To take my mind off the frustration for missing out winter in Europe this year, I agreed to host a small bubble of friends for a day of swimming and food to celebrate the Day of Hearts. My mind has been racing to go back soon to Paris, France and get an earlier jab of the vaccine against the Kung Flu which wrought havoc to my travel plans since last year. My itchy feet are set to fly and I’m just waiting for the French lockdown to ease at the end of this month and maybe, I could find myself back to the City of Lights by mid spring.
Still optimistic that I haven’t really missed much and considering myself lucky enough to have survived a year of this pandemic in the comforts of my Bacolod residence, I’m impatient enough now to take a chance and go through all the hassle of having the swab test, making sure I have the necessary documents to pass through immigration, and board the plane from Bacolod to Paris. I have a choice now, whether to take the flight from Cebu or Manila since I am looking for the least connecting flights to avoid exposing myself. I’ll probably dress up like Naomi Campbell in full protective gear and just sleep through the whole ordeal. For sure, I’ll be travelling in First Class, although I’ll have to look for an Air France flight that offers this service from Asia. Already, a lot of routes have been cancelled since but it gets me excited to breathe in that nippy air of the last gasps of winter as the plane door opens to a First World environment again, away from the frustrating inconveniences of living in a Third World City. To think that I pay more taxes in Bacolod than in Paris and yet, my Paris home is worth more in real estate value. You see, since it’s my primary residence, the French government charges a minimum amount of tax. Maybe, we should change our tax laws for primary residences here in the Philippines, too. Food for thought?
I decided to serve a typically Tagalog version of kare-kare since it’s a special Heart’s Day and one of the ingredients is heart of bananas. So, I instructed my cook for an extra helping of pusô sang saging which made one and all to conclude that it tastes very much like artichokes. Everyone brought something to add to my menu. Former New Yorker Chita Reyes was the first to arrive carrying a huge tray of nachos sprinkled with ground beef and salad with a tangy aioli sauce. The Lacsons (Teddy and Marivic with Larry in tow together with Derek Bage) arrived shortly after with a large pantry box full of bottled homemade tomato salsa dip, an assortment of pickled radishes, scallions and fresh radish salad sprinkled with crispy lobo-lobo. Next to go down the driveway was teachers two Rene Hinojales and Ethan Argonez, bringing a pot of giant Rosal and Vanilla ice cream for dessert that went perfectly well with Gus Ferrer’s gift from sunny California of liquored cherries dipped in chocolate. Arriving just in time for lunch was loving couple Bomber and Miren Zayco who, upon learning that we had vanilla ice cream for dessert, ordered her driver to bring back homemade apple pie. Oiled up with a tasting of the new luxury Don Papa Rum’s top of the line Santa Ana Gin, we were set to a good three hours of lively conversation and gustatory delights heightened by Pinot Grigio white wine and Chateau de Rothschild red wine. My bulging stomach will get the best of me tomorrow when I will have to face my gym teacher, who is kind enough to give me private lessons at home.
My heart was crushed by the news that my French man crush, noted actor, director, and filmmaker Robert Hossein died of Covid-19 just hours after celebrating his birthday, leaving behind a legendary film theatre and television career. He was best known in the Philippines during the 60s for his role as Michèle Mercier’s husband in the historical romance Angélique series, and directed the 1982 adaptation of “Les Misérables”. He has worked with the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood history, such as Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot and most recently with Sophie Marceau. He worked with famous directors, such as Roger Vadim, Claude Lelouch, and Tonie Marshall. Hossein was an emblematic personality of French theatre and cinema of the 1960s. He was one of my ideal French male beauties.
My prayer: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things: his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:1-3, NIV*