Miss Universe 2017 to be held in the Philippines

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Resonate (by Cohan Chew):

Next year will mark the annual competition’s 65th year in the running and will be the third time that the pageant will be hosted in the Philippines.

Wanda Teo, the Tourism Secretary of the Philippines announced that the Miss Universe 2017 pageant will be held in the country on 30 January 2017.

“We have a president who comes from Mindanao, and our Miss Universe is from Mindanao, so I think this is the best time for us to do the Miss Universe here in the Philippines… I would like to inform everybody that the Miss Universe beauty pageant will be on January 30, 2017 here in the Philippines.”

Teo also assured that the Filipino governmentis not going to spend a single centavo” on the international pageant. “It will be the private sector that will shoulder the expenses,” the Tourism Secretary said, citing a budget of $11 million.

Reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach, was the third Filipino woman to win the award since the pageant’s inception in 1952. Previous Filipino winners were Margie Moran in 1973 and Gloria Diaz in 1969. The Philippines has hosted the competition twice before, in 1974 and 1994.

Representing the Philippines will be Maxine Medina,a 25-year-old interior designer who has been modelling since 2008, in next year’s pageant. She will attempt to succeed Wurtzbach, the first Filipino woman to win the title in over four decades.

Hong Kong’s first Hooters is already causing controversy

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FoodBeast/Next Shark (by Ryan General):

American restaurant chain Hooters, known for its skimpily dressed female servers is about to open its first restaurant in Hong Kong. A month before its launch, however, the sports bar that bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” is already attracting controversy.

Set to occupy a prime location in Hong Kong’s Central district along Wyndham Street, Hooters Hong Kong will be just one of the 30 branches that Bangkok-based Destinations Resorts will be bringing to Asia on behalf of Hooters Asia.

While preparations are all well under way for the Hong Kong opening, Hooters Asia general manager Mike Warde is also fending off criticisms about the company’s image and hiring processes.

We’re a sports bar, a family-oriented, fun-loving, entertainment outlet. We have standards for our service and food,” Warde told South China Morning Post in an interview.

For Warde, the Hooters girls who he calls the chain’s “brand ambassadors” are not dressed provocatively but are simply wearing sportswear. He also denied that breast size is a factor in the company’s recruitment.

That’s a myth. That was 30 years ago,” he said while showing a photograph of Thai Hooters girls with small breasts. “The reason they don’t look flat chested is because they are wearing Wonderbras.”

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A friend of one Hong Kong applicant, however is refuting his claim. Scarlet (not her real name), an applicant herself, said her friend who applied didn’t pass because of her breast size.

Her boobs are smaller, so of course they won’t hire her,” she said.

The recruitment process has been going on for months and so far 12 Hong Kong women, one Japanese woman and two European women are being considered for the job.

Aside from normal food-serving tasks, Hooter girls are also expected to perform two-minute dance numbers at certain intervals.

They stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, and dance every 45 minutes,” says Warde. “In Thailand guests pay them to do hula hoop and the money goes to charity. We have pom-poms and we take them to the rugby pitch to support teams.

To stay in shape, they are also required to attend three kickboxing classes per week.

We teach the girls to be a lot more respectful of themselves, have more confidence in themselves. They have a fit body and fit mind and we bring out their characters because we put them all over social media,” he added.

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They said, ‘This is the largest size’ – I think that was true. But it’s crazy that the largest size is extra small. My boobs were exploding and my ass was half showing out,” the 24-year-old said.

When I went for the uniform fitting they said I’m the only girl with boobs. They want to hire locals, but most local girls are really skinny.”

Scarlet also found the salary disappointing and realized she could earn more as a beauty therapist. The HK$15,000 ($1,932) per month offered for a five-and-a-half-day week is barely above standard.

They said I would get good tips, but in Hong Kong I don’t think the guys would pay a lot. There isn’t the tipping culture here,” Scarlet said.

Back in the U.S., the company has closed about a dozen stores in recent years, with observers saying the concept of “breastaurants” is outdated.

Warde believes that it will be a different story in Asia. “In Asia we are a new brand. And in America they’ve been closing the ones that haven’t been performing and reopening others. Over the last four years it’s growing, they are on the up again,”he said.

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In the next five years, the aggressive expansion plan of Hooters Asia will also see restaurants opening in Indonesia, Thailand, Macau, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Ali Ewoldt takes stage as first Asian-American female lead in Broadway’s ‘Phantom’

NBC News:

Broadway‘s “The Phantom of the Opera” will get its first Asian-American Christine when its new principle cast takes stage on June 13.

Ali Ewoldt, whose mother is from the Philippines, will play the female lead in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Ewoldt previously starred in Broadway’s “Les Miserables,” and in national tours of “The King And I” and “West Side Story.”

Phantom,” the longest-running musical on Broadway, will also see its first African-American Raoul: actor Jordan Donica, who will also begin performing on the 13.

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Salvadoran-Filipino student scores perfectly on AP Calculus exam

NBC News: 

The son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse got a perfect score on his Advanced Placement Calculus exam, one of only 12 (out of 302,531!) in the entire world to do so.

Cedrick Argueta, a 17-year-old senior who described himself as a quiet and humble guy, has become a celebrity at Abraham Lincoln High School, a school of a little over 1,000 students in the Latino neighborhood Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, CA.

It just sort of blew up,” Argueta told the Los Angeles Times, “It feels kind of good to be in the spotlight for a little bit, but I want to give credit to everybody else that helped me along the way.” He took time to thank his teacher, friends and family for the great accomplishment.

“I have to put in a lot hard work and, as true for anything, if you want to get good at something, hard work is the key,” he added.

Argueta is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom are immigrants. His mom who is from the Philippines is a licensed vocational nurse who works two jobs at nursing homes. His dad, who never went to high school, is from El Salvador and is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes his wife works in.

So, what is next for Argueta? Once he graduates in June, he hopes to attend Caltech and become an engineer who will one day have his name on something that is known around the world.

What proper table etiquette looks like in East and Southeast Asia…

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Mashable (by Chelsea Frisbie):

Whether you’re planning an international trip or you’re headed to a local cultural experience, it’s important to learn about the eating habits of the folks you’ll be dining with. What might seem silly to you could be incredibly important to someone else, so don’t judge.

Langford’s silverware shop has compiled a collection of the dining “Do’s” and “Don’ts”…

Here is an excerpt of East Asian and Southeast Asian countries’ dining etiquette.

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New Philippine mail order site makes Japanese items available at the click of a button

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RocketNews 24 (by Jamie Koide):

Philippine residents can now get their hands on a plethora of Japanese items at TOKYO STYLE.

Although a rising number of Japanese food, media, and accessory retailers online are beginning to go international, it still stands that the majority of the products produced within Japan are for domestic sale only, despite the increasing demand for these items overseas.

Especially in the Philippines, Japanese products are often praised for their high quality, and are favored by a growing number of young consumers. Started by offshore developer Glocalizer and goods distributer and remittance service Transtech, TOKYO STYLE is a new website that aims to cater to this demographic through their easy shopping set-up, as well as further strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and Japan.

The site offers Filipino residents the ability to make group orders off Rakuten and other sites using the website’s order form. A domestic buyer than purchases the items for them and ships them to each customer’s address though Transtech’s Balikbayan Box cargo service.

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Popular items include Cup Noodle and other instant or pre-packaged Japanese foods and snacks, as well as diapers and other daily goods that are also popular with Chinese tourists and other Asian visitors.

Stella Abrera becomes first Filipino American principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre 

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Audrey Magazine (by Ethel Navales):

The American Ballet Theatre has been releasing quite a handful of exciting news lately. You’ve probably already heard about Misty Copeland becoming the first African American principal dancer with the company, but Copeland isn’t the only one making history in American Ballet Theatre, which is now in its 75th year.

Stella Abrera has just become the very first Filipino American to rise to principal ranking, the highest position in any ballet company. Abreba will be performing the title role in the American Ballet Theatre’s  production of Cinderella. Sound like a real-life fairytale? Abreba seems to think so too.

It is a dream come true,” she said of her new position and role. “Every young dancer who joins a large company has dreams of becoming a principal. Once you’ve spent a few years in a company, you realize how much it takes to get to that level.”

Abreba has been studying dance since the age of 5 and joined the American Ballet Theatre at the age of 17 in 1996. Despite her many years with the company, she admits that becoming principal dancer can be an overwhelming and sometimes unrealistic goal. Instead she focused on the joy she felt while dancing and strived to give her very best during every performance.

I feel extremely lucky and blessed that I’ve been granted this recognition,” she said. “I always had a hope, but it was never my ultimate goal at this point in my career. My ultimate goal was to present the best art that I could every time . … I’m completely over the moon.

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It seems Abreba succeeded in impressing audiences during her many, many performances. According to the American Ballet Theatre’s press release, Abreba has an incredible amount of experience under her belt:

Her repertoire with ABT includes Calliope in Apollo, Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Godmother in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Mercedes and the Driad Queen in Don Quixote, Helena in The Dream, Giselle, Myrta and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, His Friend’s Wife in The Moor’s Pavane, Clara, the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Emilia in Othello, the Older Sister in Pillar of Fire, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, the Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois in Swan Lake, leading roles in Airs, Bach Partita, Baker’s Dozen, Ballet Imperial, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Fancy Free, In the Upper Room, The Leaves Are Fading, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides, Symphonic Variations, Symphonie Concertante, Symphony #9, Symphony in C, Thirteen Diversions, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison, Without Words. Abrera created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Violente (Temperament) in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and leading roles in Pretty Good Year and Seven Sonatas. Abrera received the Gold Medal at the Royal Academy of Dancing’s Adeline Genée Awards in London in 1995. She has performed as a guest artist across the United States and Europe, as well as with The Australian Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and Ballet Philippines.

Despite her inspiring achievements, her parents, who have always been her biggest supporters despite the fact that she is the very first dancer in the family, admits that she will always be their little girl who is simply doing what she has always loved.

We really don’t realize how famous she is,” her parents laughed. “We just think of her as just our daughter.”

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Asian fast food items you won’t find in the U.S.

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 Audrey Magazine

We first explored KFC menu items that can only be found in Asia, but what about the rest of the well-known American fast-food chains? There are so many yummy menu items only found in Asia that you’ll have to explore (and get hungry) for yourself, but below are some of the more interesting ones we found:

Nacho Fries– Wendy’s, Japan

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This is definitely not a classic Wendy’s menu item, but who doesn’t love nachos? Wendy’s Japan created the Nacho Fries which consists of classic fries, guacamole, chili, cheese and– for a kick– jalapeños

McRice Burger — McDonald’s, Philippines

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In the U.S., we rave over the ramen burger. In the Philippines, they sandwich a chicken or beef patty between two crispy rice patties! Could this inspire us to create the next burger trend in the U.S.?

Dry Pork and Seaweed Donut — Dunkin Donuts, China

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If you thought adding bacon to a maple donut was a bit odd, then you might be hesitant to try this sugar glazed donut topped with dry pork and crunchy seaweed. It sounds like it would be too much of a salty overload rather than a sweet treat.

Ebi Shrimp Filet-O —  McDonald’s, Japan

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If you love shrimp, this is all you. It’s a simple fried shrimp patty paired with thousand island dressing and lettuce between their signature sesame seed bun.

Veg Sammi — Subway, India

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If you’re vegetarian and think American fast food doesn’t have enough veggie items, you’re probably right. Subways in India carry a wide array of meat-less options and include ingredients you won’t find in American Subways. For instance, this Veg Sammi consists of a vegetarian kabob made of lentils, garlic and onions.

Green Tea Blizzard — Dairy Queen, Thailand

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With the green tea and matcha trend running rampant, why hasn’t this made its way to the U.S. yet? Who doesn’t want to have a green tea blizzard served upside down?

Tekken 7 to feature a female Filipina kickboxing/Eskrima fighter

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Audrey Magazine:

It felt like a dream come true when I first heard that a Filipina character was joining the other Tekken martial artists. However, after looking her over, I couldn’t help but cock my head to the side in confusion.

Josie Rizal, whose name is an ode to the Philippine National Hero José Rizal, is a fighter specialized in Eskrima and Kick Boxing. My confusion first began with Josie’s name and, more importantly, who she was named after.

José Rizal is considered one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines and for anyone who is scratching the surface of Philippine history, he seems like a very good candidate to name the first Filipino Tekken character after. However, it is important to remember that Rizal was not known for violence but rather as a man who used his words to support a peaceful reformation of his motherland. Using his name as inspiration for a combat character makes Josie a walking paradox and has caused quite some controversy. Maybe naming her after the more militant Andrés Bonafacio, the “Father of the Philippine Revolution,” would be more fitting.

Next is her fighting style. For folks unfamiliar with the Philippine martial art, Eskrima is a fighting style that incorporates both hand-to-hand and weapon-based combat. Historically, Eskrima was practiced in secret amongst the commoner/peasant class, especially during Spanish colonization. It’s most popular form includes the arnis sticks–or “armor sticks”–made from bamboo. Some have commented that they would have liked to see Josie with this this key element.

The most debated aspect of Josie Rizal seems to be her costume design. Some point out that her clothing is no different from the dress of her other female counterparts, but others argue that her costume strays too far from traditional Filipino garb. For instance, her crop top seems to emulate the Japanese kimono with it’s bell sleeves and embroidery.

Aside from that, the costume tries very hard to showcase various aspects of Filipino culture– a lavish gold statement necklace that’s shaped into the iconic sun of the Filipino flagsampaguita flowers that hang from the side of her hips, and even the colors of her costume (red, blue, white and yellow) which match the colors of the national flag. The critique? To some, her expensive accessories and even the material of her costume clash with the commoner/peasant fighting style.