National Artist for Literature Francisco “Frankie” Sionil Jose wrote this letter to President-elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III.  In it, he summarized the sentiments and hopes of the Filipino nation.  No one could have written it better.


Dear Noynoy,

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”

I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.

From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.

And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose


Thank you to T. Alexandra “Sandra” Laguda Sotto who FWD this to me from her New York City base.


Manila when it sizzles

It is not even warm.

It is HOT [ pardon the incorrect term ].  Literally!!!  And I don’t mean HAWT as in sexxxy…

Last 19 May 2010, Wednesday, the temperature in Manila hit 37.5 degrees Celsius;  the temperature in Cagayan province hit 39 degrees Celsius.  The three consecutive days of 19, 20, and 21 May 2010 were marked by high temperatures.

The PAGASA weather agency [ Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration ] says that this summer 2010 is the warmest in 10 years.  That means that 19 May 2010 was the warmest day in 10 years!!!

When I looked in the mirror that warmer than warmest day, I didn’t see myself.  Instead, I saw a glorious, golden brown, crisp “lechon” roast pig with an apple in its mouth, stuffed with young “sampaloc” [ tamarind ] leaves, “tanglad” lemon grass leaves, pandan leaves, lots of garlic and onions and various peppers, plus fragrant “milagrosa” rice, dripping with lard galore, with a big bowl of roasted and herbed liver sauce on the side… OMG.  What had become of li’l ol’ me???

Ideally, one should be out of the country during this season.  But that cannot be done just like that when one has work to do and businesses to run.

I used to think that friends and relatives who had airconditioned bathrooms, kitchens, and even garages were hopelessly extravagant.  Not anymore.  Airconditioning is now the key to survival in Manila, at least during the summer months.

So much for carbon footprints.  Come what may.   😐   😐   😐

Man in the sala

Walk into the residences of the Philippines’ most important established families — Zobel, Madrigal, Cojuangco, Lopez, Ortigas, Araneta, Aboitiz, et. al. [ as well as the traditional or new cultured Chinese rich — Sy, Tan, Yao-Campos, Que Pe, et. al. ] — and you will see, aside from the multimillion peso works of Fernando Cueto Amorsolo and Fernando Montojo Zobel, the equally multimillion peso paintings of Vicente Silva Manansala, whom they knew in his lifetime simply as “Mang Enteng.”  The works of those three celebrated painters, combined with exceptional antique Filipino furniture, punctuated by rare Filipino colonial silver and ivory, and juxtaposed with contemporary art and furniture [ sometimes from Italy and France ] produce a definite look that says the family has always been there, is there, and will always be there.

Last night, I attended the opening of the commemorative exhibit “Si Mang Enteng… Encountering Manansala” at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila at the Central Bank Complex.

I went through the exhibit one artwork at a time…  My personal favorites, my odd tastes in art notwithstanding, were “String Players,” undated, oil on canvas, from the Luis Ma. Araneta Collection — if a painting could be said to possess chic, then that one certainly had it, in spades:  it could have easily hung in the famous Art Deco New York living room of Princess Yelena Ghiurielli [ Helena Rubinstein ] or the legendary PreWar Paris salon of Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles or even that of Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s;  “Kahig,” 1976, oil on canvas, from the Gretchen O. Cojuangco Collection;  “Sabungero,” 1977, oil on canvas, from the Ricardo Lopa Collection;  the serene and iridescent “Magsasampaguita,” 1974, oil on canvas, from the Ricardo Lopa Collection;  “First Lesson,” 1977, oil on canvas, Gretchen O. Cojuangco Collection — a not quite banal Madonna and Child rendition;  “Woman with Cat,” 1974, oil on canvas with gold leaf, Tony and Cora Lopa Collection.

I also liked the small “Trees in the Park [ Paris ],” watercolor, 1951, from the Ricardo Lopa Collection.  That one I could also see hanging in a Paris salon along with works by Maurice Utrillo and Raoul Dufy.

