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.


28 01 2013
SQ918 13 Wing

Just took off from Changi International Airport. I just always have to have a snap of the airplane’s wing against the land, the sea, and the sky.

IF YOU care for someone, it’s important to remember why they are in your life.

And everytime I’m up in the air that is exactly what I do.

I may have time for a movie – or a part of it (“Pitch Perfect” is on the cover of KrisWorld and “the perks of being a wallflower” and “Arbitrage” are also on the list!) – and most likely all the broadsheets on offer and a couple of magazines I’d pick up at times travel or any other book shop I pass by on the way to the gate.

SQ918 01 KrisWorld

Fat Amy is in the house!

But still, a lot of the three and a half hours I spend airborne is devoted to being breathless in anticipation of yet another homecoming.  And this feeling of being at home starts the very moment I get on board my Singapore Airlines flight.  Sweet.

SQ918 00 Panettone

On this trip, the Panettone was the most precious cargo.


SQ918 02 Longchamp Adidas

Before take-off, all carry-on luggage has to be stowed under the seat in front of you. I looked at my two bags and realized that I was traveling with a French and an Italian!


SQ918 05 Take-off and Wing

See you again soon, Lion City! … Before long, it was time to take off. I’ve always found my Singapore Airlines flights to keep their schedules really well.


SQ918 10 Wing

One of the views I love is when the sun breaks free from the clouds. So a photo is always requisite.


SQ918 03 KrisWorld Movies

The New Releases line-up has some of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know which to start with.


SQ918 14 Fast Facts

The Philippines is featured on the latest issue of KrisFlyer. I love this boxed feature on my country’s “fast facts”.


SQ918 18 Passport

Before the food arrives, I make sure that I fill out all the disembakation forms required at the NAIA.


SQ918 19 Passport

I love my complimentary Singapore Airlines leather passport holder!


SQ918 20 Food

Yehey! The food arrives. That happens to be my third can of Campbell’s Tomato Juice! I always love it when they say, “Would you like the whole can?”


SQ918 21 Food

I asked for the fish with vegetables! Delish!


SQ918 25 Tissot

I wore one of my Tissots on this trip. And yes, a Charriol.


SQ918 26 Tissot

Right on time, we’re taxiing down the runway at the NAIA.


SQ918 28 NAIA Arrival

I’m home!


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

Twenty minutes before takeoff

4 07 2011

The symbol of our flag carrier, as seen from the window of my Singapore Airlines plane, taxying down the runway, getting ready for takeoff.


“BUTI PA umuwi ka na lang!”  (Know what, you better just go home!)

Trust friends to snap you out of a really depressing situation seemingly impossible to surmount.  The opening line above was a text message from one of my closest friends as a response to one of my “to-the-minute” updates on the progress of my departure for Singapore last Wednesday afternoon.  I was sobbing like a little child whose toy got snatched from him.  Quite understandable if it were the circumstances.  But I’m a grownup man.  And I was at one of the gates of NAIA waiting to board the 2:10 PM flight to Singapore on board Singapore AirlinesNakakahiya.

I arrived about an hour ahead of check-in counter opening. I was first in line. Now that's a first!

I was first in line. First, not "next in line"! Hahaha!

See, I was early!

Finally checked in!

So this is how it feels like to be a "bagong bayani"...

Prior that message, I was actually having a comic relief of my own after a frantic search of my carry-on luggage revealed that the handkerchief I had set aside the night before – yes, for any tears that might fall – was nowhere to be found.  It was a case of selling the drama short.  Props were incomplete.

That's my flight, SQ917!

The long walk to Gate 6

Boarding Gate

My own "someone to watch over me"...

"Batman" gave me Batman before I left...

I didn’t take my friend up on her advice and made it on my flight.  But I just have to admit how really hard it was to leave behind family.  I’ve been away before for a year and a half but that was a temporary assignment.  There was always the thought that I’d be coming back.  But this move?  It has the potential of “long-term” written all over it.  Though it’s good that Singapore is quite near and I could go home whenever I need or want to.  But still, leaving one’s family behind is quite hard.

As always, flying with Singapore Airlines was such a delight.  I devoured the inflight meal – of course, asked for the one with the rice, and not the potatoes – and was pleasantly surprised to be given Campbell’s tomato juice all the time I asked.

The meal has landed!


Stir-fried prawns with dried chilies, steamed seasonal vegetables, and steamed white rice


This meal came in a compact dish that revealed, surprisingly, plentiful shrimps! I did attempt to count 'til all the sumptuousness made me lose track.


