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WORLD CLASS TRAVEL DESTINATION: TripAdvisor.com names Boracay 9th best beach in Asia

The Philippines’ Boracay’s White Beach was recently named the ninth best beach in Asia in TripAdvisor.com’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice Award.

The recognition came following the island resort’s reopening after it went through a six-month intensive rehabilitation last year. The 10.32 square-kilometer island reopened its beaches to tourists on October 26, 2018.

Boracay, even while under rehabilitation, lorded over the top five best Asian islands in the 2018 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, together with Siargao and Palawan.

The TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice Awards ranks beaches, destinations, attractions, among others, based on millions of traveler reviews and opinions.

Boracay’s White Beach received over six thousand reviews with 62 percent excellent rave reviews and 24 percent very good rating, with most of the comments acknowledging the successful rehabilitation of the island.

Boracay, one of the country’s top tourist draws, where foreign and local visitors flock for sun and beach holiday annually, is nestled between the Sulu Sea and the Sibuyan Sea.

The island, belonging to the municipality of Malay, Aklan, is comprised of three barangays –the Yapak, Bulabog, and Manok-Manok.

The award named 24 other beaches in Asia’s Bests category with the Radhanagar Beach of Havelock Island in India on the top of the list.

Boracay’s White Beach, described as the island’s most popular beach, was ranked 9th among the beaches in Asia while El Nido, Palawan’s Nacpan Beach and Las Cabanas Beach were voted as the 13th and 22nd best.

Yapak Beach, the second largest beach in Boracay and is named after the prevalent white puka seashells, was also listed at 25th.

Blessed Virgin Mary Grotto at the White Beach, Boracay. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism)

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the naming of Boracay and El Nido as Asia’s best beaches in the TripAdvisor 2019 Travelers’ Choice Award reflects acceptance on the country’s reforms and new policies to attain sustainable tourism.

“We take it that this TripAdvisor citation of Boracay and El Nido is indicative of the positive reactions to the reforms and new policies being implemented in an effort to inculcate a culture of sustainable tourism. This bodes well with our campaign of highlighting the people’s genuine testaments and reactions to our destinations,” Sec. Romulo-Puyat said.

As of February 27, a total of 320 accommodation establishments in Boracay accounting to 11,662 rooms have been declared DOT-accredited.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force is excited for the completion of the island’s rehabilitation; the second phase on April and the third on December this year. It will further promote the better Boracay and see #MoreFunForever,” Sec. Romulo-Puyat said.

PH conquers the universe: Catriona Gray is 4th Filipina Ms. Universe

The Philippines conquered the most prestigious beauty pageant in the universe with Catriona Gray proclaimed as Miss Universe 2018 title-holder out of 93 other contestants from countries around the world.

The Miss Universe 2018 coronation night was held on Monday, December 17, 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

In her winning answer about her experience working in the poor communities in Manila, Catriona Gray said it has taught her to “look in the beauty of the children” and be grateful.

“I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson,” Catriona said.

“This I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster and children will have smile on their faces,” Catriona said.

Catriona bags the fourth Philippines’ Miss Universe crown, joining three Filipina Miss Universe title-holders including Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973), and Pia Wurtzbach (2015).

Catriona said she dedicates her Miss Universe journey to the Philippines in her Instagram post.

“Philippines, This is it. What an amazing journey this has been from day one back in January 2018 of announcing Binibining Pilipinas to today. Philippines, you have endlessly inspired me and given me strength and support. I want nothing more than to bring pride to you and give my all to give the best Christmas gift ever to my country. Mahal kita, Philippines. Para sayo ‘to. Stand by me prayer warriors, laban tayo,” Catriona said.

Top photo credit: Video grab from Miss Universe 2018 Youtube channel

Pinoy-inspired designs makes way at London Fashion Week

The London Fashion Week (LFW) takes place in London twice a year, showcasing over 250 designers to a global audience.

The House of Ikons featured an all-children fashion show on September 16, 2018.

The theme: “Be Unique Be You” opened the show with an inspirational message against bullying.

About 100 children, including Filipino youngsters, walked down the runway.

Korn Taylor, a Milan-based Filipino designer, did the finale showcasing a 30-piece formal wear for boys and girls.

Korn Taylor brand’s business partner, Chona Bacaoco sadi: “The theme behind this collection as you see — red, blue and yellow — is inspired by the Philippine flag. We are representing the Philippines and doing the finale walk, I was emotional.”

The fashion show did not only showcase the talent and skills of the Filipinos in fashion designing, but it also spoke on how we draw inspiration from our motherland.

Photo credit: Albert Mallari

Pinoy chef showcases Filipino food at UK’s biggest cookout festival

Ferdinand Montoya is the first Filipino to join Meatopia, the United Kingdom’s biggest grilled meat cookout and considered a legendary event for food lovers in the UK held at Tobacco Dock, London on August 31, 2018.

Budgie, as he is more popularly called, joined a powerhouse lineup of 47 other chefs from around the world who were handpicked to be part of the festival.

Chef Budgie served Filipino barbecue skewers (diced pork shoulder marinated and glazed in soy sauce, calamansi juice, banana ketchup, 7UP, garlic, and ginger) with atchara to hefty queues of people during the festival.

An estimated 4,000-5,000 people per day attended Meatopia, which is on its sixth year this year.

Chef Budgie moved from Sydney to London in 2012 and left his job in the information technology industry to pursue his passion for food. He honed his culinary skills from working in the kitchens of top restaurants in London including the Michelin-starred Restaurant Story, Soho House & Co., Flat 3, and Foley’s in Fitzrovia, a restaurant famous in London for marrying Easter and Western flavors.

“I think food is the gateway into anyone’s culture. Food transcends the barriers that separate us—be it politics, religion, or race and allows us all to connect through our primary human function of eating,” Chef Budgie said.

“Once people start trying Filipino food, it gives them the confidence to ask questions about where and how the flavors came about. That dialogue opens them up to not only the culinary culture but the rich cultural history of the Philippines,” Chef Budgie said.

Although he was raised in Australia, it was his mother’s cooking that ultimately inspired Chef Budgie to rediscover his Filipino roots. Pinakbet, adobo, and other popular Filipino dishes ignited his interest to learn more about Filipino culture through the Philippines’ rich and diverse culinary tradition.

Since learning how to whip up Filipino dishes, Chef Budgie has been constantly expanding his repertoire of Filipino dishes while at the same time reinterpreting Filipino favorites to tickle the discerning taste buds of Londoners. In fact, he plans to embark on a month-long visit to the Philippines to learn more about how to prepare Filipino food, especially lechon.

Budgie’s love affair with Filipino cuisine spawned Sarap London, a supper club in London that is gaining widespread popularity among London’s culinary circles. Sarap London aims to retell the story of Filipino cuisine to today’s generation of foodies.

“For me this has been a journey of rediscovery to my cultural heritage. I never planned to make Sarap into something more than a side project and certainly not something I had intended to pursue as business. But the more I rediscovered the more I fell in love and the more my enthusiasm grew. My aim is simple really: I want Filipino cuisine to have its own identity in the culinary world,” Chef Budgie said.

Through Sarap London, Chef Budgie has been giving traditional Filipino food such a sisig, adobo, and lechon kawali a unique and contemporary twist, as a way of introducing the cuisine to those who have never tried it. “Think lechon kawali and adobo sliders, cassava tarts, and sea bass kinilaw nestled nicely in ube taco shells!” he said.

“The energy of younger generations of Filipinos in the United Kingdom to use food as a medium to tell the story of Filipino culture is inspiring and invigorating,” said Ambassador to the U.K. Antonio M. Lagdameo.

“By introducing Filipino cuisine to the British in a creative and innovative way, second generation overseas Filipinos such as Chef Budgie are among our most effective purveyors of Philippine culture in the U.K,” Amb. Lagdameo said.

Meatopia was founded by American food writer and historian Josh Ozersky, whose claim to fame was his stint as editor of New York magazine’s food blog, Grub Street. The festival was later exported to the U.K. by Birmingham chef Richard Turner. (Source: Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippines)

(Photos credit: Meatopia, Sarap London)

Jordan Clarkson shows Pinoy pride in 2018 Asian Games

National Basketball Association Cleveland Star Jordan Clarkson performed the significant task of carrying the Philippine flag during the festive 2018 Asian Games opening ceremonies at Gelora Bung Kar No Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 18, 2018.

In an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer, Clarkson said: “I have never done something like that and that big in my life before”.

The NBA star said he was both excited and honored to represent the country of his roots. Additionally, it would also give him the chance to reconnect with his lineage.

Clarkson wore a Barong Tagalog designed by noted couturier Randy Ortiz. The attire is made out of silk, sporting an embroidered “harimanok” designed to be worn during the inaugural rites.

Chef de Mission, Richard Gomez endorsed Clarkson as the flag-bearer to the Philippine Olympic Committee Secretary General Pato Gregorio.

As Clarkson had reached the pinnacle of being a Filipino basketball player by playing in the NBA, he is considered an inspiration for athletes in the Philippines.

(Photo source: ABS-CBN)

UP Singing Ambassadors bag top prize at international choir competition in Spain

Raising the Philippine flag yet again in the field of music and artistry, the University of the Philippines (UP) Singing Ambassadors were proclaimed as the overall grand champion at the 64th International Habaneras and Polyphony Competition held in Torrevieja, Spain.

The UP Singing Ambassadors won the top slot among the 12 short-listed choirs from 11 participating countries, out of around a hundred applications received by the Torrevieja Municipal Patronage of Habaneras and Polyphony Technical Commission.


The UP Singing Ambassadors saluting the audience after one of its performances. (Madrid PE photo)

The UP Singing Ambassadors garnered first prize under the Habanera category (Primer Premio Ricardo Lafuente) with €12,000 and a trophy, and were also awarded first prize under the Polyphony category (Primer Premio Juan Aparicio) with €10,000 and a trophy. In addition, the singing group won the Public´s Choice Award with the prize €2,000.

The group performed and sang “La Cubana del Manglar,” “Tú” and “Noche” composed by various musicians, and Pamugun arranged by renowned Filipino composer Francisco F. Feliciano.

Apart from the UP Singing Ambassadors, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) also joined the international music festival as guest choir for this year’s edition.

The UP Singing Ambassadors, led by Conductor Edgard Lumbera Manguiat, was founded in 1980. The choir previously performed at the UNESCO and during the Olympic Games in the Sydney Opera House. The group has already won many awards, including the Guido D´Arezzo International Polyphonic Competition in Italy and the International Music Award in Paris.

The International Habaneras and Polyphony Competition of Torrevieja has become a point of reference in the world of choir music, serving as host of annual international choir performances since 1955. It was declared an international tourism of interest by the Spanish Ministry of Commerce and Tourism in 1994.

In top photo: Jubilant choir members raising the Philippine flag after the UP Singing Ambassadors was announced grand champion of the event. (Madrid PE photo)

Tanduay is world’s No. 1 rum, beats Bacardi

The Philippines’ Tanduay Rhum was named the best-selling rum in the world, beating the popular Bacardi and other international brands.

According to Tanduay Rhum, its newfound global status was based on a ranking released by think tank Drinks International (http://drinksint.com/).

“We have a great product to offer the world and the world finally recognized it,” said Lucio Tan, Jr., president and CEO of Tanduay Distillers Inc.

For the first time, a Philippine liquor brand outranked Bacardi and McDowell’s No. 1 Celebration.

Filipinos shine in music, dance in international scene

Filipinos continue to snatch the spotlight in every international competition around the world, particularly in the fields of music and dance.

In an issue of the Philippine Star, Filipinos awarded and acknowledged for their dedication and passion for their respective careers have been highlighted.

Music:

• Sarah Geronimo — Best Filipino Act in the 10th daf Bama Music Awards in Hamburg, Germany. The daf Bama Music Awards is an international multi-media music award show presented by daf Entertainment which immortalizes creativity, unity and enjoyment among the global music lovers.

• Julie Anne San Jose — Silver Global Sound for her self-composed Tidal Wave in the 12th International Song Contest.

• Nadine Lustre — Favorite Pinoy Star in the 30th Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

• Lesha Litonjua and Leo Malli — Grand Prize winner of YouTube’s “Best Cover Ever” in Los Angeles, California. The duo known as Lesha x ELM were the only Asian finalists from among the tens of thousands entries worldwide. Lesha x ELM are slated to participate in the 11th Ibiza Music Festival Summit this May in Spain as part of their prize package. Hosted by Grammy award-winning artist Ludacris and produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions and Endemol Shine North America, “Best Cover Ever” is the first YouTube talent competition which features talented musicians from around the world, competing to win the chance to perform alongside their idols.

• Lance Busa — Champion in the first Michael Bolton’s Bolt of Talent in Malaysia. Busa, 22, a native of Butuan City, won for his cover of Bolton’s How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.

• Darlin Joy Baje — First Prize in the first ASEAN+3 Song Contest in Vietnam. Darlin is an OFW in Vietnam. Her winning number was One Night Only from the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls. She bested 22 singers from ASEAN nations and five from Japan, Korea and China. Another OFW, Alvir Anthony Subrado, won third prize for his rendition of Guy Sebastian’s Angels Brought Me Here.

• Jun Espinosa — First Prize for his rendition of Burning Love in the first Elvis Asia Contest in Manila. Twenty-three Elvis sound-and-look-alikes from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines performed in the competition.

•Krissha Viaje — Champion in the Asian leg of the I Can Sing Japanese competition hosted by GEM TV Asia in Singapore. Viaje won for her soulful rendition of Precious by Yuna Ito, the theme song of the movie Limit of Love Umizaru. She beat 11 other finalists from Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.

• Nathaniel Cabanero and Judie Alegarme — Grand Prize in the 35th Tipperary International Song of Peace in Ireland. Only When was their winning piece composed by Cabanero based on his thoughts about human rights.

• Kenichi Go Uang — Best Performer for his rendition of Uroko by Motohiro Hata in the seventh International Red White Singing Festival in Japan. An associate software engineer from Cebu City, 27-year-old Uang defeated nine other non-Japanese singers.

• Ian Gabriel Corpuz — First Place for his composition Domino Deus Meus (God My Savior) in the fourth Busan Choral Composition Competition in South Korea.

• Cipriano de Guzman Jr. — First Place, Classical Repertoire in the College Students and Professional Singers category in the ninth American Protégé International Vocal Competition in Carnegie Hall, New York. De Guzman is a graduate of the UST Conservatory of Music with double major, Music Education and Voice. In the same event, UST Prof. Irma Ponce Enrile-Potenciano was awarded a certificate of recognition for “the extraordinary dedication and achievement to the field of teaching music and presenting students to perform at Carnegie Hall.”

• UP Los Baños Choral Ensemble — Grand Prize in the 10th Oriental Concentus International Choral Festival in Singapore. The 26-member choir also won in the Mixed Choir Category and Sacred Music Category. Roijin Suarez received the Special Jury Prize for the Most Promising Young Conductor.

• Acapellago — Ward Swingle Award (Overall Champion), Gold Award (Pop Category) and Audience Award in the 19th Vokal Total International A Cappella Competition in Austria. Formed in 2012, the group from Bulacan is composed of Michelle Pascual (soprano), Almond Bolante (counter-tenor), Joshua Cadeliña (tenor), Ronnel Allen Laderas (bass) and Ricky Gavin Laderas (beatbox).

• University of Mindanao Chorale — Grand Prix and Gold Prize each for Classical Mixed and Ethnic categories in the 13th Busan Chorale Festival & Competition in South Korea.

• Minstrels of St. La Salle of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas — Gold (Mixed Voices Open category) and Silver each for (Folklore and Musica Sacra categories) in the fourth Singapore International Choral Festival.

• Ligao National High School Voice Chorale of Albay — Gold Prize (Youth), Silver Prize (Ethnic) and Best Presentation; and Mapua Cardinal Singers — Silver Prize (Classical Mixed) in the 13th Busan Chorale Festival & Competition in South Korea.

Dance:

• Tribu Lumad Basakanon — First Prize, International Category and Third Overall among the Top 15 from 200 participating teams in the seventh Wonju Dynamic Dancing Carnival in Wonju, South Korea. From Barangay Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City, the team is composed of 40 dancers including 2017 Sinulog Festival Queen Marla Alforque.

• Durian Dance Team of Davao — Gold Prize in the sixth International Youth Fellowship World Cultural Dance Festival in South Korea.

• MAG Dancers of Iriga City, Camarines Sur — Gold Medal (Cheer Dance Doubles Senior) and Gold Medal (Cheer Dance Senior) in the ninth Cheerleading World Championship in Japan.

• UPeepz — Gold (First Place) in the MegaCrew Division of the 16th World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

• Enciende Dance Team of Saint Pedro Poveda College — Champion in the 14th US Open World Championships (or Dance Worlds) and second runner-up, Cheer Hip Hop Category in the 44th International Cheer Union Worlds, both in Orlando, Florida, USA.

• Team Philippines — Fifty-eight Gold, 99 Silver, 48 Bronze, 22 division plaques, seven industry awards including Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World (for Cristiani Rebada), Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World (Nhikzy Calma) and Grand Champion Vocalist of the World (Hannah Korin Castillo) in the 21st World Championships of Performing Arts in Long Beach, California.

• Dance Theater Arts — (Twenty-four Gold, 12 Silver and five Bronze medals) and Saint Benilde Romancon Dance Company (five Golds and two Silvers) in the 29th Hong Kong Challenge Cup Dance Competition.