Thursday, 11 January 2018

Ed Sheeran Live in Manila

Finally, British singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer Ed Sheeran  will push through with his much-anticipated Manila concert on April 8, 2018, Sunday, 8 PM, at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds.  

His original concert date of November 7, 2017, also at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds, as well as “Divide” Asia Tour shows in Osaka and Tokyo (concerts in Taipei, Jakarta, Seoul and Hong Kong) were cancelled), was rescheduled due to a cycling accident (he fractured his right wrist and left elbow) last October 15 in London. 

His second visit here, the celebrated performer first performed in the country last March 12, 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena (check out video).

The 26-year-old, Grammy Award (Best Pop Solo Performance) winning Sheeran is one of the best-selling artists in the world.  His latest album "Divide" smashed Spotify records, drawing 57 million listens on the first day of its release (nearly twice the previous highest). The album performed especially well in his native Britain (he was born in Halifax) and in Ireland (his paternal grandparents are Irish), where he traces ancestry and whose traditional music he incorporated into two songs on "Divide."

After several years of playing on the street and in bars, the red-haired Sheeran won breakthrough international success with his 2014 love ballad "Thinking Out Loud." This 2016 Grammy Award winning “Song of the Year,” his second single to reach number one in the UK (it also spent eight weeks at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100), is the first song on Spotify to be streamed half a billion times.

For the highly anticipated Divide album tour, Ed is expected to perform for Sheerios (nickname for Sheeran’s fans) in Manila (check out video greeting), aside from "Thinking Out Loud," his other hit singles "Photograph" (reaching the top five on the main singles charts in more than five countries, it peaked at No. 10 in the US), "Give Me Love" (No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart), "Shape of You" (the best selling single of 2017 in the UK), "Castle on the Hill" (No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart ), "Dive” (No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart), “Perfect” (No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart) and "Supermarket Flowers" (No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart), among others.  

His Manila concert is presented by Ovation Productions and AEG Presents Asia. Listen to his 'Divide' album at

Tickets for the show, up for grabs at, are priced at PhP13,040 (Patron A - seated), PhP11,450 (Patron B - seated), PhP8,290 (Patron C - seated), PhP4,060 (Gold, standing), PhP3,010 (Silver, standing) and PhP1,950 (General Admission - standing).

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Hotel and Inn Review: Hotel Monticello (Tagaytay City, Cavite)

Date of Stay: December 2-3, 2017

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ******
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: *********
Staff Performance: ********
Room Comfort: ********
Food and Beverage: ******
Other Amenities: *******
Value for Money: *******

Hotel Monticello

This fairly new, 5-storey boutique-type hotel, opened last April 2015, is a quiet, luxurious and comfortable sojourn just an hour and a half away from Metro Manila. 

Nicely laid out, awashed in dark wood motifs and fitted with contemporary wood furnishings, their 41 rooms and suites are bigger than usual 5-star hotels, with enough space to move around. 

The hotel lobby

All have  individually controlled air-conditioning, 42-inch flat-screen LED cable TV, wi-fi internet access, coffee/tea maker, mini-chiller, mini fridge, ice bucket and electronic safety deposit box.  The beds and the pillows were very comfortable.  

The private en suite bathrooms were equally spacious and have shower a room with hot and cold water, shampoo and bath gel dispenser with extras including bath robes, hair dryer and hamper (laundry bin).  If the person does not have an electronic key card they cannot use the elevator to return to the room.  

Superior Quad (Room 308)

Their 10 types of comfortable, well appointed and modern rooms  all have a touch of luxury. Certain rooms include a balcony and a seating area for you to relax in. The 26 sq. m. Deluxe King  has a king bed and can accommodate a maximum of 3 adults and 2 children.  

The 26 sq. m. Deluxe Twin has 2 single beds and can accommodate a  maximum of 3 adults and 2 children.  The 30 sq. m. Veranda King has a king bed and balcony and can accommodate a maximum of 3 adults and 2 children.  The 30 sq. m. Veranda Twin has 2 single beds and a balcony and can accommodate a maximum of 3 adults and 2 children. 

Second floor lounge area
The 30 sq. m. Superior King has a king bed and can accommodate a  maximum of 3 adults and 2 children.  The 30 sq. m. Superior Twin has 2 single beds and can accommodate a maximum of 3 adults and 2 children.  

The 48 sq. m. Superior Quad, the room that we stayed in (Room 308), has 4 single beds and can accommodate a maximum of 5 adults and 2 children.  The 52 sq. m. Penthouse Firenze has a master and 2 single beds and can accommodate a  maximum of 6 adults and 2 children.  The  83 sq. m. Penthouse Capri has a master and 2 single beds and can accommodate a  maximum of 6 adults and 2 children.  The 112 sq. m.Penthouse Amalfi has a master and 2 day beds and can accommodate a  maximum of 6 adults and 2 children.

Front desk

The hotel also has a 24-hour front desk, a small but well-equipped fitness gym (open 7 AM to 9 PM), massage spa, business center, function rooms, multipurpose lounge, grand ballroom (VIA) and a gift shop and offers room service and luggage storage.

The temperature-controlled swimming pools

Fitness gym
The very cozy and clean lobby was huge, with lots of comfortable sofas provided. An atrium in the middle lets in natural light to all floors of the hotel. There are also a lot of lounge areas even on room floors. Their piano bar (Roma), only open on Fridays and Saturdays, 7 to 11 PM, offers ice-cold drinks and delicious appetizers.  Their pianist’s repertoire was more of OPM and pop-jazz.

Function room

Roma Piano Bar
The bar's pianist
The outdoor, 25 m. long adult lap pool and children’s wading pool, both major attractions and a rare find in Tagaytay, were both warm (it’s temperature-controlled), good sized and relaxing and had a poolside lounge. Open 7 AM to 9 PM, it is a fun place to dip in, even in the cold weather. 

Hotel Monticello’s Soleil Garden, an open pavilion, can accommodate up to 150 persons. Free private secured parking (outdoor and basement) is available on site. Their pretty decent wi-fi is also free to use in the public areas.

Cafe Mercedes

However, their coffee shop (Cafe Mercedes) was small and you might have to wait for our turn to be seated if all tables are occupied.  Welcome drinks were served here. Their breakfast buffet tasted good enough but was limited to only four choices of viand (alternating with longganiza, tocino, dilis, danggit, sausage, corned beef, daing na bangus, hotdogs, etc) plus champorado, rice (plain or fried), soup, a few cereals, bread, brewed coffee, juice (pineapple and orange), hot tea, cucumber infused water, fruits (watermelon and ripe mangoes) and an egg and salad station. The servings from their ala carte menu could do with a bigger portion. The table setting was very clean. The staff was friendly and courteous and their service was prompt.  

Breakfast buffet

Gift shop
Located after Taal Vista Hotel. Skyranch (1 km.) and the PAGCOR Casino (500 m.), the  hotel is located 9 kms. from Picnic Grove, 11 kms. from  People's Park in the Sky and 10 kms. from Taal Volcano (no view of this from hotel as it is on the other side of the road).  

It was also near famous dining places like Joel Torre's Manukan, Cafe Carmencita, JP's Inasal, Mushroomburger (500 m.), Balinsasayaw and Bag of Beans. There aren't any malls or supermarkets close by.  Their room rates are a bit pricey for the location. However, altogether, it was a relaxing family getaway.

Soleil Garden

Hotel Monticello: Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Highway (past Km. 60), Brgy. Kaybagal South, Tagaytay City 4120, Cavite.  Tel: (+63-46) 413-1111 and (02) 552-5238. Mobile number: (0977) 831-0088. Email: Website:

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Engelbert Humperdinck Live in Manila

British singer and international music legend Engelbert Humperdinck, one of the finest middle-of-the-road balladeers and hottest male pop idols of the 1960s, returns to Manila (his last visit here was  a one-night-only concert on July 10, 2016 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum) to relive the classics and reminisce as classic pop and ballad enthusiasts celebrate with him in his 50th Anniversary Tour, a global touring celebration of a successful half century in the music and entertainment industry of the singer, with stops in major cities in the United States, United Kingdom, other parts of Europe, and Asia, including the Philippines.

The four-date, four-city pre-Christmas concert event series begins on November 23 in the Laus Event Centre, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, November 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, November 30, 2017 at the Alonte Arena in BiƱan, Laguna and on December 2 at the Central Philippine University, Iloilo City  in Iloilo. This event is made possible by Ovation Productions.

With the outrageously memorable name of Engelbert Humperdinck (after the Austrian composer of the 19th century opera, “Hansel and Gretel”), and with his deep voice and thick sideburns, he burst into the music scene in the ‘60s along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Tom Jones, and was catapulted almost instantly to the status of world icon.

In the last four decades, he has generated sales in excess of 140 million records, including 64 gold albums and 35 platinum, four Grammy Awards nominations, a Golden Globe Award, and stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Las Vegas Walk of Fame, and Leicester Walk of Fame. Humperdinck has performed for Queen Elizabeth II four times, several presidents and many heads of state as well as  toured the world before sold-out crowds in Great Britain, United States, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Canada and Southeast Asia.

He has recorded everything from the most romantic ballads to movie theme songs, disco, rock, and even gospel. With his sense of humor and self- deprecating jokes, Humperdinck has endeared himself to fans and, after appearing on MTV several times, has managed to strike a new chord with a younger generation.

Engelbert became great friends with Elvis Presley and the two legends often performed each other’s songs. His first single in the charts was “(Please) Release Me,” which was No. 1 in 11 countries and went into the Guinness Book of Records for achieving 56 consecutive weeks on the charts.  The following decades saw Engelbert touring the world to sell-out crowds.

Humperdinck’s inimitable three-and-a-half octave range and ultra-smooth onstage charisma, captivating fans of every generation in many parts of the world, was subsequently hailed by The London Times as “the premier voice of the 20th century.” His sweet, powerful voice has been immortalized in timeless tunes loved by many Filipinos and fans worldwide like “(Please) Release Me,” “The Last Waltz,” “Am I That Easy To Forget,” “After The Loving,” “Man Without Love,” “The Way It Used To Be,” “There Goes My Everything,” “Spanish Eyes,” “Love Me With All Your Heart,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” the unforgettable “Quando, Quando, Quando,” and many more.

Engelbert Humperdinck Live in Manila tickets are priced at
 5,500.00 (SVIP),  4,500.00 (VIP),  4,000.00 (Ringside),  3,500.00 (Patron),  2,500.00 (Lower Box) and  1,500.00 (Bleacher).  Tickets are available online at and at SM Customer Service.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

2nd Wine Blogging Media Night "Prelude to the 17th Grand Wine"

PWM Director
Ronald Lim Joseph
PWM Off-Trade Head
Ms. Dawn Rosary Ignacio
For the second time around, lifestyle bloggers were invited to another Wine Blogging Media Night "Prelude to the 17th Grand Wine" at the Wine Museum Hotel & Resto where we were to listen to presentations of wine industry players.  

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by Mr. Ronald "Ronnie" Lim Joseph (Director) and Ms. Dawn Rosary Ignacio (Off-Trade Head), both of Philippine Wine Merchants (PWM), one of the biggest wine importers and distributors in the country and organizer of the 17th Grand Wine Experience  to be held on November 24, 2017, Friday, 5 PM at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel, Newport City. 
Check out "1st Wine Blogging Wednesday Media Night: Prelude to the 17th Grand Wine"

An array of wines, spirits, tequilas and whiskeys

Ms. Tricia Apostol 
of Fly Ace Corp.
Mr. Ariel Broncano
Ms. Trisha Apostol, Product Manager of Fly Ace Corporation, one of the country's leading food and beverage consumer goods companies, was the first presenter. Fly Ace exclusively distributes wine brands such as Franzia, Casillero del Diablo and Concha Y Toro. 

According to Ms. Apostol, Casillero del Diablo, a widely recognized premium brand of Chilean wine which means the “devil's cellar,” was so named because winery  founder Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, spread the myth that the devil lived in the cellar to prevent theft.

A recent campaign of Casillero del Diablo was a Filipino food pairing project with highly acclaimed celebrity chef-host Sharwin Tee, the first-ever winner of Lifestyle Network’s reality cooking show “Clash of the Toque-en Ones” and host of “Curiosity got Chef,” as its newest ambassador. 

To introduce this Chilean legend to the casual Filipino wine drinker, Sharwin spiced up the wine and food pairing by cooking hearty Filipino dishes (Arroz a la Cubana, Pulled Pork Adobo Nachos, Grilled Chicken with Guava Glaze and Spicy Mussel and Clam Brisket), one of his specialties, with Casillero del Diablo itself.  Four of Casillero del Diablo’s wide selection of wine varietals were presented. 

Four Casillero del Diablo wines

·         The Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere 2016, a smooth, deep, dark purple and delicate wine with intense color, has smooth, round tannins, and attractive aromas of black currant, chocolate and hints of coffee and toasty oak. 
·         The Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, a dark, ruby red with aromas of cherries, black currant and dark plum, is very concentrated, rich in flavor, perfectly balanced and boasts a satisfying and lingering finish. 
·         The Casillero del Diablo Merlot 2016, a  smooth, medium-bodied wine that perfectly combines plum and red berry flavors with smoky, cedar wood aromas, is ideal to match with pasta, risotto and lightly spiced red meat dishes.  
·         The Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Brut, a sparkling wine with a gorgeous pale yellow color, is bright, very delicate and with small bubbles. It is deal with appetizers and starters made with fish and/or shellfish and pairs perfectly with Japanese foods, especially sushi.

The next presenter was Mr. Ariel Broncano, Senior Marketing Officer of Global Noble International Corp. (GNIC), a wholesaler and importer of a wide range of liquor products including whiskey, tequila, wine, and brandy/cognac. Mr. Boncano introduced us to Teeling Irish Whiskey, Windspiel, Licinia and Casa Noble Tequila.

Whiskeys and tequilas of Global Noble International Corp.

·        The Casa Noble Tequila Anejo, an exquisite, limited production tequila beautifully contained in an artisan purple glass decanter, matured in French white oak barrels for two years and extra aged to perfection, exhibits a deep golden tone, has an exceptional bouquet and body, and ranks among the finest distilled spirits in the world.  
·         The Casa Noble Tequila Blanco, a “crystal,” unaged blanco tequila, is a pure agave spirit, packed full of peppery flavor, distilled and then bottled without any contact with wood.
·         The Casa Noble Tequila Reposado, an exquisite, smooth, sensuous and full bodied 100% Agave tequila produced at La Cofradia in Jalisco, Mexico, is matured in French white oak barrels for 364 days. This tequila is contained in a beautiful hand blown cobalt blue bottle, adorned with an exquisite pewter engraved label and top. This we sampled with the Casa Noble Margarita cocktail that was served to us.

·         The Teeling Whiskey Single Malt Irish Whiskey, a rich and spicy whiskey aged for up to 23 years, are matured in a range of wine casks: sherry, port, Madeira, white Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon
·         The Teeling Whiskey Single Grain, released in 2013, was matured full term in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels, resulting in a spicy and fruity whiskey. 
·        The Teeling Whiskey Small Batch, a delicious small-batch blend with a very high malt content is, interestingly enough,  also been matured in rum casks for added spice. This whiskey was the centerpiece of  the very refreshing leprechaun, a classic and sophisticated American cocktail which was served to us.

According to Mr. Broncano, on October 2013, GNIC, seeing the growing trend of online selling in the Philippines, launched, an online deal site for wines and spirits product line plus wines accessories (e.g. wine glasses, cork screw, etc.) and other luxury items (e.g. apparels, restaurant vouchers, gadgets, hotel accommodations, etc.) It is the first wine and spirit deal site in the Philippines where members get freebie packages and discounts with purchases, earn points and redeem rewards.   Other wines were also on display during the press conference:

An array of Stolichnaya vodkas

·         The classic Stolicnaya Gold is a great, double-distilled and incredibly smooth Russian vodka made from wheat and rye that is fantastically smooth yet delightfully characterful and complex. In 2008, it was awarded a Gold medal at The Vodka Masters.
·        The Stolichnaya Salted Karamel, the world's first salted caramel-flavored vodka, offers the perfect balance of sweet and savory. With a creamy-silky textured mouth-feel, it has a finish that is rich and warm, with lingering caramelized sugar and English toffee notes, balanced with a light saltiness that draws out the caramel for a taste that is completely delicious.
·         The Stolichnaya Gluten Free Vodka, distilled from corn and buckwheat, is completely gluten-free but still maintains the flavor that has made Stolichnaya famous.
·         The Stolichnaya Minibar Pack includes Stolichnaya's Classic Vodka, Stoli Vanil, Stoli Ohranj, Stoli Razberi and Stolichnaya Blueberi. 

Marques de Murrieta Gran Reserva 2009, Dalmau Reserva 2012 and Rioja Reserva 2011

·         The Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 2011, an energetic tempranillo from Rioja, Spain, has an intense bright cherry red color and boasts ripe red fruit attributes accompanied by a subtle and creamy oak and lots of spices.
·         The Marques de Murrieta Gran Reserva 2009 has a dark, intense red brick color with a mature aroma of mellow red and dark fruits with hint of spicy oak.
·         The Dalmau Reserva 2012,  a premium, limited-production Spanish red wine  aged 18 nonths in French oak barrels from Allier and another 12 months in the cellar prior to its release, is made from a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Graciano.

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011, Valpolicella Classico 2014, and Soave

·         The Allegrini Soave, a classic, a soft and graceful Veronese white wine from the Garganega grape, is bright straw yellow in color, of average intensity with green reflections.  It impresses with its fresh and inviting aromatic expression.
·         The Allegrini Valpolicella Calssico 2014, a very nice, full flavored, medium bodied and ruby-red colored Valpolicella, has a fruity taste, with cherries and some sour cherries packed together with just a hint of plum. 
·         The Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011, a rich, red amarone wine from the traditional classico viticultural zone of Valpolicella in Veneto, north-eastern Italy, is one of Veneto's most famous and prestigious wines. 

Piramimma Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Petit Verdot

·         The Cabernet Sauvignon McLaren Vale 2013, a dark, fully saturated and full bodied red wine with a fairly long finish, has scents of eucalyptus, black cherry and dill ripe dark cherry with plum, cassis, smoke, vanilla and toasted oak. 
·         The Petit Verdot McLaren Vale 2013 is a red-wine whose small, thick-skinned berries are valued for their depth of color.
·         The Shiraz McLaren Vale 2013, a hearty red wine, has a deep purple color and a thick, luscious choc berry palate with oak sweetness.

Montes Alpha

·         The Montes Alpha Purple Angel, an intense, concentrated, dense, powerful Carmenere red from Montes with ripe tannins, violets, nutmeg and cloves, is the third most expensive wine made from Carmenere in Colchagua Valley.
·         The Montes Alpha Special Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, also known as Black Label, has a deep ruby color.  It is the third most expensive wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon in Central Valley, Chile.
·         The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, a full bodied, generous and ripe vintage Cabernet with a generous amount of cocoa, mocha and plums and lots of new oak and toasty flavors. 
·         The Montes Alpha Merlot, among the higher priced and one of the most popular wines (90% Merlot, 10% Carmenere) from Colchagua Valley, has a handsome ruby-red color with grapes sourced from Apalta and Marchigue.
·         The Montes Alpha Syrah, a dark-skinned red wine, is one of the top 10 Apalta wines.  The 2003 vintage was awarded Silver from the Indy International Wine Competition while the 2007 vintage was awarded Bronze from the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Arzuaga Tinto 2011 and Crianza 2013

·         The Arzuaga Ribera del Duero 2011, a tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain, has a blend of 95% Tinto Fino, 3% Merlot and 2% Albillo. Clean and bright, ruby red and shades of purple. Great aromatic intensity, complex and elegant, with notes of compote of red fruits of the forest, well assembled with the tertiary aromas of a clean and subtle barrel, leaving in retronasal hints of smoked and roasted. Enveloping and structured, with great unctuousness marked by its sweet tannin. Sensations silky and prolonged aftertaste. 
·        The Arzuaga Crianza 2013, a single varietal tempranillo made from grapes coming from several plots scattered over the Ribera del Duero region, Spain, is aged 14 months in half French and half American oak barrels.

A toast to the 17th Grand Wine Experience's success

For advance registration, call telephone numbers (02) 853-9894, (02) 851-0172 and (02) 831-7951, e-mail or online at

Philippine Wine Merchants: 2253 Aurora Blvd., Pasay City 1300, Metro Manila.Tel: (02) 853-7423.  Email: Website:
The Wine Museum Hotel & Resto: 2253 Aurora Blvd. (formerly Tramo Rd.), Tramo, Pasay City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 239-4278.  Fax: (632) 853-5894. E-mail: Website:
Global Noble International Corp.:  2/F, Ilo Bldg., 195 Gregorio Araneta Ave., 1100, Quezon City, Metro Manila. Tel: (632)714-0299 and (632) 716-3328.  Fax: (+632) 714-2485. E-mail:  
Fly Ace Corp.: 7/F, Fly Ace Corporate Center, 13 Coral Way, Central Business Park, Pasay City, Metro Manila. Tel: (632) 807-9999. Fax:: (632) 807-9999 local 737 & 842. E-mail: Website: