Sunday, September 30, 2012

Senator Enrile, the Alfie Anido Mystery, a Travelife and me

This morning in Manila, living a Travelife, I read in the media about the death of the actor Alfie Anido in the 1980s, as retold by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile in his hefty, no holds barred memoirs that he launched recently via a very grand party at the Peninsula Manila.

It was a trip down memory lane for me, because I was somehow involved in this, although it's an incident I'd long forgotten until it resurfaced today in the newspapers.

Scroll down to read more about my role in this mystery...

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The death of Alfie Anido was a suicide, Senator Enrile wrote in his memoirs, and this was reprinted in the media today.

However his son Jack was linked to the death by the late General Fabian Ver, because General Ver was reportedly angry that Senator Enrile -- then the Minister of Defense under the late President Marcos -- had intervened in a bitter rivalry between General Ver and a certain Boy Tuzon; and Senator Enrile had helped Boy Tuzon flee the country.

This is all in Senator Enrile's memoirs.


Senator Enrile also wrote that General Ver was angry at Boy Tuzon as they were rivals for the affection of a certain woman, and that General Ver was then trying to get Boy Tuzon hurt or even killed.

Click here to read Senator Enrile's account

Senator Enrile had stepped into the picture and asked Col. Thelmo Cunanan, the intelligence chief of the Department of National Defense at that time, to "handle the problem" and get Boy Tuzon out of the Philippines and to safety somehow.

He then recounted how Col. Cunanan and Boy Tuzon had taken a private plane to Sabah and then onwards to the United States.

This is where I come into the picture because Col. Cunanan was my father.

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I was a little girl then, and it was summer holidays; and my mother and I had just arrived in Singapore after a three-week trip to Europe, enroute to Manila.

Yes, my Travelife started early, so I'm not kidding when I say that we're real travelers at Travelife Magazine (compared to other magazines, staffed by writers who travel mainly because they work for a travel magazine) and this is the main reason why we're the #1 travel and lifestyle publication in the country.


Anyway, we'd flown from London to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. In Singapore, we'd met my father for dinner. Being a little girl, I had no idea then what he was doing in Singapore, but I'd assumed that he'd flown to Singapore to meet us after our holiday.

There was a lot of serious discussions between the adults, which of course I'd not paid attention to. But I assumed that we were all returning to Manila from Singapore as school was about to start soon.

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Instead, that same night, my father announced that we were flying straight to Hong Kong in a few days, before going to Manila. I was pretty happy about this as it just meant an extension of my holiday.

The day we were set to fly to Hong Kong, my father sat me down and made me a strange request. We were all going to Hong Kong from Singapore, he said, but I was to check in at Changi Airport, walk through the terminal, and ride in business class with his friend, and pretend to be his friend's daughter.

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Upon landing in Hong Kong, I was to keep pretending that I was his friend's daughter until we got into the car at the airport, arrived at the Hong Kong Hilton, and checked in.


Perhaps I was already very independent then, because even if I was a little girl, I remember that I had no problem doing this.

The man -- who was Boy Tuzon himself, General Ver's nemesis -- seldom spoke, but he was nice and we traveled together from the time we arrived at Changi Airport in Singapore, took our Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, arrived at Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong and checked into the Hong Kong Hilton.

At the Hong Kong Hilton -- which was one of the top three hotels in Hong Kong then, together with the Mandarin Oriental and the Peninsula Hong Kong -- I was given my own room. And I recall that it was a very fancy suite with beautiful Oriental decor and a view of Hong Kong harbor. So, again, yes, I started a Travelife pretty early.


The other thing I particularly recall regarding this trip -- my very first taste, if not my only taste, of the cloak and dagger world, you might say -- was that I'd drank so much orange juice in Cathay Pacific's business class that eventually the stewardess came up to me to tell me that they'd run out of orange juice.

And later on, it was explained to me as well that I'd just helped get a man out of the Philippines, who might have been killed if he hadn't been able to escape.

I'd heard that General Ver's men were on the lookout all over the Philippines and Asia for a man traveling alone -- they didn't yet know then whether Boy Tuzon was still hiding in the Philippines or whether he'd actually been able to escape the country via some back door -- and so I had been the decoy.


They were reportedly trolling the airports around the region and  they would have had a harder time identifying Boy Tuzon as the man they were looking for, since he was traveling under an assumed name and with a little girl as well.

So, although I don't have any direct connection with the Alfie Anido incident, I can certainly attest to the fact that the case that Senator Enrile linked to it, concerning the rivalry of General Ver and Boy Tuzon, really happened.

And it brought back memories of a rather early start to a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chicken on a Sunday at the original Savory in Chinatown

Chicken on a Sunday at the original Savory in Chinatown

Last Sunday in Manila, living a TRAVELIFE, I took an ambassador of a very important country to the Philippines and his wife to the Legazpi Village Market. And then we went for chicken on a Sunday at the original Savory in Chinatown.

If I'm in Manila, you'll probably find me here at the Legazpi Village Market on a Sunday morning, stocking up on organic vegetables and foodstuffs, as well as massage oils and aromatherapy scents. And I just happened to be in Manila last weekend; so I invited this ambassador and his wife to come along with me.

We all had a very nice time, and I got my fix of freshly-made vegetable juices and sugarcane juices as well.


Then, on the spur of the moment, we decided to go to Chinatown as they had never been. As for me, I hadn't been in a very long time. We were all in agreement that we wanted chicken on a Sunday at the original Savory in Chinatown.

So off we went on just like that, doing a Travelife to Chinatown and driving up the Jones Bridge that gives you a nice view of Pasig River as you enter Chinatown.

As we entered Chinatown, I pointed out the old Savory restaurant on the right.

I said to them: "That place serves good chicken."

I'd never been to that particular Savory in Chinatown, but I'd once eaten a takeout of chicken from the Savory in Makati, which is geographically closer to us and more contemporary as well. Someone had served it at an impromptu neighborhood dinner. It was delicious and light compared to the deep-fried chicken you can find in most places, and I'd had it with calamansi and soy sauce.


Then it was soon lunchtime and we were still in Chinatown and rather hungry, so the ambassador took me up on my recommendation.

He said: "Shall we eat at Savory then?"

Feeling quite adventurous myself, I happily agreed. So again, off we went to make a u-turn around the church and to return to the red Chinatown gate to eat at Savory.


I had never been to this Savory, and I didn't think I would ever do so in my life. But there I was, last Sunday. Entering the restaurant, it was dark and quite full, but we eventually found a table on the side which needed drying up and a bit of fly-swatting.

None of us had any previous Savory experience so we looked at the menu and ended up ordering all the dishes on the menu that had the word "ORIGINAL" in front of it. As in Savory Original Fried Chicken, Savory Original Pata Tim, Savory Original Fried Rice, etc. I didn't think we could go wrong with any dish that had the words Original in front of it.

What do you know? We were very happily surprised at the tastiness of the dishes. We had second and even third helpings of everything -- there went my diet -- and in the middle of it all, the ambassador confirmed that he was enjoying the meal immensely.


And then we left Chinatown to head back to our part of town. As we exited the restaurant, full of hungry diners oblivious to the rather important person walking past them, I said to the ambassador: "You're probably the first ambassador to ever eat here."

Yes, this ambassador whom so many top politicians and big businessmen want to be friends with, had eaten anonymously at a rather greasy table at the original Savory, and enjoyed the experience.

He smiled and replied: "I'm almost sure."

And stuff like this, too, are part of a never-endingly eventful Travelife.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Rizal Park goes eco-friendly with rainwater and solar-powered lamps

The Philippine Department of Tourism  (DOT) invited Travelife Magazine on a Rizal Park tour, and Dani Elevaso, one of our Travelife interns, volunteered to go and write about the experience. Yesterday, she sent in this piece:

"On a dull, hot Monday spent at home, I usually just go on my computer and busy myself with extra work, organizing and editing photos here and there.

