Friday, May 31, 2024


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A unique showcase of artistry marks the celebration of the Baliwag Buntal Festival in SM City Baliwag through the Ico and Lety Cruz Art Competition Awarding and Exhibit, featuring the exceptional creations of local artists from different parts of Bulacan.

The program was made possible by the City Government of Baliwag, through the Museo ng Baliwag, Baliwag City Library, and the Baliwag City Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office, in partnership with SM City Baliwag. Since 2022, the program has been providing a platform for artists to showcase their works while creating awareness within the community with regards to the development of the arts and the preservation of the local culture. It also intends to support the artistic practice through incentives such as prizes, grants, and, recently, a residency program.

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The Ico and Lety Cruz Art Competition is named in honor of notable Baliwagenyos, the late Renato “Ico” Mateo Cruz, a former public servant, and his wife Leticia “Lety” Mercado-Cruz, an educator, who were staunch advocates of Baliwag’s flourishing art, culture, and heritage. To continue the legacy of Ico and Lety, their children co-organized the competition in partnership with the City Government.

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“We, at SM, are honored to be a part of yet again another successful celebration of Buntal Festival,” says SM City Baliwag Mall Manager Rodora Tolentino. “For many years, we have been glad to usher in different activities here at the mall to commemorate this occasion. And today, as we celebrate Buntal Festival through art, we hope that by showcasing the work of these incredible artists, visitors will be inspired to rediscover the world of art and its significance in preserving cultural identity,” Tolentino added. 

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This year’s prestigious panel of judges for the painting category includes painter and printmaker Fil Delacruz, visual artist Mark Salvatus, Associate Director for Audience Development of Metropolitan Museum of Manila Randel Urbano, Division Chief of History and Heritage-Bulacan PHACTO May Arlene Torres, as well as Cultural Heritage Advocate and grandson of Ico and Lety Cruz, Santiago Cruz.

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Hailed as winners for the painting category were Mark Christopher Quizon of Baliwag, Bulacan, 1st place; Ryan Francisco Caslib of San Jose Del Monte Bulacan, 2nd place; and Argee Dacuyan of Calumpit Bulacan, 3rd place. For the on-the-spot painting category, winners include Nathaniel Lopez of Baliwag, Bulacan, in 1st place; Mark Christopher Quizon of Baliwag, Bulacan, in 2nd place; and Ann Lorraine Miranda of Baliwag, Bulacan, in 3rd place.


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The Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) has partnered with microfinance institution Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI) since 2013. In 2022, one of the farmer groups supported by ASHI, AGAP (ASHI Grameen Agricultural Program) became the first group in Luzon to have delivered various vegetables directly to Chowking branches in Laguna. Angel Dorado, ASHI’s Business Development Department Head said this progress is attributable to the change in mindset among the AGAP farmers.

 

MANILA, Philippines. – Filipino farmers remain among the poorest in the country, with nearly one in three living below the poverty threshold, according to 2021 data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). 

In 2022, the World Bank noted that upgrading farmers’ connections to markets and expanding their access to financial services is critical to improving their quality of life. 

Heeding the call to help Filipino farmers, the social development arm of the Jollibee Group, the Jollibee Group Foundation, has committed to uplifting smallholder farmers’ lives in the country through its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP). The FEP brings together stakeholders from different sectors to help transform smallholder farmers from producers to agro-entrepreneurs capable of supplying corporate markets like the Jollibee Group.

JGF has always been focused on pursuing innovative solutions that will make a lasting impact on the communities we serve and ensure food security and access. As we envision every Filipino family having food on the table alongside our goal to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’ Zero Hunger (SDG 2), we find it important to uplift the lives of our smallholder farmers, the very people who bring food to our table,” said JGF President Gisela Tiongson.

To do this, the Foundation partners with various institutions that assist and advise farmers in every step of their agro-entrepreneurship journey to increase and maintain a steady income. To facilitate this assistance, FEP introduced the Agro-Enterprise Clustering Approach (AECA), which aims to achieve inclusive agricultural productivity by guiding cooperative and associations in the country in the clustering and collective marketing of their agri products.

Microfinance institution Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI) is among JGF’s reliable partners. ASHI became an FEP partner in 2013, and they saw AECA as an opportunity to assist more farmers by combining it with their financing services.

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Empowering farmers. Taking a holistic approach to empowering farmers, ASHI now combines financing and non-financing services, including financial literacy training, values formation, farmer organizing activities, and linkage to markets to empower the farmers to become self-sufficient while being proactive members of their clusters. 

 

Financial Goals

Arnolfo Pan, Area Manager of ASHI Grameen Agricultural Program (AGAP) Luzon, has been with ASHI for 20 years and has been part of FEP for 12 years now.

Dahil sa FEP, na-encourage ako lalo matuto ng farming. Natuto ako mag-marketing at magkaroon ng negosyo at mag-set ng financial goals (I was encouraged to learn more about farming. I also learned to do marketing, have a business, and set financial goals because of this program).”

Taking a holistic approach to empowering farmers, ASHI also improves the capability of its farmer-beneficiaries through training, consultations, and seminars that aim to boost their confidence as entrepreneurs. ASHI now combines financing and non-financing services, including financial literacy training, values formation, farmer organizing activities, and linkage to markets to empower the farmers to become self-sufficient while being proactive members of their clusters. 

Like FEP, ASHI also hopes to give the farmers a better grasp of the demands and makings of the institutionalized farmers market and the capacity to empower other smallholder farmers needing assistance. 

Bilang anak ng isang magsasaka, tumutulong rin akong magturo ng makabagong agricultural practices sa ibang tao. Isa sa mga naituro ko sa iba kong kapamilya at mga ASHI members ay kung paano paangatin pa ang buhay nilang magsasaka upang maging farmer entrepreneur, at kung paano makakatulong sakanila ang ASHI dahil hindi nalang pa-lending ang ginagawa namin (As a farmer’s son, I also help educate people on new agricultural practices. One of the many things I shared with my family and my co-ASHI members is how to improve their livelihood as farmers by becoming a farmer entrepreneur. And how ASHI can help them transition to one as we offer other farmer support besides financial assistance),” Pan added. 

Farmer Entrepreneurs

In 2022, AGAP became the first group in Luzon to deliver directly to Chowking branches in Laguna.

Angel Dorado, ASHI’s Business Development Department Head, said this progress is attributable to the AGAP farmers’ mindset change.  “Pag pasok ko sa department na ito at sa FEP, new challenge para tulungan ang mga farmers. Dati mas individual sila mag-isip. Ngayon, importante na ma-develop sila into cluster na merong one goal, one dream, and one mindset (Being part of this department gave me a new challenge to help our farmers. Before, they had individual approaches to farming. Now, we needed to put them into clusters with one goal, one dream, and one mindset).”

Currently, 94% of FEP farmer groups are certified under the Philippine Good Agricultural Practices (PhilGAP), ensuring that crop production complies with food safety standards. This was made possible by the mentoring and training they received from FEP and other partner organizations.  

Through these interventions, 30 FEP farmer groups in the country have collectively delivered 11 million kilos of fresh vegetables worth more than P500 million in sales to the Jollibee Group.

These milestones do not only secure a sustainable supply chain for Jollibee Group, but more importantly, they uplift the lives of the farmers and their families. Pan proudly shared that he built a home, bought a car, and supported the education of his nephews, among other goals, through the program’s help.

Like Dorado, the AGAP farmers have become determined to achieve and scale their business even more. “Mas lumalabas na ideas nila. Pangarap na nila na araw-araw na sila maka-deliver, na maging mas maayos pa ang samahan nila dahil nakikita na nila ang benefit ng ginagawa natin sa kanila na mapaayos ang kanilang buhay (They now begin to think of more ideas. They also have dreams of consistently being able to deliver and to have better relations with their cluster because they now see the benefit of the program in uplifting their lives),” he said.

 

Sky Li shared news about the upcoming realme GT 6 in a recent interview with Forbes


Sky Li, the Founder and CEO of realme, graced the cover of Forbes and shared that the leading smartphone brand is set to disrupt the high-end market with its comeback of the GT series. After a two-year hiatus, realme is armed with the conviction to excel in flagship products.


GT is Back with Ambition

In the Forbes interview, Sky expressed strong assurance in making a remarkable achievement in the high-end market. He reiterated the brand's deep understanding of the young consumers, asserting that the upcoming realme GT 6 would exceed anticipated performance benchmarks. The comeback of the GT series is driven by the widespread global demand among realme users, emphasizing the tech company’s commitment to meeting user expectations.

realme demonstrates fearless competitive spirit amidst the diverse array of flagship smartphones available in the market. The brand is not only leveraging its existing advantages in performance, but also sets its sights on substantial progress in the AI scene. Furthermore, with the consistent impressive results delivered by realme's number series, it is believed that the return of the GT series will resonate with young users.


New Flagship Killer 

The realme GT 5G marked the inception of the GT Series and premiered in India on August 18, 2021. It earned the prestigious title "Flagship Killer 2021" from acclaimed media sources.

The long-waited GT 6 is positioned to surpass its predecessors by a large margin, bringing fresh vitality into a stagnant market. The GT Series, equipped with a set of cutting-edge technologies, is primed to shatter performance barriers across the board. Additionally, the new products of realme GT Series will be a perfect blend of state-of-the-art AI experience and advanced technology, positioned as the "New Flagship Killer Powered by AI".


realme will be the AI Popularizer

AI is deemed to shake up the mobile phone industry and reshape the tech landscape. The emergence of the AIGC era promises to drive market expansion, ushering AI-enabled smartphones into a new phase of growth. “The competition in the industry will shift from hardware alone to a combination of hardware, software, and overall technological capability. AI is becoming the next hotly contested spot, AI imaging, voice and interaction will be the three major trends on the future development of AI,” says Sky Li, in an insightful conversation with Forbes.

In the midst of the era, realme is seizing opportunities to invest in AI innovation and positioning itself as an AI popularizer. With the brand’s latest release, realme will be among the brands worldwide to pioneer and fully integrate cutting-edge AI technology into smartphones, prioritizing enhancements in imaging and daily efficiency tasks.

realme remains steadfast in its promise to a user-centric approach, empowering young consumers with accessible AI solutions. In the future, the entire realme brand will be guided by the objective to address the holistic needs of the young generation, creating distinct AI functionalities tailored to their preferences and lifestyle.


To learn more about realme’s latest updates, visit the realme official website and follow realme on Facebook.


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The experimental folk quintet will be performing at the UP Theater for the first time, following the release of their sophomore album

Filipino indie-folk collective Munimuni celebrates the release of their second full-length album, Alegorya with a major concert happening on July 20, 2024 (Saturday) at the prestigious UP Theater.

Aptly titled ALEGORYA: A Munimuni Concert, the highly anticipated show promises to deliver an audio-visual treat for the senses. The title of the concert is named after their latest release, which, according to the five-piece act, carries many strikingly different emotions and thoughts that don’t normally belong to a single collection of songs.

The critically acclaimed band considers this concert an era-defining milestone, integrating live performances with a chamber setup and a more intricate piece of storytelling. The most exciting part is how Munimuni puts careful thought into the order of the songs, and how they want the entire experience to be a worthwhile journey for their fans.

Practically, this one is the biggest so far in terms of audience, and the longest in terms of set list,” Munimuni explains in a statement. “Creatively, we aim to create an experience that mirrors the album’s inherent complexity.”

ALEGORYA: A Munimuni Concert serves as the band’s third major concert, following 2018’s self-titled concert at the Music Museum and 2019’s Kulayan Natin at Cine Adarna, UP Film Center. The live music offering aims to combine the intimacy and adventurousness of Munimuni’s music with a grander scale in terms of ambition and scope, focusing on the album’s overarching theme of “looking at the world and our human selves a bit deeper” and “going beyond what is apparent on the surface.”

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Munimuni shares, “We’re excited to perform at the UP Theater, not just because of the size and prestige of the venue, but also because it feels close to home. The band started in the UP Diliman campus, after all. Our goal for performing in large shows and smaller shows is the same, though. We really just want our songs to move people and somehow help them go through life with a sense of hope. For this concert, the goal stays the same, but we get to express it in a different way, which we take as an opportunity to grow as artists.”

ALEGORYA: A Munimuni Concert is presented by GNN Entertainment Productions and Munimuni. Tickets go on sale today at 12 noon via  bit.ly/alegorya or https://alegoryaconcert.helixpay.ph/

Check out the ticket prices below.

SVIP – ₱2,800 (with Meet and Greet + signed poster + soundcheck access)

VIP – ₱2,500 (with signed poster)

LOWER ORCH – ₱2,000

UPPER ORCH – ₱1,500

LOWER BALC – ₱1,100

UPPER BALC – ₱800


Manila, Philippines [May 29, 2024] – Chowking officially welcomes singer and actor, Darren Espanto to the family, as he joins the Wok-Sarap Experience with the delicious Siomai Chao Fan. 

Fans were buzzing after the brand's recent social media posts hinted at a new endorser. 

[Official Post Here]

[Official Post Here]


Now, the news is official: Darren is part of the Chowking family!

[Official Video Here]


With his 10th-anniversary concert fast approaching, it seems all good things are coming together for Darren. “I’m happy to join the Chowking family and try something new from the usual food choices with Siomai Chao Fan,” said Darren. “Of course, with the recommendation of my bestie, Kim Chiu, I’m excited to invite everyone to try this kakaibang wok-sarap!”

"We’re very happy that Darren tried and loved Siomai Chao Fan’s kakaibang wok-sarap!" said Jia Du, Chowking PH’s Marketing Head. "We're very excited to invite those who haven’t tried the product to try it — we know this will also be their new favorite and bias!”

With Filipinos enjoying this kakaibang wok-sarap meal, Chowking’s Siomai Chao Fan continues to be part of everyday moments, connecting people by providing a delicious detour to share goodness.

Chowking is hinting at future surprises to keep their fans excited. Stay tuned for updates on Darren's upcoming projects with Chowking!

For more information about Chowking, visit www.facebook.com/ChowkingPH (Facebook) and @ChowkingPH (Instagram).



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The ecstatic dance-pop track serves as SB19’s follow-up to their recently released bop “Moonlight,” featuring Ian Asher and Terry Zhong

 

After setting the dancefloor on fire with the euphoric banger “Moonlight,” SB19 returns with another monumental collaboration featuring Filipino-American hip-hop superstar Apl.de.Ap.

The two powerhouse icons take Filipino music artistry to the next level with the release of “Ready,” a shiny club number that captures the sound of summer effortlessly regardless of the season.

Going extremely hard with bombastic beats and exciting sonic builds, the track finds SB19 and Apl.de.Ap concocting a confident bop with global appeal and strong crossover potential.

Keith Harris, a longtime collaborator of the Black Eyed Peas, produced the song. According to Apl.de.Ap, Harris did an amazing job blending pop music influences with electronic music elements, dance music, and Afrobeats.

The resident BEP rapper also penned “Ready” with Jean-BaptisteVince Nantes, and Denzel.

SB19’s very own Pablo and Josue (Radkidz)on the other hand, contributed to the production of the track, adding final touches and subtle sonic elements. With party-starting vocals gliding atop carefully structured production, “Ready” highlights the individual strengths of both SB19 and Apl.de.Ap while nurturing their chemistry with pure, instinctive joy.

We never got the chance to record together in a single booth, but Apl.de.Ap was such a great guy to work with,” shares SB19’s Justin. “It’s an honor to collaborate with a global superstar of his caliber. We’ve learned so much from his generosity and creative feedback.”

SB19’s Stell was also ecstatic about sharing how game-changing the entire experience was. “It was something new for the group. We appreciate the chance to delve into new genres and production styles that come with unfamiliar territory. But with Apl.de.Ap at the helm of the creative process, we’re just blessed to take on this assignment. It’s not every day that you get to work with an artist you look up to.”

SB19 and Apl.de.Ap’s “Ready” is out now on all digital music platforms worldwide via Sony Music Entertainment.


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OPPO once again proves its dedication to delivering exceptional mobile photography with the roll-out of its AI Eraser tool

 

OPPO continues to make waves in mobile photography by introducing flagship-grade generative AI object removal to a wider audience with the rollout of the AI Eraser in the OPPO Reno11 Series 5G, the brand’s renowned line of Portrait Experts.

OPPO’s AI Eraser is designed to help users seize and perfect life’s best moments effortlessly, making mobile photography and editing easier and more enjoyable than ever.


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A Leap Beyond Traditional Tools

Traditional object removal tools often rely on local algorithms that struggle with precision, leading to incomplete and less than ideal edits. OPPO’s AI Eraser in the OPPO Reno11 Series, however, utilizes generative AI to offer a much higher degree of accuracy. This means users can erase objects from their photos with minimal residual artifacts, ensuring a more natural and flawless finish.

The key advantage of the OPPO AI Eraser is its ability to intelligently fill in the blanks left by removed objects. By analyzing the surrounding elements of the image, it can generate realistic textures and details that blend seamlessly with the original photo. This capability elevates the OPPO Reno11 Series 5G above its competitors, providing users with an editing tool that feels like a professional studio that they can easily access.

 

A User-Friendly and Efficient Journey

Whether you are trying to remove a photobomber in your sunset photo of Boracay or want to replace a pile of rubbish in your street photo captured with the OPPO Reno11 Series 5G, using the OPPO AI Eraser is simple and intuitive.

You just simply select a nearly perfect picture and tap on the ‘Edit’ option followed by ‘AI Eraser’. Then you will use the ‘Smart Lasso’ to draw around the object you wish to remove, or ‘Paint Over’ to cover the object directly. The AI Eraser then works its magic, erasing the unwanted elements and filling in the gaps with generative AI technology.

This tool requires an internet connection to function, as it relies on cloud computing to process the edits. This ensures that the AI can leverage powerful computational resources to achieve the best results. Despite this dependency on connectivity, the OPPO Reno11 Series 5G includes other offline editing tools, ensuring users can still enhance their photos even when not connected to the internet.

 

OPPO’s AI Eraser transcends typical editing tools; it’s a revolution in mobile photography. With its powerful generative AI, user-friendly interface, and commitment to privacy, the OPPO AI Eraser empowers users to create perfect photos effortlessly. Aside from the OPPO Reno11 Series 5G, the tool is also available in the OPPO Find N3 Series.

You can elevate your most memorable photos to a professional level with ease with the OPPO AI Eraser when you purchase any phone from the OPPO Reno11 Series 5G – OPPO Reno11 F 5G (PHP 18,999), OPPO Reno11 5G (PHP 24,999), and OPPO Reno11 Pro 5G (PHP 31,999).

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The OPPO Reno11 Series 5G is available at all authorized OPPO retail stores nationwide and on OPPO’s official Shopee, Lazada, and TikTok Shop channels.

Have you registered for the MyOPPO app? Loyal OPPO users can still enjoy the last days of the summer season as OPPO is extending its MyOPPO Summer promo until June 16! It’s your last hurrah to play the Raining Rewards game on the app and grab exciting vouchers from partner brands such as Macao Imperial Tea, Llao Llao, McDonald’s, Domino’s, and Classic Savory.

You’ll also have more time to share your summer memories with your OPPO device and win the ultimate Vacation Starter Pack which includes two (2) Php 10,000 shopping spree from CUL-DE-SAC at Level 2 of The Podium Mall, two (2) PHP 2,000 Klook eGift Certificates, and two (2) BASH Travel Organizers. Winners will be announced on the MyOPPO App.

For more information on the OPPO AI Eraser, OPPO Reno11 Series 5G, and MyOPPO App user benefits, visit OPPO Philippines’ official website at www.oppo.com.ph and Facebook page.


Thursday, May 30, 2024


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From selecting the perfect destination to organizing the entire itinerary, every detail counts when planning the ultimate summer adventure. Travel besties Cocoy Lim and Justine Sy make sure they have a truly unforgettable adventure with the best experiences. Their secret? They use GCash and its features in all aspects of their trips, from planning to making payments, no matter where they are. Check out these top tips from Cocoy and Justine for you to plan out your next summer adventure!

Tip #1: Don’t forget to get GInsure Travel Insurance for your luggages

When it comes to affordable travel insurance, Cocoy and Justine ensure they’re financially protected before being on the go by getting GInsure Travel Insurance. Within the GInsure dashboard of the GCash app, you can find different insurance products to suit your needs, including GInsure Travel Insurance for as low as Php 350.

Filipinos can benefit from having protection against unexpected travel expenses resulting from trip delays and cancellations, loss and damage to baggage, accidents, and illnesses. Coverage does not include skilled laborers traveling for employment, high-risk occupations, or one-way trips.

As a frequent traveler, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have delayed flights or any issues that are travel-related!” shares Justine.

 

Tip #2: Simplify your planning by using GCash to Pay Online

GCash helps you plan out your trips through its various partners offering special deals at great prices. If you’re shopping for all your summer style needs, you can enjoy special offers on TikTok Shop when you pay with GCash.

Meanwhile, you can find exciting deals for various summer experiences and activities via Klook. You can also use GCash online to pay when you Buy Load for Globe and TM to ensure you stay connected wherever you go.

Cocoy shares, “In my experience, I just tell my friends or travel companions, GCash ko nalang, ha! That means that you’ll just transfer your payments to that person! This just shows how cashless transactions are the way to go. No need to make sure that you have the exact change for the payment, or if you have enough cash to pay!”

Stay on the lookout for more Mega Summer deals this season, so you can venture into new destinations and make lasting memories with your travel besties.

Tip #3: Maximize the ways to pay with GCash

Justine and Cocoy’s recent cashless summer experience in La Union with GCash exemplifies the seamless integration of the finance super app into local travels. The trip highlighted how users can go cashless in one of the country’s most popular summer destinations as they used GCash to Scan to Pay – from dining at trendy restaurants to exploring various attractions and even while going from one destination to another.

Justine explains, “[GCash is so] convenient. Let’s be real, 2024 na, not a lot of people are carrying cash with them, but 10/10 times they have their phone! I’m glad to know La Union is adapting to this. Pati yung tricycle drivers naka GCash, which is convenient!”

Meanwhile, if your summer travels are taking you out of the country, GCash gives you the option to pay cashless with the GCash Card.

Cocoy adds, “The all new GCash Card is my newest travel must-have! I first tried using it when I went to Hong Kong recently, and I was able to withdraw cash, pay for things, and enjoy a low FOREX rate pa!”

Keep using GCash this summer and play Shake It, Win It

The summer fun continues all the way until the end of May as GCash gives users the exciting chance of transforming their transactions into big prizes with the Shake It, Win It raffle.

When you Pay or Borrow with GCash worth at least Php 100, you earn raffle tickets instantly. Every day, you can win GCash credits, exclusive vouchers, brand-new gadgets, or the grand prize of free trips to top local and international destinations.

Download the GCash app today and unlock your next adventure with your travel besties this summer. Tara, Summer na! I-GCash mo!

For more details about Shake It, Win It, visit here. Promo runs from February 28, 2024 – May 31, 2024. Per DTI Fair Trade Permit No.: FTEB-186373 Series of 2024. Supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas


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The vibrant and festive spirit of Filipino culture came alive at SM City Grand Central as the annual “Sagalahan sa Grand Central” delighted hundreds of visitors with its colorful pageantry, music, and traditions. This traditional Santacruzan, held every May, transformed the mall into a vivid tapestry of history and celebration.

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Kicking off the festivity was a grand procession featuring Reyna Elena, the embodiment of Queen Helena, and her consort, Constantine. Adorned in resplendent gowns and intricate crowns, they were accompanied by sagalas (muses), symbolizing various virtues, characters, and figures from the Christian narrative. The parade wound through the mall’s main atrium, culminating in a grand spectacle on the fifth floor.

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Concluding the event, devotees gathered to offer flowers and prayers in honor of the Virgin Mary. Organized by The Chapel of Our Most Holy Rosary and led by the Chaplain, Fr. Paul Nicklaus C. Woo, in collaboration with SM City Grand Central, the “Sagalahan sa Grand Central” not only celebrated tradition but also brought the community together in a vibrant homage to faith and history.

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