31 October 2009

Life's a bowl of laughs with Ronnie Alejandro

"E." tried his hand at making "arroz a la cubana".  This was my family's staple every Sunday after going to church.   My mom, who has never been in the kitchen or boiled water, boldly announces, that the secret in the plantain is that it should be over ripe!  Your secret's safe with us.  Mum's the word.


"E." found the recipe in a book by Reynaldo Alejandro, "Authentic Recipes from the Philippines". He, personally, gave the book to "E." and me, with the inscription, "Bon Appetit!" 

I found Tito Ronnie in New York  in the mid-90's.  I called him Tito Ronnie not because he is one of those random people you address as "Tito" just to be polite, but because there is the Ferriols blood that runs between our veins.  Our forefathers were from Valencia, Spain and we have an insignia to prove our binding blue blood.  He invited me to dinner in his apartment on Bleecker Street and my life was never the same.  

He once dragged me to a fashion show in one of the public libraries of New York.  In a heartbeat, he introduced me to the organizers as the lighting technician for the show, on the spot! My jaw dropped but New York has a way of making one fearless and infallible.  And there I was, with all the lighting switches, acting like a pro.  I had no idea what the clothes were like so I kept adjusting the lights as the models would come down the runway, strutting their stuff.  I hope I did not give the more mature audience a headache when I saw them staggering to the exit, waiting to exhale under a steadier afternoon light. 

Or when I once bumped into him at St. Patrick's Cathedral after work before night set in.  He took me firmly by the elbow and we walked to the Philippine Center on 5th Avenue, where he again, jumped the gun, and introduced me as the distinguished "guest of honor".  I was treated with great importance, a tiny bouquet of lovely fall flowers pinned to my jacket, and, quickly, handed a pair of scissors to cut the ribbon to a floral exhibit. Expect the unexpected with Tito Ronnie!


I miss him.  His recipes and books on all things Filipiniana will forever keep his memory alive.  Rest in peace, Tito. He's probably working up a feast in heaven.  Please don't forget to reserve the best seat in the house for my Papi.  

Happy All Saint's day!  Behave, the two of you!  Bon appetite!

Mrs. Bee goes bargain hunting!

Bargain hunting is a sport I try to indulge in every once in awhile.  I was wide eyed enough to start an early morning trip to sashay my hips down Evangelista street and the little side streets of generals: Hizon, Garcia, Lacuna et al.   I was accompanied by my sister, who is a busy lawyer and on leave.  Her day off  was not without official  interruptions  by text messages and phone calls.  But that didn't stop us from having a great time, vocalizing when the prices were a bit steep (aaaa...several octaves higher than normal), a few crazy laughs and getting the best deals in town! 

Here are a few of our favorite finds: 

picture-perfect: all together in one shot

 exotic and intricate                                              (close-up)

copper kitchen wares

copper fruits

"The Simpsons" chessboard with plastic chess pieces

picture frames made in the U.S.A.

a ceramic handpainted dish from Italy

 a ram made of Chinese coins

halloween designs on melamine plates from "pottery barn kids"

A bewitching happy halloween to you all!


Mrs. Bee's Sidebar:   On several separate occasions, these were my finds:

arte Espanol blue glass candelabra

shabby chic tablestand clock

country chic hanging clock

a white vanity table with chair

Trust me. Whoever says he doesn't love a bargain, is lying!

26 October 2009

Passion's defining moment mounted on walls and sealed in stone

Je suis une artiste but when I attend a gallery show or a museum opening, I leave everything I know about making art at the door. I scurry along (oh my, is it too early to be revealing secrets?) in search for a secret ingredient.  Suffice it to say, I am polite and generous with my oohs and aaahs.   It is sincere and heartfelt because I understand what it is like to  labour in the studio, months on end.  It is a feat in itself to finish a body of work despite the day to day agony and ecstasy.  To constantly worry about composition, harmony and balance while juggling brushes, a palette and a frame of mind, or other tools of the trade, can be physically and mentally painful and tedious.   

