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PET LOVIN’ Pet issue


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PHP 199 | USD 5.25 | GBP 3.25 | EUR 3.75


TABLE OF contents What’s On




Heavy Petting

Calendar A listing of exhibits, shows and events to keep your calendar filled


Pet Hotels A listing of pet hotels to allow your furry loved ones to enjoy their very own staycation

43 Local Shores Art of Living Read up on how Tarsier Botanika is all set to elevate the art of resort living in Bohol

26 Get the best pet-related apps on your mobile devices

PET LOVIN’ Pet issue

32 Treat your pets to thoughtfully crafted furniture from Bow House


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56 On the cover: (from left to right) The Estella brothers: Giustino, Fiorenzo, Marco and Flavio with their pets. Shot on location at Big Ben Farm in Pulilan, Bulacan. Expat would like to extend their deep thanks to The Estella family as well as Big Ben Farm owners, the Eusebio Family.



Fujian Find out why you might want to consider putting Fujian in your togo list 66 Get an idea of how to breathe in the sights and sounds of Trinidad & Tobago

Puesto del Sol Experience Puesto del Sol’s winsome chill factor

70 A couple chronicles their unforgettable African Safari

nila za Ma ine Pla p ip il h lP Sofite

ge fique Voya My Magni


Ta b le A rt d e la

le Marché de Noël

Fes ti v e

Dec or




Holiday Hacks



Beyond Wrappers and Bows We give you some tips and tricks that’ll help keep your sanity this madding Yuletide season

Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers Treat your pet parent loved ones to simple yet spot on gifts this Christmas

86 Coloring Stress Way We dabble into the trending stress-release that is the adult coloring book

For Pets’ sake




Indonesia Find out how this archipelago’s many wonders leave an indelible imprint on your soul

Doc Nielsen CARA, Doc Nielsen, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines and the Philippine Canine Club—Get to know the people and groups championing animal welfare

Grub Hub


Red Light Dining Sample the evolution brewing beyond the red lights of Makati’s Burgos area

104 Paolo Nesi gives you the lowdown on all things champagne

Experience Modern Oriental Hospitality in the Heart of Manila

Discover the seamless blend of business and leisure made more inviting with a spectacular view of the Manila Bay sunset, delightful hospitality, and all the capital's major cultural attractions close by.

For enquiries and reservations, please call + 63 2 252 6888 or e-mail

1588 Pedro Gil corner M.H. Del Pilar, Manila 1004, Philippines tel +63 2 252 6888 fax +63 2 252 6777

A Touch of Winter at EDSA Shangri-La, Manila Walk into a white winter where snowflakes stay on Christmas trees, glittering lights transform into a colorful spectacle and polar bears live in ice castles; these are just a few of the splendid things that make the season magical when you spend it at Edsa Shangri-La, Manila.

Have a joyous celebration filled with wonders and surprises for your holiday retreat. Bring happiness to life as you spend time with the people you love at the warm comforts of the hotel, from their luxurious rooms to lavish festive offerings. A memorable Christmas story is waiting to be told at Edsa Shangri-La, Manila. Visit the hotel’s Grand Lobby at 7:00 in the evening, watch snowfall, and even feel snowflakes touch your cheeks. Enchanted holiday staycation Warm up for the holidays at any of the hotel’s elegantly appointed guestrooms and

dream of a white Christmas and a hopeful New Year. Avail of either of the family inspired room packages, Holiday Magic rates start at PhP6,900++ inclusive of an overnight stay in the Garden Deluxe Room, four complimentary tickets to the Disney on Ice Show, and buffet breakfast for two adults and two kids at HEAT Restaurant. Stays valid from Dec. 25 to Jan. 3. Opt for the Winter Solstice room package, rates start at PhP9,800++ inclusive of an overnight stay in the Garden Deluxe Room, Shop and stay card, 20 percent savings on food and beverage vouchers, Chi, The Spa treatment for two, and buffet breakfast for two adults and two kids at HEAT Restaurant. Stays valid from Dec. 19 to Jan. 10. Holiday packages entitle in-house guests to a complimentary access to the swimming pool, aqua play and health club. Festive gathering Gather your loved ones and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with a bountiful feast at Edsa Shangri-La, Manila. The all-day dining restaurant HEAT will be offering a delectable yuletide spread of International dishes and all-time Filipino favorites. Set aside the worries of the holiday rush and not having the time

10 | expat

to prepare the perfect Yuletide feast. Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet is priced at PhP3,988 net, while the Noche Buena is at PhP1,800 net. Indulge in a sumptuous lunch and dinner spread on Christmas Day for PhP3,200 net and PhP3,988 net. An exceptional gastronomic experience is yet to be enjoyed by guests dining in on New Year’s Eve. Dinner buffet is at PhP4,288 net and Media Noche or midnight buffet at PhP1,800 net. On Jan. 1, celebrate with a festive lunch at PhP3,200 net or dinner buffet at PhP2,500 net. Guests may opt to indulge in a lavish feast at Edsa Shangri-La, Manila’s specialty restaurants. Revel in an array of authentic Japanese specialties at Senju on Christmas Day for PhP3,000 net, New Year’s Eve for PhP3,550 net, and on New Year’s Day at PhP2,500 net. For big families, a festive set menu for 10 persons is available at Summer Palace from Dec. 24 to 25 and Dec. 31 to Jan. 1. Relish a delectable eightcourse Chinese menu for PhP25,858 net for lunch and PhP35,840 net for dinner. An elegant Italian affair at Paparazzi will delight guests with its four-course dinner on Christmas Day for only PhP3,000 net and a five-course dinner on New Year’s Eve at PhP3,550 net. Christmas indulgences The magic of gift giving comes alive inside the stunning Ice Castle at the lobby. A spectacular life-sized display filled with gift ideas perfect for your grown up Christmas list. Bestow the gift of wellness and serenity with gift certificates from Chi, The Spa or Health Club. Spread the yuletide cheer with an array of confectionary goodness such as The Bakeshop’s signature banana bread that comes in different flavors, chocolate truffles, gingerbread house, almond cluster, stollen, roasted chestnut cake, panettone, apple mince pie, macarons and so much more. Price starts at PhP55.00. For premium giveaways, three variations of Christmas hampers are offered - Snow Frost at PhP2,500 (chocolate Santa, iced Christmas cookies, stollen, pumpkin banana bread, and assorted flavored chocolate truffles), Christmas Breeze at PhP4,500 (chocolate Santa, iced Christmas cookies, stollen, panettone, homemade jam, mince pies, nougat bar, and assorted pralines), and Silver Bells Hampers at PhP5,500 (chocolate Santa, iced Christmas cookies, apple-spiced banana bread, homemade jam, panettone, Christmas kouglof, raspberry macarons, mince pies, almond clusters, and assorted pralines). The Ice Castle display and festive offerings are available from Nov. 10 to Dec. 28. Cheers to 2016 Welcome 2016 in style with glitz and glamor at Edsa Shangri-La. Adorned with all things that sparkle, the Lobby Lounge gives you a memorable New Year celebration that will last a lifetime. Dress your best and join the party featuring a live band performance by Freestyle. When the clock strikes 12, pop the bubbly and light the sparklers! New

(opposite page) Lobby Lounge Snow; Lobby Lounge Christmas tree; Christmas Indulgences at Edsa Shangri-La Manila (this page from top) Tower Wing Deluxe King; Lobby Lounge snowman; Festive Feast at Edsa

Year Party tickets is priced at PhP3,125 net. A special rate of PhP6,500 nett for an extraordinary International buffet at the Lobby Lounge, and PhP1,565 nett after dinner rate for restaurant guests at HEAT, Paparazzi, Summer Palace and Senju. Rates are inclusive of free flowing sodas, chilled juices, beer, wine, and a glass of champagne. For inquiries and reservations, please contact our Information Center at (02) 633-8888 or email esl@shangri-la. com. Visit edsashangrila and stay connected, like, follow @edsashangrila on Twitter and @ edsashangrila on Instagram. 

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Expat Travel & Lifestyle Vol. 9 No. 4

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Macjanry Imperio Nikki Joy Habana Stephen Slade Joy Buensalido Paolo Nesi AA Yaptinchay

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Jennifer Codera


A Festive, Furry Resonance It should be possible to promote a global religion, and set the course for a nice holiday that remakes shopping into an altruistic act of gift giving, without involving herds of gentle beasts. And yet the wildly colourful story of the nativity – the commemoration of Jesus’ birth in humble barnyard surroundings that quickly expanded beyond the spare reportage of the Bible into the many-sided sacred and secular celebration we now observe – suggests you can’t have a worldchanging religious event unless there are animals around to give it deeper resonance. Christmas underscores the emotive power of the lively creatures we need to share our world and bear witness to our experience. Or is it vice versa? They are always forcing their way into domains humans claim as their own, whether it’s cat videos taking over the Internet, fourlegged creatures dominating the subject matter of ancient cave art, an orangutan being granted the right to be freed from a Buenos Aires zoo this week or the recent frenzy about whether dogs can nuzzle their way into a people-centred heaven – based on a disarmingly casual statement by Pope Francis that “the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” Prompted by animal-thronged representations of the nativity scene, Christians are increasingly reassessing the theological role of animals, and how it can be made to fit the disproportionate, often disarming part they now play in our everyday experience.

Photo by Oliver Romero

“The birth of Jesus isn’t just about humans but about all of God’s creation,” says Michael Bourgeois, professor of theology at Emmanuel College in Toronto. “If having cows and donkeys and sheep in nativity scenes and Christmas pageants helps encourage and reinforce this line of thinking, so much the better.” That’s an excerpt from a December 2014 article by John Allemang in The Globe and Mail discussing the theological role of animals in Christianity and the birth of Jesus. Now, let’s just get this out of the way. We are in no way attempting to get into a similar discourse over the place of animals in what has become the annual Yuletide merriment most of the world partakes in. Yes, this issue comes out just before the holidays. And yes, we’ve decided to make it Expat’s very first Pet Issue. But the concept and reasoning behind that decision is far less theologically inclined, and much more leaning toward the simple fact that pets, whatever they may be, are downright adorable. With that said, here’s what to expect as you flip through these pages loaded with awe-inducing cuteness. We’ve got an entire section filled with things you should know if you’re a pet lover. From the mustdownload pet apps, to getting acquainted with online dog trainer Doggie Dan from New Zealand and the phenomenon of how cats came to rule the Internet, to pet hotels in the metro, absolutely charming pet

furniture from Bow House and Whole Pet Kitchen – a restaurant where you can dine with your pets, you’re sure to get the heads up on a slew of pet-related goodness. Get to know local destinations that might end up being your next holiday retreat as Expat contributor Stephen Slade takes us to Wawa Dam – a place that wound up surpassing what he conjured up in his imagination; we also give you the lowdown on how to go about unraveling the mystique of Siquijor; we introduce you to the idyllic serenity of Puesto del Sol; and we give you the first look at Tarsier Botanika, which is all set to elevate the art of resort living in Bohol. Expat Associate Publisher Vernon Prieto kicks off his three-part Caribbean travel series in Trinidad & Tobago, and carries on eastward with tales from Fujian. We also marvel at the many adventures and vibrant experiences that’s for the taking in Indonesia, and take a glimpse at the snapshots from a couple’s African Safari. Of course, with Christmas just around the corner, we tip you off on some great gift ideas, and give a few hacks on how to manage the oft madding Metro Manila circus otherwise known as the holiday season. Furry, festive, holiday goodness from cover to cover – Cheers! - The Expat Team

A Luxury Retreat Beckons at New World Makati Text by Timothy Jay Ibay

With a coveted location, 580 world-class rooms, top-shelf amenities and facilities, New World Makati Hotel stands as the perfect amalgam of business, leisure and the pleasure in doing both. In the teeming megacity that is Metro Manila, it goes without saying that there is a breadth of options when it comes to premier hotels. But with the almost unfair advantage of being situated in the heart of both the Makati Central Business District and the premier lifestyle hub that is Ayala Center, New World Makati Hotel offers a combination of accessibility and luxury that few of its ilk can. Housing 580 rooms with impressive views of the Makati cityscape; 1,700 square meters of multi-functional event venues; recreational facilities like their comprehensive Fitness 14 | expat

Center, outdoor swimming pool and spa; a Business Center providing guests with wide-ranging professional secretarial support; and a lineup of refined restaurants and lounges for equal parts comfortable and delectable wining and dining, New World Makati has lent itself as the smart choice for however the lines between business and pleasure may be drawn. Staycation perfection Indeed, at New World Makati, a luxury retreat in the heart of the city awaits. Guestrooms offered in three categories: Superior, Deluxe and Premier, with their modern dĂŠcor, all feature a spacious marble bathroom, work desk with media panel and complimentary Internet access. Should you require a taste of the finer things, you can opt for their Residence Club Rooms and Suites, which occupy the top four levels of the hotel. Along with the best views, you also get first class amenities and exclusive privileges at New World Makati, like access to the Residence Club Living Room, where complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails, and all-day refreshments are

served; while a designated family area is available for families with children under six years old. And though the Greenbelt Malls are but a few steps away, New World Makati has ensured that should you wish to indulge in fine cuisine, you need not stray far. Their CafĂŠ 1228 features five interactive live-cooking stations as well as a full a la carte menu for all-day dining. At The Lounge, guests can enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or a refreshing cocktail any time of the day, with the evenings featuring live

Yuletide Offers JASMINE

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Set Menus Featuring seasonal dishes and recommendations of Executive Chinese Chef Wong Kam On Christmas Set Menu 1 PhP1,788 per person Christmas Set Menu 2 PhP2,588 per person Christmas Set Menu 3 PhP3,288 per person Offered on: Dec. 24 for dinner Dec. 25 for lunch & dinner Dec. 31 for dinner Jan. 1 for lunch & dinner

CAFÉ 1228 Festive Buffet

(opposite page) Specialty Suite Balcony; New World Makati Hotel Facade; (this page clockwise from top) Jasmine - Private Dining Room; Swimming Pool; Presidential Suite Livingroom; Jasmine - Private Dining Room; Jasmine; Superior Room

The enhanced buffet selection includes holiday favorites such as Honey Glazed Ham, Prime Rib, and a Gingerbread House in the dessert section. PhP1,999 per person for lunch on weekdays PhP2,299 per person for brunch on weekends PhP2,399 per person for dinner daily Unlimited drinks juices, softdrinks and beers for PhP 499 per person Unlimited drinks with wines for PhP599 per person

From Dec. 10 to Jan. 10, newly renovated Superior Rooms are at PhP5,500 ++ per night; Deluxe are at PhP6,500 ++; residence Club Deluxe Rooms are at PhP8,000 ++; while One Bedroom Suites go for PhP9,000 ++ a night.

entertainment. Truly sumptuous Chinese delicacies (dim sum, Peking duck and live seafood are highly recommended) are served in abundance at Jasmine, while Bar Rouge offers an intimate setting for meeting friends and associates over their top-notch signature cocktails and find selection of the world’s best single malts and cigars. Holiday offers December ushers in the perfect season to sample the best of New World Makati with special festive season offers.

These special packages include buffet breakfast for two, complimentary wired and wireless Internet, Christmas goodies, food and beverage voucher valued at PhP1,000 for Superior, Deluxe and Residence Club room guests (PhP1,500 for Suite guests) and massage for two for Suite guests. Taking advantage of these special offers is a certified no-brainer if what you have in mind is treating yourself to a happy holiday season.

Offered for lunch from: Dec. 1 to 24, Dec. 16 to 31 Offered for dinner from: Dec. 1 to 23, Dec. 25 to 30 New Year’s Eve Countdown A fun salute to 2015 as New World Makati welcome the New Year. Offering a wide selection of beverages away with a live band. Package 1 PhP1,800 per person Includes white wine, red wine, sparkling wine, beers, soft drinks and juices. Package 2 PhP2,250 per person Includes white wine, red wine, sparkling wine, beers, soft drinks, juices and basic spirits. Offered on Dec. 31

For more information and reservations, please contact your travel professional, or the hotel directly at (02) 811-6888, fax (02) 8116777, e-mail, or visit

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Prego: A Fun Take on Fine Italian Fare Discover the L’Opera Group’s first venture into “fun dining.” Text by Timothy Jay Ibay Photos by Macjanry Imperio

If you’ve been living in Metro Manila for a while now, and happen to have an affinity for fine dining and truly authentic Italian fare, the odds favor that you’ve been to one of the L’Opera Group’s restaurants. Having opened some 16 establishments (which include L’Opera and Balducci) in their 20 years of operations in the Philippines, Paolo Nesi and the L’Opera Group have long stamped their excellent standards of authentic Italian fare on the metro’s most discriminating palates. But as seasoned as Nesi and the group may be when it comes to providing what they do best, there remain certain ventures that could be deemed new, particularly when 16 | expat

you’re in pursuit of continued excellence as they are. And that’s exactly what the group undertook with Prego Ristorante and Bar at City of Dreams Manila. “We’ve never operated anything inside a casino,” Nesi shares. “With this being our first venture inside a casino, we weren’t quite sure of the demographic at first, so what we did was kind of a multi-purpose sort of restaurant. As opposed to a strictly fine dining restaurant that we’ve been known for, this is more of a fun dining.” “Multi-purpose,” as Nesi coins it, translates to Prego being a restaurant where you’ll be comfortably served, whatever dining need

you enter the door with. “You can sit down here, have a beer or coffee, and you can have a more formal dinner inside the booths,” explains Nesi, while ensuring that the fare, as L’Opera has been renowned for, remains top-notch. And in the frenetic lifestyle that’s prevalent in the gaming scene, the ability to serve quick meals of excellent comfort fare is, as the L’Opera group has learned, the name of the game. As such, their delectable selection of pizza and pasta has emerged as their best sellers in just close to a year of opening their doors.

(above left)The L’Opera Group’s Paolo Nesi; (above right) Prego’s Trancia di Branzino al Vapore con Aragosta (delicately steamed Chilean sea bass with lobster and white cream sauce); (below left)Sicilian Cannoli Pastry; (below right) a look at Prego’s interiors; (bottom) Pizza alla Terra (all meat pizza – Italian sausage Mortadella, salami, Milano and spicy salami)

Some must-try’s in Prego’s extensive pizza selection, hand rolled and cooked in a wood fired pizza oven include; Pizza Burrata e Pachino (Italian creamy mozzarella, cherry tomaros and rucola), Prego (house pizza topped with sautéed spinach, fresh sausage, poached egg and parmesan cheese) and Calzone Caprese (locked pizza filled with Mortadella, ricotta cheese and mozzarella). But suffice to say, any choice among their pizza would be the right one. The same should also be said about their equally extensive home made pasta offerings (with the seafood and truffle pastas emerging as the top draws). Nesi admits that they’ve had to do a bit of revision to their initial menu during the nascent stages of their run with Prego; leaning more toward pizzas, pastas and steaks. “It’s still authentic Italian food, the core business is still there,” he clarifies. “But a lot of our customers here, they like to eat fast and then go back to the gaming floor.” Adding to the refreshed and relax environ of Prego is their bar, which is what greets you as you step inside the 290-squaremeter enclave. And as one would find to be the trend at Prego, the bar list is likewise wide-ranging with 160 different labels of wine, along with some of the best local and imported beers, as well as the top liquors

and spirits. “You can come over and enjoy Prego for any kind of dining experience that you might be looking for, from easy pizza and beer, to steaks and Bordeaux red” Nesi, a certified Sommelier says matter of fact. It’s a very multifaceted kind of operation that caters to a wide variety of needs, all in a fresh, nice and fun ambiance.” “Is not coincidence that the Craggy Range wines are prominently displayed around, because the owner of the winery, David Peabody is a business partner, with whom I have been friend for almost 20 years and bought his wines ever since. Now, I get discounts,” Nesi says with a laugh. “It’s a nice place to be. I enjoy myself when I come over here. It’s fine dining without the fuss.” Authenticity, seasoned expertise and a commitment to the very best when it comes to quality – these are the things that embody a L’Opera Group restaurant, and these are the very same things you can expect at Prego, only with more hints of relaxed fun. * Prego Ristorante and Bar is located at the Upper Ground Level, City of Dreams Manila, Aseana Ave. cor. Roxas Blvd., Paranaque. For reservations and inquiries, contact (02) 893-4155.

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A Whole New World New World Manila Bay GM Mark Heywood gives a glimpse of New World Manila Bay’s recent transformation. Text by Ching Dee

His days are hectic and his hours are maximized to the very last tick, but New World Manila Bay Hotel’s General Manager Mark Heywood says it’s all part of the job. “That’s normal,” Heywood tells Expat, referring to 12-hour workdays. “That’s a regular workday for any general manager.” Heywood came to the Philippines in 1983 to marry his wife, but he’s been in and out of the country ever since—running prestigious hotels from various locations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

(above)Hotel facade at night; (circle)New World Manila Bay GM Mark Heywood; (right) Club Oasis Pool

Just last year, Heywood was offered the daring task of rebranding a hotel giant into what is now New World Hotel Manila Bay. Heywood says the challenge of the task offered to him drew him back to the Philippines without hesitation. “This time, what made me come back is really the job,” he recalls. “The opportunity to do something I’ve never done before, which is rebranding. I’ve opened hotels, I’ve renovated hotels, but I’ve never rebranded a hotel.” Taking over the hotel was a bit tricky at the start, as Heywood recalls, but thankfully the previous management was very cooperative and helped make the transition smoother. And with Heywood at the helm of the rebranding ship—with nearly 25 years of experience as a general manager— everyone was assured they were in good hands. New World Manila Bay officially opened on January 1st, 2015. Heywood kids that guests who spent their New Year celebrations at the hotel checked into a different hotel and checked out from New World Manila Bay the next day.

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(clockwise from bottom left)Presidential Suite Bedroom; The Fireplace; Residence Club Living Room; Market Cafe; Ballroom classroom; Executive Suite Living Room; Music Bar reception;

“We had to find a balance. It was slow and tricky at first, but slowly we built it up and now it works,” Heywood shares about the transition and rebranding, saying that it was the most challenging part of his job as general manager so far. However, he also shares the most rewarding part of his job: Guest Satisfaction. “At the heart of New World are the pillars of our hospitality relations,” he says, taking out a small piece of laminated paper from his wallet. He then reads, “Engaging, natural, perceptive, genuine, and inspiring… These are the things we try to achieve when relating to our guests to make sure they are satisfied, that their stay is unforgettable. And we are lucky to have over 300 people dedicated to maintaining this level of service.” Boasting of 376 guestrooms (including four gorgeous and well-equipped presidential suites—a first in Metro Manila), Residence Club executive floors, and Club Oasis (New World Manila Bay’s unparalleled lifestyle hub with an outdoor pool, a fitness

center, and a spa), it’s no wonder New World Manila Bay Hotel was recently voted by readers of Business Traveller magazine as one of the best business hotels in Metro Manila. But more than having great amenities, New World Manila Bay Hotel also prides itself in its three worldclass restaurants: Li Li, Market Café, and Fireplace. Li Li is New World Hotel’s answer to the exotic and robust flavors of Cantonese cuisine. Seasoned chefs from Hong Kong make sure each dish is up to Chinese standards. In addition to great food, Li Li also has five private rooms that guests can book for private functions. Market Café has several buffet stations— from scrumptious Japanese food (say hello to tempura-all-you-can) to a carving station to the sinfully irresistible dessert station— and according to Heywood about 90 percent of the food offered are still madeto-order, many of which cater to guests’ requests—whether it’s bacon-wrapped prawns from the seafood section or the most

delectable salmon sinigang from the Filipino section. Meanwhile, Fireplace only serves imported meat to ensure top quality. With the U.S. Embassy right next door, their number one customers are Americans and we all know Americans know—and love—their steaks. “These restaurants all boast of great ingredients and experienced chefs,” Heywood, a self-declared foodie who takes his wife to gastronomic adventures on weekends, said. When asked about new and exciting things they’re cooking up for the holiday season, Heywood simply smiled and said, “We have tons of plans coming up for every guest and every budget. Just watch out.” For more information and reservations, you may call the New World Manila Bay Hotel at (02) 252-6888, e-mail reservations., or visit

expat | 19

CULTURAL CALENDAR Plus some of the hottest dates in the metro Compiled by Carmencita H. Acosta

“Hansel and Gretel” is choreographed by Alan Hineline

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Ballet Gala

Nov. 17 to 19, at 8 p.m. Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; to confirm schedule, call (02) 832-1125. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) holds a fundraising dance gala that brings together the country’s top ballet companies. The fundraising event aims to support the advocacy of the Artists Welfare Project Inc, specifically for dancers’ fund. All the participating artists are performing for free.

Ballet Manila Co-Artistic Director Osias Barroso. Pinocchio was initially a one-act piece, and was a regular fixture in Ballet Manila’s repertoire list. This year, the full-length production is made more colorful and exciting with more characters, interesting twists and a delightful dream brought to life. It tells the story of the carpenter Gepetto who carves out a wooden puppet that magically transforms into a real boy.

Nov. 20 to 22, at 7p.m.

Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; to verify time schedule, call (02) 832-1125. The show features outstanding ballet groups and ballet schools in the country as they perform some of the most exciting works of ballet greats. It is held every two years as CCP commits itself to develop ballet as part of its mission towards achieving artistic excellence.

Smart Araneta Coliseum, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila; For more information, call (02) 911-5555 Bryan White, singer of smash pop hit “God Gave Me You,” will be coming to Manila this Dec. 1.

Tickets are available at all TicketNet outlets nationwide and at Tickets are priced at PhP5,000 for Level 1; PhP4,000 for Level 2; PhP3,000 for Level 3; PhP1,750 for Level 4; PhP1,000 for Level 5; and PhP500 for Level 6.

The Bridges of Madison County

“Pinocchio” becomes a full-length ballet with added characters and scenes by Filipino master choreographer Osias Barroso

Nov. 20 to Dec. 6

The Bridges of Madison County, one of the most romantic stories ever written based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, is now an irresistible, two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. This brand new production features gorgeous, soulful music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years) that draws upon the rich textures of Americana and folk and the sweeping, expressive balladry of classic Broadway. The Daily News hails it as “one of Broadway’s best scores in the last decade.

