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Archive for January 2014

The Vhong Navarro Beating in Forbeswood Heights Condominium

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Vhong Navarro in a file photo from

I never really followed the news about the beating of Vhong Navarro until I was handed a circular by one of the guards of Forbeswood Heights Condominium. While walking back to the six-tower, medium-rise condominium compound, passing through the first basement entrance from Rizal Drive, the security desk hands me a letter from condominium’s property manager.

Okay, now I’m interested; and here’s the letter.

The circular or letter I received as a tenant of Forbeswood Heights Condominium.

Thirty seven year old Vhong Navarro, real name Ferdinand Hipolito Navarro, is a Filipino actor, comedian, dancer, singer and host at ABS-CBN. He is also part of the dance group Streetboys. While part of the dance group, Navarro was discovered by director Chito S. Roño who continues to manage him. Among the products he has endorsed were Sprite, Pop-Cola, RRJ, Lucky Me, Selecta Ice Cream and Blu Tab. He appears frequently on the Sunday variety show ASAP and in It’s Showtime as a host.

His marriage to Lalaine Bianca Lapus was annuled the Philippine Court of Appeals in 2008. He has two sons from this previous marriage, Fredriek “Bruno” and Isaiah “Yce.”

On January 22, 2014, Navarro was allegedly attacked and severely beaten by a group of men inside a condominium unit in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, now knowingly identified as Forbeswood Heights Condominium along 28th Street and Rizal Drive. According to his manager, Chito Rono, Navarro was invited by a female friend named Deniece Cornejo to visit her in her condominium unit, where he was tied up and blindfolded by several men, threatened and then beaten up. The perpetrator was identified as Cedric Lee, who was also accompanied by several other men during the time of the incident. Following this, it was stated that Navarro will temporarily not be appearing on It’s Showtime and other television projects while he continues to recover.

Navarro was accused of alleged attempted rape which he denied. In an interview with TV host Boy Abunda on Buzz ng Bayan, Navarro said he was apparently set up and the people who beat him up were asking for up to P2 million. On January 29, 2014, one week after the incident, Cornejo filed a rape case against Navarro. But the National Bureau of Investigation said it was impossible that there was an attempted rape on Cornejo, based on the CCTV footage.

The NBI clarified that Cornejo is not the owner of the condominium unit in Forbeswood Heights. The owner has been identified as Soledad Ramos, who was set to appear before the NBI Wednesday yesterday. The NBI yesterday showed the CCTV footage that supports Navarro’s version of events of his beating which left him hospitalized.

Let me stop here as I know there are already hundreds of sources of more detailed news out there, especially the timeline of the beating. Suffice it to say, luring and beating Vhong is the crime which Cornejo and her cohorts have to pay very soon.

Source: Wikipedia | GMA News Online

Photos from @raffypekson,


Star World Philippines Launches American Idol Season 13

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American Idol Season 13 judges.

Prive Luxury Club in the heart of Bonifacio Global City speaks well of a venue to launch the thirteenth season American Idol, America’s top reality-singing competition that began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002 and is now one of the most successful shows in American television history.

Egad! Has it been more than 11 years since I first watched Kelly Clarkson win the first season?

Prive Luxury Club hosts Star World’s telecast of the American Idol Season 13.

Of course, my favorite seasons were that of Carrie Underwood winning the Idol contest and Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez where I used my VoIP service to call their toll free numbers to vote. The best scene was when judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler used their “Save” option to make Jessica stay on through the contest after she received the fewest votes during one of the “top week” episode.

The worst episode was Season 12. Nicki Minaj was just too darn irritating and Mariah Carey being one of the most aloof judges I’ve ever encountered in American Idol. It was a good thing the boys (Randy Jackson and Keith Urban) were there. Otherwise, the season would have totally flopped. Well, IMHO. No apologies necessary.

Season 13 brings back my favorite judge and international pop diva Jennifer Lopez with previous season mainstay, country singer, songwriter, guitarist and multi-awarded Keith Urban. And the third judge is newcomer Harry Connick, Jr. Harry who? LOL! That’s exactly what the auditioners of the first episode were all asking behind the scenes. Connick actually has seven top-20 albums and ten number-1 jazz albums to his credit. Yes, he’s actually popular.

Unlimited vodka and Stella Artois beer by the Star World candlelight.

So far, Connick has been the comedian of the trio-judge, even portraying funny bromance scenes with Urban during the first few episodes of Season 13. I can’t remember if it was the first or second season that Connick even carried an Indian-looking auditioner who idolized him. “At last! Somebody who knows me!”

I still miss the original judging tandem of Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, especially the cat fights of Abdul and Cowell. Those eight season were always a riot to watch. Still, Season 13’s judges are better than Season 12.

