Change. They say it’s the only thing you can count on in this world, and yet people have mixed feelings about it. Dread, eagerness, fear, hatred, relief, or even indifference. Often, the emotion tied to it depends on the change itself and how it comes to our door. A change for the better that comes unexpectedly is commonly called a “welcome change.” A turn for the worse that drops on us suddenly is called … well, it’s called lots of names, many of which I can’t repeat here.

Just as often, how we react to change depends on its source. If we initiate it, then there is some measure of control, and from that, a measure of comfort. If we are blindsided, then sometimes, instinct takes over.

But not all change is apparent. There are instances when the change happens ever so slowly, gradually making itself at home, steadily and incrementally establishing itself until you wake up one day, suddenly realizing what happened, not quite sure how it all came down.

I’ve been in a reflective mood about change these days because of this.

The Oyster Man

Trinidad offers some of the best street food you can find. From breakfast to dinner to midnight snacks, the food you can get from the various stalls and carts outside will rival just about any restaurant’s standard fare. For me, when the late afternoon hours stretch into dusk, the sight of a stall lit with a cloth wick in a fuel-filled bottle can only mean one thing: the oyster man is open for the night. Or at least as long as his day’s catch lasts.

Trinidad street food oyster man

Caribbean dreams

I’ve always loved traveling. It doesn’t matter much if it’s somewhere new, or some place that I’ve been to dozens of times. The whole process of leaving home, putting miles between me and the familiar, breathing in new air, and naturally becoming more observant because everywhere my eyes rest there is something different, something to be noticed … it exhilarates me, recharges me and makes me tingle all over, literally and figuratively.

(Apparently, it also makes me write really, really long sentences.)


Filipino cuisine is a colorful blend of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and even Indian influences. Most meals are served with a wide selection of condiments and dipping sauces, often laid out in little bowls or dishes, so each person can fully customize the meal to his or her heart’s content.

One of my favorite condiments is achara, or Philippine-style pickles. Different regions of the country have their own versions of achara, using different vegetables and slightly different pickling liquids. I prefer the kind of achara served in Aristocrat restaurants—a crunchy, sweet and tangy version using green papaya. And so when my mom mentioned that our family recipe for achara was just like that, I got excited. In fact, I think I might have looked forward to the achara a wee bit more than the Filipino chicken barbecue, because I asked Tom to hunt down a green papaya for me a full two weeks before my planned grilling date.

Filipino chicken barbecue (Inihaw na manok)

Filipino chicken barbecue or inihaw na manok

I recently joined the Kulinarya Cooking Club, which consists of a group of bloggers who share a love of Filipino cuisine. What started in Sydney, Australia grew into a truly international bloggerhood, and I’m thrilled to be part of it. A monthly theme is chosen, and for June, it was (appropriately so) barbecue.

When I think of Filipino barbecue, my mind first turns to our wonderful street food classic: barbecued pork in skewers. It’s the kind of food you can’t get enough of, no matter how sticky everything gets: your fingers, lips, mouth, cheeks … then you run out of clean napkins and try to sneakily wipe your grubby hands on your jeans. (Or, if you’re subtle enough, on the jeans of the person standing next to you.)

Unfortunately, Tom doesn’t eat pork. So I decided on another Filipino classic on the grill: chicken barbecue.

about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

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The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo is the Filipino dish most people are familiar with. Here's my quick and easy version that requires minimal prep work and only one pan. Perfect for busy weeknights.

The Ivory Hut: Homemade Nutella Baking Chips

Yes, I made my own chocolate chips. Nutella chocolate chips, to be exact. Then I made cookies. Lots of cookies.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.