Birthday boy & girls

We gathered last night for dinner at “El Cirkulo,” not for the usual weekly lunch, to celebrate Jackie’s, Pinky’s, and Joe Mari’s October birthdays.  There were Nening, Marivic, Rica, Salie, Jiji, Mary, and I.

The food is always good, if not great, at Chef Jay Gamboa’s “El Cirkulo.”  And the service is good too [ a rarity in this city ].  We had an array of “tapas,” platefuls of them.  For the mains, Marivic had ordered “Slow Roasted U.S. Beef Belly,” “Slow Roasted Lamb,” and the veggie delight “Paella Montana.”  Matched with a very good Miguel Torres red, it all made for a lovely meal.

Rica gingerly pointed to the deadly “chicharon” in front of us and I made an incredulous face.  “You like that???”  “Gawd, that’s dangerous!  But I’ll eat it anyhow… hahahah…”  my lips smacking.

I related:  “You people have an idea of how ‘chicharon’ is usually the ‘last meal’ of so many ER cases???!!!  That’s according to the doctors at Makati Med and Saint Luke’s!!!”  The group laughed.

Marivic had brought a light chocolate birthday cake for our 3 merry celebrants.  She had sent her secretary on a wild goose chase to scour Makati for the perfect birthday cake.  “It was the only cake shop that would write all their names right there and then!  See… there’s Jackie, and Pinky, and Joe Mari!”   “We should have gotten from Marta, but you have to order the cake way ahead for them to write down names…”

The buzz was still about the successful “Angels & Monsters” auction of rare Filipino art and antiques by Boy V. at the LaO’ Center last 27 September, Tuesday, which I missed because of a business meeting but which Marivic and Joe Mari were able to attend [ although I had seen and studied everything the late afternoon before along with the gang — Paul & Co. — just as the items had been installed for exhibition ].  The great thing about the “Angels & Monsters” selection was that it consisted of Filipino art and antiques of such high quality and rarity that had not been seen en masse in some 20 years;  several of the items came from a major collector [ a sugar trader originally from Malabon ] with exquisite taste and the most exacting standards;  thus the major collectors and the Manila antique world were agog.  It was the usual crowd of “Cote de LaO’ ” — Boy V., Omeng, Kit, Tony M., Paul and Hetty, Renee, Stanley and Abbie, Joe Mari, Randy, et. al. joined by several “invisible” buyers — and it was a lot of fun, as always.

“Sold!!!”  enthused Marivic.

“Toto, even the 3 ‘blandon’ [ large silver candlestand(s);  1800s ] sold, for youknowwhat…”  Joe Mari related.

“Well, who do you think it was?”  I asked.

“Wouldn’t it be Stephen Z.?”  I speculated.

“Not Butch and Ollie?”

“Not Butch and Ollie.  Only art for them — Asian art — their furnishings are totally modern.”  Marivic recalled.

“Manoling and Rose?”  guessed Joe Mari.

“But they don’t need to buy anything… They already have the most gorgeous things…”  I opined.

“Unbelievable…”  I shook my head in delighted disbelief.

Characteristically, the group was already making plans for the annual Christmas party.  At Mary’s in Dasma.  Theme:  Spanish.  Marivic took charge of the food assignments.  “I make very good ‘rabo de toro’!”  Nening said, and we all agreed.

“Your ‘galantina de pollo,’ Toto!”

“But our ‘galantina de pollo,’ although good, is not pure Spanish.  It’s French-Spanish-Pampango…”  I protested.

“Never mind, it’s good!”  Marivic declared.  “I’m going to make sure the paella is goooood!!!  Last time we ordered, it was…”  she shuddered.


“Relleno de pollo then?”  someone chimed.  “Ay, that’s so ‘plebe’… all those raisins!”  I countered.

As usual, I got assigned the desserts.  Rica blurted:  “What if I brought [ your ] ‘Tarta Madrid’???!!!  Hahahah!!!”

Then the inevitable line of veteran party planners came up:  “Why don’t we just have it catered and spare ourselves all the trouble???”  Hahahah!!!

“What happened to our tours???  Our travel plans?”

“Batanes in January.  Because Gigi said so.  Gigi L. not Jiji S..  She said:  ‘I’m sick and tired of those Pampanga and Laguna tours!!!  I want something more exciting…  Let’s go to Batanes!!!’ ”  I related.

“We’re also going to Iloilo and Bacolod in February.  Joe Mari will help us with Iloilo;  Adjie and Nena in Bacolod.”  I continued.

“What’s next?  Shanghai?”

“There’s the Bangkok Jewelry Fair in January…”

After dinner, Chef Jay’s sister Malu Gamboa greeted the group charmingly and inquired about our dinner, which we all replied had been very good.  “I really admire the way their family manages their restaurants.”  I commented.

“They’re very hands-on.”  agreed Marivic.

And there was the inevitable social responsibility / philanthropic dimension to the dinner…  Rising from her seat, Nening declared:  “Girls!  We’re going to the Santo Domingo church in Quezon city next Friday, 21 October, 2:00 in the afternoon.  We’re visiting Our Lady of the Rosary “La Naval de Manila.”  And they’re making many improvements in the church.  We’re going to see where we can help out.  Game???  Who’s going?”

And just like that, even with Roman Catholicism just a tad unfashionable in Manila these days [ except in the ranks of the affluent and powerful Opus Dei ], swamped as it is with all sorts of extremely fashionable Christian fundamentalists in Hermes and Ferragamo…

“I’m going!”


“Count me in!”

“See you there!”

By themselves, those positive responses were already miracles…  what with everybody’s “donor fatigue”…

Leaving the place, it was so nice to bump into the coterie of Jimmy & Connie, Vivian, Jenny, Sonny & Bal at the lobby as they had had dinner at “Tsukiji.”

All the right food at the right place with all the right people.   🙂   🙂   🙂



  1. November 23, 2011 at 3:38 am


    Hi there!!! Hahahah!!!


    Toto Gonzalez

  2. Murvyn Rodriguez Callo said,

    November 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Filipinos need to know how to sprinkle their sentences with French words and phrases. Spanish is so… o ye que tal! Instead of “Gallantina” try “Galantine” or better yet “Roulade”. Instead of “raisins” try “Sultanas”… its Ottoman and sooo chic! Don’t say “chicharon” for its so baduy. Try “Lardons” (or if you’re really pretentious, try “chicars” and drop the “ron”).

    And always, always, end your sentences with the French phrase memorably uttered by famous New York socialite Susan Gutfreund, “Quelle Fromage!” Soon you, too, will feel Imeldific… or just cheesy!

  3. Louise Lopez said,

    October 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Hi! I just passed on The Versatile Blogger Award to you. Read and then pass it on!


  4. October 25, 2011 at 5:24 am

    Hi Ino!!!

    Thank you!!! I will certainly go with the gang one of these days.

    Best regards.


  5. Victorino Manalo said,

    October 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Dear Toto:

    Hi there. Please come and see the exhibit “Conscripcion: Imagining and Inscribing the Ilocano World.” It features documents on Ilocos from the Spanish period from the collection of the National Archives. there are also paintings, fabrics, furniture and other artifacts.

    Take care.

    Ino Manalo

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