Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Cherry Samuya Veric: More than just Glitz and Glam

A Filipino designer has been showcasing his collections for three consecutive years at the Western Canada Fashion Week (WCFW), the longest running event of its kind in Alberta, and the second largest in Canada. Cherry Samuya Veric, known for his classic silhouettes and stunning detailed work, has been showcased in the International Collections segment of the fashion event, even featured as a closer for the night.
In his WCFW debut in 2017, Cherry brought his 26-piece collection of evening wear "Viva", his favourite collection to date. This was the same collection presented when he was chosen to close the 20th anniversary of Philippine Fashion Week, known as the Olympics of Philippine fashion, and a career highlight for Cherry. Viva is his tribute to the Ati-Atihan Festival and the Sto. Niño, as he hails from Aklan and is a Sto. Niño devotee. This collection was described as "a breathtaking collection... on the story of West meeting East through a fusion of indigenous patterns and modern forms. The lean lines and stunning visuals emphasized the alluring stylishness of ethnic patterns, and by mixing native designs with modern cosmopolitan trends. Veric proved that native design can be very appealing on a global scale." This collection featured a staggering amount of sequins to form the ethnic patterns. Needless to say, this was a great hit in his debut appearance in Edmonton. He would later bring this collection to Fashion Weeks in Paris, and New York.

In 2018, with the WCFW theme on Diversity, Cherry drew inspiration from Game of Thrones, and translated it into daily and evening wear. And in 2019, he brought his "Homage" collection, inspired by church frescoes, with fabrics that looked like paintings, paying homage to the romance and art of the Old Masters. Cherry is honoured and humbled to be presented for consecutive years by the Western Canada Fashion Week. His participation is a great platform for international exposure for him, but is a source of pride for the Filipino community here. I'm not sure he realizes enough the impact of his presence in this event.

The love for design was evident as a young child. Cherry remembers dressing up his sister's Barbie dolls with different fabrics, yarn and lace from their family's store. As an undergraduate, he was an abstract painter, joining visual arts competitions organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. This is why I believe his designs show fluidity in its lines and detailing, has drama, and has an affinity to works of art, particularly of the Renaissance period.

Right after graduating with a Fine Arts degree with a major in Advertising at the Far Eastern University, he landed a contract in Saudi Arabia by accident. He was accompanying a friend to the interview and ended up being offered the job. After his 2-year stint there, he went to Guangzhou, then Dubai. In between, he joined Season 2 of Project Runway Philippines, ending as one of the last 2 finalists. He recalls rushing from the airport and straight to the auditions, where he was the last applicant. This is where Cherry met Tessa Prieto, who was one of the judges and has since become his muse.

A Cherry Samuya Veric design is known as a work of classicism, alluring silhouette, and true workmanship of intricate patterns and hand sewn details. They are haute couture luxurious, glamorous, bold, personalized, yet wearable, taking months to create. He has been honoured as Top Haute Couture Designer of the Year 2016 during the Fashion Asia Awards in Chongquing, China. His works have been favoured by: beauty queens Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss World 2013 Megan Young, Miss International 2016 Kyle Versoza, Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup-Lee; actresses Marian Rivera, Anne Curtis, Bea Alonzo.

I met up with Cherry along with his good friend Edge Gabrador, who is in charge of the Asian Division for Western Canada Fashion Week, and responsible for bringing Cherry Veric for 3 years along with Julius Tarog in 2018. The person I met is a reticent guy, confident in his capabilities and achievements but not overbearing. Evidently a smart and astute guy in the way he approaches life, faces challenges, intuitively designs and brings out a facet of a client, and conveys a point through his designs. Our conversations reveal a person who is grounded, who dreams but at the same time is aware of the pitfalls of the industry that has a very thin boundary line between glamour and superficiality. And yet, seeing him groove while taking a smoke break with his headphones, he is capable of enjoying the moment and just going with the flow. I guess this is why big things happen for him, even when not highly sought. I shared some planned and dream projects for the Philippine Arts Council, and he totally got it. It is an exciting moment when people connect this way. Here's hoping that Cherry Samuya Veric returns to our part of town once again and soon. And this time on a more extended and synergetic enterprise.

* This article was published in the April 2019 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Art for Social Change: Viscosity and The Right to Exist

In this past month, I attended two events that remarkably utilized art to deliver messages for social change. The first was Theatre Yes' "Viscosity", which ran from November 7-17, and "The Right to Exist: An Evening of Arts and Culture", presented by Migrante Alberta and Climate Justice Edmonton, last December 8.

Viscosity was a uniquely staged production in the manner of performance and installation, tackling real life stories of people working in the front line of the oil industry. It featured a powerhouse cast - Chris Bullough, Leo Campus Aldunez, Murray Farnell, Byron Martin, Sandy Paddick, Melissa Thingelstad, and our very own, Filipino Jimmy Buena. This performance thrust people to engage in one-on-one encounters with the actors, absorbing the highs and lows of their respective experiences. The vignettes were culled from transcripts of interviews and delivered verbatim. The most heartrending of which was the story of a Filipino worker entangled in the ploys of an illegal recruiter. Jimmy Buena delivered a compelling portrayal, and I saw several in the audience in tears.

The production garnered rave reviews: ... unlike anything we've seen on Edmonton's stages before (Jenna Marynowski, After the House Lights); ... I invoke no hyperbole at all when I say it was one of the most engaging and enjoyable artistic experiences of my life (Dylan Howard, film director). We may know and have heard of experiences like these in the oil industry, but this staging just brought things to the heart. The transcripts of the interviews made for Viscosity will be provided to the Alberta Labour History Institute. Theatre Yes is a company dedicated to "responding to local, national and international conversations in thought-provoking ways". To know more about their work, go to

The Right to Exist: An Evening of Arts and Culture, was held in commemoration of International Human Rights Day and International Migrants' Day. It brought together activists, supporters, and artists across the Treaty 6 territory. It was a night of music, spoken word, visual arts, and thought provoking
messages. The blessing was given by Elder Eli Green. Different cultures were represented in the performances provided by: drumming by Carol Powser and Chubby Cheeks (Noah), 8 year-old with a powerful voice; dry humour from comedian Mav Adecer; soulful and passionate singing by Chilean Marianela Adasme, Jesse Cunningham, Lyla Luciano, and trio Gregie Flores, Gina May Ramirez and Gemalil Bonaobra; spoken words by Shima Robinson and Brandon Wint. The performances addressed issues of displacement, racism, advocacy, and healing. Whitney Haynes shared her insights from a trip to the Philippines where indigenous tribes were violently displaced and abused, in favour of Canadian mining business. Visual artist Yazmin Juarez exhibited works of exploring the imagination and of art as the balance and catalyst for social awareness, specially made for the event.

Art breaks down language barriers. Even when performed in a foreign tongue, the passion and spirit of the delivery still sends the message across. Interestingly enough, the issues that had roots from one culture resonates in various levels with another culture, setting and time. This demonstrates that these are universal issues, that events have a ripple effect across humanity, and that people don't live in silos.

Both events made me ache and naively wonder how these things can happen in our world. It made me grateful that there are people who go beyond their comfort zones and continue to push these issues into our awareness. All of us, in whatever capacity, i.e. artists, activists advocates, can be galvanized into action and heed John F. Kennedy's words "One person can make a difference, and everyone should try".

* This article was published in the December 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

Monday, 19 November 2018

2018 National Artists - Seven Stalwarts of Philippine Art

Seven icons in art and culture were bestowed National Artist status by President Rodrigo Duterte in a ceremony last October 24, 2018 at Malacañang Palace. Do you know the songs Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika, Paraisong Parisukat and Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka? Have you been to The Coconut Palace or seen the San Miguel Building in Pasig? Do you remember chuckling at the humour of the Mang Ambo and Slice of Life comics? These are just some of the works of these artists. The 2018 National Artists are: Larry Alcala (for Visual Arts), Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio (Theatre), Ryan Cayabyab (Music), Francisco Mañosa (Architecture), Resil Mojares and Ramon Muzones (both for Literature), and Kidlat Tahimik (Cinema). The awards are bestowed posthumously for Alcala and Muzones. This brings to 73 the total of proclaimed National Artists of the Philippines, the highest national recognition bestowed on Filipinos who have made significant contributions to their artistic field.

Cartoonist and illustrator Larry Alcala is best known for his Slice of Life which depicts the quirks of the Filipino psyche. He pioneered animation for tv commercials in the late 1950s, and was given the title Dean of Filipino Cartoonists. He is the creator of 500 cartoon characters, 20 comic strips, six movies, two murals, and 15,000 published pages of comic strips.

Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio is the founder of Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, a children's theatre and puppetry company based in the University of the Philippines (UP). Known as the Grand Dame of Southeast Asian Children's Theatre, she was also the chairperson of the UP's Creative Writing Program. Her literary output covers 20 books, 40 plays, 130 stories, and a number of essays and research on theatre.

Musician, composer and conductor Ryan Cayabyab, aka Mr. C, is probably the most famous composer of the century, having crossed over many disciplines and industries. His body of works range from theatre musicals, commissioned full-length ballets, an opera, a Mass, popular music, film scores, tv specials, and orchestral pieces. He has been a recipient of numerous awards, i.e. Philippines' Ten Outstanding Young Men, 2001 Onassis International Competition in Greece, as well as accolades from the film, television and recording industries.

Architect Francisco Bobby Mañosa is known for his designs using indigenous materials and forms (i.e. bahay kubo, bahay na bato), combined with modern building technology. Among his iconic designs are: the Coconut Palace; Amanpulo Resort in Palawan; Pearl Farm in Samal Island; Shangri-La Hotel in Mactan; the San Miguel Building in Mandaluyong; and the EDSA Shrine. He was among those proclaimed National Artists in 2009 by President Gloria Arroyo but was rescinded by the Supreme Court due to legalities in the proclamation.

Writer, historian and literary critic Resil Mojares' writings focus on literary criticism, urban and rural history, and political biography. He is the founder of the Cebuano Studies Center, a library and research center dedicated to Cebuano culture and history. Because of his significant work on Visayan literature, he is touted by peers as Visayan Titan of Letters. He has won numerous National Book Awards by the Manila Critics Circle and was honoured with a Gawad Balagtas award from the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL).

Ramon Muzones completed his law degree at the Central Philippine University in Iloilo City. He founded Sumakwelan, a group of Hiligaynon writers, and has 62 novels to his name. He was awarded the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas from UMPIL in 1988, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Gawad para sa Sining in 1989. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 79.

Kidlat Tahimik (real name Eric de Guia) is widely regarded as the father of independent Philippine cinema. He earned his MBA from Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School and worked in Paris for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It was a chance meeting and a small role in Werner Herzog's film that started Kidlat's film career. His first film, Perfumed Nightmare in 1977, won the International Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival. Since then, he has acquired international and local awards for his films, and has inspired filmmakers to pursue their vision, independent of commercialism.

These are some of the artists who have forged paths in Philippine art and culture and are a source of national pride. The bestowment of the National Artist Award is valuable in that nominations come from peers and as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines, is the highest state honour conferred to artists. May the legacy of all National Artists continue to be recognized and appreciated by Filipinos, in the Philippines and globally, for the present and the succeeding years.

* This article was published in the November 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Emerging Fashion Designer: Fely Agader, the Dragon Lady

During the Philippine Heritage Month Declaration for the City of Fort Saskatchewan last June 2018, I met a Filipina who had an impressive table display of beaded and embroidered handicrafts, notably a detached wired beaded butterfly sleeves (which took her 60 hours to create) and an elaborately and painstakingly embroidered dragon jacket. And that lady is Fely Agader.

Fely hails from Cavite and grew up in a family engaged in the clothing industry. Her mother sewed uniforms and her aunt designed, sewed and beaded clothes for Lily Monteverde, the film mogul aka as Mother Lily. Even at an early age, Fely did embroidery for the family and would sketch her own designs. Having studied Foreign Service at university, Fely worked as an English-Arabic interpreter in Jeddah then in Dubai with Prince Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. She also worked in Hong Kong before moving to Canada in 2006. She is conversant in Arabic, Nippongo, Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin. 

In Canada, she started creating embroidered and/or beaded handicrafts, retailing them in farmers markets and craft sales. The detailing of her work lead to customized requests which resulted in expanding her business to include wedding trails, christening gowns and creating her own lace.

In 2009, she decided to pursue formal studies in fashion design, to fulfill a life long desire and as a means to distract herself while battling (and surviving) cancer. Her first collection, "D Fire", in her recent graduation fashion show was a play on the dragon and yin yang symbols, which are a representation of her personality. The dragon is known as a symbol of power and strength. It may be silent when undisturbed but fiery when provoked. The yin and yang symbols speaks of her philosophy of balance in life. Her collection presented an interesting use and match of different fabrics, with embroidery detailing in unexpected ways. Her designs, geared towards adult women, are "simple, clean cut, but elegant". It was impressive enough that she has received three internship offers in Edmonton fashion houses. In addition, Fely still plans to spend more time back in the Philippines to do more work on Philippine fabric as she plans to expand her collection on Filipiniana clothes.

On November 24, Fely will hold her first ever solo fashion show featuring 50 designs
in celebration of her 50th birthday. With a business tagline of "Skin doesn't matter" she aims for her collection to appeal across cultures. In fact, she has designs specifically for Fort Saskatchewan MLA Jessica Littlewood, and Mayor Gale Katchur, who have gamely agreed to walk the runway. In getting to know Fely, I believe that her collection will reflect her innate sense of creativity, good eye for detail, and craftsmanship. I wish her all the best in her career, and in her life, and live the words of prominent designer Diane von Furstenberg, "I wanted to be a certain kind of woman. I became that kind of woman."

The Agader Fashion and Designs Show is on November 24, 2018 at the Pioneer House,10102 100 Avenue, Fort Saskatchewan. Doors open at 7 pm and show starts at 8 pm. Free admission. For further inquiries on the show and Fely's design services, email

* This article was published in the October 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Hannah Adamson: The One, and the Star

One of the delightful surprises during my work on Emma the Musical came in the form of pint sized and spritely Hannah Adamson. The youngest of the cast members, she handed me her artist's resume on my first day of rehearsal for the production so "I will get to know her better". At the Emma performance, a number of people inquired about her, noting her stage presence and earnestness of her performance.

Hannah is the only child of Douglas and Vilma Adamson. A precocious child, she was singing songs she had heard only once or twice when she was 2. She started performing at age 4, singing in family and social functions, and continued later on doing guest stints in community events, front acts for visiting artists (Maja Salvador, Pooh, Bamboo), singing competitions, and musicals. At age 10, she's already had her own sold out solo concert. She has won in competitions like St. Albert's Got Talent and Futures Fest. Last summer, Hannah competed in the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Long Beach, California. Despite a lack of dedicated preparation for the competition since she was deep into the production of Emma (in fact heading straight to the airport a few hours after the performance to fly to the US), she still managed to garner: 2 Silver medals for Original and Contemporary Songs; a Gold for Broadway category; Gold for the Finals - as the top 5 out of 400 in her division; and received a plaque for Overall Winner of the Broadway category. It should be noted that the song she performed in the Original Song category, "The One", is her own composition.

During the Emma production, Hannah was relentless and exhibited enthusiasm in learning - asking tips for acting, how to execute complicated dance steps, etc. In between rehearsals, she would pull us to choreograph her musical theatre entry, which we were pleased to learn was the piece that brought her to the finals in WCOPA, gave her a Gold medal, and made her the Overall Winner for the Broadway category. Some people may regard this as a kind of pestering, but she is such a sweet and affectionate girl with sponge-like absorption of every correction and advice, that you can't help but entertain and nourish this passion and curiosity.

Hannah's zest for life and adventurous spirit is evident in her various interests: aside from singing (both as a solo artist and part of a school choir), she plays the piano, drums, guitar; does ballet, hiphop, jazz, modelling, acting, skating, swimming; has won awards for her writing; composes songs; and still manages to be a top student in her class. Even with all these activities though, truth be told, I think her parents are more exhausted than her.

With her talents and all her achievements, it is stirring to see her parents' dedication in supporting her endeavours, making sure she gets the opportunities she needs to grow, but at the same time making sure she enjoys her childhood, and grows up aware of her dual heritage. So yes, they may remark about being tired or craving for more time, but they are definitely, deep down, proud of their daughter.

Unfortunately, not everything is rosy and bright for Hannah. She has her fair share of catty remarks and attitude from peers, perhaps jealous of her achievements and popularity. When confronted with the taunting, she keeps quiet and ignores the negativity, and releases her emotions and thoughts by composing her own songs - creating the melody, doing the musical arrangement, and writing the lyrics. Her songs "The One" and "Stars" are expectant and philosophical. They talk about soaring towards your dreams, of not being pushed to the ground when people put you down, of being strong and true to yourself. She is able to go beyond her peers' animosity as she maintains that her singing is not a way of showing off, but a means of expressing herself and developing her talent. Wise words from such a young girl.

Now opportunities are opening up for Hannah - for performances, projects, possible recordings. Up next in the near future is a plan to do a music video for her next composition. Equipped with talent, grit, and the support of her parents, the world is at Hannah Adamson's feet. A word of advice though, for this young prodigy - always remember where you came from, the people who helped you along the way, and give credit where credit is due. Not only will you be a true and good artist, but a much better person for doing so. And with that, you will embody what you aspire for in the songs that you have written so profoundly - the One and the Star.

* This article was published in the September 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Rommel Tingzon and Gordon Snyder: A Filipino-Canadian Story of Arts Patronage

In the recent The Works Art & Design Festival, a young Filipino painter from Palawan, Rommel Tingzon, had his own exhibition entitled Portraits of the Philippines, at the Manulife Place, up until the end of August. There is no doubt that Rommel is talented but he is also undeniably fortunate to have an advocate for his talent and work, in the person of Gordon Snyder, Canadian artist and curator.

Gordon, who lives part time in Palawan, met Rommel in 2017 and was stunned to find 200 recent paintings rolled up in a small room, distinguishing Rommel as the most prolific painter in the area, and marking him as a true artist who really just wants to draw and paint. From then on, Gordon worked on having Rommel featured at The Works Festival, and for financially setting him up for post-secondary studies at the Far Eastern University (FEU) Institute for Architecture and Fine Arts this year.

Rommel's exhibit at The Works, according to Amber Rooke, Executive Artistic Director, is significant in terms of "cultural exchange as well as in the invitation and inclusion in The Works Festival of the substantial Filipino community in Edmonton." It is also the first time that an artist from the Philippines has had a solo exhibition at The Works. It also marked Rommel's first ever exhibition! It was well-received and garnered a lot of media attention. The local art critic cited one of Rommel's works as being his favourite of all the works in the 2018 festival.
When I met Rommel during The Works, he had that bewildered look with him - perhaps due to jet lag, or the surrealness of travelling to, and having an exhibit in, Canada. He is soft spoken, introverted but deeply reflective. Painting for him is a means of expression and a safe zone, where he is the most comfortable and secure. Even with no formal art training, his artworks are striking, bold and impressive. Rommel signs his works with a mirror image of his signature, to convey to the viewer that the work is a reflection of himself.

Excited as I was about Rommel's discovery and journey, I was more deeply touched by Gordon Snyder's unselfish support to the young artist. In the same way the Medici family was to Michelangelo and Queen Elizabeth was to Shakespeare, arts patrons enable artists to pursue whatever they want in style, subject, concept, and medium. The chance of a benefactor appearing, especially in rural Philippines, is unlikely, and in addition, with a triple whammy gift of education, exhibit, and travel.
As an art student, Gordon was mentored by Illingworth Kerr, an artist who studied with the Canada Group of Seven and became the Head of the Alberta College of Art. Gordon explains, "He was someone who saw more talent within me than I saw in myself and helped bring it out of me." This is the same belief that propels his support for Rommel. "In my mind, I see Rommel gaining that same confidence in himself - that someone so believes in him (and not only his talent) that he can learn and grow and perhaps someday work with me. I want him to have time to mature, study art history, improve his English skills and prepare himself for a career in the arts. I want to encourage his independence and recognize the uniqueness of his personal journey. Many years are spent building networks and nurturing relationships. Getting him an exhibition at The Works and taking him to Canada, and sending him to FEU shows him dreams can come true if you work hard and are true to yourself. When the time is right, I'd like to find a good gallery in Manila to represent him. Right now, I don't want money to be his main concern. If I can write about him and promote his work, I would enjoy that. Ultimately, it is the quality of his work that is what is important."

I have written features of Filipino artists working within the Canadian setting - of overcoming hurdles and of maximizing the opportunities in the adoptive country. This is my first story of a budding Filipino artist in the Philippines, provided unsolicited support by a Canadian artist, bringing him exposure in Canada and at the same time providing a pathway to artistic success and economic stability. This is a true and unique Filipino-Canadian arts dynamic, and an inspiring story on arts patronage. Gordon's support, however, is not an unlimited free pass - "I do have limited funds and hope he will work hard and get some scholarships." But it is a far-reaching one that hopefully will be picked up, or supplemented, by other arts patrons as well. Because there is no doubt that Filipino artists are immensely talented. And wherever they are, in any discipline, in whatever form, we must support our artists. Because investment in the artist, is a cultural and social investment.

Rommel Tingzon's exhibit will be up at Manulife Place in downtown Edmonton until end of August. For inquiries or interest on his works, email

* This article was published in the August 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Ely Rowen Salar: Whisking Magic from Imagination to Palate

One of the best things I enjoy in writing my articles is meeting people and encountering creativity and excellence in sometimes the most unexpected ways. One such case is Calgary-based, multi-awarded Ely Rowen Salar, Head Pastry Chef of the Hotel Arts Group. Pastries are a different level of art. According to Ron Ben-Israel, chef and owner of one of the finest couture cake studios, "Pastry is different from cooking because you have to consider the chemistry, beauty and flavour."

Born in Bukidnon but raised in Tacloban, Ely's passion for baking had its roots in his parents' bakery and catering business, where he insisted on working as a young boy. He then realized it was something he wanted to do as a career. He took up Hotel and Restaurant Management in university, had his internship in Virginia, USA and worked as a culinary operations supervisor. Later on he moved for work to the Fairmont in Dubai, to a French-American restaurant in Singapore, and then to Russell, Manitoba.

Even while working on the management part of the industry, his creative side fueled the desire to become a pastry chef. Fortunately, despite a lack of experience in the field, he was offered a job as pastry cook, where he worked hard to prove himself and got promoted four times in less than three years, to be recognized as a pastry chef.

Ely's pastry creations are like pieces of jewelry, showing unbelievable artistry and sense of design with shapes, symmetry and colour. They are exquisite to the point that cutting through the pastry might make you feel guilty. And the flavours assault you with both the familiar and unexpected, as he always aims to put a twist to classic flavours. And these are validated by the numerous awards he has garnered. For this year alone, he was the overall Winner of the Pastry Chef Showcase Competition, on top of winning the Best Plated Dessert Category and the Lindt Chocolate Showpiece Category, effectively sweeping all the awards. He also was the Winner of the Lindt Chocolate Showpiece Competition at the Pastry Chef Showcase 2016, and 2nd Place for Contemporary Cake Category and People's Choice Award at the Calgary Sugarcraft Cake Competition 2015.

In the recent Balik Kultura, a culinary tribute to Philippine culture spearheaded along with three other Filipino chefs, i.e. Rupert Garcia, Jose Battad, and Zac Ardena, Ely's dessert pieces were in the shapes of Philippine fruits like macopa, mango and guava, which featured ube macapuno flavours with a coconut mousse, purple yam sponge and candied coconut strings. This was accompanied with kalamansi bonbons designed with symbols of the Philippine flag and came with a chocolate coconut shell. Words are not enough to describe his creations. You just have to see and savour them.

Aside from his stint with Hotel Arts Group, Ely is also the Education Board of Director of Philippine Culinary Federation of Canada (PCFC) and a member of SAIT's Baking and Pastry Arts Advisory Committee. Through these initiatives, he aims to share his skills and knowledge to aspiring pastry chefs and cooks. Recognizing the value of constant learning in honing your craft, Ely himself ceaselessly does research, training on latest trends, learning from the best chefs in the world, and joins competitions to challenge himself. His recent campaign is to "shed light on the true value of Filipino cuisine, build a better stage upon which to celebrate and elevate the Filipino food experience", and bring it to the forefront of the hospitality industry.

To quote Anthony Bourdain, "Food is everything we are. It's an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go." Ely Rowen Salar, in pursuing his childhood passion with determination, is doing great things both for his personal career and the Filipino psyche. Once upon a time, chefs were nameless and faceless people toiling in a back room of a restaurant. Today, however, they are conferred celebrity-like status, with their names attached to their creations, whose movements are tracked, and are the reason people go to their restaurants. To fully appreciate Ely's work, check him out in Instagram @elypatissier, the Hotel Arts website, or better yet, go and have a taste at the Hotel Arts. Not only will it fill your sense of sight and taste, but your sense of pride as well, knowing that the brains and skill behind the plated designer sweets before you, is a Filipino.

This article was published in the July 2018 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.