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.

“Forgettable?”

“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!”

“Yes!”

“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.   🙂   🙂   🙂

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Musings: on “gilded lives”

“Oh-my-God.”  is all I can utter as my jaws drop to the ground…

Close friends tell me their life stories and I wonder why their considerable individual fortunes have not spared or even shielded them from life’s vicissitudes, or frankly, misfortunes of every shape, size, and impact…

How nice to wake up in 1,000 thread count French sheets;  to groom up in an entirely German bathroom;  to dress in beautiful European clothes, and shoes, and bags;  to have a delicious breakfast with family on china, silver, and linen, served by several household staff;  to go to work driven in one of your 12 luxury vehicles steered by one of your longtime, loyal drivers;  to hold your primary office in a prestigious corporate address;  to lunch with your business partners at the current best restos;  to dine elegantly in your friends’ equally beautiful houses with their similarly impressive art collections;  to travel abroad comfortably,  always B.C., with the better airlines and and to stay in the better hotels;  to live better than 99.99999 % of all people in the planet…

Or is it???

How nice to be rich, whatever that means…

But very much like the average Juan de la Cruz and the regular Joes of the world, they are, incredibly enough, struck down by everyday frustrations, personal and professional failures, personal and corporate bankruptcies, separations and divorces, family feuds, loneliness and unhappiness, unusual health issues, chronic and terminal diseases, and ultimately, even death.

Perhaps that is why it’s termed as a “gilded” life, not a “gold” life…  it’s only a thin, really thin, veneer of gold on the outside…  even if it’s “fire-gilded” or “dorado de fuego”…

The most glamorous Filipina ladies of their times

Appearances, appearances, appearances… as defined by the legendary Diana Vreeland.

There are just some Filipina ladies who naturally have “star power”…

The Power of Glamour…

Yes, they all pleaded to be “simple ladies,” but by dint of inherited wealth, ancestry, social position, education, and exposure, they were pushed to the forefront of society with all the benefits as well as the attendant responsibilities.  Also, their wealth allowed them the luxury and privilege of looking beautiful in their maturity.

Pacita Ongsiako de los Reyes-Phillips.

Conching Chuidian Sunico.

Monina Acuna.

Mercedes Lopez-Araneta [ Mrs. Jose Araneta ]

Victoria Ledesma Lopez-Araneta [ Mrs. Salvador Araneta ].

Angela Olgado-Zobel [ Mrs. Jacobo Zobel ].

Mercedes Zobel-McMicking [ Mrs. Joseph McMicking ].

Virginia Llamas-Romulo [ Mrs. Carlos Romulo ].

Carmen Planas.

Lourdes “Lourding” Alunan.

Charito Moreno.

Telly Albert-Zulueta.

Clarita Tankiang.

Angelina “Gely” Fajardo-Lopez [ Mrs. Francisco Lopez ].

Lourdes Luciano-Ocampo [ Mrs. Fernando Ocampo ].

Victoria “Vicky” Syquia Quirino-Gonzalez-Delgado [ Mrs. Chito Gonzalez;  Mrs. Francisco Delgado Sr. ].

Maria Paz “Pacita” Madrigal-Warns-Gonzalez [ Mrs. Herman Warns;  Mrs. Gonzalo Gonzalez ].

Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal-Vazquez-Collantes [ Mrs. Luis Vazquez;  Mrs. Manuel Collantes ].

Maria Luisa “Ising” Madrigal-Vazquez [ Mrs. Daniel Vazquez ].

Josefina “Pitang” Buyson-Eusebio.

Nelly Montilla-Paterno-Lovina.

Lily de las Alas-Padilla [ Mrs. Ambrosio Padilla ].

Carmen “Chitang” Guerrero-Cruz-Nakpil [ Mrs. Ismael Cruz;  Mrs. Angel Nakpil ].

Priscilla “Prissy” de la Fuente-Sison [ Mrs. Carlos Moran Sison ].

Nelly Lacson-Gonzalez [ Mrs. Dindo Gonzalez ].

Letty Lizares-del Rosario.

Nena Lacson-Garcia.

Celine Lacson-Heras.

Sonia Gamboa-Santos [ Mrs. Horacio Santos ].

Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco [ Mrs. Ramon Cojuangco ].

Marie Theresa “Bebe” Gallardo Lammoglia-Virata [ Mrs. Leonides Virata ].

Chona Recto-Ysmael-Kasten [ Mrs. Johnny Ysmael;  Mrs. Hans Kasten ].

Mary Hernandez-Prieto [ Mrs. Leo Prieto ].

Joji Felix-Velarde.

Elvira Ledesma-Manahan [ Mrs. Constantino Manahan ].

Maria “Baby” Araneta Araneta-Fores [ Mrs. Raul Fores ].

Angeles “Nene” Tuason-Quimson.

Presentacion “Presy” Moreno Lopez-Psinakis.

Imelda Romualdez-Marcos [ Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos ].

Zita Fernandez-Feliciano.

Cristina Castaner-Ponce Enrile [ Mrs. Juan Ponce Enrile ].

Edith Nakpil-Rabat.

Fe Sarmiento-Panlilio [ Mrs. Jose Panlilio ].

Angelina “Chona” Lazatin Mejia-Lopez.

Maria Victoria “Minnie” de la Rama Osmena.

Maria Regina “Regi” Lopez Araneta-Teodoro [ Mrs. Enrique Teodoro Jr. ]

Amparito Llamas-Lhuillier [ Mrs. Michel Lhuillier ].

Gemma Guerrero Cruz-Araneta.

Isabel Arrastia Preysler.

Cristina Valdes.

Gloria Diaz.

Toni Serrano-Parsons.

Maria Victoria “Marivic” Madrigal Vazquez.

Margarita “Margie” Moran-Floirendo [ Mrs. Antonio Floirendo Jr. ].

Maria Cristina “Maricris” Cardenas-Zobel [ Mrs. Inigo Zobel ].

Rose Anne Cu-Unjieng de Pampelonne.

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[ *The list is restricted to the ladies of the “de buena familia.” ]

The most beautiful Filipina ladies of their times

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…  Who are the fairest Filipinas of all???”

The Power of Beauty…

These are the most beautiful Filipinas as acknowledged by their social peers…

Pura Garcia Villanueva-Kalaw.

Guia Gonzalez Balmori.

Josephine “Nene” Beley Murphy-Cojuangco [ Mrs. Eduardo Cojuangco Sr. ].

Lily de las Alas-Padilla [ Mrs. Ambrosio Padilla ].

Maria Aurora “Baby” Aragon Quezon [ Mrs. Manuel Quezon ].

Susan Magalona.

Natividad Osorio-Aguinaldo.

Emma Benitez-Araneta-Valeriano.

Ruby de Leon Roxas-Roxas.

Rosario “Charing” Locsin Soriano-Lopez [ Mrs. Eduardo Lopez ].

Celine Lacson-Heras.

Imelda Trinidad Romualdez-Marcos [ Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos ].

Maria Soledad “Gretchen” Oppen-Cojuangco [ Mrs. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. ].

Aurora “Rory” Murphy Cojuangco-Lagdameo [ Mrs. Ernesto Lagdameo ].

Mercedes “Mercy” Reinares Arrastia-Tuason.

Ingrid Sala-Santamaria.

Sylvia Younge Montemayor-de Leon.

Amy Gustilo-Lopez.

Diana Jean Barnes Lopez.

Rosemarie Gil.

Margarita “Tingting” de los Reyes-Cojuangco [ Mrs. Jose Cojuangco Jr. ].

Angelina “Chona” Lazatin Mejia-Lopez.

Violeta “Viol” Delgado-Cojuangco.

Margarita “Maita” Favis Gomez.

Gemma Guerrero Cruz-Araneta.

Isabel Arrastia Preysler.

Gloria Diaz.

Margarita “Margie” Moran-Floirendo [ Mrs. Antonio Floirendo ].

Claudia Lopez Bermudez.

Cherie Gil.

Monica “Nikki” Lopez Prieto-Teodoro [ Mrs. Gilberto Teodoro Jr. ].

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[ *The list is restricted to the ladies of the “de buena familia.” ]

Marrying well

“I married young and quick, from a place of love and hope, but without a lot of discussion over what the realities of marriage would mean.  Nobody advised me on my marriage.  I had been raised by my parents to be independent, self-providing, self-deciding.  By the time I reached the age of twenty-four, it was assumed by everyone that I could make all my own choices, autonomously.  Of course the world was not always like this.  If I’d been born during any other century of Western patriarchy, I would’ve been considered the property of my father, until which time he passed me over to my husband, to become marital property.  I would’ve had precious little say in the major matters of my own life.  At one time in history, if a man had been my suitor, my father might have sat that man down with a long list of questions to establish whether this would be an appropriate match.  He would have wanted to know, “How will you provide for my daughter?  What is your reputation in this community?  How is your health?  Where will you take her to live?  What are your debts and your assets?  What are the strengths of your character?”  My father would not have just given me away in marriage to anybody for the mere fact that I was in love with the fellow.  But in modern life, when I made the decision to marry, my modern father didn’t become involved at all.  He would have no more interfered with that decision than he would have told me how to style my hair.”

from “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 380, Penguin Books 2006.

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June is traditionally the month of weddings in the Philippines, although it is already being superseded by December, so I think that the subject of “marrying well” is timely…

“Marrying well” is not only marrying rich.  Of course it’s the point, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  In its fullest sense, it is marrying a partner who has high career potential and prospects [ somebody who will be president or chairman of the company, CEO, COO;  somebody who will succeed the father at the helm of the conglomerate;  somebody who will start a successful, billion-peso fastfood chain;  at least somebody who will head the Finance department of the corporation…  correspondingly, somebody with substantial brains [ and preferably with considerable beauty ] to infuse into the genetic pool and to serve as a competent and suitable partner to her husband in his occupations and businesses, or at the least a trustworthy assistant in her husband’s business affairs; somebody who was expensively educated here and abroad, with the resultant savvy in the ways of the world; somebody who will bring her large inheritance into the marriage; somebody who will run the city residence, the country houses, and the houses and apartments abroad — with all their contemporary and old master art, antique furniture and objets, contemporary artisanal furniture, and all the other useless requisites of the charmed life —  to showcase one’s wealth and highly-educated, flawless taste; somebody who will look beautiful on one’s arm and serve — through her exquisitely-maintained, expensively-dressed, and magnificently-bejeweled self — as proof positive of one’s superior professional accomplishments, at least somebody who will produce beautiful children ], is financially productive, of good moral character, good manners, intelligence, and similar qualities.  Often, such a partner comes from a family that has long nurtured those sterling qualities and sustained those moral values through the years.  But it is ironic that often, such a partner also comes from a family that is tainted with inbreeding, genetic abnormalities, various health issues, inheritance wars, corporate struggles, endless lawsuits, kidnapings, if not outright murders, and other interesting and amusing attributes.  Last but not least, it would also be nice if the partner has good looks.  However, marriages to partners who look like aliens from outer space, with equally freakish characters to match, are very much tolerated and even desired when there are EE or USD $$$ billions, or even just Php billions involved.

Actually, I don’t know what to make of it…  “Marrying well” seems to be the furthest thing from the minds of the eligible bachelors and ladies these days.  Outwardly, great sex seems to be the deciding factor, but then one never really knows.  On the other hand, “marrying well” will always be the concern of parents, be they conservative Opus Dei, ascendant career professionals, or flower children, hippies, or even drug addicts during their youth in the 1960s to the 70s.  Because one still needs considerable resources to smoke grass, snort coke, and live an “haute boheme” lifestyle.  “Boheme” sans “haute” is “La Boheme” as in the tragic Rodolfo and Mimi of Giacomo Puccini fame, and that’s definitely no fun at all.

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In India…

“…   Soon she will turn eighteen, and this is the age when she will be regarded as a legitimate marriage prospect.  It will happen like this — after her eighteenth birthday, she will be required to attend family weddings dressed in a sari, signaling her womanhood.  Some nice amma [ auntie ] will come and sit beside her, start asking questions and getting to know her:  “How old are you?  What’s your family background?  What does your father do?  What universities are you applying to?  What are your interests?  When is your birthday?”  Next thing you know, Tulsi’s dad will get a big envelope in the mail with a photo of this woman’s grandson who is studying computer sciences in Delhi, along with the boy’s astrology charts and his university grades and the inevitable question, “Would your daughter care to marry him?”   …

“But it means so much to the family, to see their children wedded off successfully.  Tulsi has an aunt who just shaved her head as a gesture of thanks to God because her oldest daughter — at the Jurassic age of twenty-eight — finally got married.  And this was a difficult girl to marry off, too, she had a lot of strikes against her.  I asked Tulsi what makes an Indian girl difficult to marry off, and she said there were any number of reasons.”

“If she has a bad horoscope.  If she’s too old.  If her skin is too dark.  If she’s too educated and you can’t find a man with a higher position than hers, and this is a widespread problem these days because a woman cannot be more educated than her husband.  Or if she’s had an affair with someone and the whole community knows about it, oh, it would be quite difficult to find a husband after that…”

from “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 239, Penguin Books 2006.

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Most Filipinos, because of their nonconfrontational culture, refrain from openly discussing the prospective partner’s financial capabilities in the light of a forthcoming marriage.  But don’t fool yourselves, because they certainly bitch bigtime among themselves in private… and how!!!  Of course they’re very, very, very concerned about it [ specially if the bride is theirs and there’s this impecunious, opportunistic, carpetbagging, “ne’er-do-well” coming! ], which is only normal for chrissakes, but they will go to great lengths to pretend they’re not.  You will hear such heartwarming hypocrisies and fallacies as “As long as you love one another.”  “Love is all you need.”  “As long as he provides for you.”  “As long as she will be supportive of your goals.”  “As long as he is honest and works hard for the family.”  “As long as she can raise the children well.”  “As long as he puts food on the table.”  Well, what happens when all he can put on the table are potato chips and sodas???!!!  And what happens when she decides she’s bored with him and the children, resolves to do an “Eat, Pray, Love” thing, and runs off to Bali… or to Baguio if she has less Php cash???!!!

However, some families are direct, and they’re usually the superrich ones.  As the young ones say:  “They don’t make any bones about it.”

The superrich youth are routinely sent to the Ivy League universities — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, U-Penn, Yale [ also Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, et. al. ], to Oxford and Cambridge, to the Sorbonne, not only for their undergrads and postgrads, M.A.s and Ph.D.s,, but also for what is jokingly referred to as their M.R.S.s and M.R.s [ wives and husbands ]…

In fact, one wonders why there are few, if any, intermarriages between the last remaining Old Filipino, non-taipan fortunes [ although there certainly were/are/will be:  there is a forthcoming marriage of a Vicente Madrigal great-grandson and a Jacobo Zobel great-granddaughter early next year, January 2012;  Madrigal and Zobel were contemporaries — Madrigal was a self-made shipping tycoon and Zobel was a military career man from the distinguished Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clan ] — the Zobel, the Madrigal, the Lopez, the Cojuangco, the Ortigas, and the Aboitiz families.  One doesn’t hear of them marrying into the big taipan families either, in which case one will wonder who is achieving “mejorar la raza”…

During the various heydays of the sugar industry in Iloilo and Negros [ periodically interrupted by decades-long, near-fatal hiccups ] which created many of the country’s great fortunes, the sons and daughters of grand families ricocheted from one to the other, from one “hacienda” to the next, giving rise to the popular, albeit somewhat flawed, perception of aristocratic Ilonggo intermarriages and even “inbreeding.”  The Lopez, the Ledesma, the Jalandoni, and the Soriano families in Iloilo and the Lacson, the Lizares, and the Montilla in Negros Occidental were well-known in their circles for contracting “successful” marriages.

A generation of rich Lopez bachelors were cheerily advised by their elders to marry “beautiful girls with lots of money.”

A generation of beautiful Soriano ladies, all with a considerable inheritance, were married off to rich and promising young men of “good” Iloilo families.

The legendary Lizares matriarch “Tana Dicang” Enrica Alunan de Lizares ensured that most of her children married their financial and social peers.

A generation of Madrigal granddaughters and grandsons were advised by their eldest aunt that “It is as easy to fall in love with a rich person as it is with a poor person.  So make the right choice.”

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Manila is cruel in the sense that everyone knows, among husbands and wives, which side of the bread is buttered, more buttered, or make that generously slathered…  and the subject does come up during conversations, sometimes without reservations…

“Yes, Spanish mestiza, very pretty, even striking, but not rich.  She took all sorts of good, decent jobs when she was young:  kindergarten teacher, bank teller, etc..  He came sailing along.  Happy marriage at the beginning.  Now there’s just too much success and too much money.  As long as she’s Mrs. there will be no problems.  Even with all the mistresses she has to sit with through dinner…”

“Both grand families were very happy when they married.  ‘How suitable!  A wedding of equals!’  Big real estate married big real estate.  But there’s a glitch:  he’s a first-rate philanderer.  Doesn’t spare anybody, even ‘las muchachas.’  Has children with various maids.  She is in complete denial, preferring to cook her problems away in a house in wonderland…”

“You would think he’s so proper, aloof, and all…  No.  Like so many of his peers, he likes fooling around with ‘las criadas y muchachas.’  Has children with them.  Que horror!!!  But she’s not leaving him anytime soon.  Why waste all those Php billion Manila properties???!!!  She’s just making sure that none of his bastards will be legally recognized, despite the new Family Code.”

“There are all those rumors…  But I think they’re just mistaking him for his father, who was notorious for picking up the caddies at Manila Golf… And as for his wife, she wouldn’t know one from the other, and if she does, she certainly will never say.”

“I don’t know why she married him.  He was introduced to our group at a resto one night and he was some sort of penniless backpacker…  He even smelled.  Then he’s repackaged as ‘the this of the that’ and she marries him!?  Hardly ‘mejorar la raza’…”

“How can she allow him to treat her like that???  He treats her like a maid.  Sometimes, he’s embarrassed by her and has to explain to peers why she’s not from the ‘hood, although she is certainly ‘de buena familia.’  The truth is that no sane girl in his immediate set would have married him, cautioned as they were by their parents of his family’s eccentricities and downright weirdness.  Well, she comes from a crazy family too — her siblings are all rare birds —  so one of these days she just might casually walk out on him and he won’t know what to do…”

“When they became engaged, she was trumpeted as ‘la heredera de muy buena familia’ and his oddly bedazzled family, also very rich, pulled all the stops to welcome her.  ‘Que guapa!  Que simpatica!’  they cooed.  That was before they found out how fractious and leveraged her family was and she found out how miserly, miserable, and weird they were.  Now, it’s simply ‘No comment.’ on both sides.”

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Marriage.  As Tina Turner sang in that long-ago song:  “What’s Love, got to do, got to do with it???”

The whole idea of marriage is a tad complicated for my limited comprehension.  It is one of the reasons why I have opted to stay single.  All that winding and unwinding:  too many wind-ups as it gets on its way and too many wind-downs as it gets out of the way.  In that light, I’m perfectly happy with the comfortable menage a trois of I, Me, and Myself.   🙂   🙂   🙂

*unfinished*

The fruits of summers past

ANONAS.

ARATILES.

ATIS.

BALIMBING.

BALUBAD [ KASUY ].

BAYABAS.

BUKO.

CACAO.

CAIMITO.

CALAMANSI.

CALUMPIT / KALUMPIT.

CAMACHILE.

CEREALES.

CHESA.

CHICO.

DALANDAN.

DALANGHITA.

DAYAP.

DUHAT.

DURIAN [ DAVAO ].

GUYABANO.

INDIAN MANGO.

KAMIAS.

LANGKA.

LANZONES.

MABOLO.

MACOPA.

MANGGA.

MANGOSTEEN [ DAVAO ].

MANZANITAS.

MARANG [ DAVAO ].

MELON.

PAKWAN.

PAPAYA.

PINA.

RAMBUTAN [ THAILAND ].

SAGING NA LAKATAN.

SAGING NA LATUNDAN.

SAGING NA SABA.

SAGING NA SENORITA.

SAMPALOC.

SANTOL.

SINEGUELAS.

SUHA.

ZAPOTE.

Rizal in Rome

Dear Readers,

In case some of you would like to help raise the life size bronze statue of our National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal in Piazzale Manila in Parioli, Rome, here is a worthwhile project…  Donations are EE 1,000 upwards.

Thank you,

Toto Gonzalez

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Cynthia Romualdez Velez

McKinley Road,

Forbes Park, Makati City

February 21, 2011

As I went about the City of Rome last year, I visited the Piazzale Manila in the prestigious district of Parioli where hundreds of Filipinos, mainly migrant workers, converge daily around a bust of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. It is their gathering place away from home.

This year marks the 150th year since the birth of Dr.  Rizal (June 19, 2011). To celebrate this incredibly significant milestone, a life size bronze monument at Piazzale Manila is proposed to replace the existing bust which is currently one of the tiniest Rizal monuments worldwide.

The story of Dr. Rizal represents the courageous spirit of migrant Filipinos, the “heroes” of our generation. Today, Italy is home to more than 150,000 Filipinos. The legacy of Dr. Jose Rizal is not only for migrants, but also for the children of Filipino Italians who must learn to appreciate the life, teachings and patriotism of our national hero.

The Philippine Embassy to the Holy See, through the efforts of Ambassador Mercedes A. Tuazon, has been granted by the City of Rome, the necessary permits to erect the new life size bronze statue of Dr. Rizal. In coordination with the Ambassador, we appeal to your generosity to help make this project a reality.

The artist to be commissioned is still under consideration. It will either be an Italian, Giorgio Conta, or a Filipino master based in Rome, Tomas Concepcion.  Both have made life size bronze statues of Pope John Paul II which are now considered some of the best modern statues in the Vatican.

Total project cost is €28,000 euro (twenty eight thousand euros).  The cost of the bronze statue is €25,000 euro and €3,000 euro for the transportation, installation and improvements of the island at Piazzale Manila where the statue will be mounted. The park covers an area of 1,248 square meters with a beautiful fountain at the center of this mini park.

As the legacy of your generosity as a donor, your name will be immortalized on a plaque on the monument or in a time capsule in Rome.  Your tax-deductible charitable donation will be directed through the Center for Peace Asia Foundation, Inc., who will issue the charitable tax receipts. Ms. Lydia L. Sison is in-charge of receiving the donations address is 391 Dr. J. Fernandez Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City 1550 Metro Manila Philippines, telephone (632) 5311314.

I hope this project will find favor with you as it pays fitting homage to our national hero in the eternal City of Rome. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require more information or details. Thank you very much for your kind consideration.

Yours truly,

Cynthia “Cindy” Romualdez Velez

The ties that bind

We had a wonderful dinner last night for two dear friends, Rick and Regina, residents of Vancouver, on their annual visit to the “hometown.”  Being a well-liked couple, for the 18 days they are here, relatives and friends jockey for dinner, lunch, merienda, and breakfast slots to entertain them.  I knew this so I already requested for a dinner slot some 90 days ago when the annual Manila visit was just in the works:  I asked for 03 February 2011, Thursday.  I did not know then that it would actually be the first day of the new Chinese year of the Rabbit.

It was a cozy sitdown dinner for 36 persons at the “Gino’s dining room” of Gene’s “Cafe Ysabel” in San Juan:  Rick, Regina, Ditas, Gilbert, Nikki, Tito, Rory, Marivic, Lisa, Cindy, Chichi, Nening, Jackie, Ado, Amy, Butch, Agnes, Rose, Tess, Lulu, Tony, Marietta, Giging, Pepet, Eileen, Rookie, Ana, Noel, Vina, Tito, Patis, Serge, Salie, Martha, Edward, and I, Toto.

For starters, there was a table laden with Regina’s favorites from traditional Spanish-Filipino cuisine:  “galantina de pollo,” “rabo de toro” / “menudo Sulipena,” “jamon,” “chorizos,” “palitos” [ traditional puff pastry cheesesticks ], etc.;  the chef even added the gamey “chorizo merguez” of beef and lamb.  The guests could take their pick of any drink from the bar.  French champagne, Regina’s favorite, flowed freely.  Many bottles of “Moet & Chandon” Brut Imperial were on hand.

In true Gonzalez-Arnedo “Sulipan style,” “Croquembouches” [ cream puff trees ] of various sizes, candles, and spring flowers decorated the long tables for 20 pax, 10 pax, and 10 pax.  It was always the way the family entertained, still entertains, and will always entertain…

“On the table” were the house bread with herbed olive oil dip and truffled liver pate topped with orange confit and crackers.  The actual dinner started with “duck rillettes, roasted walnuts, & feta cheese on mesclun greens with raspberry vinaigrette”;  “roasted pumpkin soup with orange essence & black sesame puff”;  “smoked & saltcrusted ‘lapu-lapu’ with baby carrots and green beans”;  “mango & lemongrass sorbet”;  “‘cochinillo’ with cognac demiglace [ or traditional liver sauce ] with guava confit & wild rice with pine nuts & spinach”.

Dessert was “Chef Gino’s molten ‘Callebaut’ chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and homemade rum raisin ice cream”;  there was a myriad selection of coffee and tea;  Cafe Ysabel chocolate truffles and pralines made from “Callebaut” chocolate.

All the fine and interesting French, Spanish, American [ Napa ], South American, and Australian wines which accompanied the dishes were personally selected by Gene.

As a nod to Regina’s, and the genetic Lopez [ Iloilo ] sweet tooth, there was a separate dessert table that featured “Pasteleria Mallorca’s” genuine and faithful renditions of the old “Las Cibeles, Pasteleria y Salon de Te” favorites — Spanish “crocombuche” / French “croquembouche,” “tarta Madrid,” “milhojas,” “naranjas,” and “yemas” — as well as the traditional Gonzalez-Arnedo “sans rival” and large, special “ensaimadas.”

Every single guest took home a “loot bag” with “Pasteleria Mallorca’s” “argelianas,” “palillos de Milan,” and “lengua de gato,” which are the favorites of Manila’s establishment families.

Because everyone knew everybody else [ indeed, every single person had family, business, and social connections to each other ] conversation was extremely lively and that precious, high decibel level was reached — my personal barometer of a successful, even wildly successful, party.

No new people, no nouveaux riches, no arrivistes.  Just peers who knew each other, whose parents knew each other, whose grandparents knew each other, whose great grandparents knew each other…

Every single one was descended from one, two, three, or even four old Filipino families:  Araneta, Zaragoza, Teodoro, de la Fuente, de los Reyes, Cojuangco, Madrigal, Paterno, Vazquez, Earnshaw, Bayot, Tuason, Legarda, Prieto, Valdes, Roces, Lagdameo, Revilla, Zamora, Hidalgo, Padilla, Ongsiako, Gallego, Laperal, Litton, Manahan, Garcia, Casas, Cuyegkeng, Cu-Unjieng, Huang, Lopez [ Iloilo ], Ledesma, Soriano, Jalandoni, Jalbuena, Montilla, Gustilo, Rodriguez [ Bacolod ], Hizon, Rodriguez [ Pampanga ], Escaler, Gonzalez, Henson, Pamintuan, Guanzon, Valdes [ Pampanga ], Feliciano, Tinio, Gabaldon, de Santos, Aquino, Cancio, Ponce, Tesoro, Lopez [ Balayan ], Solis, Kalaw, Katigbak, Escudero [ San Pablo ], Gala, de Villa, Rivera, Fabella, Almeda, Yaptinchay, Singson y Chiong Veloso [ Cebu ], Osmena, Velez, Cuenco, Acebedo [ Leyte ], Pedrosa, Romualdez, Pelaez, et. al..

In essence, the group was a Filipino version of the old New York families of Edith Wharton’s and Henry James’ novels…

The ties that bind.  The stories of generations, the clasps secured by time.

Breathless

I have never had a Christmas season like this in Manila… I was actually out of breath dashing from work to lunch, work to merienda, work to cocktails to dinner… practically every day.  I can only guess that the Philippine economy is doing well, because the majority of people are in the mood to give and to attend all sorts of gatherings.

Aside from the Christmas parties, the lunches and the dinners with friends, there were family / clan reunions, gala events, “bienvenidas,” “asaltos,” “despedidas,” “important” weddings, baptisms, confirmations, children’s parties, debuts, “important” funerals, art openings, concerts, book launches, out-of-town jaunts, etc., etc., etc..

And the season hasn’t stopped… It’s just going and going and going…!!!

WOW…  *breathless*

Mythic creatures: Salvador Araneta

“Salvador, you are a voice crying out in the wilderness…”  his wife Victoria would say with resignation, every so often.

——-

After World War II, his business holdings expanded exponentially, and one would think that a successful businessman would just want to make more, more, and more millions of pesos for himself.

Not Salvador Araneta.  Not for the man who always thought of the common good of all Filipinos.

In 196_, risking the great displeasure of his wife Victoria and 5 daughters, he unilaterally decided to give Php 10 million pesos — an unthinkable sum in those days — to the Araneta foundation for the education of the Filipino youth.  It was an awesome but not altogether unexpected gesture that was so characteristic of his consuming altruism and profound sense of “noblesse oblige.”

On hindsight, it may have been the incredible generosity that actually assured the fortunes of his family in the decades that followed.

——-

Partial curriculum vitae of Salvador Araneta:

BORN:  31 January 1902, Manila, Philippines.

EDUCATION:  A.B. Ateneo de Manila [ magna cum laude ]; M.Ll. University of Santo Tomas [ meritissimus ];  Special Student, Harvard Law School, 1921 – 22, on Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Roman Law, Corporations, Negotiable Instruments, and Insurance Laws.  Received in 1946 from Fordham University the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

LAWYER:  In the practice of law with his father from 1923 to 1930 when his father died.  From 1930 to 1941, senior partner of the law firm Araneta, de Joya, Zaragoza, and Araneta.  During the Japanese occupation he lost interest in the practice of law, and after a few months of law practice after the liberation of the Philippines in 1944, he entrusted the law firm to his brother Antonio to dedicate his time to education and business.  He was also active in civic activities, church activities, and joined the government service when invited by the president to serve.

EDUCATOR:  President, Catholic Educational Association, 1946;  cofounder and first president, FEATI Institute of Technology 1946 to 1950 when he was appointed to the Cabinet.  The Institute is now a university;  cofounder with his brothers of Araneta Institute of Agriculture, named after their father, 1946.  In 1947, he took over the responsibility of financing the institute and it was moved to a two hundred acre campus at the portals of three cities:  Manila, Quezon, and Caloocan.  He became its president in 1955 and served until his retirement in 1970.  It became a university under his administration.

INDUSTRIALIST AND BUSINESSMAN:  Cofounder and president of the family corporation, Gregorio Araneta, Inc., 1952 – 55;  main organizer of the first wheat flour mill in the Philippines, the Republic Flour Mills, now known as RFM Corporation.  Before his retirement from business, he was the chairman of the board of the FEATI Bank of which he was one of the founders.

PUBLIC SERVICE:  Delegate to the 1934 and 1971 Constitutional Conventions;  Secretary of Economic Coordination 1950 – 51, and of Agriculture and Natural Resources 1954 – 55.

CIVIC SERVICE:  In 1935, he was a cofounder and today the only surviving founder of the NEPA National Economic Protectionism Association.  In 1939 he was the main organizer, together with then Congressman Jose Romero and Congressman Narciso Ramos who later became Secretary of Foreign Affairs, of a civic league to support the reexamination movement of the Independence Act, initiated by High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt.  The organization had the blessings of President Manuel Quezon provided it insisted on a dominion form of government like Canada.  After the war in 1946, he was the main organizer of another civic league to fight against the Parity Amendment to the Constitution and the Bell Trade Agreement.  In 1947, he was a cofounder and first president of the Philippine Constitutional Association.  In 1971, he was again elected president of the association.

AUTHOR:  “Economic Re-examination,” 1953;  “Christian Democracy for the Philippines,” 1958;  “Rizal and his Message,” 1962;  “Economic Nationalism, Capitalism for All in a Directed Economy,” 1965;  “Educational Philosophy of a University President,” 1971;  “Annotations to the PHILCONSA Draft for a New Constitution,” 1971;  “Democratic Bayanicracy through 64 Basic Constitutional Reforms,” 1971;  “Bayanikasan:  The Effective Democracy for All,” 1976;  “America’s Double Cross of the Philippines,” 1978;  and several others.  Contributor to many studies on economics published by the Institute of Economic Studies and Social Action of Araneta University, and to the background studies for the delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention.

AWARDS:  Economic Leader of the Year 1953 and Business Leader of the Year 1964, both awards from the Business Writers Association of the Philippines;  Presidential Award in the Social Sciences 1965, and in Economics, 1970;  Father of Filipinization Award by the Chamber of Filipino Retailers Association 1969;  Special Testimonial Award for basic economic thinking by the Philippine Chamber of Industries 1968;  PHILCONSA plaque of appreciation in connection with the Araneta-Tolentino debate on TV 1958 .

*unfinished*

_______

Acknowledgments:  Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro;  Carmen Lopez Araneta-Segovia;  “VLA” ebook by Bettina Araneta Teodoro;  “Molave of his Country,” Salvador Araneta;  “Salvador Araneta:  Reflections of a Filipino Exile,” Michael P. Onorato, The Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, 1979.

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