Saturday, February 21, 2015

Of Dragons and Lions: The Taoist Temple of Cebu City

Enjoyed an extra rest day this week, Thursday, having being a holiday in celebration of the Chinese New Year. I've been seeing greetings all over. Kung Hei Fat Choi. Gong Xi Fa Cai. Gong Hey Fat Choi. Whether or not they mean the same, I really couldn't tell. My great maternal grandfather is pure Chinese, making me 1/8 Chinese. Sad to say, I haven't learned any Chinese word since birth although when I was a kid, my parents slightly entertained the idea of putting me in a Chinese school. 

Since last week, I've seen Chinese dishes featured on TV. Chinese New Year preparations--- noodles, rice cakes, or anything sticky. Dragon and lion dances, too! 

All these brought to mind the Taoist Temple my husband and I visited in Cebu City, one of the oldest cities in my very own country, the Philippines. Located in Beverly Hills, this temple was built in 1972 by the Chinese community in Cebu. Sincethen, this temple, a center of worship for Taoism, has fast become a famous top attraction among tourists, with its very expressive bright red and green color scheme and pagoda-style rooftop. 

From afar the temple looks like a replica of the Great Wall of China. It was just a pity that I wasn't able to capture that image.

At the entrance, tourists are welcomed by this large post

and by this dragon.

I am neither a devotee of Taoism (a religion that follows the teachings of Lao Tze) nor of Lao Tze (the famous ancient Chinese philosopher) but the climb up the 99 steps of the 300-meter high temple that is open to non-worshipers somehow gave me a glimpse of how Taoist devotees conduct their worship inside. 

That's my husband going ahead of me. He walks fast, while I sidetrip to get some photos.

He who walks ahead gets the first pose on cam!

Oopppsss... this warning must have made me subconsciously over-cautious that I missed taking photos of the other beautiful views around...

... such as the panoramic view of the city from the balcony of the temple, I was just able to catch this. Not a very good angle eh?

Just outside the temple sanctuary, this information board oriented me on the Taoist ritual.

First, they wash their hands as sign of cleanliness. Barefoot, they light joss sticks, kneel with joss sticks on both hands and pray for guidance and enlightenment. Then they hold a pair of wooden blocks, one in each hand, flat side up. Before asking the question, problem or wish, they have to request permission if God is ready to accept the question in mind by dropping the wooden blocks on the floor. They ask the question, problem or wish, one at a time. The answer to the question will be according to the position of the blocks: 

If the blocks of wood show a YES, one could make a wish or ask a question. If not, then it's either NO or MAYBE. NO means one has to come back another day and ask again. MAYBE means that the question, problem or wish is not very clear so one has to simplify the question and ask again. If the answer is NO or MAYBE, one can also consult the monks in the temple. 

After the question, problem or wish has been granted, one has to kneel and express thanks to God for granting His blessings and graces in life.

Up on the roof of the temple, dragons are on guard in every corner. 
Just staring at the colors so amazed me!

Oh, wait, I was also able to get this view of a lion sitting at the entrance of the temple hall, unceasingly watching the two dragons. It took me several attempts before I finally succeeded at it. 

Dragons in Chinese mythology and folklore are legendary creatures that take several animal forms such as turtles, fish and other imaginary creatures, but more commonly depicted as four-legged snake. While the dragon symbolizes power, strength and good fortune, the lion, a relentless fighter is known as the King of Beasts and is a symbol of strength, superiority and leadership. 

I don't know why but I just love looking at the photo above. Maybe because while I took the shots I had in mind this verse that says:

"... Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed..."
- Revelations 5:5

Happy weekend, everyone! 

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ensaladang Mustasa

It's back to work today, after five days of rest, something I've been looking forward to. As if the  long Christmas holiday vacation was not enough :) Well, days just seem to fly so fast! Thanks to the additional non-working holidays brought about by the Pope's visit to my country, the Philippines. I had time to relax, stay at home, bond with family and yes, sort picture files in my computer. In between social networking, of course, I cooked for my family. With my husband home, there has to be fish and vegetables on the dining table. There was a bunch of mustasa (mustard) leaves left in the vegetable bin. What could be a better and perfect partner to fried fish than Ensaladang Mustasa (Mustard Salad)?

Very simple and easy, here's how I did it.

1 bunch of mustasa leaves
Rock salt
2 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
1 small onion, sliced thinly
3 tbsps vinegar
Iodized salt, ground pepper and sugar to taste

1. Cut mustasa leaves into one-inch strips, wash and drain.
2. Squeeze mustasa leaves lightly with a little rock salt.
3. Mix together mustasa, tomato and onion slices.
4. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar according to taste. Mix all ingredients together.
5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before serving with fried fish and hot rice.

See, I told you, it's that easy and simple. Enjoy this salad as appetizer!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Resolution or Confession?

While many of you might have written down a list of resolutions for the new year, here I am, beginning the year with a confession to make. 

I haven't done much blogging these days months. I know, I know, I've been missing so much --- craft and recipe ideas from not attending link parties, blog hops and worse, for not regularly checking my own blogger dashboard. Guilty me!!!

Well, I realized that when I browsed over my dashboard and saw all my unfinished posts. Let me see if I can count them with my fingers!?? My picture files are a mess! But good that I was able to clear my desktop a few months ago! Good job, eh? Give me a pat on my back!!! 

In my previous post, I mentioned about having two days left before going back to work. That simply means I have to hurry and finish all the pending chores... keeping my fingers crossed, though. Now, what do I do next? Hmmm... let me see? First things first--- finish this post! Yeah, good answer, that's right, finish this post!!!

While browsing over the picture files I had to organize into folders, I came over this photo of the Molo Soup my husband and I shared during our travel to Iloilo City in May last year. I'm an Ilongga (I grew up in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines) but I confess that until now I'm still trying to master the craft of cooking Pancit Molo. And I haven't tried this for quite some time!

Shared this bowl of Molo Soup with my husband at Sarabia Manor Hotel, Iloilo City
Call it coincidence or providence (???) that today I also came across a Molo Soup recipe by Malou Nievera, a Filipino blogger I'm following. Malou featured this recipe in her blog site, Skip to Malou. How could I have almost missed this! 

Here, let me share with you a special twist to the traditional Molo Soup made by Malou. Click here to view her recipe---Molo (Wonton) Soup. And while you're doing that, let me finish the clean up... and see if I still have time to make another post. 

The Aftermath

How's your second... or first new year day? Depends on which part of the globe you're in ;) 

Woke up late again today. Spent most of the day disposing trash from my paper files and bin yesterday. One of those long overdue tasks! Whew! I bet you also spend seconds? minutes deciding which bag to place things eh? Guess what... I checked my daughter's "trash" bag and ended keeping some items I could still use in the office. Yellow pads, calling card holder, and the like. Hmmm... I bet she has already predicted this would happen! 

Now, did I just give you a valid excuse? I mean, for getting up late? 

Since New Year's Eve, I've been spending some time doing some space management before closing the fridge. So today, before leaving my bed, I knew exactly what to do... here it is!

First, the left-over baked potatoes and button mushrooms arranged in a platter with lettuce. Then I added a few pieces of Spanish sardines. But that doesn't end there. I seemed to have a craving for egg omelette. So here goes the Spanish Sardines Egg Omelette. 

1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 medium tomato, sliced thinly
3 pcs Spanish sardines, flaked
3 pcs egg, beaten
Pinch of salt, Garam Masala (Indonesian spice)
1 small piece leek, curled and sliced thinly

  1. Heat a few drops of oil in a pan.
  2. Saute onions, tomatoes and sardines.
  3. Pour sauteed mixture over beaten egg.
  4. Place egg mixture back on pan. Wait for egg to settle.
  5. Add seasonings
  6. Sprinkle leeks before serving with hot fried rice.

You may add a few pieces of sardines for a more spicy flavor and enjoy the aftermath of the holiday season. 

Oh, no, only two more days left and the long holiday break is over!!!

Cheers to 2015!

As 2014 came to a close, as usual everybody welcomed the new year with a blast. Woke up late today after watching the fireworks with the whole family in front of our house last night. Time for photo ops, of course, with our doggies! Sssshhh... my 90-year-old parents slept soundly, unperturbed by all the noise outside.

Welcome 2015

After an hour of fireworks, our part of the world embraced the new year. I wasn't able to resist posting this photo in Instagram four days ago and yesterday in Facebook even before I could feature it here. 

"New Life in Christ abundant and free!
What glories shine, what joys are mine,
What wondrous blessings I see!
My past with its sin, the searching and strife,
Forever gone -- There's a bright new dawn!
For in Christ I have found new life."

This photo was taken outside the Fraumunster at Zurich, Switzerland February last year.
Well, isn't it a perfect image of new life? As we face another year, we can only cry out in praise and thanksgiving for a bright new dawn, new hopes and aspirations for all the surprises awaiting us from God's bountiful storehouse in heaven. Now with more than 30 likes, I would like to believe that my FB friends share my sentiments.

Have a happy and blessed new year, friends! Cheers!!!