Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas 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

Moment of Peace

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.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hot Stuff

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 )
Spicy octupus
Tasty gamberi
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.

Thinking tough?
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 food
Good wine
Good music ....
Now all I need is a baaaaaaaaaaaaaad girl

@ Serendra Piazza
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Sidney is a sometime visitor to my blog.
He runs a photoblog - My Sari Sari Store
Sidney's blog is a wonderful photographic commentary on different aspects of Philippine culture, Philippine life, and Filipino people.

His excellently composed photos tell a story at all times.
And more often than not -they will stimulate thought, concern or interest in the aspects of human nature that are so creatively displayed through his photographs
I highly recommend that you add his blog to your regular netsurfing habits

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 ...

Reciprocally, I have decided to look into the vegetarian diet if only to understand it better.
What is "vegetarian" all about ?

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."
It is essentially a plant-based diet ...
Ohhhhhhhh my gulay

No steak?
No hamburger?
No tocino and longganisa ?
No corned beef?
Not even bangus and tuyo?
Anak ng kamatis namaaaaaaaan

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.
It is both a statement and a lifestyle.
Whatever it is - it clearly takes a lot of will power.

Society is increasingly recognizing, respecting and accommodating such a choice.
In Metro Manila, many restos now carry "healthy menus" - some even straightforwardly labeling them as "Vegan Choices"

There is no better way to learn than to try.
So off I was to CHIMARA Neo-Vegan Cafe
This veggie nook has apparently been around for a couple of years
It is experiencing increasing patronage particularly from new vegetarians, and even, from non-vegetarians who simply enjoy the taste of their food anyway

CHIMARA is coined from the Greek word "chimera" meaning "an impossible dream"
They propose that each of us dreams to lead a healthy life but do not take the initiative to live it.
They point to a Mahatma Gandhi gem of a quote - " We must be the change we wish to see in the world"

And CHIMARA walks the walk not only by serving purely vegetarian dishes but also by using recyclable and reusable products, as well as avoiding MSG, genetically -modified products and artificial additives.
They even contribute a part of their proceeds to a charitable foundation that provides education to less fortunate children.
Wow ...

But the food - what about the food?
I tried their Meatless Taco Salad - crisp lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, mango, topped with soy beans, corn, cottage cheese and mock beef sprinkled with your choice of dressing of which they recommended mango vinaigrette.

Guess what ?
I actually liked it
I took my time slowly savoring what I knew was the healthiest meal that I had had in a very long time.
The "mock" beef was a beef look-alike which I understand is soy-based.
It was light and curiously tasty.
Not bad at all ...

For at least those few minutes at the cafe - I felt really healthy
I guess its true - the journey to good health starts in our mind
I went home with a "take-out" of popcorn "popped" in olive oil

So there
Sidney -you may be on to something
I might still end up being a surprise "veggie" convert someday

It's just that I keep remembering what my mother used to say to me - "Remember my son - you are what you eat"

And so - I don't really eat vegetables BECAUSE - I don't ever want to be a "vegetable" ...

CHIMARA Neo-Vegan Cafe
4F, Greenbelt 3
Ayala Center, Makati
(63-2) 7575652

Monday, December 10, 2007

Purely Social

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"

Not ....

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
Taguig 1634
(63-2) 856-3723

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 ...

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
And ...
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

Surreal ...
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
Philippines 1200
(63-2) 887-2888