Kids, redraw your summer with Cartoon Network at Ayala Malls

Cartoon Network and Ayala Malls bring kids a fun summer full of adventure with the launch of the Redraw Your Summer program. Built on four pillars – “Craft Your World”, “Move Your World”, “Create Your World”, and “Imagine Your World” – malls become “worlds” where kids can explore creativity through arts, theater, and dance.

From May 1 to June 30, the program starts with a meet and greet with iconic Cartoon Network characters. Kids can also participate in designing community art murals featuring specially made Tweety 80th anniversary artwork at select Ayala Malls.

“Kids are going to love all the activities we have planned for them. Together with Cartoon Network, we’ve designed a full program that entertains through artistic expression – it promises to be plenty of fun,” shared Tintin Enriquez-Yabao, Ayala Malls Consumer Marketing Head.

With Crayola as the official creativity partner, the program comes to life through partnerships with Steps Dance Project, SOFA Design Institute, The Mind Museum, Global Art Philippines, and Make Believe Productions.

Craft Your World
SoFA Design Institute is the Philippines’ leading educational institution committed to the art and business of design. Program workshops to be offered in Glorietta, Alabang Town Center, TriNoma, Greenbelt, and Market! Market! are designed to encourage kids to jazz up their summer style by crafting their own Cartoon Network themed mask lanyards, headgear, tops, and tote bags.

Move Your World
As one of the most innovative dance studios in the country led by Sofia Zobel-Elizalde, Steps Dance Studio takes pride in developing Filipino talent. The studio will hold workshops for kids to groove to their favorite Cartoon Network tunes! Workshops will be held at Glorietta, Alabang Town Center, TriNoma, Greenbelt, Market! Market!, U.P. Town Center, and Ayala Malls Cloverleaf. Marquee, Abreeza, and Solenad will also work with community partners for dance and martial arts workshops.

Create your World
Established in 1999, Global Art is the largest international art enrichment program for children. To be held at Alabang Town Center, Glorietta, Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Abreeza, and Greenbelt, Global art will lead workshops for kids to discover their inner artist by coloring their favorite Cartoon Network stars. U.P. Town Center, Solenad, Ayala Malls Serin, Centrio Mall, and The District Imus will also work with various artists and organizations.

Imagine your World
Make Believe Productions is a leading creative arts group that ushers children into worlds of wonder through imaginative play. Kids can enjoy Cartoon Network theater workshops at Alabang Town Center, Glorietta, Trinoma, Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Feliz, and Market! Market! The Mind Museum will partner with Glorietta, The District Imus, Marquee, and Harbor Point for science shows for kids looking for fun ways to learn about science.

A Fun and Adventurous Summer Awaits!
There’ll be plenty of games, prizes, and meet & greets featuring super stars from We Bare Bears, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time, and The Amazing World of Gumball.

“This year, we will empower kids to rediscover the fun of summer while honing their skills and making new friends–all within the safe and secure space Ayala Malls offers,” said Eunice Velasco Ayala Malls Marketing Director.

Visit www.ayalamalls.com for full details. Health and safety measures will be implemented.

For more cool experiences online, follow @iloveayalamalls and @cartoonnetworkasia. Share all your Redraw Your World moments by using the hashtags #AyalaMalls #WhereAmazingIsReal #CartoonNetwork #CNRedrawYourSummer #AmazingCreativityCamp.

Details, images and video provided in a recent press release.

Summer fun with the barkada at Manila Ocean Park

Hey, hey, summer’s here!

And while the barkada might be raring to go out of town for some summer fun, the good news is that you won’t even need to leave the city.

Right here in Metro Manila is a place where friends can come together for a full day of fun: Manila Ocean Park!

MOP Summer
An early start to our tour of Manila Ocean Park
MOP Summer
The last stop of our Manila Ocean Park Tour

As the country’s first world-class marine theme park and premiere educational entertainment destination, Manila Ocean Park boasts of attractions that will surely appeal to everyone in the barkada.

According to MOP’s EVP & COO Francis Low, the park’s attractions are designed to be educational, interactive and experiential. These design pillars sets Manila Ocean Park apart from similar establishments. With exhibits that visitors can not only look at but also interact with, the park helps create memorable moments for the guests as well as add to their knowledge.

Want to know what you and your pals can expect at Manila Ocean Park? Well, read on, then.

Oceanarium

This is home to 14,000 marine creatures across 277 species indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. With a 220-deg curved walkway tunnel with an amazing view of sea creatures swimming overhead, Oceanarium will give your barkada the feeling of being at the center of the ocean’s wonders, as well as lots of spectacular photos for your Instagram feed!

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

Trails to Antarctica

If the summer heat is getting to you, make a beeline for Trails to Antarctica where you can learn more about this mysterious frozen continent as well as its inhabitants. An example of these would be the Humboldt penguins, curious and highly sociable animals that you can interact with for some feeding, and of course, a photo opp for just Php650!

By the way, some of these cuties were hatched and raised right here in Manila Ocean Park, thanks to its very successful breeding program.

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
MOP Summer
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
MOP Summer

All-Star Bird Show back to back with a Sea Lion Show

Manila Ocean Park is also home to our feathered friends such as macaws, cuckatoos and birds of prey which display their intelligence and skills through stunts and tricks during the All-Star Bird Show.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer

Back-to-back with the bird show is the Sea Lion Show which showcases Manila Ocean Park’s South American sea lions which include Sandra, the sexiest female with all the suave moves; Icis, the prettiest among the females; Ira, the youngest and cutest; while Yeni, the smartest. The only thorn among the roses is Vincent, a big and beefy male sea lion who is also diligent with his training. These marine mammals display their skills through funny antics and entertaining skits during the show.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer

The All-Star Bird Show and Sea Lion Show are performed back-to-back at 12.30pm and 4.30pm on weekdays and at 12.30pm, 3pm and 4.30pm on weekends.

While the park’s aviary, The Birdhouse, is still closed, you can book your very own Bird Encounter and give your inner Disney Princess (or Prince!) free rein.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

You can also get up close and personal with a sea lion through the Sea Lion Encounter. For Php3,500 per person, a group of at least five people can get an exclusive demonstration of a sea lion’s talents and intelligence through learned behavior such as giving you a kiss, jumping through hoops and performing a water ballet with you. Sea Lion Encounters are available only via reservations and is subject to availability.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

Jellies Dancing Sea Fairies

Did you know that jellyfish are sometimes called the “dancing sea fairies?”

This moniker is no doubt due to their grace and transparent beauty as they glide below and on the ocean’s surface.

They are showcased in their element against a fascinating display of multi-media effects and soothing music in the Jellies Dancing Sea Fairies Exhibit.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

World of Creepy Crawlies

Sure, they may be scary (and sort of icky) but they’re definitely interesting. These snakes, frogs, lizards, worms and insects all have their own beauty and seemingly amazing superpowers that drive their survival despite the harsh environments they inhabit. You and your pals can see them in a new light at the World of Creepy Crawlies.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

Super Toy Collection

Got comic book fans in the barkada? Or those who idolize the Man of Steel?

Well, they can geek out at the largest collection of Superman toys and memorabilia at the Super Toy Collection. Your entire group can even immerse yourselves in memorable scenes from the Superman movies.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

Christmas Village

Despite the feeling that we’re almost melting in the city because of the sweltering summer heat, we can still experience the chilly holiday season at the Christmas Village. You can all hang out with Santa Claus or check out the snowy gingerbread house; your sneak peek into a winter wonderland is right here.

MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer
MOP Summer

All these exciting experiences and more are waiting for you and your buddies at Manila Ocean Park.

So get set to enjoy the summer fun right here by booking your tickets online now with these fantastic deals available until May 29, 2022:

  • Jolly Splash 6 (Php560, previously Php2,300): includes access to six attractions – Oceanarium, Trails to Antarctica, Christmas Village, World of Creepy Crawlies, Jellies Dancing Sea Fairies, and Super Toy Collection
  • Festive Wave 8 (Php680, previously Php3,300): includes access to six attractions – Oceanarium, Trails to Antarctica, Christmas Village, World of Creepy Crawlies, Jellies Dancing Sea Fairies, Super Toy Collection, Sea Lion Show and Bird Show

Manila Ocean Park is located behind the Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

For more news and updates on its attractions and offers, follow Manila Ocean Park on Facebook and Instagram.

Check out my previous posts about Manila Ocean Park:

Nurture your kid’s creativity at Power Mac Center’s summer art camp

If you constantly find your kid drawing in a corner or creating visual designs on their iPad, you know it’s time to take it to the next level. Premier Apple partner Power Mac Center (PMC) is opening this year’s summer art camp to welcome kids to a whole world of digital wilderness where they can develop their talent and pursue what they like through Apple technology.

