Thursday, November 29, 2007


We spend millions making officers and gentlemen out of cowards and what do we get?
Cowards, that’s what.
Once again, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV ran away from his destiny to make himself a martyr to kick up the societal change necessary to make this country great again.
Too bad, neither an expensive Philippine Military Academy (PMA) education nor a seat in the Senate could give man courage. Trillanes stared death in the face and once again he retreated with his tail between his ass.
What we have is exactly a repetition of the short-lived 2003 Oakwood Apartments mutiny where instead of coming out with guns blazing, Trillanes and his fellow officers fired off their months. As in today’s action, they used the media not only to ventilate their gripe, but also to use the members of the press as their human shield.
As in the past, they counted on the media presence to stop a military and police action but when they saw government forces moving to crush them this time, they raised the white flag. And Trillanes was quick to say that they did it to protect the media from the ensuing firefight at the posh Manila Peninsula Hotel. What a crap!
And what did Juan Tanga get for it? Nothing. Like in Oakwood, all we had was poor publicity abroad which witnessed the cowardice of our military officers. All of us harvested losses in foreign investments and in disrupted economic activities at the country’s premier financial district.
Instead of gaining immortality, Trillanes only earned the ire of people now affected by curfews imposed by the government.
If there was any good coming out of the Trillanes EDSA Farce, it was the realization on his part that the people never really voted for him in the last election and his electoral victory was really a result of the protest vote against President Arroyo.
Trillanes counted on his electoral magic to get people to his side, but what he forgot was the fact that people have already stopped trusting him, having seen how he led his men to the gallows in Oakwood.
In Oakwood, Trillanes showed he was not an officer; in Manila Peninsula, he showed he was not a senator either.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


As I write this, it has been about three hours already since a group of soldiers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier General Danilo Lim has walked out from their court hearing in Makati and proceeded towards Manila Peninsula Hotel where they apparently hoped to stage an EDSA IV.
Question: Will you Juan Tanga join them?
As of now, I do not see a great force of humanity trooping to Makati in the same frenzied manner thousands of Pinoys did in EDSA 1, 2 and 3.
Neither was there a surge of people to Oakwood Apartments when Trillanes again led his men to a short lived mutiny in 2003.
Back then, I had already lost faith in this guy when he chickened out and surrendered instead of fighting it out as his predecessors during past bloody coups under Senator Gringo Honasan have done before him.
Being from bloody Mindanao, we always believed in the Chavacano saying that if you've already got drenched in the rain, then you'd better take a bath. In short, one should finish what one had started. So Trillanes should have died with his boots on in 2003.
Instead, he dished his guns for his blabber mouth and ended up a politician.
With his supposed overwhelming electoral support getting to his head, he is now once again tempting and testing people's loyalty to support him in his unfinished quest in 2003 that achieved nothing but to get his low-ranking men imprisoned and separated from their families.
But will people come, as I write this, only a few did.
Why? People have already gone tired of all the EDSA peaceful revolutions in the past. Although I myself took part in EDSA 1 and 2, those bloodless coups always fell short of giving us the benefits which we have risked for in adding our warm bodies to the peaceful political movements.
We have all been short changed twice! In the end, we've realized that we have been used as pawns in a political musical chair that saw the replacement of old corrupt politicians with the new breed of far lethal and avaricious politicians. We only took part in the political orgy that saw political vultures replacing alligators.
Thus, the decision to go to Makati and take part in the EDSA ad nauseam is entirely up to you friends, but as for me, I'd rather pour out my time and energy in my own businesses and work hard to ensure my employees get their bonuses and 13th-month pays this Christmas.
As for Trillanes, the biggest Christmas gift he could offer his electorates is to finish his unfinished business in 2003 and shed blood for this country this time. Only then will I take part in a new bloodless coup to topple a corrupt and morally bankrupt Arroyo Administration.
It's about time Trillanes places his blood to where his mouth and balls are!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


This is one thing that I have been putting off from writing, but like I promised in my blog (, I will tell the truth no matter how much it hurts and whoever it hurts.

But this truth is far painful because it involves us and our business, the Satti Grill House. For six months now, we have been bleeding from our operations at the SM-Fairview Food Court. For six months now, we have been paying the rent, electric and water bills, the salaries of our employees -- most of whom come from Mindanao -- without a centavo of profit.

Now you may say that these loses are normal for new businesses, but in our case the loses are just so insanely big that we now feel as if the task of portraying Zamboanga City, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi as being places not just known for the Abu Sayyaf, but for their rich diversity of food has become too burdensome.

Too late we realized that good intentions alone – give employment and scholarship to our relatives from the South, project Mindanao as a place of rich food, cement Christian-Muslim ties – are not enough to make a business click.

Too late we have realized that maybe there is not much market for satti or that people from Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu are not that excited to share satti with their friends here.

Too late we have realized that we were wrong in thinking that fellow satti lovers would wholeheartedly throw their support behind us in helping spread the good news about satti to their friends here and thereby ensure that Satti Grill House would remain for long in the SM-Fairview outlet.

Too late we have realized that the Muslims we counted on to patronize the first Halal outlet in the SM chain of malls are not there. Our feedback form shows Muslims comprise only 10 percent of our customers. For long we have fended off suggestions to sell pork to make the business viable, but now we are having second thoughts.

To see the dream of putting the flag of a truly original food from Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the list of the best foods in the country fading is so painful both to our emotion and our wallets.

So after five months of declining sales and ever-increasing rent and other fees imposed by Mr. Henry Sy, we have decided to close down our SM-Fairview outlet by January or February if sales do not improve. Fellow businessmen advice us to close at the end of November and we find the advice very practical, but then we are such a bunch of bleedings hearts and we cannot bear to see our employees flown and shipped from Mindanao go jobless.

To all of you who have been supporting us, thanks a lot for helping show us a glimmer of hope that satti or Halal food can survive in the SM malls.

Do enjoy satti in SM-Fairview for our remaining months in operation. We will just advice you of the opening of new Satti Grill House outlets in Manila and Makati (Just log on to for updates).

Gracias con vosotros todo!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


We at Satti Grill House are so flattered that one of the most dynamic movers of the entrepreneur revolution in the country has cited us in his column which is fast turning out to be the bible of ordinary Filipinos who want to go into business.
Of course I am talking of Mr. Joey Concepcion of the Concepcion industries who is fast carving a name as the face of the Filipino entrepreneur. The country owes Mr. Concepcion a favor for aggresively pushing for the growth of small time businesses and for teaching us non-Chinese that we too can excell in something that we thought was traditionally reserved for our Chinese compatriots.
Yes! Ordinary Filipinos can go into business and succeed and Mr. Conception is there to say we can and cheer us on.
So, here's Mr. Conception's column published at the Philippine Star newspaper.

