Adobo Journal

Here I am again, craving for something that is totally far from me. Waaaaaaah, I miss the spicy chicken adobo of my sister and the yummy and tender pork adobo of my father.

How I wish they were here to cook my favorite food. 😦

Adoboone of the most famous and most delicious dishes in the Philippines, aside from sinigang and lechon.

The classic Chicken Adobo of the Philippines. Photo credits to EatingWell Magazine (Goode, JJ; March/April 2018)

It’s cooked using vinegar or calamansi, soy sauce, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, onions, garlic, and chili (but optional). Aside from such ingredients, pineapple and potatoes are also added to add a distinct taste. Of course, meat or seafoods are also part of the ingredients (or just vegetables if you are vegetarian or vegan).

Do you know that adobo recipe has many variations? Well, it really depends on the region where you are residing. But whatever region you are in, it does not really matter. The most important thing is that adobo is so delicious. No doubt.

Have you ever eaten pork adobo? chicken adobo? or the combination of the two? These are the common adobo recipes in the Philippines, but wait, there are more to challenge your taste buds.

The undeniably yummy Pork Adobo. Photo credits to Panlasang Pinoy (by Vanjo Merano)

Aside from chicken and pork adobo, I also like adobong atay ng manok at baboy (chicken/pork liver adobo). Honestly, I like it a little sweet and spicy and with lots of onions. That’s why I request or I cook adobo with pineapples.

Grrrrr, this makes me really hungry. Helpppppppppppppp!

Adobong isda (fish adobo), adobong sitaw (string beans adobo) and adobo rice are also three of my choices. They are easy to make and the ingredients aes that I have not yet tried cooking or eating like adobong pork chop, adobong bulalo (beef shank adobo), bok choy adobo, adobong mani (peanut adobo), adobong labong (bamboo shoot adobo), adobo meatballs, adobong kangkong (water spinach adobo) and pork adobo with tofu.

Shrimp Adobo—looks inviting huh! Photo credits to Fresh Tastes: A Celebration of Food and Cooking; recipe and photo by Mr. Marc Matsumoto.

I know that there are still other adobo recipes out there, but due to my allergy to seafood, I cannot eat them now. What are those? Well, adobong pusit (squid adobo), adobong hipon (crispy shrimp adobo), adobong hipon sa gata (shrimp adobo in coconut milk), and adobong tahong (mussels adobo) are also parts of adobo family. Wew! What a list huh. Thanks to Panlasang Pinoy for providing a list of different adobo recipes in the Philippines.

Enough of these or I will start to drool over adobo recipes I am thinking at the moment.

P.S. I really miss my family in the Philippines, with or without their adobo dishes. Promise!

Anyway, I have to sleep soon.

Gute Nacht. Bis Morgen.

-JL

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Filipino Roots

The ever meaningful Philippine Flag. Photo credits to my husband.

As you all know, I am an expat living in Central Europe but I am very proud of my Filipino roots.

I love Philippines. I really do. In fact, I consider it as the best home ever despite all the not-so-good issues that its citizens complain about.

The camaraderie. The hospitality. The love and warmth. The happiness. The Pinoy resiliency. And yes, the Filipino spirit. These make Philippines the best home ever for me.

It’s not that I don’t love Hong Kong and my husband’s country. I love both with all my heart, but as a Filipino, my heart always go with my first home and first lovePHILIPPINES.

I may be away from home, but I think of it every day. No joke. I might be speaking Deutsch most of the time now, but that does not surpass the great value of Tagalog in me.

And if you are to ask me whether I am happy or not in my husband’s country, of course I will say I am HAPPY, but you know, I can’t help but to think of my parents and siblings back of home.

I am definitely happy here with my own family, but this will never change the fact that I also miss Mama, Papa, my sister and my brother and their own families.

Moreover, questions like these occupy my mind…

What is my family doing at the moment”

“Are they ok?”

“How are my friends in there?”

“How’s the education in the Philippines?”

“What happened to my former students?”

“What’s new in my hometown?”

“What are the current events there?”

“When will be my next vacation to my beloved country?”

Oh, how I miss Philippines. Really!

Five months of being away from my home country isn’t easy. More difficult than being away from Hong Kong.

It might take three to four years from now before I get to visit Philippines again. Seems like an eternity huh. But yes, I have to wait. Good thing, I have lots of patience. Anyway, time is just fleeting.

After a few years, I’m back again. How excited I am to see my family and close friends on my next vacation. To spend quality time with them and to see them happy are what I dream of once in a while.

It might not be too soon, but at least, it will happen in the near future. I hope and pray that my family and friends in the Philippines will be (and are) always healthy and safe.

Trusting God is what I do now. In time, my family, friends and I will meet again. That’s for sure.

For now, I just have to be contented to having our daily communication via Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Whatasapp. I am really grateful to these social media platforms. They make it easier for me to connect with my home country and of course, to my dearest family back home.

My Filipino roots will stay with me as long as I live. Wherever I go, whichever language I speak, whatever foreign food I eat or whatever lifestyle I adapt to, these will never change the fact that I am a Filipino, by blood and by heart.

Mahal kita, Pilipinas. Pangako, babalik ako. Kitakits ha.

We hired a helper in Hong Kong

I was not born with a silver spoon. Neither had I a nanny when I was a kid.

For me, hiring a helper was never an option while living as an expat in Hong Kong, but…

Bunny #2 became a surprise!

Having a hard time with my second pregnancy while taking care of our little bunny gave my husband an idea of hiring a domestic helper.

I was against the thought beforehand, but my body said otherwise. I was weak and nauseated most of the time, so my husband still encouraged me to look for someone who could be with me and our bunny.

Five times of puking every day and having loss of appetite, plus the tiring household chores prompted me to agree to my husband’s idea.

I joined a group of foreign domestic helpers on Facebook and advertised our hiring. I posted there the requirements and asked those who were interested to contact me afterwards for a possible interview. By the way, I was looking for a hardworking and dedicated Filipino domestic helper back then.

A lot of applicants messaged me, but I shortlisted them to make it easier for me to choose the right helper/nanny. I had four candidates then, and told my husband that I already set an interview with them. He said ok, so that’s it.

The interviews with those Filipino workers went well. It was really hard to choose and break someone’s heart, but we had to decide asap. In the end of our search, we chose a Filipina from Ilocos region, two years younger than I am and have her own family in the Philippines.

Actually, hiring her was not easy, because she was terminated by her previous employer. Based on Hong Kong immigration law, she should go back to Philippines first while waiting for her working visa with us. And that her papers should be processed by a recognized agency in Hong Kong. Fair Employment Agency came to our rescue.

The agent assigned to us was very helpful and attentive to our needs. She sent me updates regarding the hiring of the Filipina worker. We really had a great choice of agency, despite the fact that they were not a cheap agency to begin with.

Everything was processed by the agency. I just had to give them some pertinent papers to send to the Immigration. Of course, my husband and Charm (her nickname) needed to sign some papers in the office of Fair Agency. Two days after, Charm flew back to Philippines to process her papers in the local agency there and waited for her visa to arrive.

We waited two months and 2 weeks for her to be with us. Actually, we were having vacation here while she was in the Philippines.

I had to rebook my flight from Switzerland to Hong Kong because my baby then was sick, and also had to rebook Charm’s flight due to strong typhoon in Northern Philippines. Anyway, all was well afterwards. My bunny and I went back to Hong Kong and waited for our helper to arrive. Three days after our arrival, she came to Hong Kong.

In her first day, I gave her a sort of orientation. Giving her some house rules was very important for me so as to avoid some misunderstanding in the future. She was hardworking, dedicated, obedient and nice. My husband and I were lucky for having her hired.

Despite the expenses we spent for her papers and flight, we had no regrets because she was really a great help in our household. Thank God!

Charm’s duties were as follow: making breakfast, doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom and the living room. My difficult pregnancy did not hinder me from making our dinner. Why did I have to make or cook our dinner? Well, my husband used to work from Mondays to Fridays and the only time we could be together was during the dinner on weekdays and yes, weekends as well. I told our helper that I still wanted to perform my duties as wife to my husband and cooking dinner was one of them.

Would you believe that I was able to make our dinner until the 8th month of my pregnancy? During Charm’s day off, even breakfast and lunch! I also took care of our bunny’s needs like giving her shower or bath, feeding her, and playing with her. Wew.. tiring but all worth it. Good thing, my nausea stopped after our European vacation. From fifth toward the last month of my pregnancy, I regained my strength and went back to being healthy. Gott sei Dank!

Going back to Charm’s tasks, she also accompanied me sometimes to my checkup or if not, she took care of our bunny. During my ninth month of pregnancy until the second month of my postpartum, she took care of baby S. I was touched because she treated her like her own, and for us, it was a sweet gesture.

Whenever we went out for lunch or dinner, she was with us. Charm was given freedom to choose her food and drinks when we were in a restaurant. I was the one feeding baby S., and not she. All she had to do was to carry the baby bag or sometimes took care of our bunny while I was in the restroom.

When my parents-in-law visited us in Hong Kong, she had not much tasks to do because we were out most of the time. She was even with us when we went to Macau, not as a nanny, but as a friend joining our group. She was indeed thankful for our nice treatment toward her.

She was not treated like a nanny, but a family member. My husband and I were not rich and neither of us have had a nanny before, so we were really against the idea of treating her like a slave or so. For us, she was (and still) a friend in our household.

Moreover, her dayoff was on Sunday and on Saturday but very seldom. Her busiest day was Monday; there she had a lot to do, but most of the days, she had free time. After our lunch, she had two hour-break and at three pm, she would make our snacks or accompanied me to the harbour while walking, or played with baby S in the park. Then, around 5:30, we were back to the apartment and there she was taking care of our bunny while I was preparing for dinner.

By the way, with regards to her stay with us, we told her on her interview that she would not be with us longer; not that we wanted her out, but due to the fact that we had to relocate soon (hubby’s work contract was about to end then). She had a year to work for us and that’s it.

But after our vacation in the Philippines in February this year, we told her that we had to relocate sooner than expected. We were both sad because she had become a family. Charm even cried after hearing my husband’s decision. Instead of being with us for a year, she only stayed with us for nine months.

I helped her to find a new employer. My friend (who’s also a Filipino domestic helper) recommended Charm to her employer’s BFF. The British couple wanted to hire her after interviewing her and calling me in March.

She was happy that she was able to find a new employer shortly before we parted ways. We gave her recommendation letter plus the other mandatory payment.

Her last day with us was also my and the kids’ last day in Hong Kong. We cried a river before parting ways. It was really an emotional day for all of us.

We may have relocated here but we maintain our communication until now. She misses us and the feeling is mutual. During her day off (Sunday), we also talk, so she can see the kids.

It’s very nice to know that we have not just had a helper/nanny in our household in Hong Kong, but also a friend.

We hope to see her again someday. In Hong Kong or maybe in the Philippines.

Missing Charmie.

End of my uber long post haha. Till next time!

-JL