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PurrBox Café: Cuteness overload

PurrBox Café: Cuteness overload Click To Tweet

Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (Published in SunStar Davao on June 10, 2018)

I was once a cat lover. Those were awkward pre-teen years of bringing home a stray cat which found a home inside my closet, and gave birth to two kittens. Several cats later, my allergologist gave me the bad news. I was allergic to cats, and they were deemed hazardous to my health. I switched to dogs, despite my asthma.

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

Fast forward to the present– I visited Purrbox Café thrice this month for good reasons. First, it was my daughter’s classmate’s birthday, and parents watched amusingly as our kids happily romped around petting the cats (and risked being scratched).

On my second visit, I brought two cat ladies for some Zen relaxation away from stressful office work:  my editor Stella Estremera (check their articles), known for bringing home stray cats (and naming them strangely). The other was my former colleague in a TV station, Ida Damo, who just lost her 6-year old pet Budo.

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

Cat Studio on the second floor (me in a mask)

The next day, I was bringing the millennial bloggers/vloggers, a noisier bunch that I had to separate from my calmer colleagues.

Jojie with bloggers inside the Cat Studio

Arthur ‘Uloy’ Ong, Jr. accommodated us patiently on behalf of his partners, as he explained the fondness for cats. His business partner Erwin Lee Tan (fashion designer of Kasuotan shop just beside the café) has been buying pure breed cats (mostly from Manila and abroad) and wanted to open a cat gallery to showcase the beautiful felines. The other partner, Keseree Ng, was more interested in a café. This resulted into a merging of ideas and a cat café called Purrbox Cafe, Supplies, & Accessories Co.

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

“The business was inspired by our visits to different pet cafes in Asia. If you observe our interiors, it is minimalist and mostly accented by light colored woods inspired by Japanese and Korean interiors,” said Uloy.

Purrbox opened in May 2017 and they just celebrated their first year anniversary.  Hesitant on how the market will receive this first of a kind café in the city, along with the tight, small space which limits their chances to offer more variety, the partners came up with a fresh and delicious menu for customers to keep coming back. Indeed the Bolognese, Mushroom pastas and sandwiches, flavored lattes and milk teas are best sellers, along with the cakes, waffles, nachos, coffee, fresh fruit blends and more.

Purrbox was awarded as the best Pet Cafe for 2017 from several award giving bodies. Uloy believes the approval and recommendation of customers was another top recognition for them.

Second floor Cat Kingdom

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

“Right now, we are truly humbled and honored to be asked if we offer franchising or next expansion. We do have plans in mind in the future. We are planning to be the ultimate go-to place for all the cat lovers here in Davao and eventually throughout Mindanao,” he said.

Uloy Ong and Jin the Sphinx

Purrbox not only aims to promote and widen the knowledge of people about cats, but to educate non-pet owners that there are more to cats than just catching rats. The business also aims to provide quality products and beneficial food supplements for these pets.

Purrbox Cafe © Jojie Alcantara

Birthday boy Champ surrounded by cats

“The common advice entrepreneurs can give is to make your customers happy. But for concept cafes like ours, it is to also to make the welfare of your cats or dogs or whatever animal it may be, your priority. Make sure that they get the care they deserve. We want to promote cat awareness so that we can enjoy the company of cats like how the other countries are enjoying,” Uloy explained.

Enjoying the company of 26 pure breed cats was what I actually did as I took time in taking portraits and getting to know each cat with the Japanese names (guess who is the diva and pregnant right now). That was the last count.  Erwin still dreams of getting an expensive Savannah or the huge Maine Coon to add in the future. Kudos to the friendly and watchful staff as well.

For now, the furry kingdom in the upper floor (one order per person gives you access to paradise meow) is occupied with the cuteness overload of Bengals, Siamese, Rug Hugger Munchkin, Ragdolls, Exotic Shorthairs, British Shorthair, Exotic Longhairs, Scottish Fold and two gorgeous gentle Sphinxes. These are the real scene stealers.

You can check both Facebook and Instagram at @PurrBoxCafe.

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This article was also published here. 

Purrbox Cafe by Jojie Alcantara SunStar Davao June8 2018

 

When you hear it through the Vine

By Jojie Alcantara

When one thinks of a vine, a vision of a plant which grows from the ground come to mind, its stems climbing and winding steadily up the trees or walls for support.

Vine Molave, Zamboanga del Sur

Vine Molave, Zamboanga del Sur

Close your eyes and you will feel the breeze of a rustic countryside where peace and quiet offers solace to your need for some stress-free getaway.  Think of a vintage house where vines are creeping in close comfort, not to cover its beauty, but to add distinct character to it.

 

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In a quiet town of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, such a bucolic stylish lodge has emerged as a new homestay to experience, thanks to the ancestral home of the Geraldizos.  The Vine Molave is born.

 

Vine Molave, Zamboanga del Sur

Vine Molave, Zamboanga del Sur

“We thought of a name that best describes the overall mood of Molave, its fertile grounds ripe for progress. We want something organic to a valley, not too modern for a town setting. Something that would represent a strong spirit to thrive, grow and stand out,” explains Gary Dujali, a second generation Geraldizo, and the youngest son of Eulalia Dujali. She is the eldest daughter of Hospicio Geraldizo, the matriarch of the family who inherited this ancestral home which stands out as the first concrete house in the 1950s.

 

Vine Molave opened completely this year as a cafe, resto+bar, and bed & breakfast in one spacious location. Nestled within a sleepy town where time slows down to accommodate yearning for a laidback R&R, this structure stands imposingly, beckoning visitors with the familiar Mindanaoan warmth and hospitality.

Its logo depicts that of a vine which stands out for its stark simplicity, elements and focus, created by Anjo Philip Dujali Quinalayo, the family’s multimedia arts graduate of Benilde and nephew of Gary.

 

VINE MOLAVE

What makes a B&B setting so comforting in provincial areas is that relaxation is the essence of vacation. Coupled with lovely amenities, personal top-notch service and beautiful ambience to view and unwind— one does not think twice to experience such a memorable stay.

Vine Molave sits on the second and third floor with 11 rooms, individually prepared in distinct style and character, and making you feel like it is your own from the comforts of home. Full bed and breakfast amenities include an access to the mini jacuzzi pool which exudes privacy in a stylish setting.

 

The introductory rate starts reasonably at P1,888 with free hearty breakfast for two, and a creatively crafted countryside menu set that whets the appetite.

Designed meticulously with the history of Molave and the legacy of the family in mind, Gary explained how they planned a modern and youthful architectural design that does not veer away from the pride of heritage.

 

Vine Molave, Zamboanga del Sur

The owners made sure the place will boast of modern amenities that will respond to the basic needs, and “not just for mere showing off.”

“In one of our travels together with my nephew we thought of turning this ancestral lot into a building that represents our passion as a family…. the love for good food and relaxed dining, coffee and night life. Until today we still look for rented rooms and apartment. We were inspired by an idea of a structure that will house all of these,” Gary says.

They both took in all the inspired ideas from those trips, looked over condo designs, put it together and applied it to Vine with the nephew as the architect.

 

“I had some friends with ‘good eye and impeccable taste’ help me put together the look and the pieces, a lot of which are actual pieces from our family house.  It is passion over business, or rather passion with business sense as we want this to be a long term family business.  We are a private family and we’ve never engaged in such type of business in the past,” explains Gary.

Vine is deeply rooted in its origins coming from a valley, and it manifests its strong homey feeling to the residents who may not be aware of the family legacy or the history of Molave.

 

Molave sits in the heart of Salug Valley.  With agriculture as a predominant source of business, it is considered one of the most progressive towns and classified as a first class municipality of Zamboanga del Sur.

 

 

Though it offers less of the tours you expect from other destinations, it is a fresh breath from the hustle of urban commotion, a change of pace and a needed opportunity to recharge the spirit.

 

Vine Molave’s picturesque ambiance, architectural design and homey feel easily make it a favorite among photographers and creates a perfect setting for intimate gatherings such as birthdays, engagements, family reunions, and more importantly, prenuptial pictorials and the weddings that follow.

 

As the center of commerce for its neighboring towns, it is a wonderful exploration for the adventurous type — a 30-minute drive to Pagadian City (capital of Zambo Sur), 45 minutes away from Ozamis City in Misamis Occidental, or 2 hours away from Dipolog City.  One can also explore the neighboring municipalities with yet unknown potential destinations still under the radar of Mindanao’s tourism boom.

 

Zamboanga del Sur photo by Jojie Alcantara, published in Mabuhay Magazine, 2008

Zamboanga del Sur photo by Jojie Alcantara, published in Mabuhay Magazine, 2008

This is one of the tourist attractions in Zamboanga del Sur, a natural habitat called Pod-ok Mangrove Boardwalk in the municipality of Tabina, which cradles century-old mangroves lining the coastal area.  In the 70s, an earthquake and tsunami devastated this municipality, but what protected and saved the townsfolk from total damage were the mangroves deeply rooted in the soil. Photo by Jojie Alcantara,published in Mabuhay Magazine, 2008

 

Zambo Sur offers many idyllic locations from underwater and snorkeling explorations in nearby Tabina municipality (Talisay Beach, Tambunan Beach and Marine Sanctuary, and the Pod-ok Mangrove Boardwalk) to the more challenging hilly treks and cultural immersion in the tribes of the gentle Subanen people who lives by the edge of the enchanting Lakewood.

 

Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur, photo by Jojie Alcantara, published in Mabuhay Magazine, 2008

Lakewood, Zamboanga del Sur, photo by Jojie Alcantara, published in Mabuhay Magazine, 2008

 This mystical spot called Lakewood (a huge mountain lake with a quiet town in its riverbanks) holds a peculiar belief among the river dwellers, a tribe called Subanen.  The old folklore was that a giant sea serpent lived underneath this huge lake, somewhat of a local Loch Ness monster.  Photo by Jojie Alcantara, published in Mabuhay Magazine, 2008

 

For the rather laidback traveler who yearns for a serene staycation with only a book, coffee and a swim in mind, however, Vine Molave awaits like a mother about to cradle you in its arms, offering its warmth and strange, comforting familiarity.

It is just like coming home to your grandmother’s vintage home, and feeling this sudden, overpowering urge to stay for some time.

[vsw id=”205587186″ source=”vimeo” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

 

 

“The best hotel in the South, ayaw ko ng umalis (I didn’t want o leave). I really enjoyed my stay, awesome room, it feels like I am at home, awesome food mura at masarap (cheap and delicious), super linis (clean), the architecture design of the hotel, the lobby, garden and rooms are unique,  above all the people working in this hotel are very nice, the service is great! They always greet you with a smile, you will feel the sincerity, you will really feel you are welcome. Two thumbs up” – Ronnie Liang, International DJ

 

VINE CAFE

Vine Molave houses Vine Cafe which opened the earliest (May 2016) while the whole building was still under construction.

 

 

Although its menu showcases heirloom recipes proudly passed on from generations, it is not your usual little town café, exuding a metropolis feel to accommodate bakasyonistas from Luzon and Visayas. Baristas were trained and supervised by a Manila team. Expect hot coffee mixes, exclusive frappe drinks and café specialty dishes of pasta and sandwiches which tickles the palate.

“Not just your ordinary café in the province, Vine Café offers a brand-new and high-end experience! We were so delighted with the get-up of the place, city-like and stylishly modern.  It’s like stepping into a state-of-the-art facility but in a garden setting. Though modern, Vine does not sacrifice a cozy and homey ambiance. With that, you can comfortably work in your own space and pace, leisurely bond with your group of friends, or wholeheartedly talk with your special someone. More importantly, the food and drinks do not disappoint!  Their bestsellers are the Beef and Cheese Super Fries and Minty Oreo. The fries are generously topped with ground beef, corn kernels (which I found absurd but good), lettuce, and whole lot of cheese.  Mexican tacos and dogs, eh!  Those are just my faves! So for a one-of-a-kind café, Vine’s food can be rated excellent as per town’s standard.” – Mary Rosalie Olandesca, lifestyle blogger

 

 

VINE RESTO + BAR

Another first for the Molave community is the Vine Resto+Bar, situated at the back of Vine Café.  The full service restaurant offers heirloom recipes coupled with a fusion of Japanese dishes, pasta specials and delicious Filipino favorites like the kare-kare. Trained by the Manila team, the full bar arrangement offers premium co cktails and exclusive concoctions, cocktails and frappe mixes.

 

On Fridays and Saturdays, the area transforms into the party place after dinner with live acoustic bands and featured DJs to liven up the evening. Top Manila DJs have come to perform like manila hypins master Dj Ron Poe, Lady Dj Brendz of Penthouse Manila, and Dj Kael of Cable Car, Royal.

 

To date it has hosted memorable parties and anticipated events in town, featuring popular performers in the country, like Jona Viray, Maricel Callo and Michael Pangilinan.

 

 

For full information on contact details and how to get to Vine Molave, please visit www.vinemolave.com. Book a stay and your new kind of adventure awaits in Zamboanga del Sur!

 

 

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Lifescapes & Landscapes Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire

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Ribbon cutting ceremony of Rhonson Ng exhibit in Solaire led by Mrs. Eduviges Huang (Chairman of the Federation of Philippine Photographer's Foundation)

Ribbon cutting ceremony of Rhonson Ng exhibit in Solaire led by Mrs. Eduviges Huang (Chairman of the Federation of Philippine Photographer’s Foundation)

RHONSON SAMSON NG is a mountaineer, caver, diver and award-winning photographer whose images are printed in brochures, coffee table books, airport billboards, and tourism materials all over the country. Born in Manila in 1975, he moved to Davao City in 2003 to conquer Mount Apo each year since then. His photos of the majestic peak have been on cover of Mabuhay Magazine twice, and published in Action Asia Magazine. He has worked as the official photographer for the Department of Tourism Region XI, before he went freelance. He has done projects for other tourism regions as well.

Travel photographer Rhonson Ng

Travel photographer Rhonson Ng

An avid trekker and climber who has scaled several challenging peaks around the Philippines and in Kota Kinabalu, Rhonson is also noted for his cave photography.  As a diver, one of his underwater fashion images was shortlisted in a popular UK photography contest. His photos are included in DOT’s It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign, and the Best of the Best of the Philippines Coffee Table Book. He was also commissioned to shoot exclusively for the coffee table book of San Juan in 2013.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort

Rhonson contributes to local and international publications and has been featured in magazines and TV shows. His most memorable photo exhibit was a first major solo in the Metropolitan Museum featuring the Lumads of Mindanao. He holds the indigenous people close to his heart and aims to preserve the rich but dying culture through his documentaries. He was embraced by the Ovu-Manuvu tribe who christened him “Datu Maumpid”, which means “he who makes beautiful things”.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort

This adopted Dabawenyo has won in top competitions, recently bagging the grand prize in the conventional category of the PAGCOR National Photography Competition 2015.  Currently, he conducts photography workshops around Mindanao as a resource speaker for Fujifilm Philippines.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort

Through the years, he has raised funds (free workshops and exhibits) for his personal advocacy and charity works (Kids of Hope Davao Cancer Foundation). He initiated relief operations for the victims of typhoon Pablo, Sendong, and Yolanda and traveled to devastated areas. He had also risked documenting this year’s forest fire in Mount Apo from a chopper and delivered food supplies to firefighter volunteers. Rhonson is among five of Filipino members of the International Environment Photographers Association (IEPA), an organization based in Japan.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Lifescapes and Landscapes Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Currently he continues to travel and shoot on commission, and has led the documentation team for DOT Davao in the recent Miss Earth 2016 visit to the city.  He is also invited to be one of the resource speakers in the coming PhotoWorld Asia 2017 in Manila.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Lifescapes and Landscapes Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

“Lifescapes and Landscapes: A Travel Documentary by Rhonson Ng” is a collection of sixty five (65) memorable works (several are published) taken from his journey around his beloved country. Despite threat of typhoon Karen, his opening on October 15 was successful in the Solaire Resort and Casino’s Shoppes Hallway in Paranaque.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

The large images of 24×36 inches in size were printed by Fujifilm Philippines. Gracing the event in the ribbon cutting ceremony were Mrs. Eduviges Huang (Chairman of the Federation of Philippine Photographer’s Foundation), Maeda Takuya and Nelson Perez of Fujifilm Philippines, Jun Ventura (Eastgate Publishing), Rhonson’s mentor Manolo Araneta, Chia David (Manfrotto), Ariel Murillo (Camera Club of the Phils), Pablo Beltran (FPPF), James and Maxine Loyola (PLDT Home), as well as Rhonson’s family and relatives. Among friends from Davao who graced the event were Ian Garcia (M Magazine), Joyce Mariscal, Carlos Munda and family. Those who stayed away from the typhoon came to visit in the next few days.

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Rhonson’s photo exhibit will run for a month, until November 15, 2016 (UPDATE: It has been extended until December). He wishes to thank his bestfriend Antoinette Sison-Guevarra who organized the exhibit, Mr. Donato Almeda (Board Director, Solaire) and Ms.Regina Kaimo (Production Manager, Solaire), Mr. Allen Capuyan of MIAA and to former DOTXI Regional Director Ms. Sonia Garcia and the late columnist Roger Layson who opened doors for him by hiring him as photographer for the region in 2003.lifescapes-and-landscapes-travel-documentary-photo-exhibit-by-rhonson-ng-in-solaire-resort-and-casino

Featured in SunStar Davao : Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Featured in Manila Bulletin : Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Featured in Manila Bulletin : Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Featured in Manila Bulletin : Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

Featured in Manila Bulletin : Lifescapes and Landscapes Travel Documentary Photo Exhibit by Rhonson Ng in Solaire Resort and Casino

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Gabay Guro Chairman Ms. Chaye Revilla with the students

PLDT Gabay Guro: On its 9th year of building the nation one teacher at a time

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PLDT Gabay Guro

PLDT Gabay Guro

Gabay Guro was born and became the CSR arm under the PLDT-Smart Foundation when a small group of like-minded PLDT executives banded together over coffee nine years ago for an advocacy for teachers. With a common dream of being a catalyst of change in the lives of teachers, Gabay Guro became an education arm and a flagship project of the PLDT-SMART Foundation under the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Manny V. Pangilinan.

This program run by volunteers composed of the PLDT Manager’s Club Inc. revolutionized education-based advocacy efforts in so many levels giving birth to a holistic approach anchored on the now famous Gabay Guro pillars – Scholarships, Trainings, Housing and Educational Facilities, Livelihood Programs, Broadbanding and Computerization, and Teachers’ Tribute.

 

Gabay Guro Chairman Ms. Chaye Revilla with the students

Gabay Guro Chairman Ms. Chaye Revilla with the students

 

Gabay Guro paid tribute to teachers all over the country (and nearby countries) by bringing attention to their heroic deeds and at the same time, providing them with the necessary tools to contribute to the change in the lives of their students and families.

Nine years later Gabay Guro has over 1,100 scholars in various state colleges and universities nationwide.  There are over 300 LET passers, 496 active scholars as of August, 2016 and a projected 167 graduates in 2017. Gabay Guro also celebrates the fact that 137 scholars graduated with honors – 112 cum laudes and 25 magna cum laudes.

Gabay Guro has also partnered with local government units to further teacher education. The foundation has conducted trainings for over 16,000 teachers in the course of its nine years.  Today, it runs eight training programs for teachers around the country namely: Teacher’s Treasure Chest; English Proficiency Training; Computer Literacy; Emotional Intelligence; Teacher’s Armor; Leadership Training; IT Sustainability and Literacy; and Unleashing Creativity in Teaching.  At the same time, Gabay Guro answers to the needs of the times by doing grassroots anti-drugs trainings in schools.

 

tribute-to-teachers1

Gabay Guro’s initiative on Broadband and Computerization has had great impact nationwide. All partner-schools were recipients of either computers/laptop or internet connections from PLDT or Smart.

Knowing that shortage of educational facilities is a major disaster area in the Philippine education system, Gabay Guro has taken the cudgels in the construction of classrooms in the provinces, mostly those that have been hit by debilitating calamities. There are over 40 classrooms constructed and donated already in the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Capiz.

In the beginning, there were only a couple of thousand member-teachers under its stable. 2016 sees a 20,000-strong membership at its helm, taking over the leadership, setting the bar of service in all education-related NGOs around the nation.

 

PLDT VP and HOME Marketing Head Gary Dujali and Chairman of Gabay Guro Chaye Revilla

PLDT VP and HOME Marketing Head Gary Dujali and Chairman of Gabay Guro Chaye Revilla

 

Ms. Chaye Revilla and the Gabay Guro team of visionaries were propelled by this belief:  “our nation’s children depend on our nation’s teachers to lead them to the future.  And this teachers’ month, Gabay Guro gives tribute to those who teach the next generation of nation-builders.”

The pinnacle of Gabay Guro’s celebration is embodied in the tribute event held every year at the SM MOA Arena.  Year after year, the organizers leave no stone unturned ensuring that it is in Gabay Guro where teachers get to be treated like royalty. Raffle prizes have generously grown into the staggering house and lot and vehicle showcases and livelihood opportunities that they give in every tribute event.

 

Janno Gibbs, Jaya and Ogie Alcasid are among celebrities to grace Teacherfest 2016 in SM MOA Arena

Janno Gibbs, Jaya and Ogie Alcasid are among celebrities to grace Teacherfest 2016 in SM MOA Arena

 

The Gabay Guro’s 9th Teacher’s Tribute this year has the biggest gathering of the country’s celebrities, and will not disappoint on Sept. 25 at the MOA Arena.  Stellar names include Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid, Gary Valenciano, Pops Fernandez, James Reid, Nadine Lustre, Ms. Lea Salonga, Mega star Ms. Sharon Cuneta and more surprise guests on the big day.

 

 

Vina Morales and Pops Fernandez are among the surprise stars who will be in SM MOA Arena for the Teacherfest 2016

Vina Morales and Pops Fernandez are among the surprise stars who will be in SM MOA Arena for the Teacherfest 2016

 

This year  is made possible through the help of the sponsors:  Perry’s Group of Companies (house and lot), Foton (Gratour Van), Intel, Devant, Motorlandia (Honda and Suzuki motorcyles), Ropali, Penshoppe, National Bookstore, Enchanted Kingdom, Splash, Tempra, Flanax, Bonamine, Vivalyte, Mundipharma, Gardenia, Bic, Art Attack, Microsoft, Smart Bro, Ultera, Talk N Text and 51 Talk.

 

mpr

 

To this day, Gabay Guro managed to thrive on volunteerism among the ranks of the executives from PLDT and Smart. By helping shape the future of the teachers, Gabay Guro hopes to spread the gift of learning to students across the country, thereby taking part in nation building.

The PLDT Gabay Guro grand tribute event is exclusive for teachers only, and admission is free.  Follow Gabay Guro on Facebook, twitter and Instagram at @PLDTGabayGuro or visit the Gabay Guro official website for more details.

Published in SunStar Davao on Sept. 21, 2016 “PLDT Gabay Guro: Building the nation one teacher at a time”

 

Published in SunStar Davao on Sept. 21, 2016 - "PLDT Gabay Guro: Building the nation one teacher at a time"

Published in SunStar Davao on Sept. 21, 2016 – “PLDT Gabay Guro: Building the nation one teacher at a time”


PLDT and SMART Chairman and CEO Manny Pangilinan unveils new logos © Jojie Alcantara

Glitz and glam in PLDT-Smart major rebranding event

Jojie Alcantara article for SunStar Davao

Article by Jojie Alcantara

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Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara, published in SunStar Davao (June 22, 2016)

 

A "New Day Unfolds" for PLDT and Smart © Jojie Alcantara

A “New Day Unfolds” for PLDT and Smart © Jojie Alcantara

 

Flying to Manila with my fellow media colleagues, I was wondering what the fuss and secrecy was all about as the cryptic invitation’s only clue were the words “A New Day Unfolds”.

 

Invitation

 

Turns out that the country’s leading telecom and digital services provider, PLDT, and its mobile subsidiary, Smart Communications, are about to welcome a new day with a fresh brand identity that aims to “reflect their desire to empower their customers who are increasingly embracing digital services in their daily lives.”

 

 

In an utmost confidentiality for a big announcement that was to go simultaneous nationwide, top guns planned in hush arrangements that sent employees in a frenzy on whether this was good or bad change for them. Overall, the result turned out beneficial to all.

 

 

The program was short and sweet. Hosted by Bianca Valerio and Steven Silva, they called PLDT and SMART Chairman and President Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) onstage for the welcome remarks, before the unveiling of two new and upgraded corporate logos in red and green. MVP was joined by the heads of Smart and PLDT for a toast to this major rebranding.

 

Toast by MVP and executives of PLDT and Smart

Toast by MVP and executives of PLDT and Smart

 

The new logos were said to symbolize the powerful convergence of PLDT and Smart, combining fixed and wireless technologies to serve individual and enterprise customers.

With the new logo comes the change in name of the company from “Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company” into “PLDT Inc.”, to better represent the company’s current thrust and business shift to data-driven services.
PLDT-Smart is pursuing a three-year digital pivot that aims to transform its networks into “the country’s most data capable infrastructure delivering a growing array of compelling digital services.” The said logo changes are just the tip of an iceberg, one of the many steps towards digital transformation.

 

pldtsmart-logo-2016 s

New logos of PLDT and Smart

 

“We have embarked on a digital pivot to enable us to serve the increasing needs of our people’s digital lifestyle and the country’s growing digital economy,” said MVP.

“We shall lead the digital revolution by embracing the smart life within the organization, pursuing digital innovations and enabling our customers to go digital in their own ways. The biggest winners will be our customers who will have a growing range of choices at their fingertips.” The word ‘digital’ couldn’t be emphasized any better than this for the search engine optimization.

pldt-logo-evolution

PLDT logo evolution

 

Shaped like a triangle, the new identical logos represent “three sides of the Company’s business pillars – for exceptional people, meaningful innovations, and valuable customers.” The said figure is also the symbol for Delta, the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, which means “Change”.

Smart logo evolution

Smart logo evolution

 

The three pillars when taken together, according to MVP, “create tremendous energy that will enable our customers to achieve their limitless potential. The triangle’s three sides support each other. Thus, there is an inherent strength flows harmoniously among the sides to sustain the structure.”

 

DSCF5914

 

The historic change was met with celebration nationwide in every office. We were lucky to have been given an icing on the cake up close – that of a surprise reunion with the members of the legendary band, Eraserheads. Ely Buendia and colleagues sang several songs that made them famous, while the crowd was revved up from beginning to end, singing along with the popular tunes. What a treat!

 

 

While we moved about for celebrity-spotting and a little “selfie ambush” with program director Rowell Santiago, we weren’t able to get close to the MVP for a quick snap.

 

Jojie and director Rowell Santiago

Me and director Rowell Santiago

 

We managed to rub elbows with pretty faces, though, like the Bb. Pilipinas Queens, PLDT FVP and Head of Home Business Operations Renren Reyes, and the VP and Head of Marketing for PLDT Home and Smart Bro Gary Dujali, who recently headed the successful Smart Bro tours in Mindanao.

 

The night was young, and though we bonded with our Cebu media colleagues, we went back to emjoy our cozy lair in Discovery Primea Suites, thanks to our gracious host, PLDT Home. A new day begins again, and we look forward to a faster and more efficient technology that will help change lives for the better.


Ms. Universe on her new PLDT HOME TVC : ‘This is my story.’

Pia Wurtzbach

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Miss Universe 2015 and Filipino pride Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is being featured in the latest TV commercial of PLDT HOME, representing the digital services leader’s flagship DSL brand.

This is one relationship that Pia is quite proud of and excited to continue with. Pia has been an ambassador of PLDT HOME since she became a Bb. Pilipinas titleholder in 2015. She remembers how much fun she had, going around the country promoting PLDT HOME DSL even in the remote areas of Mindanao. She says of the brand new partnership, “I am really very happy that PLDT HOME decided to continue with our relationship. I believe in what they stand for,” she said.

 

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In the recently released TVC featuring the Filipina stunner, Pia is seen backstage as pretty little girls, all aspiring beauty queens, go through the rigors of beauty pageants with their number one fan and supporter—their mothers. Pia was teary-eyed during the pre-production for this commercial revealing that the story “felt really close to home.” She said, “This is my story. I feel that this was specifically written for me. I should have brought my mom with me today. I left her in the hotel. I want her to see this, too,” she told those around her during that meeting.

VIEW THE VIDEO HERE :
https://www.facebook.com/PLDTHome/videos/998815083538908/

video

According to PLDT VP and Home Marketing Director Gary Dujali, the heartwarming video is in honor of mothers and the beautiful connections they help create for their children. “The perfect combination of a mother’s unwavering support and the power of technology which allowed her to connect with the world, helped pave the way for Pia to achieve her goal,” he said. “With this new TVC, we hope to inspire and empower people in their own journeys towards their dreams. It is certainly an honor to have no less than the reigning Miss Universe help us spread the message that the strongest and most beautiful connections begin at home.”

 

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Pia was endearing during the shoot. She made no effort to hide how she felt that the experience unraveling before her felt exactly the same as when she was still competing for the crown. “Her down-to-earth attitude makes her all the more loveable. She was genuinely enthralled by the little girls who acted with her in the commercial. She was playing with them and having fun until the end of the shoot. We didn’t even notice that she was already feeling under the weather. She even bought taho at one point! What a real trooper she truly is!” Gary pointed out.

 

Pia during a closed door taping

Pia during a closed door taping

 

The partnership between Pia and PLDT HOME DSL began when she was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Universe in 2015. Since then, PLDT HOME has been a steadfast supporter of Pia’s Miss Universe journey. As PLDT HOME ambassador, she traveled around the country to help families create beautiful connections through the reliable family-sized connection of PLDT HOME DSL. Her powerful story also served as an inspiration to millions of Filipinos who were captivated by her journey and perseverance despite multiple setbacks.

 

screenshot-www facebook com 2016-08-23 08-08-01

The partnership between Pia and PLDT HOME DSL began when she was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Universe in 2015. Since then, PLDT HOME has been a steadfast supporter of Pia’s Miss Universe journey. As PLDT HOME ambassador, she traveled around the country to help families create beautiful connections through the reliable family-sized connection of PLDT HOME DSL. Her powerful story also served as an inspiration to millions of Filipinos who were captivated by her journey and perseverance despite multiple setbacks.

cignal switch

It also helps them stay connected to their families and loved ones wherever their journey leads them, especially now with PLDT HOME DSL’s CIO Asia Award-winning data sharing service through the Speedster Fam Plan 1299. This plan offers speeds of up to 10 Mbps and a monthly data allocation of 50 GB. Subscribers who upgrade their Speedster Plan with a Smart Mobile Plan 399 or Plan 600 can share 6 GB of the 50 GB monthly data allocation to their smart phones so they can always easily reach out to the people that matter most.

*****

MJ Lastimosa, Gretchen Ho led Smart Bro 888 Tour in Davao

© Rhonson Ng 2016

© Rhonson Ng 2016

 

[Tweet “MJ Lastimosa, Gretchen Ho led Smart Bro 888 Tour in Davao”]

By Jojie Alcantara  [ photos by Rhonson Ng ]

In an era of fast technology, people particularly the millennials adapt to online communication as a necessity nowadays.  Having no wifi connectivity becomes a burden as everyone tries to communicate as quickly as they can with the need to be updated on a 24/7 basis, more so with work related matters.

Smart Bro brings good news to Davao as it takes its best deal ever in a grand tour around the city featuring two of the BRO-kadas,  beauty queen and Mindanao pride MJ Lastimosa and celebrity athlete and host Gretchen Ho.

 

Host Ian Garcia, beauty queen MJ Lastimosa and celebrity athlete and host Gretchen Ho © Rhonson Ng 2016

Host Ian Garcia, beauty queen MJ Lastimosa and celebrity athlete and host Gretchen Ho © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

Now available for only P888, the Smart Bro 4G Pocket WiFi offers fast and reliable mobile connectivity for up to 10 gadgets, making it the perfect companion for sharing online fun with the barkadas – from streaming videos and music, playing online games, to sharing files and photos during fun adventures.

 

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Smart Bro invites everyone to experience firsthand its fast and reliable mobile broadband service as the country’s unrivaled mobile services leader continues to boost its coverage and connectivity experience in key areas across the country, including the Davao region, with the latest network technologies.

 

 © Rhonson Ng 2016

Davao bloggers in Marco Polo Davao for the launch © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

In a lunch press conference in Saragani Room of Marco Polo Hotel, Smart Bro showcased its 4G Pocket WiFi which can power up to 10 devices with fast and reliable 4G connection. They gave away units to media guests and bloggers which came preloaded with free internet for 3 months (350 MB of data per month), making it easier to watch streaming videos, download TV series and movies on iflix, and listen to the latest hits on Spinnr.  Davaoenos can now share online activities with friends and family with less lagging issues.

 

© Rhonson Ng 2016

© Rhonson Ng 2016

 

Davao bloggers in Marco Polo Davao for the launch © Rhonson Ng 2016

Davao bloggers in Marco Polo Davao for the launch © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

 

Davao media in Marco Polo Davao for the launch © Rhonson Ng 2016

Davao media in Marco Polo Davao for the launch © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

Hosts Ian Garcia and me © Rhonson Ng 2016

Hosts Ian Garcia and me © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

Media colleague and buddy Ian Garcia and I hosted the event, and introduced Smart Bro Prepaid Acquisitions Manager James Jorge who shared a short presentation on the features of the unit.  Smart Marketing Head for consumer broadband and PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali said a few words of welcome before we introduced Smart Bro Celebrity Brokadas Gretchen Ho and Mary Jane “MJ” Lastimosa whose first break was winning beauty pageants in her hometown of Davao. Both endorsers happily shared their experiences with the Pocket WiFi as well as tips on handling the social media scene.

 

PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali © Rhonson Ng 2016

PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

“Davao is brimming with young millennials who love to bond together and share their passion with friends online, and the Smart BRO-Kada is here to show how all of this can be a lot more enjoyable and more affordable with our 4G Pocket WiFi at only P888 – our best 4G Pocket WiFi deal to date,” said Gary Dujali.

 

PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali with Gretchen Ho and MJ Lastimosa © Rhonson Ng 2016

PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali with Gretchen Ho and MJ Lastimosa © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

With our recent connectivity enhancements in Davao, now is definitely the perfect time for Davaoenos to own a Smart Bro 4G Pocket WiFi and put it at the center of your online experiences with friends. It’s a must have for every barkada!” he continued.

 

PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali © Rhonson Ng 2016

PLDT Home VP and Marketing Director Gary Dujali © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

The Smart Bro team also raffled off gift certificates among guests which include the Davao media and bloggers, the distributor and sales group led by Erlan Besin, Area Manager for the sales team, and guests from Manila media, namely:  Dolly Mae Carvajal of Philippine Daily Inquirer, Isah Red of The Standard, Shirley Pizarro of Manila Bulletin, and Natalie Tomada of Philippine Star.

 

© Rhonson Ng 2016

© Rhonson Ng 2016

 

After MJ and Gretchen’s motorcade and mall tours, the evening continued with the Smart Bro team treating the bloggers to a night of fun in Matina Town Square.

Smart brought the Smart Bro 4G Pocket WiFi nationwide with their celebrity “BRO-kadas” MJ Lastimosa, Michael Pangilinan, Michelle and Marco Gumabao, Bea Santiago and Gretchen Ho. Their stops have included Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Pampanga, Davao and Makati.

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

SMART BROkada Tour in Davao © Rhonson Ng 2016

 

The nationwide caravan included a motorcade and mall tours with the celebrities, and a chance to win premium items from Smart and adventure vouchers worth P10,000 for a BRO-kada Trip by simply purchasing Smart Bro 4G Pocket WiFi.  These adventure vouchers are for summer getaway destinations like Sandbox Adventure Park, Enchanted Kingdom, a White Water Rafting adventure, and a resort stay in Samal Island.

For more of Smart Bro’s awesome offers, visit www.smart.com.ph/bro and follow Smart’s official accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@LiveSmart).

Photos are provided by Rhonson Ng.

* * * *

New Breed of Amihan Team © Jojie Alcantara

Mati’s new breed of Amihan Team

[Tweet “Mati’s new breed of Amihan Team”]

Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (see published print in SunStar Davao below, February 24. 2016)

The new Amihan Team is composed of 27 young boys and girls who are being honed by the same trainor and father figure responsible for producing champs in the first batch of the Amihan Boys. These are the young local skimboarders in my beloved birthplace of Mati, Davao Oriental.

Amihan kids meet the waves with high energy © Jojie Alcantara

Amihan kids meet the waves with high energy © Jojie Alcantara

George Plaza, “Bochok” or “Kuya Jun” to loved ones and friends, is the founder of the original Amihan Team which has been featured in national papers and international magazines, thanks to his perseverance, love and strict discipline culled from his years in the seminary. I have featured the young champs way back in 2007 in Mabuhay Magazine, and have also highlighted the booming white shorelines of Dahican Beach.

Amihan kids at sunrise by Jojie Alcantara

Amihan kids at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

Having trained the former skimboarders who have grown into champs and moved on to find work elsewhere, Bochok aims to teach these new young kids to prioritize their studies, respect their parents, finish early morning chores before concentrating on their favorite water sports. Being involved in drugs and drinking will automatically kick one off the team, regardless of his skills.

Four year old Julian Sacedor is the youngest future skimboarding champ © Jojie Alcantara

Four year old Julian Sacedor is the youngest future skimboarding champ © Jojie Alcantara

The word amihan refers to the season dominated by the trade winds in Philippines, producing a cool northeast wind from September or October and ends in May or June, which varies annually. During the said season, good waves abound for surfing and skimming on the beach.

Amihan kids waiting for the waves at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

Amihan kids waiting for the waves at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

 

Dahican, now a popular skimboarding destination, is an extended strip of stunning white beach lined with coconut trees, facing sparkling turquoise waters that ebb and flow wildly into the Pacific, inviting adventurous beach fanatics to swim, surf, skim, paddleboard or kayak in glee. Its white shoreline is also blessed with the habitat of endangered sea turtles (pawikan). Sightings of dolphins and sea cows (dugongs) crossing the waters happen on regular occasions if you are lucky to chance upon them.

 

Dawn groufie by Jojie Alcantara

Dawn groufie © Jojie Alcantara | Fuji XA2 with tripod and timer

 

Skimboarder at sunrise by Jojie Alcantara

Skimboarder at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

 

One early dawn, I waited for my beautiful sunrise while waiting for the young kids to come out for their morning exercise. We were still shivering from the chill at 5am.

 

Jojie gives the kids each a souvenir print from her Fuji Instax camera © Jojie Alcantara

Jojie gives each a souvenir print from her Fuji Instax camera © Jojie Alcantara

 

Jojie gives the kids each a souvenir print from her Fuji Instax

Jojie gives each kid a souvenir print from her Fuji Instax

The kids enjoyed posing for me as I gave them a souvenir Fuji Instax print each for their keepsakes.  The youngest one particularly caught my attention, cute little Justin Sacedor, who at four, is confidently skimming the waves along with his older brother Longlong and sister Isobel.

Four year old Julian Sacedor © Jojie Alcantara

Four year old Julian Sacedor © Jojie Alcantara

Hopefully these new breed of Amihan team will again bring back pride to Mati by collecting more championship trophies in regional, national and international skimboarding competitions. Bochok insists, however, that their schooling should come first.

The New Amihan Team © Jojie Alcantara

The New Amihan Team © Jojie Alcantara

My article published in SunStar Davao on February 24. 2016

New Breed of Amihan Team by Jojie Alcantara | Published in SunStar Davao February 24. 2016

New Breed of Amihan Team by Jojie Alcantara | Published in SunStar Davao February 24. 2016 New Breed of Amihan Team by Jojie Alcantara

Cebu Pacific Air’s Smile Magazine June issue features Davao region

Smile Magazine June 2015 photos by Rhonson Ng and Jojie Alcantara

Smile Magazine June 2015 photos by Rhonson Ng and Jojie Alcantara

 

[Tweet “Cebu Pacific Air’s Smile Magazine features Davao region XI on its June 2015 issue”]

While its cover title says, “How now Davao? Why Mindanao’s crown-jewel region is riding a fresh wave of popularity“, the photo is of the pristine Dahican beach which is in my birthplace of Mati City.  Though not mentioned in the title, the feature story is inside (cover photo not mine).

 

Smile Magazine June 2015 cover featuring Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

Smile Magazine June 2015 cover featuring Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

 

Here is another photo of the beachscape I grew up in, which used to be empty and undiscovered. Now it’s quite a popular hangout for beach bums, surfers and celebrities in hiding.  Resorts are now filling up the shorelines.

 

Smile Magazine June 2015 Mati feature photo by Jenny Penas

Smile Magazine June 2015 Mati feature photo by Jenny Penas

 

Inside main photos of the Davao story are by me and Rhonson Ng.  These images are also on framed displays inside Museo Dabawenyo  (San Pedro Cathedral, Monument of Peace and Unity, Sangguniang Panglungsod Building and night shot of San Pedro Street).  Feature story is written by Jonathan Evans.

 

Smile Magazine June 2015 San Pedro Cathedral and Monument of Peace and Unity photo by Rhonson Ng

Smile Magazine June 2015 San Pedro Cathedral and Monument of Peace and Unity photo by Rhonson Ng

 

 

Smile Magazine June 2015 San Pedro Street photo by Jojie Alcantara

Smile Magazine June 2015 San Pedro Street photo by Jojie Alcantara

Samal: Tripping with Tridacna

Tridacna Tours in Adecor Kaputian Samal by Jojie Alcantara

Tridacna Tours in Adecor Kaputian Samal by Jojie Alcantara

 

Samal: Tripping with Tridacna
(By Jojie Alcantara – published in SunStar Davao and M Magazine, photos also featured in Manila Bulletin,  and Silkwinds Magazine)

It was easier to change the title to “Swimming with Tridacna” but I had to be honest, I didn’t take a dip in the waters. Plus, you may be wondering what in tridacna are we talking about.

Tridacna is a genus of large saltwater clams, marine bivalve mollusks in the subfamily Tridacninae, the giant clams. Unfortunately, the global conservation status is listed as Vulnerable in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. All species of giant clams are listed in CITES (Convention on Inernational Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna). cIn the Philippines, it is locally known as “taklobo”.

 

DNSC Marine Reserve Park by Jojie Alcantara

DNSC Marine Reserve Park © Jojie Alcantara

 

The Davao del Norte State College (DNSC) in Panabo City was awarded the 2010 CHED (Commission on Higher Education) Best Regional Extension Award for its biodiversity and environment project, “Development Interventions in the Island Garden of Samal”, which revolves around livelihood, cooperatives and harnessing community involvement in marine and environment protection. A program component is a CHED-funded project on the Conservation of the Endangered Giant Clams: A Strategy for Environmental Protection under Save Our Shore (SOS) Program.

 

Measuring the tridacna by Jojie Alcantara

Measuring the tridacna © Jojie Alcantara

 

The University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) is distributing hatchery-produced giant clam juveniles to various parts of the Philippines in efforts to save and enhance the stocks of this endangered species. As a recipient of the UP-MSI Giant Clam Stock Enhancement Program in 2001, DNSC in collaboration with UP MSI has successfully protected 5 species of endangered giant clams and other marine species, making the Marine Reserved Park a home of more than 3,000 giant clams. It is identified as one of the learning and tourist sites in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS).

 

DNSC Marine Reserve Park by Jojie Alcantara

DNSC Marine Reserve Park © Jojie Alcantara

 

The DNSC, LGU-IGaCoS and BLGU-Adecor jointly pool resources for a conservation and livelihood project for Adecor United Fisherfolk Organization (ADuFOr). The project aims to promote the outcome of a marine protected area (MPA) in the conservation of endangered species and enhance the income of local communities through advocacy, tourism and community participation. The farming of giant clams is foreseen as means of promoting biological sustainability and maintaining biodiversity.

Four species of giant clams, Tridacna gigas, T. squamosa, T. derasa and H. hippopus were transplanted in the 14-hectare Marine Reserve in Barangay Adecor, Kaputian District of Samal Island, one among the program’s successful sites.  The site is a marine protected area recovering from illegal and overfishing practices.  The DNSC Marine Reserve Park has now become part of the tourism package of Visit Samal Tours.

Tridacna Eco-Tours had a grand launch on February 2013 (after a MOA was signed on Tridacna Tours Project in July 18, 2012, funded by CHED, amounting to P1.3 M).

 

Tridacna Tours Project in Samal © Jojie Alcantara

Tridacna Tours Project in Samal © Jojie Alcantara

 

The tourism entrance fee of Php75 excluding boat fare shall be used to sustain the project and offer income to key players, AdUFOr and Fisherfolk tour guides; as well as development fund to supporting institutions, DNSC, LGU-IGaCoS and BLGU-Adecor. The project demonstrates the benefits from marine protected areas that provide equity for both environmental protection and socio-economic development.

Now thriving at a depth of about 15 to 20 feet, these fascinating creatures have a lot to teach us. Giant clams are restricted to shallow, well-illuminated waters of coral reefs. They require clean, clear water of oceanic salinity. There is an increasing interest in these endangered species among local and international tourists because only a number of them are found in the wild.  I have only seen these clams up close in Dinagat Islands and in Palau’s Clam City back in 2006.  In Samal, it was fascinating to see rows of them all lined up like a cabbage patch garden underwater.

 

Jojie with Ian and ABS-CBN MagTV Crew © Jojie Alcantara

Jojie with Ian and ABS-CBN MagTV Crew

 

Last April, 30 tourists from ASEAN nations toured the Tridacna Sanctuary as part of the tour of participants in the ASEAN Climate Change and Tourism Protocol Development Workshop held in Davao City. Dr. Girley S. Gumanao, Research Director, personally gave an orientation while locals of Adecor provided tour guiding, and LGU-IGaCos provided boats.

I have read that giant clams play an important role in the ecology of the reef.  Clam seeding is good for the marine ecosystem, and reseeding activities provide an upsurge in fish density and biodiversity in seeding sites, even before the clams have reached sexual maturity.  Interestingly, clams become male mature at the age of 8 years and become female mature by 10. At which time they become hermaphrodites, producing both female eggs and male sperms.

 

Tridacna Tours Project in Samal © Jojie Alcantara

Tridacna Tours Project in Samal © Jojie Alcantara

 

Mass spawning of clams releases millions of eggs and sperm in the waters, triggering a feeding frenzy and providing nourishment to thousands of tiny fish and organisms in a reef area, thereby attracting bigger fishes that seek clam meat. Studies and experiments reveal that putting both live and dead clam shells in the reef also entice fishes. With the shell being organic, fish, algae and other organisms will attach to it and take residence, a more effective reef enhancement technique than materials used for artificial reefs. Small fish, shrimps, snails, nudibranchs, sea slugs and urchins are known to be grazing on the outer shells. This contribution to a healthy reef ecosystem has great implications to our country’s fisheries and food security.

 

Me with ABS-CBN Crew

Me with ABS-CBN Crew

 

Be warned, however. In the Republic Act 8550 of the Philippine Fisheries Code, Section 97 states the Fishing or Taking of Rare, Threatened or Endangered Species, that “it shall be unlawful to fish or take rare, threatened or endangered species as listed in the CITES and as determined by the Department. Violation of the provision of this section shall be punished by imprisonment of twelve years to twenty years and/or a fine of one hundred and twenty thousand pesos (P120,000.00) and forfeiture of the catch, and the cancellation of fishing permit.”

Interested parties on the Tridacna Tours may contact Adecor United Fisherfolk Organization (0930-272-3748), City Tourism Office of Samal (0917-311-1521) or Davao del Norte State College (0930-272-3801).  Thank you DOT XI, for the tour as we jumped off from Punta del Sol Resort to a 10-minute boat ride to the marine park.

By the way, my title says “Tripping with Tridacna”, not tripping over them.

 

 My BFF Ian Garcia with TV Crew © Jojie Alcantara

My BFF Ian Garcia with TV Crew © Jojie Alcantara

 

 

Article published in SunStar Davao by Jojie Alcantara on May, 2013

Article published in SunStar Davao by Jojie Alcantara on May, 2013

 

Samal feature in Silkwinds Magazine July 2015, photos by Jojie Alcantara

Samal feature in Silkwinds Magazine July 2015, photos by Jojie Alcantara

PLDT Home and Smart bring you “Entertainment Everywhere” with iflix

PLDT HOME and Smart let you experience entertainment everywhere with PH’s largest library of movies and TV series with iflix

iFLIX

Three industry leaders teamed up to bring “Entertainment Everywhere” to millions of digitally connected Filipinos. PLDT HOME, Smart and iFLIX recently announced their partnership for content streaming of the Philippines’ largest library of movies and TV shows. In photo during the grand launch are (front row, from left): iflix Group COO and iflix Malaysia CEO Azran Osman-Rani, Glee star Heather Morris, PLDT Group Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan and PLDT EVP and Consumer Business Group Head Ariel P. Fermin; and (back row, from left): iflix Group Chief Content Officer James Bridges, iflix Philippines Country Manager Sherwin dela Cruz and iflix Group Chief Technology Officer Ash Crick.

 

Enter the no-TV-zone that lets you watch what you want when you want in just two clicks with iflix, country’s biggest library of video on demand content to partner with the country’s biggest multimedia networks PLDT HOME and Smart.

The Philippine launch of iflix comes at spot-on timing since it recently secured topline content deals with giant Hollywood studios The Walt Disney Company, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution (Fox), BBC Worldwide (BBC) and Warner Bros. International Television Distribution (Warner Bros.).

 

Top models Joey Mead-King (left) and Jason Godfrey (right) hosted the night’s affairs.

Top models Joey Mead-King (left) and Jason Godfrey (right) hosted the night’s affairs.

 

This means that on top of existing over 11,000 hours of TV serial titles and updated catalogue of Hollywood, European and Asian releases, shows like “Sherlock”, “Doctor Who”, “Homeland” and “The Big Bang Theory” are now part of iflix’s growing library.

For movies, iflix beefs up its Hollywood selection with action blockbusters like “Star Trek”, “Batman Begins” and “Green Lantern”, among thousands of other choices.

 

Binibining Pilipinas beauties led by Miss Universe Philippines 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (second from right).

Binibining Pilipinas beauties led by Miss Universe Philippines 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (second from right).

 

PLDT HOME and Smart welcome the addition of iflix as part of its ever-expanding entertainment ensemble. “This is literally entertainment everywhere. With all of these titles bannered under PLDT HOME and Smart’s power-packed lineup of reliable Internet services for families and individuals, your choice of entertainment device deserves its own star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” rationalized PLDT EVP and Consumer Business Group Head Ariel P. Fermin.

 

Child actor turned international DJ Tom Taus provided the night’s music.

Child actor turned international DJ Tom Taus provided the night’s music.

 

“You already have the device that has the capability to showcase your guilty viewing pleasures—whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, laptop, desktop computers and even TV screens. All you need is that one movie, that particular episode or even an entire season that you’ve had on your must-watch list. From small escapes like whenever you’re stuck in traffic, to binge-watching rare moments when time is on your side, subscribers now have the access to the widest library of entertainment content with iflix. It gets so much better because you are able to gain access to these titles through PLDT HOME and Smart’s strongest and largest multimedia platforms wherever you are in the Philippines,” explained Fermin.

 

Actress, model and singer Solenn Heussaff joined the night’s festivities.

Actress, model and singer Solenn Heussaff joined the night’s festivities.

 

Meanwhile, iflix chairman Patrick Grove raved over this exclusive big-gun partnership move with PLDT and Smart by saying: “In PLDT we have found a like-minded partner who is committed to changing the way entertainment content is consumed in the region. We look forward to building an extraordinary business in the Philippines together.”

Grove added, “We are extremely proud to have come together with the largest telecommunications company in the Philippines and, indeed, one of the region’s leading companies, to offer iflix to PLDT’s enormous customer base. With well over 75 million Filipinos communicating and being entertained using PLDT services, they are the absolute perfect partner for iflix in the Philippines.

 

From left: Red carpet host Bianca Valerio, socialite siblings Ruffa and Raymond Gutierrez, iflix Chairman Patrick Grove and singer and TV personality Karylle Yuzon.

From left: Red carpet host Bianca Valerio, socialite siblings Ruffa and Raymond Gutierrez, iflix Chairman Patrick Grove and singer and TV personality Karylle Yuzon.

 

Access granted

Iflix also eliminates streaming setbacks because it’s available through PLDT and Smart. The service also liberates users from incompatible streaming due to regional conflicts.

For entertainment everywhere, register an account via www.iflix.com and instantly enjoy a complimentary 14-day trial of the service. Once the trial expires, PLDT Home and Smart users will be able to subscribe to the P99 per month package through the iflix website.

For PLDT HOME subscribers, iflix is available via TVolution Trio Plan 1599 inclusive of a TVolution kit, unlimited DSL and unlimited access to iflix. Existing users of PLDT Home DSL and PLDT Home Ultera can get iflix as an add-on option on top of their monthly fees for only P99 per month, while it comes free with PLDT HOME Fibr and PLDT HOME Telpad plans.

On the other hand, Smart subscribers may now bring entertainment anywhere for P99 a month, charged to their prepaid loads or on top of their postpaid accounts. No credit card required!

Apart from the Philippines, iflix will soon be available in other countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Thailand and Tokyo. The iflix app is also downloadable via Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. To know more on how to subscribe to iflix with your PLDT HOME or Smart account, log on to www.pldthome.com or www.smart.com.ph.

Davao in Singapore’s Silkwinds Magazine, April 2014

Silkwinds April 2014 Cover of Boracay by Jojie Alcantara

Silkwinds April 2014 Cover of Boracay by Jojie Alcantara

 

This is my cover photo of aerial Boracay waters in April 2014 issue of Silkwinds, the inflight magazine of SilkAir (Regional Wing of Singapore Airlines). I shot the fishermen and boat from a helicopter over Boracay.  This is my second aerial photo on cover of an international airline magazine.  🙂 Read More

The Best of the Best Philippines book launch

The Best of the Best Philippines book launch
(by Jojie Alcantara)

Launched last April 10 at the Tapas Bar of the Makati Shangri-La Manila hotel, the first travel coffee table book of its kind with a quirky and confident title of The Best of the Best of the Philippines was eagerly awaited by guests when it was finally unveiled to the public. Read More

Come to Davao!

Smile Magazine May 2014 photo by Jojie Alcantara

Smile CebPac May 2014 photo by Jojie Alcantara

SMILE Magazine of Cebu Pacific Air showcases my beloved city of Davao in a page, represented by two most familiar landmarks in the heart of downtown area (inside page, cover not included). On the left is San Pedro Cathedral where my Mom and Dad had gotten married back in the late 60s. In front of the prominent church is the Commemorative Monument of Peace and Unity.

This photo used to be published in a passport size box along with other fast facts on flight destinations. On this May issue of Smile, it was given more than half a page (with notes from a writer).

Come visit Davao City now!Davao City in Cebu Pacific Smile Magazine

Beyond Beauty: Unilever names 30 Beyond Beautiful Women of Mindanao

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” – Mandy Hale

Read More

It’s More Fun in the Philippines

DOT’s It’s More Fun in the Philippines Campaign

Just sharing our photos in DOT’s tourism campaign of the country’s regions in It’s More Fun in the Philippines. Visit the official website here

Photos by Rhonson Ng and Jojie Alcantara

 

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum

[Tweet “Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum”]

The new state of the art museum built by Davao Oriental Provincial Governor Cora Malanyaon, Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum, opens to the public on January 8, 2014 in the Provincial Tourism Complex, Mati City.

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Interactive Forest in Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Interactive Forest in Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Subangan will showcase a fascinating cultural heritage and rich ecosystem of the province. It is also home to DAVOR, the sperm whale that first beached on the shores of Gov. Generoso on June 2010, and was given such an affectionate name by Governor Cora.

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

A memorial and a symbol of the rich biodiversity of our seas, the gentle giant was approximately 53 feet in length, the 7th in terms of size in the World List (the largest on record is 59 feet and died in 1937).

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Truly an animal of extremes, this amazing cetacean has the largest brain and the longest intestine on the planet. DAVOR’s immense skeletal display which took years to assemble and transport (almost complete except for the teeth, one fin and an eardrum) has finally found a resting place in Subangan.

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

Subangan Davao Oriental Provincial Museum © Jojie Alcantara

* * * *

 

SM Lanang Premier Musical Fountain

SM Lanang Premier Musical Fountain © Jojie Alcantara 2013

This night shot was for an advertorial in Philippine Airlines’ inflight Mabuhay Magazine.  I was commissioned by SM Malls to do the layout spread for the international magazine.

The Fountain Court is a two-level strip of fine dining restaurants with a spectacular view of this 122-meter musical fountain, the first of its kind in Davao and Mindanao and the longest in the country. It stages a Waterworks Show, a water and light show that runs daily at the Fountain Court and has become the mall’s regular attraction.

Fountain at SM Lanang Davao © Jojie Alcantara

Fountain at SM Lanang Davao © Jojie Alcantara

At night, friends and families come over to hang out in the breezy garden area and watch the dancing fountain play every hour.  Children scoot around dancing with the music while older ones just chill out by the stairs which double as viewing seats.  Most of them whip out cellphones and cameras for colorful shots of the amazing spectacle which, according to my Mom whom I often bring here, makes one forget the stress of the day. 🙂

Davao City Hall © Jojie Alcantara

Historic Davao City Hall (built 1926)

The local government building was built as a municipal hall by the American government in 1926, eleven years before the place was declared as a chartered city by then President Manuel L. Quezon in 1937.

DID YOU KNOW? Davao's local government building was built as a municipal hall by the American government in 1926, eleven years before the place was declared as a chartered city by then President Manuel L. Quezon in 1937. #DavaoNow… Click To Tweet
Davao City Hall © Jojie Alcantara

Davao City Hall © Jojie Alcantara

Depicting the American architecture in the 1920s, the Davao City Hall was the latest infrastructure in the country declared as a historical site in 2012, with the unveiling rites of a marker by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Ludivico Badoy, chair of the National Historical Commission.

Davao City Hall © Jojie Alcantara

Davao City Hall © Jojie Alcantara

These shots were taken during my street photography workshop with Davao Bloggers last June 8, 2013.

One beautiful sunrise I was lucky to have captured

Of golden sunrise and statues in the Baywalk

One spectacular sunrise in 2010 © Jojie Alcantara

[Tweet “Of golden sunrise and statues in the Baywalk by Jojie Alcantara”]

I grew up playing and swimming in the black sandy shore of Times Beach in Matina decades ago.  It is Davao’s public beach.

Morning has broken in Baywalk, Times Beach © Jojie Alcantara

Morning has broken in Baywalk, Times Beach (Oct. 2011) © Jojie Alcantara

Back then, it was a lot cleaner.  Many families I know used to spend wonderful picnics there.  As the population grew, my family stopped making it our weekend outing in the mid-90s.  The shore became congested with people, trash and pollution (including bathing dogs and horses).  A growing community of houses were built.  A few years back, the resort and homeowners made a move to clean up and revive the old popularity of Times Beach, trying to restore its old glory.

 

Baywalk at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

Baywalk at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

 

A portion called Baywalk was constructed by the family who owns Queensland, a popular motel by the sea.  There  used to be this infamous seawall where a young crowd  would hang out in parked cars and blared music, leaving bottles of beer littered around (that once “young crowd” must now be parents with beer bellies).

 

Golden David at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

Golden David at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara

 

The Baywalk is now transformed into a clean park with manicured gardens, a mini zoo and a shark pool (am not sure if there are any left now).  At dawn, there used to be an aerobics class going on.  Here joggers, pregnant women, families spend time around the place to walk, run, fish, exercise, eat and drink and just watch the sunset without swimming. I haven’t been here for quite some time.  I was told that some of the massage therapists from San Pedro and Rizal Park now hang out there.

 

Little Mermaid replica in Baywalk Davao © Jojie Alcantara

Little Mermaid replica in Baywalk Davao © Jojie Alcantara

 

Two famous replicas of statues were built: the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen looking forlornly out at sea;  and the other more controversial nude Statue of David.  When it was first erected (pardon the pun), conservative folks reacted to the owner having the “balls” to build the structure (more pun coming ahead), deeming it an affront to the senses.  There was a huge protest over a dong.

 

Statue of David replica in Davao Baywalk © Jojie Alcantara

Statue of David replica in Davao Baywalk © Jojie Alcantara

[Tweet “Behold… the great balls of fire! “]

Sorry, that was a momentary glitch.  Where was I?

The hoopla has died down by now, and the initial shock went “limp” (I can’t help it!).  Today,  David’s still hanging by his balls soaked in the golden shower splendor of the sun.  I think the fountains by the pool are still working.  While it has initially been met with resistance,  it is now a popular tourist attraction with lots of selfie done below the belt… so much ado over David’s Goliath.

I used to frequent this place whenever I have the urge to get some beautiful daybreak.  Sunrise never disappoints me here.  They were almost always beautiful.  Other times, they were spectacular.

More images of sunrise in Baywalk (October 2011)  :

 

Sunrise in Baywalk © Jojie Alcantara 2011

Sunrise in Baywalk © Jojie Alcantara 2011

 

 

Little Mermaid replica at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara 2011

A lonely Little Mermaid replica at sunrise © Jojie Alcantara 2011

 

There is more in my other photo gallery, if you are interested.

“Here Comes the Sun” series,2009

My Birthday Sunrise, 2009

Baywalk, Times Beach Sunrise, 2011

Enjoying Davao on a budget

Enjoying Davao on a budget
(published in November issue of Cebu Pacific’s SMILE Magazine, Shoestring Diaries)

Discover all that Davao has to offer without breaking the bank.  Jojie Alcantara gives us a guide to time-crunching and penny-pinching in the southern city.

Smile Inflight Magazine, Nov. 2011

Smile Inflight Magazine, Nov. 2011

View large pages here

ACCORDING TO statistics, Davao City — at 2,443km² or 244,300 hectares — is the largest city in the country and the rest of the world in terms of land area.

So how do you cover such a large sprawl with limited time and without emptying your pockets? Tagged by local tourism authorities as the “Island to Highland Destination,” Davao has a variety of things to offer — and the best way to get the most for less is to spend the day as I did: with a plan, and a mind open to welcome detours.

Day 1

Be a culture vulture
First rule of touring Davao: keep your itinerary flexible, and be prepared for a change of plans at any time. But when the day is bright and the weather is mild, grab the chance to walk the city and see what it has to offer.

I recommend getting a better understanding of the people and the local heritage for a start. Davao is an interesting melting pot of indigenous cultures (it has 11 recognized colorful tribes), so Museo Dabawenyo, which showcases the city’s history and artistic life, is top on my list (open 1pm–6pm daily except Mondays and special holidays; admission is free).

San Pedro Cathedral by Rhonson Ng

San Pedro Cathedral by Rhonson Ng

Just a short walking distance away is Osmeña Park, where people hang around to play chess, discuss religion, and have an al fresco back massage (PHP75). A two-minute walk further is the imposing San Pedro Cathedral. Built in 1847 by the Spanish conquistador Don Jose Oyanguren, who later became the first governor of Davao region, it is the oldest church in the city.

Across the cathedral is the Sangguniang Panglungsod Building with the Monument of Peace and Unity right between them. I passed by the City Hall building on my way to Jaltan Restaurant for a lovely meal of dinuguan with puto, sapin-sapin and fresh lumpia (PHP150).

A jeepney ride (PHP8) took me to People’s Park, which features a mini- forest, an interactive fountain, waterfalls and ponds, a children’s fantasy park, a sunken garden, and large sculptures of local kids as well as the Philippine eagle. A prominent attraction is the durian- shaped dome where people love to hang out until the evening.

A short distance from the park is the Sampaguita Tourist Inn, where I booked a two-night stay (PHP600). Dinner was also just a walking distance away at Dimsum Diner along Ilustre Street (toppings, siomai and tea, PHP150).

Shoestring budget for Day 1: PHP983

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

Day 2

Art and animals
I took a late breakfast at the hotel, then a taxi (PHP55) to Ponce Suites Gallery Hotel to check out the works of Davao’s pride, artist Kublai Milan, a prolific sculptor, painter and photographer (and my first mentor!). The hotel displays a number of Milan’s early and recent paintings on every wall of every floor, as well as art installations of found objects.

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

After the hotel tour, I grabbed a strawberry shake (PHP90) at Kublai’s Café, and rushed off for a quick photo op with a huge sculpture for which I had modeled for him years ago — a woman entwined in the arms of a naked tree man with branches as arms and kids hanging all over.

My face on the sculpture created by Kublai Millan

My face on the sculpture created by Kublai Millan

A tricycle (PHP5) took me to nearby Victoria Plaza where I ordered my favorite grilled pork chop with rice (PHP200) at Basti’s Brew, another homegrown coffee bar with free Wi-Fi.

I took another cab ride (PHP120), this time to Crocodile Park (www.psdgroupph.com ), to snap photos of exotic animals, two full-grown tigers, and a chimpanzee. No trip to the park is complete without a snapshot of the 18ft Pangil, the country’s largest croc in captivity before Lolong, the 21-footer from Agusan, came along.

After taking more photos of the park’s Butterfly Sanctuary, I headed back downtown in a cab for dinner at Majid’s Kebab, owned by my good friend Majid. Majid is Iranian but has lived in Davao for several years now, right after his Hollywood fighting stint with Chuck Norris, and after a spell acting as the bad guy opposite FPJ in Philippine movies. Eating a full dinner of beef kebab and chicken biryani (PHP113) made me feel sleepy and content. After taking a peek at Promenade, the party place right across Majid’s, I took a short walk back to the inn for an early trip to dreamland.

Shoestring budget for day2: PHP583

Smile Inflight Magazine Nov issue

Smile Inflight Magazine Nov issue

Day 3

Shop non-stop!
As it was the last day of my budget tour, I took the jeep (PHP8) to Aldevinco, the first shopping center in Davao (inaugurated in 1965). Located along C.M. Recto Street, it is right in front of Marco Polo Hotel downtown.

Aldevinco is more popularly known as a rich one-stop shop of Mindanaoan heritage and cultural diversity. Tourists are regularly brought to this treasure trove where pasalubongs abound, from native products, ethnic woven batiks, tinalak, bags, malongs, elegant antiques, brassware, household décor, jewelry and South Sea pearls of different colors. All this on top of imported textiles from Asia. Moneychangers are everywhere too. (My go-to place is called Al Shizamin Store.) At Aldevinco, there are over 100 shops to choose from and to happily haggle (“tawad”) with.

Here I indulged in a trinket (PHP30), a souvenir Davao shirt (PHP120), an ethnic colored veil (PHP75), and a silky blouse made in Pakistan (PHP230).

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

Across nearby Marco Polo Hotel, I ducked into the spacious City Triangle with its large selection of food outlets for a quick meal. The food mall is filled with students from nearby Ateneo de Davao enjoying the cheap eats from various stalls. Mine totaled PHP60.

For dessert, I strolled over to Madrazo Fruit Stand, where I bought durian in season (PHP60) and durian candy bars (PHP45). Other fruits on display were the sweet pomelo, marang, green and yellow mango, and the elusive mangosteen. Suitably satisfied, I went back to my home in Matina (PHP55), and continued living the good and cheap life in Davao. Some people like to call it one of the most livable cities in the country, and it only takes three days to know why.

Shoestring budget for day 3: PHP675

TOTAL SHOESTRING BUDGET:
PHP2,241

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

Smile Inflight Mag Nov Issue

The Shoestring Traveler: Jojie Alcantara

Her motto
“It’s great to have a plan of action, but make room for more possibilities. The best memories often come from the unexpected.”

Her mission
To explore Davao City’s wide-ranging and varied attractions in 72 hours with less than PHP3,000.

TRAVELING ON THE CHEAP?

You’ll be glad to know that…
1. On a lazy day, you can lounge at Davao’s Wi-Fi-ready coffee shops such as Bo’s Coffee, Basti’s Brew, Coffee Dream, BluGre Café, Fagioli, Firenzo, SouthBrew Express, Kangaroo Coffee, Yellow Haus and many more.

2. You can try durian in ice cream, cake or coffee form in various restaurants and coffee shops. Or have the fruit itself in one of the stalls on Magsaysay Road. You can’t take it into the hotel or on the plane, unless it’s in a tightly sealed box.

3. Davao City is typhoon-free. But it does rain cats and dogs during wet season, so bring the necessary gear.

4. Frozen tuna is available to take back home to family and friends. Get frozen seafood delicacies from Marina Tuna, Sarangani Bay Prime Bangus, and Palaisdaan at Iba Pa.

* * * *

April 2011 Mabuhay Magazine Issue

Davao’s Perfect 10

“Davao’s Perfect 10” is an article written by Mabuhay Magazine editor-in-chief  Jun Ventura back in 2011 (president of Eastgate Publishing Corporation), describing our beloved city as thus:

Davao feature in Mabuhay Magazine April 2011 issue

Davao feature in Mabuhay Magazine April 2011 issue

So I share with you the pages of the feature article published with my partner’s (Rhonson Ng) photos.  Two of his three cover photos are of Davao (both Mount Apo shots) published in Mabuhay Magazine in the past.

P40-P48 Davao in Mabuhay Magazine Mt, Apo peak sunrise photo by Rhonson Ng

P40-P48 Davao in Mabuhay Magazine Mt, Apo peak sunrise photo by Rhonson Ng

 

Eden Resort, wildwater rafting and Zip City by Rhonson Ng

Eden Resort, wildwater rafting and Zip City by Rhonson Ng

 

Oboza old mansion photos by Jun Ventura

Oboza old mansion photos by Jun Ventura

 

Paseo de Legaspi, fruitstand and Paradise Island Resort by Rhonson Ng

Paseo de Legaspi, fruitstand and Paradise Island Resort by Rhonson Ng

 

Marco Polo Hotel photo by Raf Dominguez

Marco Polo Hotel photo by Raf Dominguez

The SueBucks Memento experience

Ms. Sue Ang, a businesswoman in her early 40s, loved collecting cute stuff since she was a kid.  As she grew up her passion for collecting also expanded, until she has accumulated close to a thousand items!

Sue Ang welcomes you to her Hello Kitty world

So what is a collector to do with her growing collection?  Sue decided to open a private gallery filled with her precious goodies in 2016.

The SueBucks Memento is a house filled with a delightful assortment of Hello Kitty toys in one room, and a Starbucks-filled variety in another room. Click To Tweet

Sue Ang with Starbucks employees in 2016

The SueBucks Memento is a house filled with a delightful assortment of Hello Kitty toys in one room, and a Starbucks-filled variety in another room. Still in another empty room, she is currently setting up for her latest love:  the Sylvanian Families which she fell in love with in November 2014.

SueBucks Memento Starbucks room 3

The most difficult challenge she has faced was when budget was tight and the items she was looking for were so rare or limited that she had to find ways to get them.  So how did she get the rarest finds in her Lego, Starbucks Global Icon Mugs (Corfu and Seville) and HardRock bottle opener magnets?

“Through the help of friends around the world,” she responded. “I believe it it’s meant for you, it will just come.”

One of her rare Hello Kitty items

Robotic Hello Kitty and Lego Kitty

Her most memorable Hello Kitty item was a plane set given by her parents as a surprise birthday gift. She was touched by the gesture.  Another memorable gift from a friend was a Robotic Hello Kitty from Singapore.  Many times she would receive items from friends all over who are as excited to help add to her collection.

Sue with fellow collector friends in Singapore

The fun part is meeting other colleagues around the world, like the time she had a meet up with fellow collectors in Singapore.

Rare Spain city Seville Icon Series Mug (2008) that was discontinued abruptly and replaced with the real name Sevilla. On ebay, an authentic one costs more than a thousand dollars.

Does she sell some of her items? — only when she has a spare.  The most expensive stuff she has sold were Starbucks icon mugs because collectors want to have them even if they were costly. Today, she still has to complete her version 1 of the icon mugs, the very first designs that Starbucks made.

The idea of putting up one of their houses as a gallery for her collection was because it was growing so fast.

“It was my dream to build a museum someday,” she said. “And I wanted to show, share and inspire other people.” She plans to add more attraction and a food shop soon. Sue encourages wannabe collectors to be passionate and to follow their hearts’ desire. She also collects die cast cars, magnets, teaspoons and Jollibee toys.

Second batch of social media friends with Sue

 

The SueBucks Memento (along with her Hello Kitty World) is located in Santan Street, Mintal, Davao City and is open from 9am to 4pm.  Entrance to her private collection is P200 for adults and half for kids. You may contact her through sue_ang08@yahoo.com.

Published in SunStar Davao on July 31, 2019

Read my full story on “The SueBucks Memento Experience” published in SunStar Davao today, July 31, 2019. 

Me in the Hello Kitty Mirror

* * * *

Bioskin launches Green Earth Movement

The Green Earth Movement (GEM) is a small but growing crusade in an effort to heal our relationship with Mother Earth, and this was initiated by a Davao born corporation called Bioskin Group of Companies. It is a call to the company’s partners and stakeholders to help make our planet cleaner and healthier again starting with small steps.

Bioskin’s cleanup started in its own backyard where the company evaluated its corporate mission and vision, overhauling its manufacturing processes and ethics to reposition itself in the market as a true environmental advocate. This was strictly implemented by owners Gerry and Maria Victoria Evangelista who started the environmental campaign of Bioskin.

A brief introduction of GEM by Chief Executive Officer and GEM Board Member Victoria Evangelista.

 

The Green Earth Movement (GEM) is a small but growing crusade in an effort to heal our relationship with Mother Earth, and this was initiated by a Davao born corporation called Bioskin Group of Companies. Click To Tweet

 

Awarding of Certificate of Appreciation to Ecoteneo as a Partner in the campaign

 

Throwaway containers were replaced by reusable flasks, green packaging took over the plastic bags and research for more organic ingredients was intensified.  Bioskin then forged alliances with other pro-life, pro-green organizations to push for its campaign.

 

Bioskin introduced its new product line totally aligned with the Green Earth Movement.  Marketed under B2B (business-to-business is an exchange of products, services or information between supportive enterprises), these product lines come in larger volumes for distribution to business establishments partnering with GEM.

 

Bioskin Coco line of products photo by Ronald Amonoy

 

“In our campaign, we use PET bottles and biodegradable packaging in all our products and reduce the use of single-use plastics. We encourage our customers to be one with our vision,” said Patricia Ocampo, Bioskin’s assistant marketing supervisor.

GEM becomes a partner in promoting the advocacy of using plant-based, natural, cruelty-free, FDA-approved products and recyclable materials in Bioskin’s daily operations.

 

Bioskin products are cruelty free

 

Inviting everyone to be a partner, Bioskin offers exclusive discounts and freebies (liquid soap dispensers, stickers and certificates identifying them as partners) and exposure to its social media network.  In order to become a certified member, however, you must commit to using eco-friendly products as well.

 

Bioskin owner Gerry Evangelista and staff with Miss Earth Southern Mindanao guests as a major sponsor

 

The Green Earth Movement was recently launched by Bioskin in partnership with Ecoteneo, an advocacy group for environmental protection and conservation of the Ateneo de Davao University. Opening remarks were said by Ecoteneo Director Carmela Marie Santos, followed by a brief introduction of GEM by Chief Executive Officer and GEM Board Member Victoria Evangelista.  She discussed how she has become a vegan when her health became an issue and what her company’s initiatives are to save the environment.

