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MARCH 2018 / VOL. 36 NO. 3


We the North 14

History, culture, and adventure are often words easily, sometimes mindlessly, thrown around as part of the trappings of travel writing. Bulacan and Ilocos Norte prove such does not apply to them. Allow curiosity to fuel your wandering feet, and explore what Northern Pride is truly about. ---Photo by MARTIN SAN DIEGO courtesy of the North Philippines Visitors Bureau







Bai Hotel

MÖvenpick Resort & Spa Boracay HAPPY HOUR AT WOLFGANG'S

Size, style, substance, and exemplary service— these are just some of elements that have made the new Cebu hotel a byword for the industry.

Discover how the Swiss brand cleverly blends the charm of the tranquil island we once knew, and luxurious urban comforts.

While premium dry-aged steaks will always be the calling card of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, the steakhouse also offers equally exquisite drinks.





can you enjoy the unmistakable warmth and goodness of homestyle Italian cooking?

Philippine city became part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network?

metro multi-functional play space inspires learning through fun and games?

will your favorite pyromusical acts be performing?





MARCH 2018


New Mactan airport terminal set to open mid-2018 By RICHARD RAMOS


s business and tourism in Cebu continue to set new highs on an annual basis, it is of utmost importance that the necessary infrastructure be upgraded constantly in order to cope more effectively with the rising demands of the increasing number of visitors. And at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), renovations have been ongoing since early 2015, particularly in the domestic and international terminals – where widespread improvements have been seen. Right on schedule During a press gathering, GMCAC

EducationUSA Hosts 3rd annual education fair EducationUSA, the US government’s official resource for students interested in pursuing higher education opportunities in the United States, will host its annual university fair in Manila on Thursday, Mar. 8 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. The EducationUSA Fair will be featuring 33 US colleges and universities. The event provides an opportunity for students, parents, and school administrators to interact with university representatives, learn about the US college application process, and identify educational programs and resources available to Filipino students. The free event is open to the public. EducationUSA provides free advising services to prospective international students in more than 170 countries and helps students navigate the five steps to US study—researching schools, financing, completing the application, obtaining a student visa, and preparing for departure—and offers resources and tools for each step. There are more than 4,500 accredited higher education institutions in the US and an EducationUSA adviser can assist students narrow their options, define their priorities, and plan their college careers. The program does not offer scholarships, but can assist students in locating scholarship opportunities as they consider their options for funding a degree. You can find more information about EducationUSA on Facebook @educationusa.philippines and on Twitter @EducationUSA_PH. Attendees are encouraged to register at

(GMR-Cebu Airport Authority) authorities led by GMR President Andrew Harrison reiterated that the upcoming new international terminal would be opening right on schedule on July 1, 2018, despite delays in land acquisition. Costing over PhP17.5 billion, the 65,000-square meter terminal adopts a resort concept, with natural lighting, and polished mother-of-pearl flooring, set as prominent design features. The terminal’s capacity is 4.5 million passengers, with enough expansion room for another 4.5 million people. Harrison noted that the three-story terminal would actually open a month before the July 1 target to test all the processes and operations with different community sectors, and to ensure the efficiency and operability of all the necessary equipment. “We will conduct separate walk-throughs with various stakeholders such as media, business, academe, tourism stakeholders, government, and others. We want them to have a feel of the new terminal at its opening phase. We are also eager to hear feedback from them so we can make the necessary changes,” Harrison bared. The processes mentioned include test flights, baggage claims, power outages, checkins, among others, to ensure minimal inconvenience for passengers. Other airport developments The GMR president also disclosed that the three-story terminal will allot 15,000 square meters for concessionaires to sell topnotch local and duty-free products. Avigael Maningo, junior manager for corporate communications and CSR, announced that the company has conducted sales missions nationwide to promote more local connections from Cebu to places such as Davao, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Tacloban, in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

This led to opportunities for the GMCAC and participating airlines that include Air Swift, Cebu Pacific, PAL, Philippines AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Emirates, and Eva Air to update the attendees of the latest infrastructure developments, and to promote their connections via Cebu. Other airport developments include the creation of two exclusion rooms for passengers on the watch list, and/or those lacking travel requirements. These passengers will be charged PhP5,000 for every 24-hour period, and are allowed to order room service for their meals. Restrooms have also been upgraded to designer comfort rooms for added convenience of the passengers. These include toiletries, diaper changing facilities, better fixtures and lighting, and facilities for PWDs. Baggage claim belts have also been upgraded, while more baggage carts have also been made available. JR Ramos, GMCAC marketing executive, disclosed that the airport already operates 24 hours due to the late evening and early morning flights from China and Korea, along with the domestic red-eye flights. A total of 24 airlines have already established offices in the airport, with more due to arrive within the year. The year 2017 witnessed the entry of six new international airlines, namely Air Juan, Pan Pacific Airlines (Korean), Juneyao, OK Air, Lucky Air, Sichuan Airlines—the last four of which are China-based. GMCAC, the private operator managing MCIA, reached a total of 9.97 million passenger traffic in 2017. This is up 11.72 percent from its total of 8.93 million passengers in 2016. The 9.97-million mark was just a few thousands off its target of 10 million, which would have easily been met had the Abu Sayyaf terrorists not sowed trouble in Bohol,

Andrew Harrison, president of GMR-Megawide, the mother company of GMCAC

and especially in Marawi City. The MCIA also recorded a total of 66,120 domestic flights in 2017, up 17.64 percent from 56,210 in 2016. This translates to an average of 181 daily flights or 7.54 flights per hour. International flights increased 30.84 percent – from 16,390 in 2016 to 21,440 in 2017. This equals an average of 58.7 flights per day. The GMAC is a Filipino-led consortium managing the terminal operations and other related areas of the MCIA. Under the PublicPrivate Partnership framework, the GMR group of India and the Megawide Construction Corporation joint venture will deliver a second terminal and rehabilitate the existing one.

Air Juan lands in SRP Cebu


ir Juan recently launched its new seaplane terminal at the Il Corso, Filinvest area located at the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu to better service the Visayas-Mindanao flying public. Travel time can now be cut down as much as 80-90 percent, as the seaplanes reach its destinations much faster than land transportation and encounter very little to no air traffic. For example, a four to five-hour road trip from Cebu to Kandaya Resort in the northern municipality of Daan Bantayan can be reduced to only 20 minutes. A round trip enables the passenger to save around eight to 10

hours of quality time instead of commuting by bus. According to Capt. John Gutierrez, Air Juan is not a budget airline, and is admittedly the most expensive airline, but provides the most convenience since their planes travel to distant islands and destinations not covered by other airlines. Price


Boarding the seaplane

for a one-way trip is pegged at PhP2,500 to PhP3,000. “Travel time and transfers are cut down drastically since one does not need to take additional transportation. And we fly even with only one passenger aboard, since there may be other passengers waiting at the opposite destination,” he told reporters during a presser held at the Parilya Restaurant. He added that all their seaplane pilots, save for one Filipino, are Canadians who are internationally-rated practitioners with thousands of hours of flying time. Other Air Juan destinations include Camotes Islands in Cebu, Candijay (Anda), Gigantes, Kalanggaman in Leyte, Lakawon, Malapascua and Sumilon (Oslob) in Cebu, and Panglao Island in Bohol. Passengers may also avail of plane and helicopter rentals in their Manila-based hangar. Air Juan is the first seaplane operator in the Philippines and the biggest in Southeast Asia with over 20 scheduled routes.


MARCH 2018

Baguio joins UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network By JV RAMOS


everal titles have been attached to Baguio. Through the years, it’s been referred to as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, the City of Pines, the country’s rainiest city, the melting pot of tribal groups, a haven for artists; and more recently, it has been designated as a UNESCO Creative City. Though this feat was announced in October 2017, it was only in February of this year that the public got a real taste of what it means to be included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Such was aptly revealed through the Baguio Creative Hub, a grand exhibition in Malcolm Square, in which every booth paraded the craft and folk art treasures of the city (this ranges from woodcarving and weaving, to tattoo art and metal crafts), as well as display actual solutions to issues that threaten the destination’s creative development.

Creative continuity Central to these issues is the matter of continuity – how ancient art practices could be passed from one generation to another, and keep up with the times. For some parties, the solution is innovation or to come up with products that are in line with current trends. For instance, Baguio’s weavers, while upholding the practice of using locally sourced cotton and dyes, come up with pieces of clothing that have modern fashion cuts, as well as dolls wearing traditional clothing. Same goes for the silver craftsmen and the woodcarvers. The former have come up with everyday jewelry, while the latter’s inventory includes furniture and not just the popular bulols (carved wooden figure). ‘A City of the Future’ While being part of the UCCN entails

that Baguio would be exchanging notes regarding experiences, knowledge, and best practices with other Creative Cities across the globe, it’s important to underscore that with Baguio, being a UNESCO Creative City begins at home – with local stakeholders having to come together for creative sustainability. Baguio Creative Council Chair Adelaida Lim makes an excellent point regarding this, saying, “The UNESCO designation of Baguio as a Creative City is not an award or prize for something that we have already achieved. Rather, it’s a recognition of what we can do in the future. It highlights what we have yet to accomplish, not what we have already done. Baguio, the Creative City, is a city of the future. It has to be imagined and brought into being.” Aside from innovative thinking, Lim mentions social equity, environmental sus-

tainability, and economic opportunity as key factors in achieving a Creative Baguio. Baguio is the first Philippine city to be named a UNESCO Creative City. As of writing, there are only six in the whole of Southeast Asia included in the UCCN: Bandung and Pekalongan (Indonesia), Chiang Mai and Phuket (Thailand), and Singapore. Apart from Baguio, 63 other cities worldwide were included in the UCCN in October 2017.

Baguio weavers use locally-sourced dyes and cotton to come up with products with a modern twist The city's cool weather is said to awaken the creativity of its people. Here's a contemporary wooden sculpture by a Baguio-based artist

A tribal priest performs ritual to welcome good fortune for the future of Baguio as a UNESCO creative city

Australia and WFP provide meals to 50K Marawi school children


he Australian Government has provided PhP42.7 million (AU$1.1 million) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to support the Philippine Government’s response to the Marawi crisis. With this funding, WFP will be able to provide six months of school meals for 50,000 students affected by the crisis. “As a good friend and neighbor, Australia is committed to providing humanitarian assistance when necessary,” said Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely. “Through our partnership with the Department of Education and Task Force Bangon Marawi, we are supporting people affected by the Marawi crisis.” Australia has supported early recovery activities by addressing the immediate food needs of people affected by the crisis. In addition to school meals, Australia’s support will provide food assistance for nearly 23,000 households and 8,100 vulnerable laborers and farmers. Australia’s support will likewise contribute to peace and stability in the area, and allow students to finish the academic school year. “Education plays an important role in community-building. We’re pleased these emergency school meals will support students’ education and development,” added

Ambassador Gorely. In July 2017, Australia donated rice, which was prepositioned and used to feed more than 57,000 primary and secondary students in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Australia later contributed an additional PhP19 million (AU$500,000) to WFP, which supported the general food distribution carried out by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. This provided rice to 11,000 households in Lanao del Sur from August to December 2017. “We are grateful for our strategic partnership with the Australian Government which allowed us to immediately respond to the Marawi crisis through rice that was prepositioned at the onset of the emergency,” said Stephen Gluning, WFP Representative and Country Director. “Australia’s support of emergency school meals will enable students to continue their studies while being nourished with a daily meal.” Since June 2017, the Philippine Government and WFP have distributed rice to about 128,000 people and provided school meals to more than 57,000 students in the country. WFP is mobilizing additional resources to cover the needs of its current operations until May 2018, including early recovery activities that involve food and cash-based assistance.

444 A Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, Barangay Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City, Philippines

Email: Website: Facebook: One World School Philippines Instagram: oneworldschool_philippines

MARCH 2018



Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino recently feted the Chinese New Year of the Dog with a lavish ceremony. A colorful dragon dance jumpstarted the event as its dancers snaked through the lobby amidst amused guests and clashing drums and cymbals. This was followed by appetizing buffet spreads laid out in Café Uno, and many more in the lobby to cater to the guest overflowing by the hundreds, and enticing many more onlookers to join. A splendid fireworks display at the hotel grounds later caused nearly everyone to leave the lobby to witness the kaleidoscope of colors and explosions in the evening skies—a finale like no other as the hotel continues to outdo itself year after Chinese New Year in terms of sight, sound, spectacle, and sustenance. Maayo Hotel, located along Plaridel St. in Mandaue City, hosted light cocktails for selected media guests. Dimsum favorites were served in line with the hotel’s recognition as probably the first wellness hotel in the country. Facilities include a clinic for light medical and surgical treatments, gym, yoga room, fitness pool, and an upcoming spa to cater to its select clientele. After the locals, its top markets are comprised of Americans, British, and Australians, with very few coming from Asia. Though just a few months old, expect three more branch-

es to rise this year in Cebu province – one in the southern town of Argao for backpackers, a wellness center in Badian situated deeper south, and a third one in the northern town of San Remigio. Ching Palace, situated along Salinas Lahug, recently hosted a delightful foodtasting event for the media. Menu was a yummy mix of classic dishes plus fusion novelties that couldn’t help but impress our “test” buds. Appetizers consisted of chicken seaweeds mango cold cuts, a surprising combo of ingredients one doesn’t normally see. Soup was the golden mushroom seafood (nourishing). Main courses were the crispy pork belly (fitting description for the writer’s stomach), fried garoupa with pickled mango (the crowd favorite!), hot soybean paste noodle (right spiciness), fried chicken rice (heavier than you think), and the stuffed squid flower in dried scallop sauce (creativity galore!). Kaiser Medical Center, Inc. inaugurated its third branch in the Philippines, and its second branch in Cebu. Situated at the lower ground floor of SM Seaside City, the establishment offers diagnostics and consultancy services daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Medical director is Dr. Rodrigo C. Rodrigo, head of the Makati City branch. The center boasts five consultation rooms and

an in-house physician, among many other amenities. Sister company is the Kaiser International Health Care. Take note that the clinic entrance (Unit 0242-0246) is accessible only from outside the mall, beside the grocery section. Watch for the opening of its fourth branch, situated in SM City Cebu due to open within the year. Honestbee, Asia’s leading online grocery concierge service, was formally launched last month at the Summit Galleria Hotel in Cebu. Claiming to combine convenience and efficiency, the app has partnered with over 50 groceries including Robinson’s Supermarket and Selections, Ministop, Echostore, and even public markets in Carbon and Tabo-an. Partner restaurants include Handuraw Pizza, S & R, Casa Dos, and others. Concierge shoppers are trained to handpick all grocery needs, take note of expiration dates, and look for fitting substitutes in the name of superior customer service. Plans are afoot to soon expand service to nearby destinations such as Talisay, Mactan, Tabunok, and Pardo. Pearl Purino Campbell, a Cebuana who has spent the last decade of her life as a psychotherapist in the US military, recently launched her book “To Love Again.” Dwelling on familial love, the book tells the story of Gia who embarks on a journey to dis-

cover for herself her grandmother’s world, and unwittingly, charts her own destiny in love. It is a riveting story of love, passion, and commitment that transcends time and space. The author has worked in four continents and is an experienced counselor for victims of sexual assault, substance abuse, mental illness, and has worked with suicide prevention, and young parenthood. She has an MA in Psychology and a PhD in Counseling and Family Therapy from St. Louis University. She is the mother of two sons and a grandmother of three. University of San Carlos School of Business Economics (USC-SBE), Santa Clara University (SCU), and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) have shared their resources to promote social entrepreneurship to help uplift the lives of the poor in the country. USC-SBE will introduce a new college course on Social Entrepreneurship this coming school year (August 2018) integrating two subjects into the Business Administration curriculum. A long-term goal is the creation of a Center for Social Entrepreneurship to mobilize resources and implement related initiatives. The three bodies also organized the International Conference on Business and Economy, with over 300 local and international delegates present and over 100 papers disseminated to the audience.

Bai Hotel A new byword FOR the industry By RICHARD RAMOS


ocated along the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue City, the biggest hotel in the Visayas-Mindanao region is quickly losing its “best-kept secret” tag after becoming one of the fastest-rising hotels in the industry. Bai Hotel isn’t just the new kid on the block, the hotel is practically the entire block! Power player Bai Hotel’s majestic presence, especially at night, often merits lingering stares from motorists and the riding public alike. And not a few of those lingering stares have led to curious first-timers, and beaming customers at that – for one just cannot ignore the hotel’s 22 stories, 668 rooms, and eight food and beverage outlets. Also playing a huge part in Bai Hotel’s draw was its PhP2017 room promos last year.

Hundreds of eager patrons snapped up the sheer size, Bai Hotel also exudes blissful vouchers deemed perfect for a family treat or warmth and exceptional service brought a valuable present. This also set up the patrons about by its well-trained staff—Five-star serto sample the exquisite food and beverage vice minus the fuss, as they say. Nothing but outlets of the hotel; particularly Ume Japa- good old-fashioned Cebuano hospitality nese Cuisine, Marble + Grain Steakhouse, (“bai” means “friend” in Cebuano). and most especially, the all-buffet Café Bai. So what does the future hold for the hotel? Comments from the patrons centered Nothing less than being a central figure in a mostly on Bai Hotel’s good, secure location, with less traffic, good selection of restaurants, and accessibility to the airport. Sweetening the pot is the fact that the hotel is just a few minutes walk away from the lifestyle options of two nearby malls. While its roof deck infinity pool has become a hotspot for staycations, and InstaDespite still being in its nascent stages, Bai Hotel has gram posts. Apart from its already been inundated with superlatives by its guests.

new central business district (CBD) in Mandaue City. The hotel aims to play a major role in the upcoming business and commercial hub situated in a quieter part of the city. Despite still being in its nascent stages, its combination of size and style, service and substance, proximity and amity—all of which will soon make Bai Hotel rise far above the field.

MARCH 2018

FEATURES 5 WingWalkers dazzle at Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

And inspire learning through fun and games By SEAN T. NEPOMUCENO


arents are often told that the best way to help their kids learn is by allowing their little warriors to explore and experience things first hand through play. Learning starts from the moment kids are born, so it’s very important for parents to be able to provide them with tools and platforms that will allow them to unleash their potential. And just when you thought you’ve seen and experienced basically everything that established play spaces in the metro can offer, along comes a new “play arena” that promises a lot more for your children than just a fun-filled play day. PLAY at Okada Manila goes beyond the industry standard with a full line of dedicated learning programs aimed at enhancing the holistic development of children. The programs The facility offers four dedicated learning programs designed to address the developmental needs of children: Colors and Creations, an arts and crafts program designed to develop creativity and imagination by improving the use of motor skills through detailing, color coordination and artistic impression, along with work behavior like sitting tolerance, focus, and concentration; Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, a program aimed at enhancing the child’s development as they explore the world around them. This also includes sessions for caregivers to stay updated and improve their communication, child-minding, and domestic engineering skills, as well as one-on-one sessions for specific academic tutorial (math, science, and reading) and special needs therapy (occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy); Music and Movement, which helps harness and showcase the natural talent of kids through group sessions focused on dance, music, and the performance arts; and Life Skills, where kids are trained with classes that focus on practical matters, such as social graces, good housekeeping, creative writing skills, anti-bullying, natural remedies, aromatherapy, and personal nutrition.

Play spaces PLAY has also been designed to become a multi-functional platform that addresses the recreation and learning needs of kids aged 1 to 16 years old. It boasts of eight purpose-built play areas that will reward kids with all the fun and adventure they crave for. The Wizard’s Den is an interactive video game space where kids use gestures to defeat mythical creatures; Mini Steps & Mini Me is a dedicated play and learning space for children aged 0 to 3 years old; Little Town provides children hands-on experience in banking, postal, school, grocery, and home environment play settings that allow them to gain valuable learning and practical insights into every day grown-up life; Little Park is a two-level playground and maze, where toddlers can spend their limitless energy and explore their physical strength; Sports Zone is an active zone with artificial grass court for sports; Janguru is another multi-level playground and maze, this time, for kids over 110 centimeters; The Stage is where kids can unleash their inner performer and cultivate their singing, dancing, acting, and public speaking skills; and My Party Place serves as a gaming and events space that can host birthday parties, corporate events, team-building activities, or any other special occasion. PLAY at Okada is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 12 midnight, Fridays and Saturdays. Visit and take the first big step towards e n jo y i ng purposeful learning and activities for your young warriors at PLAY.


he Flying Circus Aerosuperbatics WingWalkers treated attendees of the 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta to an exciting aerial exhibition last month. The six-man team composed of two mechanics, two pilots, and two wing walkers, which has performed at over 2,500 different events and watched by over six million spectators each year in the UK alone, were treated, in turn, to not only the heat of the Clark Freeport Zone, but

the trademark warmth of Filipino hospitality. “Definitely, drop of a hat, I would come back here for a holiday but obviously it’s great to bring the aircraft because people don’t really see them,” Chief Engineer and Pilot David Barrell of the WingWalkers said. The WingWalkers performed a sequence of breathtaking acrobatic maneuvers and handstands while strapped to the top wings of the team’s Boeing Stearman biplanes.

