Inching closer

21 04 2013
Philippine Star Supreme - Boardroom 1 01

eNTeNG at the Open Call for Writers for the Philippine Star (Supreme Section), Boardroom 1, Dusit Thani Hotel Manila, 12 June 2010.

YOU STAY on a job for close to two decades and chances are, opportunities for change just pass you by.  Or, you do find yourself staring at the giddy precipice of change from time to time, feeling that all you need is a nudge to send you plummeting to something new.  But you realize that the nudge just wouldn’t come along.  And you just don’t take the leap yourself.

But sometimes, true to the wise words of the saccharin-laden love theme from the movie “Chances Are,” “after all these stops and starts we keep coming back…” not to “these two hearts” but just one – I keep coming back to my own.  My heart and the undeniable passion to write.

Three years ago, I woke up to a page on one of the two broadsheets we read at home.  It was the nudge I was waiting for.  Something I could no longer ignore.

It was an open call for writers for the Supreme section of the Philippine Star, at the Dusit Thani Hotel ManilaSupreme is the hip, happening, “young” section under the huge Lifestyle section of the paper I read from cover to cover.

Philippine Star Supreme - Meeting Center Board 00

This was the first thing I saw, alighting from the lift.


Philippine Star Supreme - Boardroom 1 00

Yehey! I made it to the open call!

I arrived at the holding room and found myself to be just one in hundreds of aspiring – and it has to be said, really young – writers eager to snap up the chance to add “contributor” to their multi-hypenated existence.

Tim Yap, Supreme section editor and supreme multi-hypenate himself, ran the open call.  He gave us three pieces to write under extreme time pressure.  He gave the first assignment and at the end of the few minutes we were allowed, collected our work before proceeding to the second one, and so on.

The first assignment was our manifesto, in 150 words or less, in three minutes.  Or was it 10?  All I remember is that I just wrote away.  And reminiscent of how I was as a student, I stood up and passed my paper before the time was up.

Philippine Star Supreme - Essay 1_01

The closing paragraph of my manifesto.


Philippine Star Supreme - Dusit Thani Pencil 00

They provided us with pencils from the hotel. But I chose to write in my favorite shade of blue, using my own pen.

The boardroom still abuzz over how unexpected the first topic was – “Did you get to write something, like, really write?  I mean, so out of left field, right?” – Tim asked us to reach into our bags or pockets, and find something to write about.  I thought, anybody from advertising was going to nail this one.  Haha!  I reached deep into my Adidas UEFA EURO 2008 bag and found my then-brand new kikki.K DAILY NOTES notebook.  I wrote about it for the next 10 minutes.

The feature on an item taken care of and our pieces collected, Tim told us to pair up with someone in the room (“Look to your left or right”).  For our third and final task, we had to conduct an interview and then write a feature about it, all in 30 minutes.  I ended up working with the lovely Toni Alexis Araneta.

We broke for lunch (at least for me), came back, and for the next two to three hours, remained holed up in the boardroom like a bunch of revolutionary writers who had decided to go into seclusion or hiding together.  After making Toni Alexis’s acquaintance, I met a couple new friends – Lester Cavestany and Iñigo Del Castillo.

The Supreme team came back and true to American Idol Hollywood Week traditions of old, separated the room into two, sending half – the names they called out on a roll – to the room across the hall.  Toni Alexis, Lester, Iñigo and I stayed behind.  We later found out that we made the cut and those sent away weren’t as fortunate.

Then it was time for the interviews.  They called us in five at a time to face the panel.  The interviews were conducted really lightly, dare I say almost casual, with all five of us made to interact among ourselves and with the panel, and then on situational one-on-ones.  They had in front of them as a guide our written works, by now bearing marks they had made – a “star” meant the piece was stellar or outstanding and a “heart” meant that it was something they just couldn’t help but love (grammar rules be damned).  Some pieced had both a star and a heart.

Of my three pieces, the one that clearly stood out was my feature on Toni Alexis.  They said I write really well about people.

Talk shifted to what we would most like to produce for the paper.  Without a second’s hesitation, I spoke about my love for food, cooking and wristwatches with fervent, impatient enthusiasm.  Tim went on to ask how interested I would be to be sent on an assignment that would look into what goes on behind the scenes of the many cooking shows that had cropped up on Philippine TV.  Ideas immediately went into overdrive in my head as I tried to remain calm and punctuate my responses with subtle bursts of aha – spoken as if the vowels were being rationed.

“You can go to the first show on Monday.”

Then Pepe Diokno interjected, “But Tim he has a full-time job!”

And I still do, thankfully so.  But it has never extinguished the flame that has always been inside of me.  Who knows, right?

Philippine Star Supreme - With Alex 00

I made a good friend at this open call for writers. That’s the lovely Toni Alexis Araneta. My interview with her and the resulting piece I wrote about it was my best work of the day.


Philippine Star Supreme - With Lester & Alex 02_00

I actually made three good friends that day – Lester Cavestany, Iñigo Del Castillo (in white), and Toni Alexis Araneta.


Philippine Star Supreme - Alex Dedication 00

Toni Alexis leaves a note on my kikki.K DAILY NOTES notebook. On the reverse, Iñigo wrote too.


Ukkokei Ramen Ron - Solo 00

I ended this day with my first dinner at Ukkokei Ramen Ron!

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

Back at the Northwest Building

13 09 2010

Four campus journalists whose opinions matter, featured in the Philippine Star.

I READ an article in the Philippine Star a couple of weeks ago that brought me back to that small office at the Northwest Building where I sat at the biggest table at the back of the room.  Back when I was in college.  Yes, I studied where they named buildings after cardinal compass points.

Like the four twenty-somethings in the feature, I too served as the Editor-In-Chief of my school paper – both in college at The New Builder at the Mapúa Institute of Technology, and in high school at The New Beam at the Mapúa Pre-Engineering Technological High School.  I vividly recall being told to have topped a field of 125 aspirants for reportorial staff openings in college.  Of all that I wrote in the tryout, I hold the one about handling criticism, closest to my heart.

During my time I already felt like a rock star, writing my articles in Wordstar and laboring over the dummies a.k.a. mock-ups.  After classes, I’d take one of those beat-up buses to make it to our printing press somewhere on the way to the University of the Philippines.

There was always one issue I’d look forward to releasing every year.  And like most campus journalists, I had my share of being summoned to the president’s office over a controversial piece.  I was told that I was supposed to be let go by those uncomfortable with what we wrote – but they just couldn’t as I was at the top of my class.

Ah, memories.

I can’t wipe off this smile on my face as I read this write-up.  Gosh, the kids nowadays.  And all the gadgets and the power of the internet at their fingertips.  I feel so old.

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

A thing that makes me happy

17 08 2010

Part of my collection of Teodoro "Teddyboy" L. Locsin, Jr.'s "Free Fire" in TODAY

I AM A COMPLETE NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS junkie.  In this day and age when information travels through optical cables underground and underwater, beamed through satellites in dizzying speed, I still crave for the feel of paper between my fingers, not the click of a mouse, when I wake up in the morning.

So you see, I love newspapers.  I still belong to the old school – okay, ancient – people who prefer to pay for the content that they read.  Not that there’s anything wrong about totally relying on what’s made available free on the net.

For a couple of weekends now, I’ve devoted a huge chunk of my weekends to preserving my more-than-a-decade-old stash of newspaper clippings.  By preserving, I don’t really mean slipping each clipping in a polyester-film folder with a sheet of alkaline-buffered paper as the backing.  No.

I simply mean cutting each article to size – or cutting them into two to three parts – then pasting them on white bond paper.  My specifics are quite simply sourced – legal sized (8½” x 13”) “substance 24” bond paper, and a heavy-duty glue stick that glides on smooth.  Of course there’s the trusty cutter, and a lot of plastic rulers (I end up cutting their edges so I go through them quite fast).

My newspaper clippings run a gamut of feature subjects – wristwatches, wristwatch stores, restaurants, recipes, food, Teodoro “Teddyboy” L. Locsin, Jr., interviews, the “Playtime” features in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Margarita Araneta Fores, and Kris Aquino.  Yes, Kris Aquino.  But only her broadsheet interviews and stories about her advocacies – not the sleazy showbiz gossip people make up about her.

Some of my favorites

"What's respect got to do with newspapers?"

My all-time favorite from his "Free Fire" column... "Really something about Mary."

As for columnists, I’ve collected and continue to collect the works of Teodoro “Teddyboy” L. Locsin, Jr. (his “Free Fire” in TODAY), Kris Aquino (her “Kris & Tell” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in the early 2000s), Celine R. Lopez (“From Coffee To Cocktails” – the one with the really nice essays), Winnie Collas Monsod, and Jessica Zafra (from “Twisted” in TODAY to “Emotional Weather Report” in the Philippine Star).  For a while, I followed Scott R. Garceau.  But not anymore.

"Kris and Tell" from a decade ago!

One clipping that made mention of the late former president's fresh corned beef. Just reading about it whets my appetite!

So far, I’ve finished working on Mr. Locsin’s.  I’m contemplating on starting Jessica Zafra’s.  But that’s quite a lot.  I’m daunted to say the least.

Jessica Zafra from over a decade ago!

That's the look of a writer who seriously means business.

Part of my Jessica Zafra collection is this thick! Though, I want to clarify that I still buy the books.

Working with newspaper clippings can be a dirty job. Hehehe.

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

An icon’s 24-year food journey

3 08 2010

Margarita A. Fores and her 24-year food journey

LECHON (ROASTED pig) in sinigang (meat in a usually tamarind-soured broth with fresh vegetables) with sweet watermelon wedges – unlike flowers for spring in “The Devil Wears Prada” – is groundbreaking.  The first time I had it at Café Bola in Greenbelt 3, I knew all the more just how very special its innovative creator was.  And still is.

I ended up frequenting the place, and the first time I saw her walk in to her restaurant seated to full capacity, I was starstruck.  Her Balenciaga motorcycle handbag and her signature wristwatch gleamed against her dusky skin.  She went straight to the kitchen and I remember catching snippets of her animated speech, punctuated by the hearty cracking and chuckling of her plesantly raspy voice.  I thought to myself, she was more like a friend to her staff, a far cry from how mass media had portrayed the privileged to be snobs – stuck-up, and uppity, and snooty.

She walked out of the kitchen, a small dip dish in her hand – the one free from the dangling leather handbag – and joined a big group at the center of the dining area.  It was her family, I figured.  My sight was still transfixed at her when I realized a lot of the other diners were as well.  That was when it occurred to me!  We were in the presence of real beauty – one capable enough not only to demand our attention but also to hold it captive in its ethereal glow reminiscent of leading ladies in Renaissance paintings.

Right there and then, I knew I had become a fan.

Margarita Araneta Fores, arguably one of the culinary icons of our time, looks back to her 24 years in the food business through her essay “My 24-Year Food Journey” in last Sunday’s The Philippine Star.  A score and four years that gave birth to Cibo, Café Bola, Pepato, Lusso, The Commissary, and soon, Gastroteca di M.

I once wrote here, after having seen her on Secrets of the Masters, that hers is a personality that transcends the barrier and the limitation imposed by the TV screen.  Now, add to it the written word.  I devoured her writing the very same way I would approach her gastronomic innovations – allowing myself to be teased with the first quick taste, the first small bite, only to yield unbridledly in yet another work of (edible) art and heart.




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

Of icons and heroes

29 07 2010

Twenty-four years of The Philippine Star

THINKING OF what-might-have-beens is a bitch.  And it doesn’t help that I have Lou Pardini on heavy rotation in my head, provoking me with the line that says I could very well be the “fool wondering what might have been.”

In early April, I seriously considered joining The Philippine Star’s “Star Lifestyle Journalism Contest 2010” with the theme:  My Icon, My Hero.  It was a no-brainer who I wanted to write about – Mr. Teodoro “Teddyboy” L. Locsin, Jr.

Mechanics to the Star Lifestyle Journalism Contest 2010


Not only have I admired the man for so many years now.  Not only did his then column “Free Fire” serve as a formative influence to my own principles.  Not only do I unequivocally declare his “Assignment” to have given us some of the finest hours on Philippine television.

I have actually written about him here already, that I felt I had a good start for a contest piece.  But I had a swamped schedule (right now, I’m culling from memory a defining moment that happened to me last June 12.  It was punctuated by the line, “But Tim, he has a full-time job!”).  And I eventually yielded to self-doubt.

Finally, the 10 winning pieces were published in yesterday’s 24th anniversary edition, easily The Philippine Star’s thickest ever, together with features on 24 luminaries from diverse fields of specialization or calling.  I believe it’s going to be a collector’s item so my propensity for contingencies kicked in – I asked my brother to get me another copy.  Besides, I’m so looking forward to the weekend to work on clipping my favorites and putting them in an album.  (I have a modest collection of clippings of Mr. Locsin, Jr.’s “Free Fire” from over a decade ago.)

From the 24 icons and heroes written about by 24 of the paper’s columnists, I have two favorites – Erwin Romulo’s piece on Kris Aquino, and Jessica Zafra’s on the Roger Federer.

Erwin Romulo wrote about Kris Aquino.


Jessica Zafra on Roger Federer.


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

From yesterday’s Sunday papers

5 07 2010

Presidential Stylist Liz Uy, a certified force in fashion.

I READ both the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star from cover to cover.  And in yesterday’s editions, I found a couple of interesting reads.

I loved the interview of presidential stylist Liz Uy in the Philippine Star.  It was quite interesting to read about the stuff that her refrigerator will yield in a raid.  I’m having lusty thoughts of amazing pasta dishes that I could whip up with her stock of truffle-infused sauce and butter.  But most of all, I found her to be quite down-to-earth, carrying on her role with such grace and composure, with just a hint of an endearing girlish giggly nature thrown in for good measure.

Liz Uy!

And it was nice to find out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer about the complete Inaugural Cocktail Reception menu that Via Mare catered.  I’m so loving the pritchon (fried roasted suckling pig served in pita wedges with a special assortment of sauces) and the corned beef!

The sumptuous Via Mare menu!


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