Pinoy Promdi Welcomes 2009!

Maligayang Bagong Taon!!... a Filipino greeting which means Happy New Year!

In French: Bonne année!

In Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo

In Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo

(Just leave a comment to greet in other tongues!)

We are busy preparing for 2009. Filipinos prepare a lot of things to welcome the new year!
Different dishes.

The market is so busy. People bump into each other. Vendors pop here and there like mushrooms!

I'll get back and provide more details about Filipino traditions after our busy New Year preparation and celebration!

As we get busier, let me greet all of you dear readers of various countries:

Happy New Year!!

Have a Blessed 2009!!

Enjoy viewing the photos of the busy markets in the province!! I myself had fun while doing our marketing and taking these shots!

National Transport Vehicle - The Tricycle

If there will be a plebiscite wherein the Filipino people will vote what will be the Philippine's national motorized transport vehicle, my best bet will be none other than the "Vehicle for the Masses" or Ang Pang-Masang Sasakayan - the Tricycle.

Cabanatuan City has one of the most, if not the most number of tricycles in the country. The city and the province of Nueva Ecija can be voted the Tricycle Capital of the Philippines. Seeing it all around the country, it has been a major part of Filipino life.

Tricycle is a three-wheeled vehicle (duh, tri is the prefix meaning three! ewww!) created out of the need o transport more people using the motorcycle. Motorcycle is cheaper and travels more distance with less gasoline compared to car taxis. Fact is, I observed a couple of motorcycles on the road so commuters can save money on gas.

A motorcycle will be fitted with a side car in order to accommodate a greater number of passengers more conveniently and transport them a little safer.

The best and cheapest ride for a person to travel from one place to another in the province is the good old reliable tricycle. There are various designs of the tricycle in the Philippines. As observed, the design is dependent on the type of the regular route's terrain. Part and parcel is the trend of the designs and the required color scheme of their organization or as required by their localized laws as well.

TODA usually refers to Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association. When riding a tricycle try to check the local TODa where the vehicle belongs. We have the abbreviated or full name of a place or barangay followed by TODA. Like LATODA (for Laur), PATODA (for Papaya), RUTODA (for Rufina), BBTODA, CATODA, BATODA, GATODA and whatever TODA's that they can imagine named after their place. Often we see them queueing, waiting for passengers on designated areas near the marketplace, schools and other public places.

I can recall that the first family vehicle way back in the early eighties was a tricycle with Suzuki brand motorcycle. This was driven by e neighbor "Kuya Boy" (elder brother whose name is Boy, a name that will never grow old!).

As it was in yesteryears, drivers who do not own the vehicle are required to pay a certain amount to the owners. The payment, known as "boundary", is an amount agreed upon between the owner and the driver and serves as the rent income gained by the owner. The driver will keep whatever is left from passenger's fare and the gasoline usage. Although this vehicle is one of the cheapest, only a few numbers can afford to buy. Hence, the on-going driver-owner relationships.

Despite the reality that these vehicles help commuters in a great way, they are also the reasons of major traffic jams in cities and town proper areas. Driving a small vehicle, they ease their way even in the smallest possible areas unimaginable. Once inside the town proper, maintaining an arms' length distance between your car and another vehicle is not applicable in my province. A tricycle (or two) will eke its way between the vehicles causing more traffic jams and delays.

In our province, do not expect the drivers to follow the tricycle lane. On the main highways, there are designated rightmost side of the highway assigned to them. No, very seldom that you see tricycles following their lanes. So you have to slow down and follow their phase for a while, some of them running at 20mph. You have to take the risk of overtaking, on the other lane and get your speed back to 70 or 80mph ... until another tricycle comes in your way. And if they will turn left or right (or suddenly stop to ask a passenger - on the other side of the road!), do not expect them to use light signals! Just be wary when following a tricycle.

I still enjoy riding the tricycle from time to time. For one, it is readily available. Most drivers will ask your destination even if you do not wave at them. See? No need to wave and they will stop by your side on a sidewalk, causing traffic jams.

