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.

Back in the Mediterranean

15 02 2011

Mediterranean Pasta

“ALL THAT you want, Brother!”  Brother said with a wink when I sheepishly opened, “Brother, I’m starting with a salad… (pause) and the marinated olives nobody loves.”  (I’d understand if you got lost in the exchange as my friend Edu and I do call each other ‘Brother’.)

CAFé MEDITERRANEAN is turning out to be a new favorite.  We said farewell to Giant Paulo over dinner at their Mall of Asia branch.  Last Friday night, this was where Brother hosted a more intimate gathering.  But this time, at Town.

I’m quite obedient – especially when I’m told I can “have it all” – so I had the antipasto, a salad, soup, and pasta two ways.  I downed everything with hot Moroccan mint tea served over ice.

Marinated Olives

I’ve loved olives eversince I saw Linus Larrabee fixing himself a dirty martini in the original version of the movie “Sabrina.”  I give myself a pat on the back for picking up the fascination for olives – not for the martini.  Hahaha!  Otherwise, I would be spending time bobbing for them in vodka or gin against just popping them in my mouth.  Café Mediterranean marinates pitted kalamata and green olives in fragrant extra virgin olive oil and herbs.  They serve a generous portion in a low pristine white saucer, sprinkling the glistening olives with dried rosemary leaves.  They’re nicely chewy, earthy, and as already said, fragrant – heaven in my mouth.  Though I won’t mind munching on olives straight from the jar.  Which I actually do when watching TV.  It’s just an expensive eating habit.  Hahaha!

Greek Salad




Just one more shot right before I cleaned the plate!

Well, that’s Greek to me!  That’s exactly how I feel everytime I would have Café Mediterranean’s Greek Salad.  Theirs stay true to the rustic simplicity I expect.  Just the best tomatoes, cucumber, green bell pepper, Vidalia onions, kalamata olives and feta cheese, seasoned with salt, pepper, and dressed in olive oil.  The tanginess hints on a splash of vinegar or the brine in which the olives were cured.  Café Mediterranean serves their version on a bed of delicate lettuce greens (I espied a few Lolo Rosa leaves) but its most significant quality remains to be the crispness and crunch that each wedge of vegetable promises to please the mouth with.  The serving is huge.  But.  I.  Never.  Share.  Hahaha!

Soupe au Pistou


The soup is chockful with chunks of fresh vegetables, baby potatoes, and shell pasta!

Soupe au Pistou has been a favorite.  Akin to the Italian ministrone, it’s a medley of vegetables and shell pasta in a tomato broth, topped with a dollop of basil pesto and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  It’s served with nicely toasted bread that I always ignore.  But that’s just me.  I didn’t share the salad, save for a couple of forkfuls that The Flash managed to pierce.  But the soup, I had it separated into two small bowls – one for me, and one for Iron Man who joined us a half hour later after exorcising all the many issues at work.

Mediterranean Pasta (penne)


Mediterranean Pasta (linguini)

The Mediterranean Pasta was a little bit of a miss for me because I wasn’t expecting the bitterness from the grilled eggplant and zucchini.  I doubt that the zucchini was bitter to begin with – served on the side of steak or lamb chops, they’re always sweet – so I highly suspect the flavors of the grilled eggplant to have rubbed off.  But I did try to finish it off, and I did about two-thirds of the way through.  Quite an accomplishment as I had the sauce on both penne, and then linguini.

Iced Moroccan Mint Tea


Blended Iced Moroccan Mint Tea, together with the pasta.

The Moroccan mint tea is usually served hot in a teapot.  Served over ice as I requested, it was enough for two tall glasses they’d use for the regular lemon iced tea.  I downed the first one as is – just laced with a little sugar syrup – but for the second one, I had it whizzed in the blender, together with lots of fresh mint leaves as our efficient server Red suggested.

Thanks, Brother for the wonderful treat!  A first in a series, I know, ‘til you leave this end of the month.  Your generosity is just one of the many things I will surely miss about you!

Iron Man's Grilled Tuna Gyro


Brother and the Iron Man each had the Moroccan Lamb Stew over Buttered Rice before sharing this Smoked Salmon Pasta!


Regular Pita


Loved... Loved... L-O-V-E-D our dining table!


The cutlery


Lovin' the lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling.


A friend from way back stopped by! This is his Omega Speedmaster! Ayluvet!


"Puttin' on the wrists!"


Iron Man and The Flash


Thanks a lot, Brother! You've been treating me kind for close to 15 years now!


Drinks and dessert at Starbucks


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