Food for thought in San Jose

Trip Start Jan 21, 2014
Trip End Jan 31, 2014

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Flag of Philippines  , Mimaropa,
Sunday, January 26, 2014

After a reasonable night's sleep I was up early on my first full day in Central. First up was a trip into San Jose to the market.  Lubang was looking very green and lush and the rice fields were wet and glistened in the morning sun. 

Mindoro really is a beautiful island. for me it has everything and its beauty is in the ordinary places and things that you can see anywhere in The Philippines - fields, beaches, mountains, cities, trikes and jeepneys. These are things that one sees everywhere but  because the people make me feel so welcome here, the ordinary things become special.  Entering San Jose from the north you cross the Pandurucan River where you can see houses on stilts silhouetted against the blue sky. 

First stop was The Circle Food Centre in Juan Luna Street. This restaurant is well known for it's generous portions of lomi, a traditional thick noodle soup. 100 pesos gets you an enormous bowl and it is delicious! I also had pork sisig, which is made from pigs ears. It was served on a fried egg. I recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting San Jose. After lunch I visited the local market, which is always busy and very colourful with fish, meat, vegetables and dried foods. I bought some things to contribute to a party being held the following day, and then went to the local supermarket, "Hapseng". The supermarket (loosely described!) is owned by a Chinese family.  Chinese Filipinos are often the most affluent and own businesses in the provinces.  This is the best place to buy alcohol in town. I loaded up the waiting trike and set off back to Central.  

Back in Central I was introduced to the goat and pig that were coming to dinner tomorrow night. They looked healthy and happy and had no idea what was in store for them the following morning!

Next morning I was back in Central early to visit the Holy Family Catholic Church and High School in Central. Before visiting the school and church, I witnessed the demise of the pig that was to become a variety of dishes during the evening when there was to be a party to which I was invited.
I am always amazed at how strong the pigs are and how they fight and squeal as they are held down by several strong young men who will kill the animal quickly and humanely. No time is wasted cutting the animal into its component parts ready for a selection of tasty dishes to follow later that night. 

 Whilst waiting to meet one of the school's governors, I was standing adjacent to the church where there were some students also waiting for someone. To my surprise one of the students called to me "Hi Stuart. how are you?" i was touched that ex pupils from Siete Central remembered my name from visits to the elementary school last year.  After the school / Church visit I took the Principal of the elementary school and Charlie, a local business man to Sikatuna Restaurant in town. Sikatuna is always quite a busy hotel which often has foreigners staying there. On this day in question  there was a political conference being held there and the Governor of Mindoro Occidental was there. Governor Gene  Mendiola's presence was causing quite a stir among the locals.  The food was delicious and the service was, as always, very good.   

Later that afternoon I visited the local elementary school and left at the same time as the pupils were dismissed. This is a lovely time to be here because the pupils of both the elementary and high school are always friendly and happy to chat and practice their English. Lots of street food and drink sellers are set up waiting to take some of the pesos from the student's pockets as they make their way home. There seems to be a common practice of giving children money to take to school to spend on sweets or cheap plastic toys.
In the evening i attended a party in a local house in Central. The party was held for my benefit  and there was a karaoke. No party in The Philippines is complete without a Karaoke machine which is enjoyed by both young and old alike. The food was delicious! It was cooked over wood fires and the pork and goat was cooked up into some wonderful dishes.  The following day was my last and as always I had really enjoyed myself in Mindoro and was sad to be leaving. The people on this island always make me feel very welcome.


I had an early flight to Manila and to my surprise, some caribao were grazing on the grass on the edge of the highway. These are magnificent animals that work hard for their owners and dutifully do as they are bid without fuss or complaint. 

The plane was on time and I was once again on my way to Manila on this 40 minute flight. Goodbye San Jose.  I'll be back soon!
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