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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Matrona In My Supermarket Line

And I thought I could get by with nary an incident for this (supposedly) reflective holiday.

Since this country shuts down as it commemorates Holy Week, I decided to do my last-minute shopping Wednesday afternoon, to stock up on any essentials we may be needing. I have two supermarkets to choose from, and decided to go with the one that rewarded loyalty by earning points, translating into a cash equivalent.

Having made my purchases, I proceeded to line up, and saw that before me, was an old woman (just about ready to get her senior citizen's card in a year or two), and a middle aged man with what looked like a gifts for his daughter or niece.

The cashier motioned for the old(er) woman to move ahead, since she was now meaning to attend to the man before me.

Senior-a stood there, motionless, as if she heard nothing.

You know the type: too much time, and feeling privileged.
(Courtesy of

The cashier then called on the man and said, "Sir, please give me your purchases." The man had no choice but to siksik (squeeze in) with the woman, still oblivious. She then started barking orders to the bag attendant, asking him to add more plastic bags, lest her purchases should collapse under its' own weight.

The man then moved ahead of the woman, since she seemed rooted to the spot. I could tell that the bag attendant wasn't happy with Senior-a, since he opted to attend to the man's purchases first, and sent him on his way, while muttering under his breath for being asked for a do-over by the old woman with how he "bagged" her purchases.

And now, it was my turn.

The cashier then looked at me in an apologetic manner, and also asked for my purchases, and yes, oldie decided it was her spot, so she stayed on. I resolved not to make a scene and stood beside her, while handing my purchases to the cashier. Unfortunately, I paid with my credit card, which meant I had to sign the charge slip, and presented a problem since oldie was standing at the spot where I was supposed to sign. (They didn't have one of those portable hard, small sleeves that you see in restaurants.)

"Excuse me," I began my conversation with the lady who looked like she stayed at the lunch table a little too long. "Would you mind moving so I could sign for my purchases?"

Lunch Lady turned her head (I got a whiff of her senior citizen perfume), eyed me from head to toe, then said imperiously (and in a rather loud voice), "Oh, my GOD! Can't you just sign over there?!?"

"There" meant the next counter, where another customer was being served by a different cashier. You can, of course, guess that my resolve to be non-confrontational was thrown away that instance.

"No. I won't. I'm the one being served now, you should be standing farther along, ready to take your bags. Now, would you mind moving? You're holding up the line."

"Oh, my GOD!!!" She repeated, with eyes wide open in horror, probably having difficulty digesting the fact that anyone would dare talk to her that way.

"We're waiting." (I then showed her the line that formed behind me, about three other people, and because of her voice volume, people were now staring our way.)

"Oh, my GOD!!!"

"You've said that already. Anything else?"

"Oh, my GOD!!!"

"Yours, mine and everyone else' want to do one more round?"

At that point, the cashier, the bag attendant and some onlookers started chuckling and smiling. The attendant then pushed her purchases in her face, with a smirk, and said "Here you go, Ma'am!"

The woman then desperately looked around, apparently for her husband. He was silently watching the whole time, and he looked like the type of man who was totally resigned to a living hell, having to go home to this creature every night.

She then looked back at me, and started stammering, "Why! You...I..."

"What's the matter? Forgot to take your memory pills this morning?"

"Oh, my GOD!!!" She then pushed her shopping bags to her husband, and said "Halika na! Di ko na alam sasabihin ko!" (Come on! I don't know what to say, anymore!)

"Have a happy Holy Week," I hollered, but I don't think she heard it, since it was drowned out by the giggles of everyone who witnessed Old Frumpy storming off in a puddle of shame.

I guess this deserves a Mea Culpa?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kris, James, And A King Named Solomon

As is patently clear to anyone with a tad bit of interest in the local news, one inescapable headline must have surely come into readers' consciousness this past week: the profoundly public display of a squabble between now-annulled couple, host Kris Aquino and cager James Yap, with their erstwhile "child star" Bimby caught in the middle.

Can Solomon straighten this out?
(Courtesy of

(I use the term in quotes because, frankly, other than his lineage, I have no recollection of the child showing any prowess in acting, singing or any of "the usual" talents associated with the label. A friend noted that his appearance in various commercials may be the result of his mother's pushiness, more than anything else.)

If you've read my blog, you would know that I keep a healthy distance from anything religion-related, the reasons for which I detail clearly in various posts. But I cannot help but refer to a particular segment of the Christian Bible in this particular instance: when a king named Solomon was asked to mediate between two mothers over a single child that both claimed as her own. (Refer to 1 Kings 3:16-28 in the Christian Bible.)

