FinTech Alliance PH elevates AI discourse in Manila Tech Summit

Fintech Alliance.PH, the country’s premier association of fintech and digital innovators announced that it is gathering the largest number of fintech, finance, and digital finance organizations in the upcoming Manila Tech Summit to discuss the impact of the AI Revolution to bolstering Philippine economic growth.

Formerly known as INDX – Inclusion and Digital Transformation Summit, the fourth installment of the much-awaited prestigious collective of organizations is focused on the theme “AI Unlocked: Shaping Our Digital Future,” and is set to take place on August 6-7, 2024, at the Manila Marriott Hotel, Newport World Resorts, Pasay City.

The Manila Tech Summit aims to explore the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) in reshaping the nation’s landscape and driving economic prosperity, efficiency, and innovation across key sectors such as finance, education, agriculture, healthcare, transportation, and e-commerce.

Fintech Alliance.PH also sealed its partnerships with Philippine Marketing Association (PMA), Global AI Council, and Credit Information Corporation (CIC). PMA President and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Newport World Business Kathy Mercado, Global AI Council President Catherine Jalandoni, and CIC President and CEO Atty. Ben Salazar were present to forge the strategic partnerships of their organizations with the leading fintech organization.

Lito Villanueva, Founding Chairman of the Fintech Alliance and RCBC Executive Vice President and Chief Innovations and Inclusion Officer, emphasized the dent that AI has and will make on the Philippine economy. “AI is not just a tool; it is a transformative force that will reshape industries, influence economies, and cultivate innovation. Our theme reflects our collective aspiration to harness the immense potential of AI to drive progress, enhance efficiencies, and create unparalleled opportunities for growth.”

Villannueva added that it is the perfect time for the whole industry to come together and elevate the discourse on the future of AI in the Philippines.

“Being a step ahead means incubating ideas, motivating peers, and mainstreaming coopetition. After all, we can only continue thriving as an industry by tackling challenges and opportunities ahead, and plotting our future together through healthy competition and meaningful collaborations not only here but regionally and globally,” Villanueva expounded.

The event is expected to be an opportunity for members of the finance and fintech sector to identify the current trajectory of the industry and to leverage the emergence of AI technologies within the country and globally for sustained growth.

The two-day summit will feature keynote speeches, panel discussions, and collaborative learning opportunities on the following topics: Issues and Challenges on AI Adoption in Asia, Harnessing AI: Evolving Skill Sets for the Tech Industry, Cities of the Future: Developing a Digital City, The Horizon of Quantum Computing, AI and Machine Learning In FinTech: Balancing Customer and Creditor Protection, AI Pathways to Socio-economic Development, Building the Great Wall of Cybersecurity: Upskilling Filipinos for the Next Industrial Revolution, and The Future of Filipino Artificial Intelligence.

Since its inception, the summit has become a flagship event for Fintech Alliance, serving as an exceptional platform for learning and networking among professionals and stakeholders committed to sustainable digital transformation. The event has grown significantly over the years, attracting participants from various industries. Attendees will have the chance to engage with economic policymakers, industry leaders, practitioners, legislators, and government partners involved in digital finance, digital transformation, innovations, and strategy.

The Manila Tech Summit is staged in collaboration with several government agencies, including the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Finance, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Development Company, National Privacy Commission, Credit Information Corporation, Insurance Commission, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and National Economic Development Authority. A number of strategic private partners will also be joining this biggest tech event in the country such as the Asian Institute of Management, Ateneo John Gokongwei School of Management, International Data Corporation, ASEAN Economic Forum, Asia FinTech Alliance, AI Global Council, Philippine Marketing Association, BDO, Insight Genie, Huawei, Shield, Digital Bank Associations, Grab Defence, Netcore, IDFy, GCash, Bureau Inc., Tata Consultancy Services, SID Technology, Institute of Internal Auditors, InvestHK, Globe Business, LinkedIn, Philippine Airlines, PLDT, and WIZ.AI.

To register for the event, please visit: https://fintechalliance.ph/

#FintechAlliancePH #ManilaTechSummit #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

The Allure of Angelique Lazo

Her main goal in life is “to continue to be of service to my fellowmen. For a career to be worthwhile, it should carry a social responsibility. If by what I do as a job, I could put a smile on someone’s face, I would.”

 

Angelique Lazo is a woman who has known romance, enjoyed its thrills and basked in its unspoken joys and experiences, and decided that love is more than all these. Her concept of love has matured. “Love is being able to maintain a relationship, staying in it through good and bad times,” she related.

Her main goal in life is “to continue to be of service to my fellowmen. For a career to be worthwhile, it should carry a social responsibility. If by what I do as a job, I could put a smile on someone’s face, I would.”

According to her being a media practitioner is “one of the best careers that one can have. At least, if you are not a total expert in it, you can interview the experts and you meet a lot of people. You learn a lot, too.”

She is in person as she is onscreen. She’s a person full of love, and full of wisdom. Her outlook is very positive. And she’s a very musical person. “I think I will die singing. I’ve inherited my singing voice from my mom (Susie). My mom is an original opera singer. I come from a family of entertainment people.”

Angelique has a wonderful family, to start with. His dad, Liberato Lazo, is a military man, gentle and astute. According to her, he’s a “walking encyclopedia.” Her mom Susie is an artist. Angelique is the only girl in a brood of four. Needless to say, Lazo’s children are all musically-inclined.

I asked her, are you happy? “You make your own happiness. Oo naman, hindi ba halata?”

Angelique is now enjoying wedded bliss. She’s regularly seen as the news anchor of Sentro Balita, the afternoon newscast of the People’s Television Network.

Here are the excerpts of the Q & A:

 

  • You once said that for a career to be worthwhile it should carry a social responsibility, how will you extend this to your fellow journalists?

I’m not going to say bad things about other people. I’ll start it with myself. I don’t agree with envelop-mental journalism—especially if you’re distorting the truth. You have to lead by example.

  • Will you sacrifice your profession for money?

You have to weigh things in the light of the future and the legacy you want to leave. Kung sa iyo okay lang na ganoon ang image mo pero trash naman ang ginagawa mo, kagustuhan mo ‘yan. Money you spend, and lose eventually.

  • Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in Japan. I stayed there for eight years. And because of that, they thought that I was “Japayuki.” Kasi ang ibig sabihin talaga ng Japayuki ay galing sa Japan. In Japan, I learned a lot about their culture. I spoke their language. Life in Japan is different. Japanese people will teach you to clean your surroundings. They have a deep sense of respect for themselves and others. Living there, I became a more diligent Filipino. I studied there from grade school to high school. But in all honesty, our educational system is still the best.

  • What do you think is the solid foundation for a relationship to last?

Communication. You should never shut out the other. Once you stop talking that’s the end of it. There is no problem big enough if you talk it over. Another one is putting yourself in the other’s shoes. You won’t judge him right away. You would understand him more. And most of all, there should be between you a keen sense of integrity.

  • If you were to choose between love and career, what will you choose?

My mom chose love over career, and she’s happy. Love begets family. I think I would still choose family. I’m very family-oriented.

  • What is your greatest accomplishment so far?

Simple lang. These are the speaking engagements that I was invited to. For the fact that they invited me and interviewed me and in the process, they will tell you, “We want to be like you someday,” nakakaiyak, nakakataba ng puso. Kasi alam mo ‘yon hindi binabayaran, hindi gimmick.

  • What do you feel most grateful for?

My parents because they lead me towards the right path, because of the way they brought me up, have influenced me in the decision I make, my frame of mind, my sense of service, my zest for life. I was also thankful that I was able to study in good schools.

  • Whom do you admire most?

My dad and my mom. My mom had a flourishing career as an opera singer. She had a scholarship in Milan but chose to have a family. It’s hard to do that now; it’s self-sacrificing. We were brought up to appreciate things in life unlike some kids today who don’t value money. It seems life is so easy for them. Although my parents have means, they raised me to work hard, and not to be extravagant.

  • Aside from your family, what do you value in life?

Friendship. Sometimes your friends are your mirror. You will not see things for yourself, but they will tell you because they know you so well. I have a group of wonderful friends in the Ateneo Glee Club. We went on a trip all over the world. We’re together through thick and thin. There are also members of The CompanY.

(Based on the published feature article in the old Mirror Weekly magazine by the same author)

#AngeliqueLazoMayuga #newsanchor #preciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Photo courtesy: Angelique Lazo FB

Ashley Ortega: Young, pretty and talented

GMA artist Ashley Ortega, who at 25, is as Gen Z as you can get.

Last May 30, she has proven that she’s not just another pretty face. She bagged an international award – her first – at the 2024 Harlem International Film Festival, where she won Best Actress for the Cinemalaya entry As If It’s True opposite  Khalil Ramos, (the film is on Netflix’s Top 10 Movies in the Philippines Today list).

She’s athletic.  At three, when most girls were playing with dolls, Ashley was gliding in the skating rink where her parents (mom is Filipino-German and dad is Spanish-Filipino) brought her. “You’re free to do anything on ice,” she explains.  “It’s so smooth!  When you glide, no one teaches you what to do!”

“You’re free to do anything on ice,” Ashley explains.

No wonder joining the Olympics was her childhood dream.  And she represented the Philippines in tournaments held in Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Japan.

But God had another plan.  She appeared in TV commercials at 12 and was named Ms. Olive-C 2014 Campus Model.

Showbiz beckoned. A string of film and TV assignments followed.  She co-hosted Willie Revillame’s variety show Wowowin.  Lately, she made a mark as anti-hero in GMA 7’s  Widows’ Web.   She will soon be seen in the historical drama Pulang Araw starring Barbie Forteza and Alden Richards.

But one can’t have it all.  Behind that sunny disposition is the story of a girl who never knew her father, and grew up without a dad. “My parents separated when I was five,” she recalls. “It was hard at first.  We had no communication with my dad.”

But age was on hers – and her older brother and younger sister’s side.  They were too young to bear the emotional scars of a broken home.  They bounced back.  That’s because they had their mom and each other.

Instead of rebelling, Ashley lost herself doing what she loves.  Figure skating being a performance sport as well as a training ground for athletes, Ashley never developed stage fright. She joined school performances. She was never shy. Talking came naturally.

Today, she doesn’t skip a beat when fellow celebrities and media interview her.  At a recent event, Ashley, looking smart in  black and white and a bejeweled purse, admitted to media that her love life is on hold.  She’d rather focus on herself and enjoy life on her own.

Love came knocking thrice.  The first time – and she hopes her last –  was with a showbiz guy. Like most actresses who prefer a more private relationship, Ashley wants someone whose work has nothing to do with her high-profile job.

She tells actor-host Paolo Contis that her ideal guy must be taller (she stands 5’6”). Since she loves going to the gym, he must also be athletic. He must be as attractive inside. For Ashley, this means being God-fearing, prayerful, family-oriented and respectful.  But the guy musn’t be a pushover.  Otherwise, he’ll bore Ashley to death.

“He must be an alpha male who can handle my stubborn side,” she explains. That’s a tall order.  But for someone like Ashley Ortega, the extra effort is worth it.

Photos courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/AshleyOrtegaUnlimited

#AshleyOrtega #rubyasoyph #rubyspreciousmoments

Richmonde Hotel Ortigas’ Weekday Lunch Buffet at Richmonde Cafe is Back

The Richmonde Hotel Ortigas’ popular and enjoyable value-for-money lunch buffet at its all-day dining restaurant, Richmonde Café, is finally back! Residents, corporate executives, office workers, and frequent visitors of Ortigas Center can once again indulge in a sumptuous eat-all-you-can spree of culinary delights, perfect for a satisfying midday meal in the heart of the metro’s commercial and business district.

To welcome back the lunch crowd with a relaxed and invigorating buffet experience, Richmonde Café’s kitchen team, headed by Sous Chef Joey Daymon, has prepared a dynamic menu featuring an assortment of global cuisine, carefully curated to appeal to a variety of palates. From international flavors to local favorites, the buffet promises to be a wonderful gastronomic journey through taste and tradition. “Our goal each time is to serve familiar and well-loved dishes and create a spread that combines the comfort of home-cooked meals with the allure of gourmet fare,” shares Chef Joey.

Diners can expect a feast for the senses each time with a robust selection of appetizers, mains, and desserts, not to mention exciting action stations that feature a variety of freshly cooked items such as pastas, tapas, and fajitas, grilled meats, oven-baked pizzas, sizzling fried sisig, and many more! Mainstays like the salad bar, mixed sushi, cheese board, and premium beef carving will surely make each meal a worthy treat.

According to F&B Manager Ria Rosal, “We’re super thrilled to bring back Richmonde Café’s lunch buffet and serve our guests delectable food as we showcase our chefs’ amazing talents. Aside from the weekly Filipino-themed buffet every Monday, we will be coming out regularly with thematic offerings so our diners can always look forward to trying something new.” General Manager Jorold Montelibano added, “This may seem like a long time coming, but we believe that now is the best time to relaunch our lunch buffet because more and more people are working on-site and conducting meetings face-to-face. With our convenient location, the café’s relaxing ambience, and the remarkable dining experience we provide, our lunch buffet is truly an excellent option for those looking for good value for their money.”

Richmonde Café’s Weekday Lunch Buffet is available from Monday to Friday from 11:30am to 2:00pm for only PhP 1,585nett, inclusive of bottomless house-blend iced tea, and coffee or hot tea.

Richmonde Cafe

To celebrate the buffet’s comeback, Richmonde Café is extending an exclusive 15% discount to members of Richmonde Hotel Ortigas’ Viber community from July 3 until September 30, 2024. Anyone can join the Viber community where members get notified of the latest promotions and are entitled to exclusive offers.

There is also a 3+1 Birthday Blowout Deal available for those with birthdays that fall during the calendar month. The birthday celebrant just needs to bring three people paying the full buffet rate to dine for free and receive a complimentary slice of birthday cake. This offer runs until December 30, 2024.

The Richmonde Café is located on the second floor of Richmonde Hotel Ortigas with address at 21 San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. For inquiries and table reservations, call (632) 8638 7777 or (63) 917 534 4352 (mobile/Viber).

#Weekdaylunchbuffet #RichmondeCafe #RichmondeHotelOrtigas #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Manila’s Popular Organic Restaurant, The Wholesome Table Marks 10th Anniversary

It’s a celebration 10 years in the making! The Wholesome Table, Manila’s best-rated and most popular organic restaurant, is thrilled to announce its 10th anniversary. Since opening its doors in July 2014 by mompreneur Bianca Araneta-Elizalde, The Wholesome Table has been dedicated to serving diners and patrons wholesome, locally sourced meals that delight the palate and nourish the body.

The brand’s goal is “to build a healthy food culture where people can begin to make informed decisions about the food they eat and take charge of their health, by educating them about natural, organic food, nutrition, and the environment. After all, it is one of the few things consumers can control in life.” As their brand motto goes, “Eat consciously. Live consciously.”

Bianca Araneta-Elizalde, owner of The Wholesome Table, has always advocated for conscious eating and mindful living.

As Bianca and her team focus on a new vision for The Wholesome Table, many plans are brewing ahead. “I would love to do a twist on the brand, maybe another related concept. My creative juices are flowing. My team inspires me to do something new,” said Bianca. “We’re also working hard on the farm. One of the challenges we’ve always had at The Wholesome Table was suppliers because we were organic. I always wanted a farm that’s going to fuel the restaurant and it’s going to be even more than organic—it’s going to be biodynamic. Everybody will be eating produce and products from the farm, maybe even be able to buy from it.”

The Wholesome Table BGC, their flagship restaurant, opened its doors back in July 2014.

Ten years may seem to have gone by so fast, but anything greatly achieved comes with its own set of challenges. Its present goal is to rebuild and open more branches, hopefully soon, to get back to where they were and even expand further. Currently, their Makati (Salcedo) and BGC branches are up and running, with a new one opening by the fourth quarter of the year.

To commemorate this milestone, The Wholesome Table is holding a month-long celebration this July. Other than the revival of their classics for the special anniversary menu by Executive Chef, Chrioni Castillo, guests and patrons will be given discounts and the chance to win gift certificates, too!

  • The Classics Are Back: A curated selection of our best-selling classics that reflect the brand’s commitment to organic gastronomy and sustainability, exclusively available in our Special Anniversary Menu this July
  • 10% Off Delivery: Get 10% off when you order from GrabFood from 2 PM to 6 PM for the whole month of July.
  • Wholesome Afternoons:Get 10% off when you dine in at their branches from 2 PM to 6 PM from July 16 to July 31, 2024.
  • Sweet Treats: Get a free scoop of ice cream at the BGC branch on July 11, 2024.
  • Celebrate 10 Wholesome Years Social Media Promo: Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @thewholesometable and watch out for their contest mechanics to get a chance to win gift certificates.

What started as a vision of one mom to encourage others that healthy and mindful eating can be both enjoyable and beneficial for them and the farming community has now become a restaurant brand that stands the test of time. As Bianca shared, “I’m so happy that it resonated with the Manila crowd, along with the tourists and foreigners who have patronized our restaurant over and over again. I did not imagine this. I’m looking forward to the next 10 years.”

The Wholesome Table invites everyone in celebrating this special milestone. Come for the food, stay for the community, and leave with a heart full of joy and a belly full of organic goodness.

For more information, visit thewholesometable.com/.
Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @thewholesometable.

 

#thewholesometable #10thanniversary #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Team Kramer Joins MR.DIY Philippines in New Campaign: ‘For BIG and small FAMILYhan needs, MERON DIYan!’

MR.DIY Philippines launched its 2024 campaign at the MR.DIY store located on the 4th level of One Ayala Mall in Makati. The event marked the beginning of a new chapter for the brand, emphasizing its core value propositions: “Always Low Prices,” extensive product assortment, and convenient shopping across numerous store locations. The newest brand tagline, “For BIG and small FAMILYhan needs, MERON DIYan!” encapsulates the brand’s mission to cater to all family needs, both big and small, reinforcing MR.DIY as the go-to destination for home improvement.

The event began with a Media Thanksgiving session, which kicked off with a message of gratitude to the media from MR.DIY Philippines’ Deputy Head of Marketing Mr. Charles Salecina.

Mr. Charles Salecina, Deputy Head of Marketing of MR.DIY Philippines, expressed gratitude to the media during the Media Thanksgiving program.

This was followed  by fun games and prizes for the media, which included  “BIG and small, Hakot, Dakot, Panalo!” Challenge, where participants were blindfolded and given 15 seconds to scoop as many prizes as they could into a basket, taking home whatever they managed to gather. Trivia questions about MR.DIY also engaged attendees, with correct answers earning exciting prizes.

The main program commenced with opening remarks from Mr. Salecina, and halfway through his speech, he invited everyone to watch the 2023 highlights of MR.DIY, showcasing the brand’s achievements and milestones over the past year.

This was followed by a short message from MR.DIY Philippines’ CEO, Ms. Roselle B. Andaya, where she shared her excitement for renewing the brand’s partnership with Team Kramer, and how MR.DIY remains steadfast in its commitment to offer a delightful and convenient shopping experience.

Ms. Roselle Andaya, CEO of MR.DIY Philippines, delivers her message for the media and guests at MR.DIY’s Branding Campaign Launch held in One Ayala, Makati City.

“This year’s campaign reaffirms MR.DIY’s dedication to being your trusted partner for all home improvement needs,” said Ms. Andaya.

A significant moment in the event was the ceremonial “BIG and small” contract signing with MR.DIY’s Brand Ambassador, Team Kramer.

“We are renewing our contract with MR.DIY because our collaboration has been fulfilling and successful. MR.DIY’s commitment to quality and affordability aligns with our family values. We’ve seen how their products have enhanced our home and everyday life. The positive feedback from our followers has been overwhelming and we’re excited to continue this journey with our MR.DIY family, “ said Doug Kramer.

The unveiling of the 2024 campaign video and new jingle was accompanied by a dynamic dance mob, setting an energetic tone for the day, with Team Kramer joining in on the fun. Doug and Cheska Kramer spoke about how the new MR.DIY branding came to life. The couple highlighted the collaborative effort and shared behind-the-scenes of the branding campaign shoot and jingle creation, giving attendees a glimpse into the creative process. 

The “For BIG and small FAMILYhan needs, MERON DIYan!” campaign represents MR.DIY’s mission to serve the diverse needs of Filipino families, offering products that cater to both major home improvements and everyday essentials. The term “FAMILYhan” blends the words “Family” and “Pamilihan” (marketplace), positioning MR.DIY as the go-to market for Filipino families’ big and small needs. The campaign is designed to emphasize the brand’s dedication to affordability, quality, and variety, ensuring that every family, regardless of size, can find what they need at MR.DIY. This campaign ties seamlessly with the renewed brand story, showcasing MR.DIY as a reliable partner for all home-related needs.

“Our relationship with MR.DIY has grown stronger and more collaborative. We’ve deepened our understanding of their commitment to quality and affordability and created content that resonates with our audience. This partnership feels like a true alignment of values and goals,” Mr. Kramer added. Team Kramer’s continued partnership with MR.DIY highlights the brand’s family-oriented approach and commitment to enhancing the lives of its customers.

Ms. Roselle Andaya, CEO of MR.DIY signs the contract with Team Kramer, marking another chapter of success and partnership ahead.

During the media Q&A, Ms. Andaya discussed the brand’s strategies for rapid expansion and success in the competitive retail market.

She emphasized the importance of a customer-centric approach, among other factors that contribute to MR.DIY’s success. “Our key strategies include having  a customer-centric approach by ensuring we have the right variety of products at affordable prices in carefully selected locations to maximize reach. Additionally, we keep major processes as simple as possible to achieve faster scalability. The more we are able to scale up successfully, the more we benefit from economies of scale, where costs are spread out more, resulting in higher savings which are passed on to our customers as products they can buy at always low prices. The more our customers patronize MR.DIY, the more we are able to expand, thus the virtuous cycle continues,” Ms. Andaya added.

The event concluded on a high note, leaving attendees excited about MR.DIY’s future initiatives and continued commitment to providing variety, good quality and value for money for Filipino families. With its new campaign and renewed brand identity as the “familyhan” for big and small needs. MR.DIY is poised to strengthen its presence in the Philippine retail market.

#MRDIY #TeamKramer #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Taal Vista Hotel: Delighting you in every possible way

Experience pure joy and satisfaction when you stay at Taal Vista Hotel.

 

Going on a weekend staycation with family is a chance to experience new things, create memories, and strengthen bonds. Our recent staycation at Taal Vista Hotel was exceptional. It was a perfect escape from the stress of everyday life to relax and recharge.

The hotel is known for its breathtaking views, cool mountain air, great food, and impressive amenities. Then and now, Taal Vista remains a national landmark deeply ingrained in the history and heritage of the popular tourist destination, Tagaytay City.

The premier room where we stayed was spacious and squeaky clean. It offers the most spectacular panoramic view of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake amid a verdant landscape.

Welcome cake.

 

Great food, happy mood

Food makes us feel good while feasting on the mouth-watering dishes for lunch and breakfast at Verdana. It offers a Filipino-Continental buffet and a live cultural show by the Bughaw Folkloric Dance Group during the lunch buffet every Saturday and Sunday. It was satisfying for our tummies and eyes!

My favorites from the lunch buffet were maki rolls, ginataang alimasag at gulay, laing rice, rellenong bangus, pancit, fresh salad and fruits, Filipino delicacies, and halo-halo. For breakfast meals, I enjoyed coffee, fresh fruits, fried rice and danggit, chicken tocino, and champorado.

Maki rolls

We also cherished our time at the lobby lounge for snacks. We tried their hot chocolate and Americano coffee paired with delicious cakes and pastries. It helped us unwind and feel relaxed while we listened to piano music in the background. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to experience a glam picnic that day due to the rain.

For our dinner, we relished the sumptuous pasta dishes at Taza restaurant. Taza is the Arabic word for fresh. We ordered pasta dishes such as Duck and Mushroom Lasagna, Fettucine Alfredo, and Pappardelle Primavera, which were rich, flavorful, and gratifying! We were also given a delectable chocolate cake for dessert.

Mouthwatering and gratifying pasta dishes from Taza!

 

Taza Fresh Table. Courtesy: Taal Vista Hotel FB page

 

Hospitable staff, going the extra mile

We appreciate the warmth and friendliness of its staff, especially for my hubby with a diet restriction. The chefs made an effort to prepare vegetarian dishes just for him! Special mention to Chef Ralph of Taza and Chef Kim of Veranda!

To digest what we ate, we toured the hotel’s other facilities – the swimming pool, the gym, the spa, Kultura Butik, and The Ridge, and made a side trip to Skyranch. For staying hotel guests would need only to pay 100 per person to pass through the gate from the lake wing to enter the amusement park.

It was a delightful stay for me and my small family – from the accommodation, food, service, and overall experience.

Enjoying our meals together as a family.

For Father’s Day, the hotel has a special promotion, “Feast for the King.” You can choose from BBQ Grill Night at Alta Ridge Bar or lunch buffet at Veranda. For details, call +63 2 7917 8225 or e-mail foodandbeverage@taalvistahotel.com.

 

 Magnificent views, history, and nostalgia

The charm of Taal Vista Hotel lies in its stunning views that continue to capture guests after several decades.

The Ridge is a viewing deck that offers one of the most spectacular views of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake. It also provides a panoramic scenery of Volcano Island, its surrounding Taal Lake, and the Tagaytay Ridge. Also visible are lakeside communities of Batangas Province including Cuenca, Lipa, Mataas na Kahoy, and Tanauan. On a clear day, Balayan Bay is visible on the far right.

 

Posing at The Ridge.

In the 1960s, Taal Vista Lodge became a popular destination among foreign dignitaries. Some of the past distinguished guests were Crown Prince Akihito and his wife Princess Michiko of Japan, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and five First Ladies of heads of state who attended the Manila Summit Conference, among others. In 2003, Taal Vista Lodge became Taal Vista Hotel.

The property has surmounted unprecedented challenges in the past decades. While reading its history timeline wall indicates that “In the process, it has affirmed its status as an icon in Philippine tourism – a timeless property known not only for offering a majestic view of Taal Volcano but more importantly, for leaving its guests nostalgic with treasured memories of the past.”

The grand dame of the Philippine hospitality industry is #HereForAlways.

Find out more at http://www.taalvistahotel.com.

#TaalVistaHotel #Tagaytay #staycation #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph #exclusivecoverage

Elegant Delights Await: Discover Madeleine High Tea and Bytes at Lanson Place Mall of Asia, Manila

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila, a lavish retreat designed to blend the charm of wholesome delights with modern elegance, has been an exciting addition to the hospitality landscape in Manila. Inaugurated last April, the premier destination is set to redefine the standards of comfort and convenience for both business travellers and leisure seekers alike.

Nestled in the heart of Manila, Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers an array of amenities including spaces that are perfect for co-working or relaxation, Bytes and Madeleine High Tea. Both are poised to become the go-to spots for those seeking a unique blend of casual comfort and sophisticated indulgence.

Elegance and Tradition Reimagined

For those looking to indulge in a bit of timeless elegance, the Madeleine High Tea at Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila offers an exquisite experience. The serene and sophisticated ambience, enhanced plush seating, creates the perfect backdrop for intimate gatherings, business meetings, or simply unwinding in style.

Guests can enjoy a meticulously crafted selection of premium tea from Agusan Del Norte, accompanied by cakes and pastries that blend classic and modern high tea flavours. The venue’s contemporary elegance and delectable treats create the perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon or a special social event. Madeleine High Tea offers an indulgent experience, ensuring guests savour every sip and bite in style.

“Nature’s Apothecary has carefully crafted teas with to create an experience that brings out all of its natural flavours and aromas while perfectly blending with traditional and contemporary high tea elements. “Our goal is to provide a space where guests can relax and connect, whether they’re here for business or leisure,” said Deczle Enriquez, Lanson Place’s Director of Food and Beverage.

A Burst of Flavour in Every Byte

Guests on the go can elevate their work and leisure experience with Bytes at Lanson Place. Found on the 3rd level alongside Focus, the dedicated co-working space at the hotel establishment, Bytes is designed to cater to the different needs of today’s travellers.

Bytes provides a variety of hearty and delicious options that guests can snack on to fuel their productivity while working or to enhance leisure while spending time with friends, colleagues, or future business partners. Each item is crafted with the finest ingredients to ensure every bite is packed with nutrition. Bytes is a place where work meets relaxation, making every moment a revitalizing experience.

“The concept behind the Bytes is to offer our guests a wholesome and satisfying option that does not compromise on taste or quality,” said Deczle Enriquez, Director of Food and Beverage. “Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite between meetings or enjoying a leisurely snack with friends, we want every visit to be a delightful experience.”

Guests are welcome to relish contemporary delights, whether they are looking for a quick healthy bite or spending a relaxing afternoon of indulgence, Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila has something to offer. Discover a haven where wholesome delights meet modern style. Visit Madeleine High Tea and Bytes at Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila today.

For more information about Lanson Place Mall of Asia, Manila’s upcoming events, and other offerings, visit the official website at www.lansonplace.com/mallofasia or follow the official social media pages (Facebook | Instagram).

 

About Lanson Place Personal Hotels & Residences

Lanson Place is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wing Tai Properties Limited (Wing Tai), a publicly listed company in Hong Kong (HKEx stock code: 369). Wing Tai currently manages 6 properties (in which Wing Tai has equity in two) under the Lanson Place brand, comprising luxury Personal Hotels and Residences in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, as well as two new properties in Manila (opened in the third quarter of 2023) and Melbourne in (to be opened in 2024).

 

#LansonPlaceMallofAsia #MadeleineHighTea #Bytes #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

A Taste of Summer at Park Inn by Radisson Davao

Plunge into a refreshing, vibrant and feel good stay at Park Inn by Radisson Davao, one of the city’s premier accommodations, which was recently honored the Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards 2024.

Escape to a weekend staycation with the Summer Vibes package at Php4,588 in one of the hotel’s contemporary standard rooms, complete with a buffet breakfast for two at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, VANDA. Additionally, the booking provides guests with the privilege to access the pool deck which houses an adult and children’s pool, complemented by a pool bar. Best time to dip in the pool? Between 4 to 6 PM where you can witness the stunning transition from day to night, while taking in the mesmerizing city skyline of Davao. This package is available until 08 July 2024.

Summer Desserts – Macapuno Leche Flan, Buko Halo-halo, Banana Split Trio, Wasabi Ice-Cream Cake and Malagos Chocolate Brownie topped with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

Elevate the ultimate summer staycation with a selection of Summer Coolers, priced at Php150 each – quench your thirst with the refreshing watermelon-based Watermelon Fizz; Havana, a delightful mix of pineapple and coconut; a strawberry and mangosteen concoction Daba-daba; along with the Samarefic, a refreshing mix of cucumber and lemon with a kick of ginger; and cool off with the lychee-based cooler, Dabaw Breeze.

Who can say no to desserts? Indulge in Summer Desserts that will definitely satisfy your sweet-tooth and cool you off at the same time. The selection of desserts starts from Php300, kicking off with the good-for-sharing Banana Split Trio, the Malagos Chocolate Brownie topped with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, and the classic summer favorite – Buko Halo-halo. A surprising yet delightful aftertaste waits you with the Wasabi Ice Cream Cake – it will make you crave for it! And if you want a non-ice cream based dessert, the custardy and milky Macapuno Leche Flan is ideal for you. Enjoy these summer coolers and desserts until 31 July 2024.

Enjoy the Summer Season with loved ones.

After checking-out, enjoy a mini shopping spree at the adjacent SM Lanang Mall, an indoor four-story shopping mall that houses over 250 shops, restaurants and recreational hubs.

Park Inn by Radisson Davao features an inventory of 202 rooms and is strategically located right beside SM Lanang Mall & SMX Convention Center Davao. The property is the first Park Inn by Radisson property in Asia Pacific that opened doors in March of 2013. Amenities includes VANDA restaurant, the 24/7 self-service counter DASH, Pool Deck that houses an adult and children’s pool along with the pool bar, more than 90 parking slots and a covered foot bridge to the mall among others.

Relax, enjoy, and soak up the summer before the rainy season begins!

 All prices are in Philippine Peso and inclusive of applicable taxes.

For bookings & inquiries: reservations.davao@parkinn.com | fb.supervisor@parkinn.com | 082 272 7600 |  +63 917 859 1766 |  +63 917 859 1743

For more information: www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/park-inn-davao

Or connect with them on:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/parkinndavao 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/parkinndavao

 

#ParkInnbyRadissonDavao #summervibespackage #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Beat the ‘Init’ with Chowking’s Halo-Halo Supreme

As Filipinos often exclaim, “Tag-init nanaman!” In the Philippines, the transition from the cool season to the hot, dry one signals the beginning of summer—a season eagerly awaited by many who flock to beaches, bask in the sun, and seek comfort in cool, icy desserts. For most Filipinos, summer isn’t complete without Halo-Halo, the ultimate heat-beater. Kapag summer, hindi lang lamig ang hanap, kundi malamig na masarap!

Today, Halo-Halo has become a staple dessert across the country, enjoyed by Filipinos at any time of the day, whether with loved ones or alone, as a treat, or as part of any celebration.

Halo-Halo Supreme

Among Filipino favorites is Chowking’s Halo-Halo Supreme, offering a fully loaded assortment of Sangkap—from luscious leche flan to rich ube halaya, delightful red sago,  pandan jelly, and the richest ube ice cream, alongside other delightful additions! To make the heat more bearable, Chowking presents its Halo-Halo Supreme in a new Salo-Salo Size, a generous serving meant to be shared by 4 to 6 people when dining in at Chowking’s branches—a perfect opportunity to bond with friends and loved ones. With its burst of flavors from the ingredients and the refreshing coolness from the ice, Chowking’s Halo-Halo Supreme is the perfect dessert to wrap up any meal, reminding us that the best is indeed saved for last!

But wait—there’s more to look forward to this upcoming summer season!

Chowking Executives with Kim Chiu.

Chowking ushered in summer vibes this past Saturday, May 4, 2024, with the celebration of their Halo-Halo Land at SM Mall of Asia. The event featured a special guest performance by Multimedia Idol and Chinita Princess, Kim Chiu. Guests were treated to an immersive cube capturing all the fun and flavorful elements of Chowking’s Halo-Halo along with a DIY Halo-Halo Van.

Kim Chiu Performance.

Chowking’s Halo-Halo Land is also rolling into SM City Davao on May 18th and 19th! Mark your calendars and prepare for a weekend packed with exciting activities for the whole family.

For more information about Chowking, visit www.facebook.com/ChowkingPH

(Facebook) and @ChowkingPH (Instagram).

Chowking is the #1 Chinese QSR in the Philippines since 1985. In 2000, the Jollibee Group, one of the fastest-growing restaurant companies in the world, acquired Chowking and placed it under its Fresh N’ Famous Foods subsidiary.

#ChowkingHaloHaloSupreme #KimChiu #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Charting 4 Days of Fun at Regal Hotels in Hong Kong

 

Regala Skycity Hotel and Regal Hong Kong Hotel served as home to media guests from the Philippines and celebrity influencer Ashley Ortega, who joined the 4-day, fun-filled tour in Hong Kong organized by VFC Travel and Tours.

Hong Kong is an easy place to visit. With just an hour and 45 minutes flight from Manila, many tourists (including us) would frequent here for good reasons – to enjoy its dazzling city views, attractions, dining, nightlife, arts, culture, and shopping.

A well-planned trip is important to make the most of your stay, thanks to VFC Travel and Tours, who organized our 4-day, fun-filled tour in Hong Kong together with celebrity influencer, Ashley Ortega. VFC is your very first choice and go-to expert for trips to Hong Kong and beyond.

Regala Skycity Hotel and Regal Hong Kong Hotel served as our home for four days complete with superb accommodation and shuttle service. Regala Skycity is located on Lantau Island and is still in its first year of operation. It’s the place to be in the airport area.

Some of its recent awards include: “Best Airport Hotel” by TTG Asia Travel Awards (2023), “Best New Hotel” by TTG China Travel Awards (2023), Best Hotel Restaurant Interior (Hong Kong) by International Property Media Ltd in 2023 for Vivace.

Regala Skycity Hotel Exterior.

Regala’s strengths are its airport counter (not many hotels have this service), providing free shuttle service to and from the hotel, Tung Chung, Citygate Outlet, and NP360. It’s also one MTR train ride to Disneyland; a short ride to Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge (or 45 minutes bus ride to Macau).

The group at the Regal Hotels airport counter.

Regal is situated in Causeway Bay and is near the MTR station, tram stop, popular shopping malls, and a short walk to restaurants, coffee shops, street food, Japanese specialty stores, and street shopping. These are the reasons that would make Regal the hotel of choice when in Causeway Bay.

Regala Skycity and Regal Hong Kong are part of the Regal Hotels brand known for its international standards of comfort.

We charted the activities that summed up our delightful stay in Hong Kong.

 

DAY 1

The group arrived at Hong Kong International Airport in the morning and headed to Regal Airport Counter B15, Arrival Hall B. We were accorded with free shuttle bus to Regala Skycity from the airport. Then, we checked in and met the hotel staff.

We had an enjoyable lunch at Vivace.

The welcome lunch was held at Vivace, the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant located on the third floor. Recognized for its impeccable interior designed by Alexander Wong, the vibrant restaurant picked up a silver award for outstanding interior design at the Build4Asia Awards 2022.  The restaurant serves tasty and hearty dishes from Mediterranean hotspots including Spain, Italy, France, and Greece. With a robust and tempting cocktail menu and outdoor patio, Vivace is the perfect spot for alfresco dining and drinks.

They served us a Thanksgiving special menu, semi-buffet tapas lunch, anti-salad bar, appetizers, soup, and dessert. We indulged in the delectable cuisine while enjoying the company of Ivan Tso, Assistant Marketing Communication Manager.

After the sumptuous lunch, we started touring the impressive hotel rooms, themed rooms, grand ballroom, and meeting venues, a walk to 11 Skies, and Asia World Expo (AWE).

Modern and vibrant interior design of Vivace.

In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet the hotel’s gracious general manager, Renee Kim, who also hosted dinner for us at the Jade, the fine-dining, Chinese restaurant of the hotel located on the 12th floor. It presents exquisite delicacies in a plush environment enhanced by artistic features and breathtaking sea views. Private dining spaces are also available to elevate any gathering or occasion.

We enjoyed the 7-course Chinese cuisine served to us coupled with an interesting conversation on sundry topics.

From left: Regala Skycity General Manager Renee Kim, Ashley Ortega, and Ivan Tso.

 

Kim shared that they have an Executive Chinese Chef who not only specializes in Cantonese but also many regional Chinese cuisines.

As a true representation of Chinese culinary fare, the Jade brings together China’s dynamic regional cuisine ranging from Canton, Beijing, Zhejiang, Sichuan, and more.  “We have dynamic dishes from Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan province, and many more. People like to try food from different parts of the world. Dimsum is a good representation of Hong Kong,” Kim said.

Kim explained that Regal is the core brand of Regal Hotels International, while Regala is a new brand, which focuses on lifestyle, wellness, and sustainability. They’re also planning to re-brand some of the existing hotels. Regal is more conservative, and upscale; Regala is more lifestyle and trendy.

Kim related that it’s challenging to manage a new property, especially after the pandemic. “Overall, there’s a downturn in the economy not just here in Hong Kong but in other countries. Despite the challenges, we have been able to open the hotel. We can’t complain. The business is picking up. Anyone who has tried our product, they loved it.”

Welcome dinner for the group with Ms. Kim and Sir Karl at the Jade restaurant.
Jade Restaurant – for your fine dining experience. It brings together China’s dynamic regional cuisine.

With the holiday season fast approaching, she said, that they are promoting Chocolate Christmas to attract more families and pet-friendly promotions.

After that wonderful dinner, we headed back to our assigned room – a comfortable twin bed – where you can immerse yourself in the Regala celebratory lifestyle to unwind your body and mind.

Cabana room – spacious and bright.

It was a sweet welcome, and everyone was excited to enjoy the remaining days of our stay. As they say, “It’s time for a joyous gala!”

 

DAY 2

A buffet breakfast awaited us at Petra, another restaurant of the hotel located on the ground floor, which serves international cuisine.

Breakfast at Petra.
Petra’s color scheme is pleasing to the eyes.

Right after, we were whisked away to experience the Tung Chung adventure and the convenience of staying at Regala. We visited the Citygate Outlet, a train ride to Disneyland, and then a free shuttle back to the hotel.

The writer is in the happiest place on earth!

We tried the mouthwatering dishes for dinner at Petra, which consisted of salad, main course (I settled on salmon, others opted for steak), and dessert. We all enjoyed it!

To digest what we ate, we took a walk outside the hotel, visited the hotel sky deck, and felt the cold weather that night.

 

DAY 3

It was time to check out from Regala and transfer to Regal Hong Kong for an overnight stay. This 5-star hotel provides spacious, full-service accommodations, and a choice of dining venues.

Group photo at the hotel entrance.

The group had the chance to meet the hotel’s general manager, Christo Diamandopoulos, who gladly agreed to a short interview about his work experiences and the room renovation plans. He has been with Regal Hotels for 10 years now. He also holds concurrent positions as general manager of Regal Kowloon Hotel, and vice president – the project for Regal Hotels International Limited.

Regal Hong Kong Hotel General Manager Christo Diamondopoulos (center) with Ashley Ortega and Vien Chan of VFC Travel and Tours.

 

He shared that he likes working in Hong Kong because the economy is very aggressive. He also cited that more tourists from the Philippines and Thailand are coming to Hong Kong either for business or leisure. “To all the lovely people in the Philippines, I wish to invite you to come and visit the Regal Hong Kong Hotel and the country of Hong Kong. We are well-prepared with attractive accommodation and services for an enjoyable stay. Hope to see you very soon!”

The Regal management also hosted lunch for us at the Chinese Restaurant, Regal Palace. The food was very satisfying. Soon after, we toured the hotel rooms, gym, and rooftop swimming pool (the only one in the Causeway Bay).

Rooftop swimming pool – overlooking a spectacular Harbour view. Courtesy: Regal Hong Kong Hotel
Topform gymnasium. Courtesy: Regal Hong Kong Hotel

We also rode the Peak Tram, checked out nearby shopping malls, Sogo, Sasa, Times Square, street markets, etc., and uncovered affordable souvenirs to bring home.

The Peak Tram. Courtesy: Regal Hong Kong Hotel

Another delectable meal for dinner was prepared for us, which we paired with red wine to our complete satisfaction.

With the comfortable bed and spacious room, we fell into a good night’s sleep.

 

DAY 4

We felt energized on our last day in the hotel and partook in the buffet breakfast at Cafe Rivoli.

After we checked out from Regal, we visited ArteM, an immersive media art;  Sky100,  a 360-degree indoor observation deck, which offers views of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour, the Kowloon Peninsula, and Tai Mo Shan; M+ Museum, which featured Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), and Harbour City for some sightseeing until our departure flight to Manila.

The post-pandemic world has certainly ignited our spirit of discovery and the enriching experiences travel brings to life. So, on your next trip, look no further. Make Regal Hotels and VFC Travel and Tours your first choice for seamless travel. For more information, visit https://www.regala-hotels.com/en/regala-skycity-hotel/ and www.regalhotel.com. https://www.vfctravelandtours.com/

 

#RegalaSkycity #RegalaHongKongHotel #VFCTravelandTours #HongKong #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

 

Thai leading budget chain, Hop Inn Hotel, celebrates launch of first 4 hotels in Japan

Tokyo, Japan — HOP INN Hotel, a renowned budget hotel operator in Thailand and the Philippines, has officially launched its first four hotels in top tourist destinations in Japan.

The 58- strong budget hotel chain owned by Erawan Hop Inn Co. Ltd, subsidiary of The Erawan Group PCL, has opened its first-ever Hop Inn hotel in Kyoto in December, followed by the January launch of two hotels in Tokyo, and one to open in Ueno, Tokyo in early April.

Part of the company’s strategic investment plan of 10 billion baht to expand in Asia Pacific, this milestone is a blazing start to its mission to achieve over 150 hotels and 14,000 keys operating across the region with 4 times expected revenue growth by 2030.

Ms Pichanun Boonpromgul, President of Erawan Hop Inn said, “We foresee the significant growth of Japan tourism and believe in strong domestic demand. This is the right timing to put our footprint in Japan. Our first 4 hotels are in prime locations which will stimulate brand awareness of Hop Inn in Japan market. Hop Inn can serve all guest’s needs with consistency of service and value for money product. In the next five years, we aim to expand our Japan portfolio to cover all major cities. The successful expansion to Japan is our first step in achieving our Hop Inn 2030 vision “to be the leading budget hotel in APAC.” We foresee potential growth in this segment in various countries, leveraging our strong customer base and expertise to step in the new market.”

Established in 2014, the Hop Inn brand is known for its consistent quality accommodations and central locations in key business districts, and offers standardized facilities and professional service across all properties. Guests can be confident of a comfortable and convenient stay whichever Hop Inn they choose.

Twin Room at Hop Inn Kyoto
Facade

Located in the heart of Japan’s cultural capital, the 136-room Hop Inn Kyoto Shijo Omiya offers a uniquely Japanese accommodation experience with interiors inspired by Japan’s rich culture, traditional tatami rooms, and a public bath or sento. Only 200 meters from Shijo Omiya station, the hotel provides easy access to scenic attractions and UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kyoto such as the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and Kinkaku-ji Temple.

Fans of international music artists will delight in Hop Inn Tokyo Iidabashi, located steps away from Tokyo Dome, the most famous concert venue in Tokyo. The 50-room hotel is only 3-minutes from Iidabashi station and a short walk from “Tokyo’s Little Paris,” Kagurazaka, a chic neighborhood with Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurants and the scenic Canal Cafe.

Semi Double Room Hop Inn Tokyo lidabashi
Facade of Hop Inn Tokyo lidabashi

Hop Inn Tokyo Asakusa is strategically located right next to the iconic Senso-ji Temple. Conveniently accessible, the hotel is a 2-minute walk from Asakusa Station and close to Sumida Park, one of the most popular “hanami” spots during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Hop Inn Tokyo Asakusa offers 115 clean and comfortable rooms for guests of all sizes, with connecting rooms and family rooms available for group travelers, and rooms with scenic views of Senso-ji Temple and the Tokyo Skytree.

Double Room at Hop Inn Tokyo Asakusa

 

Facade of Hop Inn Tokyo Asakusa

Opening in early April, Hop Inn Tokyo Ueno is located just 150 meters from Ueno station with direct train access from Narita Airport. The hotel is surrounded by local izakaya restaurants next to bustling Ameyoko Shopping Street and a short walk from top tourist attractions Ueno Park and Zoo, Tokyo National Museum, and National Museum of Nature and Science.

To celebrate the official launch of Hop Inn Hotel in Japan, guests are treated to an opening promotion of up to 40% off room rates starting from PHP 1,800 (JPY 4,950). Offer is valid for bookings from now until 31 January for stays until 31 March 2024.

For more information about Hop Inn Hotel Japan, visit www.hopinnhotel.com and follow their social media pages at facebook.com/hopinnhoteljapan and @hopinnhoteljapan on Instagram, LINE, and TikTok.

 About ERAWAN HOP INN

ERAWAN HOP INN Company Limited (“ERAWAN HOP INN”), a subsidiary of The Erawan Group Public Company Limited, currently operates 51 HOP INN hotels spread across 40 prime locations in Thailand, 7 HOP INN hotels in the Philippines, and 4 HOP INN hotels in Japan. ERAWAN HOP INN continues to expand HOP INN hotels in Asia Pacific, maintains its competitive advantage and strengthens leading position as the most consistent budget hotel network in Asia Pacific.

 About The ERAWAN Group

The Erawan Group Public Company (Limited) (SET: ERW) or “ERAWAN”, an investor and operator with significant investment and business development in the hospitality industry in Thailand and the Philippines. ERAWAN engages in hospitality business at all levels, ranging from 5-star hotels to budget hotels. By the end of the year 2022, ERAWAN has a total of 76 hotels in Thailand the Philippines and is expanding our investments in the Asia-Pacific region. For further details, please visit our website www.theerawan.com.

#HopInn #Japan #ErawanHopInn #ErawanGroup #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Regal Hotels International launches Regala Hotels brand with official opening of Regala Skycity Hotel in Hong Kong

Regala Skycity Hotel celebrates the vitality of life by balancing world-class hospitality with harmonious experiences that allow guests to rejoice, relax and recharge.

 

Regal Hotels International has launched Regala Hotels – a new and vibrant hospitality brand that provides a place for celebration and harmonious living. The first opening is Regala Skycity Hotel located at Hong Kong’s new   SKYCITY hub.

Regala Skycity Hotel lobby

Boasting over 1,200 guest rooms, three diverse restaurants serving cuisines from around the globe, a beautifully designed grand ballroom and two banquet halls perfect for weddings and conventions, state-of- the-art wellness facilities, children’s entertainment spaces, games rooms and more, Regala Skycity Hotel is a unique hospitality destination where people can celebrate the vitality of life.

The hotel has recently received green awards including the Silver EarthCheck Certification and the Beam Plus Gold Certification.

Conveniently located around the transportation hub to Greater Bay Area and rest of the world

Situated in the dynamic and exciting SKYCITY – a captivating new retail, dining and entertainment destination opening this year next to Hong Kong International Airport – Regala Skycity Hotel is conveniently positioned for those looking to explore Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, or attend world-class events in the region.

The hotel is directly connected to AsiaWorld-Expo – one of the world’s premier exhibition and entertainment venues and 11 SKIES – Hong Kong’s largest all-in- one retailtainment landmark with two minutes’ walk via the enclosed footbridge, and is just a short ride away from Hong Kong International Airport via the Airport Express or the hotel’s free shuttle bus.

Regala Skycity Hotel exterior at night.

Guests will be able to reach Hong Kong’s Central District in less than half an hour aboard the Airport Express, the much-loved Hong Kong Disneyland in 15 minutes via taxi, and easily travel throughout the Greater Bay Area as The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Tuen Mun- Chek Lap Kok Link are only a few minutes away by car.

A dynamic place for an unforgettable stay

The carefully designed Regala Skycity Hotel incorporates the Chinese philosophy of Wu Xing, translated as “the five elements.” By integrating water, earth, wood, fire and metal throughout the hotel’s various spaces, Regala Skycity Hotel has a distinctly unique atmosphere that is elevated by its natural surroundings. This ensures a harmonious balance throughout the hotel, allowing guests to truly relax and rejuvenate their hearts, minds, bodies and souls.

Wu Xing, the five elements are carefully integrated throughout the hotel including a balance of “Water” and “Wood” in
the public areas.

With 1,208 guest rooms, 90 of which are suites, Regala Skycity Hotel has the largest number of guest rooms on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island. All rooms are designed with a modern simplicity that exudes a vibrant and contemporary aesthetic while prioritizing endorphin-boosting natural sunlight. Guests will be delighted with an exceptional view overlooking the bustling SKYCITY, tranquil gardens or picturesque South China Sea.

Regala Skycity Hotel – Seaview Room.

Families can treat little ones to a memorable experience in one of the themed rooms located on the third floor, with themes like Racing Car, Frozen Castle, Pirates, Under the Sea, Brick & Block, and Jungle & Safari.

There are cabana rooms with patios available for those looking to host a gathering or BBQ party. All rooms are equipped with double-glazed windows, Wi-Fi, a telephone, international TV channels, a hair dryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, a mini-fridge and an in-room safe.

The hotel presents a myriad of experiences for all types of travelers. One of the most picturesque highlights can be found on the beautifully landscaped rooftop Sky Deck with panoramic views of Lantau and wellness facilities such as a Sky Gym, Jogging Track and Organic Farm are just waiting to be explored.

The Sky Deck also features a cocktail bar, ideal for a drink whilst soaking in a spectacular sunset or watching planes taking off and landing. The rooftop space also lends itself perfectly to late-night stargazing – a must-do when staying at the hotel.

The Sky Deck encourages healthy and harmonious living with a jogging track and Sky Gym.

Sure to provide fun for the whole family, there are five different game rooms throughout the hotel, including an arcade with video game challenges, ball games and virtual experiences. To further encourage healthy and harmonious living, guests are encouraged to take advantage of the outdoor swimming pool, self-guided driving and hiking tours, and tailor-made yoga and meditation activities.

Regala Skycity Hotel – Arcade Challenge Game Room.

Being a destination for celebration, Regala Skycity Hotel is going to present an exciting Annual Festival Programme. A series of “Music & Dance” Themed Festive Events will be launched to immerse our guests in spectacular celebrations.

Three trendsetting restaurants offering diverse gastronomic     experiences

The hotel presents diverse dining options via its three trendsetting and stylish restaurants. Featuring designs based on coastal lines, sedimentary rocks and calming blues, the spacious all- day-dining restaurant Petra brings diners closer to nature. Adorned with interactive and mesmerizing live cooking stations, the restaurant serves international cuisine through a contactless ordering system, ranging from authentic Southeast Asian fare to exotic Indian curries, Japanese delicacies and more.

Petra is an all-day-dining restaurant that serves international cuisine.

Vivace is an energetic bar and grill that takes guests on an unforgettable Mediterranean culinary voyage set amongst a Spanish-inspired scene of colorful stained glass and Iberian ceramic tiles. Recognized for its impeccable interior designed by Alexander Wong, the vibrant restaurant picked up a silver award for outstanding interior design at the Build4Asia Awards 2022. Welcoming guests with a convivial and lively ambience, the restaurant serves up flavorsome and hearty dishes from Mediterranean hotspots including Spain, Italy, France and Greece. With a robust and tempting cocktail menu and outdoor patio, Vivace is the perfect spot for alfresco dining and drinks.

Vivace takes guests on an unforgettable Mediterranean culinary voyage.

Chinese restaurant, the Jade, presents exquisite delicacies in a plush environment enhanced by artistic features and breathtaking sea views. As a true representation of Chinese culinary fare, the Jade brings together China’s dynamic regional cuisine ranging from Canton, Beijing, Zhejiang, Sichuan and more. Private dining spaces are available to elevate any gathering or occasion.

Private dining room at the Jade.

Healthy food is available 24/7 to support guest wellbeing. With farm-to-table and vegan menus, harmonious living is made possible with easily accessible healthy dishes and meals.

Flexible and tech-savvy function spaces with impressive            interior design

Regala Skycity Hotel is the perfect venue to celebrate every occasion, from weddings and meetings to large-scale events. Designed by the Hong Kong based award-winning architect and interior designer Alexander Wong, the hotel offers two Banquet Halls and the Regala Grand Ballroom, which is one of the biggest ballrooms in Lantau.

Accommodating up to 76 tables, the Regala Grand Ballroom expresses a dynamic energy through the myriad of rectangular white frames ‘spinning’ over like the Spiral Sky. The unique ceiling design creates a special lighting experience, complemented with a shoal of auspicious crystal chandeliers and giant pillars that also function as an LED display.

The Regala Grand Ballroom expresses a dynamic energy through the myriad of rectangular white frames ‘spinning’ over like the Spiral Sky.

Designed to rekindle a sense of wonderment for the natural elements, streams of sunlight in the Banquet Halls create an enchanting vision of ocean waves or flying clouds during the day and an interstellar effect at night with a series of star-like chandeliers.

With over 2,800 square metres of space and an impressive 6.7-metre ceiling height, the function spaces are equipped with state-of-the-art technology featuring synchronised AV systems, six built-in LED walls and six vertical LED panels.

There are also several unique outdoor venues, such as the Sky Deck and Terrace on the 5th, with breathtaking views making for excellent photo opportunities, positioning the hotel as an ideal venue for celebrations, weddings or MICE events.

To find out more about Regala Skycity Hotel and promotions, please visit skycity.regala- hotels.com.

 

#RejoiceAtRegala #RegalaSkycityHotel #HongKong #VFCTravelandTours #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Rediscover the pop culture enthusiast within you at the Omniverse Museum

Seeking for the next place to heal your inner child? Look no further as the Omniverse museum opens its doors to pop culture and science fiction fans everywhere! From big installations of your favorite movie heroes to actual set props–you can all see them for only P1,499!

Located in Japan Town, Makati, the Omniverse Museum boasts film artifacts from historic franchises like Star Wars, Justice League, Marvel, and Harry Potter. Every movie fan with a passion for the lore, plot and the art of collecting will find their hearts filled and their eyes feasting on over 20 worlds–an experience like no other.

Ryan Sison, a journalist and pop culture collector, brought the Omniverse Museum to life. His passion for blockbuster films added fuel to the majestic collection of movie paraphernalia stored intricately in the 3,500 square foot space. Despite being stereotyped as a museum, there are also interactive displays, fun facts, and various forms of movie magic.

Aside from parading movie trinkets and sets, the Omniverse Museum also urges adults and kids alike to explore the wonders of science fiction. There are also activities and interactive exhibits that explain science, particularly how it transcends from actual scientific experiments to full-blown movie plots.

As you delve deeper into the museum, there are also pieces signed by the world-renowned actors who have played historic roles. Most of the pieces featured in the collection are one-of-a-kind, earning the respect of collectors and fans alike.

The tour wouldn’t be complete without a flurry of photos highlighting these rare artifacts, as well as sitting on the famed Iron Throne or pretend-dining in the Great Hall of the Harry Potter universe! There are also life-sized figures of Iron Man, Yoda, and Spiderman–some of the heroes that shaped fan’s lives in different ways.

It might be a bit disconcerting seeing characters from different timelines sit beside each other–just like Newt Scamander and Voldemort–but intriguing enough to interest someone’s fanfiction fantasy! The worlds, or the sections of the museum, are also built to encapsulate the feeling of being inside the movie’s lore–just like the Bat Cave that’s akin to a prison cell.

