Before my family and I got started on a day of cooking and eating to welcome the New Year (yes, this post is nine days overdue), my husband and I decided to walk around Quezon Memorial Circle on the morning of December 31. It’s a national park located along the Elliptical Road in Quezon City, where the 66-meter tall Quezon Memorial Shrine stands. Inside the shrine is a small museum and mausoleum with the remains of the Philippines’ second president, Manuel Quezon.
I think I was in elementary school when I first set foot in the shrine for an educational outing. Most people though go to the circle for the park grounds. It comes alive in the mornings when joggers run around the perimeter (there’s even a running clinic every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 am, Saturdays at 7 am, and Sunday at 5:30 am). On weekends, families bring their kids to the playground, fly some kites, ride a paddle boat or an aqua bike in the teeny man-made pond, and during the holidays, go the the carnival for some merry-go-round and Ferris wheel action. There’s also vegetable market, a zip line, a sad-looking soccer pitch (it looked like it needed some major work) and even a fish spa (dip feet in a water tank filled with fish and let the fish do the work.)
Should those activities make you hungry, you can also grab some grub afterward. People have breakfast in one of the many modest stalls and restaurants selling mostly Filipino food–breakfast favorites of various silog (fried rice with egg and meat of choice), lugaw or congee, champorado (chocolate rice porridge), all varieties of kakanin (rice cakes), barbecued meats, and so much more. Since it was December, there were the Filipino Christmas staples of bibingka (a type of rice cake made with coconut milk) and puto bumbong (a distinctly purple rice cake traditionally cooked in bamboo). I prefer the salty, sweet taste and the fluffy cake texture of the bibingka, but bought some puto bumbong as well before heading home for my brother who recently discovered he loved it. There’s also the beloved ‘dirty’ ice cream. If you’re not familiar with Filipino food, it’s the cheaper and street food version of ice cream. ‘Dirty’ because it’s peddled on the street and street food typically doesn’t really score high in proper sanitation. Never got sick from it when I was a kid though.
The Quezon Memorial Circle is the nearest open space from our house (closer than UP Diliman), but unfortunately P and I rarely go there. I suggested that we should spend more mornings there this year–to run, to eat, to just take a break from the usual mall-movie-restaurant weekend outings.
An impending new year always brings thoughts of what you want to start doing. A few changes you know would be good for you. To go outdoors more. Write more. Get distracted less. Keep running. Keep hoping. Save more. Bring an extra bag every time I go out. Cut down on plastic bags. Cut down on water bottles. Cut down on the Internet. Read more books. Be braver.