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My social bubble

It’s hard to believe that more than a year has passed since the pandemic has forced me to stay within the confines of my home here in Bacolod. I was supposed to have left for my other home in Paris, France, March 21 of last year, but God is good. He made me stay here because if I left for Paris, I would have faced repairing my man cave of a dressing room/bath and bedroom that was flooded by water from a burst pipe. The whole floor had to be redone, the pipe had to be repaired several times while being dug out of its cement casing which was 1 1/2 ft. thick.

Of course, I could have slept upstairs in the guest room but I had my Pampangueño houseboy staying there…well, he would have ended up sleeping on the couch, but then, how can I watch TV with the volume way up loud?!! Just to show you God’s blessing, He made sure I stay in Bacolod while the work was done, with our favourite Monte Carlo banker Eduardo “Nene” Lacson taking care of all the paperwork with the insurance, making sure that supplies were delivered on time, meetings with the agents of the different insurances involved in the repairs, calling the carpenters, etc. He dealt with everything patiently, with the delays and the red tape of French bureaucracy that could have made me climb up the walls. Today marked the end of repairs, after one year! Merci Neeeee. I shall return to Paris soon.

Chita Reyes at Mongolian Bowl’s colorful entrance; right, Jing Ramos and Chita Reyes at Fat Choi Dimsun*
Cebu’s lifestyle editor Jing Ramos at an art installation at Bacolod’s Art District*

Meanwhile, preparations for the coming birthday of my brother Philip have been going full blast since he will be marking a milestone with his 75th year. It started with a most delicious lunch whipped up by his better half Tina, who prepared lunch at the “Palace in the Sky” summer villa they both built up in the mountains surrounded by one hundred and fifty fir trees, making it look like one is in Switzerland. With the cool air, our appetites were opened by a wide array of “amuse-bouche” accompanied by Philip’s selection of wine. As 2pm approached, our tummies were ready for the piece de resistance which was lamb shank and pasta bow ties with a secret recipe of tomato sauce. With my house guest, Lifestyle Editor Jing Ramos, filling us up with the latest Cebu tattles, we dove into the lamb like a pack of wolves. Dessert was a choice of Tina’s potato cake or the bread, croissant and ciabatta pudding topped with a decadent chocolate sauce done by Fire Hook Boulangerie et Patisserie.

A lunch at my brother Philip’s “Palace in the Sky”: Tina Garcia, Jing Ramos, ELG, Philip Garcia, and Giles Garcia (l-r)*
My social bubble (l-r) Philip and Tina Garcia, ELG, Leonor Kilayko and Jing Ramos*

The next stage of preparations was lunch at my home with a cold menu curated by Mia Lizares Gonzaga of Cucina Mia. I opted to start with a cold Vichyssoise soup which reminded me of the first summer I spent in the Côte d’Azur when St. Tropez was booming with the jet set and the rock stars. This was the era of the topless beaches (which fast degenerated to completely nude) and sipping champagne mimosa at Le Senequier and dancing til dawn at the Stereo Club. How much fun we had. Anyway, while Big Bro Philip was trying to limit his celebration to 20 guests, we went on to feast on an Italian dish I’ve never tried, Vitello Tonnato. It’s really slices of meat served cold with homemade mayonnaise. Inventive Mia garnished it with mashed potatoes and fresh greens from Annabelle Villanueva’s garden. Dessert was apple pie and a dollop of Gibraltar Vanilla ice cream. It was a smash hit lunch menu, indeed. Gracie mille, Mia!

Vitello Tonnato accompanied by Ciabatta bread; right, French Vichyssoise soup*

Jing and I were then treated by swim mate Chita Reyes to an alfresco dinner at Fat Choi Dim-sun in the Art District. We went early to avoid the crowd. It was nice sitting out under the stars and being the only dine-in customers. The people lining up at the counter were all take-outs. We had a wide variety of steamed dim-sun treats that occupied the two tables we managed to join together for proper social distancing. Well, suffice to say that night, my food discovery was the Kung Fu siomai topped with the most delicious spicy sauce. It was definitely a treat that I’m thinking of going there, again. Of course, we couldn’t leave the Art District without having a huge cup of yoghurt topped with honey at Miren’s. Thank you, Chita!

My Prayer. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11; 25-26, NIV*

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