The air. The wind. The space. Riding a tricycle is highly recommend for claustrophopics. If tricycles go around 40 mph and in the main highways, make sure to hold your head. Your brains might be blown out by the wind. And try doing this on a night with a cool breeze of the holiday season, you will definitely curl into a ball just to keep the heat in your body.

The views. In an open air vehicle, you can see most of the views. Plus the slower the vehicle moves, the more time to appreciate the beauty of the province and the sceneries.

Versatile. Aside from passengers, the national vehicle is also used to transport produce from the farm to market. Passengers also use it to transport and deliver grocery items, lumber and anything imaginable.

Transformer. No, not the movie. Not Optimus Prime. Tricycle can also transform. Don't wanna ride the three-wheeled car? Just remove the attachment and ride the motorcycle on its own! Easy!

A visit to the Philippines won't be complete without a tricycle ride. Being a Filipino, a tricycle ride will let you understand and feel what the most people feels. In a sense, it makes us more Filipino.

Riding a tricycle is fun. Cheap. A little noisy but I really appreciate the air and the space. Incomparable.

Try riding a tricycle... It's worth the experience!


Forest... At the Back of My Mind

Hmmm... I should have made the title: "Forest... At the Back of Our House."

It is so soothing and refreshing to be in the middle of a forest. The verdant scenery sends peaceful sensation to my entire being.

Whenever I try to imagine a peaceful scene.. I sometimes end up in the middle of the forest.... that our backyard offers.

In the province, I am grateful we still have a lot of trees.

With these photos, some experts and Filipinos who grew up familiar with these plants will be able to identify the names of these trees. (Try the game of 'Name the Trees!')

When I was a child, the saresa or aratiles is one of the favorites when it comes to climbing. Fruit so small like a cherry yet so sweet when ripe and bright red, almost maroon.

The santol and mango sometimes offers a very sour taste. When picked ripe usually of yellowish to golden brown color, these fruits from a santol tree in our backyard is so sweet.

My favorite is the young coconut or buco. The fruit is hard to harvest and very difficult to crack open in order to get the juice and meat. I practiced a lot of times just to be able to open one and has been doing it since then.

Guava or the bayabas has strong branches so ideal for climbing. Fruit is used in cooking native dishes and the ripe fruit can be eaten raw. The 'Y' shaped branch we use to make slings.

In the small Forest of our backyard is the good old kamias. With small leaves and is currently flowering. The fruit is Used in a lot of dishes usually for fish in sour kamyas juice. If it's in season, the tree can support the demands of the entire neighborhood.

The bignay, a tree that has nice umbrella-like shaped branches also has small sour fruits. But the fruit is also sweet when ripe and is black in colored.

The palm bunga tsina is so tall it towers over the other trees.. The fruits, when ripe is eaten by old folks before as nganga.

The sampalok or tamarind tree is a bit dark that looks like it has been there for a couple of decades. I have picked some young leaves from this tree for our sinigang and sinampalukan dishes.

Mabolo is also right in the middle of the mini-forest with nice thin branches and dark green leaves.

The star apple or caimito is really the star of the yard when it is in season. Fruit is so juicy and tastes almost like a sweetened milk.

Sometimes so sour.. sometimes a hint of sweetness.. that is the fruit from the guyabano tree or soursop.

There are still a lot of trees and some other plants in our backyard. Like the calamansi or Philippine lemon that bears fruit the whole year round. Plus bananas and suha or pomelo. In the thicker part of the forest, we have bamboo, pakiling (tree with rough leaves used to clean the pots), banana and other trees unknown to me.

A visit or a simple glance at the backyard is enough to give a fresh start, any time of the day. Even if I am away, our backyard forest is at the back of my mind whenever felt the need to relax.

Oh! it is really refreshing to be in the middle of our backyard forest as I took this photos.

One of the best things here in the Philippines...

Particularly in the province.

A Forest.

Not only in my dreams or in my mind.

But right here...

in our backyard.