Bikini Experience

“Asset or share?”, I asked nonchalantly while acting as the lawyer for the buyers.

“Asset,” Florencio Tiri volunteered, his eyes rolling like a chimpanzee. Whether Tiri was saying it in a business sense was beyond my comprehension.

 “No, share! We are buying it,” Gerard Luna insisted.  “I’ll send the offer,” he clarified.

 A week after, Gerard sent the offer to sell governed by the bulk sales. Tiri, known as Turing among his friends in Wilson, was right after all. Tsang, the seller, is selling the assets not the shares.

 The  Chinese Garden Restaurant is closing and a crew of enterprising Filipinos consisting of three young, not-so-young and not-so-old entrepreneurs are buying the Chinese garden. Lito Closa, an intriguing but down-to-earth mechanic engaged in the trucking and renovation business, Gerard Luna, a self-styled chef who can make ladies blush, and Emil Galicia, a renovator who loves to spend his winter in the heavens of Ajax, have pooled their talents to buy the nondescript, at least among Filipinos, Chinese restaurant. Turing, a flamboyant, in many respects, former Benguet mining supervisor who claimed to have a hidden talent in seeing light in a deep dark tunnel or pitch black purlieu, serves as an adviser to these adventurous and newly-minted restaurateurs being all friends to him. It is not certain though whether Turing will act as spiritual counsel to the three partners who look up to him like Zeus and who can sing “Ama Namin” in earnest.

 “Ama Nila”, Lito blurted out, tongue-in-cheek. I am not sure what Lito meant by this but Turing is a ladies’ man to orphaned souls pro tempore, while waiting for their permanent residence status, during their neophyte years in Toronto. Not a feng shui master, Turing can show the newbies the social labyrinth and provide them with practical survival tips to succeed in Canada. Lito’s expression rings true. A man of principle who loathes highfalutin claim of personal network and wealth in his social headquarters, Turing is a father to two nurses and a police officer.

 “This will be the stage with two mounted TV screens left and right of centre with a fireplace below” Lito smiled pointing his finger to the wall just dividing Marcelina. “We will put grey and white brick walls here,”’ he continued. “Dark brown brick on other walls,’’ Lito said in jest. Indeed, the restaurant has been stripped of its Chineseness for a more state-of-the-art and soon-to-be Filipino paradise.

 With Mercury-rising expectation, Bikini-in-Manila is rising.  “That’s a unique trade name,” a staff from the Canada Revenue Agency commented while the business was registered for tax purposes.

 Far from being a stripped joint, Bikini-in-Manila is a restaurant and bar which envisions to offer new and never-before experienced Filipino cuisine and a cozy hang-out for the working men and professionals alike. “We will be serving binakol, kinilaw, nilaga (bikini) plus other mouth-watering recipes,” Gerard explained.

 After two weeks of marathon corporate and personal property searches for liens and encumbrances on the seller’s assets, the keys to the Chinese garden were handed over to Lito Closa, Gerard Luna and Emil Galicia who immediately explored the garden with wanting-to-get-out business libido flashing on their faces like a raging bull. “We hope to establish a food and entertainment mecca hereabouts. Wait for the bikini experience,” Lito declared.




“Tall, white, and handsome,” Luningning tells her friends while dining out at Max’s restaurant, a stone throw away from Hawthorne’s Place where her aged employer is presently housed.

She is talking about Ivan Adore, a Romanian visitor who has been in Canada for the last three years. A dyed-in-the-wool Bohemian and flamboyantly generous hook, line and sinker, Adore does iron grills on the side as he has no work permit.

Petite and bubbly, Luningning shows off her diamond ring, and blurts out “(I)’m engaged.”

A whirlwind romance, Luningning and Adore first met at Panciteria, a cozy restaurant known for its Ibanag’s batil-patong (a mixture of noodles, toppings and egg), located in the heart of Lawrence and Bathurst. They eventually got married at the idyllic fishing village of Peterborough.

Handsomely stunning in his striped long-sleeve who croons like Eddie Peregrina, the deceased ‘60s Filipino balladeer, Adore was an easy target for Luningning who fell for him at first sight. Romance blossomed and they have since become inseparable except when Adore would seek refuge at McDonalds, his favourite hang-out.

Luningning came to Canada as a caregiver. She had big dreams and she always wanted to go to North America. Living in the boondocks at Tapaz, Capiz, walking about three kilometers to reach school, Luningning never wavered until she obtained her bachelor’s degree and passed her licensure in Nursing on her third try. The eldest in a brood of six, Luningning was the beacon of light to her family. While working in a provincial hospital with low salary, she reignited her hope of coming to America and told her father that she was going to Canada. Faced with a placement fee of P100,000 to get an employer in Canada, her father never asked any questions and he sold their two hectares of riceland, the family’s only source of income, to pursue her destiny. Behind his mind, Luningning’s father believed that the riceland will be returned two-fold.

With a dint of hard work and a dogged determination. Luningning completed her caregiver program and she applied for permanent residence. Being single with no dependants, she will be granted her permanent residence within a year or so with no issues.

Ninety days of summer having passed and having informed immigration by courier as fast as an RCPI telegram of old of her marriage midway of her application, Luningning received a refusal letter advising her that she was inadmissible and had to leave Canada after the expiration of her work permit. Like a pandora’s box, Ivan Adore was a convicted rapist. Adore’s criminal inadmissibility extended to Luningning who became disqualified to land In Canada.

Like a sound of loud thunder, Luningning’s dream has vanished and about to be vanquished.

Uncomplicated as her life was, Luningning’s immigration status has become complicated and clouded by uncertainty. Her life has since been wayward like a derailed train and shrouded with guilt as she seems to have betrayed her father and hopelessness as she seems to have breached Canada’s immigration law and subject to exclusion and deportation.

Being a caring society, Canada may still treat Luningning’s case with compassion and it may give her another chance on humanitarian grounds.

Biting her soft lip as did Adore ninety days before, Luningning has realized that dreams may go rust if overwhelmed with stupid love and not handled with care. Briskly walking towards No Frills at Jane and Finch, Luningning sings “(T)oo much love will kill you.” Adore after-all is not a knight-in-shining-armour but a knight-in-rusting-armour.