Today's Top Stories

  • Glan emerges as raptor watching site

    Glan emerges as raptor watching site

    The town of Glan, Sarangani has emerged as a raptor watching haven with the recent Raptor Festival which launched the watching season in southern Mindanao.  Chinese Sparrowhawk   Birds from Taiwan and Japan fly long distances and cross oceans to find suitable tropical feeding environments during the fourth quarter of year. As they head to Indonesia, they pass by southern Mindanao to rest and feed before continuing their journey. They arrive from September to October and March to April, and feed on rats and insects, thus serving as a natural pest control. Grey-Faced Buzzard   The site is a major flyway of migratory birds as observed in their flight patterns for the past four years, and is a vital indicator of the ecological balance of the roosting area.  The Sarangani Provincial Government’s Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC) has set up the Raptor Hill as a research monitoring post and a tourist viewing area for the migratory birds. Peregrine Falcon photographed by Jimboy Muñoz at the Home Radio Transmitter Tower sometime April 2014, Cagayan de Oro City (photo credit to Jimboy Muñoz)   The monitoring season includes a five-year reforestation initiative at the roosting sites in Mt. Taltak, in partnership with Raptorwatch Network Philippines and the Japanese Society for the Preservation of Birds. Up to  the third week of observation, the team accounted for 101,882 raptor sightings composed mostly of Chinese sparrowhawk, grey-faced buzzard, peregrine falcon and western osprey species.  Western Osprey   The monitoring and study aim to generate scientific data that will help authorities understand raptor biology, migration behaviors and help identify critical sites for conservation. According to Sarangani governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, the Provincial Government will improve the area to become an additional tourism site in Glan which is known as beach, culinary and heritage destination in the Soccsksargen region. (LGU Glan)

    November 16, 2019

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  • Golden Reel & SkyCab | Up, Up and Away with Macau’s Skylators

    Golden Reel & SkyCab | Up, Up and Away with Macau’s Skylators

    “Climb high to see how far you’ve come, climb higher to see how far you have yet to go.”-T.M. Isn’t it a travel cliché that one of the things a first-time visitor to a place gets to do is find the highest point in the place to enjoy the panoramic vista? Well, I was fortunate to have been one of the Visayas-Mindanao Media invited to a recent familiarization tour of Macau, China by Cebu Pacific and JG Summit Holdings and indeed, we visited not just one but two of the highest points in the Special Administrative Region, the Macau Eiffel at The Parisian Macau and the even taller Macau Tower. However, we were also fortunate to visit another two of the city’s special attractions where the vista was not just merely a high point but moving ones at that, at Macau's glitzy Cotai Strip (the peninsula's answer to the Vegas Strip). The Golden Reel ​​ Golden Reel memento at the souvenir shop (RMB)   The first of these unique sky sides was the Golden Reel at the Studio City Macau entertainment resort, billed as the world’s highest and first-ever figure-8 Ferris wheel at 130 meters (427 ft). The Hollywood-inspired back story tells how to asteroid crashed through the Gotham City-inspired  main façade leaving a perfectly shaped “8” hole between the resort’s two hotel towers. Suspended from Studio City’s two Art-Deco hotel towers (The Star Tower and the Celebrity Tower), the Golden Reel  features 17 spacious Steampunk-themed  pods, each offering enough space and versatility to host private events. Up to 10 people will fit into each pod and rides last for over 15 minutes, providing passengers with changing views of  Macau and China in the distance.   Full sized Steampunk Aerocopter at Studio City perfectly complements its Neo Art Deco architecture (photo by Nick Olayao)   Golden Dragon turning station (photo by Nick Olayao)   The Chinese have always considered the number 8 a lucky and auspicious number thus in this gambling mecca whose annual revenues are seven times that of Las Vegas, the astral connection is not lost on the thousands of visitors who flock to its casino hoping to ride their luck on the lucky number. Indeed, as one enjoys the ever changing vistas below as the gondolas go through their 15-minute route, there is plenty of time for the traveler to reflect not only on his impending luck at the tables, but on how his life so far has been an up and down ride with changing fortunes that have not always be lucky, but always leave him with memories he can always to return to for the rest of his life. With its faux Art Deco design, the $3.2 billion casino apes the golden age of Hollywood in all the signature ways — glitzy gambling floors, movie-themed entertainment options, a 1,600 room hotel, with the Golden Reel as the center piece, which has also been described as a gigantic 35 mm film reel in keeping with Studio City’s Macau’s Hollywood  aspirations. You can board one of the wheel's 17 cars (each with space for up to 10 passengers) on the 23rd floor of the hotel. As the ride moves, it snakes around the steel gold circles in a figure-8, similar to the movement of a film's reel. There's no crossover in the middle, however, so it's not a true figure-8. To get a sense of the movement, imagine two number threes facing each other.   Spectacular views of the city and the South China Sea are guaranteed. Bookings can be made through Studio City’s website. Golden Dragon turning station (photo by Nick Olayao)   Wynn Palace SkyCab Another skylator ride we experienced was the SkyCab at the Wynn Palace Macau, also at the Cotai Strip. The a 10 minute cable car ride skirts along the outside of the Performance Lake just in front of the Wynn Palace property and is unique in that it has two stages. The first one gets you to Wynn Palace and the next one gets you out of it. I had only previously rode on a cable car in Hong Kong and what made the SkyCab unique was that it is reputedly the only cable car that can turn a corner without a mid-station which once you experience it, is a tale that would grow with each telling. Skycabs taking the turn at the Golden Dragon way station on their way to Wynn Palaca Macau (photo by Nick Olayao)   As one traveler relates online, “The Wynn SkyCab makes a total of 6 turns with 2 stations because it operates in a unidirectional configuration. You have to be inside one of these to experience the turn which feels a bit like you the way you would at Disneyland sitting in one of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups but of course, with turns that are not as sharp and abrupt.” Aside from its unique operating characteristics, the red gondolas are undoubtedly designed with opulence and glitz in mind to match its environment. Two of the system’s towers are built in the form of a golden dragon while the cabins were all equipped with a custom audio system and air conditioning. Despite the advances made in ropeway technology, air conditioned cabins are still uncommon. Golden Reel 2 (studiocitymacau photo)   Cabs have two seating benches for up to six people. The journey is around 4 stories above the ground level, giving you a nice glimpse of the hotel. Rides during the day will be better for photography of the Wynn Palace property. The best times to enjoy the SkyCab would be after noontime just before the fountain show so you can also experience the fountain palabas as you make your way to Wynn Palace. Or you can try taking the ride after 7PM and you can enjoy the fountain show spectacle complete with lights every 20 minutes from 7 am. SkyCab tickets are MOP100 per person and rides are available from 10am to midnight daily. There are two entrance platforms. You can begin the ride directly in front of the Performance Lake at ground level or from the elevated platform at the back of the lake, access from within the hotel complex. Our Macau guide Tata and Cebu colleague Cass at a SkyCab Gondola (photo by Nick Olayao)   These two unique rides offer more than just a way of getting from one point to another. For the next 10-15 minutes, as the traveler goes up and around, the ever changing scenery reminds him how his world is constantly in flux and how the unique vista overlooking a panoramic look of what lies below tells his story in a way only he can understand and appreciate. As the late Anthony Bourdain puts it: “It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I still have to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that here is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” Selfie with Toots Jimenez aboard the SkyCab   Macau is a great destination for a weekend getaway--easy to fly there as well for us Mindanaoans via Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific has the most number of flights between the Philippines and Macau, with direct connections from Clark, Manila and Cebu. It's a seamless connection from Cagayan de Oro/Laguindingan to Cebu (or Manila, if one prefers) then on to Macau. Up, up and away we go!   You can opt take a day trip or exit via Hong Kong, which is an easy ferry trip or bus trip through the new Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge, the world's longest sea bridge. Or you can fly direct to Hong Kong from Cebu or Manila, take the ferry or bus to Macau, then fly back from there to the Philippines. Voltarei a Macau!   VisMin Media at Studio City (photo  by Nick Olayao)

    November 15, 2019

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  • Macao Fashion Festival 2019 | Hanz Coquilla raises PH Fashion high in Macau

    Macao Fashion Festival 2019 | Hanz Coquilla raises PH Fashion high in Macau

    A Cebuano designer has been raising high the Philippine’s colors in fashion for the past three years in Macau, China. I was fortunate to be part of the Cebu Pacific Fam Tour for VisMin Media to witness Hanz Herzl Pableo better known by his Nom de la mode  Hanz Coquilla showcase his Hanz Coquilla Alta Costura Spring/Summer 2020 at the Florence Hall of the Venetian Macau Hotel and Casino last 19 October 2019. Hanz told us it was his third year to participate in the Macao Fashion Festival but his first time to be featured in a Brand Show. Described as “Classic. Elegant and Exquisite” in the Macao Fashion Festival 2019 magazine, “Hanz Coquilla Alta Costura is Hanz Coquilla’s longest running line and has been favored by personalities to celebrities since its debut 10 years ago. A perfect marriage that combines undertones of minimalism paired with that touch of grandiosity, it is prized for its avant-garde designs inspired by women from her beauty, grace, trials and triumphs.”  “Last year we were invited to open the show for the second time,” Hanz said in our exclusive interview at the Media Room of Florence Hall following the Brand Collection Show 2  where he was featured along with leisure and professional wear maker ANIFA, Macao leisure fashion brand MACON Leisure Home series and Leo Wong’s multi-awarded SOUL for women. Macao Fashion Festival 2019 featured some 20 designers with at least two shows daily on its October 17-19 run with at least two shows daily featuring five designers each show. “Most opening designers are foreigners from Portugal, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, while brand shows usually feature Macanese and Chinese designers,” Hanz notes. “We have found a home here.  It’s amazing how Macau embraces foreign designers, since Macau Fashion Week was mainly created as a showcase for local designers.” However, he admits it is a constant struggle to create a collection especially when he started as an Opening Show Designer in 2017. “Although the Macau government extends special privileges to us, you need to have a portfolio to open the show. We worked hard for it. You need constant communication with the organizers especially considering the limits inherent in the language barrier.” Putting together this year’s 15 piece collection) which he calls his Bohemian Collection proved to be “very tough and challenging.” “You need to cry sometimes to come up with a good collection,” Hanz admits. “Unless I cry over a collection, I don’t quite consider it to be a good one.” Asked which celebrities he would most like to cloth, he named Fan Bingbing, Zhang Ziyi, and Crazy Rich Asians like the ones featured with Michelle Yeoh in the recent hit movie of the same title. Would he be joining Macao Fashion Festival again next year? “Hopefully I’ll be here next year. I would like to make this an annual event as a way of giving back for the hospitality our hosts showed us. Not everyone gets that kind of treatment.”  Besides Macau, Hanz is also in talks to join other Asian shows in Seoul, Japan, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, and even as far as Boston Fashion Week. “In fact, I received a nomination this summer for World Fashion Week in Paris but had to set it aside for Terno Con. Making it to the final roster is a big achievement already like being passed a key for the future of Philippine fashion,” Hanz quipped/ Terno Con is a terno-making convention and contest that aims to encourage the use of the terno as a popular form of dress, inspire and motivate emerging designers to create designs which are grounded in its history while using a contemporary approach to further its objective of preserving the authenticity of one of the country’s most distinctive ensembles. “No international exposure can equal re-imagining a national treasure like the Terno and the chance of being mentored by our best designers like Inno Sotto as chief mentor, Philip Rodriguez  (Cebu City), Ivarluski Aseron (Metro Manila), and Lesley Mobo (Aklan). “ Not the least, Hanz expressed his profuse thanks to Cebu Pacific which sponsored his flights to Macau for the festival for the second straight year. “It’s never easy to mount a show abroad. Part of the journey makes it fun and lighter with direct to Macau that saves us a lot of money and logistics since we don’t have to pass by Manila.” Cebu Pacific has the most number of flights between the Philippines and Macau, with direct connections from Clark, Manila and Cebu. It's a seamless connection from Cagayan de Oro/Laguindingan to Cebu (or Manila, if one prefers) then on to Macau. You can opt take a day trip or exit via Hong Kong, which is an easy ferry trip or bus trip through the new Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge, the world's longest sea bridge. Or fly direct to Hong Kong from Cebu or Manila, take the ferry or bus to Macau, then fly back from there to the Philippines. Hanz Coquilla Alta Costura creates tailor-made designs for that woman who yearns for their very own Hanz Coquilla, with a personalized touch. Contact. Mr. Stevan S. Serneo/ Mr. Hanz Herzl Pableo aka Hanz Coquilla by email hanzcoquillaatacostura@gmail.com/ or theramenboi@gmail.com or visit his Facebook Page Hanz Coquilla Alta Costura to see more of his custom-made suits, gowns, and RTW clothing.

    November 8, 2019

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  • Golden Reel & SkyCab | Up, Up and Away with Macau’s Skylators

    Golden Reel & SkyCab | Up, Up and Away with Macau’s Skylators

    “Climb high to see how far you’ve come, climb higher to see how far you have yet to go.”-T.M.   Isn’t it a travel cliché that one of the things a first-time visitor to a place gets to do is find the highest point in the place to enjoy the panoramic vista? Well, I was fortunate to have been one of the Visayas-Mindanao Media invited to a recent familiarization tour of Macau, China by Cebu Pacific and JG Summit Holdings and indeed, we visited not just one but two of the highest points in the Special Administrative Region, the Macau Eiffel at The Parisian Macau and the even taller Macau Tower. However, we were also fortunate to visit another two of the city’s special attractions where the vista was not just merely a high point but moving ones at that, at Macau's glitzy Cotai Strip (the peninsula's answer to the Vegas Strip). The Golden Reel The first of these unique sky sides was the Golden Reel at the Studio City Macau entertainment resort, billed as the world’s highest and first-ever figure-8 Ferris wheel at 130 meters (427 ft). The Hollywood-inspired back story tells how to asteroid crashed through the Gotham City-inspired  main façade leaving a perfectly shaped “8” hole between the resort’s two hotel towers. Suspended from Studio City’s two Art-Deco hotel towers (The Star Tower and the Celebrity Tower), the Golden Reel  features 17 spacious Steampunk-themed  pods, each offering enough space and versatility to host private events. Up to 10 people will fit into each pod and rides last for over 15 minutes, providing passengers with changing views of  Macau and China in the distance.   The Chinese have always considered the number 8 a lucky and auspicious number thus in this gambling mecca whose annual revenues are seven times that of Las Vegas, the astral connection is not lost on the thousands of visitors who flock to its casino hoping to ride their luck on the lucky number. Indeed, as one enjoys the ever changing vistas below as the gondolas go through their 15-minute route, there is plenty of time for the traveler to reflect not only on his impending luck at the tables, but on how his life so far has been an up and down ride with changing fortunes that have not always be lucky, but always leave him with memories he can always to return to for the rest of his life. With its faux Art Deco design, the $3.2 billion casino apes the golden age of Hollywood in all the signature ways — glitzy gambling floors, movie-themed entertainment options, a 1,600 room hotel, with the Golden Reel as the center piece, which has also been described as a gigantic 35 mm film reel in keeping with Studio City’s Macau’s Hollywood  aspirations. You can board one of the wheel's 17 cars (each with space for up to 10 passengers) on the 23rd floor of the hotel. As the ride moves, it snakes around the steel gold circles in a figure-8, similar to the movement of a film's reel. There's no crossover in the middle, however, so it's not a true figure-8. To get a sense of the movement, imagine two number threes facing each other.   Spectacular views of the city and the South China Sea are guaranteed. Bookings can be made through Studio City’s website. Wynn Palace SkyCab Another skylator ride we experienced was the SkyCab at the Wynn Palace Macau, also at the Cotai Strip. The a 10 minute cable car ride skirts along the outside of the Performance Lake just in front of the Wynn Palace property and is unique in that it has two stages. The first one gets you to Wynn Palace and the next one gets you out of it. I had only previously rode on a cable car in Hong Kong and what made the SkyCab unique was that it is reputedly the only cable car that can turn a corner without a mid-station which once you experience it, is a tale that would grow with each telling. As one traveler relates online, “The Wynn SkyCab makes a total of 6 turns with 2 stations because it operates in a unidirectional configuration. You have to be inside one of these to experience the turn which feels a bit like you the way you would at Disneyland sitting in one of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups but of course, with turns that are not as sharp and abrupt.” Aside from its unique operating characteristics, the red gondolas are undoubtedly designed with opulence and glitz in mind to match its environment. Two of the system’s towers are built in the form of a golden dragon while the cabins were all equipped with a custom audio system and air conditioning. Despite the advances made in ropeway technology, air conditioned cabins are still uncommon. Cabs have two seating benches for up to six people. The journey is around 4 stories above the ground level, giving you a nice glimpse of the hotel. Rides during the day will be better for photography of the Wynn Palace property. The best times to enjoy the SkyCab would be after noontime just before the fountain show so you can also experience the fountain palabas as you make your way to Wynn Palace. Or you can try taking the ride after 7PM and you can enjoy the fountain show spectacle complete with lights every 20 minutes from 7 am. SkyCab tickets are MOP100 per person and rides are available from 10am to midnight daily. There are two entrance platforms. You can begin the ride directly in front of the Performance Lake at ground level or from the elevated platform at the back of the lake, access from within the hotel complex. These two unique rides offer more than just a way of getting from one point to another. For the next 10-15 minutes, as the traveler goes up and around, the ever changing scenery reminds him how his world is constantly in flux and how the unique vista overlooking a panoramic look of what lies below tells his story in a way only he can understand and appreciate. As the late Anthony Bourdain puts it: “It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I still have to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that here is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” Macau is a great destination for a weekend getaway--easy to fly there as well for us Mindanaoans via Cebu Pacific. Cebu Pacific has the most number of flights between the Philippines and Macau, with direct connections from Clark, Manila and Cebu. It's a seamless connection from Cagayan de Oro/Laguindingan to Cebu (or Manila, if one prefers) then on to Macau. You can opt take a day trip or exit via Hong Kong, which is an easy ferry trip or bus trip through the new Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge, the world's longest sea bridge. Or you can fly direct to Hong Kong from Cebu or Manila, take the ferry or bus to Macau, then fly back from there to the Philippines. Voltarei a Macau!

    November 8, 2019

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Glan emerges as raptor watching site

November 16, 2019

Feature

By: , The town of Glan, Sarangani has emerged as a raptor watching haven with the recent Raptor Festival which launched the watching season in southern Mindanao.  Chinese Sparrowhawk   Birds from Taiwan and Japan fly long distances and cross oceans to find suitable tropical feeding environments during the fourth quarter of year. As they head to Indonesia, they pass by southern Mindanao to rest and feed before continuing their journey. They arrive from September to October and March to April, and feed on rats and insects, thus serving as a natural pest control. Grey-Faced Buzzard   The site is a major flyway of migratory birds as observed in their flight patterns for the past four years, and is a vital indicator of the ecological balance of the roosting area.  The Sarangani Provincial Government’s Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC) has set up the Raptor Hill as a research monitoring post and a tourist viewing area for the migratory birds. Peregrine Falcon photographed by Jimboy Muñoz at the Home Radio Transmitter Tower sometime April 2014, Cagayan de Oro City (photo credit to Jimboy Muñoz)   The monitoring season includes a five-year reforestation initiative at the roosting sites in Mt. Taltak, in partnership with Raptorwatch Network Philippines and the Japanese Society for the Preservation of Birds. Up to  the third week of observation, the team accounted for 101,882 raptor sightings composed mostly of Chinese sparrowhawk, grey-faced buzzard, peregrine falcon and western osprey species.  Western Osprey   The monitoring and study aim to generate scientific data that will help authorities understand raptor biology, migration behaviors and help identify critical sites for conservation. According to Sarangani governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, the Provincial Government will improve the area to become an additional tourism site in Glan which is known as beach, culinary and heritage destination in the Soccsksargen region. (LGU Glan)

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Ravenstagg puts CDO in Miniatures World Map

October 27, 2019

Feature

By: TITO MIKE, A Cagayan de Oro based independent artist studio which paints miniatures has placed Cagayan de Oro in the Miniatures World Map, and its clientele is growing. David T. Roa of the start-up indie Ravenstagg Creative Studios said the majority of their art pieces are miniature figures and busts and some collectible figure alternations on the side.   “We work through a home studio. Painting figures is our primary focus but also write.” Dave started painting miniatures for clients some four years ago when he purchased a board game called “Mansions of Madness” "Mansions of Madness" with unpainted miniatures.  “I ended up painting them and it became therapeutic for me. I've been painting ever since.” However, his motivation to paint arose much earlier with his passion for playing games. “I grew up playing games. It did not matter what they were. Traditional Pilipino games, computer games, and board games.” In fact, he was given a bunch of miniatures when they were in high school by a friend who left for the US. “I did not paint them very well and then I forgot about them. “ He initially started painting for local clients but as his skill developed and the quality of his work improved over time he found it was getting more and more difficult to find clientele who could pair a fair wage for them. “So I had a choice: paint lower quality minis to stay relevant in the market, or keep growing and ratcheting up the quality but look for patrons elsewhere.” He chose the latter and initially accepted commissions from Cebu and Manila, then gradually made his way into the international scene as satisfied clients referred him to their friends in other countries. “Now, most of my commissions come from abroad, and most of them are fellow artists (sculptors) who I collaborate with to launch their own art pieces. I'm planning to remove the region lock on our studios page very soon and open it to the rest of the world.” Besides painting of miniatures, Ravenstagg also does Tabletop Terrain painting; 3D printing on demand and output painting.  On top of those, Dave is also a Private Tabletop RPG Session Producer, Facilitator, and Games Master. A visit to his FB Page Ravenstagg Creative Studios features a growing clientele for keycaps but Dave said they’re not Ravenstagg’s bread and butter. “I used keycaps as a means to survive. Since artists aren't paid very well in the Philippines, let alone Cagayan de Oro, I had to find creative ways to make a living. My first keycap commission introduced me to the mechanical keyboard community and I've been getting commission ever since. Most of the time it's a welcome distraction. But it does get tedious at times.” As to keycaps not being their main thing, Dave replies:  “There's a point of contention there. I understand that I NEED to make money to survive. So I DO work at it professionally. But the way I've built myself up and the studio is more to the lines of  Artist first, entrepreneur second. “The therapeutic element is only one of the many reasons I do it. Keycaps range from P550 to 1,550 on average, with custom jobs and more complicated commissions costing more.” “But I'd like to reiterate that keycaps aren't our primary focus, the majority of our art pieces are miniature figures, busts, and some collectible figure alternations on the side,” he added. As to the etymology of the name Ravenstagg, Dave explains: It's a portmanteau of my spirit animal / totem (the Raven) and my fiancé's spirit animal / totem (the Stag). The Raven is a keeper of secrets, a bearer of hidden wisdom, and a guide to those who walk in shadow, The Stag is noble, regal, steadfast, and loyal. “Thought it would be fitting since we both started this venture together. Although I am the main artist who does most of the pieces, she also assists in certain paint jobs, crafts, and quality control/assessment. Interested parties who’d like to get in touch with Ravenstagg Creative Studios can contact them through their webpage.

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Rev. Nelson Butron Villarin’s Journey of Faith

August 12, 2019

Feature

By: MIKE BAÑOS, It is never easy to be a servant of God, least of all become a pastor. A calling that only a few heed when they are called. Last June 2nd, 2019, Pastor Nelson Butron Villarin of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines was finally ordained a minister of his church. The simple rites held at the UCCP Cagayan de Oro Church where he currently serves as chaplain for the Cagayan de Oro Christian School marked the end and beginning of a lifelong journey of faith which tested him to the limits. Rev. Sonny, as he is better known to friends, was born and raised in Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, the fifth child in a family of four boys and a girl of former Lapasan United Church Men (UCM) Chairman Gonzalo Tabaco Villarin and Remedios Butron Villarin. His testimony of faith started during his Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) tenure at UCCP- Lapasan when he was just 14. Like anyone else his age, he was happy-go-lucky and didn’t really give much to his future. Indeed, serving God was not his first chosen calling, but rather architecture. He holds a diploma in BS Architecture from Cebu Institute of Technology. Even when wasn’t hired to be a regular employee in all of his many jobs in Cebu, Makati and Cagayan de Oro from 1988 to 2002, he didn’t realize at the time he had another calling. So he came home and tried again in his hometown in Cagayan de Oro. Meantime, he immersed himself in church related activities which gave him pause that perhaps he was meant for another profession. “I failed to discern at the time that even in Cebu the Lord was calling me to serve as a shepherd to his flock,” he recalls. “However, my continued failure to land a regular job as an architect finally made me realize God was calling me. Without a job, he took a great leap of faith and enrolled at the Silliman University Divinity School, graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 2006. In was touch in go for a while but his God never deserted him. Already married to Nates Fausto Villarin in April 21, 1992 and with a growing family, somehow there was always a provision when there was a need. “We accepted laundry from our colleagues and also did ironing. In addition, we prepared and sold the local sweet potato (Camote) delicacy called kamoyang to make ends meet,” he recalls. The couple is blessed with 4 children, NN Gri, Vhien Klein, Gabriel David, Chessedh Chedech; and granddaughter Coleen Angela, his pride and joy.   But it seemed like Job in the Old Testament, the Lord wasn’t quite done testing him yet. He considers his failure to hurdle two of the subjects in his ordination exam in 2017 as one of the most challenging tests yet that God sent his way. “It was a one of the most challenging moments when I learned that I had to retake two subjects in my Ordination Exam when I was expecting that together with Pastor King (Rev. Beryl Sale) we would be both ordained together but it was not to be.” However, during the interview with the Examination Committee he was given an opportunity to be ordained. “A lot of things to do, a lot of patience to undertake, and lot of prayers to make, so that I would be able to win the race for my ordination,” he recalls. “After a year things went well and patience worked a lot.” Thus, during the Conference Assembly last April 2018, the Examination Committee finally endorsed him for ordination as a full-fledged Minister of the UCCP. Rev. Sonny’s day-to-day spiritual journey with God still has its ups and downs, but he knows that despite life's challenges and his faith shaken, he would not falter nor crumble. To him, it is just a way of God's testing his faith. Taking every life's turns with positivity. He is a living testimony of how God works wonders in one's life. He believes one should fear God, because to him the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom like what the psalmist said. (with Roan Gorres)   -30-

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On the March: The Jesuits in the Philippines since the Restoration - Book authored and published by XU Alumnisweeps 2019 awards season

August 12, 2019

Feature

By: TITO MIKE, On the March, a coffee table book on Jesuit ministry in the Philippines, has scored its fourth major award this year, adding to its Gold Anvil Award and Platinum Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines and its Gold Quill (Award of Merit) from the prestigious International Association of Business Communicators. The book was cited with an Award of Merti by the Philippine Quill under the Publications Category during the recently concluded 15th Philippine Quill Awards at the Marriott Grand Ballroom.    The Philippine Quill Awards is presented every year by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines. IABC Philippines is the first chapter outside North America of the international IABC, a global network with membership of around 15,500 business communicators in 80 countries. The prestigious annual Philippine Quill Awards is presented to honor excellent communications programs and tools. The award recognizes excellence in categories in external communication, strategic processes, organizational communication, social responsibility, digital communication, photography, writing, audiovisuals, and marketing communication, among others. Categories cover programs, projects, collaterals, designs, and creative work.  A group of dedicated alumni from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo) and Filipino Jesuits assigned to the school contributed their hearts and souls to its publication. Fr. Jose S Arcilla, SJ was principal author of the book edited by John Nery and published by Media Wise Communications. Manuel Paras Engwa and Ramoncito Ocampo Cruz were co-publishers.  Fr. Arcilla was assigned as regent ​ i​n XUHS 1956 and as GS student counsellor and GS glee club moderator and College history professor from 1965-68, and among his students were executive publishers Manuel Paras Engwa and Ramoncito Ocampo Cruz, fondly known as Manny and Monching, respectively. Manny graduated from Xavier Ateneo (Class Salutatorian - XU High School 1966; and AB Economics 1969). He attended the Industrial Economics program of the University of Asia and the Pacific. On the March is his personal tribute to the Jesuits who have dedicated their lives to the Philippines. Manny Engwa’s professional experience encompasses investment, agribusiness, property, and pharmaceuticals. He has worked for a prestigious multinational since 1981 and has served as country manager in Indonesia, head of Southeast Asian operations. Ramoncito Ocampo Cruz began his first eight years of education at Xavier Ateneo in 1959 (Grade School, 1967). He moved to St Andrew’s School in Parañaque City (High School, 1971) and graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, major in painting in 1976. A visual artist, advertising and publishing professional, Monching is a multi-awarded publisher and artist. He won his first Catholic Mass Media (CMM) citation as well as a Philippine Quill award for publishing MUSE, a magazine dedicated to art, culture, and travel. He has had three one-man art exhibits. Joining them on the editorial team are two Jesuits who previously served at Xavier Ateneo and two graduates who are now journalists. Fr Arcilla as the book’s principal writer was assisted by journalist John Nery, who also served as the book’s editor, and Mike Baños, (also a journalist) who rounded up the writers’ pool. Fr Rene Javellana SJ, currently the archivist of the Archives of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, bolstered the team with photos and documents related to the topics presented in the book. Fr Javellana SJ also served as a regent at Xavier Ateneo from 1971-1973 teaching mostly juniors and seniors at the high school when Timoteo Butalid was principal. He was also the moderator of the High School Yearbook, taught in the English Dept in College with Fr Al Nudas as his chair. He was also active in XU college theater, and worked with Fr Al in the production of Antigone, with Mario Francisco in Foursome and other absurd plays by Eugene Ionesco. For two years, he was also involved in XU and Barangay 40's Holy Week Passion plays. Not the least, he participated in an archeological dig at Huluga led by Museo de Oro then headed by Fr Francisco Demetrio SJ. ​Journalist John Nery was formerly the online editor and currently writes a column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. His Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia was published by Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and by the Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2011. John studied Philosophy in Ateneo de Manila. He also went to Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan and Ateneo de Davao. After finishing his AB Philosophy degree at AdMU, he taught at the Xavier Ateneo High School. He has received awards for his journalism; his book editing has been recognized with two National Book Awards. He was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University in 2011-2012 and the Jaime V Ongpin Memorial Lecturer in 2013. Freelance writer and journalist Mike Baños started his preschool at Ateneo de Zamboanga in 1964 but later moved to Western Mindanao State University (formerly Zamboanga Normal College, and later Zamboanga State College) where he finished his Grade School and High School education. He got his AB Economics degree from Ateneo de Zamboanga (now a university) in 1978 (class salutatorian) and his Master in Business Administration in 2000 from Xavier Ateneo. A dedicated community journalist, Mike has had a wide-ranging career which includes stints with the local government and chamber of commerce, academe, banking, retail, and broadcast and print media (ABS-CBN, FUBC, Business World, The Manila Chronicle, The Philippine Star, Today) but his heart remains with community journalism as he writes online and in local newspapers as a freelance writer and journalist. He was a pioneer fellow of the Dart Centre Asia Pacific (for Trauma Journalism) in 2009 and was recognized by the Rotary Club of Manila Journalism Awards as 2017 Provincial Reporter of the Year (Print). Finally, and perhaps the most instrumental in giving meaning and purpose to On the March, is Fr Jose VC Quilongquilong SJ STD, who succeeded Fr Herbert Schneider SJ as president and executive director of the Philippine Jesuit Aid Association Inc (PJAA). Fr Joe studied AB Sociology at Xavier Ateneo before joining the Society of Jesus. He completed formation in philosophy (Ateneo de Manila University), Bachelor in Sacred Theology and Master of Arts in Theology (Loyola School of Theology) before his ordination to the priesthood in 1993. He is also concurrently the president of Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University. Fr Joe was already actively part of the team last year and was primarily responsible for facilitating the book launch last September 29, 2018, at the Arete. All proceeds from the sale of On the March will be donated to PJAA for the benefit of elderly, retired and infirm Jesuits, and the promotion of Jesuit vocations in the Philippine province. ​ ​On the March chronicles the Jesuits’ ministry of education and the many aspects of their apostolate in the Philippines as they bring the faith to the most remote corners of the archipelago. “This latest recognition affirms our commitment to use excellent communications to help the organization achieve its goals and make a difference in society, true to the Philippine Quill’s own aims,” said Cruz, who is also Media Wise president and CEO. In January 2019, On the March bagged its Platinum Anvil, a recognition given to entries that stand out among the Anvil Gold winners. The PRSP cited the book for “recognizing the vital role of Jesuits in the country, the book highlights their mission and achievements, including their evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.” The Anvil is the symbol of excellence in public relations, awarded to outstanding PR programs, tools and practitioners. In June, Cruz flew to Vancouver to receive the book’s Gold Quill from San Francisco-based IABC at the 2019 IABC World Conference. Just four other Filipino organizations have received the coveted international distinction. The IABC awards committee said On the March earned the distinction for “exhibiting high-quality writing and superior production values.” “The book is well-organized, consistent... from the beginning to end. It flows well. It’s clear that [Mediawise] brought together the right mix of interviewers, writers, designers and publishers to produce a high-quality communication vehicle,” said the committee. -30-

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IDC execs highlights CDO developments and environmental sustainability in estate industry

July 22, 2019

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By: , MANILA - Italpinas Development Corporation (IDCTM) Chairman & CEO, Architect Romolo V. Nati, together with IDC’s Director for Design and Construction, Engr. Giuseppe Garofalo, were invited at a sit-down interview at the PTV4’s headquarters last June 7, 2019 with the Philippines’ largest and most influential weekly business and news magazine, BizNewsAsia.      Hosted by Ms. Elizabeth Lee and Mr Tony Lopez, the founder, president, chairman and CEO of BizNewsAsia, the sit-down interview offered an opportunity to discuss with IDC’s guests about the rising trend and current condition of Philippine real estate industry.       Arch. Nati shared his insights on the topic, mentioning IDCTM as an example of a rising real estate development company, in different areas of the Philippines, emphasizing the importance of his company’s vision that is “creating design-driven sustainable developments in emerging cities, accessible to the new middle class”.      Alongside his vision, Arch. Nati shared the latest news regarding IDC’s eco-friendly developments being Primavera City, located uptown Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao and the high-rise mixed use green buildings, Miramonti Green Residences, located in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.      Both the projects have been awarded as Best Mixed-use Development in the Philippines by Asia-Pacific International Property Awards which is a highly acclaimed award in the worldwide property industry.       Primavera City, that will future six mid-rise towers and a high rise tower, is going to be developed in 4 phases the first of which, Citta’ Verde is nearing completion and its phase 2 Citta’ Bella recently awarded a license to sell.  Arch. Nati said Primavera City’s Citta’ Bella will be followed by Citta’ Grande and by the 7th tallest tower, Citta’ Alta.      The construction of the first phase of Miramonti Green Residences, a 21 storey green building, strategically located in an Industrial park in Sto. Tomas, between Metro Manila and the port of Batangas City, is ongoing and the company is currently accelerating the process to obtain the required permits to start the second phase. This will be featuring other 2 buildings with same number of storey and adopting, as in all IDC’s projects, the best principles of passive building technology: shadow and sunlight control, wind cooling and shape performance.      Following this information, the interview then discussed the importance of eco-friendliness in construction and its appeal to possible tenants and future owners.       Arch. Nati ended his interview by sharing the news that Italpinas Development Corporation has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a share sale.       The offering involves up to 33.3 million preferred shares with an over-allotment of 10 million shares to be taken from the unissued authorized capital stock of the corporation at an offer price of P15 per share. At 43 million shares, the company could raise as much as P645 million.

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Allianz Sees Continuous Growth in Insurance Market in PH, Rest of Asia

July 21, 2019

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By: , While insurance penetration (premiums as a percentage of GDP) fell by 5.4% in Asia (ex-cluding Japan), the Philippines along with Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, and India registered double-digit growths. This is according to the Allianz Global Insurance Report prepared by Allianz Research.      Allianz Research is projecting a 9.4% growth per annum over the next decade in Asia, ex-cluding Japan. Around 60% additional premiums are expected to be generated in the re-gion. In the Philippines, a market growth of 12.3% is foreseen (13.5 in life and 8.3 in p&c).       “Allianz’ strong performance in the Philippines reflects the country’s economic growth and strong macroeconomic fundamentals, and we are looking to leverage on the continuous ex-pansion of economic activity in the country,” said Alexander Grenz, newly appointed presi-dent and chief executive officer of Allianz PNB Life.      Premiums in the Philippines grew by 17.7% in 2018, way above the regional average. In fact, 2018 marked the best year since 2013. Life insurance, which accounts for more than 70% of the premium pool (without health), had a growth rate of 20.4%. It grew almost twice as fast as property-casualty (+11.1%).       For 2019, Allianz Research foresees a slowdown to around 10% premium growth, still well above regional or global averages. It noted that the Philippines’ insurance market has still plenty of room to grow: Premiums per capita stood at Php3,000.00 in 2018 (at par with neighboring Indonesia), penetration at 1.9%; it is, for example, already 3.7% in China. In-surance premiums in property-casualty and life are expected to grow by 14% this year and 12.3% over the next decade.      Allianz PNB Life is still the fastest-growing life insurance company in the Philippines, ac-cording to the report of the Insurance Commission. Its premium income grew by 69% in 2018 and its annualized premium income for 2018 stood at a historic high.      Grenz, who previously served as the chief operating officer of Allianz PNB Life, said that as today’s business environment goes through rapid changes, the company is hands-on to build a more diverse business model.      “We all know how fast-paced the insurance industry is; the pressure and expectations are high from all sides ‐ our customers, our investors, our regulators, and among ourselves. Late last year, for instance, we have seen changes in reserve requirements for banks to ad-dress the spike in inflation. This resulted in liquidity shortage in the Bancassurance indus-try. Even though we are still performing better compared to our competitors, we definitely need to catch up in the second half of the year,” Grenz said.      Grenz has more than 15 years of experience in global Insurance and Asset Management. He has a multinational track record in the areas of Finance, Insurance and Asset Manage-ment and has held various executive positions for Allianz in different countries.      As he heads Allianz PNB Life, Grenz said he plans to focus on simplifying insurance for the customers. “Simplification of insurance will be our priority. We will simplify the language of insurance to make it understandable to more customers and make it easy to access with the superior technology Allianz can provide,” he explained.       Grenz is, likewise, moving to tap Allianz’s global investment fund managers from PIMCO and Allianz Global Investments (AGI) to provide superior technical solutions and investment strategies.       “Our goal is to have a well-defined output that should create value for our customers. It’s the customers’ perception, which counts and defines our success. With PIMCO and AGI, cus-tomers are assured they have access to superior product solutions and technical advise,” he said.      Furthermore, Grenz is steering the company toward a digital future. Recently, the company opened its Allianz Digital Studio, which will pioneer the next-generation of innovation and solutions and make the delivery of insurance products and services faster and more effi-cient for both its internal and external customers.       “Our digital and customer-centric initiatives in the pipeline are geared toward enhancing the Allianz customer experience and differentiate us in the market,” he concluded.

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Globe supports athletes with cerebral palsy; helps nationwide search for pioneer players of CP Rascals

July 10, 2019

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By: , They may have physical challenges like cerebral palsy (CP) but the ailment was never a hindrance in bringing out the best in individuals who have big hearts and the passion to succeed, especially in sports like football.      “Sabi ng mga nanay na isama ko daw yung anak ko (sa football practice) at subukan lang. Tapos nagulat na lang ako na nasisipa niya yung bola. Hindi ko ine-expect na magagawa niya yun dahil di naman siya involved sa kahit anong sport dati. Sabi ko tuloy na dapat pala dati ko na siyang sinasali sa mga ganito (The mothers told me to bring my child and just try it out. I was surprised that my child can kick the ball. I didn’t expect that he can do it because he was never involved in any sport before. I realized that I should have brought my child before to this kind of activity),” said Marinela S. Kaabay whose eldest child Kenneth has cerebral palsy among other disabilities. The activity Kaabay referred to was the 1st CP Football Day where kids with cerebral palsy from Metro Manila and nearby provinces gathered for a friendly game of football at the La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong City. Around 50 CP individuals, including Kaabay’s child and four others from her area, ran and kicked the elusive ball to their hearts’ content despite the scorching afternoon heat.      The 1st CP Football Day is just one of the efforts to have more children with CP get into sports. It received a big boost when Globe Telecom entered into a partnership with the Henry V. Moran Foundation, the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA), and CP Football Philippines, the prime movers of CP football in the country.      Globe gave the foundation and its beneficiaries the much-needed communications platform to reach individuals with CP who live in various parts of the country who may be interested in football. The program also complements Globe Telecom’s “TM Sports Para sa Bayan,” a long-term program that helps kids develop and grow in a sport that they love.      “We want to use the power of sports to make a difference in the lives of individuals especially those who belong to the marginalized sectors of society.  Over the past several years, Globe has gone beyond business by offering basketball and football development programs to underprivileged kids.  This time, we want to extend our support to individuals with cerebral palsy and help them pursue their dreams,” said Miguel Bermundo, Head of Globe Citizenship and Advocacy.      CP Football is similar to a regular football game but the rules were tweaked to make the sport more attractive, accessible and fit for those with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions. The playing field is smaller and game time lasts for one hour with a 15-minute half-time break.      Aside from having fun, the 1st CP Football Day also saw the formal introduction of CP football in the Philippines as well as the search for CP individuals with the potential to become members of the “CP Rascals,” the team that will represent the Philippines in the 2022 Asian Para Games.      To support the search as well as the training, living expenses and other needs of the players, interested groups and individuals may send their donation to the following: Account Name: The Henry V. Moran Foundation, Inc. Account Number: 2251-0005-33 Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands Bank Address: Greenhills Missouri Branch Missouri cor. Nevada Sts. North-East Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila Swift Code: BOPIPHMM      Dr. Anna Raganathan, Consultant Psychologist and Board Member of the International Federation of CP Football, said that based on research, individuals with cerebral palsy who have consistent exercise can recover to become almost normal. “Even when they get physical therapy already, the addition of sports can make them stronger and help them avoid injuries because they get to develop their bones and muscles.”      She also told the parents that they don’t have to worry if their kids are still too young or won’t be selected as a member of CP Rascals. The program will continue even after the first team is already formed and it will even become the training ground of CP individuals who want to start young. “It’s about time that everyone should look at the abilities of individuals with cerebral palsy rather than their disabilities,” Dr. Raganathan added.      It was, perhaps, a tiring afternoon for the kids who sweated it out via football together with their cheering parents and supporters. But other than the sweat and the exhausting physical efforts exerted by the kids to play football, Dr. Raganathan emphasized that aside from having the right to play sports, more importantly, CP kids also have the right to have fun.      To know about Globe Telecom’s sustainability programs, please visit:   link https://www.globe.com.ph/about-us/sustainability and https://www.facebook.com/GlobeBridgeCom/

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ADB Development Asia features Romolo Nati as Expert in Sustainable Design

July 7, 2019

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By: , Italpinas Development Corporation (IDC) Chairman and CEO, Architect Romolo V. Nati sheds light on the importance of Sustainable Design in real estate.  Arch. Nati, an expert in green architecture, emphasized the advantages of developing sustainable buildings for emerging cities.  Nati cited the importance of sustainable development and climate resiliency in the real estate sector, and the need to integrate sustainable features in the design framework of resilient buildings in an article featured by Development.Asia by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).      Development.Asia is a knowledge collaboration platform for sharing and promoting expertise, best practice and technology related to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Nati has been chosen as one of the few industry Expert in the country, sharing solutions in Sustainable Design. (Know more about article at https://development.asia/explainer/why-real-estate-investors-must-adopt-sustainable-design)       Philippines can be a role model for sustainable development in Asia. Architect Nati believes that sustainable design will reap the most benefit in the country. Architect Nati applies nature-based design, known as biomimicry – a concept that emulates the process, systems, and strategies present in nature – to his projects. And uses an advanced design technology called parametric software that allows the designer to factor in local conditions so that the building orientation, shape, and features are maximized for natural ventilation and natural light. Each design is unique and adapted to a specific location and project.       IDC has marked its legacy as the first green mover in Cagayan de Oro with its flagship project, Primavera Residences. With the passion to further strengthen its green advocacies in the city, IDC pursued to showcase its green initiative with its latest development, Primavera City. And further expanding in Sto. Tomas, Batangas with its project, Miramonti Green Residences.  All three developments of IDC had been awarded by the prestigious International Property Awards-Asia Pacific. Its latest development, Miramonti Green Residences received the citation in the Best Mixed-Use Development category in the International Property Awards-Asia Pacific 2019-2020. While IDC’s first two projects, Primavera Residences and Primavera City, both located in Cagayan de Oro, are recipient of the same category with  Primavera Residences winning recognition in 2015, and  Primavera City winning the award in 2017.

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