Our Awesome Planet

Our Awesome Planet


30 posts from September 2008

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September 26, 2008

PATRIO-T-OURISM: “Only in the Philippines” By: Willy E. Arcilla

OurAwesomePlanet is partnering with Willy Arcilla (the marketing genius behind C2) and hopefully DOT to launch the "Only In The Philippines" campaign to market the Philippines. With permission from Willy, I'm sharing with you this article about the entire campaign. Read through it because it is very inspiring. We share the same views about the Philippines and how we should move forward on the tourism front. I would love to hear your comments about this article!

Enroute to Corregidor - 9

PATRIO-T-OURISM: “Only in the Philippines” By : Willy E. Arcilla

While the potential is boundless for tourism to become a growth engine for the country, it remains underoptimized. We salute the accomplishments of the Hon. Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano and his dedicated team for having attracted 3 Million foreign tourists in 2007, and we support their aspirations to generate US$5 Billion in 2008, but we also lament the fact we still trail our Asian neighbors. What can we all do to boost tourism?

The answer does not lie in foreigners, but in us. We will never achieve a quantum leap of growth in foreign tourists or dollar receipts if we do not first achieve a quantum leap in our patriotism and love for our countrymen. We cannot expect to attract foreign visitors to our country if we ourselves continue to leave in droves. Before we expect others to fall in love with the Philippines, we must first rekindle our love for our country. This is a must to the success of any human endeavor. No one can sell what he or she does not love.

Excessive Negativism

Secretary Ace Durano has been tireless in campaigning overseas, but sadly, his efforts and that of his team seem to be undermined – not by other countries, but ironically, by our own negative news reporting. All the negative journalism and pessimistic editorials, government scams and showbiz scandals, conflicts and controversies characteristic of media sensationalism have gotten so bad that not a few neighboring Asian countries now use our bad news as their own headlines. We may enjoy press freedom as a democracy, but at the cost of scaring away tourists and frightening foreign investors; at the risk of disillusioning our youth and accelerating the diaspora. The influence of media in forming lasting perceptions is so profound in today’s borderless world, driven by modern information and communications technology so we must be mindful of its consequences.

Perception and Reality

Today, the Philippines is already perceived across the globe as a country suffering from incurable graft and corruption, an endless communist insurgency and a worsening Muslim secessionist movement, unsolved kidnappings and criminality that has resulted in anarchy in the streets. This is mostly perception, not reality, or half-truths at best. The reality is there are 90 Million positive stories that unfold day-in and day-out in the country, written first-hand by positive and optimistic Filipinos who remain resilient and industrious. Sadly however, perception is oftentimes reality in publicity and media.

Press Freedom, Press Responsibility

The 2008 recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Honorable Governor of Isabela Grace Padaca, herself a former radio personality, said, ““Media itself is Power. The power of the media should be in the hands of those who will not use it for their own selfish interests.” In fairness to the press, Rhonda Byrne, author of the best-selling book “The Secret”, confesses, “When I discovered The Secret (which is the Law of Attraction), I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good. The news services and the newspapers are not in any way to blame for broadcasting bad news. As a global community, we are responsible for it. We buy more newspapers when a huge drama is the headline. The news channels’ ratings skyrocket when there is a national or international disaster. So the newspapers and news services give us more bad news because, as a society, that’s what we are saying we want. The media is effect, and we are cause. It is just the law of attraction in action!”

Bad News that is Good News

Our neighboring countries who have raced ahead of us in economic prosperity also report bad news but there is a major difference. In China for example, corruption scandals are reported with appropriate punitive measures already meted out, e.g., “Mayor of Shanghai Convicted of Corruption!” The message therefore to the local population including those in the government is: (1) Crime does not pay; while to the foreign community: (2) Come -- it is safe for you to travel and tour, trade and invest in China. Locally however, it appears that the slightest hint of irregularities or anomalies becomes a source of media frenzy. Sometimes one cannot resist but suspect if members of the media are abusing press freedom just to drive TV ratings and newspaper readership that results in higher circulation numbers and advertising revenues. One evidence of this is that one-half of what one reads in newspapers is a ton of bad news and the other half is a ton of bad ads.

Patriotism Promotes Tourism

Patriotism means moderating our self-flaggelation in media, but it also requires much more. Patriotism also means loving our poor -- uplifting them from the squalor that breeds drug addiction and criminality, gambling and alcoholism, which in turn translates into cleaner and safer neighborhoods, with no street urchins or roadside beggars, such as what Gawad Kalinga (Give Care) has been doing throughout the country. Patriotism means our richest taipans and ilustrados sharing their abundance to reduce income disparity and social injustice, enabling less fortunate Filipinos to improve their lot, promoting prosperity to benefit the common good. Patriotism calls for feudal landlords addressing the plight of the rural poor -- farmers and fishermen, thus addressing the root cause of our 40-year communist insurgency and Muslim secessionist movement, and ensuring the safety of local and foreign tourists in the countryside. Patriotism means stamping out graft and corruption in government, which will promote the growth of commerce and industry, inviting local small and medium-scale entrepreneurs to invest, thus providing more employment opportunities, raising living standards, educational quality and purchasing power, and ultimately enhancing the investment climate to attract foreign investors. Patriotism means paying the right taxes which can be used to provide adequate basic social services, translating to cleaner streets, lighted neighborhoods and safer cities. Patriotism also means enjoining our 10 Million overseas Filipinos to act as our ambassadors of goodwill, capitalizing on the potency of Word-of-Mouth marketing. Patriotism means protecting our environment – preserving our forests, maintaining our waters, and cleaning our skies, to keep our land beautiful and clean for locals and tourists. Patriotism, in the context of tourism, means investing in the “HEARTS” of a successful tourism campaign – Hospitality and Hotels, Enjoyable Experiences, Airports and Airplanes, Roads, Rail & RORO, Tour Packages and clean Toilets, Safety and Security.

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Rich Schefren Guided Profit System

A lot of people are asking me about Blogging and Internet Marketing. I just gave a talk to graduating IT students from different top universities and it was the most remarkable talk of the entire conference. I got interviewed in Masigasig Magazine and a lot of people are calling me to coach them on how to get started with professional blogging or internet marketing.

I learned most of my internet marketing strategies from my coach, Rich Schefren. He is launching a new internet marketing coaching program called Guided Profit System. (with my affiliate links) You might be interested to learn directly from my coach. The coaching program is $2,497 for a one-time payment or a payment plan of $750 now and 3 payments of $750. Check out the Top10 frequently asked questions about the Guided Profit System in Rich' Blog.

This is the last time I will be posting about internet marketing related post in OAP. I will be launching AntonDiaz.com soon focused on professional blogging, and internet marketing. OAP will be focused on Food , Travel and Lifestyle. Due to insistent public demand, I will be teaching a pilot group of students on how to become successful in their internet marketing business. Just let me know if you are interested. I would like to prioritize OAP friends in that pilot group.

Live an Awesome Life,

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Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. www.OurAwesomePlanet.com Copyright 2008.

September 25, 2008

Focaccia - a Slice of Italy in A.Venue Mall

A.Venue Restaurant Reviews in OAP
A Tale of Two Art Cafes in A.Venue
Gasthof - Home of Boracay's Famous Baby Back Ribs!
Burger Avenue's Ridiculous Challenge
Foccacia, A Slice of Italy in A.Venue Mall

Slice of Italy Foccacia
This is probably my favorite AVenue restaurant at the moment. Focaccia Slice of Italy is the meeting of two of my favorites -- C Italian Dining Panizza and Italianis FREE Focaccia bread. Finally somebody copied the panizza of Chris Locher's C-Italian Dining in Pampanga and I must say it is really good. Finally, I don't have to drive all the way to Pampanga to get a taste of Panizza.

Slice of Italy Foccacia-8
Marina Pazzo Rollio (Mini P130). Fresh Tomato, Sundried Tomato, Garlic and Pomodoro.

Focaccia's pizza is branded as Pazzo Rollio Crazy Rolls. It is best if you order the ones with meat like Milano, Prosciutto or Slice of Italy. The pizza is super thin cut-up diagonally into 8 slices for the mini and 12 slices for the normal one. You put arugula leaves and alfalfa sprouts at the end of one slice and carefully roll it up. You can eat it in half or just swallow the entire thing in your mouth. The arugula gives it a bitter finish.

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Foccacia Bread with Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chili Flakes and Parmesan Cheese. It is FREE but technically the cost is already folded into the prices of the other dishes. Their focaccia is the crunchier commercialized version. I actually love the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lots of parmesan cheese combination and I can take any bread to go with it. So far, Focaccia is the best complimentary to that combination.

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Burger Avenue's Ridiculous Challenge

A.Venue Restaurant Reviews in OAP
A Tale of Two Art Cafes in A.Venue
Gasthof - Home of Boracay's Famous Baby Back Ribs!
Burger Avenue's Ridiculous Challenge
Foccacia, A Slice of Italy in A.Venue Mall

Burger Avenue
These are the people who got FREE Burgers by beating the Ridiculous Challenge of Burger Avenue.

The ridiculous challenge is you have to finish a freshly grilled all-beef triple patty sandwiched on an oatmeal bun laced with crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and three cheese slices in 5 minutes and it is free! The Ridiculous Burger is equivalent to 3 burgers and it costs P224 if you don't finish it in 5 minutes. Most of the winners are men and recently a 10 years old kid was able to finish the burger in 5 minutes. After 5+ months in operation, they are still looking for more women to win this challenge :)

You can only win this once. I have not done it because I'm reserving it for a special occasion like after finishing a half-marathon :) What was your experience in taking this challenge? (Any tips?)

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Gasthof - Home of Boracay's Famous Baby Back Ribs!

A.Venue Restaurant Reviews in OAP
A Tale of Two Art Cafes in A.Venue
Gasthof - Home of Boracay's Famous Baby Back Ribs!
Burger Avenue's Ridiculous Challenge
Foccacia, A Slice of Italy in A.Venue Mall

I'm surprised why Gasthof is not taking off well in Avenue in Makati. With a heritage of serving good baby back ribs in Boracay and a branch in Legaspi City, I would have thought Manila would welcome it with open arms. Gasthof is owned by a German with a Bicolana wife so expect a Filipino-German mix in the cuisine. I've been going back to Avenue for some time now to complete my AVenue series and Gasthof is nearly empty during Lunch time. Maybe because they are still constructing it, most people think it is close or the prices are too expensive. (What do you think? )

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Baby Back Ribs Half Order (P450). The dish that started it all and became the all-time favorite of Boracay's for local guests and tourists. Succulent pork back ribs marinated in our special Gasthof sauce.

The only reason I included Gasthof is that there are a lot of people of who love Gasthof ribs. You don't have to go to Boracay to satisfy your craving. Although I heard lately that the Boracay branch is declining in popularity (not sure also what is the reason? any comment?).

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September 23, 2008

10 Reasons Why You Should Not Miss Watching La Boheme in Manila!


10 Reasons Why You Should Not Miss Watching La Boheme in Manila!

1. If you love Opera, witness the first ever full length all-Filipino cast Opera in the Philippines!

" This 2008 production brings a talented young cast and fresh inventive staging making it a real operatic tour-de-force. Playing the lead roles are tenors Juan Alberto Gaerlan, Dondi Ong and Gary del Rosario, who by the way also sang “Parpignol” in the Rolando Tinio version of Boheme at the CCP in the 90s. He is also presently a resident artist of the Seattle Opera House after spending many years with Cleveland Opera. Mimi, on the other hand, will be performed by Jennifer Uy, a finalist in the 2001 Maria Callas Opera Grand Prix in Athens, Greece, where she has worked intensively with Dame Joan Sutherland and Gundula Janowitz. Alternating as Mimi is Maribel Miguel who is making her opera debut while sopranos Ana Feleo and Elaine Lee play Musetta. Baritones Lawrence Jatayna and Jesus Baang plays Marcello while Joseleo Logdat and John Ocampos plays Colline and Schaunard, respectively. " (Philippine Opera Company)

2. If you are watching an Opera for the first time, join us in our excitement in watching the "World's Most Popular Opera" according to the New York Times!

I am excited to watch my first Opera. I don't have to fly all the way to La Scala in Milan or Metropolitan Opera House in New York to watch one. Also, La Boheme in Manila is more targeted to the youth rather than the elite society of Manila. I like the Philippine Opera Company's advocacy of bringing the Opera to more Filipinos as possible. The biggest misconception of the Opera is that it is only for the elite who can appreciate Italian music. I love a lot foreign songs which I don't even know the lyrics like Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye), Pie Jesu, and a couple of Josh Groban songs. I know a lot of friends who also listen to Italian or Opera music.

La Boheme will be purely in Italian and there will be no subtitles. The trick in watching this opera is you need to read the synopsis of all the 4 acts before watching it. In this way, you already know the gist of what is happening and you can concentrate in appreciating the beautiful love songs in Italian. It would be better if you can listen to La Boheme music before watching the show. I included the synopsis of La Boheme Manila in this post and the you tube videos of the 1979 La Scala performance of La Boheme.

3. If you have watched La Boheme Opera before, why not watch La Boheme with Manila as the setting?

LA BOHEME IN MODERN DAY MANILA? WHY NOT? by Floy Quintos, Director of La Boheme
When Giacomo Puccini wrote his immortal opera, “La Boheme”, he gave the world a view of love and lovers that was far from pretty or sanitized. And yet, the opera about Mimi, Rodolfo, Musetta, Marcello and their band of young bohemians is still called, “the greatest love story ever sung”. Perhaps the real glory of “La Boheme” lies in the fact that the storyline delves into youthful passion, obsessive jealousy, co-dependency and love-at-first sight and makes these rather unruly and uncontainable feelings soar with beauty of his music.

Puccini was also very concerned with the concept of “verissimo”, a truthful rendition of life even in an art-form like opera that is governed by artifice. He wrote about young people on the fringe of society, young people who make art and who can’t pay their bills, and yet are given to grand passions and extravagant gestures, like falling in love and breaking up on a whim. In short, it is a love story all about the dizzy joys and deep pitfalls of young love, as all young people experience it. The universality of Puccini’s themes transcends borders and, yes, physical settings.

Thus, it seems only right that the Philippine Opera Company’s exciting new production of “La Boheme”, while retaining the original Italian libretto, is set in present-day Manila, a city obsessed with youth and beauty. In this new production, Rodolfo and Marcello are Indie artists working on their manuscripts and their multi-media art forms. Mimi is a creator of silk accessories, and Musetta, an ambitious and brazen performer out to make a name for herself. The horizon that Rodolfo’s garret looks out to, is a jungle of billboards advertising the promises of youth and beauty. The famous Café Momus is set in a street full of tiangge stands. The third act, traditionally set in a camp outside an army garrison, is now a tired perya in the off-season. The characters of Puccini’s masterpiece could be any young person wanting to make a name in a city that doesn’t care. That is the look and feel of the POC production. Aside from being a statement on the impermanence of love, the POC “Boheme” is also about a statement about young people on the fringe of society.

4. If you are a RENT fan, watch ACT I where you will see the original version of RENT's Would You Light My Candle song.

La Boheme, Manila ACT I. In their small apartment, the painter Marcello and indie film art director Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning pages from Rodolfo's latest drama. They are joined by their comrades — Colline, a young philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician who has landed a job and brings food, fuel and funds. But while they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, arrives to collect the rent. Plying the older man with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation. As the friends depart for a celebration at the nearby Café Momus, Rodolfo promises to join them soon, staying behind to finish writing an article. There is another knock: a neighbor, Mimì, says her candle has gone out on the drafty stairs. Offering her wine when she feels faint, Rodolfo relights her candle and helps her to the door. Mimì realizes she has dropped her key, and as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. In the moonlight the art director takes the girl's shivering hand, telling her his dreams. She then recounts her solitary life, embroidering flowers and waiting for spring. Drawn to each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave for the café.

La Bohème 01 - La Scala 1979 - Che gelida manina

LaBohème 02 - La Scala 1979 - Sì, mi chiamano Mimì

La Bohème 03 - La Scala 1979 - O soave fanciulla

5. If you are an Ana Feleo fan, watch ACT II where I can't wait to see how Ana Feleo would perform the sexy Musetta.

La Boheme, Manila ACT II. Amid shouts of street hawkers, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet near the Café Momus before introducing her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. A toy vendor, Parpignol, passes by, besieged by children. Marcello's former lover, Musetta, enters ostentatiously on the arm of the elderly, wealthy Alcindoro. Trying to regain the painter's attention, she sings a waltz about her popularity. Complaining that her shoe pinches, Musetta sends Alcindoro to fetch a new pair, then falls into Marcello's arms. Joining a group of marching soldiers, the Bohemians leave Alcindoro to face the bill when he returns.

La Bohème 04 - La Scala 1979 - Quando m'en vo'

6. If you are a blogger, Bachelor Girl is inviting bloggers for a special La Boheme preview!

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Our FaMEALy Day

Our FaMEALy Day-7

I must admit that I often dragged my feet whenever we would go to my in-laws for Sunday lunch with the entire family. When we started to have kids, I learned that having a family meal is one of the best gifts we could ever give our children. Last Sunday, I realized how blessed we were to be together. The children loved to play and it is always a riot when they meet. Sunday lunch would often be a coordinated potluck event between my wife's siblings. It is a feast complete with dessert. We'd call our parents via Skype to greet them and express how much we missed them during these times. It is usually a long lunch with lots of chikahan about the latest happening in our lives. Often, it would be stories about the kids, latest finds or a new girlfriend would be introduced. After lunch, the kids look forward to swimming time and spend the entire afternoon in the pool until sunset. It is always a long farewell process whenever the kids part ways. It seemed that one full day is never enough for them.
I asked Aidan before we went to sleep that night, "Are you happy playing with your cousins today?". Aidan paused and replied, "Yes Poppa, I'm happy!" At that point, I realized that these moments were priceless. We vowed not to take it for granted ever again and continue to create loving childhood memories for our kids and their cousins.

Our Awesome Planet supports the celebration of National FaMEALY Day 2008! This is my official entry for the FAMEALY VALUES: What I Learned from the Dinner Table Lucky Me! and Philippine Star Photo Contest!

Our FaMEALy Day-17
Syoti Josh starting to type in the computer at 10 months old.

Josh and Aidan latest wacky photo.

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Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008

A Tale of Two Art Cafes in A.Venue

A.Venue Restaurant Reviews in OAP
A Tale of Two Art Cafes in A.Venue
Gasthof - Home of Boracay's Famous Baby Back Ribs!
Burger Avenue's Ridiculous Challenge
Foccacia, A Slice of Italy in A.Venue Mall

Botong's Restobar-2
I've been checking out A.Venue mall lately and this is one of the places in Makati that is less crowded during lunch or dinner time. I would like to share with you our experience on two of the Art Cafes in A.Venue. Botong's Restobar and Artina Gallery Cafe both feature paintings of different artists as part of their overall ambiance. It is interesting to go there on a regular day or if you just want to get out of the business district crowd.

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Artina Gallery Cafe @ A. Venue

Artina claims that their food is based on classic French cooking techniques. The food is more western fusion with salads, pastas, and sandwiches ranging from P150-250 and main entrees from P350-400. Check out --> Artina Gallery Cafe Menu. It tries to recreate a garden type ambiance with the use of heavy iron black chairs and different plant accents. The art gallery display is the main highlight of the resto featuring Artist Jose Guillermo Cristobal Naval's paintings.

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Mesclun with Italian Vinaigrette with crisp phyllo-stuffed mushrooms (P190+). We liked this lumpia variation with fresh greens salad.

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Trio of Mushrooms with Hint of Fresh Herbs ( P 135+). Too mushroom in taste but this is how we like our mushroom soup.

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Risotto with al Funghi with Fragrant Truffle Oil and Shaved Parmigiano (P 220+). You can't go wrong with this risotto with truffle oil. This reminded me of the same dish we enjoyed at Sala.

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Classic Beef Pot Roast with Vegetables and Mushroom Jus Lie (P380+). Tender beef cubes with sweet vegetables.

Artina Cafe-9
Grilled Salmon Fillet with Citrin Risotto, Pesto Glaze, and Grilled Vegetables (P360+). Our salmon was a bit mushy either because of the way it was cooked or the quality of the salmon meat was not good.

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LemonGrass Tea (P70+). Lemongrass tea is quite common these days and it is quite easy to do this. Order this if you are looking for a refreshing drink.

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Artina Gallery Cafe
Ground Level, A. Venue Mall
Makati Ave. cor. Juan Luna St.Website: Artina Hotel Suite Website
Phone Number: +632 729-8983

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