By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net PASIG CITY, Philippines -- High school and college students from across the Philippines unfolded at the Mall of Asia bayside a 173.65-meter cloth containing messages of gratitude for teachers. This is the Philippines attempt to win an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. The banner is set to break China’s current record for the longest thank you banner for teachers at 100 meters unfolded at Fuyang Square. The Philippines also attempts to set the record for the most number of thank you messages addressed to teachers, said Michaela Muñoz, chairperson of the educational leadership and management department of De La Salle University. DLSU is assigned to submit to the Guinness body the measurement and count the total number of messages written in the sewn cloth banner. At present, the number of messages is estimated to average at 150 to 200 per 10-meter cloth. Dubbed “A Big Thank You to Our Teachers”, the “longest” thank you banner for teachers is part of the culmination of the Teacher’s Month celebration in the country. Traditionally, each school separately celebrates Teacher’s Day October 5, as set by UNESCO. “Teachers are very instrumental in our lives because as the saying goes one can make or break an individual,” said Muñoz. “This event recognizes and celebrates the importance of our teachers.” According to Muñoz, the Teacher’s Month campaign is a brain-child of Armin Luistro, DLSU-Manila President. Luistro hopes to have a month-long celebration for teachers and have different schools across the nation join the event. This is to revitalize the image of teaching as a vocation and the value of teachers in the Filipino society and national development, said Muñoz. Luistro as representative of De La Salle Philippines partnered with Metrobank Foundation Inc., which offered support by networking with commercial partners to provide special packages for teachers this October. Other partners include Philippine Business for Education and Campaigns Social Response Department of Education. Over 233 students from 20 schools in Manila, Laguna, Batangas and Zambales participated in the event. “Everybody has a teacher,” said Aniceto Sobrepeña. “This is an opportunity for showing gratitude to them as they touch lives by becoming a mentor, friend, disciplinarian and the one instrumental in our success.”
Recently in Competitions Category
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net TAGUIG City, Philippines -- Stacking a dozen plastic cups might sound like a parlor game played during children's parties but some kids get to play it as a sport. In fact, a sibling of three Filipino kids showed that stacking can be serious fun. The Purugganan brothers Andrew, 16, Brian, 12, and Steven, 11, have been playing and breaking records in this relatively unheard of speed stacking contest. They and their proud parents Danilo and Victoria Purugganan are in the Philippines as participants in the the Passion Rush at the Bonifacio Global City. As the name implies, sport stacking requires players to stack up to 12 cups in a pyramid. While some people would take over a minute to stack up all 12 cups without them falling, these boys can stack the cups in threes, six, and dozen consecutively in less than 10 seconds. There are four basic categories in competition level speed stacking. These are the 3-3-3 wherein the player has to stack nine cups in threes then nest them back; the 3-6-3 is with 12 cups where the goal is to stack three sets of cups in threes, six and another threes; and the 1-10-1 also using 12 cups. The fourth category is the cycle stack, where the player is required to cycle through the three other categories. A fifth category is the doubles with two players doing a cycle stack with one hand each. The youngest of the Purugganans Steven is currently the world record holder for three categories: 3-3-3 that he completed in 1.86 seconds; the 3-6-3 category in 2.34 seconds and cycle stack category at 6.21 seconds. He broke the 3-3-3 and cycle stack records at the recently held World Sport Stacking Championships in Denver, Colorado. Steven and his brother Andrew also held the doubles championship title with 7.84 seconds, which they got at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in Delaware. This was broken by Germans Timo Reuhl and David Wolf with a very close 7.65 seconds during the 2008 World Sport Stacking Championships. Their mother Victoria said the boys only started playing less than two years ago after watching the competition on TV. "They got interested in it so we bought them cups that they could play," she said, noting that they first joined the New York State Championships in October 2007 and from thereon, they've been breaking records. And like all athletes, Victoria said her children do some exercises before joining any competition, such as push ups and jogging. Even when they are not practicing, which she said is a lot, the boys still get to do other activities, such as playing other sports like basketball, swimming, baseball and soccer. Victoria said she is proud to let her kids compete in a sport they love while still having fun. She hopes that her kids will pursue the things they like and be successful at it.
By TJ Burgonio Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--In business, it pays to go green, to embrace one’s roots, and to engage small communities. Ask the owner of Binalot, a fast-food chain famous for its low-budget Pinoy meals wrapped in banana leaves harvested in a poor farmers’ community in Laguna, a neighboring province of Metro Manila. As it continues to make good business through its 35 outlets, mostly inside malls in Metro Manila, the young company is starting to gain international recognition. Out of the box United Parcel Service (UPS) has named Binalot the recipient of a $10, 000 special prize for a small business exemplifying “end-to-end customer service,” the UPS theme for its centennial celebration this year. In the UPS “Out of the Box” Small Business Contest, which was opened to the Philippines this year, Binalot bested entries from China, Singapore and other countries in the Asia Pacific. It was the first Filipino company to win the prize. “The UPS prize was a gift from God,” Rommel T. Juan, president of Binalot Fiesta Foods Inc., said in an interview. “We didn’t know it was gonna come. We didn’t expect to win the prize.” Dahon program He joined the online contest months ago, and had all but forgotten about it until he got a call from UPS. And he believed its use of banana leaf from a poor community clinched the prize for Binalot. “Why did we win? Because of the Dahon program. It’s end to end. We get it directly from the farmers, bring them to the commissary, deliver them to franchisees, and the end customers,” said the 35-year-old marketing management graduate from De la Salle University. Besides, helping the poor proved to be a “good karma,” he added. Rommel left Monday for the United States to receive the prize in Atlanta, Georgia, where UPS is based. Since its small delivery operations in Makati City began in 1996, Binalot has served the meals in banana leaves harvested from different communities. Typhoon ‘Milenyo’ But it was only in January that Binalot decided to get its supply from a community of poor banana farmers at the foot of a mountain in Laguna as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR). “When Typhoon ‘Milenyo’ struck [in September 2006], it wiped out our regular supply of banana leaves. So we were forced to source somewhere else,” Juan said. Soon after, Binalot found a viable source in a banana plantation in Laguna, and developed a CSR program, “Dangal at Hanapbuhay para sa Nayon” (Dahon) or leaf, to help farmers earn income right in their own backyard. Proper harvesting Binalot personnel trained the farmers from 29 families on proper harvesting, trimming and sanitation, equipped them with tools, and set up a modest workplace for them. So each day, the men would head for the clumps of banana trees at dawn to cut leaves, and haul these by horse to the workplace where their wives would clean and trim them according to Binalot’s specifications. The company buys banana leaves at P60 to P70 per bundle from the farmers thrice a week, providing a regular livelihood for them, weaning them off idleness and boosting their confidence. “The men are earning P300 a day and the women, P200,” Juan said. “Just imagine how a crisis (damage wrought by Milenyo on Binalot’s supply) turned into something good.” Until Binalot came into the picture, most of the farmers earned income by selling their banana leaves to small traders at low rates, and mainly subsisted on remittances from children working abroad. Less trash The leaves also meant less trash for the company. By Juan’s reckoning, the company has set itself apart from the rest, not only because of its “eco-friendly” packaging and “truly Pinoy” meals, but also because of its Dahon program. “This CSR is one program that our whole organization is proud of. We are 35 outlet-strong. We are a truly Pinoy fast food, but it’s different when you’re able to help others,” he said. Through this program, Binalot shattered the misconception that only corporate giants could come up with a good CSR program. “They always thought it was the domain of Ayala, of Shell and of big companies. We’re a testament that it’s not,” he said. After initially working for the family-owned MD Juan, which exports jeep bodies and parts, Juan and his older brother decided to start their own food business in 1996. And their childhood memories of family outings helped shape it. Binalot begins In one of their talks, he told his brother: “Do you remember when we used to go to Alfonso, Cavite? [We had a farm there with a river in the back. We’d go there on weekends. My mom would wrap our food in banana leaves] So I told him, the food was more delicious that way. Why not offer it in Makati?” Thus began Binalot (which means wrapped). After tapping Aileen Anastacio, a chef-friend of the Juans’, to do the cooking for which she got good reviews, the brothers started delivering home-cooked Filipino favorites in banana leaves to offices from their condominium unit in Salcedo Village in Makati. “Since it was residential, not a commercial area, we didn’t tell people where we were based. When customers called to ask, we’d just tell them we’re in Makati. But neighbors would find out and come knocking,” the younger brother said. There came a time when the Juan brothers had to move out when the other tenants started complaining of the smell of adobo (meat dish). But they soon found spaces in Greenbelt mall and on Jupiter Street. The initial offerings were rice topped with Filipino favorites adobo, tapa (cured meat), bangus (milkfish), tocino and longanisa, garnished with pickles, salted egg and tomato. Financial crisis Months after the financial crisis hit Asia in 1997, the Juan brothers thought of closing shop after their customers started bringing home-cooked lunch to work. Delivery sales dropped sharply. Then came an offer from Shangri-La mall in Mandaluyong City that it had a space for Binalot in its food court. “Our mini-board met, and I said ‘Let’s go for broke,’” Juan recalled. “When we opened in Shangri-La [in 1998], it was an instant hit. We were alive again. We realized the sale was constant unlike in delivery service.” Exponential growth After gaining confidence, Binalot opened more outlets in other malls, mostly from its annual earnings, and hired more people to run the growing business. In 2003, it went into franchising. “That’s when we started to grow exponentially,” Juan said. Over the years, Binalot’s menu has evolved, too. It now serves varieties like the funny-sounding Tapa Rap Sarap, Bistek Walastik, Bopisticated, Pride Tilapia, Sisig na Makisig, My Dinuguan & Only, and Love Me Tenderloin Tips in all its outlets. With the $10, 000 prize, Juan and his partners plan to set up a foundation or a social enterprise, and develop other banana products, like chips and cakes. “If we have things we can develop, we’ll start with them (farmers),” he said. “What we want to develop is an industry for them that’s related to our business.”
By Pablo Tariman, Alcuin Papa Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The Philippine Madrigal Singers won the prestigious European Grand Prix for Choral Singing Sunday night (Monday morning, Manila time) in Arezzo, Italy. The Madz, as the choir is popularly known, is the first and only choir to win twice in what is known as the choral Olympics of the world. It won the European Choral Grand Prix (GPE) for the first time in June 1997 when the Madrigals represented the Tolosa Competition, the first and only Philippine choir to win this competition. When it won the Florilege Vocal de Tours in France in 2006, the Philippine choral group earned the right to represent the Tours in this year’s choral Olympics, held on Sunday at the Church of Sta. Maria della Pieve in Arezzo, Italy. The Madrigals beat formidable choirs such as Russia’s Vesna Children’s Choir, Hungary’s Cantemos Mixed Choir, Cuba’s Schola Cantorum Coralina and the Taipei Chamber Singers. “Its overwhelming. Up to now we are very happy and pleased. No words can describe it,” Mark Anthony Carpio, the Madrigal’s choirmaster told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone from Italy. Carpio said the choral group performed a 20-minute program for the competition which included: John Pamintuan’s arrangement of “Pater Noster,” a French madrigal, a German art song, the American contemporary song “We Beheld Once Again the Stars” by Z. Randall Stroope and a children’s song from Maguindanao titled “Kaisa-isa Nyan” by Nilo Alcala. The 44-strong Philippine choir is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Carpio said the Madrigals were set to perform a homecoming concert in October before leaving for the US. The Philippine Madrigal Singers was founded in 1963 by National Artist for Music Andrea O. Veneracion, who led the choir in winning various choral competitions from all over the world. Veneracion passed on her choirmaster’s task to Madz member Carpio, who led the choir in winning the latest choral Olympics. “I never had the ambition of becoming the choirmaster of a group I have admired for a long time,” said Carpio who took over in 2001. “But I trusted Prof. Veneracion’s decision. She had been praying intensely for this when the Madz won the 1997 GPE." Carpio was overwhelmed when the Madz made history by winning its second GPE, this time, under his leadership. “Nothing is more enjoyable than to see our hard work pay off. Feeling good about ourselves inspires us to even work harder. As Prof. Veneracion always said in the past, competitions are not the end; they are just means for us to see how well we are on track," Carpio said. "We worked hard to achieve what we believed is the composer’s desire for each of our pieces. We did a lot of studying and research. But most of all, we did a lot of rehearsals," he added. According to Carpio, there is no such thing as an ideal sound in any choral competition. The sound that the choir always tries to maintain is a free and relaxed sound but at the same time versatile and flexible. “I believe there is no ideal or perfect sound for a choir. I have made this conclusion after listening to so many choirs from different countries of different cultures and ages. Each one sounds good but different from each other," he said. "There are qualities that are common to choirs. They are homogenous and the different voice parts are well-balanced. This is what conductors find very challenging: How to make the different individual voices blend together. This is difficult but attainable," Carpio added. The GPE is an annual choral competition for the winners of six European choral competitions. It was inaugurated in 1989. The six competitions are the Concorso Polifónico Guido d'Arezzo (International Guido d'Arezzo Polyphonic Contest) in Arezzo, Italy; the Bela Bartok International Choir Competition in Debrecen, Hajdú-Bihar, Hungary; Concorso Cesare Augusto (C.A.) Seghizzi, (C.A. Seghizzi Competition) known more popularly as the Seghizzi contest in Gorizia, Italy; Concurso Coral de Tolosa (Tolosa Choral Competition) in Tolosa, Spain; the International May Choir Competition in Varna, Varna Province, Bulgaria; and the Florilège Vocal de Tour in Tours, France. By winning the Tours competition in June 2006, the Madrigals qualified to join the GPE. Despite its name, the GPE is not strictly for European choir groups. Any group from around the world can join in the competition in any of the GPE’s six member-cities. The competition is also not limited to adult choirs. Two past winners are children’s choirs. Sweden has produced the most number of GPE winners with four choral groups. Lithuania has three winners, Hungary and the US have two each. Denmark, Japan, Latvia, the Philippines, Russia and Slovenia have one each. The last winner of the 2006 GPE held in Tolosa, Spain is the University of Utah Singers from Salt Lake City, US.
By Carmela Reyes Central Luzon Desk CITY OF MALOLOS, Philippines--Bulacan residents and officials hailed an 11-year-old girl from this city who topped the junior division in the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) held on July 31 to August 3 in California. Aria Daniella Clemente, who arrived here last week, was proclaimed grand champion in the WCOPA junior division after besting 5,000 contestants from 52 countries. Clemente, a Grade 6 pupil of Stella Maris Academy of Malolos, also bagged the "Performer of the World" award in the junior category after she beat winners in other categories. She received the "Vocalist of the World" honors after besting 50 other finalists in the singing tilt held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The WCOPA is an annual search for artists involved in modeling, singing, acting and dancing. The Bulacan government recognized Clemente's achievement during a program here on Monday. Clemente reached the finals after winning five medals and plaques in the two rounds of the singing competition. She topped the five categories of Broadway music, gospel, Latin, pop and rock.