Memory tidbit: Immaculate Sorbet

Perhaps because of the searing heat these days, I remembered the traditional “Buco Lechias” sherbet which was made in a wood-and-steel “garapinera” churn with lots of rock salt outside (to keep cold?).  As far as I knew, it was made in every good Capampangan household.  In Lola Charing’s home, it was made by the mayordomo, Benito Nuqui or “Bito” for short.  “Bito” was modernized to “Bits” in the hip 60s.  LOL.

I was a preteen in the late 70s (born 1967).  Lola Charing had passed on in mid-1977 and my uncle Brother Andrew FSC of De La Salle University became the principal figure in the family.  Brother Andrew had the most luxurious and demanding gustatory tastes.  In one of those phases, he became obsessed with producing an excellent “Buco Lechias” sherbet.  He insisted that the “Buco Lechias” sherbet of his childhood (late 40s) at Lola Titay’s (the Arnedo ancestral house in  Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga) had the WHITEST lychee fruit flesh, not the pale pink ones in the cans currently available.  Of course, the flesh of the lychees in the “Buco Lechias” sherbet at the Arnedo house was white, because Lola Titay and her younger sister Lola Ines used only fresh lychees bought all the way in Binondo.  So he sent Bito to Binondo/Chinatown to look for the whitest lychee fruit flesh.  Well, what did he expect?  It was the Marcos years and there were tight import controls.  No whitest lychees.  Just cans and cans of lychees with pinkish fruit flesh.  Bito returned with the palest pink lychee fruit flesh.  No can do.  Bito was scolded.  Bito was sent back to Binondo/Chinatown and — nobody knew how he did it — but he returned with the whitest lychee fruit flesh!!!  Brother Andrew finally had his excellent “Buco Lechias” sherbet with the whitest lychee fruit flesh.  Brother Andrew was satisfied, at least for that Sunday.

I remembered that at Lola Charing’s house sherbet and ice cream were served on etched crystal stems on porcelain saucers for everyday.  During beautiful lunches and dinners, sherbets and ice cream appeared on chic, Art Deco Christofle footed bowls on Brussels lace doilies on matching Christofle saucers.  Of course, I know all about the metallic taste that silver imparts to food, but I’ll use beautiful silver anytime.

The sherbet/ice cream phase did not end there.  Brother Andrew wanted a “Calamansi” sherbet.  He wanted it tart and dry, something like lime mixed with champagne brut.  Not sweet at all (Brother Andrew intensely disliked sweetish food that was not meant to be sweet, like spaghetti).  Odd, but “Calamansi” tended to sweeten slightly in sherbet form.  No can do.  It took Bito several tries to produce that tart and dry “Calamansi” sherbet, but he did, even if he couldn’t tell the difference.  Brother Andrew was satisfied, at least for that Sunday.

Now in 2013, I wonder why it didn’t occur to Brother Andrew to have a “Dayap” sherbet, when in fact fragrant “dayap” lime (“dalayap” in Capampangan) was used extensively — on practically everything — in our Capampangan/Sulipan cooking?

The best version of “Buco Lechias” sherbet that I’ve had in recent years — exquisitely and expertly tinged with “dayap” lime rind with a hint of French cordial — was served at dinner by my dear friend Albert Salgado Paloma, who is an equal (perhaps even a superior) to Brother Andrew’s luxurious and demanding gustatory tastes.  Worldly and elegant Albert thinks nothing of marinating Italian veal shanks in a very expensive French grand cru for his “Ossobuco” and of marinating goat meat in a very expensive French X.O. cognac for his “Caldereta de Cabrito.”  For Albert, luxurious excess is the only culinary way to go.  Truly Capampangan.

Back to Brother Andrew, the sherbet/ice cream phase did not end there.  He wanted the “Mantecado” ice cream of his childhood at Lola Titay’s (the Arnedo ancestral house in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga).  Mind you, it was not the commercial, vanilla-flavored “Mantecado” ice cream you can buy at the megasupermarkets now.  Brother Andrew’s inherited idea of “Mantecado” ice cream was of thick carabao’s milk, full of egg yolks, and “dayap” lime rind shavings.  It was golden yellow with sprinklings of grass green.  It looked so chic!  If Hermes and Chanel made ice cream, that would definitely be it.  So Bito produced our family’s version of “Mantecado” ice cream with “dayap” lime from Lola Charing’s rose garden.  It was ambrosial.  I would have finished off a gallon if I were permitted to do so.

Comedy relief:  Remembering Brother Andrew’s predilection for “Buco Lechias” sherbet, I am reminded of the time when, already severely diabetic with counts from 300-500 in the early 1990s, Brother Andrew requested his dear first cousin Dr Erlinda “Linda” Arnedo Sazon-Badenhop to make him some sugar-free “Buco Lechias” sherbet, which she claimed she could.  Two or three Sunday lunches later, she arrived with the desired “sugar-free” “Buco Lechias” sherbet which she made herself.  Expectedly, given the Arnedo tastebuds that she had, it was delicious and Brother Andrew was in rapture.  “Are you sure this is sugar-free???  It’s so sweet and so good!!!  It’s delicious!!!”  Brother Andrew rhapsodized as he rapidly consumed 5 scoops of the concoction.  “Yes, Brother!  No sugar, definitely no sugar!”  she claimed most assuredly, with her characteristic deadpan.  Later, when Brother Andrew had retired upstairs (doubtless dizzy from the sugar rush LOL), we asked:  “Wow, Tita Linda!  Your “Buco Lechias” sherbet was so good!  And it’s sugar-free!  What’s your secret??!!”  “Easy!”  she replied, “I poured all the syrup of the cans into the sherbet!”  “HUH???!!!”  Aghast, we cried out:  “But Tita Linda!  That’s all sugar!!!  The syrup IS sugar!!!”    She insisted firmly but comically with a naughty smile:  “No, no, no!  That’s only syrup, NOT sugar!  Besides, how will it taste good without any of the lychee syrup???!!!”    TOUCHE.    LOLOLOL    ROTF    LMAO    !!!!!!!!!!!!

So this is what this warm, warm spell does to me.  It makes me think of sherbet and ice cream from the past.  From the distant past.

These days, I am delightfully condemned to the highly unusual, positively weird, molecular gastronomy, New Age ice cream concoctions of my brother Gene and nephew Gino.  But it’s a nice problem to have.  LOL.

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Summer Siesta

Sleeping Beauty married Congressman Charming and they went to live down in the deep south where he had his kingdom, near the Water People.  It was her second wonderful marriage and it was his third wonderful marriage and they really wouldn’t be surprised if theirs fell apart as well, but it miraculously hasn’t.

Sleeping Beauty, needless to say, liked her beauty sleep.  And she liked her beauty sleep in cooooold, dark rooms.  On the other hand, Congressman Charming had several businesses, among them, cut flowers.

One really warm summer day, Sleeping Beauty went to the cold storage rooms to work on the flower inventories.

It was so cool and nice inside that Sleeping Beauty fell fast asleep.  But mercifully not for a hundred years.  Just for a little more than a hundred minutes.

Late that afternoon, Congressman Charming arrived at the cut flower business offices and looked for his Sleeping Beauty.  The company staff frantically looked for her.  They looked in the upstairs offices, downstairs offices, all the washrooms, the kitchen, the garage…  but they could not find her.

Finally, someone thought that he had heard Sleeping Beauty would be checking on the flower inventories…  so they ran to the cold storage rooms, fearful that she had been locked in and that her cries for help had been unheard.

But lo and behold… There she was sleeping blissfully, stretched out on 2 Monobloc armchairs face-to-face, snoring lightly and contentedly, for she just had almost a whole “lechon de leche” for lunch.  Congressman Charming had a good laugh.

“It was just so nice, you know.  Siesta!  So cooooold.  Exactly my style!”  explained Sleeping Beauty in her fashionable Colegio Santa Maria del Camino (Madrid, Espana) contralto.

And Sleeping Beauty and Congressman Charming lived happily for several years.    With Sleeping Beauty’s occasional jaunts to the cold storage rooms.

Well, they almost lived happily ever after…

(This is not a fairy tale.  It’s for real.)

Pyongyang Style!

Are we all finally headed toward nuclear annihilation?  *Yawn*

Good thing I mastered the dance steps of Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”  Hahahah.

Saging na Sabah ( Sabah Banana )

Need I say more?

While I am inclined to agree with the moderate views of a Malaysian professor at the NUS National University of Singapore whose article was posted by my dear friend, top historian Ambeth Ocampo in his Facebook page, there are many side stories to this issue which are very interesting…

Actually, I was with a group of very well-informed, hotshot lawyers and this is what they had to say…

“After Ferdinand Marcos’ botched plan to retake Sabah in 196_, the Malaysians retaliated by training the Muslim Filipinos as the MNLF, the Moro National Liberation Front. That way, the Filipinos would be busy with their own Islamic insurgency rather than think of retaking Sabah from Malaysia. Think of what immense trouble that was to all of us Filipinos! But talk of things going full circle: the reason why the Kiram Royal Army knew where to position themselves well in Sabah during the attacks was that they were trained there… and how!”

“It was the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the Malaysians who decided to ‘recognize’ Jamalul Kiram as the ‘rightful’ Sultan of Sulu instead of the most eligible contender in the Kiram clan, who is a medical doctor. That was because Jamalul Kiram struck them as the most cooperative and the least likely to make trouble; he is not as outspoken as the other contenders. Never in their wildest dreams did they think he could pull off an audacious act like that! On the other hand, that medical doctor, who was the most eligibile contender as Sultan of Sulu, wants the outright secession of Sulu from the Philippines.”

More later…

KunSABAHgay…

Asunder

We all think “telenovela” plots are way out, whether they are Filipino, Korean,  Mexican, whathaveyou…

But indeed, Truth is stranger than Fiction.

The following story is happening to friends of mine.  Although affluent, they are not “in society.”  But what is happening has jarred me enough to want to share it with you…

Jake and Faith have been married for 15 years and seem like the perfect couple:  both goodlooking, intelligent, hardworking, prosperous, and visibly in love.  Jake is a vice-president in a multinational corporation and has several businesses of his own.  Faith is a born entrepreneur, a hardworking businesswoman who imports exclusive boutique beauty products and other luxury items from Europe and from the USA.  They have no children.  After several tests, it was determined by the doctors that it was Faith who had the fertility problem.

Jake and Faith were unfazed, and since they had the resources, went to every single fertility doctor they could find.  After exhausting their list in Manila, they proceeded to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Bangkok, San Francisco, and New York.  None of the doctors could get Faith pregnant.

Unknown to Faith, Jake had become despondent and was losing faith in himself.  He desperately wanted to have children, not just one, but several.  For Jake, adoption of someone else’s child was totally out of the question.

About a year ago, on a business trip down south, Jake found himself visiting Bernie, his former flame.  Bernie is from a rich political clan, the daughter of an influential, longtime politico.  Jake had bowed out of her life years ago when he was a nobody careerwise and could not afford Bernie’s affluent style of life.  Unknown to Faith in Manila, Jake’s visits down south to Bernie became more frequent.  Before Jake and Bernie could realize what was happening, Bernie became pregnant.  Not wanting a scandal to blow up, her parents sent her to the USA to give birth there.  

Bernie gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.  Jake was delirious with happiness.  Bernie’s parents were not happy about her illicit relationship with Jake, not only because she was a mistress, but they felt that he was not rich enough, influential enough, and important enough for them, although they were very happy about their new grandson, a new heir to their political dynasty!  Bernie’s father sat Jake down and pointedly told him that the baby boy would carry their surname instead of Jake’s for as long as Jake could not marry Bernie and make an honorable woman out of her.  He stated in the strongest terms that Jake should leave his wife Faith and marry their daughter Bernie.

Bernie, for her part, also told Jake in the strongest terms that he should marry her, that he should have his marriage to Faith annulled ASAP since they could not have children anyway.

All that time, Jake carried on with his loving wife Faith back in Manila as if nothing was happening…

Three months after the birth of his son with Bernie, and ready to be expelled from their marriage and their home, Jake finally mustered the courage to tell the truth to Faith, expecting the worst.

But Faith, kind and understanding woman that she is, did not go into a rage.  Calmly, she told Jake that she was very hurt, but that she completely understood his situation.  How could he live without children of his own knowing full well that he was a healthy man capable of producing them?  Faith assured Jake that she was ready to live their life with his son from Bernie.  However, Jake did not tell Faith that Bernie and her family are pressuring him to leave her and marry Bernie instead.

Where do they go from there???!!!

I know Jake and Faith well.  Faith is a wonderful woman whose only fault is that she cannot have a child.  I can only conjecture what prompted Jake to return to Bernie and…

If this isn’t an unraveling “telenovela,” I don’t know what is…

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 320,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 6 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Comedy relief: Instagone!

Because her US-based nephew was in town for 2 weeks for his niece’s beach wedding in Boracay island, Parsimonious Auntie had invited her nephews and nieces for lunch ( siomai (( from “Forbes” notwithstanding )), what else???!!! ) at her Grey Gardens-style home in gated Makati ( remember the movie “Grey Gardens” from 2009 starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange? ).  One could hardly move with the palimpsest of possessions, of great worth and the worthless, since PA at her advanced age could no longer make distinctions ( not that she ever did ).  There were beautiful paintings ( Fernando Amorsolo magsasakas & lavanderas, Anita Magsaysay-Ho tinderas & chismosas, Romeo Enriquez portraits of the family trolls ), furniture ( enough original Batangas mesas altar to make the top collectors swoon ), and objects ( silver “paliteras” toothpick holders and “buyeras” betel nut & cigar trays from several roots of the tree, Ch’ing dynasty rose, vert, & jaune vases, etc. ), juxtaposed with PA’s latest finds from the 168 mall in Divisoria, “Wellmanson”s” & “Sophie’s” in Quiapo, & the Greenhills “Tiangge,” but they were all coated with what seemed like a year of dust, despite the presence of several household help, who had once complained to their mistress that she had too many things for them to clean, to which she replied matter-of-factly:  “Mayaman ako.  Kaya marami akong gamit.  Wala tayong magagawa tungkol do’n.”  ( “I’m rich.  That’s why I have so many things.  There’s nothing we can do about that.” )

The house looked frozen in time…  A beautiful niece, married to a superrich Asian businessman, was fascinated with already-“antique” perfume bottles ( perfume, not EDT eau de toilette ) in a vitrine in Parsimonious Auntie’s master bedroom, the lot of them from the 1950s, mostly from PA’s mother-in-law, Lola Bruja Mahjongera.  What fascinated her the most were 2 bottles, 1 big and 1 small, sporting capes and headdresses.  She had seen them in that cabinet since she was a small girl in the late 1950s.         

The nephews and nieces ( all adults, very well-off, with their own families ) snickered among themselves when they came upon their aunt’s big framed family photo from the late 1970s by a society photographer hanging in the stairwell.  Something was different in the family pic… 

Parsimonious Auntie had roundly cut out her former daughter-in-law’s face and replaced it with the one of the new daughter-in-law, whose photo however, was of a different proportion ( not to mention a different era ) to the former daughter-in-law’s body, making her look like an alien…  It looked “beyond ridiculous.”

Observations between the cousins were exchanged in hushed tones…

“Cutting ***** off and putting ***** like that…  so funny!”  observed a senior nephew. 

“Why didn’t she have that done professionally?  It looks awful!”  asked a kind niece.

“Ssshhh…  She’s proud that she did it herself!  DIY!”  an acerb niece warned.

“Hah???  She did it herself???!!!”  they all asked, incredulous.

“Do you honestly think she’ll pay for Adobe Photoshop services by a pro???!!!” the acerb niece retorted.  They all kept quiet.     

A witty techie nephew pointed at the family photo and quipped the best line:  “BUT HEY…  THAT’S THE ORIGINAL ‘CUT & PASTE’ !!!”

( “Best Face” by Android??? )

Bwahahahahah!!!   😀   😀   😀

“Bagnetized”: 3 days in Ilocos Norte

As with most things, it started with a call on the cellphone… from my dear friend Cindy R-V…

“Would you like to come with us to Laoag for 3 days?  Sept 10 – 12, Monday to Wednesday.”

“Can I get back to you, Cindy?  I have several things to check first…”

I studied my schedules and figured out ways to reconfigure everything just so I could “escape” with my friends to Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

“OK.  I can go.”

************************************

That late Monday afternoon, we all found ourselves at the “Cafe France” at the Centennial Terminal:  Cindy R-V, Naynay V, Raqui R-L, Evelyn H-R, and Pinky R.  Tata P sat with us while she waited for her flight to Bacolod.

The flight to Laoag on PR 228 was a pleasant and quick 55 minutes.  At the airport lounge, we were greeted by Imee’s staff who hung pretty red ribbons with innovative shell and coconut designs on us as a welcome.  We were whisked to a Coaster which took us in 20 minutes to our designated hotel, the “Plaza del Norte” in Paoay.

I did not expect much by way of accommodations because I had been visiting Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte on and off for the past 20 years and I was content with a clean room and a clean and functioning bathroom, no matter how basic ( of course that rule did not hold at the upscale Fort Ilocandia hotel ).  What mattered to me was that I was with good friends and that I would certainly have a wonderful time.

The “Plaza del Norte” hotel, all of 3 years old, was a completely pleasant surprise:  all white, clean, neat, spacious, and sprawling.  It had been a project of Bonget’s when he was governor of the province.  It certainly was of a new generation of hotels in Ilocandia.  My room, 105-B, overlooking the courtyard and swimming pool, was good-sized, clean, neat, and uncluttered, with a clean and well-planned bathroom.  I was happy with my accommodations, given my various interesting experiences with hotels in Ilocandia.  I knew I was in for a really good time.

Dinnertime was at the hotel’s “Cafe Ayuyang” and everybody opted for the all-you-can-eat Mongolian Grill ( although all of us went once and that was it ).  It wasn’t half bad for the limitless seafood and meats you could pile on, which were then cooked on a grill in the patio outside.  What I found interesting was that soumak ( a Persian spice which tastes mildly of Chinese “kiamoy” ) and cumin were included in the garnishes;  I put generous amounts knowing full well I would probably smell “Arabo” the next day ( well, periodic sprays of Annick Goutal’s “Eau d’Hadrien” took good care of that! ).  Kapampangan that I was, I had to make additional orders of “Bagnet” & “Kalderetang Kambing.”  The “Bagnet” was very well done and was enjoyed by everyone at the table.

We were already at the table when the other guests arrived.  Dulce R arrived, and so did Fe R-G.  They had driven up from Manila and it had taken them 9 hours.  Betsy & Co. would be arriving the next day for the D-Day ceremonies.    

( Cindy, her daughter Naynay, Cindy’s sister Raqui, Cindy’s sister-in-law Evelyn, Evelyn’s daughter Pinky are from the Miguel Romualdez line;  Cindy is his granddaughter.   Dulce is from the Vicente Orestes Romualdez line; she is his granddaughter by his first wife Juanita Acereda.  Daniel Romualdez Sr. of Pandacan, Manila and Trinidad Crisostomo Lopez of Leyte (( originally of Basey, Samar )) had 3 sons:  Norberto, Miguel, & Vicente Orestes ). 

( Fe Roa-Gimenez headed the personal assistants of Mrs. Marcos during the Malacanang years. )

After what seemed to be a long after-dinner chat with the R cousins, we retired to our rooms at 10:00 p.m..  I fell asleep quickly because I had not slept adequately the previous night.  We would also have to leave the hotel at 8:30 a.m. the next day for the 95th birth anniversary mass for the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos ( born 11 September 1917 ) at 9:00 a.m. at the old Batac parish church.

************************************

I was late for the departure time of 8:30 a.m.!  I was late!

Imee’s efficient staff briefed us on the activities for the day.  We were assigned a “Grandia” van driven by a kind Manong Erwin, who worked for the mayor of Currimao town as well as the provincial governor’s office.  We finally left the hotel at 8:32 a.m..  According to Manong Erwin, Batac town was only 20 minutes away.  It was a wonderful sunny day and we drove through picturesque Paoay… we passed by an elegant Mediterranean-style villa by the lake and were told that it was Rudy Farinas’, further on was the road that led to the storied Ferdinand Marcos resthouse “Malacanang ti Amianan.”  We passed Paoay town proper, by the famous “earthquake baroque” church, and I noted that the town plaza had been improved from years ago ( there was a time when the tennis court at the back of the church was the major development ).  We were disappointed to hear that the “Herencia” restaurant, famous for its delish and cosmo “pinakbet” and “bagnet” pizzas ( think of Manang Biday meets Alice Waters ), had relocated.    

We were yacking about “those days” and before we knew it, we were already in Batac town.  Probably because the van had an identifying mark or something, the police and the barangay tanods waved us to the “VIP entrance.”  Make no mistake about it:  It was Marcos town and the profound affection and great esteem accorded to the late President Ferdinand Marcos was not only visible but palpable even to non-Ilocanos like us.  We drove into the Batac church patio, filled with various contingents waving flags and banners awaiting the arrival of the Marcos family, the de facto royal family of Ilocandia.  We alighted from the van and entered the church, which was already nearly full with various contingents as well — men, women, youth.  Cindy led us to a vacant pew in the middle of the church when an announcement was made that the first 5 pews were reserved for the guests of the Marcos family; the people occupying them immediately stood up and transferred.  We took the 5th pew on the left side — Cindy by the aisle and me by the other end.  In front of the first pew were the individual pews reserved for the Marcos family.  A lady in black and white whom no one recognized sat at one of the individual pews.

As I was wont to do, I took in the church interiors while waiting for the ceremonies to start.  Austere, Ilocano austere.  I observed that the Batac church did not yet have “Imee’s touch,” nor “Ma’am’s touch,” nor the faultlessly elegant “Irene’s touch.”  However, I noted a beautiful, elegant lifesize statue of the “Immaculate Conception” in the center niche of the main reredo;  it seemed to be the work of one of the famous Quiapo ateliers prewar.  On the right side ( the Epistle side ), there was an interesting, overpainted antique statue of “La Virgen con Nino Jesus” on a niche, possibly early 1800s or even mid-1700s.  I was seriously studying what was before me when the other live Virgin, the Madonna of Malacanang herself, finally appeared…

A growing hubbub at the church entrance signaled that The Eternally Beautiful One, the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, had finally arrived.  She glided up the aisle, resplendent in a deep red silk terno and her signature pompadour, amidst the characteristic flurry of security men, assistants, politicians, and media — just like the “old days.”  Whatever one thought of her, the lady simply had an amazingly potent and lasting megawatt star power.  The excited congregation clicked their cellphones endlessly.  As she neared our pew, the group stood up to greet their “Auntie Meldy.”  She was happy to see her relatives and associates and “beso-beso ed” one by one.  When it was my turn, she paused momentarily and gasped:  “Ay, anak ni Poling!  Kamukhang-kamukha!” ( “Poling” was Froilan Zialcita Romualdez, her first cousin, son of Manila mayor Miguel Romualdez )

The group laughed.  “Ma’am, hindi anak ni Poling ‘yan.  Si Toto Gonzalez iyan, kaibigan natin.”  they explained.

“Pero mukha kang Romualdez!”  she insisted.  “Toto Gonzalez!  Ikaw nga!  Bakit hindi ka na bumisita sa akin?  Ang saya ng kuwentuhan natin…”  I just smiled and nodded.  ( Long ago, Mandoy’s daughter Eliza told me that her Auntie Meldy enjoyed my company, intrigued as she was by my knowledge of the Manila families, the establishment, the Marcos circle, and also of the New York, London, & Paris social sets, the top jewelers, etc.  — in short, my knowledge of her world. )       

She sat down at the end of our pew and exchanged more pleasantries, unmindful of the scheduled ceremonies.  At the same time, a steady stream of people queued up to greet her.  Natural charmer that she was, she was unfailingly gracious to all.

Signaled by Atty. Eden Volante, Mrs. Marcos stood up from our pew to take her place in the individual pews in front.  She looked askance and gestured towards the lady in black and white ( whom no one recognized ) who continued to sit on one of the pews, seemingly oblivious to Mrs. Marcos’ arrival:  “Sino siya???” Mrs. Marcos asked.  Later during the mass, we all found out to our comic relief that the lady was none other than the lector.  Hahahah.    

After some time, Bonget ( Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ) and Lisa ( Atty. Lisa Cacho Araneta-Marcos ) arrived with their security detail.      

The sprightly octogenarian Fortuna Edralin Marcos-Barba, the last surviving sibling of President Marcos, arrived, wearing a cheery printed red-and-white dress.  Mrs. Marcos greeted her affectionately with “beso-beso.”

Last to arrive was “Gov” Imee ( Maria Imelda Marcos ), looking morning fresh in white “abel” ( Ilocano woven cotton ).  No, Irene ( Irene Marcos-Araneta ) was not present.

*unfinished*

Birkinmania: The Hermes Birkins of Manila

Of course, it’s tacky to ask one’s freespending socialite friends, whether they are genuine establishment, fabulously nouveau riche, or the irrepressible wannabes, “How many Birkins do you have?” but one might as well ask as there seems to be a raging contest going on in walk-in closets and in chichi lunches and teas…

And I am NOT talking about the AAAs and the First Class fakes available at every “tiangge”…

“I only have 6.  But my daughter has 10.”

“She has assiduously collected 8.   She keeps them by her bedside to watch over them.”  ( Probably the only things she owns? )

“She has quite a number of them:  1 from Taipan I’s son, 1 from Taipan II’s son , 1 from Taipan III’s lesbian daughter, 1 from Senator IV, 1 from Senator V, 1 from Congressman VI, 1 from Congressman VII, 1 from Mayor VIII, 1 from Mayor IX, et. al..  She has more than 12?”

“I have 18.  And I want more…!!!”

“She freaked out when the ‘yaya’ carrying her Birkin was sandwiched between the elevator doors at Pacific Plaza towers.  She nearly died!!!  Well, the pobrecita ‘yaya’ was fired ASAP.”

“She has some 2 dozen Hermes Birkins among hundreds of  really nice bags in her 300 m2 walk-in closet in Forbes Park.  But she stopped using the Bs when JP and then DP started using them.  Hahahah!  Just wait until they move into the ‘hood!”  

“You should have seen her when her hubby’s champion golden retriever dragged her fuchsia pink Birkin through the dining room to the living room to the ‘lanai’ and made the bag his lunch.  She cried for days and days over her tattered bag!!!  It was as bad as when their big Cristal Baccarat chandelier in the dining room fell just before a dinner party years ago.  Maybe there’s something wrong with the feng shui of their house… ”  

“That’s her retinue:  There’s the ‘yaya’ with the smartphone, the ‘yaya’ with the Birkin, the ‘yaya’ with the child, the ‘yaya’ with the child’s bag, the gay ‘alalay,’ the bodyguard with the big umbrella, the bodyguard with the small umbrella, and the 2 drivers ( of 8 ), one for the day and one for the night.  Nice life.”

A taipan’s beautiful wife said:  “Toto, just to let you know that I am sick and tired of seeing women parading their Birkin for everyone to see, so I have been using mine as a gym bag to the horror of friends who love to show theirs off. Mine is stuffed with a water bottle (sometimes wet) and a towel and some snacks. Doesn’t that remind you of IRM who would parade her diamonds on her head (tiara) when Elizabeth Taylor in the same event wore hers underneath her ball gown, on her ankles, apparently the headlines the next day say:  ‘ The jewelry that Imelda wore on her head, Elizabeth Taylor wore on her feet.’ Not sure how accurate the story is though, but was widely gossiped about then….Hahaha… And just so you know, mine are real!!! Even if I shop at 168, I also shop at Hermes in PARIS!”

“Of course, I’m not going to pay attention to my bags, whatever they are.  What am I, nouveau riche???”  ( She isn’t, but megarich just the same. )

“Puh-leeze!!!  None of that stuff for me!!!  Why would I want to look like them ( a litany of “new tacky names” )???  Yes, we had them when nobody did but now…  EEEeeewww!!!  I’m happy with the darling little bags I pick up in places not known to THOSE people, thank you.”

“Hermes Birkins ( and Kellys ) are simply beautiful bags.  They come in such pretty colors, and they’re so well-made, like a genuine Paris couture gown!  They are the only reasons why I buy one every now and then.  The fact that they cost more shouldn’t be an issue or a factor.  If you like them, that is enough justification to purchase.”  reflected a doyenne of establishment society. 

“This is a very beautiful bag,” explained a rich, genuinely establishment society magazine editrix to her wide-eyed staff, “look at the quality of the leather, the fittings.   Observe how neatly and precisely it’s sewn together, you can tell that so much expert effort was expended to create it.  I want you to look at it, smell it, feel it.  In the future, girls, should you have the requisite resources, you should invest in bags of high quality like this Hermes Birkin.”        

The last word came from a ranking Frenchwoman who, with great curiosity and the requisite Gallic snobbery, asked her Filipino Spanish mestizo friend:  “I was in Manila and I observed that Filipina women use their Birkins in the evenings…  Don’t they know it’s a day bag?”

To which the diplomatic friend helplessly and haplessly replied:  The Philippines is a tropical country.  It’s warm.  There’s really no distinction between day and evening wear.”

“Palusot”!!!  ( Lame excuse!!! )   😛   😛   😛

The one and only Dolphy

From the mid-1980s to the 1990s, my good friend Jo Panlilio ( Jose Maria Ricardo Yaptinchay-Abad Panlilio ) and I used to see Dolphy, the King of Comedy, having “merienda” with his friends, usually 2 to 3, during our weekly afternoon forays to “Za’s Cafe” at “Hizon’s” bakeshop in Ermita, usually after our jaunts to interior decorator Edgar Ramirez’s Aladdin’s cave of decorative delights on Remedios circle in Malate.  It was well-known that “Hizon’s” bakeshop was Dolphy’s favorite hangout.  And we couldn’t agree more.  During that time, the famous ”Lola Cecing” ( Inocencia Flores Hizon-Zamora originally of Mexico, Pampanga;  first married Carlos Ramos and then married Eduardo Zamora Sr. ) was still alive and held sway over her flourishing baking and restaurant business which served some of the best Kapampangan goodies and food in town.  We would see Lola Cecing busily supervising the kitchen operations through the glass panels which showed her immaculate kitchen. 

*unfinished ( there is a punch line to this )*

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