64 cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Sixty four cities from 44 countries have been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities by Director-General, Irina Bokova. They join a Network at the frontline of UNESCO’s efforts to foster innovation and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development. This network attracts growing interest from local authorities.
“These new designations showcase an enhanced diversity in city profiles and geographical balance, with 19 cities from countries not previously represented in the Network” declared the Director-General. She added, “The cooperation framework proposed to foster candidate cities from the Africa region – a UNESCO Global Priority – has been a true success with 9 African cities now joining the Network.”
The new 64 UNESCO Creative Cities are:
Alba (Italy) – Gastronomy
Almaty (Kazakhstan) – Music
Amarante (Portugal) – Music
Auckland (New Zealand) – Music
Baguio City (Philippines) – Crafts and Folk Art
Barcelos (Portugal) – Crafts and Folk Art
Braga (Portugal) – Media Arts
Brasilia (Brazil) – Design
Bristol (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – Film
Brno (Czechia) – Music
Bucheon (Republic of Korea) – Literature
Buenaventura (Colombia) – Gastronomy
Cairo (Egypt) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cape Town (South Africa) – Design
Carrara (Italy) – Crafts and Folk Art
Changsha (China) – Media Arts
Chennai (India) – Music
Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Crafts and Folk Art
Chordeleg (Ecuador) – Crafts and Folk Art
Cochabamba (Bolivia [Plurinational State of]) – Gastronomy
Daegu Metropolitan City (Republic of Korea) – Music
Dubai (United Arab Emirates) – Design
Durban (South Africa) – Literature
Frutillar (Chile) – Music
Gabrovo (Bulgaria) – Crafts and Folk Art
[City of] Greater Geelong (Australia) – Design
Guadalajara (Mexico) – Media Arts
Hatay Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey) – Gastronomy
Istanbul (Turkey) – Design
João Pessoa (Brazil) – Crafts and Folk Art
Kansas City (United States of America) – Music
Kolding (Denmark) – Design
Kortrijk (Belgium) – Design
Košice (Slovakia) – Media Arts
Kütahya (Turkey) – Crafts and Folk Art
Lillehammer (Norway) – Literature
Limoges (France) – Crafts and Folk Art
Łódź (Poland) – Film
Macao Special Administrative Region, China (Associate Member, UNESCO) – Gastronomy
Madaba (Jordan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Manchester (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – Literature
Mexico City (Mexico) – Design
Milan (Italy) – Literature
Morelia (Mexico) – Music
Norrköping (Sweden) – Music
Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) – Crafts and Folk Art
Panama City (Panama) – Gastronomy
Paraty (Brazil) – Gastronomy
Pesaro (Italy) – Music
Porto-Novo (Benin) – Crafts and Folk Art
Praia (Cabo Verde) – Music
Qingdao (China) – Film
Québec City (Canada) – Literature
San Antonio (United States of America) – Gastronomy
Seattle (United States of America) – Literature
Sheki (Azerbaijan) – Crafts and Folk Art
Sokodé (Togo) – Crafts and Folk Art
Terrassa (Spain) – Film
Tétouan (Morocco) – Crafts and Folk Art
Toronto (Canada) – Media Arts
Tunis (Tunisia) – Crafts and Folk Art
Utrecht (Netherlands) – Literature
Wuhan (China) – Design
Yamagata City (Japan) – Film
Since 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network highlights its members’ creativity within seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. It now counts a total of 180 cities in 72 countries.
While differing geographically, demographically or economically, all Creative Cities commit to develop and exchange innovative best practices to promote creative industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and integrate culture into sustainable urban development policies.
Within the framework of the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, the Network provides a platform for cities to demonstrate culture’s role as an enabler for building sustainable cities.
The next Annual Meeting of the Creative Cities Network is scheduled to take place in Krakow and Katowice (Poland) in June 2018. –UNESCO

She cooked for royalty and socialites including a future US president

On a recent summer day, Jossie Reyas, 77, sat on a bench outside a small food pantry in Woodside, Queens waiting her turn to get cans of beans, fruit, soup and vegetables.
Reyas, wearing frayed slippers and a faded floral blouse, was quiet and soft-spoken, but when asked about her life, she spun a tale of cooking for New York socialites, including a European countess and a future president of the United States.
She still keeps signed post-it notes, checks, menus, pictures and holiday cards from all of her employers. She keeps them in a plastic tote bag along with her flip phone and paper napkins.
One Christmas card, with cartoon angels and musical notes scattered across the front, reads: “Dear Josie, Thank you for your help this year. You do a great job and we certainly appreciate having you with us. Warm wishes for 1990! Mr. Mrs. Trump and Christopher.”
Born in the Philippines, Reyas was the oldest of eight children: three boys and five girls. In 1970, she studied business administration at Manila’s University of the East before moving to Madrid with her sisters. There she worked at the Denmark, Mexico and Uruguayan embassies.
The Countess of Romanones, Spain just happened to live across the street from the Uruguayan Embassy. One day the Countess recognized Reyas as a Filipina and asked if she would cook for her.
“Europeans love chicken adobo,” Reyas whispered.
It was there she heard of her father’s sudden death. Her parents were en route to the United States when he suffered a heart attack at the airport. Her mother handled the funeral arrangements before moving to America months later.
In 1986, Reyas’s mother summoned her to New York City saying, “it is time,” as the rest of her siblings had already moved. Reyas, in her mid-forties, dutifully obeyed.

In 1987, the Countess asked Reyas to cook for a private party she was hosting in New York. Reyas’s cooking, attention to detail and dedication to decoration garnered praise from the wealthy guests.
Soon, Reyas said, her services were requested by socialites such as Blaine Trump, Nancy Reagan, Mark Thatcher, Lally Weymouth, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Susan Hess, Betsy Bloomingdale and Vera Wang, among others.
Reyas even lived with Robert and Blaine Trump at Trump Plaza for six months during the construction of the Trump Taj Mahal in 1989. Robert’s older brother, Donald, and his family were frequent visitors.
“They are nice. Even Donald, even the children of Donald – simple,” Reyas said. “I don’t know why many people don’t like him.”
Several employers asked Reyas to move with them, but she declined every offer that would permanently take her away from Manhattan.
“I came here because of my mother. Why would I leave her?” Reyas said.
Reyas’s mother died in her Manhattan home in 1994, but Reyas doesn’t want to move back to the Philippines like her siblings. She hasn’t been back since 1975.
“They all go home when they get married because they have business in the Philippines,” Reyas said. “I did not get married. I stay here, that’s why. If I [got] married, [had] children and a family, then I [would have gone] home also.”
These days, Reyas says, she makes a meager living as a decorator, working only for select employers of her choosing.
“No more cooking,” Reyas said smiling. “ I cannot cook anymore. I’m old.”

Geisler's brother issues apology for QC incident

The brother of actor Baron Geisler has issued an apology for the incident on Monday evening in a resto-bar in Quezon City, according to the report of GMA News' Sandra Aguinaldo on "24 Oras."
"As family we would like to apologize for what's happening," said Donald David Geisler.
"Pero rest assured we will deal with this matter to get things right," he added.
The actor was charged with unjust vexation and alarm and scandal in inquest proceedings before the Quezon City Prosecutor's office on Tuesday for causing trouble in the resto-bar.
The actor had several skirmishes with the law in the past.
Baron Geisler figured in a vehicular accident in 2005 after he allegedly took the wheel from his driver while he was drunk, and was charged for acts of lasciviousness in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
In 2012, he was detained after allegedly punching a neighbor. Last year, he was removed from a movie and boycotted by the the Professional Artist Managers Inc. for urinating on actor Ping Medina during a movie shoot. — GMA News

Woody Allen reveals he only gets $35 allowance every 2 weeks

Woody Allen —Ruben V. Nepales
(First of two parts)
LOS ANGELES—One of the world’s greatest filmmakers only gets $35 allowance—not every week, but every two weeks—from his wife.
Woody Allen disclosed that—with glee, we should stress—when he gamely answered who’s the boss in his house. Is it him or his wife, Soon-Yi Previn?

“In my case, it’s unequivocally my wife,” began Woody, in one of his favorite attires—his frayed, old green sweater, checkered shirt, brown pants and shoes—at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park. Needless to say, our talk was peppered with constant laughter, in reaction to this cinematic genius’ witty quips.
The only somber moment came when we discussed the Harvey Weinstein sexual allegations.
“My wife has a very domineering, strong personality,” the quintessential New Yorker said. “She’s hypercompetent and I’m hyperincompetent. I can’t work the television set without calling her into the room. So, she clearly handles the money and runs the house.
“I get a small allowance, $35, every couple of weeks. I have in my pocket now what’s left of it. She’s the one who calls all the shots—and I’m fine with that.”
We couldn’t get over the fact that we get more allowance than this legendary auteur whose latest film, “Wonder Wheel,” stars Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Jim Belushi and Juno Temple (all very good). Well, by five dollars. We get 20 dollars a week, at least—not every two weeks.
Does he spend his allowance on the Yankees, of which he’s a fan? “I can’t afford the Yankees on my allowance,” Woody replied. He smiled as he said, “What I do with my allowance is, I leave my pants on the stool in the bathroom. I notice that my kids, on the way to school, occasionally come and take a five or a 10 (dollar bill). It gives me a thrill that they’re taking it.
“Then, I say to my wife, ‘I need money. I have to take a cab, or I have to tip a maître d’.’ But, I really let the kids gyp the money out of my pocket.”
We got curious about how his home looks like, as a result. Is it filled with whatever he collects?

“I’m not a collector at all,” came the quick answer. “I have no mementos of my work. There are no pictures of me with Kate Winslet or anyone. I don’t have programs from the theater or still shots from my movies. I just feel that once a movie is over, it’s gone.”
Woody stressed, “It’s not that I deliberately don’t have them. I was never interested in them. There are no traces (of my work). Someone once came over to my house, doing an interview with me and said, ‘You would never know what he did. It’s like the home of a literate lawyer.
“I don’t have DVDs of my movies. I wouldn’t know how to play them anyhow. In the library, there’s probably a copy of one or two of my books. It’s from apathy. I don’t look at my films, so I don’t need them. I don’t read my books, certainly.
“I’m giving my best shot all the time and if the public enjoys my film, I am thrilled. If they don’t, there’s nothing I can do.
“They have asked me at times to go on panels with Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts, where they would show ‘Annie Hall,’ and we would discuss it. I didn’t go because I don’t like living in the past all the time. You’re always talking about a film [made] 50 years ago and telling anecdotes about it.”
This Manhattanite who moonlights as a jazz clarinetist shared, “Another person writing about an interview with me wrote this sentence, ‘There are no great Woody Allen stories.’ I’m just not into any of that. I am interested in the Knicks, the Yankees, my clarinet, kids, wife…”
We begged to disagree about there being no great Woody Allen stories, of course. With his quotable answers and asides, Woody can inspire a thousand and one stories.
The bespectacled Brooklyn native quipped on the biggest misconception about him: “Probably that I am an intellectual. They think I’m an intellectual because I wear these glasses and that I am an artist because my films lose money. At home, I’m not upstairs with a book on Danish philosophy. It’s a great image, but it’s not me. That’s a misconception.
“And also, that I am a workaholic. They think all I do is work, but I don’t. I spend a lot of time fiddling with my clarinet, watching sports on television and taking walks with my wife. If anything, I’d say I’m lazy.”
For a lazy man, this 81-year-old has been prolific. He averages one new film each year. Last year, in addition to the film, “Café Society,” he also cranked out his first-ever TV series, “Crisis in Six Scenes.”
“Wonder Wheel,” his film this year, is an engrossing drama set in Coney Island in the 1950s that evokes the world of Blanche DuBois and Tennessee Williams.
Kate plays Ginny, a waitress who was once an actress; Justin is Mickey, a lifeguard who aspires to be a playwright; Jim is Ginny’s husband, Humpty, whom she resents; and Juno is Humpty’s daughter who’s being hunted by the mob.
Woody emphasized that “Wonder Wheel” isn’t his paean to Williams or “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “No, because I never do homage,” he asserted. “But everything I write, if it isn’t comedy, always has some ties to Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill. I see that all the time cropping up in my work.
“They say that the writer is every character in the story. I am a protective father, and I have a loving relationship with my two daughters. I can see myself as Justin’s character because I’m a writer who’d like to write like (August) Strindberg or O’Neill, but can’t.
“I can see myself as Kate’s character, always thinking that the next love affair or thing will turn my life around magically. But it doesn’t. Soon-Yi and I married 20 years ago. These have been the best 20 years of my life because of that. But I am all of those characters, for sure.”
(Conclusion on Sunday)
E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.

