Saturday, November 28, 2009

tlc Tea

Boil chunks of ginger with a few cloves and some cinnamon bark in a pot of water. It's lovely for a sore throat or just a refreshing tea. It's great piping hot, tepid or ice cold. We just keep a pot on the stove and add water/ginger/spices as needed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

We packed really quite a lot into the day today, beginning with a trip to the petroglyphs--thought to be 5,000 year-old carvings into the stone near Angono.

The two main images are of women in birth and of probably myth-size sea turtles. But what I like to point out to people in terms of Philippine heritage is the way that people are portrayed alongside nature and mystery, not in conquest as we might expect, but in even surprising peacability. Characteristically Filipino.

On the way to the Balaw Balaw restaurant, one of my favorite places to visit, we stopped at the Blanco Tree for a bird's-eye view Laguna de Bay and the surrounding area.

In addition to all the cultural adaptation that has gone on in the Philippines over the last five hundred years or so, from this high up you can see the geographical change the island has undergone over the last several thousand.

Balaw Balaw was built by a national artist named Perdigon Vocalan who combined culinary delight with interior design and the fine arts to create a dining/viewing experience that is of a kind. His joy in an almost ridiculous plurality in close proximity (maybe most characteristically portrayed by a tree growing out of rock) is a contemporary pair with the 3,000 B.C. petroglyphs.

Then we took the Philippine's famous jeepney to the market in Taytay.

If you visit the Philippines and don't ride one of these noisy, crowded, polluted and polluting means of public transportation--how are you going to claim your credentials as a tourist?

The Halvorsens were anxious to learn everything they could about their adoption country, and the local market is full of all kinds of curiosities and living character.

Deborah gave a great tour of all the fruits and vegetables we eat at various stages of ripeness. Lot's of--"No, really?"--s.

And just up the street from the little children's home now, is a full-fledged shopping mall (SM), with all the Western goodies that make you feel at home.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Butterfly Farm in Antipolo is one of our favorite places to take visitors to our area.

We went today to celebrate Senon's birthday and took the older children in the home.

Here's the whole tlc gang, those of us who went, (left to right): Joy, Johanna, Nika, Deborah, Michelle, Marisa, Senon, Jay, Helen, and Dennis.

Our boys are endlessly entertained in the butterfly aviary.

There's a smattering of other birds and animals, from eagles to a bear cat, a cassowary and monkeys.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What we're calling tlc Tours here is not (just) places we go and things we see with adoptive families when they come here; it is an important part of what we do in adoptive services. When you adopt a child from a foreign country, the time you spend there is not vacation, but sacred time.

Barbara and Geoff are great friends of Paul and Tracey, who adopted from us at the end of last year. We had a really great time together when they were here, so when Geoff and Barbara started making plans to pick up Levi, Paul and Tracey told them to look us up--even though their little one isn't from the little children's home.

We took them for a walk down on the pier in Manila...

...caught a bit of local color...

...took in some of Philippine history...

This is Benigno Aquino, who instigated the revolution against Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Any culture, any experience the family can gain during their time here will be an invaluable resource for answering questions as their child grows up.

We came away feeling like we'd not only made new friends, but participated in a miracle.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hello TLC Family,

When Darren, Deborah, Aubrey, and Auden came to visit us in California we talked about the interesting places to visit in the Philippines. Darren encouraged me to write about my hometown - Tacloban City - because it is historical.

For those of you planning to visit the Philippines, read on.

Darren told me that Sam's favorite historical figure is General Douglas MacArthur. During World War II Gen. MacArthur landed in Tacloban City and by doing so helped to liberate the Filipino people. The beach where he landed is called Red Beach because of the bloodshed.

General MacArthur stayed at my great-grandfather' s house which is called the Price Mansion; there you can take a tour and they will show you the room where he stayed.

Places to visit in Tacloban:
1. San Juanico Bridge - longest bridge in Southeast Asia
2. Santo Nino Shrine - collection of art by Imelda Marcos
3. MacArthur Memorial Shrine4. Price Mansion
5. The beach, the beach, the beach!
6. Marabut Marine Park Beach Resort - amazing snorkeling, kayaking
7. 17th Century Basey Church
8. Sohoton Caves - see stalactites, stalagmites

Tacloban is 1 hour by plane from Manila. It is a small and cozy town; the people are very hospitable and accomodating. We have fresh and very affordable seafood; most dishes in Tacloban are cooked in coconut milk (ginataan). My brother owns a B&B where the warm Pacific Ocean is only 25 steps from your room! I created an album in the TLC website with some pictures taken in Tacloban when we were there last year.


Karla (-:

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Wajus family had talked about going to the Pagsanjan Falls every time they came to get each of their three children, but for one reason or another they had never made it. They are here now, visiting, and more determined than ever to make it to the falls.

The package tours ask for $98 per person, but we suggested that we could drive them out and probably save them a lot of money. We've never done it before, so we really didn't know what to expect, but it turned out marvelously.

We picked them up at their hotel in Makati at around eight in the morning, and stopped in at our house (next to the baby home) at around nine to pick up the rest of our family. It was a two hour drive (75 km) from our house, but pleasurable and beautiful.

The 'standard fare' is P660 per person for the boat ride, but they told us up front that that didn't pay the banqeros (boatmen). When we asked how much we should pay them (two in each boat, with two or three passengers) they said, 'Wait to see how hard they have to work before you decide how much to pay them.' And they were incredible. Very considerate and incredibly athletic to haul our happy carcasses up the rapids.

You can get a little glimpse of some of the local flavor and the banquero's heroism at

The boat ride was one of the most incredibly enjoyable things I have ever done in the Philippines, and our boys loved it. Unfortunately, I don't know that it would be appropriate for a very young baby with new adoptive parents. It was five hours from port to port, supplemented by some heavy 'traffic' in places where the rapids are too narrow to allow two-way passage.

The one frustration was not knowing how much to pay the banqueros. They were champions, to a man. And we hardly wanted to short them. But, frankly, from the pleasure we gave them when we paid P1000 each, I'm pretty sure we overpaid; from the pleasure they gave us, I think we paid about the right amount.

One thing I'd definitely want to repeat if we do it again was stopping for lunch at a little 'restaurant' half-way up the river. It was just a little hiking camp, with tents made out of tarps. Barbecued chicken with rice, though, has never tasted so good.