Monday, September 29, 2014

Eat Or Be Eaten: Don Day

For Rino's birthday, I thought we'd try Korean rather than our usual Chinese cuisine.  We went to one of our favorite neighborhood restos in the Maginhawa food strip, Don Day.  Woori-goyang actually has a better ambience and also offers eat-all-you can bulgogi on top of the samgyupsal, but they open only for dinner on Sundays.  We all prefer to have our buffets at lunch so we have the rest of the day yet to digest all that food.  So Don Day it was.

This was a tricky choice bcoz Papa recognizes only Filipino, Chinese, or Japanese cuisine.  He will also go to Pizza Hut or Shakey's or other fast food joints with us but you can tell he's not in his happy place.  He calls most everything else 'pagkaing langgong'.  'Langgong' literally means 'crybaby' in Ilocano, but the way Pops uses it is more in the context of 'phony'.  Pops HATES phony.  (He probably fancies himself an elderly Holden Caulfield.  Hahaha.)  Even my kids are familiar with the term he uses to describe what for him are not real food.

But it was Rino's birthday, after all, and he's the guy who should be pleased, right?  Besides, Pops needs to grow up sometime.  Hahaha.  As Boots likes to say these days:  whatdahey!

I think we all ended up having fun at Don Day. I was actually also worried about the two girls bcoz, so unlike my boys, they are finicky eaters.

Ate:  I can't blame them.  I was also like that as a little girl.
Me:  So are you telling me magtatakaw din sila paglaki nila, like you?
Ate:  Yes, exactly!


Well, the buffet in Don Day included fish fillet.  That the girls eat, and they had their fill.  We were laughing bcoz we had two separate samgyupsal grilling pans (or whatever you call them), and while our side of the table were eating fast and right off the pans, their side had samgyupsal piling on plates and getting cold.  Hahaha.

Gosh, it was so meant to be that my little glutton boys were born to me, otherwise I'd have no fun eating out if my kids were non-foodies like Vada and Rain.

Even Pops was happy, even if he didn't admit it.  He said he was glad he didn't drown in the last storm that flooded Lola's house, so he could still enjoy that lunch with us.  So morbid and hilarious at the same time, is our Popsy.  I tell Ches I sometimes feel like my father is my eldest child, the way I have to be looking out for him and calming him down.  Sigh.  Ate says the fact that I have to be the front-liner for our parents' everyday little dramas is Why She Buys Me Branded Bags.  Hahaha.  I love my Ate.

Pops hoarded all the chapchae on his first trip to the buffet.  It's Korean noodles, but it's still pancit, after all.  We were teasing him, walang masamang pancit kay Papa.  He also stocked up on what he thought was shrimp tempura, but whose filling turned out to be camote.  Hahaha.  Whattafail.

The samgyupsal and other goodies from the buffet were everlasting, but so were the smoke from the grills and noise from the nearby tables.  Well, like I always say:  you get what you pay for.  Being only two minutes away from home and with bottomless everything, to go with family bonding all around - the P350 per head we paid per adult and half of that for the kids was well worth it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


A new play opened at PETA after Rak of Aegis wrapped up its extended run.  It was entitled FnL, about this showbiz-wannabe Fil-Am guy and call center girl who both get this strange affliction of blurting out deep Filipino words from the epic Florante at Laura.  In contrast to the American twang and archaic Filipino of the two leads, their respective best friends go around spewing jejemon and bekimon.

Randy and I were so there.

We dragged Ches along since we needed a driver.  Hahaha. Ches pretends to cringe at these things that Randy and I love to watch, but he's laughing the loudest out of the three of us at all the corniest parts. Such a phony, is our Chester.  

Pepe Herrera played the jejemon best friend.  He was our favorite pedicab driver Tolits in Rak of Aegis.

Me:  Si Tolits pa lang, ulam na!
Randy:  Sana maghubad si Tolits!
Me:  Wala yatang nudity sa Florante at Laura .....


Tolits did not disappoint.  He's a natural comic.  Randy said he already appears on TV.  Good for him.  I think we need better actors on TV, and stage actors deserve to be paid more than what they get in theater.  His jejemon character in FnL had this thing going with the beki best friend.  Hilarious.  

Another scene stealer was the lesbian suitor of Flor in the call center.  She had the longest, funniest lines in a mix of Filipino and English, all delivered with a straight face and no hesitation.  Everyone was calling her Charice.  Hahaha.  She's a lot cuter than Charice, if you ask me.

Our favorite line in the play came from the beki:  "Sure sure sure!  Kelangan talaga tatlong beses ulitin ang sure?  Deadline na ba ngayon ng sure at di na pwedeng sabihin bukas?"


Friday, September 26, 2014


Cravings was one of our favorite restos when I was with MWC.  It was one of the few fine dining places in the area, if you can even call it that.  It's probably in the same level as Chocolate Kiss - it's not strictly formal but at least there are uniformed waiters to serve you and you can order soups and salads and not just mains, which is a lot more than what for-student type restos along Katips offer. Hence, it became the go-to place for the bosses to take us to if they wanted to treat us out for some reason or the other, or if we had business partners to entertain and the bosses dragged us along if only to provide additional warm bodies.

Cravings had a major transformation recently and we decided to check out its new look with the boys.  Wow, it is much improved. It used to be all dark and solemn, with the air of an ancestral home.  Now it's mostly white, orange, and gray, all light, joy, and brightness. I love the comfy couches and the Adirondack-inspired, white and weathered chairs.  

Cravings is of course known for its soup and salad bars that come when you order the mains.  I guess any kind of buffet is a come-on to us Pinoys.  I remember Thom and Paula and I stuffing ourselves silly with several servings of salad and soup, and still having enough room for our favorite main orders of the chicken cordon bleu, sizzling chicken, and baked fish - and then desserts.  Oh, to be young, wild, and free.

Those classics are still in the menu, and there are several new additions, too.  Yoshi had the cordon bleu, Ches the steak, Boots the ribs, and I the parmesan-crusted fish fillet.  All good, altho Ches thought his steak was not tender enough.  Boots was the run-away winner with his massive slab of ribs that were perfectly marinated and grilled.  (Boots LOVES his ribs.  I'm not a ribs fan myself, so he's always overjoyed when I bring home the Rack's packs that they usually feed us in office meetings.)

The best part about Cravings, tho, is its cakes.  Cravings boasts of only the best cake in the country: the chocolate caramel cake.  The boys and I LOVE this cake.  It is generously lathered all over with chocolate and caramel, and yet is not overly sweet (or at least not for us).  Be careful of their coffee-and-cake-all-you-can offer, tho.  Somehow their slices of the chocolate caramel cake are not as good as the mini cake or the regular slice or whole cake.  I suspect they scrimp on the ingredients for the bottomless version.

Boots is particularly proud that he is pinaglihi sa Cravings chocolate caramel cake.  I tell him it's all that yummy cake I ate when I was pregnant with him that gave him his yummy face.  Hahaha.

Yoshi is pissed bcoz I didn't really have any cravings when I was pregnant with him, instead what I had was an aversion to fried chicken.  It was so bad that if I so much as passed by a KFC branch in the mall or somewhere and smelled the chicken, I got nauseous and had to vomit.  So melodramatic, I know.

It's so ironic bcoz Yoshi and I are both fried chicken addicts.  If we were to get the death penalty for some heinous crime and asked what our request for our last meal would be, we'd probably have the same answer:  Pancake House pan chicken.  Hahaha.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


September has been my sick month so far.  An immune system that is down and stress levels that are sky high - make Jewel one sick gal.  Sigh.

How else to cope but to thank God and count your blessings.  At least I'm the sick one and not my boys, who remain healthy and happy (I'd like to believe).  Yoshi is even sweeter when I'm sick, always asking after me and giving me more than my daily dose of kisses and I love yous.  Boots likes to snuggle and chat me up in bed, and make me drawings of lighthouses and castles.  Ches does the hard part of taking me to see doctors and making sure I have everything else I need to get back in shape.  Thank you, Lord, for my angels.   

Thank you, Lord, that the sick days are few and far between compared to all the time we've had and have to spend with our family. They are just nearby and we can visit them every weekend.  We don't even have to go out and when we do it doesn't have to be anywhere extravagant.  Just spending time together is enough.

I'm thankful that my parents are still strong and able to see their grandchildren grow up.  Babette calls everything past 60 as the bonus years.  I hope my parents are 'made in Germany' (matibay) and not 'made in China' (madaling masira), as Babette says.

Thank you, Lord, for my nieces, who are so sweet to me and give me all the love I could ever ask for from little girls.  They are why I have put off trying for a daughter for so long.  I already have Vada and Rain - there is nothing I am missing out on.

(Overheard when Vada last slept over:

Boots:  Uy, si Ate Vada, in love!
Vada:  Love is sweet but disturbing.

I did not even know the word 'disturbing' when I was eight.)

Thank you, Lord, that my boys are happy and doing well in school.  Ches and I are so proud that every time there's an event in school, Boots gets chosen to represent his class and have a special participation in the program.  At his Boy Scouts Investiture, he delivered this long paragraph in formal Filipino and he never once faltered.  

Yoshi is part of three Hand of the Gifted classes this year - for Math, Science, and Music.  He was also picked to join this three-day seminar for student leaders in the intermediate level.  It will be held over a weekend at their retreat house outside of school, and I felt a pang when I realized I wouldn't be able to call him there and this will be the first time ever that I will have to let two days pass without talking to him.  Even when I travel abroad on business I make sure I talk to my boys at least once a day.  But he's growing up fast and I need to keep up.

While Ches and I have a low-maintenance parenting style, what we aim for first of all is to be good parents.  We drop everything for the sake of our kids.  Seeing them enjoying their young lives and thriving in school are more than ample rewards for all our efforts.                   

Another reason to be happy is that Thom has moved out of QC and into Ortigas.  Not only did he snag a well-deserved plum post at Meralco - it also means he can now have lunch with Pola and me on a regular basis.  Yay!  Of course this also makes him so much nearer for Pola and me to bully and pinch.  Hahaha.

Enteng:  Kaya ba 10-minute walk ang Matgalne from Meralco?
Me:  Kaya pag nag-flyover ka.  Or Waze!  Mag-Waze ka!

Enteng:  Ano pwede naming gawin production number sa fellowship night? Apat kameng new hires, all young guys.
Me:  Maghubad!  Gumiling!
Pola:  Maghalikan kayong apat!

HAHAHA.  We LOVE Enteng.

And even if I've been sick, I still consider myself lucky bcoz I managed to score not one, not two, but four copies of The Most Coveted Esquire Ever, with the Eraserheads feature and CD.  I was looking all over for it, to no avail, like all my other friends, and then I happened to be in Powerbooks buying some new novels when an entire box of the Esquire was delivered right to the cashier just as I was paying.  I snatched two for Ate and me.  

I mentioned this to Dr. B who turns out to have been looking around everywhere for the mag, too, without any success.  This was when we were in Greenbelt running an errand for the office, so after we parted ways I went to the Powerbooks there and just asked for a copy, on the off-chance they had any.  They just happened to have one last left, the very last one on display behind the guard, which is probably why no one else noticed it.  That became my birthday gift for Dr. B, and it certainly made him happy.

A few days after, Robby texted me, all sad bcoz he was not able to get any copy as he was cooped up at home studying for his law school exams.  He had given up hope of ever getting his own copy bcoz he thought they had run out, it was too late.  I told him I'd keep an eye out. And I did manage to get him one at National Bookstore while I was getting some supplies for the boys.  He sounded like he was crying on the phone when I told him.  Giggles.

Habang may Eraserheads, may Ligaya.          

Saturday, September 13, 2014


I was excited with the commercial run of Lav Diaz's Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, as his more recent film, Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, has just scored the top prize at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.  I've read how other filmmakers were lamenting how our country treats their kind:  if Manny Pacquiao or some beauty queen comes back from a win abroad, we give them a motorcade and a courtesy call in Malacanang.  If it's a movie that wins big, no matter how big, the filmmaker goes home from the airport in a taxi.  It's sad, right?

All the more reason why I was heartened to see the Trinoma theater fill up as Ches and I settled down for the four hour 10 minute epic that was Norte.  Get a load of that, huh.  We actually planned to see it earlier in the week, but there was a downpour and I was worried that our kids and home would be floating around somewhere in a deluge before we even got out of the theater.  Hahaha.

I will not pretend and say that Norte is an easy film to like.  The likes of Schindler's List and Gone With the Wind are long (altho still not quite as long as Norte), but their themes and scopes are way bigger, and there is no doubt these kinds of movies are what are called epic proportions.  Which is not to demean Norte in any way - it's just not what I expected in such a long film.

The themes of greed, violence, redemption are all universal, but the setting is a small village somewhere in Ilocos Norte, the story unfolds over the course of a few years, and you don't see any more than three lead characters, or maybe less than ten total of prominent roles.  Much of the four plus hours s-l-o-w-l-y ticks away with shots of the skies, highways, rivers, or the characters gazing off pensively somewhere.

These might all be par for the course in international film festivals, but in good old Trinoma it was all rather artsy fartsy.  There was deafening silence at the end of the movie, in stark contrast at Locarno for Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon where I read there were minutes upon minutes of standing ovation.  I would've clapped for Norte the way I did - enthusiastically - for all the Cinemalaya films I saw last month, and definitely for Barber's Tales.  No one else was clapping, tho, and I don't like drawing attention to myself at all, so I just moved on and out with the rest of the audience.  

Ches joked that there were only four events that happened in the movie, one per hour.  Giggles.  He also said the story reminded him of Crime and Punishment.

Me:  Kelan mo naman binasa ang Crime and Punishment?
Ches:  College.  Mga 100 days bago ko natapos.
Me:  Wait, you read Dostoyevsky in college?  Why didn't you tell me?  You could have had me at Dostoyevsky!    


Strangely, my favorite scene is the one in jail in Laoag, where one of the prisoners played his guitar and sang Dungdungwen Kanto in this gentle, practically elegiac tone.  I've heard that Ilocano song before in weddings, but it was only after I read the subtitles in English that I fully realized how beauteous it is.  I don't think there's one word that completely captures the essence of the Ilocano concept of 'dungngo' .  It is commonly translated to 'love', but I think it's beyond love - it also means respect and loyalty and even something close to reverence all at once.  You cannot ask for anything more than that.

I consider Norte The Mother Of  All Indies.  In most other indies, you have mainstream actors playing lead roles - here only Sid Lucero and Juana Change are recognizable.  (And I appreciate that Sid L. really and truly let his hair grow long and wild, and his tummy fat and bursting in all its carpeted glory, instead of the usual Pinoy movie style of just putting on a wig and a fat suit.)  Aside from Angeli Bayani and the husband character, I think most of the other actors are Ilocano.  I could tell from their accent.  

In most other indies, I feel that conscious effort to please the audience.  The filmmakers are creating their own art, no doubt about that, but I sense that in the process they want me to laugh, cry, think, or be affected in any other way by their film.  Which I appreciate, and which I thought was not here in Norte.  Maybe the aim was to elevate our taste, so we don't have to make do with what we're used to or what's already out there.  That's definitely laudable.  I've always thought that if you were in media, you have an obligation to enrich your audience, and shouldn't be allowed to cop out that it's the same old nonsensical, formulaic stories that sell.  Our indie films and plays have leveled up, but as far as I can tell teleseryes are still way down there.      

For the most part of Norte, I felt like Lav Diaz was just doing the movie he wanted, exactly the way he wanted it done. He did not even show any of the beautiful side of Ilocos Norte, aside from fleeting shots of the beach, sand dunes, and the bell tower of Laoag Cathedral (if I'm not mistaken), all as background.  For gosh sakes, this is the guy whose other famous movie is almost six hours, in black and white. Clearly he is not out to make rabid fans out of you and me.

You do not get any more independent than that.  To be so brave while doing such great art - that certainly deserves my slow clap.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Quirky Bacon

Quirky Bacon is in the quieter, more obscure part of San Juan.  Its claim to fame is that it's the brainchild of Lifestyle Network's Sharwin Tee.  Even without all that, the boys and I are bacon addicts, it doesn't take much to make us go.  Giggles.  It's quirky and it's bacon - what's not to like?

The resto is small and unpretentious, and they have one of the best staff around.  The waiters are not only accommodating but also quite knowledgeable about the menu items.  That may be a given abroad, but not so much here in the Philippines where the job of the waiters appears to be limited to taking your orders and trying to be cute (and often not even that).

I also LOVE the red water closet in their toilet.  I'm so going to get one of those for my next (imaginary) house.  Red is so country.

As if it wasn't enough to be a bacon-centered resto, QB also prides itself on sourcing artisanal products from across the country.  So the menu describes the dishes as containing cheese from Bulacan or herbs from Laguna, etc.  Slow clap.  The whole concept of nation-building, wherever applied, is always cool.

On top of everything, you can "baconate" your dish!  Love that word, baconate.  I've heard of Wendy's Baconator before, but I didn't know "baconate" existed. It's My Favorite Verb from now on.  I wonder if they allow the carnivorous likes of us to baconate even our desserts?  Giggles.

Bcoz the boys were having all meat, I went for the fish.  Ches had the burger (as usual), Yoshi the chicken (same same), while Boots ordered something called Bacon versus Bacon.  What a name, right?  Make no mistake about it - it's all bacon.  Hahaha.

We loved them all.  So good and filling, and reasonably priced, too. We had the bestselling ensaymada nut for dessert.  Yummy as well, but I only had a taste bcoz I was saving room for milk tea from Sharetea nearby.

And who would be in the kitchen preparing our food but Chef Sharwin Tee himself?  He even came out to greet us, and of course we had to tell him that Yoshi is our very own budding chef, and even Boots dreams of putting up his own resto someday. He chatted the boys up and gave them some tips. Such a nice guy, one of those famous people who look shy rather than overbearing.

Thank you, Chef.  You had us at 'bacon'.