Gold and diamond-clad stilletos unveil at the Leatherworld Middle East 2017

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(April 30, 2017) DUBAI-  High-heeled 24-karat gold and diamond-clustered ladies shoes in a black lacquered delivered by helicopter for 30,000 euros, how about that?

On its third year, Leatherworld Middle East 2017, the region’s largest leather trade show has so much more exciting and luxurious leather goods and accessories, designs and innovations, machneries and equipment to offer.

One of its highlights is the debut of ladies footwear collection of Italian designer Antonio Vietri,  the  24 karat gold embossed and diamond encrusted women’s footwear amounting to as much as 30,000 euros.

Vietri was a crowd favourite at Dubai’s Leatherworld Middle East exhibition last year with the  launch of a pair of blue suede loafers with gold ribbons weaved into the outsole valued at 25,000 euros .

His ladies’ shoes collection also features silk pumps embossed with gold or silver and buyers can customise them if they wish with pearls, Swarovski crystals, or diamonds, according to the press statement.

“I’m delighted to officially unveil my women’s collection at Leatherworld Middle East 2017, following the resounding success of the global launch of my men’s collection at the show last year,” said Vietri. “Gulf consumers love exclusivity and luxury that’s entirely unique, and I’m excited to present customers and retailers something completely different from anything they’ve seen before.”


The three-day event which will start from April 30 until May 2 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. will  feature national pavilions from France, South Africa, Indonesia, and for the first time, Egypt. Debut exhibitors  from Australia, Netherlands and Thailand will be joining the regular participants.

Other innovative and novel products to look out for include a selection of Brazilian hair-on-hides cowhide, used primarily for household interiors or furniture;   one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial sewing machines with more than 400 different sewing machine types for the garment, automotive, leather and shoe industries;  3D CAD software;  Amazonian fish hides (the Arapaima is native to South America’s Amazon basin, and one of the world’s largest fresh water fish – it can grow up to eight feet long and weigh 330 pounds) ;  Saudi faux-leather bags; vegetable and chrome tanned leathergoods and accessories; exotic ostrich skin crocodile, python, water-snake, eel, and stingray; ESMOD, the French Fashion Institute Dubai’s talented designers; creations and more.

“Leatherworld Middle East was designed to showcase innovative and novel products and ground-breaking designs in leather manufacturing, design and finishing,” said Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Frankfurt Middle East.  “The show’s vast reach makes it a very efficient vehicle to reach the potentially lucrative regional market.”

According to analysts Euromonitor International (EMI), the MEA’s production turnover of tanned and dressed leather (including footwear, clothes, and accessories) was worth US$4.08 billion in 2016, and estimated to rise to US$4.22 billion by 2020.

The retail value of luxury leather goods across the region is also solid; EMI estimates that spending on luxury leather bags, travel goods, and men’s and women’s small leather items, was worth US$1.46 billion in 2016, with this rising to US$1.84 billion in 2020. #####


WMD 2017 focuses on ships,ports and people connection


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(LONDON) –  The three major components of maritime sector are given much importance on this year’s celebration of the World Maritime Day which is formally observed every  September 28 at the International Maritime Organization  (IMO) headquarters.

The theme ​”Connecting Ships, Ports and People”  itself  implies the valuable interconnection of  the activities, location and manpower involved in one the world’s largest industry.

In his message, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim  was quoted as saying, ” the aim of the 2017 theme is to build on the World Maritime Day theme for 2016, “Shipping: Indispensable to the World”, by focusing on helping IMO Member States to develop and implement maritime strategies to invest in a joined-up, interagency approach that addresses the whole range of issues, including the facilitation of maritime transport, and increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime security.”

(In photo from, Secretary-General Kitack Lim)

As a United Nations’ agency, IMO adheres to achieve the United Nations’  (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  to combat the present challenges of the world– increasing world population; climate change; threats to the environment; unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; threats to food security; societal threats posed by organized criminals and violent extremists; and instability to mixed migration.

IMO hopes that through this effort, more efficient shipping, working in partnership with a port sector supported by governments, will be a major driver towards global stability and sustainable development for the good of all people.”

“Throughout the year, IMO will highlight the importance of “joined-up” maritime developmend across all sectors, both from a policy and practical perspective. “The benefits of a free and efficient flow of goods and trade extend far beyond the ships and ports themselves and we will show how an effective interface between them can help improve the lives of people everywhere, specially in the context of Sustainable Development Goals, ” Kim said in a recorded video message.

He also emphasized the large and growing industrial sector called “blue economy” that must remain -safe, secure and not threaten the environment. Thus, to be sustainable, human activities and a more efficient shipping with the support of government-operated ports must be balanced in accordance with the capacity of the ocean to remain healthy and diverse.




Young Pinay artist blooming in Dubai

(August 20, 2016) DUBAI- She was heard humming by her dad  at the age of two. That was the first sign a talent was born. Her first public singing appearance was at age five when she started schooling .She still remembers the song  -“Reflection,” a theme song of Disney cartoon film, Mulan.


(Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

Trixia Galledo, now 11 years old, has paved her solo singing career in the past years by performing at school programs, on private occasions, guesting on public events and local celebrations organized by the Philippine Consulate Office and  private companies held in the United Arab Emirates; either solo or being a member then of young girls band named Gravity.

She attributes her talent to her mom Odessa, who put her to sleep by singing a  lullaby  but her daddy Rodolfo is the main coach. Watching cartoons and listening to nursery rhymes during her infant years also influenced her.

Her kind of music ranges from R & B, Pop Rock, Rap, “except Country” she said with a shy, innocent smile. She admits dancing but a bit, and that she can play the ukelele and piano. Her favorite singer: American singer /songwriter Melanie Martinez who competed at The Voice and Arianna Grande, whose songs hit the US Billboard and music award -giving bodies.2

(Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

Five years from now, she envisions ” inspiring others by her talent and performing on international stage.” She also dreams of doing stage musical plays. Her inspiration to succeed is a quote from a movie- “…when you have a path that might scare you, take the risk.. you never know what’s going to happen..” To her peer group, she would like to share what she learned; that is, “to do what they love and to do it as an experience and exposure.””

“Trixia is humble. down to earth and practical,” says her mom. “During concerts or gigs that happen mostly on weekends, she balances her time for studying, practicing  and resting. Her schedule until December is full.”


(Souvenir group photo with Mrs. Dessa Galedo (left) and daughter Trixia Galedo.)

A mother’s advice to the parents, ” motivate and accompany your child towards the passion and talents and give full support. ” You don’t know what comes next.”


(Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

Trixia is presently performing in duet with Josh Labing-isa, also a young Filipino talent. Their latest show together was held mid-August at the Holiday Inn Hotel as guest performers at Darcmatter, an adult band’s first concert in Dubai. Watch out  for the announcement of a major concert of the two budding artists.


(Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)


​In a struggle for her homecoming

DUBAI- She is sick, bedridden,in pain and  physically weak but her spirit is strong in her battle against breast cancer that metastasized to her bones.IMG_5857

(This photo was taken by the writer a week before Divina Sales was rushed to the hospital. She was bedridden for four months. )

Fifty-year-old Divinia Sales was diagnosed with cancer in 2014; had an operation in 2015 but had not received chemotherapy up to present not only due to financial reasons but residency  and credit issues that made her reluctant to seek medical treatment.

In January 2016, she suddenly became immobilized due to pain in her right hip and remained in bed at present. Her worries on availing medical attention heightened that she was no longer interested to be hospitalized.

For four months of enduring pain and vomiting during food intake, she was rushed to the hospital via an ambulance due to difficulty in breathing and her debilitating physical condition. Finally, she got the necessary treatment she was afraid of.

(At the Gulf Cancer Center in Abu Dhabi for her 5 cycle-radiotherapy, with her sister accompanying her. Photo by Lapis Mia)

She was very well taken care of at the Dubai Hospital for almost two months and her condition ameliorated. Her hip improved as well as her kidney and lungs. The hospital was generous to offer other needed treatments but she wanted to go home. Home to the Philippines to be with her family she had not seen for a decade.

