Photo Diary, My UNICEF visit to Tacloban

 

 

I went on a UNICEF site visit to Tacloban a couple of weeks ago. As with every UNICEF trip I’ve taken in the past, I was extremely moved. It has been nine months since this strongest storm to ever hit landfall devastated eastern Visayas. Driving through Tacloban and parts of Palo, Leyte, you can still see many remnants of the physical damage. It’s still quite overwhelming. But in this trip, I also saw a lot of hope.

It was good to see some smiles again. But ask any individual who lived through Haiyan/Yolanda, “How are you doing?/Kamusta ka na?” and tears well up in their eyes. The wounds are deep. Any hint of rain or strong winds brings them back to that fateful day last November 8th. I didn’t want anyone to have to relive their harrowing ordeal. Almost everyone gathered to see me at my visit lost someone they loved during the storm. Instead I wanted to see what life is like presently for those who were affected.

Over 14.1 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Of those, 5.9 million were children. UNICEF continues to provide life-saving and recovery assistance for children affected by Typhoon Haiyan. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Here’s my photo diary of my visit to Tacloban and Palo,Leyte.

 

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Some of the most incredible scenes were of these huge ships that ran aground in Tacloban during Haiyan. In Barangay Anibong alone, there were five ships.

 

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This barangay in Anibong has been declared a “no dwelling zone.” But despite that, people have rebuilt their houses near the water.

 

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Like the sign says, this is still a “danger zone.”

 

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This ship went inland the furthest. It actually hit the high way.

 

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Here’s the other end of that ship that went furthest inland. When my friends saw my photos, one of them asked why these boats haven’t been pulled back into shore yet. She felt frustrated like no one was doing anything. But I have to tell you that these are huge ships. And they are so far inland. Nothing can pull these back to the water.

 

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So instead of being pulled away, some of the ships were being sliced up into pieces by the ship owners.

 

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The irony. A sticker saying “Think Safety” was plastered on this cargo container. It was one of the hundreds of containers from the port that washed ashore. It now serves as foundation for this house that’s not even supposed to be there.

 

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The barangay captain telling me about their dilemma.

 

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Rosario, the Barangay Captain in Anibong.

 

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With the Chief of Field Office Maulid Warfa at the UNICEF office in Tacloban. Some of the UNICEF staff have been on site since the typhoon struck last November 8th 2013. Whenever I visit sites with UNICEF I am not only touched by the stories of the local people but also of the professionals who have devoted their life doing humanitarian work. These are the people who respond to emergencies around the world.

 

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We went to Barayong Elementary school in Palo, Leyte. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014

 

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The acting-principal of Barayong Elementary School showing me and Cromwell Bacareza, OIC of UNICEF WASH Team some of the physical improvements in the school, like a new roof. This school was severely affected by Haiyan/Yolanda. It is located on a mountain. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014

 

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It was heartwarming to see kids back in school. To date, UNICEF has provided learning materials and supplies for over 500,000 pre-school and school-aged children (3 to 17 years) across Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda-affected areas.

 

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I loved seeing smiles back in their faces.

 

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That afternoon, the grade 4 and 5 kids were writing letters to their pen pals from Australia.

 

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This is such a great activity.

 

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Erwin Dolina, teacher-in-charge and acting-principal of Barayong Elementary School and his makeshift office.

 

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His laptop is broken so he is using a separate monitor hooked up to the laptop’s keyboard. Mr. Dolina said the school is understaffed. They only have 4 teachers for the entire school. So teachers double-up with classes. He has to do administrative work in addition to teaching and correcting papers. He also has to check the school on weekends because there are no doors or locks to protect their supplies.

 

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There is a deep well at the back of the school. In order to ensure safety, UNICEF installed pumps and pipes to bring in water nearer to the school. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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OIC of UNICEF’s WASH Program (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Cromwell Bacareza shows me that water from the well is stored in a tank which is connected to these pipes. This is a makeshift lavatory where kids can wash their hands. It’s known as tippy tap. UNICEF supports schools affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda by providing water, sanitation & hygiene facilities and supplies to ensure that children stay healthy, which helps them stay in school. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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The tippy tap is made of modest material. For a low cost, we can ensure that children have access to clean water. UNICEF also provided schools with soap. It is very important for children to wash their hands with soap and water. This needs to be instilled in them at a young age so that we can be healthy and germ-free. Because of the tippy tap, hand-washing becomes a social activity. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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UNICEF also installed safe and clean temporary toilets in every classroom. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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In another town called Abucay, I visited the temporary bunkhouses. This community had an amazing “Child-Friendly Space” set up by UNICEF. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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Inside the tent. A child plays…

 

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I kept falling in love with the babies. Cutie pie. Sigh.

 

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This child-friendly space in Abucay Bunkhouse in Tacloban is a place where young children can play, sing and dance under the guidance of city social welfare workers and volunteers.

 

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To date, more than 40,000 children across Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda-affected areas have accessed psychosocial support at child-friendly spaces provided by UNICEF.

 

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We took a walk around the Abucay temporary bunkhouses. One of the fathers was tending to his container garden. I love that there is a consciousness to grow food. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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With the bunkhouse manager Joseph dela Pena. The bunkhouse is one of the temporary housing programs provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It houses over 180 families with provision to water and sanitation facilities and a UNICEF child-friendly space tent.

 

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I loved seeing these ornaments decorating the alleys. These were made by the community.

 

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Before entering any house, I took my shoes off.

 

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This mother has five children. Except for the baby, they are all back in school. Her eyes welled up with tears when she recalled their experience when Haiyan/Yolanda hit. She said she and her husband hung on to all their kids and climbed the ceiling of a structure. They stayed there all day. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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A pretty young mom shares with me her experience breastfeeding her baby.

 

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I’m always happy to see a breastfeeding mom in any situation. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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I also visited a UNICEF-supported Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) counselling in Barangay 64, Tacloban City. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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This is a weekly program where mothers can get together and have counselling about nutrition, breastfeeding and maternal health issues. There is a child-friendly play space for toddlers.

 

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Another cutie pie.

 

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UNICEF Chief of Tacloban Field office Maulid Warfa and I spent some time playing with children while their mothers attend a UNICEF-supported Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) counselling in the adjacent room in Barangay 64, Tacloban City. IYCF counselling sessions ensure that parents and caregivers breastfeed and give proper nutritious food to their children to keep them healthy. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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City health workers in Sagkahan District Health Centre in Tacloban show me the vaccine refrigerator. UNICEF is providing vaccines, cold chain equipment, and vaccine management training for health personnel across Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda-affected areas. Photo by UNICEF/Joey Reyna 2014.

 

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UNICEF is supporting the Department of Health (Philippines)’s National Immunization Campaign this September, which aims to protect 13 million children under 5 against polio, measles and rubella.

 

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It was good to see mothers bringing in their babies to get regular medical checks at the Sagkahan District Health Centre in Tacloban City. Cute baby alert again.

 

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I took the opportunity to film a short video to help fundraise for UNICEF. For information on how to donate, click here.

 

For information on UNICEF’s programs in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph and like Unicef Philippines in Facebook. To know about my work with UNICEF as Special Advocate for Children, click here.

 

New developments in Ilocos Norte

 

 

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Chapel of La Virgen Milagrosa in Badoc, Ilocos Norte

 

Our Ilocos Norte stories continue. We spent four days and three nights in Paoay but saw a lot of the province using a serviced van. A must-see is the Chapel of La Virgen Milagrosa in Badoc, the southernmost municipality along the coast of Ilocos Norte. The chapel is newly built and has just been consecrated last December 2013. It is one of the most charming chapels I’d seen. It’s situated along the beach of a lovely little cove.

 

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The chapel is built using indigenous materials. It was built by the Provincial government under the leadership of Imee Marcos.

 

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The altar is made of sea shells. It is believed that the miraculous statue of La Virgen Milagrosa was wound floating at sea in the 1600’s and only the residents of Badoc could carry the weight of the statue back to shore.

 

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We had lunch and spent the afternoon at Sitio Remedios in Currimao.

 

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It’s a beautiful seaside resort.

 

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There is a lovely little chapel dedicated to St Michael.

 

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It is so quaint

 

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It’s seen many weddings.

 

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There are lovely old houses…

 

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These houses were transferred to the site from other locations in the country.

 

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Here the houses are preserved and restored.

 

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And now anyone can rent a house and stay there as a guest.

 

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Lily found her spot.

 

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And so did Soph.

 

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Every meal we had included bagnet. Seriously. Yum. Here’s Sitio Remedios’ bagnet and pakbet.

 

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Tomato and onion salad

 

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Seaweed

 

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Catch of the day

 

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Another look at the buttresses of this lovely little chapel. I’d love to stay in Sitio Remedios next time I visit Ilocos Norte. It’s so charming.

 

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The Paoay church (St. Augustine) at dusk.

 

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The moon

 

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My shadow selfie

 

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Buttresses

 

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It’s amazing, especially with the beautiful lighting

 

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Right beside the St Augustine church is Paseo de Paoay, a brand new two-storey building commissioned by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte.

 

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The idea is to bring back the idea of a town plaza where church, commerce and culture can co-exist and attract a lot of tourists and locals. The building was designed by Palafox Associates who also developed the Metro Ilocos Norte Tourism Master Plan. All these — the Himala Concert, Leeroy New’s installation, the new La Virgen Milagrosa Chapel, the Paoay plaza including this Paseo de Paoay — are all part of that grand plan to make Ilocos Norte a dynamic and attractive destination for tourists and investors.

 

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The building has a neo-colonial features. Governor Imee Marcos’ vision is to have new developments conform to the architectural character of Ilocos Norte’s past. The province’s new master plan actually has specific building restrictions and guidelines such as arches, cement tiles and other neo-colonial elements.

 

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Paseo de Paoay was newly inaugurated just days before we arrived. There are a few restaurants open but more are still expected to open. The building is still in its finishing touches.

 

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The courtyard, still under construction.

 

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This was my first time to have Batac empanada and it has changed my life!

 

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All these years people were raving about Vigan empanada and I was always like, ok ya but… Then I tried Batac and wow, it blew my mind.

 

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Ok so look beyond all that unhealthy oil.

 

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The crispiest empanada I’ve ever had. And like Vigan empanada, Batac empanada also has egg. But basically the other ingredients are different – papaya, longganisa and other secrets. This was at Glomy’s in Batac.

 

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I must say this made me so giddy. Our host uses DAPHNE® Home Scents from Bench. They were all over the guest house.

 

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Stella in Batac

 

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OOTD time. That dress I wore at Himala Sa Buhangin concert is one of my favourites. I bought it in Mist in Bali last February.

 

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Sunset was quite spectacular

 

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Great memories were once again made…

 

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Thank you Ilocos Norte.

 

For information on Ilocos Norte Tourism check out www.tourismilocosnorte.com. Part One of my Ilocos Norte Diaries here and Part Two here. Next, more of Ilocos Norte, it’s museums and natural wonders, here.

 

 

Massimo Bonini

 

 

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Sabrina and Massimo Bonini

 

I was in shoe heaven the other week. I had the pleasure of hosting the official opening of Massimo Bonini at Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing. The beautiful luxury shop has been open since November 2013. This was an occasion to celebrate the spring/summer 2014 collection with the founders Massimo and Sabrina Bonini in attendance.

The Massimo Bonini multi-brand luxury showroom was founded in the late 80’s at the Via Montenapoleone in Italy. It started as a melting pot of Italian and international brands of shoes and accessories for men and women. Think mecca of luxury shoes and bags now in 80 countries.

The Massimo Bonini showroom at Shangri-La East Wing carries 27 brands which include: Gianvito Rossi, Bruno Bordese, Etro, Giambattista Valli, Henderson, Kalliste, McQ, Missoni, MSGM, Roberto Cavalli, Thomas Blakk, and Versace.

 

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With the representative of Shangri-La Plaza, Edwin Ngo, the Boninis and Italian Ambasador.

 

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Issa Litton, Tessa Valdes, Karen Jimeno, Rica Peralejo, Tintin Bersola and Angel Jacob

 

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Maggie Wilson-Consunji, Karen Jimeno and Angel Jacob

 

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Same people mentioned above plus Julius and Tintin Babao and Alice Dixon.

 

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The part we all loved… shopping.

 

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I was so attracted to this pair of Sebastian flats! They came home with me.

 

Here it is…
Sebastian

 

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Giambattista Valli

 

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Edwin Ngo, President of 128 Dream Fountain Corp which brought in Massimo Bonini.

 

Massimo Bonini is located at the 2/3 Mid-level Shangri-La Plaza East Wing. Follow them on Instagram @massimoboniniph.

 

 

Evita Peroni Mothers Day giveaway

 

 

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I haven’t done a raffle in a long time. But here is something wonderful for Mother’s Day from Evita Peroni for the mother in you or your life. Five sets of giveaways – a clip, fancy hair ties, hair bands, a brooch/clip, a necklace. Each set valued at over P2,000. We will randomly choose 5 winners. Must have a Philippine address. Metro Manila winners to pick up prizes in Makati.

It’s quite easy. I’m using Rafflecopter. Just follow the three steps – Tweet about the contest with link to this blog entry, follow me on Twitter and like my FB Page. And if you feel like it (you don’t have to), you can leave me a message below and tell me why you’ve joined. All links are on the rafflecopter widget in my FB page here.

Or click go straight to Rafflecopter and check out my Evita Peroni giveaway.

Winners will be announced on May 12th Monday night.

** This RAFFLE is now closed. Winners have been notified by email. Prizes have been sent.**

 

 

SOFA Designer’s Creed

 

 

 

“As practitioners, we know that design is a marriage of aesthetics, functionality, intellect, economics, necessity and of course, loads of imagination. Design is transformative. It moves culture and society forward. However, it is something often unappreciated, undervalued and misunderstood by many.

SoFA Design Institute recognizes the need to empower people on the power of design. The college is committed to promoting design as a positive force in the society, economy, and in people’s lives. It is part of our mission to propagate a true appreciation of design to unite, empower and encourage designers, creatives and artists from all walks of life.

One of the ways we aim to do this is through a common battle cry. SoFA has written and produced a short video entitled “A Designer’s Creed”, with the participation of Rajo Laurel, Kenneth Cobonpue and other creative professionals. It is an inspiring statement of what it means to be a designer. Whether you are a design student, design practitioner, or creative professional, we hope to give you a voice,  a testament and expression of your convictions as a creative person.”

Amina Aranaz
Founding Partner, SoFA

 

I love what Amina Aranaz and Loralee Baron-Soong have done with SoFA. I’ve seen it grow from an idea, to a small school and to the design institute that it is now. Today, SoFA is hosting their 2014 Graduation Show at 6pm, Rockwell Tent. Admission is free.

This summer, SoFA continues it’s short programs for kids and teens. Check out the photos from past summers.

 

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5-yr old Lily at skirt-making class at SOFA (school of fashion & arts)
Lily and Sophia did a session of fashion and crafts at SoFA one summer.

 

Here are the programs offered at SoFA this summer. Sessions start on March 31st, so call soon as slots tend to fill up fast.

 

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For information on SoFA programs, check Sofa College on Facebook or sofa.edu.ph

G/F Enzo Bldg Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue
Makati City, Metro Manila
Philippines
Tel 4784611