Thursday, August 28, 2008

Self Help

The bookstore was nice and cool ...
It was a refreshing sanctuary from the searing humidity outside
In this massive multi-storey literary playground, I would decompress after a hard day at the office.

I started browsing the thousands of books that were there
Wifey started looking around too ...
I could sense her looking for something
Then, with a puzzled look on her face, she turned to me and asked - "do you know where the SELF-HELP books are?"
With a polite smile, I looked her in the eyes and said - "Yes I do ... but, if i told you it would defeat the purpose ..."

The next thing I knew there was a hardbound copy of the "Kite Runner" soaring towards my head
Poison darts were flying from her blood-shot eyes
Fire was shooting out of her nostrils
And steam was rising from the tips of her searing red hot horns ...

Damage control ...
It was time to soothe the savage "beast"
I put my arms around her in a genuinely insincere way and suggested that we drive somewhere to patch things up over a glass of wine and some pasta (one of her favorite early evening "to do" things)

Artina Gallery Cafe is a nice quiet corner of art and cuisine.
Immediately attractive even from the outside, this glass encased gallery cum restaurant is rapidly becoming a destination for those who want the twin satisfaction that can be derived from good food and soulful art

It is literally like sitting in the middle of a small private gallery
A glass of Chardonnay sharpens the senses
The eyes constantly scanning the wall
Looking for stories hidden in each piece of art
Analysing the harmony of color, the depth of brush strokes and the mystery of technique

A warm greeting and a genuine smile from the servers puts us at ease
The comfort of tastefully chosen music calmed our nerves

The menu invitingly starts with:
"Our food is based on classic French cooking techniques, a foundation that allows us to create new flavors while maintaining the integrity of the old. We use the freshest and most flavorful ingredients to offer you an innovative yet traditional dining experience."

I ordered a "linguine with seafood in Spanish saffron and cream sauce" for the aggrieved dragon lady ...
With just the first bite
A smile finally broke through
She nodded her head in satisfied acclamation

More wine ...
She started to loosen up
She started to talk
Our truce had begun
The ice was thawing
My strategy was working ...

As we intimately shared a soft and juicy rum cake for dessert,
I looked into her eyes and said,
- "why don't we go home and get 'cozy' ? "
"OK" - she demures
Pushing my conjugal luck, I whispered - "I will make it up to you ..."
"Greaaaaat" she signals with a wink
And with full intention to humble myself and cook her a romantic "breakfast after" as part of the peace offering,
I expectantly ask - "And how would you like your eggs in the morning?"

"Unfertilized ! ! ! " --- she shouts as she walks away with a proud and vengeful swagger

Women ........
I will never understand
Who would have known that "till death do us part" would take sooooooo long

Artina Gallery Cafe
Unit 106-107, Ground Floor
A. Venue Mall
(63-2) 7298983

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I spent the evening with some balikbayan friends from the United States
Standard Pinoy "pica-pica"
A couple of drinks
A lot to catch up on
And a "show" that left them amazed

Superlatives from everyone at the table...
"Really fun"
"Unexpected, unbelievable, unforgettable ..."

Club Mwah is a destination nitespot to which I had been several times before with family and friends, and it was great to join my balikbayaners there
It is a cozy but somehow dazzling dance club cum stage theatre, that is home to a talented group of transgenders and crossgenders who have put up a production suggestive of Las Vegas glitz and Broadway lights
Colorful quick-change costume sequences
Mind boggling sets
An array of lights
Dizzying choreography
And impeccable musical transitions...

The revue group is composed of 10 totally "reconstructed" transgenders (yes - even down under)
And another group of partially reconstructed crossgenders
Dressed to the nines and made up for the stage - these ex-men are "prettier, sexier and more graceful" than many of the real women in the audience ...
Even the women themselves say so ...
There is of course the one exception - the jester of the court - whose appeal is precisely that he is so abhorrently ugly to a point that it becomes funny
All part of a well thought of and wonderfully executed program sequence

The "Bedazzled 6" revue which we caught is one music and dance number after another
Synched to the music of Broadway - the show is a dance interpretation of such faves as Miss Saigon, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera and the likes
Costumes are lavish and dazzling
Sets include a massive golden Thai oriental temple during a Madonna "Vogue" inspired mind-boggler, and a helicopter "landing" on stage during a hilarious Miss Saigon segment

This is not one of those "comedy at your expense" shows
No "put downs" and "make fun of you" spiels
This is a class act
This is an art form
An art form that I feel should be supported and preserved ...

