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Dolphins visit clean Venice Canals




Two dolphins have been seen in the Venice Canals of Italy, a rare sight attributed to the stoppage of tourist boat and gondola operation that made the waters clear and attracted some wildlife.

Some locals caught the dolphins on video and camera and posted it on Twitter. Swans, birds, fishes and wild boars were also photographed in the water and on land and shared online.

A netizen described the rare visitors as a side-effect of the pandemic or coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in Italy that scared tourists away from the famous Canals.

More than 100,000 tourists crowd Venice and its famous canals daily before the outbreak reduced the number to almost nil.




A heritage town submerged





Dams are built to provide water for irrigation, home and industrial use and hydroelectricity. These structures are constructed on rivers and their junctions in and are normally located upstream.

However, in the course of history, a number of towns and structures have been submerged by dam projects when the need for their construction necessitated these dams to be erected in residential areas.

Such are the cases in a number of countries where submerged structures, normally churches, reemerge when water level is low.

Among the churches that were submerged by these water engineering projects include the 15th-century Krokhino’s Nativity Church in Vologda Oblast, Russia, in the 1960s; the French missionaries-built, Neo-Gothic, 1860s Holy Rosary Church in Kartanaka, India, which was drowned by the Hermavati Dam; and Reservoir in 1960; the Neo-Gothic church in Potosi, Venezuela, in 1985 due to the La Honda Dam and the old Petrolandia Church in Penambuco, Brazil, in the 1980s.

The 400-year-old Dominican church in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, gained prominence in 2015 when it emerged from the Benito Juarez Dam when the water level ran low. The dam was built in the 1960s.

Perhaps the most controversial of all these dams is the Three Gorges Dam in China, constructed from 1994 to 2003, which affected more than a hundred old towns and cities along the mighty Yangtze River.


Pantabangan Church in 1923.

In the Philippines, one classic example is the old town of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija. It was submerged by the construction of the Pantabangan Dam in the 1970s, leading to a mass exodus of its residents to another area.

Located in the northeastern portion of Nueva Ecija and with cool weather due to its elevation, Pantabangan was founded by the Augustinians in 1701. They continued to minister the town until 1739 when it was passed on to the Franciscans with Fr. Andres de San Miguel as parish priest.

Its church of stone (rubblework) and bricks, dedicated to San Andres, was constructed under the direction and “indefatigable zeal” of Father Benito de la Pila with the help of the parishioners from 1837 to 1841, measuring 45 varas long and 14 and a half varas wide. Vara is a Spanish measurement which is approximately one yard.

Fr. De la Pila also constructed the town’s casa parroquial during the same period using the same materials.


In the mid-19th century, Pantabangan was noted to have a primary school, a jail and a casa tribunal made of bamboo and nipa.

What’s interesting about the church is that it contained a painted image of the Nuestra Señora de la Antigua, the venerated patron of the Binatangan mission located about two leguas (less than 10 kilometers) north of Pantabangan.

The image, along with two small bells and church objects from Bintangan, were transferred to the church of Pantabangan in the early 19th century due to a virus outbreak in the former, resulting to its depopulation.

Binatangan was founded as a mission by the Franciscans in mid-18th century and prospered until 1817 when the said outbreak struck.

Meanwhile, devotion to the image lasted until 1860. There is no available information yet on what happened to that devotion.

In the 19th century, the town of Pantabangan was noted to produce sugarcane, corn and rice with an abundant supply of wood for construction and furniture-making. The wood species found there include, among others, yakal, narra, kamagong and batikuling.

The town also had buffalo and boar products which were traded in the market of Gapan. The residents would return to Pantabangan, bringing with them textiles and other products that they needed.


Brick gate beside the church.

It was not yet clear what happened to the church of Pantabangan, but by 1923, it was in ruins — roofless and with the second level of its facade to its pediment gone.

An image from the Luther Parker collection of the National Library in that year shows the church with a most likely makeshift chapel inside.

The lower level of the facade was possibly demolished in the following decades because prior to the construction of the dam, the church sported a new, simple concrete facade pierced by the main portal at the center and a pair of arched vertical windows on both sides. The Spanish-era side walls and the apse were intact.

About three decades ago, when water level was also low, church historian Regalado Trota Jose was able to document the ruins which was published in his book, Simbahan: Church Art in Colonial Philippines, 1565-1898 (Ayala Museum, 1991). The shell was still intact with the buttresses still visible.

The last time the water level was low and the church ruins became visible was around six years ago. Its recent sighting due to the low water level had social media abuzz and attracted boatloads of visitors.

The church is now completely leveled, most likely due to water pressure but remnants of which are still extant.

Aside from the church, the town’s temporarily exposed underwater heritage structures include a brick gate beside the church, a pedestal of the monument of Jose Rizal in front of what was then the municipal hall, the front gate with the adjoining walls of the municipio, the stairs of a hall, house parts and the old cemetery with its niches.

These tangible evidence of the town’s past are orthy to be recognized as one of the significant heritage sites in the country.

The old Pantabangan town’s declaration as a heritage site is going to be historic and unique, as it will be the first underwater, former terrestrial habitation area to be declared significant, with the hope that it will lead to its protection and, if possible, preservation.

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Alden Richards’ lockdown learnings





The actor went on his first on-location shoot for his upcoming documentary taking note of all the necessary health precautions. PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF GMA PUBLIC AFFAIRS

In spite of various projects that continue to come his way, Alden Richards admits he has not been cushioned from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most celebrities and as a business owner, the GMA Network star is experiencing how the invisible enemy has taken a toll on various industries.

Alden talks about these matters in the documentary Lockdown: Food Diaries, produced by GMA Public Affairs and airing on 27 September.

The docu is a glimpse into the lives of workers in the food sector and highlights their courage and determination as they work to keep the supply chain running.

Lockdown: Food Diaries is Alden’s first project since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. The TV special was shot after Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Alden and the show’s production team had to deal with the challenges of shooting under MECQ, making sure that they followed all the protocols of taping on location.


Alden Richards knows full well the cost of running a business as he owns a restaurant himself. He shares his learnings amid the pandemic in ‘Lockdown: Food Diaries.’

The actor — recently named as the Department of Health’s (DoH) Anti-COVID-19 Awareness Campaign Ambassador — notes the new normal way of stepping out of the house: “Before COVID, we only had to secure things like wallet, bag and car key whenever we left the house. Now we are used to wearing a mask, a face shield and bringing alcohol to sanitize the hands.

In the docu, Alden discusses “quarantine-born” food items and looks at how the pandemic has made a dent on the food industry, taking note of how Filipino ingenuity always arises amid adversity.

Alden also takes viewers to his restaurant and shows them the changes he had to implement.

He says: “This is my quote every day: the only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.”

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‘Gaya sa Pelikula’ premieres today





JUAN Miguel Severo’s ‘Gaya ng Pelikula’ is now streaming on YouTube. POSTER COURTESY OF GLOBE STUDIOS

Globe Studios is back with its first ever narrative digital series that is surely going to bring all the kilig and laughter in a refreshingly unique way with Gaya sa Pelikula (Like in the Movies).

The series is a love letter for and from the community in how it freely presents queer love, all its feelings and all its possibilities that can lead to a most-deserved happy ending.

Written and created by Juan Miguel Severo and directed by JP Habac, the romantic comedy series tells us about Karl, a 19-year-old introverted architecture student in the middle of an identity crisis and Vlad, a schoolmate on the run from his own family. As their lives become entwined by fate, they become housemates over the semestral break where Karl and Vlad come to learn more about each other and about themselves than they could have ever imagined.

Gaya sa Pelikula is an eight-part series of 20-minute episodes that is a prequel to the unproduced teleplays on Wattpad by Severo. It will premiere on Globe Studios’ official YouTube channel starting today, 25 September, with up and coming actors Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan taking on the lead roles of Karl and Vlad, respectively.

Gaya sa Pelikula was also chosen to be part of YouTube’s Super Stream content line-up. Super Stream is an effort of YouTube to enable Filipino viewers to access partners’ content such as movies, TV shows and more for free for a limited time.

New episodes drop every Friday at 8 p.m., from 25 September to 13 November.

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Grand book event turns a page





IAN Sta. Maria’s ‘Salamangka ‘ Book 2 will be launched on 3 October. ART COURTESY OF SUMMIT BOOKS

The 7th Philippine Readers and Writers Festival, an annual event organized by National Book Store and Raffles Makati, will be held online from 28 September to 4 October.

The festival features author interviews, talks and panel discussions with top Filipino artists and authors — all streaming for free on the NBS Facebook Page ( and with selected sessions simulcast on Shopee and Lazada.

Books featured in the festival may be purchased at NBS branches and online on, and official stores on Shopee and Lazada. Special discounts are up for grabs online from 25 September until 4 October, with up to 20 percent off on all imported titles and 10 percent off on all local titles.

Learn about the value of history with bestselling author, renowned historian and speaker Ambeth R. Ocampo. Enjoy live poetry reading by Jerico Silvers and appreciate poetry’s function as social commentary from Lourd de Veyra. Join book discussions with a number of authors including Ayris Alcachupas, Kaye Allen and Jason Paul Laxamana.


Immerse yourself in insightful discussions on a plethora of topics, including an exploration of stories in this year’s edition of the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival.

Immerse yourself in insightful discussions on various topics, including an exploration of stories in the time of COVID-19 and behind-the-scenes look into the making a children’s book.

You can also gain skills with Bliss Books authors who will share tips in writing during the new normal, and a panel discussion on teaching values through picture books.

Sign up for updates by visiting and get a chance to win a set of books. You can also join the raffle promo when you shop online. Five lucky winners will receive a dining certificate for two at Raffles Makati.

Participating publishers include ABS-CBN Books, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Lampara Books, Lifebooks, Summit Books, Tahanan Books, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House and VIVA Books.

Visit; follow National Book Store on Instagram @nationalbookstore, and on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube @nbsalert.

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Wine spritzer as ‘tita’ Zoom drink

Francine M. Marquez



Chill at home with your concoction of wine spritzer. There’s no rule whether you prefer a white or a red as base. Mix it up with soda or carbonated drink and add your choice tropical fruit. Voila, it’s a spirited Zoom session with friends! PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UNSPLASH/JONATHAN BORBA

The rules in wine drinking are shifting at the same pace as the state of local quarantines. Staying at home has become the great neutralizer for drinkers who want to stay safe with a buzz.

In pandemic times, expressing shock over someone putting ice in wine or chilling a bottle of red are passé. What matters is, in vino veritas or in wine there is truth. There is no other way to enjoy a glass than through honesty and letting it all out. No one will be judging since one is in the confines of one’s home. The whole point of drinking is pleasure.

Because doctors frequently remind us that good nutrition and hydration are musts in battling COVID-19, then mixing wine with sparkling liquids, juices and fresh fruits may also help.

What better way to lounge at home and reminisce on tropical vacations from the past than with a refreshing glass or two of wine spritzers. It’s good enough to bring back memories of business-class plane rides and being pampered with a thoughtfully-made mimosa.

Wine spritzers and mimosas are best if you’re in the mood to customize your drinks for a happy quarantine hour. All you need is wine, of course, and carbonated water.

I prefer soda water for zero sugar, but tonic water is also fine. And who cares if you opt for Sprite or 7 Up, that’s okay as well. To each his or her own choice.

But for those who want to follow the standard, here’s how to make a simple wine spritzer.

Pick your favorite wine, either red or white. The kind of wine you choose will define the taste profile of your drink. For an earthy base, choose dry reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, or dry whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. For a sweet foundation, opt for a semi-sweet or sweet Zinfandel if you prefer red, or a Riesling or Moscato if you like white.

Pair it up with a liquid. Proportions are up to the drinker. In a glass, pour the wine and preferred liquid in whatever level of booziness you want. In my case, I add only a fourth of the liquid to my wine so I can still enjoy its flavor and body. Liquids to pair can be club soda, sparkling water (canned like Wilkins or bottled like Perrier), or citrus juice.

Keep the pampering vibe going with a splash of elderflower liqueur or Angustura bitters. Then again, level up your wine spritzer by adding other kinds of liquor, like a good splash of gin, rum or vodka. Building up the flavors is really all up to the drinker’s taste. If you’re using dry wines, it’s okay to add sweeteners like an agave syrup or good old grenadine.

Garnish with fresh fruits or herbs. Finish making that wine spritzer like a pro by dropping one or two maraschino cherries, or cubes of fresh fruits like watermelon or mango. Herbs like basil or a sprig of rosemary add dimension to the drink. Or, if you’re just an old-fashioned type, a slice of lemon won’t hurt.

Ice, ice baby. But, of course, add ice cubes for that chill factor. Mix and enjoy immediately.

What to pair your wine spritzer with? Cheese, wine, nuts, fresh fruits, pastries, spicy tofu, fried meatballs, your dinner or your lunch — practically anything you feel like having. It’s your happy call.

In wine, we savor the good life.

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Hong Kong F&B festival moves to the virtual space





It’s still a celebration of good food and great spirits as the annual Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival goes online with a myriad of activies for foodies and an online hub for all of its programs. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF HKTB

In view of the uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has announced that its annual signature event, the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival will, for the first time, be held online from 29 October to 1 November.

HKTB chair Dr. YK Pang said: “The Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival has been one of the most popular events among locals and tourists alike since its inception over a decade ago. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak this year, we hope people can continue to enjoy Hong Kong’s unique dining culture while providing business opportunities for the local F&B sector amidst this challenging economic climate. Organizing the festival virtually allows us to achieve both objectives without compromising public health and safety.”

He added: “The virtual Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival will strive to recreate the festive, joie de vivre (enjoyment of life) atmosphere the event is famous for, by offering access to exclusive wine and gourmet experiences curated by experts on the subject. Taking advantage of the virtual format, the event will be extended from the usual four days to several weeks so that more people can take part regardless of time and geographical constraints.”

To preserve as much as possible the original flavour of the physical event, the HKTB is building an online hub where most of the festival programmes will take place.

A variety of wine merchants will provide special discounts and products tailored for the festival, which participants can browse and purchase in a virtual exhibition space.

Meanwhile, renowned wine and food critics, chefs, and wine experts will speak on wine-pairing and culinary topics in virtual workshops and classes.

The Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival was launched in 2009, after Hong Kong and Bordeaux signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Wine-related Business.

The outdoor event quickly became a talk of the town and was dubbed one of the world’s top 10 international food and wine festivals by Forbes Traveler.

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PELíCULA 2020 to feature ‘Tokwifi’

Pauline Songco



CARLA Pulido Ocampo tells the tale of a 1950s mestiza who is trapped in a TV and ends up romancing a Bontok Igorot man in ‘Tokwifi.’

Carla Ocampo’s award-winning short film, Tokwifi, is among the featured works in the annual Spanish Film Festival PELíCULA, presented by Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines.

This year’s festival will be held online for nine days starting 3 October.

Now on a larger scale involving the Embassies of Spain in Thailand and Australia, PELíCULA 2020 will screen eight feature films and four short films including Thailand’s Dossier of the Dossier, Spain’s Suc De Síndria and Australia’s Lost and Found.

“Films and visual arts are a good refuge in these dark times. October is a special month since Spain is celebrating its National Day on 12 October. Though we won’t be able to celebrate the fiesta with a cocktail but we can celebrate through PELíCULA,” said Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines Jorge Moragas in a virtual press conference.


AUSTRALIA’S entry in the festival.

The Spanish film La filla d’algú (2019), directed by more than a dozen of student directors, will open the festival.

The 71-minute film is about Eli, a lawyer from the upper class who gets pregnant in her 30s. On the same day she is set to hold an oral hearing of a high-profile trial, her father, a renowned lawyer from Barcelona, disappears. Her search will lead to the discovery of family secrets and a reality that will turn her world upside down.

PELíCULA 2020 winds up with the screening of Arima (2019), the debut film of the Galicia-based Basque director, Jaione Camborda. It follows the life of four women and a young girl whose existence are disrupted by the arrival of two strangers. The film’s plot draws a fine line between reality and imagination, dreams and nightmares, fear and desire.

Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chair Liza Diño said, “FDCP has been doing a lot of refocusing of its programs in support of the COVID-19 intervention. We are launching next week the Philippine cinema fund to support filmmakers whose productions had to stop. We are also supporting the development of new films. In terms of partnership, we have launched an international co-production which allows for partnerships between countries. I hope that this can activate and stimulate collaboration between Philippines and Spain.”


Irene Moray’s ‘Suc De Sindria’ tells the story of Barbara and Pol who go on a holiday with friends. In the course of their brief sojourn, Barbara will redefine her sexuality.

Other films in the PELíCULA 2020 line-up are El increíble finde menguante (2019) by Jon Mikel Caballero, the comedy Asamblea (2019) by Alex Montoya, the drama Jaulas (2018) by Nicolás Pacheco and the Costa Rican film El despertar de las hormigas (2019) by Antonella Sudassasi.

To be screened as well are the documentaries Mudar la piel (2018) by Ana Schulz and Cristóbal Fernández and El cuadro (2019) by Andrés Sanz.

Aside from online screenings, webinars and online discussions will be conducted with directors of the featured films.

All films will be streamed for free at for 24 hours, starting 6 p.m. (Philippines and Thailand) and 8 p.m. (Australia) on their screening dates.

Visit, or

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A rosé kind of sparkling tea





The perfect celebratory non-alcoholic drink. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FORTNUM&MASON

Following the success of its Sparkling Tea, Fortnum’s unveils a rosé with a difference, the Rosé Sparkling Tea (HK$ 268).

The announcement came after Fortnum’s Sparkling Tea rose to the top of its category in sales in Hong Kong in November 2019.

Different from the zesty flavor of the original Sparkling Tea, the Rosé Sparkling Tea is drier and has berry flavors which reflect the taste of an elegant rosé, alongside more tea per liter.

The result is a complex, crisp and elegant Sparkling Tea with zero artificial additives.

The complex brew consists of 11 organic teas, including Fortnum’s Sencha, Silver Needle and Darjeeling. The addition of hibiscus, which lends a pink color to the liquid, is responsible for the dryness, red fruit flavors and complex herbal tannins, making this drink perfect for tea fans.

“Warm weather and rosé go together like, well, tea and biscuits, and since we first launched the original Fortnum’s Sparkling Tea, our team has worked hard meticulously developing, tasting and tweaking this Rosé Sparkling Tea,” said Zia Zareem-Slade, customer experience director of Fortnum and Mason.

“We’re delighted to present Fortnum’s Rosé Sparkling Tea, another creative innovation in our tea history. It really is the perfect non-alcoholic drink to celebrate a reunion with a loved one or as a gift for a rosé-loving mum-to-be.”

For expectant moms, teetotallers, or those simply wishing to cut down a little, Sparkling Tea is best.

The success of Fortnum’s Sparkling Tea shows that many Hong Kongers are already seeing it as a substitute for a glass of champagne.

Tasting notes include raspberry Pavlova, sherbet, wild strawberries, elderflower and Oolong. The palate opens to tropical fruits, cranberry, hints of ginger and deep layers of Darjeeling complimented by light, fresh Japanese Sencha. Delicate tannins from the teas and hibiscus lend firm, precise structure and herbal complexity. The finish is long and satisfyingly round, with white tea, a touch of baked dough and delicate spice inviting the next sip.

Fortnum and Mason is at Shop 022, ground floor, K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Visit

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5 safe grocery shopping tips during lockdown

Plan your list, schedule your activity on a slow day and other helpful tips to keep you safe while doing your supermarket run.





Even with eased quarantine conditions, health and safety remain important especially when doing regular errands that entails leaving the hose. When doing groceries and getting essentials for the home, for instance, there’s no harm in taking extra precautions. Here are helpful tips to help minimize the risks while shopping for groceries:

Wear full protective equipment. While wearing a face mask may be enough, you may also want to consider wearing a full set of protective gear. Face shields and gloves can definitely help reduce the risk of contracting illnesses.

Go during off-peak hours and days. Try going to the supermarket when there are fewer people around. Go during weekdays and early mornings to avoid the crowd.

Keep a list and stick to it. The less time you spend in the grocery store, the better. Before going to the supermarket, make a list of all the items you need so you know where to go and finish shopping quickly. Sticking to your list also helps in preventing unnecessary purchases.

Avoid using cash and disinfect your items. Consider paying for your groceries either with credit or debit card or other forms of contactless payment. Paper money has a higher risk of carrying viruses and diseases, so the less contact with other people, the better. Don’t forget to disinfect your hands as well as the items you bought with alcohol or disinfectant sprays.

Shop for groceries online. For those who really want to stay safe while still getting the things they need, online shopping is an option. Most brands are already available from your favorite online stores. All you need to do is wait for your orders, disinfect the products once they arrive, and they’re ready to be used or consumed.


NutriAsia has an online store on Lazada and Shopee so you can get your trusted food items like Silver Swan, Datu Puti, UFC, Golden Fiesta, Mang Tomas, Locally, Papa and Jufran in the safest way possible.

To start shopping for NutriAsia online, just visit their e-stores on Shopee ( and Lazada (

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