To summarize: two mothers were living in the same house, each having an infant son. One of the sons was smothered in his sleep, so both mothers claimed that the other exchanged him for the living one. Brought to King Solomon, he pondered on how to settle the case with both mothers unwilling and unrelenting. He then asked for a sword, and declared he would cut the baby in half, so that each mother would get a "fair share" of the living infant.

The pretender found it to be "just," but the real mother begged and pleaded with Solomon to spare the infant's life, and was content to give her son away, knowing at least that he was still alive. That is how Solomon determined who the real mother was - one who would sacrifice everything just so one's child could go on.

I cannot help but wonder: how would Solomon have mediated between Kris and James, knowing fully well that a life - Bimby's - would be caught in the crossfire?

Would he, like our legal system, have a particular leaning or bias towards the mother?

Would he have changed the way he viewed the case, knowing that both parents are in the public eye?

And, if he did ask for Bimby to be cut in half, in order to be "fair" to both parties, I cannot help but wonder: which parent would concede their custody claim, in order for Bimby to remain whole, able to fulfill his commercial contracts?

And while we're at it, I would like to know what Solomon's stand would be, seeing (annulled) parents making their domestic miss (as opposed to domestic bliss) so publicly aired out, while deliberately injecting Bimby into each of their public statements?

I may not be a parent myself, but I do know that in this case, Bimby is the biggest loser of all.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Quiet Japanese Gem

When Art told me that we had an invitation to have lunch at The New Kamameshi House, I was seized with a twinge of nostalgia: I remember going there as a child, but it was situated in Greenhills. My parents raved about it, but I couldn't really be sure what they raved for, so I couldn't pass up the chance to find out for myself.

We arrived earlier than our host, and the restaurant was still in "prep" mode, but I couldn't resist taking a shot of this vat of rice to be used in their sushi.

We were led to our table, and the word that comes to mind is quaint: it was small, cozy, and definitely induces you to have a conversation with your companions. Some people may see this as a minus, but having recently come from a restaurant that was all about frenzy, I could not help but breathe a sigh of relief that this experience was the polar opposite.

When our hostess arrived, she told us the not-to-be-missed dish: Kamameshi. She then proceeded to order three varieties of the it: Chicken, Seafood and Mixed. Kamameshi is an all-in-one dish: steamed rice in a special sauce, topped with your choice of viand. The menu states that they have to prepare it for at least 20 minutes - it was definitely worth the wait.

The dish comes in a metal container supported by a wooden base, and when you open the lid, the heady aroma as well as the steam signals you of a treat for your taste buds. I enjoyed the Mixed variety the most, as it had all of their ingredients thrown into one container. There was burnt rice at the bottom (tutong) but that was to be expected, given the metal container.

We also had a staple ordered in Japanese restaurants, ebi tempura. Their version tasted clean, none of the heaviness I've experienced from other establishments with a batter that could be...better. They had six pieces in a single order, but when the waiter delivered it to our table, everyone was famished and got their share right away, which explains the shot I have of only two shrimps.

We also had a seafood dish, cooked in teriyaki sauce. While the fish itself was quite soft, the sauce was not too remarkable, and I would pass up on this when we come back. Yes, that's when, not if.

Our hostess insisted on ordering a beef dish, and because she frequented this place, we trusted her taste. This was right on the money: soft, succulent pieces of beef in that dark sauce, complimented by a serving of bean sprouts. You can't have this dish and not be happy - unless you're a vegetarian.

I did want to have a vegetable dish, and this tofu concoction was made memorable because of the sauce that came along with it: bits of garlic in a rich soy base, sprinkled with a few pieces of meat and vegetables. If vegetables tasted this good, nutritionists wouldn't have a hard time telling people to eat their veggies.

We were pleasantly surprised to find such a quaint gem that is located in what appeared to be a neighborhood close to a national highway, which means it may not be that easy to find. But the kamameshi (and other dishes) make it worth the trek, and it is, rightfully, the dish that inspires this restaurant's name.


The New Kamameshi House
5787 Zobel Roxas Street, corner South Super Highway,
Palanan, Makati
(+632) 5256284

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Birthday Lunch At Vikings

Having heard praises for its' gustatory lineup, as well as a constant presence in "Best Of" lists of must-try restaurants with a buffet concept, we decided to go to Vikings at the Mall of Asia for Art's birthday. I was forewarned to make a reservation way ahead of the intended day/time, and I am glad I listened, because despite its seemingly sleepy exterior by the bay, we were not prepared for the frenzied pace of activity that awaited us inside.

