Kathryn Bernardo renews her contract as brand endorser for TCL Philippines

TCL Electronics, a leading consumer electronics brand and the world’s top two TV brand, renews its enduring partnership between one of the country’s most beloved celebrities and the most influential endorser Kathryn Bernardo as their brand endorser.

“I just renewed my contract with TCL Electronics so I am very excited with the partnership that we’ll be doing this year,” Kathryn enthuses during the contract signing session held at her studio.

The partnership was sealed at Baked Studios last February 6. Present in the contract signing were Loyal Cheng –  TCL PH Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shae Xiaoling Yu – Marketing Head and Joseph Cernitchez – Brand Manager.

(L-R) TCL Marketing Head Shae Xiaoling Yu, TCL PH Chief Executive Officer Loyal Cheng, TCL Brand Endorser Kathryn Bernardo & TCL Brand Manager Joseph Cernitchez.

This partnership is truly a match made for Kathryn as she vividly remembers her childhood having their TCL TV and the bonding moments with her family. Having grown up with the TCL brand, “I would remember that big gray box, there was no smart TV before and I have good memories with that TCL TV because every night after I finish my homework, we would go to my parent’s room just to bond and watch our favorite shows and cartoons.”

She continues, “I didn’t expect that one day, move forward to 2023 when I first became their brand endorser. I’m so grateful and it’s also a humbling experience for me because I grew up with TCL and now, they’re offering other products like air conditioner, washing machine, and refrigerators.”

Aligning with TCL’s brand message of “Inspire Greatness,” Kathryn’s journey on becoming the most-sought-after actress in the Philippines has become an inspiration to a lot of people. She has become a perfect embodiment of empowerment and ambition that continues to illuminate and inspire more. Likewise, TCL continues to strive harder to develop and roll out innovative products to uplift the Filipino lifestyle.

As for TCL, the executives have all praises for the 27-year-old actress in helping the brand to set the trail as a leader in the industry.

“We are very thrilled to have Kathryn once again as our brand endorser. She embodies the company’s vision to provide products that inspire and empower people to pursue greatness in their lives,” TCL Electronics Philippines CEO Loyal Cheng says.

Kathryn will be headlining upcoming campaigns for TCL products such as TVs, Washing Machines, Air Conditioners and Refrigerators.

“We are planning for a lot of things for Kathryn for this partnership and we are very happy to have her onboard once again.  She’s a perfect match for TCL. She has become an inspiration for a lot of people.  Just like TCL’s brand message, she also strives to ‘Inspire Greatness’ that is why a lot of people also aspire to be successful like her,” says Shae Xiaoling Yu, TCL’s  Marketing Head.

“I’m looking forward to a lot of exciting launches for TCL products. I’m also grateful that we have partnered once again. For someone who have grown up and loved TCL ever since as a kid, it’s such a happy feeling to be part of their biggest campaigns this year,” Kathryn testifies.

TCL Electronics is also set to launch its newest air conditioner model in a few weeks. Likewise, TCL has a growing list of innovative consumer electronic products—from TVs and smart appliances such as Washing Machines, Air Conditioners, Refrigerators, and Air Purifiers. The company strongly upholds its promise to continue to Inspire Greatness for more Filipinos.

Visit the TCL home page at https://www.tcl.com/ph/en.

#TCLxKathryn #KathForTCL #KathrynInspireGreatness #TCLPhilippines #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Uma Nota: A Harmonious Blend of Brazilian and Japanese Flavors

After captivating the palates of diners in Hong Kong and Paris, Uma Nota invites guests to embark on a sensory journey that harmoniously blends Brazilian and Japanese culinary traditions.

Located at the heart of Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Uma Nota draws inspiration from the historical migration of the Japanese to São Paulo, weaving a rich tapestry of cultural influences. In each carefully crafted dish, it captures the essence of this journey, seamlessly blending the precision of Japanese culinary artistry with the bold and vibrant flavors synonymous with São Paulo.

Designed by Asmaa Said, founder of  The Odd Duck Studio, it unfolds as a sensory journey through four distinct realms. The Living Room, with its striking ‘Hanging Tree’ installation, seamlessly transitions from upscale dining to a vibrant, seductive evening space. The Bar fosters an intimate social atmosphere, while Tropicalia pays tribute to the 70s Tropicália movement. The Meiji  Room, with its Japanese mural, honors the rich heritage of the mass Japanese migration to São Paulo during the Meiji era.

Main dining

Uma Nota’s menu is a celebration of diverse flavors, seamlessly blending culinary traditions. From the enticing Coxinhas de frango to the elegant Wagyu No Brioche,  each dish harmoniously combines premium and flavorful ingredients. Exclusive selections like the WX Tomahawk MS7 and Japanese A5 Wagyu Striploin elevate the entire experience. Notable offerings also include the Crab Udon, Hotate Tiradito, Unagi Roll, and the robust Robalo Assado showcasing culinary innovation. For vegetarians, the enticing Berinjela offers a unique twist. Cap off the meal with the indulgent Amor Por  Chocolate  and Uma Nota’s signature Ube Cheesecake. Its menu is a culinary journey that transcends boundaries, delivering a symphony of flavors with every dish.

Co-Founders of Uma Nota

Complementing its exquisite culinary offerings is a thoughtfully crafted Drinks Menu, ensuring a perfect pairing for every palate. Dive into the vibrant world of Brazilian mixology with the iconic Caipirinhas, skillfully combining Cachaça Yaguara, sugar, lime, and a choice of fresh fruit. Experience the unique fusion of flavors in the Kyoto Sour, featuring Atago No Matsu sake, grapefruit, green Tabasco, lemon, and agave. Indulge in the Maluco Carioca, a signature Brazilian limeade masterpiece crafted with Cachaça Yaguara. For a truly innovative libation, savor the Uma Nota Cup Noodle, blending Plantation 3 stars, homemade toasted coconut liqueur, pineapple, cucumber, lime, and sesame oil. The Drinks Menu is a testament to creativity, offering a harmonious balance to the culinary symphony on the plate.

Alexis Offe, Co-Founder of Uma Nota, shares his excitement, stating, “Uma Nota has always been a celebration of cultural harmony, a symphony where Brazilian and Japanese influences dance together. Our journey into Manila is more than just an expansion; it’s an immersion into the rich tapestry of flavors and experiences unique to this vibrant city.”

He adds that the difference with Hong Kong, Manila will be elevating the experience, big events will become a regular part of the program, promising a dynamic atmosphere that goes beyond the ordinary. Uma Nota Manila is not just a venue; it’s a destination for those seeking a thrilling blend of entertainment, design, and immersive experiences.

Carnaval show

Uma Nota’s Executive Chef Gustavo Vargas has developed a menu that caters to every palate, whether you like it raw, from the wok, grilled or baked.

On his menu, Executive Chef Gustavo Vargas adds, “We’ve been hard at work collaborating with Kyle Ureta, our Manila Head Chef to create dishes that bring together the bold flavors of Brazilian and Japanese cuisine while catering specifically to the local palate. In a city known for its diverse food scene, we’re confident that our menu, crafted in harmony with local influences, will offer a delicious and unique dining experience.”

For more information, visit – www.uma-nota.com.ph.

#UmaNota #BrazilianJapaneseCuisine #Manila #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Indulge in the Art of Love with Raffles Makati’s Exquisite Valentine’s Season Enticements

Embrace the essence of romance this Valentine’s Day season at Raffles Makati, where culinary excellence and unforgettable experiences await discerning couples.

Raffles Makati’s renowned Mireio French fine dining restaurant, offers an unparalleled romantic experience against the backdrop of the city skyline and sunset. Available from February 9 to 29, the Ma Valentine dinner presents an exquisite 6-course set menu expertly curated for the occasion. Priced at PhP6,500++ for the non-vegan option and PhP4,500++ for the vegan alternative, the menu includes highlights such as Foie gras with dusted onion, truffle reduction, apricot puree, and brioche, paired with Taylor’s Fine Ruby Port. For those with a penchant for seafood, the Sea urchin and mussel soup with rouille foam, paired Tedeschi Pinot Grigio, is a sublime choice. The culinary journey culminates in a dessert of poached pear in Burgundy wine, cranberry grenadine ice cream, and red berries coulis.

Mistral

Meanwhile, Mistral, Raffles Makati’s rooftop bar, beckons couples to experience “The Perfect Match at Mistral.” From February 5 to 29, indulge in three unique pairing options, including Espresso Martini Cocktails plus Tiramisu for PhP1,700++, Branchetto d’Acqui Wine plus Chocolate covered Strawberry Lollipops for PhP2,500++, and Camille De La’ Brie Rose plus an elaborate Cheese Platter for PhP2,700++. With its magnificent outdoor vibe overlooking the cityscape, Mistral promises an unforgettable Valentine’s celebration.

Long Bar

Raffles Makati’s Long Bar, known for its lively night-out atmosphere, introduces “My Perfect Pair” from February 1 to 28. Priced at PhP1,900++, this special offering celebrates the season with a delightful cocktail and pizza pairing. Choices include The America’s Favorite (Pepperoni Pizza and Cuba Libre), Queen Margherita (Margherita Pizza and Negroni), Cheesy Pie (Cheese Pizza and Manhattan), and The Controversial Pie (Hawaiian Pizza and Tequila Sunrise). Revel in the vibrant ambiance and live music entertainment that make the Long Bar the go-to spot for a night filled with joy.

For more information and reservation, please call +632 7795 1840 or email dining.makati@raffles.com.

About Raffles Makati

Raffles Makati is an oasis of calm and elegance nestled in the most prestigious address of cosmopolitan Makati. The hotel is within walking distance to fashionable boutiques, exciting dining options that offer a myriad of cuisines, and museums and galleries. Raffles Makati offers emotional luxury to the well-travelled through its stylishly designed 32-suites. Bespoke Butler services, relaxing spa and fitness facilities, an open-air swimming pool, and the iconic Long Bar and Writers Bar are found in the hotel. Other culinary options include the vibrant all-day-dining Spectrum buffet, pastry-boutique Café Macaron, and the bustling Fairmont Lounge. The Raffles Makati is housed within a sleek 30-story tower that also includes the 280 Fairmont Makati and 237 Raffles Residences.

#RafflesMakati #ValentinesDay2024 #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

 

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, night life, 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 in Lantau Island and is still on 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 up 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 – 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

 

 

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

Philippines’ new tourism slogan encourages love for country

The Philippines is ready for a fresh start as the Department of Tourism (DOT) finally unveils the new tourism slogan: “Love The Philippines,” a testament to how this country calls out to anyone who has a thrill for adventure, captivating beauty, and the embrace of a newfound home.

After 11 years of sporting the iconic “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” the new slogan was unveiled at DOT’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Manila Hotel. Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco emphasizes that this slogan is also a “call to action” towards Filipinos and international citizens alike to discover and explore the Philippines with the numerous things it has to offer.

Despite being a slogan, this change has brought new heights and challenges for the country’s tourism department. While the country has countless destinations lined up for travelers, there are plenty of places left undiscovered yet well-maintained by the locals. The DOT also hopes that this new slogan will bring attention to other places that are not particularly highlighted in past tourism campaigns.

They also wanted to showcase a more Filipino brand– and the “Love The Philippines” slogan encapsulates what it takes to become a country full of love, natural wonders, an enticing history, and our unique cultural footprint.

In the modern era, travelers have begun to change their preferences and the experiences that they seek whenever they go out of their comfort zone. Most people look for more scenic yet calm destinations while others tend to go to the undiscovered sites and take their exploration to new heights. As these preferences evolve, the DOT also adjusts to recent travel trends.

This branding, if effective, will showcase the Philippines’ hidden beauty and the love within its people. Marie Adriano, the brand and strategic planner from the marketing firm Doyle, Dane, and Bernbach (DDB) Philippines, explained that there is a positive association to travelers when it comes to the word love– a longing and caring feeling, one laced with newfound affection.

However, recent controversies surrounding the usage of stock footage in the slogan’s promotional video campaign drew flak from the netizens. The video contained footage shot from various countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates, as per the Agence France-Presse’s fact-checking arm.

The DOT’s creative arm, DBB, has spoken up about the stock footage issue, saying that it is a “standard practice in the industry.” They defended the usage, for the video’s intention is to be a “mood video” to attract and excite internal stakeholders for their tourism campaign. The whole campaign, including the slogan, utilized a ₱49M fund in total. Due to this controversy, the contract between DBB and DOT has been terminated, seeking accountability for the issue.

These developments have drawn mixed reactions from netizens, especially regarding the credibility of the DOT, the authenticity of the slogan, and its effects on the dwindling tourism in the country. This slogan is also created to honor the Filipinos, for their hospitality and love have bound the Philippines and continuously embraced citizens from all over the world with their big hearts. It is only right that its creation should be as genuine as its intention.

Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc

Featured photo courtesy of PNA

#DOT #newlogo #lovethePhilippines #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

Five beautiful Baguio hotels perfect for your Christmas getaway

Christmas is fast approaching and the festive season is making us crave for the cold, the perfect combination with the warmth the holidays bring. Baguio is the place to be – with its cool climate and family-friendly attractions. Your trip to this magical place will certainly be memorable with these beautiful hotel accommodations, just in time for your Christmas getaway!

  • The Kamiseta Hotel

This gorgeous place just screams Bridgerton vibes with its French contemporary design and its equally enchanting glass house! Located beside the famous Mansion house, it is also near the stable Baguio tourist spots: Wright Park, Baguio Country Club Golf Course, and Camp John Hay. Each suite has a distinct motif that makes you feel like royalty, and their staff and concierge will surely treat you like one! Moreover, it is surrounded by pine trees, which gives you the serenity you need. This majestic 3360-degree view can best be seen in their glass house, an area adorned with glass ceilings and a spacious patio. Their comfy ambiance will surely help you settle into the Christmas feels– book your reservation now!

  • The Orchard Hotel Baguio

Do you want a hotel that’s Instagram-worthy? Look no more as the Orchard Hotel Baguio combines comfort and style with its millennial-themed rooms and amenities. Promoting the #TheORCHARDlifestyle, the hotel ensures that its guests receive 24-hour service that’s worthy of praise. Conveniently located 168 km away from The Clark International Airport, the Orchard Hotel Baguio is also near SM City Baguio, Mines View Park, and the Lourdes grotto.

Photo credits to Plane of Hotels

Whether it’s a family vacation or a couple’s getaway, the hotel makes sure to give you the best room possible!

  • The Forest Lodge at Camp John Hay
Photo credits to Agoda

Christmas is incomplete without outdoor activities that bind your family even stronger than before–and The Forest Lodge provides you with an equal dose of thrill and relaxation. Surrounded by the lush pine forest of Camp John Hay, the hotel is also famous for its Twist Cafe, with sumptuous dishes from different regions cooked by the Chef Billy King of Le Soufflé Manila. It is also near Mile Hi, a shopping center that’s perfect for buying your pasalubong and souvenirs. This place is perfect for a quick getaway from the busy streets of the city, and for you to embrace your adventurous side this holiday season!

  • Le Monet Hotel

Showcasing scenic mountain views, the Le Monet Hotel is also within the heart of Camp John Hay. This hotel has several amenities best enjoyed with family and friends, such as the Viva Verde Spa, which includes a variety of massages. Furthermore, their heated indoor swimming pool is a wonderful treat after a long day. Don’t you worry about your appetite–The Lobby restaurant offers a variety of delectable dishes presented by famous Chef Robby Goco! Le Monet Hotel surely lives up to people’s expectations.

Photo credits to Tripadvisor
  • Grand Sierra Pines Hotel

Looking for a hotel that is both culturally inclined and has an outdoorsy vibe? The Grand Sierra Pines Hotel has got you covered! Located at North Outlook drive, the hotel is known for its rich forests, adorned galleries,and environmentally-friendly amenities. Tourists have raved about the Adkos Gallery, an in-house gallery that showcases true Filipino talent; the true marvel and pride of the hotel. It exhibits various painters, from those in the indie scene to award-winning ones. Grand Sierra Pines Hotel will certainly never bore you this Christmas season!

Photo credits to Agoda

These hotels will surely be your home away from home these upcoming holidays. Be sure to spend it with your family and loved ones in the lush greenery and beautiful spots of Baguio!

Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc

Featured photo credits to Real Living PH

 

#BaguioCity #Philippines #Christmas #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Ace Gapuz on acing the social media game

Currently running an influencer marketing company called Blogapalooza, this millennial CEO, entrepreneur, and marketing and public relations specialist has seen it all. From blogs to vlogs, this social media mogul has gone through all the latest trends in the interwebs, witnessed the rise of the influencer, and figured out all the tips and tricks to marketing yourself.

Yet beyond the face value of her job, her goal to build a community and see the genuine person behind the screen shines through tenfold. “I hope there will be more creators. I hope that more voices could be heard. I hope that we will have more acknowledgment [towards creators].”

Started with a Blog

 Growing up, Ace Gapuz has always been the ‘madaldal’ one in the classroom. As told by her class advisors, she was always going off talking to her peers and saying whatever was on her mind, whichever seating arrangement she was placed in.

Moving from the IRL to the URL, her talking audience switched to behind the screen where she discovered blogging around the ages 11-12 years old back in the early 2000s. “It’s just innate in me to just talk. I have always been a storyteller. I guess that’s what brought me very naturally into blogging.”

“It was a novel concept back then. You write about your thoughts. Let people read them. It’s like a diary that you can have other people read. And the fact that people were hearing you, paying attention to what you have to say, and making you part of their lives, that was groundbreaking during that time,” Ace fondly reminisces.

Ace treated her blog like a personal diary, writing about her day-to-day life, interests, and opinions to a faceless audience. But, come 2009, she stopped because, in her words, “college happened.” “Blogging, for me back then, it was an honored pastime. It was something I did because I genuinely enjoyed. It wasn’t something I thought about as a career,” she muses.

So, at this time, she found herself taking up a bachelor’s degree in Management Engineering with a Minor in HR Management in the Ateneo at Manila University and, later on, an MBA. She felt that business was the more practical and pragmatic choice for the future. It was a versatile path that led to many outcomes.

That was until Ace took on a corporate job in a fashion and retail company and worked at it for two years. And very naturally, she found herself back into more creative and media pursuits as she was placed in PR and events. “I like the dynamic nature of PR and events. You get to meet people. And I got to meet the bloggers I used to just know over the internet.”

Maintaining contact and connecting her way through the industry, she didn’t see any other path than to start Blogapalooza.

Ended with a Blogapalooza 

Being a young CEO, Ace Gapuz didn’t let her age get in the way of pursuing her goals. She was determined to see things through.

From being a storyteller herself to letting other people share their stories, it all ties back to Ace’s roots with personal blogging to now, Blogapalooza. Through the years, the premier influencer marketing company has built a community of thousands of bloggers, social media influencers, and content creators all over the Philippine archipelago and nearby Southeast Asian countries.

“When I started building the Blogapalooza community of creators, I went to different parts of the Philippines and the world, for that matter. I wanted to hear them, to feel them. I think when you talk about building a community, it’s important to get to know what drives these people, what’s at their core, and what would make them happy. And that’s where you come in to provide the value.”

The greatest lesson she’s learned in the process? Be genuine, always. “If you’re genuine about service if you’re genuine about providing value, and if you genuinely care for them, they’re also going to feel that, and they’re going to give you that same energy.”

 

#AceGapuz #Blogapalooza #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

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.

Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas, Ronin Leviste sets his vision of building a ‘tomorrow together’

“No act is too small to make your country better,” said Leviste during a valedictory speech to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to make a positive impact.

 

“Being Batangueño is the best thing ever,” began Ronin Leviste, the uber-passionate and ultra-proud yet humble recently elected 23-year-old Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas. “We have the most beautiful province in the entire country — beyond the instagrammable mountains and world-class beaches, it is our people [my fellow Batangueños] and their stories who can showcase all the best my province has to offer. We’re already so near [Manila], but we still have a lot more infrastructure coming in soon, surely putting us in a sweet spot for rapid development.”

Following in his father’s footsteps

Politics was never an alien concept to Ronin. His father is Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste, whose flourishing career began over two decades ago. As soon as he could walk, Ronin was already accompanying his father to constituent consultations, sessions, and the campaign trails. Seeing his father work closely with communities inspired the young man to follow in his footsteps.

As a student at Xavier, Ronin developed outreach programs growing up and played a role in the social action arm of the school. He recalls a great memory when he started a movement of the solar light building with his barkada in the school’s science lab and then installed them in underprivileged dim communities in Batangas and Mindanao.

While in college at De La Salle University, Leviste received two of the highest honors, the Br. Gabriel Connon Award and the Gawad Francisco Ortigas Jr. Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader Award. In his final year at school, he served as Vice President for External Affairs of the University Student Government. To top it all off, he graduated Magna Cum Laude in Development Studies with the Best Undergraduate Thesis Award.

Creating a positive impact

During the university’s 192nd Commencement Exercise, Leviste gave a rousing valedictory speech to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to make a positive impact. “Everyone here has a different timeline, everyone here has a unique story, but the commonality that binds us is that we all have talents, opportunities, and skills worth sharing when put together, with almost no limit to what the world can expect from us. More importantly, we all have an equal role to play in the development of the Philippines that we call our home. So when our country needs us, we, as Lasallian leaders, must always respond with unconditional service to the nation because to build the nation is to love.” It was Leviste’s wake-up call to his peers: that no act is too small to make your country better.

Education as his advocacy

Ronin soon began building his political career, serving as Sangguniang Kabataan Kagawad in Makati and as the Youth Affairs Head of the office of the Vice Governor. He then ran as Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas, as an independent candidate.

“Education can uplift people from poverty and give them an extra sense of fulfillment,” says Leviste.

While he is one of the youngest vice mayors in the country, Ronin never takes it for granted. Apart from what he learned from his father and other mentors, he humbly credits his success to his education — learning loads from school and the people around him. The Batangueño says that education is one of his main advocacies as Vice-Mayor. “Education can uplift people from poverty and give them an extra sense of fulfillment. I learned so much from it, but it also taught me that there is still so much more to learn, so much more to do, so much more to serve,” he muses.

“Everything starts with a vision,” he says. “And mine begins by building a Tomorrow Together. For me, this means we leave absolutely no one behind. I want the Philippines where everyone can wake up in the morning knowing they have food on their tables, that they have jobs sufficient to provide for their family, and that their kids go to school and now have the means to do so. All of this will help uplift families to a better future — giving everyone equal opportunities in life. It is a daunting task ahead, but our generation has shown that if anyone can lead this change — it’s us.”

 

#RoninLeviste #vicemayor #LianBatangas #Philippines #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

The Logic in Logistics: Beverly Arcangel of Prozone Xpress Logistics   

PXL has established a network coverage of 150 cities in 75 countries across six continents. It is now one of the country’s top logistics superstars.

 

It is 4 in the morning and Beverly Anne Arcangel is already getting out of bed. These early hours are precious for the Managing Director of Prozone Xpress Logistics INC. (PXL) because it won’t be long before her phone starts ringing off the hook. Though the majority of PXL’s clients are from China and Intra-Asia, Europe and the United States are also at par so she needs to be awake when they are.

The 43-year-old begins her routine with a session/flow of Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ), a traditional Japanese practice that helps harmonize one’s energy by holding different parts of the body. Beverly puts herself in a state of peace and relaxation. After that, she makes her way towards the fairway, yoga, or Pilates studio, but manages time to reply to every e-mail in her inbox.  By the time the sun is shining bright, she already managed to put on her #GirlBoss hat even before she arrives at the office.

“I wear different hats in the office, “ she says while explaining her daily routine. Being in the logistics industry means new and unexpected situations happen daily. As Managing Director (without a General Manager), it is up to Beverly to be on top of everything – making sure her team is running like a well-oiled machine. While Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. is a relatively new company, Beverly and her team have quickly elevated it to become one of the country’s top logistics superstars. They handle diverse industries from the shipment of luxury furniture and lifestyle items to medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, appliances, construction materials, retail, trading, and essentials (IT, telecommunication, water, agriculture, etc). PXL has established a network coverage of 150 cities in 75 countries across six continents.

Power team

Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. maneuvered during the pandemic by being quick and agile. She also credits her partner, her co-Managing Director at PXL along with her colleagues whose hard work, commitment, and passion for logistics made them the ideal power team. Taking pride in their unique customer service approach which makes them different from competitors, “I always say, I don’t just give a quotation to the customer, I ensure to give them a solutions-focused and client-first approach that require precision, timing, foresight, and flexibility. I listen to their requirements then I customize our services depending on their needs,“ she explains. “I always tell my team, that it is all about personalized service.”

“I always tell my team, that it is all about personalized service,” says Arcangel.

While many companies were minimizing manpower during the pandemic, Beverly did the exact opposite. She made sure that PXL’s clients always had somebody to talk to directly about their concerns. Her way of doing business helped foster strong relationships with her clients, who ultimately trusted the company with all their logistical needs.

The business of logistics

The business of logistics is high stakes and nerve-racking. One small mistake could cost millions. “If you miss information like the correct chargeable weight or correct volume in a cubic meter of a shipment, then everything changes. And a mistake translates to a monetary loss in dollars, not in pesos. This is the reason why it is called LOGISTICS – because this work requires LOGIC.”

Remembering her journey was an emotional process for the successful businesswoman. Throughout the interview, she held back genuine tears. Beverly was somebody else’s employee for a good 19 years, and now she is calling the shots. Yet, her success has not gone to her head. She remains humble, knowing that her quiet strength can be harnessed into gold. “Last June 2022, one of the Philippines’ leading shipping lines called a meeting with me. Announcing that Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. was noticed as one of the top 10 importers/producers for their line. I was so proud to be in a roster of the big logistics players in the country.” As we ended the interview, I realized that life can indeed begin at 40. All you need is a little strength, a lot of prayers, and a lot of logic.

 

#BeverlyArcangel #ProzoneXpressLogistics #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Constructing a Legacy: Alvin, Aimee and Alrich Lam

The Lam siblings remember their childhood as a busy one. “During the holidays, our friends would leave town, and we’d be working. Truth be told, back then, there was resentment. Why did we have to work?” recalled Aimee. What the trio didn’t realize was that they were part of a family legacy. Their parents are Joey and Herminia Lam, the husband-wife power duo who founded Fighter Lock Philippines Corporation (FLPC) in 1986, one of the country’s leading distributors of hardware, construction, and electrical materials. While their peers were enjoying the simple joys of childhood, Alvin, Aimee, and Alrich were training to take on the keys of the family kingdom.

The journey wasn’t easy. Unlike other COOs (Children of Owner), their parents strongly believed that their children needed to start from the bottom. As early as grade school, the siblings were asked to man the stores, make deliveries, and learn the behind-the-scenes nature of their homegrown company. Alvin, the firstborn, was the first to find his footing within FLPC. “He was a bit of a wild child,” Aimee shared with a laugh. As a way to deal with his rowdiness, Alvin was sent to China to learn Mandarin. It wasn’t long before he was homesick. The eldest son begged his parents to let him come back to the Philippines, promising that he would finally shape up. He kept his word and soon began running the business’ daily operations.

Aimee had a similar journey. She went to Canada to study, as a way of escaping the dullness of a daily routine. Although she was looking to do something entirely different, she realized her heart belonged back at home. “They told us time and time again, that this was our bread and butter. They frequently told us their rags to riches story. I felt that it was such a waste to throw this opportunity away if we didn’t continue it.” She moved back home, ultimately taking her place as the company’s head of finance.

Their youngest sibling, Alrich, also felt a sense of resentment as a child because he was asked to work early on. Growing up around his older siblings (Aimee is 4 years older, while Alvin is 10) and seeing them contribute to the company’s success, he came on board after college, handling the FLPC’s marketing department. “I realized, all the experiences we had mattered because they helped us become who we are today,” Alrich says.

Another important lesson instilled into them by their parents is that they are all equal. While many traditional Chinese families believe that the eldest should be the most respected, the Lams reject that dogma. Because of this, they can challenge each other’s perspectives, which have been an instrument in the company’s continuous growth.

As a trio, Alvin, Aimee, and Alrich have been able to bring FLPC into the modern age. The three put their minds together to build a professional image, as well as streamline operations, that propelled the company from a small family business to a thriving corporation. Under their watch, FLPC has expanded from being more than a distributor, but also a creator of their own brands: LAMCO (plumbing needs), Aimee (locks and keys), and Kantt (LED lighting).

Although their success was born from resentment, the Lam siblings are certain that they are where they’re supposed to be. “We can do anything when we’re together,” Aimee shared. As they continue to construct their empire, the Lams have embraced their destiny with open minds and a smile.

#Lamsiblings #FLPC #lamco #Kantt #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

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.

 

The kubol area for a relaxing family staycation.

 

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

 

Savoy Hotel Boracay welcomes you back for colorful experiences once again

The long wait is over and we are excited to share that Savoy Hotel Boracay is reopening this June 1, 2022.  They can’t wait to welcome you back, so here are exciting treats to color your experience once again!

Savoy Hotel Boracay welcomes back guests on June 1, 2022.

Reopening Room Treat!

The plan that perfect beach day to the Boracay you know and love, and avail of our hotel room vouchers for Php 3,150 per night good for two (2) people.  Amazing surprises and complimentary treats await so start booking your stays and purchase these special reopening vouchers until May 31, 2022.  These are valid until December 31, 2022.  To book, visit our official website at https://booking.savoyhotelboracay.com.ph/4.31/ or avail of your vouchers at https://onlineshopping.savoyhotelboracay.com.ph/.

Room views from Savoy guest rooms

Reopening Food Trip!

As a special treat on our opening day, join us for an evening packed with live acoustic entertainment by the Chambery Pool Bar and sumptuous Filipino buffet selections at Savoy Café for Php 1,650 per person.  Complimentary shuttle services to and from D’Mall, Station 2 is available for guests and walk-ins.

Reopening Activities!

For those looking for adventure, we’ve got complimentary activities like kayaking and paddle-boarding.  Plus, enjoy the sun and the sand with other options for leisure activities and watersports. Set off on a bike ride to the infamous Boracay Keyhole or sunrise cruise amidst a picturesque island view.

Finally, if you are looking to simply relax away from the crowded beach stations, then this is where you want to stay.  Savoy Hotel Boracay is nestled in Boracay Newcoast, a tourist destination on its own where you can enjoy a peaceful, serene stay.

All these and more await you at Savoy Hotel Boracay… where you want to be, soon!

Savoy Hotel Boracay is located at the Newcoast Drive, Boracay Newcoast, Brgy. Yapak, Boracay Island, 5608, Malay, Aklan. To find out more about the hotel’s ongoing promotions and offerings, visit their website at www.savoyhotelboracay.com.ph or call them at +63 (36) 286 2800 or +63 (917) 821  0282. Like us on Facebook at Savoy Hotel Boracay and follow us on Instagram at @savoyboracay.

Managed by Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the largest hospitality chain in the country having nearly 4,000 room keys across 11 home-grown brands. With a growing portfolio of hotels strategically located in key townships, it caters to the various needs of today’s savvy travelers by providing quality products, enriching experiences, and heartfelt service that is uniquely and proudly Filipino.

Featured photo: Tons of activities for all ages

#SavoyHotelBoracay #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

From an Iskolar to being the PUP President: The Manuel Muhi life story 

The student that the Sintang Paaralan has guided has now become its leader – and he intends to do a great job at it. As the University President, Manuel has several plans that he wishes to implement to ensure that everybody is given the same chance as he was, decades ago.

 

The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has been home to students from all walks of life, hence why it is dubbed the “Sintang Paaralan.” It was a haven for people who wished to continue learning despite obstacles and hindrances that may come their way. This is the exact environment that nurtures people into becoming something much bigger than themselves – something that Manuel Muhi has been on the receiving end of. Now that he’s back in the halls of the fabled university, the student that the Sintang Paaralan has guided has now become its leader– and he intends to do a great job at it.

Humble beginnings 

Manuel Mengorio Muhi was just a seemingly ordinary student when he first entered PUP as a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering freshman. Life has been rather hard on him, as he did not come from a wealthy family. He was taught the painful and harsh realities of life early on.

“My learning journey in PUP required me to be humble to succeed, to make ends meet, to become more resourceful, and to appreciate the privilege of being a part of the university to further my education,” he shares.

Then and Now (Facebook)

Looking back, the time he spent as a student in PUP taught Manuel a life lesson in humility. “Kasi kapag PUPian ka, sanay ka sa hirap. Magtatrabaho sa gabi, mag-aaral sa araw. Minsan hindi sumasapat ang baon, pero dapat handa ka. Kaya matututo kang makibagay at magpasalamat sa mga taong makakasalamuha mo dahil sila ang tutulong sayo,” he elaborates.

Being a student at PUP has given him a chance to improve himself to unlock his highest potential, and Manuel was more than grateful for it when he received his diploma from the university in 1988.

The education that the university has provided him has given him the urge to reach for greater heights in the academe. “As a PUPian, hindi tayo tumitigil matuto dahil mataas ang pangarap natin.” Manuel says.

True to his word, he entered graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in Engineering, specializing in Transport and Road Engineering from the prestigious Technical University of Delft-International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulics and Environment Engineering – the Netherlands in 2000. He then chose to pursue a Doctoral degree in Technology at TUP Manila in 2008.

Armed with these huge achievements, he knew that he could look for greater opportunities elsewhere, but he chose to follow his true calling and that is to serve his beloved alma mater.

“The university helped me finish my education and gave me numerous opportunities to serve both inside and outside of the country,” he narrates. He knew that PUP could make it big – and he wanted to be a part of the movement that is going to make this vision a reality.

Back to Sintang Paaralan

 Manuel felt that going back to PUP and serving the university is the best way to give back to the same home that has willingly accepted him – back when he was still a mere freshman student, lost in the university’s expanse. This time, he wandered through the classrooms as a professor, and later on, he became the Dean of the College of Engineering from 2006 to 2013.

Magagaling ang ating mga estudyante. These are deserving youth and they need the university’s assistance,” he shares. As someone who benefited from the university before, he wishes to do the same for others by being someone that can give them the opportunities that he once had.

 

Courtesy of  Facebook

He also served as the Executive Vice President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for Research, Extension, Planning, and Development from 2012 to 2016. After being appointed as the University President, Manuel knew that this position should not be taken lightly.

“Isa din sa mga inspirasyon ko ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan. Nakita ko kung gaano nila ka-gustong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral,” Manuel expounds. “[PUP] has the potential to meet a wide range of needs in the surrounding communities, and I recognized that potential. It gave me hope that I could be a part of an institution that could have a significant impact on the lives of many people.”

The life of a leader 

Being the University President is a huge responsibility that comes with all sorts of challenges. For Manuel, the position required him to be on his toes at all times.

“We cannot let our position get into our heads. What matters is the kind of leadership you demonstrate,” he shares. Manuel wants to be the kind of leader who knows and sees everyone– including their struggles, hardships, and eventually their successes. “Kaya mula sa pinakaibaba, mga estudyante, janitors, security guards, empleyado, hanggang sa mga middle managers, directors and executive officials, pinupuntahan po natin sila, inaabot, kinakausap, pinakikinggan.” 

With this kind of leadership, he has also drafted plans for the university’s improvement, geared towards technological advancement and infrastructure improvement. As an engineer himself, his plan was more focused on improving the technology and facilities. “Over time, we are seeing improvements, from our comfort rooms to our sports facilities, student centers, and newly constructed research and laboratory facilities, we are working tirelessly to achieve our goals,” he states.

Courtesy of Facebook

He also plans to make PUP a smart campus, focusing on improvements in technology, and student services, mitigating compliance mistakes, automating workflows, reducing wait times, and conserving energy and resources, among other things. Just like any other institution, PUP must keep up with the times and the increasing demands for quality education.

However, the pandemic posed a significant challenge to his administration and hampered most of his plans for the university. As the University President, it was his job to ensure that everything is covered. “We were caught off guard and unprepared because we needed to come up with a solution right away to make things work,” he narrates. With his brand of leadership, he wanted to ensure that with whatever policy he implemented, no one will be left behind.

The pandemic’s awful hit

 During these unpredictable times, the main concern of the university lies in three aspects: the studentry, the quality of the education they’ll receive, and the technological advancements needed to further their learning. With these in mind, the Flexible Technology Learning (FlexTel) is an alternative learning framework, which improved gradually through time.

FlexTel accommodates the needs of various learners, including their learning circumstances and their ability to access learning tools and gadgets. In this mode, the professors can also follow a curated teaching load that considers their flexibility as well. “Its implementation may have been hampered by birth pains, but it has opened the doors to learning for all PUPians across the country,” he adds.

With the mixed reactions from the studentry, Manuel recognizes that the FlexTel also needs improvement, and just like any other policy, it is open for criticisms and amendments. “PUP continues to work with various sectors to improve FlexTel implementation in the coming years so that it is more inclusive, accessible, and fully coherent,” he says, as he ensures that their concerns will be duly noted.

PUP Education on Wheels (PUP Official).

Moreover, he also launched the PUP Education on Wheels, a project that caters to the educational needs of the out-of-school youth in various places. This project aims to give more learning opportunities for everyone and to ensure that more people get access to education, regardless of their background. “Ito naman po ang matagal nang vision natin sa Sintang Paaralan, to make education accessible and of quality. The EOW is ongoing at napapakinabangan na ng maraming kabataan sa Smokey Mountain,” he proudly shares.

The Education on Wheels also seeks to expand nationwide, seeking out underprivileged youths – truly living up to PUP’s reputation of giving people, regardless of their stature, a chance at a quality education.

“The goal is straightforward: to bring education to those who cannot afford it, right at their doorstep. This would not have been possible without the generous contributions of our donors, all of whom shared the same vision of educating the next generation,” Manuel explains.

Currently, Education on Wheels has 65 students under the Bachelor of Science in Office Administration. Their courses are TESDA inclined, which guarantees them a job after two years of education.

PUP has come a long way as it is now regarded as the top choice for employers, according to JobStreet. It is now known as the number one producer of professionals in different fields.

The university continues to raise its proud colors as it always claims its spot as one of the country’s top-performing schools. Board top-notchers also hail from various courses such as engineering, accounting, law, nutrition and dieticians, psychometrician, and education, among others.

On criticisms and challenges

 Since he sat in the highest position in the university, he has been faced with criticisms and various side comments from various sectors. Being in such a vulnerable post means that Manuel needs to have the right mindset to deal with them professionally.

“I was also once a student of PUP and alam ko po ang mga kailangang baguhin sa Sintang Paaralan, and this is their assurance that someone understands them at hindi natin hahayaan na mahihirapan ang ating mga estudyante,” he shares. He knows that no leadership is perfect, but for it to work, he has to listen to his constituents.

Manuel is aware that PUPians have valid concerns and that they only want what’s best for the entire student population-–a sentiment that Manuel shared back when he was still a student. This kind of connection, as he says, brings him closer to the calls of the studentry and makes him more adept at their needs and concerns.

“We always hear our students, sila ang priority. We always make sure that their frustrations are validated and heard. We understand them and make sure we address their concerns right away,” Manuel adds.

Looking ahead

PUP is one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, but Manuel knows it has so much potential to be more, unlock more doors, and open up new opportunities for students and employees alike. The university has always been in the service of the Filipino people, which also educates them about the realities of life and how the world essentially works. While this resiliency is commonly romanticized, Manuel sees it as undeniably patriotic.

“Lagi’t lagi naming binabanggit,  ‘Mula sa ‘yo para sa bayan.’ Ito po ang identity ng isang PUPian. Buong husay na maglilingkod at magsisilbi para sa bayan. Nandyan ang Sintang Paaralan na kaisa sa pagtataguyod ng maunlad na bansa,” he expounds. “PUPians know that in everything they do, it must be for the country’s sake and for the masses.”

For Manuel, this is what makes PUP different from the other universities. “PUP taught me to accept where I am and honor where I am. Accepting where you are and realizing how far you still have to go and learn is another aspect of humility,” he explains.

The university has taught him life lessons that he carries up to this day, making him more grounded and humbled tirelessly. As the University President, Manuel has several plans that he wishes to implement to ensure that everybody is given the same chance as he was, decades ago.

The current PUP administration is now focusing on reaching the elusive National Polytechnic University status, which will eventually raise the university’s status and open more doors for the students.

“In the coming years, we would like to continue utilizing these by building better infrastructure, as well as higher educational standards. Several plans have been developed for PUP, and these plans will serve to demonstrate that the university is truly concerned with the interests of its stakeholders, particularly our students,” Manuel elaborates.

PUP has been a safe place for Manuel as a student, and as he sits as the University President, he also seeks to make students and employees feel at home within its walls. The university has been through various ups and downs during his administration, but one thing is for sure – he ensures that PUP will stay true to its nature of being a beacon of hope, critical thinking, and quality education for everyone. There is so much to look forward to, and Manuel is determined to do a great job at helping these plans become a reality.

(Ruby’s Precious Moments 3rd anniversary Special Feature)

#ManuelMuhi #PUPPresident #SintangPaaralan #Philippines #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

4 underrated destinations for your next summer getaway

Summer is fast approaching and we can’t simply wait to dip our toes in the beach and lie down in the lush sand. It’s what summer is for– having the utmost fun while sightseeing and unwinding as well. These underrated spots are just the right destination for your next summer getaway! 

  • Cabagnow Cave Pool in Bohol

While Bohol is largely known for its famous Chocolate hills, it is also home to beautiful caverns and caves. One of the most breathtaking cave pools in Anda, Bohol is the Cabagnow Cave Pool, locally known as “Kabagno,” which is a spot fit for swimming enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. 

Photo credits to The Pinay Solo Backpacker

Cabagnow Cave Pool is home to crystal clear waters filtering from limestones that have been a cornerstone of the pond’s features for several years now. Due to the soft nature of the rock, aided by the consistent movement of water and other geologic processes, caves were formed in several parts of Bohol. 

Located at Sitio Fatima, Bacong Anda, Bohol, the Cabagnow Cave Pool is 20-25 feet deep, and if you like cliff diving, it has an estimated height of 15-18 feet that’s satisfying for adrenaline seekers. However, if you’re on the safe side, the caretakers have also installed an iron ladder which tourists can use to go down slowly into the pool or to ease themselves into the feeling of the cold water. Ring buoys are also available, especially for amateur swimmers or those who want to ensure their safety. 

  • Danjugan Island in Negros Occidental 

Danjugan Island is located three kilometers off the coast of Brgy. Bulata, Cauayan, and Negros Occidental are surrounded by a marine sanctuary. This 43-hectare island, 1.5 kilometers long and a half kilometer wide, is rich in natural wonders that remained protected and treasured by the locals. 

Photo credits to TripAdvisor

The  Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization, conserved this particular beauty. Aside from being starstruck by the wonderful view and magnificent waters, the Danjugan Island also helps educate tourists about environmentalism and conservation of Philippine precious jewels such as this. 

With its incredible features, Danjugan Island makes people feel soulfully present. It has five lagoons, a bamboo bridge, an amazing sunset view deck, all alongside several beaches. Several activities are perfect for individuals or big families, such as trekking, bird watching, kayaking, snorkeling, skin diving, and parasailing, among others. If you want to take a breather, you can also check out their nature walks and fabulous massage packages.

  • The “Pink Beach” or Sila Island in Northern Samar

Just by its name, the Pink Beach or the Sila Island is uniquely beautiful in itself. It is called pink beach due to its reddish sand, almost suiting the shade of pink. This underrated destination has been San Vicente’s best-kept secret, which has saved it from over-commercialization.

Photo credits to Getaway. PH

The pink sand comes from the natural color of the coral and shell fragments. Through the years, these tiny materials have mixed with the beach’s original white sand. When the sun is bright during midday, it also turns to a shade of saturated red. In this lush paradise, tourists can swim, snorkel, and even go scuba diving. Moreover, camping out is also a popular activity here, as long as the claygo rule is followed. 

  • Casa Mendoza Garden Resort in Pansol, Laguna

For those looking for a resort with accommodation, all in one– Casa Mendoza has it all! Located in Pansol, Laguna, Casa Mendoza aims to give people the relaxation and the high-quality service they deserve. 

Photo credits to Agoda

Casa Mendoza unveils its main feature, the Hot Spring kiddie, and adult pools, which are perfect for families and big groups looking for a soothing bath to calm their nerves. It also has other amenities suitable for family outings. It has an entertainment area that contains a videoke and a television with cable; a sports area which has a dartboard, chess boards, and a badminton set. For kids, it has a garden play area that can keep them safe and excited. 

Moreover, Casa Mendoza has a variety of air-conditioned rooms that are suitable for up to 16 persons, and even a conference hall for company events. When convenience and pleasure collide, Casa Mendoza is truly the place to be!

This summer, make sure that you’re refreshed and rested by booking your next getaway in these exhilarating summer destinations. Have a well-deserved fun vacation!

Contributed by Princess Friel Lontoc

#summerdestinations #Philippines #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Best destinations for your next overseas trip

Since countries have opened their borders and entertained visitors, people have been traveling and living their lives in the realm of adventure and wanderlust. Traveling can indeed heal and eventually lead us to places we didn’t know existed.  But now that restrictions are relatively relaxed, where do we go? You might want to consider adding these places to your bucket list! 

  • Dubai, Arab Emirates

Dubai is known worldwide for its exhilarating tourist spots. It stands proud of its Burg Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, reaching up to 2,716 feet tall. Dubai also takes great importance in its diverse culture, which is evident in its Dubai Museum.

Photo credits to Emirates

It is famously located at the Al-Fahidi Fort, which was built way back in 1787 to defend the Dubai Creek, which is also the home to gold, textile, and spice souks (marketplace). If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you may want to check out the hot air balloon over the desert dunes, or the IMG Worlds of Adventure speed rides. Dubai will take your breath away– both literally and figuratively!

  • London, United Kingdom 

Who wouldn’t want to explore the streets where Harry Potter came to life, and the roads where Sherlock Holmes walked on? London is definitely on the bucket list of pure-blooded literary fangirls.

Photo credits to Hotels.com

Aside from its regal royalty, London is famous for its London Eye, which is a giant Ferris wheel that offers a majestic view of the city–and it shines extra brightly at night. If you’re craving for the nightlife, Soho is the place to be, welcoming you with its bars and classy restaurants. Of course, the trip won’t be complete for film enthusiasts without visiting the British Film Institute. It shows different films every day, from recent blockbusters to cult classics. London will surely feed your pop culture knowledge!

  • Cancun, Mexico

Looking for a sunny, beach party vibe for your next trip? The ever-so-tropical Cancun is just the right place for you! Check out the fancy hotels located at their very own Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone), which also offers the wild nightlife and parties by the beach down at the Kulkukan Boulevard.

Photo credits to moonpalace.com

For the real Cancun food experience, drive down to the Avenida Tulum, which features their all-time favorite– authentic Mexican tacos! Diving and swimming is also something that Cancun offers through its numerous spots in the Ruta De Cenotes (Cenote Route), which are natural pools formed within limestone caves. It’s true– Cancun wakes the fun within you! 

  • Bali, Indonesia

Famous for the serenity and soul it brings to its tourists, Bali continues enticing people to rest in its lush spots. Also known as the ‘Island of the Gods,’ Bali provides people the rest they need with its seas and beaches.

It is also a haven for surfers, which the waves of Kuta Beach readily welcome. Bali is also famous for its intricate temples, such as the Ulun Danu Temple, which is dedicated to the goddess of the lakes. You may also seek enlightenment and relaxation in Yoga Barn’s famous retreats, each a more freeing session than the other. Or maybe you feel like flying– jetpacking in Tanjung Benoa must be on your list. Whether it’s for fun or relaxation, Bali has it all for you!

  • Crete, Greece

The birthplace of the Olympian Gods, Crete offers a tapestry of culture, lore, and adventure. One of the most historical places in Europe, the Heraklion Archeological Museum should be your first stop to acquaint yourself with the rich culture of Crete.

Traditional street restaurants and streets of Greece – Crete island. Photo credits to iStock

Explore history through the cobblestone streets of Rethymno Old Town, the best-preserved town on the island. You might also want to visit Lake Voulismeni, famous for being seemingly bottomless– reaching down as far as 64 meters. If you’re a mythology buff, the caves of Mt. Ida might just interest you, the birthplace of Zeus himself! Crete dabbles between the past and the future, so let it be your present destination!

Traveling can be such a hassle, but the majestic destination often makes up for all the trouble. Hurry now and book your next trip–have fun and safe skies, traveler!

By Princess Friel Lontoc

Featured photo: Bali, Indonesia courtesy of Hotels.com

#worldsbesttraveldestinations #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

The World’s Thinnest Foldable Phone HONOR Magic V2 is now official in PH

Global technology brand HONOR officially launched the world’s thinnest foldable phone HONOR Magic V2 for only Php 79,999 with exciting pre-order freebies HONOR Watch GS 3 and Harman Kardon Aura Studio 4 HIFI Speaker worth Php 28,000 in total! HONOR Magic V2 is now available for pre-order on HONOR Experience and Partner Stores or online via Shopee, Lazada, and TikTok Shop!

“The HONOR Magic V2 redefines the benchmark for foldable smartphones while prioritizing the essentials of a top-tier slate phone. The ultra-slim device is crafted to offer unparalleled functionality and a sleek, sophisticated design unrivaled in the market,” said HONOR Philippines Vice President Stephen Cheng.

HONOR Super-light Titanium Hinge: A Groundbreaking First in the Industry Materials

For the first time, HONOR has utilized titanium alloy in the hinge cover, an aerospace-grade material and a pioneering innovation in the hinge design of the foldable smartphone industry. Titanium possesses the ideal balance between weight and strength, being lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel. It is a material that embodies the trifecta of ultra-lightness, ultra-toughness, and ultra-corrosion resistance, making it the perfect alloy for a plethora of applications.

Advanced structure

The redesigned support structure of the hinge is significantly improved over its predecessor, with thickness reduced by an impressive 75% and the depth of fold marks on the inner screen reduced by 47%. Furthermore, unique to the HONOR Magic V2’s hinge, an advanced “brake caliper” damping structure comprised of seven set of cams – three set more than that of HONOR’s previous foldables – that provides a more stable and elegant experience with smooth opening and closing.

Manufacturing

The mortise and tenon integral molding technology allows successful integration of the hinge shaft cover and hinge body, which significantly reduces the internal space and overall thickness of the hinge. HONOR’s innovative approach and its dedication to introducing increasingly “slender” foldable smartphones presents a comprehensive solution to the long-standing issue of thickness in folding display screens.

New Architecture for More Space and Power

The traditional “three-layer stacked” screen driver architecture has long been a major obstacle for putting large batteries in thin and light folding screen mobile phones. By incorporating a groundbreaking “three-in-one” display driver component, HONOR took advantage of the additional internal space and fitted a 5000mAh Silicon-carbon Battery within the HONOR Magic V2.

HONOR Ultra-thin Bionic VC Cooling System

Smartphones, particularly those with powerful processors and advanced features, require effective cooling systems to prevent overheating, maintain optimal performance, and ensure long-term durability. The HONOR Ultra-thin Bionic VC Cooling System addresses these needs by employing a multi-layer approach, the cooling system incorporates advanced materials such as ultra-thin vapor chamber (VC), ultra-high thermal conductivity graphite, thermal conductivity gel, copper foil, and high thermal conductivity AL middle frame. Despite the constraints of ultra-thin device thickness, this innovative HONOR Ultra-thin Bionic VC cooling system maximizes every inch to deliver exceptional efficiency in cooling.

The Wraparound Antenna Extension Technology 2.0

HONOR has succeeded in developing an ultra-thin antenna, which features a three-millimeter-thin design, making it the thinnest in the foldable industry. Moreover, this sleek design boasts a remarkably 10% higher antenna area than HONOR Magic Vs, delivering the best overall antenna performance in the industry.

 Pre-order HONOR Magic V2 from February 21 to March 1, 2024, for Php 79,999 to get a FREE HONOR Watch GS 3 and Harman Kardon Aura Studio 4 HIFI Speaker worth Php 28,000 in total! Head on now to your nearest HONOR Experience and Partner Stores or shop online via Shopee (https://bit.ly/Shop_V2_PR), Lazada (https://bit.ly/Laz_V2_PR), and TikTok Shop (https://bit.ly/TikTok_V2_PR)!

The HONOR Magic V2 can also be purchased through Home Credit, offering 0% interest for as little as Php 1,719 per month for up to 18 months.

For more exciting announcements, head on to HONOR Philippines’ social media platforms: Facebook (Facebook.com/HonorPhilippines), Instagram (Instagram.com/honorph/), and TikTok Shop: (Tiktok.com/@honorphilippines). To check out HONOR’s complete list of retail stores, go to https://www.hihonor.com/ph/retailers/.

#HONORMagicV2 #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Life ‘n Arts Festival: A celebration of a bountiful harvest of culture, diversity and creativity

What happens when you transform an Art Fair into a Fiesta? It metamorphoses into something more profound we call an Art Festival. A celebration of a bountiful harvest of culture, diversity, and creativity encompassing the traditional and contemporary forms of dance, music, theater, literature, visual arts, and other mediums of creativity. With this context, over 90,000 individuals had the enriching experience of immersing themselves in the arts at the heart of Laguna this February, widely recognized as Art Month nationwide.

Bursting with vibrant music, dazzling dance performances, and captivating art exhibits, the Life ‘n Arts Festival pulsated with a spirit of joyful community. This lively celebration, now in its second year (previously known as the Laguna Art Festival), truly lived up to its name, offering a kaleidoscope of experiences that breathed life into art and brought people together. The idea for this festival was inspired by Lerma Julian, who is also marking the 21st founding anniversary of her gallery, Life n’ Arts.

This three-day celebration was the ultimate dream for every art enthusiast and especially art collectors, as 28 exhibitors and over 300 artists showcased their latest collections. Among the participating galleries were: Life ‘n Arts Gallery, Omvi Gallery, Daloy Likha Art Gallery, Kambal Gallery Hong Kong, Nami Art Gallery, M Gallery, Quadro Art Gallery, Unified Artist Society, FAVA INC. Gallery, Nañola Gallery and Art Natin Gallery. While the works of master artists like Raul Isidro, Al Perez, Juno Galang, Augusto Santiago, Fidel Sarmiento, Jun Rocha, Ram Mallari, Otep Bañez, Dante Enage, Ronald Castrillo, Cameron Castrillo, Emmanuel Nim, and many more were celebrated and became bountiful delight for the eyes and the heart.

To enrich the event further, art workshops and demonstrations were led by master artists such as Fidel Sarmiento, Jun Rocha, Augusto Santiago, and others. Acknowledging that in the arts, skill alone is not enough, art academicians were also invited to deliver a series of art talks and lectures that stimulated participants’ minds and inspired creative processes. These activities provided participants with the opportunity to engage in two learning dimensions: psychomotor skills and a cognitive understanding of art.

The Festival kicked off last February 2, 2024, with the Bear Pouring Workshop, which was led by the Life ‘n Arts teachers. Other highlights included the oil pastel demonstration by AAP Maestro Fidel Sarmiento, the bonsai art demo by Richard Tuppil, and performances by MMCL Shape, Caritas Don Bosco, and Leah Cortina. This year’s newest addition to the program, the Cosplay Parade, and Competition, was also a highlight of the day, leaving the community joyfully celebrating art through cosplay.

Clay sculpting demo by Lito Mondejar.

On its second day, February 3, 2024, the Festival started with a crochet workshop led by Teacher Marie Tecson, and a clay sculpting demonstration by Manilito Mondejar. In the afternoon, a polymer workshop was conducted by Playground PH followed by an On-the-Spot portrait of Jun Rocha with Marriannelle Baccay as the live-portrait model. To lighten the day, the Miriam College Music Club serenaded everyone around. The day ended with a Fashion Talk led by the Fashion Institute of the Philippines, followed by a magnificent fashion show featuring the exquisite works of their incredibly talented designers.

On the final day, February 4, 2024, the festival concluded with a pottery workshop led by Evan Venegas of Ay! Putik Studio. This was followed by an art talk featuring visual artists Jarvie Madronero, Abbey Romina, Yana Ofrasio, and Rommel Rico. Maestro Augusto Santiago also showcased his unparalleled skills with on-the-spot portraits having Maria Thea Judinelle Casuncad as the live portrait model. In the afternoon, the celebration peaked with the Battle of the Canvas 2 On-the-Spot Painting Competition, featuring over 40 participants divided into two categories: artist and student levels. Meanwhile, ACTS Manila dazzled the crowd with impressive ballet performances. The program continued with Mommy Lala’s engaging arts and crafts activity, culminating in closing performances by DLSU-IS SHS, bringing the festival to a memorable end.

Battle of the Canvas 2 Winner – Shanra Kate Gilongos.

The event’s undeniable success was a testament to the strong sense of girl power leadership led by Ms. Lerma Julian and Leah Cortina. Their dynamic leadership was complemented by the combined efforts of Alaire Ann Lazaro and Michaella Cullo from the marketing department, contributing to the event’s seamless execution and remarkable achievements.

A heartfelt thank you is also extended to the generous sponsors: Liquitex, Winsor and Newton, Abstrak Canvas, East Asia, Pebeo, Franchise Manila, I Heart Art, Pizza Hut, Union Bank, and Ash Tech. Additionally, esteemed partners such as Ayala Malls Solenad, National Commission for Culture and Arts, Art Association of the Philippines, City of Sta. Rosa Laguna, Sangguniang Kabataan ng Brgy. Sto. Domingo Sta. Rosa Laguna, Elood Aesthetic Bar, Fashion Institute of the Philippines – Sta. Rosa, Mapúa Malayan Colleges Laguna, Miriam College Nuvali, De La Salle University Integrated School, DLSU College of Business Administration and Accountancy Student Government, St. Scholastica’s College Westgrove, Xavier School Nuvali, ACTS Manila, and The Philippine Star as a media partner, played a pivotal role in making the event more impactful.

A heartfelt thank you is also extended to the generous sponsors: Liquitex, Winsor and Newton, Abstrak Canvas, East Asia, Pebeo, Franchise Manila, I Heart Art, Pizza Hut, Union Bank, and Ash Tech. Additionally, esteemed partners such as Ayala Malls Solenad, National Commission for Culture and Arts, Art Association of the Philippines, City of Sta. Rosa Laguna, Sangguniang Kabataan ng Brgy. Sto. Domingo Sta. Rosa Laguna, Elood Aesthetic Bar, Fashion Institute of the Philippines – Sta. Rosa, Mapúa Malayan Colleges Laguna, Mir

#LifenArtsFestival #ArtMonth #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

Spain Tourism Board Appoints Marta Fernandez Martin as Spain Tourism Counsellor

Marta Fernandez Martin was appointed Spain Tourism Counsellor for South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand last September 2023. She was originally from Zaragoza, Spain. Having graduated from the University of Zaragoza with a Degree in Legal Studies, she completed her international training in Brussels, where she worked for an NGO dedicated to the protection of Human Rights.

In 2008, she joined the Spanish Administration as a career civil servant, where she has held various positions of responsibility in the Ministries of Economy, Finance and Tourism. In particular, she has been senior advisor to the Secretary of State for Public Administrations and for the Undersecretary of Economy, as well as Head of Cabinet of the Undersecretary of Industry, Trade and Tourism and Director of Cabinet of the Secretary of State for Tourism.

The new Tourism Counsellor is very much aware of the importance of ensuring economic, social, and environmental sustainability in the tourism sector. For this reason, during her years in this position, she is committed to the firm objective of promoting responsible tourism that guarantees the sustainability of destinations and the well-being of the local population, promoting knowledge of inland Spain. In particular, Marta wants to reinforce the historical ties, the knowledge of Spain’s rich gastronomy, its cultural heritage, and the incredible natural and scenic resources that Spain offers to outbound travelers from the Philippines.

Similarly, the Spanish Counsellor of Tourism is in favor of promoting active and accessible tourism for all, taking advantage of Spain’s favorable weather conditions that allow the practice of various sports every day of the year.

Here are interesting facts about Spain:

International tourist arrivals to Spain in 2023 exceeded forecasts 

Tourist arrivals and spending at the destination are at record highs, an extraordinary starting point to continue working and improving the quality of its tourism industry in 2024. By the end of 2023, Spain registered a total of 85 million visitors; surpassing the pre -pandemic benchmark in 2019.

The 8th Centenary of Toledo  Cathedral

 This year, the Toledo Cathedral begins the commemorations of its 800th anniversary, which will last until 2026. One of the activities that is worth mentioning is the ”Lúmina Catedral de Toledo“ nighttime cultural visit that combines art, light, and sound. For more information, visit: https://www.catedralprimada.es/en/noticia/lumina-catedral-de-toledo

Spain on top of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023

According to the Restaurant Magazine, one of the world’s most influential cuisine & beverage magazines, Spain continues to stand as a global gastronomic beacon, with three of its restaurants securing top positions in the 2023 ranking. Leading the charge is Spain’s Disfrutar, second spot on the list; Diverxo and Asador Etxebarri, ranking third and fourth, respectively. The culinary landscape of Spain boasts further gems such as Quique DacostaElkano, and Mugaritz, contributing to the nation’s dazzling culinary scene. For more information, visit: http://www.theworlds50best.com/

Oviedo: 2024 Spanish Gastronomic Capital

 This year, the north of Spain becomes a gastronomic hub, specifically the region of Asturias and its capital, Oviedo. Visitors have one whole year to discover why this city is so popular amongst Spaniards with dishes that include fabada, cachopo, its 100 varieties of cheese, its fish and shellfish from the Cantabrian Sea, or its famous cider, to name just of few of its delicacies.

UNESCO World Heritage Monument’s Anniversaries

 Five of the most unique World Heritage Monuments in Spain are approaching their 40th anniversary, having been designated in 1984 by UNESCO. These include La Alhambra in Granada, Burgos Cathedral, Monastery and the Escorial in Madrid, The Historic Centre of Córdoba, and the Works of Antoni Gaudí.

For more information on Spain visit www.spain.info/en/ or for inspiration follow @spain on Instagram.

#Spain #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

RCBC Secures Double Victories in The Asset Triple A Digital Awards

Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), the Philippines’ fastest-growing and leading digital challenger bank, has once again proven its excellence on the global stage, clinching two prestigious awards from The Asset, a renowned international organization. RCBC was honored as the ‘Philippines’ Digital Bank of the Year’ and also received recognition for ‘Philippines’ Best ATM Project,’ reaffirming its commitment to hyper-scaling digital solutions rooted in financial inclusion.

RCBC’s success stems from its comprehensive digital banking ecosystem, epitomized by its flagship app, RCBC Pulz, the pioneering financial inclusion application RCBC Diskartech available in Taglish and Cebuano, and the expansive grassroots-oriented mobile-point-of-service network RCBC ATM Go, all integrated under the RCBC Moneybela program. These innovative solutions caught the attention of The Asset Triple A Awards judging panel for their demonstration of excellence and effectiveness.

The Asset Triple A Digital Awards employ a rigorous judging process led by global industry experts with decades of experience in evaluating top organizations. Judges utilize in-depth conversations and data analytics to select the best-in-class solutions in the industry, ensuring the highest standards of recognition.

In the past year, RCBC’s performance has remained robust, fueled by strategic investments in digital solutions. RCBC ATM Go witnessed a remarkable 46% increase in transaction volume and a 44% surge in transaction value, achieving a remarkable 100% nationwide coverage across all 82 provinces, including remote areas. RCBC Pulz experienced a notable 127% surge in transaction volume and a 34% increase in transaction value since its relaunch, while RCBC Diskartech saw a remarkable 115% increase in transaction volume and a 138% jump in customer deposit size.

RCBC achieved these impressive results through strategic collaborations with national and local government units to enhance financial and digital literacy among Filipinos. The bank also announced the availability of digital bank accounts with RCBC Pulz for Filipinos worldwide, further accelerating its industry-leading position.

Lito Villanueva, RCBC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Innovations and Inclusion Officer, expressed the bank’s dedication to innovation and customer-centricity, emphasizing the importance of maintaining its prestigious position in the industry.

“We are immensely grateful for The Asset’s stringent judging process, which underscores our commitment to excellence. These two awards are a testament to RCBC’s hard work and reflect Filipino excellence, creativity, and ambition,” said Villanueva.

“As the only Philippine bank recognized in these categories, we are honored and motivated to continue creating solutions that align with our vision and mission of being a customer-obsessed bank. We hope that this recognition inspires the Philippine fintech community to aggressively pursue financial inclusion for all Filipinos,” added Villanueva.

RCBC’s remarkable growth trajectory has positioned it as the fastest-growing bank in the country, ascending from eighth position in 2018 to fifth in 2022 among the Philippines’ largest privately-owned banks in terms of assets. The bank’s numerous global and local accolades include consecutive awards as the Philippines’ Best Bank for Digital by Asiamoney, the Eye on Innovation Award by Gartner, the YouTube Challenger Award for its innovative digital ad campaigns, and top rankings in customer service surveys conducted by reputable organizations such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Statista.

#RCBC #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

HONOR Philippines gathers over 500 jumpers to raise awareness for heart health

The “HONOR Your Heart: A Jump Rope Workout for the Philippine Heart Center by HONOR Philippines in partnership with Jump Manila” was a huge success after over 500 participants joined the donation and awareness drive on heart health with the total proceeds going to the beneficiaries of the Philippine Heart Center.

“This partnership has been truly meaningful for all of us in HONOR. What better way to shed light on heart health than during love month, right? We celebrate love every February, yet we know very little of our heart health. With the success of HONOR X9b 5G, a platform has opened for us to raise awareness on this important matter,” said HONOR Philippines Vice President Stephen Cheng.

“As long as we have a platform and as long as there are brands like HONOR Philippines that are willing to support this great cause, we will always aim to raise awareness on heart health,” said Jump Manila Founder Erwin Ng.

Held during the Car-Free Sunday Mornings at Ayala Avenue last February 11, over 500 jumpers flocked together in hopes of raising funds and awareness for the Philippine Heart Center. The jump rope workout, led by Jump Manila, was enjoyed by the participants. Food and refreshments were also sponsored by Fitbar, Gardenia, and Sip.

HONOR X9b 5G was put on a test yet again as the participants tried its viral smash and drop tests. First seen to destroy a hallow block and watermelons, the HONOR X9b 5G was seen to be smashing a hard-shelled coconut.

Priced at Php 16,999, the HONOR X9b 5G is readily available on Lazada (https://bit.ly/Laz_X9b_PressRelease), Shopee (https://bit.ly/Shop_X9b_PressRelease), TikTok Shop (https://bit.ly/Shop_X9b_PressRelease) and HONOR Experience or Partner stores.

To know more about the complete features of HONOR X9b 5G, you may visit: https://bit.ly/HONORPH_X9b_Pressrelease and head on to HONOR Philippines’ social media platforms for exciting announcements: Facebook (Facebook.com/HonorPhilippines), Instagram (Instagram.com/honorph/) and TikTok Shop: (Tiktok.com/@honorphilippines). To check out HONOR’s complete list of retail stores, go to https://www.hihonor.com/ph/retailers/.

#HONOR #PHC #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

Pop Superstar Dua Lipa releases her new single ‘Training Season’

Dua Lipa fans rejoice! After teasing the new single on social media, and giving a powerful performance of it at the Grammys, the pop superstar has finally released “Training Season” – complete with a dance-inducing music video!

WATCH THE OFFICIAL VIDEO HERE

 A new era for Dua

Earlier this month, Dua kicked off the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards with an electric medley performance of “Training Season,” “Dance The Night,” and “Houdini.” She’s also set to perform at the BRIT Awards on March 2nd, where she’s nominated for three awards – Artist of the Year, Best Pop Act, and Song of the Year for “Dance The Night.”

“Training Season”  is all about embracing her singlehood and dating life without feeling any pressure of finding the “right” one.  Dua shared, “I had been on a string of bad dates, and the last one was the final straw. The next morning, I arrived at the studio to Caroline [Ailin] and Tobias [Jesso Jr.] asking me how it went, and I immediately declared ‘Training season is over.’ And like the best ‘day after’ debriefs with your mates, we had a lot of laughs and it all quickly came together from there.”

With lyrics such as “Are you somebody who can go there? ‘Cause I don’t wanna have to show ya. If that ain’t you, then let me know, yeah. ‘Cause training season’s over,” Dua sends a message to her listeners about knowing her worth. This relatable message, together with an electrifying dance beat, guarantees another can’t-be-missed track from the singer.

“While it is obviously about that feeling when you are just absolutely done telling people – men specifically in this case – how to date you right, it is also about my training season being over, and me growing with every experience. I have never felt more confident, clear, or empowered,” Dua added.

The official “Training Season” video, which captures Dua’s sentiments perfectly opens with her voicemail being flooded with apologetic messages and second chance requests. As the song continues, Dua sits alone while she’s surrounded by men vying for her attention, and the room begins to spin into chaos. It’s the perfect balance of fun, bold, and edgy.

A highly anticipated release

Filipino fans have eagerly awaited the release of “Training Season,” which comes as no surprise since the country has Dua’s largest fanbase in Asia-Pacific. In fact, the Philippines boasts of aggressive streaming and fanbase growth for Dua compared to the rest of Asia. Through the years since her initial rise in 2017, the pop star’s streaming volume in the country has far outpaced her streaming volume across Asia – even compared to Indonesia, which has nearly double the Philippines’ Spotify users.

Dua’s legacy in the Philippines is undeniable, and was established primarily due to her success with songs such as “New Rules,” “Don’t Start Now,” “Levitating,” “Dance The Night,” and “Houdini.”

 Back-to-back hits

Dua’s certified platinum sophomore album Future Nostalgia solidified her position as both a critical success and top radio performer. The Grammy-nominated record was the longest running top 10 album by a female artist on the Billboard 200 in 2021, and spawned multiple worldwide hit singles, with “Levitating” earning certified diamond status and the title of Billboard’s No. 1 Hot 100 Song of 2021.

Last November, Dua returned with the euphoric club-ready track “Houdini,” which went straight to No. 1 on the UK Airplay charts and drew in over 12 million YouTube views within 24 hours, and garnered immediate praise across the board – from Rolling Stone and Billboard, who said the track is “an immediate blast,” to Pitchfork and Vogue, who called it “a pop masterclass.”

“Houdini” followed Dua’s hit song “Dance The Night” from the box office sensation Barbie, which landed on the Oscars shortlist and earned nominations at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and the Grammy’s. With “Training Season” joining the roster, Dua continues to prove that her journey as a global pop superstar is far from over.

Stream ‘Training Season’ now!

 #DuaLipa #TrainingSeason #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

7s Super League, AIA Revolutionize Football in the PH

The much-anticipated inaugural 7s Super League is set to kick off on March 10 at the McKinley Hill Stadium, ushering a new era of football excitement in the Philippines. Organized by 7×7 Football Philippines, this revolutionary league promises to redefine football in the country with its unique seven-a-side format.

Embracing innovation and thrilling gameplay, the 7s Super League introduces a fast-paced and dynamic style of football. With a compact field and smaller teams, matches are expected to be high-scoring and action-packed, delivering an exhilarating experience for fans.

Elite teams comprising top-tier football talent from various cities across Metro Manila will compete in the league’s debut season. Among the seven participating teams are the Alabang South Supers, BGC Soldiers, Pampanga Strikers, Paranaque Super Nets, Quezon City Heroes, Siniloan GOM Blues, and Pasig City Pirates.

With a blend of local and international players, the 7s Super League adds a global dimension to the competition, offering fans exciting matchups and diverse playing styles that contribute to the rich tapestry of football in the Philippines.

(From left): Brian Poe Llamanzares, Pantheon Holdings President, Anton Del Rosario, 7×7 Philippines Founder & CEO, Melissa Henson, AIA Philippines Chief Marketing Officer, Ethan Lee, 7×7 Philippines Executive Director, Javier Lopez-Sans, La Liga representative, and Andre Tani, Arsenal Content Marketing President .

 

Anton del Rosario, CEO and Founder of 7×7 Football Philippines, expressed his enthusiasm for the league’s launch, emphasizing its potential to revolutionize football in the country. “This will be a game-changer for football in the Philippines,” said del Rosario. “The unique format, combined with the caliber of players involved, promises to deliver an unforgettable football experience.”

He also highlighted the league’s commitment to its “7×7 Goals of J.O.Y,” focusing on creating Jobs, providing Opportunities, and nurturing the Youth through football.

During the media conference, del Rosario shared that the league will serve as an outlet for players to be professionals in the field.

AIA Philippines, a longstanding sponsor of the 7s Football League, is thrilled to extend its support to the new 7s Super League. The league’s founder, Anton, shares AIA’s vision of providing a career path to young football players, aligning perfectly with AIA’s mission of helping Filipinos live healthier, longer, and better lives.

As a consistent sponsor of 7s Football events since 2018, AIA’s partnership with the 7s Super League underscores its dedication to supporting football programs nationwide and internationally. Through this collaboration, AIA aims to provide a platform for all players, offering them a continuous pathway to success in the world of football.

“AIA Philippines understands the needs of its customers and provides holistic solutions that include life protection, health insurance, savings, education, retirement, and investment,” said del Rosario. “Thanks to AIA, we are able to give players the opportunity to showcase their talent on a bigger stage with the 7s Super League.”

Prepare for a football spectacle like never before as the 7s Super League takes center stage. Stay tuned for a season filled with intense matches, incredible goals, and unparalleled football excitement.

About the 7s Super League

The 7s Super League is the premier football competition in the Philippines, introducing a dynamic seven-a-side format to elevate the sport to new heights. Organized by 7×7 Football Philippines, the league aims to provide a platform for top-tier football talent, create an engaging fan experience, and contribute to the growth and development of football in the country. Follow the 7s Super Football League on Instagram @7ssuperleague.ph or @7sfootballleague.ph for the latest updates and exclusive content.

 #7sSuperLeague #7x7FootballPhilippines #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph

 

 

Okada Manila Elevates Adventure to New Heights with the Launch of Thrillscape

Okada Manila, dubbed as Manila’s grand icon, continues to expand its diverse offerings with the launch of its latest attraction, Thrillscape. Designed as the ultimate destination for adventure seekers, Thrillscape offers an unparalleled experience with its 32 high-energy obstacles, promising a blend of excitement, a challenge of skills, and fun.

Aimed at providing unique and memorable experiences, Okada Manila’s Thrillscape aims to revolutionize the concept of leisure and fitness. With the tagline “Masters of Skill, Experts of Fun,” Thrillscape is more than an obstacle course; it is a dynamic interactive tag arena where individuals who are at least 4 feet in height can test their agility, push their limits, and challenge themselves to take on a new adventure.

Experience the Thrill: What to Expect at Thrillscape

“Thrillscape bridges the gap in entertainment offerings for young teens and adults, providing a lively, engaging space that encourages physical activity, teamwork, and sheer enjoyment,” said Vikki Aquino, Director of Spas, Recreation & Kids Club at Okada Manila.

The obstacle course is vast and varied, capable of accommodating up to 120 guests simultaneously. With over 30 engaging obstacles, participants can navigate through the different challenges, accumulate points, and experience an exhilarating activity. The obstacle course is designed to be an inclusive space, welcoming individuals of various fitness levels, including aspiring athletes, people looking for adventure, foster bonds, and those seeking a fun way to stay active. “Our athletic coaches are here to guide participants through each challenge, ensuring an exciting, safe, and rewarding adventure. This is not just for individuals but would also be a wonderful group activity among friends and colleagues, and even families,” Aquino added.

Thrillscape is located at the ground floor of Okada Manila’s Coral Wing, Crystal Corridor. The course is open on Mondays to Thursdays from 12 nn to 8 pm and Friday through Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm. Packages start at PhP 499 inclusive of a band tracker, 2 games, and use of lockers.

The Thrillscape experience does not end at the obstacles. After a challenging course, participants also have varied options to experience Okada Manila’s range of offerings, including extensive dining options.

 About Okada Manila

Okada Manila, Manila’s Grand Icon, is renowned for its world-class facilities and stellar service, combining the best of Japanese culture with the warmth of Filipino hospitality. Okada Manila is a Forbes 5-star rated property, which underscores its exceptional service.

Expansive and luxurious, Okada Manila has 993 well-appointed rooms, the country’s largest gaming floor featuring over 3,000 electronic gaming machines, an expansive Retail Boulevard and an array of restaurants offering a world of flavors. The resort further sets itself apart with an exclusive indoor beach club, and one of the world’s most spectacular multi-color dancing water fountains. All these facets converge to solidify Okada Manila’s status as one of the Philippines’ premier destinations.

#Thrillscape #OkadaManila #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph