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AA Patawaran

In Defense Of Shirley Bassey’s ‘Never Never Never’

At the recent concert of Arthur Manuntag at Emilio Mina’s Italian restaurant Caruso on Nicanor Garcia Street in Makati, I joined the table of Rustan’s Group of Companies chairman Nedy Tantoco. At my table were Emilio’s wife Evelyn Mina, Greggy Araneta, Ping Valencia, Tony Leviste, Gen. Benjie Defensor, brother of the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and his wife Margarette, and Patrick Jacinto. I was prepared to enjoy a repertoire of standards from my father’s time, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as thoroughly as every course of my four-course meal, particularly the platter of cold cuts for starters and my grilled lapu lapu that Emilio personally drizzled with olive oil. By the time dessert was served, a hearty tiramisu, I was blown over by Manuntag’s irreverent humor, vocal power, and ability to hold the audience’s attention. The highlight of the evening’s program, at least to …

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Trouble in the fourth estate

As evident in the turn of events, self-entitlement is not a Millennial problem. Lately, as the world at large expressed indignation over what was reported as President Rodrigo Duterte’s insensitive Hitler comment, likening himself to the vilified Nazi leader, German dictator, and mass murderer Adolf Hitler and, by so doing, insulting the memory of the millions of Jews that the Nazi regime oppressed and murdered. The report was far from the truth, if context were king. I watched the press conference in which the President delivered the statement upon his return from an official visit to Vietnam and I watched it again, playing back the relevant parts a few times, although I knew without a doubt just watching it once that he did not liken himself to Hitler—he was defending himself from his critics portraying him …

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The 13-Year Wedding March

Images by Noel B. Pabalate Theirs was a wedding 13 years in the making. That’s no joke or an exaggeration or a manner of speaking—it took Martin Rosario and Camille Ongpauco 13 years to finally decide to take the plunge, although for 13 years, since they met on a beach in 2003, they have been swimming in the deep waters of togetherness, replete with all the tension, friction, and terrors of rough seas on which they’ve managed to stay afloat, hands together, and all the joys, comforts, delights, and adventures of tide and time. But 13 years is a long time. At the wedding on a balmy weekend in early October, in the late afternoon of Oct. 8, 2016, at Angelfields Sanctuary in Silang, Cavite, just up the road to Tagaytay, the very, very long engagement was the theme of …

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Say Chiz

Images Noel B. Pabalate and Pinggot Zulueta All long for unity. All long for peace. Even in dirty politics, where the winner takes it all, it is, after all and ultimately, an honorable game in the name of country and countrymen, especially in the case of Senator Chiz Escudero, who was the first and the most gracious to concede to his rival, now Vice President Leni Robredo, at last May’s elections, the most vicious and divisive, with the highest turnout of voters at 84 percent, to date. At Sen. Escudero’s birthday dinner, a simple Mongolian barbecue at the Woodside Clubhouse at the Ayala Woodside townhouse complex on Doña Hemady in New Manila, Quezon City, the Vice President was clearly, though unofficially, the guest of honor. The birthday celebrant took her around from table to …

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They made it to the wedding

In a Mark Bumgarner pouf dress in black, Heart Evangelista or Love Marie Escudero was the perfect matron of honor to her sister Camille Ongpauco’s wedding the other Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Angelfields Sanctuary in Silang, Cavite. She came with her husband, Senator Chiz Escudero, and many of her friends, who had become as dear to her sister and her sister’s groom, her boyfriend of 13 years, Martin Rosario, over the years. It was Camille’s day, and Heart took her place just beside and behind her sister, cheering her on, drying her tears, carrying the bride’s wedding gown train, and walking Camille’s beloved 13-year-old cocker spaniel, Al Ongpauco, the ringbearer, down the aisle. She, along with their half sister Mitch Ongpauco (the other half sister Lissa Payawal Quirino was …

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Filipino first

But for the very, very first time I am a Filipino first. I’ve lost my blinders and I’m trying to see my country for what it is. Unlike the Dutertard, unlike the Yellowtard, I do not have the convenience and the comfort of blind love or blind hate: Just when I feel so right, something happens and I feel so wrong or just when I suspect I am so wrong, I suddenly feel so right. I’m sorry, my friends, that some of you feel so offended. I wish we could carry on just talking about books or our travels or the latest Michelin-star restaurant to hit town, but I’m  different now. I am no longer blind to the state of my country and yet... and yet... no longer blind I grope in the dark. Like …

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Talking politics

Since when have we forgotten WE SHOULDN’T TALK POLITICS (OR RELIGION) ON THE DINNER TABLE? I mean, what would Emily Post say? But, I guess, times have changed and so have the rules of engagement, like we all agree we should keep our smartphones in our pockets when we check into a dining room, but anyway we end up spending an inordinate amount of time fiddling with our phones between bites and during pauses in the dinner conversation. Etiquette, indeed, since we made an everyday expression of “Get real!”, has taken a backseat to what we truly feel, what we consider important, who we are at any given moment, regardless of the timing. The standard answer to the question “how are you?” at a cocktail party is “I’m all good, thank you, and …

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My profession is personal

Work has had a bad rap since time immemorial and yet, despite our clamor for work-life balance, there is no way around it, unless you were a trust fund baby or, like Adolf Hitler in his early years, when he did not land a single job because he would rather live off charity, staying in dormitories for the homeless in Vienna, than endure any job as a clerk or a laborer that he considered beneath his megalomaniac destiny, you were paralyzed by extreme indolence or incompetence. Even then, a trust fund baby, at least every trust fund baby I know, would find some way to work, setting up an entrepreneurship or an advocacy or turning hobbies, like art or photography or fashion or agriculture, into some kind of enterprise. The …

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La Divina

Elegance was not perfection Neither was it an illusion It was the trail of a scent A woman left behind   It was the fingers on the lips That stopped vulgarity from spilling out Not secrets shared in whispers But stories told in consideration of others   Elegance was not a dress you put on It was you in every detail of the dress Silk shimmering as it caught the light It was the gleam that shone through it   Elegance took no two-hour dress time Or a shower with every change of clothes You glided through every day From moment to moment with a pigeon’s haste   There was glamour in taking your time Easing slowly into the hours Yet every second you considered precious And never, never were you a minute late   Good taste was no better than good manners Boorishness was simply bad taste There was danger in self-entitlement It is now turning us all into savages   It might …

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Only in Manila

A three-day weekend! What could we do? What haven't we done? I booked an overnight stay at Manila Hotel. We stayed at The Grande Dame two years ago and the kids thoroughly enjoyed the amenities of the hotel. And they loved the food at Café Ilang-Ilang! This time I wanted to explore the surrounding sites. My kids have never set foot in Luneta Park, can you believe that? I wonder how many other kids have never walked or played in the park that most of the people in my era knew so well. I, however, have not gone back in decades. So I thought it would be fun to take them there and maybe even try riding the calesa. "Mom, a pony, look!" my five-year-old daughter said excitedly as we reached the last stoplight before our hotel destination. "We rode that when I was in Grade 4, in Intramuros, during the Carlos …

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