Episode 60: Of speed dating, romance-friendly restaurants, and then some

Ah, December. Probably the coldest and loneliest month for most singles out there. While much of the world’s population are preparing to celebrate Christmas in a romantic note, some will have to do with staying late at work on Christmas Eve before joining their families or coworkers, and then retreating to their dark, amihan-chilled rooms to brood and sleep away the craving for holiday cheer brought by having the one you love snuggling by your side.

Such is the fate of those poor souls who are members of the so-called “Samahan ng mga Malalamig ang Pasko”, or the fellowship of people who aren’t romantically involved this Christmas. Few survive this holiday season with the resolve not to mourn their misfortune while everyone else is with someone.

So what’s a single person who can’t stand these cold days to do? Go find a date, that’s what. Easier said than done, though… unless you get the right intervention to take care of that.  Enter “An Anti-Cold Christmas Speed Dating Night,” a speed dating event hosted by Red Vase Interventions.

Wait, what’s speed dating?

In speed dating, a set of males and females are paired and given about five minutes to introduce themselves and talk to each other. After that time, they would change partners until each person has talked to everyone from the opposite gender. If two persons mutually express interest in each other, they are given each other’s contact details, and encouraged to meet again. Hello, romance!

Speed dating helps a participant meet and know a person without getting trapped in a boring, awkward, no-chemistry conversation. At the same time, it provides just enough time to make two participants who become interested in each other to work on developing mutual understanding. It’s like matchmaking, except you’re in a social event with an organized crowd and only a few minutes to make an impression.

So I found myself at the doorstep of Mario’s Restaurant at Tomas Morato, Quezon City, that Saturday night, with an invitation to Red Vase’s speed dating event. Join the event, they said. It will be fun, they said. Well I haven’t dated anyone for a long time, so join the event I did.

Seriously, this was the first time I went speed dating. Since it will be just like a regular social event, I thought I’d just go with the minimum preparations for the event – clean clothes, a dash or two of perfume, the usual hygienic rituals, and that’s it.

Mario’s is known as one of the most popular and well-respected restaurants in Baguio and Quezon City. The place is known for its fusion of Spanish, Filipino, and European cuisine. It’s also known for its Sunday brunch, lunch buffet, and catering services. Incidentally, I remember Mario’s as that one restaurant in Baguio City that I have not dined in. My siblings have dined there a few times, but not me.

It’s my first time to step into Mario’s but I could see clearly that it’s not only good for brunches and family gatherings, but also for dates. The restaurant is quiet, elegant and cozy, which is perfect for trysts and conversations, friendly and intimate alike.

The speed dating event started with a buffet dinner, which offered a glimpse of Mario’s extensive menu. The buffet consisted of chicken quesadillas, Russian salad, fish fillet-vera cruz, chicken galantina, pork tonkatsu, spaghetti, cabbage rolls, cajunned rice, pandan rice, chocolatines cake and Bakewell slices.

Let me say that of all the dishes in the buffet, I liked the chicken quesadillas the most. They’re soft and warm, with the right balance of chicken and cheese. A plate of these will surely work well with a crisp white wine or some beer as a worthy companion to a quiet, conversation-filled date with that potential partner. Somebody remind me to make a full-length visit to Mario’s sometime.

Soon enough, the speed dating event started. There were fifteen girls and thirteen of us guys in the event. Most of them were quite younger than me. Seems like I’m the only one who underprepared for the event, but it no longer mattered.

Five minutes with each girl came and passed like clockwork. I won’t talk about them, or which ones I fancied, but yeah, I found some of them interesting. I agree, five minutes is not enough to know a person well.

Admittedly, nowadays I don’t have a lot of confidence when it comes to meeting girls. Unlike other males who can dress well, charm and sweet-talk their way around, I could only talk about my interests, namely, writing, food, and music. My only weapon was my brutal honesty – like “Hello, this is my first time to go speed dating, though I primarily came there for the food; I’m a foodie and I’m happy to make your acquaintance.” Hey, I’m a food blogger, it can’t be helped. Wait, are sentiments like this something that should be shared? Men are supposed to be confident and strong-willed, right? On the other hand, a man who can’t admit his weakness is weak. But your mileage may vary.

Attending a speed dating event is a refreshing experience. It made me aware of how much more I should go around and socialize. Also, it helped me think about the kind of first impression I give off – I’m really a big-brother type and I must be hard to read and decipher. It would take a really tough and open-hearted person to see through me. Or maybe I was a walking turn-off or something. Should I add how little about girls in my age group? Ah, whatever.

So how did my speed dating experience go? Let it suffice to say I still don’t have a date. That’s okay, my chance will come someday, and my Christmas is fine as it is, cold or not. Now there’s this neat ramen place at SM Mall of Asia…


For more information on Red Vase Interventions, visit
http://www.rvase.me/ or


Aikyatchi: Help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan! Dine for a good cause!

If you guys have nothing to do this weekend other than eat out, I’d like you to do your share in sending aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Super Typhoon Yolanda). You can either donate clothes, food, hygiene packs, or money. Or you can be a volunteer for relief organizations such as the Red Cross, Alagang Kapatid Foundation, GMA Kapuso Foundation, or Sagip Kapamilya.

But if you don’t have the time to do that, there’s another way to help our brethren: by eating out.

Chef and food blogger Jeremy Slagle of MrDelicious.PH organized a movement on social media called the #YolandaActionWeekend. This weekend, restaurants and food businesses are urged to donate a portion of their earnings to the relief efforts in hard-hit areas like Leyte, Samar, Cebu, and Coron in Palawan. Over 100 restaurants have joined this movement.

I browsed through Kristn and Philippine Tatler and found this list of food establishments that are participating in this endeavor. I will leave it to you to look for these places.

Once you’ve dined in any of these establishments, post a status and/or picture and use the hash tags #ReliefPH #YolandaActionWeekend to participate and support the cause.

I know that showing food pictures and selfies on social media at a time like this is taboo. Normally, I’d discourage such acts. I’m even tempted to post “Meanwhile, in Tacloban…” as a comment on any food post. This is a different matter, though. Eating in places that support relief efforts, and donate their proceeds to those who need aid, is a simple way to reach out to our needy countrymen.

I hope these participating restaurants succeed in helping the victims of Haiyan. I’ll pray for your endeavors.