Monday, April 30, 2007


Still on the same flight ...
The flight attendant continues with her safety orientation and proceeds to announce:
... "in case of a water landing you may also use your seat bottom cushion as a flotation device ..."

Uh huhhhhhhhhhh ...
Oh my gosh - just what I need.

Picture this ...
We have made a water "landing" and I am miraculously still in one piece.

I am now floating in the middle of a shark-infested bottomless deep ocean, with megawaves crashing over my head ...

My chance of survival and rescue is dependent on my ability to tightly hug and hold on to a WET airline seat cushion that a MILLION PEOPLE BEFORE ME HAVE FARTED INTO .... (c'mon -don't pretend - you know you've done it before)

Wala bang lifeboat na lang?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Breathe Normally Daw

I am in the United States for work related matters.
12 hour flight from Manila to the West Coast - tiring
Surprisingly on time for an airline that has a reputation of “always late”.

One of the parts of any flight that amuses me and challenges my imagination a lot is when the flight attendant stands up in front of the cabin audience to announce the safety features and procedures to a ho-hum “ no one is listening” audience …

This trip I focused on :
“… in case of a sudden decompression or emergency - oxygen masks will automatically drop in front of you. Pull the mask to your face – cover your nose and mouth tightly and then … BREATHE NORMALLY “

Breathe normally?
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat ?

Picture this:
… the right wing of the airplane is on fire, smoke fills the cabin, the cabin door pops open, the plane is in a dizzying spin and it is about to hit the side of a mountain like a f_ _ kin’ dart. The oxygen masks drop. And I am supposed to “breathe normally”?

“No, no, no, no” – I felt like whispering to the flight attendant – “you be the one to try and breathe normally.

Me? I am gonna be screaming my head off, peeing in my pants, saying every prayer I know and I will definitely be BREATHING VERY ABNORMALLY. Thank you na lang … “

I arrived safely with the beautiful view of the Golden Gate bridge greeting me.
It was a safe and comfortable flight.
No oxygen masks dropped.

Now ... I can breathe normally.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


My wife was out of the country.
So last night, I went out with another woman.

We talked about a common past ... remembered and laughed.
We used to spend so much time together, and it was good to have this time to ourselves. We share a passion for eating - so in just a little while we were looking for a place to eat.

"Lutong bahay" is what we were both longing for ... fresh stuff - as if from the market and straight to the kitchen. So what better place to go than the Seaside in Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. parallel to the multilighted Roxas Blvd.

As soon as we arrived, I could see a sparkle in her eyes and excitement in her walk. Seaside is a "dampa" style market with rows of wet market fresh seafood sold by enthusiastic market vendors. This central market area is then surrounded on both sides with restaurants.

Typically one would take his place in the resto of his choice, order food, a "shopper" would then cross the alley to buy the fresh seafood , bring the fresh raw catch to the resto where they would then cook it according to your preference. Or if you are more adventurous then you could do the marketing yourself and then ask the resto to cook it.

The produce and seafood is market cheap and the restos charge a reasonable "cooking fee". It was like playing house. What a wonderful way to spend the evening with this woman ... I was happy just seeing her happy.

Fittingly we chose a resto called CUZINA
- zo zaraaap -zobra - zpezially the zugpo

Ohhhhh - the other woman?
She was my mother ..........

Cuzina Seafood Haus
Macapagal Blvd.

(63-2) 851-0372 (63-2) 618-5082

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me ;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalms 23:4

When well meaning friends encourage you to "find God" ... does that mean that God is hiding?

There were times in my Christian journey that I thought that maybe He was.

Shouting in my desperation
in my fear
in my sorrow
in my difficulty
in my confusion
... God, where are You ?

But I have been blessed with friends, family and Christian "brothers and sisters in the faith" who have been my angels in crisis. They have been the solid support that I have leaned on and the shoulders I have cried on. They have shepherded me to pastoral care and spiritual strengthening ... a journey to "find God".

And the journey has led me to indeed "find" Him.
And you know what, He was with me all along.
He never left.
He was there all throughout.
I didn't have to "find" Him - I just had to "see" Him, feel Him, hear Him, know Him, accept Him ...

He wasn't hiding. I just wasn't looking ...

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wine of Kings

Friday night ...
Thank God that it is.

