Friday, January 25, 2013

Food Review: Café Quezon

By A.S. Bonifacio

This has become an enduring haunt in Sikatuna Village, ever since it opened several years back and many other food joints in the area came and went. Maybe part of its success is its location.  It’s a bit far from the foodie spots gathered at certain parts along Maginhawa Street, which spans three barangays—UP Village, Teachers’ Village, and Sikatuna. The easy-to-find café doesn’t have to compete for attention unlike the busy portion near Magiting Street that leads toward UP campus. Instead, it bookends the other side of Maginhawa, lording it over at Sikatuna, a corner down from Bayantel, and a corner away from Camp Karingal. The location gives you an idea of the usual patrons that fills it especially at lunch, aside from the academic crowd, attracted not only by the free wi-fi (minimum order) but also by the wallet-friendly menu.

As indicated by its name, the café specializes in dishes and ingredients connected to the province of Quezon, and then some. There’s the urbanized version of Quezon’s popular street food, pansit habhab, on a plate and with a fork. The habhab I’ve had at Lucban, freshly-made miki with vegetables, was served on a banana leaf without any utensils, since the pansit is to be slurped straight unto one’s mouth.

You’ll also find Lucban longganisa served for breakfast, with egg and fried rice. It’s not sweet, but garlicky and full of flavor. My favorites are the crispy tapa, deep-fried beef jerky that one drenches with vinegar, as well as the spicy chicken, simply fried with something peppery added, no need to add catsup. Another secret to the cafe’s success is its sweet offerings, such as its unforgettable lemon-lime chiffon cake and its bestseller, peanut butter cheesecake. Some people drop by just to buy them by the slice or whole. Aside from brewed coffee, one can pair the cake slices with salabat, as well as flavored teas by the teapot. It also sells delicacies from Quezon such as puto seko, meringue, uraro biscuits, and even kiping, usually seen adorning Lucban homes during the Pahiyas fiesta.

What I like most about this spot is that it’s a decent, cosy, and affordable refuge, especially in the slow café hours (early afternoons and after-dinner hours, until ten p.m.). It’s an ideal go-to place for a relaxing time with friends, a surprise birthday treat, or a pick-me-up snack all alone.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

UPAA opens nominations for Distinguished Alumni Awards 2013

The University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) has announced the search for nominees for the UPAA Distinguished Alumni Awards 2013.

The awards are conferred on alumni who have demonstrated in their chosen field of endeavor, exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions that bring about substantial benefits to society and distinct honor to the University. Recognition is given to achievements and contributions that impact the community in which the alumni are or have been active, whether this is at the local, national or international level.

Nominations for the awards will be accepted from any U.P. alumnus or alumni chapter until January 31, 2013. The award ceremonies will be held during the U.P. General Alumni-Faculty Homecoming & Reunion on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at Luciano E. Salazar Hall, Ang Bahay ng Alumni, U.P. Diliman Campus, Quezon City.

Each year, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) gives recognition to alumni achievers, as follows: UPAA Most Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award, UPAA Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Awards, UPAA Distinguished Alumni Awards, UPAA Distinguished Service Awards and UPAA Multi-Generation U.P. Alumni Family Awards.

Award nominations will be considered in such thematic categories as public service and good governance, poverty alleviation and human development, peace and social cohesion, gender equality and women empowerment, community empowerment, environmental conservation and sustainable development, entrepreneurship and employment creation, institutional or corporate social responsibility, culture and the arts, science and technology, education and health, or as defined by the achievements of a deserving nominee.

For the past few years, UPAA makes special effort to identify for nomination, unsung alumni achievers -- those whose achievements in little-known corners of the country are exceptional but have remained unheralded and unrecognized.

For inquiries, please contact the UPAA Secretariat at 632-9206868, 632-9206871, 632-9206875 or email Visit the UPAA website for complete details.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rushing to Diliman in a taxi cab

Here is a youtube video which symbolizes the zeal and selflessness practiced by the writers of the Diliman Diary as they seek to provide timely content for its readers. In 2013, our motto is as always, Padayon! (Let's move forward).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vladimir Putin welcomes Depardieu

French actor Gerard Depardieu bid France adieu to avoid the tax rates imposed by Hollande. France’s loss is Russia’s gain this time as Vladimir Putin welcomes the film star Saturday night.

A representative of Mr. Putin said the French star flew to Moscow on a private visit and “being in the country, he was presented with a Russian passport.”

High taxes for the rich are sickening according to Depardieu who said that it’s France spitting on success. He reportedly got very annoyed by this development but he said in an interview that he will remain French by heart. (Photo via AP)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Run 2 Feed on February 17

The Ateneo Center for Educational Development is hosting a fun run on February 17th, 2013. The fun run dubbed as Run 2 Feed is ACED’s fundraiser and awareness campaign for feeding programs in public elementary schools in Quezon City and other areas of Luzon.

Feeding programs in the public school system were done decades ago but were stopped due to lack of funds.

Click here to register. 

Wanted: A New Co-Editor for the Diliman Diary

An announcement from your friendly Co-Editor of the Diliman Diary: Chanda R. Shahani.

Wanted: A replacement for my voluntary position as Co-Editor of the Diliman Diary ( and Diliman Diary on Facebook. The Diliman Diary has a solid following of readers inside and outside of the Diliman area, and has developed a good reputation for solid journalism. Interested parties will please email me at: Attention: CRS and indicate your qualifications, and your vision for helping the Diary progress further. Thank you everybody. =)

Monday, January 7, 2013

5 Most Inspiring Filipino Stories For 2012

No. 1 Jess Espanola: The Simpsons Assistant Director and Emmy Awardee

Photo by Matthew Imaging

The story of Jess Espanola is definitely something one can draw inspiration from. In his account written by Jeremy Rosenberg Jess Espanola: Hungry in the Philippines, He Drew for Food; Now He Has a Simpsons Emmy, Jess said he was born a poor boy. His mother, who was raped when she was working as a maid in one of Metropolitan Manila’s cities took odd jobs just to raise little Jesus -a name given to her by a friend of her mother's because the little boy was born on the 23rd of December.

Jess Espanola worked as a dishwasher when he was in high school to help make ends eet. Life was difficult for him and his mother but after graduating with a Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines, he finally got a job from an Australian animation studio based in Manila. The rest of course is history and Jess won an Emmy last year.

No. 2 Rania Reeda Bahjin: A Princess with a Cause

The doctor (right) with her mother.

Medical doctor Rania Reeda Bahjin has been serving as a medical officer in a remote district hospital in Sulu since her move back to Zamboanga --away from the bright lights of the capital where she lived for years.

To be able to get to the Pangutaran District Hospital, the Sulu princess endures an 8-hour boat ride going to Jolo and then another 5-hour boat ride going to Pangutaran, a 4th class municipality in Mindanao.

Patients in the remote hospital are usually already in line just to see the doctor. While there are many critical patients and no proper equipment, Bahjin makes do with what the hospital has. She said it gets worse when the power is out. 

Here is the doctor’s account of one of her travels to Pangutaran:

"Just the other night, a 6-year old came in with severe dehydration. I have already pushed 3L of fluid but still his BP won’t budge. When I asked for inotropes, they didn’t have any. Had I not kept my cool, I may have gone crazy. Just thinking about transporting him to a tertiary hospital on a boat for 3-5 hours in the middle of the night is enough to push me over the edge. Complicated of course by the fact that the mere transport could also kill him. Thankfully, with the grace of ALLAH, the child survived."

"Another patient came in with difficulty of breathing for 2 days and I was already contemplating of intubating him. When I asked if he smoked, he vehemently denied and said that he quit. When I asked when – “Dalawang araw na ako hindi naninigarilyo!” Alhamdulillah, frequent nebulization and steroids did the trick."

"It takes much dedication and genuine willingness to go there because aside from the tedious travel, the reputation of Sulu precedes the place. This is the reason why for many years, there was only one doctor in Pangutaran."

"Someone asked what possessed me to go to such a place. The dean of our college then offered “Nah. You’re just lost. I know.” Well, there may be some truth in that. But while searching, I’ll just “lose” myself in the service of my people and hope that I’ll never tire of it."

"I came back to Zamboanga just in time to celebrate my birthday and I thank the almighty ALLAH for giving me another year to accomplish this deed. ALLAHUAKBAR!"

No. 3 Rio De La Cruz, A Runaway Success

Photo via Runner’s World

The Bato, Camarines Sur native Rio De La Cruz was only 9 months old when his mother left him and his 14 siblings. Life in the countryside was difficult and at a young age, Rio learned to exchange menial work for nilagang saba or kamote among other things. Rio started early with his entrepreneurial skills but his business sense did not define his success. His potential as a runner was seen in Grade 5 when the family was already living in the capital.

No. 4 Angelo Valencia: Lawyer, Construction Worker

Angelo Valencia with one of the kids from Mt. Pulag.

Photos via Yahoo! News

When one thinks about Mt. Pulag, one would think of a nice place to go to for mountaineers but the highest peak of Luzon is not just a mountain to climb for lawyer Angelo Valencia, it’s a community that needs schools. The lawyer who refers to himself as a social climber said, “It was not an overnight thing, the plan to create a school.” Now there’s a primary school on Mt. Pulag and Valencia, after successfully building a school on the said mountain, said he has plans to build schools in other far-flung towns of the Philippines.

No. 5 Josepine Erece: Savior of Sultan Kudarat’s Prostitutes

Photo via Yahoo! News

For many young girls living in Sultan Kudarat, the conflict in the south is not only a part of life but has also caused many of them to lose their parents at a very young age –leaving these girls to fend for themselves just to survive. Josephine Erece is tired of this sorry situation so she took matters in her own hands –she took these young girls home. That wasn’t all though, even though Erece got harassed by the bar owners, she continued providing a home to the girls while she looked for jobs for those who could already work. Later on, Erece set up a mission home and linked the home to a charity organization in the United States.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

House-to-house shootout in Philippine town, 9 dead

Nine people were killed in a door-to-door shootout in a town 20 kilometers away from Manila. The gunman, Ronald Bae, reportedly injured several others during his rampage. Bae was later killed by Kawit police officers who tried their best to make Bae surrender.

Before the said attack, Filipinos in the capital were in a heated debate about a gun ban during the holidays due to the death of a7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy –in separate gunfire incidents. 

The Firearms and Explosives Office told the media that there are probably around 600, 000 unlicensed firearms in the country. 

Photo via

Death caused by celebratory gunfire sparks gun debate in Manila

Seven-year-old Stephanie Ella passed away Wednesday after suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Stephanie and her father were out in their Manila suburb yard to watch a fireworks display nearby when Stephanie was struck by a bullet.

It is not just the 7-year-old girl who died from celebratory gunfire though, sources say. A 4-year-old boy also died from a similar incident while a 16-year-old who suffered the same fate is now in a coma.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said in his statement, “This incident should not be allowed to become just another statistic” –referring to Ella's death.

Anti-crime crusader Dante Jimenez is now pushing for a total gun ban during the holidays. (Photo Paladin Planet)

The New Year: History, Hope, and New Beginnings

Our sentiments for the New Year have always been the same since mankind started celebrating it –people strive to stick to their New Year’s resolutions and then stop doing so by February or right after the spirit of the holidays dissipate.

 In 1729, Bach called for protection from plague through one of his compositions, he called for joy and good health too among other things but thousands of years before that, New Year’s Day was never celebrated at all not until the Mesopotamians in 2000 BC started celebrating it during the vernal equinox. This celebration was in mid-March and not January. Various ancient cultures also celebrated something similar to that of the March New Year of the Mesopotamians. The Egyptians and Persians for example, celebrated New Year during fall while their Greek counterparts had feasts during the winter solstice.

In the early Roman Calendar, March 1st is the New Year since it was the first month of the year. One has to note that in Latin, the word decem means ten, novem is nine, octo of course as one would surmise means eight while septem is seven. It was only in 153 BC when Romans started celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1st  with January and February added to the calendar hundreds of years before. It was only during Julius Caesar’s time that January 1st was officially installed as New Year’s Day though. 

It is interesting to note however that in the Middle Ages, this celebration was abolished because it is unchristian. Various times, various places, different celebrations -it all became confusing after that until of course the appearance of the Gregorian Calendar and January 1st was restored as New Year’s Day. Enough with the trivia.

So here we are, another new year, another new beginning. Why is the New Year so important? The New Year or New Year’s Day at the very least is the mark of new beginnings - the very reason why different cultures seem to practice listing New Year’s resolutions. This doesn’t mean though that one should forget years past as Auld Lang Syne brought to our attention or brings to our attention each time it is sang.

While some cultures celebrate the New Year without having to subject their ears to any type of hearing loss, in the Philippines, it seems to be a requirement along of course with bloodshed and a tinge of gore –in various Philippine hospitals at least.

While New Year’s Day is a mark of a new page, new chapter, new beginning whatever one would prefer to call it, it is impossible to welcome the New Year without a hint of doubt and fear. The awful truth is that we are afraid of change –at least according to a number of experts. 

Change however can be wonderful but still, all we can do is hope for the best while doing our best to make 2013 a better year for all of us.

Happy New Year from the Diliman Diary!