mWell wins Best Initiative in Innovation from ESG Corporate Awards Singapore


By Crispina M. Belen

mWell wins Best Initiative in Innovation from ESG Corporate Awards Singapore

mWell PH by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (PSE: MPI), although barely a year old,  has made its mark in the international stage. The fastest-growing health app which provides doctor consultations and serves as a wellness guide, has won Best Initiative in Technological Innovation in The Asset ESG Corporate Awards in Singapore. 

The Asset ESG Corporate Awards is one of the world’s leading and longest-running honors in the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) space. The award recognizes excellence in corporate sustainability. 

As the Best Initiative in Technological Innovation winner, mWell has proven to have launched a first-to-market technological initiative that has taken the company to the next level.  The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) served as the framework for its entry.       

received_3228469233257484872826326701467395Manny V  Pangilinan, MPIC President, Chairman and CEO, fully supports MPIC group’s newest foray in digital healthcare. He says, “Through a collaboration with trusted health experts, mWell brings integrated digital healthcare closer to every Filipino. We are committed to empowering our countrymen to be in control of their health through innovative services.”


Chaye Cabal-Revilla, Chief Finance, Risk, and Sustainability Officer of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, says of the award: “We are deeply honored. This shall serve as an inspiration as we continue to deliver a responsive, highly convenient healthcare platform. As a globally recognized fully integrated ecosystem, we shall be the digital healthcare ally Filipinos can rely on, in every step of their wellness journey.” 

Cabal-Revilla recently became part of the Prince of Wales’ Global CFO Leadership Network and is the only Filipino and only woman to join the founding members of the A4S Asia Pacific Chapter. Supporting her in the mWell leadership team are Gary Dujali, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer and Dr. Michael Muin, Chief Technical Officer. 

24/7 Online Doctor Consultation

mWell makes sure that everyone can receive the healthcare that they need in the safety of their homes. For as low as P250 and a minimal booking fee, mWell users can talk to a doctor on call 24/7 or book an appointment at their most convenient time. A wide range of Primary Care and Specialized doctors are just a tap away—Internal Medicine Specialists, Obstetrician and Gynecologists, Pediatricians, Ophthalmologists, and more. 

Healthcare industry leaders

To provide a seamless integrated experience, mWell has partnered with leading names in healthcare, wellness, and tech industries, including CareSpan, Aktivo, Active8me, Highly Succeed and runs on fast secure payments via PayMaya.

It is backed by Primary Care and Specialized Doctors from top hospitals such as Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, De Los Santos Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, and Marikina Valley Medical Center. It has also teamed up with PhilCare to increase the number of partner-doctors nationwide. 

mWellness Score: Another PH first and exclusive 

Developed in partnership with an award-winning team of doctors and data scientists from Aktivo, the mWellness Score offers users a guide to developing a healthy physical lifestyle for long-term health, without having to spend on extra gadgets or wearables! mWell users can easily generate their daily mWellness Score by simply clicking on the mWellness Score icon on the app.

Once activated, the mWellness Score measures physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep daily, using data-driven methods. No need for a drastic lifestyle change. All it takes to improve one’s score are a few tweaks to make space for physical activity and adequate sleep regularly. 

mWell continuously strives towards becoming the integrated health and wellness platform of choice. Users simply need to download PH’s fastest-growing health app to fully enjoy its innovative features.  

As part of the MPIC Group, mWell is committed to work towards the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being. It also supports the MVP Group’s Gabay Kalusugan advocacy focusing on quality and affordable healthcare.

Download the mWell PH app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Follow mWell on Facebook and mwellph on Instagram for more updates. 

mWell, is the health technology platform developed by Metro Pacific Health Tech Corporation that offers telemedicine, health and wellness programs, e-commerce, among others, in an integrated, tech-based healthcare digital ecosystem. Metro Pacific Health Tech Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, the leading infrastructure investment company in the Philippines with investments in various infrastructure assets including healthcare.



Filipino Artist Khavn de la Cruz’ production  to Premiere in Berlin


By Crispina M. Belen

Filipino Artist Khavn de la Cruz’ production  to Premiere in Berlin


Chargé d’affaires Lillibeth V. Pono, Minister & Consul Gerardo Abiog and Vice-Consul Mina Ganzon, with the Staff of the Philippine Embassy in Berlin, welcome Filipino SMAK! artists Khvan dela Cruz, Rox Lee, Bituin Escalante, Bullet Dumas, Bong Cabrera and King Jon. (Berlin PE photo)

In partnership with the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Filipino artist, filmmaker, musician and performer Khavn dela Cruz, is set to premiere his first cross-genre stage production, “SMAK! SuperMacho AntiKristo – A Headless 100-Act Opera,” at Berlin´s most iconic theater, “Volksbühne” on April 13,2022.  The show will run until end of April 2022.  

According to the German Federal Cultural Foundation, “SMAK!” is a reflection of the artistic theory and practice of the great theatre avant-gardist of the 19th-century Alfred Jarry, juxtaposed with a literary reanimation of the unfinished novel “Makamisa” by Philippine national hero José Rizal.

The production features a mix of international artists which boasts of Filipino talents from its scriptwriters Khavn, Douglas Candano and Homer Novicio to its cast members which include singer-actor Bituin Escalante, filmmaker-cartoonist Rox Lee, singer-composer Bullet Dumas, theater actors Bong Cabrera and King Jon, and its stage and costume designer, Leeroy New. The script is also co-written by German author and musician Brezel Göring (Stereo Total) and stars the German actress Lilith Stangenberg, with artistic direction by Anna Heesen.

During the welcome dinner hosted by the Philippine Embassy for the production team, Charge d’Affaires,a.i. Lillibeth V. Pono expressed admiration for the recognition accorded in Germany to  the Filipino artists, and lauded the strong partnership between the Philippines and Germany in the field of culture and arts.

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Celebrity mothers ease their health concerns –  via the mWell PH app! 


By Crispina M. Belen

Celebrity mothers ease their health concerns –  via the mWell PH app! 

 What do celebrity-mommies like Ara Mina, Gwen Zamora, Geneva Cruz, Sunshine Cruz, Nikki Valdez, Empress Schuck, Miriam Quiambao, Nina Corpuz, Roxanne Montealegre, Divine Lee Go and Ms. Chaye Cabal-Revilla have in common these days?

Aside from making the health and safety of their families a priority during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, these serious homemakers and star mothers rely on the mWell PH app for their health and wellness needs. This new and ground-breaking app was launched barely three months ago by Manny V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments group to deliver dependable telemedicine services and expert advice straight from reliable doctors and health resources with just a tap of a finger.

With mWell, these moms know they can easily reach primary care and specialized doctors including pediatricians via mWell’s growing line-up of partner-doctors from the country’s top hospitals such as Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, De Los Santos Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital and Marikina Valley Medical Center.

Ms. Chaye Cabal-Revilla, Chief Finance & Sustainability Officer of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, is proud of the mWell Ph app because she recognizes the need for convenient healthcare for the family. She says, “I want to provide the best possible future for my daughter. As part of mWell, I am able to help moms like me receive the healthcare they deserve.”

Ara Mina

Ara Mina says, “mWell is complete. I can do doctor consultations and get fitness programs. Plus, they offer big savings also with the mWellnesss Package where we get three doctor video consultations for only P249. It’s very affordable.”

Gwen Zamora

Gwen Zamora gushes at the convenience of the mWell app. “I like how I am able to book doctor appointments anytime with the option to see a doctor right away. It gives me peace of mind and it’s very convenient!”

Geneva Cruz navigates the challenges of being a single mom with the help of the mWell app. “Being a single working mom is extra challenging especially with the pandemic. That’s why I make sure that I am healthy — physically, mentally, and emotionally so I can take care of my baby girl so much better. I can avail of doctor consultations and wellness tips for my baby and me anytime through the mWell app.”


Empress Schuck

Empress Schuck has this to say about the app: “These days, hindi natin maiiwasan ang magka-anxiety lalo na sa mga moms na busy na sa work pero kailangan pa din mag attend ng needs ng kids and family.  I’m glad there’s already an app for online consultation with trusted doctors including pediatricians for our kids.”  

Nikki Valdez finds there are now less things to worry about because of the app. “The pandemic has caused fear especially for us Moms who worry so much about our family’s health and safety. The mWell PH app has helped me reach doctors who can address my questions and understand what I’m going through.”

Miriam QuiambaoMiriam Quiambao shares the same sentiments. “Nakaka-anxious magpunta sa hospitals. Add to that, the demands of caring for a newborn and a toddler at the same time. Good thing I found mWell PH app for doctor consultations and even wellness tips.”

Divine Lee Go

Divine Lee-Go shares: “Nowadays, health is the topmost priority for our families. We all need a dependable partner like mWell PH that can connect us to doctors and give us nutrition guides and expert fitness programs in one click.”

Nikki Valdez

Nina Corpuz agrees. “As parents, we naturally worry about our kids’ health and well-being lalo na ngayon. Many of us have not seen our doctors and missed regular check-ups. mWell PH is the all-in-one app that features 24/7 video consult with any doctor, anytime.”

