A wish your heart makes

25 06 2013

“A DREAM is a wish your heart makes.”

I must’ve first heard it on that animated fairy tale.  But I’m sure it has gone on heavy rotation in my head when Michael Bolton lent his amazing pipes to those immortal words.

Last week, these same words had gained a deeper realization for me.  After over three weeks, MOMMY finally appeared to me in a vivid dream.  In my dream, I was asleep and she came to sit at the foot of my bed.  She nudged me gently to wake me up.  And the moment I did, she hugged me tight and told me to not be sad.  She smiled at me, and then she hugged me tight once more.

She held my hand and off we went to walk.  We were talking the whole time – just like how we would spend our times together.

Thank you, Mommy, for seeing me one more time.  I still do miss you terribly.  I hope you are alright.


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

Comfort notes

19 05 2013

OFTEN HERE in Singapore, I don’t need to move away from my desk to survive a hectic workday.  I can successfully keep the insatiable, unceasing hunger pangs at bay with munchies I pop in my mouth from time to time.  You probably think that I could very well have made a pantry of one of the three drawers on my MPD (mobile personal drawer).  To a certain extent, I did.  But I actually survive more through the “love and care for me that is in other people.”


One morning, I found this paper rose on my desk. I still don’t know who made it for me. Ok, cue the song… “Paper roses / paper roses / …” HAHA!

If only my cubicle walls could talk, I would be regaled with anecdotes of food and notes left on my desk by some of the most generous and it has to be said – lovable – people I’ve ever come across here.  The surprises would come in the morning, perfect for starting one’s day, and any other time in between.  Regardless, they’re perfect for adding a spring – no, make that chutzpah – to one’s step in yet another long day in the office.

The food may have long disappeared – believe me, they’ve had (haha!) – but I have the accompanying notes to go back to and read.  They’re like a warm blanket I can pull up to my chin when the cool breeze blows through my windows at night.

And even in the perennial tropic that is the Singaporean warm weather, there really are times when the cool wind blows.


I receive a lot of these from my Malaysian friends. But this one, its Chinese name translated to “Black Sugar Biscuit” has got to be one of the ultimate best!



I asked someone to translate for me what these lovely delicious balls of gooey goodness are called. “Black Sugar Biscuits,” he said.



Malaysian treats don’t have to exclusively come from Malaysians. I have a Singaporean friend who always remembers me too!



These biscuits had a (purple) yam filling. Quite scrumptious too! I liked it.



These treats are paper-thin wafers or crepes called “Love Letters,” made by hand by a colleague’s aunt. Each bears a very intricate pattern. They are so delicious.


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These two boxes came all the way from Shanghai in China, from a beloved colleague I respectfully call “Ms. Lynda.”


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One box contained these sesame seed finger biscuits that had the feel and taste of biscotti. Perfect with tea or coffee.


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More cookies in the other box.



This is one amazing sandwich made by Betchie (or by her “Staff”). To this slice I sing, “Sana maulit muli…” Hahaha!



A variety of teas from Rhonee



My current “half-and-half” fixation, introduced to me by Cecille – Cadbury Brunch Bars! Every bar is half guilt, half “good-for-you” goodness.


Cupcakes from Ms. Sharon 00

Two muffins from Ms. Sharon



Chocolates galore! Godiva, no less. And there are so many others. Like that pack on the left. I’m not crazy about chocolates. But it’s nice to be thought of from time to time.



Two of the most heartwarming notes I’ve ever received came from my Bez’s (Glenda) two daughters, Kyla and Keisha!



The letter from Keisha opens up, literally, and actually has a story to it.



This one is from Kyla.



A collage of more recent notes that have been taking up real estate on my wall.



This came posted on a couple of morning treats from Ms. Madeline.



It’s soya!



Saw this on my notebook at the end of a workday.



Thanks again, Ms. Madeline!



Blast from the past – Some really memorable notes.



A lovely note from Trisha. Beside it is a card from Melissa and Sam.



Only a true kolehiyala has monogrammed stationery. Hahaha!



From Dearest Daphne Tatiana!



Of course there is a note from Batman!


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A farewell note from my Chinese best friend, Bin!


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

#18 Risa Hontiveros

8 05 2013
Departure - Risa Hontiveros Baraquel 00

That’s me and Ms. Risa Hontiveros, candidate for Philippine Senate in Monday’s national elections. This was taken at the NAIA, on the day of my departure for Singapore in 2011. Ms. Hontiveros was on her way to the States for a speaking engagement, if I remember it correctly. We shared the waiting area and a hearty conversation. She was so nice!

THOUGH THEY do have it on recorded history, the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nor do they have exclusive rights on how these rights are secured – the governments instituted among men derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed.”  This is why we have elections.

In a world that has long stood as witness to people’s rights being trampled upon, I’m quite proud of those moments – yes, they may be far between – when my country has breathed life to a democracy that is alive, well and kicking.  The 2010 elections was the last testament to this.

On Monday, my countrymen will again go to the polls to elect leaders to national posts.  Politics has always been a topic for healthy discussion at home.  We’ve never been a “more divided” household than in the 2010 elections – though everybody’s opinions were heard and respected – but this year, we’ve come to agree on one name.  (“Agree” is the operative word.  And it is relative.)

Risa Hontiveros deserves to be in the Philippine Senate.  She is principled and independent with her thoughts, her words buoyed by the characteristic gentleness and affectedly modest demeanor of a true Ilongga.  But to me she is more.  She is Roosevelt’s words incarnate – she speaks softly but she carries a big stick.  Oh, make that her magic purplealampay” (scarf).

The power of the people is on the ballots.  May the force be with her on Election Day.

Risa Hontiveros is #18 on the ballot.  Let’s take her all the way to the Magic 12.

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

Plain and less

8 05 2013

I’VE SUDDENLY become virtuous in satiating my cravings.  While I’ve run back to the familiar loving embrace of former flames – bagel and cream cheese – I’ve become exacting with their provenance.  Bagel should be plain and from NYC Bagel Factory.  Cream cheese?  The ubiquitous Philadelphia, conspicuously unavailable now in my favorite “whipped” variant but equally satisfying as “spreadable.”  And yes, the one with 80% less fat.


Plain and Less. But amazingly satisfying.



80% less fat (than butter or margarine). This thought comes in handy as I shove down my throat all the Danish streaky bacon I could handle. Hahaha!


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


5 05 2013
SQ - Solo Shot 01

“I ❤ MY MOM”… I wear this for my Mama, Mommy, and Lola, the Women in my life.

I GREW up in a loving home, and it helped a lot that I had my maternal grandmother as a constant fixture in my formative years.

She has been there from when I was a 5-lb baby in the ICU, watching over me everyday after work.  She would always comment how happy she was that I made it past my 10th day and grew up to be this tall, when doctors had said I wouldn’t make it.

All my summers were spent with her as she would bring me along to all her vacations.  I would look forward to all those summers.

I love it that she used to tease me as her “second” favorite because frankly, she never made me feel next to anybody.  She applauds my talents and always genuinely wants me to sing for her.

At 87, when she went for hip replacement surgery after an accident, she asked me to be with her in the Operating Room.  I didn’t know a better place to be in to celebrate my birthday that year.

On my last visit home, she asked when I would come back.  She would joke that she might be gone and that I would be away when that happens.  She’s 91 now – pushing to 92 this year – and was admitted in the ER yesterday morning before being immediately transferred to the ICU.

I’ve been praying that she makes it.  I love her very very very much.

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Mommy’s hospital ID bracelet from three years ago. Yes, I keep stuff like this.

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

An American breakfast in the Lion City

22 04 2013

Good morning, Singapore!

