Wednesday, November 25, 2015


“Lifestyle and food mecca at Felcris Centrale”
Sun.Star Davao, Nov. 21, 2015

“Simple but elegant; international but uniquely Filipino; and comfortable yet trailblazing”. Essentially, this is the message that Felcris Centrale’s Chimes Specialty Boutique wants to convey in its new logo design.

“Chimes continues to uphold its founders’ vision of providing Dabawenyos a shopping haven for one-of-a-kind finds and high quality items”, says Cindy Yap, Junior Vice President of the Felcris Group of Companies. “True to its origins, this upscale specialty store is the place to go for the discriminating shopper who fancies seeing the world without leaving the comforts of home and family”, she adds.

This one-stop lifestyle store offers “a wide variety of products, ranging from Japan’s Shiseido cosmetics; the United States’ Clinique cosmetic and skin care line; Victoria Secret and Bath and Body Works fragrances and body pampering products; Brazil’s Ipanema and Grendha footwear; Thailand’s Santas towels and lines; and Paris’ Longchamp Bags to its very own clothing line, Canvas”, Cindy shares.

Joining these world-class brands with the opening of its newest store are the clothing lines of renowned local designers such as Maureen Disini, Charina Sarte, Regilioso, K & Company, Florence Fling, and the fabulously chic accessories of Aranaz and Jo of Joyce Oreña.

At the recent launch of the Chimes Specialty Boutique, the charming and witty fashion icon Tessa Prieto-Valdes delightfully hosted the stylish affair. VIPs who especially flew in from Manila to grace the occasion included fashion stylist to the stars Liz Uy; top fashion blogger Camille Co; “Asia’s Next Top Model” guest judge and beauty specialist Lourd Ramos; Under Armour endorser and actor Rocco Nacino; among others.

But, the most recognized and fussed over celebrity who came to the event was no less than the guest of honor, our beloved Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who gamely posed for countless photos with the invitees who could never get enough of him. Admitting to be a loyal patron of the Felcris Group of Companies since its early days, he thanked the Yap family for believing in Davao; creating job opportunities for the people while offering premium products sourced locally and from across the globe.

After shopping at Chimes Specialty Boutique, an unforgettable meal at Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar, which nests at the second floor of the Al Fresco area of the Felcris Centrale, is an absolute must.

As one enters Perch, you will be welcomed by its wooden and rustic feel. The bar has a character on its own with black background and gold borders.

Chef Raffy Sunico, head chef of the Manila-based gastropub, LOCALE, leads this gourmet venture in collaboration with Perch’s own Chef AJ Reyes.

My family and I went to Perch on a drizzling Friday night to unwind with good eats while enjoying the relaxing music of Acoustic Fridays.

Armed with our insatiable appetites, for starters, we indulged in Perch’s scrumptious Truffle Fries -- chunky and crispy batonnet potato fries in truffle paste and truffle oil followed by the heavenly Candied Bacon, 12-hour smoked candied bacon baked to perfection. The mouthwatering Roasted Bone Marrow may be sinful but worth every calorie and cholesterol!

The perfectly brined Whiskey Barbeque Chops which is French-cut pork chops grilled and glazed with Perch’s special whiskey bourbon barbeque sauce and the Perch Rising Sun Angus Burger Steak, grilled Angus beef patty in a nest-like bed of potato hash topped with raw egg yolk, were equally satisfying.

Other delectable must-try items on the menu included the Seafood Pasta, Angus Basil Meatball Pasta, Truffsilog, Broccoli Cheese Rice, Three Cheese Truffle Pizza, Chicken Broccoli and Cheese and Panko Crusted Oyster Sisig.

With Chimes Specialty Boutique and Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar, Felcris Centrale seals its claim to be the lifestyle mecca as well as foodies’ paradise of Davao!

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Special thanks to Kenneth Hao for the Chimes Specialty Boutique launch photos .

Saturday, November 7, 2015

“Apl of their eyes”
Sun.Star Davao, Nov. 7, 2015

In this world of “me, myself and I”, it is truly heartwarming to know that an internationally renowned Grammy Award-winning artist such as the Black Eyed Peas’ would choose to generously give back to the Philippines through his Foundation International.

Admirably, education is the first priority of the foundation. It has built a music studio and computer lab in the two schools that Apl attended in his hometown of Sapang Bato, Pampanga: Sapang Bato National High School and Holy Angels University. These facilities provide opportunities for disadvantaged Filipino children to unleash their musical and technology talents. The initiative also includes the development of teacher training modules, a mentoring program and educational scholarships.

Currently, the foundation sponsors 14 scholars at the Angeles University and participates in the Department of Education’s initiative to build new schools especially in far flung and hard-to-reach areas of the country. To date, it has built 15 new schools including one in the war-torn area of Zamboanga.

Recently, came to Davao City bearing good news. Through his Foundation, “The Campaign for Filipino Children” was launched at the Southern Philippines Medical Center. The foundation’s first healthcare initiative is to tackle the issue of eyesight preservation, specifically addressing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), one cause of childhood blindness in the Philippines which affects thousands of children annually.   

Apl, being born with nystagmus (a condition of involuntary eye movement that results in limited vision), can very well relate to this campaign. He is considered legally blind.

The campaign’s approach is “to assist the medical community in the Philippines through five regional/provincial hospitals to increase the capacities of these regions to adequately diagnose ROP, an affliction among pre-term infants that can cause lifelong blindness if not addressed within 48 hours of birth/diagnosis”.

During the campaign launch, and his collaborators donated a state-of-the-art brand new Retcam TM Shuttle diagnostic equipment to the SPMC to properly screen ROP. The cost of the machine? A whopping US$125,000 or approximately Php 5.6 million.                                          

The notable list of collaborators for this campaign includes the Philippine Academy of Opthalmology; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles through its Vision Center-Dr. Thomas C. Lee; as presenting sponsor; and Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

After the launch, the members of the media were able to have our chance to interview Apl privately.

I asked Apl to share a little information about his upcoming children’s book under the “Dream Big” series by my friend Ms. Yvette Fernandez.

“Basically, Yvette and I just hung out and I just told her my life story about growing up; farming; coming from humble beginnings; and delivering ‘uling’ (charcoal) throughout the neighborhood for my mom. She would package them and I was the delivery boy. I used to deliver water which I pumped, two gallons of water with the ‘timba’ (pail). So I would deliver water in my neighborhood for a peso per delivery. The book tells my story growing up in Sapang Bato”, Apl smiles.

For someone so accomplished in his impressive career as a rapper, record producer and celebrity judge of The Voice Phils., I am awed beyond measure on how Apl is still so down-to-earth and proud of his roots.

If there is a true star I would like my children to look up to, it would be this guy who has significantly changed the lives of many young Filipinos, making him the “Apl of their eyes”.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Cooking up family memories at Yakimix"
Sun.Star Davao, Oct. 24, 2015

A young man on bended knees asks for his longtime girlfriend’s hand in marriage while the diners and staff cheer enthusiastically in support.

Pulling out a saxophone, a bespectacled guy suddenly plays enchanting love songs to a charming lady during their family lunch. It was her birthday, after all, and the hubby wanted to make her day extra special by secretly requesting a friend to serenade her. This sweet gesture surely earned brownie points for the thoughtful mister.

Certainly, these are not everyday scenes you would encounter in a buffet restaurant. But, in two years, Yakimix Davao has been a happy witness to countless family occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, reunions, graduations, and even holiday get-togethers like Christmas and New Year.

Eating has always been and still is a source of bonding among friends and most especially, families.  We truly believe that it is during mealtime when we sit down together to enjoy food and each other’s company that we get to bond, connect and learn from one another”, says Yakimix Davao CEO Wilson Bangayan. 

“Nothing beats spending time eating with family and friends as we talk face to face and share stories, more so in this digital age, when communication has been reduced to sending messages via gadgets.  And here at Yakimix, we advocate this by creating those precious moments into a more unforgettable dining experience with our fusion of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Filipino food”, he continues.

Wilson is truly grateful that Yakimix Davao has been doing well in the market for the past two years. He observes that Dabawenyos keep coming back for the experience of personally grilling Yakimix’s wide selection of pre-marinated beef, chicken and seafood dishes.

Their built-in smokeless grill located at every table is such a hit because it does not leave customers with “smokey”-smelling clothes. The name, Yakimix, is derived from the Japanese word, “yaki”, which means, grilled, broiled or pan-fried and the word “mix” or put together.

In addition, their Hongkong chef introduces new dishes on a regular basis, especially during holidays when a lot of people from out-of-town visit Davao City. These new specialties include their lip-smacking Imbao Shell Soup, Steamed Scallop with Garlic and Vermicelli, Sizzling Tuna, Pan Grilled Chicken with Laurel Leaves and Sauteed Tofu with Shredded Chicken.

Aside from these, the Spicy Crispy Shrimp, Crab Sotanghon, Korean Chapchae, Lechon Kawali, Grilled BBQ with different Asian sauces, Fresh Salmon and Tuna, and the Make-Your-Own Sukiyaki Soup remain as the loyal customers’ all-time favorites.

For our anniversary promo, Yakimix Davao is giving out a Food Lovers Privilege Card worth Php880 which can be used for their succeeding Yakimix dining experience.  For every Php2,000 worth of meals, the customer will be given this card, which will entitle him to a 10% discount for cash transactions and 5% discount for credit card transactions – on his succeeding visits.  This promo has been extended until the privilege cards are consumed”, announces Wilson.

Yakimix Davao is located at the 2nd Floor of Abreeza Mall, J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City.  Contact details:  (082)-2853333; (082)-3212333; 0917-3053333; 0925-7430333. Operating hours:  Lunch -11:30am – 3:00pm; Dinner - 5:00 -10:00pm. Rates:  Weekday Lunch – Php 499;  Weekday Dinner and Weekends – Php 599. Children 3-4.5 feet are given a discounted rate of Php 299 and free dining for children below 3 feet.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

“Dimsum Break in Davao”
Sun.Star Davao, Oct. 10, 2015

The festive sound of beating drums and the energetic moves of the lion dance welcomed Dimsum Break’s customers as it opened its doors at Gaisano Mall of Davao recently.
“Launched in 1996, the very first Dimsum Break branch introduced the interactive or fast food style of serving dimsum in Cebu breaking away from the customary wait service. This kind of service meant that all customers can simply order their food at the counter and personally get their dimsum favorites, pay at the cashier and be on their way to enjoy the food, be it in-store or out. The senses of sight and smell were teased by the colorful, appetizing and aromatic display of dimsum dishes”, shares Dimsum Break Davao franchisee Mark Kho.  

The combination of great food and simple, fast and interactive service proved to be a hit! Dimsum Break soon became the go-to place for a quick, hot, delicious and affordable meal.

Proudly Cebuano

“Dimsum Break is one of the restaurants under Harbour City Dimsum House Co., Inc. which traces its roots to its very first restaurant brand, Ding How. Opened in 1969, Ding How introduced the concept of an all-day dimsum dining concept in Cebu. The enthusiastic market acceptance and reception subsequently led to the development of the group's other brands, which include Ding Qua Qua (1987) and Harbour City (1993)”, relates Mark.

He explains that “Harbour City is the quintessential tea house concept, with dimsum dishes being wheeled straight to customers' tables in time-honored dimsum carts and trolleys.  Ding Qua Qua, on the other hand, offers the Great Dimsum Buffet, an all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner offering”.

Today, the Dimsum Break branch network has grown to 11 stores in Cebu, 1 store each in Bacolod, Tacloban, Butuan, and now Davao, for a total of 15 stores.  The Davao branch is the 20th store of the entire Harbour City Group.

Family comfort food

When visitors to Cebu ask what local favorites they should try, the Original Steamed Fried Rice is usually one of the recommendations.  After eating the dish, many of them become fans, and a stop at any Ding How, Ding Qua Qua, Harbour City and Dimsum Break branch becomes part of the itinerary on their next visit”, Mark reveals.

He narrates that “the famous Original Steamed Fried Rice was created in the kitchen of Ding How. Its rather unique name came from the way the dish is prepared.  The rice on which the sauce toppings rest is actually cooked and seasoned by itself, similar to fried rice.  Back in the day, this fried rice was already portioned in the iconic rice pots and placed in steamed cabinets.  Only when customers placed an order was the sauce toppings ladled over the rice”.

“Since the Original Steamed Fried Rice was created during a time when restaurant dining was reserved only for special occasions, Cebuanos grew up eating it.  One could say that this simple but unique dish has become Cebuano comfort food, one that evokes many a happy memory of dining with family and friends”, Mark smiles.

Dimsum in a snap!   

Although it presents dimsum dining in a more contemporary and modern setup, Dimsum Break pays homage to the traditional and authentic recipes.  The Original Steamed Fried Rice is the perfect anchor that ties together all other dimsum dishes”, proudly declares Mark who is a first-time owner/franchisee of a restaurant.

“The different varieties of Shaomai (Shrimp, Quail's Egg, Mushroom, and Bacon) are made the traditional way such that with each bite you can taste pieces of meat and shrimp.  Other steamed dimsum favorites include Chicken Feet, Empress Roll and Steamed Chicken.  These dishes are perfectly paired with Ginger Sauce and Chili Sauce, all of which are made in-house”, he points out.

“For fried dimsum, the favorites are Spring Rolls, Sweet and Sour Pork, Crab Pincers, Stuffed Shrimps, Stuffed Taro and Fried Wantons.  These dishes, on the other hand, are best enjoyed with Dimsum Break's signature Sweet and Sour Sauce”, Mark continues.

“I’ve been a fan of Dimsum Break's cuisine since I was young.  Whenever I visit Cebu, I never miss going there.  I believe Dimsum Break will be a welcome addition to Davao's dining scene, and I hope Dabawenyos and their families will learn to appreciate and love the good food that Dimsum Break is known for”, enthuses Mark.

Dimsum Break is located at the Upper Ground Floor, Gaisano Mall of Davao and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily. For inquiries, you may contact (0917)5323275.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015


“Be your best with BrainFit”
Sun.Star Davao, Sept. 26, 2015

With today’s “touch generation” and fondness for multi-tasking, we hear parents lamenting about their children’s poor focus and inattentiveness in school.

“Humans actually have naturally short attention spans. What is happening to kids nowadays is that they are just not learning the skills needed to focus when it is necessary”, says Khaisa King, a double degree graduate in BS Management and AB Psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University.

Khaisa is the Davao franchisee of BrainFit Studio, a program founded by Singapore-based clinical physiotherapist Cheryl Chia who believes that “each individual has a unique brain profile”. Aside from the Philippines, BrainFit is located in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey.

“I decided to start BrainFit in Davao because the concepts and ideas really made sense to me. I already heard about BrainFit from Singapore previously, and it was always positive with comments. Further inquiries on the company showed that it employs a well-researched and scientifically-backed approach to helping people achieve excellence, children in particular, through capitalizing on our natural brain plasticity. Brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to shape and change their connections to be more efficient in the things we think of often”, explains Khaisa.

Brain pillars

BrainFit can help by assessing each brain’s strengths and weaknesses with a CognitiveMap, an evaluation tool that determines which of the child’s five Brain Pillars need enhancement. It aids kids from 3-18 years old to maximize their brains’ potentials.

Khaisa clarifies that BrainFit is different from other after-school programs because they do not teach any content in their classes. Instead of training the kids to be better in English or Math by making them do repetitions or exercises on these specific topics, BrainFit trains the base skills of the child so they can learn better on their own.

The program operates on the concept that there are five Brain Pillars to measure the fitness of one’s brain, just like there are measures for physical fitness, and if these five pillars are fit, then one can learn and understand things faster and better, just like being physically fit makes physical activities easier. These are namely, sensory-motor; visual; auditory; focus and attention; and socio-emotional.

Enhancing base skills

BrainFit focuses on making these pillars strong through specially-designed exercises and activities so that children can comprehend and absorb their lessons as they are being taught by the teacher. With these, the program aims to develop independent learners.

“The program for sensory-motor for example helps our students have better body awareness and control,which leads to better and more legible  handwriting, better coordination to play games with friends, and the ability to sit still for longer in class, among other things. We come up with activities that engage the senses and overall muscle control of the student; therefore, there is better brain connectivity with the senses, muscles and joints. This leads to overall better sensory-motor control, a base skill that the student can then apply to all aspects of life, not just academics”, Khaisa emphasizes. 

All their other programs operate the same way, with respect to their specific brain pillars.

Stronger brain connections

BrainFit guarantees results, as long as the student follows their minimum 2-hour sessions a week (1 hour per session). Khaisa and her dynamic team assure that there will be tangible effects by the end of the recommended number of programs (20 sessions per program). Length of time depends on how often one schedules their sessions.

“We do have studies validating that improvements gained BrainFit’s programs stay with our students even after they have stopped coming to us. There are actual physical changes that happen in the brain which represent the stronger brain connections made during our program. This visibly show in behavioral changes, faster understanding, less fidgeting when sitting, better communication, etc.”, reveals Khaisa with pride.

To schedule a free trial, contact/visit BrainFit Studio at Unit 3B Bajada Plaza, J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City with telephone numbers 2242118/(0916)2478765. BrainFit will soon open their second branch in Matina, D.C.

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