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Craving sweets

Posted on 22 March 2019 No comments

Having a sweet tooth can be both a blessing and a curse. A curse because of the usual results of overindulging in sweets – excessive weight gain or worse, diabetes. We need not overemphasize what everyone should already know, that everything, including or especially, eating sweets, should be done in moderation.

But a craving for sweets could also lead one to whip up dishes to satisfy the palate. When there is a health issue that has to be considered, coming up with the right quantity or alternative to sugar, could also result in a healthier treat, one not prescribed by standard menus.

Below is a list of recipes compiled by Rodelia Pedro Villar, better known as “Lovely” in the online group she founded, Domestic Workers Corner, which are bound to satisfy any sweets lover. Yummy as they are, Rodelia has purposely gone easy on the sugar for healthier results, although no one is the wiser for this. She’d like to think a dessert by any other recipe should stay as sweet.

Homemade Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

3 tbps butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar,
4 slices pineapples (from can, drained)
5 maraschino cherries
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the butter in baking pan and set it over low heat to melt.
3. When melted, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter.
4. Arrange the pineapple rings in a single layer on top of the sugar.
5. Cut the maraschino cherries in half, and place one half, cut-side up, in the center of each pineapple ring. Set the pan aside.
6. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, then sift once more. Set aside.
7. Using an electric mixer, mix together the shortening, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir only enough after each addition to combine.
8. Pour the batter carefully into the pineapple-lined baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.
9. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center or pressing the cake lightly with a fingertip; if the impression springs back, the cake is done.
10. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and place a serving dish on top. Invert the cake onto the serving dish. Leave the pan over the cake for several moments to allow the syrup to soak into the cake.

Homemade Leche Flan

10 pcs raw eggs
1 small can condensed milk
1 cup fresh milk (or evaporated milk)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

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1. Break open each egg, then separate the yolk from the egg white (only egg yolks will be used)
2. Place all the egg yolks in a big bowl then beat using a fork or an egg beater
3. Add the condensed milk and mix thoroughly
4. Pour in the fresh milk and vanilla. Mix well
5. Put the mold (llanera) on top of the stove and heat using low fire
6. Sprinkle the granulated sugar onto the mold and mix thoroughly until the solid sugar turns to liquid (caramel) and becomes light brown in color.
7. Spread the liquefied sugar evenly on the flat side of the mold
8. Wait for 5 minutes, then pour the egg yolk and milk mixture onto the mold
9. Cover the top of the mold using an aluminum foil
10. Steam the mold with the egg and milk mixture for 30 to 35 minutes.
11. After steaming, allow the flan to cool down then refrigerate
12. Serve as dessert

Puto ala Goldilocks

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp butter or margarine (softened)
1 ½ cup water
1 egg

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1. Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
2. Mix wet ingredients
3. Combine dry and wet mixture and mix well
4. Pour into molds then steam for 10 minutes over low fire.

Filipino coconut macaroons

1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
2 cups desiccated coconuts

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1. In a bowl, cream butter using a hand mixer on low speed. Add sugar and beat together until well blended and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one at a time, beating continuously.
3. Add condensed milk and vanilla extract and continue to beat until everything is all blended.
4. In a medium bowl, combine flour and desiccated coconut. Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.
5. Scoop into paper-lined mini muffin pans and bake in a 200F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden in color.
6. Let cool for about 5 minutes then serve.


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OFW leads all-Pinay rugby team

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Khaz Brizuela takes a selfie as her fellow players limber up.

By Ellen Asis

Like most Filipino migrant women, Khaz Brizuela chose to work in Hong Kong to give a better future for her children. But her work here also gave her an opportunity to improve herself, and discover a passion for rugby, a game not familiar to most Filipinos

In the Philippines, the term rugby is often associated with the chemical solvent that is used as an adhesive, but is often inhaled by drug addicts to give them a quick fix. Thus, whenever Khaz mentions rugby, some of her Filipino friends are bound to joke about its addictive effect.

But the jokes don’t bother Khaz, who now captains Exiles Rugby, a team entirely made up of female domestic workers from the Philippines. She has found fulfillment in the sport, and cannot imagine herself doing anything as intensely in her spare time.

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The group was formed on Mar 7, 2016, when Tom Walsh, a professional coach from Hong Kong Rugby Union, encouraged nine Filipino domestic workers who volunteer as ambassadors for Enrich, a non-government organization that provides financial education to migrants, to form a team.

Among them was Khaz, who threw herself into the game wholeheartedly that in no time, she became the team captain, and now also plays coach to the girls sometimes.

Exiles Rugby currently has 66 very dedicated members (including 42 who joined only in July last year) who train hard every Sunday, and do not mind the grueling demands of the contact sport.

The all-Filipina rugby team take a break from their grueling practice rounds for a photo.

The team intends to reach out and encourage more migrant women to play rugby and join different friendly tournaments across Hong Kong. This way, it can help integrate migrants into Hong Kong society and provide them with a recreational activity that will help them develop lifelong skills and values like cooperation and teamwork.

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For Khaz, the past three years playing rugby taught her to keep her eye on her goals, no matter how distant they may seem. She has learned that there may be bumps along the way, but one has to choose whether to step back, or go head-to-head with the task and emerge bruised yet victorious.

She says the game also taught her that sometimes, admitting defeat is the bravest thing to do because with that admission one can drop the shield of pretense and find the courage to face reality and reach out.

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“Each Sunday makes me more eager to help them (members) with the help of my co-captains now, Myra (Tapiceria)  and Celine (Tomugdan), who stepped up after a coaching course last May at Hong Kong Rugby Union in Causeway Bay,” says Khaz.

To date, the Rugby Exiles has played in various tournaments, with the most recent being the All Girls Beach Festival held last Jan. 13 in Discovery Bay. But the biggest event they have joined was the Hong Kong Corporate Sevens held in December last year.

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Khaz relates that their Sundays are called “Rugby Day” which they spend not just as a team, but as family.

“We laugh, we have fun as we love being with each other,” she says. “So many people (in Hong Kong) think that maids cannot do what ordinary people can do or achieve.”

 By just embracing the sport, Khaz and her team have proven these naysayers wrong.


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How to calculate your benefits

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By Cynthia Tellez

This is the monthly column from the Mission for Migrant Workers, an institution that has been serving the needs of migrant workers in Hong Kong for over 31 years. The Mission, headed by its general manager, Cynthia Tellez, assists migrant workers who are in distress, and  focuses its efforts on crisis intervention and prevention through migrant empowerment. Mission has its offices at St John’s Cathedral on Garden Road, Central, and may be reached through tel. 2522 8264.

Mathematics is seldom a favorite subject of Filipinos. But what we often overlook is that this part of our everyday life. Words like percentage, pro-rata, formula, etc tend to put many of us on guard because they sound far more difficult than the basic arithmetic of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

But to many of us here, especially migrant domestic workers, there is a need to relearn these mathematical skills because we need them in computing wages, benefits, loans, personal insurance, investments, savings, name it, they all require these. So instead of hating these computing skills, we should start reviewing what we learned from our high school and college math subjects and focus on those that are applicable to our present condition. Love it, practice it, live it.

One of the most common words that you will see in the provisions regarding salaries and more so with regards to workers benefits is the word “pro-rata”. This means “in proportion of”, or of determining a proportionate allocation to parts of a whole. It is used when determining the number of days one is entitled to, for example, on the number of annual leave days.

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Let us take a look at Annual Leave Pay as an example. A worker is entitled to this pay depending on the number of years he or she has continuously worked with an employer. This entitlement is based on the contract (Employment Ordinance Cap 57). Obviously, annual leave pay is earned every year. But we have to know that to be legally entitled to this pay, a worker must have worked continuously to have worked for an employer for no less than three months. Thus, if you are on a two-year contract and the said contract is prematurely-terminated after two months or even two and a half months, you are still not entitled to annual leave pay. But say you have worked for nine (9) months and the employment contract is terminated for whatever reason, you are entitled to a pro rata annual leave pay. So if in your first year of employment you are entitled to seven days of paid annual leave, you will have to compute how many days then you are entitled for 8 months:

- divide 9 months by 12 months and multiply the result by 7days: you get the number of days of annual leave pay that you are entitled to. Then you multiply that with your daily wage.

To illustrate:
9 months /  12 months =  .75 days  x  7days = 5.25 days x $148.60 = $780.15

We then go look into how much should be your daily wage.