From April 19 to August 30, 2022, PMC’s official training arm – PMC Business Systems, Inc. (PBSI) – will be offering “Design Trail for Kids” with six special courses covering comics creation, 2D animation, game design using various software, and building trendy filters and 3D effects. Sessions will be conducted online for kids aged 7 to 15 years old.

“Children have an active imagination, and it’s important to provide them creative outlets while also prioritizing their safety and well-being amid the pandemic. This summer, Power Mac Center goes all out in creating opportunities for kids to explore ideas and enhance their digital creative and coding skills. Should they decide to pursue graphic design, visual communication, or even coding in the future, parents are assured they have a good foundation,” said Maleng Raysag, Training Head, PMC Business Systems Inc.

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Let your kids design the future with their imagination today! The available courses are as follows:

  • The Art of Comics (7 to 10 years old). Showcase your child’s ideas. Let them create their own comics with doodles, basic lines, shapes, and colors. This course will teach your kids how to maximize their iPad for art.
  • 2D Animation using iPad (7 to 10 years old). Improve your child’s visual communication and digital drawing skills. With this course, your kids will surely learn how to turn their ideas into a motion picture.
  • Roblox Game Design (8 to 12 years old). Let your child build and publish their own Roblox game through the Roblox Studio.
  • Web Game Creation using Scratch (8 to 12 years old). Develop your child’s logical thinking skills through coding. This course will also teach your kids how to create interactive games using Scratch—the world’s largest programming language and online community.
  • 2D Game Design with Stencyl (12 to 15 years old). Allow your kids to dive deeper into 2D game development and coding. This course will also teach your kids how to create computer games with HTML5 and build games for iOS and Android using the Stencyl software.
  • Building AR Face Filters and 3D effects (12 to 15 years old). Let your kids experience an interesting way of combining the real world with technology and art. This course will also teach young minds how to create customized social media face filters and 3D Portal.

Each online session lasts for 1.5 hours, conducted over four days (Tuesday-Friday). Classes can be availed at PHP 2,500 per student per course, which can be paid via Power Mac Center’s Web Store https://powermaccenter.com/product/pbsi-dtl001. Limited slots are available to maintain instruction efficiency, and reservation is on a first come, first served basis.

PBSI offers a wide range of creative and technical courses conducted by Apple Certified Trainers to help groups and individuals leverage Apple technology for productivity and skills enhancement. For inquiries, contact PBSI at (632) 8553 6399 and +63 908 885 6277.

About Power Mac Center

Power Mac Center is a recognized Apple Premium Reseller, Apple Authorized Education Reseller, Apple Authorized Training Provider, and Apple Authorized Service Provider in the Philippines. Power Mac Center has become a reliable retail shop and service provider of Apple products to the Filipino consumer.

Header Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

#TechVocInThePhilippines: Why not?

Tech-voc professionals should be regarded as graduates with equal opportunity, job security, professional status, and recognition in our society that professionals of four-year higher education programs currently enjoy.

It’s around that time of the year again when a fresh batch of new college graduates join the workforce.

For many of these graduates, after studying and struggling for years to earn their degree, a tough road lies ahead before they land their first job. If they’re lucky, they will be able to find work that aligns with their interests and the degree they worked so hard to attain. If they are not so lucky, they may find themselves in jobs that are not related to their degree, are underpaid for the jobs that they do have, or worse, have no job at all.

In a recent report on in-demand jobs in the country, IT/Computer Software, Clerical/Administrative Support, IT/Network/System/Database and General Work are among the top specializations that are being hired. In a separate salary survey, on the other hand, Computer/IT, Services, Manufacturing and Building/Construction are among those with the highest salaries for entry-level positions.

These are jobs that the new members of the workforce could have been prepared for by a technical-vocational education.

An unpopular choice

Unfortunately, tech-voc education has rarely been a first choice among high school graduates in the country. This may be due to the perceived lack of glamor or prestige of pursuing further education in the tech-voc sphere compared to a university degree, or the erroneous impression that workers in this field lack of job security or professional status compared to their peers who took university courses. Also coming into play may be the existing bias that only the ‘bobo’ enroll in these courses.

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Whatever the reason, many members of our workforce are being denied employment opportunities and productive careers simply because they did not opt to pursue education in the tech-voc field.

This is such as shame because our technical-vocational institutes (TVI), if managed and monitored well, are fully capable of producing world-class and skilled graduates at par with those of our neighboring countries. Tech-voc graduates perform key roles in various industries both local and abroad. A job-ready and globally competitive batch of tech-voc graduates joining the workforce can also greatly contribute to the national income and economy.

To get to this stage, we as a country need to place importance in the possibilities offered by the technical field in providing a decent and productive life to our citizens.

TECH VOC blog images
Existing Philippine Qualification Framework and Ladderized Program Law

A need to revise our framework

You will notice that our highly-industrialized Asian neighbors like Japan, Singapore, and Korea have made necessary adjustments in their educational system, with particular focus on academic excellence and technology innovation. By placing emphasis on citizens becoming productive and contributing members to their national economy, these heavily invested in technical training.

A local proponent for tech-voc education is Ayala Corporation CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala. According to him, a vocational or technical degree should be given a prominent position in our country’s educational framework. Expanding its curriculum and significantly improving its accreditation status will help produce young graduates equipped with the specific skills that match the requirements of the job market.

TECH VOC blog images
The TVET PQF NC’s is in need of a specific title for learners’ perspective to the industry or employers for clear and better recognition.

The Philippines has two main government agencies tasked in providing basic education in the country: DepEd (Department of Education) for the academics and TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) which is in charge facilitating quality technical education and skills development. Ideally, these two should complement each other, with no overlapping of roles that could result in conflicts during the implementation of their programs.

However, with the implementation of the K-12 curriculum, some of TESDA’s resources have been acquired by DepEd due to the need for technical experts to handle the tech-voc curriculum.

Both esteemed educators such as University of the Philippines professor, Clarita Carlos and government administrators like Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia have cited the sorry state of tech-voc education in the Philippines and made appeals to DepEd and TESDA to focus on their respective mandates, namely basic education and in the students’ academic performances for DEPED and technical skills formation for TESDA.

An expanded role for TESDA

TESDA needs to take on the complete responsibility for technical and vocational training as a distinct and separate agency from DOLE, DTI and DepEd, with a scope beyond merely providing technical instructions and training. Its purview should include thorough skills assessment to meet globally-competitive criteria, and granting professional license to successful graduates to elevate their status to professional practitioners of their chosen skill.

As the final “quality control” check before graduation and the practice of their profession, passing the licensure exam becomes a mark of pride and achievement for the graduates, a basis for demanding a higher salary and compensation for their services and an undeniable proof of their parity with the technical graduates of progressive countries.

pexels-mikhail-nilov-youngmen

Licensure examination is but one wheel in the big cog of Philippine Qualifications Framework which supposedly sets multiple criteria to measure the quality assurance principles and standards of the Filipino professional, technician and craftsman.

TECH VOC blog images
Trifocal education system with the implementation of K-12 has totally diminished the quality skills training for TVET.

Performing this mandate would require TESDA to review and rescan its current services and offers in order to attract enrollees and be an effective government agency for manpower development.

To do this, it is proposed that TESDA curriculum be organized in two tracks that serve different purposes and will be monitored accordingly:

Product-Oriented TrackService-Oriented Track
No pre-requisitePre-requisite: HS graduate
Only product quality controlCustomer and Practitioner’s Protection Service
Do not require higher academic achievementService-Oriented professions are measured by quality of service thru
customer satisfaction
This is measured only through quality controlIt promotes respect, prestige and protection to the client and also the
practitioner

Product-oriented tracks may be in the form of cottage industries and are designed to provide livelihood opportunities at the barangay level to folks such as stay-at-home moms, out-of-school youths, drug dependents, seniors/retirees, jobless folks, and surrenderees, with TESDA providing the necessary tools and materials as well as equipment for this skill training. Some of these are:

PTV Tracks
Livelihood tracks aims to provide skills training to its target beneficiaries, to engage them in livelihood projects that are income generating

The Service Oriented Sector/Industry, on the other hand, are professional tracks that go beyond a simple trade, and are identified by specific specialization based on the industry qualification. These will require a high school diploma as a basic requirement. These include the following:

PTV Tracks
Only by professionalizing all Service Oriented Tech-Voc Courses will uplift the image of techvoc students, graduates and practitioners in the country.

Giving TESDA a free rein as well as an expanded role will help it perform its main mandate faster and more efficiently to address current joblessness and lack of experts in vocational and technical skills and to uplift the status of tech-voc in the Philippines.

Now that the country is entering the COVID-19 recovery phase, opportunities abound for smart investment in tech-voc education and training to “build back better” programs and systems. These may also cater to students who dropped out during school closures and reskill or upskill those who have become unemployed.

To greatly improve employability and professional development of tech-voc students, focus must be given to developing their foundational cognitive and socioemotional skills, such as empathy and resilience, while investing in learning technology and digital skills of tech-voc instructors.

TECH VOC blog images
TECH VOC blog images

In conclusion, if TVETs are compliant with global standards and are at par with similar institutions of our Asian neighbors, the “Filipino Diaspora” will be minimized because tech-voc graduates are capable of getting better-paying jobs locally or establish their own enterprises without leaving the country.

TECH VOC blog images
The state of tech-voc in the Philippines must be reshaped in such a way that the skills and training competencies are given priorities to attain job-readiness of workers as well as uplift our skilled workers as licensed professionals.

To this end, while TESDA should be independent from other government agencies in providing technical-vocational training and education, it can be greatly helped by agencies like DepEd with its focus on the basic education of children, as well as DOLE and DTI in providing employment assistance and livelihood programs to tech-voc graduates.

Young Filipinos who wish to lead productive lives can look forward to brighter and more productive futures with the tech-voc track, provided they are given the proper incentives, multisectoral support and a supportive policy environment.

With the government, industry and the academe working together in strengthening the country’s tech-voc ecosystem and reinforcing the knowledge that the “Pinoy tech-voc ay hindi bobo,” a career in this field will become a promising path for our future graduates.

Student photos by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Embrace growth and make success happen with SKYBIZ

As more and more businesses have turned into home businesses, and currency has turned to digital currency, it’s important to grow with a reliable business partner like SKYBIZ. Aside from its reliable service, approachable team members and customized business packages, SKYBIZ also extends its expertise to its clients with exciting programs that can help budding entrepreneurs become more productive and successful in their endeavors!

Grow Together Webinars

As part of its Grow Together campaign, SKYBIZ partners with industry experts to share their expertise and secrets to successfully grow businesses. The first webinar is “How to Grow and Multiply Your Wealth,” with author and entrepreneur motivational speaker Bo Sanchez.

SKYBIZ_Asset_WebinarBanner

Bo is also a micro-entrepreneur that firmly believes that one of the most important solutions to the country’s economic problems is growing more micro entrepreneurs. The webinar is on November 25, Thursday at 4:00pm and is for free. One just has to register on the link: bit.ly/3nxWbD5 or easily scan the QR to join the webinar.

It’s so easy and convenient to apply for a SKYBIZ account. Just scan the QR code with your phone and fill out the details on the application form. A SKYBIZ representative will get in touch and guide you through all the requirements.

Having SKYBIZ is just a QR Code away!

It’s so easy and convenient to apply for a SKYBIZ account. Just scan the QR code with your phone and fill out the details on the application form. A SKYBIZ representative will get in touch and guide you through all the requirements.

SKYBIZ_Asset_QRCodeEasyApply

SKYBIZ has True Fiber internet connection, personalized account management, and 24/7 technical support, so that any time of the day, you can expect someone to assist you of any problems with your connection.

Talk about personalized service. Successful applications for Fiber Direct and Fiber Connect get 50% OFF for the first three months. Take this as your first step in pushing your business to new heights.

So don’t fight the change. Embrace it, and make it a business essential that you can rely on. Everybody wins with SKYBIZ.

About SKYBIZ

SKYBIZ is the corporate arm of SKY Cable Corporation under the partnership between the Lopez Holdings Corp. and STTelemedia. SKYBIZ started in 2013 and has managed to become a 2-Billion business that serves major Hospitality, BPO, Banking, Real Estate and major Corporations in the country. For more information check out SKYBIZ’s official website.

Photo Credit: presfoto on Freepik

6 reasons to bring the fam to Manila Ocean Park

One of the happier news that we received lately is that the metro has moved down its COVID-19 alert level status, resulting to the further loosening of restrictions.

This new alert level has allowed leisure and entertainment businesses such as theaters, theme parks and other tourist attractions to open up and accept visitors once again.

More importantly, this means that after a year and a half of being stuck at home, the kiddos can now venture out and explore a bit of the world outside again.

As parents, you are surely on the lookout for a place to take the kiddos to give them a welcome break from the stress of online classes and the monotony of staying at home, while creating a special moment for the family to spend time together and create special memories outside of home.

Well, here are six reasons why Manila Ocean Park is your best bet for your family outing:

1. The people behind Manila Ocean Park are excited to see you again.

After more than a year of being away from their exhibits, outlets and shows, the staff of country’s first world-class marine theme park and premiere educational entertainment destination are happy to be back doing what they love.

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
MOP VP for Sales and Marketing Mary Joyce Tarroza and Media Relations Manager Reden Ramones join us for a photo opp.
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Your friendly neighborhood unnie bloggers getting started on our Manila Ocean Park adventure.

During a chat with me and my fellow bloggers, MOP VP for Sales and Marketing Joyce Tarroza and Media Relations Manager Reden Ramones, relayed how Manila Ocean Park’s personnel have looked forward to the reopening.

“We are incredibly thrilled to finally be able to open Manila Ocean Park to the public again, return team members to work, and welcome guests back to enjoy our amazing and educational attractions,” added Mary Joyce.

2. It has reopened 6 well-loved indoor attractions.

With its return to operations, Manila Ocean Park has reopened six classic and fun-filled indoor attractions that appeal to young and old alike.

Oceanarium, for example, is home to over 270 species of marine creatures. Here, the family can walk through a 25-meter long curved walkway tunnel that gives visitors the feeling of being surrounded by sharks, stingrays, eels and other sea creatures swimming overhead.

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Marveling at marine creatures
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a manta ray!
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Big fish in a big pond… err, aquarium.
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Little fishie playing hide ‘n seek
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🎶Just keep swimming…
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Swimming, swimming… 🎶

The Jellies Exhibit, on the other hand, takes the family away to a wonderland of transparent jellyfishes that gracefully float and glide about accompanied by multimedia effects and music. This fantastic display has earned these creatures the moniker “The Dancing Sea Fairies.”

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Jellybeans in the City with the Jellies.
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Dancing sea fairies
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Jellyfishes in the City, yeah, I went there!
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Jellyfish duet

The more adventurous visitors can explore the World of Creepy Crawlies where they can encounter bugs, frogs, spiders and worms and other creatures not for the faint of heart.

The Penguin Exhibit, the first penguin park in the country, lets visitors get up close and personal with Humboldt penguins (also known as Peruvian penguins or Patranca).

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Look at the penguins from Peru!
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
This penguin is showing off for the audience.
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Humboldt Penguins are social animals.
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They are curious creatures, too!

At the Christmas Village, the kids and adults can relive the magic and spirit of the holiday season.

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Feeling the holiday vibe.
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Hello, Santa!
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Winter Wonderland
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Winter Wonderland, too!

Lastly, at the Super Toy Collection, kids of all ages can view the most extensive display of toys inspired by Pinoy childhood superheroes.

With these fascinating points of interest in the park, the family will have lots to explore and discover.

3. You can catch the South American sea lions in action.

The fun doesn’t stop indoors, either.

Step out to the Sea Lion Show and catch these large but adorable creatures perform breathtaking tricks.

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Sea lions from South America
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
“Watch my next trick!”
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“Am I pretty?”
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“Mwah!”

You might even get a kiss from one!

4. The family can enjoy a gastronomic journey al fresco

All that fun and excitement are sure to work up an appetite so plop down at the dining area near the Sea Lion Show and feast on on the newly refreshed Asian fusion menu from Chef Ranuka Hettiarachchi.

Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Manila Ocean Park Reopening
Manila Ocean Park Reopening

You may also opt to head down to Garden Dining by White Moon Bar where the kids can explore the greenery while the grownups relax with a drink or two.

Manila Ocean Park
Garden Dining by White Moon Bar

Check out my previous experience here.

Can’t get enough of these culinary creations? You can also have these scrumptious dishes delivered to your home. More on that here.

5. Protocols are still in place to keep your family safe

What welcome news it was to hear that kids 17 years old and below, regardless of their vaccination status, are now allowed inside the park, as long as they’re accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.

Your family can rest easy knowing that your continued well-being is a top priority at Manila Ocean Park.

In line with the guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the regulations from Philippine government, the theme park is operating at 30% capacity.

Enhanced health and safety measures are also being implemented in accordance with the Minimum Public Health Standards to promote physical distancing, enhanced cleanliness and reduced contact.

Of course, these measures can only be effective with the cooperation of guests so please keep these in mind during your visit:

  • Secure your Safety Pass by scanning the QR code at the entrance.
  • Submit to health and temperature checks and, for adults, present your vaccination card and ID prior to entering.
  • Wear your face masks and face shields at all times.
  • Keep at least one meter apart. Markers and reminders have been placed in several spots to guide you.
  • Wash and sanitize your hands frequently.

6. You can take advantage of amazing deals

Until November 21, kids below 17 years old accompanied by a fully vaccinated adults are accepted inside the park according to the IATF guidelines.

The city government of Manila also set the age cap for adult visitors at 65 years old.

So now is the best time to bring the whole family to Manila Ocean Park, especially with these amazing limited-time deals exclusively available at the park’s website until December 19, 2021.

  • Ocean Escapade (Php499 – formerly Php2,300) which provides access to the 6 reopened attractions at almost 80% discount from the original ticket price.
  • 2+1 Flash Sale Promo. Buy 2 Ocean Escapade vouchers priced at Php595 and get 1 for free. That’s Php1,190 for 3 tickets already!

So not only can you bring the whole fam in for a lot of fun and adventure, you get to enjoy great savings, too!

Book your tickets now, folks!

Manila Ocean Park is located inside Luneta Park in Manila.

For inquiries, call (+632) 7238-6100 or follow Manila Ocean Park on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: Complimentary tickets and refreshments were provided by the park in exchange for this feature.

La Germania shares how to recreate your favorite dishes from Cibo, Yabu and other beloved restaurants

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to cook like your favorite chefs? Participants had the opportunity to learn how to cook like the pro’s themselves during the Cooking with La Germania: Masterclass Series, a five-part installment of virtual cooking classes held in partnership with celebrities and chefs from renown restaurants all over Metro Manila. 

In the webinar series, expert instructors guided viewers through the step-by-step process of how to cook their signature dishes, disclosing their tips and tricks along the way. Attendees also had the opportunity to interact with the chefs, who assisted them throughout the process. 

Among the impressive lineup were award-winning restaurateur Chef Margarita Forés, celebrity chef Rolando Laudico of Chef Guevarra’s and OK Cafe, and Chef Lee Jose from the Standard Hospitality Group which manages Yabu and Ippudo. In case you missed out on the unforgettable series, worry not! La Germania is here today to share some of the recipes behind your favorite restaurants’ signature dishes, and advice from our top chefs.

Not your typical pancake

Chef Lee Jose
Okonomiyaki

There’s more to Japanese cuisine than ramen and sushi. Chef Lee Jose, Executive Chef of popular Japanese restaurant chains Yabu and Ippudo, demonstrated how to make the savory version of Japanese pancake, Okonomiyaki. Not only is it an easy and filling recipe, but it’s sure to wow your friends and family! It’s best if you shop at a Japanese grocery store before you try this recipe, as a lot of ingredients won’t be found in your usual supermarket. 

Ingredients:

Okonomiyaki Batter

  • ¾ cups of water
  • 1 tsp Honodashi powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅛ tsp iodized salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups of cabbage
  • ½ cup of tenkasu (tempura flakes)
  • 1 tbsp Benishoga (pickled ginger)
  • Regular sliced bacon
  • 4 tbsp spring onions
  • 4 tbsp canola oil

Okonomiyaki Sauce

  • 1 ½ tbsp white sugar 
  • ⅛ tsp salt 
  • 3 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup 
  • 2 tbsp Oyster sauce 

Assembly

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil 
  • 1 cup Okonomiyaki batter 
  • 3 slices regular sliced bacon
  • 2 tbsp Onomiyaki sauce 
  • 1 tsp Aonori powder
  • 2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • Bonito flakes
  • 1 tsp Spring onions

Procedure:

  1. Prepare the Okonomiyaki batter by chopping the cabbage into 1/2″ chunks. Do not use the hard core. In a mixing bowl, add water and hondashi powder and whisk to dissolve the hondashi powder. Add the rest of the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar and baking powder). Whisk until the batter is smooth, then add the eggs and whisk until fully incorporated in the batter. Add the chopped Cabbage, Tempura flakes, Pickled Ginger and Spring onions. You can also add whatever fillings you desire (mushrooms, ham, pre cooked seafood, etc.) Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until every ingredient is coated. Cover and keep chilled until ready to cook. This recipe yields 4 portions. 
  2. For the Okonomiyaki sauce, put all ingredients in a bowl and mix until all the sugar has dissolved. Keep in an airtight container and set aside. Keep chilled. 
  3. Heat up a non-stick pan and add 1 tbsp of oil on medium heat. When the pan is hot, scoop 1 cup of batter and add to the middle of the pan. Using your rubber spatula, gently level out the batter, then cover and let the batter cook a bit for 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove the cover and lay down 3 slices of bacon on top of the pancake. Cover and cook for 1 minute more, then gently flip the pancake and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for another 3 minutes, then test for doneness by sticking a knife or chopsticks in the middle of the pancake to test if it’s fully cooked. If the stick or knife comes out clean, it’s cooked.
  5. Spread 1-2 tbsp of okonomiyaki sauce on top of the pancake and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the aonori (seaweed powder) and drizzle the Japanese mayonnaise. Top the pancake with bonito flakes & spring onions. Serve right away.

Elevate your breakfast favorites

Chef Lau
Longrilog

You may be an expert in making meatballs, but have you tried Longanisa meatballs? Chef Rolando Laudico of Chef Laudico Guevarra’s and OK Cafe taught the audience his secret to making his elevated version of Filipino breakfast classic Longsilog, better known as “Long-Ri-Long”, which is Longanisa meatball on creamy garlic salted egg risotto, poached eggs and oven dried tomatoes. 

Ingredients:

Longanisa Meatballs

  • 500g longanisa ground meat
  • Half cup small white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsps fresh basil, chopped 
  • 2 tbsps fresh Italian parsley
  • Half cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Half cup milk 
  • 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil 

Creamy garlic salted egg risotto

  • 1 cup risotto rice (arborio or any short grain rice)
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1L chicken stock
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 2 salter eggs, chopped fine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Oven dried tomatoes

  • 6 whole tomatoes, halved
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Poached eggs

  • 4 eggs
  • Sea salt
  • 4 cups of water 

Procedure:

  1. To make the longganisa meat balls, begin by mixing bread crumbs and milk together in a cup and let milk absorb for 5 minutes. In a big bowl, take out fresh longganisa meat from the casing (discard casing) and mix all other ingredients together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Form into meatballs and fry using a non-stick pan with 4 tablespoons of olive oil until brown. Place in a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 175C for 10-15 minutes or until meatballs are fully cooked. 
  2. To make the risotto, heat butter in a saucepan on medium high heat and add minced garlic. Saute for 2 minutes or until garlic is golden in color, then add risotto rice or sticky rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock 1 cup at a time and gently stir until liquid has been totally absorbed. Repeat the process until the rice is cooked. Rice should be a bit al dente. Add more stock if needed depending on the type of rice used. Finally, add cream and finely chopped salted egg then cook for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh herbs like Italian parsley.
  3. For the tomatoes, slice them in half then season with sea salt and pepper. Bake in a 175C oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes have dried a bit. 
  4. For the poached eggs, add water in a small cup then add a pinch or two of sea salt. Break the whole egg and add to the cup being careful not to break the yolks. Place the cup in a microwave for 45 seconds to a minute depending on the power of the microwave. Spoon out poached egg on a paper towel to absorb excess liquid. Repeat the process to the other 4 eggs. 
  5. For assembly, on a platter or plate, spread salted egg garlic risotto then top with longanisa meatballs, oven dried tomatoes, poached eggs and garnish with fresh herbs.

Satisfying your Italian craving

Chef Margarita Fores
Penne al Telefono

While the recipe behind Cibo’s famous Penne al Telefono will remain a secret (revealed exclusively to the attendees of the Masterclass series), here are some of Chef Margarita Forés biggest do’s and don’ts when it comes to cooking the perfect pasta. 

For one, the quality of your ingredients and the way they were manufactured makes a world of a difference when it comes to the richness and flavor of your meal! This is why you need to choose your ingredients carefully, and understand the science behind how they were made and how they react to other ingredients. For instance, Cibo recommends using pasta from the brand “De Cecco”, which uses a bronze pasta shaper that creates more porous noodles, allowing sauces to cling to the pasta better. 

For Margarita’s biggest don’ts, do not check for doneness by throwing your pasta against a wall and expecting it to stick. This means that your pasta is overcooked! Furthermore, do not run your freshly cooked pasta under cold water, as this removes all the flavor. Remember that pasta water is your best friend, and is a vital ingredient to the flavor of your pasta. 

