Archives For Mainland China

These are our adventures to Mainland China

Moy Ortiz of The Company

Moy Ortiz of The Company

OJ Mariano of The Company

OJ Mariano of The Company

Online Host Julian Trono

Online Host Julian Trono

Prince Paltu-ob of D'Crew

Prince Paltu-ob of D’Crew

Ryan Cayabyab

Ryan Cayabyab

Sweet Plantado of The Company

Sweet Plantado of The Company

Tony V of Sound Squad

Tony V of Sound Squad

GMA Network launches the Philippines’ first-ever multi-platform boy band competition – To The Top.


Produced by GMA Public Affairs, To The Top is a twice-a-week reality-based, talent development program featuring 18 young and gifted male vocals who are all vying to be part of the Kapuso Network’s newest boy band.


Unlike other reality programs which held open auditions, To The Top scoured the country and invited the best male vocals from different schools and organizations to join the auditions.


The show documents the journey of these young men from being solo artists or being members of their respective singing groups to ultimately becoming part of the country’s newest boy band.


All these experiences were seen by the public when GMA made the competition initially available online via Serving as host of the program’s webisodes is Kapuso homegrown artist Julian Trono, who recently underwent intensive training under the Kpop system.


After a series of rigorous auditions, the program announced its 25 finalists, which were later trimmed down to 14. Adding a twist to the competition, netizens were then asked to vote for their favorites who were earlier eliminated in the series to become the competition’s wildcards.  Thus, a total of 18 finalists will now work their way to the top.


The 18 TO THE TOP artists are AJ Ajrouche, Lance Busa, Ken Carpena, Mico Cruz, Cholo dela Cruz, Martin de Vera, Luis Gragera, Joshua Jacobe, MJ Magno, Miko Manguba, Seph Manlapaz, Bryan Olano, JP Palanca, Adrian Pascual, Louie Pedroso, Lharby Policarpio, Edric Ulang and Chris Yumang.


Throughout the season, the artists – who will be divided into three groups – will be housed together and will undergo more intensive vocal and dance trainings for their upcoming performances and evaluations.


Helping the program achieve this are some of the country’s top music icons led by no less than Maestro Ryan Cayabyab serving as the competition’s main judge.


Joining The Maestro in this project are vocal coaches Moy Ortiz, Sweet Plantado and OJ Mariano of the Philippines’ premier vocal ensemble The Company; dance coaches and 2-time World Hip Hop Champions Philippine All-stars alumni Madelle and Prince Paltu-ob, as well as international breakdancing champion Jesse “Reflex” Gotangco; and the Sound Squad of musical arrangers and sound engineers led by Jonathan Ong and his team from Sonic State Audio — Chino David, Chrisanthony Vinzons and Brian Lotho.


Also lending his expertise in the early part of the competition is celebrity ace photographer Mark Nicdao.


Who among them will make it to the top? Find out as the showdown begins July 20 in ASPAC and July 19 in the US, Canada and the Middle East.


For the latest updates, follow TO THE TOP on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram

BEIJING, Dec. 6 (PNA/Xinhua) – Zhong Nanshan, a renowned medical whistle-blower, is among China’s 10 best scientists and technicians, the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) announced Monday.

Zhong, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases in south China’s Guangdong Province, is credited with helping to identify and then stem the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

During last year’s A/H1N1 flu outbreak, he queried the number of deaths from the disease and said there could be cover-ups. In response, the Ministry of Health ordered all administrative and medical departments to ensure accurate reporting of A/H1N1 flu cases.

He called on the public to be vigilant against the spread of A/H1N1 influenza despite the low death rate from the disease.

He also succeeded in curing a number of SARS and A/H1N1 flu patients, said a document from the CAST.

Zhong, 74, was the oldest of “China’s 10 best scientists and technicians.” The youngest was Chen Jin, 45, head of the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden of Chinese Academy of Sciences, known for his work in popularizing science, said Li Sen, a senior CAST official.

The only woman laureate, Nyima Zhoima, 46, was a Tibetan botanist who bred the first kind of oil-rich rape in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Li said the awards were aimed at promoting public respect for the work, knowledge, talent and creation of scientists and technicians.

The 10 scientists and technicians would be awarded gold medals at a ceremony on Dec. 14, said Wang Chunfa, publicity director of the CAST.

The public had been invited to vote for their choices for the best scientists and technicians in China. The CAST had received 3.4 million ballots, including some from Hong Kong and Taiwan, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 14.


A traditional stringed instrument made for emperor Song Huizong in 1120 has been auctioned off in Beijing for a record 136 million yuan (HK$158 million).

The seven-stringed guqin, a zither- like instrument, which came to represent the refined tastes of China’s imperial court, was auctioned yesterday by Poly International Auction, the Beijing Times newspaper reported.

Bidding for the wooden instrument – inlaid with gold, silver, deer antler and pearl – began at 16 million yuan.

The purchase price was an auction record for an ancient guqin, it said. The instrument’s value was further enhanced with an engraving of the seal of Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong in 1742.

Recovered by a Beijing collector at the beginning of the 20th century, it was acquired in 1953 by Fan Boyan, a Shanghai musician, who hid the instrument.After disappearing from the imperial collection about the time of Qianlong, the instrument later resurfaced at the Summer Palace, which was ransacked by a joint French-English military expedition in 1860.

Increasingly wealthy Chinese are buying more and more of the nation’s antiquities amid rapidly rising prices. A piece of calligraphy on silk more than 1,600 years old sold last month for about US$45 million (HK$351 million).



Colleen Lee

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Families will soon be tucking into cheaper chilled beef from the mainland thanks to an import deal cut by officials.

It is estimated that it will be cheaper by 30 percent based on the price of chilled mainland beef across the border. But the head of the main traders’ association yesterday predicted the meat will only be 10 to 20 percent cheaper than fresh beef, which costs HK$60 to HK$62 a catty, or HK$16 to HK$17 per pound in the retail market.

Restaurants, importers and wholesalers welcomed the agreement reached in Beijing yesterday after years of discussion.

Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said the government is finalizing import arrangements. “The import of chilled beef from the mainland is conducive to stabilizing the beef supply in Hong Kong, thus maintaining food prices at a reasonable and stable level,” he said. “The Centre for Food Safety has completed its inspection of the [mainland] processing plant and cattle farm.”

Chow spoke after meeting State General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine chief Zhi Shuping.

Vice Minister of Commerce Chen Jian, meanwhile, said he believes the deal should help stabilize the price of other beef products in Hong Kong. The meat will be supplied by Haoyue, a company based in Jilin province.

A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said importers must obtain permits from the department before imports begin. As to when the first batch will reach the local market, the spokesman said it will depend on when importers apply for permits, how long Haoyue takes to meet the orders and the transportation time.

Kwok Shi-hing, chairman of the Hong Kong Chilled Meat and Poultry Association, said the group has asked for quotations from Haoyue but has yet to get a reply. “We expect chilled beef to be more than 10 percent cheaper than fresh [beef]. We are going to buy in bulk to bargain for a better deal.”

So far, four of the 40-odd companies in the association plan to import meat.

Patrick Chan Ngok-leung of Tai Po Chun Hing, a meat wholesaler, said his firm will buy the meat only if it is much cheaper than fresh beef, say at a price of HK$12.30 per pound.

Tommy Fung Siu-man, managing director of Rhine Garden Holdings restaurant chain, said if the meat is of good quality and cheaper, his chain will consider using it.

A night to remember

December 6, 2010 — Leave a comment

Stephen Ip

Friday, December 03, 2010

The once-in-a-year event for connoisseurs of the white truffle finally arrived recently. This was the 12th year of the World White Truffle of Alba Auction and the host was local Italian restaurant Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Central.

Et Voila, the biggest specimen weighing in at 900 grams, was auctioned for HK$1.1 million – or HK$1,230 a gram. Astonishing, when you consider what one can usually buy from Italy’s Alba region at HK$35 per gram.

On the eve of the auction, a white truffle dinner party was held for about 60 guests. The menu was prepared by top chef Umberto Bombana and just glancing through it had my mouth watering in anticipation. The world-class Dom Perignon 1975 champagne kick- started the evening in fine style. The aroma of honey and nuts emanating from the exquisite golden sparkling liquid would entice even a non-drinker to take a sip.

Served with the champagne was the delightful 36-month Jamon Iberico – slightly bittersweet to the taste – and in a class touted as second to none. Indeed, no one could fault the Italian restaurant for using a Spanish specialty here.

In the dining room, guests mingled with a glass of champagne in their hands. And with the place starting to warm up, Bombana appeared with three full plates of white truffles for guests to view. The truffles of various sizes came straight by air from Alba and weighed 3.5 kilograms in total. For 60 people, 3.5kg is almost gluttony and to be part of this could be nothing but sheer luck.


mbana was previously awarded the title Worldwide Ambassador of the White Truffle and the man is a walking encyclopedia on the fungus, which only grows in the wild.

November is the best month to savor the delicacy, which is so “shy” that it buries itself under the soil. It is not easy to find as it grows at the root of trees. If one is lucky enough to hunt it down, be prepared to spend time cleaning it.

Bombana confessed that he has spent a great deal of time cleaning the precious fungi and took me into the kitchen for a demonstration. He first washes the truffles with water, then follows it up with meticulous brushing. His methods sure put my tooth- brushing skills to shame.

I find Italian pasta is the best pairing with white truffle and the homemade egg pasta by Otto e Messa Bombana is by far the most tempting.

But back to the dinner, and after white truffle ice-cream it was finally time to quench my thirst with a dram of the 1950 Macallan single malt. “The king of whisky” is a name well-earned.

The hosts urged me to add a few drops of water to the alcohol to unlock the flavors. Under no circumstances, however, should one add ice.

Sample some whisky, then nibble a small chunk of 100 percent pure chocolate. I was told the taste gives an intense sensation that is beyond compare. They were right. The taste is truly heavenly. I am in debt to the kindness of hosts Chambers and Helen for treating us to a truly wonderful night to remember of white truffles.

Stephen Ip, the retired secretary for economic development and labour, is enjoying a second career as food critic.


The momentum from Hong Kong’s strong performance in the Guangzhou Asian Games is pushing cycling up a gear.

The sport’s local association, with backing from HSBC, is staging the Tour of South China Sea, with Wong Kam- po as its main attraction.

Wong led Hong Kong cyclists to four gold and four silver medals plus a bronze in the Asiad, where the territory wound up with a total of 8-15-17.

Riders from China, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and other countries will join the 22-kilometer race, which starts and ends in Central on Sunday.

Organizers not only expect many to watch the event, but also join in the several side events for charity.


Ivy Ong-Wood



Mainlanders get a taste of Hong Kong’s entertainment, fashion and lifestyle scene with the new interactive platform Iconhere. Among the attractions are Hong Kong’s first 3D music video featuring singer Joey Yung Cho-yee, and behind-the-scenes footage of the production of Chrissie Chau Sau-na’s 3D photo album.

The network covers 26 cities nationwide and can reach a potential audience of 230 million internet users. There are currently 45 Iconhere LED displays, which will reach 100 by 2011, in addition to more than 13,800 HD LCD display terminals, including department stores, post offices, hair salons, taxis, commercial buildings and so on.

Hongkongers can view the content on


China’s top football official says the mainland should bid for the 2026 World Cup if an Asian nation fails to win the right to host the extravaganza in 2022.

“I have always felt that it would only be a matter of time for China, as a major nation in the world, to host the World Cup,” the head of the Chinese Football Association, Wei Di, told Xinhua News Agency.

“Personally, I am all for bidding. If needed, I will call upon public opinion to support a bid because it is in the interests of Chinese football.”

The global football governing body Fifa was deciding in Zurich last night which nations will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The favorites to host the 2022 tournament are the United States, Australia and Qatar, with Japan and South Korea seen as outsiders.England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium are in the running for the 2018 event.

If one of the Asian bids is successful, it is highly unlikely that another Asian nation would be chosen to host the 2026 event.

Chinese football has been beset with gambling, match-fixing, crooked referees and poor performances in recent years, which has made the game the laughing stock of fans and a matter of mounting state concern.

Wei’s two predecessors at the CFA and a bevy of other top association officials are under arrest and facing trial on charges of bribe-taking and match fixing.

Meanwhile, South Korea highlighted the prospect of peace and a united Korea when it made its final appeal to stage the 2022 tournament.

Fifa vice president Chung Mong Joon said the recent flare-up of violence on the border that killed four South Koreans is only “the darkness before dawn.”

And he counted on football’s spirit to bring both sides ever closer together through the 2022 bid.



Up to 100 billion plastic shopping bags have been kept out of landfills in China since supermarkets were ordered to stop giving them out for free, a packaging industry group official said.

Dong Jinshi, who campaigned for the June 2008 nationwide ban on free plastic bags, said the order has stopped an estimated 36.5 billion of them ending up in landfills each year.

“It’s possible that as many as 100 billion plastic shopping bags were kept out since the introduction of the law,” said Dong, vice chairman of the International Food Packaging Association in Beijing.

An estimated three billion plastic bags were being used in China daily before supermarkets were told to charge for each bag.

China – which last week admitted it is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter – has major water and air pollution problems after rapid economic growth triggered widespread environmental damage.



December 1, 2010 — Leave a comment

Margie T Logarta

Margie T Logarta, managing editor, Asia, Panacea Publishing Asia and Business Traveller magazine, has observed the travel and hospitality industry long enough to be constantly asked for her opinion on issues affecting service and burning industry concerns.

Here’s her take on the world of business travel. She welcomes your comments, arguments and other musings.

‘Tis the season when our thoughts turn to giving.

But why should it take us just this time of the year to think of others less fortunate? Because of the pile of charity mailers reminding us that we’ve been too consumed by work to reach out? Because the tinsel and trimmings and bright paper packages remind us that there are so many, many people who have little, if anything to celebrate?

But we are luckier to have our jobs that come with the exhilarating perk of travel, our talents, our families, our health (hopefully), our friends and the luxury of being able to buy the latest tech gadgets and go on holidays to somewhere nice. If we don’t have exactly all of these, at least a combination, I hope.

Countless others, who have experienced war, famine, natural disasters, human abuse and prejudice, do not even dare to dream anymore. Such are the depths of misery they have sunk to, and they continue to stare into the gates of hell.

Edmund Burke, the Irish political philosopher, said it best when he declared all that was needed for evil to triumph was for “good men to do nothing”. I agree – what is the use of being good at your job, at being a partner, at being a parent, at being a colleague, but do nothing for the wider community?

There are many ways to do this. The important thing is to start – and never stop.

Margie T Logarta

Managing Editor, Asia

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific