Get to know Asia Pacific’s queens

THE long wait is over because after almost a decade, new queens have been hailed for Miss Asia Pacific International. The newly crowned queens were tasked with the goal of promoting the beauty and diversity of each of their countries. As the first leg of its journey, the beautiful winners graced the Queen City of the South with their presence to learn about its culture, people and appreciate its cuisine.

The competition having been founded in the year 1968 is the first and oldest beauty pageant in Asia. But in 2006, the competition came to a halt. Having just recently been rejuvenated, the competition is now seeing a stronger future after having chosen the beautiful mix of faces to represent it and forward its advocacy for the year 2017.

The grand relaunch was held last Nov. 23. During the event, Miss Netherlands Tessa Helena Le Conge was crowned as Miss Asia Pacific International 2016 and also bagged the award for Miss Friendship. Miss Thailand Chawanya Thanomwong won first runner-up and was hailed Best in Swimsuit. Miss Philippines Ganiel Akrisha Krishnan won second runner-up, while Miss Cook Islands Felicia George was hailed as third runner-up and bagged the awards for Miss Photogenic and Best in Talent. Miss Korea Soyeon Kim came in fourth and was also chosen as Miss Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. Only four of the winners were able to visit Cebu as Krishnan had to attend her thesis defense.

Miss Peru Ana Lucia Leiva won the People’s Choice Award.<a href=”″ target=”_blank”>MORE</a>

Kochi Prefecture, a must-visit destination in Japan

HAVING stayed in Shikoku Island, particularly Kochi Prefecture, for two weeks has given me the opportunity to explore the wonders of this business and leisure destination in Japan.


Shikoku is the smallest and least populated among the four main islands of Japan. It has four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi and Tokushima.

Despite its size, which is said to be at 18,800 square kilometers only, there is so much to enjoy in the area.(MORE )

SunStar streams live Simbang Gabi 2016

SUNSTAR website, at, will once again broadcast live this year’s Simbang Gabi, a nine-day series of dawn masses in preparation for Christmas, from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu City.

Filipinos in the Philippines and those outside the country can watch the live streaming from December 16 to 24 at 4:30 a.m.

There will also be simultaneous live streaming of 4 a.m. masses in some churches in Cebu, including Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church of El Pardo, Cebu City (December 16 and 19); St. Joseph The Worker Parish Church in Tabunok, Talisay City (December 17 and 23); Our Lady of the Rule Parish Church in B.M. Dimataga St., Lapu-Lapu City (December 20, 21 and 22); Sta. Teresa de Avila Parish in Talisay City (December 18); and Don Bosco Formation Center in Talisay City (December 24). (MORE)

Ibuki: an exquisite taste of Japan in Taiwan

JAPAN was on the travel list. It was the next destination after Taiwan. I was in Taipei but even before I set foot on Japanese soil, I was already feasting on its cuisine in a most delectable way at Ibuki, Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel’s Japanese restaurant.

“And this is Ibuki, our Japanese restaurant,” said Carloyn Lee, the hotel’s communications manager, to end the tour of the hotel, “This is where we are having a Teppanyaki lunch.”

“Ibuki by Takagi Kazuo is Taiwan’s first Japanese restaurant to operate in concordance with Michelin standards. The restaurant follows and practices the culinary concepts of Consultant Chef Takagi Kazuo, the owner and head chef of Takagi in Japan, a restaurant that has earned two Michelin stars since 2010, when the first Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and Nara version of the Michelin Guide was published.”

The chef specializes in Kyoto cuisine, thus Ibuki prides itself with “exquisite Kyoto cuisine with a Michelin-starred approach” and leading the culinary team in Taiwan is the former sous chef of Takagi, Kudo Masakazu.

JAPAN. The third course was this - prawn with all its parts cooked to be enjoyed. (Jinggoy I. Salvador)
JAPAN. The third course was this – prawn with all its parts cooked to be enjoyed. (Jinggoy I. Salvador)

Kyoto cuisine, Teppanyaki, Sushi, and Tempura are four styles of authentic Japanese cuisine that the restaurant places emphasis on to allow diners to enjoy a wide variety of delicacies prepared with a modern Kyoto touch.

The cuisine Ibuki promises may be first-rate but the restaurant is relaxed and the atmosphere, casual. It’s a place where an entire family can enjoy good food and good company.(MORE)

Google’s Year in Search: Pop culture, elections, and more

GOOGLE’S annual list of top trending searches reveals topics that uncover the moments that surprised, captivated, and moved Pinoys.

Filipinos’ love for pop culture is evident as this year’s overall top trending search term is “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber from his fourth album Purpose. Several Filipino artists did a cover of this song including James Reid and Kristel Fulgar, while YouTube creator Mikey Bustos did a parody of the song highlighting what courtship is like in the Philippines.

Following Bieber’s song are game applications and Pokémon Go on the second and third spots, respectively. Filipinos got hooked on catching pocket monsters in different areas of the country when Pokémon Go was made available in August.

Though Pokemon Go surpassed in terms of downloads, Filipinos got more curious about This multiplayer game has a touch of the classic snake game where the player needs to grow the snake by collecting gems and defeating other snakes.

Other pop culture terms earning a spot on the trending search list are the movies Train to Busan and Suicide Squad, as well as chart-toppers “Closer” by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey and “Secret Love Song” by Little Mix and Jason Derulo.(MORE)

Warsaw wandering

“WHEN in Rome, do as the Romans do,” goes the adage on following the customs of the land you’re in.
Well, they didn’t count on this Filipina touching down in Warsaw and doing whatever she wanted to do in Poland’s capital.

So on a spectacularly sunny day in June, when hatless visitors braved the sun’s piercing rays to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Pilsudski Square, I stood my ground as the only person in Warsaw to use an umbrella on a rainless day.


My sisters tried to increase their distance from me as we explored Warsaw’s largest square and the Saxon Garden behind it, where I was sorely tempted to use my umbrella to whack a pair of young lovers who could not take enough selfies in front of the garden. Wilting in the heat, I prayed that their ardor for each other would burn them up so they would disappear and I could finally have my turn to take photos.

Actually, we just chanced upon the garden and the monument to the unnamed soldiers who died for Poland, as we took a shortcut through the square to get to the Old Town (Stare Miasto) that our guide had taken us to earlier.(MORE)

OFW one-stop shops now in 11 regions

ELEVEN of the 18 regions of the Philippines now have their own One-Stop Service Center for OFWs (Ossco), according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

In a statement, the POEA said that aside from the one in its main office in Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City, there are 10 other Osscos that have opened since.

“Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may now avail [themselves] of the services of the One-Stop Service Center for OFWs in 10 provinces outside Metro Manila,” said the POEA.

The 10 Osscos are at the Baguio Convention Center, Baguio City (Cordillera Administrative Region); Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga (Central Luzon); Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) Regional Office 4A in Calamba City (Calabarzon); Robinson’s Place, Puerto Princesa City (Mimaropa); SM City, Cebu City (Central Visayas); Robinson’s Place, Iloilo City (Western Visayas); Dole Regional Office 8, Tacloban City (Eastern Visayas); Owwa Regional Office 9, Zamboanga City (Zamboanga Peninsula); Owwa Regional Office 10, Cagayan de Oro City (Northern Mindanao); and New City Hall, Koronadal City (Soccsksargen).(MORE)

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A quick tour inside the modern cave of Japan

HAVE you ever tried walking through the cave with steel stairs inside for convenience? How about going to the top of a hill via an escalator?



At Ryugado Cave of Kami, Kochi Prefecture in the Shikoku Island of Japan, you will experience all these things. Don’t get me wrong, though. Amid these modern facilities to reach different points of the cave, one can still enjoy the experience, especially with its natural beauty. (MORE)

No more tax on balikbayan boxes starting Dec. 25

THE Duterte administration has come up with the rules exempting balikbayan boxes from taxes to be effective on Christmas Day, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) concerning the consolidated balikbayan boxes will take effect on December 25 after the BOC and the Department of Finance (DOF) signed Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016.

CAO 05-2016 serves as the IRR on Section 800 (g) of the Customs and Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), and covers the sending of balikbayan boxes by Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) to their families and relatives. (MORE)

Filipino professor to be honored as distinguished business dean

A FILIPINO professor based in the United States is set to receive an international award on November 26 and 27 in Indonesia.

Dr. Joseph Mark Munoz, a Filipino professor of management and international business, will receive the 2016 Academy for Global Business Advancement (AGBA) Distinguished Business Dean recognition award at the Universitas Sebelas Maret in Surakarta Central Java, Indonesia.

Munoz described his success as “the best of what you can be to attain the highest quality of work.”
He became the interim dean of Tabor School of Business at Millikin University in the US on November 2, 2015 while the school is still looking for a permanent dean. (MORE)