Things About Canada That I Missed #1

Well, after a few month hiatus I really would like to get back to blogging.  Since we are back in Canada for several months I thought I’d post a few things that I’m appreciating about here and some things that I found startling or interesting during our transition back to living in North America.

The first thing that struck me was just after we arrived- wide, open spaces!  I kept taking pictures of non-picture-y places and thinking they were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.  

You’d have to agree that that stretch of highway is gorgeous and picture-worthy, right?  😉

 Or what about the shoulder of the road next to the grassy field?

 Ok, maybe that isn’t so special but perhaps you will agree with me that the puffy white clouds in a bright blue sky above this little path really IS beautiful.  Hooray for wide open spaces!


Things I like about the Philippines, #12

Wow, so it has been awhile- but I’m not without a really great excuse!  🙂  My mom came over from the U.S. and visited us for a month.  We had so much fun showing her around the Philippines.  It was delightful to watch her take it all in.  She was such a good sport and let us drag her all over the place.  We went to malls, parks, historical places, restaurants and the beach.  She got to ride in a jeepney a few times and loved it.
Here are some pictures of the fun things we did here in the Philippines and of her enjoying a few of my favorite things that I’ve already blogged about.

 Checking out the rice delicacies:

Enjoying biko- my favorite!

Trying out halo-halo:

Visiting beautiful and historic Intramuros:

The beach!

Checking out Greenhills market:

And saying goodbye (not my favorite thing!) with a big hug after a wonderful, fun-filled month:

Things I love about the Philippines, #11

Last night Dennis and I went out on a date and I remembered something else that I love about the Philippines.  No, I haven’t run out of material, I’ve just been super busy lately.  🙂

First, we went to Dairy Queen and got a little treat.  The fact that there is Dairy Queen here at all is a pretty cool thing about the Philippines, but the best part is yet to come!

Then, we walked down to the movie theater and bought our movie tickets.

Then, we went INTO the movie WITH the food we bought outside of the theater!  Yes!  It’s true!  At many theaters here it is A-OK to buy whatever you want and bring it in with you.

You want a burger?  Why not?  A grocery bag full of chocolate?  Sure!  Steak and salad?  Go for it!  But they may draw the line at a rolling buffet, I don’t know.

Things I like about the Philippines, #10

This post must begin with something I actually dislike about the Philippines, but I promise it will turn into something I like shortly.  🙂

There are not any public libraries in the Philippines.  This was a horrible discovery for our family as we are too cheap to buy books at a bookstore and spent hours upon hours at the library as a family in Canada.  I grew up going to the library about once a week and walking home with a stack of at least 10 (or 20, or more) books tucked in my arms.

So it was a sad, sad thing to not have libraries available to us here.

However, we’ve discovered two next-best things.

1.  Bookstores where it is ok to sit on the floor and read, read, read.  I’m not sure if it is encouraged or just tolerated and we don’t ask… but lots of children sit around the kid’s section and read like this so we assume it is ok.  And the girls love it.

2.  The “Booksale” store, located in regular malls, which sells affordable, used books.  The girls often spend their allowances at this store.  (Sorry, I don’t have any pictures of this store!)

Let’s just say that libraries are high on the list of places to go when we visit North America!

Things I like about the Philippines, #9

Filipinos are generally wonderfully creative and artistic.  One of my favorite things about living here is their love of music and their lack of inhibitions when it comes to singing.

There are two sides to this coin (think karaoke at midnight) but the part that I love and would like to emphasize is that it is perfectly acceptable to sing out loud almost anywhere.  One time I was riding along on a jeepney when suddenly the guy sitting across from me burst out into song.  Loudly.  I was the only one who looked twice.  
Many times I’ve been shopping in a store and a sales person in the same aisle as me suddenly chimes in with the music playing on the loud speaker system.  They have no qualms about that at all. 
I decided to experiment with this.  I was curious what people would do if a foreigner, who already sticks out like a sore thumb, burst out into song in the grocery store.  The answer?  Nothing!  They didn’t even look twice.  I love that!  Now I don’t have to feel weird about humming along to the radio or singing a song of my own.  
Now, isn’t that refreshing?  Who cares what other people think?  Enjoy life a little!  If your heart feels like singing, then sing!  We should all learn a lesson from the Filipinos on this one.
You may be wondering what happens if the person who is singing along can’t carry a tune.  Nothing.  They are welcome to sing too (think karaoke at midnight).  😀

Things I like about the Philippines, #8

I took this picture a long time ago knowing that if I ever blogged about things I like in the Philippines this would have to take place among them.

There are many varieties of bananas available here in the Philippines and they are all are quite flavorful and delicious- very sweet and just the perfect amount of tang.  Even a very ripe, brown-turning-almost-black banana is quite good (according to Dennis and others anyway, I don’t really eat brown bananas no matter where I am, banana-snob that I am…).

If you try to eat a banana here when it is too green you will know it right away!  There is a Tagalog word for “unripe fruit taste” that is especially appropriate when eating a green banana.  It is super dry and pithy tasting and almost turns your tongue inside out.

I know ripe bananas are good here, but who better to tell you the difference than someone who recently went from ‘here to there’?  Bee, my sister-in-law, lived with us here in the Philippines for two years and has now returned to Canada.  When she ate her first banana back in Canada she couldn’t believe the difference.

Here’s what she had to say: “Eating a banana that was yellow here tasted something like a green banana there… kinda pasty and a bit bland.”  She said it would take her awhile to want to try a North American banana again.

Things I like about the Philippines, #7

This is something that definitely had to grow on me, but now I really just can’t imagine life without it.

This, my friends, is halo-halo; a yummy dessert concoction made with evaporated or condensed milk poured over shaved ice and colorful ingredients including, but not limited to, a few different kinds of “dessert” beans (did you know there was such a thing?), gelatin, tapioca, sweetened fruits, pinipig (like crispy rice), leche flan (like custard), sweetened banana, chick peas, etc., topped with ube (purple yam) ice cream.

Take my word for it, it is delicious and everybody should at least try it once before they die.  It should go in one of those “1,000 Things to Try Before You Die” books.  I hope to try it 1,000 times before I die…  😀