Ask Go Negosyo
Joey Concepcion
Thursday, October 18, 2007 The Philippine Star Business
Can I Be An Entrepreneur?
While in Hongkong over the weekend, I came across a shirt that said “If you don't try you'll never know”. Unfortunately they didn't have my size. That shirt best answered the most frequently asked question during all our caravans and speaking engagements. But for me, it is a question that they themselves should answer.
What has Go Negosyo achieved thru all these efforts? We are not a fix-it-all organization that promises you to be the next multimillionaire or that we are here to tell you that you will definitely succeed in business. We are here to give hope to those that have lost it and to inspire people thru the different stories of successful entrepreneurs by hearing it straight from them and seeing them in person. We also have their stories widely circulated thru the Go Negosyo book which has now sold close to 50t books and by the end of this year will maybe sell another 10t copies. Numerous people have come up to me and said that while they have not yet gotten into business, they have been inspired by reading the book and that they are now more conscious and have started to look what negosyo they would want to get into in the coming years.
After my talk during a recent speaking engagement at the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, I was approached by Mr. Armand Nocum who used to work for Inquirer and told me that he got inspired after reading the Go Negosyo column and the book that he quit the newspaper and decided to start a restaurant called Satti Grill House located in SM Fairview. His business is doing quite well since his restaurant offers Manileños a taste of Zamboanga and Sulu cuisine.
Another is the story is that of Estrella Castillo, an aspiring entrepreneur who wrote us early this year. I had the chance to meet her last February during the launch of Go Negosyo book at my place and that was the start of our mentorship with her. We have been following Estrella’s progress since she started her internet business and right now it is doing very well. She followed our advice and focused on offering internet services for research and surfing purposes for wider exposure of the kids rather than games. It developed a more wholesome ambience and character that has become her point of difference and that's attracting a different market. Aside from computer rentals, they also offer other services such as typing, copying, scanning, fax service, payphone and have also invested on a loading wallet. She also offers privileges exclusive to members in order to attract a steady stream of clients. Aside from Go Negosyo, PLDT SMART Executive Butch Jimenez has also been providing the needed advice and assistance to Estrella. These are just some of those people who I met by coincidence who have shared their stories and got inspired by our advocacy.
Our website is constantly being even improved and it is the only entrep website that in less than a year has rich content, from our uploaded archives of the Go Negosyo Bigtime episodes, previous Ask Go Negosyo columns, business ideas listings and entrep toolkits. We have not stopped improving the site and we will also be adding a year from now video clips of “How To Go Negosyo” by Ed Morato which are basically miniclip versions of negosyo tips. We our also in our third season of Go Negosyo Bigtime, this time featuring more business ideas as well as special coverages of our Go Negosyo caravans.
This is a feedback from someone who went thru our website:
Two days ago I found, the Philippines Entrepreneur website for the first time. This site is first class and top notch in my opinion. After reviewing it, signing up as a member, submitting my business listing, and surfing all around it for hours, I've found this site to be one of the best sites in the Philippines for empowering Filipinos to taking control of their personal, business, and financial lives through entrepreneurship and business ownership. is a site to help Filipinos become more knowledgeable about entrepreneurship, and even more important the "activity knowledge" they provide with their "get started with biz" page. Knowledge is useless without putting it into practice. Their "get started with biz" page puts knowledge into action with education training and tools such as an Entrepreneur's Toolkit, business and entrepreneur articles, financial analysis of income statements & balance sheets, marketing segmentation and pricing, business plan creation, and making investments.
They've got this "ask for help" section where you can ask questions of leaders in different industries of Philippine business. This is pure empowerment! Education training, support and mentoring are what it’s all about in reaching success in the world of business. is a site that I see the users benefiting from as a learning site, a doing site, and even more important, now being able to teach to others what they just learned at the site. Leadership is about learning, doing, and teaching it. does of this very well.
I can't say enough good things about I highly recommend you surf to their site and review it for yourself. Sign up as a member, add your business listing, work and use the site.
Go Negosyo will have its final caravan for this year in Cagayan de Oro tomorrow at the Atrium in Limketkai Center. We will award the most inspiring entrepreneurs of Northern Mindanao which include the founder of Radio Mindanao Network founder Henry and son Eric Canoy, Alonzo Chiong of Oro Asian Automotive Center, Alfonso U. Lim of Limketkai Development Corp., Mercedes Mejia of SLERS Industries, Elpidio Paras who owns PARASAT Cable TV, Dr. Reynaldo Rafisura of Salay Handmade Paper Industries, Rene Jose Stuart del Roasario Sr., the “master blender” of Suka Pinakuran, Isidra Tan of Cheding’s Peanuts, Henrik Kelly Yu of the popular food joint Bigby’s Café and Eleanor Jose of Vjandep Pastel. Many of them have earned this award thru hardwork. PMS Director General and MSME Czar Cerge Remonde will be joining me to give the awards as well as PCE Trustee and ESA Executive Chairman Vivienne Tan. As with Go Negosyo Pampanga, there will be a keynote forum with Go Negosyo advocates such as Vivienne Tan of ESA, Jay Aldeguer of Islands Souvenirs, Gaita Fores of Cibo and Eduardo Jimenez, a microfinance consultant of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. There will also be a second business how-to forum in the afternoon with Victor Tan of Bobson Jeans, Ronald Pineda of Folded and Hung and Les Reyes of Reyes Haircutters. Our How-To Go Negosyo learning sessions will be conducted by the Entrepreneurs School of Asia led by Dean Pax Lapid and Joel Santos. The forums will be hosted by Cheryl Cosim and Dominic Ochoa with Cito Beltran as moderator along with Cheryl. Again we would like to invite everyone from CDO and its nearby provinces to participate in this one of a kind entrepreneurial event.
[For feedback, you can email me at or thru sms at 09175591245. Watch the Go Negosyo Bigtime TV Show every Monday, 10:30pm in RPN9.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Past Life As An Investigative Journalist

It has been about a week now since I first offered my help to you my fellow satti lovers. But until now, there has been no takers. I understand, maybe you are shy, after all, I am a total stranger to all of you.

I don't blame you if at this very moment, this thought is playing on your mind: ``How can he help me when I never heard his name before?''

Don't worry, we newspaper reporters get that a lot. It is just unfortunate that we are not sikat or glamorous as our colleagues in radio and television. However, bragging aside, I can proudly declare that as far as achievements are concerned, I have had my share of fame in my past life as a journalist.

I do hope that after reading my credentials, you will already be bold enough to entrust me with your problems because I can help you solve them.

So, here's a brief history of my very thrilling and exciting life as a former journalist (This is what I give out to those out to introduce me in speaking engagements):

Armand Dean Natividad Nocum
Armand N. Nocum began his career in journalism in 1987 as a reporter and columnist of the now defunct The Morning Times, one of Zamboanga City's respected newspapers.
In 1992, he joined the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a correspondent and quickly became City Hall's ``Public Enemy No. 1.'' For his exposes on alleged graft in government, he incurred the ire of then Mayor Vitaliano Agan who declared Nocum as a person ``banned for life'' from covering City Hall.
In the same year the country won the international Little League Baseball competition by beating the US at their own sport, but was stripped of the title after the Inquirer came out with its series on the large-scale cheating that took place. Once again Nocum found himself in the eye of the storm as a result of co-writing the Inquirer series which gave incisive detail on how local officials falsified records of little boys to enable their over-aged brothers and neighbors to play baseball in international competitions.
Death threats flew fast and thick in Nocum's direction, with one local priest calling for his public hanging. National newspapers, television and radio stations joined in the Nocum-bashing frenzy.
As a result, Nocum had to go into ``exile'' in Manila where he faced a grilling by the Senate Committee on Sports under then Sen. Joey Lina. Subsequently, Nocum was vindicated when the committee upheld his findings on the Little League issue.
The Little League series of articles earned him nominations for the country's most prestigious journalism awards -- the Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) and the Jaime Ongpin Awards (JVO) for Investigative Journalism.
Two years into his work as a regular reporter of the Inquirer, Nocum beat the more senior Inquirer journalists in winning the Inquirer's first Luis R. Prieto Award for Investigative Journalism.
In 1996, while covering the House of Representatives, Nocum once again found himself being grilled by the Good Government, Public Works and Ethics Committees of Congress for his in-depth stories on the payola scam involving certain congressmen and the powerful Lopez family, owners of ABS-CBN, Meralco, Star Cinema and other influential firms.
Threats and a P5-million bribe failed to stop Nocum from pursuing his report on the scam which involved, among others, the present Presidential chief of staff Mike Defensor.
Hardly had the payola controversy died down when Nocum again became the subject of investigation by these same three congressional committees for his investigative reports on the pork barrel scam. The news series, which he wrote together with three other Inquirer reporters, gave Filipinos a first-ever detailed account of how congressmen steal people's money.
Embarrassed and angered by the story, most of the 250 members of Congress threatened to sue the Inquirer for libel in the amount of P1 billion pesos. They also threatened to slap Nocum and the Inquirer with ``inciting to sedition''ン, a law former strongman President Marcos used to go after ``enemies of the state''ン during Martial Law.
For months, Nocum and the Inquirer were the target of attacks in privileged speeches delivered by lawmakers in the halls of Congress, with one Muslim congressman inviting Nocum to his district so that he may bash Nocum's head against a concrete pavement to show that his pork barrel project was not sub-standard. He promised not to kill Nocum, though.
Eventually the lawmakers backed off when political groups, religious organizations, legal unions and local government officials came to the defense of the Inquirer. Elementary students also started sending their allowances to the Inquirer to help it battle lawmakers who were out to bring down the paper with a historic P1 billion libel case.
The grand slam of awards that followed the Pork Barrel series is unprecedented in local media history.
First, the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin conferred on Nocum and his colleagues the Catholic Mass Media Award for investigative reporting saying that the pork barrel series was ``what journalism should be''.
Then the Jaime Ongpin Award, the First Inquirer Journalism Award, and the first-ever Marshall McLuhan Prize given by the Canadian government were bestowed on Nocum and the three other Inquirer reporters involved in the series.
As a McLuhan Awardee, Nocum toured the whole of Canada serving as fellow and lecturer at the University of Toronto, the University of Regina and the University of British Columbia.
Upon his return, Nocum was again embroiled in a new libel charge, this time coming from Marcos crony Lucio Tan, owner of Philippine Airlines and tobacco and alcohol companies. Tan's libel suit of P130 million -- considered one of the biggest in Philippine journalism history -- stemmed from Nocum's in-depth report on how PAL nearly went bankrupt because Tan's dummy firms were allegedly fleecing the airline company.
In the years 2000 and 2001, Nocum was assigned to cover Malacañang where he reported on the last days in office of Ex-President Estrada and the start of President Macapagal-Arroyo's administration.
The high points of his Palace coverage was when he found himself trapped with Erap in the Palace during Edsa 2 and with President Arroyo in the violent Edsa 3.
Nocum has just returned from a successful coverage of President Arroyo's visit to Italy and Spain where she met with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, the President of Italy, and King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
In Spain, Nocum stood out from among the 51-men Philippine delegation after President Arroyo introduced him to both the president of the Congreso de los Diputados and Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardo as a Chavacano-speaking reporter who speaks and understands Spanish.
Today, Nocum covers the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Department of Justice.
During his student days Nocum served as associate editor of the school organ of the Claret High School in this city. Later he took up philosophy at the University of Sto. Tomas where he studied to become a priest.
Leaving the seminary in 1986, he took up journalism at the Western Mindanao State University and is among its pioneering batch of students. It was at WMSU where he fell in love with journalism. He believes that studying mass communication (journalism) at WMSU under inspiring and effective teachers was a turning point and milestone in life that has brought him to where he is today.
Apart from his WMSU mentors, he considers the late Rene Fernandez, former editor of The Morning Times, as among those who greatly shaped his career.

The photo above was taken at the Palace of Juan Carlos of Spain when I accompanied President Arroyo to her trip to Madrid, Spain and Rome and Tripoli, Libya.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Public Service on the World Wide Web

You might have noticed that there have been changes in the way I defined the orientation and nature of my blog.
I have added a ground-breaking feature to my blog and that is: public service.
From here on, let be your on-line kuya. Let it be the site where you air out your cries for help, complaints and strong views on public and private matters needing attention.
It will specifically try to help you deal with corrupt and incompetent government offices that do not answer to our needs quickly and competently as it should. You can make it an electronic avenue where you can report and complain about bad services of key government or quasi-government corporations, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Malacanang, the Department of Justices, the SSS, GSIS, BI and all other offices.
Let it also be an electronic site where you can also gripe about bad services of private corporations that do not deliver services you paid for, products bought, those that engage in schemes and scams and other similar mal-practices. Let this blog be your consumer complaint portal.
Likewise, let this blog be your aide or bridge to key officials and executives both in government and private sectors whose help you are soliciting. I will try to personally resolve your problems and concerns or tap broadcasters, reporters, and columnists to help us out. I will be your bridge to government and private individuals; and as well as members of the press, watchdog groups and non-government corporations.
Now you may ask why I have come to the decision of turning my blog into a public service forum, well the answer is simple – I just wanna help people who are dissatisfied with services dish out by out-of-reach government agencies and giant private corporations.
In fact, this motivation was what made me endure 20 years of pressure-filled work in journalism. I just want to empower the people considered small and negligible by the government and corporate giants. This is because like you, I too was – and still is – an insignificant speck in this universe. The only difference now is that my media work had given me direct access to key movers and shakers of society and as well as my media colleagues.
Normally, reporters like me who leave media end up writing hard-hitting columns in newspapers or go into broadcasting and television. Unfortunately, that is no longer the world I want to live in. I can no longer cope up with deadlines and pressures that make you feel you are living inside a pressure cooker. I also don't want other people censoring my views which are often controversial, frank and honest.
But then, the desire to serve remains strong.
So, I realized that the best avenue would be my blog. This way, I can write whatever I want, help whoever I want and write whenever I want to. Just the though of doing something new – a public service portal in the internet – feels me with lots of excitement and enthusiasm that had already left me in my old work in mainstream mass media.
Besides, there is no escaping public service because my exposure to customers at the Satti Grill House almost always end up with them asking me for help, saying that although I left media, the connections and influence I have remain. I get that a lot from people in Zamboanga City, Jolo, Siasi, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi who, like me, have ventured into this big city in search of greener pastures.
Thus, that brought me to the realization that although I have no newspaper column or radio or television programs to connect with those needing help, the satti blog would do just fine.
But since I am a still a one-man army, I would set some ground rules for those needing my help. For one, I will only receive complaints through this blog or the email access connected to it. Even if some of you already has my mobile phone or telephone numbers, I would still prefer you writing down your complain so that I can carefully dissect your problems. Please attach scanned documents or photos to give me a better picture of the problem you are facing.
Please refrain from calling or texting me because with no secretary to answer all your calls and texts, I may not be able to help you at all. Anyway, the feedback form you sign at the Satti Grill House show that many of you already have access to the internet.
And for those without internet connections, you may drop your letters or documents at the Satti Grill House outlets in SM Fairview or at our second branch to be opened this week in Padre Faura Corner M.H. Del Pilar Street, Manila.
For those needing my personal attention, I may announce in this blog specific time or days that I will be visiting my Satti Grill House so I can have audience with you.
So there you are, welcome to the first on-line public service program in the country. Feel free to tell your friends in the country and abroad about this kind of unique and trend-setting form of public service forum on the worldwide web!!!!
By the way, I have posted a picture of Zamboanga City's white sand beach of Bolong. I hope you like it.
Dios te bendiga (God bless you).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NOTE on Big-Spending OFWS

Guess what? I am back in my beloved paper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as a contributing writer. Although I'm in business now and had recently resigned as an investigative reporter, I have accepted the invitation of my friend Gerry Lirio to write for the Global Pinoy section of the Inquirer.
I have accepted the offer because I love writing and there is no pressure in this job -- I can write whenever I want and whatever I want to write. And like my businesses, the materials I write is developmental stuff and not the destructive type of writing I have gone fed up with. In this section you will read about positive news, accomplishments, commentaries or advises on how OFWs should lead their lives and spend their hard earned resources.
And so I am sharing to you my first feature that appeared in PDI recently. I hope my advice would be of help to all of you with friends or relatives who are OFWs. Feel free to share this feature with your friends because it also shows satti's humble beginnings ...

How my wife saved her earnings from Kuwait
By Armand NocumINQUIRER.netLast updated 03:41pm (Mla time) 10/29/2007
“LET’S KEEP THIS FAMILY together even if we have to sell taho.” This was the pledge my wife Ann Sahi-Nocum and I made when we decided that she would quit working as a nurse at the Al-Jahra Hospital in Kuwait in 1997.
That was the time our eldest child Arriza was growing up with my brother’s family in Zamboanga City and becoming more isolated from us day by day, having grown attached to her adopted family.
Born in Kuwait, Arriza was just two months old when Ann brought her to the family of my brother Joey and his wife Edel.We found the arrangement convenient because it allowed Ann to work for five years abroad.
And what a five-year ordeal it was! We were a family living in three corners of the globe — I in Manila, Ann in Kuwait and Arizza in Zamboanga City. To say they were pain-filled years for us is an understatement.
But was it all worth it?
Because we opted to live a frugal life, we earned the notoriety of being the “stingiest” in a clan with lots of spendthrift OFWs.
Saving up was not easy when most of your relatives expected you to give money on every occasion and every imaginable emergency situation.
While others gave out gold necklaces, watches, shoes and hundreds of dollars, we gave cheap perfume, chocolates and a few peso bills.
While other OFW families lived in rented condos and apartments, I stayed in a rat-infested rented room originally built as a dirty kitchen. While other OFWs were buying cars, I was reporting for work in my beat-up 175 cc DT Yamaha motorcycle.
It was a joke in the family that in her five years abroad, Ann only bought me a watch, a ring, a necklace, perfumes and three music compact discs. One couldn’t point then to any electronic appliance in the house brought home from Kuwait.
Fortunately, those days of sacrifices paid off. Ann has invested and prospered in the used-car business, with outlets in Zamboanga City, Quezon City and Edsa near Robinsons Galleria.
We now give our relatives gainful employment in the Satti Grill House food outlet we opened in SM-Fairview Food Court not long ago. And we are set to employ more with the opening of another Satti outlet on MH Del Pilar, Manila next month.
One-day millionaires
I still feel a twinge of pain whenever I read about surveys showing that many OFWs spend their money on frivolous things and continue to live like one-day millionaires.
It’s ironic that the OFW heroes who prop up the Philippine economy do not experience true and lasting economic uplift in their lives.
OFWs should be reminded that the more they engage in wanton spending, the longer they’re keeping themselves trapped in their overseas jobs.
What use is their money if, by the time they retire from their work abroad, they’re too old and debilitated to enjoy life? If they discover upon their return that their children had grown up and were living their own lives, virtual strangers to them? This was Ann’s and my biggest fear.
I have friends who return home with a jaw-dropping array of stereos, pianos, cameras and other gadgets, but after about three months, they start selling them, having run out of money. I have another friend, a teacher, who made it a habit to buy those gadgets at half the price. So guess who’s the wise one, the local teacher or OFW?
In my book, the worse crime we Filipinos inflict on our OFW relatives is turning them into milking cows. I have noted with amusement how many family members—including the extended ones—tend to become afflicted with some sickness after a relative lands a job abroad.
It seems salary grade abroad is inversely proportional to the health index of the family members they leave far behind. Feigned sickness, it seems, is a very effective way of making an OFW fork out money. That is depressing.
Say no to solicitations
OFWs and their families should learn to say no to unnecessary solicitations. If not, they should at least be careful in screening out requests for financial help to see whether they’re real, legitimate or a sham.
They’re not helping their relatives any if by being abroad, they have turned them to hopeless sloth living on their generosity.
In our case, we really tried to explain to our relatives that they have to cut us some slack as we start life anew, promising that when we do succeed with our plans, we would give them bigger and more meaningful help.
Again, we are the few lucky ones. There are many OFWs out there who return home broke, mangled, raped or in body bags. Those who survive serious ordeals return to poverty and find their families fallen apart or have forgotten them.
Apart from saving up, they should also work hard at making good investments in land or businesses to hasten and cushion their return. On Ann’s part, she had seen so many friends retire from work with lots of money; only to return abroad a year or two later because they ran out of money or their business investments had gone wrong.
Until now, when Ann looks at Arizza all grown up, she can’t help but wonder why a mother like her left Arizza to relatives at the tender age of two months. Those exciting baby years when she first smiled, uttered her first word and started taking her first baby steps are gone forever. We were not there to witness those baby milestones – and that’s that.
But all the pains of her OFW years only embolden us to do better in our businesses so that neither of us will have to go abroad for work again.
So, for OFWs still living the vida galante, it’s time to say the party’s over, and for serious savings to begin now.
Copyright 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
In case your curious, the picture above was taken at the Woodland Resort in Zamboanga City east Coast.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We really appreciate all the feedbackyou have been giving us by signing up in our Sattisfaction Feddback Form. Your feedback means so much to us, specially since we are new in the food business and we want to make it right with all of you our valued customers and friends.
In fact, we used some of those feedbacks when we contributed an article for the anniversary issue of our very own newspaper Zamboanga Today during its 8th anniversary last Oct. 8
This was the news feature that appeared in the paper then:


People from Zamboanga City, Sulu and Basilan now living in Metro Manila are gravitating towards the Satti Grill House in Shoe Mart (SM) Fairview to savor satti, locot-locot, tamales and other authentic food from Zamboanga City.
Since the Satti Grill House was opened June at the SM Fairview branch along Quirino Avenue, Quezon City, the food outlet has become a meeting place for Chavacanos and Muslims who get together not only to savor satti, but also to renew ties with relatives and old friends.
Those who frequent the place swore that the satti tastes better than the ones sold in Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Many are only too happy that they can now savor satti even in Metro Manila.
``Masarap kasi mas marami yung karne. Friendly ang mga crew. Masarap balikan,’’ gushed Dendi R. Conception III, a registered nurse who lives in Bulacan.
``Masarap po talaga at sulit,’’ chimed in Lawisa M. Impis who now lives in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Business couple Armand and Annura Nocum, who opened up the Satti Grill House because of their shared love for satti, said that they were happy people are finding satti as a cure for homesickness.
``Actually there is a social aspect in our business – we want to put Zamboanga food in the gastronomic map of the Philippines,’’ said Armand, who recently resigned from the Inquirer to put up the satti business.
``Zamboanga has been left far behind. Until now, people ask me about the Abu Sayyaf whenever I introduce myself as a Zamboangueno. I dream of a time when such kind of introduction will be followed by a remark like ``Oh, you come from the satti country. I love satti,’’ said Armand, who also runs a communications, marketing and used car businesses.
Nocum said that he wants people to associate satti to Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu the same way they associate molo and chicken inasal with Iloilo, sisig with Pampanga, tuna with Iligan and Cagayan de Oro; and durian with Davao.
Mr. Nocum had called on all Zamboanguenos, Suluanos and Basilenos to tell their relatives in Manila that there is now a Satti Grill House in SM Fairview and that they should be ones in propagating it to Manile?os.
``Satti lovers unite, let us join forces to show that our place is rich with exotic food that are unique and as delicious as the other delicacies that are now popular in the country. Let us `sattinize’ Metro Manila,’’ Nocum said.
To further propagate the satti and give people from here an Internet portal, Nocum has put up a blog known as ``SATTIsfaction’’ and is reached through
Please contact the Satti Grill House through Tel. Nos. 9323609 or 4300282 and through cellular phone no. 09175208013. Next week, Satti is now also available at the Razhev’s Favorites branches in Timog Food Plaza (Cor. Timog Ave. and Scout Tuazon), Timog and at IBP Road, Batasan Hills, Quezon City.

We hope you like it and if it makes you feel homesick, I have included here a picture of La Paz, Zamboanga's very own version of Baguio. Please check the place out next time you go to our beloved Zamboanga.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Palace Also Bribes Reporters

Yesterday, as friends from GMA 7 radio DzBB were discussing about bribery in the Palace, I sent them this text: ``Giving of bribe is nothing new in the Palace, it was done by almost all administrations. The only difference is that now we have a Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio admitting to it. It also helped that many those who received only P200,000 felt insulted enough that they did not receive P500,000 as the others did. The ones who received less then went out to media to settle score with the Palace.’’

Colleagues Arnold Clavio, Ali Sotto and Orly Trinidad were gracious enough to read my text during their radio show at ``Double A Sa Double B’’ and they even made fun out of the fact that someone made ``kapkong’’ or skimmed the P300,000 so that many got only P200,000.

About an hour later, DzBB’s Malacaňang reporter Nimfa Ravelo then quoted DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza as admitting that giving of cash gifts amounting to P100,000 to P200,000 in the Palace is a normal thing.

That news brought a smile to my face, content with the thought that I know my Palace well, having covered it during the tumultuous period leading to the ouster of President Estrada and the exciting (or so we thought) days of the new administration under President Arroyo.

My knowledge of the Palace stemmed from the fact that I too was offered bribe in its hallowed halls. This gives me a rather a first-hand and personal experience of the Palace’s bribery machine.

The bribery incident happened in the height of the impeachment trial of ousted President Estrada and the bribe-giver was a former press official and who is now a staff of Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

Although the official concerned was not very close to me, I was surprised by his invitation to go to the new Palace Press Office to point out the place I was to occupy. This was around the time that I wrote in the Inquirer that the Estrada Administration was reported to have shelled out around P300 million to the media to paint the former President in a good light.

After inspecting the place, he then handed me a brown envelope saying it contained press material and he then asked me to help give Mr. Estrada good publicity. I said I have been fair to Mr. Estrada and that he did not have to ask that of me. Then he handed me the envelope.

It was good that my exposure to wads of money as a used car dealer with outlets in EDSA, Quezon City and Zamboanga City had thought me to ``feel out’’ bundles of money in envelopes. As the first family in Zamboanga to pioneer the sale of used cars, I have become adept at estimating the amount of money in hundred thousands by looking at the bundles based on the denomination.

So, without opening the envelope, I told the Palace official: ``If this contains money with P1,000 denominations, it would amount to about P15,000 to P20,000, if it contains bills of P500, it would amount to P30-40,000.’’

Surprised, he gave me an impish smile and said: ``Yes, it contains P30,000 and you can have that amount weekly if you tone down your attack on the President (Estrada).’’

But I politely told him that I would have to think things over and returned the whole envelope to him. Later, I realized returning it was a big, big mistake.

After the incident, I immediately called up then Inquirer desk person Stella Gonzalez to break to her the news and you can imagine her shock upon hearing it. I said I planned to get the money back and expose it to show that there was truth in my scoop about the P300-million payola for the media.

Ms Gonzalez said that that was a good thing to do but she would have to call Inquirer Editor-In-Chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc about it. I was later told that Ms. Magsanoc then referred the matter to former Inquirer resident Ombudsman Raul Palabrica to study the implication of the PDI becoming embroiled in the payola controversy.

But calling the PDI by phone was a big mistake. In my excitement about the whole thing, I used the Palace telephone lines even if months before, I have written a story about how the Presidential Security Group was bugging the President.

Before I got a feedback from the Inquirer, the Palace official – visibly irked – called me to say that the deal was off.

So there went my shot to fame and immortality. I was already then imagining my self presenting the money and envelope to then Press Secretary and Palace Spokesperson Ricardo Puno during the regular Palace press conference called in the day. I was imagining myself being hailed a hero as Panlilio is praised for now. I would have also been called to the impeachment trial to say my piece.

It was decided that without the money as a ``body of evidence,’’ there was no use of even writing the payola story. It was also feared that doing so would only open the Inquirer to criticisms that the paper allowed itself to be used by the dirty tricks group of then Vice President Arroyo and the anti-Estrada forces.

But looking back and seeing how the Arroyo Administration turned out to be, I am happy to realize that I did not help put this new administration in power by my bribery scandal expose.

I have not attained fame, but my conscience is clean.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Satti is Worth the Sacrifice
I have a good news and a bad news.
The good news is that me and my wife Ann have decided to speed up the spread of Satti in Metro Manila by supplying it to the restaurants of our trusted friends in Quezon City.
Last Thursday, we started making satti available at the Razhev's Favorites in their outlet at the Timog Food Plaza, Corner of Timog Avenue and Scout Tuazon Road, Quezon City.
Next week, satti will be available at the Razhev's outlet at IBP Road, Batasan Hills and is just in front of the House of Representatives. Razhev's is owned by fellow journalist Rey and Venus Requejo. Razhev's specialty is their mouth-watering bulalo.
On Monday, satti will start to be served at the Green House Restaurant in Matalino Street, Quezon City. It's near Sulo Hotel, the Tree House and Trelis Restaurants. The place is owned by former Comelec Commissioner Mejol and Nilda Sadain.
Thus, the good news is that satti will be closer to those who love it enough to make the long trip to our Satti Grill House outlet in SM-Fairview.
The bad news is that with this move, we are practically giving up the monopoly of the secret Jimmy's satti ingredient that have acquired through five years of negotiations with some family members.
We must be the worse businessmen to be giving up total control of the spread of satti. But then we are not just businessmen, we are social entrepreneurs – we believe money should not be the sole motive for business and there should be a social dimension to it.
And our social cause is to showcase satti as the best indication that Muslims and Christians do live in peace in Mindanao and that they even share the same kind of food. Come to think of it, satti is really a merging of the best in Arabian and eastern taste and the mix of original Chavacano flavor – so east and west merges in satti.
We also want to show that there is more to Zamboanga City, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi than wars and that these places are full of cornucopia of yet undiscovered exotic cuisine. Verily it's not a land or promise, but a land of surprise – you'll be surprise by its beauty, food and people.
Likewise, through satti, we are happy and contend with the thought that we are helping the cause of peace and progress in Mindanao by pulling out Christian and Muslim relatives from poverty and war and giving them work here and hopefully help them get a good education.
So, what's important to us now is we spread the taste of satti faster by sharing it to friends.
Yes, we are crazy businessmen. But we also believe that if you do good first, profit – perhaps (and we pray) – will follow. (By the way, the picture you see above is of anchorpersons Aljo Bendejo, Bobby Yan, among others, during their simulcast shows at Channels 4, 9, 13 and where satti was featured recently).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

SATTI + Exotic Taste = Good Health

As a matter of public service to all fellow satti lovers, we have done an initial internet-based research on the health benefits of our favorite spicy food.