Stunning and memorable for the sheer number of lissome naked [ nude? ] figures were the mural-size, graphic “Lexham Garden” and “Voyager” charcoal on paper works, both from the 1970s, from the Louie Cruz Collection.  They would be fantastic in a New York penthouse living room with works by Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Definitely not for the fainthearted and often hypocritical Manila society matrons, they were works only the irrepressible Louie Cruz, with his matchless devil-may-care panache, could possess!!!

During the lifetime of Ambassador J.V. Cruz, his family was known to have one of the biggest collections of works by Vicente Manansala.


Merry mayhem of May

Understandably, the recently concluded national elections were the not-so-merry mayhem of May 2010 [ specially for the defeated ].  It’s a done deal and there’s nothing we can do about it.  So there but for the grace of God go all of us Filipinos…

Without those godawful national elections, the usual, annual, merry mayhem of May in the Philippines is the joyous, unending stream of town fiestas all over the country.  Starting on 01 May is the time-honored, traditional month-long fiesta of Antipolo in honor of the legendary and miraculous “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buenviaje” Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.  There are the weekend “Santacruzan” processions commemorating Santa Elena Augusta and the finding of the “Tunay na Krus” true Holy Cross, the most popular [ and the most delightfully campy ] of which are those of Marikina City.  The 1800s “Flores de Maria” ritual is still celebrated in many Laguna and Quezon towns like Pila, Laguna.  The first Sunday of May is the feast day of the twin Holy Crosses of the towns of Bauan and Alitagtag in Batangas celebrated with the “Sublian” and “Loua” rituals in the morning and afternoon.  04 May is the feast day of Santa Monica who is the titular patron of Angat, Bulacan and Mexico, Pampanga;  her feast day is also celebrated in Minalin, Pampanga days later on 09 May.  12 May is the feast day of “Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados” Our Lady of the Abandoned who is the titular patron of both Santa Ana, Manila and Marikina City.  13 May is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima and it is celebrated in many new parishes in Manila and the provinces.  The second Sunday of May is the traditional feast day of San Agustin in Baliuag, Bulacan.  On 15 May is the traditional feast day of the Spanish farmer San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria Toribia de la Cabeza, and every town who has him for its titular patron celebrates its fiesta — “Parada ng mga Kalabaw” in Pulilan, Bulacan; Binan, Laguna; “Pahiyas” in Lucban and “Pa-agaw” / “Agawan” in Sariaya, Quezon;  etc..  Forty days after Easter is “Piyesta ng Pag-akyat” the Feast of the Ascension of Christ, the town fiesta of San Pablo, Laguna;  the original “festejado” image [ heirloom of the Escudero-Marasigan Javier family ] is feted with traditional pomp and pageantry on that day at the Villa Escudero.  17, 18, and 19 of May every year is the famous three-day fiesta “Obando Fertility Rites” [ a Spanish Catholic adaptation of the Filipino precolonial “Kasilonawan” fertility ritual ] of Obando, Bulacan, where many couples wishing to have children participate:  17 May is the feast day of San Pascual Baylon, 18 May that of Santa Clara de Asis, and 19 May of “Nuestra Senora de Salambao.”  22 May is the feast day of Santa Rita de Cascia who is the titular patron of Santa Rita town in Pampanga;  her feast day used to be a big celebration at the San Agustin Church during PreWar.

Attending an annual fiesta in a typical Philippine town can be a lot of fun, but attending a nationally popular town fiesta — such as the “Ati-Atihan” in Kalibo, Aklan;  the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon [ 15 May ];  the “Kasilonawan” [ Obando Fertility Rites ] in Obando, Bulacan [ 17,18, 19 May ];  the “Libad” in Apalit, Pampanga [ 28, 29, 30 June ];  the “Pagoda sa Wawa” in Bocaue, Bulacan [ first Sunday of July ] — can be difficult, very difficult.  For starters, one has to leave home [ Manila ] very early, 5:00 or 6:00 a.m., armed with cash, light food, drinks in coolers, extra clothes, comfortable footwear, portable loo for the kiddies, a camera, a videocam, a laptop, etc..  [ Attendees who trooped to the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon last 15 May 2010, Saturday, left Manila at 6:00 a.m. and arrived 9 hours later in Lucban at 3:00 p.m..  😛 ]