But this much I can say, I know PASSION when I see it.  It met me at the door and escorted me through two separate exhibition spaces at my own giddy pace. PASSION, bold and in all caps! Passion is the secret ingredient that brings the work to life!  It's what makes a Van Gogh, a Van Gogh! It was overwhelmingly spread all over the large scale oeuvres. It couldn't contain itself, bouncing off the walls and the floor.  Art is alive and breathing! 

Gentlemen of Philippine art, take a bow!  Bravo and well done, Anthony Palomo and Joel Alonday!  


Anthony Palomo's passion is a page turner in the children's book, "Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas", published by CANVAS and written by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz.  Currently ongoing at the ArtistSpace in the Ayala Museum, while

passion in Joel Alonday's sculptural pieces, is sealed in stone, at Art Informal:


25 October 2009

Mrs. Bee finds a slice of India waiting on the kitchen table

"E." decided to whisk up some magic in the kitchen.  He grabbed an Indian chicken curry recipe from the internet.  

My two cents worth:  Forget the sugar.  A ghost's advice:  To roast the curry powder first on a dry pan before adding the olive oil and following the directions.

Surprisingly, "E." found all the ingredients in our local grocery, Cherry Foodarama in Mandaluyong, including the fresh flowers for our tablesetting.  We used Sinandomeng rice to accompany this fit-for-a-king dish.

If these pictures have whet your appetite, then here's the recipe! Your home will be filled with the aroma of flavours and spices that I'd like to dream, is all about India!

Bon appetite!

Indian Chicken Curry II
recipe image

Submitted By: Amanda Fetters
Photo Bychibi chef
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Ready In: 45 Minutes
Servings: 4
"This is an adaptation of yellow chicken curry from India. The aromas and flavors are a delight to the senses! It is best served with fresh Naan bread and Jasmine or Basmati rice."
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
salt to taste
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves -
cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned. Stir in garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sugar and salt. Continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
2.Remove bay leaf, and stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer 5 more minutes.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2009 Allrecipes.com
Printed from Allrecipes.com 10/25/2009

22 October 2009

Mrs. Bee goes rest-o-hopping!

Suzhou Dimsum
837 a. mabini street, corner araullo st., mandaluyong city

Delivery Numbers!!! 02.721.6105/02.717.1153
Minimum order worth P 250.00

We were five, we were famished and we ordered:

1 order Special Xiao Long Pao                      90.00
1 order Stir Fried Noodle with pork            130.00 x 2
1 order steamed beef in garlic                    240.00
1 order Pork and Veggies fried rice            120.00 x 2
1 order crispy fried chicken (half)               190.00
1 order steamed king fish                           350.00

   Mrs. Bee screams: Ni hao ma---milicious!  

19 October 2009

Mrs. Bee's Rate O'Meter: Tell me this is what growing old is all about!

"Elsa and Fred"
 (2005) is a romantic comedy with two septuagenarians as subjects of an ill-fated love affair.  It begins with a lot of movement (Fred, recently a widower, is moving to a new apartment and    Elsa, who lives in the same building, runs into a car while backing up her car), a lot of bickering (his daughter is abrasive and high strung) and constant talking (Elsa is a talker with a wild imagination)!   Elsa and Fred are characters waiting for death at their doorstep but somehow manage to "fall in love" despite Fred's bent towards living an orderly life and Elsa's devil may care attitude about everything!  

One delicious scene is when they spiffy up to eat at a fancy restaurant.  Attention is drawn to the luxurious and extravagant high-ceilinged interiors and our old lovely couple barely sitting upright in chairs that seem to be sturdier than their ageing bodies. The meal begins with steak and ends with dessert, which causes Fred to complain that steak is bad for his uric acid and the mouth-watering dessert has too much cholesterol.  Elsa convinces him not only to live life to the fullest but in that same line of thinking, when the bill arrives with an amount much to their consternation, to leave the table at the count of 3 and the bill, unsettled!  Fred is aghast but at "3", our two lovers, wobbly in the knees, manage to escape and she drives them off quickly away from the scene of the crime.    They run out of gas in the middle of the road and their getaway, when they realize a police car is at their tail.  Fred is close to having a heart attack but the police car passes them by.  They look at each other.  Elsa is holding back a giggle, assessing the situtation.  Fred is upset, they exchange words and Fred points at her acknowledging she is---"loka, loka!...and demands to be brought to the hospital.  At the hospital, when the doctor says Fred is ok and Elsa is about ready to tiptoe out of the room thinking that the possibility of their life together is doomed, Fred orders her sternly to wait for him to take him home.  After a few serious looking seconds, Fred, suddenly, bursts into a fit of uncontrollable laughter and so does Elsa.  Oh, to be in love and loko-loko about it!

But, wait, there's more.  Elsa's ultimate dream is to re-enact Fellini's  "La Dolce Vita" at the Fontana di Trevi.  Fred helps her realize this long running ambition and it is one of the most    tender scenes played out  from the minute they arrive in Rome to that perfect cinematic dramatic moment.  The director, Marcos Carnevale, seems to be paying hommage to a great Master filmmaker, Fellini.
LIfe is beautiful, even with death just waiting round the bend, with Ms. China Zorrilla lighting up the big screen against Manuel Alexandre's subdued and well thought out acting.  It enlightens without being didactic that love that comes with wisdom and age is not about playing  games, or that inconsequential lies should be a basis for running out on a relationship, but about being in the moment with that person and loving every minute of it.  

18 October 2009

Mrs. Bee Makes a Mean Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Where I'm from, rice is a meal staple.  But sometimes when I'm too absorbed with what I'm doing (napping for instance or blogging) or "E." isn't into experimenting in the kitchen, bread will have to do.  

I look in the kitchen cupboard and fridge to see what I can, easily, whip together.  Aaah, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  Off we go!

Olive oil (not the extra virgin because we're going to grill this over fire and extra virgin burns easily), Japanese mayonnaise, wheat bread, Purefoods sweet ham and emmental cheese

Mrs. Bee's Sidebar: Dijon mustard (optional).  I like Dijon mustard better with  stronger tasting meat like pepper salami or pastrami.  

Lightly brush one side of the wheat bread with olive oil.  Flip over.
Spread Japanese mayonnaise on the dry sides, and pile the ham and the cheese and make the two slices of wheat bread meet.

Preheat the non-stick pan over medium heat.  Then grill the side that has the olive oil.


Flatten the sandwich with something heavy.  In this case, I use the bottom of the rice cooker and a little bit of my weight.

Flip over to do the other side.  And repeat, flattening it with the bottom of the rice cooker.

Et voila, a sandwich grilled to perfection!  Seriously,  who needs a panini maker?  

Transfer from pan to a pretty plate.  Slice it, diagonally.  Serve while piping hot and cheese oozing out of the bread!  Served best with chilled San Miguel light beer and interesting conversation.

Bon appetite!