A privileged friendship

Subject Washington SyCip and biographer Butch Dalisay in 2015

The last time I saw Wash SyCip was from a far distance. It was his 95th birthday on June 30, 2016, and a long line of well-wishers — businessmen, politicians, and other celebrities — had queued up at the ballroom of the Shangri-La Makati to greet him and have their pictures taken with the icon. I thought for a second about falling in line, just to say hello, but then decided against it, already having spent more time with Wash than most people except his closest associates. He looked more frail than I had ever seen him, even as he kept up a cordial countenance seated in his chair on a raised dais, and I felt content to remember the sprightlier octogenarian I had first met a decade earlier.

Of course I knew who Washington SyCip was well before then; my wife Beng worked as an artist in the communications department of SGV in the 1980s, but I had never met the man himself — not until an opportunity arose to bid for and to write his biography in early 2006, when he was turning 85. I felt very fortunate to have been chosen for the job — and that’s what it was to me then, a job, albeit one involving an illustrious subject. I had no inkling that I was about to enter into a privileged friendship, something that would extend well beyond the writing of a book.


I had already done books for and about other personages in politics and business, and would do many more after Wash. But none of them — meaning no disrespect to or disregard for my other clients — would come close to the biography I would write for Wash, and it had everything to do with the uniqueness of the man, who lived not only an extraordinarily long life but also one far more colorful than you would credit an accountant for.

For months, we met Saturday mornings in his seventh-floor SGV office, and chatted for a couple of hours about phases of his life, proceeding chronologically from his childhood to the key decision to open his own accounting firm, a moment that I would later decide to open the book with. (Wash: Only a Bookkeeper was published in 2009 by the SGV Foundation and the Asian Institute of Management, and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2010.) Immediately I felt at ease with his polite formality; no artificial chumminess there or dramatic flourish, just a quiet consistency of well-remembered detail, everything from trying to learn the foxtrot for a graduation dance and breaking Japanese codes in Calcutta to carrying a cold, dressed duck under his arm on the New York subway to bring to a lady friend.

Most readers, I’m sure, were looking for the grand contours, the big business decisions — and there’s all that in the book — but I tried to keep things homely, and was glad that Wash was game for it. He liked to play Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago on his iPod — but not being a techie, often forgot to recharge it.

My last message from Wash

When he learned that I collected pens, he sent a bunch of them over to my house; I opened the box and saw that he had gifted me with some very nice ballpoints, which I thanked him for. When a perceptive associate gently reminded him that I collected not ball pens but fountain pens, he sent another box of the correct writing instruments — CEOs like him typically received scores of these as gifts and stored them away in drawers — with an apologetic note, even more graciously acknowledged by the ecstatic recipient. And every Christmas we would receive a box filled with some lovely piece of décor handcrafted by a microenterprise he supported in Cebu. 

He had a soft spot for Filipino talent of all kinds. He once hosted a party at his home for President Cory Aquino, some ambassadors, and similarly lofty people. After dinner, he sprung a surprise on them. “Just get into your cars and follow me!” he announced with a twinkle in his eye. He led the convoy to a dimly downscale stretch of Boni Avenue, down into the happy maw of Club Mwah, the gay musical revue. Cory had a blast, and I had fun watching Wash garlanded by that feathery parade.

Sometimes I dropped by his office or chatted with him in the corner of a soirée to hear him share his views on current goings-on, both of us probably thinking that they would be useful inputs to the centennial update of his biography, but really just to catch up. It was these unscripted asides, his inviting trust, that I felt most privileged by. I suppose biographers come in through some special door, and with Wash, that door always seemed open.

Last July I received an envelope from Wash, and even without opening it I could feel that it contained a pen inside. “Dear Butch,” said the accompanying note, “This is the only pen that I have come across which may be new to your library. Just note the owl at the head of the pen. Sincerely, Wash.” It was a ballpoint, but I didn’t mind — owls (and turtles) were his trademark avatars.

His generosity was well known, but it was never the showy or sentimental kind. He believed above all in the capability of the poor to learn and to lift themselves up with a little help. Despite the American citizenship he had to accept in a time of war, he thought and acted as a true global Filipino.

