Manila, July 19, 2003 by Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (STAR) Gina de Venecia, wife of Speaker Jose de Venecia, is teaming up with "Concert King" Martin Nievera for 2004 – but not for public office. They’re on the same ticket as far as the "Haven for Street Children" in Muntinlupa City is concerned. Martin will star in an exclusive benefit concert for street children on Aug. 9 at the International Study and Fine Arts Center in Fort Bonifacio. Proceeds from the show will go to the building of additional facilities for the haven for street children, a project of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. (CSFI), headed by Manay Gina.

The additions to the compound are to be completed late this year and the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. is going to turn over the facility to the Department of Social Welfare and Development in February 2004. That’s the goal of the Gina-Martin team-up.

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Gina confided to this writer yesterday that now, more than ever, she is seriously considering running for the Senate next year.

"I am praying hard about it. By being senator, maybe I can help our countrymen more and make a difference in their lives. That’s what I’ve been trying to do all these years, anyway."

Being very pragmatic, Gina also wants to know how she rates in the surveys before she declares her candidacy.

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The show, aptly called "Martin for Children," features the concert king with the 70-piece San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The show will be jointly supervised by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and Louie Ocampo. Ocampo is Nievera’s musical director, while Cayabyab handles the baton for the 70-piece orchestra. Martin’s repertoire includes selections from Josh Groban’s hits, a Broadway medley, his original love songs and musical classics of the ’60s and ’70s.

Limited tickets can be availed of at the CSFI spouses office at the third level of Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, with tel. nos. 931-5417 and 931-5670.

All proceeds of the show will help finance the construction the congressional spouses’ banner project, The Haven for Children. According to CSFI president Gina de Venecia, their goal is to complete the nine-building complex, which is composed of four two-story residential cottages, a two-story therapeutic center, a two-story guidance center for parents, two-story livelihood center, two-story administration office and a covered multi-purpose court.

The facility will serve as a sanctuary for displaced children roaming the streets of Metro Manila, particularly the drug dependents.

The members of the working committee for this project are: Margie Duavit and Kimi Cojuangco as chairpersons, Vicky Ablan, Marissa Andaya, Chit Baculio, Trina Biazon, Didi Cagas, Ann Dy, Sandra Estrella, Anne Gordon, Bibia Macarambon, Thelma Dumpit-Murillo, Shirley Plaza, Georgia Remulla and Kathy Santiago.

Meanwhile, Martin is well on his way to becoming an international concert artist. The concert king seems to have already found his niche in Las Vegas. He is particularly encouraged by the renewal of his Golden Nugget contract as the club’s regular entertainer for two months. "Vegas would be the perfect place for me, because it is the haven for entertainers, where singers thrive more as they grow older, like Sinatra (Frank) and Sammy Davis. Even Celine Dion is there now."

Normally, Filipino promoters produce Martin’s show in the US. This time, however, a hotel owner is hiring his services to be the club’s stellar attraction. "They saw me perform in their club (Golden Nugget). Then, they followed me in other venues just to see if I could draw a crowd. When they saw that I could – particularly those from Asia and Hawaii, which are their main targets, they decided to hire me. They will get you, only if they’re sure you could attract a crowd," says Martin. Celebrities gather at Beauty Central opening

Amidst the rain, stars shone as celebrities gathered to mark the opening of Beauty Central, a beauty and relaxation haven located at the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan.

Located on the second floor of Greenlanes, Beauty Central is a one-stop health and beauty destination that houses a beauty salon, spa, flower shop, magazine shop, fragrance store, jewelry shop, accessories store, dental clinic, medical lab, coffee shop, among others. It has a plastic and laser surgery clinic, complete with two operating rooms equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, in addition to 14 doctors’ clinics that offers services in dermatology, cardiology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and many more.

A cozy coffee shop at the center serves as a convergence point for meetings and lazy afternoon talks.

Top beauty stylist and maverick businessman Ricky Reyes is the person behind Beauty Central. "I thought of putting together a place that houses most of the services a family needs in one stop. While mom is in the salon, dad can have his dental appointment and the kids can browse through the magazines or the 20 plus shops in the facility. We are looking at adding more places of interests for the kids so that mothers can enjoy the rest of the day off while their kids are kept occupied," says Ricky. He adds, "Women oftentimes wish that their doctors, dentists, parlor, travel agent and spa are all under one roof. How many hours are wasted just waiting for your doctor to call you in, or driving from the clinic to the parlor, or to buy other stuff like vitamins and supplements, perfumes, flowers, magazines, etc. Now, they are all in one roof."

Arnell Ignacio opened his very own wig and hair piece boutique called Arnelli’s. "We also have Predictions where fortune tellers tell the clients their fortune amid the relaxing ambiance of Beauty Central."

Leading the ribbon-cutting rites were no less than former First Lady Ming Ramos, Guia Gomez and presidential daughter Luli Macapagal Arroyo, assisted by Manila Bulletin’s Ethel Timbol. Also seen enjoying the different shops were former President Fidel Ramos, Menchie Abalos, wife of Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando, Cora Abalos, GMA 7 top girl Wilma Galvante, Presidential Adviser Gabby Claudio, Lani Mercado, Princess Punzalan, Mandy Ochoa, Baby Puyat, beauty queens Peachy Veneracion, Evangeline Pascual, Isabel Lopez, Jean Saburit, Frederick Peralta, Ruth Guingona, wife of Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Jocelyn Poon, Ruby Co, media friends Marita Nuque, Noelle Boado, Tet Defensor, Ivy Mendoza, among others.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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