A Couple of Articles For Your Reading Pleasure
From Coconut at a Glance
The United States has imported its coconuts mainly from the Philippines since 1898 when the islands became a U.S. possession at the end of the Spanish-American War.
Because lauric acid has potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, recent studies have considered coconut oil as a possible method of lowering viral levels in HIV-AIDS patients. The lauric acid may also be effective in fighting yeast, fungi, and other viruses such as measles, Herpes simplex, influenza and cytomegalovirus.
Ambrosia, a Christmas dinner dessert made by layering sliced oranges, sugar, and grated coconut in a glass bowl, was a Southern dish with origins during the plantation era. Hawaiian-style Ambrosia combines pineapple, honey, and coconut layered in a glass bowl.
In the Philippines buko, a pie made from young coconut, or makapuno, the pie using mature coconut, is a special dessert treat. The buko has a smooth, creamy texture, while makapuno pie, made from grated coconut, has a chewy texture and rich flavor.
Jeepneys - "King of the Road"
[Courtesy of UHM Center for Southeast Asian Studies, SHAPS]
Jeepneys are the poor-man's transport in the Philippines, from Batanes to the National Capital Region (Manila) and down to Davao City, in Mindanao. Found only in the Philippines, the versatile, durable and colorful jeepney is truly a mestizo - half-local and half-foreign - reflective of the national character of this uniquely Asian country. Its engine is imported, mostly from Japan, as "surplus" (second-hand) material. However, its body or chassis is designed by artistic, Filipino autobuilders who adorn it with variegated images, bouncing psychedelic colors and eardrum-breaking sounds. An average jeepney can normally seat 20 adult passengers. But in the remote areas in the countryside where transport is scarce, the versatile jeepney is typically overloaded. Passengers often ride with non-human cargoes like farm produce, or even animals.
Jeepneys began plying the streets of Manila after World War II, when U.S. soldiers left thousands of unserviceable jeeps. An entrepreneurial Caviteno named Leonardo Sarao saw in them a business opportunity for mass transport. He then remodelled the jeep to increase its functionality by extending the body to accommodate at least twice the number of passengers and by putting some railings at the back and top for extra passengers to cling to, and still leave some room for cargoes. When these GI jeeps ran out of supply, Sarao began importing surplus engines from Japan. Today, Sarao Motors proudly stands in Las Pinas City where the original jeepney is still being produced. However, competition has somewhat edged out Sarao as more jeepney factories and copycats have emerged, continually innovating and luring family buyers and transport operators alike.
What seems more striking about these jeepneys is, that they reveal something about the identity of their makers or owners. During this global age of transmigration and overseas movement of Filipino labor, it is not unusual to see markings on this vehicle's front side like "Katas ng Saudi" (literally, sweat from Saudi Arabia) to suggest that the owner bought the jeepney from his/her savings as overseas worker. Other items that catch the attention of a keen observer is the interior decor, with music loudly played from an improvised, removable radio-stereo set that keeps the driver awake. In front of the driver is a religious icon (usually a cross or a picture of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary), a lei made of fragrant sampaguita, and a "No Smoking" sign that the driver himself ironically ignores.
In a sense, the jeepney is a testament to the Filipino ingenuity. It symbolizes the diasporic, religious and sometimes perplexing character of a people colonized by two European powers.
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