Don't miss out on this Metro Manila secret
A Department of Tourism accredited entertainment club
Dinner, drinks and a taste of international caliber entertainment

A new show starts next week
Be dazzled by "Bedazzled 8 "
As can only be presented by the "Follies de Mwah"

If you have an adventurous streak
And are looking for something different
Want something unforgettable ...
Club Mwah will certainly keep you "gay" ...
Errrrr - I mean - keep you happy

Go na ...
See you there
I will be the guy with a glass of vodka
In a black muscle shirt
And a blonde wig
Baboooosh ...

Club Mwah

3rd Floor,The Venue Tower
652 Boni Ave.
Mandaluyong City
(63-2) 5357943

Friday, August 22, 2008


Friends always catch wifey and me "holding hands" while walking in the mall
They think that it is sooooooo sweet
After all these years, we're still holding hands
They can think what they want
For me ...
It's just that if I let go of her hand--- she will run off and buy something

She has an incomprehensible sense of finance
She is always "saving" money
Just last night, she proudly showed me a new bag
It was originally priced at 10,000 pesos
She got it on sale for just 6,000 pesos
She had "saved" me 4000 pesos

The week before that she had "saved" 3000
And another 5000 the month before
A total of 20,000 pesos "savings" in the last two months ...
At the rate she is "saving" money I should be a millionaire soon
Instead I somehow appear to be close to bankruptcy ...

Haaay naku- I needed a glass of wine
"The new Caffe' Maestro has just opened" she demures ...
I said - "greaaaaaat, let's go"

Caffe' Maestro
was a well patronized Italian cafe restaurant
But, it had over the years outlived its initial appeal and attraction
The Manila market is fickle, and new places are always cropping up
Caffe' Maestro needed to be re-invented and re-launched
So they closed - for renovation
For more than just several months they remained closed
I thought maybe they had sold the business - I mean the economy being what it is
They just disappeared from the culinary radar

And just when I thought they were permanently gone
There they were --- newly opened

We drove up to the brick walled resto
And walked in towards the all too familiar cozy corner where our favorite table used to be
I turned to find the receptionist
Suddenly - wifey broke loose from my grip
She turned the other way straight into shelves and shelves of imported Italian shoes, dresses, blouses, belts, bags etc.

Whaaaaaaaat the?
Yup - Caffe' Maestro is now a caffe' inside a boutique store selling Italian fashion merchandise at discounted prices
Great concept - right?
Well - not if you don't know what you are walking into
I went there to eat
As it turned out - I was to end up "saving" money againnnnnnn

Whoever thought of this fashion cafe concept must have been female
She shops, he eats ...

I waited ...
The warm brick and wood ambiance was somehow soothing
Musical strains of Andrea Bocelli in the background
I fidgeted in my seat
A tasty onion soup,
And a flavorful, al dente "pasta ala vongole" helped to appease me
Wine calmed my nerves ...

After an eternity ...
Wifey finally floated down towards the table to join me
She had this smile on her lips,
A glow on her face
And a loving look in her eyes.
She tenderly stroked my arm
Mussed up my hair
And blew me a kiss ...
In that magical moment I knew ...
It was time ...
It was time to whip out my credit card .
Once again -the lady of the house had "saved" some money for me


Caffe' Maestro
(Fashion Caffe' + Percamo Italian Fashion)
1780 Nicanor Garcia St. (formerly Reposo St.)
Makati, Philippines
(632) 8990780
(632) 8997322

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Remember the game "charades" ?

Let's play charades
Focus on the picture above
It's a dead giveaway ...

Proper noun
Two syllables
One of my favorite quick getaway destinations
A city of contrasts
Steeped in history and culture
Locked in concrete and steel
A shoppers paradise
A land of charming people

Hawker lined streets
Bustling markets
Grand and swanky malls

Soaring skyscrapers looking down on humble huts
Sail quietly down the river
Zip noisily through the urban jungle
Hidden nooks of meditation and relaxation
A nightlife of endless adventure

And the food ...
Ohhhhh - the food
From some of the best and grandest restaurants
To the seediest cubby holes
Endless stalls of street food
To the most cosmopolitan table settings
The full range of predictable world cuisine
To the most exotic of plates ...

Gosssh - I really need a vacation
A short hop
Even for just a weekend ...

Yes - two syllables
First syllable ...
Sounds like hang
Second syllable
Sounds like "a timepiece on the wall"

Look at the picture...
Got it?
That's greaaaaaaaaat
See you there ....
In Bangkok

Monday, August 18, 2008


I finally made it to Aubergine Restaurant
Friends had been talking about this wonderful fine dining venue at the bustling Fort Bonifacio complex
Superlatives and good things
Highly recommended
But ...
Kinda' expensive

Hey - who said fine dining was cheap?
I was going to have to save up for this ...

Then ...
My dear sister gave me gift certificates for Aubergine
As if she were reading my mind
As if she knew I was "broke"...

And so , on a cool, moonlit Sunday evening
I put on my 5-star look
And jauntily proceeded with my FREE 5-star dinner

For a reputed fine dining leader, Aubergine is surprisingly, badly located above a McDonalds outlet
But that was easily forgiven if not forgotten once I stepped into the restaurant premises
Cosmopolitan and elegant
Yet somehow warm and soft

A glass encased kitchen is a showcase of culinary action ...
The servers greet you with a smile, and patiently wait for you to confuse yourself with the mouthwatering menu

We sipped on glasses of Nottage Hill Sparkling Chardonnay as we weighed our choices
Small talk
Big thoughts
Knowing glances
Then, a smile of anticipation ...

1. Parmesan Spuma (courtesy of the house)
2. Carpaccio of Australia Beef Tenderloin ( with pamesan fondue, truffle oil, assorted herbs, and a salad bouquet)
3. Roasted US Wagyu Beef Tri Tip (with pan fried foie gras, pot wine sauce, glazed vegetable, and pommery mustard mash potato)
4. Roasted French Duck Breast (with orange curacao set on truffled mousseline potato, served with port wine braised vegetable stew and mango tartlet)
5. Melted French Brie de Meaux ( served on grilled watermelon topped with watercress salad tossed in raspberry dressing walnut oil and Chinese truffles)
6. Belgian Chocolate Mousse Dome

The presentation alone was an experience worth a picture
The taste was somehow "correct"
We took it slow and easy
Savoring every moment
To the last drop of sauce
It was a wipe-out ...

I could see the wifey just having a gastronomic orgasm as she slowly nodded her head and savored every juicy bite
Quivering in delight
She had that look in her eyes that I had for the longest time not seen in the bedroom ...
This was the "real" thing ...

Expectedly - I finished my meal before she did
I looked her in the eyes and asked ... "was it good for you?"
She gave me that look , followed by the predictable question -
''... are you finished - alreaaaady ? "

I half expected her to whip out a cigarette and blow a puff of smoke into the air, as a ritual of satisfaction (?)
As I, on the other hand, would characteristically start to doze off ...

This was a truly greaaaaat dinner
Great place
Great food
Great wine
Great service
And .......
It was free


Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie
32nd and 5th Building
Fort Bonifacio
Taguig, Philippines
(63-2) 8569888

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Al Fresco

It was a cool Saturday evening
And Makati Avenue was buzzin'
I met up with some dear friends and had a couple of drinks
In what promises to be the next Makati "hotspot"

A. Venue Mall and Events Hall has been evolving over the past few months
Interesting restaurants and bars have been opening
And the humongous events hall is being increasingly recognized as a preferred concert and event venue

And now ...
On weekends,
The wide sidewalks facing Makati Avenue have been converted into a quaint village-type row of al fresco outlets that will surely be the next "in" destination for nightowls on the prowl for a fun place to be

Facing Makati Avenue on the ground level are Gasthof Restaurant and Grill, Seattle's Best Coffee, Padrino (of the famed " L'Opera and Balducci group), Botong's (a newbie bar resto) and Contempo Restaurant ...
Sidewalk seating allows an al fresco drink and dine experience that promises to be a "barkada's" delight ...

Watch the cars zip by
Watch the girls walk by
Listen to the music
Enjoy the food
Have a drink ... or two, maybe three
Maybe more

If you've got nothing to do this weekend
Drop by the "A"

I will be the guy on the sidewalk
Under the table umbrella
Sipping on a thirst-quenching mojito
Talking to a mucha bonita or two ... maybe three
Just livin' life ...

