In love from the first bite: When mochi cakes reached Manila

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From afar, they look like cute little hedgehogs stored inside a glass fridge. Passing through the shops, these delicacies are usually caged inside glasses and presented to customers as is — light-colored, small circular cakes lined together in rows.

They are increasingly becoming quite popular nowadays in shopping malls. But unaware passersby, with their presentation, would normally ignore them and get on with their lives. For one, who would spend around PHP 75.00 per small piece of the cakes seeing it so plain on the outside?

But one night, I tried to buy a couple of the cakes that the native Japanese call “mochi cakes.” I have to admit I loved the pastry from the first bite.

Mochi cakes are Japanese rice cakes made from glutinous rice, the same ingredient that makes up a round of tikoy, for the Chinese.

They are among those delicacies that look innocent on the outside, but are unwittingly much tastier on the inside. Mochis are filled with unexpected tastes, that many first-timers would think they are served hot but from the first bite, they are cold heaven.

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Mochi cakes are made of rice on the outside but are filled with different flavors inside. They come in different flavors such as pumpkin, butter, mango, strawberry, and chocolate. There are also other recipes that fill them with apricot, maple and soy beans.

I visited the store called Mochi Cream Cafe in Quezon City to try out how they taste like. This shop and other similar stores have opened branches in many cities around the world including Shanghai, New York, Kuala Lumpur and in Manila.

Like the Chinese tradition of eating rice cakes, mochi cakes are consumed during New Year rituals and ceremonies in Japan. They are also used as toppings for soups during celebrations, as well as ice creams that children enjoy around Japanese villages.

I tried three pieces of mochi cakes on my first visit and ordered a ceremonial matcha tea. The tea went well with the mochis and I got the prepare the ceremonial tea by myself as well.

The ceremonial matcha tea served to me was complete with a ceremonial bowl, not a cup; a bamboo whisk; a bamboo stirrer; and a black heavy tea kettle that is far from the traditional looks of Chinese tea materials.

Matcha, on the other hand, is a tea powder, not leaves, that are often used in rituals and ceremonies performed by Japanese monks.

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The tea became a perfect pair for my mochi cakes that night, with a few spaces between drinking the tea and taking a bite, because of the contrasting temperatures of the hot tea and the cold cakes.

I might have been a little earlier for the Japanese new year but with these mochi cafes hanging just around the corner, we can celebrate the goodness of New Year, all-year round.

In The Kitchen with California’s one stop burger shop, CaliBurger

CaliBurgerA paradise. Land of dreams. The Golden State. California has been called many things in countless ways—most of them true. Now, CaliBurger brings that all-out California spirit and lifestyle to you in a setting that says, “This is me. This is who I am.” Sit down. Take out. However you enjoy it is alright by us.

CaliBurger believes that fresh tastes best, that selection matters, that service still counts. When it comes to quality, no detail is too small. Our made-to-order meals are always prepared in open kitchens by experienced chefs who carefully monitor quality and adhere to strict standards for processing, cooking, and sanitation. It all adds up to a difference you can taste.

Say goodbye to old ways, introducing Pennsylvania USA’s favorite brand American Eagle Outfitters

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American Eagle’s beginning was with the Silverman family, which owned and operated Silvermans Menswear. By the mid-1970s two of the Silverman brothers—from the third generation of Silvermans in the family business—were running the family business. Jerry Silverman, was the president and CEO, while his brother Mark Silverman, served as executive vice-president and COO. The Silverman brothers were convinced they needed to diversify their product offerings in order to continue growing their company. They also recognized that the addition of new family owned chains would then enable them to operate more than one store in the same mall. Their first attempt was to open American Eagle Outfitters in 1977, positioning it as a proprietor of brand-name leisure apparel, footwear, as well as accessories for men and women, emphasizing merchandise suited for outdoor sports, such as hiking, mountain climbing, and camping. Stores were set up in shopping malls and a catalog was established. The chain grew for much of the 1980s. In 1989, the owners decided to refocus their business on American Eagle Outfitters, selling their other retail chains. At that time, there were 137 American Eagle Outfitters stores including 37 in the United States.

