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Posts Tagged ‘Ninoy Roa

“Happy Birthday, Marife !”

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Happy Birthday, Marife !

May 29, 2012

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

The Birthday Girl – Marife Saldana Roa, the birthday girl, opens her birthday cards. The kids and Tito Sam used their best creative efforts to make some birthday cards for the special day. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Marife Saldana was about 14 when she came to Angeles City and her sister, Christy, enrolled her in Dau Academy.

The Sisters — Christy Warren and Marife Saldana Roa, the sisters, talk and joke for a fe moments, before the birthday party gets underay. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I met Marife, when she was the teenager.

Like her friends in the school’s white uniform blouses and required green skirts they talked about the things teenage girls talk about like: boys.

It was the late 1980s, so cell phones had yet to be invented, thus, classmates talked about things on the way to and from school

“Girl Talk” — Pina Gempis and Marife Roa talk in the kitchen. Pina spent the morning, cooking spaghetti and pancit canton for the birthday party. In the Filipino culture, pancit canton is the Filipino dish you expect to find at a birthday party because tradition states that pancit canton is a symbol of a long life. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

and on weekends because “texting” had yet to be invented.

May 29 is Marife’s birthday.

Even as a teenager, Marife had a smile and a quiet personality. In 2012, Marife is married to Ninoy Roa and the mother of four boys: Gilbert, Glen, Chrismar and Mac Mac.

“Happy Birthday to you.” — Christy Warren lights the candles on the birthday cake.
Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Today was a milestone, other than age. The last time Christy bought a birthday cake and had a birthday party for her sister, Marife, she was 16. Christy returned to the Republic of the Philippines in December 2011, and this was the first opportunity, she had to have a birthday party for her sister Marife.

Although Marife Saldana Roa is my sister-in-law, I have always believed, “She is the daughter I should of had.”  As a teenager, Marife was always respectful to her elders, did well in school, and never hesitated to use her English skills to tell me what was going on in school.  As a teenager, she always treated me like a father and since our return to the Philippines, Marife continues to be the daughter I should of had.

The Good Morning Bakery Birthday Cake. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

May 28, Christy went to the “Good Morning Bakery” in Palo and ordered the birthday cake. Christy looked through the pictures of the birthday cakes and picked out the design.  The selection of the birthday cake became a Major Military Operation because I went along to order the birthday cake.  I’m one of those people, who as a child was always “picky” about the kind of food I ate and “where I ate.”  As a senior citizen, I remain “picky” about my food from birthday cakes to anything I eat.

While the bakers were discussing the cake with Christy, I had questions about the size and flavor.  Christy remembered that Marife like vanilla.  One of the baker’s assistants brought out a cake pan to show up the size.  I took one look and figured three people would get birthday cake and everyone else would watch them eat.  I smiled and asked bigger.  The assistant then explained that they had a cake pan about twice the size.  I nodded, “Texas size.”

When selecting the novelty to place on the cake, Christy remembered as a teenager that Marife liked the TV show, “Darna.”  Darna is a Filipino super heroine, whose American counterpart is “Wonder Woman.”  Like “Wonder Woman” in the United States, “Darna” is a character in the Philippines that is always portrayed by the most beautiful Filipina actresses of every generation in the movies and on TV.  Darna has always been a positive role model for Filipina girls.

Back in the 1980s, whenever a Darna TV show or movie came on, I plopped down on the sofa beside Ramon and Marife to watch.  Thus, the Darna super heroine doll stood tall in a corner of the cake.

The Good Morning Bakery birthday cake was pleasing to the eye.  I was impressed by the taste.  The vanilla cake was moist to the tongue.  Regardless of where I have been in the world and had birthday cakes or wedding cakes, one thing I always remember is that sometimes the cakes are dry.

Once the cake comes in contact with your tongue you dash like a man in the desert for the nearest source of liquid to quench your steel wool thirst.  Christy overcomes the dryness problem with cakes by using butter to keep the cake moist.

Christy Warren serves up a helping of birthday cake and pancit canton to Edwin Mora. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I do not know how the Good Morning Bakery kept this cake moist, but it passed my tongue test and I enjoyed the cake.  Naturally, I would of liked the cake to be a tad more moist, but, when it comes to food I am “picky.”  I am a Scorpio, but, when it comes to food, my taste buds and stomach are obviously Virgo in the extreme – my eyes and digestive system give new meaning to the phrase, “Attention To Detail” and the word, “Perfection.”

