Angst Series

This is just an advisory:

Many of you will be surprised as this blog, already popular as a collection of funny anecdotes, will soon feature a series of sad stories.  Stories of angst, pain, resentment, guilt, separation, and all the horrible things that life deals indiscriminately to all of us.

After all, Toto Gonzalez isn’t entirely about the good life.  In fact, he merely uses the good life to diminish, deflect, deny, negate, and even eradicate a life, which he says, is “less than splendid.”

Just like everybody.

Oh, and you are all welcome to share your stories as well.

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Comedy Relief: “Lechon,” 28 June 1988

Speaking of the famous “fiesta” of “Apung Iro” / San Pedro / Saint Peter in Apalit, Pampanga… another funny memory comes to mind…

I have a Delightful Aunt, a first cousin of my father, who is charged by The Espiritu Family with the care of “Apung Iro” and the “fiesta” traditions.  Aside from caring for “Apung Iro” and his Shrine [ an 1870s “bahay-na-bato” bequeathed to Him by the Espiritu heiress who inherited Him from The Patriarch in 1905; it burned down in 2002 but the image of “Apung Iro” was saved ], my aunt has to supervise the feeding of some 10,000 “devotees” of “Apung Iro” during the three day “fiesta.”  The “Caridad” [ Charity ] Tradition from the Spanish Era dictates that Everyone who comes to “Apung Iro’s” house must be fed, so that is how it has always been.

And so, Delightful Aunt is like a headless chicken during the three days of the “fiesta,” as She is besieged by thousands of “devotees” [ actually devotees of food 😛 ] wanting to be fed.  Including Me.  And my friends, of course.

One memorable “Visperas” [ Eve ] of 28 June years ago, The Crowd swelled to unmanageable proportions and Delightful Aunt just had to hide herself because She no longer knew what to do with the Cast of Thousands besieging Her…  In fact, the 1870s house was shaking to the point of collapse…

She told my Good Friend and I not to get Food from the Crowd of Humanity-Infested Buffet laid out on the dining table, because She had Food reserved for The Family Members in, of all places, the masters’ bedroom…

So my Good Friend and I entered the masters’ bedroom where She was waiting for us.  It was mercifully airconditioned and a total relief from the humid, smelly air in the reception rooms of the old house…!!!

But where was The Food???

Delightful Aunt smiled, knelt, and lifted the cotton and lace skirting of the immense antique four poster bed.  With herculean effort, She pulled out a big, low table — actually an antique “dulang,” the low dining table of the ancient Filipinos,  which required one to sit / squat on the floor to eat — and voila!!!  The Whole Fiesta Spread [ “hygienically” concealed below layers of oiled banana leaves ]!!!  And so She handed us plates and cutlery, and told us to help ourselves to the impressive buffet laid out just twelve inches above the floor.

Suddenly, Delightful Aunt stopped in her tracks and exclaimed:  “Ay!  Acalinguan que ytang ‘Lichun’!!!  Maniaman iya ytang ‘Lichun’!!!  ‘Native’ yng babi!!!  Saguli mu…” [ in Tagalog:  “Ay!  Nakalimutan ko iyong ‘Lechon’!!!  Masarap yung ‘Lechon’!!!  Native!!!  Sandali lang…”  / in English:  “Oh!  I forgot the Roast Pig!!!  The Roast Pig is delicious!!!  It’s a native pig!!!  Just a minute…” ]

Delightful Aunt walked over to the tall and splendid 1870s “narra” “aparador” [ armoire ] of a long-decomposed grandaunt [ “Impung Pinang”:  Dona Crispina Tanjutco y Sioco, + 1918 ] and opened it to reveal an entire “Lechon” on the top shelf.  *LOLSZ!!!*

Now, How’s that for “Fiesta Style”???!!!

Even Manila’s best Spanish Restaurants do not serve “Cochinillo en el Armario”!!!  [ Roast Pig in an Armoire ]

Bwahahahahah!!!   😛   😛   😛

Catcalls

June 28, 29, and 30 of every year is the famous “fiesta” of “Apung Iro” / San Pedro / Saint Peter in Apalit, Pampanga.

As always during the “Visperas,” I was there with a small group of relatives and friends and we visited every single family which invited us.  That meant eating in every single house that we visited, which wasn’t a bad deal at all, because the tables of all Apalitenos, humble or prosperous, all have good food.

It brought back a funny memory…

In one of those “fiestas,” my group included a good friend — a particularly pedigreed, affluent, elegant, gracious, and witty gentleman with impeccable taste in Everything — who just happened to be gay.  He spoke with a fashionable contralto and had the poise of a Parisian princess in a Cristobal Balenciaga gown.  Indeed, we friends referred to him as “The Duchess of Windsor.”    

