The Long Lunch


August 31, 2020

The food in Spain is fantastic. That’s what I remember most of all. But there were also tourist sights to see, and of all those sights, one of the most arresting and memorable was the oculus in the Toledo Cathedral. It’s a gigantic hole in the vaulted ceiling that lets the sun in from a window above it to light a Baroque altarpiece far below. So unexpected.

Looking up at the ceiling of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was a completely different experience. Though built as a Christian cathedral in the sixth century, it was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks in 1400s, then turned into a museum by the founder of the modern Turkey in 1935. (In July, the Turkish government declared that the Hagia Sophia can only be used as a mosque, no...

These chest pains feel familiar. At the end of 1996 when I turned thirty-six years old, a single flight of stairs at the office would leave me bent over and pounding my breastbone, struggling to catch my breath. I would feel an ache travel up to my jaw; then, thankfully, it would subside. It would happen every day, but aside from those moments on the stairs, it never really bothered me. It was only to keep a new year’s resolution that I decided to get a medical check-up on January 2. The doctors kept me in the hospital for a month.

It was the smoking, said my cardiologist. My parents never smoked and the vile habit was prohibited in our house, but you know how it was. High school. I learned to puff nonchalantly on menthols in second yea...

We made it through the lockdown. Technically, we survived the EECQ, ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ, and in a few days we should waltz through the MGCQ, too. Woohoo! And, in spite of the continuing increase in COVID19 cases, people are going back to work, the malls are open, and the roads are once again choked with traffic. We now need to learn to navigate through BAU BIM—business as usual but in masks.

It’s not as easy as you might think because with everybody’s faces half-covered, we’ve lost most of the visual cues that help us understand the people we deal with. Eyes may be windows to someone’s soul, but smiles, sneers and snorts say much more than winks and blinks, don’t you think? A scrunched up nose, flaring nostrils, a tongue thrust out or ha...

Before we got married, I did my own grocery shopping. I knew enough to check the expiration date of the bread before taking it from the shelf. I also knew that I had to watch the prices as they were rung up by the checkout girl to make sure they matched the price tags. I also watched the bagger. I remember how heartbroken I was once when I got to my apartment, discovered that the package of sweet ham I bought was missing, and the toasted ham and cheese sandwich I was so looking forward to became a cheese and cheese sandwich.

But it’s been a while. At first, the wife and I did the grocerizing together. I would push the cart, occasionally turning it into a kick scooter zipping through empty aisles or alternatively pretending it was a deli...

Three men, theoretically, show up at a hospital with COVID-19 symptoms—fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, the works:

       • JR is, let’s say, a 29-year-old call center operator who is on leave without pay while his company’s business is on pause. He arrives alone but has a wife and school-age daughter at home.

       • Mac is an executive currently working from home for one of the big corporate groups. He’s in his fifties, has hypertension and diabetes, and is a friend of the family that owns the hospital.

       • Tranquilino is 72 years old. He was recently brought back into government service. He has five children and seven grandchildren. Even his friends call him “Sec Lino”.


February 18, 2020

The VD celebrations this year seemed, well, half-hearted. The malls and restaurants were decked out in red hearts and flowers, but this season’s theme appeared to be caution rather than passion. For one thing, bawal ang beso beso—a prohibition long overdue as far as I’m concerned (but that’s another story)—and how romantic can HHWW PSSP* really be when you have to douse your hands in alcohol every few minutes?

But it can’t all be about the viri. (Cactus, cacti. Alumnus, alumni. Virus, ?) Because if you are still wearing a mask in the mall, either you are sick and immunocompromised (in which case, what are you doing at the mall?) or you weren’t listening in class when the DOH issued its advisory on masks. Granted, there are other reasons...

January 16, 2020

First, I read that Harrison Plaza was closing for good. Then came the news that Crossover 105.1 was gone forever. I kind of knew these changes were coming, but nothing prepared me for the shock of learning that the Jollibee Champ had been phased out. (Three tearful emojis) As 2019 bowed out, it took with it at least three generational markers all at once as if Thanos had snapped his fat fingers again; and suddenly I felt lost, adrift and alone.

Seems like we keep suffering end-of-an-era losses. Blink, turn around, and something else is gone. It’s not just the little but no less heartbreaking things like Luk Yuen dropping Lapu Lapu Congee from its menu. It’s Fiesta Carnival, Big Bang sa Alabang, Payanig sa Pasig and the memories that wen...

At age 29 I was happily married with two children. Increasingly, however, young people these days seem to be postponing this next stage in their lives until they’re well into their 30’s. Let me be very clear: I’m not saying this is wrong in any way. In fact, I’m all for building a career and a bank account, accumulating post-graduate degrees and titles, and seeing the world and all it has to offer before settling down. To my own kids, I’m saying I’m in no hurry to have grandchildren and sleep beside a grandmother every night. Take your time.

What I was wondering about is why my generation got married so early; and while walking around our village in a futile attempt to lose weight, I think I found the answer. Blame it on the music.


My phone says it’s 35 degrees centigrade. Feels like 40. It’s so hot you can fry eggs on the window sill. I know because I sat on the window sill to try to catch a breeze. Aray. It’s so hot you wake up in a pool of sweat despite the airconditioner and two electric fans working full time on the highest settings. It doesn’t help that you’re waking up at noontime but, hey, it shouldn’t be that way, right? It’s so hot that I’m willing to risk facing the Night King and ten thousand white walkers just to enjoy the snow north of the Wall. To those who proudly say they don’t watch Game of Thrones: Go away. Mainit ang ulo ko.

But, seriously, it’s hot.

I want to get out of the city and maybe go to the Summer Capital of the Philippines—Japan. Every...

February 25, 2019

Visited the graves of my parents today. Bouncing around in my head was a question one of my kids had asked: “I’m turning 30 and what have I done with my life?”

Try turning 60 and having the same question.

My mom and dad passed on at 75 and 83, having lived lives that were, in my eyes, full of achievement, and yet I wonder if they ever asked themselves what they had really done. 

How do we measure a life? In terms of power, prestige or possessions? Hell, yeah! Don’t you want to be able to simply look at a guy and have him shrink in fear into nothingness? Aren’t you willing to do anything to amass more power than you have the competence to wield? You drool over that low numbered license plate. You want a yacht. You want another yacht. But t...

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In my mind, this is still how I look.

The photo wasn't really taken that long ago, but admittedly a lot has changed since then. For one, I retired and wrote a column that appeared weekly in

BusinessMirror and many of the articles here were edited and published there. Oh, and I have some gray hair now.

August 31, 2020

July 5, 2020

June 8, 2020

January 16, 2020

November 4, 2019

April 19, 2019

February 25, 2019

December 14, 2018

September 6, 2018

November 27, 2017

December 28, 2016

December 21, 2016

December 13, 2016

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© 2020 by Dan Albert S. de Padua

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