Supertyphoon “Yolanda” showed the best and the worst of social media. In the immediate aftermath, at least, there was none of the irreverent humor that Filipinos are known for, we who make fun of anything and anyone, even and especially our own misfortune. The enormity of the tragedy was such that not even the worst kibitzers on social media had the guts to post any wisecrack.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram mobilized people for assistance with speed and magnitude unimaginable until then. It was compassion, generosity and humaneness spreading with digital swiftness.
But—social media also propagated the most vicious lies, rumors and political propaganda. What I found unfair was the image post of a fleet of “US” naval craft (obviously false and a file photo) that cheered on the US for saving yet again the Filipinos. Heaping praise on, if not groveling over, foreign aid, while neglecting the Filipinos’ heroic efforts, is the kind of colonial mindset you thought had gone with the previous generations.
One more thing: Tweeting and good reportage aren’t one and the same thing. Obvious, but do people really know that? Does having to tweet constantly get in the way of accurate reportage? That dawned on me in a media luncheon where President Aquino was the guest of honor. Reporters sat before their bank of laptops, typing away—taking down notes or tweeting?—140 words max. Of course his statements came out mangled and out of context.
The Filipino generosity, compassion and human-ness during the worst of times. Yolanda brought out the volunteer in everyone—without vested interest, just the urge to help and make a difference.
While the volunteerism of the ordinary Filipino has been hailed, what hasn’t been adequately disseminated were the equally heroic efforts of the thousands of soldiers, government employees, from the departments of Public Works and Social Welfare, and the MMDA, for instance, who spent long days and nights doing rescue and relief efforts, from clearing the roads to collecting and burying the dead (a task which has yet to be completed).
Asked how they coped during and after the disaster, a DSWD employee, who sought safety on the upper floor of their building at the height of Yolanda, merely said: “We’re just thankful to be alive.”
Thriving culture scene–but forgers on the rise, too
The visual arts and theater have never been as active as they have been the last three years. Lifestyle’s Theater section (every Saturday) is gaining a sizeable following. Pinky Amador’s “Piaf” was our most stirring theater moment in 2013. Equally regaling was Arnell Ignacio in “The Addams Family.” Both were by Bobby Garcia’s Atlantis Productions. We missed Bart Guingona’s “Red,” Ana Abad Santos’ “Closer” and Joy Virata’s “Mind’s Eye.”
Art auctions and art fairs now enjoy regular frequency, the increasing participation of artists and collectors, and growing attendance.
Art forgery is on the rise now, more than ever. With the growing number of collectors—no doubt, as a result of the home construction boom—comes an increasing demand for artworks. Art forgers are getting bolder and more crude. Some even Photoshop the artist in the picture, showing him or her with the artwork, obviously to prove that he/she is validating the authenticity of the work being peddled.
Buyers and collectors of paintings must make the effort to study the art and the artist they are buying so they don’t fall prey to forgers.
Bad road conditions, and defiant spirits
Unregulated buses, jeepneys and motorbikes. These make for random deaths. Transport regulation is almost nonexistent, controlled no doubt by endemic graft and corruption.
“Wang-wang” habits die hard; they’re almost in the Filipino DNA, thanks to generations that have come to accept “trapo behavior” as the norm. One still finds vehicles with plate numbers No. 8 or No. 11 parked in Loading/Unloading Only zones, waiting for their privileged passengers. This, in a country whose President has seen it fit to use ordinary license plates.
Friends who are cancer-stricken yet are not only surviving, but are moving on. Lifestyle writer and copy editor Alya Honasan is one. “Cancer isn’t getting this bitch,” she says.
GMA National Artist awardees invalidated…
By Lito Zulueta
THE SUPREME Court voided in 2013 the controversial 2009 proclamations of the National Artist Award by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of comic-strip artist and film director Carlo J. Caparas, and theater artist Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, who didn’t pass the legitimate selection process and whose proclamations were considered “midnight appointments.”
Voting 12-1-2, the high court declared as invalid Proclamation Nos. 1826 to 1829 issued on July 6, 2009, by Arroyo proclaiming Guidote-Alvarez, Caparas, Mañosa and Moreno National Artists “for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion” and ordered that the proclamations be set aside.
The high tribunal was acting on the petition for prohibition filed by a group of National Artist laureates—writers Virgilio Almario and Bienvenido Lumbera, sculptor Napoleon Abueva and painter Arturo Luz.
