Heal Our Land: A Benefit Concert For Typhoon Yolanda Victims, with Big Names in Smooth Jazz

Heal Our Land: A Concert for the Benefit of Rebuilding the Lives of Typhoon Yolanda Victims.

There’s a huge gathering of international smooth jazz artists coming early next year in 2014.  Now I don’t mean one after another, in separate shows; I mean fourteen big names in easy listening sharing one stage for one big show.

"Heal Our Land: A Concert for the Benefit of Rebuilding the Lives of Typhoon Yolanda Victims.  Featuring smooth jazz artists David Pack, David Benoit, Kevyn Lettau, Gregg Karukas, Michael Paulo, Spencer Day, Eric Valentine, Freddie Schreuders, Nate Philips, Jonathan Butler, Jessy J, Brian Simpson, Richie Gajate-Garcia and Ray Parker, Jr.

It’s a huge concert dubbed Heal Our Land: A Concert for the Benefit of Rebuilding the Lives of Typhoon Yolanda Victims.

Heal Our Land features international smooth jazz artists David Pack, David Benoit, Kevyn Lettau, Gregg Karukas, Michael Paulo, Spencer Day, Eric Valentine, Freddie Schreuders, Nate Philips, Jonathan Butler, Jessy J, Brian Simpson, Richie Gajate-Garcia and Ray Parker, Jr.

Also featuring some of our very own homegrown talent– Billy Crawford, Sitti, Side A, South Border, Freestyle, Mullato, Zoo, True Faith, Chad Borja and Thor Dulay.

Heal Our Land happens on Friday, just before Valentine’s Day, 31 January 2014, 8PM at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Ticket Prices range from Php5,090 (VIP), to Php640 (General Admission), and you can score some through SM Tickets (phone number 470.2222, website www.smtickets.net)

Heal Our Land: A Concert for the Benefit of Rebuilding the Lives of Typhoon Yolanda Victims is a project of All That Jazz Productions.

5 Things I’m Thankful For – Reflections For Thanksgiving 2013

Renzie Baluyut Online | Adventures in Digital Entrepreneurship, Internet Marketing and Small Business with Renzie Baluyut.

In a rare moment of reflection, I’ve taken a real good look at my life and my current state of being, just in time for Thanksgiving 2013.

I’d say I’m generally glad the way things have turned out for me.  I just turned 40, and somehow, I’m still at it.  Sure, I get the occasional crisis of confidence just like everyone else, but for the most part, I’m thankful for a number of things:

Renzie and Odette.  Taken May 2013 by Gee Plamenco,
Renzie and Odette. Taken May 2013 by Gee Plamenco,

1. The biggest thing I’m thankful for is my beautiful, loving and ever-supportive wife.  We’re cut from two different kinds of cloth, but I love it how we’ve become an even more formidable team, with our strengths bringing up each other’s shortcomings, and how this has given me a totally different outlook in life.

We had a lovely wedding earlier this year, and we’re ready to take on new challenges and create new opportunities for ourselves as husband and wife.

Breathtaking view of Taal Lake from Balai Taal.  Photo by Abie Co-Floreza.
Breathtaking view of Taal Lake from Balai Taal. Photo by Abie Co-Floreza.

2.  My new laid-back lifestyle.  I can’t say it enough:  I love living in Tagaytay.  I love it that I’m so far removed from the traffic and the hectic pace of living in Metro Manila.  I love waking up to fresh, provincial air, and how everyone’s all asleep by 9pm or so.  Having worked in Metro Manila all my life, moving away from the big city is such a welcome change.  The lower levels of stress can only be good for me.

3.  All the weight I lost.  Wow, this is a big one.  Ever since I started working in FM radio in 1994, I’ve ballooned to over 250 pounds, a weight category I’ve maintained for almost 20 years!  Thanks to this Cohen Diet, I’ve managed to shed a considerable amount of poundage.  And while I’ve got quite a long way to go before I reach my goal weight (which is the weight I had from back in my UP Manila days), I’m thankful that I can walk around a lot better now (without a cane!), my feet hurt less, and I can actually wear XL shirts now.

Renzie, Odette and family.  At the Hong Kong public market trying out some real congee for breakfast.  Taken July 2013.
At the Hong Kong public market trying out some real congee for breakfast. Taken July 2013.

4.  My new extended family.   A different, and very interesting set of personalities, and I love them.  More than anything, the new interactions I have spending time with Odessa’s siblings and mom give me, as I have mentioned, a totally new way of looking at things, and for that, I am most thankful.  Here’s to more crazy travel adventures together, everyone!

