April 17, 2014

Super surreal feelings of MJ Lastimosa, Miss Universe Philippines 2014

North Cotabato beauty Mary Jean Lastimosa bested 39 other contestants in the coronation night and was crowned Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2014, now feels so much happiness and excitement.

Binibining Pilipinas, the country’s most prestigious beauty pageant, proclaimed its new queens for 2014 in a glamorous, highly-charged show at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last March 30.

And the 2014 Binibining Pilipinas Queens are now excited to kick off their respective reigns.

Mary Jean Lastimosa
Miss Universe Philippines 2014



After joining the pageant for the third time, new Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa finally won the coveted crown.

“Sobrang surreal yung feeling. Three years in the making ito for me. Sobrang taas ng level of happiness ko ngayon,” she exclaims. 

26 year old North Cotabato native Mary Jean Lastimosa is an entrepreneur. A personal advocate of staying fit, she successfully established her own slimming center in Davao.
Growing up in a war-torn province, she developed values of determination and courageousness, and this is something she brought to her personal life, her career and her journey to the Binibining Pilipinas crown.

Binibining Pilipinas’ Maricar Balagtas is her inspiration for joining the pageant again, because she joined three times before winning. Whenever she feels down, she looks up at her and thinks that if she was able to do it and so can she.

On her free time, she loves working out at the gym, travelling, modeling, dancing, and surfing social media websites.

Here's the question-and-answer portion with Lastimosa, asked by reigning Miss Universe Queen Gabriela Isler

Q: "What is the greatest advantage of being a woman?"

Lastimosa answered:

"The greatest advantage of being a woman is being able to compose herself. Just like here, we're standing in front of thousands of people, not knowing if you're going to cheer for us or boo us. But we try to compose ourselves. We keep the emotions and show the beauty that is in us and tonight thousands of people are standing here, celebrating the beauty of women."


The 2014 Binibining Pilipinas Queens are: 
Mary Jean Lastimosa, Miss Universe Philippines 2014
Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti, Binibining Pilipinas International 2014
Yvethe Marie Santiago, Binibining Pilipinas Supranational 2014
Kris Tiffany Janson, Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental 2014
Parul Shah, Binibining Pilipinas Tourism 2014
Laura Victoria Lehmann, Binibining Pilipinas 2014 1st Runner Up 
Hannah Ruth Sison, Binibining Pilipinas 2014 2nd Runner Up

Rounding up the Top 15 Semifinalists were Julian Aurine Flores, Joanna Angelica Romero, Pia Wurtzbach, Emma Mary Tiglao, Zahara Mae Soriano, Mae Liezel Ramos, Kenneth Santiago, and Nichole Marie Manalo. 

The pageant was a star-studded affair with the participation of Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler and Russian singer-songwriter Emin. Gabriela led this year’s Board of Judges, while Emin serenaded the candidates with his best-selling hits. ABS-CBN stars Xian Lim and Anne Curtis, and beauty queens Shamcey Supsup, Venus Raj, and Janine Tugonon hosted the event. 

The Binibining Pilipinas 2014 pageant is presented by the Araneta Center, ABS-CBN, Cream Silk, PLDT Home, JAG Jeans, AVON, PAGCOR, Titan Watches—the official watch sponsor, PAGCOR, Manhattan Garden City, Pizza Hut, Lactacyd White Intimate, Philippine Airlines, Sofitel—the official residence, Manila Bulletin—the official print partner, David’s Salon, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Gold’s Gym, J.A.C. Motors, Picture City, Dale Carnegie Training Center, Entrepreneur School of Asia, Charter Ping An Insurance Corporation, and Raymond SaldaƱa Photography.

More BINIBINING PILIPINAS 2014 WINNERS’ PROFILES will be published here. 

April 16, 2014

Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta gears up for its 19th year

The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF),  gears up for its next staging of the established aviation event. The 19th fiesta is set on February 12 to 15, 2015, at the Philippine Air Force (PAF) ADAC Hangar in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

Also known as “A Weekend of Everything that Flies”, PIHABF held yesterday, April 15, 2014 (Tuesday) the Signing of Memorandum Agreement by Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Arnel Casanova, Clark Development Corporation (CDC) president Arthur Tugade, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano, and Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Foundation Inc. (PIHABF) president Capt. Joy Roa at the Asian Air Safari hangar in Pasay City.

