LEE KUAN YEW, 1923–2015

23 03 2015

TODAY MARKS the end of an era.  Today, at 3:18 AM, Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, died.

I remember telling my family yesterday how uncharacteristically it rained so hard in Singapore.  Not a ray of summer sunshine could pierce through the dark clouds.  And the heavens cried for hours on end.  Now I think I know why.  The heavens seemed to have wept with the people of this city state.

As a Filipino living in Singapore, all I know about the late Lee Kuan Yew, I had heard from my father who is outstanding in Math and World History; read about in books; and, heard from a Philippine Presidential candidate who promised to rule my country after how Lee Kuan Yew took Singapore from Third World to First.

His accomplishments and all the odds he had to overcome aside, I feel that what he possessed – which is the hallmark of any great leader – was charisma.  All things being equal, that unspeakable quality set him apart.  It is palpable from even the black and white photographs that have flooded the internet at the news of his passing.

Walking back to the office from lunch at the market, I passed by groups dressed in somber tones of black, grey, and navy blue, engaged in pocket discussions extolling the exemplary man that was Lee Kuan Yew.  It almost felt like the Little Red Dot is his one big family mourning his loss.  Having lost my own dearest grandmother a couple of years back, I couldn’t begin to imagine how today’s event must feel for the seven grandchildren left behind.  I’m an outsider and I do feel particularly sad too.

Singapore marks its 50TH birthday this year.  With its founding Prime Minister’s passing in the same year, it just further underscores what Lee Kuan Yew had helped make possible.  He left – and will always be remembered – as a most accomplished and beloved man.

I would never be able to lay claim to originality with this line: “Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore.”  But I think this is one of those things that transcend the boundaries of mortality.  I think Lee Kuan Yew is and will always be Singapore.

 

Farewell to Singapore's Founding Father, Prime Minister LEE KUAN YEW, September 16, 1923 – March 23, 2015.

Farewell to Singapore’s Founding Father, Prime Minister LEE KUAN YEW, September 16, 1923 – March 23, 2015.

Copyright © 2015 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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The Great Gatsby

13 05 2013
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My copy of the American classic The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a 1953 re-print of the 1925 original. Cover art is by the great Paul Bacon.

BY THE end of the first three paragraphs of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third novel, I knew I would not be able to put it down anymore until I hit the end.

Anybody who has ever asked me about my writing would know that I would always struggle with the opening paragraph.  To me it’s the most important part of any written work.  When I get past it, everything else just flows.  And this is why I love The Great Gatsby, the novel.  The opening paragraph can hold you captive – up until you read about “a sense of the fundamental decencies” by the time you reach the bottom of page one.

I own the 181–page, 1953 re–print of the 1925 classic.  The cover art is not the original Francis Cugat but is Paul Bacon, regarded as one of the most prolific book jacket artists of all–time.  The unforgettable cover art for CATCH–22 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest were also by him.

Back to the prose.  I will forever hold The Great Gatsby – often called the best American fiction ever written – in the highest regard not for the story it tells, but for how this story was written.  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing is stylish, elegant and sparse yet enough to bring into existence characters with varying shades of hue and perceptible depth.  This quality in his writing may have prompted Baz Luhrmann to render his celluloid interpretation of this beloved classic in 3D.

I won’t say that The Great Gatsby is the best written work of fiction.  But for how it was written, I have only one word in mind.  Perfect.

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My copy sits perfectly with my wristwatch magazines and notebooks.

 

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This copy was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons/New York, the original publisher of the 1925 first edition.

 

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Copyright Page. Cover art is by Paul Bacon.

Now, how does the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Jason Clarke, Isla Fisher, and Carey Mulligan measure up?  We’ll see.  I’m re-reading the book before I hit the cinemas.

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About 10% of what’s on queue for my reading. Hahaha! That’s Carey Mulligan, who plays the role of Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s celluloid interpretation of The Great Gatsby.

 

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Carey and Eric with Jay

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Of a lady, iron and a speech

11 04 2013
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The headline. 09 April 2013. Singapore time.

A CHILDHOOD spent in the 80’s meant hearing quite a lot about Mrs. Margaret Thatcher – mostly from the evening news and the national broadsheets.  Mommy, my maternal grandmother, would often talk to us about her.  Usually, in the same breath, she would make references to the Marcoses and the Reagans whenever she mentioned the 11–year resident of Number 10 Downing Street.

The headlines a couple of days back read, “’Iron Lady’ of Britain dies of stroke at 87.”

Love her or loathe her, her impact to her country’s politics, not to mention the world, cannot be denied.  Personally, I had made one direct reference to her by way of that speech I delivered at that United Nations conference for students that I went to as a 16–year–old high school student.

The speech opened with a direct quote from the lady herself.  Up to this point, 22 years from when I first delivered that speech, it is something that I can recite, culled purely from memory.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Thatcher.

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The opening part of my now 22-year-old speech. I opened with a quote from the Iron Lady herself. My eldest brother helped me with this speech.

 

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Three surviving “Best Speaker” pins from Toastmasters International. I must’ve amassed a total of at least five. All these were won for impromptu speaking. You’d draw lots (“your topic or subject matter”) just before you go up to the front to speak. Everything is timed. So you’ve got to have an opening, a body and a closing… all under strict time pressure.

 

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Thank you, Mrs. Thatcher. May you rest in eternal peace.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The New Builder

19 03 2013
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This is where I earned my degree – the Mapúa Institute of Technology inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila!

 

WHERE THE hell is Mapúa?”

I was quite happy that when I looked up I immediately saw “The Bayleaf” all lit up in the Intramuros sky.  Though I was running late for my meeting with Ms. Ann of Beautiful Weddings for the final run-through of the Zildzic–Nuda reception program, realizing that I didn’t have to really worry where “Muralla corner Victoria Streets” is took care of whatever cares I initially had.

However, being still cognizant of the Intramuros skyline of 17 years ago, I knew that a part of The Bayleaf’s wall (or firewall) had passed beyond where I used to enter and exit as a college student proud to brandish my ID that said I was a Mapúan.  So right after my official business was through, I had to run next door to pay my Alma Mater a much delayed visit.

I don’t know what it is about “coming back home” to one’s school that instantly put an ear-to-ear smile on my face.  Even the possibility of being rejected entry at past 8:00 PM didn’t faze me a bit.  I immediately noticed that while the small security guard office of my youth had remained intact, the school had built a more spacious receiving area to welcome students and visitors alike.

Faced by the guard on duty, I blabbered about being an alumnus and how thrilled I was to be back within my Alma Mater’s hallowed halls, how I had just come back to the country after being away for quite a while, and how they should let me in just to allow me “a journey to the past”.  I guess I still had whatever iota of charm other people had attributed to me because before long, the security guard himself was smiling ear-to-ear at me, a reaction dittoed by a few students standing nearby.

“Sir, do you still know your student number?  And what degree?”

Like the muscle memory that makes you never lose your knowledge of riding a bicycle, the part of my brain that stored my college student number could only be too happy to finally retrieve the information from deep within my cerebellum convolutions.  Before I knew it, the numbers were just firing off.  “It’s 9–x–x–x–x–x–x–x!”

“Sir, here you are.”

“Really?  Does it say I graduated at the top of my class and that I was the Editor–In–Chief of the school paper?”  It has to be said that my reaction was part excitement at the thought of being granted entry and – yes, it has to be admitted – part (little) braggadocio.  It just felt like a very safe environment to just be myself.  After all, I was among “my people”.  My fellow Mapúans.

They made me note my entry down on the visitors’ logbook, demanded a valid ID, and on to my right wrist stamped, “MIT:  VERIFIED MAPUAN”.  I kept staring at this stamp, wanting to preserve it for as long as I could – which meant up until the time I took my next shower.  Hahaha!

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This way to my school! It’s the one on the third floor.

 

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It’s been almost a couple of decades since I last took this flight of stairs!

 

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The School of ECE–EE–CoE is still at the exact same location. The office just had a facelift.

 

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That flight of stairs was where my small circle of friends would gather daily before class. I’d pass by here on my way to the office of the school paper. I can’t remember if the circular bench was the one that was already there during my time but I do remember sitting here everytime it was my turn to distribute the latest issue of the paper.

 

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The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Office. I used to hang out here almost daily. It was already closed when I stopped by.

 

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The ATM machine is still located in the same small room across the Registrar’s Office. It’s RCBC now. But during my time it was a PCIB terminal. PCIB was later acquired by Equitable Bank, to become Equitable PCI Bank. This in turn was acquired by, I think, Metrobank.

 

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The Gymnasium. Still exactly as it was when I was a student. This was where I delivered my Valedictory Address during my High School graduation.

Aside from all the rooms being air–conditioned, I don’t think much has changed.  The stairs landings where I would meet up with my classmates to check up on assignments or group projects are still there.  The NW (North West) room where I aced (read: got 100%) all of my Statistics exams – arriving 15 minutes late yet finishing first in about 15 minutes every time – is still there.  The laboratories where I played Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier now hold not only the history of those who had come before me, but also my own.

I went to the School of ECE–EE–CoE and asked the lone remaining faculty member and his four students all sorts of questions like who the dean now is and if there is anybody from my batch who has stayed to teach.  I heard some familiar names and left word for them to get in touch.

I left the faculty room all set to pay one final place a visit.  Clearly, I saved the best for last.

At the corner of the NW Building on the fourth floor is a place that was my home for four years.  As the “traditional” honor student in college, I shunned any involvement in extra–curricular activities except for three things – as a guest tutor at IECEP or any ad hoc remedial classes, as officer of the Honor Society (Hey, I wouldn’t miss my annual acoustic solo of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” during the Christmas Caroling!), and as a writer for the school paper.  That corner happens to still be the official address of The New Builder (TNB), “the official school organ of the Mapúa Institute of Technology”.

I felt my heart beat grew quicker and quicker as I inched closer to the office door.  It was as if the most important muscle of my body had lost regard for my existence and was threatening to break free from flesh and bones, wanting to beat me to making it to my intended destination.  I didn’t know what to expect and what to say to whoever I would chance upon at the office.

The only other time I was that nervous going to the TNB Office was when I went to report on my first day as Staff Writer.  It has to be said, I topped the Qualifying Exams of my batch of over a hundred aspirants.  Haha!  They took in the Top Four.  I guess that of the many things I wrote, it was my essay on how to handle criticism that was the clincher to my favor.  They handed us back our work and that essay was the one with the most glowing (handwritten) reviews.  Looking back, I was also nervous because I didn’t want to disappoint my eldest brother who was in the staff at the time and later became Editor–In–Chief himself.  In High School, we were in the same situation – he was Editor–In–Chief a couple of years before I assumed the post myself.  Insert cliché here – “history repeats itself.”  Haha!

I noticed that it was the still the same wooden door.  It was the same glass window.  The familiar comforted me and stilled my beating heart.

I knocked.

The door was opened and I broke into yet one of my unbridled introductions.  All that Staff Writer Ruben “Ruru” A. Mercado, Jr. could do was smile.

And I guess silently pray that I wasn’t some psycho.  Hahaha!

It really felt great to be home.  I couldn’t wait to go back.

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My office of four years as part of the school paper. Hmmm… Memories light the corners of my mind… Hahaha!

 

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eNTeNG, Editor-In-Chief (School Year 1994-1995) and Ruru, Staff Writer (SY 2012-2013). I started as a Staff Writer myself, SY 1991-1992.

 

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It’s my turn to smile now.

 

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This is Ruru, in action as drummer in the TNB Band (yes they have a band!), captured in a sketch by his girlfriend who is taking up Multimedia Arts and Sciences (MAS) and is on the Staff as well. Apparently, a lot of the writers in the school paper are taking up MAS.

 

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There are at least twice as many people on the school paper Staff this time than during mine. To maximize the space, they built cabinets and desks all around the walls. Each staff member has his or her own space.

 

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I think it was still a blackboard during my time. Hahaha! I like concept “brainstorming” or development that is on it.

 

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It’s time to go. I will always love this place.

 

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Of course I asked from Ruru a copy of the latest issue. As well as a copy of the latest Qualifying Exam questionnaire. During my time, we didn’t have this questionnaire. Instead, we were made to “anonymously” write a number of pieces under time pressure (a couple of hours) – an editorial, a personality profile, an interview feature, a couple of essays, poems, etc. I say “anonymously” because our works were only identified by control numbers, no names.

 

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The Masthead. So now it is officially called “The Official Student Publication of Mapúa Institute of Technology”.

 

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So we’re still lording it over Quiz Shows. I’ve had my fair share during my time. Hahaha!

 

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I find this Editorial to be quite powerful and very “now”.

 

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Meet The New Builder Staff! One thing that immediately leapt off of the page to me was the line “The New Builder is a member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)”. We weren’t yet when I was Editor-In-Chief.

 

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The TNB Staff… Putting faces to the names.

 

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I totally agree!

 

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Okay, I will say it… Guilty! Hahaha! Hopefully not all of the time. I have to say this, this is my favorite column name! “The Coffee Bean”… Nice noh?

 

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Amen!

 

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The center spread is a very colorful feature on “Mapúa in Christmas Apocalypse”.

 

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This is me! Hahaha!

 

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I’m so tempted to answer this Qualifying Exam questionnaire!

 

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The questions are part serious, part fun. I’m curious to read actual responses to such tricky, witty questions! But to start, I want to try answering them myself!

 

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This marker commemorates our founder, Don Tomas Mapúa.

 

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Proud to have a copy of the latest issue of The New Builder! The writers are really talented!

 

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Parting shot. Till next time, MIT! And TNB!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The universe conspires and makes dreams come true as one comes forth from two

17 03 2013
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The very classy invitation, personally delivered to Singapore by the Best Man himself. I love both the cursive and block fonts used.

MARRIAGE IS the feeling of one in the understanding of two.

After hearing that from the father of the bride, I walked away from my latest wedding reception emceeing gig with the persona of a pondering, pensive young man staring at one of life’s truths foisted on his way.

You live your life single long enough that you soon miss out on life’s little truths and – dare I say – life’s little pleasures.  It takes a wedding to bring things to light.  One could easily dismiss the speech of the father of the bride as the requisite dispensing of pieces of advice – often about how the newlyweds need to be patient with one another and, it has to be said, “work” on the marriage – but that evening, the words I heard reverberated with a deeper meaning and the thoughtfulness of someone who really meant well.

At weddings, we often hear well-wishers encourage newlyweds to nurture the best things that they like about each other, as their separate lives become one life; separate homes, one home; and, separate fortunes, one fortune.  Throw in individual backgrounds that trace their roots to two different continents, and you realize that as a well-meaning friend, you share in your friend’s joy just as much as you whisper a prayer of thanks that this really is one of those when – hold on for the cliché ahead – two become one.

I looked at my good friend of many years, the blushing bride, Mitzi, and I knew that all this time, her life has been made a bit more interesting by the possibility of having a dream come true.  She said so herself in her vows.  Her dashing groom, Sead, dapper in his coat and bowtie, fulfills her dream by coming to her life just when she was ready to receive him.  I’ve always believed that there is something so magical about weddings.  But at that very moment, I also got reminded of Paulo Coelho’s  The Alchemist because it did feel like all the universe conspired to help realize – and make successful – the Zildzic–Nuda nuptials.

The wedding march started at the exact appointed time at San Agustin Church and Convent inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila.  One of the most popular venues for weddings, San Agustin Church is one of only four Baroque churches in the Philippines to be designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.  A place with such rich history and importance proved to be the only fitting place to solemnize and bless the first day of Sead and Mitzi’s lives together.

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The façade of the historic San Agustin Church and Convent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

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The ceremonies started at the appointed time. One can’t be inside San Augstin Church and not feel being transported in time by the ornate carving, grand chandeliers, granite floors, and all the gold gilding.

 

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View from the ornately carved main door. Simply breathtaking.

Through this church’s ornately carved main door and beneath a historic  trompe-l’œil ceiling, Mitzi, radiant and doll-like in her white wedding gown with an intricately beaded bodice and a skirt that brought to mind the restless billowing sea, took her trip down the aisle to meet Sead waiting for her at the other end.  Framed by the afternoon tropical sun, Mitzi, my good friend, was a vision.

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One more look at the façade and it was time to head to the reception venue for some final pre-work.

 

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I kept time in check – running to and from home, the church and the reception venue – by wearing a Rolex to this very special event.

 

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Notice the earphones plugged into my Blackberry? It’s because I used all the time I was in the car to rehearse “in my head” the two songs I sang at the reception. One was in Filipino and the other was in English.

As both guest and emcee at the wedding reception, I knew that I had to cut short my partaking in the church ceremonies.  I took one quick glance at my Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air–King and knew that by the time the first reading (by Engr. Rez C. Punzalan) and the second reading (by Engr. Michael S. Borreo) were done, I had to rush to the reception venue to make it to the strict call time of 5:00 PM.  (Being given a “call time” made everything feel quite professional apart from the very personal aspect of being asked to emcee this event many months prior.)

This being an event wherein “all the universe” conspired to make it happen, I wasn’t surprised that at the helm of all the planning was Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners, headed by the very lovely and gracious Ms. Ann Samiado.  As planning for their wedding was a huge production of international proportions – Mitzi and Sead are based in the States, their families are scattered throughout Europe, Northern America and the Philippines, and their friends and members of their bridal entourage are split between Singapore and the Philippines – the couple opted to get the services of a real pro to ensure that their exceptional day will become exactly that – exceptional.

From the church, I hopped back in the car and after a couple of turns along four blocks found myself staring at the impressive façade of La Castellana, as if caught in a space–time continuum that warped me back to Spanish Colonial Philippines.  Located at Cabildo corner Beaterio Streets, Intramuros, Manila 1002, La Castellana, which used to be an ancestral house, further underscored the sense of family and respect for time-honored traditions that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding was clearly becoming to be.

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The impressive façade of La Castellana, the wedding reception venue.

 

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The very first thing I did was meet up with Ms. Kristine, then… I just had to check my outfit on the mirror. Hahaha! I usually wear an all-black ensemble and just put a pop of color by wearing the wedding motif as the color of my necktie or bowtie. For Sead and Mitzi’s wedding, I put on a new pink dress shirt of Italian provenance and a bowtie in fuchsia pink. In my left hand is the clear folder that contains, of all things, the printout of my e-Ticket for my flight back to Singapore the next day. My very trusty travel agent of years now had provided it to me earlier in the day.

 

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The Bayleaf in Intramuros, the venue of the final rehearsal and where I first met Ms. Ann of Beautiful Weddings and her team.

 

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The marker at The Bayleaf Intramuros

I was told to look for Ms. Kristine of Beautiful Weddings who would brief me on the last-minute, final adjustments to the reception programme – just the changes from the rehearsal and “final” run-through we had a couple of nights back at the Bayleaf Hotel, also in Intramuros.  But before I could do that, I had to soak in the sights that were before me.  I walked through the three-paneled entrance and found myself admiring the grand foyer, for a split second finding my synapses struggling with which between the amber crystal chandelier and the huge flower arrangement atop the solid wooden table was the focal point.

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The Grand Foyer, La Castellana. Notice the granite floors, the solid wooden table on which rests that huge flower arrangement, and the famed amber crystal chandelier.

 

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There was a mirror at the Grand Foyer. I couldn’t help it. Hahaha! My perfume of choice for this event? The classic EGOISTé PLATINUM by CHANEL.

I admired the granite flooring, made my deep aubergine English leather shoes of Singapore provenance play against the texture, before my peripheral vision caught the striking color motif of this celebration – fuchsia pink against a backdrop of pristine white – and got reminded what I was there for.  To prepare for my emceeing job and contribute in my own way to make Sead and Mitzi’s day even more special, if that was at all possible.

I stretched my hand out in greeting, as I introduced myself to Ms. Kristine.  Like clockwork, she knew what to pull from a stack of papers, handed me a bag on to which was indicated “For eNTeNG” and quickly went over the final reminders.  As I’ve been emceeing wedding receptions for really close friends for quite a while now – this one should easily be at least my tenth time – I’ve always made it a point to prepare my own cue cards.  I was quite pleasantly surprised that Beautiful Weddings was a step ahead and had actually prepared for me a “professionally made” cue card set.  (This had happened only once before.)

Nerves had always played a part in my emceeing – and singing.  I felt that if I had lost this, together with it would go the excitement that undeniably makes me try my best to do a good job.  I often deal with this by taking a few minutes right there at the reception venue, while it would still be quiet, marvel at how beautiful and appropriate the décor is, and on a piece of paper just write away my opening spiel about what this particular wedding reception is all about.

The Salon de Joaquin Ballroom was set with linen-laid tables, perfectly balanced with the use of Tiffany chairs, very shabby chic in the gold glint of the glossy wood.  The flower arrangements in tall crystal vases, the linen, and the table settings popped as the table-and-chairs décor was not overtly done with fabric.  Everything was elegant and quite stylish.  Even the welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.  I took my seat at Table No. 7: Shanghai and turned my attention towards the direction of El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard).  I saw more beautiful flower centerpieces in a different dominant shade, imagined how romantic the fountain would look at dusk, illuminated by cascading crystal lights, and got reminded of the portents that led to this day.

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Ready for the celebration. A view of the Salon de Joaquin Ballroom.

 

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I like it that they opted for the more classy Tiffany chair than the usual fabric-covered chairs with huge ribbons tied around them.

 

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Table No. 11 is special to me. It’s FOLSOM! I heart FOLSOM.

 

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Table No. 2 is close to my heart as well. It is, after all, my current second home – Singapore!

 

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The welcome hors d’oeuvre platter of a selection of crostini by Hizon’s Catering Services Inc. oozed with the discriminating taste of the refined palate.

 

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Beautiful flowers at the center of each table. There are touches of lilac here. It’s the wedding’s secondary color motif.

 

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Welcome to my table, Table No. 7… SHANGHAI!

 

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I heart SHANGHAI. Once of my best friends in the whole wide world lives here.

 

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My favorite number, 5, is assigned to Sacramento. It never fails to bring to mind the line “If San Antonio sweeps Sacramento…” from the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.

 

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Awash in fuchsia pink at its special corner in the Ballroom is the three-tier wedding cake. In place of the usual bride-and-groom cake topper is a bouquet of purplish pink roses rendered in fondant.

 

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The wedding cake was a study in contradiction. Outside it was pristine white, punctuated only by touches of the wedding’s fuchsia pink color motif. Inside, the fondant ensconced a sinfully rich, devilishly deep dark chocolate cake!

 

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Right in front of the wedding cake table was the sound system and musicians setup. Here. one of the technicians was performing the sound check. Kudos to the sound people. For an open venue setup like Sead and Mitzi’s, I found the acoustics to be top notch, the speakers well-balanced. (But of course I will defer to the professional opinion of the DJ Raoul on this matter. Haha!)

 

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Subtle touches all around the Ballroom evoke images of the ever-present things in Sead and Mitzi’s life. Pretty ornate suitcases like these two in front of the newlyweds’s table speak of how much travel has been part of their individual lives and more so now as husband and wife.

 

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The newlyweds’s table. Notice how the Tiffany chairs are the same yet subtly different? I could tell which one’s Mitzi’s and which one’s Sead’s. Haha!

 

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Outside at the El jardin de la Luz (The Courtyard), several tables for cocktails and drinks were propped up. On top of each was this beautiful floral centerpiece. Very pronounced on the touches of lilac on these ones.

 

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Beyond these flowers you shall see the Spanish Colonial architecture of the courtyard, the cascading crystal lights and the palm trees that couldn’t help but provide a romantic backdrop to the festivities.

 

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The reception table where guests were orderly received was likewise beautifully set up.

 

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The Zildzic-Nuda nuptials was another exceptional event by Beautiful Weddings Bridal Consultancy and Wedding Planners. The firm is headed by its Principal Wedding Planner, Ms. Ann Samiado.

I tapped my fingers on the linen and found myself overwhelmed with happiness for the beautiful couple.  Before I knew it, the words were escaping from inside me, leaping off of my consciousness as pen hit the surface of paper.

TONIGHT IS a very special night.  I can’t think of a better place to be in to be part of the ultimate celebration of love – than in a wedding.

Tonight, Sead and Mitzi requested the honor of your presence as they give their love its fullest expression.  Fullest expression – don’t you just love those words?

We are all here because there’s always something so magical about weddings.  Look around and you will see that it brings family and friends together – some of you traveled miles, even halfway around the world to celebrate our couple tonight.

The table names echo just how much our couple’s love for each other defied distance and made “home” not just a place you can point to on a map or associate with a country code, but a reflection of them, their love for each other, and beginning tonight, right here, “home” is the reflection of their shared life.

Tonight, it’s about these two people who are willing – you can even say, brave enough – to take a chance in front of all the people they care about.  It’s incredibly inspiring.  It’s incredibly hopeful.

It just feels great to be a witness to that.

What I found to be most touching about this wedding was the presence of people from practically all over the world, a clear testament to just how much Sead and Mitzi are well-loved.  Families and loved ones came from different regions in the Philippines, Europe (Norway), and the United States.  Colleagues from Folsom in California, Singapore and from the Mitzi’s university and previous companies in the Philippines were well represented too.

It was noticeable that the couple assembled the people closest to their hearts to stand as their Principal Sponsors, Secondary Sponsors and members of the Entourage.  Clearly, people who hold the most influence to them from among family and the various stages of their lives – from student to accomplished professionals – were all accounted for and given the unique opportunity to help shape their young married life.

Among all these well-wishers, I waited in particular for the speeches from the Maid of Honor and the Best Man.  On a personal note, having known the Best Man Engr. Raoul M. Masangcay for years now, I marveled at hearing him speak in length and with such thoughtfulness for the first time.  He took a trip down memory lane, complimented the couple, and led everybody else in wishing the best of health and wealth for the newlyweds.  It was music to the ears.

And from the opening strains of “Seasons of Love (Theme from the Broadway musical RENT)”, lovingly interpreted by ANIMA Choir and Strings, it was clear that Sead and Mitzi’s union is a celebration of love, and that they will only allow it to be measured in terms of seasons of the same.

Congratulations and Best Wishes, Sead and Mitzi!

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Honor Guards lined the red carpet for Sead and Mitzi’s grand entrance, both at San Agustin and at La Castellana.

 

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I took this shot against the backdrop of the dinner buffet queue during the first break in the reception program. I later realized that I failed to take photos of the couple and the many guests on my own camera. Though we did manage to snap lots of shots with many other people’s DSLRs and iPhones.

 

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The very colorful and pretty dessert table. Beside it was a very retro touch – a chocolate fondue station!

 

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The guests were serenaded by the vocal stylings and top musicianship of the ANIMA Choir and Strings. That’s their manager Roger on his solo.

 

 

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The “strings” section of ANIMA Choir and Strings is composed of a percussionist, a flutist, a keyboardist and a violinist. The guys are awesome. They were only informed by Ann of my two songs a couple of days ahead, and we only had exactly one dry run less than an hour before the reception started. But I felt like they were able to take my voice where I wanted to while at the same time downplaying my vocal flaws. A–W–E–S–O–M–E. No wonder they’ve been a byword in the wedding industry.

 

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Doesn’t The Courtyard El jardin de la Luz transform into a place perfect for a romantic rendezvous at night time?

 

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i realize that I only managed to snap a shot of the couple during the bouquet and garter toss. Bummer! (I’m waiting to copy photos from my friend and colleague Engr. Aris’s DSLR.)

 

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This elicited a lot of cheers from the guests as they prodded Sead to go L–O–W–E–R! I couldn’t agree more with the Best Man in saying that our friend Mitzi was at her most radiant, most beautiful that evening.

 

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I don’t have all the photos to show for it, but I have to say that one thing that Sead and Mitzi’s wedding allowed was a veritable “reunion” of sorts among colleagues and friends from across the miles and seas. This one photo that survived the editing is of me and my good good G–O–O–D friend Adam from our company’s offices in Folsom, California. The last time that we bumped into each other was during business meetings in China. I was just so glad to see him at Sead and Mitzi’s wedding (Mitzi did tell me Adam was coming over). It was also nice to meet his girlfriend who he brought along.

 

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When it was already party time –WITH THE BAR OPENED WITH FREE-FLOWING WINE AND BEER!!! – another set of musicians took care of the sounds. This group is called, quite aptly, “Totally Mesmerized”. I loved their version of Gangnam Style that I found myself totally wanting to break into dance!

 

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That’s my cue card set which I made especially for Sead and Mitzi’s wedding. Notice that the first card is handwritten, as has always been my own “tradition”. I write my opening spiel only when I’m already at the venue of the reception. Some sort of belief that … “It will come to me!” Hahaha! Though I have to say that this time, I did end up using for the most part the cue card set provided by Beautiful Weddings. They have quite an amazing team – Ms. Ann, Mr, Jason, Ms, Kristine, Ms, Aya, and many others.

 

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I hope that Sead and Mitzi will forgive me for running away with my table’s name card – “Table no. 7: Shanghai”. I just simply loved it and thought it is the perfect souvenir. As you can see from the list, I shared the table with some of the most beautiful people.

 

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Cue cards and lyric sheets! As you can see, I prepared three songs (Hahaha!). I sang Filipino 70s band Hotdog’s “Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko” (Sead took a liking to this song, among many Filipino hits)… and Lionel Richie’s “Truly”. As backup, I have Baron Barbers’ “I Will Always Stay In Love This Way”. This song was the first ever that a couple asked me to sing for them. So I always have it in my backpocket so to speak.

 

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The beautiful wedding invitation! This is a nice addition to my growing collection.

 

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The Principal Sponsors, Best Man, Maid of Honor, Groomsman, and Bridesmaid.

 

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Esteemed collegues, family, really close friends and their little kids played the other important roles.

 

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Before long, it was time to bid La Castellana – and the party – adieu!

 

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One last look at La Castellana before my family and I headed off to another historic part of town – ONGPIN (a.k.a. Chinatown)!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





A lesson in the arts and history at the price of a bowl of noodles and with the best one can find in his travels

19 11 2012

A snap shot of Bin, taking a snap shot of the very colorful Fire Station, Clarke Quay, Singapore

IT’S FUNNY how it takes hosting a visitor before I realize how much of Singapore I have been missing out on.  Don’t get me wrong, I mean, for over a year now I have had my palate tickled and my belly – protruding, I have to say – pleased by the many gustatory options on offer in the Lion City.  Even I, with my insatiable appetite that has become the stuff of legends, end a meal with a smile plastered on my face.  The insatiable satiated by the guile of mee kiajia mee kia.

So when my recent–visitor–now–very–good–friend Bin floated the idea of visiting museums, I grabbed the opportunity with the quiet fierce precision of a Miyagi-san showing Daniel-san how to imprison a fly into the grasp of the chopsticks.

After office hours on the last day of his weeks-long assignment, Bin and I went on a walking tour of the city that led us to the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) at 1 Empress Place, a five-minute walk from Raffles Place MRT Station.  Though we came on foot all the way from Clarke Quay.

Bin, on the last day of his recent short-term assignment here in Singapore, about to cross the street.

 

Bin by the Riverwalk

 

“eNTeNG, can you keep up?”

 

At the Parliament

 

“eNTeNG, put a step on it! You’re … so… slow.”