MARCH 2018


Food Fit for Mama:


YOUR LOCAL GUIDE The Philippines’ forum for international readers since 1981

Discover Chef Paolo Nesi’s newest culinary venture and feast on food made with love and flair

Murray Hertz Founding Publisher (1928-2014) Butch C. Bonsol President & Managing Director Suzette Defensor Managing Consultant Timothy Jay Araneta Ibay Editor-in-Chief Richard A. Ramos (Cebu) Via Baroma Staff Writers Angie Duarte Writer-at-Large Nikki Joy Habana Macjanry Imperio Design & Layout Leah Egamino-Palaña Sales & Advertising Officer Fevelyn Bucio Admin and Accounting Vicky Soto Sales & Advertising Executive Our Headquarters: Unit 305 Cristina Condominium, 143 Legaspi cor. V.A. Rufino Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City Our telephone numbers: (+632) 840-2996 or (+632) 812-0987 You can also reach us at: and for sales and advertising: Cebu Mailing Address: MJ. Cuenco Avenue cor. C. Mina St., Mabolo, Cebu City Telefax: (032) 412-8000



do not serve anything that my mother would not eat!” Chef Paolo Nesi always says of the food that he offers at any of his renowned restaurants. In fact, a plaque of this motto hangs in the kitchens of his dining establishments. The saying is at once the crux of his food philosophy as well as the apex of his expert culinary flair. You see, Chef Paolo – as any truly talented, self-respecting Italian chef would – cooks with skill, love, and passion. He cooks from his heart, to the delight and utter enjoyment of his Mama – and of foodies across the metro. Chef Paolo’s newest gastronomic venture, Prego Trattoria & Cicchetteria at SM Aura’s Sky Park, is no exception to this simple yet staunch standard. Prego? Prego! First things first, one should know that the word Prego carries a wealth of meaning and interesting nuances. As a question, it asks “Can I help you?” and as an exclamation, it declares “Yes, you may!” It is a word for “Cheers!” as well as for “You’re welcome!” Prego is the embodiment of the Italian way of life, which is vibrant, vivid, and vivacious. One should know this, because such is the spirit that pervades Prego Trattoria & Cicchetteria. The restaurant, which opened in December 2017 and was officially launched in February of this year, is the perfect venue for intimate dinners with loved ones, as well as for joyful family celebrations or nights out with friends. It also works for all your no-occasion “I just want good food!” moments. After all, between the cozy ambiance, mouthwatering Italian fare, and extensive selection of wines and spirits, the restaurant easily provides the perfect setting for reveling in special moments, as well as for relishing the daily pleasures of life. Home-style Italian cooking When speaking of Italian cuisine, the

Making Mama proud Simply put, a visit to Prego Trattoria & Cicchetteria is a foray into the robust and delicious Italian way of life. Plus, you can choose how you wish to savor your slice of Italy – aside from its small plates, the restaurant also offers large, family-style platters and bespoke deli platters, which make for perfect wine pairings. And, since the restaurant has two separate areas, you can opt to have your

meal in the delistyle section, or at the casual dining and al fresco side across the hall. Moreover, dishes are reasonably priced Prego Trattoria's succulent Rib Eye steak and won’t burn through your “dineout” budget Perhaps best of all, though, is that when you sit to eat at Prego Trattoria & Cicchetteria, it is as though you sit to eat at the Nesi family table, sampling food that might very well be served in Chef Paolo’s own household. Once again, Chef Paolo has made his Mama proud, to the benefit of those with a hankering for all things delicious. Prego Trattoria & Cicchetteria is located at Sky Park Dining, 5th Level of SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway, Taguig.

Chef Paolo carves slices of choice Italian ham from Preg Tratoria's deli

Lunch is served at the Champagne Room

Statements, views and opinions expressed by the writers, contributors, and advertisers are their own and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or the management. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material.

concept of a trattoria embraces a more casual and homey feel to dining. A cicchetteria, on the other hand, refers to small plates. As Chef Paolo explains: “Trattoria means ‘casual restaurant’ focused on home-style healthy meals with a large offering of different Italian Salamis, Cured Hams and marinated vegetables served on wooden plates with homemade bread. Customers can design the composition of their gastronomy platter by selecting the different cold cuts and vegetables from the display or from the menu. Cicchetteria is for Venice what a Tapas bar is for Barcelona. Prego Trattoria takes inspiration from it and offers most of the dishes in bite sizes as well, promoting a dining experience that focuses on sharing and variety.” Since the restaurant’s opening, the influx of diners has been steadily increasing. More and more lovers of Chef Paolo’s trademark lightly prepared, yet perfectly balanced dishes are coming in for favorites such as the delectable array of home-made ravioli pastas in smooth, savory sauces, or for the scrumptious 20-egg yolk Tajerin al Tartufo white truffle pasta. Succulent and flavorful rich rib-eye steak is likewise a must-try, along with the trattoria’s appetite-opening antipasto platters, and the cured ham degustacion platter. And what’s a lovely meal without an equally irresistible dessert to top it off? Heed some good advice and leave room for the Tartufo Nero cake and the affogato gelato – you won’t be sorry you indulged in these Italian sweet treats.


he Manila Hotel’s premier fine dining restaurant, the Champagne Room recently opened its luxurious doors for lunch. Diners can now indulge in a special semi-buffet menu, which offers of a thoughtful selection of delectable appetizers and a soup de jour. The lunch set also includes one of the Champagne Room’s signature entrees and dessert, served with coffee or tea. The Champagne Room’s lunch menu can be enjoyed Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The premier lunch set starts at PhP1,800 nett. About the Champagne Room Over the past century, the

Baked Cheese Cake Japanese Style

Champagne Room has played a vital role in the rich history of Manila’s social scene. Its patrons, over the years, translate to a litany of the country’s who’s who – from politicians and foreign dignitaries, to executives, and the cognoscenti of the finer things. The Champagne Room has managed to sustain its timeless beauty, and its stature as the fine dining restaurant of choice for the most discerning guests who put a premium on the blend of exquisitely prepared dishes,

excellent service, and understated ambience of luxury. With its lavish décor that features crystal palm trees and tasseled ceiling fixtures, paired with top-notch service, and sumptuous culinary creations – the Champagne Room has come to embody the Manila Hotel’s penchant for providing guests with only the finest experiences that often lead to lasting memories. The Champagne Room is located at One Rizal Park, Manila. For reservations and more information, contact (02) 527-0011 ext. 1262 to 1264, or send an email to restaurantrsvn@

Grilled Prawns Cumin & Garlic Spiced

MARCH 2018






hile premium dry-aged steaks will always be the calling card of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, those who overlook the fact that it is also home to a wide selection of wines, cocktails, spirits, and beer would be largely mistaken. Its proclivity for curating top shelf drinks can be evidenced by the recognitions it got from wine and wine culture lifestyle magazine Wine Spectator. In 2016 and 2017, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse’s Resorts World location received a one-goblet rating from Wine Spectator—a recognition given to establishments that feature a discriminating assortment of wines from the world’s best producers.


Wolfgang’s Steakhouse’s Resorts World location received a one-goblet rating from Wine Spectator—a recognition given to establishments that feature a discriminating assortment of wines from the world’s best producers.


This penchant for offering exquisite libation extends from its wine cellar to its long wooden bar, which boasts equally tasteful cocktails. And with Wolfgang’s Steakhouse’s Happy Hour, you can drop by any of their two Philippine locations – Resort’s World (3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday) and at The Podium (3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., Monday to Friday) – to enjoy their fine selection of drinks at special prices.

A drink that can only be found in Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Philippines, this refreshing cocktail begins with Botanist Gin, muddled strawberries, a nice tartness from juiced Ruby red grapefruit, a dash of freshly cracked pepper, a dash of balsamic vinegar for a subtle zing, sweetness from Wolfgang’s Steakhouse’s infused thyme syrup, finished with a splash of Fever Tree Ginger Beer to round out the slight earthiness.


Wolfgang's Steakhouse The Podium's well-stocked bar

2 ESPRESSO MARTINI Because it’s always a good time for an Espresso Martini. This concoction is a blend of Stolichnaya Vodka, Kahlua, and espresso for that perfectly buzzing kick.

3 JALISCO SPIKE A recipe originally from Wolfgang's Steakhouse's Japan locations, the drink is made with 1800 Reposado Tequila, Crème de Casis, house-made all spice syrup, lime juice, saline solution, ginger. The tequila’s kick is enhanced by the fresh and robust spice of ginger, as well as the house-made all-spice syrup. To add an extra layer of flavor, black currant liqueur is added together with the fresh lime juice, while saline solution made from Prague salt gives the drink a distinctly dry and salty finish.

MARCH 2018



Changing the Tune of Boracay Text by JV RAMOS


ou can’t deny it! Despite the numerous changes, and frequently overwhelming crowds that Boracay entertains, it remains to be one of the Philippines’ memorable and must-visit destinations. And with the entry of the Swiss brand, Mövenpick, Boracay can now be experienced differently, as their recently opened beachfront resort cleverly blends the charm of the tranquil island we once knew, and the luxurious urban comforts we seek nowadays. Grub paddling The escape from the rowdy and crammed is achieved, of course, through its location at the island’s northwest coast. Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay overlooks the waters of Punta Bunga Cove, which parades a 200-meter private stretch of white sand beach. Here, as the resort staffers would repeatedly say, guests wouldn’t have to fight for their own slice of paradise, as well as their own space in the pristine waters. And in the unlikely case that space does not suffice, Mövenpick has also got the largest swimming pool in the island. Multi-leveled and 3,300 square meters in size, the pool, which is at the resort’s center, connects many of the resort’s superb dining destinations. If tourists go food hopping at the party side of Boracay; here, they go food paddling – people literally swim from one dining area to another.   Topping their eat list is the Italian restaurant Brezza, where The Beast, a wood-fired oven from Napoli, could be found. This oven, which is monstrous in size and temperament, is responsible for the sumptuous, authentic yet quickly served pizzas (Expat witnessed that it only takes The Beast less than a minute to do its work). To add to that, Brezza offers all sorts of antipasti that pairs well with their amazing collection of wines and spirits. Another dining highlight is Mövenpick’s The Café. Don’t let its ordinary name fool you, as this lounging venue serves freshly baked goodies and Filipino  merienda  (snack) favorites, along with the best coffees and teas. Speaking of merienda, The Café upholds the  Mövenpick tradition of Chocolate Hour: Before the sun sets, the café serves a selection of chocolate specialties, which resort guests can enjoy for free.

“It’s a proud moment for us to officially launch this incredible property,” expresses Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay general manager Albert Ocasio. “And we are sure that guests from around the world will be delighted to stay here and enjoy the natural beauty, delicious food, warm hospitality and varied attractions that make Boracay one of the world’s most attractive destinations.” Local touch Wondering what makes  Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay different from the other Mövenpick properties?  Its uniqueness comes from its local sensibilities. Aside from coming up with a property design that emphasizes, rather than alters, the beauty of Boracay, this beach resort also showcases the warm hospitality of the locals, while reviving beloved traditions. Since it opened its doors last December,  Mövenpick, whose team members are mostly from the local communities, have been surprising foreign guests (Ocasio reveals that the resort has been entertaining guests from Europe, Greater Asia and the Americas) with their unwavering smiles and proactive service. As for the revival of old traditions, this is experienced mostly in their wellness offerings. Sagay Spa, the name of which is derived from the Aklanon word for shell, reintroduces local methods for body treatments. For instance, their Sagay

Signature Massage revives the practice of applying heated white shells – a material that’s abundant in Boracay – to one’s body. And then, there’s the traditional hilot (ancient art of healing  using plants or alternative medicine), uses tuba-tuba leaves rather than the usual banana leaves. Both wellness services are said to be more effective in relaxing the body’s muscles. Apart from focusing on employing locals, the resort has also gone out of its way to give back to the community. As Ocasio reveals: “We are active members of the Boracay Foundation and work with other key locators in the island towards improving services, facilities and infrastructure within the island. We also work with the local church and our neighbors in Barangay Yapak for outreach and educational programs for the community youth.”   A celebration of firsts and more Apart from its large pool, seven diverse dining places, and Sagay Spa, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay also has a fitness center, a playground for kids, facilities for special events and meetings can be held, and the Sol Marina Beach Club, which is designed to host local and international performers. During its recent grand launch, , the Sol Marina Beach Club featured Boracay fire dancers, wheel stunts, aerial dancers, showgirls, drumbeaters, a spectacular display of fireworks, and renowned

DJ Tom Taus.   “Before the grand launch, we have already experienced our first Christmas, our first New Year. After the grand launch, you’d think that things would slow down, but it won’t. Nowadays, there’s no such thing in Boracay. It seems to be always the peak season,” quips the resort’s marketing communications manager Kristine. “Many firsts will come right after. There’s Valentine’s, then our first Laboracay. It’s going to be very busy, but we’re very excited for all of it!”   Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay is 30 minutes away from the Caticlan Airport. For more information, visit boracay.

Mövenpick's massive pool also serves as the resort's dining center

MARCH 2018


The charm of island living Imagine the sweetness of doing nothing and the satisfaction of doing everything. It is an art you can discover and perfect at Bluewater Panglao. By VIA BAROMA


ith the poetic backdrop of breathtaking sunrises and sunsets; the mix of the cool ocean breeze and the gorgeous bay where sun, sand and sea blend beautifully, Bluewater Panglao was designed to integrate Bohol's culture and natural beauty perfectly. The resort is a luxurious getaway that soothes the soul and sates the senses. And, being just around an hour and a half ’s flight away from Metro Manila, it is a slice of paradise within reach. Bluewater touch Located right in the heart of Panglao Island in Bohol, Bluewater Panglao is a sixhectare resort that’s an ideal springboard to the renowned island’s white sand beaches, pristine waters, and marine sanctuaries. Its understated luxury boasts Bluewater Resorts Group’s distinct Filipino warmth environed by the resort’s organic, yet elegant setting. As soon as you into the reception area, your attention is captured by Bluewater Panglao’s enticing lagoon-shaped pool, which also serves as the centerpiece for the surrounding villas, and assurance of the rejuvenating leisure that awaits. The sliding glass door of the poolside villas gives guests both an airy ambience, and a relaxing view. What I found fascinating was how the villas were designed to combine openness, with privacy and intimacy. Draw the curtains close and you are back into your own cozy haven. Discovering the other side of Bohol Whether you crave the sensation of having sand between your toes as you breathe in the cool ocean breeze; yearn to get lost while staring at unique landscapes; or feel the rush of exhilarating adventures—Bohol is sure to give you that fix, whichever you prefer. And Bluewater Panglao serves up the offerings of the island on a platter by arranging different tours with their partners – meaning that all you need to do to drink up all Bohol has to offer, is ask. While its Chocolate Hills, and tarsier sanctuaries have long been two of Bohol’s main draws, tourists have continually enjoyed the island's emerging attractions. One such destination is the laidback town of Candijay, some two and a half hours from Bluewater Panglao. The Cadapdapan Rice Terraces’ soothing

shades of green entice introspection almost as much as it does awe. Formed from elevated areas that were converted into farmlands by the natives a long time ago, the rice terraces offer a glimpse into the locals’ relationship with their land—the hues of green symbolizing hope, while the occasional golden amber reminding them of nature’s treasures. A 15-minute trek down the Cadapdapan Rice Terraces, is where you’ll find Can-Umantad Falls. The cascade is 60 feet high, and is said to be the tallest waterfall in Bohol. It features has a long narrow cascade that bursts when it hits a bulbous mound that spreads the water into a canopy for what serves a splash pool. For more adventures, there is the neighboring town of Anda, which apart from being famous for its long stretch of white sand beach, hosts several mini caves near the sea. Some of the more notable ones are Combento Cave, which features a dome-like formation, and a pool of crystal clear water; while Cabugnaw Cave, the deepest cave pool in Anda with portions said to be 25 feet deep, is fast becoming a destination for thrill seekers for cliff diving. Relax. Breathe deeply. Embrace the moment. Whether you’re planning for a laid-back holiday, or looking for one jam-packed with adventure, Bohol is where a vacation of peak perfection awaits. Bluewater Panglao is located at Sitio Daurong, Danao, Panglao Island, Bohol. For bookings, and more information, call (038) 416-0702 or (038) 416-0696; email panglao@bluewater.; or visit

Can-Umantad Falls is 60 feet high and is said to be the tallest waterfall in Bohol

The villas imbue Bluewater Panglao's understated luxury

Virgin Island's mix of powdery white sand, and calming waters that mirrors the sky never fails to draw tourists in

Accentuated by well-placed lighting, the lagoon-shaped pool and the surrounding villas is further brought to life at night

MARCH 2018


A Night of Smiles


National Day of the Kingdom of Thailand


ne of the most significant days in Thailand was celebrated last Dec. 5 at the Mayuree Ballroom of Dusit Thani Manila when Thai Ambassador Thanatip Upatising hosted a reception celebrating the National Day of the Kingdom of Thailand. Dec. 5th also marks the Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and Thailand’s Father’s Day. His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is widely recognized for his efforts to improve the welfare and quality of life of his people by using his distinct Sufficiency and Economy philosophy. The philosophy is largely based on the underlying principles of moderation, reasonableness, prudence, and self-immunity.

As members of the Diplomatic Corps are wont to do, Ambassador Upatising used the Manila celebration to highlight the rich and vibrant culture of Thailand – with a sumptuous Thai cuisine spread – while also giving a nod to the continually strengthening diplomatic ties between his country and the Philippines. When Thailand and the Philippines signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1949, it was the first time the latter established formal diplomatic relations with a state in Southeast Asia. To the good Ambassador Upatising, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Thailand, and its people, Expat belatedly congratulates you on your National Day!

Advantage Sports & Leisure General Manager Jeremy Rollin and Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev

(Ret.) Ambassador Mme. Lizia Lu and Dutch Ambassador Marion Angeles Rubio Santocildes; DFA Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia; and First Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Ezzat and Jordan Consul Michael Derckx Alexander Ang Secretary of Japan Embassy Naohito Izumikawa

Angeles Rubio Santocildes; DFA Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia; and Minister Counsellor of Thailand Urawadee Sriphiromya

EU Ambassador Franz Jessen and Portugal Consul Tony Rufino

EU Ambassador Franz Jessen; Mme. Wang Qi; Minister Counsellor of Thailand Urawadee Sriphiromya; and Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev

Mme. Monthip Upatising; Togo Consul Evie Costa; and Thai Ambassador Thanatip Upatising

Expat's Butch Bonsol; US Ambassador Sung Kim; and Korean Ambassador Kim Jae-Shin

Togo Consul Evie Costa; Georgette Wilson; Connie Garcia; Nancy Tan; and Johnny Litton

Portugese Consul Tony Rufino; US Ambassador Sung Kim; and President of SM Prime Holdings Hans Sy

The ceremonial toast was led by Thai Ambassador Thanatip Upatising and DFA Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia

Thai Ambassador Thanatip Upatising was joined by Mme. Monthip Upatising and DFA Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia onstage

Monaco Consul Fortune Ledesma; Gambia Consul Agnes Huibonhoa; Connie Garcia; and Togo Consul Evie Costa

MARCH 2018


A Myriad of Flavors


ood aficionados experienced Cebu’s flavorful offerings as Marco Polo Plaza Cebu (MPPC), the only 5-star hotel in Cebu City, launched Signature Six, a delectable array of guest favorites, bestsellers, and hotel-wide signature items. Welcomed by general manager Brian Connelly and director of sales and marketing Lara Constantino-Scarrow to MPPC’s top-notch signature outlet Café Marco, Cebuanos and Cebu explorers enjoyed the Signature Six offerings which included Filipino favorite Adobo dishes, the Lobby Lounge’s sweet and fluffy Ensaimadas, the creamy and luscious Mango Cheesecake, the award-winning Malicious Cookies, the meticulously prepared Earl Grace Iced Tea, and the newly introduced blended iced frappuccino Silk Road Iced Coffee. Congratulations to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu for a successful Signature Six launch!

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu (MPPC) director of sales and marketing Lara Constantino-Scarrow, Dr. Nestor Alonso and MPPC communications manager Manna Alcaraz

(Seated) Nelia Neri, Chinggay Utzurrum and Flor Ynclino with (standing) Cookie Newman, Manna Alcaraz and Lara Constantino-Scarrow

MPPC events and promotions manager Barbie Burchards and graphic artist Jhon Pino with MJ Yuvallos

(From left) Dr. Nestor Alonso, Manna Alcaraz, MPPC PRO Febe Campañon, Katrina Enrera and MPPC e-marketing manager Yumny Mariot

Marco Paulo Diala, Katrina Enrera and Doyzkie Buenaviaje

Margaux Camaya with Lara Constantino-Scarrow

Marlen and Max Limpag

Neil Savellon enjoys a refreshing glass of Silk Road Iced Coffee, a blended iced frappuccino created from overnight-infused coffee, flavored with cinnamon syrup and milk and topped with marshamallow and Italian meringues

The sweet and creamy Mango Cheesecake is a delectable dessert topped with luscious Cebu mangoes and a crust of crushed chocolate chip cookies

The award-winning Malicious Cookies is a crowd favorite dessert made of rich cookie dough combined with maliciously good chocolate chips

MARCH 2018











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MARCH 2018




f a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, can it set off a tornado in Texas?” – A question the Butterfly Effect, a tenet of Chaos Theory, poses. To take off from this statement, I ask “If a member of a gargantuan luxury hotel chain orders the snatching of the cats of BGC, will its effect be felt across the nation? Across the globe, even?” The answer is a resounding YES. You see, Chaos Theory is the science of the unexpected. It holds that we should actually expect the unexpected; that surprises should no longer catch us off guard, as these outcomes are, indeed, predictable. That CATastrophes can be understood – if we come to terms with the fact that everything is interconnected. There’s no pussyfooting around this reality. The comparison is a stretch however, because while a butterfly flapping its wings is an occurrence beyond our control, the luxury hotel in question should have had their actions under control – but they didn’t, which makes the folly even more glaring. Of course, the management of the Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila also should have expected that their actions would incense the community of cat lovers (and animal lovers, in general) across the metro and beyond its borders. But, perhaps their pride, under the leadership (misguidance might be a better word, given the outcome) of GM John Rice, got in the way of better judgment. For the benefit of those who may not have heard the story, here’s a bit of a backgrounder of the situation that had me – and thousands upon thousands of others like me – going extra manic in Manila in the month of February. Beloved Catizens Upscale Bonifacio Global City, in the heart of Taguig, has made its mark on our collective urban consciousness for a variety of reasons: its vibrant graffiti art, neat and clean surroundings, well-curated selection of lifestyle haunts, and – more notably on

the list – its animal-friendly atmosphere. A highlight of the latter were the cats of BGC, a colony of friendly feline furballs who were part of the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (or Release) program of CARA Philippines. The cats had slinked and sauntered, moseyed and meowed their way into the hearts of the community, where they were loved by many. Much like the cat colony in Disneyland in California, the cats of BGC had become quite the attraction. In February, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, although some reports say that the misdeeds started towards the end of January, the Shangri-La at the Fort contracted PestBusters Philippines to “relocate” the 38 cats. Relocate was the word they used to mean “dispose of,” really. You see, the hotel deemed the cats a nuisance to their aesthetic and prestigious establishment – so they sought to take matters into their own hands. Little did the hotel’s management realize that they had begun flapping their wings and that this flapping was to herald a maelstrom of their own making. A series of ‘uninformed’ events Rice claims that he was “unaware” of what the pest control company would do to the cats – that he was not in the know that there was no “real relocation” here in the third world. Well, now, pardon his firstworld sensibility, but is his ignorance excusable? You be the judge. But, common sense should have given him a clue that a pest control company would likely not be in the business of relocation. Further, how does one get to be GM of such a large hotel if one cannot even manage to contact a reputable supplier for his hotel’s needs? Or, at the very least, to find out exactly what kind of service you were contracting for your establishment? Additionally, why did Rice not course the matter through the proper channels? The cats were in the care of two organizations, CARA and the Cats of BGC. Not to mention, the mall administration itself very much aware of the cat colony’s presence

and could have helped address the situation properly. Of course, there is the ignorance, as well, of just how effective the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return program is for the community. This process not only keeps the cat population healthy and manageable, it also keeps the rat population at bay, effectively staving off rat-borne diseases. Plus, the presence of a spayed cat colony is a deterrent to feral cats. Countries with progressive mindsets, when it comes to animal rights, are well-aware of all these facts, and a simple Google search would have helped Rice make a better judgment call. Backlash The sudden disappearance of the community’s beloved cats sparked an outrage, online and off, that caused the hotel’s ratings to plummet almost overnight – with its star rankings on Facebook dropping to 1.8 out of 5, and angry, negative reviews totaling 8,000 in a span of hours. As of this writing, those opposed to the hotel and its actions have logged 11,000 negative reviews and ratings, causing the establishment’s overall ranking to freefall to 1.1 stars of 5. Further, positive reviews have been retracted by many disillusioned patrons, leaving the hotel with barely 150 counts of 5-star ratings, from the initial 2,000. The hotel administration’s heartless, mindless actions dug for themselves a pretty deep grave – after all, in the business of hospitality, your reputation always precedes you. Instead of owning up to their actions and seeking reparation from the get-go, however, those involved spun numerous lies and made lame attempts to cover up the truth. And the not-so-carefully crafted stories keep coming, as of my penning this. Suspiciously enough, as well, the social media account of thousands of detractors and people (myself included) who left negative reviews on the hotel’s Facebook page were hacked and blocked shortly thereafter. Coincidence? Once more, you be the judge.

Definitely fodder for Netflix’ next installation of Black Mirror, without doubt. Efforts to find the missing cats proved futile. Neither the hotel nor the pest control company could provide the location of the supposed “relocation,” which has many people fearing the worse – that it was, in fact, extermination and/or abandonment. Rice has apologized, but his words have fallen on ears still ringing from previous fabrications made by the hotel’s social media spin doctors and PR hounds. Bottom line, both entities – the hotel and the pest removers – are potentially in violation of Philippine law, under Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8485, which shall now become Section 9, which governs actions involving cruelty to animals. And that’s not just me being catty about things. The takeaway “Where are the cats of BGC?” is a question that resounded, as events continued to unfold. It’s a question that has begun to ebb, though. “Justice for the Cats of BGC” is the war cry that has taken its place. I miss my feline friends, as do countless others. I used to spend hours, on end, happily in the presence of those cats – you see, they had, as cats do, the uncanny ability to cheer me up when I was down or soothe my soul in times of trouble. The hotel took that away from me. Ironically enough, the hotel’s name is a nod to a fictional utopia and land of peace, yet their actions have left me, and many more people, with a deep sense of loss and grief. We can learn from all this, as our beloved cats might have wanted us to. There are many lessons to takeaway, but perhaps the most important one is that we do not live in a vacuum. Our actions, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, have an impact on others around us, and even on others much further away from us. Let’s implant this in our hearts and etch this onto our consciousness before we start with the wing flapping.

MARCH 2018


WE THE NORTH History, culture, and adventure are often words easily, sometimes mindlessly, thrown around as part of the trappings of travel writing. Bulacan and Ilocos prove such does not apply to them. Allow curiosity to fuel your wandering feet, and explore what Northern Pride is truly about. Words by TIMOTHY JAY IBAY Photos by MARTIN SAN DIEGO courtesy of the North Phiippines Visitors Bureau

Ilocos Norte’s Bangui Windmills are not only sources of alternative energy, it also makes for a stunning panorama


’ve joined Lakbay Norte for four years now, and each time, it has presented me with discoveries, and unearthed possibilities in destinations I would’ve otherwise instinctively overlooked. And each year, I realized what a mistake doing so would’ve been. An annual project of the North Philippines Visitors Bureau, Lakbay Norte gathers members of the media, and brings them to explore the myriad of wonders that lie in the northern regions of the country. Over the past years, not only has it served as a personal vehicle to experience what the North has to offer, it has become a tradition that kick starts a year peppered with adventures. NLEX’s network of toll ways have now made these amazing places exponentially more accessible – allowing both the northern Philippines’ tourism industry, as well as the untapped wanderlust in people’s souls to flourish northbound.

The historic Barasoain Church

This year, we traversed those roads to arrive at pleasantly surprising discoveries in the provinces of Bulacan, Tarlac, and Ilocos. And, as Lakbay Norte is wont to do, each stop opened our eyes and minds to new adventures, sources of local pride, and to memories we’ll frequently, and fondly, tap into. Let’s get to some of the trip’s highlights… Revisiting history Bulacan, despite (or perhaps because of) its close proximity to Metro Manila tends to be overlooked even by the most seasoned travelers. And on this trip, I found that even its residents share the tendency. The 1888-built Barasoain Church in Malolos would be our first stop in the province – and the first to open our eyes to what most having been missing out on. The historical landmark was the site of not only the first Philippine Republic—it was the first

in the whole of Asia. And as we went on a walking heritage tour around the Parian district of Malolos, we learned that the city was also a pioneer in social activism, particularly for women’s rights. From stories about how the first constitution in Asia was drafted, to how the first Philippine President strategically moved the seat of government to Bulacan – the tour is inundated with anecdotes and insights about the Filipino forefathers’ struggle for freedom, and the events that give historical significance to the province. Expat tips To know more about Bulacan’s heritage, arts, and culture, contact Rheeza Hernandez at (0998) 993-4509. After going on a heritage tour, refuel at Bistro Maloleño – where they serve what they call “Food of Heroes” – heritage Bulacan cuisine said to be the favorites of prominent Filipino

Make Angat River your personal playground at San Rafael River Adventure

historical personalities. Bistro Maloleno is located at 1 Valenzuela St., Bulihan Capitol View Park, Malolos, Bulacan. For inquiries and reservations, contact (044) 795-5655, or find them on Facebook @ BistroMaloleno Adventure and serenity Now, some of the more attentive lot may have heard about Bulacan’s history, and had more than a whiff of why its people take pride in their province’s role in it. But it would be tough to imagine that outsiders have had a taste of its adventure. Yes, Bulacan (apart from a few kitschy waterparks) has never been synonymous with thrills and spills – much less, adventure. But San Rafael River Adventure’s entrance to the scene changes that. Located along the length of the Angat River – which flows from the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Manila Bay – and

…and make its gorgeous glass villas your holiday home

MARCH 2018

TRAVEL 15 Expat tips San Rafael River Adventure is located at Barangay Talacsan, San Rafael, Bulacan (accessible via NLEX’s Balagtas Exit). The resort accommodations are exclusively by reservation only. For bookings and inquiries, contact (0995) 141-0428, (02) 513-1569, email reservation@sanrafaelriveradventure. com, or visit www.sanrafaelriveradventure. com.

Fun and adventure intertwine at the La Paz Sand Dunes, while its lay of the land rarely fails to stun

The calming beauty of seaside heritage town Sitio Remedios remains a must-visit when in the North

tucked away from even the provincial bustle, the resort and events place offers a slew of watersports activities that translate to tons of fun. From jetskiing and wake boarding, to water bike, banana, and speed boat rides— San Rafael River Adventure allows you to revel in the serene scene, with the backdrop of the country’s longest mountain range. But what really takes the proverbial

Saud White Beach in Pagudpud is as refreshing as it is pristine

cake is how it’s a double-edged sword with its charming accommodations that are thoughtfully designed to blend perfectly with its environs. Glass cottages and villas, and a tree house (with the latter two furnished with Jacuzzis) – all provide a quiet portal to rejuvenate both mind and spirit. While glamping tents offer a more budget-friendly alternative.

What we found during our brief visit is that, Bulacan, like a plethora of other corners in this archipelago, is just waiting to get explored. And San Rafael River Adventure, which offers a mix of adventure and serenity – stands a surprisingly accessible destination for those needing a fix for thrills, or some much needed introspection.

Northern Pride Our Northern adventure carried on when we reached the city of Laoag in Ilocos Norte. With the presence of an Ilocano contingent in many parts of the world, they’ve managed to stamp their mark as a proud people across the globe. And with a bevy of gorgeous landscapes—from heritage towns, to sand dunes, to idyllic beaches – it’s no wonder why Ilocanos are so proud. An adrenaline rush brought about by the La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag would jumpstart our day in Ilocos Norte. Admittedly, having sampled the thrill of driving up, down, and around the sand dunes of Laoag before, I thought awe was something I wouldn’t really come across that day. I was pleasantly mistaken. What I learned was that “Been there, done that” does not apply to Ilocos Norte. Some seven years since my last visit, the beauty of its diverse topography hasn’t waned one bit. If anything, having become a more seasoned traveler over the past years, my appreciation for what Ilocos Norte has to offer has only been heightened. Expat tips La Paz Sand Dunes is located at Barangay 33, La Paz, Laoag, Ilocos Norte. For PhP2,500 (for a group of up to five persons), you get a ride aboard a 4x4 jeep that’ll take you across the more thrilling (yet totally safe) spots of the La Paz Sand Dunes. The fee includes unlimited sandboarding. You can also rent an ATV for PhP2,000 per hour. Schedule your trip early in the morning (so the sun is more forgiving, and makes for excellent photos), or late in the afternoon (when the sunset is frequently magical).

MARCH 2018


Compiled by VIA BAROMA


•Wanderland 2018 Music and Arts Festival Mar. 10; Filinvest City Event Grounds, Bridgeway, Alabang, Muntinlupa; for more information, visit www. or The calendar flipping towards March has become synonymous with the annual gathering of good music and great company, as Wanderland once again brings international and local indie acts into a vibrant music festival. Making her return to the Wanderland stage is R&B singer Jess Connelly, while Canadian soul singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar is set to make his Manila debut. The two will be joined by the likes of Kodaline, Jhene Aiko, FKJ a.k.a French Kiwi Juice, American singer Lauv, Bag Raiders, and local acts that include Ben&Ben, IV of Spades, Quest; plus Wanderland 2018 winners Basically Saturday Night and runner-up Carousel Casualties. Tickets are priced at PhP8,000 for Star Wanderers (inclusive of Wanderland kit, access to VIP viewing deck, access to VIP restroom, express lane, two free drinks); and PhP4,800 for Regular Wanderers.


•PNZBC Golf Tournament Mar. 14; Wack Wack Golf & Country Club, Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City; to register, call (02) 359-9423, (0915) 396-8246, or email The Philippines-New Zealand Business Council is set to bring an exciting treat for golfers in the metro with its New Zealand Waitangi Day Golf Tournament. The tournament is open to everyone, with cash prizes of PhP100,000 for lucky Hole-in-One winners (Holes 3 and 11); two round trip economy tickets to Auckland from Air New Zealand, plus other exciting prizes for competitors. Tournament fee is priced at PhP4,000 for Regular rate; and PhP2,000 for Wack Wack Members, inclusive of green fees, gift bag, buffet lunch and raffle ticket. Caddie fee of PhP600 to be paid directly to the caddie.


•9th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition Mar. 3, 10, 17, and 24; SM Mall of Asia Seaside Blvd; for more information, visit Witness this year's much awaited pyromusical extravaganza as pyrotechnic experts from different countries across the globe battle for pyro supremacy! Austria and Canada (Week 3); France and Italy (Week 4); Taiwan and United Kingdom (Week 5); and China and Philippines (Week 6) will be treating crowds with dazzling displays that promises to add magic to the Manila Bay night sky. Tickets for Week 3 to 5 are priced at PhP1,500 for VIP with Dinner; PhP600 for VIP;PhP300 for Gold; and PhP100 for Silver.
Tickets for Week 6 are priced at PhP1,800 for VIP with Dinner; PhP720 for VIP; PhP360 for Gold; and PhP120 for Silver

•Drum Tao: Samurai Drum Rock April 19 to 22; KIA Theatre, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City; for more information, visit or call (02) 911-5555 World-renowned Japan martial arts and drum-playing extraordinaire, Drum Tao, have an exciting stage show for 2018 with costumes created by fashion designer Junko Koshino. After playing to audiences of more than 7 million, in 400 cities in 17 countries that include Switzerland, Denmark, Israel, US, Australia, Spain, Belgium, UK and Germany, critically-acclaimed Drum Tao will explode onto the Manila stage with its eclectic mix of dance and martial arts, as the dynamic and innovative Japanese performers beat their Wadaiko Drums. The two-hour extravaganza features superhuman efforts by the highly disciplined crew of Japanese Taiko drummers, who spend eight months of the year touring the world, giving it their all in the 500 shows they perform a year. Tickets are priced at PhP4,500 for VIP; PhP3,500 for Price Zone A; PhP2,500 for Price Zone B; PhP1,500 for Price Zone C; and PhP800 for General Admission