THE guards came out to meet us as our ride approached the gates and politely asked for our names. “Snow White,” I said.

I never knew how the name I give at the Starbucks would be so appropriate at this time. Wasn’t the name royalty enough to gain access to the castle gates?

Guard one signaled to the other to open the gates. Not because of “Snow White” but because my friend driving the car gave his name, a real name. Apparently Snow White wasn’t expected. But I was.

I’m pretty sure many still wonder if the castle that sits on the higher ground of the Marfori subdivision is occupied at all. Some may even think it’s an abandoned home because “nary a soul stir in the compound,” they say.

The castle is a home, very much in use and heavily guarded—by eight territorial Chow Chows, which I strongly advise you shouldn’t be messing with.

It was not until recently when I first set foot on the castle grounds. This would be the second, both instances, the birthday of the lady of the “castle.”

This was just one of Malouchi’s few celebrations, a night with the BPAs (and don’t ask what it means and most irrelevant at this point because a new name was coined), a gang that was formed years ago but gained a name in the course of the regular luncheon gatherings. As usual, it was kept casual and relaxed, no ball gowns or tailcoats, with the dining table as the main “arena”—for eating, chatting and hearty laughter. We only stood up when it was time to leave.

Until the next gathering in your lovely home which you call your castle (well, so does everyone else). Thank you for letting Snow White feel what it was like living in one. I wish you all the best and live happily ever after.

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[For more photos of these events & more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/ and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/]