Category Archives: Talk Story (a.k.a. “blog”)

“Talk Story” is a.k.a. MY BLOG.

The Manila Hotel: Old Crone Memories, circa 1977

May 10, 2009 in Chicagoland, Illinois

Roger Pe, an advertising creative, sent some of his Facebook colleagues a link to an OP-ED at today. The opinion editorial’s title was OLD CRONE.

Here are some snippets from this OP-ED.

FOR OLD timers nostalgic over the old Manila Hotel, its management’s tussle with the Government Service Insurance System over alleged unpaid loans, said to have ballooned to P17 billion because of interest, seems like a mere quibble when compared to the more worrisome reality: the Old Glory is gone; all that remains of the Grand Dame is a pitiable shell of her old self – an old crone going the way of history in the most dejected of exits.

Then, the OP-ED apprised us about the latest development.

But the first sacrilege committed against the Grand Dame was not the pollution but the defacement of her façade. On the corner of the green tropical roof of the hotel facing the walls of Intramuros is her name in quite ungraceful graphics. As if that were not enough, the graphics appear again at the side of the roof fronting the Quirino Grandstand. The redundancy antedated – and, perhaps, presaged – the manic passion for billboard construction around Metro Manila: it reinforces the fact that much of the loss of the quality of life in the metropolis owes to crass commercialism, slapdash development, and the regulated chaos that makes up for urban planning in the otherwise overly regulated and bureaucratized regime obtaining in the Philippines.

I searched Youtube to see if there were any old photos from the grand old days of The Manila Hotel — and I found one about a “Manila Hotel Family Reunion” held at the home of Connie and John Santos at the Hacienda Heights, California, on June 30, 2007. I hope these friends don’t mind that I’m including them in my blog entry to validate what I’m talking about — the Manila Hotel’s family spirit! (Thank you in advance!)

Here is my reply to Roger’s letter to us, his Facebook friends.


I am so sad to hear about the way The Manila Hotel is being treated today. There is still hope, you know.

I am a direct witness to the rebuilding of the old Manila Hotel back to its old “glamour charm” in 1977. Although I missed the actual day of the grand reopening — when methuselah bottles of champagne were poured like water for its guests — I was an intern for my final semester (practicum student) there, a requirement for the B.S. Hotel and Restaurant Administration degree I was pursuing at UP Diliman. There were only five UP students chosen among the graduating class. We had to go through interviews like any other potential employee. All of the employees were practically new, taken from “the best of the best” from all over the hotel industry. Noemi Javier, Guia Sason, Desiree Obana, Violeta Albulario, and I were the chosen few, which meant that we had to work harder to prove that students from the University of the Philippines could handle the pressure. I remember that Mrs. Cruz from Human Resources somehow took a liking to me — maybe because I was this wide-eyed Cebuana who spoke impeccable English with an inquisitive, learning mindset.

The “old crone,” Manila Hotel, was definitely a grand lady. Do you remember the way the movie “Titanic” was filmed, as if you felt you were entering a wondrous world of delight? The Manila Hotel, in 1977, was just like that — and more. There was a revered history. Employees would share with me that, oftentimes, ghosts still haunted the old part of the hotel.

The first person who made a distinct impression on how I would evolve as a customer service professional was The Manila Hotel’s General Manager, Franz Schutzman, one of the most distinguished hoteliers in Asia. I recall that he told the practicum students that it was a standard practice for him to allow a hotel guest’s shoes to be left outside his room for overnight shoe polishing. I was totally awed by Mr. Schutzman’s presence because he was considered an icon in the hotel industry. Plucked from Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, this legendary, engaging, witty, wiry-haired older gentleman had known the likes of my literary heroes such as W. Somerset Maugham. Franz had also concocted the popular cocktail, the Singapore Sling. Thus, I knew I was directly experiencing his expectations about how a true five star hotel should be managed.

Since I came by bus from the UP Balara stop in Katipunan Road every day, I had to be awake by 4:00 am so I could catch the 5:00 am bus. The Philippines was experimenting on its first-ever Daylight Savings Time (and its only time to do it) so you can imagine how dark my early mornings were. I was a fearless young woman, bringing my clothes and make-up in a satchel bag, who endured a dusty, non-air conditioned ride to Luneta (Rizal Park). My efforts to put as little attention to myself during these rides were successful. No one bothered me inside and outside the bus.

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Beauty Basics: Skin Care, Hair, and Make-Up for Every Day, Special Days, and Wedding Days

All my three younger sisters didn’t have a professional make-up artist for their wedding days. I did it! Albert Arriba was responsible for my early lessons in make-up. For my own make-up on my wedding day was done by Vincent Gotingco. Ah, the pleasure of someone else doing it for me reminds me of a perfect spa experience.

I found some YouTube videos that reminded me about the stuff that I know or the products that I need to check out. This is for my nieces to enjoy — and for my nephews to understand the intricacies of Beauty Basics.

My Skin Care Routine for “flawless looking” skin (by Kandee)

I found this video particularly fascinating. A lot of the products can be found at General Nutrition Stores or Whole Foods. Since Kandee is much younger, she definitely doesn’t need any Hormone Replacement Therapy, so she avoids soy products that had caused her skin break-outs.

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Chicago’s Neighborhoods: Comfort Food, Ethnic Dining, and Fusion Cuisine Part 1

March 29, 2009

Now that spring is here (it snows during spring, too!), I’ve decided to collect the contact information of my friends’ favorite foodie hangouts so I can pull up this list from my Blackberry when the need arises.

3424 N. Southport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 528-2220

Originally recommended to me by my colleagues at Filipinas Magazine, our visit one winter evening turned out to be a gastronomic delight. Described as LATINO FUSION CUISINE (think Cuba, Spain, Brazil meets the Philippines), our menu selections that day showcased a delicate blend of influences… But I’m not spoiling your appetites. Just make reservations early!

Some of the appetizers and entrees that we tried — aside from the delicious mussels — were:

Fried Calamari – Seasoned with a blend of dry roasted Philippine sea salt and black pepper served with sambal cocktail sauce

Pork Tenderloin Bicol – Lean pork tenderloin stuffed with shrimp, bacon, coconut and pineapple served with jasmine rice, seasonal vegetables and peppery adobo glaze

Zarzuela – Rustic Catalonian seafood dish with shrimp, mussels and scallops cooked in a saffron, white wine and roasted tomato broth served with grilled baguette

3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7427
The best baby back ribs — and the best barbecued foods in Chicago, according to Ron Salazar. This is on my wish list!

Reviews can be found here.

Neighborhood: Cragin
3100 N Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 685-4241

Ron Salazar found another place for me to try (he likes to record these nice finds in his Facebook, lucky me!).

“Another great find on Chicago’s Northwest side…From a YELP, “…this place is amazing. All sorts of Argentinian and S. American delights. …They have Argentine soccer stuff, food, EMPANADAS, groceries and . . .WINE. Delicious wine from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and all over S. America …The staff is v. friendly and so enthusiastic about their Argentinian culture and country. A real GEM!”

Some reviews can be found here.

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If you’re from Cebu, Defend UP High! No closing, no streamlining

March 17, 2009, Fort Lauderdale, FL – Today is my birthday! I’ve decided to dedicate my posting today to the community advocates who are fighting to keep the high school in the University of the Philippines, Visayas – High School Cebu (or UP High School Cebu) from being streamlined to one class or closed down. I truly believe that if there are more people who make the time to spread the word, lobby to all stakeholders and decision makers, then somehow, somewhere, there could be a budget that will be provided for this high school to “live long and prosper.”

In Facebook, the name of the cause is DEFEND UP.

On the internet, it’s UP Naming Mahal.

Here’s some snippets that I found from the Facebook group.


1. U.P. Cebu High School is threatened for closure.
2. The threat is more palpable and pressing as ever, as the Executive Committee recently voted for the downsizing of the high school.
3. The Dean has even proposed closure.
4. Please pledge your support for this cause by filling up the form at the website indicated below:



UP high school students, alumni protest closure

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

“We stand firm and united against the persistent threats to close UP Cebu High School as this is an apparent violation of the mandate of the University of the Philippines to provide service to the Filipino people. It is likewise a disservice to the Cebu community as the UP Cebu High School stands as the only school in Central Visayas to provide a democratized admission policy giving preferential admission to underprivileged but intellectually deserving students.”

My comments: I would imagine that the administration, faculty, students, and alumni can find common ground by working together AND not antagonizing each other. (If President Emer Roman reads this, she would know that I’m here to help out and that I am writing this from my personal perspective and professional assessment as a public relations practitioner.)

:-) :-) :-)

Maybe it would be a good idea to share with you why I feel so strongly about defending the continued existence of UP Cebu High School.

I may not have been a UP Cebu High School student but I had many friends there. Many of the students, after the high school opened its doors in 1972, were like my “kids” because I was their “den mother.” I was also the older sister of Noemi, Oscar, Myrna, Reuben, Belen, and David (the Lardizabal kids) — who all went to UP Cebu. Trivia: I was one of the first UP College Cebu freshmen who re-opened the College department in 1973.

If someone can visit Thelma Gallardo at Cebu Medical Supply, please convince her to find the movie (yes, an actual movie, not a video) of our first UP Cebu college intramural games. A copy should really be made for the archives.

The spirit of UP lived within us.

Our batch of students lobbied to pay for a quonset hut in the grounds so it could be used as our outdoor classroom but we were denied the rustic environment but praised for our initiative and enthusiasm. Wilson Gaw had the blueprints, I recall.

The acclaimed Freddie Santos and I were classmates in the first semester. Freddie had just arrived from the United States. He tried to teach me tennis but I kept getting a Love Set. After two weeks, I lost 10 lbs. A benefit of Freddie’s tennis lesson was that I was able to sashay in between the columns of the main building’s entrance during a Christmas Play that I wrote and Freddie directed. I’m sure he was not happy with my script — but hey, at least he did teach me how to do a Va-Va-Va-Voom prostitute’s dance toward the pearly gates of heaven (Freddie played the role of St. Peter).

Some of the boys in my class used the main building’s classroom walls as their pelota court, yes we did. We were the first CRAZY DAY people. Alex Arnado and I made a parody of Dolphy and Nida Blanca’s roles in the popular TV sitcom, “John and Marsha.” Philip Rodriguez was Sluggo. Wilson Gaw came as a transvestite with a long-haired wig. If I can find my photos, I’ll post them, not to make fun of my classmates, but to show people that UP Cebu was vibrant as a “well-rounded place of learning” even if we had to work with limited resources.

We knew how to study hard and play hard.

Then came “Up the Down Staircase” musical, the mastermind of Allan Jayme Rabaya, which was based on the book and movie of the same title BUT with original compositions by Allan. Danny Alfonso played the “bad boy” student, Ester Ceniza Isberto was the teacher. Jocelyn Lim Borromeo (a Masters degree student) and I alternated in the secondary lead role of Bea, a fellow teacher. I seem to remember Nelson Fuentes, Allan Dolores, and Alvin Alazas being a dance trio in this production. Mind you, at that time, we didn’t have those fancy microphones attached to one of our ears so we could sing. We had to be good singers and dancers — and make sure our voices could carry to the last row of the Sacred Heart Girls High School auditorium. After all, this showed everyone that all of the UP Cebu’s departments could work together.

UP Cebu even became a movie set. There was this Visayan movie that Gloria Sevilla produced about a Filipino “Tarzan and Jane” filmed at the back of the old main building. We were fascinated by Chanda Romero who played “Jane.”

To this day, I will always remember that it was Helen Banez who made sure we could communicate well in the English language. “Keep it short, concise, and effective!” Mrs. Banez would say to us when we wrote our essays and short stories. “Always revise, revise, and revise!” was another piece of advice she would intone.

Former UP President Dodong Nemenzo and my managing editor at Filipinas Magazine, Gemma Nemenzo, had “a class act” for a father. He taught Biology without any books. Professor Nemenzo also walked from his home to the college campus, wearing a loose, tunic-style, long-sleeved white shirt, black pants, and his almost-Fedora hat. “Epiglottis” and “corpus luteum” were some of the words I remember from his classes.

The late Mr. Perez taught us Spanish while Mr. Manuel made sure we understood our Chemistry. Agnes Brigoli flunked me in Math 11 (Basic Math). Yet it was the late Migs Enriquez who delighted us with the history of the Philippines, according to him. Mig’s words (and a vision of him smoking a cigarette) would later on reverberate in my head when many students from UP Diliman attended a peaceful IMF rally outside St. Theresa’s College-Manila sometime in 1976, watching nuns and priests fly into the air from the force of the water cannons (not colored pink at that time). It was my first real taste of terror as many of us hid inside a nearby public parking garage. There was Mrs. Yap, always wanting us to mind our manners and get our share of Physical Education. And it was the artistic Lucille Aguas who taught our Humanities class the best way she knew how. She made us paint and she made us analyze the themes of the music scores that we chose. I loved Wagner so it was easy determining what the main theme of the composition was. Lucille also taught us to appreciate the various artistic genres. So, yes, I know the difference between an Impressionist and a Cubist (Picasso) painting. I understood what “chiaroscurro” was all about.

Sharing these intimate details about some of my experiences at UP Cebu is really meant to ask all of the students and alumni, as well as its supporters, to share their own stories. People will not help in a fundraising campaign if they cannot find an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION to the cause. So, start sharing your stories. There’s a blog just for you. For Facebook users, there’s this discussion board that’s available.

Last year was UP’s Centennial Celebration. I think it is timely, once again, for us to review where UP has been and where it’s going.

And if any of you happen to be in the US this early September, do join us at the UP Alumni Association in America biennial Convention and Grand Reunion. GIVE VOICE TO YOUR CAUSE!

Valley Golf Brawl and the Pangandamans: Lessons learned for journalists and bloggers

After you finish viewing the Media in Focus segment last January 15, 2009, please scroll below to understand the interconnectedness of our journalistic and blogging relationships (from my point of view). My sister, Noemi Dado, who is a new media publisher, has her own blogging community that strongly supports each other. There are many blogging communities. Noemi belongs to a group of mom-bloggers — its friends and allies.

Media In Focus – January 15, 2009

Media In Focus – January 15, 2009 PART 1 of 5

Media In Focus – January 15, 2009 PART 2 of 5

Media In Focus – January 15, 2009 PART 3 of 5

Media In Focus – January 15, 2009 PART 4 of 5

Media In Focus – January 15, 2009 PART 5 of 5

Greg B. Macabenta, our NaFFAA National Chair who was elected in September, 2008 recently appointed me as NaFFAA’s Online Coordinator. This appointment clearly acknowledges the evolving power of cyberspace. With this appointment also comes great responsibility. As a coordinator, I am both in a position of support and front-line activity in advocacy empowerment and online reputation. Since I have always publicly stated that I am a community publicist for the Filipino community — and not a journalist — then it is the community’s experiences that mandate my overt efforts in making this constituency understood to the community-at-large.

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Elections: People I Know Who Are Running For Public Office In The San Francisco Bay Area & Silicon Valley

Rodel Rodis. Myrna Lim. Paul Fong. Otto Lee. Ash Kalra. Kalvin Gill. David Canepa. Hermy Almonte. Noelani Sallings. Ed Balico. Don Kuehne.

Time to rock the vote!!! Truly, every vote counts!

I’ve listed some of these wonderful people who are running for public office in the San Francisco Greater Bay Area! Some of them are my friends who actively sought my support and who I’ve worked with (and I asked them more than 20 questions, of course!) Some are people I have watched and admired through the years. Others are members of the multi-ethnic coalition that helped FilAmSODC at Northside Community Center through thick-and-thin (thanks to Ben Menor’s introduction to the likes of community leaders, Mohinder Mann and Annie Dandavati) in San Jose, CA…

You will see some of them in the KGO’s’s political coverage videos. Feel feel to browse!

Here they are!

Rodel Rodis, in his re-election bid for Board of Trustees of City College of San Francisco, is largely instrumental in proving that Filipino Americans have made a mark in the development and expansion of one of the top 10 educational institutions in the US. There’s an interesting column that he wrote here: (check out his blog at

Myrna Lim (running for Board of Supervisors, District 11, in San Francisco, see

Paul Fong , Democrat candidate for California’s 22nd State Assembly District in Santa Clara County; a member of the strongest multi-ethnic coalitions I’ve ever volunteered in (see

Otto Lee , current mayor of Sunnyvale who is preparing for a run-off elections for a seat at the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and who is well-known for his astute managerial style and diplomacy. He is one of the multi-ethnic coalition members who I admire and respect. (see

Ash Kalra , running for City Council of San Jose, whose opponent just recently endorsed him; He is one of the first multi-ethnic coalition members I met many years ago — and I am so happy to see him manifesting his intention; (see

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Packing Tips: Travel light for business or vacation with your carry-on luggage

My heavy travel schedule is such that I have learned how to pack everything inside my Samsonite laptop bag and a duffel bag good for a week or two. Here are some videos I collected that gives practical packing tips for travellers. I follow some of these tips, believe it or not. Here’s the best tip I got from a book: To prevent static from your clothes, bring some of your clothes dryer sheets like Bounce with Febreze. Rub them lightly over your clothes when you are dressing up! Oila, no more static clinging to your body!

If you plan to travel to the US, always check for carry-on luggage packing tips. That 1 quart ziploc bag comes in handy even if you travel to other countries.

For the Blackberry 8830 World Edition users, being able to use your phone as a modem so you don’t have to rely on WIFI — this is the way to go! I used this during my travel to the Netherlands and I was the envy of international travelers at Schiphol Airport.

How to Pack for Vacation : How to Pack a Carry-On Bag
From Expert Village. Embedding isn’t allowed so just click on the video.

How To Pack Everything For Your Vacation Into a Carry-on

Girls Gone Styled Ep. 6: How To Pack Like A Fashionista


Think You Know How To Pack A Suitcase?

Ginny McGrath is challenged by a hotel concierge who’s an expert on travelling light.

Virtual Valet – How to Pack a Bag from Esquire Magazine

Aha! Moments with “The 4-Hour WorkWeek” by Timothy Ferriss

A couple of months ago, my nephew (the son of my late brother, Reuben Lardizabal), Jose Daniel (or Dan), and I were chatting via yahoo messenger about Timothy Ferriss. Dan was quite enthused about “The 4-Hour WorkWeek” by Timothy Ferriss, explaining to me about some of the principles that he learned from the book. I finally got the chance to buy my own book last Saturday while waiting for my plane at the San Francisco International Airport. What I didn’t expect was this book would become my “sanity companion” during the more-than-24-hours I waited for my plane.

It is 2008 — and Timothy Ferriss is only 31 years old and living the life of the New Rich (or RH, as he calls it). I have finished half of the book and I am convinced that he has given my right brain some of the answers I have been looking for.

For instance, I am a slave to my e-mails, responding to them promptly. Nothing wrong with that except that by 5:00 p.m., I realize that I haven’t finished my priorities of the day because I was so involved and dedicated in answering my e-mails. I also check my blackberry once every few minutes. With some of Tim’s sage advice, I have resolved to free up my time so I can work on the more productive activities in my life that provide abundance. This means that I’ve resolved to dedicate two time slots, one in the morning, and one in the late afternoon, to answering all my e-mails. So, if you hear me saying “No!” more often when I would normally say “yes,” please don’t take it personally. I want to be able to be of service to many people who deserve my talents and skills BUT I have to take better care of myself first.

I’m still finishing this book — which really speaks a language I understand. I’m more forgiving now since I haven’t beaten myself up for all the unproductive mistakes I’ve made in my life. “Focus on the critical few,” Timothy Ferriss says.

Here are some videos I found about Timothy Ferriss. I can really see that he is truly living the life of “The New Rich.” We can then compare notes when you read his book and apply some of the principles he believes in.

From masterlock77 at, showing the highlights of The 4-Hour WorkWeek program:

From masterlock77 at, at a press meeting:

From masterlock77 at, from a TV interview:

Tim Ferriss and a sample of his lifestyle: Surviving a Physical Attack: Chokes

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