Thursday, April 30, 2009

Follow Our Blog to A Musical Rainbow Treat!

Thanks for tuning to 'The Living Room' on 938LIVE
and for following our special series with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO)
for all the Thursdays in April.


Stand to win one of THREE Family Packages to:


The Musical Rainbow – Young Children’s Concert
Sun, 10th May, 5pm
SCO Concert Hall
7, Shenton Way

All you have to do is to sign up as a Follower of The Living Room Blog!

Click on the icon on the left of this entry that says 'Follow' and follow the simple instructions.

The first 3 new followers to the blog will be contacted soon!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

US$5K Burger Shocker!

A Mediterannean cruise, exquisite jewellery, designer wear - luxuries that people wouldn't bat an eyelid if you paid S$7,500 for any of them. But would you be willing to pay that same price for a burger? Given that they're not exactly gold crusted sesame-seed buns with gold bar patties, you just have very expensive ingredients going into the burger. Plus, it's paired with a bottle of French vintage wine that dates back to 1990.

Never have I heard of a fine-dining burger meal until now! Well okay, we did have Uber Burger - Singapore's first (and last) gourmet burger restaurant and bar formerly at Millenia Walk. It closed just over two years ago despite the hype surrounding it's premium wagyu beef burger with a S$101 price tag. Now that I've met the chef behind a S$7,500 burger meal, a hundred bucks is pittance for my favourite 'bun-wich'!

According to Master Chef Laurent Pillard of Burger Bar fame in Las Vegas, the ingredients used for this ostentatious burger are:
Kobe beef with foie gras and black truffles, served with fries and potatoes cooked in olive oil with herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary and garlic. Plus truffle jus and pink and black salt from Hawaii.


I told myself that I had to make it down to the media tasting of Chef Laurent's spread. This burger that would wipe out two to three months of the average worker's wages intrigued me. So off I sped to The Prime Society - the host restaurant for Chef Laurent during his participation in this year's World Gourmet Summit.

I admit I was disappointed the burger that had made headlines wasn't making my dinner table! Otherwise, I would have given you an informed review on whether the price was reasonable (FAR FROM IT!), worth paying for (NEVER EVEN IF I WAS AT THE BRINK OF DEATH FROM STARVATION!) or way under-priced ("IS THIS THE GATE TO HEAVEN?").

Would Chef Laurent pay US$5,000 for the baffling burger? He leaned back in his seat, folded his arms and half whispered a 'no'. Enough said. But those burgers are still moving at Burger Bar (though not the fastest-selling of what's on the menu, where you have the option of 'building' your own burger).

He tells me his restaurant also serves milkshakes where you can choose to blend in gummies, marshmellows and other sweet delights!

But what captured my attention were the sweet burgers on the menu which I thought were real novel and instead of scribbling down what they served up there, here's a photo of that portion of the menu Chef Laurent had brought along with him.

For all its casinos, Las Vegas was never an attraction for me until I laid eyes on the menu of Burger Bar! The price of a sweet burger? Sweet! So sweet your dentist would love you!

* * *

In town for the World Gourmet Summit, Chef Laurent Pillard presents
an Epicurean Delights menu at
The Prime Society till 1st May.
Call 6474-7427 for reservations.
(Selected photos of his dishes are presented below)









Friday, April 24, 2009

Fish Food from Celebrity Chef Atul Kochhar

Unless you are a food critic, not many people have the privilege of eating on the job. But I decided it was feeding time right there in The Living Room in the midst of today's chat. I can't imagine our guest taking offence at Pam and I tucking in to glorious Indian food that he'd painstakingly brought into our Living Room. Say hello to Celebrity Chef, Atul Kochhar.

This Michelin-starred chef who's owner of Benares Restaurant & Bar in London, takes credit for being the first Indian chef to take his place in the galaxy of master chefs from around the world. Being Asian, I'm proud he's up there with the rest and being the face of Indian fare in London where he lives with his family. Atul is a regular face on British TV and when I asked him if there'd be another cause he would champion if it wasn't Indian cuisine, he shot back matter-of-factly, "Indian cricket!"

