Saturday, February 18, 2017

The purrfect bark

 "The purrfect bark"
Sun.Star Davao, February 18, 2017

My dog-crazy youngest daughter’s dream came true one day when my sister-in-law gifted her with a brown-colored dachshund. Needless to say, she was over the moon. Our cuddly pup was unanimously christened Soju by our KDrama-loving family.

I must admit, one of the reasons why it took me a while to say ‘yes’ to my daughter having her very own pet was the huge responsibility that came with it.  At one point, Soju had a bite-anything habit, fearlessly destroying slippers, garden hoses, our car’s mudguard, floor mats, termite control traps, etc. Boy, these were the moments that my patience was seriously tested! But, all these seemed to pass every time I witnessed the pure joy of my daughter playing with her dear Soju.
What makes having a family pet worthwhile?... Just read on!

Jet-setting canine

Businesswoman Sharlene had her first golden retriever, Nashville, in high school. Morgan, another golden retriever, came into her life six years ago.
“I got Morgan in the U.S. from a golden retriever breeder and trainer named Alan Gunther. Alan also has a non-profit service dog organization, Service Companion Dogs of America (SCDOA), that provides service animals to people in need”, shares Sharlene.
Morgan finished his training and became a certified service dog at 10 months old. He was brought home to the Philippines when he was almost a year old.  And, since then, has been pretty much around the Philippines, and abroad.
“He comes to work with me every day, flies inside the airplane cabin with me at all times (When you see a golden retriever in a red vest at the airport or on a plane, come and say hi!) and loves the beach”, reveals Sharlene.

Sharlene discloses that Morgan visits his trainer every year in San Diego; watches a lot of NFL games; shows and musicals; and absolutely loves the long drives especially in extreme winter weather.

The proud ‘mom’ claims that Morgan is a dog of firsts. “He is the first dog to be allowed inside St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican for Mass with the Pope; first dog allowed inside many ancient Churches in Europe; and first dog to fly around the world in 3 days”.

“Morgan has done a lot in his life, and he's been the perfect home, work, and travel companion for me and the family”, smiles Sharlene.

(*NOTE: Morgan has a Facebook page with photos of his many adventures:

Man’s best friend

Alyssa and Yeti have been dog lovers since they were young.

My parents told me that I’ve loved animals even as a baby. Dogs have a special place in my heart.  Usually, a toddler would ask for toys during their birthdays but as for me, all I wanted was a dog”, confesses Alyssa.

On the other hand, Yeti’s family always had dogs at home while he was growing up. In 1998, he got a bearded collie from Australia named Rebel, followed by another dog with the same breed, Bounce.
“They had a pup named Bonzi. Then, we got another bearded collie girl named Clover, who had pups Bruno and Sparkle”, says Yeti.
“Beardies are so active. They have tendencies to herd people. Rebel stayed with my Mom so she lived indoors and accompanied her to the office. The rest lived with me, outside the house but free to roam around the compound. They love to go out when the gate is opened, just to annoy the neighbor's dogs”, Yeti narrates.
In contrast, Alyssa did not just stick with one breed. Through the years, she owned a Shi Tzu, Dalmatian, golden retriever, poodle, mini pinscher, Lhasa apso, and a Yorkie spitz. She is currently a doting ‘mom’ to two schnauzers, Cooper and BaoBao.
I personally bathe them twice a week and groom their hair almost every day. Their after-shower grooming usually takes 1-2 hours. I go to a human salon once or twice a year. But, for my dogs, every 40 days!”, laughs Alyssa.
“Dogs are such a great example of unconditional love. They are always ready to love you, even if you have limited attention for them”, intimates Yet.

Bubbly Alyssa couldn’t agree more, “The first one to greet me when I come home every day are my excited dogs. I feel so loved. Their loyalty is unmatched!”.

Feline frenzy

Kirsteen and Micole has cared for dogs. However, having cats in the house is a novel experience for them.
“My three cats are named Oreo, Mochi and Yoshi. All of them are Persian cats. We gave Oreo her name because her fur color (white) reminded us of the cream filling in Oreo cookies; and Mochi, because her appearance highly resembles Mochi, the cat from the movie Big Hero 6. Yoshi, though far from his fur color (chocolate brown), is inspired by my son's favorite character in the Mario series, Yoshi”, divulges Kirsteen.
Micole’s family has 5 dogs, and 2 cats named MiuMiu and Ivo. “We got MiuMiu for free while Ivo was bought at a pet shop. I gave MiuMiu her name because she ‘meows’ a lot. On the other hand, Ivo got his name because my mom’s name is Ivy”, explains the charming Micole.
“Our cats sleep with us in the room. Mochi stays in between our pillow; Oreo sleeps beside me while Yoshi’s spot is under the bed. At 9:30pm, they will automatically go to pee and poop inside their litter box because they know it’s sleeping time already”, relates Kirsteen.

For somebody in Grade 9, Micole reflects that caring for pets is a good training ground. “I learned to be responsible because of my pets. They are a source of happiness and entertainment, and keep me company as well”, ends Micole.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Best of Davao 2017: Chocolates category

"Best of Davao 2017: Chocolates category"
Sun.Star Davao, February 10, 2017
Article by: Rhealyn C. Pojas


NOTHING is more synonymous to February than chocolates, especially since Valentine’s Day falls into this month. 

We know that a lot of folks out there are already looking for sweet chocolates that would exactly match their sweet love for their special someone. Sweet, isn’t it?

Because of that, we are doing our own legwork to help you all find the “right” sweetness in your journey to winning the right person. 

Now, in our quest to find the best chocolates that are proudly made by Dabawenyos, we have listened to the grapevine to figure out what has been making a buzz in the market lately.

And so, we had picked three locally-made chocolates in Davao City, namely the Kai Artisan, the Cacao de Davao and Coco Dolce, and invited three jurors to help us decide which is the best among the best.

Of course, since we are presenting only the best in the market, jurors had a hard time picking a winner, but like any other game, there has to be that one who has to be on top.

For the review, we let the jurors decide for us. But before we go on, let’s step on the brake first as there are some few facts you should know on how the judging was done: The jurors were not informed about the brand of the chocolates when they tasted them to prevent any prior biases from surfacing even before the tasting was done.

For each chocolate, we asked the jurors some questions that are crafted out from our research in determining the qualities of a good chocolate.
They were then asked how they would rate each chocolate from the scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest). To know the result, read more (winks).


Their box of eight chocolates just made a lot of impression to the jurors who were all in sync in saying that it had a good presentation. From its packaging, to the appearance of the chocolate and down to the last bite, this chocolate never ceased to amaze the jurors.

“From the way it is presented, it looked like it came from a gourmet chocolate shop. The exterior part of the chocolate is quite firm but then when you bite into it, it’s actually soft inside,” Juror Wowie said, referring to Kai Artisan chocolates she had tasted.

Juror Tessie agreed with it and describe the chocolates as firm on the outside but “silky, smooth and chewy” on the inside. The jurors said the sweetness was just right.

For being a local chocolate, Juror Chito said it tasted really good. “Pagsimhot pa lang nako daan, murag gusto na nako siya kan-on. Kung sama saba, as a consumer. Kani gyud akong gusto tilawan (Its smell alone will entice you to eat it. As a consumer, this is what I would really love to taste),” Chito added.

The jurors said they liked the way the chocolate was presented as it looked very high end. “I like the way it was presented because you’d feel excited that there’s two layers, the crunchy part and the soft part inside,” Juror Wowie said.

Wowie: 4
Tessie: 4
Chito: 4


This chocolate is proudly made in Davao that it even bears the name of our beloved city. Those tiny pieces of dark chocolate with Durian fillings even accented more the fact that it is produced in the home city of the current president of the country.

Juror Tessie said that chocolate and the Durian filling just went well together. There might be some people who do not like to eat Durian but since its Durian filling is not too strong, those who do not like to eat Durian can actually eat it, she said. “I think it’s more of a dark chocolate. It’s a little bitter but still sweet,” said Juror Wowie, adding that it is more of like the native chocolate that Dabawenyos are used to.

Juror Chito said its presentation can compete in the international level and that it has a “pang export ug dating” look.

Wowie: 3
Tessie: 3
Chito: 3


This chocolate got Juror Wowie really excited as it is the only chocolate bar among the three items that can be tested for snapping.

According to research, one of the qualities of a good chocolate is when it snaps properly when you break it. Voila! It really did snap when Juror Wowie broke it into two pieces. No bits and pieces came out after it was broken. “This one taste more like our native chocolate and it’s a bit bitter so I guess it is dark chocolate,” Wowie expressed. “Although… you would be deceived by the appearance because it would appear as if it’s milk chocolate but actually it’s more of a dark chocolate,” added Wowie, saying further that compared to the other two chocolates, this one has a faint chocolate smell.

Juror Tessie agreed on this too and expressed that for one to really be able to smell this chocolate, one should really have to smell it for a few more seconds. It is also the least sweet among the three. Juror Chito said though he is not fond of dark chocolates, he can eat this one.
Wowie: 3 
Tessie: 2 
Chito: 3 


Based on the figures dropped by the Jurors, we have come up with a winner and it is pretty obvious, right? From the presentation, to the appearance, color, texture, smell, and of course, the taste of the chocolate, Kai Artisan aced this review. Kudos Kai Artisan for winning this month’s Best of Davao: Chocolate category.

***** Meet the jurors Janette Huang-Teves also known as Wowie (“Mom-About-Town”) is a lifestyle columnist of SunStar Davao for 10 years now. She was once the Davao City Tourism Officer under former Mayor (now President) Rodrigo Duterte.

Tessie Alcoriza Paña is the General Manager of SunStar Davao.

Chito Samontina is the TV Host of “KolChito,” a segment in “Biyaheng DO30” on GMA 5 Davao that promotes Davao Tourism and a multimedia artist and social media influencer with more than 65,000 active followers in Facebook.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 10, 2017.

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

From Beko's Kitchen to yours

“From Beko’s Kitchen to yours
Sun.Star Davao, Feb. 4, 2017

Beko’s Biik trailblazed Davao’s dial-a-lechon craze when it began airing its catchy radio ads in 2006. It promoted the “hotline” “227-BIIK” to get your hands on their succulent young pig roast, complete with the much-craved lechon crispy skin and its tender and tasty meat in just three hours time.

A decade later, the demand for Beko’s Biik is still as strong as ever.  This inspired its young owner Beverly Lim to expand the business further.
“I wanted a one-stop takeout counter where our customers can get their lechon and food trays, and do a little foodie grocery shopping as well. Thus, Beko’s Kitchen was born”, shares Beverly.

I love to eat as I come from a family of eaters.  So, I think it’s just natural that I ended up working in the kitchen. My mom used to cook a feast every Sunday. She loved it when we invited our friends for lunch to share a meal with the family. When she passed away, I began cooking the dishes she used to cook. In a way, it helped me deal with missing her”, divulges Beverly.

According to Beverly, the word “beko” means youngest aunt in Chinese. “A family friend  who used to live with us, Raul Labajo, would often hear my niece and nephew call me Beko. After a while, he started calling me by that name, too.  Eventually, the nickname caught on that everybody began using it”, chuckles Beverly. 

When I think of home

Beverly describes the food at Beko’s Kitchen as “homemade and not pretentious. It’s just comfort food that reminds you of home”.

Their well-loved family-approved specialties good for 10-15 persons is perfect for potlucks and gatherings. These include their scrumptious Baked Iberian Chicken (two whole chickens oven roasted for 2 hours with tons of garlic and potatoes at PhP900);  

Kinilaw na Tuna (marinated in Beko’s Kitchen’s house-blended kinilaw sauce at PhP700 and PhP800 (Sinuglaw) per tray);

Yang Chow Fried Rice (fluffy white rice with Chinese chorizo and homemade ham at PhP500); and Spicy Honey Chicken (two whole chickens cut into bite-sized pieces fried to perfection and glazed with chili sauce and honey mix at PhP800).
In addition, Beko’s Kitchen offers their mouthwatering Pork Binagoongan (at PhP800 per tray); 
Salt and Pepper Ribs (PhP850 per tray); and many more.
“Our Silky Sotanghon (PhP850 per tray) is a recipe passed on to us by our late grandmother. We only use imported sotanghon noodles from Malaysia. Slow-cooked stewed pork, shredded chicken and seafood all in one dish”, describes Beverly.
“In Chinese, noodles are supposed to symbolize long life. So imagine the horror on my mom’s face when I used to cut the noodles in half before cooking it. After that, whenever I cook my grandma’s Silky Sotanghon recipe which was taught to me by my mom, I see to it that the noodles are left uncut. And it does represent long life to me, for as long as their recipes are alive, it feels like they are as well”, enthuses Beverly.

Aside from the sotanghon, Beko’s Kitchen has its bestselling Birthday Noodle or Cha Misua (PhP850 per tray), a light-but-festive Chinese food symbolizing long life and traditionally eaten on one’s birthday.
Takeout counter

Of course, Beko’s Kitchen will not be complete without its Beko’s Biik mainstays, Lechon Biik and Lechon Roll.

Beko’s Lechon Biik starts at PhP1,700 for six persons; PhP1,900 for eight pax; PhP2,200 for twelve pax; PhP2,800 for 15 pax; PhP3,500 for 20 pax; and PhP4,500 for 30 pax. It comes in regular and spicy flavors.

“The Lechon Roll (serves 12 pax at only PhP1,200) is the best part of the regular lechon. It’s belly without the bones. It’s not biik but the meat is still the same juicy, tasty Beko’s biik flavor. Although packed with flavor on its own, the lechon roll comes with its own liver sauce and available in spicy variant as well”, explains Beverly.

Other must-try Beko’s Kitchen frozen treats include tocino, dumplings, Angus Beef patties, homemade ham and spring rolls as well as Beko’s Kitchen Kinilaw Sauce, Chili Sauce, Salted Lapu-Lapu Fillet, Chicharon Pinakupsan, among others, that the whole family will surely enjoy.

Gourmet frozen and bottled treats can also be bought at the very convenient takeout counter.

The Top Shelf Artisan Meat is a 21-day aged Australian Ribeye (1kilo) at Php 1,200 (3pcs) while Larry's Homemade Bacon is a healthier option compared to other bacon products in the market. “It is made with special ingredients from organic products containing corn fiber, bamboo fiber, seaweed, among others. It is sold at Php125 (250 grams) and Php240 (500 grams)”, details Beverly.

“I only sell products which I have personally tried and loved. I try to stay as local as possible choosing homegrown products”, says Beverly.

Beverly reflects that being in the business for 10 years, has taught her that there will be good and bad days.

“The most important thing to remember is that at the end of the day, customers are willing to forget bad experiences as long as you deal with the situation properly. It's not solely good food that earns you loyalty but also good customer service. As long as you handle the situation and address the problem, bad days can turn into better days”, encourages everybody’s “Beko”.

Beko’s Kitchen is at Door 3, 703 Building, Tionko Avenue, Davao City. It is open from Monday to Sunday, from 9am-7pm. Contact numbers: 2863445 and (0922)8381600.

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