts)
8. Victory (1981; Michael Caine)
9. Warrior (2011; Tom Hardy)
10.Draw - Rocky II (1979; Sylvester Stallone) and Running (1979; Michael Douglas)
What are your favourite sports movies?
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