Au Revoir, Cendrillon

It has been 2 weeks since we found out that Cendrillon, located on Mercer Street had closed its doors after 13 1/2 years of being a part of the LES (Lower East Side) restaurant scene. We were going to have brunch there  hoping for some Beef Angus Tapsilog, and looking forward to some Ukoy when we realized the signage hanging in front of the restaurant was missing, and upon walking up to the facade, we were greeted by this sign.

It wasn’t surprising, but it was a very sad moment, as Cendrillon and its proprietors, Chef (Mang) Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa had been part of many fond memories at an establishment that made us proud as Filipino New Yorkers. With all that has happened in the last couple of months, we have seen so many casualties of this economic crisis we are all current suffering from.

I remember some of our first few dinner dates here after I moved to New York in June 2000, and the many celebrations had there with family and friends. I had proudly brought visiting family and friends to dine here, warning them that it was Filipino cuisine with a twist. Some looking for good old Filipino homecooking were sometimes disappointed by the variation on old favorites, but to me, those very twists to the cuisine I grew up made it a novelty of an experience worth stopping by for in Manhattan.

Mang Romy and Amy usually hopped from table to table talking to their patrons whenever they could, making friends among their many loyal customers.  They cheerfully shared stories and got to know the people who trooped to their doors.  They featured artists, known and otherwise, lending their walls to showcase talent.  

Sometime after 9/11, Alan and I had talked to Mang Romy and he shared with us how the Cendrillon family agreed to cut salaries and hours to survive the scourge of those days when they were cordoned off within the so-called no man’s land, a very trying period for many establishments.           

I’d like to think of this as but a new chapter in the ever-evolving repertoire of Chef Romy Dorotan. It is heartening to know that they are building yet anothe restaurant, Purple Yam, which will be opening in Brooklyn sometime in May 2009.  The restaurant is still under construction and will be in a area where there are other similar restaurants serving a wide variety of international cuisine.  Alan and I are waiting for that opening excitedly, and looking forward to seeing our favorite restaurateurs churning out Filipino fusion cuisine once again.

Lunch hour in Bryant Park

I actually took the time to step out for lunch today — the sun was inviting and I could see the sparkling waters across Midtown outside my window.  Alas, the sun was deceiving.  It was still a chilly 50 degrees, but the mere exercise of being able to drag myself away from my desk was a feat in itself.  I think I’m going to make a habit of this now that spring is  here. 

I imagine that available tables will be scarce once it warms up.  They’ve already startred planting the flowers which makes me look forward to when they are all in bloom once again. 

It may be just a few minutes but I’ve found that taking the time to do something for myself in the middle of a busy day can be energizing in a way that pulls me through the most chaotic of days.  Call it a “pick-me-up” if you will. 

I would’ve loved to grab a book and read a chapter or two, but I’m still looking for my copy of “The Little Book,” and my English translation of “El Filibusterismo” is a little too precious to lug around in my tote.  So instead I thought I’d sit quietly, pray for some natural heat from the sun (which didn’t come), and I tried to blog.  Tried — didn’t quite get there because I lost the post midway by hitting my darned “back” button.

It’s a start.. and here’s to a week of blogging…

Staring at my dashboard

I’ve been visiting and attempting to write a post all week here but I’ve been literally doing that: Staring at my dashboard — my blog dashboard, that is.  The inspiration to write just wasn’t there.  But now it’s Friday.. and I can’t believe I haven’t written for so long.

I call it a blog rut.

With Friday here and things sort of “lightening up”, I thought I’d give it a try.  (I’m rambling.)  Trying to sort out the pictures to upload as most of the blog posts I have been hoping to write are actually connected to a picture I took.

It’s finally warm enough to wear thinner clothes, and the bare branches are beginning to show the first signs of spring.  Time flies by so fast!

Reconnecting and Feedback

I have been dilly-dallying about getting back to responding to feedback, more so when it’s “unsigned”.  I just got one to a post of many years ago mentioning a friend from college back in the 80s, Melvin Claros.  I have since reconnected with Melvin who is now on my Facebook friend list.

Meanwhile, can you believe it’s snowing again?  (And I thought we had gotten rid of it..)  So out went my favorite just-dry-cleaned fuschia pink winter coat from it’s dustjacket in the coat closet.  Thought I’d take it out to wear a few more times before Spring makes a definite come back.

I received this comment a few days ago while I was in the midst of composing the blogpost on “The Path You Choose to Take“, and just couldn’t respond,  but it is definitely worthy of publication and a reply.

Yarn Hungry Piggett wrote in reaction to my post on blogging anonymously :

How deep your Tagalog that I had to read the entry more than once!

I blog anonymously. I used to live in NYC and Manila to be fully aware that one cannot give oneself away to strangers. This is for security and privacy. These two factors ARE very important to me and especially so I can protect my family members. Others who know I blog, fully understood why I remain nameless. I don’t care what others say about not opening your whole private life to the public. And one doesn’t have to be Filipino.

Here’s one example: I had to tell a blogger friend that she did not have to tell the world her full address and her full name on her blog; nor show pictures of her actual home, even if it was meant to brag. There are numerous creeps and identity stealers who would jump for joy to steal naive people’s identities; or come to your door looking for trouble.

Yarn Hungry Piggett

p.s. I visit your site so I could reminisce about New York. I miss it so! It’s been 17 years.

There is a reason why most bloggers write behind a pseudonym.  While I have been fortunate enough to have found my readers mostly “sane” (as opposed to insane or otherwise pyschologically disturbed), you’ll never know.  I completely agree with Yarn Hungry Piggett (who, by the way, is an awesome knitter and she makes me drool with envy). 

I still can’t get the connection to blogging anonymously with being a Filipino, though, as asked by our irate reader from Brooklyn who cowardly hides behind an unsigned taunt.  Oh, and just in case people aren’t aware, even unsigned comments are encoded with an IP address which are easily trackable these days.  (Horrors!  Thank God I’m not up for spending on finding out exact addresses, but yes, it’s possible to find me knocking at your door…)

The thing is, no one is paying to read my posts.  No one is paying me to write my blog.  So if you like what you see here, I’m glad I didn’t waste your time.  If you don’t, there are millions of other bloggers, and thousands of Filipino bloggers like myself.  That I cornered the monicker “Pinay New Yorker” was a stroke of luck.. and that I have the domain name was just good business sense. 

I am glad to be able to find other fellow bloggers who are on the same page — look at that.  One bad comment which led me to write something caused someone worth reading and knowing like Yarn Hungry Piggett.  Thanks for stopping by, Ma’am.. I’ll be dropping by your corner as well.. drooling over your knitting masterpieces.

The Path You Choose to Take


“What advice can you give as I decide on whether or not to go to law school?”  It’s a question I never tire of answering because although it has been years since I asked the same question of friends who had made the same decision, I still remember how that thought weighed heavily on me.

It is different for each one of us who have gone into the pursuit of law.  Even the career paths we ended up choosing after leaving the august halls of the Ateneo were diverse.  Instead of providing my own point of view, I’ve asked a favor of three former classmates and schoolmate from a batch ahead (but who I practically grew up with from elementary to high school) from the

Of the four, two are formerly from the University of the Philippines(like the Pinay New Yorker), and like Carmela, the sole lady lawyer came from one of the more prominent family of legal eagles.  

Atty. Reggie Nolido, currently connected with Corporate Counsels Philippine Law Offices, came from the University of the Philippines where he finished a degree in Economics.  He chose to go to the Ateneo “(b)ecause Ateneo delivers quality education.”  Unlike me who had come into the decision to go into law as a future career on my own, Reggie was practically programmed by his parents to pursue law as a profession from an early age.  That didn’t mean, though, that he had his heart set on it as early as his parents were, as he admits that the idea of actually pursuing law didn’t quite grow into him until he was in college. 

When I asked him what it was that drew him to making that decision to go into law school, he says “It’s a very interesting discipline. Knowing what you can and cannot do. Understanding the logic of relationships, transactions, deals. the thrill of combat in a regulated arena. Parang sports din.”

Meanwhile, for Atty. Noli Tibayan, the lure of law school came while he was already working with the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) after college.  I have come across many classmates who had decided to go into law school after entering the work force and even when I sat for the Bar Exams, I found examinees who were old enough to be my Mom or Dad, sitting in on the same exam I was taking.  This, I think, goes to show that the realization or the decision to go to law school does not always come automatically for all of us.  Perhaps then, for those truly undecided, it bears some thinking to take pause literally and postpone law school for after some time in the real world as part of the workforce.  Some of us, like Noli, feel the call so to speak, at a later time.

“I thought people would listen to my thought more readily if I had more educational qualification. Feeling then I had enough economics which I had taken up in college, I thought of law studies — something which my mother really wanted me to do but which I rejected so much when she was hounding me to take it..,” Noli continues.  (There again figures some parental influence in the matter.)  And why Ateneo?  “(b)ecause of the Jesuits — believe it or not.”  Then again, having taken up Economics with the Jesuits, it seems an automatic choice for him to continue to pursue his legal education in the same university. 

Nowadays, Noli is part of the corporate world as HR Director for Roche in Manila.  That’s a long way from his days at the NEDA before law school, and while he isn’t actively practicing, his legal education has given him solid footing in this career path.

And there are those of us who are influenced by those moments in history which makes us stop to think about where our lives are going.  For Atty. Reagan De Guzman of the

Reagan continues “Law school was supposed to hone my skills on finding solutions to problems besetting every person every day. Law school was not simply to memorize the law but to immerse oneself on how a law is crafted and how it is to be interpreted and how it should be applied on certain situations. Law is a dynamic process. It evolves as society evolves. But sometimes, its evolution is stunted with self-interest rather than the interest of society as a whole and this is where one’s skills honed in law school will come into play.”

And why Ateneo?  That’s almost a silly question to ask of this true blue Atenean: “… because it’s the only school…… the others are just law schools…. not the Ateneo Law School…. I am biased towards Jesuit teachings and trainings… to always question everything… to have doubts… and yet to still have faith…”

Finally, this lady attorney and I practically grew up together, having gone to the same elementary and high school.  From the very start, her pursuing a law career seemed to be preordained as people saw her famous lawyer dad attend Parent-teacher conferences.  It was a face you couldn’t miss.  The famous lawyer dad and a law career for the daughter were synonymous in people’s minds.

She confided that she knew as early as Grade 1 or 2 (age 6 or 7!) that she wanted to be a lawyer.  “It was when I started hanging around my father’s law office a lot — playing and believe or not, smelling the old musty books. I liked the quiet peaceful feel of the place. It was very formal and the leather/cloth bound books looked so impressive. I liked the steady hum of the aircon, watching him work etc. I’d copy him by reading and writing whatever.”

They travelled the world over, and she tells me now that while she always wanted to be a lawyer, that decision somehow changed after one trip to Europe where she found herself thinking of going another route.  “It seems that all through my life I was destined to go to law school. Then, after high school we went on a trip to Europe. Everything changed and I suddenly wanted to take Hotel & Restaurant Management in Paris. Not going to happen. My parents, being very old fashioned, gave me 2 choices: law or medicine. So back to law.”

Like me, she went to college at the University of the Philippines to get to law school.  It seemed but a step closer to law school with the decision to pursue a legal education already firm in her mind.  “I just took up Poli Sci in college because I wanted to take it easy in my pre-law course since I knew for sure there’s no way I’m not going to take up law.”  She continues on, “Deep inside I knew if I took up law there will be more doors open to me. Private practice, politics, business, foreign service, corporate and the like.”

Her choice to go to Ateneo was partly motivated, though, by the very factors that led her to choose a career in law in the beginning — her father’s stature.  “I was in UP College during the EDSA revolution. You can imagine my student life in UP Poli Sci – with my father’s position, political ties etc etc. One professor would require us to join rallies. So of course I joined – he liked that a lot and I got a good grade. I thought Ateneo would be more peaceful, reasonable, less politicized. Wrong. It does not matter where you go. Its all crazy reading, studying everyday. You have to like it or else you will not see the point of studying all that. If its money you’re after – go into business!”

They chose the paths that have led them to where they are right now, each molded by circumstances peculiar to each one.  In the end, the answer lies within — it’s a choice you have to make not for anyone or anything else but yourself.   The challenge of pursuing one’s dream is to see it through.  And when your journey is ended, you can always choose to take another path.  Going to law school does not mean entering the litigation arena.  There are those of us who use what we have learned in other ways, or choose not to use it at all.

I’d like to think like Reggie, Noli, Reagan and my former classmate did: that it opened doors, that there were better opportunities, and in the end, that we realized we really did it for ourselves after all.  And that’s a good rule of thumb — do it because you want it for yourself, and no matter where you end up, you’ll be able to live with your choice.  Whether you successfully finish the course, pass the Bar Examinations or just decide in the middle of it all that it wasn’t your cup of tea, you can live with the decision and reap the success or face your failure head on knowing you did it because you wanted to.
Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

Jollibee in the New York Times

While some may think it’s overrated — and part of me will agree with writer Matt Gross that their burgers can be aptly described as “forgettable” in the land of burgers and fries in every form, size and shape that New York is, I must say his description of my favorite Spaghetti (Jollibee style) was on point: “frighteningly addictive.” 

Check out the full article Jollibee Brings a Filipino Addiction to Queens” which appeared in the March 11, 2009 edition of the New York Times.



"I don't deserve this" — Franz Pantaleon

The following article was reprinted with permission from 
Rachel Lee E. Pantaleon and Franz Pantaleon

This is the story of how a benign check-up led to a month-long hospitalization replete with tests and in the final diagnosis…a malignant tumor. This is the plight of our 18-year old son, Franz Felix E. Pantaleon, who has been diagnosed with Extra-Skeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Franz is the eldest of three boys and a college freshman taking up Advertising Management. He is into photography, computer software and gaming, badminton, reading (Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels), writing, cooking Chinese and Japanese dishes, Rubik’s cube and other puzzles, as well as, the obligatory chores.

In the last quarter of 2008, Franz complained on and off of pain on his left flank side, which disappeared when he would take pain-relievers. In November 2008, he urinated with blood once but routine urinalysis was normal and a doctor friend said he probably passed stone; we thought nothing more of it. In early December of the same year we brought him to the pediatrician for a check-up but she did not detect anything and attributed the pain to muscle strain. In January of this year, Franz complained of pain on his right flank side followed by several instances of bloody urine, we brought him to a nephrologist for check-up that same week. An ultrasound of his abdomen revealed a large tumor inside his left kidney, which warranted a nephrectomy or the removal of said kidney.

From January 19, 2009 to February 1, 2009, Franz was confined in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) under the care of a urologist, nephrologist, and an oncologist. During this time he underwent a series of blood tests, ultrasound, and CT-scans. The first time, a nephrectomy was scheduled but was postponed when involvement of the heart was suspected. A thoracic cardio-vascular surgeon was called in and he spoke to us of the possible need for open-heart surgery on top of the nephrectomy. The second time around the scheduled major, major surgery was cancelled. After careful deliberation the expert doctors decided that the risks of surgery far outweighed its benefits, and instead suggested a new drug that targeted renal cells that may or may not shrink the tumor. Even in the absence of a biopsy, we were willing to give it a shot.

Finally, a biopsy of the tumor was done, this in itself resulted to some complications for Franz when blood clots formed in his urinary bladder and he was catheterized and later on underwent emergency cystoscopy for clot evacuation. After two harrowing weeks capped by a blood transfusion, we were discharged while awaiting the result of the biopsy.

Only three days after our discharge, Franz came down with a high fever and difficulty breathing, this coincided with the release of the biopsy result that suggested lymphoma and called for a confirmatory test. Based on the inconclusive result, the new drug was stopped because it was not what he needed. On February 5, 2009, Franz was once again confined in PGH to address his fever and to prepare his healthy kidney to handle possible chemotherapy. The diagnosis of lymphoma was not confirmed and additional tests from National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) needed to be done to determine the diagnosis. A week after his second admission the histopathology result from NKTI came out determining that Franz has Extra-Skeletal Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Without wasting any more time, a Power Port was surgically inserted in Franz’s chest below the right collarbone. Connected directly to his jugular vein, this allowed easy and safe access each time the healing drugs would course through his veins. A couple of days later he received the 1st course in cycle 1 of his chemotherapy. He still has a long way to go in terms of treatment. In his behalf, we have filed for his Leave of Absence from the university while he undergoes medical treatment. Thankfully, his bone scan shows no evidence of metastasis in the bone and we are waiting for the result of the bone marrow aspiration. His care and treatment have been handed over to a pediatric oncologist and she has discussed with us the protocol for Franz’s treatment.

Through all that he has been through, Franz’s faith remains strong. Even as he endured one test after another while doctors tried to determine his illness his belief in God never wavered. “When I pray, I pray that the doctors would find the answers and that God would see me through this. I never doubted that I would be okay.” In fact, visitors in the hospital and doctors alike are amazed at how well he looks – just like any ordinary teen-ager. As Franz likes to say, “Just because I have an illness doesn’t mean I’m sick.”

Since relatives and friends have learned of Franz’s medical condition, the outpouring of prayers, masses, and novenas from different parts of the country and even abroad from as far away as the U.S, Rome, and Indonesia has been overwhelming. Upon hearing of Franz’s desire to go to Disneyland, relatives have pledged an all-expense paid trip to Hong Kong, which he is very much looking forward to. Innumerable acts of kindness have rained on Franz and our family with no act too small to go unnoticed. People close to us, as well as others, who are mere acquaintances, have dug deep into their pockets and given generously from their hearts of their own volition.

When Franz said, “I don’t deserve this,” I thought he meant the disease – that he doesn’t deserve to be sick with cancer. When I probed about what he meant he said, “I don’t deserve all the blessings.”

It is our deepest, greatest hope that with your fervent prayers and help in any form, we may continue Franz’s medical treatment and set him on the road to complete healing and recovery.

Those interested to help can contact Rachel Pantaleon at

Paypal Donations are accepted, and bank information will be provided upon request for those who wish to make a deposit in Manila.

Members of Facebook may wish to join the group FOR FRANZ PANTALEON.  This is an open group and everyone is welcome to join.


*Rock for a Reason*

RockEd, an organization that uses the rock music community to support various causes and advocacies, has generously agreed to help Franz by setting up a fundraising gig at SaGuijo on March 26, 2009 (Thursday).

You’re all invited, and do bring as many friends as you’d like – anyone can come and enjoy the music! It’ll be a fun night, with several popular bands in the lineup.

For those who haven’t been there, SaGuijo is a bar in Makati where some of the country’s top bands play.

Entrance fee is P150, which includes 1 local beer. 50% of that will go towards Franz’s medical bills. We’ll also be collecting donations there, so if you’d like to give more than the entrance fee, it would be very much appreciated.

Directions to SaGuijo: From EDSA, take Buendia, then turn right on Pasong Tamo. Turn right on Bagtikan, then take the first left into Guijo St. SaGuijo is on the right, you can’t miss it.

Band Lineup:

South Super Highway
Juan Lunar


Ted Reyes is organizing a benefit concert for Franz on May 29, 2009 (Saturday) at Fontana’s in New York City.

8 PM – 2 AM

Line-up of artists to be finalized.

"Is it alright to blog anonymously, especially if you claim you are Filipino?"

I’ve been down this road before so I know better than to stoop down but someone’s spreading some bad vibes leaving an unsigned comment, expressing an opinion.  Again, no working e-mail or URL to track back to means you don’t get published.

Such anger.. I wonder what blogging anonymously has got to do with being a Filipino..  Well, I wouldn’t really know because I am not blogging anonymously.  Those who have read my posts will know who I am, and practically my life story, complete with an e-mail to reach me at.  But then again, what’s the connection to being Filipino?

Nakakalungkot isipin na may mga nagbabasa ng akda ng iba na walang takot humusga, gayong sila mismo ay nagtatago sa likod ng kuro-kuro na ayaw nilang angkinin at bigyan ng katauhan.  Gayunpaman, ako’y nagpapasalamat at pinag-aksayahan ng panahon ng sumulat na iwanan ako ng kanyang saloobin kahit pa animo’y may bahid ng pang-aalipusta at pantutuya ang kanyang tugon.

Mula pa sa simula, paulit-ulit kong ipinagsisigawan na ang aking pagsulat dito ay tunay na personal at wala akong hangad na kumita o magpasaya o di kaya’y humikayat ng iba na angkinin ang aking saloobin at mga haka-haka.  Kung mayroon mang mga nakakita ng dapat ikatuwa o may napulot na aral sa aking mga sinulat, ito ay aking ikinagagalak.

Salamat pa rin sa pag-iwan ng iyong mga katanungan na sa kasamaang palad ay hindi karapat-dapat patulan.  Kung may tiyaga kang basahin ang mga naisulat ko nitong nakaraang halos limang taon, makikita mo ang kasagutan sa lahat ng iyong mga tanong — pati ang pangalan ko.  (Sorry, Pat.)