5.  Business is doing surprisingly well.  Lastly, but not the least, I’m truly thankful that all the hard work we put into our boutique bake shop has made it grow in leaps and bounds.  We’ve got, in my opinion, the best kind of clients– beautiful brides-to-be, and very much in-love soon-to-weds.  Considering I haven’t had any formal training in cakes (other than consuming them with gusto), Id say we’re doing alright.  I’m looking forward to growing the business even more for the coming year.

Tagaytay wedding cakes by Sofia's Cakes Tagaytay-Amadeo Road | www.sofiascakes.com
Sofia’s Cakes Tagaytay-Amadeo Road makes beautiful and delicious custom cakes for Tagaytay weddings and other special occasions! Check us out at www.sofiascakes.com.

Final Thoughts

While Thanksgiving is not really celebrated in the Philippines, we take time to appreciate all the little things that matter to us, because our family and friends in the United States do too.

So from me and my family, to yours, here’s wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Living With HipsterGirl And GamerGirl

The very best of the internet, with Renzie Baluyut - Digital Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner and All-Around Media & Marketing Dude | www.renziebaluyut.com

Random internet goodness, with Renzie Baluyut.

A web comic I’ve been checking out lately is “Living with HipsterGirl and GamerGirl”, a funny new series written and developed by Jago.

The original series is in Spanish, but Jago has an English version of his comic strip out as well, so you could dive right into the lives of Sophie (a.k.a. “HipsterGirl”), Erika (a.k.a. “GamerGirl”), and Artur, the poor hapless dude who has to put up with all their shenanigans.

Here are a few strips of “Living with HipsterGirl and GamerGirl”:

On Helping the Less Fortunate:

 HipsterGirl Hits The Beach!

GamerGirl on Religion:

A Day in the Life of GamerGirl:

Why So Serious?

On Disaster Preparedness:

It Happens In Their Home Too!

If Only We Could…

HipsterGirl on Selfies:

GamerGirl on Free-To-Play Games

There’s a whole lot more of “Living with HipsterGirl and GamerGirl” on Jago’s official website.  So do check it out here.  Should be even more interesting stuff in there if you can actually understand Spanish 🙂  (I took Spanish lessons in college, but that was years ago!)

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Keys To Success: Put In 10,000 Hours

Easy reading: Renzie's recommended reads | A collection of essential books, references, and light reading material you might want to add to your own growing collection

In his 2008 book “Outliers”, author Malcolm Gladwell brings forward the idea of how extremely successful people managed to achieve so much in their lifetime. With several case studies, Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to attain mastery in a particular field. People who are the best at what they do– the very elite among us–whether it be in business, entertainment, any profession or hobby for that matter– have clocked in at least 10,000 hours doing what they do.

Successful People Practice TWICE as Hard

In the early 1990s, a team of psychologists in Berlin, Germany decided to look into the habits of a group of violin students. Particularly of interest were  their practice habits in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  When asked, “Over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?”, some notable trends were observed. Continue reading “Keys To Success: Put In 10,000 Hours”

20 Things the Rich Do Every Day | Financial Wisdom

Renzie Baluyut on Small Business Management

Business inspiration for entrepreneurs and professionals, with Renzie Baluyut.

Renzie Baluyut on Small Business Management

Would you like to know what the rich do in their everyday lives that poor people don’t?  Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey shared this article on his blog, outlining a number of items determined by colleague Tom Corley from all his years studying the habits of the financially successful.

Grow your financial wisdom with these 20 interesting insights:

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% for poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor.

12. 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor.

13. 67% of wealthy watch 1 hour or less of TV. every day vs. 23% for poor

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs.3% for poor.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in life-long educational self-improvement vs. 5% for poor.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% for poor.

About Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is the author of DaveRamsey.com, and runs The Lampo Group, Inc.  The Lampo Group provides biblically based, common-sense education and empowerment that gives HOPE to everyone in every walk of life. He formed the company in 1992 to counsel folks hurting from the results of financial stress.

Since then, he’s written several books on the subject of personal finance, set up a successful website, and maintains a nationally syndicated radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show.

About Tom Corley

Tom Corley is the author of Rich Habits: The Key to Success and a Happy Future.

For five years, Tom studied the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty. He discovered there is a difference the size of the Grand Canyon between the daily habits of the wealthy and the poor. During his research he identified over 200 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots”. The culmination of his research can be found in his #1 bestselling book, “Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals”.

“I Can Feel It” | A Throwback Thursday Tribute To Alice Dixson

Throwback Thursday, Renzie Baluyut

More crap from my childhood on Throwback Thursday!

Alice Dixson is making quite a comeback these days. She’s got this new movie coming out with Gabby Concepcion and Cristine Reyes, she has a number of TV shows going on on TV5, and she’s making the rounds of radio talk shows, magazines and internet interviews.

I had the hugest crush on Alice Dixson back in high school. Even before her TV shows hit the airwaves, I was particularly drawn to her in this now-legendary piece of Philippine advertising: the classic Palmolive commercial from way back 1987.

More than 25 years has already gone by, and hotdamn– Alice Dixson still looks ageless and incredibly beautiful. I don’t usually rave about local showbiz personalities, but when I do, I will proudly rave about Alice Dixson.

Alice Dixson’s Bio:

Alice Dixson (born Jessie Alice Celones Dixson) or often misspelled Alice Dixon (born July 28, 1969), is an American actress, commercial model, and former beauty queen of Filipino descent.

Born to an American father and Filipino mother, her show business career started when she played the role of Faye, a fairy princess, who fell in love to an earthling in Okay Ka, Fairy Ko after joining a former talent contest in Eat Bulaga! (at that time, it was airing on RPN and one of its hosts, Vic Sotto, requested her to be part of the TV series, since he is the owner of M-Zet Productions that produced Okay Ka, Fairy Ko), and Binibining Pilipinas and became the Philippine representative for Miss International in 1986.

Dixson is a licensed realtor in the Province of British Columbia, Canada and also a licensed real estate agent in the State of Florida, US.

Dixson married Ronnie Miranda in May 1999 in Richmond, British Columbia Canada. Because of a very successful return to show business in 2011, she separated from her husband on January 2012. The two filed jointly for divorce in Vancouver, BC on December 2012 citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized on February 2013.

Dixson received her Canadian citizenship on December 12, 2012. She holds dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship

Thanks, Wikipedia!

You can read the rest of Ms. Dixson’s bio on her very own Wikipedia entry here, along with her filmography, awards & achievements. Check out the official Alice Dixson site here, her Facebook fan page here, and her official Twitter account here.

Photos from Ms. Dixson’s official website.

The Van Damme Volvo Commercial That Went Viral

Renzie Baluyut on Marketing

Goddamn!  Van Damme Still Has It!

Making the rounds of the internet today is this mind-blowing commercial of 80’s martial artist, kickboxer and action icon Jean Claude Van Damme.

I doubt if any of the kids these days know who “The Muscles from Brussels” is (yes, he is from Belgium), but if you grew up in the 80’s like me, you know Van Damme for movies like Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989) and Universal Soldier (1992). Forget Street Fighter (1994)– that was horrible. (I should watch it again over the weekend!)

Definitely made sense for him to join Stallone et al for the second Expendables movie.

But I digress. Here’s the Van Damme Volvo Commercial that pretty much took the internet by storm this week:

2 million views on YouTube since it first came out on November 13 (now a staggering 40 million+ views as of November 22! –Renzie).

This is an incredible piece of marketing, and for advertisers and media professionals out there– this is, without a doubt, one for the books.

Difficult stunt without any safety gear? Check. The calm and focused demeanor of an ageless 80’s action star? Check. Easy listening soundtrack from Enya? Check. Beautiful sunset in the background? Got it. Such a simple idea, and it totally works.

Somebody in Volvo is getting a raise for this.

If you’d like to see more commercials, and behind-the-scenes stuff of the Van Damme Volvo commercial, you can go head on over to the official Volvo YouTube channel.

In case you’d want to go try your own stunts, I now leave you with some inspirational Enya music.

“I Need To Tell You” by Joan Cybil Yao

Amidst all the news, updates, stories and features on Super-typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, this piece by Joan Cybil Yao stood out as a truly inspiring read.

A coastline community in Iloilo completely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).  Photo by Raul Banias.
A coastline community in Iloilo completely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Photo by Raul Banias.

I need to tell you: The typhoon was worse than any of us could ever have imagined. The Philippines receives 20+ typhoons every year; floods, landslides and partly-blown off roofs are par for the course. Believe me when I say we have never before seen the likes of Yolanda / Haiyan.

I need to tell you: Everyday, I read the news and reports from the field, thinking we’ve reached the bottom of suffering and despair, only to find new depths. Just when I think my heart can’t break any further from the stories of loss and tragedy, something new turns up to break it all over again.

I need to tell you about the bodies decomposing on tree branches, under piles of rubble from collapsed houses, in churches, on the sides of roads, wrapped in blankets or straw mats. I need to tell you that the news cameras cannot show their faces – features frozen in fear as they died. 

I need to tell you about the storm surge – the 6-meter wall of water that rose out of the sea, rushed several kilometers inland and crashed over every building and house by the coastline. You need to understand that our nation is made up of 7,107 islands; nearly everything is by the coastline.

I need to tell you how the storm surge swept in and out four times during the typhoon. Imagine the tremendous force of the sea, surging forward, crushing walls and foundations – and then that same force, sucking everything back in with it. I need to tell you how children were pulled from their mothers’ arms; how people clung desperately to rooftops or tree branches as friends and neighbors sped by, drowning or screaming for help; how today, bodies are still washing up on shore.

I need to tell you about the woman who had to bury 9 of her family members after the typhoon; about the man who lost 30 of his family members to the storm; about the husband and wife who lost their three daughters, and have only located the bodies of 2.

I need to tell you about the man who told his wife to stay in their house because it would be safer there. He found her body after the waters had subsided, embracing their dead son with one hand and clutching the rafters of their one-story home with another. The water had risen too high.

I need to tell you how the smell of death permeates the shattered cities and towns all along the Visayas islands. How relief workers cannot reach people quickly enough due to destroyed roads, airports, bridges. How even to this day, we do not know the full extent of the damage – communications are still down, particularly in the more remote islands and areas of the Visayas.

I need you to understand how helpless we feel – how our boxes of mineral water, biscuits, candlesticks and matches seem like such a weak salve against the brutal violence that nature has unleashed upon our brothers and sisters. I need to tell you I am driven to distraction, wishing there were more I could do.

Photo by Dennis Sabangan
Bodies line the streets in hard-hit Tacloban City. Photo by Dennis Sabangan.


 At the same time, I need to tell you about the amazing NGOs, universities, corporations and individuals that launched into action immediately after the typhoon.

I need to tell you about the telcos that worked around-the-clock to restore connectivity to at least the main hubs in the Visayas.

I need to tell you about the large international NGOs that opened their websites for donations and began mobilizing relief services, the day after Haiyan struck.

I need to tell you about the universities and schools that have launched various initiatives to raise funds and supplies for the victims; I need to tell you how, from 6am-12mn, there are students and volunteers tirelessly packing bag after bag of relief goods to be sent to the survivors.

I need to tell you about the restaurants that have offered to donate their profits for this week to relief efforts; the shipping and transport companies that have offered to pick up and deliver relief goods for free; the various corporations and rich individuals that have made sizeable donations, even without public announcements.

I need to tell you about the millions of OFWs whose hearts are bleeding for their countrymen right now; who are almost constantly monitoring the news and social networking sites for the latest developments; who are organizing fundraisers and benefit concerts for the victims and survivors back home.

I need to tell you about the generosity of the whole world – millions of dollars in aid, military or medical support from the governments of the United States, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, the European Union, and even our neighbors, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. A pair of young girls in the US set up a lemonade stand to “help typhoon families” – these acts of kindness give us so much comfort and hope during this tragic time. We are immeasurably grateful to be in your thoughts, prayers and hearts.

I need to tell you about the Philippines’ negotiation team to this year’s UN Climate Talks in Warsaw, which is pleading with the global community to wake up to the effects of climate change and take preventative action, while there is still time. I echo the words of lead negotiator Yeb Sano, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

I need to tell you about our government officials – yes, I know, some of them are corrupt, and yes, perhaps they have not handled this crisis as well as we would have hoped – but I need to tell you, there are good people in government. There are people who have slept very little since the typhoon hit; they have been coordinating aid efforts; they have been trying to fix roads, assess the damage, restore order, and channel goods/services to where they are needed most. They may not be doing a perfect job, but now cannot be the time to criticize them. They are our government officials, just like the people in the Visayas are our countrymen and women – we must help one another right now; the fingers we use to point blame are better used to pack relief goods or click on the “Donate” box.


A Philippine flag flutters atop the control tower of a damaged airport after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city
A Philippine flag flutters atop the control tower of a damaged airport after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban City. Photo by Romeo Ranoco.

Finally, I need to tell you about Filipinos: We are a happy, easygoing people, who can find reasons to smile, sing and be grateful – even in the humblest of conditions, even in the direst of circumstances. We care a lot about family; that is why 10 million Filipinos spend years living far away from their loved ones, remitting money that will hopefully pay for better lives and futures back home.

Most Filipinos don’t have much by means of material wealth, but we make up for it by sharing what we do have with one another. It will astound you, sometimes, how those with the least are the most willing to give the little that they do have. I recall visiting a Gawad Kalinga village once, where our hosts, a poor family living in a 16 sq.m. house, actually spent the little money they had to buy food to prepare lunch for us. This, when their family of four would normally subsist on just a pack of instant noodles and rice each day. When you hear the word Bayanihan (rooted in the word “Bayani”, which is Filipino for “hero”) this is what it means: Being a hero for one another.

I can think of no better time for this than now.

The Filipino Spirit Is Stronger

Joan Cybil Yao is an investment manager, and her post “I Need To Tell You” has been shared by hundreds from her Facebook page.

Photos by Raul Banias, Dennis Sabangan and Romeo Ranoco.

YouTube clip of Philippine climate change representative Yeb Sano at the UN’s climate meeting in Warsaw, Poland courtesy of The Daily Conversation.