Central Park Iloilo opens

Gerald Ganzon, Ube Ganzon, Girlie Ganzon, Dee Ganzon, Rudolph Ganzon and Rara Ganzon; couple Rommel and Kathleen Ynion; and Central Park Iloilo owner Peter Po with Felipe Uygongco, Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon of Iloilo City, Kathleen Espina-Ynion, Rommel Ynion and Pastor Gideon Cajilig.

The good news is Central Park Iloilo opened in time for the 50th anniversary celebration of the famed Iloilo Dinagyang Festival at Taft North, Mandurriao, Iloilo City! Owned by tres charmant PETER PO, the sprawling food haven has container vans as stalls, booths and bistros strategically and aesthetically arranged for easy movement and access.

The grand opening was graced by who’s who in business, society, politics and media. PETER PO, businessman/photography enthusiast FELIPE UYGONGCO, businessman ROMMEL YNION and Vice Mayor JEFFREY GANZON of Iloilo City snipped the ceremonial ribbon for the opening.

Dodong Lim and Mafleou Leagogo-Agriam; Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Mafelou Leagogo-Agriam, Joemarie Agriam and Freeman Ganzon; Karl Maridable and Tiffany Berjes of D’Talyer.

Moving around, yours truly zoomed in on goodlooking brothers RUDOLPH and GERALD GANZON of Eskinita where we had dinner and drinks, muy simpatico KARL MARIDABLE of D’Talyer and cheerful KARLITO JARDELEZA of 70N Dos!

Amid the revelry and influx of patrons and the curious, the Sun Yat Sen High School students, led by its leader JUNJUN SIA, performed a dragon dance for good luck and prosperity!

Rightfully so, Central Park Iloilo is welcome addition to Metro-Iloilo’s burgeoning nightlife!

Yours truly and Kathleen Espina-Ynion; Gerald and Rudolph Ganzon of Eskinita at Central Park Iloilo; and Jun and Anabel Tajanlangit.

Foodtripping 101: Chicken Binakol by Jolly Heart Mate Canola Oil

Iloilo is known for its one of kind cuisine. Whether it is comfort food, seafood delicacy, merienda cena or desserts, it is the biggest draw to everyone coming to this southern part of the Panay.

The list is long. There is batchoy, laswa, KBL (kadios baboy and langka), pancit molo, tinola and more.

In line with the 50th anniversary of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, Jolly Heart Mate Canola Oil brought its Celebrity Chef Ambassador DONITA ROSE for a Cooking Demo and Meet and Greet dinner.

She whipped up Tinola, an Ilonggo favorite chicken soup dish. However, she made a twist by adding coconut water and making broth a little sweeter. “The key is to get a good balance of flavours by adding some saltiness from fish sauce or patis, bitterness from chili leaves or dahon ng sili), and heat from some red chilis and ginger,” she said.

Needles to say, the end result was a fragrant fusion of ingredients and flavors that surely satisfied everyone.

A cup of steaming hot rice added pleasure to the gastronomic treat!



For the Paste:

4 Lemongrass stalks (use only white lower portion)

1 Red or White Onion (small)

1 thumb Ginger (skin removed)

4 cloves Garlic (skin removed)

8 Black Peppercorns

1 tsp Salt

Main ingredients:

1 kg Chicken (thigh or breast, boneless, butterflied to same thickness & seasoned with salt and pepper)

2 Coconuts (water set aside and meat scooped out, cut thinly into strips and separated)

2 cups Chicken Stock

1 Dahon ng Sili/Red Chilis leaves (removed from stems and washed)

1 Green Papaya small (seeds removed, small bite sized pieces or spaghetti-style cut)

3-4 tbsp Fish Sauce (to taste)

1-2 Red Chilis/SilingLabuyo (seeds removed to reduce spiciness and minced)

Green Onion (minced for serving)

2 tbsp Jolly Heartmate Canola Oil


Add 1/2 of the oil to a heated stock pot, then sear the chicken briefly on both sides to give it color and flavor. Set chicken aside then add the other half of the oil again to the pot and sauté the paste until aromatic. Add the papaya and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the coconut meat, chili, stock, coconut water and fish sauce then add the chicken last. Let simmer until chicken is soft for at least 15 minutes. Add the dahon ng sili/chili leaves then serve in bowls or in its coconut shell and enjoy!

More than a woman

The celebrator Aida Castigador-Yusay with Nika, Mila, Troy, Eliseo Jr. and Polly Yusay; Renz, Engr. Connie, Engr. Francis and baby Thea; MatMat, Josie, Dr. Bobby, Vince and RJ; and yours truly.

My ever glamorous aunt, hardworking businesswoman AIDA CASTIGADOR-YUSAY, celebrated her 85th birthday with a dinner and dance party at Golden Salakot of Hotel del Rio.

Just like the celebrator who was in a sapphire blue gown by couturier JOSE ALBERT “Bingbing” SANCHEZ, her guests came in touches of blue.

The guest list included family members and relatives from Iloilo and Negros Occidental, friends from Zonta Club of Iloilo City I and Jaro Garden Club, and mahjong amigas!

Peter and Ana Yusay; Max Javelona, Ana Jardeleza, Aida Castigador-Yusay and Inday Javelona; Leticia Chua, Elaine Divinagracia, Ana Jardeleza and Aida Castigador-Yusay; the celebrator Aida Castigador-Yusay with Vivian Magalona, Patty Monfort-Huang, a friend and Jean Jaranilla.

The brief program featured an AVP that chronicled her life, travel and charity works. Her sons ELISEO Jr., Engr. FRANCIS and Dr. BOBBY, and grandsons RJ, MAT, VINCE, RENZ and TROY took turns in dancing the waltz with her. It segued to an all-night dancing.

Her son JOE MARIE and family, who are based in Canada, were unable to make it to the celebration but send their love, kisses and hugs to the her.

The celebrator Aida Castigador-Yusay with Delia and Atty. Angelo Aninao; with Dr. Bobby Yusay, Delia Aninao, Jean Jarantilla, Baba Balangtas and couple Rose and Oskie Arenas; Eliseo Yusay Jr. with his classmates from St. Clement’s Academy; and yours truly with Orson Orleans and Kaye Sabia.  

Get the dough rolling…

Boxes of Krispy Kreme Chocolate Glazed with Sprinkles and Chocolate Glazed doughnuts

Led by Local Relations Specialist GILBERT TACUYAN, the executives of Krispy Kreme in SM City Iloilo gathered lifestyle bloggers for a mid-morning fun. It was to welcome its latest indulgent chocolate variants – Chocolate Glazed, Chocolate Glazed with Sprinkles and Double Chocolate Cake doughnuts!

Aside from sweet treats, the get-together was highlighted by a rib-tickling Krispy Kreme Quiz Day! The Girl Group – VALERIE CAULIN, ROSMAR VILLALON, NANA JOVER, ANDREA GUANCO and COURTNEY GRANADA — outdid the Boy Group – TED ALDWIN ONG, RAYMART ESCOPEL, NONOY TACLINO, JORRY PALADA and yours truly – in playing the Certified Chocoholics Q&A, Remember Me, Chocolate, Choco Charades, and a game of chance Chocolate Doughnut Wall, and guessing game of Doughnut Tower.

We were also taken to a tour of its kitchen where we saw the doughnuts being rolled out, glazed and sprinkled!

Yours truly receives a bagful of doughnuts from Krispy Kreme Local Relations Specialist Gilbert Tacuyan; the bloggers with the executives of Krisp Kreme Iloilo; Raymart Escopel manning the counter; bloggers Jorry Palada, Andrea Guanco, yours truly, Nana Jover, Nonoy Taclino and Courtney Granada

“We’re excited to witness just how Every One Is An Original and we believe that Krispy Kreme Quiz Day did just that. This is our unique way of bringing joy to our guests, by inviting them to express joy in their original way through an interaction with our fresh and unique products,” said ARIEL FERMIN, Chief Operating Officer for Krispy Kreme Philippines.

Share your chocolatey #KrispyKremeMoment on Facebook: krispykremeph and Instagram: krispykremeph, and show that #EveryOneIsAnOriginal!

Krispy Kreme is an international retailer of premium-quality treats, including its signature Original Glazed ® doughnut that has offered the highest-quality doughnuts and great-tasting coffee in the country since 2006. With a flagship store in Bonifacio High Street in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, the company has outlets in more than 70 different locations nationwide.

Doughnuts rolling out; Doughnut Tower; Double Chocolate Cake doughnut; and variants of Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Starspotting and partying at Iloilo Business Park

Festive Walk Parade of Iloilo Business Park of Megaworld; and Iloilo Dinagyang Warriors

The 50th anniversary of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, one of the biggest and most colorful festivities in the Philippines, will also be celebrated at Iloilo Business Park with a series of star-studded and hip-hopping events!

At the Festive Walk Parade this Friday at 7 p.m., the pulsating Dinagyang Warriors Parade will set the pace of the three-day party weekend.

As the night progresses, top bands CHICOSCI, FRANCO and URBANDUB will take turns in electrifying Ilonggo rockers for the Viva Music Festival. Before midnight, singer-songwriter CLARA BENIN will chill down the mood with her “coffee shop” music.

The next day, partying will gear up with the Dinagyang Car Show. More than 150 modified and designed cars will go on display. Before sundown, fans will have “kilig” moments with Kapuso stars MIGUEL TANFELIX and BIANCA UMALI for the GMA Mall Tour.

Chicosci; Franco; Urbandub; and Clara Benin

The night will be highlighted by the must-see 1st Dinagyang Float and Lights Parade. Participated in by more or less 50 floats, the inaugural parade will go around Calle Real of Iloilo City and end at Iloilo Business Park.

Let’s party the night away at Megaworld Boulevard to the brand of music of Tomorrowland’s DJs Mad M.A.C. for the Viva Music Festival. Iloilo City’s nightscape will be lighted up by Glitters in the Sky, a grand fireworks display!

The Dinagyang weekend will close with a livewire performance of multi-awarded rap icon GLOC 9 who will feature his greatest hits live at Festive Walk Parade.

Miguel Tanfelix and Bianca Umali; Tomorrowland’s Mad A.C.; and Gloc 9

The Dinagyang weekend will close with a livewire performance of multi-awarded rap icon GLOC 9 who will feature his greatest hits live at Festive Walk Parade.

Through the weekend, there will also be the Festive Walk Parade Food Festival. Participating restaurants, like Grillers Oyster House, 13th Street Espresso, Ayra Steak, Buto’tBalat, Barista Grounds, Teodorico’s, Café Panay, Jip Bab, Bistro Carcossa and Book Latte, will outdo each other in presenting a variety of Ilonggo cuisine from La Paz batchoy to fresh seafood and hard-to-find delicacies. These homegrown and trendy food outlets are tenants of Festive Walk Parade.

Needless to say, the musical performances and celebrity presentations will compete for attention with the colorful, vibrant, world-class and uniquely Ilonggo cultural and culinary showcases.

For more information and inquiries, please call 0915 564 5324 or follow Festive Walk Iloilo on Facebook page at facebook.com/IloiloFestiveWalk/ or visit Megaworld Lifestyle Malls website atwww.megaworldlifestylemalls.com.

A religious turnover

El Señor Santo Niño, the patron of Iloilo City and Iloilo Dinagyang Festival; Hermano and Hermana Mayor of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival 2018 Judgee and Sarah Peña; Hermano and Hermana Mayor of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival 2017 Emmanuel (representing his father Eduardo) and Felamie Aguillon; and the turnover of Hermano and Hermana Mayor honors.

What a better way to set the religious activities of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival 2018 in motion than with a Holy Mass held in honor of its patron, El Señor Santo Niño, at the Renaissance-designed and Hellenic-influenced Iglesia de San José de Placer! It was highlighted by the turnover of the honors of Hermano and Hermana Mayor from businessman EDUARDO (represented by his unico hijo EMMANUEL) and tres charmante FELAMIE AGUILLON to sugar baron JUDGEE LOPEZ PEÑA and his wife, woman of style and hardworking businesswoman SARAH OPOLENCIA-PEÑA! It is the fourth time for the PEÑA couple to handle these honors. For the next ten days, they will be in the forefront of all the religious and charity events leading to the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival 2018 celebrations. After all, the country’s Best Tourism Event is now commemorating its 50th year anniversary!

Hermano and Hermana Mayores: Judgee and Sarah Peña (2018), and Emmanuel and Felamie Aguillon (2017); the devotees and the faithful attending the Holy Mass in honor of El Señor Santo Niño to kick of the religious activities of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival 2018; Fr. Raymund Edsel Tronco Alcayaga leads the Pit Senyor dance; and the devotees and the faithful in Pit Senyor dance.

The religious and formal ceremonies were celebrated and officiated by San Jose Parish Priest Rev. Fr. RAYMUND EDSEL TRONCO ALCAYAGA, OSA, and led by Cofradia del Santo Niño de Cebu Iloilo Chapter head JUN RIVERA.

The Holy Mass segued into a 10-minute Pit Senyor dance with the replica image of Santo Niño de Cebu as the focal point! Ati Tribe Competition participants, drummers and supporters joined the devotees and the faithful in a frenzied revelry!

A sumptuous dinner buffet followed at the covered gym of the nearby San Jose Parochial School. It was attended by the who’s who in the religious community of Metro-Iloilo.

Dr. Risa O. Peña and Red Sarabia; Dr. Marovi Ascalon-Celiz and Rose Soriano-Juarez; Jasmine Castelo, Elena Javellana and Prima Buckley-Sweeney; and Hermana Mayor 2017 Felamie Aguillon, First Lady of Iloilo City Gina Sarabia-Espinosa and Hermana and Hermano Mayor 2018 Sarah and Judgee Peña.

Located at the historic Plaza Libertad (formerly Plaza Alfonso XII), Iglesia de San José de Placer, or San Jose Parish Church, is the birthplace of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival. (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Foodtrip 101: Spicy Gambas in Tomato Sauce at Café del Prado of Hotel del Rio

Hotel del Rio has always been known for its old world charm and its good food! With the renovation of Café del Rio, the hub of Metro-Iloilo’s café society and gourmands, came the introduction of the Heirloom Recipes. They are the up-to-date versions of the all-time favorite dishes at the Hotel. One of these is the Spicy Gambas in Tomato Sauce. The Spanish-style shrimp dish had the freshest seafood, thick tomato sauce, layered garlic flavor and the right amount and combination of spices and herbs. It is perfect for snacks, starter for dinner or after-dinner hor d’oeuvres, and with wine. It goes well with the ambience of Café el Prado!

Foodtrip 101: Pork Humba Pandesal at The Mansion

New name, big changes! Yes, that’s The Mansion. One of the biggest changes is the food. Its Pork Humba Pandesal is one of the mouth-watering additions to the menu. It is culled from the well-kept recipe of the family of the new owners. Given a new touch, it is served with potato wedges, coleslaw and greens. The pulled pork is tender and juicy while the pandesal is soft and freshly-baked.  I may be off to another engagement but the taste of Pork Humba Pandesal is still in my mind! When at The Mansion, please don’t forget to order Pork Humba Pandesal! Rest assured, it is very good!


A Thanksgiving Soiree at The Mansion

Jodine Fernandez and guest Michael Caling; Public Relations Executive Nonoi Ybiernas and AVP for Sales and Marketing Patrick Lim; and Best Dressed Couple of the Night Queenie Saravillo and Jake Sumaria with The Mansion’s President Nena Sy-Lim;  .

The top management of The Mansion kicked off the year by hosting a thanksgiving soiree for its employees at the Boracay Hall. The celebratory party also coincided with the first year anniversary of the acquisition of the property – a 1.5 hectare hotel and convention center – by Brighthall Realty and Development Corp.

Jetting in from Cosmo-Manille where they are based were President NENA SY-LIM, Chief Finance Officer VIVIANE SY, Chief Operations Officer NOEL SINCLAIRE SY, AVP for Information Technology KENDRICK ANG, AVP for Sales and Marketing PATRICK LIM, AVP for Food and Beverages LANCE LIM, and Director for Marketing and Communications CHARLENE ANG.

Food and Beverage staff; Front Office staff; Engineering staff; and Sale Office staff.

Also seen on the scene were The Mansion General Manager GEMMA LARRAGA-LEE, Public Relations Executive NONOI YBIERNAS and Director for Sales CARMEN RIVERA.

Enjoying the sumptuous buffet by DoVa of Chef par excellence MIGUEL CORDOVA, they hobnobbed with employees who came in their glamorous formal attire and who were treated as the Hotel’s Guests of Honor!

The glitzy and sophisticated night went in crescendo with Awards and Citations for the employees from the top management, including Best Dressed Couple of the Night. Much to the delight of everyone, special prizes were also raffled off!

Greek Salad by DoVa and Pastries by DoVa

Located at the main artery of Metro-Iloilo, The Mansion is managed by the mother company’s marketing arm — Brightside Properties and Resorts, Inc.

Staffers from (clockwise from top) Accounting, Food and Beverages, and Housekeeping.

The thrill of celebration

The celebrator Iloilo City Councilor Dr. Candice Almusin-Tupas and husband Dr. Lex Tupas with Nielette Tupas-Balleza and Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing; Mayor Joe Espinosa III and Jojo Castro; and the birthday cake.

There was a good reason for the TUPAS and ALMUSIN clans to celebrate. Iloilo City’s top City Councilor Dr. CANDICE ALMUSIN-TUPAS passed with flying colors the Diplomate Exams on Radiology. The celebration also coincided with her birthday!

Her husband Dr. LEX TUPAS, a vice President at Banco de Oro, hosted a dinner party at Farm To Table in Iloilo Business Park of Megaworld! Guests from the media, politics, and social sectors came to wish the new Diplomate Radiologist all the best!

An endless flow of good food, fine wine, sweet treats and hot topics helped make the party a success!

Nielette with husband Vice Mayor Parly Balleza of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo; Atty. Juffry Derequito; yours truly with Eric Marudo, Vice President and Regional Head for Luzon for BDO ONB Microfinance; Dr. Chippy Ybiernas-Gallinero and Marietta Orleans; and Mafelou and Joemarie Agriam of CREAM Magazine.


The festive Iloilo Dinagyang

Iloilo City, once tagged la muy leal y noble by Spain, is known for many things – historic landmarks, heritage houses, prominent personages, delicacies influenced by diverse cultures and given local flavours, and booming economy!

But it is also famous for its Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, now on its 50th year. The world-class festival had its humble beginnings in 1968. It began when Rev. Fr. AMBROSIO GALINDEZ, the first Rector of the Agustinian Community and Parish Priest of San Jose Parish, introduced the devotion of Santo Niño to the parish in 1967. This was after he observed the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan.

In 1968, a replica of the original image of Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo. Members of the local chapter of Cofradia del Santo Niño de Cebu led the faithful in receiving the image from the airport and paraded it through the streets of Iloilo City. At the first the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. It was patterned on Ati-Atihan of Ibajay, Aklan – dancing in the streets with participants’ bodies covered with soot and ashes “to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay.” This form of street dancing became prototype of the present festival.

In 1977, Ilonggo writer and broadcaster PACIFICO SUDARIO coined the word “Dinagyang,” which means merrymaking or revelry (from the root word “dagyang,” which means to enjoy oneself or frolic) to describe the festival.

From this modest start, the festival has metamorphosed into the country’s Best Tourism Event. It has attracted domestic and foreign tourists, and received support and awards from various international agencies. It has also incorporated other forms of celebration – foodfest, beauty contests, concerts, exhibits and the like.

A religious and cultural celebration, Iloilo Dinagyang Festival is held annually on the fourth weekend of January.  The Festival is divided into two major events – Kasadyahan Cultural Competition (on a Saturday) and Ati-Tribe Competition (on a Sunday). Both events fused the religious and cultural aspects with folklore, myths, history and everyday life in the participants’ colorful presentations.

Because of the popularity and scope of the festival, tribes, schools and government units from nearby towns and provinces regularly participate in both or either events of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival.

In order to experience Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, one has to participate and feel the drumbeats reverberating across Iloilo City. Hala Bira! Viva, Señor Santo Niño! (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Foodtrip 101: Fried Chicken at Ted’s Lapaz Batchoy

Ted’s Lapaz Batchoy doesn’t just serve the famous Ilonggo noodle soup dish. The food chain also offers a variety of set and budget meals from breakfast to dinner. One of these offerings is the Fried Chicken, probably the best hereabouts. Served with a small bowl of batchoy, a cup of garlic rice and condiments, the fried chicken (breast or leg part) is cooked to perfection in a secret marinade of herbs, spices and sauces and in the right amount of heat! Juicy, tender and lip-smacking good! It is highly recommended!

Clean Air: talking, advocating and singing about it

With Noel Z. Hechanova, Department Head of Environment and Natural Resources Office of Iloilo City, Mayor Joe Espinosa III receives the Clean Air Champion and Clean Air City Awards from Dr. Michael Aragon, chair of Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc. (CAPMI).

Raising awareness against pollution, the day-long Clean Air Summit at Iloilo Convention Center was highlighted with lectures and seminars from topnotched speakers. They all underscored the ill effects of air pollution – respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and global warming – and the importance of addressing and countering it. The summit celebrated the National Clean Air Month, which was based on Presidential Proclamation 1109.

It culminated with a dinner and Jazz Clean Air Concert featuring Bb. Pilipinas winner and Pinoy Big Brother Housemate ALI FORBES, pop rock icon LLOYD UMALI, jazz singers RAMONE and JOEY SAN ANDRES and the Jazz Clean Air Band.

The VIPs, led by Mayor JOE ESPINOSA III of Iloilo City, stakeholders and attendees were treated to two hours of Pinoy rock, OPM, standards, jazz, pop and fusion music!

Clean Air City Award for Iloilo City and Clean Air Champion for Mayor Joe Espinosa III of Iloilo City.

Rightfully so, the piece de resistance of the night were the awards for Iloilo City and its Mayor. Along with Davao City, Iloilo City was declared Clean Air City and Mayor JOE ESPINOSA III the Clean Air Champion! Through the efforts of its leaders, Iloilo City had passed the WHO acceptable total suspended particulate measurement of 90!

According to Dr. MICHAEL ARAGON, chair of Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc. (CAPMI), championing clean air is not just talking and advocating about it; it is also singing about it! He spearheaded the summit and the environment concert. CAPMI is a nongovernment organization that advocates the importance of clean air.


A kiddie party for Ping Ebrada

The celebrator Ping Poral-Ebrada with husband Jong M. Ebrada, son Thirdy and Jollibee; and Cathy Tabanao with Dr. Grace Asoy and Rene Asoy

There are birthday parties and there are birthday parties. Vivacious PING PORAL-EBRADA of Iloilo Provincial Health Office, who loves to host surprise parties for family members and close friends, was herself given a surprise birthday bash by her husband JONG MOMBAY EBRADA, mom CATHY TABANAO and sister CECILE PORAL-HEREDIA! It was a Hello Kitty-themed party at the VIP Room of Jollibee on Gen. Luna Street!

One of the games participated in by young once and kids at heart; Jong M. Ebrada and Noel Dela Cruz; and Cristito Ebrada, Sr., Jong M. Ebrada, Joseph Ebrada and Antonio Ebrada.

Nearest and dearest came to greet and wish the celebrator the best in life. The fun afternoon was highlighted with games participated in by the young once and kids at heart! The only certified kid in the party was THIRDY, the cute unico hijo of JONG and PING EBRADA!

Of course, Jollibee came to dance and prance for the celebrator and her guests! Just like in any other kiddie party, everyone went home with loads of giveaways, prizes and surprises!

Cecile Poral-Heredia and yours truly; Ann Ebrada, Gail Marbebe and Raymlin Ebrada; and the Hello Kitty-themed surprise party for Ping Poral-Ebrada.


A gathering of friends

The celebrator and his birthday cake courtesy of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo; and with Mandy Manderico and yours truly.

Oh, whadoyou know, six friends gathered for an intimate celebration of the birthday of tres charmant JIMMY MAGBANUA of the Iloilo City Office of License and Permits. The fun night kicked off with a Japanese-inspired dinner at Emilion of Iloilo Grand Dame Hotel.

Amid good food, everyone exchanged interesting and cheery conversations on fashion, beauty pageants, health, politics and religion!

Papu Intoy and Joe Nacionales; and Rod Erigia and John Paulite

Fun and the hot topics continued at the celebrator’s favorite hangout, Biz Bar of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo. There everyone enjoyed on sips and spills of ice-cold beer, fine wine and iced lemon vodka!

Before the night was over, the celebrator blew the candle on his birthday cake (courtesy of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo) as everyone wished him good health and more birthdays to celebrate!

The yumminess and the sushi and sashimi bar at Jimmy Magbanua’s birthday bash at Emilion of Iloilo Grand Dame Hotel.

Four in one

The projects to be launched; a long queue for the registration;  and the audience watching the launch videos.

The Western Visayas Regional Office of the Department of Tourism, led by its Regional Director Atty. HELEN CATALBAS, ended the 2017 with a bang! It launched four national projects in one regional event at Cinema 6 of SM City Iloilo.

The first project was the unveiling of Bring Home A Friend (BHAF) to the Philippines. With award-winning actor PIOLO PASCUAL as Brand Ambassador, BHAF aims to showcase the beauty of the Philippines and the charm of its people to the whole world. Joining is easy. Just invite, accept, travel and register, and get a chance to win a duty-free shopping spree, a brand new Toyota Vios and a posh condominium unit at Megaworld! Check the DOT website for inquiries and details!

The games spiced up the launch event; Dante Beriong performs “Go, Western Visayas, Go!”; and Raymart Escopel and yours truly.

Tahum,” a TV show on DOT VI branding campaign featuring lawyer/TV host SEDFREY CABALUNA, was also shown. Singer and songwriter DANTE BERIONG also performed “Go, Western Visayas, Go!” The song is part of the soft launch of United Western Visayas.

DOT also celebrated the Month of Overseas Filipinos and International Migrants Day!

In between launches and games, Tumandok Crew, Grand Champion of Experience Western Visayas 1st Hiligaynon Rap Song Writing Competition, and 2Live Crew entertained the crowd made up of students from various universities and colleges in Iloilo City, members of the press and blogging community, tourism officers from all over the region and representatives from government agencies. Also seen on the scene was Miss Asia Global 2017 MARY EVE ADELINE ESCOTO who hails from Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.

The Mechanics of Bring Home A Friends to the Philippines; and the giveways

After the launch, the VIP guests were treated to a sumptuous lunch at Pitstop in Southpoint of SM City Iloilo. (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Mango Pizza, Crispy Pata and Native Chicken Adobo; and Chopsuey, Bihon Guisado, Garden Salad with mango Vinaigrette, and Buttered Shrimps



Let’s get started!

The Mansion Marketing Communications Coordinator Babak Niaraki and Volvo Club Iloilo Chair of the Board of Directors Buddy Silva; Paul Yap and Myrna Koopmans; and Volvo Club Iloilo President Sandra Mae Sta. Rita, Mina Silva and Vice President Grace Llorico.

Smarting from the success of its year-end project – holding the premier showing of Thor: Ragnarok to raise funds for street signs — the hardworking officers and active members of Volvo Club Iloilo, recently met to discuss its projects for 2018!

The lunch meeting at The Lobby of The Mansion was led by its President SANDRA MAE STA. RITA and Chair of the Board of Directors BUDDY SILVA.

Bob Llorico and Atty. Elred Antiquiera; John Zabal and his wife Volvo Club Iloilo Treasurer Joy Zabal with cute daughter Via; Volvo Club Iloilo Secretary Ping Poral-Ebrada; and yours truly with Volvo Club Iloilo Business Manager Michael Koopmans

Naturellement, tres charmant BABAK NIARAKI, the indefatigable Marketing Communications Coordinator of the Mansion, made sure everyone feel welcome. He also directed the valets, attendants and security guards that their Volvo cars are conspicuously parked at the front of the Hotel!

The projects that were timelined by the members for the first quarter of 2018 were in line of its advocacy of road safety.

Happily ever after: The Reception

The newlyweds Philip James and Roselle Jane Pornel; the groom serenades his bride as they make their grand entrance to the party venue; and Princess Siao-Ollik, Lita Siao, Roselle Jane and Philip James Pornel and Rosali Ann Siao-Contis.

PHILIP JAMES C. PORNEL and ROSELLE JANE SIAO went to the same college – De La Salle College of St. Benilde. They met at a recollection where the latter noticed a guy “audibly laughing at the facilitator’s jokes.” “As for him, I caught his attention when I tried to discreetly walk inside the room smiling trying to conceal the fact that I was late. That time, I was with my batchmates and he was with his twin brother,” enthused JANE who managed to remember her future husband’s name. She asked a mutual friend from her previous church if she knew the PORNEL brothers who were track and field varsity players. She said “yes”.

Pornel brothers Elmer and Marvin with Castigador brothers Joe and John; the newlyweds with the bride’s family; Len Pornel and Myradel Porras-Pornel; and the newlyweds with the bride’s high school friends.

Call it twist of fate when her friend used her phone to text PHILIP. One thing led to another and they eventually exchanged messages, talked a lot and became friends. He then asked if he could sit in during her class, and voila, they’ve been inseparable ever since. As simple as it is, that is how it all started. Then their togetherness was solemnized with marriage vows and blessed by Jesus Christ!

The newlyweds with their Maid of Honor Valerie Bendoval and Best Man Patrick John Pornel; my brother Joe Castigador and yours truly; the bride Jane Siao-Pornel gets a bite from a slice of cake from her groom Philip James Pornel; and believed to be next in line to marry: Patrick John Pornel and his girlfriend Melissa Vibar.

Après the formalities – both solemn and emotional (there was no dry eyes when the groom paid tribute to his late Mom), a fun cocktail and dinner reception followed at the same venue. The groom serenaded his bride as they made their grand entrance to the party venue to the delight of everyone!

Amid the bounty of good food and sips and spills of fine wine, everyone partied and enjoyed each other’s company.

Yours truly with the Best Man Patrick John Pornel and my grand-nephew Josef Joachim P. Pornel; and the newlyweds with groom’s PAL officemates, bride’s PLDT officemates and high school friends, and their churchmates.