Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diwal and Other Ilonggo Flavors at Mandarin Oriental, Manila's Paseo Uno

Being an Ilongga myself and growing up tasting the delicacies of Iloilo, my parents' province, I was so delighted to accept the invitation of  Charisse Chiudian, Mandarin Oriental's Director of Communications, to the Ilonggo Festival in Paseo Uno.  It turned out, the Chef of the Festival, Chef Pauline Gorriceta- Banusing is a good friend of my aunties and cousins in Iloilo, as well as the Chan family, who are the beloved in-laws of my sister, Marisa. What a small world! 

Chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing, renowned for representing Iloilo’s famous culinary scene, revisits Mandarin Oriental, Manila’s Paseo Uno for a 10-day fete highlighting the Western Visayas’ gastronomical delights and seafood delicacies, particularly the famed shellfish diwal (angel wing clams). Ongoing until June 3, “Diwal and Other Ilonggo Flavours” is held in conjunction with Makati’s 342nd Foundation Day, and celebrates the sisterhood of Makati and Iloilo cities. Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay and Dra. Elenita Binay officially opened the festival at ceremonies attended by prominent Ilonggo personalities.

Offered as part of Paseo Uno’s lunch and dinner buffets,  the Ilonggo specialties include:  Grilled Managat (Mangrove Jack); Lobo lobo (Ilonggo anchovies cooked in vinegar, tomatoes and garlic),  Beef Kansi with Batuan (tender beef shanks with soup soured with batuan seeds), Chicken Tinuom (chicken steamed in banana leaves); Ginisang Uhong na may Kadios kag Sinugba na Baboy (oyster mushrooms from San Miguel Iloilo with coconut cream. black pigeon peas and grilled pork belly); Adobado na Alimusan (cultured mudfish from Guimaras); Kinilawin na Tanigue na may Tuba (slices of tanigue fish marinated in a special native vinegar from the mountains of Leon, Iloilo); Lukon na may Aligue (fresh prawns from Roxas City with crab fat sauce); and Sinugba na Lokos (grilled squid stuffed with lemongrass, cilantro, ginger, and tomatoes) among others. The standard favorites like Chicken Inasal, Batchoy,  KBL (Kadios, Baboy kag Langka) na may Batuan are also offered.

Chef Pauline’s versatility stems from her roots as a student of the Culinary Institute of America, New School of New York, and at the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump’s New York), where she had rigorous training to meet the most challenging of culinary demands. In May 2006, she had her Mandarin Oriental debut as a featured chef at an Ilonggo food festival dubbed as “Manamit!” where she delighted guests with a medley of her hometown’s signature cuisine. She had two more successful food festivals at the hotel, her most recent on being the “Diwal-iciousVisayas: Bounties of the Sea” held in September last year.  I could be biased, but the Ilonggo Festival this year can be described in one word: Manamit!

The buffet is priced at PHP 1,818+, while Friday and Saturday dinner is priced at PHP2,200+, inclusive of Paseo Uno’s Luxury Buffet.

For information and table reservations, call Paseo Uno on +63 (2) 750 8888 or email

Chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing, no stranger to the kitchens of Mandarin Oriental, poses next to the Exec Chef of Mandarin Oriental, Manila, Rene Ottlik
Makati Mayor Jun- Jun Binay and Dra. Elenita Binay (not in photo) opened Paseo Uno's Diwal and other Ilonggo Flavors food festival which is held in conjunction with the 342nd Makati Foundation Day festivities and celebrates the sisterhood of Iloilo and Makati.
l-r Mayor Binay, Mark Bradford, (GM of Mandarin Oriental, Manila), festival guest Chef, Pauline Gorriceta Banusing, Mark Gorriceta, and Makati City Accountant Cecilio Lim

Mandarin's GM Mark Bradford, Consul Helen Ong,  Doris Lopez, and Dra. Elenita Binay at the opening festivities

Prominent Illongos who flocked to Paseo Uno were Teddy Montelibano, Allanah Montelibano, Teddy Boy Locsin, Chef Pauline, Karen Ganzon, and Director of Communications of Mandarin Oriental, Charisse Chuidian

Cristine Cunanan, Editor in Chief and Publisher of Travel Life Magazine

Oh No, It's Johnny, with Jennie Epperson relished the Illongo dishes!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Charity in Taguig at Lunch, Charity with Manille Bienvenue at Night

A month ago, I committed to Kaye Tinga, wife of Congresman Fred Tinga to organize a group of "Angels" to feed the marginalized children in the impoverished area of Taguig.  For four Saturdays in May, in honor of the Blessed Mother, ladies who make a difference, Len Olbes, Amy de La Cruz, Emma Pante, Linda Ley, Mia Ong, Suzette Lopez, Ruby Tiong Tan, Mia Reyes, Rachel de Guzman, Cecile Infantado, Hera Gerienne and I trekked to different Barangays in Taguig to feed the malnourished kids with the help of Kaye's barangay ladies and daughters.  Every now and then, a gentleman would join us.  My Zumba teacher Richard Salas joined us two Saturdays in a row. Angels who could not give their time volunteered their financial resources.

In the evening of May 19, some of us angels were at the Champagne Room of the Manila Hotel, the Grande Dame by the Bay, to attend a charity event organized by the members of the committee of Manille Bienvenue headed by Delphine Diot.  What attracted us to attend was the beneficiary of their charity was a foundation that give help to impoverished kids.

Effervescent lady Lulu Tan Gan organized us ladies to attend the event with her. It was a fabulous event.  Different vintage and brands of champagne were served to our satisfaction, dinner was both for gourmets and gourmands and each dish was matched with the best wines. Leave it to the French to serve only the best wines and champagne.

We were just a handful of  Filipino ladies who attended the successful event organized by the members of this association, Manille Bienvenue. Manille Bienvenue was created to help the newly arrived French expats and their family or French speaking expats to better adjust in Manila.  The association offers activities for children and adults. The members have monthly meetings to organize tours and social events. They work closely with the French Chamber of Commerce and the Club of the Damas Latinas. They are involved in different charity work all over the Philippines.  Indeed, their vision is to help improve the plight of the marginalized sector of our population.  We salute them in their different charitable endeavors and their generosity of spirit.

Cela va sans dire that we truly enjoyed the evening which was capped by a lot of dancing which made the event even more fun!

The Angels who go to Taguig every Saturday to feed the marginalized kids- Mia Reyes, Michelle, Suzette Lopez, Mia Ong, Ruby Tiong Tan and Ej Ong

Hungry, malnourished kids

Len Olbes, Myself, Linda Ley supervising the children's meal

Always elegant, the Champagne room at Manila Hotel, the Grande Dame by Manila Bay

Lulu Tan Gan, Moi, one of the organizers of the affair, Corrine de Longuemar, Linda Ley

Beautiful angels of the Night-Len Olbes, Hera Gerienne, Cecile Infantado, Emma Pante

Dress Designer Dennis Lustico, Linda Ley, myself,  Knit Queen Lulu Tan Gan

Len Olbes  and Dennis Lustico

Duo in White (by Patrice Diaz Ramos) and Bronze (Parisienne gown by George Bonnet)

International expat ladies gave the event their whole-hearted support

Dr. Cecile, Hera, Pinky, Linda and Emma

We were at Lulu's table. The dinner was tres delicieux! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Press Release: 4 Argentine Tango Couples Set to Regale Manila’s Growing Tango Lovers

Over a hundred years since its birth, the Tango has had, in recent years, an unprecedented global following as a lifestyle and travel option among culture-seekers and dance aficionados.

Its music, at once passionately uplifting and eternally tragic, brings together a diversity of men and women from all walks of life in the quintessential Tango embrace, in three minutes of a song, with the most subtle of movements unlike any other dance any dancer has ever danced before.

From city centres in Europe, North America, across the Pacific and Down Under, and now in
Southeast Asia, the Tango is gripping the hearts of millions of dance pilgrims in dance studios, social halls, hotel ballrooms, local cafes, swanky bars, famous parks and touristy riverbanks.

And much like crossing time zones for the ultimate ski run or beach getaway, travelling to dance
Tango has become a novel trend as Tango enthusiasts pursue the most sought-after maestros or explore the next best milonga (Tango dance party) in a new city – for the magic of an incomparable bliss, an unspoken connection with a complete stranger through the universal language of the Tango embrace.

TangoBlitz is a blazing trail of magic and seduction, a mega Tango festival, happening this year from May to June in 7 cities around Asia: Singapore, Manila, Bali, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh and Brunei. Organized by  Tango Oriental, each Asian city is co-hosted by their local tango clubs.

Here in Manila, Tango Oriental partners with the Manila Tango Club. This partnership has been instrumental in providing our local enthusiasts quality tango presentations featuring world renowned Argentine tango masters.

Though the Manila Tango Club has been in existence for over a decade now, it was only 4 years ago when Manila finally caught up with this growing phenomenon now sweeping across Asia. This year, an impressive line-up of top-caliber tango artists from Buenos Aires await the avid aficionados, from May 17-20, a 4-day event beginning with a Tango competition; and a Gala Masters show, both at the Makati Sports Club; Filipiniana-themed and farewell milongas at the Ristorante L'Ambasciata D'Abruzzo and Society Lounge, respectively; workshops, private coaching and more.

The region's well-loved couple Laila & Leandro Oliver together with Forever Tango star Tamara
Bisceglia with Federico Paleo head the line-up for this year's presentation, with Analia Carreno
& Luiggi Ramirez of Conjuro Tango fame, and salon maestros Noelia Coletti & Pablo Giorgini.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with not just one
or 2 couples, but 4 fantastic Argentine tango couples. They will not only enthral you with
this passionate dance that has been taking the world by storm, but they will be here to hold
workshops starting on 15 May 2012, and dance with all the tangueros and tangueras during the
nightly Milonga parties.

Analia Carreno & Luiggi Ramirez of Conjuro Tango fame

Salon maestros Noelia Coletti & Pablo Giorgini 

The region's well-loved couple Laila & Leandro Oliver

Forever Tango star Tamara Bisceglia with Federico Paleo

Ogie Mendoza-- The Man behind a Movement

The Man behind a Movement

Ogie Mendoza's expertise on Argentine Tango spans 17 years of experience from 3 aspects of the dance.  First and foremost as a teacher, he has learned from all the important names in the world of tango where he had condensed the best from every master he has learned with and incorporated it with his own understanding, eventually formulating his own syllabus that now defines his pedagogy.He has honed his teaching skills from conducting numerous workshops to tango communities in almost all the major cities in Southeast Asia.

As a performer, he did countless performances in cities like Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Brunei, Dubai & Kota Kinabalu. The most notable of which were two performances at the KLCC-Petronas with his violinist student, Ms. Runa Baagoe, in a symphony orchestra with musicians from the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 & 2008. The opportunity to perform at the prestigious KLCC-concert hall with a thousand spectators watching, is one defining moment in his colorful career.

As an organizer, he has brought tango promotion in the region to new heights and dimension under his event company Tango Oriental, creator of Tangoxposed, Tangoblitz, and Oriental Visit. The influx of genuine Argentine talents through his initiative benefited a whole region in need of tango expertise. It gave the region's tango communities improved skills and techniques from the expertise of the teachers/performers he has brought over the last six years. These  three aspects helped shape his understanding and mastery of the Argentine tango earning him a special niche in the world of tango in SEAsia.

For the 4th Manila Tango Festival program and packages, please email or call +632-895-4576. You  may also visit the following websites: or  for information updates, as well as Facebook pages: Manila Tango Club or Tango Philippines.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Palm Trees, Tropical Flowers, Leis and Hawaiian Love Songs for Marisa's Birthday

A luau is always a great motif for a summer birthday bash. It was the theme that birthday celebrant Marisa Carmona Chan chose for her birthday in late April.

With the daily mercurial rise of Manila's temperature, it was  "de riguer" for  male guests to come in airy floral loose shirts and ladies in bare floral dresses. The lovely birthday girl welcomed her guests in a summery yellow long dress with bright blue flowers.

Malu Gamboa of Milky Way prepared the perfect luau menu and Anton Barretto, event decorator extraordinaire, filled the walls with floral paintings, and the tables with tons of tropical flowers. Palm trees were all around the party place. Round lamps for prosperity was a detail not to be missed.

The handsome and multi talented Chan brothers, Michael, Joe and Franco and their guest Cowboy provided the dance music. Their Hawaiian love songs, particularly Blue Hawaii, gave me some nostalgic moments.

The surprise program consisted of some songs from Classical singer Stephanie Reese, a surprise Polynesian Argentine tango dance number by me and my dance partner Richard Salas, an Argentine number danced in a recent competition by winners James Borja and partner Gina Salas, and a speech in Bulgarian by multi lingual sister Loudette Carmona Corcellut. It was so sentimental that she preferred to say it in Bulgarian so that Marisa will find it hilarious. It sounded so strange that she kept everyone in stitches.

Argentine tango dance guru Jun Borja and the celebrant delighted the guests with their unplanned dance number.  

It was such a fun birthday bash that guests stayed on till the wee hours tripping the light fantastic.  

Sofia Carmona, Marco Carmona, Michelle, Jose Fabian carmona, Marisa Carmona Chan, the celebrant, Steven Chan, Daddy Manolo Carmona, Bing Tan

Sisters Two- Mayenne Carmona and celebrant Marisa C. Chan

Joe Ansaldo Chan, Lily Chan, BJ Chan Albert, Franco A. Chan

Michael Ansaldo Chan, Teresa Chan, Band player Cowboy, Franco Ansaldo Chan, Mara, and Anna Chan

Lovebirds Charlie Carmona and Leana Farrales Carmona

Forever married lovebirds  Jean Pierre Corcellut and Loudette Carmona Corcellut

Sofia Carmona, Mommy Inday Carmona and Sen Sanchez

Cristine Uy, Pat Uy, celebrant Marisa, Ota Uy and Mariane Uy Onate

Argentine Dance maestros Richard Salas and James Borja with their muses Marisa  Chan and Gina Salas

Annabelle Alejandrino, Len Fernandez, Maricris Olbes

seated-Inday Chan, Antonietta Chan, standing- Lily Chan, Mayenne Carmona, Marisa Carmona Chan. 

Ditas Laurel Marquez, Tina and Bert Limjuco

Thomas Kuhnke, song bird Stephanie Reese, Annie Carmona Kuhnke, Marvie Cojuangco Yulo, Olive Sandico and Vicky Jose

Event Designer Anton Barretto, Loudette Corcellut, Ditas Laurel Marquez

Under the palm tree, Argentine Tango dance partner Richard Salas and me.

The celebrant's pretty staff welcomed the guests with leis:  Russian, Rosaline, Jessa, Richel, Ging Ging.  Dancer and Zumba teacher Richard Salas accepts a lei from them.

Honeymooners, newlyweds, Annie Carmona K. and Thomas Kuhnke.