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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Antonio’s Tagaytay in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list

Antonio’s in Tagaytay has put the Philippines for the first time on the elite Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
The 2015 edition of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list ranked Antonio’s in the 48th spot, after a voting of 300 restaurant industry leaders from Asia.

The elite list released by William Reed Business Media, which also publishes The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, billed Antonio’s as a restaurant of “Idyllic surroundings with a menu to match.”
The fine dining restaurant with an offering of Modern European with Philippine influences is set in a colonial-style mansion with its own farm and is found amidst lush gardens and a cool climate in the volcano ridge town of Tagaytay, a two-hour drive and some 50 kilometres south of Manila.
The list hailed owner-Chef Antonio “Tony Boy” Escalante’s cooking and marked his Lechon de leche or slow-roasted suckling pig rubbed with herbs and spices as Antonio’s “standout dish.”
In a Facebook post Chef Escalante referred to the award as an honour and a humbling experience, “While being part of this prestigious list is an acknowledgment of the hard working team at Antonio’s, it is also a statement that Filipino cuisine is ready and waiting for the world.” Escalante’s team includes Ricky Sison and pastry chef Reymond Abdon.
The Best Restaurant feature also highlighted the fact that most of the restaurant produce is sourced from the adjacent farm, which also supplies Chef Escalante’s two other restaurants, Breakfast and The Grill.
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants was launched in 2013 with six voting regions: South-East Asia – South; South-East Asia – North; Hong Kong, Taiwan & Macau; mainland China and Korea; Japan; and India and Subcontinent. The list is created by the Diners Club Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

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Towards an educated citizenry, one town library at a time

“Before nationhood, the Philippines must first have an educated citizenry.” – Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Thus went the words penned by the national hero at a time when access to books and education were limited to a privileged class. The very same words a foundation now uses as its battle cry.
More than a century later, Quintin Jose Pastrana found the vision still relevant, made it his own, and is now leading the charge in getting local communities to educate their own children by building public libraries, turning them into community education centres to “help forge an interconnected archipelago of readers and leaders.”

In an age when the digital native would claim that all information can already be found on the internet and therefore the redundancy of physical public libraries, Pastrana’s Library Renewal Partnership (LRP) foundation insists on the value of the kind of library where one can experience the joy of discovering a new book on the shelves, the feel of turning an actual page, and community access to a democratic space that knows no economic or social class.
In March 2015 the LRP is set to open the doors to its 80th library on its way to at least 200 public libraries by 2020. The LRP envisions empowering 2 million citizens with these libraries collaboratively set up by communities, private groups and local governments.
LRP’s 10-year mission started in 2010 when Pastrana looked at various researches indicating that Filipino children in rural areas decide to look for jobs rather than to study to earn a living.
Pastrana looked back at his own experience, realizing how fortunate he was to have been raised in a family that could support his reading interests. He saw the reality about Filipino children who lacked reading abilities due to deprived access to learning materials and facilities.
LRP partners with local and international organizations to get local authorities to provide the infrastructure for a library and the library staff, and gets educational material from leading publishers to provide the content.

Within just five years, the organization has already built libraries in various slums and rural areas of the county including Albay, Aklan, Ilocos Norte, Kalinga, Quezon City, Tacloban and Manila. The organization also built public libraries in the conflict areas of Mindanao such as Marawi, Maguindanao, Zamboanga and South Cotabato. LRP has also built libraries for public and private organizations such as the New Bilibid prison, The Philippine Heart Center and Gawad Kalinga farms.

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Bayanihan Dance Company bags grand prize in Italy

Filipino dance group Bayanihan Folk Dance Company has given the Philippines another world class award, this time from the 60th International Folklore Festival in Agrigento, Sicily, Italy.
This is the 3rd time the dance company has won the Golden Temple at the folk dance competition, the first one in 2002, and the second in 2005. They have competed with the dance companies of the counties of Bulgaria, Croatia, Holland, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand, and Ukraine.

The Bayanihan Dance Company bagged the “Tiempo d’ Oro” Award or the Gold Medal Award in the 70th edition of the week long competition called the Sagra del Mandorlo Festival in Agrigento.
Bayanihan Dance Company shared with GoodNewsPilipinas their thoughts after receiving the gold award, “Winning the competition gives one extreme pride in what our country can offer. We continue to gauge our success vis a vis the best companies in the world. We realize how talented our young people are, how passionate they can be for their art as well as pursuit of excellence through teamwork and cooperation.”
The Philippine dance company also shared that aside from preparing themselves physically and mentally daily, the group attributes their success to requested holy masses, prayers from family and friends, and blessings from the Chaplain so that their trip will be safe, smooth and successful.
The Bayanihan advises young Filipino dancers that although “there is no money in cultural endeavours such as this one, however the satisfaction of bringing pride to the Philippines and letting the world know of the beauty of the Philippines through music and dances is more than enough to actualize one’s dreams.”
The Bayanihan Folk Dance Group was originally established in the Philippine Women’s University and has since been recognized by Congress as the National Folk Dance Company.

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