The Long Lunch


December 14, 2018

I didn’t realize I was doing it until recently: Before I sit down in church, I reach back to the pew to check the distance and steady the descent, then I slowly lower myself into my seat. It’s such a “Lolo” move. Something I remember my grandfather doing. Time was when at the barked command “Take seats!” I could instantly drop into a chair or onto the ground with all the other cadets. But my days as a Bro and even as a Tito are long gone. Waiters and cashiers everywhere routinely (perversely!) ask for the senior citizens’ card that I am not entitled to, yet. Something to do with my phenotypic age. My students, born in 1997 when I was already deep into my second career, respond with blank stares when my jokes require some knowledge of 8...

November 3, 2018

Are you the type who goes out with the gang but always excuses himself early to go home and spend the rest of the evening curled up with a book or watching Netflix? When you say you’re going to the restroom do people say goodbye to you because they know you’re about to make a French exit? When you get several invitations for the same evening do you usually end up ditching all of them?

Do you need time alone to recharge your batteries? Thus, do you enjoy taking long drives alone with the radio off? Savoring meals alone? Reading Time magazine alone? Do you sit in the very first row of the movie theater so that you can at least pretend that you are watching the movie alone, as in with no one else in the entire theater?

At the office do you...

September 6, 2018

I wish we had a central park, or a subway with stops everywhere, or red hop-on hop-off buses with tourists who feel the city is beautiful and clean enough to want to see it from the open upper deck. I wish we had a gigantic statue or a soaring tower or a church or a bridge or a clock that people can take selfies in front of to announce to the IG world that they’re here. I wish the late Anthony Bourdain had praised more than our lechon and fast food halo-halo.

But, no. Mega Manila’s claim to fame is that, from its core in the old City of Manila to the bedroom communities in what used to be called neighboring provinces, it is an extremely crowded place. Over 24 million people. Ranked fourth after Tokyo, Jakarta and Delhi in terms of popul...

When the daughter of a friend announced that she will be getting married and chose as her principal wedding sponsors two members of our drinking dabarkads* but not me, I was a little hurt. Actually, since there were only four guys in our group to choose from, it was pretty painful. Hahaha. [*dabarkads – a mutation of the word barkada referring to the group of friends who arrived on the same boat]

I guess I’m not the type of person that people readily think of as a good Ninong, which just tells you that people really don’t know anything. For the information of all concerned, I give the absolute best wedding presents. I may not give Christmas gifts or pasalubong but I take godfather duties very seriously. Plus—and here’s the biggie—all th...

In my mind we will always be eighteen.

We were standing in the dark, trying and failing to get out of the rain under the eaves of a Marcos-type prefab building, a few meters down the road from where we had been told to report for overnight indoctrination. We had been ordered to come in as a group, supposedly to build unity and esprit de corps in our batch. I don’t think they called it team building or bonding yet back in the 1970’s. I suspect they didn’t want us to arrive individually because an early bird or a latecomer might be singled out for special hazing. Our seniors were kind to us in that way. But they also required us to know the full names of all our batchmates. If one of us didn’t know the middle name of one other guy, we wer...

Call it my post-graduate short course in musical theater.  I was in New York City for a two-week intensive survey to try to determine what shows can be produced in Manila, what cannot, which musicals will make money, which ones might flop, and ultimately what plays have roles that will still hold some challenge for Mr. Nyoy Volante.

The oft-repeated remark that ‘it’s tough work but someone’s got to do it’ implies ironically that my job is easy, possibly even loads of fun. Granted, it is more enjoyable than preparing tax returns or carrying stones to the pyramids but, believe me, it is exhausting work. We had meetings every day, sometimes two or three, with producers, rights holders, licensors and creatives (as a non-creative, I skipped...

November 27, 2017

To be honest, not too many months ago you couldn’t drag me into a theater to watch a musical play full of hyperactive brats. To this day, in fact, I generally believe young children are meant to be smiled at briefly then dismissed. I’m the guy who glares at children who run around restaurants screaming as if they’re at a playground. I own noise-cancelling headphones in case some inconsiderate parents on an airplane fail to drug their wailing babies with cough syrup. And I fully intend to formally petition the church usherettes to deal with all fidgety, loud-question-asking runts by forcibly imprisoning them in the soundproofed crying room at the back or better yet by kicking them out of Mass entirely.

But then I got involved with Atlant...

We always end up ordering too much food. We know it’s just the two of us and we don’t want to get a doggie bag of leftovers we will just stick in the ref for nobody to eat, but we pore over the menu and choose enough dishes to fill two tables anyway. Habit, maybe. It could also be a subconscious yearning for the good old days of big family gatherings. Or merely a case of greedy eyes (takaw mata) coupled with an utter lack of self-discipline. It’s true, not too long ago we sat around long tables with everybody telling interminable stories while wolfing down enormous quantities of oily, fatty, carbo-loaded unhealthy food because family days were always diet cheat days. But now it’s just the two of us.

Besides, we can’t eat that much anymo...

1968. She was in Grade 7. I was Grade 1. Standing on a pile of gravel looking out over the jungle behind the house, my sister passed on three nuggets of wisdom that I have never forgotten:

1.  Snakes live in tall grass.  Many years of experience, plus the movie "Snakes on a Plane", have taught me that snakes can actually be found almost anywhere. In the bamboo grove. In the office. Among friends. But I believe the intent of the lesson was to keep me from going into the jungle behind the house. And the fact is, if you walk into the tall grass, that is, if you allow yourself to "get into the weeds" you will likely find people there who will betray you. Be warned.

2.  Water contracts when it freezes. Ice expands when it melts.  I actually g...

We had a black and white TV set. I remember watching Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and thinking how great it would be to actually see the wonderful colors of the show, and how it would be a hundred times greater still to see Disneyland itself in glorious living color. I imagined the magic castle with fireworks shooting up from behind it and wished upon many stars; but for many, many years I had to content myself with the colors closer to home.

Two Norwegian boys came to live with us for a few days on an exchange program. We strapped on our small Work Education bolos and took them on a hike following a creek into the “jungle” of Mount Makiling. I recall very clearly what they said because to that point I had taken it for granted...

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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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