1. Throwback Thursday: “The Art of Appreciation” | Issue No. 99, July 2013 Issue


  2. Throwback Thursday “Elephants In The Room” | Issue No. 98, June 2013 Issue


  3. PHOTO : A view of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from Eakins Oval—the stairs might look familiar since a scene in the cult hit Rocky shows Sylvester Stallone jogging up its 72 steps.

    Philadelphia and its rivalries

    Where many of America’s firsts can be found. ‘The city that loves you back.’


    Much of Philadelphia’s identity is defined by what it has lost to New York City. The two megacities of the East Coast are too similar to avoid comparison. They are both highly urbanized, they both claim to have the best pretzels and hoagies, and they both share a disdain for New Jersey.

    Philadelphia prides itself as the birthplace of America—one of the capitals during the revolution, it was where the Founding Fathers convened, the Constitution drawn up, and independence declared two and a half centuries ago.

    Since then, however, New York City has grown in prominence. It became one of the first capitals of the new United States, while its ports invited trade and immigration, making it a hub of business and a melting pot of cultures. New York City boomed into the largest, if not the most important city in the country, easily overtaking Philadelphia.

    Philadelphia did not take kindly to being left behind, especially as it was suffering a decline of its own. Manufacturers packed up their operations and headed to other states, such as New York, closing businesses and leaving scores jobless. Poverty rose and so did crime.

    An 1852 editorial in The New York Times depicts the fractious relationship of the two cities, as the government then proposed to move the National Mint from Philadelphia, where it was founded, to New York, the new center of commerce. Philadelphia, naturally, opposed the loss of yet another institution to its rival.

    "That city," the editorial says snippily of Philadelphia, "has evinced a feeling bordering on positive malignity towards her sister of New York… Any New York scheme, anything that may tend to the benefit of New York, or to the general benefit of the country through New York, arouses the opposition of our Southern neighbor. She regards it as a question of self-preservation."

    The New York Times urged Philadelphia to focus on its strengths—”checks, stockings and vermifuge”—and, maybe, just maybe, it would be able to compete with the quality and price of goods produced in New York City. “True, she does not enjoy so favorable a position is not so central and commanding as New York,” the editorial continued, “[but] that is her misfortune, not our fault.”

    No matter what New York says, Philadelphia has not lost…


    When in Philly, venture east and explore the beginnings of America, painstakingly preserved and proudly on show in the Old City. A 22-hectare national park features Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed, as well as the cracked Liberty Bell, rung during that fateful day on July 4, 1776. The National Constitution Center is a tribute to the law of the land, with the facade of the building featuring the famous words: “We the people…” You don’t need to be an American to admire their fight for freedom and their deep sense of connection to their history.

    Further down is the Betsy Ross house, where the first American flag was sewn; Carpenters’ Hall, the home of the first banks in the US; and Christ Church, where the likes of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin heard mass. You can also walk through the narrow brick paths of Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest street in the country, and reimagine life in the 18th century.

    Meanwhile, in the New City, life revolves around City Hall, a gorgeous blue and white building, topped with a bronze statue of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. It is the world’s tallest masonry building, built solely in granite and brick forming walls 22-feet thick. An observation deck right under the William Penn statue offers expansive views of Philadelphia.

    All around City Hall are preserved buildings of old banks and brokerages harking back to Philadelphia’s heyday. They have since been converted to hotels, restaurants and boutique stores. The Ritz-Carlton, for example, occupies the former headquarters of Girard Bank, a low domed building built all the way back in 1908. Butcher and Singer, one of Philadelphia’s best steakhouses, is nestled in a building which used to be the headquarters of the National Bank in the 1930s. Diners are transported to a bygone era, with the restaurant’s high ceilings, leather booths lit by banker’s lamps, and the old marble clock mounted on the doorway.


    Across City Hall is the John F. Kennedy Park where Robert Indiana’s famous Love installation stands, paying homage to the City of Brotherly Love. The park is the beginning of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s tree-lined museum mile.

    Start off with the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, America’s first Catholic church, reminiscent of its counterparts in Europe with its imposing brownstone pillars and copper dome.

    Meanwhile, the Franklin Institute is a science museum in honor of the city’s favorite son Benjamin Franklin. (They name everything after him. Every hotel has a Benjamin Franklin function room.) Geared towards kids and families, it celebrates the scientist’s work with lightning and electricity, as well as popular exhibits on the human body—featuring a giant walk-in replica of a beating heart—sports science, airplanes and space exploration.

    The Barnes Foundation, one of the few modern buildings in the parkway, is a sight to behold. The galleries form clean lines, while the gardens and fountains wrap closely around the museum, creating an air of intimacy to the visit. The collection of Albert C. Barnes—a chemist who amassed a fortune from developing, interestingly enough, an anti-gonorrhea drug—features post-Impressionist and modern art from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pierre-August Renoir and Maurice Prendergast.

    Also worth a visit along the way are the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Rodin Museum, which displays Auguste Rodin’s sculptures like The Thinker and The Gates of Hell along a courtyard, much like the original museum in Paris.

    At the end of the boulevard, atop a hill, is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This last stop is almost always the most popular one simply because of the “Rocky steps,” where Rocky Balboa, a boxer portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in the cult hit Rocky, finished his run down Benjamin Franklin Parkway by jogging up the 72 steps of the museum. The day we visited the museum, we saw tourists, joggers, pets and an entire wedding entourage doing the Rocky run, complete with an iPhone playing the background music. Street vendors wait at the bottom of the steps with overpriced bottles of water.


    Still, many will ask why they should visit Philadelphia when New York City is only a highway and a dozen outlet stores away. The Big Apple has all of these sights and more.

    There is no competition when it comes to scale or grandeur, but being smaller and lesser works to Philadelphia’s advantage. Philadelphia is a big city without the trappings of one. Journalist Mary Theresa Schmich once said: “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.” Philadelphia has a soft underbelly. It is a megacity and a tourist destination but, ultimately, it is a place you would be happy to live in earning it the nickname “the city that loves you back.”

    Drivers follow stoplights and don’t honk at you for attempting to use the pedestrian crossing. People will not go up in arms if you stop on the sidewalk to take pictures or look at a map. The locals say hello and ask about your day, and you can ask for directions with ease. I took the wrong bus and found myself in the other end of the city in the middle of the night and the driver, who was already off-duty, brought me all the way back to my stop.

    The buzz of the central business district tapers off the more you go west, and the city gives way to the sprawling grounds of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Further down are student apartments, fraternity houses, neighborhood pubs and suburbs with small eateries, groceries and pop-up shops.

    Philadelphia feels like a city of your own. New York City, in contrast, saw a record 54 million tourists last year. It makes you wonder how much of the city is for you or for its transients. The Forever 21 in Times Square that stays open until 2 a.m., the naked cowboys playing guitar, the roaming mascots of Big Bird and Batman ready to pose for a photo for a dollar—though cute and novel, make you feel like you’re roaming an amusement park instead of a city.

    New York City may be the city of lights, the city of dreams. It has taller buildings and grander shows, but Philadelphia is a city you can call home.


  4. "Every memory is a reconstruction of the mind, so what may seem to us as our first book may actually be the one that first made an impact."

    Throwback Thursday: “Calls and Texts” | Issue No. 74, May 2011 Issue

    This bibliophile talks about the beauty—and future—of the written word.


    At the tailend of Dia Del Libro at Instituto Cervantes Manila, its director Jose R. Rodriguez grinned from ear to ear as a hundred applicants lined up for classes in Spanish at the institute that day. So numerous were the applicants that they spilled onto TM Kalaw Street. So far, it had been the highest number of applicants who enrolled in just one day.

    While an older generation may not have appreciated the compulsory 12 college units in Spanish, the younger generation is now seeing the advantage one could have in learning this language, especially in advancing one’s career.

    Born in 1950 in San Xoán de Río (Ourense, Spain), Rodriguez is married to Filipina portrait artist Lourdes Coching, by whom he has two children.

    A writer and journalist, Rodriguez studied agricultural technical engineering at the University of Madrid and has an MA and a PhD in Business Administration from the Newport University in the US.

    He spent time in the Sahara as part of his military service in the early 1970s, and became a correspondent for major Spanish dailies. He joined the Spanish News Agency (Agencia EFE), where he went on to become regional bureau chief for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    Among the anecdotes Rodriguez likes to share is how he was, back in the early ’90s, one of the owners of the first mobile phones in the Philippines—a gadget that proved invaluable when the 1990 Luzon earthquake became one of the biggest stories of the decade.

    In this interview with BusinessWorld High Life, Rodriguez reflects on the two things that have figured prominently in his life: books and technology.

    HL : What was the first book you ever read?

    JR : Every memory is a reconstruction of the mind, so what may seem to us as our first book may actually be the one that first made an impact. I will not try to be original; my first books are the same ones that many generations have read before and after me: the brothers Grimm, the novels of Jules Verne, the adventures of Emilio Salgar… It is possible that my first knowledge of the Philippines was precisely through some of the works of this Italian writer in his series with the theme: “The flower of the pearls.”

    HL : What is your favorite book?

    JR : I hope that my favorite book is one that I still haven’t read. One’s whole literary life is a journey. We have travelled through and gone past many ports and yet we keep them in our memory with fondness. On occasion we wish to visit them again, but this return, this second reading, is never the same as the first. The question should be rephrased or we will be talking about an endless response.

    HL : Have you read the original versions of Noli Me Tangere or El Filibusterismo?

    JR : Having had the opportunity of reading these works in their original language, which is also mine, there would no sense in my turning to the translations. In fact, I own one of the first editions of these novels published in the Philippines in the late 19th century.

    Without any doubt, these works are the best expression of literature in Spanish in the Philippines. Perhaps the drawback is that it is a literary style that has excessively veered from the preference of the contemporary reader.

    HL : What or where is your favorite library?

    JR : I wouldn’t want to commit the sin of pride, but my favorite library is found in the institution that I head: the Miguel Hernández Library of the Instituto Cervantes in Manila. In it you can find more than 25,000 works of Spanish and Hispanic American literature and culture: novels, theater, poetry, films, music… Without forgetting the Filipiniana section which focuses on the mark of Spain in this country.

    HL : I understand you were one of the first users of mobile phones in the Philippines. Could you tell us about what it was like back then?

    JR : I remember clearly my first experience with cellphones in this country. It was with an OKI of 20 years ago. The image of the second part of the movie Wall Street—when the main character leaves prison and recovers his gigantic cellphone which was the latest model when he was taken to prison—reflects more than anything how things change.

    HL : How do you think gadgets like phones and e-books will change the way people live?

    JR : There are two interconnected matters: on one part is technology. I think that the tendency is toward the integration of different slides in one single machine: diary, telephone, computer, scanner, etc. On the other hand, this abundance in technology that so facilitates our lives can end up making us digital slaves. You only have to take into account the serious problem we encounter in any organization when our computers simply stop functioning due to a brownout. The greater presence of technology brings us, without doubt, a greater dependence.

    HL : What do you think of e-books?

    JR : An electronic book is no more than a new medium for reading. It is more convenient than a tablet of clay, than sheepskin, but perhaps no better than paper. All these systems have demonstrated their longevity, something that is not guaranteed with an electronic book. Paper, aside from being handy and portable, doesn’t require electricity and can convert into an authentic work of art in itself or, in contrast, not be excessively expensive.

    Even with all these benefits, I am partial to the electronic book. Its principal benefit, in my opinion, is the saving of space. A Spanish saying states that knowledge does not occupy space. The one who invented it probably did not have a library… The possibility of storing thousands of books in electronic format is something unbeatable. For travels, it has no rival.

    HL : Do you think that avid readers of the printed word will embrace e-books?

    JR : My experience shows that only those who haven’t tried an eBook continue saying that nothing can replace paper. Evidently, the two systems will coexist because both are necessary, each in its own sphere. The eBooks have arrived and are here to stay and the avid readers of the written word will be its first advocates.


  5. PHOTO: Mr. Floirendo talks about cars and his need for speed.

    "Racing Red"

    Adrenaline rush.


    For Vincent Floirendo, the car race was a dream that lasted exactly 33 mins and 42.479 seconds. Not bad for a first-timer—the first Filipino, in fact—competing in the Ferrari Challenger Trofeo Pirelli Series, a seven-leg event that opened in Sepang, Malaysia this February. In his maiden Ferrari outing, Mr. Floirendo finished 15th out of 19 drivers in his class and 22nd overall.

    Aside from being the youngest scion of the Davao-based family that owns one of largest banana plantations in the country, Mr. Floirendo is a racing enthusiast and two-time “Driver of the Year” winner (he bagged the title in the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Yokohama Philippine GT Championship).

    "Racing is my passion," he said during a press conference held before his Sepang race. "I am certainly happy and excited about this but I also feel pressure. Our team will target the best time, and I’ll do the best I can do to be able to give a good fight."

    The 46-year-old businessman drove his own Ferrari 458 Challenge Evoluzione, which was sent straight from the Italian factory to Malaysia. Painted rosso corsa (“racing red”), the car is a modified version of the street-legal 458: Its aerodynamic kit includes a new rear wing, splitter, and floor. These upgrades, according to Ferrari, improve the car’s lap times and long-distance efficiency.

    Designed for motor sports, the EVO is sharper and more focused than any Ferrari on the road. Mr. Floirendo’s car will next see action in Australia, China, South Korea, Japan, Abu Dhabi, and one final location that will be announced later this year.

    In this interview with High Life, Mr. Floirendo talks about cars and his need for speed.

    HL : Where did your love for racing come from?

    VF : When I was a kid, I already liked cars. My brothers liked cars. I got into racing cars and it started all the way from there. First, I went to racing school—one session in Skip Barber in New York. It was just a three-day course, then after that I got into car racing.

    HL : By now, I suppose you already have a big car collection?

    VF : [Laughs] Well, I consider myself an enthusiast.

    HL : What are your thoughts about the motor sports scene in the country?

    VF : It’s not as big as it is abroad. The crowd, the people are not as much. It lacks coverage. I think it’s going to be more exciting abroad.

    HL : How do you prepare for a race?

    VF : Physically, I control my diet. A little cardio for stamina. Racing is tiring. Super! It’s tiring to take the turns, control the car, focus. I also asked advice from a few friends, like Jojo Silverio, who used to race abroad. Before the race, I take my time alone. Relax.

    HL : Any pre-race rituals?

    VF : I smoke a cigarette right before I get inside the car.

    HL : Preferred brand?

    VF : Marlboro Reds—sponsor of Ferrari.

    HL : What features do you look for in a race car?

    VF : The automobile handling, power, aerodynamics. I guess it’s also a factor that it looks sleek.

    HL : What’s the best thing about racing?

    VF : The adrenaline rush before the race and while you’re racing behind the wheel, side-by-side with other cars. After the race, you’re fulfilled. 


  6. Reso and the Church of the Gesu at the Ateneo.

    Throwback Thursday: “Spiritual Architect” | Issue No. 51, June 2009

    Every architect dreams of building a church.


    After 20 years of designing high-rise condominiums, architect Jose Pedro Recio has found a new calling. Turning his gaze from vertical-level buildings that soar heavenward, he now focuses on designing horizontal-level structures for schools and other institutions. He even founded a new firm called Rchitects, Inc. to specialize in designing end-user buildings and to encourage Filipino architecture to meet global standards.

    Recio shares that he experienced an epiphany of sorts after designing the Church of the Gesu, the university church of the Ateneo de Manila. It was, for him, a personal and career milestone. He says, “I was commissioned to do a church in my alma mater. What more could I have asked for?”

    From the outside, the Church of the Gesu walls slope upward, resembling hands clasped in prayer. The triangular motif also symbolizes the blessed trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Inside the church walls, the expansive interiors make churchgoers feel that they can pray in silence and worship in solitude despite the presence of other people.

    Standing outside the Church of the Gesu, Recio finds himself at peace. He admits that he is not a religious man, but designing his first church has ignited within him a passion for designing houses of God. “I think every architect in his heart would like to do one church sometime in his life,” he says.

    HL : Which of the buildings you’ve designed is your favorite?

    JPR : It would have to be the [Church of the] Gesu. I’ve done many buildings in my career, in the 20 years that span the firm Recio-Casas. I’ve done a lot of high-rise buildings. And I have to say that these high-rise buildings were what put us on the map in terms of what we’re known as architects. But to me personally what has given me the most fulfilment is this project. And that’s why I say this. I’d like to do more churches, more projects of this nature.

    HL : Where did the inspiration for the design of this church come from?

    JPR : The inspiration for the design came from the statue [of the Sacred Heart]. If you remember the configuration of the statue, it has Jesus Christ standing with His arms outstretched. If you connect the two hands and the head, it forms a triangle: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the triangle is pretty much the driving force behind the shape of the church. There was one other thing the building committee asked for. We’d like a building that’s going to be iconic. We want a church that alumni will remember, especially alumni who live abroad and will come back and visit the grounds again, and this is where they will have their picture taken as a remembrance of Ateneo.

    HL : Do you consider the Church of the Gesu your work of art?

    JPR : Yes, a resounding yes. When we were designing it, we had three or four different schemes. We had scale models for all of those. It was the first project we had that was done by a community. Meaning the Jesuits had something to say about it, the faculty, the alumni, the student council. Out of the three, this was really the winning scheme. They felt it really embodied everything they wanted in a church. They wanted something iconic for the campus.

    HL : Other than the Church of the Gesu, what’s your favorite church in terms of design?

    JPR : There was one church that actually influenced me in a way. That was the St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. It’s a huge church. You could put 10 of this [Church of the Gesu] inside. It had a simple front but, when you go in, it had a sense of awe. It’s just so huge and yet you could feel that sense of solitude. That was one of the trademarks we wanted to capture in designing the Church of the Gesu. When you look at St. Mary’s from the outside, it looks so simple and huge but you can go inside, sit and feel one with the Lord. You can really pray and meditate. A really nice church.

    HL : Can architecture change the way a person lives?

    JPR : Take condos, for example. If you’re used to living at home with parents, you take things for granted. There is a maid to take care of this and that. If you move into a condo, there is nobody there to take care of this for you. You get to respect your surroundings because you learn that this is your own space. You don’t take it for granted. All of these buildings we [architects] do, all of it will have an impact on people socially, how they behave.

    HL : In this era of shrinking spaces, has space become a luxury?

    JPR : Developers have gotten wise in making space more affordable. They’ve made a smaller space seem luxurious. You got a plasma screen TV, a stereo system. When you come in, it has all the trappings of luxury. The challenge to architects more and more is how to make a 30-meter space look like it’s 50 meters. How do we deal with it? Smoke and mirrors. A lot of that are interior issues. We have interior designers we get to work with that are really great in creating spaces that aren’t there. Mirrors mostly.

    HL : How much space does a person need in his dwelling?

    JPR : What a person needs is actually very small. When I lived in Hong Kong, I lived in a 40- or 50-square-meter space with a bedroom and kitchen. My sister-in-law would visit and tease me by saying that the bathroom in the airport was much bigger than my bedroom and bathroom combined. When you talk about how much space you want, that’s when spaces get bigger. So in terms of what you really need, it can be a very compact space, easy to live in, and comfortable enough. But when you talk about what you want for a living space, limitless yan. The sky’s the limit.


  7. Award-winning chef Emmanuel Stroobant led the whisky-pairing dinners of Glenfiddich across Southeast Asia as Glenfiddich celebrates its 125th anniversary.

    The anatomy of a whisky pairing

    A perfect match.”Brotherhood and conviviality.”


    A sip of whisky is a nuanced journey that can take a drinker as figuratively far as the purple hills of Scotland. Sensuous flavors—fruit cake, sherbet, coffee—flourish on the tongue, while oak tannins introduce the bite of the alcohol. After the whisky flows elegantly down the throat, a coat of oiliness lingers in the mouth, seducing the drinker to take another shot. During the Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary dinner, two quarter-shot servings of the tipple gave guests a satiated flush, and every course that the whisky complemented nourished the elation.

    Glenfiddich hails from an independent family-owned distillery owned by William Grant & Sons, Ltd., in Dufftown, Scotland. The alcoholic beverage is Scotland’s national drink, which the locals enjoy because of the heat it provides in bitingly cold weather. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, scotch spread around the world since the time of voyager Christopher Columbus, reaching the shores of Japan and Latin America. While it is well-loved around the world, a special relationship remains between Scotsmen and scotch.

    Glenfiddich regional brand ambassador Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, who hosted the dinner in a traditional Scottish kilt as a tribute to the brand’s roots, described whisky pairing as a novelty. But whisky pairing, said Asian Food Channel chef Emmanuel Stroobant after dinner, doesn’t stray too far from wine pairing. The award-winning Belgian chef, who helms the five-star fine dining restaurant Saint Pierre in Singapore, explains how he built recipes out of whisky.


    The whisky: Glenfiddich Special Reserve 12 Year Old

    Tasting notes: The nose of the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old has a delicately balanced fragrance, with distinctively fresh and fruity notes and a hint of pear. Its taste is characteristically sweet with fruity flavors, which then develops into elements of butterscotch, cream, malt and subtle oak flavor. The finish is long, smooth and mellow.

    The food: Scotch quail egg, oak smoked salmon mousse, Glenfiddich infused poached pear, homemade tartare dressing, wild herbs, popped malt.

    The 12 Year Old had flavors of oak and cream, inspiring the smoked salmon mousse. Bits of popped malt matched the malt flavor of the whisky while the creaminess of the salmon mousse amplified the lush texture of the 12 Year Old. Little cubes of pear added crispiness and complemented hints of pear in the whisky. With the mousse already melting, the Scotch egg, placed in the mousse, added an extra crunch.

    Within the Glenfiddich range, the 12 Year Old is the most basic. The first pairing was indeed a teaser for what was yet to come.


    The whisky: Glenfiddich Solera Reserve 15 Year Old

    Tasting notes: The nose of Glenfiddich 15 Year Old is intriguingly complex with sweet heather honey and vanilla fudge combined with rich dark fruits. Its taste is silky smooth, revealing layers of sherry oak, marzipan, cinnamon and ginger—reminiscent of Christmas cake. Full bodied and bursting with flavor, the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old has a satisfyingly rich and lingeringly sweet finish.

    The food: Spice-crusted lobster tail, Glenfiddich flamed lobster bisque, honey caramelized almonds, vanilla, butter emulsion

    Lobster is abundant in Scotland, hence the lobster bisque flamed in the same whisky that went in the glass. When the drink can be found in the food, “it’s always a perfect match,” the chef said, adding that it was the same logic that went into French coq au vin or chicken braised with wine, paired with pinot noir. “That was an easy one.”

    The soup was simple, a contrast to the complex whisky. The lobster provided a subtle kick, inviting guests to enjoy more whisky and indulge in its flavors.

    Main Course

    The whisky: Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve 18 Year Old

    Tasting notes: The nose of Glenfiddich 18 Year Old is remarkably rich, with ripe orchard fruit, spiced apple and a robust oakiness. Its taste richly delivers luxurious dried fruit, candy peel and dates overlaid with elegant oak notes. With a warming finish, the Glenfiddich 18 Year Old is a rewarding and distinguished whisky to enjoy.

    The food: 48-hour braised black angus Aberdeen beef short rib, hay-crusted beetroot puree, date, apple, cinnamon, smoked potato bouchon, Glenfiddich gel, beef jus

    Angus beef was a no-brainer as the meat is from a breed of cattle originating from the Scottish county of Aberdeen. The beef is of superior quality and exported to different regions of Europe. Braising the beef for two days is a throwback to traditional cooking methods—an exercise in patience that pales in comparison to the number of years a whisky must remain in its cask before making it to a dinner table.

    To match the sweet fruity flavors of the 18 Year Old, the beef was laid down on a bed of beet jelly infused with Glenfiddich. Dates, apples and cinnamon enhanced the fruity taste, while the potato bouchon maintained the balance. There was no mistaking the beef for a dessert despite the amount of fruit: it was a steak through and through.


    The whisky: Glenfiddich Gran Reserva 21 Year Old

    Tasting notes: The nose of Glenfiddich 21 Year Old is intense and sweet, with floral hints of banana, figs and rich toffee. Its taste is initially soft, then brisk and vibrant, peppery, with a touch of smoke, vanilla, ginger, lime, spices and new leather. Glenfiddich 21 Year Old has a very long, warming and spicy finish.

    The food: Glenfiddich cream cranachan, honey, lime-ginger custard, raspberry, toasted oatmeal, toffee dust

    The meal comes full circle with an amusingly sour dessert, as befits a dinner centered on an acidic alcoholic beverage. The lime-ginger custard and raspberry embraced the nature of whisky instead of fighting it.


    The whisky: Glenfiddich Anniversary Vintage 25 Year Old

    Tasting notes: The notes of the Anniversary Vintage is a rich fruit cake, toasted almonds, cinnamon and a zesty citrus note enveloped in vanilla sweetness, with hints of licorice, leather and ground coffee. On the tongue it takes on a beautiful velvety texture. The taste is rich and spicy with a sweet, sherbety flavor, the depth of oak tannin creating a balance of sweet and dry with a luxurious mouth-coating oiliness.

    To present the anniversary vintage, the chef thought it best to leave it alone. Despite its strength, the 25 Year Old was sweet, like coffee, spicy, warm and comforting. Indeed, it needed no accompaniments, save for cigars, which the guests clamored for. “I want to open the window and smoke a cigar!” yelled one. Everyone else happily seconded.

    Aside from the alcohol content, what makes whisky pairing a brand new experience compared to the more common wine tasting?

    "Brotherhood and conviviality," Mr. Stroobant answered. Before he could explain, as if on cue, a guest, overcome by the spirit, barged into the kitchen to beg the internationally acclaimed chef for leftover beef. "Chef! Are there any crumbs of the 48 year old… No, 48-hour steak? We’re peasants," he pointed to his newfound friends who were joyfully finishing off a bottle. "If there are… IF. THERE. ARE. We are ready," the gentleman emphasized before returning to his table. "Please," he pleaded, "send the peasants some steak!"


  8. PHOTO : Atty. Fortun and his Canon 7D at the San Sebastian Church.

    Throwback Thursday: “Canon Lawyer” | Issue No. 76, July 2011 Issue

    A high-profile attorney trades his briefcase for some lenses.


    It was a balmy Saturday afternoon when a crowd gathered at San Sebastian Church for a Bahamas-based couple’s wedding. As the ceremonies went on, a man who appeared to be the main photographer walked into the parking lot to shoot the church façade. He stared at the edifice with such gusto—as if he already had a clearly defined visual approach composed in his head—before aiming one of the enormous cameras he lugged around. He went back into the building with a satisfied look in his eyes. Earlier in the day, he was busy shooting peacock feathers and studded shoes at a Manila Hotel suite to document the wedding preparations, but just like a true professional with nerves of steel, he showed no signs of slowing down even though he has been literally doing it for hours.

    Known in photography circles as “RF”, Atty. Raymond Fortun, the cutthroat lawyer who rose to prominence as part of former President Joseph Estrada’s legal defense team, can speak volumes when asked about photography. He talks about his passion and technique for wedding photography in this issue of BusinessWorld High Life.

    HL : What made you decide to dabble in photography?

    RF : To be involved in photography was farthest from my mind. I was contented in having a point-and-shoot camera because of its convenience. However, when my kids started growing up, I realized the need to document their growth with good images. I attended a wedding where the couple showed their growing-up pics, and I asked myself, “What if my daughter will have her debut, or my sons get married? Wouldn’t it be cool to have really nice photos in their slideshow?” So I got myself the cheapest SLR camera in September 2007 (a Nikon D40). One of my buddies then invited me to join a lighting workshop conducted by Ross Capili. During the workshop, Ross told me that I had an “eye” for beauty, and that I should develop it. From then on, I decided that if I were to upgrade my camera equipment, I might as well earn so I can recover the investment. Hence, my venturing into wedding photography as a “hobby.” My primary profession is still providing legal services. Photography is, and will remain, a mere expression of my zest for life and love.

    HL : Why did you choose wedding photography as your niche?

    RF : Because wedding photography is the toughest field of photography. I’m a person who loves challenges. As a lawyer, I enjoy handling the toughest cases. The same holds true in my chosen field of photography. Wedding photography involves all aspects of photography: landscape, portraiture, street, events and macro. One has to have the best cameras and lenses to perfectly capture split-second timeless moments in the darkest of shooting environments (hotel rooms, churches and reception venues). It involves long hours—at least 11 hours from the wedding preparations up to the end of the reception. It naturally follows that one must be physically fit to carry at least two heavy cameras and lenses, aside from additional lenses in pouches strapped to one’s belt. One must have good personal skills to goad the couple, their relatives and guests to produce happy images. Weddings appeal to my desire to produce works of art—timeless moments of couples in love.

    HL : What camera system do you use?

    RF : I use Canon cameras and lenses. This was more of an accident, but a fortunate one at that. My first SLR camera was the Nikon D40, then I upgraded to the D40x, the D80, then the D300. When I wanted to purchase a good telezoom (70-200mm 2.8 VR) in preparation for my family’s trip to Zoobic Safari, I was disappointed that my supplier in Hidalgo (Quiapo) did not have that lens. I happened to see that they had a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS, and decided to get that, matched it with a Canon 40D. I was extremely satisfied with the output of the Canon camera. When my family and I went to Boracay in April 2008, I switched to Canon and sold all my Nikon gear.

    HL : Do you have any favorite cameras or lenses? Do you have a certain gear or accessory that you value the most?

    RF : The Canon 7D is ideal for weddings. It is capable of taking eight shots per second, and can switch to movie mode with a flick of the right thumb. The best lens for weddings is the Canon 24-70 2.8. It is uber-sharp and produces great colors. All the gear that I take along to my shoots are vital for me. I take along two units of Canon 7D, a Canon 1000D converted to a special enhanced infrared camera, another Canon 1000D converted as a pre-nup infrared camera, and a Canon 600D that is dedicated for capturing video clips. My lenses, in order of range: Canon 10-22 ultrawide angle lens; Tokina 10-17 fisheye; Canon 24-70; Canon 50 1.4; Canon 100 macro lens; and Canon 70-200.

    HL : Do you follow any unusual rituals or activities within your usual workflow?

    RF : I usually get my creative juices flowing when I shoot the wedding rings. I just don’t like capturing boring details—I need to be creative with it. When I come up with a good ring shot, I start enjoying the shoot, and everything flows from there.

    HL : What are your thoughts about photography businesses sprouting up everywhere?

    RF : There may be a need to soon regulate the photography industry. The price of SLR cameras have gone down considerably, and even those who have not taken up courses in photography go around and offer their services to unsuspecting clients. Wedding photography is the toughest field of photography, and demands the best lenses and equipment in order to provide the best service to clients. An entry-level camera and a kit lens (the one that comes with the box) just will not do. I have had the experience of helping out couples who have been the victim of abuse from photographers. I do think that the general public should have a speedy and cheap mechanism for dealing with issues involving the work of photographers.

    HL : What are the drawbacks of being a high-profile lawyer when it comes to your photography?

    RF : I wouldn’t really consider it a drawback, but I do recognize that expectations of my work are high because of who I am. I love the challenge, and I aim to please.


  9. The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 saw an onslaught of wearable technology, a phenomenon still in its infancy, and critics were quick to load their rifles and fire away.

    #TheFutureIsNow #IntelligentEverything


    Thanks to fashion, people don’t have to speak to communicate character. Christian Louboutin saw heels as a sign of feminine power—”The higher, the better”—while Coco Chanel said that the dress made the woman: “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Miuccia Prada summed it up in four words: “Fashion is instant language.”

    In the case of wearable technology, the fashion-conscious seem to agree that the only thing it screams is: “Hello, I am a card-carrying member of Silicon Valley.” A modern version of the bullied high school geek. This, to the Louboutin/Chanel/Prada-wearing elite, easily translates to one thing: social suicide.

    The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 saw an onslaught of wearable technology, a phenomenon still in its infancy, and critics were quick to load their rifles and fire away. Many complained about wearable tech not being wearable. Did engineers not realize that Robocop-like glasses were not okay?


    Fashionistas do, however, recognize the potential of wearable tech. During the 2012 New York Fashion Week, Diane von Furstenberg put her models, her entourage, and herself, in Google Glasses. The collaboration captured the frenzy of Fashion Week from a new perspective. DVF’s fashion friends reportedly tried the glasses on, after. In a statement released then, DVF said, “Beauty, style and comfort are as important to Glass as the latest technology. We are delighted to bring Glass to the runway together with DVF.”

    Fast forward to two fashion weeks and tens of thousands of Glass-free ramp models later, FitBit, Inc. announced that Tory Burch would be joining their camp. In a statement released during the CES 2014, FitBit, the company behind the connected health-and-fitness rubber wrist bands, declared “a relationship with Tory Burch to develop a collection of stylish accessory wristbands and necklaces for FitBit Flex.” The Tory Burch for FitBit accessories collection will include pendants, bracelets and wristbands designed to hold the FitBit Flex tracker, transforming the activity tracker into a “super-chic accessory” for work or weekend, day or evening. The collection arrives in spring.

    Until then, consumers are left to connect the dots that remain from CES 2014, and the number of dots to connect is large. Aside from eyewear and fitness bands, there are also enough items in the wardrobe of the future—tech wigs, bras, and dresses—to cover a person from head to toe.

    #smartwig #new #fun

    For the top of head, Sony Corp., the people behind the iconic Walkman which started the portable music revolution, has come up with the “SmartWig.”

    Its official description says “wearable computing device, comprising a wig that is adapted to cover at least a part of the head of a user, at least one sensor for providing input data, a processing unit that is coupled to at least one sensor for processing said input data, and a communication interface that is coupled to the processing unit for communicating with a second computing device. At least one sensor, the processing unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig and at least partly covered by the wig in order to be visually hidden during use.”

    Essentially, they are hairpieces made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or any kind of synthetic hair. The wigs are also intelligent, which means they can help navigate roads, detect human information such as temperature or sweat, and present a PowerPoint slideshow. In a phone interview by Bloomberg, a Sony spokeswoman described the wig as “new and fun.”

    #smartbra #foodmood #fitspiration

    From the crowning glory to inner wear, Microsoft researchers focus on the bra. The prototype of the Microsoft smart bra senses heart and skin activity that indicate mood levels, but its primary aim is to find out if wearable tech can help stress-related over-eating.

    In their paper “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating,” the researchers explain that the design motivation for the bra sensing system was driven by a form factor that would be comfortable for long durations and close to the heart. Considering the variety of cup sizes, the researchers decided against embedded sensor bras and aimed instead for conducive pads that could be inserted and removed. Based on their research, positive results for emotion detection arose from the wearable system. A smart phone app connected to the brassiere alerted the wearer when “emotional eating” was likely to occur.

    #dress #sweater #eyecatching

    A little less private than the bra is a mood sweater whose collar lights up according to the wearer’s mood. The GER: Galvanic Extimacy Responder promotes what the makers call “extimacy” or externalized intimacy. The sensors are located on the hands and read excitement levels, “like a classic lie detector test,” that are translated into a palette of colors. The mood it expresses are tranquil (turquoise), calm (blue), ruffled or aroused (purple), nervous or in love (red) and nirvana (white).

    The style of the sweater, whose lighting system is located around the larynx, aims to replace speaking, as the wearer’s “truths” are instantly expressed with color.

    On the topic of visual interfaces, people can be so conscious about their appearance, but this dress feasts on attention. Fashion designer Ying Gao designs gaze-activated dresses: dresses that writhe and light up when someone stares at them. It uses an eye-tracking system so that dresses move when someone is staring.

    According to Ying Gao, the project was inspired by the essay entitled “Esthétique de la disparition” (The aesthetic of disappearance), by French cultural theorist Paul Virilio (1979): “Absence lasts but a few seconds, its beginning and end are sudden. However closed to outside impressions, the senses are awake. The return is as immediate as the departure, the suspended word or movement is picked up where it was left off as conscious time automatically reconstructs itself, thus becoming continuous and free of any apparent interruption.”

    #gpsshoes #wanderlust #direction

    The feet have not escaped the wearable computing phenomenon either. Inspired by Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Dominic Wilcox’s “No place like home GPS shoes” are outfitted with global positioning microchips. Clicking the heels can literally light the way toward the wearer’s chosen destination.

    The destination is uploaded through a USB port. The LED lights on the toe of the left shoe point to the desired direction while the tip of the right shoe provides a reading. On the topic of home, another type of GPS in-built tracking shoes has gone on sale in the UK. This type of shoe is specific to Alzheimer’s sufferers, who often wander off when they get disoriented. The tracking device sends a signal to the satellite and is relayed to a relative’s smart phone or computer.

    #accessories #makeup #everythingelse

    Neither does wearable tech end with clothes, shoes, wigs. Accessories include more bangles, including the Embrace+ that shows smart phone notifications and a Rebecca Minkoff-Stellé Audio Couture limited edition audio clutch that is an edgy purse on the exterior and an audio speaker in the interior. Man’s best friend is also feted with a smart collar like the Voyce, a health and activity tracking collar designed to be worn by dogs. It measures both heart and respiratory rates, accompanied by a mobile app that tracks trends over time, allowing owners to keep an eye on vital signs and other health indicators. Cosmetics has also been tapped. Computer scientist Katia Vega has ventured into designing smart faux fingernails and lashes. Wearers can change the channel by blinking their eyes, or use their fingers to open doors.

    #beautytechnology #thefutureorthenow #fashionandsociety

    Ms. Vega believes that wearable tech is not the future of fashion, it is the now. “I think this revolution is already happening,” she wrote in an e-mail to High Life. “Wearable Computing had changed the way individuals interact with computers, intertwining natural capabilities of the human body with processing apparatus.” She thinks, however, that fashion must make peace with inventors. “Wearable computers give us the possibility to play with the body, know ourselves and expose and communicate our feelings,” she said. While the fashion and tech industries have yet to completely compromise, the revolution is here and it is a reflection of the changing face of our generation. Huge investments made by startups and big companies alike indicate that wearable tech is #thenextbigthing, never mind what fashion critics say.


  10. Asked what jewelry fit for a queen should look like, Sr. Carrera replied: “I think it is about good taste and not the number of stones. Good taste is to appeal with the least number of elements and materials.”

    "Good as Gold"

    Manuel Carrera’s Midas touch. Jewelry fit for a queen. Near-perfect verisimilitude.


    "When somebody wears a good piece of jewelry," said master goldsmith Manuel Carrera, founder of prestige Spanish jeweler Carrera y Carrera, "it is a proximal indication of a level of success he or her husband has achieved. It is a status symbol."

    Of all the miniature golden sculptures offered by Carrera y Carrera, the Castilian artist favors a hand-shaped pendant belonging to a limited collection inspired by the sensuality of the human body. Notoriously difficult to render, the hand is an appropriate symbol for Sr. Carrera’s success.

    At the age of 22, Carrera set up his own shop in Madrid and spent decades building his brand into an empire that now stretches over 40 countries. His hand-sculpted jewelry has graced the U.S. Presidential White House and the Kremlin Museum in Moscow. The likes of Queen Sofia of Spain have worn his pieces, which are known for their realism and exquisite attention to detail. He knows that the quest for near-perfect verisimilitude in any craft is challenging. Inspirations are obvious; people can compare your creations with the originals and pass judgment.

    Asked what jewelry fit for a queen should look like, Sr. Carrera replied: “I think it is about good taste and not the number of stones. Good taste is to appeal with the least number of elements and materials.”

    HL : Why do you love working with gold?

    MC: Gold is gold. If we go back several millennia, we will see that all cultures had a special fixation for gold. Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s also because it is very malleable. I think that it will remain for years to come. Gold will be gold.

    Why are you drawn to this particular hand-shaped pendant?

    All of the movements of the hand are reflected in it. The most challenging part of the human image is the hand.

    HL : How many works of art have put focus on the hand?

    MC : Not a lot, except maybe those religious paintings where they depicted Christ crucified and where the hand takes a very prominent role. Ask any artist and they struggle with the hand. I wanted to go where the difficulty, where the challenge was.

    HL : How do you come up with your designs?

    MC : Through thinking out-of-the-box and going out of the mediocrity that is around.

    HL : Is a piece of jewelry pure ornamentation, an investment, or a status symbol?

    MC : It is a status symbol. But if you really want to make a piece of jewelry into a piece of investment, it should be an heirloom that will be passed on to generations. Only then will I consider it an investment. It is not only a matter of being vintage, but being able to transfer a certain piece of history, and bits of emotion and achievement.

    That happens when the jewelry is handed down from one generation to the next. When someone gives a jewel—it could be an event, a baptism, a wedding, a birthday—it is always associated with something positive, like love. A significant moment is accompanied by a piece of jewelry and after many generations, it is still valuable. I can’t think of anything else that can go through five generations and still be valuable.

    HL : How has Spanish jewelry influenced the world?

    MC : Spain and France are two countries that have had a long range of royalty. That became a venue for jewelry to flourish. For Spain, we are fortunate because we are heirs to a lot of cultures. We are heirs to the Arabs and to the Jewish culture, which both contributed a lot to jewelry-making and silverwork.

    Those elements are still imprinted on the jewelry now. But to put it into perspective: as early as the 19th century, our family was already making jewelry. Since then, we have already made our own brand, our unique style and technique.

    HL : It’s a long tradition.

    MC : Yes. But among us all, I was the most crazy.

    HL : But it worked.

    MC : Sí.