Sunday, December 30, 2007

Edible Memories

Coming back home always triggers so many great memories. I was leafing through some old photo albums my mom and dad have at home, and I spotted one that collected a few pictures from when we were living in Hong Kong. Here's a pic that pretty much sums up just how big of a nerd I was back then (and now!). I remember my Brother shoving the comic books in my back to add just that nice amount of dorkdom into the picture. I was quite the chubby kid back then.

I loved to eat! In fact, I think I tie so many good memories I have to food (if you couldn't tell from my previous posts). Anyway, more nostalgia abounds as my parents pulled out one of the old shirts I made from my old HKIS (Hong Kong International School) days. From the looks of it, I had a lot of John Byrne influence going on in this drawing from High School. See that ammo strap? Those are really little pencil-bullets! Genius. A calculator gun and ruler sword? Avant Garde!
And speaking of High School, I met up with an old friend of mine from HKIS, who has since moved back to the Philippines. John and I used to play basketball together with our 'crew' called the MTBA (I'll leave that acronym undefined: let your imagination go wild). Ol' John played Shooting Guard, while I played Power Forward. We went to Fort Bonifacio's High Street area and hit the local arcade called Timezone.
Of course we had to play the b-ball arcade game for old times sake! We played 3 games and suffice to say, I got pwned hardcore by John. But my saving grace is that I grabbed a lot of rebounds from when my shots bricked hard off of the rim.
We also hit some other spots, like the newly opened Mall of Asia, a huge mall built on reclaimed land on Manila Bay. It's a nice gigantic mall, and John and I got lost in it a bunch of times.We headed out to the 'Baywalk' area after going through the mall and were gonna check out the nice sunset but unfortunately it was too cloudy for that. It was great to see the Bay. My country is such a beautiful place, it always awes me how amazing and picturesque it can actually be.

But then I'll look at the bays' garbage infested
shoreline and it makes me sad we don't take better care of it. There were tons of these weird insects skittering about that John and I have lovingly dubbed 'sea-ipis'. "Ipis" means "cockroach" in Tagalog. Sigh.

We headed over to BF Homes Paranaque for some Brother's Burger for some dinner. I grew up in this subdivision, so it was quite startling to see all the progress that's been made since I've been gone. Anyway, the Burger was great. 'American Style' but it stil
l had a slight filipino taste to it.
And for Dessert we hit Conti's and I had a slice of Mango Bravo. Conti's management used to run this place my family ate at called Dates and Nuts. So eating there was nostalgia city.
Tangent: The Philippines has a lot of pirated goods that the government has been cracking down on, but still there's a lot of places that still have it. I never even knew this stuff was illegal until I moved to Hong Kong (which has it's own fair share of the pirated stuff, too). I always thought that was okay! I've even been to one where they had it's own security guard in proper uniform and everything. (I didn't buy anything though! Honest!) I did find it awesomely odd to see they had a pirated copy of "Zapped" starring Scott Baio. End Tangent.
Okay! Comic book time! Here's another comic in my collection that was re-printed in the Philippines: Plop #16. It's a comedy, satire-ish comic with a slight EC-eqsue twist. It features stories like a guy who turns into a frog when kissed or a dude that falls in love with a dandelion. Yeah, mull that over a I think I really liked the art when I picked this up as a kid, and I'm glad to see that I actually had some taste back then! Lemme give you a line up of the art inside, and see if you can disagree with me! The cover is done by Wally Wood with a Sergio Aragones collage/border! The pages that bookend the interiors I believe are also Aragones but since there are no credits on it I can't really verify that (They look cool though!). Sidenote: These first and last pages introduced me to DC's Cain, Abel and Eve, way before I saw them again resurface in Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
Then comes a short by Ric Estrada called the "Make-out Queen of Lord Byron High!" I don't think I even understood what "make-out" meant back then! Those crazy Americans! Anyway, I remember enjoying a lot of the characters Ric Estrada had drawn in that short, especially his depiction of the impossibly untouchable make-out queen herself, Sylvia Glutz.

I remember not quite understanding the dark humor in the next short called: "Love is a Dandy!" back then. It featured a guy who fell in love with a dandelion and ends with a punchline of him killing his uber hot/health-conscious neighbor for cook
ing his flora-and-fauna-flame for dinner. Yep, "The Magazine of weird humor" indeed.
Still, I remember enjoying that tale even if I didn't quite understand that humor back then. I remember liking the art a lot, and this is where I can pat myself on the back for having great taste even as a young, chubby, comic book nerd; I recently discovered who the artists for this short were. The credits list the artwork done by "S. Ditko and W. Wood"! Awesome! Melody, the plant loving main character's (Hubert's) friend definitely looks like a Wally Wood girl. However, Huberts' poses look straight up Steve Ditko. I just watched a great BBC documentary about Steve Ditko recently and realize that mr. Ditko is very particular about his artwork. I wonder if he liked his collaboration with Wally Wood?Anyways, I really liked the art in Plop #16, hope you enjoy some of the scans I've posted up! That's all out of me for now! God Bless and have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Churros, Burgers and uh... Christmas Bread!

I didn't get a chance to post during Christmas, so a belated Merry Christmas from The Neverending Battle to you! I'm currently spending the night over at my sister's house and am absolutely taking advantage of the faster computer she has to update my blog.

A lot of things have been going on since my last post... mainly eating! I've already gained a good 5 pounds since I've been here, so I'm going to have to limit my eating a bit so I don't end up like the Blob. Though I have to admit it's hard to do so when I know I won't be able to eat again until the next time I come back to the Philippines.

My mom, my sister and I had lunch at this filipino restaurant called "Dulcinea". They have some good food there, but the real draw for us was the dessert: "Churros". Unlike the versions I can find in San Francisco, the Churros in the Philippines are usually not as sugary and served with a nice cup of hot chocolate. The churros are crisp and light while the hot chocolate compliments it being nice and thick. The chocolate flavor is pure, so it's not too sweet (but it's not exactly dark chocolate either). Take my word for it, it's great!

I went with my nephew and my Brother to Manila's International Port in my last post. My brother finished work at around 1:30 AM that night and we had all forgotten to eat dinner. So we went to another great place I loved when I was a kid. It was this fast food place called "Tropical Hut". The burgers filipinos are accustomed to are unlike the burgers served in the states. We usually add a little bit of a "sweeter" flavor to our burgers. I honestly can't quite describe it, maybe it has a pork flover to it? Sugar? I dunno. But I'm not sure if foreigners would take to it. But hey, if you're in the Philippines give it a shot! It's a burger that I always crave when I come back home. I remember I kinda had to get used to the 'blander' taste of Burgers (I suppose that's actually the 'real' beef flavor) when I first came to the states. Anyways, I love Tropical Hut hamburgers!

Okay, my Brother knows I'm craving some old school 'filipino' food. Mainly the stuff I grew up with. For some reason, it's stuck in my head when my brother took me to this bakery in our area and he bought me this bread and soda (soda bottles cost money so usually back then the soda was poured into a plastic bag!).The bread has this red sweet stuff in it; what it's made out of I have no idea. Anyways, my Brother had some of this bread sent to our house the other day. It's called a very peculiar name: "Pan de Regla". Pan is bread. Now, Regla in Tagalog means a woman's period.


So, I guess that red sweet stuff is kinda like the color of when a woman menstruates. Yum. I double checked with my family just to see if maybe I just knew the slang and didn't know what it was really called, but that's what they know it as! My mom decided to give bread a little dignity and dubbed it: "Christmas Bread". Anyway, my mom sliced it up and served it with this great cheese that you can only get in Philadelphia. It was a great combination.

Okay, our comic segment for this post comes in the form of DC comics presents number 48. It features Superman and Aquaman fighting thise alien race of octopi that can go toe-to-toe against Aquaman's marine controling powers (yes really). It's also got a sequence of Aquaman and Superman fighting (of course) and Superman being controlled by Aquaman while the man of steel was unconscious (I had no idea he could do that).

But the real draw of this book comes in the form of the back-up story featuring the Black Pirate. When ever I come back home I find I become increaqsingly curious as to the state of Filipino comics past and present. I buy a bunch of locally produced comic books, good or bad, just to see what kind of stuff we can produce. I only started getting interested in filipino comics when I came back from the states after college. I've been trying to catch up ever since. So when I noticed that the Black Pirate back up story was done by a filipino, it tickled my fancy. The artist in question is none other than Alfredo Alcala. Mr. Alcala was one of the filipino talents that migrated to the states way back when. He's got an amazing sense of light and composition. He's and amazing draftsman and absolutely awesome with pen and ink. His stuff is astounding.
I've always felt bad that I never was influenced by the old filipino "Komiks" guys when I was growing up. I feel I've been influenced by so much Western comics, that I'm not connected to the evolution of filipino comics. Their sense of anatomy and linework is just something distinctly filipino and it's something that I lack. Sigh. Anyways, I can always just keep drooling over their stuff until it hopefully seeps into my own! That's it for tonight! God Bless you all and Good night!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


What a difference rest makes! I just skimmed over my last entry, before starting up this one, and suffice to say, the tone of this post will be in the opposite direction! The main reason? I'm on vacation!

