Coming Home to the Island: Poems wins National Book Award for Best Book of Poetry in English

Coming Home to the Island: Poems” by Arlene J. Yandug has won the 41st Philippine Literary Arts Council Prize for Best Book of Poetry in English.

The author expressed her delight with the citation, but likewise some trepidation moving forward to her next book, given her duties as Chief Editor of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan’s (Xavier Ateneo) Kinaadman Journal, and concurrently as manager of the XU Press, on top of a teaching load.

“Giddy with delight, knowing all other four finalists have shining books and track records, and already excited to do the next manuscript,” she said in a note to this writer. “But as to how or when, that’s a big question as I’m swamped with administrative and teaching duties.”

Coming Home To The Island: Poems recollects experiences of the self in connection to place. In fifty poems, Yandug weaves strands of past and present, space and time, as she shows how the self is grasped in the larger narrative of Mindanao, her home island.

Speculating not just on personal history, but also on the island’s distant past, Yandug magnifies for the reader details that re-present the invisible, remote layers of the self. In this meaning-making process of remembering, the poet is re-contextualizing conversations, interpolating facts, rearranging events, turning them into meaningful pieces that hopefully bring readers to a sense of home.

“Her poetry has the power to put the reader in a state of ‘mino’, of being lost in enchantment by the way her images are rendered—fresh, nuanced, careful, at times dark,” says Elio Garcia, assistant professor at the U.P. Film Institute, and Yandug’s  former Xavier Ateneo colleague as the Director of  XU Press under whose watch the book was published.

Dr Arlene Yandug stresses a point during the Tagbo 3 Roundtable Discussion March 24, 2023 at the XU Little Theatre. Joining her are (Left to right) Ricky de Ungria, Dr Lilia Cotejar, Dr Ma. Elena Paulma and Dr. Elio Garcia. (RMB)

“From the moment Arlene’s manuscript landed on my desk, I knew it was going to become a strong book. In fact, I felt that the book was long overdue as I am personally a fan of Arlene’s poetry from many years back.”

Yandug’s poem Going Back to Island  was a third prize winner of Void’s Poetry Contest run by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal for unpublished poems in the theme of “Void”. Here’s what Singaporean writer and editor Daryl Qilin Yam had to say in his review, Void Poetry Contest Winners: Why We Chose These Poems :

“I love a good poetic sequence, and the powerful combination of a mythic voice and fabled setting further compels me to read to the very end, taking in all of the sights and sounds along the way. Like Edmunds’s winning piece, this poem succeeds largely because of the sheer onslaught of wonderfully composed lines, and the magical quality of it all is scarily consistent.”

“Most delightful, however, is whenever Yandug uses food imagery to paint her beloved world, be it the emotional power of onions, the smell of toasted coconuts, the squeezing of lime over the sky or even the salty brine of the waves. You feel it all on the back of your tongue.”

41st National Book Award

The 41st National Book Award’s Best Book of Poetry in English is a significant literary award in the Philippines, specifically aimed at recognizing and celebrating outstanding poetry written in the English language.  It is organized by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critics Circle, and it is one of the most prestigious accolades for poets and writers in the country.

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Elio Garcia)

The award celebrates poets whose poetry collections have been instrumental in the field of literature. The finalists as well as the winners in this award often cover the broad spectrum of modern Filipino English poetry, with its many themes, styles and voices.

Yandug’s “Coming Home to the Island:  Poems” was also one of five finalists for the 23rd Madrigal González Best First Book Award, an annual award established in 2001 by the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing through the initiative of the Madrigal-Gonzalez family.

Arlene J. Yandug

Most recently, Yandug’s poem “February in Many Voices” (which is also found in Coming Home to the Island: Poems) was the Third Prize winner in the inaugural Rhonda Gail Williford Award for Poetry, among a strong collection of work with174 submissions from 39 countries. The Award is administered by the International Human Rights Art Movement.


Mindanao author relates life journey in latest book

Bookends by Nikki Rivera Gomez

When I read a recent social media post announcing the imminent launch of the fourth book by Nikki Rivera-Gomez, a good friend from way back during my days as a development employee for the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor (CIC) Special Development Project, I excitedly volunteered to publish his story on it.

Nikki has previously authored three books published by the University of the Philippines Press: Coffee and Dreams on a Late Afternoon: Tales of Despair and Deliverance in Mindanao (2005); Mindanao on My Mind and Other Musings (2013), and Through the Years, Gently (2019).

Although I haven’t yet had the privilege of reading any of his previous publications, I already had a pretty good idea of the caliber of his literary chops, having enjoyed his contributed stories in MindaNews, and our collaborations in the Resurgent.PH website which he edited.

However, excitement quickly turned into dismay and trepidation when he asked me to write about it, and here I was thinking he would merely send me his press release on it. Like his bosom friend Dr. Fermin Adriano, former Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Research o of the Department of Agriculture, a highly accomplished academician, scholar, writer and policy adviser to key government officials, I am always intimidated about writing about my friends’ works, especially those like Nikki whose friendship I value highly, fearing I might write something untoward which may not be taken for its intended purpose.

Fortunately, he gave me permission to quote some sections from Doc Fermin’s introduction to his book, saving me from eternal damnation. Indeed, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

To start, “Bookends is composed of five sections: Narratives, People, Lineage, Sentiments, and Perseverance.  It is a collection of around 57 essays starting in the early 80s and progressing until 2020.  It practically covers the entire life span of Nikki, from a  growing, temperamental, rebellious youth in his early 20s, to his senior years when idealism had been tempered with the mundane realities of existence, and when the valuation of happiness shifted from the requirements of “I” to the needs of our loved ones (wife, children, and grandkids).”

To further quote Doc Fermin: “(But) when I read the collections of musings from Nikki’s book, particularly the collections under the sections People and Lineage, I found them so refreshing and rejuvenating.  They reminded me of my humanity as the same feeling of love and connection to family, acquaintances, and friends in the past and the present were movingly described by Nikki. I experienced the same in many instances in my life. Loved ones are treasures worth keeping and remembering for they are the composite elements that make us what we are today. They were also rejuvenating in the sense that they reminded me of my days of innocence when I dipped my toes in the realms of romanticism and idealism, unperturbed by the realities of a world where pragmatism becomes a convenient modality for survival, even prosperity.”

To further distance myself from the flames of eternal damnation, I asked Nikki where he first got the idea for Bookends.

He relates how it all began in 1978 and thereabouts, when he was a sophomore in the University of Mindanao, Majoring in English.

“Backdrop was world situation in turmoil. Banana republics mushrooming in Latin America, on the heels of Vietnam War and Woodstock, Dylan, Beatles, Martial Law…voracious reader of Readers Digest, Playboy (seriously this often misunderstood mag sparkled with literary gems, believe it or not) read up on Herman Khan, Ralph Nader.”

By the early  1980s, he was a writer and co-editor at Mindanao Sulu Secretariat for social action (Misssa), an apostolate of CBCP. Martial law was very much in place, and the Mindanao church under persecution.

“I felt like a church journalist if ever I knew one, heavily influenced by writers of the time: women journos like Letty Magsanoc, Sheila Coronel, Ceres Doyo, Cielo Buenaventura, the poet Mila Aguilar, and Pete Lacaba, Brillantes, Salanga, Coloma. My articles remained mostly straight news covering rallies, but I began news features in Misssa.”

By the  1990s, he was living in the fast lane eking out a living in Manila, Davao, government, private sector where he began cultivating media friends, wrote more straight news, a few features for PR clients.

Nikki Rivera Gomez (leftmost) with media friends somewhere in Mindanao. As usual, I’m in the back.

It was during this time that he put up Mindanao Center for Peace and Development (MCPD) with the likes of Margie M. Floirendo, Tony Ajero, then Davao councilor the late Leo Avila as board trustees, to support local writers by giving out annual awards (the Alfredo Navarro Salanga Award for Excellence in Reporting, and the Bishop Bienvenido Award for Photojournalism).

After four years of this, he was “missing writings from the heart”, but thankfully the influence of his Lolo, author and newspaperman Godofredo Rivera, and aunt, the preeminent writer and publisher Gilda Cordero-Fernando, helped pull him back to literary nonfiction, and he put out the aforementioned three books by the UP Press from 2005-2019.

“Today, I’m content with writing about simple themes: Family, Friendships, Faith to still keep doing what we love to do I: To write, completely and with abandon, is more than just therapy. It’s a purpose. And that it’s invariably elusive is tragic. My readers complete me,” he muses.

“When someone agrees with something I’ve written- or even disagrees with it- I feel like I’m connected with my small neighborhood, with its thoughts and aspirations. Ang hirap i-explain exactly…when you feel that you matter. I’ve no regrets. I probably should have damned all and chosen to write at many points in my life. But we all have our reasons why we took this path over that. I’m only grateful I haven’t truly abandoned my writing, infantile as it really still is. There’s so much more stories to tell- or rather, write about.”

Nikki holds a graduate degree in Peace and Development from the Ateneo de Davao University. He is married to Aurea Hernandez-Gomez, with whom he has three children: Karla Kristina, Kevin Mikhail, and Paulo Miguel.


Pueblo de Oro to invest P13.5-B more in Cagayan de Oro

More than P18 billion worth of investments is being allotted by the Pueblo De Oro Development Corporation — the property development arm of the Luchangco-led ICCP Group — for more housing projects in key locations in the country, including Cagayan de Oro, Batangas and Cebu.

Pueblo De Oro said the investments were decided as they strategically positioned themselves to capitalize on the ongoing resurgence of the real estate market.

“As these regions undergo economic revitalization and grapple with the persistent housing backlog, Pueblo de Oro anticipates a surge in demand for both residential and commercial properties. The company’s foresight aligns with its dedication to meeting the evolving needs of the market,” the company said in a statement.

Pueblo de Oro revealed plans to spend about P13.5 billion in new projects in Cagayan de Oro, including the Masterson Mile North Towers, the city’s premier high-rise condominium project during the Cagayan de Oro Investment Forum held at the EDSA Shangri-La in Mandaluyong last October.

Renowned international architects Gensler and Associates from Singapore and Casas+Architects will bring their expertise into shaping the iconic Masterson Mile Towers.

Composed of five buildings spanning 22 to 27 floors, the development marks a significant milestone for Cagayan de Oro’s real estate landscape.

In a meeting with the Oro Chamber some two years ago, Guillermo D. Luchangco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation (PDO), shared his vision for making Uptown Cagayan de Oro the city’s new Makati.

“Many of you will recall that in the 1950s, Makati was just a barren field, with the old Nielson tower which previously served as an airport terminal, one small apartment building along Ayala Avenue, then Rizal Theater and a supermarket.  But look at it now!  Rizal Theater has been transformed into the Shangri-la Hotel, Ayala Avenue is full of high-rise buildings, and land in the area is worth around P1 million per square meter!” he noted.

Pueblo de Oro Chairman Guillermo D. Luchangco presents the Masterson Mile North Towers project during the CDO Investment Forum at EDSA Shangri-La last October. (Oro-TIPC)

“Now look at Cagayan de Oro’s uptown area and Masterson Avenue.  When I first visited here, it was a barren field.  Today, it is a booming location, with SM Mall on its north side, and the new Gaisano Mall on its southern rim.  SM will be developing a five-hectare condo area close to its mall, as well as expanding the mall itself.  Cebu Landmasters and Portofino are also in the uptown locale.  And Pueblo de Oro township sits in the middle of all this!”

Southridge Development Project

In addition to the Masterson Mile North Towers, PDO also disclosed plans to break ground for a 31-hectare Southridge Development at the crossroads of the new Laguindingan- Pueblo de Oro Diversion Road. Dubbed Southridge, the new development would emulate the vitality of California’s Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay area.

In the near future, Luchangco said Pueblo de Oro Township would not be merely building more of the same types of structures. 

“Just like when I started our project years ago, and told a group of prominent Kagay-anons that I would give their city a township that they could be proud of, even if they traveled to the cities of Europe, Pueblo will now go beyond the current types of developments you see dotted around the city and build bigger, better and/or more state of the art projects!” he disclosed.

Besides further raising the city’s profile a cut above the rest of the present level of its property developments, and increasing its footprint as a unique destination point, Luchangco foresees how this would result in greater economic benefit to the city and increase revenues for the local government. 

During the latest Philippines Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Cagayan de Oro City ranked as the 7th Overall Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City in 2023, improving one rank higher than the previous year. The city was 2nd in Resiliency, 5th in Innovation, 7th in Government Efficiency, 7th Most Improved Highly Urbanized City and 8th in Infrastructure.

By 2025, Metro Cagayan de Oro is expected to become the Philippines fourth metropolitan center based on projected population growth and role as a major gateway and transshipment hub in the region. 

Beyond Cagayan de Oro, Pueblo de Oro is expanding its footprint in Batangas, strategically positioning itself 90 kilometers south of Metro Manila.

In the province of Cebu, Pueblo de Oro is committing P1.2 billion to PDO Townhomes Carcar, an economic housing community slated for launch in October 2024. The townhouse project will be part of a planned integrated township development.

Following the success of Pueblo de Oro Townscapes Malvar township, the company ventures into two new projects in Lipa City and Batangas City, with estimated project costs of P1.8 billion and P1.7 billion, respectively. 

Both Pueblo de Oro Courtyards Lipa and Pueblo de Oro Westwoods Heights Batangas City target the middle-income market, offering single detached and single attached houses.


CDO Hosts PUV Modern Jeep Mindanao Forum & Fleet Management Academy

Biggest Consortium of Mindanao Transport Coops Pursues 10-Point Agenda

By Gerry Lee Gorit

Photos by Gerry Lee Gorit, The National Federation of Transport Cooperatives & Mumzy Vany

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY hosted the last leg of the 2-day Philippine Commercial Vehicle Show 𝗣𝗨𝗩 𝗠𝗼𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗝𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗼 𝗙𝗼𝗿𝘂𝗺 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗙𝗹𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗔𝗰𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗺𝘆 held at the Aquilino Pimentel International Convention Center, Cagayan de Oro City on December 7-8.

Since its inception in 2020, the Philippine Commercial Vehicle Show (PhilCVS) has hosted a multitude of shows that have driven thousands of businesses to connect with new and returning trade buyers.  PhilCVS seeks to continue its momentum with a bigger showcase of exhibitors and buyers. Become part of this highway to success by joining us on our 2024 shows.

One of the highlights of the two-day event was the oath taking by members of the biggest transport cooperatives ever formed in Mindanao.

Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) Chairman Jesus Ferdinand de Perio Ortega administered the oath of membership to 24 Transport Cooperatives, represented by their respective officers, who gathered in the event and joined the Consortium of Mindanao Transport Cooperatives (CMTC).

The transport cooperatives’ officials were from Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and BARMM.

Cheng Ordoñez, lead convenor and Board of Director of CMTC, first gathered the transport cooperatives in July, this year, at Quezon, Bukidnon, for the transport forum organized by Chief Executive Officer David Kahale of Panta Transportation, an automatic fare collection system (AFCS) provider from Australia.

Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) Chairman Andy Ortega (center) administers the oath to the officers and members of the Consortium of Mindanao Transport Cooperatives and Corporations (CMTCC), Thursday, December 7, 2023, during the Philippine Commercial Vehicle Show 2-day 𝗣𝗨𝗩 𝗠𝗼𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗝𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗼 𝗙𝗼𝗿𝘂𝗺 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗙𝗹𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗔𝗰𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗺𝘆 held at the Aquilino Pimentel Jr. International Convention Center, Cagayan de Oro City. CMTCC is led by Interim Chairman Melvin Erederos (leftmost) of BUKTRAMCO (for cooperatives) and Cheng Ordoñez (2nd from right) of RB Transport Services Corporation (for corporations). (Photo by Gerry Lee Gorit)

Interim officers of the CMTC include the following: Melvin Erederos – chairman; Wenifredo Yancha Jr. – General Manager; Jeffrey Felicia – Treasurer, Ronilo Ravanera – Board Secretary, Wawie Mama-o and Cheng Ordoñez, Board of Directors at-Large, along with selected officers from each region as BODs.

The CMTC vows to pursue the following programs, trainings and services for its members: Transport Cooperative Operation Education; Fleet Management System; Financial Management; Fundamentals of Cooperatives; Coop Management and Good Governance; Local Public Transport Route Plan Preparation for LGUs; Legal Services; PUVMP Orientation and Updates; Loan processing assistance and Linkages; and, Establishment of a Guarantee Fund to help distressed transport coops.

Ordoñez, Panta Transportation Regional Head for Visayas and Mindanao, said Panta Transportation provides consultancy services on AFCS and FMS, while Antares Modern Transport Consultancy Corporation acts as the Secretariat for CMTC, even as both provides insights on transport modernization to the biggest Consortium of Mindanao transport cooperatives.


Cucina Higala opens Ricardo’s at Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon

A Food Destination, like no other

By Tito  Mike

Cucina Higala, recently opened Ricardo’s at Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Cucina Higala, rated 5 of 5 on Tripadvisor and ranked #1 of 252 restaurants in Cagayan de Oro with 1,284 reviews, has consistently been voted by satisfied diners as the Travelers’ Choice for the last several years, a prestige they aspire to carry over to Ricardo’s.

 “I saw the need to support tourism opportunities brought about by the parks and resorts set up by the Paras family in Barangay Dahilayan and I am bullish about the future of the area,” said Jan Uy, Cucina Higala president.

Besides its location, the main difference between Cucina Higala and Ricardo’s is their respective menus. While Cucina Higala specializes in Mindanao Heritage Dishes, Ricardo’s offers continental dishes which are a mix of Western, European, and Asian Cuisines.

“We focus on what dishes we can develop from the abundance of local resources from livestock, dairy, and fresh herbs and vegetables,” Jan explained.

Manolo Fortich is the site of the Farm Business School (FBS) showroom of the Agricultural Training Institute of the Department of Agriculture, where an array of agricultural products and practices are showcased as a beacon of progress and a testament to the vast potential of the region’s agriculture.

Occupying a wide plateau in the North Central part of Mindanao, Bukidnon has a progressive agriculture-based economy. It is a major producer of rice, corn, sugar, coffee, rubber, pineapple, tomato, flowers, cassava, and other fruits and vegetables. It is also a major producer of chicken, hogs, and cattle.

With high altitude, relatively flat land area, and consistently good weather, Bukidnon also boasts of its competitive advantages for the agri-industry. The province already hosts big players in the food production business like Del Monte Philippines. Inc., Republic Biscuit Corporation, and Liwayway Marketing Corporation.

With easily accessible ingredients from nearby farms ensuring an incomparable freshness and taste to its dishes, Ricardo’s seeks to make the culinary experience complete.

“We maintained our homey and cozy ambience with antiques, and we are blessed with a spectacular view of the Mt. Kitanglad ranges,” Jan notes. “Our tagline is thus, “A Food Destination, like no other.”

“Furthermore, we aim to build not only an establishment, but a relationship that would benefit the local economy and community through employment and tourism opportunities,” he added.

GETTING THERE. Ricardo’s by Cucina Higala is located along the Camp Philips – Dahilayan Road in Barangay Mampayag. It’s just before the “Welcome to Dahilayan” Sign before reaching Dahilayan Proper. See map below.

Operating hours will be from Wednesday to Sunday, 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. For inquiries or reservations, just contact 0917-794-6117.

CDO Bloggers for Ricardos’ by Cucina Higala

Simply choose 1 of the 3 easy ways to book your reservations:

– Fill up the Google Form –

– Viber Call or Message (+63) 917 794 6117 (Our mobile signal is intermittent but our WiFi signal is stable)

– Messenger @ricardosbych


SND encourages ASEAN veterans to continue defending territorial integrity and sovereignty

35th Executive Committee Meeting & 22nd Gen Assy of the Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries

Secretary of National Defense (SND) Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. encouraged veteran leaders of the armed forces from 10 Southeast Asian countries to promote regional peace and stability as he keynoted the 22nd General Assembly of the Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC), hosted by the Veterans of the Philippines (VFP) at Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro keynotes the 22nd General Assembly of the Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC), hosted by the Veterans of the Philippines (VFP) at Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

Secretary Teodoro lauded the VECONAC 2023 objectives to promote the welfare and well-being of veterans and their families.

“What struck me more was that this association was founded to foster understanding, peace, and dialogue and influence on the policies of our countries towards a more peaceful ASEAN region,” the Defense Chief said.

The Secretary emphasized the need to advocate for principled and sustainable peace, and the building of trust between ASEAN countries.

“You are here because you symbolize those who struggle individually to free your peoples from the bonds of colonialism and hindrance to seeking your own aspirations, the liberties of your people, and to provide your children, your grandchildren or maybe your parents did so, to provide them a stable future,” he added.

VECONAC 35th Executive Board Meeting.

Teodoro urged the delegates to promote strong multilateral cooperation, and to support a free and open region that respects the rule of law and resolves disputes peacefully.

“Thus, we also seek the understanding and support of our ASEAN brethren, particularly those who have sacrificed their lives, their blood, and their individual futures for a greater good,” Teodoro stressed.

Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro graces the opening rites of the 22nd General Assembly of VECONAC 2023 Philippines. Also in photo are Veterans Federations of the Philippines National President & VECONAC 2023 Overall Chairman MGen Romeo Alamillo (Ret)left, and Usec. Reynaldo Mapagu, Veterans Affairs Office of the Philippines Administrator.

The SND, together with Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator and Head of Philippine Delegations, and MGen Romeo D. Alamillo AFP (Ret), VFP President and Overall Chairperson of the VECONAC 2023, conferred the awards to the ASEAN veteran leaders.

MGen Romeo D. Alamillo AFP (Ret), VFP President & Overall Chair of VECONAC 2023, turns over the pennant to BGen Toh Bee Chew (Ret) of Singapore, host of the next scheduled VECONAC General Assembly & Executive Meeting.

Present during the assembly were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner, Jr., VFP member-veterans, and other DND and AFP officials.

Teodoro also emphasized that the region needs to continue defending its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and work collectively in respect to each country’s individual cultures.

The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Indonesia overlaps EEZs of other ASEAN Countries .
(Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) and B1mbo)

“We have to work together to make this region the most prosperous, and most peaceful in the world. And we can only do that through the collective action of our peoples – respecting ASEAN centrality, respecting individual cultures, respecting each one’s individual destinies for a collective good,” Teodoro noted.

The Veterans Confederation of ASEAN Countries (VECONAC) was established on 19 December 1980 in Jakarta. The Philippines was among the five founding members, the other four being Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Brunei joined VECONAC in 1985, followed by Vietnam in 1997. Cambodia joined in 2010, and Laos and Myanmar in 2012.

VECONAC aims to promote solidarity, closer cooperation, and understanding among veterans organizations in ASEAN member countries through active dialogue and interaction at its annual meetings, which are hosted in rotation by the 10 member countries.


Miss Universe Philippines * Cagayan de Oro 2024 Press & Public Presentation

Text by Tito Mike

Photos by Jade Adaza II & Sluggo Pujante Reyes III

The Miss Universe Philippines-Cagayan de Oro 2024 Press & Public Presentation was held on 04 December 2023 at the Activity Center, Ayala Centrio Mall sponsored  by Philhomes Development Corporation, in partnership with Ayala Malls Centrio Mall.

Ms. Mags Cue, the National Search Consultant for the whole Philippines for Miss Universe Philippines charged with identifying franchisee all over the PH, welcomed the guests to the event which included Councilors Jay Roa Pascual and Imee Moreno.

Rejellaine S. Vidad, Accredited Partner & Producer of Miss Universe Philippines Cagayan de Oro 2024

Together with  Ms. Rejellaine S. Vidad of the main event sponsor Philhomes Development Corp., the accredited partner for Miss Universe Philippines in Cagayan de Oro,  presented were the following candidates representing their respective barangays:

The candidates wearing MAGS and Zack & Claire Footwear.

Alyssa Niña Ala-an (Brgy 1), Natazha Vea Bautista (Brgy 40), Theophany Belle Arcadio (Bugo), Christine Campion (Bulua), Paula May Paderanga (Camaman-an), An Cristie Tangcalagan (Canitoan), Ericka Dane Amante (Macabalan), Sol Sigrid Sumalhay (Gusa), Lynn Eirene Lomongo (Iponan), Mereyl Del Puerto (Indahag), Katrina Schaal (Kauswagan), Aira Jane Barata (Lapasan), Hanna Crystel Malay (Lumbia), Mia Jade Abueva (Nazareth), Zrinka Faith Non (Patag) and Rexzil Paayas (Tablon). Kyle Hyacinth  Magas (Carmen) was indisposed and unable to attend but will rejoin the events once she has recovered from her illness.

The candidates at Cafe Elysee with (L-r) Roche F. Gabor, Marivic Y. Tabasan, Imee Moreno, Host Arissa Navarro, Mags Cue, and Rejellaine S. Vidad.

The candidates had previously undergone screening and a workshops on pageant and personality development prior to their press and public presentation which was followed by a welcome party at Café Elysse at Malasag House hosted by Ms. Arissa Navarro, a gathering of the handlers, fashion designers, press, production team, and MUPH organizers. Café Elysse, SkinRev, and Pyramid Consolidated Builders Inc. sponsored the fabulous party with lavish wine and food, with  Manuel Tan and Christer Kim hosting the games and program laughter and entertaining jokes.

The highlight of the party was the pairing of the top designers of the Oro Fashion Designers Guild (OFDG) with candidates. Following are the OFDG Designers and their assigned candidates:

Alyssa Nina Ala-an (Brgy 1) Ruvil Neri; Natazha Vea Bautista (Brgy 40) Gil Macaibay III; Theophany Belle Arcadio (Bugo) EJ Baconguiz; Christine Campion (Bulua) Melvin Lachica; Paula May Paderanga (Camaman-an) Alma Mae Roa; An CristieTangcalagan (Canitoan) Joshua Guibone;  Kyle Hyacinth Magas (Carmen) Kiko Domo; Sol Sigrid Sumalhay (Gusa) Boogie Rivera; Lynn Eirene Lomongo (Iponan) Mavy Ladlad; Mereyl Del Puerto (Indahag) Arnold Neri;  Katrina Schaal (Kauswagan) Ann Semblante;  Aira Jane Barata (Lapasan) Mark Christopher Yaranon; Hanna Crystel Malay (Lumbia) Jugger 0ñate; Ericka Dane Amante (Macabalan) JieJie Aisa; Mia Jade Abueva (Nazareth) Roel Rosal;  Zrinka Faith Non (Patag) Albert Rivera; and, Rexzil Paayas (Tablon) Juniel Doring.

Other activities lined up for the pageant include  a gift-giving program to cancer patients, a photo and video shoot, to be followed by a Gala Night at SM Downtown Event Hall on January 13, and a series of rehearsals prior to the January 27, 2024 Coronation Night at The Atrium, Limketkai Center.


Cine de Oro Film Festival 4 opens Dec. 15 at Limketkai Cinema

In a bold initiative to foster local filmmaking and kindle a newfound appreciation for diverse cinematic narratives, Cagayan de Oro City is set to host the fourth edition of Cine de Oro Film Festival from December 15 to 17 at Karumata and Limektkai Mall.

Initiated by a passionate group of filmmakers from Cagayan de Oro, the Cine de Oro Film Festival is more than just an event—it’s an advocacy project. The aim is to develop audiences and filmmakers not just within the city but also in neighboring municipalities and regions.

CDOFF Management Committee (L-R) Orpheus Neri, Joe Bacus, Rodiell Veleoso & journalist Mike Baños.

Orpheus Nery, the festival director, emphasizes the need for a broader understanding of cinema.

“Most Kagay-anon are familiar only with Hollywood, Netflix, and Korean movies, but cinema goes beyond these avenues and we would like to highlight that in this edition of the Festival by showcasing local and national works,” Nery stressed. “The festival aspires to cultivate a diverse audience, encouraging local artists to step out of their comfort zones and share stories that resonate globally.”

A Platform for Emerging Talents

Spanning three days, the Festival is not just a celebration but a launchpad for emerging talents in the art of filmmaking. The Main Competition features outstanding home-grown short films from Cagayan de Oro, showcasing the richness of Kagay-anon storytelling.

The Open Competition welcomes filmmakers from outside Cagayan de Oro City, with two sub-categories under its scope: Narrative and Experimental. This format was introduced in last year’s edition of Cine de Oro, which Nery aims to continue as an avid fan of alternative films himself.

“VALOR: The Legacy of Col. Emmanuel V. De Ocampo”

Scheduled for the festival’s kickoff on December 15 and directed by Bani Logrono, “Valor: The Legacy of Col. Emmanuel V. De Ocampo” explores an extraordinary cinematic journey. This film immerses viewers in the captivating life of Colonel Emmanuel V. De Ocampo, a respected figure in the nation, delivering a heartfelt exploration of Philippine history during World War II.

“Topografia” by Gutierrez Mangansakan II

As the curtain falls on the Cine de Oro Film Festival, the closing film, Topografia by Gutierrez Mangansakan II, is a profound exploration of friendship, choices, and the complex landscapes of Mindanao. Drawing from the shared universe of Teng’s 2016 film Moro2mrw: Daughters of the Three-Tailed BannerTopografia is an exploration into the story of lifelong friends navigating the intricacies of their futures.

Beyond Local Borders

Cine de Oro Film Festival is not just a local affair; it’s a national celebration. The program aims to reach not only local audiences, communities and schools in Cagayan de Oro City, but also film enthusiasts from all corners of the country. The festival is designed not only to enrich the local art scene, but also to boost the tourism landscape of the city.

Cine de Oro Film Festival expresses profound gratitude to its key sponsors, including musician Arthur Nery, whose continued support enriches the local filmmaking community, Italpinas Development Corporation, and Limketkai Center, serving as a venue and a cultural hub for filmmakers and moviegoers alike.

Cine de Oro also expresses gratitude for the Philippine Veterans Bank, who sponsored the opening film. The festival thrives on the collaborative efforts of these sponsors, whose generosity enhances the cultural fabric of Cagayan de Oro City, making the cinematic celebration a reality for audiences and artists alike.


Seda Centrio’s CAROL V. VALDEZ represents  Cagayan de Oro in 27th  Mabuhay Awards

Carol V. Valdez, Seda Centrio Hotel Director of Sales in Cagayan de Oro City was nominated as one of the 32 Finalists for the MANAGER Category in the recent Mabuhay Awards, which recognizes outstanding employees of the Philippine’s hospitality industry.

Hotel Manager Rhett Villaruz says, “It’s a well-deserved recognition. Her hard work, exceptional leadership, and dedication to the hospitality industry have truly paid off and we couldn’t be more proud to have her as part of the Seda Centrio family!”

Ms Carol V. Valdez (2nd from left) with (L-R) Seda Centrio HRM Ruselle Legados, AyalaLand Hotels & Resorts Corp Group Director Wilma M. Estaura, and Seda Centrio Hotel Manager Rhett Villaruz.

Ms. Valdez has been Seda Centrio’s Director of Sales since March 17, 2014 and supervises seven (7) staff in the Sales and Marketing department. She also reports to AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Senior Group Director of Sales and Marketing Melissa J. Carlos.

Among the Ms. Valdez’s traits that Seda Centrio cited in their endorsement to AHRM are her Integrity, Hospitality and Service, Patriotism, Resilience, Teamwork and Environmentalism.

Her team testifies that Carol is a leader who embodies the highest standards of integrity and very essence of hospitality and service. Her passion for excellence is evident in everything she does, from the meticulous attention to detail to the thoughtful touches that she adds to each guest experience.

They further testified to her remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. Even amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic, Ms. Valdez demonstrated unwavering strength and determination, with a positive attitude and perseverance that were an inspiration to the team.

Not the least, cited was her collaborative approach has been a key driver of the hotel’s success. The team looks to her for guidance and support which fosters a culture of teamwork and excellence not just within her department, but the whole hotel.

Launched by the Association of Human Resources Managers in the Hospitality Industry(AHRM) on the 27th of July, 2023 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, the Mabuhay Awards is considered  as the “Oscars” of the Tourism and hospitality industry recognizing and rewarding model employees in the industry and promoting outstanding service commitment.

AHRM is an Affiliate Member of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines(HRAP) headed by President Greg de Garriz, concurrently a member of the HRAP Board of Directors.

The Seda Hotel Group won three of the five awards which recognizes outstanding employees of the Philippine’s hospitality industry during the 26th Mabuhay Awards held at The Westin Manila on November 27, 2023 with the theme “Ako ay Pilipino – PILI at PINO”.

Seda Hotels was earlier recognized as the “PHILIPPINES’ LEADING HOTEL GROUP” for the 10th straight year in the prestigious World Travel Awards (WTA), considered the “Oscars of the travel and tourism industry” held at the GEM Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Established in 1993, the WTA is globally recognized as the “ultimate hallmark of excellence” in the tourism and hospitality industries. It covers country, regional, and world awards. (with Tito Mike)


Xavier Ateneo holds 1st MOVE FOR MORE Run & Walk

Introducing The Campus of the Future & Advancement Office Campaign

Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo) held its 1st ever MOVE FOR MORE Run and Walk—a milestone event dedicated to introducing the Campus of the Future, and the “Move for More” campaign of Xavier Ateneo’s Advancement Office.

 “MOVE FOR MORE is the 5year campaign of the Advancement Office to strengthen partnerships and innovations for the Campus of the Future,” explained Xavier Ateneo Director for Advancement Anna Katrina D. Tiukinhoy-Piol.

Move – an action word “to go in a specific direction”, “make progress”; “develop in a particular manner or direction”, “a change of place”,  – to take action toward a goal or aspiration; and More – “a greater or additional amount or degree of, and add value to in the Atenean context,” she noted.

The Fun Run & Walk aimed to gather the Xavier Ateneo Community and its partners as it celebrates its 90th year, and to kick off the construction of the Campus of the Future.

“As one Xavier Community, we come together and take action as we move forward with our mission and vision, thereby allowing us to do more – do MORE as a University, do MORE for the community, do MORE as a global contributor. We enjoin the entire Xavier Community in this historic event as we MOVE together as one unit to a place for MORE,” Ms. Kitty said.

It was one of the highlight events of the three-day Xavier Festival Days, an annual school tradition featuring this year games and attractions like food and artists stalls and stores, the XU Psychology Society’s Horror House, the XU Ateneo Mountaineering Society’s Rappelling and Wall Climbing, concerts by the Xavier Philharmonia and live bands during the Tugtugan and Music Fest, Christmas Carol Contest, K-Pop Dance Contest, , and student showcases like the  X-Hibit show, Dulaang Atenista’s “No Prob It’s Improv” at the Museo de Oro Gallery, and Padayeem Comedy Night at the Magis Canteen.

At the starting line of the XU Downtown Campus with Pres. Mars Tan and Board Chair Frank Guerra and other trustees and Councilor James Judith.
(photo courtesy of Mary Globien)

The MOVE FOR MORE Run and Walk was held on December 2, 2023 with two contingents; a 5 kilometer Uphill Run & Walk from the Downtown Divisoria Campus to the Campus of the Future site in Manresa; and a 2 kilometer Fun Run & Walk from the Basic Education Complex in Pueblo de Oro, both linking up in the Manresa Campus for a program where developments of the New Campus were shared to the participants.

XU President Fr Mars Tan SJ and Board of Trustees Bong Pelaez going up the Carmen flyover. (XU Communications Office)

“The New Campus symbolizes our readiness for the future as we celebrate our centennial (100) year in 2033,” ” announced Fr Mars P. Tan, SJ during the program following the event held at the site of the future church of the Manresa Campus.

“Faith and steadfastness brought us here. In 2021, we received the Vatican’s approval of this momentous project, which signals the turning of a vision to reality; in 2022 to 2023, we obtained the necessary permits, clearances, and local approvals for this project to begin.”

Pres. Fr Mars P. Tan SJ shares recent updates about the Campus of the Future.
(XU Communications Office)

He related how the Xavier Community would soon experience the 21-hectare future-ready campus with over 25 hectares of protected forest and animal sanctuaries, and its complementary  14-hectare Manresa Township.

“Different zones on this campus will highlight the various aspects of total formation/education of each Xavier Atenean: academic, social development, sports, spiritual, and engagement with the public,” Fr. Mars noted.

Furthermore, the new campus would have large green spaces, bike lanes, upgraded facilities and equipment, renewable sources of energy, digital connectivity, new academic programs,  that would house and provide support to the many innovations of the university – academic, research, technology, social engagement, and formation.

Race organizers acknowledged the oldest participants of the 5K Uphill Run & Walk from the XU Downtown Campus. (XU Communications Office)

Thus, the new campus is the vehicle for XU to become more innovative and responsive to 21st century educational challenges, he added.

“This is God’s gift to Xavier Ateneo, a gift we share not only with Cagayan de Oro City but to the whole region of (Northern) Mindanao.  We are ready for this dream’s fruition. Together, let us witness the beginning of the future. Join XU and make this dream come true!”

5K MOVE FOR MORE Uphill Run & Walk participants at the starting line from the XU Downtown Campus. (XU Communications Office)

Fr Mars also acknowledged the invaluable contributions of the university’s partners: Cebu Landmasters Incorporated (CLI); AVP Construction, the site developer; Aidea Architectural Firm; and the entire Xavier Ateneo Community.

The event was sponsored by CLI as Co-Presenter; Toyota Cagayan de Oro, SM City CDO Uptown, the SM Store, and La Bella Luna as event sponsors, and Sari Sari (kape, komunidad, atbp.), Noble’s Seafoods & Grill, Thai Me Up!, Nia ra jud! and Una Mela, as partner establishments.