Sunshine Cruz

Sunshine Cruz’s discovery of the mWell PH app was such a blessing for her. She says, “It’s a relief! It’s an all-in-one app where you can find everything from doctor consultations, healthy recipes, fitness programs and more! It’s an app that moms can depend on.”

Meanwhile, Roxanne Montealegre says, “COVID isn’t the only disease out there. I’m so thankful that I discovered mWell PH app to teleconsult with doctors in just one tap.”

This holiday season, mWell PH Introduces its latest treat – the Gift of mWellness via the mWellness Subscription Package with three doctor video consultations for only P249 – that’s P1500 in savings. Moms can avail of this until December 31 with no booking fee. And if they wish to upgrade to 10 doctor video consultations, they can choose the P549 package and save as much as P5400 (until November 15 only) – valid for three (3) months.

MPIC Group is committed to work towards the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being. It also supports the MVP Group’s Gabay Kalusugan advocacy focusing on quality and affordable healthcare.

MPIC Chairman, Manny V. Pangilinan says, “MPIC group’s newest foray in digital healthcare brings healthcare closer to every Filipino.” He added that mWell is committed to providing innovative healthcare solutions through a wide and sustainable network of medical experts and services. Beyond telemedicine, Joey Lim, MPIC’s President and CEO said “mWell will be a partner in every stage of the wellness journey.”

In partnership with active8me and Aktivo, mWell offers calorie-controlled recipes developed by nutritionists and workout plans by Olympians and exercise physiologists. Soon it shall enable users to generate their mWellness Score, tracking their physical activities towards a healthier lifestyle. The app’s constantly evolving ecosystem is supported by industry and technology stalwarts including CareSpan, Telus and LotusFlare and runs on fast secure payments via PayMaya.

Download the mWell PH app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Follow mWell on Facebook and mwellph on Instagram for more updates.




A very impressive list of nominees for National Artists!


By Crispina M. Belen

A very impressive list of nominees for National Artists!

It is indeed very impressive, the list of nominees to the National Artists Award which I was able to gather around! Reading the list, I was in awe as in my mind, everyone of them are deserving of the awards for which they were nominated for. 

Since the The Order of National Artists, jointly administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), issued the call for nominations, various organizations sent in their respective nominees in the various categories. The whole country, of course, is anticipating with great enthusiasm the eventual  list of winners, considering the fact that it is being done in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was indeed very challenging, according to some organizations we talked to, just preparing the nomination requirements,  considering the health and safety protocols imposed by the government during this world-wide pandemic. But they knew that the awards will be worth all the efforts they have to exert.

Leading the race for the National Artists trophies include Eddie Garcia, Ramon Revilla, Vilma Santos,  Ligaya Amilbangsa, Raul Sunico, Shirley Halili-Cruz, Nicanor Tiongson, Pitoy Moreno, Isagani Cruz, Nemensio Miranda, Nonoy Marcelo and Joey Ayala..

Eddie Garcia was a multi-awarded actor, film director and producer who appeared in hundreds of movies and television shows. Ramon Revilla was likewise an established and awarded actor and producer who also became a noted politician. Vilma Santos, dubbed “Star for All Seasons,” was a veteran star of hundreds of movies, was multi-awarded too, and also went into public service and is currently a congresswoman. Pitoy Moreno, on the other hand, was a popular fashion designer who was dubbed the “Fashion Czar of Asia.” Since they are deceased, Garcia, Revilla and Moreno are Posthumous Awards nominees.

The coveted National Artists Awards, to be conferred by the President of the Philippines, are given to Filipinos who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts: Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film, Broadcast Arts, Architecture and Allied Arts.

Raul Sunico, Nemensio Miranda and Nicanor Tiongson have outstanding contributions to the development of Philippine Arts. Sunico, an award-winning pianist and former CCP President, was also former dean of UST Conservatory of Music. Miranda is a famous painter and sculptor from Angono, Rizal. Tiongson is a top art critic, creative writer and academician.

Shirley Halili-Cruz, Isagani Cruz and Ligaya Amilbangsa are recognized as outstanding Filipino awardees in culture and the arts. Halili-Cruz, a multi-awarded and world-class dance director and educator, is the founder and artistic director of numerous national and international projects that keep dance always dynamic. She is a TOFIL (The Outstanding Filipino) awardee In Arts and Culture. Isagani Cruz, also a TOFIL awardee, is a writer and art critic who loves narrative to the hilt and has produced plays, biographies and short stories, most of them prize-winning.

Joey Ayala

Ligaya Amilbangsa is a Filipino dancer, known for her studies and promotion of the Pangalay Dance tradition of the Southern Philippines, and also a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award. Nonoy Marcelo, who died in 2002,  was nominated as National Artist for Visual Arts. He was a cartoonist for various newspapers and tabloids before and after Martial Law. He was one of CCP’s Centennial Artists awardees In 1998. Joey Ayala, on the other hand, was a guitarist who wrote alternative songs that made him a name to reckon with in the field of music in the 1990s.

From these distinguished personalities will come the new set of National Artists!


Quartet 4:  Art at the Frontline


By Crispina M. Belen

Quartet 4:  Art at the Frontline

A very interesting art exhibition will be featured at the Shangri-La Plaza on February 1-7, 2021. 



The “Quartet” Exhibition was conceived by Ron and Bambi de Castro of The Artologist in 2017 yet. By then the couple had met four individuals well-known in their respective fields – but who also happened to be artists in their own right! 

For “Quarter: Art at the Frontline,” they bring together a top-notch ophthalmologist, the country’s foremost art critic, a seasoned lawyer who was also General Manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and a multi-hyphenated fashion designer-equestrian- businessman-educator. They are Dr. Ping Duran, Cid Reyes, Atty. Joy Rojas, and Boysie Villavicencio.

Subtitled “Art at the Frontline”, “Quartet IV” is an artistic response to the COVID-19 pandemic during which the lengthy quarantine the artworks were executed. In these trying times, art once again proves to be an artist’s first line of defense against the pandemic’s siege on the human spirit.

In a special participation is Maestro Romulo Galicano, their guest artist, for which Ron and Bambi de Castro expressed great honor. 

“Quartet IV – Art at the Frontline” will be held at Shangri-La Plaza. Exhibit runs Feb 1- 7, 2021.

A portion of the sales will be donated to the AJ Kalinga Foundation.


Introducing the 1980 Kombucha!


By Crispina M.Belen


Introducing the 1980 Kombucha!


Who doesn’t love the 80’s?

I, for one am, an  80-year-old writer who’s loving what life has in store for me – especially new things and new discoveries!

One of them is 1980 – a handcrafted raw all-natural Kombucha!

1980 Raw All-Natural Kombucha was created and bottled by the former mayor of Iriga City (and owner of Think Coffee cafe in that city), Ronald Felix Alfelor, under a new company he has formed, now that he has moved his residence  to Quezon City. To introduce his products, Ronald sent me six bottles of different flavors. They were Zesty ZINger, Jazzberry Zing, OMG!< Grape Escape, Deep Blue Sea and Apple Cinnabeach.

Not familiar with Kombucha despite being a regular green tea drinker, I was told that it was a fermented tea with a lot of health benefits. Lo and behold! the health benefits that resulted from my search online included  managing Type 2 Diabetes, providing good gut bacteria or probiotics (reminded me of Yakult!), has antioxidants, aids in weight loss, adds energy, a detox drink and many more.

As the 1980 flyer described – Kombucha is all-natural and is low in sugar, making it a healthier alternative from sugar or juice. And as each bottle of 1980 would say on its label – Boost Life with Booch!

The description follows: Raw organic kombucha is unpasteurized, naturally fermented tea containing live microorganisms that promotes good digestion and health.

1980 Kombucha is a delightfully refreshing drink infused with natural flavor combinations that will tickle your taste buds. Which I can attest to after downing the Jazzberry Zing variant which is also my first Kombucha in life!

This is Kombucha the way it was meant to be. Made by loving hands with only the best ingredients in small batches.This is what good, true and beautiful tastes like!

Interested? You can check out their IG account at 1980Kombucha or send them an email at or send them an SMS at 09175801980.

Cheers to life! Cheers to 1980 Kombucha!


Marlene dela Pena: Acclaimed Pinay jazz artist in Japan!


By Crispina M. Belen

MDLP solo

Marlene dela Pena: Acclaimed Pinay jazz artist in Japan!

Although she started her singing career in the country of her birth, the Philippines, Marlene dela Pena would find fame and popularity in an unlikely foreign land – Japan!

While in the Philippines, Marlene tried to make a name, or as they say, carve a niche, singing in music lounges like at the Calesa Bar of Hyatt Regency Hotel. But fame didn’t come to her in her country, because as fate would have it, Marlene would make it in Japan, the country she chose to be her second home. She moved to the land of the Cherry blossoms in the late 70’s.

As backgrounder, Marlene recalled that when she was young, she joined a singing contest during a fiesta, without her parents’ knowledge, surprising them with the goodies she brought home from that contest. At 10, Marlene joined Tinno Lapus’ “Eskuwelang Munti.” And at 15, she joined “Tawag ng Tanghalan.”

It was that time that a Japanese promoter offered her to go to Japan but she declined, citing for a reason the fact that she wanted to finish high school first. The talent promoter came back after three years, and as they say, the rest is history!

It wasn’t really her fondest dream to be a singer-performer, Marlene revealed to us. “I thought about singing, but most of all about finishing college and helping send my siblings to school too,” she said.

Her formal introduction to the musical stage came when she, 15, and Dulce,14, performed in a beerhouse at the foot of Jones Bridge in Escolta. Dulce would become Asia’s Diva, while Marlene would be the toast of Japan in the field of jazz!

Specializing in the pop and jazz genres, Marlene endeared herself to Japanese music lovers with her uniquely simple but engaging style of performing. Not long after introducing herself to the Japanese audience, Marlene clinched a recording deal with EMI Japan for her first single which was released in 1979.

“It was December 1978 when I landed at the Land of the Rising Sun!” Marlene recalled. After I was I introduced to the people in the music industy in Japan, I got my recording contract with Toshiba-EMI. I was marketed as an idol singer with my debut single ‘Love Me,’ composed by Tsutsumi Kyohei. Few more singles followed. I was also fortunate to do a commercial song for Seiko watch Credor, became a poster model for Blue Jean’s UFO. I also was asked to sing the theme song of Tatum O’Neal’s ‘Ganbare Bears’ for NTV4. I was also featured in magazines along with some of the most popular idols of the time!”

She added that two years later, the big break came when Sony’s top producer Ito Yasohachi, approached her personally. After talking to her manager, Ito offered her to be one of his artists. Six months later, she was working on her very first album, “Just Like First Love” which had 32,000 copies reserved even before press time. From then on, she was recording albums twice a year!

Marlene remains a contract artist of CBS Sony, now Sony Music Entertainment, till today. In 1983, two of her albums appeared on the Oricon Charts, with “Deja Vu” reaching No. 8, and “Magic” reaching No. 5. Each of the albums sold over 150,000 copies, not bad for a relatively new artist in Japan.

So far, Marlene has recorded 31 albums, five of them Gold Records. In the United States, she was known for her ” Stay With Me” album that climbed to No. 28 in the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart in the 90’s.

Marlene worked with Seawind with whom she recorded her second album “Summer Night” in Los Angeles, California in 1982. Her sixth album, “Looking for Love,” was also recorded in LA, in 1984. Another album, “This Time,” was recorded in New York in 1987.

Significantly, Marlene has earned the reputation of being the highest-paid Pinay jazz artist in Japan. Aside from singing, she has also dabbled into acting, appearing in two Japanese movies: “Nantonaku” in 2007; and “Karanukan” in 2017. Marlene was also the subject of “Mundo ni Juan sa Japan,” a TV film documentary made in 2015.

Her hit song in 1986, “Left Alone,” was used as the theme song for the Kadokawa movie “Cabaret.” The song was composed by Mal Waldron with lyrics by Billie Holiday.

Among Marlene’s most memorable and successful performances and/or concerts include her debut stint at the Carnegie Hall in New York City In February 2, 2019. Another unforgettable show is her 2019 sold-out dinner show with THREESOME at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati. It was attended by the Who’s Who in Philipine society including Bongbong Marcos and few Ambassadors.

THEEESOME was the trio created by Marlene that included prominent musicians – accomplished guitarist Jiro Yoshida and acclaimed pianist Makoto Kuriya.

Yoshida Jiro is Japan’s 51st UN WAFUNIF Goodwill Ambassador for various humanitarian efforts. He is also a music producer for National Geographic Channel. He has also performed with a number of famous singers like Barbra Streisand, Cyndi Lauper and Sting, etc.

Makoto Kuriya is also a music producer never had a formal music education. He is very well known and very much respected in Europe ! He’s a well sought music director for both TV programs in Japan .

Another memorable concert that Marlene was part of was the “George Benson and Friends,” at Axis Theater, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas. Held on January 8, 2019, it featured George Benson, Patti Austin, Robert Duvall and Marlene.

Marlene was also a special guest at the State Dinner for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte held at the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s residence in May 2019.

As it did to all of us, the COVID-19 pandemic also affected Marlene. “It was both bad and good for me,” she said. “Good because I got to become a full time mother to my children, aged 13 and 16. Bad because I was out of income…until September last year when things got better.”

With the pandemic, things went “crazy and unpredictable. But I have to live with it; I knew worrying won’t take me anywhere. I just have to let things be and move on!”

Knowing too that she’s luckier than most, Marlene also embarked on her own charity work when she turned 60 last January 4, 2020. She pledged to help about 150 relocated families in Davao del Sur affected by the consecutive earthquakes through a water support for life. She called it “Sweet 60 Project.” As part of it, she celebrated her birthday with children afflicted with cancer at the House of Hope in Davao,

Marlene also gave away shoes and bags to displaced pupils of Tagaytay Elementary School. In her charitable endeavors, she was assisted by a sister, a brother and a cousin. As to why, she personally involved herself, she said “I wanted to give the gifts from my hands to theirs!”

As to her personal info, Marlene was born on January 4, 1960 in Sta. Ana, Manila and studied at Sta. Ana Elementary School, then finished secondary school at Villamor High School. For college, she studied at Centro Escolar University.

A single mother of two, Marlene’s American husband died in June 2019.

Marlene is now working on a new CD, to be released sometime this year. On a positive note, Marlene said with great enthusiasm: “I’m looking to a NEW me in the years to come!”


GMA programs and personalities win top honors


By Crispina M. Belen

GMA programs and personalities win top honors

GMA Network, the country’s leading  broadcast company, continues to receive accolades with its various programs and personalities winning honors from various award-giving bodies.

Asia’s Pop Diva and The Clash Master Julie Anne San Jose won big at this year’s Aliw Awards after being named “Entertainer of the Year” and “Best Rhythm and Blues Artist, “ another notable feat she can add to her growing achievements. On the other hand, The Clash Journey hosts Rita Daniela and Ken Chan took home the “Best Featured Performance” award for their number at the “Two-gether Again” concert. 

Earning the nod as “Best Male Host” was Kapuso actor Derrick Monasterio. Fast-rising singer Golden Cañedo received the “Best New Female Artist” award, while comedian and TV host Donita Nose was chosen as the “Best Stand-Up Comedian.”

Louie Ignacio

The Clash director Louie Ignacio was inducted into the Aliw Hall of Fame for “Best Concert Stage Director” after winning the said award for the fifth time.

‘Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit’ director Laurice Guillen was given the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” while her daughter, professional actor, distinguished classical performer, and acting coach Ana Feleo was recognized as “ Best Classical Performer.”

At the recently concluded Paragala: The Central Luzon Media Awards, GMA News and Public Affairs dominated the News and Current Affairs category.

24 Oras

The Network’s flagship newscast, “24 Oras,” was hailed once again as “Best News Program.” This is the seventh time “24 Oras” was given the award, making it the only newscast to win the recognition since Paragala was launched.

Top-notch documentary program “I-Witness” won the “Best Documentary” for Kara David’s episode “Silaki” while travel and adventure program “Biyahe ni Drew” received the “Best Magazine Show” award.

Six out of Paragala’s Top 7 News Personalities also came from GMA. These included GMA News pillars Mike Enriquez, Mel Tiangco, and Arnold Clavio, as well as award-winning broadcast journalists Kara David, Ivan Mayrina, and Atom Araullo.

Various Kapuso shows also received special awards by various Paragala juries.

Pepito Manaloto

‘iJuander’ was given this year’s Paragala Pang Kultura, which was chosen by the Center for Kapampangan Studies. Earning the Paragala Pampamilya award was ‘Pepito Manaloto’ as it was the Jury’s choice of Holy Angel University’s Campus Ministry and Guidance Office. Infotainment show ‘AHA!,’ on the other hand, received the Paragala Pang-Likhaan as decided by the Communicator’s League, the official organization of the Holy Angel University’s Communication students.

Meanwhile, at the 10th EdukCircle Awards, Asia’s Multimedia Star Alden Richards and Phenomenal Star Maine Mendoza were recognized as part of the Most Influential Celebrities of The Decade for their impact among the audience and using their platform for social good. Continue reading →

Sushmita Sen remains firm on the essence of being a woman after 26 years,

discusses women’s empowerment with Filipina business leaders


TaskUs Vice President of Finance Rosanna Arceo, upper left; TaskUs Senior Vice President of Operations Jean Lim-Parlade, lower left; and Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen

The first Miss Universe from India engages with women executives in a TaskUs web series raising awareness on gender equality and uplifting fellow women

Sushmita Sen has been a cultural icon and a paragon for women across the globe since winning the Miss Universe crown in 1994. Today, she remains firm in her advocacy as she joins global business leaders in speaking about their experiences as women in leadership roles in a web series entitled TaskUs 121: Women on Spotlight.

Through the years, the Indian actress, poet, and philanthropist broke barriers and lived a life not weighed down by dated societal expectations on women. She is proud to have broken through the glass ceiling––a proverbial metaphor for the barrier that prevents women from reaching their full socio-economic potential—and encourages other women to follow suit.

Sen, famous for her winning answer to the question, “What is the essence of being a woman?” is thrilled to be part of the web series and determined to use her influence to amplify women’s voices on pressing issues.

“In the twenty-six years that I have spent after that moment, I still stick to my answer: A woman is a precious gift of God, and we should all appreciate her. At 18, I answered that question, and it has taken me twenty-six years to understand its true meaning, and I’ve lived it,” said Sen.

The online talk show features women leaders from different fields coming together to discuss the advantages of having more women in leadership positions. It looks into how diverse and inclusive workplace cultures create sustainable communities.

TaskUs is the leading outsourcing provider for high-growth organizations. The company has massive global operations with key delivery centers in India, the Philippines, Taiwan, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, and the United States.

The term “121” is a play on words referring to TaskUs’s one-on-one coaching sessions between leaders and their reports.

“TaskUs is committed to creating diverse and inclusive work environments that respect everyone’s unique abilities and cultures. We aim to achieve a gender-balanced workforce that is free from discrimination and enables women to succeed and participate in leadership. Our company is built on global diversity and we see our strong culture of inclusion as one of our key indicators of success,” said TaskUs CEO Bryce Maddock.

Maddock has been recognized by HR tech company Comparably as one of the Best CEOs for Women, and TaskUs as a Best Company for Women.

The Philippines has made progressive strides in terms of gender equality in the workplace, and TaskUs is committed to strengthening that leadership, and improving existing statistics: while 47.7% of working age Filipino women participate in the workforce, they remain to be underrepresented in senior leadership positions.

“TaskUs is committed to increasing and improving representation for women in leadership roles, especially in the Southeast Asia region. I am proud to say that 75% of my direct reports are women and that I work with women colleagues who are key decision-makers in the organization. As we continue to grow, we also strive to reach a gender-balanced talent pipeline for our emerging high-growth and leadership roles,” said TaskUs Senior Vice President for Operations in Southeast Asia Jean Lim-Parlade.

The web series brings out insights of leaders who act as the company’s cultural heralds and gatekeepers. Its mission is to inspire women to take space, advance in positions of leadership, and pave the way for others to succeed—values that set TaskUs apart from its competitors and make up the company’s “ridiculously good” culture.

Similar to how TaskUs sees its women talent as key to its success, Sushmita Sen believes it is time for society to be aware of female strength.

“Male dominance is a perception. That perception is fueled by the fact that women have accepted it because our conditioning has taught us that,” she said.

“Human beings have tremendous potential. If you were to put a man and woman together, faceless, without knowing their gender, to sit down in an exam to get into an organization, you’ll be very impressed to see how many women actually make it.

“To get over our biases is one of the most important ways to be better and thrive as a society,” added Sen.

Episodes of TaskUs 121: Women on Spotlight are exclusively featured on TaskUs’s LinkedIn account.

‘See You This Christmas;’ Another meaningful song from Nicole Laurel Asensio


By Crispina M. Belen

‘See You This Christmas;’ Another meaningful song from Nicole Laurel Asensio

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I couldn’t help but admire with all my soul and  might singer-songwriter Nicole Laurel Asensio for being so creative during the pandemic. While others succumbed to the anxiety and stress of  the situation, Nicole spend her time productively – using her gift of music from God!

In sharing how the song came into fruition, Nicole said she couldn’t help thinking: “Over months, we have taken to new realizations and revelations of the soul. Some who had never touched a wooden spoon before have now become masters of the oven. Some have noticed that office hours have multiplied as work extended far past cubicle confines. Blazers paired with boxers have become a fashion statement, Some slept and slept and slept cashing in on years of sleepless nights from once working tirelessly. Some, a brave few, our front-liners, have stayed on, fighting for us. After all, it was like we were in a backwards war, where the enemy was invisible and constantly around us and the only way to care for those we loved was to keep our distance and wear masks that hid our smiles from them.”

“But what of those who have gone all these long months without holding the ones they loved? What of those who have gone many nights expressing their innermost desires and intimate moments through lenses and screens? What of those who had to bid a loved one farewell through an iPad? What of wearing a mask under a shield, inside a car? What of those who lost everything they once owned and were left with how’s and why’s? What about those of us who sat here waiting this whole time for someone to return and bring back a sense of the holiday spirit we were used to somehow?”

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But she snapped out of it, reprimanding herself as she said “pull it back, Nicole, there is much to be grateful for… tragedies happen every year, don’t they?” But somehow this year was different for so many of us, because because it happened to so many of us, in so many different ways.”

It was well into November 2020 and she was wondering why she was putting up a tree when it was more than obvious that she wasn’t feeling very festive. “I think I’ll stop for now, maybe try decorating again tomorrow.” 

It was in the shower, humming randomly of a melody she said, when she thought of all the people and opportunities she missed dearly, maybe even places she would have traveled to by now if not for the virus.  

“It’s been a long, long year waiting, pushing our dreams aside… sitting by windows commiserating, waiting for the city lights to come alive. Indeed, many dreams were shelved for now. But I couldn’t help but feel like despite it all, I was exactly where I needed to be. There is, after all, a reason for everything…..pick yourself up,’ I thought. The melody continued just as the hot running water built a faint steam. 

“Minus the fanfare, commercial craziness and lauded efforts we make to celebrate December…. What truly was the meaning of Christmas after all? Wasn’t it about giving HIM thanks, praise and glory for all he has done for us? And in that light, therefore, being kind to others, giving and  forgiving? 

“We’ll revel in the love of our savior above, ‘Goodbye Blue December, Hello, love.’

“Even if we recount everything the pandemic took away from us… and were left with our hearts quiet, perhaps, we could still celebrate the true meaning of Christmas without the fanfare.”  

After fifteen minutes,  the song was done. The steam cleared from the room, Nicole cleared away the lump in her throat, lit a candle, poured two small glasses of whiskey and tapped Ira Cruz on the shoulder. “I think I have a Christmas themed song. Would you like to help me navigate through the melody and chords?”

After she and Ira had made a simple demo, Nicole called her friend, a talented musical director and arranger, Nikko Rivera. Nikko and his wife would often have pre-Christmas dinners with her, and “I missed them dearly and thought it would only be right to ask him to arrange my simple composition.”

This time around there were some limitations, Nicole realized. She was working on a very conservative out-of-pocket budget, no recording sessions in public spaces and so “we each made use of our resources safely at home. We rounded up a collective of five savvy musicians with home set-ups to carry out my simple sultry tune. Lawrence Nolan on drums, Simon Tan on upright bass, Nikko Rivera on keys, Michael Guevarra on flute and Lester Sorilla, who after rigid protocols came over to record in my attic. The recording went smoothly and was complete in two days, then sent to Angee Rozul for mixing and Abbey Road Studios UK for mastering.”

Nicole knew that going big on production didn’t make sense at this time, and for an independent, self-produced artist, it also has its challenges following protocols. “So, we kept it simple with The Gward Inc’s most skeletal crew and shot the music video solo in a friend’s home. At this point I was just truly grateful that friends from different corners of the industry would chime in and help. The production was intimate, generous and heartfelt, My dresses were borrowed, my makeup was done by my classmate back in college, the location was lent by a friend… and I would just smile in my quiet moments, thankful and teary eyed because the people around me just gave and gave and I had no reason not to feel the spirit of Christmas. They gave pieces of their time and talent to make this project mean something to those who could not be with their loved ones this Christmas.

After the shoot, they had four days to edit and get the materials out into the airwaves. Nicole said “ I trudged back into the steamy shower (where I get most my ideas) tired, but fulfilled. As dawn creeped in I lit a candle and thought of my father in heaven, those friends who were also up there looking down at our crazy world, ex lovers who’d never know how much has changed in the years between us… and took a deep breath and thought. “We’re getting through… we’re doing it right…. We’re okay… by God’s grace, we’re okay…. And we’re exactly where we need to be.” 

We’re all a little broken, but strangely enough, we’re all a little stronger and hopefully, smarter too. We’re less about the decor and wrappers and more about the stuff inside, everything we’ve learned this year. After all, one way or another we have all survived something this year, we have all changed somehow, whether we choose to admit it or not. 

“Moving forward into 2021, one day we might celebrate with all the fanfare again. Life might slip back into the comforts we once knew, life as we knew it… But I hope we remember that we didn’t really need all of that glaze to draw meaning from a Covid-time Christmas, and that Christmas has not lost its meaning, but probably means more now.

“One day we will share our special Christmas, and If I get lucky, then I’ll never let you go. If Christmas is the season for giving love, I will always love you more than you’ll ever know.”

“See you this Christmas.”