When preparing these mouthwatering dishes, it’s important to choose the best ingredients and to use good quality kitchen equipment like La Germania. Built according to the highest European standards in terms of construction and design, La Germania appliances allow you to prepare restaurant-worthy dishes in an efficient and easy way. With guaranteed durability and superior quality, they’re a good investment for you to channel your inner chef, and unleash your kitchen genius.

Check out my La Germania Wish List on Lazada!

La Germania products are available online through La Germania’s official e-commerce website www.lagermaniaph.com and e-commerce platforms on Shopee and Lazada. For more information on La Germania and its products, you may follow the official Facebook and Instagram accounts of the trusted kitchen and appliance brand.

ABOUT LA GERMANIA

Italian-heritage brand La Germania has been the preferred kitchen companion of Filipino homemakers for 53 years and counting. Its wide array of ovens, cooktops, and stoves is made of high-grade materials and designed to stand the test of time and extensive use. La Germania’s current line of products continues to serve the cooking needs and lifestyle of this generation and the next. To know more about La Germania and its products, visit www.lagermaniaph.com. The trusted kitchen partner of Filipinos also has its official stores on Shopee and Lazada.

Photos of the chefs and dishes provided by La Germania in a recent press release.

Photo by Yente Van Eynde from Pexels

Worth a listen: February 2021 in music

Audiophiles, want to know what’s up in the world of music this month? Check out my rundown below!

Dark pop songstress Naomi G upholds feminist virtues on new song “Prey”

Singapore-based artist Naomi G has released her contemplative pop single “Prey” in an attempt to reclaim greater tenure as a woman knowing her worth in a relationship. The track, invocative of Banks’ chilling despair on some notes and The Weeknd’s midnight sentiments on others, resolves itself by criticizing structural behaviors that oppress women and upholding virtues that are necessary to curb patriarchal pressures. 

As Naomi G puts it, “I wanted to empower young people who are faced with unwanted or unhealthy sexual attention that causes them to psycho-socially feel like ‘Prey’. This song is an anthem of power to those who have been gaslighted, dominated, manipulated, harassed and controlled based on their gender and looks. This song is a movement about saying no quickly and firmly, whilst understanding all the microaggressions that be before getting into any kind of deception.”

“Prey” is a brooding synth-pop jam that begins with motif-roving synths whose presence comes in forcibly and dips out in an exhale after the purposeful exercise of each line. A minimal percussion drives it, morphing into a choppy, playful, and hard-hitting stomper that’s enough to catch listener’s attention. 

The resulting musical concoction builds up into a riveting climax where dark pop, trap and hip-hop accents come together seamlessly, complementing pop feminism in its own terms. 

“Prey” is the second single for Naomi G’s debut EP which is scheduled for release over 2021.

SZA makes a splash on PH charts with hit single “Good Days

The numbers are in: SZA’s “Good Days” is officially her biggest hit to date in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. In the country alone, the soulful single remains unstoppable with its No. 2 peak at Spotify Philippines Viral 50 and a top 15 placement at Spotify Philippines Top 50.

Over at mainstream radio, the critically acclaimed R&B songstress is performing well on several top 40 stations. This week, “Good Days” ranks No. 5 on 99.5 Play FM, a major pop station; No. 7 on Wave 89.1 FM, a rhythmic and urban-leaning station; and has gained prominent spots on Magic 89.9 (No. 23), and more.

“Good Days,” the second track following 2020’s “Hit Different,” is one of her two new headline releases since 2017’s groundbreaking multi-platinum debut, CTRL—an album that garnered significant critical attention for “laying bare the kind of vulnerability most often whispered in private” and for its “believable insights into one woman’s quest for erotic self-determination.”

Written and produced by SZA, Jacob Collier, Carlos Muñoz, Carter Lang, and Christopher Ruelas and mixed by Shawn Everett, the laid-back tune was released as a surprise drop on Christmas eve last year. More than a week after its debut, the buzzy empowerment anthem skyrocketed at No. 1 on US Spotify Streaming Chart, and has since peaked within the top 10 of other major music markets including the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, and New Zealand.

To date, the track has racked up more than 75 million streams on Spotify and more than 20 million cumulative hits on YouTube in just a month.

Aside from its commercial triumph, “Good Days” also made an indelible impression among music critics. Hip-hop magazine, The Source praised the new song for “mastering bliss and serenity all at once.” The publication adds, “In particular, the rawness of her vocals creates an ethereal energy that dives deeper into SZA`s unmatched creativity as a songwriter.” British music bible, NME called her comeback single “worth the wait,” citing how her voice has grown more sophisticated and carefree through the years.

Elha Nympha reasserts confidence with new soulful single, “Do It”

Elha Nympha arrives with both finesse and maturity on “Do It,” her comeback single under MCA Music Inc.

Now exploring a more sophisticated take on R&B, pop, and neo-soul, the former champion of The Voice Kids Season 2 reasserts confidence and sass in delivering a romantic confession that appeals beyond her particular demographic.

When she sings, “Come on over a little closer / Take me where I’ve never been,” she takes full control of the quiet storm brewing: her voice fluttering effortlessly over dreamy arrangements and soft keyboard tones, taking the spotlight with ease.

“Do It” is a suave R&B jam that tackles the beauty of taking bolder steps when it comes to love. Upon hearing the song for the first time, Elha got excited to record the material as it barely sounds like anything she’s recorded in the past. “I’m happy with where the direction of my music is going,” the 16-year-old star said in a statement. “Do It unravels a more vulnerable side of my artistry, and this is exactly the kind of music that I want to keep making—something that is young and current, but very much me.”

“Do It” has earned comparisons with the likes of SZA, Jhené Aiko, and H.E.R., embracing the fundamental agency of womanhood and young love in all its messiness and glory. While Elha is elated with the feedback that she’s been getting from her mentors and music listeners, she wants to forge a path of her own and make music that is distinctly a product of her own sense of style and adventurousness. The promising pop sensation admits, “As a fan, I can definitely see myself doing the same kind of music. But there’s more to my sound than being pigeonholed into a category. For now, I’m ready for where this journey would take me, musically. I’m definitely looking forward to creating something that is original and unique.”

SB19’s Justin De Dios stars as Alex Bruce’s love interest in “Yakap” music video

SB19 fans (or A’TIN) are in for a treat as their very own Justin De Dios makes a surprise cameo in the music video of Alex Bruce’s endearing bop “Yakap”—released on February 5 (Friday) on video-sharing platform, YouTube.
Justin De Dios portrays Alex Bruce’s love interest in this visual spectacle filled with incredibly surreal and romantic scenes. “It’s a fun and creative concept,” De Dios said. “I really like the fact that the MV showcases both the ‘maangas’ and cute sides of Alex.”

Appearing like a P-pop charmer that Alex Bruce has been pining for in her dreams, De Dios was seen exchanging smiles with the young hip-hop sensation, sharing cute moments together as they engage in pillow fights, fake tattooing, and other onscreen activities.

According to the R&B/hip-hop star, working with Justin De Dios was totally fun, especially given how friendly and warm he is with everyone on the set. Alex Bruce fondly shares in a statement, “I’m really into Korean dramas, and Justin somehow looked the part: innocently good-looking and very much charismatic. As a leading man, he really shone effortlessly in terms of acting, and gave us the kilig that we truly deserve.”

De Dios returns the favor by praising Alex Bruce’s artistry and talent. “I am really impressed with her skills. I wanted to introduce her to A’TIN as she could be a source of inspiration for a lot of young dreamers too.” He recounts how Alex was very shy during their first meet, but as the shoot went on, they eventually got along very well. “She’s an interesting kid, and we had a lot of fun talking to each other about random things. One thing I also noticed while working with her is how close she is to her parents. It’s very adorable!”

Alex Bruce is grateful to the production for allowing her to showcase some of her personal artworks and Beanie Boos collection. “I love owls, so there’s plenty of them in my shelf—as seen in the music video. I had a great time drawing and showcasing my artworks for the very first time. I hope it won’t be the last.”

“Yakap” was penned by Bruce as a tribute to young love, and was conceived as a three-way collaboration featuring the fourteen-year-old teen star, her Australia-based dad, and music producer Cursebox. The song garnered significant attention in late October 2020 for its infectious pop sensibilities and to quote Rappler, for its “first brushes at puppy love.”

Foo Fighters release tenth studio album: Medicine at Midnight

Foo Fighters have finally released their highly anticipated 10th studio album, Medicine at Midnight under Roswell Records/RCA Records.

Following delays due to the unprecedented challenges of releasing an album during the pandemic, Medicine at Midnight finally landed late last week with nine tracks of power-driven, anthemic rock tunes that drummer Taylor Hawkins described as more “pop-oriented” than previous releases.

On its first day, the American rock band’s latest record peaked at No. 1 on several iTunes album charts worldwide, and is raring for one of rock music’s biggest debuts on major music markets this year, including the United States, UK, Australia, and more. It also garnered significant traction from several music publications worldwide, with Wall Street Journal calling it “one of Foo Fighters’ best albums of this century,” and British music publication, NME declaring the new release as “the soundtrack to the summer we all crave.”

Medicine at Midnight’s release wraps up Foo Fighters’ week-long partnership with Spotify, which featured surprise ‘Midnight Drops’ of exclusive video, audio, and playlist content— an occasion marked by the band’s larger than life appearance on Spotify’s Times Square billboard.

To celebrate the release of their new album, the Foo Fighters will host a special six-part radio series: Medicine at Midnight Radio on Apple Music Hits. Each band member will host an hour-long episode where they’ll explore their personal inspirations and reflect on the creative process behind the album. Fans can tune in every day next week, beginning Monday, February 8th at 4:00p PST on Apple Music Hits at apple.co/FFRadio and simultaneously on the band’s new limited-run SiriusXM channel, Foo Fighters Radio (channel 105). Dave also joined Zane Lowe on his daily Apple Music 1 show earlier this week to chat about the album.

Medicine at Midnight is produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters, engineered by Darrell Thorp and mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent.

Foo Fighters are Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee.

YouTube sensations Agassi Ching and Jai Asuncion star in Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” music video

Content creators Agassi Ching and Jai Asuncion are featured in the latest music video of Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga.”

The onscreen and offscreen love team amassed a fandom in social media with pranks, viral videos, and challenges. In “Siguro Nga,” JaiGa—as they are popularly known for—portray a fictional romantic couple in disarray.

According to the band’s vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon, Agassi is a dear friend whom he plays basketball with every Tuesday. “I also produced the song he wrote for Jai during the stricter quarantine period through file sharing,” he said. “I also watch their daily vlogs. On some level, I felt like I was always involved in their love story. It just made sense to cast them.”

The video shows Agassi Ching singing “Siguro Nga” in a neon-lit karaoke bar, while Jai Asuncion is in the very same room with friends, silently crying and hurting inside. Separated by their own version of realities, both characters try to move forward with the changes in their respective lives, albeit having a difficulty wiping out their memories together—especially with the song forever binding them in spirit.

“A person’s go-to videoke song says so much about who they are and what they are about,” Yuzon reveals. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Guitarist Armo Armovit shares that the visual treatment focuses on honoring people who are no longer present by living lives with meaning and memory. “We want them to feel nostalgia for a person in their past who was a meaningful presence in their lives; sadness for the loss, but also, hope for the future.”

The music video also comes with a meta-karaoke version of the track that allows fans to sing their hearts out and engage with the narrative.

Inspired by the hit K-drama, StartUp, Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” was written by Yael Yuzon as a tribute to one of its beloved characters, Han Ji-Pyeong. Its lyric video features various footage from Seoul, South Korea that includes locations from the series.

Zack Tabudlo maps his music journey with new single “Iyong-Iyo”

The beginning of Zack Tabudlo’s Island Records journey saw the young singer-songwriter going full speed ahead. His song ‘Sigurado’ hit the Top Viral PH charts and stayed there for four weeks, following its feature in the online series Your Home. There’s also ‘Cruel,’ whose music video was released a few months ago and has racked up more than 70,000 views on YouTube and more than 240,000 streams on Spotify.

Zack’s biggest single to date, the first one under Island Records Philippines, is the sultry ‘Nangangamba,’ whose play count on Spotify clocks in at over a million streams.

And Zack shows no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by his latest single ‘Iyong Iyo.’ Written by Tiny Corpuz and performed by Zack Tabudlo, ‘Iyong Iyo’ sees Zack putting it all on the line and giving everything—literal possession. “Kahit pa ba sa kabilang buhay, ‘di maglalaho,” he croons in the glimmering chorus, showcasing his lyrical penchant for themes like romance and longing. Gentle harmonies and mellow instrumentation make you feel like you’re floating, and allow Zack to flex the upper register of his vocal range, his high notes triumphant and sincere.

“I was really in touch with making the album art of the song as well, having a Halloween-like ghost costume in it which shows a person under a white cloth with holes in it, but has this heart glowing from his chest,” says Zack. “He wants to be like the ghost to really feel the same connection, with his heart glowing, symbolizing how much love he feels for the ghost.”

According to Zack, the song was inspired by the original Thai song for the “Let’s Fight Ghost” series, which is set to air on March 2021. The acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer shares, “I wanted to take it to a different world with different styles and vibe compared to the original. It has a very slow blues-pop feel to it production wise. I wanted to go for something mellow having the foundation from the original one but has a “slow dance” feel to it instead of going full ballad.”

Ben&Ben surprise listeners with Valentine’s-themed track “Inevitable”

Filipino folk-pop outfit Ben&Ben have officially dropped a soaring new single called “Inevitable” this Valentine’s Day via Sony Music.

Inspired by recent events surrounding the band’s lives, their latest song encourages listeners and music fans to live in the moment freely and truthfully without the need to succumb to expectations.

Ushering into a reinvigorating sense of calm, the empowering track ascends to a place where love can be inevitably beautiful even in its simple, unassuming terms. It was written by Paolo Benjamin (lead vocals and acoustic guitars) during a random afternoon run by the beach near the place where Ben&Ben live—coming into fruition after a solitary moment spent with nature and the spiritual force above him. Paolo reflects, “Inevitable is a song that tries to describe the nature of fate, and how all our actions somehow lead us to some better place that is destined for us. It’s also a song about being real with someone, and that no matter how scary that may seem at times, there is freedom in bearing your truest nature with someone dear to you, even if that someone is yourself.”

Production-wise, Ben&Ben retain the sonic hallmarks of their prior releases, while employing ultimately rewarding experiments in texture and tone. Its ‘world music-meets-acid jazz’ sound displays the band’s newfound musical direction, melding sporadic bursts of colors with their otherworldly approach. Thanks to the song’s eclectic blend of sitar-sounding riffs, propellent rhythms, jazzy chords, and ethereal arrangements, the nine-piece band ventures beyond the confines of their radio-ready sound without alienating the distinct pop sensibilities that made their songs a streaming and crossover hit in the Philippines, and elsewhere in Asia.

“The songwriting in itself presents a concept of the state that is both a surreal mystery and a peaceful certainty, so we wanted to create an aural representation of what these lyrics felt like,” Miguel Benjamin (lead vocals and acoustic guitars) reveals in a statement. “Our process started with a mix of acoustic guitars, which I tweaked with sitar effects as the main intro riff; kind of like a representation of the two contrasting feelings working together. We then built everything around this contrasting union with Jam’s drums and Agnes’ bass carrying the steady base of the song, and then Pat’s piano, Poch’s electric guitar and pads, Keifer’s violin, Andrew and Toni’s percussions; Andrew, Miguel, Poch, and Toni’s backing vocals, and some ambient sounds.”

Unlike their usual process where the members of the band jam their song a few times before recording the material, “Inevitable” was born out of a shift in production perspective. “With this song however, we decided to record a demo individually then went to record our parts a few days after without knowing how the song would sound like in the end,” Poch Barretto (lead guitar, backing vocals) said. “During the time we were creating the song, one of our bandmates, Toni, was also recovering from a major surgery and had to record her parts from home. Thankfully she was able to send her parts on time with the help of our producer.”

Despite the several challenges during its recording phase, “Inevitable” ended up reaping significant attention before its actual release. The song eventually made it as the official theme of Smart Communications’ newest commercial ad featuring Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin—stars of the highly acclaimed and popular Korean drama, Crash Landing on You. Patricia Lasaten shares, “Many of us are mega fans of the CLOY couple, so this is definitely a dream collaboration with Smart. We can’t help but be kilig and at the same time wish that our co-fans who would hear the song would also connect it with the evolving story of Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin. It’s also our gift to the fans, and to the couple as well. We’d like to thank Smart for this amazing opportunity.”

Details provided in recent press releases.

Get started on your wellness journey with Sunlife’s GoWell Studio

We’re halfway through the first month of the year and if you haven’t gotten around to making good on your New Year’s resolutions to live healthy, here’s a good place to start.

GoWell Studio is an on-demand holistic wellness platform launched by Sun Life Philippines as part  of its commitment to help Filipinos live healthier lives.

GoWell Studio

In this site, you can find top-notch content such as follow-along exercise programs, guided meditation sessions, various masterclasses, short courses, and healthcare awareness and education. These will be led by some of the country’s leading fitness coaches, doctors, allied health professionals, and educators.

GoWell Studio

Got a question for a specialist?  Using the platform, you can look up from a directory various experts from whom you can seek personalized health and wellness advice. The line-up includes Ginastica Natural Philippines Founder Mark Cupino; Bukodon, Yin and Vinyasa Yoga Instructor Anna Manalastas; Myotherapist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Filbert Tan; Pilates Coach and Animal Flow Instructor Trisha Buhat; Founder of Awake.ph and Modern-day Kriya Yogi Neil Salang; Sound Healer Coach Yeyette San Luis; World Kettlebell Club Strength and Conditioning Coach Tim Ayson; Alab Pilipinas, UP men’s basketball, and Petrogazz Angels Volleyball team’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Chappy Callanta; and Sports Performance Specialist and F45 Functional Strength Coach Andro Amador, among others.

Access to the GoWell Studio may be enjoyed exclusively by Sun Fit and Well, Sun Senior Care, and Sun Cancer Care policyholders simply by registering in the GoWell website (gowell.com.ph).

GoWell Studio

“We take pride in GoWell Studio’s team of highly credible experts and carefully curated content, all of which a member can access in the comforts of his own home,” Sun Life Chief Marketing and Client Experience Officer Gilbert Simpao said. “Taking care of ourselves remains crucial now that we are still in the middle of the pandemic. We invite everyone to become members of GoWell, Sun Life’s community that promotes holistic wellness through a fit and active lifestyle, healthy eating, and living a healthier life.”

Those who wish to know more about Sun Life’s health and accident insurance products are encouraged to consult a Sun Life advisor or visit sunlife.com.ph. For more about Sun Life’s health and wellness initiatives, visit gowell.com.ph and follow @SunLifePH and @GoWellPH on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Details provided in a recent press release.

Creativity Lives On: DTI and PFFI showcases a new breed of creativity as the 7th Filipino Footwear Design Competition pushes through for 2020

Adapting to the age of digitally accessible media, FFDC 2020 aims to highlight the creativity and ingenuity of these Filipino creatives to a bigger online audience.

Earlier this year, the Department of Trade and Industry alongside the Philippine Footwear Federation Inc., announced the upcoming annual Filipino Footwear Design Competition for the year 2020. Since the initial call for participants, unforeseen circumstances arose and put a hold on the national contest. With the effects of the CoVid-19 pandemic that struck a nationwide quarantine as well as the recent devastating onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, FFDC 2020 seemed albeit subject to a hindered come through. 

Despite these challenges, hope and optimism rose above for the local shoe industry and the organizational hosts of the competition still persevered to meet their hopes of presenting the talent and ingenuity of Filipino design and craftsmanship. 

The Industry that upholds heritage and innovation 

The Filipino Footwear Design Competition is the annual national competition organized to rally and present the creations of the talented designers and makers of the country. It is often a pre-set in preparation for the International Footwear Design Competition, a prestigious event that highlights footwear design concept and development on a global scale. The objective of FFDC is to encourage more local talents to pursue footwear design as a profession or business and to showcase to the world the resourcefulness and Filipino creativity.

The Department of Trade and Industry along with the Philippine Footwear Federation Inc. (PFFI), serves as the host and presenter of the Filipino Footwear Design Competition. Both parties recognize the importance of raising awareness and support for the local shoe industry as well as developing a commune for skill enhancement to empower the Filipino talent pool. This coincides with DTI’s agenda of supporting the local creative industries to hone its potential towards building the Philippines as one of the top creative economies in Southeast Asia by 2030. PFFI serves as the main founding party behind FFDC given that it is the largest Filipino organization devoted to promoting local footwear. Through the leadership of DTI Regional Director Marcelina Alcantara with PFFI President Antonio Andres, FFDC 2020 will continue the legacy of creativity and innovation brought on for the past seven years. 

A New Breed of Creativity

The official call for participants was held last March 2020, garnering more than 70 unique entries from a number of talented local designers. The design boards submitted are in line with the six categories presented for the competition: Men’s Shoes, Lady’s Trendy, Lady’s Leisure, Lady’s Boot, Children Shoes, and Sports Shoes. These designs then underwent the vetting process of drafting the initial shortlist of finalists who will then be given the opportunity to have their designs professionally prototyped by local manufacturers. 

Launched this December 2020, the 7th annual Filipino Footwear Design Competition pushes through with the theme: Creative Virality; carrying on the objective of reaching a wider audience to celebrate the uniqueness and originality of Filipino talent. Presented by DTI alongside PFFI, and co-presented by the Philippines’ first creation hub for footwear design and development, Zapateria, the national competition gathers the community of the local shoe industry to team up in the mentorship and production of the designs of the Top 8 National Finalists; with the final output to be presented to an esteemed panel of judges. 

FFDC 2020 will also host a number of experiential learning activities; setting forth a program that also empowers the new generation of local creatives. These workshops on footwear making 101, sketching, designing, and cost and projection are also offered for the public to join.

Adapting to the age of digitally accessible media, FFDC 2020 aims to highlight the creativity and ingenuity of these Filipino creatives to a bigger online audience. The development  and creation process of the Top 8 National Finalists will be digitally showcased on the PFFI and Zapateria’s official Facebook and Instagram.

Links:

PFFI – https://www.facebook.com/PhilippineFootwearFederation

Zapateria – https://www.facebook.com/zapateriahub https://instagram.com/zapateriahub

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

TikTok Launches Creative Competition to Solve Real-World Marketing Challenges

TikTok invites marketing and creative professionals as well as agencies in Southeast Asia to participate in the TikTok Trendsetter creative competition. Winners to receive up to US$40,000 in prizes and mentorship with TikTok Global Business Marketing (GBM) executives

TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile videos, is calling all marketing and creative professionals as well as agencies in Southeast Asia to think outside of the box and join the TikTok Trendsetter creative competition. Launched last November 9, 2020, TikTok Trendsetter aims to inspire professionals and agencies in the Philippines to harness the untapped potential of TikTok to solve real-world marketing challenges.

“The power of TikTok is clear, but it requires a new and different way of thinking. Utilizing an entertainment-based platform allows marketers to engage with users in a ‘sound on’ environment, opening an entirely new window of opportunity,” said Ng Chew Wee, TikTok Head of Business Marketing. “Just like our users, we invite marketers to be experimental and explore their creative side while addressing today’s brand challenges through the Trendsetter creative competition.”

Running for over the course of six weeks, the TikTok Trendsetter creative competition is divided into three separate categories including:

  • Individual Category: Individual contestants to submit one TikTok video creative idea that addresses marketing-related challenges for Small and Midsize Businesses (SMBs), and sectors such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Government.
  • Agency Category:Agency contestants to submit a storyboard for at least four TikTok video creative ideas, a media plan leveraging TikTok and one sample TikTok video that addresses marketing-related challenges for industries such as Fintech, Luxury, Automobile, and Telecoms.
  • Existing Campaigns: Campaigns that have already run on TikTok this year can also participate in the competition.

All submissions will need to be submitted by 24 December 2020 with voting for the most creative ideas taking place from 4 to 22 January 2021. The following panel of judges representing in-house and agency creative executives, as well as CMOs and TikTok Creators, will be determining the winners of the competition which will be announced on 1 February 2021:

  • Ng Chew Wee, TikTok Head of Business Marketing
  • Katie Puris, TikTok Managing Director of Global Business Marketing
  • Dianchen Yao, TikTok Head of Client Solutions SEA
  • Nguyen Dinh Toan, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Suntory Pepsico Vietnam
  • Sutirapan Sakkawatra, EVP Head of Marketing at Siam Commercial Bank
  • Roberto Saputra, Chief Brand Officer at Smartfren Telecom
  • Jeff Cheong, DDB Group Singapore Deputy CEO and Tribal Worldwide Asia President
  • Maryzyle Fernadez Galinato, Group Creative Director at Hakuhodo Saigon
  • Pingkan Rarumangkay, Executive Creative Director at Wunderman Thompson Indonesia
  • Tay Guan Hin, Chief Creative Officer of BBDO Singapore
  • Sompat Trisadikun, Chief Creative Officer at The Leo Burnett Group and Publicis Group in Thailand

For each category, regional and local winners will be selected. Agency teams will have a chance to win up to US$40,000 in prizes, while Individual applicants can win a mentorship session with TikTok Global Business Marketing (GBM) executives.

Kantar research shows that in order to tap into the powerful audience response, it is vital to understand TikTok and engage with users on their own terms. To provide a deeper understanding on how to leverage TikTok for marketing purposes, TikTok will also hold a creative workshop on 24 and 26 November in partnership with BBDO Singapore, hosted virtually at https://www.tiktok-trendsetter.com/ for anyone who is interested in learning about leveraging the platform to solve creative challenges.