Dec. 1

Bryan White is the artist/composer behind other hits like “From This Moment On” (with Shania Twain), “So Much For Pretending,” and “I’m Not Supposed To Love You Anymore.” He charted seventeen singles on the Billboard’s Country Charts and has come up with six number one singles, two platinum and golds, and several awards including a Grammy and an ACM Top Male Vocalist Award.

CCP Ballet FestivaL

Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, 4th floor, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. cor. Gil Puyat, Makati. For more information, call (02) 891-9999.

Bryan White ‘God Gave Me You’ Tour

Papelismo # 6

Ongoing until Nov. 30 Nova Gallery, Compound 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati; for more information, call (02) 659-3697. The show is the 6th installment of the Papelismo series with artists Renato Habulan, Benjie Torrado-Cabrera, Eugene Cubillo, Melvin Culaba, Thomas Daquioag, Antipas Delotavo, Egai Talusan-Fernandez, Manny Garibay, Renato Habulan, Pablo Baen – Santos, and Pinggot Zulueta

Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets and at Tickets are priced at PhP3,135 for Price Zone 1; PhP2,612.50 for Price Zone 2; PhP1,776.50 for Price Zone 3; PhP1,358.50 for Price Zone 4; and PhP940.50 for Price Zone 5.

Edna Vida Froilan’s Peter Pan


Arguably Ballet Philippines’ most popular work, Peter Pan is a must-see Christmas event for all families! Experience anew Sir J. M. Barrie’s immortal story of the boy who would not grow up through stunning choreography by Edna Vida Froilan. With pixie dust from renowned aerialists Flying by Foy, see Peter Pan flying with the Darling children: Wendy, John, and Michael, and meet Captain Hook, Smee, Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, the Lost Boys, and the other denizens of Neverland in this exuberant holiday production.

Dec. 4 to 13

Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, CCP Main Theater, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City; for more information, call (02) 891-9999 or visit

(new choreography by Osias Barroso) Nov. 27 to 28; Dec. 4 to 5, at 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. All shows at the Aliw Theater, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; for more information, call (02) 832-3713. The stage is set for the world premiere of the best-loved story of Gepetto and his wooden puppet, as choreographed by Erratic Self-Reflection by Benjie Torrado

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Watch Peter Pan on Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Dec. 5 and 6 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 8 to 9 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Dec. 10 at 3 p.m.; Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Dec. 12 and13 at 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.

handsome prince is it! The dwarfs jump with joy when they see the magic take place and all the good people live happily ever after.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines and Tribung Pilipino Foundation, headed by Danny Dolor, launched Harana sa Dapit Hapon early in 2015. It promotes, preserves and disseminates traditional Philippine classical music such as balitaw, harana and danza.

Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets. Tickets are priced at PhP1,545 for Orchestra Center Row K, L, M, N; PhP1,236 for Orchestra Center (Other Rows); PhP1,030 for Lower Box; PhP618 for Balcony 1 Center; PhP515 for Balcony 1 Side; and PhP412 for Balcony 2. A theatrical scene from Snow White

The Secret Garden

Ongoing until Dec. 10 Onstage 1, Greenbelt 1, Makati. For details of schedules and availability of tickets, call (02) 843-3570.

International Science Film Festival Ongoing until Dec. 9

In various venues across the Philippines. All shows are free. For specific details, call (02) 817-0978 or 840-5723 to 24 or email This film festival headed by Germany’s Goethe Institut features scientific films from various countries and is being held for the 11th time. In terms of viewers, it is one of the biggest film festivals worldwide, having reached in 2014 more than 580,000 visitors in 13 countries. The 2015 theme is “Light” in accordance with the celebration of United Nation’s International Year of Light 2015, focusing on the different roles of light in our everyday lives. The Science Film Festival received 146 films from 32 countries for consideration. National pre-juries of local science education and media experts in all participating festival countries have concluded their selection process and the official selection of the Science Film Festival is comprised of 52 films from 17 countries in 2015.

Nicanor Abelardo), Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; for more information, call (02) 832-1125.

Repertory Philippines once again brings a delightful musical for both young and old. The synopsis follows: Mary Lennox, raised in India, goes to live with her hermit-like uncle in England after her parents die in a cholera epidemic. Her uncle, a hunchback, grieving over the death of his wife Lily, who was the sister of Mary’s mother, leaves Mary in the care of an unlovable housekeeper. Left on her own in her uncle’s manor house, she discovers two secrets — an overgrown garden that has been locked away behind a wall and a cousin, Colin, who has been mistakenly made to believe he is also a hunchback and an invalid who has never seen the outdoors. Beautiful songs run through the musical highlighting the characters and their emotions. Two of the most beautiful are the haunting “Come To My Garden,” sung by the ghost of Mary’s aunt and “Lily’s Eyes,” sung by her uncle and his brother (who was also secretly in love with Lily).

The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Concert Dec. 14 and 15

The Theatre at Solaire, Solaire Resorts & Casino, Entertainment City, Parañaque; for more information, call (02) 891-9999. This is arguably the closest you can get to watching the King of Pop perform live onstage. One of the world’s most sought after Michael Jackson tribute artists, Ben, together with his remarkable 10-piece band, comes to The Theatre at Solaire for an explosive tribute concert. Packed with breathtaking signature dance routines and a nostalgic pop repertoire, this concert is sure to reignite the fanaticism that marked the era of the late Michael Jackson. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets. For inquiries, visit Ticket are priced at PhP6,252 for VIP; PhP5,210 for A-Reserve; PhP4,168 for B-Reserve; PhP2,917.60 for C-Reserve; PhP2,084 for D-Reserve; and PhP1,250.40 for E-Reserve

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Ongoing until Dec. 10

Onstage 1, Greenbelt 1, Makati. For details of schedules and availability of tickets, call (02) 843-3570. The most beautiful maiden in the land is named Snow White, but the jealous queen cannot accept that. She wants to be considered the fairest of them all, and so she sets about to do away with Snow White by giving her a delicious-looking but poisoned apple. Even the good dwarfs who live with Snow White are helpless to protect her. But there is good news, as almost all children’s fairy tales go. There is a way to revive the loveliest girl. The kiss of a 22 | expat

Harana sa Dapit Hapon (Serenade at Dusk)

Dec. 9, at 4:30 p.m. Lobby of the big theater (Bulwagang

Series of Reveries Dec. 18

With conductor and January 22, 2016 with conductor Tetsuji Honna. Concerts start at 8

p.m., Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; for more information, call (02) 832-1125.

Fiesta Folkloriada

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), resident orchestra of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, continues with the presentation of its concerts under the series entitled “Reveries.” The repertoire of Fukumura features Brahm’s Academic Festival Overture, Faure’s Pelleas et Melisande Suite, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.2, also known as Little Russian. Conductor Honna directs PPO in Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 and Beethoven’s monumental and Memorable Symphony No 3 also known as Eroica.

Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; to verify time schedule, call (02) 832-1125.

Hi-5 House of Dreams Dec. 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22

Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila, 3rd Floor, Newport Mall, Newport Blvd, Newport City, Cybertourism Zone, Pasay City. Hi-5 House of Dreams is a whimsical trip into a fantasy adventure where you can catch your favorite Hi-5 songs like “Underwater Discovery,” “Move Your Body,” “It’s a Party,” and “Living in a Rainbow”, along with plenty of new songs from the Hi-5 gang (Ainsley, Dayen, Mary, Stevie and Tanika). Each dream comes to life on stage in a burst of music, singing and dancing in this exciting new stage production. Catch the Hi-5 gang on Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 19 to 20 at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Dec. 22 at 11 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at all ticket counters of TicketWorld and online via www.ticketworld. Tickets are priced at PhP4,500 for VIP 1; PhP3,800 for VIP 2; PhP3,200 for Gold; PhP2,700 for Silver; and PhP2,400 for Bronze.

Dec. 20, at 7 p.m.

Bringing culture and education together through dances is the Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation’s contribution to strengthen respect for other nations’ customs and traditions, encouraging unity in diversity. A colorful show, wonderful choices of dances accompanied by fantastic music from the past and the present, great costumes, and professional performers, there is indescribable beauty, whose memory will be cherished for a long time.

Bencab In Two Movements

Ongoing until January 16, 2016, Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Plaza, corner Ayala and Gil Puyat (Buendia) Avenues, Makati; for more information, call (02) 8891234. Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera lives up north in Baguio where he has established his own museum that exhibits not only his own works but also those of other important artists.

One OK Rock “35XXXV” Asia Tour Live in Manila January 19, 2016

Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City Japan’s leading rock band ONE OK ROCK will finally make it to these shores. Copresented by PULP Live World and 28 Black, guitarist Toru Yamashita, bassist Ryota Kohama, drummer Tomoya Kanki and frontman Takahiro “Taka” Moriuchi are ready to deliver their energized brand of alternative rock, post-hardcore and poppunk to their J-Rock Manila fans. ONE OK ROCK will see the famed Japanese act perform their hits “The Beginning,” “Dreamer,” “Heartache” and “Mighty Long Fall,” among many others.

Tickets will be made available exclusively at all SM Tickets outlets nationwide. Visit www. or call at (02) 470-2222. Tickets are priced as follows: PhP4,500 (for both VIP Standing and VIP Seated), PhP3,500 (Lower Box A), PhP2,500 (Lower Box B) and PhP1,500 (Lower Box C).

Hansel and Gretel

Jan. 29 and 30, 2016 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 31, 2016 at 3 p.m. All shows at Star Theater, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City; for more information, call (02) 832-3713. Again, Ballet Manila brings to life a worldfamous fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel, with choreography by Alan Hineline, Executive Director of Ballet Silicon Valley, USA. The one act production is not just an enjoyable tale, it also introduces children so the enchanting world of ballet. The story follows the forest adventures of Hansel and Gretel leading them to a house made entirely of goodies and sweets.

#3LOGYINMANILA: The Vamps, Before You Exit & The Tide Jan. 30

Mall of Asia Arena, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay, Metro Manila; for more information call (02) 470-2222. After their successful first solo show last February 2015, British pop band, The Vamps, behind hits like “Can We Dance,” “Wild Heart,” and “Last Night,” will be bringing their Wake Up World Tour to Mall of Asia Arena this January 2016 with Before You Exit and special guest The Tide. Tickets will be made available exclusively at all SM Tickets outlets nationwide. Visit www. Tickets are priced at PhP8,480 for VIP; PhP6,570 for Patron; PhP4,660 for Lower Box A; PhP3,710 for Lower Box B; PhP1,800 for Upper Box; and PhP530 for Gen Ad.

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Above and Beyond A glimpse into Malaysia Airlines’ Area Manager Flora Loh as she continues to aim beyond expectations. Text and photo by Via Baroma

The lucky ones live an optimal life peppered with achievements, both targeted and as a byproduct of the work they put in. And Malaysia Airlines’ Flora Loh can be considered part of that group as evidenced by her impressive 22-year run with the company. Less than three months into the job, Loh’s post as Philippine area manager was immediately met with the challenge of losing her sales manager. She took the task head on, managing, at the time, to get all marine travel agents to book directly with Malaysian Airlines. Loh’s journey with the aviation company began in 1993 as part of the agency sales department in the Malaysian head office. In 1997, she decided to further her studies at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, graduating not only with a degree in Bachelor of Business with a double Major in Marketing and Tourism Management,

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while also being named Suma Cum Laude. She was given the Honorary Golden Key Scholar Award, an award given only to the top 10 percent of students in the university. From then on, all she has done was managed to seamlessly translate academic excellence into her profession. Apart from having a hand at enabling the company to maximize revenues, Loh also played a key role in shaping effective business strategies. She cultivated excellent relationships with travel agents, and even made her mark in other areas like airport operations, reservations and ticketing, as well as finance. Loh’s keen business sense also led to Malaysia Airlines Philippines’ participation in various travel consumer fairs. “I decided that we needed to be at the forefront, and since the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), is one of the largest consumer travel expos here, I proposed that we should participate; and we have participated ever since. It’s important for an airline to be at the forefront, you should be visible,” shares Loh. And despite the devastating aviation accidents that saw the disappearance of MH370 and the unprecedented plane crash of MH17, Malaysia Airlines has managed to

rise up again. Through concerted marketing and communication efforts, Loh and her sales team managed to regain the trust of both travel agencies and passengers, and reconfigure the company image in a relatively short span of time. So much so, that for the first half of 2015, Loh proudly shares that based on revenue reports, her team exceeded their monthly targets for the months of July and August. The way Malaysia Airlines has overcome such daunting circumstances mirrors the leadership of Loh. She’s set to move on to new challenges in the last quarter of 2015 as a new company, Malaysia Airlines Berhad takes over from Malaysian Airline System Bhd. But Loh is confident the company will carry on with their efforts under the new leadership. “People should continue to support the new company, Malaysia Airlines Berhad,” says Loh. “Thank you to all the Filipino travel agent friends who have been supportive of me during my time here from January 2011 to August 2015. The airline industry is in my blood, so [even] after ending my term [with the company], I’m sure I’ll be back in the industry soon.”

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Photo by Bethany Legg



Photo by Jonas Vincent

It’s all about your beloved pets. Get the best pet-related apps on your phone; find out where to give your dogs their very own staycation; dine together with your furry pals; and treat them to their own furniture this Christmas. Also, find out how cats have come to rule the Interwebs and get acquainted with four pin-up pooches—all in this special Pet Issue spread.


8 Apps

Every Pet Parent Should Have

to take your pets out for a walk. Weather Puppy and Weather Kitty takes it to a new (and very cute) level, with the app showing over 100 dogs and cats depending on the time and weather, and you can even add a pic of your own pet and create your own theme.

Be plugged-in pet owners with different apps that will keep your pooch or kitty safe and happy! Text by Via Baroma

Want to be a better pet parent? Naturally, there’s an app for that…quite a few of them actually. Whether it’s setting your pet’s daily walking schedule, thrusting them into their own social network or helping you provide your dog with first aid treatment, there’s plenty of mobile fun for you and your furry friends. 1 DoggyDatez (Appetite Lab) Bringing a lot more excitement and fun to walking your dog, DoggyDatez is a free app providing a social platform for dog owners and their pets. The app lets you create a profile for yourself and your dog. Then, you can tag locations where you walk your dogs in hopes that other dog walkers will be there too. The main idea is that you can “mark your territory,” an ownership of an area (200m radius) in the physical world and see who else visits your spots, just like what our canine friends do! You’re also able to search for other DoggyDatez users by gender, age, dog gender, dog age and/or dog breed.

Weather Puppy available on iOS and coming soon on Android for free. Weather Kitty available on iOS and Android for free with in App Purchases.

3 Dog breeds; Cats; Rabbits; Rodents (Petsie) Answering the question “What kind of breed is he?” isn’t always easy, especially if your dog is a rescue or mix. Petsie gives you access to hundreds of breeds — be it dogs, cats, rabbits or rodents (all seperate apps). It’s also full of adorable high quality pet images and information. The content is based on social network site, where enthusiastic pet owners have created over 110,000 pet profiles and have uploaded over 1,500,000 pet pictures. You can even use it as a fun social network by creating a profile for your dog.

Free on Android Free on iOS and Android

2 Weather Puppy/ Weather Kitty (Weather Creative Inc.) Talking about the weather can be boring for some. But infusing puppies and kittens into checking the weather makes the task an awesome one, and bottled with cuteness to boot. Weather Creative Inc. brings you an app that will surely make you smile every time you check the weather

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4 PVE Pet First Aid (Natural Selection Web Design LLC) Raising pets can be loads of fun, but it’s also a big responsibility, which means there can be some scares. If anything should happen to your dog, Pet First Aid helps you take the right steps to make sure he’ll be okay. We all love and care for our pets and this app gives owners handy references to common pet medical problems. Detailed videos and illustrations include restraint, muzzling, CPR, bandaging and more.


Available on iOS and Android for PhP224.48

7 Foursquare

Free on iOS and Android

Foursquare is an ultimate city guide app to find or explore different places. This might seem like an obvious one, but it really comes in handy for dog owners. You can organize all pet related places in the city, find nearby pet stores and vets when you need them and see if any friends with dogs are in your area.

5 MapMyDogWalk (Subaru) With MapMyDogWalk, you and your dog can get fit at the same time. MapMyDogWalk makes walking with your pooch fun and informative. You can log your walks, track your calories and map your favorite routes using GPS. The app also has sharing and geo-tagging features for photos and data.

Free on iOS, Android and BlackBerry App World

8 Pet Master Pro (GF Media Apps)

Free on iOS and Android

6 iCam (SKJM LLC)

No need to juggle yourself with all of your pet’s medical paper records. Track your pet’s medical history and details at your fingertips with Pet Master Pro app. This convenient and eco-friendly app manages all of your pet’s information including vaccinations, medications, identification numbers, insurance details and weight history. Owners must enter the information into the app, but once the legwork is complete, your furry friend’s health history is with you wherever you go.

If you want to see what your dog is up to in real-time, iCam is the app to get. You can watch your canine friend remotely, just to make sure everything’s all right. This is especially useful if you’re leaving your dog home for the first time, you recently moved or you’re traveling.

Available on iPhone for free; and Android for PhP222.83

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Staycation Hotels for Fido & Kitty Text by Via Baroma

Holiday season in the Philippines is often equated to weekends out of town, long vacations and various getaways. And as much as you don’t want to, there are times when you have to take a trip and leave your furry babies behind. These instances frequently stress out petparents. But before bearing the guilt of leaving your pets behind for the coming holidays, Expat brings you a list of pet hotels that’ll surely tend to and even pamper your beloved pets. So while you enjoy your vacation, your pets will be able to do the same. The Dog Spa & Hotel A pet center where the staff promises to love your pooches as much as you do, The Dog Spa is a one-stop shop for your pets’ grooming, dog-sitting, boarding and shopping needs. Owned by a proud pet-parent of Pomeranian dogs—James Loverio and Eric Villanueva, at The Dog Spa & Hotel, you can entrust your pets to enjoy treatments from seasoned expert groomers. Meanwhile, lodging fetches for as low as PhP450 per night, and they’ll even walk your dogs as needed. “We’re the only establishment in the pet care industry to have been featured and recognized internationally,” proudly shares Loverio. “We’ve been covered by and received several international awards for excellent service.” The Dog Spa & Hotel is located at 114 A.Aguirre St. corner J. Eizalde Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City. The Dog Spa has at least seven locations within 30 | expat

Metro Manila. For more information, visit and follow them on and @Thedogspa_ph on Twitter.

nanny, grooming services is free for longterm boarders [five nights and longer], and we’ll also provide pet owners with souvenir photos.”

Dluxe Pet Hotels and Spa Want to spoil your dog even when you’re away? Dluxe Pet Hotel and Spa offers luxury dog accommodations with everything a pampered pet could possibly want—from grooming services like warm herbal baths to relaxing pet massages, you might not help but be so jealous, you’d want a pampering of your own.

Equipped with spacious and fully airconditioned rooms with windows for natural daylight, you’re assured to have a happy dog in this pest-free hotel that uses Bioganic Insect Control. No need to worry about what your furry friend is doing, you can also check on your little pal via Facetime.

“We offer home care services for pets under the supervision of our professional pet handlers and groomers,” shares owner Maricel Velasco Gan. “They are allowed to have one on one playtime with the pet

Dluxe Pet Hotel and Spa is located at 133 Tomas Morato Avenue, 1300 Quezon City. For reservations, call them at (02) 412-1885 or (0906) 590-7145. Visit and dluxepethotel to know more.


BetterDog Canine Behavior Center The establishment stems from Jojo Isorena’s training in the world’s largest professional dog training company in Texas where he got his certification as a canine training and behavior specialist. After getting referrals from vets who learned of his training, he decided he could help more dog owners by putting up a behavior center. “BetterDog, is the first and so far the [country’s] only professional training facility that teaches owners how to train and managed their dog’s behavior,” Christina Isorena of BetterDog proudly tells Expat. “BetterDog’s key trainers are all certified by the National Certification Council fro Professional Dog Trainers of the United States.” Apart from behavior training, the facility also houses BetterDog Salon, supervised by Christina, who is certified by the New York School of Dog Grooming, and houses the country’s largest dog hotel – fully airconditioned, with large suites (not cages) that can accommodate 50 large breeds of dogs, and have trained stewards looking after them 24/7. Adds Christina, “We are also set to introduce more novel training programs such as Fit fro Life program – canine fitness program, which is like bringing your dog to a gym fro regular workouts or physical therapy. Everything we do is to inspire people to explore and find new things that will enrich their lives with their dogs.” BetterDog Canine Behavior Center is located at G&A Building 2303 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. For inquiries, call (02) 754-9958, (02) 754-9963 or visit Bahay ni Bantay Bahay ni Bantay (BnB), dubbed as a “home away from home,” is a private home-based dog daycare that provides the comfort of a home in their Indoor Cageless Boarding services where your pooches can play,

(Opposite page) Peachy and Snow at The Dog Spa & Hotel; Dluxe Pet Hotel’s luxurious lounge for pets; Deluxe Pet Hotel’s venue for pet parties; (this page top left) BetterDog’s training facility; (top right to bottom) swimming session for dogs at Bahay ni Bantay; Dluxe Pet Hotel’s pet daycare place; BetterDog’s salon for dogs; Bahay ni Bantay’s cageless boarding. *All photos courtesy of respective establishments

socialize and exercise with other friendly dogs in a supervised and well-secured play area. BnB, with its slew of activities, assures an adventurous, yet safe experience for your furry loved ones. “We also offer seasonal swimming lessons for high energy dogs and those that have joint problems,” veterinarian, former zoo administrator and Bahay ni Bantay owner Oliver Incomio tells Expat. “We consider Bahay ni Bantay as a dog wellness facility. We also provide full grooming services, day care, tick and flea treatment and cat boarding.” As you relax on your vacation, you can be assured that your pet will be enjoying itself, meeting new friends and having a blast with its kin. Bahay ni Bantay is located at 27 A. Luna Ave., AFPOVAI 5, Bayani Road, Taguig City. For boarding reservations, call (02) 587-7236 or visit You can also follow them at

VIP Pet Hotel and Wellness Center Run by renowned veterinarians in the country, and by those from the trusted Vets In Practice Animal Hospital that caters to all sorts of animals, Vets In Practice or VIP Pet Hotel and Wellness Center is a pioneer in the pet spa industry. With the supervision of doctors who have experience in rehabilitation and therapy, VIP is a 300 sq. m space allotted for pet gyms, suites and an indoor play park where your pets can run around freely. This hotel ensures your pets are pampered with grooming, massages, training classes, boarding, therapy, post-surgery rehabilitation and even jacuzzi for hydrotherapy. VIP Pet Hotel and Wellness Center is located at No. 63 Maysilo Circle corner Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila. For boarding reservations or inquiries, call (02) 470-7987, (0915) 352-1587 or visit

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Dog’s Grub: Dine in with Your Barkers at Whole Pet Kitchen Whole Pet Kitchen, the Philippines’ first Natural Pet Bakery and Dog Cafe, caters to all dog customers as well as their pet parents. Text by Via Baroma

While a good number of dog-friendly restaurants and establishments have sprouted all across the metro, places that have a separate menu for dogs remain scarce. At Whole Pet Kitchen: Pet Deli and Bark-ery, the country’s first Natural Pet Bakery and Dog Cafe, you can enjoy a meal as your furry friends feasts on delicious all-natural gourmet meals prepared especially for them. As the saying goes, “the family that eats together, stays together,” though we know that our furry babies will never leave our sides, it’s still nice to treat your pooches with a doggie day out. Tucked away in San Juan, this cozy and charming cafe serves as haven for all pet parents to meet and for their dogs to do their own socializing. Whole Pet Kitchen offers menu for both humans, and their BFFs (Best Furry Friends).

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HEAVYPETTING The Journey Chef Giannina Gonzales, being a hardcore dog lover and raised in a culinary family, started the business in 2011. While she’s immersed herself in preparing pet meals for quite a while now, her penchant for making such started right at home, with her interest in canine gastronomy stemming from when her dogs suffered from stomachrelated disorder. This led to consultations with veterinarians and the Bureau of Animal Industry to create meals specifically for pets. “It is terrible to lose a pet because of the food that they eat,” Gonzales shares with Expat. “You wouldn’t want that for yourself and for anyone, and I knew for a fact that fresh food is always better than processed with all sorts of chemicals. And so it didn’t take long for those same people with the same ideas about watching what their pets eat to find me.” With recipes and ingredients formulated from scratch, WPK has come up with creative pet treats from quality ingredients and natural sources, and is proudly formulated without harmful preservatives and artificial coloring and flavors. “I thought about how many people who probably want the same things I did for my dogs,” Gonzales says. “Something properly made, fresh, preservative-free by using healthy ingredients that are safe for both pets and people. No one else was doing it properly, so I went in and filled that gap.” The Menu The restaurant has two sets of menu, one for pets and one for humans. With a variety of dishes featured in the pet menu –biscotti, muffins, biscuits, chips, birthday cakes, “pup cakes,” chews, savories, and even nutritious yogurt coolers—all treats make for a wholesome meal especially for your dogs. The human menu, on the other hand, offers refreshments like iced coffee, banana milkshake, juice and shake, baked pasta, sandwich, desserts, waffles and baked pasta. Pet foods are served in a tray with two ceramic bowls, one for the meal and the other for the drinks. The restaurant is continually developing their treat line and their menu to ensure that pets get the best quality. Now, with their newly launched home-style dog food, Good Dog Grub is developed using human-grade ingredients and formulated to meet the standards of nutrition for dogs. The Community Whole Pet Kitchen, as a cozy and small restaurant with a niche market, aims to build a community of responsible pet owners where pet parents and their dogs meet and socialize. “In our cafe, we have made it to a point to

Whole Pet Kitchen’s Human menu plus pooches menu assures a happy tummy for you and your furry buddies.

make everyone feel welcome,” Gonzales says. “We want to encourage clients to speak and interact with strangers and their pets [and] to be able to speak about trials, how they take care of their pets, how has it changed their lives and their family life. So far, it seems to be working.” Responsible ownership is encouraged, which includes vaccinations, cleanliness and socialization of the dogs. Pets that aren’t toilet trained wear diapers, and in case of a mess, owners help the staff clean it up. The restaurant is also active in helping the animal welfare organization such as the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the Mandaluyong Animal Shelter and Compassion And Responsibility for Animals

(CARA Welfare Philippines). “We still try to be more active with animal welfare, spreading the word and helping them through our baking,” shares Gonzales. “We want to be a company that can provide great products and services to our clients, care for our employees, and lastly, help the local animal welfare scene.” Whole Pet Kitchen: Pet Deli and Bark-ery is located at 349-D C.M. Recto St., near P. Guevarra St., Barangay Addition Hills, San Juan City. The store is open from Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information and inquiries, contact (02) 357-2753, (0917) 848-8857, email bark@, or visit www.wholepetkitchen. com. You can also find them @wholepetkitchen on Facebook and Instagram.

