MyCebu.ph: Cebu News & Features

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Author: Marlen Limpag

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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Accenture marks 10 years in Cebu; to hire more workers, open new facility

As Accenture celebrates its 10th anniversary in Cebu this 2017, the company said it is committed to continue growing the business here, especially in the area of technology-driven, digitally-enabled services….

As Accenture celebrates its 10th anniversary in Cebu this 2017, the company said it is committed to continue growing the business here, especially in the area of technology-driven, digitally-enabled services.

Lito T. Tayag, country managing director of Accenture, Inc. (Philippines), said the company intends to add a thousand to the Cebu workforce within the year.

Accenture also looks forward to opening a new facility within Cebu in 2017.

Accenture currently has 5,000 employees distributed over four facilities in Cebu from the 85 it started out with at Pioneer House in 2007. It has since added facilities in Cybergate, eBloc 2, and eBloc 3.

Lito Tayag Accenture

CEBU AT FOREFRONT. Lito T. Tayag, country managing director of Accenture, Inc. (Philippines), says “The industry is changing through digital transformation, digital disruptions. A lot of our clients are seeking services in new IT or what we call the digital space. Cebu is at the forefront of providing these services.” (MyCebu.ph photo: Max Limpag)

High-value IT services

According to Tayag, most of Accenture Philippines operations are focused on non-voice, specifically on high-value services in tech, operations, and new IT. The company caters to 120 multi-national clients in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

“The industry is changing through digital transformation, digital disruptions. A lot of our clients are seeking services in new IT or what we call the digital space. Cebu is at the forefront of providing these services,” he added.

Tayag also said that the growth to a 5,000-strong workforce is a major achievement by most standards. Cebu getting the highest engagement score from among Accenture facilities in the country is another proof that the company continues to focus on its people. The rating measures job satisfaction of employees within Accenture offices.

Accenture Cebu growth

On Accenture’s 10th year, Tayag said the company is proud of what it has achieved and commits to more growth in Cebu.

He said the company also helps enable talent through initiatives in the community, including support for the non-profit skills training organization Passerelles Numeriques and giving out scholarships for high school graduates in the Visayas. More than 30 graduates of Passerelles have been hired as Accenture employees.

Accenture also collaborates with the government, organizations, and other companies to ensure that college graduates learn skills that are in step with today’s digital transformation.

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Sinulog 2017 Balik Cebu booth now open in Ayala

Overseas Filipinos coming home for the Sinulog 2017 celebration now have access to the Balik Cebu booth at Ayala Center Cebu starting today, January 4, 2017, to help them with…

Overseas Filipinos coming home for the Sinulog 2017 celebration now have access to the Balik Cebu booth at Ayala Center Cebu starting today, January 4, 2017, to help them with festival-related activities.

Local government executives led by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale and Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña led the opening of the booth, which is one component of the Balik Cebu program.

Balikbayans can buy tickets to the numerous activities lined up for January and ask about tour packages at the Balik Cebu booth.

Balik Cebu

BALIK CEBU. Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña and Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale (center) lead the opening of the Balik Cebu booth at Ayala Center Cebu. At the booth, balikbayans can buy tickets to numerous activities lined up for January and ask about tour packages and Sinulog events.

Airport welcome

Tetta Baad, chair of the Balik Cebu committee, said two welcome activities are planned at the Mactan Cebu International Airport for overseas Filipinos arriving in January 11 and 12.

A grand welcome dinner for balikbayans is also scheduled for January 12 at The Terraces in Ayala Center Cebu.

Now on its 16th year, the Balik Cebu program has seen an increasing number of Cebuanos and other Filipinos coming to Cebu to celebrate the Sinulog Festival.

According to Baad, the venue for the welcome dinner only has maximum capacity of 500 and tickets for this event had been sold out the past two Sinulog celebrations.

“There has been a clamor for additional tickets but we simply can’t accommodate more,” she added. The main requests of guests during the welcome dinner usually pertain to Visayan songs and dances.

Fluvial parade

Aside from the regular Sinulog activities that they look forward to during their visit, balikbayans also now clamor to join the fluvial parade, said Tourism Congress vice president for travel and tours Alice Queblatin.

To make the experience more festive for guests, Queblatin said they decorate the boats, hire Sinulog dancers and drumbeaters, and narrate the story behind the fluvial procession.

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DOWNLOAD SINULOG GUIDE

Sinulog Guide

Get a comprehensive yet portable guide to Sinulog by downloading Sinulog Guide. The app is a collaboration among InnoPub Media, Smart Communications, Inc., and the Sinulog Foundation. You can the guide from the Google Play Store for Android devices and the App Store for iPhones and iPads.
————

Although this isn’t the first time that guests had asked to participate in this event, she added there was a sharp increase of the number this year.

According to her, Cebu’s island destinations Malapascua and Camotes are also in high demand with Sinulog Festival guests.

Aside from the Balik Cebu booth, located at the ground level of the Activity Center, here are other Sinulog-related activities at Ayala Center Cebu.

Sinulog activities in Ayala

January 2-15, mall-wide Welcome 2017 sale
Up to 70 percent discounts plus a chance to win P10,00 BPI Amore Visa Prepaid Card or P3,000 worth of cinema multi-pass (MPass).

January 6, Activity Center: Cebu Marathon Race Briefing
Get to know the new route, gun start, and water stations for each race distance.

January 6-16, Mall Chapel: Sto. Niño Exhibit
The traditional Sto. Niño exhibit of Images continues in celebration of the Child Jesus. Novena masses will also be held every 6 p.m.

January 10-15, Around the Mall: Sinulog Dancers Parade
Celebrate the biggest fiesta of the country in the mall with festive sights and sound throughout the day.

January 12, 6 p.m., The Terraces: Balik Cebu Welcome Dinner
A welcome dinner for balikbayans complete with entertainment.

January 13, 4 p.m., The Terraces: Kapuso Fans’ Day

January 14, 4 p.m., The Terraces: Kapamilya Karavan

January 15, 9 p.m., Cebu Business Park: Symphony of Fire

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Taipei trip highlights culture, food, nature

She beckoned to us from the shadows cast by the sculpted posts filled with symbolism the meaning of which now escapes me, there in that structure that represented religion in…

She beckoned to us from the shadows cast by the sculpted posts filled with symbolism the meaning of which now escapes me, there in that structure that represented religion in Taiwan.

“Come, come. I want to introduce you to some gods.” Or at least that is what I heard local guide Jane Fan told our group from Cebu that joined the AirAsia Taiwan trip amid the babel of languages that merged with worship sounds within the Longshan Temple in Taipei.

This religious structure in Taipei City’s Wanhua District is a rarity in that it is used by Tao and Buddhism followers, a fact that Jane shared with our small crew of mostly first-timers in Taiwan.

Amie Tea House Taiwan

AMIE TEA HOUSE. The restaurant it up as dark clouds and fog rolled into the old gold mining town.

Caught between the desire to linger in some areas and follow Jane’s pace, I did manage to catch some snippets of information about Longshan Temple in particular and worship in general in Taiwan.

Longshan Temple worship

In temples, you have to enter through the dragon path and exit through the tiger path. If you want to know why, I unfortunately missed that part. When you go up the temple steps, you have to do so with body bowed as a form of respect.

I lost count of how many deities are worshipped in Longshan but I learned there are halls or altars to the sea goddess Matsu, the gods of literature and war, matchmaking god, god of childbirth (with its hall filled with flower offerings), and the main temple goddess of mercy and compassion Guanyin.

Presidential Office Building

The Presidential Office Building. There are only a few days a year when they open the Presidential Office Building to the public.

From our guide, I also found out that when Buddhism made its way from India to China during the Han Dynasty in the third century, Guanyin was male but the Han Chinese made her female because they believed this was more in keeping with the attributes of mercy and compassion.

The Taiwanese are descendants of the Han Chinese who followed Chiang Kai-shek when he retreated to Taiwan following the defeat of his Nationalist’s party by the Communist Party of China in 1949.

Jiufen Taiwan

JIUFEN. Formerly a gold mining district located in a mountainous area of the Ruifang District in New Taipei City, Jiufen was once a prosperous and booming town that earned for it the nickname “Little Hongkong.” That was during the discovery of gold in the area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 1800’s.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flight

Our trip was brief but we managed to go to as many places as humanly possible, thanks to our guide and to the early AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flight schedule.

We left Cebu at 6:10 a.m. of November 25, 2016 on the Philippines AirAsia inaugural flight and arrived at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan 25 minutes ahead of schedule. That trip marked the start of AirAsia’s thrice weekly flights to Taipei from Cebu.

Arriving before 9 a.m. in Taiwan gave us almost a whole first day devoted to exploring the place that the Portuguese once named Formosa or “beautiful island.”

Golden Waterfall, Taiwan

The Golden Waterfall, where the mixture of rainfall and heavy metal elements in the riverbed lend it a yellowish sheen. It was more dull copper during our visit and may be golden some other times.

Taipei attractions

Before Longshan Temple, we checked out the Presidential Office Building from a vantage point across the street and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall built in honor of Taiwan’s first president.

Since there are only a few days a year when they open the Presidential Office Building to the public, we have to be content with admiring from afar this sprawling Baroque structure that, for all its western influence, seems fittingly at home in Chinese Taipei.

Travel is never complete without shopping or food so off we went to the Ximending Commercial District that reminded me somewhat of Cebu City’s Colon Street sans all the dirt and pickpockets.

What can I tell you about Ximending? It is long stretches of parallel and intersecting streets lined on both sides with small and big stalls, two-level stores, and malls selling everything from fruits and food to electronics and fashion retail of local and top brands. Some streets or at least the one I’ve walked on are cobbled and filled to the brim with shoppers, tourists, ambulant vendors, and the occasional stray vehicle.

Longshan Temple, Taiwan

LONGSHAN TEMPLE. Our group from Cebu at the entrance to Longshan Temple, a rarity since it is used by both Tao and Buddhism followers, our guide told us.

Taiwan eats

It was on a Ximending street where I had my first official encounter of the popular local delicacy stinky tofu. A pungent odor a mile away preceded this introduction and it was probably a good thing that we didn’t carry through with our dare to eat some and document our daring on Facebook Live no less.

First day lunch was at the highly acclaimed and original branch of the xiao long bao restaurant chain Din Tai Fung in Taipei. It only took us 40 minutes to get a table and we used the time wisely to get some milk tea from 50 Lan, reportedly one of the best sources of the drinks in the city.

Jane tried to provide as much variation in dining as she can in two days and brought us for dinner to a cavernous restaurant with its bizarre architecture and artwork. Artist Hsieh Li-shiang is the person behind the Five Cent Driftwood House concept.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Taiwan

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was built in honor of Taiwan’s first president.

Jiufen attractions

The second day of our trip was spent food tasting in Jiufen. Formerly a gold mining district located in a mountainous area of the Ruifang District in New Taipei City, Jiufen was once a prosperous and booming town that earned for it the nickname “Little Hongkong.” That was during the discovery of gold in the area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 1800’s.

Today, the town is a maze of alleyways filled to the brim with shops and tourists. Local merchants sell food, souvenirs, clothes, bags, and whatnots.

Din Tai Fung Taiwan

DIN TAI FUNG. It took us 40 minutes to get a table at the original branch of this xiao long bao restaurant chain.

Food stalls usually have sample of their products in containers for tasting. Our guide had to caution us not to eat too much from the free samples as we were headed to lunch.

Despite Jane’s admonition, I was tempted to try out several items. My favorite food in Jiufen was the peanut and ice cream roll, which was a combination of two scoops of ice cream on a bed of grated peanut brittle that was garnished with coriander before being wrapped inside a spring roll. Heavenly!

xiao long bao

Xiao long bao in Din Tai Fung.

Skyline Tea House

Second day side trips include ones made to the Nanya Rock Formation, Bitou Cape, and Golden Waterfall where the mixture of rainfall and heavy metal elements in the riverbed lend it a yellowish sheen. It was more dull copper during our visit and may be golden some other times.

For lunch, we skipped the more popular Amie Tea House and took ours at the Skyline Tea House. We had a ready table so we didn’t have to wait.

From our perch, we had this unobstructed view of Amie and witnessed the restaurant light up as dark clouds and fog rolled into the old gold mining town. The pictures turned out perfectly, too.

50 Lan Taiwan

50 LAN. We were told that this shop serves one of the best milk teas in Taiwan.

Taipei 101

Our last big stop was Taipei 101 or the Taipei World Financial Center because one simply doesn’t miss out on this iconic skyscraper in the heart of the city.

I listened to my ears pop as we rode the pressurized elevator from the 5th floor to the Indoor Observatory at the 87th floor in a matter of 40 plus seconds. They dim the elevator so you can look up as constellations form out and shooting stars streak across the make-believe sky on the elevator ceiling.

There is so much to love in Taiwan and one visit is simply not enough. And that is why I’m returning this January on a Philippines AirAsia flight to Taipei. This time around, I intend to take my time.

Chiang Kai-shek replica

FIRST PRESIDENT. A wax replica of Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan’s first president.

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Christmas season at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu: Festive buffet, other surprises

Food plays a major part in any celebration, and Marco Polo Plaza Cebu offers diners such traditional Christmas fare as glazed ham and chicken relleno in the Cafe Marco festive…

Food plays a major part in any celebration, and Marco Polo Plaza Cebu offers diners such traditional Christmas fare as glazed ham and chicken relleno in the Cafe Marco festive buffet during the holiday season.

From December 16-23 and December 26-30, 2016, enjoy a buffet stacked with sumptuous Christmas goodies at Cafe Marco for only P1,150 for lunch and P1,140 for dinner.

Marco Polo Cebu’s Festive Buffet adds the signature glazed ham and roasted turkey, prime beef and veggies with special dressing, and such dessert treats as the Christmas log cake, fruit cake, stollen (German fruit bread), and special ensaimada to the regular international spread at Cafe Marco.

Marco Polo Christmas

CHRISTMAS TREATS in Cafe Marco.

Christmas cheer

Dinner at Cebu’s top buffet restaurant on December 24 and both lunch and dinner on Christmas Day, December 25, come with free-flowing house wines, local beers, chilled juices, and sides and have a special rate of P2,200.

The Blu Bar and Grill offers an intimate dinner a thousand feet above sea level on Christmas Eve. The festive set dinner with wine pairing is at P3,500 net per person.

The Christmas Eve dinner will have Mr. and Mrs. Claus spreading the Christmas cheer. A Christmas Eve mass follows at the Marco Polo Cebu grand balcony at 10 p.m.

Turkey Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

CHRISTMAS TURKEY. You can pre-order one for P5,000.

Magical surprises

With the series of events it has lined up for the festive season, Marco Polo Plaza becomes one of the most enchanting places to celebrate this magical time of the year.

Here are the wonderful surprises you can look forward to at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu:

Tree of Hope

The lighting of the Christmas tree that dominates the hotel lobby last November 26 marks the start of Festive Season 2016 at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Donations made to the Tree of Hope at a minimum of P200 for every Christmas ball that you put up the tree with your hopes and wishes all go towards uplifting the lives of underprivileged Filipinos in collaboration with the GMA Kapuso Foundation. This year, Marco Polo and the foundation aim to raise P1 million for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

SALAD. Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s Executive Chef Stefano Verillo prepares salad for guests with the hotel’s dressing. The Marco Polo salad dressing is made available for sale at the Chef’s Christmas Store for the first time this year after people kept asking about it and where they can buy it.

Christmas Ensaimadas

Limited edition ensaimadas are back for the festive season at Marco Polo Plaza. What makes them special? The rich and creamy pastry is generously sprinkled with cashews, dates, dried nuts, and an overload of cheddar cheese. They come in boxes of three and six, and are the perfect Christmas giveaways at a price of P130 net per piece.

Room Packages

From December 1-29, 2016, Marco Polo Plaza offers a Christmas Surprise room package starting at P4,850 net inclusive of buffet breakfast for two. You also get to enjoy a box of three ensaimadas to take home to your loved ones.

Room rates begin at P16,000 for December 31 and come with the following inclusions: buffet breakfast, two tickets to the New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner at the Grand Ballroom and Countdown Party with a spectacular fireworks display at the Grand Balcony.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

Stollen or German fruit bread.

Chef’s Christmas Store

All the things you love at Marco Polo Plaza you may now bring home. From homemade jams and Christmas pudding to festive cookies, Cafe Marco kitchen goodies are now available at the Chef’s Christmas Store. The Christmas turkey may be pre-ordered at P5,000 net and the glazed ham at P3,800 net. Also in the store is the Marco Polo Cebu salad dressing, made available this year by popular demand.

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Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

Chicken relleno.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

Christmas log cake.

 

Marco Polo Christmas fruit cake.

Christmas fruit cake.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

Chef’s Christmas Store. This corner at the lobby is where you can buy Christmas treats.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Christmas

MALICIOUS COOKIES. These tasty and crunchy pieces are a crowd favorite.

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Travelogue: Meaningful experiences as Christmas gifts

With USJ-R Intern Shyn Canonigo Today’s young people prefer meaningful experiences over material possessions, and Travelogue by MyEventology makes it easier to grant them their wish this Christmas. Stephanie Villahermosa,…

With USJ-R Intern Shyn Canonigo

Today’s young people prefer meaningful experiences over material possessions, and Travelogue by MyEventology makes it easier to grant them their wish this Christmas.

Stephanie Villahermosa, MyEventology project director, said one good gift for millennials is that of travel.

“Material things will break, be forgotten, or become obsolete,” she cited, adding that beautiful memories last a lifetime.

Travelogue schedule

With MyEventology’s Travelogue, which is happening from December 16-18, 2016 at SM Seaside City Cebu, Christmas gifts can come in the form of airline tickets, hotel or resort stays, sunset and other cruises, wellness voucher, or even domestic and international tour packages, Villahermosa added.

Travelogue

GIFT OF TRAVEL. With Travelogue, you can give as Christmas gifts airline tickets, hotel or resort stays, sunset and other cruises, wellness voucher, or even domestic and international tour packages, said MyEventology project director Stephanie Villahermosa.

The three-day travel expo will have over 40 exhibitors showcasing the different attractions and destinations in the Philippines and other countries.

Bluewater Resorts, Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel, Kandaya Resort, Be Resorts, Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa are among the Travelogue exhibitors.

Gift of travel

Villahermosa said Travelogue, coined from travel in a catalogue, provides a lot of options for travel as a Christmas gift. Packages will be for travel on the peak months from January to June in 2017.

“How can you give someone the gift of travel and place it under a tree? Some tips: make sure the gift is open-dated and that it can be changed,” she said.

International destinations on sale during Travelogue will include tour packages to Taiwan, China, Dubai, Europe, and the Middle East from partner travel agencies.

SM Seaside PR Officer Jasmine Vailoces talks about the event that will be held in their mall.

SM Seaside PR Officer Jasmine Vailoces talks about the event that will be held in their mall.

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Bo’s Coffee highlights good coffee, togetherness in Christmas starter kit giveaway

Bo’s Coffee highlights the making of a good roast and the spirit of togetherness as it celebrates One Filipino Christmas in all its coffee shops across the country. In line…

Bo’s Coffee highlights the making of a good roast and the spirit of togetherness as it celebrates One Filipino Christmas in all its coffee shops across the country.

In line with its advocacy to share knowledge and contribute to the growth of its local suppliers, it has chosen to give out the Bo’s Coffee 2017 Coffee Starter Kit as the Christmas merchandise for this year.

“We want these companies to grow with us, so we ensure their products are used in our stores,” said Bo’s Coffee vice president for marketing Coochy Mamaclang.

Bo's Coffee Starter Kit

2017 COFFEE STARTER KIT. The pack, contained in a burlap bag designed by social enterprise company Anthill Fabric Gallery, contains Benguet coffee, Hario V60 Pour Over Cone, Bo’s Coffee clear Christmas cup, starter guide that contains the history of Philippine coffee and coffee recipes, two coffee filters, and postcards by Artu Nepomuceno highlighting the lives of the coffee farmers of Ambuklao, Benguet.

Bo’s sources its Philippine origin beans from five areas: Sagada, Benguet, Mount Kitanglad, Mount Matutum, and Mount Apo.

The starter kit promotes Benguet coffee as it comes with a bag of beans from this area, Hario V60 Pour Over Cone, Bo’s Coffee clear Christmas cup, starter guide that contains the history of Philippine coffee and coffee recipes, two coffee filters, postcards by Artu Nepomuceno highlighting the lives of the coffee farmers of Ambuklao, Benguet, and burlap bag designed by social enterprise company Anthill Fabric Gallery.

Bo’s Coffee 2017 Coffee Starter Kit

Johanna Michelle Lim and Bo’s Coffee vice president for marketing Coochy Mamaclang unpack the Bo’s Coffee 2017 Coffee Starter Kit during its press launch at the SM Seaside City.

Bo’s Coffee 2017 Coffee Starter Kit

All that coffee lovers need to do to get the 2017 Coffee Starter Kit is to complete 10 e-vouchers that they can access when they download Bo’s mobile app, said Mamaclang.

She added that every time they visit Bo’s Coffee and purchase a minimum order of P250 that should include either the Benguet minty cold white brew or queso de bola cake, they complete an e-voucher.

At their fifth e-voucher, they get the clear cup as a free item and the rest of the kit upon completion of the 10th e-voucher.

In Cebu, Bo’s Coffee unveiled the starter kit during the One Filipino Christmas launch at its SM Seaside City outlet on November 12, 2016.

Bo's Coffee 2017 Coffee Starter Kit

POUR-OVER COFFEE. A specialist demonstrates how to prepare coffee using the pour-over kit that comes with the 2017 Coffee Starter Kit.

Social enterprise partners

Instead of getting a planner for its Christmas giveaway, Bo’s Coffee wanted something different and innovative, cited Mamaclang.

“We want to recapture that sense of togetherness as part of the experience of enjoying Philippine coffee. This is what the starter kit is really about,” she added.

The recipes included in the mobile app fosters the joy of making your own coffee and enjoying it with friends afterwards.

Aside from Philippine farmers as suppliers of local coffee, Bo’s also collaborates with such social enterprise groups as Tsaa Laya for its tea drinks and Anthill for the woven fabric that covers the furniture and forms part of the decor in its coffee shops.

Watch: Bo’s Coffee Starter Kit launch

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Magnum Cebu opens today at SM Seaside City

Your choice of ice cream dipped in thick, creamy chocolate and coated with any three of 18 topping selections, as the Magnum Cebu pleasure store opens to the public today…

Your choice of ice cream dipped in thick, creamy chocolate and coated with any three of 18 topping selections, as the Magnum Cebu pleasure store opens to the public today at SM Seaside City.

When you Make Your Own Magnum, you get to choose from milk, dark, and white chocolate as ice cream coating and drizzle and any three of 18 toppings that range from classic, special, to experimental.

Diane Kimberly Tan, senior brand manager, said during a Magnum Cebu preview for media and bloggers that they are introducing for the first time in Cebu the sun-dried rose petals in addition to other toppings like chili flakes, pistachio, roasted almonds, dried raspberries, and caramel or dark chocolate crunch balls.

Magnum Cebu

MAKE YOUR OWN BAR. At Magnum Cebu, you can mix and match ice cream bars, coatings, toppings, and drizzles. The Magnum bar opens today in SM Seaside City.

Magnum ice cream bar

She added that three toppings are the maximum number needed to stick to and fully coat your Magnum ice cream bar.

At the Magnum pleasure store in Cebu, your ice cream bar becomes even more decadent and pleasurable.

“We believe this is the perfect time to come me to Cebu. It’s the Christmas season and people are in malls,” said Drew Tan, assistant brand manager. Magnum Cebu is the first Magnum Cebu pleasure store outside of Manila.

Magnum Cebu

KAYE Luym Sala makes her own bar during the press preview of Magnum Cebu.

He added that the Magnum ice cream bar at the Magnum pleasure store costs P120 but you get your money’s worth as the brand makes sure that the dips, drizzle, and toppings are of premium standard.

Combination of dips, drizzle, toppings

“The Make You Own Magnum elevates the whole pleasurable experience as you get to create one that’s distinctly yours. With the selection of dips, drizzle, and toppings, there are over 250,000 possible combinations for a Magnum ice cream bar,” he cited.

Since the Magnum pop-up store is an open kiosk or bar, customers get to see the Magnum pleasure makers create one based on their choices.

Andrea Huang, brand manager, said it usually takes a minute or two to create the ice cream bar for clients. Some people may have their favorites already but others ask the pleasure makers to suggest combinations.

Magnum Cebu opening

MAGNUM CEBU LAUNCHING. (From left) Brand manager Andrea Huang, senior brand manager Diane Kimberly Tan, and assistant brand manager Drew Tan during the press preview of Magnum Cebu.

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GRND offers wide range of products for board, water sports enthusiasts

If you’re into board sports and water activities, GRND in Ayala Center Cebu provides everything that you could possibly need. Outfits and accessories for wakeboarders, surfers, and skaters in such…

If you’re into board sports and water activities, GRND in Ayala Center Cebu provides everything that you could possibly need.

Outfits and accessories for wakeboarders, surfers, and skaters in such brands as Volcom, Roxy, O’neill, Syncro, prAna, Parkland and Herschel are available at the GRND store near the Rustan’s entrance at the second level.

The multi-brand outlet carries surfboards and skateboards and wet suits for diving pros and enthusiasts.

GRND Ayala Center Cebu

GRND. The multi-brand outlet carries outfits and accessories for wakeboarders, surfers, and skaters.

Skateboarding needs

GRND sells all parts that you could possibly need to assemble a skateboard, from the deck and riser to bearings and wheels. In case you’re seriously into skateboarding and are joining competitions, they have standard protective gear such as knee pads, wrist guards, and helmets.

Perfect the skater look with the coolest eyewear accessories; choose from Raen, Spy, or Komono sunglasses.

Whether you prefer short, long, or penny boards, GRND carries quite a collection to satisfy even the most hard-to-please boarder.

GRND Cebu

Skateboards

Surfing equipment

Surfing fans will not be disappointed as well. GRND provides surf lovers the best that the sport requires, from surfboards to swimwear and boardshorts.

Those waves can be quite strong so make sure you have your best surf clothes on. Two-piece suits by Seafolly and prAna, priced from P4,000 to P8,000, give you adequate coverage when you catch that swell or it gets the better of you somehow.

Surfing boards come in different sizes and range from P20,000 plus to around P40,000. Tail pads, board leash, and handy accessories like dry bags are available as well.

GRND Ayala Center Cebu

GRND also carries surfboards and wakeboards for those who prefer the waters.

Multi-brand store

Anything you need when you know you’re going to get wet, GRND seeks to provide it.

Beach slippers, rash guards, leggings for swimming that can be also utilized for yoga, Parkland and Herschel bags, GRND carries several lines of water sports and board sports products.

Having a hard time choosing between brands? Let the GRND helpful and friendly staff help you make the best choice.

 

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GRND Cebu

Bags

 

GRND Cebu

More bags

 

GRND Cebu bags.

Still more bags.

 

GRND Cebu

EYEWEAR. Perfect the skater look with the coolest eyewear accessories.

 

GRND Cebu

Dry bags

 

GRND Cebu.

Bikini sets.

 

GRND Cebu

Safety gear for the boarder.

 

GRND Cebu

Footwear choices.

 

GRND Cebu

Shoes

 

GRND Cebu

Water shoes.

 

GRND Cebu

Wet suits.

 

Wet suits.

Wet suits.

 

GRND Cebu

Yoga pants.

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