It’s almost 11PM on a Friday evening. My boys are snoring side by side on the bed next to me. I’m exhausted. Sleep eludes me probably because of the adrenalin that lingers after a long day. Angel, as always, woke me up at around 5 AM. I had to get our things ready to move to the condotel after Alan and my mother-in-law arrive today.
My brother and I fetched them then spent the whole afternoon and early evening trying to get things together. Our family was settled by 9PM, and although I am beat, too many blog entries were racing through my mind so I decided fighting it was a futile attempt at getting some shut eye. Why bother?
It’s our first weekend together as a family here in Manila tomorrow. Now that we’re in the heart of Makati, I feel relieved that we’re a stone’s throw away from practically everything we need. I’m just a hop, skip and a jump away from Greenbelt 3. The last time Alan and I were here in 2002, we managed to eat at Cena, Sentro, Oodies, The Good Earth, and of course how could I not eat at Cafe Breton? I’ve been here a week and I was in Makati the other day, but I didn’t really get to see anything. Oh, I did manage lunch at Chicken Bacolod which was, as always, the best chicken inasal around. (Emphasis on “around” lest some people start chiming in it’s not as good as the stuff they actually sell in Bacolod.)
I have around a half dozen blog posts that are germinating in small pieces of paper tucked somewhere inside my heavy brown purse. My barrel bag arrived today so I just might opt to cut down on my “treasures” and just carry a few essentials tomorrow. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate.
Father and son are quite a joy to watch side by side. I think I’ll join them now.
(written after 6AM..Angel wakes us up at 5AM)
My first sunrise here in Makati. Even with its polluted haze hovering above the sleepy metropolis, it is such a beautiful sight to me.
We’re getting ready to have breakfast at Via Mare. Of course I’m having my bibingka with quezo de bola. This is the perfect vacation to me. Not having to worry about work. Knowing the lounging around doesn’t end Sunday evening. And most importantly, having my original family at arm’s length. Literally just a stone’s throw away. (Well, that’s if you think about the distance that usually separates us when they are in San Juan and I’m in New York.)
GMA 7 is advertising a new telenovela entitled “I LOVE NEW YORK”. When I saw the preview, I kept telling my almost 6 year old niece that that is where we live. (Well, not the Manhattan they show in the preview, but that part of the world where we have our home.)
Two weeks to go.. hmmm…
10PM..No, we didn’t end up at Via Mare because we were too early. We landed in Starbucks instead. What’s with their ensaymada? They used to have one of the best ensaymadas in town, which, I know, was sourced from the Shangri-la bakeshop. Alan had always raved about their tuna or corned beef pan de sal, and he says the one he had today was alright.
There were no four-seater tables available, but I spied a three seater nearby. There was a lady having her breakfast alone by the other three seater and I politely said excuse me and asked if she was using the third chair, seeing that her tote was on the second. She smiled but looked at me with an expression saying “No, but you may not take it.” I didn’t realize til then that it was Tessie Tomas. I figured she must’ve thought there were other tables to get a chair from, but I just thought that was the closest to the table we meant to occupy. No, I’m not making an issue out of it, just that I had gotten used to being allowed to take an unused chair. Big deal.. I went to the next table and grabbed the fourth seat I needed. She was nice enough to trade smiles with my two-year-old, so I’ll indulge her her chair.
Like Jayred, we had gotten used to cleaning up after ourselves and Alan had to remind us that the tables would be bussed.
We ended up walking around and going back to the hotel before noon Angel started acting up and I guess it was the heat. It was just too hot outside.
Lunch was an impromptu reunion with some of Alan’s close relatives they had lost touch with through the years in Cabalen. It’s always nice to see people who were once so close and who had lost touch with each other find themselves in each other’s company again.
Angel and I had to make an early exit because he started getting irritable. It turns out he needed changing, and he was back to his old self once I took care of that.
Alan had been planning on watching THE SENTINEL which is now showing in Manila and we decided to ask Nikky to babysit. He had become a favorite playmate of Angel while we were staying in our family home, so I figured I stand a good chance of Angel doing okay with him.
I left them together while Angel was asleep. He cried off and on but eventually quieted down. While Alan and I had an evening snack at Cafe Breton, Nikky managed to calm him down with some Elmo VCDs. It wasn’t easy going away for a stretch knowing Angel was crying, but by the time I brought him and Nikky some dinner (Nilagang Bulalo from EBON), he was already quiet. He was probably all exhausted and was out before Nikky could feed him dinner.
