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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

EDGAR ALLAN GUZMAN and MAXINE MEDINA Star in PNPP 2018 Film Entry “PINAY BEAUTY”

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32-yr old Migs, meets loan-shark Tito Val in a park beside Pasig river, where tall billboards abound, to settle a serious P180K debt he accumulates to help out Annie, his girlfriend of 7 years. 
Annie has gotten an “aesthetic plan” to fix herself and fulfill her ultimate dream to be Snow White in Hong Kong Disneyland and be a princess on a parade.  She aspires to have fair, smooth skin with bigger breasts—like a typical Caucasian. This for her is what it means to be truly beautiful.  And being beautiful means she  will earn her dollars, and secretly live her romantic princess world even if it is a job.
Migs explains that he doesn’t have the money but promises to do anything to be able to pay up but before he’s finished explaining, loan-shark gets distracted by a billboard of Lovely G – a famous actress on a Pinay-Beauty billboard campaign from across the river. Being a big fan of the beauty of the Filipina, loan-shark gives Migs an ultimatum– he has 3 days to find Lovely G and introduce him to her, and their debt is settled.
How does a regular guy who knows no one in showbiz get to a celebrity?
Accompanied by his 4 friends, Migs begins the difficult quest to find and meet the celebrity,  a series of comedic trials putting the six-degrees-of-separation theory to a test. Migs will lie, steal, break-in into people’s premises, break the law, gets caught, almost thrown in jail and gets beaten up –  while at the same time learning about the value of being dark skinned and having a more dominant nose, which is all of Annie and the girl he fell in love with 7 years ago.
Pinay Beauty is about the perennial quest of the typical Filipina to look Caucasian and the cost it entails.
Catch the movie during the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PNPP) 2018, from August 15 to 21 during the Buwan ng Wika celebration.

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COMING to the PHILIPPINES in 2019: New York’s SHAKE SHACK

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Filipinos have always been a powerful consumer base for fast-food chains and franchises. Whether it is a local brand like Jollibee, or the countless chains from overseas like McDonald’s and Starbucks, they are never lacking for patronage here in the Philippines. And there are always new chains trying to make inroads in our country every year. One of these is Shake Shack, a “fast casual” restaurant chain that started right in New York City back in 2004 but now has over a hundred international locations in Europe, the Middle East and Oceania as of 2017. Their next stop: the Philippines.
ABS-CBN News has it that this Wednesday, July 18, the SSI Group of luxury retailers announced that they will soon be bringing over the Shake Shack license to the country by next year, making the Philippines the first country in Southeast Asia where the chain will establish a foothold. To this end, SSI which now has a development and licensing agreement with the NYC shake joint, is putting their heads together with local producers to come up with a one-of-a-kind idea for the first Shake Shack branch that will open – naturally – somewhere in Metro Manila.
This makes Shake Shack the second food and beverage license currently held by the SSI Group, next to TWG Tea. Already the fast casual restaurant is excited to open up in Manila by 2019 that it has issued a greeting to its future consumer base on Twitter Wednesday, July 18.
From its humble beginning as a hotdog cart operating at Madison Square Park in 2001, Shake Shack opened its first New York City restaurant in 2004, and immediately became a hit with its namesake milkshakes, reinforced with Angus beef hamburgers, Vienna beef dogs and chicken sandwiches and crinkle cut fries. Their current Asian branch closest to the Philippines is Japan.
Aside from TWG Tea and now Shake Shack, other non-food brands operated locally by the SSI Group include the Philippines’ Gucci stores, and other luxury fashion houses like Alexander McQueen, Marks & Spencer, Givenchy, Ermenegildo Zegna, and more affordable chains like Zara and Payless ShoeSource.
Image courtesy of Accruent

CHINESE AMBASSADOR Allays Concerns on Perception of PHILIPPINES as “PROVINCE OF CHINA”, as Well as Accusations of Trapping Country in DEBT with “SOFT LOAN” Grants

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The relationship between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China has always been a tad complicated, particularly in the matter of territorial rights and limits in the South China Sea, which our country renamed the West Philippine Sea to reinforce claims to features such as the Scarborough Shoal. In contrast with the stubborn stance of past presidencies, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a conciliatory attitude with China, leading to some cynical critics pulling stunts like the “Province of China” banners in Metro Manila last week. China’s ambassador, however, is offering reassurances that there is no such political distinction lies between the two nations.
CNN Philippines reports that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua has issued a statement denouncing the “falsehood” contained in the red banners proclaiming “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” that have been put up in areas around Metro Manila since July 12. “Not now, not ever… The Philippines can never be any part of China,” said Zhao, adding that such stunts by yet-unidentified parties are a vicious attack on the cordiality of the China-Philippines bilateral relations. He is echoing the opinions of Executive Secretary Harry Roque, who believes the banners were the work of “government enemies”.
The posting of the “Province of China” banners came on the second anniversary of the International Arbitral Tribunal from The Hague that invalidated the “Nine-Dash line” assertions of China that cut significant chunks out of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
Aside from the issue of the banners, Ambassador Zhao also allayed concerns brought up regarding the large-scale monetary grants by his government that have been given to the Philippines to finance several major infrastructure projects. In particular, this refers to two Metro Manila bridge projects, of which President Duterte has recently presided over their groundbreaking ceremonies on Tuesday, July 17.
These bridges, one connecting Manila’s Binondo and Intramuros and the other connecting Makati and Mandaluyong, have been completely footed by the Chinese grants and will cost the Philippine government nothing, but have sparked speculation that China is deliberately putting the country into a “debt trap”. This assertion was pooh-poohed by Ambassador Zhao saying, “China’s grants does not have any strings attached to them. And China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into a debt trap.”
President Duterte also added his own weight on the bridge issue, saying that Chinese officials never attached strings to their soft loans in their discussions with him. “I’d just like to tell everybody that in all if these Discussions, China did not ask any, even one square of real estate in this country,” the President said. As for how he would address the arbitral ruling from 2016, Duterte answered, “I’m sure that in the end, China will be fair and the equity will be distributed.”
Image courtesy of Philippines Lifestyle News

BORACAY: STILL One of the TOP 10 ISLANDS IN ASIA Even While Remaining CLOSED

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It was plain to see, going into the year 2018, that the resort island of Boracay was in trouble in terms of its environmental health. Algae were blooming in its waters, brought about by sewage dumping from business establishments along the shore, some of which was being done clandestinely. President Rodrigo Duterte spurred government agencies on a hard crackdown to rehabilitate Boracay, necessitating a months-long closure that shut down the island’s bloated local and international tourism industry while volunteer crews cleaned up the mess. There have been no tourists on Boracay since April, yet somehow it remained a top destination, at least on a list.
According to ABS-CBN News, not even the mandated closure and rehabilitation of Boracay Island has cost it its spot in the Top 10 Island in Asia list of “Travel + Leisure” magazine. It may have wavered a little, perhaps because the deterioration has been spotted before the island was shut down, but still, finishing at 8th place on the “Travel + Leisure” list with a score of 86.14 is nothing to sneeze at. There are still months more to go before Boracay is reopened to the public, but his ranking should buoy many travelers’ spirits.
Boracay is not the only Philippine island on the Top 10 Islands of Asia list this year. Also making the cut is Cebu, which actually trumps Boracay with its 6th-place finish with an 89.10 score. And Palawan was actually the top placer on the 2017 edition of the list; for 2018, however, it has fallen to 5th place with 90.04, with all scores decided from “Travel + Leisure” reader votes. The Department of Tourism, always looking for an opportunity to hype the effectivity of Boracay’s rehabilitation, hailed the resort island’s ranking in Asia on Facebook.
“Travel + Leisure” magazine has it that the current number one island in Asia is Java, Indonesia, which was also named by the travel publication as the Top 1 Island in the whole world. This is due to Java’s multifaceted tourism experience in being able to travel from urban Jakarta to more historically ancient places like the Borobudur Buddhist temples without taking any boat rides.
Here is the whole list of the Top 10 Islands in Asia according to “Travel + Leisure”, plus their respective scores.
  1. Java, Indonesia (95.28)
  2. Bali, Indonesia (94.06)
  3. Lombok, Indonesia (93.88)
  4. Maldives (90.48)
  5. Palawan, Philippines (90.04)
  6. Cebu, Philippines (89.10)
  7. Phuket, Thailand (86.14)
  8. Boracay, Philippines (86.14)
  9. Koh Samui, Thailand (85.07)
  10. Koh Lanta, Thailand (82.50)
Boracay Island is set to reopen on October 26.
Image courtesy of Watchmen Daily Journal

NICKELODEON, PARAMOUNT Announce RELAUNCH of Popular 90’s Animated Series “RUGRATS”

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In 1991, children’s show network Nickelodeon started a new animated series about the adventures of a group of toddlers who made epic adventures out of everyday life experiences, and in doing so stumbled into a ratings and award-winning goldmine. “Rugrats” became such a shit with a wide audience demographic that it spawned comics, videogames, a film franchise, and even spinoff series that chronicled the lives of Chucky, Tommy and friends past toddlerhood and beyond. The franchise ended regular airing in 2008. Now, a decade later, these favored characters may be coming back – in their iconic toddler ages – for a re-launch.
Variety has it that Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures dropped the major bombshell just this Monday, July 16. The kids’ network has announced a revival season of “Rugrats” running 26 episodes, once again telling stories of the band of adventurous toddlers and their supporting cast of older children and adults. To make the reboot as close to the originals as possible while telling all-new plots, the original creators Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó and Paul Germain will be returning to the project as executive producers.
In addition, the new Paramount Players film division will begin work on developing a live-action adaptation of “Rugrats” – with the toddlers being portrayed by CGI – as part of their larger plans to make feature-length treatments of other marketable franchises from all cable channels under the Viacom umbrella.
Viacom Media Networks COO Sarah Levy is well aware of the lasting popularity and legacy of the 90s animated series. “Rugrats is hands-down one of the most celebrated cartoons in TV history, and we are thrilled for a whole new audience to meet these iconic characters in brand-new adventures,” she said, adding that it is certain that viewers of today will be just as enamored with Tommy, Chuckie and friends, as the original viewers were from nearly three decades ago.
While the new “Rugrats” cartoon is already starting production at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California, the live-action/CGI “Rugrats” film has tapped David Goodman to write the story, with the prospect of premiering it on November of 2020. Paramount Players president Brian Robbins is aware of the cross-generational appeal of the concept of “Rugrats” saying, “Kids who grew up with Tommy Pickles and the “Rugrats” crew will now be able to share that experience with their own children.” It should be recalled that the show not only won several times on Nickelodeon’s own Kid’s Choice Awards, it also racked up four Daytime Emmys on its original 13-year run on TV.
Other than “Rugrats”, Nickelodeon has announced possible returns for more of its classic programming. “Blue’s Clues” has also been announced prior, and specials for “Hey Arnold” and “Rocko’s Modern Life” have already aired on the network or are in production.
Image courtesy of E! News

The CUBE BOUTIQUE CAPSULE HOTEL in Kampong Glam: The Newest CAPSULE HOTEL Experience in SINGAPORE

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It may sound ironic, but sometimes a good hotel stay can be had abroad even if your “room” is no bigger than the area of your bed. Such is the concept of the capsule hotel, developed since the 1970s in Japan to provide affordable accommodation for the night in a small space. Despite most capsule compartments in these hotels being merely large enough to sit, lie down, and roll around it, such an experience provides a sense of community between guests especially when it comes to the hotel’s other facilities. And who can say no to a pocketbook-friendly room accommodation.
The capsule hotel trend has since spread all over the world, and they can usually be found in some of the busiest neighborhoods of certain popular tourist destinations, like Singapore for example. This is where you can try out one of the best capsule hotel experiences anywhere, courtesy of CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotel. Starting with its original site at Singapore’s Chinatown, CUBE has just opened a new location at the picturesque Muslim community of Kampong Glam.
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Not only is this new capsule hotel within easy walking distance of famous tourists sites like the Sultan Masjid Mosque and a delicious halal dining excursion along Bussorah Street, its close proximity to the Bugis MRT station means that from there, guests can easily reach more of the must-see tourist spots around urban Singapore.
Founded by Benedict Choa and Sonia Anya Tay of RB Hospitality, CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotels can be an absolute godsend to travelers on shoestring budgets, and tourists who are willing to swap out the conventional hotel room stay for an even cozier alternative with friendly staff and fellow guests, all for some truly affordable capsule room rates ranging from just S$50 to S$120 a night.
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Much like its older sibling in Chinatown, the CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotel in Kampong Glam is housed in a quaint building dating from historic Singapore, restored and repurposed as a new accommodation venue where digitally-connected guests from business travelers to tourists can congregate to appreciate the vibrant culture around them. The new CUBE boasts a reception staff that will cater to guests 24/7 to facilitate their accommodations anytime they need.
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And what accommodations to be had! The Kampong Glam Cube Capsule Hotel has 56 individual capsules with either single or queen-sized beds with plush mattresses and duck-feather duvets, for solo or pair travelers. Each capsule has mood lighting, mirrors, complimentary bottled water, free Wi-Fi access with guaranteed fast speeds, and secure lockers for guest luggage with digital security, along with the same security access for each capsule themselves.
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Guests can also enjoy the fact that their capsules have universal electrical plugs and USB ports to charge their computers, shavers and smartphones with. The hotel comes with individual bathrooms with showers, hairdryers, washing machines, stocked with toiletries and towels that are replenished once every day. Space is also maximized with table surfaces folding down when needed.
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One major thing that the CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotel has going for it is how it easily and comfortably it fosters a spirit of community with its guests. Look no further than their daily complimentary breakfast for everybody to share as a great way to start a day of excursions. Social events are also a frequent occurrence at CUBE, like the live TV broadcast of the Final match for the recently-concluded 2018 FIFA World Cup.
For travelers to Singapore who would like a hotel accommodation that will not eat up their budget, hosted in a beautiful historic structure in a cultural center of the country, but still within easy commuting reach to anywhere else, do not fret. This is not an impossible combination at all. You can have this and more at the CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotel at Kampong Glam.
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CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotel in Kampong Glam is located at 55 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199471. For more information and booking your online reservations you may visit their official website at cubehotels.com.sg/kampong-glam, or their official Facebook page at facebook.com/kampong. You may also call them at +65 6291 1696, or email CUBE at reservationskg@cubestay.sg for your inquiries.

FILIPINO-FRENCH Backup Goalie of France in 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP Getting Lots of Philippine Attention

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Last Sunday, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia came to an end with a Final match fought between France, which has reached this stage twice before (and won one in 1998), and first-timer finalist Croatia. Both teams actually faced off against several countries that have won the World Cup in the past, ultimately facing each other at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15. France would beat Croatia 4-2, getting their second FIFA World Cup title two decades after the first. Despite not having their own team in the tournament, Filipinos found their attention drawn to the FIFA18 Finals due to one of France’s players being a Filipino-French.
CNN Philippines has it that a lot of buzz has been generated among Philippine followers of the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Russia, regarding Alphonse Areola of the French National Men’s Football Team, which was victorious in the final match against Russia. That is because Team France’s 25-year old backup goalkeeper is actually Filipino, having been born in the French capital of Paris to parents who were both Filipino. That actually made him eligible, for a time, to be recruited into the Philippine National Team (AZKALS) in the past.
Outside of his duties with the French National Men’s Football Team, Alphonse Areola is the primary goalkeeper for the French professional football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Unfortunately, he is only the backup for Team France (Les Bleus) in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, meaning he sat out the entire slate of games in the tournament while first-choice goalie Hugo Lloris was at the field all the way to the Final game against Croatia. That of course did not stop Areola from celebrating with his teammates on the momentous occasion. He even had a photo of himself holding the World Cup on his official Twitter page.
That photo could have been taken with Areola in an AZKALS uniform. Back in 2011, he was still eligible to represent the Philippines for FIFA and was indeed extended an invitation, but Areola spent his whole lifetime in France and therefore decided to go with Les Bleus for the Cup.
Aside from Areola, the rest of the Les Bleus roster was notable for being a blending of players from various ethnicities and cultures. No less than 15 of the French players were of African descent, and their contribution to the victory is being hailed as a triumph of the positive benefits of immigration, something that flies in the face of the recent anti-immigrant attitudes of many Frenchmen in past years.
While Alphonse Areola had nothing much to do as a player during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there is a chance that he could graduate to primary goalkeeper in time for the 2020 European Cup and the next FIFA World Cup in Qatar for 2022.
Among those who have congratulated Team France and Areola in particular is French Ambassador to the Philippines Nicolas Galey, who mentioned the Filipino-Frenchman’s name in his statement celebrating the victory.
Image courtesy of Twitter