Saturday, December 31, 2016


HOOQ, Asia’s largest video-on-demand service, furthers its commitment in uplifting the quality of Filipino movies as it remained the exclusive presenter of the 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival and its New Wave category.

(From L-R) Jane Walker, HOOQ Country Manager, Jeff Remigio, HOOQ Director of Content, Shiela Paul, HOOQ Marketing head
“In a year marked by big changes in the MMFF, we are proud to say that our full support for the premiere movie festival in the country has remained the same,” said Jane Cruz-Walker, HOOQ Philippines Country Manager.  “We welcome another year of partnership with the Metro Manila Film Festival, and we are proud to be part of the festival as it takes brave new steps in focusing on quality films, fresh casting choices and new approaches to filmmaking.” 

Mr. Thomas Orbos, MMFF's Over-all Chairman
In his speech, Metro Manila Development Authority Thomas Orbos said, “We are gathered here together not only to seek change but also to look back to the original theme of the MMFF which is to be a festival that celebrates Filipino artistic excellence. Change is never easy, it is a difficult path, but thanks to the MMFF Executive Committee we are here today amidst change. We believe that what we did with the MMFF this year may not be recognized now, but it will be appreciated by future generations. It is not about the money, it is about what we can give to our children later on by promoting quality films in the Philippines.”

Casts of ORO

Erik Matti’s Seklusyon proved to be the big winner at the 42ND METRO MANILA FILM FESTIVAL GABI NG PARANGAL held December 29, 2016 at the Kia Theater, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City.

Best Supporting Actress, Phoebe Walker of Seklusyon
The movie brought home eight awards including Best Director for Erik Matti; Best Supporting Actress  Phoebe Walker; Special Jury Prize Rhed Bustamante;  Best Screenplay; Best Sound; Best Production Design; Best Cinematography and Best Theme Song for Dominus Miserere.Sunday Beauty Queen, the very first documentary to be included in the annual festival was chosen as Best Picture.

Best Picture is Sunday Beauty Queen

Irma Adlawan won the coveted Best Actress category for the movie Oro, while Paolo Ballesteros was chosen as Best Actor for his performance in ¬Die Beautiful. Newcomer Christian Bables got the most cheers after being named Best Supporting Actor for his role as Barbs in Die Beautiful.HOOQ likewise gave out its own set of awards for the Short Films category including Best Screenplay: Mitatang; Best Director: Jarell Serencio Mga Bituin sa Siyudad; Special Jury Prize for Manila Scream; and Best Picture for EJK.

MMFF Short Film Best Director winner Jarelle Serencio of Mga Bituin sa Siudad

Ronnie Alonte and Rhian Ramos meanwhile, were recognized as the HOOQ Male and Female Celebrities of the Night for their stunning looks at the red carpet.

MMFF HOOQ Male Celebrity of the Night, Ronnie Alonte of Seklusyon


HOOQ is the home of the largest collection of Pinoy movies and TV series spanning almost five decades, including close to a hundred winners and finalists of the Metro Manila Film Festival such as “Baler”, “Tanging Yaman”, “Muro Ami”, “Imortal”, the beloved franchises such as “Mano Po”, “Tanging Ina” “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and many more. New additions on HOOQ from the MMFF past entries include 2013’s “Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay”, “Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy” as well as the 2015 finalist “Haunted Mansion”.

According to Jeffrey Remigio, HOOQ Philippines Director of Content and Programming, they are adding more past MMFF winners to HOOQ’s carefully curated library of Filipino titles.

MMFF and HOOQ are also working together to encourage the next generation of movie makers through the HOOQ Short Films category. HOOQ awarded a host of Short Film prizes including the Special Jury Prize and the Best Short Film. 

Each HOOQ Short Film was partnered with a long-form finalist and were screened during the MMFF regular theater run from December 25 to January 3.  Each film runs under 5 minutes and most will be available on HOOQ shortly after conclusion of the Metro Manila Film Festival. 

“Last year, we saw a lot of very interesting entries that surprised us with their quick narratives and creative storytelling techniques,” added Remigio. “HOOQ believes in nurturing these next generation of film makers by providing them a platform where more audiences can view their movies.”

“The world has begun to take notice of the best content Philippine cinema can offer, by supporting these young filmmakers, HOOQ is also investing in the future of entertainment,” adds Remigio.


The festival kicked off with the annual Parade of Stars on December 23 which began at the Manila City Hall at Nicanor Lopez Street and ended at Plaza Miranda—the original route used in the very first MMFF Float Parade.

Among the stars that participated in the Grand Parade of Stars  were Nora Aunor, Eugene Domingo, Paolo Ballesteros, Kean Cipriano, Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte, Dominic Roque, Mercedes Cabral and many others.

Bela Padilla also joined the parade aboard HOOQ’s OTJ float. Padilla is one of the lead stars of the upcoming series OTJ: The Missing 8, the very first original local content produced exclusively for the video on demand service.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

SM Mall of Asia's New Cinemas Open with Rouge One: A Star Wars Story

For those who missed watching Rouge One last week to give way for the Metro Manila Film Festival, worry not, because selected cinemas will resume its viewing schedules after the MMFF is over. Still, I find it hard to understand why a lot of people failed to watch this latest Star Wars film while it was still showing in practically all movie houses all over the country?! I mean, the movie occupied all cinemas at SM malls, and still many weren’t able to watch it?! 😕 Nonetheless, for those who procrastinated during its viewing dates, you will just have to wait for few more days. 

A selfie with my son Gab before heading inside the cinema...
For the sake of clarity, the movie Rouge One is neither a prequel nor sequel to the Star Wars series. It is a “sub-story” that was expounded inside Star Wars Episode IV – New Hope. In that particular episode, many viewers prompted the question on how the Resistance was able to retrieve the Death Star plans from the hands of the Empire. The Episode IV opening scroll was the only context viewers can get to answer that question. The full details of how the plans were acquired is actually the story of Rouge One. 

with Star Wars Cos-players...
Watching a Star Wars movie is always a treat for me, most especially if such is experienced in a good quality wide screen cinema. Recently, SM Cinemas at the Mall of Asia launched Cinemas 7 & 8 with state-of-the-art reclining seats and Dolby sense-surround system to capture a close to life cinematic experience. These movie houses were finally launched to members of the media the other week, and what film could be more fitting to experience an official opening than Rouge One?

 Directed by Gareth Edwards, the story was written by the creative minds of John Knoll and Gary Whitta. It is an off-shoot story that revolves around the lives of mortal characters of the resistance or rebels after the rise of the Empire and the fall of the great republic. For the first time, a powerful Jedi, who is always expected to save the day, will not be the center of the story's heroic feats. The film impressed to the viewers that behind every victory of the resistance to defeat the emperor are regular soldiers who are likely “less stronger” in the side of the Force but equally brave and committed nonetheless.  

So excited watching Rouge One on these reclining seats...
The film stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Alan Tudyc as the android K-2SO, Donnie Yen (IP Man) as the blind Chirutt Imwe, Wen Jiang as Baze Malbus, Ben Mendelson as Orson Krennik, Guy Henry as Governor Tarkin, and Forest Whitaker as the cyborg Saw Gerrera. Some of the amazing features of the film is the state-of-the-art CGI rendering of Governor Tarkin, which originally starred the late Peter Cushing and the young Princess Leia starred by late Carrie Fisher. It was said to be one of the most expensive and the most true-to-life character reconstructions ever made by computer graphic imaging. 

Rouge One is handful of rebels committed to steal the plans of the Death Star. (Photo credit to:
 In just over two weeks of its showing, the film has already crossed the $200 million mark in Box Office revenues and is not showing any signs of slowing down yet in ticket sales. Catch Rogue One at the newly opened Cinemas 7 and 8 in SM Mall of Asia to fully enjoy your movie watching experience!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sun Life Taps USSC as New Partner in Offering Insurance Services

No Filipino should be left behind when it comes to life insurance. Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) is relentlessly seeking new ways so that life insurance can be accessible and affordable to every Filipino who painstakingly work and provide for their families wherever they are in the world. Earlier this year, the leading and the longest-standing insurance provider in the country launched the RISE PH campaign to push for greater financial inclusion expanding its market towards the marginalized segment of the society. 

Executives of Sun Life and USSC
Part of the campaign and another step further to expand its services is Sun Life's partnership with Universal Storefront Services Corporation (USSC), one of the country’s largest networks of one-stop service shops that offer money transfer, transport ticketing, payment collection, cellphone top-ups and non-life insurance offerings. USSC, for those who are not familiar with the company, was the Radio Communications of the Philippines Inc. or RCPI years ago. For the millennial, RCPI was the leading wired-telegram provider in the Philippines. 

Mr. Jose Xavier Gonzales, President and CEO of USSC and 
Ms. Riza Mantaring, President and CEO of Sun Life of Canada (Philippines)

Monday, December 26, 2016

HOOQ Presents the Celebrity Premier of “SEKLUSYON”

”Sapat na ba ang dasal mo?”

After the critically acclaimed “On The Job – OTJ” movie that gained a lot of praises and positive criticisms as well as it's subsequent partnership with HOOQ to produce a six-part series based on the film, Reality Entertainment once again partnered with the video-on-demand app in bringing another nerve-racking masterpiece by the Award Winning Director Erik Matti entitled - SEKLUSYON. The film is an official entry in the upcoming 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Likewise, It has garnered positive reviews from its international premier at the recent Macau International Film Festival.

HOOQ Team with the cast of Seklusyon and Direk Erik Matti
On its Philippine Premier held at the Cinema 10 of SM Mega Mall last December 22, 2016, Director Erik Matti and the rest of the cast took time to hold a press conference that was attended by various members of the media. In the conference, Direk Erik highlighted his idea of honing great talents in the newbies, which makes most of the film's cast members as rookies in the film industry who possess promising acting talents.

Director Erik Matti

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Alviera’s SandBox Launches Night Operations

My son and I visited Sandbox early this year and had a great time. You can read all about it, here.


The SandBox in Alviera has announced that it is extending operating hours for guests to enjoy all the outdoor adventure park's attractions until 9 PM every Friday and Saturday. Weekends become extra special with the "SandBox Holiday Beats" concert. 

Alviera, an Ayala Land sustainable estate in partnership with Leonio Land, is located in Porac, Pampanga. The estate is accessible via NLEX-SCTEX and is envisioned to become a regional growth center of Central Luzon. “SandBox in Alviera is popular with families, especially those with small children. Our newest facility will service the needs of families with little kids. This way, all family members, not just the adults, can have a great time in Sandbox,” said Jomi De Guzman, Alviera Project Development Manager.

Li'l People,a new entertainment facility welcomes children up to 12 years old. The air-conditioned indoor playground is filled with colorful play areas where children can interact with each other. Educational toys abound to help them learn while playing.New dining choices have also opened in SandBox. El Pedro Cubano is an authentic Cuban restaurant that offers Cuban sandwiches, arroz, mariquitas (chips with salsa), tucca fritas (cassava fries with salsa), tamales, and empanadas.

Monday, December 19, 2016

NUVALI Celebrates Christmas with Their Newest Attraction – Magical Field of Lights

For someone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, one common iconic family destination during Christmas season was the C.O.D. Christmas Show in Araneta Center, Cubao. Families, most especially kids looked forward to the day of watching mechanically-run life-sized mannequins in their colorful lights presentation in front of C.O.D. Department Store. The technology at that time was crude and simple but for us kids then, it was already an entertaining state-of-the-art show. Today, the C.O.D. ceased to operate and was already replaced by Puregold Department Store and the yearly Christmas presentation has already overtaken by much more attractive shows of high-tech effects.

C.O.D. Cubao in its last few remaining days of operation...
However, with the advent of LED and computer technology, more are drumming up various colorful light presentations in different spots in Metro Manila. A popular Christmas show that has been capturing many people attention is the Ayala Triangle Christmas Festival of Lights and Sounds show in Makati City. It’s a colorful spectacle of Christmas laser light effects which are digitally orchestrated and synced with sense surround musical show. For years, it is one of Christmas season’s iconic destination that has been attracting many kids of all ages all over the metro.

Ayala Triangle Christmas Light and Sounds Show (Photo Credit to ClickHandler.ashx)
But this year, there is another original theme show created by Ayala that is as spectacular and will surely captivate and ignite everyone’s Christmas spirit. The Magical Field of lights at Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna is Ayala Triangle light and sound show version in Nuvali. The lights and sound presentation is staged on the grassy fields that replicates the technical effects of the one in Makati. But instead of lights on trees, LED are installed on the vast field as bright colorful wave of lights.

An ideal and brighter way to celebrate Christmas...
Certainly far way better than the C.O.D. Christmas show in Cubao when I was a kid...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

VERMOSA Launches Active Revolution Theme with Danny McAskill's Drop and Roll Crew

Who would want to live in Cavite?

A little over 15 years ago, I used to roam the vast province of Cavite when I was still working in the pharmaceutical industry. At the time, road networks were very few and narrow and the only main highways, which all vehicles are using are the crowded Aguinaldo Highway and Governor’s Drive and it took me a while to cover all of my clients because of the worsening traffic situations. Getting in and out of the province was a very laborious travel and back then, I've always said that Cavite is one place I wouldn’t want to live in. 

Cavite roads in the olden days 
Photo credit:
CAVITEX. The fastest connection from Manila to Cavite. One of Pnoy Administration's proudest achievements. Thanks to the unparalleled performance of former Sec. Singson of DPWH. (Photo credit:
It’s been a while since I last visited Cavite and I noticed a lot has changed, most especially the roads and alternative routes to get from one town to another. With the new highways that were made, particularly the CAVITEX, the Daang Hari and the MCTex, there are now plenty and faster ways to get to and around Cavite. With these improvements, my outlook on how I see Cavite has begun to change, too.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gerry’s @ 20

Almost 20 years ago, I got my first real job in the corporate rat-race as a medical representative. My first assignment was in Manila where I used to cover and visit doctors on a daily basis. During the early 90’s, being a medical representative at that time was among the most lucrative careers in the sales industry because of its perks, commissions and, of course, the company car which we were also allowed to use for most of our personal agendas. 

Gerry's new logo and Name...
Being young with substantial cash to spend, my colleagues and I were frequent visitors of the “grill hubs," an emerging food and booze favorites for medreps. Among the most popular was Gerry’s Grill along Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City. I can still remember the place as an open space diner where Grilled Pusit, Tuna-panga, the Sizzling Sisig and buckets of SanMig lights were the common staple foods during Friday nights… Those were the days!

The First Gerry's at Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City
20 years after, look how Gerry’s has evolved into now!

The Gerry’s that we used to know with the ‘tambayan-beer garden vibe' has transformed into a more casual family-oriented feel. That single branch in Tomas Morato has now grown into more than 80 branches, not just here in the Philippines, but in other countries as well. Recently, it also franchised several popular Asian restaurants that likewise captured Pinoys' food preferences.

Beef Kare-kare. One of Gerry's best seller...


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