Father and son snuggled close to each other and are snoring side by side. Meanwhile, I’m watching Mike Enriquez on GMA 7. Kapamilya nga.
CAFE BRETON: Crepes are still good, but service is bad
One of the things on my to-do list before I flew to Manila was to visit Cafe Breton and have crepes there. I got the chance to do that this evening (April 29, between 6 to 7PM – we were trying to catch the 7:20 showing of The Sentinel) before Alan and I went into Greenbelt III to watch THE SENTINEL. It was dinnertime but we were still full from the Cabalen luncheon earlier. We were promptly seated and handed the menu, but it took them 10 minutes after Alan and I had closed our menu and made our selections to get our order and only because I called the attention of the waitresses who were doing small talk right behind our table.
I had to signal one and ask if anyone was going to take my order since we had been seated for 10 minutes already. I was calm and poker faced but miffed as it was already a long wait considering the place wasn’t even full or crowded.
The crepes were good. I had the La Delice which is a personal favorite and Alan had the Don Quixote Gallettes. We finished our snack promptly and again, had to wait before someone could actually see me signaling for someone to go get our bill. Again, the place wasn’t full and again, the servers were just chit-chatting.
With a 5% service charge immediately tacked on to the bill and the government imposition of the 12% E-Vat, you’d think that establishments such as those in the service industry like restaurants and cafes would give premium to improving their service. While you cannot lower your prices to make your products affordable, you can certainly help alleviate the cost by giving added value to what you sell through the service rendered in selling it.
It was even made worse by the fact that a store manager was actually there. Still, the waitresses were complacent about being attentive to the customers present. I pity those who were dining outside al fresco, considering it was too hot for the waitresses to hang out there to see if anybody needed anything.
In New York, tipping is an expectation. If you don’t tip appropriately (15% or double the usual tax), the Manager can approach you and ask if there is a problem. If you cannot justify not giving the customary tip, you are expected to give it. You would expect that a place charging a service charge would give you good service. Well not at Cafe Breton.
The Crepes may be good – and I will attest to that, even vouching for the fact that they are as good as the ones I tasted in Paris – but if your service leaves much to be desired, people will start complaining and you will lose out to the next creperie who can serve those crepes better than you can.
GIVE ME MAX FRIED CHICKEN ANYTIME
I’m not here to bitch about everything I see. Don’t get me wrong. I’m trying to savor my vacation in Manila – and there are some good experiences this first half of my visit.
My siblings and I decided to have lunch at Max’s Restaurant in SM Centrepoint last Tuesday. In 2002, Alan and I were taken aback by the fact that we were greeted with the same kind of customer service we were accustomed to in the US by the crews of Shakey’s in Rockwell and Cubao. They came back to our table after the food was served to ask if everything was okay.. something you get as a matter of course in establishments in the US. This time around, Max had their own version – asking “Meron pa po ba silang kailangan? Additional order po, Ma’am?” — a question we heard asked by the waiter, the busboy, the one replenishing the water, everyone who was so attentive to every little thing we asked. On the way out, everyone who worked there whom we passed thanked us audibly and more importantly, sincerely. You felt like they really appreciated your business and were not in a rush to see you out the door.
Max Fried Chicken is always going to be the best fried chicken to me. I will definitely go back to try their Chicken Sisig. It’s always good to go to a place that makes you feel truly welcome.
I have had the chance to go online but not for too long. My posts, as you will see, are not chronologically arranged. Life has been too hectic to blog in an organized fashion, and a much needed manicure hasn’t happened in ages. I’ll get there yet.
It’s been a long day. I went to 168 (yes, THE 168 in Divisoria) and scouted for a giveaway for Angel’s party. I managed to buy a few things for myself – not much, just a few plain shirts, a pair of slippers (with all those beads and sequins) and a few items for Angel. I did get to accomplish what I went there for – we decided on a folding child chair which sold for anything from P220 to P180. We finally got it for P170. It was the one with the arm rest which was really cute.
My brother then took me to that place where you could choose from store after store for additional toys and gifts to put into his loot bag. Like last year for his first birthday, I shied away from putting chocolates and candy in the bag, except for a clapper which had candy in its handle. I decided on some clay (no, not Play Doh), some bubbles to blow through a little siren, and then I bought another toy to put it in. I think I’m good. I also bought some prices for the games.
I stopped momentarily from packing and sorting the things I’m bringing home to New York. I haven’t had the chance to go online for over a week. It’s a little surprising that I actually don’t feel disconnected. Enjoying the vacation too much.