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Friday, April 27, 2012

Backpacking To Bolinao

The Plan
It all started with an impulsive idea a few days before holy week.  I decided we were going on a backpacking adventure to Bolinao with the kids after an acquaintance mentioned she was from that province and that it wasn’t  difficult  nor costly to go there.   So we packed our bags, threw caution to the wind, and left two days after the idea entered my head. I figured how difficult could it be, since we traveled often to Baguio along the same route and which is even farther.  So I had it all planned out to travel at midnight, get some zzzzs in the bus and arrive there by early dawn and start the day in the beach.  Spend a few days, enjoying the water and sand, reading a book, writing a bit, take some nice shots, spend some quality bonding time with the kids. That was the plan in my mind.

The Reality
Now here is what actually happened. So we packed our bags, hailed a taxi to bring us to the 5-Star bus station an hour before the midnight trip so we don’t have to rush.  When we got there, the bus --- the final trip for the day---was already full and was about to leave.  The next trip was at 5am the next day.  So we took the trip sitting by the aisle in plastic chairs for the next 3 hours, trying to focus on the movie being shown instead of whining and grumbling.  There was a kind man who gave up his seat for the younger kids  with us.  At least that cheered me up a bit.  And three hours wasn’t too bad or long a wait.  When we got to Pangasinan, people started getting off.  So we were able to transfer to better seats at least an hour before reaching our destination.

When we reached Bolinao, the farthest of  part of Pangasinan,  at 4am we waited at the bus station for our contact to arrive. I discovered that the Victory bus station and 5-Star bus station were almost beside each other, so either bus service could be used for Bolinao, Pangasinan destination.  Two hours have passed and she wasn’t around yet so we decided to continue without her. It wasn’t mind-boggling to get around as there was a  huge map in the bus station that indicated resorts, their locations and contact numbers if you want to ask about rental rates. Thanks to the friendly canteen owner in the bus station who recommended we go to Cabrera Cottages  18 km away, we were able to decide where to go and how to get there. She helped us hire a tricycle for P200 to bring us to Patar. 

It was a refreshing morning as we took the trike trip. Upon seeing the beach, my mood got better. So we settled in a cottage fronting the beach for the next two days. The bamboo cottage offered minimal comforts with a mattress, a light bulb, and a fan which barely reached everyone.  That was tolerable. But what was a negative was the common bathroom area that was somewhat clean but you would prefer to rush out as soon as you are done. And the late night sing-alongs at full volumes  that went on  through the night.  I don’t know how we managed to sleep eventually.

The Good and the not so Good
The mornings made up for the warm nights as the breeze and the water were cool and refreshing to the skin.  The view was uplifting and the rhythmic waves were soothing to the mind and soul.  The soft sand and clear waters in the day made up for the not-too-comfortable nights.  I would walk and sit around the beach at night for an hour or so by myself,   saying a short prayer and appreciating the sight of the star-filled night sky along with the music of the waves before I went to sleep.

My kids easily made friends with the other vacationers. Our friendly cook named Nandy served us specially cooked dishes of rice and veggies for lunch and dinner and hot water for our cocoa and my coffee 3-in-1 packs for the morning.  It was a budget trip so I passed the market to get some supplies before we headed for the beach which was quite a distance from the town.  We came at the right time because  when we were about to leave, two days after, which was a Maundy Thursday, the crowd started coming in.  The empty space was filled with parked cars and the place was buzzing with people by the afternoon. Some people could not be accommodated anymore.

Happily Ever After
People were kind and considerate, unbelievably trusting compared to the attitudes in Manila, when it comes to cash.  I made the mistake of assuming that there would be easy access to ATMs  should I need more money.  Horrors, there was only one bank in town that had an ATM where I could get cash from after 5pm and it was not working.  The next one was an hour’s bus trip away at Alaminos, the more popular area because of  the Hundred Islands tourist site.  So my mind was racing: . . .what are my options now?  At first, I  intended to wait  for the only ATM in the area to go online for as long as it took.   When it was not yet working after over an hour, I made a deal with the bus conductor. I asked if he could advance me some cash until we reach Alaminos on our way home where I can get cash from an ATM to pay him back.  To cut the long story short, I was able to pay my dues to the trike driver, my cook, and the bus fare due to the kindness, trust and patience of the people of Bolinao.  So aside from the beautiful beach, it was the warm welcome of the people that made me decide to come back more often in the future.  Now I know how to prepare for the next visit.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Earth Hour and Beyond: What Should I Do Now?

A beautiful sea of candle lights lit up the Ayala Triangle Garden in Makati City last March 31, 2012 with shadows of smiling faces appearing over the darkness. People united and took pride in the effort to create global awareness for the plight of Mother Earth.  There were song and dance numbers as well as random pledge-making among the audience before the anticipated light switch-off moment was to happen from 8:30 until 9:30 pm..  Celebrities like Chris Tiu attended the event to lend their crowd-drawing power for the cause.  The feeling of the night was somewhat close to a New Year celebration where a count-down for Earth Hour was eagerly anticipated but instead of fireworks, the crowd was looking forward to darkness.  Who would have guessed that darkness could be a good thing?

The world celebrated Earth Hour, the largest environmental celebration in human history, last March 31, 2012. The Philippines, declared a Hero Country for topping Earth Hour’s global town and city participation level for three straight years until this year, held three simultaneous switch-off ceremonies for the first time in the cities of Makati, Cebu, and Davao led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines! 

Makati City’s Ayala Triangle Gardens was the central hub for Luzon. Earlier at 6:30 PM , glow-in-the-dark dance troupe Bailes de Luces and the Caracol dancers led the  Earth-themed parade from the Makati fire station to Ayala Tower One - where WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez hosted the program. 

Performances from Bailes De Luces, Caracol, and El Gamma Penumbra entertained the audience with outstanding energy and confidence. Minutes before the switch-on, WWF-Philippines Partners announced their participation in the I WILL IF YOU WILL campaign by sharing their pledge. 

The I WILL IF YOU WILL campaign aims to empower people by asking them to share a personal dare with the world. It poses the question -- what are you willing to do to save the planet? -  and centers around providing a social contract between two parties. It connects one person, business or organization to a ‘promise’ and their friends, family customers or members to a challenge – uniting them behind the common goal of creating a positive environmental outcome. 

Famous faces around the world are speaking out to encourage participation and support for Earth Hour. Pledges are coming in from a plethora of groups and as an open sourced campaign, Earth Hour uses social media to connect a global community of people inspired to change the world they live in.
Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia was the chief switch-off site for the Visayas. A festive street parade led by local Sinulog Dancers started at Fuente Osmeña Circle from 5:30 PM onwards. The Cebu switch-off featured a candle lighting ceremony capped off by the release of biodegradable sky lanterns. Cebu’s event was held in cooperation with the Aboitiz Group and the Cebu City Government.

SM Davao was the main switch-off site for Mindanao. WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson hosted the switch-off, which featured a tribal-themed parade around SM Davao at 6:30 PM. Black-light and fire-dancers entertained the crowd with specialized routines when the city plunges into darkness. The Davao event was in collaboration with SM Supermalls, the Green Alliance and the Davao City Government.

Earth Hour is one of the solutions that we can use to battle climate change, among other environmental problems. With this in mind, Makati City Mayor Hon. Jejomar Erwin Binay, Jr. welcomed the guests and introduced a short message from the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III.  WWF Philippines Vice Chairman and CEO, Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan talked about climate change and rallied people to be part of the solution. 

Andy Ridley gave the keynote speech followed by the Earth Hour official video and a message from heads of WWF International leaders – Jim Leape, WWF International Director General and Yolanda Kakabadse, WWF International President. 

“I want to say thank you to all of you here in Mania and across the Philippines who are part of this global event. Earth Hour by itself is an important statement of concern about the future of the planet. It also should be just the beginning. So I hope when you go home you will recommit yourself to making changes in the way you live that can help us all sustain life on earth. Thank you for being part of Earth Hour 2012,” said Mr. Leape in his message to the Filipinos. 

Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez
Everyone was asked to pledge for the planet by having a greener lifestyle and by joining hundreds of millions of people across the globe in calling for action on climate change and celebrating one’s commitment for the planet not just for that night but beyond the Earth Hour. 

The ceremonial switch-off was led by Earth Hour Co-Founder Andy Ridley, WWF Vice-Chairman and CEO Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, Makati City Mayor Hon. Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., Ayala Land Inc. President Mr. Antonio Aquino, DOE Undersecretary Ms. Loreta Ayson, Climate Change Commission Commissioner Naderev Saño, and MACEA President Mr. David Balangue.

Now in its fifth year, Earth Hour Philippines continues to grow. Current public sector partners include the Climate Change Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, Department of Transportation and Communications, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Budget Management, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Education, the Metro Manila Development Authority, League of Municipalities, League of Cities and League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Philippine Media Champions include TV5, ABS-CBN, GMA-7, CLTV-36, Discovery Channel, Knowledge Channel, ZOE TV, Global News Network, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror, Philippine Daily Inquirer Online, Aftercall Magazine, Philippines Graphic, Radyo Veritas, DZIQ, DZAR, Globaltronics, QCreativs, Photoworld Manila, ASK and Illuminati Philippines.

Corporate partners include the Yuchengco Group of Companies, Arthaland, McDonald's, Big Chill, Tully's Coffee, Globe Telecommunications, Smart Communications, Primer Group of Companies, Core, York, Victory Liner, Aboitiz Group of Companies, Lopez Group of Companies, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Ayala Land, SM Supermalls, Victory Liner Incorporated, 2GoTravel, Canon Marketing Philippines, Campaigns and Grey, Leo Burnett Manila, the Makati Shangri-La Hotel plus Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila. 

The list of allies grows longer each day. 

“More than anything, Earth Hour is a celebration of hope. When our planet plunges into darkness, we can look to the stars and dream of what can be. When the lights switch back on though - our real work begins,” concludes Ibay. 

These scenes may have been replicated in other major cities around the world but when the lights are turned back on, what happens next? How do we keep the feeling alive, much longer than just a hour?
WWF Phil CEO, Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, sums up what Filipinos can do beyond Earth Hour.

Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan
“What are the things we forget? . . . is that we are a democracy. The art of democracy is participation.  If you look in the US, the first one to respond to Hurricane Katrina is the private sector not FEMA.  So that is the point I am trying to make here.  Sure, the governent has the opportunity to influence politics, but politics takes years like planting trees. Whereas the private sector can do something quickly and within one year they can make a difference, not just by saving power but by keeping communities and economies viable . . .such as how they put up their plant or how they annex water.  No company can operate without water and there are some companies who have actually made investments in improving watershed management that not only benefits the company but also the community. For me, the challenge here is to create waves of reaction, not just point to government and ask what are you doing now. The opportunity really here is to point to yourself and ask: what am I doing?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Makati Celebrates World Poetry Day

Ayala Triangle Garden
Makati City---World Poetry Day was commemorated with a night of poetry reading by students and professionals with special song numbers at the AyalaTriangle last March 21, 2012. The event entitled A Walk Through Words at the Gardens highlights the  mystical beauty of Philippine poetry by bringing together some of the country’s leading writers and literary personalities who are firm believers on the power of words.  The activity was spearheaded by Ayala Foundation through the Filipinas Heritage Library and the group of writers involved in the Metro Serye literary magazine,

Krip Yuson
Guests who shared their poems with the crowd were magazine editor and the 30th National Book Awards Leisure Category finalist RJ Ledesma, Palanca awardees Ricci Guevarra and Vim Nadera. Literature personalities- essayist, novelist, and poet Krip Yuson; poet and literary critics Jimmy Abad, Anina Abola, Eliza Victoria, and Carlomar. Music, also a form of poetry, was performed by Arya Herrera and Reb Atadero from Blue Rep, and rapper Gloc9. The other poetry readers included students from the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.

RJ Ledesma
“Appreciation of poetry is universal. It begins almost when we are toddlers.,” says Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) director Maritoni Ortigas. “Today, we are celebrating the World Poetry Day in recognition of poetry’s distinct influence to expand people’s views, understanding, and appreciation of humanity and its experience. Everything in life—what is seen, felt, and imagined—belong to poetry. Our imaginations are stirred and our minds are enriched by the magic of words, captured thought, image or metaphor. We hope this celebration manifests this.”

Arya Herrera and Rebs Atadero
This unique event  showcased contemporary Filipino poetry punctuated by musical landscape in an informal urban setting, so the ideal venue would be at the heart of the Makati Central Business District— which is at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. “The event aims to encourage Makati denizens and Filipinos in general to continue their passion for poetic excellence while also preserving and enriching our heritage,” shares Mel Ignacio, Assistant Vice President of Ayala Land.
Makati City’s meteoric rise as the country’s center for business, culture, lifestyle, and entertainment can be described as poetry in motion. “The development of the city did not happen overnight,” notes Mel Ignacio. “What played a key role in this regard was the seamless integration of ideas and strategic partnership among the primary stakeholders of the city—the local government unit,, the Makati Commercial Estate Association, Inc. (MACEA) and Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI).” This is the reason why Makati City continues to grow and become relevant in the modern sphere of things.

In line with this cultural thrust, the recently launched campaign, “Make It Happen, Make It Makati,” also enforces Makati’s position not just as the country’s preferred business and lifestyle destination but also as a home for poetic and artistic minds.

 Poetry enthusiast Tessa Sweezy Webb first initiated the celebration of the World Poetry Day in 1936 in Ohio, U.S.A. to honor poets. In 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially declared March 21 as the World Poetry Day as a tribute to poets and other literary artists in recognition of their valuable contributions to society.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Earth Hour Founder Andy Ridley to celebrate 2012 in Makati

A  three-time Earth Hour champion since 2009 , the Philippines has earned the title official Earth Hour ‘Hero Country’ having the most number of  cities and municipalities actively participating in this environment-awareness event. In 2009, the Philippines became the top Earth Hour country in terms of town and city participation, with 647 Philippine towns and cities joining in. Ten million Filipinos saved at least 611 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity in 2009 – equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power plants.
In 2010, 1076 Philippine towns and cities participated – more than enough to retain the title. A record-breaking 1661 Philippine cities and municipalities switched off their lights for Earth Hour in 2011 – making the country a three-time Earth Hour champion and an official Earth Hour ‘Hero Country’. For the honor, Earth Hour Founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley is slated to celebrate this year’s event in the Philippines.
Since its inception, Earth Hour has grown to a 5251-city-strong global movement, reaching 1.8 billion people in 135 countries and territories in across all seven continents. It is now the largest annually-recurring environmental event on Earth.

WWF Pres. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan
The global 60-minute switch-off will extend to the International Space Station, where Earth Hour Astronaut-Ambassador Andre Kuipers shall stand vigil over our imperiled planet as the lights switch off on 31 March and share live photos with commentary.
Kuipers says he is thrilled to participate in Earth Hour and literally take the globally-significant movement to new heights. “There’s no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the whole universe!”

Back on Earth, preparations are frenetic. From Angola to Zimbabwe, organizing teams from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and its growing roster of allies are preparing for what is hoped to be the largest environmental celebration in human history. 

Earth Hour founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley says everyone from citizens to businesses, school children to world leaders, need to believe they can make a difference. 

“The state of our planet affects each and every one of us,” says Ridley. “Last year Earth Hour reached 1.8 billion people across the planet. This year through digital media we are offering a greater opportunity to connect people with the desire to take much needed action for the environment."

Hosts Marc Nelson (R) and Rovilson
Makati, Cebu, and Davao are the official Philippine Switch-off Sites
WWF-led switch-off ceremonies will be held simultaneously in the cities of Makati, Cebu and Davao - though other cities and towns are expected to hold well-organized events to observe the switch-off. 

Makati City’s Ayala Triangle Gardens shall be the central hub for Luzon. At 6:30 PM on 31 March, glow-in-the-dark dance troupe Bailes de Luces and the Caracol dancers shall form the vanguard of an Earth-themed parade which starts at the Makati fire station and ends at Ayala Tower One - where WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez shall host a programme with performances from El Gamma Penumbra, Brigada and other groups. No less than Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley shall lead the country’s main switch-off event, hosted by WWF with the help of Ayala Land and the Makati City Government. 

Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia shall be the chief switch-off site for the Visayas. A festive street parade led by local Sinulog Dancers shall start from Fuente Osmeña Circle from 5:30 PM onwards. The Cebu switch-off further features a candle lighting ceremony capped off by the release of biodegradable sky lanterns. Cebu’s event is in cooperation with the Aboitiz Group and the Cebu City Government.

SM Davao shall be the main switch-off site for Mindanao. WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson shall host the switch-off, which features a tribal-themed parade around SM Davao at 6:30 PM. Black-light and fire-dancers shall woo the crowd with specialized routines once the city plunges into darkness. The Davao event is in collaboration with SM Supermalls, the Green Alliance and the Davao City Government.

Presscon at the Manila Peninsula
Earth Hour Philippines National Director Atty. Gia Ibay shares, “We’re extremely excited for this year’s switch-off ceremonies. Though the Visayas and Mindanao have always observed their own unique switch-off ceremonies, WWF has traditionally celebrated Earth Hour from Manila. To commemorate our country’s fifth Earth Hour, we thought it high time for WWF to observe the movement across the archipelago - which has always been what we’ve aimed for."

Famous faces around the world are speaking out to encourage participation and support for Earth Hour. Environmental activist and former US Vice-President Al Gore urged people to join the switch-off from a video message recorded from Antarctica. Pledges are coming in from a plethora of groups - ranging from top band Coldplay to global supermodel Miranda Kerr. As an open-sourced campaign, Earth Hour uses social media to connect a global community of people inspired to change the world we live in.

 “More than anything, Earth Hour is a celebration of hope. When our planet plunges into darkness, we can look to the stars and dream of what can be. When the lights switch back on though - our real work begins.” concludes Ibay. 

Earth Hour 2012 is set for 8:30pm on Saturday, 31 March, whether you’re on planet Earth - or orbiting it. 

Earth Hour at a Glance
Earth Hour began as a single-city initiative in 2007. From 7:30 to 8:30pm on 31 March, 2.2 million people switched off their lights to celebrate Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia. The power saved during the 60-minute switch-off was equivalent to removing 48,613 cars off Sydney roads for an hour.

Earth Hour became a global movement in 2008. The Philippines was the first Southeast Asian nation to pledge full support. Its flagship cities of Pasay, Manila, Parañaque and Makati observed a switch-off ceremony from 8:00 to 9:00pm on 28 March 2008 at the CCP grounds. For more information, log on to: wwf.org.ph.
Check out the cool Earth Hour shirts
 Gotta have one too . . . for the sake of Mother Earth :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

WWF Phil. Event Highlights Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins of Palawan

Makati City, Philippines--- The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines held its first Mural Painting Marathon on February 18, 2012 at the Glorietta Dolphin Park where participants pledged in support of the environment and had their chance to make a bold and colorful mark.  They registered as an environment supporter, assigned a number then started painting an image of one of the many dolphins outlined by mural artist and dolphin crusader, AG Saño, as an expression of their concern. These four walled paintings of dolphins, about 200 feet in length, will be auctioned after wherein  the proceeds will go to the WWF Palawan project.

The event was another effort of WWF-Philippines to provide creative ways for everyonefamilies, youngsters and peersto demonstrate their support for a living planet and at the same time raise awareness about local endangered species.

The Mural Painting Marathon was staged for the benefit of WWF-Philippines’ Adoption Program. For a one time donation of P3,000, you can symbolically adopt a panda or a dolphin stuffed toy that comes with a species information card and an adoption certificate.

The panda was picked to represent WWF’s logo and spread the knowledge that it is among the world’s most threatened animals, while the dolphin was chosen to highlight conservation work in the Philippines, specifically in Malampaya in Palawan. The Malampaya Sound hosts the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.

The funds raised from the organization’s Adoption Program will help protect local endangered animals and their habitats.

A WWF Adoption Center was set up for the Adoption Program, along with other booths for face painting, henna tattooing, anime painting and other surprises from event sponsors like Drypers Wee Wee DRY Diapers, Big Chill, Tully’s Coffee, Healthway, 2GO, Virtuoso by Boysen, The Fortnightly, BC Magazine, Spark and Glorietta Ayala Center all gathered together in one venue to make an artistic statement for mother nature.

While the mural painters were busy designing their designated dolphin, a program hosted by WWF Ambassadors Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez was running simultaneously to entertain them and the guests.

AG Sano (L) mural artist and dolphin crusader
The program featured musical and spoken word performances from Bigkas Pilipinas’ Kooky Tuason, Marty Tengco, Rommel Pidazo of Ilaya, Opaline Santos and live acoustic sessions with Charms Tianzon, Lee Grane, Swissy and Maegan Aguilar.

The mural painting participants likewise took their advocacy a step further by signing the Commitment Wall panel at the right end of the mural. Signing the wall is a pledge to minimize carbon footprint, and to not patronize activities that harm nature and its inhabitants, or cause ecological imbalance.

The mural wall will continue to be exhibited at Glorietta Dolphin Park until February 26, 2012 and will be auctioned off for a minimal starting bid of P1,000.

This event was co-sponsored by: Drypers Wee Wee Dry Diapers of SCA Hygiene, Big Chill, Tully’s Coffee, 2GO, Virtuoso by Boysen, The Fortnightly, BC Magazine, Spark and Glorietta Ayala Center, Shutterhedge Eco Bags, Right Click Photobooth, Healthway Medical Philippines, Silverworks, EastWest Bank – Fort Branch, Plato Wraps, and Farmer John Premium Potato Chips.

Host WWWRolvilson Fernandez
About WWF-Philippines
WWF-Philippines has been working as a national organization of the WWF network since 1997. It began as an organization focused almost entirely on species work and conservation science. Today, WWF-Philippines has 13 project sites across the country and is at the cutting edge of an expanding spectrum which includes climate change policy, adaptation and mitigation drives; water and coastal resource management for sustainable food security; renewable energy technologies, and environmental education.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lorenzo’s Way: A Tribute to Larry J. Cruz

“Style” and “Taste” are the two words that come to mind when the name of Larry J. Cruz is mentioned. He is the man responsible for transforming the ho-hum Philippine dining scene into the classy, popular places-to-be-seen-in today. The many restaurants he opened during his illustrious career as a restaurateur epitomized the good life that he espoused.

When he opened Café Adriatico at Remedios Circle, Malate in 1979, Larry set in motion the country’s burgeoning café society. Manila’s bright minds, celebrities, politicians and socialites had a place where they can meet and dine in stylish comfort.

“A good meal is one that satisfies all the senses. Meals are about good food. More than just looking good, it has to taste good. Whether I’m emptying my wallet in an expensive restaurant, slumming in a coolie joint, or out on a picnic, I could have a really good meal. The food must match the setting. More important for me, it should be enjoyed with someone.”—Lorenzo J. Cruz, founder LJC Group of Restaurants

Larry was a journalist and publisher first, and a restaurateur second. He acquired his love for food and the good life from his father, the esteemed writer, editor, painter and bon vivant Emilio “Abé” Aguilar Cruz. Indeed, at all LJC restaurants, diners are assured of experiencing his legacy of good food, great service and old-world charm.

From that initial venture, he pressed on, opening one restaurant after another that offered his vision of the good life. Bistro Burgos, Bistro Lorenzo and Bistro Remedios offered local foodies a chance to experience the bistro way of life. Ang Hang introduced Oriental cookery with an emphasis on the spicy hot. Larry’s Bar gave Makati and Ortigas yuppies a venue where they can unwind with a drink at the end of the busy day. Camp Gourmet brought memories of the Forties and World War II with its menu of comfort food and staff dressed in khakis and camouflage. There were also ventures, which were considered ahead of their time: Prego was an Art Deco Italian restaurant, while Paper Moon was revamped into In The Mood Dance Bar when the disco fad ended. Today, the LJC Group includes Café Adriatico, Bistro Remedios, Café Havana, Larry’s Bar & Café, Mojito Bay, Abé, and Fely J’s Kitchen.

Throughout the years, the LJC restaurants concocted numerous signature dishes that became popular. Café Adriatico became known for its chocolate eh, offering diners a chance to savor chocolate, a favorite of Spanish friars, as described in Rizal’s “Noli.” Bistro Burgos became known for its Kare-Kare Klab, oxtail and tripe stewed in a rich peanut sauce, as well as its Stewed Oxtails Akuw’a, a Yemeni-style dish of oxtails cooked with Middle Eastern spices.

Now, you can enjoy la bon vivant the way Larry experienced it at Lorenzo’s Way at Bonifacio High Street Central at the Bonifacio Global City. The new outlet opens two years after the first Lorenzo’s Way was started in Greenbelt 5 to bring diners the best of the LJC Group of Restaurants.

Conceptualized to honor Larry’s memory, Lorenzo’s Way serves the dishes that have become known in such popular LJC restaurants as Café Adriatico, Bistro Remedios, Abé, and Fely J’s Kitchen. Other dishes come from LJC restaurants of old, such as Bistro Burgos, Camp Gourmet, and Ang Hang.

Lorenzo’s Way at Bonifacio High Street Central is an enhanced version of its Greenbelt 5 counterpart .with its a spacious dining area that can seat 80 guests. It has three function rooms, each good for 10 guests; but when taken together, the function rooms can accommodate as many as 36 guests.

Guests who prefer to dine al fresco may do so at the terrace dining area, which can seat 64 guests. The terrace overlooks a central garden amphitheater that has a dancing fountain illuminated by colored lights at night.

Some of the dishes foodies young and old could try at Lorenzo’s Way include Costillas de Ternera Guisada, braised beef short ribs in wine sauce; Spanish Garlic Chicken, deboned chicken baked with a marinade of garlic cloves and olive oil; Braised Lamb Shank with Cranberries, Honey and Onions, a whole lamb shank braised till tender in a wine sauce; and Seafood Couscous, couscous served with clams, mussels, squid and fish fillet cooked in a seafood saffron broth.

strawberry shortcake
The restaurant has become a popular destination among foodies, because it offered a chance to sample the best dishes from different LJC restaurants then and now. In fact, it has been nominated twice to the Miele Guide, which ranks the 20 best restaurants in Asia.

Gigil Tart

To date, LJC restaurants include Café Adriatico, Bistro Remedios, Café Havana, Larry’s Bar and Café, Abé, Fely J’s Kitchen, and Abé’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga. Lorenzo’s Way is at Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center and Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For inquiries, please call 09274769460 or 5220403.
Baby Squid
clams malaguena
Beef Salpicao

King Prawn Creole Hollandaise

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Caracol Festival 2012: A Mardi Gras in Makati

Makati  held its annual Caracol Festival last February 26 with a parade of colourful costumes depicting nature and a group dance performance that replicated Mother Earth’s sea, forest, flora and fauna to the amusement of the crowd.

The event began at 4:00 pm with a parade around Ayala Triangle, from Ayala to Paseo de Roxas and finally Makati Avenue which ended in the intersection of Makati and Ayala Avenue, near the statue of Gabriela Silang where a stage was constructed for the event. 

Crowds gathered along the streets with their friends and children delightfully watching and taking personal photos of the parade in progress.  The variety of colourful costumes parading in the street created an atmosphere of merriment, a sharp contrast to the daily busy, all-business aura of this intersection. A mix of Makati officials, media, bloggers, and  photographers were positioned in front of the stage while waiting for the performers present their special numbers for the grand battle in street dancing.

Caracol, the official festival of Makati, promotes the importance of conserving and preserving our natural resources.  It underscores the commitment of the city government to the global campaign of safeguarding our environment.  Caracol, which is the Spanish term for snail, is a time when people are urged to enjoy life and the bounties of Mother Earth. During the festival, students from the different schools in Makati compete with each other in a street dance performance dressed as trees and fruits, marine life, species of endangered animals, flowers and fauna. This is the project of the city government of Makati, through its Museum and Cultural Affairs Office (MCAO

 “Visitors and tourists are welcome to join us in this yearly celebration.  Our Caracol Festival this year promises to be more fun and exciting, spiced up by the combination of ethnic, classic and modern dance movements gracefully performed by gaily dressed students and residents,” Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay said.

Festival goers are also encouraged to wear body paints, masks and other costumes depicting flowers, birds, fruits, animals and endangered species, and join in the parade and merrymaking according to Mayor Binay. He also said Caracol, Spanish term for snail, refers to the ‘shell’ that people carry around as a shield against life’s harsh realities, so the celebration calls for people to forget their troubles and delight in the moment.
Aside from performances by public school students and residents from the first and second districts, there was a special intermission by Ayala Land featuring the La Salle Pep Squad to promote its 2012 slogan, “Make it happen, make it Makati!”

Competing dance groups from the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels were dressed in ingeniously designed costumes that portray various forms of flora and fauna, including species facing extinction due to the environmental degradation.

The MCAO has assigned a specific theme and dance movement for each category, as follows:  Elementary level, Flowers and Insects to be performed in ballet or waltz movements; High School, Marine Life in retro or pop; and College/Open level, Endangered Species (except Marine Life) in precision movements.
Participants in the elementary level are from East Rembo Elementary School, Pembo Elementary School and Rizal Elementary School. The secondary level were represented by Benigno Aquino National High School, Fort Bonifacio High School and Makati High School.

At the tertiary/open level, two groups represented the different colleges of the University of Makati, namely, Center for Performing and Digital Arts (UMAK-CEPDA), and Center for Human Kinesthetics (UMAK-CHK). There was also a Dance No Doubt Group which represented a private organization in this level.

Consisting of 30 to 40 members each, every group has been given P60,000 as their participation allowance. 
The winning teams won trophies and cash awards. The First Prize was P60,000.00; the Second Prize was P50,000.00 and theThird Prize was P40,000.00. The overall champion received an additional P60,000.
A special cash prize of P20,000 each were given to the groups with the Most Original Costume and Best in Choreography. 

Meanwhile, one group each from Districts I and II in the non-competitive category exhibited their skills in ballroom dancing at the festival, to represent the 33 barangays of the city.

MCAO has been conducting “teaser” shows to drumbeat the grand event, which started at Glorietta Activity Center last February 4, Glorietta 4 and 3 Park last February 11 and 18, respectively. Another show was held on Saturday, February 25, at the Glorietta Activity Center.

Caracol 2012 is presented by the city government of Makati in cooperation with Ayala Land, Ayala Malls, Department of Tourism, and Manila Bulletin as the official media partner.

Celebrated every last Sunday of February, Caracol was conceptualized in 1986 and ushered in the Fiesta Islands Program of the Department of Tourism in 1989. Since then, the festival has been excitedly awaited by city residents and visitors alike, including foreign tourist.


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