Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students Exhibit at SM North Edsa (January 24, 2016)

Last January 24, 2016, Mr. Niccolo Cosme invited me to witness the launch of Chan Lim's exhibit at SM North Edsa The Block Atrium. The event marked the start of the Chinese New Year Festivities at the SM Malls. 

For the past 4 decades, Mr. Alex Chan Lim, through his endeavor called the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students, has been promoting the art of Chinese painting as a hobby and pastime for people from all walks of life. Various professionals, students, and children have spent time learning the art at his studio. This time, however, Mr. Chan Lim has set up a grand exhibit from his former students who have spent their time and effort to come up with amazing artworks. Apart from that, the Chan Lim studio also organized a Chinese painting workshop to selected members of the press who attended the event. 

Before we started, we had a sumptuous buffet courtesy of Lugang Cafe. We had some of their specialties including Xiao Long Bao,  Hot and Sour Soup, Fried fish, Cold cuts, and mixed vegetables, among others. This wonderful meal was then followed by a live demo of Mr. Chan Lim's artistic prowess. In the short span of 15 minutes, he was able to produce two mastercrafted artworks which were: a bamboo grove and a mountainous backdrop. His attention to detail and color were truly manifest when he immediately mixed various colors to produce different hues and tones. I was truly amazed as to his skill, grace, and talent. 

According to Mr. Chan Lim, he started painting when he was 11 years old. At his age, he has already become a master of the art. While he promotes Chinese painting, he claims that he doesn't adhere so much to Feng Shui. However, for the sake of conformity, he still paints certain images and figures as how they are customarily painted. For instance, fish is painted in groups of 9 while birds are painted in fours. He also stated that Chinese painting portrays objects as they are, unlike abstract art. Thus, a viewer can easily know the object that is being painted.

After his live demo, I was able to portray a few images in painting through the skillful help of some of the Chan Lim teachers. I had difficulty portraying the bamboo grove due to my unskilled hands. However, a few tries with the Chinese ink and oil pastel enabled me to create chrysanthemum flowers. Though they don't look like much, I'm still proud of them. 

Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students is located at Pasig City. For more information, you can look at their website at http://www.chanlim.com/

The story in pictures:

The Chan Lim poster

The Lugang Cafe Buffet

Mr. Alex Chan Lim being interviewed by the press

The exhibit made by Mr. Chan Lim's teachers and students

Mr. Chan Lim preparing his work

The finished bamboo grove

Making a mountain backdrop

Mr. Chan Lim proud of his work

My personal work

Sunday, January 10, 2016

UP Piccola Italia: DANTE: Unleash The Poet in You (November 14, 2015 at Fully Booked: BGC)

Last November 14, 2015, Ms. Beth Sia of Meow Pow Marketing Services Inc. invited me to witness UP Piccola Italia's event called DANTE: Unleash the Poet in You - La Settimana 2015. The event was held at the function hall of Fully Booked, Serendra, BGC at 10 am. About 15 participants from different schools and universities across the country brought out their wits, charm, and sarcasm to convey their message in the form of English or Filipino poetry. These contestants truly gave out a part of their personal observations and experiences as they discussed themes ranging from love to the upcoming elections.

With respect to the contestants, I do like the fact that they really gave it their best shot. I found the oral declamation made by Ms. Beverly Cumla of the Lyceum of the Philippines to be the most insightful and most powerful of all the contestants'. She described the typical Filipino apathy toward reforming the electoral process and our insistence to blame others for the bad leaders we have elected. I found her poetry to be very powerful due to its timeliness and its frankness. It made me think about how the deadliness of our indifference and focus on self-interest as opposed to the public good. 

The judges for this contest were Ma'am Audrey Rose Mirasol, Instructor from the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Ma'am Kristine Cabling - Instructor and Coordinator of the Italian Section from the Department of European Languages, and Sir Alessandro Iellamo - Chairman of Società Dante Alighieri.

The winners of the contest were:
3rd placer, Ivan Dhave Iwakiri from the University of Makati,
2nd placer, Simone Marie Sales from Ateneo de Manila University, and
1st placer, Beverly Cumla, from the Lyceum of the Philippines University

UP Piccola Italia's generosity was highlighted when participants and members of the audience received premium gift items as part of the raffle. They won:
1,500 pesos in cash
30 hours of Italian Language Classes with Societa Dante Alighieri
1,800 pesos worth of Cooking classes from Back of the House
3 month subscription from EXPLORE Magazine
20% idscount of "Penne for Your Thoughts" shirt of UP Piccola Italia
A Dante Alighieri Wire Clock from Maikala Concepts
An AAM23 Alessandro Wine Opener from Alessi,

None of these could have been made possible without the invaluable help of the Italian Embassy, Società Dante Alighieri, Philippine-Italian Association, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines. The program was also supported by Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City in partnership with UP Le Club Francais. Other supporters include: UP Circulo Hispanico, UP Deutscher Verein, UP EURO. Official Media Partners Include: DZUP 1602, When in Manila (wheninmanila.com), and
Mindanao Business Week

Special thanks to the sponsors of this month long celebration go to: Fedrigoni, Inc, Seda Hotels, Qatar Airways, Maikala Concepts, Trevi, Back of the House, Elberg Shipping, Mega World International, Amici Group of Restaurants, Antica Murina, RFM Corporation, SMDC, Sunny Sonny Project, CMC, Alessi, Explore Magazine, Selecta, and Sunkist.

 Ms. Beth Sia and Ms. Betsy Lavadia for the invite.

The story in pictures: 

Some of the contestants expressing their views through poetry

Sir Alessandro Iellamo - Chairman of Società Dante Alighieri giving his keynote speech

The winners of the event together with the organizers

Breakout V Party Series at Victoria Court Malate

November is a month of scares. With this in mind, Breakout Philippines, the country's leading provider of scare rooms, zombie runs, and fun-filled unique amusement activities, opened up the V Party series: Midnight Mysteries. This time, the venue was placed in Victoria Court: Malate, one of the top branches of the leading motel chain in the country. 

Breakout has been at it for a number of years already. They have mainly engaged the market through escape room games organized in Ortigas, Makati, and Quezon City. Their venture into the zombie market was also consolidated when they began organizing running events with a twist: flesh-eating zombies chasing the runners. Now, their escape room game has been transported to Manila with the help of Victoria Court.

I was brought in together with a number of people to solve the mystery of a haunted hotel room in the old Hotel Saligia. The rules of the game are simple: solve the puzzle and 45 minutes and we're free. Fail, and I and my team become trapped forever. Sounds simple, but the Breakout team have plotted lots of twists and scares to make our stay quite bone-cringing. I do like the fact that the organizers meticulously arranged the setting and gave their best in creating an atmosphere that mirrors a haunted hotel.

I'm proud to say that this time, we actually solved the puzzle. Kudos to me and my excellent teammates who were game for challenges every step of the way. I do like the fact that we played and cooperated like a highly organized SWAT Team. We all used our wits and quick thinking to reach our goals. The game was truly an exercise of a person's ability to communicate and relate with other people in times of stress and controversy. We did get a few scares, though. But that did not deter us from pushing forward.

After the event, the organizers gave us freebies and let us watch horror movies on the big screen inside the venue. They truly made sure that the contestants would enjoy the experience in their event. 

The V Party Series: Midnight Mysteries is brought to you by Breakout Philippines and Victoria Court. You can visit their FB pages at:  

Breakout Philippines: https://www.facebook.com/breakoutphilippines/?fref=ts

Victoria Court: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaCourtPH/?fref=ts


Ms. Tracey Tan of Breakout Philippines for the invite.

The story in pictures:

a dead tree with bones

some HD movies screened for visitors

The welcome poster

the props of the hotel setting

The entrance of the hotel

The organizer explaining the rules of the game

The winning team!

The haunted Hotel Saligia

The Breakout Rooms

Mesa: a taste of Filipino Fusion Cuisine (Eastwood, Quezon City)

Last December 12, 2015, Aldous Calubad the Great invited me to join him for an upscale gathering at MESA Restaurant. The venue was located in Eastwood, Quezon City. The occasion was marked by the Christmas party of Team Aldous and the food review of the restaurant. According to the owner, the restaurant is a fusion of the best dishes of Asian cuisines, with a heavy emphasis on Filipino, Chinese, and Thai specialties. He also pointed out that the restaurant is just one of his businesses on a long list of establishments. As a veteran restauranteur, he has been at the helm in managing some of the most popular franchises including Tim Ho Wan.

Seeing that the place itself speaks volumes of the quality of service and food, I was eagerly anticipating the what the establishment had to offer us. We started off with their fresh fruit shakes. I had a taste of their freshly squeezed mango juice which was on a tall glass. The taste was enough to whet my appetite for more things to come. The first meal of the entourage consisted of the Tofu Salad. At 255 Pesos, this delectable serving of tofu topped with shrimp, century egg, and basil swimming in a special soy sauce mix started off my night. The texture was more akin to a cold cut offering on the menu. Also, the ingredients never overpowered each other in any way. Each had its own unique contribution to the overall taste of the dish. 

The second appetizer was the tinapa roll. This fried bundle of goodness complemented the first dish by giving a cooked variation of a fish-based dish. Upon tasting, I could feel the excellent mix of the fish together with the salsa composed of onions, tomatoes, and garlic. This truly was an excellent complement to the fresh goodness of the earlier dish. At 195, it was pretty reasonable for 4 people.

The Hito flakes in spoon, another fish based dish, was composed of ground hito with brown sugar, chili, cucumber and green mango. This was an explosion of different tastes and flavors that was brimming with more excitement as compared to the other two. The unconventional taste of this dish made me want to taste more that this restaurant had to offer. The 195 price tag was also pretty reasonable.

The main viand was capped off by the 1/2 Cripchon. At Php 2400, this dish truly embodied the spirit of this restaurant- Filipino fusion. The lechon was fried to a crisp. The skin and meat was then rolled into dough wrappers and eaten like Peking duck. Actually the texture of the lechon plus the taste reminded me of Peking duck. Add to that the fact that the sauces were composed of a good selection including hoision, garlic mayo, and chili, you truly have one winner of a dish. I had more than 10 rolls of the crispchon in wrapper until I gave up. I took my time trying out the taste of fried pork together with all the sauces on the plates.

The sigarilyas sa gata reminded me of a home cooked favorite my parents used to cook. This one though, had high quality ingredients that made me want to crave for more. The cocount milk was evidently fresh. The same goes for the sigarilyas. Add to that the fact that the dish was spiced with chili and pepper. It truly is a godsend for those who like spicy food. The 180 price tag, was a bit pricy but still worth paying for. Another variation of the vegetable dish is the Laing 2 ways. This spicy concoction of gabi leaves drenched in coconut milk and cooked to perfection is another wonderful complement to the array of dishes that we tasted. At 120, I'd go for the Laing anytime.

The perfect accompaniment to the viant was the duck basil fried rice. The Chinese influence of this dish was pretty unique. Normally yang chow fried rice would be composed of pork and vegetables. Not this one. The dish settled for more adventurous ingredients such as duck and basil. I do love how the dish played out on this one. It costs 180 per cup and is good for 2 people per serving.

Soup is an integral part of Philippine cuisine. Mesa has recognized that by offering chicken binakol soup. This version of tinola is cooked with coconut meat and served in a buko shell for that authentic Pinoy flavor. It really is good for consumption during the cold December night. I especially love the fact that the cocount meat accentuated the chicken flavoring on the soup. Plus the fact that the servings were huge and good for 2 or more people. 

Given the quality, style, and presentation of its dishes, I'd surely go back to MESA for a unique dining experience. Mesa Filipino Moderne Restaurant is a fine dining fusion cuisine restaurant catering to those looking for Filipino dishes with a twist. Its Eastwood branch is located at 3/F Eastwood Mall, Eastwood City Libis Q.C. Its facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Mesa-Filipino-Moderne-Eastwood-Mall-701489626629426/?fref=ts

Aldous Calubad for the invite.

The story in pictures:

Tofu Salad

The cripchon

Hito flakes on spoon

Tinapa Roll

The special hot sauce mix recommended by the owner

Hito flakes with Tofu salad

The sumptuous array of dishes

Tilapia with 4 sauces

Garlic chicken and tofu salad

Sigarilyas sa Gata

Baby Squid in Olive Oil

The cripchon head chopped off

Peking duck style cripchon

Laing 2 ways

Duck Basil Fried Rice

Chicken Binakol Soup

The facade
Mesa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato