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12 Things I Didn’t Know (But Now Do!) About Davao, Philippines

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It’s funny the reactions I get when I tell people I love outdoorsy adventures. It seems I come across as so, but I’m really not that girly. Well, I do have an obsession with makeup and all things beauty-related, but I wouldn’t hesitate going on new adventures, jumping into rivers, zipping across lush greenery on a rope, cycling 60 feet above ground.

Some things on my Bucket List: swimming with sharks, skydiving, and hang gliding. I hope I get to accomplish these in this lifetime.

So of course I said YES when presented the chance to go on an adventure-oriented trip to Davao, Philippines!

This trip opened my eyes to the incredible sights and sounds of Davao City and here I share 12 things I didn’t know (but now do!) about Davao, Philippines.

1. That It Exists

When people think of the Philippines, they think of Manila, Cebu or the popular beach capital that is Boracay. When I first got wind that I was going on a trip to Davao, my response was “Huh? Where?” and so were all the responses when I told my family and friends where I was going. Haha.

It’s okie if you’ve never heard of Davao before either because it was, and still remains, a well-kept secret to mass tourism. That’s why they have plenty of unspoiled white sandy beaches and marine-rich waters filled with underwater creatures still unacquainted with humans.

Davao city is located in Southeastern Mindanao and is approximately 946 km southeast of Manila over land, and 971 km by sea.

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2. Be Close To Nature

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Being close to nature and embracing Mother Nature’s beauty is a great respite for city dwellers (ME) who are cooped up in a cocoon of concrete walls. We didn’t get lighting fast internet connection all the time, but that forced us to put our phones aside and simply take in the glory of what this Earth has to offer instead of living through our screens.

The government has been actively developing and promoting an eco-tourism program to exhibit the diversity of the country and the activities it has to offer.

At Eden Nature Park’s Butterfly Garden, thousands of butterflies fluttered around us, pollinating flowers, mating, and basically just going about their daily business, while we screamed in silence when a butterfly gently landed on us. LOL.

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Best Les Miserables Dream Cast In A Perfect World

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The musical that has been seen by an audience of over 70 million worldwide in 42 countries, sweeping over 125 major awards internationally, and which I have watched various versions repeatedly is coming to our sunny shores! The hit musical, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, has returned to Singapore for the first time in TWENTY years.

AND I AM GOING TO WATCH IT!! 😀 OMGOMG I’m such a huge fan of Les Miserables you cannot imagine. It’s such a dream come true to be able to watch the musical LIVE.

Update: I watched the musical and thoroughly enjoyed it! 😀 Here’s my review >> Les Mis Singapore 2016

It’s not fair to pit actors from the movie against singers from the musicals because they’re inherently differently mediums performed for different audiences. So here’s my idea of a Les Miserables dream cast in my perfect world for a musical, where one possesses the voice and presence to sing for a 5-digit audience size, not just in front of a camera.

Before that, a little history here first. Many people think Les Miserables is about the French Revolution of 1789-99. Truth is, Les Miserables is actually set 26 years after this Revolution, and concerns a rebellion that occurred in Paris in June 1832 against the rule of King Louis-Philippe. I only understood this after watching the movie.

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(screenshots from Les Miserables 2012)

My Les Miserables addiction began after watching the movie twice. I then watched the 10th anniversary (original broadway 1985) and 25th anniversary (2010) on YT. The full videos have since been taken down due to copyright issues, but if you know the way of the Internet, it isn’t that hard to look. Heh.

The movie was fantastic for it provided a visual framework for all that story-singing to happen. If I had watched the broadway musicals before the movie, I wouldn’t have understood half of it. The movie helped me understand the little details so that I can further appreciate the musicals.

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Childhood Chap Chye With Red Fermented Bean Curd – Grandma Would Be Proud

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When I was growing up, besides the other fabulous food and snacks and angbaos, what I looked forward to the MOST on the first day of Chinese New Day was the chap chye borne out of my grandmother’s kitchen.

Most kids who grew up in a Chinese family would have grown up with chap chye in some form. There are plenty of ways to make chap chye, and they all differ in taste – some are made with stock, some have taojio (salty fermented soya bean), some add flour, some add belachan, some make it soupy, some make it thick.

The one made by my grandmother was a meatless version. My dad said eating vegetarian chap chye on the first day of Chinese New Year represents a cleansing of the system, the welcoming of a brand new year. Something like that.

Despite its origins being a vegetarian dish, there are plenty of recipes that incorporate prawns, dried shrimps, pork belly, sotong. So whatever makes you and your family happy! =D

The Peranakans have their own methods, the Cantonese have their own dish origins, the Hokkiens seem to have their own secret theories too. But to me, it matters not the origins of the chap chye, but the taste of childhood.

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Why We Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day

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Yesterday my husband and I finally got to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, at the place we got married one year ago. Correction – technically it should be 1 year and 5 months. But that’s okie since we’ve never been big on dates and anniversaries. We’ve been together for so long we don’t even remember when we actually got together 11 years ago.

Here’s a little story on our childhood romance if you’re interested. 😉

Depending on your current status, I guess Valentine’s Day can either can a loving or cursed day. As far as I can remember, I never understood what the fuss about Valentine’s Day was, why people bothered buying gigantic overpriced bouquet of flowers or getting stacked like sardines next to a ton of other couples or why all these only happened on one day of the year. It always seemed a bit contrived and quite unromantic. Obviously the pressure to conform comes mostly from advertisers and retailers who created the need, making it sound like if you don’t shower your lover with gifts on February 14, then you’re not expressing your love well.

But shouldn’t love be celebrated and exhibited every day?

Mr Mode and I tried celebrating Valentine’s Day on the actual day a couple of times (back when we were young and carefree lol), and to be honest they didn’t feel any more special than any other day. Just more expensive, more forced, more pre-packaged.

As his 32-year-old self replied ‘just another day’ when I asked what Valentine’s Day means to him, I too feel that Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean anything except for the meaning we give it. It should not be a way to gauge your self worth or commitment to your partner. I’m not saying that Valentine’s Day is bad, but it shouldn’t make you feel less assured of your love or that buying expensive gifts and dinner means you’ve done your part in the relationship.

Instead of professing eternal love on that one special day, I would think fostering romance every day and sprinkling little surprises into daily life is the stuff love is made of.

When you are tempted to complain that he isn’t romantic (I do, sometimes), try making a list of things to remind yourself that he does, in his own quiet ways. This is particularly effective if your husband is shy and introverted or a hopeless non-romantic, like mine!

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Salted Egg Yolk Cookies In Octopus Man-Heart Shape

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Salted eggs are most commonly found at tze char stalls in Singapore as people like eating them with rice or porridge. The yolks are also an important ingredient in mooncakes. I like the yolk while Mr Mode likes the white. In recent years salted egg yolks have gained so much popularity they can now be found in anything from chicken/pork/ribs/crabs/prawns, fries, pizza, pasta, ice-cream, vegetables, etc. Not forgetting liu sha bao! 😀

I wondered if anyone would make cookies with salted eggs, and indeed there are! I researched on a few recipes to conclude this one that I’ll be sharing today. 😀

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Salted Egg Yolk Cookies

Makes about 70 cookies

Ingredients

Pastry:
85g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
40g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cooked salted egg yolks, mashed
125g all purpose flour
10g corn flour
1/8 tsp baking powder

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Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chunks Walnut Muffins Recipe

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Well, I wouldn’t call it a ‘new year resolution’, but one thing I want to do in 2016 is to venture into the world of cooking and baking. It’s been a dream come true to have my own kitchen and space and every day I just want to come home and spend hours in the kitchen making something. It’s such a stress reliever and mood lifter. When I’m sad I bake, when I’m happy the more I want to bake! 😀

I love pumpkin, and it was such a joy to find that pumpkin makes a great ingredient for muffins. Incorporate a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to further enhance the taste of pumpkin for a perfect combination! Use chocolate chunks so they melt in a imperfectly beautiful and rustic manner, and add walnuts for crunch. Yum yum!!

Here’s my version of Pumpkin-Chocolate Chunks-Walnut Muffins, adapted from 2 recipes. I tried three times in total, the second time I failed coz I forgot to put baking powder so they turned out like Japanese mochi instead HAHA.

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