Wednesday, July 25, 2012

KALIKAF: Amazingly Alternative Food Options


While in Dumaguete City for a training / seminar for my new job I was surprised to find one of my college friends, Grace, living and working there. Grace and I went to UP Cebu together, though she was a year behind me. So on my first day in this fair city Grace suggested we have dinner in this new restaurant located in Robinson's Place. Since I had no idea where to eat I just trusted her to take me to a place where I would enjoy gastronomically speaking. Since we've known each other since 1999 she knew how choosy I am in terms of picking the right place for us to eat. My rule has always been no matter the cost, whether a place is cheap or expensive, as long as I would love the food then I am up for it.

That's how I discovered KALIKAF.
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I am not like my mom who is a food expert. She can dissect a food down to its last component and tell me how good or bad it is. She can tell how a food is prepared just by tasting it. She has millions of ideas of making something bland into something delectable, and now that she is with Eden Nature Park and Resort in Davao City she has produced many innovations in the kitchen to keep the patrons of the resort always coming back for more. Recently, my mom has been trying to develop wholistic, healthy food for the resort. So they now have moringga tea, lemongrass tea, and ice cream made from natural fruits and ingredients. 

I guess this is now the trend in the country. Although the obesity red flags are not as pronounced in the country as they are in, say, the United States, we cannot deny the fact that many Filipinos (myself included) are becoming rounder everyday. Worst, many of the available jobs in the job market are more sedentary, contributing further to a lazy lifestyle. 

KALIKAF is one the first resturants I have been to that now offers this healthy option in its offered meals. Kalikaf, which stands for Kalikasan Kafe, came into being because of its owners' common passion to advocate for a healthier lifestyle and slow food movement in a world where the mode of meal consumption has become increasingly dependent on fast food and artificial ingredients. The restaurant was originally envisioned to be simply a cafe, where people can have a unique culinary experience, from breads, meals, salads, snacks, pasta, pizza, drinks, to the desserts at the end of each meal, all made from organic products, produces of local farmers, fresh and/or seasonal ingredients, or at least from least-processed ingredients. Now, they have expanded their menu and are making the resto more functional in order to cater to and accommodate and suit the health needs of its increasing clientele. Their concept, which also serves as a motto, is : "we cook NOT fancy or intricate masterpieces, but just good food from fresh and well-chosen ingredients."

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I am usually leery and wary of endorsing new restaurants because I can never be too sure of the entirety of its menu. The fast food chains and the restaurants I always go to, from the humble larsians to the fancy ones in various hotels and shopping malls, I have already personally sampled majority of their food variety. So I know that if I am craving for barbeque I would always eat at Larsians, or if I need pork liempo nothing beats Andok's, or if I want good chops I would always dine at Roma Mia and have their Godfather Chops in Herb sauce, and so on. Because I have a lazy and boring palette I am seldom blown away by new and experimental culinary establishments with confused themes or out of this world philosophies.

Kalikaf's Chef's pizza
So when my friend Grace H. Casano asked me what I wanted to eat, and their chef offered me regular meals or pizza, I chose pizza, which is always a safe food to choose in unchartered territory. So when the pizza arrived, I was asked what drink I wanted and I answered with my usual "coke zero". Grace informed me that they did not offer carbonated drinks in their establishment and I was a little disappointed at first. So I ordered mango shake instead. So, just as Grace was starting her story about their cozy restaurant I took my first bite of their pizza. It took me about a minute to realize that it was not greasy. I have been so used to eating Yellow Cab, Da Vinci's, and Pizza Hut that getting my hand smeared with lots of icky grease has become normal. But, my slice of our ordered Chef's Pizza not only contained all the meats I want on my pizza, it was not dripping oil. Plus, though it was thick crust (which I always like in a pizza), it was not so thick that it would bend when I picked it up to take a bite on it. And though I noticed there were bits and pieces of herbs on the pizza I realized I did not notice them at all. 

My mango shake was not sweet, that was the first thing my uber sweet-obsessed palette noticed. I was about to ask for sugar when I decided to take a few more sips of my mango shake. After about six to eight sips I started to feel the natural sugars of the mango in my mouth, and throughout the meal I forgot I wanted to have sugar added to the shake.

Malunggay Ice Cream, a true taste of heaven
Finally, Grace surprised me with a green looking ice cream. She was proud to say that once more, the ingredients of the ice cream were all natural and healthy. So I took my first taste of this concoction, and I told her a second after the taste that whatever flavor it was, it was the best ice cream I've had in a very long time. She smiled and told me that it was malunggay ice cream! What the...? Grace knows I never eat green, leafy things and for me to taste that amazing taste on something that normally would NEVER get inside my mouth was an eye-opener for me. Of course, all these reflections came after I finsihed the ice cream. And then I was not surprised to hear this lady asking Grace if KALIKAF sells the malunggay ice cream in bigger quantities, like in a half-gallon container.

This is exactly what Kalikaf, and Grace and her business partners, want to tell everyone: great-tasting food does not have to be overseasoned with artificial ingredients, or great taste is not limited to the common and usual food creations. Kalikaf's owners and staff continue to spend money and time experimenting on new concoctions to find ways to make food tasty without the help of genetically-modified or artificial ingredients. :Like other health option food establishments in the world, Kalikaf believes that healthy AND safe food can also be delectable.

With Grace Casano, one of Kalikaf's owners
Although I was able to sample only their pizza, mango shake, and malunggay ice cream that night, I know for sure that I would return to this amazing establishment everytime I am in Dumaguete to try their other fares. And for the budget conscious, never fear! The pizza comes in various sizes, and they are planning (or already have started on it) to come up with small portions of the pizza for about P99. And their ice cream? Well, you can have this amazing and healthy dessert for only P20 per serving. Definitely not bad.

I am definitely recommending this unique restaurant with an amazing food philosophy. Visit KALIKAF at the ground floor of Robinson's Place in Dumaguete City.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Language of Gender


With all the hoopla accompanying the recent decision of the Miss Universe Organization to allow transsexuals to compete in the Miss Universe pageant I decided to share my thoughts on the issue.

When I was growing up, there was hardly any mention of the “third sex” in either our family or school.  In my na├»ve, elementary view of life I simply accepted the prevalent belief that anyone not subscribing to the “two-sexes” policy of society was either abnormal or a troublemaker.  It was taboo then to even give a thought to the “different” people whose sexuality society could not really comprehend.

It still is taboo now to talk about the “others”, and by others I mean the people in our society who are branded as gays and lesbians.  More importantly, it should be stressed that the term “gay” for any effeminate man and the word “lesbian” to describe any manly woman no longer applies in the modern world.  The world has simply evolved into a more complex and diverse grouping that people can no longer be lumped into two separate categories: the straights and the not straights, the heteros and the homos, the normal and the abnormal.  Thus there is a need to redefine how society perceives and addresses these “different” people, who are more commonly known in a politically correct term as the Filipino Sexual Minorities (FSMs).

It is also a common misconception of people that gender and sex are the same.  For many, there are only two sexes, which is true.  Sex is of course biological, and thus, there could only be two sexes: male and female.  But gender is an altogether different thing.  Gender entails not just biology, but most importantly it also connotes psychological and sociological components.  Thus, it is now high time that society begins to redefine how it attaches the word “gender” to a particular group of people.

Like straight men and women, the FSMs also come in varying forms and dispositions.  In fact, while society before can just claim of two genders: feminine and masculine, there is now a whole new world of gender stratification.  To make it easier to remember, these new brands of the human sexuality can be given the initials LGBTIs, or the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and the Intersexes.  A brief discussion on each is necessary to understand how truly complex society has become.

The term “gay” is generic for anyone who is psychologically and physically attracted to the same sex, and thus gay could refer to a male or female homosexual.  However, for convenience and simplistic purposes, it has been decided that the term gay should be used (but again not exclusively) to refer to a male homosexual, while the term “lesbian” is used to describe any woman attracted to another woman.

From the term itself, a bi-sexual is anybody who is attracted to both sexes, and while many would say that bi-sexuals are simply people who are still confused as to what exactly they want, or perhaps are people who want to get the best of both worlds, psychologists and medical experts now say that bi-sexuals are as normal as any of the other genders, albeit it is also admitted that real bi-sexuals are hard to find as they eventually would either turn out to be straight or gay in the end.

Further in the gender spectrum, a transgender is one who is psychologically different from his or her biological make up.  Transgender is a social, more generic term for people whose gender does not match or conflicts with their biological identity. While a homosexual is attracted to the same sex but is still content of his or her biological make-up, a transgender begins life thinking that somehow he or she has been given the “wrong” body.  A transgendered woman is what we can commonly term as a “woman trapped in a man’s body”, and the male transgender is the opposite.  Studies have shown that such people are harder to find, and that a real transgender eventually becomes a transsexual, or transgenders who have opted to have this gender conflict reassigned through medical procedures such as hormone replacement therapy or the actual gender reassignment operation, which most people erroneously call sex change operation.

Finally, an Intersex is somebody born with two sex organs, and while this is more of a biological and less of a psychological issue, inter-sexes are still considered part of the Filipino Sexual Minorities primarily because they are still considered abnormal by society because of their being “different”.  And in the long run, people born as inter-sexes tend also to be psychologically affected primarily because of their inability to comprehend exactly what they are, simply because they were born with two and not one organ.

As society progresses, gender roles also tend to become more and more complicated and diverse.  In fact, even among gays and lesbians, certain “groups” have also developed to distinguish one kind of gay or lesbian from the other.  The most common for gays are the “butch” and the “fairies”, where the former are the straight acting gays while the latter are the flamboyant, cross-dressing male homosexuals.  Added to these are also the “in-betweens”; gays who are neither butch nor fairy, and this is where most Filipino gay guys fall into.  Then for the lesbians, there are also two basic classifications: the “butch” and the “fam”.  The former refers to a manly lesbian; the latter to a very feminine lesbian.

A lot of people, especially in pre-dominantly Christian countries, still are unable to comprehend and accept the existence of these “different” people.  People still tend to see the FSMs as either people who are simply confused and can still be “cured” through medication, psychiatric sessions, or pray-overs, or as people who are abnormal and should either be ignored or eradicated.  Either way, it does not address the simple and basic truth: these people exist and, as most medical and psychological experts now are convinced, are just as normal and completely functional as any other straight men and women.

It is then a first step for society to learn more and understand the underlying factors which led to the existence and development of these people.  It must also be understood that in the viewing of human development, evolution should not just be seen in the biological perspective, but also in the emotional and psychological ones.  Like in any other issue, especially in the issues of discrimination, educating the people from all walks of life is a first logical step to stop misconceptions and bigotry.  And what more logical first step to take than to actually learn the most basic definition of these “different” genders.