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Memorable Events

January 21, 2017

One fine Sunday morning I went to take part in an event that turned out to be more fruitful than I expected. 

I have a friend who is a member of the Singapore Philippines Association, and she informed me of a tree planting event sponsored by the Singapore Embassy to be held in Fort Bonifacio. This was actually the second tree planting event organized by the Singapore Embassy, but the first one was held in Nuvali, which was not very convenient for me. I am a supporter of activities that promote environmental protection, and as a resident of Fort Bonifacio, how can I not support such an event when it will happen virtually at my community's backyard? to top it off, I was told that a name tag would be put on each seedling that I would sponsor for a princely sum of 80 pesos each!

The idea that there will be a tree that bears my name as long as it lasts was very appealing. So I put in a sponsorship for 6 seedlings, so that my close family members could also each get a tree named after them. I did not have any other expectation from the event.

On the day of the event, I arrived at the venue at exactly 9am as informed by my contact at the Singapore Embassy. We were told to go to the Kasalikasan Garden that is located near the De Jesus Oval at the end of 3rd Avenue and 25th Street. Singaporeans follow the clock closely, so I was not surprised that the event started at around 9:15am. There was to be a short ceremony to kickstart the event.

From left, Ambassador Kok Li Peng, Senator Cynthia Villar, and Mr. Vivencio Dizon

Ambassador to the Philippines, Ms. Kok Li Peng, gave the opening remarks. She said that, in Singapore, the movement to plant trees started in 1963 when the then Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew planted the first tree, a Mempat tree, at Farrer Circus. This marked the launch of an island-wide greening movement that has continued for over 5 decades. Indeed, this movement has made Singapore the standard bearer in Asia of a green and modern city for its citizens and visitors. The fruit of Mr. Lee's vision and commitment for a green city is plain for all who have visited Singapore to see. Spreading the practice of tree planting overseas is therefore one of the ways that Singaporeans honor Mr. Lee's legacy, and at the same time sharing his vision with other countries.

Philippine Senator Cynthia Villar, the chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, was the guest of honor, and she spoke next. She talked about her endeavour to push for the development of the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA) as an alternative destination for urban dwellers and tourists. LPPCHEA, a 175-hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat in Manila Bay serves as a sanctuary for 84 bird species, including migratory birds and globally-threatened Philippine duck and Chinese egret.

The new chairman of Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), Mr. Vivencio Dizon, was also a guest of honor. He commended the Singapore Embassy for bringing their green practice to Fort Bonifacio, an area that is jointly managed by BCDA and its major partners in the area, such as Ayala Corporation. He talked about being inspired by the gardens and parks in Singapore.

Taguig City Councilor Edwin Eron informed us that apart from Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City had other areas that were being promoted for tourism. Last to speak was Atty Roberto Oliva, Executive Director of  ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. He told us that the Philippines was one of a few mega countries for biodiversity in the world, as the Asean countries, while only occupy 3% of land mass on Earth, are home to more than 20% of the species of animals and plants.

After the short ceremony, we proceeded to an open space that is located next to BGC Greenway and outside Icon Residences. 100 tree seedlings were to be planted that day, and friends of the Singaporean Embassy were invited to sponsor the seedlings. I was given six name tags and plastic gloves.

At the open space, there were holes dug up on the ground, and a seedling was placed next to each hole. Apparently, all tree planters needed to do was to put the tree in the hole and cover it with soil, and then water it.  It was that easy. After watching the Ambassador and guests of honor planted the tree, I went to look for my trees.  Unfortunately, it seems that the seedlings were oversubscribed. I was told that each family could only choose one tree seedling to tie all the name tags.  I was a little disappointed, and I know many families who started planting the seedling before I did got more than one seedling. But oh well, one should not get upset about a small mishap of a good cause. Now I need to remember to check on our tree seedling once in a while to make sure that it thrives!

When I joined the activity, I expected just to support a worthwhile cause and get our names on some seedlings. I did those things, but I also learned about the reason for this event, as well as an initiative to develop a eco-tourism area in a nearby area (Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat is not far from Fort Bonifacio). I also had a chance to talk to Mr. Vince Dizon personally, whom told me that in North Bonifacio, near Uptown mall, there is a lot that is still owned by BCDA, and of that, 5,000 square meters will be reserved for green space. That talk also helps to relieve my worry that Fort Bonifacio will succumb to the urge to sell every piece of land available for a quick buck and ignore the residents' need for green space. Mr. Dizon seems to understand the importance of balanced development especially in an urban environment. I hope he and his team in BCDA will stay true to this course for all their projects.

