The Apples & Lemons Awards 2011

SO ENDS another year and it is time to give the coveted and dreaded awards. The Royal Bitch never left town, he knows when you’ve been good or bad. If you get an apple, flaunt it, and if it’s the lemon, well, you can keep it in your closet with the rest of your rattling skeletons.

This year has been a seesaw ride with highs and lows, gains and losses. Mother Nature have been shaking us to wakefulness and repaying us with how we have been treating her. Floods here, earthquakes there, losing homes, losing lives, the sad stories were not limited to us but globally.

It is the end of days as prophets of doom fill the web with their fearless forecasts while the scientific minds balance the scale with logic in explaining the end of another Mayan calendar cycle.

Apple Awardees.

These unfortunate events bring out the best in everyone. Wherever the tragedy struck, we all stood up and extended our hands in aid. No good deed is little. For us Pinoys, we call it the Bayanihan spirit and it is very much alive. The tragic act of nature in the city was the flash flood in Matina Pangi. It was amazing to see all the good Samaritans showed up! With or without publicity, you know who you are. I give to you a golden apple each.

The Bayanihan Spirit is alive!

Commerce may be the next Apple awardee. The city is growing fast and investors are flowing in. Abreeza Mall opened, SM South is constructing another wing while their northern property is speedily rising. More of the Manila stores, local or international brand, are opening their branches in the city offering more jobs, stiffening the competition that brings the cost of goods down, the services are getting more rofessional, and shopping is more convenient for everyone. No need to fly off to the capital city for the much-needed retail therapy. An apple for each investor.

Rivaling the pomelos as Davao’s most requested pasalubong are the Malagos Cheese and T’nalak Home’s abaca products. Both have been making waves- the cheese in demand with the country’s renowned chefs, and T’nalak Home’s ingenuously designed home products are raved over abroad. Slowly, both are infiltrating the homes of the locals and receiving its much-deserved recognition in its birthplace. Apples! Malagos Farmhouse, call 226-4446. T’nalak Homes, call 321-4379.

T'nalak Home's throw pillows in bark design

Malagos Farmhouse's cheese variety is wide

Be it Zumba, yoga, Pilates or running, health is on the top of everyone’s list this year. Never in the history of Davao has there been so many open marathons. Almost every weekend there is a sponsored run, and enthusiasts gather to beat their personal records or win the blue ribbon. If it’s all about health, everyone ends up the winner. Here’s an apple to keep the doctor away!

So, it’s okay to indulge in your cravings as well. Here are the top discoveries for the year.

Booboo Maramba’s Homemade Guyabano Ice Cream (to order only). What a refreshing and healthy treat. The texture is thick and creamy with the fruit’s juice as the natural sweetener and the fruit bits highlight the Guyabano ice cream’s flavor more. Davao’s pastry queen surely whips up magic localizing the flavors of her desserts. Must-try: Latik Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, Macarons.

Maramba's Guyabano ice cream

Happy Home’s Sans Rival. These crunchy and chewy, heavenly bite-sized bars are made only of fresh, premium butters (no substitutes or blends), fresh eggs and cashews. Five layers of wafers (meringue) with generous serving of butter and cashews spread in between layers. The result is what you call "temptation", like Eve's apple to Adam. Available at Happy Home, Torres Street, or order 3 days in advance, call 222-5578.

Happy Homes' Silvanas

Tricie Pengson-Arcenas’ Strawberry Shortcake. Her heavenly creation has the right tinge of sweetness, the chiffon cake and the cream are light, blending perfectly with the sweetness and faint sour flavor of the fresh, juicy organic strawberries grown locally. Order at The Cellar, Oboza Heritage House, Rizal Street.

Arcenas' Strawberry Shortcake

Conching’s Native Chicken’s “Inihaw na Panga” is probably the most surprising of all. This was a treat I almost missed enjoying from the restaurant’s delicious spread. Though they specialize in grilled native chicken, the “panga” and “kinilaw with gata” are to die for. The “panga” is very tender and juicy, and I love the garlic coating of the dish. The “kinilaw with gata” is just delicious, what else can I say? Call 221-4448.

Conching's Kinilaw with Gata

In the cultural scene, it was a fantastic idea for the Down Syndrome of the Philippines to exhibit the artwork of renowned Spanish painter, Betsy Westendorp, in Davao. I had the honor of meeting this gracious artist who surprised me with a one of her flower paintings as a gift. She masterfully captures the beauties of nature on canvas. Via this exhibition, art was accessible and her paintings now adorn the homes of Davao’s art lovers. Davao is looking forward to having you again soon! Can you paint apples for me please?

Spanish painter Betsy Westendorp

In the few dress-up events that happened in the city, one person stood out- Bianca Baretto-Uy. This chic, young fashionista is perennially properly dressed with her choice designer pieces no matter what time of day. With the flooding of retail shops in the city, the Dabawenyos have no reason not to dress up stylishly. Apples!

Bianca Baretto-Uy seen in Emilio Pucci

Lemon Awardees.

Who doesn’t know Babaeng Bula and her style of inviting the press? ( The instant invitations didn’t work this time. Eventually, her office started treating the press with respect and is now extending invitations with propriety. You finally learned, congratulations. You still get the yearend lemon though.

It is surprising how some people don’t know what a PR & Publicist does. Sadly, a couple of “members of the family” see the profession as a competitor rather than a partner. Part of the job is to book and buy placements after making recommendations to the client which publications its ads should be appearing in and when. It is far different from the job of an account executive. Clear enough? Very sad, very lemons.

More than a communication gap, it is the lack of brain matter between the ears to fill the gap. This international retail shop may be big but the people manning it are pea brained. Words get lost in translation because the mighty stewards prefer to communicate via an associate rather than converse in person. Once may be forgivable, twice is clearly incompetence. Worst, the wrong translations are the ones relayed to the corporate office putting the supplier in bad light. Your stewards lack the proper communication skills. Let’s stuff the gap with lemons. Would you like some tea to go with it?

There is a representative of a publication who sought the services of local personalities to sweeten a deal with a client. For the offered honorarium, not only did the personalities pose as models, they had to pick up the clothes, offer their home as the location, graciously prepared food, and return the clothes themselves. Worst, they were made to pay for the dry cleaning services the publication should be paying for. Has your ethics fallen asleep? Munch on a lemons to wake you up.

You think that was bad? Try this. A regular and loyal writer of this publication was invited to attend the company’s posh ball out of town. He was not only offered a free plane ticket, but also an ID to match the name on the ticket bearing another person’s name. What a wise offer to a very public figure to pose as someone else. Ethics and respect must really be asleep. Here’s a picture of a lemon, but let’s name it an apple, it may just pass security.

Congratulations to all the winners. You best, good or bad, is duly recognized. Merry Christmas and aim for those apples in 2012!