09 Dec2009


Sixteen more days until Christmas Day. Yipes! Why does the holiday always sneak up on me at warp speed? I have been so busy lately that I I haven’t had a chance to begin with Christmas preparations. But thank goodness for the MM crew and Christmas “elves” who have been madly picking up the MM slack for holiday preparations. Home decor should be done within the next couple of days. A fresh tree awaits us at S&R for Dec 12 pick-up for that authentic pine fragrance in the home. But most importantly, AT, our in-house “architect” in addition to several other areas of expertise, has finished the all-important frame for the annual gingerbread effort. I really thought last year would be the last time to do an elaborate gingerbread creation, but the Teen has put in a special request yet again, and of course this is one request I will likely indulge (I personally love the annual gingerbread effort)…


Patterned after a countryside church in New England, the styrofoam base is necessary in the relatively humid conditions in Manila where most gingerbread tends to soften after a couple of weeks and is at risk of collapse if not structurally supported. There won’t be much candy on this version, but the Teen will be making her own house with the 15+ pounds of Christmas candy I dragged back from New York last week. I will do a post on the finished gingerbread church in a week or so… As for folks new to the blog, I noticed that many requested recipes in a recent poll that I have already featured before… Here are some random links to posts that you may find interesting for the holiday season:

Pre-Christmas Madness in Divisoria
Parols/Farols/Christmas Lanterns
A fresh red rose topiary
Fresh dalandan topiary
Filipino Office Christmas Parties
Misa de Gallo Delicacies
The Battle of the Balls (Queso de Bolas that is)…
A “Blue” Christmas/Holiday Meal
Castanas or Roasted Chestnuts
Christmas Cookies
Christmas Message from MM and Family for 2005

And those are just links for 2005! More Christmas links to the archives in the days ahead!



  1. marilen says:

    thanks for the memories of your Christmas past!! still invigorating reading after these many years!! wow – parang kahapon lamang when we thrilled to MM’s blog and so many years of celebration na pala!

    Dec 9, 2009 | 8:07 am


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  3. Ley says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family MM!

    Dec 9, 2009 | 8:35 am

  4. joan says:

    I can’t wait to see what the Teen would create this year, with all those candies!!

    Dec 9, 2009 | 9:23 am

  5. kurzhaar says:

    Wow, that should be a really handsome gingerbread creation. I’ve made a couple in my lifetime but they were relatively simple (and didn’t sit around for too long as we wanted to eat the gingerbread). I can imagine the windows filled with “stained glass” (I recall melting bits of hard candy to get that effect). Do you eat the gingerbread after? I ask because of your comment that it gets soft…in my experience it’s the opposite that’s true but I live in a different climate.

    Out of totally idle curiosity…exactly who make up your “crew” (I assume not Mrs. MM and Teen and dog)? I have hired the occasional handyman/contractor/landscaper for the out-of-the-ordinary project but that’s about it as far as help goes for our household. Of course we are famously independent cusses. :)

    Dec 9, 2009 | 10:35 am

  6. yan-i says:

    Hi MM,

    looking forward to seeing your ginger bread creation this year…

    By the way this is not related to the post, but I was reading to your old post and saw something about Chicken Galantina, I was inspired to cook one, so I was hoping you could help me out. Would you happen to know where I could buy a deboned chicken? Thanks in advance MM =)

    Dec 9, 2009 | 11:42 am

  7. Joyce says:

    christmas is near! been looking forward to going home for the holidays and trolling your site to list christmas/festive recipes to try. cant wait. 15+pounds of candy, wow, that has the makings of a mansion sized candy house. goodluck to the teen

    Dec 9, 2009 | 12:07 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, In the Philippines, as in many other southeast asian households in the middle class and above, household help is fairly common, though less so than it was several decades ago. We have several staff members I count on our crew at home. And many of them have been with us for many years, and often play multiple roles. We are privileged to have them, but we also consider them to be a part of the family in many ways. I have lived in the West for many years without staff, but it sure is nice to be home again. :) I would never have been able to be as prolific with posts on this blog without the crew to back me up.

    Dec 9, 2009 | 5:13 pm

  9. chinky says:

    Looking forward to the gingerbread house this year! A Happy Christmas to you,MM and your family, and to the rest of the Marketmanila community!

    Dec 9, 2009 | 8:59 pm

  10. kurzhaar says:

    Hi Marketman…I think this is true of most ex-colonial countries, not just southeast Asia. I do make use of mechanical help, as it were (washing machines and the like), but I suspect I am far too protective of my privacy to be comfortable having other people in my home…don’t know if that’s a cultural thing (is it something one must have grown up with?) or a personal quirk.

    I must say I am even more amazed at friends who each have full time (and quite demanding) jobs and (sans any help) run an immaculate house, have well behaved children/dogs, do all of their own cooking, housework, etc., and still have time to throw wine tastings/dinner parties and make home-made cookies and knit up socks and scarves for Christmas presents. I always feel that they must have an extra day in their week that somehow I missed out on!

    Dec 10, 2009 | 12:41 am

  11. fried-neurons says:

    A big part of it is definitely cultural, IMO. I grew up in Manila, and to me having household staff was just the way it was. Never questioned it, never felt weirded out by it. I have to say that having to do everything myself was probably the biggest culture shock for me when my family moved here to California. Conversely, an American friend of mine who spent some time in Manila a couple of years ago was totally uncomfortable having household staff around 24×7 where he was staying. He said it didn’t feel right. Personally, if I could afford it here in the USA, I would hire help at the drop of a hat. :)

    Dec 10, 2009 | 4:02 am

  12. kurzhaar says:

    fried-neurons, to me, it’s not even the cost factor so much as at least a perceived diminution of privacy. I could easily afford, say, a cleaning service (and for the record I hate cleaning floors with a passion). But absent a reason such as being physically incapable of handling the chores myself, I just can’t see myself going that route. I am much better able to justify spending the money on fine wines. :) You are right, it would just feel weird to me to have other people in the house. We like our privacy too much, I guess. And yes, there is something about what “having help” implies about the socioeconomics of a place that does make me uncomfortable…maybe that is a cultural thing.

    Dec 10, 2009 | 5:11 am

  13. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, I think it’s just something one grows up with or gets used to. I completely understand the privacy issue. And like Fried Neurons, I have come across a few foreigners whose first time foreign posting to the Philippines has them uncomfortable with staff, but I must say, in some 97% of the cases, within a year or two, almost all of them have in-house staff and by their 3rd year onwards, seem extremely comfortable with the concept of having staff. If I lived in the west and could afford a full complement of staff, I would hire them without any discomfort at all… My sisters (who have lived in the US for nearly 40 years) both have extremely busy and active lives, and while they had/have housekeepers who came in for the day, or nannies and au pairs when they had young children, they both kept immaculate homes, cooked home dinners and all the other household chores as well. As Mrs. MM might say, it’s great to know you can do it all, but it’s okay too if someone else does it for you… :)

    As far as staff are concerned, I would be very happy to have Anthony Hopkins as our butler or major domo and Emma Thompson as the Head Housekeeper in a manner similar to the roles they played in the movie “Remains of the Day” based on the book by Kazuo Ishigura… Or a later movie in a similar vein, Gosford Park. I could do without the cold draughty country mansions, but give me the full staff complement any day. :)

    Dec 10, 2009 | 5:34 am

  14. kurzhaar says:

    We obviously differ considerably in our need for privacy! :) Ours is far too valuable to give up for the admitted convenience of having a “crew” around. On thinking more about it, I would be okay with a landscaping service coming around to mow the grass or shovel snow, but absolutely NOT okay with someone say, coming into the house and doing my laundry (sorry, my honest reaction to that is just…EEEWW!!!). So I think it really is a privacy issue.