 

The lobby of the Asian Civilisations Museum at 1 Empress Place. The entrance is on the left. The front desk is to the right. That’s the gift shop you see straight ahead.

This was not Bin’s first time at a museum here in Singapore, national monuments and museums being within minutes from his hotel and within five to ten minutes walking distance from one another.  Actually, he has been to ACM before, only thing was, it was already about to close and the farthest he had gone was view the giant calligraphy work of the “dragon” that soon found its way (henna) tattooed on to his upper left arm.

 

Are you students?

 

I looked quizzically at the front desk personnel, felt my lips break into a half smile and turned to Bin, brows furrowed but still with a smile on.  I subtly shook my head but even before I could coyly respond with the truth but in a manner as if acknowledging an indirect compliment, Bin simply said,

 

No.  We’re not students.

Then the adult charge will apply.

 

I could’ve died in boisterous laughter at this point when I realized she didn’t really ask because I was probably young-looking.  She just wanted to make sure the right rates would be applied.  I tried very hard to keep the boisterous laughter inside, we were in a museum after all.  Haha!

 

But if you’re willing to wait another 32 minutes then you can avail of our half off special.

 

Well what do you know!  Half–off specials are no longer confined to happy hour at the bars or at some gourmet restaurant that still wants to attract the crowds late into the evening.

I couldn’t help but declare, in my admittedly booming voice sometimes,

 

People in the arts are really not into it for the money!  Such noble people!

 

Then just as quickly I realized I had to clarify one more thing lest I subject myself to be embarrassed during the museum tour.

 

May I take photos?

Yes, but no flash photography please.

Oh, that’s great…  I know… intense light…

 

I guess I must’ve embarrassed Bin a little – he turns red easily (Haha!) – that he motioned me to move away from the front desk already.  We turned around and there it was, the perfect place to burn 30 or so minutes – the museum gift shop, aptly called, the “MUSEUM LABEL.”

MUSEUM LABEL, in the tiny – okay, make that ‘cozy’ – space it occupies at the corner by the entrance, bursts in the seams with an eclectic mix of goods a lot of different people could snap up.  The many personalities that make me up wanted to snap up everything in sight.

But for my rather limited capacity to contribute to a little more altruism in this world, I decided to forego my own selfish lusting after the limited edition museum wristwatch and agreed with Bin to get a surprise and dare I say, perfectly suited present for someone.

We decided on this shirt as the perfect present for someone.

 

We signed the guest book at the shop. Of course!

 

We helped ourselves with the free brochures.

After helping ourselves to all the beautiful, well-made, free flyers and brochures on all things Singaporean museums and national heritage available on the wall opposite the shop, it was time to ring up our purchase of two half-off tickets.

We were told that the English language guided tour was about to start.  Bin and I joined and by the time we both passed by the giant dragon calligraphy, I knew we were being ushered into a world that would reveal to me Singapore’s diverse cultural roots and just how rich the island’s history is.

Armed with just my Blackberry Bold 9780, I began snapping shots and noticed that the participants in the guided tour were a veritable United Nations on its own.  I loved how the guide perked things up by throwing curve balls of questions here and there.  I could spot who were probably the A students during their time.  They could’ve raised their hands first before answering and I swear it would just be like high school all over again.

As for me, I contented myself with just soaking up all the art and the history that was surrounding me.  Though I have to admit, if the guide promised a 3 Musketeers or a Milky Way chocolate bar for every correct answer I would wrestle my through the crowd and scream at the top of my lungs.  Haha!  I have to keep reminding myself, “eNTeNG, you’re in a museum.  Show some respect!

We passed by the Southeast Asia Galleries 3. 4 & 4A and marveled at the sight of artifacts from the Philippines – the Sarimanok, the Buraq, and a set of armour.

I felt so at home.

A humongous bronze drum. “What do you think this is?” was the first of the guide’s questions.

 

 

 

I asked Bin if this is still observed in China and he said that it is.

 

The guided tour had us moving between floors. I saw this near the stairs landing and just had to have a shot. To me it has the makings of a movie poster. I’m thinking…

 

The Singapore Asian Civilisations Museum is proud of this piece. It is one of only five in existence in the world right now.

 

Bin taking a photo of the Buraq. It’s from the Philippines!

 

The Buraq

 

The Sarimanok

 

Explaining The Sarimanok

 

A set of armour in metal and other materials

 

Explaining the set of armour. I wondered, “who could have worn this?” The answer’s here.

 

By the time we finished – we closed the place that night – we took the flight of stairs all the way back to the lobby. At some point, I looked up and saw this amazing view of the Singaporean skyline through the museum windows. I couldn’t resist to take at least one shot.

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved