MANILA, December 12, 2003 (STAR)  LEISURE UNLIMITED By Heidi Ng - Laughter is a potent aphrodisiac. I have yet to meet a woman who thinks that a sense of humor in a guy is unattractive. So, maybe this explains why girls swoon over Wendell Ramos. Or, maybe it’s because of his well- sculpted physique that made him body-worthy to be an endorser of Bench. Or, it could be because he actually knows how to cook. You know how some women have a thing for men who can whip up something delicious in the kitchen.

When not belting out funny antics and punch lines in Bubble Gang, which airs every Friday on GMA 7, Wendell chooses to watch movies, stay at home, go to the gym or play basketball. He is a huge San Miguel Beer and Danny Ildefonso fan. He can only afford to watch movies and relax now because he has just wrapped up his latest movie.

The movie, Filipinas, is a film by Joel Lamangan and will be shown at the Metro Manila Film Festival this December. He co-stars with some of the most talented actors in show business, such as Maricel Soriano, Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta, Aiko Melendez, Victor Neri, Raymond Bagatsing and Armida Siguion Reyna. In this Metro Manila film fest entry, he plays Narciso Filipinas, a Philippine Military Academy graduate and bunso of the Filipinas family. Yes, Filipinas, from which the title of the movie is taken, is the surname of the actors in the movie.

The movie is Wendell’s latest project in his eight years in showbiz. Unknown to many, he was discovered by Douglas Quijano while on a summer job as an usher during the Philippine National Games many years ago. That was at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and Richard Gomez, another of Tito Dougs’ talents, was representing Bulacan in fencing. His first movie was Taguan that starred Gelli de Belen, Giselle Toengi and Jomari Yllana. Currently, he shares boob tube time with Ogie Alcasid, Michael V., Ara Mina and Boy2 Quizon in making people laugh in their award-winning comedy show Bubble Gang.

But even without a script, Wendell can make people laugh. He demonstrated his comic skills at a Don Henrico’s kitchen while horsing around with the staff.

Little known is his skill in the kitchen. His mouthwatering sinigang is a well-guarded recipe. He did not want to share this because it always shocks people that he cooks sinigang with chicken and squash. What? Sinigang na manok na may kalabasa? We were all incredulous at first, but in showbiz speak we say, "In fairness, masarap actually!" Bubble Gang colleague Ara Mina even dropped by just to taste his sinigang. She gave it a two-thumbs-up rating as well.

The last time he cooked this dish was for his lola more than a year ago. He shares, "My lola does not eat a lot, but when I cooked her this one, she had two plates of rice pa. In her whole life, noon lang siya nakatikim ng sinigang na manok!"

He would like to learn his dad’s pinakbet, Pangasinan-style, with bagoong isda instead of shrimp bagoong, and pinapaitan next. Until then, he shares with Philippine STAR readers two of his versions of popular Filipino recipes.

Sinigang Na Manok

(With Kalabasa)

1 k. chicken

2 Tbsps. corn oil

2 tsps. chopped garlic

100 g. sliced onions

100 g. sliced tomato

150 g. kangkong

150 g. sitaw

300 g. kalabasa (squash)

1 22-g. sinigang mix pack

3 long chilis

1 l. water

Put oil in a heated pan. Sauté garlic, onion and tomato in the pan. When tomato becomes tender, put the chicken in the pan and sauté until it becomes tender. Add water. Bring to a boil. This will take around 5 to 6 minutes.

When water has boiled, add the kalabasa. Boil again for 4 to 5 minutes until kalabasa is cooked. Add the sitaw and let the mixture boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sinigang mix, according to taste. Add the kangkong and long chili last.

Chicken Adobo

5 crushed garlic

2 onions, sliced

7 whole black peppercorns

7 laurel leaves

1 k. chicken, sliced

I cup soy sauce

1 tsp. vetsin

1tsp. salt

1 cup vinegar

1/2 cup oil

1-1/2 cup water

Marinate overnight the chicken in salt, vinegar, soy sauce, vetsin, laurel leaves, peppercorns and garlic for better taste.

Boil the chicken in the marinade for 15 minutes. Add water. After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken when it is tender. In a different pan, sauté the chicken in oil, garlic and onion for about 5 to 10 minutes. After sautéing, return the chicken into sauce in the first pan.

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Special thanks to Don Henrico’s-West Avenue for hosting the photo shoot. Call Don Henrico’s West Avenue at 3-717171, 3-727272 for party reservations, pizza delivery or other inquiries.

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Feedback and suggestions are welcome at leisure_unlimited@yahoo.com.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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