Art with a heart

Artist PG Zoluaga with yours truly, with Allain Hablo, Marvin Monfort Banaag, Allyn May Canja and Kristopher Brasileño, and poses before one of his Green Habitat paintings.

Pinoy Icon-Juan Luna 2011 awardee PG ZOLUAGA is always known for his advocacy-driven works. So, it was no surprise that he mounted “Habitat” at Gallery i at the recently renovated Old Iloilo International Hotel. The exhibition venue is the new home of the former Casa Real Gallery.

The 21-piece exhibit drew inspirations from the state of the environment in the Philippines. Habitat is from the Latin word habitare, which means it inhabits. “Habitat refers to the natural environment in which an organism or a population normally lives,” enthused the artist.

The Black Habitat paintings

The Red Habitat paintings

The paintings were divided into three dramatic colors: Black, Red and Green. Black Habitat dramatizes the impact of deforestation and pollution on the environment while Red Habitat represents the catastrophe that can affect human beings, death and destruction, and Green Habitat exemplifies the remaining greens of the land that help sustain life on earth. The color coding aims to stimulate the awareness of the audience on environmental issues that need to be addressed soon if not sooner.

The Green Habitat paintings

The ribbon-cutting ceremony, with Iloilo City Tourism Officer JUNEL ANN DIVINAGRACIA as special guest, was followed by cocktails on the corridors of the art deco building which overlooks the historic Calle Real.

According to the artist, the prices of the paintings ranged from P30,000 to P60,000!

Cocktails on the corridor of the Old Iloilo International Hotel which overlooks Calle Real

High Tea at Mrs. Wharton

Red Velvet, Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Tart, English Scones and sandwiches are laid out before us.

For Mrs. Wharton Pastries London Bakes and English Teas, afternoons are supposed to be spent leisurely. It recently launched High Tea. While enjoying afternoon tea is a fine British tradition, the Mrs. Wharton version has an Ilonggo touch.

With English Tea and good conversation, an assortment of scones, cupcakes, muffins and sandwiches are laid out for one’s delight.

High Tea at Mrs. Wharton, which is located at Southpoint of SM City Iloilo, is a daily afternoon till evening happening! See you there!

Cliff Jason Gulmatico with Jerah Gallinero, Michelle Reyes and Anja Yap

In top hats are Nonoy Taclino, yours truly and Antoine Greg Flores

With their fascinators are Valerie Cualin, Marie Wharton and Rosmar Villalon

Eight ways you want your Managat

The Filipinina-inspired table set by Senior Sales Manager Neljun Guion

Gastronomic delights are regular happenings at Seda Atria Iloilo. The management recently launched the Managat Food Festival with a tres exclusive tasting for food bloggers and lifestyle writers.

The Filipiniana-inspired table set-up at Satin Room by Senior Sales Manager NELJUN GUION drew oohs and aahs from everyone. It set the mood for things to come and the excitement several notches higher!

Fresh fruits and vegetables, candles, lamps, flowers and foliage made up the centerpieces for the table; and Communications Officer Angela Tan can’t wait to try the Managat dishes.

Chef ALBERT LEDESMA and his team more than just grilled and fried managat. They created eight creative and flavorful ways of preparing and cooking it. Also known as mangrove red snapper, mangrove jack and Lutjanus argentimaculatus, it is one of the most popular and expensive types of fleshy fish and endemic in the fishing grounds of Panay and Negros.

Amid the lush setting, we enjoyed on pan-seared, pan-fried, charcoal-grilled, crispy, sweet and sour, Asian hot and sour and oven-baked managat!

Sweet and Sour Managat, Oven-baked Managat Papillote and Pan-fried Managat

The Managat Food Festival is available daily at Misto Restaurant. It kicked off on August 15 and will run till November 15. It is the tribute of Seda Atria Iloilo to the 80th Charter Day Anniversary of Iloilo City.

For more details, inquiries and reservation, please call (033) 506-8888 or (033) 330-7555, email them at, or visit its website at

Charcoal-grilled Managat, Managat Sweet and Sour and Pan-seared Managat

Crispy Managat and Grilled Managat

From lush lagoon to bikini split

Amid the Hampton-inspired interiors, bloggers and media practitioners enjoy hand and foot pampering.

Nailaholics Nail Salon and Spa and Hey Sugar! Waxing Salon at SM City Iloilo hosted an afternoon of pampering and relaxing for the members of the blogging and media community. We were treated to an array of salon pampering from eyebrows to toenails with matching snacks from C’s by L’Fisher Hotel.

The Hampton-inspired interiors set the mood for the hardworking media practitioners to enjoy the hand and foot packages — massages, manicure and pedicure procedures and colorful coats of nail polish — from expert nail technicians and therapists.

Blogger Greg Flores and yours truly get pampered; and snacks from C’s by L’Fisher Hotel.

After all, Nailaholics Nail Salon and Spa has almost 50 years experience. With 50 branches nationwide, it is the country’s go-to nail and spa destination. Surely everyone will enjoy “exceptional services defined by a distinct pampering experience.”

Après my Nailaholic episode, yours truly move next door to Hey Sugar! Waxing Salon. It is the sister company of Nailaholics Nail Salon and Spa.

The Hampton-inspired interiors of Nailaholics Nail Salon and Spa

The salon uses high quality organic wax. It made my Bikini Split experience truly painless. These are the major reasons why Hey Sugar! Waxing Salon should be a regular habit:  products and procedures used by the therapists offer less health risks, lower exposure to allergens, and help nourish the skin yours.

Now yours truly is now ready to hit the beach!

The candy colors are the inspirations of Hey Sugar! Waxing Salon; and with eyebrows being 90% of one’s selfie, great pair arches and perfect brows don’t happen by chance but by appointment at High Brows, also by Hey Sugar! Waxing Salon.  


Your friendly Amiga

Couple Sheila and Jerry Draper with Rev. Fr. Boy Celiz; Mafelou and Joe Marie Agriam; and the interiors of Amiga Salon and Spa Mandurriao

Smarting from the success of the first branch of Amiga Salon and Spa at RSVP Residences II in Timawa Avenue, Molo, Iloilo City, owners JERRY and SHEILA DRAPER opened its second outlet at the upper floor of Crown Building on Q. Abeto Street in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

No less than Rev. Fr. ESPERIDION ‘Boy” CELIZ, Parish Priest of the Espousal of our Lady Parish of Mandurriao, led the blessing and dedication of the salon and spa. Family and friends came to be part of the lunch affair.

Jobert and Rhea Peñaflorida; and Leah Fajardo with son, Sheila Draper and Jacqui Tinsay

Chef MIGUEL J. CORDOVA of Esca’s Catering laid out a sumptuous array of delectables much to everyone’s delight.

The industrial design and interiors of Amiga Salon and Spa present a relaxing ambience with expert and well-trained beauticians and therapists to provide all the beautifying, soothing and satisfying needs of the customers.

Caesar Salad, Potatoes and Sausages and Buttered Vegetables

Squash Soup, Baked Fish Parmigiana, Garlic Chorizo Chicken and Lengua de Champignon

Panna Cotta and Fresh Fruit Slices

Don Ado celebrates his 84th birthday

The celebrator Conrado “Ado” Escudero with Rep. Imelda R. Marcos and his sisters Rosalie and Consuelo;  with Rep. Imelda R. Marcos, Carlo Rojas, Marivic Vazquez, Ito Curata and Glecy Mojares; and with his beautiful “apos.”

Young at heart, tres charmant CONRADO “Ado” ESCUDERO gathered 150 friends at the family-owned Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort to celebrate his 84th birthday! The 400-hectare hacienda is in Tiaong, Quezon.

Rightfully so, everyone was in for a treat! The whole day affair included a mid-morning mass at the Chapel of Ascension, lunch with overflowing buffet of sumptuous dishes and endless beveragic delights at the Coconut Pavilion, special musical numbers highlighted by an opera singer, and a merienda cena to cap the day!

A rondalla ensemble wells the guests while the celebrator poses with Bob Miller; Consul Helen Ong; and concert pianist Ingrid Santamaria, Danny Dolor, Ping Valencia, and couple MayMay and Lior Liechtenstein.

