Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Chicken that Sent Me Down Memory Lane

One of my most vivid childhood memories is going to Sta. Cruz Church for mass every Sunday, lunch at Savory near the church (I think), then Fort Santiago in the afternoon.

Somewhere along the way, this ritual stopped and it has been more than ten years since my last Savory experience. Truth be told, I forgot how the food tastes like.

While doing our usual grocery at SM City, Mamu saw a Savory in front of SM Hypermart, she told me “Let’s have lunch here.”

As soon as we sat down I saw a black and white photograph of an old Savory hanging in the wall. I think this was their first branch. I stared at it long enough to realize that this is exactly how the Savory where we used to go looked like. I asked Mamu, “Dyan ba tao kumakain dati?” She smiled and said “You still remember?”

After taking our order, the waitress came back and put a glass of hot water with spoons and fork at the side of our table. The nonchalant way she did it was very old school panciteria.

We ordered Savory Chicken, Yang Chow Rice and Crispy Shrimp Puff, their version of Camaron Rebosado.

The rice and chicken arrived first. The chicken, supposedly their specialty looked a little simple, too simple in fact that I wondered why Mamu, who isn't so fond of chicken insisted that we have this.

It was way after lunch and I was famished by this time so I gobbled up a few spoons full of rice first. I took a piece of chicken and as soon as I bite into it I was transported back to my childhood days. It tasted so familiar, from the crispy skin to the tender meat and that particular taste that only Savory Chicken has. Memories of our Sunday lunch came flooding in. I told Mamu between mouthfuls, "I remember this chicken and it still tastes great!"

Then the shrimp arrived. It was a letdown and quite different from what Mamu and I expected. Mamu said there was too much batter that she hardly tasted the shrimp. Dipped in the sweet and sour sauce it tasted better and goes well with the fried rice. I enjoyed it better at home, when the puff isn't as crispy and a little limp (yeah, it was too much food for two people that we had to bring our tira home).

All in all it was a good lunch that sent me spinning down memory lane. I would definitely come back for the chicken. I’m not sure though if they use MSG but both Mamu and I were down with migraine that night.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Berks Overload

Sunday mornings are usually spent with Mamu’s Berks (a group of friends form our Subdivision whose ages are approximately 40 and over, emphasis on over). After the 7 a.m. mass at the chapel, we have breakfast at the Study Hall then proceed to Bible Study (which turns one year this August). At 10 a.m. Bible study adjourns and that’s usually the last I see of the Berks for the week.

But for the past two weeks, I’ve been spending more time with them.

Dra. Lulut, our bible study facilitator wanted to ensure participation from the whole class, she wanted us to do a group report. So she divided us into groups and assigned each group with five chapters from the Book of Numbers. I was grouped with Mamu, Ate Mhady, Ate Vicky, Ate Encar and Ate Net. Our assignment is Chapters 11-15.

Someone suggested a powerpoint presentation. Being the most “techie” (my knowlege is pretty basic at best) in the group, Mamu assigned me to make the powerpoint (like I had a choice).

When I showed Mamu what I did, she looked disappointed and told me “Gusto ko yung lumilipad-lipad. Translated to: she wanted more animation. So it took me two days to finish a really simple presentation. But I got rewarded with a movie and a box of silvanas!

After that we had to meet regularly to discuss our report. I use the term discuss loosely because 50% of the time they just made chika. Fortunately or unfortunately (for me especially), we were not able to report because the previous group’s discussion went on overtime.

Then last Wednesday, Mamu received a text from Ate Ethyl inviting her (and me) for merienda at Razon’s, Techno Hub. Her daughter passed the Dentistry board exams and as a sort of thanksgiving she wanted to treat everyone.

I didn’t have anything better to do so I decided to go.

They ordered the usual, Halo-halo and Pancit Luglug which is good, as always. Halfway through my halo-halo, the usual round of chikahan started. This time it was more serious, things they feared, things that made them unhappy, people that caused them pain, etc. Think of it as an angst ridden discussion among the fifty-somethings. It was amusing at first, but as it was angst, talks went on to heavier and sadder things. So heavy in fact, I felt like a kid lost in an adult conversation. It was awkward at best. So awkward in fact, by the time I was done with my halo-halo, I hurriedly excused myself to check out National Bookstore (thank goodness it was already open).

Thankfully, by the time I came back they were already laughing.

On the way home, my groupmates proposed that we have another meeting that afternoon to “rehearse” our report. I just smiled at this suggestion. But when I got home I told Mamu “Don’t you think we had enough meetings na? We had more meetings than any of my groups in MBA!” To which Mamu typically replied “Hayaan mo na.” I just rolled my eyes in reply.

Of course, half of our “rehearsal” was their usual chikahan. This time it revolved around the what they talked about at Razon’s. Gosh, I thought was spared from the blow by blow earlier but here I was listening helplessly to the summary!

So when Mamu invited me to join her to another event at the Church with the incentive “They’ll be serving dinner. You don’t have to cook.” I said flat out "No. Thanks."

I would gladly sit this one out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Senior Citizens at the Movies

Most of my friends have seen Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on its opening weekend. Blame it on my lack of foresight, I didn’t make reservations earlier and by July 15, it was close to impossible to find tickets.

Being a Harry Potter fan and having read all the books more than twice (this is really is an understatement) I badly wanted to watch the movie. This dilemma just left me with two options: one, watch the movie alone and two, watch the movie with Mamu.

