I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

27 March, 2011

Kamias is Ginger Lily

...and I still don't get why.  One of my favorite plants is the pink torch ginger, for its color and petals.  The kamias tree does not resemble a ginger plant at all.

  I love kamias, biting it raw dipped in salt. When I was pregnant, I craved for it, and my dad had to knock on neighbors' doors to see who had some.  The tree is not as common in peoples' backyards in Metro Manila as it used to be.  Dad had more luck finding me the native pink guava I really screamed for then. He brought me 4 precious little pieces from Paranaque to Makati.  I haven't found any even here in Santa Rosa. This time, I am in kamias heaven.  The name Laguna Ginger Lily tickles me more for a blog name than Kamias ng Laguna does, but saying kamias already sounds maasim, sour, makes me salivate.  

   I have not gone beyond, "thank  you for the kamias" with this neighbor. I think they're only too happy to let me have it than let it rot.  Apparently they have bunches of this dangling from the trees lining their back area.  They regularly give me a grocery bagful.  I have never made sinigang using kamias, but last year I pickled a bunch they gave, following a Zamboanga recipe I found in a local magazine. It was alright, but my husband didn't  trust my process and we eventually just threw it out.Last month, the harvest was so plump, but so plentiful, I knew they would just rot. Kamias is good for only two days after the picking.  So, I searched the web for jam or jelly recipes.  Most of the recipes called for "apog" or lime (for cooking, not for construction!) to soak the kamias in. Since I  had no clue where to get that, I went ahead and boiled the kamias with sugar. Pouring in CUPS of refined, white sugar into a pot frightens me, so I used less than half the recipe. The result, a tamarind-tasting jelly.   It is strange how it really tastes like jellied sampaloc. 

     I have not offered any to the kind neighbors. They are older than I am, and I am guessing prone to high-blood pressure, or even gout.  Kamias has a high oxalic acid content, and uric acid I guess. Basta it is highly acidic.  After I ate 4 crunchy raw pieces and looked at the mirror to brush my teeth, I noticed they (my usually yellow-stained teeth) seemed whiter. I googled 'teeth whitener" and "oxalic acid".  In the 1800s people used oxalic acid to whiten their teeth!


Are you looking for a "Lipat-bahay"?

     Who moved us here?  Try searching for LEMSON in Metro Manila, if this number doesn't work  09198998743. We needed:  men who could lift and heave our furniture and boxes onto closed trucks, and then gently set them into the small Santa Rosa home.  We got around 5 very nice men with two yellow closed trucks. One of the men informally lead the team with his skillful, strategic moves. 
     The full moon day in May two years ago turned out to be rainy. I remember thinking at least the men did not sweat nor smell as much as they would have, but prayed their getting drenched wouldn't make them sick. They are not a moving company that has uniformed staff, so they were in t-shirts, sandos.  Wish they had rain jackets.

      We did all the packing ourselves, over many weeknights.  My husband easily became obssessed with wrapping furniture, and he did such a neat job, it was almost painful peeling them at the new house. He consumed two rolls of large-sized cling wrap and bought up the stock of bubble wrap from the neighborhood Office Warehouse.

      Of course we would have loved to hire the movers who do everything, but LEMSON was a really good deal. We saved a lot of money and felt we could completely trust them.  Strange, the dispatcher actually vouched for their trustworthiness, by saying "they are Seventh Day Adventists".  Well, the Adventist University of the Philippines is just a few kilometers from here. It is because of that remark that I have come to regard the people around that area as maybe more trustworthy than us Roman Catholics. An awkward thought I can't process right now. We were also advised upon inquiry, not to tip.  The men were so helpful, nice, wet, and damn tired, so we still gave them something "pang merienda". We had earlier shared lunch with them, and explained they should just go get merienda for themselves.  I hope they were grateful and not offended.

18 March, 2011

Mmm, smell that? It's the Narra tree!

     You never know what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow is today, and today is heady with the scent of the narra trees' flowers.  How lovely to wake up to this naturally-fragranced air! The  exotic "bango" (scent) comes in wisps, swirling in the air, blown in through our windows by the breeze.  The lush green leaves are making a graceful brushing sound as I type.  Music and fragrance from the trees and air!

     I was going to start posting yesterday, but then it was going to be an angry post, a bad start for a new blogger.  Yesterday, and on some days since last week, we have been inhaling, no--choking, on smoke from one of the 'developments' out here in Santa Rosa.  It rained "abo" strips (ash).  We left Makati alongside EDSA, after years of trying to stop the burning of leaves and grass at the seminary near us.  Not even reporting them to the MMDA headquarters across their lot stopped it. To be fair, there seemed to be a period when it stopped right after my call to the chairman.  After a brief spell, the "pagsisiga", an illegal activity, really, went on during weekends and holidays.  We endured black dust from EDSA buses settling stubbornly on all our appliances, furniture, and heaven forbid, in our respiratory systems.  Then we moved here, and everyone who learned about it understood, it's for the "air".  There is space and air here because of unoccupied fields of cogon...which are burnt.

     Oh dear. I started my blog on that negative note anyway. This is how I really hoped to begin:
Narras in bloom!

underneath the narra tree...see the fuzzy leaves? It's windy.
If only the scent could be posted...!

     The scent is rich, perfumey but just so, not overpowering in a headache-y way. There is no way I can describe it any further except to say it reminds me of the scents of jasmine or honeysuckle. Oh but this narra, it's potent after all ha. Smelling it makes me feel...pretty? See? It's affecting my brain already.  People outside should be happy today, not the happy that is drug-induced though, haha. 

    Last March, when they bloomed one day, I learned narras bloom a day after a rainshower in February or March.It hasn't really rained, but it's been overcast and cold here. The flowers last only one or two days and then they are yellow little dots on the ground, flying together toward the sidewalks' edges.  Tokyo has its cherry blossoms in bloom right now, and these are our own temporary flowers. Not outstandingly pretty, they make up for yesterday's smoke and ashfall. Alright, I must not complain too much about my air now.  I've been thinking of what our Japanese brethren are going through. 

     My milflores also currently in bloom is for very a good Japanese friend in Tokyo who remains optimistic despite the empty grocery shelves she has been facing each night after work. You have a home with us, my sister.