Denmark Bans a British Favorite

The Danish government has caused outrage among Brits, especially those living in Denmark. Its Veterinary and Food Administration has banned the sale of Marmite, a much-loved British breakfast spread.

The writer in Bacolod with his precious supply of Marmite

The writer in Bacolod with his precious supply of Marmite

For the uninitiated, Marmite is a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful yeast flavour, which is extremely salty and savoury.

Every day, millions of Brits at home and abroad (me included) spread it on their breakfast toast. In countries where Marmite is not readily available  British expats stock up whenever they can. I have two jars at home.

Few Filipinos can live without rice. Few Brits can live without Marmite.

Marmite made illegal in Denmark

Marmite made illegal in Denmark

The Danish authorities have ordered Marmite off the shelves under legislation forbidding the sale of food products with added vitamins and minerals.

There was a swift reaction from Marmite-lovers the world over. Several Facebook groups have been launched. Others are calling for a boycott of Danish exports likeCarlsberg Beer, Lurpak Butter and Danepak meat products.

And protests have been pouring into Danish Embassies around the world.

“We didn’t sell any Marmite to Danes, but a lot to British customers, and many of them have been asking me why we’re not stocking it any more,” said Marianne Ørum, who runs a Copenhagen store selling food from the UK.

“I have to tell them it’s illegal to sell it.”

The Danish authorities were caught off-guard by the furor and quickly issued a waffly statement saying they haven’t banned Marmite but are merely enforcing a 2004 legislation on the marketing of vitamin-enhanced foodstuffs.

“Neither Marmite nor Vegemite (its Australian equivalent) and similar products have been banned by the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration,” an official statement said.

“However, fortified foods with added vitamins, minerals or other substances cannot be marketed in Denmark unless approved by Danish food authorities.”

Says Ørum, this is tantamount to a ban.

“You can apply for permission to sell products such as Marmite, but this costs a lot of money and even then the government will probably say no.

“What am I supposed to put on my toast now?” advertising executive Colin Smith, who had lived in Denmark for six years, told a British newspaper.

“I still have a bit left in the cupboard, but it’s not going to last long.”

He and others fear they will have to subscribe to a black-market trade in the sticky brown stuff, smuggled in from nearby Sweden or Germany where it is still legal.

The ban was attacked in New Zealand where Marmite is also popular.

Said a food industry executive “What obviously started as the bright idea of a misguided Danish official has now made Denmark an international laughing stock, no doubt creating a headache for their foreign affairs diplomats.”


Hitler’s Bodyguard Gives Up

By Robert Harland
Rochus Misch. Hitler's last  surviving bodyguard

Rochus Misch. Hitler's last surviving bodyguard

Watch any programme about Adolf Hitler and you’ll almost certainly see Rochus Misch happily being interviewed about the Füehrer, especially his last day’s in the famousBerlin bunker.

Misch is Hitler’s last surviving bodyguard. He was by the German dictator’s side for five years and even saw his body after he’d blasted a bullet into his head. It’s believed he is the last of the group that hid in the Führerbunker.

His close association with Hitler has brought him a comfortable living with paid interviews and consultations by film companies including Christopher McQuarrie, the writer who created Valkyrie, the 2008 film about an assassination attempt on Hitler’s life.

Too old at 93 to answer his  fan mail

Too old at 93 to answer his fan mail

While McQuarrie talked to Misch, the film’s star Tom Cruise said: “I didn’t want to meet him. Evil is still evil. I don’t care how old you are.”

Misch has become something of a celebrity and his character has been played in numerous films about the Nazi leader. His memoirs, ‘The Last Witness’, were published in 2008 in Germany and are in the works to become a feature film.

But now at the age of 93 and using a walking frame to move around, he says he can no longer respond to the hundreds of letters he receives from around the world.

He told the Berliner Kurier tabloid that most of the letters are requests for his autograph.

“People write to me from Korea, from Knoxville, Tennessee, from Finland and Iceland — and not one has a bad word to say,” said Misch.

In the past Misch used to send fans autographed copies of wartime photos of himself in a neatly pressed SS uniform. Now the fan mail just piles up in his neat, suburban Berlin home.

Of his wartime experiences he says when Hitler was traveling, he and five other bodyguards would accompany him in a second car.

“But when we were at Hitler’s apartment in the Chancellery we also had other duties. Two of us would always work as telephone operators. With a boss like Hitler, there were always plenty of ‘phone calls”.

Rochus Misch in uniform

Rochus Misch in uniform

After the fall of Berlin Misch was captured by the Red Army and sent to Moscow, where he was questioned and tortured.

After eight years in prison camps he returned to Berlin in 1953. He still lives  in the same two-storey house where he moved with his late wife Gerda in 1942.

By Royal Appointment

By Robert Harland
Royal Warrant for  a royal photographer

Royal Warrant for a royal photographer

What do Coca-Cola, Land Rover, Sony, Steinway Pianos and HP Sauce have in common?

Yes, they’re all successful international companies, but they have one thing in common that’s rather special. Their products are used regularly by various members of the British Royal family.

And to recognize this, the manufacturers are granted what is called a Royal Warrant. Some 850 companies currently hold a Royal Warrant, and they are allowed to advertise the fact that they supply the Royal family.

According to the Royal Warrant Holders Association, warrants are granted as a mark of recognition to individuals or companies who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Charles.

The association adds that warrants have always been regarded as demonstrating excellence and quality and are highly prized. The companies represent a huge cross-section of trade and industry, and they range from traditional crafts people to global and multinational firms.

Warrant holders may display the relevant Royal Arms and the legend ‘By Appointment’ on their products, premises, stationery, vehicles and advertising.

The tradition of the Royal family granting warrants goes back hundreds of years. Competition for royal favor was intense, so the kings and queens had the pick of the country’s most skilled and talented trades people.

The first rewards for this loyal service were Royal Charters granted to the trade guilds, later known as livery companies. The earliest recorded Royal Charter was granted by Henry II to the Weavers’ Company in 1155.

In 1394 thrice London Lord Mayor Dick Whittington helped obtain a Royal Charter for his own Company, the Mercers, who traded in luxury fabrics.

By the 15th century royal tradesmen were recognized with a Royal Warrant of Appointment.  An early recipient was William Caxton, England’s first printer, who was appointed King’s printer in 1476.

In the late 18th century royal tradesmen began displaying the Royal Arms on their premises and stationery.

Coca-Cola – by Royal Appointment

Coca-Cola – by Royal Appointment

But it was Queen Victoria who ensured Royal Warrants gained the prestige they enjoy today. During her 64 year reign the Queen and her family granted more than 2000 Royal Warrants, eight times as many as the Queen’s uncle, George IV. They included companies such as Fortnum & Mason, Schweppes, and Twinings, which still hold Warrants today.

Royal Warrants continue to be a prestigious mark of recognition to those who are regular suppliers of goods and services to certain members of the Royal Family.

So next time you order a soft drink remember your’re in good company if you ask for a Coke.

You Can’t Fix Stupid

The Stella Awards are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on

Stella Awards

Stella Awards

herself and successfully sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico where she purchased the coffee. She was awarded $640,000.

She took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?

These are some of the top Stella Awards for the past 12 months for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S.

Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.

A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000.

But the runaway first place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, having driven onto the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.

Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home.

Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

You can’t fix stupid, but it can be profitable.

Chamber Fire Brigade Aids British Resident

“Wow, what service”, said British resident and NDB contributor Robert Harland in appreciation of the Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Chamber firefighter Mark Steven Chiu (right) with firefighter B J Tulod  make safe the potential fire hazard caused by faulty wiring.

Chamber firefighter Mark Steven Chiu (right) with firefighter B J Tulod make safe the potential fire hazard caused by faulty wiring.

Harland, a long-time resident of Bacolod, said there was a loud bang and a strong smell of electrical burning in his house in Capitolville Subdivision on Friday night.

He thought he’d isolated the problem area, but the smell continued so to be sure he asked the Chamber Fire Brigade if they could check it out.

“Given that so many fires here are caused by faulty wiring I thought it best to call in the experts rather than run the risk of the house burning down,” Harland said.

Chamber firefighters making the area safe. Steve Young, B J Tulod, Mark Steven Chiu (l-r).

Chamber firefighters making the area safe. Steve Young, B J Tulod, Mark Steven Chiu (l-r).

Chamber firefighter Mark Chiu and his team were at the house in ten minutes. They quickly identified the problem and made the area safe.

Harland was full of praise for the Chamber. “Their speed and professionalism were impressive. I don’t think I’d get such good service in England.

“Kudos to the Chamber and their dedicated volunteers”, he added.

Frying The Knot

By Robert Harland

Tying the knot – McDo style

Tying the knot – McDo style

Getting married in a McDonald’s? Surely not. I’m told it happened in Manila. Could Bacolod be next? Meanwhile in Hong Kong, getting hitched under the Golden Arches is fast becoming a casual and trendy way to tie the knot.

The fast food chain calls it a McWedding and it’s being offered at several of its stores in the former British crown colony.

On arrival, employees, dressed in black suits and mimicking the actions of hostesses at upscale hotels, greet each guest with a Big Mac and fries. There’s an apple pie wedding cake with a single fry on top instead of the traditional cherry.

After the ceremony, each guest receives a Happy Meal toy as a gift and the bride and groom are given a photo frame shaped like Ronald McDonald.

But guests expecting a glass of Champagne will be disappointed. No alcohol is served at McDonald’s so instead the guests toast the couple with
Coca-Cola, milk shakes and sundaes.

Shirley Chang, managing director of the fast food chain in Hong Kong, defends the concept of getting hitched at a McDonald’s.

“A McWedding isn’t tacky”, she said. “It fills a niche in Hong Kong where our restaurants are popular dating venues. They date here; they grew their love here, so when they have this important day they want to come over here.”

And, tying the knot under the Golden Arches is cheap compared to a traditional catered Chinese wedding which can cost more than HKG$250,000 (Php1.4m). It’s not uncommon for young couples or the groom’s family to save for years or to go into debt to pull off a big wedding.

Getting hitched in Hong Kong at a McDo

Getting hitched in Hong Kong at a McDo

By contrast, a McDonald’s “warm and sweet wedding package” starts at a modest HK$9,999 (Php29,600) including invitation cards, food, drink, gifts and wedding photos for 50 people.

Does McDonald’s have plans to start serving up McWeddings in the Philippines? According to the company’s Manila-based PR and Communications Manager, Adi Timbol, there are no plans at the moment “But we are always open to suggestions in the future” she said.

Getting married in a McDonald’s may be something of a novelty but it shouldn’t shock anyone.

There have been stranger wedding venues including a garbage dump, under water, on top of a roller coaster, mid-air on the wings of a bi-plane, at a nudist colony, at the peak of Mount Everest and even while bungee jumping.

Batting for Mambukal Bats

The Philippines is host to at least 79 species of bats – one of the largest bat populations in

Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus). One  of the three flying foxes found in Mambukal.*

Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus). One of the three flying foxes found in Mambukal.*

the world. Some 52 species are insect-eating and 27 live on fruits.

Among fruit-eating bats, nine species are large flying foxes; four of which are only found in the Philippines. They play a critical role in the environment as key pollinators and seed dispersers of many economically important plants.

Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia has one of the largest colonies of flying fox bats in the country. Species include the Island Flying Fox (Pteropus hypomelanus), Large Flying Fox (P. vampyrus) and the Golden-crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus).

The Large Flying Fox is the biggest bat in the world while the Golden-crowned Flying Fox is the heaviest.

Bat workshop participants at Mambukal Summer Resort

Bat workshop participants at Mambukal Summer Resort

To help local Mambukal staff and tour guides have a better understanding and appreciation of their bat neighbors, the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (PBCFI) and the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI) in partnership with Mambukal held a three-day workshop last week at the resort.

Speakers were PBCFI director of field operations Lisa Marie Paguntalan NFEFI’s Biodiversity Conservation Center (BCC) curator and veterinarian Dr. Joanne Mae Justo and PBCFI/NFEFI-BCC education officer Mimie Ledesma,

“Given Mambukal’s prominence as a local tourist destination as well an important site for flying fox colonies, having well-informed staff and community guides who can develop bat-related activities will considerably enhance the resort’s eco-tourism programs,” said Dr. Justo.

Some 30 participants were given a series of lectures and field exercise on the conservation status and importance of Philippine bats particularly the flying foxes as well as basic training on bat identification, roost count monitoring, rescue techniques and the correct way to handle bats.

“This was a really useful workshop and we are most grateful to NFEFI and PBCFI,” said a Mambukal Resort staff member. “It will go a long way to help make our unique bat population an added attraction for visitors.”*

Running for Change

Start of the 10k run

Start of the 10k runGetting ready for the start of the 3K run

Some 350 runners from Negros and Panay competed in Saturday’s ‘I Run For Change’ fun run featuring distances of three, five and 10km plus a special one kilometer event for children.

The run, to raise funds for two key environmental groups in Negros, was the climax to a month of activities in support of Earth Month.

With ABS-CBN's Jay Jalandoni (left) winners of the men's 10K run. (l-r)  third-placer Rogelio Zaragoza, runner-up Joel Alcorin and winner Eric Paneque. Looking on is Earth Month organizer Kaila Ledesma.

With ABS-CBN's Jay Jalandoni (left) winners of the men's 10K run. (l-r) third-placer Rogelio Zaragoza, runner-up Joel Alcorin and winner Eric Paneque. Looking on is Earth Month organizer Kaila Ledesma.ABS-CBN's Jay Jalandoni (left) with winners of the women's 10K run (l-r) third-placer Ailyn Grace Salas, runner-up Jennylyn Nobleza, winner Stephanie Cadosale. At right is Earth Month organizer Kaila Ledesma

Organizer Kaila Ledesma said she was delighted with the turn-out for the event.

“We had expected 300 runners so 350 was great. Everyone had a terrific time and much-needed funds were raised for the Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation and Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation” she said.

“The run was also designed to create wider awareness of the urgent need to protect and conserve our fragile environment,” she added.

At 73, the oldest competitor was Dr. Gil ‘Baby Doc’ Octaviano. The youngest was two and a half year-old Robert Harland Jr,

Robert Harland Jr., youngest competitor at two and a half years

Robert Harland Jr., youngest competitor at two and a half years

Winner of the women’s 10km run was Stephanie Cadosale with a time of 42:38 minutes. Second was Jennylyn Nobleza and third Ailyn Grace Salas

Winner of the men’s 10km run was Eric Paneque with a winning time of 33:37 minutes. Second was Joel Alcorin and in third place Rogelio Zaragoza.

Major sponsors of the event were Coca-Cola, Melba’s Farms, United Molasses, First Farmers Holdings, Cool Runnings, Run Club, Zagu, Powerade and Frunk Training Systems, Energy Development Corporation and Havaianas.