Free range SPAM

SPAM, free to range Robinson’s Supermarket

Mention recently of Puregold Supermarkets and their caged SPAM in Lock up your SPAM came to mind when we were shopping in Robinson’s supermarket. There, in aisle 3 (or 11 depending on the end you count from) was their canned meat section, which includes SPAM, which is not locked up. Free-range SPAM! Customers are free to rope and catch a can of their choice and persuade it into the shopping trolley or basket.

Robinson’s free-range SPAM, rather than Puregold’s caged SPAM, must make for happy SPAM, free to roam the supermarket at night and that must mean it is more healthy for you than the caged SPAM!

 

Mind you, Robinson’s don’t totally trust their customers completely, as similar to Puregold and every other supermarket in Angeles City, if you have a large bag big enough to hold a herd of SPAM hidden from sight, then you need to check that bag in before shopping. In Makati City, we could enter with bags and shop with them in the trolley! Draw your own conclusions from that.

I think a SPAM and egg sandwich is in order now! 😉

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Lock up your SPAM

Lock up yer SPAM

One of the adjustments to living in the Philippines is with Puregold supermarkets. It’s not that Puregold are so vastly different from other Supermarkets here, or indeed, elsewhere in the world. What is different is their lack of respect for their customers and their fear of loss.

That is so high that the canned meats are locked up.

Yes mothers, lock up your SPAM*, the circus is coming to town … better lock you daughters up too, just in case. I could understand if it was expensive electronics gear or wines or whiskeys but SPAM? Go figure

Even worse is when you ask for assistance, the young pimply staff member comes over and asks what you want. Conversation goes along the lines of:

“A can of SPAM thanks mate”
“Just a moment sir — how many cans?”
“One”
“One minute sir”

The aforementioned pimply young staff member then proceeds to write out a docket for it. You go to the cashier with all your other provisions, hand her the docket, she rings up the price of the SPAM, you pay for the groceries and the SPAM. She sends a minion to collect your $3 can of SPAM and return it to your loving care so you can insert it in your bags of groceries!

There are some strange customs here.


* To be fair, apparently the meat in the white cans is Delimondo corned beef which is allegedly awesome stuff.

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Philippines Bucket List

When I was back in Oz for Christmas it was bush fires. The bush had been burning in my home state of New South Wales since last August-September but mercifully recent heavy rain has either put out or allowed the Rural Fire Service yo being the remaining fires under control, although the rain has brought problems of its own. The fire season is now two-thirds the way through so hopefully there is no more damage to come, especially in the hotter days of February. All us cockroaches hoped for rain, a lot of it but it looks like we got somewhat more than we wished for.

I got back to Manila on New Year’s Eve. The Philippines has been an interesting learning experience for me. I experienced first hand my first typhoon back in either 2001 or 2002 when I was staying at the Sofitel on Manila Bay. Seeing the waves break over the sea wall was quite an experience, from the safety of my hotel room.

Last year it was earthquakes, and one in particular which gave Manila a good shaking, mercifully not causing a great deal of damage, unlike more recent quakes in the Mindanao area of the Philippines.

I was teasing mum about having clean air in Manila while she was suffering from bushfire smoke when Taal volcano decided to blow its top a little, spewing ash, smoke and steam into the atmostphere. Taal (pronounced Ta’al) is one of the most active volcanoes around, and is about 70 km from the centre of Metro Manila. So I got to experience my first ash fall.

The bucket-list? See:

  1. Typhoon – check
  2. Earthquake – check
  3. Volcano – check
  4. and now, Pandemic – check

It is more fun in the Philippines

Battle of Playa Honda

I received a nice comment on a recent article in Thomo’s Hole so went and had a look at that bloggers blog. The blog is Subli. The author is Rosalinda and she is writing about the the Philippines – its history, its culture, and its people.

A couple of days ago she posted Olivier van Noort and other early Spanish-Dutch conflicts in the Philippines. OK, so that was going to be too much for me to ignore so I had a read., as I knew the Dutch hovered around this area, they had a colony on what is today Taiwan for example so I was not surprised they were involved in the Philippines as well.

Olivier van Noort sailed into the Pacific and on to the Philippines during the Eighty Years’ War between the United Provinces and Spain. He was one of many captains who fought the Spanish in these waters (and at the entrance to Manila Bay as well) with Galleons. The Spanish were similarly equipped with Galleons and some Galleys. I need to do  a lot more research on the vessels involved as this particular war and location is not within my usual area of reading.

The area of modern Botolan (in the province of Zambales) was known in those days as Playa Honda. There were three known minor conflicts during the Eighty Years’ War between the United Provinces and Spain held in Playa Honda in the Philippines. All the battles were won by the Spanish. The first battle occurred in 1610. The second, the most famous, took place in 1617. The third battle took place in 1624.

Interest piqued, now for some bright, shiny searching! Oh, and do stop in to Subli, there is some interesting posts in that blog, particularly about early Philippine history.

Currently Reading — December 6, 2019 — Battle of Manila

Current reading is from the series, History of Terror. This covers the period of the Allies liberation of the Philippines, and Manila in Particular.

When the Japanese invaded, the then colonial masters, the Americans, had declared Manila an open city to prevent damage and human casualties.

When the Americans along with support from local guerrillas moved on Manila to liberate it, the Japanese commander, Yamashita, ordered Manila to be fiercely defended. What followed was a liberation, almost building by building. However it was the Japanese treatment of the local population that was most horrific with estimates of 100,000 civilians being slaughtered. There is no true count however and other estimates are higher.

Review to follow when I finish reading this book. It is available from Pen & Sword however if your curiosity is already peaked.

Life in the Philippines – O-o!

That’s got you confused I bet!

Uh-oh in English is an interjection for “oops, something just happened” and is generally a negative. It is used to indicate a sudden awareness of a problem or error and the resulting worry. Examples could be “uh-oh I did it again” signifying I have repeated a previous error. “Uh-oh, you’ll be in trouble when mum gets home”, something I heard a lot as a child. “Oh-oh” is the American version of “Uh-oh”.

Both variations of uh-oh sound almost exactly like the Tagalog, “o-o”. In Tagalog, however, “o-o” means “yes”. The polite form of it may be changed to “o-po”, “Yes sir/ma’am,” but o-o is heard a lot. It can be used like the English “uh-huh” as well so “o-o” repeated through a conversation from one person generally means “yep, got it”.

So now, when I break something in the Philippines, I bite my tongue and avoid saying “uh-oh”. Now I am more likely to say “oh crap” as there is no mistaking the intent of that!

Life in the Philippines – “I Sorry” Ay Sorry, joke lang!

Well, the ‘ber months are here so it is full-on Christmas. More on that later. Today I wanted to cover one commonly used English expression and one Taglish* expression generally used by all Filipinos, no matter their native tongue.

I Sorry” “Ay Sorry” — firstly, my team has corrected my poor Taglish. The correct expression is “ay sorry” rather than “I sorry”. Of course to an English speakers ears, the difference in sound between “ay” and “I” is, well, almost none. Anyway, this is said whenever someone bumps you, knocks, you drops something in front of you or generally does anything that would elicit an apology from native English speakers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand or similar. The expression is simply “I sorry”. No “I am”, “I’m”, or other form of the pronoun, just a simple “I”. The expression is simply “ay sorry”, literally “oh, sorry”. OK RJ, Kaii and the others … have I got that correct now? 🙂

“Joke lang” — When hearing the expression “joke lang” I am reminded of an old friend since passed, Bob Preller. Bob was born in Rhodesia and lived there through the civil war that resulted in the current Zimbabwe. He later travelled, married a lovely Norwegian lady and lived in Norway for the rest of his life. He was the most positive person I ever knew but he was also gifted with an acute sense of humour and the ability to make any story, no matter how unbelievable, sound believable. This got him scolded a few times by his Norwegian friends who could not tell he was joking. They explained to him,

Når du forteller en vits, må du smile slik at vi vet at det er en vits

Which translated to:

When you tell a joke you must smile so that we know it is a joke

It is similar here. At the immediate conclusion of a joke or when teasing someone playfully, you are expected to say, “joke lang”, which I guess literally means, “and it is a joke” or perhaps better, “just kidding”.


* Taglish – is the combination of Tagalog and English, both in name and in substance. It is the name given to the phenomenon where the two languages are combined into one sentence in everyday speech. It is also common to see in writing too. The earliest use of the term “Taglish” seems to date back to about 1973. There are other forms of this portmanteau, such as “Engalog” and “Tanglish” but “Taglish” appears to be the common form used these days.

Life in the Philippines – 15 Days to Christmas!

Well, it is in the Philippines. Today is 16 August and as such, 15 days away from the start of the Festive Season here. In the Philippines the festive season is known as the ‘ber months (September, October, November, December). This will be when the Christmas decorations go up in the stores and malls, and the playing of Christmas Carols commences in those malls – for the next four months!

It is normally around mid-October that the repeated Christmas Carols feel more like a Chinese Water Torture but then I relex and reaise that there are only 10 more weeks of Carol Singing to go!

Merry Christmas!

Still Waiting for the Postman

Back on 8 August, in the post, Waiting for the Postman, I noted that I’d ordered some wargaming items mail order, including some board games, figures, flight deck decals and so on. I also noted that the delays in delivery are all at this end of the world.

The Navwar Ships

The ships from Navwar were cleared through customs back at the end of July. They were despatched to the delivery office, Makati Central Post Office, on 2 August 2019. It is now 12 days later and they still, apparently, have not been able to travel the 7kms from the Customs Office to the main post office in one of Metro Manila’s CBDs. Remember, these items arrived in Manila on 19 July. Still, I am patient.

The GMT Board Games Parcel

The GMT Board Games have now cleared customs yesterday, and today were, were despatched the 7kms to Makati.

I am confident that they will arrive just I am not sure exactly when.

When they do arrive, the service at Makati Central Post Office is absolutely brilliant – but I am impatient – want toys now 😉

Life in the Philippines – Pasalubong

Whenever I return from a trip to Australia or Singapore, my staff ask me for their Pasalubong. Pasalubong is a Tagalog word that seems to mean, “here is something I have for you for when you welcome me back”. It is a Filipino tradition where travellers bring gifts from their destination to folks back home – for family, friends, office mates and so on. The Pasalubong can be any gift or souvenir brought for family or friends after being away for a period of time.

Pasalubong is normally something local from the region, or country visited. Yes, it does not just apply to those that have been overseas. So, for example, should I visit the province of Bicol, then I would look to bring back pili nuts. Head to Pampanga and chicharron (see left) would be a suitable Pasalubong. Visit Australia, and I could bring back vegemite (which has the double advantage of being the expected Pasalubong and at the same time, after tasting it, curing the locals of asking me for Pasalubong in the future). Vegemite is an acquired taste after all, fit only for real men and women! 😉

Pasalubong is culturally important to Filipinos and is a way for the traveller to share some of the experience of their trip with family and friends – sort of like the souvenirs brought back by western cultures (like the Elgin marbles for example).

The other nice part about Pasalubong is that it is not wrapped, but given as is. A nice custom and one I seem to recall in other parts of Asia as well.