Jo to the world

18 04 2013

Ms. Jo and her “dearest eNTeNG,” meeting up in Singapore for the very first time ever. I love how she has always referred to me that way.

MANY PERSONALITIES make me up.  So it is always a monumental task for someone to get me “get me”.  When I find people who do, I try not to lose them.

Where I used to work, I have never been made to feel really understood or really important any better than by Ms. Jo Damian.  She used to be the Senior Executive Assistant to a number of our company’s General Managers (think, Country Managers) before taking on the role of Senior Human Resources Business Partner.  At some point, she was – for all intents and purposes – our HR Manager.  She was a major force behind getting us all here in the Lion City, although nothing was in store for her for doing so.  I guess she got something better – unspoken appreciation, lifelong gratitude, and much love.  She is guaranteed of those, at least from me.

I worked with her on the biggest and highest level programs, and together, we handled most of the Site’s communications.  Our collaborative efforts culminated with the coffee table book “Faces of Memory,” to commemorate all the men and women who were part of our former company.  Call it vain, pointless conceit but that book is on my all–time Top 10 List.  Hahaha!

Coffee Table Book Core Team 04

Our official photo as the Editorial Team of the coffee table book “Faces of Memory”. With Ms. Jo and me are Jack (left) and Alfie (right).


Coffee Table Book Core Team 01

This was actually my favorite of all the photos. Haha! I love to have been immortalized in this reclining position. Notice the two wristwatches I have on? I do love stacking them.


Coffee Table Book Core Team 03

I’ve always felt that Ms. Jo treats me like her own son. Although she’s more like my big sister.


Coffee Table Book - Dedications 00

Ms. Jo wrote me a note on this page of my copy of “Faces of Memory”.


Coffee Table Book Core Team 02

What Filipino photo shoot is complete without the requisite wacky shot?! Hahaha!

Ms. Jo was here for a couple of days last week.  And while I missed the dinner in her honor, I was at least able to take her to the airport and see her off.  I put more weight to the latter, knowing all too well that that is one gesture I do only for the truly deserving.

Thanks, Ms. Jo.  And I shall see you again!


We didn’t play with ramen. But we did have it for lunch. Alvin and I with Ms. Jo at Ajisen Ramen on the day of her flight back to Manila.



Welcome back to Changi Airport Terminal 2!



Ms. Jo took a Singapore Airlines flight back. I don’t know a better way to fly.



Just two small pieces of luggage – a check-in in her favorite shade of purple and a carry-on (which is actually her laptop). The red bag contained lots of her favorite Bee Cheng Hiang beef jerky. The lambskin leather bag is actually my Longchamp Parisi, just joining in for the group shot.



Ms. Jo knows me like the back of her hand. So when she had made it to the end of the line to the check-in, she knew that I would be grabbing that opportunity to snap shots away. She turned around on this one just in time to catch me striking a pose. Hahaha!



This is the proper one.



Alvin and Ms. Jo.



Then it was my turn.



Ms. Jo, in head-to-toe Marks & Spencer, against the backdrop of Changi Airport Terminal 2.



Spectacles – Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers in white. T-shirt – “Last Night The DJ Saved My Life” from Malaysia. Bottoms – Adidas running shorts. Wristwatch – Philip Stein Signature Large. Bag – Longchamp Parisi in lambskin leather trimmed with cowhide and/or goat skin. Shoes – TOMS in red corduroy.



“Goodbye… it’s time for me to go…”



Just one more for the road



My reflection on the stainless steel frame of the departure area gate. We waited until Ms. Jo had cleared immigration.



One more time for a selfie!



Take away some FRESHNESS – a slice of New York Cheesecake and a venti Caramel Frappuccino.



eNTeNG, Starbucks Coffee, Changi Airport Terminal 2, Singapore.

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

Arrivederci, Kiddo!

28 04 2012

I WAS once a young, impressionable new hire myself, just fresh out of college.  It’s been eons, but up to this day, I vividly remember all of those who made me feel so welcome, and those who have helped me become who I am.  So whenever I meet someone new at work, I try to pay forward all that I have been so blessed with all these years.

eNTeNG, Kia Leh, Kwang Fook, and Kuya Mike

Kia Leh, who I fondly call as “Kiddo”, is off to her first assignment abroad, where the canned San Marzano tomatoes originate and are so good, any mislabeling or misbranding of lesser variants could get you into serious trouble with the Carabinieri.

While I know that her inquisitive and persevering nature will see her through this assignment, the fact that soccer – no, make that “calcio” – is this country’s most popular sport, will help take care of keeping her entertained and less homesick.  Fresh from her team’s victory in last week’s soccer carnival, she couldn’t be in any better, more fitting place, than there where the national football team has won the FIFA World Cup four times.

We can only be too happy she’s off to this place.  She promised to take photos of soccer games from a vantage point so close that beads of perspiration from the star players would put her camera’s – or, iPhone’s – water resistance to the test.

Kiddo, you already know that Yong Run, Kwang Fook, and Kuya Mike will miss you, but I think it bears repeating here.  Haha!  And of course, I will miss you.  I mean, who am I kidding?  Haha!  I will be so sad.

Dear Kiddo...


I've always believed that travel affords us the chance to experience all this creation in a new place.


We will miss you, Kiddo!


Just a little something...


I know Kuya Mike's sendoff present is in the other paper bag. I hope you liked our little gifts.


Kuya Mike, Kia Leh, Kwang Fook, and eNTeNG


Let's try that one more time: Kuya Mike, Kia Leh, Kwang Fook, and eNTeNG. Kuya Mike, thanks for the Starbucks!

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

B for Bendetta

26 05 2011

The barista murdered my coffee name. Or was it my fault?

FRIENDSHIP IS the toughest critic of my enunciation.  There was no use denying it when she pointed out to my face that I have a “short I / long I” defect.  Just last night I missed Friendship so much when my deficiency chose to manifest itself in the presence of a newfound friend.  For sure she would’ve been laughing the whole stretch of EDSA on the way to The Podium.

Claiming my green tea latte over ice at Starbucks at the Robinson’s Summit Ridge in Tagaytay at lunch today, I was stunned to find out that I may have yet another diction issue – “V” as “B”.  I gave my coffee name to the barista.  “Stave.  That’s S-T-A-V-E.”  I was surprised to read what she wrote.

Oh well.



Pensive... Oh well...



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

Don’t go breaking my heart

6 05 2011


A FUNNY thing happened at the counter at Starbucks.

My favorite green tea latte "over ice"!

I first placed an order for eight drinks and used my coffee name (if you read this blog, you know what my coffee name is – it’s a superhero’s real name).  On a whim, I asked for my favorite-thru-association green tea latte over ice, explicitly repeating the “over ice” qualifier, had it put on a separate bill, and used on it my real first name.  After instructions were given, smiles were exchanged between orderer and the barista.

After I served my party’s drinks, I returned to the counter to find out in spine-tingling shock that my green tea latte was not “over ice” but “frap” (ice-blended).  Still with a huge smile on my face – knowing well enough to always be kind to the people who handle my food – I almost sheepishly uttered in a hushed voice, “I specifically reiterated to her that it’s ‘over ice.’”  My smile and slight tilt of the head politely referred to my order-taker who by then was whipping up a sugar-free vanilla frap for someone who was obviously mindful of her calorie intake but was seemingly dumb for asking whipped cream topping a mile high.  The barista was so apologetic and immediately removed the drink in question from my sight and in a jiff rectified the situation with the drink of my desire.

Profuse thanks were given, and smiles were again exchanged between the orderer and the barista.

Before I could even completely turn away, I heard someone call out, “Sir Vincent?”

It was the barista who first made my drink.  I attempted to cut her short because I didn’t want her to apologize at all when she drowned my attempt with, “Did you at least see the hearts I drew on the cup?”


"Vincent" on a Starbucks cup... with hearts! =)



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

Two superheroes, a brother, friends, an opera, and green tea

23 04 2011

Three Philip Steins and an iPhone 4. I shared this dinner with Brother, Spongebob's best friend, and Green Lantern.

A LINE is always a good sign.  Rachael Ray told me so.  Friendship told me so.  And for the few times I did get another one of Friendship’s recommendations – 4 FINGeRS Bonchon Crispy Chicken at Ion Food Hall at Ion Orchard – there was always a line.

Sometimes, it took quite a while to get to the front especially when some couple would choose to take their sweet time debating on the merits of soy garlic against hot & spicy, with total inconsideration of the people down the line.

Now serving one of Korea's influences on Singapore, Bonchon Crispy Chicken!

Whenever that happened, I’d whip out my camera and would just take photos.  With much care I must say, especially after being told to stop taking photos at a couple of establishments.  So when I noticed that someone was slowly approaching me right when I was trying to establish focus on the restaurant sign, I hurriedly took the snapshot and pretended to just be reviewing my camera’s photos.

“eNTeNG!  Having dinner here?”  the slowly approaching someone asked.  I lifted my head up from my pretend business with the camera, and smiled at the familiar face now in front of me.  The Boy Wonder!

“I’m here with friends.  I’m treating them to dinner.  I’m just here to get chicken and fries.  Care to join us?  No, join us!”

Finally, 4 FINGeRS Crispy Chicken has landed! This was one of three boxes.


Clever marketing ploy all over the box top.

So after The Boy Wonder was done with his dinner at 4 FINGeRS, he moved to Food Opera, Ion Orchard’s high-end food court, where my friends and I were at.  It was the second time I was picking up the tab.  I had such a great time having lunch with them at CareShop de Café that I felt we had to have a repeat.  And yes, on me.

Once settled in my seat after having ordered my Fishball Mee Kia Soup (with extra mee kia!) and a tall glass of Fresh Lychee Juice, I made a belated realization that among those sharing the table with me were two of my superhero best friends – The Boy Wonder and Green Lantern – and Brother!  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

My friends, on the escalator ride that would take them to the subterranean foodie heaven that is Food Opera, the high-end food hall at Ion Orchard.


Queuing up in front of the Teochew Fishball Noodle Soup stall. The Boy Wonder snapped this shot.


Brian's "bee hon" noodle soup was chockful with tofu!


Brian and that big bowl of noodles!


Patrick, Brother, and Brian


The Boy Wonder is in the house!


Green Lantern's "mee kia" noodle soup had a lot of vegetables and seafood rolls and meatballs.


Green Lantern and that big bowl of noodles!


Exactly where I wanted to be... Sharing the dinner table with friends, including two superheroes and a brother! Food Opera was full that night but we seemed to have perfect timing and found this long table just when it was being freed up.

We capped the night off with coffee at Starbucks on the second basement level of Ion Orchard.  “Coffee” actually turned out to be Green Tea Latte over ice for everybody.  Green Lantern asked for it – it’s his favorite! – and everybody else ended up wanting to try the same, save for Syvil who had the lone hot drink.

The verdict on the green tea latte over ice?  Unanimously favorable, with a high chance of repeats.  As to the night overall?  Priceless.

Dinner's done! My friends and I now head from Basement 4 to Basement 2 for Starbucks!


That's a lot of Green Tea Latte over ice! It's Green Lantern's favorite Starbucks drink.


I clipped the newspaper article that announced Starbucks's re-design of their cups. Before I left Manila on the 13th of March, the cups weren't changed yet. It was in Singapore that I got my hands on the new ones!


Patrick, Brian, John & Syvil, Green Lantern, and Brother


What I wore to dinner. And how I wore my hair!


I met up Brian and Green Lantern at Muji first. Then, we picked up Brother and the rest of the group at Havaianas.


Green Lantern and Patrick on their ride home.


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

The reader

22 02 2011

The reader and the blogger.

YOU WILL know when someone is just pulling your leg.  Or when someone doesn’t.

One of my most respected and admired personalities, Rez, formerly our multinational company’s Quality and Reliability Engineering Manager, would always pepper our conversations with quick mentions about how much she regularly reads – and enjoys – my blog.  I would think she meant it tongue-in-cheek.  Not because I didn’t believe her, but because she had got to be one of the busiest persons at work.  How would she find the time to read?

Somehow, I guess she does.  Or she makes it.  Bumping into her at Town last Friday night – and making an impromptu decision to go get cofee together with Brother – she let out one-liners that did give away her fondness for all my ramblings in this space.

“I know your coffee name!”

My coffee name. Roreza knows!


We three drinks

“I know where you got this pair of pants.  You didn’t want to get the Lacoste so this is what you got.”

I coulnd’t help but feel the warmth and sincerity in Rez’s words.  (Though I prefer to call her by her beautiful full name – Roreza.  To me it just has, with the first syllable alone, more rolling in the tongue.  Think rolling thunder… gradual, sustained, then let loose.)

To be read felt like a much greater compliment that to be trusted or loved.  And to be read by someone you admire and look up to, well that’s just such a freakin’ thrill.

My most-admired, looked-up-to good friend, the Roreza!


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

Today in jeans and shirts

19 01 2011

WHEN MY penny-pinching started, my blog post “Life in the time of bailouts” came to be.  Nothing much has changed a couple of years since I wrote that.  If there’s anything that three consecutive days and nights at the Mall of Asia (MOA), and a serendipitous find at the “Shell of Asia” along NLEX further affirmed to me, it is that I will shop only where it says SALE.  Preferably in big, bold, red letters.

Last Friday, while doing the rounds of stores at MOA – for shirts and toys for my nephews – I chanced upon this window display at Lacoste.  I was drawn to how well-put-together the whole ensemble was.  I loved the shirt and the shoes, but it was the pair of pants in royal blue that pulled me in to the store.  Now I could say that the green scarf speaking to Rebecca Bloomwood, luring her to yet another unnecessary purchase, wasn’t so preposterous.

Lovin' the pants in my fade shade of blue!... Lacoste ensemble at their window display in MOA.

I actually hesitated to inquire because I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford it.  Besides, I didn’t want to risk having to call the pants “that blue stuff on display” – because I’d always articulate my inquiry to sales people rather than point with my fingers – lest I earn the ire of Miranda Priestly and get a dressing down on how this shade of blue trickled down to the masses.  Sensing my indecisiveness, my sister-in-law did all the asking on my behalf.  Php 4950.00 for the pair of pants.  Quite steep for my standards for things I buy for myself.

I told myself that I could save up for it.  Then another voice in my head told me that if I will have to do that, I don’t have a business wanting it in the first place.  So, goodbye Lacoste pants in my favorite shade of blue.

Then came the weekend.  On the drive back from Fontana in Clark we decided to stop for Starbucks, which we found at this gas station that purports itself to be the “Shell of Asia”.  Do you know how it feels like when you know what your goal or intention is and yet so many other things seem more attractive, piquing your curiosity and pulling you to directions other than your original goal?  That’s exactly what happened to me on the way to Starbucks.  And it was because one store screamed: “OUTLET”.  Giordano Outlet, to be exact.

Giordano Outlet at the Shell of Asia along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX)

Walking past the Php 299.00 shirt pile, I ran my fingers through the jeans rack and that was where my eye caught a certain shade of blue peeking from what appeared to me as a slice of vanilla gateau de crêpe turned to its side.  Eureka!  And when I checked the tag – reduced three times! – it was just for the very affordable price of Php 750.00.  Sold!  Hahaha!

So here it is, my new pair of jeans.  In the shade of blue that I love.  For a price I was willing to pay.

Giordano jeans in my favorite shade of (royal) blue!


(At MOA, I also found a statement shirt that appealed to me in all its cheesiness.  Yes, cheesy but undeniably…  hopeful too.  Hahaha!)

"God is writing my love story"


Today in jeans and shirt


This is just so cute.


Starbucks at the "Shell of Asia"


My usual "goodness" is chai tea latte over ice. Sometimes, it's green tea latte, which I discovered through Green Lantern.


Starbucks Flourless Chocolate Brownie


Dessert and tea


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

Last night in penmanship

18 01 2011

I LOVE my penmanship.  And I’m quite critical of it.  So I can say that it takes a lot for me to admire other people’s handwriting.  Last night at Starbucks at the Mall of Asia – I was running three errands after office hours (may post about those too)! – I finally saw the best barista penmanship that committed my coffee name to the surface of a venti-sized plastic cup.

The best barista penmanship that committed my coffee name to the surface of a Starbucks plastic cup.


Loved how they mixed my fave chai tea latte over ice!


It didn’t matter that she had to do a double take after she must’ve found the name to be extraordinary.  What mattered was that she got the name right and she wrote it perfectly.  And oh, her execution of my chai tea latte over ice was extraordinary too.

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

Wrapping and writing

2 01 2011

For the recent holiday season, I wrapped my gifts in repurposed Starbucks paper bags and yellow ribbons. A letter came with each one.

BY THE time I was done tearing Starbucks paper bags apart, I had exactly 38 sheets.  (A large paper bag yields two sheets, the small brown one just unfolds to full length.)  For the third year in a row, I repurposed all the Starbucks paper bags I’ve accumulated over the months, into gift wrappers.

Gift wrappers made from Starbucks paper bags

I put a lot of thought into each gift.  And for added personal touch, I wrap everything by myself, pulling an all-nighter every time.  For this last one, I used up all those sheets of Starbucks paper and 30 meters of the brightest, widest yellow ribbon I could find at National Bookstore.




And I just couldn’t stop at “Season’s greetings”.  I have to write actual letters.  My thoughts and feelings flowed freely through my right hand and out of my blue-inked ballpoint pen, landing on to the surface of contamination-control sheets of paper torn off of my Berkshire cleanroom notebook.

Some of the letters


Each letter is really personalized.


I wrote all the letters in one sitting. So by the time I was done, I was already calloused. Hahaha!


Wrapped inside this one is a book from a popular children's book series. It took me a while to find it. It was sold out at two Powerbooks branches I went to and at a couple of National Bookstores. Fortunately, I did find one – the last copy! – after rummaging through the deep recesses of one National Bookstore's shelves. I made the small yellow ribbon in the car, on the way to deliver the gift.


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

Table for three

29 12 2010

What's left of ice cream at a table for three

JUST WHEN I wasn’t really intending to make new (great) friends anymore, I made two really great ones this year.  For quite a while, I’ve resolved that I don’t have a reason for new close associations.  But life clearly does take pleasure in proving me wrong – yet again.

I will always look back with gratitude to 2010 because of Green Lantern and the Flash.  Yes, I’ve never played DOTA with them, and I charge it to the 12– and 14–year age gaps.  But they’ve proven to me a lot of the clichés about friendship that we’ve often found to be painfully trite.  And when you find people who can actually breathe life to all the greeting card corniness in this world, you’d be a fool to let them go.

We find the same things funny.  That’s why no matter how cringe-inducing it is to say this next line – watch out, mush at full speed ahead – I really have to say that there has never been a dull moment with these two superheroes.  They can make the sun shine through on an overcast day.  And in a number of occasions, they have managed to lighten my load – the things I bear that nobody else can see.  I’m supposed to be the wisest in the group, being the oldest, yet in a number of times, I had to acknowledge the benefits of their youthful wisdom.

It’s just a couple of days ‘til this year ends.  And I couldn’t help but recognize how amazing the clarity that comes with being alone in this space and trying to look back to all those times that defined my friendships.  I close my eyes and I see a few times when all three of us would sit next to each other – or share a meal together – sometimes, without speaking a word.  And yet I feel that even in silence, I have had some of the best conversations in my life.  I’ve had it with them.

Green Lantern had already left to pursue his dreams on some distant shore.  The Flash is back home down South.  I look forward to all three of us back at the same table for three and eat, talk and feel like no time has passed.  For now, the memories of our farewell dinner will have to do.

Happy new year!

Your blogger, Green Lantern, and the Flash.


I had this angel hair pomodoro.


Green Lantern had angel hair pomodoro with grilled chicken breast.


The Flash asked for the beef tenderloin steak, served with mashed potato and buttered steamed vegetables.


Green Lantern and the Flash


With the Flash's steak already wiped out, it was time to go over the dessert menu!


Blueberry Panna Cotta


A tight shot of the blueberry panna cotta


Tiramisu, topped with candied orange peel.


We told Italianni's that Green Lantern's leaving on a jetplane in the morning so we wanted the dinner to double up as his birthday celebration as well. They sent this ice cream to our table... and the crew wished him well through a song!


Green Lantern and your blogger


Green Lantern and the Flash


Green Lantern and the crew of Italianni's at the SM Mall of Asia


Why so sad, the Flash?


That's better.


Green Lantern's green tea latte over ice, the Flash's caramel cream frappuccino, and my chai tea latte over ice.


Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.