I learned from my blogger-friend Brian Ong that The Lobby of The Peninsula Manila turns 33 today, and they are offering their halo halo harana, pancit luglog and schueblig  at 1976 prices (yes, 33 pesos each), the date the hotel opened 33 years ago.

I also learned that the promotion will be strictly on no-reservations and first-come/first-serve basis and that drinks and items not on the rollback list will be regularly priced.They also won’t allow takeout orders and sharing. This will be a one-day only promotion only from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

I hope my Makati-based (either as residents or employees) friends could grab this opportunity since my chances are dim. Haha.

Almost all of my friends already know that religious traditions, like undas, are rare in my system and everyone knows the reputation of Pampanga in culinary matters. So my Pampanga trip, I filed a vacation leave for it, became a feast for my peptic juices especially since October 31 and November 2 are my mom’s and grandma’s birthdays.

Imagine 3 days of non-stop eating. From the very first steamed talangka (crablet) served by the time we arrived on the morning of my mom’s birthday to the fresh tilapia and hito (catfish) we grilled and fried.

Viands as ordinary as lumpiang shanghai and as exotic as calderetang bibe (duck). Sweets like maja blanca and ubeng calamay aside from the usual merienda of spaghetti, pancit canton, pancit bihon and siopao. Ice cream (Coffee Crumble and Very Rocky Road) were also bought as requested by the kids. My brother-in-law also cooked some Japanese snack of vegetables and squid, the name of which sounds too awkward for me to remember. A hot bowl of Sinigang na Baboy sa Bayabas is not bad to cap those three days, right?

No wonder Ikkang sarcastically told me that I might be 30-pounds lighter by the time I got back here in Manila. My girlfriend is wishing aloud.

Several warnings, from word-of-mouth to text and email, about the dangers of consuming processed food in general and instant noodles in particular seems to be ineffective to me. My appetite just has some kind of an addiction to such types of food. And add to that my lifestyle which sometimes require me to eat in a 12-minute eat-and-run fashion.

And because I saw at Hi-Top that the more affordable Yakiudon (only at P17.50) could be an alternative to my favorite Yakisoba, I bought a cup each flavor and tried it for the next three mid-shift hunger at the office.

I must say that except for the Garlic Chicken variant, which tastes like garlic rice if not for the obvious noodle texture, Yakiudon is really a good buy. Though nothing can beat Yakisoba’s Spicy Chicken, Yakiudon’s Beef BBQ (the sweet one) and Chili Crab (the seafood variant) flavors are good enough to be considered as alternative especially that most of us are slowly learning the value of economy in these trying times.

I hope that the next time I visit the supermarket to buy several cups of my new favorite instant noodles, it would still be affordable as the price of rice tends to pull all food prices up.

Though Gloria Arroyo has every reason to invent stories to divert attention from her scandals, it seems that the rice shortage is not one of them. No other than Kevin Cleaver of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development claimed that there is actually a global crisis on food production.

Further research informed me that as early as August of last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned that the United States’ penchant for biofuel production will cause food shortage. Almost no one, even after the International Food Policy Research Institute issued the same warning, believed Chavez. Some even went to the point of maliciously accusing Chavez of just protecting Venezuela’s petroleum industry.

Too bad that Condoleeza Rice and the United States propaganda machinery managed to sugarcoat this economic maneuver with environmentalist blabber (or should I call it greenwashing?). Now, food riots are happening from Bolivia to Egypt, from Cameroon to Uzbekistan.

Haiti, one of the four countries (together with Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and El Salvador) that were lured to the American “environmentalist” candy during last year’s Organization of American States General Assembly, just suffered four casualties a week ago when food rioters clashed with their police.

Recently, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown awakened from his sleep as he alarmed G8 Chair and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on the effect of biofuel demand to food production. Too late the hero.

The next time the United States government advocates anything, let us not forget to listen to the other side.

I went to Hi-top Quezon Avenue last Sunday afternoon and shockingly, the same rice variant that I bought for 58 pesos per 2-kilo bag (that supermarket does not sell 1-kilo packs) last Thursday is already 66 pesos! Whoa.

That is an increase of 1 peso per kilogram per day! Is this nature’s way of telling me that I should cut down on my rice intake? Well, sorry nature, but my stomach is truly Southeast Asian.

And because of that, I fried some hungarian sausages and brought it, with the bahaw of last night’s dinner, today at the office. Mmm, forced Eurasian cuisine.

That particular news about major fastfood chains offering half servings of rice is another one for the Onli in da Pilipins collection. What an irony considering that aside from being one of the biggest rice-eating populace in the world, our country is also the site of the International Rice Research Institute!

Well, the idea is commendable because it is good in many ways; the customers can save money and rice usage becomes more efficient. The problem lies though in our government’s inability to be more honest about the situation of this staple grain in our country’s stockyards.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap says that we don’t really have any “actual lack of supply” but only a “mere shortage.” Nice play of words, honorable secretary. No wonder the entire government is parroting the same line everytime they are being asked about the issue.

After EO464 and the SC Decision on Neri, this government already got addicted to concealing everything.  And even facts about Oryza sativa supply is now something that only they can chew.