Contrary to comonly-held notions that chefs don't cook when they're home (since they already do that for a living), Atul reveals he's happy to relief his wife and prepare simple meals for his kids like pizzas and pastas.

Chef Atul's done just about everything. He's set up his own restaurant and has earned his (Michelin) stars; he's a celebrity on British television and has written books on food. I couldn't help but wonder what was next on the cards for him. "Maybe a restaurant in Singapore", he said with a half smile half grin on his face. I don't quite know what to make of his reply and how honest it was, but he was truly one honest chef who's revolutionising the world's perception of Indian cuisine, of which he says there's no single dish that's authentically Indian.

* * *

Congratulations to our listeners who correctly identified the fine-dining restaurant that is serving up the signature dishes of Chef Atul at this year's World Gourmet Summit. The correct answer is 'Rang Mahal'. You've won yourself an autographed copy of Chef Atul's book, Fish Indian Style and will be hearing
from us real soon! Keep your eyes glued to our blog for more giveaways!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

She made us cry with her MCYS commercials...

When I first saw the YouTube clip called Funeral, I had no clue it was a commercial - let alone a Government TVC. It made me laugh, then it made me cry, all within 3 mins. When I realised it was an ad, I was stunned. The sheer art of this!

I was tagged on Facebook a few days later with another MCYS commercial called Family or as it's more popularly known, Red Shoes. Again, it made me cry. How is it possible that two 3-minute commercials could so easily activate my tear ducts?

Well, if you have not seen them, click on the YouTube vids below and check out for yourself:





I had to find out who was behind these moving commercials, and I did. She is criticially-accalimed Malaysian Director, Yasmin Ahmad. Her films Sepek, Gubra, Mukhsin and Muallaf have travelled to film festivals around the world and garnered numerous international awards. In fact, her TVCs for Petronas in her home country of Malaysia has won her a loyal following of fans.

It was her Petronas TVCs that first caught the attention of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who brought it up to MCYS' attention. According to Richard Tan, Director of Communications & International Relations at MCYS - who was our guest today as well - it was PM Lee who wanted Yasmin onboard.

The pursuit was on. When her advertising company did not pitch for the deal, MCYS sent representatives up to KL to approach her directly. In fact, it came to a point where MCYS told all the PR companies pitching to them that whoever could secure Yasmin would secure the deal. It was Yasmin Ahmad or nothing.

She was given full freedom & leeway to choose and direct her stories. In fact, the Red Shoes story was initially rejected by MCYS because it not only featured a single-parent family, it also featured a girl (main protagonist) who was rebellious. But it was precisely this story everyone rejected that Yasmin picked. And MCYS let her.

Our hour with Yasmin this morning is still buzzing within me. She is wise, intelligent, compassionate and inspiring. There is an aura about her, which I find hard to put in words. And if her creative work is an extension of her, then I can understand why they resonate with so many people.

"What tugs at people's heartstrings?" I ask her.

She says as a matter of fact, "True sentiments."

Yasmin Ahmad on the couch with MCYS' Richard Tan who shared the pursuit story of this Director by the Singapore Government.

I wish we had more time with Yasmin. Isn't it true that time flies when you're in the presence of a Giant?

Well, if you'd like to join the 11,000+ people who are already fans of her MCYS clips, visit this Facebook page and join as a member. You can share your own story there as well. Be inspired!

Larger Than Life

Emory Kristof gave the world its first glimpse of the sunken Titanic.

He was the man who discovered the Titanic wreck in 1985, and the first to photograph it and share it with the world. He told National Geographic he needed about a decade to find it, and he found it in 8 years ~ 10 miles off-course from where it was reported to have hit the iceberg and sunk. 

