Anti Planking Law in Philippines

Anti Planking Law in Philippines:
by: Moira G Gallaga


Diplo-pinion: Breaking the Cycle of Corruption in the Philippines (Freedom of Information)

Corruption has been a primary source of concern in the Philippines ever since the nation was granted its independence in 1946. In recent years, emphasis has been placed on passing a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act that would allow citizens to access information regarding government activities and spending and hopefully expose and prevent rampant corruption in government through transparency. This article will discuss the Philippine FOI bill, its importance and some of its potential drawbacks.

Freedoms of Information (FOI) Acts are standard in most democratic governments. These laws guarantee that information held by state organizations can be accessed and scrutinized by the public. In theory, these types of laws ensure access through ease of process, prohibition of extreme costs, and a well-defined list of exceptions to the rule. The person requesting the information is not required to give a reason, and if the department that has been requested denies the information they must explain why and possibly defend themselves legally. In the Philippines, there is already a provision within the Bill of Rights that recognizes the people’s right to public information. However, there is no bill which guarantees this right or provides guidelines for procedures or penalties against those who refuse to recognize this right or its application.

Many years of corruption and political turmoil have led up to the current focus and urgency in passing this act. During the regime of President Marcos, censorship was so bad that military officers were posted in newsrooms in order to ensure that no negative news would ever go out. Marcos himself was accused of stealing somewhere between $5 and $10 billion dollars during his 20 years in office. Joseph Estrada assumed the presidency in 1998 and subsequently earned a place on Transparency International’s top ten lists for most corrupt leaders in the world. When President Arroyo entered into office, she made many promises of reform but was also placed under attack for rampant corruption. In 2009, the Philippines ranked 139th of 180 countries on the corruption index.

The current state of affairs has the Freedom of Information Act on the drawing board for the last 15 years. Current Philippine President Beningo S. Aquino’s promises that the bill is being worked on and other government assurances that the bill will be approved before the year’s end are falling on skeptical ears. A battle of words between the media and the government has kept this endless revision process prominently in the news.

The Freedom of Information Act is important to the alleviation of corruption in many ways. While the exact text of the bill is still subject to constant revisions, the general requirements of a proper FOI bill contain some key points:

• A simple and uniform procedure for accessing information
• Defined penalties for those who refuse to disclose information
• Legal recourse for the public if information is denied
• Definition of all agencies that are subject to the act as well as those who are exempted and the conditions under which exceptions may be made.
• Required improvement in government record keeping, including language accessibility and understandable record keeping.
• Limitations to the costs involved in acquiring records.

The combination of these defined rights and procedures allows no questions to be called in when information is requested by the public. This will, in theory, help to alleviate corruption by putting every political entity into the spotlight where they can be examined by those who feel those entities are not performing as they should.

The potential backlash from such a bill is of major concern to many people, especially politicians. This debate revolves around the possibility of the information being used by the media or other self-interested organizations to attack politicians or incite the public. The country has just come from an extended time of political turmoil and any upset to that could set them back many years in their development of a stable and productive political system. President Aquino has voiced his own fears that the FOI may be used to compromise national security matters. Despite these concerns, the government’s tendency has been to delay rather than making it a priority bill for passage into law.

As of early August, 2011 the Freedom of Information Act bill is still sitting around Congress awaiting more revisions. President Aquino did not even mention the bill in his July State of the Nation Address. In the eyes of critics, particularly the media, this makes it appear as if the act is not, and may never be a priority bill. Journalists cry foul and claim that there is no sincerity in promises to fight corruption and that the bill is being “watered down” so that the government can get around it when the need arises.

Whether the Freedom of Information Act goes through by the end of the year as promised, and in what form it eventually emerges, may well determine the ability of the Philippine islands and its people to get rid of the scourge of rampant corruption in government that has stymied the country’s economic progress for decades.


Diplo-soccer trivia: 5 Sneaky Soccer Tricks and Moves

Futbol, or soccer, is a sport that has many fancy moves and tricks that players use to get an advantage over an opposing defender. The most famous of soccer tricks is probably the Step over. This is a move where you rotate your legs around the ball and try to move its position at the same time, so you confuse the opposition defense. The move is performed best when you are running at high speed, because you will either get past the player, draw a foul that could result in a good opportunity for your team or make a fool of yourself if done incorrectly. Here's one who does it properly, the explosive Il Fenomeno Ronaldo:

Another effective soccer move is the Nutmeg, where you play the ball between your opponent’s legs and leave them standing for dead and feeling very foolish. This is good for getting past defenders, passing to a team mate through a defender's legs or shooting on goal. Nutmegging a goalie is one good way to demoralize the keeper; it is a humiliating way for them to let a goal through. Nutmegging a defender with a shot on goal is a difficult shot for the goalie to block as the defender primarily occupies the goalie's view, and if successful, the ball suddenly just goes right through the legs of the defender giving the goalie very little time to effectively react. 

One of the most difficult and acrobatic soccer moves is the overhead or Bicycle kick, where you have your back to the goal and the ball is slightly behind you in the air and you turn and attempt an overhead kick shot to the goal. This often catches the opposition by surprise as you are originally facing away from goal and the ball is at a level that normally requires for it to be controlled and brought down first. To really appreciate a bicycle kick, you need to see it as simply describing it in words doesn't do it justice. This is one of the best examples; Van Basten doesn't even try to bounce it to set it up but takes the kick first time.

For elegance, this has to be the 360 turn, where you turn 360 degrees with the ball at your feet. This is very difficult and only the best can do it properly. When done right, it helps you evade a marker or two and can give you a bit of space to accelerate forward, pick out the right pass or take a shot. Here's a master at work with his trademark 360 move called the Zidane roulette: 

Finally, another trick soccer move that is really, really difficult but if pulled off is pretty fantastic is called the Rainbow kick. The player steps over the ball and flicks it off the ground from behind them, and forward over their head in an arc. The trajectory of the ball gives this trick its name. The trick is usually performed while running forward with the ball, and is done by rolling the ball up the back of one leg with the other foot, before flicking the standing foot upwards to propel the ball forward and over the head. This is rarely done in competitive matches due to its difficulty. It is one of those tricks that make a total fool of your opponent if you pull it off, or you end up looking the fool if you don't. Watch this 8 year old kid do it: 

We, the Futbol fanatics call soccer the most beautiful game, a part of that is because of these tricks and skills that allow players to confuse opponents by using a fair amount of creativity, elegance and acrobatic skill making it quite a spectacle to watch.  

This post is inspired by the upcoming campaign of the Azkals at the Long Teng Cup Tournament in Taipei. All the best to the Azkals, GO PILIPINAS!!

2011 Moira G Gallaga©


Be Kind to Yourself

It is hard work being an adult. There are constant demands on your time, energy and emotions from many different people. Your spouse, your children and your boss all want to be the focus of your attention at all times. While it is important to do your best and live unselfishly for others, there is another side to this coin.

It is impossible to live life to the fullest if you are not kind to yourself. You cannot give 100% of yourself to others if you have not been nurturing your personal life. The list below shows you some ways that you can carve off some private time and treat yourself right.

1) Schedule Personal Time - Everything of importance in our lives has to be scheduled in. If you do not set a time as if it were an appointment, your personal time will never happen. You do not need to set aside much time, maybe just 15-20 minutes to read a book, play an instrument or take a nap.

2) Join a Group - Consider joining a club or taking a class on a subject you love. It may be a book club, a gym or a sewing class. This is a great way to get away from it all while doing something productive at the same time.

3) Get Up Earlier - You may not enjoy setting the alarm 20-30 minutes earlier, but you will be surprised at the result. Those few moments of peace and quiet before the rest of the family gets up will become your favourite part of the day.

Slow down and be kind to yourself. The results are worth it.

Push the Limits – When Was the Last Time You Did Shake Up the Way Things Are?

