What is this madness?

Army Navy Fearless Fried Chicken

It is 2:30 a.m. and when we should be tucked in bed and fast asleep, we are on a quest to satisfy an urgent craving for fried chicken. The good news is, we know just where to go. In fact, it is because of this place, the same one we have found ourselves frequenting over the past year or so, that we are craving for fried chicken to begin with. It has become a hard habit to break of late.


My little ice cream shop

I came across a lovely painting today. It is of four kids — I’m guessing the older three are easily under 12 years old — sitting on a ledge, enjoying their youth and the sun. I look at it for the very first time, I look away to peruse the others beside it, and then I find myself staring right back at it again, drawn to the details: little children taking care of a toddler, their mothers perhaps busy with household chores and preparing lunch. I like how the artist has made the image look sun-kissed. And I like how the subjects are connecting to each other, not exactly in a huddle, but it is obvious they are present in the moment. It makes me wonder what they are talking about. What did my playmates and I talk about at that age? The image makes me go inside myself as I remember my own childhood, the many happy summers I had as a child.


What is the best thing I ever ate?


I am watching one cooking show after another on the Food Network and in between, this short feature of people simply describing the best thing they ever ate pops up. I love listening to what they say, each one waxing poetic about something different, all of them the same in that they describe the dish with a love and passion that is almost palpable. The camera makes love to the food, the audience (in this case, me, sitting on the sofa in our living room) is mesmerized, and gets pulled right into the romance. I so love looking at the way their favored dish is being prepared, but second only to how hungry I get listening to them describe it.


A benchmark of generosity

Bench Donates boats for the fisherfolk of Ormoc

Bench founder and chairman Ben Chan with author Lucy Gomez and Richard Gomez: It is moments like this one today at Ipil Port that give me and the whole team a second wind. We have awarded around five or six times already, with 50 to 100 boats per round.

Aug. 7. It is a beautiful day and the sun shines very brightly over Ipil Port in Ormoc City. There is hardly a cloud in the sky, the sea is a vibrant blue, and against it is this strip that juts out in a “T” out to sea, chipped and broken here and there. On each side of this port are colorful little boats, anchored still, swaying gently by the bay. Where it has rained on and off for days, today’s sunlight make for a lighting coup so perfect the whole scene can pass as an establishing shot in some movie: the perfect backdrop for what the gut tells you is a beautiful story about to unfold. Attached to a grand mill (that has since folded up) back in those days when sugar was the backbone of the Ormoc economy, the Ipil port has, for many years now, been reduced to a quiet version of its former self. Where once it was sparkling and glorious in its usefulness, it now just basks in the whispered, wistful stories of what it used to be. Of course there is also always talk of what it potentially could still be, but for now it is what it is.