December 31, 2008

Eartha Kitt, 81

EARTHA Kitt was some hot momma, back in the day when African-American women were still not accepted by mainstream American white society. But she broke the colored barrier with her fabulous voice ("C'est si Bon," "Santa Baby", and wouldja believe, our very own "Waray-Waray"?), and her witty characterization of Catwoman in the old Batman series.

She was my favorite villain in the show and rooted for her whenever she would put one over Batman or Batgirl. Hah! She would become one of the most respected singers, dancers and actresses in the United States. Wouldn't it have been great if she had sung at Barack Obama's inaugural?

Here are a few great videos of Ms. Eartha I found on the Net. Enjoy.

Singing C'est si Bon

As Catwoman (Walang sinabi si Halle Berry ke Ms. Eartha)

Singing Waray-Waray. (Sorry, audio only. But it's still a fun listen.)

December 28, 2008

Gov't peace negotiator's son in brawl

Another case of a small-town provincial politico trying to throw his weight around in Manila. And the father, a Cabinet secretary and newly-appointed gov't peace negotiator, did nothing to stop it. Peace negotiator, indeed.

(UPDATE 12/31/08: Sorry guys, I had to delete the video of businessman Delfin dela Paz – who was mauled by the son of Agrarian Reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. – being interviewed by ABS-CBN News. It seems that the news site doesn't archive its videos and so the one I had posted earlier, is now about Jinky Pacquiao having given birth. Who cares? Apparently, ABS-CBN does. Oh brother.)

Anyhoo, check out the blog of the victims' daughter/sister for more details.

December 27, 2008

All I want for Christmas, part 2

I ASKED new friends and familiar faces that if they had any wish, and barring any thought to the cost of the gift, what would they want to receive this Christmas. Here are more wish lists for the holidays (Click here)

December 22, 2008

December 20, 2008

Don't say I didn't warn you

Philippines Moves to Fight Pig Ebola
Dec. 19, 2008

But health officials say it is too early to rule out a possible threat to humans, and expressed concern over the fact that this incident, first revealed in an Oct. 30 teleconference between the Philippine government and U.S. health authorities, wasn't made public until a news conference for local media in Manila last week. (Read the rest in Wall St. Journal.)

(Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap)

What a coincidence, but shortly after reading this, I received a phone call from a leader in the local hog industry who was calling about a totally unrelated matter, but after peppering him w/ questions about the issue, admitted that they tried to dissuade Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap from publicly announcing the Ebola Reston virus outbreak.

If not for the insistence of the World Health Organization, OIE, and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the DA officials would've kept quiet on the issue, leaving the public in the dark about possible risks to our health. Salamat Arthur Yap, ang galing mo talaga.

UPDATE (Dec. 20, 2008,11:58 AM): I've just been told that a similar WHO story was supposed to have been published in a major broadsheet today but was killed, not just by the editors, but by the WHO officials themselves. The WHO officials were supposedly afraid to offend the presidentita. Tsk, tsk...when even a global org such as WHO turns on its tail on a vital issue such as this, and gets caught up in the politics of a country it's in, then it is useless. Afraid to offend Malacañang but not afraid to risk the health of Pinoys, ey? Tsk, tsk.

December 18, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

Something Like Life
Dec. 19, 2008

ONCE a year, I usually try to get other people to do my job by asking them to contribute their thoughts for my Christmas column...hahaha. This time I’ve asked a number of friends here and abroad to tell me what they wish for this holiday season. Not that I’m in any position to grant any of them.

A few of them are new friends and familiar names you read in our “very interesting, award-winning paper” almost every day. Others, meanwhile, are friends from way back whom I’ve been able to reconnect with via Facebook. (Okay, here I go again, but as Pangs would say, “If you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist!” And no, Connie, I am not spending too much time on it that you should look for a boyfriend for me. Then again, sige, look for a boyfriend for me, or at least a part-time lover, preferably 30 years young and below, nyahaha!)

So I asked if they had any wish, and barring any thought to the cost of the gift, what would they want to receive this Christmas? I told my friends it didn’t matter if it was something as simple as the new Apple iPhone 3G or as fantastic as a ride on the space shuttle, or perhaps an audience with the Pope or the Dalai Lama and, while we’re at it, how about a house in Alaska so you can see Russia from your backyard?! The thing was to just take the question and give me answers off the top of their heads.

I also strictly instructed them that they not give me any “let there be peace on Earth” answers, or any response that would be worthy of a contestant in the Miss Universe pageant (or worse, the Bb. Pilipinas...oops!). Of course, there are still those who persisted in gunning for the Miss Congeniality award, but most let it rip and thought out of the box.

(Chef Sau del Rosario)

So Merry Christmas everybody! Read on and find out what’s on everyone else’s wish list this Yuletide season.

• Sen. MAR Roxas II, Liberal Party presidential candidate for the 2010 elections

A few days rest in Baguio, a good book, a fireplace to read by and Korina beside me.

• Chef Sau del Rosario, culinary consultant and owner, Kingdom, a Thai restaurant in Angeles, Pampanga

Can I ask for a driver as a Christmas wish? Okay, somebody give me an iPhone since I cannot afford it anymore after paying all my staff and chefs their 13th-month pay and bonuses. I still own this old Sony Ericsson P910i which I lost in Cebu and was returned to me—maybe because it is too old to keep. Hahaha. Seriously, can I get a driver, Santa?

• Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, media darling

Get a job abroad with a good retirement plan; get off the fast track in my public career; my only grandkid will be driven by less demons than I have; my second grandkid coming next year will not suffer hang-ups over me; and that I shall die ahead of everybody else I love.

• Rowena “Weng” Orejana, ex-reporter of ABS-CBN News and recently landed migrant in Auckland, New Zealand, with husband Gene Orejana and their four children.

I wish for a job this Christmas. Hahaha. But seriously, I need one so I can get my permanent residency here. It would give us the stability we need.

• Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr., head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

My Christmas wish is to be able to wake up and watch the sunrise with my wife, Elma, on Christmas Island in Kiribati, the first inhabited island where the rays of a new year strike, because I would always want to begin the day with her.

(Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. and wife Elma)

• Neric Acosta, former congressman of the First District of Bukidnon, now professor at the Asian Institute of Management and environment advocate

I’d wish for WATER, WATER, WATER...fresh, clean, gurgling, abundant, life-giving concretely, I’d ask for a thousand indigenous tree seedlings for every village to plant in a watershed area. I saw this flourishing in the Greenbelt Movement of Kenya when I visited with Prof. Wagari Maathai in 2005, the year she won the Nobel Peace Prize. If each village planted hundreds of trees every Christmas, we’d be healing a battered Earth and reaping the bounties of a greener, cleaner country for years to come. Oh, and one more Christmas gift: a ticket to witness the Obama presidential inauguration.

More star-studded Christmas wish-lists next week...

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photos, except for Chef Sau's, are courtesy of the profiled interviewees.)

December 17, 2008


YESTERDAY morning, around 11 am, I was in a cab w/ my mom and the maid. We were traveling along Visayas Ave. on our way to the Edsa Shangri-La Plaza mall where my mom had an appointment w/ her eye doctor at the American Eye Center.

Mama and I were in the usual chatty mode, when another cab drove by on our left, and I saw two men riding in the backseat, pummeling someone I couldn't see. I was aghast and told my mom about it, and I could see even their cab driver taking a look at the back while he was driving. He didn't even look a bit concerned, just checking things out.

I took out my cellphone because I wanted to help whoever was in that cab, but was stumped. Who do I call? We have no 911 emergency hotline here that could immediately connect to a police station, so I felt utterly useless and helpless at the situation. The cab w/ the unknown person being beaten up, then made a left into the Shell gas station into our village and was gone. Our cabbie said it must have been a kidnap victim.

I was in shock. I absolutely didn't know what to do. I texted my friend to tell him about it, but what could he do except feel sorry for me for being unable to do anything? As we finally made our way into Edsa from East Ave., I saw a parked police car, with the cop inside asleep, his mouth wide open. And I thought, if only I knew the phone number of the Quezon City police department, maybe I could have helped that person who was being beaten up. The cops could have maybe heard my report and sent the patrol car to scout the area to look for that cab w/ the mysterious passengers.

I have never felt so worthless in my entire life. And I just hope whoever that person in the cab was, that he or she survived the attack.

December 16, 2008

December 13, 2008

Ebola in your pork

OKAY, I'm really swearing off pork now. Sure, I've said it before, and have fallen off the wagon since Christmas last year (ang sarap kasi ng jamon!), but this time I truly, sincerely mean it.

So the Dept. of Agriculture is saying that the ebola reston virus is only specific to hogs. It won't transfer to humans and infect us like the ebola virus which makes people literally bleed through every orifice in their head (nose, mouth, eyes). But the ebola virus that broke out in the African continent, if you recall, was transmitted via animals (birds, reptiles, amphibians) as well. One gets infected if he is exposed to contaminated blood of these animals.

What is troubling is that the ebola reston virus, is actually airborne. So potentially, it could be more fatal. Btw, didn't they say that the mad cow disease was specific to cows also? And yet so many people died from mad cow disease after eating tainted beef.

So uh-uh, I'm not taking any chances. I'm quitting pork.

* * * *

SO why are some people raising a fuss about MAR Roxas cussing in public? and against the Cha-cha? E nainis sya talaga, so WTF?! I know some people in Malacañang who use cuss words worse than your P*****I**, and in Spanish at that!

Tigilan mo na' yang drama mo, Jess Dureza. You're just trying to divert attention from the real issue, w/c is the evil, diabolical, and sinister Cha-Cha move of your amo the presidentita and her minions. Talk about "stooping so low"...I think engaging in corrupt activities like this government has, and the presidentita trying to extend her term beyond Constitutional limits are even lower and more foul than MAR using crude language.

P*****I** talaga!

Roaches attack Zest Air passengers...eeew!

LAST week I received an email w/c apparently has been making the rounds of several friends in the tourism business and email groups. I am publishing it to warn travelers about the hazards of riding on Zest Airways (formerly Asian Spirit), which in the past, I've written about because they flew w/o any insurance. I forwarded the same email to Butch Rodriguez, the carrier's VP for Commercial Affairs and official spokesman, but have not received any reaction to email writer Ms. Polintan's concerns.

Gee, Seair's Nikos Gitsis must be thanking his lucky stars he didn't accept the buy-out offer of Zest Airways' Alfredo Yao.

Here's the email:
On Tue, 11/25/08, Marge Polintan <******> wrote:

Customer Relations/ZEST AIR:

We are a party of 17 (15 adults and 2 minors) who all took the Manila-Caticlan on Nov. 22 and returned to Manila on Nov. 24 via Kalibo-Manila when our return flight was diverted from Caticlan to Kalibo.

We checked in all 17 of us at Caticlan about 4:10PM only to be told that we have to motor to Kalibo as our flight was diverted. When we asked why, we were given the most stupid reasons that only a moron can accept. Your MR. RODEL URGUELLES informed us that the plane could not take off as sunset was at 5:20. (1) Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:00PM so clearly we would have been up in the sky when sunset was supposedly setting in. (2) Another stupid reason given to us was that the Caticlan airport had no runway lights making it impossible for us to take off!!!! Why in heaven's name do you schedule late afternoon flights knowing that the Caticlan airport is not fitted with lights (I seriously doubt if is this is true). (3) We also asked why we were not contacted to let us know that they were moving our flight earlier. They were able to contact us before we left Manila that our departure was moved to an earlier time. (4) We informed your Mr Urguelles that we had a pregnant lady in our party and were concerned about the long trip from Caticlan to Kalibo. We were asking for a guarantee that should she suffer a miscarriage, the airline will be made answerable for it. Of course he could not give any guarantee. Having no choice we took the risk and motored to Kalibo for a good one hour motor ride. Upon reaching Kalibo, we found out that two other Zest Air flights were likewise diverted. We were made to wait some more as the planes coming from Manila were delayed. I surmised that this was the main reason why our flights were moved from Caticlan to Kalibo.

We were finally herded to an airplane for our flight to Manila. With grumbling stomachs and exhausted from the trip from Caticlan, we had to make our way inside the airplane in darkness. When we asked the flight attendant why there were NO cabin lights, we got another STUPID response and were informed that they are conserving energy and therefore we have to grope for our seats in darkness without any airconditioning. Madilim na Mainit pa!!!!!! What would have been a one hour flight seemed like an eternity as it took us about an hour and a half to reach Manila in darkness.

Having undergone all these nerve wracking experience what was more irritating apart from the stupidity of your staff is the fact that they did not even offer any apology for all the inconvenience we were experiencing. I think you should all go back to school and take courses on basics of good manners, effective management and people skills. Your staff is sorely lacking in all of these!!!!!!

This is our first and last time we are flying ZEST AIR. You can be assured that the 17 of us will be your worst advertisement and will make it a point to inform all our friends and other concerned agencies.


AFTER two weeks, below is the response of Zest Air's Customer relations department. Geez, not even a personal call to apologize to Ms. Polintan? No offer of a comp hassle-free trip next time? How totally lacking in respect for their passengers. Tsk, tsk.

From: Customer relations
To: Marge Polintan <******>
Sent: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 3:53:54 PM


I apologize for the inconvenience and have noted your concerns and complaints, the old planes will be grounded and 5 new planes will be in placed.

Best regards

NOW I know Rodel Arguelles, who has been Asian Spirit's Caticlan station manager for the longest time. I've never had a problem w/ him. He has been one of the more efficient employees I know in Asian Spirit. So I'm not so sure what has happened to him. Could be a reflection in the change of management style and their policies.

And yaaak! Ipis! I've also heard that the planes' toilets are not cleaned well. Plain soap and water are used instead of that blue toilet-duck product. So Zest Air management would rather cut expenses that make sure their passengers are safe from health risks huh? Sweet.

There was a time when Asian Spirit was one of the best and most efficient budget carriers in the country. Now that it's been transformed to Zest Air, it is just sh**. Sad.

Of addicts and belated b-day dinners

HELLO, I'm Stella and I'm an addict. Yes, I am now officially hooked on Oishi's Cheese-soaked Sponge Crunch, thanks to Jessica Z. Bad influence :(

She wrote about these luscious gobs of sweet cheese and milky snacks on her blog last week, and in appreciation, Oishi sent her a whole carton of snacks. Generous friend that she is, Jessica shared w/ me a bagful of these treats after I badgered her to gimme some. (I think my exact words were: "Oi, mag-share ka naman!)

Aside from the Cheese Sponge, she also gave me Marty's Cracklin' Vegetarian Chicharon. Veggie chicharon? I kid you not! But mmm...they are sooo flavorful as well (not to mention yummy evil) that you can munch on 'em even w/o having to dip them in vinegar the way we usually do w/ regular chicharon. They're salty and crispy just like chicharon, but as they are made from veggies like dehydrated potatoes and dehydrated green peas, they taste and feel lighter.

(These new Oishi snacks are addicting! Heaven help me!)

And since the chicharon is cooked in palm or coconut oil, no trans-fats either, so these are absolutely guilt-free snacks. But warning thought, it does contain 130 mg of salt (the Sponge Crunch is higher at 150 mg), so if you have any issues with water retention, then you may have to steel yourself from eating more than one bag. Ayayay. (Teka, teka, sino pala si Marty?)

Francine describes the Sponge Crunch as "hormonal" in the sense that you get the salty-sweet combination – a taste w/c women crave for when we're PMS-ing, so I wonder if the R&D department at Oishi is staffed by women. Hmmm. Another Oishi snack that Francine loves is the Chocolate Pillows, which are crackers filled w/ chocolate. I must try them soon. Btw, Francine says she's seen call center agents at ABS-CBN eating the Sponge Crunch w/ Blue Gator-ade. Is this Generation Y's Chippy and Coke combination?

I never knew how much of an Oishi fan I've been for a while 'til I went to the company web site and looked through its product catalog. (Then I realized that the chichiria I've been stealing from my snack-loving niece have all been Oishi products pala, haha.) Like one of the snacks I usually buy from the supermarket especially when I'm going out of town is the Wasabi Potato Ridges. It's crispy potato chips w/ the unique mildy spicy horseradish taste. Then there's the Bread Pan w/c is basically a smaller-scale version of the classic Filipino snack mamon tostado (usually just w/ butter and sugar). Bread Pan though comes in garlic, cheese, and sour cream and chives flavors. Another snack I like is the Oheya mulit-grain snacks in cheese flavor. It's the same hormonal combination of salty and sweet, perfect for "those" days.

Whoa! Oishi sure has come a long way from its Prawn Crackers no? (Mental note: Must secure an interview w/ Oishi owner on success story.)

* * * *

(Jessica takes a photo of her b-day "cake". That's Francine in the background.)

Btw, we had a super-belated birthday dinner w/ Ms. Gorgeous last Thursday (her natal day is actually in November so we're a month late) at La Regalade, and they comped us a lemon tart for her birthday dessert/surprise. Thank you! This was the best lemon tart I've had other than Lemoni Café's in Boracay (that one created by great pastry chef Buddy Trinidad). They both have that aggressive tartness that I love, but Lemoni Café balances this out by caramelizing some sugar on top.

Btw, I am just enamored w/ La Regalade's 7-hour leg of lamb, Manila Clams, and Duck leg confit....mmmm. As it is a bistro, the food is not maarte at all, just comforting like your Lola's Arroz Caldo. Also it's a welcoming place like someone's home, so nobody will feel out-of-place going there. It's wonderful to see an eclectic mix of people during lunch time, for example, where you have mid-level office workers dressed in their long-sleeved polos and ties, while the girls are in their business suits and pumps, then in some tables you see the country's movers and shakers. Like the first time I was there, I espied my ex-boss at the DA Sonny Dominguez w/ his brother Paul, and Bobby Romulo. The night of the Jessica's bday dinner, Inquirer's Sandy Prieto and her family were there, and in another table was Peter Garrucho of First Gas.

So It's a nice place to chill out and just talk and eat w/ your friends for hours and hours, preferably w/ a good bottle of wine. What's more, owner Bubot Quicho adores noisy guests. "The noisier, the better," he tells me w/ a knowing smile. Love him!

No stopping Christmas

Something Like Life
Dec. 12, 2008

I finally sat down last Tuesday and started to wrap the gifts I would be giving to close family and friends this Christmas. As many of you probably know, I finished most of my Christmas shopping a long time ago, organized person that I am. But I never really found the initiative to actually wrap them until a couple of days ago. In the past, my gifts would be all wrapped as soon as December 1 kicked in. This year I just didn’t feel as excited as in previous years.

Maybe it’s because of all this talk of the global economic crisis. I can’t help but be fearful of what next year would bring. While the Bangko Sentral and the local banks continue to reassure us of the soundness of the banking system, small savers like me can’t help but still feel a bit unsure.

So I’ve postponed some necessary repair work for the house in favor of waiting it out next year. We just might need the extra cash next year. Being a small country, the Philippines, no matter how fundamentally sound our government economic managers would like us to believe it to be, will be affected by the turmoil in the bigger economies like the United States. If Americans stop buying our goods, a lot of people here may find themselves out of work. (The rest of my column in BusinessMirror. Photo from

December 07, 2008

Hello. Remember me?

IN the film, "The 50 First Dates", Drew Barrymore plays a woman who suffers short-term memory loss, and doesn't remember that Adam Sandler is her boyfriend. She doesn't even remember meeting him at all. This doesn't deter Sandler, as Henry Roth, tries to win Barrymore's character, Lucy Whitmore, every day.

It was a funny premise, which apparently has basis in fact. In the New York Times today, is a piece on Henry Gustav Molaison, who was diagnosed with "profound amnesia" or the inability to form new memories, who passed away on December 2. Read about H.M..

December 05, 2008

Thank you Lord

IT'S a good day today. Despite my recent round of bad luck (w/c will end tomorrow according to Joseph Chau's feng shui book, yahoo!), there are a few things to celebrate.

You see, a friend and press colleague from my banking reporter days, Margie Quimpo Espino, an editor at the Inquirer, fell ill while on coverage in New Delhi, India. She is an apparent victim of a stroke (aka cerebral attack) and had lost consciousness last Nov. 29 after complaining of a severe headache. She was brought to the hospital and was given emergency treatment. Two days after, she woke up.

Her husband Chet is now at her side, as well as her brother Joey and his wife. And while Margie isn't totally out of the woods yet, as there is still some paralysis in her body, the latest word is that she has started to speak. Praise God! We have all been praying so hard for her and her family. I know Margie will get through this. She is a fighter and her strength comes from wanting to be w/ her three kids and her husband whom she loves so dearly.

I am attaching Chet's latest report about her condition (sent via our email group), so our friends here and abroad will know what's going on. This latest email moved me tears and made me give thanks to the Lord last night because it made me feel His compassion and love for us, His children.

Dear readers, even if you don't know Margie, pls. include her in your prayers everyday. Pls. ask Him to heal Margie completely; to give strength to Chet, their children (Mark, Catherine, Patricia), and the rest of their families; and to continue to give wisdom to her doctors so they will always make the correct diagnoses and recommend the best procedures for her to recover faster.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Holcim (w/c had sponsored the press tour Margie was on), which I had criticized in the past for some of its corporate decisions, but is now doing right by taking care of Margie and Chet.

* * * *

Fortis Escorts Hospital
Faridabad, Haryana

At around 3 p.m. today, Margie started opening her mouth and began uttering syllables that sounded like "shh... shh.. shhta... shta."

It seemed like she was just exercising her vocal chords and wasn't really attempting to communicate, until Nidin asked her simple questions and she either nodded or shook her head. I only missed it by a few minutes so that when I came, Nidin excitedly greeted me with the news that Margie was trying to speak.

On his prodding, I asked Margie if she knew who I am. In between labored breaths she uttered my name about three times. She still had that dazed look on her face and was battling with what I thought was pneumonia. Then I asked her what her name was and she made a big effort to say her name, also about three times with much effort.

A couple more questions and there was no doubt she was already coherent -- the first time since that fateful Saturday. She had been conscious since I arrived Monday but it's as if she only really woke up today. Joey, Margie's older brother and his wife Liz came and witnessed for themselves what I texted them only earlier.

All the effort that Margie made in trying to speak exhausted her and she fell asleep briefly. As soon as she was calm again, I put Patricia on the phone with her mother for a tearful exchange. I held the phone to Margie's ear and she started saying Patricia's name inaudibly while crying, although no tears came out of her eyes.

In another hour or so, I called again to let Mark and Catherine speak to their mother. We who were around Margie were so surprised when she said "where did you come from?" because we were only telling her to listen to the voices of her children and not to stress herself trying to speak. She actually wanted to make conversation! But none of these were audible to the kids, she couldn't quite let out her voice yet.

Tomorrow we expect her to really show a lot more improvement. Margie really cannot move her left hand and left leg just yet, but the doctors and nurses and physical therapists assure me that she we'll get there. In any case, they ordered another CT scan just to investigate. I have yet to talk to Dr. Dua about it but I heard from the nurse that the CT scan results seemed ok.

Let us pray to God to make Margie whole again.

This wonderful afternoon was actually preceded by a gut-wrenching morning where Margie battled with what I thought was pneumonia. Her lungs were filled with fluid and the x-ray showed her lower right lung was collapsed because of the fluids. They had to change her antibiotics and suction the fluids out with a catheter through the mouth. It was very difficult because during that time they still could not communicate well with Margie. You couldn't tell her to cough properly to let out the fluids, so that it was like bobbing in her lungs and throat.

I was sent out during the procedure so I took advantage of the time to walk back to the hotel and eat lunch with Joey and Liz. It was emotionally draining to see Margie go through it.

We retreated to my room afterwards so I was able to recharge my drained batteries. I was prepared for a tough time when I got back, but I was pleasantly greeted by Nidin with the good news.

Now the bigger picture. In the DSA yesterday, the dye they sent through Margies' head showed no aneurysm in the cerebral arteries. But a small connecting segment was not penetrated by the dye because of spasm, caused by the presence of blood in her brain. That blood will eventually wash away in 3 weeks, and they would like a repeat of the DSA then to complete their investigation.

If they still find no aneurysm in that segment which is about I think only 4 mm long, then I think the doctors may conclude that the bleeding was associated with her hypertension.

I asked the doctor: what happened to the two cases of ''suspected aneurysm'' that was reported during the MRI? He said there was not much to go by with the CT scan or the MRI; the DSA showed no aneurysm.

The doctors told us that it'll probably take Margie 2 to 3 weeks to be fit enough travel.

Mark was anxious about this. "But that's Christmas," he said in his text. Patricia had the same thing in mind.

I said yes, I had the same reaction. But then how can we complain about anything now, I told them. We have their mom. Only a few days ago, our pleas were just to have her alive in the first place.

We have a long way to go. Today gives us so much strength to take on whatever God will permit us to go through in the coming days. Please, please continue the prayers.

December 03, 2008

Good morning

SINCE na-bwiset ako yesterday, bwisitin ko kayo today, hehe. Here's the latest "praise" release out of Malacañang. Yup, they actually have the gall to send this out to media. (Underscoring all mine.)

PGMA looks forward to working with NY Senator Clinton as US Sec of State

HONG KONG (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo congratulated today New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for her nomination as the next US Secretary of State.

The President sent her congratulatory message to Mrs. Clinton through the latter's husband, former US President William Clinton, during the opening of the plenary session here of the Clinton Global Foundation Asia Meeting.

"I'm looking forward to working together for the US-RP relations to become stronger," the President said to the delight of her former Georgetown University classmate.

US-elect President Barrack Obama nominated on Monday (US time) the New York senator as Secretary of State.

For his part, the former US President said of President Arroyo "I'm especially proud of her for her extraordinary leadership. She was my college classmate but she looks 20 years younger than I am."

The President arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport at 8:30 last night to attend the First Clinton Global Initiative Asia Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Hotel.

The President was among the five participants of the plenary session opening which discussed the topic, "Balancing Growth, Sustainability of Equity," where she shared the Philippines' efforts in lessening the negative impact on the poor of the global economic meltdown and high food prices.

I"M pretty sure the presidentita made novena to St. Jude just so that Hillary's appointment as Secretary of State would push through. And again, she left the Philippines to attend the CGI conference in Hong Kong to make sure to touch base w/ dear old Bill. (Travel ng travel ha, ang daming problema dito sa 'Pinas. Oh, I forgot, she's the problem pala.) At least now, she has a friend in the Obama administration, even if ayaw sya pansinin ng President-elect. hehe. Empty praises from an ex-classmate though can only go so far.

Ay good afternoon na pala.

The tale of the bag

I KNEW I shouldn't have gotten up anymore this morning. But lunch at this new restaurant was sooo tempting! So I rushed out of bed and didn't even get to read my emails or news online, or facebook! (Notice I use it as a verb like "google".) I left Q.C. quite late after waiting forever for a cab to take me to the MRT station. No matter how many Our Fathers I prayed, the cab just didn't come.

Eventually, one finally did but as soon as I arrived at the rail station, *SNAP!* the strap of my bag broke, and I was so pissed ...I was feeling this day wasn't going to turn out well for me. I had to clutch my bag so firmly, my hand cramped so badly. And to top it off, despite the time not being exactly rush hour, I wasn't able to get a seat until we reached Galleria. I made kalikot my bag to see how I could repair it temporarily but it was hopeless. So I made do while tying one strap to the other strap. It looked goofy especially since the straps were gold chains intertwined w/ some black fabric. Basta it looked weird.

Anyhoo, upon reaching the MRT station in Ayala, I went straight to the SM Department store to get an Emergency bag. Did you ever notice how pricey the bags are at SM? Aba, think P1,000 and up! This was SM ha? Not even Nine West! Grrr. I never bought bags at SM and I was like freaking out I might end up w/ a Secosana, yikes! cos I was really in a hurry as I was late for my lunch appointment! Anyhoo, I chose a P450-shoulder bag in bronze (it was on sale, the original tag was P1,!?!) w/c I made sure didn't come from Secosana. It was roomy enough for my stuff, and the details were okay naman, so I bought it.

Got into a cab and arrived at the restaurant. I sighed in relief as lunch had just started. Introductions were made all around and I tried to sit back, relax, and savor the food brought to us. Comfort food, thank God. And I sipped on a super refreshing shake. I thought everything was fine until...

...someone accidentally spilled water all over me! drenching my pants and hitting portions of my blouse. The accidental spiller was super apologetic naman and I tried to reassure him that it's okay. Buti nalang hindi red wine daw. (Actually, red wine stains are much easier to fix. Just sprinkle baking soda all over the stains, and it will absorb the wine. With water you have to wait it to dry. Period.)

So off I went to the gorgeous women's rest room to dry my clothing in the hand dryer only to find out, there was no dryer! JUICEKODAY!!! Since there was no fireplace inside the banyo either, lucky me, I just chose to return to our table and sit it out. It was okay except for the clammy feeling on my thighs. Meanwhile, we had coffee and dessert.

Lunch over, as soon as I got into a cab to go to the MRT station, well guess what? as I was zipping my new bag close, the zipper clip just snapped out! JUICEKOLORD! anova?! I wasn't even pulling on it so hard! Okay, breathe in, breathe out. Ma-traffic na ha. Arrived at SM the roundabout way just to avoid the traffic, and of course they make you wait forever just to have one item replaced! The bags are on the second floor, the Customer Service Dept. is on the third floor, and I was clunking around in my uncomfortable shoes. (I don't know why we women just love torturing ourselves w/ our shoes!)

Finally I got my bag replaced, and rushed to the rail station to catch a ride back to Q.C. I was half-expecting more disasters to happen when I got off at TriNoMa. But so far so good. I just had to buy a cake at Conti's to comfort me. (I chose the blueberry cheesecake w/c wasn't terrific really, but better than Red Ribbon naman. Have you noticed how the prices of Red Ribbon cakes have shot up as well? Wasn't it only yesterday we were paying like P300 for an entire cake? Now that only buys you their mini-cakes! And you think, parang SM bags ha? Bakeet?).

Got in a cab, arrived home alive and in one piece. But of course, my food photos didn't come out so well again. Not unlucky here, more effed up, as I know the problem is w/ my phone camera w/c has been going funky on me since last month. Kabwiset talaga! (Mental note to self: Must win a digital camera in the next Christmas raffle.)

Off to sleep, I can only sigh a Hay salamat Lord! Natapos din. Whatta day!

UPDATE: Okay, the upside to all that happened yesterday naman is that I had a great meal, bumped into my Ex-boss (lucky ba yun?), and made new friends. Sige, I should look at the glass half-full daw. Thank you Lord.

December 01, 2008

This, of course, would never happen here

Cabinet Minister Resigns in Wake of India Attacks

NYT, Nov. 30, 2008

MUMBAI, India — The top domestic security official resigned in disgrace on Sunday for the failure to thwart or quickly contain the horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai last week, as India’s government announced a raft of measures to bolster antiterrorism efforts and struggled to calibrate a response to what it views as Pakistani complicity. (Read the rest here)

HERE in our Pilipinas kong mahal, if anything of this sort happens, the Cabinet Secretary (or any government official/politico) would likely protest his innocence, and hang on to his job instead. Delicadeza has long been dead in the Philippines. No government official has ever taken responsibility for whatever faux pas, wrongdoing, or illicit activity in his department. Mas makapal pa sa goma ng gulong ang mga mukha!

