MaHB: Din­ing

The ven­er­a­ble Prince al­berT ro­Tis­serie serves iTs lasT sTeak

Esquire (Philippines) - - CONTENTS - BY AU­DREY N. CAR­PIO

We say a fond farewell to a most cher­ished Prince.

Prince Al­bert, for four decades, has al­ways had its cat­e­gory of loyal clien­tele: CEOs, high-rank­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, movers and shak­ers of so­ci­ety. Not so much celebri­ties, or young up­starts—the restau­rant is en­dur­ingly un­trendy, re­sis­tant to change, and wears its old-fash­ioned­ness like a pair of starched cuffs. This was the kind of se­ri­ous place one’s par­ents and grand­par­ents went to, and for the same thing al­ways: the prime rib. Ser­vice was discreet and per­son­al­ized, and many high-pro­file men have felt com­fort­able enough to take women who were not their wives there to dine.

The In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Manila an­nounced that it would be clos­ing down for good on De­cem­ber 31. Af­ter 46 years, the Philip­pines’ very first five-star ho­tel will be turned over to Ayala Land. Some say it has over­stayed its wel­come, a fad­ing rem­nant of its ‘80s/’90s glory days. No­body has at­tempted any protest move­ments to “save” the In­terCon, de­spite it be­ing a Le­an­dro Loc­sin- de­signed build­ing. The ho­tel was wit­ness to Philip­pine po­lit­i­cal history dur­ing a 1989 coup at­tempt, but even a her­itage buff like Car­los Cel­dran barely gave a shrug to the news of the shut­ter­ing of the once-grand dame of ho­tels. Its beloved Prince Al­bert Ro­tis­serie, how­ever, is a dif­fer­ent story, and will go down in restau­rant history as a true clas­sic, but per­haps no­body will miss it as much as Rod Mal­abrigo.

Prince Al­bert’s head waiter has been with the In­terCon for 29 years, and in those 29 years he has never had a Christ­mas hol­i­day, a New Year’s Eve night off, nor a Fa­ther’s Day, and es­pe­cially not a Valen­tine’s Day. But he has no re­grets. Mal­abrigo started out as a ban­quet waiter and worked at the ho­tel’s dif­fer­ent out­lets from Gam­bri­nus to Jeep­ney Cafe and Where Else? When he was made a reg­u­lar em­ployee af­ter one year, he promised him­self that each year would mark an achieve­ment of a dif­fer­ent goal. He would be a model em­ployee. And he was—for three con­sec­u­tive years, he had per­fect at­ten­dance. He rose up the ranks, form bus­boy to waiter, to cap­tain and som­me­lier. He has been sent all over the world for train­ing and re­ceived VIP treat­ment him­self in ho­tels abroad, when the GMs would find out his prove­nance was the famed Prince Al­bert.

“I love In­tercon. I was so sad when they an­nounced the clos­ing,” Mal­abrigo says. “Prince Al­bert is my sec­ond home. Ev­ery day, I

heaD waiTer roD mal­abrigo looks back

on nearly 30 years aT The in­Tercon.

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