Where did all the beautiful “tutubi” dragonflies go??? We used to have many of them in the garden before…
We didn’t have all these techie gadgets which keep the children indoors the whole day these days. At best, we had the standard board and card games from the USA like Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, Snakes & Ladders, Old Maid, etc.. We even had a Ouija board and enjoyed it immensely until my eldest brother said it was The Bad Guy making the glass move!!! We played Toilet on Lola Charing’s exquisite English Regency-style “klismos” chairs by Sr Jose Antonio Ortoll with the removable cushions (now museum pieces; the Catalan Sr Ortoll made beautiful furniture for Manila’s richies; he was married to one of the city’s richest ladies), pretending to poopoo with the corresponding noises during lunch and dinner parties, to the dismay and embarrassment of our parents. We pretended to be gymnasts at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, aping Roumanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci who scored continuous perfect 10.0s and ruining 3 bed cushions in the process. But even those were not enough to keep us pesky children inside the house the whole day. We had the gardens, the streets, and the parks to play in, as well as the jaunts to the country clubs and the hotels. We played War, throwing fallen fruits like santol, caimito, rambutan, kamias, & duhat as cannonballs across windows and fences. We played Rape (talk about childhood violence!?) wherein I the Rapist would pull down the dress zippers at the backs of the obliging, giggling girls, “single size” for half of the zipper length and “family size” for the full zipper length (just to show how much, or how little, parental or even “yaya” supervision we had in our preteens…). And we didn’t even know what real rape was! Bwahahah! We played 1973 Miss Universe, aping Margie Moran, Gloria Diaz, and Amparo Munoz, using paper cutout crowns. Presumably like all children, we played all throughout those summers…
During my childhood days, being techie was all in the mind. Being able to operate the Bose stereo system, the Sony Betamax video player/recorder, and the Sony Walkman was enough to impress the adults and to qualify as a techie.
April 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm (1900s Philippines, Arnedo de Sulipan, Family Traditions, Gonzalez de Sulipan, Pampanga Traditions, Personal, Random memories, Religious Traditions, The Global Crowd, The Manilenos, The Pampanguenos, The Past)
The searing heat of summer also brings back memories of childhood gardens, specially Lola Charing’s garden. The garden of “Dona Charing” (Rosario Espiritu Arnedo-Gonzalez) was famous in the 40s, 50s, 60s, & 70s for its big American roses, in a city where even small roses did not thrive naturally. During its heyday, a group of hardy gardeners kept that Eden in bloom rather expensively. And we grandchildren had the run of the place, specially during the summers of the 60s & 70s.
April 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm (1800s Filipinas, 1900s Philippines, 2000s Philippines, Arnedo de Sulipan, Brother Andrew F.S.C. of De La Salle, Comedy Relief, Family Traditions, Gonzalez de Sulipan, Humor, Pampanga Cuisine, Pampanga Traditions, Past Events, Personal, Random memories, The Global Crowd, The Manilenos, The Pampanguenos, The Past)
Perhaps because of the searing heat these days, I remembered the traditional “Buco Lechias” sherbet which was made in a wood-and-steel “garapinera” churn with lots of rock salt outside (to keep cold?). As far as I knew, it was made in every good Capampangan household. In Lola Charing’s home, it was made by the mayordomo, Benito Nuqui or “Bito” for short. ”Bito” was modernized to “Bits” in the hip 60s. LOL.
I was a preteen in the late 70s (born 1967). Lola Charing had passed on in mid-1977 and my uncle Brother Andrew FSC of De La Salle University became the principal figure in the family. Brother Andrew had the most luxurious and demanding gustatory tastes. In one of those phases, he became obsessed with producing an excellent “Buco Lechias” sherbet. He insisted that the “Buco Lechias” sherbet of his childhood (late 40s) at Lola Titay’s (the Arnedo ancestral house in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga) had the WHITEST lychee fruit flesh, not the pale pink ones in the cans currently available. So he sent Bito to Binondo/Chinatown to look for the whitest lychee fruit flesh. Well, what did he expect? It was the Marcos years and there were tight import controls. No whitest lychees. Just cans of lychees with pinkish fruit flesh. Bito returned with the palest pink lychee fruit flesh. No can do. Bito was scolded. Bito was sent back to Binondo/Chinatown and — nobody knew how he did it — but he returned with the whitest lychee fruit flesh!!! Brother Andrew finally had his excellent “Buco Lechias” sherbet with the whitest lychee fruit flesh. Brother Andrew was satisfied, at least for that Sunday.
I remembered that at Lola Charing’s house sherbet and ice cream were served on etched crystal stems on porcelain saucers for everyday. During beautiful lunches and dinners, sherbets and ice cream appeared on chic, Art Deco Christofle footed bowls on Brussels lace doilies on matching Christofle saucers. Of course, I know all about the metallic taste that silver imparts to food, but I’ll use beautiful silver anytime.
The sherbet/ice cream phase did not end there. Brother Andrew wanted a “Calamansi” sherbet. He wanted it tart and dry, something like lime mixed with champagne brut. Not sweet at all (Brother Andrew intensely disliked sweetish food that was not meant to be sweet, like spaghetti). Odd, but “Calamansi” tended to sweeten slightly in sherbet form. No can do. It took Bito several tries to produce that tart and dry “Calamansi” sherbet, but he did, even if he couldn’t tell the difference. Brother Andrew was satisfied, at least for that Sunday.
Now in 2013, I wonder why it didn’t occur to Brother Andrew to have a “Dayap” sherbet, when in fact fragrant “dayap” lime (“dalayap” in Capampangan) was used extensively — on practically everything — in our Capampangan/Sulipan cooking?
The best version of “Buco Lechias” sherbet that I’ve had in recent years — exquisitely and expertly tinged with “dayap” lime rind with a hint of cordial — was served at dinner by my dear friend Albert Salgado Paloma, who is an equal (perhaps even a superior) to Brother Andrew’s luxurious and demanding gustatory tastes. Worldly and elegant Albert thinks nothing of marinating Italian veal shanks in a very expensive French grand cru for his “Ossobuco” and of marinating goat meat in a very expensive French X.O. cognac for his “Caldereta de Cabrito.” For Albert, luxurious excess is the only culinary way to go. Truly Capampangan.
Back to Brother Andrew, the sherbet/ice cream phase did not end there. He wanted the “Mantecado” ice cream of his childhood at Lola Titay’s (the Arnedo ancestral house in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga). Mind you, it was not the commercial, vanilla-flavored “Mantecado” ice cream you can buy at the megasupermarkets now. Brother Andrew’s inherited idea of “Mantecado” ice cream was of thick carabao’s milk, full of egg yolks, and “dayap” lime rind shavings. It was golden yellow with sprinklings of grass green. It looked so chic! If Hermes and Chanel made ice cream, that would definitely be it. So Bito produced our family’s version of “Mantecado” ice cream with “dayap” lime from Lola Charing’s rose garden. It was ambrosial. I would have finished off a gallon if I were permitted to do so.
So this is what this warm, warm spell does to me. It makes me think of sherbet and ice cream from the past. From the distant past.
These days, I am delightfully condemned to the highly unusual, positively weird, molecular gastronomy, New Age ice cream concoctions of my brother and nephew. But it’s a nice problem to have. LOL.
