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January 29-February 11, 2017 Vol. XXXV No. 5



Two kids display how interactions used to be—without the use of screens—at the entrance of a souvenir shop beside the Banawe Rice Terraces in the province of Ifugao. Removed from the cacophony of the world below them, they have the luxury of a simpler life. Photo by C. Jude Defensor

Battling for the truth in the post-fact world

Phl to bolster medical tourism efforts By RICHARD RAMOS




iving in this country, it doesn’t take too long to realize that the Philippines is the most Americanized nation in Asia. Signages are in English, as are broadsheets; pop culture remains heavily influenced by the west, and as a lasting testament to the American influence, a country with an average male height of 5’7” is deeply, emotionally invested with the sport of basketball. But these days, the Philippines has managed to turn the tables. We got here first… well at least half a year ahead. The US has alternative truths, while we have hyperboles and jokes. US President Donald Trump wants to make America great

again by threatening corporations with punitive tariffs and forcing them to make consumer goods exponentially more expensive by manufacturing them in the US, while President Rodrigo Duterte wants to rescue his nation from the drug menace by purging the poor. Trump, from the outside looking in, and with his and his cabinet’s conflicts of interest, appear to have self-profit as the bottom line; while the Duterte administration, and this war on drugs, well… no one’s quite sure what the end game is. The parallels have been well documented as early as last year when Duterte took his seat as the President of the Philippines,

while Trump was spewing alternate reality pronouncements as the Republican party’s unlikely nominee. But one similarity that could eventually rear with it an understated relevance is the two populist leaders’ relationship with the media, and ultimately, the truth. Trump has a very public beef going on with the media, while in much the same way, the Duterte administration has not taken too kindly to the media reporting what the President says. Sowing seeds of distrust The media has had a long history of having a hand in

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hile the profile of a typical tourist spends more or less a predictable amount of money in the industry, the average medical tourist spends far more due to the need for medicines, medical equipment, services of medical experts, aside from the usual board and lodging requirements—thus making medical tourism a lucrative venture for the Philippines to explore further. More than the financial benefits, the Philippines also possesses the ideal qualities for a fitting medical destination by way of its large pool of qualified medical teams, many of which were trained in the US and other countries. What’s more, around half of all foreign nurses in the US are Filipino due to their natural caring nature, their patience, and English speaking skills that have endeared themselves to their foreign patients. page 3





Sustainable Seafood Week 2017 set for Feb Industry players hope to inspire solution for change with the weeklong event By TIMOTHY JAY IBAY


ast year saw the birthing of Sustainable Seafood Week—an initiative by a community of hotels, restaurants, retailers and NGOs to build public awareness on the issue of responsible seafood sourcing and how critical it is for the seafood industry to act in response to the rapid depletion of the ocean’s resources. The second Sustainable Seafood Week, after getting an enthusiastic response from players in the industry, is set for Feb. 20 to 26, and promises to be an even bigger weeklong celebration and portal for learning responsible seafood sourcing practices. “There are more participants this year, more hotels and restaurants, educational institutions, NGOs, retailers and other interested organizations,” says Christian Schmidradner, general manager of seafood company Meliomar. “This shows growing importance placed on the topic of responsible seafood sourcing, implemented traceability, legal fisheries, and improvement of fishery and aquaculture management. We started this movement with the involvement of all stakeholders, and with so many more organizations involved, we can draw more attention on the topic.” The program This year’s activities will include workshops to develop a monitoring framework that will enable the progress of responsibly sourced seafood on the

menus of the hotels and restaurants, and will link the Sustainable Seafood initiative to government policies. An educational series on Sustainable Seafood will also be kicked off, to provide venues for discussion and learning throughout the year. The initiative will also bring more activities to more public spaces, in order to reach out to a broader spectrum of people. The group behind the Sustainable Seafood initiative emphasizes that the real im-

pact of the effort will be when proven sustainable seafood solutions are connected to the buyers in the hotel, restaurant and retail chains. These seafood products that count as responsible solutions are fully traceable from legal fisheries, include no threatened and endangered species, are not caught with harmful and destructive gear and are not juvenile fish. Best sustainable seafood products from aquacultures have no external feed, no medication, and are purely naturally grown.

Representatives of participating organizations toast on stage after announcing the launch of Sustainable Seafood Week 2017 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom on Jan. 16. The weeklong culinary and learning event is set for Feb. 20 to Feb. 26. Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Araujo

The initiative’s partners stress that a multi-stakeholder approach is critical. All stakeholders have an important role in the successful realization of our vision. Laws, execution, community building, procurement guidelines and responsibly built supply chains, sustainable seafood policies, public awareness, and education are all important ingredients to improving the state of our oceans in the future. The Sustainable Seafood initiative envisions this collaboration of the stakeholders and brings the work of all involved organizations onto one public platform and inspires solutions for change. “The government should take cue from this increasing number of Sustainable Seafood Week participating establishments to strongly and urgently implement the Amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines, and ensure that fish is sustainably provided. Making sure seafood is sustainable is crucial in allowing our seas to recover from overfishing and ecosystem degradation. Sustainable Seafood Week Philippines is first in Southeast Asia and shows how the Philippine hospitality industry is serious in their role to address the problems happening at sea, one plate at a time,” says Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia. For more information about Sustainable Seafood Week 2017, contact (0917) 824-3702 or visit their Facebook page @ sustainableseafoodweekph

Confab to rediscover Metro’s tourism gems

Addt'l Japanese flights to boost tourism



ith its urban blight notwithstanding, Metro Manila remains an intriguing and exciting tropical megalopolis for many Westerners. As proof, London-based paper, The Independent recently featured the megacity in a 48-hour swing for global travelers, while in 2014, it was named as among the world’s 10 Fastest-Emerging Global Cities by The World Post. Add to these the fact that it recently hosted the 65th Miss Universe pageant after more than two decades. It is in this light that government and private stakeholders in the National Capital Region is convening the first-ever Metro Manila Tourism Forum (MMTF) to help draw a tourism development framework for the big city. Set on Feb. 9 to 10 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, the confab will be participated in by local tourism council officers, local government executives, and tourism front liners. The event is organized by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), hosted by the Quezon City Government, led by Mayor Herbert Bautista, and supported by the Department of Tourism (DOT). Event organizer and AAP Travel president Dr. Mina Gabor said that the MMTF will integrate tourism in the promotion of inclusive and sustainable growth; employment and poverty reduction; resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change; cultural values, diversity and heritage; and peace and security. Topics include Changing the Tourism Face of City Destinations for a Quality Visitor Experience, Enhancing City Tourism Destinations Competitiveness Through Improved Accessibility, and A 360o View: Positioning

City Tourism Destinations in the ASEAN and Local Marketplace. DOT Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo will lead the keynote speakers, along with UNWTO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Xu Jing, The Wallace Business Forum President Peter Wallace, Singapore’s Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan, and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) immediate past president Gregory Duffell. Other keynote speakers are Homestay Philippines, Inc. President Rose Libongco, TravPax Solutions Pte Ltd. President Dror Maytal, and DOT-NCR Officer-in-Charge Cathy Agustin who will present the best city tour packages. Gabor said the event is themed “ASEAN: Enhancing City Tourism Destinations towards Sustainable Development,” in line with the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Delegates from ASEAN member countries are expected to attend in support of the Philippines’ chairmanship of this year’s ASEAN Summit and 50th anniversary celebration. A unique political entity composed of 16 cities and one municipality, Metro Manila is an eclectic blend of the old and the new with its colonial-era districts and modern central business districts. Hosting next year’s MMTF is the City Government of Parañaque, which is home to bayside world-class tourist facilities such as Okada Manila, Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams, Aseana City, and Resorts World Bayside.


