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Author: Marlen Limpag

Coca-Cola sari-sari store program empowers micro-entrepreneurs

Investing in women leads to the betterment of the family and the community, and Coca-Cola aims to empower as many as it can with its Sari-Sari Store Training and Access…

Investing in women leads to the betterment of the family and the community, and Coca-Cola aims to empower as many as it can with its Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.

Under this campaign, women micro-entrepreneurs join a 12-week program where they are taught entrepreneurship skills, financial literacy, merchandising, and gender sensitivity among other things, said Atty. Adel A. Tamano, Coca-Cola vice president for public affairs and communications.

He added that studies conducted by Coca-Cola worldwide showed that if women handle the budget in the households, the money primarily goes to food and education.

“When you want to help communities, it makes sense to invest in women,” Tamano pointed out.

Coca-Cola Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources

HELPING COMMUNITIES. Atty. Adel A. Tamano, Coca-Cola vice president for public affairs and communications, says studies conducted by Coca-Cola worldwide showed that if women handle the budget in the households, the money primarily goes to food and education.

Multi-awarded program

Coca-Cola’s multi-awarded STAR program has trained more than 83,000 mostly women sari-sari storeowners in the Philippines over the course of five years, according to Tamano.

He said it makes sense for Coca-Cola to partner with women micro-entrepreneurs since over half of company earnings come from the sari-sari stores in the country that now number one million.

Since it was launched in 2011 as part of the 5by20 global initiative of The Coca-Cola Company to economically empower five million people within its value chain by 2020, the program has evolved and undergone improvements.

Tamano said Coca-Cola partners with local governments, micro-finance and other groups, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to reach as many women as possible. Other partners include Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Alay sa Kaunlaran, Inc., First Community Cooperative (FICCO), Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, Inc., ASA Philippines, and the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO).

STAR program recruitment

On Sunday, May 7, Coca-Cola gathered over 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Danao City, Cebu as part of a massive recruitment campaign to the STAR program. Tamano said a similar recruitment activity was first done in Davao City.

The training will happen every Saturday or Sunday of the week for 12 weeks. “We used to do the training all in one week but the dropout rate was high. We now do it in a way that works with their schedule. The sari-sari stores are also the women’s homes and they can’t be away for one week,” he said.

Women who join also receive additional benefits: they get connected to Coca-Cola’s bottling partners and learn to take advantage of promos and discounts and have access to microfinance programs.

The STAR program, which now has 390 accredited facilitators to teach and train women retailers, is being implemented in over 47 locations throughout the Philippines.

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Pueblo Mexicano serves good, authentic Mexican food

Enzo Nable knows good Mexican food and he’s sharing his particular love for the cuisine through the family-owned Pueblo Mexicano at Banilad Town Center (BTC) in Cebu City. “In 2010,…

Enzo Nable knows good Mexican food and he’s sharing his particular love for the cuisine through the family-owned Pueblo Mexicano at Banilad Town Center (BTC) in Cebu City.

“In 2010, there wasn’t a lot of Mexican food available here. And the ones that were available, the quality wasn’t so good. To fill my own need, I started a Burrito Bar and served tacos and burritos,” said Enzo, who grew up in California where there are a lot of good Mexican restaurants.

Pueblo Mexicano Banilad Town Center.

Pueblo Mexicano is located at the Banilad Town Center.

His parents, in their travels throughout Mexico, were also fascinated by the artistry and color of Mexican cuisine and culture, having visited the towns of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puebla, and even Oaxaca, where Mexico’s indigenous Maya heritage remains.

The family decided to expand Burrito Bar to the current full-service restaurant Pueblo Mexicano on May 5, 2013, added Enzo, who is the restaurant manager.

Pueblo Mexicano Tamales

TAMALES. Two steamed corn masa dumplings stuffed with lechon carnitas, cheese, and salsa rojo, wrapped in corn husk.

Pueblo Mexicano menu

Pueblo has an extensive menu that also carries Peruvian, Argentinean, and Spanish food in addition to Mexican cuisine, according to Enzo.

While many Filipinos equate Mexican cuisine with tacos and burritos, it is actually so much more. At Pueblo, diners discover that it is also elegant tamales (steamed corn masa dumplings stuffed with lechon carnitas, cheese, salsa rojo and wrapped in corn husk) or pan-fried canape-sized tortillas topped with chilorio pork and pico de gallo that goes by chalupas poblanas or the fish veracruzana.

To guests dining for the first time in Pueblo Mexicano, Enzo said his recommendation is for them to try the chilorio de puerco. This dish, which is Sinaloa-style lechon Carnitas with salsa rojo, refried beans, and Mexican rice, is a bestseller.

Pueblo Mexicano chilorio de puerco

MUST-TRY. The chilorio de puerco is a dish made of Sinaloa-style lechon Carnitas with salsa rojo, refried beans, and Mexican rice.

Signature nachos

Another must-try is the Pueblo’s nacho grande that is made up of the restaurant’s signature nachos, which Nable said they make themselves. Nacho Grande combines tortilla chips, lechon carnitas, cheese, refried beans, jalapeños, chopped onion, sour cream, pico de gallo, and chicharrones.

The restaurant served many of the dishes in the menu during a food-tasting event that the MyCebu.ph team attended.

Pueblo Mexicano nacho grande

NACHO GRANDE. The restaurant makes its own signature nachos. Nacho Grande combines tortilla chips, lechon carnitas, cheese, refried beans, jalapeños, chopped onion, sour cream, pico de gallo, and chicharrones.

Mariles Alvarez Nable, Enzo’s mom, shared an interesting info about the appetizer shishito al padron. The dish is a hot skillet of pan grilled shishito peppers with olive oil, and it is prepared in the style of Padrón, Spain. You only get one or two spicy peppers in a serving of around 10 or more peppers but you’ll never know which one until you eat them.

Pueblo Mexicano shishito al padron

SHISHITO AL PADRON. Pan grilled shishito peppers with olive oil. You only get one or two spicy peppers in a serving of around 10 but you’ll never know which one until you eat them.

Restaurant hours

Pueblo is open for lunch and dinner, and restaurant hours are extended up to 1 a.m. on weekends.

Enzo said they serve cocktails like frozen margaritas and mojitos for now, but will soon have a full bar.

The vivid blue and orange walls complemented by folkloric tapestries and table covers, brightly painted reclaimed wood furniture, intricately carved wooden cross, colorful animal sculptures, and crystal chandeliers give the restaurant interiors an eclectic look.

More photos

 

Pueblo Mexicano

AGUA FRESCA brewed tea.

 

Pueblo Mexicano Chalupas Poblanas

CHALUPAS POBLANAS. Canape-sized corn tortillas, pan-fried, topped with chilorio pork, pico de gallo.

 

Pueblo Mexicano fish vercruzana.

FISH VERCRUZANA. Pan-grilled tasik fish, tomato wedges, olives, capers, cilantro-lime rice.

 

Pueblo Mexicano gambas pasta.

Gambas pasta.

 

Pueblo Mexicano

MARGARITAS you should try.

 

Pueblo Mexicano

HOUSE SALAD. A delicious mix of chopped greens, jicama, sugar beets, corn kernels, tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese, cilantro ranch, and tortilla crisp.

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Primary Homes introduces Royal Palms Tres in Panglao, Bohol

Noting the high demand for quality homes in Bohol, premier property developer Primary Homes, Inc. (PHI) rolled out its newest housing development Royal Palms Tres in Dauis, Panglao last April…

Noting the high demand for quality homes in Bohol, premier property developer Primary Homes, Inc. (PHI) rolled out its newest housing development Royal Palms Tres in Dauis, Panglao last April 27.

Ramero Espina, PHI vice president for sales and marketing, said the response to Royal Palms Uno and Royal Palms Dos was very good, adding that housing units in both developments were already sold out.

Royal Palms Tres Bohol

UNVEILING IN BOHOL. Primary Homes officials led by President Stephen Charles Liu unveil the model units of Royal Palms Tres in Pangalo, Bohol. Primary Homes officials led by President Stephen Charles Liu unveil the model units of Royal Palms Tres in Pangalo, Bohol.

Located in Barangay San Isidro, PPI’s newest residential project is just 15 minutes away from the city center of Tagbilaran. Since it is right on the island of Panglao, it has easy access to world-class beaches, malls, churches, hospitals, and the new airport that is set to open soon.

Espina is confident Royal Palms Tres will do well in sales. For this project, PPI targets growing families, business start-up owners, and even investors.

Primary Homes Royal Palms Tres Bohol

ROYAL PALMS TRES. Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto (2nd from left) talks to Primary Homes President Stephen Charles Liu after checking out one of the model units in Royal Palms Tres in Panglao Island.

Mediterranean architecture

During the launch, PPI executives unveiled the available house models in the development.

These are Mediterranean-inspired homes with Spanish-style tiled canopies. Floor areas range from the 45-square meter Hidalgo Royale to the six-bedroom Hermoso Grande that spans 194 square meters. Potential buyers may already check out the model units at the Royal Palms Tres site.

Royal Palms Tres Bohol

PALACIOS GRANDE. A model unit in Royal Palms Tres in Panglao, Bohol.

The Royal Palms Tres received the Highly Commended Best Housing Development in the Philippines award from the Philippine Property Awards (PPA) in 2016.

At 5.3 hectares, the Royal Palms Tres combines the land area of Uno and Dos. It will be made up of around 200 units.

Resort-inspired amenities

The residential project will have resort-inspired amenities, including a clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness gym, and a mini-playground.

Primary Homes said in a statement that Royal Palms Tres is the epitome of world-class resort living at an affordable price. With the development’s perimeter fences and elegant entrance that is secured 24 hours daily, the security of homeowners is assured.

Primary Homes Bohol

BOHOL SALES OFFICE. (From left) Primary Group of Builders Chairman William Christopher Liu, Jr., Primary Homes Inc. (PHI) VP Sales and Marketing Ramero Espina, PHI President Stephen Charles Liu, Board Director and HRD President Paulette Liu, and Board Director Lillian Liu lead the opening of the PHI sales office on the 2nd floor of Island City Mall in Tagbilaran City.

It added that the development is, no doubt, one of the country’s ideal living destinations and best investment opportunities for real estate.

Espina said they also plan to launch Richwood Homes, still in Panglao, within this year. It is intended for Bohol workers and will be sold at affordable prices. The 4-hectare development will feature 300 to 400 homes.

 

Royal Palms Tres launching

 

Primary Homes contact details

Interested in a site visit? Call PHI at (032) 254-7188 or 266-0843. You may also visit its website at www.primaryhomes.com or follow PHI on Facebook at Primary Homes Inc.

PHI has also opened its new sales office at the second floor of Island City Mall in Tagbilaran City.

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Craving kare-kare or crispy pata? Max’s Restaurant now serves them in rice bowls

Filipino food favorites crispy pata and kare-kare now come in single-serve rice bowls at Max’s Restaurant and they are hard to resist. The crispy pata rice bowl is a scrumptious…

Filipino food favorites crispy pata and kare-kare now come in single-serve rice bowls at Max’s Restaurant and they are hard to resist.

The crispy pata rice bowl is a scrumptious combination of rice topped with golden brown slices of fried boneless crispy pata and banana slices. Light brown garlic bits and freshly chopped spring onions as garnish complete the dish.

Max's rice bowls

Max’s Restaurant crispy pata rice bowl

Bestsellers

Max’s kare-kare rice bowl highlights the popular local stew made of slices of beef forequarter or beef chuck and oxtripe with blanched native pechay and string beans and served with slightly thick ground peanut sauce and bagoong alamang.

Arianne Ross B. Pombo, Max’s Restaurant regional trade marketing for VisMin, said their bestsellers after chicken are crispy pata and kare-kare but they usually come in large group servings.

Max’s Restaurant rice bowl

Max’s Restaurant kare-kare rice bowl.

Max’s Chicken All You Can

The rice bowls allow solo or small groups of diners and millennials who are always on the go to easily satisfy their cravings, she added.

Today, May 5, and May 12, Max’s Restaurant is holding its Chicken-All-You-Can promo. On these two days, Max’s Restaurant branches in Ayala Center Cebu, SM City Cebu, and SM City Seaside can have their fill of Max’s chicken from 2 to 10 p.m. for only P249. The promo comes with one serving of drinks.

Time for dessert.

 

Max's Restaurant

MAX’S CLASSIC. The restaurant’s bestseller and iconic dish: whole spring chicken with kamote fries.

 

Max's Restaurant

RICE BOWLS LAUNCHING. Arianne Ross B. Pombo, Max’s Restaurant regional trade marketing for VisMin, with the managers of the restaurant’s different branches in Cebu during the press launch of the rice bowls.

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Fitflop marks 10 years of creating footwear for ‘superwomen’

Be it mother or daughter, wife or lover, entrepreneur or business executive, best friend or mentor, women play multiple roles on a daily basis and Fitflop promises to be there…

Be it mother or daughter, wife or lover, entrepreneur or business executive, best friend or mentor, women play multiple roles on a daily basis and Fitflop promises to be there for them every step of the way.

Fitflop, which recently celebrated 10 years of providing superwomen with great footwear, aims to give them the energy and confidence to go further and be absolutely prepared for whatever their busy lives may throw at them, said its global marketing director Louise Barnes during the Manila leg of a series of events known as #SuperWomenNights.

She added that as the brand marks the start of another decade, it comes out with a wide range of products that now includes a whole new category of footwear.

FitFlop Superwomen

WIDE RANGE. Fitflop global marketing director Louise Barnes (right) said that as the brand marks the start of another decade, it comes out with a wide range of products that now includes a whole new category of footwear – athletic catergory.

New Fitflop products

“We’re entering the athletic category in a big way and we’re doing that with lightweight sneakers and ballerinas. We’ve developed brand new products that will change the way you think of Fitflop,” Barnes said.

According to her, the new Fitflop products are super light, anatomically contoured to cover the feet and have front and back cushioning, and come in a host of beautiful bold and bright colors. This is made possible by Fitflop’s all-new trademark iQushion technology, which is a micro-bubble foam impact cushion.

Fitflop has sold over 35 million pairs of shoes and is now in 63 countries, added Barnes, citing that the whole idea of the brand was about empowering women.

“Our founder Marcia Kilgore, she’s really our original superwoman. She strongly believes in supporting women from the ground up with great footwear,” Barnes said.

Brand milestones

FitFlop regional brand manager Melody Tanjimenez said the brand celebrates several milestones in 2017: its 10th year anniversary, launch of the Spring-Summer Collection, a million Facebook followers just in Southeast Asia alone.

She added that the brand’s growth was an incredible milestone especially since it only had a small following in Multiply when it started in 2007.

“They believed in the brand and we were able to build the brand to what it is today through them,” Tanjimenez also said.

FitFlop Superwomen campaign

#ForSuperwomen. The company brought in the Southeast Asian winners of the #ForSuperwomen promo, a social media contest that asked Fitflop lovers to nominate the superwomen in their lives, to the regional launch of the #SuperwomenNights in Manila in March.

Southeast Asian markets

Tanjimenez said the Primer Group of Companies, which distributes the Fitflop brands in Southeast Asia, also has its own milestones.

The first Fitflop free standing store it opened back in 2010 at the SM Mall of Asia has grown to 30 stores across its Southeast Asian markets.

Primer Group distributes Fitflop footwear in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar, and the Philippines

Superwomen campaign

Fitflop is working with Uma Thurman, the brand’s first celebrity ambassador, for the spring-summer 2017 collection and the superwomen campaign.

Barnes said they picked Thurman because she is also an advocate of women empowerment and her values are aligned with that of the brand.

“She (Thurman) absolutely embodies strength, confidence, total control. She is also a multitasking mother of three and represents iconic characters on stage,” she further said.

Fitflop Supwerwomen campaign

NEW COLLECTION. The Fitflop spring-summer 2017 collection.

Contest winners

It also brought in the Southeast Asian winners of the #ForSuperwomen promo, a social media contest that asked Fitflop lovers to nominate the superwomen in their lives, to the regional launch of the #SuperwomenNights in Manila.

In a toast to the winners, Camille Karaan, vice president for Primer International Management Ltd., said that for superwomen, everything is possible.

“We have superwomen all around us. They are mothers, sisters, friends, and even strangers,” she added.

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Summer’s here! Suit up, gear up at GRIND

It’s summer and there’s just no resisting the siren call of sun and surf, so suit up in trendy beach fashion available at GRIND in Ayala Center Cebu. This season…

It’s summer and there’s just no resisting the siren call of sun and surf, so suit up in trendy beach fashion available at GRIND in Ayala Center Cebu.

This season of fine white sand and aquamarine sea, be your best Instagrammable self with these chic beachwear from Billabong and Roxy.

GRIND summer essentials

BEACH ESSENTIALS. Beach bag and bikini by Roxy, available at GRIND in Ayala Center Cebu.

Turn heads in Roxy’s string, off-shoulder, bandeau, or sling bikini. A bikini or two even come with matching beach bags.

Make waves with Billabong’s trendy beach shorts. Pair off with a pair of durable Adidas water shoes and you’re ready to wade in the shallows or swim in the deep.

GRIND also features other sportswear brands for the budding athlete or the active traveler this summer.

Summer finds at GRIND

 

GRIND summer

Billabong Bikini.

 

GRIND summer

Billabong beach shorts.

 

GRIND summer

 

GRIND summer

Adidas water shoes.

 

GRIND summer essentials

 

GRIND summer

Billabong sandals.

 

GRIND summer

 

GRIND summer in Cebu

 

GRIND summer in Cebu

 

GRIND summer in Cebu

 

GRIND summer Cebu

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AirAsia starts new flights, connects Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Boracay, Clark

Philippines AirAsia launched new flights from Cebu to the Philippine summer destinations of Palawan and Boracay, celebrating the new routes with a seat sale that’s available for booking until April…

Philippines AirAsia launched new flights from Cebu to the Philippine summer destinations of Palawan and Boracay, celebrating the new routes with a seat sale that’s available for booking until April 30, 2017.

Beginning yesterday, April 22, AirAsia also resumed and added flights from Cebu to Davao. From Cebu, the airlines now flies twice daily to Davao and daily to Palawan and Boracay via Caticlan.

The first trip from Cebu to Davao left at 4:45 in the morning yesterday, Saturday, followed by the 12:10 p.m. to Caticlan and the 6:45 p.m. to Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

AirAsia new flights Cebu

NEW FLIGHTS. Captain Gomer Monreal (3rd from left), Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, and Ravishankar Saravu, Chief Commercial Adviser of GMR Megawide Cebu, and AirAsia crew members lead the launch of new AirAsia flights from the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Cebu expansion

Captain Gomer Monreal, Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, said the company’s expansion will focus on Cebu in the next few years since the Manila airport is already congested.

He added that AirAsia already has a hub in Cebu and it was just a matter of opening new routes and increasing flights.

The first AirAsia flight from Davao for Cebu took off at 10:40 a.m., also on April 22, with Monreal as operating pilot. He was assisted by Captain Bernardino Perez and flight officer Leonardo Orendain.

AirAsia expansion Cebu

CEBU EXPANSION. Captain Gomer Monreal, Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, said the company’s expansion will focus on Cebu in the next few years since the Manila airport is already congested.

AirAsia seat sale

To celebrate the launch of its six new domestic flights, AirAsia offers promo fares from as low as P788, one way all-in, that’s up for grabs until April 30, 2017 at www.airasia.com. Travel time is between September 5, 2017 to February 8, 2018.

Philippines Airasia also opened daily flights from Davao to Boracay, thrice weekly flights to Palawan, and four weekly flights to Clark. The airline company also maintains daily flights between Manila and Davao.

AirAsia new flights Cebu

INAUGURAL FLIGHTS. The cake that was sliced to mark the new flights from Cebu.

The Davao-Clark route officially opened today, April 23, 2017.

AirAsia started operating thrice weekly Clark-Kalibo flights since March.

Facebook Live video of the event

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Mactan resorts, The Outlets shops hold sale in Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout

Visitors to the yearly Kadaugan sa Mactan have been getting their fill of delectable Mactan food so it’s now time to let them experience what this historic city is about…

Visitors to the yearly Kadaugan sa Mactan have been getting their fill of delectable Mactan food so it’s now time to let them experience what this historic city is about with The Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout from April 28-30, 2017 at The Outlets in Pueblo Verde.

On these 3 days, several Mactan resorts, a few souvenir and pasalubong stores, and shops at The Outlets will offer discounts and promos on accommodations, food and beverage, Lapu-Lapu products like guitars, and even branded retail items, said AboitizLand senior manager for commercial leasing and management Gembelyne B. Icamen.

“The Outlets are already on sale all year round but during this time shops will offer from 30 to 50 percent discount,” she said.

Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout

GREAT LAPU-LAPU BLOWOUT. (From left) Jobelle Arellano of Eloisa Royal Suites, Arianne Manzo of AboitizLand Marketing, Be Resorts Area Communications Manager Ronalaine Sato, Geofel Flores of AboitizLand Marketing, Lapu-Lapu City Tourism Officer Hembler Mendoza, AboitizLand senior manager for commercial leasing and management Gembelyne Icamen, Costabella marketing and communications manager Malu Arriola, and Myla Tabasa of World of Adventures Travel & Tours during the announcement of the Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout.

Top Mactan resorts

Top Mactan resorts like Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark, Be Resorts, Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel and travel agencies like World of Adventures are among the tourism establishments that will participate in The Great Travel Blowout, according to Icamen.

The event is organized by Aboitizland to support Lapu-Lapu City’s celebration of the Kadaugan sa Mactan or Victory in Mactan, which commemorates the historic battle between chieftain Lapu-Lapu and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.

She added that event exhibitors are still accepted but they should be Mactan-based companies.

Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout

YEAR-ROUND SALE. The Outlets are already on sale all year round but during this time shops will offer from 30 to 50 percent discount, said AboitizLand senior manager for commercial leasing and management Gembelyne B. Icamen.

Room, food packages

Malu A. Arriola, Costabella marketing and communications manager, said they will have promos on rooms and special discounts on food and beverages during the blow-out.

Be Resorts will also give special room rates and extend its summer specials like the Summer Salsa every Saturdays to end of May, according resort area communications manager Ronalaine F. Sato.

They’ll also come up with even more special packages for April 28-30, she added.

Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout

CULINARY DESTINATION. The Fork in the Road at The Outlets is a popular dining destination, especially at night.

Tour deals

At least 10 establishments, majority of which are resorts, have agreed to participate in The Great Lapu-Lapu Blowout.

World of Adventures will offer travel packages to such Philippine destinations as Boracay, Coron, and Puerto Princesa. From April 28-30, its two-night tour deals to Coron, at only P6,950, and Boracay, at P5,950, will even include roundtrip airfare.

The Outlets at Pueblo Verde will offer huge discounts on well-known brands. To know more about its offers, visit The Outlets at MEZ II, Basak, Lapu-Lapu City or check it out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheOutletsAtPV.

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Earth Day Cebu to feature bazaars, food booths, organic produce

Local arts and crafts, bazaars, an e-bike parade, organic farmers’ market, food booths, and live music will mark the holding of the Earth Day celebration in Cebu from April 21-22,…

Local arts and crafts, bazaars, an e-bike parade, organic farmers’ market, food booths, and live music will mark the holding of the Earth Day celebration in Cebu from April 21-22, 2017 at the University of the Philippines Cebu Campus.

This will be the third year that Earth Day is celebrated in Cebu, and it carries the theme “Pag-amuma sa Inahang Kalikopan,” said Japamala Arnaldo of Art Cebu.

Art Cebu is one of the organizers of Earth Day Cebu, which advocates for a healthy lifestyle and greener environment. The goal of the event is to build a community that has a high awareness of climate change and other environmental threats to the planet.

Arnaldo calls on Cebuanos to join the celebration and enjoy the activities they’ve lined up for the two days.

Earth Day Cebu 2017

EARTH DAY CEBU. (From left) Roza Javier and Anne Dala of Cebu Food Revolution, Japamala Arnaldo of Art Cebu, and Ma. Rowena Clara Ebdani of Cebu Farmers Market lead the Earth day celebration in Cebu.​

Earth Day highlights

A panel discussion by various climate speakers, including Prof. Henry Espiritu of PCAP, Jakki Lucero of Climate Reality Project, Dada Dharmavedananda of PROUT and Ecology, JCI Cebu Sinulo, and Francis Sollano of Youth for Livable Cebu at UP Cebu’s AS Conference Hall, will happen on the first day, April 21. It will run from 1:30-4:00 p.m. and end with a fellowship meal in the form of a vegetarian boodle fight.

One of the highlights of Earth Day will be the Cebu Farmers Market (CFM) on the second day, April 22.

On that day, according to Ma. Rowena Clara Ebdani of CFM, Cebu’s organic farmers will sell naturally grown local produce at the UP Cebu Campus grounds.

CFM already holds a regular market for farmer members every Wednesday at Streetscape in Paseo Saturnino, Maria Luisa Park and Saturday at Axis Entertainment along Escario St., but they will be at UP Cebu during the week of the Earth Day celebration.

Healthy lifestyle

The second day of the festival will also feature a bazaar for selling or bartering pre-loved items, family cookout fair, picnic and play area, education booths, and vegetarian food stalls, said Anne Dala of the Cebu Food Revolution.

She added that Earth Day Cebu organizers “want to reach out to others so that together we can do something to protect our planet.”

Roza Javier, also of the Cebu Food Revolution, said they want to encourage a healthy lifestyle among families by stressing the importance of home cooking and sharing what they know about preparing tasty vegetarian dishes.

CFM and Cebu Food Revolution are co-organizers of the celebration.

Earth Day festivities will happen from 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. on the second day, and guests will only need to pay an entrance fee of P20. Earth Day Cebu is part of a global series of events in celebration of Earth Day 2017.

Event partners

Other Earth Day partners include:

  • University of the Philippines Gender and Development Studies
  • JCI Cebu Sinulog
  • PCAP
  • YogaSugbo
  • Cebu Local Government
  • International Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Handuraw Pizza
  • Persian Palate
  • Uniao Capoiera
  • Healthy Yu
  • Planet Veggies
  • Winnia Products International
  • Ananda Marga Natural Living
  • Ananda Marga Yoga Studio
  • The Detox Bar
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Kadaugan Food Festival features delectable fare by Mactan resorts, restaurants

Lechon kawali by Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark, pork satay set by Bluewater Maribago, chicken shawarma by Movenpick Hotels and Resorts, and a variety of dishes off the menu of…

Lechon kawali by Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark, pork satay set by Bluewater Maribago, chicken shawarma by Movenpick Hotels and Resorts, and a variety of dishes off the menu of top resorts and restaurants in Mactan are served nightly throughout the Kadaugan Food Festival at the Liberty Shrine.

The food fest, which will run up to April 26, is part of a schedule of activities to commemorate the victory of native chieftain Lapu-Lapu against Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in Kadaugan sa Mactan.

Kadaugan Sa Mactan

MANOK BISAYA. Lapu-Lapu City Tourism Officer Hembler Mendoza checks out the roasted Manok Bisaya in one of the stalls at the Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival, which runs until April 26. (MyCebu.ph photo)

Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, Be Resort, Crimson Resort and Spa, Pacific Cebu Resort, Alta Resorts, Waterfront Mactan, Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, and Solea Mactan Cebu Resort are among the hotels and resorts selling delectable cuisine at low prices.

The variety of fare available even includes pizza by Hola España, ebi tempura, sushi, and sashimi by Nonki, roast pig by Gatchalian, grilled tuna by Hotel Eloisa, barbecue choices, and roasted manok bisaya (native chicken). There are also booths that provide drinks, from sodas to fruit shakes and coolers.

Local bands and performers provide entertainment to diners.

Parking is available near the Liberty Shrine area and on either side of the road close to the venue. Enterprising residents have also turned their empty lots into parking areas for a minimal fee of P20 so there’s ample space for those who want to drive to the venue.

More photos of the Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

 

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

 

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

 

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

 

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

 

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

 

Kadaugan Sa Mactan Food Festival

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Safari to open in Carmen, Cebu this year

Wild animals like giraffes, lions, and tigers, an extensive number of birds, the latest rides, and even snow will be among the attractions of the 100-hectare park that will include…

Wild animals like giraffes, lions, and tigers, an extensive number of birds, the latest rides, and even snow will be among the attractions of the 100-hectare park that will include a safari in the highlands of Carmen, Cebu.

Michel J. Lhuillier, owner of the M. Lhuillier chain of pawnshops and ML Kwarta Padala remittance centers, said he wants everything completed before the park is opened to the public.

He plans to open by October or November 2017.

So glad to have seen these zebras…aren’t they beautiful? #haciendalhuiller #carmen#cebuph

A post shared by Arlene Damiles Buot (@dgorgeousp) on

Wow effect

“It is not yet ready. I want people to go there and say ‘Wow!’ It must always have that wow effect,” he added, correcting posts that came out on social media saying the safari had started operating last April.

Among the plans for the park will be an ice machine to let Cebuanos experience snow, Lhuillier said.

Carmen in Cebu is an hour away from Cebu City and Lhuillier said it would only take 15 minutes to go up to the area from the town center.

Safari animals

Lhuillier is flying in about 70 percent of the animals that will make up the zoo from Texas, the south of France, and Dubai, and they are set to arrive either on the 21st or 22nd of this month. It will feature some 60 kinds of animal species and an extensive aviary.

The safari is inspired by the Singapore Zoo and Lhuillier had people come in from the city state to help with the design and training of the crew that will man it.

“Even the people from Singapore say our safari is better than (the one in) Singapore,” he also said.

The entrance rate to the park will be P550 but this does not include the rides, which are the latest available and include the plunge, roller coaster, and a zip line.

Animal shows

The birds, which include vultures, flamingos, and several species, are being trained so they will take part in the animal shows that will be a regular feature at the park.

“When the training started, we had to use ropes but (they) don’t need that now. The birds can follow instructions like getting a bill of money from your hands and you have to feed them in return,” he said in an interview after the recent launch of the partnership between the Lhuillier group and what used to be the Calayan Medical Group Skincare and Aesthetic Center in Cebu.

He added that his property in Carmen, which he is turning into a theme park, has the same elevation as Tops in Cebu City and appears quite a different world with his horses, picket fences, and all those trees. Other park attractions include the Lhuillier gardens and orchid collection that go back 35 years.

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Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen serves fusion of traditional, creative Pinoy food flavors

Lunch at the newly-opened Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen in Cebu started with an appetizing salad combination of pomelo and singkamas tossed in calamansi dressing followed by a savoury combination of…

Lunch at the newly-opened Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen in Cebu started with an appetizing salad combination of pomelo and singkamas tossed in calamansi dressing followed by a savoury combination of chicharon and salted egg accompanied by just a hint of spice.

Then we were treated to several other dishes that offer creative takes on traditional Filipino dishes, from the vegetarian humba and tahong in coconut milk to the pinaugang balbacua and zarzuela de mariscos.

To continue the tradition of good food at reasonable prices and cater to a market segment that’s after novel and exciting experiences, the Cebu Golden Restaurant, Inc. opened a second branch of its fourth and newest dining concept.

Golden Cowrie Ayala Center Cebu

NEW TAKE ON TRADITIONAL CUISINE. The Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen reinterprets the classic to come up with new dishes.

Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen menu

The Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen reinterprets the classic to come up with such new dishes as the Miki Negra made with squid ink sauce, deconstructed bone marrow served with soup, crostini, and onion jam called Pocherong Katag, and vegetarian depiction of such loved food as sisig and dinuguan. Among the seafood specials is Zarzuela de Mariscos, a dish of crabs, squid, and shellfish is cooked in light tomato sauce, olive oil, tomatoes, and coco wine.

Other refreshing takes on traditional Filipino food include the pinaupong manok, tahong in coconut milk, manong’s real balls, and Salinas kwek-kwek.

Pinaupong manok.

Pinaupong manok.

Still, such Filipino staples as lechon belly, crispy pata, sinigang na hipon, and grilled tuna belly are also available in the Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen menu.

Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen, now open at the 4th level Garden Area of Ayala Center Cebu, is the premium concept in the Cebu Golden Restaurant, Inc. portfolio and it is a fusion of the traditional and creative new flavors of the different brands.

Cab-cab with smoked bangus pate.

Cab-cab with smoked bangus pate.

Good food, reasonable prices

Earl Kokseng, of the executive committee of Cebu Golden Restaurant and Golden Cowrie Franchising, Inc., said they have grown to 31 restaurants and intend to expand some more.

He added that they started out with Golden Cowrie about 35 years ago and evolved into four brands, adding Hukad sa Golden Cowrie, Salinas, and recently Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen.

“We’ve become an institution in Cebu, and our brand has won the heart of many Cebuanos and visitors. We want to continue the Golden Cowrie tradition of good food at reasonable prices and great service,” Kokseng said.

Pinaugang balbacua.

Pinaugang balbacua.

Cebu Golden Restaurant expansion

The first Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen branch was opened in Manila late last year. According to Kokseng, Cebu Golden Restaurant, Inc. had concentrated its expansion in the Visayas and Mindanao in the past few years and believed it was now time to bring the brand to the capital.

Kokseng said the goal is to add 10 more branches, most of which will be in Metro Manila, by end of 2017.

Creating another restaurant concept and adding to their four existing brands will always be an option for company, he added, citing that the end goal will be to evolve according to the needs of the market.

More photos of Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen opening in Ayala Center Cebu

 

Cutting the ribbon. The owners prepare to open the Ayala Center Cebu branch.

 

Sizzling chicharon and itlog maalat.

 

Vegetarian humba.

 

Tahong in coconut milk.

Tahong in coconut milk.

 

Golden Cowrie Filipino Kitchen Ayala Center Cebu

Zarzuela de Mariscos. Seafood cooked in light tomato sauce, olive oil, tomatoes and coco wine.

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Getting visa to Taiwan made simpler for Filipinos

Getting a visa to Taiwan used to be a tedious and expensive process for Philippine passport holders. What many don’t know, however, is that Taiwan has simplified its visa requirements…

Getting a visa to Taiwan used to be a tedious and expensive process for Philippine passport holders.

What many don’t know, however, is that Taiwan has simplified its visa requirements for Filipinos so we can easily enjoy the amazing mix of modernity, culture, and well-preserved nature that our closest neighbor in the north has to offer.

There are several ways by which Philippine passport holders may gain entry to Taiwan. It can be through a:

1) Visa-free certificate or travel authorization certificate

While getting a travel authorization certificate is the easiest way to go, Filipino travellers need to meet some criteria before they can be granted a visa exemption.

You will need to have any of the following documents issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States: 1) a valid resident or permanent resident card; 2) a valid entry visa (electronic visa included); or 3) a resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan.

Applicants who qualify for visa exemption can apply online here. https://niaspeedy.immigration.gov.tw/nia_southeast/

Filipinos who apply for a Republic of China (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate must also meet the following conditions:

  • Should have a passport with remaining validity of at least six months starting from the date of arrival in Taiwan
  • Possess an onward/return air or ferry ticket
  • Have never been employed as a blue-collar worker in Taiwan

The travel authorization certificate is free and allows multiple entries to Taiwan valid for 3 months with every stay lasting up to 30 days.

Taiwan E-visa

E-VISA. Applying for a Taiwan E-visa was quick, completing the form and paying for it took around 15 minutes, and we were notified of the approval of our e-visa application by email the very next day.

2) E-visa (Online visa)

If you don’t quality for an exemption, the next easiest thing will be to apply for an online visa. The application is done online through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines website.

This entails filling up an e-visa application form here and paying the fee of about P2,500 by credit card or other online payment methods like PayMaya.

Since we didn’t quality for a Taiwan travel certificate, my husband and I applied for an e-visa. It was quick, completing the Taiwan e-visa form and paying for it took around 15 minutes, and we were notified of the approval of our e-visa application by email the very next day.

For the e-visa, the form will ask for details like trip schedule, Taiwan address (can be address of your hotel or AirBNB accommodation), and name as well as contact number of your friend in Taiwan.

Implemented starting in October 2016, the simplified visa policy is cheaper and more convenient for those living outside of Manila since they don’t have to physically appear at TECO.

The e-visa applies to Taiwan visitors who want to go there for the following reasons: tourism, business, visiting relatives, attending international conference, participating in sport events.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office website

3) Regular visa stamped in passport

The regular visa applies as well to travellers going to Taiwan for the above mentioned reasons as well as for: white-collar employment/ investment/ internship/business training/ entrepreneurs/cooks; studying Chinese, seafarer; religious work; bachelor’s degree, master’s, and doctorate studies; minors under 20 who are joining their parents; Filipino nationals married to ROC nationals; joining spouse or parents holding a Taiwan alien residence certificate.

The requirements differ for the various travel purposes so make sure you have the correct list for your visitor or resident visa needs.

4) Simplified visa regulations for high-end tourist groups

The visa requirements are simplified as well for tour groups from the Philippines organized by travel agencies accredited by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

For such groups, proof of occupation and supporting financial documents are waived.

Taiwan said the visa relaxing measures are intended to enhance travel between Taiwan and the Philippines and promote bilateral ties between the two countries.

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UTrade boosts campaign to get Cebuanos into stocks investing

Investing in stocks is owning companies without the hassle of getting permits and putting up capital and UTrade wants Cebuanos to see it as a means to achieve financial security….

Investing in stocks is owning companies without the hassle of getting permits and putting up capital and UTrade wants Cebuanos to see it as a means to achieve financial security.

“There is so much potential in Cebu since Cebuanos are by nature entrepreneurial,” said UTrade AVP in marketing Michelle Ungco.

She added that with only about 2 percent of Filipinos currently invested in stocks, the brokerage firm sees “a sea of opportunity” in the remaining 98 percent.

Since its establishment in 2014 when it only had around a hundred clients, UTrade now has 5,000, according to head and manager of sales Neil Gabaldon. UTrade is an online trading platform.

UTrade Cebu seminar

UTrade Investment Consultant Carlos Felipe gives an introduction to stocks trading in a seminar in Cebu City.

UTrade Growth targets

Only a fraction of this number, however, are Cebu residents, Gabaldon said, adding they seek to make securities trading more familiar to Cebuanos by adding more events to the weekly seminars at the UTrade office in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). The weekly seminar is from 3-5 p.m. every Tuesday at the PSE office in Cebu, which is located at the Insular Life building in the Cebu Business Park. UTrade held a Stock Investing 101 workshop in Cebu on March 4, 2017.

Ungco said they don’t plan run after the 2 percent already investing in publicly-listed shares and try to convince them UTrade is the better brokerage firm but would just focus their efforts on the 98 percent that have yet to learn what the stock market is all about.

“The 98 percent are different kinds of people. UTrade wants to talk to those interested in investing or at least know what it is to invest. They’ve invested in funds, merong insurance, my negosyo na, may ari ng lupa. They’re already invested but want to diversify, add to their investment vehicles, and get into something that will give them accelerated financial success,” she added.

UTrade has intensified the campaign to grow its client base particularly in Cebu, Gabaldon added.

UTrade Cebu press con

STOCKS INVESTING. UTrade officials hold a press conference in Cebu to announce expansion plans. From left are: Adeluisa Gesalan, Cebu Business Development Officer; Carlos Felipe, Investment Consultant of UTrade; Michelle Ungco, AVP in Marketing; Neil Gabaldon, Head and Manager of Sales; MJ Catriz, Assistant Manager in Digital Marketing; and Marnelle Apat, Cebu Business Development Officer.

Stock investing

When people save their money in the bank, they only get very little interest in their savings, said UTrade investment consultant Carlos Felipe.

On the other hand, the bank makes money from deposits by loaning the funds out at a high interest.

“Would you rather loan money to the bank or just own the bank? How can you do this? By buying shares of that bank in the open market. This is the power of stocks, you become part owner of a company,” he added.

According to Ungco, the company’s immediate plans involve the launch of a mobile app by April 2017 and distribution of mutual funds for people who are still averse to stock market risks.

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AirAsia expands Cebu network, offers promo fares to Boracay, Palawan, Davao

To help boost the country’s destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao, AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way,…

To help boost the country’s destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao, AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way, all-in promo fares from as low as P398.

The seat sale will be good for travel from April 22 to August 31, 2017 and also cover the reinstated Cebu-Davao-Cebu route as well as Davao-Clark flights.

Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer, said the promotional seats are now available for booking at www.airasia.com and will run for one whole week starting Monday.

AirAsia new routes launch Cebu

NEW ROUTES, SUMMER PROMO. Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer, leads the launching of new routes from Cebu. With him are Department of Tourism Central Visayas Director Catalino Chan III (left) and GMCAC Head of Airline Marketing Aines Librodo.

Starting April 22, AirAsia will have daily flights from Cebu to Boracay and Palawan and twice daily flights to Davao. From Davao, AirAsia will also fly thrice weekly to Boracay and Palawan and four times weekly to Clark.

AirAsia campaign

AirAsia also presented its latest destination campaign titled #ChasingWonders during the launching ceremonies held Monday, March 6, at Circa 1900 Casa Dos in Cebu City. It is intended to encourage travelers to visit and discover the many attractions of the Philippines.

Comendador said the Cebu and Davao routes, increased flight frequency to Kuala Lumpur from Cebu, as well as the Cebu-Taipei and Cebu-Singapore flights launched last year are in line with the vision of AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes to develop destinations outside of Manila and bring in tourists to the Philippines.

AirAsia promo fare

ALL-IN PROMO FARE. AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way, all-in promo fares from as low as P398.

Since 2001 when Philippines AirAsia was established, it has been the company’s dream to make air travel more affordable and accessible for Filipinos.

“With our newest routes, AirAsia would like to provide much-needed connections and tap into underserved markets, grow it, as there is definitely great tourism and business potentials in Visayas and Mindanao. We are thrilled to paint Cebu skied red,” he added.

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On offer at Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Cultural experience, shopping discounts, iPhone 7 incentive

A guided walking tour, discounts at over 100 Harbour City retail and dining shops, and an iPhone 7 incentive for group bookings are just some of the offers up for…

A guided walking tour, discounts at over 100 Harbour City retail and dining shops, and an iPhone 7 incentive for group bookings are just some of the offers up for grabs at luxury hotel Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong.

Travellers get to experience Tsim Sha Tsui’s forgotten sights, untold stories, and iconic community people through the Cultural Heritage Package that the hotel is offering throughout 2017.

Examples of these historic sites include the city’s oldest military facility, the first Catholic church on Kowloon peninsula, the primary school attended by kung fu master Bruce Lee, and buildings that have received UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage awards.

Harbour view from Kowloon Shangri-La in Hong Kong

 

Sonny Ang, Kowloon Shangri-La director of sales and marketing, said Hong Kong has more to offer than just food, shopping, or nightlife.

Cultural Heritage Package

Tsim Sha Tsui alone is a land of legends that brims with fascinating places and stories, and Kowloon Shangri-La wants to share this side of the district with its guests.

As the very first hotel to open in the reclaimed Tsim Sha Tsui East, the hotel pioneers a project to unearth spots off the beaten paths and interesting facts about the area that have been lost through the centuries.

Kowloon Shangri-La is the first hotel to open in the reclaimed Tsim Sha Tsui East.

Priced from HK$3,800 (US$488), Shangri-La’s heritage package already includes accommodation for two persons, Horizon Club privileges, a three-hour guided tour, and a special edition of the commemorative book The Hidden Gems that features selected examples of Tsim Sha Tsui’s cultural heritage. The package requires a minimum two-night stay at the hotel.

“We are extremely pleased to pioneer this project and design a walking tour for our guests as part of our hotel’s 35th anniversary celebrations. Not only does this project let us help them uncover Tsim Sha Tsui’s cultural heritage, which might have escaped their eyes in previous trips to Hong Kong, but also gives us a chance to work with people from different walks of life within the community,” said Ulf Bremer, general manager of Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong.

Main dining hall of Shang Palace, which has 2 Michelin stars.

 

Shopping discounts, offers

Hong Kong is synonymous with shopping and the hotel makes this activity more pleasurable for guests through a partnership with two nearby mega retail conglomerates – T Galleria by DFS, Hong Kong, TSTE store on Mody Road and Harbour City on Canton Road.

The Kowloon Shangri-La key card gives guests access to over 150 shopping and dining offers at Harbour City or a HK$100 gift certificate from T-Galleria.

T-Galleria by DFS is only steps away from the hotel, which also provides a complimentary shuttle bus service to the mega shopping complex that is Harbour City. These offers are valid until December 31, 2017.

MEDIA BRIEFING. Sonny Ang, Kowloon Shangri-La director of sales and marketing, said Hong Kong has more to offer than just food, shopping, or nightlife.

 

iPhone 7 incentive

For Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) bookers, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong has quite an offer.

Organizers of group bookings of 25 or more guestrooms for a minimum two-night stay accompanied by two days of meeting made as of March 31, 2017 for stays until September 10, 2017 get a 32GB iPhone 7 as incentive. A minimum accommodation spending of HK$150,000 before the 10 per cent service charge is required for this offer.

For more details about this offer, they may contact the hotel’s convention and incentive sales team at (852) 2733 8789 or e-mail ian.tan@shangri-la.com.

Harbour view suite.

 

Warm hospitality

Situated along the waterfront and right in the hub of a commercial-cum-shopping district, with major transportation in proximity, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong features 688 guestrooms with a floor-to-ceiling window commanding harbour or city views, as well as seven sophisticated and award-winning restaurants, bar and lounge.

What sets it apart from other luxury hotels is the special kind of warmth that is inherent in Kowloon Shangri-La’s culture of hospitality, added Bremer.

Patsy Chan, hotel director for communications, said a pioneer worker of the hotel had gotten so close to returning guests, he had to be made lobby ambassador so he would be among the first to welcome them back. This staff was even invited to an event at the palace of a Southeast Asian king.

Cafe Kool

 

Kowloon Shangri-La facilities

Kowloon Shangri-La also has 15 versatile function rooms, including a 5,800-square feet pillar-free Grand Ballroom. The function rooms are all installed with the latest audio-visual equipment and can accommodate a boardroom meeting of as small as 10 to a conference of 750 people. Additionally, the fully equipped Health Club and the 24-hour business centre address physical fitness and office needs.

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and manages 98 hotels under the Shangri-La brand with a room inventory of over 40,000. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services. Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.

St. Andrew's Church Hong Kong

St. Andrew’s Church is part of the hotel’s cultural heritage tour.

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Peri-Peri Cebu offers new way to enjoy grilled chicken

Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar gives Cebu one more dining option and brings to the island the best of Portuguese and African flavors. The restaurant’s unusual name is inspired…

Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar gives Cebu one more dining option and brings to the island the best of Portuguese and African flavors.

The restaurant’s unusual name is inspired by the African Bird’s Eye Chili discovered many centuries ago by Portuguese explorers on a quest for the famed spice route, said Bryan Tiu, president of iFoods Corporation.

Piri piri, as the spicy chili is known locally in South Africa where it had grown wild for centuries, now serves as base for the restaurant’s chicken marinade.

SIGNATURE SAUCES. Eight kinds of signature sauces accompany every dish at Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar.

Special marinade

The Portuguese combined the chili with exotic herbs and spices to come up with the piri piri sauce that Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar uses to add a fiery zing to its chicken.

The restaurant chain that Tiu started in 2006 serves chicken steeped for 24 hours in piri piri sauce and dishes that are spitfire-grilled to perfection.

Chicken is cooked and served in different ways, from salads, sandwiches, appetizers to the main plates, healthy meals with wraps to afternoon delights. Peri-Peri also has an after dinner selection that goes well with its cocktails.

Aside from the chicken dishes, other items on the menu include BBQ Back Ribs, Plaza Porco, Fajitas, truffle-based Pasta Tartufo, pizzas, milkshakes, and desserts.

Peri-peri fire-grilled chicken.

Peri-peri fire-grilled chicken.

Signature sauces

What’s even more exciting is the eight kinds of signature sauces that accompany every dish at Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar.

The special sauces cover a wide range of spiciness enhanced by playful flavors: Ka Tuka’s Honey Pinakurat (a Filipino spiced vinegar), Hen Dynasty’s Hoisin Sesame (sweet and tangy), Poulet Vous Cajun Remoulade (spiced mayonnaise dip), Apachee’kn Mesquito BBQ (smoky, sweet and tasty), Tokyo Tori’s Sweet Soy (teriyaki style), Sheik Chic’s Harissa Exotica (exotic blend of spices), Count Cluckula’s Garlic Brew, and the fiery Fowl-Mouthed Chili Peppa’.

Eric Ng Mendoza

Eric Ng Mendoza, the restaurant’s partner in Cebu.

Peri-Peri Cebu partner

Eric Ng Mendoza, the restaurant’s partner in Cebu, said the chicken preparation and eight signature spices as well as the affordable dishes served within 5-10 minutes in a full restaurant environment set Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar apart.

He said he saw not just the need but demand for more dining options. Mendoza is chairman and CEO of Vivo Sugbu, Inc., which franchised the restaurant in Cebu.

Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken Cebu is the 12th branch in the Philippines and the second outside of Manila, according to Mendoza. It is located at Mandaue City’s newest lifestyle hub, Meerea High Street along Ouano Avenue, North Reclamation Area. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

More photos of Peri-Peri Cebu opening

 

Torta gorilla

Torta gorilla.

 

Peri-peri Cebu

Peri-peri BBQ back ribs.

 

Peri-peri Cebu

Carbonara

 

Peri-peri Cebu

El Fuego.

 

Peri-peri Cebu

Nachos

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How to get to Alishan in Taiwan

There is a wide range of options for getting to the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan. The first step will be to get to Chiayi City in the southwest…

There is a wide range of options for getting to the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan.

The first step will be to get to Chiayi City in the southwest from wherever you are in Taiwan. This provincial city is the base of public transport services that ply the Alishan route.

Do take note that while it is easy enough to get to Chiayi City, the journey onwards to Alishan has scheduling limitations.

Taiwan gateways

International travelers make their way to Taiwan through two gateways: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in the north and Kaohsiung International Airport in the south.

The airport in Kaohsiung is nearer Chiayi and is the better pick for those who have this option. We entered Taiwan through the airport in Taoyuan because there are no direct flights from Mactan, Cebu to Kaohsiung.

Philippine AirAsia Cebu-Taipei

OFF TO TAIWAN. Philippines AirAsia flies the Cebu-Taipei direct route thrice weekly.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flights

We took advantage of the thrice weekly Cebu-Taipei flights that Philippines AirAsia launched in the later part of 2016. The good thing about AirAsia’s flight schedule was that it left Cebu at 6:10 am and arrived 30 minutes ahead of the arrival time of 9:10 a.m. Our early arrival gave us time to pick the slower regular train and still make it to the last bus schedule for Alishan from Chiayi.

It took us over six hours to make our way to Alishan from the Taoyuan airport using the regular train. The bus from the airport to the Taoyuan train station took 30 minutes. Train from Taoyuan to Chiayi was about 3 hours and the bus to Alishan took another 3 hours.

Alishan’s spectacular sunrise and sunset and well-preserved nature park more than made up for long journey.

Alishan Taiwan train

TRAVEL IN COMFORT. You ride a cruise-style train with seat-assigned tickets. If there are no more seats, you will be informed by the ticket counter so you can pick another schedule. Traveling on one isn’t a pain because the seats are comfortable and plush, have wide legroom, and can be reclined in case you want to sleep. In the photo is a bento snack, which others recommend you try. It was good, not really exceptional.

Regular train

Using a combination of bus and regular (express, mountain line) train, Chiayi is just about an hour and a half from Kaohsiung airport and three hours and a half away from Taoyuan airport. Train (express, mountain line) fare to Chiayi is NTD245 from the Kaohsiung and NTD532 from Taoyuan stations.

This is cruise-style train with seat-assigned tickets. Traveling on one isn’t a pain because the seats are comfortable and plush, have wide legroom, and can be reclined in case you want to sleep. If there are no seats available on the train schedule you want, they will inform you at the ticket counter so you can pick another time.

If you are very sure of your travel timetable, you can book tickets at the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) website. One advantage of taking the regular train is that the station for Alishan buses is just right outside.

If you’re starting from the Taoyuan airport, there is a shuttle bus that leaves for the Taoyuan train station from the airport at regular intervals. Bus fare is around NTD30.

Alishan Taiwan Chiayi City

The train stops at the Chiayi City station.

High speed rail

An alternative to the regular train is the high speed rail, which cuts travel time to Chiayi by two-thirds. The fare, or course, is more expensive: around NTD400 from Zouying station in Kaohsiung and around NTD900 from Taoyuan station in Taoyuan City.

Booking your tickets early can get you as much as 35 percent off on the fare. Early bird discounts are given on tickets booked from 5 to 28 days before the use date.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) is quicker but you still have to hop on a bus or take a cab from the Chiayi railway station to the Chiayi TRA station. The distance is about a 30-minute bus ride.

Buses that ply the Alishan route start their journey from a small station just outside the Chiayi stop of the TRA train.

TERMINAL. The terminal at Chiayi for buses heading to Alishan. Those older folks will try to have you take their vans, just decline them.

Getting to Alishan

Visitors have three options in getting to Alishan from Chiayi: combination of forest train and bus, bus only, and cab.

Forest train to Fenqihu

Of all three, the forest train is a highly recommended mode of transport. The Alishan train is comfortable and offers scenic views of Chiayi County but it makes only one trip daily on weekdays and twice on weekends and holidays to Alishan. The train leaves Chiayi at 9 a.m. and arrives in Fenqihu at 11:20 a.m. The tickets get sold out early so book in advance.

Alishan

TOLL GATE. This is where you pay the entrance fee for Alishan National Scenic Area.

Fenqihu to Alishan

From Fenqihu, you will need to take a bus to the Alishan National Scenic Area. Since the train arrives at 11:10 am on weekdays and 12:20 pm on weekends and holidays, people who take the forest train to Alishan get a few hours to explore Fenqihu before the 2:40 pm bus to the mountain resort arrives.

If you want to leave earlier than 2:40 p.m., get on the bus Shizhao, which is 20 minutes from Fenqihu, and change to the one for Alishan.

Direct bus to Alishan

If you can’t make it to the early train to Fenqihu, there are direct buses from Chiayi to Alishan. The first and last trips from Chiayi happen at 6:10 am and 2:10 pm. Fare is NTD230 for adults and NTD115 for children.

At the bus station outside of the Chiayi train stop, a few elderly women will try to talk you into taking a van for Alishan. Outside of the forest train, the bus is the next best transport to the mountain resort. If, however, you fail to make it to the last trip at 2:10 pm, they definitely would come in handy.

Chiayi to Alishan

Chiayi train station.

Cab to Alishan

A cab from Chiayi to Alishan is another option for travellers. It costs around NTD2,000-2,500 for a maximum of four persons travelling together.

Entrance fee

Shortly before reaching the Alishan National Scenic Area, the bus stops at a toll gate where passengers are asked to disembark and pay the NTD150 entrance fee to the park.

Alsihan in Taiwan

YOU’VE ARRIVED. Chiayi to Alishan buses park and drop off passengers in front of this 7-11 outlet in the township center. This is also where you buy bus tickets on your way back to Chiayi.

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Marco Polo Cebu welcomes Year of the Fire Rooster with traditional celebration, food event

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu welcomed the Year of the Fire Rooster with such traditional activities as the lion and dragon dances, eye dotting ceremony, and yee sang or prosperity toss…

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu welcomed the Year of the Fire Rooster with such traditional activities as the lion and dragon dances, eye dotting ceremony, and yee sang or prosperity toss to usher in a prosperous 2017.

In keeping with a long running hotel tradition, Marco Polo Cebu buffet restaurant Cafe Marco also now offers a feast of Chinese dishes for lunch and dinner on top of its international buffet in Culinary Impressions of China, a food event that will run only until Monday, January 30.

Marco Polo Chinese New Year

Delicious chili crab was served during the event.

Feast of Chinese food

Just a few of the dishes in the Cafe Marco buffet during last night’s Chinese New Year 2017 celebration at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu: century egg salad with fried scallops, chicken and pumpkin cannelloni with cheese, jelly fish salad in the starters section, baby back ribs with black pepper, chili crab, hanging beef with steak sauce, steamed sea bass with soya sauce at the main course counters, and steamed buns to go with the Cebu lechon.

Desserts with a Chinese theme include the flourless cake, festival cake, buchi, and egg tart. Of course, there are also the usual pastry, cookie (malicious), ice cream, and Filipino dessert fixtures like puto bumbong.

Marco Polo and Cafe Marco provide you the perfect place to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year 2017 and greet family and friends Gong Xi Fa Cai.

More photos of the Chinese New Year Celebration at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

PROSPERITY TOSS. Hotel executives led by GM Julie Najar and guests perform the Yee Sang or prosperity toss to mark the Chinese New Year.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

A traditional lion dance.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

Dragon dance

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

BUFFET. Cafe Marco spices up its regular international spread with more Chinese dishes during the culinary festival until January 30.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

Cafe Marco entrance.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

Hanging beef with steak sauce

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

Jellyfish Salad

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

Lechon with bun

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Chinese New Year

Buchi and tikoy.

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Taiwan’s Alishan: Scenic views, glorious sunrise, beautiful nature

Little slivers of light begin escaping from behind tall peaks until the whole mountain range gets bathed in the golden early morning rays of the famed Alishan sunrise in Chiayi…

Little slivers of light begin escaping from behind tall peaks until the whole mountain range gets bathed in the golden early morning rays of the famed Alishan sunrise in Chiayi County of Taiwan.

Soft waves of white that go on as far as the eyes can see decorate the hollows between mountaintops and form the sea of clouds that is another popular attraction in the Alishan National Scenic Area.

A vantage spot over 2,600 meters above sea level, way higher than the clouds in fact, is the best place to enjoy these two natural attractions.

Alishan Sunrise

GLORIOUS SUNRISE. Alishan offers a fantastic view of the sunrise.

It’s called the Chushan viewing point and getting there requires an intricate combination of transport services, including rail–regular or high speed, bus or taxi, and forest train.

You can take either the high-speed rail or regular train to Chiayi County and pick between bus and forest train to the mountain resort but do take note of the times since Alishan transport services have scheduling limitations. (READ: How to get to Alishan)

More photos of the Alishan sunrise

 

 

Alishan sunrise

Catching the glorious Alishan sunrise involves waking up in the wee hours to line up for the train to Chushan and do a bit of walking to the best viewing spots.

Many people will jostle for a space at the main viewing deck right at the Chushan stop but there are two other areas where you can watch the sunrise. The first will involve walking back for about five minutes from the train station while the other involves a forward and mostly uphill trek of around 15 minutes but the view is better and makes up for the slightly challenging climb.

If your main objective is to experience the sunrise and sea of clouds, you must make arrangements to stay overnight.

 

Hotel accommodations

Better yet, stay two nights or more. The Alishan National Scenic Area covers over 40,000 hectares of woodland, uphill and downhill trails, ponds and waterfalls, temples, as well as local restaurants and tea houses. One full day isn’t enough to enjoy the many attractions that this park and nature preserve has to offer.

Alishan Center

ALISHAN CENTER. This is the center of the township, the start of your nature trek and the station for the trains that lead to the sunrise viewing decks. The 711 you see in the photo is the bus stop and ticketing office.

The best hotels will be those close to the Alishan township center, located within Zhongzheng Village and the last stop of the bus from Chiayi.

It is from here, specifically Alishan station, that the Chushan line starts its twice daily morning trips for visitors clamoring to watch the sunrise. The forest recreation area, which serves as entrance to the park’s walking trails, as well as visitor and other facilities can also be found here.

Alishan food

DELICIOUS MEAL. We loved this deep-fried mushroom and oyster, stir-fried beef and green peppers and pork ball soup served in Shan Bin Restaurant at the village center.

Park attractions

I found the Alishan sunset, though not as well promoted, to be even more spectacular than the sunrise. It didn’t come up in my research into Alishan attractions and we learned about it quite by accident.

While following the trail to the sacred tree and Cihyun temple, we came upon a sign that said the sunset was best viewed from that vantage spot.

It was still early afternoon so we decided to continue exploring the park’s well-marked trails and just return to the area when it was time. It was overcast and I wasn’t hopeful about the sunset.

When the time came, however, the sun shone through and turned the heavens into warm shades of gold, orange, and red before disappearing beneath clouds and mountain peaks.

Alishan trail

NATURE TRAIL. Walking the trail at the Alishan park is an easy although at times challenging trek amidst beautiful vistas, fresh air and a peaceful space. During months when the cherry trees bloom, however, the area is packed with tourists.

Walking trails

The Alishan walking trails are well-marked and connected so you will always find your way back. They lead to interesting sights and structures — through bridges to temples, waterfalls, strange trees, and even to twin ponds with a sad story to tell.

The trails sometimes wind through a thicket of tall cypress trees but they always lead to the main road inside the Alishan forest recreation area so there is little chance of getting lost.

What you shouldn’t miss inside the recreation area are the Cihyun Temple, sacred tree (giant of a cypress), Big Sister Pond, Little Sister Pond, King Cherry, Zhouzhen Temple. The signs will point you to many more: three-generation tree, another that’s shaped like an elephant head, even cherry blossom trees.

The Alishan Sianglin Sacred Tree.

Mountain fare

All that walking will definitely make you hungry but Alishan has you covered. Almost all dining facilities within the township center serve the hotpot, a popular choice of visitors especially during the colder months from December to February.

We chanced upon a local restaurant just across the forest recreation area entrance that served delectable fare. One of the staff was very helpful and suggested some bestseller dishes: miso soup, deep fried mushrooms and oysters, stir-fried beef with bell peppers, diced chicken with peanuts and chili. Her choices were always spot on. The vegetables are grown in nearby farms so they’re always fresh.

Within the township’s business district, there were two 7-Eleven branches. They serve snacks and hot meals, too. Your food cravings are always satisfied, whatever time it is in Alishan.

Alishan is also known for its high mountain tea so don’t miss a cup or two at the local tea houses while you’re there. Better yet, bring some home with you. The next best thing to being in Alishan is reminiscing, and what better way to do it than in between sips of high mountain tea.

Alishan sunset

ALISHAN SUNSET. The sunset is as stunning as the sunrise and is best viewed on a deck near the Cihyun Temple.

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Do you want to fly to Taiwan? Philippines AirAsia flies the Cebu-Taipei route every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

More photos of Alishan

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