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Memorable Events

As a resident of Fort Bonifacio, I am surrounded by establishments that offer good food.  Many of them have a wine list. I sometimes wonder, would wine drinking make a meal more interesting? or would I just become addicted to the alcohol in the wine? what are the reasons that people go into drinking wine?

I decided I need to actually go out and do some research. While there are many places that sell wine in Fort Bonifacio, in the last few weeks I came across two opportunities to get some good education on the subject. 

Wine and Cheese pairing

One August Saturday afternoon, I took part in a wine and cheese pairing event at Wine Story Serendra.

If you are not a wine person, you would probably have never noticed their shop, because on the outside, the shop looks like it is closed. Its wall on the outside is tinted black. The La Petite Foire du Fromage (A Mini Cheese Fiar) event held on August 27 was a good opportunity for me to go inside the shop without having to worry about being alone there.

On the day of the event, I entered the shop and was pleasantly surprised to see a brightly lit place, with walls of wine. In the center of the shop were tables ladled with different kinds of cheese, surrounded by wine bottles. Several wines and a champagne were recommended to go with the cheeses. Wine Story Serendra positions itself as a place that allows wine connoisseurs to find rare wines.

The most unique feature of this wine shop, apart from their wine, is their high tech wine tasting machines. There were three cubicles with glass window on a wall, and each one housed four different wines. To try a glass of wine, you insert a prepaid card into a slot, and push a button. The price of a glass of wine is indicated on the button. Cool.

Then came the education part. There was a small room which could accommodate around 15 people around a big table. During my one hour stay there, I had a snippet of two workshops, one was a demonstration of burrata cheese making, and the other was a basic wine pairing seminar.  What I took away from the workshops was that the lecturers were friendly people and spoke in plain language that was easily understood by non-wine drinkers. It was not intimidating at all. I think I would not mind attending their workshops in the future.

Wine Story Serendra is located at the ground floor of Serendra Piazza, facing Market!Market! Mall, next to Cold Stone Creamery.

Wine and Food Pairing

On a weekday evening, I attended a wine pairing event at CAV, a wine bar and restaurant located conveniently at Bonifacio High Street. Since CAV is a fine-dining restaurant, the wines being promoted were paired with fine food prepared by CAV's chef. There were five wines being offered for tasting that evening. Each was accompanied by two exquisite cocktail dishes. I was fortunate enough to be seated with the wine ambassador from the wine company being featured that night, Clarendelle, so I got to learn how rose wine was made and other interesting wine related stories.

I only had time to try the first three pairs of food and wine, and left before two more pairs were served. The event started with a 2013 white wine paired with crabmeat crustillade and oyster tempura, followed by a 2015 rose wine that went with a salad made from hazelnut and roasted beets, and duck liver on bread with fig marmalade. The third wine was Clarendelle Rouge 2010, a red wine that is a blend of three traditional Bordeaux grape varieties, and it was paired with wagyu oxtail ragu and porchetta.

For a non-wine drinker, the wines were very good. But the food was what I remembered well. The duck liver, OMG! I have dined in CAV before, but did not try these cocktail dishes, maybe because they were not on the menu. Serving food in bite size like this to go with various wines is indeed an excellent way to let us understand the essence of pairing. It was much easier to appreciate the general rule that red wine would go well with red meat dishes once you tasted the combination. (As to the why, I did some online research, and found that tannins, which are rich in red wine, would soften the fat in steak and make the steak more flavorful, while the acid in white wine makes fish tastes more salty and less fishy) 

Overall, I found both events to be quite fun and educational, even for non wine drinkers. Who knows, may be I could be converted after a few more events like these!

(I asked to be observer to the events, and the hosts graciously let me participate for free. One even let me free-ride on the food-and-drink tasting part. My thanks go to Wine Story Serendra and CAV Wine Shop & Cafe.)

CAV Wine Shop and Cafe is at Ground Floor, The Spa Building, 9th Avenue Corner Lane P, Bonifacio High Street. See here for contact details.