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FEATURING HER 'TIMPLA'T TIKIM' (Manila Bulletin)
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

CLASSIC CORNER
[A restaurant serves comfort food in a comfortable dining area, at comfortable prices]


Chorisig (Images by MANNY LLANES)  Everyone relishes the memories of meals with loved ones long gone. We remember every detail—the flavor and scent, the colors and textures, the plates, tables, and settings. Even the music on the radio plays faintly in our minds.
Relik Restaurant and Bar brought me several decades back to a time when my dreams were just dreams, when life meant simple, attainable pleasures like a nilaga (boiled meat) on a Sunday, ginisang munggo with fried fish on a Friday, or coarse salt on rice drenched with fresh carabao milk for breakfast. We played Elvis on the turntable, listened to Lola Basyang on the radio, watched Carina Afable on the neighbor’s black-and-white TV set, wore petticoats under balloon-cut skirts, and quarreled with Pat Boone fans. Those happy days were easy to slip into inside Relik, where everything, from the old wood flooring to the vinyl records on the walls, tugs at one’s treasure chest of experiences. Everything… especially the food. TRUE CLASSICS It would be wrong to describe Relik’s Chef Benjo Tuason as old fashioned or conservative. He simply respects tradition and would stick as close to the original recipes as humanly possible. He spent many years preparing dishes from all continents in restaurants all over the world. One day, he decided to pack up and come back home to sort out his thoughts and figure out what to do next. “A Sunday meal with the family opened my eyes. Mom’s arroz ala cubana, with saba bananas and a sunny side up dried egg, its yolk quite runny, the raisins rather plump and sweet. That will always be Sunday in my heart,” he says. READ MORE...

ALSO: Diary of a Maranao princess in Manila


Nesreen Cadar Abdulrauf -How do Muslims live in a country where they are a minority? This is the story of one. Growing up, I was often asked if I was a Maranao princess. According to my uncle Usopay Hamdag Cadar, who knows more about our family history, my maternal grandmother Damo’ao was a high queen or Bai-a-Labi of Bayang, Lanao del Sur. My maternal grandfather is also of royal blood and a Sulutan a Romapunut sa Gapa-o-Balindong or moderator sultan of Gapa-o-Balindong. At present, my father Abdulrauf “Alexander” P. Mama-o sits as the national chairman of Moriatao Diwan, which is among the royalty of Lanao province antedating colonial period in the Philippines. 30My Uncle Usopay once pointed out, “When ruling titles such as ‘sultan’ and ‘queen’ are used in reference to a Maranao, it would be a mistake to think in the same way as the Sultan of Brunei who is powerful and ‘filthy rich’ or the Queen of England who is similarly powerful and wealthy.”  Uncle said there are three basic social classes of Maranaos: the ruling/royal class, the supporting class, and the servant class. But whether you’re a princess or a servant, being a Muslim in a predominantly Catholic country and non-Muslim cities is tough. THE WILL TO PRAY One of the five pillars of Islam or the foundations of Muslim life is to pray five times a day. The obligatory prayers are fajr (dawn to sunrise), zuhr (noon time), asr (mid-afternoon), maghrib (after sunset until dusk), and isha (dusk until dawn). When I was in school, from elementary to college, praying five times a day was very difficult. READ MORE...


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Classic corner
[A restaurant serves comfort food in a comfortable dining area, at comfortable prices]



Chorisig (Images by MANNY LLANES)

MANILA, JANUARY 18, 2016 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Sol Vanzi January 14, 2016 - Everyone relishes the memories of meals with loved ones long gone. We remember every detail—the flavor and scent, the colors and textures, the plates, tables, and settings. Even the music on the radio plays faintly in our minds.

Relik Restaurant and Bar brought me several decades back to a time when my dreams were just dreams, when life meant simple, attainable pleasures like a nilaga (boiled meat) on a Sunday, ginisang munggo with fried fish on a Friday, or coarse salt on rice drenched with fresh carabao milk for breakfast.

We played Elvis on the turntable, listened to Lola Basyang on the radio, watched Carina Afable on the neighbor’s black-and-white TV set, wore petticoats under balloon-cut skirts, and quarreled with Pat Boone fans. Those happy days were easy to slip into inside Relik, where everything, from the old wood flooring to the vinyl records on the walls, tugs at one’s treasure chest of experiences. Everything… especially the food.

TRUE CLASSICS

It would be wrong to describe Relik’s Chef Benjo Tuason as old fashioned or conservative. He simply respects tradition and would stick as close to the original recipes as humanly possible.

He spent many years preparing dishes from all continents in restaurants all over the world. One day, he decided to pack up and come back home to sort out his thoughts and figure out what to do next.

“A Sunday meal with the family opened my eyes. Mom’s arroz ala cubana, with saba bananas and a sunny side up dried egg, its yolk quite runny, the raisins rather plump and sweet. That will always be Sunday in my heart,” he says.

READ MORE...

He found himself yearning for “real food” and realized that people he talked to were getting tired of the “modern, unrecognizable dishes,” which were often invented to shock or amuse.

Thus, Relik’s menu is full of classic fare: thick callos topped with crispy pata, plump gambas using white Pacific prawns from Zambales, chorizig or sisig topped with Spanish chorizo, and tender chunks of garlicky beef salpicao.


Crispy pata Crispy pata

NEW LUNCH DESTINATION

Fort Bonifacio’s uppity office workers discovered Relik’s affordable lunch specials which, for less than R200, already include rice, any main dish, vegetable side dish, and iced tea.

“Many customers are shocked at our prices, which could compete with fast food and pizza joints. Extending our hours and opening earlier than happy hour allow us to serve these inexpensive quality lunches,” Chef Benjo explains.

COCKTAILS AND DINNER

Originally open for cocktails and dinner, Relik offers substantial servings of very popular dishes that people eat as pulutan and for dinner. Their most popular main courses: salpicao, gambas, and chorizig are often ordered as a trio by clients who stop by after office hours.

Also much in demand is the nachos topped with grilled chicken. The nachos are handmade fresh, daily, in the premises and processed using only a rolling pin. So, the nachos remain crisp even after the toppings are added.


COMFORT ON A PLATE Clockwise from top left: Tender beef salpicao; Callos topped with pata; Chef Benjo Tuason; and Plump gambas

If I were asked to describe Relik Restaurant, I would write “comfort food in a comfortable dining room, at comfortable prices.”

2/F Commercenter Bldg, 31st Ave cor 4th St., Fort Bonifacio, Taguig; 02 846 8889


REPOSTING FROM MANILA BULLETIN (First posted JULY 27, 2014)

Diary of a Maranao princess in Manila By Sol Vanzi for PANORAMA, MB Home » Others » Panorama » July 27, 2014 Share this:


Nesreen Cadar Abdulrauf

How do Muslims live in a country where they are a minority? This is the story of one.

Growing up, I was often asked if I was a Maranao princess. According to my uncle Usopay Hamdag Cadar, who knows more about our family history, my maternal grandmother Damo’ao was a high queen or Bai-a-Labi of Bayang, Lanao del Sur.

My maternal grandfather is also of royal blood and a Sulutan a Romapunut sa Gapa-o-Balindong or moderator sultan of Gapa-o-Balindong. At present, my father Abdulrauf “Alexander” P. Mama-o sits as the national chairman of Moriatao Diwan, which is among the royalty of Lanao province antedating colonial period in the Philippines.

My Uncle Usopay once pointed out, “When ruling titles such as ‘sultan’ and ‘queen’ are used in reference to a Maranao, it would be a mistake to think in the same way as the Sultan of Brunei who is powerful and ‘filthy rich’ or the Queen of England who is similarly powerful and wealthy.”

Uncle said there are three basic social classes of Maranaos: the ruling/royal class, the supporting class, and the servant class.

But whether you’re a princess or a servant, being a Muslim in a predominantly Catholic country and non-Muslim cities is tough.

THE WILL TO PRAY

One of the five pillars of Islam or the foundations of Muslim life is to pray five times a day.

The obligatory prayers are fajr (dawn to sunrise), zuhr (noon time), asr (mid-afternoon), maghrib (after sunset until dusk), and isha (dusk until dawn). When I was in school, from elementary to college, praying five times a day was very difficult.

READ MORE...

Having no Muslim peers throughout my growing up years and having no prayer area in schools did not make it easy to pray at noontime, and it was all the more impossible to pray in the mid-afternoon when there was class. I did pledge to myself that after graduating, I would devote more time to praying.

Sadly, I got caught in the same traps of going with the flow. In my first two jobs, I was drowned with work and, yes, I had no Muslim workmates and no prayer area in the workplace.

Alhamdulillah (thanks be to Allah), I now work for a Muslim company doing socio-economic projects for Filipino Muslims.

We pause from our work when it is time to pray, prostrate, and feed our souls. How fulfilling it is when I complete the five prayers in a day!

It’s a priceless achievement. Fortunately, my elder colleagues have inspired me to strive to pray and make no excuses.

Wherever they may be—whether at a restaurant or at the mall—they would look for an area to pray.

Smartphones come in handy now with apps for Muslims such as Adhan (call to prayer) and digital compass to find the qibla (direction to Mecca that should be faced when Muslims pray).

VEIL OF PRIDE


Aisha's Writings 'Hijab' In The Light of Qur'an (PINTEREST IMAGES)

Wearing hijab was also a challenge.

Hijab is a veil that covers the head, ears, neck, and chest. It is worn by a Muslim woman beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of her immediate family.

I put on a veil when I was in fourth year high school. It was not even the real hijab, just a veil pinned and covering my neck. Everybody at school thought I was engaged.

I had to explain over and over that since I was already a teen, I must start dressing modestly to protect my chastity. During my first semester in college, I started wearing my veil “on and off.”The rest of my college years, I ceased to wear it at all.

When I applied for work, I had no veil in my resume photo.

My bosses were surprised when I wore a veil on my first day. I just thought that it would be a great pride to fashion my identity as a Muslim and a Maranao working at a prestigious company. More than that, it was a choice and a way of praising God, Creator of all the good things. I wore the veil throughout my stay in the company. In fact, during my latter months with them, I wore the proper hijab.

“Why are you in full combat gear?” my colleague asked.

Some do see the covering of Muslim women as a form of oppression. But for me, it was liberation. Nowadays, more and more Muslim women are wearing proper hijab fashionably with textiles coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim countries.

FINDING HALAL

Filipino Muslims, however, are still struggling to cope with another basic Muslim cultural facet: eating full halal diet. Halal means “lawful in Islam.”

It does not only pertain to food but it’s a lifestyle including the halal means of living and earning, halal relationship, and so on. Haram,on the other hand, means “forbidden in Islam.”

Pork is the most popular haram food. But besides pig, Muslims are not allowed to eat dogs, snakes, monkeys, and other carnivorous animals with claws and fangs such as lions, tigers, and bears, as well as birds of prey with claws like eagles and vultures, and animals that live both on land and in water such as frogs, and crocodiles.

Halal slaughtering entails the pronouncement Bismillah (In the Name of Allah) invoked immediately before the slaughter of each animal. The slaughtering tool should be sharp and should sever the trachea, esophagus, and main arteries and veins of the neck region.


IN QUIAPO HALAL STORE: Refresh your palate with exotic halal foods (and try the halal burgers and fries)

In Metro Manila, only few halal meat shops can be found. My mother buys from Quiapo and brings it home in Pasig.

There is also an upscale halal meat shop in Makati. In the market, only few products bear the halal logo. Nonetheless, there is still no halal certifying body in the country recognized as credible in the national and global arena.

Muslims, however, still hope that national halal guidelines will be standardized. Senator Cynthia A. Villar, the chairperson of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, filed Senate Bill 312 or the Philippine Halal Act that seeks to establish the Philippine Halal Accreditation and Regulatory Board (PHARB).

The absence of a trustworthy halal food industry affects the tourism in the Philippines. Millions of Muslim tourists opt to go to Malaysia for instance and other Muslim countries where halal restaurants and halal food supplies are the norm.

Despite all the daily challenges faced by Muslim minorities in the Philippines, I am still grateful that I live here in the Philippines and not in other countries where Muslims suffer religious discrimination. In some parts of China, Muslims are forbidden to do fasting.

In Sri Lanka, Muslims are being massacred by Buddhist extremists. In Central Africa, thousands of Muslims are being killed by Christian militias. And in this Holy Month of Ramadan, I share the call to our Muslim and non-Muslim brothers and sisters, “You don’t need to be a Muslim to stand up for Gaza. You just need to be human.”

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Nesreen Cadar Abdulrauf is a young Filipino Muslim journalist. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Cebu City.

For more than three years, she was a writer-producer of “24 Oras,” the leading and multi-awarded newscast of GMA Network, Inc.

She is the editor-in-chief of The Ummah Philippines, the first Islamic business magazine in the country.

Nesreen advocates for peace journalism and fair coverage and reporting about Muslims.

FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM

• Shahadah. Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;

•Salat. Establishment of the five daily prayers;

•Sawm. Self-purification through fasting;

•Zakat. Concern for and almsgiving to the needy; and

•Hajj. The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able


SOL JOSE VANZI's PHNO PAGE


Photo from Kyle Victor Jose's iPAD
Lifestyle/Food and Arts & Culture columnist of the Manila Daily Bulletin.
Signature title "Timpla't Tikim"
http://www.mb.com.ph/lifestyle/


Sol in 1997 Photo: PHNO Editor/Travel & Leisure page
http://www.newsflash.org/staff/solvanzi.htm


Photo of Sol and young Kyle Victor Jose in March 2005 at PHNO/QCNet
office in Levitown, Paranaque. Photoshot by Leo Q. Carolino.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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