A child is not born with limitations. Society and life experiences forces a child to learn limitations and as he grows, he gets scared to overcome those limits. In truth, if you have strong will power you can push the limits and achieve more in your life.  

All of us are bounded by limitations. You have emotional, physical, intellectual, societal and even mental limitations to live in the community. You cannot express your feelings fully all the time and the same is true with physical limitations. Whenever a child talks about the problems of adults, the parent will tell him not to interfere and think about those issues. Are these limitations good or bad? As long as it is accepted, you can push the limits. The human brain is so complex and capable of doing things, which were generally considered impossible. Unless a record is created or broken, no one would have thought of such possibilities.

You are forced to live on the thin end of the wedge and once you know that you can push your limits to break the lock, everything becomes easy. Limitations are a weakness imposed on you right from your birth. The child will not get complete freedom to explore things when he begins to walk. He is taught to follow a correct path and his freedom is limited to certain areas. Some form of limitations can be justified but many of them are purely personal. In other words, though you have the ability to do certain things you have never thought of even attempting it.

Overcoming limitations cannot be achieved overnight. You have to develop strong will power to break any record or push beyond your limits. To some extent, physical limitations cannot be fought easily but you can overcome emotional and mental limitations if you are strong. There are exceptional cases in the recent past that overcome physical limitations. You see cases of terminally ill patients who live happily, as if nothing is going to happen tomorrow. It is because they live only for “the present” and not for “the future”. Even in cases of extreme illness, people could smile and live because they have “will power" to live. When terminally ill patients could make a record to push the limits why can’t you?

Sometimes it becomes very difficult to stay organized when you are emotionally weak. For instance, you cannot forget your first love and even knowing the man or woman is not worth it, you will still get fixated with the person. Only when you get detached from the ‘Self’ will you realize that you have made a mistake. Overcoming  emotional limitations. In some cases, you may need the help of a professional counselor to overcome them. As a man grows, experiences will teach him how to push the limits.

Change the belief system. A belief system can also hold you back. Empower your mind and develop positive thinking. You should give permission for the brain to attempt something, which seems impossible. It takes time for changing deep-rooted false beliefs. Keep on repeating to yourself that “I can succeed,” “I can pass the exam,” and “I can do things which others cannot."

Anything is possible if you have determination. A psychologist will ask her client to visualize success repeatedly in order to overcome limits. It is not hard to push the limits if you are strong inside. Believe strongly that anything is possible for you. Your brain will give you enough strength to achieve your goal.

 2011 Moira G Gallaga©


Why Do We Need More Windmills?

Why Do We Need More Windmills?:
by: Moira G Gallaga

Learning to Take Criticism

Learning to Take Criticism:
by: Moira G Gallaga

Add Humor in Your Life

Add Humor in Your Life:
by: Moira G Gallaga

'via Blog this'

A Mermaid's Song

In the deepest depths of the ocean blue,
The mermaid’s fins sparkle every hue,
She dances through the midnight seas,
Her beauty apparent to those that see.

A sirens call, a danger to thee,
Though no man can let her be,
She sings to them, a lilting song,
Convincing them to her they belong.

Shining fins cut through the water,
Shining eyes dance with laughter,
Of flowing hair, and stunning grace,
The mermaid is a magical race.

Careful ye be of this beautiful maiden,
For she sings of desires to be sated,
For you she will sing a lullaby,
A beautiful song, your final goodbye. 

2011 Moira G. Gallaga©


Diplo-tales: Dupont Circle Roundabout - Merry-go-round from Hell

After three years driving the same roads every week you would know your way around, correct? Well, I don't.

Like I need any more “idiot me” moments, right? However, in my defence, I'm referring to a particularly nasty piece of road (hehe) known as Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. Anyone who has ever driven in it would probably understand where my confusion and distress comes from.

Whoever decided that a roundabout with ten—read that, ten!—exits was a good idea should be back in school, relearning how to design roads, hahaha. There are also two segregated lanes in the roundabout, just in case you decide you don't feel like getting off the Merry-Go-Round for a while and instead want to kick back, relax, and listen to the music.

