Monday, January 16, 2006


It seems that all I have time to do nowadays is just bitch. Don't get me wrong. I'm perfectly grateful for many things in my life. My wife, my family, and my dog, for starters. But then there is also the wonderful weather we've been having lately (December to February is really the best time to enjoy the cool breezes coming onto Manila Bay), the incredible assortment of people that I meet on my tours (I probably have the best job in the Philippines right now - only flight attendants, toll booth operators, and prostitutes get to see more of a variety of people than I do), and the complete eradication of the TV station ANC and the newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer from my life (I am proud to say that as a former innuendo-a-holic, I have been free from these two for over three months now). But one thing. One thing. The one thing that has consistently rubbed my turkey the wrong way, has been the restaurant I walk by on my way to my space on M.H. del Pilar in Malate: Aristocrat Restaurant.

So for my kvetch of the week I write to:

Dear Ms. Engracia Reyes,
Yes, I know that you are already dead. But it is probably better this way because you will hear what I have to say for sure. Remember that restaurant Aristocrat? The one that you founded back in 1936? Yes, the one on Roxas Boulevard next to North Syquia Apartments. Well, Ms. Reyes, in the name of all that is holy in this world, what the freak is up with that place? Each day I have to walk by your kitchen and the proverbial rectum of your establishment (the loading bay) and each time it is an experience akin to Dante's seven levels of hell. Please look at the two photos I have enclosed above and realize that right outside the area where you cook your food, where your employees hang out, and where I - and many tourists - have to walk by everyday, is a kiddie-pool sized puddle of the most fetid liquid I have ever seen or smelled in my life. The odor is that of sewage pipes in a slaughterhouse of skunks, and the color is that of cloudy green snot. The stuff is so toxic that it has eaten away at the cement grouting of your driveway. I am afraid of walking my dog by your restaurant lest his paws burn off from the toxicity. I once even witnessed a chihuahua-sized rat running out of there! Running! And running OUT! What the hey-ho scared it? Your food? Really. I know Filipino food can be bad for your health and can smell funny sometimes, but this is taking it to a whole new level. It's apparent that all you serve at your establishment is uranium and cat shit. And now that you are starting to franchise and expand, it's really time to professionalize operations and to employ international standards of sanitation as company policy, doncha think? So kindly let your descendants know of this problem please? Perhaps tickle their toes in the middle of the night or something? It's time to let them know that the day to clean up their act over at the mothership has come.

Thank you,
Carlos Celdran