The Silken Road

What Global Financial Crisis???

Last night, I was at a wonderful Christmas Party of a rich Chinese businessman and his very beautiful Filipina wife in their magnificent new residence in Forbes Park.

The whole evening was characterized by EASE, the effortlessness that is afforded by endless resources.

As we were taking our leave, and as reciprocal invitations were being made to the couple by the other affluent guests, we learned that they would not be in town for the holidays.  As always, they would be spending it at their Asian base and then fly to Las Vegas just before the New Year, where the “feng shui” master had directed the husband, who was not a gambler by a long shot, to spend a very considerable USD $$$ six figures at the high stakes gaming tables to ensure the continuity of his good luck in business for the coming year.   

Looking at the splendor of everything in sight, I remembered the great but unknown charity of the couple, specially to their household staff.  The husband’s old Chinese “amah” has a special room set aside for her along with her own caregiver, in Manila as well as the couple’s other residences in Asia.  The loyal maids, drivers, and valets are all well-compensated and their legitimate requests for funding are never denied.  The education of the staff’s children is a priority:  they are sent to good schools, not merely public ones.  The couple have purchased houses for their loyal longtime employees:  nice houses in middle class developments, not shanties in squatter areas.  The staff quarters in the new residence are well-designed, commodious, clean, and well-equipped,  even delightfully liveable.  So unusual in Manila.  As a result, the staff are happy, healthy and pink-cheeked, and highly efficient.  And a last perk:  the staff are the happy recipients of their employers’ expensive castoffs yearly:  Brioni, Giorgio Armani, John Lobb, Hermes, Chanel, Prada, Blahnik, Louboutin, etc..  The family’s extensive charity to their staff certainly justified the splendor in which they lived.  And the husband wasn’t even a Christian much less a Catholic.         

It was nice to have a few hours’ respite from all the problems of the times.

So, like Cinderella after the ball with the pumpkin squashed and the horses turned back to mice, with only a glass slipper of enchanted memories, I went back to the grind today…



  1. Jules said,

    April 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    A few moons back,
    I visited an Old Friend’s
    Pre-owned Euro goodies
    thrift shoppe…

    and guess who her
    usual Patron is –
    the Bagong Lipunan daughter
    replenishing her cupboard
    with Limoges…



  2. larry leviste said,

    January 14, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Tony Leviste just got 6 to 12 years in prison.

    He’ll be out on parole in no time.

    There is NO JUSTICE in the Philippines.

    I’m sounding like DAVE Brodett BUT that was my sincere reaction to the TV news.

  3. zippo said,

    January 1, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Happy New Year to everyone.

    I’m re-charged. Roughing it up in Banaue did wonders for my soul.

    Z 🙂

  4. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 27, 2008 at 2:42 pm


    Thank you so much for your warm wishes. You’re so right: even though we’re going through this terrible international crisis, which no doubt President-elect Obama and his wonderful team will tackle head on, making our lives much better in the future, we had a WONDERFUL Christmas in my family as my parents grow older and mellower, the nieces and nephews grow up and the traditional food becomes that little bit more difficult to make because the younger domestic helpers are less patient. But, tradition persists and I’ll always remember Noche Buena 2008 as one of my happiest with the whole family.

    Take lots of care and I hope to meet you when I come to Manila in a few months’ time.

    Saludos y mejores deseos (best wishes),


  5. l*ding said,

    December 27, 2008 at 5:46 am

    I’m sorry for the late greetings but better late than never. I was busy preparing our noche buena with some cousins in Dasmarinas asking last minute tips and support. To Toto (i said it in the past, your brilliance is blinding! where were you when iren* m*rtel was looking for an editor in chief for the Tatler !?! Brilliance! Brilliance!, Isla, bambina, larry dear (your words never failed to impress me), GARGANTUA (My favorite sparring partner), periphery, talagang t, zippo hijo (your mom has a good collection of paintings, tell me when she will sell some of her masters), and to all my fellow matronas and solteras whose names i missed : Have a Happy Christmas!!! 2009 may yet to be one of the greatest years in our history with the election of Obama and the full effects of the Global financial crisis expected to be realised!!!

  6. December 26, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Season’s Greeting, Toto….. your gift from Gloria awaits you at ,Pedestrian Observer GB

  7. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 26, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Just saw on CNN International that Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day in New York at age 81 of colon cancer.

    I pay hommage to an extraordinary entertainer, a legend in her own time whose voice brings back memories of a wonderful youth to me when my friends and I considered ourselves so sophisticated while listening to her in college and sipping martinis.

