Mango-licious sights and savour tour

One of the 27 windmills in San Lorenzo, Guimaras; and fresh catches of the day: parrot fish and lobster

It’s summer, a season of fun and frolic, and it’s the time to visit Guimaras, the mango capital of the Philippines!

So, in time for the month-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the island’s provincehood, the Guimaras Provincial Tourism Office, in coordination with the Municipal Tourism Offices of Buenavista, Jordan, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo and Sibunag, took yours truly and some media practitioners for a sight and savour tour to some interesting spots. The Provincehood anniversary coincides with the annual Manggahan Festival!

The first stop was the windmill farm in San Lorenzo. At the town’s gymnasium, we witnessed the launching of the Manggahan Festival 2017 with eat-all-you-can-mangoes contest and mango chandelier making competition.

The Lopez Summer House in Roca Encantada (top left);the façade of Navalas Church (bottom left); the arch-tunnel leading to Navalas Church; and flowers bloom at the Lopez Summer House in Roca Encantada

On the way to Roca Encantada, Buenavista, we saw infrastructure development left and right, a testament to booming Guimaras. The famous landmark in Roca Encantada is the Lopez Summer House. It was a sight to behold. The idyllic mansion was declared a heritage house by National Heritage Institute. It was built in honour of Doña PRESENTACION HOFILEÑA LOPEZ.

We also dropped by Navalas Church. Built in 1880, it is the oldest Roman Catholic Church and only existing heritage church in Guimaras. While it maintained its Spanish era façade, the interiors have been renovated.

Then it was time for lunch at The Pitstop in Buenavista town proper. There we enjoyed on everyday dishes with a twist — by having their flavours were enhanced by mango! The must-try dishes were Mango Beef Bulalo, Chicken Mango Adobo Twist, Bangus Sisig with Mango Bits and Chopsuey. They were complemented with refreshing Guimaras Blend Juice. The piece de resistance of our lunch was the delicious Mango Pizza!

Mango Beef Bulalo, Chicken Mango Abodo Twist and Bangus Sisig with Mango Bits, Mango Pizza, and Chopsuey

The Holy Family Hills is another must-visit place. It is a beautiful pilgrimage site in San Lorenzo. It boasts of larger than life images of JESUS CHRIST, BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, ST. JOSEPH and the Fourteen Stations, and a chapel.

For leisure tripping and relaxation, Marceily Point Inland Resort is a perfect weekend getaway. Amid rolling hills and lush foliage, it is located in San Lorenzo. It is listed in the Top 5 of the 17 resorts in Guimaras.

The Jordan Wharf, our entry and exit point, was bustling with activities. Local, national and international tourists competed for space and attention. Which brings me to my point: Guimaras is a must-visit destination. Business is booming, development is everywhere, food is good, and hospitality is warm! What more can you ask for?

The towering image of Holy Family (left);  a pseudo ruin of a church façade at Holy Family Hills (center); the chapel at Holy Family Hills (top right);  and the swimming pool at Marceily Point Inland Resort (bottom right) 


Making it global

John Pagulayan, Leif Bryan Margallo, Miguel Warren, Yen Gonzales De Felipe and Alfredo Delola

No less than MIGUEL WARREN, the Country Manager of Payoneer, jetted in to Metro-Iloilo to introduce his company in a presscon and a forum at Seda Hotel Atria.

Based in New York and founded in 2005, Payoneer is a cross border payment to payment company. It is a Top 5 online outsourcing company in the world. According to him, Payoneer “empowers global commerce by connecting businesses, professionals, countries and currencies with its innovative payments platforms.” It has easy start (free start and no bank account needed), lower rates (keep more of your earnings with better rates), faster payments (quick and easy international payments), global coverage (receive payments from US, UK and EU), and greater flexibility (transfer funds to your local bank or Payoneer Master Card).

While doing business in Philippines since 2009, it opened its office in Manila in 2016. With payments from international sources, its target market includes the OFW – Online Freelance Workers! It also aims of developing the countryside by providing jobs to online freelancers.

MIGUEL WARREN added that payments can be access with local banks as E-check (with 3% charge), Global Virtual Receiving Accounts (0% to 1% charge) and Credit Cards (mid-market rate of 2%), and through ATMs.

