Three Nights in Dubai

How do I summarize the extra ordinary events my wife and I attended for three straight nights? There’s always a first. Hence, this is my first ever column that will mention so many names like a society page. Forgive me if I missed your names and you were in one of the three occasions. I honestly cannot remember all the faces and I never intended to check who were present. We came to enjoy, interact and share our experiences through this column and through Rachel’s forthcoming stories on TFC’s ‘Balitang Global.’

Friday, November 3 – The Filipino Channel’s OneMusic X at the Dubai Media City Amphitheater

We were able to watch only DJ Moophs, teen singer Iniqo Pascual and the band Silent Sanctuary as we arrived after 8 and left almost 10. We understood that the biggest gathering of singers this year ended way past midnight with established names — Yeng Constantino and Rico Blanco — as the last performers.

Upon entering the main gate, we saw FM radio head of production Heinie Hartendorp with his wife Elaine. We happen to be one of their wedding godparents. They led us to the table near the food trucks where some of the radio team members were seating. There were Chickay, another ‘inaanak’, and the whole Pechuela-Famador family in the person of Ryan, Nikki and the twins Charms and Chloe. This family is very close to us and Nikki’s mom, ‘Tita Lulu,’ used to be a member of Jebel Ali’s Handmaids.

After leaving the radio people we bumped into Henri Abenis-Macahilo, who was the first full-time reporter of this newspaper in 2011, Mars De los Santos, who has an online news portal, and Jonathan Gulmatico. Jonathan collaborated with our TFC Pop Star Regional Finals team in 2006 with Irene Serrano and Elsie Marcial.

We saw the two soft-spoken, pretty and entrepreneurial Quinto sisters Malou Prado and Michelle Guinto. Michelle gave birth a few weeks ago but is back to work promoting her cargo company. Malou is running her own travel agency with husband, Robert, who is from Bicol. I was born and grew up in Legazpi City.

We wanted to say ‘hello’ to our ‘kapamilya’ Danny Buenafe, Arnie Garcia and Maribel Hernaez at the special viewing deck but a mishap happened so we had to quickly go home while Silent Sanctuary was playing. But we saw ‘kapamilyas’ Fred Sepetran, Mark Reatiraza and Jeff Soliman earlier.

Saturday, November 4 – Philippine Business Council (PBC)– Dubai and Northern Emirates (DNE) Interface 2017 at Millennium Airport Hotel in Garhoud

The first one was held in June 2015 where I arrived very late and missed the program. Fortunately, at the recent one I was able to hear the keynote speech delivered by Mr. Atiq Juma Nasib, SVP – Commercial Services of Dubai Chamber, who is a frequent visitor to the Philippines. He disclosed that the Philippines is one of Dubai’s top trading partners in Southeast Asia and that bilateral trade has grown in recent years to exceed USD680 million in 2016. Mr. Atiq added that more than 800 Filipino companies are now registered with Dubai Chamber. The PBC-DNE can very well invite the business owners to join the council, which is one of the 49 country-specific business councils under the umbrella of the chamber.

A panel discussion followed which was ably facilitated by Lalaine Chu-Benitez, a long-time friend whose family’s nursery school, De LaSalle Montessori, was our son’s first school in Dubai way back in 2001. Lalaine’s husband, Mon, is the current creative director of the newsletter Tristar World which I manage. Doing the main hosting job were Ken Peralta and Sharon Magsino.

The PBC-DNE has so many individual members who are mostly graduates of the Ateneo School of Government’s Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) program represented at the event by JR Papel, Dennis Belgrado, Paz Calaguian and Anj Realubit. LSE secretariat coordinator and dear friend Gina Valbuena and trailblazer entrepreneur Jovy Tuano were there, too. Jovy was the first to introduce the Philippine Property Show way back in 2008 and 2009 which I widely publicized as PR consultant.

Other friends I saw were veteran commercial then agriculture attache Gil Herico, seasoned journalist Jay Hilotin, Toastmaster advocate Ivy Tiples, Filipiniana entrepreneur Reeza Simpson and former FilCom chairman Matt Bagunu. Plus The Medical City’s executives Dr. Becky Desiderio and Nick Maranan, and PentaGlobal and EntrePinoy’s Sheryll Bacay and Jess Quintilla.

There were five Most Influential Filipina Women in the World awardees, namely, Mary Jane Alvero, Wafa Qasimieh, Cristina Calaguian, Karen Graciles and Rachel Salinel.

Sunday, November 5 – Dream Philippines at One & Only Royal Mirage, Dubai

It was a great gathering in the Moroccan-inspired resort hotel across Dubai Media City. What was surprising was the host, Tabeer Tourism, which is owned by low-profile Pakistani businessman M. Shafique Zahir. This is the first time a non-Filipino individual and enterprise is promoting Philippine tourist destinations, such as Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and Palawan. Hats off to Tabeer and their friendly Pakistani and Filipino staff.

Aside from the video presentation on the four destinations which was produced by Tabeer’s creative director, the Maranao Community or Marcom led by Roy Tamano performed the Singkil and other Muslim tribal dances to the delight of the crowd. Some performers were imported from the Filipino Dancesports and Social Club whose mentor, Melvin Lozada, was present that evening

The guests were a mixed of Filipinos and international community. I saw this newspaper’s publisher, Mr. Attalah Habib, talking to two expats, one of whom had in his business card the designation of director of the private office of a royal family member. A raffle of Barong Tagalog pieces was conducted with the winning business cards picked by the elegant-looking Ms. Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes, wife of Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes. All winners were connected with the consulates of Azerbaijan, Turkey and the UK.

It was wonderful to see good friends and former clients Ishwar Chugani and Mr. Abu Nader. Ishwar has been very supportive of FilCom and Filipino Press Club events in 2008 and 2009 by always offering the Asian Zying at the Dubai Festival City and at The Meadows Town Centre.

Another set of good friends were Tess Al Ansari and her husband, Ahmed, who were seated beside Jenny Gonzales of UIPS. The Al Ansaris own FEPS. When we had our group pictorial I shouted ‘United Far Eastern School’ to the laughter of everyone.

People we saw in all three occasions: FilClub vice-chairman Ericson Reyes who took groupies with us every night. We also saw LBC’s Allan Bautista and Veronica Rey in those three nights.

Those we saw twice: Labor Attache Felicitas Bay, Vice Consuls Beth Ramos and Marriane Bringas. Commercial Trade Attache Eric Elnar with the business delegates from the Philippines. PBC-DNE chairman Bobbie Carella. FilClub chairman Tata Dayot. Community leader Wafa Qasimieh. Multi-awarded business leader Mary Jane Alvero with husband Mohammad Al Mahdi Lari. Day-to-Day and Tatak Pinoy tandem Rico Mondejar and Josie Romulo. FEME Connect Directory partner Cristina Calaguian of Dagaz HR Consultancy. Pakistani Business Council office manager Ellanie Villena and her Pakistani principals. And our multi-talented friend Tom Lladoc.

This coming Saturday, November 11, I will be one of the speakers at the Negosyo Expo to be held at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche from 10 am to 6 pm. It is being organized by entrepreneur Roma de la Torre. All the best to your venture Roma and see you in Abu Dhabi dear Kabayan Weekly readers.

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