Category: Folklore

Kissing Bow – Romantic Christmas

Kissing Bow – Romantic Christmas

Let’s make Christmas that extra more fun and I dare say romantic as well.  Forget mistletoe, let’s have a kissing bow.

Making one will bring out the artistic side in you.

Add anything you want like apples, grapes, garland of ivy, tinsels, etc.  You are only constraint by your imagination.  Hold these together with a wire coat hanger.

Blue Peter’s John Noakes with the Advent Crown

If you are familiar with Children BBC’s Blue Peter, then a kissing bow should be a doddle.

Making a kissing bow is pretty similar with building and creating the  Advent Crown.

Another thing to add to this kissing bow to highlight it are lights.  Thank goodness you can have a fire-proof battery operated Christmas lights now widely available in the market for a pound or two.

Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya, Photo by PH Morton

Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya is so bitter so it is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.  But having said that, once you get used to its taste, you might actually love it as an ingredients to many recipes.

Ampalaya, is a Tagalog name for bitter gourd and it is called parya in the Ilocos region of the Philippines where I spent my childhood eating our own homegrown parya.

There is a Filipino legend how this vegetable got its bitter taste.


Alamat ng Ampalaya:

Once upon a time, there was a Green Garden, where all sorts of vegetables grew robustly and profusely.

In this verdant garden, there grew pumpkins with unique sweetness.

There were tomatoes with slight sourness but with fair, soft complexion.

The eggplants were sublime in their royal purple coats.

The lettuce carpeted the ground with their dewey leaves as they look up to the early morning sun.

The jicamas were as fresh and crisp as a new day.

Rhizomes of spicy ginger stood majestically amongst the vegetables.

The onions, shyly confident with their breathtaking thin delicate skin, that they make one cry!.

The daikon radish is the fairest of them all and knows it very well. 🙂

In the far corner stood a little gourd, waiting, watching, hoping to be noticed.

But she was different from the rest, she was wan and pale with a taste that was hard to explain . Day after day she watched the others with their boasting, their preening, their chattering, their joy.

She can’t help  but compare herself with them.  The more she does the more she thought that she cannot measure up with anyone.  As days passed, she can’t bear it anymore, she planned and plotted to carry out a most heinous scheme.

As soon as it got dark, she stealthily went from one vegetable to the next and the next until she had taken all their outstanding qualities.

Overnight the ampalaya became the belle of the Green Garden.  Everyone where asking where did she come from.  She was admired for her beauty and utter perfection.

But there is no secret that can be hidden forever.  The other vegetables start to suspect that there is something that is not quite right.

As  the sun was just setting, the vegetables covertly followed ampalaya in her corner of the Green Garden.  To their amazement, they saw her peel each of the layers of the qualities that made her so perfect.  Without much ado, the vegetables frogmarched the now wan and pale ampalaya to see the Fairy Queen of the Green Garden.

The Queen was not amused.  She looked over at the amplaya and could not believe why she was not satisfied with her beautiful pale appearance!  As a punishment, she let it be known that from the next new light, the ampalaya will wake up with dark warty lumpy skin and the bitterest of taste.  And she would always either be loved or hated for all eternity.

Moral of the story:  everyone is beautiful, you just have to cultivate your own asset!


Legend of Seahorse (Alamat Ng Kabayo Kabayohan)

Seahorse, photo by JMorton

Seahorses are a strange creatures. Their heads, up to their necks, resemble that of a horse. This of course influenced their scientific classification name. 🙂

They belong to the genus Hippocampus, a word derived from two Greek words: hippo meaning ‘horse’ and campos as ‘sea monster’.

Seahorses live in seagrasses and corals in the shallow tropical temperate water.

Legend of Seahorse (Alamat Ng Kabayo Kabayohan)

In the Philippines, there is a legend that might explain why these marine creatures look like horses. This legend was adapted from the Outline of Philippine Mythology by F. Landa Jocano

Long ago in the province of Cavite, located in the Southern shores of Manila de Bay, two majestic horses, a stallion and a mare, were enjoying the bright morning sun, occasionally grazing at the verdant grass by the seashore.

These two horses were rather special.  They were  personal ‘pets’ of the sea god, Amanikable.

Anyway, the idyllic time was disturbed by a sudden flurry of activities.

There in the distant was a group of men and their ferociously barking dogs.

This unsettled the horses a great deal as the men and dog are fast heading their way.

The men did not look friendly and the dogs doubled up their frenzied barking.

Both the mare and stallion started galloping but it was too late.  They have been cornered.

The mare looked up to the sky piteously and prayed to Amanikable.  All the while the stallion circling the mare to protect.

“Please great lord of the sea, save us from these beings.  We besiege you to help us. Please not abandon us in our time of need” the mare prayed.

Amanikable heard the lamentable but solemn request of the mare.

He commanded the sea to create the biggest waves, huge enough to swallow the whole shore, including the mare and stallion.

But the horses are unable to swim.  With pity and great care Amanikable turned them into aquatic animals.  Fish but not quite like fish.

Being favoured ‘pets’ of the Amanikable, a crown like spine grew out of their heads.

The grass washed away by the waves into the sea became seaweeds, where the magically created seahorses now live and feed.

This is the legend of the seahorse.

Seahorse, photo by JMorton

Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – Fire Rooster Year

Fire Rooster, Photo by PH Morton

Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – Fire Rooster Year

Rooster, photo by PH Morton

Rooster, photo by PH Morton

To everyone, let us wish you a Happy Chinese New Year.

Kung Hei Fat Choi

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster.

The fire rooster symbolises fidelity and punctuality.  I can understand the latter one as rooster will cock-o-doodle-do at the crack of dawn serving as an alarm clock to early risers especially farmers and field workers.

We used to keep roosters and chicken in our farm in Marag.  As peacocks, they are really stunning lookers compared to the hens.

Who are the roosters?

They are those born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2015, 2029 (Year of the Rooster comes every 12 years)

Have a piri-piri chicken. We hope this New Year is full of trips to KFC, Jollibee and McDo and have a lovely chickenjoy! 🙂 🙂 😉

Happy New Year!

Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

As our dear visitors can see in the title heading of our blog, we describe it as being a Commonplace Book.

What is a commonplace book?!!!

It has a very long history; the first commonplace books are believed to have been compiled from the 14th century and continued to be popular onto the19th century.

They can be regarded as a kind of scrap book where the compiler noted and collected scraps of information, etc. Entries are made only in handwriting and if needed illustrated by hand too. These were what differed a commonplace book from a scrap book –  no cutting and pasting bits of paper!.


commonplace book

The  subjects of interest can be diverse; such as poems, prose, short essays, tracts, critique, prayers, observations,academic, thoughts/ideas on subjects, drawings/illustrations, myths, folklore, quotes, news, lists, recipes, facts on various subjects, etc.

Collecting items like this to record in a book was called  commonplacing.

Commonplace books were first known in fourteenth century Italy. They were known as zibaldone.   The books were referred by Italians as “salads of many herbs.”

They often included sketches and cursive written scripts. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio kept such books.

17th-century-commonplace book

17th century commonplace book

Later among others, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Francis Bacon,Mark Twain  and John Milton all kept commonplace books.

A Commonplace book is not a diary or a journal,

Commonplace books contained notes and sometimes drawings on subjects, which were of particular interest to the collector and compiler. The collector may have copied/sketched or made notes of articles, tracts etc., from rare and not generally available books. Public access to libraries were rare too in those days.

These compilers may even had contributed to the social media of their age when showing or lending out their books to others.

We think  today’s 21st Century internet blogs serve as a type of commonplace book.

The blogger collects items of interest to themselves from various sources the internet, newspapers, reference books (as we do) etc., and which they think might interesting to others by sharing on line.

Humans have an insatiable thirst for the varied and diverse topics that make up our modern lives.

Welcome to our commonplace book, welcome to


Second Full Moon of the Month

Yesterday on Friday 31  July there was a rare astronomical event close to home that many might not have noticed, a second full moon of the month.

They sky over London last night was generally clear and where I live in NW London was exceptional with few clouds.

I gazed up and saw a full moon. what was unusual is that it was the second full moon in a calendar month.

 Second Full Moon of the Month

I took this photo of it at around 1 am (Saturday morning) from our back garden.

Second Full moon July AKA a 'blue moon'

Second Full moon July AKA a ‘blue moon’


Normally  there are 29.5 days between full moons and therefore a full moon once a month. Such moons are known as a ‘blue moon’

A blue moon is defined  as the second full moon in a calendar month.  We have a saying that a rare event or happening occurs ‘once in a blue moon.’

The next Blue Moon will be in May 2016.

Even rarer, are have two blue moons in a  calendar year this last  happened in 1999. There were two full moons in January and two full moons in March and no full moon in February. So both January and March had Blue Moons.

The  full moon is given a name for each month of the year it appears.

January: the Wolf Moon, February: the Snow Moon, March: the Worm Moon, April: the Pink Moon, May: the Flower Moon, June: the Strawberry Moon, July: the Buck Moon, August: the Sturgeon Moon, September: the Harvest Moon, October: the Hunter’s Moon, November: the Beaver Moon, December: the Cold Moon.