"Let's c'mon"
Join me ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fish Lip

Flash floods !!!
It was raining house and lot ...

The rumble of thunder
Streaks of lightning
And a sudden downpour ...

Perfect ingredients for Metro Manila floods
And the predictable traffic mess that follows
I was stuckkkkkkkkkk ....

Road rage
Hunger pangs
Fear of submersion
Possible engine stall
And an overloaded bladder ready to burst

I felt like I was in the China Olympic Games
Facing an obstacle course of water and vehicles
Avoiding potholes
Maneuvering my way through the thick Friday payday gridlock
All of us jockeying for position and dominance in a river where once was an asphalt road

Then out of the corner of my eye - I caught sight of an oasis of restaurants
A perfect pit stop
I really needed a break ...

Legend Hongkong Seafood Restaurant has been around for several years
It has always been on the "recommended" list of many of my friends - as far as Chinese restaurants are concerned
Here - finally was my chance to try it out

Relieved that I had found a place to weather out the rain,
I entered a typically large (and noisy) Chinese restaurant ...
There were families eating and slurping their way through some very inviting dishes

"Iced tea please"
Then -hmmmmm
Let me see ...
Fish Lip Soup
Steamed Fish Fillet in Ginger and Onion
Salt and Pepper Spare Ribs
Yang Chow Fried Rice
I always have difficulty spinning out an opinion about Chinese food because I really don't know what the "right" taste should be
I only know that I like it or that I don't
And this ...
I liked
I really liked

The rains abated
The floods slowly subsided
The food in front of me "disappeared"
And I headed home with a new favorite ....
As a matter of fact, I might be back next week
Flood or no flood
Join me ...

Legend Hongkong Seafood Restaurant
Boom na Boom Compound
Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex
Tel:(63-2) 8331188 (63-2) 8333388

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It Isn't Permanent

It's been almost 3 months - hasn't it?
Close to a quarter

Off the air
Brain dead
Signed off

My cerebral synapses have just not been working
Stunned into inaction
Lulled to sleep

Everything seemed to be alright one day ...
Then I woke up with the price of gas suddenly beyond my reach
Rice was more precious than gold
Canned goods exorbitantly priced
Food costs going up
Electricity costs casting a heavy burden
Transport rates unbelievable

People seemed listless
Shell shocked
Walking like zombies in the middle of department stores
Just staring, not buying ...
I couldn't blame them
Who could afford anything ?

Suddenly - it was survival mode
Penny pinching
Looking for new ways to make ends meet
Finding new opportunities

What has the world come to?
Where has the country gone?

I would stare into my laptop
Try to post something
But nothing would come out
Life itself - though short - was somehow, not in and of itself, inspiring enough to write about

Clearly, I had burned out ...
The pressure of being underpaid and overworked in an environment of rising costs was taking its toll
That TV, radio and printed media were full of murder, rape, corruption, litigation and wars was of no help at all

I needed to be in a bubble
I wanted to keep my interactivity with the world at a minimum
Work, work, work ...
That's all I focused on
Survival mode - remember?

Blogging was a luxury of time (and inspiration)
I just wanted to give it up altogether
Why blog?
Every other joe is doing it
Nothing new
Nothing great

Then last week, I stumbled into the July 23, 2008 post of Anton Diaz at his runaway blog hit Our Awesome Planet.
"Why Blog?" is a post that is an answer to his own question
In his post, Anton lists several of his "why blog" reasons
(I wish you would all read Anton's post. The content is even more inspiring than the list)
1. Our Blog is a love letter to our sons.
2. I'm writing the modern history of the Philippines.
3. To sow good deeds.
4. Ninoy Aquino is a blogger.
5. Inspire 1 Mind, Touch 1 Heart.
6. To have fun.
7. OAP is my personal art space.
8. Build personal brand.
9. I write to globalize the local.
10. To live forever.

The piece is enlightening ...
We blog , not just for ourselves - but for others
For the future
For our children
For immortality

Makes sense
I feel my neurons firing up
The brain cells are stirring
The current is on
I'm baaaaaaaaack ...

I think
We'll see ...