Last weekend, I and my whole family celebrated Nengkoy’s 82nd birthday. And every year, we make sure that Nengkoy’s birthday is celebrated in a grand way. The whole family would spend overnight in an opulent resort out of town.
But this year was a little different. Though it was still an overnight out of town, it is now held not in a luxury resort but at a more private place. The venue this year was a little different and a lot farther from Manila. It was a 5-hour travel by land. We held it at the super huge and lavish house of Thatcher and Alexis, my niece and nephew-in-law or the two of the plenty grandchildren of Nengkoy.
And like every other year that was, this year’s celebration was a blast. And an addition to the already huge family has joined us, our little boy Arziolo joined the fun filled celebration.
Nengkoy gave us a scare last year when she suffered from some numerous serious ailments. We hope that this year would be a very good year for Nengkoy health wise. The whole family only has two wishes for her. That would be good health and continuous luck in her mahjong exploits.
My family is so nutty like a fruitcake! It has been weeks that some members of my family were contemplating on revisiting and spending the weekend at Okada Manila, the iconic oceanfront integrated resort here in Manila. We then decided to visit one Saturday.
And while everyone was fixing and getting ready to do the “pasyal” (translation: stroll) everyone were suggesting what to do and where to eat while inside plush and lavish Okada. That is until I raised the idea of dropping the plan of going to Okada and we should instead go to S&R where unhealthy American food are available. My nephew Luis reinforced my idea when he expressed that he is craving for some delicious Clam Chowder which Nengkoy also loved and never misses to order every time we dine there.
While we were in the car heading to sophisticated Okada, everybody then decided to do a detour. We agreed to replace the long-ago-planned weekend destination, that is, from the grand and luxurious Okada Manila to the huddle-filled and unsophisticated food court of S&R membership-shopping store!
I ended up enjoying the Clam Chowder, a big chunk of pizza and two pieces of crispy fried chicken! And since we are there, I decided to buy a tray of huge muffins and a big bag of toilet paper rolls. While munching on the greasy pizza, I contemplated that my crazy family’s detour to S&R food court was in agreement to Leonardo Da Vinci’s notion that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
Like any other Christian family, my family every year is at the heart of Christmas. 2018 Christmas celebration is no different from the yearly revelry that occurs at Nengkoy’s abode. This year though is a little different because there is a little additional member of the family, my 8-month old grandnephew Arziolo.
And as usual, I am the designated person to take photos of the party. There were so much photos I took last Christmas Eve that I was able to create a short video out from it. Enjoy watching…
From Nengkoy and my whole family, let me again greet everybody a very Merry Christmas! And since this post covers a YouTube video, let me express how vloggers would invite viewers by saying: “Hi guys!!! Don’t forget to press the like button and subscribe in this channel!” Hahaha!
About two weeks ago, Nengkoy, I and my family had an early dinner in one of the posh and popular Filipino-fusion cuisine restaurant just beside the lobby of the deluxe and swanky Conrad Hotel (hahaha! I refuse to name the restaurant). It was my first time tasting Pares in that dinner.
Pares is the Filipino’s common reference to a Braised Beef Stew usually paired with garlic fried rice and a bowl of clear soup. Pares is a common dish served in carinderias (small local eateries) usually found along the side streets of Manila.
Since it was my first time, I don’t really have an idea how a good Pares tastes like. That is why I did not know if the version of the posh restaurant was way superior as compared to other Pares-es served in customary, regular and more economical carinderias.
My adventurous nephews however are more well-versed than I am in terms of the taste of Manila’s street food and cuisine. My nephews particularly Denden commented that the Pares served in Café Adriatico is way more delicious as compared to the version served in the restaurant we were having dinner at. He nevertheless commented that the food presentation by the posh restaurant was way more gorgeous as compared to the plain and simple Café Adriatico dish.
When I try to recall if Café Adriatico serves Pares, without batting an eyelash, I reminded Denden that Café Adriatico does not serve it. He then informed me that Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja dish is actually a Pares disguised in a modest presentation and is called in a different appellation.
My other nephew Luis confirmed this observation and stated that indeed, Beef Ninja of Café Adriatico is a Pares dish. Both agreed that though it needs improvement in terms of food presentation, Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja is among the top three Pares-es they have ever tasted.
