Category Archives: Entertainment

Honors Aplenty: Lao Trio’s Diverse Contributions At Home, Abroad Attract Gongs from Japan

Laos' trio Madame Chantasone Inthavong, Mr Somphou Douangsavanh and Ms Alexandra Bounxouei

It’s been nothing if not an eventful week or so for three Lao citizens who have made their own very distinctive contributions in diverse efforts and fields, strengthening the cultural links and future prospects for people in landlocked Laos and on the Japanese archipelago alike.

Likely the most well-known of the trio among the general public, popular songstress Alexandra Bounxouei (Sandra) was the first of the three to collect home her recognition.

According to her profile, Sandra has been a regular visitor to Japan and been performing in collaboration with Japanese artists since the early 2000s and acted as a goodwill ambassador for educational projects and organizations such as  JICA (Japan International Corporation Association) and PSI (Population Service International), Unicef, WPO and many more.

The multilingual vocalist, violinist and voice actor, studying a PhD in Media Design at Tokyo’s Keio University took home a Foreign Ministers’ award that was presented in Vientiane by Japan’s Ambassador to Laos, Takeshi Hikihara.

The next in line to be honoured was Madame Chantasone Inthavong, who received a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Award in Tokyo from JICA president Mr Shinichi Kitaoka.

Chantasone Inthavong

Laos’ Madame Chantasone Inthavong receives JICA President Award from Shinichi Kitaoka.

Madame Chantasone is a Japan-based textile expert and founder of the establishment of the Houey Hong Vocational & Training Centre, keeping the skills and spirit of Laos’ valuable textile culture alive in their hands of the up and coming generations.

She is also instrumental in the NGO Action with Lao Children that helps to provide books and educational materials to schools and their students in need in Laos.

Last but not certainly least, the third and final awardee Dr Somphou Douangsavanh, a long-serving representative of Laos’ National Assembly.

The Chairman of the NA’s Cultural and Social Committee, Dr Somphou was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun’s Gold and Silver Stars.

The Gold and Silver Stars are the second highest in the Order of the Rising Sun and is typically conferred upon prominent academics, politicians and military officers from both Japan and abroad.

The Order of the Rising Sun was established following Japan’s modernizing Meiji Era by the famed Emperor himself all the way back in 1875, and was known as the Imperial Order of Meiji before its renaming.

Mr Somphou was born in Xieng Khuang Province in 1954. He served as the President of the Lao-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Association between 2011 and 2016.

During his tenure as President of the Lao-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Association, Mr Somphou Douangsavanh was said to have made “invaluable contributions to the fruitful cooperation between the two countries through, among others, active exchanges with numerous members of the Japanese parliament”.

His award ceremony was attended by current President of the Laos-Japan Friendship Association, Ms Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun, who also serves as Minister of Education and Sports.

Mr Somphou Douangsavanh

Laos’ Mr Somphou Douangsavanh awarded by Japan’s Ambassador to Laos, Mr Takeshi Hikihara.

Mr Somphou Douangsavanh

Mr Somphou Douangsavanh

Emmy win for HCM Trail Documentary: Mountain Bike champ Rusch traverses Laos in Blood Road

Rebecca Rusch

Traversing the mountainous spine of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, three-time world mountain bike champ, US mountain cyclist Rebecca Rusch’s eye-opening 2017 documentary Blood Road has won an Emmy, one of US televisions highest honors.

The documentary film brings the less adventurous and athletic of us on a ride to learning more about the trials and tribulations of remote and rural Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia post-Vietnam War (also known as the 2nd Indochina War or American War).

The film won the prize for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction at Tuesday evening’s 2018 39th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, helping audiences to understand the ongoing impact of war on Laos. The film was screened at the Luang Prabang Film Festival 2017.

The daughter of a military airman shot down in war, in 2015, Rusch set out on a journey to find her father’s crash site with a film crew.

Pairing up with Vietnamese cross-country mountain biker Huyen Nguyen, the pair retrace the 1,200-mile Ho Chi Minh Trail, a historic secret network through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos that the Northern Vietnamese used to supply forces in the south.

On their journey, they receive insights and assistance from many locals, keen to welcome and share their stories to create a better future. The film also received logistics support from local and international experts on the ground in Laos and beyond.

The endurance test brings the pair and the audience to face the past and to look to make a positive impact on the present and future.

Blood Road had its BC Premier earlier this year at the 2018 VIMFF.

The American author and ultra-endurance athlete was 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike World Champion in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Rebecca Rush celebrates Emmy win for Blood Road with followers on Twitter.

The film attracted warm reviews from the press upon release, including the LA Times,  ESPN and more.

 

Swiss Horn, Lao Khene, Fanglao Whip Up A Storm for the Ages at Lao National Circus

Winds & Musics

With a horn blazing, local and international folk were drawn out of Vientiane’s homes, guesthouses and hotels like the children in the fabled tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin as “Winds and Musics”, a traditional x modern Lao-Swiss music/dance collaboration, descended with much fanfare upon the capital Friday night.

