Thursday, February 28, 2008


Our cat is around 15 years old, which is old for a cat. As she's aged, she's developed arthritis and skin problems. Apparently she's allergic to flea bites and she gets dermatitis. We used Advantage for years, then apparently the fleas developed some kind of immunity to this medicine and we had to change the cat's anti-flea medicine to Frontline.

Well, a few months ago, the cat had severe dermatitis, and she was quite miserable scratching away. She had scabs on her body, especially in her backside. I used some medicated shampoo to ease her itching, and it would work for a day, but then she would start scratching all over again.

The cat lost weight and I thought she'd die. Then after doing some research (internet) I discovered Immugen, which strengthens the immune system to fight against cancer, allergies, respiratory and immune related diseases in dogs and cats.

I'm going to sound like an ad, but truly the stuff works! The cat recovered; she got rid of her dermatitis, and is more robust than she had been. Her arthritis is bad though, and I'm giving her Hip Action, which has Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

Here's information about Immugen:

"Immugen's unique formula combines vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals and other nutrients for optimal immune system functioning. It contains natural ingredients to protect animals from bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, cancer, allergies, dermatitis and immune disorders."

Imagine - all this fuss for a cat.


Our Vet never mentioned Immugen to us. In fact, this Vet has been so quick to suggesting all kinds of tests and drastic surgeries on our cat. For eg. the cat had a tooth abscess and the Vet wanted to run blood tests and wanted to put the cat out to pull out most of her teeth. We decided against this. When I could, I swabbed the abscessed area with cotton balls soaked with salt water. I gave her Vitamins. And in no time, the bad tooth fell out on its own, and her gums healed.

Many years ago, another cat of ours had mites in her ears and the Vet suggested performing surgery in her ears to remove the mites. I went to our local pet store and bought some oily medication that I dropped into her ears. The mites disappeared.

The Vet of this other cat with mites, also sold us Advantage and special food for older cats developing kidney problems. This Vet never informed us that we could buy Advantage and this special food in regular pet stores. This was many years ago, when Advantage was new.

There are many sites in the internet that can educate you about health problems of cats. It's more information than you'll get from your Vet. I have found them very helpful. In fact there's a site by a woman whose cats died of kidney failure, and the site lists the various brands of cat food and the Phosphorus content; and the site has recipes for home cooked cat food. Check out Tanya's Feline Chronic Renal Failure Information Centre.

(Photo shows Kiki and her master. Note that Kiki is holding the TV clicker.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The experience with Father Fernando got me researching about healing and energy.

Dorothy Retallack wrote a book, The Sound of Music and Plants, about experiments she did with plants and music. Here is a site about this, but in a nutshell, the plants flourished or died, depending on the music they were exposed to, and also to the length of exposure to the music. Plants apparently liked around 3 hours of music each day, and they preferred quieter music (not rock, not discordant sounds).

In another experiment, Dr. Masuru Emoto, placed labels on bottles of water. On one, he placed, "Thank you," and on the other, "You Fool." Water formed beautiful hexagonal crystals where the label Thank you was placed, and You Fool had fragments of crystals.

As far as laying on of hands is concerned, here is an interesting article about an experiment done on mice - click here . Basically the experiment was on mice with transplanted breast cancer. It's a fascinating paper about healing via laying on of hands. The experiment proved that laying on of hands was successful as a treatment; and that belief in the success of laying on of hands was not necessary to obtain positive results.

There are more articles about this topic of good energy and healing, but what I get out of this is that positive thinking is important. One healer said that if you dislike someone for instance, and you say, "I hate so-and-so," forming and releasing the words leaves negative energy around you. This healer suggests saying, "God, I hate so-and-so." In this way, the energy does not hover around you, but is lifted up to God, who after all understands the range of our human emotions.


Anvil Publishing ( has 7 books that won the Gourmand Awards, and 2 of them (A La Carte Food & Fiction and The Governor General's Kitchen by Felice Sta. Maria) are in the top 3, vying for the Best in the World Gourmand Awards. Winners will be announced in London, April 13.
Hmmm - I think the food and drink will be good there.


Press Release, February 19, 2008


Gourmand received books from 107 countries in 2007. Now 845 cookbooks compete in 40 categories for Best in the World, after winning their country’s competition. Early guests from 32 countries had already confirmed by February 18.

• The event is filmed for television, with many media invited
• Live music by the 18-pieces James O’Carroll Big Band.
• Winners party at 5 pm with champagne Gosset and cognac Frapin

APRIL 14-16

Stand U800 Gourmand-LBF Partnership.
• Exhibition of the best cookbooks from over 80 countries.
• Cooking demonstrations by 16 celebrity chefs from 14 countries.

Monday April 14

10 Chef Ramzi Lebanon
11 Sara La Fountain Finland
12 Chef Völundarssön Iceland
13 Julie Biuso New Zealand
14 Chef Wan Malaysia
15 Babette Guadeloupe
16 Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain India
17 Richard Juhlin – Champagne Club Sweden

Tuesday April 15

10 Sahrap Soysal Turkey
11 Yvan Cadiou France
12 Angela Hartnett UK
13 Chakall Portugal
14 Annabel Langbein New Zealand
15 Hayden Wood The Liquid Kitchen-Australia
16 Chef China
17 Richard Juhlin – Champagne Club Sweden

Wednesday April 16

10 Fatema Hal Morocco
12 Yann Barault – Le Cordon Bleu France
13 Art Smith US
14 LaurelAnn Morley Barbados
16 Richard Juhlin – Champagne Club Sweden

With champagne Gosset.

Edouard Cointreau
President, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Monday, February 25, 2008


We had a discussion in Austrialia or New Zealand about Totems and burial, and my companions insisted that totems do not carry bones. I recalled, from a prior visit to Alaska, that the totems do carry bones. Here's an excerpt about this interesting matter:

"Several of them are funeral poles that once held wooden boxes with the remains of Haida nobles. The early Haida buried their chiefs by compacting their bodies into a tiny wooden box that was placed at the top of a burial totem in front of the chief's lodge. The carvings on the totem would tell the story of significant events in the man's life. Each totem tells a story and there is nothing random in their carving. Each rendered image whether real or imagined has a specific meaning, a wedding, a death, or a great battle, though many are known only to the people now long gone." - by James Michael Dorsey, "Islands at the Boundary of the World - Ninstints, British Columbia, Canada"

And here's another excerpt and source:

"No one knows what the effigy mounds were used for. Some archaeologists believe that they functioned as totem poles. As with totems, a few human bones were buried within the effigy mounds for their symbolic value...."

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I just received the following notice from the people who run the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. The anthology A La Carte already won the Gourmand Award in the Philippines, and is being considered for their International Award - in the top 3, according to the Gourmand contact. Top mainstream publishers vie for the Gourmand Awards, so this is good news for me, my co-editor, Marily Orosa, and publisher (Anvil, Karina Bolasco)!



You are a Nominee on the shortlist for

Best in the World in the Gourmand Awards

With your book:
A La Carte: Food and Fiction

You compete in the category: 27 – Best Food Literature Book

There were books from 21 countries in that category.

The complete list will be published in the Gourmand Yearbook 2008 in April.

You are now in the top three.

The Best in the World will be announced on April 13 in London and called to the stage at Olympia Theatre. (London, UK)

Saturday, February 23, 2008


A Faux Pas in Australia

Sometime during the long flight from Manila to Hong Kong to Sydney, the flight attendant handed out Australia's immigration form. Groggy, I filled it out and when it came to the part about: Do you have fruit, vegetables, meat, etc. I decided to do what I usually do when I enter the United States. I generally check off "No" but I mention to the US Immigration Officer that I do have packaged cookies or candies. I know that the US is watching out primarily for fresh fruit and unprocessed meats; and the packaged and processed foods do not interest them. So, half asleep, I checked off "No" to the Australia form, with the intention of mentioning that I did have some food. I must confess dear Readers that when I travel I always bring some snack food; I like having "emergency" food during the flight and when I've just arrived a place.

