Back in 1997, with Lucio Tan only a few months at the helm, I flew Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Class from Manila to Cebu and I distinctly remember it being a rather sad experience. Although it was nice to realize that the high-flying, high spending days of First Lady Imelda Marcos and PAL president Roman Cruz Jr. were finally over, I was disappointed to find in its place, a rather soul-less, albeit pragmatic, institution. And even if its identity and logo remained exactly the same, it was the details which told me things had changed at our national carrier. Gone were the earth toned dishes from Rosenthal and and in its place, mauve melamine. The inflight magazine Mabuhay was now a little slimmer and the cabins were now little greyer. The canapes in the Mabuhay Lounge were also now replaced by lugaw and worst of all, San Miguel, the beer so sacred to Filipinos, was no longer being served onboard. It was all too obvious that standards had to be compromised in order to keep our flagship afloat. Im not saying that they should have gone back the indulgent days of Van Cleef and Arpels toiletries, full length beds, and Les Chaines des Rotisseurs cuisine, but it cannot be denied that something was lost when PAL stopped claiming to be "Asia's First Airline" and downscale itself to merely becoming "Asia's Sunniest." But today, eight years down the road, Im glad to see that good things are going on again over at PAL - and in it's galleys to be precise. On the website: www.airlinemeals.net, the largest website on the inflight meal industry, I was heartened to find our flag carrier batting way higher than average in comparison to other regional airlines. In a rating system where 1 is lowest and 10 the highest, only 4 of the 26 meals reviewed scored lower than 5. There also was a staggering seven 10s at the bottom of the page (reviewed mostly by a portly Cris Smith, whose belly sometimes blocks the view of the tray.) It's so good to see that standards can still be raised again around here. I also hear that San Miguel is back on the menu too.