Monday, November 12, 2012



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cheap Sashimi in Scarborough

This sashimi, with 8 slices cost $4.99 at Oriental Food Mart at Alton Towers Circle in Scarborough. It actually tastes good and last for two days. I bought 4 trays on December 24 and lasted until December 26.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jen Arellano

Jen Arellano (ON THE RIGHT) and her co-worker kept their  friendliness and upheld their good service even with the deluge of rush hour lunch at the Mang Inasal branch at Hidalgo and Quezon Blvd. My compliments to the servers on this location. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dianne Dumalag

Dianne attended the debut of Rachelle Perez where she graciously posed for this picture when I asked her.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jacket - Made in the Philippines

I bought the materials here in Toronto, total around $60.00. The labor in the Philippines, is $40.00. We'll see how it fits when it gets here.


Toronto becoming a battleground for Philippine Network War

Throwdown in Toronto
There is a Food Network TV show called “Bobby Flay Throwdown” where  star chef Bobby Flay challenges a chef, or restaurant owner that he can make a better delicacy that the chef or restaurant owner is famous for. Then, two judges decide which tastes better. Well, we have something similar to that her in summer. The two biggest Philippine networks will bring their biggest stars to date in competing festivals.

So far, GMA has announced Carla Abellana, Francheska Farr and Arnell Ignacio. 
As of this writing, ABS has countered by announcing that they are bringing Billy Crawford, Kay Brosas, Vina Morales, Christian Bautista, Angeline Quinto, Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz. 
By the looks of it, ABS seems to have the advantage. But it is still too early in the game. GMA just might be playing a waiting game. 
GMA has partnered with Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Toronto for the Pinoy Fiesta festival which will be held in June. 
ABS had partnered with Philippine Independence Day Council for the Kapamilya Mabuhay festival which willbe held in July. 
When there was only one festival before, which was the Mabuhay, either network (whoever was the sponsor at that time) can bring whoever was  available from their stable of stars to the festival. It did not have to be an A-list star. Any showbiz actor or actress from the Philippines was good enough. With two festivals, the two networks will be fighting for attention. They need to attract more attention than the other because a lot more is at stake. GMA, a late-entrant to the international scene is trying to grab market share of the oveseas Filipinos for much-needed dollars. 
In this case, let the Filipino comunity be the judge.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Showbiz Fever starting to Pick up in Toronto

Showbizlandia Again
The year is beginning on a glamorous note. This month, there was Jovit Baldovino and  Yeng Constantno and Piolo Pascual. All were successful. In April, Jenifer Camacho carries the flag for local artists.  Next, Martin Nievera and Sarah Geronimo are coming. But before that, there is Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera.
Jenifer Camacho

TORONTO - Kuh Ledesma’s protests in the Philippines about foreign singers performing in the month of February was not well-received by some Filipino singers themselves. Some said they did not need potection. The spectacularly successful concert combination of Martin Nievera and Sarah Geronimo, known as the Concert King and Queen of the Philippines proved that point. The Valentine’s concert was received with great reviews from critics and audience alike. It was so successful that Concert Impresario Joselito Ronquillo has already booked the pair to perform here in Toronto this year. No date and place has been given yet during the announcement on facebok.
Sarah performed here last year to an appreciative capacity crowd.  Sarah’s successful concert here last year was also brought by Ronquillo. The combination of these two is bound to create more excitement never seen before. No date and place has been announced yet for the two this year.
However, there seems to be another concert that popped out involving Martin Nievera also, but with Gary Valenciano. It is on May 28 at John Bassett Theatre by JREM Productions. Hmmm...will people save money to watch a yet-unscheduled Martin-Sarah or will they shell out money now for this Martin-Gary concert?

This month, two young stars performed for the first time here - Jovit Baldovino and Yeng Constantino. Nevertheless, both stars have been met enthusiastically in the United States. Jovit has even told of stories being met warmly by fellow kababayans in his travels abroad to different countries.
Yeng Constantino has a common sense approach to her music. Known as a rocker, she does sing other songs which she knows are popular with the crowd. 
“Hindi naman puwedeng laging rock ang kantahin ko sa show,” when asked why she sings non-rock songs in the TV show Music Update Live. She also says that the producers also ask her to sing other songs. Expect her to sing a mixture of genre at her concert this month with Jovit.
Piolo Pascual also performed to Toronto fans. Piolo has prbably been here a couple of times in the past but I cannot be sure when or where. I saw some posters in the past in Filipino stores advertising his concert in some nondescript halls in areas like Brampton. However, his time, he performed at the Jane Bassett Theatre in Toronto.
A day before the concert, the promoters had a meet-the-fan promotion at Max’s Fried Chicken at Steeles and Dufferin. It was pandemonium. Without a TV network at our disposal, facebook and tweeter has become our medium by which we learn about up-to-the second details. It is also a way for promoters to announce that Piolo is here. That way, last-minute concert-goers will be persusaded to buy tickets. People have been burned before when they bought tickets early and the artist  did not appear and the producer cannot be found.

However, not to be overlooked early this month is our local artist Jenifer Camacho at the Capitol Theatre. I have always been a fan of Jenifer since I heard her sing more than 10 years ago at Earl Bales Park with her band. Nowadays, I hear her perform at birthdays, debuts, organization and community events. It’s her choice of songs that make her so watchable. She sings songs that are popular, ones that you are familiar with. 

Sometimes, a concert just pops out of the blue. These concerts are usually sponsored by a private company like Forex Cargo. They may be free or not.  The two big networks Kapuso’s GMA-7 and Kapamilya’s ABS-2 and may also hold free concerts with their exclusive artists. These concerts are ususally timed when none of their artists are performing here that is being produced by a local producer. They make sure that they are not too close to the date of the concert of the promoter. They also do not announce them ahead of time or advertise at the same time with the promoter.

NIcole Ornales

Nicole is the daughter of Roland and Catalina.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rudy Castro Passes Away

Dear Friends,

This is to inform everyone of the untimely death of our friend and photographer Rudy Castro yesterday.

Further information will be announced soon.

Our sincere condolence and deepest sympathy to his family!

Let us include him in our prayers

Eternal rest grant unto his soul, Oh Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon him, and may he rest peace, amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Touch of Glamour

Dinner parties held at public halls needs a program and a program is not complete without a singer

TORONTO - I accompanied 12-year old singer Maria Panaligan, her mom Genelie and dad Sherwyn to a singing engagement for the 50th birthday of Roland Ornales at Quiapo Quiapo. 
I asked Genelie if they know the celebrant. She said they don’t. It was family friend Philip Beloso who gave their number to Sunshine Asuncion - the daughter of  Quiapo Quiapo’s owner Bob Asuncion - who then called them to ask if Maria can sing at the party. 
Somebody told Maria’s mom, that a party is a bit dry or not complete if there is no featured singer. 
I have never given the presence of a singer in special events much thought until that night. 
I attend events, somebody sings and then everybody can’t wait for the dancing to begin that nobody dances anyway. 
At Ernie and Cris’s Peralta’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, their grand-daughter Karen Muere sang   a number for them. Another girl, Monica Yang also sang. 
There may be other performances that can be presented in a celebration but singing is on the top of the list. You can have a dance number or probably magic tricks (CHILDREN’S PARTY) but what gets people’s attention is a singer.
It’s probably, because Filipinos love singing and we love it more if the singer is really good.  
Or probably because the presence of a singer while eating reminds you of the  past when eating at expensive clubs was a classy affair.  And  clubs always have a singer who performs while you eat. They are the glamour factor. Think Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie The Fabulous Baker Boys. 
The grande dame of singers in the community is Josie de Leon. She is usually invited by community organizations like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Toronto to sing at their events.  
Anyway, the next time you are at a dinner party, think how the night would be if there was no featured singer. 
Imagine eating, then cake cutting, then going straight to line dancing the macarena or the chicken dance. 
Local singers add a touch of glamour and class to any occasion.        

Nicole Ornales

Nicole Ornales takes a time to pose for a picture at her dad Roland Ornels's 50th birthday party at Quiapo Quiapo.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A winning smile

Maria Teresa Panaligan flashes a winning smile.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


To everyone, singles and those with special someone, may you have a happy Valentine every day of your lives.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone in 2011.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Videoke (Video & Karaoke) Kings and Queens

Videoke kings and queens

videoke_2Filipinos are passionate about singing. Perhaps this is why singing contests have become a fixture in town fiestas, mall shows and   TV programs.  Many Filipinos enjoy singing so much that it has become the No. 1 form of entertainment in most parties, programs and gatherings.
The birth of the videoke has given many Pinoys an opportunity to belt their heart (ang lungs) out.   A lot of Pinoys are shy and soft-spoken but are somehow irresistibly drawn to the videoke.   More often than not, a Pinoy sets  aside his shyness the moment he clutches the microphone and sees the lyrics of a favorite song flashed on the TV or videoke monitor.

Karaoke to videoke
Karaoke is actually a fusion of two Japanese words. "Kara" is derived from the Japanese word “Karappo” which means empty. "Oke," on the other hand, is short for “Okesutura” which means orchestra.  Thus,karaoke actually means "empty orchestra.”
Based on my research, the karaoke can be traced as far back as 30 years ago in the city of Kobe, one of the three biggest cities in Kansai, Japan.  However, others claim that the concept existed long before that.  An article I read mentioned that in the 1970s, a US-based company called AudioSynTrac distributed sing-along tapes and audio equipment.  The attention of several Japanese electronics companies was caught when the products were featured at computer and electronic shows. The Japanese copied theconcept and developed what we call now the karaoke.  For the first 20 years, the karaoke machine was solely available in Japan. It gradually entered the larger market and in no time, the karaoke become a worldwide hit.
Until today, there seems to be no definitive answer to the question “Who invented the first karaoke machine?”  I came across an article naming Daisuke Inoue, a Japanese national as its inventor.   Ironically, this man can neither sing nor read music.  He was able to build 11 prototype machines, outfitted with amplifiers and background music. His crucial mistake was not being able to patent them before their release. On the other hand, another  source states that a Filipino inventor named Roberto del Rosario now holds the patent for the karaoke machine following a court battle with a Japanese company claiming the rights to the same system. Del Rosario’s patents were given in 1983 and 1986.
The word videoke was said to have been coined in the Philippines in the 1990s. Videoke is a modern adaptation of the karaoke because of the incorporation of video and music.  On the video, the music clearly plays on the background while the videoke singer sings along, following the lyrics displayed on the monitor. The singer can easily follow the lyrics as he or she is guided by a moving cursor and changing text colors.
Videoke is a huge favorite  as a form of entertainment in many Philippine celebrations and even during ordinary days.  You don’t have to be a professional singer to be able to sing using the videoke.  Whether in tune or off key, majority of Pinoys never get tired of singing via videoke.
The fun thing about the videoke is the score it gives the singer after rendering a song. The highest score one can get is 100. Sometimes, family and friends use the scoring system to good-naturedly compete with one another.  Based on personal observation, a good singing voice is not necessary to get a high score. Timing is what is essential.  As long as you sing on cue (following the moving cursor or changing text colors) then you can expect a good score.
videokeWanna-be entrepreneurs capitalized on the popularity of the videoke by renting out portable videoke machines to private parties and small establishments.  Restaurants and stores locate thevideoke machine where customers can drop coins (usually five pesos), after which they can  choose a song from a list with a corresponding number code, which they then press on the machine for the music to begin playing.  For private parties, the machine is rented out for a fixed rate for a certain number of hours.
It has become so famous that videoke bars, also known as KTV (karaoke TV) bars, quickly mushroomed around the country. Many videoke bars also serve food and drinks.  Most offer individual air-conditioned rooms with comfortable sofas and tables for small groups of people at an hourly charge. Each room is equipped with a TV, set of microphones and a list of songs to choose from. Customers can order food and drinks and spend the night singing to their hearts content.
I’ve been to a KTV bar and it was really a fun experience. I enjoyed watching my friends sing but I must confess that I did not sing a single song no matter how hard my friends coaxed me to. Hypothetically speaking, if 90% of Filipinos love videoke singing, I must say I belong to the 10% who don’t.  Not that I don’t like to sing. I do. I like singing when no one else is around but I don’t have the guts to impose my off-key singing on a crowd.  Honestly,  I can barely sing “Happy Birthday” in tune, let alone a full song.
Magic mic
Technology has its way of improving almost everything around us.  Television, computers, and mobile phones, for example,  have gone through amazing changes. Previously bulky and hefty, they are now available in compact and lightweight versions.
The first change is from karaoke to videoke. More recently, the big and bulky videoke machine has been revolutionized to one single microphone, also known as the "karaoke magic mic.” Imagine a single microphone equipped with a microchip loaded with 800 or more songs! Newer versions with bigger memory can carry thousands of songs. It is wireless and compact and hence  handier, more versatile,  and more convenient for users.
According to a  feature on , the videoke is more than a form of entertainment; it is an  effective stress-buster as well.  Dr. June Pagaduan-Lopez, a mental health expert, asserts that Filipinos use their love for music, particularly videoke-singingas a way to combat stress.  I agree with her.
I personally know some people who like to drown their worries and sorrows by going to videoke bars. They say that singing gives them a breather from what is troubling them.  A friend once told me that belting out songs helps her release pent-up emotions.  Former colleagues swear that  videoke singing somehow rids their insides of tension accumulated at the office.

History of Philippine Motels

Ang kasaysayan ng 'biglang liko'

Sound proof walls! / Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved.The first time I entered a motel, back in 2009, I was shocked. It was the night when I covered for a whole day the Feast day of the Senor Nazareno. Virtually exhausted following the procession from morning to evening, I realized I could no longer go home so late at night, and with only a few hundred pesos left in my pocket, I decided to spend the night in one of the cheap motels in Quiapo.
This motel was located in the second floor of a decrepit old building inQuezon Boulevard. From the street, double swinging doors opened to a flight of stairs, on top of which was a small receiving area. A thin middle-aged Chinese man in a white sando was in the counter, and behind him was a collection of keys with room numbers printed on them. In a smattering of Tagalog, he asked me if I was going to stay “short time or overnight.” For the uninitiated, “short time” means one to three hours of stay. I answered "overnight" and he told me the cost would be P200. I paid in cash and was ushered into my room by a teenaged boy who also gave me a towel and a small piece of soap.
Entering the motel was a decision I would later regret. The room was dirty, and the bathroom stank. Scribbled on the walls were phone numbers of people offering to have sex. "Just call this number," one said, "and I’ll be knocking on your door in a few minutes." Here and there were also scribbled very lewd drawings of sex organs and sexual positions. During the night, I had difficulty getting to sleep. I could hear passionate moans from adjoining rooms, and even some banging on the walls. I hurriedly dressed and took a taxi back home. I have never entered a cheap motel since then.
Some of you may think that entering the motel all alone is very unusual, since a motel, in the Philippine context, is a place where people usually spend very private moments with the opposite -- or same -- sex. Indeed, by checking in, I risked censure of my friends and colleagues if they found out. Yet I have always maintained that there are no sinful places, only sinful people. Motels cannot be sinners, in the same way that a prison cannot become a criminal.
Postwar travelers' lodgings
Photo: “Resilient Filipinos even in devastation go forward, May 2, 1945” by John Tewell, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.Looking back at the very first Philippine motels (short for "motor hotel"), they were not originally designed as places to have illicit sexual affairs.
Actually, the first motels in the Philippines sprang up to meet the postwar shortage of lodgings for travelers. Immediately after the Second World War, ruined Manila had no hotels but a lot of lodgers, such as American soldiers. To cope with the demand for lodgings, the first rooming houses were established in downtown Manila in 1945. Then, in 1946, the first authentic motel was established in Apelo St., in Pasay. This motel was a six-garage bungalow with air-conditioned units complete with toilets and bathrooms with hot and cold showers. The motel also served food for G.I.s weary after a long journey from their camp. At P30 a day, the motel's rooms were always filled to capacity.
Then in the 1950s, motels became superfluous. as regular hotels which offered better conveniences and services began to be built in Manila. Most of the G.I.s also returned to the United States, and thus in the 1960s motels changed. With the opening of night clubs and bars around Manila, many motels began offering cheap "short-time" rates, which were for one- to three-hour stays. Back then, it was considered highly improper if a man was seen entering a motel with a female companion. Thus, many couples entered motels a few minutes apart. Patrons also didn't want their identities known -- men pretended to read newspapers while entering motels and women wore shades and used abanicos to hide their faces from public view.
'Tirahan ng mag-syota'
The transformation of motels from simple lodging houses to private venues to conduct illicit sexual affairs became complete in the 1960s. A popular joke back then was a question of the difference between a hotel and a motel. The answer was "Ang hotel ay tirahan ng mag-asawa, samantalang ang motel ay tirahan ng mag-syota (Hotels are where married couples live, while motels are where boyfriends and girlfriends stay)."
The so-called "love hotels" were considered anathema by women's civic groups in the 1960s. In particular, the Catholic Women’s League of Manila (CWL) filed a petition to then-Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas to close the motels because, they argued, the motels were venues for illicit sexual affairs (Mayor Antonio Villegas was the writer's late grandfather. - Editor). But motel owners, primarily thought to be rich Chinese businessmen, fought back. The motel owners argued that preventing people from entering motels was a violation of their basic rights.
Pressured from both sides (CWL and motel owners), Mayor Villegas did not order the closure of the motels. Instead, he levied heavy taxes on the motel operators. In short, while he gave the motels a new lease for life, he made their existence difficult.
At about this this time came one of the most serious blows to the image of the motel: the rape in a motel of Antonieta Cabahug, the social secretary of the Philippine Constabulary chief, by Cesar Guy, a Chinese lumber executive. It was perhaps one of the most sensational crimes of the decade, and Cabahug died as a result of the rape. Eventually Guy was sentenced to life imprisonment, but has since been released and is now a Christian preacher. From this time on, motels became associated not only with illicit affairs but with crimes, too.
Removing the tarnish
It was only in the late 1970s and the 1980s when motels began a serious effort to rebuild their tarnished image. Some of the high-end motels even began changing their names into vogue-sounding names like "Ritz and Waldorf," "Bermuda," "Victoria Court," and "Capri." They also remodeled their interiors to provide a hotel-like ambience -- spacious and wholesome lobbies, and themed rooms, offering patrons forest-, resort-, and even Disneyland-like suites. Some of them also offered private jacuzzis, water beds, and sound-proof walls.
At present, love motels in Metro Manila are as ubiquitous as the shopping malls -- you can find them everywhere. In the Manila University Belt, one could count more love hotels than there are universities, so the area could also have been termed the "Motel Belt" with none the wiser. In Quiapo’s Quezon Boulevard stretch for instance, I recently counted twelve motels, not including the numerous cheaper, more dubious, no-signage motels that operate like boarding houses, located in the smaller inside streets.
The cheapest of motels sometimes masquerade as lodgings for travelers, although very few transients actually go there to rest. Unlike motels in the past that were located in high-walled compounds for the utmost privacy, love motels nowadays operate more openly in large modern buildings near malls, MRT train stations, and call centers. Some of these motels have even been designed to have exits that lead to malls and MRT train stations.
Nice Hotel - tarpaulin. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved. Balay sa Evangelista Lodge. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved.
Metro Hotel. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved. Red Apple Lodging House. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved. Balay Sa Ciudad. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved. Astrotel. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved.
Metro Hotel rates. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved. Hotel Sogo. Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved. Soundproof walls! Photo by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved.
Photos by Dennis Villegas. Some rights reserved.
Click images to enlarge.

A 'romantic' atmosphere
The insides of motel rooms tells something about their very nature. One notices the absence of windows and the presence of dim lights. Some motel rooms even provide a swing hanging from the ceiling, in the middle of the bed. Some rooms are provided with cable television. What can be shocking to the uninitiated, though, is that these cable subscriptions include channels showing pornographic movies. Inside bedside bureau drawers, also, one can find condoms in different fruit flavors.
Motel managers are very strict in following the concept of “short time”. Fifteen minutes before the “short time” lapses, occupants will be reminded that they need to get ready to vacate the room as the next customers are already waiting to occupy it.
These conditions suggest the nature of the relationships of people lodging motels -- many times, they are after sex without the benefit of marriage. Since married couples usually have intercourse at home, couples staying “short-time” in motels are generally thought to be engaging in: (1) Pre-marital sex (sex before matrimony) (2) Adultery/concubinage (i.e., a married woman having sex with a man not her husband, vice versa), and (3) Prostitution (sex trade).
Of the three, the last is the most flagrant and the most obvious. Prostitution, as the saying goes, is the world’s oldest profession. But in Metro Manila and in other big cities for that matter, prostitution has also become a thriving industry. One could count Manila, CubaoCaloocanPasayPasig, Quezon Avenue, as the places with the highest concentration of motels because of the thriving sex trade in these places. In all these places, prostitution is a 24-hour business. One only needs to walk at anytime of the day in certain streets and furtive offers will be made in exchange for money.
We are thus drawn to answer a very crucial question. Could the proliferation of motels be an indication of the moral degeneration of Filipinos? Or are Filipinos just beginning to experience a modern sexual revolution already experienced in Japan, the United States, Sweden, and many other countries?
Indeed, one cannot escape the conclusion that although many people consider motels as sinful places of fornication, illicit sex, and prostitution, their popularity will only serve to prolong their existence and increase their numbers in our midst.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beauties in the community

Miss Kalayaan beauty queen Monica Labuguen  is also a photographer.
Beauty of Asia titlist Jessica Joy Hernane is also a singer.

Beautiful Josie de Leon is an accomplished singer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We will miss you Margaret Sia

We just bought a 2006 Grand Caravan to  replace our aging 1994 Caravan that seems to be gasping it’s last breath of life. The new van has 237,000 kilometers on it already but seems to run well.  On the back of my mind, I worry about the newer van  breaking down. 
What if it breaks down? 
Was buying it a mistake? 
Then, we have to spend to replace it again. 
Then, it’s more money spent than if we kept the old van...etc, etc...

As they say, I was over-thinking it. 

Then, I received an email about Margaret Sia, 22, passing away.

I was shocked.

Margaret? It couldn’t be.

I knew Margaret personally. She joined a beauty pageant. She helped her parents when they still owned Golden Valley Grocery. Her parents, Henry and Alice, even gave me food to bring home to my parents when there is an event at the store. One time, I ate there and they even gave me one whole roasted chicken to bring home to my parents also 

I remember what priests have always preached. We worry about losing material things because of the inconvenience it will cause us.  Or the money that went down the drain. 

But if we lose a loved one, a human being, no amount of money can compensate for the loss. 

If your car breaks down, you can work two jobs to buy a cheap replacement or have it repaired. It is an inconvenience. It will cramp your lifestyle because of the financial burden, that’s all.

With Margaret, there is no replacing her. Her loss is not an inconvenience but a tragedy. Her loss will stay with you forever. She was somebody’s daughter, sister, niece, friend.

There are no words that can console for the death of loved ones. 

Please accept my sincere condolences to the whole family. 

I will miss you Margaret Sia.

Tito Joey