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At Large

Good breakfast beginnings

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When you get your mind around the idea of going to the International House of Pancakes—IHOP to most everyone—in Bonifacio Global City, keep in mind that you should bring more than an appetite.

I would suggest a comfortable pair of shoes, because I can almost guarantee you will be doing a lot of standing around and waiting. When we arrived there at around 8 a.m. last Sunday, we found a small crowd milling around the front doors. When we asked the door keepers how many were still on the waiting list, we were told that there were about 150 (not counting those who had been there as early as 6 a.m.), but that they were calling only No. 60 or so. As we waited for an available table, more customers arrived, with many having their names listed for lunchtime!

Despite the long wait, the customers were for the most part good-natured about it. Some gladly took the offer of plastic chairs which helpful waiters had brought out. Old friends greeted each other heartily. Many more were scrutinizing the extensive menu, brows wrinkled in concentration as they made choices among the omelets, pancakes, waffles and mains.

When we finally took our seats, I was reminded of previous trips to the United States, with a particularly memorable brunch at an IHOP branch in upstate New York on the invitation of my late sister-in-law Esther Bruno, whose favorite eatery IHOP was. It was my first visit to IHOP, and I remember being overwhelmed by the Belgian waffles which was tempting to both the eyes and palate. I remember imagining the contrast between the tart blueberries and the rich whipped cream, and wasn’t disappointed when the dish—crisp waffles under a thick blanket of whipped cream and drizzled with blueberry sauce—came to our table.

I barely made a dent on this mini-mountain of goodness, and ever since then, every time friends and family invited me to IHOP, I would resolve to keep my greed in check—but end up overindulging. Still, when news came my way that IHOP was opening here, I resolved that the family should drop by the place for brunch.

* * *

But the years, not to mention the toll of diabetes and age, have somewhat dampened my appetite, and so I thought I’d really be more judicious this time.

I thought I would be a good girl and ordered a pair of blueberry pancakes, but on the side was a breakfast platter of bacon, eggs and hash browns. The hubby opted for a simple waffle, our daughter chose French toast with a rich shower of powdered sugar and whipped cream, while our daughter-in-law took the wise option of ordering a “kid’s meal” of strawberry pancakes. Our son, whom we once nicknamed “The Vacuum Cleaner” because he took care of all our leavings, ordered chocolate pancakes with all the fixings, and then proceeded to order Parmesan sticks and sausages as “appetizers.” With an order of bacon omelet for sharing, we ended up with a not-so-little feast for our growling bellies. Everything was washed down by pots of good coffee and tea and orange juice.

Needless to say, we skipped lunch. And by the time dinner time came round, we still had a hard time entertaining the thought of taking in any more food.

IHOP’s prices may be a little higher than the local average, but consider your savings on subsequent meals! We left IHOP to find a crowd still gathered outside its doors, while we felt the need to walk around High Street to let all that food settle, seeking absolution for our gluttony in the warm sunshine.

* * *

“Philippine Native Trees 101: Up Close and Personal” is a book put together, in the words of its authors, “by non-botanists for non-botanists.”

So don’t worry about your unfamiliarity with the scientific names of trees or your inability to identify a tree just by the shape of its leaves or the width of the tree trunk. It was written, says

Imelda Sarmiento of the Hortica Filipina Foundation Inc., “as a tribute to our native trees and to encourage their use.”

Indeed, my husband and I, after I received a copy of the book, spent many a night trying to identify the trees we knew of, including the trees in our garden and our surroundings in our weekend home in Alfonso, Cavite.

A longtime advocate of native or indigenous flora and fauna, Sarmiento says native trees are fast disappearing, due to many factors like deforestation, replacement by “invasive alien species” and monocrop plantations that propagate only commercially popular varieties, often non-natives.

The book, then, is meant also to be a guide for property owners or public officials who wish to “green” their surroundings, helping them identify native trees and plants. Sadly, writes Sarmiento, many Filipinos have a preference for exotic or alien flora, which are “desired either as a status symbol or because their wider cultivation in other countries [assure] a more constant supply.” The sad part is that “non-use [of native trees] endangers the existence of our very own.”

There are some 3,600 native trees, says Sarmiento, 70 percent of which are endemics (found only in our country). “Something to be truly proud of!” she declares.

“Philippine Native Trees 101” is a project of “Green Convergence,” a social movement that includes close to 50 environmental organizations and networks like: Alyansa Tigil Mina, Network Opposed to GMOs, Eco Waste Coalition, Save Sierra Madre Network, Philippine Federation for Environmental Concerns, Environmental Education Network of the Philippines, Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission–Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, Civil Society Counterpart Council for Sustainable Development, and Youth for Sustainable Development Assembly. Green Convergence is headed by Dr. Angelina “Nina” Galang.


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