March 29, 2011

Bravo, LTB Philippines!

FINALLY, some good news in our part of the world!

The LTB* Philippines Culinary Team won the Bronze Medal at the 2011 Oceanafest Culinary Competition in Perth, Australia on March 23, 2011 with a Filipino-inspired menu prepared by Team Captain Ariel Manuel, Garry de Guia, and Ruel Tiquis of Lolodad's Cafe and Brasserie 6750, Pastry Chefs Jasmin Magallanes and Cyrile Ermita of Enderun Colleges, supported by Fernando Aracama and J. Gamboa.

The team's menu prepared in four hours at the Perth Convention Center was served to 86 persons was very well received and offered diners the refreshing & unique flavors of Filipino cuisine using Australian seafood, lamb, vegetables and dairy products.

(Roasted saddle of lamb w/ shiitake crepinette and caldereta sauce. Photos courtesy LTB Philippines.)

Head judge Otto Weibel was all praises for the team's Mussel, Yabbie and Broccoli Terrine, the crispy Sweetbread-Rice "Lumpia" and the perfectly cooked Saddle of Lamb. While esteemed Australian pastry chef Brendan Hill was very impressed with Chefs Jasmin Magallanes and Cyrile Ermita's Spiced Infused Pineapple in Yogurt Mousse on Coconut Dacquiose dessert. (Weibel is the Director of Kitchens at Swissôtel The Stamford & Fairmont Singapore, while Hill is a foremost pastry expert in Australia, and once captain of the Australian Culinary Olympic team.)

The dishes whipped up by our kick-ass chefs were:

Shellfish “Pesa” 

Seared Scallop, Blue Crab Fritter with a Mussel, Yabbie & Broccoli Terrine
in Light Ginger-Lemongrass Broth & “Tahure” Tomato Relish

Roasted Saddle of Lamb with Shiitake Crepinette and “Caldereta” Sauce,
Sweetbread-Rice “Lumpia”, 
Baby Cos Lettuce with Chorizo Stuffing,
Vegetable “Atchara” & Garlic Foam

Spiced Infused Pineapple in Yogurt Mousse
on Coconut Dacquoise, Basil Syrup & “Mascuvado Latik”


(Seafood Pesa in Light Ginger and Lemongrass Broth)

Props also goes to the team's sponsors: ESV International, Ajinomoto Philippines, Werdenberg International Corporation, Alternatives Food Corp., Wine Warehouse, Chef Revival, Meat & Livestock Australia, Unilever Food Solutions, Enderun Colleges, Julabo, RainPhil, San Miguel Lifestyle Brews, Singapore Airlines, Wuesthof, Vulcan Resources and Premier Events Plus Group. Special thanks to Shirlyn Lao & Peter Atsaros of Austral Pacific Exports and the Hyatt Regency Perth for all their support in Perth.

The Gold medal was awarded to Singapore while the Silver went to Hong Kong. There were seven National Teams that competed in the 11th Oceanafest Culinary Competitions.

Chefs Ariel, Garry, Ruel, Garry, Jasmin, Cyrile, Fernando and J. (LTB Philippines Culinary Team 2011) wishes to thank everyone for their support and good wishes!

(Spiced Infused Pineapple in Yogurt Mousse on Coconut Dacquoise)

(The LTB PH Culinary Team - from left: Cyrille Ermita, Jasmin Magallanes, Garry de Guia, Ruel Tiquis, with Team Captain Ariel Manuel.)

Congratulations, Chefs! ;p

*Les Toques Blanches (LTB) is the premier chefs association in the Philippines and is a member of the World Association of Chefs Societies.

Reflections on Japan

(A massive tsunami destroys many homes in Japan. Photo from Reuters via

MORE than two weeks after the dreadful event, we are still gripped by the images of destruction and devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

They were like disparate scenes from some disaster movie—skyscrapers swaying as the ground beneath shook, people inside offices trying to steady themselves and the precious equipment around them, and oh that horrible, horrible wave of dark water rushing like some evil giant monster eating up farms and obliterating homes and buildings that stood in its path.

We have been moved with sadness and empathy at the many lives that have been lost, grieve with the people shown going back to what used to be their homes just smashed into a pile of toothpicks, and wait for every update on the Dai-ichi nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, which has been battling a possible meltdown.

Once in a while, there is some rejoicing. We applaud as we watch news footage of families finding each other after the calamities, and thank God for those who have miraculously survived and have been rescued from their homes.

I just cannot help but admire the Japanese and their grace—as one reporter dubbed it—through their suffering. They remain calm and composed through it all—not stoic as some foreign parachuting journalists aver (the Japanese do cry, you know)—and wait until they are attended to.

In each place gravely affected by the twin calamities, victims were even quick to apologize to rescue workers about being “a bother,” encouraging the latter to take care of other victims who may require more assistance than they.

Even in urban areas which were only slightly affected by the earthquake, there was no mad rush to get ahead of the line when buying groceries at the few remaining open supermarkets. There were no complaints that food, water and fuel had to be rationed due to supply disruptions.

And always, the respect for other people’s properties remains. There was neither looting nor stealing just to ease one’s discomfort.

GMA News TV’s Chino Gaston, who has so superbly documented his experience amid the devastation in Sendai and his observations of the Japanese as they try to recover from the disaster, tells of the time he innocently asked his local driver if it was possible to siphon the fuel from the ruined cars strewn about by the tsunami. I suppose it was because their own service vehicle was running low on gas, and they still had a long way to go.

It was a smart suggestion, actually, and a typical reaction in our neck of the woods. But in true Japanese fashion, Gaston’s driver said he wanted no part of it as he didn’t want to go to hell. (I could imagine the driver saying something like that around here, and getting a tongue-lashing from his amo in the process.)

(A family in Japan tries to pick up the pieces of their lives. Photo from

When they did finally run out of fuel, the local driver remained behind as Gaston transferred to another vehicle. The driver, like his other countrymen, probably waited until rescue workers came along, or walked to look for a place to get some gas. He probably did not even bother to lock the car, the thought of anything inside being stolen not even occurring to him.

And although a recent piece in a Japanese newspaper did report on one bank losing its money to thieves because the tsunami destroyed the building and its security system, I believe this was more an anomaly than the norm in that country.

What kind of people are they, these Japanese? Already hurt and in dire need of rescuing, they still think of others first before themselves. It just hurts to see them behave this way.

It hurts because it puts most of us to shame. I am embarrassed to say that if I probably ever find myself in the same situation as the Japanese, I will probably do everything to get my family and myself saved by rescue workers first.

I will use all my family connections, as well as my media and government network to get the food, the water and the fuel for my family to survive. We absolutely cannot go hungry and cold in such a time.

No one wants to suffer. And no one wants to suffer any more than one’s neighbors, when placed in similar dire straits. So, yes, selfish as it may sound, pretty much everyone around here would probably react similarly in stressful situations that threaten one’s survival and that of one’s family’s welfare. The one overriding impulse would be to save one’s self.

I don’t ever wish for something like what happened in Japan to happen to us. I fervently pray all the time that our country be spared such horrendous suffering, because our country not only does not have enough resources to rebuild, but I don’t think my family and I will actually survive a disaster like that with our sanity intact.

I wish we were all wired the same way as the Japanese. Just look at their elderly who have lost their families. They are still talking about rebuilding their lives! Such serenity and hope.

We could do well to emulate them—these superhumans. But I am realistic enough to know that when push comes to shove, it will probably be every man for himself around here. I just hope I am wrong.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was originally published on March 25, 2011.)

March 24, 2011

RIP Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor, the actress who dazzled generations of moviegoers with her stunning beauty and whose name was synonymous with Hollywood glamour, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. She was 79.

In a world of flickering images, Elizabeth Taylor was a constant star. First appearing on screen at age 10, she grew up there, never passing through an awkward age. It was one quick leap from “National Velvet” to “A Place in the Sun” and from there to “Cleopatra,” as she was indelibly transformed from a vulnerable child actress into a voluptuous film queen.

In a career of some 70 years and more than 50 films, she won two Academy Awards as best actress, for her performances as a call girl in “BUtterfield 8” (1960) and as the acid-tongued Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966). Mike Nichols, who directed her in “Virginia Woolf,” said he considered her “one of the greatest cinema actresses.” (Click Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011
A Lustrous Pinnacle of Hollywood Glamour, NYT
for the rest.)

(Interestingly enough, the writer of the above obituary of Taylor has already been dead for the past six years, according to the L.A. Times.)

The first Elizabeth Taylor movie I ever watched was Cleopatra, which co-starred her great love Richard Burton. It was one of those old flicks shown on Ch. 9 during the Martial Law years. She was such a great beauty, so lovely and powerful she fit the role of the Egyptian pharoess to a T, while Burton was oh-so-ruggedly handsome. Any discussion or writeup of either two wouldn't be complete without mentioning their love affair that got them condemned by the Vatican, and their twice-over marriage (and divorce).

But their love was just "too big too last", according to a story in Vanity Fair, and one of my favorite pieces ever written on their relationship.

In fact, you might say there were two marriages: the ballyhooed union of Liz and Dick and the private marriage of Elizabeth and Richard. More often than not, Liz and Dick overwhelmed the private marriage, holding it hostage and ultimately helping to derail it. Many who knew of Burton's meteoric rise through the ranks of London's West End felt that the Welsh actor had entered into his affair with Elizabeth Taylor with impure motives—a chance to seize greater fame through his liaison with the most famous actress in the world. If so, he quickly found himself utterly bewitched. In scores of letters and notes he wrote to Elizabeth over the course of their marriage, Richard poured out his infatuation, love, and need for her, how he had discovered in her the embodiment of all the women in Wales he had loved or lusted after, from his sainted sister, who had raised him, to the dark-haired “tarts” he knew as a randy youth in the Welsh towns of Pontrhydyfen and Port Talbot. “My blind eyes are desperately waiting for the sight of you,” he would write to Elizabeth well into their marriage. “You don't realize of course E. B. how fantastically beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness. Your breasts jutting out from that half-asleep languid lingering body, the remote eyes, the parted lips.” (Read VF for the rest. There are a lot of other great Taylor-Burton stories in the mag, now available online, such as When Liz met Dick. Also check out The Queen And I, which is about the late author Dominick Dunne's friendship with Taylor.)

Sometimes her ethereal beauty just seemed to overpower the screen, making the audience forget how great an actress she really was. And those mesmerizing violet! she was just so lovely to look at. Check out VF's slideshow here.

But she was indeed one of the best actresses in Hollywood - even Paul Newman, her co-star in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (one of my favorite Taylor movies!) thought so. He pays tribute to her in a Turner Classic Movie bit in 2007, just a year before he passed away.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth Taylor. We will always remember you with great joy and much affection.

March 23, 2011

Ayaw paawat! (Update on the goings on in Brgy. AAV)

ON March 19, Saturday, a hearing was finally conducted on the controversial ordinance of Brgy. Ayala Alabang prohibiting pharmacies within said barangay from selling contraceptives to customers who don't have a doctor's prescription.

According to former Rep. Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa City in his blog The Way It Is, both groups supporting and opposing the ordinance were given time to air their views. According to Biazon, after all the arguments were made, it was pretty clear by the end of the hearing that barangay council should withdraw the ordinance.

However, proponents of the ordinance are up to new tricks, if rumors are to be believed. Biazon also presents the reasons why their new tactics would not, or should not succeed.

In his blog, Biazon says supporters of the ordinance now want to employ the People's Initiative so it can be directly passed by the voters of the area and instituted as law.

"...Republic Act 6735 known as the Initiative and Referendum Act... provided the mechanism on how citizens can 'directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body'.

"Under the said law, any registered voter of may exercise the power of initiative and referendum for laws or ordinances within their jurisdiction. That is, any registered voter may exercise the power to pass a national law or a registered voter in a particular barangay may use the power of initiative and referendum for a barangay ordinance.

"It is this power which proponents of Barangay Ayala Alabang Ordinance No. 1 is rumored to be planning to employ. With the strong possibility that the barangay council will withdraw or water down the ordinance because of the iron-clad arguments against it, they are looking for ways to circumvent the barangay council and hopefully pass the ordinance through their direct action." (Read the rest here.)

Meanwhile, in the interest of fair play, I'm posting the statement of Msgr. Ernesto Joaquin, parish priest of St. James the Great in AAV, kinda explaining why they had to use the Masses on March 6 to distribute petition papers asking for parishioners to support the barangay ordinance.
St James the Great Parish's Statement on Brgy. Ayala Alabang's ordinance vs condoms

March 21, 2011

How to train a beauty pageant candidate

SUMMERTIME usually heralds the beginning of the beauty-pageant season and what could be more prestigious than the Bb. Pilipinas contest? No doubt, all gays and dolls will be glued to their TV sets on April 10, eager for the parade of gorgeous Filipinas who will have a shot at becoming a future Ms. Universe or Ms. International.

One of the usual sidelights to these beauty contests are the grammatical boo-boos and diction-challenged statements of some candidates. Fortunately, over the years, these slip-ups have become fewer and far between.

For the past 17 years, the Executive Training Institute of the Philippines, local franchise holder and sponsor of the Dale Carnegie courses, has partnered with the Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. to help train the contestants how to answer questions appropriately and project themselves better. Carnegie, of course, is the renowned author of the bestselling self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People, and had introduced in 1912 out of a YMCA a public-speaking course and taught students how to express themselves better by gaining more self-confidence. It has since grown into an encompassing training program for leaders.

I sat with ETIOP president Bienvenido Policarpio recently to talk about the girls’ training, and other Dale courses that can help managers and business executives motivate their staff better, make presentations, push sales, etc. Some of their graduates include Tony Tancaktiong, president of Jollibee Foods Corp.; Mariano Que, founder of Mercury Drugstore; Ambassador Francisco del Rosario; former senator Freddie Webb; the late industrialist Enrique Zobel; and actress and social worker Rosa Rosal, to name a few.

Abroad, Dale graduates include Chrysler’s Lee Iaccoca, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Walmart’s Sam Walton, hotelier JW Marriott, cosmetics entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash, actress Isabella Rossellini, Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosalos, etc.

For the Bb. Pilipinas, training at ETIOP begins when the 24 semi-finalists have already been chosen. These three half-day intensive sessions are conducted in the areas of personality development, confidence building, answering questions in the Q&A portion, as well as human-relations skills. “The training will help the 24 semi-finalists get equal and better chances to prepare for coronation night. These are long sessions where we see how they move, speak and project themselves. We correct them, especially their diction, because this is usually the first thing that is noticeable,” Policarpio explains. ETIOP also trains the winners who will represent the country in the Ms. Universe and Ms. International pageants.

The 24 semi-finalists of the Bb. Pilipinas beauty pageant 2011 pose for photographers by the swimming pool of the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza. (Photo by Nonie Reyes, BusinessMirror)

How difficult is it to train beauty contestants? What’s the most difficult part of training them?

Generally speaking, it depends on their educational attainment and the provinces they come from, although it’s true, just because someone is in college, it doesn’t automatically mean their thought processes and articulateness are better than someone who is, say, in high school. Also, depending on whether the candidates live in urban or rural areas—it is easier sometimes to correct the diction of someone who has spoken a wider amount of English than someone who has spoken in her dialect most of her life.

What areas do you focus on when you train them?

Usually it’s three things—thought processing, thinking globally and verbal expression. Thought processing is the ability of the candidate to understand the question asked in context; to see the nature and intent of the question as it is asked; and to give the answer in the full satisfaction of the intent. For thinking globally, some contestants have a parochial way of thinking, so we need to be able to make the candidate understand that the issues raised are for a global audience. Then we teach them to express themselves with clarity, and in proper grammar and diction.

Have you come across candidates or titleholders who just don’t get it, and you were close to giving up?

Yes, there have been a few. It depends on how the person was brought up, the educational background and the environment she grew up in. For example, the way she speaks and certain terms she uses, for example, jologs siya magsalita. Because of the limited exposure and educational attainment of the candidate, many of the terms she uses or the attitude she projects are acquired through experience and the exchange of ideas in that environment she grew up in.

But we believe that everyone is “trainable”, so to speak, as long as one is willing to learn and put her heart and soul in the training.

Is there a way to turn them around?

Yes, by being able to install formulas and mechanisms in the candidate that allows them to quickly give sensible and seemingly intelligent answers to the question which includes quotations, experiences, history and analogies.

Because of the Venus Raj “major, major” incident, there have been calls for our girls to bring interpreters to the international beauty pageants. Your thoughts?

As far as I’m aware of, we cannot do this. The Philippines is identified as an English-speaking country, so our candidates to these international pageants cannot bring interpreters, unlike the ladies from non-English-speaking countries.

Even if we claim, for instance, that our country is no longer an English-speaking country and we would like an interpreter for our candidate, there are many events and social gatherings leading up to the coronation night where the candidates are observed closely by organizers, judges and even the media.

So it would be easily found out whether our candidate is conversant in English. In any case, we train the girls as hard as we can, and if their schedule permits, we do this every day before they leave for the international pageant.

ETIOP trains the 24 Bb. Pilipinas semi-finalists in interpersonal and relationship skills, how to project themselves better, and answer questions appropriately. (Photo courtesy of ETIOP)

Honestly, did you cringe when you heard Venus’s answer?

If you look back at the questions asked of the candidates before her, all were answerable by either “yes” or “no.” Her question was a bit more complicated, requiring some introspection that, even for us, will probably take more than the required 30 seconds to answer. If you saw that US news video on YouTube right after the coronation night, even ordinary Americans couldn’t answer the question—“What is the one big mistake that you’ve made in your life, and what did you do to make it right?” The question required recollecting, selecting through your memories, sorting, then finally choosing.

Another thing is, the hardest to recall is a mistake. The mind normally rejects it. Even if you do manage to recall a mistake, can you do it in three to four seconds, and would you be willing to divulge it in front of millions of people who are all strangers? Would you be able to live it down if you actually disclosed the big mistake? Basically what Venus did was try to “bridge” the moment. While she didn’t really answer the question directly, she gave an answer with all enthusiasm, with a smile, in proper grammar, without stammering or “fainting” at the question.

Can you say that most of the candidates you’ve trained have benefited from the Dale training?

Yes, before the Dale training, many candidates took too long to answer. They were not spontaneous, had no thinking formula, had little or no sense of the global environment, and used common language and not politically correct terms. Dale changed that as they went through the training.

For example, this well-known candidate, before her Dale training, she used to stutter during the Q&A portion and she took too long to answer. After Dale, she showed improvement in the way she answered questions during the international competition she joined. She did not stutter or lose her poise and was able to answer the question right away. And as you can see, quite a few have made an impact in the international pageants by either winning the title itself, or at least placing among the runners-up.

How can others benefit from enrolling in a Dale course?

There are several courses that cater to the different requirements of managers, chief executives, sales and marketing staff, etc. We customize the training module for participants. There is one for every need—is it assertiveness you need? EQ? Enthusiasm? Habit? What industry are you in? Are you in the food industry? Hotel? Airline? Manufacturing? There is a training module for every need, industry, executive level. We’re here to train leaders and future leaders on how to behave in public gatherings, how to make sales pitches, how to manage staff, and also public speaking.

What’s your most popular course?

The most popular course especially among supervisors, managers and some executives is the basic Dale course for Effective Communications and Human Relations. This course helps participants strengthen interpersonal relations, communicate clearly and concisely, tackle complex challenges with confidence, move beyond their comfort zone, as well as control worry and manage stress. Other courses include Leadership Training for Managers; High-Impact Presentations; and Sales Advantage.

Local companies and organizations whose executives and staff have already benefited from our Dale courses include: Nokia Phils., Globe Telecom, Jollibee, Caltex/Chevron, San Miguel Corp., Sun Life of Canada, Texas Instruments, Federal Express, Dole-Stanfilco, the US Embassy, Pryce Waterhouse, etc.

*For training inquiries, call ETIOP at tel. nos. 687-2482 up to 84, 632-7719, 638-4780, 633-7995.

(This is the unabridged version of my column, Something Like Life, published on March 18, 2011 in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. The column is published is every Friday.)

March 15, 2011

Will we survive a major earthquake?

THE news and images from Japan after it was hit by a massive earthquake then a tsunami continue to trouble us. Of course, this again brings up the question if we would survive an earthquake of such a proportion if it happens here in the Philippines, specifically Metro Manila.

In 2004, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is one of the most generous sources of grants for the Philippines, made a study along with the Metro Manila Development Authority and Philippine Volcanology and Seismology on what areas are most vulnerable to earthquakes. The study found that an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude would damage 38% of residential buildings, 38% of mid-rise buildings (below 30 stories), and 14% of high-rise buildings (30-60 stories).

The following is an executive summary of the study:

Earthquake Impact Reduction Study for Metro Manila 2004

As per the letter of Architect Jun Palafox included in above document, he recommends 60 measures to mitigate the impact from potential disasters like an earthquake, tidal wave (tsunami), and other natural calamities. These include drawing up of disaster preparedness/crisis response plans, preparation of hazard maps, securing open spaces, creation of disaster-proof zones, designation of evacuation sites, to name a few.

Architect Palafox first sent his recommendations to former President Arroyo, after the Typhoon Ondoy disaster in Sept. 2009, but I suppose with so few months left in her term, no action was taken on Palafox's recommendations. He again sent the above document to President Noynoy Aquino right after he got elected, but according to Boo Chanco's column, Architect Palafox has yet to receive a response from Malacañang. (Many thanks to Mr. Chanco for sending us a copy of the study and Palafox's recommendations.)

Let's hope this Japan tragedy spurs our gov't leaders, esp. PNoy, to take action on these recommendations.

Btw, for those seeking more info on the Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, click the Google Crisis Response site here.

March 13, 2011

To be understood as to understand

(The bullies in the pulpit - St. James the Great Parish in Ayala Alabang. Photo from

REGULAR readers of this space know I am a keen supporter of the consolidated reproductive-health (RH) bill still pending in Congress. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives again failed to take it up it in the plenary session on Tuesday, ironically the 100th year of International Women’s Day.

The anticipated heated debates on the pending bill has already been foreshadowed by a controversy earlier this month in, of all places, barangay Ayala Alabang. As per news reports, the barangay council, chaired by businessman Alfred Xerez-Burgos Jr., issued an ordinance banning pharmacies within the barangay from selling contraceptives to customers who don’t have a doctor’s prescription. Frequent readers of the BusinessMirror probably know Xerez-Burgos Jr. as the founder and vice chairman of Landco Pacific Co., which built the Punta Fuego properties.

Many of the privileged residents of the barangay have found the ordinance an “invasion of one’s privacy,” as one friend put it on Facebook. Also laughable. Because if one just crosses the Alabang-Zapote Road away from AAV, a resident can already purchase contraceptives from a gasoline station and nearby drug stores. Residents also joked that the security guards at the village entrances would now be inspecting their cars to check if they were smuggling in condoms.

Kidding aside, while the Muntinlupa City Council’s Committee on Health and Sanitation has already shot down the controversial ordinance, the barangay officials and the Catholic clergy that support it are not giving up.

Last Sunday some priests at the St. James Parish Church in AAV “condemned” parishioners who didn’t support the barangay ordinance. According to friends who attended Mass at different times, the priests “abused” the Homily to promote the ordinance, and asked parishioners to sign a petition papers supporting it.

Allegedly in some Masses, there was even a PowerPoint presentation outlining the fine points of the barangay ordinance, pressing the use of the term “abortifacients”. Apparently, the barangay council members equate “contraceptives” as “abortifacients.”

(An abortifacient terminates a pregnancy by ridding a fertilized egg from a woman’s uterus. A contraceptive, on the other, prevents the female’s egg and the male’s sperm from meeting, or prevents a woman from ovulating. There is no “life” created, so there is no abortion. Many Filipinos understand this distinction so unsurprisingly; in a Pulse Asia Survey published in December 2010, 7 out of 10 respondents approved of the RH bill and favored contraceptives.)

After the PowerPoint presentation, some speakers were paraded in to give testimony to the value of being “pro-life.” During one Mass, I am told, a young woman said her mother had been told to abort her baby because there was a chance it would be born with an abnormality. Her mother rejected the doctor’s advice, and that baby turned out to be normal—it was the young lady giving the testimonial. But as one parishioner told me, “I didn’t really see the point of her testimonial, since nobody is calling for legalizing abortion anyway.”

Needless to say, many parishioners were upset that the Mass was used to perpetrate what appears to be an illegal barangay council ordinance. It was bad enough that the ordinance was forced down the throats of AAV residents without even the benefit of actual consultations with them.

One friend protested on his Facebook status: “[I] can’t believe that the Mass was used to promote the barangay ordinance banning the sale of condoms without prescription during the homily, then a petition asking for signatures was distributed to the people. Most didn’t sign and...most seemed irritated. In another Mass, I don’t know if it’s true, but word has it that the priest said that if you did not agree with the ordinance, you are cursed. Unbelievable.”

Apparently, this really happened. According to the blogger Gela, who publishes Lorem Ipsum and goes to the said church: “An hour had already passed, thanks to the long, highfalutin speech of the priest who insisted that if you did not agree with that ordinance, you are ‘cursed’. Yes, those were his words. He was even so defensive at first, saying that he wasn’t twisting the homily to fit a discussion on the ordinance.”

Another churchgoer told me that during the 7:30 pm Mass she attended, “a good number stood up to go to the toilet. And a lot [of parishioners] just left the petition paper on the pews without bothering to pass it on.”

From another resident: “I also didn’t agree for them to use the Mass to push what is now, because of their action, a political issue. I also resented them asking us to sign in the middle of the Mass, what in effect was a CYA [cover your ass] document for them.” It appears the barangay council didn’t conduct any public hearings on the said ordinance, or if they did, there were not many residents who knew about them.

One friend who serves at the church added: “My point is that it shouldn’t have been done in church and during the Mass. If they wanted to discuss it, do it at town hall meetings, wherein all parties can talk and give feedback....For me, I just wanted to serve [in the Mass], but instead, I get condemned for having a different point of view. It was really done in bad taste and bad faith.”

All these reactions show just how distant some Catholic priests have become from their flock. They don’t know their parishioners well, otherwise they wouldn’t have even tried manipulating the homily to suit their purpose, which was, in effect, to oppose the RH bill. (The Catholic clergy only endorses natural family-planning methods, which has already been proven unreliable especially for women whose menstrual periods are irregular.)

It is during times like this that Catholics like me become disappointed with the Church and the religion we love, because its representatives seem far removed from the principles and values espoused by Jesus Christ, which are love, charity and faith. Love your enemies. Be charitable to people who don’t see your way. And have faith in your fellow men, because the Lord understands each one’s choice in life.

I completely understand where the Catholic clergy is coming from. They have a job to do, and I respect their beliefs. I just wish they respected ours. To curse their flock for not supporting their viewpoint, however, is not exactly being Christ-like.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was published on March 11, 2011. Photos from various sources on the web.)

March 10, 2011

Fil-Am dancer gets an 'Izzie'

THIS is a story on my Auntie Baby (Josefa Reyes, aka Josefa Villanueva), my father's younger sister, who has been a ballet dancer most of her life. She lives in Sta. Clara, California where she continues to teach dance to young kids.

I just love her photo in the paper - every inch the ballerina.

For almost 40 years the Santa Clara Ballet has been an integral part of the South Bay arts scene, thanks to the dedication and perseverance of the company's founders, Josefa Reyes and her late husband Benjamin Reyes.

The Reyes' hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based Isadora Duncan Dance Awards – the "Izzies" – Committee honored Josefa Reyes with its Sustained Achievement award … for offering instruction and training in classical ballet and …performance opportunities for children and Bay Area professional dancers."

Originally from the Philippines, Reyes danced and taught ballet in San Francisco in the 1960s. Her background includes stints with the Celeste Ballet of San Francisco, the San Francisco Opera Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. (Read the rest in the Sta. Clara weekly.)

The Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, or the Izzies, is one of the most coveted dance awards in the US. The Sustained Achievement award recognizes "outstanding contributions spanning ten or more years in any field of Bay Area dance, including teaching, choreography, performance, writing, photography, visual design, music, support services, administration, etc." The awards will be handed out on March 14, 2011, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission Street at 3rd in San Francisco, California.

When I was little, and my Auntie would come home from the States, she would always encourage my cousins and I to continue pursuing ballet, especially when she found out we had been slacking off. I suppose at such a young age - I was dancing til I was 8 or 9 years old - I didn't understand what ballet dancing could give me. Discipline.

I guess it was discipline that helped her cope with her busy schedule - dancing regularly and working at another job to pay the bills, when she and her husband Uncle Benny+, were just trying to carve a niche in the States. I remember that one of her earlier jobs was as a telephone operator.

Every Christmas, it is my Auntie Baby who sends the earliest Christmas cards to the family. She really knows how to manage her time. She said her Christmas greetings were early bec. she was already about to start her ballet kids' rehearsals for the Nutcracker Suite. Not a year would go by that the Santa Clara Ballet School didn't mount the Christmas ballet production. It was always the culminating activity of her ballet school, which all kids and their excited parents looked forward to.

We're very glad she got an Izzie because she and Uncle Benny, have really worked hard to train so many kids in their area, encouraging their love of dance. Many them have gone on to successful dance careers.

Congratulations Auntie Baby! We're very proud of you!

Rail stories

WHENEVER I go to my appointments at the Ortigas or Makati CBDs, I always take the rail.

Most of the time, the ride is a breeze, except when it’s rush hour. Then I can hardly find a seat, and I’m squeezed in by other passengers and their humongous bags or backpacks, barely breathing.

Or before the ride, the security guards at the station entrance will make a grand display of their so-called beefed-up security (three dutdots of the magic bomb-detecting drum stick inside one’s bag instead of the usual two), which only happens for a month after a bombing or some terrorist threat, and there’s a long queue of commuters ahead of you.

I like riding the rail despite these few inconveniences because it’s fast, not having any Edsa traffic jams to contend with, and it’s a cheaper commute. It also gives me time to indulge in my favorite pastime—fantasizing that I live in New York (cue in Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” here), and I’m riding the subway, on my way from my apartment in Brooklyn (which is beside a kosher deli—I’m obsessed with Jewish neighborhoods, so sue me!) to my office in Manhattan. Or I’m in Singapore on my way from my hotel to a shopping expedition along Orchard Road.

Whatever the fantasy, it always has to be in a First World country where my fellow commuters are chic fashionistas who get in and out of the train in an orderly fashion—no pushing, please!—and speak in English or some foreign language I barely understand. (I sometimes have a Tokyo variation or London script.) All this time, of course, I’m listening to my Madonna playlist on my phone (or Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, depending on my mood), and I’m in the zone.

Along with my excursions into Lala-land, I also like watching my fellow commuters, observing what they’re up to, to pass the time away.

There’s often the young lady in a blue dress with white hemming, in thick beige stockings shod in black sandals—a sales clerk of one of these huge department stores.

She manages to squish into the very tight space in the passenger seat, and I notice that her long rebonded hair is still wet, probably after having shampooed it with Pantene or some such shampoo that promises straight locks that shine.

She has green eye shadow. I don’t know why all the female sales clerks of this department store seem to have a preference for that color. Then she starts putting on her lipstick—why didn’t she do that at home since she did manage to put on her eye color?—and then some blush.

If it isn’t the green-eye shadowed salesclerk, there is also the hefty lesbian in a checkered polo (sometimes with the rolled-up sleeves, or sometimes in short sleeves), in jeans, with her feet shod in monstrous gray or blue sneakers. (Perhaps, she is going trekking in the hinterlands or off to a marathon?)

It never fails to amaze me that most rail-riding lesbians will insist on being classified as female when it suits them, although in the normal course of their lives, they insist on acting like males, and are often more masculine than real men. They will get into the train designated for the ladies, pregnant women and senior citizens, and use their bulk to elbow their way to any available space on the passenger seats. Uunahan ka pa! These lesbians have never once offered me a seat, unlike the men on the few occasions that I find myself in the latter’s designated carriages.

Then there are the one or two men who obviously do not look anywhere near 60, but somehow manage to sneak into our carriage, pretending they are seniors. (Only men will pretend to be old to get a good deal. Women will always pretend they are younger than they really are.) It’s a good thing that these men don’t scramble for seats and try to edge out the real seniors and the women. Often they slip into our train just to take advantage of the roomier space.

An annoying facet of the MRT-commuting life is having to hear one-sided conversations by some passengers shouting into their itty-bitty Nokias. I don’t know what possesses women to carry on long conversations over their cell phones—yes, it’s mostly women who do this—when, gathering from the one-sided discussion, you can tell it’s not even an important call, just plain tsismis.

One time I was seated at the men’s section, a woman launched into this very loud conversation over her cell phone. Ten minutes later, she was still on the phone, and perhaps because it was so early in the morning, a few men collectively shouted at the woman to shut up. I could only manage a snicker—I’m sure the chatty woman made the men think they were back at home with their nagging wives, instead of escaping to the office!

Speaking of the men’s section, I am told by some gay friends that despite their feminine inclinations, they just love being in the designated male trains, especially when it’s sardine-packed during rush hour. Hmmm...I wonder why? ;p

I have also noticed that in the few times that I’ve had to ride in the men’s carriages, there seems to be a lot of cute or smoking hot guys between 9 and 10:30 am. I don’t know why that is. And they seem to cut across income levels—there are the dudes who are off to their Makati offices, dressed in their long-sleeved polos and dark slacks, uniformed staff of some food or clothing chain, and just very ordinary types in their striped collared tees, jeans and basketball sneaks. And the college students! Ooh-lala. Just the kind that can bring out the cougar in any aging matrona. Rowr.

But after 11 am, forget it. All we get are long-haired-feeling-I’m-a-rock-star dudes, balding men, those aging or unkempt with huge backpacks (yes, they’re the guys who usually hold up the security queues), and a number of loser types. There are also a handful of who are job-hunting—probably at call centers—I can tell because they are in a “spooting” mode. But I did feel the strongest urge to tell one kid last Tuesday that a striped colored long-sleeved polo over black pinstripe pants will fail to impress the HR head. Oh wait, maybe he was going on a date. Ach!

But I like riding in the men’s trains sometimes, because more often than not, they do offer me a seat. I actually find it surprising that in this day and age, there are still a few good men who do this. Maybe I remind them of their sweet lolas or indulgent mothers, hehehe.

I have observed, however, that if these men are with their girlfriends, they won’t get up and offer any woman their seat—no, not even to pregnant women or seniors. They are just stuck there, butt firmly kissing their seat, holding hands with their girl. I often wonder how they would feel if their girlfriends remained standing the entire trip and not one man offers her a seat. I mean, I’ve seen fellow ladies stand up for other females, especially for the pregnant mommies and grannies. I also get offered a seat by other gals when I’m struggling with a lot of shopping bags and I’m in my heels, or lugging my laptop with me. Needless to say, I usually return the favor to my sister commuters, and to seniors as well.

Soon enough, my 15- to 20-minute ride to my destination is over, and I shuffle out of the train with my fellow commuters, and on to the rail platform. Up the steps we go and through the turnstile, then out the station into our disparate harried lives.

(Originally published in the BusinessMirror, March 4, 2011. My column, Something Like Life is published every Friday in the Life section of said paper. Photos from and

March 05, 2011

Went looking for diwal but...

WE WENT to the Dampa at the Farmers' Market this morning looking for diwal (angel wings clam), today being the second day of the 2-day Capiz Seafood Fest, but didn't find any. According to the one and only seafood vendor there, the waves were strong in Capiz this morning so divers couldn't get to the clams.

We were there at 7:30 am bec. we were told the diwal ran out quickly yesterday. When we arrived, however, there was no Capiz seafood yet, so we went to the main market instead. Good thing bec. there were great finds - and we went home with a lot of fresh seafood at incredibly reasonable prices. I just love Farmers' Market because buyers are guaranteed good deals on most purchases.

I so wanted to buy the haricort vert but they were more expensive than the ones sold at the Salcedo market. So I passed on them. But we found lovely cherry tomatoes; I'm looking forward to our green salad tonight!

Suahe cost between P400-P450 per kilo, depending on the size; mud crabs (alimango) were priced between P450-P550/k depending on the sex (babae, lalaki, bakla); Kuhol was P40/kilo w/c we had coooked in coconut milk (gata) at one of the restos in the Dampa area (unfortunately, the dish didn't taste as good as the one done by Aling Tonya's at Dampa, Parañaque); med-sized mussels at P60/k, etc.

Here are some of the products found at the market:

All in all, it was a productive morning and I didn't mind at all that we couldn't get our diwal. (I was told that yesterday, at the start of the Capiz Seafood Fest, the clams were selling for P250/k but buyers were limited to one kilo each.) But our loot today was more than enough to overcome our diwal disappointment.

Anyhoo, I understand that the Capiz Seafood Fest is just first among province-themed festivals that the Araneta Center would be mounting in the next few months. It's a great idea, so the food and products of many of the country's distinct regions can get the promotion they deserve. It makes these items very accessible to Manila-based consumers, and is a good way to market these provinces as food and travel destinations.

Lady Gaga and Baby Gaga (Maria Aragon) in Toronto

THIS was really sweet. Moved me to tears.

Congratulations to our little Fil-Canadian Maria Aragon for a beautiful performance, and big love to Lady Gaga for making the little monster's dream come true.

"Maria represents what this song is all about," Lady Gaga told the excited crowd. "It's all about the next generation and the future." (Read the rest at

Also, check out Lady Gaga's twitpic of hersef and Maria here.

Naia 3, tourism assets’ sale eyed

(Photo of NAIA 3 from Urban Monologues.)

THE Aquino administration is considering to privatize the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (Naia 3) and other tourism establishments, many of which were built under the term of the late strongman President Marcos.

In a lecture before students and faculty of the University of the Philippines’ Asian Institute of Tourism on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said government wants to fully operate the Naia 3, built by the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco), by June 2012.

“By June next year we are going to open it fully. Actually, it’s being partially operated. There is no more question of ownership; the government is owning it and will fix it, and then will privatize it….”

Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines Express currently operate out of the Naia 3. The dispute over its ownership has deterred many foreign carriers from transferring their flights there. Piatco is coowned by Philippine firm PairCargo and Germany’s Fraport AG, but the Philippine government took over the Naia 3 in 2003, on grounds that there were illegal revisions in the government’s contract with the consortium.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Lim explained that fixing the terminal will likely involve the original contractor, Takenaka Corp. Details have yet to be worked out whether the Japanese firm will undertake the repairs solely “so government will not spend,” or if the government will spend for the repairs, then bid out the management of the terminal, he said.

He said Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. (AEDC) now owned by tycoon Lucio Tan is welcome to bid again for the Naia 3 management.

When the Ramos administration raised the idea of building Naia 3 in 1996, five of the country’s tycoons formed AEDC and submitted a build-operate-transfer proposal for the project. Being an unsolicited proposal, the project was subjected to a Swiss challenge which Piatco won. Since then, AEDC has been trying to claim ownership of Naia 3.

Meanwhile, other tourism establishments owned by the government through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (formerly the Philippine Tourism Authority) set for possible privatization are the Banawe Hotel and Youth Hostel in Ifugao, Balicasag Island Dive Resort in Bohol, Gardens of Malasag Ecotourism Village in Cagayan de Oro, MacArthur Park Beach Resort in Leyte, Club Intramuros Golf Course in Manila and the Zamboanga Golf Course.

“What I’d like to do is to privatize, not compete, with the private sector in running tourism resorts. Before, President Marcos set up the Philippine Tourism Authority, which set up the AIT, in order to get its job started, built resorts in Banawe, in Bohol.

“But the government is not good at running a business. So I think, we can get enough visitors. If we don’t market it properly or aggressively or readily, this is not financially viable, or the government keeps subsidizing [their operations]….That’s why we have to privatize some of the assets that we have. The government should play an enabling role, not competing with the private sector,” Lim stressed.

(Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim addresses faculty and students of the UP-Asian Institute of Tourism. Photo by AIT.)

He said the Department of Tourism (DOT) would be speaking to the Department of Finance regarding the procedures to privatize the government-owned hotels and resorts.

“My goal is to sell these assets by 2016, and raise funds for the government,” Lim said.

He added the DOT will also conduct a “highest invest-use study” for these assets “to get maximum returns for the government,” before they are sold.

There has yet to be an assessment how much these DOT assets are worth, which is needed so a floor price can be set before these are privatized.

In his lecture, the Tourism secretary also outlined the strategic directions to enable the country to reach the Aquino administration’s targeted 6-million tourist arrivals by 2016:

Prioritizing tourism infrastructure, and connecting destinations by an improved road network as well as airports;

Diversifying tourism products by and “go beyond the sun and the sea,” e.g., nature, culture, adventure, sports, health and wellness, retirement, and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions);

Encouraging investments in accommodation facilities, tourism enterprises zones;

Upgrading standards for accommodations and services on a par with international standards;

Implementing a focused and sustained international and domestic promotion program in existing and emerging markets via travel fairs, road shows and missions; traditional media, and new media (Internet, social networking, etc.); and

Engaging various sectors (e.g., national government, local government, private sector, nongovernment organizations, academe and local community) in tourism development.

“We are a country with many young people who don’t have jobs. So instead of exporting our young people abroad, why don’t we bring the old people of different countries here, and we can give them care?” Lim asked, in suggesting that the Philippines offers itself as a retirement haven.

While MICE is an old product, he added that the Philippines has lost its “competitive edge” in this category vis-à-vis its other neighbors, such as Malaysia and Singapore.

“We used to be No.1 in MICE. In the 1970s, we were No. 1 in conventions. We built the PICC [Philippine International Convention Center], and continue to pay the interest and loans, we became good at hosting meetings. So we were able to pay off the interest…. I want to go back to MICE [because] this is one of the high-value areas of the market. The MICE visitors pay a lot of money, stay longer, go into convention tours, stay in five-star hotels and do a lot of shopping.”

(Originally published in the front page of the BusinessMirror, Feb. 25, 2011.)

A little night of music

With musical director/ conductor Conrad Diez, the John Van De Steen Male Choir and Ave Maria Male Choir sing Broadway show tunes and popular songs in Encore!, a reunion concert at the UP Abelardo Hall in Diliman, Quezon City, on February 20. (Photo by Resty Maglalang)

LAST Sunday (Feb. 20, 2011), the entire family watched the reunion concert of the John Van de Steen Male Choir and the Ave Maria Male Choir USA at the Abelardo Hall of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. It seems the reputation of these choirs among music-loving Pinoys is far-reaching that the venue was packed to the rafters.

The Ave Maria Male Choir is no stranger to me as they had sung at my sister’s wedding some 30 years ago. As the story goes, they were a bunch of little boys who grew up in the poblacion of Makati, my then future brother-in-law included, and sang as “tiples” (sopranos) during Holy Week and Christmas at the St. Peter and Paul Parish Church. You could say they were Makati’s version of the Vienna Boys Choir, with their angelic voices lauding the Lord’s infinite blessings or beseeching His forgiveness for our sins.

As they boys grew up into young men, they became known as the Ave Maria Male Choir, and sometimes joined in the performances of the Manila Cathedral Choir founded by the late Rufino Cardinal Santos and trained under the Belgian priest Fr. John Van de Steen. One particularly memorable achievement for its members was when they collaborated and won the choral group contest of the then-popular noontime show Student Canteen.

But life eventually intervened, as it usually does, and the men went their separate ways, many concentrating on their respective careers and growing families. Only a handful actually continued to sing professionally.

Fate, though, has a funny way of bringing people back together, and some of these very same men found themselves singing for the Lord again. Many of them now make up the John Van de Steen Male Choir, which has helped revive the Latin Tridentine Mass, first at the St. Jerome Emiliani and Sta. Susanna Parish Church in Alabang, and, lately, at the Church of St. Therese in Newport City at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. JVS has since been touring around the country performing for different audiences and, recently, in Macau on the invitation of the Philippine Consulate.

Sunday’s concert began with various church hymns by the JVS, their divine voices transporting the audience into a state of grace. Particularly moving was their rendition of Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria (Angelus Domini),” the best-known work of this German composer which recently regained prominence when it was made part of the repertoire of the Chanticleer, the world-famous male a cappella group.

In the second part of the program, now joined by the AVM’s foreign-based members who came home for this reunion, the men strutted their stuff singing pop songs and Broadway show tunes. Carl Antolin, an AVM alumnus now based in London and veteran of Miss Saigon at West End, particularly rocked the house with his witty rendition of Fiddler on the Roof’s “If I Were a Rich Man.” With his foot stomping and shoulders a-shaking, he out-Tevyed Topol’s Tevye. (Equally outstanding soloists were Doodz Policarpio and Oscar Palabyab, the former tourism undersecretary.)

The last part of the program was devoted to popular Filipino love songs like the swoon-worthy “Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin,” ditties (“Talusaling/Ikaw ang Mahal Ko”), ending in the patriotic “Sa Mahal Kong Bayan” (Lucio San Pedro), a particular favorite of the late Fr. Van de Steen.

Despite the now-disparate lives of these men and the many oceans that separate them, it was wonderful to watch how their love for signing continues to bind them. It was certainly one of those rare lovely nights when we could just shut off all our worldly worries and relax, surrounding ourselves in delightful melodies.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was published on Feb. 25, 2011.)

Are we nurturing a generation of pussies and wusses?

IF you’re a cooking-show addict like I am, I’m pretty sure you’ve been glued to your TV screens lately watching Junior MasterChef Australia.

More than the amazing culinary creations these group of seriously kick-ass kids have been able to whip up, I also watch with amusement at how the four judges try not to crush the little spirits of those cute kids, even though they are possibly choking on the dishes served!

I keep half-hoping that one of the judges would actually call out a terrible dish for what it really is (a la Chef Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Nightmares), instead of just saying, for instance, “wonderful presentation!” or “good job”, without even explaining why it is so. You can certainly tell how the judges actually feel about the dishes because they effusively praise the ones they do enjoy.

But they’re kids, you say. You cannot make them feel bad about themselves, so you can’t tell them their dishes stink. But being diplomatic doesn’t mean one should lie to them, because that’s not how it works in the real world. Bosses will actually tell you your work sucks, and you need to revise it, and will not sugarcoat it in so many words.

So why tippity-toe around the truth when it comes to children? I’ve always believed that we owe it to the younger generations to prepare them for their future, which certainly isn’t about lollipops and sugar-plum fairies.

These days, parents and even teachers always seem too preoccupied about not hurting their children’s self-esteem. There is too much positive encouragement and reassurances, but not enough of the plain truth, however negative it may be.

Back in the day, even in nursery school or kindergarten, we either got a star (if we aced a project that day) or not. If we didn’t get it, then we tried harder in the next project to get one. These days, the kids are all given stars just for their effort alone. What kind of message are teachers sending their kids? That they are doing great even when, say, they don’t get their alphabet right or are not counting numbers 1 to 10 correctly?

It’s not that I’m trying to channel the heavily criticized Amy Chua, the Filipino-Chinese-American author of the controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and advocate calling children “garbage” if they don’t do their homework or projects well. It’s just that I think many parents and teachers have gone too soft on the kids. Telling them to “try your best” instead of “you can do it better than everyone else,” and you end up with two different types of kids.

In the former, a child doesn’t become goal-oriented, and instead condemns them to an eternal life of excuses, e.g., “I tried my best.” In the second, a parent infuses the child with confidence, that he can beat the odds put against him. I think the latter kind of attitude-formation toward work or play makes the child strive more to be successful. After all, in the real world, results count. Employees are rewarded for their output, not for “trying their best.” It’s a cold harsh fact, and overprotecting one’s kids from that kind of reality is preparing them for a life of fantasy. (Just look at all the crazed contestants on American Idol, hahaha.)

While parents don’t need to go overboard and apply the Chinese mothers’ prescription for nurturing their kids (study, study, study!), there has to be a return to tough discipline—the kind that made our parents and grandparents all strong and resilient in the face of extreme challenges like, yes, the Japanese Occupation! I wonder if kids these days would be able to be withstand their car breaking down in the middle of Edsa without throwing a hissy fit.

If he isn’t doing well in his school work, then drill him ’til he gets it right, no matter how long it takes. It’s a way of teaching the kid not to give up, and letting him experience the satisfaction of success when he does get it.

There must be a return to plain honesty as well. If a child isn’t good enough to be a ballet dancer, or a singer, then tell them and interest them in some other hobby perhaps. Either way, parents need to buckle up and prepare their kids for the real world.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was published on Feb. 25, 2011. Photo from