Craft gin goes full circle in the Philippines

Matthew Westfall has the backstory of a leading man on a quest to make his country, the Philippines, the darling in one of the biggest industries in the world – gin. His mission is filled with irony though, given that the Philippines is already the number one country in the world in terms of gin consumption – that’s 46% of the total world consumption. But with a global industry worth more than USD$3 billion, the Philippines barely makes a dent at about 2% of the market thanks to gin being labeled as a drink from the streets.

Best of Digressions

On wine pairings, the Batmobile, and tasting a wine that Napoleon himself drank

“In France, it’s never a complete meal unless you have two things: wine and dessert.” Inside this bottle is both. 

There will always be that one dish that will change your perception of how a particular meal is prepared. With liquor, it’s always a bottle – usually a small, quirky one, that changes your entire worldview of how a drink should be enjoyed. In my personal journey with alcoholic libations it was a bottle of Lagavulin 16 that introduced me to the nuances of peated whiskey and a bottle of Four Pillars that made pairing gin with a proper tonic a science. I haven’t experienced a similar feeling with wine, until that one night in November when I dropped by La Piazza, Okada Manila’s Italian restaurant and wine cellar. 

Hans Astrom (EVP of Klein Constantia), Donna Manio (PR Manager of Okada Manila), me, and OKada Manila Sommelier Damien Robert Planchenault

Napoleon’s wine

What I thought would be a normal run off the mill tasting and pairing took an interesting turn towards dessert. The featured wines for the evening were from the Klein Constantia Estate, with 300 years of history making wines. Founded in 1685, the estate is located at the southernmost tip of the continent. Their most famous bottle is a natural sweet wine called Vin de Constance. I will just lift the description of this wine from their website, because there is no better way to say it,

“Kings vied for possession of this wine; Louis Philippe sent emissaries from France to fetch it; Napoleon drank it on the island of St Helena to find solace in his lonely exile; Frederick the Great and Bismarck ordered it; and the English Prime Minister – who had sampled it with much delight at Downing Street – made sure that regular consignments from the Cape were delivered to Buckingham Palace for the King.”

“A wine like this can only be grown at the estate,” says Hans Astrom, Executive Vice Chairman & Partner of Klein Constantia. “It is called a natural sweet wine because the grapes have to be cool when picked, so they do this in the very early morning when it is very cold. There is nothing artificial added. No sugar added, not like in other sweet wines.”

The wine of Napoleon

I was drinking a wine with over 300 years of history. A wine that has also tasted the lips of Napoleon and Frederick the Great. Right here in this Italian restaurant where a date for two will only set you back less than P2,000. What a deal.

“Damien, tell me about this. Why is this so good?”

Damien Robert Planchenault, sommelier for La Piazza sits down beside me and pours himself a glass.

“What you have in front of you is very special, very one of a kind. Wine does not need to be expensive to be good. Expensive wine is like the Batmobile. Would you drive the Batmobile? No, but because there’s only one that is why it is expensive.”

Everyone else can drive Honda or Toyota and be perfectly happy.

Car allusions aside, Damien says that Vin de Constance is good because you had it after a meal and that helps. If the weather is hot and you’re by the poolside, the hotel won’t serve you a heavy red wine. Instead they look for a light wine that goes well when served chilled. “You want the guest to come back and say ‘I want one more please.’ That is how you know you paired well.”

The evolution of taste

The wine market today is very different from before. It’s quite similar to the way coffee has elevated itself into a 3rd wave movement. “Back then we would ask what wine do you want to drink? Chile? French? Old world? New world? Now it has more to do with taste — ah! You like Cabarnet Souvignon? You like dry? Light? Sweet?” Then from there, the sommelier recommends. It has more to do with looking at similar wines you have tried in the past to match what you can enjoy in the future.

For instance, one of the most notable wines that evening (apart from that amazing Vin de Constance) was a KC White, Klein Constantia 2018 paired with caprese (mozzarella salad). It was crisp and had the typical sweetness of a white wine but just enough body to not be overwhelmed for an appetizer. Out of curiosity I google-ed the bottle was less than P600.00 online.

Okada Manila’s opulent Versace wine glasses

I think the beauty of wine appreciation and pairing necessitates how extensive the cellar is, because you can only try as much as they have. The La Piazza restaurant at Okada Manila is the cellar. Instead of walls, you have chillers lined with literally hundreds of bottles. So, if in the near future you need to educate yourself in wine appreciation, this is definitely one of the better places in Manila to go for that. 

This piece originally appeared at the Manila Bulletin’s lifestyle section.


Did Facebook replace Frame Studio for Spark AR?

Actually, no. The link is just broken.

If you’re like me — someone who wants to create a custom Facebook profile photo frame but can’t seem to find where the feature is, you’re in luck.

Back then, you could easily create a Facebook Frame using Facebook Frame Studio. But every time you click on a link from the developer help pages you get led to another site — Spark AR.

Let me save you the trouble. The old link is still active, but for some reason it got hidden and you really can’t find it in any Google search. Luckily someone posted the link on the Spark AR community group.


