Delectable Nirvana: On The Paradise that is ‘Alba’

The hallmark of a truly great meal is the undeniable presence of conversation. This dialogue is one that is not centered on interaction, but one that focuses mainly on the food. 

 If you’re an avid watcher of shows on the Food Network and TLC like I am, you’ll notice that the part where the host partakes in a meal is never quiet. He/she often takes time to describe the taste of the food between each bite, making sure to be very, very specific. I used to think that they did this so that viewers at home could somehow have ‘a taste’ of what the host was eating. By describing the flavors, the audience could understand why the food which the host ate was something of note. But then, there came a point when I realized that there was more to this then simply describing tastes for the sake of TV. 

 Good food is worth talking about. You know you’ve eaten somewhere special when you’re too excited that you end up talking about your food in between bites. An atypical, so-so meal would oftentimes be discussed post-lunch or post-dinner, but a special meal is one that is worth instant conversation. Why? Because good food is hard to come by. The taste of good food is twice as elusive. 

 Such was exemplified when I was granted the opportunity to partake of a delectable dinner at ‘Alba’, a well-known Spanish restaurant along Tomas Morato. The descriptions below are accompanied by the appropriate photographs, taken during dinner. I have but one piece of advice upon reading the succeeding passages: immerse yourself, entice yourself, relax. And then, go eat at Alba. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 

 

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A. Medium rare roast beef and buttered vegetables

Where can I even begin to describe this sumptuous third plate? The beef tasted like an instant orgasm: brief, euphoric and desirable. The melt in your mouth experience is something worth reliving, just like the taste of magic. Eating a slice of roast beef is almost like taking a thirty-second trip through a euphoric pseudo-reality, an experience that culminates in the satisfaction of a trip down one’s hungry esophagus.  

The broccoli is thick, fresh, and bathed just right in a tub filled with tasteful butter. One need be careful though, when selecting vegetables from the buttered vegetable buffet: if you pick out the over buttered veggies, you’re going to end up with a mouth full of oil (unhealthy). 

 

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B. Buttered vegetable, mushroom risotto and sausage 

The sausage was not one of the better parts of this plate. As mentioned in the previous passage, the vegetables were a delectable treat. The risotto tasted special: unique, and slightly special. I’ve only tasted risotto once before, and I have to say this risotto tasted a hundred times better. No overbearing flavors ruined the taste of this difficult dish, and we are left with tempered yum: well-balanced flavors, delicious taste, and an all-around rice dish that would make the Italians proud. 

 

I apologize if my brief passages have not provided enough reason for you to want to go to Alba for a meal. Yet, I’m sure there will come a point when you will be in search of authentic taste, authentic atmosphere, and a craving for genuine paella. When that point comes, I implore you to not go all the way to Promenade for a disappointing experience at Las Paellas (I’m sorry, I was disappointed). Instead, visit Alba first. Alba is the perfect place to become acquainted with Spanish cuisine, believe me. There’s no better place to go. 😉 

 

Post Script: FOI

This bill should never have died in the first place. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s the fact that besides the HK hostage crisis, the death of the freedom of the information bill will be another of the Aquino administration’s big mistakes. Here’s to hoping that with the proposed implementation of ‘overhauled pork’, a measure that sees the need for extreme transparency, this bill will come alive again.

If it does, then maybe the ‘tuwid na daan’ might just become a real road.

 

 

 

Project PORK: A Comprehensive Opinion Post on PDAF

Finally.

I have left behind my notions of pork barrel as pork siomai.

Further research into pertinent headlines related to the current scandal have allowed me the opportunity to properly understand the issue at hand. This understanding has led to the formulation of an opinion, an opinion which I intend to share with you on this fine morning.

My stand on specific aspects of the issue will be divided accordingly, and discussed in detail. I would like to stress the fact that I do not intend to discuss the entire scandal comprehensively, and only want to stress particular points that proved to be of interest to me.

a. President Aquino’s “it’s time to abolish PDAF” speech 

The media did a very good job of emphasizing this particular line in Aquino’s speech that had one not read through the transcript of what he said, it would be very, very easy for one to believe that he was really abolishing the PDAF system when he wasn’t.

