Wake Up, Philippines!

It’s the wild, wild East!

Posted in Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009

Ocean Park HK introduces new animal attractions and rides

July 11, 2009, 3:06pm
The Whiskers Harbour unleashes the kids in you.(Photo by MA. GLAIZA LEE)
The Whiskers Harbour unleashes the kids in you.(Photo by MA. GLAIZA LEE)

Where can you go to chill out via a grand polar adventure, shoot the rapids and discover the lushness of the rainforest, shrill to your heart’s delight in a peak that’s called Thrill Mountain, watch a colorful display of jellyfishes and other aquatic resources, and an integrated animal exhibit all in one place? The Ocean Park Hong Kong!

The park recently unveiled part of its redevelopment efforts to the tune of HK$ 5.5 billion (US$750 million) that is expected to double the number of animal attractions and rides upon its completion in 2012.

“As a tourist destination, Ocean Park relies heavily on the massive influx of tourists. It is the reason why we introduce a critical mass of offerings. We believe that we have to give them more things to do to make them stay longer and spend more money,” said Ocean Park Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Tom Mehrmann.

Changing with the times

As part of the redevelopment project, the Headland will be transformed into the Summit where guests can have a grand Polar Adventure and feel the chill of the North and South Poles, journey down the river rapids to discover the beautiful Rainforest, or go for a unique voyage in the Thrill Mountain.

Of course, dolphins and sea lions which are the trademarks of Ocean Park will continue to delight guests at the Marine World. Then, there’s also the Sea Jelly Spectacular where over a thousand jellyfishes are sheltered, set against stunning music and multimedia displays.

The Lowland, on the other hand, will be changed into the Waterfront. It will house the exclusive themed resort Aqua City which features the Grand Aquarium with a three-level viewing galleries, four times the size of the Atoll Reef; the Amazing Asian Animals Park which incorporates the Giant Panda Adventure, and the Whiskers Harbour, which is a redeveloped children’s area.

An integrated animal exhibit, the Amazing Asia Animals Parks, is composed of eight attractions such as the flagship attraction Giant Panda Adventure, Gator Marsh, Panda Village, Goldfish Treasures, and Amazing Asian Animals Ed-venture, among others.

The park will have a tasteful blend of traditional Chinese architecture and modern technology, lush greenery and rock walls reminiscent of ancient Chinese structures. Its exterior is made of a “large span tuss system,” coupled with Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) which enables the sun to shine through without the nuisance of heat.

The Giant Panda Adventure is home to four red pandas from Chengdu, China as well as the breeding pair of giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le. The Chinese salamander, alligators, Asian small-clawed otters and other animals will share the habitat.

The Goldfish Treasures features more than 300 varieties of goldfish, making it the world’s largest goldfish collection in a theme park.

Finally, there’s the Sky Fair, a huge helium balloon, almost 22 meters in diameter, that takes guests 100 meters into the clouds amidst a lively carnival setting, and the Whiskers Harbour, an area made especially for children with large kid-oriented rides and live shows at the Whiskers Theater which provides a sneak peek at the day in the life of sea lions.

To connect the Summit and the Waterfront, Ocean Park will build a high-speed funicular express train, dubbed the Ocean Express. It is a useful passageway in exploring the Summit and the Waterfront, especially when the aerial cable cars are not available for use.

The design of the train was inspired by the Jules Verne’s 19th century submarine explorer. Each station combines new technology and old-world futuristic retrospective. Through its glass-paned parts, guests can watch various marine animals, combined with multimedia action, inside their train cabin which gives an amazing underwater experience. The Ocean Express’ maiden voyage will be in the fall of 2009.

Tourism and nature preservation

Going hand in hand with its consistent redevelopment projects, Ocean Park boasts of its numerous achievements and efforts in animal conservation. The park commits itself in protecting and preserving the animal kingdom through its breeding programs which are undertaken for its unique collection of fishes, birds, and marine mammals.

Since its opening in 1977, Ocean Park has entertained and educated over 85 million guests, an average of five million annually, about the habitats of animals and demonstrated ways to conserve the environment where these animals live.

Park officials agreed that tourism continues to play an important role in the overall economic situation of any country. This is not surprising since it perks up domestic consumption and becomes a source of livelihood. A substantial influx of tourists into any country requires considerable services and these translate into more job opportunities.

In Hong Kong, the total expenditure associated with inbound tourism in 2008 has reached HK$ 158.95 billion or an 11.7 percent increase over the previous year’s figure. The average per capita spending of overnight visitors amounted to HK$ 5,439, while the same-day in-town visitors surged to HK$1,498.


New tourism packages for CALABARZON

Posted in Luzon, Places, Tradition, Travel by Erineus on July 16, 2009

July 11, 2009, 3:14pm

Batangas Taal Park
Batangas Taal Park

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is set to launch new adventure and wellness packages for CALABARZON, the region composed of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, at the Clamshell at Anda and Sta. Lucia streets, Intramuros: History Town Philippines, on July 13, 2009.

Dubbed as “Excite! Delight! @ the Sights CALABARZON,” the event opens to the public on July 14 – 25, 2009, where top travel stakeholders will offer their latest tourism packages to foreign and local consumers.

“With support from the local government in CALABARZON, and business movers such as travel agencies, hotels, resorts, tour operators, and travel boutiques, we have come up with some of the most unique and exciting packages. This regional showcase will likewise introduce the newly-opened first-class hotels and resorts in the area,” said Ace Durano, Secretary of Tourism.
These packages, according to Durano, include wellness and spa sessions, culinary trips, hot spring baths, beach hopping, dive safaris, golfing, pilgrimages, and heritage exploration.

“Aside from CALABARZON’s highlights which are its beaches, volcanic springs, and historical landmarks, we have also put together other alternative activities that cater to a diverse market of foreign and local tourists,” added Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions.

“We invite everyone not to miss this rare opportunity.  It’s a chance for them to check a wide range of value for money packages in one venue,” shared DOT Regional Director Louella Jurilla.

The CALABARZON regional showcase opens to the public on July 14 – 25, 2009, with the following schedule: Mondays, 2:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Tuesdays –Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Fridays – Sundays, 10:00 a.m. – 12 m.n.


It’s ‘Camsur’–and it rocks

Posted in Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 16, 2009

By Tessa Prieto-Valdes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:55:00 06/27/2009

THE TRUTH is, in many respects, Camarines Sur is just like any rice-producing province with decent beaches and mountainous landscapes. Most foreign visitors will opt to visit Boracay, Bohol or Cebu before considering this little-known province in the southern tip of Luzon.

But when the name is shortened, suddenly Camsur rocks!

What’s all the fuss about Camsur? It seems one dynamic man has put his province on the world map of wakeboarding. Camsur Governor LRay Villafuerte built the Camsur Watersports Complex, the world’s most modern, six-point cable ski system designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing – and things have not been the same.

Coupled with restaurants, sand bars, a spa, pro-shop, watersports park and a new skateboard park, Camsur is now among our Top 10 local tourist destinations. CWC offers wakeboarding for beginner riders to professional wakeboarders who come from all over the world. Riders can even enjoy the park at night, thanks to bright spotlights that keep the action going until late.

One of my summer highlights was joining the Tour of Hope Bike Festival’s last leg in Camsur. To raise awareness for cervical cancer, I completed the 90K bike tour around the different cities of Camarines Sur, ending in CWC with a shower of flowers from family and supporters.

Since my kids were invited to check out the new skateboard park at CWC, we timed our vacation to coincide with the bike tour. We took PAL Express from the new Naia 3 terminal, so even the flight started off as a pleasant experience. PAL Express’ Marivic Agustin was very helpful in finding an additional seat for my nephew Francis Fernandez, since the flight was quite full.

Governor LRay was also with us on the flight, so we got the fiesta welcome once we landed. A stream of banners, including one for me, was on display at the entrance of CWC.

The park was alive with activity because of the week-long Kaogma Festival. After settling in, the young boys went to the skateboard park while the rest headed to Lago del Rey, a giant, manmade lake with wholesome family watersports entertainment including giant water slides, aqua wall climbing, water polo, water volleyball, kayaking, aqua obstacle course, paddle surfing, boat-towed wakeboarding and skiing, dragon boating and, of course, pure and simple swimming.

And when the kids are done with the water, there’s WiFi to keep them connected.

Fun park, fun ride

The ultra-fun water park was the perfect relaxation activity before my 90-K bike tour, using my new, custom-made, pink bike that Bike Town Cyclery made for me. With generous pledges that totaled over P200,000, I was determined to finish the fun bike ride in my signature pink tutu. The ride was organized by Bravehearts and Cervical Cancer Prevention Network Alliance of the Philippines (Cecap).

Tour of Hope 2009 spanned 500 kilometers from Muntinlupa to Camarines Sur. This year’s theme is “XXX: Dare to Be Bold.” The triple X has nothing to do with the sex, lies and videotape scandal. It stands for “Xpose the truth, Xceed your Limit and Xclaim Your Right to Life.”

Major sponsors were GlaxoSmithKline, Bravehearts, SM, Maldita, David’s Salon, Personi-fi, Cecap, Cancer Institute Foundation (CIF), Creative Juice, Campaigns PR and Gold’s Gym.

I was more focused on the lens of master photographer Jun de Leon. He was covering from the start with his hunk nephew Miguel de Leon, who charmed all the lady bikers including Veron Medina of GSK.

Photo exhibit

Jun de Leon’s exhibit, “Hope for the Flowers,” will showcase the photos he took throughout the tour and of some cancer survivors. The opening will be this July 15 at the SM Mall of Asia. Do try to catch the exhibit, which runs until July 20.

My biking skills are totally mediocre, so David Charlton was helpful enough to allow me to draft behind him. Since it was not a race, we took breaks for photo sessions and regrouping.

The locals were so friendly cheering us on. Some even recognized me from “Celebrity Duets.” We passed some beautiful old churches and beaches. The views were quite panoramic, like an Amorsolo painting.

At the awarding party, Doctor Cecilia Llave, program director of Cecap, thanked all who participated and invited them for next year. She stated the many women who benefited through the five-day workshops and clinics.

Check out http://www.thetourofhope2009.multiply.com for all the details.

Governor LRay also invited me to be a judge at the Miss Kaogma beauty pageant, where we selected Miss Camsur. The contestants were not only gorgeous but also quite intelligent. Maybe the First Lady of Camsur, Lara Villafuerte, helped polish the contestants’ skills.

I was so impressed with the beautiful gowns by their local designers. After the pageant, I purchased the second runner-up’s gown, a winning pink, voluminous number by Rommel del Valle of Iriga City.

Just when we had our fill of Bicol’s specialty, laing, we were headed back home. We brought home loads of candied sesame seeds, pili nuts, abaca bags and frozen laing. Aside from all the activities inside CWC, we will surely go back to visit the deer farm and hot water springs.

Ironman competition

That return trip is just around the corner, as the Cobra Ironman 70.3K is being held at the CWC on Aug. 23. Sponsored by Cobra Energy Drink, Timex, Oakley, Globe and the Department of Tourism, the event is causing great buzz among local triathletes.

Over 300 participants from 20 countries are expected to try and finish the 1.9K swim, 90K bike and 21K run, the first full-fledged, half-Ironman to be held in our country.

Local heartthrob Fred Uytengsu, who is CEO of Alaska in his spare time, will be leading the charge for the locals. My hubby Dennis and I will be joining, too. I’m already deep in training for the event, while poor hubby doesn’t have a bike or running shoes, so he will just do the swim leg among 25 teams joined in the team competition.

But the real names to watch out for are international tri stars like Chris McCormick of Australia and Lisa Bentley of Canada. Those are the guys who will put Camsur on the Ironman world map.

E-mail the author at seaprincess@inquirer.com.ph


Secret to youth lies in water

Posted in aging, Health, Skin, Water, Youth by Erineus on July 16, 2009

By Howard Murad M.D.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:36:00 07/16/2009

THE WATER principle is not about drinking water. It is about getting water into the cells and keeping it there so that every cell can function at full capacity.

Next to oxygen, water is the most important substance you need, and almost everything we know about aging tells us the decline in function over the years is a direct result of water loss.

To give you a visual, think of an infant. At birth, a baby’s body weight is about 75 percent water; it’s plump, smooth and resilient. As age takes its toll, we lose the ability to hold on to that water.

Our skin becomes thin, dry and rough as water content drops to an average of about 50 percent for adult females, 60 percent for males. Holding on to this water is the secret to keeping cells youthful.

Missing link

Inflammation and free radical damage have maintained their status in the headlines as the main causes of aging. Some of the world’s leading scientists have been unraveling the mystery of how these forces cause your body—and your skin—to self-destruct.

Not only are inflammation and free radicals inextricably linked to wrinkles and the aging process in general. They are also important players in chronic diseases from diabetes and arthritis to cancer.

But as important as these factors are, they still have the same net effect: destruction of the cells or tissue, causing water loss.

Quick fix

During over 30 years of practice, I have seen nearly 50,000 patients. Many come to me as the signs of aging set in. Their mission: to stop the results of aging skin with an injection or a facelift.

While I believe surgical procedures can provide wonderful results, I always educate my patients about the fact that these procedures do not improve the quality of the skin.

The skin can be lifted and pulled back, yet you still have the same skin. You can freeze the muscle or plump up a wrinkle with fillers, but you have not made the skin healthier.

My answer is to put the water back into the tissue by using a method that combines both topical and internal factors.

Topical factors

As a skincare professional, you can increase the water content in your clients’ skin by using professional treatments. I recommend products that contain these ingredients:

Exfoliators, such as enzymes, AHAs, BHAs to remove non-functioning skin cells

Natural moisture factors, such as sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid that absorb water

Ceramides and essential fatty acids, such as evening primrose oil, avocado oil, linoleic acid to protect the skin’s barrier function and help prevent water loss

Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, pomegranate extract, grape-seed extract, green tea to protect from damaging free radicals

Anti-inflammatory agents, such as licorice extract, zinc, cucumber and other botanicals to reduce inflammation

Internal factors

I have always believed in the importance of supplements and their role in skin health.

As the first to pioneer the use of internal skincare in 1995, I have scientific proof, through independent studies, that you can reduce wrinkles, increase elasticity, clear acne, increase sun protection and reduce cellulite with specific supplement formulas.

To optimize water content in the cells internally, I recommend a daily intake of these key nutrients:

Glucosamine to promoteconnective tissue production so it can absorb more water

Phosphatidylcholine to maintain cell walls

Antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, grape-seed extract, coenzyme Q10 to fight free radicals

Anti-inflammatory agents, such as zinc and soothing botanicals to reduce inflammation

Essential fatty acids to lock in moisture in the cells

Amino acids which are the building blocks for collagen and elastin

When these are taken in the right combination, you can increase the water content of your cells and reduce wrinkles by 34 percent and increase elasticity by 18 percent, in just five weeks.

Two ways

Incorporating the water principle in your treatment areas and for your client regimen may be summarized in two ways:

1) Put it on—keep it in: On the outside, you need to trap the water into your skin. This starts with cleansing. Leave the surface of the skin slightly damp, then apply moisturizer that contains ingredients that attract water such as hyaluronic acid or sodium PCA, and ingredients that lock in water such as ceramides.

2) Drink it—keep it: On the inside, drink water and hold it in by taking glucosamine (this produces hyaluronic acid, which attracts up to 1,000 times its weight in water). Then you maintain the water you drink by taking essential fatty acids such as flaxseed, olive oil and fish oils.

As Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgi von Nagyrapolt wrote: “Discovery is seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.”


Fibers for health

Posted in Diseases/Disabilities, Health, Nutrition by Erineus on July 15, 2009

July 13, 2009, 5:29pm

Aside from celebrating Nutrition month this July, we also celebrate diabetes awareness week. In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that there are around 171 million people worldwide who suffer from this illness. For the year 2030, WHO has further estimated that, worldwide, diabetes could afflict 360 million people, 1/3 of which may come from the Southeast Asia Region. In the Philippines alone, people with diabetes can reach an estimated number of 7.7 million.

While diabetes can be hereditary, a type of diabetes called Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with active lifestyle and proper diet. But for most adults, having an active lifestyle and maintaining proper diet is really very difficult. This is because of the ever increasing time of inactivity among adults. On a conservative estimate, an adult can have at least 18 hours of inactive periods in a day. Well, it’s so easy to say: “then, there’s still six hours a day to be active”, but not most offices have their mini gymnasium for their employees, and in this time of crisis, to spend for gym memberships wouldn’t be that easy to include in the family budget. Oh yes, a walk in the city’s park or open-to-public university campuses would be an option where to walk, run, bike or play, but not too many could really have this done. With many people becoming inactive, we can really come close to the estimated number diabetics in our country alone. We should really exert effort to make our bodies physically active as it can be.

As always mentioned, having a high-fiber diet is another means to prevent diabetes. For you to have more idea as to what fiber your purchased products contain, here are different types of fibers that you can look for from the label’s ingredient lines:

Cellulose, a principal component of the cell wall of most plants and is therefore present in fruits, vegetables and cereals. Much of the fiber in cereal bran is cellulose. Cellulose forms about one quarter of the dietary fibre in grains and fruit and one third in vegetables and nuts.

Hemicellulose/s are polysaccharides that contain sugars other than glucose, and are associated with cellulose in plant cell walls. Approximately one third of the dietary fibre in vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts consist of hemicelluloses.

Pectin. Although fruits contain the most pectin, they also represent 15 to 20 percent of the dietary fibre in vegetables, legumes and nuts.

Beta Glucan, a major component of the cell wall material in oats and barley grains but are present in only small quantities in wheat.

Resistant Starch. Legumes are one of the main sources of resistant starch (RS1) as they have thick cell walls that make the starch inaccessible to enzymes. The cooking and processing of foods can disrupt cell walls, making the starch more available for digestion. Banana is a major source of another type of resistant starch (RS2) in the human diet; but as the banana ripens the amount of resistant decreases.

Non-digestible Oligosaccharides in general are highly fermentable while some have so-called prebiotic properties. Onions, chicory and Jerusalem artichokes are the major dietary sources of naturally occurring fructans, from which inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides are obtained.

The more types of fiber that you see on your food’s label, the better it could be for you for type 2 diabetes prevention and management.

(Write the author at wellbeing@mb.com.ph.)


Glass of wine a day can stave off Alzheimers, study finds

Posted in Diseases/Disabilities, Food/Drinks, Wine by Erineus on July 15, 2009

July 14, 2009, 5:07pm

VIENNA, July 13, 2009 (AFP) – Moderate consumption of wine could reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease among those over 75, according to a study revealed at a conference in Vienna.

Excessive consumption, on the other hand, can increase the risk, researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina found.

Kaycee Sink, one of the authors of the report, said they monitored 3,069 people of 75 and upwards over six years, asking them to note their alcohol consmption.

Among those who restricted themselves to one or two glasses a day, especially of wine, the risk of Alzheimer’s was reduced by 37 percent.

For those already suffering minor memory problems who drank more than two glasses a day, the risk was twice that of non-drinkers with similar impairment.

Another study released by researchers at a California medical centre for war veterans showed that those who had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder were twice as likely to contract Alzheimer’s than other ex-soldiers.

The study covered 181,093 veterans aged 55 and over, who were monitored between 2001 and 2007.

Characterized by forgetfulness, agitation and dementia, Alzheimer’s is caused by a massive loss of cells in several regions of the brain. The disease occurs most frequently in old age.

An estimated 37 million people worldwide live with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease causing the majority of cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

With the aging of populations, this figure is projected to increase rapidly over the next decades, rising from 7.1 million in 2000 to 16.2 million in 2050 in Europe alone.

The Alzheimer’s Association 2009 international conference in Vienna is attended by some 6,000 scientists, doctors and other experts on the disease. It runs until July 16.