PHOTO ABOVE: At Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde’s birthday dinner at Gloria Maris (Greenhills), front row (from left): Danny Dolor, Marichu ‘Manay Ichu’ Maceda, Dolor Guevarra, Mother Lily, Tony ‘Mr. T’ Tuviera, Girlie Rodis and Ronald Constantino; and (back row, also from left) Lilibeth Perez-Nakpil, Rica Maceda, June Torrejon-Rufino, Ricky Lo, Ethel Ramos, Anes Plata, Shirley Kuan, Wilson Lee Flores, Maricel Soriano, Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Malou Choa-Fagar and Bibeth Orteza. Photos by Girlie Rodis& Ricky Lo

MANILA, AUGUST 26, 2013 (PHILSTAR) FUNFARE By Ricky Lo - Like every year when classes open, there are stories about shortages of classrooms, forcing teachers in schools in far-flung (read: forgotten) places to hold classes under trees.

What happens in Congress (Upper and Lower Houses) when it opens especially after an election, with neophytes taking over the also-rans, is not that bad, thankfully, although it does feel almost the same.

“It feels like the first day in school,” newcomer Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares (who topped last May’s senatorial race) light-heartedly recalled to movie writers over a thanksgiving lunch she hosted last Saturday at Victorino’s Restaurant (11th Jamboree corner Scout Rallos, Quezon City, owned and managed by Ilocos Sur Vice Gov. David Victor Sabillano and his wife Dina Bonnevie).

On July 1 when the terms of newly-elected officials officially started, Grace got an early call from her mom, Susan Roces, who reminded Grace to be at the Senate on time, just like how parents would rouse their kinder or first-grader kids from sleep and haul them to school.

“I told my mom that our term didn’t really begin until after the SONA (on July 22),” added Grace, “and she said, ‘Di ba July 1 dapat mag-start na kayo?’ I said, ‘Ay, Ma, wala pang plenary kasi wala pang SONA.’ She was insistent, ‘But your term start on July 2,’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ Sabi ba naman, ‘Aba, eh, dapat pumasok ka na!’”

Told by Grace that no vacant room was assigned to her yet, the concerned mom told her, “Kung ganoon, kumuha ka ng desk, ilagay mo sa hall at doon ka umupo!” Amused, Grace asked, “Ma, are you joking?’ Aba, serious pala talaga siya! Para daw the people who voted for me would know that I was doing my job.”

That same night, Grace repeated the story to the well-wishers of Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde who hosted a lauriat birthday (D-day was actually yesterday, Aug. 19) dinner at Gloria Maris (Greenhills) and everybody had a good laugh.

In both events (the thanksgiving lunch and the birthday dinner), Susan was conspicuously absent because she had been down with the flu for three days already due to exhaustion from the continuous shooting of her ABS-CBN soap Muling Buksan ang Puso. The Birthday Lady was in glorious pink, hardly looking her age (confidential!), thanks to the stem-cell procedure (fats drawn from her body and not from a black sheep) that she has been undergoing.

“I feel stronger,” confirmed Mother Lily (who hosted two more salu-salo, one for her family Sunday night, and another one for a VIP and more special friends). “I feel like new, magaan ang pakiramdam ko.”

As usual during what the barkada calls their “eating/chatting” get-together, the sumptuous meal (this time strictly Chinese cuisine) is spiced up with juicy showbiz stories that are, so sorry, all off-the-record (an unwritten “law”), such as (very vague clues) a young actor who has just “outed” himself and a couple who might soon join Claudine-Raymart, Ai-Ai/Jed and Cesar-Sunshine in the now controversial/popular “Free Again Club.”

Back to Sen. Grace who now heads the Committee on Public Information (which had no takers).

Sen. Grace’s pet project is still the Feeding Program among school children.

“That was one of my promises during the campaign,” said Grace.

Anyway, to Grace: Good luck!\

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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