Our youngest daughter, Sacha, blogged that she prefers to be a homebody, even though she remembers that as a child, we would always eat out and go malling. I will confess to the first but not to the second (neither John nor I like to shop, although I could stay the whole day in a bookstore), and will explain why we formed the habit of eating out.
John has always been a workaholic. We all needed to be because advertising photography work is notorious for not following office hours, or even office days, weekends or holidays. Every job always seems to be a rush job, and clients anxiously wait for us to submit transparencies or prints, in the old days, and in today’s digital age, CDs, DVDs and now, hard disks. For this reason, although I would have wanted to raise our children away from the city, we chose to combine our photography studio and residence together in Makati. John would proudly say he has a two-second commute. This was the only way to avoid the traffic jams that choke our highways and city roads in order to come to work quickly while still being close to the children, and accessible to them even during office hours. Weekends and holidays were not something we could commit to spend with the family, so we made up for those days by making spontaneous trips whenever we could, sometimes, to take them on our location shoots, no matter that they may be during school days.
Due to the demands of work, it was difficult to have regular family dinners. Advertising photography meant that we could be working all day and all night (our record stands at 39 hours non-stop), and lunch and dinners were grab-a-bite affairs. John takes about two minutes to gulp down lunch, and most often, dinners were like that, too.
Although I cooked on special occasions, I could not commit to cooking regularly – since in addition to the family, we also serve meals to all our employees, and occasionally, for clients. We have a full-time live-in cook, so even until today, I cook very rarely. During those rare occasions when I did cook, John would briefly join us for dinner, and then quickly leave the dining table to go back to work. Between the call of work, and the need to sit down properly for a home-cooked meal, John heeds the former. It’s okay – I was never an enthusiastic cook anyway, and I did not mind employing the “let’s eat out strategy.” At least when dining at restaurants, we had a bit more time to enjoy each other’s company.
For reasons cited above, I planned that every weekend that John did not have to work, we would eat out. Not in fast food restaurants where there was no waiting, and not in fancy restaurants where food was expensive. We would go to restaurants that could be classified as casual dining places – Dulcinea, Via Mare, Luk Yuen, Hap Chang, Amici, Max’s, Aristocrat, Pancake House, Rack’s, Teriyaki Boy, Almon Marina, and occasionally, to restaurants that are a little bit more upscale, like Mario’s (we don’t know where they’ve moved), Italianni’s, or our favorite 24-hour restaurant, the Old Swiss Inn.
Between the time after we’ve placed our orders and before we were served, we had a few minutes – usually five to fifteen – and throughout the meal – maybe another 15 or 20 minutes – my family would be gathered around a dining table, albeit not our own, and we could have - not the after-dinner conversations that I craved for – but the precious before-and-during dinner time, when we could finally connect with each other.
Yes, eating out is a strategy to bring together our family.
All the children are grown up and gone now, but out of habit, John and I still eat out on weekends – patronizing the same restaurants, occasionally joined by Kathy and her John. And Gaby, of course.
But today, Kathy and her little family are in Holland and John only spent the morning between the zoo to look after Maali, and FPPF to inspire young photographers. John made no plans to fly his RC planes today – I wonder why. John and I – just the two of us - had the rest of the day – from lunch to dinner – to saunter around the mall. John promised to avoid the usual restaurants, and we tried the Mu Noodle Bar (he liked the beef noodle soup). This is out of our usual strategy – John normally does not like trying out new restaurants, but it was fun. John even threw in a little malling, as we explored the new computer shops on Glorietta 2. Again, that was a special treat – not because of the shops – I didn’t buy anything, John did – but that it afforded us time together.
This is the icing on the cake:
Oh... Its Sunday... forget about everything... time to smell the roses... get a life... taking Harvey for a lunch date... Enjoy the day. FB Friends... Feels good speaking to a group of newbies at the FPPF Seminar...
John Chua One lovely lazy afternoon indeed... We went to check out Glorietta Two ( since we have been shooting the place last week... Ate at a MU noodle bar... got ourselves two powerful mini speakers for our laptops... window shopping... enjoying every minute... Now back home after the mass.... Hmmmm a nice home movie would be just perfect to end the day... I hope you got a nice day too... You deserve it... Tomorrow... well its another day.