Out front from the beginning was the incredible swiss horn and saxophone of Switzerland’s own Eliana Burki, ably backed on guitar.

The outsized intruments were hard to miss, and the sounds they created well-adjudged sublime.

The attendees were entranced further when the swiss sounds were joined by the sound of the Lao khene pipe and drums.

Things went up another notch with the addition of dancers, expressing the sounds in the physical form, much to the selight of the crowd of many ages and nationalities.

The intimate yet inclusive Lao National Circus space once again proved a phenomenal locale within to enjoy live music, with the city’s denizens counting down the days until the next chance to enjoy each other’s company in the Lao capital.

Thank you to all including the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation the Winds & Musics Swiss-Lao ເຂົ້າຊົມຟຣີ event, Eliana Burki and all artists for a great Friday night experience in Vientiane, Laos!

Check out more images at @Laos Briefly.

Celebs & Famous Faces Among Line-up to Test Drive Jaguar in Lao Capital

Aluna joins Jaguar Art of Performance Tour

High-speed celebrity spotting went into overdrive at ITECC at the weekend as performers like Jo Jo Miracle, singer Aluna Thavansouk & model and actor Tot Lina joined the famous faces lining up for a spin in a Jaguar over the at Lao-ITECC.

Road to Tokyo2020 Paralympics via Catwalk as Athletes Make Model Efforts

Lao Paralympic Athletes

Tears of joy, pain and expectation; the road to Tokyo2020 Games, like all Olympics and Paralympics before them, is being paved with them, and particularly in the South-East Asian nation of Laos.

The efforts of aspiring Paralympic athletes as they strive to achieve personal bests and to represent their nations at the highest level have always resulted in the shedding of the proverbial “blood, sweat and tears” at locations from one corner of the globe to another.

The fashion industry might seem many metaphorical miles away from the sporting arena in form and function, but the will to compete and the struggle to break down barriers continues apace, in this case in the South-East Asian nation of Laos.

That was the case as Lao Fashion Week teamed up once again with Laos-active Japan NGO Asian Development with the Disabled Persons (ADDP) to showcase Laos’ parasports athletes alongside employees of inclusive social enterprise as amateur fashion models on Laos’ fashion’s biggest professional stage, working to break down barriers to participation in across society.

Pumped to the powerful voice of emerging Lao teen singing sensation Alita Alounsavath to the strains of “never give up, no, no”, the crowd in the Lao capital rose to their feet to applaud the participants and the efforts of the participants and the NGO that supports their struggle to make dreams a reality against the odds.

Alita Alounsavath

Alita Sings up a storm at Lao Fashion Week for ADDP on Road to Tokyo 2020.

 

Adorned with creations by Japanese flower designer Norie, the models continued a long-running annual collaboration between LFW and ADDP to help make the show a reality. Among them was Pia, who represented Laos at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in powerlifting.

Indeed, the connection between sporting and socio-economic participation lies at the heart of the organisation’s mission. Initiatives of ADDP include the Parasports Promotion Project with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which seeks to smooth the path to greater participation on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and beyond.

The project involves providing training and expertise from Japan and beyond to benefit parasports athletes and coaches in Laos to compete in multiple sports.

The program most recently saw Parasports Powerlifting training in Kyushu, Japan under experienced coach Takashi Jo before participating in Asia-pacific regional championships in the city of Kita-Kyushu.

Wheelchair basketball and goalball, an adapted sport for the vision impaired, also feature in the project.

The latter sport was the subject of a short film inspired by the life and sporting efforts of Lao goalball athlete Ms La Dalavong, whose young life was forever changed by an accident by war-era unexploded ordnance (UXO) before discovering a path forward through sport. A Lao New Wave Cinema production, the film visited the inspiring athlete in her home village and on the sporting court in Vientiane

Other ADDP initiatives include the sign-language friendly and inclusive Minna-no-Cafe where customers and staff alike can communicate with the hard of hearing.

The NGO also works with its employees to produce a range of popular cookies which are for sale at various outlets including the cafe.

ADDP was also a participant in efforts that saw the creation of a Lao-Japan Friendship Sakura Park in Viengxay district, Huaphan province planted with Japanese cherry blossom trees.

As in all nations, the participation of disabled persons in Laos comes up against various barriers of access, physical, social and institutional.

It is understood that greater participation for all people and profile of disability issues in Laos can be increased via ADDP initiatives and major events such as Lao Fashion Week. As in fashion, by celebrating the achievements of past and present participants and strengthening pathways, the dreams of the aspiring Paralympic competitors and fashion industry participants are nurtured alike.

For an industry often criticised as fickle and superficial, initiatives such as this prove the adage that fashion can have a big heart. I’m not crying… you’re crying! Somebody dry my eyes!

Images via Laos Briefly

     

ANZ Laos Holds Food, Beverage and Agriculture Forum

ANZ Food Beverage Agriculture Forum

Improved domestic cross-border transport and logistics, coupled with widening and deepening demand for clean, green vegetables and fruit both in neighboring China and across the emerging economies of Asia presents a host of potential niche opportunities for Laos to capitalize upon, an audience in Vientiane has heard.

Laos’ geographical position, economic potential, road and rail transport development and relatively high rate of rural dwellers make the need for a more productive agricultural sector inevitable and imperative as well as desirable, the ANZ Food, Beverage and Agriculture Forum was told in the capital.

Despite updates on the risks from global economic headwinds on trade, the mood remained upbeat in Vientiane last week at the forum organised by the Lao institutional arm of the Melbourne, Australia headquartered ANZ Bank, one of Australia’s big four financial institutions.

Increased interest in the agriculture, food and beverage production sectors come at a time when Lao policy is attempting to walk a fine fiscal line, seeking increased investment into the landlocked country to make the most of opportunities afforded by improved regional transport and infrastructure links and the demand driven by consumer trends in much larger neighboring markets.

Existing strengths such as the country’s famed coffee and tea crops, and potentials such as milk production were important areas on which to focus, ANZ Agribusiness Insights head Mr Michael Whitehead told the forum.

High-quality products based on clean and green production and carefully niche targeting alongside the development of “Brand Lao / Brand Laos” were ways to thrive and prosper in a competitive global environment as consumer tastes and relative supply capacities continue to rapidly evolve across the region.

The forum saw attendance from Lao and international firms large, medium, small as were representatives of ministerial bodies, the diplomatic corps and international organizations.

Advice and experience of established firms in Laos was also aired and shared by business in the form of the Carslberg-invested Lao Brewery Company, producer of the popular Beerlao and Tigerhead Water brands as well as Lao franchisee for Pepsi Cola was joined by firms including Mekong Timber Plantations.

Hosted by Crowne Plaza Hotel Vientiane, forum attendees included Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce H.E. Phanthong Phitthoumma, Vice Minister of Finance, Mme Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice President of LNCCI, Mr Daovone Phachanthavong, along with Australia’s Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco.

Joining Mr Whitehead were ANZ’s Head of Food, Beverage and Agribusiness, Patrick Vizzone, and CEO ANZ Laos Rufus Pinto for the August 30 event.

Images: Laos Briefly

Samsung Releases Galaxy Note 9 in Laos

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The biggest and most powerful smartphone is back in its latest iteration, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and comes with the new intelligent S Pen to really blow away the competition.

The product was officially launched in Laos by Lao Samsung Electronics on Tuesday.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is possibly the highest performance Android device on the market, and includes a 4000 mAh battery with fast power charge, for long life and use.

It features a dual rear camera system including two 12-megapixel cameras, one wide angle with dual aperture and the other a 2x telephoto camera.

The phone includes 128 GB of internal memory and RAM at 6\8 GB, and features a 6.4 inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display screen size with QHD resolution and HDMI connectivity.

S-Pen

The latest addition to the newest in the Galaxy series is the Bluetooth-enabled S Pen, which uses a supercapacitor to operate the S Pen away from the phone for up to 30 minutes. Users can then simply slide the S Pen back into the phone body for a full charge.

The Intelligent S Pen can be used to activate functions on the phone itself, such as video or camera remote control, power point slide control, etc.

Managing Director of Samsung Laos

According to Managing Director of Lao Samsung Electronics, Mr. Seungho Choi, Samsung not only leads the smartphone market, but continually focuses on developing new functions for the convenience of users.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was launched at an official ceremony in Vientiane, attended by Mr. Seungho Choi, alongside members of the business community, government officials, and invited guests.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is now available at all Samsung retailers across the country.

Photos: Lao Samsung Electronics 

Miss Universe Laos 2018 Selected Without Contest

Miss Universe Laos 2018

The Miss Universe Laos Organization has officially announced its selection and appointment of On-anong Homsombath to represent Laos in the Miss Universe 2018 competition.

Miss On-anong was suddenly announced as the Miss Universe Laos representative today in a move that surprised many of the competition’s closest followers, who expressed concern at the lack of any contest to decide the winner.

The organizer, TVLAO HD, announced the appointment on its Facebook page, saying, “On-anong Homsombath, first runner up Miss Universe Laos 2017, age 23, height 171cm, graduated from Kaposvar University, Hungary 2017, majoring in International relations. She worked at the Mekong River Commission.”

Miss Universe Laos 2018 full shot

The 23-year-old was described as having a unique and outstanding beauty, language competency, elegance, and understanding of Lao culture, which made her deserving of representing Lao women in the Miss Universe 2018 competition.

The competition has been fraught with controversy this year, with the sudden selection of this candidate coming directly after the very public resignation of Alexandra Bounxouei, a popular musician, as director of the contest. Ms Alexandra she cited a lack of preparedness and transparency as the reason for her resignation.

alexandra resigns from Miss Universe