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Not the time for driving around

- Rey Gamboa () - May 20, 2006 - 12:00am
We are all watching with hawk eyes pump prices which, at the rate they are going, are escalating at a frenzy mode. If we’re complaining, so are Americans who have to contend with gasoline at $3 per gallon. At that rate, a motorist will need to spend around $45 to $50 every time he gasses up for a full tank, and we’re not talking of big American cars that are notorious for being gas guzzlers. We’re talking of regular cars, like those Japanese models that are now very popular in the United States because they are more cost efficient. Believe me, more and more people are leaving their big cars in the garage and using the smaller car for everyday driving.

Everyone seems to be asking: what is happening to world oil prices? They are going up at a furious pace it’s true, mainly because of higher crude costs. But apparently, there are other factors that are driving the costs up. In the US, crude oil accounts for 55 percent of the basic pump price of gasoline. There are other factors, pretty much similar in all other countries. Refining, for instance, accounts for as much as 22 percent. Speaking of refining, in the most recent energy bill passed in the US, they have adopted corn-based ethanol, effectively junking the old MTBE which is a petroleum-derived additive. This seems to be the way that most other countries would like to go, but unfortunately, it is not always as simple as it seems.

As I mentioned in an earlier column, there are related costs to this. Although it seems to be the most logistical option now, I guess timing is of the essence. The new refining system will of course entail huge logistics problems, as well as the new distribution system that will need to follow suit. With prices rising like crazy now, it isn’t the time to put this new machinery in place.

Oil industry insiders in the US think that the ill-timing of certain provisions in their voluminous energy bill. As a result, crude oil prices went up 37 percent in that region, up from 21 percent as of end of 2005.

If it is any consolation, the high pump prices have kept a lot of people at home. If this trend continues, and it should if gasoline prices continue to go up, then the decreased demand should have a significant effect on oil prices. If the demand slackens, it follows that prices will stabilize and, hopefully, reduce in the long run.

I guess that is true for most countries reeling from the dizzying oil prices. In the Philippines, oil prices are used as index for other basic consumer commodities, and government has to step in to stabilize the prices of these basic commodities. In the US, they report a small decrease in demand, about half a percent. With this reversal, they are still consuming over nine million barrels of oil a day in the US of A. At this rate, how long will be wells in the Middle East hold?

There seems to be no respite in the escalating prices. Although crude oil costs account for more than half of the pump prices, the rest of the pie is divided among refining costs, taxes which eat up a big portion of the pie, and distribution and marketing. Lately, our own government has stepped in to slash the oil tax and cushion the prices a bit to give us consumers a little breathing space.

Ordinary drivers like us who use up gas everyday to go to work, school, the nearby supermarket, the malls on weekends, etc. should be more conscious of waste, or irrational use of gasoline. Better driving habits, of course, can spell a difference, as well as one’s choice of more fuel-efficient automobiles. Conservation can go a long, long way.
Terry Selection
Last Sunday, I brought the family out for a good lunch. Mothers’ Day is always a special event for us, and to show our appreciation for all the good mothers out there, and especially to my wife Baby, we wanted a special (late) lunch. My daughter Kristine suggested a place we have not tried before – Terry Selection which is in the lower ground floor of the Podium.

If you know our family, you know that Sunday lunch never starts at 12 noon. Half past one o’clock is average, but last Sunday, it was an ungodly 2:30. Anyway, at that time, the restaurant was still teeming with diners who, I presume, have taken over from the early (normal) diners who start at 11:30 and pack up by 2 p.m.

Famished as we were, we naturally ordered more than we should have. For starters, we had croquetas (what Spanish meal is complete without this ever-present item), chorizo on piggy back which is a feast for the eyes (they present it to your table all aflame, on little piggy back servers, and they tasted fantastic), and wanton-wrapped cheese and salami which is an original creation by the owners. Another fantastic choice. The cheese balanced so well with the tangy salami, and the crispy wanton held it all together.

We couldn’t wait for the main courses. My son Ray Louis opted for a more tame choice – Chicken Normanda, which was a full-size chicken breast doused in a flavorful cheese sauce. Tin also opted for chicken, grilled on a bed of pesto pasta, but I guess she fancied the chicken normanda more as she kept digging her fork into her brother Waywee’s plate. Babes had the Fabada, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, although the serving is quite small. The fava beans were over-sized, and the sauce was one of the most flavorful I’ve had. It had blood sausage and chorizo Pamplona which had a pretty strong agreeable taste. Small bits of the sausage went a long way to flavor the broth of the dish. I guess if I did not dig into her order, the dish would have been enough for one person!

I did not want to err on the side of caution, so I went for it – I had the Angus Ribeye, a tender slab of marbled beef, grilled to my liking. They said the rib eye was good for two – I beg to disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed that one.

To cap the meal, Tin suggested the Sans Rival – Wow! This you should try. It is served cold and somehow reminded me of a better version of the marzipan. It is packed full with nuts and a creamy blend of buttery goodness. The crust is not crispy, and though the dessert is not fudgy, it melts in your mouth. A must-try.

We ended the day with a few purchases of their deli specialties – Chorizo Milano, Chorizo Pamplona, Salsitchon, Jamon Serrano and a plump slab of sour dough bread for Sunday dinner.

All in all, an excellent day out for that most special of days.

Mabuhay
! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments: (e-mail) businessleisurestar@stv.com.ph

ANGUS RIBEYE AS I CHICKEN NORMANDA CHORIZO MILANO CHORIZO PAMPLONA IN THE PHILIPPINES JAMON SERRANO OIL PRICES TERRY SELECTION
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