January 15 to 19 2015 holiday in Manila due to Pope Francis visit

Pope Francis

(Photo from Pope Francis Facebook page)

While President Aquino is still thinking whether or not to declare a national holiday on the much-anticipated visit of Pope Francis , the city of Manila through Mayor Joseph Estrada has already decided that there will be no classes on all levels and no work in government offices from January 15 to 19, 2015 – the time when the beloved Pope is in town.

In the interest of ensuring “public order and convenience,” Estrada signed Executive Order 75 declaring the suspension of classes and government work in the city. He left it to the private sector to decide on the matter of declaring holidays in their respective offices.

Exempted from the order, however, are policemen, traffic personnel and those whose work are in disaster risk management, health and sanitation.

The Pope’s official itinerary in his visit to the Philippines shows that he will spend majority of his time in the city of Manila. The highlights are his courtesy call to Malacanang, masses at Manila Cathedral and Rizal Park, meetings at Mall of Asia Arena and the University of Santo Tomas.

January 17 is the only day he will be away from the city as he will spend it with the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban.

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Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines tonight!

Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines Season 1 was so successful that they wasted no time to make Season 2. And the second installment will premiere tonight, November 27, 9 pm on on SkyCable (Channel 22), Dream Satellite TV (Channel 27), Cignal (Channel 26) and Destiny Cable TV (Ch 71 Analog and Ch 22 Digital). The show will run until February 9, 2015 with one triumphant contestant standing to win the grand prize of US$30,000 and a three day two night travel package in the Philippines.

For the uninitiated, Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines is a travel and culinary reality show produced by the Asian Food Channel in collaboration with the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (TPB). It gathers together 10 intrepid contestants who will tackle grueling physical and culinary challenges. They will be basically out-smarting, out-running and out-cooking one another to be able to win the race!

All will be kept under the watchful eye of program host slash celebrity cook Sherson Lian, resident judge Chef Rolando Laudico, and a guest judge from each of the five Philippine regions they will visit.In each episode, one contestant will be eliminated until only three remain to compete for the championship.


Let’s get to know each of the contestants for the Amazing Food Challenge:

Investment Manager

Karen digs Indian cuisine and is a huge fan of Nigella Lawson. She hopes to host her own food and travel show one day!

Hong Kong
F&B Student

One of the youngest contestants in the show, he enjoys cooking at home for his friends and girlfriend. Kenton hopes to work up the ranks in the kitchen and open his own restaurant one day.

Reporter/ Blogger

Phan enjoys drawing and writing. Born into a family of cooks, this Vietnamese enjoys spending time in the kitchen perfecting her cooking technique. When asked what she prefers to be her last meal, Phan chose Vietnamese Salad because she loves vegetables!

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25 years of French Baker and a Visit Paris promotion!

We recently attended The French Baker 25th year anniversary at the SM Mega Fashion Hall which was filled with luminaries from Manila’s society. It was a grand celebration full of good food, chocolates, sweets, wine, coffee and everything you’d ask for. The milestone was really worth celebrating as it takes a certain degree of awesomeness to last 25 years in the business.

Credit it to the vision of CEO Johnlu Koa, a former UP business professor who decided to apply what he taught in school by founding The French Baker.


“It was in 1985 when I travelled to Europe for the first time that I fell in love with Paris and her baked goodies. Since then I’ve dreamt of doing the same so that I can impart a similar experience to our countrymen in the Philippines,” Koa noted.

And soon, one lucky French Baker patron will get to enjoy Paris for real with three chosen companions as part of the chain’s 25th anniversary promo.

It will be an all-expense paid vacation made possible by the promotion’s partners Insight Vacations,Rajah Travel Corporation, and Etihad Airways as the official airline. The winner and his companions will spend at least three days in each of France’ key cities,including Paris, the old Roman City of Nimes; and finally Monte Carlo.

Aside from the grand prize, 25 pieces The French Baker gift certificates worth P5,000 each are also up for grabs.

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Early Thanksgiving dinner from US Potato Board

Though Thanksgiving 2014 is still a few days away, the US Potato Board fulfilled its annual tradition to host a Thanksgiving dinner in the Philippines with prominent chefs and media guests in attendance. This time around, the venue was the One Rockwell East Tower Ballroom.

Chef for the celebration was Sau del Rosario who was a sight to behold carrying this much-awaited Roasted US Turkey which was the night’s main event.


It was a seven-course affair that had guests feasting on potato-inspired dishes with a French touch ingeniously prepared by Chef Sau. Like this Lapu-Lapu Rilette Fried Potato Cake (note: rilette is similar to pâté).


Potato ravioli with marinated prawns and micro sprouts Salad….


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Anzani New Mediterranean Restaurant, Cebu

And our potato adventure continues.

One of our stops was Anzani restaurant, perched atop Nivel Hills for dinner. It was a good thing that we dropped by here at night since the place is really elegant and romantic. You can stay indoors….

Anzani Cebu

….. or outdoors!


This VIP room has a separate enclosure for more intimate functions.


The underground wine cellar in this sprawling resto was a nice touch. I simply had to have a photo with Sophia Loren above me :)


The man behind the resto is Chef Marco Anzani who has worked with Alain Ducasse and has been hailed by the New York Times as a pioneer of ‘New Mediterranean Cuisine.’ Unfortunately, chef Marco wasn’t around during our visit but no problem since the very able sous chef Randell was there to take his place.We had a five-course dinner and it all began with the complimentary bread served in a pot. It was eyecatching, to say the least.


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Circa 1900 restaurant in Cebu #USPotatoSafari

Last week, I flew to the island city of Cebu to join the friendly folks of the US Potato Board in their event called the USPB Potato Safari. They’re marketing US potatoes in the Philippine market (for good reason!) and the idea is to have chefs in the city’s top restaurants experiment with various potato-based dishes for everyone to enjoy.

Making an impression was Circa 1900 which is a former colonial house restored into a sprawling resto serving Asian fusion dishes . It was refreshing to see all the expanse and the trees. It reminded me of my childhood in the province with the grandparents.

Circa 1900


The tasteful interiors showcase Filipino wooden furniture.

Circa 1900

There’s also a corner where a piano could be found. Unfortunately, the piano man wasn’t playing when we visited as it was lunchtime.

Circa 1900

Circa 1900 serves great food whipped up by owner-chef Steve Shrimski, an Australian. He was a former executive chef in the leading hotel chains around Asia but decided to settle in Cebu for good with his Filipina wife Eya in 2009. It is perhaps the city’s good fortune that Chef Steve is able to showcase the creativity and deliciousness of his dishes in the family restos, which also includes Canvas Bistro Bar Gallery at the Ayala Terraces.


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SuperModelMe Sirens Season 5 premieres Nov. 24 on Diva

Writeup and coverage by Angelique Misa

This year’s roster of finalists for SupermodelME, The Original Asian Supermodel Series. includes 2 feisty Filipinas Irish Ong, 20, and Jasmine Ng, 21 along with the other 10 aspiring models of Asian heritage who are competing in a once in a life time chance to advance their career in the fashion industry. And last November 13, 2014, Ong, Ng and their fellow finalists, Brazilian-Japanese twins Rafaella and Gabriela Leonardo, made an appearance in BGC’s Cav Wine Shop and Café.

supermodel me

During the event, the gorgeous finalists answered questions that were asked by some members of the press. Most of the questions were about the experience they had during the duration of the season. The four sirens also shared some tips like – “Be Yourself”, “Know how to market yourself well”, and “Be a smart model” to all the young ladies who are aspiring to be part of the fashion industry.

Aside from that, guests and media partners were also lucky to have watched a sneak peak of the upcoming new season of SupermodelMe Sirens. And with its return, it assures its viewers that it’s by far the most daring, most explosive and most revealing season yet! The latest seasons promises to break new ground as the search for the ultimate siren is set against an exotic background of a brand new location: Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the grueling, fashion-forward challenges faced by the finalists were crazy casting calls, photo shoots featuring exotic birds, catfights on moving vehicles, and many more.

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Dinner with bestie at Chef Jessie Rockwell Club + winners!

It’s almost Thanksgiving and I want to tell the world about this close friend of mine who I’ve known for more than 20 years. We’re godmother to each other’s kids, I introduced her to the man who would be her husband (toinks!) …. she knows my deepest secrets, helped me through the hard times (to the tune of ‘pay when able’, haha), even lived with her family after college. If I’m ever wanted in history for some kind of infamy, the FBI and the paparazzi should know who to look for. She’d know all the answers :)

Cecil is more than family to me and she’s leaving for the USA next week (saaad!) I simply had to squeeze in time in my uber-hectic week to treat her to dinner.

with Cecil

The elegant Chef Jessie restaurant at the Rockwell Club seemed a sensible choice. I’ve eaten at Chef Jessie several times in the past for press events but it was my first time to be here at night.

Chef Jessie

Now that the holidays are in the air, the place seems prettier now with the brightly-lit Christmas tree by the foyer.

Xmas tree

I love the high ceiling. The resto has a mezzanine level that can host intimate functions for 30-50 persons.

Chef Jessie

Now on to the food. There’s a long list of salads in the menu and our friendly waiter, Vince, recommended the Smoked Salmon, Grilled Prawns,and Sauteed Mushrooms Salad. We ordered this and decided to share. Price was P795 but this was so worth it since the house didn’t scrimp on the ingredients. The prawns were plump and fresh, there was an abundance of my fave salmon at the bottom and the creamy balsamic dressing was delish.This salad had everything I love!

Grilled prawn salad - Chef jessie's

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@SamsungMobilePH unveils its December 2014 holiday sale!

For those dreaming of getting or buying a Samsung gadget this Christmas, here’s some good news: the Korean manufacturer has slashed as much as P7,000 off their bestselling smartphones in time for the holiday rush.

galaxy of wishes

As you can see in the poster, the biggest discount is being offered on the Galaxy Note 3 which has a 5.7-inch display and a Quad Core 2.3GHz processor running on Android Kitkat. Price has been slashed from P36,990 to P29,990.

This is followed by their high-performing Galaxy S5 which has a 16MP rear camera and 5.1 inch display. The price has been discounted from P34,999 to P31,990.

P2,000 peso discounts follow for the older model Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Core 2, so named because of its powerful quadcore processor. Likewise, shoppers can get a one thousand-peso discount off the Galaxy Grand 2 and Galaxy Tab 4.7.

On the other hand, buyers of Samsung’s cheapest smartphone,the dual SIM Galaxy V, which is being sold at P4,990 will get a free jelly case protector.

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The goal of #1MCleanToilets with Domex!

Per UN statistics, one billion people around the world do not have access to a toilet and 2.5 billion more suffer from not having improved sanitation.This is the reason why the UN designated November 19 as World Toilet Day to mobilize global action to end the problem. This year’s theme is ‘Equality and Dignity’ in recognition of the rights of priority groups like women and those with special needs, like the disabled, to have a proper toilet for their own space and privacy.

In the Philippines, Unilever – through its brand Domex, has initiated the One Million Clean Toilets Movement. They’ve made this heartwarming video entitled ‘Fiesta’ and I love its message of how “the clean toilet we take for granted means the world to others.” Do watch this:

In the words of Dennis Chua, Domex Brand Manager, every unique view of the ‘Fiesta’ video translates to a pledge. And for every pledge received, Domex will donate P5 to UNICEF’s program towards improving access to basic sanitation in deprived areas around the world, including the Philippines.

Alternatively, one can like the page, https://www.facebook.com/DomexPhilippines, access the One Million Clean Toilets app and click on ‘Pledge Here’ to join other online denizens who have contributed to the good cause.

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