Seen on the scene were Rep. IMELDA ROMUALDEZ-MARCOS of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, best dressed MARIVIC MADRIGAL VAZQUEZ, Consul HELEN ONG, fashion designer ITO CURATA and more beautiful people like them.

Basing on the smile of the host with the most, the celebration was a success! Cheers, Tito ADO for more birthdays to come, happiness and good health! (Photos by Val Porras)

The celebrator joins Sonny Tanchanco, Cora Relovo and John Gaddi; chef Cocoy Ventura; Bert and Nonie Basilio, Mars Lambino and friends; and Johnny Valdez.


Celebrating 29 years

Our hostess with the mostest Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing with Philippine News Service Editor in Chief Pinoy Gonzales; Arvin Andaya and Mark Hermano; and yours truly with fab Rosales sister – Pangging and Pane

Restaurateur PAULINE GORRICETA-BANUSING surprised yours truly by hosting an intimate dinner at Farm To Table to celebrate the 29th anniversary of my column “At the Bat of an Eyelash…

Yes, my column first saw print on Aug. 8, 1988. Since then it was a rollercoaster ride chronicling lifestyle and society event hereabouts!

Basically a thanksgiving get-together, it had my nearest and dearest in a full attendance.

Fashion designer Bo Parcon and bar street workout advocate Lenz Amata; blogger Antoine Greg Flores and society photographer Ray Tabafunda; and guess whose fingers were caught in the cookie jar?

PAULINE B. whipped an array of sumptuous dishes with organic vegetables and free-ranged meat products as ingredients for which her restaurant is famous for! They tickled our palates and spiced up interesting conversations on fitness, fashion and politics.

Naturellement, beveragic delights and organic fruit juices overflowed to whet our appetites.

Oh, well, the night ended on a high note with promises for a get-together for the 30th anniversary! Well, why not? Di, ba la?

The menu specially prepared by Pauline G. Banusing for the intimate dinner

Chicharon Bulaklak, Soft Taco with Shrimps, Chicken Barbecue Pizza and Hacienda Salad with Calamansi Vinaigrette

Garlic Tuyo Puttanesca, Nose to Tail Kare-Kare, Vegetable Pesto Rice and Grilled Fillet of Sea Bass with Casuy and Squash

Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Halaya Ube Cake, Hot Tea and Organic Kalabasa Cake  

Swaying and swinging the salsa at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

Yours truly joins Mac Velasco, Sales Account Manager; Czarina Galano, Director of Sales; Mary Charlyn Tamonan, Sales Account Manager; Josette Palma, Sales Manager; and Natalie Lim, Resident Manager; blogger Antoine Greg Flores and Cream Magazine publisher Joe Marie Agriam and sister act Nana and Lala Jover.

Tamarind, Olive and Citron are not colors nor fruits but venues for the Salsa Night of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo at Iloilo Business Park of Megaworld. The Latin-inspired thanksgiving party was to celebrate the second anniversary of the hotel. The night was filled with fun, music, dancing, and, of course, good food!

A select group of invitees enjoyed on an array of TexMex dishes. The Salsa Bar had tortilla, tacos, calamares, fish fingers and chicken fingers paired with salsa and dips such as mango salsa, avocado salsa, tomato salsa, corn salsa, grilled pineapple salsa, sofrito sauce, tartar sauce, cheese sauce, blue cheese dip and spicy tomato dip, and condiments, like shredded iceberg, bell pepper, tomato, onion, cucumber, black and green olives, and red and white kidney beans.

Society photographer Ray Tabafunda and vivacious Noel Mirasol; BizBar regulars Jimmy Magbanua and John Paulite; and Bep Chavez of Journeys and Beyond and his assistant Ian Baldelovar

For hot items, there were TexMex Pizza and Mexican Hotdogs. The carvery boasted Baked Chuck Roll with three kinds of sauces. For sweet treats, Blueberry Cheesecake, Fruit Tartlets and Strawberry Mousse tickled out palates.

With good food came beveragic delights. Frozen Margarita, Mojito and Tequila Sunrise competed for attention with fine wine, scotch whiskey and ice-cold beer!

After a little dancing to Samba, Bossa Nova, Cha Cha, Rumba and Paso Doble, and a bit of hobnobbing, the management took the opportunity to introduce the new dishes for BizBar: Poutine, Vegetable Samosas with Mango Chutney and Yoghurt, Chicken Fajitas with Pita Bread, Sate Lilit, Baked Camembert with Honey and Nuts, Mixed Grill Skewers with Pita Bread, and Fish and Chips with Dijon Mustard, Tartar Sauce and Vinegar. The delicious and eye-catching victuals drew oohs and aahs from the gourmands.

Chicken Fingers, Tortillas, Mexican Hotdogs, Tacos and Fish Fingers; and TexMex Pizza, Strawberry Mousse, Blueberry Cheesecake and Fruit Tartlets

Poutine, Chicken Fajitas with Pita Bread and Vegetable Samosa with Mango Chutney and Yoghurt; and Sate Lilit, Baked Camembert with Honey and Nuts, Mixed Grill Skewers with Pita Bread, and Fish and Chips with Dijon Mustard, Tartar Sauce and Vinegar

Yours truly is looking forward to great new happenings at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo in the coming months! ¡Olé! (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)


O Residences is comfortable and modern living in the City of Smiles

Urbanization is developing leaps and bounds. Choosing a sustainable city and finding balance between its environmental, social and economic qualities is critical and of utmost importance! While most cities in the Philippines suffer high levels of pollution – air and noise, Bacolod City offers a convenience of stress-free urban living. After all, the City of Smiles was recently named the country’s most livable urban center, cited by The Manila Times with a Top Philippine City award and ranked first in MoneySense’s survey for the “Best Places to Live in the Philippines.”

Smarting on these accolades, O Residences opens its doors to urbanites. It is a 14-storey condominium strategically located at the heart of the city. It is within close perimeter to commercial establishments, hospital, schools, transport facilities and places of worship. Adding more ease of shopping is the upcoming pedestrian bridge connecting O Residence to Robinsons Place Bacolod.

Quality lifestyle and convenience can be fully enjoyed to the fullest at O Residences with following outstanding amenities: the rooftop provides a wide range of activities for the family; the clubhouse offers the perfect setting to unwind with old friends and new acquaintances; the state of the art fitness center (outfitted with top of the line equipment from Life Fitness) for the exclusive access of the residents; a kiddie pool in addition to the 25-meter swimming pool; and the landscaped garden that gives a cool respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and a panoramic view of the cityscape!

O Residences is so popular that its first tower comprised of 133 units is almost sold out. The 137-unit second tower introduces 13 loft-style units that allow owners to enjoy a wide view of the atrium’s garden and the cityscape.

For inquiries, details and reservations, interested parties may call (034) 703-2579 or (0917) 322-2082 or send an email to A model unit is available for viewing at O Residences.


Raising the bar of fitness

Barista Street Workout Iloilo members: Jophryx, Stance, Lonel, Jeremy and Michael (Photo by Philip Patingo Novo)

The lowly monkey bars at a park take center stage in the latest fitness program in town – bar street workout!

A group of young men, who call themselves Barista Street Workout Iloilo, have revolutionalized the common concept of getting fit. While they could not forego bodybuilding, they recommend bar street workout. Among the new followers of this sport is fashion designer BO PARCON who swears to its benefits – physically and mentally!

Leading the pack of these baristas is JERRICHO MITCHELL ESPAÑOLA a.k.a STANCE MITCHELL (his athlete name).  A student at Central Philippine University (CPU) taking Digital Media and Interactive Arts, he is a part-time freelance videographer, graphic/logo designer and calisthenics trainer at Boost Beyond Fitness Gym. He started doing calisthenics when he needed a stress reliever. He was bullied in elementary and high school. Having enough of being a “nobody,” he found calisthenics and fell in love with the sport. Within three months, it changed his perception in life. He got hooked up and became one of the founders of Barista Street Workout, currently the leading calisthenics team and promoter in Iloilo City.

STANCE was the champion of the Sparta PH Hari ng Bars Street Workout Freestyle Competition in Pioneer St. Mandaluyong, Manila.

Stance Española

Here are the excerpts of my conversation with STANCE:

Porfirioness: “How intense is the workout?”

STANCE: “When it comes to training, there is always a specific difficulty that is arranged based on your level in training, the stronger you are, the more intense the workouts get. On the other hand, if you’re a beginner, the training gets easier.”

Q. “What are its target body parts?”

A. “There is no specific or recommended body part that a person is required to train with calisthenics. It all comes to your own preference really. I tend to train my whole body because I need the muscle coordination and strength.”

Q. “Please describe the workout?”

A. “Let’s start with the basics: Push Ups for chest, shoulders, triceps and abs, Pull Ups for biceps, back and forearms, Leg Raises for abs and lower back, Legs Squats for quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and Calf Raises for calves and shins.”

Bo Parcon

Q. “What does it take to engage in this workout?”

A. “I guess from my experience and perspective as a trainer, it takes a lot of mental power to stick with the sport. It is really easy to lose your motivation when it comes to training, so always be ready to train your mind first.”

Q. “What are the benefits of the workout?”

A. “Accelerated boost of metabolism and fat loss for hours, lower blood pressure, increased endurance and stamina improvement of posture, flexibility, and bone density, better muscle tone and strength confidence.”

Q. “Differences between calisthenics and bodybuilding?”

A. “There’s a great debate on which of the two is better. Personally, I think it all depends on your goals. Bodybuilding, as it is called, is mostly focus on the aesthetics not the performance. It mainly goes for muscle mass or being able to look great aesthetically but that’s just it mostly. Calisthenics on the other hand focuses on strength, muscle coordination, and also aesthetic development. It might be rare to see calisthenics athletes grow as big as bodybuilders but they can be more athletic than them. That is why calisthenics is always the back bone of any sports, especially in any current trend sport, military or gymnastics.”

Lonel, Stance, Michael, Jophryx and Jeremy (Photo by Philip Patingo Novo)

With ages ranging from late teens to mid 20s, the other members of Baristas Street Workout Iloilo are LONEL JAN, MICHAEL HUMPREY, JOPHRYX DUEÑAS and JEREMYMARCUS. Now on its third year, the group will surely continue to grow and get more following.


A night of good food and fine wine

Communications Officer Angela Tan and GM Joseph del Rosario; Andrelyn and Mig Cortez; and travel and tour operator Lorna Longno, society chronicler Joe Marie Agriam, PR maven Jong Combong-Pijuan and yours truly

Had it not been for “Gorio,” Cocktails at Straight Up Roofdeck Bar of Seda Atria Iloilo would have been al fresco. Rightfully so, the management was ready for Plan B. The guests filled the airconditioned area of the cozy bar. Needless to say, the bad weather did not keep everyone from enjoying the sumptuous victuals by award-winning Chef ALBERT LEDESMA, the soulful music of ANDRELYN and MIG CORTEZ, overflowing beveragic delight, and each other’s company while having a panoramic view of the city’s nightscape!

Assorted Bruschetta, Meatball Spaghetti and Korean Fried Chicken

General Manager JOSEPH del ROSARIO and his creative team Communications Officer ANGELA TAN, Senior Sales Manager NELJUN GUION and Sales Executive BERNARD TRESPECES gathered everyone to introduced the new promo packages of Seda Atria Iloilo for fourth quarter of 2017. One of them is the Managat Festival, which will kick off on August 15! Its chefs led by Chef ALBERT LEDESMA will pick the discriminating palates of Ilonggos with various creative and flavourful ways of preparing and cooking managat, one of the most popular and expensive types of fleshy fish in Iloilo. (More on this in my upcoming article in this blog.)

Assorted Pizza

The highlight of the night was the raffle of prizes. One of the lucky winners was CREAM Magazine publisher JOE MARIE AGRIAM who went home with a gift certificate for the Managat Festival!

Basing on the smiles of the guests, Cocktails was a success! (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Cajun Calamari with Aioli Sauce and Roasted Prime Rib with Mushroom Sauce, and Assorted Tarts

Grilled Lapu-Lapu, Roasted Potato and Pork Asado with Apple Sauce