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Hail to the Chief, este, Chef!
By
Tonton Pascual, MD



The first time I heard the name of Dr. Ruben Lim Bon Siong was as grand MOI (most outstanding intern) of PGH, garnering four most outstanding intern awards from the various departments he had rotated at, including of course, Ophthalmology. And my earliest memory of him was as a resident teaching me how to refract. Standing by the nurse's counter, he drew images of the eye, light entering it and the focal points it formed at the back. "Just convert everything to a simple hyperopic astigmatism", he said, trying to simplify for me the notion of getting with- and against- reflexes neutralized. 

LBS was chief resident in my second year of residency. That year, as a stopover during their attendance of the mid-year meeting at CDO, he, along with Dr's. Harvey Uy, Leo Cubillan, and Momi Fajardo dropped by my hometown of Iligan City for an overnight visit. They got to see Tinago falls, with its clear blue waters dropping from a mini-Angel Falls-like waterfalls. My chief rode a "salbabida" and I ended up swimming and pushing him around the lagoon in it. "This is what second year residents are for!," I remember him saying. :)

LBS was very effective and so well loved as a chief, we made him a giant poster upon the end of his term, with his caricature on it and our signed messages of thanks. 

Fast forward to eighteen years later when the inevitable has happened: he is now incoming president of the PAO. 

Busy as he was from his clinic, his surgeries, his teaching positions, his family activities, and most of all, the responsibility of organizing this year's convention, he was game enough to the idea of a cook-off between the current President and Vice-president of the PAO for the December foodie issue of the eFP. It was his remark to Dr. Naval that he already had a "menu" for the cook-off that drove this activity from what the eFP staff thought would be a preparation of a single dish to a full blown banquet and display of culinary skills. Though to help him along the demanding cooking task at hand, I could not help but recall that time he got his relaxing ride around the cool Tinago waters and say, "this is payback time for me pushing you around in a salbabida, Ruben!", smiling to soften my chiding. 

I arrived at his condo unit in Bonifacio Global City greeted at the door by eFP editor-in -chief, Dr. Jan King and the smell of spicy Chinese cooking in the air. He'd started preparations for today the day before and was warming on the stovetop some braised beef brisket, a secret family recipe (super secret, sorry, you can't have it even with 500 likes on this article!). Today, he was going to demonstrate five ways of Asian cooking. There was the beef brisket, braised or cooked over direct low heat, and a clear broth soup of chicken, mushroom, and chinese ham with Shao xing wine cooked in a double boiler for two hours. The double boiling method cooks the soup in its own slow heat and preserves the taste of the ingredients, he said. There were prawns for steaming to be served as topping on fruit cocktail for a cold prawn salad dressed with Japanese mayo. Steaming, he says, preserves the taste of food and is a very healthy way of cooking that is classically Asian. Tonight was going to be a mini-Chinese laureat complete with homemade almond jelly and lychees for dessert (of course I could not help but ask "What's for dessert?" early in the afternoon! ) . There were no recipes open around the kitchen. The dishes he was preparing for the night were dishes he had cooked so very often, he'd mastered them well enough to do without any recipes. As he made crisscross "lamellar" slices on the inner side of some squid for the seafood clay pot cooking, he explains that the cuts were not merely for decoration, but were needed so the squid would not get tough when cooked. He uses MSG , yes, though we did not see him use any that day. "MSG is not actually a flavoring. It creates a chemical reaction in the tongue making it more receptive to the flavors of food"' he says. 

Working ever so neatly around his island-type kitchen, he says, "cooking is therapy to me". As a child, Ruben was in and out of the kitchen watching and helping out his mom who loves to cook for his dad who loves to eat. "I actually had a double fellowship when I went to the States"' he says. Upon arriving in St. Louis, Missouri from a long flight from the Philippines, he was delighted to find a Chinese restaurant near his place. Hungry and anticipating the comfort of Chinese food, he was extremely disappointed when he tasted the food and found it to be the worst Chinese food he'd ever tasted! Learning to cook during fellowship was his way to survive. "It came to a point he says, that I was a favorite among the Filipino community. I was invited to parties to cook, they'd buy the ingredients for me to cook", he recalls with a smile. Nowadays, he cooks every time he is at his Global home, which is usually weekends. When I ask how it is cooking for just one person, he answers, "It's easier to cook for a lot of people and hardest to cook for yourself -- you end up with a lot of tira". So he brings leftovers back to his home in Caloocan to share. 

We watch as he cleans and cuts vegetables for the clay pot cooking. I wonder why he adds very little water to what I thought looked very similar to shabu-shabu, where one dips raw meat or veggies into a boiling pot of broth. He says the water from the seafoods and veggies will add to the broth, and he shows me the secret to a great tasting clay pot dish: dried scallops. Water added to this ingredient makes the broth very tasty and aromatic."No need for salt", he says, as he puts just a little oyster sauce. I taste the soup and YUM! Really really good! Comfort food defined! And where does he get this secret ingredient? "In Hong kong," he says. Susan and I frown a little, we were planning to make some because it seemed so easy. "Oh, but you can also get it at the Little Store in San Juan"' he says. Frown gone :) His seafoods he gets from "Dampa" in Ortigas Home Depot. His favorite food to cook and eat is noodles. One must use good noodles he says. For egg noodles, he uses Hong Kong-made, while for rice noodles, he uses the Taiwan-made. He favors two Chinese restos: Gloria Maris for Cantonese and a small hole-in-the wall restaurant with no name along Estrella St. near Rockwell that serves authentic Chinese cuisine. 

The lucky food samplers that night were Susan, Pipo, Jo-anne (who kindly washed the dishes for us), Mike Maglipon (owner of eFP website publisher), and me. Talk at the dinner table after Ruben had laid out his dishes for us was animated and filled with laughter. The incoming PAO president told us of how every summer, he and his five brothers and one sister would have to help out in the family business. He said the Sterling notebooks we were using when we were kids were probably assembled by him. All his siblings are now involved in their business. It is his eldest brother, he says, who is the visionary in his innovations and diversification of their business. The Lim Bon Siong family who owns Sterling paper products is now also into industrial park estates, and rice. "The best tasting brown rice is ours!", LBS proudly declares. Just two days earlier, I had bought several packs of the Dona Maria rice as gifts, I tell him. The rice comes in packs that are very affordable, well packaged and yes, as good as rice can get. "Someday ", he says, " we will be a paperless society because of all the technology so we, you really have to innovate". I ask why he did not end up in the business as well. He says when working at the factory, he asked himself, "Is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?". 

I ask Ruben if he was happy with the composition of his council and his straight answer was "Of course! That's what the membership wants!" He says his leadership style is and always will be that of a consensus builder. Prodded as to what he wanted to accomplish as the next PAO president, he answers, "I want to bring back values to our membership, focus back on who we are in the first place-- people forget that we are primarily doctors", he asserts in a firm and sure voice I've heard before as a resident under his chief hood. 

I'd left the house that Sunday morning, skipping a family activity with an express request from my husband: to remember how the cooking went because he liked Chinese cuisine. I said yes, but in my mind, I knew I wouldn't, couldn't learn what to me is difficult cooking. But the way my former chief quietly prepared the food before us, explaining what he was doing, making us taste step by step what he was cooking-- it all reminded me of that morning he taught me how to refract. He made refraction so simple then, as he was doing now with the five ways of Chinese cooking. And I know my hubby will be in for a Chinese treat one day, when I have the time to cook him some savory seafood in a clay pot. 

Hail to my forever Chief: Chef LBS! GODSPEED on your presidency!

Ruben's 6 course Chinese banquet, served with dong ding tea:

• Cold steamed shrimp salad
• Chicken and shiitake mushroom soup 
• Stir-fried baguio beans with red eggs
• Spicy Braised beef brisket
• Seafood with straw mushrooms and vegetable 
• Almond jelly and lychees 

And our looks after dinner: serene, smiling and sooooo satisfied! :) 

Click here to view the unabridged versions of Tonton's articles.


 
 
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 • President's Corner    Special Feature
     

The Beginning and the End
By
Carlos G. Naval, MD
President, PAO

As we approach the end of the year, we know that a new year is about to begin. Another year of the expected, of the unforeseen, of the exciting, and of the mundane. We don't exactly know what will happen but we do know that it's not going to be the same as this year. Some events will affect us...

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Thoughts of Food: NOCHE BUENA
By
Emiliano Bernardo III, MD

A party isn't a party without food, and a gathering isn't a great one without great food. As we already know food is the center of any Filipino event and the mother of all events on the Filipino calendar is Christmas. Though from a purely religious-Christian perspective, Easter should be the biggest event of all, but probably...

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Conversations with
Cook Caloy

By
Tonton Pascual, MD

Hail to the Chief,
este, Chef!

By
Tonton Pascual, MD

Thoughts of Food: NOCHE BUENA
By
Emiliano Bernardo III, MD

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Meet the Candidates

eFocal Point proudly presents the candidates for the 2012 set of officers of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology. Take time to discover their goals, aspirations and stand on contentious issues. Vote wisely this November and make the difference.

(All information in this article are for general information purposes only. The views and opinions expressed are solely the respondents' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of eFocal Point nor of the incumbent officers of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology. Nothing on this webpage should be taken to constitute a formal/informal recommendation or endorsement of any particular candidate.

The tag lines presented below have been selected by the eFocal Point editors merely to entice the readers to view the complete responses of the candidates to a series of questions covering several issues facing the PAO today. These tag lines do not necessarily represent the main thrust of each candidate's platform.

We encourage the reader to exercise judicious use of all information presented in this article.)

Listed below are excerpts taken from each of the candidates' responses regarding their views on pertinent PAO concerns, their aspirations for PAO empowerment, and their specific goals for the Academy.

As readers, challenge yourselves to guess which of the candidates expressed a certain quote. You can then check how many you got right by mousing over each tag line. As you hover over a line, the candidate's face will appear.

A word of advice: the image that appears may not be whom you expect.


 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
   



 
 
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 • President's Corner    Special Feature
     

The Beginning and the End
By
Carlos G. Naval, MD
President, PAO

As we approach the end of the year, we know that a new year is about to begin. Another year of the expected, of the unforeseen, of the exciting, and of the mundane. We don't exactly know what will happen but we do know that it's not going to be the same as this year. Some events will affect us...

Read more...

 

Thoughts of Food: NOCHE BUENA
By
Emiliano Bernardo III, MD

A party isn't a party without food, and a gathering isn't a great one without great food. As we already know food is the center of any Filipino event and the mother of all events on the Filipino calendar is Christmas. Though from a purely religious-Christian perspective, Easter should be the biggest event of all, but probably...

Read More...