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).