Radical Cars Philippines, in partnership with SEAOIL Philippines Inc., kick-started the 2022 SEAOIL Radical Challenge last August 27, 2022. It takes its spot in Philippine motorsport history as the first and only local race series featuring an all-Radical grid, making it the fastest race series in the country. The championship is powered by SEAOIL Extreme 97 Octane as its official fuel. Motul Philippines, a co-presenter of the race series, provides the whole grid with its 300V Performance Oil.
The driver line-up features many familiar faces such as young talent Iñigo Anton, seasoned racers Stefan Ramirez, Jason Choachuy, Gibson Yu, JV Colayco, rookie racer Brian Poe, and Mark Bumgarner; a seasoned racer in his youth, now making his much-awaited return to motorsport. These drivers represent the well-known and respected teams participating in the series: Motul PartsPro (Iñigo), Illa Racing PartsPro (Brian), EnSport (Stefan), OTR Motorsport (Mark), and TrackHos (Jason, Gibson, and JV).
The race weekend started early last August 27 with a driver briefing. Race Director Marlon Stokinger welcomed the drivers and team heads at the Motul paddock and briefed everyone on the rules and regulations of the championship, followed by a full day of 5 practice sessions for drivers and teams to prepare for Sunday’s races. At the lunch break, the organizers initiated a practice start session for drivers to get used to the rolling start procedure at the beginning of the race. Qualifying took place as the last session for the day. It was a race against the weather as a light rain began to dampen the track at the start. Despite the sudden change in conditions, Iñigo Anton put out a dominant performance to secure pole position, followed closely by Mark Bumgarner in P2 and Stefan Ramirez in P3.
Sunday’s races saw another dominant performance by Iñigo, the young driver winning all three races in his Motul SR1, securing the top spot in the driver standings. Not far behind were Stefan and Mark in a heated battle for P2 in the standings with Stefan getting the upper hand in Race 1 and 2. Mark remained consistent throughout all three races by securing three consecutive podium finishes in P3 with his SEAOIL livery SR1. Jason Choachuy surprised everyone during Race 3 by starting in P4 and finishing in P2 in the only SR3 on the grid, securing big points for his team. Brian Poe started at the back of the grid after not being able to participate in qualifying but was very much still in the fight after close battles with JV Colayco in Race 1 and Gibson Yu in Race 2.
There was a decent number of spectators in attendance during race day; a good sign for any motorsport event, especially for a championship’s maiden race weekend. Among the crowd supporting the race was SEAOIL Vice President for Corporate and Consumer Marketing Jayvee Dela Fuente and official dealer for Motul Philippines, Charlie Ong.
It was a fantastic first race weekend for the SEAOIL Radical Challenge and one for the history books. Two more weekends remain on the schedule from the 23rd to the 25th of September at the Batangas Racing Circuit.
Every crop season, farmers use more and more chemical inputs to keep up with the yield and high quality needed for harvest. This results in a vicious cycle of the need for chemical fertilizers that strip our soil of its essential nutrients. As a way to combat this anti-productive practice, the bright agripreneurs at ENVIRO have made it their mission to introduce BioFertilizers to Filipino farmers. This sustainable method has been proven to bring the soil back to its healthiest state of biodiversity and nutrition. Therefore, increasing yields by 30-40%.
Planting the Seeds for Success
To ensure the effectiveness of their BioFertilizers, ENVIRO has partnered with globally accredited specialists, government research centers, top universities, and the best scientists to bring forward an innovative product that doesn’t only benefit our environment, but also the nation’s food security. One of the company’s main missions is to achieve Balance Fertilization or the practice of bringing our soil back to its healthiest state. “Balance Fertilization enables farmers to produce a healthy increase in yield, as well as nutrient-rich crops, contributing to food for the Filipino nation that is free from destructive chemicals,” explains ENVIRO co-founder Prashant Dargani.
Research has shown that the use of BioFertilizers have increased farmer’s crop yields by 30-40% while cutting costs by at least 30-50% —making it a highly sustainable, cost-efficient method of farming. ENVIRO has also taken into consideration our local farmers’ well-being. “[We] started because we first heard about how farmers’ health was negatively affected by spraying hazardous chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the plants without wearing face masks, gloves, and [other] protective gear,” says Dargani. With ENVIRO’s BioFertilizers, farmers are risk-free, because the product significantly lowers environmental pollution and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by severely restricting the use of manufactured chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Finally, price points for their products have been specifically designed for farmers. “Sobrang laki po talaga ng tulong ng Enviro samin,” says Mr. Jun Alcantara, a Local Farmer Technician (LFT) from Nueva Ecija. “Kitang kita po talaga and tagumpay.”
Changing the Future Today
ENVIRO highly encourages soil rejuvenation, knowing that there would be no future without it. “We need to do it today,” Dargani explains. “We need to be able to rejuvenate the earth back to a constant state of rich nutrients and bio-availability. Without this, we will never achieve food security. As we take care of the earth, so does it take care of us.” To help achieve this brighter tomorrow, the company has closely worked with farmers by providing them with on-the-ground training on how to maximize the use of Bio-fertilizers. These training centers focus on teaching them how to get higher yields, how to protect their crops against destructive pests, and how to use the latest farming technologies and systems.
The agripreneurs behind ENVIRO has built the organization on the mission of changing how farming is done, rather than trying to introduce “trendy” organic farming trends. They have also partnered with government agencies that have lent them their trust and full confidence for the last seven years. Particularly, the Department of Agriculture and its agencies continue to work with ENVIRO to help spread the word about Balance Fertilization across different regions in the country.
Saving Our Soil
By introducing this sustainable method of farming, ENVIRO hopes that it will leave a big impact on our Agricultural Sector. Dargani notes that “saving our soil” is the first step in providing our people with better lives. Good, nutrient-rich soil affects everybody. It begins with our farmers and ends with the rest of us at home, who consume their produce. ENVIRO is aware of the current situation of poor farming practices that could easily be remedied through help and education. Truly, a revolutionary company, helping bring the Philippines towards a brighter future. Save the soil, and surely, you can save the people too.
As the world mourns Queen Elizabeth II’s death, it cannot be ignored that people felt like they’ve lost a mother, a leader whom they can all look up to. Her reign was eventful as it was legendary– and one could only hope that the next leader would be as astounding and dedicated as she was.
One of the longest reigns in the history of the British Monarch has come to an end. Queen Elizabeth II, an icon and a ruler, died on September 8, 2022, at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Her leadership style and dedication to her role have become a constant reminder of the monarch’s stability and power, and in her death, her legacy still resonates.
Queen Elizabeth II had an eventful and record-breaking reign in a contemporary monarchy. She assumed the throne when she was 25, after her father’s death in 1952. Her reign, spanning 70 years, has witnessed quite a several historical and groundbreaking events, most of which changed the course of humanity. She has seen the downfall of the British Empire, the birth of the internet and the smartphone, and took part in welcoming new norms and trends throughout her life. With all these experiences combined, Queen Elizabeth II played the long game.
Her impeccable influence
Through the years, Queen Elizabeth II has become a beacon of stability– not only for her subjects but for the whole world. Despite the chaotic slew of events that coincided with her reign, she was one of the vital reasons as to why the monarchy survived and continues to hold power and influence to this day.
In leading the British empire, and later on the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II has consistently been an enigma– in a way that her decisions are calculated and precise, yet almost nobody truly knows what is going on inside her mind. Her reign has also been full of scandals and exposes, most of which tarnished the image of the Royal Family. However, despite everything that happened, her influence as the Queen remained and the monarchy regained its reputation every time.
Her staunch beliefs, though reminiscent of the old colonial past of Britain, also evolved as the world’s perspective changed. Radical shifts and new norms were welcomed as the Royal Family embraced the modern era. Queen Elizabeth II has a favorability rating of 75 percent, which played a huge role in how the monarchy continues to be relevant in the current times.
Her unique leadership style
Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t born into immense pressure– she was far in the line of succession back when her uncle, Edward, was the heir to the throne. When he abdicated in favor of her father, King George VI, she immediately became the heir to the throne. Her discipline and utmost dedication to her work were highlighted, and they helped in accomplishing her steadfast vision for the monarchy.
She worked incredibly hard at her job. Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the type to stay stagnant as a leader, she would always have engagements, both local and foreign, to expand relations and oversee operations throughout the entire Commonwealth. In turn, all the countries under the Commonwealth look up to her as an unchanging leader, whom they follow and admire.
One may view Queen Elizabeth II’s leadership style as apolitical and neutral, which she is constantly known for (and sometimes praised for) at times. The people of the Commonwealth valued her neutrality and deemed it vital for their countries’ stability. Despite the current political climate, the Commonwealth remained powerful and significant.
As the world mourns Queen Elizabeth II’s death, it cannot be ignored that people felt like they’ve lost a mother, a leader whom they can all look up to. Her reign was eventful as it was legendary– and one could only hope that the next leader would be as astounding and dedicated as she was. As people look forward to the new reign, it cannot be denied that Queen Elizabeth II did an adequate job in shaping the present– and who knows, with her long-standing legacy, maybe even the future.
Apart from being completely luxurious in look and feel, the Queen of Hearts Silk Sleepwear Collection makes an ideal investment in beauty, health, and wellness.
Sleep is a vital, often neglected component of every person’s overall well-being. With this premise, a relevant business idea on wellness has been created.
“Lack of sleep is a major concern among people of all ages so we decided to put up a sleepwear business to help people get all the benefits of quality sleep,” shares Mitzie Go-Gil, CEO at Beauty Queens Collection Fashion House. Her company distributes Queen of Hearts Sleepwear Collection products.
The silk fabric material chosen for the sleepwear can provide utmost comfort, gentle on even sensitive skin, and breathable which will promote better sleep, according to Gil.
For its initial stage, the products will be available online, and eventually will be distributed in Manila areas. “Volume orders for areas outside the initial distribution area including overseas will be considered carefully on its viability,” adds Gil, the beauty queen turned enterprising woman.
The health benefits of Silk
Did you know that silk is one of the most luxurious, coveted fabrics in the world? But more than this, it offers several health benefits.
First, silk is the strongest of natural fibers. It contains natural protein and 18 essential amino acids. It also contains natural cellular albumen which speeds up the metabolism in skin cells.
Second, silk is hypoallergenic. It does not attract dust mites and is a natural fungal repellent.
Third, silk does not draw moisture away from your skin and hair but encourages a proper moisture balance. While its extremely smooth and soft texture proves to be beneficial for those with a sensitive skin condition.
Sleeping on Silk for overall wellbeing
Sleeping on silk provides proper health hydration, natural, cool, prevents sleep creases, no sweat, slows down the aging process, and most importantly, it improves the quality of your sleep.
The fabric itself helps with eczema and asthma, prevents allergies because of its natural anti-fungal element. It suits even the most sensitive skin and helps to keep your skin moisturized.
As it does not conduct static electricity, sleeping on silk helps reduce hair breakage. Thus, works wonder for hair health.
Interestingly, wearing silk can help fight the symptoms of menopause. Silk is temperature regulating, which makes it beneficial for menopausal women combating the battle against night sweats and hot flashes. Hot flashes are usually triggered by fluctuating estrogen levels and other hormonal changes in menopause.
Can you give one important piece of advice to women on choosing the right sleepwear?
“Silk sleepwear is recommended particularly for women,” Gil said. “Silk is the strongest of natural fibers. As it is a breathable fabric and a natural temperature regulator. Silk helps the body retain heat in cold weather while excess heat is expelled in warm weather, helping the body maintain a comfortable, natural temperature. Silk sleepwear is free from wrinkles, looks elegant, classic, sexy, and beautiful.”
No wonder, Gil is a testament to a satisfied silk sleepwear user. It is her secret to a youthful, glowing complexion, healthy and happy physical state.
Apart from being completely luxurious in look and feel, Queen of Hearts Silk Sleepwear makes an ideal investment in beauty, health, and wellness.
For more information, visit the Queen of Hearts Sleepwear Collection FB page https://www.facebook.com/QueensSleepwear.
“No act is too small to make your country better,” said Leviste during a valedictory speech to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to make a positive impact.
“Being Batangueño is the best thing ever,” began Ronin Leviste, the uber-passionate and ultra-proud yet humble recently elected 23-year-old Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas. “We have the most beautiful province in the entire country — beyond the instagrammable mountains and world-class beaches, it is our people [my fellow Batangueños] and their stories who can showcase all the best my province has to offer. We’re already so near [Manila], but we still have a lot more infrastructure coming in soon, surely putting us in a sweet spot for rapid development.”
Following in his father’s footsteps
Politics was never an alien concept to Ronin. His father is Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste, whose flourishing career began over two decades ago. As soon as he could walk, Ronin was already accompanying his father to constituent consultations, sessions, and the campaign trails. Seeing his father work closely with communities inspired the young man to follow in his footsteps.
As a student at Xavier, Ronin developed outreach programs growing up and played a role in the social action arm of the school. He recalls a great memory when he started a movement of the solar light building with his barkada in the school’s science lab and then installed them in underprivileged dim communities in Batangas and Mindanao.
While in college at De La Salle University, Leviste received two of the highest honors, the Br. Gabriel Connon Award and the Gawad Francisco Ortigas Jr. Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader Award. In his final year at school, he served as Vice President for External Affairs of the University Student Government. To top it all off, he graduated Magna Cum Laude in Development Studies with the Best Undergraduate Thesis Award.
Creating a positive impact
During the university’s 192nd Commencement Exercise, Leviste gave a rousing valedictory speech to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to make a positive impact. “Everyone here has a different timeline, everyone here has a unique story, but the commonality that binds us is that we all have talents, opportunities, and skills worth sharing when put together, with almost no limit to what the world can expect from us. More importantly, we all have an equal role to play in the development of the Philippines that we call our home. So when our country needs us, we, as Lasallian leaders, must always respond with unconditional service to the nation because to build the nation is to love.” It was Leviste’s wake-up call to his peers: that no act is too small to make your country better.
Education as his advocacy
Ronin soon began building his political career, serving as Sangguniang Kabataan Kagawad in Makati and as the Youth Affairs Head of the office of the Vice Governor. He then ran as Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas, as an independent candidate.
While he is one of the youngest vice mayors in the country, Ronin never takes it for granted. Apart from what he learned from his father and other mentors, he humbly credits his success to his education — learning loads from school and the people around him. The Batangueño says that education is one of his main advocacies as Vice-Mayor. “Education can uplift people from poverty and give them an extra sense of fulfillment. I learned so much from it, but it also taught me that there is still so much more to learn, so much more to do, so much more to serve,” he muses.
“Everything starts with a vision,” he says. “And mine begins by building a Tomorrow Together. For me, this means we leave absolutely no one behind. I want the Philippines where everyone can wake up in the morning knowing they have food on their tables, that they have jobs sufficient to provide for their family, and that their kids go to school and now have the means to do so. All of this will help uplift families to a better future — giving everyone equal opportunities in life. It is a daunting task ahead, but our generation has shown that if anyone can lead this change — it’s us.”
The first Fine Arts NFT collection in the country, showcasing the work of Juvenal Sansó, was sold out at a special dinner by Artifract, an arts NFT platform developed by UBx and operated by Unit 256.
Fundacion Sanso, a non-profit organization that exhibits the works of the globally famous painter Juvenal Sanso, expressed its excitement about this collaboration to safeguard the integrity and security of all Fundacion Sanso paintings for future preservation.
The event also hosted a private auction. It has sold out, selling off Juvenal Sansó’s NFT collection listing Serendipitous Visions and Flower Vendor to various art collectors. The next auction will presumably be conducted in October 2022.
“We in the foundation believe that NFTs are the latest and one of the most promising art platforms of both today and the future. It is a medium that many of the young, aspiring, and technologically-minded individuals and collectors can easily identify with,” Fundacion Sanso said in a statement.
“We are happy and honored that Unit 256 chose as its very first project artworks by Presidential Medal of Merit Awardee Juvenal Sanso,” it added.
Artifract, a forerunner in fine arts NFT in Asia, aims to help art estates, museums, private collectors, and artists preserve fine arts by securing the copyright of each piece and ensuring the continued viability of these collections through the utilization of blockchain technology.
Unit 256, an art-tech venture that aspires to make Philippine Arts accessible and help institutions in art preservation, and the company that manages Artifract have announced their plan to launch Juvenal Sansó’s Fine Arts NFT collection in September 2022.
“We intended to do a private dinner to feel the art community’s response to the technology we are introducing with UBx. We did not expect such a warm reception, selling out tiles of the initial Sansó masterpieces,” Unit 256 stated.
“With such successful precedent, the Artifract team looks forward to launching publicly this September 2022. We are also excited to share that soon enough, we will be launching partnerships with more Philippine Masters.”
John Januszczak, president and CEO of UBx, the leading open finance platform in the Philippines, has likewise expressed appreciation for the growing partnership
“It is not just about digital and it’s not just about NFTs, what it is about is unlocking the value of these works of art so we can enable organizations like Fundacion Sanso, the galleries, and the museums to come to further the cause of fine art in the Philippines,” he said.
Fundacion Sanso, under the leadership of Chairman Joaquin M. Teotico, Managing Director Ricky Francisco, and the founders of Unit 256, Brian Poe Llamanzares, Marvin Agustin, Stephanie Oller, Edison Tsai, and Magellan Fetalino, inked the partnership agreement in July of 2022.
“This event of launching NFTs of several of Sanso’s seminal works can only give us great pride and joy. We offer our best wishes for a very successful launch, and may Unit 256 be blessed with even more successful projects in the coming years,” Fundacion Sanso stated.
PXL has established a network coverage of 150 cities in 75 countries across six continents. It is now one of the country’s top logistics superstars.
It is 4 in the morning and Beverly Anne Arcangel is already getting out of bed. These early hours are precious for the Managing Director of Prozone Xpress Logistics INC. (PXL) because it won’t be long before her phone starts ringing off the hook. Though the majority of PXL’s clients are from China and Intra-Asia, Europe and the United States are also at par so she needs to be awake when they are.
The 43-year-old begins her routine with a session/flow of Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ), a traditional Japanese practice that helps harmonize one’s energy by holding different parts of the body. Beverly puts herself in a state of peace and relaxation. After that, she makes her way towards the fairway, yoga, or Pilates studio, but manages time to reply to every e-mail in her inbox. By the time the sun is shining bright, she already managed to put on her #GirlBoss hat even before she arrives at the office.
“I wear different hats in the office, “ she says while explaining her daily routine. Being in the logistics industry means new and unexpected situations happen daily. As Managing Director (without a General Manager), it is up to Beverly to be on top of everything – making sure her team is running like a well-oiled machine. While Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. is a relatively new company, Beverly and her team have quickly elevated it to become one of the country’s top logistics superstars. They handle diverse industries from the shipment of luxury furniture and lifestyle items to medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, appliances, construction materials, retail, trading, and essentials (IT, telecommunication, water, agriculture, etc). PXL has established a network coverage of 150 cities in 75 countries across six continents.
Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. maneuvered during the pandemic by being quick and agile. She also credits her partner, her co-Managing Director at PXL along with her colleagues whose hard work, commitment, and passion for logistics made them the ideal power team. Taking pride in their unique customer service approach which makes them different from competitors, “I always say, I don’t just give a quotation to the customer, I ensure to give them a solutions-focused and client-first approach that require precision, timing, foresight, and flexibility. I listen to their requirements then I customize our services depending on their needs,“ she explains. “I always tell my team, that it is all about personalized service.”
While many companies were minimizing manpower during the pandemic, Beverly did the exact opposite. She made sure that PXL’s clients always had somebody to talk to directly about their concerns. Her way of doing business helped foster strong relationships with her clients, who ultimately trusted the company with all their logistical needs.
The business of logistics
The business of logistics is high stakes and nerve-racking. One small mistake could cost millions. “If you miss information like the correct chargeable weight or correct volume in a cubic meter of a shipment, then everything changes. And a mistake translates to a monetary loss in dollars, not in pesos. This is the reason why it is called LOGISTICS – because this work requires LOGIC.”
Remembering her journey was an emotional process for the successful businesswoman. Throughout the interview, she held back genuine tears. Beverly was somebody else’s employee for a good 19 years, and now she is calling the shots. Yet, her success has not gone to her head. She remains humble, knowing that her quiet strength can be harnessed into gold. “Last June 2022, one of the Philippines’ leading shipping lines called a meeting with me. Announcing that Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. was noticed as one of the top 10 importers/producers for their line. I was so proud to be in a roster of the big logistics players in the country.” As we ended the interview, I realized that life can indeed begin at 40. All you need is a little strength, a lot of prayers, and a lot of logic.
Now in its 14th year, the National Art Fair continues its onward and upward momentum with the theme, “Forging Futures” this October 19-23 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Taguig. Past years have focused on Visions for a Future Reimagined (2020) and Continuing Legacies (2021) – giving novel approaches a space in well-established traditions.
Arts and culture evolve with the times. Participating in the creation of our cultural landscape, the here and now contribute to chronicling Philippine art history-in-the-making. In 2021, we saw the first look at new technologies alongside traditional media: the art fair was made accessible for online patrons through 360-degree digital walkthroughs, and Augmented-Reality copies of artworks were presented alongside original physical pieces through a first-ever “phygital” showcase.
Going phygital. The debut of the phygital on ManilART’s stage bridges the gap between digital and traditional spaces. Digital artworks are minted as Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) which are valued as extensions or digital prints of the physical piece. Ownership of these NFTs is tied to the blockchain in the form of a crypto work that enables itself to be valued and traded in virtual art galleries and crypto markets.
Learn about blockchain with Binance. Binance, the largest cryptocurrency platform, is set to hold educational talks during the art fair — opening the floor, and expanding digital literacy not just to those with experience. Hearing insights straight from them will benefit both newbies and veterans alike. In particular, learning more about NFTs opens up a new realm of creation, trading, and supporting artistic works.
Read the room with Vrady’s Joy United. We can expect this year’s iteration of ManilART to have more interactive surprises and booths in store. This year spotlights Joy United, an art installation by German media artist duo Juliana and Andrey Vrady that will explore and reflect the moods of fairgoers in real-time. Machine sensors will “read” guests’ emotions, and run them through the artists’ software codes, and AI will generate an artwork based on the collective’s feelings—interpreted as vibrant lights and color.
ManilART maintains the future as its focus these next few years. Artists and audiences are discovering new techniques, and setting trends through advancements in the digital age. Progressively younger audiences have the means to see art in the online sphere, which has arguably democratized its consumption through online exhibit walk-throughs and social media. Art practitioners and enthusiasts of all ages are invited to forge onward towards the future of ManilART, and trailblaze new paths in Philippine art at large.
This year’s participating exhibitors are 371 Art Space, AC 388, Annual Sculpture Review, Art For Space, Artes Orientes, AT Art Gallery, Dry Brush, Espacio Manila, Galerie Artes, Galerie Du Soleil, Galerie Francesca, Galerie Raphael, Galleria Nicolas, G9 Online, Gallery Nine, Historia Arts, M Gallery MNL, Museo de Pacis, Philippine Art Nation, Pugad ni Art, Renaissance Gallery, The Artologist, Village Art Gallery, and Ysobel Art Gallery.
ManilART 2022 is set to run from October 19-23, 2022, at the SMX Convention Center, 3rd Level, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City. Call (0977) 807 3369 or visit www.manilartfair.com for details.
For her forthcoming second solo exhibit in October, the artist will showcase her “Belle Fleur” series calling for women’s empowerment.
There is truly no limit to what a woman can do. Artist Mylene Quito proves this with her second solo exhibit this coming October 2022 at Ayala Malls Manila Bay featuring her “Belle Fleur” series calling for women empowerment. She hopes to inspire women to follow their passion, continue to reinvent themselves, and bloom.
The black backdrop in the Belle Fleur collection symbolizes all the dark times and failures she experienced throughout her art journey. Quito recalls all the painful storms she went through and reminisces an episode where a critic said she will not make it. Claiming she wasn’t talented enough, and would never succeed without their help . . . all of which she now feels thankful for as she realized it only made her stronger.
Every painting in the collection are flowers that symbolize the diversity of women – soft, sweet, powerful; all silhouetted with golden linings – symbolic of rebirth and indestructibility. “No matter what a woman’s flaws and imperfections are, we are uniquely beautiful,” Quito shares.
The Lotus is one of her favorite pieces, a testimony of human resilience and unwavering spirit; also a flower often associated with rebirth and enlightenment. Latched in mud, it submerges in the river and blooms sparkling clean in the morning. Similar to life, we are filled with different problems and anxieties but we will always find a way to rise.
From her La Familia exhibit inspired by her childhood roots, Quito pushes for more greatness beyond as she conquers the Philippine art industry.
From one woman in bloom to another, she says, “Once you become a successful woman, remember to raise others. Start a domino [effect] through your kindness and always remember to stay grounded.”
Catch a 50% off on lunch and dinner buffet if you enroll in IHG One Rewards. Joining is free.
Now that the hospitality industry’s recovery is back in full swing amid the pandemic, more Filipinos are dining out both for personal and work-related gatherings. Recently, this media practitioner had a hearty and sumptuous lunch at Flavors Restaurant in the company of the media and bloggers’ group, Southern Gaze (SG); and the dynamic marketing team of Holiday Inn and Suites Makati. It was an afternoon of good food and fun times with friends as we partook in the wide selection of buffet choices.
An all-day dining restaurant
Holiday Inn and Suites Makati is a family-friendly, 5-star hotel in the vibrant Makati Central Business & Entertainment District. Flavors Restaurant is an all-day dining restaurant that blends Filipino specialties and international favorites. Its contemporary design and relaxed dining atmosphere make it the ideal venue for a leisurely lunch or a celebratory dinner. Flavors’ safe and secure location puts families at ease and allows kids to also eat for free.
Flavors is a vibrant restaurant that showcases exciting and contemporary cuisine both Local and from around the world. A buffet selection of the best Filipino, South East Asian, and Western fare is available showcasing a plethora of flavors that will excite your palette. An à la carte menu is also available for those looking to dine well without the expense of a buffet.
Catch a 50% off on lunch and dinner buffet if you enroll in IHG One Rewards. Joining is free. Save money, earn points and enjoy great benefits with IHG One Rewards. IHG One Rewards gives you more options and places to use your points. It’s why more people choose the benefits of our award-winning hotel loyalty program than any other worldwide.
This promotion of 50% off on the buffet is valid from August 8 to 31, 2022 only. Discount also applies to existing members. Savor the discount for up to (4) companions.
Flavors Restaurant’s lunch and dinner operation hours and rates are as follows:
Buffet Lunch Schedule: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm Daily
Regular Price: Php2,300 nett per person
Discounted Price: Php1, 150 nett per person
Buffet Dinner Schedule: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Daily
Regular Price: Php2,300 nett per person
Discounted Price: Php1,150 nett per person
Not yet an IHG One Rewards Member? Sign up for FREE https://eej.at/F5ns0k3F.
Flavors Restaurant is located on the lobby floor of Holiday Inn and Suites Makati, Palm Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City. Contact Flavors Restaurant at +63275068132 or Viber at +639175968897 for reservations.
“Besides the fact that I was pleasantly surprised with how jam-packed Okada was to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, what made it special was the communal experience – the guests had a clear understanding of what the brand was all about,” Managing Director of Porsche Design Manila, Washington and Adrenaline Group of Companies, Hans Yao, shared.
Okada Manila was brimming with energy, passion, and enthusiasm as Porsche Design celebrated heritage and the birth of modernity. Founded by Ferdinand Alexander (F.A.) Porsche back in 1972, always emphasized that “good design must be honest. If you analyze the function of the object, the form becomes obvious.” The company arms and treats each item they make with the same engineering they apply to Porsche cars. In short, the general experience of riding a Porsche car is replicated throughout all their products with the philosophy focused on form and function.
The 50th-anniversary campaign is called “It’s About Time,” inspired by Porsche Design’s first products launched in 1972. “The Porsche Design’s chronograph watches are inspired by Porsche cars’ dashboard. These watches are going to be re-launched this year to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary,” Mr. Yao shared with excitement.
The Okada Manila Porsche Design 50Y exhibit displayed the following cars: a 1956 356 Speedster, a 2016 991 GT3RS, a 2020 911 Speedster, a 2013 Carrera S, a 718 Cayman GT4, and a 1963 993 C2 Coupe with a mural artwork rendered by Filipino visual artist/sculptor Ramon Orlina.
Hosted by television personality and Porsche Design ambassador Migs Bustos, he kick-started the program with an introduction to Porsche Design’s history. Mr. Roland Helier, Chief Design Officer of Porsche Lifestyle Group, sent a personalized message from Studio F.A. Porsche in Zell-Am-See, Austria, to talk about how the brand evolved throughout the five decades. The event also welcomed Mr. Yao, Managing Director of Porsche Design, and Director for Porsche Design in Asia-Pacific, Nina Razali, who flew in for this occasion.
The celebration marked the continuation of the brand’s legacy: passion, design, and icons — all of which the roster of young ambassadors embodied.
The introduction of Porsche Design’s young ambassadors began with Olympian Pole Vaulter, E.J. Obiena, who immersed the guests into Porsche Design’s history through a pre-recorded video inside the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The other ambassadors include racing enthusiasts Brian Poe-Llamanzares, Second Skin Industries owner Archie Chiang, Import Hookup owner Keith Bryan Haw, and CSB Blazers Coach and CNN Philippines Sports Analyst Charles Tiu.
“The entire event didn’t simply celebrate the brand’s heritage but also communicated a communal experience of freshness. All our ambassadors are passionate about what they do. They embody what Porsche Design is all about – engineered passion,” Yao shared. High energy radiated all over Okada Manila, a success from the Porsche Design Manila team’s four months of hard work, collaboration, and ingenuity to make their 50th anniversary memorable.
“The brand will continue to endure and progress, given its rich heritage and continued focus on product design,” Yao assured.
Porsche Design Manila has four boutiques throughout the metro, located at Resorts World Newport Mall, Shangri-La Mall, Rockwell Power Plant, and Okada Manila.
For more information, visit their website at www.porsche-design.com.ph, follow them on Instagram and Facebook at @PorscheDesign.Manila or email them at email@example.com or call 09175287317 for your queries.
Featured photo: The Gentlemen Ambassadors of Porsche Design (left to right): Archie Chiang, Keith Bryan Haw, Charles Tiu, Hans Yao (Porsche Design Manila Managing Director) Brian Poe-Lamanzares, and Migs Bustos.
The Lam siblings remember their childhood as a busy one. “During the holidays, our friends would leave town, and we’d be working. Truth be told, back then, there was resentment. Why did we have to work?” recalled Aimee. What the trio didn’t realize was that they were part of a family legacy. Their parents are Joey and Herminia Lam,the husband-wife power duo who founded Fighter Lock Philippines Corporation (FLPC) in 1986, one of the country’s leading distributors of hardware, construction, and electrical materials. While their peers were enjoying the simple joys of childhood, Alvin, Aimee, and Alrich were training to take on the keys of the family kingdom.
The journey wasn’t easy. Unlike other COOs (Children of Owner), their parents strongly believed that their children needed to start from the bottom. As early as grade school, the siblings were asked to man the stores, make deliveries, and learn the behind-the-scenes nature of their homegrown company. Alvin, the firstborn, was the first to find his footing within FLPC. “He was a bit of a wild child,” Aimee shared with a laugh. As a way to deal with his rowdiness, Alvin was sent to China to learn Mandarin. It wasn’t long before he was homesick. The eldest son begged his parents to let him come back to the Philippines, promising that he would finally shape up. He kept his word and soon began running the business’ daily operations.
Aimee had a similar journey. She went to Canada to study, as a way of escaping the dullness of a daily routine. Although she was looking to do something entirely different, she realized her heart belonged back at home. “They told us time and time again, that this was our bread and butter. They frequently told us their rags to riches story. I felt that it was such a waste to throw this opportunity away if we didn’t continue it.” She moved back home, ultimately taking her place as the company’s head of finance.
Their youngest sibling, Alrich, also felt a sense of resentment as a child because he was asked to work early on. Growing up around his older siblings (Aimee is 4 years older, while Alvin is 10) and seeing them contribute to the company’s success, he came on board after college, handling the FLPC’s marketing department. “I realized, all the experiences we had mattered because they helped us become who we are today,” Alrich says.
Another important lesson instilled into them by their parents is that they are all equal. While many traditional Chinese families believe that the eldest should be the most respected, the Lams reject that dogma. Because of this, they can challenge each other’s perspectives, which have been an instrument in the company’s continuous growth.
As a trio, Alvin, Aimee, and Alrich have been able to bring FLPC into the modern age. The three put their minds together to build a professional image, as well as streamline operations, that propelled the company from a small family business to a thriving corporation. Under their watch, FLPC has expanded from being more than a distributor, but also a creator of their own brands: LAMCO (plumbing needs), Aimee (locks and keys), and Kantt (LED lighting).
Although their success was born from resentment, the Lam siblings are certain that they are where they’re supposed to be. “We can do anything when we’re together,” Aimee shared. As they continue to construct their empire, the Lams have embraced their destiny with open minds and a smile.
Traveling broadens our horizons and gives us more opportunities to enjoy and learn about the places we visit.
On our fifth day in Taiwan, we had a jampacked itinerary and explored several interesting tourist attractions, such as (1) Yehliu Geopark Wanli District, New Taipei City, Taiwan; (2) Heping Island Park Zhongzheng District, Keelung City, Taiwan; (3) Zhengbin Fishing Port Nostalgia Pier Zhongzheng District, Keelung City, Taiwan; (4) Agenna Aboriginal Culture Restaurant Zhongzheng District, Keelung City, Taiwan; and (5) Jiufen, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Yehliu Geopark is a park of natural wonders. Located in New Taipei City, Taiwan, it has full of sea water-eroded holes as well as numerous rocks that look so real in many shapes and forms!
Among other statues are named Fairy’s Shoe, Tofu Rock, Ice Cream Rock, Mushroom Rock, Candle Rock, and Ginger Rock. But the most famous one is the Queen’s Head. All these make this 1,700-meter-long cape a geology park with rich ecological resources and a prosperous fishing village.
At Heping Island Park, tourists can appreciate ocean views and world-class geo-scape. The Cliff at the island park is the vantage point where you can see and feel the sound of the waves. The sight brings total relaxation to the mind, body, and soul. You can take time exploring the scenic spot and feel its everyday charm. The island park is located right within the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area.
Zhengbin Fishing Port, also known as “Nostalgia Pier,” gives a more laidback feel. It is located in the south of Heping Island. The Port is built by the Japanese in 1934, and it was the biggest fishing port in Taiwan during the Japanese era. Although it gradually diminished as years went by, its down-to-earth appearance endures. The city is actively seeking to preserve it as a place for relaxation and nostalgia. There has been a boat named “Folk Art” at the Port, considered the first art museum on the sea. Sports activities such as dragon boat races are also quite popular in the area.
The group had a sumptuous lunch at Agenna Aboriginal Culture Restaurant located in Zhongzheng District, Keelung City, Taiwan. The dishes served to us were a fusion of local and international cuisines. Indeed, it was a hearty and satisfying meal!
The last destination for the day was Jiufen, a well-known tourist spot in Taiwan. It’s a narrow street where you can shop for a lot of things from food to souvenirs. If you’re tight on a budget, it’s still alright to come here because there are a lot of stores offering some free food for tasting.
Jiufen is located on a hillside that faces the ocean and is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with its people still maintaining their original simple lifestyle. With the changing seasons, the scenery also varies greatly, presenting different aspects of Jiufen. In the past, the place was the dreamland of gold diggers; now it has become a sanctuary for many artists and tourists.
Being able to see and appreciate the beauty and history of these scenic spots makes every trip a learning experience.
The Atayal culture was quite interesting. We were introduced to its unique qualities of aboriginal performances, recreational activities, local food and aboriginal cuisine, cultural skills such as bamboo dance, assassination ball experience, and clothing try-on.
(Note: Bringing back Day 4 of our unforgettable tour to Taiwan when the world was still COVID-19-free. )
On our fourth day in Taiwan, we traveled to the Atayal Resort in Guoxing Township, Nantou County; the high-speed rail in Taichung station; visited the national historic monument, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101 Observatory, and mall, and had a wonderful stay at Amba Taipei Songshan.
To fully embraced the Atayal experience, we stayed at Atayal Palace Spring Hotel with a Baroque architectural style. Located amidst the fresh greeneries and natural forest, we were secluded from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The resort features the culture of the Atayal tribe, a minority aboriginal tribe in Taiwan.
The Atayal culture was quite interesting. We were introduced to its unique qualities of the aboriginal performances, recreational activities, local food and aboriginal cuisine, aboriginal cultural skills such as bamboo dance, assassination ball experience, and aboriginal clothing try-on.
A unique attraction at the resort was a popular skywalk that hangs out of the mountain located 500 meters above sea level, offering a stunning view of the mountainous landscape. The shape of the skywalk was in concise design with a geometrical pattern and tempered glass construction at the bottom.
Standing on the glass platform, 500 meters high above the mountain foot, you can admire the beautiful mountain landscape and spectacular natural scenery that leave you with many wonderful memories.
From the resort, we took the high-speed rail to Taichung station to be able to reach Taipei City in 40 minutes. If by regular transportation, travel time would be two hours. Our next stop was at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall located in the heart of Taipei City.
It has become the landmark of the city and is most visited by foreign tourists. Its architecture is inspired by Tiantan in Beijing and is a prime example of the beauty of architecture.
Two stairs leading to the top, you will find the bronze statue of the historical great leader. It’s being manned by equally attentive guards. The stairs have 89 steps which represent the age of death of Chiang Kai-shek.
View from the top
For first-time visitors like me, it was a must to visit the Taipei 101 Observatory. There was a fast lift up to the top and the view from the top was impressive!
I couldn’t get over how fast the elevator ride was. It was located inside Taipei 101 mall, considered Taiwan’s premier international shopping destination – featuring luxury goods, fashion, and fine dining. Here, you can enjoy your shopping in comfort and total relaxation.
After a long day of the tour, we were billeted at the Amba Taipei Songshan, which was five minutes walk to Raohe Night Market. The hotel is admirable for its urban vibe, spacious contemporary rooms, dramatic views of Taipei 101 as you arrived at the chic lobby, and multi-purpose communal areas, best of all, it has one of the best lineups of buffet menus.
It is designed for the savvy urban traveler who appreciates creativity, connectivity, and conservation. Created by Ambassador Hotels, the amba brand was launched in 2012 to coincide with the group’s celebration of 50 years of luxury hospitality.
We had a nice time at Amba, especially with the gracious and very welcoming accommodation of the hotel’s chief alignment officer, Ms. Jeanie Mak (in a yellow-orange scarf). She joined us during dinner and introduced us to the many amenities of the hotel.
With all these things that happened in just one day, we shared the joys and experiences like never before.
Sun Moon Lake provides visitors with different charms in all seasons. But my favorite is in early spring around February, and the place is embraced by cherry blossoms in full bloom. Sun Moon Lake – a stunning landscape and a romantic paradise rolled into one.
Discovering new places of interest adds excitement to any traveler who visits the destination for the first time. On our third day in Taiwan, we went to the Jiji Township, still in Nantou County, where the Jiji and Checheng Railway Stations, the Toushe Basin, and Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area can be found.
Jiji and Checheng Railway Stations
Jiji is a lovely small town surrounded by beautiful mountains and streams. Even today, the town has retained its rustic style and precious ecological resources. Tourism has been actively developed here, revealing the town’s charm to visitors.
When you pay a visit to Jiji, make sure to take photos in front of Jiji Station. It is Taiwan’s most well-known Japanese-style terminal station and has been around for more than 80 years now. It was destroyed in the 1999 earthquake but later reconstructed and restored to its original look. Since then it became a must-visit tourism destination in Jiji.
Checheng is the final destination on the Jiji line and is often referred to as “The Last Train Station.” Full of beautiful and amazing scenery, the Jiji Line is like a gallery that provides both sightseeing and educational enlightenment.
The next stop was at the Toushe Basin, where an old “Bed and Breakfast” (worth 25 million in Taiwan dollars) was located. But, because of the storm, the land became soft and wasn’t cultivated well. The structures turned crooked and appeared to be like a “leaning tower of Pisa.”
Sun Moon Lake
The last location we toured for the day was Sun Moon Lake – the alpine lake with serene beauty and tranquility. It is located in the middle of Taiwan, with an elevation of 748 meters above sea level, the only natural big lake in Taiwan.
The southern part of Lalu Island is shaped like a new moon, and the northern part is shaped like a sun; for this reason, it was named Sun Moon Lake. Visitors are often captivated by the refreshingly beautiful and elegant landscapes in this location. It’s like a Manila Bay cruise if you compared it to Manila.
Here, you can also enjoy a fascinating ecological tour. Sun Moon Lake provides visitors with different charms in all seasons. But my favorite is in early spring around February, and the place is embraced by cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Visitors can also appreciate the view of the lake by cycling around. It’s a must to experience the biking trails during your stay to better understand the different sides of Sun Moon Lake – a stunning landscape and a romantic paradise rolled into one.
In this installment, I will take you to Taichung, Taiwan, where you can enjoy the tourist attractions such as Rainbow Military Village, Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House, Miyahara, Fengjia Night Market, and Red Dot Hotel.
Travel is a new experience that can transport you out of your everyday routine to create memories and discover new places of interest. For six days, we had the opportunity to explore the culture, beauty, historical landmarks, scenic tourist spots, and culinary offerings in Taiwan. Because this trip gave me a new way of looking at things and having new eyes – that no matter where you had been, whether the experience was good or bad – you take with you the memories and made you realize that life truly is a journey.
On our first day, the schedules were already jam-packed. We went to the Taichung side of Taiwan and visited the Rainbow Military Village. Rainbow Village is a military housing facility. This was painted by a military soldier and was supposed to be demolished but then students petitioned for it to be retained. They decorated it by putting various beautiful works of art until it became a tourist attraction. Around 3,000 supporters are maintaining this housing project.
Then, we proceeded to Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House for our sumptuous dinner. The tea house is known for its bubble tea, hotpots, meal sets, traditional noodles, and delicious side orders like dim sums, bean curds, dry noodles, etc.
The next stop was at Miyahara, a red-brick architecture built by Miyahara Takeo, a Japanese ophthalmology doctor in 1927. At present, Dawn Cake, a pastry company renowned for its pineapple cakes, acquired the building and preserved Miyahara’s original red-brick walls and archway. The interior decor was redesigned like Hogwarts in the movie Harry Potter. Visitors to Miyahara are not only recommended to appreciate the details of the historic architecture but also try Dawn Cake’s signature ice cream, bubble tea, and pastries wrapped in nostalgic packings. We loved this place!
One of the most famous night markets in Taichung is Fengjia Night Market. Here, you can buy a lot of things like food, apparel, cosmetics, and other surprising pieces of stuff. It’s famous for its “cheap and yet massive quantity” of foods, luring people from all over the world. Recommended delicacies here are: Chinese sausage wrapped in glutinous rice, brown sugar tapioca milk, Chow mien (fried noodles) stuffed bread, octopus balls (takoyaki), humongous stinky tofu, and huangjinzei (aromatic rice stuffed in cuttlefish).
We stayed at Red Dot Hotel for the night. The boutique hotel was attractive with its quirky fun and functional design. It has a big slide which you can use from the hotel’s second floor to the lobby – perfect to enjoy for the young and young-at-heart! Some of our group had tried the iconic hotel slide. I stayed in one of their spacious double rooms and quickly slumbered into dreamland. I woke up the next day energized and ready for the tour itinerary.
The studio is a ground-breaking project of one of the respected icons of Philippine visual arts, Raul Lebajo.
This year marks the 80th birthday of one of the respected icons of Philippine visual arts, master surrealist Raul Lebajo. What makes the celebration significant is that it coincides with the fulfillment of his ground-breaking project – a studio – which now houses his masterpieces, old and new, and can showcase them to a range of art lovers and collectors, even to up-and-coming artists.
Nestled inside the sprawling Lebajo ArtFarm and family resort in Sinaliw Malaki, Alfonso, Cavite, the studio is a two-floor edifice with wide spaces. The roof interior is made of bamboo sticks, which emits a cool atmosphere and looks exquisite aesthetically.
The first floor serves as the main studio. It displays various works of the Lebajo patriarch and his two sons Nikulas and Gio, who both pursued their father’s artistic inclination to arts. The second floor or the loft is where the working area of Raul can be found. It is here where Raul stays most of the time painting to his heart’s content while having a view over the verdant surroundings of the farm.
“Inspiration comes from a wellspring of imagination – what I see from my surroundings – from simple to the most extraordinary, things I can draw motivation from,” Raul shares. “I just keep on painting. No one forces me to paint. It’s like a stream of thoughts, which keeps flowing when creativity is at its peak.”
Raul believes that an artist is someone creative, passionate, and effective. He is someone who is not constrained by money. Ultimately, the reward will come when people see the value of your work, he quips.
“I’m grateful that I can leave behind a legacy that my children and grandchildren will carry on,” Raul muses.
Not too far from the main gallery is the basement, where the master’s bedroom is located, then the guest room, and kitchen area. The look and feel of the property all came from Raul’s ideas.
One of the best parts of having the studio in this location is to be closer to nature. The scenery is delightful and tranquil. The air is a lot cleaner and fresher, too. You feel relaxed. You can look forward to a picturesque sunrise and be fascinated with the chirping of the birds around you while doing your gardening activities.
Staying in this kind of healthy and comforting environment makes the artist more productive in creating masterpieces that resonate with his present views of the world at the time of the pandemic.
For the time being, the studio accepts visitors by appointment only. For inquiries, call +639296956656 and look for Gio Lebajo.
The atmosphere of quiet lushness from the mountain made our stay a whole new experience in getting closer to nature.
Traveling through this side of Taiwan on our second day, makes you appreciate the beauty of the countryside. In this installment, I will take you to Nantou County, where you can take a glimpse of magnificent views of the outdoors and cold weather at Monster Village and Sun-Link-Sea Forest and Nature Resort.
Monster Village is one of the most popular attractions in Nantou County. You will like it here because of its captivating scenery and cold weather, which is comparable to our very own Tagaytay City. The place is situated 1,100 meters above sea level – the reason for its cool climate – and you can almost see the mountains and the clouds covering the mountain top. There are all kinds of strange monster statues and the villagers are dressed in Japanese style.
It’s not just a tourist attraction, but a one-stop shop for the guests. Whenever you get hungry, you can choose from one of the restaurants here which served best-selling Taiwan and Chinese dishes.
Interestingly, there’s a particular bread that caught our attention during our visit – the Stinging Nettle bread also known as “Biting Cat” in Chinese. The itchy part is the leaf and locals made it into bread but the inside is very savory and soft, it contains some cheese or some kind of meat as filling. But the highlight of the bread is the stinging nettle leaf on top of the bread.
Our group indulged in the set menu for lunch at Monster Village Theme restaurant. The food arrived in big servings. It was truly a mouthful of dishes served before our very eyes. We enjoyed the food, the company, and the ambiance.
You can also find some souvenir shops for your trip mementos. and a hotel within the village for long-staying guests.
We also visited Sun-Link-Sea Forest and Nature Resort. The place has an annual average temperature of about 20 degrees Celcius and is 1600 meters above sea level. The climate is perfect like Baguio City. Here, you can enjoy a different side of Taiwan, far from the city.
You won’t feel perspired and get tired while walking; most of all, you get to enjoy being surrounded by nature. You will enjoy the atmosphere near the waterfalls, the environment surrounded by trees, and a Flower Center, which exhibited some 30 flower species, such as peony, color cabbage, hydrangea, tulip, and Taiwan cherry, fuchsia, etc.
Our accommodation at Sun-Link-Sea Hotel, an elegant building characterized by modern and neo-classical architecture, provided a total relaxation. The atmosphere of quiet lushness from the mountain made our stay a whole new experience in getting closer to nature.
Bangkok first-timers chart a memorable weekend experience.
Creating an authentic travel experience in Bangkok is a must. Well-known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, it isn’t surprising why Thailand’s capital is a favorite destination for many foreign tourists.
Its attractions are endless: dazzling temples, thrilling tuk-tuk rides, boats to the floating market or just to cross the Chao Phraya River, shopping sprees at chic emporiums, and tasting culinary delights with their fresh and unforgettable flavors, savored at either fine dining restaurants or street-side stall. It is an amazing place with something for everyone.
If you are a first-timer here, exploring the city without a guide is part of the challenge.
How many charming and unforgettable locations will you find without losing your way? It’s fun to make your way around in a foreign country and return safely to the comfort of your hotel at the end of the day. That is truly an accomplishment.
This is what we discovered on a trip to the City of Angels, in partnership with the Erawan Group, ibis, and Mercure Thailand. True enough, a fun-filled getaway here is accessible at almost every street corner.
A must for any shopaholic is the Chatuchak weekend market. It has everything you can ever want from all over Thailand. And yes, you have to haggle to get a bargain.
Easily accessible by BTS Skytrain, it is best to designate a meeting place near the market’s entrance where you can all gather after exploring the market’s many alleys. For almost half a day, we discovered outstanding finds that we all wanted to bring home.
If you are going there, wear light and comfortable clothing and shoes. Protect yourself against the sun by wearing sunglasses and a hat, and use sunscreen liberally. Bring enough cash. Most vendors do not accept credit cards. Beware of pickpockets, and watch your belongings.
Any tour of Bangkok’s temples should start at Wat Pho. It’s one of the largest temple complexes in the city and is famous for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 meters long and is covered in gold leaf.
The Grand Palace is one of the most visited places and is probably the most stunning attraction in the city. It was built in 1782 and served as the home of Thai kings and the royal court for 150 years. It now welcomes millions of visitors each year coming from all parts of the world. Wat Phra Kaew, the temple inside the Grand Palace, is where you will find the Phra Kaew Morakot, or the Emerald Buddha, a sacred image carved from a single block of emerald.
Since our hotel is located by the river, the trip would be incomplete without experiencing the magnificent Chao Phraya River at least once. We spent a relaxing evening at the riverside after touring the city.
Comfort at the Best Price
Our home in Bangkok was the ibis Bangkok Riverside, one of the economy brands of AccorHotels, which promises modernity, comfort, and service at the best price.
Located by the banks of the Chao Phraya River, it offers outstanding value and beautiful river views. Situated close to the BTS Sky Train, which will whisk you into the heart of the city in minutes, it is also a short ferry ride from the riverfront lifestyle shopping and dining venue, Asiatique, and close to many other cultural highlights including the glittering Grand Palace.
ibis Bangkok Riverside has 266 cozy, contemporary rooms with double or twin beds, a desk, LCD TV with international channels, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities, personal safe, and hairdryer for a comfortable stay. The hotel also has a revolutionary bedding concept called Sweet Bed by ibis. It also has three spacious function rooms for up to 100 persons.
Taste, its all-day dining venue, reinvents tapas with new flavors and authentic local dishes. The Lobby Bar serves a wide selection of snacks and refreshments, while room service is available 24 hours a day. A highlight of the hotel is a fabulous riverfront swimming pool set in a beautiful garden and a petanque field for fun with the family.
Created in 1974, the ibis hotel chain is now the European leader in economy brands and the fourth largest chain in its category worldwide, with over 1,060 hotels and 135,000 rooms in 64 countries.
The Mercure Bangkok Siam, the seventh midscale Mercure property in Thailand, and ibis Bangkok Siam, the ninth economy ibis in the country, two hotels located in the central Siam area, provide guests with convenient access to all of the city’s top shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Mercure Bangkok Siam has 189 rooms with a contemporary design, fully equipped facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, three meeting rooms for up to 126 delegates, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and the Sky Bar. Privilege rooms come with a coffee machine, a variety of local teas, additional bathrobes and amenities, and an iPod dock. Guests also enjoy exclusive access to the Executive Club with its all-day refreshments, business center facilities, and an outdoor terrace.
Mercure’s signature restaurant, The Eight, is named after its location, and services guests from both hotels. This all-day dining outlet features an extensive menu of local and international cuisines with indoor and outdoor terrace dining.
On the other hand, ibis Bangkok Siam has 189 modern rooms equipped with LCD TV, a fridge, and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access. All rooms also offer newly upgraded beds that are supremely comfortable. The hotel’s Quick Bite restaurant is open day and night, offering round-the-clock light meals. Guests also have access to the swimming pool and fitness center facilities at no extra charge.
AccorHotels, the world’s leading hotel operator, is present in 95 countries with more than 4,000 hotels and 240,000 employees. Its portfolio comprises internationally acclaimed luxury brands including Raffles, Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel, Sofitel, Fairmont, onefinestay, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman, and Swissôtel; the popular midscale and boutique brands of 25hours, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter, and Adagio; the much-prized economy brands including JO&JOE, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget; and the regional brands Grand Mercure, The Sebel, and hotelF1.
With so many places to see and so many hotels to stay in, only one thing is certain: a return to Bangkok is needed to discover more of its many attractions.
(Re-posted from Experience Travel and Living magazine
Bring your kids when you plan a vacation to this awesome family destination. The hotel has child-friendly features they will surely enjoy to the extreme. Remember, kids, are the star guests here. Enjoy it, explore it, experience it. Don’t hold back.
Traveling with my family is a memorable adventure filled with laughter, fun, and new experiences that last a lifetime. It is true that traveling in the company of those we love is like “home in motion.”
As we planned our international trip to LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort just recently, we were excited to try the various offerings at the resort, and our bonding time as a family. At this point in our family life that my daughter is already grown-up, it’s much easier to travel as much as we can, and when time allows for us to go all together. From NAIA Terminal 2, we had a layover in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1, then an almost two-hour drive by private van to reach our long weekend destination at LEGOLAND® Hotel Malaysia. The holidays we had been waiting for were almost here!
Picture this: The spectacular lobby features a LEGO® castle and a LEGO® pirate ship that transcends into the sky. You can see children all agog with their LEGO® bricks inspiring their imaginations to create their own LEGO® models. As first-time guests of this hotel, you would think that there was pandemonium because the welcome ambiance wasn’t your usual of a hotel lobby. However, after you have settled down you get to imbibe the uniqueness and charm of LEGOLAND® Hotel, which is sure to make your stay unforgettable.
Primarily, it caters to families with children, for the young and young-at-heart. Make sure to bring your kids when you plan a vacation to this awesome family destination. LEGOLAND® Hotel is located at the heart of LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort.
Interestingly, as we toured the lobby area upon check-in, our eyes were caught with LEGO® mini-figures on display behind the check-in desk (it has around 12,528 mini-figures). The hotel is full of child-friendly features such as children’s play area with LEGO® bricks and Xbox 360 Kinect, interactive LEGO® features, swimming pool, themed lifts, low level viewing portholes, merchandise store, buffet restaurant with its organized LEGO® chaos, themed rooms, and of course, there are activities for children every day.
All 263 rooms are themed to give guests the choice of playing pirate, commanding a kingdom, embarking on an adventure, or living like a true ninja. All rooms include a king-sized bed for grown-ups plus a separate semi-private sleeping area for up to three children, complete with a bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed, and entertainment unit. LEGO® features are found throughout the hotel as well as in the themed rooms, play areas, restaurants, and even the elevators.
As we went up to our assigned kingdom-themed room, we found ourselves entertained by a themed lift with dance music. It was a fun experience for my family. We were like dancing until we hit the assigned floor.
LEGO® Themed Hotel Bedrooms
Children are the star guests at LEGOLAND® Hotel. With a choice of themed rooms to suit every visitor, you can spur imagination and enter a world of daring pirates, brave knights, or powerful pharaohs. Guests can choose from these themed rooms:
Pirate: Step into your very own pirate cabin decked out with pirate bedding, curtains, wallpaper, and even Polly, a LEGO® parrot.
Adventure: Embark on the ultimate adventure and hunt for hidden treasure amongst tarantulas, scorpions, lizards, and other jungle animals.
Kingdom: Enter a kingdom fit for a Prince or Princess. Bunting, shields, and flags all meet the royal standards.
Ninjago: Enter the LEGO® Ninjago universe to master the elements, relax in your lavish room and sleep like a victorious
All in all, LEGOLAND® Hotel consists of 234 themed rooms and premium themed rooms, 7 pirate deluxe rooms, 8 kingdom suites, 13 premium Ninjago themed, 1 Ninjago kai suite. This year, the hotel has added more Ninjago rooms to ensure more people to be part of the Ninjago universe. When guests open their door, they step directly into a ninja cave and are greeted by famous Ninjago heroes. In the corner is an eagle keeping a watchful eye, and on the bunk beds are puzzles that can only be solved by true ninjas.
As for our family, we loved our kingdom-themed room! It was beautifully decorated and we felt the Royal welcome! We had quality and sound sleep, too!
Exciting Dining Options
Throughout the duration of our stay, we have enjoyed the breakfast offerings at Bricks Family Restaurant, an all-day dining serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a buffet-style concept restaurant and has a variety of cuisine catering to every taste bud of adults and children. The menu is just as exciting as families enjoy a meal together while sharing and relating their day’s adventure. It has a capacity of 465 guests. Open daily: 7:00am-10:30am & 6:30pm – 10:00pm.
Kai’s Sushi Bar is a brand new Japanese restaurant at the hotel. Hosted by the hero of LEGO NINJAGO himself, the restaurant offers a delightful variety of authentic Japanese food such as sashimi, tempura, donburi, noodles, and more. Also available are sake, shochu, and Japanese beer while children can have their pick from a selection of cool Japanese mocktails. all of which are meticulously prepared by Kai’s talented chefs. Open Daily: 12:00pm-3:00pm.
If you’re looking for a la carte style restaurant while at the hotel, head to Di Mattoni Restaurant, the perfect place to enjoy delicious pizza and pasta, soups, and desserts. After a long day, delight yourself with specially-created cocktails while the children have a blast with fruity beverages. It has a capacity of 50 guests. Open daily: 5:00 pm – 10:30 pm.
Meanwhile, Coffee@Bricks is an upscale deli specializing in cold sandwiches, grab-and-go style, or dine-in from freshly made salads to a choice of macaroons plus the chef creations of the day.
We also checked out the inviting swimming pool located on the 5th floor of the hotel. Space was perfect for family and children to enjoy their moments together amidst the view of towering structures of Iskandar Puteri, Johor.
Indeed, it was an unforgettable trip! The wanderlust got us!
Featured photo courtesy of Legoland
Special thanks to Ms. Stephanie Lee, marketing manager of LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort and to Sing Ying, public relations executive of LEGOLAND, the management and staff for the warm accommodation:)
On his 10th death anniversary, I thought of sharing my #throwback exclusive interview with the late King of Comedy, Rodolfo Vera Quizon or “Dolphy” to many of his adoring fans. He was truly Daddy Dolphy with a big heart for his children off and on-screen.
He was one of my dream interviewees, and I was truly delighted that I was able to fulfill this conversation with him before he passed away at the age of 83 due to multiple organ failure. Here is an excerpt from the feature article which appeared in the old issue of Mirror Weekly Magazine:
He may have been less than ideal as a “husband,” given the long list of relationships in the open book that’s been Dolphy’s life. But as a father who sired all of 18 children by several women, the “King of Comedy” is tops, by his children’s own account.
His real-life children attest to his goodness and greatness of heart, which, they say, more than compensates for his unusual route to fatherhood several times over. And even on-screen, Dolphy has played father roles depicting a truly admirable dad, one quite deserving of the affection and admiration of his brood despite his unconventional ways.
As in the long-running TV sitcom John en Marsha where he played bumbling but devoted dad to young Maricel Soriano and other budding stars. “I must admit that my being a father has not been normal. The mere fact that you’re in showbiz, the more that it becomes atypical,” he intimates. But in his own way, however, he has tried to make up for the lack of normalcy, he says. “With all my children, I would say that I have been fair to them. Whenever I’m here, I make it up to them; I give all my time to them.”
A loving father
He delves into his life as a father with gusto, appearing to enjoy talking about his numerous children. Being a father has not been easy because it entails a lot of responsibility and discipline. “What’s important for now is to see my children bonding together, instead of quarreling with each other. You’ll be surprised that they have different characters when they came from only one person,” he jokes.
Dolphy admits he finds more pleasure in his children when they’re still in their infancy. “Pero kapag malalaki na, ang sarap pagsasakalin,” he smiles. Although he claims he allows no favoritism to cloud his love for his kids. But he treasures his girls. “Minsan napapansin ng iba na mas malapit ako sa mga babae, kasi nga iba ang karinyo nila,” he tells.
His children have only good words for the loving father. “He is very different from everyone because he’s the kind of person who has a big heart. He’s very loving and friendly. We always talk and we go out. We’re like brothers. Happy Father’s Day! I’ll always be here for you. I love you so much,” intimates Vandolph. “He always has time for us. He’s a nice, loving, and generous person,” said Nicole and Zia.
His priority has always been his family. “Pero siyempre, una ang trabaho ko bago sila. Kung naiintindihan nila iyon, sila ‘yon. As a father, you have to provide something for your family, and that’s my role.”
He adds: “Even when I was just starting in showbiz, I frequently went abroad. I was the first one to become a Japayuki (that was in 1951). Most of the time, I would stay there for six months and my family would miss me. Then I would go back and stay for a month, then, I would leave again. And when I was here, I would accept engagements, especially during Christmas Day and New Year’s Day because the pay was triple. So, I had to work doubly hard because I wasn’t moneyed at that time, and of course, my children were growing.”
It’s both a joy and a pain to have so many children. “Mahirap talaga dahil kailangan mo silang pagbigyan lahat,” he says. “They always come to me if they need something or they want my advice, maski hatinggabi na. But most of the time, we go out, especially on Sundays.”
Dolphy has no regrets for all the things he has done in his life, like having children out of many relationships. “Hindi ko naman ginustong magkaroon ng anak na marami,” intimates Dolphy, a quiet and reflective thinker who admits to praying twice a day, morning and night. “Kapag nahiwalay ka sa asawa mo ang tendency mag-aasawa ka uli. I just tell my children not to do what I have done. It’s righteous to have only one wife and you have an anniversary to look forward to. That’s what I don’t have.”
And how would he like to be remembered? “As a good person. I want them to mention my name with a smile. That’s what my mission in life is, to make people happy.”
Our Singapore trip will always be worth remembering. Foremost, we traveled and explored this bustling city-state in the heart of Southeast Asia as a family.
Amid the pandemic, Singapore now allows quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated visitors after omicron subsides. It’s just timely to reminisce about the moments and share them with you here.
It’s easy getting around the city because of its efficient transportation system. We preferred touring the city by cab. In some instances, we would encounter hospitable cab drivers who would talk lengthily about the tourist attractions we should check out. Since this was just a short stay, we planned what places to visit. The topmost in the itinerary was Merlion Park, one of Singapore’s popular landmarks. The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish that is widely used as a mascot and national personification of Singapore. The Merlion symbolizes in its fish body the ancient city of Temasek, and its lion head, the legend of its discovery.
We were too excited to explore the Gardens by the Bay. At a height of 22 meters, this 128 meters long aerial walk is an experience not to be missed. As dusk falls, the captivating Marina Bay skyline emerges and the entire area comes alive nightly with the Garden Rhapsody — a free light and sound show.
We didn’t miss trying the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is probably Singapore’s most famous chicken rice stall located at Maxwell Food Centre. It has more tourists (including us) than locals queuing up for a plate of this local iconic dish. The late Anthony Bourdain said that the chicken rice was so fragrant and delicious that it could be eaten on its own.
We also toured the Chocolate Gallery, where you can find and purchase high-quality chocolates to bring home as pasalubong for your loved ones.
We also had a stopover in Little India, a vibrant cultural enclave of the Indian community in Singapore. The next location was Thian Hock Keng Temple, considered the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore. It’s replete with heritage, and a must-visit for tourists interested in oriental culture.
We stayed longer in Orchard Road, an upscale retail hub of the city. It is a popular tourist attraction with several clothing stores, restaurants, and coffeehouses. Then, we checked out Haji Lane, famous for its independent shophouses and quirky cafes. It is also the narrowest street in the city.
The following day, we spent our afternoon at Gillman Barracks, home to celebrated art galleries, restaurants, and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. We visited several galleries as part of our art appreciation journey. To cap the day, we enjoyed Singapore’s skyscrapers, and the well-lit surroundings even at night.
Changi, the world’s best airport remains our favorite to date. By its very nature a tourist attraction and a sight to behold. You can do a lot of activities while waiting for your flight – from shopping to dining, relaxation, and unwinding.
Indeed, travel is rich with learning opportunities and provides a broader perspective on life. Above all, it creates bonding experiences with your loved ones.
It’s time to explore Singapore again. Nowhere else in the world is quite like this amazing place!
For more information on travel requirements for short-term visitors to Singapore, visit https://www.visitsingapore.com/.
“Whatever I do in life, I always look at the consequences of my actions. Regardless of being a representative, a teacher, a lawyer, or anything, I always want to be a ripple of change,” shares Atty. Nograles.
“People are always telling me that I’m the girl with no rest,” said Atty. Margarita Ignacia “Migs” Nograles with a cheeky grin. Earlier that day, she took her House of Representatives Oath, officially making her a representative of the PBA Party-list in Congress on July 1. Between her oath-taking, Nograles was a busy bee. She began the morning with her usual fitness ritual (meditation and a daily run), before answering e-mails, attending meetings, managing associates at her law firm, and doing her duties as a public servant.
It doesn’t stop there. Nograles finished shooting a new episode of Paano ba Attorney?, a TV program where she gives free legal advice to anyone who needs it. On the weekends, she works as a law professor, preparing her students for The Bar through review classes. Atty. Migs is also continuing her Master’s Degree in law, after taking a few short courses at Harvard Kennedy School and passing her Arbitration Accreditation courses. Could she be bionic? Probably not—but she’s certainly a Superwoman.
The Lady Boss
As a #LadyBoss who wears many hats, it’s very impressive to learn that Atty. Migs is only 31 years old. “[I love my job] because I get to help people,” she says with an ardent smile.
Her Davao-based firm NICAD (Nograles, Ilagan, Cayco, Aban, and Dabi Law) is committed to helping the general public find solutions in a cost-efficient and a highly-sustainable way. She and her partners participate in a lot of Pro bono work and free legal advice. “The practice of law is really to use your knowledge to help your client’s concern. We just had our anniversary on the first. We’ve already been operating for a year, and we’re still surviving. Even with free legal advice, we’re managing to stay afloat.” The firm is already looking to expand with an office in Manila sometime this year.
The Pro bono cases the firm accepts vary on different issues that each partner is passionate about. Atty. Migs, in particular, has a strong stance against domestic abuse, emotional abuse, and all forms of bullying. Not just for women and children, but men and the LGBTQI community, as well. “While growing up, I was a victim of bullying,” she says. “When I got older, I realized that a lot of friends had also been victims of violence. It is something very dear to me, and something I want to protect now.” While she was in office, Nograles had to take a small step back. She had to take a leave from the firm but still makes an effort to oversee her associates daily.
Paano ba Attorney?
Although she can’t physically appear in courtrooms at the moment, Nograles continues to use her skills through different avenues. For instance, in her show Paano ba Attorney? offers free legal advice to their viewers. Originally conceived as a short Facebook Live show during the pandemic, it has grown in popularity. The fourth season (which is currently in production) will be broadcasted on local television.
Nograles shares that their team receives 300 to 400 videos/messages a day from people seeking out her expertise. “It keeps me on my toes,” she shares. “It keeps me updated with the newest laws, and makes me feel fulfilled being able to answer questions on the spot. Also, [it’s great] to be able to help people with [nothing in return] but a simple thank you.”
It runs in the blood
You can say that public service runs through Atty. Migs’ blood. Her father is late Speaker Prospero C. Nograles, and her brothers, Karlo and Jericho, both hold positions in government. Watching them do their work (particularly their role in giving free education to thousands of youths), inspired her to be in politics.
Just a few months shy of her 32nd birthday, she will be entering the House of Representatives as a newly minted congresswoman, under the PBA Partylist. Even without having officially begun, the passionate attorney is already working on bills she is eager to pass. “What I plan to submit as a bill is the Domestic Abuse Law Bill. I’m working on it already. Another one is the expansion of the Solo Parents Act. In the law, solo parents don’t have additional support for education, which they need,” she states with assured vigor.
Supporting youths and athletes
As a former athlete, Nograles also wants to ensure that homegrown talents are given proper funding. She is advocating for sports legislation, sports protection, and grass-root support for local athletes.
Through the Party List, she hopes that she can establish standard and retirement benefits for emerging sportspersons. Her family’s work through the Nograles Scholars Program (which supported youths and athletes) truly inspired the young woman to help emerging Filipino talents.
She remembers boxer Nesthly Petecio (an Olympic Silver medalist) as one of the athletes they helped through the program. “Just look at her now,” she says with a proud smile. “Athletes should focus on training and shouldn’t worry about [the resources to do it]. Small issues like this are what I want to push in terms of legislation.”
While Migs Nograles is just beginning her career as a congresswoman, she has already done so much to help those around her. Her desire to build a better Philippines reflects on her already flourishing career. It’s exciting to be in the audience and see the climb of this political superstar. “When I was a part of the Ateneo Student Leaders Assembly, they taught us to be a ripple of change,” she remembers. “Whatever I do in life, I always look at the consequences of my actions. Regardless of being a representative, a teacher, a lawyer, or anything, I always want to be a ripple of change.”
With such passion in her voice, it’s easy to believe her. However, to reach real “change,” one is afforded very little rest. Luckily for us, Nograles never does.
To mark the occasion and help visitors enjoy the benefits of playing together, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is launching a brand-new exclusive LEGO® experience: “Play Your Way.”
Johor Bahru – The LEGO Group is marking its 90th anniversary by celebrating the creativity of fans and the power of play as the new LEGO® Play Well Study shows play is fundamental to the wellbeing and happiness of the whole family. To mark the occasion and help visitors enjoy the benefits of playing together, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is launching a brand-new exclusive LEGO® experience: “Play Your Way”.
From 16 June to 10 August 2022, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort visitors will be invited to discover their official Play Type and take on fun LEGO® build challenges to start their journey toward play mastery.
Guests will receive an exclusive, limited edition lanyard upon entry from our friendly staff and a limited edition pop badge for each Play Type build challenge they complete while exploring the park while stocks last. Visitors will be challenged to explore the different activities and find out which suits their play personality best:
Are you a Designer? Aware of problems, these builders are focused and get ideas from asking questions. Their LEGO® creations solve problems and playtime is thoughtful.
Are you a Maker? Aware of objects, these builders are energetic and get ideas from trial and error. Their LEGO® creations are detailed and playtime is experimental.
Are you an Explorer? Aware of the environment, these builders are curious and get ideas from new discoveries. Their LEGO® creations are bold and playtime is adventurous.
Are you a Storyteller? Aware of others, these builders are dramatic and ideas come from fantasy. Their LEGO® creations are used to entertain and playtime is theatrical.
Are you a Dreamer? Aware of possibilities, these builders are imaginative and ideas come from daydreaming. Their LEGO® creations are artistic and playtime is magical.
The ‘Play Your Way’ LEGO® build challenges encourage creativity for each play type, with prompts to spark different types of play. For example, Designers will be challenged to design a secret treehouse or the ultimate dragon. Makers are more experiential, so will be challenged to make a boat fly or a bus for the moon. The adventurous Explorers will love creating a magical lion, whilst Storytellers will have more theatrical build challenges, creating a castle in the sky or an underwater kingdom. For Dreamers, their creativity will be encouraged through magical build ideas from rainbows and flowers, to spaceships and treasure chests.
Within the park, Master Players (who have mastered all five play types) will roam the park in colorful costumes to surprise and delight guests with magic tricks and storytelling.
The new “Play Your Way” experience adds to the rides, shows, and attractions all geared to families with children ages 2-12 years old at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort. The Play Your Way event will be included in Park admission along with everything that LEGOLAND® has to offer, and is hosted in the Rebuild the World area.
As part of the celebration, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort partners with LEGO for a special Imagination Playground roadshow, where visitors can enjoy a FREE RM150 F&B voucher with the purchase of four Triple-Park Pass while stocks last. The ongoing roadshow at the ground floor of Centre Court, Midvalley Megamall Kuala Lumpur, will end on 12 June 2022, before moving to its next stop from 20 July to 31 July 2022 at Midvalley Southkey Johor.
“LEGOLAND® is excited to celebrate the 90 Years of Play with the LEGO® Group – we know that play has huge benefits for the whole family, so what better way to celebrate than through playing together? Our new event allows guests the chance to uncover their play type and rediscover the joy of creating together with LEGO® bricks,” said CS Lim, Divisional Director at LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort.
Play is an important part of everyday life and the LEGO® Play Well Study 2022 shows that play is fundamental to the well-being and happiness of the whole family. The LEGO Group polled more than 55,000 parents and children in over 30 countries and found that almost all parents think children strengthen their creativity (93%), communication (92%), problem-solving skills (92%), and confidence (91%) while they play. When children play, they develop skills that help them thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Referred to as ‘CHOSE,’ Chari and Rose have successfully launched some of the country’s most innovative and fastest-growing retail brands in the pandemic.
COVID-19 paved the way for a new normal. Streets were quiet, malls closed, with people afraid of leaving their homes prompting the boom in online shopping. The indoors provided solace and its interface are digital. This was the formula that kickstarted Rose and Chari’s ventures.
“The pandemic was the great equalizer. It gave new opportunities to those whose eyes are constantly seeking,” said the company’s leading Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rose Tolentino. While many slowed down, the duo went the opposite direction and launched not just one but multiple brands from personal and men’s care to food.
“2020 was the year. We felt the consumerist landscape was changing so to adapt was imperative for survival,” said Rose. “We were fueled to see the opportunity lying ahead so we did our best, and have been continuing to do so. We felt it would be an injustice to God not to do well. That was our motivation and push,” said Chari.
OMO! White, the company’s first successful brand scaled when it closed a partnership with the country’s biggest household cosmetic company, Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc (EBCI). What once was a Korean-inspired product line is now manufactured in Korea. “The best of Korean technology with the Filipino skin in mind,” Creative Chief Officer (CCO) Chari Trinidad-Mendoza, says. OMO! White is now in nearly 2,000 doors nationwide in all leading beauty & department stores.
Building a team that runs 100% online, the duo found the system worked to the advantage of their millennial team. No longer bound by the regular ‘8-5’ office demands meant clockwork capacity for their members’ optimum hours. “You know creativity can spring at 3 A.M. I guess you can call it ‘structured flow,’ says Rose.
Oh Crop! Is an Adlai brand to serve the ballooning health-conscious consumer market. It is an alternative to the Filipino staple white rice, packed with nutrients, low in glycemic index (GI), and high in fiber. Partnering with celebrity restaurateur Marvin Agustin, the company has hectares of personally-owned and contracted land whilst pioneering the first Adlai-financing system with UBX and multiple LGUs to further encourage sustainable livelihood for their partner farmers. The brand is currently available at The Marketplace under the Robinsons Retail Group.
Halal-certified with a core philosophy of ‘beauty is kindness,’ Rosie Posie is a 4-step skincare kit made specifically for Filipino women in Visayas and Mindanao. it is a brand promoting gentle and natural ingredients that aims to take care of you, while you take care of the Earth. The brand is available in Rose Pharmacy in Cebu, Iloilo, and Bacolod.
Aside from their products in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category, the ladies own the media company Alike Media. Similar to OMO! White Alike was founded before the pandemic but its pivotal year was 2020. An originally digital media company, expanded into an omni-channel that now has both digital and print. They were ranked as part of the top 10 digital media companies in the country.
Best friends since they were 10 the two are now in their 30s. Two decades of friendship have evolved and formed them, but never separated. The pandemic taught them simplicity, grit, but above all – what truly is ‘essential.’
Get to know these Filipina entrepreneurs who are transforming lives with their awesome beauty products!
With the pandemic entering the world last 2020, a lot of lives were challenged. People had to live with the new normal, skipping some of the things that were usually so accessible in exchange for safety from the virus. Aside from that, livelihoods and businesses were also drastically affected because of the overall impact that the virus had on the lifestyles of people. One such industry is the beauty industry because now, people had limited access to its services and products, as well as a smaller budget.
In the case of these two local beauty brands, we see proof that despite the challenges the businesses might face, a brand can still make it through with hard work, the right intentions, and maybe, a little bit of luck.
Dear Face: Affordable and available for everyone
One such brand is Dear Face. Launched in November 2020, the brand started small with only two skincare sets, a facial wash, and a serum. During the height of the pandemic, its CEO and founder, Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos identified two major problems that people were faced with: (1) lack of source of income due to the economic effects of the global lockdown and (2) lack of self-care due to isolation and quarantine. These are the main reasons whyDear Facewas born as well as the driving force of its mission and purpose. The company is dedicated to empowering people by providing a main source of income through its distributorship program. It also aims to give people a form of self-care with its wide range of effective supplements and skin care products that are affordable and available to everyone.
Since its inception, the brand has gained impressive momentum, with over 1500 local and international distributors in countries like the United States of America, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, United Kingdom, etc. Some of you may know their TikTok famous product — the Drunk Skin,which has sold more than 250,000 bottles to date. With the rate things are going for Dear Face, there’s no denying that this young brand’s current success is only the beginning!
Skinpotions’ magical touch
Another brand with a magical touch is Skinpotions. It was founded in 2013 by sisters Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos, a registered nurse by profession, and Ma. Aileen Sison-Pacheco, a former international flight attendant. Interestingly, their interest started because Jonalyn struggled with teenage acne and her journey to finding products that worked on her skin. Apart from this, both share a common passion for helping people transform their lives and feel better about themselves through skincare and makeup.
Skinpotions started reaching its consumers through online selling platforms. It introduced cost-effective products in varieties of soap, lotion, face cream, and serum, then eventually expanded its selection, adding makeup and cosmetics to its product line. Only two years later, the brand grew to have more than 100 local distributors and also some from countries abroad such as the USA, Italy, Japan, UAE, and Australia. The company has also joined several shopping bazaars and collaboration stores to reach more consumers.
With the demand for products rapidly increasing around the country, especially in provinces, Skinpotions partnered with Francorp Philippines and opened its doors to franchising. The brand then became a duly member of the Philippine Franchise Association and was able to open several franchise stores, expanding its scope in Luzon and Visayas. Spreading its wings even further, its CEO, Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos won the 2018 Nextgen in Franchising of the International Franchise Association in Phoenix, Arizona USA.
The following year, Skinpotions collaborated with The Walt Disney Co. Philippines to launch a selection of makeup products for Disney’s live-action remake of the movie, Aladdin. Like in the movie theme song – A Whole New World, this move was truly a shining, shimmering, and splendid one for the brand. Its block screening, attended by known influencers and vloggers in the country, was one of the many achievements this venture brought the company.
Skinpotions currently has over a hundred and seventy-eight thousand followers on Facebook, a reflection of its rising popularity as well as the lives it has changed through its products.
It’s inspiring to see these young Filipina entrepreneurs thrive while transforming the lives of their products’ users as well as their business partners. If you’re looking for a new beauty product to try, why not check these brands out?
Featured photo: Ma. Aileen Sison-Pacheco and Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos
Summer is always the best time to experience and create moments in your favorite waterfall sanctuaries.
Traveling excites a greater sense of childlike wonder in us. This summer, make sure to go out and have fun with your friends and families. You don’t need to go far to enjoy and frolic under the summer heat, pristine and relaxing beaches, and invigorating waterfalls.
We have gathered our top three recommendations for nearby and easy-to-visit waterfall destinations.
Daranak Falls and Resort, Tanay Rizal
A natural resort and popular local tourist attraction in and out of the country, Daranak Falls is one of the flagship destinations of Tanay. You can swim, picnic and have a great time with your family.
It has enchanting waterfalls, ponds, and rivers cascading through elaborate tropical trees and plants. This 14-meter high falls is truly a refreshing location. Entrance Fee: P50.00 (Children below 3ft. are free of charge). Picnic Shed: P300. Picnic Table: P200. Operation Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8 AM to 5 PM.
Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna
Pagsanjan is known as The Tourist Capital of Laguna. It is where you can enjoy the well-known Pagsanjan Falls, and experience once in a lifetime thrilling and exciting boat ride, “Shooting the Rapids”. The town is continuously growing and attracting thousands of local and international tourists and businesses.
The Labasin Waterfalls Restaurant is one of the attractions of Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort in Tiaong, Quezon. While visiting the resort, you can enjoy its traditional Filipino buffet lunch — kamayan style — while soaking your feet in the low running water.
The falls is not natural falls, but an overspill from the Labasin Dam, the Philippines’ first hydroelectric plant. Just the same, the experience is real and unique. At Villa Escudero, it is where Filipino history and culture come to life.
The long wait is over and we are excited to share that Savoy Hotel Boracay is reopening this June 1, 2022. They can’t wait to welcome you back, so here are exciting treats to color your experience once again!
Reopening Room Treat!
The plan that perfect beach day to the Boracay you know and love, and avail of our hotel room vouchers for Php 3,150 per night good for two (2) people. Amazing surprises and complimentary treats await so start booking your stays and purchase these special reopening vouchers until May 31, 2022. These are valid until December 31, 2022. To book, visit our official website at https://booking.savoyhotelboracay.com.ph/4.31/ or avail of your vouchers at https://onlineshopping.savoyhotelboracay.com.ph/.
Reopening Food Trip!
As a special treat on our opening day, join us for an evening packed with live acoustic entertainment by the Chambery Pool Bar and sumptuous Filipino buffet selections at Savoy Café for Php 1,650 per person. Complimentary shuttle services to and from D’Mall, Station 2 is available for guests and walk-ins.
For those looking for adventure, we’ve got complimentary activities like kayaking and paddle-boarding. Plus, enjoy the sun and the sand with other options for leisure activities and watersports. Set off on a bike ride to the infamous Boracay Keyhole or sunrise cruise amidst a picturesque island view.
Finally, if you are looking to simply relax away from the crowded beach stations, then this is where you want to stay. Savoy Hotel Boracay is nestled in Boracay Newcoast, a tourist destination on its own where you can enjoy a peaceful, serene stay.
All these and more await you at Savoy Hotel Boracay… where you want to be, soon!
Savoy Hotel Boracay is located at the Newcoast Drive, Boracay Newcoast, Brgy. Yapak, Boracay Island, 5608, Malay, Aklan. To find out more about the hotel’s ongoing promotions and offerings, visit their website at www.savoyhotelboracay.com.ph or call them at +63 (36) 286 2800 or +63 (917) 821 0282. Like us on Facebook at Savoy Hotel Boracay and follow us on Instagram at @savoyboracay.
Managed by Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the largest hospitality chain in the country having nearly 4,000 room keys across 11 home-grown brands. With a growing portfolio of hotels strategically located in key townships, it caters to the various needs of today’s savvy travelers by providing quality products, enriching experiences, and heartfelt service that is uniquely and proudly Filipino.
The resort provides the splendor and the “tranquility of an environment that truly feels away from it all.”
Whether you’re traveling for a family vacation or romantic getaway, for business or pleasure, Plantation Bay Resort & Spa is one of your best choices in the Philippines.
It’s a vast tropical plantation set in eleven hectares of secluded grounds. It’s a resort, a village, a playground, a respite from a stressful world.
Located in Marigondon, Mactan Island, and Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, it has a waterfront hotel, a lagoon-style pool, and a posh spa. It offers one of the largest privately-owned waterways in the world, with the clean elegance of colonial-plantation architecture.
This writer had the opportunity to experience staying at Plantation Bay some years back. Until now, it’s still vivid in my mind the splendor and the “tranquillity of an environment that truly feels away from it all.”
There will always be some places that will create an impact on you and are worth visiting the second or even the third time.
Plantation Bay offers you more facilities, more space, and more separate lounging areas. There are various things to try when you are at the resort. You will never get bored.
You can go swimming, kayaking, archery, mountain climbing, play tennis or volleyball, have a relaxing spa at Mogambo Springs (my favorite part), listen to an acoustic band in one of the fave restos, and have your future predicted by a fortune-teller, or simply enjoy your day while at the hammock amidst the lagoon pool.
Outstanding Food Choices
Plantation Bay takes pride in its kitchens and can assure you of consistently delicious, beautifully-presented dishes at reasonable prices.
It has five outstanding restaurants, namely:
Kilimanjaro Kafé – offers international and Filipino cuisine, terrific soup, and vegan selections;
Fiji – offers seafood, Asian, and Filipino. It is often full so you need to come early;
Palermo – offers Spanish Tapas, Italian kinds of pasta, and the most complex, nuanced char-broiled steaks on earth;
Route 66 Diner – offers Retro American diner with all-day breakfast, burgers, hot dogs, and deli favorites;
Alien Abduction – offers a soda fountain in the late afternoon, family-friendly Night Club after dinner
During our stay, we dined in Fiji, the ambiance was so relaxing. When you’re in the mood for something different, try Kilimanjaro Kafe for the light international fare; or dine at Palermo, for another different ambiance that makes you enjoy Mediterranean-Continental dishes. We also tried the delicious burgers and hotdogs served at Route 66 Diner/Savannah Grill for our afternoon snacks.
Our trip to Cebu will not be complete without paying homage to the Cross of Magellan and Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino De Cebu. Not to mention, partaking in lunch at AA BBQ, reminded me of a happy conversation with travel friends because of its funny-sounding name.
When you’re inside the resort, you will not think of going out anymore – the charm of the place remains in you and make you want to stay a little longer.
The student that the Sintang Paaralan has guided has now become its leader – and he intends to do a great job at it. As the University President, Manuel has several plans that he wishes to implement to ensure that everybody is given the same chance as he was, decades ago.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has been home to students from all walks of life, hence why it is dubbed the “Sintang Paaralan.” It was a haven for people who wished to continue learning despite obstacles and hindrances that may come their way. This is the exact environment that nurtures people into becoming something much bigger than themselves – something that Manuel Muhi has been on the receiving end of. Now that he’s back in the halls of the fabled university, the student that the Sintang Paaralan has guided has now become its leader– and he intends to do a great job at it.
Manuel Mengorio Muhi was just a seemingly ordinary student when he first entered PUP as a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering freshman. Life has been rather hard on him, as he did not come from a wealthy family. He was taught the painful and harsh realities of life early on.
“My learning journey in PUP required me to be humble to succeed, to make ends meet, to become more resourceful, and to appreciate the privilege of being a part of the university to further my education,” he shares.
Looking back, the time he spent as a student in PUP taught Manuel a life lesson in humility. “Kasi kapag PUPian ka, sanay ka sa hirap. Magtatrabaho sa gabi, mag-aaral sa araw. Minsan hindi sumasapat ang baon, pero dapat handa ka. Kaya matututo kang makibagay at magpasalamat sa mga taong makakasalamuha mo dahil sila ang tutulong sayo,” he elaborates.
Being a student at PUP has given him a chance to improve himself to unlock his highest potential, and Manuel was more than grateful for it when he received his diploma from the university in 1988.
The education that the university has provided him has given him the urge to reach for greater heights in the academe. “As a PUPian, hindi tayo tumitigil matuto dahil mataas ang pangarap natin.” Manuel says.
True to his word, he entered graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in Engineering, specializing in Transport and Road Engineering from the prestigious Technical University of Delft-International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulics and Environment Engineering – the Netherlands in 2000. He then chose to pursue a Doctoral degree in Technology at TUP Manila in 2008.
Armed with these huge achievements, he knew that he could look for greater opportunities elsewhere, but he chose to follow his true calling and that is to serve his beloved alma mater.
“The university helped me finish my education and gave me numerous opportunities to serve both inside and outside of the country,” he narrates. He knew that PUP could make it big – and he wanted to be a part of the movement that is going to make this vision a reality.
Back to Sintang Paaralan
Manuel felt that going back to PUP and serving the university is the best way to give back to the same home that has willingly accepted him – back when he was still a mere freshman student, lost in the university’s expanse. This time, he wandered through the classrooms as a professor, and later on, he became the Dean of the College of Engineering from 2006 to 2013.
“Magagaling ang ating mga estudyante. These are deserving youth and they need the university’s assistance,” he shares. As someone who benefited from the university before, he wishes to do the same for others by being someone that can give them the opportunities that he once had.
He also served as the Executive Vice President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for Research, Extension, Planning, and Development from 2012 to 2016. After being appointed as the University President, Manuel knew that this position should not be taken lightly.
“Isa din sa mga inspirasyon ko ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan. Nakita ko kung gaano nila ka-gustong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral,” Manuel expounds. “[PUP] has the potential to meet a wide range of needs in the surrounding communities, and I recognized that potential. It gave me hope that I could be a part of an institution that could have a significant impact on the lives of many people.”
The life of a leader
Being the University President is a huge responsibility that comes with all sorts of challenges. For Manuel, the position required him to be on his toes at all times.
“We cannot let our position get into our heads. What matters is the kind of leadership you demonstrate,” he shares. Manuel wants to be the kind of leader who knows and sees everyone– including their struggles, hardships, and eventually their successes. “Kaya mula sa pinakaibaba, mga estudyante, janitors, security guards, empleyado, hanggang sa mga middle managers, directors and executive officials, pinupuntahan po natin sila, inaabot, kinakausap, pinakikinggan.”
With this kind of leadership, he has also drafted plans for the university’s improvement, geared towards technological advancement and infrastructure improvement. As an engineer himself, his plan was more focused on improving the technology and facilities. “Over time, we are seeing improvements, from our comfort rooms to our sports facilities, student centers, and newly constructed research and laboratory facilities, we are working tirelessly to achieve our goals,” he states.
He also plans to make PUP a smart campus, focusing on improvements in technology, and student services, mitigating compliance mistakes, automating workflows, reducing wait times, and conserving energy and resources, among other things. Just like any other institution, PUP must keep up with the times and the increasing demands for quality education.
However, the pandemic posed a significant challenge to his administration and hampered most of his plans for the university. As the University President, it was his job to ensure that everything is covered. “We were caught off guard and unprepared because we needed to come up with a solution right away to make things work,” he narrates. With his brand of leadership, he wanted to ensure that with whatever policy he implemented, no one will be left behind.
The pandemic’s awful hit
During these unpredictable times, the main concern of the university lies in three aspects: the studentry, the quality of the education they’ll receive, and the technological advancements needed to further their learning. With these in mind, the Flexible Technology Learning (FlexTel) is an alternative learning framework, which improved gradually through time.
FlexTel accommodates the needs of various learners, including their learning circumstances and their ability to access learning tools and gadgets. In this mode, the professors can also follow a curated teaching load that considers their flexibility as well. “Its implementation may have been hampered by birth pains, but it has opened the doors to learning for all PUPians across the country,” he adds.
With the mixed reactions from the studentry, Manuel recognizes that the FlexTel also needs improvement, and just like any other policy, it is open for criticisms and amendments. “PUP continues to work with various sectors to improve FlexTel implementation in the coming years so that it is more inclusive, accessible, and fully coherent,” he says, as he ensures that their concerns will be duly noted.
Moreover, he also launched the PUP Education on Wheels, a project that caters to the educational needs of the out-of-school youth in various places. This project aims to give more learning opportunities for everyone and to ensure that more people get access to education, regardless of their background. “Ito naman po ang matagal nang vision natin sa Sintang Paaralan, to make education accessible and of quality. The EOW is ongoing at napapakinabangan na ng maraming kabataan sa Smokey Mountain,” he proudly shares.
The Education on Wheels also seeks to expand nationwide, seeking out underprivileged youths – truly living up to PUP’s reputation of giving people, regardless of their stature, a chance at a quality education.
“The goal is straightforward: to bring education to those who cannot afford it, right at their doorstep. This would not have been possible without the generous contributions of our donors, all of whom shared the same vision of educating the next generation,” Manuel explains.
Currently, Education on Wheels has 65 students under the Bachelor of Science in Office Administration. Their courses are TESDA inclined, which guarantees them a job after two years of education.
PUP has come a long way as it is now regarded as the top choice for employers, according to JobStreet. It is now known as the number one producer of professionals in different fields.
The university continues to raise its proud colors as it always claims its spot as one of the country’s top-performing schools. Board top-notchers also hail from various courses such as engineering, accounting, law, nutrition and dieticians, psychometrician, and education, among others.
On criticisms and challenges
Since he sat in the highest position in the university, he has been faced with criticisms and various side comments from various sectors. Being in such a vulnerable post means that Manuel needs to have the right mindset to deal with them professionally.
“I was also once a student of PUP and alam ko po ang mga kailangang baguhin sa Sintang Paaralan, and this is their assurance that someone understands them at hindi natin hahayaan na mahihirapan ang ating mga estudyante,” he shares. He knows that no leadership is perfect, but for it to work, he has to listen to his constituents.
Manuel is aware that PUPians have valid concerns and that they only want what’s best for the entire student population-–a sentiment that Manuel shared back when he was still a student. This kind of connection, as he says, brings him closer to the calls of the studentry and makes him more adept at their needs and concerns.
“We always hear our students, sila ang priority. We always make sure that their frustrations are validated and heard. We understand them and make sure we address their concerns right away,” Manuel adds.
PUP is one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, but Manuel knows it has so much potential to be more, unlock more doors, and open up new opportunities for students and employees alike. The university has always been in the service of the Filipino people, which also educates them about the realities of life and how the world essentially works. While this resiliency is commonly romanticized, Manuel sees it as undeniably patriotic.
“Lagi’t lagi naming binabanggit, ‘Mula sa ‘yo para sa bayan.’ Ito po ang identity ng isang PUPian. Buong husay na maglilingkod at magsisilbi para sa bayan. Nandyan ang Sintang Paaralan na kaisa sa pagtataguyod ng maunlad na bansa,” he expounds. “PUPians know that in everything they do, it must be for the country’s sake and for the masses.”
For Manuel, this is what makes PUP different from the other universities. “PUP taught me to accept where I am and honor where I am. Accepting where you are and realizing how far you still have to go and learn is another aspect of humility,” he explains.
The university has taught him life lessons that he carries up to this day, making him more grounded and humbled tirelessly. As the University President, Manuel has several plans that he wishes to implement to ensure that everybody is given the same chance as he was, decades ago.
The current PUP administration is now focusing on reaching the elusive National Polytechnic University status, which will eventually raise the university’s status and open more doors for the students.
“In the coming years, we would like to continue utilizing these by building better infrastructure, as well as higher educational standards. Several plans have been developed for PUP, and these plans will serve to demonstrate that the university is truly concerned with the interests of its stakeholders, particularly our students,” Manuel elaborates.
PUP has been a safe place for Manuel as a student, and as he sits as the University President, he also seeks to make students and employees feel at home within its walls. The university has been through various ups and downs during his administration, but one thing is for sure – he ensures that PUP will stay true to its nature of being a beacon of hope, critical thinking, and quality education for everyone. There is so much to look forward to, and Manuel is determined to do a great job at helping these plans become a reality.
(Ruby’s Precious Moments 3rd anniversary Special Feature)
As we approach the end of March, women’s month may come to an end but the fight for women’s rights and women empowerment continues. These notable women have been successful and prominent in their respective fields, making a name for themselves in their chosen careers. Here are their thoughts on how women’s empowerment has changed their lives and how it revolutionized their careers.
Sustaining a culinary endeavor through strength and consistency
Evelyn Wise has been busy in the kitchen, not just by cooking sumptuous dishes but by also proving that women can also thrive in various careers. For her, women’s empowerment relies heavily on strength and consistency.
At the age of 69, Evelyn splendidly manages Tia Belle’s as its owner and chef, ensuring that women can also build, sustain, and innovate businesses in any industry. She relies on her inner strength to get things done and on her consistency to keep her business afloat. “Never go back, keep going despite the ups and downs,” she advises young women.
As she works in a hectic environment, Evelyn also views that women’s empowerment is also as vital as gender equality. “We must learn to work with both men and women,” she says.
Being a part of the culinary sector, Evelyn sees to it that her employees are judged based on their skills and merit and not by their sex or gender. Furthermore, her patience helps her greatly in managing her employees. “Be determined to motivate your people,” she says because noting their efforts will also contribute to the overall success of Tia Belle’s.
On creative freedom, empowering herself and other people
The Filipino local art community is a flourishing sector that seeks to cement its contributions to the innovation of homegrown art in our country. Bambina Aseron is an artist that has made a name for herself in the art scene, both as an artist and an art consultant.
For her, the local art scene accepted her despite her flaws, which helped her feel empowered and strong. “Art and the local Filipino art community always remind me to have the courage to accept myself for who I am even though I know I’m not perfect,” Bambina elaborates. It can be said that art also centers on self-expression, and Bambina has taken into account the creative freedom and power given to her through her art, and she tends to use it to empower other people.
Bambina also emphasizes that women empowerment is also about women’s agency or their ability and freedom to make their own choices for themselves. It can be hard to find one’s voice in this society that imposes judgment way too quickly and in a country where discrimination is rampant.
Bambina considers herself empowered through her art, for it gives her the keys to her voice. “Women empowerment to me is knowing that I always have the power to exercise my creativity and that I have the power of choice in all aspects of my life,” she expounds.
Even though Bambina dabbles in a lot of roles within the art community, she still considers herself an art person wholly. Her passion for art is what drives her to take up space in this society as a woman and as an artist.
While art empowers her to make such fine pieces and to flourish in this industry, she also views art as a medium wherein others can also find comfort and power as well. Being in control of one’s piece and creative power is such a wonderful thing, and for Bambina, she’s lucky enough to experience and witness it at the same time.
Women are meant to shatter glass ceilings and exceed expectations, and they need to be duly recognized for their worthy contributions to our society. However, as women’s month ends, our fight for women’s rights and women’s empowerment must not stop here, it must continue. Women deserve to be celebrated every day for who they are, what they do, and what they can be.
Summer is fast approaching and we can’t simply wait to dip our toes in the beach and lie down in the lush sand. It’s what summer is for– having the utmost fun while sightseeing and unwinding as well. These underrated spots are just the right destination for your next summer getaway!
Cabagnow Cave Pool in Bohol
While Bohol is largely known for its famous Chocolate hills, it is also home to beautiful caverns and caves. One of the most breathtaking cave pools in Anda, Bohol is the Cabagnow Cave Pool, locally known as “Kabagno,” which is a spot fit for swimming enthusiasts and thrill-seekers.
Cabagnow Cave Pool is home to crystal clear waters filtering from limestones that have been a cornerstone of the pond’s features for several years now. Due to the soft nature of the rock, aided by the consistent movement of water and other geologic processes, caves were formed in several parts of Bohol.
Located at Sitio Fatima, Bacong Anda, Bohol, the Cabagnow Cave Pool is 20-25 feet deep, and if you like cliff diving, it has an estimated height of 15-18 feet that’s satisfying for adrenaline seekers. However, if you’re on the safe side, the caretakers have also installed an iron ladder which tourists can use to go down slowly into the pool or to ease themselves into the feeling of the cold water. Ring buoys are also available, especially for amateur swimmers or those who want to ensure their safety.
Danjugan Island in Negros Occidental
Danjugan Island is located three kilometers off the coast of Brgy. Bulata, Cauayan, and Negros Occidental are surrounded by a marine sanctuary. This 43-hectare island, 1.5 kilometers long and a half kilometer wide, is rich in natural wonders that remained protected and treasured by the locals.
The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization, conserved this particular beauty. Aside from being starstruck by the wonderful view and magnificent waters, the Danjugan Island also helps educate tourists about environmentalism and conservation of Philippine precious jewels such as this.
With its incredible features, Danjugan Island makes people feel soulfully present. It has five lagoons, a bamboo bridge, an amazing sunset view deck, all alongside several beaches. Several activities are perfect for individuals or big families, such as trekking, bird watching, kayaking, snorkeling, skin diving, and parasailing, among others. If you want to take a breather, you can also check out their nature walks and fabulous massage packages.
The “Pink Beach” or Sila Island in Northern Samar
Just by its name, the Pink Beach or the Sila Island is uniquely beautiful in itself. It is called pink beach due to its reddish sand, almost suiting the shade of pink. This underrated destination has been San Vicente’s best-kept secret, which has saved it from over-commercialization.
The pink sand comes from the natural color of the coral and shell fragments. Through the years, these tiny materials have mixed with the beach’s original white sand. When the sun is bright during midday, it also turns to a shade of saturated red. In this lush paradise, tourists can swim, snorkel, and even go scuba diving. Moreover, camping out is also a popular activity here, as long as the claygo rule is followed.
Casa Mendoza Garden Resort in Pansol, Laguna
For those looking for a resort with accommodation, all in one– Casa Mendoza has it all! Located in Pansol, Laguna, Casa Mendoza aims to give people the relaxation and the high-quality service they deserve.
Casa Mendoza unveils its main feature, the Hot Spring kiddie, and adult pools, which are perfect for families and big groups looking for a soothing bath to calm their nerves. It also has other amenities suitable for family outings. It has an entertainment area that contains a videoke and a television with cable; a sports area which has a dartboard, chess boards, and a badminton set. For kids, it has a garden play area that can keep them safe and excited.
Moreover, Casa Mendoza has a variety of air-conditioned rooms that are suitable for up to 16 persons, and even a conference hall for company events. When convenience and pleasure collide, Casa Mendoza is truly the place to be!
This summer, make sure that you’re refreshed and rested by booking your next getaway in these exhilarating summer destinations. Have a well-deserved fun vacation!
Now that graduation is drawing near, everything feels like a hazy blur. All the plans and requirements that need to be completed before the actual rites can be stressful at some point. With all these things in mind, planning a memorable graduation celebration can be a challenge. Don’t panic – we know just the right place!
Tia Belle’s is Tagaytay’s best-kept secret – a haven of great food partnered with a wonderful ambiance, all within a few hours’ drive away from Manila. It features a variety of Filipino cuisine that will surely make your mouth water and your heart swell with pride. True to its word, Tia Belle’s Tagaytay will surely give you a taste of home.
Evelyn Wise, the person behind Tia Belle’s, is deeply committed to paying homage to the diverse culinary history of the Philippines. As a Nueva Ecija native, she has been exposed early on to the dynamic nature of cooking. For Evelyn, cooking is both an art and a skill. “Every time I am in the kitchen, cooking and concocting sauces, I feel like dancing — dancing with my wok,” she playfully narrates. Her love for cooking is honed with her burning passion and dedication.
She had her share of travel as she also spent 20 years living in Europe, basking in the shores of international cuisine until Evelyn felt that there is no place like home – the very words that established Tia Belle’s to the culinary beacon it stands today. With each year, it grows and expands to being one of the best-rated restaurants in the South.
Each dish served in Tia Belle’s is intricately cooked to perfection, with its ingredients and methods stemming from genuine Filipino cuisine. Among her best sellers are the flavor-rich Pancit Malabon and cheesy Pichi-pichi. Travelers from all over the country also come for Tia Belle’s lomi assortments, the ever-so-fantastic Bulalo lomi, and Mucho lomi.
Of course, Tia Belle’s also pays attention to homegrown recipes. This sumptuous lineup includes the classic nilagang baka Tagalog (Bulalo), lumpiang bukid and the crunchy lumpiang Laguna, and of course, the piping hot crispy pata that makes everyone’s mouth water. These dishes are perfect for families looking for a traditional home-cooked meal while celebrating a lifetime achievement.
Tia Belle’s has always valued Filipino values more than anything, which is why its hospitality is like no other. “We want to be of service to our fellow countrymen while keeping and incorporating the important values and traditions of what being Filipino is all about,” Evelyn proudly shares. She wants Tia Belle’s to feel like a home wherein everybody can dine and share stories, all while keeping the Filipino culture and spirit alive.
As you enter Tia Belle’s, a warm welcome from the staff, and even Tia Belle herself will envelop customers with pride and happiness. Of course, they love taking part in their customers’ milestones too – which is why Tia Belle’s is the go-to restaurant for family occasions and celebrations.
Aside from its variety of scrumptious dishes, dining at Tia Belle’s feels like traveling back in time as they play Kundimans while the customers enjoy their meals. Their interior design has so much to say as well – the native Filipino trimmings and antique setup give off the ancestral home vibe.
Tia Belle’s also offers dine-in, take-out, and delivery options. They also accept advance orders and pick-ups. Health protocols are also strictly observed on the premises. To complete Tia Belle’s dining experience, customers can also visit the gift shop, Tia’s Aromatherapy Essential Oil and Cleopatra from Canada. They sell souvenirs and pasalubong to bring home to your loved ones.
For your graduation celebration, Tia Belle’s got you – it will surely reward your hardships with a glorious Filipino feast!
Tia Belle’s can be found at Putingkahoy, Silang Cavite, along Tagaytay – Sta. Rosa Rd. To learn more, you may contact them through these phone numbers: (049) 576 4155; 0939 3868 648; 0927 7133 558; 0929 1852 084; and 09554985998.
Since countries have opened their borders and entertained visitors, people have been traveling and living their lives in the realm of adventure and wanderlust. Traveling can indeed heal and eventually lead us to places we didn’t know existed. But now that restrictions are relatively relaxed, where do we go? You might want to consider adding these places to your bucket list!
Dubai, Arab Emirates
Dubai is known worldwide for its exhilarating tourist spots. It stands proud of its Burg Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, reaching up to 2,716 feet tall. Dubai also takes great importance in its diverse culture, which is evident in its Dubai Museum.
It is famously located at the Al-Fahidi Fort, which was built way back in 1787 to defend the Dubai Creek, which is also the home to gold, textile, and spice souks (marketplace). If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you may want to check out the hot air balloon over the desert dunes, or the IMG Worlds of Adventure speed rides. Dubai will take your breath away– both literally and figuratively!
London, United Kingdom
Who wouldn’t want to explore the streets where Harry Potter came to life, and the roads where Sherlock Holmes walked on? London is definitely on the bucket list of pure-blooded literary fangirls.
Aside from its regal royalty, London is famous for its London Eye, which is a giant Ferris wheel that offers a majestic view of the city–and it shines extra brightly at night. If you’re craving for the nightlife, Soho is the place to be, welcoming you with its bars and classy restaurants. Of course, the trip won’t be complete for film enthusiasts without visiting the British Film Institute. It shows different films every day, from recent blockbusters to cult classics. London will surely feed your pop culture knowledge!
Looking for a sunny, beach party vibe for your next trip? The ever-so-tropical Cancun is just the right place for you! Check out the fancy hotels located at their very own Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone), which also offers the wild nightlife and parties by the beach down at the Kulkukan Boulevard.
For the real Cancun food experience, drive down to the Avenida Tulum, which features their all-time favorite– authentic Mexican tacos! Diving and swimming is also something that Cancun offers through its numerous spots in the Ruta De Cenotes (Cenote Route), which are natural pools formed within limestone caves. It’s true– Cancun wakes the fun within you!
Famous for the serenity and soul it brings to its tourists, Bali continues enticing people to rest in its lush spots. Also known as the ‘Island of the Gods,’ Bali provides people the rest they need with its seas and beaches.
It is also a haven for surfers, which the waves of Kuta Beach readily welcome. Bali is also famous for its intricate temples, such as the Ulun Danu Temple, which is dedicated to the goddess of the lakes. You may also seek enlightenment and relaxation in Yoga Barn’s famous retreats, each a more freeing session than the other. Or maybe you feel like flying– jetpacking in Tanjung Benoa must be on your list. Whether it’s for fun or relaxation, Bali has it all for you!
The birthplace of the Olympian Gods, Crete offers a tapestry of culture, lore, and adventure. One of the most historical places in Europe, the Heraklion Archeological Museum should be your first stop to acquaint yourself with the rich culture of Crete.
Explore history through the cobblestone streets of Rethymno Old Town, the best-preserved town on the island. You might also want to visit Lake Voulismeni, famous for being seemingly bottomless– reaching down as far as 64 meters. If you’re a mythology buff, the caves of Mt. Ida might just interest you, the birthplace of Zeus himself! Crete dabbles between the past and the future, so let it be your present destination!
Traveling can be such a hassle, but the majestic destination often makes up for all the trouble. Hurry now and book your next trip–have fun and safe skies, traveler!
By Princess Friel Lontoc
Featured photo: Bali, Indonesia courtesy of Hotels.com
My eight-year-old tablet has shown some malfunctions lately, perhaps due to many years of frequent use. I would surmise that it will just conk out in the coming days.
It came as a relief when I was introduced to this newly released Nokia T20. It brings awesome holiday cheer! I checked it out and study the features.
The package includes Nokia T20, cable, charger, and quick start guide. The manual is very easy to follow, and in no time, I was able to switch the tablet on and display an ocean view screen. It has easy access to the Google apps you use most as well.
Here are some salient features of the Nokia T20:
The Nokia T20 tablet brings the classic quality people expect from a Nokia phone to the big screen. With our various online work and moments of relaxation, the crystal clear 2K resolution screen lets you see work presentations and movie marathons in stunning detail.
Immersed in sound
Hear and be heard clearly with its enhanced stereo speakers and dual microphones with AI noise reduction, and OZO playback.
Power through your day with an 8200mAh battery and fast charging.
This means you can take part in up to seven hours of conference calls, enjoy your favorite show, or work and play throughout the day with its long-lasting battery.
Secure for longer
Like all Nokia devices, the T20 has three years of monthly security updates and two years of OS upgrades allowing the device to run smoother for a longer time. It is reliable and future-proof.
Better for kids
Google Kids Space is designed to nurture your kid’s curiosity and creativity, inspiring them to explore their interests through recommended apps, books, and videos. Google Kids Space is designed for kids and works with your child’s Google Account that parents can help manage with Family Link parental controls4.
Whether you’re playing games or multitasking across apps, the Nokia T20 has an octa-core chipset, ensuring a fast and reliable user experience.
Sharing here the key specifications of the Nokia T20 for your guide:
Operating system: Android 11TM | Two years of OS upgrades
Dimensions: Size: 247.6 x 157.5 x 7.8mm | Weight: 470g, Wifi only 465g
Security: Face unlock | Three years of monthly security updates
Other: Google Kids Space | Google Entertainment Space
Designed, built, and tested with the same passion as all Nokia phones, Nokia T20 brings that trusted quality so you have one less thing to worry about when you purchase the unit as a holiday present to your loved ones.
1 Nokia T20 offers 10 hours of video streaming time, 15 hours of web surfing time, or 7 hours of video calling time based on our real-life usage test. More info at https://www.nokia.com/tablets/nokia-T20. Actual results may vary due to changes in connectivity, environmental conditions, or other variables.
2 From global product launch.
3Nokia T20 supports 15W fast charging.
4Google Kids Space requires a Google Account for your child. Parental controls require the Family Link app on a supported Android, Chromebook, or iOS device. Books and video content are not available in all regions. Video content is subject to the availability of the YouTube Kids app. Books content requires the Play Books app. Availability of apps, books, and video content may change without notice. Google Assistant is not available in Google Kids Space.
5All specifications, features, and other product information provided are subject to change without notice.
6Battery has limited recharge cycles and battery capacity reduces over time. Eventually, the battery may need to be replaced.
7Pre-installed system software and apps use a significant part of memory space. HMD Global Oy is the exclusive licensee of the Nokia brand for phones & tablets.
Nokia is a registered trademark of Nokia Corporation. Android, Google, and other related marks and logos are trademarks of Google LLC. Variations on offering may apply. Check local availability.
As part of its mission to better the lives of the underserved through technology, Shopee recently partnered with the Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation, Indoplas, and Metro Bangued Water District to provide aid to those affected by the magnitude 5.2 earthquake which impacted key areas of Abra last 28 August.
Through its logistics arm, Shopee Xpress, Shopee delivered drinking water and donated 10,000 face masks for over 300 families in Barangay Lusuac in the Municipality of Peñarrubia and Barangay Patucannay in the Municipality of Tayum. This initiative is part of Shopee Bayanihan, the company’s umbrella CSR arm that seeks to provide support for communities in need through partnerships with various humanitarian organizations.
Martin Yu, Director at Shopee Philippines, said “Shopee remains committed to utilizing our platform and resources to benefit local communities and part of this is providing help where we can, most especially in times of need. We hope for the recovery and continued safety of these affected communities.”
With Shopee Bayanihan, Shopee furthers its objective of serving the underserved through technology, by helping communities benefit from the power of digital transformation wherever they are in the Philippines.
Globe is celebrating life’s big and small wins this year with an EXTRA special 917 GDay. For the first time since the pandemic, its much-anticipated G Music Fest will be held live on-ground, offering the best in music, entertainment, culture, and arts.
The National G Day on September 17, or 917, is Globe’s annual tradition of giving back to its customers, set on a date that is symbolic of Globe’s iconic mobile number prefix. This year, the event will be held at Circuit Makati, where exciting rewards and surprises await everyone, guaranteed to turn ordinary days into something extraordinary.
To ensure a safe environment, Globe, a staunch sustainability advocate, is calling for festival goers’ and their partners’ participation in observing health and safety protocols and properly disposing of their waste and limiting the use of single-use plastics during the event.
“As we come together to enjoy a fun and exciting day of music and togetherness, Globe keeps in mind that sustainability is a priority. We have set recommendations to help our festival goers follow sustainable practices while still making the most out of our extra special GDay,” said Jerome Patalud, Head of Globe Rewards.
Here are ways our festival-goers can have fun while still taking care of the environment at the G Music Fest:
Clean As You Go (CLAYGO)
Festival-goers are encouraged to keep the festival grounds clean by throwing their trash properly in the assigned bins. There will be six (6) sets of bins labeled biodegradable, non-biodegradable, and recyclables around the concert grounds.
For guidance of event attendees, these are particular to:
Biodegradable waste – leftover food
Non-biodegradable waste – used utensils, paper cups and food packaging
Recyclables – aluminum cans and PET bottles
Use GCash for transactions
We also encourage concert goers to go cashless in transacting with establishments at the event, as all stalls are equipped to accept GCash payments.
Globe is also deploying GET electric buses for festival-goers, who will be able to get a ride from two routes:
Ayala One (Ayala Ave, Central Business District) straight to Circuit Makati
LRT Gil Puyat Station (Buendia cor. Taft Ave.) to Circuit Makati.
This service will be available throughout the whole day, making multiple trips back-and-forth from the pick-up point and concert venue. To avail of the ride, Globe and TM Customers just need to show their New Globe One app.
In light of recent announcements on loosening mask wearing restrictions outdoors, Globe is strongly encouraging all concert-goers to wear face masks at all times to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Festival goers must also bring their vaccination cards as these will be checked upon entry to the venue.
Medical assistance will be available on-site with 20 medics, 3 ambulances, and 1 fire truck ready to respond in case of any emergency. A firetruck will also be on standby at the venue.
Festival goers are encouraged to bring jackets, caps or raincoats, and folding umbrellas in case of inclement weather. Full-size umbrellas with pointed ends are prohibited as a safety precaution.
Now in its third year, G Music Fest was born during the health crisis to inspire optimism and recognize the Filipinos’ continued patronage of Globe. It has featured some of the best local and international music artists, including LANY, Honne, BEKA, Vance Joy, SB19, The Juans, December Avenue, and more.
On top of the live performances, GDay will have meet and greet sessions with Globe Brand Ambassadors and endorsers. Different brands and rewards booths will be available at the venue for extra treats and surprises. Food halls, bars, and various merchandise will also be present at the event hall.
In the face of adversity, Filipinos have always risen above every challenge by fostering the spirit of bayanihan. This spirit of community and togetherness is what Shopee recognized and strived for when it first launched Shopee Bayanihan — its umbrella CSR arm that aims to harness the power of technology to serve its customers, sellers, partner riders, and all Filipinos across the country.
Today, Shopee Bayanihan continues to evolve as a multifaceted program with various initiatives that cater to the needs of Filipinos. Each of these initiatives are grounded in its main mission to better the lives of the underserved through technology—to be there for every Filipino through every hardship and victory.
In line with these efforts, Shopee highlights the inspiring stories of five individuals, and how Shopee was able to support them in their time of need and help improve their lives. Watch the full video here.
Roel, Shopee Xpress Partner Rider (TransOrient Agency): A hardworking father who strives to provide
Roel’s journey with Shopee Xpress started when he joined the TransOrient Agency and was placed in the Bacoor Hub. Prior to that, he admitted that he was struggling to make ends meet. By becoming a Shopee Xpress partner rider, he was able to provide for his family and send his children to school. “Kapag ako sumuko pa, paano na sila? Wala namang lalaban sa pamilya natin kung hindi tayo,” Roel says.
Roel shared that one of his happiest moments was when his son asked him to wear his Shopee Xpress uniform at his graduation ceremony. He realized that his son was very proud of him, and appreciated everything he had done. “Nabago ng Shopee ang buhay ko at ng pamilya ko. Ako ay isang proud Shopee Xpress rider!” says Roel.
Virginia, Shopee Bayanihan: Typhoon Odette Beneficiary: Conquering fear as one community
Virginia is one of the many beneficiaries of Shopee Bayanihan’s Typhoon Odette Support. She shared that her experience with the typhoon left her frightened and worried about the future of her family and her home. “I was shivering at the thought of what could happen because both my husband and I are sick. I didn’t know what to do. All I could do was pray for the strong winds to stop.” she says.
When Shopee Bayanihan’s Typhoon Odette Support rolled out to affected areas in Cebu, Bohol, and Surigao, Virginia, her fellow residents of Tinago, Cebu, were one among the beneficiaries that received relief packs and other essentials. “We’re grateful that help came to our community. We were not expecting this, and had no idea that Shopee was going to be there in our time of need,” she says.
Mark and Angel, Shopee Sellers: Fighting for their family by driving their business forward
Mark and Angel nearly lost their daughter to biliary atresia, a rare condition that affected her liver and required her to undergo an expensive procedure abroad. To provide for their family and help pay for Avery’s maintenance medicine, the couple decided to start their business, Live Pillow. Before taking their business online, they struggled to generate sales. “May mga araw po talaga na wala kaming benta, at sobrang lungkot po namin ni partner nun,” shared Mark.
When they put up a store on Shopee, they were able to reach new customers, generating thousands of orders. Now, Mark and Angel were able to expand their business by having their own staff and warehouse. “Dahil sa Shopee, nagkaroon kami ng pangalawang pamilya at ang staff po namin ‘yun. Lahat kayo, lahat tayo dito, pamilya,” says Angel.
Jocell, Shopee Girl ng Pook Dagohoy: Finding the best deals to support her family
Known as the “Shopee Girl ng Pook Dagohoy”, stay-at-home mom Jocelle shared that it was hard for her to find a way to save due to her family’s debt. “Nalubog kami sa utang. Nung nagka-pandemic, nawalan ng trabaho yung asawa ko. Nangungutang na lang ako ulit para may maibayad sa utang din namin,” says Jocell.
Through Shopee, she was able to save on all her essentials and bills. “Na-diskubre ko na pwede akong umorder ng mga diaper na naka-sale sa Shopee, kaya sobrang nakakatipid ako. Yung ShopeePay bills payment naman po doon po ako nagbabayad ng ilaw at tubig para makakuha ng cashback,” she shares.
Today, Jocelle can manage her expenses better, as she can get better deals on her family’s needs on Shopee. “Parte na talaga si Shopee ng buhay namin,” says Jocell.
Bangkok, Thailand – Exquisine Global, the international ambassador of Thai cuisine and successful franchisor of Mango Tree, COCA Restaurants, and Yenly Yours around the world, is confidently moving forward with its expansion plans in Vietnam, as its landmark partnership with Novaland Group starts to realize immediate benefits.
These two leading Asian F&B companies announced their ground-breaking collaboration last year, to introduce more of Exquisine Global’s popular Thai culinary concepts to Vietnam. This powerful alliance has already led to the launch of two Mango Tree Bangkok Eatery outlets, bringing upbeat and authentic Thai dining to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest metropolis, and Ho Tram, the world-class resort destination overlooking the East Sea.
From September 2022, these two vibrant restaurants will be complemented by a third Mango Tree Bangkok Eatery in Phan Thiet, the popular seaside town which is easily accessible from Ho Chi Minh City. Exquisine Global and Novaland are now planning to bring their innovative, industry-leading brands to even more diners in Vietnam with a flagship Mango Tree full-service restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City and further openings in popular urban and resort locations across the country.
Vietnam is emerging as one of the most compelling Asian markets for visitors and investors alike, with a large, youthful population and rising affluence. Economic growth is forecast to reach 7.5% in 2022*, as the country rebounds strongly from the impact of the global pandemic. All over Vietnam, new travel, tourism, and leisure infrastructure are creating fresh opportunities for experience-seeking travelers. This attractive Southeast Asian nation is now fully open to international visitors, with no entry restrictions.
Exquisine Global is no stranger to Vietnam, having operated COCA restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi since 2007. The signing of its partnership with Novaland in 2021 marked a significant escalation of its nationwide expansion strategy, with a multi-brand approach that will target many established and newly-emerging destinations. Vietnamese diners appreciate exceptional dining and Exquisine Global’s diverse collection of concepts, from full-service restaurants to casual cafés, will satisfy this appetite for high-quality Thai cuisine.
“Vietnam is such a hot market right now, and we are delighted to have partnered with one of the nation’s leading players to accelerate our growth in this important country. Our new Mango Tree Bangkok Eatery in Ho Chi Minh City is full every day, which not only demonstrates the rising popularity of our brands but also the fact that consumer confidence has returned to Vietnam and that the F&B market is thriving once again,” said Trevor MacKenzie, Managing Director of Exquisine Global.
The Vietnam expansion strategy forms part of a wider success story for the company. Last year, despite the pandemic disrupting life and travel, Exquisine Global opened 10 new dining destinations in four countries: China, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. This growth is being ramped up in 2022, with 25 new outlets set to open in 10 countries and territories, covering six of its industry-leading brands.
The company now operates more than 78 full-service restaurants and casual dining outlets around the globe and is striding confidently towards its target of 100 outlets worldwide.
Overdoughs, famous for its mouthwatering chonky cookies and donuts, stands out not just for its products but for providing employment and opportunities for the deaf.
When his mother was pregnant with him, she contracted German measles. This caused 31-year-old Jan Aldrin L. Lontoc to be born deaf. Lontoc, however, did not allow his condition to affect what he wanted to achieve in life – to be the best version of himself and to be a valuable member of the community.
After graduating from a two-year course in hotel and restaurant services, Lontoc worked as a part-time waiter in a catering company. He also had stints in Bench and Hapee Toothpaste.
“I learned about the Caravan Food Group, Inc. when I submitted my resume at the UNILAB Office. And that was the start of my working relationship with Elait in 2017,” Lontoc said.
The Caravan Food Group Inc. is the company behind Elait and Overdoughs. Elait offers ice cream where customers can witness ice cream being rolled with their favorite flavors right in front of them. Overdoughs, on the other hand, offers their very own versions of donuts or doughnuts, mouthwatering chunky cookies or Chonky Cookies, brownies or brookies, pizza, and fries.
What makes these two establishments stand out is that they provide employment and opportunities for the deaf.
“When I was a teenager, I remember visiting a clothing shop. The employees at the shop were all at the cashier talking to each other. And then there was a guy who approached me but he was not talking. He was trying his best to assist me and it was then that I noticed that there was a name tag and the word deaf was placed,’ recalled Francis Carl Reyes, CEO, and Founder of Caravan Food Group Inc.
That was Reyes’ first experience with a deaf person who he felt was the “epitome of good customer service. No matter who you are, he is going to assist you. No judgment.” That experience made him decide that he would employ deaf partners for his store.
He tried out the deaf partner program initially with Elait. When he saw that it was doing well, he implemented it at Overdoughs. Initially, Reyes started with two tables and two deaf partners and he would be observing how they were doing their jobs.
Before he was deployed in Elait, Lontoc underwent training and he said that it was a good experience for him.
“I learned a lot during my training with Elait. I learned how to roll the ice cream properly and serve customers. After a while, my supervisors allowed me to transfer to Overdoughs. There, I learned to prepare the doughnuts and our best-selling Chonky Cookies,” Lontoc said.
Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lontoc persevered and rose the ranks to become a team leader in just five years.
“As of now, I am currently in training to be an area supervisor and I am very thankful to my managers because they are very supportive,” Lontoc said.
Lontoc will have his hands full in the coming months as Reyes hopes to convert more of their Overdoughs outlets into cafes so that customers can get to savor their other products like pizzas, fried chicken, fries, and empanadas.
Overdoughs currently has one such outlet in Greenhills where customers can not only enjoy good food but do good as well.
“I have learned to do my best, to be patient, trustworthy, dependable. I want to be a successful area supervisor, a position, I hope I can have for a lifetime. Now that I am married, I want to have a stable job for my family,” Lontoc said.