Friday, December 15, 2017

Ang Larawan gets a unanimous “A” from the Cinema Evaluation Board

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"Ang Larawan,” the lone musical entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, has gotten a grade of “A” from the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB).

The team of Ang Larawan. First row (seated), L-R: cast members Aicelle Santos, Rachel Alejandro, Paulo Avelino and Cris Villonco. Second row (seated), L-R: executive producer Girlie Rodis, executive producer Celeste Legaspi, and cast members Nanette Inventor, Dulce, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Cara Manglapus. Third row (standing): producer Alemberg Ang, composer Ryan Cayabyab, actor Bernardo Bernardo, director Loy Arcenas and actor Rayver Cruz.

The musical written by National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio and composed by Ryan Cayabyab is the only film this year wherein all CEB eleven members who previewed gave the highest grade. The CEB summation stated, “It is seldom and rare that the members of the Board give a unanimous A to a film.“

Based on the play A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin, “Ang Larawan” tells of how financially troubled Marasigan sisters Candida and Paula hold on to their father’s masterpiece in spite of great interest and attractive offers from potential buyers.

West End star Joanna Ampil plays Candida while multi-awarded pop singer/host and entrepreneur Rachel Alejandro portrays Paula. Urian Best Actor Paulo Avelino takes the role of Tony Javier, the boarder who is persuading the sisters to sell the painting to an American buyer.

The rest of the cast features a stellar ensemble composed of OPM stalwarts Celeste Legaspi, Dulce, and Nanette Inventor; stage and film luminaries Robert Arevalo, Nonie Buencamino, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Noel Trinidad, Jaime Fabregas, Leo Rialp and Bernardo Bernardo; and young stars Aicelle Santos, Cris Villonco, Cara Manglapus, Jojit Lorenzo and Rayver Cruz. OPM icons Ogie Alcasid and Zsa Zsa Padilla have very special roles.

Culturtain Musicat Productions is the production outfit behind this film directed by Loy Arcenas.

The CEB praised the various aspects of production with one member citing that the movie is “enthralling, captivating and beautifully helmed!” The board described the performances by the leads and supports as “excellent.” Another member reiterated that, “’Larawan’ is a brilliant, fabulous production with great acting and excellent technical elements.”

As soon as CEB grade was released, the filmmakers took to social media to express their gratitude and joy. “Wow! What a blessing!” said Rachel Alejandro; while Celeste Legaspi declared, “Very proud!”  Joanna, who is touring as part of the international production of “Cats,” wrote on Facebook, “All the hard work is paying off.”
“Ang Larawan” is Joanna’s first starring role in a film and she began preparing for it way back in 2014.

The CEB recognition is the latest of a string of accolades that “Ang Larawan” has been receiving ever since its world premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival last October. Variety’s Richard Kuipers said, “This musical adaptation of a beloved Filipino play is a class act.” Local press and writers who have watched the film at an advanced preview are predicting “Ang Larawan” will be embraced by music-loving moviegoers and will be a strong contender for MMFF awards.

The film has also gotten endorsements from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Senator Bam Aquino, Congresswoman Pia Cayetano, and Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas.

Noting that “Ang Larawan” is a period movie, not a formula film, and that the musical genre remains untested, the CEB commended Culturtain Musicat Productions for taking a risk. “So, kudos, congrats, and thanks to the brave, intrepid band of producers and their fearless funders for this film. May their tribe increase and may this movie reach as wide an audience as possible.” Furthermore, the CEB made a clear call to the moviegoers “to see this film and spread the good word: go out and see Filipino films!”

For updates and information, check out and

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Slow Down in the Heart of the City at The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel

11:03:00 AM 0 Comments
Nothing beats a nice relaxing weekend after a tiring week of the usual home – office – home routine!
Ready to slow down for the weekend! :D
With the very busy streets and people in office attire walking around in Ortigas Center, enter The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel, which stands silently besides its busy office building neighbors. It was quite a pleasant surprise that in the middle of the central business district, one can actually slow down and relax.
The view from our room.

The view from our floor (daytime)
The view from our floor (night time) - Photo by The Hubby
The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel houses different types of accommodation that suits your needs. There’s Deluxe Classic (25-27sqm), Deluxe Premium (25-27sqm), Premier Room (29-35sqm) where there’s a choice of 1 queen-sized bed or 2 twin beds and the Suite (64.5-68.5sqm) with a Master’s Bedroom (1 queen-sized bed) and Guest Room (1 double bed).
Deluxe Classic Room
Deluxe Twin Room - Photo from The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel

Suite (Dining Area) - Photo from The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel

Suite Guest Room - Photo from The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel

Suite Master's Room - Photo from The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel

Suite Receiving Area - Photo from The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel
For our weekend stay, my family had the Premier Room, which is spacious, cozy and stylish. It has all the basics of a good hotel: complimentary bottled water, individually controlled air-conditioning, in-room safe, intercom, refrigerator, hair dryer, bathroom slippers, iron, ironing board and more to discover!
Our bed - Photo by The Hubby
I love this bookshelf! - Photo by The Hubby
Upon entering our room for the weekend, The Little Dumpling (TLD) got a little too excited and quickly laid down on the bed. Since the sheets smell so good like therapeutic in a way and the beddings are soft, it's time to relax! The pillows were plump enough to hold our heads up and seduce us to sleep.  Even if it was lunchtime and TLD was definitely hungry, she said that she wanted to stay and sleep.

Usually the Premier Room has only 1 queen-sized bed but since we’re 3 in the family, we had an extra bed for TLD to enjoy. Actually, the 3 of us can fit in a queen-sized bed but we just wanted additional comfort which the hotel provided.
Our beds - Photo by The Hubby
Inside the room is a kitchenette, which adds convenience for families with babies, or toddlers who can get hungry easily. So there’s a place to prepare something light and yummy for the little ones. There are also pots, pans, plates, bowls and other utensils that are already cleaned.
The kitchenette, cabinets and bathroom - Photo by The Hubby
Another angle of the kitchenette with utensils. There's even an exhaust! - Photo by The Hubby
There’s a rice cooker and also a table for 2 in case you’d like to cook up and enjoy a full meal inside the room.

Muffins from The Exchange Regency Residences Hotel. Thank you for the warm welcome!
Even if I was invited to stay at The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel, it was really sweet of them to give me these delightful pastries from Tully’s (which was located in the Ground Level of the hotel). TLD quickly got the chocolate muffin (she loves chocolate!) that she was able to finish on her own. Yes, she really didn’t want to leave the room so she said she’s eating the muffin instead of going out for a meal. Haha!☺
The yummy muffins!
TLD enjoying her muffin.
The bathroom is clean and roomy with all the toiletries you need: shampoo, soap, toothbrush, shaver, lotion and even a small hand soap which is a big plus!

The position of the TV is exceptional! You can move it to face the kitchenette, dining area or the bed depending on where you are. So be ready to wear your bathrobe, enjoy a meal on the heavenly bed and watch your favorite TV show!
Photo by The Hubby
Eating with TLD on our heavenly bed. - Photo by The Hubby 
Photo by The Hubby

You can also enjoy the “lazy” feeling where you’ll just lie down on bed and snooze, go online (there’s free wifi internet inside the room) or just sipping tea (or coffee which are part of the complimentary in-room amenities).

I love how the colors of green and blue hues on the 3rd level where the hotel facilities are located give a feeling of relaxation and make you forget about all the stress of the week. It’s like the environment was talking to me that this is the quality time for me, my hubby and TLD. There’s an adult and kiddie pool, sauna, jacuzzi, gym, children’s play area, mini golf and a game room where you can hang out and enjoy. All we have to do is take off our shoes, choose which activities to do or just putting our feet up to enjoy being idle.
The jacuzzi
By the pool side relaxing 

Doesn't this look relaxing?
Won't you like to take a dip too?
The view when you're relaxing by the pool and looking up. Love the shapes and patterns.
Children's Play Area

Game Room


In the swimming pool, my hubby had the chance to meet a French girl who was here on vacation to see her boyfriend. Since I find her really beautiful and I’m not confident enough to have my photos by the pool taken (I’m quite chunky). I asked my hubby to take her photos to share on my blog and showcase how nice the pool is. I’m really glad that she was nice enough to let us have her photos taken. 
Photo by The Hubby
On the 2nd level of the hotel, there’s a fitness and development center for kids called The Little Gym where TLD had so much fun.
TLD doing the monkey bar - Photo by The Hubby
Part of the stay was a buffet breakfast at one of the restaurants located at the Ground Level of the hotel called “Cuisine by Chef & Brewer” which offers a sumptuous breakfast to jumpstart your day. During my stay, the buffet spread includes white & garlic rice, scrambled eggs, roast pork, salad station, bread station with butter and jam, cereal station, fish fingers, assemble-your-own arroz caldo and pancakes. The drinks, like milk, juices and coffee, were also included.
Breakfast essentials - Bread ✔Coffee ✔Eggs

I actually had salad!

Arroz Caldo
The servers were really nice and attentive to what we need even if it’s a buffet set up. According to the server, the restaurant just opened in August and serves buffet breakfast everyday from 6am-10am. For non-hotel guests, it’s just P350 per person to enjoy this glorious spread! It’s actually quite a good deal for those who work in the Ortigas area.

The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel also offers a Serviced Apartment Package (with a minimum of 3-month stay) for expats or those coming over from the provinces for long term stay which I believe is a lot better and cheaper too than renting a condo. Imagine no monthly dues (residents can use the amenities at the 3rd level), no electricity and water dues (until 400kwh and 5 cu.m. monthly), free wifi, telephone, cable TV and housekeeping (once a week change of linens and twice a week scheduled cleaning). According to their flyer, monthly rent starts at P47,250 as compared to condos with total dues starting at P55,300 which monthly rent is just a part of.
Al fresco area for chit chat at the 3rd level.

Take advantage of slowing down and spoiling your family this upcoming Halloween or ASEAN holidays! Visit The Exchange Regency Residence Hotel at Exchange Road cor. Meralco Ave. Ortigas Center, Pasig City. 1605 Philippines. For reservations, you may email or call (632)312-9999 / (632)312-9998. 

For more details of the hotel, visit their website The hotel is managed by Hospitality Innovators Inc., which manages Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, Y2 Residence Hotel and more. You can find out more about them at

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Applebee's Grill and Bar Philippines Launches An Exciting New Menu

9:19:00 AM 0 Comments
With more than 2,000 locations in 49 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and 15 countries all over the world, Applebee's is one of the world's largest casual dining restaurant. In the Philippines, Applebee's can be found in Bonifacio Global City and Eastwood City.

According to Chef Aldrin Ortile, the new dishes for Applebee's Philippines are a combination of Applebee's USA recipes and original creations which they have developed locally.

The new appetizers are good with Engkanto Beer which is a new partner of Applebee's Philippines. Delight in pairing the beer with Fried Sweet and Spicy Pickles, Bacon Jalapeño Potato Croquettes and Calamari.
Fried Sweet and Spicy Pickles
Bacon Jalapeño Croquettes
It's crispy outside but soft warm and juicy inside. The taste of bacon is absorbed by the potato which makes it very aromatic. There's a hint of jalapeño sourness but doesn't give much heat.
These yummy rings are placed on a bed of crispy fried shredded wanton wrappers. The breading of the calamari is very tasty as the breading is equally divided on all sides. The wanton wrappers gives an extra crispness to the dish when you eat them together. My 2-year-old daughter loves this dish and kept eating it without the dip because it's that flavorful!
The Grilled Watermelon and Spicy Shrimp Salad with fresh greens, cucumbers, feta cheese, toasted almonds, spicy grilled shrimp and grilled watermelon cubes in a creamy mint yoghurt dressing is not only a colorful and unique concept but reminds one of the upcoming holidays with green and red as its primary color palette. Somehow, it tells me to remember to eat healthy (the greens) before I gain any holiday weight soon. ;P
Grilled Watermelon and Spicy Shrimp Salad
For those who have been reading my posts would know that salmon is my favorite fish. Not only because of its uniquely pink color but its naturally sweet flavor is enough to get me hooked. Thus, the new Teriyaki Balsamic Glazed Salmon was an exciting entree to try.
Teriyaki Balsamic Glazed Salmon
The salmon is just seasoned right, soft and flaky. The green beans despite being fried are moist and retains their original texture. The rice that comes together with it is a bit on the sweeter side with notes of tomatoes and there's also bits of corn in it.
The beautiful Triple Meat All-in Burger which has USDA beef burger patty, double smoked bacon, shredded beef brisket, cheddar cheese and honey BBQ sauce in a brioche bun seems to be a crowd favorite during the launch. The rich flavor of all the meat put together will magnetize you to bite into it more and more until you finish the burger and feel that you'd like more.
Triple Meat All-in Burger
For the original Philippine creations, I absolutely love the Pork Liempo Adobo which has soft melt in your mouth sweet, salty and tangy pork belly grilled to perfection topped with crispy fried onions and with a side of warm rice. The wonderful, wonderful piece of meat works so well with the onions and rice that a whole plate is never enough.
Pork Liempo Adobo
The Fiesta BBQ Pork Liempo is on the sweeter side with its marinade of Asian BBQ sauce. The tortilla strips underneath makes the plate looks festive as Applebee's recommends its guests to #celebrateeverything because milestones are really meant to be celebrated and shared with loved ones.
Fiesta BBQ Pork Liempo
Finding that perfect blend of sweet and spicy, this dish is for you! The Firecracker Shrimp which is Cavatappi pasta covered with a rich Sriracha Parmesan Cream Sauce with breaded shrimp and vegetable relish. This is my favorite from all the newly launched dishes which I've tried so try this too, ok? :D
Firecracker Shrimp
Banoffee lovers unite! Applebee's now offers Banoffee Cheesecake which is composed of toffee cheesecake on a coffee graham cracker crust drizzles with dulce de leche, hot fudge sauces and topped with banana chips.
Banoffee Cheesecake
Another dessert to look forward to is their Smores Creme Brulee with is so heavenly! Imagine the sugar glazed chocolate flan (creme brulee) topped with banoffee crumble and toasted marshmallows that complements each other in every scoop. It's so good that I wanted to lick my bowl after eating it but was too shy to do it. :D
Smores Creme Brulee
Happiness is being able to eat good food, agree? If you do, go ahead and enjoy the new offerings of Applebee's! Below are other dishes which I wasn't able to try because I was too full but looks so good to eat. ;)
BBQ Beef Brisket Tacos
Spinach Artichoke and Grill Chicken Cavatappi
For updates on Applebee's Grill and Bar Philippines, you may go to their Facebook page or follow them on Instagram @applebeesph.
Grilling Pork Belly
All photos of this blog were taken by Johan Sy of Studiyo.💛
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