Now available in your favorite local shopping malls.

Minnesota’s favorite brand Penguin breaks the winter ice and snow

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If a 100-year-old underwear factory in Minnesota seems an unconventional starting point for a fashion icon that has represented Americana since 1955 and is still worn all over the world today, blame Pete the Penguin. And perhaps a whiskey or two.

Abbot Pederson was an ambitious salesman who worked for the Munsingwear undergarment factory in Minneapolis. On a sales trip to NYC in 1955, finding himself with some time to kill before a flight home, he decided to wait out his time in a local bar. Stumbling out to find a taxi stand, he took a wrong turn down a Manhattan street and found himself in front of a display of stuffed penguins in a taxidermist’s window. Before he knew it, he had bought one of the penguins, named him Pete, and was soon enjoying cocktails with him on the flight back to Minneapolis.

At some point during the flight, Pederson’s enthusiasm got the better of him — and Pete the Penguin’s head was knocked off. A seductive stewardess whose attention Pederson had been enjoying throughout the flight gently helped him remove his tie, then wrapped it around the penguin’s neck. As she did so, she joked that such a lucky, dapper bird surely deserved to be immortalized — maybe even embroidered on a shirt similar to the one Pederson was wearing. Little did she know…

On his return to Minneapolis, Pederson, a keen golfer, wasted no time tallying his interests. And so the Munsingwear golf shirt was born. Even in 1955 it was ahead of its time. Casual, comfortable, equally at home on the 18th hole or the 19th hole. From the moment it hit the shelves it was a must-have, popular with suburbanites and sports legends alike. Known today as “the 55,” it represented not only a relaxed and sophisticated lifestyle but was to become the cornerstone of an entire fashion movement.

From this point on, the penguin’s flight was onward and upward. (And you thought penguins didn’t fly…) Pete’s profile became instantly synonymous with the era’s most iconic — and talked about — celebrities: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood and Richard Nixon, to name a few. Original Penguin had become a true American classic.

As a testament to the timeless appeal of the Original Penguin clothing company’s classic designs, the shirts catapulted back into fashion starting in 2000, when young trendsetters started scouring yard sales and demanding their favorite vintage stores restock the cult classics. In 2003, this overwhelming new audience led to the rebirth of an Original Penguin by Munsingwear, and an alliance with an international fashion house. Penguin’s archive of mid-century classics was reworked to reflect today’s lifestyle without compromising the heritage or craftsmanship that had made Penguin’s name.

Today, with Original Penguin stores dotting the globe and sold at exclusive luxury retailers, Pete is back — bigger and better than ever, presiding over a full lifestyle brand that now includes suits, watches, bags, belts, hats, shoes, and women’s and kids’ collections.

See for yourself. Original Penguin men’s clothing continues to exude a blend of confidence and relaxation. Penguin golf shirtsand men’s polo shirts are just as iconic as they were when Pederson designed the first one. They easily pair with Original Penguin pants and jeans to create a look worthy of the great ones.

Original Penguin continues to develop landmark clothing for women and kids, too. Our collection of Original Penguin women’s clothing is chic, cozy, sassy and nonchalant all at once. Peruse the tops, skirts, jackets and dresses that define an Original Penguin gal. And don’t forget the kids. Keep your boys looking hip and clean in designer children’s clothing.

But Original Penguin is more than just clothes today. We have a complete accessories shop to help you round out your look. Pete is now the proud purveyor of bags, hats, wallets, shoes, belts, ties and watches. All in all, not bad for a stuffed penguin.

Schwinn Bicycles from Uniqlo USA

Cycling2 Established in 1895, Schwinn has brought commitment and passion to cycling. Their process of building bikes created a higher standard of excellence that inspired their renowned quality seal. They’ve built bikes for all ages and abilities, for all types of riding, for riders around the world with a simple credo:

Make it fun. Make it easy.

Let’s make it easy for Filipino students to survive the costly college life

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Stories of overstaying students in a university, reaching up to seven years, have come out. Bad grades are cited as one reason. But, there are students who perform so well in school; the only problem is insufficient funds to pay for increasing tuition fees.

Education is a form of investment, and it is one of the smartest ways to place your money in. But the question looms, “how can I invest in education with a few money in my pocket?”

Let’s make it easy to make the money grow.

A couple of years back, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) launched its first fully mobile microfinance banking institution called BPI Globe BanKo. This microfinance bank caters to microfinancial institutions such as rural banks, and small-scale businesses such as sari-sari stores, bakeries, talyer, and the like.

But most importantly, it caters to the members of the Filipino grassroots, the “unbanked.” Comprising the group of the unbanked are tricycle drivers, palengke vendors, kargadors, truck drivers, jeepney drivers, as well as the mangangalakal. The last thing we heard about, these people are also part of the economy.

However, the quoted term is still debatable. The “unbanked” goes beyond this pool of Filipinos. A Forbes report said only ten percent of the global population has access to traditional banking, which means there are still billions of people who do not have access to banks.

With the transactions done by BPI Globe BanKo, these people are given the chance to save up money and fulfill their life long dreams. All a person needs is a photocopy of a valid ID, a Globe or TM SIM and PHP 100 to have a legitimate savings account.

But what if we utilize this scheme by the BPI Globe BanKo for university and college students to get through increasing tuition rates and live a college life that is both fulfilling and worthwhile?

Studying the services, procedures and figures of this innovative mobile banking, it is possible. 

The Start of Higher Tuition Rates

In the past few months, students of the state university, the University of the Philippines System went through a series of tuition rate increase. The cause? The new socialized tuition system. With the series came another series of applications submitted and pending papers just for a student to be out of the default bracket — which requires students under this group to pay PHP 1,000 – PHP 1,500 per unit.

What’s big fuss? Learning history that the school came from a time when tuition fees can be paid with coins from a small pocket, the UP students who are formerly in the lower brackets (with fees as low as PHP 200) can’t seem to face that one day, they’ll see that they are required to pay as much as PHP 1,500 per unit.

Protests followed. The UP administration said there is no change, apart from the in the income bracket adjustments. This latter adjustment pushed Bracket B students to pay under the scheme for Bracket A student.

Therefore, an increase.

The rest of the Philippine universities, unfortunate to have no culture of student protest, has long suffered from this dilemma.

Then, There’s The Solution

Thankfully, Ban Ko came to the rescue, made possible through the partnership with Ayala Corporation and Globe Telecom.

Who can have access to BPI Globe BanKo? Just to name a few: a tricycle driver who wants a new car, a palengke vendor who wants to have a taste of gourmet meat dishes, a working college student who wants to finish a Master’s degree, and a jeepney barker who wants to buy his own house.

Stories of students working part-time in call center and BPO industries only to pay for their academic fees came out. There are also stories of working college students who also spend for the maintenance medicines of her father, aside from the tuition, and therefore comes out as abonado pa.

Just How Is Paying For Tuition Fees Is Made Easier With This System?

1. A 15-year-old college freshman can open a BPI Globe BanKo account. Goosebumps over here but kids as early as seven years old may apply for a BPI Globe BanKo account with a valid school ID. Passing the entrance exams to your favorite Universities is one thing, but being independent enough to shoulder the fees is another great thing.

2. Why bother your parents to pay your summer classes for just three to nine units? Let your parents enjoy the money that would have been used to pay your tuition for the summer classes, to have a nice spa treatment or a nail polish. Or maybe, even pay for your two-semester worth of tuition.

Start paying your tuition fees with your own pocket money, that may come from: (1) your side line and graveyard shift as a party club promoter, if you are 18 years old and above, (2) your graveyard shift in the generous and considerate BPO industry, when it comes to the employment pool, (3) your daily baon, and; (4) your piggy bank.

3. How about to just open an account in main BPI Savings Bank branches? We know all about the BPI Jumpstart card, for teenagers who want to “save.” But there are the lot of factors why it’s still better to open an account in BPI Globe Ban Ko. Here’s why:

a. All-time low interest rates. BPI Globe Ban Ko has all-time low interest rates, if you want to make your bulk saving grow. Compared to the main BPI and BPI Family Savings Bank, your money shall grow faster in a shorter period of time. Deposit accounts with P2,000 average daily balance can earn 3% interest rate per annum.

b. No maintaining balance required. There is no maintaining balance required, unlike the main branches which require at least P100, depending on the account you will be opening.

c. Purchase mobile phone loads with discounts to save greater amounts. Trying to gather up and calling group mates and classmates for a project that has to be submitted the next day, but short of funds to buy cellphone load? No worries, as long as you have savings in your BPI Globe BanKo account, you can go to the nearest BanKo outlet and purchase the load amount you want. Plus, savings!

c. Receive great discounts everytime you reload your mobile phones. BPI Globe Ban Ko account holders are given the privilege non-account holders do not receive, such as great Globe load discounts. Buy mobile load worth P 10 – P 49.99 and get 7% off, purchase mobile load amounting from P 50 to P 99.99 and get 8% discount, and when you buy mobile load worth P 100 above, you get 10% off!

d. Boarding house and dormitory electricity bills can be paid through BanKo. From electricity, Internet to water fees, Ban Ko is now your new Bayad Center.

e. The next semester comes in and new tuition fees arrive, but you are short with funds. No worries. There’s nothing wrong if your mom runs a small sari-sari store or if you dad runs a car mechanic shop. In fact, this microfinance bank can help these businesses to grow, to get additional funding to start another branch where most of your tuition probably comes from.

This microfinance bank accepts loan applications for microfinance institutions, rural banks and NGOs, in a way that is more secure with lesser hassles. But we’re not saying that you don’t trust your University loan programs and org tambayan loan schemes. It’s just that going through the bank loans is a more secure way to loan finances.

f. Your relatives can easily send funds through Globe Ban Ko’s money transfer. 

We know these BPI partner outlets are located perhaps in small loading stations, sari-sari stores, palengke stalls, or pawnshops, in a gritty environment. Because of this, you might worry about your money’s safety. But what’s the fuss? You don’t talk about safety when your finances are handled by BPI.

Visit the official website of BPI Globe BanKo here, and learn more about their services. The bank has helped many microfinancial institutions and small businesses grow. It’s just waiting for you

 

 

Walt Disney official threatens National University with copyright law suits

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Cheerdance championship title winner National University saw Sunday’s competition in the Philippines as a celebration. A Walt Disney Company marketing official on the other hand saw it as a way to ask the university to pay copyright fees.

NU, which earned a back-to-back championship title from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines cheerdance competition since last year, used Pocahontas and Aladdin as themes for the competition, both of which were popularized by Walt Disney.

Disney’s legal team and marketing officers have known of this copyright issue since last year, after having been informed of the news via news websites online.

Once again, they came to know of the university’s winning today, as well as the repeated use of Disney themes, via an email sent to the company.

“We woke up with the news of this local university winning a cheerdance title using our own Pocahontas as theme,” Disney said in a statement. “Last year, they used Aladdin. we would have let it pass but to use another Disney theme again? We don’t think that’s fair.”

Because of this, Walt Disney Company threatens to file copyright law suits to NU, if corresponding fees will not be paid soon.

“We have measures and rules if an organization plans to use our movies or our songs,” the management further said.

One way to legally use Disney characters is by getting permission to use them from Disney Enterprises. A variety of Disney corporate entities own the intellectual property rights to Disney characters.

An organization or a group may receive permission in the form of a letter or an email message. Disney may require an individual or organization that wants to make extended commercial use of Disney characters to enter into a licensing agreement where the user pays Disney for rights to use the character. Disney may also refuse to give you permission to use its characters.

This year’s cheerdance competition is NU twice in a row, using Aladdin and Pocahontas as themes, respectively. Champions for this year’s competition won money and sponsor gifts as prizes.

“The costumes, the songs, the theme, they are clearly Disney, and we just can’t let any big organization use our intellectual properties like public toilets,” said one Disney official.

“Walt Disney has always worked hard to create characters and stories that get popularized among all ages,” he added. “Using them to earn something outside of our boundaries is clearly a breach of intellectual property rights.”