What to Expect at Farmer’s Market

After years of hearing about one of the best markets  in town, I was finally able to visit Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago. I didn’t know what to expect in the market (palengke) except for fresh seafood because my friends and even my grandmother recommend buying from Farmer’s. So, I asked my mom if she could accompany me one Saturday morning and she did! My older brother joined us too. Hooray! I loved it! As soon as we got to the place, the first words that came out of my mouth were “Wow! This is a dream come true!”

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Since it was my first time to go there, I just observed and took photographs of the place and people, while my mom did most of the shopping. We also took our time visiting numerous stalls of fruits, fish, seafood, and vegetables. We weren’t able to go through the meat section though because we didn’t need to buy meat at that time. Nonetheless, I enjoyed our sweaty and stinky Saturday morning at the market. I hope I can visit Farmer’s again soon.

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If you haven’t been to Farmer’s market, here are some of the things that you can expect:

FRESH INGREDIENTS

Having fresh ingredients can do wonders to any dish. My mom bought a kilo of fresh medium-sized shrimps and made “Halabos na Hipon” for dinner that night. Because the shrimps were alive and fresh when we bought them, they had a naturally sweet and juicy flavor after they were cooked. Even my dad and other siblings made a comment about how delicious the shrimps were. That was just one of the many ingredients sold at the market. You could just imagine the crisp heads of cabbages and lettuces, the bright and healthy squash flowers, the plump and red tuna fish displayed on the counters, and many more. Oh, yes! The next time I go to Farmer’s, I have to make sure to buy only the ingredients on my list or else, I might end up splurging on a whole lot of good eats.

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AFFORDABLE PRICES

I remember bringing a banana to work with a price tag on it and my colleagues joked about me buying only those fruits and vegetables with brands or those that came from supermarkets. We just laughed about it. But, it got me thinking about my spending habits. I rarely go to the market because we have a supermarket closer to our home. Since it’s more convenient for me, I usually buy raw ingredients there which are more expensive, unfortunately. However, after going to Farmer’s market, I saw the huge difference in the prices compared to those sold in the grocery stores.

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For example, a kilo of orange sweet potato costs Php 40. When we buy this exact kind in the supermarket, it ranges from Php 70-80 per kilo. Another example is the price of shrimps. A kilo of live shrimps in Farmer’s costs around Php 350-400. This is also the same price range of shrimps in the supermarket, but those shrimps aren’t alive anymore. A decade ago, I didn’t really think about the costs of ingredients whenever I would join my mom to her trips to the market. But now, I appreciate buying quality ingredients at the lowest possible prices. I just need to be more intentional in planning when and where to buy the ingredients I need, so I could save more.

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ORGANIZED VENUE

There were four main areas in the market: Flowers/Plants, Fruits/Vegetables, Fish/Seafood, and Meat. Each area had about a hundred stalls. The place was huge! Although it was a bit overwhelming, I enjoyed going through most of them because I saw the various goods sold in the market. The staff members at the market even allowed the customers to borrow steel shopping carts. We just needed to surrender an I.D. This was very helpful for us because we planned to bring home wet seafood and heavy vegetables from the market.

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Our first stop was at the fruits and vegetable section. Most of the stalls had the same kinds of vegetables, but there were some with unique ones like squash flowers, kale, cherries, and fresh goat’s milk. At the far left side of the vegetable section, there was a ramp that led us towards the seafood (my favorite part) and meat sections. Passing by each stall was a pleasant experience for me because I appreciated their beautiful displays of fresh goods. It was also fun to watch some of the vendors do their expertise such as removing the scales of fish, neatly trimming heads of lettuce, grinding coconut meat, slicing fish, or sorting seafood in plastic containers filled with water.

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Also, the vendors in the different areas were friendly. When I was taking a photo of a big tuna head in a pail on the floor, one of the vendors picked up the head and held it in the air so I could take a good photo of it. Haha. There was also a time when I was taking photos of the raw meat being chopped and some of the vendors noticed and smiled at the camera! In a way, it was refreshing to see them work so passionately and cheerfully even if it was so early in the morning. When I go back to Farmer’s, I hope I can give them hard copies of their photos and encourage them to keep up the good work!

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Overall, I think that Farmer’s market has a good and organized system. There were enough spaces along the aisles; fresh vegetables weren’t directly exposed to bacteria/possible contamination from meat since they were placed on a different floor; and the displays were always neatly arranged.

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These are just some of the observations I had. Hopefully, I can drop by Farmer’s again to go around the sections for meat and flowers/plants. Maybe I can finally buy a Tuna head and some lobsters too. Hahaha. I can’t wait until my next trip to the Farmer’s!

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Note: If ever you’re bringing a car, you may park at the Araneta Coliseum parking since they don’t allow parking beside the market.

My Boss’ Wedding

My colleagues and I went on a roadtrip to Batangas yesterday for our boss’ wedding. It was a perfect day to relax, enjoy the company of friends, celebrate with the couple, and of course, take a lot of photos. Haha. While we were on the road, one of my colleagues mentioned that the sad thing about bringing a camera to any event is that the photographer is rarely included in the photos. I do agree that the person behind the camera usually ends up with a few photos of himself/herself at the end of the day. However, I do think that bringing a camera still makes it worth the effort as it depends on the photographer’s purpose and focus.

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As soon as we got to the venue and settled down on our seats, I got my camera and started capturing the moments I observed and the people I was with. As the hours passed by, I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have much photos until my other colleague (who is also into photography) offered to take my photo because he knew that I didn’t have a lot of photos yet. I guess it brings a certain joy to my heart whenever I get to look through the lens, see the beauty in the moment, and preserve the memory. Somehow, having few photos or feeling the heavy weight of the camera while I walk up and down stairs and slopes in my 4-inch heels didn’t seem to matter anymore. It just wasn’t my main focus that day.

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When I think about these things now, I can’t help but remember what I witnessed during my boss’ wedding. There was something about the ceremony, reception, and the hearts of the groom and bride that radiated peace and joy. Even though we can try to attribute it to the couple’s personalities, good weather, beautiful venue, or sincerity of their family members, I know that it was because of Jesus Christ – the focus of yesterday’s celebration.

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When the pastor led the ceremony, he emphasized the importance of two things: 1) Trusting in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and 2) Loving like Him. Also, during the exchange of vows, the groom and bride mentioned this phrase “Now, I am excited to wake up each day…” Before they could finish the sentence, I was expecting them to say something cheesy like “…wake up each day and be beside you.” But, they didn’t. Instead, they said: “Now, I am excited to wake up each day and seek the Lord first, so I could know, love, and serve Him with you.”

That was just an amazing moment.

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In this day and age, whenever we hear the word “marriage”, people usually think that the main focus of it is the love between a husband and his wife. However, it was refreshing to see my boss and her husband publicly declare their commitment to God and to each other yesterday. They shared to their family and friends that their marriage is and will always be by God’s grace and for His glory. Clearly, it wasn’t about them. Even while they were exchanging their vows and honoring their parents, they gave the glory to God. It was encouraging to see them sincerely express their desire to know, love, and serve the Lord together as long as they live.

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One of the major highlights yesterday was the couple’s response to their “wedding bloopers”. There were quite a handful of bloopers in the speeches and technical difficulties. But, they didn’t let these little disappointments rob them of the joy that they had. Their wedding wasn’t about showcasing a perfect event or program. It was an opportunity and a privilege for them to give God the glory as they declare their love for Him and for each other. That was their main purpose and focus last night.

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On our way back to the parking lot, I whispered “Thank You!” to God as I looked to the dark blue sky full of twinkling stars. I didn’t have a tripod with me so I couldn’t take a photo of the breathtaking view. But, in that moment, I remembered what had transpired throughout the day and how God encouraged my heart to focus on Him alone. Not on myself, my limitations, disappointments, or the situations I’m in.

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To my boss and her husband (Woohoo!), I pray that you will grow even more in love with the Lord as you enjoy this new season in your lives. Continue to give him the glory in everything that you do. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us on your special day.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

[Numbers 6:24-26]

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I want to leave you with a song that was played during the reception. It’s called “The Marriage Prayer” by John Waller.

3 Things I Learned from Ice Skating at SM Megamall

It has been more than two years since the last time I skated on ice. I’m not a professional skater, but by God’s grace, I can glide through ice. When my friends invited me to skate yesterday, I got excited because I knew that it would be a fun activity. When I arrived at the skating rink, it looked like it was closed because the lights were turned off. But, I noticed that a lot of people were still skating inside. So, I asked one of their staff members what was happening and she responded by saying: “Ma’am, we just experienced a power shutdown. It started 10 minutes ago and we’re not sure when we’ll have electricity again. You can still try to skate but it might be more slippery.”

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I just stared at her and said “Ohhh. Okay. Thank you!” I walked around the area with a puzzled look on my face. It just didn’t make sense: Brownout + Ice Skating in Manila. Of all the days. Haha. While waiting for my friends to arrive, I went to the comfort room to take a break. Inside, I told God that I knew that He could turn the power back on in a heartbeat if He wanted to. So, even if I was starting to feel a bit disappointed with the situation, somehow, God encouraged me not to fret about it. I also told Him that in case He really didn’t want us to skate that day, I prayed that He would help us choose our next activities wisely.

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After a few minutes, my friends arrived at the place and we decided to line up and buy tickets even if it the rink still didn’t have power. We looked at the rink and saw that the daylight shining through the huge windows provided enough light for the skaters. So, we gave it a try. You wouldn’t believe what happened next. As soon as we stepped on the rubber mat at the entrance of the rink, they turned on he lights! My friends and I looked at each other and shouted: “Whooooaaaa! Ang galing ni God. He really wanted us to skate today! Hahaha.”

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It was just so cool (literally too). When I found out about the brownout, God used that moment to challenge and encourage me to be grateful and content in Him even if our plan to skate would be cancelled or if we would skate without lights. Yesterday’s skating activity was a fun, fun way to cool down on a hot and humid summer day and I thank God for the experience. Here are some of the things I learned from our ice skating activity:

 

1. Be Confident

“Confidence is key.” We said this line over and over throughout our skating experience. It was tough to skate especially since our feet and legs were aching and we sometimes were fearful of losing our balance or falling. But, when we condition our minds to believe that we can do it by God’s grace, wonderful things can happen! It’s not about being confident because of our capabilities. It’s about stepping out in faith and finding confidence in God who is more than able to help us accomplish things. Also, there were times when my friends and I watched other professional skaters casually and beautifully display their skills and tricks on ice. Every single time, our jaws dropped. I couldn’t help but notice and be inspired by their confidence. They knew what they were doing and they weren’t afraid to fall.

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2. Put Your Hands Up

We skated for four hours yesterday and brought home a lot of bruises and body pains. But, it was all worth it. Hahaha. One of the tips that I learned a few years ago when skating with a lot of people is putting my hands up immediately after I fall down. The main reason for this is to avoid getting cut by the blades of the other skaters nearby. Interestingly, yesterday, I fell down at least three times and they were major falls: Twice on my butt and once facing forward. The first few seconds after the fall was quite challenging because I felt dizzy and my hands were sore and red because of the impact on the ice. But, as soon as I became aware of my fall, I laughed and raised my hands up quickly. Thankfully, I had friends beside me who also laughed with me and helped me get back up again. I realized that this tip is applicable not only to ice skating, but to life as well. It reminded me of the importance of learning to immediately surrender to God and ask help when we fall down, make mistakes, or feel like we’ve hit rock bottom. Or ice bottom, in this case. :)

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3. Grow Together

Before yesterday’s activity, we already had a few experiences with ice skating. The common skill that my friends and I had was being able to skate forward without the help of railings. After an hour of skating, we wanted to try out new skills and so, we challenged ourselves to unlock a new achievement together: To skate backwards. By God’s grace, after numerous attempts and falls, we were able to do it by the end of four hours on ice. It was encouraging to learn this new skill because we got to share do’s and don’t’s to each other while we were practicing. It was also fun to laugh with each other whenever we did funny facial expressions and body movements while we were skating backwards. Although we can’t do what the advanced skaters do, we were very much satisfied with seeing our progress on ice. Thankfully, with the electricity back on, we were able to document these things with good lighting. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take videos of the times we fell. That would have been funny and nice. Haha.

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When it was time for us to go, we felt relieved and refreshed to finally remove the shoes off of our feet. We couldn’t stand and walk easily at first. But, just like what one of my friends said yesterday: “I love this paaaain.” I guess he was right. It really was a good experience to feel this kind of pain, to see weaknesses exposed, and to improve even more through the ice skating activity. As I write this post, I still feel certain parts of my body ache. One of my hands is sore, my neck is really stiff, and my lower back is just… sad. Hahahaha. Nonetheless, I thank the Lord for the cool experience. It definitely wouldn’t be my last ice skating adventure.

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Photo Walk inside Intramuros, Manila

A few months ago, I attended a photography workshop inside Intramuros, Manila. I spent four Saturdays learning more about how to maximize my camera and how to see things and moments through different perspectives. It really was quite an experience for me. Interestingly, some of my photographer colleagues invited me to join them for a photo walk earlier this month. I was only expecting a tour around the city where our office is located, but then, they mentioned Intramuros. Suddenly, a flashback of wonderful memories whirled in my mind and I found myself immediately saying “Yes!”.

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It was good to be back! Despite our sweat, sunburn, aching muscles, and the intense heat that day, my colleagues and I enjoyed our time together. It was very refreshing to explore the simplicity and beauty of Intramuros, Manila. One of the things that I appreciate most about our photo walk is the little things we witnessed as we strolled around the streets. From seeing heart-shaped leaves on wild vines to observing Korean tourists learn more about our history and culture to being in awe of random patterns in the buildings, trees, walkways, and fences. The next time I visit Intramuros, I would probably try riding the bikes made out of bamboo. Oh, and I think it would be lovely to watch the sunset too.

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The photo walk that we had was like a breath of fresh air. It was nice to do something creative outside of the office with my colleagues. It was also a good practice for me because it was an opportunity for me to apply some of the things that I learned in the photography workshop. On our way home that day, I was reminded of how nice it is to be intentional in seeing the good and beauty in things. I realized that it is easy to take things, people, and places for granted, especially when we see them everyday. But, even in the most random moments in life, we can learn to appreciate what God has already blessed us with.

Here’s to more photo walks in the near future! Any suggestions? :)

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