Dining out with Brother Andrew

It was the mid-1970s and I was about eight years old…

Because Brother Andrew [ Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C. of De La Salle University;  my uncle, youngest brother of my father ] was amused with my suitably “Gonzalez” appetite, he would take me along whenever he and [ his older brother ] Tito Hector would dine out, usually on Saturday evenings, and sometimes midweek on Wednesday evenings as well.

“The Champagne room” at the Manila hotel.  At that time the Manila hotel — upon the initiative of the First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos — had just emerged from a dazzling redo by the American designer Dale Keller.  “The Champagne room” was “la Cote Ferdinand et Imelda.”  The diners at “the Champagne room” were the Marcos era “le tout,” “creme de la creme,” “gratin,” high society whathaveyou.  The food was as good as it was expensive.  And the string music by Joe Nicolas and his ensemble was so pleasant to the senses.  Dining there was always an entirely beautiful experience.

It was always my idea of a nice living room.  It had such nice Beaux- Arts proportions [ I would have hung three immense Baccarat crystal chandeliers ] and such beautiful grillwork.  And it opened to a nice garden facing the sea.  How close to “Palm Beach” could you get???

I thought it was the height of elegance…

“L’Hirondelle” at the Manila Mandarin.  It was an elegant but rather quiet restaurant.

We ordered classical French dishes but Brother Andrew really preferred more unusual fare…

My young and unrefined tastebuds did not find the French dishes memorable.

I was most amused with the beautifully packaged box of chocolates [ "mignardises" ] that was presented to me by the maitre d’ at the end of the meal.  I wouldn’t eat the chocolates for days because the whole package was always so pretty.

“The Prince Albert” rotisserie at the Hotel Intercontinental.  It looked so… “1970s [ or even 1960s ] Victorian.”  But I sensed the tone of the place.  The diners were mostly businessmen; the ladies were elegant.  And Brother Andrew was usually greeted by several important-looking people before we reached the usual reserved corner table.  The food was very good and the prices reasonable.

Brother Andrew always liked that silverplated cart where the prime rib was kept.  He promised himself that he would look for one at the “Silver Vaults” in London for his own use back home.  But he never got around to it.  He was amazed when he saw one such cart — made by a local silversmith — at Dona Rosario “Charing” Escudero’s own house at the Villa Escudero.  He thought it was straight out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

“Tivoli” at the Manila Mandarin.

The Mandarin always had such “tone”…

“Cowrie Grill” at the Manila hotel.  I always found the cascading seashells interesting.  Brother Andrew was very amused that ten year old li’l me could finish a whole U.S. T-Bone steak with all the side dishes, soup, salad, and dessert to boot!!!

In the 1980s…

“Allegro” at The Regent hotel.  It was the chicest restaurant when it was new:  it was all the rage.  Everyone was fascinated with the pastel colors of its revolutionary interiors by designer Sonia Santiago-Olivares.

Our most lasting memory of “Allegro” was its sorbet that tasted like some cream from “Shiseido”…

“The Prince Albert” rotisserie at the Hotel Intercontinental.  As young adults with enormous appetites, we already had a visceral appreciation of good food and we automatically ordered everything from “soup to nuts” — including “panfried foie gras” and “prime rib” — without any prodding from Brother Andrew.  We also ordered the other expensive items.  And the young men already appreciated fine wines, so that added to the expense.  Brother Andrew jokingly threatened that we would have to pay the bill the next time!!!  [ There were many other times afterwards but he never made good on his threat. ]

“Jade Garden” Chinese restaurant, Makati.  When it was new, Brother Andrew liked to assemble the family in the big function room there [ the "Lotus Room"? ] during his 29 February [ 1940 ] birthday and Tito Hector’s 02 January [ 1937 ] birthday.  But he also enjoyed dining there with just Tito Hector and I.  That way we could eat, nay gorge, on all the “steamed shrimps” and all the “Peking duck” we wanted without having to think of the other people at the table…

When “McDonald’s” finally arrived in Manila in late 1981, Brother Andrew took Tito Hector and I for “merienda” [ afternoon snack ].  I will never forget that time because Brother Andrew ordered four “Big Macs,” four “Filet-o-Fish,” three french fries, and three large “root beers” for himself and another four “Big Macs,” four “Filet-o-Fish,” four french fries, and four large “Root Beers” for [ the hefty ] Tito Hector!!!???!!!  The “McDonald’s” staff was incredulous…!!!  Li’l ol’ me only ordered a “Big Mac,” french fries, and a large “Root Beer.”  And oh, Brother Andrew also ordered four chocolate sundaes for himself and another two chocolate and two strawberry sundaes for Tito Hector.  I only ordered a strawberry sundae.  I will never forget the incredulous stares and the amused glances at our table that time!!!  I overheard one lady say:  “Ang takaw naman ng mga dambuhalang iyan!!!” [ "What big appetites those huge men have!!!" ]   Bwahahahahah!!!

Those were Brother Andrew’s “little joys.”  He wanted the family to eat well — very well.   That was how Brother Andrew used a small part of the money his rich parents had left him.  The big part he continually gave to charity…

And since he couldn’t finish his inheritance, he gave it all to charity through the De La Salle University.

*unfinished*

Memorable Manila Houses

There were many beautiful houses in Manila…

In the 1800s:

The Paterno residence, Calle San Sebastian, Quiapo [ now R. Hidalgo street ].  According to the privately-circulated Paterno monograph by Mickey and Jean Paterno, it was originally a Zamora y Paterno residence;  it devolved to the Paterno family when a Zamora heiress married a Paterno scion.  It is a magnificent example of mid-19th century aristocratic Filipino residential architecture.  It is still extant although deteriorated with its innumerable tenants.

The Maximino “Memo” Molo Agustin Paterno residence, Calle Azcarraga [ now Claro M. Recto Avenue ], Santa Cruz.  It was the residence of the famous “Capitan Memo” Molo Agustin Paterno of Santa Cruz, Manila, who married three times:  the first to Valeria Pineda, the second to Valeria’s cousin Carmina de Vera Ygnacio, and the third to Carmina’s sister, Teodora de Vera Ygnacio.  One of Capitan Memo’s sons was the famous “ilustrado” Pedro Alejandro Paterno.  The opulent, late 1800s, European-style interiors of Capitan Memo’s magnificent Santa Cruz residence are immortalized in a series of photographs kept by the descendants.

The Pinedas, de Veras, and Ygnacios were active players in the burgeoning jewelry trade of Santa Cruz district:  they were involved in the trade of precious stones and gold,  design, goldsmithing, and production of jewelry, both for the local market and for export.

The Ramon Genato residence, Calle San Sebastian, Quiapo.  The very elegant mansion of Ramon Genato was renowned in its time from the 1880s-90s as a gathering place of “alta sociedad de Manila.”  The raconteur Felix Roxas y Fernandez waxed nostalgic: “December 31 of every year, or the New Year’s Eve Ball, was traditionally held in the commodious and luxurious house of the Ramon Genatos whose children, out of love for their father, fondly took care of the lavish preparations for the festivity. By entering the portals of this unusual mansion on R. Hidalgo Street, the guests were brought face to face and impressed with the fine taste and artistic traits of the Genato children; and this impression was augmented when one passed through the artistically decorated and elegant rooms and halls of the mansion. The dining room appeared very splendid, not only because of the profusion of decorative plants and flowers and of fountains prepared with blocks of luminous ice, but also because of the regal appearance of the dining table decked with the latest in the decorative art.”

The Gonzalo Tuason y Patino residence, Santa Ana.

The Pedro Sy-Quia and Asuncion Michels de Champourcin y Ventura residence, Tondo [ the facade is incorporated into the present Tutuban mall;  it was the former Tutuban railroad station ].

Pedro Sy-Quia amassed a great fortune in trading.  At the height of his success, it was said that he owned 10 % of the real estate of Manila and its surrounding “arrabales” districts.

When the Sy-Quia-Michels de Champourcin residential property in Tondo was expropriated by the government to establish the Tutuban railroad station, the family of Pedro Sy-Quia transferred to a house on Mabini Street in  the newly fashionable Ermita district.  The “Table of the Sphinxes” the big marble table was purchased by the Escuderos of San Pablo, Laguna, and the biggest French crystal chandelier in the sala was purchased by the Santa Ana cabaret and it later ended up at the Malacanang palace.

The Paterno-Planas residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel district.  Before and after the war, the house contained a concentration of Paterno heirlooms from the other great family houses:  magnificent ancestral portraits by 19th century Filipino masters Severino Flavier Pablo and Justiniano Asuncion and splendid late 19th century furniture by Filipino and Chinese master cabinetmakers like the famous “Ah Tay.”  Unfortunately, Adela Planas viuda de Paterno was childless and had no direct heirs;  none of the younger Paterno descendants stayed with her.  The house and the magnificent, ages-old Paterno heirlooms were inherited by wards who deaccessioned everything and the house was consequently demolished in the late 1980s.  The house parts were purchased by ***** ***** [ granddaughter of Roman R. Santos, founder of Prudential Bank ] and used in the construction of two family houses in Ayala Alabang.

The Pedro Pablo “Perico” Roxas y de Castro and Carmen de Ayala y Roxas residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel district.  It was a masterpiece of the patrician architect Felix Roxas y Arroyo [ Sr. ], who was both Pedro’s and Carmen’s uncle.  Felix Roxas y Arroyo [ Sr. ] was a first cousin of Pedro’s father, Jose Bonifacio Roxas y Ubaldo, and his sister, Margarita Roxas de Ayala, Carmen’s mother.  Pedro and Carmen were first cousins.

The facade of the house featured a pair of inwardly curving stone stairs.

The American “Thomasite” teacher Maria Morilla Norton wrote a detailed description of the house [ "Studies in Philippine Architecture," 1911 ].

The very elegant 1890s wedding of Margarita Roxas y de Ayala to the Spanish engineer Eduardo Soriano y Sanz was held in the house.

Senior ladies remember it as the elegant house from which Ramona “Ramonita” Roxas y Gargollo [ daughter of Antonio Roxas de Ayala and Carmen Gargollo;  granddaughter of Pedro Pablo Roxas and Carmen de Ayala ] emerged for her wedding to Mr. Fernandez in the 1930s.

The Jacobo Zobel y Zangroniz and Trinidad de Ayala y Roxas residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel district.

The Rafael Enriquez residence, Calle San Sebastian, Quiapo.  It was another masterpiece of the patrician architect Felix Roxas y Arroyo [ Sr. ].  However, by the 1980s, its splendid interior architectural details had already disappeared.  The small, principal staircase was certainly not in consonance with the architect’s original vision and it seemed to be a postwar replacement.  It was once used as the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines.  Transferred and faithfully reassembled in 2007, it now stands at the “Real de Acuzar” complex in Bagac, Bataan.

The American “Thomasite” teacher Maria Morilla Norton wrote a detailed description of the house [ "Studies in Philippine Architecture," 1911 ].

The Eugster residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel District.  It was later acquired by the prominent lawyer Jose Moreno Lacalle in the 1890s.  Afterwards, it was acquired by the industrialist Michael Goldenberg in 1950.  It was forcibly acquired by Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos from the Goldenberg family in the early 1970s.  It is the most elegant extant example of late 19th century Filipino residential architecture.

However, it must be noted that the famous and grand “escalera principal” of the Eugster/Moreno Lacalle/Goldenberg mansion was a postwar renovation/addition.