For the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon, it is ideal to leave at 12:00 midnight [ or even 10:00 p.m. of 14 May ] of 15 May to more or less ensure a 6:00 a.m. arrival in the town.  One can spend the whole day anyway admiring the “kiping” [ colored, pounded rice ] fiesta decorations, looking around the old town, and shopping for local delicacies and native crafts.  As in all Philippine fiestas, there are the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” for everyone!!!

For the “Libad” in Apalit, Pampanga, it depends on what one wants to see…  On 28 and 30 June — when “Apung Iru” leaves for the Apalit church and when he returns to his Barangay Capalangan shrine —  it is almost impossible to enter the perimeter of the town after 9:00 a.m. when the devotees start massing for the processions.  28 June is the “Visperas” and “Apung Iru” leaves his Barangay Capalangan shrine at 11:00 a.m. for the “libad” fluvial parade in the Pampanga river on the way to the Apalit church.  29 June is the fiesta proper and there are masses the whole day at the Apalit church and a town-wide procession in the late afternoon.  30 June is the “Pabalik” and “Apung Iru” leaves the Apalit church after the morning masses for the fluvial parade and raucous procession back to his Barangay Capalangan shrine where he arrives at around 3:00 p.m..  From 22-30 June there is the traditional, big Kapampangan “tiangge” surrounding the Apalit church.  As in all Philippine fiestas, there are the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” for everyone!!!  Ideally, one should have a contact in Apalit to arrange day accommodations [ the bathrooms!!! ], meals, boat rentals [ for those who want to join the “Libad” fluvial parade ], tour of the town, shopping destinations, buying local delicacies, etc..


Funny story about the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” during the “Visperas” of the Apalit fiesta years ago:

That year, my good friends antique collector and creator of the “Museo de La Salle” Jo Panlilio, multi-awarded writer, director, and megawit Floy Quintos, and a very successful and famous showbiz personality whom we shall call “dear friend” joined me for the Apalit fiesta.  After successfully and literally eating our way through several Arnedo and Espiritu relatives’ houses in Barangay Capalangan and Barangay Sulipan, we finally exited through to MacArthur Highway’s heavy traffic on our way to yet another Arnedo and Espiritu relative’s house, this time in Barangay San Juan, the “poblacion” of Apalit…

Just as we exited from Barangay Sulipan to MacArthur Highway, “dear friend,” who had eaten so much, informed us that he had to go to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, as the unwelcome vision of heavy traffic loomed leading to the Apalit “Crossing,” “dear friend,” now sweating profusely and coldly, told us that it was imperative that he go to the bathroom immediately… or disaster for us!!!

“Mamah, EVAKalawkatigbak na talaga… !!!”  “dear friend” muttered frantically, shivering from the airconditioning.  With that desperate utterance he jumped out of the SUV…

So mustering all the courage he had, “dear friend” repeatedly and noisily rang the doorbell of the house nearest to us and requested, nay begged, to use their bathroom.  They very graciously acceded and ushered him inside their neat, newish house…

The quickwitted Jo Panlilio commented dryly:  “Ah, the miracle at GA-RA-BAN-DAL…”

[ Garabandal, Spain:  the site of controversial Marian apparitions from the 1960s-70s ]

Garabandal, of all things???!!!  The sheer nostalgia for the 1970s cracked us up!!!

With his characteristic perfect timing and delivery, Floy Quintos outdid the irrepressible Jo Panlilio by comically quipping:

“What Garabandal???  ‘A-PO-CA-LYPSE NOOOW’!!!”

“Apocalypse Now” indeed!!!  Bwahahahahah!!!

My face and Jo Panlilio’s were practically torn to two laughing our heads off!!!

Harharhar!!!   😀   😀   😀

Serious questions, stupid answers

Yes, I foresee that this blog post will definitely stir up a political hornet’s nest in the Internet… but these are serious, very serious, questions which every Filipino must address now, or forever hold his peace.

I have no objections to the election of Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III as the President of the Republic of the Philippines.  Yes, I openly and frankly supported the presidential bid of his far more educated, far more accomplished, and far more capable maternal second cousin Gilberto Eduardo Gerardo “Gibo” Cojuangco Teodoro Jr..  And I will never, ever regret it.  To this day, I still maintain, and always will, that Gilberto Teodoro Jr., in the light of his myriad qualifications, should be the President of the Philippines.  But given that current impossibility, I am amenable to having Benigno Aquino III as the President.  I hold him solely responsible for upholding and honoring the heroic and altruistic legacies of his legendary father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Aquino Jr., and his venerable mother, Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco.  They are very, very, very hard acts to follow, but I am sure that Benigno III is, despite all perceived shortcomings, genetically hardwired to follow in their august footsteps.

I eagerly anticipated the national elections because I knew that the results would represent the current mindset of my countrymen and the state of my nation.  I looked forward to the numerical evidences that my countrymen had finally become more educated, matured, improved, and hence have become more discerning citizens.



What the numbers revealed was nothing more than a dismal reality.  It was so dismal that it blew my mind.

Juan de la Cruz… How could we???!!!  How could WE…???!!!

How could we have given that mere number of 3,500,000 votes to someone so clearly deserving of the Philippine presidency as Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro???!!!

How could we have given that mere number of votes to someone so clearly deserving of the Philippine vice-presidency, perhaps even more, as Mar Roxas???!!!

And on the distaff side…

???!!!  How could we have given all those 8,400,000 votes to the deposed Joseph “Erap” Estrada and make him the second placer for President???!!!

???!!!  How could we have given all those votes to Jejomar Binay???!!!  Yes, there are all those benefits — free birthday cake, Php 1,000.00/xx cash birthday gift, and all-you-can-watch movies for seniors [ in posh Rockwell, if one wishes ], free public grade school and high school tuition, books, school supplies, bags, uniforms for the youth, but how exactly do those come about???

How could we have given the top three slots in the Philippine Senate to movie action stars Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Lito Lapid???!!!  Are we finally going to shoot the ultimate Pinoy action movie???

[ Personally, I think it is the job of actors and actresses to look good, hone their craft and do it well, entertain their audiences effectively, stay behind the cameras, and remain onstage.  On the distaff side however, it is not the fault of highly-educated and accomplished politicians like Atty. Gilbert Teodoro, Ralph Recto, Atty. Adel Tamano, et. al. if they also possess matinee idol looks since they already have the great brains and the difficult training in the first place. ]

How could we have reelected all those aged pit bulls and rottweilers for the umpteenth time to the Philippine Senate???!!!  Shouldn’t we renew it with fresh blood?

Pampanga, how could we have given all those votes of the 2nd congressional district to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo???!!!  Granting the fact that she has been a workaholic, intelligent, and effective President for 10 years [ at least we had a president who used her considerable brains and worked, worked hard, and worked regular hours, plus overtime, unlike… ]… shouldn’t we give a more idealistic, younger, and newer leader a chance to prove his/her mettle just like we did PGMA?

Ilocos Norte, how could we have made all three Marcoses — Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, and Ma. Imelda “Imee” Marcos — win their respective positions???!!!  Of course the years 1965-1986 were the boom years for Ilocos Norte, Leyte, and Manila, but do we have any idea what it was like for everybody else???  How could we repeatedly elect the vestiges and heirs of an infamous, reviled, and hated 21-year strongman rule/dictatorship to renewed power and influence???!!!


I point a straight, accusing finger at the Filipino electorate and populace and you can damn me all you want but I will point at you again and again and again…!!!   😦   😦   😦





The National Hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. declared:  “The Filipino is worth dying for.”  I seriously doubt that now.  I’m more inclined towards Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal “Let them eat cake!!!”

Do we finally give up at this point???  Perhaps we should.


With the election of the new President of the Republic of the Philippines today, 10 May 2010, the administration of President Gloria Macaraeg Macapagal-Arroyo finally comes to an end.  Of course, she becomes Congresswoman of Pampanga even before she steps down as President of the Republic of the Philippines — sort of like stepping down as Miss Philippines and then becoming Miss Balo-balo atpo Burung Dalag [ Miss Fermented Shrimp Rice and Fermented Mudfish Rice — Kapampangan savory staples ] of the Lubao Public Market — but let’s not go into that [ although when she becomes Prime Minister in a proposed parliamentary government she becomes Miss Universe ].  What I’m interested in is if we will eventually reminisce about her administration with nostalgia and longing, the same way many [ but not I 😛 ] are now feeling about the 21-year administration of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos [ 1965-1986 ]…

The thing is, as an ordinary Filipino citizen with absolutely no business or blood ties to government officialdom, I saw substantial progress during her presidency [ in a way I didn’t see during the Estrada presidency, not a whit ]:  new concrete roads from Luzon, Visayas, to Mindanao;  new infrastructure all over;  and best of all, a good business climate even during the recent Wall Street Crash — “due to the sound economic fundamentals of her administration” according to Vivian Yuchengco — which allowed us entrepreneurs to finally recoup the losses incurred during the Estrada administration which tragically coincided with the Asian Crash of 1997.  Although the long Arroyo presidency was less magical for me than the Ramos presidency, it was OK businesswise [ and that is what matters most!!! ].  I know it is myopic and narrow-minded of me to say so but personally, it wasn’t bad, not bad at all.

Juan in Green and One in Green

Juan de la Cruz wore green today to Gibo Teodoro’s “Miting de Avance” at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The edifying reality was there for all to witness:  for those who had long charged that Gibo Teodoro was being considered for president only by the rich and the middle class, the poor and the poorer than poor trudged cheerily into the stadium by contingents beating drums and playing other instruments — often homemade — from near and far.  The “Jejemons” and the “Jejebusters” alike were in full force [ new kinds of Filipino youth;  look up the definitions in YouTube ].  As evening came, Juan de la Cruz the true Filipino dominated the stadium’s 30,000 seats and +- 100,000 standing room, and the occasional rich and the well-represented middle class present were reduced to mere spreckles in that galaxy of Filipino economic reality.

In a stirring speech that did not promise more than what was actually possible, Gibo Teodoro again laid out his clear “roadmap” for Philippine progress:  quality education for the nation’s youth, specially for the poor;  quality medical care, specially for the poor;  fair business opportunities for all, be they rich, middle class, or poor.  In that enunciation of positive social change, he implied the destruction of the old, irrelevant, and shamelessly parasitical political order which has chained the Philippines to the cycle of poverty in all its facets — material, moral, intellectual, cultural, and others — for the longest time.

“Kay daming magagawa, kay taas nang maaaring abutin…”  [ freely translated:  “there is so much that can be done, and the heights that can possibly be reached…” ]  Without sounding messianic in the least, Gibo Teodoro imparted a message of youthful hope coupled with proactive dynamism expressed in his characteristic “can do” attitude, words, and gestures.   It moved me and not a few of us in the stadium to tears, not of sadness, but of a resolve to proactively change for the betterment of the country and our fellow Filipinos.  It shot right through to the simple, honest, and sincere yearnings of the Filipino Everyman.

In essence, the presidential campaign of Gibo Teodoro was “a voice crying out from the wilderness” for Juan de la Cruz, the Filipino, to wake up from the apathy of the decades and the centuries and to galvanize him to effectively handle, and profit from, the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.  Gibo Teodoro effectively showed that the “Filipino as victim” was no longer a valid concept nor even a reality by simply doing away with the cult of personalities; indeed he did not even mention the inadequacies nor the shortcomings of his opponents.   He reminded us that the answer to our country’s forthcoming progress and development lay, and lay deep, in each and every “Juan” of us.   It was a call to the soul of every Filipino.  And it was a call that did not go unheard.

And so, the aspirations of the proactive realists, influenced by Gibo Teodoro, go on.  And hopefully, someday, it will finally breed a generation of Filipino leaders who will collectively take this country to the heights it has aspired, and suffered, for so long.

The Philippines will never be the same after Gibo Teodoro.

WE will never be the same.

Something great has been put to motion:  something greater than Gibo Teodoro, something greater than all of us.  A new national consciousness of integrity, steadfastness, and patriotism has finally emerged.  And like all the great countries of the world and their citizens, that national consciousness will permeate and dominate our lives and put the interests of the nation and the common good above all self-interests.  And that will finally be the time when the Philippines can take its rightful, long-deserved place of honor in the community of nations.


Comedy Relief: Art Nouveau

My close friends remember this incident well from years ago, and it makes them guffaw everytime they recall it…

Two friends were going around the exhibit…

She was one of those incredible Binondo-to-Santa Mesa Heights-to-Greenhills-to-Forbes Park phenomenal reinventions:  As a young girl, she had lived with her family in a Binondo walk-up, shopped for basics at Divisoria, and studied at the nearby Chinese school.  As a lady residing in Forbes Park and holding office in Hong Kong, she shopped for her basics in that city’s top boutiques and for her luxuries in Paris, London, and New York.  Her idea of everyday wear was “Tsah-nell” [ Chanel ].  If it wasn’t a top brand and deathly expensive, she simply didn’t want it around her.

“I jas lab Art Nubow!!!”  declared Chinese heiress.

“Perfect!!!  Art Nouveau… and Nouveau Riche… go perfectly together!!!”  rejoined her friend dryly, rolling her eyes.


Comedy Relief: Overeating

My younger brother, sister-in-law, and I had dinner last night at the popular “Tao Yuan” Cantonese restaurant in Ermita, Manila [ it’s like the Cantonese clubhouse of Manila, where many of that community meet;  they were introduced to it by their friends Atty. Antonio “Tonico” Pedrosa Manahan and his wife Angela “Yanni” Laperal Heras ].  We ordered a lot and ate a lot.  Since my sister-in-law didn’t care for Peking Duck, and my brother, father of three kiddies that he was, was careful with his diet, I ended up eating most of it… not that I minded.

All that overeating reminded me of a particularly abusive lunch I had in Hong Kong with my sister some years back…

We ordered…

“Shark’s Fin Soup.”

“Suckling Pig.”

“Steamed Shrimps.”


“Braised Sea Whelk.”

“Deep-Fried Crab.”


“Peking Duck.”

“Yang Chow Fried Rice.”

The head waiter shook his head and frantically crossed his arms:  “No, no, no… This is too much for the two of you…  too much!!!”

“No, no, no, we’re hungry.  We’re ordering all of that!!!”  I assured him.

The food came and it covered the entire round table.  I was actually embarrassed because there was all that food and there were only two of us on opposite ends of the table.  We looked like greedy people, very greedy people indeed.  The other tables had four dishes at most.

So my sister and I ate very well.  Actually, I ate most of it.   😛

When we got to the pavement, my legs suddenly froze and there were sharp stabbing pains where my legs connected to my torso [ uric acid?  cholesterol? ].  I had to stagger to the nearest lamppost for support, where I leaned immobile, and in considerable pain, for a little more than ten minutes while my sister browsed the nearby window displays from where she stood…

Hahahah… but that didn’t stop me from crossing Nathan Road to “Haagen-Dazs” for five scoops of ice cream!!!

After that, my sister and I resumed our shopping… until it was time for dinner…


So if you hear that I landed in the Emergency Room of Saint Luke’s Hospital, you’ll know exactly what I was up to.   🙂   🙂   🙂