Dispatch from Iraq

This week we begin a new series, Dispatches From The Embassies, which will feature stories about Filipinos in various countries. We start the series with a dispatch from the Philippine Embassy in Iraq, a harrowing story that nevertheless ended well with the successful return to the Philippines of an OFW who was a victim of unscrupulous labor recruiters and an abusive employer. "Tears of Fear Then Joy in Iraq" is shared by Vice Consul Jomar T. Sadie. Along with the story, we also post a warning from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to Filipinos seeking work abroad on how to detect recruitment frauds. With this series, we hope to encourage Philippine Embassies to tell us stories of our kababayans and the good work of their stations.

And to our series on Martial Law Stories, we add ace journalist Jo-Ann Q. Maglipon's memories of going underground and being detained with some of the biggest names in Philippine literature. "Remembering" is worth reading in its entirety.

PF Correspondent Elizabeth Ann Quirino reviews Somewhere in the Middle: A Journey to the Philippines In Search of Roots, Belonging, and Identity by Deborah Francisco Douglas, a Filipino American who was stayed three years in the Philippines as a Peace Corp volunteer.  The title of the book sums up its author's intent and our writer elaborates on the insights Ms. Douglas gleaned from her rich experiences.

Author/writing guru Cecilia Manguerra-Brainard's talents are not limited to literature. She's also a good cook and here she shares her personal recipe for Beef Bourguignon, complete with a secret ingredient you'll have to ask her for.

In case you missed them, our links to stories that may interest you:

[EXPLAINER] Vote-buying is not just giving or taking cash

Ruined by War, a Stricken Philippine Town Starts to Reawaken

Moscow's Filipino Domestic Staff: No Longer An Expat Preserve

'Turontastic’: Filipino snack making waves in San Francisco

For Video of the Week, we feature a tinikling performance by the US Naval Academy Filipino Midshipmen’s Club during their 2016 International Ball.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

Baguio, Bacalao and Bittaog

When I was still living in the Philippines, Baguio, the country's summer capital, was the destination of choice of Manila folks when Holy Week came around. The city provided a welcome escape from the stifling heat of the lowlands yet also offered a challenge. During Holy Week, the traffic going to and from the place was horrendous even then. With Baguio now bursting at its seams (the current population estimate is 350,000 for a city built for 30,000, according to our writer), does it still make sense to brave the crowds for a whiff of cool air? PF Correspondent Rene M. Astudillo, who returned to the city after retiring from a life in California, says yes and tells us why in "Holy Week! Baguio's Still Worth Your While."

In time for Holy Week, PF Correspondent Cherie Querol Moreno writes about bacalao, the salty fish that features prominently in the menu of  Eats Amore Foods, the Parañaque-based catering service of Jackie and Raffy Caballero (read "Bacalao With Love"). Jackie shares her Bacalao Casserole recipe with our Happy Home Cook this week.

As the world celebrates Earth Day next week, a new contributor, Merlita Usita Campanano, writes about the one bittaog tree in her hometown of Ballesteros, Cagayan that is the one constant in her life and those of other townfolks. Another story in our Hometown collection that celebrates places outside of the usual tourist trail.

And if you're in the market for a summer getaway, Read Again Manuel Hizon's compilation of "11 Great Beaches You Probably Haven't Been To."

Here are the links to stories we gathered from other publications you may want to read:

SC permanently stops SM from cutting trees in Baguio

Wesley So Interview: 'Chess Was A Way Out'

Pinoy Superstitious Beliefs in Construction

'Balete City' role-playing video game aims to promote Philippine mythology and culture

For our video of the week, GMA’s Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho featured a story on Caroline Van Gils, a Belgian national who came to the Philippines last year in search of her mother.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

Stimulants, Magic and India

Have you ever wondered how coffee, a non-native crop, and cacao reach Philippine shores? Did you know that the Philippines was once one of the world's top coffee exporters and cacao was so prevalent that many households had their own homegrown supply of chocolate?  Cultural historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria takes us on a historical trip, "From Coffee to Pollo con Chocolate," that reminds us of the intertwined histories of our homeland and Mexico.

Magical realism is not the exclusive domain of Latin American authors as a new novel, The Book of Pedro Bautista by Dr. Mary Jane Guazon-Uy, attests. Veteran journalist/author Sylvia L. Mayuga reviews this new book from the prolific Ateneo de Naga University Press.

India, the land of mystery and contradiction, was the latest destination of PF Correspondent Myles A. Garcia, who channels E. M. Forster in "A Passage to India, 2019." The country, Garcia states, is an "acquired taste," a feast for the senses, and requires some physical and mental preparation to visit. 

And if reading about tsokolate stirred up your craving, here's a recipe for Triple Chocolate Champorado from Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, our recipe of the week for the Happy Home Cook.

Here's our ICYMI listing of stories from other publications for this week:

[ANALYSIS] How the Marcos-World Bank partnership brought PH economy to its knees

The Duterte wealth: Unregistered law firm, undisclosed biz interests, rice import deal for creditor

Don Jacinto: the Filipino American managing the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

15 Heritage buildings that need to be rescued

For our video of the week, we present Rappler’s “Defend Press Freedom,” a video featuring journalists from the Martial Law years to today’s campus reporters.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino