Friday, September 30, 2016

Larry and the bacon

Larry had waited long enough, he got out of the car and began to look around the campus for the boy whom he was to fetch from school. It would be one long afternoon looking for him.

Bugoy na bata-a” (what a mischievous kid) the family driver could only mutter describing the penchant of this rebellious kid to make his life difficult whenever he comes for him in the afternoon.

Many, many years passed, the once-mischievous lad would visit the wake of his family’s former chauffer. In front of Larry’s family, the man would fondly recall of his pranks, of how he would wait for Larry to exit the school before skipping his classes and how Larry would be at wits end looking for him when he fetches him in the afternoon.

That bugoy would grow up to become an extraordinary man, he is no less than the legendary Davao City Mayor and the current Philippine President- Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Larry meets up with the man whom he used to drive to school,

Larry’s granddaughter Joanne Divinagracia Domingo would listen to the then city mayor’s stories about his lolo Larry with tears in her eyes.

She describes herself as the closest to lolo Larry among his grandkids.

“When I was a kid he would call me Inday Badiday which is an Ilonggo term of endearment.” Joanne recalls.

“I was really close to him, He was super maalaga at malambing (caring and sweet), when I was still working in Manila and I would return to Davao for vacation, before returning to Manila he would give me a bayong of vegetables, fruits and dried fish he was worried that I was not eating well in Manila.

Joanne remembers her lolo for being frugal but kind-hearted and generous. He would bring our old toys when he goes to visit his relatives in the province, he really likes it when he gives something to the children in the barrio.

Working as a family driver for the political families of the Almendras and the Dutertes,  Hilarion “Larry” Divinagracia would strive hard to support his brood of seven kids. Joanne’s mother Dina is the second eldest of Larry’s children.

It helped that Larry’s kids excelled well in school and received scholarships. When his older children became professionals they began helping out  the other siblings.

Larry was stricken with cancer in 2010, Joanne resigned from her medical representative job in Manila  and return to Davao to take care of her lolo. He passed away in that same year, he was 79.

Joanne admits still missing her lolo Larry. When she and her younger brother put up a homemade bacon business, there was no question what name to put in that product.

Joanne with her favorite lolo

“Larry’s Homemade Bacon is a tribute to my lolo, it was my way of remembering him” Joanne says.

The bacon is a recipe of her mom Dina, who learned it in a school in Manila but revised the school’s recipe to come up with her own.

“I kept changing the recipe to suit my taste.” Dina says describing the process of creating the perfect bacon as a product of trial-and-error with her kids also becoming the testers.

“If they find it too salty, I adjust the recipe, ganun, it’s like that.” Dina remembers the process of coming up with her household bacon.

“I originally made those bacon for the kids since they love having these at breakfast, I figured out instead of buying commercial bacon I can save money by making these at home." Dina recalls.

One day, Dina asked a friend of Joanne if she would want to try her homemade bacon. Her daughter’s friend loved it so much she placed an order for the bacon.

At first Dina refused reasoning out that the bacon were just for the home and never thought of selling them.

But Dina’s kids JP and Joanne saw the business potentials of their mom’s homemade bacon. They invested a small capital to start off with the business. They began selling it to their relatives and friends.

The bacon were well received. Among the early patrons of Larry’s bacon were Joanne’s friends, who by word-of-mouth attracted more buyers, some of the bacon were shipped to Manila and Palawan.

When they put up a display area at Mercado Locale in SM Lanang it became a hot-selling item. Some of the regular customers became resellers themselves.

 "The secret to the bacon is having choice pork cuts we are using quality meats.” Joanne says.

And Joanne is firm in adherence to quality, when there are no stocks of choice meat, production is halted.

Larry’s Homemade bacon is a great stand-alone meal or a snack, but it can also be used in a variety of dishes.

During the product launching at Kusina sa Subli, a restaurant near Joanne’s home in Matina. Larry’s Homemade bacon were used in bacon mashed potatoes, rice balls and burger sliders. It was also used as toppings in cheese cupcakes.

bacon-wrapped rice bombs

bacon burger sliders

Bacon-topped cheese cakes (cupcakes from Sheenful Sweets-Invilicious)

bacon slabs

These days the Domingo’s home is busy with family members helping out in smoking, curing and packing the bacon to supply the increasing orders.

JP the culinary entrepreneur of the Domingo siblings is thinking of ways to expand the household business he is planning on selling their homemade tocino.

Booth at Mercado Locale at SM Lanang

The Bacon Feast featuring Larry's Homemade Bacon at Kusina sa Subli

The team behind The bacon feast.

Joanne is thinking of ways to market the products; she is now fully focused on the day-to-day operations of their bacon venture after helping out in the Presidential campaign of Rodrigo Duterte where she rode the campaign bus across the archipelago with her grade school clique which includes as fate would put it-Sara Duterte, grandchild of her Lolo Larry's former employer, Governor Vicente Duterte.

Joanne campaigning for the man whom her Lolo Larry used to drive to school

With the growing business, Joanne believes that her lolo Larry is helping his grandkids to succeed in business.

“I’d like to believe he is cheering for us in heaven and he is happy of what we have done.” Joanne says.

“One way to succeed in the business is to love what you are doing and love your product. When you love your product you will never compromise its quality and you will never get tired of selling those to people.” Joanne imparts an invaluable lesson she learned from the business.

For Larry's Homemade Bacon inquiries and orders you can text or call 09325623850.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Why Davao City Needs More #DigitalInfluencers

A few years back I was tapped by the City Tourism Office in brainstorming for a video commercial.

My concept was titled "Miss Concepcion" and the video was supposed to run like this

Anna Concepcion along with her barkada are planning their annual vacation. One of them suggests going to Davao City, to which the group agrees except for Anna Concepcion.

Anna: Di ba magulo dun? 

(insert Davao City cops on patrol, 911 units)

Anna: Di ba probinsya dun?

(insert scenes of malls and modern high rises)

Anna: Di ba madumi dun?

(insert CENRO streetsweepers clean city streets, green parks then segue to various atractions)

Mayor Digong on the steps of the City Hall delivering his spiel

"The best way to experience Davao, is to visit it!"

The video was a play on misconceptions about Davao which had prevented several "Miss Concepcions" from visiting the city.

In the past  one would invest in TV commercials or advertisements to attract tourists. These ventures are costly to produce and to place them in various media.

With the internet and the unprecendented growth of social media via mobile technology like smart phones, tablets, laptops, cameras etc. Debunking these misconceptions would rely on a new generation of digital influencers.

Digital influencers are a specific set of people with the capability to create an effect, change opinions and behaviors and make quantifiable outcomes through their activities on the internet and social media.

Mayor Carlo Rabat of Mati City had recognized the role of influencers and is among the first local government officials to initiate marketer influencing. Instead of producing tourism ads he decided to entice young people to become influencers for Mati,  To promote their fabled Dahican Beach he supported the holding of an EDM event Summerfrolic.

The partygoers on Summerfrolic shared photos on Facebook and Instagram or blogged about the event. These posts attracted  multitudes of visitors to Mati during the next holidays.

In another case, they billeted visiting actress Kathryn Bernardo to a villa in Dahican. Ms. Bernardo woke up facing the beautiful Dahican sunrise, naturally she grabbed her phone, photographed the sunrise and the surrounding seascape and posted it in Instagram, voila a marketing coup.

There are perhaps a thousands of influencers in Davao City either through their blogs, online news media or social media accounts their impact is noticeable. One perfect example, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was elected as President despite being the lowest elections spender among the other candidates. his candidacy pushed by an aggressive army of digital influencers.

In the future there will be a beloved city to promote, an advocacy to promote and there will be various causes to fight for. With a growing population going online, the the number of influencers must not stagnate, it must be dynamic, growing in the rapidly changing times.

The establishment of the Davao Digital Influencers Inc whose members comes from a wide spectrum of digital media practitioners mirrors the changing landscape of digital media, a dynamic platform one which contribute not just for the betterment of themselves but also of the community as well.

The upcoming Davao Digital Influencers Acquaintance Party is brought to us by PLDT HOME, SMART, COCA-COLA FEMSA, CEBU PACIFIC, PREP, JOLLY, PARK INN RADISSON, SEDA, JG SUMMIT HOLDINGS, INC., MARCO POLO DAVAO. In partnership with San Miguel Brewery Inc, Biscoff, TBR Concepts, Kaiser Webs, Kai Artisan Chocolates, Bren Ang Photography, M Magazine.

Thank you to our generous sponsors for supporting Davao Digital Influencers, Inc

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Locally, the Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines operates 19 plants and 53 sales offices and distribution centers across the country. It has operates two plants and one Distribution Center in Davao. The first plant was established in May 1950 and is located along MacArthur Highway. The second plant is located in Barangay Darong, Sta. Cruz. Collectively, both plants employ around 350 associates.

The Davao Digital Influencers Inc. is supported by Cebu Pacific, the largest airline operating flights to Davao. It offers seat sales that go as low as P599 all-in, and a network that spans Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Guam. It operates direct flights from Singapore, Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga to Davao. Book now through bit.ly/DavaoCEB or call 7020-888. The latest seat sales are also up on Cebu Pacific’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Doña Luisa: A trip to the President's residence

DAVAO CITY-  Doña Luisa Subdivision Phase I is a small middle-class community located in the suburb of Matina.

Lately the subdivision has become a destination of sorts for tourists and residents alike. A plain-looking green house in the edge of Doña Luisa’s Sapphire Street is the home of the long-time City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, now the country’s 16th President.

A visit to the President’s house is the focal-point of the “Duterte Tour” spearheaded by the Department of Tourism. The visitors are taken to a brief tour of the street fronting the house and also well-known projects of the city mayor like the Central 911 and Museo Dabawenyo.

Sapphire Street is located at the farthest end of the subdivision, bordering the golfing greens of the Davao City Golf and Country Club. Visitors are told to park their car at the adjacent Jade Street. Before entering the street the visitors are told to sign at a logbook located in a police checkpoint.

Sapphire Street

The Visitors are limited to just gawking at the frontage of the house or taking a selfie with the President’s standee put up in front of the gate.

The house tour entails a brief walk and along the way several enterprising residents have set up small shops,  selling souvenir items such as key chains, ref magnets, caps, mugs, stickers and shirts.

Enterprising residents set up shop selling souvenir items

Jenny Martinez a former Emergency Medical Technician of the Davao 911 sells tuna pastil (tuna flakes and steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves), pork barbeque, siomai, ube flan and choco flan. Their home is a few houses away from the President.

“I started selling after the President’s proclamation when more and more people came here.” Jenny says. 

She learned her recipes from watching You Tube. The Pastil she learned from a friend who used to cook for a Muslim royal family in Cotabato.

She says the enterprise was to augment her income, she resigned from her job to take care of her ill father.

Jenny Martinez (left) at her barbeque and pastil stand

One of the best pastils I've tasted

The barbeque and the pastil is a hit among the tourists and Jenny's neighbors. Jenny sells around 40 barbeque sticks and 45 pastils an average. The food are cheaply priced ten pesos for a stick of barbeque, twelve pesos for pastil, ube flan sells for twelve pesos.

We don’t have rent to pay, we don’t hire helpers, there is little overhead expenses, so I can afford to sell these in a lower price. “I don’t really want to take of advantage by selling the food at a higher price.” Jenny says.

She says she had not seen the President around the subdivision after being proclaimed as President. “He used to walk around the community, s really humble person.”

Jenny though expects her enterprise to close shop soon as there are plans of banning visitors going to the street due to security concerns.

John Dale Bation  became well-known in social media when the picture of him and the then Mayor Digong riding his pedicab went viral online.

John Dale Bation and the pedicab where the President rode

John Dale's ref magnets

“The President rode my pedicab, he wanted to go the carinderia along the highway to eat there.” John Dale recalls.

Now John Dale is no longer plying his pedicab, he had converted it into a rolling store selling souvenir items. Among the saleable items are key chains and ref magnets.

He estimates that 1,000 tourists visit the President’s house on weekends, on weekdays about 300 to 500 people. John Dale earns a gross income of P1,500 daily. The items he sells came from his friends whom he asked to make and supply for his needs.

Visitors in front of the President's residence

“The President is really down to earth. He just walks around the subdivision.” John Dale says.

John Dale’s rolling store is located at the frontage of Mercy’s Hulagpos’s home located just a stone-throw away from the President’s home. She allows John Dale to continue his trade.

“He is just like one of us.” Mercy describes the President as a neighbor. He walks around the subdivision and mingles with the residents.

Mercy says tourists have enlivened the street. Most of the visitors came from Luzon and Visayas. Occasionally they could see celebrities as among the visitors to the house.

Mercy and John Dale says that with their Mayor becoming President , things have become safer at Dona Luisa particularly with the added police presence in the area. 

The homeowners association is also beefing up subdivision security by requiring homeowner vehicles to have stickers and pedicab drivers plying the area to have their IDs.

With the Kadayawan Festival in the city, Mercy and John Dale are expecting more tourists to visit the house and with it they would be willing to share an anecdote or two of their Presidential neighbor. 

Evening visit with friends

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Shooting the President

The first President from Mindanao, getting more than 15-million votes, 6-million more than his nearest rival.

President Rodrigo Duterte was a long-time Mayor of Davao City (22 years). Joining the Philippine Information Agency in 2003,I was able to cover some of his activities in his stints as City Mayor, Vice Mayor (2010-2013) and President-elect.

Unfortunately some of the old photos were in my old desktops and laptops which I could no longer retrieve.

Here are some of the photos each with little stories of its own.

Shot this in 2010 during the first Presidential visit of President Benigno Aquino III. President Rody was a newly-elected Vice-Mayor in this photo. I think he was unintentionally locked out from the Presidential event at the Marco Polo Davao ballroom and proceeded to meet with a small group of demonstrators at the freedom park across Marco Polo Davao.

At the Marco Polo Davao lobby taken a year ago (2015), he was reading a script guide written in a small piece of paper for his video greeting in the occasion of San Beda's alumni homecoming. I was his spiels director.

The "director" and the Mayor, photo-op after the San Beda alumni video shoot (photo taken by Lou Daniel)

At his designated precinct at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo Nat'l. High School. The once reluctant Presidential candidate awaits for the situation in the classroom to calm down, a crowd of photographers and video cameramen had entered the precinct

Squeezing among a crowd of media men to take this shot. The President votes at his precinct at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School. That school chair is now preserved as memento.

The night after the elections, initial tally had him leading the presidential race, He is "ambushed" by reporters at the hotel lobby of the Royal Mandaya Hotel, the girl facing him is his daughter Kitty.

The press conference at the Matina Enclaves on May 16.

Signing a Time Magazine with him as cover 
Veteran photojournalist Rene Lumawag has the biggest collection of Duterte photographs having covered him in the 1980s when he was still the OIC Vice-Mayor. You can get a glimpse of some of the photos in his exhibit at Abreeza Mall (Rody Duterte thru the years) which runs from June 23 to July 6. Shot this scene at the unveiling with  ms. Elizabeth Zimmerman-Duterte as guest-of-honor.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A night at the BEEReaucracy

BEEReaucracy is located in a small nook along Palma Gil Street in Obrero, occupying a former photo studio. It is strategically located beside the popular Brewery Bar and adjacent to Bricklane Square, a strip of bars frequented by Dabawenyos during weekends.
Beereaucracy is a unique bar compared to its neighbors as it offers more than 70 brands of beers on its menu, including 62 craft beers not found in regular bars in the city.
Craft beers are made by small, independent brewers using traditional or innovative brewing techniques that produces a unique flavors not tasted in regular beers.
The bar owned by Nico Vincent Lopez and his fiancé Imma opened in June last year.
Nico says the idea of putting up a bar came from his other half who is into drinking and collecting different kinds of beers.
Nico was a drummer of the band group named 12monthstopay which later was renamed as Sidecrash. The band achieved fame thru its original songs such as "One Last Time", "Miss User Friendly" and "Crazy for Your Smile".
From Davao City the band decided to try out their luck in Manila. During their gigs in the different bars and nightspots, Nico would then try out all available beers in different bars.
He would bring bottles of these beers to Davao City and place it on the shelf of his room. His shelf could no longer accommodate all of his collection that he had decided to go for a bar.
According to Nico, Filipinos are more familiar with lagers. A kind of beer stored in low-temperature conditions and used of bottom fermenting yeast. Popular lagers are the San Miguel Pale Pilsens, the Red Horse and San Miguel Light, Beer na Beer, Gold Eagle, and etc.

Bar owner Nico Lopez

Beereaucracy apart from Lagers has a wide array of Ale another beer type known for its warm fermentation method and characterized for being fruity, sweet and full-bodied taste.
Popular beer styles in the bar include Indian Pale Ale which is characterized with a strong hoppy flavor. Nico says IPA originated in India when it was still colonized under the British colony.
Craft beer’s commitment to quality, consistency and uniqueness being strict to the integrity of its ingredients like wheat or barley, malts, hops and yeasts makes it the most expensive among mainstream beers.
The bar has 32 local craft beers mostly from Cebu and Luzon. Among the popular brand is the line of craft beer created by Josemari Cuervo, former vocalist of the metal band Razorback.
BEEReaucracy also offers the popular Turning Wheels craft beers from Cebu including the renowned Imperial Stout. Mindanao is represented by Fat Pauly craft beer from Iligan City.

Nico says his ultimate dream is to become a craft beer brewer, perhaps the first one in Davao City. However he says the cost of a micro-brewery with a 20 gallon capacity is about a million pesos. For now he goes on collecting new kinds of craft beer which he intends to introduce to the Davao market.
He says craft beer is for the beer drinker whose premium is on taste and quality, among his regular clients are expatriates who would go all the way from their homes in the suburbs to drink and buy a few bottles of their favorite craft beer.
If you want to try out a one-of-a-kind beer adventure head out to the BEEReaucracy in Obrero and explore their wide array of craft beers that you won’t find here in Davao City. (as published in Sunstar Davao)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Preserving Davao City's Green Spaces

Environmentalists and concerned citizens were in an uproar when the City Council of Davao passed an amendment to the City Land Use Plan in January of this year.

The amendment removes the required 10% allotment for green space mandated upon housing developers. The green space requirement is incorporated into the 30% open space requirement.

Under the present law, 30% of the total land area of the housing development is for open spaces (for use of clubhouse, roads, drainage and other facilities.) In Davao City, developers are required to allot 40% of their land  to open spaces (30%) and green spaces (10%).

The green spaces are for village parks and tree parks. Housing developers have argued that only 60% of their land will be left for housing thus the request for the amendment.

According to the proponents in the city council, the amendment will benefit the buyers as it would lower property prices, most developers would add-on the cost of the green space to the prices of the property.

However cause-oriented groups rallied against the amendment, stating that they were not invited to the committee hearings which led to the amendment and also the amended law would mean the loss of precious green spaces which the city lacks.

Ultimately the amendment was vetoed by the City Mayor. The amendment was cited as vague, ambiguous and ultra vires (beyond the power of the council)

The foregoing controversy have opened the eyes of many Dabawenyos to the importance of green spaces to the City.

The City Government of Davao maintains about 16 parks, 6 landmarks and 148 center islands. The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) is the local government agency task in maintaining these public green spaces.

Among these public parks include Rizal Park (Plaza), Osmeña Park, Magsaysay Park, Centennial Park, Millenium Park, Clifford Park, Quezon Park and the People's Park. Other greenbelts and green spaces include the Dacudao Avenue Greenbelt and the Buhangin Flyover.

Aside from public parks there are also private properties which had served as parks or green spaces and opened to the public. There is the wide expanse of the Riverfront Corporate City or known as the Crocodile Park complex, the Adarna-owned Davao Baywalk Park, the Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague in Matina Shrine Hills and the Aboitiz owned Cleanergy Park formerly known as the Turtle Sanctuary.

Save for the four-hectare People's Park, many of the existing parks are small and are not actually green, Rizal Park is a cemented plaza with plant and tree boxes, Quezon Park is also a small park with limited green space.

In 2016, the urbanized area of Davao City is about 40,000 hectares (Davao City's total land area is 244,000 hectares) of the urbanized area the total public park spaces amounts to only 14.76 hectares. In contrast the average size of a park in Singapore is about 24 hectares.

The ideal ratio would be 10 square meters of parks per person and if multiplied by the city's 1.5 million population we should have 1,500 hectares of parks and open spaces or 3.75% of the urbanized area of Davao City.

Based on the size of our public parks, the public green spaces accounts for just .037% of the total urban area.

The Rizal Park is a concrete civic space, barely no room for greenery except for plant and tree boxes
Trees abound inside the Osmeña Park

The People's Park was originally the site of the PTA Sports Complex.
The Millennium Park is actually a large center island, it is designated as a Freedom Park 
Dacudao Avenue green belt, the road runs along a drainage canal  which is is lined with 672 mature trees. it is considered as a
green space
The mangrove walk  at the Aboitiz-owned Cleanergy Park in Punta Dumalag, Matina Aplaya. A hectare of mangroves can sequester 1.5 metric tons of carbon per year.

The private green spaces though largely open to the public is subject to development and changes as dictated by the needs of the owners.

Thus there is a need for the city to maintain and expand public parks and green spaces for its growing population.

Benefits of Green Spaces

According to studies green spaces provide health benefits to its residents. Access to these green spaces have resulted to residents with better perceived general health, lowered stress levels and reduced depression.

According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is a health risk and access to parks provide residents with enough levels of physical activity for a healthy lifestyle.

Early morning zumba at the People's Park

One prime example of this health and lifestyle role is the Peoples Park which provides an area where people can jog or in early morning have their regular Zumba exercises.

For environmental purposes, parks with their trees help in sequestering carbon thus contributing in mitigating global warming. Greenbelts and linear parks with their shady trees can motivate people to walk to their destination instead of using cars.

The importance of trees in controlling green house gases is much more pronounced nowadays as according to the Philippine Climate Change Commission the global temperature change has reached 1 degree celsius.

If super typhoons such as Yolanda, Pablo and Sendong and devastating El Niño dry spells occurred in a .8 degree celsius change, picture out the calamities in a much warmer world.

For tourism green spaces provides aesthetic beauty and are regarded as destination for tourists. Magsaysay Park had their seaside view of the Davao Gulf while durian stalls in the edge of the park is a must-see tourism come-on. The over 1,000 species of plants in the People's Park makes the park a veritable botanical garden.

For historical purposes, the parks also shelters monuments and other historical markers. Osmeña Park was the site of the old Christian settlement founded in mid 19th century by Spanish conqueror Don Jose Oyanguren, Millenium Park contains a monument which signifies Indonesian-Philippine friendship.

Parks also are havens of arts and culture as it hosts various installation arts  such as statues, sculpture and other crafts. Magsaysay Park and Peoples Park contains these art works made by talented local artists.  While the Davao Baywalk Park built by motel mogul Teodorico Adarna (father of actress Ellen Adarna) contains the replicas of Michelangelo's Statue of David and the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.

Old Davao settlement monument in the middle of Osmeña Park with old Spanish

The Monument of Peace and Unity made by artist Kublai Millan is the centerpiece of the
 Centennial Park 
A controversial replica of Michelangelo's Statue of David at Davao Baywalk and Park
When it was built some City Councilors found the replica as lewd, it being located
adjacent to a well-known motel

There are some the parks in residential subdivisions among the large-size parks and playgrounds are those in Marfori, Lanzona and DBP Village. These green spaces are in various states of condition, some are well-maintained, while others are in the state of neglect.

Perhaps the CENRO with the homeowners association or the barangay can help in the upkeep of these community parks.

Davao City still has plenty of greenery; however these are found in private properties and it will be a matter of time when these lush greens will give way to urbanization and development.

Thus there is a need to preserve the remaining green spaces in a developing city and rather than reduce spaces allotted for greenery in housing developments, current provisions concerning green spaces must be protected from amendments.

A well-maintained park in a private subdivision