November 23, 2012 at 9:40 am (2000s Philippines, Angst, Comedy Relief, Current Events, Design and Decoration, Family Traditions, Humor, Manila Houses, The Global Crowd, The Laguna Tagalogs, The Tayabenses / Quezonians)
Because her US-based nephew was in town for 2 weeks for his niece’s beach wedding in Boracay island, Parsimonious Auntie had invited her nephews and nieces for lunch ( siomai (( from “Forbes” notwithstanding )), what else???!!! ) at her Grey Gardens-style home in gated Makati ( remember the movie “Grey Gardens” from 2009 starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange? ). One could hardly move with the palimpsest of possessions, of great worth and the worthless, since PA at her advanced age could no longer make distinctions ( not that she ever did ). There were beautiful paintings ( Fernando Amorsolo magsasakas & lavanderas, Anita Magsaysay-Ho tinderas & chismosas, Romeo Enriquez portraits of the family trolls ), furniture ( enough original Batangas mesas altar to make the top collectors swoon ), and objects ( silver “paliteras” toothpick holders and “buyeras” betel nut & cigar trays from several roots of the tree, Ch’ing dynasty rose, vert, & jaune vases, etc. ), juxtaposed with PA’s latest finds from the 168 mall in Divisoria, “Wellmanson”s” & “Sophie’s” in Quiapo, & the Greenhills “Tiangge,” but they were all coated with what seemed like a year of dust, despite the presence of several household help, who had once complained to their mistress that she had too many things for them to clean, to which she replied matter-of-factly: “Mayaman ako. Kaya marami akong gamit. Wala tayong magagawa tungkol do’n.” ( “I’m rich. That’s why I have so many things. There’s nothing we can do about that.” )
The house looked frozen in time… A beautiful niece, married to a superrich Asian businessman, was fascinated with already-”antique” perfume bottles ( perfume, not EDT eau de toilette ) in a vitrine in Parsimonious Auntie’s master bedroom, the lot of them from the 1950s, mostly from PA’s mother-in-law, Lola Bruja Mahjongera. What fascinated her the most were 2 bottles, 1 big and 1 small, sporting capes and headdresses. She had seen them in that cabinet since she was a small girl in the late 1950s.
The nephews and nieces ( all adults, very well-off, with their own families ) snickered among themselves when they came upon their aunt’s big framed family photo from the late 1970s by a society photographer hanging in the stairwell. Something was different in the family pic…
Parsimonious Auntie had roundly cut out her former daughter-in-law’s face and replaced it with the one of the new daughter-in-law, whose photo however, was of a different proportion ( not to mention a different era ) to the former daughter-in-law’s body, making her look like an alien… It looked “beyond ridiculous.”
Observations between the cousins were exchanged in hushed tones…
“Cutting ***** off and putting ***** like that… so funny!” observed a senior nephew.
“Why didn’t she have that done professionally? It looks awful!” asked a kind niece.
“Ssshhh… She’s proud that she did it herself! DIY!” an acerb niece warned.
“Hah??? She did it herself???!!!” they all asked, incredulous.
“Do you honestly think she’ll pay for Adobe Photoshop services by a pro???!!!” the acerb niece retorted. They all kept quiet.
A witty techie nephew pointed at the family photo and quipped the best line: “BUT HEY… THAT’S THE ORIGINAL ‘CUT & PASTE’ !!!”
( “Best Face” by Android??? )
“The moment I wake up, before I put on my make-up, I say a little prayer for you… oh yes I do… “
Bye-bye dearest, dearest, dearest Ditas!!!
It was a passing like no other…
Ditas’ friends through the years [ as were her siblings' ] were all there: Elvira Araneta, Joe Assad, Bien Benitez, Bonjin Bolinao, Boom Buencamino, Louie Cruz, Didit & Aurora Diaz, Ricky Gallaga, Lory & Eddie Guidotti, Chiqui Mabanta, Tony Martino, Raymond Rebueno, and many, many more…
Famous violinist Coke Bolipata serenaded her one evening.
06 May 2012, Sunday, 4:30 p.m..
I was doing some work in the study when my dear, dear, dear friend Ditas Gomez uncharacteristically called at 4:30 p.m…. uncharacteristic because she wasn’t usually up before sundown… After all, we usually chatted from 1:00 – 4:00 a.m….
“Hey, come and visit me ‘cuz I have to tell you something, something important…” Ditas requested, casually.
“You can tell me now!”
“Hmm… it’s best said in friggin’ movin’ livin’ color… really… ” she insisted.
“What? C’mon, tell me now, Ditas!”
“I have cancer.” she said plainly.
“Oh. Cancer of the what? Cancer of the bad hair day? Cancer of the joints? Cancer of the CDs? Cancer of the cats?” I asked, pretending to be casual about it.
“Cancer of the liver. It came from the Hepa – C virus. Y’ know: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll in those days [ the late 1960s ]… I have three months to go…” she stated plainly. Stoically.
“Oh God, Ditas. I hope you’re not in pain…” I inquired, genuinely concerned, and shocked to the core.
“Not really. Sometimes.”
“Well, there was this one time I came from the bathroom and I fell before I could reach my bed! Hahahah! And I couldn’t get up. Wow… That’s what I call getting old! I was facedown for about an hour… Wow… Hahahah! Finally my bones rearranged themselves, got together or something, and I was able to get up. Ay, that was something else! Hahahah! Que va!” she recalled, laughing.
“You must have needed a good smoke after that, huh? Hahahah!” I joked, knowing it was one of her fave things to do.
“You bet! I just vegged the day out!”
“I’m taking this alternative medicine… Reiji mushrooms… they power up your immunity!!!”
“What was upsetting you all this time??? Cancer is nothing but stress…”
“It must have been all those bad vibes at Ramona… I told you to get outta there a long time ago… the bad “feng shui” was all over… Of course, you finally did… but looks like the damage has been done… ” I conjectured.
“Well, ******* and all that… but so much more!!!”
“Does your family know?” I asked earnestly.
“No. I haven’t told them. Well… Naty and Patty… they’re in the States…”
“No. Because Maita is a blabbermouth. One time I told her I had an infection and she told Baboo and Baboo told everybody. I mean, I didn’t mind everybody knowing about it, but I did mind everybody being ‘concerned’ about it. Just not mah style, ya know… Hahahah!”
“Actually, I didn’t mind what Maita and Baboo did. I just didn’t like the idea of everybody… ya know… feeling sorry for me? I mean, mah sickness is mah own f*ckin’ business! Que va!”
“Tita Cecing? She’s your mom, she has to know!” I insisted.
“No! Because knowing Mom, she’ll worry to death… and she’ll get cancer… and she’ll die! No way!” she protested.
“Ay naku, Ditas… OK, whatever you want…” the awful truth had begun to sink in.
“I want a parteeeee when I’m gone!” Ditas requested.
“Well, a parteeeee you’re gonna get, Ditas!!!” I rejoined.
“Visit me, ha?” she reminded.
***After we hung up at 6:30 p.m., I had to sit quickly on a big chair to steady myself from the shocking news, if not, I would have fallen to the floor. Dearest Ditas with cancer? Three months to gooooo??? WTF???!!! F*CK!!!!!!!! :O :O :O
I so wept inside of me…
That time, I had not realized that it was the last time I would speak with dearest Ditas. The last time — that was IT!!!
Mercedes Tomasa “Ditas” Gonzalez-Favis Gomez. Ditas was a “free spirit” from the pyschedelic Sixties… Throughout her life she retained that magical youthfulness from that era which enabled her to fully understand and easily empathize with the youth of all the generations that came afterwards. She had a unique, forgiving, fresh perspective, specially of artistic people, of which she was one. Nothing new shocked her, everything new delighted her. Eccentric was exciting, Radical was relevant, and Weird was wonderful. Although a full, redblooded, vah-vah-voom woman who appreciated “real men” [ and that was said with a lot of sass and jazz ;P ], she embraced her many LGBT friends with unconditional affection and endless understanding. And they took her in sincerely as one of their own, to her genuine delight.
It was as Ditas wanted it exactly: No more tears. Just togetherness, smiles, jokes, laughter, singing, dancing, and remembering all the good times that were, somehow still are, and still could be. And then joyfully going on to the next new thing. It’s “the new way to go,” and I totally like it. Absolutely!!!
[ + Mercedes Tomasa "Ditas" Gonzalez-Favis Gomez, 22 September 1951 - 16 May 2012 ]
April 27, 2012 at 9:46 am (2000s Philippines, Comedy Relief, Domestic Travels, Family Traditions, Humor, Personal, Random memories, The Global Crowd, The Ilonggos, The Manilenos, The Negrenses, The Pampanguenos)
Not only the good food, and the scintillating company, but the cool air, the trees, plants, flowers, and the colorful “koi” fishes in the various ponds that make dining at practically everyone’s favorite resto in distant Tagaytay, no matter how frequent, so pleasant…
Bette Davies once quipped: “Old age is no place for sissies.”
She was right.
So this is what it’s like to get old…
April 27, 2012 at 9:45 am (1800s Filipinas, 1900s Philippines, Angst, Family Traditions, Gonzalez de Sulipan, Pampanga Traditions, Personal, Random memories, Religious Traditions, The Global Crowd, The Manilenos, The Pampanguenos, The Past, Tristesse)
At the start of Holy Week 2012, I decided that I would visit two people very dear to me: 73 year old fellow aesthete “Cong Albert” Albert Salgado Paloma [ cousin of my Gonzalez-Salgado cousins ] and my great grandaunt, nearly 102 years old “Imang Bets” Beatriz Tiamson Rodriguez [ Rodriguez first cousin of my paternal great grandmother Florencia Rodriguez Sioco-Gonzalez, o 1860 - + 1925 ], both living in San Fernando, Pampanga…
Cong Albert was in great spirits despite his kidney ailment. His kidney treatment actually allowed him to eat anything, so we shared a luxurious “Bacalao ala Vizcaina” and a decadent “Lamb Shank Caldereta,” both unforgettably delicious. Bishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas in Dagupan, a good friend and client of his, had just sent him a bag of king prawns, so he was thinking of making a nice “Sinigang”…
Illness had barely dampened Cong Albert’s spirits and he was his usual acerb, comic self. We talked about the latest goings-on of our relatives and friends and as always, it made for very interesting conversation.
Dear ol’ Imang Bets was seated upright on her bed, propped up on several pillows. There was a lunchtime variety show on the TV, but she was looking blankly into space, muttering prayers. I introduced myself, greeted her, and she took both my hands and kissed them. But she could no longer recognize me. It was alright, it was enough that I was with her. There were some dark marks on her arms and legs; Her assistant Charing explained that she got them during a bad fall some months ago and they had not recovered [ but what can one expect at + 100 years old? ]. Imang Bets told me that “Apung Misericordia” was in the house with her [ an antique wooden image of the Crucified Christ that was the center of Rodriguez family devotion for generations ]. She kept repeating a prayer that sounded like “Dear Jesus, forgive us our sins…” Charing apologized that there was no big “ensaimada” nor my favorite “mamon tostado” in stock, which they usually served for “merienda” during my visits. But it was enough, it was really enough, that I was there with dearest Imang Bets for a while.
Cong Albert and Imang Bets. Two people who make my world rock. 45 years have taught me not to take anyone or anything for granted. Because one day…
In the late afternoon, I stayed in the family burial ground for over an hour, seated on a prewar, precast bench, looking with deep affection at the gravestones and remembering all the people I had loved, and lost, to something we all call “eternity” which is something none of us fully understand…
“Could you be at the ROMUALDEZ house in Pandacan tomorrow 9am? We need your advice.”
TXT msg from Cindy R.V., +63917…, 08.15am
“OK. Anything for you, dear.”
TXT msg from Toto G., +63915…, 08.16am
30 January 2011, Friday, 09:45 a.m.
Pandacan, seemingly exotic as it sounds, is not difficult to get to. From Makati, you go through Osmena highway [ former South Superhighway ], right to President Quirino avenue, and turn right just before Nagtahan bridge [ just 20 minutes from Makati CBD with moderate traffic ]; from Quezon city and Manila you simply take Arsenio H. Lacson [ former Governor Forbes ] to Nagtahan bridge and then turn left immediately. You will pass the “Caritas” Manila office on your right. After crossing the little bridge, you will see the now white-painted, stately Romualdez residence on your right. You have arrived.
I hardly recognized the white-painted house when I came upon it. I was used to its unpainted, almost unkempt look during the post-EDSA revolution years, when the Marcos and the Romualdez families were unfashionable and the Aquino and the Cojuangco had replaced them in what most Filipinos thought was karmic tit-for-tat.
Mandoy’s daughter Eliza, an archaeologist by profession, had long been working on the structure.
Poling’s daughter Cindy and her daughter Naynay had brought in the popular and dynamic Pastor Ed, who so kindly and generously agreed to assist the family in preparing the house. Cindy’s sister Raqui and sister-in-law Evelyn were also there.
And then, 45 minutes after I came, the Beautiful One finally arrived at 10:30 a.m.. She glided effortlessly up the “escalera principal” principal stairway amid a flurry of staff and security men.
The Romualdezes had long been residents of — in fact, practically natives if you will — of Pandacan, an “arrabal” district of Manila. The Romualdez progenitor, the Sangley trader Pei Ling Po and his wife Victoria de los Angeles settled there. Their descendant, the Chinese mestizo Daniel Romualdez was a “cabeza de barangay” of the place. He married the beautiful Spanish mestiza Trinidad Lopez y Crisostomo of Tolosa, Leyte and they had three sons: Norberto, Miguel, and Vicente Orestes. Daniel met Trinidad when her silversmith father, Fray Francisco Lopez OFM, was assigned as “cura parroco” parish priest of Pandacan from his previous post in Basey, Samar.
Norberto first married Mariquita Marquez; after she passed away, he married Beatriz Buz. Norberto became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Miguel married Brigida Zialcita and he became Mayor of Manila. Vicente Orestes first married Juanita Acereda; after she passed away, he married the quietly beautiful “interna” Remedios Trinidad of Baliuag, Bulacan and Capiz province. Vicente Orestes Romualdez and Remedios Trinidad were the parents of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.
The present Romualdez “bahay-na-bato” ancestral home in Pandacan was not built by the Romualdez nor by the Lopez. It was built sometime in the early 1900s by a de Jesus gentleman who was married to a Legarda y Roces lady. To this day, the intertwined initials J, L, and R are still found in some of the carved panels on the exterior of the house. De Jesus was an inveterate gambler and philanderer who lost everything; he mortgaged his house to the bank and forthwith lost it. Col. Jacobo Zobel rushed to his good friend Manila Mayor Miguel Romualdez and told him what a good deal the forfeited de Jesus-Legarda y Roces house in Pandacan was. Miguel purchased it from the bank and it became his residence for life.
As it was nearing lunchtime…
“Naku, mga Romualdez yan, mahilig sa pagkain ang mga iyan!” Madame snapped.
“Maniwala ka Toto, noon, sinama ko silang lahat sa bapor mula Manila papuntang Leyte. Nagbaon kami ng mga hamon. Akalain mo, pagdating namin sa Leyte, ubos ang lahat ng hamon!” recalled Madame.
“Eh di para ho kayong si ‘Mrs. Payme’ sa ‘Dance-O-Rama’ na naghanap ng nawawalang hamon sa mga boarders niya?” I rejoined jokingly. Those at the table who remembered “Dance-O-Rama” laughed.
She smiled beatifically. I didn’t know if Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos ever watched Susan Roces’ hilarious “Dance-O-Rama”… the way most of our “Martial Law Babies” generation did…
05 January 2011, Thursday, 5:00 p.m.
Madame had hung a framed, large photograph of her ancestor, Fray Francisco Lopez OFM, above the Louis XV-style sofa in the sala. He was a handsome, albeit chubby man. Raqui, Eliza, Marivic, and I looked at it and tried to place the face… his descendants concurred that his face was “so Romualdez”…
“Looks like my brother… “ Raqui thought.
“Looks like Alfred…”
“Uhm, looks like Martin…” I opined.
“See? He thinks he looks like Martin!”
Marivic turned to Eliza… “Didn’t Daniel look like that when he was a boy? He was cute and chubby…”
“You should see Daniel now… he’s slim and he’s got abs!” Eliza recalled.
“Gee, can you imagine what Daniel could do with this house???!!!”
Tita Lulu arrived, the last of the loyal Blue Ladies, looking fresh and rested…
“Ma’am, namatay ho si Tito Pabling…” I informed Madame.
“Ay, kamamatay lang ng kapatid ko, at ng pamangkin ko…” Madame responded, then turning to Tita Lulu… “Namatay daw si Pabling! Kumusta na si Loleng?”
“Oo, kahapon ng alas kuwatro… Nasa ‘Heritage’… “ Tita Lulu replied.