Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Just arrived from a midnight candlelight service
Remembering the One Light in our lives
Christmas carols sung by a melodic choir
The cool evening breeze somehow warming our hearts
Melting into the arms of loved ones
Thankful for the mercy and the grace that has seen us through another year...
May the spirit of of the season be with you all as well.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
It's Saturday evening.
2 days before Christmas.
Metro Manila is in the midst of the chaos of endless parties and last minute shopping.
Before we lose ourselves in the frenzy of tiangges, bazaars, lechon, leche flan, traffic gridlock, haggling, malls, brand names, bibingka, puto bumbong, fireworks, caroling, San Migs, blarin'music, ferris wheels, carnivals, christmas lights and the like ...
Allow me pass this prayer by you ...
A Christmas Prayer
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.
Find a moment of peace
And remember that it is all about Jesus Christ.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I had a couple more than I could handle,
Needed to slow down
Recover my senses
I was saying much too much
Revealing too many things ...
I was with friends
At the end of a very long day
Just hanging out
Just talking about anything under the sun
(or perhaps it was under the moon)
I was in BRAVA (again...) - my watering hole of the moment
Classy little place
Lounge music in the background
High tables and high chairs on the ground floor
Romantic seating for twos and fours at the mezzanine
Sumptuous "cichetto" -( small snacks )
Juicy tenderloin strips
Or choose from their "pizzeria" fare
Drown in bellinis, martinis, cosmopolitans, mojitos, caipirinhas - all flavored with self made naturally flavored alcoholic "infusion" bases.
There is the new Absolut LEVEL high end vodka
Or your pick of the smoothest single malts available
And then to cap the evening (you've gotta' try this) - order a "Flaming Lamborghini"
It starts with Grenadine+Blue Curacao+Bailey's+Gallano in a stemmed cocktail glass on the table ,
Then the bartender sifts some Sambuca in another glass and ignites it to form a blue flame
He then pours the blue flame down in a vertical stream towards the bottom glass
When the flaming Sambuca mixes with the Grenadine et al - you are asked to suck the mix up with a straw
Bottoms up ...
Down the hatch ...
Thaaaaaaat is hot stuff
A flaming mix of flavors with an alcoholic kick
It's a knockout
If only for this- you really have to try the place out
Good music ....
Now all I need is a baaaaaaaaaaaaaad girl
BRAVA @ Serendra Piazza
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
He runs a photoblog - My Sari Sari Store
Sidney follows my Daguldol food trips, and occasionally he comments on them with genuine interest despite the fact that he is transitioning himself into a self-confessed vegetarian, while I am and always will be a true, blue carnivore ...
Wiki says that - "Vegetarianism is the practice of a diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, and slaughter by-products."
People may choose to be vegetarians because of moral, cultural, ethical, religious, environmental, social, political, economic, aesthetic, taste or perhaps most often for health reasons.
Society is increasingly recognizing, respecting and accommodating such a choice.
There is no better way to learn than to try.
CHIMARA is coined from the Greek word "chimera" meaning "an impossible dream"
But the food - what about the food?
Guess what ?
The "mock" beef was a beef look-alike which I understand is soy-based.
I went home with a "take-out" of popcorn "popped" in olive oil
Monday, December 10, 2007
I was scanning a well circulated paper the other night and I just happened to notice this ad.
Screaming into my face,
Penetrating my mind .
Heyyyyyy ... a "purely social date"
What could be more harmless than that?
I could just walk out of the house one evening
And when wifey asks .... " excuse me - and where do you think you are going?"
I could say ... "uhmmmmmmmm - I will just be doing some social work."
And with a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eyes she would say ... "oh that is great -I am so proud of you "
And off I would go ...
No big deal - just a "purely social date"
Anyway- if I really were on a date
(With none other of course than my housemate and "escort" of many years) ,
I would be wanting to spend part of the evening just chilling out in a small, quiet, elegant, cozy bar serving the best drinks in town ...
A place with the warmth to ignite conversation
And the character to enhance the evening.
Such a place is BRAVA
Open for just about a week now,
This little nook in the Serendra Piazza of Fort Bonifacio is a wonderful new find
Dark wood, bricks and glass come together to create an elegance that is immediately attractive
Muted ceiling lighting allows accenting of the uplit bar which is lined by the liquor basics
The bartender is a friendly and engaging pro
He explains the concept of "infusing" the basic alcoholic base like vodka with different flavors to create unique and totally interesting signature drinks
We tried their version of a Peach Bellini
Then became adventurous with a Tartuofo martini and a spicy Choco-chili martini
One could spend an evening just taste-testing their concoctions
Light bar chow is available to complete the experience
Operated by the highly reputed L'Opera restaurant group,
BRAVA positions itself as a pre and post dinner bar
Its seating in the mezzanine against a lighted wine holder rack, however, is conducive enough to want to order a full dinner from the co-owned Balducci Italian restaurant just next door
(They do allow this -by the way)
So if you are in the area,
Join me for a drink
You just might catch me "socializing"
I'll be the jerk in the corner seat with a silly smile on his face
And a "classy Brazilian beauty" on his lap ...
Bonifacio Global City
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Thursday - November 29, 2007
In the early morning, I was in a queue at Manila's NAIA 2 airport for another necessary trip to Hong Kong.
The flight was expectedly late to depart - and arrived in HK just before lunch.
As I checked into a modest hotel room with wonderful goose down pillows, I started to link-up to the world by broadband ...
BREAKING NEWS ...
Omigoshhhhh - a military "rebellion" was taking place in Manila
The Peninsula Manila Hotel - whose lobby was one of my fave hang-outs , was under siege
Police and soldiers had the hotel surrounded
An ultimatum to a break-away "oppositionist" group led by a Senator, a 1-star general, and a former vice-president had been sent
This is the stuff of which Philippine political "tele-nobelas" are made
A few hours later the deadline had been breached
Wait, wait, wait - omigudnesss goshhhhhhhh
An armored personnel carrier (a tank to many of us) - started firing endless rounds into the lobby
Tear gas was fired in as well
And the "tank" started ramming into the doors and into the front wall of this pristine 5-star refuge in the middle of Metro Manila's financial district
Within minutes, the rebels who had warned that they would die for their cause if need be, started complaining that the tear gas was hurting their eyes (huh??)
Then the "never surrender" heroes promptly surrendered ...
The tele-nobela was over - as quickly as it had started
And my favorite hotel?
It survived - but its wonderful lobby which had been converted into a war zone was ruined
The hotel was evacuated and closed for 3 days
By Monday it was ready to re-open
I arrived from HK the night before
As soon as I wrapped up the days work - I hied off to the Peninsula
In part for curiosity
In part to support my fave hotel's "re-opening"
I invited a few friends to the now "historic" lobby for a couple of drinks
The lobby had been restored with its 30+ foot Christmas tree as center piece
The glass doors were replaced temporarily by wooden board ups
Without the glass - there was an eerie feeling of confinement
Like walking into a giant cabinet and having the doors close behind you ...
Having overdosed on Chinese cuisine these past few weeks, I was hungry for anything Filipino
So it was good old "arroz caldo" for me ...
Hmmmmmmmm - arroz caldo, white wine and friends
In the lap of what was a firing range just a couple of days ago
In a historic hotel that once again made history !
Only in the Philippines .....
The Peninsula Manila Hotel
corner Ayala and Makati Avenues
City of Makati
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Jupiter Street in Makati has been in the commercial "intensive care unit" for several years now.
Once a center of crowd filled exuberance, it had slowly lost its luster.
It was slowly dying a natural death -suffering from the intense competition of areas like Greenbelt, Rockwell and Taguig's Global City.
Even as I write this, the city is wracking its brains to come up with a strategy to lure entrepreneurs back to the area.
And maybe something is working ...
It was a pleasant surprise to see new enterprises open along the strip
Wonderful retail niche stores
Avant garde health and wellness units
And refreshing food concepts ...
Among them is Mickey's
Mickey's positions itself as a delicatessen
In it's original European essence, the "delikatessen" is a source of top quality "fine foods" without the take -out (fast)food component that has evolved in the American version of the "deli".
Mickey's is an interesting mix of both versions
One enters with a full view of a delicatessen display counter
As well as a flamed grilling kiosk
Mouthwatering cuts of sausages, hams,meats, cold cuts, cheese, and other products pleasantly greets the eyes
Servers in dainty uniforms smile and answer inquiries readily
Prices appear reasonable
Perhaps while waiting - you might want to sample some of the resto fare as we did
Tasty Hungarian Goulash got the ball rolling
Then a Sausage Platter to really get the juices going
Crunchy delicious stuff ...
The driving force behind this project is Michael Beck - former chef/butcher of Manila Hotel
That explains the quality and professonalism that prevails
If you are in the area
And are in a sausage mood ...
Try it out
4 Jupiter St.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
China is an amazing country
Full of culture and heritage
The strength of their past is the foundation of their future
That plus the fact that there are over 1 BILLION of them to push their country forward
The cities are full of dynamism
You can feel change as it occurs
The vibrance of progress is tangible
The power of commerce is explosive
Truly - China will be a major part of the world's future
Whenever I travel in China, I have illusions of being able to find one product or perhaps one store that might "click" in the Philippines
I kid myself that I will find this product or store - and bring it to Manila where it will be a resounding success
So successful that I will be able to retire in peace on some quiet white sand beach - away from the cruelties of urban life ...
Surrounded only by the basics in life like airconditioning , a large format plasma screen with 5.1 surround sound, an ipod, a MacBook, satellite TV and DSL.
The SUV outside will of course always be on the ready to whisk me off to another part of the island to play the compulsory game on the neatly manicured international play level Tiger Woods designed golf course.
All this under the watchful caring eyes of my designated sex slave of the day ...
Nothing much - just a simple life
A Lear jet's ride away from the craziness of Manila
And on this last trip of mine to China , I think I may have found the store - or at least, the brand.
The product I might sell has been historically successful throughout the ages
The interest is overwhelming
The market is endless
The demand is insatiable
Wish me luck
There is much development to be done on the product
But I really think it will sell ...
You might want to place an advance order ...
Act now - before the best ones are taken
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Well - I was in China
And as I found out to my disappointment, China has blocked the "BLOGGER" or "BLOGSPOT" site.
(Heyyyyyy - they have even blocked Wikipedia)
Arrrrrghhhhhhhhh - no blogging for me
I felt decapitated
It is at times like this that I realize how much the freedom of the Internet has become such a part of me ....
And when it is taken away
It is really weird
Scary actually ...
Anyway - I was in China on mission for my office
I had to visit a factory which was about one and a half hours away from a major Chinese city center
A very dark and dreary industrial zone
My hosts were beside themselves in trying to please me
They conferred upon me the status of "honored guest"
Accordingly they fed me like a king ...
Only the best for me
And the "best" in their eyes included such honorific cuisine as pigeon, duck, snake, rabbit and turtle ...
Not exactly my cup of tea
But -uhhhmmmmmmm - I was an honored guest
I really had no choice except to just bear it and grin
Not only that, I had to finish everything on my plate - lest I inadvertently insult their sensitivities
And so it was that for the first time in my life I had not just turtle soup but turtle meat
The whole idea of eating a "turtle" just boggled my mind
I tried to block off mental pictures of cutie little "pet turtles" ...
And having done that, I had to contend with the concept itself, of having to swallow "turtle" as food
I know it is considered a "delicacy"
And the intent of my hosts were noble
But I just really had difficulty with the idea
I slowly chomped through the rubbery meat
And chewed on the slimy gelatinous film that had formed on the shell as it was cooked
Then - I slurped my way through the oily soup down to the bottom of the bowl
Perhaps as some consolation - I was told that eating turtle was not only beneficial to the immune system and health in general but that it was also an aphrodisiac ...
Ohhhhhhhhh great - an aphrodisiac
Only problem was that I was traveling alone ...
It is hard enough to be alone ...
But it is even harder to be "hard"... alone !
Sunday, November 11, 2007
It is slowly taking shape and will clearly be up and running by Christmas.
There is a frenzy of activity as stores are finishing the necessary construction work to outdo each other in this high end mall
Even now some food and retail outlets have “soft opened” to lead the pack …
Clearly a take-off from the iconic Beatle John Lennon and his beloved Yoko Ono, the name also implies a mix of East and West as reflected in fusion dishes that are strangely familiar but new
The restaurant is immediately attractive even from a distance as its neon inspired colors beckon
An innovative mix of stainless steel and warehouse drab completes a look that is Japanese in a very modern anime way …
Young very today music airs in the background
And the lighting will keep you mesmerized
Among its owners is Marvin Agustin – a showbiz personality who is wisely investing his hard-earned money in restaurant ventures (this being his third)…
The celebrity ownership adds to John and Yoko’s allure
It is, as early as now, being touted as a “must go” or at the very least a “must try”
The food offering is not surprisingly simila
The menu offers both traditional Japanese fare, and interesting neoNippon concoctions
Endless rockin’ sashimi and rollin’ sushi choices
Times passes by rather quickly as one chomps through one dish to the next
The food offering is not surprisingly similar to another Marvin Agustin resto, Sumo Sam…
But it may be the “coolest” …
“Kewl” enough for me to want to go back … preferably with a big group of buddies who can share the bill
"Sakatatawananigaska neh" !!!
John and Yoko
Greenbelt Mall 5
Friday, November 09, 2007
And then … I slept even more.
Note the lack of blog posts
But – I am back
Ready to write again
Let’s see …
On my last trip to the United States, I was innocently browsing through the intellectual material in the condom section of the friendly Walgreens Drug Store down the street from my hotel.
Wala lang – just browsing
I was reading labels
Educating myself with the differences between “ribbed” and “ultra-thin”
Enlightening myself with the concept of “pleasure dots”
Researching the antibacterial properties of “non-oxynol”
Contemplating the joys of “vibration rings”
Toying with the art of “neon colors”
And asking for a taste test of “fruity flavors” … (a request that the attendant promptly refused to agree to)
Then something struck me
There were sizes !
S, M, L, XL (I guessed that was small, medium, large and “Xcessively long” ?)
In Asia – condoms are pretty much one size fits all.
No need to return to the drug store to change sizes coz’ it didn’t fit
One size – simple
So this concept of choosing sizes was new to me – a cultural shock
I stood there stumped
Looking down at my crotch and painting a visual picture
The labels carried no clue as to what dimensions constituted S, M , L and XL
I had hit an intellectual blank wall
If I chose the wrong size – I was concerned about “slippage”
On the other hand I was equally afraid of “gangrene”
So I took a leap of faith
I recalled all the sweet whisperings in my ear by the sweet little things with whom I had had a sexual encounter in my lifetime ( yup … all two of them)
Then I assessed the norms of dimension that I had presumed after going cross-eyed while inadvertently glancing at my neighbors in men’s room urinals
I multiplied that against the square root of the median of male to female population ratios
Inputted the racial genetic index of Asia
And subtracted the possibility of error as defined in Einstein’s theory of relativity
And finally –I made a choice
Americans make life so complicated
Choices, choices, choices …
I was homesick for my simple Asian life
But then … all is well that ends well
Despite the necessary mental calisthenics – I had chosen the right size
The fit was perfect
I had confronted my doubts
I had faced my fears
I had reviewed the "hard" facts
Travel is full of education and experience
On this trip- I had learned a valuable lesson
Size matters .....
Thursday, November 01, 2007
All Saints Day
It's been a year and four months since my Dad passed away
I still feel him around me
I laugh with him
I talk to him
His earthly remains are in a place of his own choice
Resting peacefully under the powerful arms of a centuries old tree
Covered with a wonderful carpet of grass
Showered by sunlight
Occasionally bathed by the gentle drops of rain
I visited as the sun was setting
Day slowly losing its radiance to the calmness of night
The heat dissipating into the coolness of the evening
An orderly line of candles started flickering in the darkness
Conferring a sense of solemnity to the moment
I stopped to pray
I knew in my heart that Dad was listening
I could see his smile
I could feel his pulse
I could hear his voice
My Dad passed away
But he will always be around ...
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Trick or treat ....
The winner of the best costume in our annual candy-giving activity was a long time friend who came with a set of those cheapo lighted horns and nothing else ...
He said he was the devil
He looked it
So he won
Happy Halloween ...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"Uh ohhhhh" ... says my son .
He looks at me in a panicked way knowing like I do that tonight is not gonna' be adobo night
It is Spanish food night
We jump into the car while debating where to go.
Manila is chock full of Spanish influenced eating spots.
My subconscious takes over, and the car starts heading for the motel-rich Pasig area -as if it had a memory to relive.
"Hoyyyyyyy lalake - bakit ka papuntang Pasig?? " - my suspicious wifey asks
My son sinks into the depths of the backseat whispering ... "ngekkk, sabit si dad".
But I, unfazed by the blue ribbon committee interrogation , answer back -" uhmmmmmmmmm , kasi one of the best tapas bars in Metro Manila is located in Pasig"
Barcino is a small warehouse cum tapas bar located on the Valle Verde hill that is home to the City Golf complex.
Up the steep driveway
Into ample parking space
Then into one of the coziest (perhaps then- authentic) tapas bars in the metro
It is small - all of maybe 12-15 tables
Its like walking into a small warehouse or storage room
Crates, barrels,boxes, bottles, and baskets double as decor
Small table nooks are mixed into wherever they fit
We gravitated towards a tabletop on two barrels and sat on bar stools
Ambiance galore ....
Wifey is amazed
Eyes examining every corner
Her head nods in approval
A smile across her lips
She likes it
Her "Pasig" suspicions are forgotten
A smile across my lips ....
Barcino owners Dani Aliaga and Sergi Rostoll were schoolmates in Barcelona who saw in Barcino a chance to put into practice what they had learned.
They wanted small, casual, authentic
And they did it ...
The business concept is simple
A little over twenty types of tapas, plus paella, fabada,and ensalada.
Affordable, good quality Spanish wines
Tiny homelike 2 burner kitchen behind a curtain
Quick personal service
Strains of Hispanic music in the background
The people mix is encompassing
Makati's "oye como va" crowd sipping wine with their little pinkie fingers in the air fits right in with the more comfortable flip flop, jeans and t-shirt fashionistas of surrounding universities offices, and subdivisions.
There is a common thread that binds.
Good food and wine will do that ...
So if (ehemmmmmmmm) you just happen to be in the Pasig area
And you wanna have a gastronomic orgasm as well,
And you are looking for an unpretentious place for good tapas and wine
This has to be it
Seeya - I will be the guy eating paella , drinking wine and throwing furtive glances at the senoritas.
Join me - I will gladly share my chorizo with you .....
Student: Miss maestras son bonitas (my teachers are beautiful).
Teacher: Oh, that's very flattering but where's 'fuera'?
Student: Fuera ka!
Spanish Wines and Tapas
2/F City Golf Complex, Ortigas Town Center
Julia Vargas Ave., Pasig
** reservations recommended
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Bombings, sirens, police, firemen, injuries ...
I really needed to end the day with a drink
I was looking for a comfort zone
Somewhere to rekindle memories of a better time...
Jill's is a resto/bar that really packs them in every Friday as legions of music faithfuls troop to listen, dance and sing along with the music of the 80's and 90's.
Vinyl and CD wizard DJ Boyet Almazan spins a web of music that transports everyone to a time filled with fond memories.
Fingers snapping and hands clapping
Heads bobbing and lips syncing with somehow recognizable words
Every familiar strain elicits shrieks of recognition
High fives and friendly finger pointing
Hips swaying, feet tapping, eyes rolling ...
People are just plain happy
I sat comfortably in my outdoor seat
Indulging in a deluge of "pica-pica"
Salpicao, gambas, calamares ...
A Black Russian with lots of ice to my lips
And my eyes agog at the sea of silicone orbs that bounce to every beat of music
There was enough botox on the premises to kill a tarantula
A bevy of curvaceous buffed bodies walked in and mixed with a group of liposuction weary friends
Paunchy "Determined Older Males" bantered in small talk with street smart college fresh sophisticates
Food, spirits and dance
A place for all adult age groups
Bridging the gap between baby boomers and GenX
The occasional Millenium hip-hoppers gawk at the overwhelming power of nostalgia, as even they, start to appreciate the structured rhythm of the 80's and 90's
Gosh - was I ever soooo glad that it was a Friday
The start of a much needed weekend
And what better way than to hook up with my old buddies DJ Boyet Almazan, his promoter/manager Teddy Dario and Jill's co-owner Rey E. (uhmmmm - the emphasis is on "buddies" - not on"old" )
Retro DecaDANCE night every Friday
At Jill's resto/bar
If you haven't discovered this portal to the hit sounds of the past yet
You are way behind the times
Come on downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
(gosh-that is so 80's)
G/F at the Fort
Bonifacio Drive, Global City
tel: (63-2) 818-4557
7 a.m. - breakfast (Saturday)
Gud morning ma'am-sir,
Hindi ho ba pwedeng mag-boksing na lang kayong dalawa sa Las Vegas at huwag nyo nang idamay pa ang taong bayan?
Suggestion lang naman po ...
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Merry Christmas na maluwalhati
Ang pag-ibig pag siyang naghari
Araw-araw ay magiging Paskong lagi
Ang sanhi po ng pagparito
Hihingi po ng aginaldo
Kung sakali't kami'y perhuwisyo
Pasensya na kayo pagka't kami'y namamasko"
"Tenk you, tenk you
Tenk you, meri krismas ,tenkyou
Tenk you ..."
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sadly - the resto/bar was gobbled up by the rapid development in the area and eventually faded into the territory of fond memories after a 12 year run.
Raymund Magdaluyo of the Red Crab group has partnered with his grandfathers best friend Murray Hertz of the original Greenbelt resto to open "Murray's New Orleans" at the Global City's Bonifacio High Street.
It was its first weekend
An open air but climate -controlled bar area welcomed us
Inside was a Bourbon Street setting
Cajun/Creole is a tricky cuisine
Just like its namesake city in the United States