A reaction from Rhoda Poliquit

THIS is a reaction to an earlier item I wrote on Barry Poliquit, who has been found guilty by the Senate two years ago for his alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam (click Senate report here). It comes from his wife, Rhoda. We yield this space to her in the interest of fair play.

Hi, Stella...

Long time no see. It's been, what, 16 years? Somebody gave Barry a copy of your blog entry, and I thought I should send you a comment.

Some things have changed, and a lot of them haven't. The kids have grown - the eldest finished Computer Science at AMACU in 2005, the second, Biology at UPLB last April, while the youngest is a Statistics sophomore in UP Diliman. The girlfriends get more airtime than the mom does, haha, and I miss my babies on weekends.

We still live in the little house I got through a 15-year GSIS loan after I was appointed as Director at DAR in 1990. I have moved on to another specialization, though, on counter-terrorism, crisis management, contingency planning, border security, risk analysis and national security management. Not bad for a psych grad with a pre-med minor, huh?

Sorry about that, but we laughed ourselves silly this morning when we read the PDI article that focused more on Barry's PE degree than any of the other issues at yesterday's 6-hour Senate hearing. It's a long-standing joke in the family, with the kids using it as an excuse so they wouldn't have to follow my career choices for them. ("Bakit pa ko magpapakahirap sa engineering, eh si Dadz nga...")

The Barry you knew at DENR is still the same one you saw at the Senate hearing yesterday, except for the thicker waistline (which he hates) and bigger jowls (which is genetic, you should see his dad). He had good times with Doc Roque at DENR because he believed in the man's talent and sense of purpose. He left DENR in 1993 because of differences in principle with the bosses there, and worked for Congressman Edward Matti for a while. He applied for a job at NABCOR in 1997, was appointed AVP for project management, but also resigned three years later. He has always been like that - he just ups and goes when he doesn't feel happy with the job anymore.

So I wasn't surprised when he told me he was leaving DA because of the controversy on the farm inputs fund, even though he liked Field Operations and enjoyed working with the Regional Directors (from whom he learned a lot). He was relieved from Field Operations on September 1, 2004 and given a new assignment on the development of agribusiness lands.

Maybe the Senators found his answer unusual ("I left because I felt I wasn't going to be effective anymore"), since the stereotype government official "na may pwesto/poder" in their mind is "kapit-tuko" (from first-hand experience, perhaps???)

Even in GSIS, he considered resigning (despite the salary) because his first assignment was a desk job, and he felt like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. It was becoming more difficult to wake him up and send him out by 6:15 AM (we live in Batasan Hills) so he wouldn't be late. I'd lend him my driver every so often because his car got rear-ended one morning - he dozed at the wheel.

So the designation as VP for physical resources was a Godsend (bless you, Atty. Winston Garcia). It was like throwing a turtle into water. Now, he happily leaves the house at 5:45 AM to make a 7:00 AM meeting with the building engineers to walk through the renovations being done, and animatedly gives instructions to the maintenance supervisors at 10:30 PM at the height of a typhoon. It's a well-known story in GSIS that he cheerfully vacuumed the carpet on the 7th floor at 1:30 AM, working the graveyard shift side-by-side with the construction and interior decoration crews so they could meet the deadline for transferring Atty. Garcia's office. He really likes what he's doing.

He's still the same "kengkoy" person you knew from way back. He doesn't SCUBA dive anymore, but he still wears the diver's watch I gave him in 1989. His biggest frustration was not being able to join his old mountaineering buddies Art Valdez and Fred Jamili on the Everest Team - they started talking about climbing Everest that summer in 1984 after we all came down Mayon Volcano. The kids finally believed our mountaineering stories when we took them to dinner with Art, Fred, Leo, Pastour, Karina and Noelle.

Let's have coffee one of these days... my treat.

God bless always,


* * * *

I worked at the DA for three years, even before Barry ever joined the department, and have kept myself updated w/ the goings on there even after I left. I am aware of the farm programs that the department under its different administrations have implemented (some of them actually the same banana, under a new name reflecting whoever is the new President). But there has never been a more questionable DA program than said Farm Inputs and Implements Program of former U/Sec Joke-Joke Bolante. In fact, as the Senate report shows, there is no record at the central office that the program has ever existed.

So if Barry knows something, he should tell all.

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving and the turkey

I'VE always liked turkey, even if some people think it's a totally tasteless bird. I suppose it all depends on the stuffing and rub used on its skin. I have been eating it since I was little, so even today, I eat it as a sandwich, although usually what restaurants serve in their sandwiches are white meat.

Anyhoo, every time Thanksgiving in the U.S. comes around, I always get caught up in the news stories of Americans trying to rush home to their families, the dishes served and the various recipes used, and try to catch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade broadcast by some U.S. news shows. (One of my favorite films on this American holiday is Home for the Holidays, starring Holly Hunter and directed by Jodie Foster. It's a funny take on the kind of homecoming people get from their families and how one survives all the weirdness.)

Btw, Thanksgiving is a common celebration in a lot of European countries and in some form or another in Asian and South African countries as well, because it traditionally celebrates good harvests.

But why turkey on Thanksgiving? One web site I read said when the Pilgrims/Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, they had other food served than just turkey. One story goes that roast goose was actually the traditional bird to celebrate good harvests in England. But in America, there were more wild turkey available than geese, so turkey became identified w/ Thanksgiving.

In Saipan, where I worked for a year, I was able to attend a Thanksgiving feast w/ some Pinoys. I was happy for the turkey, which was served along w/ lechon and leche flan. Coolness. Hankering for a more authentic American Thanksgiving dinner (okay, I just couldn't have enough turkey, yumm!), I went to one of the restaurants and ate turkey again w/ some pumpkin pie. (It was so long ago I can't remember if I liked the pie.) Stuffed, and happy at experiencing some kind of American holiday, I went home w/ still more turkey in hand, for the next day's baon at the office.

Here in the Philippines, we don't actually have Thanksgiving as a tradition in November, although some hotels and restaurants capitalize on it and offer turkey dinners to their dining patrons. But we do give thanks for our blessings during Christmas. So there are families, like mine, who've served turkey, alongside the regulatory baked leg of ham, lengua estofada, quezo de bola, chocolate eh, and ensaimada.

This year, we decided to forego the turkey (sniff!) primarily because we have yet to find someone or some establishment in the Alabang area (where we celebrate Christmas) w/c roasts it well. (Santi's last year was just too chaotic and couldn't give us a straight answer when we could pick up the bird.) The only other roaster I know of, and w/c we've used in the past, is in Makati w/c is just way too far for Christmas Eve pickups. For a few seconds, while my sister and mother were discussing the Christmas menu, I did think of roasting the bird myself. As an amateur cook, I always like challenging myself to experiment w/ certain difficult dishes. The thought, as I said, lasted no less than 10 seconds as I realized that roasting a bird would just be too much stress for me.

So I will not have my roast turkey this year, and will have to get my fix some other way. How depressing. Meanwhile, if you want to read up on the pressures of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, the NYT is hosting a Live Thanksgiving Blog by one of its food writers. The entries so far are quite amusing, and makes the reader feel thankful we don't get that crazy on this day. Except during Christmas boo-hoo.

And while it's not a Filipino holiday, I still want to wish everyone, especially my friends and family residing in the States, Guam, and Saipan, a Happy Thanksgiving. And I give thanks for my loving weird family, my crazy fabulous friends, and all the great blessings I continue to receive through the year.

November 26, 2008

House panel votes to kill 4th impeachment rap vs Arroyo

The House Justice committee on Wednesday junked the fourth impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, declaring the complaint "insufficient in substance."

Ending a marathon hearing on the impeachment complaint, the House Justice committee voted 42-8 dismissing the latest impeachment complaint against President Arroyo, effectively throwing it alongside similar complaints filed against the President in previous years. (Read the rest in GMA News TV.)