He documented the images into an IMAX film and invited director James Cameron to watch it. The massive bow of the Titanic exploded on the IMAX screen in the opening scene and Cameron was completely blown away. He went on to make an epic movie about the Titanic.   

Well, our guest today is renowned explorer and National Geographic photographer Emory Kristof. Besides the Titanic, this deep sea diver also discovered a whole new deep ocean ecosystem (1977), and went in search of the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. 

Emory looks every bit an explorer to me: Bushy beard, wise eyes, down to his checkered shirt! During our chat, he wanted to put on his headphones because he admits to being a little hard of hearing, which made asking him a question during the break tough because he couldn't hear me. I gestured to him to take it off. 

He did - much to my amusement [pictured, left]. It was tough holding a conversation with a straight face after. So I whipped out my camera and snapped this picture of him!

Well, Emory shared that he, together with Michael Aw (renowned underwater photographer), will be launching an expedition to Antarctica soon, with 5 Singaporean-based members on the international team. 

Even though he's a happily retired photojournalist (after publishing over 40 articles for National Geographic and winning countless awards), Emory is still very much an adventurer at heart. It was indeed an honour to be in the presence of this big, big man. 

In the company of a gentle Giant: Emory Kristof in The Living Room.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taking The Living Room Offsite!

Once in a while, we take The Living Room outdoors. Today was one of those days. Stan and I made our way down to the Regional Language Centre (RELC) at Orange Grove Road to chat with some experts on The Impact of Technology on Language Learning and Teaching: What, How, Why. And it was insightful, to say the least.


Language Learning & Teaching in an Internet Age: We begin our conversation with Eric Barber (UK) and Gavin Dudeney (Spain).

For the past two centuries, language learning and teaching has stayed pretty much unchanged. But in just the last two decades, the explosion of technology has totally revolutionised the language classroom. With the Internet, we can now bring the outside world into the classroom, which opens up a world of possibilities, doesn't it?

Think about it: If you're picking up Italian, French or Japanese, you can now participate in virtual classrooms and communities. You can go online to a site like Second Life, and meet millions of people from around the world! There, in this virtual world, you can interact with real people - in a foreign language - and learn about their culture. More importantly, these interactions are authentic.

In our next conversation, we found out about Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) from Deborah Healey and Lance Knowles [pictured], who has developed award-winning courses for the past 25 years. "The most significant change is that while before, the interaction was very much between computer and persons, interaction these days is between persons - assisted by computers," explains Lance.

Our final conversation touched on foreign language learning and teaching. We explored how a 2nd or 3rd language is picked up, and how that may be different from acquiring a 1st language.

Well, according to Lara Ducate (USA) and Jorg Roche (Germany), it really is not that different! *gasp* The reason why people find it so hard to learn a brand new language is because of the way it's taught.

According to our experts, the right way to teach is through individuals words, then chunking of words, and not through learning the rules and structure first. And always keep it authentic and interactive. Lara even uses weblogs, wikis and podcasts to teach German to her American students!

Learning a foreign language really isn't that tough in the Internet Age,
say experts Jorg Roche and Lara Ducate.

Although it got a bit noisy during the tea break - when a throng of participants streamed out of the auditorium and hovered around us with cups of coffee & tea in hand - I enjoyed the engaging conversations. We had to strain to hear each other at certain points though!

What's good news for a travel bug like me is that picking up more than one new language doesn't seem all that inconceivable in this day & age. With the advancement in technology, and new research on how people acquire language and best practices in teaching, I may just be on my way to pick up Italian and Japanese in time for my next holiday!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Surrounded by Chicks!

Before you get other ideas, I was literally surrounded by chicks (the young of birds) - some barely a few days old and clucking, whose feathers were still growing out from beneath their translucent pink skin. The hatchlings sat in small rattan baskets while the bigger chicks had more hopping room inside their cosy quarters. Most had their own suite while a couple were twin-sharing, but each temporary shelter resembled a big round broiler or deep fryer with a sliding glass door.


This was the Breeding & Research Centre of the Jurong Bird Park, equivalent to the paediatric ward and nursery we humans are mo
re familiar with. Together with 22 listeners, Pamela and I were privileged to set foot into the facility which is off-limits to the general public. This was made possible through an exclusive arrangement we secured with the attraction's management for The Living Room's Feathered Fun Day Out! We wanted something off the beaten track and this was it! In fact, we wouldn't have found the centre had we not closely followed Faith, our perky guide off the footpath, through an inconspicuous opening in a wall of towering shrubs and down a flight of stairs.

Apart from seeing the baby birds in close quarters and even gently handling them, two staff members also demonstrated how they fed their charges a liquid diet from a small syringe or with small tongs with which they'd pick up live worms and drop them into the open beaks of hungry hatchlings. We were also shown the incubators where fertlised eggs were placed and awaiting hatchday. I was secretly hoping we'd see a hatch during our visit, but it wasn't to be. Pity no photography was allowed at the centre, but here are photos that captured our educational trip out to the bird park with our listeners young and old.

Friday, April 17, 2009

CUBE-ical Football

Though they delivered a heart-stopping performance at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, they failed to net a single goal. Despite a stellar outing, they won't be the team to beat at the next World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Yet they share the same deftness and surefootedness as the world's greatest football stars that make news headlines today.

The Living Room caught up with CUBE - a freestyle football dance group whose 12 members are masters of keeping the ball in play as they execute nifty footwork and manoeuvres to the rhythm of drums and the pulse of music. They call Saitama prefecture (just outside of the Japanese capital, Tokyo) their home.

The group (represented by Osam, Indy, Marco and Aki in the photo above) has been a round for five years and this is the first time they're displaying their skills as a team in Singapore. If you miss their live performances, here's a sample of the moves they showed us at our studio.

CUBE's official website: www.cube-mau.jp

video

A Classic Lady

There are so many world-class Singaporean violinists these days that, to be honest, I've lost track. There's Min Lee... there's Kam Ning... and then there's Siow Lee Chin

Being a Classical illiterate, I must admit I hadn't heard of Lee Chin before. But having met her, I know I will not forget her. 

Other than the fact that she has performed in the most prestigious concert halls in the world (including New York's Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall), and has a string of accolades under her belt, what struck me about this classically-trained violinist is that she's really quite a cheeky, quirky girl.  

When Stan reminded listeners (who had signed up for The Living Room's Bird Park outing the next day) to wear comfortable shoes, Lee Chin quips, "I guess I can't join you guys at the Bird Park then. I'm wearing stilettos!" 

And she goes on to show us her sleek black strappies [pictured]. When I cajoled her for a photo to put on our blog, she jokes, "I hope your listeners don't have a foot fetish! Or they'll all turn up for my Master Class and sit in the front row, staring at my feet!" 

And what does this accomplished musician busy herself with when she's not performing or teaching violin at the University of Charleston, South Carolina (where she's currently based)? 

"Gardening," she admits somewhat bashfully. "I know, it's not exactly an activity where I'll get to meet tall, dark and handsome men. Hmm, maybe that's why I haven't met any tall, dark and handsome men!" 

On a more serious note, Lee Chin reveals the deep impact her father had on her. He was a renowned violinist as well, and was her first teacher & mentor at age 7. In many ways, her album Songs My Father Taught Me is a tribute to him. 

Well, Lee Chin will be holding a Master Class on Labour Day. "Labouring on Labour Day?" we tease her. Yes, that's how passionate she is! 

So that's Siow Lee Chin for you. She's not only one beautiful, talented and classy lady, she's also one with a surprisingly wicked sense of humour! 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Way But Subway

If there's a sandwich chain I patron most frequently, it's got to be Subway. Everything from the bread to the sauce and fillings is pure delight, but as it is with sandwiches, it can get pretty messy with things spilling out with each bite. It's funny how I'd just a couple of days ago remarked that there ought to be an eating contest where contestants have to eat a burger or sandwich within a stipulated time frame and the one to do so leaving the least mess wins! Perhaps Subway might want to take up my idea. Pity I failed to share that with our guest in The Living Room today - Raphael Chan, Country Director of Subway.

But this dude sure has his plate full, what with the 66 branches across the island. And before the week's out, it'll be the opening of #67! The way he spoke about having to have regular and unannounced audit checks at the outlets for food and service quality and hygiene reminded me of a school discipline master who needed to make sure all was in order and in conformity with the rules.

Given the limitations of time we could accord him on our show, here are exclusive blog factoids that farther acquaint us with Raphael Chan. I suspect that last bit on 'pet love' was in reference to Pamela and myself!

Fav. Day of the Week
Saturday, as it would be the only time in the week I have time for myself. I drop my son at my in-laws and my wife works. So I'll a choice of spending some time on outstanding work or just laze around or do some DIY work at home.
Fav. Movie
"Malena" because Monica Bellucci is so beautiful and sensuous. Also, the movie has many elements that interest me: (i) Italy in its war years (ii) the adolescent years as a boy and (iii) how being beautiful can be a liability
Fav. Role Model
Lee Kuan Yew. I'm not being political her and I'm not taking sides. I think MM (Lee) has attained a status that's revered by all parties. Because I belong to a generation that lived through the transition of our nation's independence (I was born two years before 1965), I recognise that if the person at the helm did not have the vision and forthrightness, the next generation will not be able to benefit from the efforts of the pioneers and the country cannot go from strength to strength.
Fav. Social Media Network
Facebook, so that friends and relatives can keep in touch and watch my son grow.
Pet Love
People who are soft-spoken and good natured. It's very calming to be with them and to spend good time with them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Man Who Dressed the Stars

We get 'Aquainted' with celebrity fashion designer Ashley Isham.

He's a Singapore boy made good. A local designer who put our little island on the international fashion map. He has dressed royalty and celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue and Zara Phillips, eldest grand-daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.

And if that's not enough, he was approached by Coca-Cola to design their limited-edited Coke Light cans and bottles - the only Singaporean to have ever been invited! It will be launched at the upcoming Audi Fashion Festival so watch out for his 'Jewel in the Hand' cans!

It was a pleasure meeting and chatting with this homegrown talent. He looks a tad intimidating with his blond hair and piercing gaze, but he really is a warm chap who came from a humble background (his mum was a tailor!), who deeply admires his mother, and misses his Mee Rebus when away from home.

Well, Ashley Isham is still based in the UK but he recently launched his flagship store here at the Fullerton Hotel. There you'll find his latest Spring 2009 runway collection, which incidentally will be showcased at the President's Command Performance this Sunday 19 April, on Ch 5.

Ashley says it was inspired by the '70s cult movie, Xanadu, and he almost made the poor models roll down the runway on rollerskates!

Well, he gave us a warm hug before he left, leaving us with a lingering whiff of his greatness, but also his simplicity: He was wearing flip flops!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fighting Spiders!

I've seen many press kits in my career but this one from MediaCorp Ch 5's blockbuster drama Fighting Spiders is one of my favourites. It's a giant matchbox! 


It has this old-world feel about it. After all, Fighting Spiders is a coming-of-age story revolving around 3 boys, and set against 1960s Singapore. The matchbox has significance: Boys back then used to keep their fighting spiders in them. I'm so impressed that this press kit makes it to our blog! 

When I first saw the trailer on TV, it reminded me of Growing Up, which I absolutely adored. Imagine how thrilled I was to discover that scriptwriter Ngin Chiang Meng also wrote for Growing Up (one season), as well as other Ch 5 programmes such as Heartlanders, Under One Roof, RaRa Show etc. It was a delight chatting with a fellow writer (I still consider myself one) about his inspirations for the story. 

On the couch with Chiang Meng were 3 handsome young men: Frederick Fielding who plays Peter Livingston, one of the 3 boys in the show, American actor/model Bobby Tonelli who plays Peter's dad Thomas Livingston, and Star Search '07 winner Andie Chen, who plays hot-headed school dropout Tony Lee. 

We had a good laugh when Andie told us his most memorable scene was kissing Rebecca Lim because he went home with sore lips!  

"15 takes!" Chiang Meng teases, with a playful twinkle in his eye.

Testosterone fills The Living Room with the guys of Fighting Spiders:
[L to R] Bobby, Frederick, scriptwriter Chiang Meng and Andie.

Andie Chen is in an enviable position. He's entangled in a love web with 'virgin Annie' (Ezann Lee) and 'prostitute Susie' (Rebecca Lim). I ask him, "So are you more an 'Annie' sort of guy or a 'Susie' sort of guy?" Andie doesn't even pause to ponder. "Susie sort of guy," he declares cheekily. The other guys hoot and cheer. 

It was a ruckus in the Living Room, with me outnumbered by a bunch of testosterone-filled lads. But I must admit, I enjoyed myself tremendously

As promised, I'm posting a photo of Bobby Tonelli upclose. I kept saying on-air that he looks younger than his onscreen character that Chiang Meng pointed it out, much to my embarrassment. But isn't it true? Does he look like the father of a 14-year-old boy to you? Well, Bobby says my observation is "valid" as he put on 8kg for the role and grew a moustache. Ah, see. 

Catch Fighting Spiders every Tuesday, 8.30pm on Ch 5. 
  

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Of Felines & Photos

Meow! CATS The Musical prowls into town this Friday and we were thrilled to have the very suave Munkerstrap and Grizabella the Glamour Cat slide onto our Living Room couch today. Under the fur are Australians Shaun Rennie and Delia Hannah, who were a delight to meow with! 

Joining them was Michael-John Hurney who plays the roles of Bustopher Jones, Tiger Growl and Gus. This veteran thespian also played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar. He's one talented man.

I love musicals - and I've watched quite a few - but believe it or not, I've never caught CATS. The last time this much-loved musical was in town was 16 years ago, so all I can say is "It's about time!" 

I must admit I've never been too captivated by the story. Les Miserables had such a powerful, moving storyline that few musicals have come close for me (save for Rent and Avenue Q), not even Phantom of the Opera. And CATS? Well, it just seemed to me like it was all about a bunch of felines singing & prancing on stage...   

But after hearing from Delia, Shaun and MJ, and learning that this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was based on a book of poems called Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T.S. Eliot, my curiosity was aroused. A literary heavyweight! Now we're talking... So yes, I'm going!

Felines on our Couch: Michael-John Hurney, 'Munkerstrap' Shaun Rennie and 'Grizabella the Glamour Cat' Delia Hannah.

Now, a riddle for you: What do Cyndi Crawford, MM Lee Kuan Yew, Zhang Ziyi and Richard Gere have in common?

Well, they've all been photographed by our next guest! He's a brilliant photographer who is perhaps as much a celebrity as the celebrities he shoots. And his photos have even made it to the cover of TIME magazine. In fact, his work Bamboo Forest fetched a record US$40,000 at a recent auction at the prestigious Christie's.
   
We're of course talking about celebrity photographer Russel Wong, whose works will be showcased at the President's Command Performance next Sunday, 19 April, 7.30pm on Ch 5. It's done really tastefully in a musical montage, on gargantuan screens on stage.  

Zooming in & focusing on celebrity photographer Russel Wong.

Russel is a joker. When Stan teased him by asking if he'd be singing at the event, since it's a 'musical' montage, he says of course! And goes on to list some songs he'll be belting out. But you quickly see how he creates rapport. "Trust is important," he says, of putting subjects at ease. "I build that by treating them as equals; I don't behave like a fan boy."

