No Comments 26 February 2012

By Meann Ortiz

When Manny Pacquiao defeated Antonio Margarito in 2010, not only did he win the WBC Super Welterweight Championship, he also set a new Guinness World Record for the Most Boxing World Titles in Different Weight Divisions. It’s a remarkable achievement, and something that makes us insanely proud to be a Filipino like Manny.

The Philippines holds other world records. Some of them are remarkable natural wonders: the World’s Shortest Living Man is Junrey Balawing (he’s just 23.6 inches tall), and the Largest Colony of Geoffrey’s Rousette Fruit Bats is in Samal Island (home to an estimated 1.8 million bats). The Youngest Tenpin Bowling Champion remains to be Paeng Nepomuceno, who’s held the record since 1976.

Trivial pursuits

Some records, however, are a little on the wacky side. Remember when a toothpaste brand broke the world record a few years ago for the Most Number of Couples Kissing Simultaneously in one venue? That even merited an ad on the largest billboard along EDSA, and I can still remember the outrage that followed when we lost the record shortly thereafter.

The Philippines is also known for the Largest Legal Tender Banknote (you’ll have to fold this 100,000-peso note several times over to fit in your wallet), the Largest Ten Commandments Tablet, the Most Number of Dishes on Display, the Longest Line of Loose Change, and the Largest Secret Santa Game. Guinness rejected the idea of the “Marikina Mega-Tule”, which would’ve put us on the record books for the most number of circumcisions performed within a set period of time. Yes, you read that right.

We have to wonder, though: If we can afford to put our time and resources toward setting such trivial records, then why are we not aiming to set more truly laudable ones?

A case of damaged culture?

The unfortunate reality is there are still a lot of Filipinos who think hanggang dito lang tayo. Our history of being colonized by different countries beat most of our self-worth as a nation out of us, and most seem to have forgotten that we actually managed to win not only the battles, but eventually, our independence as well.

Or maybe, as a friend of mine pointed out, this is still an extension of the tingi mentality.  We’re so used to what is easy, affordable, and accessible—shampoo by the sachet, cigarettes by the stick, medicine by the tablet—that we forget that we are capable of something greater.

More telling, perhaps, is that many Filipinos lose their sense of nationalism in the face of hardship. How often do we hear the urban poor say, Ano ang pakialam namin sa pulitika at ekonomiya ng bansa kung wala naman kami’ng tirahan at makakain? Individuals, companies, organizations—let’s be honest—many will think of their own welfare first before the country’s.

A closer look at our world records show that a good number, especially the rather off-the-wall ones, were set for marketing purposes—to boost awareness of their own brands or organizations—more than to bring real glory to the country. This is not entirely a bad thing, as it does make the rest of the world aware that the Philippines exists, and that we are capable of being the best at something. We are still proud of these records. But while we’re keeping up appearances and building our image, why don’t we go one step further?

Laudable achievements

The Philippines holds the record for Most Women Breastfeeding Simultaneously (3,541 women), and however ridiculous that may sound, it is actually one of the less trivial ones that we hold on Guinness. It was set during an event sponsored by UNICEF and the Department of Health to raise awareness on the value of breastfeeding children. There’s also the Most Number of Solar Bulbs Installed, which aimed to light 10,000 homes that do not have electricity. The Most Participants in a Racing Event was 116,086 during the Run for the Pasig River in 2010, which aimed to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the Pasig River. The Largest March Against Illegal Drugs was organized by PAGCOR in 2009, and had 332,963 participants.

These records were set for real, worthwhile causes, and these are the kind of records that deserve huge billboards and media exposure. These are the kind of records that we should be aiming for.

We have a long way to go before we are known for The Best International Airport, being the Least Corrupt Country, or having the Most Improved Economy in Southeast Asia. But we can use our penchant for record-breaking and record-setting support meaningful causes that will benefit not only ourselves, but other Filipinos as well. That’s already one small step toward achieving those bigger goals, and one giant leap toward reclaiming our nationalism.




