The Apples & Lemons Awards 2019

New establishments arise each year, but Apples and Lemons has been rating services since Year 2000. Apples for good and Lemons for bad, simple. Now, this is reality. It happened. Deal with it. How you take it is up to you. Either you win more clients or shape up. 


Hotels. Seda Abreeza still tops my list. Their food quality and service is consistent. They make interesting themed events with details that meet the guests’ expectations. Each affair, the food selections are always exciting and well-curated and tables and room set-up are tastefully decorated. 

Seda Abreeza is always tasteful in its food selection and decors, whatever the affair

Well-dressed and well-mannered, too. Maybe I don’t go out too often but when I do it’s always chancing upon these two, Joji Ilagan Bian and daughter Nicole Bian. They have been constantly on my list for the past years and makes it back again. At work or attending socials they are at their best. Very consistent. The innate charm makes for their best accessory. Watch out for these ladies, cousins Ariana del Rosario and Isabela Francisco.

(Left) At work or attending socials, Joji Ilagan Bian and daughter Nicole Bian are always at their best (Photo Joji Ilagan Bian); (Right) Ariana del Rosario & Isabela Francisco, young women to watch out for in the best-dressed scene

Designers. Basing on social media posts, I like Khens Ladaga’s pieces. It is chic and displays a perfect fit. Of all the applications of indigenous fabrics, I like his style best. Maizy Collin is on the radar of favorite designers, a good friend pointed out.

Khens Ladaga’s version of ethnic chic (Photo Khens Ladaga)

Restaurant. ArtisAna is a great go-top restaurant. The chef tweaks recipes and makes it her own. I am a big fan of several dishes on the menu- Black Linguini with Grilled Squid, Duck Adobado and the Crispy Pata Like No Other are some of my favorites. What I’m after is the dessert. The Queso de Bola Cheesecake and I hope she serves the Rhum Cake soon. 

(Left) ArtisAna duo Chef Annie Cacho-Garcia and husband Jun Garcia. (Right) Duck Adobado is one of many delicious selections on the menu

The local artists. This year must have been the busiest with the local visual artists. It was their year to shine and get noticed. Those who did will land on the radar of collectors, and hopefully make it to the bigger field. On my list is Robin Castillo, Mark Tolentino and Art Bongawan who have defined their styles at their young age. 

(Left) Mark Tolentino’s Pangalay Dancer; (Right) A commissioned piece by Art Bongawan


While chewing on your lemons, imagine this….

• A hospitality establishment that has never improved on its food quality and presentation for years now. I wonder how they can’t seem to take notice.

• A lady in lace undergarments joins the fun and jumps in the water at a pool party, and the host establishment either missed it or is ok with it. 

• A hospitality establishment with food quality that doesn’t match the image it wants to project. A recent big affair had unpalatable food on the buffet, and that’s not the first time.

• A hospitality establishment’s Business Lounge that served spoiled fresh milk on its curated buffet spread. 

• A chef whose first move was to attack a customer after complaining about bad service rather than apologize and address the issue. 

• A chef who served spoiled meat to invited guests, called out on with politeness, but never reached out to even apologize to the afflicted party….because it’s complimentary? 

• An artist (A1) asking a younger artist (A2) to reproduce original artworks because A1 likes them. Surprisingly, A2 obliged. Worse, owner of the first piece spotted the reproduction. So, who of the two collectors can claim his is the original painting?

• More horror stories about a starry carrier are popping up. One is if you’re not a celebrity, your complaint will fall on deaf ears, or at best, attended to with triviality. The latest is the cancelation of an allegedly approved hosted flights for travel agents hours AFTER the scheduled departure. Guess what the company’s reaction was to the grievance? Please refer to the second sentence?

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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