We are happy to declare that not only does satti tastes incomparably good, it also packs a wallop as far as health and well-being is concerned. Satti is really a HEALTH FOOD.

As a bonus to its exotic taste and unique dining experience, satti’s peanut- and siling-labuyo-based soup have been proven by scientists and medical experts worldwide to cure some of the following ailments and diseases:

*High Blood Pressure



*Cluster Headaches and Migraines


*Flu or Respiratory Problem

*Muscle Pain

*Overactive Bladder/Incontinence

*Pain and Discomfort


*Sore Throat

*Sinusitis, Tension and Sinus Headaches


*Surgical and Osteoarthritis pain


Satti’s curative effect comes from the fact that the loads of chilies and peppers used to spice it up contain a substance called ``capsaicin’’ and which has been found to literally destroy or cause the destruction of bad cells and is known to possess strong ``antibacterial properties.’’

A study made by the prestigious University of Nottingham, England, show that spicy food ``can kill cancer by attacking the mitochondria of the tumor cell … without harming the healthy surrounding cells ( .’’

In a study published at the Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications journal, anti-cancer drug development expert Dr. Timothy Bates described the findings as ``incredibly exciting and may explain why people living in countries like Mexico and India, who traditionally eat a diet which is very spicy, tend to have lower incidences of many cancers that are prevalent in the western world.’’

He than advised cancer patients or ``those at risk of developing cancer’’ to eat spicy food ``to help treat or prevent the disease.’’

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia ( also cites a study by the American Association for Cancer Research showing that capsaicin has been found to cure prostrate cancer.’’

The study said capsaicin has ``component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostrate cancer cells (’’

``It has long been noted that in Thailand, where lots of spicy food is consumed, there is a very low incidence of gastrointestinal cancers, including colorectal, stomach, cancers, compared to the rest of Asia, including Japan and China. Mexico has low rates of the same cancers compared to the USA (’’

Capsaicin has been found to fight acne ``through a thermal heat action that helps to open pores and increase blood flow to the surface of the skin,’’ thus prompting a drug company to develop the world’s first pepper-based face wash (’’

Chilies lower blood pressure by increasing blood circulation because it helps the vessel walls to become more elastic and better able to adjust to differences in blood pressure.

So, please help us spread the good news regarding the health benefits of satti to friends, relatives and people you truly love. Tell them that finally, there is a health food that is not tasteless and boring.

Our research on the health benefits of satti truly fits our description of this food as exciting, life-giving and with a soul to boot. Life is truly enjoyable to live if you are relatively free from pain and discomforts brought about by ailments and diseases.

So now you can take your satti and eat it too!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Here we go again, beating our chest and making hell out of a perceived racial slur made by American actress Teri Hatcher in her ABC Television Network show ``Desperate Housewives.’’

Oh! Come on, pusong mamon, we only make ourselves look ridiculous for being this sensitive. The more noise we create about this issue, the more we bring ourselves down and the bigger rating we are creating for the show. For all we know, the show’s writers might have intentionally cooked up such remark to trigger international outcry and to push their ratings up.

Making a big thing out of the supposed slur only reinforces the negative perception that we are a race of ``insecured’’ people prone to smashing the mirror and shooting down the messenger because we don’t like what we see, hear or listen from other races or from the international media.

Wake up people! We are living in an internet-linked ``global village’’ where any perceived slur can come our away any time of the day and from any Mang Tomas, Dick Gordon and Dirty Harry with a keyboard or IPod to push. We are indeed just a click away from any slur from any moron anywhere in the world; do we then have to do battle against all of them?

Look at China, we have no less than a highly controversial senator – the iron-tongue Sen. Mirriam Defensor-Santiago -- accusing the Chinese race of allegedly inventing corruption in the world and did we see Chinese all over the world raising a collective howl against it? What Defensor did was far worse; she insulted them in an official capacity as a Philippines senator during a Senate hearing and before the media of the world. Yet, that did not wake up the sleeping Chinese dragon.

Remember, the Chinese are known to be the biggest population in the world with Chinatowns sprouting in all the nooks and crannies in the planet; and a collective protest from them could drown us. Just imagine half of their population firing anti-Pinoy hate mails and blog entries our way? It could very well crash all our computer systems. No need for them to use their arsenal of nuclear weapons.

So what if Hatcher insulted our nurses and medical professionals, we may even deserve such kind of a wake-up call. Why? Just recall how we all reacted to the issue involving the nursing board exams leak? Did we all go out in the street to condemn and call for the public hanging of the nursing board officials and review centers responsible for the mess?

No! All of us where either quiet or most were even advocating for a no-retake for a misplaced pity for the nurses. We even blamed the media and those advocating for retake for the whole mess because it had already then reached the US and other international news fora. Did we ever lift a finger to damn the perpetrators? What did the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) do about it? What did you do about it?

Back then, I already had an inkling that one day we will pay for our sins of allowing the perpetrators of the nursing leak go unpunished by public indignation and ridicule. In trying to save the thousands of examinees, we have nailed the entire 80 million Filipinos to the cross of world public opinion.

Now we are reaping the whirlwind.

How can we expect Hatcher and the rest of the world to respect us and our nursing profession if we ourselves did nothing to help keep its integrity intact by joining calls and demonstrations calling for a retake and for the prosecution of the guilty? Had we done that then, it would have shown that Filipinos don’t condone cheating in the profession that is virtually keeping the Philippine economy from collapsing.

Now the few brave souls led by UST Dean Rene Tadle and the handful of students from Baguio City who brought the matter to the Supreme Court could only say: ``I told you so.’’

By keeping a collective silence or apathy over the nursing scam, we have condoned cheating. What does that make us? A country of cheats, of course! There is just no two ways to look at cheating, you either go marching to the depths of hell to condemn it or you keep quiet about it and in doing, help perpetuate it.

Hatcher’s scriptwriters clearly saw things as they are and wrote about it. So who then is to blame for creating the perception that we all allow cheating in our nursing examinations? Most of us did.

Instead of blaming Hatcher, I would rather we put the blame on the nursing board officials, the reviewers who continue to act as if nothing happened and all of us for bringing this slur upon ourselves. Let’s boycott the review centers involved in the mess!

Instead of flooding ABC with hate mails and blog entries, let’s all strive to stop letting people here cheat us out of our dignity and next time a scandal erupts, let’s go out in the street and show in no uncertain term our national disgust to it before the whole world. Please, let’s take this Pinoy image problem by the horn!

