Wake Up, Philippines!

Cheaper drugs law not working

Posted in Health, Legislation, Medicine by Erineus on February 25, 2009

THE cheaper medicines law will not benefit the poor because the reduced prices for drugs will not make lower income groups prioritize spending for medicine over cell cards.

Asian Institute of Management professor Emmanuel Leyco, executive director of the Center for Legislative Development International, said the government’s pricing response as a “policy response” to the high cost of medicine will not work.

He said studies they conducted showed that medical care ranks eighth in the list of top 10 expenditures of Filipinos. Food, housing and transportation and communications ranked first, second and third, respectively.

“The poor spend more for transportation and communication compared to health care. They would prefer to buy cell phone cards than medicines. They will purchase the same things they consider essential,” Leyco told Standard Today in an interview after yesterday’s “Kapihan Para sa Kalusugan” at the AIM building in Makati City. Even as he acknowledged the efforts of lawmakers to lower the cost of medicine, Leyco said they should have considered the people’s income profile and spending pattern.

For those who are in the marginalized or poor sector, reduced prices mean very little because of the lack of savings.

“Close to 50 percent of our people do not have income and those who have less income than they spend will not consider buying medicines even with lower costs,” Leyco said.

“So the bottom 50 percent or the poor Filipinos will not benefit from the cheaper medicine law,” he said.

Data available show that 61 percent of all the healthcare facilities are located in Luzon with almost half of them clustered in Metro Manila. Filipino medical professionals also prefer to practice in the more advanced urban centers.

At present, only 10 percent of the country’s doctors, dentists, pharmacists; 20 percent of medical technicians; and 35 percent of nurses can be found practicing in rural areas. In 1999, there were only 3,941 of them who went abroad to work. A few years later, more than 22,000 left for overseas assignments.

By Macon Ramos Araneta
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=politics4_feb25_2009

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Easy breezy cocktail party!

Posted in Food/Drinks, Party, What/How/Why/Where/When by Erineus on February 25, 2009

One of the best kinds of parties to go to is the cocktail party. It’s not as stuffy as black-tie or as structured as sit-down dinner parties. Cocktail parties are equal to fun and flirty cocktail dresses and it promotes more mingling, moving around and you actually get to enjoy it. It’s also the easiest to host because you don’t have to come up with a seating arrangement and consider your guests’ dietary requirements. To make sure that you’ve got all food groups covered, here’s a list of dishes you can serve at your party (and oh, don’t forget the overflowing wines, spirits and at least, a one-of-a-kind cocktail specially created for that event):

1. Canapés—Pick those that are spicy or salty or both to promote more drinking. The only rules in canapés are they’re supposed to be bite-sized and pretty to look at. There are many savory meats that you can use to top your bread base. Get creative—a chicken adobo canapé, perhaps?

2. Cold cuts—This needs no preparation. Just go to the deli and get meats, sausages and vegetarian alternatives. Cut them into small pieces and stick them on a toothpick—and voila!—they’re ready for the trays.

3. Crudités—Basically a garden fresh platter, what you need for a prefect crudités tray are sliced vegetables like celery, carrots, bell pepper, broccoli and others that can be eaten raw and a dipping sauce like vinaigrette or blue cheese. It’s up to your guests to choose which ones they like. You just have to lay out all the options.

4. Crackers—If you’re gonna cheat, any “junk” cracker will do. Potato chips, nachos and similar snacks are acceptable, as long as you’ve got a whopping serving of salsa and/or guacamole.

5. Trail mix—This is not for passing around. A trail mix should stay on the bar and the few cocktail tables around the venue. You can also get creative with this. Mix your choice of nuts, granolas, cereals, cookies and chocolates. And since it’s a mix, you have to mix them all up. Or if you think that’s off-putting, separate bowls will also do.

6. Cheeses—Any good cocktail party has a cheese platter. After all, the best way to enjoy wine is with cheese. Monterey Jack, Colby, Swiss, Gouda, Neufchatel, Beaufort—put it all there—even sneak in some cheddar and kesong puti for a personal touch.

7. Sausages—Again, your deli will provide you all the options. Frankfurters are a smash hit, but also try other less common sausages. Grill them, cut them up and serve on sticks.

8. Dumplings—The easiest way to go about this is to stick to wontons and raviolis. For your vegetarian guests, you can get mock meats that actually taste like real meat. They’re available in any decent-sized supermarkets.

9. Breads—Sandwiches cut into bite-sized servings are a safe bet. Have a variety of choices like ham-and-cheese, tuna, egg and many more. You can also have bruschettas or pizzettes with loads of mozzarella.

10. Desserts—Small servings of sweets are always needed to balance the different flavors of the finger foods. Crème brulée, pralines, éclairs and chocolate sticks are cocktail party favorites. Fudges and puddings served in shot glasses will provide the perfect ending to any delightful party.

By Ed Biado
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=goodLife4_feb25_2009

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Melliza’s tempting delights

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on February 25, 2009

You can’t help but fall in love with Cheesecake Melliza, the enticing flavors of these soft, yummilicious and tempting cheesecakes will definitely seduce your taste buds, and insinuate their way into your heart.

Melvyn Isidro, together with his close friends Shirley Luna, Robert Gonzales and Marlon Patling, had started it all in 2001. Belonging to this click of food trippers, Melvyn noticed how his friends threw a lot of money for these tasteful yet expensive cheesecakes. And then like a light-bulb in the dark, his suggestion to make and sell their own cheesecakes sounded like a brilliant idea to everyone.

Melvyn’s mom, the famous Melliza, brought home a special recipe of cheesecakes from London at the time. Their first finest cheesecakes were baked and whipped in Melvyn’s apartment, and their first patrons were their officemates. Cheesecake Melliza had initially four flavors—Blueberry, Mango, Strawberry and Oreo cheesecakes. These delicious treats had certainly made a craze, and word of mouth had made Glorietta Malls invite Cheesecake Melliza to exhibit their products in the Baker’s Fair in 2002.

A certain hit then, Cheesecake Melliza was automatically invited by Glorieta Malls to stay and open their first dining store in the mall’s food court. Now, Cheesecake Melliza has five outlets, and 10 mouthful flavors and a variety of sweets to choose from!

Cheesecake Melliza’s All Cheese is the classic baked cheesecake. “The difference of baked cheesecakes from those refrigerated ones [which were usually sold in other stores] is that it doesn’t melt quickly, and of course, we use pure cream cheese,” Isidro boasted. A lot of people use New York Cheesecake as a measuring stick of good cheesecake—and that’s exactly what Cheesecake Melliza serves. A New York-style cheesecake is made from pure cream cheese, cream, sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. “With my mom’s recipe as the basic, we then added fruits, chocolates, nuts, etc. If your base is ok, it is easy to add other ingredients,” Melvyn added.

Their all-time best-seller is the Blueberry Cheesecake—a plain New York cheesecake generously topped with blueberries. Their Oreo Cheesecake—a creamy cake on an Oreo cookie crust, is a hit as well. Mango Cheesecake, with real mango bits, and their alluring Choco Moose literally sell like pancakes too!

I would bet that their Devil’s Food Cheesecake will surely top your list, because it’s like two desserts in one. Its first layer is the moist, alluring chocolate cake, and the second layer is the classic New York cheesecake, iced with butter cream and chocolate fudge. Their Wet Dreams Chocolate Cake, a two-layered cake covered with chocolate butter and smothered with ganache is set to win you over as well.

The Cheesecake Melliza’s original recipe, Mukies, a combination of muffin and cookie, loaded with chocolate chips and walnuts, is sweet and nice to anyone’s taste buds. The Revel Bars—oatmeal bars swirled with choco fudge—are inviting too. While the famous Scandal Bars, another original recipe of chocolate caramel over a chocolate crust topped with walnuts and chocolate chips, is another crazy treat, once described by a customer as “nakaka-iskandalo sa sarap.”

A new lineup of cakes awaits the customers, too. Strawberry Shortcake, Blackforest, Choco-Almond Cake, Tiramisu and Carrot Cake will definitely make you fall in love. Coffee mixes and cold drinks are served, too, of course.

All the treats here are fairly delicious, not too sweet or anything like that. And if you’re too weight-conscious, sugar-free products are served anyway. Plus, you can buy assorted slices of flavors in a box, and yeah, everything sold in here is way, way affordable.

Cheesecake Melliza stores are located at the Food Choices in Glorieta 4, Robinson’s Midtown in Manila, Mall of Asia, Greenhills and Kamagong Street, Makati City.

By Marane A. Plaza
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=goodLife3_feb25_2009

Experience Boracay through your palate

Posted in Hotels/Restaurants/Bars by Erineus on February 25, 2009

In the hurried world of Makati, a new restaurant opens its doors to corporate folk and food lovers with a yen for fine dining fare and a relaxing ambiance.

Café La Carmela is a hands-down ideal place to chill out and relax after a hard day’s work. Owned by Boy So, Café La Carmela features the same international buffet offered by La Carmela de Boracay Resort Hotel, located at the beach front of Station 2 in Boracay, a place frequented by famous stars in the country each time they visit the beach paradise. Wanting to bring the beach experience to city people, So opened the restaurant for individuals working around the corporate area, as well as for villages nearby.

Café La Carmela boasts of a wide array of mouthwatering Italian dishes that satisfies even the most discriminating palate.

Diners can snack on Canapés like shrimp cocktail in puff pastry, salmon gravlax in tart, asparagus wrap in thin slice beef and pumpkin chestnut in sake cup for starters, seabass and wagyu beef for ala carte, or go for the buffet which offers mixed green salad and assorted vegetables with dressing at the salad bar.

At the carving station, wagyu roast beef awaits every beef-lover. With choice of condiments; Lolo Rosa lettuce, mini ciabatta, red wine sauce, dijon mustard, horseradish and mayonnaise. For the chafing dish line, pork loin steak with balsamic sauce, butter vegetables, chicken breast stuffed with mushroom and spinach plus white truffle foam, seafood provencal and steamed rice were generously lined up. And lastly to top up the savory feast, an open bar of Panna Cotta, Carrot Cake with Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Fountain drew attention to those who finished their meals.

Café La Carmela is located at 38 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City. For inquiries and reservations, contact 0918-938-8358.

By Mae Gianina Cabalida
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=goodLife2_feb25_2009

Chillin’ in Greenbelt 5

Posted in Malls by Erineus on February 25, 2009

Chili’s Grill and Bar, the fun, fresh, flavorful dining haven has taken over the world with its over 1,000 casual dining restaurants in the United States and in other parts of the world. Its famous lineup of hamburgers was first loved on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, Texas on March 13, 1975. Larry Lavine, Chili’s founder and creator, named his resto Chili’s since its signature bowl of chili became famous with its Big Mouth Burgers. Now, Chili’s Grill and Bar is in 24 other locations including Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, UK, Peru, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Guam. The Philippines, of course, has had its own taste of Chili’s flavors when it was first introduced to the Filipino diners in December 1996.

Urban food trippin’ would be a lot more fun, fresher and hellah flavorful as Chili’s conquers Greenbelt 5, its fourth branch in the country. Guests are definitely in for excellent services and mouth-watering dishes that always come with every Chili’s dining experience.

Flavorful

Chili’s takes pride in its delicious American southwestern comfort food such as its scrumptious starters Triple Play, Buffalo Wings and its Bottomless Tostada Chips. Mouth-watering staples such as their Mushroom Jack Fajita, Big Mouth Burgers, Flame Grilled Ribeye and Baby Back Ribs are guaranteed to satisfy your cravings with its large servings.

Diners can look forward to a new take on their old-time favorites. The best-selling Big Mouth Burgers are now available in their bite-sized version called the Burger Bites. You’re set to love these savory mini beef burgers topped with bacon, American cheese, sautéed onions and Ranch dressing that could give you this certain picnic-feel inside a resto. The crowd-favorite Buffalo Chicken Fajitas is a combination of their famous Fajitas and Buffalo Wings with crispy breaded chicken breast in Buffalo sauce, served with onions and bell peppers and topped with bleu cheese crumbles and crispy bacon. The Fire-Grilled Chicken and Shitake Mushroom are perfect for grilled-food lovers. It’s a meal of fire-grilled chicken breasts with marinated Shitake mushrooms served over zesty peppercorn sauce, with loaded mashed potatoes and fresh veggies.

The sweet treats are meant to complete your food trip. The sinful Molten Chocolate Cake will surely sink your teeth with its fair sweetness. Its fairer cousin, the White Chocolate Molten Cake, white chocolate cake with a warm white chocolate filling, raspberry sauce and white chocolate curls, topped with vanilla ice cream under a crunchy white shell, will make you forget your name as it melts nicely in your mouth. While the High and Mighty Pie is made up of Heath candy pieces in rich vanilla ice cream, piled high on a crushed Oreo cookie and drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce.

Fun

“Greenbelt 5 and Chili’s are a perfect match,” says Laine de Jesus, Chili’s marketing head. “This mall is a hub of new and exciting activities. It is perfect for people who love dining as much as they love shopping. We try to give them exactly what they are looking for by giving them consistently good food and great service in a more modern and relaxing ambiance for that perfect chill-out dining experience.”

This latest 160-seater branch boasts of a bigger and more modern bar—a 25-feet long Margarita Bar with 40-inch plasma screen television sets. Chili’s bar serves an extensive alcoholic and non-alcoholic selection of drinks, including frozen, flavored and distinctive premium hand-shaken Margarita’s—which has been a Chili’s trademark. Its Presidente and Topshelf Margaritas gives a brand-new meaning to chillin’ and social drinkin’-way, way cooler than any other drinks in the metro. While techies and Internet enthusiasts will surely love the store’s free Wi-Fi Internet connection available here.

Fresh

Located at the 2nd Level of Greenbelt 5, the resto sports a new, contemporary image of Chili’s seen in their other locations around the world.

“Our restaurant’s improved layout reflects our direction towards achieving a fresher and a brighter ambiance. We have, however, retained signature and familiar elements as part of the global brand identity maintained by the Chili’s franchise for over 30 years now,” De Jesus explained.

It starts with a white and red façade with the Chili’s logo impressed upon brick walls flown in from the United States. The wooden green French doors serve as the entrance to the dining area festooned with stone-finished tables, granite countertops and comfortable chairs and booth seating.

The familiar Chili’s red color is made more upbeat and cheery with bright splashes of blue hues. Modish drop light fixtures, stainless steel railings and the signature giant red pepper hanging from the ceiling are just some of the features of the restaurant. The outdoor dining patio affords diners with a fantastic view of the Makati skyline and is a great place to hang out and enjoy the cool breeze.

Chili’s are also located in Northeast Greenhills, San Juan and Tomas Morato, Quezon City. If you wish to have your food delivered within Makati area, you may call 729-3022 up to 23.

By Marane Plaza
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=goodLife1_feb25_2009

Cleaning house

Posted in Editorial, Judiciary by Erineus on February 25, 2009

WE welcome recent moves by the Supreme Court to clean House.

Just this week, it found Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes guilty of grave misconduct for leaking a draft decision and fined him P500,000.

In agreeing with the conclusions of the investigating panel, the Court said a “breach of duty amounts to breach of public trust.”

“If only for reasons of public policy, this Court must assert and maintain its jurisdiction over members of the judiciary and other officials under its supervision and control for acts performed in office which are inimical to the service and prejudicial to the interests of litigants and the general public,” the justices said.

The Court added that any release of a draft decision infringes on the confidential internal deliberations of the Court.

Earlier this month, the Court also suspended Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Evelyn Arcaya-Chua for six months for receiving P100,000 in exchange for a favorable decision, even though she returned the money and the complaint against her was dropped.

In suspending Chua, the justices said the decision by the complainant to withdraw her complaint did not prevent the Court from conducting its own investigation and disciplining erring judges.

“The office of a judge is sacred and imbued with public interest. The need to maintain the public’s confidence in the judiciary cannot be made to depend solely on the whims and caprices of complainants who are, in a real sense, only witnesses therein,” said the Court.

The Court said “most telling of all the circumstances pointing to respondent’s guilt was the ‘unwavering stance’” of a witness that Chua solicited and received P100,000 in exchange for a favorable ruling in her cases.

With public confidence already shaken by scandals in the Court of Appeals, recent efforts to clean House can only be seen as a welcome development.

We wonder, however, if what appears to be a mild sanction in the case of the regional trial court judge might be seen as a mere slap on the wrist. After all, if the Court was convinced the judge solicited money in exchange for a favorable ruling, wouldn’t that be the ultimate betrayal of the public trust?

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=editorial_feb25_2009

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BIR misses target by a record P67b

Posted in BIR by Erineus on February 25, 2009

BIR misses target by a record P67b

By Lawrence Agcaoili

INTERNAL Revenue missed its collection target by P67 billion last year, a new record, and it blamed it on the slackening economy and the breaks the government had granted individual taxpayers to soften the impact of the worldwide economic slowdown.

“It was about P778 billion. Yes, it was below our [P845-billion] target for 2008,” Commissioner Sixto Esquivias IV said.

Last year’s shortfall was bigger than the bureau’s deficit in 2007, when it reached P52.2 billion.

The Finance Department tasked the agency to collect P845 billion initially, but lowered that to P810 billion later as a result of the economic crunch.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said government economists were now planning to further increase the budget deficit ceiling this year—to P178 billion—to spend more money to boost the economy.

That amount would represent 2.2 percent of the gross domestic product, and would be higher than the previously proposed P160 billion or 2.0 percent of GDP, Teves told a congressional hearing.

“A deficit of 2.2 percent of GDP is manageable,” he said.

The bulk of the deficit spending would go to build infrastructure, boost social services, recapitalize the central bank, and put more equity into the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. to increase its maximum deposit insurance to P500,000 from P250,000, Teves said.

Despite last year’s shortfall, Internal Revenue’s collections were still 9.02 percent higher than the P713.6 billion it collected the year before.

Malacañang appointed Esquivias last October to replace Lillian Hefti, and he assumed office the next month. That means he was in office for only two months last year.

“We are still feeling the impact of the increase in personal deductions and exemption of minimum wage earners,” Esquivias said.

“I understand there have been a lot of closures of establishments, and naturally, it will affect our collections from withholding taxes.”

The Philippine economy expanded by just 4.6 percent last year after zooming by 7.2 percent the year before, the highest in 31 years.

As a result, the government abandoned its plan to balance the budget in 2008 and postponed fiscal consolidation back to 2010, the original schedule.

By Lawrence Agcaoili
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=news4_feb25_2009