The petitioners as well as other artists questioned the proclamation of Caparas since he didn’t draw his comic-strip novels and he directed movies that were gratuitously violent and sensational.
They pointed to conflict of interest in the case of Alvarez since she was executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and presidential adviser when the proclamation was made.
Also voided were the National Artist proclamations of Francisco Mañosa for Architecture and Jose “Pitoy” Moreno for Fashion Design.
… But no announcement yet on the new ones
A new set of National Artists has been recommended for proclamation since September, but Malacañang has yet to make the conferment.
Two conferment dates were made in November and December, but they were set aside even before Yolanda on Nov. 8. The arts and culture establishment is grumbling that Malacañang’s inability to decide on the date and stick to it shows the low priority accorded the sector by the administration.
But some are saying that the delay is understandable since the joint board of the NCCA and Cultural Center of the Philippines, which made the final selection, has recommended a big batch of nominees and Malacañang is closely reviewing their qualifications.
It is said Malacañang is especially worried about one nominee who has a history of drug use and gambling, among other controversial vices. Although the National Artist award is given based on artistic merit, some sectors say that the nominee’s moral fitness should also be taken into account, especially since National Artists are supposed to be exemplars of the best of the Filipino and given central honors in official state functions.
Widespread damage to cultural landmarks
The Oct. 15 earthquake and the November Yolanda/ Haiyan supertyphoon brought down several ancient Catholic churches that are considered cultural and historic landmarks.
The earthquake destroyed the Church of San Pedro Apostol of Loboc, one of the country’s oldest churches and declared a National Cultural Treasure (NCT). Other Bohol NCT churches were also heavily damaged—Baclayon, Loon, Dauis, Maribojoc and Dimiao.
Two churches set to be declared NCTs by the National Museum prior to the earthquake were also severely damaged—Loay and Cortes. In Cebu, the belfry of the Basilica Minore de Santo Niño de Cebu, a National Historical Landmark, was toppled.
Meanwhile, Yolanda made its first landfall in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, sweeping off the town and heavily damaging the Church of the Immaculate Conception, one of the oldest churches in the country and particularly known for its inlaid shell décor. The church is on the tentative list of new Unesco World Heritage Sites.
International help on heritage rescue
Despite the overwhelming damage, experts from here and abroad have come together to rescue the heritage structures. A Unesco team that inspected the sites said it was “stunned” by the extent of the damage wrought by the earthquake and the typhoon.
Said Aparma Tandon of the Rome-based International Center for the Study and Preservation of Cultural Property: “We have been to other disaster areas before but we were stunned by this tragedy in Guiuan. It was shocking. Everything seemed to be flattened. But the people have faith, and that helps their strong resolve to restore patrimony, icons and buildings. This is heartening.”
New theater companies enlivening the scene
By Gibbs Cadiz
LOCAL THEATER continues to thrive, even expand, with newly formed theater companies getting off the ground this year and enriching the scene with their maiden offerings. You might call them the “indie” brand of Philippine theater—scrappy undertakings independent of the usual big leagues like Repertory Philippines, Peta, Tanghalang Pilipino, Atlantis Productions or Gantimpala Theater, offering fresh material or at least fresh takes on old tropes.
Red Turnip, a theater company formed by five accomplished actors, said it wanted to stage “the kinds of productions that are in short supply in the country: contemporary straight plays, modern stories with an experiential angle, challenging material with a potential for adaptation…” That it did with its inaugural production, Patrick Marber’s “Closer.”
Three other newbie companies went the typical musical route, but rather than relying on Broadway material, chose the riskier game of commissioning original Filipino work, and the results were more than auspicious for first-time productions. Culture Shock Productions’ “Sa Wakas” showed how a good jukebox musical could be done, Bit by Bit Company’s “Maxie The Musicale” thrilled audiences with a high-spirited adaptation of a beloved indie film, and Green Wings Entertainment Network’s “Lorenzo” offered a high-concept take on what would otherwise be prissy “religious” material.
With other productions like The Necessary Theater’s “Red,” World Theater Project’s “The Maids” and Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Euridice,” these alternative fare provided interesting counter-programming to the prevailing mix of Broadway musical imports and socio-realist productions that has often defined Manila theater. More participants joining the fray can only mean more choices for the theater-goer—and that’s a prospect deserving a big thumbs-up.
MMFF sinks even lower
Just when you thought the Metro Manila Film Festival couldn’t go any lower, it did this year with a top-grosser that, in the words of ClickTheCity.com’s resident reviewer Philbert Dy, is “an insult. We have plenty of films that are bad, but it is the rare film that seems to show contempt for its audience.”
The film is “My Little Bossings,” and what’s terribly disappointing about it, as many others have also pointed out, is that it’s barely even a movie and more like an extended advertisement for the roster of products its producers (Kris Aquino, Vic Sotto) and stars (Bimby Aquino, Ryzza Mae Dizon) endorse.
“It doesn’t even attempt to hide the product placement within the context of a plot-driven scene,” said Dy. “Apparently, the film thinks that its audiences don’t deserve the effort to at least blunt the sting of overt commerce.”
Or, as Lourd de Veyra wrote in a hilariously pained open letter to “Bossing” Sotto on Spot.ph: “Hanggang ganito na lang ba?… Hindi kami nagbayad ng P220 para bentahan ng pancit canton, tinapay, sabong panlaba, cough syrup, at kung ano-ano pang produkto ang ine-endorse ninyong dalawa ni Kris Aquino. Ganoon na ba kayo ka-desperado? Hindi naman siguro.”
Guess who the director is? Marlon Rivera, the same guy who directed the Cinemalaya hit “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank,” which in part was a sharp satire on the very sellout cinema he has apparently committed with “My Little Bossings.”
The jurors, however, seemed oblivious to, or perhaps in agreement with, such mediocrity. The so-called movie won “3rd Best Picture” in a field of eight entries—none of them, admittedly, anywhere near the towering film output that made the MMFF such an important cultural event in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s way overdue to retire this carnival of a festival.
Volunteerism and Pinoy generosity at their finest
By Alya Honasan
THE OUTPOURING of pre-Christmas goodwill for Yolanda victims—thank God for all the groups, associations and self-propelled networks—including the incredible people behind Villamor school bus service Oplan Hatid, which morphed into Oplan Trabaho—that made it easy to decide what to do with one’s Christmas budget.
From cash and food packs to boats and even housing materials, the many permutations of what you could give made opening your heart a no-brainer. So if you still threw a lavish party or blew thousands on firecrackers this New Year, SHAME ON YOU!
Breast cancer research and Filipino doctors and hospitals
No, this is not a paid plug, although this year, after being diagnosed with the disease, I found myself in a unique position to talk about medical care in this country.
After my diagnosis, St. Luke’s Medical Center moving force Dr. Joven Cuanang reassured me, “Don’t worry. All the doctors, all the machines, all the technology you will need are here in this country.”
And he was right. That, and the huge global advances in cancer treatment that are now available, can certainly help us beat the odds, even if there is still no cure. Plus, what can I say? Filipino doctors and nurses are the most competent, the most fun, and the most caring on the planet. Trust me on this one.
An Animal Welfare Act with bigger teeth
Finally, a small triumph for animal welfare advocates: On Oct. 3, 2013, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10631, an act amending the outdated Animal Welfare Act of 1998, RA 8485. Highlights include bigger fines and stiffer penalties for animal cruelty—and that includes abandonment, mind you, and more so if you’re a syndicate or “an offender who makes business out of cruelty to an animal.”
Implementation may be another story, but still, a law is a law. And if you’re reading this, and you’re still trading in or even eating dog meat and making disgusting crush videos, your days are numbered, you lowlife you.
Cancer–and the scumbags who want to make a quick buck from alleged ‘cures’
Advances notwithstanding, the fact is, the Philippines has the highest breast cancer statistics in Southeast Asia. Everyone knows or is related to someone who has the disease.
In 2014, when we’re planning trips to space and cloning animals, we still don’t know for sure what causes cancer, and how to cure it. Chemicals and stress are leading suspects, so you’d do well to avoid them. I also have a problem with supplements or “wonder drugs” with blanket claims of curing cancer, even listing such strong, highly regulated chemotherapy drugs as Adriamycin as an ingredient.
It is the height of cruelty to victimize people already suffering from a grave disease. That being said, I believe in alternative treatments, and there are many powerful ones out there. Acupuncture and juicing have worked well for me, alongside my chemotherapy. Please just don’t fall for anything in a bottle that calls itself a surefire, 100-percent cancer cure, because no such thing exists yet.
Killer buses from hell
Every Metro Manila driver who puts his/her life on the line every time he/she backs out of a garage has these killers to fear and blame, and rightly so. Jeepney drivers aren’t saints, either, but through sheer bulk and destructive power (especially at 120 kph), speeding buses are way more lethal.
After the Don Mariano incident—a bus flew off an overpass, for crying out loud—it behooves authorities to regulate this industry, and get both incompetent drivers and irresponsible, criminal bus companies off our roads before they murder any more innocent people. The real Don Mariano, whoever he is, must be turning in his grave.
Fashionistas who still don’t have a conscience
Yes, I will say it, year after year, until they get it through their dense, vapid heads: Fashion houses, designers and retailers who are still making bags and accessories from endangered animal skins and shells are so out of it.
One retailer Lifestyle interviewed some time back even argued that the animals they used for their bags were “sustainably grown.” So, does that mean they are “sustainably skinned,” or—here’s my favorite—“humanely slaughtered”? Isn’t that the mother of all oxymorons? Beauty without a conscience is downright grotesque.
A banner year for Pinoy beauty queens–but where are the Filipino designers?
By Alex Y. Vergara
THE YEAR 2013 was a banner year for Filipino beauty queens who either won or landed as finalists in their respective beauty tilts. That not a few of them did this despite wearing so-so gowns by foreign designers makes their achievements all the more admirable.
But shouldn’t international beauty pageants be an extension also of Filipino creativity and ingenuity in the field of fashion? Fashion may be universal, but no one knows what works better for the Filipino woman than a brilliant and seasoned local designer.
Bane in the condo boom
Are we really running out of space or is the current condo boom a simple case of greed among property developers and various city governments?
It seems everywhere you go these days, there’s one or two residential towers being built in Metro Manila. Some projects even come with malls right next to schools and residential communities with narrow and limited road networks.
We’re all for better and supposedly more affordable housing options, but not at the expense of zoning laws. Just imagine the traffic and environmental impact these buildings would create once they’re all up and running.
Media and conflict of interest
It took a foreign journalist to teach members of local media a lesson in delicadeza and conflict of interest.
When a veteran Filipino broadcaster lambasted on her radio program an American broadcast journalist for reporting the lack of government presence in Tacloban three days after Supertyphoon Yolanda devastated the coastal city, the American had this to say in his succeeding report: “I don’t know if she has (gone to Tacloban), but her husband is the interior minister and I’m sure she can arrange a flight.”
If there’s one lesson this virtual exchange has generated, it’s that no one, not even journalists, are exempted from observing delicadeza and steering clear of such age-old societal ills as conflict of interest and nepotism.
Fashion for charity
Who would have thought that something as seemingly whimsical and flighty as fashion could be a dependable instrument in generating substantial amounts of money for charity?
As “Filipino para sa Filipino,” an unprecedented gathering of more than 100 Filipino designers and their creations in one show, once more proved, fashion is still a force to reckon with in galvanizing people’s support in the aftermath of natural disasters such as Yolanda.
Philippine ethnographic art on exhibit in France
As Sen. Loren Legarda, Senate committee chair on foreign relations, noted, it took the French to “teach us how great we are” by mounting a three-month exhibit dubbed “Philippines: Archipelago of Exchanges,” at the Musée du Quai in Paris.
Considered as the biggest collection of pre-colonial Filipino artifacts ever assembled, the once-in-a-lifetime experience featured an extensive collection of bulul or wooden rice gods, royal finery, everyday objects and gold jewelry sourced from various museums and private collections the world over.
It took Frenchwoman Constance de Monbrison, the exhibit’s curator, and her Filipino counterpart, anthropologist Corazon Alvina, former director of the National Museum in Manila, five years to borrow and beef up available artifacts.
The exhibit, which ended in July, was funded by the French government, through its ministry of culture.
It was one way for the French to pay homage to Philippine arts and culture, which, unlike those of other Asian countries, are little known in France.
Pope Francis’ call for a more caring Church
Is the Roman Catholic Church starting to go soft on such divisive issues as artificial forms of family planning, divorce, married priests, women priests and even gay marriages? Perhaps not in another 2,000 years.
But if the recent stance of Pope Francis is any indication, the Church seems poised to undergo a radical shift away from sweeping dogma and toward a more personal and inclusive form of Christianity that seems more concerned with inequality than questions on sexuality.
Although the Pope, Time’s Person of the Year, didn’t say it, his call for priests not to get bogged down by details by focusing more on the bigger picture that unites all Christians is seen by many as the beginning of a more open, compassionate and, yes, universal Church.
The so-called “Pope Francis effect,” a spike in church attendance even in secular Europe, seems to bear this out.
By Cheche V. Moral
THEY MAKE it in the papers and glossies often for what they’re wearing, the parties they throw or attend, who they’re rubbing elbows with. Little wonder some quarters view them as vacuous and shallow.
But we have to give it to many of the fashionistas we cover on these pages: When their countrymen needed their help, they rolled their designer sleeves up and delivered. This was the case for the stylistas-slash-volunteers who put together fund drives and helped in the relief efforts for the victims of the recent natural calamities, the earthquake in Bohol and Supertyphoon Yolanda.
Such was their zeal to help that we feel compelled to give them a free pass for bringing along their own uniformed yaya to the Villamor evacuation site—to fan them from the heat, hoist an umbrella over their heads, or even just carry their purse.
Low-key partying, or none at all
If there’s one thing Filipinos love, it’s a good party—singing, dancing, eating and drinking. And to give up that one time in the year to let one’s hair down is, without a doubt, a huge deal. Many offices canceled their Christmas parties this year, opting instead to donate the budget to Yolanda aid.
We also know of many companies who chose to hold low-key events as compared to the usual big-budget affairs. (You mean no “Globe vs Smart” launch of the iPhone 5S? That’s right.) Small sacrifices to express oneness with those who have lost so much more, but are no less commendable.
People over the age of 14, give the selfie a rest. Only a supermodel can look good literally rolling off of bed. Keep that in mind the next time time you point your iPhone to your face even before you’ve washed off the rheum from your eyes.
I get the healthy self-esteem bit, but really, nobody really wants to see your gnarly toes or your brain through your nostrils—every single hour, everyday. It’s your right to take the photo, but social media won’t crash if you skip the incessant sharing part.
PR gifts and journalistic hypocrisy
“Journalists” posting photos of—and gushing like paid hacks over—PR gifts they receive, on social media. It’s bad enough that you accepted the gift, but to brag about it on social media—then question bloggers’ similar practice? Pure hypocrisy. Where’s the ethical and moral ascendancy there?
Taking a photo–and missing the moment
It has become our compulsion to whip out our smartphone cams whenever something is happening. While photographing and capturing an event via video preserves it for posterity, we end up being absent from the moment as we’re preoccupied with recording it for a later date.
How could you have properly enjoyed your preschooler’s singing onstage when you were caught up on keeping the iPad steady—and picking a fight with the parent in front whose Samsung Note is blocking your footage? How did you like Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” when you first saw it at the New York MoMA? You don’t recall because you were more concerned on having your photo taken with it in the background.
For the things that truly matter, we always need proof that we were there than actually being there.
A new take on multivitamins
By Anne A. Jambora
THANKS TO Dr. Paul A. Offit’s op-ed last June on the New York Times, “Don’t Take Your Vitamins,” we now think twice before popping megadoses of supplements. When it comes to vitamin supplements, more is not necessarily better. More, in fact, may even be dangerous; it may increase risk of death and heart disease.
Offit hypothesized that large quantities of supplemental antioxidants may cause “the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction.” While this is still unsubstantiated, note, too, that Offit also wrote that multivitamin supplements are not recommended for “otherwise healthy” people.
That means that people who are on restrictive diets, vegans, the elderly, those regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol—simply put, those prone to vitamin deficiencies—will still need supplementation.
Increasing availability of organic produce
Not everyone can afford them, but it’s good to see that Filipinos’ demand for organic produce is slowly rising. There are more varieties today on the grocery shelves compared to five years ago, when organic veggies were limited only to, well, carrots and a handful of green leafies.
Today, if you missed the weekend market for your supply of organic greens, you can always rely on the grocery store to carry a decent variety.
More information on food supplements
The Philippine Society of Medical Oncology this year released a study on supplements that work best for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Patients can finally make informed decisions.
We learned, for instance, that some supplements not only have insignificant or no effect, but others may actually progress the cancer. Among these is guyabano. Known as Brazilian pawpaw, guyabano is confused with the pawpaw tree Asimina triloba (annonacaeae), also called the North American pawpaw. Asimina triloba, a fruit that resembles guyabano, is proven to shrink tumor even after the first treatment.
Kids in high heels. Seriously?
It’s cute to see little girls mimicking their moms by wearing their dresses, makeup or shoes, but the picture leaves a disconcerting aftertaste when mommy’s Mini Me is seen walking on the street in kiddie high heels. Let children be children. There will be plenty of time for high heels when they grow up.
One time, while waiting for the Christmas light show to start at the Ayala Triangle Garden, we saw a child no more than 8 years old wearing heels. In her arms was another child, about 3 years old, also in heels. That can’t be right.
Parents, if you must make children wear heels, bring along flats for them to change into once the heels become uncomfortable.
Unregulated ‘natural’ or ‘alternative’ treatments
It’s about time “natural” or “alternative” treatments were regulated by the Bureau of Food and Drugs Administration. To date, there is no efficacy or safety data available on them.
More and more people turn to natural remedies, thinking they’re healthier and/or cheaper than conventional medicine. But if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past few years, choosing to go the alternative method has sometimes proven not to be safe at all.
Phones all over the gym
Stop taking your cell phones to the gym. There should be a policy imposed by gym operators on cell phone usage while working out. Sharing your thoughts or your breakfast on the social media is fine, but we’ve already seen way too many horrid photos of girls’ (and guys’) rears in gyms posted on the social network to know that people do not respect or care about anyone’s privacy anymore.
Own or manage a gym? Impose this simple policy. It won’t kill them to be away from their phones for an hour or two.
More time–and destinations–for holiday travel
By Raoul Chee Kee
WITH SO many new travel destinations opening up, it looks like 2014 will be a year for travel. A Facebook contact has already uploaded this year’s list of official holidays while another has declared this year as his year to travel. All that’s left to do is book the tickets and hope for the best (see entry below).
This writer missed five flights in 2013. After booking weekend leisure trips to Tacloban (twice), Naga (twice) and Dipolog on different budget airlines months in advance, something would come up at the last minute and I ended up missing the flights.
Fortunately, each round-trip flight cost a little over P2,000, but still, these things add up. I won’t say I’ll stop searching for “seat sales” this year, but I hope my luck will be better this time around.
A profusion of ramen places
The growing number of Japanese ramen joints is good news for those who want to sample what the fuss is all about. For quite a while, a so-called “ramen Nazi” would only prepare a certain number of bowls at his restaurant per night and frowned upon customers who split orders or requested for takeout. Instead of frightening people away, however, he continued to attract diners. With the new ramen places, Filipinos can sample and compare. Matira ang matibay.
No to online coupon sites
This year, I’m swearing off online coupon sites that offer everything from branded bags and electronics to meals for four and salon services. Some of them may be the real deal, but most of them are duds, especially those that offer discounted meals but make the coupon holder go through several hoops before they can avail of the coupon.
After all, who has the time to call and reserve a day in advance, when dining out with friends is often a spur-of-the-moment thing? If it’s as good as cash, why can’t we use it on Sundays or holidays?
Disorganized media events
When did the term “intimate gathering” mean hundreds of people and when did a “one-on-one” interview include several publications at one time? It’s appalling how some publicists don’t seem to know what these terms mean or are aware but prefer to use them loosely. A refresher course might do the trick.
Culinary industry lends a hand
By Vangie Baga-Reyes
PEOPLE IN the food industry came up with various ways to extend help to Yolanda victims. While some groups gave cash or solicited cash donations, some chefs created special menus or dishes, the sales of which went to different relief organizations and the Philippine Red Cross.
Many culinary schools and food establishments also held numerous soup kitchens on the disaster sites, while hotel and restaurant employees contributed part of their salaries and bonuses to donations that were collected through salary deduction, or through “pass the hat.” Nothing beats the Pinoys’ bayanihan spirit.
Tonkatsu, ramen, cronuts–take your pick
The ramen craze continues. More ramen houses are mushrooming everywhere with each place promises to take one’s ramen experience to the next level. Whether Tokyo-style or Kyushu-style, a bowl of tasty, piping-hot ramen (either soy-infused, shio-based or shoyu-based) perfectly warms one’s tummy and even becomes a healthy and complete lunch or dinner meal.
Another craze we can’t get enough of is tonkatsu. More tonkatsu places have popped up in the metropolis and each one has its own version for the deep-fried, breaded pork cutlet. We like ours extra crunchy, but super tender and moist on the inside and not too oily.
Cronuts, the famous half-croissant and half-donut pastry, has gone viral since it was introduced in New York City. Local bakers have come up with better texture and flavor combinations of this sweet thing.
Celebrities as ersatz chefs
Chefs as celebrities are a good thing, but celebrities as chefs are quite disturbing as they simply make the profession seem trite and easy. Real celebrity chefs have spent long, long hours in the hot kitchen, just to perfect their skills.
Celebrities trying to be chefs simply want to see themselves—and be seen by their fans—in a chef’s jacket, and thus be talked about. Well, they should stick to show biz.
Social media, the unifier
By Tatin Yang
THROUGH EACH disaster, social media was one of the best tools around, which we all harnessed to get aid and relief to areas where it was needed.
Filipino beauties dominate
This was perhaps one of the best years in pageant history, as almost all our Filipino candidates brought home the crown and title of Miss Insert-Pageant-Here.
Social media, the vilifier
The flip side of the coin was that social media was also the lynch mob we all feared. Every misstep, every boo-boo made by anyone could be magnified, retweeted, reposted and vilified, fanning small flames into brush fires of embarrassing proportions. No one could have a bad day in public lest they end up the next YouTube sensation.
Celebrity sex scandals
Several personalities were caught with their pants down when their private home videos of their horizontal tangos were leaked online. In today’s high-tech era where it’s so easy to upload a video on the Internet that any 5-year-old can do it, if you’re hit with the urge to tape yourself while doing it, better use a vintage 8mm camera instead.
Flourishing live music scene
By Pocholo Concepcion
THE BUMPER crop of plays and musicals this year has kept Philippine theater more alive than ever.
The opening of new restaurants offering all kinds of dishes indicates that more entrepreneurs are venturing into food, and that even more people are going out to eat.
The flourishing live music scene has given local bands regular income and much-needed exposure; it has also made nightlife in Metro Manila more exciting.
Highlighting all these are the countless benefit concerts for Typhoon Yolanda survivors, most recent of which were two shows by Patti Austin, who waived her talent fees for the cause.
‘Honorarium’ for a benefit concert?
But the Yolanda benefit shows have suffered a black eye, at least in one instance, when a guest performer at the Patti Austin gigs allegedly asked for a huge “honorarium.”
Story goes that, initially, the guest singer, through her handler, agreed to perform gratis, provided that the producer pays the singer’s personal makeup artist for P30,000. Later, the handler was asking for P300,000 for the singer; after some haggling, the handler settled for P100,000.
That defeats the whole purpose of staging a benefit show.
Cheers to SM’s Elevator Girl
By Pam Pastor
SM’S ELEVATOR Girl Cheridel Alejandrino might just be my favorite personality from 2013, and not just because of her hilarious YouTube videos. She inspired me—and thousands and thousands of other Filipinos—with her cheerful disposition, her dedication and passion for her job.
She is a good reminder, in these status-obsessed times, that you don’t have to be a CEO to be proud of what you do.
Filipinos with big hearts
They shone in the aftermath of Yolanda, giving in ways big and small. Students, employees, orgs, celebrities, companies of all sizes, restaurants, malls, telcos, fashion brands—everyone found ways to reach out to those affected by the typhoon. They all make me proud to be Filipino.
These are the people who inspired us to start Inquirer Super’s Kindness Chronicles, which we intend to continue this year because we know the kindness of Pinoys goes beyond calamities.
Films like “Ekstra,” “Babagwa,” “Quick Change,” “Transit,” “Purok 7” and “Sana Dati” made us wish we could spend the entire run cinema-hopping. I cannot wait for this year’s lineup.
The death of advertising executive Kae Davantes
So brutal, so senseless.
Idiots who fire guns into the air on New Year’s Eve (and any other day, actually)
Yes, I called them idiots, and, no, I don’t think I’m being harsh. I started the year angry because of these irresponsible gun owners, especially after reading about the three-month-old baby who died after being hit in the head by a stray bullet.
Was that precious life worth the one second you felt macho when you pulled that trigger, you jerk? There are better ways to celebrate the start of the year.