More well-known here are the Harvest Moon in September as centuries ago, this full moon helped farmers gather their harvest in at night. The Hunter’s Moon appears brighter and larger, which aided hunters at night in fields and forests.

Enjoy gazing at our constant,  closest, changeless, celestial neighbour 🙂

New Year Superstitions: Fruits


13 (14 really) fruits for good fortune for the new year. Photo by PH Morton

oh oh, it seems we Filipinos are doing it wrong.  It is not supposed to be 13 but 8.  Eight is enough!  Eight means infinity.  8 is a good luck number for the Chinese, who we adopted this tradition of fruit good luck for the New Year!

I have to rethink my fruit display next year or rather end of this year.  OmG, I have to make a decision what to include in my fruit trog.  I have about 15 this year!

~The pressure!

Anyway, whatever the numbers of fruits in your  basket, I hope and wish you a fantastic, fabulous and fruitful (lol) 2015!

Read below some interesting legends about New Year traditions!

New Year Superstitions: Fruits

Round fruits bring luck this New Year? Traditions explained

Posted at 12/30/2010 2:23 PM | Updated as of 12/31/2010 11:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos have traditionally observed serving certain food items such as round-shaped fruits on New Year’s eve, as influenced by the Chinese.

The belief that certain foods bring luck and good fortune is shared by many, but there are some who join the “fad” not knowing the real reason behind it.

Chinese entrepreneurs Gerard and Jeric Chua of famed hopia maker Eng Bee Tin talked to dzMM’s “Todo-Todo, Walang Preno” program on Wednesday to give light to the meaning behind the tradition of using certain foods at this time of the year.

1. Round-shaped fruits: Eight, and not 12 or 13, round-shaped fruits must be served. “8 lang talaga ang number of fruits kasi 8 ang lucky number ng mga Chinese. It means infinity,” said Gerard.

2. Pineapple fruit on windows and doors: Due to its numerous “eyes”, the pineapple symbolizes an eye for successful career and opportunities.

3. Tikoy: “Ang tikoy kasi malagkit, matamis at bilog. Malagkit symbolizes unity in the family all year round. Matamis symbolizes close relationships, and bilog, ibig sabihin ay pera,” Gerald explained.

4. Fortune/flower cake: It is believed to bring about the blooming of character, personality and relationship among family members.

5. Spring Rolls: These symbolize unity, cooperation and understanding in the family all-year round.

6. Hopia. The bean-filled pastry hopia symbolizes hope and eternity.

7. Even numbers: All food items must come in even numbers except for the number 4. “Four kasi sa Chinese ay ‘si’, meaning death. ’Yung 9 naman, inverted 6. Omen number ang 666 kaya ayaw talaga ng mga Chinese,” said Gerard.

Myths debunked

The Chua brothers, also volunteer firefighters, debunked various food myths.

1. Myth: Serving chicken or any poultry product on Media Noche, the traditional New Year’s eve feast, will bring poverty and hardships.

“Hindi naman totoo ‘yun. Sa panahon ngayon, lagi nang inihahanda ‘yung chicken sa New Year,” said Jeric.

2. Myth: Don’t serve fruits with black seeds as these will bring bad fortune.

The Chua brothers said that the color of a fruit’s seed will never determine your fortune.

3. Myth: Serving shrimps and prawns during Media Noche brings bad luck for these are known to be bottom dwellers.

The brothers said that prawns symbolize prosperity and good health.

Gerard and Jeric reminded the public not to be overly attached to traditions.
“Para sa amin, hindi naman talaga importante na sundin iyon. Basta sama-sama buong pamilya at may nakakain ay sasagana naman for the next year,” Gerard ended.


For maximum good fortune in terms of money 😉  it is also advised to hang circular fruits like grapes around the house especially around windows!


Weeping Willow


Weeping Willow Photo by PH Morton

Weeping Willow

The weeping willow is such a beautiful tree, with its cascading branches, twigs and leaves seem determine to  touch the ground.

Though it is really graceful and majestic, this tree has some really negative superstitions attached to it. It probably has  to do with its rather forlorn appearance of stooping leaves trying to reach the ground, it looks like all the troubles in the world hang on its branches, there is a sense of defeat!

Did you know?

Weeping willows symbolises mourning, especially of bereavement! Not very nice!

Apparently it is unlucky to cut the branches off!


There is a legend that the first weeping willow in England was planted by none other the flamboyant Alexander Pope.  Apparently he received a gift of figs, contained in a willow basket, from turkey.  From the basket he broke off a sprig or a twig and planted it in his garden adjacent to a river bank.  The constant flow of water ensured that the twig flourished and grew into a verdant weeping willow tree.

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