15 October 2009

Two paintings, with a shared history, come home

"Anak ng Bantay" was one of my earliest works.  I was "unschooled" and ambitious in my undertaking as an artist.  I bravely knocked on the doors of Penguin Cafe and left my portfolio under the name of "Sayong", my maternal grandmother's nickname.   This was the rainy season of '92 and on a bright sunshiny afternoon a couple of days later, I got a call that sealed the deal.  My Tita bought it on opening night.  The show was sold out!  Papi was convinced.  He sent me off to New York with his blessings, his generosity: 100% financial support, and his favorite line: "be good".   
                             ("Papi and I in the farm", photograph by Nico Sepe) 
The little boy, staring directly at the viewer amidst a flowery background, is the caretaker's son   , Jeherson. Born in the farm, he was our family's "first" little bundle of joy.   He took to us and we to him like fish to water.   I cannot talk about "Jersey" without talking about his mother who served us well.  She was a bony woman---reed thin, plain looking, a little deaf and would speak at the top of her shrilly voice.  She was our childhood help who would put on my socks and shoes every morning without waking me up.  She would stealthily come in, without turning on the lights, and move quietly about.  After me, she would move on to my sister's side and do the same.  She was sweet that way to afford us more time to sleep.    And, was she ever so loyal!  When my brother left for America, he had instructed her to turn on the lights of his room every night.  My parents were perplexed why those lights were on every night until my father caught her and she, without apologies, explained that was her vow to my brother.  She was that kind of a woman, brave enough to speak her mind to my father.

When "Jersey" learned how to walk, he would come jog with me and we would sing, "Twinkle, twinkle little star...", he in his thick Visayan accent he got his from his mother and me, with my American twang.  This was our little ritual every afternoon when I was in the farm.  I would return him to his mother before the sun would set to sleep in her gentle embrace.    My little breathing toy, my little joy.  He would cry buckets of tears when he and his mother would take me to the car.  I'd give him a tight squeeze, kisses on both cheeks, and throw him a thousand more flying kisses as the car would drive away.  His wailing would always break my heart.  

The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo changed our familial landscape.  I fled to New York
tchase my dream.   
                                (photograph by Primo, New York 1994)       

The volcano's ashes were too much for our caretaker.   She fled, too, with her husband and her brood---three boys, to seek greener pastures.  But before she had the energy to do that, she had time to wait for another artist to walk into the farm to paint her son.  That was "E.".  After the ashes settled   down, my brother (with my father's generosity in funding) put up a Center for the arts

 to      train fisherfolk children to play the violin.  The Center had a visual arm and "E." was one of its chosen artist-in-residence.  "E.'s" residency coincided with a theater group so my brother housed him in our parent's home.

How "perfectly convenient" for "E." because all this time he had harboured a secret "thang" for me.  Being in our home meant being closer to me despite my absence.  My parents would arrive on the weekends.  Sometimes my mom would have my letter from New York in her bag and if there were pictures, she would show them to "E." and ask him how he thought my progress was.   "E." was later to reveal that this was simply "heaven" to him.  He waited for me, patiently.  "Not so patiently", I argue, "because you had a girlfriend!"  "But that doesn't deny the fact", he insists, "that I secretly longed for you."   

Two months ago, while setting up  a mini-retro at the Ayala Museum, my cousin texted me to drop by because her mom, Tita Nena Olivares, wanted to give

   "Anak ng Bantay" back to me as a gift.  I was dancing on air.  "Jersey" was coming home!  And right around that same time frame, too, my brother decided it was time to, finally, give up "Pangarap", ("E.'s" painting of Jeherson that was in the Center's collection),  to raise funds for his own personal dreams at the Center.  I quickly jumped at the chance and offered to buy it.  My brother, who was also secretly in favor of "E." for me from the moment he saw us alight from a tricycle after a four hour "getting to know you sort of" bus trip from Manila to Zambales, agreed.  I'd like to think he knew, in his heart of hearts, "Pangarap" was about "us".  

  "Pangarap" describes a little boy sitting on a rocking  chair holding a helicopter, with a gaze far away and tragically, hopeful.  After "E.'s" revelation of his secret motivation to stay at the Center (he stayed on to teach art in the Center's regular program while pining for me), I found new meaning in the painting.  I see this little boy as "E." waiting for me to come home.  It is sentimental and endearing.   

"Anak ng Bantay" and "Pangarap" are our separate stories entwined.  Two paintings, one subject, separated by time and space, come home to fill the walls with "Jeherson's

                          (photograph by Rico Quimbo)

gaze that cannot be denied as one longing to find a place in this world and a reason to exist.

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