SERIOUSLY guys, did anyone actually think this Nth impeachment complaint would amount to anything considering all the tongressmen in the pockets of Malacañang?

What will be approved instead, is the resolution seeking an extension of the presidentita's term:
The resolution filed by administration Rep. Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas seeks to keep Ms Arroyo in her post for one more year should his parallel proposal of moving the May 2010 elections a year later be adopted. (Read all about it here.)

I am starting to like my friend Gidi's proposal on what to w/ these tongressmen.

November 25, 2008

Is anyone watching?

ARE any of you still watching the hearings in the House of Representatives (Impeachment complaint vs. GMA) and the Senate (starring Joke-Joke Bolante and the fertilizer fund scam)?

I gave up at the last House hearing where former Speaker Jose De Venecia was shooting his mouth off regarding the money allegedly distributed by the presidentita to the congressmen to shut them up in the last impeachment complaint.

I don't doubt that what JDV is saying is true, and even whatever else he is claiming to have happened in China while the presidentita, her husband and he were playing golf w/ ZTE executives. It's just that, too late na dava? Why only now JDV? Just bec. you were still Speaker, you kept quiet all the while your son Joey and Jun Lozada were being grilled over the barbeque pit on the ZTE Broadband issue? Tsk, tsk. How convenient.
* * * *

I did sneak a peek at this afternoon's hearing at the Senate. I was curious to find out Ibarra Poliquit's involvement in this fertilizer fund scam.

(Barry Poliquit is currently VP of physical resources of the GSIS.)

You see I knew an Ibarra/Barry Poliquit almost two decades ago when he was just a staff assistant at the office of Undersecretary Celso Roque at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Roque, a former UP professor, I thought ran a tight ship, and handled the environmental concerns of the department. So even in the late '80s, we were already talking and writing about global warming, and debt-for-nature swaps, etc. Our environmental officials were pretty much ahead of their time compared to their counterparts in the U.S., Japan, and Australia.

Going back to Barry Poliquit, I knew him when he was thinner and was one of the people whom I knew who was already into scuba diving even before it became a rage in the Philippines. He was married to Rhoda Poliquit, who worked in the Dept. of Agrarian Reform then. He also struck me as one of those guys in the DENR who knew his stuff and was willing to share good environmental stories with us reporters.

In my 23-year-old mind, Barry didn't look like someone who would engage in nefarious activities involving gov't funds. Even though he was much older than I, he appeared as someone who still retained his youthful idealism despite the corruption in most government offices.

After I left the beat, I lost touch w/ Barry and his wife, and only heard of him again during the reopened Senate investigation on the fertilizer fund scam. According to the media reports, he was assistant secretary at the Dept. of Agriculture and had helped Joke-Joke Bolante, then Usec, oversee the implementation of the fertilizer fund program. Today he was being grilled on his apparent inadequate monitoring of the program w/c led to the purchases of overpriced fertilizer by their field office.

I wonder what happened to Barry. What changed? Did the corruption eventually get to him? Did it become an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" type of situation for him? Or did I just read him all wrong when he was still at DENR?
* * * *

After googling Dr. Celso Roque to find out what had become of him, I found out that he had passed away on June 30, 2002. Dr. Roque, who was such a masterful storyteller (he always had entertaining stories for us reporters), usually held court at Trellis, the original purveyor of sisig in the metro.

Among the DENR officials of his time, he was really the coolest cat. I could listen to him make kwento for hours, and learned a lot about enviromental issues from him. He is remembered as having pioneered the environmental movement in the Philippines. I raise a glass of wine in his memory.

November 24, 2008

La Greta is back!

(Gretchen Barretto's debut as a game show host. Apologies for the blurriness of the TV grabs.)

JUST when we all thought it was safe to watch free TV, well now, who shows up on the new TV5 but La Greta herself, hosting her own game show called, you better sit down now, You and Me against the World! Hahaha! I just love the tongue-in-cheek humor of the producers of the show, although the jury is still out regarding the show's merits.

So who said Gretchen was already separated from her significant other/momma's boy Tonyboy Cojuangco, owner of the broadcast station out in the boonies of Novaliches? (Okay, okay, there are no mountains in Novaliches, but I'm from Q.C., and even I think Novaliches is pretty far.)

And yet, who does she have as a first celebrity guest on the show but none other than John Estrada, the has-been artista who briefly regained fame after a photo of him and La Greta smooching in a party that was captured on his cellphone circulated around the Internet! My, my, TV5 is definitely pushing the envelope, not to mention Tonyboy's buttons, in drumming up interest in this show. (Then again, if the rumors are true that La Greta and he are no longer an item, he couldn't care less who she has on her show right?)

(John Estrada and La Greta...uyyy)

The other guest celebrity was Lucy Torres Gomez, wife of another has-been artista Richard Gomez. (She who gained notoriety way back when for her, errr, shopping habits.) Boring! although she had on a pretty cute green outfit. W/c we can't say of the host herself who wore an awful pink frou-frou dress! Ayayay! According to our TV5 source, the dress – designed by Ivar Aseron – actually looked gorgeous up close, but as we've seen, didn't make the same transitition to the tube. It made Gretchen look hideously fat! or pregnant. Take your pick. Tsk, tsk.

Now back to the show itself, I personally found it sooooo long. I think 30 minutes is enough for a game show, unless it's Jeopardy or Price is Right. And the level of challenge was very low. You can't actually lose on this show whether you're a contestant or an audience member.

As far as I can tell, the object of the game is for the contestant to win a million pesos. There are two contestants who may or may not team up in answering questions asked by the host. They have to correctly guess the answer of the audience which represent "the world." At the show's beginning, the two contestants can team up, and give the same answer. If they do, they both win P20,000. If they choose to answer separately, the winner only gets P10,000. If they don't guess the answer of "the world" correctly, the audience wins their own pot. Then, in the next portion, the two contestants play off against each other until either of them win P100,000. Whoever wins the most money or reaches P100,000 wins the next round. The one with the least money leaves. The winner of this round then moves on to the next round and asked another set of questions. Confusing? You betcha. I didn't bother to find out how the show ended.

(La Greta w/ the shoppingera, este Lucy Torres Gomez)

To be fair, La Greta is a good host. She's bright and funny, and knows how to play to the audience, both in the studio and at home. I found myself actually laughing at some of her potshots at Estrada, and her other witty remarks. But she is out of her element here. Perhaps TV5 should give her a showbiz gossip show instead.

I think she will be much more at ease hosting a talk show, and interviewing fellow celebrities. Her knowledge about the inner workings of the business and possibly tidbits about the celebrities themselves will serve her best. Now as to what format of such a showbiz show would be, well maybe it can be a cross between Chelsea Lately, David Letterman, and Entertainment Tonight. No grand productions like that idiotic lie detector stunt on another TV station's show, but maybe just straight celebrity interviews. We want the dirt.

As to You and Me Against the World, this is just the first episode so it could get better in the next few weeks (it plays every Sunday at 7 pm.) I was just waiting for it to get more exciting but sadly, it didn't deliver. There were no cliff-hanging moments where you think either of the contestant will lose. Unless I misunderstood the game mechanics, from what I've seen so far, no one goes home a loser. Everyone wins some money in the end. So there's no tension. No tension, no excitement.

Still, let's give the producers an A for effort for conceiving this new game show. After all, there is a dearth of originality out there. And I'd also clap for La Greta. Her social climbing ways aside, she did manage to hold her own as a host. Kudos.

When did we become afraid?

Something Like Life
Nov. 21, 2008

Until about our late 30s, especially for women, I think, most of us still thrive on some amount of adventure. We’re unafraid of taking risks with our lives, challenging ourselves to overcome certain physical or emotional limitations placed before us....Then we hit 40 or 50. And, suddenly, taking chances is no longer that palatable.

(Read the rest of my column in the BusinessMirror.)

November 22, 2008

National embarrassments

DONTCHA just hate it?

We have a President who forces the President-elect of the United States to acknowledge her existence by calling him not once, but twice! and goes all the way to Chicago to get a meeting, only to be brushed off.

Then her husband embarrasses himself by overeating steak on a flight to Peru, then getting diarrhea daw, thus, forcing the chartered presidential plane to land in Osaka!

A KSP (kulang sa pansin) and a glutton...gads, what an embarrassment the both of you are for us Filipinos! Juice ko Lord, have you no mercy on us?

* * * *

It never ceases to surprise me how much of a cold-hearted b**ch the Presidentita really is.

Just check out the AP photos: the First Gentleman has his eyes closed, being wheeled into an ambulance, and the Presidentita is seated at the side, looking very pissed at this inconvenience. Even at the hospital, the Presidentita looked constipated instead of concerned over her husband. Gads, have you no heart woman?!

* * * *

Okay, okay, someone just nudged me that Presidentita's face is all botoxed up, that's why it doesn't show any emotion. Remember her "I am sorry" video on the Hello Garci scandal?

Sya, sige na nga.

November 20, 2008

Dinelli, a new deli-cafe in Q.C. (and a word about TARA)

LIKE your salami and pepperoni? how about some prosciutto, sausages and delicate cheeses from Europe and Australia?

If you live in Q.C. like I do, you probably go to Santi's for these delicatessen items, as well as their steak cuts and bottled goods. I have no complaints about Santi's and continue to pay for their items through my nose. Yup, they are expensive but like I said, I always thought I was getting my money's worth. I don't have to fly all the way to Switzerland just to get a block of gruyere.

Well a new deli just opened on the opposite end of Timog Ave. called Dinelli, owned by Rep. Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur, and managed by his daughter Kristine Singson Meehan and husband Anthony Meehan. I was invited to its official launch last Tuesday, Nov. 18 by boy wonder, Chef Robby Goco, who designed the menu of this deli-cum-cafe.

At first glance, the prices of its deli items looked about 10% lower than Santi's, although I wasn't able to inspect all 'cos the entire place was in a frenzy. Space was tight, and everyone was talking while eating and drinking. But according to Pinky Mendoza, director of sales and operations of Dinelli, they are getting their goods directly from suppliers instead of consolidators which helps the establishment cut down on expenses. (If her name sounds familiar, yes, Pinky used to be w/ the other deli.)

The dishes on the cafe's menu seemed affordable as well even by Q.C. standards. (My friend Pangs had his doubts, but I assured him that there were enough rich folk in Q.C. who support good food.) I haven't eaten a full meal at the cafe so I can't assess its dishes just yet. Although so far, Robby's concoctions in his own Cyma as well as other restaurants he has worked with, have yet to let me down. I intend to have lunch there next week and will give you the lowdown.

We enjoyed the various hors d'oeuvres served during the event which used ingredients sold at the deli (e.g. slices of wagyu beef on polenta, halibut on toasted french bread, creme brulee w/ chocolate mint discs, etc.) as well as the red and white wine selections w/c were flowing the entire night.

(Pinky Mendoza and Rep. Eric Singson)

Other products sold at the deli include Australian wagyu, various lamb cuts, black angus; free range chicken; lumpfish black caviar from Norway; Chilean seabass and Halibut from Norway; foie gras from France; and as I mentioned earlier, sausages, hams, as well as cheeses from Europe and Australia.

There is also a wide array of bottled condiments like vinegars, olive oil, whole peeled tomatoes, and kalamata olives, canned zucchinis, chocolates, etc. Almost everything that a home cook or chef may require. I will personally go back to pick up some wagyu and halibut, and I've already been looking up the various recipes I can experiment w/ for the fish. Wish me luck!

Oh did I mention Dinelli also has a small selection of wines? I promise to inspect the wine section further and tell you about it as well.

Dinelli is located on #5 Timog Ave., Q.C. across St. Peter's Church and near the old Circle Theater. Tel. No. 666-3544.

* * * *

BTW, the hosts for the night were our own Philippine team to The Amazing Race Asia, Tisha Silang and Geoff Rodriguez. I didn't really know them but I was kapal anyway to blurt out to Geoff who was standing about 5 feet away from us, if they won the race. Of course he didn't want to say but was very good natured about it.

Geoff was actually very friendly, surprisingly, considering how he managed to rub off the other contestants the wrong way w/ his seeming arrogance. Siguro, he was just under too much pressure to win. After all, we all know what happened our team last year, right? (Boo-hoo)

(Geoff Rodriguez and Kristine Singson Meehan)

But he, and even Tisha, were very nice and sounded sincere. They accepted our good wishes for the show (but it was kinda weird; we were wishing them luck when the race was actually over weeks ago, ngek). Huy she's very sexy ha. So thin. Kainggit. (Of course, if she spent part of her time scouring and buying from delis like I do, she wouldn't be so slim haha.) Lurved her pumps. Sorry, I wasn't able to take her photo, only of Geoff, and it didn't even do him justice. Too much libation on my end. Oof! my apologies man. He is actually much cuter in person.

Geoff was even almost apologetic that he didn't look Pinoy enough to represent the country. So to make up for it, I guess he wore all those very cool Pinoy-themed shirts all throughout the show w/c he said were available at Team Manila at Powerplant in Rockwell Makati.

Anyway, watch TARA tonight. It's the finale show. I'm rooting for them.

* * * *

UPDATE: Tish and Geoff came in second place. Not a bad showing. Congratulations are still in order. Maybe next year, Team Philippines will come in first.


Obamas Expected to have Sex in White House, Insiders Say
By Billy Kimball

In what is sure to be a controversial move, President-Elect Barack Obama has indicated to his inner circle of advisors that he and his wife may have sex in the White House sometime during the four years of his first term in office.

"He's not saying they definitely will have sex," said an Obama confidante who declined to be named, "But he's not ruling it out. He's also not ruling out having sex more than once." (Click here for the juice.)

LOL! para di naman kayo masyadong serious.

Although if you've watched the interviews of the presidential couple, especially that of 60 Minutes last weekend, you can sense there is still a deep level of intimacy between the two despite the 16 years of marriage. They joke w/ each other a lot (what we term as nagkukulitan), kiss, and hold hands. They look into each other's eyes when they speak to each other. So you know these two just love each other.

Let's hope the White House stint ah, "enhances" the relationship even more.

Random commentary

(Ford Expedition 2008, gorgeous but a gas guzzler)

THE Big Three automakers in the United States are asking for their own bailout package. Why? What good will that do for the U.S. economy? These automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler — have long been inefficient. They make huge expensive SUVs that guzzle up a lot of gas! It's no wonder most Americans buy Japanese-made sedans. Compact, fuel-efficient, and reasonably-priced. Why should American taxpayers for the Big 3's incompetence?

At the U.S. House of Representatives' recent hearing, the chief executives of the Big 3 said they cut their expenses every which way. But guess what? They flew their company jets to get to Washington. This is a repeat of AIG whose executives were found to have gone on a chi-chi Caribbean vacation even as the company was going under, and just as Treasury Chief Hank Paulson announced a credit line for it. The gall of these CEOs. Such excesses!

* * * *

I had lunch recently w/ a friend whom I call "El Presidente", a former banker and one-time head of a large private entity conducting vital business in the local market, and he was mightily incensed at the bailouts in the U.S. What gets his goat are what he feels are unnecessary and violative business practices by those companies to be bailed out, such as hedging.

Hedging is basically described as taking a position on a commodity today, and betting on its price in the future. Like some airlines hedge on oil prices, betting that the commodity will be priced higher in say 3-6 months against its current price. So if the current market price of oil is $56/barrel, and an airline feels oil prices will again shoot up to $100/barrel in say a year, it can lock in its oil purchases at the current price. Companies hedge on raw materials or vital products they need for their operations to minimize the risks of working in a highly volatile environment when even a small event somewhere in the world can send price shockwaves in the global market.

But El Presidente thinks hedging distorts the markets and really doesn't resort to anything beneficial for the one who practices it bec. you don't always win. Meaning, in the case of the airline which hedges on its oil needs, if it bets that the commodity will go to $100/barrel a year, but in actuality, it falls to even lower than $56, then it loses out and it ends up w/ very expensive oil. Basically it is gambling, he says.

But then I think going into business is a gamble in itself. Your business can either prosper or fail. All you can do is minimize the risks in your business, and one of those tools available is hedging. So no, I didn't agree w/ El Presidente.

Arbitrage? Derivatives? Well now that's another story. I'll save that discussion for another day.

* * * *

So someone must be doing cartwheels in Malacañang because she made a new "friend."

Not since that illicit phone call made by the presidentita to former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano ("Hello Garci") at the height of the 2004 elections has a phone call been much talked about, blogged, derided and a constant source of news bits in the tri-media.

It's really so sad to realize the depths our country, Philippines my Philippines, has sunk that the President-elect of the United States, didn't return the congratulatory phone call of our illegally-elected presidentita until two days ago. She made two phone calls earlier which were just noted down by White House operator and Barack Obama's staff but the presidentita was not among the first heads of state that he had called back.

Undeterred, the presidentita flew out to Chicago, purportedly to meet w/ the local Fil-Am community (and probably trying to find a direct connect among them to Obama), but still, she didn't get a meeting w/ Obama even if he was also in the same state. Grabeh naman the lengths to which this woman would go to just so the new U.S. President will notice her. Gumastos pa ng malaki, our taxpayers' money 'yan ha! all for nothing.

Finally, Obama calls her on Tuesday, at the ungodly hour of 3:17 a.m.! Obama's staff isn't stupid. They knew very well what time it was in Manila before placing that call. They were probably hoping the presidentita was asleep already. But noooo! Sympre excited, the presidentita answered the VIP call. Nanginig-nginig pa siguro sa kilig!

But then there were no details about the phone call. Did it actually take place? It doesn't matter really because all signs point to the fact that in the eyes of the newly-elected U.S. President, the Philippines means nothing. It is not a military power like the UK and Australia; it is not a huge trading partner; it is a country w/c the U.S. taxpayers still support through grants, out of delicadeza for some shared WWII history, and w/c are only inefficiently used by our corrupt gov't agencies; it is only a country to sell excess harvests by American farmers; it poses no strategic importance to the U.S. militarily bec. we kicked out its bases; and what's more, we have an illegally-sitting president.

If you were Obama, papansinin mo ba si GMA?

November 19, 2008

Clean coal is an oxymoron, says NBC

LISTEN up DENR! There is no such thing as clean coal. You cannot burn coal and expect clean smoke. But there is a way to capture all that dirty emissions.


November 17, 2008

Finding your perfect space

Something Like Life
Nov. 15, 2008

TO continue our thoughts from last week....

Once you’ve made up your mind to actually move out of the parental units’ shelter, stick to your decision and try not to be swayed by your mother’s tears or your father’s bribes. (I have received the mother treatment.)

Getting past that sticky situation, it’s time to look for an actual place to live. You must have a clear idea in your mind what kind of home you want. Would it be a house? An apartment? A condominium unit? Are you going to share it or go at it solo?

Most people I know who’ve gone solo do so not only because of their need for privacy and independence, but also because they want to be near their offices. My girl cousins who live in Parañaque City, for instance, rent a condo just a few steps away from the school where they teach. (Click here for the rest.)

November 14, 2008

Where in the world is Cito Lorenzo?

THE testimony of former Agriculture U/Sec. Joke-Joke Bolante yesterday was certainly a joke on the Senators and the Filipino people as he stood his ground and denied there was any anomaly involved in the release of some P728 million to congressmen and local government units in fertilizers and other farm inputs under the Dept. of Agriculture's Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program.

Bolante tried to pin the blame on his former boss Luis "Cito" Lorenzo, then agriculture secretary, whom Bolante said ordered the release of the funds. Which has given rise to questions anew, "Where in the world is Cito Lorenzo?"

Lorenzo was booted out of DA because the presidentita lost heavily in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential elections. Then he was kicked upstairs as presidential adviser on countrywide development with the task to create 1 million jobs nationwide. Take a look at this news story in 2004 based on an interview w/ Sen. Nene Pimentel:


MANILA, July 12, 2004 (STAR) By Jess Diaz - Politics is behind last week’s resignation of Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo, opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday.

"It’s politics. It’s the culprit behind the forced resignations of Cito Lorenzo, Joey Lina (former secretary of the interior and local government) and (Social Welfare Secretary) Dinky Soliman," he said.

Pimentel said President Arroyo forced the agriculture secretary to quit because she lost in the areas in Mindanao where the Lorenzo family runs agricultural plantations and agriculture-based businesses.

"She lost in these areas, where she expected to win. And she’s taking it against Cito, who has performed creditably as agriculture secretary," Pimentel said. (Read more here.)

After that stint, w/c I believe was just for a year, and telling journalist-friends about how he was able to achieve his mandate of creating one million jobs, Lorenzo then kept to a low profile. Perhaps he could no longer take the heat from the brewing controversy that came to be known as the fertilizer fund scam.

Last we heard, Lorenzo then involved himself in Gawad Kalinga and became its adviser, such that in March 2007, he even gave an inspirational talk in St. Louis, Missouri during the premiere of the Cesar Montano-starrer "Paraiso", a film supposedly on the poor in the Philippines and GK's projects. So if the Senate wants to get in touch w/ Lorenzo, then all it has to do is call up Tony Meloto.

Why Lorenzo was never summoned by the Senate during its first investigation into the fertilizer fund scam, I wouldn't know. If he was summoned, he never showed. So the questions still linger, did he have a part in pushing for the release of funds w/c have been cited as the source of the presidentita's campaign kitty, she who was then running against the very popular veteran artista Fernando Poe Jr.?

When Lorenzo took over as DA Secretary in December 2002, my sources told me then that he wanted to get rid of Bolante or re-assign him somewhere else. The talk already then was, Bolante was assigned to the DA for a specific purpose. (Someone who had worked w/ Bolante before had wondered to me then what he was doing heading DA's finance department when his background was actually in marketing. Bolante used to be an official of Prudential Life which he helped set up w/ well-known pre-need plan pioneer Francisco Alba.)

But it is a well-known fact among the business and political communities that Bolante was a "bata ni Mike", referring to the First Gentleman, and Bolante's fellow Rotarian. This meant that even if Lorenzo tried, he wouldn't have been able to shove Bolante out the door.

Look, it is also widely known that the Department of Agriculture, including some key agencies like the National Food Authority, is a hot bed of ahem, income-generating projects. Maybe not for the farmers and fishermen that these agencies are pledged to serve, but for the officials who head them. (Why do you think the DA keeps insisting there's a rice shortage and needs to import the commodity, when all rice farmers in the provinces will tell you they have a lot of rice? And don't let me get started on the purchases of those jute sacks for the NFA rice.)

Also, even prior to the presidentita's time, I've already heard stories from former DA officials how they were made to carry "bayong-bayong ng pera" during election time, for distribution to voters. And mind you, these were not officials during the time of Marcos but under Presidents after him. So the DA does have a long history of illicit election-related activities w/c I believe continues to this day. (Come on, why even name a program after the initials of the President? Ginintuang Masaganang Ani, erg.)

I don't know Cito Lorenzo personally, but I know he basically has a strong agribusiness background having headed Lapanday Holdings Inc., and belongs to a rather well-respected family from Mindanao. (Read this 2001 interview with Lorenzo in Phil. Business.)

I haven't heard anything negative about him either from the business community even from the older CEOs who only have kind words for their younger colleague. Would Lorenzo tarnish his and his family's reputation by pushing a program w/c he knows would just be used as an election scheme for his boss in Malacañang, in exchange for what? a 20-percent commission? Ang cheap naman. Although it's true, there are some people who would it for less.

It's time for Lorenzo, wherever he is, to come home and speak up. If he is really a "man of honor" as his friends and defenders say that he is, then it's time for him to tell the Filipino nation the truth.

(Photo of Cito Lorenzo from