    Anyway, good luck with the gingerbread construction…looking forward to the progressive photographs.

    Dec 10, 2009 | 6:41 am

  15. Ging says:

    Kurzhaar, in my case, my staff is responsible for my privacy :-) on days when i decide to sleep in, they tiptoe around my door and make sure the dogs are quiet and the phones are answered right away after the first ring. Persistent clients who insist on calling on me at home instead of the clinic are deftly passed on to the associates. Salesmen, people handing out solicitations and those wanting to talk to me so they can offer loans, insurance and credit cards are turned down politely (sometimes rudely). They act as sort of a “cordon sanitaire” for me :-).

    I know lots of people are probably raising their eyebrows at this but I do work long hours taking care of the sick and am responsible for the livelihood and source of income of another batch of people so i really appreciate it if i can totally relax when i get home.

    Dec 10, 2009 | 9:05 am

  16. kurzhaar says:

    Hmm, Ging, I work very long hours myself and often work late into the night. But I address such issues by (1) having no-one except family in the house and (2) having unlisted phone numbers.

    Mind you, when I say privacy, I mean TOTAL and absolute privacy. Not even the dogs (who sleep in our bedroom) will wake me if I am sleeping in…they know better than to stick a cold nose in my face. I can walk around our house in my skivvies if I want to. Hell, I could probably sunbathe in the back yard in the altogether! :)

    Dec 10, 2009 | 9:59 am

  17. psychomom says:

    like most people who grew up in the philippines we always had household help and therefore did not have to do household chores. but when i moved here, had to learn to do everything myself. i guess it is a matter of necessity as paying for the kind of help we have back home would be too exorbitant. there are things you have to give up (like more free time). but i manage to work a full time job, take care of the household, husband, son and dog. it takes juggling around. would LOVE to have a crew around if i could afford it. maybe when i hit the megamillions. LOL.

    Dec 10, 2009 | 11:34 am

  18. betty q. says:

    Like you Kurzhaar, I can also relate to your privacy isssues BUT more so nowadays, it is more on protective issues. I grew up surrounded by household help as well. But I have a cousin who took on the role of my second mom and gave up a life just so she can take care of us. When we left the PI, she lived with my niece who had household help and she assigned one of them to look after my cousin solely since she was in her 70’s then. This caretaker for my cousin has beeen with my niece’s husband’s family for years! But little di d my iece know that she was BEATING my cousin…NEEDLESS TO DAY, MY SIBLINGS AND I WERE FUMING AND SAW RED upon learning this. My niece pressed charges. For years, my husband asked me that if I wanted to get full time help around the house to go ahead and do so. But I refused for the reason said above.

    So, there are ceratin luxuries I say that is worth giving up for your loved ones! But here is the most heartwarming thing that my youngest son told me…”Mom, you gave up your career, your time, your life to take care of me…I in turn, will take care of you and dad when I am able to do so!”

    Sorry, MM…out of tangent! VICKY GO: I cannot access your e-mail….something to do with not having the right format…so please send me your mailing address so I can send you the package of dried scallops…to:mymudcake@hotmail.com

    That will be one mighty awesome gingerbread house, MM…just curious, what do you do with the foam structure after? ….maybe the schools can use it?…oh, it would be fun for the kids to do it as a class project…Maybe Artisan can bake the gingerbread?

    Dec 11, 2009 | 1:11 am

  19. sister says:

    Absolutely miss the help.

    Dec 11, 2009 | 3:51 am

  20. Alicia says:

    MM, sorry if I have missed a post recently- it’s been crazy- but have you written yet on how we can help with the feeding program this year since there are no bags or t-shirts? thanks

    Dec 11, 2009 | 7:28 am

  21. thelma says:

    kurzhaar, i, too, am a very private person although i didn’t mind having househelps when i was living in the philippines. it was so nice when you woke up and the breakfast was ready.
    the house was always spic and span and need not worry about laundry. having a full time househelp here is too costly. but i am happy to have a house cleaner who comes three times a week and a gardener who does the maintenance every weekend. my kids do their
    own laundry now and i don’t mind cooking which i enjoy a lot….

    Dec 11, 2009 | 10:30 am

  22. kurzhaar says:

    Hi Thelma, I actually enjoy cooking and garden chores, and I don’t mind doing laundry (I mean, how easy is that?! it’s a very meditative chore, if you know what I mean). As I mentioned, the idea of someone else’s hands on MY clothes is just, eeewww. And before anyone asks, I have almost no clothes that require dry-cleaning (that’s just too enviromentally unfriendly for me.) There are certainly chores I don’t care for, like cleaning floors, doing the dishes, or taking the trash out…but in our household that doesn’t mean hiring outside help!

    It’s different if it is family members helping out when needed, and I’m definitely one who believes that kids ought to learn that honest work is nothing to shirk (you need a clean pair of jeans, go do your laundry!). I am just re-reading Angelo Pelligrini’s autobiography of himself as an immigrant, and although that was written sixty years ago, I think his comments on how spoilt (American) kids were is still true (truer?) today.

    But I think I am just out of sync with a lot of posters here…

    Dec 11, 2009 | 11:31 am

  23. psychomom says:

    i woke up this morning thinking of MM’s feeding program. thanks alicia for bringing that up. are you still accepting donations to the feeding program MM?
    agree with you kurzhaar, majority of americans (not just kids but i think adults too) are spoilt.

    Dec 11, 2009 | 10:58 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Alicia and psychomom and others… thanks for inquiring about the feeding program. Because of all the calamities earlier this year, and an early request for readers to help after the Typhoon Ondoy, where folks sent in generous donations, I thought everyone might have donor fatigue of sorts, and since the feeding programs are funded through the end of school year 2010, I did not put out a request for donations this Christmas. And as I type this, I think I may have forgotten to respond to an email from a generous donor from Texas? who also asked the same question a few weeks ago while I was travelling… So I would suggest you channel the funds to other charitable organizations this Christmas, and thanks again for caring and asking. Mrs. MM was just at a feeding program today, sponsored by a corporation she is connected to, and they sponsored the whole week of meals… as have other companies and generous donors… so please rest assured that the kids are STILL the happy beneficiaries of MM reader donations…

    Dec 11, 2009 | 11:06 pm

  25. iris says:

    Waiting for your Christmas tree this year MM! :)

    Dec 12, 2009 | 3:06 am

  26. kurzhaar says:

    Hi Marketman, I am wondering if you are aware of Heifer International efforts in your area? I have been a supporter of Heifer for many years and know they do have livestock efforts in the Philippines, but am curious to know if you personally have seen their work?

    Dec 13, 2009 | 2:15 am

  27. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, no I have not come across Heifer (I just looked up their website)… but there are so many different groups or charitable efforts that I am definitely not aware of most of them…

    Dec 13, 2009 | 8:15 pm

  28. thelma says:

    oh, good thing that you mentioned angelo pelligrini, kurzhaar. i’ve got his
    books, too….great reading materials.

    i know what you mean when somebody does the laundry for you. many years
    ago, an older lady babysitting my son tried to do extra chores by cooking dinner
    and doing the laundry. one day when i came home from work, i found my favorite
    angora sweater and other clothes for dry cleaning ruined. she didn’t read the labels
    that some clothes were for dry cleaning.

    Dec 15, 2009 | 1:26 pm

  29. kurzhaar says:

    thelma, I love Pelligrini’s books, he was such a character!!! Glad to know others are familiar with his work. Unfortunately some of his best writing is out of print, though it’s easy enough to find second-hand copies.

    Dec 16, 2009 | 7:26 am

  30. Jewel says:

    I ‘m just happy if my gingerbread house would at least have four walls and a roof. :-) Yours looks awesome. Styrofoam for the base- what a great idea. It’ll be fun to see how it turns out.

    Dec 18, 2009 | 11:34 pm


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