Yesterday was an exception as I actually went out on an “eye-opening adventures.

I joined the Department of Tourism’s Rizal Park Tour Module on Sustainable Energy as the Travelife Magazine representative. This project is in line with the United Nations World Tourism Day (UNWTD), based on this year’s theme of “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.”

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I arrived at the DOT at 9 AM. It was my first time to join such a trip so I didn’t really want to miss a thing. At 10 AM, we were told to head on to Rizal Park.

Walking past graceful fountains and majestic statues, we arrived at our first stop: a restroom. I was a bit confused as to what exactly we were doing there until our trusty tour guide enlightened us about the green toilets.

Over the past months, we’ve been experiencing heavy rainfall and the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) found a way to be able to reuse this rainwater with the help of Adamson University College of Engineering Dean Antonio F. Mateo.


This was how Rainwater Harvesting System was invented, and now it's used in this green toilet in Rizal Park.

The Rainwater Harvesting System has three filtration phases.

The first filtration phase turns the rainwater into water useful for watering plants. The second filtration phase refines the water, making it useful for bathing. The final phase refines the water further, turning it into drinking water.

The green toilets are installed with the first two phases of filtration. Currently, we have 14 units of 6,000 liters of Rainwater Harvesting System installed at the park.


Meanwhile, the second environment-friendly project installed at the park entailed a walk across from the green toilets, passing a barred gate and walking into a verdant garden. We walked up a stairway that led to a roofdeck overlooking the park on the left and a roof filled with Solar Powered Systems on the right.

They began installing LED bulbs in the lamposts around the park and about a hundred out of a thousand are already solar powered. These solar powered lamps are expected to cut down electrical consumption by 50% - 70%.

It was definitely an insightful day for me. I’m really glad that there are people who are really walking their talk about taking care of the environment."

- Written by Dani Elevazo 


"La Sallites inspire, Ateneans perspire..."

 This morning, in Manila living a Travelife, I was stuck in traffic on the way to work, so I decided to use the time to catch up on emails and texts. I'd sent a "nice doing dinner with you" message to the two school friends I'd gone to Las Flores at the Fort with the previous night, sent regrets for a foie gras tasting invitation as I'm going to be in Kyoto while that's happening, and typed out a long overdue email to a friend in Vancouver from my phone.


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Then, before opening my computer to work on the magazine, I decided to text my die-hard La Salle friend M, as his name had come up over dinner with my two school friends -- not from me, mind you -- and so I wanted to let him know we'd been talking about him, in case he'd been biting his tongue blue the previous night.

He's not at all old, but for some reason he's just gone on semi-retirement right now. So I ended my text with the following teasing message: "Hope you're enjoying your 'retirement.' PS: That's a concept I can't relate to. Ateneans never retire. We're used to leading forever purposeful lives."

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When I sent that, I knew what would be coming next so I actually should've known better. Within minutes, his text reply came back, really long and full of stuff about La Salle, God and country. He ended his long tirade with the following sentence: "We leave the mundane work to the Blues..."

I had to laugh, even if I knew he was probably serious.

Anyway, I replied: "La Sallites are all fancy text about God and country. Ateneans are all about, well, real work. That's where I'm headed now, by the way. Have a nice day."

I thought that was the end of that, and I was about seven minutes away from work; so after sending him that message, I opened my computer to get some real work done.


But this La Sallite was on a roll. He texted back: "I agree. La Sallites inspire, while Ateneans perspire. Great combination and symbiotic partnership, don't you think?"

I have only two friends in the world who send messages over the phone in this kind of language, by the way. This one actually inputs a phrase like "symbiotic partnership" into his phone for a message to me, while my other friend J uses words like "behooves" and phrases like "dysfunctionality ruled their world" in his BBM messages.

Scroll down to read the punch line...


Anyway, M's messages were actually long and philosophical, but I don't want to quote everything here as that's private.

But after reading them, I decided to give him a punch: "Since you're semi-retired now, you should think about becoming a life coach for all these La Sallites who talk big and have lots of time on their hands, but who don't really know what they want in life."

I meant him, of course. But I put a smiley face at the end, just in case he was about to say "Ouch."

Eventually I asked him: "Greens inspire, blues perspire? Are you getting these lines out of a book or are you actually thinking these up on your own? If it's the latter, I'm genuinely impressed."


He replied, without a tinge of false humility: "I'm one in a million."

How uncanny, I thought. The last time I'd heard that phrase, it had been from my friend J, M's vocabulary soulmate and just as Type A and OC as him in many ways, when I'd expressed a form of very mild admiration for something he'd said as well. What are the odds of that happening?

Anyway, M sent a couple of really long philosophical messages after that as well, still on the Ateneo-La Salle theme. But by that time, I'd reached the office and so I decided to call it a day with the messages. My quota for quotes about school rivalry was just about done.

And just like that, it was back to my never-endingly eventful Travelife.


The Art of Tea at the Genting Club of Resorts World

This afternoon I attended a tea party at Passion, the Chinese restaurant of Resorts World, hosted by Lynda Chang, a famous tea master from Hong Kong who had studied the art of tea in Taiwan. She had brought special teas from China to Manila, especially for drinking at the Genting Club.

Tea Master Lynda Chang
Lynda's teas are now available at the Genting Club as part of the special Genting Tea Selection, and she expects that many tea lovers will be interested in her choices for health, vitality and detoxification.

Scroll down to read more about the best teas for health and detoxification...


She said: "Tea is one of the best drinks in the world. If you pick the right tea, you'll get more vitamins and minerals in them than from fruits or vegetables."

This seriously got my attention. After all, I'm studiously downing vegetable and fruit juices every day for health and energy. Did it mean I could now chuck away my juicer and just drink a pot of tea?

Lyndah seemed pretty sure of her answer. She said: "Good tea has so many nutrients to maintain health."

These were the sweets that accompanied the teas...


Lyndah brought in eight different kinds of tea from China. They aren't cheap and they all seemed the same to me. So I asked her: "Which is the best out of all of these?"

She immediately pointed me to the 1980 Liu Bao Golden Herbal Tea, which costs PhP 488 per gram but that she assured me is worth every peso.

She explained: "This is the best tea you can drink. It's full of anti-oxidants, but it also has numerous minerals and enzymes. It's very good for cleansing the intestines. I never leave home without this tea, and I like to tell everyone: 'Don't leave home without your Liu Bao tea.'"

The Liu Bao tea has a similar taste to a fully-fermented Pu-erh tea, although it's sweeter and infused with a hint of betel nut flavor. After a few sips, the sweet aftertaste lingers in the mouth.


Then I asked: "Which would be your next choice?" I'm the kind of person who always likes options, you see.

She immediately pointed out another box of tea called Rock Tea, or the Wu Yi Da Hong Pao, which costs PhP 388 per gram. Apparently this particular tea is full of minerals because the leaves are gathered from plants that grow near rocks, and so the leaves also get some of the minerals from the rocks.

This tea is reportedly very good for the stomach in general. It's a full-bodied tea with a sweet after-taste that you first feel in your throat, and then you feel in the back of your tongue. After drinking a few cups of this, the pleasant floral fragrance remains in the mouth for a good few minutes -- thus, making it quite a special tea for being good for the health and also very pleasant to imbibe.


By the way, in case you're wondering, the most expensive tea of the lot is the 1950s Pu Erh Tea Golden Water Print, which costs PhP 788 per gram.

Lynda says that the flavors of Pu Erh tea can change dramatically over the course of aging tea, and the vintage versions (like this one) can smell of rich garden soil or an autumn leaf pile, with roasted or sweet undertones.

Of course I just had to get one of those teas for myself. And I chose the Liu Bao as it seemed perfect for a never-endingly eventful Travelife -- the kind of tea that I should never leave home without.