A weird combination title for a post, I will grant you that. But read on and you will understand. We had to attend a funeral this morning at Loyola Memorial Park, Marikina. We had never been there before so we went pretty early to ensure we were there with lots of time to spare. We got there half an hour early and parked under the shade of a large tree, turned off the engine (donâ€™t you just hate folks who keep their engines running while parked?) and lowered the car windows. I was truly enjoying the breeze and the wonderful 75 degree temperature and somewhat cloudy/sunny skies. The park, at first glance seemed like such a serene place to be laid to rest, and I was lulled into a feeling of great comfort that anyone placed here would be happy forever. If the temperature in Manila were like this year round, I would think I had died and gone to heaven. At any rate, as we were sitting there, we were taking in the landscape and watching the incredible amount of activity in the immediate areaâ€¦ After several minutes, I decided the memorial park was instead an incredible microcosm of many of the things that make this country such a basketcase in so many waysâ€¦ Instead of a flat sea of green grass marked by noble uniform white tombstones, the landscape was, to say the least, a bit lubak-lubak or uneven. And I donâ€™t mean rolling terrain, I mean unnaturally uneven and ankle twisting material. Worse, the fields had two kinds of grass, nicely manicured Bermuda over interred bodies that obviously were willing to pay for it, and carabao grass allowed to grow wild for either empty plots of owners who obviously werenâ€™t willing to pay an extra fee or empty plotsâ€¦ So what you get is a checkerboard effect of lush verdant plots against nearly brown and dying ones. From far above, one would be forgiven if he mistook the place as prosperous haciendas next to blighted farms.
You would think that for the sake of aesthetics and consistency and marketability of future lot sales, the managers of the park would ensure that this kind of sod discrimination would be avoided. Worse, all the groundskeepers in the place were there predominantly to water each and every plot that had apparently paid for maintenance services. And since they did NOT have the simple foresight to put spigots for water anywhere near the plots, the groundskeepers would go in bicycles with sidecars to fetch water in plastic containers before transferring them to watering cans and going to each and every plot and watering the grass one plot at a time! Good grief! What an utter waste of time and resources. How ridiculously inefficient can it get? I wonder if you paid first class prices would they de-weed your ancestorâ€™s plot more carefully than others??? Does anyone see the absurdity of this scene??? When you buy a cemetery plot for 5-10x the price of a housing lot, shouldnâ€™t the cemetery management set aside a substantial fund for maintenance? For watering? For eternity??? And just in case you think I am asking for the impossible, have you been to the American cemetery in Fort Bonifacio lately? It is immaculately manicured, the trees stately, the sprinkler system works, and you donâ€™t have little kids and dozens of workers having their merienda quite literally on your tombstone while a cat takes a leisurely poop on the unkempt carabao grass in the plot literally next door! The funeral itself was very nicely executed and I must say Loyola did a great job with that event. But I go back to the fact that when the soil and grass is returnedâ€¦there is a great deal to be improved to ensure that the soil regains an even feel. No. This was not right. And I am appalled that descendants of plot residents donâ€™t raise a stink. Now I really know I want to be cooked at high heat when I kick the bucket, scooped into an urn and interred at a crypt.
After the funeral, we decided to head back to the Makati area and on the way decided to stop at the bustling Libis area since I had never been there and had never eaten at a restaurant there. I think I was also drawn there because the person at Shittybank who I have been dealing with is possibly working near that area and since she hasnâ€™t bothered to get me an answer to the recent credit card issues despite two weeks of waiting, I thought I would eat in the vicinity hoping I would catch a glimpse of her or at least send irritated vibes her way. We were famished and the first restaurant outside our parking area was called the Shanghai Bistro, so we got a table there. Our waiter was a bit pushy, no, I correct that, very pushy and kept trying to sell us expensive specials as though his paycheque depended on it. So while we politely declined the special soup of the day (a two-day soup I think), I drew the line and cut him off curtly after he tried to sell the live lapu-lapu, the imported scallops or abalone, etc. I told him I could read and if he just waited, I would be able to place a full order without his assistance. We ordered 3 dimsums (ha-kao, soimai and stewed spareribs) ostensibly as starters (though I will admit that is a VERY un-Chinese thing to do), then ordered sweet and sour pork, green beans, a squid dish and yang chow fried rice.
The sweet and sour pork arrived first and rapidly got cold. After an inquiry from a passing waiter, the ha-kao arrived several minutes later. We finished that and twiddled our thumbs and asked for the rest of our dim sum. None appeared. Instead our squid arrived, followed by our rice. As we started to eat, I noticed we had no soy sauce or chili sauce and had to ask for that. Then we had no rice bowls so we had to ask for those as well. At this point I asked the waitress to follow up our dim sum and vegetables. The rice arrived. Then the spareribs. Then the siomai a full 25 minutes AFTER the first dish arrived. The vegetables were nowhere to be found so I cancelled the order and asked for the bill. I have to say, the food tasted pretty good. Definitely a notch above the Chinese fast food restaurants and it was well presented. The cook was doing his job, clearly. But the pacing of the arrival of dishes was unacceptable and the service was downright SLOW and haphazard. A reader, M, of this blog happened to be at the next table and when she got up to leave, she dropped by our table to say hello. She told us the restaurant was owned by Andrew Tan (the big man of Megaworld) himself who found the chef somewhere, which explained why there was in fact competence in the cooking. But she missed the last half of our meal where it got there in starts and spurts.
Now did the first waiter who took our order ever come back to check on things? No. Did he ever try to let us know what was going on? No. Was it clear to me that our green beans had been delivered to a neighboring table and they ATE it? YES. And so when I got my bill and they issued a credit card slip, it turns out they forgot to remove the cancelled order of green beans and they had to re-do the bill. Surprisingly, I remained calm through all of this and waited patiently as they re-did the bill, cancelled my first charge, and they approached the next table to tell them they had to pay for the beans, etc. The entire meal cost roughly PHP1,500 for three people. Not bad for the food. But I must reiterate that the service was a deal breaker. It SUCKED. And I would never return to a restaurant that didnâ€™t have the good sense to pay attention to its service levels. And I didn’t see a manager of any sort watching the room as you would expect at a restaurant that wasn’t labelling itself fast food. I donâ€™t mind screw-ups, but fix them when you can for goodness sakes! I liked the food; maybe would eat it if it was take-away, but for now, would never go back to that restaurant again. When, oh when, will we all realize that efficiency and service are indeed possibleâ€¦ first the cemetery, then thisâ€¦ Maybe that waiter can apply for a managerial job at the cemetery where the clients arenâ€™t in a hurry. Yikes.