The smiling faces of the attendees and the second-helpings were a testament to the flavor of the birthday cake.  And the icing was a favorite with the adults as well as the kids.

Marife is not the only Saldana relative, who celebrates May 29 as the birthday. Randy Abano, a second cousin, is a close family member, who also shares the Gemini day.

All Western astrological signs have their positive and negative values and Gemini is a sign often considered to be “moody.”  However, Marife and Randy remind me of  the famous American Gemini, who served as a United States Navy PT boat commander, who went on to become a great American President – John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Before the birthday party began, Ranyiel Saldana handed one of the pet pigeons to Randy Abano to examine. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Randy is a quiet young man, who is always ready to help out.

Perhaps, he is “picky” about dating because he is still a single man.

Before I conclude this birthday article, I leave my readers two points to ponder.

Point Number One

In my lifetime, at birthday parties, I have always noticed that usually it seems the birthday boy or the birthday girl is expected “to cut the cake.”  Why is that ?

The birthday is the day of days, when the individual can truly celebrate the anniversary of their birth into this world.  It is the one time every year, when every man, woman and child should be respected as one of “God’s unique gifts to the Universe.”  While family and friends usually do try to honor the person, the glitch always seems to come at cake time.  Instead of a family member or friend stepping up from the ranks to do the honor, the birthday boy or birthday girl is usually left positioned behind the cake to decide how to cut if, while the fate of the Free World and human civilization hangs in the balance.

Someone hands them a knife, and leaves the birthday boy or birthday girl to decide, “How do I cut the cake ?”

On my birthday, I always smile, step back and would hand the knife to my mother, Cousin Donna, or my wife, Christy, and reply, “I do a lousy job of cutting a cake.”  I knew my talents in life did not include cake cutting, thus, one of my trusted love ones had to have a more precise skill of cake cutting than I would ever master.

In my experience, most people usually stand there bewildered until some hungry family member takes pity and decides to step up to assist.  I am no protocol person, but on someone’s special day, the goal is to honor and celebrate their birthday.  Thus, it should already be decided long before the traditional song is sung, who will step up to assume command of “The Cutting Of The Cake.”

Point Number Two

Most often a Wedding is an expensive personal ceremony that ranks right up their with Presidential Ignauration Ceremonies.  All the planning, pomp and circumstance goes into planning weddings as though it were a re-enactment of “The D-Day Landing.”  After the traditional “cutesie moment” of the bride “smushing” cake into her new husband’s face and him doing likewise to his new wife, then, the marvelous machinery of the wedding celebration rockets into high gear and the wedding cake is quickly distributed to the masses.

Unfortunately, Birthday Celebrations are sometimes one of those “Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants” events that suggests you are making it up as you go along.  The best birthday celebrations always seem to collapse like a fallen cake at serving time.  One reason maybe the absence of the ingenious device – “The Cake Server” – a utensil shaped like a pizza slice with a laid back L shaped handle that allows the utensil to slide in under the cake and raise it triumphantly in one piece up into the atmosphere.

Without the cake server, people’s stomachs always override their sense of logistics and spoons and forks are stabbed at the cake like prehistoric cave people trying to free the charbroiled dinosaur bone from the family flame pit.  It is a given, that the piece of cake will wobble and collapse like a badly constructed tower, near, and sometimes actually in the plate.  My solution is to use a knife and a fork or spoon to actually “balance” the piece of cake to the nearby plate.  My crude forklift tactic usually prevents the cake from becoming a Tower of Babble re-enactment.

The Royal Imperial Professional College of Birthday Cake Taste Testers — of any country is kids. The Saldana and Roa kids enjoyment of The Good Morning Bakery of Palo’s birthday cake quickly attained a positive five-star rating from the M &Ms, to the vanilla flavor and the icing. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Of course, Marife and Randy’s birthday party went off without a hitch because Christy Warren is a natural born protocol officer.  I suspect my wife must have been a protocol officer at a Royal European Court in one of her past lives.

Thus, when it came time to blow out the candles Marife and Randy made their wishes and blew out the candles.

The Birthday Dignitaries – Marife Saldana Roa and Randy Abano gather around the birthday cake, while Ann Ann Natividad watches in the background. Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Happy Birthday, Marife ! Happy Birthday, Randy !

Sam

Uncle Sam In The Philippines

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Uncle Sam In The Philippines

Uncle Sam Restaurant 009 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

The familiar silhouette of Uncle Sam on the sign above the streets of Tacloban City advertises a restaurant with a truly American cuisine.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Out of the corner of my eye, I had noticed the silhouette of Uncle Sam. The words: . . . wings, burgers, shakes and floats had flashed pass my eyes. By the time, I turned my head to look, the van had moved on and I could only remember the famous name: “Uncle Sam.”

On trips to Tacloban City, I kept looking out the passenger window looking for the familiar image and the words, “Uncle Sam.” I could not remember the street. But, I definitely knew that I wanted to stop in and look at the menu.

Saturday, March 3, 2012, I glance out the passenger window and see the famous silhouette. “Here ! Stop, here,” I shrieked !

Uncle Sam Restaurant 011 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

If you stroll along Santo Nino Street in Tacloban City, the bright red paint is the first indication that you have found the Uncle Sam Restaurant.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Christy, Ninoy, Marife, Ranyiel, Mac Mac and Chrismar entered the restaurant behind me.

Americana Decor

Beneath my feet, I stood on a blue and white checkerboard pattern. Around me, red and white stripes unfurl around the walls. Above me, I stare up into a star spangled sky. Uncle Sam Restaurant A001 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

The feeling of being in an American Graffiti restaurant in the 1950s came over me.  For an instant, my “ride”. a 1957 Plymouth, I call “Christine” is parked outside.  Teeny boppers in ponytails and poodle skirts pop their bubble gum and fidgeted with their pony tails.  The smell of Brylcream fills the air as the combs of young men pass through their slicked down hair and they do their best Marlon Brando impression to flirt with the young girls. The sizzling of thick, juicy hamburgers gives way to  Wolfman Jack screaming through the radio about the latest 45 to top the charts.  Then, the jukebox whirls and the Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll” sings. I glimpse out the window to make sure Suzanne Somers is not driving past in a white 1957 Ford Thunderbird.

A portion of the Star Spangled Sky of the Uncle Sam Restaurant in Tacloban City stretches out over the customers. 

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I stand smiling, for a moment. I look again at the walls I feel at home in the new surroundings. For an instant, I feel like I’m back in the “Good Ole USA.” The center wall montage immediately catches my eye. Uncle Sam stares out of the center flanked by the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the space shuttle, the Las Vegas sign and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Uncle Sam Restaurant 001 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

“Uncle Sam”,the classic American icon that Political Cartoonist Thomas Nast created to represent the American people is the centerpiece of this United States montage that honors national landmarks and challenges customers’ sense of history as to the significance of the national symbols.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Impromptu History Lesson

The waiter came to take our order, but I had dashed to the center wall to look at the familiar images. I called to the boys to come look at the wall. Poor kids. It is Saturday and their uncle suddenly bursts into an American history lesson.

I pontificated how Uncle Sam had been a Chicago, Illinois meat packing inspector named Sam, who put the letters U.S., on the crates. Then, how American political cartoonist, Thomas Nast came along and began drawing Uncle Sam as a character for newspapers. And, how that popularity carried on and in World War I, the United States Armed Forces began using the image of Uncle Sam on military recruiting posters.

While the boys looked around at the décor, like an excited history teacher, I explained how the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to celebrate America’s 100th birthday and then, I pointed out George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore.

My wife, Christy, looked at the menu. She smiles and shakes her head – she knows how I enjoy talking about history. The boys looked at the large screen TV, which had been switched to the Cartoon Network.

 

Uncle Sam Restaurant 002 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

 

 

This wall in the Uncle Sam Restaurant hosts the photos of famous American celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and, of course, the famous historical photo of United States General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and the official party wading ashore in the Leyte Gulf, a few kilometers, outside Tacloban City. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Hollywood History

However, their “Uncle Sam” called to them to point out the Americana on the walls. I explained to them that the young Marlon Brando photo had the actor playing a rebel on a motorcycle and it made him an “American Bad Boy.” The photo of James Dean was of a young actor, who earned the title of being “The Rebel.” I point at the Frank Sinatra photo and explained that the actor and singer, was known as, “Old Blue Eyes.” Marilyn Monroe was the blonde screen goddess of the United States in the 1960s.

Uncle Sam Restaurant 004 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized 

 

This wall of the Uncle Sam Restaurant contains framed movie posters of some classics of American cinema from “Pretty Woman” to “Titanic.”  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr,

I pointed out Madonna and Ranyiel recognized, “Michael Jackson !” Riding the history wave, I directed the boys to the photos of American films on the walls from “Meet Joe Black” to “Titanic.” Of course, I added my movie critic comments for each of the framed movie photos. Uncle Sam Restaurant 012 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

This red sidewalk with gold stars is the “Walk Of Fame” that leads you to the Uncle Sam Restaurant in Tacloban City.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Finally, I freed the boys from my impromptu history class to allow them to take their seats, watch cartoons and wait for their meals.

I am no food critic. But, I was smiling when I looked at the American dishes on the menu.

Christy and the rest of the family ordered the Buffalo Wings. And, I ordered the Very Berry Strawberry shakes for everyone.

Righteous Ribs, Superb Sauce

I enjoyed the ribs. I’m one of those people who considers ribs “a finger food,” so my silverware sat untouched as I used my fingers to pull apart the tender, succulent meat. My polite nephews and their parents diligently used their knives and forks, despite my suggestion that “ribs is one of those foods best enjoyed by using your fingers.”

Uncle Sam Restaurant 005 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

Ribs, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.  Back in The Ozarks, my folks, would call this dish a good “home cooked” meal.  This dish at the Uncle Sam Restaurant in Tacloban City was delicious.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I love the taste of the sauce. I loved the taste of the sauce so much, that I did something completely out of character for me . . . “I licked my fingers.” I describe the meat as righteous ribs and superb sauce as the waiter trades my white napkin for a fresh red one.

The corn of the cob tasted as fresh as if it had been picked off the stalk and cooked.

Mashed Potatoes

Country boy, that I am, I was ecstatic to see “mashed potatoes” on the menu.

Potatoes in the Ozarks is like rice in the Philippines because a meal is not a meal without that dish. While rice is used in many dishes in the Philippines, the same is true of potatoes in the United States. I went through the door with my mouth watering for a “home cooked” big, juicy hamburger. But, my eyes focused on the ribs and “mashed potatoes.”

I’m sure Emeril and the great French chefs would not consider “mashed potatoes” a dessert, but, they haven’t gone for a couple of months without being able to plunge a spoon into steaming mashed potatoes and have the mashed potatoes melt in your mouth.

I could not help but smile when the waiter told us that the restaurant opened for business on “The Fourth Of July” 2011.

My appetite for “home cooked American cuisine” had me smiling as I put the napkin to my lips. I raised my hand to call the waiter for the menu.

My intent was to feast my eyes on their menu once again. Christy spoke up and reminded me that we still had some errands to run. I nodded and promised myself to return with a hearty appetite in the near future. 

Uncle Sam Restaurant 006 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resized

My wife, Christy Warren, ordered the Uncle Sam Restaurant’s Buffalo Wings, rice pilaf and the grilled tomatoes. If you have a Texas size appetite for a thick juicy steak or some ribs, then, you should definitely visit Uncle Sam in Tacloban City. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I did return

I did return – Tuesday afternoon. My wife, Christy ordered the mango shake. Fe ordered a banana split. Ninoy and I ordered the Angus Beef Burger. For a country boy, who grew up in rural southwest Missouri in the Ozarks, surrounded by Black Angus, Red Angus and Brangus cattle, the juicy hamburger brought back memories in every bite.

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The succulent Angus Beef Burger satisfied my appetite for a thick, juicy hamburger.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

The Uncle Sam Restaurant in Tacloban City is on Santo Nino Street. The Uncle Sam Restaurant is my five star choice when I want American cuisine.

Uncle Sam Restaurant 008 Photo by Samuel E Warren Jr_resizedFor the latest information about the Uncle Sam Restaurant in Tacloban City, Republic of the Philippines type in your computer search engine: facebook Uncle Sam Restaurant or click this link: Uncle Sam Restaurant, Tacloban City, Philippines  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

If after you read this article and you stop by the Uncle Sam Restaurant for a meal tell them, “Uncle Sam” sent you.

Uncle Sam”uel E. Warren Jr.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
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