THE newly minted Philippine president jammed with the madlang pipol during the street party at the Quezon City Memorial Circle on the drizzly night of June 30.
President Noynoy Aquino III, or P.Noy, made good his promise to sing, although the title of the song was kept under tabs to prevent it from leaking out to the sharp-eared media.
He wore his mufti, a yellow polo shirt printed with the Cory ribbon upon his breast, which made him look like Everyman and not the 15th president of the country.
Although he seemed nervous as he sang his first song, Watch What Happens, by the time he rocked it with Estudyante Blues, the most eligible bachelor in the highest office looked at home on stage. The people roared with approval. The Inaugural Musicale was a success.
My uncle Gustav said, “It was a festive inauguration, with the participation of the masses. I hope that man will translate his simple-folks demeanor into simple but direct solutions to our complicated problems.”
“What problems, lolo?” my nephew Pannon asked.
“Lack of jobs and houses, health and education issues, hunger, low salaries,” my uncle Gustav answered.
No holds were barred in carrying off the minimalist inaugural dinner that still came through as nothing less than a presidential affair.
For the first dinner P.Noy shared with the diplomatic corps and top government officials at Malacañang Palace at 6 p.m., the menu proved that everyday dishes can achieve international status in taste and presentation.
Since the theme was Filipiniana, the tables received special touches, like floral arrangements made of pandan leaves and orchids.
The chic cocktail consisted of a centerpiece, which was a banana-walnut cake fashioned after the Malacañang Palace.
Some websites mentioned pan de sal with Laguna cheese (kesong puti, or goat’s milk cheese, to us). Are you kidding? Bread for the new president? Well, it’s not that bad. In English, that’s cheese bread, so it’s sosyal (high society).
Among the hors d’oeuvres were sweet potato croquettes stuffed with mashed squash; squash blossoms stuffed with herbed kesong puti; inasal na manok with corn-on-the-cob; and roasted eggplant with herbs and olive oil.
There was corned beef but it didn’t come from a tin can, one day near its expiry date. It was roast corned beef with kaldereta sauce. Also on the menu was pritchon (suckling pig roasted Peking duck-style). ABS-CBN news anchor Karen Davila couldn’t stop her hands as she inspected the pritchon. She took a crunchy morsel, bit into it, and declared it delicious.
To neutralize the dinner flavors, sweets were offered. Among them were halo-halo; guinomis, like halo-halo but with fewer ingredients and topped with pinipig; biko; and pitchi-pitchi.
By wage-earner standards, the budget of the cocktail was worth a house and lot, school fees, and monthly groceries. But by celebrity standards, it was modest, which made it remarkable. The guests didn’t sip expensive champagne; they had less costly but excellent Cava Spanish sparkling wine, a drink Spanish take during holidays, like Christmas.
“The menu was acceptable being an allusion to what most Filipinos eat every day,” my niece Joy said.
Pinoys buy guinumis and halo-halo off the sidewalk with no idea where the water for the shaved ice came from.
Of course Pinoys often eat pritchon. Rather than dump leftover lechon for fear of food poisoning, they deep-fry it, or just make paksiw.
Krystal, my fashionista niece, said, “The trendy food proved the Pinoy has world-class cuisine.”
Tita Blitte, an aunt noted for her good cooking, sighed. “Well, I hope P.Noy puts food on the Pinoy’s plate, and I don’t care if it’s world-class.”