Her struggle is not against cancer alone but for her repatriation. She should travel while her physical condition permits her to be in air flight for more than 9 nine hours on a stretcher; without an oxygen tank supporting her as much as possible.

With fervent prayer, her family, friends, colleagues, and fellowmen are hoping for her immediate travel clearance and repatriation process. Efforts are being done by fellowmen to provide her financial assistance too.

(Left: From POLO-OWWA, Tess Bautista visits the cancer patient to know more about her status and how to help her in her request to go back to the Philippines. Photo by Mabieh Amirah Bangsoy)

( Volunteer Bridget Lloren provides initial  physiotherapy to Divinia, days after she was discharged from the hospital. Photo by Lapis Mia)

Luzan Express Cargo reaches out to a cancer patient

(July 26,2015) DUBAI –  When help is needed, we call on family,friends, colleagues and the public for support. We blast the social media, email addresses, and mobile phones with text messages and call out for an appeal.

As the awareness campaign about Filipinos in Dubai battling with cancer continues, various pleas, updates, and efforts are exerted by the Kabayan Cancer Warriors, a group of volunteers advocating support to fellowmen with cancer.

Luzan Cargo Express, a fast-expandingcompany in the United Arab Emirates did not hesitate to offer support to one  kabayan, Divina Sales, 50 years old,who has metastatic Stage 4 breast cancer.

(Photo source: Luzan Express Cargo Facebook page)

The management offered complimentary  cargo shipment of the patient’s belongings back to her hometown as she is planning to go back to the Philippines. It was an unexpected gesture but  truly heartwarming.

The owner keeps away from publicity but hears the call for charity.  Luzan Cargo Express values its commercial business alongside with public service reflected on their previous efforts during calamities in the Philippines.

(Photo source: Luzan Express Cargo Facebook page)

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(Standing Right to Left: Media practitioners and endorsers Ed Ybanez and Junie Sorsano visit the patient and offered the complimentary cargo shipment. Photo by Lapis Mia)

Charity does not have any brand but meaning.

(May 30,2016) DUBAI- Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are most often perceived as “brand-conscious” in fashion and beauty.  But in general, OFW would say, they run for quality and affordability, as one could read in a newspaper column that features the “branded” Pinoy (short for Filipino).However,they also know that  fancy things are just perks of life and there are more valuable than those commodities.

In commemoration of  the 118th Philippine Independence Day, this group of men and women fashion savvies and models will conduct their second season of their outreach program for distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) headed by freelance journalist /contributing writer and charity advocate, Ed Ibanez who penned the Branded Pinoy column.

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This will be held on June 10,2016 from 8:00 a.m onwards at the POLO-OWWA hall in Al Qusais, Dubai.

The team will provide four airfare tickets to the OFWs in coordination with the POLO-OWWA. Gift packs consisting of personal items will also be distributed and free of charge cargo through the generosity of Luzan Express Cargo , Infinity Beauty Lounge and Spa-Rigga,  their charity project sponsors.

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Ibanez, himself, an awarded model, acting / commercial personality and a media practitioner in the UAE since 2011, formed the Branded Pinoy group of OFW models from his regular column in Kabayan Weekly tabloid.

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He has been involved in charitable activities during his elementary days in Bacong,Anda, Bohol and continuing his commitment on reaching out to the needy up to this day. His objective in helping out the distressed workers in the country is “to promote unity among OFWs in the UAE and good characteristics of Filipinos.”

Strange, but true, you might not believe it.

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The wallpaper of my cell phone for several months now. (Photo source: Facebook)

(May 29,2016) – DUBAI- I was so eager to reach home and get hold of my laptop to start writing about my extraordinary experience this morning.

Have you ever encountered the spirit of a dead person, or at least seen signs of his or her presence when he /she had just passed away a month ago? I did. Today.

I knew about her and her physical conditions when I attended a program for the distressed Overseas Filipino Workers at the POLO-OWWA (Dubai) in October last year. A member of a Christian organization supporting cancer patients asked me a favor to feature this lady’s story in a weekly newspaper for the Filipino community.

She had a breast cancer that metastasized to her bones and in need of financial assistance. She had been battling the disease since 2013. Her name is Emilie Padua Ramos, 47 years old,  a single parent with two sons.


My first visit and interview with Emilie in February 2016, during her chemotherapy at the Dubai Hospital (Photo by Lapis Mia)

We were strangers to each other. For four months, I only communicate with her through phone and Whatsapp until I finally met her in February during her chemotherapy session. I failed in my attempt to publish her story in some newspaper. I approached several publications but nothing happened, so i just dedicated a Facebook for her and other “kabayan” (fellow Filipino) cancer patients as I found out that in one hospital alone, there were 6 Filipinas undergoing chemotherapy at that same day. That sparked my cancer awareness campaign- to call the attention of the 800,000-strong Filipino community that there are people suffering from cancer and in need of support from their fellowmen. I must say, in need of that sense of belongingness too, being in a foreign country.

But she passed away last month due to complications. Her lungs and kidney weakened. I was there during her last few days, having spent a night watching over her and during her last few hours on earth.

Today, 34 days after her passing, I busy with my own personal dilemma. I was praying over a major decision I need to make and I was asking for Divine Intervention. I have work-related issues to settle when my phone rang and I answered it. A lady was following up my attendance in one event.

IMG-20160416-WA0000This photograph instantly appeared on the screen of my phone.  (Photo by Lapis Mia)

My phone which bears an inspirational artwork SUDDENLY  changed into a picture as I put the call down. Emilie appeared on my phone screen. A photograph of her while lying on a hospital bed with her family and friends including the lady who introduced her to me popped up. She was right there facing me.

When I shared this incident with a friend, she commented that maybe I pressed something on my phone that made the picture appear. Yes, it may be the case, however, out of the hundreds of photos on my library, why this one?

I believe she was with me  during my ordeal. She was my guardian angel; heaven sent to guide me along the way.

Thank you for being with me.


Our only picture TWOGETHER.  She was weak but attentive to us when we visited her and still managed to smile at our jokes. I was trying to catch that smile. A week later, she passed away.


Emilie Ramos Padua is not only a beautiful lady as can be seen on this photograph but also creative,artistic, hardworking entrepreneurial, neat, classy, yet, above all descriptions that were given to her by her fellow OFWs who knew her for 13 year-long stay  in the United Arab Emirates, what I personally know about her is that she is a STRONG WOMAN and a LOVING MOTHER who fought for her life until life itself surrendered.


Emilie’s 40th Day after death will be on June 3, 2016. 

The 40th Day concludes the 40- day memorial period  and is observed by the Filipino families though it originated from traditions of Orthodox Slavs.

It is believed that the soul of the departed remains wandering on Earth during the 40 day period, coming back home, visiting places the departed has lived in as well as his fresh grave. The soul also completes the journey through the Aerial toll house finally leaving this world. The rituals during the period aim to let the soul go in order to keep it from returning and bothering the living. (source: Wikipedia) ####

Reminiscing my Reiki awareness


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(May 18, 2016) DUBAI- The accumulated problems, worries, anxieties, fears, anger, unemployment, loneliness, isolation, destitution, deprivation, deprivation, desperation, -name all the negative description in the world and it fitted me during that time. But that lead me to my deep and personal awareness. That was the time Reiki and I met.

Eleven years ago. I became an  Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). It was my first time to work abroad and got separated from my family and friends. The job offer came as a surprise to me; unimagined and unexpected .The thrill of  a first airplane ride, the island style of living in one of the countries in the Pacific, and  earning dollars  all made me excited. My marriage was chaotic and totally damaged. I have three children and at a loss.

But just like in the case of most OFWs, the beginners’ luck was elusive. The most common dilemma that workers face is being overworked and underpaid, breach of contract,sexual harassment, and racial discrimination.

To sum it up, my career, love life, family bond , personal well-being, financial status, and spirituality were all at the lowest level.  I remember meeting up the parish priest because of fear that my hatred would eat me up and rot my soul. The conversation with the priest was comforting .Yet, in me, I knew that something was still lacking.

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I have heard of Reiki some few months back then. I got hold of a book being printed in the company where I worked and saw advertisements in the newspaper.  Verily, on the time that my hands laid on the book, I felt the calling and the connection.

And just in time, a Reiki class was on the way. I spoke with the Reiki Master, a young, American guy, Peace Corps volunteer, and  botanist.

What is Reiki and why did I get attracted to it? All I knew and  understood from what I read was energy-healing by unblocking all the negativities and that was I desperately needed the most. “I must have it now,” I told myself. And so I looked forward to that day.

I hardly remember now how many of us took the class. By the way, it is called “attunement” or initiation to healing energy and only Reiki masters can conduct the process of spiritual reconnection.


Taken during a complimentary Reiki session for multiple sclerosis /cancer patients and survivors in Dubai on April 2016.          (Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

What did I learn from this? -That we live in this energy-filled Universe and  so is our body; that a clash between negative and positive energies causes our mind , body, and soul to degenerate, decays and  decompose. Mental, emotional and spiritual breakdown leads to the manifestation of physical illnesses.

As these negative blocks and baggage raise its level, we become sick, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and even financially.

Those were the basis of my fears. I was scared that eventually, because of hating my situation and some people around me, I would end up a loser.


What did I experience during Reiki? At first, it was getting to know each other among participants from different cultural background. Then sharing of some deep-seated reasons why we were there.

I can hardly recall now, in sequence, the attunement but I can still remember clearly my personal experience. As I closed my eyes to meditate while seating on a chair, I  found myself staring at a beautiful waterfall, saw a masculine figure standing in the middle with whom I felt a strong emotional attachment though his face is unrecognizable, hearing birds chirping, and looking with amazement at the beauty of trees and flowers. I felt cold air surrounded my legs and swirled upwards while I was sitting up straight.

During the second part of the session in the afternoon, not sure if it was attunement or a healing session for us, but it was during that part when something dramatic happened to me. Far from the ordinary happenings in the morning, I was stretched out on the mat, unconscious of what was happening around but I know it was very calm. Then I started to sweat profusely. Bean-sized sweats came out of my face and arms and my stomach ached terribly. I wanted to vomit but nothing comes out of my mouth. I believe it was not something or anything but an inclination that it was the rage inside me fighting with itself, trying to stay inside me but defeated by the force extracting out its roots.

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Bean-sized sweats came out of my face and arms and my stomach ached terribly. I wanted to vomit but nothing comes out of my mouth. I believe it was not something or anything but an inclination that it was the rage inside me fighting with itself, trying to stay inside me but defeated by the force extracting out its roots.

In a few minutes, I was back in my senses, tranquil and light-hearted. My Reiki master told me that this was a new experience for him too. He shared to us that each and every Reiki experience is unique to each individual


With co-Reiki practitioner.        (Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

This I have proven in my Reiki sessions to my family, friends, colleagues and even strangers. Hearing their experiences amaze me all the time and a wonderful learning too. However, one should not expect any dramatic reaction. This is  not the essence of Reiki but the attainment of our highest good , (something that we all pray or wish for –what is best for us. His will be done.). And remember that, Reiki practitioners do not claim to be healers, but channels of healing. The healer is the owner of the body himself/herself.


A whole-body Reiki session has two parts, the  front and the back application.  (Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

How did Reiki attunement affect me?  There was no dramatic result days or months after my attunement but I experienced that the universe supported me and my heart’s desires. The things I prayed and hoped for happened accordingly. Divine intervention, if you believe in it, intervened on time.


Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

We are always under stress 24/7, from waking up to sleeping and waking up again. We are always looking for ways to reduce stress by taking a break. We shop, dine, dance, party, gamble, drink- do anything that will make us relax a bit. And we keep on searching.

At some point, I shelved Reiki. but knowing the impact it created in my life during the lowest point, Reiki is a part of me. It covers no religion at all. It is a universal life energy that we all possess. Anyone can channel Reiki with the proper attunement.


Me (left) as a volunteer with Kasey Conrad, organMe (left) as a volunteer with Kasey Conrad, organizer of Reaching Out With Reiki Middle East,  (right) receiving support.

Reiki is a natural energy approach to healing and complementary to medicine. It is Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing developed in 1922.

Though many are still skeptical, giving it a try is a win-win situation; always for your highest good.

Peace, Light, Love Healing!