Alex The White

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I know, I know it sounds like Gandalf the Wizard, but to me, he is. Show him the kitchen and the magic just flows.

This culinary meister loves travel and adventure. His exploits can be tracked by the stuff he brings home with him, ethnic crafts and native trinkest and baubles, among other things. A big man with a penchant for the outdoors, long bicycle rides, challenging climbs. You can tell by the truck that he drives – he doesn’t believe in flashy decals and frills, just something that can take a load, go through the miles and keep up with the hectic schedule, both personal and business.

He is into photography, too! If it’s not a soup ladle or knife in his hand, it must be a camera. Or nowadays, a phone camera. It all fits, cooking, photography, the outdoors. And a lot of adventures.

18057058_10212393454057463_4742664929053737371_nBut first and foremost, is food, of course. Alex grew up in a big ,extended family that food is often a celebration, a gathering and a staple to kindling family ties. His love for our own local delicacies can only be matched with his passion for trying new recipes, combining influences and making them consumer ready without sacrificing taste. Also, our wine and liquor stock is his brainchild, promoting locally made craft beer, discovering new ones, making the choices for our customers wider than usual. It got so passionate that we have our own signature drinks – Bambutini, Jones Bridge – just a couple to tease the taste buds. His travels led to creating an ambience and feel for Bambu Intramuros and Bamboo Giant Malate, and the rest of the sibling restaurants he built. A chef that has been around for quite sometime, Alex loves putting together teams that is bred for only one thing – creating a menu worth going through each time you come by our place.

13769509_10205940910313152_3814421903488285516_nHe has worked in Singapore, and elsewhere around the world, but his heart stays planted, firmly on local soil. Well, if he is not driving around his sturdy truck, doing business stuff and discovering other restos and nighspots around the metro that is. Not one to just sit around after the work is done, he also helps people as a consultant for their own businesses, always with the emphasis on taste and presentation, and everything else comes naturally – the styling and look – that makes people come again and again. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able chance upon us with Alex creating new delights on one of his food tasting treats.

Most of the time, the man is driving off to somewhere, makes me think he hardly ever sleeps! But that only shows he really enjoys what he does. maybe you can spot him on his grey pickup loaded with goods on the busy streets of Manila.

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ONIEDAZDEUDA

Sounds enigmatic?

Maybe.

17342750_1463576960319766_4974078923498822437_nBut Onie, Ka Onie, Tito Onie among the younger set , and friends, despite the long, grayish white hair and the solemn demeanor (when not smiling, which is rare) is hardly stern nor hard to read. Born with the name Honesto, he is anything but the quite type. Conversations with him can start with one simple thing, and then expound into a galaxy of art, bonsai, gardening, travel and music. There are no boundaries when you sit down with him and just discuss the known universe, and then some that are virtually unknown, punctuated with humorous anecdotes and side-splitting punchlines, there is no boring moment with him.
His creations – Patio Papa, BKD (bahay Ko Din), Ka Boy Grill, Bamboo Grande, Kalye Luna 17504273_1463576466986482_7615291576473567750_oin Baguio City and the two most dear to him Bamboo Giant Malate and Bambu Intramuros – are products of a mind that never cease to discover new things. Driftwood and strange artifacts often find themselves on display in and around these restaurants. And what with his botanical skills (he has designed gardens that has the acclaim of not just institutions, but a queen once congratulated him for a job well done!) Bambu Intramuros along with Bamboo Giant Malate are testament for his love of colorful plants, beautiful music and art. These are his concepts for ingredients of what a good dining experience should be. Indeed, you could call Onie the beating heart of his creations.

His creativity is fueled by music – jazz, classic rock,folk, country, world music and rock and roll. Add to these his keen eye for art in all its forms and disciplines, sulpture, painting, drawings, from the avant garde to the traditional and more of the found-talent types. He has friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, be it politics, public service, musicians, painters, poets, the common man, all are in thrall when the man walks. No, that is not lip service, you have to meet him to know what Bambu Intramuros is all about.

17504488_1463574043653391_1989260255065419780_oFrom concept to execution, choosing the right stuff for the right spot, hanging positive words to engage the diner on what could be just another meal and turn it to a whole intellectual experience, picking meticulously the musicians who perform every night, less electronic, more on acoustic, not just elevator music, these are but some of his passionate hands working. He disagrees with extravagance, but the lushness of the leaves and trees, poetry in music, collecting art and the open arms he extends to those who are looking for work is the unspoken lavishness of the man’s character. His organic farm elsewhere is a foundation for his altruism. His bonsai is the incarnation of his soul.
Enigmatic maybe too heavy to describe Onie in one word. Ambiguous? Far from the truth. Let’s just say that Onie and his creations are free-spirited, cannot be labeled with a single tag, but an amalgam of all the things his passion can visualize. You might chance upon him when you come and visit Manila.

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Tito Onie with the Ladies of Bambu Intramuros (from left – Kim, Via, Grace, April__Joyce, Karen, Menchie, She and Haidee)

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The Man and Me

Losing Track of Time . . . .

As I grudgingly sit in one of those white-knuckle bus ride to Novaliches earlier today, at least the driver and conductor felt the need to play some music in their nightly plights of EDSA.

“..It’s three o’clock in the morning and it’s starting to get light . . “

Don’t get me wrong. I said “grudgingly” not because I am angry or anything, but rather, disappointed I had to leave Villamor earlier than I had anticipated. In one of those clean up and wash runs for the kitchen, my right index finger got hurt and I can’t scrape the large rice cooker pan clean enough. I guess I’m not that young anymore. I remember moving heavy tabletops, chairs and dinner stuff up and down Capitol Hills Golf Clubhouse years ago without my legs nor bones staging a protest, vehemently, I should add.

Still, time passes.

And being with the volunteers, with the smiles back in our faces at Villamor, time, really does fly. Like those Ospreys we saw lifting off like space ships from off the runway.

I’m distracted.

As we give out food prepared by volunteer cooks and chefs, sandwiches lovingly made by other volunteers at the tent, we have a good gig running – a coffee commando stand, the long table for hot meals, the kitchen all a buzz, the sandwich pantry busy like any bee hive , it had to wonder what will the survivors be doing in Camp Aguinaldo.  We tried to talk to some of the survivors as they wait patiently, although as of 4:30pm yesterday, the survivors were already in buses but were still waiting to be transported  for 3 hours already.

Imagine that.

In Tacloban Airstrip, they had to wait 3 days, or at least 48 hours to be on a flight to Manila. The flight is about an hour and a half, and at Villamor, they have to be grouped and processed, some for immediate medical attention, the rest mostly documentation and records, so give a an hour or so.

And I complain about a 3 hour bus ride to Magallanes just to switch buses bound for FTI to alight at Villamor.

But at the site, time passes, like rain drenching me when I was at Camp Aguinaldo meeting another volunteer who’s doing psychological support for the survivors – Ms. Tetchie of Gold’s Gym ,whom, by the time I got to ArtRelief at Villamor sent a group of young ones to help out – the rain poured and  fell and washed the streets I walked to EDSA.

The rain went quickly, and these weather mood swings seem to be the norm nowadays.

Arrived at the site, buzzing.

And I began to lose track of time.

Maybe because I lost my Casio watch while enjoying the camaraderie. It was a 10-year battery , and about to die on me. That was a long time to own a watch, even for me. Goodbye, old watch, hope the person who found you can use the time to appreciate, even with the dilapidated state.

Maybe because  doing volunteer work does wonders for the soul.  And if auras are visible to the naked eye, the whole setup will be glowing bright colors, should you see the faces cooking, stirring, slicing, chopping, packing food, giving out water, minding the discarded stuff , cleaning up and then messing the place again with a new set of food preparation. By 1am this morning, Oplan Hatid was back in form, adding to the radiance of people and smiles.

And I lose track of time.

Maybe because I really don’t have to.

Photo stolen from Juan Benedicto’s FB

Photo stolen from Teddy Arellano’s FB

[Apologies to Teddy Arellano and Juan Benedicto. Sorry guys, I gave up on photography long time ago, so I steal from Indios and you guys. Thank you!]