SHATTERED MEMORIES OF HAPPIER DAYS

Lifestyle

SHATTERED MEMORIES OF HAPPIER DAYS

3 Comments 31 January 2010

By Lito Banayo

When I was four or five, we would motor from San Pablo in Laguna to Manila, take a lunch of comida China at a panciteria in Escolta (pictured here in the 1950s) or Sta. Cruz. Sometimes my lola would go visit her lawyer in his Escolta office, and then give me a treat at Botica Boie’s soda fountain, where huge sundaes and parfaits were once upon a happy time now mere memories. READ FULL STORY.

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AUTOMATED POLLS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN

Current Affairs

AUTOMATED POLLS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN

No Comments 29 January 2010

By Aries Rufo

The automated 2010 national elections is a potential disaster waiting to happen, with all the explosive ingredients in it, a political risk consultancy group said. Echoing the fears of critics, the Asia-based Pacific Strategies and Assessment (PSA) said “there are simply too many potential human, procedural and/or technical breakdowns that could lead to a major disruption or most drastically a complete failure of the May 2010 elections.” READ FULL STORY.

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A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

Lifestyle

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

1 Comment 28 January 2010

By Vicky Rose Pacheco

Sometime last year I got a small notebook where I started jotting down a few of my favorite things – from food and cooking ingredients to restaurants and stores.

Mama Sita Premium Vinegar – aged cane vinegar that is somewhat darker in color. I use it as a “sawsawan” for fried bangus, fired tuyo, inihaw na bangus, inihaw na baboy, lumpiang prito. If it’s a vinegar dipping sauce that I need, it’s definitely this one. My favorite part is drinking it after everything has been dipped into it!

Don Felipe Sukang Tuba (0917-899-5625) and Sukang Paombong (along the national highway in Bulacan) – these ones I use for cooking and marinating: paksiw na isda o pata , adobo, inihaw na baboy, etc. Recently, I made Hito sa Luyang Dilaw for Sentro using sukang paombong and native garlic, and I had it tested by the managers and the staff. Super sarap! It was so good that rice should have been spooned onto the platter and mixed with all the sauce and the garlic. In our lingo at home, my dad would have said, “Ilabay mo yung kanin sa sabaw!”

Balsamic Vinegar – my all-time favorite for salad dressing. When it comes to salad dressing, I really have a one-track mind. I will always prepare a balsamic vinaigrette over a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Bagac Cashew – unsalted roasted casuy from Bagac, Bataan. What I like about it is that it’s not itchy on the tongue and has a naturally sweetish taste. It is very addictive and I can munch on it forever any time of day. Mang Fraxi (0918-656-2048) is the one who brings it to Manila and sells it at the Sidcor market at Lung Center parking lot every Sunday and at the Salcedo Market in Makati every Saturday. He also sells tuyo and tinapang banak from Balanga, Bataan – the best …because they’re not that salty.

Pistacchio Sans Rival – by Jill Sandique (721-7022) It is ethereally airy, crisp, buttery and flavorful. It is so easy to consume three big slices even after a heavy meal – which is what I actually did. Ms. Sandique’s shop is off Bonny Serrano Ave., in San Juan, Metro Manila.

Orange Cake – by Bellini’s (913-2650), a quaint Italian restaurant at the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao, Quezon City. It is a buttery cake topped to overflowing with sugared orange peel swirls. No, don’t write off the orange flavor just yet! It’s a great flavor combination – a very wonderful surprise, definitely not run-of-the-mill and will be appreciated by gourmets and non-gourmets alike.

Sans Rival Cake – by Mallorca Pasteleria (18 Scout Fuentebella, Quezon City; 373-2789). There are sans rival and there are sans rival but this one reminds you why it was invented in the first place! I discovered it only recently when someone gave it to my dad as a gift. We couldn’t stop eating it! It was very crisp, very buttery, nutty and had the right balance of icing to meringue. I ate it for breakfast and again when I got home at 11:00 pm.

Bibingkang Pinipig – by San Vicente D’ Rice Specialist (Pelmoka St., Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija; 0917-574-5930). I am not usually fond of kakanin but I had to copy the entire label on the box of this one. Someone gifted it to my mom who is the kakanin-lover. It is so good! Not too sweet, not heavy, just the right stickiness and even if it’s green, you don’t feel the color.

Pancit Malabon – by Aling Idang (116 Katipunan Road, White Plains, Quezon City; 911-6756) My favorite Pancit Malabon for take out is just a phone call away. Their “pancit sa bilao” ranges from 2 to 30 persons at very reasonable prices. I like it because it’s consistent, the shrimp flavor is full and it’s not “pancit na pancit lang”. Aling Idang also serves a whole range of Filipino food that is clean “lutong bahay” and very good.

Parmiggiano Reggiano – my most favorite cheese in the world which I can eat non-stop but will not do so, due to cholesterol. Because I like this cheese so much, I had planned on going to Parma, Italy twelve years ago to eat at the source. However, I only got to Bologna and seeing the columns of Parmiggiano Reggiano made me giddy and excited such that I didn’t have to go to Parma at all!

Cocolicious OrganicVirgin Coconut Oil – by Organix Solutions, Inc. (www.cocobody.com) is proudly produced in Cotabato province. It is not greasy, has no after-taste, is odorless and is very smooth to the skin. It is great for massage and as a moisturizer but I also use it daily for oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient tradition of cleansing done by taking in about 2 tablespoons of oil in the mouth and swirling it inside for 15 minutes then spitting it out. Because it cleans the bacteria in the mouth, the entry point of most bacteria in the body, one of its benefits is helping clear the nostrils. I’ve always had allergic rhinitis and used to have headaches weekly such that I always wakeup with a clogged nose wherever I am. Now, my headaches are few and far between. It also cleans the bacteria in the mouth so it’s good for people with un-fresh breath.

Macao Chorizo – It is thick, reddish orange and the taste is meaty with a dash of sweet and it’s not from Macau. The skin caramelizes in certain parts as it cooks. I really don’t know how it got its name but it’s made in the Philippines by Dayrit’s. It is really one of my favorite sausages. I can eat it anytime, anywhere and I dip it in Mama Sita Premium Vinegar. It is best eaten with plain rice. Of course, I drink the suka after. Super sarap!

Tuyo from Balanga, Bataan – They always say that the tuyo from Balanga is the best because it’s not too salty… and it is true. In our house, every time we eat tuyo we ask where it comes from. We are quite particular with our tuyo and tinapa. Of course, when there is sinangag and fried egg, that’s the best! I discovered a man called Sergs (+63905-333-5383) in the Sidcor Sunday market whose only goods are tinapang bangus, tinapang tilapia, tinapang banak and tuyo from Balanga, Bataan. What a boon! Now we don’t have to search far and wide for someone to buy these for us in Balanga.

UniMart – This supermarket in Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan, Metro Manila is my favorite place to do groceries. I’ve been going there since I was in high school back in the ‘80’s and even if we are now living in Quezon City, I still go there for my personal groceries. Actually, my mom goes there every other day. I like the wide variety of brands and finds, the wide aisles, the homey feel and, most of all, it’s always cheaper in UniMart. I only go to Hypermart or Shopwise in cases of emergency. Whenever I need inspiration for a new menu, UniMart is one of the places I go to. Nothing beats UniMart. Is it childhood nostalgia or practicality? It’s both.

Santi’s Delicatessen – This is another place which inspires. It is so hard to go to Santi’s on a budget because everything I see I want to buy. Before, I used to go to Santi’s at Annapolis Street, Greenhills, San Juan. But then I moved to the one nearest our place which is the Santi’s in Temple Hills, behind Corinthian Gardens in Quezon City. I always have to stop myself from buying cheeses, Swiss cookies, freshly-baked blueberry muffins, pate of foie gras, whole grain mustard, that sturdy and thick chopping board, strainer, grater, Italian pasta, and many more gourmet items and knick knacks which could be expensive. Sometimes they even have roast rib eye and cold sandwiches to go. The trick when visiting Santi’s is to bring a list and be focused on that list.

Nora Daza Cookbook – For me, this is the quintessential Filipino cookbook. It is so reliable, it is a storehouse of very good and well-tested recipes, a definite must-have. I always refer to it when I want to go back to the basics. I think every Pinoy housewife and well-meaning kusinera should have one. Not only does it contain Filipino food but classic Spanish and French dishes which have been part of the Pinoy culture over the years like French onion soup, sans rival, callos, etc. We have a first edition hard-bound tattered copy in our kitchen drawer which we use up to this day. I think it’s more than forty years old. That’s how indispensable it is.

Patis and Bagoong of Aling Rosa – We are very particular about our patis and bagoong. We don’t like it when the patis smells and is malansa. The patis of Aling Rosa, who hails from Navotas, is pure and premium because it is “unang tulo”, meaning from the first extraction. That means too that there are no salt and water additives. It does not stink and does not have the fishy smell. The bagoong she has is the alamang type and it is one of her relatives who make it. It is not too salty, it is not malansa, it is not overly sweetish nor is it too red or too brown. This is the type of bagoong that can upgrade a not-so-good Kare-Kare.

Valrhona Chocolate – This French chocolate, which is hard to find in Manila, is my favorite chocolate – the darker, the better. I use it for the desserts in Chateau. I never quite liked Belgian chocolate- not enough character. Swiss and German chocolates lack oomph. I don’t look at the others anymore but, I can never resist a Cadbury Fruit & Nut and it’s not even dark – that’s the only exemption. Of late, however, I made astounding discoveries: Lucullus Dark Chocolate in Hong Kong (the store is of the same name and  is in Central, across Yung Kee Restaurant), Soma Chocolatier at Mill St. in Toronto, Canada (they specialize in truffles some of which contain balsamic vinegar, olive oil and one flavored with bergamot – awesome!), Joel Durand Chocolatier in Saint-Remy-de-Provence (melt-in-your mouth alphabet chocolate truffles), and Royce Chocolate from Japan which is now available in Manila in Greenbelt 5 and Rockwell. However, what stands in my memory as the best were the champagne chocolate truffles of Maison du Chocolat in Paris which are made with Valrhona chocolate. They were oh-so-smooth, no sour aftertaste, but solid, full-bodied and truly exquisite. Halata bang chocoholic?

Fresh Flowers – I am a sucker for fresh flowers. Every time I see fresh flowers, especially when traveling, I feel elated to see such beauty, such color, such freshness and such fragility. Color combinations which will never work on paper or an outfit always work beautifully well in one single flower. Isn’t God amazing? If it were not so costly and far, I would go to Dangwa in Sampaloc more often. I am always in search of the unique ones and I always interview the vendors. I love arranging flowers!

(The author is the COO & Executive Chef of the Chateau 1771 Group of Restaurants. The Chateau Group (www.chateaugroup.com) includes Chateau 1771 (European No Borders) in Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City; Sidebar in El Pueblo, Ortigas Center, Pasig City; Sentro 1771 (Modern Filipino) in Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City; and Portico 1771 (Oriental Bistro) in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Contact her at vickypacheco@hotmail.com.)

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CEBU’S DANCING INMATES: ‘THIS IS IT’ TRIBUTE

Entertainment

CEBU’S DANCING INMATES: ‘THIS IS IT’ TRIBUTE

No Comments 26 January 2010

Cebu’s “Dancing Inmates” perform a new routine from This Is It as a homage to the late Michael Jackson at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. Michael Jackson’s long-time choreographer Travis Payne and dancers Daniel Celebre and Dres Reid flew to the maximum security prison to personally teach the 1,500 inmate performers in two days so they could film this unique video. Sony Pictures DVD released the clip on Jan. 26.


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THIS BEAUTY THING

Lifestyle

THIS BEAUTY THING

3 Comments 25 January 2010

By Manuela Perez Samson

A good man, they say, is hard to find, but a beautiful woman, in this day and time . . . well, turn a corner and you meet one. Especially at upscale, fun-time corners like The Fort, Eastwood, Rockwell, Greenbelt, Glorietta. . . ah, in these whereabouts and hereabouts do such beauties abound! According to Mr. Webster, beauty is “the quality attributed to whatever pleases or satisfies in certain ways, as by line, color, form, etc.; a thing having this quality; good looks; a very good-looking woman.” And “beautiful” is applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind and suggests that the object approximates one’s conception of an ideal. On the other hand, Roget’s Thesaurus defines beauty thus: to be beautiful is to have qualities that delight the eye, and a beauty is a woman who is regarded as beautiful.

Well, that has got to be the simplest definition ever!

Let’s try the poets — they who were/are so lavish, so passionate with their praises of beauty, and their odes to beauty. Take Lord Byron’s oft-quoted lines: She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; and all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes. And Wordsworth, not to be outdone, speaks about his Phantom of delight. . . a lovely apparition sent to be a moment’s ornament.

On the other hand, what about John Keats, the metaphysical, moody, spiritual high priest of beauty who wrote that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Granted that JK was referring not to a particular person but to an ideal, still modern man has been quick to adapt it to woman as a thing, a “sexual object.” 

But wait, one more quote from another Romantic who swore that “if eyes were made for seeing, then beauty is its own excuse for being.”  That’s it? If you look good, if you’re pleasing to the beholder’s eye (because “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”) then you’re okay, you don’t have to be, or do, or prove anything else, you pass with flying colors?

Oh dear, this is really so confusing!

 All right then, let’s get this little piece on beauty and the beautiful, un-confused and classified into one category – beauty in its human form. In short, a beautiful woman (not to be confused with a beautiful man). And let’s take this dissertation closer to home and away from the Romantic poets of centuries ago who hadn’t a clue as to who Belo, Calayan, Mathay, and company might be. 

One reason perhaps that this particular group of makers-over is so popular is because Filipinos are known to be lovers of the beautiful, especially when it comes in womanly form. If you don’t happen to have been born beautiful, then you can always be made beautiful if you’re willing and able to pay the price.

Is it truly a culture thing with the Filipino, this obsession for the beautiful? Does this explain why we have so many beauty contests in the country anytime of the year —  Miss Earth Philippines, Miss Fire, Miss Bikini, Miss Fresh Air and big one, the Bb/ Pilipinas contest that will send our young Filipinas to different corners of the globe to represent this land of the morning sun which is known for its – what else – beautiful women!

Having clarified this particular Pinoy trait, what exactly is our concept of beauty?  Do we equate beauty with sexiness, a perfection of form and figure and looks? Does being beautiful mean having white skin, an aquiline nose, Angelina Jolie lips, perhaps a size 40 plus bra? Does a woman have to be a mestiza to be considered beautiful? And when did the mestiza become the measuring stick to gauge a woman’s beauty?

In truth, we don’t have to look beyond our shores to find beauty. The world itself has found it within our native land and given it recognition with a crown and a title. Here are some of our beautiful Filipinas, down the years of beauty pageants, across oceans and continents, chosen above all her peers as the fairest of them all: Aurora Pijuan, Miss International `70; Gloria Diaz, Miss Universe `69 (winning this crown, for Filipinos, outshone man’s landing on the moon, an event which happened on the same month of that year); Gemma Cruz, Miss International `65; Baby Santiago, Queen of the Pacific `68; Margie Moran (with very impressive credentials as granddaughter to a Philippine President, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and a Carnival Queen), Miss Universe `73; Nelia Sancho, Queen of the Pacific `71; Melanie Marquez, Miss International `79, and later Supermodel of the Year, representing a top US modeling agency.

It’s not only the mestiza among us who has graced magazine covers, walked down the ramps of the fashion world to show off Guccis, YSLs, Diors, etc. We have a Mayumi Cabrera (daughter of artist Bencab, and yes, half-Briton but more Pinay than Brit, right?) enhancing her exotic Filipina looks with a dazzling, sparkling de Beers diamond; and Lea Salonga as Kim, winning awards and applause on New York, London, and other stages of the world.

As for “white skin” – one of the ingredients in the recipe for beauty . . . notice that one out of every four or five commercials is a skin-lightening product endorsed by a stunning, sultry beauty who clearly doesn’t need to whiten her skin any more than it already is. Flawless white . . . pure white . . . pinkish white. . . 3-in-one whitening. . . 7-day whitening miracle. . . sparkling white. Clearly the operative, magical word is white.

Does the magic work? These are all big name products endorsed by big name celebrities – male and female both – their glowing white faces smiling out at you from giant billboards on our traffic-ridden avenues and superhighways.

Does it work? Okay, here’s a little tale about Jenny, Violy, and Mimi, all of them members of our household staff. Violy, in her late 40s, Mimi just past 18, and Jenny going on 30, are all typical provincianas, skin browned by the hot sun and warm winds of their native towns. In the city where they work as domestics for middle-class households, they spend breaks between chores glued to the TV screen and their favorite soap, along with all its attending commercials, including of course the magical whitening creams and the lovely white-skinned ladies and gents who endorse them.

So, do these commercials work? How strong is their impact on the particular market which is mostly made up of avid followers of teleseryes? Back to our three provinciana maidens, now indoctrinated into city ways and city life. Every night, Violy, Jenny and Mimi would sit around the table in the darkened kitchen, watching their favorite soap. There they’d sit, their faces glowing white with the magic cream that someday, would make them look like the beautiful white face on the screen before them.

It was startling at first to see those white-masked faces around the table, every night without fail, but eventually we got used to it. It matters not that the miracle doesn’t take place. It could be the cream they’re using isn’t as fast-working or expensive as the one on TV, but that’s okay. Theirs is the patience of saints, and they can wait. Someday, who knows, they’ll look in the mirror and voila! The magic has worked, and brown has turned to white!

Ironically, on the beautiful beaches of the southern provinces these girls left behind, men and women from foreign shores bare their snow white bodies to an abundant sun that would turn their skin to a delicious brown.

Another irony: While true it is that many Filipino males look first of all at the trappings (white skin, aquiline nose, bikini body, etc) that attract, and only second of all at whether that alluring exterior offers a counterpart interior (character, integrity, a beautiful soul perhaps?), statistics and records show marriages between international beauty queens – the first ever Miss Universe 1952, Armi Kuusela of Finland; the first Miss International (1962) Stella Marquez of Colombia; Miss Asia Angela Filmer of Malaysia; Miss Aruba, Miss Australia – and Filipino men.  This surely proves a point in that brown may be quite as irresistible to white, as vice versa. 

Why on earth then do we want to change the color of our skin? Why isn’t Nora A or Sarah G up there on that screen singing about the brown-skinned maidens of our enchanted isles, instead of voluptuous-lipped Gretchen or sultry Ruffa enticing gullible, small-town innocents into making the impossible happen?

So, back to first base: What is beauty? What, more specifically, makes a woman beautiful, apart and aside from, and without, whitening creams, age-defying miracle creams, nosejobs, breast and butt lifts, liposuction, nips and tucks and silicon add-ons?  What is this obsession with color, shape and form? Is beauty only skin deep, concerned with the external, “its own excuse for being”?

There’s got to be something else. Like genes, for instance.  Genes is what makes a person look the way he/she does. The biological “somethings” that determine if you’ll be a Jericho look-alike or you’ll have Kristine’s dimples, Agot’s sultry eyes. Later, what completes the handiwork? Experience, character, formation, life itself. . . and living.

So think not that beauty is its own excuse for being. If we believed that, if our culture tells us there’s nothing more to beauty than meets the eye, then there’s little hope for the other part of the world, the bigger part which is composed of ordinary folks like you and me, ordinary folks who come in all shapes, and sizes and faces.

Where would love go if every time a man looked at a woman, he would want to see a white-skinned beauty in a bikini? Would he compromise and imagine Eva Longoria when he looks at his wife of 20 or so years, dark hair streaked with gray, bulges in the wrong places, once-smooth-skin lined and wrinkled?

But believe that there’s more to a beautiful woman than the color of her skin or the shape of her body. Believe there’s more to her than meets the eye; look beyond the layers of whitening cream and botoxed forehead and injected lips, beneath the silicon chest and padded butt – and discover the mind and heart and soul of her. And realize that this goddess walks on brown feet.

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2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

Politics

2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

2 Comments 24 January 2010

By Joe Rivera

This coming national election in the Philippines will not be an ordinary one. While a successor to incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be crowned, the election can also be a prelude to a possible shift to a parliamentary system of government if Arroyo wins her congressional seat in Pampanga and becomes the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. READ FULL STORY.

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GREAT CITIES OF THE VISAYAS

Travel

GREAT CITIES OF THE VISAYAS

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Amadís Ma. Guerrero

From a small town derided for being the capital of a feudal province with a big gap between rich and poor, Bacolod has grown through the decades to become a cosmopolitan city with malls, fast-food outlets, and convention centers. Alas, many historical landmarks of the past are gone, but there is still the Bacolod Cathedral and its two bells enshrined in the churchyard.

Bacolod is famous for its cuisine, notably the chicken inasal (barbecue) which makes for a great meal when eaten with rice and washed down with a little beer. Look for the row of eateries called Manukan, loved by domestic and foreign tourists who are not sosyal (uppity).

The leading hotels – like L’Fisher, Bacolod Convention Center and Goldenfield Garden (the latter near a lively district at night) – all have large-scale convention facilities. Standard and budget hotels include Sugarland, Sea Breeze, Pension Plaza, Bacolod Plaza and Cactus Inn. And once a year (late October) Bacolod forgets its troubles and stages its lively Masskara Festival, with its folk art and masked dancers.

Bustling Cebu

Bustling, modern Cebu City is the gateway to the rest of the province, which is the No.1 tourist destination outside of Metro Manila. Leading hotels within the city are Shangri-la Mactan Resort Hotel, Crown Regency, Marco Polo Plaza, and Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa but there are standard and budget tourists hotels and inns too numerous to mention, like YMCA.

For the first-time visitor, the city has many interesting sites redolent of history. The most famous is the shrine of Magellan’s Cross (original parts are encased in the replica) right in downtown Cebu. Here devout old women (manangs) will dance and say a prayer for you, and, of course, ask for a little money. Also not to be missed are the Santo Niño Basilica and the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Taoist Temple, Fort San Pedro, the University of San Carlos Museum and Casa Gorordo, a heritage mansion transformed into a museum.

Cebu’s tribute to the Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus), the Sinulog. is in January.

Ilonggo cuisine

Iloilo City has six districts, each with a church. For me the two most impressive are the Molo Church and the Jaro Cathedral. The church has twin red spires and is famous for its array of all-women saints (a touch of religious feminism!). National Hero Jose Rizal visited the church on his way to exile in Dapitan, Mindanao, in 1896. the Jaro Cathedral, built in 1864, is the home of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Señora de Candeleria) whose limestone statue is said to be growing, and no longer fits into its original niche.

The phalanx of saints here, this time, is all-male. And Our Lady is the only “rose.”

While in  Iloilo, check out, while they are still around, landmarks like the Kerr & Co. Building in Ortiz St., the Ledesma mansions in front of Museo Iloilo, the Lopez-Vito residence in Jaro, and the Lizares Mansion (now a school), which is spectacularly a – glow with lights come Christmastime.

 The city is also known for its cuisine, like the popular batchoy and  pancit  molo, now served everywhere in the country but best to be tested in Iloilo. These are soup with noodles and lots of meat (with an egg as option), in the case of batchoy, and pork dumplings for the pancit molo.

Ilonggos like to bring their visitors to Tatoy’s Manokan & Seafoods, a seaside restaurant whose specialty is barbecued native chicken stuffed with pandan leaves and roasted over charcoal.

 The main Iloilo festival, Dinagyang, is also held in January.

Picturesque city

Tagbilaran is the capital city of Bohol, one of the most picturesque provinces in the Philippines. It is now commercialized, with many new buildings, but can still be enjoyed for its own sake for it is beside the sea. Places to stay here include Metro Centre, La Roca, Meridian, G. Gardens, and Sea Breeze. Right next to the city, connected by a bridge, is Panglao Island, where some of the best beach resorts – like Panglao Island Nature Resort – can be found.

 Within the city limits is the seaside monument celebrating the Blood Compact between Rajah Sikatuna and the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The best time to visit Tagbilaran is during July, when the Sandugo Festival is celebrated with much merrymaking, drums, dancing in the streets, and youthful contingents from all over Bohol and neighboring provinces like Leyte.

 Tacloban is the capital city of Leyte and the regional center of Eastern Visayas. It is right beside Palo Beach, famous for being the landing area of US Gen. Douglas McArthur during his return to the Philippines in 1944, during World War II. The Landing Memorial is, in fact, near the McArthur Park Beach Resort.

Another place worth visiting is the Leyte Park Hotel, which has a scenic swimming pool along San Juanico Bay.

Once, in the company of friends, I undertook a taxi ride from Manila all the way to Tacloban, or 860 kms south. It was quite an experience, rewarded at the end by the sight of the mountains in Tacloban, coming from Samar, as we were crossing the San Juanico Bridge. Our mission was to document 38 charcoal drawings highlighting Philippine history by the late, great visual artist Amadeo Manalad, housed at the Santo Niño Shrine & Heritage Museum, another reason for visiting Tacloban.

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PACQUIAO SEEKS 5TH STRAIGHT KNOCKOUT WIN

Sports

PACQUIAO SEEKS 5TH STRAIGHT KNOCKOUT WIN

No Comments 24 January 2010

Manny Pacquiao is aiming for a fifth straight knockout victory when he puts his World Boxing Organization welterweight title on the line against Joshua Clottey on March 13 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, believes the Ghanian opponent, who has never been knocked out, will be a difficult assignment. But he is confident the Filipino boxing sensation can dispose of him within the distance.

“I think we’re going to get him (Clottey) in 12 easily, but he’s definitely a tough guy to knock out,” said Roach. “That’s our goal, to knock him out and be the first one to do that.”

“It’s a hard fight, of course, because he’s a true welterweight and a big, strong kid, so Pacquiao is going to have to really fight smart with his speed,” added Roach.

To ensure a knockout win, Roach said his ward has to box, in and out, side to side, and be very tactical because Clottey is a strong and big puncher with an iron chin.

Pacquiao, the undisputed pound-for-pound king, stopped his last four opponents — David Diaz, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao carries a 50-3-2 record, with 38 knockouts.

The 32-year-old Clottey is coming off a controversial split-decision loss to Cotto last June, a fight many thought Clottey won. He has a 35-3 record, with 20 KOs.

Their bout will be fought at the 147-pound welterweight limit.  Pacquiao weighed at 144 pounds when battled Cotto. Clottey, a big welterweight known to have trouble making the weight limit at times, has weighed more than 147 pounds in 11 bouts, including twice at 154 pounds.

Pacquiao left for Los Angeles on Jan. 17 to begin training at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.

Roach has lined up 154 and 160-pounders to spar with Pacquiao, including German Felix Sturm, the WBA middleweight champion, and Mexican Roberto Garcia, who fights at 154 and boasts a 29-2 record.

Pacquiao started out a 3-1 favorite for the March 13 bout, Examiner.com reported. Bettors need to wager $300 to win $100 on Pacquiao. Clottey will start at plus-270, meaning a $100 bet on him will earn $270.

The Pacquiao-Clottey bout replaced a previously scheduled highly-lucrative match-up between Pacquiao and five-time champ Floyd Mayweather fell through in early January over the issue of pre-fight anti-doping blood tests. Mayweather originally insisted they be conducted right up to the fight, while Pacquiao wanted a 30-day cut off before the bout. They were unable to reach a compromise.

The title fight will be held at the Cowboys Stadium, the billion-dollar state-of-the-art home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had put the facility forward as a venue for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

Promoter Bob Arum is pleased with the choice of venue. “Jerry Jones knows exactly how big and important this event is, which is why it was so easy to put this deal together,” Arum said. “If Jerry could sell me on Cowboys Stadium and the North Texas market, you know he is going to have no problems selling out Cowboys Stadium on March 13.”

Jones said he was thrilled to host a bout involving a fighter of Pacquiao’s stature, regardless of his opponent, and even if the fight with Clottey won’t be the mega money-spinner that Pacquiao-Mayweather promised to be.

“Manny defending his title against Joshua Clottey is not just a great fight, it’s a great event, and one we can showcase to the fullest in Cowboys Stadium,” Jones said. “We’re going to promote this like it was the Super Bowl.”

The stadium won’t be configured for maximum 100,000 seating capacity. They’ll start out planning in the 40,000 seat range, but can increase that capacity if needed.

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‘LAY OFF MY HUSBAND, SPARE MY BROTHER’

Entertainment

‘LAY OFF MY HUSBAND, SPARE MY BROTHER’

No Comments 24 January 2010

What began as a domestic issue between celebrity couple Kris Aquino and James Yap nearly turned into political fodder in the simmering election campaign season. But about a week after the issue broke out, the controversy has died down and the celebrity couple has reportedly patched up their differences.

The popular TV host/actress and youngest sister of presidential aspirant Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III took offense at critics’ attempts to link her brother to a “domestic issue that does not even involve him directly.”

The “domestic issue” Kris was referring to was an incident on Jan. 13 when she “confronted” an alleged female fan of James and told her to stop bugging her husband about her personal problems.

According to a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Jan. 14, Kris confronted a certain Mayen Austria, 35, outside the latter’s house in Valle Verde 2 Subdivision in Pasig City around 4 p.m. on Jan.13 after learning that Mayen had been calling and sending text messages to her husband.  

Quoting Mayen’s uncle, Gabby Lopez (no relation to the ABS-CBN chair), Inquirer reported that Kris spent about 10 minutes at the gate of the house of the Austrias and allegedly shouted and hurled insults at Mayen and her mother.

The Inquirer also quoted an unnamed witness who said Kris threw invectives at Mayen and her mother.

“(Kris) also shouted at her (Minna): ‘Anong klaseng nanay ka? Anong klase ang palaki mo sa anak mo?’” the source said.

Lopez refused to elaborate on the incident but took a potshot at Kris’ brother, saying, “I now know who I will not vote for.” 

Noynoy Aquino is the Liberal Party standard-bearer in the May elections.

Lopez’s remark incensed Kris. “Why is the issue being used as a political weapon against my brother?” she asked.

In a talk with the Inquirer last Jan. 15, she denied confronting and shouting insults at Mayen and her mother.

“In my 25 years of being in the public eye, nobody can ever say that it is in my nature na magmura or gumawa ng iskandalo,” she said. “I didn’t shout or create a commotion. [Mayen’s mother] graciously came to their gate and we had a peaceful conversation.”

Kris claimed she was “very polite” when she expressed her “discomfort about [Mayen’s] actuations” towards James.

“Mrs. Austria said it was all just a misunderstanding. I told her, ‘I’m sorry to be disturbing you, but I just had to come here. It makes me uncomfortable that your daughter is calling my husband,’” Kris continued.

“At this time, [Mayen] came out. She said James called her up to tell her that I’m on my way, and to just say sorry to me. She said, ‘I don’t know why I should. I’ve done nothing wrong.’”

She added: “I told her, ‘As a wife I’m telling you that it’s wrong. Why do you have to cry to my husband about your boyfriend leaving you when the guy is not even a friend of James’?’ I said to the mom, ‘Thank you. I hope your daughter would stop calling James,’ and then I left.”

A day or two after the confrontation, Kris, together with sons Joshua and James Jr., moved out of the home she shares with husband James to have “some space” at her sister Pinky’s house. But two days later, the TV host and her two sons are back in their Valle Verde house.

Magkasama na uli kami ngayon,” she said in a TV interview last Jan. 22.Pero pina-punish ko pa rin siya nang konti,” she chuckled. “Pero maayos naman na. Sinisikap namin na maging maayos ang pagsasama namin.”

While Kris admits that their troubled marriage needs some mending, she says the issue with James’ female friend, Mayen Austria, is over and that the Aquino and Austria families have sorted out the matter.

On Jan. 17, when she announced she was leaving their home temporarily, Kris told co-host Boy Abunda on The Buzz, “I’m not saying that the marriage is over. In my heart, gusto ko the marriage to work for our kids. I’m not putting a period, I’m not saying this is the end of the road. I’m hoping and praying maayos namin lahat pero kailangan ko rin ng space.” 

“I love him and he knows I still love him. I’ve never given him any reason to doubt my fidelity. I just want the same thing in return,” she said. Hindi naman puwedeng ako lang ang nagmamahal… Ako lang umiintindi. It takes two for this marriage to work. I want him to make me feel I’m really (his) wife, that (he’s) a responsible husband and a loving father and that this marriage has a future.”

According to Kris, she explained to her husband that it was not proper for Mayen to be confiding her problems with her boyfriend to a married man. “I told James, ‘You married me. You made this commitment to me. I am your wife. I have my rights as a wife. I will use those rights to protect myself and our children. I will protect my territory.”

In an interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal, the outspoken and controversial TV host said Mayen should instead consult a guidance counselor, a close female friend, sibling or her parents about her personal problems.

She said she told James, “Sa dami ng pinagdaanan natin, sa dami ng gusto kong ilabas noon, noong kailangan ko ng makikinig sa akin, wala akong iniyakan na lalake. Wala. Inisip ko kasi na hindi makabubuti iyon. Maaaring panggalingan lang ng gulo.”

She added: “Tama ba na iyakan ko si Gabby [Concepcion], na kasama ko sa soap ngayon? Hindi, di ba?”

Kris said she apologized to Noynoy for dragging him to the controversy. I told him, “Pasensya ka na that my marital crisis is now being used to attack you.”

Noynoy assured Kris he would always be available for her and James if they need his advice. “Let me reiterate, prioritize your family, never mind the campaign” he told Kris.

Noynoy appealed to the public not to judge the people involved in the issue. “Hintayin po nating makita yung buong picture bago tayo magsabi ng conclusion… Kung meron po tayong malasakit sa kanila, magandang bigyan ng espasyo ang dalawa. Sila ang makaka-solve ng problemang ito,” he said in a radio interview.

In 2007, Kris and James had a big fight after the latter was rumored to have had a romantic liaison with one Hope Centeno, then a receptionist at the Belo Medical Clinic.

Last Jan. 12, a day before the Valle Verde incident, the couple rendered a duet number during the birthday concert of Sharon Cuneta at the Araneta Coliseum. They sang the OPM hit Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo of Rey Valera. Sharon blurted out, “Huwag naman!” when the couple reached the number’s refrain, “Aking nadarama / pagsasama nati’y ‘di magtatagal.”

Kris turns 39 on Valentine’s Day, Feb 14. On Feb. 15 James will mark his 28th birthday. Married in a civil ceremony last July 10, 2005, they have a three-year-old son, James Jr.

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OUTSOURCING THE WIFE

Migration

OUTSOURCING THE WIFE

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Carmela Fonbuena    

Foreigners trawl the World Wide Web for one of the country’s hottest exports, the Filipino mail-order-bride, a convenient way to traffic Filipino women. “Mail-order bride” was a term coined  in the 19th century to refer to the way American soldiers literally ordered brides to join them in areas they were assigned. Today, it has acquired a different connotation as technological leaps and bounds have become easier for men to “order” their wives from the net in much the same way they do their shopping online. READ FULL STORY.

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