Rubbing Shoulders With Miss Universe Vice President Shawn McClain  by ARIEL ALLERA

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​Behind the scene where all those beautiful women from more than eighty countries converge, flash their smiles, wave their flags, and vie for the one most coveted Miss Universe crown every year is the most handsome man whom I’d rather vie for had I been one of the contestants. 

This most desirable man I’m referring to is no less than the Miss Universe Organization Vice President for Business Development & Marketing, Shawn C. McClain. 

Although winning his heart is next to impossible, I consider having met Shawn McClain up close and personal as an added feather in my cap, especially that I’m both a buff of Miss Universe beauties and a bug of intellectual hotties. 

It was not a mere encounter I had with Mr. McClain in Manila summer of last year. I attended the Binibining Pilipinas 2016 Coronation Night where Maxine Medina was chosen to represent our country to tomorrow’s Miss Universe 2016 Pageant. It was epic in that it’s not every day that you can rub shoulders with a bigwig representing an organization that you’ve been following all your life. 

I remember it was during one of the segment breaks and I was in the hallway taking my personal break from all the uproar inside Smart Araneta Coliseum. I came across him and then introduced myself as a pageant blogger who flew all the way from Cebu to cover the country’s premier beauty pageant. 

And then he introduced himself too, adding that he was impressed with how passionate I was about pageants. 

I asked him what he thought about Binibining Pilipinas audience in comparison with those at the Miss USA pageant. He told me that “the energy is the same but Filipinos are more fanatic. . . . ” 

We talked about the Philippines’s possible hosting of the Miss Universe 2016 Pageant, which is already happening tomorrow morning at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila and which will be telecast by all TV stations. 

What struck me the most was that considering his position in this “most beautiful organization in the universe” called the Miss Universe Organization, not to mention his super good looks, he was genuinely kind, which goes to say that if only all good-looking men on earth were as kind as Shawn, this would be a more beautiful planet to live in. 

The Miss Universe Organization Vice President Shawn McClain And This Blogger, Ariel Allera

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Don’t Need An App BY ARIEL ALLERA

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​Before I left for Cebu City this afternoon, I dropped by Malabuyoc People’s Palace to take a selfie or two. And only a couple of hours earlier, my cousin Alma Allera Pimentel and her hubby, James, dropped by my house to invite me into a free ride in their car as they’re heading to the city. 

“Thank you. But look, I’m not prepared. I haven’t even taken a bath. Nor have I packed my bags. I still have a lot of cleaning to do in the front yard. Plus, I prefer taking the bus for one reason you already know. But if I’m broke today, I will definitely have no choice. Thanks again,” I declined. 

Alma and James laughed, saying, “Of course, we know. There’s no one from Asia to Europe to the Americas who doesn’t. But it’s O.K. if you need to take a shower or prepare your things. We will wait for you. No problem.” 

I remember a conversation I had with a group of friends at the cafeteria in our office building. We talked about specific topics from finding old friends via social networking sites like Facebook to making new friends, preferably foreign, on various sites. 

They’re all comparing apps and whatnot. And because I wasn’t quite familiar with many, I couldn’t relate. “I’d like to download one of those apps, so I could start searching for new friends now. What’s the best one for me?” I asked. 

But they all said, “Are you crazy?” 

“Why? What’s wrong with me?” I expressed bewilderment. 

They told me: “Ariel, you don’t need an app. All you need is a bus carrying one hot foreign backpacker! You are very spontaneous and confident. You’re one of a kind. And you’re too good to go with us.” 

Right now, I’m on Ceres bus and, while writing this, I’m chatting with my seatmate from a neighboring town whose work is transporting bodies from the hospital to its morgue. How morbid! He’s cute, but I’m sure you will say that he will pale in comparison to all of the foreign travelers I’ve featured in my blogs. 

This blogger, Ariel Allera, takes a selfie while waiting for Ceres bus in front of Malabuyoc People’s Palace in Malabuyoc, Cebu.

Missing Miss Asia Pacific International 2016 by ARIEL ALLERA

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​I received an invitation to interview the winners of the recently concluded Miss Asia Pacific International 2016. But because I just can’t flee my work in the office until two-thirty in the afternoon, I can’t make it to this morning’s press conference at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino. 

The pageant took place on Nov. 23, 2016, at the plush Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and was hosted by Asia’s Got Talent host and one of the Philippines’s most visible hosts, Marc Nelson, together with Miss Asia Pacific 1993 winner from the Philippines, Michelle Aldana. 

Thank you, Jessica Cardenas-Gamao, for the invitation. There’s always an eternal next time for a pageant buff like me. Congratulations to the Miss Asia Pacific International bigwig, Jacqueline Tan-Sainz, on the successful coronation. 

Personally, I love it that the winners were crowned in swimsuits, not in traditional evening gowns, especially because I think it’s just fitting and germane to the fact that the pageant was held in the island of Palawan, known for its world-class beaches with white sands and clear waters. 

Congratulations to Tessa le Conge (center) of the Netherlands on winning the Miss Asia Pacific International 2016 crown; as well as to the fourth runner-up, Miss Korea Soyeon Kim (extreme left); the second runner-up, Mutya Ng Pilipinas Ganiel Krishnan (next); the first runner-up, Miss Thailand Chawanya Thanomwong, and the third runner-up, Miss Cook Islands Felicia George (extreme right). 

Meeting Your Hottest Carpenter from Cold by ARIEL ALLERA

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​”My goodness, Nat! You are absolutely the hottest carpenter I have ever seen in my whole life, the second being Nicklas Pedersen who’s from Denmark and crowned as Mister World 2014 in England. I’m not saying that our carpenters here in the Philippines are ugly. But are all carpenters in your country as hot as you?” I reacted, to his answer to my question about his occupation back home in Australia. 

At around this time last night, this picture-book hottie from down under and I were on the same bus. He’s travelling to Cebu City after a day trek and tour at the Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu. 

I could feel that his limbs seemed drained of all energy, as he was asleep the first time I glanced at my side. But as soon as he opened his eyes, I melted in my seat. His eyes spoke volumes of pizzazz and depth that I couldn’t forgive myself if I let me be unnerved and did not get to know him. 

“Thank you, Ariel,” the hot six-foot-and-one-inch-tall Nat said. “I’m very flattered. I’ve never been so complimented.” 

I said, “Well, your neighbors, friends, and colleagues in Australia must be blind, if not mute. Why on earth has no one ever told you that!?” 

Nat Leach studies Bachelor of Business in the city of Melbourne while working as a carpenter whose specialty is framing. Incidentally, the Danish Mister World 2014 Nicklas Pedersen has worked in the same city as a carpenter, too. But, apparently, they’re not acquainted with each other. 

“Let me tell you something,” I said. “I’m looking at your face and body right now, and I see nothing but perfection. Look at yourself in the mirror. You’ve got perfect cheekbones, the delicious eyes, the best nose, an enviable bone structure, and all that it takes to become a model. Have you done some sort of modelling in Australia? If not, why don’t you give it a try? I know of someone there who’s in the industry. I can hook you up with him. You can also try joining pageants. You’re still twenty-one years old. Very young. Considering all of the above, representing Australia to an international male pageant is never impossible.” 

“I don’t think I will do that. I’m just not into it. I have other priorities, but modelling or joining pageants is not in the list,” the perfect model and beauty king material said. 

I told him about my passion for pageants. 

“No worries, Ariel. If ever I change my mind, I will let you know. And I want you to be my mentor then. We’ll keep in touch and see what’s going to happen,” he said, in jest. 

Australia’s Hottest Carpenter, Nat Leach, and this blogger, Ariel Allera, making friends on Ceres bus

Thank you, Nora Jadraque Libersalle

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​May this bunch of thanks reach all the way to far-flung Perpignan, France, especially to the giver, Nora Jadraque Libersalle, as she travels back there from a meaningful holiday in her birthplace, Malabuyoc! 

I can’t help feeling completely permeated with gratefulness for all that you see in the photo, to my friend Nora, because there’s an all-important event which I’m going to attend in two weeks and I need these to help me feel more confidently beautiful alongside my colleagues.

Yesterday, before I traveled back to Cebu City from my own weeklong vacation, she and I had a cultural conversation about France, her home for more than thirty years, where some of the hottest backpackers I’ve met come from. 

“Sa kadaghan nimong na-meet nga gwapo nga French sa bus or bisan asa, wala pajud ka naka-uyab, Ariel. Ngano man?” Nora asked. 

I choked, laughed, and answered, “It may be because that’s not what I’m dwelling on. I just want to make friends. And the reason why I’m so into foreigners is that I find them interesting to converse with and exciting to look at. I like an intelligent colloquy about different cultures, and I enjoy gazing at someone with totally different eye and hair color.” 

To Nora, thank you very much for being so kind and thoughtful. You have no idea how wide my smile was upon opening the bag in front of my beautiful niece Savannah who grabbed it from me because she wanted to be the first to use everything in it. 

God bless and bon voyage! 

Sephora Powder

Rimmel Stay Matte 

Lipstick

Thank you, Rosemarie Molina

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​From the opulent country of Luxembourg in Europe, these luxurious gifts came, much to my delight, courtesy of my friend Rosemarie Molina a.k.a. Truly Clovers during her last vacation to the country. 

Thank heavens that I was able to locate the SD card where I’d saved this photo which shows what I’m thankful for—Max & More makeup palettes, Max & More eyebrow palette, Max & More eyeliner pencils—to a dear friend from Malabuyoc, whose current hometown for twenty or so years is Luxembourg City. 

As with other friends coming home from overseas as well as every foreign backpacker I’ve met at random and then befriended on the spot, I had a very enriching conversation with Rosemarie, which seemed to observers as though I was grilling her on the luxury of life in Luxembourg, not to mention its culture, architecture, cost of living, etc. 

But more than all of the above that I’ve learned, every minute spent with Rosemarie during her homecoming to Malabuyoc was worth cherishing in that we’re both clueless as to when we’ll ever see each other again. 

It was such a nostalgic get-together, what with the good old days back then, before she flew out of the country to faraway Luxembourg and our best friends (the Chu sisters: Jecks Golrokh, Foxtail Lily, and SC Burris) to the United States. 

And it’s really funny that when we saw each other again, a few hours after she handed me these presents, she could no longer tell whether I was the same recipient, because the next thing that happened right after I started using them, I already differed dramatically from that friend of hers. 

Thank you, dear Rosemarie, for these makeup products, especially for being sweet and thoughtful. I hope to see you again. Continue to warm up the class with your smile and brighten up the faces of the children you teach and inspire every day. May God bless you and your family with peace, joy, and health. 

Once again, with feelings: thank you. 

Thank you: Janusz Baginski & Almira Baginski

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​My heart is replete with thanks for these useful lagniappes to my London-based cousin-in-law Janusz Baginski and cousin Almira Allera Baginski. 

While I was never ever (and never will I be) surprised by the lovely couple’s kindness and bounty, I could hardly believe how they thought I might love peanut butter. 

Yes, bread and (peanut) butter with coffee is my favorite breakfast and snack whenever I’m home in Malabuyoc—because it keeps me mentally sprightly, especially that I’m someone who’s fond of thinking a lot of things over, not to mention a domestic workaholic.

My mom is happy because she loves eating oats for breakfast; my kids (Sebastian, Kenshi, and Savannah) are as thankful for the biscuits and the chocolates. 

And the shoes? 

Oh, I was at a loss for words when I opened the bag! They’ve come in handy because I feel that it’s time I started wearing decent shoes to work. But because they’re too chic and dandy, I’m afraid to start grinding them already against the floor. Just kidding! 

Thank you very much, Janusz and Almira, for these and for every single thing I’ve received from you, since then. I can’t thank you enough. May God continue to bless you and your family with peace, joy, and health. 

Hot French in Hot Springs by Ariel Allera

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​Today I just felt I needed one hour off alone to decompress after yesterday’s bustling celebration of my niece Savannah’s third birthday and all its busy preparation, but I was lucky to buddy up with three hot French backpackers. 

My favorite pool with the best temperature was being cleaned up and emptied for the day, and the next best one was filled with Tagalog-speaking tourists. So I had no other choice but only the second to the hottest, where these altogether handsome guys were kicking up their heels in a language only they could gather but I found very interesting. 

“Hi! Welcome to Mainit Springs and my home town of Malabuyoc!” I greeted Rafik Khelifi, who seemed to be the first one to notice my presence in the pool. He’s the one in red shorts, on my right. 

He told me as we went on and on with our conversation that his place of origin is the African country of Algeria but he’s practically from France though he flew in from London, England, where he’s currently based as a banker. 

Then I did the same to Pierre (extreme right), to whom I told, “You look like the actor Justin Long.” 

Later on, I realized that what I said was an understatement, because this Pierre Denis from Paris who’s temporarily based in London too as a banker looks a touch sexier than that Justin in Hollywood. But what I think makes my new friend more attractive is that he’s quite engaging as a conversationalist. 

Girl, you should’ve seen Pierre’s eyes in person. They’re too enchanting I couldn’t even get my own eyes off of them. 

Then there’s this Martinique-born but now France-based French friend with the most bewitching smile. His name is Bastien Voyer, and he’s the hot Caucasian on my left. 

I silently thanked the forces of the hot spring when he joined in my conversation with his buddies, because I instantly had a crush on him the very first second I spotted him enjoying the cold water flowing outside of the hot pool. 

Last Song Syndrome: Piece of Sky by ARIEL ALLERA

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​So now they’ll understand what prompted me to sing my heart out loud towards the end of my shift today. Here’s one of my favorite versions by Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez, which caused me to burst into tears while my colleagues burst out laughing when they heard me trying mighty hard to reach the notes and emoting like my idol. I’m posting both, because I can’t quite distinguish which one is a better version than the other, although there’s another version by both Regine and Michelle Legrand, which is noteworthy, needless to say. Kindly click the link to be able to watch and listen, and to understand why. Thank you. 


Male Cebuano International Model in Showbiz Sosyal Today by ARIEL ALLERA

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​Buy a copy of the September 5–11 issue of Showbiz Sosyal today and turn to its Success Story page as I present to you our very own male international model from Cebu. To keep you thrilled, I’m not dropping his name here or tagging him in this post. And I’m not going to blab more about this hunk now because everything you need to know is covered in my article. Because I’m featuring him in a national tabloid, and so, even if you’re not in Cebu, you can grab your own copies from any newsstands nationwide, wherever you are, be it along sidewalks or in bookstores. I’d like to thank the Showbiz Sosyal publisher, Jaime Acosta, for this!