New York-based Pinoy Bartender Shows MasterChef Skills at New BGC Resto

Francis Balbarin, New York-based Filipino bartender takes over James and Daughters kitchen


There is a new restaurant in BGC called James & Daughters.

It is by the same group that created Le Jardin. But chef-owner Jonas Ng emphasizes that this time around, he is just cooking from the heart; no more stuffy classic fine dining frou frou recipes. “This is me,” he says. The restaurant serves “no borders cuisine”.

The place is beautifully designed, with touches of the old Le Jardin, like the faux balconies. There is one private dining room and high seats for those who care to just drink.

Best of all, there is parking!

If you would like to check it out, it is on the side of Essensa.


NYC Bartender Proves Kitchen Skills

But here’s the thing: I did not go to check out Jonas Ng – though I will definitely come back to try his new style and see how he is flexing his kitchen muscles this way.

In fact I had not heard of James & Daughters before my friend of 14 years (since my sabbatical in NYC) Francis Balbarin told me about it because he was doing a pop-up at the resto and cooking a full 8-course dinner for the first time for a public Manila audience.

I always knew that Francis can cook and cook well. After all, he co-founded Burgers & Brewskies in BGC. And truth be told, the B&B hits are his recipes: the Walk of Shame, a huge burger with a sunny side up egg on the top toast; the Call the Nurse burger, a burger with mac & cheese alongside the patty between the buns; and the Cuban Missile corn on the cob, inspired by the corn on the cob of Cafe Habana on Prince Street, one of our favorite hang outs back in the day in New York, even if the line was horrendous.

Francis Balbarin, whom we fondly call Kiko, executes an excellent 8-course dinner at James & Daughters
New York-based bartender Francis Balbarin, whom we fondly call Kiko, executes an excellent 8-course dinner at James & Daughters

Bartender Cooks Like A MasterChef

I was blown away, though, by how much he has improved as a cook. He could very well compete with today’s top restaurateurs in the industry.

Dinner started with grilled octopus with arugula and patani. But my I was especially impressed by the second starter: Kitayama beef heart and rib eye tartare with quail egg. It’s hard to find good tartare in Manila, a dish that is harder to execute than it seems (Tonyboy Escalante still makes the best but you have to go all the way to Antonio’s Fine Dining in Tagaytay). And I loved the incorporation of ox hearts into the dish.

His third dish, thanks to the Tiger Milk Gang’s campaign, was the ever-trendy ceviche. Francis used barramundi and scallops for the most part. It was beautifully seasoned with fresh lime juice and cilantro, as is the usual case, and Francis added kaffir leaves for character. But I also loved how he added white corn for texture, sweet potato to contrast the acidity, mango for some sweetness, and on top just a snip of barramundi skin for crunch. It was a very cohesive ceviche and every bite was pleasurable.

His fourth dish, dedicated to his lovely wife Mayone, was likewise exceptional: squid ink pasta because it is one of her favorite dishes. But Francis upped his squid ink pasta game by using shallots, anchovies, and (best of all!) taba ng talangka for his pasta sauce. And then the dish was finished with lemongrass “para mawala umay”, he explained. It was so good, I could have finished a larger bowl of it.

This was followed by duck, which reaped the approval of Swiss-trained French cooking expert Aleth Ocampo. And a little piece of pork with the crunchiest skin. Then, finally, two courses of elaborate desserts, such as a dalandan ice cream with strawberry coulis, meringue and a rosemary parfait, all in one plate.

Pop Up

It was a really great, well thought out menu and you could see Francis’ passion for cooking with every dish.

Unfortunately, Francis does not have a restaurant with such dishes on display just yet. He is in fact going back to New York in a few days to continue his bartending career.

Hopefully, we can convince him to come to Manila more often and do more of these dinners!

Happy tummies with (standing) Francis Balbarin (in the bandana) and Jonas Ng of James & Daughters.
Happy tummies with (standing) Francis Balbarin (in the bandana) and Jonas Ng of James & Daughters.

In the meantime, check out these upcoming events at James & Daughters:

January 18 – Salsa Night with Don Papa Rum

January 25 – Jazz Night with Ferdie Borja

February 7 – Blues Night

February 13 – Singles Night


James & Daughters by Le Jardin. G/F Westin Residences Manila Sonata, 21st Dr., Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. +63 917 817 6584. Open Monday – Sunday, 11 am to 3 pm and 6 pm to 11 pm. 


A Symphony of Wine: Chateauneuf du Pape at Antonio’s in Tagaytay

Margaux Salcedo appreciating Chateauneuf du Pape

I had the pleasure of being invited by Wine Depot for an evening of wine and classical music at the exceptional fine dining restaurant Antonio’s in Tagaytay over the weekend.

