Food, Family, Friends, and a Merry Christmas Indeed

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  • Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it.’ Hebrews 13:2

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    My son Junie, his wife Coralyn, their two sons, Monchu and Miggy are home from Vancouver for the holidays! I share the joy of all reunited families this Christmas season!

    Thanks to Philippine Airlines’ straight flight, they had a smooth ride and were able to enjoy a family bonding weekend at Anvaya Cove right after landing.

    It’s the season to forget diets and calories while we seniors still keep an eye on cholesterol and blood sugar levels. But…We want to recommend two restaurants for your savory family reunions.

    Check out XO 46 Heritage Bistro’s (for those who ask, it was so named for “extraordinary” Filipino fine dining and to commemoration the country’s independence from the Americans in 1946) gising gising, ensaladang gubat, fried kare kare, chicken pastel, to-die-for halo-halo, and other yummies at any of their branches located in Valero, Century Mall, Aura, Estancia at Commons, and now at S’Maison at Conrad Hotel. Or you can also take home your favorites.

    Then there’s the bangus restaurant in Greenhills and at Mall of Asia. This resto, now run by my late fried Diana Santamaria’s daughter Nina, offers my favorite bangus dishes and some. There is the crispy pata that falls off the bones, the no-guilt bangus lumpia, boneless sinigang na bangus, bangus in candied sampaloc sauce, pancit bam-i, and other family handaan goodies.

    They have packages for small or big families packed with favorites to include newer dishes in their bento bilao and their crispy pata box to make Christmas yummy-licious!

    As Nina says, “Bangus is where ‘sarap lives’ and we agree. The Filipino classic restaurant has 33 years of making bangus lovers happy and this Christmas is no different. If, like me you, want to order frozen bangus lumpia or chicken relleno for the family reunions, call 02 725 3038 three days before your pick up date.

    Sen. JV Ejercito’s sweet recollections of family reunions during Christmas include noche buena dinners with his mom, San Juan mayor Guia Ejercito, and his siblings. He smacks his lips at the anticipation of favorite dishes, tskolate eh from Batangas, pandesal,and kesong puti.

    The next day, more expanded family reunions with his dad, Manila Mayor Erap Estrada and a slew of relatives. He spends his suspension from his senate work (90 days since November) bonding with family and healing from his torn shoulder injury from his favorite sports-boxing, basketball, golf,—and feasting on his choice holiday dishes. He recently treated his mom to XO Heritage Bistro after he liked the food he had there with some media women. He did not contest his suspension (although he could have had) he said, and took the harsh Ombudsman’s decision without fuss. The amount was miniscule and the offense was to divert his town’s calamity funds to buy guns for policemen. That time, as mayor, he saw the alarming increase in crime in his area, and it was for this emergency situation  his council voted to allot was P3 million to purchasing the needed guns for the police force.

    JV’s advocacies in the senate included pushing for another close look at the use of atomic energy for cleaner power to curtail the country’s carbon emissions. He sees the massive infrastructure and new transportation plans of the Duterte administration as something needing a surge in energy demand

    “The potentials of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in contributing to the achievement of a tiger economy status for the Philippines cannot be ignored. Denying the economy nuclear energy is denying the next generation of Filipinos better economic opportunities.” JV told us over dinner.

    He is concerned too about the backlog of 1.4 million houses for survivors of calamities, homeless people, or those living in houses no longer fit for habitation. The agency projected that the backlog will accumulate to 5.7 million additional houses that need to be built this year. A concerted effort by the government and private sector, and the application of available and new solutions are necessary to address the housing backlog, He added.

    JV suggests issues such as low monthly amortization, livelihood for housing beneficiaries, and incentives for developers to encourage them to undertake socialized housing should be considered.

    The Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing, and Resettlement plays a crucial role in addressing the housing problem through legislation. Its Balanced Housing Program Amendment Act enacted early this year offered, an innovative solution to housing for the urban poor by giving them the chance to own homes in condo buildings and subdivisions. The law also gives a win-win solution to local government units and developers by getting the in-city relocation programs going, and getting tax incentives for condo and subdivision projects in exchange for investments in socialized housing. He noted that very few developers find socialized housing attractive because the process is very long and very tedious. The creation of the proposed Department of Housing could streamline the bureaucracy for faster house production and distribution.

    He was the only senator to join Duterte’s trip to Japan, Sen. JV got first hand information about the possible infrastructure projects of the administration, which would have Japanese funding. This has been helpful in crafting his version of the Traffic Crisis Act needed by the president to solve the traffic crisis in Metro Manila.

    Over-speeding is one of the causes of road accidents in the country and the proposed Speed Limiter Law gives the public a new safeguard against reckless drivers. The introduction of speed limiter devices in public utility vehicles will ensure safer driving and commute on main thoroughfares.

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    Last Wednesday, our Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel media group gave out Exemplar awards to Sen. Cynthia Villar  for her senate work on livelihood, agriculture, education, and free health service for everyone, and  Robert “Bobby” Joseph for being a Hall of Famer in private tourism and a posthumous tribute to our co-founder, journalist Letty J. Magsanoc. The award was accepted by daughter Kara Alikpala, also a freedom and anti-cancer warrior. (mb.com)

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