    What a loss, she’s irreplaceable to those of us who loved her. I’m really sorry I never saw her live in concert.

  8. December 25, 2008 at 10:25 am

    The EQualizer:

    Thank you very much!!! 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  9. December 24, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Toto:You are one of EQ’s Top ten Pinoy blogs of 2008! congrats.visit EQualizer post.

  10. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:49 am


    Primero, I’ve put your numbers ipso facto into my cell. phone directory. No sooner have I Qatar Airwaysed into Ninoy Aquino than you’re in the top of my list as soon as I’ve freshened up. Depending on circumstances I’ll decide on the Pen or the Mandarin. I like both but this time prefer the Pen.

    Under normal circumstances I’d be more cheerful tonight but I’m under the weather emotionally too, although for diferent reasons than Zippo. However, it’s amazing how some news travels like lightening across the seven seas in both directions. I’ve been on my MSN Messenger for HOURS to Manila, Batangas and Subic and all of the above reached my ears.

    Please ask Toto for my private email so we can chat and plot. In principle I intend to stay for about three weeks in Manille but there are a few corporate hickups, as usual caused by very envious people, I must straighten out. Otherwise I’m planning my own agenda and telling the company to go fry their own eggs somewhere else. I do the job because I like it, not because I need it and I feel quite fortunate about that.

    In fact, if I tell the company to go fry its own eggs somewhere else, my trip to Manila will be more to check out the possibility of living part of the year there: in other words, pulling my Dewi Soekarno act as mentioned in a previous post. I’ve had it with Europe and am craving butterfly shrimp from KFC rather than froufrou de langouste at the Plaza Athénée.

    Toto, could you please let Larry have my private email?

    Maraming Salamat for your friendship and a wonderful Christmas to all!


  11. Garganta Inflamada said,

    December 22, 2008 at 11:56 pm


    Yes, they are not quite on the same scale of monstrosity and barbarity — but please, I didn’t expect you to buy into the “image” thing she was trying to promote.

    It was HER she was trying to project…with her poor country as an excuse and background scenery. I mean even Hitler needed those mass rallies for the right theatrical effect.

    Enuf said.

  12. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 22, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Randy B,

    How can you possibly put Hitler, the most macabre creature of recent history with the pedigree of a mongrel and Madame Marcos who comes from such a distinguished family as the Romualdez’s in the same sentence?

    Yes G.I., I know you’re very fond of her but that’s not the point. Madame Marcos made many mistakes but did also a great deal of good for the image of the Philippines abroad and was not plotting on how to eradicate a whole race from earth.

  13. larry leviste said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:41 am

    ZIPPITY DO DAH, ( my favorite Zippo )

    I know that feeling you will have being alone for Christmas. I’ve been there many times in my youth.

    Just remember I am praying for you. Maybe to realize the opposite of loneliness is SOLITUDE. When you actually enjoy your time to yourself. I do lists, letters, major decisions or just solitary walks.

    A little melancholy makes the heart. stouter. Call ME time and a bit of introspection and reflection on the great things we have will be good for your spirit.

    You will be FINE, I promise you. Coming back rested, REJUVENATED and mayhaps enlightened.

    A Wonderful Yuletide and a Happy NUDE Year.

  14. larry leviste said,

    December 21, 2008 at 8:23 am

    PARIS, PARIS, PARIS……..I am paralyzed with happiness at the thought we might be spending time together in February. That’s my birthday month so of course, we may tea, lunch or midnight snack on our beloved KFC. Call me 523 6928 or 0908 665 9707 immediately upon landing in Manille.

    Well, I have doing the rounds of parties and islands with 2 sisters from Sydney and Washington needing my help in the shopping and spa department. Palawan beckoned.

    One grand party of truly BEJEWELED public servants was at the Mandarin ballroom. Thrown by Senator Joh**y Po*ce E**ile’s Chief of staff who supposedly broke his marraige. She is comely and generous wearing mahjong sized diamonds.

    Another party was the bash of my boss for Tetta Agustin-Wright. It was fun to see Erap stay the whole night without bodyguards, drinking with Louie Cruz, Jovy Sanso, Thelma San Juan.

    Tetta was the first Filipina model of Paris the favorite cabin model of Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy who is godfather to her stunning daughter Tosca who I had Patrick Uy photograph in Oskar Peralta couture last week.

    Still another party in the posh home of a Chinese taipan who has the best karaoke system on earth. I sang ” What I did for Love ” from A Chorous Line.

    I am in love just like my widowed aunt Vicky Garchitorena. We had lunch in Binondo and swapped love tails.

