Friday, December 23, 2011

'Twas 2 days before Christmas


I spent the last working day before Christmas Eve with a hangover from our Travelife holiday party the night before. It had been a grand reunion of our magazine and TV teams and we'd all spent the evening at a new karaoke bar in the Fort where some of our staff competed very seriously for prizes.

We have some pretty good singers and also some very competitive people, so a good part of the evening was devoted to trying to outdo each other via song. When people weren't singing, they were playing several forms of charades with very difficult words like "Pagination Board." Try acting that one out. Congratulations to Irynn Constante, our senior advertising manager, for winning the grand prize this year.

PRE-CHRISTMAS LUNCH AT THE MANDARIN

So it was a very late night and today was a very early morning, resulting in a sleep hangover if you can have such a thing. Fortunately, relief came via a very nice and relaxing pre-Christmas lunch at the Tivoli of the Mandarin Oriental, which is one of a handful of my favorite lunch places during the few times that I do have a social lunch out.


Since the Tivoli got a makeover sometime back, it's become a warmer and more attractive restaurant that's just perfect for a relaxing lunch. And that's exactly what we had today, ordering Tivoli's business lunch which comes with an appetizer buffet, a main course, and dessert.

I always have a plate of oysters and a salad to start, and today's main course was a very juicy pork chop with an incredibly salty home-made pasta that went perfectly with it. For dessert, we each had a different one and then shared so we could taste a bit of the chocolate dessert and also the parfait.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HOUSE IN MANILA

It was to be a pretty leisurely day as I was due for tea at my neighbor's home at 330 PM and then at the Peninsula Manila to join GM Sonja Vodusek for a Christmas concert and dinner, and then a second dinner at the residence of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka. The neighbor's home I was visiting is the one I've mentioned previously in this blog, as being the most beautiful house in Manila, in my opinion.

I then spent a lovely few hours with my neighbors admiring their truly lovely house all over again. Then we sat in their picturesque living room that reminds me of a villa in Neuilly or the 16th in Paris, or somewhere in Morocco or the French Riviera, or even the vacation home of a truly cultured and cosmopolitan person in Bali or Phuket all at once -- it's that eclectic -- having delicious apple pie and tea. The delicious apple pie is from that little bakeshop everyone loves in the gas station outside Dasmarinas Village.


All too soon it was time for the Peninsula Christmas Concert, which I was really looking forward to for more of the holiday spirit. The ladies and gentlemen of the parish church of Ayala Alabang sang beautiful Christmas carols for over an hour in the lobby. I arrived and walked over to the other side of the lobby from GM Sonja's reserved table, and I found myself standing next to one of the Ayala Alabang ladies, dressed in a terno in a striking shade of blue. "We're from the St. James Parish," she told me. "Our members are doctors, lawyers, businesspeople. We practice once a week."

Well, they certainly sang beautifully and it was a joy to be at such a nice concert, having dinner in the lobby, the night before Christmas Eve.



INSPIRED LIKE NO OTHER

And somewhere in this pretty relaxing day, my friend J BBMs from somewhere still freezingly cold. It's been one cold place after another for him, and he seems to like it in spite of the plebeian food. He'd read my blog about him and apparently, once again he'd liked it a lot. He told me, with just a hint of smugness: "Your writing is just so much more inspired when it's about me."

I don't really know where he comes up with these one-liners -- must be all the plebeian food he's having over in snow country, that he's not usually eating elsewhere; he's more of a Michelin star or two or three a day kind of person, you see.

But don't get shocked because we talk like this all the time. He always likes to think he's changed my life for the infinitely better, and when I'm in a good mood I let him think so for a minute or two. As for me, I just think he's a good diversion when I'm stuck in traffic or at a boring meeting. And he's terribly fun to write about.

I replied: "You so would would like to think that, wouldn't you?" Then I added teasingly: "Sorry for the typo. That blog entry should have read: "Better off without him." The word "off" makes all the difference." Of course I put a smiley face afterwards lest he think I was just kidding.

A MEMORY TEST


I'll leave this at that for now, although I did ask him to buy me the boxed set of the BBC series Downton Abbey, if he comes across it at an HMV over where he is, because I thought I would buy it at HMV in Central in Hong Kong two weeks ago; but when I got there it was closed. And I keep forgetting to order it from Amazon. I wonder if he'll remember to do this. He has a great memory for everything else.

Best wishes from all of us at Travelife Magazine, the Philippines' leading travel & lifestyle publication, for a most wonderful Christmas holiday -- wherever in the world you happen to be.

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