Inaugural Santa Maria Music and Film Festival Slated December 2

Monday, November 27, 2023


Looks like all roads lead to Santa Maria, Laguna as the first ever Santa Maria Music and Film Festival happens this December 2, 2023. "Bayan ng Santa Maria" as known to most of it's inhabitants, is a developing municipality in the south possessing some of the most unparalleled views of magical Mount Banahaw, Mount Cristobal and Laguna de Bay. 

Performers will include the Santa Maria Dance Troupe (the town's pride!), acoustic phenoms Miro Valera and Jeff Bolivar who will have a few sessions in between films. The festival will be showcasing 7 short films that will be done from 3PM to 7PM, all from different categories. Over 20 short film entries were sent to then shortlisted to 13, then 7. These are entries from all over the world made by students, amateurs, directors, film makers and content creators which certainly would be interesting to see.

Out of all the entries, these 7 have been selected for the festival:

The Vibe Operator
Bitter Brownies
Life Savers
Searching for Chunk
Till the Music Stop
Dream On
I Can Do Anything: A Letter to Burning Man

The location for the event will be at the top of Sierra Madre, so moving to and from the tent venues will involve a little hiking. They also highly encourage for you to bring refillable bottles/tumblers for water at refilling stations for hydration. No plastic bottles please!

For those who plan to have accommodation or want to know about transportation arrangements, please check their website to know more about the festival. Tickets are free but register first via as seats do run out fast.

Tip: Take lots of photos, bring cold weather protection, enjoy the art installations and different spots at the Santa Maria Music and Film Festival. Bring friends and enjoy movies, music, culture and art all in one place! 

This event is supported by Wearzitee, The place will also be housing World Cup Cafe soon. See you at the festival!


NOVOTEL Manila Araneta City Starts The Merriest Celebration for All

This Christmas is going to be a little different at Novotel Manila Araneta City as they start festivities and make this "The Merriest Celebration For All". At the lobby of the hotel, they set up one of the nicest trees last week and invited the media and special guests to sing Christmas carols and tell us what they have been doing in the past few years especially during the pandemic.

Hotel GM Maria Manlulu Garcia says "We at Novotel Manila Araneta City are truly excited to have you and your loved ones. This is the opportune time to be together and make lasting memories especially with family and friends. We will make sure Novotel throws the Merriest Celebration for All and become your home away from home."

At Food Exchange Manila, they will be having several specials including Holiday Sunday Brunch, Christmas Eve Dinner, Noche Buena, Christmas Day Brunch and Dinner, a New Years Eve Dinner Buffet and New Year's Day Brunch and Dinner Buffet. At the Monet Grand Ballroom, both Christmas Eve and the New Year's Eve Dinner Countdown (Glitz and Glamour theme) will have live entertainment, something the whole family would enjoy!

The 6th Manila will also offer the Merriest Party package to bring a less fuzz and more enjoyment for your celebrations on these dates. Their crowd favorite Indulge Gelato will also be dishing out new holiday creations like the Zuppa Inglese, Blue Snow and Torrone. For the Italian flair, they've got home made Panettone in Dark Chocolate Raisin and Ube varieties that you can take home, and enjoy with a cup of coffee at home. Don't forget the Macarons, and Bacarons, it'll be a lovely way to end your holiday runs. They do that quite excellently. Novotel Manila Araneta City also offers holiday hampers via Take Me Out by Novotel so you don't have to worry about gifting family or friends as the selections are a sight to behold.

Staying at Novotel Manila Araneta City also have special rates, even better if you are AccorPlus members. Give them a ring or email if you want to be part of that too. If you have kids in tow, they have holiday activities for them while you enjoy the gym or InBalance Spa for a little pampering.  

During the event, they had the executive from J. Amado Araneta Foundation Inc. go in front to talk about their organization. He was also presented with a donation, from all the employees of Novotel Manila Araneta City. He says "More than the monetary value that they shared, it's the gesture and sacrifice they gave for giving their own vacation and leave credits for the benefit of the communities, programs we supervise." which was very touching to do. They also talked about the hardships they went through during the pandemic where the hotel and tourism industry was not spared. Their employees made sacrifices during those times to keep the business running, til they opened regular operations again. It was certainly inspiring to see that it was appreciated much to this day.

For folks that want to celebrate the holidays the Merriest Way for All, get in touch with Novotel Manila Araneta City through their social channels, their official website or call + 632 8 990 7888 to book a spot. They have the Merriest Celebration for All, and they do it while seriously inspiring us with these deeds.


Differently Executed: John Woo's SILENT NIGHT in PH Theaters on the 29th

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Nathan Studios has a gem up their sleeve with this new PH released John Woo movie called Silent Night. It's an action packed film, created quite differently than usual ones because of how it's made, as it's suggests, it's all silent.  John Woo gleefully placed his different action ballet shots, that will surely be loved by action fans in the Philippines, and worldwide. I'm sure your Dad, Tito, Kuya would need a break from the usual romcom in cinemas and give this a few hours to watch with the whole family. 

You'll be amazed at how this story of a man out for vengeance for his child will be told. Right at the start, the story gives you the feeling that it has heart. The usual suburb Mom and Dad playing in the yard with their son. Yes, the scenes always had family involved. Gang wars erupt, and one gets hit in the crossfire. He starts his long grueling time to recover, train and realize what he's up against. You'll feel the agony on screen in the first few minutes. With his wife also worried about him, he suffered further and became a drunkard staring mostly on what his son had left in his room, the memories and pain he felt was just insurmountable. This caused a rift with his wife, and everyone else in his life. He took off and sought the gang members one by one, and doesn't hold back.

If you're a gamer, the events in this movie reminds me so much of GTA5. It's got firepower, the goons, the gangs, and the fun starts with a huge car chase in the streets. Think of it as your dream sequence where you hold the armaments, where you think of gruesome ways to eliminate the bad guys til the end of the movie. The drama was quite minimal, aimed to only solidify the story's plot and wouldn't ruin the action scenes that John Woo wanted you to see from the very beginning, I'd say this is a showcase of his genius.

If your thirsty for action, make sure to make this part of your movie watching session on the 29th. Yes there are a couple of movies coming out on that date, but if you have the time, you SHOULD see this. After all, it's been a while since the last time John Woo released a film. Thanks to Nathan Studios, you've got the chance to watch it in the Philippines. Actually, they have a few more lined up in the pipeline and each of them are quite different theme wise. It's quite a refreshing thing to see that we have choices in the cinemas now. I can't wait to see the other films that Nathan Studios still have for next year!


URC Remains on Top for Filipino Consumers

Looks like the classic products from Universal Robina Corporation are getting the nod of Filipino consumers especially in fast moving consumer goods available in the market. This includes Great Taste coffee, placing 9th in FMCG according to Kantar's Brand Footprint study which was done in 2022. They have placed 4th most chosen one in 2021, a huge improvement also happened from being in 15th in FMCG ranking.

Kantar employs consumer reach points (CRP) which measurement depends on shoppers buying habits and what brand it is. In it Great Taste performed well with 424 Million CRP this year compared to 283 Million last year. 75.8 percent is big, and being chosen for over 20 times per annum is a remarkable number.

If you've been out in groceries like me, you've probably seen their new products too as part of their expansion. The GT Supreme line includes the Toffee Hazelnut and the Black Forest Latte (which I love!).

Aside from that, cult loved snack Piattos and C2 also got include in the top 20 food brands in the Philippines. The chip got 7th place with a whopping 183 Million CRP's while the tea drink got 16th place from last year's 19th place. This also got sold with 74 Million CRP's, which is quite a significant amount (but we're not surprised because it's that good!). This feat has been acknowledged by Pearl Benjamin who's a Senior Account Manager for Kantar Worldpanel. URC continues to also grow in the ASEAN region, and is also releasing products for consumers.

Congratulations URC! You're awesome!