A dinner in Old San Miguel District

Yesterday evening, I found this journal entry of 30 May 2000, Tuesday, 1400 hours:

“”I had a marvelous evening last night.  Joey [ Panlilio ] hosted a birthday dinner for Cora Alvina at Suzette Legarda Montinola’s ‘La Cocina de Tita Moning’ in the PreWar Legarda-Hernandez residence at # 315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel District, Manila.  Also present were Toti and Dorla Villalon, Gilda Cordero Fernando, Becky [ Quema ] de los Reyes, Ino Manalo [ quite a revelation! ], Boni Pimentel, Boy Villegas, and Sonny Tinio [ surprise, surprise, surprise!!! ].  It was a lovely, lovely dinner…”

“I was the last to arrive at 7:45 p.m..  The house had so much atmosphere — ‘Stimmung’!!!  As Joey mentioned beforehand, it reminded me very much of our own family home in Quezon City:  imposing architecture, a nice garden, lights all around.  One entered through a porte-cochere  to a foyer with a stairway, a clinic on the left and a library to the right.  On the second floor, a small vestibule with an imposing Venetian mirror led to the ‘Sala’ [ living room ] on the left and to the ‘Comedor’ [ dining room ]on the right.”

“The square ‘Sala’ was painted a light blue-green, a very European, nay very English color.  An imposing Spanish chandelier hung from the ceiling.  On the main wall, opposite the windows, hung a large painting by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo [ !!! ] of a  lovely young woman [ in what looked like night clothes ] dated 1901.  Gorgeous!!!  On a wall adjacent to the window was a folder-size painting by Juan Luna [ !!! ] of a lady in a black dress.  She seemed to be scratching her back while the young lady [ of Hidalgo ] did not seem to have taken a bath yet.  When I mentioned this irreverently to Sonny Tinio, he gave me a ten-ton glare — so typical of him!!!”

“The ‘Comedor’ had a long dining table with Art Deco-style Puyat dining chairs.  There were two round tables on one side, one of them marble-topped.  There were three cabinets:  one contained silverware, another one contained silver and porcelain [ remarkable was a Meissen covered dish with a putto on the lid, its arm broken ], and a third contained only crystal.  Beautiful Meissen plates in dark blue and gold with flowers from the ancestral porcelain service of the Tuason-Legarda-Prieto-Valdes Clan hung on the walls.  The table was elegantly set with PreWar Heacock chinaware, Art Deco-style sterling silver flatware,  and 1930s green American glassware, all on an exquisite tablecloth of tatting lace, laden with fresh flowers.”

“The menu consisted of Pumpkin Soup, Baked Lapu-Lapu with an Avocado Salad, homemade Mango Sherbet, ‘Lengua en Salsa Blanca,’ ‘Arroz ala Valenciana,’ Mixed Greens Salad, Cheese and Fruit platter, the justly famous Bread Pudding of ‘Tita Moning,’ to coffee, tea, and candy.  It was a delicious meal with all the flavors, scents, and nuances of home…”

“Conversation was lively, what with the utterly fascinating group.  Sometimes funny, sometimes bitchy, but always fascinating…!!!””



  1. KJB said,

    July 8, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Ino is one of my dearest friends.

  2. June 5, 2008 at 4:31 am



    A book? I’m sure it will be a bestseller. Millions and millions of Filipina women can only dream about the fabulous life she has.

    Obviously, You know what to do!!!

    Really, I wouldn’t know what to do if I was her. I imagine it must be a fabulous but difficult life. 😐

    Toto Gonzalez

  3. Babe Paley said,

    June 5, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Toto dahling,

    Maybe you should get a firsthand copy of Gr*tchen Barret*o’s book and see what kind of dirt she’s dishing? I’m wondering why she can’t just shut up, lie back and enjoy all that fabulous PLDT money, honey? 😀

    Book schmook! If I were her, I would just stock my great houses in Paris and the Provencal countryside with gorgeous stuff… and record some albums ala Sarah Brightman and use it as a ringtone on all those cellphones… then afterwards, I’d fill my maw with delicious food from “La Cocina de Tita Moning” all the way down to the “cocina” of some well-stocked Godforsaken town… What would you do, Toto? “WWTD”? <— “What Would Toto Do”?


    The Dalai Lama’s Couturier

  4. April 27, 2008 at 10:54 am


    Ahahahah!!! So wonderful to see you here!!! *hugs*

    Yesterday was great, wasn’t it??? I had too much fun with all of you!!! It was an absolute pleasure to be with you ladies!!! Every smile, every laugh and giggle, every shriek of delight, every compliment, every gesture of appreciation really made my day because I was so happy that you all appreciated — so much like the way I do — my home province of Pampanga. It was a wonderful way to share with all of you the treasures I have been enjoying all my life.

    I still have a “high” from the sheer happiness of it all and I am [ so ] looking forward to our next trip!!! I do it for free because it’s such a fun way of raising money for charity [ besides, no one could possibly afford the very expensive Toto Gonzalez 😛 ]. Tita Nening Manahan and Cousin Jackie Cancio-Vega are already planning the next jaunt…

    Keep in touch, Gina!!! 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  5. the Dalai Lama said,

    April 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Dear Tour Guide to the Stars, Toto-related-to-everyone Toto:

    Had the most marvellous time with you and the tour group on the Orient Express to Pampanga! It was like a dream: the “redundant” endless meriendas, the great old houses, the pecadilloes picked up on your mic, and those glorious old churches, charming architectural details and “Vogue” worthy interior decorating! I haven’t had such fun in a long while without substance abuse ( I now count “Nathaniel’s” good “buko pandan” and Lola Beatriz Rodriguez’s big “ensaimada” among the substances I’ve abused )! I hope you enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed you! It’s nearly 1 am, and I had to write Sr. Lory Mapa who told me all about it, ( an Assumption lady if there ever was one ), about our tour guide extraordinaire, one part Oscar Wilde, Elsie de Wolfe, and “Goldilocks”!

    I hope to make the next one, even if it means flying all the way back here!

    Please keep up the blog, the social butterflying, the lovely sense of humor ( and rumor ) and the funny bon mots!

    Your newest fan,

    Gina Gozum

  6. April 18, 2007 at 10:41 am


    The elders knew about what happened to C*rmita L*garda and Tony Car*eon. It’s only one of several similar dysfunctional “matches” in Manila Society…

    Now, I wouldn’t know about the first legal squabble about inheritance in that family. I was told by the elders that it is a proud tradition of the T*ason-L*garda-Pr*eto-V*ldes Clan that a barrage of intrafamily lawsuits commence after every death in the family. 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  7. zippo said,

    April 18, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Why don’t you write something about the L*gardas? Something juicy….. like the scandal involving K*trina’s parents or the first family inheritance legal squabble…

  8. December 17, 2006 at 5:38 am


    Oh. That.


    Toto Gonzalez

  9. December 17, 2006 at 4:39 am

    Oh! Oh! Hmmmm… I was about to comment about something then I realized the date! Hahahaha! I thought you broke four years of silence 😛

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