"Seasonal" vegetables turned out to be carrots and Taiwan pechay.


Really gorgeous, gorgeous... gorgeous prawns!


The meal came with macaroni salad on the side. It was dressed with a really citrusy vinaigrette. Loved the lone tomato wedge on top.

It came to the point that the flight attendant didn’t even bother opening a can and pouring me some on their short glasses.  She started handing me my own can!  Hahaha!

After attempting to satiate me with one refill, the cabin crew realized that my second request had to be fulfilled with a can all my own... and another one later.

I love tomato juice.  Looking out the airplane window, I took sips – each one promising a deluge of lycopene and other antioxidants into my system – and I got reminded of loved ones I left back home.  They will always be in my heart and in my mind no matter what I’m doing.  Like just sitting there by the window and having my juice.

My requisite photo whenever on board a flight


We arrived at Gate E8.


On the travelator on my way out

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

In too deep dipping

6 04 2011

Healthy Ten Zukuri Tofu at Shimbashi Soba at Paragon

RELATIONSHIPS I may not know.  But noodles?  Noodles…  I know!

And if with prospective relationships my knee-jerk reaction would be to clam up and run away from thoughts of commitment buzzing like neon above my head, with noodles I would plunge myself to a free-fall with eager submission to the pull of gravity.

Which was exactly the kind of force that drew me in to Shimbashi Soba # B1-41 The Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, Singapore, yet another one of Friendship’s recommendations.  Though I find it funny now, looking back at how my “free-fall with eager submission” actually meant getting lost on Orchard Road, under the heat of the midday sun, my composure and resolve put under the mercy of my Ralph Lauren Big Pony Scent #4, as Friendship gave me directions over the phone.  She mentioned Tod’s as a landmark.  A fashion label – now that’ll turn around my seeming lack of a sense of direction.

Though it’s just one in many dining establishments at the basement of a posh mall, Shimbashi Soba, like how Japanese restaurants usually are, seemed to shield its quaint Zen interiors from the hustle and bustle of all the retail action that happens outside its premises.  I felt engulfed in a sense of calm, only the beads of perspiration running down my temples belied the inner peace that seeing buckwheat noodles being made with authentic Japanese stone mill brought to my being.

Goma Tare Seiro Sesame Soba

I asked for the Goma Tare Seiro Sesame Soba.  For someone who takes roasted sesame oil by the teaspoonful – straight! – a dish built upon the goodness of this seed was a natural choice.  Subtly, it was also a quiet homage to the peanut and sesame cold noodles I had at Shi Lin at The Podium on the eve of my departure for this trip.  But lest you think I’m setting the stage for a comparison, I wasn’t.

Soba is Japanese thin buckwheat noodles.  Shimbashi Soba sources their organic buckwheat from Tasmania, their menu declares.  In the store, the noodles are made fresh to order, a work of art and heart by their skillful chefs using time-honored Japanese equipment and tradition.

Cold. Springy. With a little give to the bite. Perfect soba noodles.


Chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds


Sesame dipping sauce

The dish arrived in a lacquered tray, the cold buckwheat noodles nestled on a bamboo mat, it’s pale hue accented only by a lone lettuce leaf.  To its left was a dish of chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds, and a bowl of the savory sesame dipping sauce.  Doing away with the usual cold soba and sashimi pairing, I instead asked for  the Healthy Ten Zukuri Tofu, silken beancurd topped with a shiso leaf, wakame seaweed, and straw mushrooms, flavored with a bonito-infused dipping sauce spiked with grated ginger.

Healthy Ten Zukuri Tofu


Dipping sauce for the Healthy Ten Zukuri Tofu

My breathing no longer hurried, and the beads of perspiration wiped off, I savored the serenity offered by picking the soba with my chopsticks, allowing my wrist to make fluid motions as I dipped the twirled buckwheat ribbons in the robustness of the sauce, dusted the same with the green onions and sesame seeds, then quietly – ever so quietly – slurped away.

However careful I was, the action threatened to spray my UC Davis shirt and red shorts with the essence of my Japanese meal.  But I couldn’t care less as my tongue rushed to lick the sauce that was making its way from my lower lip to my chin.  This to me, is what tongue-lickin’ good actually is.

Shichimi Togarashi, traditional Japanese seven spice powder.


Friendship had the Teriyaki Chicken Don and Soba meal.


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

For Genie

29 03 2011

Tender chunks of lean chicken meat worthy of its title

AIRBORNE AT 12,192 meters, I’m writing this in honor of one of my NFFs (newfound friends) – the very beautiful Genie.  She used to be a flight attendant for Singapore Airlines.  Now, she works with someone equally beautiful, Partner.  On her days away from the office – or when the work day is through – I gather that she is quite the dancing diva.  I just couldn’t articulate here her “the moves.”  Genie, this one’s for you.

Writing this at 12,192 meters up in the air!

Singapore Airlines economy class sure puts the others’ to shame.  I’ve always flown economy.  And frankly, I love it.

Late lunch on board my flight was a choice between chicken (Chicken Imperial) and fish (Pan-Fried Fish Fillet with Tomato Coriander Sauce, sautéed vegetables and parsley potatoes).  I’ve reduced my criterion in choosing my entrée to one simple thing:  whichever has rice wins!

Though I had flipped through the menu a good number of times, I felt the need to sound like I was on a bind and when asked by the very pretty flight attendant, turned my head to one side, heaved a deep sigh, and whimsically enunciated, “Whichever has rice.”

So it was Chicken Imperial for me.  The menu described it as “Oriental style chicken with Chinese herbs and rice wine, leafy greens, red capsicum and fragrant rice.”  Everything was perfectly scrumptious.  The chicken meat was quite tender and not stringy at all.  Eating each piece was a rhythm of piercing each with the lovely fork, then tempting my mouth as I drew the tine-pierced chicken meat closer.  I engulfed it with my lips, licked it with my tongue, and proceeded to bite, releasing its juices with every chew.  The perfect doneness that translated to tenderness couldn’t be denied.  I hate it when I would have to fight with my food!

The rice that came with the dish had all the right to be called the clincher to my decision.  It was not just “fragrant” rice.  It was “Hainanese chicken rice-fragrant” rice!  I had to stop with my first spoonful.  Almost scornful, I had to chide myself, “Just when you had shunned all reminders of that lustful, sinful night at Wee Nam Kee, here you go asking for this rice.  I tell you eNTeNG, this will haunt you!”  Love – and lust – for food is a vicious cycle.

The lunch menu


Whichever has rice wins!


At 12,192 meters way up there, heaven takes the form of the food tray!... And, it has arrived!


Chicken Imperial in all its glory! Yum-o!


The vegetables that came with...


The "not-a-potato-salad-person" that I am, I devoured everything you see here!... to the point of licking!


Dessert was this ice cream bar that came all the way from...




Anything on an inflight food tray doesn't stand a chance of being spared by me! Hahaha!


We've arrived!


As Michael Bublé would sing, "Another airplane..." ...This was the one that brought me home safe! I heart SG! I heart SQ!


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Celebrity moments while in SG

23 03 2011

Ion on Orchard at night

THE LONG escalator ride at Ion on Orchard allowed me just enough time to foist upon Friendship a pressing question I’ve had in mind, “Which Filipino celebrity will make you stop on your tracks (here in Singapore) and go full-on jologs – photos, autograph and all?”

The answer was exactly what I expected:  Kris Aquino.  It’s one of those things I share in common with Friendship.

But unlike Friendship, my list is quite longer.  Actually, unlike her, I have a list.  (I think her consideration stops at Kris Aquino.)

And by today, my eleventh day here, I’ve chalked up a couple of celebrity moments already.  I rarely use the expression “thrilled beyond words” because I do have my way with words.  But these couple of instances?  Words (almost) fail me.

The first one is actually not the photo op-and-autograph kind.  It happened by way of an e-Mail I sent.  March 15 marks the birthday of one of my most admired personalities, the Ms. Daphne Oseña Paez.  A few days later, I e-Mailed my belated greetings which were accompanied by a few photos I took especially for her.  I didn’t expect her to be thrilled enough to post it on her blog.  Now, I think I’m thrilled even more.

The second one happened at the Food Hall of Ion on Orchard.  Whenever I’m there for all the noodles my heart, soul and tummy can handle, the world around me melts into a series of chiaroscuros.  I couldn’t care less about the people I’m sharing breathing space with.  But as it is the case with personalities larger-than-life, their mere presence could permeate whatever force field my being immersed in my gastronomic adventure had surrounded me with.  Last Monday, for some reason, I had to lift my head up from being slumped into my huge bowl of beef noodle soup.  And within arm’s length was the force – the Maria Ressa!  I couldn’t help it that I had to stand up, disturb her peaceful meal, and introduce myself.  And oh, rave about her work and how much I’ve admired her.  She gave me her card.  Gosh, I’m so thrilled.

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.