How to cook Gising Gising

Published on wikamag.com, 2012

Gising Gising (lit. “Wake up!”) is a simple but fiery dish that literally keeps you awake with a jolt of spiciness. Supposedly, this comes from Bicol, but some people I have met argue that it came from Pampanga. Personally, I think the argument that it is originally Bicolano makes more sense, due to its distinct similarity with the Bicol Express.

Just like the Express, Gising Gising uses coconut milk and pork. However, compared to its more popular cousin, this recipe is easier to cook, and the ingredients are fewer and relatively easier to find, making it a popular pulutan (drinking accompaniment), or a quick-fix dinner for working moms like me. Since getting married, I have been trying my hand at cooking at least once a week, and this is now one of my go-to dishes. If you can get yourself some fresh niyog (grated coconut meat) you can make your own coconut milk at home. Some supermarkets in the Philippines grate coconut meat on the spot for you.

You can make milk from scratch by buying some coconut and grating the meat yourself. Just pour a bit of hot water (or hot cow’s milk) over the niyog (just enough to make it damp), then squeeze it over a strainer, one handful at a time. When you’re done, take the used niyog and repeat the process. You now have gata, or fresh coconut milk. It is said to make the dish creamier, and the milk balances out the spice better than the canned variety (ask any traditional Filipino mom). But if this is not an option where you are, and you can’t readily find niyog, or if don’t have the time to prepare the milk, then canned coconut milk is fine (just don’t tell your mom). 

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium sized onion (diced)
  • 1/4 kilo ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons bagoong (shrimp paste)
  • 1/4 kilo sigarilyas (wing beans; trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pcs)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3 long green chillies (cut into 1/4-inch pcs)

Cooking Time: 10 – 15 minutes Serves: 2 – 3 people Directions:

  1. Sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes or until onion gets a bit opaque.
  2. Add the ground pork and sauté until brown.
  3. Combine the shrimp paste and mix well.
  4. Add sigarilyas and sauté for a minute before pouring coconut milk into the pot.
  5. Simmer for about 5 minutes and stir occasionally.
  6. Add the green chillies and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the beans are slightly tender.
  7. Optional: Season with pepper and/or garnish with siling labuyo (chilli pepper).

Other variations of the recipe include ginger. If you can’t find wing beans, you can use string beans instead. You can choose to add the chillies before the coconut milk if you want more of a kick. The longer the chillies are cooked, the spicier the dish gets. Serve this with a steaming bowl of rice. Also, it goes well with a cold glass of beer.

Sports for the Indoors

Published August 2010 on wmn.ph (defunct website)

Rainy days + dark skies + muddy grounds = weather that makes you feel sluggish and a bit blue. But you can shake off those blues and still keep fit with some of these interesting indoor sports that can be enjoyed whatever the climate.

  1. Table Tennis

This sport doesn’t really need an introduction. The classic indoor sport, also known as ping pong, is something that everyone can enjoy, from your younger sister to your grandfather. It’s been called the most popular racket sport in the world, and there’s even an International Table Tennis Federation. It’s easy to learn: all you need is a ball, a partner and a table – you’re good to go!

Table tennis can be found almost anywhere, from the country clubs to the homes of relatives. But if you’re thinking about playing seriously, you might want to check out the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (TATAP). See their website for more: http://www.tatapx.org/

  1. Futsal

Football fanatics can still enjoy rainy days with futsal, a modification of the original game. It’s fun, safe and cheap. It involves 2 teams made up of 5 players each, with one being the goalkeeper. This game is great for families as it can be played by men, women, adults and kids. Plus, it doesn’t take ages to score (unlike in real football/soccer).

There is no official place to play futsal in the Philippines, but the game can be played on different kinds of surfaces: basketball courts, warehouses, and your own living room (if it’s wide enough). Check the internet for official rules to the game, but feel free to modify it. Gather your family or friends, find a flat surface, and start playing!

  1. Ice Skating

In a tropical country like ours, ice skating is a treat. The feel of gliding on frozen water is something better experienced than described. Ice skating can be enjoyed with your family and/or a partner. But if you just want to spend some time alone cruising along the rink, that’s fine too.

Most SM Malls have ice skating rinks, but one to check out is the ice skating rink at MOA. Aside from offering open skating, they also have formal lessons and birthday packages available.

  1. Yoga

If you’re looking for something quiet and contemplative (yet still fitness-oriented) to do on a rainy afternoon, then yoga is your best bet. Yoga is not just a physical, but mental discipline. You can do it for increased flexibility and overall physical health, and to learn how to meditate.

There are many types of yoga, and almost every gym offers a variation of it. Find out about Bikram yoga here: http://www.wmn.ph/article/135/some-like-it-hot-all-about-bikram-yoga

  1. Badminton

A sport that can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. It’s fairly accessible, and badminton offers a complete full-body workout. Plus, it doesn’t cost much to play, unlike its sister sport tennis.one variation is speed badminton, which is played without a net.

There are numerous badminton courts across the Philippines, from Bukidnon to Muntinlupa. Check the internet for the closest badminton court near you!

  1. Laser Tag

For those who’ve seen the TV Series ‘How I Met Your Mother’, you know what I’m talking about. Thank Barney Stinson for making this relic of the 70s cool again. Laser tag can be played in numerous ways, but the most common is for players to score points by ‘tagging’ a target (usually another player) with an infrared emitting ‘laser gun’. Players wear infrared-sensitive targets, such as a vest. When the target on the vest is shot, the player is out of the game. Laser tag is less painful and less messy compared to paintball, but just as fun.

Where to play:

Lazer Xtreme (Laser Extreme) Alabang 2nd Floor Cinema Lane, Alabang Town Center (ATC), Muntinlupa City Located Above NorthPark and Tempura Tel. (02) 856 64 67

Website: http://www.lazerxtreme.com.ph/

  1. Krav Maga

A hand to hand combat system that makes use of street fighting techniques, Krav Maga is not exactly a sport, but offers the best that sports can, such physical fitness and mental awareness. Plus, you can learn a set of self-defense skills used by one of the most hardcore military force in the world, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Perfect for women who often go home late, or on their own, especially on rainy nights.

Check out this article for more on where to find official Krav Maga classes and schedules: http://www.wmn.ph/article/705/dare-tokrav-maga

How do you explain the birds and the bees

Published December 2009 on wmn.ph (defunct website)

It’s one of those questions every parent dreads: How do I talk to my kids about sex? There aren’t any easy answers, but we can learn from other moms what approaches to take, and how to prepare for “The Talk”.

(* real names have been changed for privacy)

  1. Prepare your child early on

Jenny, 31, shares: “My daughter Grace is 3 and I haven’t had the sex talk with her yet, but I think you can’t just suddenly talk about sex with your kids when they reach what you think is the “proper” age. You have to be open about these things from the start, so that when the time comes, your child feels comfortable asking you about sex. When I was teaching my daughter how to talk, I would point to her body parts and name them: head, hand, nose – even her private parts! So for her, “vagina” isn’t a dirty word and she’s not embarrassed to use it.”

The “sex talk” shouldn’t be a surprise to you or your child. Instead, you should prepare for it by creating an atmosphere where your child knows they can ask you about anything, and gradually introduce some words or ideas relating to sex (like the names of their private parts) so that when you finally talk about it, s/he won’t find it embarrassing or weird to have the talk.

  1. Take the first step

Just because your child doesn’t ask questions about sex, it doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. The “talk” can’t be ignored, or put off until your child is in high school (they probably know more about sex than you by that time!) There is no right age for when you can talk to a child about sex, as this depends on his/her mental development and curiosity. When you sense that your child is prepared, then you can have the talk.

Tin has a daughter, Abigail, who is now 15 years old. They first talked about sex when Abigail was 9, because Tin felt she was ready for it. Since then, Abigail has asked questions about other sex-related issues. “Aside from sex, you need to also talk about sex-related things, like masturbation and attraction to others. You have to help your child prepare for adolescence, and the sexual feelings that appear. It’s especially important that girls know about menstruation before it happens, to avoid shock and/or embarrassment.”

  1. Don’t be a TMI mom

Giving too much information (TMI) can be just as bad as giving no information at all. Make sure that the information you share is appropriate for your child’s age and mental development. For example, a child below 10 years old might not understand the act of sex itself, so it would be best to limit your description of sexual intercourse to a very basic one. You can elaborate on the details later on.

  1. Make sure sex isn’t just about “sex”

Emphasize that sex isn’t just about the act, but about relationships and choices. Lisa, 39, has a 10 year old son. “A cousin of mine was molested when she was young. One of the things that really broke my heart was that she didn’t even realize that she was being molested until she was a bit older, and by that time it was too late. The person was gone, and the damage was done. That’s because her parents were super conservative and they never talked about sex or anything related to it. Her experience has taught me and when my son turned 8 years old, I had the sex talk with him. I also told him that if someone touches his private parts, or someone makes him touch his or her private parts, to let Mom or Dad know because those parts are special, and not just anyone can touch them.”

When talking about sex, always put it in context. You can tell your child that it is between two people in a specific, loving relationship with each other – like husband and wife. In the future they can make their own decisions about sex and sexuality, but for now, make sure that no one can take advantage of them by letting them know that sex isn’t a trivial act.

The Ultimate Breakup Playlist

Published September 2009 on wmn.ph (defunct website)

When you break up with a significant other, all you want to do is stay in bed, curl up with some tissue, and listen to a good, sad song you can bawl your eyes out. Maybe you want a loud, angry song to sing your lungs out to, or a triumphant “I’m-glad-it’s-over” song you can strut to. However you feel, you need a song. Here are ten of the best, most anthemic breakup songs of all times (in no particular order).

 

  1. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor

I will survive as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive I’ve got all my life to live I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive I will survive

 It’s the breakup song even your mom knows the lyrics of. It’s a classic, and great for singing karaoke to with your girlfriends. The upbeat tempo and campy appeal make this a great choice when breaking up means breaking free.

 

  1. Kwarto – Sugarfree

Mga liham ng nilihim kong pag-ibig At litrato ng kahapong maligalig Dahan-dahan kong inipon Ngunit ngayo’y kailangan nang itapon

 A beautiful, melancholy song for when a relationship has ended and all you are left with is a lonely room and box full of memories.

 

  1. Without You – Mariah Carey

No I can’t forget tomorrow

When I think of all my sorrow

When I had you there

But then I let you go

And now it’s only fair

That I should let you know

What you should know

This song captures exactly how you feel when you break up with someone and realize what a mistake you’ve made.

 

  1. All Out of Love – Air Supply

I’m lying alone with my head on the phone Thinking of you till it hurts I know you hurt too but what else can we do Tormented and torn apart

It seems that Air Supply has got breakup songs down to an art. They did the original ‘Without You’, and have done other breakup songs such as ‘Goodbye’. But this has got to be their best. It’s got a memorable melody and a chorus you can belt out to.

 

  1. Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Now that you are out of my life, I’m so much better, You thought that I’d be weak without ya – But I’m stronger You thought that I’d be broke without ya – But I’m richer You thought that I’d be sad without ya – I laugh harder

So what if you’ve broken up? It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in your life. This is a song for all you strong, independent women out there who don’t want to waste another minute moping about your ex.

6. How do I live without you – Trisha Yearwood

Oh I need you in my arms, need you to hold You’re my world, my heart, my soul If you ever leave Baby you’d take away everything good in my life

This song captures quite well the feelings of helplessness and loss you feel after a breakup.

 

  1. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette

’cause the joke that you laid on the bed that was me And I’m not gonna fade As soon as you close your eyes and you know it And every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it…well can you feel it

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as the old saying goes. What better song to help release your anger? It’s got smart and biting lyrics. This song rocks, and so do you. Let him know that in no uncertain terms.

 

  1. Someday we’ll know – New Radicals

Ninety miles outside Chicago Can’t stop driving, I don’t know why So many questions, I need an answer Two years later you’re still on my mind

When it’s been ages since your breakup, but you just can’t get over him this song hits you straight in the gut with its bittersweet and heartfelt lyrics.

9. Before I let you go – Freestyle

I wish that it could be just like before I know I could’ve given you so much more Even though you know I’d given you all my love I miss your smile, I miss your kiss Each and every day I reminisce ‘Coz baby it’s you that I’m always dreaming of

 A huge hit in the late ‘90s with easy to remember lyrics for when you don’t want a breakup to happen, but have accepted the fact that it will.

10. One Last Cry – Brian McKnight

My shattered dreams and broken heart Are mending on the shelf I saw you holding hands, standing close to someone else Now I sit all alone wishing all my feeling was gone I gave my best to you, nothing for me to do But have one last cry

 This song is melodramatic, but in a good, soulful way. It’s infectious R&B rhythm and relatable lines make it one of the best breakup songs of the last few decades.

The Difficulties of Cubicle Love

Published April 2009 on wmn.ph (defunct website)

Leona met BJ in the office. Today, they’re happily married and have a son. Jo was in an on and off relationship with an officemate. Now, they’re just friends. Sometimes office relationships work, sometimes they don’t. So are they worth it?

Like any relationship, there are pros and cons. One good thing is that your partner is nearby. “You’ll get to see him every day. If there are any emergencies you can contact him right away.” Leona shares.

More time together means you’ll get to know him better. How does he handle his responsibilities and treat co-workers? Being in the same office means you’ll get to see him in ‘real life’.

What about the downside? “Like I said, you get to see him every day,” Leona laughs. Everyone needs personal space. “Spending too much time together can breed boredom. We all need to retain some mystery.” Jo adds. Also, “office romances usually triggers gossip. Personally, I haven’t had any major problems as a result of being in an office relationship. I don’t know how my bosses view me, though.” She admits.

There might be a problem if your partner is your boss, or a subordinate. It could be bad for your reputation, or career. “If your loved one isn’t in the same department or team, it won’t be that complicated.” Leona says.

And if the relationship doesn’t workout, it’ll be harder to end. Others decide to resign if a relationship ends badly. Complications and conflict are bound to occur, especially in such close quarters.

So how can such conflict be avoided? The key is respect.

Respect your boss. Don’t let the relationship affect your quality or output. Show respect to your superiors by being a professional, and you’ll maintain their respect too.

Respect your officemates. Sure, your officemates are happy for you, but do they need to hear you gush about your guy nonstop? Too much information can be awkward for them. Plus, there is plenty of time to be mushy with your partner outside the office, away from the eyes of co-workers (who might find it embarrassing).

Respect your partner. Give your partner enough space to work. The occasional sweet email and having lunch together is fine, but checking up on him every 5 minutes isn’t just annoying, it’s scary.

Respect your relationship. For romance to blossom, it needs intimacy and privacy. If you keep revealing things to co-workers, pretty soon everyone will know what you argued about last night, and where you plan to have dinner. Where’s the romance there?

Respect yourself. Define your boundaries. You’re not required to cover for your partner, or do his work for him. Outside the office you can be his sweetie pie, but in the office you mean business.

“The number one rule in handling an office relationship is knowing when to act as a couple, and when not to.” Jo advises. Follow that, and the risk just might be worth it.