Thursday, November 26, 2009


The Duchess of Dauin will soon become a rewarding discovery in the beach facing Apo Island. The Saturday fun with three amazing women Connie Padriga Belmar, Dina Buna and Hedi Block, the lady behind the Duchess, was unplanned but turned-out well and really fun. These ladies share one common experience, living abroad for so many years and like snowbirds, they come home to enjoy the Philippine sun. Our conversation first centered on Hedi’s line of business: incenses and scents. Passionately, she shared how her products are made and the events that featured them: aromatic oils for spa and interior cleansing, sticks with rose and lavender scents for concerts and more. We discussed the possibilities of our very own scents from Ilang-ilang, Champaca, Camia, Rosal and Sampaguita. Dina shared her amazement over a lemon grass oil sold in expensive bottles in Southern France. I shared how Malaysia made money from their discovery of Philippines’ Ilang-ilang and the lack of entrepreneurial vision of our Filipino producers. The conversation was pleasantly interrupted with Tita Connie calling our attention to the red moon.

The red moon rising ever the horizon signaled the time to make a decision, to stay overnight or go home for dinner. The red shades totally gone and the pearl-like moon made us stay. I started my evening serenade of songs from movie themes which ended with the 80’s hit, Michael Jackson’s “Someone In the Dark” – the theme song of the film “ET.” Tita Connie asked for more, I sang “Loveliest Night of the Year,” a Mario Lanza hit in the 50s. My bathroom singer voice had an instant audience, and I led them gradually to deep slumber under a starry sky.
Breakfast call came and it was a surprise when Tita Connie told us that our lady host is a boxing coach in tournaments abroad. At breakfast, Hedi gave us an instant boxing orientation. Hedi’s passion for sports is being put to work in Dauin with concrete steps toward building a boxing academy in Maayong Tubig, Dauin. The breakfast discussion on this well-love sports ushered in two unexpected rewards: a business idea and an analysis of the ultimate arena of the Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto boxing fight.
Hedi’s husband, Fred, was the president of the Yuma County Youth Boxing Association, Inc in the United States. In fact, Fred was in Las Vegas during the big fight. In Fred’s absence, we had one more consultant,Joe Clough, the former head trainer at the Tacoma Boys Club, an amateur boxing program in Tacoma, WA, USA. Amongst the outstanding fighters developed by Clough at the Tacoma Boys Club as amateurs were: Leo Randolph (World Champion, and Olympic Gold Medalist) , Rocky Lockridge (World Champion) , Johnny Bumphus (World Champion and National Amateur Champion) , Sugar Ray Seales (Olympic Gold Medalist) , Dale Grant (National Amateur Champion) and Davey Lee Armstrong (National Amateur Champion, Member of U.S. Olympic Team). Hedi and Joe LIVE! It was almost unbelievable that on this Maayong Tubig seaside, we had this close encounter with international boxing experts. Our corner that Sunday morning was certainly the best boxing viewing stand in all of the island.
What was Joe’s forecast of the Pinoy sports icon and did he guess it right? Pacquiao's long been defining his high-powered-punch: the uppercut. And this, according to Joe, would be The Pacman’s tool to outdo Cotto. And the indeed on the fourth round, Pacquiao capped what could had been his finisher for Cotto with a strong left uppercut and another set of seconds with another but Cotto was saved by the bell. Pacquiao survived his opponent’s jabs, and in a speed that destroyed whatever was the Cotto gameplan, the Pinoy hero after a successful right, and another left uppercut on round seven which had Cotto on ropes. Being in a neutral corner, Pacquiao flooded Cotto with blows, then one full wave of another ruinous left uppercut. It had a bloody outcome, Cotto was spitting blood from a lip cut and more bleeding from the nose. Pacquiao’s coach, Roach, suggested that this was the best time to stop the fight but Cotto asked for more.

The live sessions with Joe gave Dina an inspiration to give Dumaguete a boxing gym on top of Portal West. Then Joe, shared with us his own gameplan for Negros Island which will be realized with the help of Fred and Hedi: right on the seaside of Maayong Tubig, the Philippines’ boxing academy will rise – a dream born within the Duchess of Dauin. What a beautiful sunny morning!

Friday, October 09, 2009

SUGA: Making a Difference!

"I would be nothing without knowing what God really wants for me. . .," IRESSE PATRICIA O. BULOS tearfully declared, in the Silliman University Goodwill Ambassador (SUGA) Search final challenge on September 25 in Café Antonio: a sermonette on the theme “Thy Will Be Done” -- one of the winning moments of this humble young talent who, along with the other Aspiring Ambassadors (AA) and their production team, (pressured with little preparation time, faith stories uncovered, ability to present a quality stage production) discovered with touches of elegance over a week-long run. All these made the event that capped the Youth Week celebration of Silliman Church a decision that is (or will prove to be) equally formative and, it being an avenue of working faith testimonies, far more determined, unyielding.

SUGA: Silliman University Goodwill Ambassador, a talent search inspired by popular reality TV programs, was an achievement of brave young workers led by Parish News Editor Gus Ganir, the Christian Youth Fellowship president Daniel Kho and Campus Ambassadors chairman Marky Cielo with the full-of-talent-energy hosting by Anna Espino and Carlo Regalado . Its entire expanse had been mostly an achievement of willingness to make a difference -- not for the self but in celebration of God-given talents. Although set within the spirit of a friendly competition, every solo presentation of an AA espoused the most passionate faith testimony of the youth; an ideal seriousness which, in a rare moment, was found in a generation usually lost in trivial peer-pressured frolic. Iresse, the winner, expressed that so far in all her life as a young achiever, her being SUGA was the most meaningful - simply splendid with subtle building-up of joy within a Christian youth fellowship composed of: Boyd Milan, the classical guitarist; Matthew Torres, the hip-hop dancer using praise songs; Fredilyn Fabillar, the Christian pop singer; Anton Sanchez, the Christian rock band lead singer; Raiza Majam, the inspirational motivator; Retz Pol Pacalioga, the composer and Olive Rubillos, the praise and worship leader. The SUGA experience im all its simplicity became the most authentic and complete of all of Iresse’s involvements, beside her other wins in other school contests which were not as fulfilling, she said.

Among the reasons for its mounting, the SUGA was committed to defining real youth challenges amidst inherent tendencies to just go-with-the-flow and that result in any work concerning the youth a mediocre undertaking without discernment of the beauty of God-given gift of creativity. It proves that Church youth work today requires a strong plan involving excellence in visual communication, a service that answers to the short-attention span of young people. Creative path is the nerve of today’s youth work, so that the young mind dwells within a meaningful journey which, to the majority of the chosen circle of friends, could still be regarded as “too churchy” and finds it absolutely boring compared to the challenge in a computer game or to the appeal of television primetime. While our Church youth are obliged to package themselves according to the concrete pleasant pressure of their contemporaries, youth ministry as a whole has to have an encompassing avenue to cover even the most unknown addressee. It should send vivid signals beyond boundaries and take courage that stems from the omnipotence of GOD, the Great-Giver-of-All-Talents.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hari ng Negros 2009: “Arise the Phoenix”

The Hari ng Negros pageant is considered to be the most popular male pageant in the country. The annual parade of princes is part of the celebration of the charter anniversary of the island of Negros’ city-in-the-sky: CANLAON.

It was on May 16 when I was invited to be in Canlaon City to conduct personality enhancement, speech improvement and handling Q & A workshops for the candidates of the 2009 Hari ng Negros pageant. The session gave me the opportunity to experience the daytime presence of the princes from the different towns and cities of the island of Negros. They were in their casual and comfortable weekend fashion and no one was wearing make-up. The workshop taught them how to achieve a strong manly presence while on a ramp walk, a review on the non-verbal and verbal considerations when in a panel interview and finally, a long session on common beauty pageant questions.

The session was an opportunity to make my own secret judging of the possible winners. My top 10 after the exposure were: the prince with the classic look and sizzling shirtless flaunting Prince of Talisay FERDINAND SAN FELIX, the prince with the over-all star presence Prince of Pamplona RAMI GALLEGO, the prince with the-perfect-gentleman bearing Prince of San Carlos RHAMRIC SIMPRON, the prince with the top model allure Prince of Bacolod CHARLES ANITO, the prince with the exotic appeal and perfectly-chiseled body Prince of Tayasan PHILIP MANUBAG, the prince with the sweetest smile Prince of Canlaon ALJUNREY TAUBAN, the prince with the rugged, muscular and raw magnetism Prince of La Libertad MARK GARGOLES, the prince confident of his boy-next-door appeal Prince of Dumaguete JAY-AR GANDOLA, the prince with the Oriental pretty boy charisma Prince of Bais CONAN AYUDA and the prince with endearing innocent aura Prince of Bindoy MELRICK CALIJAN. Others whom I forecasted to make a surprise cut were: the prince with the subtle handsome charm Prince of Calatrava VINCENT CALAPTI, the prince with the fighting spirit and face value to bank on Prince of Amlan LORD CHESTER TAN, the prince with the serious-business-in-a-contest zeal and the one with the most expressive eyes Prince of Vallehermoso JESSE CENIZA.

The final pageant night on May 27 in Canlaon City had my favorite Prince of Tayasan walking like a hip-hop kid in the Barong Tagalog portion and for this, he failed to make it to the Top 10 cut. Prince of Bacolod was in trouble with the new braces he had after a dental cosmetology, he was without the expected winsome smile. He also did not make it. The remaining semi-finalists were the princes from Talisay, La Libertad, San Carlos, Canlaon, Calatrava, Dumaguete, Pamplona, Bais, Bindoy and Vallehermoso. With almost all of my bets making it to this level in the competition, I did so well in my facebook forecast.

Body-painting champ Prince of Vallehermoso gave the best answer in the semi-final round but his facial make-up made him look arrogant and a bit less masculine. Mister Photogenic awardee Prince of Pamplona missed the second point in his answer to a question on the two roles of a Hari ng Negros. Prince of Calatrava also failed to share a complete thought. The screams of the young ladies in the audience did not save their favorite Prince of Bais when he failed to expound on his answer. And hometown favorite and the one with the best smile Prince of Canlaon also failed to give a confident answer.

The Final 5 round had The Prince of La Libertad in the lead with outstanding over-all performance especially in the swimwear portion, Prince of Talisay who harvested a good number of special awards with his high energy street-dance glory as the clincher, Prince of San Carlos who gave an impressive answer on the question about Philippine tourism, Prince of Dumaguete whose aura of confidence was beaming all-night long, and the one with the humble presence Prince of Bindoy who started to impress the judges when the Guest of Honor Miss Earth 2008 Karla Paula G. Henry asked him, "What is the common weakness among men?” The Prince of Bindoy, a sophomore Accountancy student from Silliman University, answered "it's pride that leads men to a common weakness: not being able to handle rejection specially when they try their very best to get a girl's approval and only to be rejected....”

In the Top 5 round, Prince of Talisay struggled to answer the question from Prince of Bindoy, “If you will be become a rock, how hard would you want yourself to be?” After a long dead air, Prince of Talisay managed to express, “I want a diamond.” With this delay in answer, the crowd’s favorite to win the crown failed to be among the Top 3 princes. Prince of Dumaguete also failed when asked by Prince of San Carlos to describe Canlaon to a blind person, he sounded like a politician talking about Canlaon being a paradise, a land of progress and a place of friendly people.

In the Top 3 were Best in Swimwear and Best Ramp Model awardee Prince of La Libertad MARK GARGOLES, the youngest and the tallest bet Prince of Bindoy MELRICK CALIJAN and the Best Personality for Commercial modeling awardee Prince of San Carlos RHAMRIC SIMPRON. Both Mark and Rhamric considered knowing God as the point of rebirth in their own life stories when asked to reflect on the pageant’s theme “Arise the Phoenix.” Melrick pointed-out a simple Phoenix-like experience in his life and that was being on stage as a Hari ng Negros aspirant. He explained, “This is a totally new experience for me and being here feels like being reborn to a new challenge.” With all three tackling well the final question, the pageant ended with a triple-tie in the final tally of points. The Chairman of the Board of Judges, acclaimed film director Mario J. de los Reyes, had to break the tie and the youngest phoenix was chosen. With his humble presence and gift of innocence, Melrick Calijan arose to be king so unexpectedly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

pride and joy: Lalimar Resort of La Libertad

Many are talking about a mango orchard that has been transformed into a tourist destination.

Truly worthy of the threee-hour drive from Dumaguete is Lalimar Resort in the town of La Libertad!

Going there today, however, will temporarily give you an unpleasant interruption of the current election showcase: road construction all over the country. But the long drive will certainly be rewarded by this seaside gem.

The new resort is a work of art facing Tañon Strait. Cebu island serves as its sculptural line at the other end of the expanse of the familiar blue calm. All elements of the landscape architecture are made to blend with the existing dominant texture: the graceful waves of the ocean.

There is elegance in the strength of every shelter. The evident energy of the restless creative mind gives new ideas in the use of indigenous materials. A survey of the details is a refreshing experience.

The infinity edge pool as centerpiece defines tranquility. Its endless blue reflection is the coolness we badly need in this very humid season.

On special events, the music of the children rondalla will be part of the welcome.

Another source of joy are the products of the Lali women: native bags, baskets, hats, mats and a lot more. A digicam will certainly be busy capturing the endless display of colors.

The mango trees with yellow blooms are beginning to dance in the seabreeze with clusters of little fruits. A bit of Guimaras grandeur in Negros!

This new inspiration is part of the spirit of progress made possible by the generous heart of Congresswoman Josy Limkaichong.

Lalimar can only be our pride and joy. Not just because of its world-class impact. We take pride in Lalimar for it is the kind of progress that should be cascaded everywhere – a touch of high quality in its totality.

This local government project is an inspiration, for it speaks of the many possibilities when a public servant decides to be sincere and honest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Best Season in American Idol

American Idol, the no. 1 TV show, is now on its 8th season. I have been an avid follower of this very influential reality TV. I have to agree with Simon Cowell when he said that the current batch is the best in the show’s history. Another judge Randy Jackson of the Jackson 5, also expressed that this batch is the best, with all in the Top 5 “who can really sing.” New judge Kara DioGuardi, a prolific songwriter, has pointed-out that she is looking for the artist in a singer and she was awed by the discovery that all five have the artistic ability in building his/her own character.
A Filipino-American singer, Jasmine Trias, got the third place on the third season, overshadowing Jennifer Hudson with the popularity voting scheme that had Hawaii and other Filipino communities united behind the sweet Pinay. But Hudson, who was ranked 7th, turned out to be the biggest star with a talent that gave her an Oscar win and a Grammy for an R&B album. On this 8th season, Indian singer Anoop Desai have his own community support but a wiser America agreed with DioGuardi, and voted for the ones with strong artistic potentials.`
I had a Top 5 forecast with consideration to “popularity base”. I included the inspiring blind singer Scott MacIntyre as I was banking on the sympathy vote but he did not make it with his lack of originality. My heart’s final 5 did make it: Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Kris Allen and Matthew Giraud.
Matt Giraud may have a University degree in Music and gave the true spirit of a musician with every creative interpretation but he missed to give America a charming presence. He had this constantly-disturbed expression – making him look sad at some points. He failed to give the welcoming identity of an entertainer. I guessed it right when he had to be the first to go home in Top 5 elimination. The judges loved his own version of Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” and the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” but his being a dedicated musician did not save him. Passion was not in the common ground between him and the audience.
With the final four in a rock ‘n roll theme, there was a sure winner for he is naturally born with a rock star musicality: Adam Lambert. His version of English rock band Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love " got the longest standing ovation and the nods of the judges with Paula Abdul screaming, “perfect! perfect!” But will America love the metrosexual fashion icon in Adam? Or will fans of mainstream rock will consider his tendency to be theatrical on stage? Can all of America take an Elvis-like handsome presence - always manicured? He was in the bottom 3 twice and these results were after he received excellent comments from the judges. Adam, an experienced stage performer, is my choice but am not sure if America will agree when the current star trend is the raw and all-natural Miley Cyrus and Jason Mraz.
Ladies’ choice is definitely Kris Allen with a flood of “Kiss me Kris” placards in the audience. His humble presence is in sharp contrast to Adam’s star packaging. He is charming and very handsome even with just a T-shirt on. His voice is that of a cool pop star and every performance looks effortless with his sunshine smile. Girls were screaming when he performed “The Way You Look Tonight” and they danced with him in “She Works Hard for the Money.” But the judges specially Simon made it known that he doesn’t have what it takes to be in the Top 3 after a too mild version of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” They were wrong for America’s heart was for pretty boy Kris who is now considered a dark horse in Top 3.
The general public will go for the wholesome Danny Gokey even if the judges considered his singing of Aerosmith’s "Dream On” as “out of his element.” Indeed it was a desperation-soaked rock ‘n roll. But America will remember his heartwarming versions of Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” and Ben E. King “Stand By Me”, Mariah Carey’s "Hero,” and Carrie Underwood’s "Jesus, Take the Wheel.” His presence is that of a gentleman with the mature Harry Potter coolness and having the hairstyle of last year’s winner David Cook gave him that idol stature on stage. This Church music teacher is predicted to get one of the final two slots.

If only voters were all from the High School Musical generation, 17-year-old Allison Iraheta - the youngest remaining contestant and the only female left in the race - would have been given a Top 3 slot. They have loved her spunky personality, and she stood-out with Adam in the rock ‘n roll theme. But she was voted-off in the final 4 performance. The Salvadoran beauty will still become a recording star for she is an awesome rock princess. Her version of “Total Eclipse Of The Hear” was enduring.

Chris Daughtry who also came in fourth place on the 2006 season turned out to be a huge rock star who was named one of Nielsen’s top ten selling artists of 2007.

Allison can definitely be Daughtry but with her versatility, there is a promise of a more bankable career for this new teen idol.

More than 47 million votes led Adam, Danny, Allison and Kris to Top 4. And 64 million votes led to the Top 3 battle next week and a greater audience share is expected. Be part of the best season! Take an American Idol moment and be serenaded by the remaining three princes: KRIS, ADAM & DANNY. Take the Simon power and declare your own new king of songs!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

5 Moments with Mom Edith

I was there…

…one summer afternoon when I went up to the Montemar home of NATIONAL ARTIST EDITH LOPEZ TIEMPO to accompany an editor of Good Housekeeping magazine and a noted photographer who were scheduled to do an interview and photo session. It was their first time to meet the National Artist and they were starstruck. The editor, who was ready with a notebook of questions failed to make a good start. I had to do the initial interview. The photographer was like a trigger-happy soldier, taking shots non-stop. It was my first time to witness a presence up-close that really overwhelmed her audience. The two visitors loved every moment of it, and they never stopped talking about how welcoming Mom Edith was, or how happy they were to capture her effortless regal bearing and how they were entertained by her way of sharing stories from a life loaded with romantic angles, the sepia of local scenes, and the wisdom of the pen.

…somewhere in the 1980’s when a student talked about the walk-out of one his panelists during a defense of his dissertation on Creative Writing. He criticized the need for cultural honesty with the writer’s use of local color. He cited a work of Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo whom the student acknowledged as a major influence in his writing. The walk-out queen was the Dean of the Graduate School then, our beloved Dr. Edith Lopez Tiempo. She defended the work of the mentor as it was within the freedom of artistic expression. I loved the display of anger – I understood that it was not for the connection but of her pure passion. It was from a nurturing heart of an artist protecting the work of a fellow artist. Mom Edith is always a “mother hen” to any artist disturbed by confusion, and in this case, a criticism in full public view that had forgotten the element of respect.

… one morning in Montemar, she ushered me to sit down and ask, “Moses, would you care to listen to this… a poem, I wrote last night.” Being the first listener to The Writer’s Parentheses was a privilege I would forever cherish. When we mounted the event fir the renaming of the university library to Robert and Metta Silliman Library, in honor of the mentors that paved the way for her and her husband King to be Iowa scholars - I asked her to have the first public reading of “The Writer’s Parentheses” but the engagement was too early for her. So son Danny did it for Mom. and he successfully enlightened everyone of the Sillimans’ generosity to his parents, and the poem that was read became a testimony of the enduring legacy.

… a Christmas Eve at Silliman Church which had Dr. Edith Tiempo’s reading of a poem as the main expression of praise. The uniqueness of the moment made the worship elegant. The National Artist in a red dress was portrait of “the beauty of Jesus” seen through her glee while at the pulpit. She captured the true spirit of the season with Christmas Light, Christmas Dark.

this birth is a time, yes, for festivity,
But even more, a time for humility,
A time for laying by
The feverish praise and loud celebration,
A time for quiet introspection.
A time to grasp in the darkness of our being
The wonder of this birth and the balm of its meaning.

This fact is even true in the fiesta month of May where “loud celebration” can bring people away from the “…time for quiet introspection.”

… when the Quizo Family Quintet serenaded the National Artist Edith Lopez Tiempo on her 90th birthday. The afternoon harana as suggested by the Silliman University president Dr. Ben S. Malayang was a surprise for her but I was more surprised at the energy she had that day listening and dancing with the music of James, Meriam, Jon, Onna and Yeshua. She stood-up to join them dancing and singing, “Rock-a My Soul... in the bosom of Abraham..." When she heard them with the prayer song “Lead Me Lord.” She expressed, “…there is only one word to describe their singing: terrific!” The fun went on, and I was amazed at the warmth exchanges of Mom Edith and the beloved children, the who’s who in the Philippine literary world: SUSAN LARA, MARGE EVASCO, DM REYES, MYRNA PEÑA-REYES, JIM ABAD, KRIP YUSON, ANTHONY TAN, SAWI AQUINO, ERNIE YEE, IAN CASOCOT.... Her majesty at 90 was a big story to share – truly an enduring moment with love overflowing!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


My favorite number 5 led me to my favorite color. It was a billiard game that had 5 as the luckiest ball and its orange color was like a rolling sunshine. From then on, …T-shirt, slippers, toothbrush, a keyholder… everything orange invaded my room.

And SUMMER is the time to have them out with me as I go on island hop.

Here is more of my Take 5…

5 on-my-backpack Holy Week journey:

· Get to where Magellan had the first mass in Magallanes, Agusan del Norte to the Easter Sunday celebration in Cebu.

· Visit the oldest churches in the Visayas and the nearby beaches: Boljoon in Cebu, Baclayon in Bohol, Bacong in Negros, Lazi in Siquijor and Miag-ao in Iloilo.

· Away from the un-Holy Boracay is the country’s Holy Week Island: Guimaras

· Discover the tranquility islands near Sugar Beach in Sipalay

and back to the magic of Siquijor!

5 best listeners for PEACE-OF-MIND sessions :

· Keiko Shimada of L’Arche Punla, situated some 3000 km further South in the city of Cainta, Philippines (118 Camia Street, Bayanihan Village) was founded in 1988. This Japanese heroine, a nurse, will lead to a sense of purpose: becoming a volunteer to take care of the special children abandoned in Philippine hospitals

· Marvin Flores, Class of 2009 Valedictorian of Silliman University. The summa cum laude in Physics will inspire you with his success out of poverty.

· Gentle and kind Sanda Fuentes of Orientwind will inspire you to go an adventure underwater or over mountains or on a lake.

· Fashionista spirit with budget care! This is what you will discover when you go on “ukay-ukay” shopping with Rona Valente of Veronica’s Closet.

· Beyond the academia, Dr. Marge Udarbe Alvarez of Silliman University is available for sessions with those having troubled minds.

5 places to have the best Lenten season diet:

· Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay

· Green Haven in Cagayan de Oro

· Eden in Davao

· Mountain View in Bukidnon

· And if you can only afford a pedicab ride from home, try the vegetable kebab of Boston Café in Dumaguete – an echo of Palawan

5 secrets to uncover:

· The stories of the last of the Pastor sisters in Dumaguete’s Casa Blanca

· The angel-witch power orientation by Kitty Taniguchi of Mariyah Gallery

· The history behind every part of the house of Karl Aguila in Andulay overlooking Tambobo Bay

· The old house without stairways somewhere up-there in Siquijor

· And a bit of the “Taj Mahal” parallelism in the story of Sariland in Valencia

5 moments of nostalgia within Oriental Negros:

· Experience the sunset in Basay

· Go inside Silliman Church and you will have the drama of colors in gemlike glory when the sun is right behind the Resurrection stained-glass window.

· It’s simply spiritual when on a blue boat around the Twin Lakes

· With a friend at Café Binfico at Silliman Hall

· And a wish of truth at the mountain slope of Canlaon after chasing all the five waterfalls…

Or simply take 5 minutes every morning of your life and define it with the way of your heart.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Their Eyes have it....

“After 30 years of training, I am increasingly convinced that hiring

is more important than training”
Stephen R. Covey, Author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Talent managers are like fairy godmothers, they will do magic for their wards to shine in every limelight dance. I love watching them as they quietly work behind the stars.

In October, three giant sensations of Philippine entertainment were in Dumaguete for a film shoot. Film Director Seymour Sanchez has chosen Dumaguete, the hometown of his father, as location for “Handumanan” – a story of an accidental rendezvous of its three characters. Playing the role of Soledad, a writer from Dumaguete who takes a journey home is the multi-awarded actress and Time Asian heroine Chin-chin Gutierrez. The 2008 Urian Best Actor Jason Abalos is Efren, a government auditor assigned in Dumaguete and the 2008 Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “man of the year:” Akihiro Sato is Peru, the top model who had a location shoot in Pura Vida and Antulang. All three were busy building their characters and getting inspired by the natural wonders of Oriental Negros. I had the opportunity as production manager, to have many moments of up-close interactions with the actors, but having them as subjects for this article will not give new dimensions to what is already publicly known about them. I decided to put the spotlight on the “magicians” behind them, their talent managers: JONAS ANTONIO GAFFUD for Akihiro Sato, ANJIE BLARDONY-URETA for Chin-chin Gutierrez and DANILYN NUNGA for Jason Abalos.

The Brazilian-Italian-Japanese male icon Akihiro Sato is under the management of Mercator’s Jonas Gaffud. The name of Jonas’ model management agency came from a word he had seen from an old map while taking up Geography at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Mercator is the word for merchant, he explained. He said it’s a perfect name as selling an image today requires consideration of the global projections. What’s a social scientist doing in the world of model management? Jonas sensed his eye for discovering beauty during his college days. At UP, he met this campus beauty named Zorayda Andam. He told her she was beautiful and encouraged her to join Bb. Pilipinas beauty pageant. He successfully convinced the brilliant Business Economics student to be in the pageant. Jonas gathered all the resources to help his bet win and this included meetings with the UP circle of Binibining Pilipinas beauty scouts led by the country’s walking beauty pageant almanac Wendell Capili and film director Jeffrey Jeturian. Zorayda was crowned Bb. Pilipinas – Universe in 2001 and became Miss Tourism Asia. Jonas got so inspired by the thrill of discovering his first beauty queen. He became unstoppable – he has given our country our bets to the Miss Universe pageant from 2005 to 2008. His new found love meant “goodbye” to geography which had courses like anthropology, volcanology and other studies covering the contours and features of the earth. Now, he is still looking at contours – actually the possibilities of the required features within the physical make-up of a would-be talent. He worked full time in a talent agency and after two years, decided to establish Mercator. Mercator is the agency behind today’s top male models like Rocky Salumbides, Victor Basa, Bruce Quebral and Akihiro Sato, to name a few. A good number of the Binibining Pilipinas beauties are also under Jonas’ Mercator. (.

"Television plays a very important role in shaping our consciousness. For instance, even if we were far away from where the 9-11 tragedy took place, we were still affected by it because we saw what happened on television. The feeling would be different if we just read about it in the newspapers. The same with the EDSA Revolution, we felt the drama because we saw how it unfolded on screen," explained the former Executive Producer Anjie Blardony-Ureta of ABS-CBN News and Public Affairs. It is for this previous job as a network producer of a news program that Anjie is easily recognized by those in the mainstream of the entertainment industry. When she became the talent manager of Chin-chin, their tandem would easily get the respect from those in the business.

The track records of both the manager and her talent are very strong, they mean serious business and they command professionalism in all aspects of the production. Anjie’s mere presence would add credibility to a program. She won’t hesitate to express a comment on something that should be corrected. Her professional life started as an educator in a basic education institution and this background gave her the strength in all aspects of management. It’s a moment of good education when one is with Anjie. She is inviting everyone to become part of their environmental advocacy through the One Planet, One Cradle Production Garden ( The program is greatly inspired by Chinchin’s selection as one of the 2003 Asian Heroes for her dedication to the environmental preservation programs in our country. Chin-chin’s Uyayi (Lullaby) concert is aimed at promoting awareness to the need to save mother earth. Anjie is part of all these not just as a talent manager but because “It is not a choice to make, I have to be an environmentalist and everyone should because it a commitment to make as citizens of this planet.”

Danilyn Nunga wanted to become the next Korina Sanchez. This inspiration was the primary reason why she took up Mass Communication in college. But as she was facing the real world after obtaining the degree, she realized that the arena for broadcast journalists is too loaded with wannabes. In fact, when she applied as a reporter at ABS-CBN, she was told that they would need her at the network’s talent center. Left with no choice, she accepted the job. Her career literally blossomed in ABS-CBN as talent handler of Star Magic, then called Talent Center. She tried other jobs like being a store a manager but she wasn’t as happy as playing the “big sister” for the talents assigned to her. Her job with Jason is made easy for the actor is “very mabait talaga” and she added, “very professional and is really committed to his job.” Days of rejoicing are days of achievements of her “alaga.” “I was the happiest when we received the call that Jason was nominated for Urian.” She was literally jumping when Jason was proclaimed as the Urian Best Actor for “Endo,” the opening film during Dumaguete’s Cinemalaya. A hard day would be with an assignment that’s all face value with no talent to bank on. Danilyn’s dedication to her job was evident during the entire location shoot for Handumanan. We invited her several times to a tour around Metro Dumaguete while her talent was busy working but she, too, was busy making sure that her talent would get to the set on time and that every need would be provided immediately. She really loves where she is right now, and she is willing to stay for as long as she is needed.

All three know what it takes to be a star in Philippine showbiz. With just one look, they can right away spot a talent who is worthy of their touch and packaging.