18 April 2014

My Good Friday Flashbacks

WARNING: Some photos may be disturbing for you so read at your own risk.
I could not help but get nostalgic today because I am sorely missing my home country during this time of the year, the Holy Week. So I've decided to check my photo archives and voila! I found my Holy Week snaps back in 2008 using just my mobile phone.

If you still do not know where I am from, let me tell you that I am from the country that is made up of 7, 107 islands called Philippines. It is located in South East Asia along with Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and a few more countries.

If I am not mistaken, we are the only Christian country in that region and being a nation with majority of its people as Christians, Holy Week is one of the most important events that we celebrate. Basically, the Holy Week commemorates the last few moments of Christ before His resurrection or what is more known as Easter.
Mamusan Krus Magdarame
Magpalaspas Magdarame
Mamusan Krus Magdarame without their crosses
In the Philippines, there are Holy Week traditions that Christians religiously observe during this time of the year. For example, in Pampanga, my beloved hometown, Catholic devotees would have their Pabasa / Pabasa ng Pasyon (Reading of the Passion). This is a popular Holy Week ritual wherein devotees will chant the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ thru a narrative that is composed of carefully selected words to fit the eight syllables per stanza requirement. Everyone is welcome to chant during the Pabasa and I have had my own chanting experiences.

Our Puni back in 2008
Our puni has been using the same Pabasa Bible ever since I could remember!
Our Pabasa handwritten in Capampangan
Anyway, aside from the Pabasa, penitence rituals is another famous Holy Week tradition in Pampanga. Catholic penitents believe that one of the ways to repent for their sins is to experience what Christ had experience before He was crucified. Some penitents or magdarame in Capampangan (a local Pampanga dialect) would carry a huge wooden cross just like what Christ had carried and walk their way to every puni (a makeshift area where Pabasa is being held) and church that they can visit usually barefoot. These penitents are called mamusan krus (in Capampangan) / nagpapasan ng krus (in Filipino). Another kind of penitents are those who self-flagellate known as magpalaspas (in Capampangan) or nagpapalaspas (in Filipino). Their backs are deliberately wounded so they'll start bleeding and then these flagellants would start hitting their bleeding backs with their palaspas (a whip with a bunch of wooden sticks in the end). There are also those called magsalibatbat (in Capampangan) who crawl their way to the puni or church. Lastly, there are those penitents who get themselves nailed on the cross during Good Friday. They are called kristos.


In our street where we have our very own puni, the penitents who visit are those from the first three kinds. We do not have the kristos because those penitents are usually found in Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga. It gets flocked by local and even foreign tourists during Good Friday to see penitents get nailed on the cross.
Station of The Cross Procession
Devotees joining the Station of the Cross Procession
Children at night waiting for more magdarames.
The children are the barkers whenever there's a magdarame coming so that the people in the puni will start the special Pabasa chant for magdarames.
Since today is Good Friday and I cannot feel its presence here at our current "home away from home", I could not help but get sentimental. It is because aside from the spiritual and religious aspect of this day, being together with my family and watching movies like The Ten Commandments and eating mader's sweet dish are what make my Holy Week truly special.

Okay, I am officially SUPER homesick right now. Somebody take me to the Philippines please!

15 April 2014

Simple, Quick and Healthy Granola Bars

I have a confession to make. I have never eaten a granola bar ever until this day. No, it has nothing with taste aversion or allergy (thank God!) or unavailability. I guess I just did not have the chance or a reason to uhm, well, have it.

You see, almost all my life, I grew up not eating my vegetables and even fruits. I don't know the reason why but yeah, I grew up with a very unhealthy body. Fortunately, because of Babs, I started eating healthier food. I can eat lots of greens and fruits now without that puke feeling building inside me and I can really feel something good is happening in my system. I still eat unhealthy stuff like chips, pizza and other junk loaded with preservatives every now and then but I make it a point to try to balance it out or at least make up for it by eating clean food most of the time.

Good thing I survey everything that our nearby grocery store offers because it helps me whenever I'm looking for a dish that I want to try my hands on. In this place where we are currently at, sad to say, availability of ingredients can be very challenging especially if you are looking for non-Indian products. For example, we have pork here but you can't choose the cut you want to buy, what you see is what you get. No bacon, no ham, just pork meat. I'm not complaining because AT LEAST they have pork! Anyway, so why am I telling you all this? It's because I've seen our store sell dates and nobody or maybe only a few people are buying them. Since I am also clueless as to what I can do with it, I just ignore it and carry on with my grocery shopping. But ever since I read the perfect granola recipe I'm looking for online, I knew the day has finally arrived where I can no longer ignore those sweet looking dates crying "Pick me!" "Buy Me!" to every individual passing by their lane.

Going back to granola bars, I've read that these munchies are great post workout snacks and that they can even be used as a substitute for an entire meal. And since I've been on the prowl for easy and healthy recipes online that I can try, I've decided to give granola bars a go. The perfect and awesome recipe I found was from Minimalist Baker. Imagine, the recipe only calls for FIVE, yes, you read it right! FIVE ingredients only and it uses natural sweeteners instead of the usual processed sugar which is a BIG deal for me. Now let me share with you the recipe and the little tweaks I made.

Five-Ingredient Granola Bars Ingredients
  • 2 cups oats (I used quick oats because that's the only thing available here.)
  • 1 cup seedless dates
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup almond

  1. Pan roast the oats for a couple of minutes under low flame. Stir the oats every 30 seconds to roast the other side. Once done, transfer in a mixing bowl.
  2. Grind/Blend the dates using the blade for milling dry ingredients. If you have a food processor, you can also use that. If the dates are dry and hard, try soaking them in water for at least 10 minutes before grinding/blending them. Once done, transfer in the mixing bowl where the roasted oats are in.
  3. Mix together the honey and peanut butter in a saucepan under low flame then pour in the mixing bowl.
  4. Throw in the almonds in the mixing bowl and mix all the ingredients together until everything has been evenly distributed. I used my hands to mix everything together. You can use a spatula if you're not comfortable using your hands.
  5. In a shallow rectangular container, cover the bottom and sides with a cling wrap then spread the granola mixture in the container. Since I do not have that kind of container, I just used a rectangular plate, covered it with cling wrap, spread the granola mixture and shaped it using my hands. Make sure that you push the mixture in on all sides so that everything will bond together and not crumble later when slicing.
  6. Chill the granola in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the granola from the fridge and cut it into bars of equal proportion, serve and enjoy!
*You can keep the remaining granola bars in the fridge and they're good for consumption for a few days.

There you have it! I'm just soooo pleased with the way it turned out that I decided to share it with you guys asap.

Til next time!

14 April 2014

My April Challenge

Since I had a hard time completing last month's challenge, I decided to keep this month's goals a bit easier to achieve. Not because so I can succeed in all of them without exerting much effort because I know I still will but because I want it to be more realistic and more practical with my current situation.

I know I am starting this monthly challenge two weeks late but I believe that I can still definitely do a lot of good things for the rest of the month. And it's not like I was not doing anything productive lately. It just so happens that I got caught up with personal matters and other stuff that I did not have the time, the energy and yeah, even the motivation to log in and share something with you. Anyways, I think what matters now is that I am back and I am ready to share some awesome experiences and learnings to every online reader who will stumble upon my blog.

Now moving forward, so for the rest of April, I've decided to publish at least 10 posts for this blog (AY = Ankamil Yepuda). I need to halt my second blog right now because I do not have the time for it since I am working on something else as of the moment.

As for my health goals, I will still do my best to do some exercises at least once a week but for this month, I will focus more on what my body is taking in and I think drinking green smoothie and limiting my rice intake are both good starters. Also, since I gained back (sadly) the 1 inch I lost last February on my waistline, I will do my best to lose it back again at the end of this month. Lastly, my last goal, learn to cook two new dishes, will not only feed my hungry belly but it will also enrich my cooking knowledge.

So there you have it! I shall now log out and start working on these goals and I'll meet you all again by the end of the month or on the 1st of May hopefully to share with you the good news about succeeding this month's challenge!

Enjoy the rest of the month guys!

My March Challenge? FAIL!

Whenever I look at My March Challenge, I could not help but sigh a deep sigh because all of my goals were not really that difficult to accomplish and yet, I still failed a couple of them.

It's just that last month was kind of a crazy month for me due to personal matters and forgive me because I will not be giving further details about it because I'd like to keep them private. It's just that it can be really challenging to accomplish something properly when your mind is preoccupied with something else. Also, the continuously warming and humid weather is not helping especially when it comes to working out.

So yeah, because I failed my March challenge, I am gonna have to sacrifice something. I have been dreaming of and drooling for some ice cream lately because of the summer heat. But because I didn't achieve all my goals last month, I will not allow myself to have any of that cold, creamy, smooth and sweet goodness until the rest of April.

I know that it's almost the third quarter of April now but I believe that I can still accomplish goals before the month ends so I am still gonna give it a go. Find out what my goals are for this month on the next post which will be up right after this one.

What about you, did you meet or are you meeting your personal goals as of this moment? And what do you do when you fail to accomplish them?

Feel free to share your experiences guys!

Stay tuned because my April Challenge post is up next!

13 April 2014

Still Alive and Very Much Kicking!

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Ankamil Yepuda is still alive and very much kicking!

See? I'm still here!!!

My apologies for the lack of posts for the past few weeks. I got tied up with some very important personal matters hence my absence in the online world. Anyways, I'm back and have already lined up a number of posts that I will be publishing in the coming days so watch out for them.

In order to really make up for my absence, I'll be sharing with you guys a couple of awesome places that you can include in your must visit bucket list, food trip ideas and some simple but awesome recipes for a healthier you. I hope that you will enjoy and even get a few tips from them once they are up.

Also, for those who have read about my monthly challenges, you may be asking now, "Whatever happened to your March challenge and why have you not shared with us your April challenge til now?". Worry no more because I have a separate post for that which will be published next after this one.

So yeah, I hope you guys had a great weekend! It's getting warmer and warmer here where we are currently staying at. If only there's a nearby beach here that we can visit and soak ourselves in. In my homeland, the Philippines, this is that time of the year wherein it is all about hitting the waters! Oh well...

Take me back to the waters pretty please!!!

What about you? Do you have an upcoming summer getaway? Or do you have a spring break plan?

Well, whatever your plan is, just don't forget to slather some sunscreen lotion on your skin specially your face before heading out!

Have an awesome Spring Break or Summer Vacation (depends on what part of the planet you're from) y'all!

06 April 2014

Did You Know Your DSLR Has a Shutter Count Limit?

I was chatting with a couple of friends on Facebook this morning when one of them shared with us that she wasn't able to take plenty of pictures during her getaway because her camera was acting funny. And while she was on the topic of dirty and broken cameras, she also shared with us that she found out that DSLRs have a maximum shutter actuation or in layman's term, maximum number of times you can press the shutter.

I was shocked to find out about it because I thought digital cameras can take unlimited shots but yeah, if I really think about it now, it also makes sense that an electronic gadget (no matter what it may be) has an average lifespan so it's just up to the owner/user how he'll maximize his baby and at the same time prolong its lifespan.
I assume your question now is "So what is the maximum number of shots that I can take with my DSLR?" The answer to that is it actually depends on the brand and the model of your camera. You can google more about this but based on the stuff I've read online, a Nikon D5100 has 100,000 for its maximum shutter actuation. Babs' DSLR is a Nikon D5100. Actually, I think most "beginners type" of Nikon DSLRs are under the 100k mark which is quite plenty already if you ask me unless you take about 1,000 pictures everyday.

So how do you find out what is your DSLR's current shutter count? If you are using a Nikon camera, I can help you with that. I went to a website called Nikon Shutter Count and uploaded the latest photo that was taken from the D5100 and the result it provided was something really close to my estimate. Our DSLR has taken 9,346 shots as of date and Babs bought it last Feburary 2012. Not bad I say. Not bad.

For those who are using non-Nikon DSLRs, there are websites and software/apps that can help you determine your gadget's current shutter count. You can google them without a sweat. I just do not want to suggest them directly here because I have not tried them myself.

Now, your follow up question might be something like "so what if I reach the limit, what will happen to my camera?" Based on my research (this means consulting Google), people have several answers but more often than not, their responses were similar with each other. First of all, the maximum shutter actuation was the estimated average lifespan of a DSLR set by the manufacturer. This means that your camera may or may not reach its limit. There were people saying that they have exceeded their maximum shutter count and their cameras are still firing away awesome photos. There were also those who did not even make it to the limit and their units have gone kaput. So basically, it all boils down on how you use your camera, how well you take good care/maintain it and yes, plenty of good luck.

Go ahead! Continue taking plenty of pictures because your camera may die any time but the memories it captures will live forever!