Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: Pacific Rims

Image source

More than a week has passed since Gilas Pilipinas lost to China in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships and I am still salty about the defeat. Most people will point out that the height of the Chinese, poor outside shooting, missed opportunities from the charity stripe, pressure from fans, both Pinoys and Chinese, and the terrible officiating contributed to the loss. I, on the other hand, am left wondering why we keep dreaming of playing basketball in the Olympics, the grandest stage of them all, when the sport clearly favors tall people and height is something a lot of Filipinos are not blessed with. Wouldn’t we be enjoying more international success had the Gilas cagers started out as football players and ended up as members of the Azkals instead? Aren’t we better off had earlier generations discovered football before basketball? Isn’t it unreasonable for a country populated mostly by short people to be so in love with the game of basketball?

Although a basketball fan myself, I cannot explain the unlikely affair of Filipinos with basketball. Good thing I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of Pacific Rims, not to be confused with the movie about robots and monsters. Written by Rafe Bartholomew, the book shares the author’s experiences in the Philippines as he follows the Alaska Aces from 2005 to 2007 while uncovering the mystery behind the passion for basketball that Filipinos have.

Rich with insights, interviews and quotes from important figures in Philippine basketball, Pacific Rims has plenty of information on the history of the game in the country and how it transformed into the nation’s favorite pastime and beloved sport. It explains the role it plays in the lives of Filipinos from different walks of life as well as exploring its place in our society. The book also takes its readers behind the scenes of small-town leagues, better known as liga or paliga in Tagalog, and the Philippine Basketball Association, revealing some of the league’s secrets and shedding light on controversial issues like Fil-Ams, one-sided trades and ludicrous contracts. In addition, it takes a closer look at some of Alaska’s players and coaches during the team’s run to the championship in the 2007 PBA Fiesta Conference, giving readers a better understanding of what makes professional athletes tick and the pros and cons of being a pro baller.

Aside from the interesting information it contains, the book provides readers with entertainment in the form of the author's funny experiences in the Philippines and with the Alaska players. Reading stories about pro cagers farting, walking around naked and Bartholomew being mistaken for a popular PBA shooting guard should leave basketball aficionados laughing and shaking their heads.

To sum it up, Pacific Rims is a must read for any Filipino hoops fan. Not only does it explain why we love the game so much, but to some extent, it justifies our feelings and fuels our passion. In my eyes, Bartholomew is not only a basketball fanatic but a skilled wordsmith because the words he used in this book allowed him to speak to our culture and our soul with utmost sincerity. If you want to understand why you love basketball so much or are looking for a way to express your love for the game, other than making an acrobatic layup or creating a makeshift hoop, getting this book should do the trick.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Getting High On Filipino Comfort Food At High Ground, Los Baños, Laguna

Aside from hot spring resorts, wood carvings, the Pagsanjan Falls, Enchanted Kingdom and other tourist attractions, Laguna is also known for its delicious food. The province produces one of, if not, the best buko pies in the country, obligating a person to buy a few boxes for family and friends as pasalubong whenever taking a trip to the Resort Capital of the Philippines. And during my recent visit to Los Baños, I discovered a newly opened restaurant that will only increase Laguna’s reputation as a food blogger’s heaven – High Ground Gourmet Comfort Food.

As the name implies, High Ground specializes in Filipino comfort food with elements of different culinary traditions. It is located on the 2nd floor of the building that houses Fiorgelato-UPLB. Upon entering restaurant premises, one can get a warm feeling from High Ground’s classy wooden interior and cozy atmosphere, as if preparing you for the hearty meals and fine dining experience ahead. Need not to worry about getting all sweaty while waiting for your food since High Ground is packed with air-conditioners.

How I Met Your Mother, Pinoy Edition

Together with a select group of people, also known as my friends, I decided to please my palate with the best gourmet comfort food High Ground has to offer.

Eggplant Parmigiana
To the naked eye, High Ground’s Eggplant Parmigiana appears to be gigantic cheese sticks, when in reality, they are fresh eggplants wrapped in a special breading. Accompanied by a marinara and an aioli dip, these crispy and tasty bad boys can be enjoyed in three different ways: soaked in the marinara’s tanginess, drenched in the garlicky taste of the aioli, or a combination of the two dips for that flavorful High Ground experience.

HG Sisig
Unlike your run-of-the-mill sisig that has finely diced pig parts, High Ground’s take on the popular pulutan features a generous serving of pork loin strips and liver with sliced onions and ginger. In other words, it has bigger sisig bits for you to chew on. Furthermore, the establishment has done a great job of incorporating liver to its special pork sisig recipe. While you will hardly taste pork liver in numerous sisigs available in the market today, if ever there were pork liver in any of them, the restaurant’s pork sisig has delectable liver that is highly noticeable in a way that it complements the rest of its components and does not overpower the remainder of the HG Sisig’s ingredients.

Breaded Fish Fillet With Mango Salsa
Wrapped in crispy golden brown breading, High Ground’s Breaded Fish Fillet feels more fluffy, moist and tasty than the ones you will find in most popular fast food chains or seafood cafes. The batter used on the fish’s breading seems to be mildly seasoned, making it less salty compared to similar products, allowing diners to shift their attention towards the fish and not the breading in order for them appreciate the meat of the matter. The diced mangoes, tomatoes and basil leaves replaced traditional salty seasonings and sauces with fruity and luscious goodness. Paired with a single serving of rice, this dish makes for a truly satisfying and scrumptious meal.

Longganisa Lucban Sandwich
While a good number of people would like some fried rice to go along with their longganisa, High Ground thought it was a good idea to stuff some Lucban-style sausage between toasted focaccia bread together with tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, egg and onion. And the result… was… awesome. As one of my companions said, it tasted like Longganisa Lucban pizza. The same person added that it was one of the best sandwiches he has eaten lately and I could not agree more. And imagine that super sandwich being brought to you on a neat chopping block alongside some crispy potato chips. If that does not scream ginormous to you, I do not know what will. Here, see for yourself.

In summary, High Ground is a great place to dine with associates, family and friends. Situated near the entrance of UPLB, this restaurant offers budget-friendly fine dining for gourmands who are longing for sophisticated Filipino food. With a budget between Php 100 and 400, one will be able to indulge in a variety of palate-pleasing dishes in this establishment. In addition, the restaurant offers combo meals worth Php 119-159, each made up of a viand, a single serving of rice and a glass of High Ground’s house-blended iced tea. If ever you find yourself in Los Baños, Laguna and are looking for a place to dine and unwind, you cannot go wrong with High Ground Gourmet Comfort Food.

Photos courtesy of Chinen Aguña and Jed Ebardaloza.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Back in 2008, after getting my Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, I worked as an English instructor in a computer school along North Avenue, Quezon City. This is where I met a man known as Siopao Master, who later on introduced me to the world of blogging.

Equipped with my passion for writing, in addition to the training I got from my Alma Mater, I asked Siopao if I can contribute blog posts to Siopao Heaven since I don't have a blog of my own at the time and I didn't know how to create one for myself. Fortunately, he supported the idea and I was able to use Siopao Heaven as a freedom wall where I was able to express my thoughts and ideas on various issues and topics that capture my interest, including but not limited to video games and sports.

Thanks to Siopao Heaven, I got mentioned in The Week for an article I wrote about an all-white basketball league in January 2010. A few months later, I got bashed by people for giving my opinions on the candidates running for president during that time. After these experiences, my passion for blogging grew stronger and it led me to create my own blog, Lone Opinion.

For two years, I filled the archives of Lone Opinion with rants and reviews, among other things. But after October 2011, a lot of stuff happened and I couldn't find the time to write something on my digital freedom wall. Fast forward to 2015 and I realized that I miss blogging. And while I can't promise myself that I'll do this everyday, I feel like it's something I should do on a regular basis just so I have an outlet for all the ideas locked up in my head.

So after three years, Lone Opinion is active again. And I hope this time, it will be enjoyed by more people than ever.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: Hot Fuzz

Bad Boys in The Village
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m sorry to say that this review will take away some mystery, from, uh, well, the mystery.

via Wikipedia

Friday, September 16, 2011