 

Darrell Blatchley, owner of D' Bone Collector Museum Inc. gave a short lecture on the effects of single-use plastic sachets to the environment. 

Darrell Blatchley, owner of D’ Bone Collector Museum Inc. gave a short lecture on the effects of single-use plastic sachets to the environment.

 

During the program, the Official Green Earth Movement AVP was also launched, followed by a talk on corporate social responsibility by Lianne Shem Alterado, Bioskin’s online community officer. Darrell Blatchley, owner of D’ Bone Collector Museum Inc. gave a short lecture on the effects of single-use plastic sachets to the environment.  After the signing of the Signature Poster Board by the participants, a certificate of appreciation was handed over to Ecoteneo as a partner in this campaign.

 

The signing of the Signature Poster Board

 

With branches nationwide from Davao, Cebu, Iloilo and Manila, Bioskin’s manufacturing plant is located at Darong, Sta Cruz, Davao del Sur.  It promotes vegan and high quality natural ingredients, and supports local farmers to help the Philippine economy. Learn more about the company and its advocacy in www.bioskinphilippines.com.

* * * *

Witerary by Jojie Alcantara for SunStar Davao
Program photos and company profile materials provided by GEM/Bioskin
Product, models and interior photos by Jojie Alcantara

“Alone/Together” premieres on Sky Pay-per-View

Click To Tweet

“Alone/Together,” the blockbuster comeback film of Kapamilya love team Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, airs on SKY Pay-Per-View starting July 13 to 31.

 

Antoinette Jadaone, the writer and director of the film admitted she had reservations if Liza and Enrique could deliver what she wanted from her characters. But after working with them, she said that the two will go a long way in showbiz.

“Alone/Together,” which grossed P370 million worldwide, is the fourth team-up of Liza and Enrique but it is their first film with Black Sheep targeting millennials.

The film centers on Christine (Liza) and Raf (Enrique), ex-college sweethearts who meet again after five years. Tin now works as the secretary of her boyfriend Gregory (Adrian Alandy), a busy businessman, while Raf is an emergency room physician who just received an award for his exemplary public service. See where their reunion takes them and if they will give their love story another shot despite having current relationships.

Catch “Alone/Together” plus bonus movies, “Kuya Wes,” “Pansamantagal,” and “Papa Pogi” in high definition on your TV or on any device via SKY On Demand. This movie bundle is available from July 13 to 31 for only P30 for a 5-day access. To subscribe, SKY Fiber and SKYcable subscribers may call 305-5456, text PPV <Account No.> to 23662 or visit mysky.com.ph/moviesppv. SKYdirect subscribers may text PPV ALONE <Box ID> to 23667 using Globe and TM or visit their nearest SKYdirect Dealers to activate their subscription.

Rhonson reaches Everest Base Camp at 17600 feet

Rhonson Ng: Climbing Everest Base Camp

Photographer and mountaineer Rhonson Ng sets out for his dream of conquering Everest Base Camp 2019 on his own. Read about his adventure. Click To Tweet

Witerary by Jojie Alcantara
Photos by Rhonson Ng

En route through a hanging bridg

En route through a hanging bridge

Professional photographer Rhonson Ng started his photography journey during his mountaineering days in college. Climbing the toughest mountains in the Philippines was a challenge.  Eventually he wanted to conquer the highest peak in the country, so he moved from Luzon to Davao to climb Mt. Apo.  He became the official photographer for the Department of Tourism Region XI, publishing shots of Mindanao’s peaks.

Meeting locals along the trail

Meeting locals along the trail

With his mountain adventures on covers of airline magazines, his next target was Malaysia’s highest mountain Mt. Kinabalu for an assignment in PAL’s Mabuhay Magazine.  The dream went further, and what prompted it was his young niece based in Australia who just reached Everest Base Camp in 2018.

Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar

“Two years ago I have set my mind for EBC2019 (Everest Base Camp).  I am not getting any younger and I want to enjoy the hike.  Seeing my niece make the climb urged me to push for my dream climb,” Rhonson said. He was also inspired by Bukidnon’s pride Carina Dayondon, the first Filipina to scale the Seven Summits, whom he recently bonded with during the Climb Camiguin campaign.

Rhonson on his way to Everest Base Camp

Rhonson on his way to Everest Base Camp

 

For his preparation early this year, he booked a guide named Pemba Sherpa who was well recommended by a good friend who has climbed EBC. He watched a lot of EBC climb videos on YouTube.  He then trained for two months of cardio training, uphill jogging and finally quit smoking.

Rhnson and his guide Pemba Sherpa

Rhnson and his guide Pemba Sherpa

His adventures started with a flight from Manila to Kathmandu, travel of five hours to Ramechapp, and another thirty minutes of harrowing flight in the world’s most dangerous airport, Lukla. Together with Pemba, they trekked towards Phakding, then Toktok for an overnight stay.

Guesthouse

Guesthouse

For several days, in between challenging treks, acclimatization (where you climb up to a point, but descend the trail back down again), avoiding a parade of Yaks which can dangerously kicked you off cliffs, meeting strange and interesting people, eating non-meat food along the way, craving for coffee, hot showers and warm blankets in guesthouses,  Rhonson and Pemba traveled from Toktok to Namche Bazaar, then to Kyangjuma (where he started to feel the dizzying effects of high altitude), to Pangboche, and to Dingboche at 4,260 meters (almost 14,000ft).

 

 

“At this point I can feel the elevation affecting my breathing and causing minor headaches. I’ve heard many stories of climbers getting airlifted due to altitude sickness,” he said. “The hardest part was not the trekking. The high altitude affects your sleeping, eating, and breathing. It was mentally challenging.”

 

Rhonson pushed on to Lobuche, his toughest trail, while battling the effects at 5,000 meters.  From Lobuche he passed by Gorak Shep, and instead of staying overnight, he pushed straight for base camp and back to Lobuche.

Rhonson at Everest Base Camp

Rhonson at Everest Base Camp

On Day 9 of April 28, 2019 at 11:30am, Rhonson has reached Everest Basecamp at 5380 meters (17,600ft).  It took him nine days of ascent and three days going down.

Rhonson reaches Everest Base Camp at 17600 feet

Rhonson reaches Everest Base Camp at 17600 feet

 

Having met interesting people along the way, and learning more on Hinduism and Buddhism, he urges fellow Pinoy avid mountaineers to climb EBC and appreciate the beauty of the mountains, but not to underestimate it.

Photo by Rhonson Ng

“High altitude climbing is way different and more dangerous than you think — one key is mental preparation and getting a very good guide.  Everest Basecamp is on top of every mountaineer’s bucket lists.  After 25 years, that dream was finally set with the help of family, friends here and abroad and my sponsors Fujifilm Philippines and MX3.  I was able to plan a 3-week journey to Nepal, and climb the basecamp of the highest mountain in the world.

Photo by Rhonson Ng

Photo by Rhonson Ng

As an advice to travelers, he said: “Continue to travel and share the experiences if you have the resources and time to do so.  Keep the adventure always alive in you.”

Yak caravan on the trail

Yak caravan on the trail

Everest peak with white caps fronted by Lhotse mountain

Everest peak with white caps fronted by Lhotse mountain

Rhonson Ng, EBC 2019

Rhonson Ng, EBC 2019

Published in SunStar Davao on July 10, 2019

 

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Pacquiao vies for WBA Super Welterweight Belt against Thurman

Catch it live via SKY Sports Pay-Per-View Pacquiao vies for WBA Super Welterweight Belt against Thurman Click To Tweet

Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao guns for another win in a major boxing bout as he challenges Keith Thurman for the WBA Super Welterweight World Championship this July 21 (Sunday) live via SKY Sports Pay-Per-View.

The reigning WBA (regular) Welterweight World Champion faces an opponent ten years his junior after successfully defeating Adrien Broner last January and Lucas Matthysse in the latter part of 2018. Pacquiao currently holds a boxing record of 61-7-2 with 39 wins coming via knockout.

On the other hand, Keith Thurman also known by the moniker, “One Time,” is coming from a majority decision win over Josesito Lopez. He owns an unblemished record of 30-0-0 with 22 wins via knockouts and one No Contest.

Local boxing analyst Ed Tolentino said in an interview by news.abs-cbn.com that the bout between Thurman and Pacquiao will be a good one, stating that Thurman is better than Broner.

One thing he is concerned about Thurman, though, is his health since this fight is only the American fighter’s second after being inactive for almost two years.

Don’t miss the eight division world champion as he returns to the MGM Grand this July 21. Subscribe now until June 30 to avail an early bird promo for only PHP 649 instead of Php 949.This promo is available to all digital SKYcable, SKY Fiber, and SKYdirect subscribers nationwide.

Subscribers to the fight on SKY Sports Pay-Per-View will have access to its live and commercial-free airing in high definition, including its replays on the same day right after the live event, as well as its livestream with a 7-day catch-up via SKY on Demand.

Call 305-5456 or visit www.mysky.com/pacman to subscribe. SKYcable and SKY Fiber + HD Cable TV Plan subscribers can also activate their subscription by texting PPV <SKY Account No> to 23662. For SKYdirect postpaid subscribers, they can text SKY to 23668, while prepaid subscribers can text PPV PACMAN <BOX ID> to 23667 (available to Globe Prepaid, or TM ).

SunStar Davao Eskina article by Jojie Alcantara

Eskina@Bizpark celebrates food, fun and music

Witerary by Jojie Alcantara

Lanang Business Park (BizPark), a two-hectare mixed-use property owned by Dominic & Sons Realty and Development Corporation (DSRDC), is celebrating five years of its milestone as an emerging business, leisure and entertainment landmark in the northern part of Davao City.

media frends with tenants

Eskina @Bizpark is an establishment for food occupants that offer an affordable dining experience in a semi-open setting and spacious atmosphere. Click To Tweet

Eskina @Bizpark

Eskina @Bizpark

As Bizpark continues to expand, tenants range from local to international companies in its fully occupied commercial building, while more commercial spaces are in plans for construction.

BizPark manager John Irene del Campo with Eskina tenants

BizPark manager John Irene del Campo with Eskina tenants

One of its main attractions is Eskina @Bizpark, an establishment for food occupants that offer an affordable dining experience in a semi-open setting and spacious atmosphere.  Its charm and budget-friendly services have lured students and professionals in its entertainment area for five years now.

BizPark manager John Irene del Campo

BizPark manager John Irene del Campo

Ms. John Irene Del Campo, Property Management & Administrative Services Manager at DSRDC, invited media friends for a food sampling of each tenant’s specialties. We enjoyed savoring varied dishes that are quite delicious and prepared in generous servings.

 

Kuya’s Kambingan, the oldest tenant, offers goat preparations like adobo, kaldereta, kilawin and sinampalukang kambing. The papaitan is a must try as well.

 

Tatay Ige’s BBQ Stall cooks your Pinoy favorites chicken and pork barbeque and other grilled items for meals or pulutan.

 

Romeo’s Sisigan ng Davao, gives its own versions of the Filipino classic sisig, a Kapampangan dish made of minced pork, chicken, beef or liver, seasoned with calamansi, finely chopped onion, chicharon and chili peppers.

 

BABA.BOY serves your familiar Filipino comfort food passed down from early generations and still loved today, like the crispy dinuguan, fried dinakdakan, fried binagoongan, chili garlic chicken and fried squid on salted egg.

 

Ochado, a franchise originally from Singapore, brings in the Japanese bubble tea concept of ocha (tea) and chado (origin or culture in Japanese). It focuses on brewing the best quality tea using the freshest natural ingredients to the delight of tea addicts. It is the only outlet open on Sundays for their delivery service demands.

 

Lastly, your dining experience won’t be complete without the BeerZone, serving perfectly chilled beers to complement your food, as laughingly described in its slogan: “Beer as cold as your EX’s heart”. Ouch, so much for brain freeze.

BizPark manager John Irene del Campo with Eskina tenants

Eskina @Bizpark opens Monday to Saturday; lunch from 11am to 2pm on Mondays to Fridays.  Entertainment starts at 730pm every Friday and Saturday.

BizPark manager John Irene with media friends Leebai Marilyn Jojie and Ian

Thanks to John Irene for accommodating and entertaining us, together with her Sales and Marketing Officer Lyanna Mariel Fondevilla and the tenants Allan Pascua (Kambingan), Alne delos Santos delos Santos (Bababoy), Kharl Jheo Taleon, Dennis Roflo (Romeo Sisig), Mike Guerra (Tatay Ige) and Clench Saguindan (Ochado).

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Of Mystique Angels and Crystals

Witerary by Jojie Alcantara

What started as an idea back in October 2016 to create angel parties/booths for events came about through assisting a mother group they call the F4 (composed of Mother Princess, Lady Bam, Mother Atho, and Bong), where each had workshops which they help market and mount. The five members were graduates of the angel reading workshops of Evelyn Princess Buendia, a schoolmate of mine in Ateneo.

Mystique Angels

“We are a group of light workers, earth angels, miracle workers based in Davao City. But those are just labels though, to easily identify us with. We are just vessels to be of assistance to the community and country. We want to focus on using happiness and abundance to cultivate one’s self for a loving impact through events that we mount or we are invited in. Our mission is to spread love, oneness despite diversity of beliefs, and just honor one another and find our similarities, kindness and freedom,” Anne Verga, fondly called Pangging, related how the Mystique Angels was formed.

Pangging Verga

The PR in the group, Pangging is a DOH licensed massage therapist, specializing in healing that involves physical muscles, movement and touch. Currently, she is in Australia for further studies.

Kristina Suelto

Kristina Suelto (Angels and Crystals) and Liberty “Zai” Cocjin-Chan gave birth to the name when people started asking for assistance. Both women are creative artists of beautiful crystal accessories, doing workshops, crystal healing, Hoponopono, tarot and angel reading.

Zai Chan

Zai, the mystic motherly empath of the group does reiki healing, dabbles in kitchen herbs and essentials oils and together with her husband, creates handcrafted accessories in Artzy Quartzy Crafts and Crystals.

“Inspiration came in a flash and we came up with five branches Mystique Angels would love to venture into: Parties & Events, Crystals & Gift Shop, Mystique Travel & Tours, Healing Therapies & Self Mastery,” Pangging further explained.

Prosperity BEHT Healing sessions

From one workshop to another, the scope of services evolved and expanded, adding space clearing and healing activities. Mystique Angels is currently known for its monthly Prosperity BEHT (Body Emotional Healing Therapy) which started in 2018, crystal healing, sound bath healing, angel readings, tai chi sessions, self-mastery workshops and space/car clearings they call the Circle of Abundance.

Mystique Angels booth at the Hippie Market in Royal Mandaya

They also regularly conduct a course in miracles study group (ACIM/TAMIS), a self-study thought system of universal spiritual teaching.

Jay and Jows

Two men in the group have their own specialties. Jows Bagot focuses on managing and mounting events and oversees activities. He is also the sound master of crystal singing bowls during space clearings and healing sessions. Jows also creates car charms and dreamcatchers. Jay Delino, the youngest and fondly called “Bebeboy”, is their official documentor/photographer/graphic artist on their events and on Facebook.

“Our inspiration is one another. We draw our strength from each one. Our company inspiration is a hybrid of HayHouse and MindValley. We are also inspired by our families, mentors, and our friends who are supporting us in this venture. Our team is driven by inspiration, vision and passion and we would like to be known for as your reliable heart-based miracle workers based in Davao City,” said Pangging.

In the near future the group is hoping to develop and produce films and music for awareness in a fun way. They are also scouting for a creative space they can call home where they can conduct daily meditation classes, tai chi and private healing sessions. Their recent big event was “Clear Mind: Nothingness” conducted by Dato’ Dr. Lim Siow Jin (CEO and Founder of DXN International) and Dr. Rajesh Savera last May 21, 2019 at the Davao Convention Center.

Jows Bagot, Tina Suelto, angel reading mentor Princess Buendia, Zai Cochin and Pangging Verga

During our fun photo shoot in a park, the group had a blast exploring their creativity with props (from sage burning to fallen leaves) and healing crystals. Here are words of advice to interested crystal collectors:

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Tina, Zai and Pangging with makeup artist Honey at the back

“Just stay open to all the things you will hear because people have different experiences and uses with crystals. Each crystal has its specific use to an individual’s needs. Keep an open mind, to the possibilities of how you can use them as tools and support in your life’s journey.  Follow your heart when you choose your crystals and always have fun exploring!”

Mystique Angels booth at the Hippie Market in Royal Mandaya

The group is on Facebook (Mystique Angels) and Instagram (@mystiqueangels) should you want to reach out.

Mystque Angels Jay Tina Pangging Zai and Jows at the park

June 11 Mystique Angels by Jojie Alcantara SunStar Davao

Malita Dives: resort in a sanctuary

Witerary by Jojie Alcantara (published in SunStar Davao June 5, 2019)

A year ago, when I was doing a shoot for the Province of Davao Occidental with its consultant and good friend Derf Maiz, I traveled around the new province from Malita, Don Marcelino down to Jose Abad Santos. During an activity, I reunited with an old friend, Jean Seekins Bautista, lovely wife of Mayor Bradly Bautista.  She invited me to their private beach house in Tubalan Cove but we had to reschedule.

Malita Dive adventure!

Fast forward this year before the election, the trip finally pushed through and I was able to invite a few friends along.  Road trip from Davao to Malita by private van took two and a half hours of good coastal road and scenic views of the bay and mountains. The boat ride was a mere five minutes away.

Malita Dives is a simple beach house beautifully structured on stilts beside a huge rock formation. Click To Tweet

Malita Dives, the simple beach house beautifully structured on stilts beside a huge rock formation, did not disappoint. Although initially coined the famous Maldives in mind, the owners intended for it to become known for the sanctuary it is nestled within.

Barangay Tubalan, Malita, Davao Occidental
Barangay Tubalan, Malita, Davao Occidental

Tubalan Cove is blessed with pristine and clean waters where one can clearly see healthy marine life and coral formations underwater, with an added bonus of a vintage WW2 Japanese minesweeper one can dive and explore.

Mayor Bradly found a paradise within its sheltered cove and declared it a sanctuary to keep it protected with fishes thriving. He established ten “Bantay Dagat” patrol boats carried on by fishermen. A water system was also set up which the fishing villages benefited from.

Malita Dives, Tubalan Cove, Malita, Davao Occidental

The beach house is shaped liked a huge boat with a lounge deck that’s instagram-worthy. Beneath the stilts at low tide, a group of starfish are scattered around like floor decors, gently nudged by the slightest waves coming in.

Please take note, no sea stars were harmed during this pictorial, we merely gently moved them around to form a heart, and left them as the tide came in. These beautiful creatures were not manhandled or hurt in any way. We also advise you to leave them be when you spot them in their environment.

Activities like snorkeling, diving, a jet ski and banana boat are readily available upon request.  

While there is only one air-conditioned room with a bed and balcony,  the rest of the group can pull up folding beds anywhere and sleep underneath the stars if they wish to. Fifteen bunk beds are available with clean pillows and bed sheets. The toilet is well-kept and tidy.

The dining area has a videoke set and TV for you to scream your lungs out over the microphone. Malita’s tourism officer Jeremiah “Jing” Danolko also visited us and together with Jean, entertained us with stories.

The best part of our overnight stay was being warmly accompanied and pampered by the city’s First Lady, as Jean and her staff cooked lunch, dinner and a healthy breakfast next day. Delicious local dishes like panggang (barbecued chicken), kinilaw, fish, crabs and tiger prawns were served. Most favorite was Jean’s unforgettable calamares in salted eggs.

Calamares in salted egg

Dessert included fresh fruits and Malita’s very own WEBB Ice Cream from the Women Enterpreneurs of Barangay Buhangin. The five flavors are kalabasa, malunggay, durian and the spicy ones labeled one sili and two silis

Malita’s WEBB Ice Cream from the Women Enterpreneurs of Barangay Buhangin

Another standout in the buffet scene was Malita’s Adlai rice – these ancient grains made by the farmers are local super food and healthy substitute for rice to supply your daily carb needs. The gluten-free rice contains protein, dietary fiber, and minerals such as phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine, perfect for keeping your weight down.

There were more surprises before we went home the next day.  Our down to earth hostess gave us a quick tour around Malita, namely the huge Divine Mercy Shrine and chapel her father-in-law Vice Governor Atty. Franklin Bautista built over a hill overlooking the bay, with a huge cross that lights up at night serving as guide for the fishermen; and Lais beach where locals learn to surf.  She sent us off each with a pack of Adlai Rice, bangus from her fish pen, and native Malita coffee.

Malita Dives was a short restful break from the busy city life as we went back to Davao more relaxed from a needed break. If you ask me what more is there to do there, you get an honest happy answer from me – nothing.  All I wanted to do was just relax on the hammock, feel the sea breeze and not think much, just living in the moment and appreciating the company of friends frolicking at sea. I was happy to just be there without any sense of rush.

Group with Malita First Lady Jean Seekins Bautista at the deck lounge

Thank you for the company, fellow social media buddies: my dear sister Karen Alcantara, Jean Lorraine Pal, Leebai Sinsuat Ambolodto, Tammy Francisco, Penn Villamora, Christian Joy Salas, Chiqui Aportadera, and Khyrby Goc-ong.  We wish to thank Mayor Bradly and wife Jean for accommodating us despite hectic pre-election schedules (he ran uncontested and won again, of course). 

We thank Bioskin for sending tubes of Coco’s Himalayan Pink Salt Sunblock as sun protection, and to Gatchi Gatchalian for his newly launched Gatchips in different yummy flavors. 

Tubalan Cove, Malita, Davao Occidental

Those interested to visit the place may contact Georgette “JetJet” Sagang or 09755619694 or 09185825049 for bookings; for inquiries about Malita please contact its tourism officer Jing Danolko at 09755950517.  Day tours are available and overnight packages with or without food catering, but reservations are a must because they limit rental schedules in order to preserve the environment and keep the place clean.

Published article in SunStar Davao

Xian, Enzo and Joem banner SKYcable movies pay-per-view this June

Kapamilya stars Xian Lim, Enzo Pineda, and Joem Bascon’s movies bring delight to viewers as they headline SKYcable Movies Pay-Per-View until June 28. Click To Tweet

Xian Lim and Louise de los Reyes play lovers in “Hanggang Kailan?” Donnie (Xian) and Kath (Louise) celebrate their second anniversary as a couple in Saga, Japan,. But as days pass, Kath feels it is right to end their relationship. Find out if the couple will be able to save their relationship or decide to part ways.

Another interesting team-up also topbills SKYcable Movies Pay-Per-View this month featuring Enzo Pineda and Winwyn Marquez in “Time & Again.”  Watch Winwyn as she plays the role of Apol, a writer and a waitress who falls for a customer, Ozzi (Enzo). In a series of events, Apol receives a watch that can turn back time. See how she uses it to her advantage.

A different Joem Bascon will be seen by viewers as he portrays adisillusioned and suicidal Jose Rizal in the Cinema One Originals entry, “Historiographika Errata.” Other Filipino heroes will also be featured in the film which talks about a mosaic of historical facts and fictions.

Vice and Coco’s blockbuster movies on SKYcable pay-per-view

2018 MMFF Hits ‘Fantastica and ‘Jack Em Popoy” Vice and Coco's blockbuster movies on SKYcable pay-per-view Click To TweetTwo of the country’s biggest stars, Vice Ganda and Coco Martin, shake up the family’s summer TV viewing as SKYcable Pay-Per-View airs their respective blockbuster MMFF movies, “Fantastica” and “Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles.”

In this hit comedy-fantasy, zany misadventures ensue when Belat (Vice), her mother Fec (Jaclyn Jose) and his brothers Daks (Ronnie Alonte), Pepe (Edward Barber) and Junjun (Donny Pangilinan), try to keep the family carnival business – “Perya Wurtzbach, the Happiest Place on Earth, The Universe, Rather” alive. 

When Belat’s former best friend Dong Nam offers to buy the family business to save them from their troubles, she meets Prince (Richard Gutierrez) who will offer to help – but only after they find the missing princesses in the mystical land of Fantastica.

Find out if Belat fulfills the mission and is able to bring the luster back to his carnival.

The “Fantastica” Pay-Per-View offer comes with other fresh 2018 movies “Sakaling Maging Tayo,” “Pamilya Blondina,” and “Paki” until May 31. 

The action-comedy hit “Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles,” meanwhile, brings Coco Martin, Vic Sotto, and Maine Mendoza together in a movie for the first time.  

Police officer Popoy is retiring in a few months when he is paired with Jack (Coco). Unfortunately, the two often clash because of different views on what makes an ideal police officer. Things don’t go smoothly between Jack and Popoy’s daughter, Em, either as she finds him too arrogant.  But the three soon set their differences aside as they are tasked to work together on a mission—end the operations of drug lord Andrew (Arjo Atayde). As they try to solve the case, they discover some things about their past.

Catch Jack Em Popoy back-to-back with “Second Coming” and “Three Words to Forever” from May  17 to 31.

Each SKYcable Pay-Per-View bundle are available for only P99 for a 7-day access. To subscribe, call 305-5456 or just visit mysky.com.ph/ppv