Check a halo-halo, rice bowl @ Kublai Khan

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Do you remove lettuce from your burger? Or has the habit of picking out of your sandwich the cheese wedge?

Would you rather have red mung beans over boiled corn grains on your halo-halo (refreshment using ice shavings, milk, and a cocktail of colorful ingredients), a dessert item that is so much a part of the Filipino food culture. Or are you fond of setting aside julienned carrots of a veggie-based dish?

Kublai Khan Restaurant on the Ayala Center Cebu Terraces has developed a system to make it convenient for clients to enjoy their rice bowls and halo-halo. So diners won’t end up tossing the bean sprouts out of the bowl. Through the “Check a Bowl” and “Check a Halo” services, clients are given a list of ingredients divided into four sections – meat and sauces, condiments, vegetables, and base which is either rice or rice noodles (bihon or canton). Customers choose the items according to preference. That way they can enjoy their meals more, preventing further wastage of food, and paying only for what’s necessary.

This blogger, for example, is not so much into Schezuan but can tolerate native chili for hot and spicy Warrior Bowl. Doesn’t really pay attention to gizzard but adores liver (chicken and pork). And as tofu is a very healthy stuff, it is on top of the “ticking job.”

For the halo-halo, tahore or red mung beans is a favorite along with the natural sweetness of nata de coco, the pretty colors of kaong, the softness of coco strings.

According to Juditha Batino, store manager, they make sure that ice is shaved only the very moment the order comes in to maintain safety in food handling. “There’s no pre-shaving. We want ice to be pure as it should be, so preparation comes only after real-time orders are taken.”

She takes pride in “specially formulated milk that doesn’t need further granulated sugar.” Ingredients such as green gulaman, monggo, sweetened banana and sweet potato, jackfruit and leche flan, among others, are said to be homemade.

Rice bowl costs P140 while halo-halo is pegged at P79 but one can add P20 to get all 12 ingredients or the “7-5” formula (base and toppings).

Expect congee at its Cybergate outlet on midtown Cebu next month featuring chicken congee, seafood congee, and black congee or with squid ink.

Of the four outlets in Cebu, the one in Ayala Terraces is the biggest with 128 seats. Kublai Khan is also at the Parkmall, Robinsons Galleria at Fuente Rotunda, and at SM Foodcourt. One is in Bacolod. Two more outlets will be opened soon here.###

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SM Hypermarket – Lapu launches retail spaces

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

LAPU-LAPU CITY, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (April 24, 2015) — A community center is what SM Hypermarket in Pueblo Verde, Basak is all about. Says Steven Tan, senior vice president of SM Supermalls, the community here deserves a store in a “community format.”

“SM Hypermarket makes it convenient for Mactan Export Zone workers, Mactan residents, and travelers flying in or out of the Mactan Cebu International Airport by opening at 6 a.m.,” Tan said.

Product offering includes groceries, household items, appliances, clothes, toys, and furniture.

Today, service of around 30 retail stores on the second level is launched. These are a mix of mobile phone stores, cable TV services, lottery outlet, kids’ play pen, salons, among others.

Restaurants and food stalls are located on the first level of the said facility.

Restaurants occupying the first level include Cebu Lechon Belly, Dunkin Donuts, Ice Castle. Soon to open is Jonie’s Sizzlers & Roast.

Watsons is on the first level too.

Shops on the second level include Hollywood Spectacles, Oro China, Mr. Quickie, Avery Integrated Hub lotto outlet, Wow Travel & More, Aerophone, Audionet, Cellpod, RC Goldline, CQE, Apollo Cellshop, CD-R King, Quantum, Cherry, Oppo, JV Shop N Shop, Potato Corner, Digibabe, VIP, Franzy Salon, among many.

These stores are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

According to Sherry Tuvilla, regional operations manager-Visayas of SM Supermalls, with Jocelyn Veloso, vice president for operations – Visayas, services are expected to add excitement to customers’ shopping experience as SM Hypermarket Lapu-Lapu also incorporates bills payment, foreign exchange, and Western Union money transfer services to answer monthly, weekly, and routine transactions.

The duo explained that SM Hypermarket along Kadaugan Avenue, Pueblo Verde, MEZ II is the “first SM Hypermarket with a provision of over 30 retail spaces, accommodating dining facilities, clothing, services, cyberzone, and other dry goods.”

Guest performer was Kapuso talent Tom Rodriguez.

To recall this one-stop hypershop opened officially last February 26, this year, marking SM’s 43rd hypermarket- the third in the densely-populated Mandaue-Lapu business zones. Wattpad celebrity Nadine Lustre came to entertain shoppers.

Check and “Like” SM Hypermarket Lapu-Lapu on Facebook, or call 520.9425.###

$100M lost yearly to Spratlys reclamation

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (April 25, 2015) — Of all habitats, coral reefs offer the most valuable ecosystem services posting total economic value of 352,249 international dollars per hectare annually.

According to nationalist scientist, Dr. Edgardo Gomez, in his presentation on corals in line with the West Philippine Sea Bloggers Forum here, citing “Global estimates of the value of economic and other services in monetary units of habitats” by de Groot et.al. in 2012,  coral reefs are the most valuable of all habitats – open oceans, woodlands, grasslands, temperate forests, rivers and lakes, tropical forests, inland wetlands, coastal system and wetlands.

But then an estimated 100,000,000 international dollars are lost to massive dredging of channels and obliteration of corals in the creation of artificial islands in disputed Spratlys on the West Philippine Sea.

Coral reefs, home to maritime life, offer provisioning services amounting to $55,724 per hectare per year. Regulating services amount to $171,478; habitat services – $16,210; and cultural services – $108,837 or a total of $352, 249. Provisioning covers food, raw materials, genetic resources and ornamental resources. Regulating services has something to do with climate regulation, disturbance moderation, waste treatment, and erosion protection.

Habitat services is about genetic diversity, while cultural services involve esthetic information, recreation, and cognitive information.

“Why do you think we have beautiful sandy beaches?” Dr. Gomez asked. “We owe it to the corals. They produce calcium carbonate, they allow for growth of calcareous algae.”

But China’s aggressive reclamation activities in Spratly Islands have already destroyed around 300 hectares of corals. “Sediment piping, high-scale reclamation, extant structures (in the last two decades) lead us to an estimated $100 million annual loss,” the professor emeritus of the UP Marine Science Institute accentuated.

Images based on IHS Jane’s Satellite Imagery Analysis showed the following data on land area reclaimed: 14 hectares on Gaven Reef (Burgos Reef), 7.2 has. on Union Reef North; 12.5 has. on Union Reef South; 12 hectares on Cuateron Reef; and 265 has. on Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef).

“The point of this presentation is to let China know that it’s a large figure and that they are destroying healthy coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea that are so important for the productivity of neighboring marginal seas,” Dr. Gomez further stated.

“The message is China is harming the spot!”###

Arbitration pushed despite China snobbery on West Philippine Sea issue

‘What is ours is ours’

Arbitration pushed despite China snobbery on West Philippine Sea issue

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES (April 25, 2015) — Good fences make good neighbors.

But for China and the Philippines, it helps to underscore once more the fundamental principles that shape position on the issue of maritime territorial claims, such as the one in Bajo de Masinloc which is a jurisdiction of Zambales Province.

Maria Teresa Torres Almojuela, special assistant to the Undersecretary for Policy/executive director of the Maritime and Oceans Affairs Office – Department of Foreign Affairs, said that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas of 1982, each coastal state or country with coastlines like the Philippines and China have rights to territorial sea (12 nautical miles), contiguous zone (24 NM), exclusive economic zone (200 NM), and continental shelf (200 NM). A nautical mile is 1.8 kilometers.

However, China doesn’t respect UNCLOS provisions spread in 320 articles, nine chapters, and inked by 165 signatories. The UNCLOS is deemed “constitution for oceans” which espouses customary international laws, this according to Almojuela in her presentation “What is ours is ours.”

China stands firm that based on Nine-Dash Line, it owns virtually the South China Sea (misnomer in map labeling may have in a way triggered claims but was not emphasized in the presentation). China overlaps around 75 percent on the western portion of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, 60 percent overlap with Vietnam EEZ, 85% in Brunei, and 80% in Malaysia.

China pointed out that the nine-dash line is a “historical right.” Yet, it was only in 1947 that the then 11-dash line was mentioned in a map. China could not even explain on the exact coordinates of the said nine-dash line. Therefore, Almojuela, surmised that the claim has no basis in any international law.

The high-scale, massive reclamation (involving detrimental, aggresive activities like sediment piping, channel dredging to create artificial islands), construction of a runway and what may appear to be a military base on banks and shoals in disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea and the corresponding airspace, took strength from the said nine-dash line.

To call for a halt on further improvement of structures and the conceived bullying of fast emerging superpower nation China over smaller countries like Philippines and Vietnam, the Philippine government files an arbitration case.

“We have a strong basis to debunk China of its claim. We have UNCLOS, the constitution for oceans. Our precolonial history backs us up; that is, we are of Austronesian culture. Seafaring skills is an Austronesian heritage. We have been a seafaring nation long before the Chinese learned to trade with us, as they were more land-based,” Almojuela emphasized. “Even China’s ancient maps tell of Hainan as its southernmost tip.”

“Races of Austronesian origin were the first to use maritime spaces, the Chinese junks came later.”

“That’s why it is important to note the wrong narratives that China is trying to peddle,” Almojuela reiterated.

The cold shoulder China is giving to the arbitration case, meanwhile, only shows that as emerging superpower nation, they are asserting military power in the Asian region, Almojuela further stressed.

In 1995, China occupied Panganiban Reef by first creating a “fishermen’s shelter.” Today, the reef is completely a military garrison of China. Nearby Ayungin Shoal has been guarded by Philippine Navy soldiers onboard BRP Sierra Madre.

As for the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), it is a Philippine territory since 1975 wherein the Municipality of Kalayaan of Palawan was created. The island of Pag-asa took name after our state weather station (PAGASA) which runs a field station there since the ‘70s.

Other reclamation activities are on Union Reefs North and South or the Kennon and Johnson Reefs, respectively. It was further learned that the activities already destroyed around 300 hectares of coral reefs.

The bloggers forum meant to shed light on why the Philippines has to wrestle it out with China in the West Philippine Sea was an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Information Agency-Cebu Information Center, and the Cebu Blogging Community in the name of public awareness and social good.

Thirty bloggers, micro-bloggers, and social media managers of non-government organizations attended the forum at blogger-friendly Diamond Suites Inn, Cebu City.###

‘Technotour Amazing Adventure Challenge’ to explore southern, midwest Cebu

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Cebu’s best can be experienced through technology and a set of mental and physical challenges.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Cebu Provincial Capitol, Cebu Parklane International Hotel, and local government units initiate “Technotour Amazing Adventure Challenge” (an experiential tourism through technology) from June 16 to 18, 2015 covering southern and midwest Cebu.

In a press conference today, April 20, it was learned from organizers that this is a three-day, two-night adventure challenge that will promote and showcase Cebu’s tourism, food, people, culture and heritage through technology and adventure.

The event is open to teams composed of four participants, must be 18 years old and above. Teams must have a four-wheel vehicle sturdy enough to navigate and bring them from the city, to the south, midwest of Cebu, and back to the city, for three days. The challenge will start and end here in Cebu City.

Each team must have either one smartphone or tablet wherein they will use to download the app to get all instructions while they are on the road. They must be able to answer questions while they are on the road. They must be able to answer questions from the app to pinpoint the control points which will correspond to a historical site. The team must also be required to perform a task pertaining to a respective culture or product of a municipality. The first team who will be able to complete all control points, tasks and get to the finish line will be declared as the winner.

Registration fee per team is P20,000 (twenty thousand pesos) which includes two-room accommodation for two nights (twin-sharing), meals, race jersey and other freebies.

It was further learned that prizes may come in the form of gadgets, and other items, amounting to P30,000 for top spot depending on sponsors’ discretion.

This is just one of the activities in line with Cebu Business Month (Glocalized Cebu) 2015.

Participating component cities and towns are Talisay, Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon, Oslob, Santander, Samboan, Ginatilan, Malabuyoc, Alegria, Badian, Moalboal, Alcantara, Ronda, Dumanjug, Barili, Aloguinsan, Pinamungajan, Toledo and Balamban.

For more info, email info@cebuchamber.org or mymelgar@cebuchamber.org or jeff.saromines@gmail.com. Check cebuchamber.org or cebubusinessmonth.net/. Call the Chamber at 6332.232-1421 to 24 local 107-108.###

Blogging tutorial, social media marketing tackled in first CBC class

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

caption: The graduates of the first workshop, offered for free, by the Cebu Blogging Community with Mary Tinio Narvasa, community lead.

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Local domain sellers may shut down anytime, so it’s safe to avoid them. This concern opened the recent Cebu Blogging Community class dubbed “Blogging Website Tutorial and Social Media Marketing” facilitated by community lead Maria Margarita “’Mary” Tinio Narvasa. This is the first workshop offered for free.

CBC member Richard Rene “Richie Blue” Bunalos shared how upset he was upon knowing his previous website is already dead because the provider just chose to fold up. “Not a word. It could have been more acceptable if they at least give a notice,” Bunalos shared.

To buy domains, Narvasa suggested Namecheap.com offering $10.69 on first year and renewal, payment through Paypal, with free WhoisGuard. There’s also Godaddy.com offering a sale of $.99 for dot com domains this April, with renewal of $9.99. However, one needs a debit/credit card.

Member-bloggers got oriented on whether to use Blogger or WordPress, citing the pros of Blogger being free, reliable most of the time, limited set of templates that one can modify (coding experience needed), added advantage of Google’s robust secure platform. But then Google runs the Blogger service and has the right to shut it down anytime too. With its very limited tools allowing one to perform only specific tasks on his/her website, there is a significant risk that one will lose search engine rankings, subscribers, and followers once one moves to a different platform; there is limited support available for Blogger, and that it has not seen any major updates since a very long time.

As for WordPress, this is not free but WordPress is quite secure. And since it is a self-hosted solution, the blogger is responsible for security and backups.

Hosting is P2500 per year at Hostgator. There is also a thing such as shared hosting, of which Narvasa herself offers monthly hosting with unlimited bandwidth.

WordPress themes are available on mythemeshop.com, towfiqi.com, fabthemes.com, freewpthemes.co, wordpressthemesbox.com or simply Google “Free WordPress themes.”

To optimize productivity, bloggers are also given ideas where to source out uncopyrighted images: unsplash.com, littlevisuals.co, gratisography.com, pickupimage.com, lifeofpix.com, splitshire.com, and stocksnap.io. Tools to help create amazing photo edits are on pixlr.com, photoscape, PicMonkey, and Photoshop Express.

Social media marketing for beginners is also very important to optimize presence in the digital format. This is meant to make bloggers understand the significance of building a brand by designing a simple logo, to choose brand colors and brand texts. As Facebook is still most preferred social media platform, bloggers are urged to create a page, no matter how small one’s following is, to always add a call-to-action meme to FB cover image; complete the About page as followers are keen on knowing more about the site, create more photos, links, events, and videos. Most of all to never ask people to Like one’s page in giveaways. Rather to only invite.

The first CBC workshop meant to assist bloggers in finding their niche online, increasing reader generation, traffic and interaction, was attended by 12 of close to 70 CBC members.###

Young minds pledge on disaster response projects

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES —  One hundred nineteen youths last April 8 pledged to develop projects for disaster preparedness and humanitarian response for the next eight months as scholars of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Young Minds Academy (YMA) Season 9.

This was after they signed a covenant during the YMA Alumni Engagement Awards at the RAFI Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center (RAFI-EADSC) on Lopez Jaena Street, Cebu City.

“I expect to have fun, of course, and also to be challenged, to become a more responsible student, person and maybe then a future leader of the country if all things go well,” Jun Albert Pardillo, one of the scholars, said.

This season’s theme focuses on “urban development with emphasis on disaster preparedness and humanitarian response.” The scholars first signed the covenant before starting their YMA activities.

As part of the eight-month program, the YMA scholars are exposed to the localities in Cebu City to observe the actual situations in the community.

More than observing the community, however, the new YMA scholars are expected to come up with projects and solutions on disaster preparedness and response.

“The youth is the beneficiary of the change that, we, adults create. But instead of them just being the beneficiaries, we want the youths a component of that change,” RAFI president Roberto E. Aboitiz explained on why RAFI created the YMA program.

“We are here to commit ourselves and we are putting that commitment through signing (of the covenant),” RAFI chief operating officer Dominica B. Chua also said.

The YMA aims to produce individuals who are responsible and pro-active leaders, who are ready to give service to the public; who promote virtues of peace, pluralism, respect, and multicultural understanding.

“Sign it with a dream that you will become the best leaders that YMA has ever produced,” Chua said in challenging the scholars.

Mrs. Evelyn Castro, Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center executive director, said that “the program is only as good as how much you put into it. Mura na siya’g bangko, kung wala kay i-deposito unsa may imong kuhaon? (It’s like a bank, if you have not deposited something, what will you reap?)

She reminds the scholars to get involved in the activities and learn from the leadership training camps and community outreach activities.

Recalling her experience in YMA, Season 8 alumnus Josephite T. Padillo said that YMA has served as an eye-opener to her.

“Every day, everything we see seems to be just passive, the pollution, illiteracy and other problems in the community. It is already blatant that we become used to it, we sometimes fail to realize that we can actually do something to change these things,” she expressed in Cebuano. (RAFI Communications, contributed photo)

Tribe bae: No to BBL

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #netizenmedia

caption: Bae Makabulig (Ritalinda Lipiahan), a former supervisor of SM Malls in Manila, is now right hand of Datu Lolong, national chairman of Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation. The couple is seen here on their way to Sitio Tamusan, Brgy. Capehan, Libona town, Bukidnon for a tribal assembly. The children are residents of Tamusan.

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, NORTHERN MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES — “We say no to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We can’t trust some Muslims; they have this culture of reprisal or vendetta (rido) that it’s best to trust only when they are dead,” so states Bae Makabulig (Ritalinda Lipiahan), wife of Datu Lolong (Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr.) prior to our ritual in line with our membership to the Higaonon tribe on April 2 (Maundy Thursday) as migrants (bilaw or non-lumad bloodline).

A “bae” is a title given to a wife of a datu, the chieftain here of a Higaonon tribe. These two are trusted community leaders.

“I say that we can’t trust all Muslims because when they are angry, lisod kaayo na sila. Pag masuko, rido gyud na. Higaonons value peace. In fact, we are the most peace-loving people of all tribes here. We had only engaged in war when we really were left with no choice. But currently we have worked so hard on promoting economic sustainability as we battle continuously for the preservation of tribal reservation areas,” Bae Makabulig underscored.

Higaonons value promotion of social justice system: recognizing the rights of individuals, protecting and preserving their culture, traditions and institutions.

When Datu Lolong, national chairman of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan-Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation, was asked on reported armed movements recruiting Higaonons, he said that warfare and uprisings are decided by the Council of Datus. As for now, they bank on the various peace treaties forged by their elders such as the Treaties of Dawa (the right to alliance or association), as well as Durian (the right to self-determination under a national government).

“Our laws and peace treaties complement the provisions of Philippine Constitutions – 1935 and 1987 – that we are to unite tribes and to engage in peace processes, no matter how long and painstaking,” the datu added.

“One’s works speak well of one’s motives. How can the Bangsamoro attest to campaigning for peace but preparing, at the same time, for war? The act gives us the hint on how to course our judgment for the welfare of indigenous people here. We will decide what to do with these revolutionary groups when time comes,” the datu accentuated.

For now, they are not bothered by the recruitment activities as consultations between government troops and Higaonons reportedly harassed by revolutionary groups are ongoing. The last talk was held at Camp Evangelista last March 26 and 27 in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City.

Somehow, a culture of deceit is evident in the use of aliases by negotiators from the MILF camp. Mohagher Iqbal, for one, refuses to disclose his real identity, saying it is “normal for them to be carrying various names and monikers.”

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. led the questioning on Iqbal’s person, but failed to squeeze out substantial information.###

Higaonons get only 3% of job slots

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #netizenmedia

caption: Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr. (aka Datu Lolong) sits as national chairman of the Higaonon Tribe. He is seen here facilitating a ritual before a tribal assembly tackling concerns on division even among a supposed most organized tribe in Mindanao.

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, NORTHERN MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES — Acquisition of technical education and improved basic life skills are seen to surpass current chances of Higaonons to be accepted into important job sectors.

According to Datu Dencio S. Lipiahan, Sr. of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan – Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation, only three of 100 Higaonons qualify for important jobs like that in government, in the academe, in the manufacturing and labor sectors.

“That’s why we have put up a training center because what most Higaonons here lack in general education, they can learn from technical education specialists.” It was learned that Talugan Ta Tagoloan (TTT), in coordination with TESDA and employers based in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, open training on housekeeping, practical electricity, carpentry and mason works.

“We also tap some ex-abroad (members of the tribe who have previous experience of overseas work) to help in the training especially on certain adjustments to Middle East culture, how to handle work-related pressure and crisis, how to behave properly as an overseas contract worker, how to deal with home sickness, and the like,” the Supremo of the TTT said.

In a year’s time, around 30 members of the TTT have been deployed. Around 300 workers are needed in the housekeeping and carpentry sectors.

Further, Datu Lolong lamented of the fact that around P12 million funds were lost to non-Higaonon recipients. “Projects worth P400,000 and another around P12 million, that I know of, have been channeled to the wrong agencies and organizations with non-tribal members. We have not benefited from these. So it is best that when help comes to Higaonons, there is a legitimate organization like TTT to deal with, so project implementers will know the current needs of a tribe of which lands and forests are its people’s natural heritage.”

TTT office is in Balingasag, Talusan, Misamis Oriental; email taluganhigaonon@yahoo.com. It is registered under SEC #201329165, with TIN #436-294-976.

Datu Lolong is the national chairman and chief executive officer of the Talugan Ta Tagoloan – Supreme Council of Datus/Baes, Higaonon Tribal Communities Federation.###