Brownie Booboo

This is an absolutely hilarious story from the august annals of one of Manila’s most venerable Spanish and Chinese mestizo families…  It happened in the late 1960s, but it is a truly modern classic…

“Tita” [ as in “Auntie” ] was leaving for New York City to visit with her relatives.

“Tita’s” several naughty teenage nephews and nieces learned of her trip and decided that they wanted to send something very special and very nice to their teenage cousins in New York.

So the teenagers lovingly baked several brownies.  With lots of American “Hershey’s” Chocolate, mind you [ it was the 1960s and you couldn’t get French “Valrhona” yet 😛 ].  Also with plenty of chewy cashew nuts [ more readily available than the standard American walnuts and almonds ].  And in the true tradition of 1960s love & peace, they lovingly added generous, heaping tablespoons of crushed marijuana leaves to them to make them even more deliriously delicious.

And thus, the delicious brownies were ready for their trans-Pacific trip…

Amidst “besos y abrazos” [ kisses and embraces ] from the entire clan, “Tita” left for the United States at the MIA Manila International Airport.  And because she knew that the brownies had been specially baked by her nephews and nieces for their cousins, she lovingly handcarried them, all eight delicious boxes of them.

The final flight to New York was not full, so “Tita” was able to put the eight boxes of brownies on the window seat beside her aisle seat.  The beguiling aroma of the brownies wafted to “Tita’s” nostrils, and she was just so tempted to have a little bite, but she remembered her nephews and nieces who would be so very happy to receive their brownies from their Manila cousins…

Just an hour away from New York, the beguiling aroma continued wafting to “Tita’s” nostrils, and she finally relented to her big urge to have one teensy-weensy bite of the brownies…

She opened one box, took one slice, and ate it.  It was really delicious!!!  “Tita” wondered where the nephews and nieces had gotten that wonderful recipe!!!

And because “Tita” was a very proper lady, she cordially offered all her co-passengers in first class her delicious brownies…

… She also offered all the stewardesses and the pursers in the cabin.  She generously gave half a box for one stewardess to bring to the captain in the cockpit…

But just a few minutes later, “Tita” felt dizzy.  Very dizzy.  And so did the other passengers in first class.  And so were the stewardesses and the pursers…

They were all “high” from the marijuana brownies…


Poor “Tita”!!!  Upon arrival at the John F. Kennedy Airport, she was taken by the airport police and subjected to a full body search for… drugs!!!  Poor woman, even her “rear” was not spared!!!

When word got to Manila about what happened to “pobrecita” “Tita,” her several naughty nephews and nieces made a big show to their parents of being very worried about her, but among themselves they just laughed, laughed, and laughed endlessly!!!

Poor “Tita”!!!


There are two sides to this tale:  one side of the clan insists that “Tita” was really taken for a ride by her drugged-out nephews and nieces.

But the other side of the clan insists that “Tita” was really “into it” [ substance abuse ] and that she really had it coming…   😛

Whatever “Tita” was, her “Brownie Booboo” is one great story!!!  Bwahahahahah!!!   😛   😛   😛

Opium Bed

Many, many, many moons ago, during the zenith of the Marcos era [ late 1970s – early 1980s ], the height of fashion in interior decoration among fashionable Manilans was a Chinese opium bed in the living room…

Everybody who was somebody who was anybody who was not just anybody who was really somebody who was not really everybody just had to have one…

Alas, the opium bed was, despite its exotic and seductive looks, not a safe place for sex.  Specially great sex!!!  There were several stories of those ornate beds collapsing with their gilded, lacquered, painted, porcelain-encrusted panels during the earthshaking sex of sex-starved “senoras” [ hooow “Desperate Housewives”… ] and their paramours [ not dancing instructors, it was not the Ramos era ballroom dancing craze yet 😛 ] and of gay couturiers and their lovers [ hooow “Queer as Folk”… ].  *lolsz!*

Poor opium bed.  Now it is the height of unfashionable.  Along with everything one ever bought in the 1980s conspicuous consumption style:  Taiwan plastic chandeliers [ fake “Strass” / fake “Swarovski” ], Egyptian and Moroccan “Louis Louis” reproductions [ with authentic woodborers “bukbok” ], Indonesian Georgian reproductions, reproduction Chinese furniture, Vietnamese mother-of-pearl furniture, bad Filipino furniture reproductions, reproduction “santos” and “relleves,” fake cobalt blue “Sevres” vases, fake “Capo di Monte,” synthetic Belgian rugs, rayon damask curtains, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!!!  Bwahahahah!!!

[ Well, I am from the 1980s, with my Reaganomics psyche [ “the bigger the better!!!” ] and my theatrical sense of decoration [ sooooo “Bonfire of the Vanities” ], so I consider myself unfashionable.  Not that I care.   😛 ]

Pity the opium bed.  It simply doesn’t go with the current midcentury chic, not with all of Manila’s faux Ruhlmanns, faux Rateaus, faux Leleus, faux Grays, faux Dunands, faux Brandts, faux Coards, faux Deskeys, faux Mies van der Rohes, faux Eames, faux innumerable other things.  In short, faux everything [ as it always was in this good ol’ Third World city 😛 ].

Opium beds, antique and otherwise, are now the chic garage accessory, unfashionable and unappreciated.

Anybody wanna inhale and exhale???   😛   😛   😛

What happened???

There was a time when to be a Spanish mestizo Filipino was to be the height of everything:  The height of wealth, elegance, education, manners, lineage, and good looks…

What happened???!!!

In my best recollection, something happened in the 1980s…  slowly but surely, the Chinese mestizo Filipino became the height of everything:  the height of wealth, elegance, education, manners, lineage [ from Fujian, China ], and yes, even good looks.

The world does go round…   😛   😛   😛

Joyous Ride

15 May 2007, Tuesday, Feast of “San Isidro Labrador,” the “Pahiyas” “fiesta” of Lucban, Quezon.  Also the “Pahiyas” / “Pa – Agaw” “fiesta” of Sariaya, Quezon.

And so some aunts of mine and their relatives decided to meet at 5:30 a.m. in Makati for the long road trip to Sariaya town in Quezon.  We were expected for a heavy breakfast at one of their relatives’ houses there.

We rode in one big van.  All the ladies were very rich and very well-connected.  They were all either relatives, “comadres,” friends “amigas,” neighbors [ Forbes, Fort { Essensa, Pacific Plaza }, Dasmarinas, Urdaneta, Corinthian, Greenhills ] onetime classmates [ Assumption Convent, Saint Scholastica’s ], “mah-jong” players, clubmates [ Manila Golf, Manila Polo, the chichi CWC Catholic Women’s Club, etc. ], and dancing friends of all the women and men in the current political scene…    

15 May 2007, Tuesday.  The Day after the Nationwide 14 May 2007 Elections.  And it was precisely because it was the day after the elections that our “fiesta” started in the van long before we ever arrived at the “fiesta” in Sariaya town…

“Please pass the pistachios…” 

“Who’s winning???”

“C*iz.  That Esc*dero fellow.”

“Are they related to the Esc*deros of San Pablo???”

“No, they’re from Sorsogon.  Distant relatives.  Richrichrich.  Remember that Son*y was a Marcos man.”

“Please pass the dried fruit…”

“She’s making quite a comeback.”

“Why did her marriage fail???  It’s such a surprise…  Isn’t she an exemplary woman???”

“She’s no ‘Immaculate Conception.’  She’s ‘used merchandise.’  He’s ‘used merchandise.’ They’re both ‘used merchandise’!!!”

“It failed because She was making too sure about her inheritance of his properties along with her sons.  His daughters told me so.  They’re so happy she’s gone.”

“Well, She can always have another affair…”

“And another ‘overhaul’…”

“Wasn’t She your classmate at As*umption???”

“Yes.  Ambitious, even then.”

“Exactly what kind of ******* is She???”

“Not a ******* as in Tuason-*******-Prieto-Valdes…”

“She’s Sampaloc, not *******.”

“Now, why-on-earth was He indicted for murder???”

“Oh, one of those things.”

“Please pass the candy…”

“You know, I told Everyone to vote for P*chay!!!  ‘Itanim si P*chay sa Senado.’  He seems good.  And he spent the most among the contenders!!!”

“I didn’t vote for him.  He’s… dark.”

“Hah???  Didn’t you know that he’s the front of Mark J*menez???  That’s why he could spend those hundreds of millions.  That backer of his could afford it!!!”

“That’s another dark guy…  Tall, dark, and handsome not!!!”

“I was just with Mark’s wife C*rol yesterday.  She’s really convinced he’s gone bonkers…  Bible and All!!!  I told her it was OK, as long as The Money isn’t bonkers!!!”

“I can certainly tell you that his pocket is very handsome!!!”  *lolsz!*

“Hah???!!!  I didn’t know that!!!  OhmyGod!!!  I wish I didn’t tell Everyone to vote for him!!!”

“Not researching…!!!”

“Please pass the chocolates…”

“Has the priest won in Pampanga???”

“We don’t know yet.”

“He’s got ‘spots.’  Vitiligo.”

“The better for ‘j*eteng agentes’ to spot him.  Bwihihi.”

“He’s an interloper.  The arrangements had all been made.  At the Palace.  The boy will win.  But The “J*eteng Lord” will rule.  That’s just how it is.  Gl*ria has her political debts, you know.”

“Huh???  But there will be a revolution in Pampanga if the priest will not win!!!  All my Pampango friends say so!!!”

“Support came from Everywhere…”

“You know, ***** gave one million pesos… secretly.  People don’t know his family is Pampango.  From Apalit, actually.”

“Actually, the Pampanga situation has many layers.  It’s not just the priest, the j*eteng lady, and the actor’s son.  Far more people are involved pulling all sorts of levers.  It’s really a War of the Titans, because the people secretly backing the priest are just as powerful as the people in power.  Quiet people, but very, very, very rich people.  Money Talks.” 

“Gl*ria probably doesn’t know or pretends not to know…  some of her own people are thwarting her…”

“Wasn’t She your classmate at As*umption???”

“Yes.  Even then she was a ‘know-it-all.'”

“Miniwati…”  [ opposite of “Megawati” ]

“Please pass the egg tarts…”

“Oh my dear, will you tell that “Negrito” friend of yours to stop overreacting???  That episode with the “Kampi” t-shirt.  Too much!!!  O.A.!!!”

“At least he won.”

“At least God compensates The Ugly.”

“Baluga…”  [ “Negroid…” ]

“One floor in every building being constructed…  Not bad.  He will own more office space than the Zob*ls.  That nignog is really lucky!!!”     

“Being Ugly must be good ‘feng shui.’  Bwihihi!!!”

“His Equally Ugly Wife is in trouble.  All that furniture at the City Hall.  She can actually land in jail.  Technically… which means it won’t happen.  That’s what she told us over mah-jong last week.”

“Feissima…”  [ “Very Ugly…” ]

“Not a chance!!!  All their connections???!!!”

“What if they’re used as an example of ‘corrupt officials’???”

“She can always get another facelift, breastlift, armlift, stomachlift, whathave you…”  *lolsz!*

“Not even ‘The Last Judgment’ can do anything to her looks.”

“The Ugly… They really give it their All!!!”  

“Please pass the “C2″… “Green Tea” please…”

Yakkity yakkity yakkity yak…

Yakkity yakkity yakkity yak…

Yakkity yakkity yakkity yak…

By the time We had reached Sariaya town, I already had a complete Insider’s Lowdown on the Philippine political scene… from Aparri to Jolo!!!


Maid of Honor

A dear cousin invited me to come over to her home one afternoon so we could discuss some business prospects.  She lives in a beautiful and commodious house filled with fine art and rare antiques in the city’s poshest enclave.    

The housekeeper opened the imposing front door and greeted me:  “Gud aptirnun, Suhr Toto.  Maupu pu kayu sa sala o sa lanai.  Hindi pa pu dumating si Sinyura.  Nag-lans pu sila ng mga kaibigan niya sa Siyangri-La.  Piru darating na pu iyun.  Sinabi nga niya pu na darating kayu at nagpapahanda ng maraming miryinda.”  [ “Good afternoon, Sir Toto.  Please have a seat in the living room or in the lanai.  Ma’am hasn’t arrived yet.  She had lunch with friends at the Shangri-La.  She informed us that you would be arriving and to prepare many items for afternoon tea.” ]

“Salamat.  Sige ako na ang bahala sa sarili ko.”  [ “Thank you.  I’ll take care of myself.” ]

I went through the entrance hall.

The living room.

The lanai. 

So I sat in the lanai.

Just then, a surprising vision in white appeared.  I thought it was my cousin on her way to some wedding…

The gown was sooooo Vera Wang.  Or In*o Sot*o.  Or whathaveyou.

It was The Maid.  One of the many in my cousin’s house.  Bringing “merienda” on a large sterling silver tray.

Dressed in a flowing white gown of the most flammable satin imaginable…

“Ang ganda mo naman!!!”  I exclaimed.  [ “You look beautiful!!!” ]

“Ay Suhr!!!  *giggles*  Pasinsya ka na!!!  Sinusukat ku lang itung gaon.  Ikakasal kasi yung kapatid ku sa Argao sa Sibu sa susunud na linggu.  Aku Mid up Unur!!!”  [ “Oh Sir!!!  *giggles*  Apologies!!!  I’m just fitting this gown.  My sister will be married in Argao, Cebu next week.  I am the Maid of Honor!!!” ]

I tried my darndest to break out laughing.  I bit my lip.  I took a deep breath and composed myself.

“Maganda… yung gown mo!!!”  I complimented her.  [ “Your gown… is nice!!!” ]

“Ay, si Suhr naman!!!  Tink yu!!!”  *pleased as a plum*  [ “Oh, Sir is so kind!!!  Thank you!!!” ]

“Ikaw ba nag-design niyan?”  I asked.  [ “Did you design that?” ]

“Ay Suhr, hindi!!!  Sa tutuu lang, kinupya ku itong gaon dun sa magasin na hindi binabasa ni Sinyura, yung ‘Pilipin Tatlihr.’  Disain ni Inu Sutu.  Siguru susyal siya.  Kasi si Sinyura at si Sinyurita maraming gaon ni Inu Sutu.  Siguru ubud ng mahal.  Ayaw palabhan sa amin.  Pina da drai klin dun sa Pininsula Hutil, sabi ni Bertung drayber pinauusukan daw dun…”  [ “Oh Sir, No!!!  To tell you the truth, I copied this gown from the magazine that Ma’am does not read, “The Philip*ine Tatl*r.”  Designed by In*o Sot*o.  He must be famous.  Because Ma’am and her daughter have many gowns by In*o Sot*o.  Probably very expensive.  They don’t want us to launder them.  They are sent for dry cleaning to the Peninsula Hotel, Berto the driver says that they ‘smoke’ them there…” ] 

Oh, OK.  This maid from Argao, Cebu.  As dark as a Negress.   Copied a gown she saw in “The Philip*ine Tatl*r” magazine which goes unread by the lady of the house.  By In*o Sot*o, no less!!!  My, this farm girl has inherent style.  The gall… Even Diana Vreeland would have been amused!!!   😛   😛   😛   

I could barely contain myself… this was way too funny!!!

A car had arrived.   

“Bikbik!!!  Nandiyan na si Sinyura!!!  Magbihis ka na!!!”  called the housekeeper frantically.  [ “Bikbik!!!  Ma’am has arrived!!!  You better change into your uniform!!!” ]

“Bikbik” scurried away.  So elegantly in her “Inu Sutu” gown…

My dear cousin entered and saw me convulsed with laughter, beet red.

“Hi!!!  What’s so funny???”  she asked.

“My dear, that maid of yours… has incredible style!!!”

“Who???  Ah… Bikbik???  She’s really like that.”  *rolls eyes*  “Her Big Fantasy is to be K*is Aq*ino and Gretch*n Barret*o… Combined!!!”

Maid of Honor.  In All Ways!!!


Joining the Joint

From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, Substance Abuse was the In Thing.  From posh Forbes Park to penurious Governor Forbes; from polite New Manila to plebeian Marikina.  Martial Law or no Martial Law.

The daughter of a former President of the Republic was so exasperated with her drugged-out sons that she took to smoking “joints” herself.

Word reached her “amigas” [ friends ].  Horrified, they confronted Her during their afternoon “mahjong” game… 

She retorted in the “hippest” way [ in her Anglicized Spanish / Hispanized English ]:  “Hhheeeyyy… If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!!!”

Hahahahahah!!!   😛   😛   😛