Issue of July 7, 2019
     
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The Mighty Bhutens and Plakafe

Stella Maria de Guia
 
If one ever goes to Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and passes by High Street, take a look at the big dream bubble made of mosaic with a guy in red checkered shirt seating and drinking coffee – that is one of the works of The Mighty Bhutens done in 2013. They were commissioned by the Public Art Program group of the BGC thru Monica Llamas.

THE MIGHTY BHUTENS – (From left) Oliver Olivete, Guiller Cagac and Kabunyan de Guia at the Art in the Park at Salcedo Park in Makati.


At the Plakafe haven of Oliver and Marjorie Olivete at Northdrive with children Makulay and Malaya. Behind is Olie’s most precious mosaic work.



The Mighty Bhutens is a group of young mosaic artists from Baguio namely Oliver “Olie” Olivete, Kabunyan “Kabu” de Guia and Guiller Cagac and have been in the art business for 15 years. They call themselves “mosaikeros.” Their colored broken tiles have been bought and exported to many parts of the globe. Kabu traveled all the way to Sweden and Spain to do actual mosaic work for relatives and friends.

Kabunyan and Guiller started mosaic during the potholes project of his brother Kawayan de Guia, an internationally known artist himself. A remnant of which you will still find in front of the La Azotea building at Session Road, Baguio City.

The three, Olie, Kabu and Guiller were hired by Ferdie Balanag, director of “Walking the Waking Journey,” an epic voyage to awaken humanity and open a door to the future, ” to do the set design of a stage in Quezon City bar owned by a well known film director Joyce Bernal. The event jump started their entry into the mosaic world.

To see more of their projects, just go to their Facebook page, The Mighty Bhutens. Their mosaic collaborative work progressed into individual portable mosaic mounted on wood for people who wanted special work done for their houses, gardens and businesses.

Annually for the last five years, they sell and display their portable mosaic works for a day at the “Art in the Park” at Jaime Velasquez Park or Salcedo Park in Makati.

The Bhutens now live in different habitats; Kabu is in Davao with his Tuburan School projects with wife Malaya and two kids. Guiller is in Laguna with his three kids and Olie is in Baguio with wife Marjorie and their two kids—six-year-old Makulay and 16-year-old Malaya. Their haven? A café on the second floor of Lefern Hotel at North Drive across NBI.

This idea was inspired by Kidlat Tahimik’s finding your “sariling dwende adhikain”. Hence, out of recycled and repurposed wood and scraps of construction materials was born Plakafe Baguio, a Bohemian Café, now three years old.

At Plakafe, one can listen to their collection of vinyl 45 and 33-rpm records munching on affordable meals and merienda. For vinyl record collectors, they sell old time favorites. Some of their merienda best sellers include yummy palitaw or suman with cacao, tsaa laya and pande pizza with potato wedges, and dine in and out pancit. They also offer breakfast, lunch and dinner nakakabusog rice meals. And since they are into environment upcycling, they have a special offer of lessP10 for take out drinks if one brings his or her own mug or tumbler.

Olie and Marjorie support local ingredients and upcycling, hence they buy from local suppliers. For more information call them at (074) 422-1818 or look at Plakafe Baguio on Facebook.

Since the Mighty Bhutens are into mosaic, I asked them if they will offer mosaic lessons in the future for housewives or for those interested to learn the art and perhaps a “Do- it- Yourself” kitchen or lavatory. Olie mentioned that they may consider it for next year when he mounts his National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) project sometime February 2020 entitled, “Pagkabilang ng tatlo, Nakatago na kayo” exhibit, to be curated by Kabunyan de Guia.

The exhibit aims to bring back nostalgia by using upcycled or materials taken from demolished houses that will feature old games like sip, langit lupa, tumbang preso and other variations to the games still being practiced in some provinces.

The famous mosaic work of the Mighty Bhutens at the Bonifacio Global City High Street.


Olie and Marjorie playing their favorite 45 and 33 rpm vinyl records



The nostalgia effect of the exhibit will hopefully push parents to expose their children to learn these old games played when they were kids, so their children can play, appreciate and experience them too. A wake up call, to go back to nature or olden times games especially now when children are hooked up on modern day expensive gadgets.

