Just like most home cooks, my foundation started at home. I grew up in a family who loves to eat – which is true to every Filipino household. I honestly cannot remember when I made my first dish nor do I remember telling myself that I wanted to learn how to cook – it just felt, well, natural for me so I just went at it.
My mom is one proud Igorota (from Barlig, Mt. Province) and my dad is an Uragon from Caramoan- so imagine the diversity of our table. I was born in Tuba, Benguet and resided at Camp 6 until our house got caught in a fire. From Benguet, we moved with our grandparents who were staying in Pantalan, Mansalay (Oriental Mindoro). This is where I had my fondest memories as a child. Our house was literally a stone-throw away from the shoreline and having the mountains as our back draft. This is where I learned how to fish, swim, scour the mountains for rare fruits and spiders. I just recently realized why my mom was always mad at me – even then, I have always been a free soul. Ask her about this day that I went fishing with a local boy while she was going nuts and worried about where on earth could her son be at 7 pm (this is considered super late when you are in the province… specially for an 8 year old headache!).
My parents then decided to move back to the city – with my sisters in Las Pinas. After I graduated highschool, life took another drastic turn that we had to move to Namboongan, La Union. Like Mansalay – I had tons of great memories and found extra ordinary people – people whom I can call friends for life!
BEHIND EVERY MAN’S SUCCESS – IS ONE PATIENT WOMAN
Fast forward to 2011 – a television commercial has caught my girlfriend’s attention – information on the next audition date for the first (adult) Pinoy Masterchef. I didn’t pay much attention for I felt that it would be just a waste of time ( I was able to see some episodes with the Junior Masterchef edition and there’s no way I was even close to what those kids could do – or so I thought). Good thing I am blessed with a partner who sees through me and believes in me. After hours of trying to convince her to drop the idea, i finally gave in (of course I lost the argument). I anticipated that it would be hours of waiting under a scorching sun so I decided to prepare a dish that would last the entire day. I soaked a chicken breast in brine solution, rubbed with mixed herb then made sauce with white wine and fresh mushrooms. I guess my approach paid off.
After months of waiting, I was asked to report to PDA Hall for an interview. Alas! It was Director Lauren Dyogi and our batch finished at around 1pm. I was told to be back at 6 pm for God-knows what. Coming from an 11-hour shift – I was up for more than 24 hours. I was so exhausted that I didn’t care anymore – just wanting it to be over with. The first of many challenges has officially started – we were given 100 pesos and 20 minutes to make a dish. Of course I made it through for they contacted me a couple of months later informing me of the details for the next challenge. The Ginataang Kalabasa Unplugged was served – nailing me a spot on the top 40 homecooks.
The Junior Master Chef format enabled the contestants to use advanced tools and rare ingredients. It gave me (and all other contestants) that this is going to be the same case for us. So just imagine how disappointed everybody was when we learned that we wont have the same luxury. Most of us had the same thinking – to practice with out-of-this-world ingredients and familiarize ourselves with complicated equipment. It took us a very long while before we finally embraced the competition’s format . We would realize that the show was trying to educate and make the viewers feel comfortable with the fact that most Filipinos are on a budget – but should never compromise the quality. That was a simple fact that eluded most of our common sense for we were blinded with adrenalin and eagerness to show off using foreign ingredients and cooking method.
Like almost every time I get to meet new people – they would always have the initial impression of me being an arrogant SOB! So when people started bashing me, saying how “yabang” and “angas” I appear on TV, I wasn’t shocked at all. Not that I dont care, but it’s just that I always (well, almost everyone) get to prove them wrong. Secondly, uhhhmmm, well, I guess I just don’t really give a damn. I know myself very well and all I can say is that my bashers are all wrong. But being on TV makes me feel responsible to at least try to defend myself on how some people perceive my personality. It’s very evident that respect has been somewhat lost in translation as some individuals would talk crap about a lot of people, like me, as if they personally know them/me. Hubris is what I would call it – from having to meet the abbyss numerous times and ultimately kicking his butt!
It’s not all that bad – actually – it has been a heck of ride not just for me, but for Ma-Ann, my Mom, sister (Angelica) and my entire family! Never have we imagined that we would be on this position – and boy we are enjoying it! I’m a very private person but you just cant help and reach to people who have dedicated their time and support.. more importantly, their prayers.
Since I’m on the topic – for the Nth time, let me express my heartfelt gratitude to all your prayers! It is really overwhelming to get messages of appreciation and support from different people from different walks of life and different time zones (THANK YOU TFC!!!!). This experience has been such a blessing and I am so glad to have shared it with you all.
In behalf of ALIMAGNO-SABATER / ROYOL-LAMATON families
THANK YOU… AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL!
SEE YOU AT THE FINALE!
PRAY FOR ME!
Forgive me if this entry may seem rushed coz it was! 😀 pressure from my boss (Ma-ann). I promise to log more entries with details and inside scoops of my MasterChef Experience!