The presscon was followed by the 1st Payoneer Forum in Iloilo City for professionals and entrepreneurs. The event brought together more than 100 freelancer, affiliates, and entrepreneurs and discussed various topics related to business and entrepreneurship in the Philippines and worldwide.

The speakers included MIGUEL WARREN who spoke on “Connecting businesses, professionals, countries and currencies;” JOHN PAGULAYAN, Email Marketeer and Freelancing Advocate (“7 phases to a 7 figure freelance business”); LEIF BRYAN MARGALLO, CEO/Founder, virtual Workforce Professionals (“An on-line freelancer turned BPO CEO”); YEN GONZALES De FELIPE, CEO, Maven Tech Solutions, Inc. (“Challenges related to putting up an online business”); and ALFREDO DELOLA, Freelancer (“How I became an online freelancer”).

Throughout the event, there was networking opportunities.


The search for a Mango-licious beauty

Mutya ng Guimaras 2017 candidates in their swimwear

While it is true that Guimaras is world-famous for its sweet mangoes and picturesque beaches, it is also known for its beautiful ladies! A testament to that is the annual search for Mutya ng Guimaras.

This year, eight beauteous candidates representing Buenavista, Jordan, Nueva Valencia, Sibunag and San Lorenzo will vie for the coveted title of Mutya ng Guimaras 2017 and the chance to be the province’s Ambassadress of Goodwill and to compete in the prestigious Reyna ng Aliwan! Rightfully so, Aliwan Festival is the mother of all festivals in the Philippines.


Rowena Grandeza, Mutya ng Guimaras 2016

The five municipalities will take turn in hosting the series of pre-pageant activities leading to coronation night on May 19, 2017 at the Provincial Capitol Gymnasium. This aims to bring the pageant nearer to the town residents and to give each town the chance to take part in the activities and experience their warmth hospitality.

The Search for Mutya ng Guimaras is among the many event highlights of the Manggahan Festival this May 11 to 22.

The Mutya ng Guimaras 2017 candidates were launched in a presscon at Seda Hotel and a fashion show at Robinsons Place Iloilo, and vied for attention in Resort Wear Competition in San Lorenzo, Swimwear Competition in Jordan and Casual Wear Competition and Preliminary Interview in Nueva Valencia.

Ancella Denise Pastias, Mutya ng Buenavista, Demi Vilches, Mutya ng Sibunag, Donnabelle Tahan, Mutya ng Jordan and Irynne Jo Vilches, Mutya ng San Lorenzo

The candidates will also see action and competition in Talent Presentation on April 30 in Buenavista, and Festival Costume and Designer Fashion Parade on May 7 in Sibunag.

Mutya ng Guimaras 2017 is presented by the provincial government of Guimaras with Travel and Marketing Experts Corporation as its official event organizer.

Jhona Mae Gauzon, Mutya ng Jordan; Josephine Segovia, Mutya ng Nueva Valencia; Lorelie Galila, Mutya ng Nueva Valencia; and Mary Eve Escoto, Mutya ng Nueva Valencia


More than a woman

The celebrator Linda Corteza (center) with Susan and Mars Florete, and with Sandra Gomez, who gave her a 3-tiered birthday cake, and Yolly Altavas; and Celso and Nelly Ledesma

Woman of style and substance LINDA CORTEZA invited friends and family over at the VIP Room of Lighthouse Resto + Bar to celebrate another good year! She asked everyone to come in various hues of green and they did!

Vivacious ARLETTE DELES-LEDESMA took care of the ambience, complete with eye-catching selection of delicious dishes.

With more than enough food, drinks and groovy music for the guests to enjoy, the party continued until way past midnight!

Linda Corteza with Sandra Gomez (standing), Pauline Grace Potato, Rosalie Adong, Ferdinand Yanes, Ellen Constantino, Daniel Robles and Ruben Alcoriza; with Nonoi Ybiernas and Jasmine Castelo; with yours truly; and with Arlette Ledesma and Susan Florete (standing), and Boy and Gloria Quisumbing, and Gigi and Roger Oñate

Congratulations, Dr. Risa O. Peña

Dr. Nap Tiongco, Kiks Castelo, Sarah O. Peña and Joanne Marie Castelo; Judgee Peña with Pane Rosales and Sheila Marie G. Tiongco; the Peña sisters: Rica, Dr. Risa and Atty. Rita; and Arch. Carmelo Celis, Judgee Peña, Jun Borromeo, Bella Borromeo, Dr. Paul Francia, Cristy Borromeo, Sarah O. Peña and Dr. Marovi Celis

There was a good reason for the PEÑA family to celebrate as RISA O. PEÑA passed the licensure exams for physicians. She is now a certified doctor!

Couple JUDGEE and SARAH PEÑA hosted a celebratory bash at the family residence in Ledesco Village and guests from media, politics and society came to wish the new doctor all the best. The youngest in the family, soon-to-be engineer RICA also belatedly marked her birthday that night! The eldest daughter, Atty. RITA jetted in from Cosmo-Manille just for the occasion.

Dong Sarabia and Dr. Risa O. Peña with Terry S. Sarabia, Maritess Lim and Fanny Uy; Lemuel Jardiniano, Romel Jalbuena, John Mondejar, Judgee L. Peña, Siegfred Jalbuena, Edgar Jaudian and George Benedicto; Atty. Rita O. Peña with Beia and Mars Florete; and Rica O. Peña with Iloilo City Councilor Jay Treñas and Dr. Kristine Gaona-Treñas

The PEÑA party is always characterized with good food, fine wine, perfect ambience and delightful company. This celebratory bash was no exception. Why not? After all, the lady of the house, SARAH P. is one of Philippine Tatler’s Top Hostesses!

The family’s favourite caterer, WILSON ESPARANCILLA, provided the delicious food. An endless flow of beveragic delights helped make the party a big success.

Risa O. Peña with Ray Gomez, Charrie Lui and Sandra Sarabia-Gomez; Cecile and Gary Gison; Anika, Dr. Arlene, Paolo and Miko Tirador; and Bravo, James and Sean Peña

The enjoyable evening was also highlighted by performances of Sidlangan Dance Troupe, followed by plenty of dancing, which kept the guests on their feet till midnight!

Nonoi Ybiernas and Gila Ybiernas-Oquendo; Baby, Norma and Pangging Rosales; Nikko R. Cid; and Pangging Rosales and yours truly

PSINP Rey Sumagaysay, Judgee L. Peña, PSINP Rey C. Teñala and Ramon Blanca with Lalaine Sumagaysay, Analene Teñala and Reshan C. Teñala; Alan and Prima Sweeney; Jeremy Cembrano, Dr. Risa O. Peña, Rica O. Peña and Niño Fernandez; and Jasmine Castelo and Pam Amarillo



A luau party

Couple Trevor John and Jeanette Lloyd; Linda Hoblitzel; Nikko Cid with Pane, Pangging and Norma Rosales; and Susie Facultad and Atty. Dwight Trasadas

A luau party was thrown for TREVOR JOHN LLOYD to celebrate seventy memorable years! Done to emulate a festive Hawaiian beach, the bash was held at the Clubhouse of the swanky Puerto Real de Iloilo – all to the plans and supervision of the celebrator’s wife JEANETTE TAÑALES-LLOYD.

About a hundred guests, including close family and friends, were present to cheer and honour the joyful celebrator. They had a splendid time engaging in cocktail toasts and talk while catching a glimpse of the sunset before enjoying the sumptuous dinner buffet of chef par excellence WILSON ESPARANCILLA.

Iloilo City Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon and wife Girlie Ortaliz-Ganzon; Dick and Ortha Lumanlan; Flora MacMahon, Max Diebel, John Pranger and Prima Buckley-Sweeney; and the Sidlangan Dance Troupe

The party went in crescendo with the highlights of the night. The Sidlangan Dance Troupe performed an upbeat Tahitian routine and an energy-packed Bollywood number to the applause and cheer of everyone!

Metro-Iloilo most dancing-est competed for action and space on the dancefloor as they grooved to the music of Spice of Life.

Trevor John and Jeanette Lloyd with Dr. Leo and Atty. Charmagne Malunes and children Luca, Cassie and Yna, and MG Lloyd; Eddie Juatas, Dulce Gavino and Charrie Lambatin; Grace Ormas and daughter Mahal Ormas; and Spice of Life Band – Glynis Grace, Edwin and Jessa Joy Juatas


Gwapa/Gwapo: The Fashion Show

Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the 2nd District of Pampanga; Dr. Gold T. Gonzalez; and curtain call: Nono Palmos takes a bow with Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Dr. Pacita Trinidad-Gonzalez and the participating models; 

Because Gwapa/Gwapo was a show of Ilonggos, by Ilonggos and for Ilonggos, it was participated in by Ilonggo movers, shakers and achievers, beauty queens, supermodels and top local runway stars.

Dr. Charmaine Gonzalez-Castillo and Atty. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.; Dr. Marilou Arcelo, Sheila Draper, Dolly Chua, Darlene Ardeña-Go and Diane Jimenez; Prima Buckley-Sweeney, Virma Yasa, Putli Fuerte, Kathleen Ynion and Mayor Trixie Fernandez of San Enrique, Iloilo

International Ilonggo fashion designers NONO PALMOS, who has done shows in US, Europe and Asia, presented his latest prêt-a-porter and haute couture collections at the Jade Ballroom of Grand Xing Imperial Hotel.

His Kalye creations included upbeat and colourful streetwear done in update hablon fabric and patterns.

Adolfo and Greta Ngalongalay; Jojo Ang, Dr. Rollin Tabuena and Mayor Mac Napulan of Miag-ao, Iloilo; and Nikko Rosales and Norma Padilla-Rosales

Also in hablon and laser-cut silk, his obra maestra pieces reflected the colors of the undersea.

Images of Iloilo’s famous landmarks, historic buildings and nature scene on LED screen, and fabulous lightings and bubbly and romantic music by show director JANE JAVELLANA and her team added zest to the show!

As if not enough, international concert violinist JOHN LESACA performed ten classical, popular and kundiman numbers much to the delight of the well-heeled crowd.

Miss Dinagyang 1998 Rhea Peñaflorida, Miss Earth Philippine-Fire 2014 Bence Bianzon and Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong; the flowergirls Charis Bulatho and Gwen Javellana; and Bride and Groom: Ria Bolivar and Raphael Kiefer

Produced by mother and daughter Dr. PACITA TRINIDAD-GONZALEZ and Dr. GOLD T. GONZALEZ for the benefit of Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. Foundation, Inc. and its Medical/Dental/Diagnostic Digital Imaging Clinic in Petalsville, Tabuc Suba, Jaro, Iloilo City, the fast-paced Gwapa/Gwapo runway show was choreographed by Iloilo’s Bad Boy of Fashion BO PARCON. (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

John Lesaca; Gwapa/Gwapo host Mafelou Leagogo-Agriam; and Ilongga supermodel Ria Bolivar led the local models Anne, Tracy, Princess and Delza in sashaying the Kalye collection of Nono Palmos

Iloilo’s top runway stars Aileen, Nneka, Kryzza, Samya and Sharon in Kalye pieces by Nono Palmos; guest models: Gwen Javellana, Anton Ang, Chresha Yasa and Bea Tan; and Iloilo’s top male models: Niko, John, Philip, Mark and JJ

Who came to Gwapa/Gwapo… (Part 2)

Rosario Longno, Analyn Palis, Dr. Gold T. Gonzalez and Pinky Longno; Simone de la Cruz, former Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez of Antique and Joan Zaldivar; Joe Marie Agriam and Luz Concepcion; and Sarah Salcedo and Bo Parcon

Together with in-charge of reception, marketing and publicity JOEMARIE AGRIAM of the CREAM Magazine and Philippine Tatler Iloilo correspondent NONOI YBIERNAS, Gwapa/Gwapo producer Dr. GOLD T. GONZALEZ received the long line of guests at the Jade Ballroom of Grand Xing Imperial Hotel. Everyone mingled through the cocktail time and enjoyed each other’s company.

The Welcome Address of woman of style Dr. PACITA TRINIDAD-GONZALEZ was followed by a sumptuous dinner.

Violet Trinidad and Norma Trinidad, Baby Porras and Pinky Rojo, Alan Sweeney and Neil Symonde, and Baby Lim and Georgette Legara; Hilda Alvior-Ardeña with Kathleen Segovia and Dericka Grances Go; Gila Ybiernas-Oquendo with friends; and Iloilo City Councilor Atty. Joshua Alim, Mr. and Mrs. Tiger Moon Jae Den, and Susie Facultad

The formalities of the Part 2 of the program included show introduction of host MAFELOU LEAGOGO-AGRIAM, and introduction of the Guest Speaker by Dr. GOLD T. GONZALEZ who later presented, with video and photo support, the mission and vision of Raul M. Gonzalez Foundation, Inc., its Medical/Dental/Diagnostic Digital Imaging Clinic in Petalsville, Tabuc Suba, Jaro, Iloilo City, and the men and women behind it.

In her speech, former President and now Rep. GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO of the 2nd District of Pampanga lauded the fund-raising efforts the foundation and the services the clinic offers. It was followed by a toast for success by Rep. GMA, and mother and daughter Dr. PACITA TRINIDAD-GONZALEZ and Dr. GOLD T. GONZALEZ.

Cathy Poral Liboon, Lily Tan, Baby Ang and Delia Goldberg; Jerry and Sheila Draper with their daughters; Gila Ybiernas-Oquendo with Chinabank officemates; and Lilian Javellana, Jane Javellana, Jojo T. Gonzalez, Dr. Gold T. Gonzalez, Gwen Javellana, Dr. Pacita Trinidad-Gonzalez, Dr. Charmaine Gonzalez-Castillo and Atty. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

Dr. GOLD T. GONZALEZ’s audio and visual presentation segued to the piece the resistance of the night’s event – Gwapa/Gwapo: The Fashion Show. As the lights dimmed and at first beat of the music, everyone was ready for the prêt-a-porter and haute couture collections of Ilonggo international fashion designer NONO PALMOS! (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)


Who came to Gwapa/Gwapo… (Part 1)

The Jade Ballroom of Grand Xing Imperial Hotel is all set for Gwapa/Gwapo; Former President of the Republic of the Philippines and now Representative of the 2nd District of Pampanga Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo entering the Jade Ballroom for Gwapa/Gwapo;Jojo T. Gonzalez; and Gold T. Gonzalez, Dr. Pacita Trinidad-Gonzalez and Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo toast the success of Gwapa/Gwapo.

Metro-Iloilo’s most sociable and generous came to Gwapa/Gwapo to see and be seen – all in the name of fashion and charity!

Yes, Gwapa/Gwapo is a fund-raising event staged at Jade Ballroom of Grand Xing Imperial Hotel by mother and daughter Dr. PACITA TRINIDAD-GONZALEZ and Dr. GOLD T. GONZALEZ for the benefit of Raul M. Gonzalez Foundation, Inc. for its Medical/Dental/Diagnostic Digital Imaging Clinic in Petalsville, Tabuc Suba, Jaro, Iloilo City. The clinic provides free medical services for the indigent Ilonggos.

Dr. Gold T. Gonzalez, Dr. Pacita Trinidad-Gonzalez and Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo toast the success of Gwapa/Gwapo; Jasmine Castelo, Nonoi Ybiernas, Pangging Rosales, Pane Rosales and Joe Marie Agriam; Rita O. Peña, Sarah Opolencia-Peña and yours truly; Cecilia and John Beckley, Chona and Romy Bondoc, and Nicole and Ronald Sebastian; and Claudine Bondoc, Lulu Yap and Sabrina Lim

The worthy event was graced by former President of the Republic of the Philippines and now Representative of the 2nd District of Pampanga GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, no less!

The starry night kicked off with cocktails at the foyer of Jade Ballroom. Everyone enjoyed on sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, endless beveragic delights and fun conversation. The mood set the pace for things to come that night. (To be continued. Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Pinky and Mayor Jesry Palmares of Passi City, Mia Van and Iloilo City Councilor Plaridel Nava, Joseph Teruel and Engr. Zinnia P. Teruel, and Violet and Greg Trinidad; Jean Ann Ang, Bea Tan, Iya Ang and Nina Ang; Lourdes Lim, Helma Sy, Maritess Lim and Rovea Onglatco; and Jungi Fuerte, Marilou Arroyo-Lesaca and Jobert Cocjin