BCF Belen winners bared

Winners of the 2012 Bacolod Cultural Foundation’s (BCF) Belen Contest have been announced.

The award for the Most Creative and Innovative Belen went to the San Antonio Abad Church in Taculing

The award for the Most Creative and Innovative Belen went to the San Antonio Abad Church in Taculing

Winner in the Most Creative and Innovative category was the San Antonio Abad Church, Taculing. The award for the Most Symbolic Belen went to St. Joseph the Worker, Dona Juliana Heights. And the winner for the Most Artistic Belen was St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub.

The award for the Most Symbolic Belen went to St. Joseph the Worker, Dona Juliana Heights

The award for the Most Symbolic Belen went to St. Joseph the Worker, Dona Juliana Heights

Judges for the 2012 contest were Arch. Jico Monte, Jonathan Fortu and Elsie Lopez Gonzaga. Prizes will be awarded at a special ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on January 14.

The award for the Most Artistic Belen went to St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub

The award for the Most Artistic Belen went to St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub

Now in its 21st year, the BCF’s Belen Contest is an annual event designed to promote the art of Belen-making and to restore the religious significance of the Belen as a symbol of Christmas.

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Mine’s a Corpse Reviver

Anyone for a Corpse Reviver?

Anyone for a Corpse Reviver?

After years of neglect, the cocktail is making a comeback.

Drinks that have been forgotten for decades, like the Harvey Wallbanger, the Black Russian and the Rusty Nail are being discovered by a new generation of drinkers, who are starting to appreciate the joys of a perfectly mixed cocktail.

The last cocktail I ordered was at the bar of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. I asked the bartender for a Corpse Reviver  –  a somewhat obscure concoction created in1930 by Harry Craddock, head bartender at London’s Savoy Hotel, as a hangover cure.

My order caused some consternation among the Japanese staff. But after a quick back office conference and a flick through a recipe book, the head bartender, with a broad grin on his face, proudly presented me with a Corpse Reviver. He clearly was not going to allow a foreign devil to get the better of him.

American Joe Carlin, author of Cocktails: A Global History, believes the cocktail is the most civilizing beverage on the planet.

What exactly is a cocktail? It’s an alcoholic mixed drink containing three or more ingredients, at least one of which must be a spirit. A cocktail is a drink that can come with eye catching color. It can be long, short, bitter or sweet.

The cocktail is generally thought to be an American invention, but its roots stretch back to 18th century England. The first published reference to the cocktail appeared in the Morning Post and Gazetteer in London in 1798. The first reference in the US was in The Farmer’s Cabinet in 1803.

Cocktails are making a comeback

Cocktails are making a comeback

But it was in America that the popularity of the cocktail surged, thanks in part through the work of Jerry Thomas, a Connecticut native who in 1862 wrote the first book to contain a selection of cocktail recipes. Historians have gone so far as to call the American the father of modern bartending, but he actually worked in London prior to penning this pioneering tome.

Few drinks have followed the trajectory of the cocktail – from its mysterious origins, its heady 19th century rise, its survival during American prohibition, to wartime pleasure followed by … years of neglect.

So why the renaissance of the cocktail? One British bartender believes it’s a return to flavor. “People are looking to savor tastes and appreciate the harmonies between flavors,” he said.

Television has also played a significant role in the new interest in cocktails. First with Sex in the City with the Cosmopolitan. And then Mad Men with the Classic Martini and the Bloody Mary. Both series introduced a whole new generation of drinkers to the fabulous world of the cocktail.

 Ladies awaiting their drinks in a 1930s London cocktail bar

Ladies awaiting their drinks in a 1930s London cocktail bar

Many of the recipes and fascination with cocktails stretch back to the prohibition era in the US from 1920 to1933. Popular drinks during that period included the Manhattan, White Lady, Monkey Gland, Old Fashioned and, perhaps the most celebrated of them all, the Sidecar.

What about the Philippines? Is the cocktail making a comeback?

A bartender putting the finishing touches to a cocktail

A bartender putting the finishing touches to a cocktail

According to the Peninsula Hotel, interest in cocktails among its clientele has never waned.

“Our guests are definitely interested in cocktails, especially our female clientele, who have a preference for fruity and sweet drinks and a lot of our cocktails are exactly these. They would rather have a cocktail over a beer, strong spirits or even wine,” said Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Adam Lifshitz.

He added that the Pen even has a bar, the Salon de Ning, dedicated to cocktails and it’s very popular.

Clearly the cocktail is here to stay.

As for the Corpse Reviver, I could not find a bartender familiar with this strange brew so here’s the recipe: two parts cognac, one part calvados (apple brandy) and one part sweet vermouth.

And the taste? Bloody awful, but it’s should revive any corpse.

Where’s my phone?

Most of us have lost a cellphone at one time or another. It’s really annoying, but once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Well not quite. I’m a great fan of cellphones that no one wants. You now, the old Nokias you can buy for a couple of hundred pesos. I’ve lost one of these twice, but got it back each time – not even the scabbiest of thieves is interested.

Okay, so I don’t look very cool using one, but then I’m an old codger who doesn’t look cool anyway.

Of course, if you’re one of the trendy people with an iPhone and it goes AWOL, then that’s probably the last you’ll ever see of it.

In many countries, one can insure a cellphone. Sadly not in the Philippines. As one insurance executive told me, the industry here would definitely not any make money insuring cellphones.

If we could insure out cellphones in the Philippines I wonder what bizarre claims people would make.

In Britain, one insurance company has received many weird and wonderful excuses.

Top of the list is a farmer who claims he lost his iPhone up the rear end of one of his cows when he’d been using the torch function to help out during calving. The phone did later ‘turn up’, but was too damaged to use again.

One woman was having a fight with her boyfriend and, in a temper, threw her phone at him, but it missed and hit a wall.

A couple on a cruise tried to photograph themselves re-enacting the ‘I’m the king of the world’ scene from the movie Titanic, but lost their phone over the side.

A woman claimed the vibration function on her phone stopped working when she constantly used it as an ‘adult’ toy.

A fireworks expert was setting up a show for a fireworks championship and, after leaving his iPhone within the ‘blast zone’, it was nowhere to be found when he returned after the show. It seems it was fired 3,000ft into the air before exploding in a stunning display.

A teenager, too mean to buy a ticket to see a Blur concert in London’s Hyde Park, clambered up a tree to get a good view and film the concert on his  phone. Alas, he dropped it while sitting on a branch.

A mother in the north of England claimed she’d baked her phone into a cake she’d been making for her daughter’s birthday. It didn’t endure the 350F heat.

A construction worker said his phone had fallen out of his back pocket when he pulled his jeans down before sitting on the CR. Not realizing, he went about his business and flushed it. The phone didn’t flush, but underwent serious water damage.

A man claimed he’d been filming monkeys from the car window in a safari park when a monkey climbed on the roof and snatched his phone.

So, how many of these bizarre claims were accepted? Not all were paid out, as some were doubted by the insurance team at the site, but all were investigated fully.  Amazingly most of them were accepted as valid.

Said insurance chief Lamerton: “We tend to see a lot of weird and wonderful claims coming in from customers. I’m not sure how some of them even came about, particularly in the case of the farmer and the cow. But, with the price of mobile phones these days it pays to insure them.”

What a pity we can’t insure our phones in the Philippines. Judging by these claims, you really never know what you might need to claim for!

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2012 Belen Contest Winners

Winners of the Bacolod Cultural Foundation's 2012 Belen Contest received cash prizes at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. Winner in the Most Creative and Innovative category was the San Antonio Abad Church, Taculing. The award for the Most Symbolic Belen went to St. Joseph the Worker, Dona Juliana Heights. And the winner for the Most Artistic Belen was St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub. Pictured are members of the Foundation with representatives from the winning churches.

Winners of the Bacolod Cultural Foundation’s 2012 Belen Contest received cash prizes at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. Winner in the Most Creative and Innovative category was the San Antonio Abad Church, Taculing. The award for the Most Symbolic Belen went to St. Joseph the Worker, Dona Juliana Heights. And the winner for the Most Artistic Belen was St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub. Pictured are members of the Foundation with representatives from the winning churches.

Rosemarie Tigley and Teresa Moises (4th and 5th right), representing the San Antonio Abad Church in Taculing, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Creative and Innovative category in the BCF's 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) Emilie Zayc, president Aracli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.  The winner in the Most Symbolic category was the St. Joseph the Worker Church in Dona Juliana Heights, while Most Artistic category title was won by the St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub. Representatives received cash awards on behalf of their churches.

Rosemarie Tigley and Teresa Moises (4th and 5th right), representing the San Antonio Abad Church in Taculing, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Creative and Innovative category in the BCF’s 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) Emilie Zayc, president Aracli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.
The winner in the Most Symbolic category was the St. Joseph the Worker Church in Dona Juliana Heights, while Most Artistic category title was won by the St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub. Representatives received cash awards on behalf of their churches.

Rosemarie Tigley and Teresa Moises (4th and 5th right), representing the San Antonio Abad Church in Taculing, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Creative and Innovative category in the BCF's 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) Emilie Zayc, president Aracli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.

Rosemarie Tigley and Teresa Moises (4th and 5th right), representing the San Antonio Abad Church in Taculing, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Creative and Innovative category in the BCF’s 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) Emilie Zayc, president Aracli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.

Danilo Cuello and Lerma Flores (2nd and 3rd right), representing St. Joseph the Worker church in Dona Juliana Heights, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Symbolic category in the BCF's 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) president Araceli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.

Danilo Cuello and Lerma Flores (2nd and 3rd right), representing St. Joseph the Worker church in Dona Juliana Heights, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Symbolic category in the BCF’s 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) president Araceli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.

Diana Rose and Mymy Alasaban (3rd and 4th right), representing St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Artistic category in the BCF's 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) Arch. Jonathan Fortu, president Aracli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.

Diana Rose and Mymy Alasaban (3rd and 4th right), representing St. Isidore Parish Church in Tangub, received a cash prize from the Bacolod Cultural Foundation (BCF) at an awards ceremony at the Sea Breeze Hotel on Monday. The church won the Most Artistic category in the BCF’s 2012 Belen Contest. Witnessed by Foundation members (l-r) Arch. Jonathan Fortu, president Aracli Mirano, Angie Echaus, Pacita Adeva and Elsie Coscolluela.

Birthday

Birthday. British Embassy Warden for Negros Occidental and NDB contributor, Robert Harland, celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday at Bob's Restaurant with members of the Capitolville Walkers Club – Boboy Javelosa, Ricky Monfort, Tony Orteiz, Amado Uy, Tuping Tupas, Steve Zayco, Bob Cuenca, Nonoy Zayco, Paquit Cuenca, Alvin Yu, Paquito Rossello, Eugene Javellana, Luis Tongoy (l-r standing). Jun de la Paz, Pepe Garcia, the celebrator Robert Harland, Sherbert Gella, Luis Locsin, Julius Jesena (l-r seated)

Birthday. British Embassy Warden for Negros Occidental and NDB contributor, Robert Harland, celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday at Bob’s Restaurant with members of the Capitolville Walkers Club – Boboy Javelosa, Ricky Monfort, Tony Orteiz, Amado Uy, Tuping Tupas, Steve Zayco, Bob Cuenca, Nonoy Zayco, Paquit Cuenca, Alvin Yu, Paquito Rossello, Eugene Javellana, Luis Tongoy (l-r standing). Jun de la Paz, Pepe Garcia, the celebrator Robert Harland, Sherbert Gella, Luis Locsin, Julius Jesena (l-r seated)

Unholy row at luxury car factory

The Reverend Francis Cooke

The Reverend Francis Cooke

I can’t imagine this ever happening in the Philippines, but then this is a predominately Christian country. But in England, Bentley Motors, makers of luxury cars so beloved by Arab sheikhs, has sacked its Christian chaplain in case his presence offends non-Christians.

To add insult to injury, the chaplain, the Reverend Francis Cooke, was sacked just before Christmas.

Despite ten years’ service helping Bentley workers, including non-Christians, he was asked to leave immediately.

Bentley, which is now part of the massive German Volkswagen group, said: “We have a wide range of faiths and want to take a multi-faith outlook. It would be very difficult to have somebody from each faith.”

The clergyman was stunned by the decision which he called “ridiculous”. Over the past decade he has visited the company’s factory in the north England once a week in his chaplaincy role to chat to workers.

“I am not angry but more upset because I am very fond of the workers and they trusted me,” he said.
“There have been no complaints against me and my position is to help people and not just those who are Christians.

Bentley cars - so beloved by Arab sheikhs

Bentley cars – so beloved by Arab sheikhs

“It is not just about offering religious services. I provide counselling to workers who have stresses at home such as broken marriages. I would spend a few minutes with each person which would be enough to help them feel better,” he added.

Workers at the giant factory are furious. They’ve launched a campaign to reinstate the highly respected chaplain, who they said was an ‘important figure’ who had even helped one employee who had been on the brink of suicide.

A chaplain with another British company said he was not allowed to mention his faith unless the person he was talking to requests it.

“Almost 100 per cent of  those I visit or talk to are not Christians,” he said, “but I get requests to see a large proportion of them. Only one person has been offended by what I have said, and that was a Christian lady who misunderstood what I said.”

“I deal with those of all religions and those of no religion. I deal with families, the sick, those who are dying and even get asked to do funerals by those who are not Christians. I do not do my job to gain converts, but to simply carry out the highest demand of my faith, which is to help those who need help,” he added

Said one Christian observer: “A little bit at a time Christianity and British traditions are being wiped out of our lives. The stupidity of political correctness is erasing both at an alarming rate.”

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66 and Still Standing

British national and Bacolod resident, Hazel Stuart, hosted a lunch for fellow-Brit, Robert Harland, on Tuesday at L'Fisher Hotel to celebrate his 66th birthday with friends. Bacolod City Mayor Evelio  Leonardia also dropped by to wish the celebrator a happy birthday. (l-r standing) First Lady Elsa Leonardia, Robert Harland, Stessie Hecita, Ivy Visitacion, Hazel Stuart, Mayor Evelio Leonardia (l-r seated) Ninfa sand Perla Leonardia.

British national and Bacolod resident, Hazel Stuart, hosted a lunch for fellow-Brit, Robert Harland, on Tuesday at L’Fisher Hotel to celebrate his 66th birthday with friends. Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia also dropped by to wish the celebrator a happy birthday. (l-r standing) First Lady Elsa Leonardia, Robert Harland, Stessie Hecita, Ivy Visitacion, Hazel Stuart, Mayor Evelio Leonardia (l-r seated) Ninfa sand Perla Leonardia.