This inspired me to order Beef Ninja when I had the chance to dine at the 40-year old Café Adriatico in their Malate, Manila branch. While doing some photo shoot of the dish, I wonder which came first in terms of evolution. Was it Beef Ninja of the 40-year old restaurant or was it Pares served in carinderias? I may not know the birth of Pares and how it really tastes like, I nevertheless savored the delicious flavor of one of the best Pares (in disguise) dish on the planet.
It’s September and Finding Tom basically said everything I want to say about Christmas here in the Philippines. Watch this….
To add to what Tom Finding said in his video, I would like to say that Christmas in the Philippines is also for the children. Though it is also for the children, I however, could no longer recall when was the last time I bought a Christmas present intended for a child.
In fact, my youngest twin nephews are in their freshman year in college while my youngest niece is in her senior high. Though it has always been a blast, there has been no baby around Nengkoy’s house for the past eons of years during Christmas.
But Christmas this year would be a little more special because of this kid…
Looking forward to seeing the first Christmas celebration of my first grandnephew, Arziolo.
Mahjong is my family’s game played in Nengkoy’s house very Friday night. The shuffling sound of mahjong tiles reverberating inside my mother’s living room area every Friday night is literally a weekly occurrence. Every child of Nengkoy (including me) does in fact know how to play this old and traditional Asian game.
And every member of my family seated to play this game would in some way transform into someone different. We would be more focused, more fierce, somewhat smart and strategic as if in a funny attack mode. This is especially true with Nengkoy. She would be so engrossed, she would not mind a word you say if you try asking her what she has done all day or what food has she prepared for dinner.
With our being so well versed with Mahjong, it was easy for us to process and easily understood the mahjong scene representations made by the director of the movie Crazy Rich Asians when my whole family watched this groundbreaking movie last Saturday.
In that mahjong scene between the characters of Rachel Chu (the NY-based Asian-American) and Eleanor (the overbearing matriarch and fearsome mother of Rachel’s boyfriend), we right away understood that Rachelle did the ultimate sacrifice when she let Eleanor win the mahjong game. Rachelle gave up her love, would-be wealth and basically her future with Eleanor’s son. She picked the needed 8-sticks tile to win the game yet she threw and discard it away so that Eleanor could win.
My whole family laughed when we heard Eleanor (played by Michelle Yeoh) uttered “Pong!” The scene would have actually been better if the characters can do the “sinasalat” act. It is a classic mahjong act in which players would be able to determine the tile they picked without looking at it but by merely using the sense of touch, i.e. by sliding the tile’s character through the player’s finger tips.
If in other Asian movies the fight scene can be so literal – in the form of Karate, Judo or other martial arts – I consider the mahjong scene in Crazy Rich Asian as the ultimate fight scene between the protagonist and the antagonist of the story. This scene actually unleashes the dragon in Rachel and ultimately tamed the bitchiness of Eleanor.
I was seated beside Nengkoy inside the movie house when Rachelle picked her “puro” (the needed tile to win). I heard Nengkoy say, Todas na Sya! Bunot Pa! (Translation: she wins! and with a higher pay).
And since mahjong is played by my family every Friday night, the mahjong scene in Crazy Rich Asian even made me further love this delightful film. The movie was definitely a Todas! Bunot! All-Up! and Syete Pares!
Me and my younger sister Joie last night saw the Manila leg of the Irish pop band Boyzone world tour and farewell concert. And since the songs they performed were so familiar to my ears, the general feeling after seeing the whole show was like catching up with an old bunch of friends who visited me and my sister after a very long time.
I had the ultimate fun watching Ronan, Shane, Mikey and Keith perform! The show was no longer about their youth, no longer about their looks and no longer about the winking of their eyes to the screaming audience. The concert was more about their music, it was more about their friendship and it was more about their appreciation towards their fans and the audience in this side of the planet. And the feel-good vibe kind of interaction with the audience was very delightful. It was more of a grown-up affair.
Since this now-mature boyband amassed numerous hit songs (unlike bands with only one or two recognizable songs throughout their repertoire), a Boyzone concert will always be sulit (translation: a good deal and worth every penny) that the audience paid for. I and my sister were actually singing along all throughout the show!
Boyzone may no longer be a boy-band that get their fans’ hormones intensely soaring but since their music will always be part of my past, this Irish pop group seem to have transformed into some bunch of good old friends who has been gone for quite some time.
At dahil piling ko prends ko sila, gusto ko na silang utangan.