Brewing a seasoned diplomat

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Macaspac addressing the Filipino community at the PCG

Consul Chuck bids HK goodbye


THE perfect beer brew, said Consul Charles Andrei Macaspac, requires the right temperature, enough patience, and the correct ingredients to balance the sweet and the bitter and to bring out the fizzle and the body of the liquor.

“It’s like a science experiment. Ang dami mong kailangang bantayan na factors,” he said in an interview with Hong Kong News on June 8 at the Philippine Consulate General.

He said the barley would have to be steeped for about an hour in hot (but not too hot) water to keep the enzymes alive. These living enzymes would then become sugar.

Depending on the “beer style”, the barley would then be boiled for an hour and at certain intervals, the hops would be mixed with the barley.

These hops, Macaspac said, would provide the beer’s bitter taste. However, one must immediately cool the concoction to avoid esters forming, which could give an off flavor to the brew.

“At the same time, doon kailangan mag-ingat na sterile lahat, kasi kapag na-infect mo ang beer, sablay din ang lasa,” he said.

When the concoction has cooled enough, it should then be transferred to a container and shake it to allow oxygen to come in. Only then one puts the yeast, which would eat the sugar, becoming the wort whose byproduct is the liquor.

“Pwedeng i-bote mo na siya at saka ka magtitimpla ng konting tubig at cornsugar kasi iyon ag ihahalo mo doon. Iyon na ang kakain uli ng yeast para pagbukas mo ng bote in another two weeks, mayroong head o foam ang beer, otherwise, flat ang beer mo,” Macaspac said.

Since 2013 he was able to brew six batches of one gallon of beer. The process of brewing beer, which he learned in 2013 from a one-day course at the HK Brew Craft in Central, could be likened to his journey from a fresh college graduate whose first job was a call center agent in Makati to a diplomat assigned in Hong Kong, one of the busiest overseas posts for Philippine diplomats.

Macaspac is set to go back on June 27 to the Philippines after his six-year stint in Hong Kong.

As his first overseas post, he said he was thankful that he was assigned to Hong Kong, calling it an “excellent training ground” where his experience would “surely” help him in his “future postings” for the rest of his career.

Macaspac arrived in Hong Kong on June 27, 2010 and barely two months after, eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in Manila during a botched attempt to rescue them from a hostage-taking incident.

“It was my baptism of fire. It happened on a Monday (August 23), so for the next two days – Tuesday and Wednesday – 20 groups filed protests here. Across the political spectrum of Hong Kong, both proand anti-Hong Kong government united for this particular issue,” he said.

Macaspac said he was thankful for the guidance of then Consul General and now Ambassador Claro Cristobal during those “trying times”.

“We had to think on our feet. Everything happened so fast. Understandably, if the situation was reversed, I’m sure a lot of Filipinos would be very angry with how things were handled,” he said, adding that the most challenging times for him were when he received petitions from various groups, both from the civil ones and the impassioned ones.

Before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2008, Macaspac held a number of jobs from 2003. First he was a call center agent for Sykes, handling the account for “Pitney Bowes”, which allows business enterprises in the US to mail their brochures, and newsletters without buying stamps from the post office.

“I lasted all of six months. Doon ko naranasang mag Christmas Eve and New Year’s eve sa office. I said to myself, hindi bale ng P8,000 ang sweldo ko basta pang-umaga. It was really not for me,” he said.

Next up was a two-week stint with then Inquirer TV, which was shown on Channel 5, and indeed his salary was P8,000.

“Hindi defined ang oras namin. It was fulfilling pero talagang pagod, at ang salary ko natupad nga ang pangarap ko na pang-umaga pero P8,000,” Macaspac said with a laugh.

It was between his job as a call center agent and a production assistant that he took the preliminary exams at the DFA.

While awaiting the results of the exams, Macaspac then worked in the sales and marketing department of Cravings restaurants, booking and supervising functions and events. He lasted three months before taking a job at SPi Technologies as a copy editor.

“We edited scientific journals at kahit wala ako naiintindihan sa binabasa ko basta ma-ensure mo na nagconform sa style manual ng particular na journal, tama iyon,” said Macaspac.

With flexible schedule, generous salary and overtime pays, he stayed about three and a half years at SPi.

It was that time that he completed the five rounds of exams to join the DFA. At the DFA, his first job was a desk officer at the European Union section.

Macaspac said that he was originally supposed to be assigned to Budapest in Hungary, and was surprised that his final assignment turned out to be Hong Kong.

“It was a blessing in disguise kasi iba din talaga ang training dito. It’s an excellent training ground kung paano ka makisama sa mga tao ke nasa kaliwa or nasa far right. It all boils down to pakikisama sa lahat ng nandito,” he added.

Although Macaspac is looking forward to staying in the Philippines for two years before his next foreign posting, he said that he would miss Cantonese food, specifically “roast goose”.