Baguio is aptly called a Unesco Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts. Frequent Baguio visitors would agree that the city has always teemed with creativity — there’s a palpable love for the arts and the indigenous culture of the Cordilleras.
Bululs or carved wooden sculptures said to be the stylized representations of the protectors of Ifugao rice crops are ubiquitous; if memory serves me right, there were even some lined up by the entrance to the city along Marcos Highway when I visited Baguio a year ago.
People proudly adorn themselves with the colorful woven textile of the Cordilleras, either as a complete garment or as an accessory in the form of bags, headpieces or jewelry. Also, the city has always been home to many talents including two National Artists — BenCab and Kidlat Tahimik.
It’s hard not to see why it only took six months for the northern city to earn that designation. Baguio’s narrative is a compelling example but proponents are not resting on its laurels.
Earning that designation is just the start, as but sustaining it is a long and arduous task that requires commitment and proactivity.
The proponents who worked hard for the Unesco designation have began setting the wheels in motion since achieving the status on 31 October 2017. What better way for them to do it than by reviving a Creative Festival in the form of the very first EntaCool Creative Festival that happened from 10 to 18 November?
One would see the confluence of like-minded stakeholders when the festival was held. Public agencies and private individuals and groups collaborated to make the week-long festival a success.
It was spearheaded by Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Marie Venus Tan, Philippine National Commission for UNESCO secretary general Lila Ramos Shahani, Department of Tourism – Cordillera Administrative Region (DoT-CAR) OIC Jovita Ganongan, Baguio Arts and Creative Collective Inc. chairperson. Adelaida Lim- Perez and UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos.
There were creative crawls, workshops and the launch of an OTOP or one-town, one-product hub in Upper Session Road in Baguio City.
Among the highlights was the inauguration of the Bell House at Camp John Hay where the “Baguio: Our City, Our Home” exhibit is being held. It features photos of Baguio from a specific era from the collections of BenCab, AV Cating Family, R. Furuya, Michael G. Price and E.R. Alcantara. These are placed side by side or on top of the present photos of the same iconic Baguio landmarks taken by known lensmen such as Tommy Hafalla, Ompong Tan and Wig Tysmans. It is on view until 6 January 2019.
The festival opened with much aplomb with the launch of the “Kulay ng Siglo” exhibit at the former Diplomat Hotel, which is now known as the Dominican Hill and Nature Park. The former hotel, which was the stuff of legends for allegedly being haunted by otherworldly creatures or elements, was transformed into one glorious, creative hub that featured installations and paintings by Baguio artists led by Kidlat Tahimik. It was curated by fellow Baguio Arts Guild founder Willy Magtibay.
What was commendable about this staging was the underlying commitment of the proponents to sustain the Unesco designation.
They hope that it will not suffer the same fate as the Baguio Arts Festival during the late 1980s. Thus, the stakeholders, which include the LGU, the aforementioned agencies, BACCI and private individuals, are finding ways to sustain the festival and the designation as a whole.
TPB COO Tan said that among these is adaptive reuse, which they did with the old Diplomat Hotel. It had been abandoned in the late 1980s after its operator/manager Tony Agpaoa’s demise until the city government took ownership of the lot in 2005. Tan, who had been previously the Regional Director of DoT-CAR, knows very well these concerns and thus thinks that adaptive reuse of heritage sites such as the Dominican Hill is a tool to keep the momentum.
Paolo Mercado, Creative Economy Council of the Philippines founding president, shared the story of Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java. Similarly, the relatively cool Bandung used to be the large manufacturer for apparel brands, or what he bluntly called, sweatshops for big brand names, until the stakeholders decided to have their voices heard. In 2015, Bandung was designated as the Unesco Creative City for Design.
Amid all these, admittedly not all are aware of the impact of such a designation or any arts and culture inscription for that matter unless one is made aware of its potential financial impact to the economy and the creative individual himself.
To put it in perspective, Mercado pointed out that Hollywood and Silicon Valley in California are perfect examples of “creative clusters” that are thriving and contributing to the States’ economy. The products made by these giants are consumed globally and are valued by the billions in dollars.
Similarly, PH National Commission for UNESCO Hon. Sec Gen. Lila Ramos-Shahani shared how a Unesco inscription helped Vigan’s local economy. She shared that prior to Vigan’s inscription as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999, IIocos Sur’s capital was a second-class municipality with an annual revenue of P27 million and an unemployment rate of 45 percent. At present, employment rate is down at 8 percent and the city’s annual revenue increased 12 times since 1995.
All are in agreement, however, that the fulcrum that could hold the festival, and in effect the designation, together is its institutionalization. Baguio City Councilor Ma. Mylen Victoria Yaranon shared that they are working on coming up with an ordinance that would create the Baguio Creative Council. She said it is currently on its second reading.
Hearing all these insights and plans, one cannot but help be optimistic especially with the confluence of factors that could make Baguio even cooler and more attractive as it already is.
Congratulations are in order for two skilled individuals that I am fortunate to know.
I just used to see Chuck Smith and Deni Rose Afinidad-Bernardo saunter in and out of The Varsitarian’s office, which was formerly located at UST’s Main Building, back during my university days. Chuck, a year younger, was a Features and News writer. We did not have much time to talk to each other as I was hanging around at the Varsi office waiting for Deni to finish her work. (I was never a Varsi staff, I reluctantly regret to admit, because I never had the guts to take their grueling exams.)
Chuck and I just got to talk more when I got in as a writer for the Tribune. We used to bump into each other at coverages while he was still writing for Philstar.com. He’s now a publicist for TBA Studios.
These two have just celebrated a milestone.
Chuck was given the Palanca nod for his essay, “The Origin Story,” first published in Esquire Magazine. While I joked with him that I would make “kulit” on the night he was bestowed the prestigious Palanca last October, his answer was typical Chuck who did not make a big deal out of it. I, however, got to ask via chat what he felt after getting the nod for writing something very personal.
“It feels great. The Palanca is a good validation for someone trying to find his place in the writing community or for an aspiring writer trying to make sense of his own work. I take it as an encouragement to conitnue writing, a sign that I am maybe, hopefully, doing something right with my writing,” he replied. He added that he feels more conscious of what he writes.
“More than that, I just feel more obligated to write more and create something of value to someone,” he ended.
I must say that he is definitely on the “writeful” path.
Similarly, Deni is humbled by another feather in her cap. While Chuck wrote in English for the Varsitarian, she had such flair in Filipino. But she is equally adept at writing in English which she applied to much delight as writer for Manila Standard until she joined the Daily Tribune.
She had been with the Tribune until two years ago when she got the Lifestyle and Entertainment post at Philstar.com.
Ever busy with her career, she finds ways to balance her home life by taking care of daughter Sofia and their upcoming bundle of joy as well as being wife to Nicolo, who also used to be the editor-in-chief of Varsi.
She and Nico are perfectly matched as she joins her husband in the publishing community with her book, Mukhang Artista, a compilation of her interviews of celebrities who shared their makeup tips which she got to interview over the years. Nicolo is also an author of two books, PhiLawSophia and Short Alpha Males.
Way to go Chuck and Deni!
Let’s get it on
Key to meeting the targets is the timing of the budget release to pump-prime the economy.
Exiting Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano should not digress from the latest agreement struck with President Rodrigo Duterte and tell his wards in the House of Representatives to move on.
The partisan maneuvers should be over, now that a deal has been reached for Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to take over as House leader on 14 October, as both protagonists again had to let the President, who is already confronted with a mountain of concerns, mediate.
Both House members have themselves bound to a term-sharing deal in which the first 15 months of the Speakership goes to Cayetano, while the rest of the term until 2022 is served by Velasco.
The 15-21 agreement was set in stone, until the approach of the handover when the incumbent appeared reluctant to let go and even mustered his backers to support the junking of the covenant.
President Duterte who values word of honor among men made sure that his views are known.
The Chief Executive cut short the useless friction since on the line is the national budget that had to be passed before the end of the year to initiate the recovery process earlier.
The economy is the biggest victim of the pandemic as estimates indicate a contraction of as much as nine percent by year’s end. The second quarter showed the economy shrank 16.5 percent.
If the intramurals drag on, plus the yearly battle on lump sums, the delay in the budget remains a distinct possibility.
The pace of growth will largely depend on the 2021 General Appropriations Act being signed by the President on time — that is before the end of the year, if both chambers of Congress pass their respective bills by November.
The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee said the proposed 2021 outlay will be pivotal to achieving their carefully crafted targets.
Gross domestic product (GDP) for this year is expected to contract 5.5 percent as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, trade and remittances throughout the year.
Allocating the P4.506 trillion plan is expected to allow the economy to spring back strongly to a GDP growth of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent for 2021 and 2022.
Key to meeting the targets is the timing of the budget release to pump-prime the economy.
Frontloading the budget, or spending most of it at the start of the year, is the most effective way, according to economists, of perking up growth, since money will be in the hands of Filipinos at the start of the year when business activities are traditionally slow after the holiday season.
Enough of the horse trading and transactional politics at the House. Focus on defeating the malignancy of the coronavirus on the economy.
Like the Joker, Florin Hilbay is wild
That’s the opposition for you. They derive power from a stunted society, one that is unable to move on from the perception of a past manufactured for their political ends.
When we likened President Duterte and his mouthpiece, Harry Roque, to crusaders Batman and Robin sometime last week, little did we know that there is a Joker lurking somewhere ready to strike.
With Roque sounding more and more like the man he speaks for, Roque, we said, is like Robin to Duterte’s Batman as far as lambasting critics is concerned, minus the cursing, of course.
And if there’s a Dynamic Duo fighting evil in Gotham, can the Joker be far behind?
Yes, the Joker took the form of no less than former solicitor general and failed senatorial candidate in the 2019 national elections, Florin “Pilo” Hilbay.
In a recent Twitter post, Hilbay claimed that the country is in a dictatorship, one, he said, that may be even worse than before.
He urged Filipinos “to keep shouting NEVER AGAIN again and again because the struggle against tyranny and for good governance is a democratic ritual we must practice over and over again.”
Hilbay, of course, represents the opposition, one of the infamous Otso Diretso bets who were annihilated in the last senatorial elections, failing to win even a single seat.
For all their efforts trying to convince everyone that they are pro-democracy and pro-freedom, today’s opposition doesn’t see the irony in its being the first to declare the Philippines a “dictatorship.”
If, according to Agot Isidro’s good friend, there is indeed a “struggle against tyranny” that Filipinos should exercise, Hilbay, we believe, would be the last person Juan de la Cruz should look for as a leader.
He failed to convince voters to pick him as one of their legislators last year. Why would they run to him for help now? What struggle is he talking about?
The more he whines, the more Pinoys are convinced that they did the right thing in shutting him down from the Senate.
There can only be one motive behind the opposition’s eagerness to convince Filipinos into believing that the country is in a dictatorship. And it’s a political strategy that is sure to backfire on the so-called Yellowtards in our midst.
Back in the 1980s, the Yellowtards used the dictator bogey as an essential component of their dishonest narrative of victimization and worship of freedom fighters and nuns who faced tanks in defiance of the strongman. They succeeded in the use of the victim card and turned their narrative into political power.
Evidently, they are trying to use the same playbook in seizing power anew.
Like the Joker, they want Filipinos to tremble in remembrance of those martial law years. They would like them to remain stuck in the past and fearful that a return to the strongman rule would keep them shouting “Never Again.”
That’s the opposition for you. They derive power from a stunted society, one that is unable to move on from the perception of a past manufactured for their political ends.
Hilbay, as the Joker, knows the playbook very well. They do not want Filipinos to forget and move on from having to remember the martial law years.
He knows that when this happens, he and the rest of his group are finished. Their obsolete narrative of prayerful heroes crumbles and along with it their hopes of a return to their glory years.
Yes, Florin Hilbay, there is no such thing as The Return of the Joker. There is no such sequel.
Only a big joke such as what you’d like Filipinos to believe.
BPO balloons and bubble bursts
Unfortunately, the pandemic drastically slowed global economic activity and changed the equation. Expansion was on hold and vacancies started reappearing.
By definition, foreign investments in the property sector, especially those that compelled incremental generic office space, the purchase of mass living quarters, even the establishment of small- to medium-scale specially niched food, beverage, medical and entertainment businesses to service the peculiar needs of a steadily increasing population were collectively considered as the kind we wanted.
Technically, there are two that comprise the foreign influx we desire. The first are portfolio investments that flow into the capital markets through equity in publicly listed private corporations allowed a limited amount of foreign equity. As part of the corporation’s capital structure, these enhance balance sheets and allow the company to expand.
In property development companies, foreign portfolio investments are limited by the Constitution. While there are ways developers might fund expansion other than through equity using, for example, real estate investment trusts or debt secured with property assets, portfolio investments in property development are less risky compared to foreign direct investments (FDI).
To differentiate, think of FDI as long-term investments in brick-and-mortar enterprises or capital expenses that create more capital as the business develops.
If portfolio investments are limited by constitutional requisites, FDI in companies that own real property are even more restricted. Foreigners cannot own land directly. A proxy system, however, provides certain modes, but the legality of these is subject to creativity, debate and enforcement will.
Three years prior to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic that drastically altered the world as we knew it, there was a novel enterprise spawned from the business process outsourcing sector and a hybrid of the property and gaming sub-sectors that showed fantastic promise of growth had it been allowed free reign.
Financial authorities salivated when they did the arithmetic. While the glut from the private property sector that ballooned was happily being filled, property values were considered bright luminescent multicolored plastic bubbles, and it was a matter of time before bubbles burst.Unfortunately, the pandemic drastically slowed global economic activity and changed the equation. Expansion was on hold and vacancies started reappearing.
Analyze the data. With the slowdown in leasing activity impacting on property development as a result of diminished demand for all forms of outsourcing, property values fell as did rents from as much as 17 percent to 20 percent. For 2021, analysts foresee prospective discounts ranging from 20 percent to as much as 30 percent to attract traditional non-BPO businesses who under quarantine guidelines operate at an average of 50 percent capacity. That’s a radical haircut. Hopefully at the 30 percent discount level, given property devaluations, the sector might still see two percent growth after retooling for plug-and-play connectivity, health safety and distancing considerations.
The local Chinese have a name for the phenomenon that afflicted the sector. They call it “ampaw.”
Time to end dispute
While the issue hangs, tens of thousands of Filipinos are living without proper documentation in Sabah.
Now presents the best chance to end the divisive Sabah dispute as a result of the new leadership in both the national and state levels in Malaysia.
A coalition formed by parties in Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government dominated the recent state elections.
Emerging from a political turmoil, Muhyiddin would want to remove all obstacles in the new government, which is the same view of the recently elected leadership in Sabah.
The new Prime Minister is also facing a challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who claimed to have the support of the majority of members of parliament.
The Muhyiddin-led coalition, Sabah People’s Movement, received a mandate from some 1.1 million voters on the island of Borneo and exceeded the 37 assembly-seat threshold to form the next state government.
The coalition defeated sitting Chief Minister Shafie Apdal and his Sabah Heritage Party, which won 21 seats.
Earlier, some Malaysian officials raised the possibility of putting the territorial question before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which resigned Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad promptly shot down.
Call for secession in Sabah and Sarawak is also getting louder. This issue was a key point in the Sabah state election and is expected to be a factor for the Sarawak elections before the end of 2021.
Most people in Sabah and Sarawak (also known as East Malaysia) are unhappy with being in the federation because they think it has not delivered on a 1962 promise of a high degree of autonomy and economic development.
The groups leading the independence movement said the federal government has stripped away a lot of local powers in Sabah and Sarawak in the last 57 years.
East Malaysia is much more ethnically and religiously diverse compared to the west. For example, the Malay population is a minority in both Sabah and Sarawak; in fact, no ethnic group constitutes more than 40 percent in either state.
In terms of economic development, Sabah remains one of the poorest states in Malaysia, but more than half of Malaysia’s oil and gas production comes from Sabah and Sarawak.
A common notion in both states is that all the iconic infrastructure in peninsular Malaysia, such as the Petronas Towers, Penang Bridge and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, were built with money from East Malaysia.
The Philippines has a historical claim to Sabah from the Sultanate of Sulu, which once ruled the far south regions of the Philippines. The Sultanate asserted that the territory of North Borneo or Sabah was a gift from the Sultan of Brunei, as a reward for Sulu’s aid in a war in the 1600s.
The government maintains that the Sultanate’s agreement with the British North Borneo Co. in 1878 was merely a lease, not a transfer of sovereignty.
Until now, only Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos actively pushed the Sultanate’s claim.
Kuala Lumpur, however, insisted the British North Borneo Co.’s payments were installments to purchase the territory from Sulu. In that case, sovereignty was transferred to Malaysia when it succeeded British Malaya.
While the issue hangs, tens of thousands of Filipinos are living without proper documentation in Sabah.
Hundreds were deported with Malaysia using the pandemic as an excuse. As a result of the stalemate, the Philippines has historically refused to open a local consulate in Sabah that further exposes Filipinos living in the territory to abuses.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently called on Muhyiddin to assist Filipinos in Sabah despite the spat.
The problem, however, is expected to fester until a satisfactory resolution is reached, which should be obtained sooner than later.
Elections, here we come
But with the pandemic wrecking many fortunes, surely it isn’t as easy now as it was in the pre-pandemic era to get hold of money.
Swatting the pesky fly before it could even fly is the best thing to have happened.
Many, surprisingly from all shades of the political spectrum, even had guns blazing in shooting down the latest harebrained proposal to have no elections, or, as traditional political labeling goes, “no-el.”
So scathing were the reactions to “no-el,” its embarrassed principal author, Pampanga’s Mikey Arroyo, slinked back into his appropriate “never-heard” posture, perhaps to forever keep his peace and his mouth shut.
It must be granted, however, that the young Arroyo did cause somewhat of a welcomed stir, providing relief from boring speculations on who is the best candidate to replace an aging and visibly tired Mr. Duterte.
By this simple virtue of boredom relief, spending a few minutes with Mr. Arroyo’s not so surprising proposal is excusable.
We aren’t surprised at the proposal. “no-el” proposals have become so much part of this country’s political life that if there were no talk of “no-el” every so often, it would have meant our brand of tribal politics had become a neglected cemetery, overwhelmed by unpoetic decay.
That tribal politics hasn’t decayed to a revolutionary situation certainly warms the hearts of our status quo politicians.
If it were otherwise, it wouldn’t have raised this government’s preeminent wordsmith’s heckling talents.
“You don’t cancel elections for any reason. That’s treason!” thundered top Filipino diplomat Teodoro Locsin Jr., who then proceeded peppering his point with humdrum expletives: “We are a democracy or a s*** slave colony. Hold elections period. Those brave to stand in line & vote — even if only 12 — decide the next President. Elections-democracy or F*** U. You fucking s***!”
For context, poor Mr. Arroyo got Mr. Locsin’s ire after the former during a budget hearing urged Comelec officials to postpone the coming elections because of the ongoing pandemic.
“Because (of the pandemic) I’ve been hearing in my district, the businessmen, the old people, they’re saying maybe they would not just vote because they’re scared to vote during that day. That’s just food for thought, Mr. Chair. The Comelec may choose to answer that or not,” so justified Mr. Arroyo.
Other than probably trying to impress us of his bravery consulting constituents during an apocalyptic pandemic, Mr. Arroyo, of course, wants to convince us that his concern is by virtue of a higher national interest other than his own.
We are not, and should not be, taken in by the ruse.
For one, it is without a doubt many harbor ill, resentful thought bubbles wherein everyone is bent on holding elective officials accountable for whatever has been done or not done in this pandemic. The time of reckoning for this vengeful thoughts, of course, is the 2022 elections.
Why then should we deprive a depressed, lockdown suffering electorate the supreme pleasure of booting out bums?
Still, Christian charity prods us to at least have some understanding on why some of our politicians are enticed by the prospect of postponed elections.
Outside of the aforesaid reason that our pols certainly don’t relish getting the boot, there are other reasons causing their miseries if elections were to go on.
Risking personal health while physically campaigning during a pandemic is convincing enough. But there is one other pungent reason which is the root of any politician’s election misery — money.
Yes money. Other than the scourge of death, the pandemic nightmare is really more about losing money than making money. Everybody, both high and low, in this pandemic is scrambling for money. The politicians more so.
One doesn’t need rocket science to realize money matters to a politician’s ambitions.
Now, you must also remember that politicians hereabouts do not want to spend their personal money for an election. They want to spend other people’s money, usually hedging electoral expenses through legal or illegal contributions from the general public, particularly the well-heeled.
But with the pandemic wrecking many fortunes, surely it isn’t as easy now as it was in the pre-pandemic era to get hold of money. Who is mad enough to give away precious money when one is trying to save one’s own skin?
The old standby of corrupting government coffers won’t work either. So tight are government funds that getting funding from government is akin to false promises than actual fact.
Undoubtedly, the politician is in a “lose-lose” situation, forcing him or her to bank on and spend personal wealth.
So, now that you’ve realized the 2022 screws politicians, I hope you’re one with me in loudly proclaiming — by all means let’s get on with the elections!
Email: [email protected]
Whole lot of baking going on
Co-owners Paula Ferrer and Bianca Termulo tweaked, revamped and conducted a 180-degree overhaul of recipes from abroad and made sourdoughs fit for the Philippines.
A good thing that came out of the coronavirus pandemic is that it gave birth to new business ventures that adapted to present needs and demands. In the food industry, new and innovative ideas emerged. Delivery became a must, as people stayed at home. Now, virtually all restaurants and bakeshops, as well as independent sellers, are online to offer food delivery.
One business that actually started during the quarantine was Otter Breads. Co-owned by Paula Ferrer and Bianca Termulo, Otter Breads was born in March, following the enforcement of the stringent enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.
Running a tour operations program for various food, art and coffee crawls in Metro Manila before the lockdown forced them to stay home, Paula and Bianca were used to the availability of good bread any time they needed to buy some. But in the first two weeks of the ECQ, they had a difficult time because most of their sources were closed and they did not particularly enjoy eating commercial bread sold in grocery stores.
With a survival mindset and to pacify their own cravings for good artisan-style bread, the two ladies decided to craft their own breads. With lots of time at home, they dug deep into the science of making sourdoughs.
“It was extra challenging because most of the tutorials or demos we found online were done mostly in cold countries, and temperature affects the quality of yeast and the way it ferments. So, we played around with it and adjusted key elements. We tweaked, revamped and conducted a 180-degree overhaul of recipes and made sourdoughs fit for a tropical country like the Philippines,” explains Bianca.
When they were ready with their sourdough bread, the two women took photos and posted them on their personal Instagram accounts. Friends asked where they bought the bread, and when they said, “We actually made this,” someone suggested that they start selling it.
When they did, friends began ordering, and from their circle of friends, they moved on to sell to their community and nearby villages. Soon, the demand started to pick up, and the ladies decided to put up a social media page and have a reference name for it.
“We wanted our name to be something adorable, comforting and easy on the eyes. We thought of otters and named ourselves Otter Breads Sourdough,” says Bianca.
Why sourdough? It’s because the core of the online bakeshop’s menu consists of sourdough breads. Staples include 16-hour Sourdough Loaf (780 grams); a smaller version called 16-hour Small Sourdough Loaf (380 grams); a health buff’s choice in the 16-hour Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf (780 grams); Sourdough Noir, Tablea x Davao Dark (380 grams), which is an incredibly soft and delicious chocolate sourdough bread with lots of chocolate bits; Sourdough Sienna, Sagada, Arabica (380 grams), the coffee infused version; and Sourdough pandesal infused with Benguet coffee and cheese in half-dozen packs.
I particularly like the Sourdough Noir because I thought it would be hard and dry, but turned out soft and moist. The chocolate bits added another dimension of taste and texture to the bread.
To enhance the sourdough bread experience, Otter Breads has come up with a number of dips and spreads. These include Homemade Compound Butter of the Month, Homemade Pure Honey Butter and Organic Sea Salt, Balsamic Dip with Olive Oil x Palawan Honey, Mango Wood-smoked Bacon and House Cream Cheese, Fresh Organic Avocado Mash (which is seasonal), Scone Cream, Pangasinan Garlic Confit in Olive Oil and Herb and Brown Butter, mostly in 85-gram servings.
What sets Otter Breads’ menu apart, however, is the interactive or DIY offerings on its menu. One is the Fluffy Sourdough Pancakes batter that comes in a 400-gram tub. It is already a batter, so when you get home, you can cook up some mean pancakes any time you want. Using one-fourth cup as measurement for the batter, one tub can make you five to six fluffy pancakes.
There is no way you can mess it up because the batter comes with instructions to cook the pancakes over medium low heat with some butter for two minutes per side. When refrigerated, the batter can keep for three days.
The other one is Sourdough Pizza Blobs, which you can buy in pairs in a 360-gram tub. With these ready-to-bake blobs, you can make your own professional-looking pizzas.
For a business that was born out of the pandemic, Otter Breads is very organized. Two thumbs up to the two ladies behind the brand.
A whole lot of baking is going on, and no one’s complaining.
Public health and data privacy
From the start, I have maintained that public health and data privacy are on the same side in the fight against COVID-19. They are not competing values.
This week, we once again tackled an issue we thought we had put to rest.
Certain business groups have proposed the Inter-Agency Task Force to have the Data Privacy Act (DPA) of 2012 suspended. The recommendation is the second and more formal expression against the DPA by organized groups in the business sector led by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and some of its leaders.
Note that they want to put on hold the implementation of the DPA to waive medical information confidentiality. The group raised the idea of publishing the actual identities of COVID-positive cases in each barangay, so these individuals can voluntarily come out in the open and be isolated in quarantine facilities.
From the start, I have maintained that public health and data privacy are on the same side in the fight against COVID-19. They are not competing values where one must give in to the other. Our mantra on personal data use in this pandemic is simple: Collect what is minimum necessary but disclose only to proper authorities. Firmly, the DPA is not a hindrance in responding to the pandemic, especially in conducting contact tracing, for as long as the use is necessary, appropriate and proportional.
The claim by these business groups that waiving patient confidentiality by publicly identifying them will improve contact tracing efforts is unfounded.
Publicly naming an infected individual is equivalent to putting a person’s life at risk, given the physical assault and discrimination which suspected or confirmed individuals had experienced.
COVID-infected individuals were driven out of their rented homes; many were refused entry to their communities.Also, fearing possible harassment and stigma, people may hide their actual conditions, leading to lost opportunities in tracking the disease and contact tracing. The proposal is counterproductive, will not result in better contact tracing, and will put more lives, especially of frontliners, at risk. Businesses should have given careful thought to these factual narratives before releasing statements against the DPA.
Moreover, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, countries that are curbing the spread of the new coronavirus, did not have to suspend data privacy rights to succeed in their pandemic responses. Instead, they explored what is possible within the bounds of their privacy laws. They worked with it and not around it.
With no data privacy statute like ours, Vietnam never resorted to publicly identifying COVID-positive individuals. The personal data they disclosed were the COVID-19 Case ID, patient gender, patient commune (equivalent to the barangay), province and city, and where and how they contracted the virus. With such information, a member of the public is not able to identify the COVID-infected person. Vietnam’s contact tracing app Blue Zone asks the least permissions from users, same as Singapore’s.
Sensitivity to the citizen’s privacy expectations paid handsomely in earning the people’s trust in their respective COVID-19 responses, specifically, in contact tracing.
Thirty-seven million Thais downloaded Thai Chana, Thailand’s web and mobile-based contact tracing app in the first three weeks of its introduction. The state-owned Krung Thai Bank developed it. It collects a person’s mobile number and can only be accessed by proper government authorities. Thailand’s privacy law won’t take effect until May next year.
We reiterate that the call to put the DPA to a pause is anti-poor and unmindful of prevailing science and ethics.
We have put measures in place to effectively balance privacy rights and the free flow of information for contact tracing, the guidance for which we at the National Privacy Commission consistently provide to the public. Let us stop romanticizing voluntary disclosure as a heroic deed. There is no need to put more lives at risk.
La Collina hosts Carlos Celdran tribute
The event, strictly by reservation, features acoustic sets by Jamie Wilson and Nino Mendoza.
La Collina, a restaurant in Poblacion, Makati specializing in Spanish and Italian cuisine, will host a tribute to cultural activist-performance artist Carlos Celdran with an event dubbed “Remembering Carlos: Sunset Serenade,” featuring acoustic sets by musicians Jamie Wilson and Nino Mendoza, on 10 October.
Carlos died on 8 October, 2019 in Spain.
“We were very close,” La Collina owner Anita Celdran said of her cousin Carlos, recalling the years they would see each other when she was taking up masteral studies in environmental policy at Duke University in North Carolina and he was enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design. Anita was living in Washinton DC when Carlos moved to work in New York City.
“I guess he was inspired and influenced by my activism,” she told Daily Tribune.
Anita is an advocate of environmentalism.
The idea of celebrating the life and times of Carlos came when Anita was planning to bring back the gigs that made La Collina —– which had been drawing the dinner crowd —– an even more popular destination.
Aside from their love of food, Celdran family members are associated with music. In the 1970s, Anita herself sang with the band Mother Earth. A sister, Zenaida, was one of the organizers of the Philippine International Jazz Festival, and also sings occasionally. Another sister, Sony, is married to veteran musician Colby dela Calzada.
The gigs at La Collina were remarkable for their mixed genres —– one night there would be jazz, another night, the blues, and classic rock on other nights.
For “Remembering Carlos,” Anita invited Jamie and Nino to perform acoustic sets. Jamie and Carlos had been schoolmates at Colegio San Agustin.
The event is strictly by reservation and will accommodate only 30 to 40 people in compliance with health and safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Anita said that La Collina never really closed even during the Luzon lockdown in March. The restaurant’s cook couldn’t go home to the province and agreed to stay in La Collina. Anita asked some of the wait staff to stay in, too.
The arrangement allowed her to open La Collina for delivery and takeout during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila.
Anita said she was glad that the restaurant’s regulars, as well as first-time customers, had been ordering via Lalamove.
At present, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Last week, I visited La Collina to try its new dishes. “These are not on the menu yet,” Anita said, referring to the lasagna and rack of lamb that was prepared that night.
The lasagna, round-shaped and served on a hot plate, tasted great without satiating the palate. “I made the pasta from scratch,” Anita said.
Taken with red wine, the dish brightened the evening.
La Collina, 4634 Molina St. Poblacion, Makati; tel. 0945-3065673; 0947-3986425.
Huwag mahihiyang magtanong
So, you see, Rep. Wild, we tend to believe that your proposed measure is just a product of your ignorance.
Has Susan Wild, like Leni Robredo, been living under a rock?
From all indications, judging by her decision to file that controversial bill in the United States Congress, she indeed has.
Susan who, you might ask.
Susan Wild is the Democratic Pennsylvania Representative who threatened to suspend American security assistance to the Philippines until supposed reforms in the military and police to end human rights abuses are instituted.
Revolting is how we would describe her proposed Philippine Human Rights Bill, which also cited the country’s newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Law as just an excuse for the government to launch repressive measures against opposition groups.
The title of the proposed measure alone is already an affront to the independence of what is supposedly a sovereign country like ours.
Among the conditions she cited as possible reasons to deny assistance to our uniformed personnel is their involvement in human rights cases against militant groups, media workers, members of the LGBTQ community and other critics of the Anti-Terror Law.
Yeah, right. As if the United States is the bastion of all that is right and just.
Obviously, Wild is not fully informed of what’s happening in the Philippines. Had she bothered to do a little research, she should have known that a number of policemen and soldiers have already been kicked out of the service and charged for grave abuse of indiscretion.
The military drive against such scalawags is properly documented and the victims don’t necessarily have to be activists or media workers. A victim is a victim regardless of his or her stature in life. A good example of such a case are two provincial policemen who are now in detention for the rape-slay of a teener.
Actually, Wild doesn’t have to go far in looking for abusive police or military men. She only has to look at her own backyard to learn that American cops have a worse record than ours as far as being trigger-happy is concerned.
She only has to look at the agitation of Black people, some of whom fell victim to police brutality and racial injustice to the consternation of members of the Black Lives Matter movement. The group includes celebrities and NBA basketball stars who have launched one protest after another following the deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser and Breonna Taylor, among others. They all died at the hands of eager-beaver American cops.
Truth to tell, from 2014 to 2019, some 6,557 have been listed as victims of trigger-happy US policemen, 25 percent of which are African-Americans.
If Wild is referring to arms assistance which the US has plenty of, it perhaps would do the good lawmaker to know that President Duterte has already indicated before that he’s willing to look at the direction of Russia or China in the procurement of arms for the military modernization. He said we don’t need the US.
If she is referring to the withholding of military donations, go ahead. The Philippines can very well purchase such equipment rather than be a puppet of these Yankees. As Mr. Duterte had brazenly indicated before, “We are no longer vassals of any other country.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto has a point when he said that if ever this controversial Wild measure is passed, it’s probably time to reassess the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States. What’s the use of having it, he said, if there are strings attached to any American help?
Senator Panfilo Lacson has also gone on record to say that the US aid to our police and military is not going to be a big loss, because the terrorism that they are battling has no known boundaries anyway.
So, you see, Rep. Wild, we tend to believe that your proposed measure is just a product of your ignorance. But to hear reports that you were coaxed largely by Filipino-American groups seeking to oust President Duterte and install a pro-US administration really sends our imagination wild.
She should have asked first. There’s nothing wrong in asking.
As that other Susan, a local actress and wife of a local cinema icon, would say in her generic drug commercial, Huwag mahihiyang magtanong (Don’t be ashamed to ask).
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