And dig this: Russel does extensive research on each subject he shoots, even who they are dating - present and past - just to fully understand them. I guess that's what sets him apart and makes him a cut above the rest. There's so much we can learn from him. I guess for one, I need to learn how to be less of a fan girl around him! *chuckle*
  

Monday, April 06, 2009

Martial Artists Raid Our Monday!

For the first time in my life, I experienced what it felt like to be on the brink of death. Just 2-3 seconds more in that position, and my breathing would've been completely cut off and I would've blacked out. Permanently.

Kapap was developed by the elite forces of the Israeli army. When Teo Yew Chye, founder & chief instructor of the Kapap Academy Singapore, demonstrated on Daniel Fang, an SMU Business undergrad who recently took up the sport, it looked effortless. Yet I saw how Daniel's face turned a beetroot red within seconds, and the burly chap had to tap Yew Chye to signal him to let go.

I volunteered to try. And it was terrifying. I felt my windpipe constrict. The blood vessels in my head close to exploding. I gagged because I could not breathe, at all. Believe it or not, I allowed myself to be pinned down, tipped off balance, and to be "put down" with just one tap of the finger on one of my pressure points...

It's the stuff of movies. But this is no play-acting. It's the real thing. And let me tell you, as an objective journalist, Kapap works.

I wanted to experience how it felt like to be the victim because I didn't believe that with so little physical strength exerted, it was possible to take someone down. And it was important for me to know because if it really works, then Kapap could well be what I'm looking for - a practical & effective means of self-defense for a pint-sizer like me. After all, I travel widely and I do get home late.

What clinched it for me was when I witnessed Stephanie Charles, a first-year Social Science student from SMU, use the simple concept of displacing balance to get herself out of a compromising situation. And to think she picked up Kapap only about 3 months ago!

I've uploaded two videos on Youtube: The first shows Steph being pinned under Daniel. Check out how she frees herself...



This second video shows Steph in a position women may find themselves if they are victims of rape. Yet, by simply tipping the assailant off-balance, she's able to be up on her feet and ready to run - all in under 3 seconds:



Now tell me if this is not the answer for women who are generally smaller and weaker than men! This is self-defense that makes sense.

For Daniel, president of the Kapap Club at SMU, it's important to empower others to protect themselves. That's why he's learning Kapap - to share these skills with abused women, the elderly etc. through community outreach programmes. And that's what the SMU Kapap Club has been doing. To find out more about their outreach in June, email Daniel at this address: daniel.kapap@gmail.com.

[L to R]: SMU students Daniel Fang & Stephanie Charles
with KAPAP instructor Teo Yew Chye.

Talking about martial arts, we had another martial arts exponent in our Living Room today. He was a Wushu champion in the SEA Games in 1993 and 1995, and Asian champion in 1996. In fact, he's the youngest Captain of the Singapore National Wushu team. If the name Picasso Tan rings a bell, it may also be because he's a TV actor and news host!

Well, Picasso is one of four co-owners of a new modern Pinoy restaurant in town called Bonifacio. The other two owners are also Wushu champions, one from the Philippines, the other China (Ace ended up being a Stunt Director with MediaCorp!). Joining Picasso to tell us more is publisher-businessman Kelvin Yoo, CEO of Singapore Asian Publications and recipient of the 'Entrepreneur of the Year Award' in 2006.

It was a lively chat where we found out more about Pinoy cuisine from Bonifacio's head chef Dahlia Conde from Manila. The trio also surprised us by bringing Mango Cheesecake from their dessert menu - complete with plastic forks for us to dig in on the spot! *chuckle*

But of course, we were raving on about the delectable pork dishes we sampled last week: Pork Sisig [above, left] and the pork knuckles or Crispy Pata [above, right]. These apparently go well with beer!

Pinoy Cuisine @ Bonifacio: Picasso Tan, Dahlia Conde and Kelvin Yoo.

Well, these two engaging conversations surely chased away the Monday Blues for us. And you know what? We'll definitely be back at Bonifacio - with our familes in tow!