Production is still pretty insane at work, but my boss was kind enough to let me take some time off so that I can visit my family in the Philippines; I haven't been back home in 2 years. I get to spend Christmas and New Years with my family. Today's my third day here, I've met up with my brother and sisters and their respective families already; however there's a lot of catching up to be done still!

I find everytime I go home it's this odd mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. I get so used to living in the United States, the first few days coming back usually throws me off. I'm glad to be home though! I feel like I trap myself in work mode so much in the states, that when I come home to the Philippines, it's snaps me out of that funk, and resets my world and brings me back down to Earth. It's good to be home.

My favorite food when I was growing up was this dish called "Champurado". It's chocolate rice porridge. Sometimes, you can add little dried fish (called "dilis") onto it to give it a little texture and contrast. While the rest of the planet will probably find that utterly disgusting (and show case it in an episode of Fear Factor or something) , I absolutely love LOVE it. My mom told me when I was young I wanted her to make my birthday cake out of it! This morning my mom made some because she knew I was craving it, and I tell ya, it was great to wake up to it's smell! I scarfed down copius amounts of it (She made it using Ghirardelli chocolate too, to boot)! Here's my mom and dad modeling my beloved foodage.

Coming home also brings back a ton of memories and nostalgia. My mom actually kept a lot of the old comic books I used to collect when I lived in the Philippines and in Hong Kong. I was just rifling through some of it today and it's actually kind of fun to see what I was reading back then.

Back when I was growing up in the Philippines, comic books were really expensive (at least for my allowance). It was hard to actually get books in sequential order, and on top of that it was also hard to get books of the same title. I'm guessing the comic books that got exported here, were overruns of some sort or books that didn't get sold in the comic book shops. From my point of view it just seemed like some dude randomly grabbed as many comic books as he could, shoved them in a box and shipped them to the Philippines. It was really hard for me to keep track of any one storyline. So I have a bunch of random titles in my collection, not rare mind you, just absolutely disjointed.

So, I'll try to spotlight some of these books with my entries while I'm here in the Philippines. First up at bat is Jack Kirby's Mr. Miracle. In my older post I mentioned that I didn't understand "the King Kirby" when I was younger. But I have to admit this book left an impression on me (as well as his "Sandman" book). I loved Big Barda and the Female Furies! I think that may have been one of my first exposures to women superheroes being so kick butt. Literally! I mean "Stompa"! C'mon how cool is that! Anyway, the whole concept of a super escape artist was very different to me too, something new.

Also, I believe Mr. Miracle's mask, served as a subconscious inspiration later on in high school when I created this bad guy called "The Gatler" (I'll see if I can find a copy of that character somewhere)! In hindsight, it's funny how Kirby seemed to have left a pretty distinct impression on me when I was young even though I didn't like his artwork at the time because it made me nauseous!

This issue is actually a reprint: the 'Philippine' print. Apparently, a bunch of comic books were reprinted in the Philippines back when I was growing up there. All the original adds were pulled out and it was sold for a much cheaper price as well. While in hindsight that's actually really awesome, back then I didn't really feel these were 'cool' because they weren't the real deal. I was kind of an import snob (though I do have a lot of these re-prints in my collection in the Philippines).

Another interesting tid bit: I believe a majority of these re-printed comics usually featured a filipino artist in them (of course not Mister Miracle!). So I got exposed in some way or another to Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala and Tony Dezuniega's works. I remember the comics were some fairly old titles too: GI Combat, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tarzan and Plop! being a few among them. I remember picking up a Phantom Stranger with a back-up of Doctor Thirteen in it and thinking that was the coolest thing ever. I'll try to see if I can dig that up!

Anyway, that's it for today! I leave you with a jet-lagged, and yet a well-rested God Bless and Good night !

*Side note: I'm actually posting this on the 21st of December. I thought I'd be blogging like a maniac during my vacation, but my parents computer is so amazingly old I can't even post up any pics (a Pentium 3)! I'm at my brother's laptop now over at Manila International Port with my nephew, passing the time as my brother finishes up a project (he's got a much faster computer!). Anyway, I think it's probably safe to say I won't be blogging quite as much as I'd like!
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