Dennis Garcia: From bassist and songwriter to painter
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I grew up in the ’70s when Manila was so much fun and no traffic.
No traffic and no Internet. Just radio, TV and magazines (think TV Times and the occasional Tiger Beat).
Hotdog was an emerging band that started the iconic music genre Manila Sound. Their songs included “Manila, Manila,” “Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng Buhay,” “Annie Batungbakal” and “Bongga Ka ‘Day.”

Hotdog band
(L-R) Dennis Garcia with bandmates Lorrie Ilustre, Rene Garcia, Mon Torralba, and (sitting) Roy de Rivera

I’m proud to say “Annie Batungbakal” was about my dear friend and “mother”, Gina Garcia.
She’s the sister of Dennis Garcia, Hotdog’s bassist and writer of most of the band’s hits.

with Gina Garcia
Gina Garcia (R) aka Annie Batungbakal and I at my wedding, November 2000.

While Dennis still writes the songs, he also paints.
This June, he mounts his first major one-man show at Ricco Renzo Gallery, 2nd floor, LRI Design Plaza, Reposo in Makati City from June 7 to 18, 2017.
His acerbic wit, sensual (sometimes sexually explicit) and whole gamut of emotions will be “heard” and seen in glass-encased frames.
He will be exhibiting 25 all-new pieces, all based on songs he has written for Hotdog.

Dennis Garcia paintings

Garcia will bring back all your favorite OPM songs, but this time, on canvas using acrylic and oil paints. He has had no formal education or training for the arts.
In the show, he will introduce an art phenomenon called Outsider Art which he says is “naive, self-taught art from simple inspired people, aimed at your heart, not your wallet.”
Garcia’s paintings will be affordable.

He wants to champion the Outsider Art genre, which is a Matisse-like expressionism movement.
“There are no rules here, my art unchains myself. I am not who will be confined in a box. I have also invited fellow outsider artists to motivate them into working on their own exhibit,” he says.

Words commonly associated with Outsider Art are “naïve”, “pure”, “raw”, “visionary” and “fanatic, untouched by the pettiness of everyday life and mainstream culture.” It unveils the unadulterated act of creation, outside of trends and the desire for commercial success. It can convey the power of the unbridled imagination to create order and beauty from basically nothing.

Through his paintings, expect to see a lot of Garcia’s wit, sensuality and other emotions.
The paintings will be named after Hotdog songs so expect titles like “Behhh Buti Nga,” “Pers Lab” and “Miss Universe ng Buhay ko.” There is even a painting called “Careful,” which is a tribute of sorts to former gossip show host Inday Badiday.

Robert De Niro stars as Bernie Madoff in HBO original film
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In 2008, stockbroker, investment advisor and financier Bernie Madoff made headlines around the world when he was arrested for committing one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history.
Now HBO’s original film, The Wizard of Lies, examines Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme—his deception, lies and cover-up.

The Wizard of Lies

Oscar® winner Robert De Niro comes to HBO for the first time in the role of Bernie Madoff.
Also on HBO for the first time, Golden Globe winner Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Ruth Madoff, Bernie’s longtime spouse and unwitting partner during the events that would lead to financial ruin for countless people and institutions, as well their family’s destruction.

The Wizard of Lies is directed by Barry Levinson from a script by Sam Levinson and John Burnham Schwartz and Samuel Baum, based on Diana B. Henriques’ 2011 New York Times bestselling book The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, which featured unprecedented access and more than 100 interviews, including Madoff’s first interviews for publication since his arrest.
Truth and Consequences by Laurie Sandell is additional source material.

The Wizard of Lies

The film also stars Alessandro Nivola as Mark Madoff, Bernie and Ruth’s oldest son, and Nathan Darrow as Andrew Madoff, their youngest son—both of whom worked with their father at his investment firm.
Other cast members include Kristen Connolly as Stephanie Madoff, Mark’s wife; Lily Rabe as Catherine Hooper, Andrew’s fiancée; and Hank Azaria as Frank DiPascali, Bernie’s right-hand man in the Ponzi scheme.
Diana B. Henriques, the first writer to visit Madoff in prison, plays herself.

The Wizard of Lies debuts May 21, Sunday at 8 AM (Manila time) with a same day primetime encore at 9 PM.
Upcoming showtimes:
Friday, May 26 at 11:20 PM
Tuesday, May 30 8:25 AM
The movie will also be available on HBO ON DEMAND and online at HBO GO.

What you need to know about the Big One and owning a Smart satellite phone
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I seem live in a disaster prone village (but don’t we all?).
In 2006, this poor car was a victim of Typhoon Milenyo.

Car in our village

In 2009, I never thought I would see my street submerged in thigh-high water (my thigh, not Michael Jordan’s)

Never thought this would happen in our village

Thankfully we haven’t been flooded since then. But honestly, we live on an fault line. Chunks of earth are literally just falling off the sides of hills, which have houses on top. Think Cherry Hill.
This photo was taken last February 2017.

Earthquake sign

This April we felt the tremors from earthquakes that were strongest in Batangas.
For a few years now, we’ve been waiting for the Big One. They say it’s bound to happen in our lifetime. I don’t even want to think about it cause I’m getting an anxiety attack…

Because of the recent earthquakes I decided to charge my satellite phone and posted it on Instagram. I received many inquiries on how and where to get one, hence this blog post.

In 2015, I won a satellite phone in a raffle during the SmartSAT launch. Two years later, thank God I’ve never had to use it. Luckily, Tina Mariano, Head of Smart World, suggested a tutorial and sent someone to teach me.

Smart satellite phone

Here’s a dummy’s guide to the Smart Satellite phone.

First, how to get one:
The SMART SAT phone is available over the counter (since it comes in a prepaid package) at any SMART
Wireless Center/store nationwide. No need to present documents, IDs, or proof of billing.
There are also SMART accredited dealers who supply this.
All SMART Wireless Centers have stock. Those who wish to purchase units in bulk can inquire from the sales team in charge of the product.

You can also purchase online.

How much?
Package price is Php 38,500.00. Yes it sounds expensive, but it’s almost the same price as an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy Note. It includes a prepaid SMART Sat SIM card with a pre-load value of 120 units (1 unit = 1 US dollar) valid for use within a period of 1 year from the date of activation.
The Smart Sat SIM uses Smart Sat Top-Up load with denominations of 35, 100 and 250 units.

Smart satellite SIM

Here’s the special SIM.

Smart satellite phone

How to use:
1) Make sure it’s fully charged, but do not overcharge and especially not overnight.
2) Put the SIM inside.
3) Turn on the unit by pressing the red call button for five seconds.

Smart satellite phone

4) Check the signal.
Once the SmartSAT is on, go to an open area, like outdoors. This will not work inside a building.
To use my phone, we went up to my dad’s penthouse balcony to search for the southwest direction (satellite location
if you are in the Philippines, will vary when you are in other countries) on a compass app. There are 2 Thuraya satellites, one is over Singapore and the other is above Africa.

Southwest compass

5) Pull-out the antenna and point it to the southwest direction to find a signal.
There, I got one! Your screen must show Thuraya Philippines, not Emergency Only.

Smart satellite phone

Not this:

Smart satellite phone

6) Do a balance inquiry.
Dial *151# then wait for a text message prompt from the network.

*Note that your prepaid Smart Sat kit comes with a load of 120 units. One unit = one dollar
You may reload using Smart Sat cards, also available in denominations of 30, 100 and 250 units.
Your load expires after one year upon activation. To reload and make the SIM active, you need to buy 250 units (annual renewal).

In case your load expires after the one year anniversary of activation, the subscriber is given a 90-day grace period to load the required 250 units. During this grace period, the subscriber can only receive incoming calls and SMS. He or she can’t make calls or send SMS.

The SmartSAT phone works much like any other mobile phone. It can call any landline or mobile phone in the world. It can send SMS to any mobile phone in the world. It does not have wifi, apps, or social media. It is simply a call and text phone.

SmartSAT’s network enables clear communications and uninterrupted coverage across 2/3 of the globe via satellite. Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.
It does not cover the United States.
To see a list of covered areas, click HERE.

7) How to call:
You simply key in the number with + before it. Start with the country code, then the area code if it is a landline. For example, to call a landline in Metro Manila, dial +63 (country code for the Philippines) 2 (area code for Metro Manila) then the number then hit the call button (green phone button).
To call a mobile phone, dial +63 (country code) then the mobile number without the 0. For example, +639152927963 then hit the call button.

You’ll never know when disaster will strike so it’s best to check the battery monthly.
But if you’re on Twitter like me, you’ll have an idea when a typhoon is coming. That’s when you can make sure your battery and load are full.

PS. Don’t charge the battery until you reach 20% or below.
A fully charged battery on standby can last up to two days, while talk time is one hour.

Special thanks to Jojo Concepcion of Smart Technical Operations-Global Access for coming over to demonstrate the unit. 🙂

Jojo Concepcion

In the Philippines, SmartSAT is used by multinationals, mining companies and fishing boat operators. It is also used by the military, media, for disaster preparedness, relief operations and the maritime industry.
After Typhoon Yolanda, those with satellite phones, like Anderson Cooper lent their units to connect survivors with their worried families.
The Smart Satellite phone can be taken to places where there is no signal, such as hiking trails and exotic resorts.

For more information, go to

Introducing stylish French living by Gautier
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When I think about French furniture, my visuals usually range from ornate (Louis XIV) to avant-garde (Philippe Starck). That’s why I was surprised to find a French furniture brand that carries practical, modern pieces.
Gautier furniture opened only last year at the Shangri-La Fort Bonifacio.

Gautier Front

What I liked most of all are the children’s beds.
The Majestic bed was designed for up to three children sharing a room. The upper bunk is accessible via stair/shelves. There’s a writing desk and storage cabinet.


A pullout bed can be configured to have another pullout bed or storage space.
What’s more, unlike most loft beds, this pullout bed can be completely rolled out and placed in another part of the room so that the desk is completely free from obstruction.


For kids who like to perform, there’s the Piccadilly bed, which was designed to have a pullout stage and storage drawers. This is one of Gautier’s bestsellers.


For older children, the Dimix bed comes with a pullout study desk and lots of storage space.


Gautier has reimagined children’s bedrooms for more than 50 years.
Since then over five million children and teens have slept in a Gautier bed, said the company in its press kit.

“Entering a Gautier store in just like stepping into a French family’s home. The furniture is meant to be enjoyed with your friends and family everyday and not just admired from afar,” said Katrina Lim, general manager of Gautier Philippines.

The Gautier brand came to the Philippines through the Blims Lifestyle Group, which tapped the French company to provide modern and contemporary furniture to the local market.
A characteristic style of Gautier furniture is the brand’s seamless incorporation of materials like wood, glass and aluminum, sustainably produced in Gautier’s factories in France.

Girl's room

Just like the Blims, Gautier is also a family-owned business.
“It took about two years before we were able to bring Gautier to the Philippines,” said Katrina. “There was a bit of back and forth between our families to make sure there was a right fit, both in terms of business and relationship. We’re lucky and happy to call each other partners now, seeing that we share the same values among our companies.”

Gautier offers furniture for every room of the house, including living rooms, dining rooms, adults’ bedrooms, kids’ rooms, walk-in closets, storage units and much more.
Collections include extendable tables, sectional sofas, sofa beds, beds with storage, and corner closets.

bed frame with storage

The Talmont bed with storage: you can put beddings here, or like me, wrapping paper and hoarded shopping bags.

bed frame with storage

Their pieces are customizeable. The Preface modular shelving units can be made as small as 90cm or over 400cm wide.

Gautier preface configuration in grey oak
Preface configuration in grey oak

A sleek, sliding wardrobe

sliding wardrobe

sliding wardrobe
sliding wardrobe

Sideboards come in small and larger sizes. Modular sofas can also be configured to suit different spaces and customized as you choose from over 300 different fabrics.
Worry not. There are design experts who can help you choose from many swatches.


Check out this modular sofa presented in different fabrics:

Sectional sofa
Sectional sofa

Corner sofa with nifty storage arm rest

Sectional sofa
Sectional sofa

“We offer a wide selection of modular furniture to fit your space. For example, with the Preface shelving collection, the elements come in three heights and two widths that you can mix and match to suit your space. They also come in a wide array of finishes,” said Katrina.

Gautier Preface configuration in light oak
Preface in a lighter finish

For bedrooms, Gautier has the Premium collection, which are bed frames hand upholstered in France. These can be customized from a choice of 15 different finishes.
“We try to keep stock of items here in the Philippines but with the endless configurations possible, we will usually order your furniture from France and should take about three to six months,” said Katrina.

Asked what her favorite pieces are, Katrina mentioned the extendable ceramic tables for their look and functionality. Since the tops of these tables are finished with Porcelanosa ceramic, they are heat- and scratch-resistant.

Ceramic aluminum table with brem chairs

Ceramic aluminum table with brem chairs

Gautier’s new collections include the Addict occasional tables, Graphic kids’ bedroom, Setis tables and Symphonie adult bedroom.
Find them at the Gautier showroom at the shopping center of Shangri-La, Fort Bonifacio.
To know more, like them on Facebook.

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