1 Comment 26 February 2012

By Ana Maria Villanueva-Lykes

Filpina in Traditional Dress400

Photo by Ray Soberano

You’ve fallen in love with her beautiful chaos, drowned in her swirl of colors. There is no one quite like her. You’ve been away for so long, yet you still hear the echo of her voice. It’s a cacophony of sounds- the honking of colorful jeepneys, the cry of the ballot vendor, calling for your return. And so you go back, seeking out her smells, the intoxicating scent of sampaguita, the mouth-watering aroma of street food fare. On your reunion, go on a full day date with her and re experience her splendor. An hour or two is not enough. Rekindle the spark with Manila with this sunrise to sunset itinerary:

7:00 Breakfast

You’ve lived on cereal for so long; it’s time to enjoy breakfast the way you used to with large helpings of fried rice, eggs, and chorizo. Dulcinea has some of the best Filipino breakfast favorites including chorizo bilbao, chorizo Pamplona and jamon serrano sprinkled with a generous helping of tradition. Their famous Spanish style Churros Con Chocolate will give you the sugar buzz that you need to start off your Manila tour.

puto bumbongbibingkachurros con chokolate






Dulcinea has ten branches all over the city, but it’s best to have your breakfast at Greenbelt 1 in Makati where you’ll be close to your next stop. If you have the craving for freshly baked puto bumbong or bibingka, head over to Via Mare or to the Manila Peninsula.

9:00 Historical tour

Start your day quietly at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, a sprawling green 152-acre plateau at the Global City Taguig, a short scenic ride from Makati. The cemetery contains the largest number of graves of American heroes from World War II. White washed headstones stand in a uniform circular pattern, reminiscent of how these soldiers used to stand in attention. Around these sentinels are a lush variety of tropical trees and shrubberies that offer a quiet sanctuary in the middle of a concrete jungle. Outside is a spectacular view of the Laguna de Bay and neighbouring mountains. Close by is the Cemetery of Heroes where our own heroes and martyrs are laid to rest.

Mall Scene10:30 Shopping

It won’t be a tour without the shopping, and Pinoys are known for cheap retailing. From Taguig, take the C5 road to Tiendesitas in Pasig City. Tiendesitas offers a new shopping experience, showcasing the best Philippine products from art, antiques, furniture, pets, plants, to novelty items, souvenirs, native delicacies, and fashion. More than 450 traders sell their wares under Maranao inspired pavilions adorned with cogon grass, old kalesa wheels, and duyans.

12:00 Lunch

abe lechon,jpgabe restocontis lunch






Before you blow all your hard-earned dollars on antique jars, head back to Taguig for lunch at Serendra Piazza. Serendra at Bonifacio Global City is a two level indoor and outdoor diner’s paradise. If you’re missing lola’s dishes, Conti’s or Abe’s is a great choice.

aIntramuros5002:00 Spanish colonial stop

Head over to old Manila, to trace your roots in Intramuros. Within the walled city are numerous places of interest that harks back to the 16th century Spanish colonial period. The San Agustin Church is the oldest church in the country. The Trompe-l’œil painted ceiling, the ornately carved massive door, the choir loft with 17th century molave seats, and the courtyard make the San Agustin Church a worthy stop. Beside the Church is the museum, home to countless church artifacts, statues, paintings with gold niches from the 17th century, and tombs of Spanish conquistadors like Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Juan de Salcedo.

Hopia4003:00 Merienda

Barbara’s across the museum has a little courtyard where you can cool off and share a slice of decadent chocolate cake with caramel sauce. Upstairs is the dining hall that takes you back to the 17th century with its lavish chandeliers and ornately bordered mirrors, and traditional Filipino and Spanish cuisine.

If you prefer the oriental delicacies, head to Binondo for some Chinese buns and hopia. Be careful because you can get lost in Chinatown, allured by the good luck charms, exotic ingredients, and jewelry in shops and stalls along the streets.

3:30 Spa treatment

Rejuvenate at the Wensha Spa Center near the World Trade Center for a very affordable body massage and treatment. Be warned though, the center allows you to sleep over, so there might be a good chance you’ll doze and miss the rest of your Manila date.

5:45 Dinner cruise

Head over to the Manila Baywalk for the world renowned Manila Bay sunset. The water reflects the fusion of city lights and the burst of colors in the sky. After the dazzling display, take a moment to reflect at the Malate Church, just across Roxas Boulevard, famous for its Baroque style and history.

Later, take a walk towards the Harbor Square in the CCP Complex for the Spirit of Manila Prestige Cruise. Experience Manila from afar, on a moving vantage point while dining al fresco over a full course gourmet meal.

9:00 Party

Once back on land, rediscover just how Manila loves to party. At the Remedios Circle are bars with character and life that offer a variety of entertainment options from live bands to ballroom dancing. In quiet cafes, the artsy spirits toast to poetry and food art.

Intoxicated with the festive air and the bottles of wine and spirits, wind down at Cafe Adriatico, dubbed as “the first true Filipino café,” by the late food connoisseur Doreen Fernandez. Indulge on a midnight snack of Salpicao and Chocolate Eh.

1:30 Second wind

If the rich dose of chocolate gives you a second wind, take a ride back to Greenbelt 3, Makati at Absinthe for a glass of the anise-flavored “Green Fairy” while dancing to the beats of DJs imported from all over the world.

Not quite done yet? Put on your dancing shoes and dance with Latin flair or snack on some tapas at the Cafe Havanna in Greenbelt 3.

4:30 Turning in

Before the sun catches you, head over to the Horizon Club of the Makati Shangri-la where you can finally rest your weary head in a pillow of luxury and dream of your love affair with the city that will always be in your heart.

(The author maintains a travel blog – http://anaviajera.com.)




25 Comments 26 February 2012

By Cherie del Rio

It was an unexpected chemistry. She’s recovering from a heartbreak and slowly reclaiming her place in the industry. He’s a multi-talented newcomer who was likewise seeking stable ground in show business. Although they have worked together previously albeit with smaller roles, Kim Chiu and Xian Lim did not have an established love team until their hit primetime teleserye, My Binondo Girl. Kim was even paired with two other leading men in the show: Jolo Revilla and Matteo Guidicelli. But it was her pairing with Xian that had the series title trending in Twitter both in the Philippines and worldwide.

As the series progressed, both the show’s producers and viewers were pleasantly shocked by the onscreen romance between Kim and Xian, how they got televiewers kilig with their scenes. It truly was a surprise — and it is this very element that triggered the success of KimXi (Kim’s and Xian’s names put together to form a label for their love team). Almost out of nowhere, KimXi garnered recognition and support not just from the local fan base but even from colleagues in showbiz as well.

All of a sudden, KimXi is the next big thing and everyone, regardless of their age, social class, or geographical location (thanks to TFC!), is feeling kilig over Team Jandy (another label that represents Jade + Andy, characters in My Binondo Girl played by Kim and Xian, respectively).

Kilig factor

Today’s leading newspapers, magazines, and even Kapamilya shows all share a bit of the limelight with KimXi. Everyone seems eager to feature the budding romance between the Filipino-Chinese pair. In an episode of KrisTV, Kris Aquino unabashedly pointed out that Kim and Xian looked really good together and more importantly, that Xian had her vote.

A lot of fans have noted that the KimXi love team is for everyone — bridging the proverbial gap between the ages and the classes. The pair is wholesome enough to be adored by the younger fans but still relatable enough to be admired by the older audiences. If Filipino TV had a poster couple for the exciting beginnings of young love, then KimXi would definitely be it.

Their My Binondo Girl co-star, Cherry Pie Picache, admits to feeling butterflies whenever she looks at the pair. It has been reported that Xian is quite old fashioned when it comes to his courtship ways. Lumang tao is how Kim described him in a recent interview with the Philippine Entertainment Portal.

Xian, as part of his Christmas gift to Kim, hired a choir to serenade the young actress after the latter commented that she can’t quite feel the spirit of Christmas. Earlier, Xian overheard Kim talking about wanting a life-sized teddy bear. He then surprised her with one: a dark brown, fluffy, giant stuffed bear. Apart from these grand gestures, Kim admits to receiving flowers from the actor-singer. She says that guys like Xian are a rarity nowadays. This all the more enflames the passion of KimXians (fans of their love team).

Everyone seems to be guessing, trying to determine whether there is something more to the onscreen pair of Jade and Andy. And of course, all these guessing and excitement contribute to the overwhelming kilig that now envelopes the Pinoy TV fandom. Kim and Xian, on the other hand, are more than happy to supply the audience with moments that are all seemingly genuine, unique, and sincere. They are careful with interviews, though — always being clear on what their relationship status is so far and how things are being taken in stride.

From Kimerald to KimXi

Perhaps one of the strongest fan organizations that will define Filipino showbiz history is the Kimeralds (fans of Kim and Gerald Anderson).  And when the pair split up, the Kimerald hype died as well. Now that both Kim and Gerald have separate career paths, one cannot help but wonder how the fan group is thriving in all the changes.

A lot of Kimeralds have been supportive of the KimXi love team, adding force to its growing popularity today. Everywhere on the internet, you will find KimXi-devoted websites. From Facebook fan pages to Tumblr to Twitter, the KimXi tag is visible and dominant.

Upon closer inspection of these sites, however, you will find that there are still a lot of fans that compare Kimerald to KimXi even though they are supportive of both pairings. It is as though they approve of the KimXi pair but, just like any other hardcore fan, Kimeralds will always advocate the Kim-Gerald pair, hoping for a reconciliation in the future may it be on or off cam.  Rivalry between the Kimerald and KimXi camps is rare if not altogether nonexistent on major websites.  And all this positivity boosts KimXi’s promising direction in the tough industry.

Looking ahead

After My Binondo Girl ended on January 20, fans started clamoring for more KimXi appearances — emails to the ABS-CBN network, posts and comments on public websites, twitter pleas, etc. With the success of their pairing, though, Kim and Xian would most likely show up on another teleserye or in a movie in the very near future. Kris Aquino, also in another episode of her morning talk show, hinted that Kim is presently working on a movie with one of the major stars of the network and Xian will be joining her. Online discussion boards have guessed that Xian and Kim’s first movie together will be with the Star for All Seasons herself, Ms. Vilma Santos.

Xian has gained a lot of fans and admirers for how special he has been treating Kim. He already wrote a song for her entitled Ako’y Sayo Lamang, which is part of the soundtrack of their soap.  After the choir serenade, the life-sized teddy bear, and the song, one can’t help but wonder how Xian will possibly outdo himself. Whatever magic he still has up on his sleeve, the entire Pinoy fandom will definitely be keeping watch and feeling kilig.




No Comments 02 February 2012

By Maribel Castillo

Rest and relaxation were on top of our agenda when my husband and I decided to make a quick getaway from Manila’s impossible traffic and humidity by flying off to Palawan, an island paradise southwest of the Philippine Islands chain. Bounded on the north and west by the South China Sea and on the east by Sulu Sea, Palawan and its cluster of surrounding islands formed what was once a land bridge linking  the Philippine archipelago to Borneo and the rest of the Asian continent.

The promise of adventure got the better of us as soon as we touched down at the Puerto Princesa Airport. Ignoring the call of a secluded beach resort, we would take a detour and have a peek at the famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, newly declared as one of the world’s Seven Wonders of Nature. At 8.2 kilometers, the world heritage site is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the world.

Joining a small group of Korean and German tourists, we motored two hours up north through sun-drenched, palm-fringed countryside. The tour guide warned us to hang on to dear life as our driver negotiated zigzags and undulating roads on a drive that felt like a roller coaster ride. We had butterflies in our stomachs by the time we hit Sabang, Puerto Princesa’s northernmost barrio.

Sabang Beach

Sabang Beach

There, before us, was our pleasant reward for enduring the bumpy ride — a stunning expanse of turquoise glass comparable to the waters of Santorini in Greece and Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta.

Underground river

After partaking of a Filipino-style picnic of chicken adobo and pork inihaw, it was time to head for the underground river. In Manila, we had heard stories of exotic wildlife springing from the water or greenery and popping out of stalactites and stalagmites inside a pitch-black cave. True enough, there was wildlife galore. Near the river’s mouth is a crystal-clear lagoon teeming with many fish varieties. Also within the Underground River Park is the Monkey Trail, a winding trek into a small forest where monkeys, squirrels, lizards and some 60 species of birds are found. My fears were quickly put to rest when we were greeted at the dock by a perky monkey. The monkey was more social than menacing, posing for the flashing cameras and obviously enjoying the tourists’ attention. The resident bayawaks — large monitor lizards that resemble baby crocodiles – seemed as friendly and non-threatening as any housebroken pet.



The River's mouthThe River’s mouth

Properly outfitted in orange life vests and yellow hard hats, we boarded a banca steered by a local guide with a flair for comedy. As we entered the cave to explore the Underground River, we joined the company of bats that have inhabited the river for thousands of years. Fortunately, the bats were asleep at daytime so we didn’t bump into unidentified flying objects. It was pitch black inside until our torch-bearer turned on the spotlight to reveal amazing works of art that took millions of years for nature to create. Floating through the chambers of the underground river was like gliding through an art gallery. My advice to visitors: give your imagination free rein and the caves will disclose amazing revelations.

Palm-fringed beach

Palm-fringed beach

Fresh coconutsFresh coconuts

As dusk fell, tired but happy, we once again boarded the van and headed south to the promise of a relaxing evening at Crystal Paradise Resort and Winery. Crystal Paradise, a gem tucked away in the little-known town of Narra, is two hours southeast of the bustling provincial capital of Puerto Princesa.  A full moon cast a soft glow over the island by the time our van pulled into the resort driveway.  What a pleasant surprise to be greeted by an attentive staff who not only welcomed us warmly with song and solicitous care, but also offered us cool drinks right out of the buko (young coconut) shell.

villa bedroom-smallI was ready to hit the sack when we were ushered in to our waterfront villa, but that did not stop me from noticing the surprisingly luxurious, 5-star hotel features such as a tastefully decorated bedroom and kitchenette, a king-sized bed, roomy bathroom with jetted bathtub, and a patio overlooking a private pool, the beach and Sulu Sea beyond. What luxury to be served dinner poolside at the villa’s private patio, soothed by the gentle rhythm of the waves! We knew then that we had come to the right place for a few perfect days of pampering and relaxation.

By morning, after a good night’s rest, we took the opportunity to explore the resort’s amenities and attractions. No doubt at the top of the list was a quiet, solitary stroll along the palm-fringed beach, far away from the hordes of tourists who descend upon the Philippines’ more popular waterfront destinations all throughout the year.

Beach promenade

Beach promenade

Beach Walk

Beach Walk

Waterfront villas

The cozy resort has a total of six waterfront Amihan Pool Villas, four of which are family suites and two are executive suites perfect for honeymooners. For visitors on a smaller budget, there is also the Katala Lodge within Crystal Paradise, which offers a number of deluxe King and deluxe Twin rooms.

Crystal Paradise is nestled in a beautiful wildlife cove that has almost year-round sunshine. It offers a number of island adventure packages, including excursions to Arena Island, a turtle sanctuary, and Rasa Island, a bird sanctuary. Because Narra is on the southern tip of Palawan, nearby islands are readily accessible via outrigger boats and these islands complement the beauty of Crystal Paradise and provide added value to the guests’ tropical island holiday.

Nature has bequeathed this little piece of Palawan paradise with a naturally nourishing ambiance of clean air and warm, sun-soaked days. To complement the health benefits of nature, the resort offers a variety of nurturing spa packages. It’s two thumbs up for the Exfoliation Massage, which was so soothing, the treatment almost lulled me to sleep. Crystal Paradise Resort and Winery also boasts of a small selection of naturally fermented fruit wines, such as banana, pineapple and mango.

Crabs-smallPrawns-smallPerhaps the amenity that has won praise from most guests is the excellent service provided by resort staff.  The resort chef also deserves special mention. During our four-day sojourn at the Crystal Paradise Resort, the chef impressed us with a delectable and visually appealing repertoire of culinary delights. A must-try from the savory menu are the Seafood Paella, the Spicy Sizzling Prawns, and the Bicolano Laing (gabi leaves in coconut milk). At Crystal Paradise, this top-notch quality cuisine comes at a reasonable price.


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