Mamu doesn’t know anything about Harry Potter, as in nada, so it's practically like watching the movie alone. Plus, she has this habit of sleeping halfway through the movie, any movie (even the ones shown on TV) for that matter. But she told me that she has this senior citizen privilege of watching movies for free on Mondays and Tuesdays but only be for the first full show.

I figured with her senior citizen privilege it’s not so bad even if she sleeps throughout the movie, at least I have company. She dozed off after 15 minutes and I had to nudge her a couple of times.

Our total bill for the movie is 160.25 pesos, 160 for me and 25 centavos (I guess for the taxes) for Mamu.

We entered the theater at 12:55, it was almost deserted except for a sprinkling of a few white haired movie goers.

At the comfort room, 90% of the ladies are of Mamu’s age or older. I haven’t seen this large a gathering of old people in one place, at least not in a mall. I even told Mamu that maybe she should get to know a couple of these ladies so that she would have her own set of movie going friends. They can get together every Mondays or Tuesdays!

After the movie, which I enjoyed by the way, especially the Christmas attack on the Burrow because that scene wasn’t in the book, I asked Mamu if she understood the movie. She said “No!” and asked me why was everyone in the movie flying. I patiently explained that the movie was about witches and wizards and the term flying applies only when their on broomsticks, otherwise the proper term for it is “apparate” and “disapparate.

Patience though, in this case, is not a virtue, because after telling her all I know about Harry Potter, she looked at me and said “I still don’t get it.”

Movie poster is courtesy of

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rediscovering Good Ole' UST

It started with an update on Henry’s Facebook wall. A few hours and half a dozen comments later we had a plan. What started out as a lunch date at Almer’s snowballed into a full blown sightseeing of the whole UST campus.

I grew up in the University of Santo Tomas campus, having graduated from elementary, high school and college there. It was my second home for close to fifteen years. And to this day, I still know all the hymns (high school, graduation song and the official UST Hymn) by heart. I say this with so much confidence, I know every nook and cranny of that place.

That’s what I thought.

As soon as I entered the Espana gate, I knew this wasn’t my UST. Well, I haven’t been back for more than five years and so much has changed!

Henry was late (again) so I decided to explore all by my lonesome self.

My first stop was the old Elementary School because if talks are to be believed, I think this is the last year that UST will be offering elementary classes. I remember one of my friends telling me “wala na tayong alma mater”. It's really sad.

On my way there, I passed by rows and rows of food stalls in what used to be the parking lot in front of the UST Hospital.

There’s even a Mc Donald’s and a KFC outlet!

Seeing the Elementary School Building brought back a lot of happy childhood memories. It still looks the same except for the pavilions and the high fences, which looked higher than I remember. This used to be the venue of late afternoon "habulan", chinese garter, piko and volleyball games.

To complete my childhood tour, I went to see the old playground which is now dominated by a basketball court. The swings, see-saws, slides and other equipment were sadly pushed to the side.

The old Sports Complex cafeteria where I first discovered tacos (the soggy and stuffed with overipe tomatoes variety) is now gone and replaced by more food stalls.

I checked out the hospital canteen to see if they still offer my favorite chocolate cookies, which was sold only in UST, the name of which escapes me now (it was wrapped in clear plastic and had a red and yellow logo) and ube balls (or was it ube pastillas?) which we simply called “ube”. But unfortunately, they don’t sell it anymore.

Next stop was the UST Field and Grandstand which still looked the same, if not better, except for the cardboard cutout of what looked like the main building at the back of the Grandstand. I don’t have any idea of what it’s used for but honestly, it borders on tacky.

The façade of the Chapel still looks the same. Inside though, the altar had undergone a major renovation.

Walking towards P. Noval, which used to be my route home, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lopez Canteen is still there.

UST High School still looked the same except for the walkway and the yellow HS logo.

The façade of the Central Library changed remarkably. There is now a building in front of the library that houses most of the university’s student organizations. I wonder what happened to the three statues that used to stand “guard” in front of the Central Library.

Colayco park is now gone and so is the statue of Manuel Colayco, the first casualty of World War II (I can’t believe I still remember my UST history!) and replaced by a fountain which wasn’t working when I went there. Notice the pattern of disappearing statues?

The AB Building (or is it still Commerce Building) still looks the same, badly in need of a major paint job.

Finally Henry arrived (hungry and without his camera) so we headed off to Almer’s . They serve sizzling beef, chicken, spareribs, sisig, etc. with bottomless gravy. One of our favorite places to eat next to Janet’s, which is gone now.

The original Almer’s Canteen burned down during my junior year (in college). It’s now under new management and has a new location (I forgot the name of the street).

I ordered T-Bone, which is a new offering and Henry opted for his old time favorite, Sizzling Spareribs.

The gravy, still bottomless, tasted the same and evoked a a lot of blue and white (our official college color) memories.

A visit to UST wouldn’t be complete without going to the Main Building. I’m so glad they closed off the "side" streets, got rid of the fences and opened up the walkway. By the way, parking in front of the grand old building is no longer allowed. The main building now looks “bigger” and more majestic. It looks like a medieval castle and the walkway looks like a grand old courtyard. For more pictures please check out Roadtrips with Mamu on Facebook or click to the Facebook link on the lower right screen.

Too bad Henry and I both have to be somewhere after lunch. But we promised ourselves that this homecoming of sorts would have a part two.