I WOKE up to an overcast Sunday sky morning.  When clouds hover overhead this way, I long to be gastronomically comforted.  When this mood hits me, I prefer to have the flavors of the familiar for breakfast.  Being deeply committed to a romance with places I call home, I decided on old-fashioned freshly baked bagel with a good schmear of cream cheese.

For a year and a half in Folsom, California, this was exactly my breakfast.  Clearly, my choice of the first meal of the day today is in honor of the States, which in the past few days has shown the world stories of courage, heroism, and hope.

Here in Singapore, I get my bagel and cream cheese fix from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.  I would ask that the bagel be cut across, then thrown to the toaster to just brown ever so lightly.  Onto the fluffy, chewy center, I smear a generous amount of cream cheese, the more it slides down to the sides, the better.  While most approach it like they would a sandwich, I actually deal with each slice separately.  Unless I find myself within the walls of my office cubicle, I see no need to rush the pleasure.


Breakfast is served! Old-fashioned sesame seed bagel and cream cheese, with hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.



This is a surprisingly affordable plate! The bagel costs only S$ 3.50 and the cream cheese, S$ 0.80. The butter and the jam are complimentary!



The perfect bagel has a shiny crusty exterior and dense chewy interior. I asked for it to be cut across then lightly toasted. Just how I would do it at the office cafereria in Folsom for a year and a half!



I’m always all the more so excited the moment I peel off the top of the cream cheese mini-tub.



I reckon that this small-ish tub is always never enough. Hahaha!



Nothing like hot chocolate with marshmallows on a cold morning.

I take a bite through the crusty outside all the way to the dense, doughy interior, unperturbed by the cream cheese moustache that would form with each bite.  I lick this tasty smear around my lips, take a sip of my hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, look outside the window and see that the sun is slowly breaking free from the clouds.

Indeed, there is still more good in this world.


I just love this photo of the Merlion from my archives. I took it during one of the many breakfasts I’ve had here.



The Singapore skyline in the early morning.

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

Of bees and Leo

9 04 2013

Now always in my wallet. Whenever I will need “bee tea”, all I do is go to the nearest Traditional Chinese Medicine Hall and whip out this handwritten “order slip” courtesy of one of my “new” friends at work.

YOU LOSE your voice and suddenly you see that the words attributed to no less than Russian writer Leo Tolstoy take form.

And all people live, not by reason of any care they have for themselves, but by the love for them that is in other people.”

I completely – literally – lost my speaking voice these past weeks.  There was a time I would get it back, only to lose it after speaking in length at a meeting.  For someone like me who likes to talk – and talks a lot – not to mention, sings a lot too, to lose my voice is simply the most painful thing there is.

Fortunately for me, even in the midst of the daily grind that is the fast–paced life in the Lion City – trust me, nowhere else does life spin faster in dizzying speed – there exist people whose random acts of kindness, without them knowing, breathe life to the very words of the renowned Russian novelist.

Coming back from lunch break one day, they handed me a packet of what is called “bee tea”, which when steeped in almost boiling water, purportedly becomes a potent elixir guaranteed to bring my voice back.  I offered to pay, only to be told by one that he didn’t remember how much exactly it cost because it was the other who handled the payment.  I turned to her, the “other”, only to be responded to with a smile.

I was overwhelmed by the gesture that I must’ve appeared so dumb as to understand their instructions on how to prepare it that they graciously made it for me on the spot.

I loved the tea.  I’ve got my voice back (it was almost “instantly” back).  And now more than ever, my faith in the goodness of people has been renewed.

Sometimes, it takes bees.  Or simply, the love for us that is in other people.


The ingredients of the “bee tea”. Image courtesy of my friend.



I decided to keep the bees as souvenir. Here they are, comfortable on a mos appropriate page from my current notebook. It says, “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”



Bzzzzz… A tight shot of the bees.



The bee tea is ready! By the time I finished this 900-mL bottle, my voice was all coming back to me. By the end of the day, I had four! I liked it that much.

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