Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Search For Freedom – A Journey to the Himalayas (Taguig City, Metro Manila)

Janet Belarmino-Forney
The SEARCH FOR FREEDOM - JOURNEY TO THE HIMALAYAS (check out trailer here), organized by the husband and wife team of  Todd Forney (American mountain biker, skydiver, dive instructor, mountain climber and engineless offshore sailor) and Janet Belarmino-Forney (one of the three Pinays who scaled Mt. Everest on May 16, 2007 (the two others are Carina Dayondon and Noelle Wenceslao), is a 12 part series of talk shows that aims to empower people and create interest and a lasting impact by promoting healthy lifestyles, outdoor education and travel. 

Todd Forney
These talks, to be held at ROX at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, will be a mixture of high-quality trekking, mountaineering, climbing and outdoor photographs and videos. The show starts on August 2, Thursday, 7 PM, with Janet as guest speaker.

Speakers during the event will be high-caliber outdoor professionals, truly inspirational speakers who have motivated themselves and others to achieve great things.  Aside from Janet and Todd, other speakers include the abovementioned Carina Dayondon and Dr. Teofredo “Ted” Esguerra (the First Philippine Mt. Everest Team's physician) and more.

Carina Dayondon
The event will also have sections for exclusive partners, via professionals or a company’s representative, to join speakers on stage, and present, via hands-on demonstrations or promotion, their brand and products or directly promote their upcoming events. 

These sections will cover additional topics such as health and wellness, (i.e. vitamins, gear, gyms, events and product to improve health), outdoor gear and apparels (i.e. clothing, shoes watch, bike, tents), communication and lifestyle, (i.e.; phones, computer, travel, insurance, etc.).  

Belarmino Ventures - Nueva St., Brgy. 1, Sinamay, Coron, Palawan, Philippines. Mobile number: (0915) 091- 8102.  E-mail: belarminoventures@gmail.com. Website: www.belarminoventures.com/pinoy-himalayan-mountaineering-club and www.janetbelarmino.com.

R.O.X. - B1, Bonifacio High Street, 11th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Philippines.  Tel: +632-8564638 to 39.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Boyzone: 25th Anniversary and Farewell Tour (Pasay City, Metro Manila)

Three years after their last concert in the Philippines, the Irish boy band Boyzone will return to the country to perform their career's biggest hits live as part of their 25th anniversary and farewell tour. The concert, produced by OvationProductions (promoter in the Philippines of other well known boy bands such as The Backstreet Boys, New Kids On the Block, Boyz ll Men, Color Me Badd, All-4-One, K-Pop’s Big Bang and also co-producer of One Direction, it celebrates its 40th anniversary next year), is to be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on August 26, 2018 (check out video here).  It is the final chance for their millions of Filipino fans to watch them perform together.

Boyzone in 1998.  The late Stephen Gately is second from right  (Stefan Rosseau/PA)

The band first performed in the country on August 29, 1997 (at New Cebu Coliseum in Cebu City) and, the next day, at the Folk Arts Theater in Manila. They returned, 18 years later, for a one-night only concert (a continuation of the group’s BZ20 Tour, also known as the 20th Anniversary Tour which began in 2013) at Smart Araneta Coliseum on May 26, 2015. The Irish group is planning to split up for good, but not before returning, together for the last time, for a stop in Manila, one of the stops in their world tour. On April 28, 2018, it was announced that the band would formally disband after their anniversary celebrations. 

Formed in 1993 by music mogul Louis Walsh (who is also known for managing Johnny Logan and Westlife), Boyzone was originally composed of five young Dublin Northsiders Keith DuffyStephen GatelyMikey GrahamRonan Keating, and Shane Lynch. One of the most successful bands in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the group had 24 singles in the UK (21 of them in the top 40 UK Singles Chart with 18 in the top 10 and six of them No. 1) and 19 top 5 singles in the Irish Singles Chart (nine of them No.1). They also had five No. 1 albums, with 25 million records sold by 2013 worldwide.