Before going home, visitors can also buy film merchandise, from shirts to figurines. If they also need time to rest their feet, there is also a spacious lounge for everyone.

At the end of the museum tour, visitors will have to make a decision that will dictate how they exit. You can either take an Alvin and the Chipmunks themed exit or the thrilling and spine-chilling route, filled with iconic horror film characters such as Annabelle and Ghostface. Who knows what lies on both ends? It’s up to you to see for yourself!

The Omniverse Museum also features function rooms for parties and programs, especially pop culture gatherings. Be sure to reach them through their social media accounts or contact them directly at their email, omniversemuseum@amusements.global for bookings and inquiries!

Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc

 

#OmniverseMuseum #Makati #Philippines #rubyaspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Inside an Art Collector’s home

The open floor plan is a practical home design for this art collector. “It’s a plan looking into the future preparing for old age when one cannot go up and climb stairs,” she shared.

When designing a home, choosing an open floor plan is a personal decision. “Some just love the home and it happens to come with this kind of combination – kitchen, living, and dining rooms.”

“Others love the idea of having the rooms open to one another as they are great for entertaining,” according to an online source. Moreover, they want to see what’s happening in one glance.

“On the practical side, it’s a plan looking into the future preparing for old age when one cannot go up and climb stairs,” shared the owner of this exquisite residence, who is an art lover and certified art collector.

The kitchen in this open design is just adjacent to the dining and living areas. They share the same hue with the kitchen fixtures, dining table, and living room furniture.

Spacious and looking spruce kitchen area.

The kitchen area looks fresh, upscale, and neat. It has wide spaces to move around when prepping up meals for the household. It has seating areas around the marble island kitchen.

Their well-maintained living room looks great with a contemporary painting by visual artist Nikulas Lebajo. The atmosphere is welcoming, relaxing, and full of warmth. The painting is well harmonized with the interior of the living room. Moreover, a painting is like a mirror to the soul of the owner. One’s taste, character, and story are illustrated by the painting one chooses for the home.

The living room is adorned with a contemporary painting by visual artist Nikulas Lebajo.
The dining area is adjacent to the living room.
The billiard room with perfect lighting.
The bar area inside the billiard room.
A high window with a view.
The collectors’ painting collection of Nikulas Lebajo presently displayed at their residence in White Rock in the Greater Vancouver Area, Canada.

Interesting lighting and coordinated look to the kitchen, living room, billiard room, and master’s bedrooms are interesting touches that create a great ambiance and connected spaces.

#homeandesign #interiordesigninspiration #insideanartcollectorhome #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Seek the captivating spots of Bohol Island: The country’s first Global Geopark

Bohol Island is just one of the wonders of the Philippines, and as it is being more recognized in the worldwide scene, it is surely a sign to book your tickets with your loved ones now.

Bohol Island is making waves as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unveiled it as the Philippines’ first Global Geopark, a real breathtaking gem in our archipelago. Bohol’s lush greenery has been cultivated by “periods of tectonic turbulence” which has made the island rise above the ocean–a unique geological identity like no other!

Underground Adventure at Hinagdanan Cave

If you’re looking for underground adventures, the Hinagdanan Cave is your next stop! It is best known as the mystical underground world deep within an enchanting cavern. Moving forward, onlookers will spot stalactites hanging from the ceiling like shimmering chandeliers, while an emerald-green lagoon glistens below, inviting you for a refreshing dip. The underground cave is home to an emerald-green lagoon that glistens in the dim light within the cavern, giving it a whimsical and mysterious vibe. It’s a surreal experience that will awaken the explorer within you!

Hinagdanan Cave. Photo credits to A Guide to the Philippines

Being one of the country’s most coveted tourist spots, Bohol Island is also home to various places, making it a haven for travelers. With its jaw-dropping sights and fascinating wildlife, it will surely make anyone feel both adventure and home at the same time.

World-famous Chocolate Hills

Starting with the whirlwind of attractions is the world-famous Chocolate Hills. Blessed with a landscape dotted with hundreds of lush, cone-shaped hills as far as the eye can see– it is no wonder that tourists from all races come to see this beauty. During the dry season, these wonders turn a mesmerizing shade of brown, a phenomenon that’s widely viewed and anticipated across nations.

Loboc River cruise

The Loboc River Cruise is also a delightful feast for the senses. This is Bohol’s floating restaurant, gliding along the gentle currents of the river, surrounded by lush greenery and singing birds. They also serve a mouthwatering buffet of local delicacies, all while traditional musicians serenade you with melodies. Watch out, as various species of birds adorn the cruise’s route, perfect for sightseeing and bird watchers. Throughout the journey, talented performers showcase traditional dances, showcasing the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage– giving travelers a slice of Filipino hospitality and rich culture. It’s a symphony of flavors, sights, and sounds that will leave you wanting more!

Tarsiers, the tiny wonders

A trip to Bohol is not complete without seeing the tiny wonders that are tarsiers! These tiny primates, with their big, round eyes and delicate fingers, are native to Bohol Island. The Tarsier Conservation Area houses these adorable creatures and is open to visitors observing them in their natural habitat. Of course, it is important to follow the protocols such as staying quiet and keeping the tourists’ cameras at a reasonable distance.

Photo credits to Bohol Philippines

Unique adventure at Panglao Island

Lastly, Panglao Island beckons with its pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. This vibrant underwater world is teeming with colorful coral reefs, playful dolphins, and exotic marine life. Panglao Island is frequently visited by snorkelers and scuba divers, eager to explore the vast underwater within. Moreover, the island’s beach bars and restaurants will make people surely appreciate what the real beachfront scene is like, armed with its acoustic live bands, exotic seafood and delicacies, and their live parties. Panglao Island promises a unique adventure you’ll never forget!

Panglao Island. Photo credits to Bohol Beach Club

Bohol Island is just one of the wonders of the Philippines, and as it is being more recognized in the worldwide scene, it is surely a sign to book your tickets with your loved ones. Bohol is waiting for you, eager to share its geological wonders and create memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t miss out on this adventure!

 

Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc

Featured photo courtesy of Inquirer

 

#Bohol #island #FirstGlobalGeopark #Philippines #UNESCO #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Discover Sampaloc Quezon

The quaint town of Sampaloc is known for its impressive array of “buri” products, the source of livelihood of the amiable people of this 5th class municipality in the province of Quezon.

Buri,” a large palm tree noted for its strong leaves that can be made into various products like bags and other native accessories. The houses are adorned with different buri products during the Bulihan Festival.

Assorted products made of buri and some native delicacies.

This writer has witnessed this festival in years past – during the 4th Bulihan Festival. The highlights of the festival were the costume parade and the showcase of native dishes, as only “Sampalukins” (how residents are called in Sampaloc) can uniquely prepare and do.

“Palos Cooking Contest

One of the awaited activities of the festival was the native “Palos Cooking Contest.” “Palos,” is Sampaloc’s term for native eel, which is caught in the Maapon River. It’s often brought by Sampalukins as a present to somebody being asked for a favor.  The “madulas” is associated with a saying that if it is given as a gift to the person being asked for a favor, the request will be easily granted.

This exciting and one-of-a-kind cooking contest was participated by representatives from the 14 Barangays through the town’s Rural Improvement Club.

The cooking skills and creativity of the “Sampalukins” were once again demonstrated — with everything and anything that can be done and concocted with “palos.”  Spicy, sweet, saucy, “ginataan”, “ginisa”, baked, steamed, fried, what have you!

The winning recipe came from Barangay Ibabang Owain. The dish is called “Steamed Palos.”

Steamed “Palos”

Sharing here the winning recipe:

Ingredients:

1-kilo Palos (cleaned)

Ginger

Salt

Pepper

Green Chili

Chicken Broth

Calamansi or Lemon juice

White Onion

Grated Cheese

Aluminum Foil

Tomatoes for garnishing

Toppings: mayonnaise, grated carrots, chopped hard-boiled egg, onion leeks

Cooking procedure:

  1. Mix all ingredients and wrap with aluminum foil.
  2. Put onion leek into the water and set for boiling.
  3. Steam Palos for about 30-40 minutes.
  4. When cooked, arrange the steamed Palos on a platter with the toppings.
  5. Serve hot.

Uniquely Sampaloc

The “Parada ng Bayan”- a buri-inspired costume parade was participated by the different sectors of the community like NGOs, the private sector, puroks, barangay, and municipal government officials and employees.

The strong camaraderie was felt as the whole town took time to participate and support the costume parade. It was amazing to see how young women and men were dressed in different creative and distinctively classy costumes made from colorful buri. It was as if these costumes were tailored and styled by professional designers — knowing these were handcrafted by the “Sampalukins”!

The Bulihan Festival provides jobs to residents and promotes tourism in the municipality.

Beautiful sceneries

Some of Sampaloc’s beautiful sceneries are the Malaoag Cave and Underground River, the Hangga Falls, and the Kakati River. During our stay, we were fortunate to explore Hangga Falls, a hidden gem located in the boundary of the towns of Sampaloc and Lucban. An approximate one to two hours of trekking was needed to reach the destination, and was worth the exhaustion upon seeing the invigorating waterfalls!

Feeling invigorated at Hangga Falls after a two-hour trek.
With friends from Sampaloc

Discover Sampaloc and know more about its culture, people, and captivating attractions!

#SampalocQuezon #throwbacktravel #Philippines #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Tia Belle’s in Silang offers traditional vegetable and fish dishes this Lenten Season

As the bastion of Christianity in Asia, the Holy Week or Semana Santa has been a sacred occasion for the Filipinos, with ancient traditions still taking hold up to this day. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation with the nationwide observance of the Lenten Season. The Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday, with the Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday declared statutory holidays.

Filipinos are known for honoring traditions during Holy Week. True to its Catholic roots, each Filipino family has their own customs when it comes to the Lenten Season. Filipino families conduct the Pabasa or Pasyon and join festivals and processions.

One of the long-standing traditions is fasting or abstinence, observed during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday to honor Jesus’ death and His resurrection. Filipinos usually refrain eating various kinds of meat, sticking to vegetables and seafood-based dishes. This tradition also seeks to cleanse the soul and regenerate one’s spiritual health.

The Holy Week has always been a time for faith, family, and love – values which the Tia Belle’s in Silang resonate with – values that bind their love for the country and faith in God as infused in their famous roster of homemade Filipino dishes.

Tia Belle’s in Silang offers a wide variety of traditional vegetable and fish dishes that still stimulates one’s palate and leaves them satisfied with their meal. This Filipino-style restaurant makes it a point to honor the country’s values and traditions and prepare dishes to suit large families, Catholics, and non-Catholics alike!

Start with their seafood meals, their relyenong bangus, one of Tia Belle’s signature dishes. With its crunchy and tasty texture, this dish is cooked with vegetables and organic ingredients, free from processed food, and served with homemade atsara. It will surely satisfy your cravings!

Another fan favorite is the pinasingawang pompano sa dahon ng saging, a delectable Filipino dish highlighting the highly sought-after Pompano. This steamed dish is carefully wrapped in a banana leaf before being steamed, giving it a juicy and sumptuous smell that makes the food’s various flavors dance with one another, a must-try this Lenten Season!

Moreover, coconut milk enthusiasts may try Tia Belle’s special laing, made from fresh gabi and other root crops, topped with crushed chicharon and siling haba. This dish will surely tickle your taste buds! Another best seller is their special lumpiang bukid, a mix of root crops wrapped in a malunggay-based wrapper garnished with sesame seed sauce.

 

Tia Belle’s also caters to bulk orders, perfect for large families holding reunions or get-togethers during the season. Among these are the spicy seafood cajun and ginataang tilapia, Filipino seafood favorites that can cater to 20 up to 100 people.

For dessert lovers, they also serve Filipino-style halo-halo, their special inangit suman, and their signature dessert, Tia Belle’s famous pichi pichi, best paired with their special hot cacao!

The Holy Week observance is meaningful with food that respects and honors Filipino traditions, the same core values that Tia Belle’s stands for. With its superb hospitality and service, Tia Belle’s is the place to go during Lent for food and quality time with your family!

 

#TiaBellesSilang #filipinodishes #HolyWeek2023 #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Chad Borja’s second chance in life

A Holy Week story of hope, surrender, faith, love, overcoming sickness, and the gift of life.  “My life now is full of constant reflection and prayer. Everything in this world is temporary,” the singer and OPM icon said.

 

Acclaimed balladeer Chad Borja and one of the members of the popular male group, The OPM Hitmen looked back on his past life. For someone who had been through a difficult battle with the Big C a couple of years ago, he hopes that his story will inspire other cancer patients not to lose hope.

“God moves mysteriously. He has given me a second chance in life,” he shared in a previous interview. “He answered all my prayers.”

The OPM Hitmen: Renz Verano, Richard Reynoso, Rannie Raymundo, and Chad Borja. Image: bworldonline

Chad related that he found out he had thyroid cancer after his show with pop diva Kuh Ledesma in Los Angeles in August 1998.

“I was jogging one morning when I felt a block in my throat. I was so feverish at that time so I decided to consult a doctor. I had consulted four doctors from New York and LA, and they told me that I had an irritated sore throat,” he recalled.

When he returned to the Philippines, he went to Cebu, his native hometown to seek the advice of other doctors. He was told to take antibiotics.

“But I was bothered. I was fully convinced that there was something wrong with my system. I underwent an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), where I was put inside a machine as if it were a coffin for 45 minutes. I preferred not to take sleeping pills because I wanted to know what was happening. After a few hours, the doctors interpreted that I had a mass in my throat, so I needed to undergo a biopsy.

He continued: “Four days after the biopsy I was told that I had a cold nodule. My doctor friends from Cebu and Laoag told me that I needed to undergo surgery before it spread. My fears, doubts, confusion, and depression started to manifest. I decided to do some research and to get a good endocrinologist (in the name of Augusto Litongua) from Makati Medical Center,” he said.

Just to be sure, he underwent another test at the Philippine General Hospital. Still, the finding was malignant.

“The doctor told me that if I undergo surgery there’s a chance for me to get well,” he said.

But Chad had mixed feelings about undergoing the surgery because he was advised by a fortune-teller not to do it.

“In one of my guest appearances at GMA-7, I was predicted not to undergo an operation because something bad would happen to me,” he recalled. “Then I started praying. I went to Coney Reyes to seek advice and enlightenment. After that, I became stronger deep inside. I decided to go on with the operation. Imagine, I was crying for one hour and 30 minutes.”

Bad dream

On October 8, 1998, Chad underwent surgery at the Makati Medical Center.

“I didn’t feel anything. At that moment, I didn’t care if I lost my voice as long as I stayed alive to give me time to repent for my sins. But the torture was after the operation,” he shared. (Chad has now an artificial thyroid. The operation had left him a horizontal scar on his throat.)

During the first three months, Chad had to take radioactive iodine (a liquid medicine) as part of his treatment. He gained weight because of this medicine. Then he had to regularly monitor his blood to find out if the cancer had spread or not.

“Through this experience, I have learned to surrender my life to God,” he said.  “The good news is that my cancer didn’t spread. However, there’s no assurance about it.”

Chad felt fortunate despite everything. “This is my second life,” he intimated. “Now when I wake up every morning, I pray and thank God for giving me an extension in life.”

Slowly, he went back to his singing. But this time around, he has a new outlook. “My life now is full of constant reflections and prayers. Everything in this world is temporary,” said Chad, who’s now a renewed Christian.

Chad said, what happened to him was like a bad dream. “Because of this difficult situation, I’ve become more humble. If I have grudges with people, I just humbled myself. I don’t let anger consume me.”

One thing he has learned from this experience is to be satisfied with what you have and never allow material things to rule your life.

“If you have the chance to say ‘I love you,’ to your parents, and loved ones, say it now, because you will never know what will happen,” concluded Chad, who has become a better person inside and out.

(Based on the article published in the now-defunct Mirror Weekly Magazine by the same author)

#throwbackseries #profile #entertainment #chadborja #singer #performer #opmicon #preciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Featured photo courtesy of blacktiemanila.com

Diamond Star Maricel Soriano is a Tough Mama

Maricel Soriano reflects on her life as a single mom and concludes Kaya ko pala. Success to her is being able to live life her own way. But the most important thing, she said, was learning to love herself.

 

In real life, versatile dramatic actress Maricel Soriano is much like the frank and straight-talking Mary you see on TV, although much toned down and not really as combative as her past TV role in Kaya ni Mister, Kaya ni Misis (TV series 1999 – 2000). The bigger difference is that at home, she is both dad and mom to two children – Marron and Sebastien.

Her “heavy drama days” marred by three failed romances seem to have passed. She smiles easily. She is quite happy at the moment!

All the emotional hurts have healed over time, she said. Success to her is being able to live life her own way. She became a bit misty-eyed when she talked about how she was being a mom and how she loved her children. But the most important thing, she said, was learning to love herself.

Having spent half of her life in show business, Maricel has metamorphosed into a fine actress. From her Underage days (with Snooky Serna and Dina Bonnevie), John en Marsha, Kaluskos Musmos, Maricel Drama Special, and other equally memorable TV shows and movies, Maricel has earned the tag “Diamond Star.” To closer friends and associates, however, she is “Inay.”

Her wish? “A more glorious movie industry and for a long-lasting showbiz career.  For myself, I just hope that my career will go on for a long time,” she says. “While I’m in the business, I’ll make the most of the present moment and the opportunities it lends.”

She’s now in her 49th year in show business.

How are you coping as a single parent?

So far, I’m getting used to it. It’s both fulfilling and challenging because I didn’t imagine that I’ll be able to do it. Of course, it would have been different if my family were intact.

Did becoming a single parent change your personality?

Hindi pa rin, ganoon pa rin ako (laughs). Yeah in a way. Pagdating sa paggastos hindi ko na naiisip minsan ang sarili ko. Ang naiisip ko, I want to buy these things for my children. ‘Pag naging magulang ka ganoon pala.

What’s a regular day like for Maricel?

When I have no work, I just stay at home. I’m the type of person who doesn’t really like going out. I’m a very homebody person. Occasionally,  if I’m invited by my close friends. (Among her showbiz close friends are Roderick Paulate, Michael de Mesa, among others).

I seldom take a rest. Perhaps that’s how much I love my job. Alam ko kasi kung paano akong mahalin ng trabaho ko. It’s like give and take, bigyan mo ito ng importansya at ganoon din ang gagawin sa iyo. I always give my 100 percent to everything that I do.

How come you’re called “Inay”?

It started when I was doing Maricel Drama Special. So everybody was calling me Inay, instead of calling me ma’am or boss. Hello! Parang feeling ko teacher ba ako. For me, I like it when I’m being called Inay.

It seems you’re so close to gay people . . .

Because they make me laugh (‘cause it’s hard to make me laugh). They make me feel very comfortable. And I’m myself when I’m with them.  Iba ‘yong feeling ko kapag nandiyan sila. Ang treatment kasi nila parang nandoon ‘yong respect. They follow my advice and come back and tell me “Inay your advise is so effective.” So I feel so good. It’s quite ironic because, at one point, these people were misinterpreted by society. Tao rin sila. They know how to care and love. It’s just that some straight people don’t want to understand them.

What do you think is your biggest achievement as an actress?

My entire career. I always say this, “Ang pangalan ko, o kung sino man ako ngayon, ay hindi ko pinukpuk sa utak ng bawat mamamayan. Pinaghirapan ko eto pawis at dugo, kung baga. Kung anuman ang na-enjoy ko o iniiyak ko ngayon, it’s a package deal thing.

How about your biggest achievement as a person in general?

My greatest achievement is my children.

What else do you aspire for?

For more money, yes. Of course, all of us have a purpose in life. When you work, you should love your work because you’ll get paid for it. It makes you a whole person.

What do you feel most grateful for?

They come in a package. Kasi hindi lang isang aspeto ako dapat matuwa. Hindi naman tayo mabubuo kung kapiraso lang ang pinag-uusapan natin. Parang rosary ‘yan hindi mo matatapos na nilalaktawan mo ang isang mystery. Kung baga lahat ng nangyari sa buhay ko, pangit, maganda or mabaho, lahat pinagpapasalamat ko. Dahil kundi lahat ng ito, I don’t think I’ll be a better person.

And what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?

I have to love myself! (she didn’t elaborate).

How would you like to be remembered?

I want to be remembered for being unique  — the real Marya.

 

(Based on the interview published in the old Mirror Weekly magazine by the same author.)

#DiamondStar #MaricelSoriano #veteranactress #icon #longevity #showbiz #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph #throwbackseries

 

Featured photo courtesy of  Maricel Soriano (The Official Fan page)

 

 

 

 

Ricky Lee: From Multi-Awarded Scriptwriter to National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts

As scriptwriter-director Bibeth Orteza said, “Ricky Lee is a remembrance of all that makes the idea of writing romantic: a lonely childhood, collegiate years without money to spend, a term in jail even. And then an enviable body of work.”

 Ricky Lee has spent a good chunk of his career writing scripts for films. Like his screen films, he assumes multiple forms and shadows, complexity, and simplicity in one sleek package.

Filipino film buffs have bought this package, making Ricky, one of the best and most multi-awarded scriptwriters in the Philippines today. Some of his finest Filipino films include Himala, Moral, Brutal, Salome, Madrasta, Curacha,  and Miguel/Michelle, among many others.

Aside from his many years of teaching at UP and the Ateneo, he has been conducting scriptwriting workshops, proof of his generosity in imparting career secrets to aspiring and upcoming writers.

Ricky is also a well-known fictionist, having won several literary awards. He has published an anthology of some of his works in 20 years in fiction, journalism, and film (Si Tatang at Mga Himala ng Ating Panahon.)

Revise, revise

Ricky recalls that his scripts of Brutal and Moral had five to seven drafts before he finally perfected them.

Talagang madugo, hindi bawat revision may nabago lang, talagang overhaul ng skeleton,” he shared during a past interview. “Kasi ‘yong first sequence ng Brutal walang makaintindi kundi si Marilou (Diaz-Abaya). So you have to be patient and concentrate para mag ugat ang mga paa mo. Kailangan mayroong matatag na foundation.”

In writing a script, Ricky follows not just his own judgment. “Natanggap ko na na magkakaroon ng sariling buhay yong script. Whatever will be good for the script doon ako susunod,” he said. “I’m willing to adjust to the popular taste of the audience. Dahil gusto kong ma-reach ang audience ko kaya ako nagsusulat.”

He culled most of his ideas from real-life experiences; some from his imagination. “The ideas in terms of the situation, characters, and images are mostly from outside influences and the environment. Then the inside which is the emotion.”

Length of time

In his early years as a scriptwriter, Ricky could finish a script in a month (the longer script took three months at the most). Now he can finish a script in one or two days.

For instance, the script of the movie Mapusok (starred by Rosanna Roces) was written for two days. As well as Malikot na Mundo (1997) and Sinner or Saint (1984). “I wrote Sinner or Saint on the airplane while going home from Brazil. Pagbaba ko ng airport, may script na ako,” shared Ricky.

The film Andrea by Superstar Nora Aunor was written in less than seven days. The longest material he wrote was Moral. “Hanggang nag shooting na nag-revise pa ako. Nagdidikta ako ng lines kay Marilou over the phone,” said Ricky, “because we wanted to find the best way of telling the story.”

Yet, it was the most fulfilling movie for Ricky.

Working with the best directors

His first year in the industry was a big advantage for Ricky because it was during this period that he got the chance to work with the local cinema’s best directors.

Nakatrabaho ko agad sina Ishmael Bernal, Mike De Leon, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Mel Chionglo, Lino Brocka, para akong nag workshop ng todo,” he said.

When he was working with Marilou he learned a different technique. “Expand. Push. When you develop the characters huwag kang nakakahon. Let’s go unstructured. Most of my works with her are mostly on women, like the trilogy of Brutal, Moral, and Karnal. We clicked because she’s a woman. Hindi ko kailanman ma-approximate ‘yong mga alam niyang nuances, malinaw sa kanya ang pagkababae.”

With Ismael Bernal, he learned how to go “classical and structured.”

Meanwhile, Mike De Leon was very conscious of details.

Whereas, Lino Brocka was grounded in one kind of social and political philosophy. “Laging malinaw iyon kay Lino. That’s very reassuring kasi alam mo ang direction,” he said.

Working with dexterous directors (with different approaches) has stretched Ricky’s creative side to the most. From 1979 up to now, Ricky is full-time in the movies. There may be ups and downs in his career, but there will always be people around who will pull him back from leaving the industry.

Nowadays, half of his time is spent writing scripts; the other half he devotes to writing literature, journalism, and theatre. And of course, teaching.

“I will never stop teaching even if it’s difficult to teach because I’m always grounded with reality,” he explained. “Kung puro showbiz ako, lulutang ako, maaaburido ka, o mababaliw ka kasi ang daming humihila sa iyo sa iba’t ibang sides. Mawawalan ka ng perspective.

Working with the stars

Among the stars he has worked with, he particularly cherished the times when he became close with Nora Aunor. He first worked with Nora in Himala. But they became good friends while they were doing Andrea.

“Kasi trabahong kaibigan talaga ‘yon. We’re still friends up to now, but not as close as before,” he disclosed. Ricky related that he’s not close with celebrities. He keeps a distance from them as much as possible.

Turbulent childhood

Ricky’s turbulent childhood has taught him to face life’s challenges and to excel in one’s talent.  He endured many hardships in his struggle to become the country’s multi-awarded scriptwriter.

Courtesy: Mell T. Navarro FB

He typifies the rags-to-riches story. He was born into immigrant families originally from Fujian, China, and was raised in Daet, Bicol. He had a desolate childhood after his parents died when he was still young. He grew up under the care of a relative.

He excelled in school both in Daet and UP. His college days were something for the books. He experienced hunger and loneliness and was jailed for one year during Martial Law for his student activism.

He didn’t resent his past. Rather, he became selfless. He uses his life experiences, struggles, idealism, and intelligence to create over 70 screenplays that have stimulated many Filipino moviegoers. For those pieces of work, he earned more than 30 (and counting) trophies from all the award-giving bodies in the local movie industry.

Because of his upbringing, Ricky related that he became a very shy person. However, he got over his shyness when he entered show business. “I was extremely shy because my father was also extremely shy. We hardly talked. But he loved me. I was very sure of that,” he intimated.

Behind his reserved manner are his witty punchlines. “Defense ko ‘yon para hindi nila ako tingnan sa likod,” he said. “I’m very trusting, but deep inside I’m afraid to trust people. Kasi ilang beses na akong nauntog.”

As a child, he was wont to read almost everything.  “Ang feeling ko noon parang inaarmasan ko ang sarili ko. So I accumulated a lot of knowledge. Basa ako nang basa ng libro since I was seven years old.” But he always wanted to become a writer.

When he was in his fourth year of high school at Daet Chung Hua High School, he wanted to run away from home but there was no chance. He had no money.

“Then I read an ad from Free Press (Filipino) that they would accept the short story. Pinadala ko ‘yong story ko (entitled ‘Mayon’) and it was accepted. Every week, binabantayan kong lumabas ang story ko. Finally, when I saw my byline, na reaffirm ‘yong pag-alis ko sa Bicol. I was paid Php50 for my story. That was the happiest time for me as a writer. Then I came to Manila.”

Ricky said that he experienced the most personal growth during his Bicol and UP years. “Those were the happiest years of my life. And also the starvation years for me,” he said.

As scriptwriter-director Bibeth Orteza said, “Ricky Lee is a remembrance of all that makes the idea of writing romantic: a lonely childhood, collegiate years without money to spend, a term in jail even. And then an enviable body of work.”

By Ruby Asoy-Lebajo

(Based on the feature article published in the old Mirror Weekly magazine by the same author)

#RickyLee #scriptwriter #fictionist #teacher #upcloseandpersonal #exclusiveinterview #nationalartistforliterature #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Featured photo courtesy of Shandii Bacolod FB

Upclose and personal with Ara Mina

“Ara Mina has a certain innocence and is in a category completely her own,” according to Direk Carlitos Siguion-Reyna. It helps that the actress is sexy and charming in person. She titillates readers with candid remarks on her sexuality. Meanwhile, this interview reveals a half-child, half-woman excited and eager to give her best shot.

Having a great body makes her more confident. Ara Mina described herself as “dibdib manok. Medyo hiwalay siya (referring to her breasts), so you need to push it, to achieve a cleavage. Sometimes it depends on the dress or bra I’m wearing.”

To maintain her 36-24-35 shape, Ara Mina said she works out at a gym twice a week and observes some dietary restrictions. “I have my dumbbells,” she volunteered. She said she has not eaten rice for two months now. Also, soft drinks have not been in her diet for two years.

Courtesy: Ara Mina FB page

Her liberal view of woman-to-woman relationships

Back to her past movie “Tatlo,” Ara Mina admitted she felt uncomfortable kissing another girl.

“I was tense, especially with my kissing scene with Ate Rita,” she said. “Ingat talaga ako. Mayroong torrid kissing scene pero hindi naman labas ang tongue. Actually, na-tense din siya.”

Ara Mina, however, confessed that she has a liberal view of woman-to-woman relationships in real life.

“It’s fine with me. In “Tatlo,” you can’t blame Elsie (my character in the film) if she falls in love with another woman (Rita Avila). She’s looking for something that she cannot find in her husband (Tonton Gutierrez).”

She recalled how she experienced difficulties doing a love scene with Rita. She called it the “Scandinavian style” ( a pumping scene between lesbian lovers, but she did not explain it in detail).

“We tried to relax . . . Nakakangawit talaga, pinagpawisan ako,” she relates. “Biniro ko pa nga si ate Rita na ituloy na namin sa kuwarto. Sa eksenang yon naisip ko, parehas naman kaming babae. So I decided not to wear any plaster. Pero talagang makikita ang boobs namin doon.”

Ara Mina admitted that she can be attracted to members of both sexes.

“I think there’s nothing wrong with having a relationship with another woman as long as there’s no sex involved. I couldn’t imagine myself having sex with another woman. I have best friends who are all girls. Sometimes I develop a crush on them. Sometimes, I feel I like a woman, and sometimes I like a man.”

But she denied being bisexual.

“Hindi ko masasabi,” she says. “Minsan gandang-ganda ako sa babae. Minsan nagsasabi pa ako, ‘Ang seksi niya.’ Wala naman akong nararamdamang feelings for her. It’s like an admiration.”

Reflected Ara Mina: A man is completely different from a woman when it comes to expressing affection.

“Ang lalaki siyempre medyo brusko; ang babae tender ang dating . Kaya lang nakaka-ilang kung humahampas ang boobs níyo,” she laughed.

In real life, Ara Mina said she has had lesbian suitors.

“I treat them as friends. Natatawa nga ako dahil kapag nanligaw sila, itsura nila babae, tapos inaamin nila na may boyfriend sila, pero may gusto sa akin at nag-I I love you,” she related. “They write love love letters, send flowers, chocolates, and stuffed toys. I entertained them kasi kung iniiwasan mo minsan delikado. Grabeng ma-in love ang mga lesbians; they’re very posessive, parang nakakatakot.”

Portraying meaty roles

Now that she gets to portray meaty roles, Ara Mina hopes that she will be noticed for her acting ability and not just her ability to show off those curves.

“Kahit na naghuhubad ako, gusto ko namang mapansin nila ang acting ko lalo na sa mga pelikulang ginagawa ko, para irespeto rin nila ako. Natutuwa naman ako dahil hindi nila sinasabi na bastusin ako, kahit na naghuhubad ako.”

She said she’s only daring in the movies. But she emphasized that she hasn’t experienced doing her onscreen love scenes in real life.

“That’s one good thing about me. At first, it was really difficult for me because I used to portray sweet roles. Like the scenes in my previous movie, “Sagad Sa Init” na nakipag-laplapan ako sa bubungan at sa kotse. As of now, ‘yong mga wild things na nagawa ko sa movies pa lang.”

Career transition

Ara Mina’s life changed when she junked her sweet image. But the transition was not easy. Going the bold route made it possible for her to land her first starring role in “Maldita.”

But it was in the movie “Curacha, Ang Babaing Walang Pahinga” that film critics began to pay attention to her. Before this, she became a supporting player in such movies as “Roller Boys,” “Butch Belgica Story,” and the “Flor Contemplacion Story.” She entered showbiz at the age of 14 via the teenybopper show That’s Entertainment.

Ara Mina said she couldn’t imagine herself portraying bold roles or posing nude for pictorials. She was conservative then, she said. She recalled how she would react negatively to the bold pictures she saw in the newspapers.

“Now, pagbukas ko ng dyaryo, ang sinasabi ko, Okay lang naman as long as ang mga shots mo na hubad ay artistic ang pagkakakuha,” she smiles.

Because of the attention, she’s getting at the moment, she vowed never to let success get into her head. She said she is especially thankful to her parents for understanding her when she decided to go bold without their permission.

In the near future, she hopes to bag an acting award, “Para masabi ko na rin na may narating yong paghuhubad ko,” she said.

Real-life

Ara Mina is Hazel Reyes in real life. Her mom combined the names of her two sisters Ara Christine and Mina Princess to come up with the name Ara Mina.

The eldest in a brood of six (two boys and four girls), Ara Mina is a product of a broken family. She was only seven years old when her parents separated. However, she was not disheartened by what happened to her parents. Although both have their own individual families, they maintain open communications. “They are on good terms now,” she notes.

Ara Mina is a high school graduate of Morning Dew Montessori. If her schedule permits, she said she plans to take up Interior Design or Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Off-camera, Ara Mina is a sweet, simple person. She doesn’t talk much during interviews.

“Hindi ako palaaway,” she relates, “gusto ko lahat ng tao kasundo ko. Tapos sweet pa rin, nando’n pa rin ‘yong pagiging childish ko. Sa set nga, nagugulat ang iba dahil parang ang lakas kong maghubad sa eksena. Then after the scene para akong bata. They are confused. That’s who I am. Trabaho lang.”

Her type of man is someone who resembles actor Matthew Mendoza. “Parang hindi siya makabasag pinggan, tipong hindi ka lolokohin. And he’s a gentleman, baby face talaga, she notes. “Yong guy dapat mabango ang hininga, malinis sa katawan, sweet, and understanding.”

Although she admits she has had two boyfriends before, one from showbiz, and one from non-showbiz. She prefers to stay at home during her free time and shuns the nightlife.

Ara Mina feels that her job is quite fulfilling at present. In her five-year stay in the business, she has been able to buy a condominium unit, a car, and jewelry. The other earnings go to her savings (time deposit) and her family. She rewards herself by shopping for signature clothes and accessories.

“Nakakatuwa dahil at my age, nakakabili na ako ng mga ganitong bagay sa sarili kong kita. . . kung baga sarili kong pagod.”

Older men go for her. Ara Mina reveals that she has received around five “indecent proposals” from different men.

“May nag-alok pa nga sa akin ng house and lot with matching brand new car and allowance. Siyempre ang kapalit no’n iiwanan ko ang career ko,” she revealed. “Yong tipong ibabahay ka. Hindi ko pinapatulan ang mga offers nila kasi kaya ko namang kitain sa sarili ko. Besides, I don’t want to experience what my parents had experienced in the past.”

(Based on the same writer’s exclusive article published at the now-defunct Mirror Weekly Magazine.)

As of a recent update, Ara Mina is experiencing a new “journey” in her personal life. She is now married to her non-showbiz husband, Dave Almarinez, CEO of Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC). 

Featured photo courtesy of Ara Mina Almarinez Facebook

Experience a Queenly rest with Queen of Hearts Silk Sleepwear

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.

Silk sleepwear is recommended particularly for women. It provides many health benefits, looks elegant, classic, sexy, and beautiful.

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.

The silk fabric provides utmost comfort and breathable which promotes better sleep.

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.

Queen of Hearts Sleepwear red collection. Silk sleepwear suits even the most sensitive skin and helps to keep your skin moisturized.

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.

Queen of Hearts Sleepwear gold collection. 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.

#silksleepwear #wellbeing #health #beauty #qualitysleep #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Featured photo: Mitzie Go-Gil, CEO at Beauty Queens Collection Fashion House. Her company distributes Queen of Hearts Sleepwear Collection products.

Taiwan Tour: Exploring island and geology parks, and other scenic spots

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.

Sightseeing at Yehliu Geopark

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!

Mushroom Rock / Personal photo
Fairy’s Shoe / Personal photo

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.

The Queen’s Head is the most famous rock formation. Courtesy: Taiwan Tourism

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.

The Cliff in Heping Island / Personal photo

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 Nostalgia Pier / Personal photo

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!

Fun shot with former colleague Sara at Agenna / Personal photo

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.

The writer striking a pose in Jiufen / Personal photo

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.

#Yehliu Geopark # HepingIslandPark   #ZhengbinFishingPort   #AgennaAboriginalCultureRestaurant  #Jiufen #Taiwan #tour #throwbacktravel #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

(Part 5 of a 6-part feature article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan Tour: Cultural immersion 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.

Atayal Resort during the day. Courtesy: pinoyformosa.com

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.

Atayal Palace at night / personal photo

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.

Bamboo dance experience / personal photo
Wearing the aboriginal costumes / personal photo
Enjoying the native game / personal photo
The writer in the company of Atayal aboriginals @ Atayal Palace Hotel / personal photo

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.

Beautiful Architecture

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall located in the heart of Taipei City / personal photo

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.

At Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall / personal photo

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

@ Taipei 101 Observatory / personal photo

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.

Urban vibe

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.

Amba communal space with the view of Taipei 101 / personal photo
Amba’s welcome note for this writer / personal photo
Comfortable bed @ Amba / personal photo

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.

A sumptuous dinner in the company of Ms. Jeanie Mak, alignment officer of Amba (in yellow-orange scarf)

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.

Succulent steak at amba / personal photo
Delicious salad @ Amba / personal photo
Bread and cheese / personal photo

With all these things that happened in just one day, we shared the joys and experiences like never before.

#Taiwantour #TaiwanTourismBureau #destination #Asia #tourism #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph #atayalresort #taipei101 #ambataipeisongshan #CKSMemorialHall

 (Part 4 of a 6-part feature article)

 

Taiwan Tour: Love for rails and amazing scenery

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.

80-year-old Jiji Station in the Japanese style. Image: Personal photo

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.

Jiji Station / personal photo

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 view of Toushe Basin. Courtesy:sunmoonlake.gov.tw
  • Toushe Basin

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: Beauty and tranquility. Photo courtesy of Sarion Films
  • 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.

Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village Cherry Blossom Season. Photo courtesy of Sunmoonlake.gov

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.

Biking at Sun Moon Lake. Photo courtesy of Sarion Films

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.

#Taiwantour #TaiwanTourismBureau #destination #Asia #tourism #preciousmoments #rubyasoyph #throwbacktravel

(Part 3 of a 6-part feature article)

 

 

Exploring Taiwan in 6 days

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.

 

Colorful Rainbow Military Village in Taichung, Taiwan

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.

Sumptuous set meals @ Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House

Bubble Milk Tea

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 writer @ Miyahara

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!

Fengjia Night Market. Photo: roundtaiwanround

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).

Courtesy: Me-Ann Clemente

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.

#Taiwantour #PanahonsaTaiwan #TaiwanTourismBureau #travel #destination #Asia #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

(Part 1 of a 6-part feature article)

Lebajo Studio: A legacy of more than 50 years of artistic pursuits

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.

The main studio is where all the paintings of the Lebajo patriarch are being displayed.

 

Nikulas Lebajo’s masterpiece (left) and Raul Lebajo’s huge artwork adorn the main studio.

 

“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.

 

Two masters: Raul Lebajo welcomes National Artist BenCab to ArtFarm.

 

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.

 

Raul and his wife Elena nurture together the ArtFarm.

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.

#lebajostudiogallery #lebajoartfarm #alfonsocavite #legacy #mastersurrealist #visualarts #filipinoartist #naturefarm #sanctuary #paintings #surrealism #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

 

Taiwan Tour: Getting Closer To Nature

The atmosphere of quiet lushness from the mountain made our stay a whole new experience in getting closer to nature.

 

Monster Village during the day

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.

Photo-op of the group at Monster Village.

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.

Stinging Nettle or Biting Cat Bread @ Monster Village. Photo: Me-An Clemente

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.

The writer at the Flower Center

 

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.

#Taiwantour #TaiwanTourismBureau #destination #Asia #tourism #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

(Part 2 of a 6-part feature article)

Exploring the City of Angels

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.

Arriving alone at the Thai airport.

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.

Conquering Chatuchak

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.

The writer at Chatuchak

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.

Stunning Temples

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 writer @ ibis Bangkok Riverside

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.

Dining with Erawan Team and Travel Buddies

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

LEGOLAND® Hotel: A family-friendly LEGO® Themed Hotel

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.

Family is love.

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!

The spectacular lobby features a LEGO® castle and a LEGO® pirate ship that transcends into the sky.

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.

My daughter, Beatrice posing in the lobby area.

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.

Busy play area.

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.

Enjoying the themed lift!

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.

Royal welcome @ Kingdom themed room

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.

Enjoying our meals together at Bricks Family Restaurant.
Interior of Bricks Family Restaurant.

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.

Inviting pool area

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:)

#familytime #longweekend #getaway #familyentertainment #legolandhotel #legolandmalaysia #destination #vacation #preciousmoments #rubyasoyph #throwbacktravel

 

 

 

Remembering ‘Dolphy’: A Father with a Big Heart

 

Dolphy: A family man. Photo courtesy of DramaList

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 with son Eric. Photo courtesy of pep.ph

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.”

The late Dolphy with former live-in partner, Zsa-Zsa Padilla, daughters Zia and Nicole. Photo courtesy of Showbiz Chika

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.”

Featured photo courtesy of DramaList

#Dolphy #ComedyKing #throwback #exclusiveinterview #tribute

It’s Time to Explore Singapore

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.

Merlion Park is one of Singapore’s popular landmarks.

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.

The captivating Gardens by the Bay

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.

Feeling serene at Thian Hock Keng Temple.

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.

Art appreciation at Gillman Barracks.

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/.

Featured photo by Joshua Ang on Unsplash

#TravelMoments #Singapore #SoutheastAsia #familytrip #preciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Congresswoman ‘Migs’ Nograles: The girl with a very little rest

“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.”

Flourishing career

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.

 

#MigsNograles #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Celebrate 90 Years of Play with LEGO® at Legoland® Malaysia Resort

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.

Shipwreck dining diver

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.

#LegolandMalaysiaResort #90years #Malaysia #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Three nearby waterfall destinations you can visit this summer

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.

The author has a relaxing time at Daranak Falls.
  • 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.

For more information, check the website: http://pagsanjan.gov.ph/

Natural waterfall in Pagsanjan, Laguna. Courtesy: DOT, Kathleen Mae Tugano
  • Labasin Waterfalls Tiaong, Quezon

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.

For more information, check the website: https://villaescudero.com.

Visitors enjoy a thundering live waterfall up close while partaking in their meals. Courtesy: Dito Sa Quezon FB page

As the saying goes, “There’s no better place to find yourself than sitting by a waterfall and listening to its music.”

Waterfalls, undoubtedly, cleanse the mind and soothe the soul. Summer is always the best time to experience and create moments in your favorite waterfall sanctuaries.

#summer #waterfalls #funtime #sun #daranakfalls #labasinwaterfalls #pagsanjanwaterfalls #itsmorefuninthephilippines #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

The Woman Speaks: How these Filipinas thrive in their respective careers

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. 

Evelyn Wise (Facebook)

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 Aseron  (Facebook)

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. 

Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc

#careerwomen #filipinas #evelynwise #bambina aseron #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Advancing Language Development in Pre-School Children  through Proper Nutrition

A mother’s concern over her child’s language difficulties goes beyond the surface level. Given the pivotal role of communication as the medium by which children learn when they are at school, she understands that issues such as speech delay and limited communication skills may impede optimal brain development.

Knowing the concern that surrounds our mom, Wyeth Nutrition® through the Promil Gold® Gifted Talks, gathered an esteemed panel to discuss the value of language as the cornerstone of learning. Panelists included Wyeth Nutrition® Neurocognition Research’s Head, Jonathan O’ Regan, Global Marketing Manager of Wyeth Nutrition®, Jocelyn Lacida, and pre-school educator and school owner, Teacher Rosanne Araneta. They underscored the importance of language development in early childhood, weighing on the scientific fact that strong communication skills equip children with cognitive abilities necessary to excel in pre-school and in life.

The talk reminded parents that they must understand the pivotal role of language as a medium by which children learn, making it crucial to address this early on.

Teacher Rosanne Araneta highlighted the concerning state of education among Filipino children, as revealed by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The study showed that Filipino students are among the world’s weakest in math, reading, and science, with recent test scores showing no significant improvement since 2018. She stressed that early language development is essential to reversing this trend, noting that simple exercises at home such as creating a reading nook, listening to music and audiobooks, journal writing, and asking open-ended questions to get them to speak up more may significantly improve communication skills.

Jocelyn Lacida added that beyond learning tools, proper nutrition is vital for brain development. Promil Gold®, Wyeth Nutrition’s most advanced formula, stands out as the only milk brand on the market with clinically-proven Alpha-lipids that support language development. As the new school year approaches, providing children with Promil Gold® can give them the nutritional foundation they need to thrive in school and beyond. The brand’s commitment to advancing a gifted brain is encapsulated in Wyeth Nutrition’s Neurocognition Research mantra: “Advance a gifted brain, advance a gifted kid.”

Lacida then introduced the keynote speaker, Wyeth’s Head of Research, Jonathan O’Regan, who talked about how Wyeth Nutrition continues to innovate through years and years of clinical research, set the gold standard in the industry – giving each generation, today and in the future, the highest quality products. This discussion highlighted the neurocognition research that clinically-proven Alpha-lipids in Promil Gold® can help unlock a child’s full potential for a brighter future.

In today’s world, the things that we do link back to how we interact, communicate, and respond to our environment, and all this starts with language development. Promil Gold® is an indispensable ally that continues to champion stronger language foundations in children’s growth and development by providing the clinically proven nutrients that support language and cognitive skills.

Advance a gifted brain, advance a gifted kid now with Promil Gold®.

Promil Gold ® is not a breastmilk substitute but a growing up milk specially suited for kids 3 years old and beyond. Breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible.

For more information and to get the latest updates, visit https://www.parenteam.com.ph/promil-giftedkid and follow @promilfourph on social media.

#PromilGold #advanceagiftedbrain #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Violin Prodigy Adrian Ong and His Love for Music

Falling in love with music wasn’t a watershed moment for 24-year-old violin prodigy Adrian Ong. His affection for the art gradually blossomed after watching a televised violin performance when he was four years old. Immediately enamored, Ong’s journey began simply: he requested violin lessons as a hobby.

“I tried swimming and taekwondo when we couldn’t find a teacher for me. By the time we found one through a family friend, I was already 9 years old,” Ong recalled. Thankfully, his parents, Jeanne, and Alan Ong, supported his childhood dream, despite leaning towards dentistry.

A steadfast scholar

Ong’s love for the art of music grew stronger after becoming a scholar at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) in Makiling. Later, he graduated with honors from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan under another scholarship. Ong also received a merit-based scholarship from the Mannes School of Music, where he graduated with honors.

Under mentors Mellissa Geronimo Esguerra, Gina Medina-Perez, Paul Sonner, Lewis Kaplan, and Yibin Li, Ong furthered his studies. He also attended masterclasses with master musicians Ilya Kaler, Almita Vamos, Charles Castleman, Philippe Quint, and Thanos Adamopoulos. Besides polishing his musical instinct over the years, Ong learned to fall in love with every piece he played: “Whatever I’m playing is my favorite. Currently, I’m practicing a waltz composed by Eugène Ysaÿe, so it’s now one of my favorites.”

The intended emotions of the composer make the melodies memorable for Ong. He added, “I take note of the emotions, even the humor or the campiness of the song.”

Because of the emotions behind the compositions, music inevitably transforms people. Ong always adored how music is an invisible art form that brings people together. “It’s based on feelings and what you can express through sound,” he lamented. Through playing the violin, he witnesses stories as told by composers.

“It’s interesting how I can peek into the composer’s life. I also imagine colors as I’m playing because of the story behind the song,” Ong shared. Partaking in every composition’s story, Ong would see colors or moods, depending on the sound he played. Music is heard by the ear, but somehow every harmony opens his eyes.

Debut with PPO

Having his orchestral debut with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) at the age of 17, Ong plowed through performance after performance. In May 2023, he played at Carnegie Hall in New York, achieving what seemed to be every classical musician’s dream. “I had my own show. It was very fulfilling,” he expressed. He even played alongside Filipino-American world-renowned pianist Victor Asunción, making the performance all the more meaningful.

Grateful was an understatement as to how Ong felt. He also found the experience insightful, solidifying Carnegie Hall as the highlight of his career after being declared one of the scholars of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ International Scholarship Program. “It’s really very inspiring to play, especially with this generation as your audience,” expressed Ong.

Ong’s Carnegie Hall Recital Debut 2023.

After performing with fellow CCP scholars Aidan Baracol and Mark Rocas at the Young People’s Concert in 2023, Ong looked forward to the future of classical music in the Philippines. He found it easy to connect with the concert-goers, disproving the age-old misconception that classical music is too complex for young audiences.

Ong elaborated, “It’s easy to understand as long as you’re willing to listen. You just have to keep an open mind.”

Learning beyond the violin

As part of the CCP’s International Scholarship Program, which provides financial support for academic and artistic learners who have achieved excellence in their respective art forms, Ong decided to make the most out of the opportunity. He would watch concerts and attend masterclasses for other instruments.

For Ong, the scholarship opened more avenues for him to learn beyond the violin. “Each instrument requires a different view of music-making. Different instruments have different philosophies behind them,” he explained.

Slowly building a name for himself internationally, Ong wanted to prioritize his homeland first. He attended Helping Through Music: A Benefit Concert for Childhope PH and Museo Pambata in 2023, where an instrument petting zoo was held.

Ong recalled feeling indescribable joy upon seeing children express interest in the violin: “I want to share what I learned here in the Philippines, with its next generation,” he declared. Following through on this promise, he began coaching and collaborating with the Philippine Suzuki Youth Orchestra, alongside Herrick Ortiz.

But Ong never really expected to get into PHSA, where his love for music finally influenced his career path. By the time he received the news, he was already enrolled in another university. Still, he followed his heart and immediately transferred. Playing the violin may have started as a hobby for Ong, but with each performance sharpening his distinct sound, his journey as a violinist became clearer.

“I think this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life,” Ong said, smiling with fond certainty.

#AdrianOng #violinprodigy #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Philippine Marketing Association Announces 2024 Agora Youth Awards Finalists, Empowering the Next Generation of Filipino Marketers

The Philippine Marketing Association (PMA), in cooperation with the Philippine Junior Marketing Association (PJMA), co-presented with AGC Power Holdings Corp., have announced the finalists for the 32nd Agora Youth Awards. Honoring the next generation of Filipino marketers, the awards feature two categories: individual students and junior marketing associations or school organizations involved in marketing.

The Agora Youth Awards is an annual search for the country’s top marketing students, recognizing excellence in academic performance, extracurricular achievements, and performance in the marketing plan competition.

The finalists for the individual category came from Luzon, NCR, and Mindanao, namely Kristalyn Agustin from Central Luzon State University; Franco Gabrielle Delatina from Our Lady of Fatima University – Antipolo Campus; Ma. Alexandria Ogalinola from Bulacan State University – Main Campus; Kaye Liwag from Batangas State University – TNEU – Pablo Borbon;  Xyrill Baltazar from National University-Fairview; Sharmaine Allen Bea, Mariel Flores, Raymart Mariano Jr. and Maica Stephamae Orenda from Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Manila & Taguig; Prince Olie Cacho from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila; Jarmila Cansancio from Colegio De San Juan De Letran- Manila; Mark Enriquez Cruz from San Beda University;   Madelene Abapo from La Salle University – Ozamiz; Rayan Camid from Xavier University- Ateneo De Cagayan and Mike Ivan Siga from Mindanao State University – Main Campus, Marawi City.

The awards program, in cooperation with the PJMA also spotlights top student marketing associations with their programs and contributions to the advancement of their student marketing members.

In the Junior Marketing Association category, the finalists came from Luzon, NCR, Visayas and Mindanao, including Cavite State University Junior Marketing Association; Central Luzon State University Junior Marketing Association; Bulacan State University Chamber of Young Business Leaders; Mariano Marcos State University Junior Marketing Advocates; De LaSalle University Manila Junior Entrepreneurs’ Marketing Association; Polytechnic University of the Philippines Junior Marketing Executives;  Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Taguig Junior Marketing Association; San Beda University Junior Marketing Association; Siliman University Junior Marketing Association and Xavier University Junior Marketing Association.

Leah Marie Ayeng, Director of Youth Academe at PMA, emphasized the broader impact of the awards. “The Agora Youth Awards is a platform that looks at community impact beyond competence because that is what it takes to be a changemaker. Now in its 32nd year, PMA’s youth and academe initiatives will take on a new approach with more innovative and practical programs that will enrich our young marketers’ experience and expose them to the pivotal changes in the industry.”

The judges for  the individual category are Lea Aquino, Mikaela Manuel, Loise Jan Alvarado, and Bianca Cerdenia. For the JMA category, the judges are Donna Donato, Lloyd Genesiran, and Queen Dy Manly. All judges are past recipients of the Agora Youth Awards.

Archie Carrasco, the CEO of AGC Power Holdings Corp. and a former recipient of the Agora Youth Award (formerly TOMAS Award) expressed his pride in being part of the awards again, this time as co-presenter and judge. The awards ceremony will take place on July 31, 2024, at Sequoia Hotel Manila Bay in Parañaque City.

During the press conference, the StratMark Student Conference was also announced, with representatives from the University of Santo Tomas, the venue partner, and Our Lady of Fatima University, the youth and academe partner, in attendance. StratMark is the annual convergence of marketing students, educators, and professionals, and is one of the flagship programs of the PMA.

#AgoraYouthAwards  #PMA  #rubyspreciousmoments  #rubyasoyph

 

 

New Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce Launches with Tito Boy Abunda as Celebrity Endorser

Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce launches in the Philippine market with a commitment to food excellence and flavorful innovations. The brand is thrilled to also introduce Tito Boy Abunda as the celebrity endorser who shares about how Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce will become a new household name that will deliver unparalleled food taste and quality through spaghetti dishes and Filipino favorites such as the Mechado, Afritada, Kaldereta, Menudo, Pochero, and many more.

The variety Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce is capable of bringing to Filipino homes is endless, hence the expression that it is projected to bring to everyone…”SuuusSarap!”

“As someone who appreciates good food, I am truly excited to be part of this milestone with the Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce Family. Sa unang tikim ko pa lang, alam ko na agad, ito ang bagong spaghetti sauce #ParaSaBayan. Their spaghetti sauce is more than just a special mix of naturally sourced ingredients, it is made with love, it is made for the Filipino’s taste—and will surely transform ordinary meals beyond just spaghetti, into extraordinary experiences,” Tito Boy Abunda says about Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce.

Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce’s culinary team has meticulously sourced and brought together the finest ingredients, ensuring that each pack will deliver a symphony of taste that will delight moms, dads, kuyas, ates, lolos and lolas, food enthusiasts, home cooks and food professionals alike. Not only that, but the product is also naturally rich in Lycopene and is Halal-certified to ensure that everyone can have a taste of this sauce in their meals.

Tito Boy Abunda with Kitchen Magic family.

“We are all excited for every household in the Philippines to get a taste of what Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce has to offer. It took us many months to get us to where we are today, and we are sure that this is the Spaghetti Sauce that Filipinos are looking for, and we are working hard to get this to as many kitchens in the Philippines as possible,” Ron Ferrer, Marketing Head of Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce proudly shares.

In partnership with All Day Supermarkets, Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce will be available in their select stores nationwide.

As part of the launch, news and updates about Kitchen Magic Spaghetti Sauce can be found in their Facebook and TikTok pages—facebook.com/kitchenmagicsauceph and @KitchenMagicSaucePh respectively.

#KitchenMagic #ParaSaBayan #KitchenMagicSaucePh #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Two Properties of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC) Belong to the Top 10 Best Hotels in the Philippines

Two acclaimed hotel brands under SMHCC’s portfolio, Conrad Manila and Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu have both received the Travel + Leisure Luxury Awards Asia Pacific 2024 as part of the top 10 best hotels in the Philippines. Both properties made it as two of the best City Hotels in the country.

Beyond mere opulence, Conrad Manila continues to exhibit unparalleled service and Filipino hospitality at its finest. Offering stunning views of the renowned Manila Bay sunset and conveniently located within the Mall of Asia complex, in close proximity to SM Mall of Asia and IKEA, this property has a matchless location that is difficult to beat. Complemented by its exquisite pool, contemporary gym, and luxurious spa, it is undoubtedly a sought-after sanctuary to refresh, rejuvenate, and recharge.

Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu remains to exude its commanding presence in the heart of the city. With just a few minutes away from the Mactan International Airport and Cebu International Port, it boasts of its five-star accommodation and strategic location with easy access to historic attractions and pristine beaches. It is directly connected to SM City Cebu mall, which houses a wide array of local and international lifestyle brands perfect for shopping. The sprawling outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, and holistic spa complete the guests’ encompassing experience.

These accolades are added feathers in SMHCC’s cap, which solidify the company’s thrust as one of the leading hotels and convention center operators in the country. SMHCC is poised to expand its brand footprint across the Philippines and provide more accommodation options to both locals and tourists alike, with the distinct warmth and hospitality that Filipinos are known for.

For more information, please visit https://smhotels.com.ph/

 

#ConradManila  #RadissonBluHotelCebu #SMHCC #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph