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Meghan, manners and swim

This Monday was a most controversial day for the royal house of England when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex went to air with Oprah Winfrey. Going through the various internet sites, it seems to be fairly equal for the beleaguered royal couple and Buckingham Palace.

I must have spent 15 hours going through tidbits of the interview through CNN and other media outlets, reading comments and posts on both Instagram and Twitter for #harryandmeghan. You know what? It’s great fodder for royal hounds and gossip chasers. It definitely will be a hot topic of table conversations and sides will heat up tempers as people will jostle for the side of the exiled couple or the Institution of Britain’s royals.

Menchi Lizares Valenzuela, sister of Junie and Paul Lizares; Monch Torres makes my heirloom Steinway piano tinkle away with Mozart and Chopin; right, Charming Kim Palermo*

Well, there are always two sides to the coin PLUS the truth! Eventually, I would predict that both sides would garner points equally. However, I still wonder why Meghan never even Googled who Prince Harry was at the outset of their love affair. Everyone Googles any stranger nowadays who could affect their lives.

Considering that Prince Harry had already initiated courting her, she went on with the relationship not knowing who this gentleman was with all the available information one could get nowadays on the internet? And as for the Palace and all its staff, I wonder why they never trained the Duchess on royal protocol, history, etc. when all these were obligatory starting from Princess Diana to Princess Kate. Were they too eager to have Prince Harry settle down with anybody so that he would buckle down from his “wilder days”?

And dahlinks, we must remember that America cut ties with Great Britain a long, long time ago when it declared independence. This will definitely be a war between the Palace and Hollywood!

Alyssa Villanueva and Mary Rose Solidum; right photo, from left, Razel Dellomos, Frances Hom, Aubrey Ramos and Randell Radan*

Which brings me to a relevant issue nowadays that seems out of touch with young families. I am talking about good manners and how parents and schools have deemed such ways as out of touch or irrelevant for these trying times. Well, I’ve survived in a strange land during the Martial Law days, thanks to the good manners imbued by my parents and my school.

Papá and Mamá were hard bound sending me enough money to cover my tuition in the Sorbonne studying French Language and Civilisation and afterwards going on to fashion school in the world renowned L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, where the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Courréges graduated.

Pairings, from left, Razel Dellomos and Cholo Tupas, Aubrey Ramos and Monch Torres*

 With a government approved limit of $250-a-month allowance, my parents had to wheel and deal with connections, OFWs and patients to send me checks from America and elsewhere so that I could live comfortably in Paris, France which is known to be one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

Knowing almost no one except for a handful of compatriots in the City of Lights, the doors to Parisian High Society was opened to me, thanks to the old fashioned good manners I was brought up with. I remember Papá insisting in bringing me to have dinner dressed in coat and tie to the old Bascon Hotel in Gatuslao Street so that he could teach me how to eat properly my sizzling steak and salad as I excitedly watched the floor show that went with the meal.

Jungle Joe’s, from left, Angelo Regalado, Monch Torres, Xyrus Moranda and Cholo Tupas*

I remember cringing at the thought of another luncheon in my grandmother’s house in Silay where I had to greet and kiss everyone from perfumed spinster aunts to sweaty grand uncles and be tossed up in the air by over friendly drivers and pinched in the cheeks by the kitchen help down to the laundrywoman. I had to introduce myself to everybody as the son of Dr. and Mrs. Ed Garcia, grandson of Doña Josefita Tionko Vda. de Lacson.

But in return for all these protocol and manners, I was awarded with being the Child Jesus during the traditional lunch for the Feast of St. Joseph and would receive lots of money as guests would be obliged to give some token to each member of the “Holy Family” before they took their leave after the grand luncheon.

More Silay privileges were given like being hoisted up the chariot in the Holy Week procession after having lighted up all the candles in the procession. There was also the bags of candies I got to throw to the children who would  come to watch the Nativity tableau which still up to this day decorates the ground floor of our Silay ancestral home every Christmas with having the choice of candies I could keep before giving them away.

I was taught to be nice and friendly to everyone in parties as I grew up to be a teenager and make sure I danced with all the girls, especially the wall flowers. This became an asset as I was able to dance with the most popular girls when they were deluged by admirers waiting in line for their approval for a dance while they just excused themselves and signalled me to rescue them by holding out my hand for a dance.

But it was really in Paris, where I learned that my good manners made me stand out from the rest. I was invited to the galas at the Opera and sat in the front rows of the royal mezzanine because I knew how to behave with anyone from exiled princesses to jet-setters, famous celebrities to millionaires. Good manners also paved my way up the corporate ladder of the famed fashion houses to the global conglomerate of Club Mediterranée who planned to make me their CEO for their Philippine headquarters.

Unfortunately, a wise guy had already registered the brand to some resort in Batangas. Great manners gave me a position at the Paris Philippine Embassy during the Aquino revolution. They made me survive and thrive in the cut throat business of Advertising in Manila. And all I had to do was open doors to the ladies, say “Good morning” to everyone in the office and shake hands if possible, and try my best to be pleasantly helpful in any situation from bringing a cup of coffee to the boss or fixing tie of a coworker. As Fred Astaire said, “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.”

Well, I was quite impressed with the manners that my grand nephew’s friend Monch Torres showed when he played beautifully on the piano when they came for a swim in my house. Besides showing the qualities of a Renaissance Man, he also reassured me that Millennials appreciate classical music. Up to now, I still can’t understand Rap. But I grin and bear it, since I do mind my manners.

Being a good host, I served Paulyne Genson’s sourdough pizzas, Antoinette Lacson’s exquisite lemon cupcakes and a bottle of Pinot Grigio to accompany the hummus and pita bread I got from an Israeli restaurant in Eroreco. Obviously everyone enjoyed because they were in the pool til way past 9 in the evening.*

MY PRAYER. My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the word that I speak—it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do. Isaiah 55:10-11,TEV

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June 2022

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