Earth Hour

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Despite high food prices, obesity remains a global epidemic - World Bank report.

Obesity and overweight continue to be a global epidemic problem even in times of high food prices.

This is according to the latest edition of the Food Price Watch released by the World Bank Group.  The report noted that while global food prices declined in the last six months, these are still very high and are close to their historical peaks. It is because of this that people choose to serve cheaper and less nutritious food for their family.

“Unhealthy food tends to be cheaper than healthy ones, like junk food in developed countries. When poor people with some disposable income in developing countries try to cope with high and increasingly volatile food prices, they also tend to choose cheap food that is high in calories but without much nutritious value,” said Otaviano Canuto, World Bank Group’s Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. “Half of the world's overweight people live in just nine countries -- China, United States, Germany, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey -- evidence that obesity is not an epidemic restricted only to rich countries.”
The report further warned that with high and volatile food prices, millions will continue to suffer from poor nutrition, whether it is hunger, undernutrition or obesity which can cause premature death. In 2008, the number of overweight adults was 1.46 billion, of which 508 million were obese. Even conservative estimates see that number rising to 2.16 billion for overweight adults and nearly doubling to 1.12 billion for obese by 2030 across all regions and in countries like China and India.

What is sad though is that the report pointed that despite the gravity of this problem, it is not evident that reducing obesity is among the top global policy priorities. Responses to the obesity epidemic have ranged from doing nothing to trying to promote healthier behaviors through taxes, bans or restrictions on certain foods and awareness campaigns. There have also been extreme cases in Japan where fines have been imposed to employees exceeding certain waistline limits.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Things to do during Earth Hour 2013

On March 23 at 8:30PM, million of people around the world will turn out the lights for Earth Hour. an event to raise awareness about to need to take action on climate change and the impact of human activity on the environment.

The Earth Hour movement has grown into the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment since it first took place in Sydney in 2007 with some 2.2 million participants.  In 2012 an estimated 1.8 billion people joined the event around the world.  This year, organizers expect some 7,000 cities in 152 countries to participate.

By the way, I read somewhere that major international landmarks will also join the observance of Earth Hour.  These include Cape Town’s Table Mountain, the Statue of David in Florence, Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, the Bird’s Nest in Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers, the Gateway of India in Mumbai, the walls of Dubrovnik, Buckingham Palace in London, Times Square in New York, Niagara Falls, Toronto’s CN Tower and the Las Vegas Strip, and many more.

I have been observing Earth Hour for the last five years and some of my friends also do so. You might think that it's a little strange to sit in the dark for one hour but you don't really need to just sit there and stare in the darkness.  There are a lot of things one can do even in the dark.

For one, you and your friends can share new stories or jokes. With our dependence on technology such as text messaging, online chat, etc. that we have forgotten how fun it is to actually have a chat and tell stories.  While at it, you may want to unplug some of your electronic devices like chargers, computers, microwave ovens and airconditioners.

One of my musical friends usually do an acoustic sing-along during Earth Hour. He and his buddies bring out their guitars and jam for 60 minutes. Sometimes they even go beyond the time especially when they're having time.

photo from

Me, I just sit in the darkness and try to be aware of my surroundings. I listen to the chirping of the crickets, the distant barking of dogs and the usual human activity of my neighbors.  I try to shut out the noise of their televisions, their motorbikes and other stuff that contribute to what Earth Hour wants us to be aware of in the first place.

I hope this year, you join us for just one hour on Saturday. Aside from switching off your lights, you may also want to unplug other appliances like your TV, game consoles, DVD and Blu-Ray players. You will feel great after Earth Hour knowing you have contributed in a global event.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hooray for March 18, National Breakfast Day!

Tomorrow, March 18, Monday, McDonald’s Philippines, joins 5,000 McDonald’s restaurants in Asia, Middle East and South Africa in staging the region’s first and biggest breakfast celebration to date—National Breakfast Day.

Filipino customers will join in the fun and have another great reason to cheer ‘Hooray for Today!’.

All McDonald’s restaurants serving breakfast in the country will be offering 1,000 delicious McMuffins for FREE from 5:00 AM to 9:00 AM via Dine-In, Take-Out, or Drive-Thru.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Samsung Unpacks the Galaxy S4

I just finished watching the livestream of the unveiling of Samsung's 2013 version of its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4.  All I can say is that the company really went all out in presenting its new gadget in a, ummm, big way at the Radio City Hall in New York City.

Let me give you the important details first - the specs of the new phone.   The key specs include a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with 1080p HD resolution, an Exynos 5 Octa eight-core processor in the international version and a quad-core Snapdragon chipset in the U.S. version, a 13-megapixel rear camera, up to 64GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, microSDXC support and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest available version of Google’s mobile platform. 

JK Shin, President and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung claims that  "All the innovative features of GALAXY S 4 were developed based on the insights and needs we found from our consumers all around the world."

So what are these innovative features? For one, the Galaxy 4S sports a new 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 2-megapixel front camera.  It also has a dual camera mode, which allows you to use both cameras at the same time.  A dual video mode also allows you to speak with somebody in a video call while showing him or her what you are looking at.

When Samsung said that this new phone will connect people even more, they weren't only talking about the support for up to 6 different band sets which allows it to function in most LTE coverage areas as well as enabling global LTE roaming.  It also meant to say about the  'S Translator' which provides instant translation, using text or voice translation on applications including email, text message and ChatON. This instant translation is possible both from speech to text and text to speech and ensures that you can rely on the correct information whilst abroad.

Based on the presentation this morning, it appears that the best features of Samsung Galaxy 4S are not in the hardware but in the applications.  It still runs on Android, particularly 4.2.2,  but added some new features.

One is the Smart Pause which lets you control the screen by where you look.  The feature stops and starts video based on whether or not you’re looking at the screen.  Now before you jump and down thinking that you can control it with your eyes, it seemed that the phone detects the movement of your head; whether you are facing the camera or looking somewhere else.  Similarly, the Smart Scroll allows you to scroll the browser or emails up and down without touching the screen. It recognizes your face looking at the screen and movement of your wrist and then scroll the pages up or down accordingly.

Air View allows users to hover with their fingers to preview the content of an email, S Planner, image gallery or video without having to open it. You can even see a magnified view on the internet browser, or a phone number saved in the speed dial on the keypad. With 'Air Gesture', you can change the music track, scroll up and down a web page, or accept a call with a wave of your hand.

As I've said earlier, Samsung put on quite a show which included a tap dancing boy who took almost 20 minutes before showing off the new phone and a group of bridesmaids who danced to show the other features of the phone. But it seemed that they forgot to include some very important details: the price and the availability of the S4.  The online buzz is rife with speculation that it will come out in April in the US with the major telecom companies carrying it.

Well, I hope Pinoy Samsung fanboys won't have to wait longer to get your hands on this new gadget.

photos from online sources.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis

photo from reuters

Habemus Papam!

The Catholic Church has a new pope in Pope Francis. The conclave of cardinals chose  Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who became the first South American Pope.  He takes the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a venerated 13th Century religious figure who live in poverty and wanted to reform the Church. 

Aside from being the first Pope Francis and the first Latin-American Pope, he is also  the first Jesuit Pope, an order considered within Vatican as one of the most liberal.

After his election, Pope Francis prayed for his predecessor Benedict XVI and then asked the people to pray for him before he gave his first Urbi et Orbi.  

"My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city." Pope Francis told his flock.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lunch at Abe Restaurant in Serendra

We recently had lunch at Abe Restaurant in Serendra at the Fort. It's a good thing we came early because the place was soon packed with a line for waiting customers. The restaurant specializes in Filipino food with strong Capampangan influence.  The name Abe itself is Capampangan for friend.  

Walking into the place is like entering a time capsule. The walls of the restaurant were filled with photographs of famous Filipinos. We spent the time waiting for our orders to arrive identifying the personalities in those photographs.

For our food, we ordered the Klasik Kare Kare, which is a family favorite.  We usually compare the one we ordered with our family's version.  We find the taste of Abe's kare kare almost similar to ours. However, the one we ordered had ox tail and beef/

We also ordered for the crispy tadyang, which is actually marinated spare ribs deep fried until it's crispy.  It came with two dips: achara and vinegar with red onion.  It's best to eat without any of these dips to enjoy the taste and crispiness of the food.

Since every table seemed to order it that day, we also ordered the Binukadkad na Plapla. It's a big tilapia cut so that the meat from both side seemed to bloom (bukadkad).  It was flavored with different spices and deep fried to make it really crispy. It's so crispy that I wanted to eat even the fish head and the bones!  It also came in a platter with mustard leaves and with a definitely Capampangan dip, burong hipon (fermented shrimps).

Binukadkad na plapla from Abe Restaurant

You may also choose to have unlimited servings of rice.  The staff were so happy to fill our plates with rice that we had to ask them to stop after two servings.

The prices were just right given the quality of the food.  If you like to have a nice all-Filipino meal with your friends in a nice environment, with good food and service, try Abe Restaurant in Serendra.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

January is the month of the Sto. Nino. As a sign of their love to the Holy Child, Filipinos hold many festivals in His honor during this month.  Once again, we went to the Sto. Nino Exhibit at the Philippine National Bank. Here are some of the sacred images that were exhibited there.

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

Sto. Nino Exhibit 2013

The exhibit was sponsored by the Congregacion de Niño Jesus, a group of devotees of the Child Jesus.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Serye's Boneless Crispy Pata

After visiting the orchid show last Sunday, we had our dinner at the Serye Cafe Filipino which was also inside the Quezon Memorial Circle complex.  I like eating here because they serve good Filipino food and the prices are just right for the quality of food and service they provide.

The star of our lunch that day was the Boneless Crispy Pata.  Every Filipino knows what a crispy pata is.  It's a pig's front leg or pata deep fried in really hot oil until its skin turns crispy.  Many Pinoys have their own version of how to achieve this crispiness but we love this Filipino food to go along with our other favorite ulam and drinks.  Pinoy drinkers also love this food as pulutan for their beer.

What made Serye's crispy pata different though was it's completely deboned.  It was sliced evenly and each slice are as crispy as the others.  I like this food because it's so easy to eat and there's no need to take the meat from the bone.  It's also not as salty or over-priced as the crispy pata offered in other restaurants.  Priced at PhP130 per 100 grams (we got a 700 gram piece so go compute), it's quite pricey than your regular crispy pata. But for a unique eating experience, I'd say it's still reasonable.  It also went very well with the laing and brown rice we ordered.

We will order this again when we visit Serye.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Orchid Show 2013

We were at the 2013 Orchid Show at the Quezon Memorial Circle this morning.  Thank goodness the weather cooperated and it was a bit cloudy the whole time we were there.  It was a bit humid but it didn't rain and the sun was covered by heavy clouds.

There were the usual garden and plant sales but the exhibit was quite limited.  Here are some of the pictures I took. I hope you like them.

 I also saw this charming pig family made of clay.

 We bought some soil for our home garden.

The Orchid Show is sponsored by the Philippine Orchid Society and the Quezon City of the Government.  It will run until March 11.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The State of Food Insecurity in the World

I came across some hunger facts recently and I want to share them with you.  Most of these came from the report titled, The State of Food Insecurity in the World published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 2012.

The significant findings of the study are: 
  • About 870 million people are estimated to have been undernourished in the period 2010–12. This represents 12.5 percent of the global population, or one in eight people. The vast majority of these – 852 million – live in developing countries, where the prevalence of undernourishment is now estimated at 14.9 percent of the population. Undernourishment in the world is unacceptably high. 
  • The global number of hungry people declined by 132 million between 1990-92 and 2010-12, or from 18.6 percent to 12.5 percent of the world's population, and from 23.2 percent to 14.9 percent in developing countries - putting the MDG target within reach if adequate, appropriate actions are taken.
  • Asia and the Pacific have the largest share of the world's hungry people at 563 million but the numbers have been going down for decades due to regional economic growth.  Undernourishment decreased by 30% in the past two decades and despite population growth in the region, the prevalence of undernourishment decreased from 23.7% to 13.9%.
  • Developed regions also saw the number of hungry rise, from 13 million in 2004-2006 to 16 million in 2010-2012, reversing a steady decrease in previous years from 20 million in 1990-1992.
The report also noted that strong economic growth is important in the fight to reduce hunger. Regions that experienced growth in the past decades also rapidly reduced hunger incidence.  However, economic growth must reach and involve the poor through increased employment and other income-generating opportunities.

One of the areas the report pointed out is agricultural growth which is particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition in poor countries since most of the poor depend on agriculture and related activities for at least part of their livelihoods.  Women should also be involved in these development, the report said, since they have more control over household income and more money tends to be spent on items that improve nutrition and health.

The report further suggested that social protection systems are needed to ensure that the most vulnerable are not left behind and can also contribute to and benefit from economic growth.  Programs such as cash transfers, food vouchers or health insurance are needed for the most vulnerable who often cannot take immediate advantage of growth opportunities. Social protection can improve nutrition for young children - an investment that will pay off in the future with better educated, stronger and healthier adults. With effective social protection complementing inclusive economic growth, hunger and malnutrition can be eliminated. 

You may download the full report from the FAO website here.