Star World in the Philippines held its launch event of the American Idol Season 13 to the online and offline media people at Prive last January 16, 2014. Though American Idol’s first telecast actually started at 6:00 PM in the Philippines, the showing of the first episode during the launch event began at its encore telecast at 8:00 PM while cocktails were being served to the media people in attendance.

The media people who attended the event were all privileged to receive a goody-bag consisting of a Devant Android tablet plus other items. It was even awesome that Star World provided us with an American Idol branded case for the tablet with the logos of American Idol, Star World and Fox International Channels all around the cover. Nice!

PB Network media (L-R): me, Ron of, Ian of, Az of, and Myrns of


Star World Philippines gave away a Devant Android tablet to each media person.


Star World by the candlelight.


Egad! I forgot who hosted the event.


Media people huddle and network with each other.


Elevated view of Prive Luxury Club.


DJ mixes while waiting for the encore telecast of the American Idol Season 13.

Star World has been the home of the American Idol reality-singing show in Asia since it first aired in 2002, being able to bring the world’s most popular reality-singing competition to the homes of millions of viewers in the Asian region.

You can also watch the first episode of the American Idol Season 13 here via YouTube.

Photos by @raffypekson, @starworld_ph


Aubergine – Eat Well, Laugh Often, Love Abundantly

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Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie in Bonifacio Global City

It’s a popular French phrase when it comes to good food – Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup. So, I don’t speak French but those first two words mean a lot for the French where good food isn’t just a luxury – it’s a way of life.

I was invited by media publicist Arabelle Jimenez of Ecrit-Com, Inc. to join the owners of Le Cellier French Wine Selection (Le Cellier Quality Store Corp.) Bernard Flour and Jorinda Flour for lunch at Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie, located at the second floor of the 32nd and 5th Building, 5th Avenue and 32nd Street inside Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. I was surprised to learn there is a fine French restaurant tucked inside one of the iconic buildings of Bonifacio Global City since it started in December of 2007; and to think I’ve lived in the area since 2010.

Arabelle, me, Jorinda and Edel inside Aubergine’s glass-encased wine cellar.

Aubergine is at the second floor of where McDonald’s has been for quite some time. I’ve never really looked up the building while passing through the area for the past years. It was only that Monday that I noticed the Aubergine sign at the second floor.

I didn’t know that Bernard and Jorinda brought white wine from their wine cellar and when asked, I quipped that I liked red over white all the time. But our gracious hosts ordered a bottle of Récolte 2011. According to Bernard, the taste of the Récolte mimics that of Chilean red wine which is strong to the palate and one of the reds I like because of its value-for-money.

Récolte 2011 red wine goes well with my medium rare Angus striploin steak.

Together with Edel San, the other online publisher invited to dine at Aubergine, we wandered around the restaurant and was truly amazed at its glass-encased, auto-temperature cooled wine cellar in the middle of the restaurant. They also had their trophy case at one of the ends of the place filled with, well, lots of trophies and awards they have won through the years. By the way, Aubergine is the restaurant extension of the The International School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management (ISCAHM), a world-class culinary training center in Quezon City. But I’ll get back to that later on the founders. For now, let’s eat!

The Business Lunch Menu is an affordable fine-dining French meal.

For lunch, I opted for the three course Business Lunch Menu that started with home smoked beef Carpaccio with caper berries-tomato, beetroot marinated salmon with honey-dill mustard sauce, and assorted salad greens in passion fruit dressing. I love Carpaccio! Over soup.

I love Carpaccio! Over soup.

From the plat principal (“main course” in French) selection of grilled Chilean sea bass, Mulwara beef tips and grilled U.S. Angus striploin steak, I chose the latter for my main course. Hey! I’ve always been a meat guy and savoring Aubergine’s medium rare steak was a delight. One thing that grabbed my taste-attention was the assortment of veggies and potato around my steak. The sweet taste of the rosemary-potato gratin together with the striploin steak was a match made in heaven!

I’ve always been a meat guy and savoring Aubergine’s medium rare steak was a delight.

To end the Chef d’œuvre lunch, we were served a sweet concoction of coffee and banana mousse cake, cameralized banana and coffee ice cream. Oh, the camarlized banana was a delight to my coffee that ended the meal.

Oh, the camarelized banana was a delight to my coffee that ended the meal.

Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie was founded by Hans Schallenberg and Norbert Gandler, colleagues of their own rights in the culinary world who met at the Hilton Osaka and later at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. They both opened ISCAHM in December 2002. When they opened Aubergine in December 2007, they invited its current Executive Chef Stefan Langenhan who just left Silversea Cruises, a luxury cruise line that operates eight luxury cruise ships. Besides the cruise line company, Chef Stefan has held Executive Sous Chef and Executive Chef positions of various properties in Germany, Austria, and the USA. We actually met Chef Stefan of German decent during our à la carte experience; a nice, humble guy.

Aubergine’s Chef Stefan Langenhan and Le Cellier’s Bernard Flour.


Awards, patisserie and the bar.


Dining area of Aubergine.


Glass-encased kitchen of Aubergine.


Separating the main dining area and the bar is Aubergine’s glass encased wine cellar.


A view of the entrance from the inside reveals the familiar McDonald’s logo. So, you won’t miss Aubergine along 32nd Avenue.

I am grateful to Arabelle Jimenez of Ecrit-Com, Inc. and Bernard and Jorinda Flour of Le Cellier for inviting us to grace Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie. It was truly an experience worth repeating.

Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie
32nd and 5th Building
5th Avenue and 32nd Street
Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City 1634 Philippines

For reservations, e-mail the restaurant at or call/text:
+63 (2) 856-9888
+63 (917) 557-1675
+63 (949) 641-9468

Parking is available at the basement of the building where the entrance is behind the HSBC building. There is also an open parking space across the street at the Bridgestone Tires building.

Le Cellier French Wine Selection
(Le Cellier Quality Store Corp.)
Unit 201 Sunette Tower
Durban St.
Makati City 1200 Philippines
Tel. No. +63 (2) 897-1840
Fax No. +63 (2) 890-0019

Photos by @raffypekson


Hennessy Artistry Manila Halo 2014 Photos

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I attended both the press conference of the Hennessy Artistry Manila Halo 2014 at the Salon de Ning in The Peninsula Manila last Wednesday and last night’s party at the Samsung Hall inside SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

This year’s fourth “party of the year” features DJ Duo with KimKat (Kim Lee and Kat Nova), Australian pop star Timomatic, the Philippines’ Nicole Arsenio, local cult favorite UrbanDub, and hip-hop DJ and drummer duo Motherbass and DJ Jessica Milner.

Photos by @raffypekson







Back in Bacolod City for the Business Marketing and Social Media Summit

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The last time I was in Bacolod was August last year when I was privileged to speak at the first Social Media Summit held at Avenue Suites. Before that, I was last here in 2006 when I helped set up one of the first medium-sized call centers, iSolutions Outsource Asia Inc. or I/O Asia for short, long before TeleTech and Teleperformance went live.

It’s good to be back.

JMB Events Management, owned and operated by Bing Montinola, is spearheading this unique public seminar which will be held tomorrow, January 18, 2014, at Metro Inn hotel. Speaking with me are Myra Sandico of PMCM Events Management, Australian entrepreneur and online marketer Khoa Bui and the country’s most prominent e-commerce and online marketing advocate, Janette Toral.

In last years first social media summit, I spoke about redefining and preparing yourself before engaging the digital world, particularly in social media. Half of my presentation was about my experience in using social media and blogging as a means to pursue both for-profit ventures and even charity endeavors.

For tomorrow, I’ll touch upon a few slides from last year but this time providing a not-so-secret strategy to pursue ditigal marketing for business in the Philippines. I’ll show proof that the Filipino has already been social media fanatics yet most organizations still think quite the opposite. The assumption is already so untrue that not many know the Philippines is now hailed as the “social media capital of the world.” So, why in the world do many businesses still think social media is a waste of time and resources?


Metro Inn Hotel in Bacolod City, the site of the second Social Media Summit.

But while in Bacolod City, I’ll be talking to Bing of JMB Events Management to plan the upcoming Bacolod event of November’s successful public seminar, “Work At Home ‘Pinas, The Seminar,” which was organized by the Philippine Bloggers Network (PB Network or PBNet). This seminar is an advocacy of PBNet which it aims to educate people of all ages seriously thinking of working from home but have no idea how to do it. Last November, PBNet held it in Quezon City. On February this year, it is going run one in the City of Las Piñas of southern Metro Manila. March would be a good month to hold it in Bacolod City. The rest of the next six months will be held in the northern and southern provinces of Luzon island.

Here’s to a successful summit tomorrow.

Photo of Metro Inn and GT Hotel from respective Facebook accounts.

Other photos and images by PMCM Events, JMB Events and @raffypekson.


PLDT Installs Bohol-Cebu-Cagayan de Oro Fiber Cable System

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A P400 million fiber optic submarine cable system has been installed by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), linking the islands of Bohol with its network in the Visayas and Mindanao region. The cities linked together by this massive undertaking are Mactan in Cebu, Loon in Bohol and Kinoguitan in Misamis Oriental. These links connect to PLDT’s fiber optic networks in Jones, Cebu and Cagayan De Oro.

This news comes as a boon to the entire outsourcing industry in the Philippines which relies on fast and reliable data networks in the country. With this upgrade, the earthquake-hit province of Bohol will definitely get a boost in foreign outsourcing locators who may want to set up in the region. Also benefiting from the new telecommunications infrastructure are the tourism and enterprise ICT needs of small, medium (SME) and large companies.

The completion of this 150-kilometer submarine cable system has been the buzz of the information technology (IT) and outsourcing industries since it’s announcement by PLDT President and Chief Executive Officer Napoleon L. Nazareno. Every major broadsheet and online news sites, including foreign ones, have been reporting this announcement.

Sources: World News | Business World | TelecomPaper

Photo by MGM at


New York Broadway, Off-Broadway Singers Perform for Yolanda Victims

leave a comment », the website of the monthly U.S. magazine for theatergoers, reports that a concert-event will be held on January 20, 2014, 9:00pm at Stage 72, the Triad in New York City. Entitled “An Evening of Music and Comedy: Disaster Relief for the Philippines,” the show will include performances from Broadway and Off-Broadway singers and New York City based comedians to raise awareness and much needed funds for the relief effort in the Philippines caused by typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda.

Performers include singers Erik Liberman (Lovemusik), J. Bernard Calloway (Memphis), Melissa Van Pelt, Vanessa Dawson, Steven M. Goldsmith, Chris Critelli, Eliza Hayes Maher, Alia Bisharat and The Manhattan Dolls and comedians Rick Younger, Chris Griggs, Aaron Friedman and Carrie Gravenson.

The show is produced by Vanessa Dawson and hosted by Chelsea Piers. Proceeds will benefit The Red Cross, and a live auction will be held at intermission.


Photo by Martin Dürrschnabel at


Maryland Sixth Graders Raise Funds for Yolanda or Haiyan Victims

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It started with Kirsten Solloway, a 12-year old student of Elkridge Landing Middle School in Elkridge, Maryland. Having a Filipino as a stepfather, she learned of the devastation brought about by tyhpoon Haiyan or Yolanda in the Philippines and felt a personal connection to the tragedy. Together with her classmate and friend, Ryleigh Justice, they started a fund-raising drive last month by placing thirty decorated jars all around the school.

They raised more than $1,000 in 18 days which they donated to the American Red Cross.

That started the ball rolling as classrooms in the school competed with each other. Eventually, the school itself got involved and raised another $1,000.

Read entire story at Elkridge Patch.

Photo from Elkridge Landing Middle School.


Amazon Web Services Launches Manila Edge Location

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of remote computing services that together make up a cloud computing platform, offered over the Internet by The most central and well-known of these services are Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3.

Recently, Amazon announced the creation of three new edge locations, including one in Manila, Philippines. Edge locations improve the performance and availability for end users of AWS customer applications being served by Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53 and bring the total number of AWS edge locations to 49 worldwide. Three other edge locations in the region are Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.

Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery web service. It integrates with other Amazon Web Services to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments. Amazon CloudFront can be used to deliver an entire website, including dynamic, static, streaming, and interactive content using a global network of edge locations. Requests for content are automatically routed to the nearest edge location, so content is delivered with the best possible performance.

The new locations support all of the Amazon CloudFront functionality including acceleration of static, dynamic and interactive content, live and on-demand streaming media, and custom SSL certificates. They also support all Amazon Route 53 functionality including health checks, DNS failover, and latency-based routing.

Source: Amazon Web Services 1 | 2

Photo by @raffypekson


Government Green Lights Hydro, Wind Power Plants for 2014

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Hydro-electric plant in Kalayaan, Laguna

The Philippine government issues the green light for several proposed power plants in 2014 as part of larger efforts to become 100 per cent powered by renewables within a decade. Some of the projects are located in nearby provinces outside Metro Manila, with three in Rodriguez City (Sitio Wawa, San Isidro and San Jose), one in San Mateo, two in Marikina City (Tumana and Nangka 4) and two in Antipolo City (Hinulugang Taktak and Nangka 1).

Hydroelectric power remains the most attractive renewable energy investment in the Philippines as eight new mini hydro projects gain approval for construction this year. Hydrotec Renewables, for example, is investing US$53 to US$62 million on a combined 25-30 MW projects, to be completed by 2016.

The Philippines is already one of the world’s leaders in renewable energy, with a third of its primary energy source coming from renewables. According to Department of Energy (DOE) data, hydropower – with a total capacity of 5,468MW – will contribute the most amount of renewable energy in the country. Out of this, 2,950MW are still in the pipeline.

Read entire story at

Photo by Ramon FVelasquez at