When he passed away last week on a plane above the Pacific — bridging the two shores he knew best, and still on the job at 96 — I was requested to draft an obituary, and I replied, choking, that it was going to be my honor. It was the first — and, almost certainly, the only — time I would shed a tear for someone I wrote about.

* * *

Email me at //This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./" style="color: rgb(0, 113, 179); text-decoration: none;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit my blog at www.penmanila.ph.

Do androids dream of unexpected sequels?

BLADE RUNNER 2049. Ryan Gosling is Officer K in 'Blade Runner 2049.' Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures 

MANILA, Philippines – Halfway into our screening of Blade Runner 2049, an impatient mumble rose from audience members in the theater. We were watching Officer K (played by Ryan Gosling) stalk through the bombed-out remains of Las Vegas. It’s easily one of the most memorable set pieces in the film, those giant collapsed statues resembling the victims of a nuclear Vesuvius.

Most of the audience had probably seen the posters, watched the trailers, and expected an action-adventure flick. And if this were that kind of movie, we’d already be building up to the third act, where the hero kicks the villain’s ass and saves the world. We’d have explosions. We’d get a heroic shot of the hero looking pretty heroic. 

But this isn’t an action-adventure flick. This is Blade Runner 2049. It’s somewhat reassuring to know that the sequel continues the original’s tradition of confounding audiences.


Blade Runner 2049 is an art film masquerading as a neo-noir cyberpunk drama. Its almost-3 hour run time and glacial pacing gives you just enough time to take in the derelict grandeur of its cinematography and set design. Director Denis Villeneuve’s film is remarkable not just for being made, but for being so well-made.

While the tech is more advanced here, the movie never sacrifices style and atmosphere for efficiency. Replicants, bioengineered humans, are squished out of a birthing chute (compare it with Westworld’s antiseptic 3D-printed hosts). Computer displays flicker and stutter. San Diego is a giant landfill with an orphanage. Traffic congestion still hasn’t been fixed. (Will it ever?)

Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures

Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures 

The story itself is set 30 years after the first Blade Runner ended. The Tyrell Corporation, the original manufacturer of replicants, was bought out by the Wallace Corporation. The iconic pyramid is still here, and this time we get to see more of the interior, which is equal parts Edward Hopper and Giza.

While Eldon Tyrell had the pragmatic demeanor of a businessman, Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto) indulges his god-like aspirations. Wallace’s Nexus-8 “angels” are fully subservient, and possess none of the aggressive self-preservation instincts that Tyrell’s replicants had. 

Officer K is a blade runner, a special agent working under the Los Angeles Police Department and tasked with tracking and executing rogue early-model replicants. K is a replicant himself, but the job gives him none (at least not initially) of the misgivings and trepidation that haunted Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard in the first movie.

In one of the more poignant scenes in the movie, K and his holographic, store-bought love interest Joi engage in some pantomime-domesticity. It’s easy to dismiss this strange couple, the skinjob and the program skin, for playing house. But how different are they from supposedly “real” people, really? 

Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures

Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures 

While working a case, K discovers a box buried in the farm of fugitive replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). And as one would expect from a box found buried in a farm, the contents are mysterious. K sets out to find the only person who could make sense of it all: Rick Deckard. 

Harrison Ford is pop culture’s beloved grumpy uncle. At this point in his career, he has little, if any, fucks to give. It’s an attitude that works well while playing Deckard. Deckard has neither the charm of Han Solo nor the thirst for adventure of Indiana Jones. Deck just wants to be left alone in his slightly radioactive Las Vegas man-cave (or man-casino, as it turns out).

Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures

Screengrab from YouTube/Warner Bros Pictures 

The sequel enters a pop culture landscape where artificial life has been gradually edging out zombies as TV and cinema’s unlife of choice. The original Blade Runnerhad few peers when it was released in 1982. But today we have Westworld, Ex Machina, the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation, and many others.

While many of those shows were preoccupied with asking Who am I? Blade Runner 2049 flips the trope on its head by instead asking Who am I not? And also, What the hell am I supposed to do now? I can’t get into more detail without spilling some major spoilers, but there are enough existential quandaries here to satisfy Kafka (and probably Pinocchio) fans.

Photo from Warner Bros Pictures

Photo from Warner Bros Pictures 

Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t provide a whole lot of answers. But anyone brave and patient enough to wander through its byzantine passages will find no shortage of questions worth pondering.  – Rappler.com

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