One of my favorite spots in the city celebrated another milestone. The Peninsula Manila, a jewel of a landmark in Makati’s cityscape, turned 35 years old (that’s just 2 years younger than I am) yesterday — and how! Only from noon to midnight of September 14, friends and fans of the hotel were treated to a taste of its iconic halo-halo, the Harana, and its grilled schüblig for only P35++ each. Sounds too good to be true? I went to find out for myself. The Pen has been doing this on its anniversary for the last 3 years, but I experienced it only for the first time yesterday. To be fair, The Pen imposed a “no reservations” rule, which meant that everyone will go through the same ordeal of waiting in line. Excellent. But The Pen also ran a contest on facebook — “Images from 35 Years Ago” — wherein fans were supposed to submit any photo of an event, phenomenon or what-have-you from the year 1976. The contest ended last July 31 and the winner gets to be the only one to have a reserved table at the event. To make a long story short, I was the only one who joined the online contest and therefore should have been the winner by default, right? But due to some miscommunication (I never received any message from the hotel’s PR staff until after I had my halo-halo and was back home), I had no other choice but to join the queue outside and inside the lobby for about 20 minutes, and another 15 minutes for the halo-halo to be served. It wasn’t that bad, really, given the volume of people who wanted to avail themselves of the fantastic treat. I actually had fun chatting with some of the folks with whom I shared the same plight (of waiting in line) and it was altogether a pleasant experience. Moreover, it didn’t seem like forever to wait at the magnificent Lobby while I admired its ornate sunburst ceiling and listened to soothing music from a flautist and a violinist. I have stayed at the hotel overnight some 5 years ago, and have enjoyed the highly satisfying Escolta buffet last year but this is another adventure worth remembering. As for the Harana, I now understand why it has consistently graced the “best halo-halo” lists. For ordinary people like us (by “ordinary” I mean our last names are not Zobel, Gokongwei or Pacquiao), it’s quite an experience to taste the hotel’s halo-halo at a tiny fraction of its regular cost. My bill amounted to P42. 98 (or roughly 1 US dollar). Congratulations to The Peninsula Manila for pulling off such a stunt, as only The Pen can do! Until next year!