Old Spanish Manila

Bodily Harm

The Joke goes:

“Dad, Is God Man or Woman?”

“Son, God is Neither Man nor Woman.”

“Dad, is God White or Black?”

“Son, God is Neither White nor Black.”



To what extent should one go in the “enhancement” of one’s physical features???

“Comida China” of Yore

I remembered this very interesting “roman a clef” account of a Chinese banquet in Binondo written by a Spaniard, Jose Montero y Vidal, in his book “Cuentos Filipinos,” published in 1876 [ translation published by the Ateneo de Manila University 2004 ]:

“”Tieng-Chuy was known as one of the richest traders in the flourishing Sangley colony of Manila in 1870.   He owned several bazaars and was an active and intelligent businessman.”


“”Ramon de Molina Tieng-Chuy, who was known for his generosity, wanted to celebrate the arrival of his nephew Chang-Chuy with a dance.  He decorated the rooms of his well-furnished house and sent for an orchestra composed of native musicians.  At nine in the evening, many visitors arrived.”

“The living room was full of elegant, luxuriously dressed mestizas.  Their charms, their refined and inimitable grace, their ability to dance, we can safely say, had no equal.”

“There were groups of happy people, children of the Celestial Empire savoring the delicious nectar, the “cha,” or tea, in small cups slightly bigger than thimbles, as they fanned themselves with wide “paipais.”  the others in more secluded places were dozing, rendered sleepy by opium.  Some guests were in a hidden room, playing “llampo” and “monte,” which they, like the indios, were fond of.  Many others, lazily reclining in armchairs with their feet up on the seats, were enjoying themselves watching the dance.”

“In the bedrooms, the respectable mothers were gathered around the lampshades, passing the time playing “panguingui” and “tapa-diablo,” enveloped in the thick smoke from oversized cigars, which they savored as contentedly as the “buyo.”  Cigars and “buyo” were constantly passed around on big trays.  The “caida” [ entrance hall ] was full of musicians, onlookers, and servants bearing lacquered trays filled with sweetmeats and ice cream for the ladies.”

“The whole house was resplendent, profusely illuminated inside as well as outside, offering a lively and enchanting sight.  In the front part of the living room could be seen a gigantic painting of Confucius at whose feet were set sixteen big red candles [ The Chinese in Manila, although they have become Christians, revere this philosopher and build altars for him. ].  Some believers were burning small pieces of yellow paper printed with Chinese characters of different colors.”

“At 10:30, the dancing stopped so that the Chinese visitors could enjoy a theatrical presentation prepared by Tieng-Chuy.”

“Chinese music is considered by the children of the Celestial Empire as the most harmonious music in the world.  Its composer, however, was undoubtedly deaf or had perhaps lost his reason, since in no other way could anything so lacking in harmony have been conceived.  It was deafening and out of tune as it cast to the wind its hair-raising sounds; but it caused the passionate art lovers among the Sangleyes to jump with joy from their seats.” 

“The harsh sound of the two-string “bandolin” started to fill the air.  It shrieked, its noise more irritating than the sound of 100 “cicadas,” while beside it someone played the discordant “ty,” a bamboo flute with six holes, emitting a more deafening sound than the detonation of a battery of ten cannons fired simultaneously.  The sound of the “batintin,” a bell of two metals in the form of a boiler, when joined to the incessant sound of the other instruments just mentioned, was more than enough to deafen anyone not born in the wide expanse of the Chinese Empire.”  

“The curtain rose and mandarins appeared on the improvised stage dressed in very luxurious woven silk costumes of lively colors.  They were singing, with one hand placed over the other, their arms extended up to their faces, while several henchmen held the banners of the empire.  Later, there was a very heated argument with the other characters who had arrived on the scene.  The show ended with fancy dances while the music went on mercilessly, hurting the ears of the non-Chinese.” 

“The Chinese actors and musicians left to rest from their exhausting activities, and guests could dance once again in the European style.””  


“”Tieng Chuy and his family, as hosts, did their best to make everyone enjoy the affair.”   

“When the buffet was ready to be served, they moved to a gallery prepared for the occasion.  The table was covered with exquisite dishes.  Tieng-Chuy was truly being a wonderful host to his party guests.”

“The palate of the most delicate and demanding Chinese could not have asked for more.  There was abundance and variety.  Among the huge plates of rice, white as snow, the best brand from the Ilocos known as “mimis,” there were platters of dried fish, “pansit,” and “cuchay.”  There were dishes overflowing with shark’s fins and “hog-shum,” or “balate,” plates of cured veal and deer ribs, capons and chicken side by side with plates of shrimps, lobsters, and small “babuis,” or suckling pigs.  Attracting the eyes of everyone was an exquisite silver platter, prominently placed, full of “nidos de salangunes,” a highly expensive Chinese gourmet delicacy [ glutinous substance used by the swallow “Salangane” to build its nest; a pile of the nest is worth 4,000 pesos in China ].”

“In the middle of the table were elegant fruit bowls surrounded by flowers, bearing the most delicious fruits of the country like “manga,” “pina,” “ate,” “chicos,” “platanos,” “lanzones,” and “guayabas.”  There were also abundant desserts from China and Manila.”

“At the sight of that banquet, which the Son of the Sun himself could not have scorned, the eyes of his subjects shone like glowworms.  They were also overjoyed at the sight of some bottles of Spanish wine.  Many people, specially Filipinos, have started to develop a taste for it.”   

“The Chinese armed themselves with their “sipit,” luxurious cylindrical ivory sticks which they manage so admirably, placing one stick between the thumb and the index finger and the other between the latter and the middle finger.  With these implements they bring the food to the mouth.  The indios, meanwhile, prepared the five fingers of their right hand, the only cutlery they use.  Soon everyone started gobbling up the food like turkeys.”


So, where do You go for great Chinese Food???   😀

The Total Lack of Savoir-Faire

“Thou shalt not steal”…  WITH NO STYLE.

Remember how in Ancient Sparta a thief was punished not so much for stealing, but for lacking the necessary stealth and cunning so as to be caught in the act!!!

I personally have nothing against Graft and Plunder.  After all, it’s Filipino political tradition — if not actually an international one!!!  Without any exceptions, I daresay.  Nothing new.  “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  But for chrissakes, Do It with Style!!! 

American journalists coined the terms “Teflon” and “Velcro” to connote two types of political personalities:  The “Teflon” personality is besieged by scandal but it “slicks off” easily like former US presidents Bill Clinton [ Monica Lewinsky scandal ] and Ronald Reagan [ Iran-Contra scandal ] and our own General President Fidel Ramos.  The “Velcro” personality is besieged by scandal but it “sticks stubbornly” like… well, our very own.

A still very rich cousin of his snapped:  “I have no sympathy at all for Him.  What a disgrace.  As you said, he had to bring home the bacon.  And when his mother died, there was very little of the bacon left.  He has made up for it, crassly of course.  Part of it is that he looks like an oversized “pork boy” and she a pygmy.  No style!!!  And his choice of “queridas” are none too impressive either.  The man just hasn’t got ‘grace’.”

Then there’s the Pipsqueak.  He must keep silent because the Palace holds him by the neck, as they know an ultimate, unspeakable truth about him which could demolish his whole world in an instant.

And the Tattletale.  Talk about “Poor Unfortunate Soul” [ to quote Ursula the villainness in Disney’s “Little Mermaid” ].  For the life of pragmatic Me, I simply cannot imagine what behooved this man to place his life, family, and entire universe in “clear and imminent danger.”  Wouldn’t it have been better for him if he just played along and kept silent???  Yes, he did it for the Philippines and for his countrymen.  I feel like telling him:  “Wake up and smell the coffee!!!”  It’s not worth it, and all you have to do is look at all the political vermin to see why.  For all the ultimate sacrifice of National Hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, We needed him Alive, not Dead.  We need him now more than ever.   

Ironically, it is during times like these that I “wax nostalgic” about The Dictator and his First Lady.  Now, they had GREAT STYLE [ at least politically ].  Any “scandale” simply fizzled out with a smooth, champagne-like fizz.  Any critic of his administration simply disappeared the next day.  Without any trace.  Savoir-Faire nonpareil!!!

Then there was the General President:  All he had to do was smile, signal two thumbs up, and declare “Philippines 2000!!!” and all scandals would just fade into thin air!!!

Now, why should these guys have all the fun???  We should all storm Malacanan* Palace, NOT to oust the President, but to demand our “commissions” as well!!!  The more the merrier!!!  *LOLSZ!!!*   😛   😛   😛

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream… merrily, merrily, merrily… Life is but a Dream…”   😛   😛   😛