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Friday, November 21, 2014

Filipino lawyer appointed to UN Human Rights Body

A Filipino human rights lawyer from the University of the Philippines has been appointed to the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

Human rights lawyer Atty. Ricardo Sunga III, a Law Reform Specialist for the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Rights (IHR), joins the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent assigned to study racial discrimination problems faced by people of African Descent living in countries outside of Africa and make recommendations on access to justice and elimination of racial profiling. The UN Human Rights Council body is tasked to gather relevant information from both government and non-government sources.
Atty. Sunga earned his degree from UP Law in 1994 and his Master of Law by Research degree from the University of South Wales on an Australian Leadership Award Scholarship in 2011.
He has been a long time volunteer for the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organization of human rights lawyers, and currently serves as its Board Member and Regional Coordinator for the National Capital Region.
Atty. Sunga’s work with the UP IHR addresses concerns on the protection and promotion of human rights of indigenous peoples, the peasantry, working class, and the urban poor.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pinoy chefs compete in World Pastry Cup in France

Pastry chefs from the Philippines have qualified for the first time in the 25-year history of the finals of the most prestigious global pastry competition, Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (World Pastry Cup) to be held in January 2015 in Lyon, France.

Presenting themselves as the Pastry Team PH, young pastry chefs Vicente Cahatol, Rizalino Ma┼łas Jr., and Bryan Dimayuga will face off with 21 other teams from around the globe in what is touted as the most challenging of all pastry contests.
The Filipino pastry team composed of an ice cream maker, a chocolate specialist, and a pastry chef, will work with sugar, ice and chocolate to complete creations in 6 hours. Another technical requirement has been added in next year’s finals as teams are required to sculpt a whole block of chocolate and include it in the chocolate creation. They will also be given 2 blocks of ice to sculpt and will need to work with drawn and blown sugar. The pastry chefs will compete in an 8,000 m² area with 11 contest kitchens in front of 2,500 spectators.
Pastry Team PH has been practicing in between their pastry chef jobs at the Makati Shangrila, spending their own money in preparation for this great honour to represent the Philippines. They are being mentored by the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines (PAP). The PAP is on a mission to gather as much support as they can muster to enable the 10-member Pastry Team PH to present their best in Lyon.
To qualify for the competition the 22 competing national teams needed to hurdle 50 national team selections and 4 continental team selections. Eighteen teams qualified through this process. The International Organising Committee then picked 4 national teams as wild card competitors which included the Philippines, Switzerland, Algeria and Guatemala.
The World Pastry Cup is held every two years and is recognized as the benchmark for the world’s pastry contests. Its international success is attributed to the highest quality work from competing chefs, the acclaimed international jury, the level of competition and the festive atmosphere.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Phl tourism to get big boost with Asean integration

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE – The Philippine tourism industry will get a further boost with the upcoming regional integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as it will trigger an influx of tourists from the region’s member-economies, tourism officials said.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) expects that ASEAN integration will hasten inter-regional travel and consequently open the doors for more tourists in the country by next year.
DOT Assistant Secretary for market development Benito Bengzon Jr. said the integration would be a boon for the country in terms of capturing visitors from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
“In our case, we will relax our restrictions to make it easier for people to move around in the Philippines,” Bengzon said at the sidelines of the three-day North Philippines Tourism and Travel Expo 2014 which opened late Friday at the events center of SM City Clark.
Bengzon, who was guest speaker during the NorthPhil Expo, said the Philippines as an archipelago is dependent on airplanes for the movement of tourists, unlike the other countries. “By this, it means what we are getting are legitimate tourists who travel by plane just to get to our place.”
He added that the country’s foreign visitor arrivals, which posted a 10 percent increase last year, is expected to grow further with ASEAN integration.
DOT Region 3 director Ronaldo Tiotuico, meanwhile, noted that free trade paves the way for the establishment of a single market and production base among the member-countries. This means that there will be a free flow of goods, including rice, services, investment, capital and skilled labor to these countries. The goal is to create a highly competitive single market that would boast of equitable economic development.
“In the same way, tourists can go from one place to another without restrictions,” he added. “So if you are a tour guide in the Philippines, you can also be a tour guide in other places.”
Tiotuico also said that with ASEAN integration, the 10 member-countries would have a standard tourism program for the region. This is particularly beneficial to Central Luzon which posted 2.7 million domestic and foreign tour arrivals in 2013, the bulk of whom came by way of Clark and Subic, all connected by arterial roads such as the North Luzon Expressway and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.
NorthPhil Expo is a project of the DOT offices in Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region, and event-managed by the Philippine Exhibits and Themeparks Corp.
Now on its ninth year, NorthPhil Expo is marked by exhibits showcasing various travel destinations, products and services, provincial pavilions, corporate booths with affordable tour packages and traders’ booths offering souvenirs, arts and crafts and delicacies.
The event also provides common ground for domestic and international tourism stakeholders to explore markets and promote their destinations, products and services.
“Trade visitors and industry buyers have been joining this event regularly, which been working effectively in tourism business networking and trade development,” Bengzon said.
He also stressed that tourism and community development go hand-in-hand in helping build a better quality of life for the people.
He noted that one of the core elements of tourism development is to encourage local communities’ participation which is central to the sustainability of the tourism industry.

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