To enter the competition, view tutorials, best practices and creative playbooks, please visit: https://www.tiktok-trendsetter.com/.

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. TikTok has global offices including Los Angeles, Mountain View, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo.

Details provided by Tiktok in a recent press release.

SM Supermalls dedicates “#AweSMLearning Week” for SuperKid-learners nationwide

The school year 2020-2021 is truly extraordinary as families across the country will transform their homes into fun learning spaces for students who will be on homeschool, blending learning, or distance education programs.

With this, SM Supermalls kicks off its annual Kids’ Month celebration via a special “#AweSMLearning Week” dedicated to all SM kiddie shoppers nationwide. From September 28 to October 4, SM Supermalls’ digital pages will feature various homeschooling tips for students of all ages plus smart shopping hacks for parents.

Also, all SM malls will be happy to assist moms and dads who are set to complete their school essentials list – from traditional school supplies like notebooks, pen, and coloring materials; to educational toys and #AweSMLearning gadgets from SM Cyberzone. So never miss all school supply deals and promos at your favorite SM malls!

For more gadget updates, join the #SMTechAndGadgets Viber Community and access SM Cyberzone’s online gadget reservation portal.

Indeed, everything’s here at SM for your SuperKid-learner’s back-to-school needs!

For more details about #AweSMLearning Week and #SMKidsMonth2020, visit smsupermalls.com.

Header photo created by torwaiphoto – www.freepik.com

CNN and ‘Sesame Street’ to host a town hall on going back to school

Momshies, how are you and your kids adjusting to learning in the New Normal?

As families try to navigate school amid a deadly pandemic, “Sesame Street” and CNN are teaming up for the “The ABCs of Back to School, A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Families.”

From staying safe in classrooms to making the most of virtual learning, the 60-minute special will provide tools and information for families dealing with unique circumstances of school in the era of coronavirus.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and anchor Erica Hill will moderate the hour. They will be joined by Sesame Street Muppets and school-aged children in a variety of learning environments, with Elmo going to preschool during the week, Big Bird in hybrid learning and Rosita fully remote.

The trio will be joined by Abby Cadabby and her brother Rudy, Super Grover and other friends from Sesame Street, along with Sesame Workshop’s Vice President and Education Publisher for Sesame Learning Akimi Gibson.

This special airs Saturday, September 12 at 10pm on CNN (SKYcable ch 27SD | 181HD in Metro Manila and ch 503SD | 705HD in regional areas).

Asian-American rapper Blahza drops new single “Bandz”

Los-Angeles based Asian-American rapper Blahza recently released his first solo single ‘Bandz’ under Umami Records on all digital platforms worldwide.

The latest single follows his previous collaborations with Singaporean electronic producer Xinister on ‘Break’ and with Malaysian lo-fi producer OnlyM on ‘Perfect.’

On the sparse, trap-influenced track, Blahza rhymes about hustling in life, minding your own business, and keeping your cool when the chips are down. Blahza shares the story behind ‘Bandz:’ “The hook is about not worrying about what another person has. And when you don’t have it yourself don’t hate – just go out and get it for yourself.”

According to the Umami Records hip-hop artist, the first verse was written to document his struggles and humble beginnings, trying to make a fortune out of hard work and perseverance. He lays down the second verse with details about his romantic preference, seamlessly changing subjects like a pro. Blahza says, “When the beat played the hook came to me instantly, I felt the message so clearly when I was writing it. The cadence is so catchy.”

‘Bandz’ is the lead single from Blahza’s upcoming EP, Sad Songs For Happy People, scheduled for release in 2021. Blahza also has several collaborations dropping later this year.

About Blahza

Los-Angeles based Asian-American hip hop artist and producer Blahza makes music with a larger than life sound about his afflictions, aspirations, and accomplishments, inspired by the American counterculture of the late 1960s and music from the early 2000s.

Blahza recorded, mixed and mastered Blueface’s record ‘Next Big Thing’ in 2018. In 2019, Blahza opened for Members Only at the first stop of their album tour, and released his EP ‘Bloom’. Blahza has been featured on major playlists including Spotify’s Beats & Rhymes, New Era: Asian Hip-Hop, Border Beats and 都会の空と音楽と.

Born and raised in Van Nuys, of Chinese and Puerto Rican parents, Blahza grew up surrounded by music and diversity. He fell in love with rap music and especially how it bridged different cultures.

About Umami Records

Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster includes releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.

Details and image provided by Umami Records in a recent press release.

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach interviews “candidates” seeking to join online ESL platform 51Talk

Pia Wurtzbach interviews candidates who wish to be part of online English platform 51Talk. The live stream, with hints of a reality and talent show, aims to attract 30,000 new online English teachers to join the platform.

51Talk, together with their new Philippine brand ambassador, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, held its first-ever live stream interview via Facebook after hundreds of aspiring online English teachers signed-up to get a chance to be part of the show. The live stream is part of 51Talk’s campaign to invite qualified Filipinos who are interested to take advantage of the 30,000 home-based online teaching opportunities offered by 51Talk where people can teach, learn and most importantly – earn. 

Listed in the New York Stock Exchange, 51Talk is the leading online English education platform that connects thousands of Filipino teachers to foreign English language learners via an interactive virtual classroom.

More than 70,000 viewers tuned in and joined the fun and inspiring live stream which allowed them to learn more about the teach at home opportunity and acquainted them with the application process that can be completed in as fast as three days. Pia interviewed nine pre-selected candidates from different backgrounds who shared their heartwarming stories on how they found hope in 51Talk after losing their jobs or livelihood.

Several of the candidates expressed how the pandemic has affected their current livelihood, especially those who belong to the travel and events industries. 

Paula, a professional dancer and instructor who has been performing and teaching for 14 years, had a lot of her events and classes cancelled due to COVID-19. She came across the 51Talk online teaching opportunity and decided to give it a shot since she has teaching experience.

“I want to be able to translate my teaching skills from dance and performance arts into teaching English. I just love sharing what I know and see my students grow into the best versions of themselves,” shared Paula. 

Trina, a professional events host, found herself in the same boat as a lot of her hosting gigs were cancelled or postponed indefinitely. 

“While the situation we are in can be very disheartening, I decided to try out as a 51Talk teacher and I’m happy that I made it to this fun interview with no less than Miss Universe  Pia Wurtzbach!” exclaimed Trina. Trina gave the viewers a taste of her fun, entertaining energy as she sang songs both in English and Chinese

Pearl, another one of the candidates, candidly shared how the past few months have been very tough for those in the travel industry. She was about to return as a flight attendant after her maternity leave but her retraining was put on hold as travel restrictions are still in place. Having no income, Pearl said she had to find a stable and sustainable livelihood that would allow her to help her husband, especially now that they have their first child. 

“When I learned about the opportunity in 51Talk, it gave me hope and made me revisit my childhood dream of becoming an educator,” shared Pearl. “Even if I don’t have any teaching experience, I didn’t hesitate to sign-up. I borrowed my sister’s laptop just so I could apply. I’m very excited to start teaching in 51Talk.”

According to 51Talk teacher Angelo Lex who co-hosted the show, being an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher is very profitable as he gets to earn at the comfort and safety of his own home in his preferred schedule. He also shared his excitement when he learned of the platform’s recent announcement about the 20 million pesos incentive program exclusively for 51Talk teachers this month. 

Pia felt ecstatic and inspired since this is her first stint in interviewing candidates online. “It’s a humbling experience to interview such incredible candidates from all walks of life, to hear their unique stories and to witness how talented and passionate they all are,” shared Pia.

Towards the end of the show, Pia said she was moved after hearing the story of one of the candidates, Pearl, the flight attendant who borrowed her sister’s laptop just so she could sign-up to be a teacher at 51Talk. Pia surprised everyone as she decided to personally give Pearl a laptop to help her get started in her online teaching career. 

“We see your hard work and we’re very sorry for what you’re going through as a young mom. I find you very engaging and who has so much potential,” said Pia.

“It’s such an honor to represent 51Talk as their brand ambassador and to be able to connect to thousands of Filipinos through this live stream. I hope it inspired them and gave them joy.” 

Pia considers empowering Filipinos as her top advocacy, now more than ever when thousands of Filipinos have lost their livelihood due to the pandemic.

“I am encouraging all qualified individuals to sign-up and to seize this wonderful livelihood opportunity. See you in our next live stream!” exclaimed Pia. 

Next month, 51Talk will be doing another round of interviews with a new set of candidates via their official Facebook page. To get a chance to be interviewed, showcase your talent, and have a #DateWithPiaAt51Talk, sign-up via 51Talk’s website at www.51Talk.ph.