Farewell, Clinton Palanca
There was a dinner last night at Toyo. I had to send my regrets. Sayang, I was just thinking to myself, what a shame, I bet I would have seen you there. I haven’t seen you in a while. We have shared many great meals at Jordy and May’s. And at Chele’s. And at Josh's. There have been so many others, too. We have eaten well together over the past years, haven’t we?
We would have talked about that feature we have been discussing for ages. Time to get that off the ground, don’t you think? You know how ambitious I can be and you always fed that ambition. Thank you for that. And thank you for always messaging me when you just finished reading something that I had written. You cannot imagine what that has meant to me.
By the way, I have a new idea I wanted to explore with you. It would mean going back to that Chinese restaurant on Makati Ave. Remember that place? Where the level of heat was one for the books—that one. We shot it with Mignac, remember? You would like this idea. It involved a discourse on local politics, diplomacy, and Chinese food. Who else could I have turned to but you?
Last night would have been fun. We would have talked about our children because we always talk about our children. In fact, I think the first meal where we really spoke at length was the one at the Raffles during Madrid Fusion when you guys brought your newborn son along. He must have been only a week old at the time and you didn’t want to leave him at home, but you didn’t want to miss that meal either. He was perfect.
You were always so helpful and generous with your talent and time. I’ll always remember the advice you gave Alexa for her IB essay on press freedom during martial law. I told her how much she should treasure that afternoon spent with you. It’s not every day a high school student gets to speak to a journalist of your caliber. She’s back in Manila now and heading to London in a few weeks.
Hey, that’s right—Bloomsbury. We were supposed to talk about Bloomsbury, and all the time you spent in the neighborhood of Russell Square.
Tonight’s Toyo collaboration with the chef from Mumbai would have been the perfect meal to reminisce about all the time you spent in the U.K., where you met the love of your life. I know you share my love for Indian food. You told me about Tayab’s. I told you about Gymkhana. I wonder what would have been your dish of the evening and why. Our discussions would not have been limited to dissecting ingredients, flavor, texture, and technique. Conversations with you about food have always been about the backstories, the memories.
We surely would have laughed tonight with Lourdes. And with Cheryl and Jin and Comsti and Margarita, maybe. If we were lucky, Berna would have been able to stop by. Joey would have made sure we were all okay, and at some point we would have convinced him to sit down with us for a bit and enjoy a cocktail that you would barely touch. That Asian flush!
But you weren’t there tonight, were you? And I won’t be seeing you anytime soon, now will I? You excused yourself this evening, earlier than we all had hoped. There was so much more to talk about, to laugh about, but you must have been exhausted. It’s alright, it’s time for you to get some rest now. Don’t worry about us, and know that there will always be a seat waiting for you at our table.