Monday, August 25, 2008

Conspiracy Theory: 25 Years After Ninoy Aquino's Assassination

Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world.

I am particularly moved by these words of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge during the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics which was aired yesterday. China has proved worthy of being host to the Olympics. They have been hounded with so much issues in the past, I hope the rest of the world sees China beyond its form of government. Undeniably, that was just a showcase of things to come, while other nations have to face that reality.

But what glued me on television last night was “Beyond Conspiracy: 25 Years After the Aquino Assassination” featured on abs-cbn by Foundation for Worldwide People Power (FWWPP). It reaches out to who are eager to know more about Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.*, his assassination, what happened afterwards, and who were the likely masterminds.

With so much written about it in the past, I've never bothered to read the news. I am as guilty as anyone else who have taken for granted what actually transpired. I was surprised to learn a lot more details behind his death. The documentary was very bold in implicating the possible masterminds and the conspiracy within the military. I never knew Marcos acknowledged Ninoy to be his best successor. I never knew Galman was really a fall guy, I thought he got away with murder. I never knew the person who shot him was his escort from behind, the angle of the gun shot wound proved it. I never knew about General Custodio and Ninoy's cousin-in-law Danding Cojuanco were implicated alongside the Marcoses and General Ver.

In the documentary, Ms Tina Monzon Palma, the onscreen presenter said:

“We’ve looked at motive, means and opportunity and have come up with a partial solution to the puzzle. We must now put the last piece in place by probing who had the ability—and the gall—to cover up the dastardly crime in full view of the entire world.”

“The temerity to kill the political opposition’s most charismatic leader in the middle of an international airport in broad daylight—and to telegraph veiled threats of these vile intentions weeks and months before—pushed the limits of Filipino sensibilities … the plotters must have calculated that, given some time to let off steam, Filipinos would soon file away the Aquino assassination in some dark corner where they store unpleasant memories that can be promptly forgotten.”

For those who missed it, watch the full-length 80-minute documentary here and see for yourself this conspiracy theory.

August 21 marks the anniversary of assassination of former Senator *Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. Returning to the Philippines after three years of self-imposed exile, Aquino was shot in the head and killed on August 21, 1983 as he was escorted off an airplane by soldiers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Aquino was a staunch opponent of then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino's death sparked anti-Marcos sentiment that led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where to Buy the Best Lechon de Cebu?

Lechón (Tagalog: Litson and Cebuano: Inasal) is the Spanish word for suckling pig. In the Philippines, it connotes a whole roasted pig, lechón baboy. Chicken and beef are also popular. The process of lechón involves the whole pig/piglet, chicken, or cattle/calf being slowly roasted over charcoal.

The pig had always been the center of communal feasts in pre-Hispanic Philippines, and "Lechon" is the normal manner it is prepared.

Undeniably, Cebu's Lechon is the best in the country. It is tasty as it is, there's no need for any savory dip to go with it. Ask for Mang Tomas (liver sauce) and Cebuano's will stare at you and laugh.

Cebu's lechon baboy is whole black native (free range) pig roasted over charcoal, skewed in bamboo, stuffed with herbs and spices like lemongrass locally known as "tanglad", salt (injected into the meat), pepper corn and more, then baste with either milk or soda or coconut water to keep the skin crispy.

I once saw how it is prepared, it's never a pleasant sight. Hot water is poured onto live pig to shed its hair and the rest is history. I've entered the roasting station of CNT Lechon, it is impressive to see several lines of mechanical rotisserie. That should make the cooking even, not to mention efficient.

We normally forewarn foreign guests, other nationalities especially from the west, find it barbaric to see a whole pig served on the table. But Chinese and Filipinos just love EVERY part of it, right? I feast on the belly and the skin, most on the ribs, some even rave about the tail, the tongue, the ears, the dinuguan (pork blood stew with internal organs), and the brain!

My previous post about Cebu drawn more than the usual readers, googling for information and contact numbers for Cebu's Lechon houses, there are hundreds of lechon houses in Cebu but these are the more popular ones:
NOTE: To contact via telephone, use COUNTRY CODE 063, AREA CODE 032

Cang's Lechon
Sanson Road, Lahug # 2328899
- the original Cang's Lechon, with crispy skin and tender meat, the fat looks like it's trimmed off, it's very tender that the vertebra easily collapse.

Cary Cang's Lechon (Edna Cang)
Sanson Road, Lahug # 2358886; +639276441923
-(similar to Cang's Lechon, now operating independently) my family's personal favorite. Aside from the usual lechon, a whole chicken (add P150 each) or rice can be stuffed inside. Imagine chicken or rice that tastes exactly like lechon.

Alejo's Lechon
Labangon # 2618575

Lighthouse Restaurant
Gen. Maxilon Ave # 2332383
-famous for Lechon de Leche, a few days old piglet, so tender, they use plates to slice it. For dine-in, you can order whole or smaller portions.

CNT Lechon
Archbishop Reyes Ave # 2326146
V. Rama # 2544249; 2546641
Juan Luna Ext Ave # 2335339
(with outlets in selected malls)
-famous for their retail outlet that sells lechon per kilo*, they can pack them in a box ready for cargo. Also available in Las Vegas, USA:
1203 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, USA # 702-270-2500

Se Ben's Authentic Cebu Lechon
SaveMore Supermarket, Parkmall branch
Reclamation road, Cebu City
# 4129799; +639173266999; +63922-8236168;
-promising new addition to the lechon industry

Rico's Lechon
Talamban, (Enrico Dionson, owner) # 3440119
-rumored for being former President Erap's source of lechon

Zubuchon (as endorsed by Anthony Bourdain)
(Edrid or Beverly) # 2365264 (M-F 9am-4pm)
Sunday Market at Banilad Town Center, Sundays, 10am-1pm

- but frankly, it doesn't come close to Cebu's best lechon.  You might just wanna try it simply because it was endorsed by travel channel Anthony Bourdain's blog.
- offers the convenience of online orders, recommended by a few bloggers who are non-Cebuanos. I haven't tried this, but the published rates are quite expensive.

Carcar Town Market- famous for having lechon juice, a seasoned clear (salty) soup.

Lorenzo's Lechon Baka
# 4162849
- specialize in roast beef/calf with sweet brown sauce. My birthday party isn't complete without them roasting a leg for my guests. :D They also serve roast turkey and goat.

The price of Lechon Baboy has increased about P300 for whole and P50/kg compared to last year. During peak season, price increase about P200-500 or they serve a smaller sized lechon. Peak season is from December, extending upto January (for Sinulog). Normal price range now should be:
P300 per kilo
P2800 good for 20-25 (whole)
P3200 good for 25-30 (whole)

Updated price for 2010:
P360 per kilo
P3500 good for 20-25 (whole) about 8-10 kilos
P4000 good for 25-30 (whole) about 10-12 kilos

Airport to airport airfreight from Cebu to Manila costs about P500, the seller usually charge additional P100 for packaging. Including freight, it is actually cheaper to buy from Cebu than in Manila.

*lechon sold per kilo tends to use bigger and older pigs, the meat may not be as tender and the skin is thicker which tends to be harder even crispy. So I still prefer to order in whole, the younger/smaller the better. Don't worry about left overs, stewed (paksiw) or sauteed, they are still worth the added cholesterol. :D Our household cook has a superb recipe, I'll try it out soon and post the receipe here.

Ever wondered how to keep the skin crispy?
- while it's steaming hot, keep it loosely covered. Don't keep it too long in the (car) trunk either. The steam tends to soften the skin.
- while waiting to be served in an airconditioned room or windy area, keep it covered.
- reheat leftover skin (if any!) in pressure cooker or toaster on high heat.

A celebration isn't complete without lechon, Christmas season ('Ber months) is coming up, I'm so eager to feast on more lechon again with hanging rice "puso" to match it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo

Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo is a Visayan dialect that translates to "going around Cebu". Cebu Province's Gov. Gwen Garcia has spearheaded the project Suroy Suroy Sugbo. It's a way to promote countryside tourism in the province of Cebu. They have organized trips like:
The Southern Heritage Trail, Northern Escapade, Discover Enchanting Camotes, Explore the Midwest and Urban Adventure...

If my memory serves me right, my parents have tagged along in at least three of these. As they narrate, no less than the Governor joins the group and with her around, the group is always met by local officials with unparalleled hospitality and elaborate showcase of the visited town's best talents. My mom swears the performances are of world class standard. Some says it's like going through a political campaign, while others welcome that added attention from the locals, every stop is like a feast not to mention, food is free flowing. Aside from that, what's nice about the tour is the flexibility to choose the type of accommodation to suit your budget and you may opt to take their bus or drive your own car.

The next Suroy Suroy Sugbo will be on August 16 to 17, 2008, called Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2008 Urban Adventure. It covers city tour of Mandaue City, Lapu-lapu City and Cordova, then island hopping around Mactan Island including Olango (bird sanctuary) and Gilotongan Island (fish sanctuary) and an overnight stay in a beach resort of your choice. The tour ends with a showcase of Cebu's best talents with over a hundred performers at Cebu Parkmall grounds, right across Cebu International Convention Center, CICC.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Amici di Don Bosco

I've just learned about Amici di Don Bosco on my most recent trip to Manila. The night before my flight, I made plans to meet up with my friend L and she suggested Amici along Tomas Morato. I hinted on not having been to Trinoma, but she insists, she's not going any farther than Tomas Morato. So I agreed, not knowing anything where were heading to.

Amici di Don Bosco is an authentic Italian trattoria serving pizza, pasta, gelato and more. My friend's husband, gave me good background of the restaurant. It initially was a cafeteria along Pasong Tamo for Don Bosco Technical School. It was recently bought by the former owners of Red Ribbon. They now opened a new branch along Tomas Morato sporting a fastfood like look, much classier than their first branch's cafeteria look. We have to wait to be seated, we were sixth on the wait list. The way it is, I see it honing its way for franchising.

The Spaghetti White Vongole E Gamberetti is much more savory than what I've been cooking, it had anchovies in it. They use wood fire oven that cuts cooking time to 5 minutes; but it took them a while to serve our Shrimp and Basil Pizza. Then, there's Italian Garlic Sausage, Spinach Pasta, Strawberry Gelato and a liter of Tropicana Orange Juice, drinks are available by the liter which makes your meal much cheaper. With hungry pangs, I only got to shot what's left of our pizza:

The food is really good and the price is reasonable at P200-300 per dish. Best of all, twas my friend's treat. Thank you! :D But it's nothing fancy, I guess, us Cebuanos are spoiled by the many Italian Chef owned restaurants in the city like La Tegola, Idea Italia, Giuseppe and La Bouna Forchetta.


While having a chat with my chef cousin B, I've learned that Chef Giorgio Bucciarelli (developer of Amici menu, now no longer connected with Don Bosco) used to hold culinary class for Don Bosco Technical School. He paid about P1,500 per head for a class back then. That's not bad at all.

He was kind enough to share those recipe with me, yipee! :D I'll definitely be having an Italian feast in the next few months. :D

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage

How much of the UNESCO World Heritage have you explored?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

Five spots are identified from the Philippines:

1 Baroque Churches of the Philippines (1993)
2 Tubbataha Reef Marine Park (1993)
3 Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (1995)
4 Historic Town of Vigan (1999)
5 Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (1999)

I've only been to one, the Rice Terraces in Batad and Banaue. I've been wanting to go diving in Tubbataha but I guess I'm not yet skilled enough to go there. I thought Calauit Island Game Reserve is listed but apparently it's not.

I somehow equate the identified sites of UNESCO World Heritage as a must see travel places. I regret why I passed the chance to see the Pyramids of Egypt!

As I browse through the list, I've been to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than I thought:

1 Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing, China
2 Yungang Grottoes, China
3 Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, China
4 The Great Wall, China
5 Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay, France
6 Vatican City, Holy See
7 Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
8 Palace and Park of Fontainebleau, France
9 Cathedral of Notre-Dame, France
10 Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge, France
11 Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci, Italy
12 Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy
13 Historic Centre of Florence, Italy
14 Venice and its Lagoon, Italy
15 Cinque Terre, Italy
16 Works of Antoni Gaudí, Spain
17 Historic City of Ayutthaya, Thailand
18 Statue of Liberty, USA
19 Historic Centre of Macao, China
20 Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Canada
21 Palace and Park of Versailles, France
22 Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange
23 The Loire Valley

To add to my must see sites before I die:
1 Taj Mahal, India
2 Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China
3 Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, Philippines
4 Halong Bay, Vietnam
5 Angkor Wat, Cambodia
6 Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, UK
7 Grand Canyon National Park, USA
8 Pyramids of Egypt

But why am I looking at the list? With too much work at hand, I can't seem to focus on what I'll do first, I can't even clear the clutter on my table, I can't stop thinking about the long holidays that is coming up.

I somehow came up with the idea of a 6 day trip to cruise Halong Bay in Vietnam and see Angkor Wat in Cambodia. As I googled, looks like 6 days isn't enough, uh oh. Won't this be anti-climatic for a follow on trip to Coron, Palawan? Hmm...If you have any tips, do drop me a line. :D

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening

I missed the opening salvo of Beijing Olympics 2008.  With all the good reviews, I am but curious how it went... wow, it really is impressive.

Only China can pull off something like this.

Notice the missing FUWA (Olympics mascots)?  FuWa litteraly means lucky dolls, but superstitious belief has spread that the recent misfortune of China are related to them.

Check out a slide show, video.  Many videos uploaded have been suspended due to copyright issues.

for full length vids, download from

credits to the owners of the pics -

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lea Salonga as Cinderella

My being a Lea Salonga fan dates back to when she first released her LP album entitled Small Voice. As a lil girl, every night I climb up on the sofa to reach the player and play and sing along with my favorite songs like the Alphabet Song, I Am but a Small Voice and Someone's Waiting For You. Those were the days when cassette tapes were scarce and CDs have not yet been invented. (how long ago was that?)

I have not followed her much as a teenie bopper on the big screen and on That's Entertainment, I know she too didn't like much of what she was doing back then. ;)

Her biggest break should be as Kim in Ms. Saigon, I flew to Manila from Cebu and watched her at CCP and I was so hoping that it should be her and not her alternate and YES, it's her! As the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Disney's Alladin and Fa Mulan in Disney's Mulan, I never thought she'd sound good for cartoons!

Over the weekend, I purposely flew to Manila from Cebu once again to watch her as Cinderella. I booked tickets and tagged along my aunt, 3 cousins and 5 nieces! I was so excited.

I am impressed with the production, performance, the lyrics & script and the whole cast. The carriage was oh so pretty; the rats were hilarious; i just love her gown for the ball and how it turned to rags ooh, they just made impossible things happen... everything is simply magical. Have a sneak peek!

Watching the show, brings me back to my happy childhood. I enjoyed watching these disney princesses finding their prince charming and lived happily ever after. I never realized their's was a case of whirlwind romance (ten minutes!), of course I didn't know anything about that back then. haha The story brings hope to anyone.

Nothing can dampen my spirit, not even a seven hour flight delay back home. Impossible things happen everyday in more ways in than one. :)

Rodger's & Hammerstein's Cinderella runs from July 29 to August 24, 2008 at CCP main theater. Tickets are available from P500 to P7,000 at or selected block sales agents. Their Asian tour will follow soon.

Do catch her...
*Lea Salonga will be performing on all shows sans injury or illness. According to Lea herself when I sent a PM on her multiply. ain't she so cool?! :)
*The show lasts for two hours. (There are 2 acts, each lasting an hour.)
*Show starts promptly as published (3pm or 8pm), late comers will be allowed entry minutes later.
*Cameras are not allowed.
*Be warned, there's a long line to the comfort room.
*Bring some cash, souvenir program (P200), a Tour Cast Recording CD (P550), caps (P400), shirts (P700), glass slippers key chains, charms, rat stuff toy (you'll appreciate it after watching the show) and more are available for sale.

More about Lea Salonga.

Watch and blog about Cinderella and win glass slippers!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Give Up on Cebu Pacific

To add to my long list of Cebu Pacific's bad service...

