Awaited music fest invades Makati on June 22

Awaited music fest invades Makati on June 22

Finally headed for your first Fête de la Musique in the Philippines? Here’s a guide from Giselle Tomimbang of B Side Productions, the team that’s been working their magic for Fête de la Musique since 2011.

A tease of what’s to come for #FetePH25. Video courtesy of B Side Productions and Alliance Francaise de Manille, posted on Art Plus Magazine YouTube Channel

A yearly music festival that’s kinda more of music madness, what with its range of music, artists, venues in hip places around Manila and outside, is here this June, and it’s just snowballing into an even bigger and better music fest by the year.

With over 50 stages spread across 7 locations (Makati, Manila, Baguio, Batangas, Laguna, Palawan, and Pampanga) and three nights (June 22, 28, and 29, 2019), this year’s Fête de la Musique (World Music Day) promises to be the biggest one yet. The main event, which takes place in Makati on the 22nd of June, is always one that drives people nuts because of the sheer number of stages.

B Side Productions President Giselle Tomimbang gives us her must-visit pocket stages. Photo by Andronico Del Rosario

Luckily, we got to talk to Giselle Tomimbang from B-Side Productions, the team organizing this midyear musical madness, and asked for her pick among the 50+ pocket stages for #FêtePH25. Here are the pocket stages she would personally go to if she didn’t have organizer duties for the night:

Hip Hop and Street Dance Stage

by Philippine Allstars and Beyond Passion Entertainment
Power Mac Spotlight, Circuit Makati

Hip hop culture is alive and well in the Philippines, and Giselle is a fan. “I may not look like it, but I’m a fan of hip hop culture. The four pillars of hip hop are usually there: music, breaking, emceeing, and graffiti. It’s a multi-sensory experience.”

Must-watch acts: Medmessiah, Butta B, Philippine Allstars

Jazz Stage

by The Philippine International Jazz Festival Foundation
St. Giles Hotel, Makati Ave. cor. Kalayaan Ave.

The local jazz scene has always been good, but it’s never been given the amount of attention it deserves. For Giselle, “I’m looking forward to seeing Richard Merk as well as the other stalwarts of the local jazz scene.”

Acts: Bea Lorenzo, Flames, Miss Ramonne, Maffy Soler, Henry Katindig Trio feat Cheryl Santaromana, Jeannie Tiongco, Megan Herrera, Michelle, Richard Merk

World Music Stage

Imagine being one of the people in this crowd. Photo from B Side Productions, Fete de la Musique 2018

by TAPAT Production
Element Boutique Hotel, Poblacion

What better way is there to experience music from the rest of the world than at the World Music Stage? Giselle says “(there’s) So many drummers to watch out for, as well as the people from the Flow Arts community.”

Acts: Talahib People’s Music, Anima Tierra, Manila Sky, kadara capoeira, Kenneth Balajadia (Bunga Arts Link), DRUMMERS journey, Meldy Hernandez (African Dance), Matthew Servado (Flow Arts Philippines), Taipan Lucero (Live Art Painting), Jamela Perez Flamenco Filipinas, Hohanna (Installation Art)

Zodiac Stage

by GIG Productions
Gallery in the Gutter, Legazpi Village

Not that many acts at the Zodiac Stage, but the afternoon activities are a big hit for Giselle. “It’s kind of like a Hippie stage. In the afternoon, they’ll have reiki (sessions), crystal healing, and tarot reading.”

Visit for: afternoon session with V432 Wellness

Bebop Jazz & Blues Stage

by The Philippine International Jazz Festival Foundation
La Collina, Poblacion

If you’re a fan of rapid jazz pieces and artists alike, then this stage is for you. Listen to the rhythms of the Rey Infante Trio and Doc Ted and Friends at La Collina for your dose of what most people refer to as modern jazz.

Blues Soul & Funk Stage

One of the must-watch acts for this stage: Kat Agarrado. Photo from B Side Productions

by Mambo Rat Productions and Funkybeat Entertainment
H&J Sports Bar & Restaurant, Poblacion

The Blues Soul and Funk Stage gives you a huge hit of soothing music in bunches with performances from Bras Pas Pas Pas Pas, Kat Agarrado, and Cooky Chua (former lead vocals of Color It Red).

Other acts: Banna Harbera, Conscious & the Goodness, Bleu Rascals, Kosmikskala, Ian Lofamia Blues Band, Malana, Holmes, Hidden Jem, Hit The Road Kat, The Espasouls, Manila Milkshake

Boom Bap Stage

by Boogie
Boogie, Poblacion

Fans of East Coast hip hop (Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Depp) will be familiar with the beats at the Boom Bap Stage, especially when its played at Boogie along Kalaan Avenue in Poblacion. Also, two words from Giselle: “Skratchmark, YES!”

Other acts: Supermikki, Bassrelief, Pope Fiction, Alexandra, NixDamnP, JayRu, XIII, Butta B, Chase (Live Art)

Femme Fatale Stage

by Bigtimeado Production and ChixxxMnla
Handlebar Bar and Grill, Poblacion

The Femme Fatale Stage is all about women, headlined by one of the rising stars of the local rock scene: Even. Various musical genres come together on this stage that will show how women have a place in the country’s music scene. Giselle said it best: “I definitely want to check out this stage.”

Other acts: May, Project Yazz, Leidulataja, The Soledads, Al Louis, Crab and Corn, Buttercream, Lady I, We Are Imaginary, MNR MJRTY

Click on this map to see where each of the pocket stages will be on June 22, 2019. Image from B Side Productions

These stages will be up there in terms of being lively and upping your taste in the genre they represent. However, for the certified titos/titas of Manila, Giselle recommends the Salsa Stage by Salsa Manila at Makati Shangri-La’s Sage Bar.

“I’m going to sound so tita, but I want to visit this pocket stage.” Salsa Manila hasn’t announced their Salsa Stage acts, but if the location is any indication, it’s going to be a fancy night for the Titas of manila.

One thing that was recently added to Fête de la Musique is the Pre-Fête Stage. This started out in 2018 at the Rizal Open Air Auditorium in Manila and was such a hit that they’ve decided to do three this year in Manila (Rizal Open Air Auditorium), BGC (Sunset Collective Stage at KMC Skydeck), and Giselle’s pick: the Rockeoke Stage at The Peninsula Hotel’s Salon de Ning (It’s a VERY COMFY place.)

Fête de la Musique Survival Kit

You’re going to be doing a lot of this during #FetePH25. You’ll definitely need something in your bag to survive. Photo from B Side Productions, Fete de la Musique 2018

If you’re planning to go this route or are planning your own route with the help of the FêtePH app (available on the App Store and Google Play), here’s what Giselle suggests you arm yourself with:

  • A pair of comfy sneakers. You’re going to do a lot of walking.
  • A change of clothes. You’re going to sweat a lot because of that walking, or you might spill food/drink on yourself.
  • An umbrella/raincoat/poncho. In case it pours.
  • Water bottle. It’s sustainable and much less expensive than buying a drink at every pocket stage.
  • Powerbank. You’re going to run out of juice at Fête for sure.
  • A good attitude!

With this, you’ll have no problems navigating the many stages a la Giselle at this year’s Fête de la Musique. The best part? It’s all for FREE!

What are your plans for #FêtePH25? Let us know in the comments section!

Shine bright light a neon light…while running!

Shine bright light a neon light…while running!
It’s the most colorful fun run of the year! Poster from Color Manila

Color Manila is back to paint the town red…errr…neon and whatnot in their Black Light Run on May 25.

Fun runs (3K, 5K, 10K) are events that people usually wake up early on a Sunday morning for, but have you ever considered doing the actual run late in the evening? If you are, then Color Manila’s Blacklight Manila 2019 is for you. Bust out your running shoes and clothes you wouldn’t mind getting dirty with fluorescent powder and just run for the heck of it. There’s no pressure as well since this event isn’t even timed. The aim? To simply run and have fun!

The basics
Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Featured photo by @marcinmet on Instagram

4 days in wreck wonderland

4 days in wreck wonderland

Explore sunken ships—the ugly beautiful allure of Coron, Palawan.

Coron, Palawan, the wreck diving capital of the Philippines, is known for its 13 World War II Japanese shipwrecks all lying within depth enough for them to be explorable by underwater addicts—the divers— from the Teru Kaze at a minimum depth of 4m, to the Irako with a maximum depth of 42m.

These wrecks offer great views from the outside and excellent routes on the inside for experienced divers and those with the right certification levels. Most of Coron’s dive operators in town, including our own Reggae Dive Center, typically offers three daily dives.

If you only have a few days in town, try this itinerary.

Day 1

Swimming in Barracuda Lake.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Start your diving holiday with some shallower check out dive in Barracuda Lake, known for its thermoclines and temperatures reaching 39 degrees Celcius—a perfect warm-up for a stunning dive on the Morazan Maru, which offers great diving both for experienced and entry-level divers.

Morazan Maru was originally built in 1905 in England but was sunk in September 1944 along with the other wrecks. She has since turned into a home of an abundance of species like lionfish and giant trevallies—and sometimes even turtles.

The beginner-friendly (and eerie) Teru Kaze.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Cap off your day with a shallow dive at Teru Kaze located a stone’s throw away from the Morazan Maru, for some reef and wreck diving. This wreck is good for snorkeling as the shallowest part is only 4m below the surface. On most days, Teru Kaze will offer good views from below as well as from above the surface.

You’ll be back in Coron later in the afternoon with ample time to climb Mount Tapyas for a view of beautiful sunsets and of Coron Island. Enjoy a refreshing fruit shake or a cold beer at the newly opened Tapas Lounge before you continue further down the hill and out into town.

End your day by stopping at Coron’s many bars and restaurants. You can have the bistek and menudo at Lolo Nonoy’s or vegan pesto pasta and veggie sticks at Le Voyage. For something off-track, walk off the main street and venture into Coron’s side streets with its eateries and restaurants catering to all tastes.

Day 2

Experienced and certified divers can upgrade their depth limits with dives to the Akitsushima.

The Akatsushima.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

This wreck’s location between 23 and 35 meters under the sea makes it not suitable for entry level divers but it remains to be one of the most popular dives in the area as it’s the only wreck left with its guns mostly intact. The guns are dislodged from the gun turrets and are currently standing upright on the seabed next to the wreck, with three barrels raised toward to surface.

It’s a just-barely-doable for entry-level divers: the Okikawa Maru.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

After spending some time on the surface, have your second dive at the Okikawa Maru, an oil tanker that holds the distinction as Coron’s longest and widest shipwreck at 160 meters in length and a 20-meter span across the beam. Her shallower part lies above the depth limit for entry level divers.

This wreck is located in a passage that from time to time creates strong currents. Due to the relatively shallow depth and the current, the Okikawa Maru teems with marine life—groupers, snappers, crocodile fish, triggerfish, and more. Those with keen eyes will find this wreck good for macro diving.

Cap your day’s dive series at Lusong Gunboat, one of the last unidentified wrecks in Coron. The Gunboat took direct hits and had its wreckage spread over a wide area, though the hull is generally intact. As with the Teru Kaze, this gunboat was also sunk in very shallow water—so shallow in fact that this wreck pokes out of the water at low tide.

The Lusong Gunboat is perfect for all levels of divers—from those getting into scuba diving, experienced divers who want to chill a bit after some great dives, and macro enthusiasts.

End your day with a dip at Maquinit Hot Springs with its natural saltwater springs, or a full Italian meal at Altrove.

Day 3

This day will be your last diving day in Coron since divers are advised not to fly within 18 hours of going underwater. Finish off in style at the Irako, Coron’s deepest and darkest shipwreck.

The beauty of the Irako outweighs the risks for experienced divers.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Irako was a refrigerator ship in the Japanese Navy. She has tight compartments and storage rooms, and her starting depth of 30 meters means only the most experienced of divers dare to take her on. Currents can change in a heartbeat and visibility ranges from a few meters on a bad day to magnificent ideal months. Her upright position with masts still poised makes it easy to see why she has become part of many divers coming to Coron’s bucket lists.

The eerie compartments of the Kogyo Maru makes for one daring dive.
Photo by Catalin-Mihai Craciun of Freediving Coron

Another deep dive is on the cards for your last dive day: the Kogyo Maru, an auxiliary construction supply ship, which went down with her load. One can still see the toppled construction machines in her cargo holds, with belt tracks and hundreds upon hundreds of bags of cement. Like the Morazan Maru, this wreck is widely covered in corals and marine life, from schools of seabreams to circling big-eye trevallies, to huge numbers of scads and fusiliers.

Make a final dive in one of Coron’s reefs or one of the shallower wrecks to make this trip one for the books.

Head back town for some tasty ramen and a cold beverage at Buzz. You can also visit Tita Esh for a more low-key vibe and some filling pansit canton or a heart-warming bowl of mami.

Day 4

It’s island hopping day! Make sure not to leave Coron without taking a trip to Coron Island. Rent a private boat with a tour guide or book a tour through an operator.

Kayangan Lake, but not from the usual viewpoint. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Coron Island offers a lot of white sand beaches and clear waters, with lunch that’s served in one of the small huts they have set up for the same purpose on the beaches. Do not miss out on Kayangan Lake or Twin Lagoon; go snorkeling in Siete Pecados or Twin Peaks.

A stand-up (or in this case, sit-down) paddle boat is a good way of exploring Coron’s neighboring islands. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Rent a kayak or a standup paddleboard in town if you’re feeling edgy before leaving and explore the island as you paddle along. This is a great opportunity to experience the beauty of the island in a very eco-friendly way.

Relax and enjoy the evening with a good view and a cold gin and tonic from either the View Deck or Suites 4:13 before heading out for dinner and summoning a good night sleep.

Who is Lisbeth Jensen?
Lisbeth is an instructor at Reggae Dive Center in Coron for over four years now. She is passionate about the environment and has used her work to participate in conservation efforts in Busuanga.

The Basics
Get there. Skyjet Airlines flies from Manila to Coron three times daily.

Dive tours. Reggae Dive Center offers fun dives to Coron’s many shipwrecks as well as PADI dive courses.
Mobile: +63928 835 5657, +63906 316 1454

Head to Freediving Coron if you want to enjoy these same dive spots without the need for heavy scuba gear.
Mobile: + 63915 172 6809

Words: Lisbeth Jensen; Photos: Catalin Craciun & Daniel Soriano
Featured photo by Catalin Craciun

It’s 90s all over again at newly opened Sobre Mesa

It’s 90s all over again at newly opened Sobre Mesa

Relive the era of new wave and cassette tapes as you wine and dine at Sobre Mesa, Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s newest restaurant.

It’s familiar in more ways than one.

Sobre Mesa is a bit hidden (or as hidden as can be) if you’re ever in the area of Ortigas. The nearest (and by far, the most accessible one) is at the fourth level of Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing, home to some of the business district’s top and trendy restaurants.

The whites and oranges give off a 90’s vibe in a way that other places don’t.
Add this to the mix and you’ve got a semi-nostalgia-inducing pregame resto for the night.

Sobre Mesa doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb from the hallway of said fouth level until you get into within a couple of meters of it. It’ll hit you (if you’re of the right age) with nostalgia, what with posters of hit TV series Friends and Backstreet Boys greeting you as you enter. The colors are a bit of a throwback, with whites and oranges dominating the scene. You’ve got your classic wooden counter with bottles of brews/spirits on the top shelf, with aforementioned posters just a little bit below that.


If you’re in the mood for large, comforting servings that you can share with friends, Sobre Mesa will not disappoint.

Who is Tito Japs? We’re not sure, but we understand why he likes this so much.

The biggest hit we tasted for the rebranded Sobre Mesa was Tito Jap’s Bulalo Estofado. It’s a unique take on the classic bulalo with beef that’s tender enough to be cut with a spoon swimming in a combination of rich broth spiced up with soy and citrus sauce. That zing from the citrus makes this dish worth hogging, but it is for sharing so don’t.

Go for the red Arroz Con Pollo y Chorizo if you want something familiar.
Or Arroz Negra for a Spanish resto staple.

Their paellas (which they call Arroz) are also a winner in our books. If you want something that has a bit of an interesting look and flavor, try the Arroz Negra. Not feeling black? Go for the tomato-ey Arroz Con Pollo y Chorizo.

This was one of the best cheesecakes a couple of years back. Still is in our book.

Save some room for their Salted Caramel and Banana Cheesecake. It’s worth its weight (and the wait) and will not drive your palate nuts with too much sweetness, thanks to the salted caramel.


Not much can be said for Sobre Mesa’s drinks. They’ve got the “good for everyone” set of sodas, juices, and what not, but they also have some of the more interesting stuff like the Sangria.

The sangria’s done really well and goes with the food instead of being the star.

By the way, the first round of sangria is on them when you visit, so go ahead. It also comes with their homemade bread so you don’t have to completely starve before your orders come in.

Verdict: 8/10

Flavors at Sobre Mesa won’t blow you away (unless you get their cheesecake, which will). Everything meshes well at Sobre Mesa, from the food to the drinks to the atmosphere in either their Shangri-La Plaza or Sapphire Bloc (the original) branches.

Up the whole value-for-money gig with this big Chicken and Steak Platter.

It also helps that they’ve got a couple of tricks up their sleeve with promos like a pre-senior discount (16%) every Wednesday (only if you’re born between ‘75 and ‘90) dubbed Titos and Titas Day and Happy Hour, Every Hour from 5pm onwards.

If you ask us, it’s a place for your pregame before you head out and paint the town red. Or a good way to end your workday. Either way, if you’re a certified Tito/Tita of Manila, this place is worth a visit.

The Basics
Php2,500 (USD50) for two or three people
L4, East Atrium, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City
Mobile: +63917 624 5470
Facebook and Instagram: @sobremesaph

Words: Andrew Del Rosario

Go artsy at this new hotel in Makati

Go artsy at this new hotel in Makati

Colorful walls, delicious food, and free premium Filipino coffee—all in one convenient Poblacion hotel.

U Hotels on the tailend of Burgos Street in Poblacion is quiet on the outside, but it will take your breath away once you step inside. It’s all of 62 rooms adorned with murals made by local artists. The lobby alone is a work of art, with “Hello” splayed on the beam in different languages. Greens and browns set the mood.

The Lobby Lounge of U Hotels Makati. Refreshing, minimalist, and with little creative and eco touches. Photo from U Hotels Makati.
If this isn’t a boutique art hotel, we don’t know what is. Photo from U Hotels Makati.

Most people might not consider it a boutique hotel, but its 62 rooms adorned with murals made by local artists beg to differ. The location is almost central to where you’d want to stay in Poblacion, with everything is not more than a 10-minute walk away.


There’s one word to describe my room: simple but given life by murals. It checks the basics—a great bed, a place for your stuff, TV, coffee making facility, an arm chair, and a mini-fridge.

But there’s more to it qualifying as artsy than the murals, say, the wooden headboard with short messages on it.

With the room having the basics covered, it really lets you enjoy the little things. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario


They serve comfort food at The Lobby Lounge that’s familiar to Filipinos, like their smash hit beef pares (the beef is good enough for two to three people based on “classic” pares servings) and what they like to call Just Noodles, inspired by a Taiwanese dry noodle dish that you’d find on the streets of Taipei.

They call it Just Noodles, but it’s definitely not just noodles. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Just Noodles is a dry noodle dish that may seem like a hodgepodge of what you’ll find in a kitchen but is surprisingly good: medium thick egg noodles with minced beef, peanuts, and what we’re calling a Filipino-style sunny side-up egg (crispy sides that are on the edge of getting burnt).

That’s a big bowl of beef pares, arguably the most requested thing on the menu. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Drinks at The Lobby Lounge include sodas, lemon-infused water, tea (viand changes every day), and their trademark premium roast Filipino coffee barako, the local Liberica, served free to every hotel guest.


Visit the oldest church in Makati, the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish; go on a food or pub crawl;  swing by Circuit Makati and while the time away in the skatepark or football pitch; or trek to the Ayala Triangle Gardens for a quick run. If you feel the itch to draw or paint, take an art class offered daily at the hotel at 4pm.

Show your room card to some of their partner establishments in Poblacion and get a discount.

Verdict: 8/10

The basics
Rooms start at Php6,000 (USD30) per night without breakfast
5091 P Burgos Street, Makati City
Tel: +632 820 1000 to 02

Words: Andrew Del Rosario

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