Last Sunday Ricky and Almond organized a museum date-cum-reunion for all of us whom Ricky first met in Hanoi in 2006. Ricky had read my review of the Ayala Museum Gold of Ancestors exhibit, and suggested it would be a good reason to meet up.

Two years ago, Almond, Ma’am Odette and Ma’am Letty were all invited to present papers at an academic conference at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi. I tagged along, sort of masquerading as a fellow UP faculty member (“You are also from the University of the Philippines?” “Yes, but I’m not presenting a paper.” “You must attend the dinner and the water puppet show!” “Uh, ok, thank you!”). While they were busy practicing their presentations and networking with other participants, I quickly rebooked us from the first sorry-assed hotel we checked into, to the very comfortable but forbiddingly named Army Hotel. It was nearer the conference venue, and at USD35/night for a twin share, it was irresistible. I also planned some of our itinerary, as it was my job to negotiate with/harass taxi drivers and tour operators.

Ricky happened to be billeted at the Army Hotel as well. Almond and I first noticed him during the buffet breakfast, at which we already noted his hair and his fashion sense. It was Ma’am Odette and Ma’am Letty who confirmed the happy fact of his Pinoy-ness. Ricky turned out to be the visiting consultant at the museum near the university. Later on, at the steps of the VNU, we met Roland and the other Singapore-based Pinoy grad students who were attending the same conference. Roland also presented a paper.

We had lunch at Greenbelt 5, at Fely J’s (another LJC restaurant) on the second floor. It was a good thing we arrived early, as the place was soon fully packed. The menu is Filipino and Asian dishes served family style, with very reasonable prices. Check out the pork adobo with whole cloves of roasted garlic (yum!):

(I must apologize for the lack of focus in that pic. It smells and tastes more appetizing than the photo suggests.)

The other big winner of the day was the fried tilapia in sweet plum sauce shown here ready to swim off the plate and into our stomachs:

To accompany those we also had bangus belly sinigang (sampalok), ensalada ni nanay (red eggs, assorted vegetables and bagoong), ginataang gulay (squash, string beans, other vegetables and shrimps in coconut milk), and for dessert, “Claude’s Dream” (a generous scrape of soft, fresh buko meat on top of creamy macapuno ice cream surrounded by pandan flavored jelly):

All in all, a very satisfying meal (despite the slow – but friendly! – service).

We then proceeded to the Ayala Museum, where Ricky was able to get us discounted entrance rates (thank you!).

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