Batangas Beef with Truffle Sauce

Practically every inch of space was devoted to tables (there were tables very close to one of the buffet areas, the first time I witnessed this level of proximity), and I begin to understand why I have a subset of friends who loathe going to any buffet restaurant: there seemed to be this frenetic pace inflaming the customers to get more, more, more.

In a multicultural spread, I usually opt to start out with Japanese cuisine, as something about it just exudes clean and simple. While they were not reeking with top-of-the-line freshness, my tuna and salmon sashimi were certainly enjoyed, given my bias for them. I added tuna ceviche which was included in its list of appetizers, which I found to be quite palatable.

From there, I headed to Chinese cuisine, which I equate with dumplings. Judging by what was left on the serving wooden baskets, hakaw seemed especially popular (what you see in the picture is all that was left from a container that could probably house 300 of these delectable, translucent pockets of shrimp). I also liked the fusion of the pork dumpling (Chinese) with the nori wrapper (Japanese).

Continuing the Oriental theme, we both had the beef with broccoli as well as a pork dish uniquely named but would be called patatim elsewhere. The beef dish was so-so but the slowly cooked pork was quite lovely in its texture and softness, as well as having a mild flavor that I've come to associate with previous versions I've had.

I proceeded to the grilling station to have some seafoods cooked, but the line for the service was unbelievably long and harried, so I resigned myself to choosing from the already prepared foods, which left some (I don't want to say much) to be desired. None of the skewered meats were memorable, and the seafood combination, while visually appealing, tasted like it was covered in day-old breadcrumbs, steeped in even older, used oil. (I was really not happy with this dish.) Things looked a little better with the Baked Fish, although I would have preferred a stronger flavor. 

I could not even get to half of the dishes that were offered because people were just swarming over the trays like they were on their last meal on death row. I resolved then to just go to the dishes that would colloquially be called linalangaw  (literally, buzzed about by flies) and I ended up with grilled zucchini, their "pizza for the day" (I wasn't too sure what flavor it was) and Batangas beef. I was excited to see it medium rare by default and I haven't had a good hunk of bovine goodness in quite sometime, so this seemed like a good way to remedy that.

That pink-brown spectrum just sets my taste buds aflutter, and I had two servings, one without the truffle sauce (which I found quite tasty). When I looked at the way people were pushing and "navigating" I told Art that I would stay rooted in my chair, which turned out to be a bad decision because by the time I got up to satisfy my sweet tooth, a thousand other people had the exact same idea at the exact same time, and the scene at the savory dishes was only replicated by the dessert display, only in even more harassing a manner because they were only concentrated in one area.

The one dessert that people didn't seem to care for was the frozen yogurt, which I found strange given that so many yogurt-dedicated places have sprung up in our metropolis. Oh, well, more for us, then. 

I suspect that our lack of enthusiasm had much to do with the general atmosphere we experienced at Vikings. We never got to try the caviar that our friend Malyn told us to watch out for, and if there were oysters, they were probably blocked by 50 other people standing around it. 

The one bright spot was that we only paid for one meal, because birthday celebrants automatically eat for free (just present an identification card with your birth date on it). If only we could go on a day more relaxed, we might entertain the idea of returning again. But given the immense popularity of Vikings, that is one ship that I fear has sailed far and wide, never to return.


Vikings - Feast From The Sea
Building B, By The Bay, Seaside Boulevard,
SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
(02) 8463888

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Differentiating Homosexuality From Effeminacy

It may sound odd, but I think Christine Bersola-Babao actually did all of us a favor with her now (in)famous piece about children, (male) homosexuality and parenting: she highlighted much of this country's confusion regarding two terms that are often interchanged: (male) homosexuality and effeminacy.

Parenting advice?
(Courtesy of

We only need to look at the reactions that Bersola-Babao is facing right now, after her recent column piece entitled Being Gay came out in The Philippine Star.

Together with the "expert" advice given by Dr. Camille Garcia, a "noted psychologist," they gave the following summary about homosexuality (specifically if a child is "showing early signs of being gay") as it relates to parenting.

1. Gayness is not a plague.
2. When faced with it, "arrest the situation."
3. "Hindi kasi tama ang makasama sa buhay at magpapamilya ay parehas na lalaki."
4. "Kung ayaw mo itama ang ginugusto mo, hindi namin matatanggap yun."
5. "Remember, you can have effeminate ways, but you never desire men."

Bersola-Babao then relates how her own son had once shown an interest in his sister's "girly toys," (her very words) which further illustrates this confusion, that what we culturally determine to be "masculine" or "feminine" has been taken to be some form of indicator of a person's sexual orientation. In this case, a son that isn't even in grade school.

Talk about early sexualization: Why is this pair - columnist and psychologist - so patently intense about determining a child's sexual orientation?

Your hairstyle, clothing, toy preference, all of these have nothing to do with the sex of the person who sexually arouses you. Homosexuality is sexual attraction to the same sex: nothing more, nothing less. I would have expected Garcia to clearly define this - instead she talks about her faith and why homosexuality is to be discouraged. As far as I know (from my undergraduate days), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) - the "bible" of mental health professionals - does not classify homosexuality as an illness.

Is it too much to hope on my part that a clinical psychologist refer to facts instead of her faith when making professional pronouncements?

Bersola entitled her piece "Being Gay" - an indication that in some part of her mind, Bersola-Babao knows that homosexuality is a state of being; it therefore surprises me that she listed all the things "wrong" about it, in the same way it would if anyone tried to tell me about the "cons" of left-handedness or being black. (Incidentally, both those "conditions" were also demonized in various points in history, and isn't it amazing how the Christian Bible has also been used to justify those stances?)

She ends her piece by saying that "it is God who will judge us."

How I wish she listened to her own conclusion, as her entire piece reeked of judgement and disapproval, with the caveat that parents will always accept their children. And I have serious misgivings about any psychologist who would give a professional recommendation with her Christian faith as one of the basis for it.

Until we can get our terms correctly, might I suggest that columnists and psychologists (!) refrain from making public statements that not only are lacking in recognition of academic nuances, but give the appearance of credibility, just because it appears in a national broadsheet.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lunch Date At Cafe 1228

Whenever friends meet, it is always made more enjoyable by a hearty appreciation and serving of food, shared over raucous laughter and engaging conversations. So when two of our good friends met up with us today, we had lunch at Cafe 1228, the in-house restaurant of New World Hotel in Makati.

Cafe 1228 has a promotion called Half on Half at Cafe 1228, which gives you a 50% discount on their buffet, for lunch and dinner. The promotion only lasts until the end of March, so hurry and avail of this spread while you can. (You may view the promotion details here.)

This greets you when you enter Cafe 1228.

"Standard" appetizer served at every table.

Nuts over nuts.

Vegetarians, stay away from this board.

Go for this instead, Vegetable Cannelloni (which was good).

Oddly-cut pizza.

Not too many cheese choices, but they had what I wanted.

For the bakers-at-heart.

A small sampling of their Japanese offerings.

Various tempuras.

My first plate, out of...never mind.

I loved their noodle presentation.

Local fare is ably represented.

Roasted chicken + delectable brown rice = don't miss this

Not quite kaldereta: it's Beef Bourguignon.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

An almost-generic carving offering, Hawaiian Ham.

The guardian of the dessert section.

Words would ruin the moment.

Yes, summer - and mangoes - are here.

Nothing wrong with chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Eyes glazed over caramel glaze.

We saw these, and they were good.

Creme Brulee in really big cups.

With green tea and lemon, this was definitely...on a roll.

It just invites you to dive in.

Cafe 1228's spread is what I would describe as manageable, as opposed to so many spreads that commit the sin of offering too much, for too much. With the current promotion that New World has, it only costs 794 pesos per head, inclusive of all taxes and charges. My camera didn't capture all of their dishes, but I'm pretty sure you will find something for everyone. 

Their (price) promotion lasts only until the end of March. 

Go. Now.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

On The Cynthia Villar Brouhaha

(Courtesy of Youtube/GMA7)

(UPDATE: Cynthia Villar has released a statement in her Facebook account, read it here.)

1. I didn't know the new definition of RN - room nurse. I've gone through my whole life thinking that it stood for Registered Nurse.

2. Is that really what students who study Nursing want to be, whatever room nurse means? I wish someone would ask Mrs. Villar point blank what it is she was trying to convey with those two words. A cursory glance at the online reactions of nurses will tell you they do not like what they heard from the candidate. At all.

3. Correct me if I'm wrong: you can't be a Registered Nurse unless you've taken up a Bachelor's degree in Nursing, which is meant to help you in the skills and competencies required in the licensure exam to be granted a "R.N." - so what does Mrs. Villar mean when she says a BSN isn't really kailangan (needed)?

4. Many online comments are verging on fury, because they understood Mrs. Villar's comments to mean that there isn't any difference between nurses and caregivers, and the insult seems to be twofold - saying that nurses are interchangeable with caregivers, and that caregivers aren't really required to be competent.

5. Mareng Winnie's reaction is a perfect example of a picture being worth more than a thousand words.