The group initially disbanded in 1999. Despite the fact they've all been pursuing solo projects from car dealerships to soap roles to singing for many years, Boyzone have never permanently split up and they got back together in 2007, originally with the intention of just touring (the Back Again... No Matter What tour). Following the death of co-lead singer Stephen Gately on October 10, 2009 of natural causes from a pulmonary edema resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition (while on holiday at his flat in Port d'Andratx in the Spanish island of Majorca), the boys went on as a foursome, releasing 3 more albums and selling 2 million records, including their fantastic, new final album "Thank You & Goodnight."

The album, released on November 16, 2018 with 12 new tracks, includes a very special tribute to Stephen in the shape of a new song, "I Can Dream."   Guest songwriters Sam SmithEd Sheeran and Gary Barlow have written some songs for this album). To date, Boyzone have released four studio albums and seven compilation albums and, based on BPI certifications, have sold over 13 million records in the UK alone. In 2012, Boyzone was ranked, by the Official Charts Company, as the 29th biggest selling singles artists in British music chart history and is the second most successful boy band in Britain, behind Take That.

The Thank You & Goodnight Tour, which promotes the album, is also to be their last tour. It started on June 29, 2017 in Cartmel, Lancashire; continued to London, York, Edinburgh and, of course, several gigs in their homeland, Ireland. They next hit Asia before returning to Europe. The Asian Leg of the Boyzone 25th Anniversary Tour, starting on the 16th of August in Colombo (Sri Lanka), continues to Prambanan (YogjakartaIndonesia) on August 19, to Singapore on August 21 and in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on August 24 before proceeding to Manila.

Boyzone is best known for their iconic, most loved and biggest 1990s hits (click on highlighted song to watch it on YouTube) such as “Love Me For A Reason” (an Osmonds' original), “Daydream Believer” (a Monkees' original), “Father and Son” (a Cat Stevens' original), “Should be Missing You Now,” “Close To You,” “Words” (a Bee Geesoriginal), the upbeat, brassy “Picture of You” (from the soundtrack of Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie), “Working My Way Back to You” (A Four Seasons' original), “Baby Can I Hold You” (a Tracy Chapman original), the  country ballad “I Love the Way You Love Me” (a John Michael Montgomery original), “You Needed Me” (an Anne Murray original),  “What A Wonderful World” (a Louis Armstrong original), “Everyday I Love You,” and most especially original material such as the mushy ballad “Key to My Life,” “So Good,” “Coming Home Now,” A Different Beat,” All That I Need” and “No Matter What” as well as Motown hits like The Four Tops’ “Reach Out (I’ll BeThere)Jimmy Ruffin's What Becomes Of the Broken Heartedand The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” among many others. 

Tickets to the concert will be available at www.smtickets.com and all SM Tickets outlets starting Thursday, July 5, 2018. Ticket prices are PhP5,500, PhP5,000, PhP4,000, PhP3,500, PhP2,500, PhP1,000 plus ticketing charges. For info, call telephone number (02) 470-2222 or mobile number (0917) 149-5959.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

By Chance: Solo Art Exhibition of Carmela Geisert (Makati City)

Carmela Geisert beside her painting "Tubbataha Reef" (2018, mixed media on canvas, 36 x 48in., Php66,000),  a fluid art painting evoking the colors of underwater life, its mystery and otherworldly beauty inspired by the artist’s diving adventures in Palawan

I happened to have met Ms. Carmela Laurin-Geisert twice at Asia Grand View Resort in Coron, Palawan.  I knew her enough in her capacity as President and General Manager of the resort but never realized that she was an artist and self taught at that.  

The creative expression of this Filipino artist, born in Manila but raised in Taguig City, previously ranged from travel, photography, makeup and fashion. 

A jet-setting trailblazer in the local tourism industry for more than two decades, her passion for art started in 2016 when, during long-haul flights, she started sketching using pastel crayons and charcoal.  

While exploring the character of paint on canvas, she became enthralled, impassioned and enlivened by the possibilities, unpredictability, beauty, simplicity and serendipity of the mesmerizing and now very popular medium called fluidity art (also known as paint pouring, liquid art or flow art).  

Ribbon Cutting, L-R: Mr. Tobias Rast (German Club), Mr. Ole Morabe, Ms. Emy Aganan (Steelwings Foundation),  Ms. Carmela Geisert, Ms. Agnes Gervacio (CEO Advisors Managing Director) and Mr. Glenn Hocson (Brothers Phils General Manager and President of PATTS College of Aeronautics Alumni Association)

Agung Awakens, Indonesia (2018,
acrylic on canvas, 11 x 16 in.,
Alps Winter Night (2018,
acrylic on canvas, 11 x 16 in.,
This form of abstract art involves mixing acrylic paints, with a runny (fluid) consistency, that reacts with each other, when combined together, to make interesting and visually organic motifs. 

When different color combinations are poured into each other, they form intricate patterns which can be influenced and manipulated with certain techniques. With the addition of a clear resin medium, it levels and hardens to a beautiful glossy finish.

L-R: Ms. Rica Rentzing and Mr. Tobias Rast, both of the German Club; top designer Mr. Ole Morabe,  Ms. Agnes Gervacio (CEO Advisors Managing Director), artist Ms. Carmela Geisert, Ms. Emy Aganan (Steelwings Foundation),  Mr. Glenn Hocson (Brothers Phils GM and Pres of PATTS College of Aeronautics Alumni Association), mentor artist Ms. Connie Cabalar and mentor/curator Mr. Jes Evangelista

Faith (2017, acrylic on canvas,
16 x 20 in., Php18,000)
Fallen Angels (2018, acrylic on
canvas, 20 x 24 in., Php18,000)
Geisert, eager to explore this new life direction, is now fascinated and inspired by the post World War II art movement called abstract expressionism.  

Though she did not formally study Fine Arts (she graduated B.S. Airline Secretarial Administration in PATTS College of Aeronautics in 1995), her friends inspired her to do more artworks and embrace the art scene. She counts as her idols artists such as Jackson Pollock, a major American figure known for abstract expressionism, as well as French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Guests on opening night

Once in a Blue Moon (2018,
acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 in.)
Minimalist (2018, acrylic on
canvas, 16 x 20 in., PhP18,000)
Her her first solo exhibition, By Chanceproposes varying realms of possibilities for art making. The exhibition opened last Tuesday, April 10, at the German Club Manila.  

Here, Carmela displayed her first collection of 21 whimsical, vivid and tasteful works of small (11" x 16" and 16" x 20") to medium-scale (20" x 24," 33" x 34," 48" x 24," etc.) paintings. Inspired by her travel adventures and significant events happening globally, it is also an introduction, not only to her art, but also of a world on canvas that she envisioned.  Using the aqueous character of vibrant pigments, she managed to create, from memory, artwork that evoke a time and a place and, sometimes, even a feeling. 

L-R: Jandy Layug, the author, Ms. Mae Pascual, Ms. Carmela Geisert, Ms. Louise Santiano, Mr. Pete Dacuycuy  ((Publicist) and Ms. Via Marie Claire Baroma (Expat Travel and Lifestyle Magazine)

Spring Blooms - Green, Red and
Orange (2018, acrylic on canvas,
20 x 24 in.,Php18,000)
Sydney Hot Spring Night (2018,
acrylic on canvas, 11 x 16 in.,
The contrasting colors of each painting are mixed together in elegant compositions, the sinuous flow of each tincture showing off its own character.  

Blacks secure a visual foundation, reds form peaks and valleys of interest while iridescent gold snakes through and emphasizes the presence of one line against the other.  Geisert lets her paints flow into the directions they choose to go, with her gentle nudges still exerting control over the medium while giving it space to pool, stream, and run. 

Houseboat in Amsterdam (2017, mixed media on canvas, 33 x 34 in., Php32,000)

Tulip Farm Netherlands (2018,
mixed media on canvas,
36 x 48 in., Php66,000)
Thoughts (2017, mixed media
on canvas, 21.5 x 27.5, Php24,000)
Proceeds from the sale of the paintings will go to the Steelwings Model Foundation, a nonprofit aviation organization where she is a member. 

The foundation, dedicated to the advancement of aviation and aerospace, research and development and to honor its contributors, was established on July 12, 1991 at the PATTS College of Aeronautics (where Geisert is a 2017 Outstanding Alumni Awardee).  Prices of her paintings range from Php8,000 to Php66,000.  The exhibit will run until May 8.

Tokyo Bay Cruise (2017, mixed media on canvas, 12.75 x 34.25 in.)

German Club: Penthouse, Eurovilla II, 118 V.A. Rufino St., Legaspi Village, Makati City.  Tel:  (632) 894-2899.  Website: www.germanclub.ph.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Hotel and Inn Review: Villa Angelica Resort and Events Place (Alaminos City, Pangasinan)

Date of Stay: March 30-April 1, 2018

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

Villa Angelica Resort and Events Place

Villa Angelica Resort and Events Place, a highly recommended place to stay in Alaminos City (the gateway to the Hundred Islands National Park), is the residence of former U.S-based (Houston, Texas) balikbayan couple Eduardo Medrano and Angelica "Angie" Roxas-Medrano (after whom the resort was named) turned into a bread and breakfast and events place just last November 2017 upon the recommendation of a friend.
Check out my articles on "Hundred Islands (Alaminos City, Pangasinan)"

L-R: James Cruz, Jandy Layug, Grace Layug, Bryan Cruz, Kyle Layug and Cheska Layug

 Angie lets out six of the house’s rooms for guests – four facing the dining/living area (which has now been converted into a function hall for parties, seminars, reunions, team building, wedding receptions, etc.), another in the attic (accessible via a spiral staircase) and another (formerly the gym) facing the lanai (which has been converted into an outdoor dining area). 

The Double Room we stayed in
Dresser and the huge flat screen cable TV

The last two are barkada/family rooms suitable for huge groups of 8 – 20 pax.  Two ground floor standard rooms share a common toilet and bath. The attic room has a balcony overlooking the swimming pool. All 6 rooms are fully airconditioned and have huge flat-screen cable TVs. Room rates range from Php2,000-10,000.

The ground floor barkada/family room

Common bathroom
Barkada room toilet
The double room that we stayed in (Php5,500/night) had a queen-size bed and a double bed plus a dresser table and a huge 65-inch flat screen TV. 

The spacious ensuite bathroom had a jacuzzi tub, separate shower area (with rainshower head), separate water closet cubicle and twin lavatories on a granite counter top.

Barkada/Family Room at attic

Standard Room 1
Standard Room 2
 The resort doesn’t have a full service restaurant but guests can partake of full meals, ordered in advance, and prepared in the kitchen by the resort’s cooks.  

They also cater food to the abovementioned functions, whether held indoor at the function hall or outdoor at the pavilions and gazebo at the swimming pool area.

Function Hall

The resort, sitting on a 3,500 sq. m. lot, is very private and the surrounding neighborhood is very peaceful. The free form swimming pool (3 to 6 ft. in depth), surrounded by shaded pavilions and gazebos with garden furniture and sun loungers, is very clean and has shower rooms.  The resort also has a children’s playground, videoke (open until 10 PM) and an outdoor gym. Parking for up to 10 cars is available for guests.  The service at the resort was excellent and the staff was very accommodating.  Angie was so hand's on, accommodating and very hospitable.

Villa Angelica Resort and Events Place: 026 Sitio Kampilan, Brgy. Magsaysay, Alaminos City, Pangasinan 2404.  Mobile number: (0908) 465-9813 (Smart) and (0995) 749-0258 (Globe). 

Day swimming entrance fee (9 AM – 4 PM): Php150 (adults), Php130 (7 to 13 years old) and PhP100 (6 years old and below).  An addition Php50/head will be charged after 4 PM.  Night swimming entrance fee (4 – 9 PM): Php180 (adults), Php150 (7 to 13 years old) and PhP120 (6 years old and below). All day swimming entrance fee (9 AM – 9 PM): Php250 (adults), Php200 (7 to 13 years old) and PhP150 (6 years old and below). Cottage fees: Php300 (2 – 4-pax), Php600 (5 – 8-pax), Php1,000 (8 – 10-pax gazebo), Php1,500 (10 – 15-pax center pavilion) and Php2,000 (10 – 20-pax pavilion, additional Php1,500 if greater than 20 pax).

How to Get There: From Alaminos City proper, head towards Lucap Wharf/Hundred Islands, turn left on Magsaysay  (road after Western Hospital, Alaminos National High School and  before Lions Club and Alaminos Coop), turn left on Sitio Kampilan (road after Magsaysay Elementary School), follow signs and the winding and asphalted road all the way to the end. Villa Angelica is on the left hand side of the road.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Hotel and Inn Review: Hotel Consuelo Resort and Chinese Restaurant (Lingayen, Pangasinan)

Date of Stay: March 29-30, 2018

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

Hotel Consuelo Resort and Chinese Restaurant

Front Desk
Grand Pavilion Building
This old, 5-storey hotel, formerly the Viscount Hotel, is now owned and managed by Angelcon (a merger of the names of Engr. Angelito Trinidad and his wife Consuelo, after whom the hotel was named) Properties. Renovated (with the addition of the swimming pool) and reopened on November 28, 1995, it now has two buildings on a 4,700 sq. m. lot - the Resort Building in front and the newer Grand Pavilion Building. Both buildings have a total of 65 airconditioned rooms with private baths (with hot and cold shower), room-to-room intercom system, cable TV and mini fridge.    

Cheska and Kyle at the hotel lobby

The Grand Pavilion has 12 family suites with terrace and jacuzzi – Cleo (PhP3,000), Trinidad (PhP4,500) and Angelcon (PhP6,500).  The Resort Building, where we stayed in two rooms (one standard twin and one suite), had 53 rooms - single (PhP950), matrimonial (PhP1,100), standard twin sharing (PhP1,500), de luxe matrimonial (PhP2,000), Consuelo Suite/Executive Suite (PhP2,800) and Angel Suite/Penthouse (PhP3,250).  Extra bed: PhP200.

Suite (Room 315)

TV and fridge
It also has an airconditioned restaurant (serving Chinese and Filipino cuisine) and bake shop, both at the ground floor; a 24-hr. front desk; 2 outdoor swimming pools (adult and kiddie); poolside clubhouse; picnic huts; videoke room; function rooms (2 floors at the Grand Pavilion) and a secured parking area. A 24-hour Fast food & Lugawan  serves breakfast, dimsum, late food orders and room food service. Wifi is available only at the hot and humid lobby as well as the restaurant. The restaurant offers Eat-all-you-can every Fridays, 11 AM – 2PM.

Twin sharing room (Room 308)

The hotel was very badly maintained. There is no elevator and the stair treads were not standard height.  The staff, however, was very friendly, polite and helpful. Don't expect luxury as the room accommodations are basic. Nothing fancy and they are much in need of a renovation or update.  The twin beds were for one person only. The bathrooms of the two rooms we stayed in had no toilet seats. The suite had no remote control for its TV. Mosquitoes are prevalent and I had to have the room sprayed with mosquito killer when we were out.  The hallway outside the room echoes all the noise of the doors slamming and the kids yelling.


Kiddie pool
Pool clubhouse
This budget-friendly hotel is located just a 5-min. walk from Pangasinan State University across the street, a short walk from Urduja House, 150 m. from the well kept, tree lined Gov. Aguedo F. Agbayani Park, 700 m. from Lingayen Beach, 5.86 kms. from Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine (Bugallon), a 45-min. drive to the Hundred Islands (Alaminos City) and 7.09 kms. from San Isidro Church.  There are tricycles parked in front of the hotel so you can easily get a ride around Lingayen.

Adult swimming pool

Hotel Consuelo Resort and Chinese Restaurant: Alvar St. corner Maramba Blvd., Lingayen, Pangasinan, Philippines 2401 (Show Map). Tel: (075)-529-1719. Mobile numbers: (0908) 325-7750, (0932) 468-9954, (0921) 751-2941 and (0917)972-3030. Manila tel: (632) 565-3645. E-mail: hotelconsuelo@yahoo.com  and tdelacruz_ppc@yahoo.com.  Website: www.hoteconsueloresort.com