The Filipino participants on MasterChef Asia, from left, Jake Aycardo, Lica Ibarra and Rico Amancio. Courtesy Lifetime Asia
The Filipino participants on MasterChef Asia, from left, Jake Aycardo, Lica Ibarra and Rico Amancio. Courtesy Lifetime Asia

TV cookery competition MasterChef serves up an Asian edition

The reality-TV cookery contest MasterChef is launching an Asian edition on September 3.

MasterChef Asia will pit 15 ­amateur chefs from China, ­India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines against each other in the kitchen.

The three Filipino contestants are paralegal Rico Amancio, bank analyst Jake Aycardo and finance officer Lica Ibarra.

The judges are Hong Kong-born, Toronto-based chef ­Susur Lee, French ­Michelin-starred chef Bruno Ménard and ­Singapore-born Audra Morrice, who competed in MasterChef Australia in 2012.

Produced by the Lifetime network, the series, which is being filmed in Singapore, will run for 15 weeks. The winner will receive a US$50,000 (Dh183,657) cash prize and a deal to publish a cookbook.

StarStruck back on the air in September

The Philippines’ most popular reality-TV talent competition is returning after a five-year ­absence.

Scheduled to debut on September 14, StarStruck will feature aspiring celebrities undertaking weekly acting, singing and dancing challenges. The show has jump-started the careers of stars including Cristine Reyes, Aljur Abrenica and Paulo Avelino.

Megan Young, who won the Miss World pageant in 2013, will co-host with actor Dingdong Dantes. Young appeared on the show’s second season, finishing in sixth place.

Jennylyn Mercado, who won StarStruck’s first season in 2004, will be a judge on the revived show. The other two judges have yet to be named.

Rak of Aegis breaks records

After more than 200 sold-out shows, Rak of Aegis has officially become the longest-running original Filipino musical of the past decade. Produced by the Philippine Educational Theater Association, the production was built around the hit songs of the Filipino pop-rock band Aegis, who were massively popular in the 1990s.

The show’s title was inspired by Rock of Ages, the Broadway musical and Hollywood film that featured classic rock hits from the 1980s.

Headlined by the pop singers Aicelle Santos and Kim Molina, Rak of Aegis tells the story of Aileen, a young woman who dreams of becoming a singing sensation on YouTube, so that she can lift her family out of poverty. The musical’s current season culminates on Sunday with its 207th performance.

Copenhagen hosts Filipino fest

The Danish capital Copenhagen is hosting a festival celebrating contemporary Philippine cinema, art and music from Tuesday until August 30. Titled P-Noise, the programme features screenings of recent Filipino films, including Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra (The Bit Player), Khavn de la Cruz’s Mondomanila and Eduardo Roy Jr’s Quick Change. Musical performers include soul band SinoSikat? and Filipino-Danish singer Andy Roda.

P-Noise will also showcase works from photographer Frank Callaghan, visual artist Rai Cruz and performer Carlos Celdran.

Beauty queen exits Pinoy Big Brother

Only a week after entering the Pinoy Big Brother house, ­Filipino-American Jessica Marasigan left last weekend after being informed of the death of her grandmother. This week’s public vote for eviction was cancelled as a result.

The 21-year-old model and beauty queen, from Los Angeles, California, was one of the two housemates who had been nominated for eviction, along with Filipino-Japanese entertainer Miho Nishida. Marasigan was already thinking about quitting the show to help Nishida, whom she considered more deserving of a longer stay in the house. Last week also saw the departure of actor Enchong Dee ­after his short stint as a celebrity houseguest. He has resumed his co-hosting duties on the show. Pinoy Big ­Brother marks its 10-year anniversary tomorrow. A new twist, rumoured to involve the return of housemates from the previous 11 seasons, is expected to be revealed to celebrate the anniversary.

The Voice Kids reaches the final six

The teams of celebrity coaches Bamboo Mañalac and Sarah Geronimo took centre stage this week on The Voice Kids ­Philippines.

The 12 hopefuls competed in the sing-off round, in which they each performed a two-­minute solo. Each coach then had a tough decision to make, each choosing only two to advance to the next round.

Mañalac selected 11-year-old Elha Nympha and 12-year-old Sassa Dagdag, who stood out for her inspired rendition of The Show by Australian singer Lenka – a refreshing song choice, given most contestants’ fondness for high-decibel power ballads. “I think you’re very special,” Mañalac told Sassa.

Geronimo selected 11-year-old Kyle Echarri and 12-year-old Zephanie Dimaranan, whose dynamic performance of Ariana Grande’s Problem quickly trended on Twitter.

The four contestants will join celebrity coach Lea Salonga’s pair, Esang de Torres and Reynan Dal-Anay, in this weekend’s semi-finals.

The second season of The Voice Kids is the most-watched programme on Philippine ­television.


Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Ederson, Weverton

Defenders: Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Eder Militao , Danilo, Alex Sandro, Alex Telles, Bremer.

Midfielders: Casemiro, Fred, Fabinho, Bruno Guimaraes, Lucas Paqueta, Everton Ribeiro.

Forwards: Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Richarlison, Raphinha, Antony, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Pedro, Rodrygo


Created by: Jesse Armstrong

Stars: Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, Nicholas Braun

Rating: 4/5

Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Colomba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Europe
Gordon Corera, Harper Collins

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

The bio:

Favourite film:

Declan: It was The Commitments but now it’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Heidi: The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Favourite holiday destination:

Declan: Las Vegas but I also love getting home to Ireland and seeing everyone back home.

Heidi: Australia but my dream destination would be to go to Cuba.

Favourite pastime:

Declan: I love brunching and socializing. Just basically having the craic.

Heidi: Paddleboarding and swimming.

Personal motto:

Declan: Take chances.

Heidi: Live, love, laugh and have no regrets.


Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and


Dir: Guy Nattiv

Starring: Jamie Bell, Danielle McDonald, Bill Camp, Vera Farmiga

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The biog

Name: Dhabia Khalifa AlQubaisi

Age: 23

How she spends spare time: Playing with cats at the clinic and feeding them

Inspiration: My father. He’s a hard working man who has been through a lot to provide us with everything we need

Favourite book: Attitude, emotions and the psychology of cats by Dr Nicholes Dodman

Favourit film: 101 Dalmatians - it remind me of my childhood and began my love of dogs 

Word of advice: By being patient, good things will come and by staying positive you’ll have the will to continue to love what you're doing

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Male 51kg Round 1

Dias Karmanov (KAZ) beat Mabrook Rasea (YEM) by points 2-1.

Male 54kg Round 1

Yelaman Sayassatov (KAZ) beat Chen Huang (TPE) TKO Round 1; Huynh Hoang Phi (VIE) beat Fahad Anakkayi (IND) RSC Round 2; ​​​​​​​Qais Al Jamal (JOR) beat Man Long Ng (MAC) by points 3-0; ​​​​​​​Ayad Albadr (IRQ) beat Yashar Yazdani (IRI) by points 2-1.

Male 57kg Round 1

Natthawat Suzikong (THA) beat Abdallah Ondash (LBN) by points 3-0; Almaz Sarsembekov (KAZ) beat Ahmed Al Jubainawi (IRQ) by points 2-1; Hamed Almatari (YEM) beat Nasser Al Rugheeb (KUW) by points 3-0; Zakaria El Jamari (UAE) beat Yu Xi Chen (TPE) by points 3-0.

Men 86kg Round 1

Ahmad Bahman (UAE) beat Mohammad Al Khatib (PAL) by points 2-1

​​​​​​​Men 63.5kg Round 1

Noureddin Samir (UAE) beat Polash Chakma (BAN) RSC Round 1.

Female 45kg quarter finals

Narges Mohammadpour (IRI) beat Yuen Wai Chan (HKG) by points.

Female 48kg quarter finals

Szi Ki Wong (HKG) beat Dimple Vaishnav (IND) RSC round 2; Thanawan Thongduang (THA) beat Nastaran Soori (IRI) by points; Shabnam Hussain Zada (AFG) beat Tzu Ching Lin (TPE) by points.

Female 57kg quarter finals

Nguyen Thi Nguyet (VIE) beat Anisha Shetty (IND) by points 2-1; Areeya Sahot (THA) beat Dana Al Mayyal (KUW) RSC Round 1; Sara Idriss (LBN) beat Ching Yee Tsang (HKG) by points 3-0.


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

How tumultuous protests grew
  • A fuel tax protest by French drivers appealed to wider anti-government sentiment
  • Unlike previous French demonstrations there was no trade union or organised movement involved 
  • Demonstrators responded to online petitions and flooded squares to block traffic
  • At its height there were almost 300,000 on the streets in support
  • Named after the high visibility jackets that drivers must keep in cars 
  • Clashes soon turned violent as thousands fought with police at cordons
  • An estimated two dozen people lost eyes and many others were admitted to hospital 

Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Creator: Netflix

Stars: Kris Fade, Ebraheem Al Samadi, Zeina Khoury

Rating: 2/5

The biog

Name: Younis Al Balooshi

Nationality: Emirati

Education: Doctorate degree in forensic medicine at the University of Bonn

Hobbies: Drawing and reading books about graphic design