Kiki & Lala

Archive for April 2010

After last week’s mini ordeal at the ER, I was advised by my doctors and my mom to take a break from Alex.  Boooo!  This turned out to be sound advice after all as I ended up having a lovely lovely weekend at the house by the lake…

We were invited by Flower and her twinpophub to Franklin Lakes, NJ.  It’s a beautiful piece of property overlooking a tranquil and breathtaking lake.  It’s definitely a home away from home.  There couldn’t have been a better spring weekend to do this great getaway.  The company was homey and familiar, the weather was perfect, the food was heavenly and the bubbly was bottomless.  So trading up Alex this weekend wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

First let me show you the house and its divine surroundings.  This is the front of the house with all of Spring’s glory in full bloom.

Here’s another shot from the driveway.  Check out how lush these plants are.

Asthma and allergies aside, Spring is definitely the most wonderful time of the year.

Here is the garden at the back of the house that opens up to The Lake and our chosen hang out for the weekend.   Pretty is all I can say.

Here is the gazebo up close.

This is the back of the house taken from the garden below.   Landscape’s not too shabby huh?

Here is Flower’s twinpophub having one of his famous moments…this time with The Lake. (Enter ethereal background music from Richard Gomez’s rowing Bench commercial).

Are you captivated yet?  Wait till I tell you about the food.  Thanks to Little Twin Miss Tapia’s creative and epicurean abilities, we had one feast after another.  Come and take a look.

I picked up a few pounds of fresh made mozzarella from my favorite neighborhood deli.  She sliced and laid it in a bed of greens and topped it with grape tomatoes, fresh basil finished with balsalmic and EVOO.  Yum!

We also had steaks.  I love how she inserted cloves of garlic in between the meat and fat and topped it with butter to add even more flavor.  Naughty!

We also had scallops and fish which I really enjoyed!

And here the sides.

For dessert?  Little Twin Pi brought Buttercup Bakery’s famous Banana Pudding. I wish you could see how we devoured it.  Just insanely delicious!

We also had leftover Payard specially made chocolates for Moet Hennessy’s Oscar Party last February.  I apologize for the bad shot.

As you know, a weekend by the picturesque lake is never  complete without day off pics.  Here are some shots we took.

Introducing the star of the weekend.  She was such a delight to be with! Don’t you love her outfit?

My day off picture from the balcony.

And more pictures from the balcony.

Your best friends + beautiful lake house + awesome food + scotch and bubbly = a very happy Kiki.

Thank you to Flower and her twinpophub and his extremely warm and kind parents for having us this weekend.  Twas a blast!

That’s literally what we did on this fine but nippy Saturday morning.  And let me tell you about those hills!  They were frustratingly challenging but unbelievably gratifying. So where exactly did we go?  We rode around what is called the Great Swamp which literally is just one great swamp.  But the scenery it opens up to as you ride through those hills are just breathtaking.  I wish bikes came with a built in camera (kind of like computers) so I could snap a few pretty ones without having to stop and break the momentum.

Here are some pics taken from that awesome ride.

Told you it was a swamp...

Action shot

Unglam shot of me

Unglam shot of Kiki who badly needs a tan!

Playing around with the camera during a stop in Basking Ridge

Pretty shots of Basking Ridge. A quaint, WASP-y town where we took our break.

One of the numerous US flags we saw riding through these towns

Team YES WE CAN

I have to pay a special tribute to my baby, Alex, who did a stupendous job!  Thanks to this clunker, I truly believe that I can fly!

It was a great day to be out, on the saddle, taking in the fresh air and the lovely scenery. I’ll try to take more pictures next time for you to appreciate.

And what did YOU do this weekend?

Here are some things I thought amusing or at least share-worthy while I was in Subic recently.

This is what the un-athletci helping the un-athletic looks like…

Here’s an exotic looking bird. Wasn’t paying attention as to its scientific name.
I was just praying it wouldn’t gouge my eyes out with it’s beak while I was taking its picture.

These are albino carabaos! They can’t be beasts of burden like their melanin-tinged relatives because they can’t be under the sun. But they sure looked like they were baking in the zoo…!

Monkeys in the trees just outside the house. Yaaaak!

Check her out. Denim shorts, yellow Cory-Ninoy shirt, white and fuchsia tiger print socks, purple sequined high tops… for the zoo!

This scene reminded me so much of Sunday afternoons in HK. Boat rides are one of the major things I miss about Hongkers.

Beautifully named boat. God forbid I die before my time, you would name a boat after me, right?

God’s fingers stretching out in the sunset.

Another dusk-y scene. So tranquil.

And sadly, the out of place condos some Korean company built (in the middle of a water shed!) to house their ship builders who work across the bay.

So LittleTwinHKBestie and I were in the society pages of a major broadsheet the other day. I showed the picture to Rocio and here is the conversation that ensued.

Lala: Hey, look – I’m in the papers today.
Rocio: Oh yeah! Why? What was that for?
Lala: Oh I just went to a party with Ninang.
Rocio: A very IMPORTANT party…
Lala: Well, not really. It was just a party and someone happened to have a camera.
Rocio: Why can’t I come out in the newspaper?
Lala: It’s really not a big deal. Besides, you’ve come out in several magazines already.
Rocio: Hello! The NEWSPAPER is MUCH more popular than a magazine!

It was a beautiful Saturday in the city (relative to the horrific weather we’ve been having lately), so my dearest Twin-ham and I decided to take ourselves downtown for some sunshine and good food. But as always, we were faced with the question: What should we eat on this fine day? A little meditation and a little more web surfing gave us our answer: PIZZA!

I’ve always been a huge fan of pizza, and I’m not one to discriminate. Whether it’s thick crust, thin crust, deep dish, square, round, topped with every meat known to man, or simply done with tomatoes and mozzarella, I will devour whatever you put in front of me. There is something so comforting about melted cheese on warm pizza dough that it’s hard to imagine a more perfect food. I am instantly transported to the times I ate reheated pizza slices during my summer trips to New Jersey, when I thought that I was eating some akin to manna from Heaven. Little did I know that the word ‘pizza’ could encompass so much more than semi-cold mushrooms and congealed cheese (which I STILL love, by the way).

A Neapolitan pizza revolution has been quietly taking place in New York, with the growing popularity of places like Motorino, Keste, and the now-closed Una Pizza Napoletana. I try not to get sucked into food wars, but I had to admit that this particular rivalry was a lot more interesting than the others going on in the New York food scene. Maybe today would be the first stage in this battle?

Despite the lovely weather, we didn’t have to wait too long for a lunchtime table at Keste. We were seated towards the back, close to the dome-shaped brick oven. The familiar smell of yeast, cheese, and fresh herbs filled my nose, and my saliva glands kicked into overdrive. Our server–a very charming fellow with a swoon-inducing Italian accent–took our order: one Pizza del Re, and one Rustica salad.

I was ready to gnaw my arm off in hunger, but fortunately, our server quickly returned with our Rustica. The salad was a perfect start to the meal: the dressing was acidic enough to wake up the taste buds without being overwhelming, and the artichokes had a creamy quality that made for a good bite of food when paired with the mesclun. And of course, the prosciutto was like icing on the cake. (And yes, I would eat actual cake wrapped in prosciutto. Don’t judge!)

But all thought of salad flew out of the window when the pizza arrived… The menu described the Pizza Del Re as “fresh mozzarella, mushroom, prosciutto di parma, truffle spread, extra virgin olive oil.” My first sniff confirmed the presence of truffle; my second sniff confirmed that sharing this pizza with Twin-ham would be highly unlikely.

While I stuffed my face with deliciousness, a couple of things occurred to me: (1) I should have considered ordering a pizza with some kind of vegetable (tomatoes, arugula, anything), because all this truffle spread was getting a little heavy, (2) the Neapolitan pizza crust was a little more dough-y than I expected, but in a pleasant way, (3) the combination of said crust and truffle spread was making me feel a little sluggish, and (4) perhaps sharing wasn’t such a bad idea.

I threw up the white flag after my second slice, and Twin-ham took over from there. All in all, it was a fantastic meal and I’m already looking forward to my second visit. But in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I’ll have to drop by Motorino soon to see who truly reigns in the Neapolitan kingdom.

Three Hundred Sixty-Five days.  You would think after 365 days, it got easier and we would miss him less.  We certainly don’t miss him less but his presence is even stronger now than when he actually was with us, don’t you think?  I think you would agree that we’ve seen so many LITTLE MIRACLES since his passing.  You would also agree that he is behind all these miracles, being the selfless dreamer that he was.  So to remember Dinky Boy on this day, I thought I’d re-share with you the eulogy I wrote for him when we laid him to rest…

In these last couple of days, I’ve met various personalities that knew my dad in different ways.  Yesterday I got a glimpse of the kind of person dad was from the perspective of his colleagues in Congress, from his work mates in Cocolife and from his brothers in Aquila Legis.  Today I thought I’d attempt to give you a glimpse of the persona behind Ding Tanjuatco, not the lawyer, not the Congressman but Ding Tanjuatco, the dad, My dad.

Like most fathers, my dad’s main concern was to provide.  He and my mom gave me and my siblings EVERYTHING and nothing less than the best.  I must admit, being his eldest daughter I took advantage of his benevolence to the point of being spoiled. Being one of three daughters it was easy to twist his arm and get whatever I asked for.  In the recent necrological services, many of you mentioned that my dad hardly turned his back on a favor.  He hardly said no to requests.  Well he was the same for us, his children.  It was difficult for him to say no to whatever we asked for and whatever we needed.  He already operated under the assumption that we deserved it, even if we really didn’t because all he wanted was to see his children happy.  I remember this one day when I was an angsty teenager brooding about some matter that is now insignificant.  He was quietly observing me from afar.  Finally after a while he called me to come to him.  Then he said to me:  “I work so hard to make sure that all of you are happy because I’m happy when you’re happy.  So it frustrates me to see that all it takes is one person, one situation to take away all that I’ve worked so hard for. So please if you can’t find it in yourself to be happy for me, could you at least smile?” I think you can all picture the huge fake smile I had plastered across my face all throughout that day.  But that’s how important our happiness was to him.   He gave us what he thought we deserved because seeing us happy ultimately made him happy.

There are many facets to my dad’s character that I admire and actually even emulate. But there is one that I’d like to share with all of you today because this is what I think makes my dad special. This is what fueled him to live the meaningful life that he lived and be the great man that he was. My dad was a big dreamer. He was a manifestor, a doer. He made things happen.  Everything he did throughout his short life was carefully designed to help him achieve his dreams.  Yesterday when Tito Peping said that my dad started off his career in public service by doing small but fundamental tasks for the opposition, I instantly knew that he happily did his work no matter how small because he believed that these tasks were little pieces that formed a bigger vision, small stepping stones that eventually lead him to live a life serving the people in a big way.  And he felt that he could do this best by serving the public either as a lawyer or in the august halls of congress.  He aspired to move up perhaps one day becoming a Senator and who knows where he could have gone from there.  He just kept on dreaming.  Unfortunately, as fate would have it, his career in congress ended in 1998.  But because he held on to this dream so tightly he ran again twice and lost both times.  And in spite of those two very costly and painful losses, he never turned his back on his district in Rizal.  He never closed his doors to the people of his district even if these were the same people that didn’t vote for him, twice.  He was faithful to these people because he was faithful to his dream.  That’s my dad, the dreamer.

When I decided to relocate.  I was leaving a very promising career here only to start a new life from scratch in the US.  While initially I could feel his reluctance, he let me go because being the dreamer that he was, he understood, he got it.  He watched me quietly from a distance, hurdle trial after trial all by myself.  Every so often he would send me an email just to offer help and to tell me he thought that I was doing a good job and to just “keep on trucking”, that eventually I would get there.  The day we confirmed he was sick happened to be my birthday.  I remember crying to him suggesting that maybe I should leave all this and go home.  And very adamantly he said “NO.  I am not going to allow you to jeopardize everything that you’ve worked for. You stay there and live the life you’ve always wanted to live.”  He didn’t want me to come home because being a dreamer he understood.  He got it.  Even until the very end he insisted that I stay put.  He was willing to leave this world without even seeing his daughter because he understood. He got it.  And the only thing that he wanted for me and for my siblings was to live our dreams the same way he strove to live his.  That’s my dad, the dreamer, the selfless dreamer.

My dad would always tell me in jest that he had achieved a certain level of success because HE WAS THE KING OF THE HILL.  And I used to tease him about it a lot by saying “sure dad you’re the king of an ant hill”.  In these last few days I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  Maybe what he really meant when he used to tell me this was that he was the king of his own seemingly impossible dream, the king of his own destiny. This was probably his way of telling me to take control of my life by being the queen of my destiny, the queen of my dreams.  Therefore, for us, his children, there is no other way to honor his life than to proudly live our dreams.  I’m going back to New York with a renewed sense of purpose, thanks to my dad, the dreamer, the selfless dreamer.

So it’s with a very heavy and broken heart that I let you go, dad.  You go find that hill, that mountain, that universe to be a king of where your hard work will easily be honored and recognized.   Where you will never fade away and will always stay gold.  Please leave the light on in heaven for me, for Mom, for Dino and Nancy, for Dax and Ciela, for Pat, for Priscilla and of course, for Nadine, your precocious little friend who happily played beside you on your couch in your last lucid moments.  Leave that light on so that when our time comes, we may find our way back to you.  And as I let you go, my only regret is that I wish I told you sooner how proud I am to be your daughter.  I love you.

So to my Dad (wherever you are), THANK YOU for being the moon that continues to shine on my seemingly daunting path.  I LOVE YOU : )

Rocio wanted me to be the customer for her “spa treatments”. So picture me flat on my back on the bed, feet just over the sides and Rocio attending to my feet. She’s basically rubbing a cold face towel on them. Then she proceeds to put the towel on my shins.

Lala: Not there please. It’s too cold and not relaxing.
Rocio: Oh ok – I’ll just put them on your chubby part.
Lala: What chubby part?? I don’t have chubby parts!
Rocio: (slaps cold towel on my thighs)


Tulong Para Sa Rizal

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