The Mariano Limjap residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel district.

Mariano Limjap was an immensely rich and handsome man with aristocratic tastes.  Born to wealth and accustomed to elegance, his house was furnished with European furniture as well as pieces by the redoubtable “Ah Tay” of Binondo, and was littered with expensive French and English decorations.  It is said that he left +- Php 10 million to each of his 10 children upon his death in the early 1900s [ his estate must have been worth Php 100 million ].

The mansion stood at the foot of the Ayala bridge.  It was destroyed by bombs during the war.

The Faustino Lichauco and Luisa Fernandez residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel district.

A Lichauco daughter recalled that there was a hallway in the house that was luxuriously lined with a succession of large Venetian mirrors on both sides.

The Rafael and Joaquin Ynchausti residence, Calle Cortabitarte, Malate district.

In the early 1900s:

The Gregorio Araneta y Soriano and Carmen Zaragoza y Roxas residence, Calle San Sebastian [ later Calle R. Hidalgo ], Quiapo.  It was designed by the architect Arcadio Arellano.  It was the most beautiful, elegant, aristocratic residence along Calle R. Hidalgo during the fifty years of its existence.

It actually survived the war, but it did not survive a defective light bulb in a closet.

The Ariston Bautista y Lin and Petrona Nakpil residence, Calle Barbosa [ now Bautista Street ], Quiapo.  It was designed by the architect Arcadio Arellano in 1914.  Its architectural details were avant garde for its time.  Ariston and his wife Petrona were childless.  The house devolved to Petrona’s brother, Julio Nakpil, who had married the revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus.  Their son, Juan Nakpil, was a leading Filipino architect.

The residence is remarkably well-preserved.  Its conservation is a testament to the high intellectual and artistic traditions of the prominent Nakpil family.  The original Vienna Secession-style furniture still exists in the houses of various Nakpil descendants.

The Felipe Hidalgo y Kleimpell residence, Calle San Sebastian, Quiapo.  The Neo-Gothic detailed house was famous for the eccentric, all-encompassing collection of Felipe Hidalgo, a descendant of the venerable Padilla family and a nephew of the great nationalist painter Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.   The magnificent Hidalgo collection was dispersed in the early 1980s and the house consequently demolished in the late 1980s.

The Baldomero Roxas residence, Malate district.

The Jose Araneta y Zaragoza and Mercedes Lopez residence, Calle Cortabitarte, Malate district.

The Andres Soriano y Roxas and Carmen de Montemar residence, Calle General Solano, San Miguel district.  It was designed by the talented and eccentric artist, Emilio Alvero.  It is currently the Padilla residence.

The Rafael Fernandez y Santos and Josefa Escaler y Sioco residence, Calle Arlegui, San Miguel district.  It was designed by a leading American architect in an eclectic European style.  It was the wedding gift of the bride’s mother, Sabina Sioco viuda de Escaler, Pampanga’s richest “hacendera” landowner at the time, to a younger daughter.  Unfortunately, vicissitudes befell the Fernandez couple and the house was sold.  During the Marcos presidency, First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos enlarged the house by constructing a mirror-image of the original.  It served as a presidential guest house for many years.  It served as the official residence of President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino during her incumbency.  It is currently the property of Tarcila Laperal-Mendoza.

In the prewar [ 1930s ]:

The Jacobo Zobel y Roxas and Angela Olgado residence, Malate district, Dewey boulevard.

The property had been owned by the Vicenta Reyes viuda de Juan Roxas family since the late 1800s.  It was sold by the unfortunate Francisco L. Roxas family through their representative Gregorio Araneta y Soriano [ married to their niece Carmen Zaragoza y Roxas, daughter of Rosa Roxas de Zaragoza, a first cousin of Francisco ] to their relatives the Zobel-Roxas family.  Francisco L. Roxas y Reyes was a second cousin of Trinidad Ayala de Zobel, Jacobo’s paternal grandmother.

The house was in the Spanish style, detailed with bricks and white plaster.

Senior ladies remember the house to have been among Manila’s most beautiful because of the elegant tastes of Angela Olgado de Zobel.

The house became the British embassy for some years.

The Alfonso Zobel y Roxas and Carmen Pfitz y Herrero residence, Ermita district, Dewey boulevard.  It was a masterpiece of the Paris-trained architect Andres Luna San Pedro, the only son of nationalist painter Juan Luna y Novicio and his heiress wife Paz Pardo de Tavera y Gorricho.

The house was in the style of the French Mediterranean villas dotting the Riviera.  It also evoked the Beaux-Arts mansions of fin-de-siecle Paris.

The Enrique Zobel de Ayala and Fermina Montojo y Torrontegui residence, Dewey boulevard.

“El Nido” the Perkins residence, Dewey boulevard.

The Vicente Fernandez and Petra Leyba y Martinez residence, Aviles street [ formerly Calle Aviles ], San Miguel district.  The brothers Vicente and Ramon Fernandez established “Compania Maritima,” Maritime Company of the Philippines, and other companies; they were business titans of the time.  Being prominent members of the business community, they were also co-founders of “Club Tiro al Blanco,” “Club Filipino,” “Philippine Columbian Association,” etc..  Petra Leyba y Martinez belonged to a rich Spanish-Filipino family with many commercial and residential real estate holdings in Manila.

The Pickett residence, Santa Mesa.  The affluent Picketts were the forebears of the famously handsome actor Eddie Gutierrez.  Eddie’s father Long Pickett was considered by Manila society as the handsomest man of his time.

The Bachrach residence, Santa Mesa.

The Ramon Fernandez and Feliza Hocson y Valenzuela residence, San Juan.  The brothers Vicente and Ramon Fernandez established “Compania Maritima,” Maritime Company of the Philippines, and other companies; they were business titans of the time.  Being prominent members of the business community, they were also co-founders of “Club Tiro al Blanco,” “Club Filipino,” “Philippine Columbian Association,” etc..  The house was set on top of the Pinaglabanan hill on 4 hectares directly across from the Pinaglabanan church;  it had a racecourse for horses;  sheep and deer were also raised on the property.  The house was hung with large masterpieces by prewar Filipino masters like Fabian de la Rosa, Fernando Amorsolo, and Jorge Pineda.

The Juan Arellano residence, San Juan.

The Barcelona – de Santos residence, San Juan.  The prewar Italianate villa and its garden was a masterpiece of the early 20th century Filipino artist Emilio Alvero.  It was built for the Barcelona, an affluent and prominent Nueva Ecija “hacendero” family.  According to the Barcelonas, Emilio Alvero was an eccentric, whimsical, and temperamental artist who was most productive at night.  He painstakingly designed every architectural element in the house.  He even personally mixed and made the green “terrazzo” flooring of the ground floor.  The residence is well-maintained in its original state by the family.

The Manuel Elizalde residence, Pasay.

The Perez Rubio residence, Vito Cruz.  It was a beautiful French-style house.

The entire Perez Rubio family — with the exception of young Miguel Perez Rubio who was not in the house at that time — and their household staff were murdered by the Japanese soldiers in late February 1945.

The Tomas Mapua residence, Taft Avenue, Pasay.  It was a masterpiece in the Art Deco style by the Cornell University-trained architect Tomas Mapua.  He was the first registered Filipino architect.  The residence is well-maintained by the family.

The Teresa Tuason residence [ the Tuason-Prieto-Caro-Ag*stines ], San Miguel district.

It is one of Manila’s most elegant houses, owing to the exquisite tastes of the owners.  It is very well-maintained by the family.  The lovely portrait of the original chatelaine, Teresa Tuason, painted by a Filipino old master, is still installed in the living room.

According to the legendary arts and antiques collector Marie-Theresa “Bebe” Lammoglia-Virata:  “At the time we were collecting, during that time when even the ugly was beautiful, they were only collecting the beautiful.”  The collection is also known as the “black hole” to the big, new collectors because once a magnificent item enters its confines, it is never seen again, except by the family and its closest circles.

“Victoneta 1933″ The 1933 Salvador Araneta y Zaragoza and Victoria Lopez y Ledesma residence, San Juan / Mandaluyong.  It was a splendid Hispano-Moresque / Mediterranean style residence that sprawled on 17,000 square meters [ 1.7 hectares ].  It was in the style of the grand residences designed by Addison Mizner in Palm Beach, Florida.  Three prominent architects were employed in succession to complete the villa:  Juan Arellano, Lerma, and Andres Luna San Pedro.

It was destroyed by a bomb planted in the chapel by the Japanese soldiers and accidentally detonated by a Filipino refugee during the final days of the war.  Salvador and Victoria Araneta decided not to rebuild “Victoneta 1933″ on account of the many war casualties.  They built a new, large residence in Malabon:  “Victoneta II.”

The Narcisa Buencamino de de Leon residence, New Manila.

The Amparo Joven ( y de Keyser ) de Cortes residence, New Manila.

The Jose Severo Tuason y Zaragoza and Paz “Ning” Acuna y Jurado residence, Santa Mesa.

The Leopoldo “Pindong” Tuason residence, Santa Mesa.  It was transferred / rebuilt by developer DMCI as the Acacia Suites clubhouse at the BGC Bonifacio Global City. 

The Antonio Tuason residence, Santa Mesa.

“Ang Gubat” the Benito Legarda and Trinidad Fernandez residence, Sampaloc.  The legendary estate of the Legarda family.

The Francisco Lopez and Angela Fajardo residence, Calle Sobriedad, Sampaloc.

The house was called “Why Worry?” and it took its inspiration from the Hollywood films of the era.  Once inside, it is very easy to imagine the likes of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Bette Davies.

The Eduardo Cojuangco y Chichioco and Josephine Murphy y Beley residence, Santa Ana.  The Cojuangco-Murphy siblings remember it as a large house, although it was still being completed when World War II came to the Philippines on 08 December 1941.

The Dy-Buncio residence, Santa Ana.  It later became the residence of the businessman Mr. Arcache.

Postwar:

The Isauro Gabaldon residence, Pina avenue, Santa Mesa.

The Carlos Palanca residence, Taft avenue, Pasay.

The Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Pacita de Santos Moreno residence, Pasay.

The Vicente Madrigal residence, Balete drive, New Manila.

After Vicente’s passing, his many, many properties were raffled off to his seven children:  Macaria “Nena” [ Mrs. Juan Lichauco de Leon ], Maria Paz “Pacita” [ Mrs. Herman Warns;  later Mrs. Gonzalo W. Rafols Gonzalez ], Josefina “Pinang” [ Mrs. Francisco Ma. B. Bayot ], Antonio “Tony” [ married to Amanda Teopaco Abad Santos ], Jose “Belec” [ married to Victoria Teopaco Abad Santos ], Consuelo “Chito” [ Mrs. Luis "Chichos" Earnshaw Vazquez;  later Mrs. Manuel Collantes ], and Maria Luisa “Ising” [ Mrs. Daniel Earnshaw Vazquez ].  It was Maria Luisa “Ising” who got the New Manila residence in the “bunutan” raffle.  However, Consuelo “Chito” complained aloud and so the residence was raffled off again.  The second time, it was Antonio “Tony” who got it;  there were no objections from Chito.  Antonio went into a joint venture with the Rufinos and developed the large property as a compound of luxury townhouses.  It is known that the Madrigal-Paterno grandchildren rue the loss of their grandfather’s home:  they spent many happy years there and the Eduardo Cojuangco Sr. grandchildren [ most often the Suntay-Cojuangco ] often came over to play by merely climbing ladders over their common fences.  According to the Vazquez-Madrigal children, had their mother Maria Luisa “Ising” Madrigal-Vazquez inherited their grandfather’s house, she would have maintained it as it was during his lifetime.

The Jose Yulo residence, New Manila.

The Josephine Murphy de Cojuangco residence, Balete drive, New Manila.  According to Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro, her parents Eduardo Cojuangco Sr. and his wife Josephine Murphy purchased the New Manila property from an American who had been interned during the war at the University of Santo Tomas;  on it stood a traditional house of wood and stone constructed in prewar.  In the years before his untimely 1952 demise,  Eduardo Cojuangco Sr. had several architects, among them the famous Juan Nakpil, draw up plans for his upcoming residence.

After her husband’s passing in 1952, it was Josephine Murphy viuda de Cojuangco who constructed the house where she lived with her six children Eduardo Jr., Manuel, Henry, Mercedes, Aurora, and Isabel.

“Bahay na Puti” The J. Amado Araneta and Ester Araneta residence, Cubao.  J. Amado “Amading” Araneta was known in affluent Manila-Bacolod-Iloilo circles for his “Think Big” mindset [ think Araneta Coliseum ], and his vast residence reflected that fact.

“White House” / “Victoneta II” The postwar Salvador Araneta y Zaragoza and Victoria Lopez y Ledesma residence, AIA Compound, Malabon.

The Luis Ma. Araneta y Zaragoza residence, # 52 McKinley Road, Forbes Park.

There were also interesting houses in Manila…

Prewar:

The “Pagoda” renovation of the 1800s Ocampo residence, Quiapo

The Ocampo family of Quiapo were directly descended from the prominent and affluent Paterno and Zamora families, also of the same district [ Calle San Sebastian / Calle R. Hidalgo ], as well as the famous and wealthy de los Reyes family originally of Cavite [ Crisanto de los Reyes y Mendoza ].

“Villa Caridad,” New Manila. The prewar, eclectic, Mediterranean-style residence was built by the Lerma family. It was later acquired by the Gallego-Ongsiako family with whom it was more closely associated.

*unfinished*

“Tocino del Cielo”

If it was a simple “madeleine” that sparked the flood of memories in Marcel Proust’s mind, it is the luxurious “tocino del cielo” that sparks my own remembrance of things…

It is the confection I most remember during family occasions amidst dessert selections that included fresh fruits, homemade buco and [ white, white ] lychee sherbet, “Selecta” “Macapuno” ice cream [ back when the Arces owned "Selecta" ] , homemade carabao milk and “dayap” lime-tinged “Mantecado” ice cream, vanilla ice cream topped with bing cherries in liqueur, the strawberry and peach cream Princess Cake, walnut and almond “Sans Rival,” “Canonigo,” “Brunn” butter cake, “food for the gods,” date bars, “borrachos,” “panaritas,” “See’s” chocolates, “Almond Roca,” and whatever else Lola Charing had brought out from her personal pantry.

It is the confection I hold with the deepest affection.

Luz Sarmiento de Panlilio of Bacolor related a funny story about the Gonzalez “tocino del cielo”:  On 12 July 1939, the Angeles sugar planters Gregorio, Dalmacio, and Carmelino Timbol and their bodyguard Geronimo Buan gunned down Jose Leoncio de Leon, Augusto Gonzalez, and Captain Julian Olivas at the PASUDECO Pampanga Sugar Development Company offices in San Fernando, Pampanga.  All of Pampanga and Manila society were busy condoling with the de Leon family in Bacolor and the Gonzalez family in Sulipan, Apalit.  The Panlilio y Santos Joven siblings of Bacolor — Jose “Pepe,” Francisco “Quitong” / “Paquito,” and Encarnacion “Carning” –  were second cousins through the Joven line of Jose “Peping” de Leon y Joven, the only son of Jose Leoncio “Pitong” de Leon y Hizon [ Josefa "Sepa" Santos y Joven, the mother of the Panlilio siblings, was a first cousin of the sisters Regina "Inang" and Maria Natividad "Titang" Joven y Gutierrez, both of whom married Jose Leoncio de Leon y Hizon; Ramona Joven y Suarez, the mother of Josefa, and Juan Joven y Suarez, the father of Regina and Maria Natividad, were siblings; Ramona and Juan were among the nine legitimate children of Juan Joven and Geronima Suarez ].  So the whole family, including the two in-laws [ Luz Sarmiento and Nitang Granda ], promptly went to the wake at the de Leon mansion, which was only a few yards from their own residence.  The Panlilio y Santos Joven siblings — certified gourmands — were not at all pleased with the traditional dinner served to them at the de Leon manse.  They then proceeded in their big car to the Gonzalez wake in Sulipan, Apalit.  After condoling with the family [ but not with the widow, Rosario "Charing" Arnedo; she was strapped to a bed during the wake and the funeral because she was one month pregnant with Macario Diosdado, the future Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C. of De La Salle University ], they were seated at the long “cabecera” dining table and served an elaborate Sulipeno meal on the Gonzalez Paris porcelain, Baccarat crystal, and English sterling silver.  The Panlilio y Santos Joven siblings and their in-laws were very pleased with the grand dinner served to them at the Gonzalez manse [ Maria Ignacia "Titay" { o 1872 - + 1964 } and Ynes Arnedo { o 1876 - + 1954 }, the daughters of the legendary Capitan Joaquin Arnedo { + 1897 }, and the aunts of Rosario "Charing," had temporarily moved into the Gonzalez mansion and supervised the food of the wake and the funeral ].  They declared the Gonzalez “tocino del cielo” “Superior!” [ "sooh-pehr-yohr" ] and proceeded to consume several pieces.  Jose “Pepe,” a longtime diabetic, consumed twelve pieces!!!  For the next two evenings, the Panlilio y Santos Joven family made the customary visits to the de Leon wake and to their second cousin Jose “Peping” but eagerly proceeded to the Gonzalez wake in Sulipan, Apalit to eat very well.  And to have those divine “tocino del cielo” by the dozens again!!!  Luz Sarmiento de Panlilio recalled with embarrassment and irritation that her Panlilio y Santos Joven in-laws only made perfunctory visits to their de Leon relatives [ "e maniaman yng pamangan" because "the food was not good" ] but thoroughly enjoyed condoling — and eating!!! —  with the Gonzalezes in Sulipan [ "tutung 'superior' yng pamangan!!!" where "the food was 'superior'!!!" ], whom they knew well socially but were not related to at all…!!!  Hahahah!!!   :P   :P   :P

The “tocino del cielo” is not for everyone though.  I vividly remember a suitor — from a newly affluent family — of my sister who came to Sunday lunch.  He did not know what it was.  He found the sweetness cloying and the texture slimy.  His reaction was understandable:  he did not grow up with such luxurious eccentricities.

It is certainly unfashionable in these days of washboard abdominals and stick thin figures.  But children of old families brush vanity and diet restrictions aside once faced with these sweet treasures of their past on their dessert tables.

It is basically just egg yolks and sugar, but the precise technique is everything!!!

In the late 1800s, the Arnedo “tocino del cielo” was cooked by the legendary patissier Juan Padilla in a “bano maria” covered with banana leaves placed over the earthenware stove with its charcoal in the big “cocina” of the guesthouse of the “La Sulipena” mansion, which was devoted exclusively to the production of desserts.  It was originally made with duck eggs which endowed it with a stronger taste and a more solid, but not chewy, texture.  No one in the family knows how chicken eggs were eventually substituted for the duck eggs specified in Padilla’s original recipe.

The Gonzalez “tocino del cielo” was similar to the Arnedo version because their cooks tended to come from the same families in Sitio Pulung Cauayan [ Sulipan ] where all the household help and various staff of the Arnedo, Escaler, and Gonzalez families lived.

I remember Lola Charing’s strict instruction that “tocino del cielo” could only be made with “Victorias” refined sugar.  If there was no “Victorias” refined sugar available, there could be no “tocino del cielo,” as simple as that.

The memorable “‘Las Cibeles’ Pasteleria y Salon de Te” — the favorite pastry shop of Manila’s Spanish mestizo community — produced a rich “tocino del cielo” that was made with milk.

My brother Gene Gonzalez has made the family’s “tocino del cielo” available year-round at his Cafe Ysabel pastry shop.  It is a good version that is close to the one made at the family home.  But there was still a certain ineffable quality to the “tocino del cielo” when it was made in the serene atmosphere of the kitchen at Lola Charing’s…

An Arnedo cousin, the computer engineering genius and immensely successful IT expert Henry Peter [ Arnedo-Sazon ] Badenhop, continues to prepare the traditional Arnedo “tocino del cielo” for his personal consumption at his New Jersey home.

Our very dear 96 year old great grandaunt “Imang” Beatriz Rodriguez in San Fernando, Pampanga still prepares her “tocino del cielo” in the original molds.  The taste and consistency of her version, I am told by Gonzalez aunts, hew closest to the prewar version, which had not changed from the late 1800s.

My cousin Carmelita “Mely” Palanca Gonzalez-Gan prepares the Gonzalez “tocino del cielo” in an interesting way.  Instead of tediously using the small molds, she makes the “tocino del cielo” in one big tray.  It is convenient for people like me who like their desserts in generous servings.

A friend, the very fashionable Vicky Panlilio-Claparols, serves a rich “tocino del cielo” among the desserts at gatherings in her home.  Like my Ate Mely’s, it is made in one tray.  It is prepared by Teofilo, the longtime cook of her mother-in-law, the redoubtable Sagrario Alejandrino Medina-Claparols.  It is unusual because it is made with milk.

The high point of the “tocino del cielo,” in my opinion, was reached with the exacting tastes of my uncle, Brother Andrew, acknowledged as the leading gourmet in the family.  He told Celi the cook in the plainest terms that he wanted the “tocino del cielo” his way — not Ate Garing’s, not Ate Talia’s, not even Lola Charing’s, nor the Gonzalezes’ nor the Arnedos’.   It was he who insisted that the “tocino del cielo” have a half-cooked consistency [ "gagalgal" in Capampangan loosely translated to "quivering" in English ] which endowed them with an elusive silky texture and unparalleled smooth finish.  The result was an exquisite, “couture” dessert that was classically French in quality!!!

Now, if only I had made an effort to learn it…!!!   :)   :)   :)

That’s “their” kind of Pampango food…

I am terribly amused and bemused by chichi Manila friends who absolutely shriek with delight at the sight of “Kapampangan food”…  *looks condescendingly at the rustic spread*

What… are those???  It looks like the spread was taken literally from the dotty “Bahay Kubo” ditty:  “sitaw, bataw, bataniii…”…

 Well, I suppose that is “their” kind of “Kapampangan food”… *sigh*

A beautiful prewar residence

As a child in the early 1970s, I used to admire a French Mediterranean-style mansion along Roxas Boulevard.  It was a bank then [ "Bank of Asia"? ].  My Daddy and I would drive by in the afternoons and I would glimpse a big chandelier lit inside.  For eight year old me, that was elegance!

In the 1980s…

By that time, I already knew that the mansion had been designed by the prominent architect Andres Luna San Pedro, who was trained in Paris.  He was the son of the nationalist painter Juan Luna y Novicio and his heiress wife Paz Pardo de Tavera y Gorricho.

The mansion had been built for Alfonso Zobel y Roxas, his wife Carmen Pfitz y Herrero, and their children Jaime, Victoria, and Alfonsito.  Jaime Zobel married Beatriz Miranda and they are the parents of Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel, the current chief executives of the Ayala conglomerate.

*unfinished*

Life in Paniqui

I recently had dinner with a very interesting senior lady who generously shared her memories of family life in their hometown of Paniqui, Tarlac…

“”In those days, Lola Sidra was the central figure in the family.  She controlled the family’s thousands of hectares of agricultural lands in Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Pangasinan.”

“She was a very industrious lady.  She did not hesitate to ride the carabao drawn carts to inspect the farmlands.”

“Everyone in the family worked hard at their various functions because there were so many things to manage:  Lola Sidra, Lolo Melecio, Lola Tecla, Tio Pepe, Tio Itoy, Tio Antonio, and Tio Endeng.  Even the wives of the four brothers — the four “donas”:  Tia Metring, Tia Elena [ Tio Itoy's first wife;  Tia Hati only became his wife after the war ], Tia Toyang, and Tia Nene — were put to work as cashiers at the sugar centrals.  They were very careful with the proceeds of the day and, out of respect and fear of Dona Sidra, would get upset if even Php 1.00 was missing [ a good amount in prewar ];  they would shake their skirts and go through their desks thoroughly until they found the missing peso!!!

“When they were younger, long before the war, Lola Sidra and her sister-in-law Lola Tecla would go to the Escolta to look around and shop.  They would go to the expensive stores with their household staff.  Back home in Paniqui, the household staff would relate how the salesladies would hardly pay attention to the two plainly-dressed, provincial ladies.  If only they knew that the two ladies could buy all those stores lock, stock, and barrel!!!”

“There was one time during prewar when Lola Sidra went to ‘La Estrella del Norte,’ which was then the most expensive shop along the Escolta.  She took a liking to a big set of European sterling silver flatware and asked a salesman how much it was.  The rude salesman took a look at the traditionally-dressed old lady and her staff from the province and replied curtly:  ‘Huwag na ninyo itanong dahil hindi niyo naman kayang bilhin.’  [ 'Don't bother to ask since you cannot afford it anyway." ]  ‘Magkano ba?’  [ 'How much is it?' ] she persisted.  He quoted an astronomical sum.  Without further ado, Lola Sidra reached into a pouch filled with cash carried by her staff and effortlessly drew the required amount.  The salesman was shocked:  The old lady from the province he had looked down on had purchased the big set of European sterling silver flatware no one could afford!!!  Unfortunately, years later during the war, all of Lola Sidra’s beautiful silver were stolen.”

“The family had a big old house in Barrio Matalapitap.  It was a rectangular “bahay na bato” with a wooden second floor, capiz sliding windows, and an adobe ground floor.  The adobe stones of the house were as big as those in churches!  There was a corner room in the ground floor that served as a vault.  Behind the vault, outside the house, was the well [ "balon" ].  Old Tomas Lising said that that was where the family kept their harvest collections during the Spanish times.”

After the war, the family moved to a new big house across from the offices in the new compound, which everyone called “Y.C.” for Lola Sidra.  The new family compound was a very big place:  it stretched as far as one could see…!!!  The offices across from the house included the bank.  Tia Endeng “babae” [ Cleotilde Chichioco-Evangelista; not to be confused with Tio Endeng "lalake" ], a cousin of Lola Tecla’s, faithfully held the keys to the vault.

“There was a statue of ‘Incung Jose’ [ the father of Lolo Melecio ] with a pigtail and loose pants that stood right in between the offices and the “Y.C.” new house.”

“The eldest in the family was Jose, followed by Juan, then Antonio, and the youngest was Eduardo.  Among us family, they were simply Tio Pepe, Tio Itoy, Tio Antonio, and Tio Endeng.  But in referring to them with other people, we were trained to address them as “Don Jose,” “Don Juan,” “Don Antonio,” and “Don Eduardo” as a sign of our respect, which is how people knew them anyway.”

“During the war, the family stayed in a commodious bamboo and nipa thatch ‘hacienda’ house, also in Barrio Matalapitap.  Everyone except for Tio Antonio’s family; he chose to stay in Manila.”

“Tio Antonio and most of his family were killed at the De La Salle Chapel along Taft Avenue in the last days of the war.  Their remains were brought back to Paniqui and interred in the family’s ‘ermita’ [ chapel / mausoleum ] at Sitio Caniogan, also in Barrio Matalapitap.”

“After the war, the family, like all rich provincial families, already settled in Manila for the education of the grandchildren…”

“After the war, Lola Sidra finally made the transition from frugal businesswoman to grande dame.  She was dressed in elegant ‘ternos’ and her hair was swept up and pinned with diamond and pearl-encrusted, gold-trimmed ‘peinetas’ [ tortoiseshell / silver combs ].   She rode in a black Cadillac.  No more carabao drawn carts.”

“Of all the granddaughters, the one who looks the most like Lola Sidra is Isabel, Tio Endeng’s daughter.  But Isabel is a far taller and bigger woman than Lola Sidra, because her mother, Tia Nene, is half-American.”

“Tia Nene is a beautiful woman.  She is half-American.  In her youth, she looked like the first Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela.  She is also the disciplinarian.  She can be very strict with her children and grandchildren.  One look is all it takes to make them behave.”

“Tio Pepe was the kindest man you could ever meet.  His wife Tia Metring was just the opposite.”

“Old Man Sumulong was a lawyer of Lola Sidra and Lolo Melecio and that was how they came into the Cojuangco circle;  that was how Tio Pepe met Tia Metring.  It is the story in the family that Tio Pepe initially courted Tia Metring’s prettier sister.   But when superstitious Lolo Melecio saw the mole under Tia Metring’s nose — which in Chinese tradition means that the person will become rich — he strongly advised Tio Pepe:  “Siya ang pakasalan mo.””  [ ""You should marry her."" ]

“The formidable Tia Metring had the habit of carrying the bottle of imported American coffee under her arms just so the household staff could not help themselves to it.”

“She had a prominent mole under her nose.  The staff at the bank knew that whenever her mole quivered, they were in trouble.  They called her ‘Hitler!  Hitler!’ behind her back.”

“Unforgettable was when Tia Metring sued her own mother Dona Salome over family land.  It was big news all over the place.”

“Odd, but when Tia Metring retired and ceded active control of the bank, she became kind and approachable in a way she never was before.”

“Lola Salome was an interesting character.  In the old days [ prewar ],  Lola Sidra and Lola Tecla and her sons would visit her at their house in Binondo.  There they would be served one scrambled egg flattened so much it was as big as the plate.  Lola Sidra would whisper to her hungry companions:  “Hayaan ninyo, kakain tayo sa labas mamaya…””  [ ""Be patient, we will eat out later..."" ]

“Tio Itoy was ‘makulit’ [ repetitive / redundant ].  He was conservative financially and was less of an entrepreneur than his brothers.”

“Tio Endeng was a kind man.  But he was strict, and he could have a bad temper when irritated.”

“It was after the unnecessary and untimely death of Tio Endeng in 1952 that the rift between his family and Tio Pepe’s started.  Sad…”

“After Tio Endeng passed away, Tia Nene had a mass said at the “ermita” every 13th of the month.  Often, she would make the trip to Paniqui.  Sometimes, she could not come but would phone instructions to proceed with the mass anyway…”

“Ditas was always quiet.  But everyone knows she is intelligent.  We like to call her “Miss Roots” because she likes to trace the origins of everyone and everything.”

“Rory was, and still is, very pretty.  She likes to cook.”

“The cook at “Y.C.” was ‘Apung Dianang’ Adriana Padilla – Pingol.  She and her husband had once been cooks of the [ legendary ] Arnedos in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga.  She was actually a sister of the Arnedos’ legendary cook Juan Padilla!  ‘Apung Dianang’s’ family prospered in the employ of the family in Paniqui, and her daughter “Loring” Loreto Pingol and husband “Pepe” Jose Cruz accumulated a small fortune of their own.”

“All of us can never forget the really delicious “tereret” which Apung Dianang and Ate Loring would prepare.  It was actually a brown-colored jam of sorts made with fresh coconut milk and “panocha” [ sugar taffy ], which made all the difference.  It was so delicious!!!  Whenever someone would come from Paniqui, we would get so excited to see the “Hills Brothers” coffee can where they usually put the “tereret.”  We would dig in our spoons and lick, lick, lick!!!”

“The family liked to eat.  At the big, big house of Tio Endeng and Tia Nene in Santa Ana, Manila, Lola Sidra had her own bedroom.  As the archetypal Cojuangco, she always had goodies in her bedroom, as in Paniqui — “champoy” [ Chinese preserved plums ] and chocolates — usually on top of a low “aparador” cabinet where the children couldn’t reach up.  But of course, we children liked to ask for her goodies.  If she was in a good mood, we would be given what we liked;  if she wasn’t in a good mood, no goodies!!!  Even then, Danding was the ringleader:  we children would sneak into her bedroom while she was out, and Danding would direct us to form a pyramid, one on top of the other, until we could reach the precious goodies!!!”

“During the weekends, Danding and Peping used to race their topdown sportscars at the ‘central’ in Barrio Manaois.  They used to have so much fun until their friend Turingan died in an accident along the stretch between Gerona and Paniqui towns.”

“Danding liked to stay at the big bamboo house at Barrio Matalapitap.  He would request ‘Pakbet!,’  ‘unan,’ ‘banig,’ and proceed to rest.   He was affectionately called ‘Kano’ because he had American blood.  Everyone knew that ‘Kano’ was around whenever his nice sportscar was parked in the area.  Danding always had charisma, he always had “what it took.”  He was popular and everybody liked him.”

“Everyone in town knew exactly which member of the family had arrived simply by seeing the car that had come from Manila…”

“Meldy was actually prettier when she would gain a little weight during her pregnancies.”

“In their later years, both Tia Metring and Tia Nene had impaired hearing.  So they both took to carrying ‘magic slates’ around to facilitate communication.”

“It was a joke in the family that Tia Metring’s hearing was impaired because of “sobrang kalansing ng pera” or the excessive noise of cash…!!!”

“In her last years, Lola Sidra, attended by the best doctors  and many nurses, occupied a suite at the Manila Doctors’ Hospital along Calle Isaac Peral [ now United Nations Avenue ].  She passed away in 1960.””

“muy agarrada”

I had “merienda” with a dear friend, A senior Spanish mestiza lady, yesterday.  Among her many memories were several comical ones…

Her pretty niece had been married after The War.  One of the principal sponsors had been one of the very richest and most respected senior ladies of the Spanish mestizo community in Manila. 

Because it was the wedding of two prominent families, the gifts to the couple were suitably splendid:  English sterling silver, French and English china, French crystal, Chantilly, Venetian, and Brussels lace, and other costly items.

Everyone held their breath when the gift of the very rich senior Spanish mestiza lady was opened…

Lo and behold!

It was an unspeakably common “Thermos” hot water bottle.   Red cover and black body.  Old stock.  From Divisoria.

Everybody burst out laughing!!!

But they shouldn’t have been surprised.  Incredibly rich as she was, the senior Spanish mestiza lady was reputed to be “muy agarrada.”

That is why her family is still very rich to this day!!!   :)

   

   

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