In one prosperous house that we visited, a six year old boy, clad in a tank top, shorts, and slippers, came up to us, pointed to him repeatedly, and squealed excitedly:  “Bakla!!!  Bakla!!!  Bakla!!!”  [ “Fag!!!  Fag!!!  Fag!!!” ]

Good Friend looked at him askance and lifted one eyebrow.  Then He continued fanning himself [ most elegantly ] with his antique ivory Spanish fan and chatting graciously with the other guests.

The little boy kept up his politically-incorrect catcalls:  “Bakla!!!  Bakla!!!  Bakla!!!”

Good Friend breathed deeply and glared at the little boy briefly.  He resumed fanning himself and chatting.

As we were leaving, the little boy squealed even more at Good Friend:  “Bakla!!!  Bakla!!!  Bakla!!!” 

Good Friend decided to give “as good as it gets” and with his arms akimbo, squealed back at the little boy:  “CHE!!!  BAKLA KA RIN PAGLAKI MO!!!”  [ “SHUSH!!!  YOU’LL BE A FAG TOO WHEN YOU GROW UP!!! ]

The little boy was shocked and cried out loud, loud, loud!!!

Everybody Laughed.

Bwahahahahah!!!

Couturier

When The Ladies of Manila want to look unbelievably unlike themselves…  

Who are they going to call???

Their Couturiers.

The Messiah

No, this is not about Jesus Christ.  Although it is about Someone who aspires to be Jesus Christ.  It is about a Man whose enormous wealth has literally given him Power over Life And Death.  At least, Politically.  In Manila.

“To Go”

It is difficult to understand what it is in Filipino Culture that places a premium on having something to take home after a gathering.

Often, it becomes ridiculous.

I remember the extremely funny story of a cousin of cousins from the 1970s.  She recalled that their entire clan had gathered for their matriarch’s birthday lunch at the newly-opened and extremely fashionable “Sun Tung Lok” Chinese Restaurant along Pasay Road in Makati [ now Arnaiz Avenue in Makati City ].  It was actually a branch of the famed “Sun Tung Lok” Chinese Restaurant in Hong Kong, and given the straightjacketed zeitgeist of the Marcos Years,  it was absolutely the “chic of the week.”

The birthday lunch had finished at about 3:00 p.m..  The entire clan had gathered at the entrance of the restaurant, under the marquee, waiting for their cars to drive up.

A couple of waiters came out of the restaurant, looking quizzically at the group.  Some people overheard them saying “Peking Duck, Peking Duck…”

Amidst all the chatting, the traditionally lengthy Filipino goodbyes, and the “beso-beso” kisses and embraces… Someone’s big handbag [ fashionable at the time ] gave way and a big Chinese oval porcelain platter slid to the Beijing carpet at the restaurant entrance!!!

A “Peking Duck” platter!!!  *LOLSZ!*

At that very moment, Everyone parted like The Red Sea, leaving a shocked and hapless, but fashionably-dressed, made-up, and coiffed Aunt at the center of the carpet murmuring “Ay!  Ay!  Ay!  Nahulog…  Ay!  Ay!  Ay!”  [ “Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  It Fell…  Oh!  Oh!  Oh” ]

Everybody avoided Aunt like a contagious disease!!!

Absolutely Embarrassing, wasn’t it???!!!  *LOLSZ!*

Oh, there’s more…

  

      

  

Cutting the Deal

This is a good story on the inside workings of the Filipino Real Estate Industry, seen from the eyes of an influential industry player…

It is, like Everything Else, really a Game of Hard Ball…

And there were the endless meetings with The Family…

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And there were the endless meetings with The Politicians…

“Good morning, Mayor.”

“Good morning, Ma’am, Sir.  Please have a seat.”

“How many families do you have, Mayor???”  She asked coolly. 

The Mayor nearly fell off his chair.

“Ma’am, that question is uncalled for.”  The Mayor replied, still trying to be charming.

“Not at all.  Very basic actually.  We want to know because that is the number of people you have to support… in style.”

The Mayor paused.  Then he answered:  “If you must know, I have left my wife but I continue to support her.  We have eight children:  four are married and I want to set up businesses for them.  I also have sixteen other children from other relationships.  Satisfied???” 

“Let’s get down to business, Mayor.  How much [ commission ] do you want???”  She asked frankly.

“I want Php 40.00 per square meter of The Development.” The Mayor answered squarely.

“Php 40.00 per square meter.  The Development is 1,000 hectares.  One hectare is 10,000 square meters.  1,000 hectares is 10,000,000 square meters.  You are asking for Php 400 million.  Impossible.”  She glared at him.

“Well, No Pay, No Signature, No Permit.  Simple as that!!!”  The Mayor declared.  “Think it over, Ma’am, Sir…  I am offering you a fair deal.  Your company will make a great deal of money, much more than Php 400 million, from this development.”

The minute They had left the Mayor’s Office, They called their investigators and tasked them to dig up Everything they could about The Mayor.

The minute They had left His Office, He called his goons and tasked them to follow The Team Everywhere They went in town, and to find out Everything they could about The Team.     

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And there were the endless meetings with The Insurgents… 

As Good as it Gets [ Manila version ]

For three weeks now, Manila has been reeling with Eminence Gris’ latest capers…

After his American incarceration, He took up with a lissome Colombian beauty, who reminded Him of his Pretty Wife 25 years ago…

Pretty Wife became resentful and filed for a legal separation… and even worse, for a separation of properties, which in Eminence Gris’ situation is a cruise ship full of Assets.

Pretty Wife was arrested by “anti-drug enforcers” on her way to her lawyers, the ROBOCOP Law Office.  Actually, it was a kidnap operation.

“Hindi ako Drug Addict!!!  Hindi ako Drug Addict!!!”  she screamed  [ “I am not a Drug Addict!!!  I am not a Drug Addict!!!” ].

The “anti-drug enforcers” pressed her down and injected her with, what else, a drug:  “Pwes!!!  Drug Addict ka na ngayon!!!”  [ “Well!!!  You are now!!!” ]

She screamed insistently:  “Hindi nga ako Drug Addict…  Shopping Addict ako!!!  Shopaholic ako!!!”  [ “I told you I am not a Drug Addict…  I’m a Shopping Addict!!!  I’m a Shopaholic!!!” ]  as she repeatedly hit her abductors with her Hermes Birkin.  She threw Everything She could at her captors:  her Hermes Birkin, her Vuitton NeverFull, her Louboutin heels, her BlackBerry, her cellphones.  She wanted to mow them down with her SUV but She realized that they were in it as well. 

*LOLSZ!!!* 

Drugged-Out Pretty Wife awoke to find herself at a Drug Rehabilitation Center!!!  But Her Biggest Problems were her make-up, hair, clothes, shoes, and bags!!!  What would She do without her “La Mer The Essence,” her Shue Uemura and Mac, her Kerastase, her Zac Posens and her Monique Lhuilliers, her John Gallianos and Alexander McQueens, her Viviers, Louboutins, Choos, and Blahniks, her Hermes and Vuittons???  How could She survive without her stylist, personal shopper, hairdresser, make-up artist, and masseuse???  It was worse than waking up with her husband Eminence Gris in bed!!!      

Pretty Wife’s topnotch lawyers found a way to forcibly extricate her from the drug rehabilitation center the old-fashioned Filipino Way:  by sending Everyone in the facility for a vacation.  The Rescue was as fantastic and thrilling as a testosterone-laden Martin Scorsese film!!!

Pretty Wife immediately sued her husband Eminence Gris for Kidnaping.

Eminence Gris retaliated by suing his Pretty Wife for Estafa, for the sale of their palatial home for what he insists was way below the going market price.

Pretty Wife proceeded with her cases for the separation of properties…

Eminence Gris sued Pretty Wife and her Bestest Friend, a banking executive.  He plans to sue Everyone in that Circle.

Eminence Gris plans to sue his Own Whole Family as well.

This is way better than Fiction and even Reality TV!!!

This is… As Good as it Gets!!!   😀   😀   😀

Food Chain

All Pampangos in the Food Business are connected in one way or the other — that is, if they’re not related outright…

Emeralds

The Big Blab around town was Grand Manila Heiress’ 86th Birthday Celebration.  And the Bigger Blab was about her spectacular [ at least to the wags 😛 ] chandelier earrings of emeralds supposedly from Bulgari, the famed Italian jewelers.  They set off a face expertly bulldozed of wrinkles and sags.

All That Jazz reminded me of the story of another Grande Dame, The Dowager Empress, also known as Our Lady of Flowers and Fluffs in the fashion world, and her numerous emeralds, faceted and cabochon…

Years ago, at yet another lunch of the Friends of Chichi Concerns of the Philippines, an artist friend remarked to The Dowager Empress a.k.a. Our Lady of Flowers and Fluffs that an aspiring Chinese socialite had worn a “czarina-style” emerald necklace that was similar to one of her several emerald necklaces…

Without so much as interrupting her exquisite nibbling, She said sweetly:  “Hindi naman kasinlaki…”  [ “They were not as big { as mine }…” ]

And taking another teensy-weensy bite:  “At hindi naman kasin-berde…”  [ “And they were not as green { as mine }…” ]

And She fluttered her eyes and smiled beatifically at her artist friend.

*LOLSZ!!!*