Almost a hundred guests were personally welcomed by Wine Depot Philippines owner Brett Tolhurst and lovely wife Hazel at Wine Depot on N. Garcia (formerly Reposo). We enjoyed some champagne before boarding the coasters where more champagne was served (!) on the way to Tagaytay.

The lovely Hazel Tolhurst of Wine Depot Philippines welcoming guests to the Symphony of Wine Dinner 2017
The lovely Hazel Tolhurst of Wine Depot Philippines welcoming guests to the Symphony of Wine Dinner 2017
Champagne at Wine Depot ReposoChampagne at Wine Depot Reposo
How cute are these tiny bottles of our welcome champagne? I was tempted to drink it straight from the bottle! Perfect too for the cooler on the bus on the way to Tagaytay!

It was such a joy to visit Antonio’s in Tagaytay again. It has always been one of my favorite restaurants in the Philippines, a true example of fine dining and it was great to see that its charm is as enigmatic as ever.

The Symphony of Wines 2017 dinner was held at the award-winning fine dining restaurant of Tonyboy Escalante, Antonio's in Tagaytay.
The Symphony of Wines 2017 dinner was held at the award-winning fine dining restaurant of Tonyboy Escalante, Antonio’s in Tagaytay.

Dinner included Chef Tonyboy’s much loved classics. We started with the Black Prawn Nori Arugula, with greens fresh from the Antonio’s farm next door, of course, and the most juicy prawns in Metro Manila. This was followed by a truly succulent mushroom broth whose aroma and taste reminded one of why Tonyboy Escalante is regaled as Manila’s best chef.

The palate cleanser of Mango Sorbet had my tablemate Simon Cote, formerly of Shangrila, nodding in amazement. “This is really good!” And the Rougie Canard Leg Confit reminded me of the good ol’ days when we would drive all the way to Tagaytay just to taste the duck at this restaurant.

Tonyboy Escalante's classic menu at Antonio's in Tagaytay
Tonyboy Escalante’s classic menu at Antonio’s in Tagaytay paired with Ogier wines.

Dinner was paired with Ogier wines: Cotes du Rhone blanc, Ogier Lirac, Ogier Gigondas Rouge, Ogier Heritages Chateauneuf-du-Pape Red and Clos de L’Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge.

The Cotes du Rhone blanc and Lirac have both won Gold at the Concourse International de Lyon while the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge won Gold at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

The blanc is a nice and easy white, perfect to start off a simple dinner. Wine connoisseurs describe it as having a “fresh, long, minty fruit finish”. The Lirac, which is a village in Chateauneuf du Pape, is relatively new, created in 1980 and called the “baby Chateauneuf”. It is comprised of what the producers call GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) as well as Cinsault. While an easy wine, it has a long vanilla flavor on the finish.

The Gigondas Rouge (Gigonas is another village) is also a GSM. Princess Tenajeros, Export Manager of AdVini, explained that because the terroir Gigondas has more altitude, this wine is more concentrated than the Lirac, with a lot of fruitiness.

Ogier wines were served by Wine Depot at the Symphony of Wines at Antonio's in Tagaytay.
Ogier wines were served by Wine Depot at the Symphony of Wines at Antonio’s in Tagaytay.

My favorite for the night was the Ogier Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015. After the dinner, I checked Vivino and was happy to see that it had a 4/5 rating. Some give the tip to have it in 5 years yet. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, it is described by Wine Depot as “brooding black fruits … (with) fruity, spicy and complex layers of flavor” and having “sweet red cherry aromas”. A reviewer at Vivino observed it as fruit forward, with a pronounced sweetness, a “cool grenache nose” and a surprisingly supple finish.

What makes this wine even more interesting, though, I learned after chatting with Princess, is that the wine is named “du Pape” because the Chateauneuf du Pape commune was where the summer palace of the Pope was in the 14th century, just an hour from Avignon. There is actually a ruined medieval castle that still exists above the village which was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes to reside in Avignon. Possibly as an ode to this memory, the label of the Chateauneuf du Pape, which makes reference to the castle for the Pope, has not been changed since 1926!

Ogier Clos de L'Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
Ogier Clos de L’Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge

After dinner, where the stars of the show were the wines, we walked to the beautiful gardens of Antonio’s where the stars were two opera singers, graduates of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) accompanied by a 10-piece orchestra from the Manila Symphony Orchestra. It was just magical. I had never seen Antonio’s closed for an event or the garden closed for an event. It was so beautiful. It rained, though, so we had to transfer to the Cabana. Which I think was a blessing in disguise because the acoustics got better.

It was truly a magical evening! I may have finished this magnum … shhh!

And I definitely made new friends, which is always wonderful 🙂

Simon Cote and Niguel Arevalo at the Wine Depot's Symphony of Wine 2017.
Niguel Angelo of Wine Depot and Simon Cote, who will be in charge of the expansion of Wine Depot to spirits
Simon Cote from Quebec and Princess Tenajeros from HK at the Wine Depot's Symphony of Wine 2017.
Simon Cote from Quebec and Princess Tenajeros from HK at the Wine Depot’s Symphony of Wine 2017.

Congratulations on another successful wine and opera event, Wine Depot! Hopefully, another one next year? 🙂

Pottery by Aleth Ocampo

My friend Aleth Ocampo, known for her insanely addictive chocolate chip cookies and private dining savvy, has gotten obsessed with pottery. Her hobby has blossomed into a collection and she now has an ongoing exhibit at Aphro Living at The Alley in Pasong Tamo. I had seen bits and pieces of work but never all together; so I was blown away by how beautifully the collection has grown.

Here are some of her works:

This is the mug I bought. Love how its beauty grows on u. Love that handle too.

Her collection still available at Aphro Living.

New Baguio Find: Nepalese Resto on Outlook Drive

half & half interiors, baguio restaurant, nepalese cuisine, nepalese art, ganesha, chicken curry, twakka makai, momo, basmati rice

When Hill Station’s Mitos Benitez Yñiguez recommends a restaurant in Baguio for you to try, you try it.

I was delighted to hear that there is a new guy in town, a half-Nepalese, half-Filipino fellow named Julian Shakya who, with partner Bernie Figer, opened this Nepalese restaurant on Outlook Drive.


When I was told the name of the restaurant, though, the first thing that crossed my mind was the creamer that my aunt in Ohio loves to put in her coffee – Half & Half. Mitos was like, “I know” – on the name of the resto. But says it’s because half of the resto is a bar or becomes a bar at night.

When you enter the resto, though, there will be no mistaking that it is Nepalese.


The first thing I noticed were the figurines on the wall near where we were seated:

Checking out new restaurant Half & Half with my kumare Aleth Ocampo, creator of the very popular Aleth's Kitchen chocolate chip cookies and taba ng talangka. Sister of Ambeth Ocampo. Suki of Better Dog. Mom of Chowee the Chowchow.
Checking out new restaurant Half & Half with my kumare Aleth Ocampo (Ninang of my furkid Stardust), creator of the very popular Aleth’s Kitchen chocolate chip cookies and taba ng talangka.

I was also drawn to this half-elephant, half-clown art. I did a quick Wiki and realized that this may be an artistic tribute to Ganesha, “a Hindu deity widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom”.

Then near the balcony is this carving that just makes you think of your own yoga goals:

Ganesh, kamasutra, nepalese art, nepalese faith, hindi, baguio restaurant
Left: Art tribute to Ganesha? Right: Yoga goals.

As usual, I wanted to try everything on the menu.


We started with something that was being offered for free if you like the resto’s Facebook page. It gave us a good laugh because it’s called MOMO. I told my friend, “Mag Like tayo para libreng MomoL!” (Gen-X code for Make Out Make Out Lang). Momo is apparently a popular dumpling in Nepal, sometimes stuffed with pork, sometimes fish, sometimes beef. My friend noted that it is similar to the dumpling in Molo soup. Perhaps we got that influence from Nepal? (Or vice versa?)

Momo, Nepalese cuisine, Baguio restaurants, dumplings.
Momo, a Nepalese delicacy.

Then we started officially with a most unique appetizer. This would have been great, too, at night, with an ice cold bottle of beer: fried corn! But without the husk. We loved this.

Twakka Makai. A special deep-fried corn mixed with onions, cilantro and spices. Baguio, Nepalese restaurant, Margaux Salcedo, Julian Shakya.M
Menu favorite of mine: Twakka Makai. A special deep-fried corn mixed with onions, cilantro and spices.

Next we had the Nepali Vegetable Chowmein. Vegetable because we already had pork and chicken for the other items we ordered. This was like … pancit LOL. I wasn’t too sold on this. I guess you need to be craving pancit. Or maybe I have a bias for Filipino-Chinese pancit! LOL.

Nepali Chowmein


I truly enjoyed the sauces, though. First, the dip that came with the Momo. And then the sauce of the chicken curry (don’t order the solo it’s so bitin; order the one good enough for two, anyway the prices are super reasonable). This is especially good with that Basmati rice if you’ve had too much to drink the night before, hehehe!

Finally, since, you know, Baguio, the best part about the restaurant is the VIEW. This was the view while we ate …

And then there’s this incredible deck …

We were given the best tip by Mitos: come early. We arrived at 11:30 and service was fast. By noontime, though, the place was full and the restaurant had to manage the influx of customers. And this was on a non-peak weekend.

Finally, we got a great laugh off the neighboring cafe, Le Vain. There is a New York bakery named Levain that makes amazing, to-die-for chocolate chip cookies (among other cookes). I guess this is the Baguio version!

Overall it was a great find and, as a lover of curries, I’d like to come back to try out more items on the menu!


5 Ways the Dialog Oven Will Change Cooking Forever

Miele's Dialog Oven. Photo by Philippine food writer Margaux Salcedo for

When Miele says that their latest creation, the Dialog Oven, is revolutionary, they are not exaggerating.

Here are 5 ways the Dialog Oven will change cooking forever:

1. Food will now be cooked using energy penetrating it all throughout, all at the same time, unlike current ovens where heat struggles from outside the ingredient to its center

Miele uses something called Volumetric Cooking. As opposed to the traditional ovens where heat makes its way from the outside of the item being cooked, making its way to the center of the ingredient, the Dialog Oven, using very intelligent antennae has energy penetrating the item being cooked from all around and all throughout the ingredient.

This means that the outside of the ingredient – be it meat or vegetables or whatever other food – will not have its outer layers melt or burn before its center or the inside of the ingredient is cooked.

So no more worrying about food that is too hot on the inside yet still raw or freezing in the center.

To demonstrate the technology at the world premiere, Miele placed a piece of fish inside a block of ice with walls (of ice) over an inch thick.

Miele Dialog Oven world premiere demo

Wonder of wonders, the fish inside the ice was cooked – without the ice melting!


2. Various ingredients like vegetables and meat will no longer have to be cooked separately.

Miele Dialog Oven world premiere demo of cooking salmon. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for at the premiere also demonstrated how a) one piece of fish can be cooked just one side, without touching the other side; and b) various ingredients like veal and vegetables can be cooked at the same time.

Salmon slices were placed in the oven, half covered in foil. After the plugged in amount of time, the part wrapped in foil remained raw, just thawed out properly, ready to be eaten ceviche-style; and the other half was fully cooked. And properly cooked at that.

I always have that problem with cooking fish wherein the inside is raw while the outside is already overcooked. The Miele Dialog Oven will change that! Again, because of the volumetric technology – cooking is no longer down from the outside going in but all throughout all at once.

3. Soggy food will be a thing of the past

Two frozen cakes. One was placed in a microwave oven to thaw; another was placed in the Dialog Oven. The one placed in the microwave oven melted (picture below, cake on the right). The one placed in the Dialog oven came out just perfect, as if it was just freshly made (picture below, left).

Also, recall how the fish in the ice block was cooked without melting the ice at all. The Dialog Oven is so smart that it detects the item that it needs to cook and has the capacity to ignore the ice.

That’s M Chef technology for you!

4. No more need to constantly check if your meat is cooking properly.

As demonstrated, you just need to plug in the kind of meat, weight, and preferred doneness … and the machine will think about the rest for you!

The veal that was served to us, cooked in the Dialog Oven wrapped in beeswax, was a perfect medium. So tender, so delicious.

5. Millennials rejoice! You can cook using your mobile phone.

Sonja Celik, product manager of the Dialog Oven, explained to me that there is now also a Miele Recipe App. This has hundreds of developed recipes; as well as the possibility of uploading new recipes. Then with just a touch of the “Send to Appliance” button, all the details will be sent to the Dialog Oven, and once your ingredients are the oven, just press and play!

Just like that, dinner is served.

Isn’t it truly revolutionary?


The Dramatic World Premiere of Miele’s Revolutionary Dialog Oven

I am so excited to share with you all the latest creation of Miele that was launched just last week in Berlin.

There were only two of us from the Philippines to witness this. I thought I would be going alone so I was truly happy to find myself with another Filipina, blogger/entrepreneur Grace Baja of the blog The Spoiled Mummy and Grace Home Manila, who is an endorser of Miele appliances in Manila. (Thanks for this photo, Grace!!)

Straight from our 15 hour flight to Berlin, we were brought to the Bolle Festsäle, the venue for the world premiere of Miele’s latest creation.

We were welcomed with champagne and an announcement of our arrival, flashed on the wall. Talk about making everyone feel like a star.

Then there was the dramatic welcoming of the world premiere’s hosts: Dr. Reihnard Zinkann (left; executive director and co-proprietor of Miele), Dr. Markus Miele (center; executive director and co-proprietor and, most notably, the great-grandson of Carl Miele, who 115 years ago founded the brand) and Dr. Axel Kniehl (right, executive director Miele).

Then we were asked to take our seats … and found our names by way of these uber cool place cards – our names in lights! Or as the millennials say – LIT!

Stoked to have been seated beside the charming Syndy Neo, Miele’s Managing Director for Singapore and Malaysia, and at the corner taking pics is Evelyn Chen, Regional Chair for Asia of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.


And now … the great reveal by no less than our hosts, Dr. Reihnard Zinkann (left) and Dr. Markus Miele (center), owners of Miele, and Dr. Axel Kniehl, executive director Miele. Listen:

This latest revolutionary creation of Miele will change our lives “to easily and reliably achieve astonishing and perfect results in our kitchens. Meat is going to be cooked more evenly and stays succulent. Fish and vegetables retain their fine structures and natural flavors. And dough rises much better while baking.” (!!!)

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting THE DIALOG OVEN.

Read all about it in my next post:



Beautiful Proposal Atop The Eiffel Tower

Nico Garcia, Goldee Salcedo, Proposal, Eiffel Tower, Le Jules Verne

Nico Garcia, Goldee Salcedo, Proposal, Eiffel Tower, Le Jules VerneI have the honor of announcing the engagement of Makati Congressional bet and 3-term Magallanes Councilor Nico Garcia to the gorgeous and gregarious entrepreneur/baker/leadership and management trainer and consultant/supersister/superdaughter/supergirl Goldee Salcedo.

Finally! 🙂

Nico and Goldee have been a couple for eight years running. After keeping everyone in suspense, both heaven and earth are rejoicing that they are finally to be wed!

Nico proved to be a true romantic and proposed in no less than the Eiffel Tower in the City of Love.

Unbeknownst to Goldee, Nico followed us to Europe and was to surprise her at dinner on our first evening in Paris.

And surprise he did!

We were so lucky to get reservations at Le Jules Verne, the incomparable Michelin-starred restaurant of culinary legend Chef Alain Ducasse in the Eiffel Tower. (Chika lang – this was the same restaurant where Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes … and the same restaurant where French President Emmanuel Macron brought US President Donald Trump when Trump visited Paris for Bastille Day just this July.)

Once we were seated at our table, Nico snuck up behind Goldee to give her flowers … and an engagement ring!

The gentlemen over at Le Jules Verne (thank you, Monsieurs Didi and Jean Jacques!), The Duchess and I “collaborated” like millennials and got it all on video:

Look at their beaming smiles after the proposal … Goldee will kill me for posting that lower pic because her eyes are closed but it’s the one that shows how deliriously happy she was!

Goldee Salcedo, Nico Garcia, Eiffel Tower, Engagement, LoveRead the full story in today’s First Class in the Inquirer:

Margaux Salcedo, First Class, Inquirer column, food writer, Philippines, Nico Garcia, Goldee Salcedo, engagement, Le Jules Verne, Alain Ducasse, Michelin, Eiffel Tower, proposal, Tom CruiseHere’s the link:

Congratulations, Goldee and Nico!


A Very Long Thank You Note from Ephraim’s Angels <3

WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THOSE WHO JOINED US IN REMEMBERING DAD on the occasion of his first year anniversary in Heaven.

June 21, 2016 was when my dad, Ephraim Salcedo,  joined His Creator.

In the days that followed his passing, while I experienced grief for the first time and finally understood what the word meant – you never do until you lose a loved one (!) – we also experienced a tremendous outpouring of love and friendship for my dad and for each member of our family that brought comfort and even joy to our hearts, in spite of our grief.

On June 21 this year, we felt this outpouring of love again as we hosted a Memorial Service and dinner to remember dad and commemorate what Filipinos call his “babang luksa” (the end of the grieving period). The Union Church chapel and Fellowship Hall was filled with family and friends, all showing and sharing their love for dad Ephraim and our family, again eclipsing our grief.

While I join my sister Goldee in saying that our grieving cycle will probably never end when it comes to my dad, we take comfort in the words of our officiating Pastor Noah Kennedy, who noted that we grieve with hope.

In fact, we grieve … with gratitude.
Because dad died … with faith.
And so he lives … with love … in Jesus Christ and in our hearts.


The Jamoras

First of all, thank you to Dr. Eduardo Jamora, our other Superman.

Dr. Jamora is the country’s No. 1 pulmonologist. At almost 80, he still holds clinic and makes rounds at Makati Medical Center, mentoring interns, residents and fellows, and being on top of every medical situation that he is presented with. He is also proud father to restaurateur Gary Jamora, finance guy Carlos Jamora, and lawyer Jon Jamora, who also joined us Wednesday night. Thank you, Jamoras, for always being there for us! ❤ (In the top picture, Dr. Jamora gamely wears my dad’s hat!)


Dr. Batara

We would also like to thank Dr. Julette Feliciano Batara for joining us as we remembered dad.

Dr. Batara was an answered prayer.

Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014. Dr. Jamora, then our lead doctor, called in hematologist Dr. Rosalio Torres, with Dr. Claver Ramos (“kailangan natin siya even if your dad’s kidneys are okay kasi genius ‘yun eh,” Dr. Jamora explained), Dr. Von Gonda (the best cardio to my mind, may he rest in peace) replaced by Dr. Anthony King to watch dad’s heart, Dr. Aragon to keep his sugar in check, Dr. Lu for pain management. That was in March 2014. By October, dad was driving again, traveling to Mindoro, joining his BMI friends on his own (we were so nervous we would literally stalk him to check if he was wearing his mask!). We had a wonderful Christmas as he was pronounced clear of the lymphoma!

By May of 2015, however, the lymphoma had come back, this time breaking the blood brain barrier and entering dad’s brain. The doctors at MMC said that we needed to deal with just palliative care (hate that word – palliative! – sounds like the end of hope!). But our hema-onco cousin from the US said that according to his mentor, there was a new procedure using high dose methotrexate that they were using in the US. Our doctors in MMC, however, refused to perform this because of the toxicity of methotrexate. We were lost as we could not find a doctor who would perform this procedure.

At this time, very randomly, my lawyer friend Atty. Jojo Bondoc invited me to lunch with a visiting priest from the Padre Pio Chapel in San Giovanni. Would I help them spread the word on their efforts for another Padre Pio Chapel in the Philippines. Of course, I said, with pleasure! A few days later, they very generously brought a Padre Pio relic to our house, and my dad, who is a staunch Presbyterian who refuses to step inside the Catholic Church, let alone believe in the communion of saints, joined us in prayer with the relic, asking Padre Pio to intervene.

A few days after that, we were in Baguio, where we were visited at The Manor by our neurologist family friend, the best friend of my mom’s sister, Dr. Ina Hernandez. She said, have you consulted with a neuro oncologist? We had, all this time, been in search of a hema onco who would perform the procedure. She suggested Dr. Batara. Turns out, Dr. Batara’s specialty was just that – high dose methotrexate. And even if all our doctors were in Makati Med and she practiced everywhere else (PGH, St Luke’s, UERM), she welcomed dad as a patient.

Thank you, Dr. Batara, for taking care of dad and for continuing to be there for us!


Mindoro Shepherds

Thank you to the Mindoro Shepherds for coming all the way from Mindoro Oriental!

The Mindoro Shepherds is an organization of professionals and businessmen in Mindoro Oriental founded by my father, Ephraim Salcedo, with founding members Mindoro Bulletin publisher Joe Leuterio, former Judge Godogredo Hernandez, and Pola native and Pinamalayan Judge Harry Jaminola, among others. Other notable members are businessman Sonny Alcancia and restaurateur and resort owner Dennis Alcancia from Calapan. They traveled all the way from Mindoro and also immediately went back after dinner – just for dad’s Memorial Service! Talk about true friends!

Special mention to Tito Joe Leuterio, who surprised us with this giant tarpaulin of dad. He lost sleep choosing the photos for this tarpaulin. And decided to have a life-sized photo of dad printed. Look, Tito Joe, you made dad come alive at this party with this tarpaulin, with everyone having their pictures taken with him!!


Baguio Military Institute

Thank you to the Cadets of the Baguio Military Institute for being there, too!

From the final salute at dad’s wake and funeral to this Memorial Service, thank you for always being there for Dad 🙂


St. Paul Class of ’67

My mom, Carmelita “Baby” Salcedo, a Paulinian, met my dad while in high school – my dad danced in mom’s cotillion when she turned 18! – so her high school friends have been in on their love story. They also came in full force to the Memorial Service and Dinner.




As for me, I would like to thank my own high school friends for being there for me 🙂 And also to business strategist Joseph de Leon, who generously offered his driver to send food to Stardust at Better Dog because I was busy entertaining guests!


Magallanes 9 o’ Clock Church Group

A big hug as well to our Catholic Church Family from “The 9 o’ Clock Church Group” – Susan de Asis, Ryan Vergara, Nico Garcia (thank you for the super yummy paella!). An extra huge THANK YOU especially to stylist and style icon Pia Garovillo Vergara for being so generous with her talent on the keyboard and playing the piano for the Memorial Service. Missing Tita Mom Loudette Magsino, Father Benny Tuazon, and Tito Anton+ in heaven.


Tap Room

Another “family” I must thank is our Tap Room/jazz “family”.

I started singing at the Tap Room around 5 years ago (I haven’t gone back since dad passed) thanks to Philippine-International Jazz Festival founder Sandra Lim Viray. She introduced me to the living legend jazz artists of today such as pianist Maestro Romy Posadas, bassist Colby dela Calzada and her husband, drummer Jun Viray. Through her I also met a singer I so admire, the elegant Megan Herrera. In dad’s last few years, Tap Room became a huge bonding session for all of us. He never missed a show. He came even when he could no longer walk and had to go in a wheelchair. But he always sang. The regulars at the Tap Room were dad, legendary editor and opinion writer Neal Cruz, and former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.  Thank you, Tap Room family, for the music! And extra thank yous to Maestro Romy Posadas who played during dinner even if he was already so tired from his gig at Raffles earlier that afternoon! So honored to have a legend at our dinner!



Thank you for the music shout out also to my Vargas cousins!

When we were kids, our parents would pressure us to sing at every opportunity. Every family gathering had a “program program” after dinner. I think it paid off! My cousin Maria Celedonia Vargas Franco – Maricel to us, Cel to her friends – pursued music, graduated Cum Laude from the UP Conservatory of Music, joined and toured the world with the Madrigal Singers, and now has her own music school! She helped me get the notes right to The Lord is My Shepherd by Goodall, which we just all sang for the first time that evening! Thank you also to Bunny Vargas Unlayao and Caron Vargas Cruz who found the time to sing with me and Goldee in spite of their hectic schedules as executives!

I had actually asked Maricel if I could hire a quartet of Madrigal alumni but they were not available. It was a blessing in disguise because it all turned out more poignant and meaningful, with us cousins coming together again to sing for dad 🙂

Thank you, cousins! Really meant a lot to us!

Thank you to the Vargas family for also coming in full force. My mom has 6 siblings. And they always come together. My grandparents “Mamang” (Rosario Reyes Vargas) and “Papang” (Alfredo Deles Vargas) would be so proud. The Vargases have shown us what family is all about. It’s about being there for each other. Through thick and thin. And always encouraging each other for the best, but still being there to lean on during the worst. So blessed to be a part of such a loving family!

Thank you, especially, to Tita Cory (Socorro Franco) for the flowers for dad!


Lechon Baka

The Memorial Service was followed by dinner where we served a hearty menu with porchetta, Iberian chicken and paella negra by my favorite caterer White Linen. But someone stole the spotlight from the food spread: lechon baka from one of my dad’s best friends, Erap. The Memorial Service coincided with the beauty pageant Ms. Manila that the Mayor of Manila could not miss … but his representative, the baka, was very much welcome!

Union Church of Manila

Most of all, thank you to the Union Church of Manila.

Our roots in UCM run deep. My grandmother, Salamia “Sally” Salcedo, a graduate of the UP Conservatory of Music and choir conductor, was once upon a time a conductor for the UCM choir. I remember my dad serving as usher during church service when we were kids. (Goldee, whom we tease is his “junior” now serves as an usher on some Sundays as well!) Goldee and I went to kindergarten at the Makati International Nursery School (MINS) at the old Union Church building. We received our first bibles from Pastor Darrel Johnson. And my dad was so proud of us being in the children’s choir with Mrs. James.

Dad also made it a point for us never to miss Easter Sunrise Service. We cherish, especially, the Easter Sunrise services held at the American Cemetery. Back then, we would go for breakfast after at the Intercon’s Jeepney Cafe then when the “jeeps” disappeared, the Dulcinea in the old Greenbelt. Or the Pancake House beside it. When Easter Sunrise moved, first to the Makati City Park then to Legazpi Park, we just maintained the “tradition” of eating at Pancake House after. I remember one Holy Week that we spent in Baguio, we left Saturday midnight, in time to catch the Easter Sunrise service! On dad’s last year on earth, when he could hardly stand or walk, I forced him to get up, even fought with him – he was in pain – but in the end, we were able to still catch the Easter Sunrise service as a family, and it really meant a lot to us. This year, our first Easter sunrise without dad, mom and Goldee continued the tradition, while I caught the sunrise at The Manor in Camp John Hay.

It’s just fitting that his own “sunrise” has taken place at UCM.

Thank you to Pastor Noah Kennedy, for having been there when dad breathed his last, at the funeral service, and again at the memorial service. Our family is so grateful for the gift of you!

Thank you to Mrs. Carminda Regala, my mom’s discipleship groupmate, who led us to Pastor Noah as we cried that night in the hospital.

Thank you to Pastor Steve Ruetschle, though he could not be around for the Memorial Service as he is abroad. Dad loved coming to UCM in his last years just to listen to Pastor Steve.

Thank you to mom’s UCM family, her discipleship group, who constantly prayed for dad when he was sick, when he passed on, and who came in full force as well to the memorial.

Thank you to Tita Fely and Liza, and to the UCM engineering and kitchen teams, for helping make our Memorial Service and dinner so easy to organize!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!



Finally, thank you, Daddy 🙂

Thank you for being an ideal dad who loved us unconditionally, moved heaven and earth to give us everything we wanted and beyond, for making us believe that we can achieve anything we set our minds to and for making sure we got equipped with all the tools we would need for success in life. Most of all, thank you for raising us in faith. This is what has helped me most through this “grieving process” – the belief, the conviction, that you are with God, with Jesus.

Happy one year in Heaven!

MISSION: MANILA features Chef Tatung

Mission: Manila, a passion project of mine to promote Filipino chefs, is back, this time featuring Chef Myke Tatung Sarthou.

Chef Tatung, as he is fondly called, is chef-owner of Restaurant Agos in Mall of Asia, a bestselling cookbook author on Filipino food, and the resident chef of the morning show Umagang Kay Ganda.

I was won over by Tatung’s cooking when I ate at his first restaurant, Chef Tatung, in Quezon City. I was one of the first to write about the place, with a review in the Inquirer’s Sunday Inquirer Magazine.

Cut to ten years later and he is among the world’s greatest chefs, speaking at no less than the auditorium of Madrid Fusion!

He is also the first chef to do a four hands dinner in Madrid with renowned Spanish chef Mario Sandoval. (Sandoval did a four hands dinner in Manila at the Peninsula with Chef Myrna Segismundo at the first Madrid Fusion.)

I though, how sad that Filipinos would not be able to taste what Tatung served in Spain.

Fortunately, he agreed to do a revival of that menu.

It’s happening on Tuesday. 🙂


Panagbenga Power at The Manor with Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, Enchong Dee and Bea Alonzo

I always knew that PANAGBENGA was a flower festival. But I never imagined that it would be this elaborate!

It was my first time to attend and I was swept off my feet! It wasn’t so much the variety of flowers as the presentation of the floats that displayed them. Was pleasantly surprised to see floats as big as jeepneys with every last inch of the float covered in flowers or greens!

Here are a few of my favorites:

This one with polar bears complete with sound!

The City of Baguio’s Float

It’s More Fun in the Philippines – The DOT Float 

The Everlasting Monkeys.

Note that the entire monkey is made of Everlasting flowers!

The Green Elephant

The SM Prince and Princess Float

I was also blown away by the costumes of those who walked in the parade depicting flowers! Some of the girls walked the entire stretch of the parade from the Supreme Court compound all the way to past Session Road in heels!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Naaliw din ako sa headdress ng babaeng ito. I’m sure Gina Lopez would approve of her environmentally conscious hat!

The DILG also gave its all-out support to the City of Baguio with no less than DILG Sec. Ismael Sueño and “PNP Dir. Gen. Bato” present:

And the women of the PNP showed full support wearing these native Igorot skirts

The highlight of the parade for residents, though, was the float that carried the love team of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza and for ABS CBN the float that carried Bea Alonzo and Enchong Dee. Bea was amazing in engaging the Baguio audience. The Aldub team was more reserved, just smiling and talking between themselves inside their float.

All the VIPs – Alden, Maine, Bea – stayed at the luxurious hotel The Manor in Camp John Hay where my family also happened to be staying at and guess who got a photo op with “that girl” … my mom got her attention by telling her that we are neighbors in Sta. Maria, Bulacan …

"That girl" - Aldub's Maine Mendoza and my gorgeous Mother, Wonder Woman Carmelita "Baby" Salcedo at The Manor at Camp John Hay
“That girl” – Aldub’s Maine Mendoza and my gorgeous Mother, Wonder Woman Carmelita “Baby” Salcedo at The Manor at Camp John Hay

… we also got to meet the charming General Manager of The Manor, Mr Ramon Cabrera (right). If you want a discount at The Manor, look for him, hehe! But if you are a Smart Infinity user – like me since 2008 – you may not need to make sipsip to Mr Cabrera because The Manor and SMART Infinity have tied up for a special program exclusively for their members. According to Ms Marites Pamintuan, Manor’s Marketing Director: Room rates can get anywhere between a 30% to 50% discount.  Smart Infinity members can redeem and use this promotion for the month of March. They can contact their Concierge directly for their room accommodation.”

The men behind the success of Panagbenga (L-R): Freddie Alquiroz, Co-Chairman; Anthony de Leon, Chairman of the Flower Festival Foundation; Ramon Cabrera, General Manager of The Manor at Camp John Hay
The men behind the success of Panagbenga (L-R): Freddie Alquiroz, Co-Chairman; Anthony de Leon, Chairman of the Flower Festival Foundation; Ramon Cabrera, General Manager of The Manor at Camp John Hay

I am definitely coming back next year!

The Manor at Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay, Loakan Road, Baguio City
Baguio: +6374 424 0931 to 43
Manila: +632 584 4892, +632 584 4911