My Christian Warrior

nengkoy & joe

I grew up in a Catholic family.  My father was Catholic when he converted to being a Born Again Christian back in the late 80s.  Ironically, his conversion happened in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia where he was based as an overseas worker.

When my father retired and decided to stay for good in the Philippines with my family, he was one active member of his church.  He even attempted to convert every one of us in the family.

Too bad for him, he started with me.  I actually commend my father for trying.  His strategy to start with me was so genius.  He knew that if I will be converted, it would be very easy for the rest of the members of my family to become Born Again Christians.

Up until the last days of my father, he never stopped in convincing and converting me.  I guess he knew that I am really the one who needs to be saved from the fires of hell. Hahaha! I can still remember the funny and humorous intellectual debate we had about how to be a true Christian while he was in the hospital.

It has been years and my father has gone to heaven.  He may have failed to convert me, yet I am pretty sure that in spirit, he still looks after me, Nengkoy and the rest of my growing family. He has always been my Christian Warrior.

I guess my father’s failure to convert me is really not a failure after all.  Because a true Christian Warrior will simply let you be the seeker of your own Truth.  And that is one of the multitude of impacts and contributions of my father to me.

Happy Father’s Day Tatay!  You got one proud son here…

Amishyu!

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The Food at Apartment 1B

A friend learned that I dined at Apartment 1B of The Henry Hotel and suspected that the food must have been no good that is why I did not write or post about it in this blog.  But since now that I am writing about it, it only means that I indeed enjoyed the food that they served us.

The selfish in me actually wanted the restaurant of The Henry Hotel to be a secret, but since friends learned that I dined there with Nengkoy and family, might as well spill the sumptuous beans! 

apartment 1b got some delicious secret…
beef burger with australian cheddar cheese and bacon
whole wheat spaghetti with grilled veggies (my personal favorite)
baby back ribs with honey bourbon sauce
croque madame! 
main course number 1: white toblerone cheesecake with rapberry coulis
main course number 2: carrot cake 
with nengkoy (of course)

I have nothing bad to say about the warm service, the appealing food and the relaxing ambiance.  The food at Henry Hotel actually was a big positive surprise!  I never expected it to be so good.  Their well-presented dishes were amazingly fine and delicious.

I have nothing but alluring and charming praises for the food served at Apartment 1B.  I will surely be back!

Angcharap!

A Rare Retail Experience in Pasay

I grew up in one of the most notorious and crime infested cities of the world, Pasay City.  The gang-infested town of New York, the dynamic human trafficking in Belize and the exploits of crime at the favelas of Brazil seem all so tame and subdued if to be compared to the felonies and transgressions that occur in my home city.

That is why I was so surprised to find out that right in the middle of dangerous Pasay, runs a rare and unusual Honesty Shop.  Honesty stores and shops (unmanned establishments in which the stores cash sales are relied upon the honesty of its patrons) thrives in some of the most nonviolent, remote and/or progressive spots in the world.  In fairness, there are actually 2 stores that I know that runs an honesty shop here in the Philippines, one is at the remote and peaceful province of Batanes while the other one is at the high-end and affluent university here in the Philippines. 

henry hotel

Enough with the topic diversion!  The store in Pasay that I am talking about is Honest Henry, an  honesty shop inside a compound where Henry Hotel is located.  I found this place when I and my family was about to have a hearty lunch inside Henry Hotel. 

nephew luis checking out the stuff inside the store 
proudly philippine made! 
stuff for sale!
this is how you do it!

The even rarer fact about this store is that it is not just selling cheap snacks and knickknacks.  It is selling locally-made pricey-looking crafts and souvenirs.  I was so surprised when I was checking all the merchandise!  Those were not cheap, shoddy and substandard! 

Honesty Shop at Henry Hotel was something so pleasing and refreshing for Pasay City.  It gives me the positive feeling and perspective that there still exists some glimmer of hope to the city where I grew up.

Anesti is the best palisi…

Arziolo, the Grand Nephew

Arziolo is the first child of my niece Glygly.  This kiddo made it official that I am now indeed a Grand Uncle.  First time seeing and touching this little champ melted my heart. 

cuteness overload

With the more than twenty nieces and nephews that I have, I’m pretty confident on knowing how to be a cool uncle.  But with the addition of Z (Arziolo’s nickname) in the family, I have yet to know and find out what it would be like being a Grand Uncle.  One thing though is for sure, it would always be some cheerful meetings in the future with Arziolo and his delicious Tito Lolo.

And this makes Nengkoy to officially be a Great Grand Mother.  Welcome to Team Langit Arziolo!

Ang kyut!

Pinoy Elements in Villa Escudero

If I am to choose a place where to bring a foreigner-friend so as to fully immerse him to the culture of the Philippines, I would choose Villa Escudero in Tiaong Quezon. 

team langit in front of the museum

Villa Escudero seem to contain and characterize a wide assortment of a true Filipino culture.  Employees from engineering, to servers, to housekeeping and receptionists are all comfortably dressed in the traditional “patadyong” for the ladies and the colorful “camisa de chino” are worn by the guys.

The structures of Villa Escudero room accommodations are all native, characteristic of the traditional Filipino house known as “Bahay Kubo”.  Villa Escudero also boasts of a marvelous museum collection, majority of which are about the rich Filipino religion, clothings, history and even fauna.

After a glorious Filipino buffet lunch right in the middle of a river with a man-made waterfalls as a backdrop, guests will get to enjoy and watch a Filipino show inside a humongous pavilion.  The show features various uniquely Filipino dances, costumes and customs.  I particularly loved the energetic TInikling dance, the funny vignette about Sabong, the robust and brawny Maglalatik and of course the singing of the song Filipinas at the end of the show.  The show boasts about its authenticity for it was conceptualized and choreographed by the late Filipino National Artist for Dance, Mr. Ramon Obusan. 

Then later in the afternoon, guests would get to enjoy and listen to a “harana” (a serenade).  In the old days in the Philippines, a way for a suitor to woo a lady is by having a visit in the lady’s house.  But prior to being allowed inside the lady’s abode, the suitor needs to sing by the lady’s window otherwise known as the Harana

If the young lass showed up through her window, it means that the admirer will be welcomed inside the house after he finish his singing.  But if the lady refuse to show up and face the singing dude by her window, it signifies that she is not interested towards the guy singing outside. In Villa Escudero, their male employees get to sing old and traditional Filipino song in front of the houses where guests are billeted as if they are doing a “harana”.

But what I am most impressed about the authentic Filipino element present in Villa Escudero was its excellent food selection during breakfast.  Never have I seen a buffet breakfast as Filipino as that of the selection of dishes served in Villa Escudero! 

pinoy breakfast!

It seem that all remarkable Filipino breakfast dishes are featured in their buffet.  Aside from the usual fruits, yogurt, cereals, jams, milk and eggs, there were Filipino breakfast varieties like Champorado, Singangag, Lannganisa, Lugaw, Gatas Ng Calabao, Suman Sa Lihiya, Bibingka, Crispy Danggit, Crispy Dilis, Quesong Puti and of course Kapeng Barako.

Why do I know all these?  It is because Villa Escudero was again the chosen venue of Nengkoy for her to celebrate her 81st birthday.  Six years ago, this was the same venue for Nengkoy’s 75th birthday.  Villa Escudero no matter what year we visit still has the same authentic Filipino elements for everybody to enjoy.

nengkoy having buffet lunch by the water falls
i love it here…

Ay Lab Bilya Eskudero…

Food for Thoughts at China Blue

Every time a member of my family finishes his or her studies – may it be elementary, high school or college – the graduation dinner treat for him or her is always held at the old, not so expensive and not so savory Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila (which I refuse to name).  It has always been the tradition that Nengkoy got to insist that the celebration be held in that restaurant may you graduated with summa cum laude honors or you finished at the bottom of your class’ ranking.

But for the Master’s Degree graduation of my nephew Luis, I got to choose the restaurant!  Nengkoy allowed that it be held someplace else maybe it is because the graduation is not just an ordinary bachelor’s degree but something higher, more advanced and more difficult to obtain.

I chose China Blue.  Having previously enjoyed the savory food I this authentic Cantonese Restaurant located inside Conrad Hotel, Manila, I knew that Nengkoy and the members of my family in that dinner would truly enjoy some sumptuous treat!

Nengkoy with Team Langit. Congratulations Luis!
the mandatory photo-taking of me and nengkoy…
super nice private room where we had dinner… the waiter i guess felt that me and my family are so noisy we were billeted in this private room

And since I arrive early in the restaurant, took the liberty of ordering the dishes for our group.  And when everyone arrived and each dish was being brought in into our room, I asked my family not to touch the dish until I tell them to because I want to take pictures of it.

Here’s the actual photos of some of our orders.  And since I lack the ability on how to properly describe each dish, let me then attach a Chinese proverb for every one of it…

when you drink the water, remember the spring.
(paper thin crispy beef in sweet and spicy sauce)
a bird does not sing because it has an answer. it sings because it has a song.
(sweet vinegar marinated cherry tomatoes with sour plum)
when the winds of change blow, some people build walls while other build windmills.
(barbeque honey-glazed matsusaka pork neck)
what you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.
(steamed truffle mushroom buns)
he who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left
(crispy fried shrimp salad with wasabi dressing)
pearls don’t lie on the seashore. if you want one you must dive for it (hahaha! can’t remember what this yummy dish is called)
true knowledge is when one knows the limitations of one’s knowledge
(pork belly wok fried)
if you always give, you will always have
(crispy pumpkin coated with salted duck eggs)
if you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow
(fried spinach bean curd with spicy sichuan eggplant with minced chicken sauce)

I failed to take a photo of the Buchi or glutinous rice dumpling with red bean filling coated with sesame seeds (our desert) which according to our waiter Angel was a very good choice because it was the award-winning dessert of China Blue Manila.  My family are all sweet toothed, it would not come as a surprise that everyone would just rapidly dig into the delicately sweet Buchi and would not care if I have already taken a photo or not.

I really can’t figure out what specific dish was the highlight of that dinner.  It is because every dish was beautiful, every dish was delicious and every dish deserves a big round of applause!

And when Luis would decide to further pursue his studies, doctorate degree that is.  I’m pretty sure Nengkoy would again agree that Luis’ PhD graduation dinner be held again in China Blue Manila.

Kongrats Luis!