    Zip, I only wished I still had the body of that photo you saw in the 8o’s.

    Scoop of the day is the sudden death of Joel Tesoro at the HK airport. Patis is unconsolable. And Chavit Singson dumping long time partner Che.

  15. randy b said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:42 am

    eg. Hitler was illegit and he escaped trial. Imelda M is 4th gen., she’s not doing jail time or eating the dust.

  16. randy b said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:30 am

    When the awkward 1st generation rich is gone, the better educated 2nd gen. if there’s any, will get rid of the pissing angels. The 3d will be seen as old rich darlings of society but may die leaving many debts, soft living sometimes dulls survival instincts and judgment. The 4th, exposed to the rainy weather of debt payment, may be re-steeled or lose a good part of the herencia.

    The only ones seeming to have a charmed life beyond 3 gens. are illegitimate children. A lot of them seem exempt or avoided from natural/other laws like heavy karma, bad looks (even if the parents were not goodlooking), land reform, extreme hardship getting to the top, expensive diseases, jail, job disqualification, discovery by the husband that one child is not his, etc. They often leave their legit siblings in the dust. One I know was first runnerup sa Miss Philippines even if she was the shortest of the finalists and not that stunning. Another was not karma-ed even if she committed fraud in the millions. Only her husband landed in the ICU for months after their accident.

    This could be compensation for (more often than not) deprivation of paternal support and right inheritance. The ones who seem to get mixed up or a little crazy are the legitimate only children (spoiled from childhood?).

  17. spendaholic said,

    December 21, 2008 at 6:21 am

    as they say: it’s better to be “nouveau riche” than not “riche” at all…

  18. December 20, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    danny ho:

    Thank you very much.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  19. danny ho said,

    December 20, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    dear toto,may the peace and comfort of the season surround you this holiday and in the coming year………danny

  20. December 20, 2008 at 6:30 am


    So unkind of them to say that.

    She is a kind and wonderful lady whose company is an absolute delight.

    Why should they be derided just because theirs is not an Old Manila fortune? Is it because of Envy, as always? Old Manila and its fortunes have long gone. These days, many an elegant “senora” of an old fortune has to pawn her old diamonds to make ends meet, shop perforce at 168 Mall, fly coach to the USA, hope that her remaining San Miguel and Ayala Corporation shares do not flounder, and worry that her old buildings in Quiapo will not burn to the ground. Old Manila has to accept that it has already been replaced by a new set of Rich People with ever larger fortunes, the next more staggering than the last. That is simply how the world is.

    Rich is Rich is Rich, and there is no other way to describe it.


  21. l*ding said,

    December 20, 2008 at 5:28 am

    I read this in the manila standard……

    Sino siya (who is she)? is the best way to describe this social-climbing matron whose claim to fame is nothing the old rich would have themselves associated with. Her amigas are saying her goal is to be queen of the social circles. “Hay, naku,” hisses one of her balimbing friends. “She’s trying too hard and it shows.” Indeed, this matron’s penchant for costume parties is beginning to be an eyesore, especially in the society pages. “Que barbaridad!” interjects another of her so-called friends. “She cajoles even her husband to play her silly masquerades.” Which, indeed, is pathetic looking awkward as he does in, say, his Dracula outfit or his Siam prince robe. “Dios mio!” laments yet another of her social butterflies. “Her house is so noveau, full of newly bought treasures. It’s so Versace, minus the panache, with those pissing angels around the pool.” But the matron will not be stopped, throwing costume parties here and there and trying to make her presence felt in the diplomatic circle. So will she soon be the consummate host, the future Chona Kasten, the next Meldy Cojuangco? “Nunca! Never!” her amigas explode in mock terror. “If Chona Kasten was a jewel, she’s only costume jewelry…” says one of them. “No! No! No!” interrupts another. “Even as a costume she cannot wear Meldy Cojuangco!”

  22. Garganta Inflamada said,

    December 20, 2008 at 3:53 am

    Deep Throat passes away:

    For you young’uns who don’t know what or who that was: Deep Throat was the code-name of the US gov’t informant who supplied Berstein & Woodard (“All the President’s Men”) all the info they needed to help bring about the downfall of Richard Nixon’s government.

    But NOT to worry. Garganta Inflamada is here!! May he live long and expose well, and keep your moral compass in check and on track!!

    Zippo, chin up. “The tempest is always the calmest before the storm…” or however that goes. It kinda just sounded appropriate at this time.

    Feliz Navidad, Maligayang Pasko, Joyeux Noel; and Happy Hanukah, Holidays and Kwanzaa to one and all!!


