9 (Wed) February 2011
-Ermita, Manila, –
with KSY and Korean interns
Research Trip to the Philippines, Day 3.
In Manila. Here Monday through Thursday to meet with WHO to initiate a project reviewing health legislation in countries across the region. Excited to visit the Philippines for the first time.
I was treated to lunch by the Health Sector Development unit, who took me to Casino Español de Manila. It’s a Spanish social club, started in 1834, formally established in 1893, current compound erected in 1951. The restaurant and bar is housed in a villa, with uniformed staff and table linens, features that have been absent in my mall dining experiences thus far.
In my personal code of food consumption, one of my fundamental principles is to avoid eating the protuberances of an animal, including the tail, feet, genitalia, ears, and tongue. I also don’t like the inner workings of the animal, but I’ll make an exception for certain types of intestines prepared in certain ways. I make oxtail soup for my family on occasion, but I rarely eat it myself.
Among the lunch specials were either deep-fried fish or beef tongue (lengua). Despite the code, I went with the tongue just to try something new. I hadn’t had a good meal since arrival, so I was hoping for a revelation. In nearly 40 years of consuming beef, it was the first time that I stopped with one bite. It was like french-kissing a bull with bad breath, so disgusting.
For the third night in a row, I had dinner in a shopping mall, the same shopping mall, the shopping mall where the food on the previous two nights hadn’t been very good. The choice of location, the mall, as well as the specific restaurants within it, was determined on all occasions by my host, Professor KSY, who is likely the most risk averse person that I’ve ever met when it comes to cultural experiences. I’ve accompanied her on trips to Cambodia, USA, UK, Switzerland, and she always insists on eating in the hotel or Korean food (if nearby). Her residence is attached to the mall, and she refuses to leave the building after 6PM. I’m not averse to eating in malls per se, but come on.
Mangan is a Filipino restaurant.
The food was pretty meh. Nobody in the group was familiar with the local fare, despite having been here for nearly 2 months on internships, KSY for over five months, so we had to guess at what to order based on the blurry photos in the menu. We ended up with a platter of deep-fried (pritong = deep-fried) items (paborito = favorites): fish of various types, pork bellies, and what appeared to be quail, though it could’ve been any manner of small bird, all kinda dry and flavorless. The platter was accompanied by an array of sauces, which were either too salty or sour or sweet or spicy for anyone’s liking. 670 pesos. Again, as with the buffet yesterday, I don’t know if it was the food itself or poor preparation by the particular restaurant, but I didn’t dig it.
I would’ve gone out for a late-night snack in an attempt to salvage the day, food-wise, but some of us went out after dinner for activities that primarily involved alcohol in places that required us to surrender phones equipped with cameras. That part was fun, at least.