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Bow House:

Barkitecture at Its Finest Text by Ching Dee Photos by Lyka Orhel for Bow House

Bow House’s philosophy is simple: “We love dogs as much as we love good design.

beds as an experiment, but as more family and friends got interested in his creations, he realized its powerful business potential. “Bow House really started out as a marriage of two of my passions: dogs and business,” Manalastas tells Expat.

Our family deserves only the best and that includes our pets. This is exactly what spurred dog lover and serial entrepreneur Migi Manalastas to come up with Bow House, the country’s pioneer in pet furniture and “modern barkitecture.”

He explains, “I come from a family of dog lovers and entrepreneurs so it was quite easy for me to connect the dots and come up with the idea of Bow House. One of my family’s businesses was furniture exporting, so I had access to a factory, which gave me freedom to do rapid prototyping and market testing. I started my little experiment late last year and soon enough, the brand took on its own life and grew organically.”

Launched in December 2014, Manalastas started designing dog

Out of his own pets’ needs, he became more aware of the lack of

decent pet furniture in the country. “As a lover of dogs and design, I saw a huge gap in the market between the two. The market was saturated with tacky and cheap-looking dog ware,” Manalastas recalls. “I instantly knew that I was on to something once I started getting feedback on my first few products.” Having a very unique client-base didn’t stop him from creating stylish, comfortable, and pet-friendly products. Today, Bow House offers their Muttress: a luxurious dog bed made from premium fabrics; Bowsket: a dog bed in a metal basket, specifically designed for man’s best friend; the Dome Home: an ultra modern crate for your furry playmate, which doesn’t look like a prison and the Doga Mat, a weather-proof mat for pets-suitable for traveling.

Sam Potenciano’s French Bulldogs Lupi and Nori enjoying the Muttress and Bowsket from Bow House.

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Bow House’s philosophy is simple: “We love dogs as much as we love good design.” According to Manalastas, dog crates and pet beds need not be an eyesore. Bow House’s goal is to bring “modern barkitecture” to the forefront and make pet furniture the centerpiece of every pet owner’s home. For Manalastas, the process of designing products for clients who literally cannot say a word of feedback is the most challenging part of his business. He shares, “We want to make products that we’re sure dogs will love and that involves multiple rounds of prototyping and product testing. We only release items that our own dogs like, so if it doesn’t pass their standards, it’s a nogo.”
 Like many businesses borne out of passion, Manalastas finds fulfillment in Bow House, especially when he meets his clients’ humans. “The most rewarding experience is getting to meet all these dog lovers who thank me for my products,” he tells Expat. “I’ve gained many new friends through Bow House and I hope to gain many more.” Fueled by his love of dogs and passion for great design, Manalastas makes sure that his products focus on comfort and quality— for both the pet and the pet owner. He says, “We design our products with both dogs and humans in mind. We know owning a dog is not easy.” Manalastas also finds inspiration from the latest trends in furniture design and often consults design magazines and websites for ideas. Bow House also utilizes materials from different suppliers around the world to make sure each bed provides maximum comfort and durability.

(top)Dog lover and Bow House founder Migi Manalastas with Alba the Samoyed. And yes, humans love the Muttress, too!; (above) Looking for a dog cage that doesn’t look like a drab doggie prison? Check out Mr. Phineas inside Bow House’s Dome Home; (circle)Nori loves snuggling in Bow House’s comfy Muttress; (below)The Muttress comes in various sizes to fit your dog’s needs-just look at Alba the Samoyed and Mr. Phineas the Terrier sharing this Muttress. (Photos used with permission from Migi Manalastas).

“We don’t aim to be the cheapest nor the largest brand,” he points out. “We want every piece to last through puppyhood ‘til old age. We know that accidents happen— some dogs like to chew on things, some dogs get smelly. We took all of these into account in the design process to make owning a pet less stressful and more enjoyable for dog owners.” Find out more about their products at and check them out on Facebook ( and Instagram ( For orders and inquiries, email Migi at bowhouseph@gmail. com. or contact (0916) 290-5245.

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The Doggie Diaries Text and photos by Ching Dee

and belly-rubbin’. It was just too much work for someone like me who’s also working two jobs along with other side projects. I always say no to myself when it comes to getting a dog…until I saw Chewie.

way) in a pet supplies shop and consulted a licensed veterinarian to ensure Chewie was in good health. On our way home, I could not stop looking at him, simmering in ecstasy of finally having my own dog. The Good One time, I was covering a photoshoot for dogs, and I thought to myself: Having a dog is like having a kid, only less annoying. And you can stone me all you want, but that’s my opinion (and in no way represents the stand of Expat and its management—now back to regular programming).

I feel exactly the same…but for puppies.

I saw Chewie’s photo on a pets-for-sale page on Facebook and I fell in love with him instantly. I finally have first-hand proof that “love at first sight” is real. He looks exactly like Chewbacca (Star Wars nerd alert), so right then and there—even if he’s not mine yet—I named him. And you know what people say, don’t get attached, don’t name it. But it was too late for me; I was already neck-deep in puppy love. I contacted the seller and found out I couldn’t afford him. I was so heartbroken. I even posted an impassioned message for him on social media, apologizing to this gerbil and telling him why we can’t be together.

For years, I’ve struggled with the prospect of getting my own dog; making numerous prosand-cons lists in my head. Despite wanting my very own furry bundle of joy, I’ve always taken the cons side: all the poopscrapin’ and fur-combin’ and food-buyin’

Two weeks later, I saw his photo again on Facebook. I knew I couldn’t let him go this time, so with the help of my boyfriend—who saw me struggle with the loss from weeks earlier—we decided to get Chewie. We met with the seller (super nice guy, by the

The Good, The Bad and The Aww of owning a dog.

There comes a time when some women (some, not all) feel their womb stirring at the sight of an infant. Their hearts flutter, their uteruses skip a beat, wanting—longing—for their very own bundle of joy.

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One of the many, many great things about having a dog is their innate capability to relieve stress. There’s just something about the way they wag their tails when they see you that just makes you feel instantly better. And hey, with all the playing and running around, dogs keep their humans active. There are numerous scientifically proven health benefits of owning pets— from detecting cancer to keeping your metabolism up and even cheering up those who are battling with depression.


One of the many, many great things about having a dog is their innate capability to relieve stress. The Bad Every pet owner will tell you about the fun side of owning pets—the playing, the cuteness, all the Instagram-worthy photos— but no one ever tells you about the teething. Oh, the teething! I personally do not mind scooping poop and wiping pee off the floor, but this teething phase is the most challenging part for me. Puppies usually start teething around their 12th or 14th week and they chew on almost anything they could get their paws on. It usually starts with playful nipping—which I found quite ticklish—and then gradually turns into this so-called “play biting,” which I could hardly call “playful” because when it happens 90 percent of the time—and your puppy’s favorite chew toy are your limbs— it’s more like being repeatedly bitten by barbed wire. I—together with my family—have read many online resources to help us survive this teething phase for the sake of our fingers, toes, and sanity. The most popular advice is to say “No!” in a firm voice and give

Chewie loves the outdoors and enjoys going his humans to the mall. But he gets tired easily after playing.

your puppy a chew toy to play with. Some experts also advise dog owners to chill the chew toy so the puppies can chew on something cold to soothe the discomfort and itchiness in their mouth cause by teething. Some also suggest a reward system, where the dog owner will give the dog a chew toy and reward the pup when it plays with the chew toy for a prescribed amount of time. So, how are we? So far, we still have all our fingers and toes. We’re getting through this teething phase one day at a time, and hopefully Chewie will get the hang of chewing on his toys instead of his humans. The Aww Sometimes I would absent-mindedly let my feet dangle from the sofa while watching TV and Chewie would pounce on it and start “play biting.” There are times when I would shriek in surprise and slight pain, he would stop, look up at me as if to say sorry, and start licking the toe he wanted to murder just moments ago. And when that happens— when your dog looks up at you with those puppy dog eyes—it’s impossible to get mad at him.

Yes, he sleeps like this most of the time.

There’s just something different when this

little critter, this furball, crawls next to you in bed and rests his chin on your arm. You just want to melt right then and there. And yes, there’s an unwritten rule in pet ownership that when your pet falls asleep on you (or any part of your body), you are not allowed to move, lest you plan on waking up a sleeping angel, you heartless monster. If you frequent social media sites as much as I do, you’ll know for a fact that not a day passes by without a dog-related news item: dog saves owner from attacker, dog saves baby from fire, men and women of uniform pay tribute to dedicated police dog, dog helps patient suffering from depression. It’s amazing what dogs can and will do for their humans. I am excited to find out what my Chewie will do for us (aside from bringing us immeasurable joy and numerous costume opportunities on special occasions). I’ve known from way back that dogs are awesome—affectionate, heroic, intuitive, selfless—and to personally experience all these and more is a gift I hope everyone could enjoy. Follow chewie’s adventures on Instagram at @chewie.the.wookiee.

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CHOWDER Breed: Chow Chow Age: 2 Humans: Lozano Family When they were younger, the Lozano kids battled with asthma; but as the years passed, they started to outgrow their respiratory issues and their doctor finally gave them the go signal to get a dog. Initially, they started looking for hypoallergenic dogs, which was basically impossible. Finding a dog was starting to become a chore, until the family visited a pet village in Ortigas in October 2014. “We saw Chowder looking at us with his puppy eyes, telling us to take him home,” mom Bettina Lozano recalls. “We immediately fell in love with his cute face. Since that day, chowder has brought so much joy and happiness to the Lozano household.” “The most fulfilling part about Chowder is he’s very loyal and attached to his family,” Bettina shares. “He patiently waits downstairs until everyone [comes] home at night. Every time someone comes home, Chowder is the first to greet [them] – submitting himself to be pet with his tail wagging in eternal happiness.” Follow Chowder’s adventures (and misadventures) on his official Instagram account: @chowderthebeardog.

These pin-up dogs make the case that all pets are NOT created equal.

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Text by Ching Dee


ASLAN & VIXEN Breed: Shih Tzu Age: 3 (Aslan), 2 ½ (Vixen) Humans: Vanessa Sabido & Dannel Garing Taking care of 24—yes, twenty-four—Shih Tzu may sound like a daunting task, but raising 24 award-winning Shih Tzu? Now that almost sounds like a job for Ethan Hunt (or Planet Krypton Cesar Millan). But for Vanessa Sabido and Dannel Garing of Superness Shih Tzu (a small kennel in Makati City breeding show dogs), it’s their everyday life.




Vixen, for her part, is another awardwinning champion from Sabido and Garing. Having participated in shows when she was as young as three months old, Vixen has been awarded multiple “Best Baby Puppy” and “Best Puppy” awards in dog shows all over the country. Vixen has also received the International and Philippine Grand Champion awards, not to mention Champion awards from the same countries as her brother Aslan. However, for both Vanessa and Dannel, awards are simply bonuses. Seeing their fur babies’ happy little faces and watching them grow up healthy and strong are the couple’s main goal in raising their dogs. Find out more about Sabido and Garing’s award-winning furry babies at www.



Three-year-old Aslan, whose name was taken from the C.S. Lewis classic “Chronicles of Narnia,” is just one of Vanessa and Dannel’s multi-awarded Shih Tzu. Out of the 24, they currently have 16 dogs that actively participate in dog shows. In fact, Aslan is the very first liver-colored and white Shih Tzu to receive the “Best in Show” award in the entire planet. Way to go, Aslan!


Breed: Samoyed Age: 2 Human: Mark Ong Mark Ong grew up in a family of dog lovers—caring for Rottweilers and Shih Tzu as if they are their children and siblings. But owning a Samoyed, a rare breed in the Philippines, never crossed his mind because of his past perception of Samoyeds being horribly unsuitable for the tropical climate. But when Alba came along that fateful day, Mark knew his life is changed for good. Samoyeds are bred to be sled and herding dogs in Siberia, and true to form, Alba is an extremely active dog. Ong regularly takes her for a walk in the morning or a trainingslash-playtime session at night. While it does seem like much work, it all boils down to loving your pet as a part of your family—something Mark and Alba know all too well. “The most fulfilling part of having her is that she does not only provide me with companionship, but she also spreads that happiness to everyone she meets,” Ong says.


(1&4 chowder) Photo courtesy of Bea & Bettina Lozano; (2 shih Tzu)photo by Leovic Arceta; (3)photo courtesy of Vanessa Sabido (; (5&6 samoyed)photo courtesy of Mark Ong

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Doggone Dog Dilemmas? Doggy Dan to the Rescue! Text by Angie Duarte Interview conducted by Suzette Defensor

Puppy Moses with Doggy Dan

Doggie behavioral problems can be overwhelming. Get help from the expert, before it’s all gone to the dogs!

The statement “a dog is a man’s best friend” has remained largely uncontested since its first utterance in the 1700’s by – if historical accounts are to be believed – King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Yes, millions of pooch-loving people the world over will attest to the fact that the joys they receive from their cherished canines are second to none. The unconditional loyalty, love, and companionship these four legged family members so readily give is almost beyond compare.

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There is, however, a dark side to this furry force of faithfulness and goodness. In fact, those in the know can point to over 30 pooch problems annoying enough for humans to send even their most beloved of doggy darlings to the idiomatic (perhaps even the actual) doghouse. Gasp! How is this even possible, you ask? Toilet training problems, chewing issues, aggression towards other dogs or other people, separation anxiety, howling and crying when left alone, destructive habits, extreme hyperactivity; these are just a few on a rather lengthy list of behavioral badness traits even the cutest of hounds can exhibit. Enter the dog trainer: God’s gift to this doggoned world; pardon the intentional pun. And when it comes to hound handlers, among the top dogs is New Zealander, Doggy Dan, a celebrated and celebrity professional dog trainer and behavioral specialist from Auckland. Not only has Doggy Dan (Dan Abdelnoor, in the world

of grownup humans) come up with a helpful and handy course on dog training, he has made this more accessible (not to mention, more cost-efficient) by offering The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Old dogs, new tricks “I started the project about six years ago. Initially, it was to help those clients that I had worked with one-on-one, (for them) to remember what I had shown them and some new stuff if they were interested,” Dan shares. “However, it soon grew much bigger – with my live consultation that I filmed – I realized that most of the consult should be put on the site,” he adds. When asked at what age it is best to train a dog, Dan readily answers: “Any age!” “In fact as they get older, say past five or six, I would say that they start to get easier (to train) again!” he dispelling the long-held saying and belief that an old dog cannot


Training dogs…and their humans More than training the dog, Dan is also dedicated to training the dog owner.

be taught new tricks. “Probably the trickiest time is around two to three years of age; they are strong confident and full of energy. The equivalent of a 25 to 30 year old human!” he clarifies. ‘Bad doggy!’ no more Dan relates on his site that many dog owners – perhaps out of frustration or lack of knowledge – resort to measures now deemed brutal, in order to get their pooch to tow the line and behave. The use of electric shock collars and other such devices, or simply yelling at and physically hitting your pooch are methods not only considered unethical in the treatment of animals, but are also considered inefficient modes of training. “It’s amazing how many dog owners think that if they are forceful enough with their dog, yell at them more, or even resort to hitting them or using shock collars that they will finally learn to behave. This is just sad,” Dan says.

he explains.

“It’s all about training the owner…there is usually very little that the dog needs to change at a deep level. The owner needs to change the way they are relating with the dog. What I mean is that many dogs if I took them would be fine within an hour or two of me just doing a couple of simple things. I have not really trained the dog, as much as the dog is getting the correct messages from me on how I want them to behave,”

“If you think of how a child can misbehave with a person/ teacher /babysitter / caregiver, then another person comes along and the child behaves perfectly it helps to understand what is going on,” he adds. With several years of experience in his field of expertise, Dan is certainly not barking up the wrong tree when he tells dog owners to know and understand the breed and personality of their pet. This, he says, is key to establishing a successful training course, as well as a harmonious relationship between both parties. “All dogs are different and it is really the personality of the dog that determines

things to a large extent. The personality and behavior of the dog, however, is of course greatly affected by the owners and how they are around the dog, and other people.” Dogged determination With thousands of successfully trained dogs and more than satisfied owners on his roster of clients, Dan – also a fervent animal rights activist, book author, and well-known media personality – continues on his mission with dogged determination. “My #1 PASSION is training dogs, and I’ve dedicated my entire life to it…” he exclaims on his site. Part of this passion is expressed in his avid work for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), through which he has helped to save the lives of countless dogs. The New Zealand SPCA has witnessed, firsthand, how effective Doggy Dan’s training program is, and the organization continues to use and endorse Dan’s methods. Doggy Dan continues to help dog owners and their pets, the world over with his efforts, expertise, and dogged determination (like a dog with a bone, we could say), in hopes that every dog would have its day. Doggy Dan: changing the world of dog training one dog at a time. For more information on Doggy Dan’s program, visit or visit DoggyDan on Facebook at

He reveals that, at one point, he used choke chains to discipline and train dogs. But only after having tested these on his person, to determine the safety of such a method. “I used choke / check chains early on after testing them on myself and finding them to be almost pain free! However I only used them very gently and only a couple of times…and since many dogs seemed to respond very well with no pain involved I was happy to use them,” he reveals. “Now however, I have found another type of harness that seems to work even better at calming dogs down and getting them to walk well…So, I haven’t used the chains in a long time…Several years,” Dan enthusiastically points out.

Doggy Dan with some of his well-behaved buddies

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I Iz Kitty – Hear Mez Meowwwwr Text by Angie Duarte

have been bestowed the lofty title “man’s best friend,” as their canine counterparts, they hold an even loftier title in this day and age: “man’s best shot at Internet fame.”

Pawing through the Internet feline fascination. The Internet has been a-purr with a viral sensation of the decidedly feline kind. The world is crazy for cats! These adorable furry friends have taken cyberspace by storm: from photos to videos, gifs to ”catsies,” netizens cannot seem to get enough of these purrfect creatures. Feline videos and photos these days really are the cat’s meow: Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat are three of the kitty-phenomenon’s brightest stars. Grumpy Cat, for instance, has gained so much popularity since her first video went viral that she has landed a movie deal (Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, released in December 2014 by Lifetime), “authored” two books (Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book and No-It-All), and is the inspiration for a signature coffee line (Grumpuccino). She’s appeared on Good Morning America, been interview by Forbes, and has been featured by Time Magazine. She has also slinked away with several awards, including the Internet Cat Video’s Golden Kitty award, given by web users to their most beloved viral kitty. Need we say more? Though cats may not 42 | expat

I have always been a fan of the furry feline (I had 21 – yes, you read correctly, 21! – cats, at one point), so this phenomenon doesn’t surprise me. Without getting catty about it, it should surprise no one. History reveals that humanity has always been largely fascinated with cats. “Mau” than man’s best friend Human folk have been under this feline spell since the time of the ancient Egyptians, during which cats were worshiped as gods and valued for their important role in vermin and snake control. The cat goddess Bast was central to early Egyptian religion; revered as the deity of protection, fertility, and motherhood. Cats were then known as “mau” and domesticated from the Middle Eastern subspecies of the wildcat, approximately 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. They held such an important place in ancient Egyptian society that, upon their death, some felines were given the same mummification rites accorded to humans. Pop-culture purrfection In popular culture, cats were seen in ancient Egyptian pictographs and hieroglyphs, and in temples, as statues of Bast. Poetry from as early as the 9th century – such as the poem “Pangur Ban,” penned by an Irish monk in


Photos from: Angie Duarte;; www.; Paul Anderson (grumphy-cat); Jonas Vincent; Octavio Fossatti.

honor of his fur baby – also reflects our feline fancy. In the 1870’s, Harry Pointer and his carte de visite’s featured cats with amusing captions. Several hundred years later, Christopher Smart would author the poem “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry.” Even further along, in the 1930’s, T.S. Eliot would write his renowned and wellloved Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, upon which the hit-musical CATS was based.

Second, it seems that cats, oddly enough, remind us of our own human offspring, hence, the desire to protect and nurture them. Michael Newall, a philosopher of art at the University of Kent, theorizes that our almost obsessive interest in cats may derive from their outward resemblance to human babies; with their big eyes, smallish noses, and dome-shaped heads. These features, in turn, set-off in us the evolutionary nurturing instincts that we demonstrate toward our babies.

Today, we have LOLcats as perhaps the most popular cat photo and meme-sharing venue. Ben Huh of the Cheezburger Network says that cats, in fact, have an undisputed rule of the Internet, pointing out that people submit 10 times as many “LOLCats” as “Hot Dogs” to the site. Scott Stulen of the Walker Arts Center, a contemporary art museum in Minneapolis, describes the response to the Cat Internet Video Festival, first held in 2013: “There’s something about the cat video that transcends language and transcends culture,” he said. And it’s more than simple entertainment, because people feel such a strong connection. “There’s definitely something much deeper to it.” The cat craze has obviously outlived its nine lives, and it doesn’t show any signs of dying down. Picture purrfect Meeeeowve over, selfies! It seems the feline fascination is such that in certain countries, like the United Kingdom, cat photos are more popular than selfies. Instagram is usually flooded with photos of lovable felines, with the hashtag #CatsOfInstagram used by cat-loving fiends the world over. UK mobile network company, Three, and net research company, Viral Spiral, conducted a study which found that internet users share more than twice as many online cat pictures as they do selfies. More than 3.8 million cat snaps are shared each day, as against 1.4

million selfies. Further, one in five Internet users have created an online persona for their cat. This computes to more than 350,000 cat owners who have set up social media platforms for the kitties. Purrfect combination Why the seeming obsession with cats that, if history is any indicator, won’t go away anytime soon? Naturalists, psychologists and sociologists have all studied the phenomenon and have come up with several theories, which may explain why we worship on feline ground. First, we are in awe of cats. It’s pretty hard not to be, really. Being around a domesticated cat is like being around the king or queen of agile, fierce, beautiful, awe-inspiring jungle beasts. Only smaller in size cuddly, entertaining, funny, squishable, and safe.

Third, we love that cats are social and comic, and yet incredibly aloof, dignified creatures. We find this paradox endlessly amusing, apparently. Tom Cox, author of Under the Paw - Confessions of a Cat Man and Talk to the Tail says: “Cats have a combination of incredible dignity, but also comedy about them. Cats can be so ridiculously pleased with themselves — and you don’t get that with dogs. Because they are so proud and so aware of that dignity, when it is punctured it’s the funniest thing in the world.” And fourth, the Internet has become the best avenue for cat owners to share their love for their fur babies; having become the equivalent of a “dog park” for cats and their humans. Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain – the Internet has brought out and magnified (as the Internet does with virtually anything it touches) what has been there all along: we cannot get enough of cats. And perhaps – knowing cats as I do – this has been their Great Feline Agenda, all this time.

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Get to know local destinations that might end up being your next holiday retreat as Expat contributor Stephen Slade takes us to Wawa Dam – a place that wound up surpassing what he conjured up in his imagination; we also give you the lowdown on how to go about unraveling the mystique of Siquijor; and we introduce you to the idyllic serenity of Puesto del Sol; plus, your first glimpse into Tarsier Botanikatheir advocacies, and how they’re all set to elevate the art of living.

Candanay Beach Photo by Bernard L. Supetran


Wawa Dam: Far Less Than I Expected, Much Greater Than I Imagined Text and photos by Stephen Slade

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“I told a friend that I felt like I was on a movie set because everything looked intentionally accidental. From the ground to the sky, nature seemed to have given everything its own place with its own purpose, and all of this without a trace of its origin.”

I grew up in “The Rockies” of North America so I am no stranger to seeing the breathtaking views of a vast gorge, then finding relief from the heat of the day in the cool waters that traverse its rock walls. When I think about the various dams that I have flown over, driven across and through, and even laddered down inside of, a day trip to an island gorge and a reservoir void of modern mechanics seemed a bit lackluster. But a recent trip to Wawa Dam (also known as the Montalban Dam), will long be remembered for a beauty and story that only it could tell. An early Sunday morning drive with friends to Rodriguez, in the Province of Rizal would find us taking a detour to Wawa Dam in the Sierra Madre Mountains, about 45 minutes east of Manila. “It’s a place where we used to hike and swim during the summer with our family and friends,” said a voice from the back seat. We drove to the San Rafael barangay hall at the base of the dam trail where we registered, then paid a small entrance and parking fee. As soon as we stepped out of the car you could hear the river in the near distance. The first few hundred meters of the smooth paved and dirt trail were lined with sari-sari’s (local convenience stores) and fruit vendors. Behind them were tall trees and massive rocks, all of which created a shroud that hid the river from view.  expat | 47

LOCALSHORES Mythic Tales As we walked along the trail, my friends took turns telling me different stories about the area. “Philippine mythology tells a tale of Bernardo Carpio who was said to be a giant. Some believe he caused an earthquake that created the gorge.” Same giant but with a different ending, “The gorge was created by the footprints he left behind,” said another. But it was the third version of the mythic tale that would be my favorite. For whatever reason, Bernardo the giant “wedged his hands into a small crack and forced the mountain in two and created the gorge.” Perhaps “the giant” didn’t have anything else better to do with his time or strength on that day? Locals believe some drowning deaths in the shallows of the river pool above the dam are nangunguha (a dark river spirit who takes the life of another out of revenge). Whichever tale you want to believe, a few things are certain. The dam was built in the early 1900s to supply Manila with the lifegiving waters of the Marikina River. With age and advancements in engineering came its replacement, the Angat Dam. Eventually the Wawa Dam would be abandoned. But it still stands tall and strong today and refuses to be forgotten. Unveiling Trails With each forward step along the path there seemed to be a growing roar and increasing breeze pushing up from the river floor. As I cleared the next bend I stopped in my own tracks. There were no more obstacles preventing me from seeing the river. I looked down to one side and saw raging currents forced to navigate around enormous limestone rocks. The river itself seemed so small compared to my earlier expectations. But the journey that water had to take made sure everyone heard and felt its presence. When I was still a child, I lived by a river. I remember how I would spend my summer days skipping small flat stones across its surface, or build my own dam out of rocks no bigger than a small carry-on. The downstream of Wawa Dam was no bed for small flat skipping stones. This river coursed through a maze of boulders in sizes I’d never seen before. One was as large as a bus, while another was like a house. When you witness water thrashing against rocks that fight back, you understand if not respect the deep bass sound and forceful winds it creates. The trail got a bit narrow in spots and had a few up and down slopes, matching the diversity of its footprints. I passed a few bikers on a water break, and several fruit vendors carrying the day’s inventory bundled on bamboo poles. There were honeymooners, and groups that were both big and small, young and old. One thing we all had in common? Everyone was armed with a camera to capture every change in the landscape. Around one corner was a thick and lush setting of trees and vines that made you feel like you had entered a rain

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forest. A few steps beyond that, you find yourself in a seemingly arid region standing on dry dirt surrounded by rocks with no vegetation in sight. There was a wooden bridge made of three-inch planks with the same width as the distance between each next piece of wood. Then another bridge would be built with sheets of metal, vibrantly colored by deep rust. Both presented hold-your-breath-moments as I started each crossing, until I realized their solid construction was a looking glass that gave even more unique views of the surroundings. Beyond Google Armed with my smartphone, I searched the Internet to know a little bit more about Wawa Dam. Considered a “gravity dam,” it features a concrete wall that leverages its own weight to hold back the upstream waters. Once the river rises and the backside of the wall becomes submerged, excess water flows over the top taking a tumble down the jagged, sloped surface then forming back into the river. I snapped out of my hydro-engineering hypnosis and nearly tripped over my thoughts. How did the enormous boulders get to the river below? They were too big

to be carried from upstream but even if they had, they would have crashed through the dam before going over it. I looked up expecting to see the outline of an eroded rock face that once housed the downstream rubble. But the gorge had seemingly risen from the riverbed unaware. Both sides towered in front of me with a captivating allure. The soft blue sky and its silver clouds were a stark contrast from the bold earth tones below. To be fair, it is a difficult visual to describe and I know I would never do it justice. I thought to myself, “This has to be fake, it looks too real.” I told a friend that I felt like I was on a movie set because everything looked intentionally accidental. From the ground to the sky, nature seemed to have given everything its own place with its own purpose, and all of these without a trace of its origin. visual indulgence You can see Wawa a couple hundred meters before you actually reach the spillway, but continue the trek and you’re standing at the top of the dam in the ruins of a rock building. With a window on each side, this house-like roofless structure sits adjacent to the dam and was likely built to house workers who monitored and maintained


majestic faces. But what really captured my attention was the site of a cave opening in the limestone mountain, high above the dam. My friends called this Pamitinan Cave. While researching the cave I discovered it was formerly known as the “Cave of Bernardo Carpio.” “Wait a minute, there’s that name again,” I thought. According to Wikipedia, Carpio was a figure in Philippine mythology who was rebuked by the gods because of his insolence. Legend states that he was chained forever in the Montalban gorge, cursed to keep two mountains from colliding with each other. We will never know Carpio’s true role in the creation or sustaining of the gorge, but history tells us that his former namesake cave was occupied by Japanese troops around 1941 after invading the Philippines during World War II. It was used as a venue for various war strategy meetings. The irony is that in 1895, national patriot Andres Bonifacio was said to have declared Independence Day from a location within the Pamitinan Cave. Almost 50 years later it would be a location that would be occupied by a foreign power and used to strategize against the Philippines and its allies. The Japanese occupation ended in 1945. Perhaps someone finally took note of Bonifacio’s inscription, which can still be seen on the cave walls, “Viva la Independencia Filipinas.” the area. Out the back window you see a beach with picnic areas and a calm lake fed by run-off from the mountains above. From the side window you see the water’s edge cross a threshold then fall dizzyingly into what looks like billowing cotton. Turning to the front window you are treated to a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the Marikina River as it begins its course down the valley. By the small lake beach behind the dam, my friends and I enjoyed a picnic lunch in one of the many thatched roof huts that can be rented for the day for just a handful of change. As you look around you will see local vendors selling a variety of wares, snacks and drinks, and of course…there’s videoke. Our lunch table view had me in awe as I looked out at the gorge walls with their

My lazy morning hike to a place I had underestimated turned out to be a visual indulgence filled with rich history and mountain-tall tales. The spoils of the walk back to the car would be to savor all of the sites I had seen that morning, but in reverse order and with equally eager anticipation. With the noon sun beating down, I paused my exit journey in a rock tunnel along the trail. Water seeping through the hard rock above created a refreshing ambient cool. I recharged and contemplated my baling umaga. It was a simple climb to this dam that sits like a crown atop the bold but narrow cleft below, harnessing the water’s force to provide for the needs of many. The landscape is impartial of its own beauty and stands liberated from its surroundings. Wawa Dam, a unique Filipino parallel and path. Far less than I expected, much greater than I imagined.

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Siquijor Discover the mysteries in the Island of Fire Text by Ching Dee Photos by Ching Dee and Leovic Arceta, additional photos courtesy of Bernard L. Supetran

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No, the rain did not stop us from traversing the sea from Dumaguete City to Siquijor. If anything, it made the trip even more exciting. Thankfully, though, by the time we had to board the ferry—which has surely seen better days—the rains ceased and the sea grew calm.

During the rainy months, the southwestern side of the island tends to be littered with seaweed and might not be ideal for swimming. So guests making the most of offpeak discounted rates are often encouraged to stay at beaches in the northern side of the island.

About an hour later, we hopped off to Siquijor: Isla del Fuego.

Getting around the island is quite easy, especially with its wide and well-paved Siquijor Circumferential Road, which offers a picturesque view of the seas surrounding the Island of Fire.

Heading to Siquijor From Dumaguete City Port, there are several ferry lines heading to Siquijor. As a traveler, one mainly has to secure two things: the ferry’s travel schedule and a ticket. Due to its limited schedule, it is a must not to miss your ferry trip. A more complicated route involving transfers can be done if you’re heading to Siquijor from Cebu or even Bohol. It’s possible, but it’ll be a challenge. From Siquijor Port, we took a tricycle to the town of San Juan. What’s good about the transportation around the island is that most long-distance trips already have fixed rates as approved and published by the local tourism office. This avoids incidents of drivers haggling or over-charging tourists.

Siquijor basics When in Siquijor, you have the choice between two tour routes: the coastal tour or the mountain tour. The coastal tour allows you drive the entire strip of road wrapped around the island, taking you from one barangay (village) to the other. As the name suggests, it is best for those who are looking for the best of the best that Siquijor has to offer: pristine beaches and unspoilt seas. The mountain tour takes you deeper into the heart of the island. The tour offers a visit to u

St. Assisi Church

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u the home of a famous bolo-bolo healer who uses a stone, allegedly with supernatural healing powers, to treat sick people; observe areas that still practice witchcraft; and take a walk around a village with a thriving woodcraft industry. With the advent of the World Wide Web, looking for a place to stay in the Island of Fire is as easy as visiting online booking sites. Despite its predominantly rural environment, Siquijor is home to highend luxury resorts with modern amenities. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly accommodation, hostels and budget resorts are also scattered around the island. Sights to see, things to do Despite not knowing how to swim, this writer is fond of bodies of water, and Siquijor is a boundless wonder of aquatic beauty.


In Siquijor, do not miss out on Lugnason Falls in Brgy. Napo in San Juan. The waterfall is only a few meters away from the road and a short trek will lead you to its well-kept beauty. The waterfalls itself is not that high, but its pool is quite deep. The 400-year-old Enchanted Balete Tree in the town of Lazi is said to be home to mystical and paranormal creatures. It is also home to a pool of crystal clear water and a school of tiny hungry fish. Tourists can donate whatever amount they wish to give (to be used for the upkeep of the Balete Tree and its pool) and dip their feet in the pool where the fish can nibble away at their dead skin. It’s like fish spa, only a little bit ticklish.


After resting your feet, drive further uptown and find Iglesia Parroquial de San Isidro Labrador, or simply Lazi Church. The neoclassical church completed in 1884 has suffered many incidents of theft, said Nanay Susing, the local priest’s 76-yearold cook. She graciously opened the church for us so we can take a look inside. She was energetic and full of stories. Being a teacher’s daughter, she spoke English well. Across the church is what used to be the Lazi Convent, which is now the town’s elementary school. It is the largest convent in Southeast Asia and was completed in 1891. It’s also where Nanay Susing cooks. There’s also a small museum on the second level of the convent, showcasing centuries-old manifestos, church documents, and even census records written in Spanish. You can also find church artifacts and household items from eons ago, like a water filter made of stone and an iron that looks like a small frying pan. A minimal fee was collected upon entry to the museum. After feeding off Lazi’s historical side, grab some lunch and head off to Cambugahay Falls. From the main road, you have to go down 136 steps to find the trilogy of small yet magnificent waterfalls cascading onto each other. The entire place was quiet, save

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for the relaxing sound of rushing waters. The water is an unbelievable shade of blue despite the rains earlier that day. One just couldn’t help but gush at the sight of such natural wonder. Travel tip: Find that perfect crevice where you can sit between two rocks and just relax as the current serves as nature’s massage chair. It’s a water spa in the middle of the forest! Because exploring Siquijor is a task that should persist, head down to Salagdoong

Beach. Before reaching the resort, you’ll pass through a tunnel of trees at the Salagdoong Forest Reserve. Most of the trees in the forest are fire trees, so one could only imagine how picturesque this route will be at the time the trees are in full bloom. One of the main attractions at Salagdoong is the massive rock in the middle of the beach where you could jump off and plunge into the turquoise waters beneath. So, for intrepid souls, that could be something for the books. Nonetheless, if you simply want


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Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines both in terms of population (91,066 as of 2010 Census) and land area (338.5 sq. km.).


Its coastline is 102 kilometers long.


Back in the 1560’s, the Spaniards called Siquijor “Isla del Fuego” (Island of Fire) because of the swarm of fireflies gathered in the island, making it glow in the night.


It has one of the highest literacy rates in the country at 92.5 percent..


Siquijor is best known for magic, sorcery, and witchcraft, but is now gaining popularity for its pristine beaches.


A healing festival is held in Siquijor every year and many faith healers come to the island to join the festivities.

(1)Mangrove Sanctuary (2)Salagdoong Resort’s slide (3)Cumparza string ensemble of Lazi (4)Lazi Convent (5)Cambugahay Falls (6)Lugnasan Falls (7)Salt & pepper chiken at Salagdoong Resort (8)bocayo bread from scratch


to enjoy the sea—water so clean you could see lots of fish without having to go beyond waist-deep— Salagdoong is just as perfect. It’s quiet and serene, best for an afternoon of relaxation.


From Salagdoong going to the town of Enrique Villanueva, take a few minutes to appreciate the oldest house in Siquijor. Even typhoon Pablo couldn’t get rid of this century-old dwelling. In fact, according to our guide, the biggest threat to the house’s existence is not the harsh weather conditions, but theft. This writer hopes the local government will do something to protect this house from further damage. I am pretty sure the town of Enrique Villanueva has tons to offer tourists, but please do not miss out on Aling Lucille’s bocayo (sweetened coconut) bread. She bakes it in a makeshift oven under a rickety shanti put together loosely with scrap wood and tarp. Do not let the unassuming thatch

“Siquijor goes above and beyond the expectations of the usual travel. Just when you thought you’re ready for adventure, Siquijor delivers more than what meets the eye.”

fool you. As it turns out, she’s renowned for making little pockets of deliciousness. Bocayo is Siquijor’s answer to Manila’s pan de coco. Soft, chewy pastry filled with shredded young coconut meat and caramel-like palm sugar. After it’s taken out of the oven, it is then brushed with evaporated milk to seal in moisture. Best enjoyed warm and overlooking the vast coast of Siquijor, this pit stop is the perfect spot to end your day of touring the Island of Fire.


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Tarsier Botanika: Satisfaction Guaranteed Text by Timothy Jay Ibay Photos courtesy of Tarsier Botanika

(Main photo) A gorgeous aerial shot of Tarsier Paprika and the lush greens that pervade Tarsier Botanika; (Bottom photo) The resort also serves as a lovely events venue, which features Tarsier Paprika’s exquisite fare.

An impressive and organically crafted display on the art of living and the appreciation for the basic luxuries in life; an amalgam of exquisite cuisine, fresh air, space, tranquility and peace – the vital things that touch the senses, but which remain elusive in the daily hustle and bustle of city living. These are what Tarsier Botanika claims to be at the core of their essence. And during Expat’s recent visit, we found their assertions to be absolutely spot on.

Nestled in Barangay Tawala, in the island of Pangalo in Bohol, Tarsier Botanika is an expansive botanical park that has grown organically to house a melding of advocacies and passion projects that are as impressive as they are inspiring. “It started as a botanic garden with just a little coffee shop in the park [some four to five years ago],” shares architect and Tarsier Botanika owner Nicolas Moussempes. “This has been a very organic project. We started with the landscaping, and instead of planning everything with one shot, we looked at how we could develop it in stages,” adds Nicolas, emphasizing that while he has his own extensive background in architecture, for this project, they allowed nature to serve as the architect.

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Building around the natural beauty of the 10-hectare property, which was originally intended to be Nicolas’ place of retirement (one that he kids lasted all of 15 minutes), a fine dining restaurant called Tarsier Paprika became the next stage of the development. Located on a cliff, providing truly spectacular views of the Bohol sea, and set to a background of exotic plants and traveler trees, Tarsier Paprika offers delicately crafted cuisine, which the Moussempes call, a “Taste of the World.” Nicolas’ wife, Patricia, who studied in a number of culinary schools in Paris before opening her own French pastry school in Hong Kong in the 80s, and whose many travels across the globe exposed her to the finest culinary discoveries in the world, inspired the restaurant’s gastronomy, which features the finest ingredients, used with aromatic herbs and exotic spices. And while you can’t go wrong with just about anything you pick off the menu, their sumptuous selection of desserts, and homemade breads stand as absolutely divine.

(above)Tarsier Botanika’s Zen Garden showcases over 3,000 exotic plants found in Bohol and neighboring areas; (below)One Tarsier Botanika’s Ifugao architecture-inspired villas. This photo does not even come close to giving its magnificence justice; (bottom) A sampling of Tarsier Paprika’s “Taste of the World.”

The menu is complemented by Nicolas’ assemblage of over 100 wines that include Spanish Rioja, Bordeaux Chateaux, Rose from St. Tropez, Californian full bodied Cabernet, New Zealand Marlborough, Italian Toscana and Veneto, among a slew of other fine wines. Art of living The latest additions to the Tarsier Botanika umbrella are 14 thoughtfully designed, upscale private villas, inspired by traditional Ifugao houses, which, at least for now, stand as the proverbial cherry on top of the Tarsier Botanika expanse and its dedication to the art of living. “It’s not an ordinary hotel where everything has been planned in advance and very geometric,” says Nicolas, vastly understating the very exclusive, high-end, boutique resort that Tarsier Botanika has become, which will very soon feature along with the spacious and unique villas, a pool café (branded Tarsier Tropika), adding to an impressive complex that includes an equestrian center (Tarsier Equestria), a diving center (Tarsier Aquatika), a museum/art gallery, and a spa village – all of which are exclusive to guests at the 14 villas. The attention to detail and top-shelf resort experience that Tarsier Botanika offers will soon be a benchmark in Bohol resort living. “The main thing for us is to produce pleasure – things that you enjoy,” says Nicolas, pointing to House of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci who once said “Price is long forgotten after quality is remembered.” Perhaps, what’s even more impressive is how Tarsier Botanika was able to synthesize

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LOCALSHORES the luxury resort experience with the natural constructs of the gorgeous Panglao environment. “We followed the dictate of nature. It was built in association with nature. And you can feel that result. That’s what makes it genuine. Nature was the architect,” he says of the Tarsier Botanika spread lush in foliage, where no trees were cut during the course of the entire development. The Moussempes made it perfectly clear that as a tribute to the unspoiled natural beauty they have come to call their home, nature comes first. “The project is 100 percent green,” says Nicolas. The water system is recycled to irrigate the park. There is no sewage going to the sea. Everything is recycled. Soon, a solar field will be in place, and the entire project will be powered by the sun.” Passion infusion While the growth of Tarsier Botanika may have been of the organic sort, a lot of its natural development had to do with the marriage of Nicolas and Patricia’s individual passions.

(above)Closer to Alona Beach is Tarsier Botanika’s deli and retail shop. This shot is of a tree house that’s a relaxing dinner spot for families and couples; (Circle) Patricia during one of her daily interactions with one of her many pets at the animal sanctuary; (bottom)Patricia demonstrating one of the classical dressage methods that she swears by.

We’ve covered Nicolas’ ruminative take on ancient Ifugao architecture, but a huge part of what gives the villas their distinct feel is the thoughtful landscaping (spearheaded by Patricia, and which took close to six years to accomplish) that sees Tarsier Botanika environed by the showcase of over 3,000 exotic plants found in Bohol and other neighboring provinces. “The park is a testament to how vital plants are to the world’s biological diversity,” says Patricia. “Our commitment and involvement in environmental education has provided inspiration to tourists and local residents who visit our park.”

Photo by Emma Gomez

But most evident amongst all their advocacies is Patricia’s absolute love, compassion and adoration for animals. You can hear it in her voice when she speaks about the many animals under their care. Be it stray cats, various birds that have made Tarsier Botanika their home, abandoned monkeys (but no Tarsiers – the brand is just a tribute to what has become the unofficial symbol of Bohol), or her pack of 20-something dogs, Patricia’s fondness for all of them is irrepressible. And this inability to turn her back on animals has led to Tarsier Botanika having its own little animal sanctuary that an exclusive staff tends to 24/7. No horsing around But, as fond as Patricia is of all the animals cared for by Tarsier Botanika, nothing comes close to how she beams when around her treasured stable of horses. “The first day I got on a horse, that was it,” Patricia succinctly tells Expat of how her 56 | expat


“Our aim is not only to train clients on the proper way to ride, but to introduce a humane way of training the horse to make it calm and willing to work without use of force”

lifelong affinity for the magnificent beasts began. And instead of speaking in length about her decades of experience riding them, Patricia focused on a fairly recent realization she had – how to properly care for them. That realization, stemming from learning about classical dressage, led to Tarsier Equestria – an equestrian center housing 15 horses of different breeds and sizes, and one that flips the script on how one should treat and view horses. “Our aim is not only to train clients on the proper way to ride, but to introduce a humane way of training the horse to make it calm and willing to work without use of force,” Patricia explains of this method from the old masters that peeled her eyes onto a different perspective. From a retired carriage horse in the busy streets of Binondo and one that was ditched in Panglao, to a Manila Polo Club horse that have seen better days, Tarsier Equestria’s corrective training and classical dressage have proven to be a paradigm shift that works on horses from all walks of life.

She stresses the importance of ground training before riding; getting to bond and know the horse, which translates to a happier horse, and one that would be willing to work with the rider in harmony. “Our horses work willingly and have a strong bond with our handlers,” Patricia proudly says. “All our grooms have been trained to respect and care for our horses properly. At the center, we do not administer unnecessary drugs to ease lameness, shoulder and back problems like most center in the Philippines do. All our horses are kept in the best conditions, given paddock time, exercised regularly and treated kindly.” Not only does this method of classical dressage have historical merit, its results are obvious to those in the know when they see Tarsier Equestria’s horses. And it doesn’t only work with the top of the line thoroughbreds and Lusitanos, as Patricia’s penchant for taking in and caring for animals in need has seen Tarsier Equestria rehabilitate and retrain abandoned and injured horses.

The art of living, a championing of the environment and an encompassing love for animals – born out of compassion and organically grown, Tarsier Botanika is an experience few others can offer. Tarsier Botanika’s entry into the luxury resort field is set for February 2016. Your next travel destination has just been set.

Photo by Emma Gomez

* Tarsier Botanika is located at Km. 16 Hoyohoy, Barangay Tawala, Panglao, Bohol. For more information, contact (038) 510-8472, (0917) 526-6001, email or visit www. Tarsier Botanika is also open for weddings and private functions, and also has a delicatessen, coffee shop and shopping center in the heart of Alona. expat | 57


Puesto del Sol Get acquainted with this unassuming resort that’s a picture of placidity ascertained to nourish the soul Text by Timothy Jay Ibay Photos courtesy of Puesto del Sol

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A soothing disconnetct

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The Philippines, with all its politicking, hairpulling traffic and bullet-planting schemes, still possesses a distinct charm that a great number of long-time expats and frequent visitors can attest to. Living in Metro Manila, as madding as it can be, affords the accessibility to many a tropical paradise to get away from the noise and haze, most of which, are a mere hour away by plane. But as stunning as those holiday destinations may be, they’re better suited for a carefully planned furlough as opposed to a quick, spontaneous escape. For those on the lookout for a swift city detox, the unassuming Puesto del Sol beckons. Tucked away in Calatagan, Batangas, some two to three hours (largely depending on when you decide to take the drive) away from the oft-exhausting metropolis, is a hillside resort called Puesto del Sol – an idyllic little haven, perfect for disconnecting from everything else and revitalizing the soul through some much needed introspection. What started as a personal getaway with a lone villa for owner Rafael Calero, has now gradually grown to feature five thoughtfully crafted villas built around an utterly relaxing infinity pool that serve as the perfect vantage point for the West Philippine Sea panorama (one that, on a clear day offers views of Mindoro, Lubang, Fortune and Sombrero Islands). “It’s very private, peaceful and relaxing,” kitchen interior designer Calero of Kitchen Studio says of his little haven. “It’s just a nice place to get away from Manila. If you’re looking or a place that’s got a fantastic view, accommodating staff, and affords much welcome privacy, this a nice place for you.” The Villas Casa Isabel was the first villa built on the property – a Balinese outfit that plays beautifully with natural lighting, niches and the feel of being connected to the natural beauty environed by Puesto del Sol. It has an outdoor dining area, lanai, its own plunge pool and, of course, the resort’s

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excellent omnipresent views. Casa Cecilia (recommended for couples) is nestled within green foliage, and carries on with the distinct ambiance of Puesto del Sol and its prevalent interplay with nature and architectural style that’s equal parts confident, welcoming and romantic. It features a pocket garden, a small lounge area that epitomizes chill, and a five-star bathroom adorned with polished stones that allow it to exude a spa-like feel. Casa Cristina is the resort’s latest addition – a 60 squaremeter spread designed with bigger families and groups in mind. It houses up to 20 people, lending the distinct Puesto del Sol experience to groups looking to both bond and relax at the same time.


For a more rustic feel, Puesto del Sol’s twin Casitas with its cottage design give out a more native ambience, save for the fact that it overlooks the resort’s pool of Zen. Whatever villa you choose at Puesto del Sol, Calero ensures a homey experience, you’ll want to keep coming back to. “It’s not always easy to find Puesto del Sol’s combination of style, privacy and relaxation,” he says. “People can come here when they’re stressed out or when they just want to chill, and then come back to Manila revitalized.”

(1)Waking up to the glorious sun whilst surrounded by lush foliage is among the many charms of Casa Cecilia; (2)Night shot of Casa Cecilia and it’s perfectly chill lounge; (3)Post sunset viewt outside Casa Isabel; (4)Casa Isabel’s outdoor dining area; (5)The spacious Casa Cirstina if perfect for larger groups; (6)The photo may not do it justice, but this lounge area outside Casa Cristina is absolutely perfect for lazing the day away.





Tailored Escape “The whole concept is not to have a lot of villas. The concept is to make it feel very private, so that when guests come here, you feel like it’s your place,” shares Calero. And apart from the consuming yet liberating serenity that envelopes Puesto del Sol, one of the resort’s great features is the way you can customize your experience and truly make it your own.


While the placidity of Puesto del Sol may be enough for most, sometimes you need a bit of endorphin-inducing activities, if nothing but to allow yourself to savor the peace and quiet even more. That’s where the rest of Calatagan and the resort’s neighbors come into play. Calatagan being a pretty tight-knit community of resorts united in the thrust of championing their abode, Puesto del Sol also serves as your concierge for experiencing the many activities available in town. A 20-minute drive away is Lago de Oro, known to the initiated as the country’s pioneer wakeboarding facility. Even closer is Stilts, a beach resort that offers a slew of activities for the more adventurous ilk. From ATV rides on dirt trails and mountain biking, to aquatic doses of fun with kayaking, snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding and even sailing, you can have your pick on how

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Published rates

to release the energy you’ve built up whilst relaxing at Puesto del Sol. There are also a couple places that give you a glimpse of history in the area, with the 19th century Cape Santiago Lighthouse and the Museo Enrique Zobel likewise just 10 to 20 minutes away from Puesto del Sol. The resort is an excellent home base for experiencing the quaint charm of the town and off beaten activities it has to offer. The way it’s tucked up in the hills, overlooking all that you can enjoy is an added bonus that’s unique to Puesto del Sol. And after a day of fun, you can head back home to the resort to a feast of your own design. Take advantage of the coastal town’s seafood delights like tiger prawns, crabs and lapu-lapu, along with a couple of Puesto del Sol’s specialties, sweet and spicy adobo and barbecue chicken, which the resort staff will gladly prepare for you (it won’t be a rarity to find Calero himself driving to the market early in the morning to procure the freshest catches). In its simplicity, words somehow fall short of capturing the allure of Puesto del Sol. With the promise of placidity, privacy and utmost hospitality, Expat highly recommends you discover this sanctuary of peace real soon.

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(above)Casa Cristina from a different angle. (below)Buttered Tiger Prawns are a must-try when at Puesto del Sol


Casa Isabel PhP7,800 a night for four persons (and up to seven) inclusive of breakfast.


Casa Cecilia PhP6,800 a night for two persons (and up to six) inclusive of breakfast.


Villa Cristina At least PhP8,000 for eight persons (and a maximum of 20).


Casitas PhP5,800 a night for four persons (and a maximum of eight) inclusive of breakfast. All children aged four years old and below are free of charge. Extra person rate is PhP1,000 per (mattress and breakfast inclusive). The resort is presently for sale. For inquiries, contact details are below. Puesto del Sol is located at Brgy. Bagong Silang, Calatagan, Batangas. For reservations and more information, call (0918) 656-8482 and (0915) 9888011, email, or visit


Get acquainted with some of the wonders the Indonesian archipelago cradles in abundance; read up on Expat Associate Publisher Vernon Prieto’s exploits in the Caribbean; get a glimpse into the Chinese dining and shopping haven that is Fujian; and take in some of the snaps from an otherworldly African safari.


A Fujian Tulou in Gaobei Village, Yangding County.

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The Fujian Tourist trail Text and photos by Vernon Prieto

Sumptous cuisine, endless shopping and a taste of heritage— discover the many draws of this bustling Chinese province.

Fujian Province is one of China’s 22 provinces located on the southeast coast of mainland China. Most of Fujian is governed by the People’s Republic of China except for the Kinmen and Matsu archipelagos situated in the Taiwan Strait, which are controlled by the Republic of China (Taiwan). A mere 180 kilometers separate Fujian Province from Taiwan. Historically, Fujian Province has strong ties with Southeast Asia and Taiwan as the descendants of Fujian emigrants make up the predominant ethnic Chinese populations of Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Our group consisted of several travel agents from Binondo. We landed in the tourist city of Xiamen (formerly Amoy) via direct flight from Manila. I have always liked Xiamen. It is clean, orderly, scenic and is ringed with white sand beaches and the calm blue waters of the ocean. The city is made up of Xiamen Island, Gulangyu Island, the north bank area of the Jiulong River and Tong’an County.

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Gulangyu Island Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we decided to enjoy a sumptuous dinner before calling it a night as we had to be up early the following day to attend the Leisure Tourism Expo. That afternoon, we again feasted on superb Chinese cuisine before boarding the 20-minute ferry ride to enchanting Gulangyu Island from Dongdu International Terminal. The merely two square kilometer island is home to around 20,000 residents and is the province’s most famous weekend getaway and tourist destination. The island was once an International Settlement during Xiamen’s colonial past and is recognized for its European-style architecture and for China’s only piano museum located within the grounds of the Shuzhuang Garden.



Vehicles permitted on this pedestrian-only island are small electric buggies that take you to the many island attractions if you prefer not to walk. Notable tourist draws include Huaijiu Gulangyu Museum, which is housed in the site of an early German bank. The museum showcases the colonial presence of foreigners in China. On the south side of the island is its highest point - Sunlight Rock. Here is nature at its best, featuring odd-shaped stones and rocks, caves, cliffs, indigenous trees and flowers. From the summit, one can have a bird’s-eye view of Xiamen Island. Enchanting boutique hotels, unique shops and tempting restaurants and food stalls are found all over the island for the benefit of the visitors. After touring delightful Gulangyu Island and dining on fresh seafood, we were treated to watch the captivating Ling Ling International Circus in Jimei District. This extremely entertaining show presents a cast of performers from Russia and Eastern Europe, Africa, and China as well as trained animals that include a hippopotamus. Kinmen Island The following day, we had to bring our passports with us because we were taking a 30-minute ferry ride to Kinmen Island, formerly known as Quemoy. This island stronghold is part of a small archipelago of several islands and is the closest territory of Taiwan to China. In fact, it is much closer to 66 | expat


China than to Taiwan. Kinmen was originally a military reserve, and only after it was returned to the civilian government did the island’s main economy shift to tourism and services due to its proximity to mainland China. It is recorded that in 2014, as many as 1.5 million passengers travelled by ferry between Fujian and Kinmen ports. We first visited Zhaishan Tunnel, which was carved from the coastline in 1961 and was used to conceal small naval vessels. We also toured the Aug. 23rd Artillery Battle Museum where a memorial to 587 soldiers who lost their lives, as well as different military equipment are displayed, along with Juguang Tower—the symbol of Kinmen built in stately Chinese style. After the tour ended, we had the best meal during our whole trip, which seemed


impossible because all our meals were amazing. Kinmen’s popular Kaoliang liquor was served to complement the meal. Then, we headed off to Ever Rich Kinmen Golden Lake Plaza, which is considered as Asia’s largest duty free store. Here, we were virtually transported to Taipei. Everything was modern and everything that could be bought in Taipei could be found here. Busloads of mainland tourists were buying all the designer goods like they were going out of style. That evening was reserved for shopping in Zhongshan Road in downtown Xiamen where everything from famous foreign and local fashion boutiques, fruit, street food and souvenirs stalls could be found in the many pedestrian malls. Fujian Tulou Since I have been to Xiamen and Gulangyu




(1)Juguang Tower, Kinmen Island; (2)Xiamen cityscape; (3) Xiamen’s Zhongshan Road; (4)Ever Rich duty free shop, Kinmen; (5)Interior of a Fujian Tulou; (6) Gulangyu Island beach with Xiamen City in the background; (7)Performing Hippo, Lingling International Circus, Jimei District, Xiamen. (8)Aug. 23rd Artillery Battle Museum, Kinmen. (9,10,11,12,13) Delectable Fujian cuisine. (14) Sea Worm Jelly is a famous Xiamen delicacy.


To book your Fujian package, contact: Goldlink Travel and Tours, 2/F Siemkang Building, 280 Dasmarinas Street, Binondo, Manila. For inquiries, contact (02) 242-2200, 243-9174, 313-6494, 3103186 to 87, (0917) 898-8098, (0922) 8988333, email or visit




several times before, my most anticipated visit was to Gaobei Village in Yongding County, four hours away from Xiamen, to view its Fujian Tulou cluster—one of 46 Tulou clusters inscribed in UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites. Fujian Tulou is a type of rural defensive dwelling built by the Hakka people to protect their clan from rival non-Hakka neighbors. The Tulou is an earth building, either circular or rectangular in construction, with very thick load-bearing earth walls between three to five storeys high. These fortified abodes could house upwards of 80 families. The Hakka people are a subgroup of the Han Chinese from the Central Plains



of China who were forced to migrate to the South due to political and economic reasons. In Southern China, they were called Hakka, literally “guest families” by the local inhabitants. We went from one building to the next, mesmerized by the enormity of each building and wondered how these simple farmers could erect such colossal structures with only simple tools and, what one would assume, a ton of determination. Although the exterior of the tulou is very plain, the interior is another story. Wooden balconies, terraces and staircases are painstakingly carved with traditional designs


and motifs. Festive lanterns hang in most archways, and tiny courtyards contain potted shrubbery and flowering plants. The rooms display delicate Chinese porcelain, intricately carved furniture and other handmade treasures. Tired from the awesome day, we spent the night not far from the village at a magnificent hot spring hotel. We ended our Fujian journey with another unforgettable meal before flying back to Manila with full stomachs and almost empty wallets. It was worth the trip!

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Caribbean Diary Text and photos by Vernon Prieto

Expat Associate Publisher Vernon Prieto gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to spend ten nights island trotting across Trinidad & Tobago, Sint Maarten, Saint Kitts and Barbuda.

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Last May, I received an e-mail from my dear friend Sister Gertrude Tang Kai, a missionary nun in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It was an invitation to her 60th anniversary as a Sister of Saint Joseph of Cluny. 10 years earlier, I was fortunate to attend her Golden Jubilee celebration, so I was excited to again visit with Sister Gertrude in Trinidad. On my last visit, I had very limited time to explore the enchanting Caribbean region, so on this occasion I booked a cruise to a handful of the world’s most beautiful islands. The region, long referred to as the West Indies (Columbus thought he discovered a new route to India but was actually in the Americas), consists of the Caribbean Sea

and over 7,000 islands, islets, reefs and cays. I narrowed down my travel choices between flying via Amsterdam to Suriname, then on to Trinidad or via Toronto with immediate connection to Trinidad. I decided on the latter itinerary and flew to Toronto on EVA Airlines ultramodern 777 service to Toronto. The aircraft interior was immaculate and tastefully designed and the charming in-flight crew was very professional and competent. The meals were delicious and the business class amenities were delightful. We were provided with comfortable pajamas and slippers and a lovely overnight kit, which was a mini Rimowa suitcase.

No camo in Trinidad & Tobago From Toronto, I boarded a local airline for the six-hour flight to Port of Spain. The first of many surprises occurred when I was stopped as I was bringing my luggage for customs clearance and instructed to proceed to the last counter for inspection. I was told that my luggage is illegal in Trinidad & Tobago because it was sporting a camouflage pattern. I convinced the officer not to confiscate my three-piece luggage set by wrapping my bags in black garbage bags until I could replace the luggage. Warning to travelers to Trinidad and Tobago: Do not bring camouflage clothing or accessories!

Philipsburg, Stint Maarten

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GLOBALVIEW I then took off for Tobago, Trinidad’s little sister island. Tobago got its name from the tobacco cultivated by the original Carib population. Like all the islands in the Caribbean, Tobago was fought over by the super powers of the time. Unlike the other islands, it changed hands between the Dutch, English, Spanish, Swedish and French a total of 33 times, the most in Caribbean history until it was finally ceded to the British in 1814. Tobago’s stunning and remote white sand beaches are the island’s allure. After two lazy, restful days, I flew back to Trinidad, luggage still wrapped in black trash bags. At the hotel, I immediately inquired about available tours. Dissimilar to the other Caribbean islands, Trinidad and Tobago, being the region’s wealthiest and most industrialized nation due to its large reserves and exploitation of oil and natural gas, does not rely on tourism to feed its economy. Thus, finding reliable tour operators and guides can be difficult. The hotel recommended Suzan Gail Mohammed, Managing Director of Gail’s Executive Tour Services, Ltd (GETS). GETS is considered by most to be the most efficient tour company in the island selling a large array of wellplanned itineraries.



Culture feature The following day, I went on a day tour that included visits to some of the island’s must-see attractions. First stop was the fascinating Pitch Lake in La Brea which is one of only three tar lakes in the world. Here, one can bathe in the mineral rich waters that rejuvenate the skin, muscles and joints. We then drove to the center of the island to learn about the nation’s East Indian culture. In the year 1845, the first indentured Indian laborers were brought from India to work on the sugar cane plantations after the abolition of slavery. At present, descendants of these first Indian laborers together with Africans make up the majority of the country’s population. Their contribution to Trinidad & Tobago’s culture is felt, tasted, seen, heard, smelled and experienced by everyone who visits. East Indian cultural sites visited were the Sadhu Temple in the sea, the Caribbean Indo Museum, which is dedicated to preserve the history of the East Indian and South Asians in the region, and the ornate Dattatreya Yoga Center with its imposing 85 feet tall Hanuman Murti statue. We then boarded one of many swamp boats at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Our specialized tour guide pointed out and described all kinds of birds and other animals in this flora and fauna-rich sanctuary. The highlight of the swamp tour was sighting the elusive national bird – the striking Scarlet Ibis. The following day, we drove around the attractive capital city, Port of Spain, where old colonial buildings stand side by side with contemporary edifices. The city was abuzz with festival fever because it was Emancipation Day. Trinidad and Tobago was the first country in the world to declare

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7 5

a national holiday commemorating the end of slavery. The holiday is celebrated with a jovial street parade and cultural fair where Trinbagonians of African ancestry are garbed in colorful traditional costumes. The city’s most famous landmarks are the Magnificent Seven, a group of remarkable eclectic one-of-a-kind mansions located at the northwest corner of the Queen’s Park Savannah - the world’s largest traffic roundabout. These are the Queen’s Royal College - leading secondary school for boys, Hayes Court - residence of the Anglican Bishop, Ambard’s House and Mille Fleurs - private residences, Archbishop Palace residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop, Whitehall and Stollmeyer’s Castle presently part of the Prime Minister’s office. Sint Maarten jet-setting At the end of the tour, I proceeded to Saint Joseph’s Convent to attend the special mass in honor of Sister Gertrude and her companions who were celebrating 50 and 60 years as nuns. After the festivities and a sumptuous lunch, I made my way back to the hotel to prepare for my trip to Sint Maarten to board the cruise ship that would take me to the Caribbean’s more popular Ports of Call. After a stressful and long journey that


could warrant an episode of “The Amazing Race” because I had to change planes three times in three different islands, I finally arrived in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island of Saint Martin (the other side is French) after numerous flight delays. I rushed to the cruise terminal and boarded the ship before sailing to its next port. Unfortunately, I had no time to enjoy the delights of the island but I was able to watch the plane spotters on world famous Maho Beach from my window-seat. This beach is popular because of its proximity to low flying aircraft as they approach for landing at Princess Juliana International Airport. The ship arrived in Saint Kitts the following morning. I disembarked at the vibrant dock housing all kinds of souvenir and duty free shops. I bought a shore excursion that




For Caribbean Cruises and Air Tickets to the Caribbean, contact: Horizon Travel & Tours, Inc. 490 Potenciana Mansion, Santa Monica Street, Ermita, Manila. For inquiries, call (02) 328-3388, (02) 521-2586, email or visit www.


Uni-Orient Travel, Inc. Makati Branch Office G/F 167 Healthcare Building, Legaspi corner Dela Rosa Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati. For inquiries, contact (02) 818-9585 to 89 (0917) 823-0033, (0999) 998-8120, email uniorientmkt@ or visit EVA Airlines 23/F LKG Tower, 6801 Ayala Ave., Makati City. For inquiries, contact (02) 753-1380 to 82, (02) 8841142 (fax), email or visit Founded in March 1989, EVA Air, a one-hundredpercent privately owned Taiwanese airline, is the sister company of Evergreen Marine Corporation. Since the inauguration of its maiden flight on July 1, 1991, EVA Air is currently serving 65 destinations over four continents, except Africa, with 67 aircraft (as of December 2014) and is still steadily expanding its operation network and fleet.




included a train ride on the Scenic Railway to UNESCO listed Brimstone Hill Fortress with a return via Barefoot Catamaran. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway rolls along one of the few remaining operational rail tracks in the Caribbean. Tourists enjoy the many natural island landscapes and ocean views as well as small villages, sugar cane factories and rhum distilleries from the comfort of the train’s comfy cars where amiable locals serve unlimited drinks and snacks. The short ride ended at the foot of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the largest fortress ever built in the Eastern Caribbean. From there, we hopped on a Barefoot Catamaran where tourmates from the ship enjoyed even more complimentary booze. While most of the cruisers opted to spend the most or the rest of the day frolicking in the sandy beaches, I preferred to take an afternoon walk around Basseterre, the capital of Saint Kitts and Nevis. At a small roundabout across the pier is the the Berkely Memorial built in honor a former president of the General Council in the 1880s. The structure has four clock faces and a water fountain. On the right side of the memorial is the Georgian-style Treasury

Building. A short walk away is tree-shaded Independence Square, and across it stands the glorious Roman Catholic co-Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The pleasant stroll in the laidback little town allowed me to shop for local fruits and souvenirs and chat with the residents. That afternoon, we sailed to Barbuda coasting by the islands of Nevis and Dutch-controlled Sint Eustatius.

(1)Basseterre port, St. Kitts; (2)National Academy of the Performing Arts in Port of Spain, Trinidad; (3)(4)(6)(12)Carnival in Saint John’s, Antigua; (5)Hanuman Murti Statue in Dattatreya Yoga Center, Trinidad; (7)Archbishop’s residence-one of the Majestic 7, Trinidad; (8)Berkely Memorial, Basseterre, St. Kitts; (9)Boy chaising the train on Scenic Railway, St. Kitts; (10)Skipper of the Catamaran with Brimstone Hill Fortress in the background (11)Sister Gertrude Tang Kai.

There was so much excitement in the air when we docked in Antigua the next day. It was Carnival time in Antigua! Carnival, which originated in Trinidad is celebrated in most of the islands and the Caribbean coast of South America, the most famous being the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. All carnivals have several common themes based on religion, folklore, culture and tradition. While most carnivals are traditionally held before the Lenten season, the Antiguan Carnival is observed in early August in celebration of the emancipation of slavery in the country. It is a ten-day festival of colorful costumes, beauty pageants, talent shows, and good music. Before the start of the parade, I made a quick stop at the Heritage Quay located on the right side of the pier. The shopping area 12 is where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs, local crafts, duty free luxury items and to return to the ship which was to cruise to clothing. It was a full afternoon of fun and Saint Lucia. revelry as I walked up and down the streets of St. John’s to partake in all the merriment. Saint Lucia, Barbados and Dominica continued in part two of this three-part Caribbean travel As the sun started setting it was time for me series.

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A rare photo of the great lion yawning. One call by our guide to the other guides instantly brought a horde of safari vehicles to the site within minutes.

Giraffes have been known to kill predators with powerful kicks by their hind legs.

Our South African Safari: An Otherworldly Experience Text by Joy Buensalido Photos by Dr. Adrian Buensalido

Expat contributors Joy and Adrian Buensalido chronicle an experience of a lifetime that made for plans of a return trip. The real gems we discovered in South Africa were not the typical glittery “woman’s best friend sort,” but the wild, beautiful animals we encountered and enjoyed as they were freely roaming in their natural habitat and environment. It was quite surreal to be in a place known as “the cradle of humankind,” our biological ancestry, where the human species is theorized to have started. In a sense, we are all Africans. I had no high expectations of what we would see in the safari. The truth is I have never been an avid animal lover unlike my husband, who not only watches the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet with full concentration, but also loves to recount how he made pets of baby mice, snakes and other weird animals when he was a young boy growing up in Roxas City. As for me, I don’t have a natural attraction to animals and I’ve never had a pet. With mixed feelings of apprehension, a sense of adventure, thrill and anticipation, 72 | expat

and just a dash of wonder, Adrian and I and our friend Bong Osorio arrived at the Kruger National Park in the northeast region of South Africa, in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, accompanied by our indefatigable guide Takis Christodoulou who became our driver, tour guide, chef, adviser, scholarly researcher and friend for three whole days. Under his close guidance, he infused us with his genuine love for the park and the animals. “Kruger is the best place in the world for me,” said Takis who’s been going around the park for the past 30 years but has never grown tired of it. “Whenever I enter the gates of Kruger, a calmness comes over me, because I am suddenly in touch with nature and everything is calm and peaceful.” And so with that mantra, Takis expertly guided us inside one of the largest national parks in South Africa: the Kruger National Park, which has an area of about two million hectares or about 20,000 square kilometers. For three days, he immersed us in the park’s raw surroundings where our hearts would skip a beat every time we had sightings of every creature that moved to surprise us, or just stood there seemingly unmindful of our presence. What thrilling and unforgettable sightings

The African elephant. There are approximately 12,000 elephants in the Kruger park.

The zebra and his dazzling black and white stripes.


A pack of wild dogs known to be very intelligent master hunters.

s Our safari group of 4 at Berg en Dal campsite (L-R) Bong Osorio, Adrian & Joy Buensalido & Takis Christodoulou

we had! I started to write a running list of all the animals we would see and here’s what I gathered successively: gazelles, giraffes, warthogs, crocodiles, gray herons, monkeys, zebras, waterbuck, impalas, kudus (the symbol or the logo of the Kruger National Park), the martial eagle, the blue head iguana, the Goliath heron, a “congress” of baboons, brown eagle snake eater, bandit mongoose, and of course, the so-called Big Five, referring to five of the greatest of Africa’s wild animals and the most dangerous to hunt: elephants (lost count), rhinoceros (we had seen a total of 43 by the third day), a sleeping leopard (and another one from a distance) buffalos ( too many to count) and the ever elusive King of them all, the lion (not one, but a pride of nine lions which we were lucky to see on our third and last day). It’s difficult to describe the feeling one gets when each mammal or bird appears several meters away. We used to only see them in books, or on television, or behind their confining cages in the zoos. But now they loomed before us larger than life, so to speak… a clan of hyenas, the very vocal gang of buffalos, a bloat of often submerged hippos whose nostrils were often the only visible part above water, a pack of wild dogs known to be very intelligent master hunters, the “ugly” yet captivating wildebeest, a congress of baboons, and a dazzle of zebras.

A sounder of warthogs, whose expertise is finding rootcrops by digging. They can be ferocious when their young is threatened.

The great kudu as this species is known as one of the biggest antelopes. Their horns are often made into musical instruments

The rhino is one of the Big Five in the reserve, weighing up to 5,000 pounds – virtually a lumbering armored truck.

We found the lion with fresh blood on his face resting after devouring an adult buffalo he and his companions must have killed the night before.

This was God’s magnificent canvas on earth laid out before us. While this trip was a first for us, we hope to return sometime soon to the heart of Africa where we have barely scratched the surface. Imagine this, Takis has been going to Kruger for 30 years, yet he still has not been able to see all of its animals and birds, which approximately have been listed as follows: 147 mammal species, 507 bird species, 114 reptile species over 49 fish species, 34 amphibians species, 227 butterfly species and 336 tree species. This safari has definitely been an out-of-thisworld experience for us!

The great kudu, a magnificent beast is a favorite catch of the bushmen for their hide and beautiful horns.

We found this sleeping leopard by the roadside.

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The breathtakingly beautiful Purah Tanah Lot, “Land in the Sea,” Temple was built in the 16-th Century by a Hindu priest from Java, and by the people of Tabanan to honor the Balinese sea deity.

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Indonesia’s Indelible Imprint Text by Angie Duarte Photos by Chris Gallegos

With more than 17,000 islands brimming over with beauty, wonderful Indonesia fills your soul with wonderment and leaves you longing for more!

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We arrived back in Manila on the redeye from Kuala Lumpur, en route from Bali, Indonesia, after several hours spent in transit. The lengthy journey (ironically, from a near enough destination) capped an adventure-packed assignment: 10 days, by gracious invitation of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, of trekking across one of the world’s most amazing archipelagos. Grueling and gratifying – in almost equal measure – our bodies were utterly spent, but our souls, immensely full. Malang’s many moods The hill town of Malang, 90-kilometers south of Surabaya, in the region of East Java, was our first stop on this exciting escapade into the vast and diverse land between Asia and Australia. We flew in from Jakarta (having missed out on the day’s activities in the capital city, thanks to a delayed connecting flight) to the center of the Old Kingdom. Trees heavy with bright yellow flowers traversed the length of byways dotted with quaint resorts, bed-and-breakfasts, and several fruit stands. Our expert guide, Ari Wibowo, explained that Malang has become renowned for its burgeoning tourism industry (for foreigners and locals, alike); hence, the proliferation of holiday hideaways. Fruit farming is likewise an economic anchor, as we experienced firsthand on our visit to the lush apel (apple) and jambu (guava) plantations at the Kusuma Agrowisata Resort in Batu. Malang is remote and rustic, yet also marked by modernity: hillside charm stands in contrast with several newly-constructed edifices, such as the impressive Museum Angkut + Movie Star Studio built in March 2014 by the Jawa Timur Park Group. Imagine approximately 1.5 hectares of space filled with every form of transport conceivable – from antiquated rickshaws to handsome vintage cars and other modern modes of moving around – set against impressively designed mock-ups of cosmopolitan city centers. Keep your eyes 76 | expat

out for famous celebrities and personalities, too; albeit, in wax form! Terrific Tengger Without doubt, however, the highlight of our trip to Malang was the climb up majestic Mount Bromo in the Tengger region, outside Malang’s city limits. We spent the night at charming Bromo Cottages (from which the view of the surrounding mountainous areas is indeed breathtaking!) in preparation for the predawn journey. Having been warned that temperatures could drop to as low 5°C, I layered jacket upon hoodie upon longsleeved cardigan, donned army boots, a beanie and scarf – and was still cold! At 2 a.m., our group headed out to the sunrise view point in part via trusty 4x4 jeeps and then on foot. A quick stop along the way for a cup of hot Javanese coffee and a snack of freshly deep fried ketela goreng (battered sweet plantains) and pisang goreng (battered sweet potato slices) proved a welcome respite; the heat from the food and drink, as well as the warmth within that cozy little mountainside eatery, warming us from the biting cold. After the much needed recharge, it was time to trek


(Clockwise from bottom, opposite page) A dancer at the Banyuwangi Ethno Carnival 2015, in elaborate cultural garb; the climb up to Mount Bromo’s peak, on foot and on horseback; Mount Bromo’s rugged majesty; Museum Angkut and part of its astounding collection of modes of transport; traditional Javanese dances showcased at Banyunwangi’s Ethno Carnival; paradisiacal Pantai Pulau Merah, the Red Island; spectacular sunset at Tanah Lot; Javanese dancers at Mr. Iawan’s coffee and cultural village in Kemiren.

a bit further up to the deck. There, at the pavilion, a diverse cross-section of humanity huddled together to watch the the sun slowly creep from behind a blackened sky; its first rays painting the horizon a glorious palette of pinks, yellows, and oranges, heralding hope and a new day. The experience was mystical, magical, and marvelous; one that I can now happily check off my own personal bucket list. Later that morning, back on the jeeps, we ventured out to the Sand Sea and crossed the dusty expanse of earth on horseback. The flimsy face masks we wore barely

held up against the arid, airborne grit, yet I couldn’t help but gasp at the stunning, surreal sight of it all. We rode past the Pura Luhur Poten-the Hindu Poten Temple-to the bottom of centuries-old steep and narrow steps (totaling around 257), and walked rather gingerly, up to the peak and crater of the mountain. Sulfuric smoke billowed from the mouth of the active volcano and assaulted my nostrils through the mask, but I paid not much heed. There – 2,329 meters above sea level, with a bird’s-eye view of the rugged and rough, yet majestic panorama – I was thankful to simply be part of the proverbial, often poetic and poignant circle of life. Booming, bountiful Banyunwangi Driving through the city of Banyuwangi (next on the agenda) on the easternmost tip of Java, it is easy to see the hallmarks of a bustling boomtown: small shops (from car repair to jewelry services to food and apparel and just about everything else, in between) line busy streets. This naturally picturesque and ethnically diverse destination takes pride in its strong sense of identity and cultural heritage; the pillars of a solid thrust towards economic growth.

