Category: LIFESTYLE

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

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Decor on Sale at John Lewis, Iphoto by JMorton

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Here comes Santa, photo by JMorton
It is December!
It is officially Christmas Season.
Give Love of Christmas.
It is the time to send Christmas cards to nearest and dearest, including to those often forgotten and overlooked relatives and acquaintances. 🙂
It is time to set up the Christmas Tree.
It is time to buy presents and gift, know your budget.
It is time to party.
It is the to visit the relatives.
And most important of all it is the time to celebrate a most spiritual Birthday of all.
Happy Birthday to our Lord, Jesus!

Christmas Songs, World’s Favourite

Christmas Arch, Photo by PH Morton

Christmas Songs, World’s Favourite

Apparently, below is a list of world’s favourite Christmas songs, is your personal choice on the list below? 🙂

50 Best Christmas songs (according to PRS for Music) in full (position, artist, year, writer)

  1. Fairytale of New York, The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl, 1987 Jem Finer, Shane MacGowan
  2. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey 1994 Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff
  3. Do They Know It’s Christmas? Band Aid 1984, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure
  4. Last Christmas, Wham! 1984 George Michael
  5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town Harry Reser 1934 John Fredrick Coots, Haven Gillespie
  6. Do You Hear What I Hear? Bing Crosby 1962 Noel Regney, Gloria Shayne
  7. Happy Christmas (War Is Over), John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir 1971 John Lennon, Yoko Ono
  8. Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney 1979, Paul McCartney
  9. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, Wizzard 1973 Roy Wood
  10. Merry Xmas Everybody, Slade 1973, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea
  11. Merry Christmas Everyone, Shakin’ Stevens 1985, Bob Heatlie
  12. Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson, 1950, Leroy Anderson
  13. Stay Another Day, East 17, 1994 Tony Mortimer
  14. Driving Home For Christmas, Chris Rea, 1988, Chris Rea
  15. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee, 1958, Johnny Marks
  16. Step Into Christmas, Elton John, 1973 Elton John, Bernie Taupin
  17. 2000 Miles, The Pretenders, 1983 Chrissie Hynde
  18. I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter, Connie Francis / Gabriella Cilmi 1962 / 2008 Hank Hunter, Mark Barkan
  19. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love 1963 Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector
  20. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, Vaughn Monroe / Dean Martin / Smokey Robinson & The Miracles 1945 / 1959 / 1963 Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
  21. Stop The Calvary, Jona Lewie, 1980, Jona Lewie
  22. Frosty The Snowman, Gene Autry & The Cass Country Boys / Perry Como / Johnny Mathis / Kimberley Locke 1950 / 1957 / 2003 / 2007 Walter “Jack” Rollins, Steve Nelson
  23. White Christmas, Bing Crosby, 1942, Irving Berlin
  24. I Believe In Father Christmas, Greg Lake / Toyah Wilcox / Elaine Paige 1975 / 1982 / 1986 Greg Lake / Peter Sinfield
  25. Christmas Lights, Coldplay, 2010, Guy Berryman, Johnny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin
  26. Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), The Nat King Cole Trio, 1946 Mel Tormé, Bob Wells
  27. Thank God It’s Christmas, Queen, 1984 Brain May, Roger Taylor
  28. It’s The Most Wonderful Time of Year, Andy Williams 1963 Edward Pola, George Wyle
  29. Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt, 1953, Joahn Javits, Phillip Springer
  30. Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses, 1981, Chris Butler
  31. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Frank Sinatra, 1957, Ralph Blanew, Hugh Martin
  32. Please Come Home For Christmas, Charles Brown, The Eagles, Jon Bon Jovi 1961 / 1978 / 1995 Charles Brown, Gene Redd
  33. Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris de Burgh, 1976, Chris de Burgh
  34. A Winter’s Tale, David Essex, 1982, Mike Batt / Tim Rice
  35. Lonely This Christmas, MUD, 1974 Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman
  36. Cold December, Night Michael Bublé 2011 Michael Bublé, Alan Chang, Bob Rock
  37. Mistletoe And Wine, Cliff Richard, 1988, Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart, Keith Strachan
  38. Merry Christmas, Bryan Adams, 2011, Bryan Adams
  39. Christmas Time – Don’t Let The Bells End, The Darkness 2003 Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain, Ed Graham
  40. Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord, Boney M, 1978 Jester Hairston, Frank Farian, Fred Jay, Lorin
  41. Power Of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 1984 Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Mark O’Toole
  42. Blue Christmas, Elvis Presley, 1957, Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
  43. When A Child Is Born (Soleado) Johnny Mathis 1976 Ciro Dammiccom, Fred Jay
  44. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Gene Autry 1949 Johnny Marks
  45. Winter Wonderland, Perry Como, 1934, Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
  46. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Jimmy Boyd, 1952, Tommie Connor
  47. Mary’s Boy Child, Harry Belafonte, 1957, Jester Hairston
  48. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Perry Como & The Fontana Sisters 1951 Meredith Wilson
  49. The Little Drummer Boy, Harry Simeone Chorale 1958 Harry Simeone, K. K. Davis, Henry Onorati
  50. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Additional favourite (Mine):

Kissing Bow – Romantic Christmas


Kissing Bow – Romantic Christmas

Let’s make Christmas that extra more fun and I dare say romantic as well.  Forget mistletoe, let’s have a kissing bow.

Making one will bring out the artistic side in you.

Add anything you want like apples, grapes, garland of ivy, tinsels, etc.  You are only constraint by your imagination.  Hold these together with a wire coat hanger.

Blue Peter’s John Noakes with the Advent Crown

If you are familiar with Children BBC’s Blue Peter, then a kissing bow should be a doddle.

Making a kissing bow is pretty similar with building and creating the  Advent Crown.

Another thing to add to this kissing bow to highlight it are lights.  Thank goodness you can have a fire-proof battery operated Christmas lights now widely available in the market for a pound or two.

Sungka – Filipino Mancala Game

Sungka Board, photo by JMorton

Sungka – Filipino Mancala Game

I used to be obsessed with this board game when I was a little girl.

For whatever reason my mother used to discourage us playing sungka.  She was really adamant that we should not play it.  I think I heard her say that it was a game of the dead or something.  She made it sound like there was something sinister about it.

But I’ve  always  had a mind of my own, and the more I was told ‘NO’ the more I had to do it; it was like a red rag to a bull to me, a fascination of the forbidden. 🙂  I was a tad naughty!  LOL

Probably that was the reason I loved playing sungka.   I used to ask a neighbour, Lagring, who was a year or two younger than me to play sungka.   We did not bother with the wooden board; at my instigation we would just dig little holes similar to those in the wooden board on the ground under our mango tree.  We would then gather little stones and away we play for what seems like hours.  🙂

My mother always knew what I was up to as I would come home with dirty hands and even dirtier finger nails.  And of course those little holes which suddenly appeared all over our backyard!  🙂

In the end, knowing that I would not really listen, she just gave up on her embargo against sungka.  Funnily enough as soon as the ban was lifted I moved on to another obsession, Jack’s Stone!  🙂

By the way the photo above was taken at late president Ferdinand Marcos childhood residence in Batac, Ilocos Norte.  It seemed President Marcos used to play sungka as well.  🙂

Click here to see a quick tutorial.

I actually want one for Christmas, thank goodness they are easily available here.

Christmas’ Forgotten List

Christmas Decor
Photo by JMorton

The item that would really worry me that I forgot to buy for Christmas is the battery. I remember one Christmas when I bought all these beautiful remote controlled toys for my son.

On Christmas morning, he can’t play with them because of the missing batteries. I saw how bravely he was trying to hide his disappointment but it did break my heart.

Now I always ensure that we have batteries for Christmas.

The next item is the tin foil, the aluminium wrap, to cover the turkey. Stress….

Then running out of gravy granules, that is total disaster. I like my roast swimming in gravy.

Christmas’ Forgotten List

Below is the top 10 forgotten items.  Hope this will be a reminder to make Christmas painless and extra special.

Top 10 forgotten Christmas items:

1.    Batteries
2.    Sellotape
3.    Crackers
4.    Gift tags
5.    Cranberry sauce
6.    Wrapping paper
7.    Pigs in blankets
8.    Napkins
9.    Beer
10.  Gravy

Please let us know your forgotten item or items and we will add it to our list.

Agbayo (Life Size Mortar & Pestle)

Life size mortar and pestle, photo by JMorton

Agbayo (Life Size Mortar & Pestle)

The above photo was taken in Ferdinand Marcos’s Batac ancestral house.  It was used when he was obviously younger as the mortar shows sign of erosion or depreciation.

Having lived in a farming community when I was a young girl, this life-size mortar and pestle is a familiar sight.

It was used in many things that needed pulping like my favourite sweet rice dessert called nilupak or dehusking palay, especially when going to a rice mill is a bit of a hustle.

The term used by Ilocanos, people of Northern Luzon, is agbayo, which means to pound.

Rice comes from palay grains, and if you only wanted a chupa or a ganta of rice, most Ilocanos would probably use a pestle and mortar to pound the palay to dehusk and turn into rice which then ready to cook.

Pounding rice is sometimes more than just a chore.  It can be a way of bonding with friends and family.

I used to help my cousins when they were pounding in the mortar.  Usually there are extra pestles around and two or three people can pound together but take turn.  It is a matter of timing.  It was a lot of fun though can be hard work.  Having someone to help makes this arduous repetitive task less of a chore.

Tawas by Candle (Supernatural Healing)

Tawas by Candle, photo by JMorton

Tawas by Candle (Supernatural Healing)

This time round, our visit to the Philippines is more tumultuous than past vacations, for obvious reason that we came home because our mother had passed away.

All of us have suffered from some form of ailments, mostly stomach ache, diarrhoea, stomach bug related.

It became ridiculous the amount of time we spent in the toilet and despite medication like imodium, diatabs and the likes, we continue to suffer.

There is only one thing left, consult the great lady of Necodemus in Tondo.  Apparently she has a very long experience of curing people without the expense of money and time consulting medical doctors and hospitals.

This lady of Necodemus can diagnose using candles and a bowl of water.

Sometimes, she does not even have to see the patient or know the full name.

Anyway the first one to consult the Lady of Necodemus, was Marilou.  She had not been sleeping because of acute stomach ache and the constant need to go to toilet.

The Lady of Nicodemus, did her supernatural bit by letting the tears from a lit candle fall into a bowl of water.  The tears from the candle then started to form a shape.  Marilou’s one has so much indentations and protuberance that it could only be a man.  🙂 🙂  The Lady of Necodemus said that a man (living) had hexed (usog) Marilou.  The lady prescribed Marilou a drink of a pancit pancit tea.  It seemed to have worked as Marilou finally had her good night sleep denied to her during the last few days.

When I heard about this shenanigans, I was so intrigued that I sent Dayday to the Lady of Necodemus to diagnose Peter.  Dayday said that she would go after 6pm, to ensure the power of the Lady of Necodemus was more potent.  Who am I to argue?!!! 🙂

At exactly 6pm, Dayday went and spoke to the Lady.  After the candle ritual, it was found out that Peter had not been hexed by anyone because the candles formed a very smooth shape, pretty normal.  His stomach upset was due to dinuguan, eating lots of bloodied pork!  How did the lady know about this.  Again Peter was prescribed the pancit pancit tea and to eat grilled pork and tofu.  He has not followed the advice, ergo still he still suffers from mild to acute stomach ache!

Just then my brother, who said he does not believe in supernatural hokus pokus, said that his left eye had turned red.  He said it just happened and the only strange thing that happened to him that day was meeting a cat at a hotel room that is largely not reached or occupied by paying guest.  My brother was there to fix the air-conditioning system.

Anyway Alma went to the Lady of Necodemus, who by now was absolutely perplexed by the goings on in our house in Fullon. 🙂 🙂 🙂

The lady said that we or my family in Fullon is living with a dwende (supernatural little person) in the house and that it is better to keep him undisturbed as he is harmless. Woah!!!

Also my brother seemed to have offended the spirit in the hotel and therefore he had to make amends by offering a sacrifice of 3 cigarettes, a glass of beer, a plate of food place in the darkest corner of the house.  My brother also has to say heartfelt apology.

Believe it or not!

Max’s Restaurant, Bon Voyage To Marilou

Max’s Restaurant, Bon Voyage To Marilou

After 3 weeks, Marilou is going back to Los Angeles, California tomorrow!

And as such, we had a family celebration at Max’s Restaurant in Malate, nearby Aristocrat.

Though we remembered our Mother dearly, the reason why we are here in the Philippines,  Marilou and I as well as Peter that is, the dinner at Max was also fun, filled with laughter and food galore.

The family were in full force.  There were Jon (my youngest brother), Alma (his wife), Ella May (their eldest), Michael (their middle child) and Jomari, their youngest.  Our lovely Dayday was also there, Marilou, Myself and Peter, are of course in attendance too.  We were missing our other brother, William, but his situation can’t be helped at the moment.

Anyway, we had a really sumptuous meal.  We had a starter of Lumpiang Sariwa (fresh lumpia) made from finely chopped ubod, garlic, lettuce with sweetened sauce.

For mains, we had deep fried bangus with vinegar dip ( I must say their vinegar is really potent, it was so sour if almost blew my sinuses away), there was roasted crackling of loin pork with lechon-like sauce, there was sinigang na hipon (large shrimps in sour tamarind base soup), there was also kare-kare with a complementary shrimp bagoong. And of course, we had Max’s signature dish, their own recipe of roasted chicken.

There where so much to eat that we were all struggling in the end only to be given a dainty glass full of emerald-like jelly and tapioca/sago called buco pandan pudding.

These were all washed off with glasses of delectable pineapple juice and gallons of iced-water.

I can’t fault Max in anyway, the food was truly good and the service was exemplary.

I supposed, it comes from experience.  It all started in 1945, when Maximo Gimenez, a teacher, started serving chicken and drinks to American troops he befriended stationed near Quezon City.  Maximo’s niece, Ruby, more fondly known as Nanay Ruby was part of the making of the brand according to a caption on a picture proudly displayed in their restaurant.  She created the now famous Max’ chicken, which is tender and juicy in the inside but crispy outside.

The dinner celebration is a fitting homage to a wonderful, beautiful sister.  This is not goodbye but an au revoir, Marilou.  We will see each other again soon.

Be safe in your trip back home!

Our love from us all.

Nostalgic Trip to Sergio Osmena High School

Nostalgic Trip to Sergio Osmena High School

After buying a new bed at Maypajo early this afternoon, Marilou and I decided to go back for some memory lane trip at the nearby Gagalangin.

Alma, our sister-in-law, asked us several times if we knew where we were going.  Marilou and I confidently replied, “Of course, we know after all for 4 years we went to Osmena!” Smirk, smirk!!! 🙂

Now, we got out and lo and behold!, everything is different, there is now a McDonald where some lovely stationery shops were once located.  Still we walked confidently following a straight path to Osmena.

It was so hot today. Thank goodness for the umbrella Alma insisted we take, at least we had some sort of cover from the punishing sun.

We had been walking more than five minutes when our confidence started to ebb.  We can’t find Osmena High School.

Good thinking Marilou, decided to ask a kind-hearted lady, who said that Osmena HS is located near the market in Bulacan.  We asked her where the old one was?

She pointed to something near a bridge.  My mind must be going as I don’t remember a bridge near our old school.  Anyway we went to a building near the bridge but it did not look or feel like the old Osmena.  We asked someone again and was told that the old building was over there, pointing to some ambulance trucks.

Luckily we met a young man near the ambulance trucks and he pointed to an ongoing huge construction behind him.  He said that was the old Osmena, pointing directly to the signage next to it.  It sure said that the project is for Osmena High School.  He did say that was not true.  This building work is for Torres High School.

If this is the case, then it is coming in full circle.

I was told that Osmena High School was originally created to take in the overflow of students from Torres High School.

Marilou and I were a couple of intrepid alumni, no doubt about that.  We decided to investigate further and look into the new Osmena High School.

We were decidedly surprised to see a well maintained gated building.  Lovely potted plants were hanging in corridors.  There was even an outside auditorium.  A bust of Sergio Osmena prominently displayed in front of the Osmena building.

Though we also noted that the girls’ toilet needed renovation, it was still a far cry from the days when we were young students of Osmena.  We made do with a building with broken windows.  We do not have a gated building with a yard so we did our flag ceremony outside where anyone can see, overlooked by anyone who lived nearby.  We marched round and round the street for our Citizen Army Training (CAT).

We were the poor relation of Torres High then, that can’t be said now.  And yet looking at the rankings of high schools in the Philippines, Torres High School ranks at #88 while Osmena is not in the list of the 220 tops.  🙂  What has happened?!!!

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