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In many instances, the computation that employers follow, as taught by placement agencies, is to simply divide the monthly wage by either 30 days or 31 days or 28 days depending on how many days there are in the month you are claiming pay for. For example, you are claiming for unpaid statutory holiday for January 1st, when your employer asked you not to go out and help prepare for a New Year’s party. Your tendency is to divide your monthly wage by 31 (as there are 31 days in January). That is wrong. The contract of migrant domestic workers (or foreign domestic helpers) is a month-by -month contract for a maximum of two years and therefore if you are a migrant domestic worker, you are a monthly wager.  You are not a daily wager.

Daily wage of a monthly wager therefore is computed this way:
- multiply your monthly wage by 12 to get one year’s total wage and divide it by 365 days to get your day’s wage.

To illustrate: HK$4,520  x  12months = HK$ 54,240  /  365 days  =  HK$148.60

This computation should be followed. You have to insist on this formula.

This brings us to another computation that is usually a concern of those who have worked in a continuous contract, meaning with the same employer, for more than five years and the employer terminates the contract or the employer refuses to sign a new contract. This is the Long Service Pay (LSP).

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Take note that the only time you are entitled to LSP is when it is the employer who terminates the contract that has run for 5 years or more, unless you have a medical certificate stating that you are “UNFIT to work” or that you have reached 65 years of age, the legal retirement age in Hong Kong.

The computation for LSP also depends on your last month’s salary:

Get the two-thirds of that last month’s salary by multiplying the salary by two and divide the result by three. The answer is the equivalent of 2/3 of your monthly salary. Multiply that by the number of years of service with the employer. If you have worked for six years, multiply the answer by 6.

To illustrate:
    HK$4,520 x 2 / 3 =           $ 3,013.33    x                                     6 years = HK$18,080
(Monthly Wage)           (2/3 of a Month’s Wage)     (Your LSP for Six Years)

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If you have worked, for example, for six years and seven months, first, do the pro rata computation of the seven months’ equivalent in a year.
- 12-month is equal to one year; 
- 7-month divided by 12-month equals .58 year
So 6 years +.58 year = 6.58 years
HK$ 4,520   x   2/3 =             $3,013.33 x                        6.58 =  HK$19,828
(Monthly Wage) (2/3 of a Month’s Wage)   (Your LSP for Six Years & 7 Months)

The same computation is applied to Severance Payment. The same requirements apply, that it is the employer who terminated the contract and is not anymore hiring anyone to do the same job that you do. If you have worked for them for two years or more, then you are entitled to severance pay. The same computation as above applies.

For any clarifications, you may call 2522-8264 or visit the Mission For Migrant Workers, an outreach ministry of St. John’s Cathedral, at 4-8 garden Road, Central, Hong Kong.

It pays to know your rights and responsibilities.


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PCG to meet Filcom end of Mar on preps for overseas voting

Posted on 21 March 2019 No comments
Photo from 2016 presidential ballot in Bayanihan

By Vir B. Lumicao

The Consulate plans to meet with Filipino community leaders on Mar 31 on preparations  for the month-long overseas voting for the Philippine midterm elections starting on Apr 13, a PCG officer said.

Consul Robert Quintin, who is in charge of holding of the elections for the more than 87,000 registered Filipino voters in Hong Kong, told The SUN that the meeting will coincide with the training of volunteers for the Special Board of Election Inspectors.

All but two of the 18 volunteers for the nine SBEIs that will be set up for the elections have been selected as of this writing. Each SBEI will have two members from the community and be led by a Consulate staff.
Most of the SBEI volunteers, who are all Filipino residents of Hong Kong, had served in the previous election, Quintin said. 

Quintin said trainers from the Commission on Elections are expected to arrive in the next few days along with the computerized vote-counting machines similar to those deployed in the 2016 national elections.

“We will be definitely meeting with the community but we cannot do that yet,” Quintin said, adding that Comelec has started sending out its trainers to various OFW destinations and those assigned to Hong Kong should be arriving soon.
He also said there are some administrative preparations they still have to complete.

Voting will start at 9am on Saturday, Apr 13, at the Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town and will close at 6pm on May 13. Latecomers who are within 30 meters of the polling precincts will still be allowed to vote.

About 50% of the 87,441 overseas voters registered in Hong Kong are expected to turn out to elect 12 new members of the Senate and one party-list representative.
Quintin said the next two weeks will be very busy for the Consulate as preparations will have to be crammed into a short period.

These will include installing and testing the vote-counting machines as well as securing the boxes of ballots that will be kept at Bayanihan.
Quintin said the canvassing of votes from Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China will be consolidated in Bayanihan as in the 2016 elections.


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