Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Like Iloilo!

Some places you’ll visit will impress you for any one or several of these reasons: the people, historical landmarks, natural beauty of the place, recreational activities, and of course, food.

Other than its centuries-old churches, I liked Iloilo for its food and pasalubong, the delicacies you can bring home with you to give to your loved ones. When I visited Iloilo City, I knew I should eat the real La Paz Batchoy—by real I mean not just the instant noodles sold in supermarkets and sari-sari store. This was my chance to savor the popular noodle and soup dish where it originated—right here in La Paz, Iloilo.

Our host first treated us to a hot bowl of La Paz Batchoy at Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy. It was there that I learned that La Paz Batchoy takes on different forms—noodles actually. You can have it served with your choice of noodles—meke, miswa, sotanghon or bihon. I ordered meke batchoy and my senses had a feast! The aroma of kaldo--the shrimp and chicken broth flavored by garlic--wafted throughout the restaurant making me drool with hunger. The colorful display of yellow round noodles swimming in shrimp and chicken stock, garnished with pork organs (liver, kidneys), crushed pork cracklings, green onion spring, brown toasted garlic, and strips of beef loin made the dish look more palatable. And true enough, its salty-sweet, flavor-rich hot soup made my first day in Iloilo a treat.

Before leaving Iloilo, we tried batchoy again for breakfast, this time, at Deco’s Original La Paz Batchoy. I tried miswa batchoy with another local pride—pre-war pandesal. The pre-war pandesal is a petite bread and the shop’s cashier said it’s so called because that’s how bread in the area looked like before the war. The bowl of batchoy and pre-war pandesal satisfied once again my stomach and senses.

Within the same building is the Deco’s Pasalubong Shop where you can buy a wide range of sweets and other delicacies—piaya, butterscotch, biscocho, barquillos, broas, polvoron, and even dried fish, chili sauce and mango catsup. What’s nice about Deco’s is that they have a complimentary box to pack your goodies. This is especially helpful for travelers like us who will bring home the pasalubong to our loved ones back home.

One of the joys of traveling is savoring the local cuisine and bringing a part of it back home. In Iloilo, you’ll always enjoy food, and buy delicacies for your loved ones back home.

“That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:13

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Happy Hairdresser

I came early to the parlor to avoid the influx of customers wanting to be served and pampered. True enough, I was instantly accommodated by one of the parlor’s hairdressers. He was big, but his bulky body was cloaked in blue blazer. His one-length hair flowed down to his nape, and yes it was colored too. His face was covered with foundation, and his lips painted in red.

When I told him how I want my hair to be done, he quickly nodded and asked no question. I doubted at first if he was really listening, but then I figured he must be an expert already after trimming thousands of tresses.

We didn’t talk much at first. Well, I’m not much of a talker really when I’m in a parlor, but I try to say something to be polite to the hairdresser. So when he and the other hairdressers chattered about Manny Pacquiao’s coming fight with Margarito, I took that opportunity to make a comment and strike a conversation with him. He then asked about my children and I obliged. He said he’d like to shape my eyebrows, but I refused (I don’t shave nor pluck my eyebrows). Later though, I changed my mind and let him mow my brow.

When he finished cutting my hair, I honestly like the way it turned out. So I said, “You did a good job! I like my hair.”

I saw him blushed, obviously surprised at the compliment. For a second, he was speechless and his eyes turned a bit red. Then he murmured something like “I’m not really good.” I know he was embarrassed by the comment, like many people are, when they are complimented. Maybe they couldn’t believe they were really good because they rarely hear it from the people that matter.

According to Maslow, one of man’s needs is the need for self-esteem--the need to be a unique individual with self-respect and to enjoy general esteem from others. How many hairdressers, taxi drivers, bank tellers, customer service agents, janitors, vendors and other people who serve us have we appreciated, much less greeted? These people who help us, who make life easier and happier for us, especially those who do well, also seek our affirmation.

I went out of the parlor satisfied with my new hairstyle (and shaved eyebrows). But I knew I left one happy hairdresser back there.