MR-Megawide Cebu Airport Inc. (GMCAC) sees the increase in flight frequencies to Japan from Cebu as a boost in making the Japanese market the next big tourism opportunity for central and southern Philippines. “Japan is an important market for Cebu and the rest of the country. The entry of new flights to Cebu makes us more attractive as a destination especially for Japanese tourists who are fascinated of Cebu’s unique blend as a business and leisure destination,” said GMCAC Chief Executive Adviser Andrew Harrison. GMCAC is the private company managing the terminal operations and other related areas of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. MCIA connects to three Japan destinations The thrice-weekly Nagoya flights and the daily Osaka flights are served by Philippine Airlines. Meanwhile, the 25-times weekly Narita flights are served by PAL, Cebu Pacific and Japanese low cost carrier Vanilla Air. Vanilla Air Inc., wholly owned by ANA Holdings Inc., launched last December 25, 2016 its daily direct flights from Narita to Cebu, making it the fifth international destination in the airline’s route network. It is the first Japanese airline to fly direct from Narita to Cebu. Vanilla Air currently operates from Tokyo (Narita) to Taipei, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong

and Ho Chi Minh City apart from the domestic destinations: Sapporo, Hakodate, Osaka, Amami-Oshima and Okinawa. Likewise, Japan is notably becoming a favorite travel destination among Filipinos. The country is home to 19 World Heritage Sites and popular tourist attractions like Tokyo, Hiroshima, Mount Fuji and several ski resorts. Meanwhile, Harrison noted that as the opening of a new airport terminal draws closer to June 2018, GMCAC is focused on developing more international connectivity, which he voiced with optimism will spur tourism and business opportunities in Cebu and the rest of the country. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is currently serving a total of 14 international destinations, 26 domestic destinations with 19 partner airline carriers. MCIA’s Terminal 2, where construction is in full capacity, will boost the airport’s passenger carrying capacity to 15 million passengers a year from the current 4.5 million passengers. GMR-MEGAWIDE Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) is a Filipino-led consortium managing the terminal operations and other related areas of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Under the Public-Private partnership framework, the GMR Group of India and the MEGAWIDE Construction Corporation joint venture, shall deliver a second terminal and rehabilitate the existing one to reduce congestion as well as meet the growing passenger traffic.





Bambanti Festival celebrates Isabela for the Universe


he province of Isabela recently held the Bambanti Festival 2017, which depicts the blossoming of Isabela as an outstanding province in the Philippines. The annual festival organized by the provincial government highlights Isabela’s community life, history, and heritage through a celebration of the province’s rich harvest, bountiful produce and colorful culture. Held recently, from Jan. 23 to 28, Bambanti Festival 2017 was a tourism, trade, investment and environment project featuring the province’s various indigenous worldclass products, lifestyle merchandise items and cuisine as pride of place. The festival’s theme, “Isabela for the Universe,” celebrated the successes that the province has enjoyed and proudly shares with the world. It aims to become a template

for economic growth, socio-cultural development, disaster preparedness, and the agriculture productivity of the community. It was a showcase of Isabela’s universal love—its love and respect for fellow Isabeleños, for the community, for the province (its natural resources, culture, agriculture, industries). This is what the province offers to the whole of mankind, and to the universe. Since its beginnings, the Bambanti Festival has been represented by the scarecrow as its mascot and token icon, “bambanti” being the Ilocano word for scarecrow. While Western culture has assigned the scarecrow an image that stirs fright, the bambanti in Isabela stands as a representation of protection. Made of straw and grass, wrapped in farmer’s clothing, the bambanti is placed in the middle of the fields to prevent the birds

Battling for the truth...from page 1 spreading propaganda, from proliferating the thought that marijuana “makes blacks and Mexicans rape white women” to the fear mongering that the 24/7 coverage of the “war on terror” brought. And it is the accumulated decades of distrust that has led to this—the post-fact world—a world where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. There prevails a brazenness that allows the Trump administration to claim he had the biggest inauguration crowd ever, even when it cannot be more contrary to what everyone’s eyes suggest. It is the same thing that empowers Duterte’s interpretation team to claim that the President didn’t say what he said in front of hundreds of people, video evidence be damned. It’s the very thing that leaves the public unblinking when the administrations says that people haven’t felt as safe on the streets as they do now, with crime rates supposedly down, and the President’s vice presidential running mate comparing the country to Singapore—all while over 6,000 people have been killed in six months, the country remains under a “state of lawlessness” and Duterte insists on keeping the threat of martial law lit.

State of confusion As mad as the two leaders often appear to be, there seems to be a method to their consistent discrediting of the media. In a Philippine Daily Inquirer op-ed piece by John Nery titled “Why we MUST fight fakes,” he cites a chapter in Hannah Arendt’s “Origins of Totalitarianism,” which attempts to explain how crafting a state of confusion is indispensable to authoritarian rule. “Just as terror, even in its pre-total, merely tyrannical form ruins all relationships between men, so the self-compulsion of ideological thinking ruins all relationships with reality… The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist,” reads an excerpt from Arendt's book. It appears we, or at least the ruling elite, have brought this upon us. Political outsiders have become strong, alternative choices as opposed to remaining with the status quo. And now, amidst all the issues the respective countries have, a battle between facts and how they are perceived has emerged.

Phl to bolster medical...from page 1 This was revealed by Dr. Cynthia Lazo, director and head of the Department of Tourism’s Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism Marketing Development Group, in her talk dubbed “Competitive Edge in Medical Tourism” held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino. “We have world-class medical expertise and global technologies that have made us a value for money venue. We are much more affordable than hospitals based in the US and Europe,” she stated in a conference on Philippine Retirement, Medical and Wellness Tourism organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce-Cebu chapter. To prove this point, she cited the fact that Philippine medical packages have remained unchanged since 2013 in its bid to remain competitive vis-à-vis her Asean neighbors. She also pointed out to the overall country environment in terms of its tropical climate, among other factors, and tourism attractiveness due to its numerous white sand

beach resort facilities, natural attractions, dive sites, and heritage attractions. Among the more feasible and relevant medical products/services in the field, Dr. Lazo enumerated executive check-ups, cardiology, minimally invasive surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, and aesthetic/cosmetics/dental services. Key markets include members of the Filipino diaspora (OFWs, migrant workers), medical travel services (Guam, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea), health and wellness tourism (with China, Korea, and Japan), expats and retirees, and domestic medical travelers and tourists. Future directions include consultation meetings with stakeholders for different market niches, development of wellness packages, creation and analysis of international pathway to address customer care continuum, and strategic conversations with Investment Promotion Agencies and insurance providers.

Vibrant costumes mark the Bambanti Festival dance competitions

from coming and ensure a good and abundant harvest. During the weeklong festival, the bambanti becomes the focus of the celebration of thanksgiving. Visitors enjoyed a wide array of activities during the festval’s recent staging, which included the province-wide Giant Bambanti Showcase; Bambanti Street Dance and Showdown Competition; youth talents

in Bambanti Musical Street; Isabela’s very own Hip-Hop BBoy Group Dance Competition; Search for Bambanti Festival King and Queen; an Agri-Ecotourism Exhibit and Sale, among others. For more information on the Bambanti Festival and the province of Isabela, contact the Office of the Provincial Administrator at (078) 323-1073 or visit





Getting misty over Miss U mystique Expat’s Cebu correspondent recounts his Miss Universe 2016 experience By RICHARD RAMOS


y the time this article comes out, everyone would have already known the winners of Miss Universe 2016. Everyone would have been part of some chatter about the end results of the pageant; the final questions and answers, their own final five, and maybe even a discussion of the places the candidates failed to visit. The candidates would have long gone home, full of fun-filled tales and memories of their first-hand visits to Manila, Davao, Cebu, Siargao, Boracay, Vigan, Batangas, and Baguio. But please bear with us, dear reader, as this writer recounts his experiences in covering the swimsuit presentation of the pageant held last Jan. 17 at the JPark Island Resort and Waterpark in Mactan Island, Cebu. Early start It was quite a lengthy stay for the Cebubased media practitioners who were up and about at 5 a.m. that fateful Tuesday as we spent the whole day at the resort and tried our best to abide by the strict protocol imposed upon us by the event organizers and resort authorities. Surprisingly, we managed somehow to live up to the “no interview, no selfie, and limited picture-taking” creed and still came up with newsworthy articles and photos that had to be submitted a bit late due to the cell site shutdown. Our day started as our van took off at 5:30 a.m. from SM City Cebu to JPark and passed by several thousands of schoolchildren, some of which were in foreign costumes, lining up the 10-kilometer route from the Marina Mall to the resort. The kids, who waited for nearly three hours, served as the impromptu welcome party for the Miss Universe delegates, as nearly all countries were represented by a sign and their native wear. It was learned that classes were cancelled that day for the kids to put up their best front. Upon our arrival at the resort, we took our places at the designated media corner and patiently waited for the first batch of

The lovely ladies in their national costumes

presentation, where outfits were sponsored by Yamamay, an Italian brand. The fast-paced show was quick to point out who the crowd favorites were, with Miss Venezuela, Miss Colombia, Miss Vietnam (who nearly fell), Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Thailand, Miss USA, and Miss Korea all receiving more cheers than most. Needless to say, the Philippines’ Maxine Medina received the loudest cheers as she came out in a shimmering silver and pink swimsuit with her hair neatly tucked in a bun. It was whispered among certain quarters that the “Best in Swimsuit” candidate was already picked during the pageant, but the winner would be announced at the coronation night on Jan. 30 in Manila. The photographers’ stage was already overcrowded as is, so this writer had to make do with standing on a cushioned chair at the back in near-futile hopes of getting good shots of the show.

Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach in of her final walks as Miss Universe

candidates who arrived over two hours later. The 87 candidates arrived at the resort in three batches, keeping the media on their toes the entire time, further amplified when Miss Universe 2015 Piz Wurtzbach and former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson arrived to an overwhelming display of flash photography, selfies, and thunderous Sinulog beat and dance. VIPs in attendance at the lobby were Justin Uy-JPark CEO, Lapu-lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, Jason Uy-JPark GM, and others plus a Sinulog band and dance troop to recapture the Sinulog Grand Parade fever held just a couple of days earlier. Finally, an Interview! This writer was fortunate enough to have espied Jamie Herrell, whose impressive beauty record includes Miss Mega Cebu, Reyna ng Aliwan, Ms Philippines Earth 2014, and Ms Earth 2014. She was wearing a fluffy white dress while talking with some tourism officials in the lobby.

I was lucky she recognized me right away as this was our fourth meeting over a twoyear period. Her mom Snowie was a former neighbor of mine in our early childhood days in a distant northern municipality in Cebu. She said she was distributing 250 bags with slippers dubbed “Isla 7107,” half for the candidates and the other half to be sold. Her slipper designs feature various tourist destinations of the Philippines. “I was thrilled to meet Miss Chile. She is my closest friend and my batch mate in Miss Earth 2014. I am rooting for her and Miss Philippines to make it,” she beamed. When asked for advice, Herell simply said to enjoy [the experience] and be themselves; have fun and remember that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Swimsuit joust Following a delayed breakfast for media who spent nearly four hours at the resort lobby, everyone then proceeded to the jampacked Triton Ballroom for the swimsuit

Evening festivities The evening proved to be quite hectic as well with three separate socials involving the candidates. First was an elegant fashion show involving the creations of 10 local designers as modeled by over 40 Cebu-based and Manila models at the outdoor stage. The candidates looked even lovelier in their evening attire and appeared to be quite impressed with the local collections. A nearfainting incident involving a certain candidate who was then left unnamed hardly made a dent on the overall luster of the event. The show was followed by the Kadaugan sa Mactan (Victory at Mactan) presentation with dinner held again at the Triton Ballroom where the girls witnessed the reenactment of the victory battle of Chieftain Lapu-lapu over Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan. The night was capped by a DJ spinning the crowd into party mode, with many of the models joining the party with the crowd.

Candidates wowing everyone during the swimsuit competition





Financial tips for the non-finance expert O

ne month into 2017, and some of us may already be losing grip on the resolve with which we started. Hold fast! What is worth the change is worth the effort! Year after year, people make their resolutions and commit to their personal revolutions. Studies show that, next to getting healthy/healthier, right along up in the Top 5 “I will’s or I must’s” is to develop better spending habits. While I am by no means an expert in the field, I do have some top personal financial management tips. Financial tips for those of us who aren’t exactly the most knowledgeable, when it comes to matters of finance: Do the math. Admittedly not one of my favorite subjects, doing the math is the first step to figuring your finances out. How much do you earn, compared with how much you spend? The answer may be a tad scary for some, and though reality may bite, this is key to improving your money management. If there always seems to be “too much month left at the end of your money,” then take a long, hard look and determine where cutting costs – especially unnecessary ones – can translate to savings. For example, I used to enjoy my twice a week Starbucks Tall Cappuccino with a shot of vanilla habit. Up until I found out how much it was actually costing me, and how much I could otherwise be saving. Doing the math, in this particular instance (and computing in Philippine currency, as I live in Manila), this indulgence worked out to roughly PhP1,550 a month, or PhP18,600 a year. And this is assuming I didn’t have a snack to go with the coffee. Now to some, that amount may be a pittance. But to me, it is a rather big deal to be blowing on signature coffee. Having said that, do I still occasionally enjoy that fancy cup o’ Joe? Most definitely. But no longer twice a week, every week. Make hay while the sun shines. I have a general policy as far as work goes, which I do my best to keep – bar-


ring sickness and unforeseen events: Never say no to work. Work is a blessing, and I seek it out. And when work knocks on my door, I always answer. I am of the sound belief that the industrious shall never starve, and so far, this has proven itself many times over. Having said that, it is also important to strike for yourself a balance between work and life – lest you end up spending your hardearned money on medical bills and therapy!

you can. Keep an eye out for special deals and sales.

Set some hay aside. Store some of that precious hay for days when the sun doesn’t shine as brightly. Aside from having a savings account, I like to have not-so-secret stashes: Envelopes I designate for particular expenses at the start of each year. Things such as trips to the dentist, Christmas shopping, a new gadget, and some mad money. It really does work. The little that you put aside each day amounts to something, over time. I also have a penchant for shiny coins and crispy bills (yes, you may now wipe that befuddled look off your face), so these qualify as “instant” savings, as I do not like to spend them.

Plastic isn’t all that fantastic. WARNING! This next tip is NOT for the faint of heart! IT IS DRASTIC, and may NOT be for everyone! I gave up all my credit cards. Yes, I did. Wasn’t my idea, mind you; it was Oprah’s. Or at least one of her guest’s. Much as I tried to convince myself that the plastic was “only for emergencies,” many times, a cute blouse qualified as an emergency. Break out the sirens, that shirt is in my color and size! Well, bills snowball when you’re not looking, and could potentially turn into a credit-threatening avalanche of interest and massive debt. The day I paid off the last of my credit card debt, it was as though a weight was lifted from off my shoulders. I turned the last of my cards in, despite resistance from the account manager, and I have not looked back since. I am now much better able to stay

Be a smart shopper. Work out a budget of all your expenses. Compare prices of items at the grocery store. Compare prices between grocery stores. Use coupons, when

Just say no! Learn the immense power of that small, two-letter word. Walk by that third pair of red shoes. Put down that cute unnecessary knickknack. And this goes for items on sale, too. Just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t make it necessary. Free yourself from the clutches of the moneyeyed monster of consumerism. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

within my budget, and live within my means – with the occasional over-spending slipup. Are there pitfalls? A few. It is difficult to buy things online (I generally ask a friend), and I do fret now and then about the “what-if…” emergency situation. It’s also not ideal, when traveling. But in all, getting rid of the plastic has been more advantageous to me than not. If, however, this is not the route for you, then at least use your credit card(s) wisely, and do not let the interest pile up. Learn the art of giving. No matter the religion or faith to which you adhere, or the absence thereof, it holds true: “Give and it shall be given back to you.” I do not know how it works – cosmic law, karmic cycle, faith principle, all of the above – it just does. I like to give to the most random of people, in the most random of situations – cabbies, street urchins, the person who looks like they could use a little help in line next to me at the grocery store checkout, etcetera. Of course, I do live in a developing nation, so opportunities for random giving abound. Giving does not necessarily mean money, either. You can give of your time and talent, as a volunteer in a hospice, children’s hospital, home for the elderly, school center. I also like giving in kind; like ice cream, treats, food items, a bundle of clothes to the street urchins I see. Be creative with your giving, and it will come back to you in the most creative of ways. Remember that hands that are open to give are also open to receive. Make your money work for you. I must admit that I am still figuring this one out. Winging it a bit, with some tutelage from my dad. Once you have saved some money, look into ways to put your money to work – stocks and bonds, investments, maybe a small business. You might need to ask for some advice from someone with more experience in these financial fields, but this may prove well-worth the time and effort.

Photo courtesy of Tax Credits

Cheers, to a financially rewarding 2017, for us all!



G RU B H U B Newspaper

The Philippines’ forum for international readers since 1981

Murray Hertz Founding Publisher (1928-2014) Butch C. Bonsol President & Managing Director Timothy Jay Araneta Ibay Editor-in-Chief Suzette Defensor Consultant Richard A. Ramos (Cebu) Via Baroma Staff Writers Angie Duarte Ching Dee Writers-at-Large Leah Egamino-Palaña Advertising Coordinator Jennifer Codera Billing, Credit and Collection Supervisor Nikki Joy Habana Macjanry Imperio Design & Layout Our Headquarters: Unit 305 Cristina Condominium, 143 Legaspi cor. V.A. Rufino Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City Our telephone numbers: (+632) 840-2996 or (+632) 812-0987; Fax (+632) 840-2988 You can also reach us at: and for sales and advertising: Cebu Mailing Address: MJ. Cuenco Avenue cor. C. Mina St., Mabolo, Cebu City Telefax: (032) 412-8000 Statements, views and opinions expressed by the writers, contributors, and advertisers are their own and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or the management. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material.


Flour Power: New world baking comes to Manila By VIA BAROMA


uthentic artisan handcrafted bakery products, delectable sourdough pizzas and a unique “new world” baking style—these are what The Bistro Group and Kiwi baker, celebrity foodpreneur, TV presenter, and author Dean Brettschneider promise to deliver with their introduction of two new food concepts – Baker & Cook, and Plank Sourdough Pizza. Baker & Cook is best known for its artisanal bread, tarts and Bambolinis (custard-filled doughnuts). In 2012, it started out as a small neighborhood cafe in Singapore and has been a hit since day one. Meanwhile, Plank Sourdough Pizza, a spin-off of the artisan bakery, serves pizza using Baker & Cook’s signature sourdough as the crust. These two share the same spot at S Maison, with spacious interiors that allow customers to move and cross-order from one restaurant to another. With his new ideas and non-traditional approach to the kitchen, Brettschneider’s new world baking style is the highlight for both food establishments, where he shares his travel experiences and brings in a little bit of America, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Germany, France (and a host of other places he has been to) to every item— sprinkling his mantra of adding his own twists to the basics. Live, love loaf Baker & Cook offers all-day breakfast starting at 7 a.m. At any time of the day until 10 p.m., should you have a craving for roasted coffee, paired with delicious cake and pastry; salmon quiche with hot pie; or Bambolinis and salads, you now know where to go. The first thing you’ll see when you step into the store are the products because according to Brettschneider, they are the heart and hero of the bakery. The place offers an array of bread such as bagels, cannel and croissants from all over the world, like Germany, France and Italy. Their croissants give you a taste of "good

Dean Brettschneider aka The Global Baker

quality New Zealand butter," with its thick crust and soft insides. Their sourdough is love at first bite, with the fermentation of the dough making it tastier and softer with its spongy texture, and leaving your taste buds with a sweet-sour sensation. Baker & Cook’s cakes also get top marks with its elegantly presented carrot cake and New Zealand specialty chocolate lamington taking center stage. The carrot cake is loaded with walnuts with a light frosting of cream cheese for a salty bit of contrast, and topped with pumpkin seeds and dried fruit. Meanwhile, the lamington is a soft pillowy sponge covered with a thick layer of chocolate and rolled in coconut.

Plank Sourdough Pizza “I’m part baker and part businessman, so I was looking for something that will complement Baker & Cook. And since pizza is basically bread with toppings on it, I put up Plank,” Brettschneider succinctly explains of his bakery’s succulent sidekick. Plank uses their signature sourdough bread handcrafted from a combination of flours fermented up to 48 hours with natural wild yeast called “levain,” salt, water and extra virgin olive oil. This unique approach (kneaded by hand, no use of rolling pins) results in pizzas with super pillowy soft crust with the perfect touch of crispiness. Plank has a basic menu of seven handcrafted pizzas (created with 100 percent sourdough), salads, starters, dessert and some Filipino favorites. Some must-try’s include the Pizza 3 (wild mushrooms, shrimp, salmon, capers and rockets loaded with special cheesy sauce and more cream cheese on top), BBQ chicken with cranberries, smoked salmon and truffle mushroom pizzas. Baker & Cook is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., while Plank Sourdough Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Both are located at the G/F S Maison Conrad.

The perfect combination of quiche and salad at Baker & Cook

Fall in love with Kitsho's Valentine spread


fter the festive New Year’s celebrations, lovelorn couples always look forward to the month of love, and all the promise it brings. And nothing quite puts a stamp on the month of February than a romantic and sumptuous Valentine’s dinner date. Since couples would spend much of their romantic moments sharing victuals, it is only befitting that they dine on succulent and savory soul-food. And Kitsho's executive chef Mizumoto "Hiro" Masahiro has whipped up a delectable buffet spread that would delight both heart and soul. The love-spun gustatory journey begins with savory Gyu Tataki or Mozukusu to whey the appetite with Puri-Puri or Garden Salad. Feelings will soar higher with sashimi (tuna, salmon, and white fish) as well as sushi choices (tuna, salmon, white fish, and tamago) with helpings of California Maki, Spicy Tuna Roll, or Soft-shell Crab Roll. Passions will be set aflame with Beef Tenderloin, Salmon, or Shrimp Teppan with sumptuous Sukiyaki at the soup station. Everyone's favorite Ebi Tempura will be part of the meal, as well as steamed and Japanese fried rice.

And for sweet endings, diners can choose from assorted fresh fruits and/or homemade ice cream concoctions. The not-to-miss Valentine dinner for two is priced at PhP2,140 or PhP1,070 for lone celebrants. Kitsho is conveniently located at the ground floor of Hotel Jen Manila, right across the scenic CCP complex, on the sunset strip along Roxas Boulevard. For reservations and inquiries, call telephone numbers (02) 795-8888 local 2312 and (02) 994-3623.


Executive Japanese Chef Masahiro Mizumoto1



qual parts dream executive living space and ideal staycation destination is what The Ascott Limited has achieved with its sixth property development in the Philippines—Somerset Alabang Manila. The property is Ascott’s first foray into the southern part of Metro Manila and stands as the first international serviced residence in the south. As is the mark of the company, Somerset Alabang is set in a prime location—within the integrated business and commercial district development of Filinvest City in Alabang, with lifestyle hubs, dining options and wellness parks all encompassed in its periphery. Inside, generous, elegant spaces are fitted with contemporary interiors that are easy on the eyes and equipped with all the modern conveniences of home. Stepping foot in any of its 150 apartment units, Somerset Alabang truly blankets you with the feeling of being home, as opposed to merely having the pleasure of staying in a topshelf spread. The low down Somerset Alabang offers a selection of prime apartment choices—studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom serviced residences. As fore mentioned, Ascott did not skimp on space in any of them. Studios go up to 27 square meters; Studio Premier units are 43 sqm; 1-Bedroom Deluxe apartments are up to 65 sqm; the biggest 2-Bedroom Deluxe’s



SOMERSET ALABANG ELEVATING SOUTHERN LIVING …And making you re-think that southern metro hotel booking By TIMOTHY JAY IBAY Photos courtesy of Somerset Alabang

are 95 sqm; while 3-Bedroom Deluxe units are up to 128 sqm. Apart from residential spaces, Somerset Alabang also has 11 serviced offices for lease that are ready for operation from day one; two function rooms (collapsible into two and three smaller function or meeting rooms, respectively, which can be booked for corporate and social events; and two boardrooms.

The clincher Price-wise, Somerset Alabang falls in the middle of Airbnb and hotel accommodations with Studio daily rates starting at just PhP5,082 nett (for the month of February). But on practically all other fronts—service, amenities and luxury, Somerset Alabang exponentially ups the ante. All units go well beyond the conveniences of home with well-equipped kitchens,


separate working and living areas, home entertainment systems, stylish bathrooms and broadband internet connection. And, to allow you to take in the charming quiet and spacious feel of the southern metro, Somerset Alabang apartments have balconies that showcase the cityscape and its soothing pockets of green. But should you choose to stay indoors, there’s an inviting lap pool, a fully-equipped fitness center, a premier restaurant, and the Cubbies Room—the company’s trademark play area for children. And for good measure, Somerset Alabang also affords its guests what they call the Ascott Host—a service that provides expats and international travelers the heads up on everything they would need to know even before getting to the country. When they check-in to their apartments, the host gives tours of different places guests would need, like the nearest banks, convenience stores, embassies, and all else that would help afford acclimating with utmost comfort and ease. So if you’re an expat working in the southern part of the metro, the choice of your living space has been made for you. Somerset is located at 3409 Spectrum Midway Filinvest City Alabang , Muntinlupa City. For inquiries and bookings, send an email to or contact (632) 550 3200.









t seems to be a patch of land in the middle of nowhere, with the vast expanse of international waters at all fronts. But its sense of isolation is the main come-on of Mabul—an island off the southeastern coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah.  Getting there is a grueling air-land-sea trip to Sabah’s capital city of Kota Kinabalu, a 45-minute connecting flight to Tawau, a 90-minute land transfer to Semporna town, and a 30-minute speedboat ride. The total travel time from Manila can take more than 12 hours, including an overnight layover in KK. But once you’ve set foot in Mabul, you’ll realize that this proverbial tropical paradise is worth the long trip—where things appear to stand still and time seems to stop. Grand getaway A good portion of the island is occupied by Sipadan Mabul Resort in Mabul Island (SMART), composed of native-themed accommodations and the luxurious Water Bungalows which stand on stilts jutting out of the crystaline Celebes Sea like a floating village. This grand getaway takes pride in its merry mix of Oriental architectural influences— Malay, Thai and the indigenous Bajau tribe— which welcomes the weary traveler. The resort complex of bungalows, restaurants, spa, souvenir shops, and dive centers, is connected by a network of wooden boardwalks with scenic pagoda-like gazebos. Here, you can gaze at the vast expanse of the ocean which is actually just a few hours away from the Philippines’ southern frontier. A PADI 5-Star Gold Palm Dive Resort, SMART offers a wide range of dive courses ranging from basic to technical, or introductory dives. Guests travel half the world away for the area’s vaunted marine world and scuba is an obligatory thing to do.


Exotic submergence Located within the world’s so-called Coral Triangle, the center to three-quarters of the world’s marine biodiversity, Mabul is fringed by sandy beaches and perched on the north-





1) Diving 101 at Mabul Island 2) A school of Bumphead Parrotfish (Photo courtesy of SMART)

3) The writer kayaking at Sipadan Mabul Resort 4) Mabul artificial reef 5) Miss Scuba Int'l coastal cleanup at Sipadan Mabul Resort (Photo courtesy of SMART)

6) Snorkeling at SMART's House Reef 7) Sunset at Mabul Island


4 west corner of a larger 200-hectare reef. This oval-shaped 20-hectare island started as an obscure fishing village in the 1970s and has gained its recognition as a site for muck-diving or those a with limited visibility dives at shallow sites with sandy bottoms. It is among richest destinations for exotic small marine life, such as cuttlefish, blueringed octopus, spike-fin gobies, frogfish and moray. Cuttlefishes, blue-ringed and mimic octopi, and bobtail squids are some of the cephalopods found here. Mabul’s artificial house reef is the biggest of its kind in the world put nurtured over the past two decades by resort owner, golf impresario, and Sabah civic leader Robert Lo. A maze of wooden frames, crates, rockpiles and motor vehicles, it has spawned marine life and have made it a vibrant underwater thoroughfare once more. Guests are often invited to dive here to appreciate the aquatic life and pick up non-biodegradable trash that they would spot. Just a hop away from Mabul is the tell-tale Sipadan Island Park, which was brought to the world’s attention a few decades ago by the legendary pioneer diver Jacques Cousteau. Malaysia’s only oceanic island rising 600 meters from the ocean floor, it is habitat to more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of corals which were formed over thousands of years by corals growing atop an extinct volcano. This amazing underwater world was the country’s entry for the New 7 Wonders of Nature, only to be edged out in the popular online voting which screened the finalists. The marine park boasts about a dozen dive sites which is home to numerous aquatic wildlife such as sea turtles, hawksbill turtles, and assortment of fishes and coral gardens only found in this part of the world. Sipadan’s resident attractions are the

5 schools of big-eye trevallies and barracudas, which swirl like a spectacular whirlpool near the surface. Enormous bumphead parrotfish also flock through the shallows creating a visual spectacle. Full-grown white-tip reef sharks pass by divers nonchalantly, helping you conquer your fear of these sea creatures. Above water, you can try spotting tropical birds such as kingfishers, sea-eagles, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons or laze at the powdery white sand beach with under the shade of the trees. Beyond diving The star-rated resort also takes pride in being the birthplace of the six-year old Miss Scuba International, a unique pageant where the advocates of the world’s marine ecosystem are chosen from a bevy of beauties who have undergone at least the basic certification course. As its way of paying it forward, SMART has been molding a new breed of global charmers who would roll up their sleeves and take part in coastal and underwater cleanups, coral propagation, and preservation of sea turtles through efficient egg hatching, which are regular activities within the resort. When not diving, you can kayak or snorkel in the tranquil sea and admire the gin-clear water and the underwater kingdom below. You can also wander to the other parts of the island to get a glimpse of a typical Bajau kampung (village) where there are occasional weavers of exquisite decorative mats from the Wapo tribe of Semporna. With the natural wonders offered by the Mabul-Sipadan-Kapalai triumvirate, this area has become one of earth’s most sought-after dive safaris. This is Mabul—a magical, magnificent and majestic marine world.







Okada Manila: the Metro’s next big thing By ANGIE DUARTE


anila, are you ready for the “more than gaming” experience? Welcome Okada Manila, beauteous brainchild of resort and gaming visionary, Kazuo Okada, chairman of Japanese gaming group Universal Entertainment. Owned and operated by Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc., Okada Manila, once fully operational, is set to be one of the Metro’s iconic must-visit places. Strategically located along the foreshore of Manila Bay, the property measures a whopping 440,000 square meters (44 hectares), and will comprise a stunning showcase of all the best that the leisure lifestyle and gaming sectors have to offer – and more. The impressive facility will highlight the marriage of opulent architecture and modern convenience, whilst promoting both Japanese and Filipino hospitality. The Japanese brand of Omotenashi and Magokoro hospitality, marked by a respectful spirit, and zeal for efficient and creative innovativeness, combined with the congeniality and cheerful fervor of the Filipino service ethic will be at the crux of Okada Manila’s service philosophy. Among its gems is The Fountain, a 37,464-square meter dancing water display and light show, set to the artistry of original Filipino music. This centrally located orna-

Okada Manila Deputy CFO Laurence Hawke and Okada Manila President Steve Wolstenholme

mental structure is expected to become the single most recognizable feature of Okada Manila, and is likewise projected to be a big crowd-drawer. At a cost of US$30 million, The Fountain will be a one-of-a-kind venue for special events and concerts, as well as a unique, awe-inspiring gathering place for family and friends. The resort recently revealed its partnerships for this extravagant undertaking with WET (the LA-based world-famous designer and maker of the grandest fountains in the most prestigious resorts and hotels across 20 countries in five continents) and with the much lauded Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM). These partnerships were formalized by Okada Manila COO Takahiro Usui, Okada Manila President Steve Wolstenholme, WET Director of Design Technology Jim Doyle, and OPM executives including Gary Valenciano, Noel Cabangon, Christian Bautista, and Dingdong Avanzado. The Fountain, Doyle says, is “poised to speak to the Filipino people,” through the music, as well as the inspirations of the design, which is WET’s first project to be done “using a lot of color.” Okada Manila began its preview phase on Dec. 21, and is scheduled to have its Grand Opening later in the first quarter of 2017.

Host Issa Litton

(Top) Okada Manila Creative Director for Entertainment Guilio Scatola, OPM Vice President for External Affairs Gary Valenciano, and OPM Vice President for Special Projects Christian Bautista

Okada Manila Creative Director for Entertainment Guilio Scatola, Okada Okada Manila Board of Director Antonio Cojuangco and Okada Manila Manila Director for Public Relations Shariza Relova and WET Director of President Steve Wolstenholme Technical Resources Jim Doyle

OPM Artists’ Group Vice President for Internal Affairs Noel Cabangon, Vice President for External Affairs Angeli and Gary Valenciano Gary Valenciano and Corporate Secretary Dingdong Avanzado

Okada Manila Executive Director for Property Marketing Bryan Bass, Okada Manila President Steve Wolstenholme, OPM Vice Local artist Noel Cabangon serenades the crowd President for External Affairs Gary Valenciano, OPM Corporate Secretary Dingdong Avanzado, and Vice President for Special Projects Christian Bautista

To give a glimpse of the world class and unique entertainment of Okada Manila, guests were welcomed with a stilt walker followed by a teaser of the World of Wonders act directed by Guilio Scatola





Luxury at its finest Proving that they are still the leader in the luxury car arena, Lexus recently launched the latest iteration of their signature Lexus IS at the company’s showroom in Bonifacio Global City. The brand took on a daringly sporty styling direction, which wowed the guests at the event. Another major upgrade for the Lexus IS is its aggressive engine, backing up the look of the wildly popular luxury sedan. “Lexus is known for its quiet elegance, for the superb driving experience, for its luxury in calm and humble ways. Lexus is luxury at its finest,” Lexus Manila president Danny Isla said in his speech. “Lexus is more than the beautiful metal and fine interiors. It is more than a luxury vehicle. It is an amazing overall experience between man and machine.” When it comes to refinement, perfection and luxury, Lexus is truly a league of its own.

Sylvain and Cherry Mignon

Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation’s SVP for Marketing Division and Lexus brand champion Jose Arial Arias, SEVP and treasurer Dr. David Go, president Satoru Suzuki, Lexus Manila’s president Danny Isla, EVP Yuichiro Suzuki, and operations executive officer Raymond Rodriguez

Your columnist (third from left) with the Lexus Manila team (from left) Beatrice Villegas, Frances Concepcion, Megan Soriaga, Darius Laygo, Ravi Uttamchandani, Walter Uy, and Lexus Manila sales and marketing director Spencer Yu and Ariel Arias

Mandy Eduque Sr., Ailene Litonjua, and Danny Isla

Butch Gamboa and Satoru Suzuki

Dr. David Go, Vivian and Bernardino Caramba with Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation first VP lawyer Rommel Gutierrez

The Cadiz family (seated) Eliseo and Patty (standing) Michael and Edward

Jojo Gamboa and Lexus Manila sales manager Gabriel Sobrepeña

Christopher Go, Francis Ramos, and Albert Goquingco


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•Echo / Gregory Halili Ongoing until Feb. 4; Silverlens, Lapanday Center, 2263 Don Chino Roces Ave. Ext., Makati; for inquiries, contact (0917) 5874011 or email A life-sized skeleton created entirely from uncut, found corals atop a massive, raw driftwood; skull profiles and open hands meticulously painted and fashioned on giant clams and mother of pearl shells— the new works of artist Gregory Halili titled Echo, curiously veered away from the artistic tradition that typifies his oeuvre. Instead of painting delicate and wistful portraits and sacrosanct imagery, Halili has taken on a more sculptural approach and shifted to using large materials. Composed of 15 works, Echo is a continuation of the artist's exploration of natural materials and one's symbiotic connection with nature. It presents the residual and lingering affection of man's doings to nature, the physical manifestation of the state of our environment, and, particularly, the life and death cycle that man and the elements go through. Many of us are blind to these realities, only mourning loss and death when we are faced with it head on. Halili then confronts his audience with this supposed macabre subject, but he does it so beautifully that his pieces, more than just being artistic expressions of mortality, alternately become vessels of memories and vestiges of truths. There are infinite shapes that death can take, and the impressions they make upon us are just as varied. In Echo, Halili illuminates this fragility and fleetingness as a way to question one's impact to the world and in the best way he knows how—with all sincerity and from the heart.

•Flavors that Sail Across the Seas Ongoing until Feb. 5; Old Senate Session Hall, National Museum of the Philippines, Padre Burgos Ave., Ermita, Manila; for more information, call (02) 817-9997 ext. 112 or visit Local gourmands will be treated to a gustatory exploration when the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, the Instituto Cervantes de Manila and the National Museum launch the exhibit Flavors that Sail Across the Seas, which illustrates the impact of the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines on worldwide radical change in food consumption and eating habits as a result of ever-increasing growth in the exchange between Asia, the Americas and Europe brought about by the Galleon Trade. On display are quality reproductions of facsimiles which are primary sources chosen from the huge and exceptional documentary heritage kept at the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, which includes an extensive collection of first-hand accounts of the arrival of the Spaniards to the Philippines, the evolution of sailing and the exchange of goods. Spanish chef Chele González and his team at his restaurant Gallery Vask in Manila participate by analyzing, describing and preparing traditional Spanish and Philippine-Spanish recipes, a point of departure that seeks to encourage culinary innovation and contribute new original recipes.

•Yasmin Almonte: Hardin Filipino Utopia Ongoing until Feb. 8; Sining Kamalig, Upper Ground Flr., Ali Mall, Araneta Center, Quezon City; for more information, call (02) 912-3771 or email To celebrate her 60th birthday, Yasmin Almonte painted 60 different flowers in three months and three weeks. Each flower is a variation of a portrait of survival, perseverance. In her exhibition Hardin, Almonte asks audiences to witness a contrasting kind of blossoming, away from the staid prettiness and into the very motions of life. “I want my works to be a celebration,” says Almonte. “That is the operative word in this exhibition: “Ebullience” – a determined energy for cheerfulness but without the sugary and shrill vacuousness. Hardin is also a garden for her gratitude. Having been told in 2010 that she had only months to live due to cancer, Almonte channeled her determination, her energy to healing. It has been more than six years and Almonte is still standing, albeit a little weathered but not diminished. A diarist on canvas is what Almonte is. These paintings are titled by the dates in which they are accomplished. She is adamant that even cancer, the very threat to her own life, is not the worse problem she has had to go through.

•Representations Ongoing until Feb. 10; 1335Mabini, 1335 A. Mabini St., Ermita, Manila; for more information, call (02) 254-8498, (0917) 704-2962 or email 1335MABINI proudly presents Rinne Abrugena, Jonathan Olazo, and Ryan Rubio in an exhibition of paintings titled Representations. Olazo is a painter who works in expressionistic, gestural and elemental abstraction. He has widely exhibited at local galleries and museums, including the Cultural Center of the Philippines, UP Vargas Museum, and Lopez Museum. He was a CCP Thirteen Artists Awardee in 1994 and has won awards from the Philippine Association of Printmakers and the Art Association of the Philippines. Olazo is also a curator and served as gallery director for National Commission for Culture and the Arts in 2009. He has been an instructor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Fine Arts since 2008. Rubio is a painter and sculptor known for his works carved and assembled from natural materials, referencing man-related forms. He has been exhibiting in local galleries since 2004, among them Boston Gallery and Avellana Art Gallery. He has won numerous awards in national art competitions since 2002. In 2007, he was a grantee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Sinugdan Program. Abrugena is a painter whose image-based works present literary ideas and inquiries on human nature. She graduated with honors from the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Fine Arts and taught at local colleges from 2011 to 2014 before working as a gallerist and writer.

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Of Dogs and False Dichotomies By ANGIE DUARTE

Much as this infuriates me, and much as I would like to pretend this never happened, and much as I would rather not talk about it (because I prefer to focus on things that don’t make me want to punch something), I find myself compelled to tackle this matter, yet again. Too many times, too many of us suffer from a serious case of “Lookaway Syndrome” – this disease is a social one, and its main symptom is the uncontrollable tendency to look away from a situation that makes us uncomfortable. It is also marked by the sudden, inexplicable inability to speak up and make a stand about pressing matters. There is only one cure for the Lookaways, really; and that would be to kick yourself in the rear and give a damn. So, this is me, giving a damn. Hang in there! A doggone disaster You would have to have been living under a rock since pre-Christmas 2016 to be unaware of the horrific intentional slaughter of a dog, in the name of Philippine independent film. This is the excuse the director and producer tried to make, of course. But really, those of us who did not just fall off of yesterday’s turnip truck know better. This inhumane, monstrous act was committed in the name of fame, and the (not-so) Almighty Peso. Then, to make matters worse, when questioned, said director and producer

blatantly lied about having slaughtered the poor, helpless, clueless animal. It was a quite literally, a doggone disaster. Animal rights activists have been up in arms about the matter since it was first discovered; the film was eventually pulled out of cinemas; and one of the awards it was bestowed was subsequently stripped. While these are commendable efforts, I believe that they aren’t enough, by any measure. But, this column is not exactly about the come-uppance I believe the culprits should receive. I digress, as I lay this foundation, and I seethe, all over again. A false dilemma What I do wish to discuss and expound on is what ensued, after the fact. The irrational reasoning (oxymoron most definitely indented) of many people went something in this vein: “It is sad that the movie has become about the death of one dog, when what really matters is the death of four miners.“ Note that the miners were killed long before the movie was made – the dog was used as a prop, and beaten to death for the sake of “authenticity.” Yet, flawed and utterly idiotic as this reasoning is, some folk began second-guessing themselves: gasp! Do I really care more about a dog than the miners who were murdered??? HOLD IT RIGHT THERE. Can we not care about both??? Do we not have enough brain cells left in us to know that

BOTH are wrong??? While I am sure that a portion of my gray matter has been sacrificed at the altar of Bacchus and at the feet of age, I am also certain of a crock of crap, when I see, hear and smell it. The reasoning that is being shoved down your throat is a falsehood! It is known as a false dilemma, or a false dichotomy – and it is as big as lie as the one that the filmmakers made to try and cover up their bloodstained tracks. Way more than Fifty Shades A false dichotomy or false dilemma, also known as “black-and-white thinking” and the “either-or” fallacy,” will try to convince you that there is only one possible choice or alternative in a given situation. Usually, you are made to pick between two extremes in a situation in which limited alternatives are presented – most often, intentionally so, although sometimes, accidentally so. All other options, scenarios, shades of grey, are omitted in an attempt to manipulate you towards one side or the other. Can you smell the stink, yet? A false dichotomy will pressure you into making a choice, usually one that will play on your guilt, instead of your sense of reason. “Human rights abuses make you angry? Well, then, you must be pro-drugs and criminality!” Does that sound familiar, by way of another shining example of a false dichotomy?

Smarter than that! False dichotomies are most often created by people who A) are small-minded and not smart enough to realize the complexities of most issues, or B) people who are ruthless and think that we are small-minded and unable to comprehend the complexities of most issues. Philosophers and scholars throughout history have studied the workings of a false dichotomy, and while there are many aspects to this, one thing that we must see is this: danger awaits those who buy into a falsehood created either accidentally or intentionally. These fallacies are generally meant to force our hand into making a decision, without carefully weighing all the options. BUT WE THAN THAT.



Down with false dichotomies. Life is hardly ever lived in black and white. Instead, it is an array of shades and hues; a spectrum of color which is as dazzling as it can be dizzying. Don’t let the dictates of the foolish or the powerhungry take your power of rational thinking and steal your gift of choice. Sometimes, there is crimson blood, behind the glaring gold – and we need to make sure we don’t look away or aren’t blinded by the sheen of the latter, that we can no longer see the reality (no matter how harsh) of the former.





Compiled by VIA BAROMA




•Goo Goo Dolls Live in Manila

Feb. 2; The Theatre, Solaire Resort & Casino, 1 Aseana Avenue, Entertainment City, Paranaque; tickets are available at and all TicketWorld outlets; for ticket inquiries, call (02) 891-9999

Feb. 11; Smart Araneta Coliseum; tickets are available at all TicketNet outlets nationwide; for ticket inquiries, call (02) 911-5555 or visit www.

The Broadway and West End musical phenomenon, acclaimed as “one of the greatest musicals of our time” is set to cast its magical spell over Manila audiences when it returns this February. The incredible original production, which is coming direct from a multi record-breaking tour in the UK and Ireland, flies into The Theatre at Solaire for a special limited engagement as part of a major international tour. WICKED is guaranteed to leave audiences, both young and old, captivated with a story that tugs at the heartstrings, accompanied by a phenomenal musical score that features hit songs “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and ‘For Good’ amongst a host of memorable numbers. Tickets are priced at PhP7,000 for Emerald; PhP5,800 for Reserve A; PhP4,500 for Reserve B; PhP3,350 for Reserve C; PhP1,750 for Reserve D.

•Noli Me Tangere, The Opera Ongoing until Feb. 3; Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; for more information, contact J&S Productions Inc. at (0926) 038 0548, the CCP Box Office at (02) 8323704/06, or visit The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and J&S Productions Inc., in cooperation with Ayala Foundation, are honored to present the 60th anniversary production of Philippine National Artists Felipe de Leon and Guillermo Tolentino's “Noli Me Tangere, The Opera,” a show based on Philippine national hero Jose Rizal's classic novel of the same name. The 60th anniversary production of “Noli Me Tangere, The Opera,” which features a brand new staging, new sets and costumes, and directed by New York Citybased event designer Jerry Sibal, plays a limited six-performance run at the CCP's Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. This production, which earlier had critically-acclaimed engagements in N.Y., Washington D.C., and at Resorts World Manila, will feature more than 200 opera singers, musicians, and crew, as well as 16 scene changes Tickets are priced at PhP3,500 for Price Zone 1; PhP2,500 for Price Zone 2; PhP2,000 for Price Zone 3; PhP1,500 for Price Zone 4; PhP1,200 for Prize Zone 5; and PhP1,000 for Price Zone 6.

•Sumi Jo: The Divine Diva

Nineties alternative rock outfit Goo Goo Dolls is headed to Manila for the very first time this February, promising to treat fans to a night of their anthemic hits. Founding members of the Buffallo, New Yorkbased band John Rzeznik (guitars and vocals) and Robby Takac (bass) bring their distinct sound to the Smart Araneta Coliseum with hits like “Name,” Slide,” “Naked,” “All That You Are,” and the smash alternative ballad “Iris.” The Manila leg of their tour is part of their promotion of the band’s 11th studio effort “Boxes,” featuring the single “So Alive.” Tickets are priced at PhP7,000 for VIP; PhP6,000 for Patron; PhP5,000 for Lower Box; PhP3,000 for Upper Box; and PhP1,200 for General Admission.

•Prom Night with David Pomeranz Feb. 14; The Manila Hotel, 1 Rizal Park, Manila; for more information, call (0916) 639-2291; tickets are available at and all TicketNet outlets Pinoys just can’t seem to get enough of David Pomeranz, and vice versa. The American singer is back at it again, this time serenading fans on Valentine’s Day. Celebrate an evening of love and music at The Manila Hotel with his greatest hits that include, “Got to Believe in Magic,” “King and Queen of Hearts,” “If You Walked Away,” “The Old Songs,” “Undying Admiration,” “Born For You,” to name a few. Tickets are priced at PhP5,500 for Premier (inclusive of dinner buffet); PhP4,500 for Deluxe (inclusive of dinner buffet); PhP2,500 for Patron A (show only); PhP2,000 for Patron B (show only); and PhP1,500 for General Admission (show only).

•Lea Salonga: Songs from the Stage

Feb. 7; Meralco Theater, Ortigas cor. Meralco Aves. Ortigas Center, Pasig City; for more information, call TicketWorld at (02) 891-9999 or the Cultural Arts Events Organizers at (02) 782-7164, (0918) 347-3027 or (0920) 954-0053

Feb. 17 and 18; PICC Plenary Hall, Vicente Sotto St., CCP Complex, Pasay City; Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets nationwide; for ticket inquiries, call (02) 8919999

One of the world’s most adored sopranos, Sumi Jo, is returning to Manila in time to pay tribute to legendary diva Maria Callas. The name of Callas is synonymous with bel canto, the repertoire of which is marked by brilliance and beautiful singing. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Young Artists Development Program and aid in continuing to help and hone the artistry of young talented Filipinos through performance opportunities, workshops, master classes and scholarships. Jo is the highest-selling classical singer in the world, with more than 50 recordings to her credit, including the Grammy Award winning recordings of Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten with Georg Solti for Decca London and Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera for Deutsche Grammophon under Herbert von Karajan. She performed at the Sochi Winter Olympics and for the Pope in Korea, and appeared (as herself) in Paolo Sorrentino’s film Youth, starring Michael Caine; her performance of the film’s signature song, David Lang’s "Simple Song #3," earned her Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Tickets are priced at PhP5,150 for VIP; PhP3,090 for Orchestra (Center/ Right) and Loge Right; PhP2,575 for Orchestra Left; PhP2,060 for Loge Right Extreme and Balcony Center; and PhP1,030 for Balcony Right.

Philippine theater icon Lea Salonga is set to treat fans with a magical repertoire of musical theater numbers as the Broadway and West End veteran returns to the concert scene with Songs from the Stage. Expect a slew of classics from Salonga’s expansive stage career, including hits from Annie (a role she portrayed when she was just nine years old) and Miss Saigon (where she played the role of Kim), which earned her various international awards that included the prestigious Tony. Songs from the Stage is directed by Bobby Garcia with musical direction by Gerard Salonga, and features the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. Tickets are priced at PhP8,360 for Price Zone 1; PhP7,315 for Price Zone 2; PhP5,225 for Price Zone 3; PhP4,180 for Price Zone 4; PhP3,135 for Price Zone 5; and PhP1,045 or Price Zone 6.





Gong Xi Fa Cai A glimpse into the Chinese New Year traditions in the Philippines By VIA BAROMA

By the time you’re reading this, the festivities at Manila’s preeminent Chinatown in Binondo (considered the world’s oldest Chinatown), with the spectacle of parades trotting to the sounds of thundering drumbeats and spectacular firework displays have drawn to a close, officially ringing in the Year of the Rooster. While the celebrations in the Philippines aren’t as grandiose as those in Mainland China (which last for about two weeks), most Filipinos also celebrate the turn of the lunisolar calendar, subscribing to the belief that doing so will bring them good luck, fortune and a better year ahead. The celebration of the Chinese New Year (CNY) in the Philippines can be likened to a festivity of cultural amalgamation between the Chinese and Filipinos. Pre-dating the Spanish occupation, China has had a deeply rooted cultural legacy in the country, with ancient customs blended with the local culture. ICYMI, here are some of the traditions that have found their way to the

local cultural fiber: Red! As you may have noticed this past weekend, this color is predominant in the CNY revelry. People generally dress up in red for the occasion, while children receive “lucky money” inside bright red envelopes called “ang pao,” which are also believed to keep evil spirits away from children and ensure them a peaceful new year. Traditionally, the money placed inside should be an even amount, as odd-numbered values are traditionally reserved for funerals. Another predominant CNY tradition is the festive parades marked by dancing lions and dragons (or at least dancing people dressed as ones), said to attract prosperity, health and wisdom. For those who choose to be all-in with CNY, it is during this time where people thoroughly clean their homes, supposedly to ward off evil spirits. This practice is also equated to getting rid of the old and welcoming in the new. Lucky charms are also bought and displayed in homes and business establishments in order to usher in abundance and good energy. Sweets also take its place in the cel-

ebrations, as candies are traditionally being thrown on the streets to attract prosperity. Culinary symbolisms Tikoy A prominent feature of the CNY festivities in the Philippines is the sticky sweet treat known as tikoy (CNY cake). It is said to be derived from the nian gao of southern China that Fukienese immigrants brought to the Philippines. Made up of sticky or glutinous rice, lard, sugar, water, tikoy symbolizes the unity and harmony among friends and family. Noodles Pancit or stir-fried noodles is another popular dish during this period (even more so than it already is). Noodles are believd to symbolize long life. Dumplings are also commonly served because it is believed that luck is symbolically wrapped inside. Hopia Anything round is considered a symbol of good fortune, and hopia—a pastry usually filled with a

sweet paste of mug bean is among the popular food representations of this; a humbler version of the moon cakes served during the mid-Autumn festival. Round fruits such as oranges and pomegranates are also believed to symbolize coins and bring a prosperous New Year. Mandarin oranges and tangerines are the most popular fruit in China on New Year’s because of their golden color and are believed to represent wealth and good luck. Fish According to the Chinese, another way to invite wealth and happiwness for the coming year is by serving a whole fish. The Chinese believe that eating the whole fish with the head and tail intact symbolizes a year’s beginning all the way to its end. The Chinese word for fish also sounds similar to the word for abundance. Prawns In Cantonese, the pronunciation of the word prawn is similar to the sound of laughter representing a happy life filled with laughter.

Tower 1

Architect’s Perspective


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Expat Newspaper Volume 35 No. 5 January 29, 2017 - February 11, 2017


Expat Newspaper Volume 35 No. 5 January 29, 2017 - February 11, 2017