It's been a stress filled week.
It had to end sometime.
I have at least a weekend's worth of peace and quiet
to look forward to.

So, first things first.
At the top of the list - a glass of wine.
Where oh where oh where ...

Didn't want to think anymore and be stressed by choices.
So I drove towards one of my "you can't go wrong places" - Serendra Piazza at the Fort. There lies a comfort corner for me - BAROLO.

Wiki says that the term "barolo" refers to an Italian wine produced from the Nebbiolo grape variety grown in the province of Cuneo. It lays claim to being the "wine of kings and king of wines". As such, it is a favorite wine bar name to be found in major cities of the world.

Barolo at Serendra is a small two level wine bar that is designed with a modern interpretation of the old bar cellar feel. Downstairs it seats only about 10 people with its high table setting, On the second level is a private area that seats another 10-15 (maybe 20 max) people. It's a cozy place - wine bottles in their cubby holes surround you, a deli type display of sausages, cold cuts etc. invites you, and soft Italian tunes lull you into a wonderful wine adventure. A seal of the "Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Degustateurs" mounted on the wall is testimony to the quality of the wine experience that one can look forward to.

If you are lucky , the amiable owner Luciano Zanirato will engage you with stories of the "old country" in his lovable Italian accent. He will assist you with your choices of wine and cold cuts and may even join you in a drink.

I love this place ...
Just a few glasses of wine and I am already starting to wear that silly smile that announces " my weekend has began - no more cares in the world - the boss from hell can go back where he belongs - hostilities resume on Monday - alcohol break - do not disturb".

Serendra Piaza, Fort Bonifacio
Taguig Metro Manila
(63-2) 856-0679 856-0866

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

If Only

Alone again ...
Late in the evening - about 11:30pm
Needed a glass of wine
And ohhhh - I hadn't had dinner yet

Or had I?
( gosh ... what a bad office day)

Hmmmm - where to go?

Makati Avenue has become a curious mix of small stores, bars, restos, budget hotels, red light activity, and late night vendors. Tucked in neatly in the middle of this neon and panaflex jungle is an oasis of serenity and taste - CRU -Restaurant/Bar/Cafe

CRU - this is a term used to describe wine superlatively, as in "Grand Cru". The significance of the term has led it to be commonly used as a name for high end wine restos in major cities of the world.

CRU in Makati is a small 26-30 seats), cozy very tastefully done resto that is a wonderful quiet spot in the frenzied, fast paced neighborhood of Makati's commercial avenue. One can easily miss it if one doesn't know it is there. Word of mouth has been its tool to pull in a mix of expats, Makati Ave. "locals" and Greenbelt/Serendra habitues like me.

The chef is a young man who honed his culinary skills in Australia . The staff is attentive. The menu is interestingly European. The music is lounge chill. Nice place ...

I tried their Chefs Selection of 4 Types of Antipasto @120pesos, then followed with Grilled Italian Sausages served with Mashed Potatoes and Lemon Caper Oil @225pesos. Topped with a few glasses of Libertas Chardonnay from Chile - this for me was a wonderfully pleasant dinner.

Good food, good wine, good music ... now, if only I had a baaaaaaaaaaaad woman.

Cru is open till 3am except Monday and Sunday - perfect for insomniacs like me.This find is a treasure.
You should try it.

Cru Restaurant/Bar/Cafe
#2 Constellation St. cor Makati Ave.
Makati, Metro Manila
(63-2) 897-3569

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Heart and Mind

Okay ...
So I am older than I want to admit.
And my blood pressure is constantly elevated.
And my cholesterol levels are slightly high.
And I forget to take my medicines ... sometimes

Okay ...
So I am not supposed to eat a lot of things
And I don't exercise at all
And I suck at stress management
And I am overweight ... a little

So, I was just minding my own business walking down the street, on the way home one evening. Food was the farthest thing from my mind. But then again, in Manila, walking down the street is like walking through a gauntlet of food carts.

Then - suddenly, out of nowhere - there it was in front of me !

Crispy chicken skin - ohhhhhhhhhh no ... my most favorite thing in the world.

Also known as chicharong manok, chink or chicken crackling - this most "paborits" of snacks is chicken skin (and fat) that is sun dried, seasoned and deep fried to crispiness.
Eaten with spicy vinegar - crispy chicken skin is totally crispylicious.

Logic, previous medical consults, and Google say that chicken skin equals fat equals cholesterol.

So, I was stumped.
Should I risk it?
Who should I listen to - - - my doctors, or this industrious, kind, entrepreneurial young man who is just trying to make a living to support his young wife and their three children the youngest of whom is sick with the flu and who is badly in need of medicine; and who would benefit tremendously from the thirty pesos he could make if I bought three servings of his wonderfully golden brown crisped chicken skin to be dipped in spicy, onion-chili vinegar.

I will leave it up to you to guess who won the battle for my heart and mind

I can only tell you that I went to sleep that evening with a big smile on my face, contented that I had done the right thing.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I had a meeting last night with an old friend (with emphasis on old).
I asked where we should meet and he suggested the lobby of the Manila Peninsula.

Huh? .. Hasn't that place been dead for ages?

Pen Lobby was, several decades ago , the place to be seen in.
Grand, high ceilings, orchestra playing at the mezzanine , impeccable service ... and the cream of the social crop sauntering around in the latest haute couture. These were was truly Imeldific times...

Then it faded.
Somehow Pen got old ... the music never changed - the hotel never upgraded - the spending young could not relate. It just wasn't fun anymore. Fickle Manila had migrated ... to other hotels, to new bars, new restos etc. I bade Pen Lobby goodbye and never saw it again - until last night.

Guys ... it's been upgraded.
Uhmmmm - different, better
But still a bit too slow, conservative
And noticeably ... not too many beautifool peeps around

I think though that if the peeps rediscover this lobby - it could conceivably be the bestest, coolest, happeningest ... again.

Give it a try.
Start the chain.
Old faves are still there - Pen Burger, Chicharon Bulaklak, Chicken Arrozcaldo, Schueblig. Pancit Luglog, Tokwa't Baboy etc.

Drown in a vodka on the rocks or swoon over red wine

Then top it all off with the famed Pen Lobby ice cream concoctions.

The Peninsula Manila
cor. Ayala and Makati Avenues
Makati, Metro Manila 1226
Tel. (63-2) 887-2888

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pay Later

A little boy asked his father,
"Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?"
and the father replied,
"I don't know, son, I am still paying for it."

Walking leisurely in the area of two churches I was visiting over the Lenten Week, I noticed a sign that got me really thinking...

Yes folks ... the sign says "Marry now Pay later"

I smiled and talked to myself like a fool ... "yup , I am still paying for it ... bigtime"

I looked around me and I noticed a small crowd forming ... looking at the sign, smiling and as if talking to themselves too. We all smiled at each other (like we do when we offer each other the sign of peace in church). We all instantly formed a universal bond ... I guess based on a universal understanding of what marriage is all about.
Hmmmmmmm ...

oh Ipe ... bakit ka parang malungkot,
10th wedding anniversary natin ngayon?
Ipe: Natatadaan mo noong nahuli tayo ng tatay mo
na naghahalikan sa may sala ninyo nung nanliligaw pa ako.
Ang sabi niya ay pakasalan daw kita o ipakukulong
niya ako ng sampung taon?
Bubup: Oh e - bakit ka malungkot e tumagal na
nga tayong kasal hanggang ngayon ?
Ipe: Wala lang ... naisip ko lang,
palabas na sana ako sa kulungan ngayon.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Twenty Five Years

I won't tell you the name of my favorite bookstore but i can tell you that it is always "fully booked".

Recently I bought a book that has just kept me glued. The title is POSTSECRET by Frank Warren. Totally unique ... often amusing, sometimes profound, occasionally providing a mirror into ones self.

In 2004 Frank Warren printed 3000 blank postcards with a return address. He handed them out or distributed them almost anywhere he could. He invited people to anonymously write down their innermost secrets and express themselves artistically so that the postcard could be used as part of a group art project.

The idea of the project is simple: completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they have never before revealed. There is no restriction on what the content of the secret must be, only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before...

The subequent tsunami of response has been enough material for the printing of several books. One can also surf through

Send me a secret. You never know , it might be the same as mine.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

It's Not About Eggs

The Lord is Risen.

Today is the culmination of the Lenten celebration.
The fulfillment of a prophecy .. a promise.
Christ rose ...
He died for our sins and then rose from the dead.
He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father .
Indeed, this was the Son of God

Believe and you are saved.

When I was a young father, Easter was a day for games. I used to watch my son gleefully run with his friends to hunt for eggs lovingly painted with ornate colors and designs by equally excited parents. It was fun but somehow spiritually empty.

Today - I can see better.
Not that I have better vision, rather I have lived more of life. Now I see that Easter is a day of joy not because of games to be played or feasts to be prepared but because it is the day of the Holy Resurrection.
It is a day of reflection
It is a day of renewal
It is a day of acceptance

It is all about Faith and Salvation.
It is not about bunnies and eggs.

John 11:25-26 (King James Version)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth in me, though he were dead,
yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
Believest thou this?

Saturday, April 07, 2007


“If you do not change your hearts and become like children,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”
(Matthew 18:3)

Wisdom from the mouth of babes (how often have we heard that and subsequently found it to be true)
Oh ... the children

If we really listened to them more often we would learn so much.
In their naive, trusting and simple way , kids often relate to God in the way that we should
As if He were right there beside us
A friend we can talk to
Someone we can ask anything of
Someone so much more knowing than us
Someone in control
Someone we can count on

In truth, He is.
Always there
All powerful and knowing

So, be a kid once in a while.
Talk to Him.
Trust ...

He is listening.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Today the Christian world remembers the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ who was crucified and died on the cross to save our sins.

In the predominantly Catholic Philippines, this day is commemorated with street processions, the Way of the Cross, and a Passion Play called the Sinakulo. In other areas (most famously in Pampanga), the processions include self-flagellating devotees some of whom even have themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance. After three o'clock in the afternoon of Good Friday (the time at which Jesus is traditionally believed to have died), noise is discouraged, broadcast stations sign off, businesses close, and the faithful are urged to keep a solemn if not prayerful disposition through Easter Sunday.

As part of your meditation, please take time to consider a message from Rick Warren -author of "The Purpose Driven Life"

"People ask me, what is the purpose of life?
And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness... "

" ...I used to think that life was hills and valleys -you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. "

" ... Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD. "

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Thursday

Matthew 26:26-29 (NIV)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread,
gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,
"Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying,
"Drink from it, all of you.
This is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit
of the vine from now on until
that day when I drink it anew
with you in my Father's kingdom."

Today was Holy Thursday.
On this day we reflect upon four biblical events:
the washing of the disciples feet by Jesus Christ,
the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper,
the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane,
the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.

In the Philippines it is time for Vista Iglesia.
The faithful visit 14 different churches as a pilgrimage and pray at seven Stations of the Cross, usually with one station in each church. Some do this entirely during the hours of adoration (usually between 8pm and 12 midnight, after the Mass of the Last Supper). Others will split the practice into 'batches', doing some during the day (7 or so), and the remaining stations during adoration.

Churches turn both into both spiritual sanctuaries and festive temples of faith. Devotees express themselves through various traditions and beliefs sometimes even bordering on the superstitious. But all commune with the rest of Christendom in feeling the anxiety and anticipation of Christ's crucifixion.

May this day put you in touch with your spirituality as we remember the strength and faith with which our Lord Jesus Christ faced and accepted the will of God.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sam's Bar

Malate continues to be a source of adventure and surprise.
Once considered "the place to be seen" in - it has now become rather pedestrian ... jologs baga.

San Migs, Red Horse, sisig and monobloc chairs dot the new landscape. The avant garde has scampered out and the working class masa has taken over the territory. Yet it retains its old town allure and if you (as I have) can get over the "class" thing , Malate is still a quaint, fun, entertainment district.
One of my chill zones is Sam's Bar and Decor - an interesting small (indoor seats 25) bar that morphs into a 2nd floor Oriental decor shop known as Truly Asia. It retains the Malate artiste feel and one can comfortably ogle at the decor for sale from a comfortable al fresco seat on J. Nakpil street.

Here people watching is at its best ... even as one inhales ones share of the exhaust fumes of passing vehicles. Itinerant ambulant vendors sell everything form luminous clocks, belts,toys, roses, young girls, men-girls and any what not.

Sizzling balut
That's really what I came for.
Nice tenderized balut sizzle-sauteed in herbs, onions, pepper etc.
This is saraaaaaap .... hmmmmmmmm talaga lang

And then of course it is a reputed aphrodisiac.
Isang subo pa lang - tatayo na agad ang .... balahibo mo.
Sayang lang talaga - everytime I eat an aphrodisiac eh mag-isa ako ...

I really need to find a "friend".
Baka may kilala kayo???

Sam's Bar and Decor
562 J. Nakpil St.
Malate, Manila
(63-2) 5260210

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Juana Eat ?

I was in my street food mood.
But I was in the middle of Makati's cityscape.

No problemo .

Tucked away in the frenzy of the thousands of workers making a beeline for buses, jeepneys, and Innova (Fx) transports at the ParkSquare terminal is a small street food kiosk. Targeting a mobile market that just wants some stomach fillers as they rush by - the kiosk is humorously named "Juana Eat ? " .

A colorful kiosk and a subliminal question that addresses the basic pangs of a tired and famished worker. Juana eat nga ba .... ?


Kwek kwek
Lumpiang shanghai
Lumpiang sariwa
Flavored ice cone
Nata pearl shake
Water and softdrinks

How basic can you get?

But people flock to it.
A reflection of economy rather than an unshakable preference for street food ... I think.
People are looking for the cheaps
Affordable but familiar

The run- away best seller is opkors "tokneneng" - ang nilagang itlog ng pugo na binalot sa arinang may halong itlog at pangkulay na orange tapos pinirito hanggang lumutong ang balot. Tignan mo nang tignan at unti unti kang maaakit - parang magnet. Gugustuhin mo talaga. Lalo na pag may pangsawsaw na sukang maanghang . Diyosme -sisimotin ang baryang nasa bulsa mo ... at para kang asong ulol na pabalikbalik.

Taralets - let's juana eat.

Two wives are buying itlog in the local market.
Wife 1: You know mare, whenever I see a itlog na pula
naaalala ko ang itlog ng mister ko.
Wife 2: Bakit??? Ganyan ba kapula???
Wife 1: Hindi, ganyan kaalat!!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Palm Sunday

"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
(Luke 19:38)

Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent and the last Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Jesus rode into town on a donkey as exuberant crowds hailed him as the Messiah and spread out palm branches and cloaks in his path. Its heavenly nature as an event is anchored on the observation that this was predicted to happen exactly as it did 400 years earlier (Book of Daniel 9: 25-26). This was fulfilled to the exact day and manner as prophesied, strengthening the Christian premise that nothing happens in God's universe by accident. Everything is the fulfillment of Divine will.

I begin Holy Week with a prayer for all my friends and family.
May the Lord always bless you and keep you safe in the palm of His hands.

You have been the angels in my life.

I am forever grateful for your continued support and concern.

I pray that the coming week will allow us all to meditate upon God's amazing grace and mercy .

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Folded and Piled

Tatami (畳)
(originally meaning "folded and piled")
mats of woven straw bordered by brocade or green cloth,
are a traditional flooring used in many homes in Japan.

Serendra Piazza in Fort Bonifacio is where I end up when I don't want to go through the cerebral exercise of "where to eat?" . The strip is progressively being populated . I like the fact that it is spacious, breezy, clean , is choc full of resto choices and is crawling with interesting people (a must for a people-watcher like me).

One of my fave spots? - TATAMI.

Tatami is a small, cozy, moderne version of a Japanese restaurant. Impeccably interiored by owner/architect Ana Rocha, the place is a visual as well as a culinary draw.

Japanese minimalist is cleverly tweaked with touches of ceramic ware, and touches of wire based "floral" arrangements. Diner type seating is done in glazed concrete and covered with "tatami" inspired matting.

Service is impeccable with some of the friendliest staff in town.

Ohhhhhhh .... the food?
Yup yup ... the food is great if you like a slightly Filipinized version of Japanese food.
Tip: - "spicy tuna sashimi" is to die for.
Makimoto, temaki, sashimi, sushi, donburi, Yakimono, teppanyaki, agemono ... and more.
Don't forget the Angus Ribeye Fried Rice.

And if you catch a glimpse of the owner - strike up a conversation - she will fill your night with laughter.


Serendra Piazza Ground Level

Fort Bonifacio, Taguig

Tel. 901-1870, 901-1871