Category: Etiquette

Max’s Restaurant, Bon Voyage To Marilou

Max’s Restaurant, Bon Voyage To Marilou

After 3 weeks, Marilou is going back to Los Angeles, California tomorrow!

And as such, we had a family celebration at Max’s Restaurant in Malate, nearby Aristocrat.

Though we remembered our Mother dearly, the reason why we are here in the Philippines,  Marilou and I as well as Peter that is, the dinner at Max was also fun, filled with laughter and food galore.

The family were in full force.  There were Jon (my youngest brother), Alma (his wife), Ella May (their eldest), Michael (their middle child) and Jomari, their youngest.  Our lovely Dayday was also there, Marilou, Myself and Peter, are of course in attendance too.  We were missing our other brother, William, but his situation can’t be helped at the moment.

Anyway, we had a really sumptuous meal.  We had a starter of Lumpiang Sariwa (fresh lumpia) made from finely chopped ubod, garlic, lettuce with sweetened sauce.

For mains, we had deep fried bangus with vinegar dip ( I must say their vinegar is really potent, it was so sour if almost blew my sinuses away), there was roasted crackling of loin pork with lechon-like sauce, there was sinigang na hipon (large shrimps in sour tamarind base soup), there was also kare-kare with a complementary shrimp bagoong. And of course, we had Max’s signature dish, their own recipe of roasted chicken.

There where so much to eat that we were all struggling in the end only to be given a dainty glass full of emerald-like jelly and tapioca/sago called buco pandan pudding.

These were all washed off with glasses of delectable pineapple juice and gallons of iced-water.

I can’t fault Max in anyway, the food was truly good and the service was exemplary.

I supposed, it comes from experience.  It all started in 1945, when Maximo Gimenez, a teacher, started serving chicken and drinks to American troops he befriended stationed near Quezon City.  Maximo’s niece, Ruby, more fondly known as Nanay Ruby was part of the making of the brand according to a caption on a picture proudly displayed in their restaurant.  She created the now famous Max’ chicken, which is tender and juicy in the inside but crispy outside.

The dinner celebration is a fitting homage to a wonderful, beautiful sister.  This is not goodbye but an au revoir, Marilou.  We will see each other again soon.

Be safe in your trip back home!

Our love from us all.

Toilet Queueing – Filipino Style

Harrison Plaza Comfort Rooms, Photo by JMorton

Cultural Center of the Philippines Ladies, Photo by JMorton

Toilet Queueing – Filipino Style

We were shopping at Tutuban Centre and Divisoria today, when we had to use the toilet.  Toilet in the Philippines is more popularly known as CR, short for Comfort Room.

Though there were plenty of women waiting for a vacant cubicle, like everyday anywhere else in the world, I noticed the queuing system is different from the process practised by the queue-loving people of the United Kingdom 🙂 , who hate queue jumpers and disorderly lines.

In the Philippines, the queue is not a single line like in the UK, where you don’t get to choose which toilet to go to but what is available after those ahead of you are finished.

Today, I noticed that you form a line in front of the toilet of your choice.

Without knowing this at first, I almost blurted out that I was there first and not to queue-jump.  Thankfully, I noticed what was happening immediately, otherwise I may have been lynched by bladder-bursting compatriots 🙂 🙂 🙂


Toilets at the Cultural Center of the Philippines was the most beautiful and cleanest I have been to in the Manila.

Mano Po, Filipino Tradition

Mano po,

Mano Po, Filipino Tradition

Mano po is a traditional show of respect and greetings to elders.

For the more materialistic, lol, the ‘mano po’ towards godparents, aunties and uncles you have not seen for a long time means it is time for them to bless their godchildren/nephews/nieces with some money.  LOL

What is mano po?

Mano is a Spanish word, which was from a Latin word, manu meaning hand.  As in the word manufacture with root words of manu – hand, and facture – made.  So really manufacture should mean handmade .but in today society, something manufactured is usually made in some factory in Chine.  LOL.

Po is a Pilipino word which is a term to show respect to your elders or those in a high position (they can be older or even younger but hold high office or they can be quite prominent in the society)

Mano might be from a Spanish word but apparently, this tradition has been practised by Filipinos long before the coming of the Spaniards.

Neighbouring Asian countries such as Indonesia, Brunei and Indonesia have their own version.

Anyway mano might have some Catholic basis in the sense that Catholic bishops wear consecrated episcopal rings that are kissed by priests and parishioners as a show of respect and reverence.

Mano po on the other hand,  is slightly different as the hand is not kissed but gently touched into the forehead of the one offering his/her respect.

A particularly respectful person practices mano po everytime they get home as a sign of greeting to their elders.  This could be done many times a day.

Gaffes – Big Time Social Blunders

Foot in the mouth moment

Foot in the mouth moment

Have you had that experience when you said something and you wish you did not? Have you said some obvious blatant lies and you got found out? Have you said something so tactless that you wish the earth would shallow you that instant?

I am sure you have, as I have done a few times.

Saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time can make you a social outcast or not being popular for a period of time, if not forever.

Often when we have a foot in our mouth, we also try to put the other foot too.  We have been caught mightily with the gaffe and yet we continue to spin, until we are out of control. Learn to zip it.  Just bow your head gracefully and be quiet!

Gaffes – Big Time Social Blunders

Below are some of the gaffes that are guaranteed to offend so take care that you do not become an habitual offender.

  • Never assume a woman is pregnant if she has a bigger than usual tummy.  Mind the congratulations and felicitations. 🙂
  • Never assume that an older man with a younger woman or older woman and younger man to be father and daughter or mother and son. 🙂
  • Think twice or thrice before you post anything in Facebook or twitter (or other social media) something that you feel strongly about at the heat of the moment, this is especially important if it is about your boss or job.  Remember those friends you have in the social media.
  • Check who are on the recipient line when sending emails.

Wedding Proposals for the Masses

More and more people, especially celebrities, are choosing to have that most romantic of occasion – popping the question –  to be recorded, seen and observed by the masses as it was happening.

Marian Rivera & Dingdong Dantes

Marian Rivera & Dingdong Dantes

Philippines’ Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes (with the sobriquet of Royal Couple), who have been going out for a number of years and have been secretly engaged since 2012 couldn’t help themselves from indulging their sense of romance, and right in front of several millions of television viewers and internet users they went through the whole caboodle of being officially engaged, which was initiated by Dingdong going down on one knee brandishing an impressive Harry Winston bling to his lady love, who giggled and teared up throughout the preambling proposal.

Awww They are now slated to get wed towards the end of the year.

Heart Evangelista & Chiz Escudero

Heart Evangelista & Chiz Escudero

Not to be outdone, Senator Chiz Escudero popped the question to Philippines’ sweetheart, Heart Evangelista, a couple of days ago in front of blazing cameras of the press, family and friends as well.  Heart with her heart on her sleeve cried throughout the proposal.  Awww

Another couple is expected to follow suit, perhaps toward the end of the year but certainly no later than next year. We are talking of Angel Locsin and Luis Manzano of course.

All the weddings will be grand affairs, with no expense spared and of course, those who care will get to know every nitty gritty of the ceremony and celebration. It is sure to be covered by all local magazines and television entertainment and news programs.

To be fair, there is precedence to all these thorough coverage. European royals used to announce engagements as detailed as they can.

There was also a time when tradition had it that the new bride and groom’s first night had to be witnessed to ensure that the marriage was consummated. The next day, the sheet they slept in during their first night as man and wife would be hang into the castle/palace balcony, showing a stain of blood to announce that the bride was a virgin and is no longer. LOL

I hope the celebrities do not go this far! But then again virgin brides are now thin on the ground, even in the Catholic Philippines!

Dining Etiquette – Table Manners

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
– W. Somerset Maugham

Dining Etiquette – Table Manners

Screen-shot-2012-10-19-at-9.34.16-AM1GENERAL RULES ON TABLE ETIQUETTE

Refrain from making a noise when eating, or supping from a spoon, and from smacking the lips or breathing heavily while masticating food, as they are marks of ill-breeding. The lips should be kept closed in eating as much as possible.

It is rude and awkward to elevate your elbows and move your arms at the table, so as to incommode those on either side of you.

Whenever one or both hands are unoccupied, they should be kept below the table, and not pushed upon the table and into prominence.

Do not leave the table before the rest of the family or guests, without asking the head, or host, to excuse you, except at a hotel or boarding house.

Tea or coffee should never be poured into a saucer to cool, but sipped from the cup.

If a person wishes to be served with more tea or coffee, he should place his spoon in his saucer. If he has had sufficient, let it remain in the cup.

If by chance anything unpleasant is found in the food, such as a hair in the bread or a fly in the coffee, remove it without remark. Even though your own appetite be spoiled, it is well not to prejudice others.

Always make use of the butter-knife, sugar-spoon and salt-spoon, instead of using your knife, spoon or fingers.

Never, if possible, cough or sneeze at the table.

At home fold your napkin when you are done with it and place it in your ring. If you are visiting, leave your napkin unfolded beside your plate.

Eat neither too fast nor too slow.

Never lean back in your chair, nor sit too near or too far from the table.

Keep your elbows at your side, so that you may not inconvenience your neighbors.

Do not find fault with the food.

The old-fashioned habit of abstaining from taking the last piece upon the plate is no longer observed. It is to be supposed that the vacancy can be supplied, if necessary.

If a plate is handed you at the table, keep it yourself instead of passing it to a neighbor. If a dish is passed to you, serve yourself first, and then pass it on.

The host or hostess should not insist upon guests partaking of particular dishes; nor ask persons more than once, nor put anything on their plates which they have declined. It is ill-bred to urge a person to eat of anything after he has declined.

When sweet corn is served on the ear, the grain should be pared from it upon the plate, instead of being eaten from the cob.

Strive to keep the cloth as clean as possible, and use the edge of the plate or a side dish for potato skins and other refuse.

Maligayang Pasko From The Philippines


I love Christmas in the Philippines. It is celebrated in such a big way. Many establishments and private abodes are already decorated with the glory of Christmas as soon as the wind of September blows its way. The rule of thumb is that when the month ends in “er” it is Christmas time. Hooray, Merry Christmas!!! Maligayang Bati (Happy Hello?!!)

We celebrated Christmas in the Philippines last year after 26 years of Christmases in London. Peter was with me and he seemed to have enjoyed it as much as I did. It was rather a bit of a panic to start with as the whole population of Fullon Street en masse came knocking at our door to wish us a Happy Christmas.

Peter had the time of his life after the initial confusion. It was a different experience for him as Christmas in London is more solemn or rather quieter especially if you do not have much relatives. On Christmas day you tend to be cut off as no public transport is available. You have to rely on taxis which charge the earth (no peace on Earth there) on Christmas day. Lucky for us, we have always love Christmas just being together and if we are lucky our beloved James, Stacey and little Natnat would come round.

Anyway back to the Philippines; we had Noche Buena to welcome Christmas. Mind you we have Noche Buena in London too but not as grand as the ones in the Philippines.

The food was fantastic. We had cakes from Red Ribbon, from Goldilocks and from Pritil Market. We had kakanen etc. My sister-in-law was such a great cook, she made us a fabulous feast fit for the gods or rather for God’s Birthday. I’ll look up picture of the feast and post it here later. It became a laughing ritual that every time we eat something, Peter had to take a photo of the food before it journeyed into our respective esophagus. We had a full house; all the relatives in the house. Peter could not believe how many relative, through me, he has. He was really, really chuffed. He loved being surrounded by smiling people trying to talk to him in part English, part Tagalog and part giggles. 😉

To be continued….. much more to say. hehehe

The Arithmetic of Tipping

Did you know?

The act of tipping may have originated from coffee houses in the city of London in the 17th – 18th century. Apparently merchants would meet up in a coffee-house to do business. As there were no Facebook, Twitters or e-mails yet 😉 the merchants would often leave messages placed in a box; a small coin was then left as payment for a swift delivery. The lid of the box was inscribed with letters: T.I.P which stand for To Insure Promptitude.


The Arithmetic of Tipping

To tip or not to tip… or should it be banned?

By Tom Geoghegan

BBC News Magazine, Washington DC
Tip jar, man with dollar bills, plate with loose change
A New York restaurant has banned tipping to spare customers the bother, while some restaurants in other US cities have already replaced the gratuity with a fixed optional service charge. So is the discretionary tip falling out of favour in the land where it’s king?

A young man and woman are sitting in a restaurant in New York, enjoying their second date.

The man pays the waiter the bill and heads to the bathroom while the woman gathers her things.

“How much did he tip?” she asks the waiter. He tells her.

When the man comes back to the table, there is an angry exchange and she says she doesn’t want to see him again.

A tip of 8.5% brought that romance to a premature end.

Who to tip in US and how much

Tip jar opened
  • Sitdown meal: 15-20%
  • Buffet meal: 10%
  • Home delivery: 10-15%
  • Bartender: $1-2 a drink
  • Toilet attendant: 50c-$3
  • Valet: $2-5
  • Doorman: $1-4 for luggage, $1-2 for hailing a cab (add a $1 in the rain)
  • Hotel housekeeper: $2-5 a day
  • Taxi: 15-20%
  • Hair/Facial/Massage/Manicure: 15-20%

This story, told years later by the waiter that night, Steve Dublanica, reflects both how seriously Americans take tipping and how loaded with social meaning it has become.

The size of tips has increased and the list of those who expect them is growing also, in recent years joined by staff in takeaways.

Meanwhile, tip jars have proliferated to such an extent you may be confronted by one where you receive your sandwich and another one a few feet away where you pay for it.

It’s a custom that’s become second nature for most Americans, although there’s still a sharp intake of breath when they see three or four hotel staff involved in taking their luggage from the boot of the car and up to the room.

But it’s worse for visitors – whom to tip and how much can be a source of debate, confusion and often anxiety at doing the wrong thing or appearing to be ungenerous.

Tip the barman but not the shop assistant, reward the hairdresser but not if he or she owns the salon. Give the hotel luggage guy a dollar or two but not the receptionist. And don’t under-tip.

One British tourist says she and her friends were followed out of a Manhattan restaurant by an angry waiter unhappy with a 10-15% tip.

“The waiter gave us the tip back and told us it wasn’t good enough, that as tourists we didn’t understand that we had to give more in New York,” says Janine Windust.

“One of my friends, a New Yorker, told him it was discretionary and not to be so rude, but the three Brits couldn’t be bothered to argue and left him the full 20%.

“He chased us down the street, shouting ‘I don’t want it now, have it back!’ Then there was a massive street argument over it.”

A frustrated tipper writes…

“Whenever I object that this system means that almost every transaction you undertake in America is booby-trapped with social awkwardness, I am shouted down.”

BBC’s Kevin Connolly

That’s an extreme reaction to what in the UK would be considered a reasonable tip, but some visitors to the US who leave no, or low, tips don’t fully understand how critical they are to a worker’s livelihood.

The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers is $2.13 an hour, with tips expected to take the wage to $7.25 an hour.

“It was difficult and I lived and died by my tips,” says Dublanica, who worked in New York restaurants for seven years and wrote a blog about it called Waiter Rant.

“If you don’t tip, I can’t pay the rent. But the reality is you can work hard and get no tips and do nothing and get good tips.”

In the restaurant business, which accounts for about two-thirds of all tips paid in the US, there are signs of change.

Since last week, staff at Sushi Yasuda in New York have no need to worry about the generosity or tightfistedness of their customers.

Owner Scott Rosenberg has banned tipping, saying his staff already get a good wage, with benefits. He told The Price Hike he wants to improve the dining experience by eliminating the “math equation” from the end-of-meal ritual.

Other upmarket American restaurants have introduced an optional service charge of 15-20% instead of a tip. This is a common practice in the UK, usually between 10-15%.

This is a big issue in the hospitality industry now, says Dublanica, who adds he would support a service charge divided between employees if it helped to provide a proper wage and benefits such as sick pay. But he can’t see it catching on.

“Even though the quality of service doesn’t affect tipping, Americans are under the illusion they are tipping on service and like the illusion of being able to reward. They don’t want to have that option taken away from them.”

Why do people tip?

  • Gain social approval
  • Avoid guilt
  • Reward good service
  • Increase waiters’ incomes
  • Buy future service (if returning)
  • Ingratiate server

Source: Michael Lynn

Tipping is an important custom, he believes, because it propagates the “American myth” that hard work brings reward.

But even Americans are not united in their support, with feelings that range from exasperation to outright resistance. The website Ban Tipping rallies aroundits central message: “We are educated consumers, and we do not tip. Deal with it.”

One diner in California last year left a note in lieu of a tip and blamed an increase in sales tax.

In the memorable opening scene of the film, Reservoir Dogs, Mr Pink speaks for many when he questions why it is customary to tip some professions and not others.

Reservoir Dogs diner scene

Taking up this point, Lizzie Post, co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, says it’s customary to tip those who perform a service for you, although she acknowledges the inconsistency of rewarding the guy who moves your furniture but not the guy who cleans your clothes.

If drycleaners and others did get in on the action, the tipping economy would be even larger than it is now.

A man who has written 51 papers on the subject, Michael Lynn, of Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, estimates the tipping economy to be worth about $40bn (£25bn). That’s more than twice the budget of Nasa.

Taiwan says no to tipping

image of Cindy SuiCindy SuiBBC News, Taipei

Tipping is not a common practice in Taiwan, but many trendy or upscale restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bill, which is typically not shared with employees, but kept by the employers.

With consumer spending languishing and rising pressure to raise wages recently, some restaurateurs convinced legislators to try to talk the Taiwan Tourism Bureau into promoting a tipping system. The bureau’s officials recently suggested Taiwan should start a tipping culture. But many local people disagreed and the bureau has since dropped the plan.

Taiwan already prides itself for having “some of the friendliest people in the world” and the naysayers say no tipping is needed. They argue that restaurants should simply pay higher wages. Taiwan’s wages are low compared to the cost of living. In fact they are at the level they were 15 years ago if inflation is factored in.

With slowing population growth and restrictions on hiring migrant workers for jobs locals can do, restaurateurs are finding it hard to find good staff and keep them on such low wages. But customers say they don’t want to have to shoulder the burden.

But Lynn thinks tipping does imperceptible damage to collective well-being and he would like to see the custom outlawed in restaurants.

“It’s a net drain on social welfare and our happiness. I think more people tip out of social obligation than tip because they want to, so people are parting with money they would rather keep.

“I don’t know people are necessarily consciously aware of this. Most people would deny they tip for avoidance [of disapproval by peers and guilt], they say it’s for good service, but I’ve looked at it and they don’t reward good service substantially.”

He also believes, based on his own research and other studies, that restaurant tipping is discriminatory, a system in which both black and white diners tip white servers more than black ones.

So he anticipates a class action brought by ethnic minority waiters and waitresses that could lead to tipping being declared illegal.

A service charge evenly divided between employees would head off any legal action. But that doesn’t make economic sense, says Sherry Jarrell, a professor of economics at Wake Forest University and a former waitress.

“I think that customers will see the service charge as, firstly, a price increase on the food bill, secondly, a disincentive for using tipping to incent superior waitressing.

“To the extent it destroys a waiter’s incentive to earn a high tip, it’s harmful,” she says. “I see very little economic behaviour or results that is improved by the move. All cost, no benefit.”

Resistance to change would come from plenty of restaurant staff who make more money from tips than they would from the share of a service charge.

“Start Quote

Tipping, and the aristocratic idea it exemplifies, is what we left Europe to escape”

William Rufus Scott in 1916

And customers wouldn’t welcome it either, says Curt Gathje, lead editor at Zagat, who says it’s so ingrained in the dining experience that it would be a difficult habit for many people to unlearn.

So a ban seems a long way off but there was a time when tipping was widely frowned upon in the US. Six states even outlawed it.

The custom arrived in the US from Europe in the late 1800s but early in the 20th Century, an anti-tipping campaign gathered pace, driven by the view it was undemocratic and a means to create a servant class.

“Tipping, and the aristocratic idea it exemplifies, is what we left Europe to escape,” wrote William Rufus Scott in 1916.

His anti-tipping manual, The Itching Palm, went on: “In a republic where all men were supposed to be equal, some cannot be superior until they grind other men into dust. Tipping comes into a democracy to provide that relation.”

Washington was the first state to ban it in 1909, followed by Arkansas, Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. But these laws were all repealed by 1926, and since then tipping has flourished.

Now the US is probably the most tip-friendly country on earth, says Ofer Azar, a professor of behavioural economics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, but there are huge international variations.

Bar chart

“Tipping can be problematic because it seems to create classes, that of the customers, and that of the service workers, who have to satisfy the customers and sort of ‘beg’ for the tips,” he says.

That is part of the reason why tipping wasn’t allowed in communist USSR and China, and still isn’t common in Scandinavia, he says – places where inequality was or is relatively low.

For those Americans who really want to avoid it, another international study offers some non-tipping havens they can escape to.

Mark Starbuck spent 10 years writing an unpublished thesis on tipping, in which he identified only four African countries that commonly practise it – Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia.

In Singapore, tips are supposedly illegal, he found, while in Fiji, Iceland and Japan, they cause embarrassment and offence.

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