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It’s tikoy time

Tikoy is the one closely associated with Chinese New Year. It is a popular gift because it is sticky and therefore symbolizes the way families and friends will stick together in the coming year.

Dolly Dy-Zulueta



Everybody’s familiar with tikoy, that round, sticky, Chinese delicacy made from glutinous rice flour and sugar, which is given away to friends by Chinese families during the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

Given the big Chinese community in the Philippines, which is home to the oldest Chinatown in the world, Chinese New Year has through the years evolved into a national celebration or holiday involving not just the Chinese or Chinoys but also full-blooded Pinoys. And when it comes to food, tikoy is the one closely associated with Chinese New Year. It is a popular gift because it is sticky and therefore symbolizes the way families and friends will stick together in the coming year.

The tikoy is present in all Chinese New Year celebrations happening all over the world. It is better known elsewhere as nian gao, which literally means “year cake.” In Indonesia, where it is made only once a year, it goes by the name kue keranjang. In Malaysia, its name happens to be kuih bakul. In Vietnam, it answers to the name bάnh to. Its other names are khanom kheng (Thailand), tikay (Burma), seenakku (Sri Lanka).

Marriott Hotel Manila’s Premium Red Box with two Koi-shaped tikoys.

By whatever name it goes, it is the same rice cake made with glutinous rice cake flour that has been ground into a paste and sweetened with sugar, then is poured into a cake pan and steamed. Once it sets and hardens, it can be cut into thick, rectangular slices and eaten as is or dipped in beaten egg and fried.

Being a Chinoy, when I was growing up, I would wait for the tikoy to harden a bit in the ref (so it would be easier to slice), then carefully cut a few thick slices, peel off the plastic liner, and bite into a slice. Since it has been steamed, technically, the tikoy is already cooked and ready to eat straight out of the box, I would eat it as is. I preferred it over slices of tikoy that have been dipped in beaten egg and pan-fried. These days, tikoy can also be enjoyed as tikoy turon. Simply slice tikoy, wrap it with lumpia wrapper on its own or with fresh or bottled jackfruit, and pan-fry until golden crisp.

In Malaysia, tikoy is fried in between pieces of taro or sweet potato to make a sandwich. In Sri Lanka, it is enjoyed with grated coconut.

There was a time when there were only two variants of tikoy to choose from — the brown tikoy and the white tikoy — whose color depended on the type of sugar used to sweeten them. Brown sugar or white sugar. When I was a kid and had no care about health, I would pick the white tikoy over the brown one any time. As an adult, though, I went for the brown tikoy.

These days, tikoy comes in different flavors and colors — ube or purple yam (purple), pandan (green), langka or jackfruit (yellow), mango (yellow orange) and strawberry (pink). Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, whose Cantonese restaurant Lung Hin offers a range of nian gao yearly, even has a pandan and coconut flavored tikoy as well as a red dates sugar flavored tikoy this year. While the traditional tikoy came in a crude round shape lined with plastic and then covered on top with a plastic sheet with the Chinese character for luck printed in red, Marco Polo Ortigas’ nian gao are immaculately molded, with the Chinese character for luck embossed on it. And aside from the round tikoys, the hotel’s nian gao also comes in gold bar shapes in the double gold bar nian gao in brown sugar.

Gold Tin Can contains an Ingot-shaped and a Koi-shaped tikoy.­

Over at Marriott Hotel Manila’s Man Ho Chinese restaurant, tikoy is available in a premium red box sealed with a gold stamp. It contains two pieces of koi fish-shaped tikoy (weighing 350 grams and 750 grams each). It is also available in a gold tin can containing a koi-shaped tikoy and an ingot-shaped tikoy (weighing 350 grams and 750 grams, respectively). The koi fish symbolizes good luck and abundance, while the Chinese gold ingot was used in ancient China as money so it symbolizes good fortune or prosperity in the coming year.

In shape, flavor, color and design, the Chinese New Year delicacy, tikoy or nian gao, has certainly come a long way. But whether it comes in a crude traditional round shape or a perfect 3D koi, ingot or gold bar form, the tikoy continues to be the symbol of good luck and good fortune in the Chinese New Year, even as all the Chinese communities in the world prepare to welcome the Year of the Metal Rat on 25 January this year.

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Kiong Hee Huat Chay! Happy Chinese New Year! It is tikoy time!

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila’s Round Tikoy in Pandan and Coconut Flavor.

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Second chance at life

When you’re in a dark place, with no end in sight, your mind can give you a lot of depressing thoughts. I now understand those who experienced panic and anxiety attacks. Everything weighs down on you.





COVID-19 survivor Wilbert “Wil” Tolentino.

“I am a COVID-19 survivor, and a lucky one at that!” declared entrepreneur Wilbert “Wil” Tolentino after a grueling fortnight at St. Luke’s Medical Center Quezon City. He is now on the road to full recovery, and living his second chance at life.

Wil’s ordeal started after suffering from sore eyes. A physician friend told him what to do, while also warning him it could be a symptom of COVID-19. After a swab test in a private diagnostic center, he was relieved the result was negative.

When he felt back and chest pains, however, he had another swab test two days later in another clinic, just to be sure. When the results came, he was aghast to find that he tested positive.

He went into solitary confinement and started ingesting Chinese herbal remedies. He even stayed away from his three-year-old son Willard so the kid won’t be contaminated.

When his condition did not get any better, he went to a hospital and sought treatment. “I had a difficult time breathing. It looked like I was heaving every time I gasped for air. Heaviness filled my chest,” said Wil.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 and a severe case of pneumonia, plus a condition known clinically as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Wil was intubated for the next three days in the intensive care unit.

“I hardly slept while the tubes were attached to my mouth. It felt like a soup ladle was shoved down my windpipe. It was not a nice feeling. And the whir of the machines only made me feel worse,” he recalled.

During hospital confinement, what made him hold on were the well-wishes of family and friends, aside from fervent prayers of his own. At one low point, he told close friends and relatives that, should he succumb to the disease, his son Willard will be left in the care of his brothers.

“When you’re in a dark place, with no end in sight, your mind can give you a lot of depressing thoughts. I now understand those who experienced panic and anxiety attacks. Everything weighs down on you,” he said.

When the worst was finally over, he mentioned all the doctors and medical professionals as curative catalysts who helped him survive.

In recognition and appreciation of the Filipino front-liners’ undying service to COVID-19 patients, most especially his co-survivors, Wil has invited medical professionals and workers to participate in “The Front-liners Online Challenge” in which five of the most compelling stories of hope and bravery will receive cash prizes.

All they need to do is check out the contest’s mechanics on Wil’s Facebook page (Wilbert Tolentino) and look for the specific Sir Wil online challenge, as there are several choices.

Wil’s two-week hospital stay has made him value life and allowed him to focus on the more important things, like faith in the Almighty.

As a COVID-19 survivor, he is now an advocate of spreading awareness to help curb the rise of infections. “For instance, I would like to emphasize that people should never wear face masks with built-in fans like what I used to wear. The fans suck in airborne viruses into the mask, which the wearer eventually breathes in.”

Wil is also donating blood for St. Luke’s or the Red Cross’ supply of convalescent plasma.

Wil likewise hopes to erase the stigma on those who have tested positive, but most specially the survivors. A number have been evicted from their rented houses.

And as one who have gone through anxiety and depression, he wants to help patients get through the dark days towards full recovery.

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A houseful of ‘suman’




SUMAN goes well with a hot cup of sikwate-a Filipino chocolate made from tablea (ground cacao beans).

In a country where rice is life, it’s no surprise that a favorite snack of Filipinos is suman, a hand-rolled, sticky rice cake wrapped in banana and palm leaves.

We’ve come across varieties of suman all over the archipelago. There’s tupig in Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan, suman pinipig in Bulacan, suman moron and budbod in the Visayas, and pintos in Mindanao — which have different preparations and sizes, and certain ingredients added.

But what makes the suman of Misamis Occidental — specifically the ones made by the Clarin House of Suman — different from the others? That’s what we sought to find out on a trip to the town of Clarin.


House that OTOP built
Clarin House of Suman was founded in 2009 through the one town, one product (OTOP) initiative of the government to boost community-driven industries that make locally sourced products.

It gained prominence when it was invited to the international food event Madrid Fusion Manila in 2017.

What makes Clarin’s suman different is its fusion of diverse flavors. Currently it offers 20 flavors — including the classic plain suman, as well as ube, langka, mango, pineapple, chocolate, cheese, yema, latik, buko and even durian.

PUTO Maya, another traditional Filipino snack perfect as a ‘pasalubong.’


Honestly, an old favorite of mine has been the chocolate budbod suman in Dumaguete. But I’ll have to add Clarin’s tablea suman as a new preference.

But there won’t be a house of suman without a suman factory. Like a kid visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate plant, we giddily observed around 20 suman makers as they mixed and battered ingredients, hand-rolled sticky rice and wrapped them in banana leaves.

Every day, the suman makers make 3,000 to 5,000 suman pieces that are sold out before closing time. Now that’s a box-office hit.

Travelers passing through the Ozamis-Oroquieta National Highway won’t miss the green-painted Clarin House of Suman. Aside from this specialty, there were other pasalubong goods for family and friends.

I bought a dozen suman and a couple of packs of tablea.

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Celebrity chef mom presents US pork recipes





CHEF mom Rosebud Benitez prefers cooking with high-quality US pork.

Celebrity chef mom Rosebud Benitez presents a meal plan for the stay-at-home lifestyle with US Pork, Eats the Best, a new e-cooking series on her YouTube channel.

Featuring US pork as the main ingredient of the recipes, Rosebud highlights the importance of cooking a high-quality, wholesome product.

In the first two episodes, she demonstrates her recipes for US Pork Belly Casserole and US Pork Spareribs Sinigang with Watermelon — both good for every family occasion.

“What I love about US pork is that the pigs are grain-fed, which means they have high-quality, delicious meat. As a chef, using US pork is also more convenient with its consistent primal and new pork cuts,” says Rosebud.


Brought to the Philippines by local meat importers, US pork undergoes stringent food safety standards monitored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Another USDA agency, the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, also checks and operates livestock health and welfare programs. Both agencies are recognized by the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture and the National Meat Inspection Service.

US pork is nutrient-rich with a relatively low calorific value. Aside from providing protein, pork contains important vitamins and minerals and serves as a primary source of Vitamins B6, B12, niacin, and riboflavin, and is a good source of iron.

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Singapore Food Fest delights online





CHEF Ming Tan, the managing partner of the Slake Collective, introduces and explains the ingredients that come with his Hokkien Mee kit that were made available during the Singapore Food Festival 2020 that allowed people to create this signature Singaporean dish at home and elevate their dining experience. PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THE SINGAPORE FOOD FESTIVAL

The Singapore Food Festival (SFF) was held online with its delightful offers despite the pandemic. This year’s edition continued to showcase local culinary and F&B talents who have been pursuing their passion and inspiring the foodie spirit among its followers.

Singapore has a multi-ethnic culture that is well represented in its varied and colorful dishes — from Chicken Rice to Nasi Lemak, Roti Prata to Claypot Rice — each with its own distinct flavors and tastes.

With the theme “Rediscover the Foodie in You,” the Singapore Tourism Board’s SFF 2020 brought together more than 25 F&B partners who converged to serve up gastronomic experiences that allowed audiences to watch the festival at home.

Held across two weekends in August, the SFF featured online food tours, live masterclasses, chef collaborations, food bundles and limited-edition food merchandise.

Ruby Liu, Singapore Tourism Board’s Philippines area director, said: “As we took the Singapore Food Festival online for the first time, we wanted foodies the world over to rediscover Singaporean cuisine from wherever they may be. This year’s programming truly had something for everyone, blending the joy of feasting with interactive and engaging experiences, especially with the live masterclasses and virtual food tours.”



Filipino chef Margarita Forés collaborated with Singaporean chef Ming Tan in preparing Hokkien Mee, a noodle dish using prawn stock; and Chicken Claypot Rice, a well-loved rice casserole, live from their respective countries. The two culinary celebrities led the festival’s master class dubbed 2Fast, 2Delicious—Hokks & Clay by Slake (Singapore) x Cibo (Philippines),
Forés, voted Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2016, is the owner of restaurants Cibo, Lusso, Grace Park, and signature caterer Cibo di Marghi.

Tan is the managing partner of the Slake Collective which includes homegrown brands like KIAP and Tokidon, as well as the consultant chef for JAM at Siri House, and is the part of Channel News Asia’s top-rating series “For Food’s Sake.”

By utilizing Slake’s Damn Easy Hokkien Mee and On-the-Spot Claypot Rice kits, Tan and Forés showed how easy it is to prepare signature Singapore dishes — under 15 minutes.

The chefs also shared some of their personal flavor secrets — showing everyone how anyone at home can level up their home dining experience.

For her Hokkien Mee interpretation, Forés ingeniously added pork belly, chicharon, crispy fish, river prawn and talangka or crab fat for a tangy Filipino touch. For her Claypot Rice, Filipino chorizo gave it a distinct and delectable taste.

Tan’s take on Hokkien Mee added blow-torched soy-marinated pork shabu with crispy fish and calamansi. For his Claypot Rice, goose liver sausage, lap cheong, and aged chai poh were wonderful flavor additions.



Noting the cuisine similarities in their respective countries, Tan said: “Filipino cuisine, like Singaporean cuisine, enjoys strong flavors and we like our sour things, too” and that the two cultures “have similar taste preferences, use similar ingredients like herbs and spices.”

For her part, Forés said that “the similarities are more evident with food with strong Malay influences from the South of the Philippines like curries and Rendangs.”

She added: “The Chinese slant in Singaporean dishes is something you can find in both countries.”

As these two acclaimed chefs demonstrated through their culinary creations, Singapore and the Philippines have much in common food-wise. These similarities help in bolstering cultural ties, forging closer bonds fostered in the kitchen and over the dining table.

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Fifty San Mateos in Mindanao




THE author enjoys the greenery in pleasant San Mateo City, California, USA in 2016. PHOTOGRAPH BY LOUISE ABEZA FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

The 21st of September is the feast day of St. Matthew or San Mateo. He is mentioned in books of the New Testament of the Holy Scriptures as one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. One scene in the Bible said Matthew was sitting in a tax collector’s place when Jesus chanced upon him. The encounter led Matthew to be a follower of Jesus.

With information technology, it would be great if people from all walks of life and from different cultures and religions would take an interest in St. Matthew and his deeds.

In 2016, I was blessed to have been invited by my high school best friend to stay with her and her family in San Mateo City, San Mateo County in California, USA. I had the opportunity to work for two months as math and reading teacher in Serramonte Kumon Math and Reading Center in Daly City, San Mateo County (south of San Francisco).

San Mateo is the third smallest county in California. Its hilly terrain makes the place so charming, as varieties of plants and flowers deck the upside and downside of the residential areas, as well as the commercial districts.

Since the county forms part of the San Francisco Bay area, the climate in San Mateo is very pleasant from March to June, which happened to be the months I was there.

Flying back to Manila on 5 June, I thought about the newly elected Philippine President who hails from Mindanao. I had cast my vote for the May 2016 elections via the Philippine consulate in San Francisco.

Mindanao has a land area of 97,530 square kilometers.

San Mateo County in California — where I had an enriching experience (notwithstanding the nitty gritty of daily novel challenges – has a land area of 1,927 square kilometers.

If taxes are properly used in government projects that will really benefit Filipinos, the Philippines, in the future, can have 50 San Mateos in Mindanao.

I now think of my former Filipino primary students in Serramonte Kumon Math and Reading Center. They might one day decide to be engineers and help build the infrastructures in a peaceful and progressive Mindanao.

As we celebrate St. Matthew’s feast day, let us not forget that governments in any corner of the world rely on taxes to provide for the needs of their people. Taxes, however, become an unpleasant, unwelcome burden if they go to the pockets of unscrupulous public officials or are wasted on projects of poor standards or on superfluous ones.

Through the intercession of St. Matthew, may the taxpayers, tax collectors, tax users and tax beneficiaries be inspired to be patriotic enough to give their honest share in making the Philippines a haven of peace and prosperity.

May the dream of 50 San Mateos in Mindanao be a reachable star.

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Support local when shopping for PPE





MAKE it fashionably safe amid this pandemic.

COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people dress. Going out now means wearing clothes that provide some coverage to protect oneself and others, too.

This is why local brands at Shangri-La Plaza have stepped up to the challenge, offering a range of personal protective equipment (PPE). Shang has also made it easier for mall guests to quickly identify these new must-haves with special discounts via the eye-catching Spot the Dot stickers, so they can save time shopping, and minimize their exposure to others.

For face masks that offer an extra layer of safety and comfort over the usual ones, check out the Banale Active Mask from AlterEgo that comes with the Porous Filtering Technology that can protect users from bacteria, dust, pollen, cold, and harmful ultraviolet rays. Allena also offers the innovative VorText Max face masks that are designed as a concave and made of lightweight, breathable and 3D Spacer Fabrics for unimpeded airflow. Try out the leather face masks from Fino Leatherware designed to survive wear and tear. The brand has also developed a specially formulated, water-based and non-toxic leather disinfectant to keep the mask in good form for a longer time.

Head on to Rajo! to find unique face masks with catchy lines like “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” and “Underneath I Am Smiling.” This shop by renowned fashion designer Rajo Laurel also offers protective outerwear for women in black, white, maroon, and navy. For more PPE options, visit Mosaic as it offers lightweight protective ponchos with masks that are made of rainy day-friendly water repellent fabric.

For coats that can be easily paired with any outfit, get the Emma coat from MICO Boutique in butterscotch, denim blue, cappuccino, midnight blue, and white. The shop also offers the Palermo protective coat that has a classic unisex design. To keep clothes clean even while on-the-go, check out Regatta for its antibacterial and deodorizing fabric disinfectant spray. Plus, the store also offers minimalist neoprene masks and men’s pullover that can serve as a protective coat.

As the global pandemic continues to change almost every aspect of human life, people are now being more mindful of their purchases. That’s why #ShangRecommends mall guests to support local and purchase fashion items that help stop the spread of the virus. #ShopShangNow for purposeful pieces that are carefully curated to address today’s new routines and challenges.

For inquiries, visit Follow the Shang on Instagram: @shangrilaplazaofficial.


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Pandacan’s great loss, unexpected gift





At 7:59 in the evening of 20 August 1937, an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.5 struck off the coast of Real in Quezon province, shaking Luzon and nearby islands, causing damage of varying degrees to old houses, commercial establishments, and churches in Manila and a number of other areas.

The day after, the Australian newspaper The Examiner reported “three earthquake shocks, described as the most serious in the Philippines for years, rocked the city and surrounding city yesterday, disrupting telephone and power services.” It added that masonry buildings suffered cracks and water lines busted, but noted no casualties, despite of the earthquake’s magnitude.

The newspaper added that “the earth shocks (possibly referring to the main jolt and strong aftershocks) occurred an hour after the arrival of a shipload of American refugees from Shanghai” who were most likely fleeing the commencing second Chinese-Japanese war.

One of the historic structures that were damaged by the earthquake was the Spanish-era church of Santo Niño in Pandacan, Manila.

Images of the church published in Bulletin No. 14 of the National Research Council of the Philippine Islands in December 1937, in an article written by researchers Ambrosio Magsaysay and Jose Feliciano, showed large cracks on church walls and collapsed upper levels of the belfry. The adjoining convent, however, survived the tremor.

But what survived the earthquake and the Second World War was totally destroyed during a massive fire in the morning of 10 July 2020. The reconstructed church and the Spanish-era convent were both gutted by the 70-minute blaze.


Inset is a pair of old ganchillo shoes.

The most important object lost in the fire was the 17th-century venerated image of the Santo Niño de Pandacan, which is noted for its rarity and high religious and historic values.

Aside from the image of the Child Jesus, heritage advocate and devotee Kevin Bermejo said among the treasures that were destroyed by the fire was the 18th century crucifix, an image of the Cristo Resucitado, the baptismal font where key figures were baptized such as Fr. Jacinto Zamora and Ladislao Bonus, a silver altar piece, and the antique ganchillo shoes of the Niño.

Bermejo, who lamented the loss of church cultural heritage, said the “year 2020 will go down in history as the saddest year in our humble town of Pandacan.”

But he added that church records survived the fire since these were stored in the parish office which is separate from the convent.

Nonetheless, in a meaningful act of ecumenism in the Year of Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church), through its genealogical organization FamilySearch, recently turned over microfilmed and digitized records of the church dating back to 1778 through 1968.


IMAGE of Santo Niño de Pandacan.

The turnover of a USB stick containing the records was led by LDS General Authority Seventy Elder Taniela Wakolo, FamilySearch Philippines area manager Felivir Ordinario, Latter-Day Saint Charities representative John Balledos, and communication head Haidi Fajardo.

Parish priest Fr. Sanny de Claro accepted the digitized documents — birth and marriage records, among others — amid a backdrop of the ruined church complex and expressed his gratitude for the donation.

“The records donated by FamilySearch will help restore the records they have lost, as well as prepare the parish for the celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021,” noted LDS in a statement following the handover event.

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‘Cuties’ and the ugly side of the truth




As a mother who works closely with theAsianparent group, I’m hyperaware of what’s going on with kids online and offline.

This week’s latest brouhaha was about a movie on Netflix called Cuties. It became so controversial that people took to for a petition to shut down Netflix altogether, pointing out that Cuties is an affront to children and their innocence, and is promoting to normalize pedophilia.

I’m not sure whether the accusation is true, but please hear me out before casting a stone or boulder on the guilty party.

I’ve been helping uplift my fellow womenfolk and our unseen abused children for years now. It started sometime in 2007 with a stint at Microsoft, where I was given the task to find a way to curb the production and overall distribution of child pornography in the country.

Part of the task was to align with government offices on Microsoft’s program that tracks down pedophiles online using sophisticated technology.

The Philippines was then one of the biggest producers of child pornography online. Now, it seems the country’s ranking has not gone down, but instead hovered between number five and three among the top 10.

Amid the pandemic, statistics say the demand for child pornography has doubled! It’s absolutely frightening, if you think of the time kids spend online for the past six months, playing games, watching videos, taking photos and videos of themselves.

The discussions on the social, mental, physical and economic repercussions of child pornography on kids and their future should go deeper, as new studies emerge on technology and its widespread accessibility.

But in the light of Cuties, when you watch it after getting over the jaw-dropping shock of the trailer, try to understand that this is the sad state of kids today.

They are hypersexualized to the point that it’s considered normal — in the Philippine context, it means being exposed to the twerking and all sorts of provocative dancing online and on afternoon TV variety shows.

Cuties is holding up a mirror to what’s going on now.

I was a teenager in the 1990s when a movie called Kids came out. It was raw, unflinching, and would surely not be made today.

I cannot say I agree with what Cuties has depicted, though I see its importance and what it’s trying to say. Other parents have opined that maybe the director could have been less in-your-face.

I say no. This conversation should continue, just as we did with Kids decades ago.

The director of Cuties herself, Maïmouna Doucouré, said in an article in the Washington Post: “I wanted to make a film in the hope of starting a conversation about the sexualization of children. The movie has certainly started a debate, though not the one that I intended.”

Are we all unconsciously guilty of hypersexualizing children? When is it okay to see a dance as nothing more than that? When do we draw the line?

Children don’t know any better, because they are children. But they see adults and their “stars” and the “likes” on social media.

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Bedtime drinks to get you by

Francine M. Marquez



It’s scotch for food writer Cyrene dela Rosa, who confessed she had opened a bottle of hers which she had been happily drinking since the start of the lockdown. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF STAR SABROSO

Two realizations in pandemic times: First, you need not go to a bar or be in a crowd to enjoy a good drink. Second, with prolonged quarantine periods, drinking alone is self-care.

Finnish people have a lovely term for it: Päntsdrunk, which hints at some level of anti-social attitude, an option to drink alone in the most comfortable clothing possible — in this case, in one’s underwear. Now that’s a really carefree attire while sipping and reflecting on the day’s events.

Call it nightcap if you will. That one last drink before you call it a night. With social distancing a vital part of health protocols vs. COVID-19, päntsdrunk and however else one wants to call it, has become a worldwide growing habit.

In an article written by Olaiya Land on titled “Self-Care as Rebellion,” the author discusses how self-care especially among women is an important act in staying strong to continue winning one’s daily battles. And, if one may add, to fighting the pandemic.

She wrote: “I’ve always thought that consistent self-care is an act of rebellion in a society that tells women they need to give and nurture until they collapse. But now, more than ever, self-care is a meaningful act. A political act. A statement that you are worth caring for. And an essential part of staying mentally and physically healthy enough to continue pushing forward with the work that needs doing.”

And so, with my glass of pinot noir, its sweet edginess having a subtle but strong punch — or, with my mug of coffee splashed with coconut-perfumed Malibu rum — I begin my bedtime ritual with the latest episode of Flower of Evil or Alice, and till I slumber into K-drama lalaland.

Thanks to and other delivery services for the convenience of bringing liquor at the doorsteps of quarantined humanity.

But this ritual of solo drinking isn’t just unique to me. Curiosity has also led me to find out what other women friends drink for some evening cheer.


Joy Galvez takes a sip of her favorite drink while temporarily living in New York.

Joy Galvez, a Filipino-American who had worked in Kabul, Afghanistan for development projects and who is home (for the meantime) in New York, says her preferred drink hasn’t changed and wherever part of the world she’s in: “If it’s cold, it’s mostly red wine, or beer if I’m indoors. If it’s warm, it’s white wine or gin and tonic, or screwdriver.”

Freelance Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET)-certified food writer and content creator Cyrene de la Rosa says: “I usually enjoy a dram of whisky or any other favorite spirit as a nightcap.”

Cyrene, my amazing go-to friend for spot-on recommendations, adds: “I opened a special bottle of Scotch at the start of the lockdown. So, that’s my default drink now. An Aberlour a bunadh from batch no. 22 with an ABV of 59.3 percent. I decided to open this particular bottle of whisky (the Scotch that got me into drinking whisky) because of its high ABV — hoping that its high alcohol content can somewhat protect me from COVID.

“I alternate with bottled cocktails from various bars and bartenders that I have been patronizing, which includes the following, in no particular order: The Back Room at Shang Fort Buccaneers; Run Rabbit Run; The Spirits Library; Yes Please at the Palace; OTO; and The Curator. I also recently got to try the new bottled cocktails business of one of the country’s best bartenders (Royce Pua), called

“Thanks to the world’s longest lockdown, I also started making simple DIY cocktails at home. Depending on the ingredients I have on hand. Starting with the classic Aperol Spritz recipe. I’m planning to play with Negroni and Campari drinks next in celebration of the ongoing Negroni Week.”

And so, with no idea when we can sleep in a COVID-free world, here’s my long-stemmed glass greeting all the women out there with my sisterly “Cheers!” Remember, women, solo drinking is self-care.ra

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