Queen’s Royal Pay Freeze

No wonder Her Majesty is renting out Royal staterooms for corporate entertaining during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Like so many of us, she’s also feeling the pinch from the global financial crisis.

But before you start feeling sorry for her, rest assured she’ll not be lining up any time soon to buy her clothes from ukay ukay outlets. And neither is she likely to be taking the Royal crown to the pawnbrokers.

Buckingham Palace - urgent repairs are needed

Buckingham Palace - urgent repairs are needed

But she has accepted a freeze in her support from taxpayers until 2015. The main causality will be Buckingham Palace, as much-needed repairs will likely be halted.

Buckingham Palace is crumbling

Buckingham Palace is crumbling

The Palace is the Queen’s principal residence and office. Built in 1705, it’s crumbling and some 32 million British pounds (Php2.18b) will need to be spent over the next ten years for urgent repairs.

Part of the Queen’s problem is the 2012 Olympic Games. Money for the upkeep of the Palace comes from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Not unsurprisingly, their priority for 2012 is the Games. The department has rejected a request for more money.

But, as one commentator pointed out the millions of tourists who flock to London do not expect to see the official residence of Queen Elizabeth looking like it’s ready for the wreckers ball.

Recently a substantial piece of masonry fell from the building. In 2007 another lump of stone fell from the building narrowly missing the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, as she was getting into her car.

Queen Elizabeth - turning off the lights to save money

Queen Elizabeth - turning off the lights to save money

One Royal friend joked that parts of the building have been swathed in scaffolding for so long that it’s the only thing that keeps it from falling down.

As for the Queen herself, she is said to run a tight ship when it comes to managing Royal finances. The total cost to the taxpayer of the monarchy is 40 million British pounds (Php2.73b) a year. To save money, it’s said the Queen actually walks around the Palace turning off lights and turning down the thermostat.

Most Britons are very sympathetic to the Queen and feel that she represents remarkably good value for money especially considering the extraordinary hard work she puts in on behalf of her country.

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Marapara Rotary Hosts Children’s Christmas Party


It was dark and stormy morning on Saturday, but 100 children from Brgy. Bata in Bacolod City braved the Sendong rains to join the fun and games at the annual Pamaskua Sa Bata gift-giving party hosted by the Rotary Cub of Bacolod Marapara.

Santa with children from the Villa Gracia Day Care Center, members of Marapara Rotary and Rotoractors

Santa with children from the Villa Gracia Day Care Center, members of Marapara Rotary and Rotoractors

The children, all from the club’s adopted Villa Gracia Day Care Center, flocked to the party held at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club.

Highlight of the morning was a visit by Santa, who took time out from his busy schedule to give each child a gift. Clearly Santa was a big hit as was Ronald McDonald, who made a special guest appearance and posed for photographs with the children.

A special appearance of Ronald McDonald at the Marapara Rotary annual Pamaskua Sa Bata gift-giving party

A special appearance of Ronald McDonald at the Marapara Rotary annual Pamaskua Sa Bata gift-giving party

This was followed by lunch and then time to open the gifts and play some games.

Supporting the festivities were McDonald’s and Louise Restaurant as well as sponsorship from members of Marapara Rotary and local golfers.

“I would like to thank our sponsors, our club members, our Rotoractors, and of course Santa and Ronald McDonald for ensuring the children had a terrific time,” said club president Rico Cajili. “It’s always heart-warming to see the less fortunate children in our community having so much fun at Christmas.”

A special appearance of Ronald McDonald at the Marapara Rotary annual Pamaskua Sa Bata gift-giving party

Santa with some of the children from the Villa Gracia Day Care Center

Mary Ann Fernandez, a teacher at the Villa Gracia Day Care Center, said the party will be the highlight of Christmas for most of the children and she expressed her appreciation to the club and all who helped make the affair such an enjoyable occasion.

The Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara undertakes many other community activities each year.  It’s main fund-raising event is the annual ‘Rotary-Golf for a Cause’ tournament held at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club.

Dancing your way to health

Older people can dance their way to better health

Older people can dance their way to better health

There are many grand dames in Bacolod City who love to dance. One sees them frequently at parties – usually with their personal dance instructors (DI) anxiously waiting for dinner to finish so they can trip the light fantastic.

Alas, I am about the worst dancer in the history of the world. I once had a very attractive female DI who ‘sacked’ me as I was clearly a hopeless case.

I’m not really that keen on dancing, but perhaps in my advancing years, I should think again.

According to world renowned cardiologist, Dr. Chauncey Crandall, ballroom dancing is the very best exercise for those suffering from heart disease or those who want to prevent it.

“Like walking, ballroom dancing demands natural and vigorous movement over an extended period. Its social and relational aspects add an additional measure of stress reduction,” he said.

Tao Porchon-Lynch from India. At 93 she's one the world’s oldest ballroom dancers

Tao Porchon-Lynch from India. At 93 she's one the world’s oldest ballroom dancers

“Since you will probably be dancing with your spouse, you’ll be renewing your relationship. And you are likely to go dancing at least once in a while in the company of friends, adding to the enjoyment of a social event. For these reasons, ballroom dancing is a powerful stress reducer as well as an enjoyable form of exercise,” he added.

For many people looking to get fit, ballroom dancing is a more interesting and exhilarating option than a boring gym. And experts say that an exercise program is easier when it’s enjoyable.

As for losing weight, ballroom dancing can burn from 250 calories to 400 calories an hour which is about the same as a brisk half-hour walk on a treadmill, but a lot more fun.

In recent years there’s been a huge resurgence in the popularity of ballroom dancing fueled by such hit TV programs as Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.

And here’s even been talk about ballroom dancing becoming an Olympic sport – something that fills many sportswriters with horror. In a bid for competitive ballroom dancing to gain Olympic recognition, the term Dancesport was invented.

Leading British sport columnist Alan Hubbard of the Independent on Sunday newspaper doubts if ballroom dancing will ever make it to the Olympic stage, though he’s been impressed with the fitness and athleticism of dancers he’s seen at championships he’s covered for his paper.

Dancing away for better health

Dancing away for better health

“I’ve written about the sporting elements of ballroom dancing and for me, some of dancers displayed similar skills to, say, Torvill and Dean who of course are Olympic gold medalists in ice dancing, ” he said.

Interesting stuff. Perhaps Dr. Crandall is right. Excuse me, I may have two left feet, but I’m off to the dance studio. I just hope my old DI doesn’t work there.

2012 Garden Club Officers Inducted

The newly-elected officers and directors of the Negros Occidental Garden Club were inducted into office at the club’s Christmas party at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City on Tuesday. The inducting officer was retired judge, the Hon. Emma Labayen.

The 2012 Negros Occidental Garden Club board (l-r) Dr. Nena Nolido, social events; Ivy Visitacion, media affairs; Robert Harland, PIO; Daphne Javelosa, 2nd assistant secretary; Emma Lipa, 1st assistant secretary; Mepa Conde, secretary; Fe Remitio, president; Judge Emma Labayen, inducting officer;  Lourdes Mercado, 1st vice president; Gigi Flores, 2nd vice president; Ilde Guerrero, 1st asst. treasurer; Daday Javellana, 2nd asst. treasurer; Necena Ong, auditor; Lita Cruz, special projects and events.

The 2012 Negros Occidental Garden Club board (l-r) Dr. Nena Nolido, social events; Ivy Visitacion, media affairs; Robert Harland, PIO; Daphne Javelosa, 2nd assistant secretary; Emma Lipa, 1st assistant secretary; Mepa Conde, secretary; Fe Remitio, president; Judge Emma Labayen, inducting officer; Lourdes Mercado, 1st vice president; Gigi Flores, 2nd vice president; Ilde Guerrero, 1st asst. treasurer; Daday Javellana, 2nd asst. treasurer; Necena Ong, auditor; Lita Cruz, special projects and events.

In her acceptance speech, incoming president Fe Remitio said her priorities will include creating wider awareness among the public of environmental care and the greening of our surroundings as well as helping to find solutions to flooding and climate change problems.

Negros Occidental Garden Club December birthday celebrators at the club's Christmas party at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City on Tuesday (l-r) Lorrie Baliguas, Ester Monfort, Daisy Lim & Linda Yulo

Negros Occidental Garden Club December birthday celebrators at the club's Christmas party at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City on Tuesday (l-r) Lorrie Baliguas, Ester Monfort, Daisy Lim & Linda Yulo

“We shall also continue the club’s long tradition of public service by offering to assist with beautification projects. We’d also like to invite experts to teach and train us on the issue of eliminating insecticides and pesticides so we can pass on this expertise for the benefit of the community,” she added.

British resident honoured as Outstanding Citizen of Negros

British Embassy Manila

British Embassy Manila

Hazel Andrea-Stuart, the British Embassy’s warden for Negros Occidental, has been honoured for her significant contribution to Philippines tourism.

Since 1998, she has made 50 TV documentary films, at her own expense, highlighting the country’s beauty and diversity.

At a ceremony, sponsored by the Negros Daily Bulletin newspaper in Bacolod City on Wednesday, Stuart was one of eight recipients of ‘Outstanding Citizens of Negros’ awards.

Hazel Andrea-Stuart receives her award from (l-r) Henry Streegan, the Negros Daily Bulletin's editorial consultant; Pert Toga, president and editor-in-chief; Rolly Espina, chairman and John Elmer Ubaldo, president of the Negros Press Club.

Hazel Andrea-Stuart receives her award from (l-r) Henry Streegan, the Negros Daily Bulletin's editorial consultant; Pert Toga, president and editor-in-chief; Rolly Espina, chairman and John Elmer Ubaldo, president of the Negros Press Club.

“I was delighted to learn of Hazel’s award. Hazel has made a great contribution both to the British community in Negros and to her adopted home the Philippines. This is a great example of Philippine-British partnership. Congratulations,” British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said.

Hazel Andrea-Stuart recently presented Vice President Jejomar Binay with the entire collection of her TV documentary films.

Hazel Andrea-Stuart recently presented Vice President Jejomar Binay with the entire collection of her TV documentary films.

Stuart’s TV films, themed ‘a grain of sand’, have won numerous awards including five prestigious International Communicator Awards.

Speaking at the ceremony, the paper’s editorial consultant Henry Streegan noted that Stuart’s films have been shown extensively in the Philippines, regionally and worldwide especially through the Living Asia Channel. He added that Vice President Jejomar Binay was a great fan of Stuart’s work.

Stuart, originally from the English county of Kent, now lives permanently in Bacolod City. In 2007 she was presented with the distinguished Tourism Award for helping to promote Region V1 in the Visayas as a tourist destination.

Italian Ambassador Vows Tourism Support

Sugar High

Sugar High

When Italian Ambassador Luca Fornari and his charming wife Silvana came to Negros Island with organic food advocate Mara Loinaz, we had a chance to receive him for dinner to meet with our RANI (Resort Association of Negros Island) officers led by Pres. Bomber Zayco, Sec/Treasurer Raymund Javellana and Tourism Ambassador Ed Garcia.

The debonair Ambassador Fornari met with the regional press that included Negros Daily Bulletin’s Robert Harland, Cebu’s Zee Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jing Ramos, Iloilo’s The Daily Guardian’s Zedrick Señeres and The News Today’s Nonoy Ybiernas. The arts and culture were represented by the Negros Museum’s grande dame Lyn Gamboa and internationally acclaimed painter Charlie Co.

RANI Tourism Amb Ed Garcia, Italian Amb Luca & Silvana Fornari, RANI Pres Bomber Zayco, Iloilo “The Daily Guardian” Zedrick Señeres & NDB’s Robert Harland (l-r)

RANI Tourism Amb Ed Garcia, Italian Amb Luca & Silvana Fornari, RANI Pres Bomber Zayco, Iloilo “The Daily Guardian” Zedrick Señeres & NDB’s Robert Harland (l-r)

the Slow Food Event in Turin for 2012 included Gerald and Zsa Zsa Veloso and Fresh Start’s Ramon Jr and Francine Uy. With the arrival of Bacolod Congressman “Doc”Tony Golez and Mrs. Jewel Lobaton, Ambassador Fornari pledged his support to Negros Tourism. Viva Italia!

EVENT

Tomorrow marks the Dedication Rites of the Jose & Claudio Alunan Vaugirard Gardens and the Br. Rolando R. Dizon Ecopark Center at the University of St. La Salle Granada Ecopark in Barangay Granada at 3 P.M.

MY PRAYER
What, now, can I look forward to, Lord? My hope is in you.

Cooking Up Success at La Salle

ICA Batch 7 students show off their special Reception Rites plates

ICA Batch 7 students show off their special Reception Rites plates

“We’ve been bowled over by the phenomenal success of the Institute for Culinary Arts at La Salle”, said Br. Ray Saplido, president and vice chancellor of the University.

Speaking at the Reception Rites for ICA students from Batch 7 on Monday, Br. Ray explained the University took something of a gamble in 2007 when it decided to launch the new school.

“Chef Richard Ynayan, ICA’s director, made a strong case for bringing in only the best equipment. So, under his direction, we invested heavily and built two fully air-conditioned state-of-the-art kitchens designed after the kitchens of culinary institutions in New York and California.

“I’m pleased we followed Chef Richard’s advice. As the university’s Dr. Elsie Coscolluela, who played such an important role in launching ICA, has said on many occasions our facilities are on a par, and perhaps in many respects, better than you’d find in culinary schools anywhere in the world. And our fees are much lower thanManila and a fraction of New York or London,” he added.

Guest speaker at the Reception Rites was top Manila restaurateur Margarita Fores. Pictured with Br. Ray Suplido FSC president and chancellor of USLS  (right) and ICA director Chef Richard Ynayan

Guest speaker at the Reception Rites was top Manila restaurateur Margarita Fores. Pictured with Br. Ray Suplido FSC president and chancellor of USLS (right) and ICA director Chef Richard Ynayan

Today, ICA is thriving with more and more Negrenses wishing to try their hand at cheffing.

Since its launch in January 2008, some 300 students have successfully completed the 12-month course. Some are now working on cruise ships or in international hotels. Others have opened their own restaurants while a handful of students simply took the course for enjoyment and to increase their repertoire of dishes at home.

Among the pioneer students in 2008 was British national and Bacolod resident Robert Harland. Harland, who, in 2010 became first foreigner to become the Negros Adobo Champion, signed up for the physically demanding course at the age of 61.

Top honors in Batch 7 went to Juanito Singbenco pictured here with Br. Ray Suplido FSC president and chancellor of USLS  (right) and ICA director Chef Richard Ynayan

Top honors in Batch 7 went to Juanito Singbenco pictured here with Br. Ray Suplido FSC president and chancellor of USLS (right) and ICA director Chef Richard Ynayan

“It was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. It was hard work, but very worthwhile”, said Harland, who today is a part-time teacher at ICA, “And it was great to work and study with so many enthusiastic young people.”

Another early student was Jazel Steinmann, who was only 17 years-old when she signed up. She’s now working in the UK.

Today, ICA’s alumni are working  in the kitchens of restaurants and hotels around the world from Saudi Arabia to Mexico.

Founding chef and ICA director Richard Ynayan, who graduated with honors from the French Culinary Institute and the Institute for Culinary Education in New York and has been trained by French, Italian and American chefs, said the school’s main aim is to train world-class chefs, industry professionals and creative entrepreneurs in culinary arts.

Additionally, it gives an opportunity to career changers and teenagers who don’t want to pursue a bachelors degree.

The course includes a study of the fundamentals of classic and contemporary cuisine with the integration of Philippine flavours and approaches – including Ilonggo cuisine – as well as hands-on training in fundamental techniques of the culinary arts.

Students also get exposure to a variety of workplaces such world-class hotels, professional settings, cruise ships, resorts, restaurants, catering business and bakeshop management.

Students are under the direct supervision of Chef Richard and his team of highly-trained instructors. In addition, guest lecturers cover topics such as fine wines, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Halal cuisine and baking.

On completion of the course, students undertake 300 hours of on-the-job training (OJT). ICA helps place students in hotels and restaurants in Manila, Cebu, Boracay,Hong Kong, Singapore and the US. After an OJT assignment in Malacañang, one ICA student ended up as a full-time employee cooking for the president.

“I’m incredibly proud of our students,” said Chef Richard. “They’ve already notched up numerous awards such as first place in the Cinco de Noviembre Adobo Festival in 2010 and 2011. They all work amazingly hard and with such passion. I know that many of them will go onto great things in the world of fine dining”.

Enrollment for Batch 9 and 10 is taking place now. Classes start on January 23 and June 18, 2012. For further information, please call ICA on 434 6100 local 401 and look for Ms. Maricon Vinarta.

Bacolod Cultural Foundation Inducts New Team

The Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) officially welcomed six new members and inducted a new set of officers and directors at a ceremony on Friday at the Sugarland Hotel.

New BCF officers (l-r): Emilie Zayco, Charito Parreño, President  Suzette Lacson, Violeta Caram, NDB writer Robert Harland with  inducting officer, Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr

New BCF officers (l-r): Emilie Zayco, Charito Parreño, President Suzette Lacson, Violeta Caram, NDB writer Robert Harland with inducting officer, Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr

Inducting officer and inspirational speaker was Bacolod City Lone District Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr. Mayor Evelio Leonardia was represented by Councilor Ems Legaspi-Ang.

New BCF members with inducting officer Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr  (l-r) Eduardo Suatengco, Jonathan Fortu, Jorge Mission, Noemi Yoro,  Fanny Balenia, Eli John Gumabong

New BCF members with inducting officer Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr (l-r) Eduardo Suatengco, Jonathan Fortu, Jorge Mission, Noemi Yoro, Fanny Balenia, Eli John Gumabong

The new members are Jonathan Fortu, Jorge Mission, Eduardo Suatengco, Viol Montelibano, Fanny Balenia, Noemi Yoro and Eli John Gumabong.

New officers are Suzette Lacson, president; Araceli Mirano, vice president, Pacita Adeva, secretary; Emilie Zayco, treasurer, Charito Perreño, assistant treasurer, Violeta Caram, auditor and Robert Harland, PIO. The new board of directors are: Gilda Puey, Angie Echaus, Celia Ferrer, Ildefonsa Guerrero, Prima Pefianco, Marina Urbanozo and Gloria Abong.

 New BCF board of directors with inducting officer Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr (l-r) President Suzette Lacson, Prima Pefianco, Gilda Puey, Marina Urbanozo

New BCF board of directors with inducting officer Rep. Dr. Anthony Golez, Jr (l-r) President Suzette Lacson, Prima Pefianco, Gilda Puey, Marina Urbanozo

In her acceptance speech, incoming president Suzette Lacson, daughter of the Foundation’s long-serving president, the late Atty. Luz Dato Lacson, said she would like to see a Concert at the Park series featuring song and dances by local talents and hopefully national and international artists as well.

“In addition, I’d like to have a Film Festival of Old Filipino classics the likes of Rogelio dela Rosa, Rosa Rosal and Carmen Rosales. But, most importantly, I would like the BCF to be a crusader for the youth with talent and potential to serve as guardians of Ilonngo heritage of Filipino Culture,” she added.

The BCF was founded in 1973 with the aim of awakening, developing and broadening the art and culture consciousness of the people of Bacolod. Over the years it has encouraged local talents by sponsoring a wide range of activities including Rondalla bands, painting contests, a yearly Belen, plus piano, ballet and singing lessons. The annual Santacruzan, which the BCF has sponsored and organized since 1974, has become a favorite fixture in the city.

Marapara Rotary Bago Medical Mission

Marapara Rotary member and dentist, Dr. Selwyn Lloyd Baloyo looking after a patient

Marapara Rotary member and dentist, Dr. Selwyn Lloyd Baloyo looking after a patient

A team of 29 volunteer doctors and nurses from Riverside and Doctors’ Hospitals plus two dentists from the Philippines Dental Association held a medical mission on Saturday at the Sacred Heart Shrine in Brgy. Calumangan, Bago City.

The mission, organized by the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara, was held in memory of past club president, the late Mariano Lim, through a family foundation chaired by Mrs Lina Lim. Mr. Lim had been a major donor to the club’s medical programs.

Some 350 barangay members and their children availed themselves of medical checks and dental work including adult and pedia consultations, ECG tests, deworming, and BP and FBS tests. Supporting the medical team were club members, Rotoractors and Barangay health workers.

Brgy. Kagawad and head of the local Committee on Health said medical missions were important to the community adding that the health of residents was a high priority of Brgy. Chair Caroline Mendoza.

A volunteer dentist taking care of a young resident

A volunteer dentist taking care of a young resident

A volunteer doctor examines a young patient

A volunteer doctor examines a young patient

Dr. Joselito Maestral checks a patient

Dr. Joselito Maestral checks a patient

“We are most grateful for the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara”, he said. “The majority of our people live under the poverty line so medical missions are vital for the wellbeing of residents.”

Said club president Rico Cajili, “We’ve been staging medical missions for 19 years and we are  pleased to have the opportunity once again to be of service to the people of Brgy. Calumangan.

“Healthcare is of crucial importance in the community, and medical missions perform a valuable service especially for the less fortunate in our society who cannot always afford to see a doctor.”

Apart from medical missions, the club undertakes many other community activities each year.  It’s main fund-raising event is the annual ‘Rotary-Golf for a Cause’ tournament held at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bata, Bacolod.