He who is without sin should throw the anti-Hatcher e-mail petition/blog entry first …

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


These days, I have to admit that I do miss my days as a journalist. Each day, I instinctively look for the name Armand Nocum when I read the Inquirer, a habit I had nurtured for 14 years as an investigative reporter of the paper.

For a journalist, many of the names and faces you see and hear in the media are not just ink, voice clips and images, but they are actual people that one met along the way in pursuance of one's journalism career.

One of them is now the much-aligned Benjamin Abalos, who recently resigned as chair of the Comelec in the light of the lobbying and bribery issue involving the multi-million telecommunications deal with China's ZTE Corp.

I met Abalos years ago when he was then mayor of Mandaluyong City. Back then, he was simply known as a former judge who supported former President Aquino. As early as then, he was already embroiled in controversies involving alleged substandard housing projects, land-grabbing and for amassing ill-gotten wealth.

Modesty aside, I would say that I was considered one of the groups of young journalists perceived to have been giving Abalos hell in reporting about all these alleged irregularities. By that time, I have already honed my skills in investigative journalism and was fairly successful in getting documentary evidence and testimonies to pin Abalos down.

Stung by my write ups, Abalos invited me to a posh hotel in Mandaluyong one morning and there he made his defense from all the issues I have written about him. An hour deep into our conversation, he finally offered to make me one of his in-house writers in city hall.

New in the print industry and highly idealistic, I politely refused the offer, saying that my editors and the Inquirer readers are following up the issue and they would surely notice my change of stand relative to his alleged irregularities.

Later when I went to the restroom, his press relations officer followed me and handed me an envelope which he said contained P10,000, a substantial amount back then when all I had for a vehicle was a beat-up Yamaha DT 175 which I brought straight from Zamboanga City.

I told the mayor's PR that I already made my point and that I'd rather they respect my decision. When I returned to our table, Abalos was clearly distraught, perhaps having noticed how even his PR failed to get me to drop my investigations on him.

But being a consummate politician, Abalos was not about to throw in the towel and had laid out one more weapon or argumentative tool to get my sympathy – the appeal to my emotions. This, I would learn later in my career, is the politicians’ ultimate weapon of choice when intimidation and bribery had failed to get their targets among members of the media.

At this point, he then started to recount his humble beginnings, how he grew up the son of a caddy at the Golf and Country Club and how he completed law school working at a textile factory.

With watery eyes, he relayed how his classmates made fun of him because he still had pieces of textile and cotton on his hair when attending night classes. ``That was because I barely had time even to wash my hands because I have to rush from the factory to the law school,'' I recalled him saying.

He then said that it was a pity if all of his sacrifices will be lost as his name continuous to be maligned in media. Hearing that, I admit that I then felt sad for him and at the same time I felt a surge of admiration towards the self-made mayor. He nearly got me there.

But it was only a matter of time before I again resumed my investigation of him when fresh issues of graft again hit the controversial Abalos.

Apparently failing to get me, Abalos eventually won our little war when he reportedly went to one of my bosses and complained against me. Soon after, the investigative stories I was writing on Abalos stopped appearing and I was eventually transferred to another beat.

Later, rumors went around that that boss of mine got a hefty share of the stocks at the Wackwack Golf and Country Club, but I don't believe them, mindful of the fact that the former mayor had political enemies of his own who could have cooked up such yarn to hurt my boss.

Like I did to my former boss, I gave Abalos the benefit of the doubt following our unfinished war. However, Abalos went on to become Comelec hair and got mired in allegedly far bigger scams -- multi-million computerization program, Hello Garci and now ZTE. Is there a pattern here?

So, as these negative stories on Abalos continue to haunt him, I can only smile with the thought that I too – in a tiny way – got to experience what former NEDA Chief Romulo Neri supposedly went through.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Those of us who are introducing our very own Satti to friends should be proud that our kind of food is not only delicious; it is one of Asia’s favorite foods as well.

Here is a letter I wrote to my friend Carla Paras-Sison in response to her query about Satti in preparation for an article she plans to write in the Philippine Star newspaper.

The letter reads in part:

``Per your questions, for one, I am targeting people in Metro Manila as my main customer base. I am out to ``Sattinize’’ non-Muslims here who are looking for something new to try.

``I believe that people here are gastronomically adventurous judging on how they have adopted to foreign foods to include Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Singaporean and now even the spicy Korean food which actually taste like medicine.

``People seem to go for the novelty of the food concept and I tell you Satti is one such kind of food. It’s unique taste can only be found in Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu because a Chinese-Muslim family there had been successful in keeping the secret recipe to themselves – well, not until now that I too obtained the recipe from a Muslim cook in Sulu.

``Aside from the unique taste of its peanut-based soup, it also presents a totally new dining experience because this is the only food where the rice served has been cooked in coconut leaves and it is then immersed (or dunk Oreo-style) in the soup.

``Satti also has all the attributes of becoming a popular food to all Filipinos because it has its origins in Mediterranean countries and Southeast Asia where it is known as sate or satay.

``Satay is so popular in Singapore that there is a Satay Club – which is made up of satay outlets – along Beach Road and Clarke Quay. Satay is even served to First and Raffles Class passengers of the Singapore Airlines.

``In Malaysia, satay is only only served in almost all restaurants, food courts and street stalls; it is also served to First and Business Class passengers in the Malaysian Airline and Air Asia flights.

``In Bali and all other key destinations in Indonesia, sate is served with turtle, pork, goat, snake and even crocodile meat.

``In the next 12 months, we plan to expand Satti Grill House into about five to six more outlets all over Metro Manila, after which we plan to offer the business for franchise to speed up the spread and reach of this kind of food all other the country.

``In serving the satti to our customers, we don’t differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims because we want everyone to have the taste of satti according to its original and unadulterated flavor. That includes not serving pork or using any pork ingredients or utensils cooked with pork oil. If there is a minor change in our servings to non-Muslims, it is the fact that we tone down the spicy taste for those who are not used to spicy food.

``As to your question on why we chose SM-Fairview, it is because we know there is a heavy concentration of Muslims in the Fairview and Bulacan areas to such extend that even action star Robin Padilla had opted to put up a Madrasa school in the area.

``I hope I have answered all your questions. Thanks a lot for your big help in our desire to show Filipinos the rich and incomparable food that our brother Muslims in the country have to offer for all of us.’’

From my letter, you can readily see that it is only the Philippines that had not jumped into the satay, sate and satti bandwagon. So, what are you waiting for? Go out and taste satti at baka maiwan kayo ng train …

Vamolos amigos y amigas, comer y man alegria con el sabor de satti – El Rey de mga comida na Asia (Chavacano for ``Let’s go friends, have a hearty taste of satti – the king of food in Asia.’’)

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Satti has sting. Satti has class. Satti has soul.

Of all the food that I can bring to Manila, it is SATTI that I am most passionate about in introducing to the ``Metro Palate'' and eventually the whole country. Actually you can call this mission as the ``Sattination’’ of the Philippines and the world.

Satti to me represents what Mindanao is today – chaotic, troubled yet there is something to it that attracts people to its shores, its culture, its food and people. Satti specifically characterizes the spirit of Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu where satti can be found.

Think of satti as the forbidden fruit which has the state of being forbidden as its main attraction. It’s like a chocolate cake to a dieter, steak to a vegetarian, a beautiful parishioner to a priest; and needle to a balloon.

Non-Mindanaoans who have tasted satti call it ``pagkaing apoy’’ and therein lies the temptation to taste it. The knowledge that its peanut-based-soup is spiced up with loads of siling labuyo – but which also taste sweet -- is what draws the un-initiated to satti.

What adds mystery to this food is the fact that its recipe is a well-guarded secret handed down by an Indian-Arab to a Chinese-Muslim family in Sulu. Yes, I’ve seen some recipes in the Internet, but I dare you to compare them with the satti in Zamboanga and which we now have at the SM Fairview Food Court in Quezon City

Thus, satti has history and mystery boiling in its red-blood spicy soup.

It also has wide popularity in Southeast Asia where it is known as Satay and Sate. Although the ones in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand also goes with grilled chicken or beef, their peanut sauce are generally served as gravy or a dip and not served as soup as satti is.

Many Asian countries also serve their satay with regular rice, but it is only in the Philippines and Malaysia where the grilled meat and sauce are served with coconut ``puso’’ or rice cooked and served in coconut leaves.

Furthermore, it is only in the Philippines where the rice is dunk in the steaming bowl of satti sauce – Oreo style.

So, on the whole, you have a gastronomic experience not only unique but one taken on the wild side as well.

I have already tasted the different varieties of all the satays in different countries in Asia, the US, Canada and Europe and I tell you the Philippine version tastes the best. Don’t take my word for it, taste satti and compare it with satay and I promise you that you will be hooked. Don’t say I did not warn you.

Go ahead; admit it, what is forbidden almost always taste better ….

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Naked Pinoy

One tissue I want to comment about is the brouhaha stirred by the comments of columnist Malou Fernandez about the outlandish clothes, cheap perfumes and the general crass behavior of overseas Filipino workers.

Actually, I have a conflicting view about the matter because my wife used to be a nurse who worked in Kuwait and in fact, my eldest daughter Arizza was actually born there. I have also turned my house in Quezon City into a sort of halfway home for OFW relatives and friends processing papers to go abroad, those returning from abroad and those who stay with me before going home to Zamboanga City or other places of destination in the province.

In short, I have a very soft spot and deep respect for OFWs.

So, I think it unfair that they be denigrated just because some of them come from humble beginnings and are dressing up and behaving in the manner they were raised up.

But this is where my sympathy and empathy ends.

When it comes to putting our best foot forward, specially in the world stage, I believe Malou Fernandez has a point in giving due attention to the need for OFWs to help project the best in out country and our people. But instead of insulting OFWs, she should have called the attention of DOLE, OWWA and the DFA for OFWs to be given some advice on basic good manners and right conduct and the need for them to ``dress for respect.’’

This view applies not only to OFWs but even to all Filipino tourists, overseas students and those fortunate to go for studies abroad. Let’s face it, our country is so poor to put up advertisements in CNN, CBS, Discovery Channel and other media outlets abroad to project the country's image and the millions of Pinoys who go abroad provide the only glimpse foreigners have up close of what Filipinos are and a faint idea of what the Philippines is.

So, I don’t really mind what job one has, but at least I do mind that he dresses the job he has abroad. Clothes and good behavior can very well improve anyone’s image and make maids and laborers abroad look like prince and princesses. If we put up our Sunday’s best clothes when facing God/Allah in Church/Mosque, we must also dress and act well when facing foreigners as the country’s de-facto ambassadors.

Out there, each of us is the Philippines. So what image do you want to give this poor and chaotic country we call home? Yes! We are poor. Yes! We are Asia’s basket case. But do we have to behave and dress like that as well. No! We must show a smile, a happy face to show that the Philippines is the best place on earth and I believe it is.

This brings to mind a newspaper article about Maguindanao Rep, Didagen Dilangalen who said that he strives to dress well always because as it is, people from Metro Manila are already looking down at those from down South and he does not want to give them more reason to do so by dressing poorly. He said he had to dress smart because Muslims and people from Mindanao are smart.

So, the same goes for the Philippines which is gaining notoriety for being one of the world’s political and economic basket cases. The same goes for the Philippines for sending out what my former colleague Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros described as toilet cleaners of the world, or something to that effect.

Let’s face it, it does not mean that just because we don’t send out to the world IT experts like India does or trading experts like Singapore does or investors like Japan etc. we already have to look bad or behave as if we have no class. On the contrary, we have to look and behave our best to debunk the world’s bad impressions of us. Perception is everything!

To put it more bluntly, just because we send out Japayukis abroad does not mean they have to board naked. Got my point?

Gracias, amigo y amigas. Ariba Pilipinas (Hail the Philippines)!


This blog is not for the faint of heart. This blog is not for the conformist. This blog is not for the un-adventurous. This blog is for the lover of life, adventure, fun, changes, and the seeker of truth and of course – SATTI!

I've chosen ``Sattisfaction’’ as the title of my blog because to me Satti defines how life should be lived, that is living with the intensity of a hot, steaming Satti soup taken at dawn from a long night of devil-may-care drinking.

Well, at least that was how I lived back then in Zamboanga City where we painted the night fantastic at the La Terraza Disco Bar and creep back home sober and alive, having exorcized the alcohol and all kinds of similar spirits with a nice gulf of Satti -- that was how me and my brothers discovered Satti in this little known restaurant near Plaza Pershing.

Being a non-Muslim, Satti is an acquired taste for me. But when I had an initial sip of it, I never stopped longing for its rich spicy taste that like life represents something that is sweet, attractive but at the same time hard to gulf down in one go. It’s like the desire to do something prohibitive – the more you are warned against doing it, the bigger the temptation and desire to do it. Satti, you see, is not for the faint of heart and I too had to have several returns to that restaurant to marshal my taste buds into braving up for Satti’s spicy rush!

Well, I don't live that life of debauchery anymore, with my high-profile career, kids and age having tamed me through the years. However, some things in your past remains with you no matter what stature you reach in your life and one of them is satti. It is for this reason that me and my Tausug wife Ann decided to put up a satti outlet in SM-Fairview.

For the uninitiated, the Satti soup is made up primarily of peanut and spicy and ``everything nice.’’ Actually, its formula is a well guarded secret and successfully kept hidden from the world by a Chinese-Muslim family from Sulu who in turn got it from an Arab who came to the area.

I tried to get this formula but my initial efforts failed so I decided to pirate one of their cooks and so now for the first time in Metro Manila, the secret is out – well, at least the taste, but the not the formula hehe!

What make the Satti experience unique is that it is eaten with rice cooked in coconut leaves known as ``pusò’’ which in turn is dipped in the soup, verily, Satti is the only food you eat where you dunk the rice in the soup – Oreo style. Satti can be eaten with grilled beef or chicken.

Satti is believed to have been brought to Asia by Arabs and it is known as Satay and Sate in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore where it is a favorite food offered in hotels, first class seats in their national airlines and more so in the streets.

So, you see, Satti’s history is as rich and thick as its spicy soup. So this is precisely how my blog would be like – it is a celebration of the spice of life. In this blog, you will read commentaries on the inside stories of the news stories breaking out here and all over the world, among others.

With my long experience as a former senior investigative reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, I will try to give you an inside track on WHAT IS THE REAL SCORE” behind the news stories that are often muddled by PR spins, government and other institutional cover-ups; and exacerbated by the further dissolution of the truth by some newspapers owners, editors and writers who have an agenda of their own.

So this is my blog, it is hot, in-your-face telling of what to me is the truth. In Chavacano (bastardized Spanish), we say pica este noy (This is hot, my friend)!.

Gracias y hasta luego (until later).