When I arrived Sydney I noticed that the immigration officers were x-raying all suitcases and handchecking a large number of them. I quickly located an officer and made my confession and the person told me to tell the person up ahead, which I did. It turned out to be a serious matter and they took away my beef jerky and I was warned to fill out the form accurately next time, otherwise I'd get fined $200. I reminded the officer that I did tell them about it, that I'm used to the US where they just wave me off when I do my verbal declaration. No, problem, they let me off, but I did learn my lesson.

My friend Rose told me they are indeed very strict because their sheep and beef industries could be easily ruined by the entry of diseases such as Mad Cow and Hoof and Mouth Disease.

I understood this of course because sheep and cows were everywhere in Australia, and in fact their steaks are something wonderful (Argentina and New Zealand have comparably great steaks.)

Rose warned me that New Zealand is even more strict about the matter than Australia. And indeed New Zealand was! At every port stop, there were immigration officers making sure the passengers didn't bring any food, even non-bottled water off the ship. Some Princess passengers were caught with some food and were fined $200!

I emptied out my purse and checked the pockets of my coat, and did all right for the port stops, but just as Lauren and I were about to see the Immigration Officer in Auckland, I discovered some peanuts in my computer case! I almost panicked. My husband said, "Get rid of it!" and walked on ahead leaving me holding a bag of peanuts in my hand. There was no garbage can around. The people behind me said, "Eat them quickly!"

There was no time to do a thing except walk up to the Immigration Officer, who was of Indian background, and before she said a thing, I blurted out, "I found peanuts in my computer bag." The truth. It's the best recourse.

She glanced at it, and handed it back to me. "I don't want your peanuts."

On leaving, I told her that the whole thing made me nervous because I like to carry food with me, and they're squirreled away in my purses, pockets. She said, "I make you nervous?" She was young and nice; she was not mean about this whole matter at all. I said, "No, it's your country that makes me nervous. It's very strict."

Of course after seeing New Zealand, I understood why they would be anal about this whole matter. There are sheep, cows, fruit of all kinds (grapes, kiwi, apples, and more), lumber, etc, etc. - all important sources of income for this country.

Pictures show: Hops for beer, sheep being sheared, kiwi, and logs


(In New Zealand some parks had chickens running around scot free and which seemed to be there to keep the place clean. Imagine, no one had turned them into Fried Chicken!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Our cruise ship (Sapphire Princess) visited Tauranga on Feb. 12, but when we disembarked, we proceeded to Rotorua to a Maori Village which included geysers, and hot springs. We saw Maori traditional homes, food storage houses, meeting house, etc. This was very interesting to me. I had such limited knowledge of the Maori people; the little I knew I picked up from movies like The Whalerider (great movie, by the way). In my ignorance, I even mixed them up with the Aborigines of Australia - since in my ignorance, I couldn't keep Australia and New Zealand apart - they were these English-speaking countries somewhere down South. So there I was, not knowing what to expect.

Well, finally I got it straight in my head that the Maori are of Polynesian stock, that they had 7 ancestors who came by long boat from Hawiiki, a place in Polynesia that no longer exists. (In my ignorance, I thought the Maori ancestors had come from Hawaii - no, Hawiiki is another place, although the Hawaiians and Maori are related.).

The Maori settled in what is now New Zealand, and apparently they were warlike people who built fortresses and war canoes/boats (85 feet long). Their traditional war dance and chant, the Haka, is a rousing dance that involves making the eyes big and thrusting the tongue out. New Zealand's rugby team, the All Blacks, perform the Haka before their games. The Haka is fascinating and you can view various versions in You Tube. Here's one done by the All Blacks - visit(

Here's the English version of the Haka chant:
Ka mate, ka mate

It is death, it is death
It is life, it is life
This is the hairy man
Who caused the sun to shine again for me
Up the ladder, up the ladder
Up to the top
The sun shines.

We saw more Maori artifacts at the Auckland War Memorial Musuem. There is a fantastic 85 feet war boat (for 100 warriors) in there - original, from the 1800s. The musuem has an authentic meeting house, totems, and many other artifacts.

We saw a couple of Maori dance and chant performances. They are generally hefty as a people - not necessarily fat, but big-boned. Some of them are quite beautiful, men included. Their persona is that of fierce people, unlike the softer Hawaiian people.

But they have been subjugated by the English people of New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi was legalized theft of their land by the English. This was what happened. The English who brokered the treaty prepared two versions of the Treaty - one in English, and one in Maori. And ... you guessed it: The two versions were different! Here's a record of Maori-onwed land in New Zealand, from the site Network Waitangi Otautahi (

- 1840, the Maori owned 66,400,000 acres of land;
- 1852, the Maori owned 34,000,000 acres;
- 1860, they owned 21,400,000 acres;
- 1891, they owned 11,079,486 acres;
- 1911, they owned 7,136,205;
- 1920, 4,787,686 acres;
- 1939, 4,028,903 acres;
- 1975, Maori owned land is 3,000,000 acres.

They are still fighting in court, but you get the drift.

All for now,

(Lauren and Cecilia where the Waitangi Treaty was signed)
Above picture shows sunset in Ragland, famous for its surfing beaches;
Next pictures shows Maori dancer doing the Haka)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

VISITING "DOWN UNDER" - Australia, New Zealand

Ah, dear Readers, Forgive my long silence! I haven't had internet access for some time. Here's a brief summary of where I've been and will do my best to post some comments about the places I've visited. I'm in an internet cafe in Dunedin, New Zealand, however, and it's not easy writing in a cafe.

Jan. 30 - arrived Sydney, Australia, stayed in Hyde Park Inn, lovely hotel in downtown Sydney, facing Hyde Park, and right across the Museum railway station;
Feb. 2 - boarded Sapphire Princess, and headed toward Melbourne;
Feb. 4 - Toured Melbourne: the goal, park, Como Mansion;
Feb. 7 - Toured Hobart: After crossing the story Tasman Sea, we arrived Hobart, and spent the day touring the city, Wild Animal Park, the National Forest, a sheep farm;
Feb. 9 - Criused through the Fiordland of New Zealand
Feb. 10 - Currently in Dunedin, New Zealand

OK - there's so much that's happened, I don't know where to begin. I've given you some of my impressions of Sydney. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia with around 4 million people. I hate to compare it with Sydney, especially because there is an existing rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, but frankly, Melbourne is not as pretty as Sydney. It's a solid city however, with enormous parklands right in the middle of the city, and wide avenues. The city founders had insured that 30% of city land would be parkland, and so there is a marvelous stretch of greenery right in the middle of Melbourne. How I wish many city planners had thought of this idea! Fresh air, a place for people to walk around in, lovely flowers, shrubs, etc - very civilized. The Yarrow river in Melbourne is now pretty, although our guide had said that it had been polluted. She did mention that the Syneyers still sneer at its brownish color - not from pollution, but from the mud underneath.

Tasmania gave us the opportunity to final look at the strange animals of Australia: wambots, wallabies, kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian devils, platypus, qualls. We visited a refuge and got to pet some of these animals. They are cute, even the devils that are scavengers. We saw the platypus at a distance, but since they are difficult to spot, we were thrilled to have caught sight of the brown-furred creature that skittered across the river. The marsupials are fascinating and I'm going to read up on them when I get back home. How did so many of them end up in Australia, while the rest of the world's animals evolved another way?

The Sapphire Princess is great, three years old apparently, great food and entertainment. We've had a lot of sea days and are able to rest and read and Lauren is very diligent about joining the morning and afternoon trivia games, also bridge with Mike Ross.

Australia and New Zealand are young countries with a lot of opportunities. As a whole people seem well-off - but let me quality this statement - we have only seen for the most part white Australia and New Zealand. We saw a few aborigines in Sydney. Sydney has a lot of non-white residents - South Asians, Chinese, some Filipinos. We haven't yet seen Maories in New Zealand, perhaps in Auckland. But the land itself has a lot of natural resources: sheep, cattle, agriculture, mining, etc. And there are only 20 million people in all of Australia. (I told Lauren I could voluteer around 20 million Filipinos to go to Australia and the Philippines would still have 60 million people!)

Stay tuned, dear Readers, stay tuned!

(top picture shows Aborigine playing the dijeredu;
other pictures show 2 Tasmanian Devils and a Koala)