“As we go placidly amidst the noise and haste” kindred souls, husband and wife team, Olie and Marjorie, wish to impart this message from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to one and sundry, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
 

Crustasia: A gastro tour

Nonnette C. Bennett
Do you want to tour some of the best places in South Asia by sitting? All you have to do is go to Crustasia at the Techno Hub at Camp John Hay in Baguio City to get pieces of Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan. The palate knows some of the distinct flavors of these countries or ask Chef Raymund Servitillo, or manager Paul Escosio to guide you.

Crustasia Manager Paul Escosio (left) and Chef Raymund Servitillo present the best of South Asian cuisine such as the steamed Lapu-lapu superior soy sauce; butter chili garlic crab; Szechuan fried eggplant; and patatim.



Crispy catfish salad is a favorite Thailand starter. This salad has fresh pomelo, medium ripe mango strips, turnip strips, and cilantro with a citrus dressing topped with crispy bits of catfish. Truly a starter, it perks up the appetite for the next dish. A blend of sweet sour with a burst of pomelo, a crunch from the shreds of catfish and scent of fresh cilantro. This is Asia.

Sesame miso scallops and shrimps is another delightful Japanese inspired appetizer. The presentation of a spoonful of shrimp and scallop bits sautéed in sesame oil with onions and bits of green and red bell peppers glazed with miso is Japanese simplicity. When it is served on scallop shells it makes for perfect detail. This spoonful of the sea begins the journey into the rest of Asia.

Crab and garlic mie goreng is a Malaysia spicy tour. Salty sweet and spicy, this fried egg noodle dish adds crushed peanuts as flavor. Crab meat sautéed with sprouted beans, slices of shiitake and black fungus mushrooms, slivers of green and red bell peppers, toasted garlic, and rings of chili peppers makes this dish explode in the mouth. Topped with shrimps, spring onions and cilantro, these ingredients give the dish more aroma. White prawn crackers are an added attraction and crunch. There is something about sweet soy sauce that make Asian dishes savory. This is a best seller says Paul.

Sesame miso scallops and shrimps is served in “spoonfuls” on scallop shells; Crispy catfish salad is a great starter with sweet sour and crunchy elements; and Crustasia’s ais kacang is shaved ice like “halo-halo” and mango sticky rice are desserts enjoyed in Asia.



Vietnamese prawn sinigang sparks curiosity. One expects the sour broth like the typical Pinoy dish but this surprises one with pineapple chunks in the soup. It definitely has ingredients of “kangkong” or water spinach and spring onions as is Pilipino but uses lemon grass flavored broth that makes it Vietnamese. This soup is worth the adventure.

Butter chili garlic crab is better than the steamed counterparts. Those who love lots of toasted crunchy garlic must try this. Crabs are always best with chili anywhere in Asia. Here the crab is to be shared as a main course.

Szechuan fried eggplant is crispy lengthwise slices of eggplant topped with spicy ground meat sauce. A touch of China, Szechuan means fish fragrant, hinting on the fish sauce used in preparing the crispy eggplant. There is a “pao jiao”or pickled pepper that some Chinese cooks mention that give this dish the sour spicy flavor. This dish has loads of garlic too. A word of caution to those who are not keen on chili flavored dishes, this can burn.

Steamed Lapu-lapu superior soy sauce also comes in a fried edition. This is influenced by Chinese cuisine where the freshness of the fish is preserved with the addition of ginger and spring onions and the light soy sauce. In some Chinese editions, the secret may be the rice wine added to the sauce. This is a fish lover’s must.

Patatim at Crustasia is not to be compared. If one is a mushroom lover, this dish has three mushrooms. There are shiitake, black fungus and button mushrooms used with broccoli, baby corn and bok choy. These veggies are sautéed with the thick salty sweet sauce poured over the pork leg. The tender meat of the pork leg almost melts in your mouth. This dish has different versions in the countries around Asia offering Chinese cuisine.

To end the meal, the mango sticky rice has no Pinoy counterpart. This Thai dessert is made from sticky rice cooked in creamy coconut milk with “latik” or the sweet preparation from reduced coconut milk and sweet ripe mango slivers. It is not dry like the “biko” but thick, gooey and sweet. This ends the taste of spices in the main courses.

Crustasia ais kacang is a “halo-halo” equivalent in Malaysia. Shaved ice is topped with red and white beans, gelatin, sago, and sweet corn. Creamy coconut milk is poured on the toppings and palm sugar syrup is used to sweeten it. This is a cool finish to lunch or dinner.

One has just toured South Asia by tasting the food in Crustasia at Techno Hub. (Photos by Toni Hamada)
 

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