The Lion King in the Philippines!


Don’t be late! When you watch the Manila run of the amazing “The Lion King,” make sure you are all settled in your theater seat because the opening act is quite incredible. After over two months of rehearsals, the world’s #1 musical began its performances last weekend at The Theatre at Solaire.

The first international tour of “The Lion King” kicks off in the Philippines before additional engagements in Singapore, Korea and Taiwan. Disney’s new show runs until May 6 and is presented by Michael Cassel Group and Concertus Manila, in association with Disney Theatrical Productions. The production’s co-presenting sponsors in Manila are Globe and Visa.

The principal cast of “The Lion King” includes Ntsepa Pitjeng, who is returning to the role of Rafiki, having performed the role in productions in the USA, UK, Brazil and Switzerland. Direct from London’s West End production is Mthokozisi Emkay Khanyile in the role of Mufasa. Also from the UK is music theatre performer Antony Lawrence as Scar. Other outstanding actors from around the globe include Aussie André Jewson as Zazu, the charismatic New Zealand-born performer Jamie McGregor as Timon, and South African favorite Pierre Van Heerden as Pumbaa.
Joining the company are six actors from the Philippines. Sharing the role of Young Simba is Julien Dolor Jr., Gabriel Tiongson, and Omar Uddin. The role of Young Nala is shared by Sheena Bentoy, Uma Martin and Felicity Napuli. It’s great to see the next gen of Philippine theater get such a superb debut.

I met some of the moms of these young talented performers at opening night. Before the show, my hubby and I enjoyed dinner at Yakumi Restaurant at Solaire to avoid being late. The resort and casino is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year giving lots of perks to its guests.

Last month producers added two more weeks to the Lion King Manila season after local audiences rushed to get tickets, setting new theatrical box office records. As always, tickets available at

More millennial kids took the spotlight at the Bench Fashion Week S/S 2018 at The Playground of the Bench Tower – their third BFW so far. The first day was all for the women, as it featured the latest collections of local brand Kashieca, foreign brands Vero Moda and Karen Millen, and designer Vania Romoff. The second day was a display of vibrance and youth, as the Bench Fashion Week runway became the platform for brands Human and American Eagle, and the new masterpieces of last year’s Bench Design Awards winners Jennifer Contreras, RJ Santos and Jaggy Glarino. The last day of Bench Fashion Week gave everyone a little bit of everything as it featured Suyen Corp’s very own multi-brand venture, Assembly, designer Joey Samson, and of course, Bench.

As always, it was a star-studded 3-day event that included Kashieca girls Liza Soberano, Carla Abellana, Kelsey Merritt, and Bea Alonzo who all walked for the brand. Stunning Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, Marco Gumabao were among those in attendance, while Gabbi Garcia, Maxine Medina, Albie Casino, LA Aguinaldo, and Juliana Gomez were among the endorsers who walked for Bench. Megan Young was also revealed as Bench’s newest endorser.

Young millennial achievers like Nikki Allen, Amanda Zamora, Natalia Ortega and brothers PJ, Michael and Tim Laude joined the Bench endorsers who modeled the summer collection with great confidence. The Laude brothers are the nephews of super generous Alice Eduardo who recently celebrated her birthday giving a hefty donation to the Department of Pediatrics at Philippine General Hospital. Alice, together with her son Jameson, turned over the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Unit, along with the PGH Medical Foundation doctors and Miss World Organization representatives.

Keeping in theme of generosity and passing this virtue to their children, allow me to highlight Belo Smiles, a charity project of Belo Medical Group CEO and Founder Dr. Vicki Belo and her daughter Cristalle Belo-Pitt.

Since 2011, Dr. Vicki spearheaded Belo Smiles, a charity giving free cosmetic procedures to help children with cleft lip and palate. Belo Medical Group has showed the power of beautiful transformations that changed the lives of the children and their families.

Melba Solidum, Alice Eduardo, Dr. Vicki Belo-Kho, Dr. Hayden Kho with Scarlet Snow and Small Laude

Belo endorsers and friends from the press and social media influencers have all shown their support to this cause. Angeline Quinto and Yeng Constantino sang for the kids and they also got the chance to be up close with some of their idols as the celebrities openly bonded with them.

They have partnered with Operation Smiles to reach out to more children. Belo Medical Group has helped more than 150 kids since it started in 2011. It plans to continue the project and reach rural areas in the future with the help of Operation Smiles. In fact, Belo’s very own Dr. Sheila Acosta and surgeons Dr. Jun Caparas and Dr. BG Alcantara are among the volunteers.

Cristalle shared that the Belo Smiles exhibit will be on different locations to help spread support for this cause. This weekend, the exhibit is in SM Mall of Asia, April 6-8 at SM Aura Premier and April 27-29 at SM North EDSA. Indeed, Belo has gone the extra smile to help make a difference in their lives.

Another family-owned local brand is doing their share of CSR as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. Uratex, the country’s leading manufacturer of world-class foams and mattress celebrates this milestone with Uratex Project 50. Starting this March, also tagged as World Sleep Month, the Robert G. Cheng/Uratex Foundation is donating 50 Uratex mattresses to 50 combined public hospitals and nursing homes nationwide. With the aim to make a difference in the lives of countless patients and their families around the Philippines, Uratex Project 50 will certainly improve the condition of the public hospital facilities to promote better health care and services.

At the turnover at Philippine General Hospital, Uratex grand dame Naty Cheng and her daugthers were present and grateful to share all the blessings the company has received all these years.


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