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Posts Tagged ‘Bonifacio Global City

Globe Gives Away Free SIM Cards to All Foreign Tourists and OFWs

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Globe Telecom, in partnership with Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, announced today to give away free SIM cards to all foreign tourists and Overseas Contract Workers (OFW) visiting or coming back to the country, respectively. Starting tomorrow, July 30, 2015, Globe will start issuing the free SIM cards to incoming foreign tourists and OFWs through its booths inside the airports of NAIA, Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Iloilo, and Clark. Tourists can present their non-Philippine passports or foreign resident cards, while OFWs can show their Seaman’s book or OFW E-card. This free SIM cards promo will end on December 31, 2015.

So, how many free SIM cards is that going to be? Roughly about 2.23 million!

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is the marketing arm of the Philippine’s Department of Tourism (DOT). The board was tasked to promote the Philippines as the top tourist destination in Asia through its “Visit the Philippines Year 2015” tourism campaign, with a goal of garnering 5.5 million foreign tourists arriving in the Philippines. With this goal, it has partnered with Globe Telecom, the first telecommunications company it has done so, through the International Business Group of the telecom giant to offer various services to the millions of tourists visiting the Philippines, and for the OFWs returning home. The two entities conducted the formal contract signing at the Aracama in the Fort Strip of Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City this morning in front of a backdrop that said:

Staying Connected – More Fun in the Philippines.

Buffet lunch at Aracama was served with the main course being three kinds of lechon: Original lechon, Spanish lechon and Truffle lechon. Of course, I tried all three and concluded the Spanish style was the best tasting one. Kudos to Chef Fernando Aracama for this kind of gastronomic treat!

After lunch, Tracy Abad opened the event by describing who the two entities were and a description of the partnership that was about to happen. However, I was still curious if what they were going to announce was a smartphone app, a website or something else. Tracy Abad is currently the morning show host for Mellow 94.7, a Philippine FM radio station. She was the TV show host with the now-discontinued QTV of GMA Network.

Opening remarks were delivered by the representing officers of both entities. First on the stage was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of TPB Domingo Ramon Enerio III who gave a synapse of inbound tourism in the country.

Summarizing what he said, there were a total of 2.23 million tourists who arrived in the Philippines between January and May this year, an 8.15% leap compared to last year of the same period. The average stay of a tourist in the country is 10 nights and the average tourist spends more than $100 a day. That’s a whooping 93.9 billion Pesos in tourism earnings for the first five months of 2015.

I did some Google-ing (is there such a word?) and found out that between 1991 and 2015, the highest recorded foreign arrivals in the country was December last year at 487,654 tourists while the lowest recorded foreign arrivals was February of 1991 at 63,628. Also during the event, Enerio enumerated the top 10 countries for incoming foreign tourists come from, mainly:

  1. Korea
  2. USA
  3. Japan
  4. China
  5. Australia
  6. Singapore
  7. Canada
  8. Taiwan
  9. UK
  10. Malaysia

But another Google-ing led me to and the top spending markets based on visitor earnings were not the same. The top three countries in the government website was the same but the 4th highest was listed as Australia, not China which was in 5th place. Then, it was more different for the 6th to 9th place, namely: (6) Canada, (7) UK, (8) Singapore, and (9) Spain. Taiwan was missing from the website’s top 10 list. Okay, maybe I’m reading the stats on the website differently.

After Enerio, the Senior Vice President for International Business of Globe Telecom Rizza Maniego-Eala entered the stage and spoke of the need to help the promotions board hit their 5.5 million tourist target, and Globe’s role to do so. This is when she announced their intent to give away free SIM cards to every incoming foreign tourist and OFW – the first campaign in a series of more campaigns to come.

Called the Globe Traveler SIM, it is a local prepaid SIM card that offers the same services as every prepaid customer of Globe enjoys – local rates for calls, text messaging, and mobile internet services, giving foreign tourists and OFWs a more cost-efficient way to communicate and connect rather than using an international number which charges expensive roaming rates for calling, text messaging and internet browsing while in the Philippines. For example, they can use the Globe Traveler SIM and call the U.S. for as low as $0.40 per minute. That’s low compared to high roaming charges – for example, AT&T would bill an American $2.50 per minute to call from the Philippines to anywhere in the world, including home country USA.

Eala adds, “We are happy to be the first telco partner of the Tourism Promotions Board in their thrust to make the Philippines the ultimate destination hub for tourists worldwide. Offering free SIMs is our way of helping travelers further enjoy their stay by enabling easy, affordable and hassle-free communications.”

A question-and-answer portion followed for people in media and guests to ask for more information about the partnership. Then, a table was set where both Enerio and Eala sat down to formally sign the partnership contracts while everyone witnessed, video-taped and snapped photos of the moment.

For more information on the FREE Globe Traveler SIM, please visit the Globe Traveler SIM website. For jetsetters, backpackers, and thrill-seekers, Visit the Philippines Year 2015 provides a year-round calendar guide for all adventures, whether it be food trips, walking tours, or festivals. For information on activities and events, please log on to

Sources and references of text: Globe Press Release | | AT&T

Photos and images: Globe Press Release | | @raffypekson #capturebyKata


Written by Raffy Pekson II

July 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Government & Politics, ICT, Travel & Tourism

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MiniPhilippines Introduces the New MINI by MINI Philippines

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Now, that’s a lot of minis!

Friends in the digital media world kid me aside that I should sell my MiniPhilippines domain name to MINI Philippines, even just for an entry-level MINI which costs only P2.1 million. I quipped I’d be happy with that. Who knows?

But that’s not the story here. It’s about MINI Cooper, the car.

Driving in a MINI Cooper S to the MINI Global City showroom

Driving to the MINI showroom

The Philippine Bloggers Network was invited to an early announcement of “The New MINI.” But there was no fan fair, no bells and whistles, no glitz and glamour, and no celebrity hosts. It was just cocktails and dinner with good food at Vyne, Hyve’s boutique restaurant and gastropub in the heart of Bonifacio Global City, light banter with the management team of MINI Philippines (Owee Cruz, Mae Valdez, Richard Alarcon, Ryan Watson, Willy Tee Ten and Mike Chua), a few photo ops and a quick drive to MINI Philippines’ BGC showroom in a Cooper S (or was it a Paceman?) That was Monday.

The hush-hush secret before today (and today is Wednesday) is the unveiling of the new generation MINI. Okay, I know some of you (like most of us) only know the MINI because of its popularity in “The Italian Job.” I only know the MINI because of Charlize Therone. Okay, now I’m kidding. But yes, Mark Wahlberg and his Ocean’s six team all drove MINI Coopers (actually, only the red MINI was a Cooper S; the others were Coopers) in that remake heist film which was also the highest-grossing film produced by Paramount in 2003. The classic MINI made a cameo appearance driven by Charlize. Ayayay!

Raffy Pekson inside one of the MINI Cooper at the MINI Global City showroom

At the showroom showing off in a MINI Cooper


Mini (styled MINI) is both the name of a subsidiary of BMW, and a car produced by that subsidiary since 2001. The car is marketed as a “retro” redesign of the original Mini, and manufactured in Cowley, Oxford, United Kingdom, in what was historically the Morris car plant.

The MINI (yes, that name stays all-caps for the official styled branding) is now a subsidiary of BMW and the car is marketed as a retro design of the original Mini and manufactured in the old Morris car plant. Morris and Austin were the two manufacturers of the first Mini cars. For the curious history buff, BMW actually made a curious decision to buy Britain’s beleaguered Rover Group in 1994. Things didn’t pan out that well and in 2000 BMW decided to dump all of the Rover’s brands except one: Mini. The rest is history.

MINI Cooper cabin showing off the front panel from the passenger's view

The new design of the spacious interior of a MINI Cooper

Going back to MINI Philippines, the new kid in town is the souped up version of the popular old version of the MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S, to wit:

  • MINI Twin Power turbo technology engine
  • BMW patented Valvetronic variable valve control system
  • Better driving performance
  • Improved fuel consumption and reduced emission levels as much as 27 percent from predecessor versions
  • Enhanced six-speed dynamics
  • New automatic engine start/stop function – now this is something to reckon for!
  • Optimized weight and aerodynamic drag
  • Brake energy recuperation
  • Energy-efficient electromechanical power steering
  • Active cooling air flaps
  • Extensive underbody trim
  • Optimized suspension technology
  • New driving modes in mid, sport or green mode
  • Better ambient lighting
  • Improved LED center displays
  • Debut of Dynamic Damper Control
  • Bigger exterior proportions for better agility and ride comfort
  • Innovative driver assistance systems like the new MINI Heads-Up-Display
  • Camera-based cruise control and distance control function
  • Collision and pedestrian warning system with initial brake function

The Philippine Bloggers Network with the management team of MINI Philippines

There is a host underlying detailed descriptions and adjacent addenda to each of items I listed above. Each one of us have our own pet peeves when it comes to cars, much less this retro-styled subcompact car that’s better than your average subcompact. The United States automobile ranking system scores the 2014 MINI Cooper as:

  • Affordable Small Cars (#17)
  • Affordable Subcompact Cars (#8)
  • Hatchbacks (#17)
  • Affordable Convertibles (#4 but it hasn’t been introduced in the Philippines… yet!)

The all-new 2014 MINI Cooper is said to have a good nimble handling that makes it a lot of fun to drive. The cabin is as classy as a BMW in a subcompact environment.



Standard Features:

Servotronic, 15” light alloy wheels Heli Spoke silver, Roof and mirror caps white,  Floor Mats in Velour,  Warning Triangle, Height adjustment for front passenger speed, Storage compartment package,  Colour Line Carbon Black, Interior Surfaces Hazy Grey, MINI Excitement Package, Fog lights, Rain Sensor, Automatic Airconditioning, Speedometer with kilometer reading, On board computer,  Lights package, Rear Fog light,  Bluetooth Handsfree Interface,  White Turn Indicators, Pepper Package, Cloth Firework upholstery.

Retail Price (incl. VAT): Php 2,100,000


Standard Features:

Servotronic, Multifunction for Steering Wheel, 17” light alloy wheels Tentacle spoke Silver, Sport Automatic transmission, Performance Control, Leather steering Wheel, Bonnet stripes, Floor mats in Velour, Warning Triangle, Height adjustment for front passenger seat, Sport seats for driver and passenger, Storage compartment Package, Color Line Carbon Black, Interior Surfaces Black Checkered, MINI Excitement Package, MINI Driving modes, Rain Sensor, Automatic Air conditioning, Cruise Control with breaking function, Speedometer with Kilometer reading, On board computer, Lights Package, LED Fog lights, LED Headlights, Rear Fog light, Radio MINI Visual Boost, MINI Connected, White Turn Indicators, Chilli Package, Cloth/Leather combination Diamond.

Retail Price (incl. VAT): P2,600,000

Note the following terms and conditions:

  • Warranty coverage: 2 years unlimited mileage.
  • Price is subject to confirmation upon order.
  • Does not include LTO registration (Php 15,000) and motor vehicle insurance.
  • Price and specifications are subject to change without prior notice

So, is it a good deal or what? Come by the MINI Philippines showroom at the corner of 5th Avenue and 26th Street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City now and experience the pleasure of driving home a great subcompact yet very stylish car.

And who says it’s only got to be an Italian Job?

British United Automobiles, Inc.
5th Ave. and 26th St., Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City 1634

Photos by MINI Philippines | Ted Claudio | @raffypekson


Written by Raffy Pekson II

June 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Transportation

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Finding The Perfect Pint in Manila

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How you see The Perfect Pint inside and out.

There’s a new kid in town and his name is “The Perfect Pint.”

I tagged along with my friends, together with bloggers and media people, to attend the official opening and inauguration of a new gastro pub in Bonifacio Global City, today’s gotta-be-there place in a new wave of bars, clubs, diners and restaurants sweeping the skyscraper residents. We were there on time, which means we were too early. LOL!

This new bar and restaurant (my old school term) is the brainchild of a band of brothers, namely Alec, Noel Jr. and Raymond Tempongko whose intent is to get the dining and beer-drinking world of Metro Manila to savor handcrafted beer. But it does not stop there. Much like wine is paired with different types of food, so then did the brothers decide to have “craft beer” paired with a variety of food. For this, they brought in Chef Gene Gonzalez, made famous for bringing us the iconic Café Ysabel.

Chef Gene meticulously paired one type of food that goes with each of the craft beers The Perfect Pint is offering. Some of the mouth- watering pairings include Truffle Fries with Czech Weizen, Kapal Muks with Pale Ale, Liver-wrapped Bacon with Dark lager, Smoked Angus Tapa with Egg with Pale Ale and Stinky Pizza with Weizen. Even their dessert, freshly-baked caramel smores are paired with dark pilsen. And Chef Gene not only set up their kitchen but made sure to personally be involved in hiring the chefs and assistants. Everyone from the two shifts were there on opening day.

L-R: Me and Chef Gene Gonzalez, my chef idol from the time he set up Cafe Ysabel.

My favorites were the Truffle Fries, Liver-wrapped Bacon and Stinky Pizza. Oh, boy! The pizza is a five-cheese-layered pizza for all slices! I mean, many of us are served a four-cheese pizza but divided into two slices per cheese flavour. This one’s all of them! And this one’s a must try with the Weizen beer, of course.

This 5-cheese pizza is undeniably the best cheese pizza ever. And paired with beer? OMG!

Going back to the craft beer, I asked Noel what the difference was with craft beer and micro-brewed beer, the latter of which was also the rave a decade or so ago but curiously disappeared only after a few years. For one, craft beer is handmade while micro-brewing is done by a machine. So, there’s probably the love and passion of a person brewing the beer, coupled with the human judgment call when and if the brew is at its perfection.

The Perfect Pint will not serve local commercial beer you usually buy in convenience stores. Instead, it will only offer craft beer, mostly of which are brewed locally by Filipino-owned independent breweries. Local beers from Katipunan Craft Ales, Craftpoint Brewing Company, Pivo Praha Corporation, G Point and Fat Pauly’s will be available on tap and bottles.

None of the usual, local beer bottles you buy in convenience stores are sold here. Only handcrafted beer.

Beer Pairing. I mean many of us are beer drinkers rather than wine connoisseurs, and today is your lucky day to have beer and food paired together without the snobbish ambiance from wine drinkers. Just kidding! I saw about four or five large screen televisions hanging in all corners of the place, which can probably mean a place to watch live sports telecasts while pairing craft beer with food and shouting Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!

Oh, by the way, The Perfect Pint is giving away 10 percent discounts to weekday lunch patrons up until May 31 this year.

Here are more photos…

L-R: Me and one of the three brothers who owns The Perfect Pint, Noel Tempongko Jr.


The inside of The Perfect Pint. It’s letter-U shaped with a bar in the middle.


Table setting and the menu on a clipboard as we arrived on time and too early.


I was trying to get photos of the bar but this girl was in the way. Heck! I decided to take her photo, too. LOL!


The many things you’ll see and crave for at The Perfect Pint.


The Perfect Pint is located at the second floor of the Crossroads Building along 32nd Street in Bonifacio Global City. If you know where the stand-alone Starbucks with the drive thru is, then the building is right beside it, which also means MC Depot is right at its back. They are open seven days a week, from 11:00 AM up to 2:00 AM the following day.

Photos by @raffypekson and #PerfectPintPH


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,


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