Last Wednesday we checked in at the La Residencia Al Mar. Actually it was my barkada-since-high school, Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre, who checked in and we Batch '78 girls just sort of tagged along to check out the place, it being the venue of one of our reunion dinners and possible place of stay for some returning classmates next year. Erlyn, Manila-based echocardiologist par excellence and editor of the Philippine Heart Association Newsmagazine, was here to give a lecture on a new drug for hypertension. She is quite a jet-setting doctor, traveling all over the country and also out of the country, to speak on various topics related to cardiology.
After her lecture, we dined at the Don Atilano Restaurant and Erlyn related to us the difficulties of practicing in Metro Manila, number one of which is the horrendous traffic and number two is the oppressive and restrictive politics in some hospitals. But what Erlyn really wanted to talk about was parenting her three, yes three, adopted children, aged 3 to 6, Gabbie, Kurt and Kyle. I wanted to tell her that I've read countless books on the subject matter and am now at "Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?" haha. But someone spotted Erlyn, came over to our table and started a friendly over dinner consult.
I don't know if it was the height of snobbery or if it was the depths of desperation that made me sneak out, get my books from the car and read in the hotel lobby. I will go for desperation as it was quite late already and I had not yet finished my work-related readings for the next day. When the over-dinner consult was over, Erlyn called my cellphone, where was I? I went back and had my blueberry cheesecake. They call it the New York Blueberry Cheesecake. I've never been to NY so I don't know if it is authentic. It certainly has an odd taste and texture, it is hard! Erlyn didn't finish hers as she said it tasted weird. Be that as it may, till the next day I was still craving for more weird-flavored blueberry cheesecake. Zenovia, who just came in from her dancing practice, had a halo-halo and was awed by our discussions. She said they were "deep and profound." Hehe. Yes, Erlyn's a no-nonsense girl, no time to waste on inanities.
Erlyn wanted to talk some more and go suroy a bit around the city, particularly to Dumaguete-based cardiologist Lai's newly built mansion in El Pueblo Genovivo. But I had to sadly decline, it was past ten pm already and I had several chapters to read yet. I promised her though that when she comes back for the Christmas break, we will have our usual morning-the-night talking sessions. Yes, girls can do that. Talk the whole night.
Observations from our checking in to check it out:
1. We dined at the restaurant where our formal dinner is supposed to be held. AND almost everyone there was in jeans. Even if we reserve the whole place and make it exclusive for our batch, long gowns and barongs/suits would still be superfluous for such venue.
2. The food: I liked the cheesecake, Erlyn didn't. Erlyn was not very happy with her sizzling gindara. The serving was too small! Really, it was.
4. The original room given to Erlyn was at the back of the building and it was over the kitchen and it smelled of fish. 'Nuf said. We moved.
3. The new room (on the south wing) was ok, nothing fancy but adequate for sleeping. There was no desk to read on though, so I had to sit on the bed as I read. A difficult situation, the sheets and pillow being so inviting.
1. Perhaps the long gown/barong/suit event has to be rethinked. Change venue or change costume?
2. The gindara was not so satisfying and the halo-halo is not to die for but the other items on their menu are quite good.
3. If you don't like the smell of fish in your hair, don't get a back room. Get a suite room facing the boulevard and the sea, ftw. Naturally, more expensive. Do reserve early as all hotel rooms in the city, and even the resorts in the outskirts of the city, get fully booked every Silliman Founder's Day.