A matter of principle

“We should go back to those days…”

“Sadly, it’s all about the money these days.”  I declared flatly, cynical as always.

“But we really have to go back to those days…”

He nodded in agreement.

“Well, that’s the way it goes:  it’s just all about the money.”  I shrugged.

“But it shouldn’t be that way, it shouldn’t be about the money…”

“They will have to pay for every vote… it’s really all about the money now.”  I sighed.

“Well… but we really should go back to those days…”

“I don’t know if that’s possible…”

It was only when I left the building that I realized I was like her in that way:  Idealistic.


No matter what happens, I will still vote for “G1BO” Gilbert Cojuangco Teodoro!!!

In consonance with MY candidate, I have nothing against the other presidential candidates.  I am sure that they too have the capabilities to serve as the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.  But I have to say that G1BO has MORE CAPABILITIES to serve as President than the others.

It’s just a matter of principle.   🙂   🙂   🙂

Politics of the Tiger

I had an absolutely wonderful, long lunch with a dear friend at her lovely art-strewn home in Forbes today and she told me about the astrological readings of a Chinese monk who is based in San Francisco, someone who has a good track record of predictions coming true.

The monk took a look at the birth dates of the presidential candidates and had this to say:

Noynoy Aquino:  “He will run out of funding and thus lose steam during the campaign.”

Erap Estrada:  “He has a huge following among the ordinary people.  However, he will not have enough money to complete the campaign.  But if the necessary funding was his he could easily win.”

Gibo Teodoro:  “He has considerable funding.  However, when he senses that the race will not be his he will stop spending.”

Manny Villar:  “All the signs point to this man as he is the most fortunate among the candidates for this year 2010, the Year of the Tiger.  There is also a woman behind him who is bringing him luck and carrying him to victory.  However, his luck will change next year.”


I nearly choked on the yummy pasta with cream and black truffles.   😛   😛   😛

Juan de la Cruz says…

We all know that it is the majority of the Filipino people — the 99 % — who will choose the next President of the Republic, so I have kept my eyes, nose, and ears, specially the ears, open to know what the pulse of the contemporary Filipino is…

Some answers made me proud, some made me cringe…

THE MAID:  “Ako para kay G1BO, kasi ang tali-talino niya sumagot sa mga tanong sa TV.  Tapos, ang cute pa niya.  At ang asawa niya na si Nikki, ang ganda-ganda, tisay na tisay!”

THE FAMILY DRIVER:  “Iboboto ko si Villar.  Matutulungan niya kaming mahihirap.  Gusto ko sana si G1BO, kaso ka-alyado ni Gloria, ayaw ko na.”

THE SALESGIRL:  “Ako solid Noynoy.  Syempre Aquino iyan.  Anak ni Ninoy at ni Cory yan, alangan namang magloko.  Bait yan.”

THE WAITER:  “Si G1BO.  Kasi narating na niya yung pinapangarap ko sa buhay.”

THE TAXI DRIVER:  “Gordon ako.  Galing niya kasi, tandaan natin ang ginawa niya sa Subic.  G1BO sana ako, kaya lang dala ni GMA, ayaw ko na ng kahit sinong konektado sa kanya, sobra raw ang kurakot!”

THE JEEPNEY DRIVER:  “Erap!  Sino pa ba?  Isa siya sa amin!  Malaking pagkakamali yung pinalitan siya ni Gloria.  Dapat maipagpatuloy niya ang mga programa niya para sa aming mga mahihirap!”

THE CARINDERIA COOK:  “Kami solid Erap!  Siya dapat ang maging Pangulo kasi napakabait niya!  Mahal namin si Erap!  Si Erap para sa Mahirap!”

THE TRICYCLE DRIVER:  “Ako Villar.  Mahirap kasi siya na umunlad.  Baka magawa niya sa amin yon.  Ayaw na namin kay Erap, napagbigyan na iyan, palpak naman.  Halos wala na kaming makain no’ng panahon niya.”

THE TRUCK DRIVER:  “G1BO!  G1BO!  Iba na yung matalino at magaling, kitang-kita niyo naman yung ebidensiya.  Wag naman tayong maghalal ng magnanakaw at mangmang, mangmang na nga tayong lahat pagnanakawan pa tayo…”

THE MANICURIST:  “Noynoy kami.  Iba na yung matino, kahit hindi masyadong astig.  Yung mabait.  Yung hindi magnanakaw at hindi mang-aabuso.  Si Noynoy!”

THE CIGARETTE VENDOR:  “Villar.  Sabi kasi ni Mang Dolphy.”

THE GARBAGE MAN:  “Sino pa kundi si Erap?  Siya lang ang nakaka-intindi sa amin!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Juan de la Cruz is saying.  Take your cue from here.


Wednesday evening, we headed to S. R.-M.’s Italian villa [ so authentic in architecture, decoration, and nuances it cannot be described as merely “Italianate” or “Italian-style” ] in the northern part of the city for an evening of Venetian food, wine, and conversation among good friends.

It was also the night of the annual EDSA 1986 Revolution commemoration and the horrendous traffic jam which literally paralyzed the northbound and southbound lanes of EDSA and C-5.  It was enough to make the thousands of unlucky ones stuck in traffic want to mount a revolution themselves.

S. had prepared a wonderful buffet spread and various comfortable seats for lounging in her terrace abloom with summer flowers, under a clear sky with breezes wafting from the valley below.

Mike S., who lives in Antipolo, was the first to arrive promptly at 6:30 p.m..  I followed at 8:00 p.m..  Gianna and Johnny were coming from the south and had to turn back because of the impossible traffic.  Metro EIC Kat A. H. and restoration architect Mico M. staggered in at 8:30 p.m. after waiting the traffic out at the Shang EDSA hotel.  And finally, always sunny Atty. Joe Mari T. arrived at 9:00 p.m. after a 3-hour trudge from Makati through C-5.  Thus, what threatened to be a disastrous evening for S. fortunately turned out to be a scintillating and memorable evening after all…

Days before, she had informed us that she would be preparing Venetian tapas learned, on the side, from her professor in surface design there.  It was a generous spread:  there were various kinds of bread with dips of sea salt, herbs, and olive oil, pasta, fried olives, mixed mushrooms, cod in cucumber, sausage on polenta, shrimps in cream and herbs, etc..  Many of the dishes were infused with dried lemon rind, a Venetian staple.  S. also had Tess Litton’s irresistible Parmesan chips as an added treat [ I ate so much of those! ].  There was also the popular “Paella” from her neighbor Louie Heredia.  Dessert was orange and mascarpone cake and various flavors of Italian gelato.  For drinks, there were Italian rose, prosecco, and a variety of other beverages at the bar set-up.

Complimenting the Italian food was the Italian architecture, decoration, and ambience of S.’s effortlessly elegant home, certainly one of Manila’s most beautiful and most beautifully lived-in residences.

Conversazione was lively as can be expected when people of similar backgrounds and shared interests converge…



Friday evening, 19 February 2010, Ilonggo lawyer and sugar baron Joe Mari brought together Marivic, Monique, Tats, Patis and Tito, co-author and publisher Mike, and I for dinner at his perfect Makati home to celebrate Mike’s new book “Estilo Ilonggo” [ “Ilonggo Style” ]…

Before dinner, we were treated to a tour of the house by Joe Mari as all of us were eager, indeed impatient, to see his new acquisitions of the recent months.  Important Filipino art and antiques were all over the house.

Reigning supreme in the living room was arguably the most beautiful “Saeta” painting of pioneer Spanish-Filipino abstractionist Fernando Zobel de Ayala y Montojo, # 66, dated 1958 which Joe Mari acquired from the collection of Zobel de Ayala protege Hector.  It was particularly inspired and dazzling.  The painting hung over a magnificent, ecclesiastical, 18th century/1700s molave and kamagong wood “vestuario”/vestry cabinet from an Augustinian church.

In another corner of the living room hung a “Seria Negra” [ Black and White series ] by Zobel de Ayala y Montojo from the period 1961-69.

In the lanai was another beguiling, untitled oil by Zobel de Ayala y Montojo, dated 1957, also from Hector, as well as a masterly portrait of a mestiza lady by National Artist Vicente Manansala, dated 1949.

Upstairs in the “Bulul room” filled with the best Filipino ethnic and Chinese rariori, I paid homage, as always, to the little Yuan dynasty brush washer in the shape of a bird, in underglaze red and underglaze blue, the most valuable piece in the shelves and once the coveted jewel of the Oriental porcelain collection of the late Dr. Arturo.

“I always forget to bring a big shopping bag and bubble wrap everytime I come here to Joe Mari’s!”  I joked.

“Don’t forget to call the cargo truck!”  the others rejoined.

In Joe Mari’s bedroom, I always enjoyed looking at the two religious paintings attributed to the master painter Justiniano Asuncion:  “La Santisima Trinidad” and “La Coronacion de la Virgen.”  Also the 18th century ivory-faced “San Miguel Arcangel” in a “virina” with a gold headdress set with emeralds from Butch’s collection.  There was also a rare 1700s silver “atril” missal stand with etched “ysot” decorations on one altar table.  Marivic and I admired a newly-acquired, low ecclesiastical cabinet of “tindalo” / “balayong” wood with a carved Augustinian seal — the kind only early collectors like Tita Bebe had — from Omeng which Tats wryly described as “Omeng dynasty.”

Dinner was the height of contemporary high Ilonggo style:  a classical French diner [ ala “Taillevent,” I thought ] by chichi society chef Jessie, accompanying “Taittinger” champagne, “Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1988,” “Chateau d’Yquem 1998,” etc., mignardises from the Mandarin Oriental, served on “Bernardaud” Limoges, antique Filipino silver, and “Waterford” crystal, ravishing flowers by society florist “Mabolo,” amidst 18th century/1700s Filipino colonial silver, all set on the famous 19th century “Baboy Damo” [ “Wild Boar” ] dining table of “narra” wood and Bohol provenance, a rare treasure from society antiques doyenne Kit.

Apart from the dining table, the dining room was graced by a magnificent and completely genuine, 18th century “Batangas I” altar table of reddish/purplish “tindalo” / “balayong” wood from the once-famous collection of the late Dr. Arturo.  Over it hung two early works of National Artist Victorio Edades.  The room was crowned by a chandelier composed of the elements of a 19th century/1800s giltwood “andas” [ processional carriage ].

Dinner started with panfried foie gras with mixed greens [ Taittinger champagne ], followed by “creme d’asperges”/cream of asparagus soup ], then “sorbet aux framboises”/raspberry sorbet, to “magret de canard” with Calvados sauce [ Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1988 ], and finally “profiteroles au chocolat”/chocolate cream puffs [ Chateau d’Yquem 1998 ].

Joe Mari was so thoughtful that he instructed chef Jessie to have twin lemon birthday cakes for Monique [ 17 February ] and I [ 02 January ] brought in after the profiteroles with the waiters singing “Happy birthday!”…

Conversation ran the gamut of topics. Very interesting was that there was absolutely no mention of politics or the forthcoming presidential elections, nor the presidential candidates during the entire evening. Such tawdry realities were subconsciously not allowed to cloud the sheer elegance and perfection of the evening and were left out on the street.

Marivic would be leaving in a few days for a “nice” two-week trip to India organized by Maja, Irene, and Ines.  The accommodations would be nice as they were only booked in choice five- and six-star hotels. Marivic had not been there since the 1970s. She, Monique, Tats, Patis, and Joe Mari exchanged notes on what to do and buy there. Patis warned that some Indian textiles were no longer of good quality.

Monique the EIC had just been to the Amanbagh resort in Rajasthan along with six of her “Town & Country” Philippines magazine officers upon the invitation of the Amanresorts management. It was a very beautiful resort, as all Aman resorts are, and they all had a really nice time.

Marivic and Joe Mari told us to join them in Paris midyear for their yearly visit. They usually stayed at the Le Meurice hotel. But one of us had found the hotel spooky on a visit two years ago. “The bathrooms are nice.” Marivic recalled. Marivic and Joe Mari said that their daily schedules in Paris were leisurely, with waking time at 11:00 a.m., meet for lunch, free afternoon for one’s activities, meet for dinner.  The two had the “sweet tooth” and were habitues of the “Laduree” and “Hediard” patisseries.  Marivic was, by her own admission, also a “chocoholic” who loved dark, bitter chocolate and she enjoyed the best Parisian chocolatiers like “Michel Cluizel,” “Patrick Roger,” “Pierre Herme,” “Christian Constant,” “La Maison du Chocolat,” et. al..

Marivic and Joe Mari gushed about “Berthillon,” the famous “glace”/ice cream and “sorbet” shop.

Beating me to it, Patis complimented the proper and generous size of Joe Mari’s faultlessly elegant linen dinner napkins. Their only embellishments were simple “calado” work one inch before their hems. He was with Marivic when he had ordered them from the nuns in Santa Barbara, Iloilo. Patis correctly described the process as “faggoting.” The rest of us snickered at such an “appropriate” process…

Somehow, the talk drifted to depression and we were surprised at how it had affected all of us at various points in our lives.

Marivic and Patis were shocked when I informed them of the sudden passing of Ampy, Panchito’s first wife, at Makati Med just that mid-afternoon.


“You can actually become depressed when you have everything. There is no challenge anymore.” Tito explained.

Curiously enough, the city’s social mountaineers, successful and otherwise, became the next objects of temporary fascination…

The famous, antique “Baboy Damo” dining table rocked with laughter as one of the ladies retold a long-ago story of a prosperous businessman, his wife, and the day a patrician and super groovy Spanish mestiza lady visited them in their newly-purchased posh address to discuss jewelry… The businessman had opened the front door for the lady, dressed casually in a T-shirt, cargo shorts, and flipflops. Frankly unimpressed and mistaking him for a houseboy, the lady asked imperiously in her Hispanized English: “Nasaan ang senora mo???” [ Where is your Ma’am???” ] :P :P :P

The talk then turned, logically enough, to mistresses, philandering husbands, separations, and coosome-twosome sightings. Three of the ladies with drifted husbands raised their hands acknowledging their experiences.

“What I don’t like are women who grab other women’s husbands…” one of the ladies complained.

We also discussed medical insurance. Marivic recommended “Omni” because she had been pleasantly surprised when the entire bill of an executive check-up at the Stanford university hospital had been undertaken by them.

*LOLSZ!!!* Joe Mari and Tats had made a pact long ago that they would never, ever get their senior citizen cards!!! Forever young!!! On the other hand, one of us said that she wanted one because she liked the 20 % discount on medicines as her weekly/monthly medicine bills were considerable.

“But those Binay frills… you won’t be able to watch all the movies you want at Rockwell for free!!!” I reminded Tats.

“So what??? I’ll buy my own movie tickets!!!” she countered.

I ate and drank too much, as always [ I am a Gonzalez and an Arnedo de Sulipan, after all :P ]. Marivic offered me a portion of her “magret de canard.” Patis offered me a profiterole. Always the observant, solicitous, and indulgent host, Joe Mari promptly instructed the waiters to bring me another plate of “profiteroles au chocolat”…

“My God, it’s as if you don’t have diabetes!” Patis observed.

Mike was the first to leave after having coffee, followed half an hour later by Tito and Patis.  Marivic, Monique, Tats, and I stayed with Joe Mari until a little past midnight…

After all the other guests had left, I spent a few more minutes with Joe Mari discussing Filipino art and antiques and closely peering at the various splendors of his collection.

I admired Joe Mari’s gold “garuda” pin, one of the glories of Filipino precolonial gold.  And I wondered what great pre-Spanish civilization in our islands produced these magnificent and highly sophisticated splendors…

If only all the evenings of my life could be as enchanting and magical as tonight’s…   🙂   🙂   🙂

Perfection, plain and simple.  And the key element was Joe Mari himself.

Sadness inside

I was outwardly the usual fun and insouciant Toto Gonzalez today, but I was bleeding inside…

I was busy working at 3:00 p.m. when I received a call on the cellphone from dear Tita Leonie G. informing me that a dear, still-youthful 61 year-old friend, a cousin of my Gonzalez-Gala first cousins, had finally succumbed at 2:00 p.m. from a major stroke she suffered three days ago.  She collapsed inside the elevator of the Rockwell condominium she was staying in, just as she was leaving for the NAIA international airport for her return trip to the USA, was rushed comatose to the Makati Medical Center but the traffic between Rockwell and Makati Med took ages, and was diagnosed as a severe case upon arrival at the MMC Emergency Room.

Tonight at a magnificent dinner in the residence of an Iloilo lawyer and sugar baron, I learned that another dear 54 year-old friend, who was diagnosed with cancer in August 2009, had had an operation that was not successful.  His doctors have given him the usual time frame.  Thankfully, he has an indomitably sunny, optimistic attitude and will seek other avenues of treatment.  We, his friends, are all rallying for him.

Despite the merry and very social company, I almost broke out in tears over the sad news even with the perfectly-executed “Profiteroles au Chocolat”  by Chef Jessie S. and the absolutely lovely “Chateau d’Yquem,” served on “Bernardaud” Limoges china and “Waterford” crystal, amidst magnificent 18th century/1700s Filipino colonial silver and ravishing flowers from the chichi “Mabolo,” all on the renowned 19th century “Baboy Damo” [ “Wild Boar” ] dining table of “narra” wood from Leyte province…

It was all too much sad news for one day.  Too much.   😦   😦   😦

Morning surprise

This morning, I received a very beautiful, very elegant, and very generous bouquet of gorgeous, high-quality cymbidium orchids of unusual colors from Tita Isabel C.-S. and her daughter Isa.  The magnificent cymbidiums are being grown in the flower farm of her brother, Tito Manoling C., a gentleman with excellent taste.

Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness, Tita Isabel and Isa!!!  Such kind thoughts and incredible beauty certainly made my day.   🙂   🙂   🙂

“Kabobuan atpo Kalokuan” ( Stupidity and Foolishness )

“”O katutu, bala la ala lang balu reng tau, bala la bobu ta ngan.”

“E ku balu kung mimwa ku o mipakaili ku king kabobwan ning COMELEC.  E ya kanu minyambut i Among Ed Panlilio bilang gobernador ning Pampanga.  Ing tutu kanung minyambut i Baby Pineda.  E la kanu mebilang deng botong ‘Nanay Baby’ at nanu nanu pang balotang ating ‘Baby.’  Ot kaya e ra la ikit deta king mumuna?  Ot kabobuan da naman, adi!  Mekapagaral la ba ren?”

“E mu balu kung ninu ing mas-maiinsultu, i Among Ed Panlilio o i Baby Pineda…”

“Ala namang marok kung tutu yang menyambut i Baby Pineda.  Marok mu kung nanu nanu pang storya ing gawan ning COMELEC ng Gloria para milako ya mu i Among Ed king katataulian.   Ke tutu o ali, lulual a  ‘politically motivated.’  Lawen me ing pangalako ng Grace Padaca bilang gobernador king Cagayan.  Halus ala namang maniwala e ya ing menyambut king panga-gobernador karin, puwera kang Gloria atpo reng Dy.”

“Dapat tandanan da reng pulitiko na kalupa ra reng limpak limpak a pera ra, magigisan mu rin ing TIWALA ra reng tau.  Datang mu rin ing panahun na ala nang manwala, ala nang mamansin.”

“Tandanan dang ating kapupusan denggang bage king yatu.  Ating kapupusan ngan.”

“Datang mu rin ing panahun na makalingwan la.  Ita ing pekamasakit a parusa king sobrang ambisyun.”

“Ay katutu, magminindal ta namung tinape atpo kape…””


In English:

The words of a 90 year-old Kapampangan gentleman:

The Families of Old Binan, Laguna IV

By popular demand.

Presenting Comments 300 – 399:

The Families of Old Binan, Laguna III

By popular demand.

Presenting Comments 200 – 299:

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