If that weren’t confusing or challenging enough already, the centre of the roundabout has a nice little park with trees and a fountain. It is also full of people and has got a number of crosswalks. So while navigating the maze that is Dupont Circle you must be on the lookout for pedestrians as well as your intended exit of that roundabout. I get this sense that in their eyes are looks of mirth, as if they know I've travelled this road every week and still have to call my husband for directions because even my GPS is befuddled by Dupont Circle. At least I'm not the only one.

The thing is, I work at the Philippine Embassy, WDC. As if I’m not already late enough, this is a job of responsibility and I can't even navigate the roads outside the Embassy. There’s this one time I saw Resty, a colleague of mine, and then I realized "Oh, God! This is already near the Ambassador’s residence." A second closer look at the surroundings confirmed my belated realization, this was the other side  of the diplomatic enclave called Embassy Row. Our Embassy was in the opposite direction across Dupont Circle. I was supposed to exit Dupont Circle towards the South but ended up going North, the merry-go-round had got me disorientated again. Needless to say, I don't tell my colleagues about my fights with Dupont Circle. I'd never hear the end of it. The forthcoming jokes would have been relentless.

My husband offers a chuckle every time I call him. Those chuckles were sounding a bit forced after a while, but there's nothing I can do. When my mechanical GPS fails me I must turn to my human GPS. He's gotten used to it, and he would say the same thing every time. I think he had the directions written down, a little sticky note in his wallet. It's a good thing he’s a Consul. He's used to communicating with people, being patient as he tries to reach a consensus on difficult issues. In this case, garnering his wife safe passage to work.

While I'm driving in circles trying to figure out the right exit again or how to get back to the proper lane within the roundabout, peering at the roads that all look the same with their asphalt and sides of buildings and trees and cars my fingers hit the GPS speed-dial. My husband had learned to anticipate my calls in that he always picks up on the first ring and automatically asks which building I'm near at to serve as a reference.  I describe it and he tells me the next time I pass it to go so many exits more and take that one. I haven't the faintest idea how he knows which exit I should be taking by my less-than-impressive building descriptions. I have a hard enough time recognizing the building for my next loop around the Merry-Go-Round.

My human GPS though, he has the perfect photographic memory and I always make my way to 1600 Massachusetts Avenue just in time to walk through the brown double doors seconds before I'm due.

I don't know how Washington D.C. locals do it. Dupont Circle isn't the only roundabout in Washington D.C. It is the worst though. I guess once you've conquered the worst of roundabouts the others are like mere pebbles on a pathway. 2011 Moira G Gallaga ©


House Bill Number 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill)

House Bill no. 4244
needs to be passed.
‘Bloated population’ control?
Well being, health and fertile growth
enough space for each potential
to bloom and grow.

It’s like a sustainable field you see
a garden where every person
wanted or not wanted
plays a role but woe
so many seeds have sprouted
filling all the space, smothering some
denying air to breath and rightful spot in the sun.

This field, this garden,
needs more than one gardener
to tend the weeds of poverty and ignorance.
Not the state alone
but all of us
to use our skills and willingness
for better wellness of every Life.

Skilled gardeners:
Let’s grow from informed choice
within the fence of family planning services
let’s decrease the uprooting
of unwanted seedlings through abortion
remove the pests of STD’s
educate our apprentices
our future gardeners
to create healthy stalks of Life.

Yes, it is the woman’s body
that bears the choice,
but let’s make sure
that we hear her voice.

2011 Moira G. Gallaga©


Diplo-Parenting Tips: You Cannot Spoil a Child through Love

All parents are concerned about spoiling their children, but you can't spoil a child through love. Love is imperative so that a child knows they are wanted. Too much love is in fact impossible. A child needs adults to play with, to teach them, and to offer protection.

A parent's responsibility is to give a child love, a secure environment and encouragement. A child will not succeed at everything they attempt. Listen to their problems, and try to understand what they are going through. Talk openly with them when they have setbacks and disappointments. Children have to learn how to handle failure and frustration.

If you bungle raising your children,
I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much. - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

However, always keep in mind that showing love to your children isn't the same as letting them do, or giving them what they want. It is important to set limits with your children.  Setting limits is actually very important, because it gives your child a sense of safety and security. Parents might at first be afraid to establish rules, because they risk upsetting their kids. But without rules to follow, kids do not have any guidance. They feel lost. Rules that go unenforced are almost as bad. The proper response to a broken rule is one that explains the rule, along with an appropriate punishment. Children need to know consequences for their actions. All children are not the same. Your approach may have to differ depending on how the child reacts to a rule. One teenager who comes home too late may be convinced that what he did was wrong because you stayed up late worrying about him. Another might not get the message until his curfew is severely reduced. What matters is setting definite boundaries, and giving good reasons for them.

Children should never be afraid to tell you anything. Treat them with love and respect, and they will do the same. Raising children is difficult, but also one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have. Love your kids, and give them a safe home full of reasonable rules and expectations. It will set them on a path to turn into a good adult.

2011 Moira G Gallaga©


Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer?

It's been said that Germans build such great products because they don't want to go around being nice while they fix them. Making jokes about Germans is allowed now: Germans are the new Poles ever since the Poles got IT and hard currency. If they won a tennis tournament, they would be considered Europeans.

Anyway, I have some close German friends so I guess I am allowed to tell stories about Germans. I always enjoy trips to visit them, since the four hours and 26 minutes we plan ahead of time to spend together for the visit is great. Last time I was in Bremen, we had just left a biergarten and were waiting to cross the street. It was the middle of the night, there was no traffic in either direction, but the crosswalk signal had not changed. I stepped out to cross against the light, and my friend hissed "Nein! In Germany, we do not cross against the signal!" Chastened, I stepped back onto the sidewalk. However, my friend went on to cross the street adding "But, in Germany... we finish what we started."

I came back to Germany for this particular friend's wedding, and the best part was the salute by the his- and hers- football teams. It was like some kind of European fantasy: as they exited the marriage hall, his team stood in full uniform on the right and hers on the left and the bride and groom ran down the row, yelling football cheers.

We went back to her parents' house for refreshments and she advised me to get a drink from the beer refrigerator. Her family home had a separate appliance- simply for chilling beer. Now that's a piece of furnishing I can get behind. 

The low point of the wedding for me was trying to find the hotel I was staying at after the reception. Austere to the point of invisible, my dormitory-like accommodations were impossible to identify from the front of the building. I had made a point of writing down the address, only to find that 523 "Einbahnstraße" actually meant "one way street." 

The title of this post, by the way, is the opening to Monty Python's funniest joke in the world. It is rendered 60,000 times more potent in German, which is why I cannot finish it here.

2011 Moira G Gallaga ©

Like a Garden after a Rain

In life there can be terrible showers
High winds and drama can shake you
Like leaves are taken and twisted by the wind.
These high disasters can make life barren
Like a patch of garden that never sees the sun.

But there are roots even in the bare ground,
Potential flowers just waiting for the day
When they can spring up into life again.
And like a garden, after the bad storms
There will be new shoots springing up all around
Filling the garden and making it beautiful.

Like a garden after rain you must blossom
From the challenges offered by the storm.
Bow your head against the wind but
Keep strong and upright even in the worst.
Spread your petals to receive the water
And take it in to nourish your blooms.

Without the rain the garden would be dry
Nothing would grow within its bounds,
And like a garden you can take the cold
The downpours and the storms life holds.
And like a garden after rain you can recover
Push through your blooms and rise above the ground.

© Moira G. Gallaga
Photo by David Le Vine


Failure is a Blessing in Disguise

In life, we experience a lot of failure and disappointments. May it be major, like not getting into a job that we really like or a little less complicated like not having the food that we crave for. It varies in intensity, but just the same, we get disappointed when we fail.

But in life, we should not place the focus on our failure or disappointments. We focus on our abilities to stand up and move on. Yes, it is easier said than done but once we believe what we say, eventually we get to make it real. Hence, when we say- "I can do this. I’m better than this and I can move on and believe in it," eventually and without knowing it, we had already done it.

Failure will always be a part of our lives. No matter how careful we are not to fail or not to be disappointed, we can’t avoid it. Life is not enjoyed by how close to perfection we've lived, but how we face our failures and how we learn to accept it and be a better person after it.

They say we only get to appreciate the good things that are happening to us when we get to experience the bad or even the worst things in life. One story that validates the theory happened just recently. A friend of mine applied for a job as a barista. He wanted it real bad but then he failed to pass the interview. He was devastated. He didn’t want to apply for other jobs anymore for he thought he was a failure. Eventually, he got his act together and started to apply for jobs again. He was interviewed in a well-known restaurant and he passed.

Now he’s currently working in Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore and he’s happy with it. He told me once, if it wasn’t for that failure he had on his first interview he will not get to work with this five star hotel, get to meet cool people like me (he-he), and have the opportunities, which he values so much now. He learned a thing or two from that experience.

When something in your life failed, it doesn’t mean that will be the trend of your life. More importantly, failure does not define who you are, as long as you stand up from it and keep moving on.  It’s just part of our journey in this crazy but wonderful life. It is simply just being human and you learn to be stronger every step of the way. With that, I can say failure is an occasion that will teach us about ourselves. It is a test and may be a blessing in disguise. We may see it as a reason of stress at first, but after we get passed it, we realize that it’s a reason for us to appreciate a life that we sometimes take for granted.   

2011 Moira G Gallaga ©


Give Yourself the Life You Want

So often we do not give ourselves the life we want. We stifle our creativity, we hold back on loving and on being loved. We allow ourselves to feel bad and sad, and have trouble letting ourselves be happy. We have such a hard time letting someone love us. Why do we think we deserve the bad things that happen but not the good? Are we conditioned to think it is wrong to be happy, to be joyful? We can change our way of thinking, it's not easy, but it can be done. Write down the thoughts that will do you good, write them where you will see them often. On your bathroom mirror, post it on your desk, on your refrigerator and anywhere else you will see them often. Change your life one thought at a time. Say your mantra out loud and believe each one.

I am lovable and deserve to be loved.
I am loved and can love others.
I am sexy and am not afraid to let others see that.
I am fun to be with.
I am boring when I don’t like the person I’m with.
I am interesting.
I deserve happiness.
I have made mistakes and that is Okay, I can let them go.
I can cut poisonous people out of my life.
No one can make me feel guilty.
I can succeed, I will succeed and I succeeded.
I will look for joy in each day.
I will have the relationship that I want, I will not settle for less.

Your list may be similar or totally different. Make your list reflect what is important to you and what you need help with. Do not give up; keep repeating your phrases and they will eventually sink in. You will begin attracting what you ask for. 

2011 Moira G Gallaga ©


Diplo-tales: Cheese Sensation - Bistro Bis, Washington DC

Bing, my husband and I love to try new restaurants, delis, diners and dives. Even if it is a new place just around the corner, we make it a point to have breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner to check it out.

The last time we were in Washington D.C. we were really looking for a deli because we were craving for some cheesy delights, but the hotel concierge told us about a contemporary French restaurant called Bistro Bis.  She highly recommended it and said that they had the best cheese plate in Washington. Our mouths really started to water when Jenny, our concierge, told us that they had 22 ripe delicacies to sample. She was still rattling off the menu as we were running out the door.

We had no trouble finding Bistro Bis. It is located inside the Hotel George on Capitol Hill on the senate side of the hill. It was a beautiful day and we decided to have al fresco dining. We were seated right away and were very impressed with the service. We were dressed smart casual and fit in with the rest of the diners.

The lunch menu was amazing. We had our hearts set on delicious brie or a sharp Swiss, but we still wanted to see what else Bistro Bis had to offer. The couple next to us had French Onion soup and an Angus beef burger. I am sure we looked like a couple of voyeurs, as we could not stop staring at their meals. Everything looked and smelled delicious. Before we got to the cheese menu, we decided to order an appetizer. I ordered the steak tar tare, and Bing went for the duck liver parfait. We were starving and did not have to wait long for our food. Our starters arrived almost immediately and were very tasty, but we still had room for what we came for.
Duck Parfait

One look at the menu and we knew we had come to the right place. I like cow cheese and had to try the Chaource. It is double-crème French brie that melts in your mouth. I also ordered the Fiscalini cheddar and the Italian Piemonte. My plate would not be complete without a couple of blue vein selections, so I decided on the Vale of Belvoir and the Avilia, which is a decadent goat Roquefort. My husband loves goat cheese and he ordered the Pyrenees, which is firm and comes from France. Our waiter told us that it was very nutty and meaty. The rest of his platter included Willow Hill Vermont Brebis, which is a soft camembert, Puglia, which is crumbly and dense, and a soft and creamy delight called Bouc Emissaire. Our waiter was very persuasive and talked us into the Piper’s Pyramid and the Couronne Locoise.

When our plates arrived, we knew that our concierge and waiter knew what they were talking about. The Pyramid that our waiter recommended was firm and creamy and had a delicious lemon flavour, and the Fiscalini cheddar melted in my mouth. The Roquefort was the best that I have ever had and is something that I will go back to Bistro Bis for. I have tried to find this blue vein elsewhere, but have had no luck. The experience in Bistro Bis from appetizer to main course was remarkable.

This time, I was able to hold myself and had the dessert last just like all humans and had their Citrus Crème Brûlée; a special custard decorated with orange zest and grand marnier dipped madeleines. 
Citrus Crème Brûlée
If you love cheese and are in the Washington DC area, you have to try Bistro Bis. Bring your appetite and you will not be disappointed.

Spotting and Stopping Child Abuse

Spotting and Stopping Child Abuse:
by: Moira G Gallaga


Two to Do ... in Budapest

Whether you’re stopping off for a couple of days as part of a European tour or making Budapest your  final destination, get hold of a 3-day travel pass and get off the beaten track to see more of this wonderful city, the Jewel of the Danube. Here are two visits to make, sure to add to your sense of having glimpsed beneath the surface of this multi-layered, metropolis.

Great Synagogue in Dohány 
First, head to the Great Synagogue in Dohány (‘Tobacco’) Street, near the Astoria metro station in the inner city of Pest. Recently restored, the Great Synagogue is a bustling and vibrant meeting place, a magnet for locals from the nearby Jewish quarter and visitors from all over the world. Built in the mid-19th century in a Byzantine-Moorish style, this stunning synagogue boasts almost 3,000 seats (with separate galleries for women), along with a majestic 5000-tube organ. Like other parts of the city, the original building suffered damage from the bombs of the Second World War, during which it also served as a collection point from which the Nazis dispatched Budapest Jews off to extermination camps. It has a tale to tell that only a guided tour of the interior, the gardens and the adjoining Jewish museum can convey. It is probably best summed up by the haunting ‘Tree of Life’ memorial, a willow tree whose leaves are inscribed with names of Hungary’s holocaust victims.

Next, another kind of community space altogether. Take the metro out west to Kós Károly Tér, followed by the 194 bus and you’ll end up in Budapest’s XIX district, on the Wekerle Estate. An early 20th century experiment in social planning, and influenced in no small part by the early garden cities of England, the Wekerle Estate was built between 1909 and 1926 as a self-contained garden suburb to house 20,000 lower-paid Budapest workers. It retains its unique, Transylvanian style to this day. Tree-lined, intersecting streets made up of 16 different designs of gabled houses and colourful apartment blocks combine with churches, a police station, schools and other social amenities to make this area a lively, low-rise oasis in the middle of Budapest’s urban sprawl. Well worth a visit. 
Wekerle Estate