Such unity in diversity was showcased at the Ethno Carnival 2015, just one of the city’s many festivals – 38, in all! To point out the obvious, the folk of Banyuwangi certainly know how to revel in their culture. By invitation of the city’s mayor, Abdullah Azwar Anas, our media delegation attended the carnival, themed the Usingese Royal Wedding; an extravaganza of color, elaborate ethnic costumes, and enthralling dances. Undoubtedly, one of Banyunwangi’s gems is the tropical island paradise of Pantai Pulau Merah, the Red Island. Hailed as “the new Bali,” this stretch of white sand beach and crystalline waters-once barely accessible by road-has become a must-see place for its glorious sunsets, which cast a red glow on the solitary island rock. Pulau Merah has also quickly gained popularity as a favorite surf spot, especially for those just getting into the sport, on account of its 5 to 7 meter swells. On the beach, in the cool of the straw-and-bamboo restaurant, we lunched on juicy, fresh grilled ikan kakap (a kind of local fish), as we watched the white-capped waves roll in and listened to the ocean roar. What bliss. expat | 77


Be a savvy traveler, when in Indonesia, with these helpful tips: l

Sunscreen is a must, as is mosquito repellent Be diligent to apply both.


Stay hydrated!


That Bali high Bali was the last leg of our up-closeand personal encounter with “Wonderful Indonesia” (the country’s current tourism campaign). We bade Banyuwangi bye-bye and flew for 45 minutes to what is likely Indonesia’s most famed tourist haunt, with a yearly influx of well over 3 million visitors. Like a beautiful contradiction, Bali possesses both a deep sense of stalwart spirituality and a heady, vibrant sensuality; clothed in a rich artistic and cultural heritage. This combination is quite possibly what makes Bali so uniquely, utterly addictive and is leaves you in a state akin to a euphoric high. Such profound sense of spiritually imbued artistry is expressed in many forms: beautifully crafted wood, stone and metal work, exquisite weaving, masterful paintings, and theatrical dances (such as the mesmerizing Kecak Dance), among others. The Ubud District (Kecamatan Ubud) in the Gianyar Regency is perhaps the best showcase of Balinese art. A visit to this area mandates a stop at the Blanco Renaissance Museum, the 18th Century Ubud Palace, as well as the Ubud Traditional Art Market (two words of warning, the latter is a shopper’s haven, and requires a full day, to browse through its countless stalls; also, bargaining is an expected part of the shopping experience!) As far as temples go, Purah Tanah Lot (literally, “Land in the Sea”) or Tanah Lot Temple is among the most remarkable ancient structures of worship. This 16th century temple built atop an island rock in the sea is integral to Balinese mythology, in honor of Dewa Baruna or Bhatara Segara, the sea deity. A sense of sublime mysticism, along with postcard-perfect views, greeted us as we walked down moss-covered rocks to the stony shrine. Bali is not only a haven for the artsy, culturally inclined set, but also for lovers of sporty fun in the sun: surfing, sailing, scuba diving and more are all the rage on this island getaway. The Ayung River, 78 | expat

If trekking up Mount Bromo or any other of Indonesia’s many active volcanoes, be prepared for the drop in temperature. Also, go with a knowledgeable and experienced guide!


Indonesians love snacks! Dried fruit chips, deep fried chips made from root crops, and fermented soy bean chips (known as tempe) are a must-try.


Best place to have a cup-of-java? IN JAVA! Don’t miss out on Javanese Arabica, especially if you have the chance to visit Mr. Iawan’s coffee and cultural village in Kemiren, on the outskirts of Banyuwangi


Shopping can be both daunting and delightful – be prepared to haggle your way with often aggressive vendors; see it as part of the fun. A good tip would be to ask for half-off the price, and haggle from there. Or, go to a shop advertising fixed prices, if you’d rather skip the haggling harries.

(Clockwise from bottom) Mario Blanco, artist and son of renowned painter, Antonio Blanco, at the Blanco Renaissance Museum in Ubud, Bali; the intricately carved 18th Century Ubud Palace in Bali; performers pose for photos after the intense, ritual Kecak Dance at the Lake-Leke Restaurant in Ubud; arts and crafts for sale at the Ubud Traditional Art Market.

with its proliferation of whitewater rafting operators, is the go-to place for a rollicking ride down the rapids. My initial trepidation was quickly replaced by utter amazement, as we paddled and careened down river, through nature’s scenic canopy of lush flora, gorgeous gorges, religious murals carved into rock formations, rickety suspension bridges, sand mines, and luxurious lodge retreats. Around, across, and about the East Indies in 10 days: I admit, I initially balked at the thought; daunted by the length of the trip and the hectic itinerary. But, without doubt, Indonesia has left Her indelible, undeniable imprint upon my soul, and I am all the better for it. Plus, as it turns out, none the worse for the wear.



Photo from tookapic

In the next pages, read up on our list of the bazaars that’ll definitely take care of your Christmas shopping list; check out some brilliant and unique gift ideas; and while there may be no way around the ‘carmageddon’ brought about by holiday season in Metro Manila, we offer you a few tips that could save you from turning mad before the year ends.


HOLIDAY BAZAARS A rundown of places for your yuletide shopping. Compiled by Via Baroma

Noel Christmas Bazaar 2015 Nov. 26 to 30 and Dec. 18 to 20

Yuchengco Museum Courtyard, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. cor. Gil Puyat, Makati. For more information, call (0929) 770-3706 / (0922) 650-2179 / (0905) 191-8287 / (02) 886-9643

The 49th International Bazaar 2015 Nov. 29

Autumn Market Bazaar is perfect for everyone who wants to shop after work for a breather. Located at the heart of Makati’s Central Business District, the bazaar is open on weekdays, starting at 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Circuit Makati Bazaar 2015

Nov. 27, 28 and 29 Globe Circuit Event Grounds, A.P. Reyes Avenue and Hippodromo Street, Carmona, Makati.

World Trade Center, Gil Puyat Ave. ext. cor. Diosdado Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City. Dec. 18, 19 and 20, SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia complex, Pasay City. For more information, call (02) 687-0654 or (02) 687-2955.

Now on its 2nd year, the Circuit Makati Bazaar is back to bring a much awaited three-day sale event. After bringing in retail brands last year, Circuit Makati Bazaar is taking it up a notch by bringing a mix of high-end and lifestyle brands. The bazaar is open from 6 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Bazaar For All Seasons Nov. 27 to 29

Noel Bazaar, known as the one-stop shop for the holiday season, keeps to its commitment to giving folks the absolute best Christmas shopping experience they deserve. It will be featuring a wide range of concessionaires from fashion and beauty items, home decors, food, novelties, Christmas trimmings and other unique affordable gift items for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.

One of the biggest and most diverse holiday bazaars, the International Bazaar is an annual undertaking by the International Bazaar Foundation Inc., (IBF), Ladies of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Spouses of Heads of Mission (SHOM) and members of the diplomatic corps. This year’s International Bazaar is an opportunity for shoppers to buy unique and authentic products from various places around the world in a onestop-shop. The bazaar is open to shoppers from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are avaliable for PhP100 while raffle tickets are PhP200 at Tesoro’s outlets in Arnaiz Avenue, Makati and Mabini St., Ermita Manila.

Christmas Bazaar di Evia

Autumn Market Bazaar

Dec. 4 to 6 Evia Lifestyle Center, Daang Hari, Las Pinas. For more information, contact (02) 2384782, (0999) 887-3019, or visit www.

Nov. 23 to 27 and Dec. 1 to 18

Elements Tent Eton Centris, EDSA corner Quezon Ave., Quezon City. For more information, call (0915) 341-3560 / (0905) 562-2327. Celebrate the Christmas spirit with the 3rd anniversary and holiday event of Bazaar For All Seasons on Nov. 27 to 29. Dive into the mix of the most sought after brands, online shops, new breed of entrepreneurs, celebrity entrepreneurs and top influential bloggers.

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PICC Forum, CCP Complex, Pasay City. For more information, call (02) 833-1320.

Part of Vista Malls’ invitation to celebrate the holiday season with a slew of vibrant events, Christmas Bazaar di Evia at the Evia Lifestyle Center in Las Pinas gathers entrepreneurs offering everything from fashion items (clothes, footwear, accessories and cosmetics) and unique gift items, to food and home ware. Other events tied up with the bazaar include Christmas tree lightings, firework displays, acoustic performances and chorale competitions, as well as film showings.


Passionfly Pocket Bazaar By Karl Edward International Dec. 20 Mayuree Ballroom, Dusit Hotel Makati, Epifanio de los Santos Ave., Makati City

World Bazaar Festival 2015

Dec. 4 to 21 World Trade Center Manila, 2/F WTCMM Bldg., Gil Puyat Avenue Extension cor., Diosdado Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City; for more information, call (02) 656-9239.

The Great Deals @ the Tend Bazaar of Karl Edward International at the Acacia Tent, Acacia Estates is set to offer interesting products that promise to tickle your fancy. Indulge in a slew of goodies from the different merchant selections.

Passionfly is a unique festival that features the trendiest online retail products from online entrepreneurs, celebrities and bloggers. Passionfly Pocket Festivals, organized by Karl Edward International, highlight interesting products from startup companies, creative leaders and entrepreneurs all across Manila. Bazaar starts at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Christmas Saya 2015 Bazaar

Ongoing until January 17, 2016 Riverbanks Center, Barangka, Marikina City

Trendsetter’s Bazaar 2015

Dec. 12, 13, 14 and 15 Metro Tent Convention Center, Metro Walk Meralco Ave., Pasig City; for more information, call (0917) 8279260.

With an overwhelming number of more than 600 exhibiting companies and 230,000 shoppers strolling around 700 booths, sponsored by various leading names of the local market, World Bazaar Festival is the grandest shopping experience of the holidays. World Bazaar Festival, apart from holding the title as the longest running annual charity bazaar and being the largest shopping harbor in the country, is a great stop to find business opportunities too, as numerous product manufacturers and distributors are just few steps away. Bazaar starts at 12 noon to 10 p.m. on Mondays to Thursdays; and 10 a.m. to 12 MN on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Great Deals @ the Tend Bazaar of Karl Edward International Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13 Acacia Avenue, Taguig City

With over 300 participating brands including the likes of Keds, Sperry Top Sider and I Love Koi offering discounts at up to 70 percent off, you’ll surely find something worth getting at the Trendsetter Team Holiday Bazaar.

Be part of Marikina’s biggest annual bazaar. With 400 stalls, Christmas Saya 2015 Bazaar promises to bring more fun for holiday shoppers. Set for 109 days of bazaar shopping, you can shop for great finds until well after the holiday season. Bazaar starts from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Sundays to Thursdays; and 2 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Saturdays and holidays.

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Deck the Halls with Bows and Howling Holiday gift ideas for pets and pet lovers Text by Ching Dee

Pets! They’re the gift that keeps on giving even years after you’ve gotten them. As a new pet owner, this writer believes in the stress-relieving powers of our little—or big—buddies. And they do deserve the best, but so do the humans who selflessly take care of them. So, this coming holiday season, here are a few gift suggestions for that pet lover in your life who just can’t seem to get enough of their furry playmates. Gift certificate for pet grooming & other services As a new and proud dog owner, I have recently become aware of the costs of raising a dog. I understand these costs are minimal when compared to the joy and fulfillment these furry little buddies bring to our lives, but pet grooming isn’t free. In fact, it might actually cost more than—err— human grooming services. So this holiday season, why not give that pet lover in your life a gift certificate for pet grooming services? And don’t forget about veterinary services and even obedience school. It’s a 82 | expat

thoughtful gift from both human and pet— two birds with one stone. u Budget: PhP400 to PhP1,500 (depending on the extent of services and store)

A framed photo of pet-loving human and their pet/s Photographs are our way of augmenting our very limited human memory. So why not turn a photograph into something even more special? All you need to do is stalk—scan— their social media page, find an adorable photo to print, buy a cute picture frame, and you’re good to go! Thoughtful and affordable. High five! u

Budget: At least PhP200

Personalized anything You could practically personalize anything and be the best gift-giver ever. For the pet, perhaps a personalized collar, leash, feeding bowl, or even a tiny shirt (a dog wearing a tiny personalized shirt—could you imagine the cuteness?!). For the human, a personalized shirt would also work, or

a tote bag, or even a sign to put in their home/apartment. I don’t know about you, but anything with my dog’s face on it will definitely be a hit for the holidays. u

Budget: No more than PhP500

Travel kit for pets Just like any member of the family, we love traveling with our pets—especially during the holidays. So why not make the trip a bit easier for your favorite pet lover by giving them a pet travel kit? Include a portable or foldable dog mattress (a.k.a. a small piece of foam *wink*), a pack or two of doggie/ kitty diapers, a pack of wet wipes, a portable feeding bowl and drinking bottle, and maybe a chew toy or two. u

Budget: At least PhP1,400

Care package for pets Taking care of pets is not just a hobby; it changes your lifestyle for good. This year, why not give your favorite pet owner a pet care package? You can give them dog or cat food, kitty litter, small toys for their pets,

HOLIDAYHACKS (opposite page)DOG LEASH ­stock. via; (left) Dog Bed (photo by Ira Lee Nesbitt); (down)PET GROOMING ­kaboompics. com via;(bottom)PET TRAVEL ­Andrew Pons / Unsplash

Turmeric is a natural antiseptic while VCO has natural anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties. u

maybe rolls of kitchen towels for “accidents” around the house. It would be best to add your own personal touch and customize each care package to suit their needs. It’s all about the details, guys. u

Budget: At least PhP1,000

Dog/cat bed Contrary to popular belief, dog/cat beds aren’t that expensive, yet many pet owners choose to let their beloved pets sleep on the floor like some kind of, well, animal. So do a quick search on online shopping sites or even just visit the mall and purchase a dog/ cat bed for the holidays. Their (or your) pets deserve the TLC. u Budget: At least PhP350 (online shop price)

Potty training mat Yes, we did our research, and we have a substantial amount of testimonials saying that these potty training mats actually work. It looks like a tray with a mesh top lined with something that looks like grass. Pets—mostly dogs in the testimonials—somehow find this grassy top more conducive for “doing

business.” So say goodbye to “accidents” on the floor and say hello to this potty trainer mat. u

Budget: At least PhP499 (mall price)

Food and water dispenser For those who leave their pets at home, you know you can’t just leave their food sitting out there the whole day when you’re out. So a reliable pet food and water dispenser might be a good solution. u

Budget: At least PhP799

‘Flea Fly Fall’ herbal soap and Turmeric Balm with VCO (virgin coconut oil) Our furbabies are quite sensitive when it comes to cleansing products, but what are you to do when your pet has fleas? One solution, ‘Flea Fly Fall’ herbal soap from Aimee’s Soaps uses 100 percent natural ingredients, so pet owners don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into their pet’s skin. It’s all natural and gentle, so it’s also good for puppies. And if you pet has cuts or scrapes or any minor skin irritation due to itching and scratching, check out their Turmeric Balm with VCO.

Budget: PhP80 to PhP120

Tracking collar with corresponding app Pets love roaming around and sometimes we can’t even find them in our own home (you sneaky bugger) and one of our biggest fears as pet owners is losing our little furry babies. Thanks to technology, there are now tracking devices for pets. Most are designed as collars and often comes with a corresponding smartphone application so you can keep track of your pet’s whereabouts. This author haven’t seen them available in stores just yet, but there are a few available online. The most popular ones are ‘Tagg Pett Tracker’ and the ‘Whistle GPS Pet Tracker.’ u

Budget: Around PhP3,500

Best spots for pet gift shopping: Hobbes and Landes Petropolis Bonifacio High Street Tiendesitas Pet Village Ortigas Avenue cor. C5, Pasig City Aimee’s Soaps aimeepremiumsoaps (0917) 312-7869 Petropolitan Manila 419 Tabayog St. Brgy. Malamig, Mandaluyong City Bow & Wow Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City Greenbelt 5, Makati City Better Dog Canine Behavior Center Karrivin Plaza, Building C, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City (02) 886-5918 / (0917) 533-5675

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Beyond Wrappers and Bows Text by Angie Duarte Photos from Viktor Hanacek

Don’t let the season’s stress steal your cheer. Here are some helpful hints (and a bit of holiday history) to put the merry into your christmas! Christmas. Definitely among the most celebrated, most revered of holidays. A season marked by brightly-lit streets, bespangled trees, broken diets, nostalgic carols, and all of that warm, fuzzy-in-yourtummy goodness normally associated with the most wonderful time of the year. It is also, however, a season of frazzled and fried nerves. Many people end up strung as highly as the twinkling lights atop their nine-foot polyvinyl chloride Christmas tree. It is the time of year that gift lists are as seemingly endless as the lines at mall 84 | expat

check-out counters, and the astounding crush of people is rivaled only by the volume of cars inching their way in bumper-to-bumper traffic on city roads. Stress and joy abound in equal measure; and scales are tipped either way, depending on such factors as time and money. Yes, sanity groans under the weight of Christmas shopping; especially for those of us with crazy schedules, limited time, and an even more limited budget. This, dear readers, is the evil trifecta that besets many a hapless (and often helpless) Christmas shopper. It is no wonder that many have opted out of the Christmas shopping frenzy; choosing instead to share a movie, meal, or some sort of memorable moment with friends and family. Those of us still in the gift-giving way, however need not despair. There are tips we can take to make the task a little less hairraising. But first, a few facts about the Christmas ribbon-and-wrapper ripping ritual.

Fit for a King

The tradition of gift-giving goes back to a time long, long ago, in a manger far, far away. As the story foes, Jesus was born, and he was God’s gift to humanity. Three Wise Men traveled from distant lands to pay homage to Christ the child. Okay, so scholars contest if Jesus was, in fact, still in the manger when the Magi arrived, but lest we ruin many-a Nativity Scene, let’s stick with the general consensus. The Three Kings – Wise Men, Magi; they go by several names – brought baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Three valuable and symbolic gifts, to signify Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection; but that message is more suited to Easter. Many cultures, especially in Europe, still celebrate the traditional date of the Magi’s arrival – usually the first Sunday after Christmas – with the exchanging of gifts. It is quite ironic that the very roots of the giftgiving tradition – meant to remind us of the gift, the promise and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – have snowballed into a commercial frenzy. Just a bit of food for thought.


kPut a lid on it Your list does NOT have to include your cousin’s cousin, thrice removed. Keep your list within your circle of family and close friends. Do not get sucked in by the retail vacuum of a commercialized Christmas. Please. kStart early! Easier said than done, but definitely a time and money saver. Keep an eye out for presents as early as August, if you can. This enables you, as well, to get gifts that are less generic and more suited to the recipient. Also, keep track of your list, as you progress with your shopping. Tick items off, along the way. kLet your fingers do the shopping Or at least, the preliminary research. Use your online resources to check out what your options are. This not only gives you a better idea of what’s out there, it will also help you budget your time and money more efficiently.

From Saturn to Santa

Aside from the Magi and their presentation of presents, gift-giving is also traced back to the days of ancient Rome – in dire contrast with Christian roots – and the trading of gifts during the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Celebrated from the 17th to the 23rdof December, festivities were held in honor of Saturn, the Roman deity of agriculture. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, followed by a public banquet, and private gift-giving. St. Nicholas, Saint Nick, Saint Niklaus, or – more popularly – Santa is likewise heavily associated with Christmas and gifts. This began in the 13th century, when French nuns would distribute presents to the poor on St. Nicholas’ Eve, which falls on the 5th of December. It was not until late 18th century, however, that the gift-giving tradition took centerstage, when retail establishments got smart and decided to go full-force with the giftpitch. Stores began placing Christmas ads in papers as early as the 1820’s and Santa somehow became the focal point of the holiday

Goodbye, Grinch

History lesson aside, time for some handy tips to spare the stress, save your sanity, and help you kiss the Grinch goodbye (admit it; we all turn into a Grinch, at some point of the season): kMake a list And yes, check it twice. Organize your list to include names, age, and preference or personality type. For instance, a person who is more techie in nature would probably go gaga over a geeky gift or gadget. It goes without saying that the type of gadget would depend on the age of the recipient, as well.

Some nifty gift ideas for the foodie, geeky, sporty, fashionforward, and craft-y people in your life: Practical gifts (good for no-nonsense, no -frills type people): Cookie assortment, bottle of wine, coffee; Self-help / inspirational books, point-and-shoot camera, classic pen; a nice scarf, gift cheques from favorite clothes shop; shirt of favorite team; stationery set, scrapbook Creative gifts (perfect for free-spirits, children, edgiertype people): Personalized food items, personalized entertainment accessories; Puzzles, board games, toys that stimulate creativity; Funky jewelry, statement tee-shirts, one-of-a-kind fashion accessory; personalized sports jersey; Wooden toys, handmade presents. Romantic gifts (great for your spouse or special someone):“Voucher” to redeem dinner for two, artisanal chocolate; music player loaded with favorite playlist, headphone splitter, poetry books, plush toy; tickets to favorite team’s game; beaded purse, engraved cuff links; tickets to a stage play or musical, vintage jewelry or trinkets. On-trend gifts Designer kitchen gadgets, Flavored wine; latest gadgets, instant developing camera and film; edgy fashion pieces; sports gadgets; latest craft or DIY craze, box of tools.

kTake advantage of sales If you start early, then the crowds at sales will be nowhere near as crazy as the week or two before Christmas. kD.I.Y. Hand-crafted gifts are packed full of meaning, and are a touch more special than store-bought presents. kDON’T go for broke Stick to your budget. One of the biggest pressures of Christmas is on the purse. Do not spend what you don’t have, and end up with a post-holiday mountain of credit card debt. kSet a time limit If you do find yourself caught in the lastminute craze, determine how much time you really need to stay in the store, and try to stick with it. The less you have to deal with the mad rush, the better. kGreen is not just a Christmas color When wrapping your presents, remember to be as green as you can. Use recycled wrappers (the funnies of your daily paper are not only colorful, they are also ecofriendly), or simply tie a bio-degradable bow around the item. Think of the tons of paper, tinsel, and bows that go to waste each Christmas: Definitely not a “Ho-ho” matter. kGive love on Christmas Day Lastly (perhaps this should be firstly), remember that the gift is secondary, the love, primary in importance.

Bottom line

The bottom line is quite simple, really. So simple, it almost seems absurd, to some. Refuse to let the trappings of Christmas rob you of your peace and joy. After all, the true essence of the Yuletide Season lies beyond wrappers and bows. Way, way beyond it. expat | 85


Kultura Launches Magara Shop-In-Shop Concept

Kultura, leading purveyor of Filipino artistry and craftsmanship, recently launched Magara, a premium artisanal shop-inshop at its SM Makati boutique. Magara highlights luxe fashion like exquisitely handwoven piña tops by Crafts for a Cause’s Rurungan sa Tubod Foundation; hand-knotted necklaces with baroque pearls and other indigenous materials from Joyce Orena’s Transformer collection; new statement jewelry with semi-precious stones from Tim Tam Ong; and elegant shell clutches and minaudieres from Cebu. It will also carry beautiful accents for the home: curtain tassels and lamps made with indigenous materials like shell, mother of pearl, and ostrich eggs. Home accessories have a local touch in premium handmade abel iloko by Balay ni Atong; and shell and decorative boxes from Eve Pek.

Carahorn with semiprecious stones earrings by Tim Tam Ong

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The launch also served as a fund raising event for the benefit of Kultura’s Crafts for a Cause member foundations. This special fund raiser will highlight uniquely Filipino pieces from: Antique Atelier by Adante Leyesa, Amina Aranaz, Carissa Cruz – Evangelista, Emi Jorge, Eric Paras, Jun Delingon, Joyce

Bangles and bracelets made of carahorn and semi-precious stones by Tim Tam Ong for Kultura’s MAGARA corner.

Oreña, Malou Romero, Natalya Lagdameo, Silnag x Enida Danao, Techie Hagedorn, Tony Gonzales, Rain by Tim Tam Ong, and Tina Lirag. All proceeds from the designer pieces will go to the foundations, along with the portion of Kultura’s entire day’s sales. Crafts for a Cause is Kultura’s advocacy program that has opened up opportunities to sustain and expand livelihood programs, resulting in increased productivity and income. Each group works with the urban poor and marginalized sectors from as far north as the Cordilleras to as far south as Basilan, with funds going into livelihood programs, education and community development. Continue the support towards Crafts for a Cause foundations through purchasing the remaining designer pieces available at the Magara corner in Kultura, SM Makati. Magara is located inside Kultura at the 2nd level of SM Makati. Other Kultura stores are located at SM Aura Premier, SM Megamall, the SM Mall of Asia, SM Lanang Premier, and SM City Cebu. For more information, visit


Elegant pen shell box from MAGARA at Kultura

Blacktab shell box with mother-of-pearl accents from MAGARA at Kultura

Rosegold coral and ostrich egg base candleholder from MAGARA at Kultura

Black lip shell jewelry box

Carahorn with pearl rings by Tim Tam Ong for MAGARA at Kultura

Tahiti shell box from MAGARA at Kultura Elegant shell box from Kultura

Carahorn earrings with semi-precious stones by Tim Tam Ong

This black shell tray is perfect for home entertaining

Dangling semi-precious stone earrings by Tim Tam Ong

Abalone shell box from MAGARA at Kultura

Tassel table lamp from MAGARA at Kultura

Shell tray from Kultura

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Coloring Stress Away


Text by Timothy Jay Ibay Photos courtesy of Paola Santiago-Clarito

There’s a meme somewhere on the Interwebs subtly poking fun at 2015 as the period in humanity where small children have smartphones, while adults have coloring books. Expat got in touch with artist and adult coloring book creator Paola Santiago-Clarito to get a glimpse into how the world got turned on its head with this trend, while also getting more insight on this great gift idea.

Definitely fueled by social media and certainly having its merits as a therapeutic means to de-stress, the adult coloring book trend continues to ride its wave of popularity as 2015 comes to a close. Adrienne Raphael of The New Yorker deems the trend “part of a larger and more pervasive fashion among adults for childhood objects and experiences.” Self-taught artist, Physical Therapy graduate, mom and adult coloring book “Nostos” creator Paola SantiagoClarito agrees.


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“I think we all enjoyed coloring books back when we were kids, so by indulging in adult coloring books, it brings us back to our

carefree, happy childhood days,” SantiagoClarito shares, whose book “Nostos” (from the word “nostalgia”) is a tribute to how millenials yearn for the liberating feeling of youth amidst the madding pace of the daily grind. “It has become a form of release for us. It affords us the chance to relive our happy childhood memories and helps us set aside our worries, even if only for a moment.” Such was certainly the case for SantiagoClarito, who recalls turning into painting and drawing as her de-stressing ritual. “No matter how tired my day was, I was able to de-stress and relax when I had my own quiet moments drawing or painting,” she shares. “I guess it’s the same for people who are into coloring. When they channel their energy into it, they get that quiet space to clear their minds of worries and stress.” Expounding, “You sort of get into a zone and tunnel vision where your focus is on the intricate patterns and details of the work you’re coloring. You free your mind from things that are outside of that bubble of serenity and peace you have created for yourself.”




(1)Commissioned Owl artwork using ink, colored pencils, and water color; (2) Colored page from Nostos; (3) A preview of Paola’s next coloring book, Nostos 2, which will be released soon; (4) Cover page of Nostos; (5)Paola working on the pages for Nostos 2; (6) Paola’s handmade 3D wall art. Butterfly cut-outs individually stitched on stretched canvas; (7) “Stained Glass”,acrylic painting on canvas.

It’s interesting how Santiago-Clarito, a University of Sto. Tomas Physical Therapy graduate wound up providing therapy of a different sort, lending the soothing effects of art to the rest of the world. The art autodidact, whose work ranges from graphite sketches and ink doodles to acrylic and oil paintings, shunned the confines of hospital walls for the emancipating world of the arts, and began to take her craft more seriously when she stepped into the totally un-stressful role of motherhood in what is perhaps a living testament to the calming payoff of the practice. But be it a case of nostalgia, or a yearning for an outlet to relieve stress, adult coloring books have certainly emerged as a brilliant gift idea this coming holiday season. For more information on Santiago-Clarito, her other works, “Nostos” and its availability, visit /paolasantiagoclarito and You can also view some of her works on Instagram @ paolasantiagoclarito. 7

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Get to know the groups and people serving as bastions of animal welfare, and find out how you can play a part.

FOR PETs’ SAKE Photo by Matthew Wiebe



Compassion: A Call to Action Text by Richard Ramos Photos courtesy of CARA

Read up on CARA – a group championing care and responsibility for animals in the Philippines.

While some of the homeless and squatters in the urban jungle still receive some scant support from charitable and government agencies, hardly anyone takes notice of the stray animals that roam the metropolis. These poor creatures are quite vulnerable to such hazards as moving vehicles, untidy surroundings, cruel bystanders, and inclement weather. Even if the wear and tear signs on their bodies are quite obvious, the most they merit from the passer-by is a disgusted glance or a fleeting sympathetic thought. 3

Fortunately, there exists a certain organization that does its best to look after the welfare of these helpless creatures. Concerned animal lovers (including a good number of expats) formed CARA, (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) Welfare Philippines in 2000. As a nonprofit, non-government organization manned entirely by volunteers, CARA initially spearheaded low-cost spaying and neuter services of stray animals to minimize their presence in the city and lower the incidence of rabies, animal bites and such. Later on, CARA managed to expand its services to include advocacy, rehabilitation, and even awareness programs for the community. “CARA Welfare Philippines came into fruition because a group of like-minded individuals, who felt that there was a need for an animal welfare group in the Philippines who would focus on providing low-cost or free spay/neuter services,” shares CARA volunteer Tanya Guerrero, who became part of the movement in 2008. “It was clear to them that the overpopulation of stray cats and dogs as well as owned pets was a crisis that would only worsen with time. That is basically how the organization got started. With time, the group branched out into rescues, education, adoption, among others.” And the work, as Guerrero found, has been deeply rewarding.

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“To me the most gratifying thing about the work I do is seeing the outcome of our efforts in our Trap Neuter Return program, where we catch stray cats, spay/neuter them, and after recovery we return them to the neighborhood where they come from,” she tells Expat. “Seeing our rescued cats and dogs rehabilitated and adopted into loving homes has fueled my desire to do more for abused and abandoned animals. Over the years, I have kept in touch with most of our adopters and it's been a source of inspiration to me to see how much the cat has transformed since being rescued. I want to encourage more and more Filipino families to adopt rescues instead of buying from pet shops and breeders. I hope that through the work we do, adoption will eventually become the norm in the Philippines.”


While their Trap Neuter release program remains the main focus of the group, part of the group’s growth in their 15 years of existence now includes what is dubbed the Laguna Pit Bulls – a group of 135 pit bulls in CARA’s sanctuary, which were rescued from an illegal dog fighting syndicate.


“We also consider the affordable vet care through our clinic as an important service to the community as many private clinics are way too expensive for the average Filipino. We also strive to educate people about animal welfare through community outreach and talks at schools,” Guerrero furthers. But though the group’s work so far has had a substantial effect, there is more to be done, particularly with the absence of financial support from the government. Having to rely solely on donations and grants, CARA’s doors are always open to new volunteers. “Joining CARA as a volunteer isn't that difficult,” Guerrero says. “Interested individuals just have to fill out a form and then attend one of our orientations. We are always on the look-out for people to help out in our clinic, people to do home visits, help out with fundraising as well as events.


Ideally we would want volunteers to help out with as many aspects of the organization as possible. We want passionate doers who will remain active with the organization for many years to come.” For more information on CARA’s advocacy and programs, contact (02) 532-3340, (0910) 729-7026, email, or visit

(1)CARA rescue, Casper. Photo by TBWA\SMP; (2)Rescued Laguna Pit Bull, Cynthia; (3)Cats lined up at the old CARA clinic for spay/neuter; (4)Rescued Laguna Pit Bull, Nana; (5)Cats in the CARA cattery; (6)CARA volunteers; (7)Adoption event at Greenbelt

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Get to know Doc Nielsen Bernabe Donato: the vet with a big heart for animals, a thriving practice and loyal following of clients, as well as a growing television fan base.

The Doctor is Definitely IN

Text by Angie Duarte Photos courtesy of Doc Nielsen B. Donato

“I like almost every animal, except for sewer rats; which was a real challenge for me in India, because they took me to the Rat Temple,” Doc Nielsen Donato laughed, as he regaled me with stories of his recent adventures in Jaipur and its environs. “I really love dogs; cats, I learned to like, eventually. I didn’t always like them because as a child, I had many traumatic experiences with them – since my pets were chicks and fish,” he added, partly in jest, partly with a hint of wistful nostalgia. From dogs and cats, to exotics (birds, reptiles, creepy crawlies) and larger farm animals, to rabbits and yes, even the occasional rodent, Doc Nielsen has seen and cared for them all in his 26-year career as physician to the non-human kind. His remarkable passion and compassion for animals has enabled him to establish a successful veterinary profession, Vets in Practice (VIP), with business partners and fellow ace vets, Dr. Mike Velhagen, Dr. Nick Carpio, and Dr. Marga Carpio. Since its opening in 2003, VIP has spread its wings, now numbering six clinics across the metro and beyond. The original branch on Maysilo Street, Mandaluyong has likewise expanded to include a Pet Hotel and Pet Wellness Center. Doc Nielsen’s skill and zeal have also landed him a spot on a major television

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network, as one of the hosts of animal and wildlife show Born to Be Wild, which has been running for a number of years to date. On top of all that, the good doctor – with Dr. Mike’s help – finds time in his busy schedule to run and maintain an animal sanctuary in La Vista, Pansol, in the province of Calamba, Laguna. With a menagerie that includes 500 birds, 30 reptiles, six dogs and 30 cats, Doc Nielsen certainly has his hands full. Add to the list, as well, all the volunteer work he continues to do with various non-profit organizations, plus jetting to international conventions to keep up to speed with the ever-evolving field of vet medicine. Like many people who achieve great things, it had to start somewhere. Doc Nielsen’s origin story? A deep affinity with animals, his desire to rescue chicks and goldfish from the clutches of roadside vendors, and the occasional feathered friend overdosing on drugs. Born to love animals “I was born to love animals – I was seven years old and I said to my parents ‘I want to be a bird doctor and a dog doctor.’ All my pets when I was a kid were chicks that were being sold at churches, and goldfish that were sold by the roadside. I’d save my allowance to buy them and take them home,” Doc Nielsen recounted.

“My haven was Cartimar,” he said, in reference to the shopping center in Pasay City, known primarily for its many pet stores. “My Dad was also fond of animals, so when I was a kid, I would go with my dad and look at all the animals they had in Cartimar.” This intrinsic sense of connection with animals is what sparked his dream of someday becoming a veterinarian; and he had early, shall we say, misadvntures the field. “My Dad was a medical doctor for humans, at that time, and every time one of my animals, like a chick, would get sick he would give me a capsule of Amoxicillin to pop into its mouth – and the chick would usually overdose. That’s when I really decided I wanted to study to be a vet,” he recalled, with a chuckle. House calls and early beginnings So, with his parent’s blessing, Doc Nielsen eventually pursued Veterinary Medicine at Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, now owned by De La Salle University. In those days, at least in the Philippines, the veterinary practice was not looked upon with much regard. Yet Doc Nielsen pushed through all the challenges. “Financial reward was not the consideration. I wanted to treat the animals that I love; that was my main goal for studying to be a vet. And during that time, the respect

FOR PETS’ SAKE (Opposite page, from left) Doc Nielsen examines a Philippine Crocodile ready for release into the wild, with a program of the Mabuaya foundation; a water monitor lizard being treated at the Cebu Zoo, as part of Doc Nielsen’s volunteer work; (this page) Studying the behavior of Rhesus Monkeys at the Monkey Temple in Thailand; taking a break while examining the cause of thousands of dog deaths in Nueva Ecija, during an epidemic of what turned out to be distemper.

for veterinarians was really not there,” he disclosed. He took a job, training and working as a veterinary technician, at Singapore’s largest veterinary center, Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital, until his return to the country in 1994. Doc Nielsen then started doing house calls with Dr. Mike. Little did they know that this would be the start of something big. Through word of mouth, the young doctors’ client base grew exponentially; to include highprofile and celebrity clientele. As such, their first VIP branch in Mandaluyong City was jam-packed on opening day. Today, Doc Nielsen holds the titles of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Senior Veterinarian at Vets in Practice, Senior Small & Exotic Animal Medicine & Surgery Veterinarian, and Animal Care Specialist at CARVELDON Veterinary Center. He is also a consultant for the Lombija Zoological and Research Center, and the president of the Feathered Friends Foundation, Alabang Chapter. Big-hearted, not big-headed Although the dedicated doctor and his colleagues have been christened the “Celebrity Vets,” and “Best Vets” in the Philippines, none of those accolades have gone to Doc Nielsen’s head. He remains grounded, to this day, and continues to give of his time and talent in the service of the creatures dearest to his heart. He is an active volunteer with various nongovernment, non-profit organizations such as the Katana Foundation, devoted to saving

Palawan’s Philippine Red-Vented Cockatoo; the Bukidnon Deer Farm; Avilon Montalban Zoo; and the Help in Suffering Organization based in India, among others. Doc Nielsen also consults for the Department of Natural Resources, as well. A large chunk of his advocacy is invested in his own animal sanctuary in Laguna, the Laguna Wildlife Park and Rescue Center, which was started by his father way back in 1974. “The animal haven in Pansol started when a horse jockey, who was my dad’s patient, gave my dad a race horse which was retired because of cataracts. So we had a horse on the farm. Then, my dad went to the wet market and saw a cow that was about to be slaughtered, and he stopped the butcher, bought the cow, and took it to the farm in Laguna,” he shared. Aside from his devotion to his non-human family, Doc Nielsen looks forward to bonding with his human family – his wife, Carol, and their children, Cedric and Nina – during moments of free time.

Into the wild As host of the successful animal and wildlife show, Born to Be Wild, Doc Nielsen treasures the many wonderful opportunities to interact with and help animals in the wild. He narrated that among his best experiences, thus far, was on his recent trip to India, in the desert, with the Reika tribe, who believe that they are destined to herd and care for camels. There, he was afforded the opportunity to assist the Reikas and other volunteers of Help in Suffering in the treatment of hundreds of camels suffering from mange and blood parasites. Then, around a fire in the middle of the desert, he shared some warmed fresh camel milk with the Reikas. “It was really different; unforgettable. I mean, we don’t get to treat camels here in the Philippines. And to do so in that setting, with the Reikas…” he said, trailing off. The TV show has not only provided him a broader platform for his animal welfare advocacies, but has also changed his perspective on certain things, such as zoos. “My outlook about zoos has changed, ever since I began to interact with animals in the wild. When they are in cages, you see a lot of suffering in wild animals. I get stressed now, when I see animals in cages,” he revealed. “Although there are some zoos which have successful preservation and breeding programs,” he clarified. To pet owners everywhere, he had this to say: “Don’t get a pet if you’re just going to put your in a cage. The reason we get a pet is for companionship, so treat your pet as a member of your family. Choose the right pet for your lifestyle. Give time and love, and get ready for vet bills, as a responsible pet owner.” Vast amounts of knowledge, skill, and experience, rivaled only by equally great degrees of genuine care, kindness and concern for animals: these are what make Doc Nielsen Donato the cat’s meow and the bees knees: THE go-to vet, this side of the Pet Universe.

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PCCI: Championing Canine Welfare Text by Ching Dee Photos by Ching Dee and Leovic Arceta

“Take a closer look at the country’s premier canine club and the Philippines growing interest in the dog show industry.”

When it comes to knowing dogs, there’s no better authority in the country except for the Philippine Canine Club, Inc. (PCCI). PCCI has been the home of leading experts in canine registry and welfare in the Philippines since it was founded on March 21, 1963. It is a non-profit, service-oriented corporation, which aims to “promote the integrity of the purebred dog registry,

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encourage ethical breeding practices, organize world-class canine exhibitions, disseminate canine information and education, and support purebred canine welfare” in the country. For the past 52 years, PCCI continues to uphold international standards “at par with the world’s best kennel clubs.” Since its founding, PCCI now has over 100,000 members nationwide. In its recently concluded All-Breed Championship Dog Show at the PCCI Activity Center in Marikina, Expat sat down with PCCI treasurer Chito Ilagan and general manager Jojo Rosales to know more about the esteemed canine club and how Filipinos are responding to the dog show industry. “PCCI’s goal is to promote purebred dogs in the Philippines and to preserve the genes of every breed,” Ilagan tells Expat. “The dog show is just one venue for us to showcase what kind of dogs we have in the Philippines, and the right confirmation of the dogs’ breed according to the breed standard.”

(top)Shih Tzu parade for evaluation/ judging (circle) Judge Deborah Harbin from Australia evaluates a contestant’s breed standard compliance.

PCCI papers are given to dogs whose appearance, movement, and even lineage confirm to breed standards according to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) or the World Canine Organization. “We see to it that the lineage of the dog is accurate, so owners can see if their dog’s line has produced champions, or of superior intelligence,” Ilagan, whose been a dog breeder since 1976, shared.


(top)Dogs are judged based on their appearance, gait, and movement as confirmed by FCI breed standards (photo courtesy of PCCI; (mid)PCCI Treasurer Chito Ilagan; (bottom) Breeder Dannel Garing prepare his dog for the show.

international judges for the competition, which is now on its third year. “It’s a very prestigious show,” says Ilagan. “People and dogs from all over the world join the Philippine Circuit because it’s very well organized. Hopefully, someday we can be like the Westminster Dog Show.” PCCI is a member of the FCI, which has five regions: Europe, The Americas and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. The FCI recognizes a total of 343 dogs breeds from around the world, which are then divided into ten different groups: sheepdogs and cattledogs, pinscher and schnauzer, terriers, daschunds, spitz and primitive types, scent hounds and related breeds, pointing dogs, retrievers-flushing dogs–water dogs, companion and toy dogs, and sighthounds. “Dog sport in the Philippines is catching on,” Ilagan said. “More and more people are breeding and raising dogs to join shows and we are glad there are so many active members.” After decades with PCCI—both as a member and as an employee—Ilagan has witnessed the evolution of the dog breeding industry. “It (dog breeding) has become more competitive; very stiff competition. People became more aware of the breed standards, their knowledge leveled up,” Ilagan said, adding that American-type dogs—those who are more elegant and beautiful in appearance, as contrast to other types which are more lean and muscular— are more prevalent in the Philippines, like companion and toy dogs. Ilagan and Rosales also talked about the upcoming Philippine Circuit Show on January 21 to 24, 2016 at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. It is PCCI’s biggest event every year, where dogs from all over the world travel all the way to the Philippines to compete for the Dog of the Year award. PCCI has invited 17

Dog shows aren’t the only thing members can expect from PCCI. According to Rosales, they also conduct various trainings and seminars for pet owners. These seminars include handler training for dog shows and proper dog care. Both Rosales and Ilagan encourage dog owners to become PCCI members and participate in various events. Ilagan even said that non-purebred dogs are welcome to join the different PCCI competitions like the agility test and obedience trials. And besides, even if you have no plans of raising competition-worthy dogs, PCCI is ready to serve their members about anything related to their beloved canines. “It all comes from a genuine concern for dogs,” Ilagan said. “We love dogs and we want to make sure they are well taken care of.” For more information about PCCI membership and events, visit

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Philippine Seas’ The Philippines, nestled in the Coral Triangle, is identified as the centre of marine biodiversity in the world. With this recognition comes the responsibility to protect it, and you as a tourist can make this happen. Text and photos by AA Yaptinchay, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines


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“...tourism can be a double-

edged sword in conservation. If not done properly, could actually cause harm the animal and the environment. When this happens, tourism becomes a threat.”

When going on a safari in Africa, one must not leave without seeing the BIG 5: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros. These animals used to be the top five hunted creatures, but these days the ones taking an aim at them are mostly tourists with their cameras. Poaching remains a problem but despite this, observing Africa’s diverse wildlife in their natural habitat is on the bucket list of a lot of travelers. Local Big 5 There is something comparable in the Philippines. We have our own TOP FIVE wildlife, only bigger and wetter. The top animals which have been attracting interest from tourism are: the whale shark, thresher shark, dolphins and whales, marine turtles, and dugong (sea cow). They are all found in the Philippine Seas. Our country’s 7,107 islands provide a multitude of habitats, such as mangroves, seagrass, estuaries, reefs, and beaches, which provide homes to a diverse array of marine life. With this rich diversity we have come to be known as the centre of marine biodiversity in the world. Like Africa, these marine wildlife were taken for fisheries and consumption before they were protected. Only just a decade ago, whale sharks were still hunted heavily in the Bohol Sea. Even whales and dolphins were targeted in fisheries. Sharks and rays remain unprotected to this day. However, protected or not, marine wildlife populations are still threatened by poaching, habitat degradation, and fatalities with anthropogenic causes. There are also issues with the conflicting utilization of these resources: fishing vs. watching them, or the one time use of a dead animal vs. its perpetual use in non-consumptive ways. It has been studied that saving these animals have better and long-term benefits to us, including economic, ecological, scientific, cultural, and educational gains. With the Philippines’ increasing number of foreign visitors and local travelers, more and more attractions and activities are demanded. An increasing interest in natural attractions, which the country offers in abundance, comes with it. Looking at tourist arrivals, Donsol’s visitors for whale shark interactions has been steadily increasing over the last 18 years with more than 27,000 participants in 2012. But a new site


3 (1) SCUBA diving with thresher sharks in Monad Shoal, Malapscua Island in Cebu. (Noel Guevara) (2) Swimming with a whale shark in Donsol, Sorsogon. (Juergen Freund) (3) Watching spinner dolphins around Pamilacan Island, Bohol. (AA Yaptinchay)

for whale shark interaction in Oslob, Cebu had almost 100,000 visitors on the same year, its first year of operation. Other destinations with dedicated marine wildlife interaction tours include Apo Island in Negros, Balicasag Island in Bohol, and Pandan Island in Mindoro to snorkel with marine turtles; Malapascua Island in Cebu for thresher shark diving, Busuanga in Palawan for snorkelling with dugongs; and Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Pamilacan Island in Bohol, and Bais City in Negros for dolphin and whale watching. There are several other established destinations with many more emerging new sites. Tourism Conundrum Tourism interactions with marine wildlife is an example of a non-consumptive use of a resource. If well-designed along with proper interpretations by the guides, these tours provide economic incentives, where employment and businesses can flourish while protecting species and habitats. Exposing people to marine wildlife in their natural habitat is one of the best ways to educate and make people appreciate

animals and nature better. To some, it may even be a ‘life-changing’ experience. Somehow, you will not learn the same with wildlife in captivity such as those in zoos or entertainment facilities having dolphin shows since animals cannot exhibit their natural behavior. Not having the proper regulations to control tourism activities around marine wildlife has become an issue recently. Whale watching boats are now plentiful in Panglao, Bohol most untrained; the forceful luring of marine wildlife with food for easy access has disrupted normal behavior; marine turtles are tied-up or placed in concrete tanks for visitors to pet and take pictures of in Guimaras Island, or captured large marine animals are stood-on for the obligatory photo op like what was done with a whale shark in Boljoon in Cebu or the leatherback turtle in Samar. In Florida, feeding of a wild dolphin has caused its death attributed to an inadequate diet while beach-goers in Costa Rica have outnumber the thousands of olive ridley turtles arriving for the seasonal arribada

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4 (4) Skin-diving with green turtles in Apo Island, Negros. (Ian Uy); (5) The author watching a dugong feed in Busuanga, Palawan. (Juergen Freund)

preventing them to nest successfully. These incidents clearly show that tourism can be a double-edged sword in conservation. If not done properly, could actually cause harm to the animal and the environment. When this happens, tourism becomes a threat. The Movement Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines, a marine conservation NGO established in 2010, has been working on research, enforcement, tourism and increasing awareness on these threatened marine species. One of their campaigns is to promote the proper Codes of Conduct for tourism interactions with marine wildlife. Together with the Department of Tourism (DOT), they have been looking into better management of these interactions taking into account that most of these species are already protected by the Philippine Wildlife Act and Fisheries Code.

the negative impacts of the interaction but also ensure visitors’ enjoyment and safety leading to its sustainability. In the end, it will provide continuing education and decent livelihood for members of host communities. The drafted Joint Administrative Order is now being consulted with various stakeholders before being passed. Included in this program is the challenge of implementation and enforcement. For one, resource user’s conflict still exists for unprotected species, which are still being fished. Not all marine wildlife interaction sites are managed though a marine protected, affords better control of the activities within it. Enforcement is difficult as most of the tours are done below the water surface. This is where you, as a tourist, will be given an opportunity to help and do your part. Your decision to follow the regulations with or without the enforcers around would make a big difference. Respect for marine life may not only be required of you, but it may be necessary to insist on implementing

Over the past year, the DOT has been developing the appropriate policy to ensure the sustainability of this new tourism concern by initiating focus group discussions and consulting with stakeholders, undertaking assessment of marine wildlife tourism sites, drafting action plans and working with the partner agencies concerned specifically the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The resulting policy will be embodied in a Joint Administrative Order among these agencies on marine wildlife tourism interactions. This regulation will, in no way, limit the tourism potential of marine wildlife in the country. It will actually help enhance tours. Not only will it protect marine wildlife from

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these regulations from erring guides and tour operators. Heightened awareness from the communities, site-managers, visitors, tour operators and guides can make a successful. In the end, tourism, being a market driven industry, can be changed by its consumers. This means us tourists, who have included the Philippines’ Big 5 to our bucket list. We can all take part in ensuring tourism does not cause further problems to these already threatened species. So when we do get a chance to see the Philippines’ Big 5 through an interaction tour, we should look at it as an opportunity to save these marine wildlife, therefore permitting the generation after us to enjoy the same. To learn more about the Philippine marine wildlife and ecosystems, follow Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines on Facebook at marinewildlifewatchofthephilippines. To find out where you could interact with marine wildlife responsibly, contact Kirschner Travel Manila.


HUB There’s a revolution brewing in Makati’s Burgos area, only this time of a less carnal sort. Plus, Expat contributor Paolo Nesi gives us a quick lesson on what champagne goes with what in a quick tutorial perfect for the season of cheers.

Photo by Pawel Kadysz


The Evolution of Poblacion: A Changing of the Bars Text by Ching Dee Photos by Leovic Arceta

Expat goes around Poblacion in Makati, an area previously known for a different kind of fare, to sample three dining hotspots from the area’s foremost movers and shakers. Long-time expats know the area well, but whether they would dare admit to it or not is an entirely different story. Poblacion has had a colorful history of fun, often drunken, almost always hazy nights. It’s built its own reputation, deserved or otherwise. Situated in the middle of posh Rockwell, residential Bel-Air, and up-and-coming Century City, most people equate this part of Makati with Burgos, an area famous for its girly bars and the inescapable underworld of its red light district. But in the last few years, Poblacion, behind the influence and imagination of a group of people, has been stirring the communal foodie pot—adding its own ingredients to the mix. Call it a re-imagining of this Makati enclave. You can even deem it a foodie revolution. Whatever you’d like to think of it, just make sure to consider it a must-try.

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Roasted to perfection: Señor Pollo’s Roasted Chicken is one of their bestsellers and it’s easy to see why-golden brown skin, beautifully caramelized rub, juicy and tender meat. We dare you not to love it after one bite.




Carne Asada Barbacoa

Camarones ala diabla


El Chupacabra What better way to start this culinary journey than to honor the one that started Poblacion’s culinary revolution? In 2013, restaurateur Dixie Mabanta opened a little nondescript wall taco joint called El Chupacabra along Felipe Street, in the infamous Burgos area. He still remembers how Felipe looked just two years ago—dark and creepy in a way that makes you feel you’re about to get mugged at any time. In fact, he personally experienced such a fate right on that street a few years back. But Mabanta knew even back then that this dodgy area had tons of potential, due in part to its strategic location. So when he got tired of paying ridiculously high rent at malls, he decided to create something new outside the mall’s artificial environment. “We were the first one here on Felipe. I wanted to maximize a previously under-

utilized space that we already had; and I wanted to set up a simple place to sell street tacos to the neighborhood,” Mabanta of Mexicali and Café Mediterranean fame tells Expat, sharing how he turned the ground floor of his head office and commissary to what is now local favorite El Chupacabra. Mabanta recalls how he and his family enjoyed the street tacos in Mexico and California, so he decided to bring it back home to the Philippines. Recreating the flavors of Mexican cuisine isn’t easy, especially with the limited authentic ingredients available locally, like the different kinds of dried chili and even the masa harina for making proper Mexican tortilla. But as Mabanta tells his patrons, they do their best with the ingredients they have. Expats and foreign travelers love dining outdoors, which is the basic vibe of El Chupacabra, where the crowd spills onto the streets, patiently waiting for their tacos. But for those who prefer a cooler area, there’s an air-conditioned room at the back with more tables and a complete bar called La Cueva (the cave) del Chupacabra. This homegrown taqueria has 16 different tacos and a couple of grilled items. Here are their bestsellers: San Francisco-Style Lean Pork Sisig – Believe it or not, but our humble sisig is actually

(above)El Chupacabra sign; (bottom left)A hidden lair: Head to the back of the restaurant for La Cueva del Chupacabra

big in California. But there, it’s made of lean pork. So Mabanta decided to adapt the lean pork sisig and turn it into a taco. Best enjoyed with some of El Chupacabra’s signature atomic sauce and an ice-cold beer. Carne Asada Taco – This taco is easily one of their most famous street creations. Tender and flavorful chunks of grilled steak nestled inside their homemade corn tortilla, topped with onions, cilantro, and a bit of atomic sauce—oh yeah, we’re good to go. Cabrito Taco - This is El Chupacabra’s take on the classic Mexican birria stew. It’s spicy goat meat, chopped and served. This is a personal favorite. Barbacoa de Res Taco – It is beef slowcooked overnight, stewing in chipotle sauce and as flaky as it’s every gonna get. It is then shredded and served with white onion and cilantro on top. El Chupacabra is open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. and is located at 5782 Felipe Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati. For more information, contact (02) 895-1919 and find them on Facebook: /ElChupacabraPH and Instagram @elchupacabraph.

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(left) Señor Pollo’s bar; (circle)SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL: Jaco Mabanta, son of restaurateur Dixie Mabanta, poses for Expat wearing the perfect shirt for the occasion; (below)Expats and locals alike flock to Señor Pollo for its famous Latin chicken.

SEÑOR POLLO Señor Pollo famous Latin Chicken is the newest gastronomic creation from Mabanta, but his son Jaco takes care of the operations. Opened just this past May 2015, their first branch in Tomas Morato, Quezon City was so well received that they decided to open another branch in Makati just six months later. “It feels like we expanded a little too quickly,” Jacko tells Expat, “But the community’s response has been very good.” The father and son duo love bold flavors and it shows in their menu. However, they decided to keep the menu simple—making sure each dish is in its best possible form. “We want to keep it simple, and we want to make sure all our dishes have good quality,” Jaco explained. “But it’s still a process of trial and error. When we introduce something new to the menu, we give some time to try it out. If the customers like it, it stays. If it doesn’t work, we take it out [from the menu].” At Señor Pollo, chicken is king and its crown is explosive flavor. Here are some of their bestsellers: Señor Pollo Roasted or Fried Chicken – Here at Señor Pollo, you can have chicken two ways: roasted or crispy fried (three if you count the fiery hot and spicy version). Whichever way you choose, it will be cooked to perfection—its skin the perfect golden brown, its meat infused with a riot of flavors. And as if a gorgeous platter of chicken isn’t enough, each order is served with three homemade sauces: Garlic, Hot Sauce, and Chimichurri. The roasted chicken

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is a personal fave. Lechon Asado - A kilo slab of pork belly, slow-grilled over coals, in all its juicy, umamirich porcine goodness. If you like pork, this is the Holy Grail. Chicken Sisig – Filipinos love sisig with an intense passion, and even foreigners can’t resist its delectable charm. At Señor Pollo, sisig means chopped chicken meat served either on a sizzling plate or on top of rice. Eitherway, the bold flavors go really well with beer. The Señor Pollo Grilled Chicken Wrap - A brand new addition to the menu: a flour tortilla filled with chargrilled chicken chunks, veggies, homemade pickles, secret sauce, then grilled on a plancha (a flat griddle top

in Spanish). Served with fries, the owners love this sandwich, boldly claiming it to be the best in town. Spicy Rice – It’s spicy but not too hot. It is the perfect marriage of various herbs, spices, and rice. Despite having its own flavor profile, Señor Pollo’s spicy rice goes really well with their chicken dishes without overpowering the star of the restaurant: The Chicken. Garlic Mash – It’s mashed potato with garlic puree. How can you go wrong? Senor Pollo is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and is located at 5767 Ebro Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati. For more information contact(02) 831-6945. Facebook: / senorpolloph; Instagram: @senorpolloph.


Tambai Tambai is the perfect place to introduce expats and foreign tourists to the Filipino concept of “tambay” or hanging out. Friends Franco Ocampo, Melvin Viceral, and Jerome Valencia opened Tambai in December 2014. After two years of Viceral religiously stopping by their suki convenience store to say hi to its owner in the hopes of convincing her to rent out the space for them, she finally said yes. Surprised that the storeowner agreed to have them as tenants, the three finished all preparations for Tambai in just about two and a half months, but the plans of having their own restaurant have been in the works since 2013. Ocampo came up with the idea of selling Japanese yakitori (grilled meats on sticks) with great beer and Valencia took care of the cooking. Grilled meat and beer—the staples of every Pinoy tambay session with buddies by the side of the road. “We really wanted people to talk,” Ocampo points out, adding they designed the place so people could chat over drinks and pulutan (bar chow). Tambai’s interiors and overall appearance lends utter simplicity, which tends to lead the focus more on the fare rather than the surroundings. Despite the beer crate tables and plastic chairs, Tambai’s simplicity also teems with sophistication and planning— from the echo absorbers on the walls to accommodate their stellar sound system to the great use of space, maximizing the storefront and alley. In an effort to elevate the usual pulutan, Tambai created their menu to suit their market—from blue-collar workers to Makati’s elites. “It’s a very neutral ground,” Ocampo says about Poblacion, saying both celebrities and average Joes flock to the area because of the burgeoning food scene. “You’ll see all kinds of people here of all ages.” For first timers at Tambai, Ocampo says, “I recommend you stay for at least four hours and try everything [on the menu] slowly. Just chilling with friends, drinking and enjoying food.” But even this writer has finite space in her belly, so here are Tambai’s bestsellers, which will definitely make you come back for more Tambai goodness. Beef Rib Fingers – Beef ribs braised until tender, cut into cubes, skewered then grilled. The smoke and char adds character to the

(top)Yakitodo (PhP330) is a sampler of all the best-selling yakitori sticks offered at Tambai: (L-R) Grilled zucchini, roasted garlic and basic, cherry tomatoes, quail eggs wrapped in bacon, chicken thigh, pork, chicken gizzard, chicken liver, and beef isaw; (above)This Katsu Bun is all kinds of amazing: hang-off-the-bun pork cutlet fried to golden perfection, toasted bun, sweet and tangy takoyaki sauce, salty seaweed flakes, spicy togarashi, creamy Japanese mayo--what more could you ask?!; (above left) Tambai remains unassuming and humble on the outside, but for those who know the place all too well, it packs quite a flavorful punch; (circle)One-third of Tambai’s brains and tastebuds: Franco Ocampo; (left)OVERFLOWING: Tambai’s airconditioned room with sound-proof walls is always filled to capacity.

beef this writer is yet to encounter elsewhere. The chunk of meat just flakes effortlessly into your mouth, letting you focus on its flavor rather than a tug of war with the beef. Soft Shell Crabs – You eat everything, as in everything. It’s an entire crab, chopped into pieces, then battered and fried to golden perfection. This dish’s flavor and texture profile is one for the books: tasty and crunchy exterior, almost sweet and meaty insides. Topped with togarashi, seaweed flakes, Japanese mayo, and takoyaki sauce, the sweet-spicy-salty combo hits all the right spots. This one’s perfect with a cold brew. ‘Yakitodo’ – A sampler platter containing the best of Tambai’s yakitori: Beef isaw (intestines), chicken liver, chicken gizzard, pork, chicken thigh, quail egg wrapped in bacon, cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic and basil, and zucchini. This platter with a myriad

of flavors goes best with sake, served in its own ice bucket. I finished everything with the help of Ocampo and new friends Rafa and Miel. This is the effect of great food: It brings people together. Ocampo says, “It was actually the community that guided us throughout the conceptualization of Tambai. Nothing fancy—just straight up, honest food. We stick to what we know best: grilled food and good beer.” Tambai is open daily from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and is located at 5779 Felipe Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati. For more information find them on Facebook: / TambaiPH and on Instagram @tambai_ snackhouse.

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Which Bubble for the Holidays?

this is going to get expensive unless you can afford to dish out almost PhP10,000 for a bottle of entry level Krug. But every one should have their favorite champagne house: You too can have one by just following the criteria I outlined below for you, based on the style that might suit you better. Please note that I only refer to the Non Vintage champagnes or NVs, basically those Champagne that year after year, taste, smell and look the same.

Text by Paolo Nesi

Expat contributor, restaurateur. sommelier and overall sage Paolo Nesi gives us the lowdown on the effervescent and omnipresent bubbly - what to have, when to have it and what to bring party hosts this coming holiday season. Holidays are upon us! Shortly, most of us will buy a bottle of sparkling wine. It just seems to be the right thing to do to get into the festive mood, and there is nothing comparable to the sound of popping the cork of a sparkling wine to bring everybody into a holiday frenzy. It is not a coincidence that sparkling wines are popped for inaugurations, ship blessings and for marking all sorts of occasions. On the winning podiums of most competitions, champagne doesn’t get drunk, but is rather sprayed by the winner onto the crowd, and by the runner, up directly at the winner, hoping to catch him or her right in the eye, possibly by the popping cork as well. While not discounting the above use of sparkling wines, I will concentrate here on the styles and factors that you may want to consider if you actually plan to drink it and, while there are many excellent non-

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champagne sparkling wines, in this article I will concentrate on champagnes. So how do we select the bubbles for the next occasion like a pro? Most people have their preferred brand, when it comes to champagnes. I hear all the time “I drink only Veuve Cliquot, I am a fan of Billecart Salmon rose, my favorite champagne is Ruinart;” and those who exclaim: “I only drink Krug!” Careful there,

Another factor that you need to consider is the sweetness level. Most Champagne houses will have a Brut, a sec or demi-sec and douce version, which refer to an increasing order of residual sugar in the wine. Below is the Champagne sweetness scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7



Brut Nature or Pas Dosage Extra Brut Brut Extra Dry

0-3 gr/l residual sugar

Dry Demi-Sec Doux

0-6 gr/l residual sugar 0-12 gr/l residual sugar 12-17 gr/l residual sugar (surprisingly the extra dry is not the driest) 17-32 gr/l residual sugar 32-50 gr/l residual sugar 50+ gr/l residual sugar

Light and Elegant:

Right in the Middle:

Round and voluptuous:

Roederer Pol Roger Taittinger Ayala Vilmart

Bollinger Jacquesson Moet & Chandon

Krug Veuve Clicquot Bruno Paillard Delamotte, Jean Vesselle Egly-Oriet Philipponnat

GRUB HUB photos from Viktor Hanacek ; and

To the regular champagnes consumer: Bring anything that is vintage, basically a bottle with the harvest year clearly written on the label (2002 is an excellent one) but any vintage will do because champagne made vintage versions only on the best years. To the champagne’s connoisseur: People tend to get nervous and oenophobia is kicking in selecting a bottle for a connoisseur. But actually you can bring any of the above choices and they will appreciate the gesture anyway, as those people are hard to impress – and they know it. But if you wish to make a try at it and have some money to spare, then look for a “tete de cuvee” or cuvee’ prestige champagne. These are the top products of the champagne houses, a bit like how Honda has Acura, Toyota has Lexus, and Fiat has Ferrari; or like Moet & Chandon has Dom Perignon, Perrier Jouet has La Belle Epoque, Roederer has Cristal and so on. The only exception is Krug. But hey, what is the entry model of Rolls Royce?

Ok. Now that we speak the same language, which one and when? As an aperitif? A glass of champagne is always a success. I only suggest staying away from the sec and anything sweeter, while any dry and drier versions are perfectly light and elegant. Any choices from the ‘right in the middle’ category in the table above will be great options too. If you plan to mix your bubbles with orange juice (Mimosa) or peach juice (Bellini) or any other mix, including cassis/ blackcurrant (Kir Royale), use the driest available to balance the sweetness of the added fruit juice. Note that in this case, if you use a Cava from Spain or even a Prosecco from Italy, the quality difference is minimal, but the difference in price can be substantial. There is no need to open champagne for a cocktail. With oyster and caviar? Personally, I have always avoided this combination. But it is advertised as the best match. For my palate, the acidity, brines, lemon and sometimes the spice (Tabasco) in the oyster, gives champagne a metallic bitter taste. But then again, palates are like our fingerprints, unique to each individual. You really must try in order to know and to be able to choose. If indeed you must, go for dry champagne light and elegant in style. Throughout the meal? Yes, it is indeed possible, and even appropriate. I would recommend, however, that you not serve it with wild boar, roast or any gamey, rustic braised meat dishes as in the end, champagne is still a white wine with bubbles. With game, you would be best guided to go for a round and voluptuous style and, even better a rose’, which has more vinous character. Celebration with dessert? Dry champagnes do not pair well with sweet desserts, while the sweet (demi-sec, douce) versions are the best companions to sweets. Ironically, there are very few sweet (demisec or douce) champagnes in the market. Taittinger and Moet & Chandon make great choices for the dessert course and are easily available.

To the socialite lady: Bring a good rose’. Yes, those pink colored champagnes. Believe me, they will do the trick; and you will see it is pink as the producers use crystal clear glass to entice this particular market that is willing to pay a premium for it. Billecart Salmon is considered one of the best without having to spend your year’s savings.

As a celebratory drink at countdown? If you are planning to explode the cork in a loud pop and spray the bubbles in celebration for the New Year, just go with the cheaper options available. But if you are opening it with the sound of a mere sigh and plan to drink it sipping as the old year moves to history and the new auspicious year dawns, get the best champagne you can afford (and even better in a Magnum [double the size] and I guarantee it’s worth the money to remember the special moment, which only arrives once every 12 months! Gift to the host? Most likely during the holidays, we get invited to parties and want to have a bottle to bring. Champagne makes an impressive gift, but we wouldn’t want to go overboard nor fall short of expectations. So what should you bring? Here are few suggestions to match the host’s knowledge of champagne: To the occasional champagne drinker: Bring any entry level of the well known brands e.g., Moet & Chandon N.V., Veuve Cliquot N.V., Taittinger N.V. etc.

Where to find everything? Nowadays, you’ll find most of it at wellstocked department stores. But if you like to get some personalized advice, go to Pasong Tamong extension, where a gradually growing wine trade is evicting the car dealerships. There, you’ll have Philippine Wines Exchange, Artisan Cellars, Sommelier Selections, Antique Wine Company and Terry’s Selection; in Yakal Avenue, you’ll find Titania, Wine Depot, Santis (with many other outlets sprawling all over the city), in other parts of the city, Ralph’s wine stores and Bacchus at the Shang Makati or Rockwell. In some of these locations, you can also try them out by the glass. Do ask questions and recommendations before you order. The people behind the counter are professionals who love their trade without an attitude. Condensing in these paragraphs such a complex subject has not been an easy task, so for the suggestion on other occasions when you should drink champagne, I leave you with Madam Lily Bollinger: “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” Happy Holidays!

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Ein Prosit! The 77th Oktoberfest merriment at Sofitel Manila carries on with the tradition of beer-fueled fun. Over 4,000 guests gathered at the 77th Oktoberfest celebration at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Harbor Garden Tent. The Harbor Garden Tent was transformed into a biergarten as guests from the GermanFilipino community, expatriates, celebrities and personalities, and local foodies feasted on authentic German beer and fare—including Obatzda, Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Sauerkraut, Goulashsuppe, Pork Schnitzel, and of course Apfelstrudel—for two days.


Guests were also treated to lively performances, including the traditional belting out of “Ein Prosit” and the “Fliegerlied” while enjoying an ice-cold pint (or ten). The festival started with the ceremonial tapping of the first keg by Pasay City Mayor Antonio G. Calixto, German Ambassador to the Philippines Thomas Ossowski, German Club Manila President Claus Sudhoff, and Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila General Manager Adam Laker. Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s General Manager, Adam Laker said, “Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is delighted to be the home of the Oktoberfest in partnership with the German Club Manila. This much- awaited annual event continues camaraderie international community and we are happy to serve as the venue for this to be possible. Our friends can expect more excitement and entertainment in the next Oktoberfest.”


And as those who have attended Sofitel’s renditions of Oktoberfest have come to know, the promise of an even more fun and exciting shindig next year is but a certainty. Ein Prosit!


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2 Frances Espinoza, German Embassy’s Charge D’Affaires Michael Hasper, Austrian Embassy’s Cultural Attaché Lisbeth Strohmeier, Anjana DasHasper and Pia Heide Salman 3 OttiliaTaus, Chosen Children Foundation President GuenterTaus, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Vice President Florian Gottein 4 Stage Actor Leo Valdez,TessSchoefer, Paul Jonston, Dr. Cecile Infantado, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Resident Manager Alfredo Denage, General Manager Adam Laker, Director of Public Relations Yasmine Hidalgo 5 Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Director of Public Relations Yasmine Hidalgo, Executive Chef Denis Vecchiato, Executive Pastry Chef Rolando




1 Oktoberfest Host Michael Scheile, German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski, German Club House Committee Chairman Gerhard Zimmer, German Club President Claus Sudhoff, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila General Manager Adam Laker and Oktoberfest host Eiffelene Salavador- Howard






Macatangay, German Club House Committee Chairman Gerhard Zimmer, Director of Sales and Marketing Alice Jenkins

and Marketing Alice Jenkins, David Guison, Vina Guerrero, Patricia Mirasol, Graphic Artist Joseph Albotra, AJ Dee, Nikita Conwi and Niche Dumlao

6 Belinda Laker, Siobhan Bonny Horgan, Jenny Moriarty, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Director of Sales and Marketing Alice Jenkins, Iva Kerto, Resident Manager Alfredo Denage

11 Filminera President Chris Acosta, Intelligent Touch President Robert Yap, Asia Waterjet Regional Sales Managers Chris Parkhill and Rob Barrows, and Oktoberfest host Michael Scheile

7 MaryluFryberger, Bill Fryberger, Belinda Laker and Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’sGeneral Manager Adam Laker

12 Duri Granziol and Florian Holm

8 Yolly Zimmer, German Club House Committee Chairman Gerhard Zimmer, German Club President Claus Sudhoff, Oktoberfest Host Eiffelene SalvadorHoward and John Lopez Howard 9 Clare Carr, Emma Van Nierkerk and Siobhan Bonny Horgan 10 (L-R): Jeman Villanueva , John Michael Bueno, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s E-commerce Executive Kat Nocom, E-commerce manager Dave Pimentel, Kat Valdez, Rhea Bue, Director of Sales

13 (L-R): Bloggers AJ Dee, Rhea Bue, Kat Valdez, Vina Guerrero, David Guison, Niche Dumlao and Nikita Conwi 14 German Club House Committee Chairman Gerhard Zimmer, Neomi Buhl, German Embassy Commercial Counsellor Dr. Andree Buhl, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Director of Public Relations Yasmine Hidalgo and German Club President Claus Sudhoff 15 Bavarian Sound Express Saxophone player Julian

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The 13th German Ambassador’s Cup by Butch C. Bonsol

A day of celebration through a fine round of golf. The less than ideal weather before the event did nothing to hinder the success of the 13th German Ambassador’s Cup, as the universe blessed participants and those in attendance with sunny skies last Oct. 21 at the Mount Malarayat Golf & Country Club in Batangas. The exclusive annual golf tournament was attended by some 89 guests from the German-Philippine business community along with several members of the diplomatic corps and the Philippine government.

The event was even made more auspicious by the joint celebration of the 25 years of German Unity and GPCCI’s (GermanPhilippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Inc.) official entry into the AHK network (Association of German Chambers Abroad) as AHK Philippines, along with the tournament’s linkage to the PREDA Foundation – a renowned child rights organization in Subic, which received PhP420,000 for the Girls’ Home in Subic. German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski, BGen. Buenaventura Pascual (Chief of Peace Process Office, AFP), USec. Carlo Carag (Finance Department), Dr. Maximo Mejia, Jr. (Maritime Industry Authority/MARINA Administrator) and German Ambassador’s

Cup Chairman Klaus Schroeder led the tourney’s ceremonial tee-off that beautiful day. The always fun, albeit tiring day of golf was followed by a traditional fellowship, awarding and dinner reception at the German Ambassador’s residence, where the day’s top players, MGen. Salvador Mison and Col. Gerry Amante (champions), Tony Co and Urs Schwager (1st runners up), and Bangladeshi Ambassador John Gomes and Cliff Davies (2nd runners-up), were feted. Congratulations to the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Inc. for yet another successful event!



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7 (1) Tournament participants pose for a group photo. (2) 2nd Runners-Up - Bangladesh Ambassador John Gomes and Cliff Davies, President of Doehle Shipmanagement (Phils) (3) Col. Gerry Amante, Debbie Schenk, Theresa Huschka (German Embassy), Jeanette Morales (GPCCI), Manfred Rode, MGen. Salvador Mison (4) Klaus Schroeder and German Amb. Thomas Ossowski hand over the Charity Check to Fr. Shay Cullen, founder of Preda Foundation

(5) Amb. Ossowski (2000x1328) (6) Nigerian Ambassador Buba Tekune, Rolf Dunder from German Club getting ready for the tournament (7) Schroeder, Carag, Ossowski, Pascual (8) Ms. Maan Mariano, Head of Europe Desk at BDO, and GPCCI Board Member (9) Myanmar Ambassador Ye Myint Aung

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Snaps and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tales The Expat Travel & Lifestyle Pet Issue Cover Boys

For this issue’s cover, Expat got done a solid by the pet-loving Estella family, who gave us most of their pre-APEC Saturday to lend our publication faces to epitomize the essence of this special Pet Issue. On the next pages, get a look at some of the shots we took that Saturday, and get to know the convivial boys and their fondness for pets just a tad bit.

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Shot at Big Ben Farm in Pulilan, Bulacan

Marco Antonio M. Estella 25-year-old Marco is a Human Resource graduate from the College of St. Benilde in Manila, who tells us it was his close friends who took to the sport of polo that got him into riding. “Several years ago, I ended up on top of a saddled horse being taught how to ride,” Marco shares. “It’s not a surprise that polo was the end result.” Apart from keeping an affinity for horses, Marco says he also loves dogs and hopes to have another one like Danger, a Golden Retriever he once had. “I loved his hunting instincts and the way he used to jump into the pool straight after a bath!” he enthuses. “At the same time, I had Zach, an iguana. He once went missing from his terrarium while we were having a lunch reunion at home. Eventually, he was found chilling and taking in the sun among the bougainvillea!”

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Fiorenzo Amedeo T. Estella Eight-year-old Fiorenzo is in third grade at the MGC New Life Christian Academy, and is extremely fond of their fluffy (although we’re guessing their turtles also hold a place in his heart) buddies. He would love to own a beagle in the future, but for now, enjoys their days out with their dachshund, Gunther, which they frequently walk around High Street in BGC.

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Flavio Patrizio T. Estella Six-year-old Flavio is a first grader at the MGC New Life Christian Academy, and tells us how much he enjoys “keeping their pets alive by giving them food and water.” He says he’d like to take care of a female chow chow someday, so he and his brothers can have puppies. On the day of the shoot, though, he had his first chance at playing gaucho, riding a horse for the first time with his brother Marco.

Giustino Edmondo T. Estella 11-year-old G is a fifth grader at the MGC New Life Christian Academy, and shares with his younger brothers custody of lion head rabbits, box turtles, fortune lobsters and a teddy bear hamster. Ever the laidback lad, G enjoys having their pets settled on his lap as they watch some TV, but would like to up the ante someday by taking care of an English bulldog.

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Going to work? Bring your pet with you! At The Office Project co-working space, pets are not only welcome, they’re encouraaged. Text by Ching Dee Photos courtesy of Migi Manalastas, Lyka Orhel and The Office Project

At Makati City’s up-and-coming co-working space, The Office Project, everyday is “Bring Your Pet To Work Day.” The Office Project (TOP) is the realization of interior designer Doreen Adriano (†) and educator Shumate Royo’s dreams of creating a space where freelancers and students can work or study and where start-up companies can hold meetings and events in a more professional setting.

develop, thrive, and even attract global talent,” Royo explains.

secure a guest pass for your pet from the building’s management.

“What we envision for the company—most especially for the community—is to see, discover, and collaborate with local talent. [We hope] ... the revenue from these startups can give back to its local economy,” Royo tells Expat. “We want to live out our manifesto: Grow, connect, lead, repeat.”

“People get so excited,” Royo shares. “Having pets around became a catalyst for conversation between members in the space.

The TOP Team consists of co-founders Doreen and Shumate, Yen Olay (community manager), and John Young (liaison officer). Mike Advincula recently joined the team as the new co-owner and investor of TOP.

With its minimalistic interiors and stunning yet comfortable furniture from Adriano’s design firm Teodora Interiors, excellent service, hi-speed fiber optic Internet connection, and free flowing tea and coffee (the last two elements being the lifeblood of all freelancers), TOP offers more than just a space to get work done. It opens more opportunities for collaboration and growth, fostering a more connected community of freelancers and start-ups.

“We believe innovation starts with creative individuals being able to find each other and build valuable relationships. Co-working spaces are vital hubs for entrepreneurs; a place where creative communities can

Aside from offering a great space where freelancers can thrive, TOP also welcomes their clients’ furry little buddies to tag along inside the co-working studio—just make sure you inform them ahead of time so they can

After months of planning with their investor, the concept for The Office Project was born, and on August 6, 2015, they officially opened TOP Salcedo in Makati.

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Pets are welcome at TOP because “they are just plain adorable.” Freelancers are great when it comes to spending as little as possible, so pet-sitters are usually out of the question, which means their pets usually stay home—alone, doing God-knows-what—when owners need to go out to work or run errands. But thanks to TOP, now you can bring your pet with you when you work—an instant stress reliever in your workspace. The Office Project is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays. TOP is located at the ground floor of Alpha Salcedo Condominium, Bautista cor. Sanchez Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City. For more information, visit

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