  23. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 19, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Zippo, it’s great to see you online again!

    It can’t be that bad to spend Christmas with your mother. I know, I know they’ll always treat us as if we’re still in sailor suits but it’s nice for a change to be pampered by mom, and most love doing it – especially feeding us until we burst.

    As for your relationship… think hard and start the year with vigour. I had the temptation of giving up my long-time relationship as well and realised it was the most stupid thing I could do at my age (46). I really have no complaints and I know I’m not the easiest person to live with so I looked at the glass being half full rather than half empty. Chin up – your cyber friends stand by you, and I promise that when I lift my glass to toast on the 24th I’ll also include you and the rest of our gang in my prayers for a healthy and prosperous 2009!

    I have never seen the blog so quiet, especially without Larry – he’s no doubt having the time of his life in one of the 7100 islands. Larry, tell us (almost) all when you return!



  24. zippo said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for the Christmas Greetings. Haven’t been logging in lately as I haven’t been myself lately. Been missing my kids. They’ll be spending Christmas with their respective mothers so I’ll be all alone for Christmas (there goes my chance of having an old fashioned Christmas — although there’s always the possibility of spending it with mother hmmmm…. slash wrists, Christmas with mother, slash wrists, Christmas with mother; such a hard decision).

    Thinking of hying up to Batanes or Banaue for some alone time this weekend till the days before Christmas (roughing it up is always good for one’s soul). Will get to think whether to end my present relationship to go back to the last wife or to file my umpteenth annulment. I know…. I know….

    Anyway, Toto, Isla, bambina, larry, GI, Liding, periphery, talagang t, and everyone here: I wish your Christmas would be much much merrier than mine.

    You’ll miss me for a few days as there’s no wi-fi in either Batanes or Banaue.

    Take care y’all.

    Z 🙂

    P.S. A few days ago, I was looking at some pics of some of the parties my mom threw in the 1980s. Guess who I saw as a guest during one of the parties? Larry L!

  25. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 18, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Randy B,

    I’m not sure that Blahnik would be amused with the comment, especially if it comes from me. I’ve heard I’m on his “sxxt” list because one of my closest friends is his arch-enemy… But what do I care, he’s never met me just heard about me.

    If this bitchiness in Madrid persists in 2009 I’ll pull a Dewi Soekarno. That is, I’ll stop going out to the fashionable places and just live here for the convenience and company of family and good friends but have all the fun in the world in Paris, London and Manila when I go back. I’m even toying with the idea of buying a condo at the new St. Francis Towers – just a nice two bedroom one. Does anybody have any ideas, comments or suggestions of a nicer place at a good price? How about Serendra at the Fort?

    BTW, Larry do you feel like meeting up in Manila when I’m there, hopefully beginning of February for three weeks, with some of us regulars and organizing a nice and civilized lunch or dinner? I thought of “Spices” at the Pen but don’t know if one can smoke there. Perhaps there are some other nice places I don’t know of. I usually end up at people’s homes in Manila or Subic, which I love. God, it’s so beautiful there and I’d also love to visit Cebú.

    OK, I’m off now. Another really busy day ahead but I’m addicted to this blog. All you guys make fabulous commentators and raconteurs. We haven’t seen Toto on the blog lately so I guess you’re out and about in Manila and the traffic must be hell at this time of the year.

    Saludos to all,


  26. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 17, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Thank you so much Larry, and how I agree with you!

    I never really believed in Karma or knew about it when I was younger (please note the young-er LOL!) but I’ve seen slowly develop over time how people who mistreat others, are hypocrits and bad friends, who take it all and give none back to family, friends and society at large, sooner or later end up with egg on their face.

    Perhaps because I’m not Pinoy I experienced so much kindness in Manila because here it can be hell in the so-called “chic” watering holes. You’d think people were out to see, be seen and have a good time. Especially at Christmas. Many of us do and yesterday’s lunch was a hoot until my mother called in hysterics because my new kitten had peed under my bed, but that’s another story. Anyway, amongst those there to see and be seen at Caffé Romano here in Madrid I heard quite a few comments and saw quite a few faces totally out of synch with the festive season. What’s the problem with people? I don’t want to be mean, but if you’re a sourpuss and have so many problems stay at home and drink to oblivion but don’t go out and ruin it for all others looking for a merry time, particularly at Christmas.

    I spoke to an Indonesian friend in Holland and she knows Manila as well as Jakarta and spends a lot of time there. We both agreed it’s a huge difference when you go out and have fun in Jakarta and Manila. People are always fun, kind and enjoy a good time. The nearer you get to overdeveloped cities (i.e. Hong Kong or for that matter Paris) for some reason people start to become sour.

    Who said the Silken Road leads to London, Paris and New York? Give me Southeast Asia, and especially the Philippines, any time. You know what “Delicadeza” is, not only means.

    When I’m next there we should organize one hell of a dinner out!



  27. randy b said,

    December 17, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Isla: Blahnik would be amused to know that his market has expanded. BTW you never know where a person ends up. Once met a salesgirl and her husband, a widower member of the Japanese royal family. The guy is in Jap real estate, is an ex-vice president of Toshiba Japan, part-owner of Mitsubishi and a doz. other corps, and his family used to own most of the Narita airport site. When he touches down in Cebu from a Tokyo flight every six weeks, armed escorts wait for him on the ground because he handcarries cash he brings here to evade Japanese capital gains taxes.

    So the girl who used to make $3 a day can now buy all the Blahniks she wants.

  28. larry leviste said,

    December 16, 2008 at 4:47 am

    I have been taught by experience and the wisdom of my elders,



    It’s the circle of KARMA, the law of the Universe’

    Rigorous honesty, selfless and nameless charity and non stop acts of kindness.

    May all the readers and bloggers led by Toto have an OLD fashioned Christmas, just like the ones we used to know. Where treetops GLISTEN and children LISTEN.

    PARIS, Liding, Zip, G.I. , Periph, Jeremiah especially.

    God bless us, EVERYONE.

  29. ynchaustti said,

    December 15, 2008 at 4:20 am

    I would think some of our kababayans are recession proof. So how do I apply to become a staff of this generous couple?

  30. madspartan said,

    December 14, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Dear Toto,

    I have no clue as to the identity of the couple — but this entry touched me. I’ve always believed that true breeding can be determined by the way one deals with other people’s vulnerability.

    Who can be more vulnerable than someone who has to live away from their loved ones, see to someone else’s needs, take care of someone else’s child, be surrounded by bounty that is not theirs, (in some cases) their every move – public or private – be under scrutiny and subject to approval by someone else, and be subordinate to someone nearly 24/7?

    The recognition of this vulnerability makes me want to know who this couple is. There are sadly too few people that one can genuinely look up to, and those who are good to people behind the scenes are a rarity. To randyb — I think that take actual good deeds in private will trump high-praising public lip service anytime.

    It always puzzles me how one can demand to be taken care of by someone else, and then reward this care with indifference — and sadly, in a lot of cases, cruelty. At the very least, this would be a violation of the Golden Rule.

    Do people realize that taking on household staff is a huge responsibility? That these are fellow human beings – with feelings, and loved ones, and dreams of their own — and, believe it or not, strive to better themselves as human beings are wont to do. Household staff are employees. And if people have ever been employed themselves, why would they think that their wants and needs are any different from those they hire to run their households?

    The Louboutins and the Blahniks maybe over the top, but the couple’s commitment to taking care of their staff is truly admirable and worthy of emulation.

    I’ve always believed that kindness is at the very core of gentility and breeding. Plus it is its own reward.

    Sorry for rambling and thanks for the space.

  31. IslaSanLuisParis said,

    December 14, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Yes, indeed it is a gift from God, and especially to be reminded of it in the Christmas season, that we can and should share a small part of our bounty with others less fortunate than ourselves, especially when their work is to take care of us all year round, year after year in many cases.
    Living in Spain though, and I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but knowing of the man’s vanity, I wonder how happy Blahnik would be to find out that someone’s beloved “yaya” is wearing his cast-off shoes…

    Happy Holidays to all fellow bloggers, especially Larry, L*ding, G.I., Periphery and of course to you, Toto.

  32. randy b said,

    December 14, 2008 at 6:54 am

    The Filipina owes much of her exalted position in business, government, politics and other fields to the backstage dirty work done by househelp specially “yayas.” But in thank-you speeches she saves the platitudes for God, office superiors and staff, family and everyone but.

  33. l*ding said,

    December 14, 2008 at 6:48 am

    what was the lady of the house wearing that night? she did buy some nice pink diamond pieces from kristin* y*ng recently.

  34. periphery said,

    December 14, 2008 at 5:32 am

    How nice.

    Pero, I’m sorry. I don’t care how much I appreciate my cook/housekeeper/chauffeur/gardener… staff ain’t getting any John Lobb shoes from me, used or otherwise. Actually, forget staff. Include friends and family. Nobody’s getting their grubby little hands on my bespoke kicks. LOL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: