Friday, February 27, 2015

The Small C. Part VIII. My Brother Anton

(This blogpost is part VIII of “The Small C”, a series o f posts, on my experience with cancer and insights I gained from it).

About two months before I was diagnosed with cancer, the possibility that I might have it sometime in the future crossed my mind.  I did wonder just when and what kind I would have.  Cancer runs in my family.  Both my parents had it and so did my late younger brother Anton.  It is in my genes.

Though I had anticipated it would happen sometime in my life,  I was still taken by surprise on December 2011 when I heard the news that I had a rare cancer of the sweat glands, luckily at a very early stage.  I did not expect it to happen in my early sixties and not with a disease that I never heard of.

One of the persons l called up on the phone upon hearing the news was my late brother, Anton.  I needed to make that phone call. I needed to convince myself all would be well by talking to someone who had gone through hell and back.

Anton, me and my sister, Bebeng.

At that time, Anton had survived lymphoma (both Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins) for already five years and had gone through both chemotherapy and radiation.  He also went through cycles of remission, relapse and remission two or three times during those five years.  He also survived dying from a failed heart a consequence of the chemotherapy he had undergone.  He had to wear a pacemaker as a result.  His wife, Chet, kept us updated everytime he had his yearly CAT scan via email that we all awaited with much anxiety and with a lot of prayers in our hearts that all would be okay that coming year.

I needed someone I can emulate during the period before and after my radiation treatment. I was plagued with the question, "How do I live with having and surviving the Big C or Small C in my case and the uncertainties it presents"?  I only had to look to Anton as my model of courage, optimism and enthusiasm for life and living despite the uncertainties he was dealing with. 

Through all the ups and downs of his experience with cancer he never quit living fully.  He went back to work immediately after his first chemotherapy.  He traveled with his wife, Chet, to the Philippine several times.  They even toured Hongkong during one visit home.  They also took vacations in Las Vegas and visited his daughter, Gia, in Toronto and our sisters in Los Angeles during holidays. 

We celebrated his birthday twice in 2011.  The first time was at my niece Jona's place in Los Angeles.

At that time Anton had lymphedema and I find it inspiring that despite having that condition I heard him talking to my niece Jona about scuba diving and going through websites about it during that day's celebration of his and other co-celebrants' birthdays.  It was amazing that he never let go of his dreams though impossible they may seemed.

During the second celebration, he treated us to the buffet at Pachanga Casino close to Los Angeles where we had a sumptuous meal which included as much lobster as we wanted.  The pictures below attest to the fact we all were happy to celebrate Anton's birthday and his wonderful life despite all odds he had to face.

Two years passed without us hearing any bad news until we got an email from Chet in 2013 that Anton was stricken with a different cancer, leukemia.  My sister, Bebeng, called our two brothers in the Philippines and myself who lives in Pittsburgh to come down that summer to San Francisco where Anton lived.  His condition was bad and my sister wanted us to be together because one could not tell what would happen.  I just had my knee surgery and could hardly bend my knee but I went.  When my sister Bebeng calls, you follow.

During my stay at Anton's place we had a wonderful time since Benjie, one of my two brothers living in the Philippines, was able to make it.  Bebeng and my other sister, Menchie, live in Los Angeles and were actually taking turns helping Chet take care of my brother Anton through his extensive treatments at Stanford for his leukemia.  My two sisters also made everyday a feast during my visit by cooking everybody's favorite dishes. 

I had been aware that several people were worried if my brother Anton was prepared to meet his Creator when the time came.  He was not religious and had not set foot in church for several years but I knew without any doubt he was spiritual.  I did not want him to be plagued with fear or guilt especially when other people nagged him about the state of his soul.  I do not know what came over me but on one occasion during my visit, I assured him that his life itself, with all the pain and sacrifices he had gone through with serenity and acceptance, was in itself a prayer.  I also assured him that God was not a judgemental God but a loving one who forgives and loves us unconditionally.

He was uncomplaining and always looking after what other people needed before his own.  He was also gifted with a delightful sense of humor.  All the nurses at Stanford loved him. And boy was he also handsome. 

Anton was a very considerate and thoughtful person.  I found out from his wife that despite being too tired and sleepy during my visit in 2013, he would try to be awake so he could listen to me babbling.  He knew I loved to talk and was always needy for attention.  I did not know about this not until Chet told me days after Anton was buried.  Anton finally passed away March 2014. 

In October 2013, months before he died, he was given a wonderful gift.  He dreamt of angels who appeared as little children in white dancing in heaven.  They were very happy.  When he woke up he was repeatedly saying the word, "Paraiso", which means paradise.  God is really good.  This was his gift to my wonderful brother, a glimpse of what heaven was like, which tide him over till his death.

We all miss him but his life will always be an inspiration to us all on how to live life fully and with total acceptance of what it brings.

Dulce's Liver Pate

Our Class '65 of St. James Academy Malabon, Philippines had an out of town trip to Tuguegarao where we stayed at the Las Palmas de San Jose Hotel owned by Bob and Myrna Guzman. This trip was just one of several activities planned by the class '65 Golden Jubilee planning commitee.

Bob and Myrna Guzman, our gracious hosts and owner of the beautiful Las Palmas Hotel, Tuguegarao Philippines.

During the sumptuous breakfast, Dulce Quimson shared the liver Pate she brought from home and which she prepared using the recipe below. Everybody wanted the recipe since it was that good.  Here it is.

Dulce Quimson

Dulce's Liver Pate


  • 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) chicken liver
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • leaves from 6 stems of sage
  • 2 pinches of thyme
  • 5 stalks of onion leeks, chopped
  • 6 or more tbsps of brandy
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 tbsps cream
Squeeze the lemon over the liver and then rinse the liver with water. Marinate the liver in the milk for an hour.

Saute the onions in butter.  Remove the liver from the milk and add to the onions.  Add the sage, thyme, salt, pepper and onion leeks.  Add the brandy and Worcestershire Sauce and simmer the mixture till the liver is cooked.  Once the liver is cooked, add the cream.

Place all the mixture in a blender.  Cool for 5 minutes.

Grease the bottom of 4 ramekins with butter.  Distribute the liver pate into the ramekins and if you like add more butter on top.

Cool the pate in the refrigerator.  The pate also freezes well.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Slow Cooker Hoisin Pork Loin

Simple.  Easy.  Delicious.   Few ingredients are used but the sauce is incredibly awesome.  You will want to drink it.  The tender pork loin doused with this amber colored sweet and salty sauce is perfect for family dinners or even for entertaining.  Serve it with rice, pasta or potato.  So good and easy!  This might be your go to recipe for pork loin. 

Slow Cooker Hoisin Pork Loin


2 lbs pork loin
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook for 4 hours at high and 8 hours at low setting.  I cooked mine in an Aroma Brand Rice Cooker/Slow Cooker for 3 hours at slow cooker setting.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ham Salad Spread

This ham spread on two pieces of white bread spells satisfaction to me. It is a good recipe for using leftover ham you have from holidays when you decided to buy pounds of ham since it was on sale.  It is creamy, salty and with a tinge of sweetness from the relish.  The mustard added gives it a special tang.

Ham Salad Spread

(Adapted from the Allrecipes website)


  • 3 cups chopped ham
  • 2 cups chopped hardboiled eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tbsps sweet pickle relish
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.  You can also place the ingredients in a food processer, pulse till well blended and end up with a finer textured spread.

Serve with crackers or as a filling for a hearty ham sandwich.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Pork and Beans

This is an easy robust dish to prepare for your family when you want something hot and ready for them at the end of the day.  It is just a matter of opening cans and bottle of ingredients you have in the pantry: pork and beans and barbecue sauce.  These two make up the delicious and mouth-watering sauce.  I adapted this recipe from the one found in the Taste of Home which used boneless pork loin.  I instead used pork shoulder blade roast (including bone) since that was what I had. I find this cut to be tastier and more moist than the loin but less lean, however. 

The resulting dish is fall off the bone roast with a sweet and smoky sauce.  It is so mouth-watering you might be tempted to finish half of it as you pull the roast apart fot serving.

Slow Cooker Pork and Beans

(Adapted from the Taste of Home)


  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) pork and beans
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 3-lb pork shoulder blade roast or other cut of pork

Mix the first five ingredients in the slow cooker bowl.
Place the whole pork shoulder blade roast or other cut of pork meat on top.  You can cut the meat in half if it does not fit the bowl.  Place the sauce all over the pork meat. 
Cook in the slow cooker for four hours at high setting or 8 hours at low setting.  I used the Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker where I cooked it for 4 hours at slow cook setting. 
You can serve the roast as is or you can also remove the roast out of the slow cooker and pull apart the meat with two forks.  You can then return the pulled pork into the slow cooker. 
Serve with rice, corn bread or toasted bread or as a filling for a pulled pork sandwich.