The organizers of the longest running balloon event in Asia – the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF): “A Weekend of Everything that Flies,” maintains its decision not to hold the 19th PIHABF this year, but instead, prepare for a bigger event scheduled for February 12 - 15, 2015.

To explain its decision not to hold a balloon fiesta this year, the PIHABF Foundation issued an official statement to clarify its disassociation from another organization staging a balloon event in Lubao, Pampanga. (Official Statement of the PIHABF Organizing Committee)

“The decision not to hold a Fiesta this year was not undertaken lightly. From the perspective of the PIHABF organizers, our 2013 event (featuring more balloons than ever, the highly impressive Breilting Jet Acrobatic Team, and the myriad of other flying, ground and static events) would be a hard act to follow without allowing sufficient time to plan, prepare and book new and interesting activities.

We believe that by suspending the 2014 Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, allowing our organizing committee more time to secure a suitable venue for the fiesta and investing more time in planning, securing sponsorships and implementing enhancements, we can offer our spectators a truly safe and world-class event in 2015,” reads the statement.

Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta has been an extremely successful event that attracts thousands of spectators both local and international. Aside from the display of a plethora of multi-colored hot air balloons, the festival also features a number of expedition events such as aeromodelling demonstrations, ultralights, and fixed-wing aircraft competitions, kite-flying and more!

For this coming hot air balloon fiesta, there will be more breathtaking performances as PIHABF is a gathering of aviation’s finest from the Philippines and the world. Attendees next year can look forward to non-stop flying activities from kite flying to radio control fliers from electric to turbine jets coming from regions like Dumaguete, Bacolod and Davao. 

There will be paramotors from different parts of the world doing exhibition and formation flying. The public can also look forward to sky diving demonstrations and a chance to do tandem jumping. Ultralight and microlight aircraft will be performing formation flying and holding fun flying competitions. 

Just like cars, private airplanes and helicopters will also be doing a rally in the air to hone their flying and navigational skills.

An aerobatic formation team will once again be invited to demonstrate a heart-stopping aerobatic show.

There will also be a bigger display of local aviation schools for increased public awareness on aviation opportunities in the Philippines. 

The Aviator of the Year Award will once again be awarded to pilots who have made outstanding contributions in upgrading the standards of safety and aviation interests in their regions.

“We want to fuel the passion for aviation in the Philippines, and to showcase the endless possibilities in this field,” Roa said. 

Proceeds of the PIHABF is funneled to a scholarship program which helps underprivileged but deserving youth to pursue a career in aviation. Since 2008, fifteen young men and women have been recipients of the scholarship grant, enrolled in different aviation schools.

The Asian Air Safari hangar where the MOA signing was held is an aviation enthusiast’s dream. Parked in the hangar are different types of fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Displayed alongside the aircraft are radio-controlled aircraft models, balloon baskets, paramotors, as well as kites brought in by members of the organizing committee. 

The PIHABF, according to the organizers, was borne out of love for aviation. What began as a “passion project” has now evolved into the longest running balloon event in Asia flocked by aviation enthusiasts and professionals from all over the country and around the world.

Capt. Joy Roa introduced the members of the PIHABF organizing committee, many of whom have been volunteering since the first balloon fiestas held in Clark. Made up of highly experienced aviators in each of their fields, the committee has worked together to maintain a carefully planned and safety-oriented activity.

The organizers expressed that their longtime objective for the fiesta is to instill discipline in participating young pilots so they can develop into safe aviators, as well as to impart a spirit volunteerism and cooperation to the community.

PIHABF’s new poster for its 19th year was designed by no less than renowned Filipino artist Manuel Baldemor. The poster features colorful renditions of Filipino life and culture within a community setting. An internationally recognized artist known for being frequently featured in UNICEF cards, Baldemor specializes in simplified geometric forms with elements of folk art.

Ambassador Jose Zaide, a fiesta volunteer in charge of external affairs, says, “The fiesta is an opportunity to share and exchange cultures and traditions with visiting pilots from all over the world. They are given a taste of Filipino hospitality and the fiesta spirit, and the visiting pilots become contributors to chosen beneficiaries of the foundation.”

“By creating aviation awareness, educating the young about flying machines, teaching discipline to current and aspiring aviators, and encouraging people to work from the heart and do things with passion, we will strive to bring back the Philippine aviation industry’s good standing in the international community, ” Roa emphasizes.

A very remarkable yearly event in Clark Airbase, Angeles, Pampanga. The PIHABF is the longest running balloon event in Asia. Thousands of visitors from the country and from around the world come annually to see the event.
(17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012)
The 19th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta will surely continue with these traditions.  
 (17th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012!)

For more information and updates on the 19th PIHABF, visit www.philballoonfest.net.

(A weekend of everything that flies! (Hot Air Balloons 2010)





April 15, 2014

Musikalinga , A Benefit Concert


This Benefit concert is a collaboration project of loving, generous and supportive Homeschooling parents whose children, aged 7 to 15, are all under the tutelage of Teacher Ford Pundamiera. 

They comprise 6 different Orchestra groups, namely: Symphoenix Orchestra, Herald Orchestra, Catholic Filipino Academy (CFA) Grade School Ensemble (2 groups) and High School Ensemble (2 groups). Together, we have come up with this valuable fundraising project where all the talented homeschooled students of T.Ford would be able to not just showcase their musical talents but at the same time support a worthy cause.

As a continuing effort to heal and uplift the spirit of Typhoon Yolanda victims, particularly the young children, we will be donating the net proceeds from this Benefit Concert to their families. 

We aim to raise a considerable amount to buy 100 Recorders and personally teach the children how to play the same, as well as support the building of a Library in Leyte, among other charity programs as initiated by Start Again Project.

Guest Artists: 
Mr. George Tolentino Gabriel

Tickets are at:
Php300.00 - Orchestra Center
Php250.00 - Orchestra left and right sides
Php200.00 - Balcony

Mega family event to be held in May

Outbox Media Production Agency, in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Philippine Pediatrics Society, will hold the 5th annual Baby Blast on Sunday, May 25, 2014 at Trinoma Activity Center, Quezon City.

Baby Blast “fun-o-lympics” seeks to spread awareness of Early Head Start (EHS) education, a comprehensive infant and toddler development program, using various games and activities for the entire family.

The event will also feature EHS experts who will give talks on parenting, health, and early education. 

“Enjoyable and unforced learning is critical in laying down the foundation for holistic development. Since 2010 we’ve been using Baby Blast as a platform to promote parent-child bonding, especially to families with children below three years old,” said Outbox Media Production Agency managing director Rossel Velasco Taberna.

Registration started on Thursday, April 10. Admission is free and the first 200 families to register will get a free loot bag.

For more details, log on to outboxmedia.com.ph or facebook.com/outboxmediaprod.

GrabTaxi secures additional funding from Vertex Venture Holdings

Number one mobile taxi booking app by downloads and bookings in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and The Philippines

The future of taxi booking is now, as more markets embrace mobile taxi booking in Southeast Asia.
GrabTaxi, an automated smartphone taxi booking platform, is poised to extend its leadership position and expand into new markets in the region.

Grab Taxi will be able to support an even larger number of taxi drivers and commuters, thanks to additional funding from investors including Vertex Venture Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings.

Vertex Venture is the lead investor in additional funding into GrabTaxi, while another group of angel investors from Malaysia are providing financial support to this young start-up. CIMB, a leading ASEAN universal bank, headquartered in Malaysia has been appointed the main financier by GrabTaxi. 

The GrabTaxi concept was developed by two ex-Harvard Business School students back in 2011 to solve two main issues in the taxi industry – create safer and reliable rides for passengers and improve drivers’ livelihood.

GrabTaxi Founder and Group CEO Anthony Tan said, “From our humble beginnings, GrabTaxi has become the largest and most widely used taxi booking mobile app in the region. In fact, we have fifteen times more booking volume than our nearest competitors. Our own regional survey showed that we’re at the top of our consumer’s minds. More than 50 percent of them aren’t aware of any other service available except for GrabTaxi.”

“The additional investment will allow us to tap into new markets and cement our leadership position as the best and biggest taxi booking mobile app in the region. Our teams are growing and passionate about providing the best service to taxi drivers and commuters. We continue to invest in the best local talent in each market because we want to build a world class team that responds to local demands.”

Around the region

GrabTaxi is the clear industry leader in the five countries that it currently operates in. More than 250,000 people in the region use GrabTaxi at least once a month with the app already being downloaded onto more than one million mobile devices to date. There is a taxi booking through GrabTaxi every two seconds across the region.

As a humble for-profit social start-up, GrabTaxi believes that business and social value can be achieved in parallel. They believe that being a double bottom line company, which focuses on social good as well as economic benefit and enriching the lives of our two key stake holders – taxi drivers and passengers – have enabled us to come this far. 

GrabTaxi’s ‘Share your Ride’ function, which allows users to share their journey through social media or messaging apps with friends and family, has provided extra security for passengers that has never been available before. GrabTaxi also allows users to rate their drivers and view their information, giving users peace-of-mind when booking taxis. Drivers under the GrabTaxi network have experienced a 30% to 300% increase in revenue and our passengers feel safer with our service.

Tan was keen to point out that GrabTaxi takes all customer feedback seriously. 

“It is our policy to suspend any drivers and passengers found guilty of wrongdoings upon thorough investigation. Our stakeholders are always pleasantly surprised when we call them to say that action has been taken,” said Tan.

The funding

This additional investment is a testament to the effectiveness of GrabTaxi and how it has made a significant impact in the markets that they have entered. Vertex Venture funding has provided the impetus to ensure GrabTaxi moves ahead at a strong pace in each market. 

“GrabTaxi is a start-up that has shown tremendous potential and we’re confident that it will continue to dominate the taxi booking industry in the region. We invest in potential champions which have developed new technology platforms or business models that disrupt the incumbents and old inefficient ways of doing things. We clearly see GrabTaxi as one such champion in the making. We are very happy to be an investor in GrabTaxi and we will continue to provide strong support both financially and in strategic value-add to strengthen GrabTaxi leadership position in this region,” said Chua Kee Lock, Group President & CEO of Vertex Venture Holdings.

On being the proud financier of GrabTaxi, Dato' Lee Kok Kwan, CEO, Corporate Banking, Treasury and Markets, CIMB Group said, “From a home-grown start-up, to becoming a dominant Southeast Asia powerhouse in the taxi booking industry today in just 2 short years, this is a clear testament of GrabTaxi’s foresight and resolute tenacity. Similar to how CIMB had grown to become the leading ASEAN bank from our humble beginnings as a small Malaysia investment bank, we are glad to be able to support start-ups like GrabTaxi in achieving their greater aspirations.”

About GrabTaxi
GrabTaxi is a for-profit social start-up with a mission to revolutionise the taxi industry. GrabTaxi started in Kuala Lumpur and now has operations in Singapore, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Runner-up in the 2011 Harvard Business School Business Plan Contest, its core product is a taxi-dispatch service with GPS-enhancements, allowing passengers to hail the nearest taxi with extreme ease. Since year 2012, tens of thousands of taxi drivers have been using the GrabTaxi smartphone-based technologies to receive bookings. 

Passengers can book taxis on their smartphones and tablets (tablets (iOS: http://bit.ly/myteksi-ios, Android: http://bit.ly/myteksi-android, Windows: http://bit.ly/myteksi-windows and Blackberry: http://bit.ly/myteksi-blackberry). with ease and great user experience.

As a humble start-up, GrabTaxi believes that business and social value can be achieved in parallel. It hopes to make a difference in Singapore’s public transportation, by making it easier, safer and more efficient to book taxis. For more information, please visit: http://www.grabtaxi.com

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