That should lead you to this page. What a load off my chest.

Mostly Everything

Harnessing the Power of a Business Loan: Making It Work for Your Company

It’s true that you sometimes have to spend money in order to make money. What if you have the opportunity to strengthen your company but there’s no cash on hand? One way to get the funding that you need is to look into options for instalment Smarter.Loans financing that fits your needs. Here are some examples of what you could do with the money from that instalment loan.

Reorganizing Company Debt

A smart way to restructure outstanding debt is to secure a loan with a rate of interest that’s lower than the rates on all those individual debts. Use the loan proceeds to pay off all of them. That leaves you with one obligation to manage each month. Best of all, you save money since the loan’s interest rate is lower. Go with a fixed rate as a way to protect yourself from economic shifts. Along with simplifying the debt and reducing what you’re paying in interest charges, retiring those other debts will only help your business credit rating.

Purchasing Raw Materials

You have the chance to accept a lucrative order. The only problem is that you need raw materials to produce the volume of goods needed to fill that order. How will you pay for such a high-volume purchase? Use the money from the installment loan to cover the cost of the materials. Make the goods and fill the order. Once your customer remits the payment, use it to pay off the loan. There will still be net profit and your quick turnaround increases the odds that the customer will be back with another huge order. Guess where you will go to get more money for raw materials?

Replacing Aging Equipment

All good things must come to an end. That includes equipment and machinery you’ve used for years. While it was great at one time, you need to update in order to remain competitive. The funds from an installment loan will allow you to replace key pieces of equipment and increase your operational efficiency.

Preparing for a Slow Period

Some companies experience a steady flow of orders all year long. Others have peak periods followed by lulls of two or three months. Your business happens to fall into the latter category.

Ensure that there’s money to maintain the operation by taking out an installment loan. You can use the funds to make up any temporary shortfalls in collected revenue. Once your business volume picks up after the seasonal lull, pay off the remainder of the loan.

Funding a New Marketing Campaign

Building your brand does take money. With the right sales and marketing approach, there’s the opportunity to increase awareness and reach out to new customers. You may even be able to use the campaign to penetrate new market sectors and broaden your client base. With right approach, the increased business volume will make it easy to pay off your loan ahead of time.

Along with knowing how to use the loan proceeds to best advantage, it helps to spend time comparing what different business loan lenders offer in the way of terms and conditions. Look closely at what’s required of you by each lender. This will help you choose the offer that allows you to pursue the goal and reap greater benefits from the financing arrangement.


10 Interesting facts about domain names across the world

It is a well known fact that you won’t require to be domain expert to know that the internet is growing exponentially and with each and every second somebody is registering a domain somewhere around the world.

The internet provides a lot of information when it comes to finding out interesting and amazing facts about how to find a great domain name, but there are many little known facts. The .com domain is definitely the most popular choice for TLDs, but there are also many amazing about domain names that need mentioning:

1. The first .COM domain was registered in the year 1985

It was registered under the name of on March 15 1985. The Symbolics Computer Corporation bought purchased the domain name for their new computer development association.

2. Most domains cannot be larger than 63 characters

Domain extensions can have different rules and regulations but many TLDs ask that your domain name to have a maximum of 63 characters. This is considered to be the standard number of characters.

3. It still is possible to own a Soviet Union domain

Before disappearing, the Soviet Union has had a huge involvement in the dynamics of the internet therefore the .su domain names are still present on the web. What is amazing is that the number of .su domains registrations continues to grow fast even if the Soviet Union is no more.

5. Absolutely all of “A” .com domains are currently taken

This is probably the strangest fact but it seems that after a small research providers have noticed that absolutely all domain names containing the letter A under the form of www.1-63 A’ are taken so this means that nobody can own a domain name under the form of www.AAAAA … times 63 .com.

6. The world’s most expensive domain costs $35 million

In the year 2007 the domain was purchased by Mr. Brian Sharples for the price of $35 million USD for his online vacation rental business.

There have been some pretty amazing domain name prices but this is just top of the list.

7. Domain names usually have an average length of 11 characters

A short web analysis reveals that almost all domains have an average length of 11 characters and many of them begin with the letter S most probable because many English words start with and S.

8. At first it was supposed to be

The two main Google founders, Larry Page and Sean Anderson have announced that they initially wanted to call Google “Googol” but because of a small spelling error from “googol” they wrote Google and the rest is already history.

9. Most three-character names are taken

Across the internet there are well over 50,000 possible character combinations that someone can make for a three-character domain name and all of them are already registered. Three-character domain names are extremely good to own because extremely easy to remember.

10. A person registered almost 15,000 domains in just one day

Mike Mann has managed to set a new world record because he has managed to purchase almost 14,962 domains in just the span of 24 hours. When asked what was the purpose of it he simply replied that he is very greedy person and wants to own the entire world.

Final thought

In conclusion across the globe there are over 149,153,371 registered domains and the numbers are climbing very fast as a new domain is created every 10 seconds.

It is easy to say that the internet has many interesting and fascinating sides to it from interesting domain names to some mistakes we can easily say that this world is expanding fast.