Friday, August 14, 2009

Unending excess

If we thought the $20,000 Le Cirque fine dining where Senator Lito Lapid complained about the service, too slow and too elegant for his taste and hunger pangs was all there was to the gustatory adventures of Dona Gloria y su esposo in the US of A, here comes the Washington Post no less reporting about a “pig-out” at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse on Fifteenth St., NW, right after Obama allowed a photo-op with the Dona.

It must have been a triumphal blow-out, with Medy Poblador (she is now called Secretary Poblador, what more since she bumped-off no less than Gilbert Teodoro, the Secretary of National Defense and would-be president by their Dona’s benediction) allegedly pulling 15,000 dollars from her handbag to pay. Now that looks like the dinner was charged to Malacanang. Unless Mindoro Occidental’s Girlie Villarosa belatedly claims she used her money. Husband Joe Villarosa, whom her presidenta saved from the slammer, just might get a heart attack if he learns about the tab Girlie “answered for”. No Danny Suarez is she, nor he.

15,000 dollars, in cold cash --- no less, The Washington Post declares. Now that’s neither a gossip paper nor a Moonie-owned broadsheet. Let’ see how Cerge Remonde will attack the credibility of the Post, one of the most highly regarded newspapers in the world.

The food was more familiar to Lito Lapid, perhaps enough to mollify his hurt at not being seen or photographed with Barack Obama, his one and only reason for tagging along. Sixty five to seventy dollar steaks (3,200 pesos more or less) are about the price of a steak at El Esposo’s favourite Tsukiji in Pasay Road, except that Bobby Van’s serves them huge and thick, while Tsukiji’s are thinner. I wonder if Surigao’s Lalo Matugas found the lobsters as fresh and succulent as the ones they have in Dapa or General Luna in Siargao.

What was so scandalous for Washington observers was the number of gluttons who pigged-out on steak (wonder how many ordered theirs “well-done”, he, he, he) --- 63 free loaders with the President and First Gentleman of this hunger-driven Fourth World Country, that their ill-advised Barack Obama gave audience upon the ministrations of Hillary Clinton’s staff, in turn through the spadework of Ronnie the Tree’s friends. My, not even Nicholas Sarkozy and beautiful Carla Bruni would have brought such a large entourage of hangers-on. Pardon me, Nicky and Carla would never, never, dine at Bobby Van’s. Even a more plebeian Au Pied de Cochon would be more suitable for the loving couple. (Sorry, dear readers, for one week of articles about food and travel. It’s broadening though, literally and figuratively.)

Now will Malacanang please tell the public who pigged-out at Bobby Van’s? At Le Cirque, a group of 25 chalked up a bill of a million pesos, 40 thousand apiece, enough to buy pag-pag for all the residents of Payatas for perhaps a year. Yes pag-pag, and if either Cerge or Lorelie or even their new spokesman, Romy Makalintal do not know what pag-pag means, I suggest they ask Arnold Clavio of GMA-7, who did an excellent, if heart-rending expose on how the poorest of our poor survive on fast-food kitchen left-overs.

Grabe! Imelda Romualdez used to be excoriated for flying to Hong Kong at a whim, because of a craving for sharks’ fin or roast goose, even birds’ nest double-boiled in black chicken broth. But now, a party of footloose officials fly halfway through the globe, almost 20 hours away by jet from Manila, just to pig-out on steak, and suffer the “slow” service of haute cuisine. Even Marie Antoinette would have gone pale with envy.

Of course, Imelda’s nephew by brother Kokoy is back in step with the new powers-that-be, this Gloria woman who wants to ape her husband Ferdinand. What is it with this branch of the Romualdez family that sets them so apart from the Marcoses of Ilocos in propriety and good sense? So what else is new? The unending excess is all so familiar. Back to the early 80’s for this benighted land.

But there is talk that Ferdinand Martin, Kokoy’s son, is just a fall guy, and the one who really paid Le Cirque for the 20,000 dollar tab was an otherwise parsimonious Cebuano businessman, a dear, dear friend of Dona Gloria y su esposo. Will she and her esposo refund him for the bill? Or is that part of representation expense for some new deals?

Imagine the total cost of the abbreviated White House hegira:

Payable to Lucio Tan’s PAL – All of first-class and business class, plus half of coach; Manila-Vancouver 29 July, 2009;

Payable to Lucio Tan’s PAL – Charter service from Vancouver to Washington D.C., thence DC to NY; thence New York to San Francisco, and San Francisco back to Manila, 04 August, arriving Manila 05 August 3:23 a.m., in turn for a seven-minute visit in the Manila Cathedral, sneaking in “like a thief in the night”. Don’t forget the humongous “parking fees” at the tarmac of JFK International. Or maybe Newark, which is perhaps a tad cheaper?

Willard Hotel presidential suite plus fifty de luxe rooms and junior suites, including breakfast, lunches, snacks, coffee and tea. Tips, generous, but naturally.

Limousine service in Washington DC, and tips, naturally once more.

Waldorf Astoria presidential suite (no less than 3,500 dollars, plus plus). And about forty de luxe rooms as well as junior suites (some cabinet members had left after Washington DC), each at an average of 900 dollars per, and breakfasts, snacks, plus plus. Not to forget the generous tips, but naturally.

Stretch-limo service while in the Big Apple.

How much was the “donation” for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on the fashionable Fifth Avenue, such that no less than the Cardinal himself said Holy Mass? Maganda ring photo-op ‘yun to complement a fruitless visit. Don’t ask Archbishop Oscar Cruz, or Bishop Soc Villegas, or even Archbishop Lagdameo.

And what about the envelopes, for each and every member of the presidential party, including those congressmen (excepting Danny Suarez and Martin Romualdez, of course) so they could shop at Bloomingdale’s on the Fifth or cheaper Macy’s in Lower Manhattan? How much each, Medy? Sixty envelopes with 5,000 dollars inside? Or 3,000 only, in keeping with the “bad times”?

All these for a photo op, and a lousy single question in an 8-minute press conference at the White House, with Rey Langit asking about Pollyanna’s impressions about the youthful-looking Brown Father, and the Brown Father’s appreciation of the “implants” (?) and it’s implications on Uncle Sam’s coordinator for Asean.

Such unending excess for a “big deal”.

But Medy Poblador flew to Syria, on a top-secret personal mission for Dona Gloria. Poor woman, she could not even bid farewell to her beloved Tita Cory, because she had a message for Assad and some others in Damascus. Urgent and top secret, and no ifs or buts. I’m sure “poor” Medy prayed for Tita Cory when the plane crossed the Sea of Gallilee.


RickyC said...

Its been noted that the more insignificant a world leader is, the bigger their entourage is. As if they were somehow trying to reassure themselves of their importance.

The EQualizer said...


To be fair with Madame, you must compare her eating habits with Barack Obama.Do you remember Obama and Biden eating like ordinary guys at Joe HELL’s Burger? And Barack asking for Dijon Mustard? Isn’t that conduct unbecoming of a president???

At least, our own president had her “table in heaven “in Le Cirque.She did us proud!