In his speech, there is no mention of taking specific action in formally removing the system. He simply says that it’s time to abolish PDAF, and that’s it. I am personally unaware of whether or not law/s do exist which include the mention of PDAF, but if such laws do exist, why is it that there is no mention of taking action to change these laws in order to permanently remove PDAFs for good?

b. Issues with the Proposed ‘Overhauled Pork’ 

Specific parts of the proposed overhauled pork are cited below with corresponding input with regards to their implementation.

” 1. We will continue the practice of requiring that projects to be funded come from a specific menu of qualified projects.” 

If the implementation of this new policy is to be made public, I hope that one of the things that will be made public along with the policy implementation will be the “specific menu of qualified projects” which the president speaks of. The companies handling these projects should  not be owned by government officials, and/or relatives of individuals in public office. If possible, the project proposals of these “qualified projects” should also be made public so that the public will be able to scrutinize the document for anomalies.

“2. They cannot include consumable soft projects, such as fertilizers, seeds, medicines, medical kits, dentures, funding for sports fests, training materials, and other such items—these projects whose results and impact we cannot conclusively identify, and who may only be ghost projects, used only as a source of income by the corrupt.”

I am confused. So what happens if a particular project will need medical kits, medicines and the like? Does this mean that that particular project will automatically not receive funding? The examples mentioned in this point seem to be valid aspects of community-based projects. Where will the projects which need these things get their money? Is the administration simply too lazy or too poor to monitor how these consumables are used? Is that why they have imposed such a restriction, because these things can be monitored properly.

c. What Trust? On The DBM 

The DBM has recently admitted having ‘clerical errors’ in their PDAF records. Noynoy’s proposed pork overhaul puts them in a powerful position. I may not be a taxpayer yet, but if there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s the fact that when I do become a taxpayer, I won’t be particularly comfortable having them handle the money that comes from the taxes I pay. Who knows what might happen to my taxes?

Refer to this article in order to see what I mean: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/69152/dbm-admits-more-mistakes-in-coa-audit-of-pdaf—while-distancing-then-sen–noynoy-from-pork-funds

d. Suspicious Money 

Source: http://www.rappler.com/nation/36607-special-purpose-funds-pork-barrel

The pork barrel is only a small part of the SPF (Special Purpose Funds). Budget watchdogs are pushing not just for the abolition of the pork barrel, but of the SPF as a whole.

The figures presented in the article above are quite questionable.

  • Pension and gratuity fund – P120.5 billion
  • Miscellaneous personnel benefits fund – P80.7 billion
  • Budgetary support to government corporations – P46.7 billion
  • Allocation to local government units – P19.7 billion

a. Why is it that the miscellaneous personnel benefits fund is even LARGER than the allocation to local government units?

b. Why is the pension and gratuity fund the largest among these four figures? (Is that why people are so eager to get into politics, because of the money?)

c. I would like a comprehensive financial report that shows me the specific areas where these funds go.

d. I would also like an explanation of these fund categories.

P.S. To a person well-versed in these issues that might come across this post,

I would like to apologize to you if my concerns may seem quite… trivial. Do know that I approach these issues as a layman, and as someone whose expertise does not exactly lie in this field of study. If some of my concerns seem matter of fact to you, do take the time to enlighten me further. It would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. 🙂

Delusional

It’s been three years, and she’s doing better.

The doctors tell me they might have been wrong about her. The dreams are gone and she sleeps peacefully. In the mornings, she wakes up early, eats, and smiles at everyone. They say she shares stories with the nurses about a happy childhood in the farmland: waking up at dawn to feed the chickens and work the plow. At night, she sleeps the earliest, making sure to take her pills and leave her book outside before the rooms are locked.

I feign a smile until I’ve left the Center and I’m back in the car. It is then that I break down. Tears stream down from my face as I remember the farm. Yes, there was a farm. We were in the farm, me and her. We were there when the skies got dark and the evil people came in. They took our Mommy and our Daddy, and made us work.

In the morning, they whipped us when we wouldn’t wake up before the sunrise to feed the chickens. At night, things got worse. She got lucky when the hippies passed by for food and they took her away from me.

I still go home to those fuckers, but they don’t know where she is. I’d rather keep it that way. I love my sister too much to let her go back to them and die.

There are screams once more in Thebault Center. The hippie girl in 504 is having nightmares again. They find powder under her bed after they’ve taken her to isolation room six.

She won’t be getting out anytime soon.

Bowl of Soup

So, this is what happens you deprive yourself of sleep, take two exams consecutively, and not eat a single thing for the entire day.

My head is throbbing right now– emotions seem a thing of the past. It feels as though regret for not properly absorbing my notes is coming back to haunt me. The shame of sitting through something and realizing you haven’t done your best, when in technical truth… you have, haven’t you?.

 Yes, that moment of questioning. When you realize you’ve spent weeks absorbing what you weren’t even able to use in your actual exam. Your eyes want to close, but there’s more that awaits you at home.

Another exam, another report– this is life. A nap may come, but it will never be enough. A weekend is merely metaphor for a time of supposed respite. It also signifies broken promises we learn to accept over time.

 You sigh, sit back and plan to go home. The question is: do you really want to?

 

 

 

Legal Drugs, Or A New, Healthier High

I once knew someone who bought six six packs of Snicker bars, a bottle of Coke and three bottles of strawberry syrup. 

She locked herself in her room and sat there– eating. 

She wasn’t gouging, or bingeing. 

There was something methodical about the way she ate. 

In a span of an hour she would come out thrice as energetic as when she had come in.

She would jump up and down and dance to the music of her time– unconscious of how people looked at her and what they thought. 

It was a beautiful sight to behold– a free spirit, living the dream, loving her life as though she had almost lost it during a point in her existence. 

In the morning she would be dead tired– dizzy, woozy and a bit dazed. 

She would end up going to class late, and risking her chances of dropping out of college. 

But she would get back to it during the evenings. 

The chocolate bars– the syrup– the ice cream– the kisses. 

“I love the high,” she told me. “I love the high.” 

The Wilted Flower

They said she came in voluntarily.

‘She walked in, still smelling of vodka… with a smile on her face and a pouch of thick powder in her satchel. She didn’t struggle when we took them away from her; she just stood: smiling, and looking forward… as though someone else was there beyond us.’

Things got worse in the evening when the sound of her tears filled the narrow hallways. In between she would scream the names of those that had left her behind in Haight to ‘die’, when in truth they had left her in the LSD clinic, to be treated by the doctors who wanted to know more about the disillusioned hippies.

That was what she was: a disillusioned hippie. The death of the summer of love had in her eyes, killed the ideologies she had left her life behind for. There was no more need to spread the word, she thought… no more turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. But there was nothing more she could do.

LSD had changed her for the worse, and she needed help. That was why she came, ready and willing to wear the hospital whites of a patient at the Thebault Center and to learn more about what had turned her crazy.

“There is no cure,” the doctor tells me as I watch her sit and sketch. “It’s gotten worse.”

“Will she need to stay here forever?”

“I’m afraid the escalation in her mental inabilities will not deem her fit to return to society,” the doctor replied. “I don’t think we can afford to see her run straight into a speeding car just because she thought it was her missing ‘self’.”

I nod, my head down as I try not to catch her eye. “Thank you for your time, doctor.”

I walk out with my head down and my eyes fixed on the door. I take out my keys and step into the car, turning on the ignition as I close the door and prepare to drive away.

Tomorrow, I will see her for the first time and sit with her.

We will play with toy dolls and draw photos of the summer in Haight.

The doctor tells me they have purchased crayons in the tie-dye shades that she loves.

I smile.

Tomorrow will be beautiful, and I’m proud.