9. Our flight this morning scheduled at 10:15am left SEVEN hours later.

Need I explain further? At least two aircrafts were down (or so they said), as their announcement goes, 30 minutes before the flight "flight number... is delayed to 11:15 due to the delayed arrival of turn around aircraft." an hour later, same announcement was made and moved the flight to 2:30.
Thereafter, the boarding gate was filled with disgruntled customers with indefinite flight status. The manager on duty never showed up until some passengers went down to their office and demanded for free meals. They were able to negotiate and lunch was served past 2pm. Several flights were cancelled that day, hundreds of passengers were stranded in the airport (the only consolation is they now operate in NAIA Terminal 3). Passengers on cancelled flights got free airtickets (excluding taxes & fuel surcharge), overnight stay and three meals, while passengers on delayed flights for more than 6 hours gets free travel voucher, but we didn't get any simply because boarding announcement was made a few minutes before 6 hours would pass. Boarding announcement was made around 4pm but it doesn't end there.

This is another ordeal with Cebu Pacific, it is such a shame to us Filipinos especially Cebuanos for them deliver such service. During the whole time, I didn't bother to argue with them, the same people who assisted me during my missed connecting flight, was the same person handling us! I tried to haggle with my softest voice for our tickets to be refunded and be moved to PAL to no avail since the manager on duty never showed up to approve my request. So I quiet myself and bought The Secret.
But I couldn't keep my foot down, I went around, eavesdropped and talked to several strangers and shared experiences. Several passengers missed important meetings, several passengers came from Bangkok, their 10pm flight left 4am and were connecting on the same flight as I am.

I befriend the check-in counter staff, had our bags retrieved and had my ticket rebooked to another flight hoping it will leave earlier. Hours later, my original flight's aircraft arrived so I ran back to the counter and had my ticket rebooked again to my original flight. So my checked-in luggage and I were on separate flights, however, my checked-in luggage arrived earlier than me since we were kept an hour more on the plane before it finally left the runway. Sigh!

As we leave the arrivals door, the security guard asked us "you still taking Cebu Pacific?"

I don't exactly know how this will appear on the news, abs-cbn was there to cover it. I hope they will deliver an impartial report, a wake-up call to concerned government agencies to take some action.


After much controversy which remained unsettled, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) 3 opens its door to the public last July 22, 2008. I was looking forward to seeing the place and bet my fate again on Cebu Pacific.

-1. The main driveway leading to the departure terminal was not as wide as Terminal 2, this will definitely cause traffic once the terminal is fully operational.
+2. The area where the check-in counter are, is spacious and has high ceiling, much like the terminal 1 of Hong Kong Airport.
+3. Terminal fees remained at P200 per head for domestic flights.
-4. Immigration counter are in place even for domestic terminal.
+5. There are two operating x-ray machines, separate lines for male and female
=6. The hallway leading to the boarding gate are wide but there are no shops constructed yet, except for center aisle kiosks of Delifrance and Go Nuts Donuts and make-shift stalls of National Bookstore, a convenience store and Cinnabon. Shops are expected to open six months later.
-7. The waiting lounge wasn't enough to accommodate the passengers considering it is not yet fully operational. There were four rows of seat that lead to a long stretch of boarding gates. It's not well lighted, it looked gloomy just like the weather outside.
+8. There's one walkalator.
=9. The comfort room has more than ten cubicles but toilet papers aren't always replenished. I overheard the housekeeper complaining to NAIA supervisor how dirty it has been. Actually, I didn't find it dirty, maybe the old lady can't handle all cleaning by herself with the numerous passengers around.
+10. Public Annoucement facility was available with make-shift speakers spread throughout.
-11. LCDs were not yet operational on each boarding gate. One make shift screen using excel file was show on screen but wasn't updated.

I am quite disappointed with what I saw. It's trying hard to be of international standards, had it been opened many years back, it could have looked more impressive. Actually, it's not yet ready to service the passengers. There are no enough man power, there are 8 running tubes but only 3 operators are available. No personnel available to assist the sick and elderly needing special care like wheelchair. As the steward on flight commented, the President's state of the nation address (SONA) compelled them to operate unequipped. The SONA was delivered 7 days after it's opening, did she mention anything about NAIA3? (I didn't get to follow that.) Flights are delayed for at least 30 minutes since and it is expected to remain that way for the next two months.

More than anything else, as I push my luck with Cebu Pacific, it just added to my already long list of bad service by them.

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