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Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 ISSN 1908-2649


Manor Lumban


Makes Lively a Legacy

The Many-Storied Marvels of

at Puerto Galera

A Noted One in

Tagaytay City

Pueblo de Oro Rising Savor Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen and Tapella Teeing Off in CDO, Tagaytay and Zamboanga


Travel Features Explore

16 The Burdang Lumban Festival highlights its heritage of embroidery and tourism potentials. Editor at large Roel Hoang Manipon joined the celebration.

Experience 30 Writer Marko Fojas unravels the story behind The Manor at Puerto Galera

Escape 40 46 50 54

One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites The Lighthouse Marina Resort Plantation Bay Resort and Spa Taal Vista Hotel

Other Departments Accommodations 58 62 64 66

50 64


Hotel Vida in Clark The Bellevue Hotel’s new Tower Wing and resort in Bohol The Pan Pacific Hotel’s butler service The Heritage Hotel’s new look

Leisure and Adventure 68 74 78 82

The Pueblo Golf Estates The Tagaytay Highlands The Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park Ocean Adventure’s new developments


62 92

84 The Pueblo de Oro Township

Dining 92 Roel Hoang Manipon journeys to Tapella 96 Rachelle Tesoro gets a taste of Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen

Wellness 100 Maripet Poso tries Amuma Spa of Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort 102 Vernadette Joven learns more about cosmetic surgery in Shimmian Manila Surgicenter

Transport 104 Cebu Pacific Air gives budget travel tips

Encounter 106 Ida Anita Q. del Mundo meets architect Romolo Nati

Regular Sections

About The Cover: Many consider the bay of

6 8 12 14 110 114

Editor’s Note Publisher’s Note Contributors Postings Travel Directory January-February Travel Calendar



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009


Puerto Galera, at the northeast portion of the island of Mindoro, as one of the most beautiful in the world. A favorite getaway for many years, the town’s many coves harbor strips of white sand and clusters of resorts. A new one is The Manor at Puerto Galera, which has an interesting story to tell.

E D I T O r ’ s

N ote

Editor at large Roel Hoang Manipon (left) spent a wonderful time in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, while editor in chief Michael Kho Lim (below) tackled Seoul Tower in Korea recently. The two were joined by ace photographer Donald Tapan (below, left) crossing Balanan Lake in Siaton, Negros Oriental.


LTHOUGH ADAPTING TO THE MODES OF THE TIMES, standard of excellence I initially thought to be fixed, in the sense that it cannot be bent and erased. But like democracy, rules and law, and many others, it must be continually upheld and guarded. It can be easy to lower or subvert standard, especially in this country. Prime example is the National Artist award controversy, perhaps this year’s most shameful event. Despite the upholding of standards and process by well-meaning and respected people and artists of our country, the highest artistic honor of the country can be tarnished, manipulated and cheapened, with seeming ease. It broke my spirit that event, perhaps more than the storms that disrupted my life and many others—Ondoy and Pepeng. We have to fight and we have to bounce back. Anyway, I’m back with this magazine. There have been drastic changes this year. We disappeared early 2009. The making of this magazine has taken its toll in us. Despite the frustration, exasperation and the stress, I came back. The lure of travel and writing, two of my passions, can be overriding. Additionally, there is a kind of duty to keep a standard in what we started. It may not be as it was before, but that is okay. In this issue, I am introducing a new editor in chief, Michael Kho Lim, who has been writing for the magazine in the past issues. With his help, we hopefully distil the love for travel and writing in these pages and the pages of future issues. We may falter and we may waver—there will be forces greater than us—but will keep on. Keeping standard is a constant struggle. Anyway, do enjoy the features in this issue—the embroidery of Lumban being celebrated, the Manor at Puerto Galera being explored and a host of resorts and hotels looked into. A wealth of wonders is in store for future issues. Despite the dreary issues messing up the country, there are many things to lift the spirit and we must uphold them.




EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

P U B L I S H E R ’ S



HIS MAY BE NOT A GOOD YEAR. After all the storms we have faced, literal and general, we are still standing. With our feet firmly planted on the ground, we have weathered many challenges that have come our way and made drastic moves that may be hard yet we still did them for the sake of what we believed in. As we move on, we are so glad and grateful to ROEL HOANG MANIPON who comes back not just for his love of travel writing, but his greater love of the magazine as well. He is the one who really created Experience Travel & Living and what it is all about. In this issue also starts a new editor in chief MICHAEL KHO LIM, who has been writing for Experience. With their direction, we are very optimistic that once again we will have a smooth road ahead. As this year comes to an end, we are looking forward to a new beginning and new aspirations as we altogether work hand in hand to a brighter year ahead. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

GINGKO CONEJOS-UNTAL President/Managing Director



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009






Editor at Large



Publisher/Managing Director





Layout Artist




Rosita raymundo Accounting Officer


Contributing Writers

Advertising/Business Development

RHEA VILLAREAL Sales/Administrative Assistant


DENNY ALONZO Corporate Secretary

GABRIEL and MENDOZA Legal Counsel



PRISCILLA C. RAMOS Liaison Officer in Cebu

LOLITA DUBLIN Liaison Officer in Washington, DC Experience Travel and Living magazine is

EVA U. TRIMBLE Liaison Officer in Columbus, Ohio

published quarterly by Gusto Publishing, Inc., with business address at Unit 416, Cityland 3, Rufino corner Esteban Streets, Legaspi Village,


Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines 1200.

Liaison Officer in New York

Telephone numbers: (632) 4942866, (632) 4949166



Telefax: (632) 818.5925 Web site:

Liaison Officers in Dubai, UAE The magazine and its editors assume no responsibility for

NOEL D. UNTAL Liaison Officer in Thailand

all manuscripts and photographs submitted. While every reasonable effort is made to verify information, facts and figures, the magazine and its editors assume no


responsibility for errors or misrepresentations that may

Liaison Officer in Singapore

appear in the publication. Opinions expressed in Experience Travel and Living are solely those of the writers and not


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Liaison Officer in Toronto, Canada

Printed in the Philippines.



Circulation/Distribution in Palisade Avenue

No part of the magazine may be reproduced in full or in

Jersey City, NJ

part without prior written permission from the editors.

O u r

C ont r ibuto r s

An early curiosity with food and drink led Daniel Adapon 1 to try cooking as soon as he was tall enough to see the stove top. He now spends as much time watching TV in a month as he would in making a mug of tea. His day job as video editor lets him get in touch with his other interests: movies and photography.

Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo


graduated cum laude with a degree in literature from De La Salle University Manila. She is currently teaching literature and art appreciation at the university. Furthermore, she writes for The Philippine Star and other publications. Ida has been playing the violin since she was three years old. She first took her violin lessons in the United States, and upon her arrival in the Philippines she continued her lessons at the St. Scholastica’s College Music Department under the Philippine Research for Developing Instrumental Soloists program. Ida is also a mezzo soprano and currently taking voice lessons at the SSCMD. At present, she is a member of the Manila Symphony Orchestra and also its operations manager.

Inadvertently turning a hobby into a living, Marko Fojas 3 got into his current line of work by chance. Although he served in a literary club during high school and as a publications officer in college, he never saw himself carving out a career in writing. He first joined the professional world as a customer care specialist. To fill in the hours, he started a personal online journal, just an emerging medium at the time, jotting down thoughts mostly on daily living, movies and music. After a few years, he finally crossed over to a new career, providing content for offshore companies and writing articles for local magazines. He is currently based in Manila and lives with his wife and four-year-old son.

Vernadette T. Joven

1 2




has been around in different circles, from online, research and events to public relations, before finally settling down in print as a reporter on information technology. However having been exposed in lifestyle and travel for more than two years, she continues doing freelance writing on the side.

Maripet L. Poso


is a law school drop-out, a cooking-show fan, a neophyte writer and a hopeless dreamer. She plans to one day write and publish a kick-ass novel and meet Oprah Winfrey in person. After spending some time job-hopping in the corporate world, she happily traded her high-heeled shoes and corporate skirts to a more laidback jeans-and-sneaker world of lifestyle journalism.

Marlet D. Salazar

A son of Agdangan, Quezon, Donald Cajayon Tapan’s 7 passion with photography started when journalists from Manila flocked to his small town. In 1968, he made his way to Manila and started showing the city works. He got affiliated with different publications and has won several awards, carving a name in photography. Aside from that, Tapan has been in public service in his hometown for almost ten years as a councilor and vice-mayor. 8

Rachelle Tesoro


is a photographer, graphic designer and graduate of AB MMA from the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde. She has been traveling all over the Philippines to cover fiestas since 2004. She comes from a family of prominent photographers including father Donald Tapan.

loves any excuse to slip on her oldest pair of sandals and go where the road takes her. Where her feet cannot reach, her imagination flies. Her articles and fiction have appeared in Good Housekeeping, Meg and Story. This time, she writes about an adventure of the palate.





is a freelance writer who will write for food. She spent 11 years at the Philippine Daily Inquirer first as a proofreader, then an editorial assistant, and finally as an advertising writer. She shifted career to market research in a German company but corporate life is just not for her. Not being able to write for six months made her realize that writing is what she wants to do for the rest of her life. She spent two months at the People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals and decided to go freelance in October 2008. Marlet loves to write features. It allows her to play with words and tickle her imagination. She will forever be a dilettante photographer. A collector of old books, she counts Neil Gaiman, Isabel Allende, and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez as her top favorites. Her most favorite person but not necessarily as a writer is Salman Rushdie. She is fascinated with Soviet Union history and intends to fly to Prague before she dies, even if it means becoming a slave writer.

Nikkorlai Tapan


EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009




P ostin g s EAT | Holiday treats from Pampanga in Manila As the holiday season approaches, Butchie’s Recipes of La Moderna Pampanga offers gift suggestions for friends, family and colleagues. Artisan bakery products from Php55 to personalized holiday hampers can be prepared to suit every preference and budget. Carefully selected Pampangan specialties, literature, DVDs, CDs as well as fine Pinatubo ash-glazed products from Php65 make great gifts as well. Tray orders of heirloom Filipino-Pampangan dishes are available on advanced notice. Butchie’s Recipes is located at the ground floor of the Health Cube Building, 226 Wilson Street, West Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila, with telephone number (+632) 385-0387, mobile number +639178447593, e-mail and Web sites and It is open 8 AM to 7:30 PM, Mondays to Saturdays.

TRY | A resort in Mangenguey Located at the center of the Coral Triangle in the Calamianes archipelago in northern Palawan, Philippines, Mangenguey is a remote, 13-hectare island of Spanish designer Helena Carratalà Mander and her New Yorker husband Richard Mander. Since 2005, the couple has been designing and building a retreat for people looking for an exciting journey where they can be intrigued, entertained, as well as enlightened; a place for people who want to experience nature and the arts, engage in exchange of ideas and contribute to a higher cause while enjoying the luxuries of a first class destination. Mangenguey is now run as a “private estate.” Guest can savor Catalan and Filipino fusion dishes; can swim and snorkel through the reef; bird-watch; trek through the forest; dive in the World War II Japanese ship wrecks in Coron Bay; or read a book with sea views from the veranda. For inquiries or reservations go to

CONNECT | First Pinoy SIM launched in Macau Globe, the pioneer network operator in providing services for Filipinos abroad, and CTM, a local telecom provider in Macau, recently launched a co-branded SIM card that will help Pinoys living in Macau keep in touch with their loved ones back home. Around 3,000 Pinoys were in attendance at the Plaza Amizade in Macau for Globe and CTM’s Best Kababayan Prepaid SIM launch last June 14, held via a free “Hatid Saya” concert. The Best Kababayan Prepaid SIM offers the cheapest IDD rate from Macau to Globe and TM in the Philippines at only MOP1.69/min. It also offers international text messaging to Globe and TM subscribers in the Philippines for only MOP0.65 per text. For more information on Globe’s services for Filipinos worldwide, log on to

RECOGNIZE | Pan Pacific Manila recognized at the Condé Nast Traveler 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards Pan Pacific Manila has made it to the top 100 Asia hotels for the second year running and is included in the best places to stay in the world Gold List 2009 at the annual Condé Nast Traveler. Annually, since 1998, select readers of Condé Nast Traveler take the Readers’ Choice Survey. In 2009, the questionnaire was made available to all readers through a secure Web site. The hotel is the only Manila property in the list. Conveniently located at the heart of the historical and cultural district of Malate in the Manila Bay area, Pan Pacific Manila is a short drive to the city’s convention, exhibition and business centers and a walk away from shopping, food and entertainment establishments. A business hotel, designed to offer a comfortable abode to business and leisure travelers with its excellent facilities and service, the hotel has 236 all-executive rooms and suites and seven spacious function rooms. For more information and special offers, visit



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

ENGAGE | Wired for Singapore A recently launched Web site gets Filipinos connected with Singapore. In recent years, the city state has grown to be one of the world’s popular vacation destinations, as well as a business region of choice. Its reputation as one of the progressive countries in Southeast Asia proves to be an allure for many tourists, including Filipinos. Because of this and the increasing number of Pinoys living and working there, the Singapore Tourism Board in the Philippines has made an effort to reach out to the population, which makes up a bulk of its guests. PinoyLah ( is one way of connecting with Filipinos, who love Singapore, and to those who want to experience the allure of the Lion City. It provides a guide for travelers, as well as Filipino residents, on things to do in Singapore, places to visit and events to watch out for, among others. It also features the Pinoy’s Top 10 Singaporean food as polled among Filipinos. Navigating the Web site will yield such sections as “Gimik Guides” that will direct you to the most inviting party places and an updated schedule of events. “Travel Tayo” comes in handy as it guides visitors on how to explore the city. Shopaholics or businesspeople will find “Hot Deals” helpful as it provides information on the latest promos and sales. No event will be missed with the PinoyLah. It previews up and coming events. There are pages on tips, food and first-hand Filipino insights about the Lion City.

SHOP | Being a responsible traveler More than just being a travel and lifestyle boutique, The Travel Club is an advocate of responsible travel as it encourages customers to enjoy enriching experiences while making positive contributions to every destination they visit. These are just a number of eco-friendly brands carried by The Travel Club. With The Travel Club, you can truly be a responsible traveler, one that always tries to make helpful contributions in his or her destination, its people and its environment in every way possible. Sea to Summit, a brand of outdoor travel gear, is one of the founding sponsors of Leave No Trace in Australia and in the United States. As such it is always inspired to create innovative, lightweight products designed to support the principle of minimal human impact wherever your adventures take you. Similar to this is Eagle Creeks’ Pack-It System, a system of pouches that fit inside your luggage to keep clothes and other stuff organized, accessible and segregated. With these, there’s really no excuse in leaving unnecessary items and even trash. On the other hand, Jansport, recognizing the ill effects of PVC in people’s health and environment, has eliminated the use of this substance in making its well-loved backpacks. Meanwhile, The North Face designs and produces high performance equipment, apparel and footwear while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing waste products. Nalgene Outdoor Products, recognized by explorers and adventurers around the globe, also helps reduce water bottle waste by offering high-endurance reusable water bottles. The Travel Club can be found at Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3, Power Plant Mall, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Center Cebu, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, SM City Annex North EDSA, SM City Batangas, SM City Marilao, SM City Pampanga, Marquee Mall Angeles, SM City Clark, SM City Baguio, SM City Cebu, SM City Iloilo, SM City Davao, SM City Cagayan de Oro, Robinsons General Santos, SM Fairview, Gateway Mall, V-Mall Greenhills, Shangri-La Plaza, Robinsons Ermita, Festival Mall, SM City Bacolod, Robinsons Tacloban and TriNoma.

READ | Bikol book demolishes the phallus Sayod Kong Tataramon is the Bicolano title of Carlo A. Arejola’s book that came out recently. Its Filipino subtitle is Tuwiran Kong Sasabihin and can be translated into I Will State Directly. Published by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts or NCCA (2009, 196 pages), it contains three stage plays in Bikol with Filipino translations and a screenplay in Filipino. These plays share one thing in common—the characters’ intent and act of demolishing the primacy of the phallus, of subverting patriarchy, by pushing the feminist and the homosexual agenda. Arejola plays with naturalism and the absurd in his play An Mutya kan Sitio Kulatoy (The Muse of Kulatoy Village). The second play, titled Paraoy, Saradit na Gamgam sa Masaldang na Alas-siyete (Tired Little Birds on a Sunny Seven O’Clock) is a story of three women. The form of this play is experimental in a way that the three characters are simultaneously doing their acts inside their individual rooms in a boarding house, oblivious of each other. The only thing that connects them is their sad state caused by the men in their lives. The third play also explores the homosexual theme. It is titled 4 da Boyz (For the Boys), a play in three acts. It is about a group of boys whose idea of fun is to hole up in a room in a resort, drink themselves to death and have sex with women they picked up from the streets. Unknown to these irritatingly macho friends, two of them—Edwin and Toledo—are gay and in fact have had sex with each other. The lone screenplay in this collection, Ang Mundo ay Iisa at Marami (The World is One and Many), won third prize in the 2006 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Arejola’s sense of naturalism is acute in this screenplay. He also flirts with existentialism. This is only Arejola’s first book, but with a strong and sure voice he is serving the notice that he will become the most important playwright of the Bicol Region. John Iremil E. Teodoro says: “With Sayod Kong Tataramon, Arejola is successful in pushing the frontiers of Bikol Literature by tackling a sensitive issue using strong and beautiful language and imagery. The characters in his plays will surely haunt the imagination of readers (and of audiences too when these plays are mounted and filmed) who have a sense of justice. What the book is telling us all—female, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, male—is that if we want to be happy, living in a society founded on love and justice, together we should demolish the proud phallus of patriarchy.”

INDULGE | Boracay enhanced Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa introduces a distinct Boracay experience with the unveiling of its loft and tree house villas, the final addition to the resort’s prestigious lineup of 219 luxurious rooms and villas. Perched amidst the forested hillside and thriving foliage, offering a majestic view of the sea in the horizon, the secluded location of the villas offers a private sanctuary in the island’s most natural environment. The villas are all stylishly designed with modern sensibilities expressed in indigenous materials for a uniquely Filipino touch. A venue that will certainly bring the meaning of escape in luxury to the fore, the newly opened villas of Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa is the new destination for an elegantly heightened experience. For more information or reservations, contact a travel professional or visit

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



Heritage Stitches



Celebrating Embroidery in Lumban

Text and Photos by Roel Hoang Manipon


any tourists and visitors going through Laguna, the province that hugs Laguna Lake south of the Philippine capital Manila, usually stop at Calamba or Los Baños, known for their hot springs, and Pagsanjan, which likes to call itself as the tourist capital of the province, popular for its attractive falls. But less popular towns of Laguna have charms of their own—old churches, gastronomic specialties, traditional crafts, rustic scenes and friendly people. Further east is the small town of Lumban, which is stepping out of the shadow of Pagsanjan, once—together with the provincial capital Santa Cruz and the town of Cavinti—part of Lumban. Normally tranquil, Lumban bursts with sounds and colors every third week of September for its Burdang Lumban Festival. Aside from the fiesta in January, which has been celebrated for centuries, the town has added a festival, which is on its eighth year this 2009. It has been a recent fashion in the Philippines to create festivals to attract tourism, provide citizens cause for merriment and honor and promote a unique product, industry or heritage. For Lumban, the festival promotes its centuries-old craft and industry of hand embroidery, burda in Tagalog. Fashion designers, prominent personalities and people in the know go all the way to Lumban for its barong Tagalog, wedding gowns and embroidery, which flourished only in this town in Laguna. Lumban wants to strengthen and further its reputation for hand embroidery, and establish itself as the Embroidery Capital of the Philippines. “Embroidery has been part of our culture it’s impossible not to showcase it,” said the mayor of Lumban, lawyer Wilfredo Paraiso, who has been supportive of the cottage industry, encouraging embroiderers and businessmen to form an association and spearheading the Burdang Lumban Festival. “This day is important to us because we show that we are united in supporting our industry, which many of us benefit from,” Paraiso, who usually speaks in straight Filipino, once said. “We Lumbeños are proud we have an identity and that is in the industry of the barong Tagalog.” According to town councilor Larry Butch de Leon, also one of the prime movers of the Burdang Lumban Festival, the festival has become more important now because the town is facing stiff competition from age-old and biggest rival Taal in Batangas and new rival Bulacan, and it is a way of boosting their industry’s repute. Their efforts are paying off as the festival is enjoying support from the government’s Department of Tourism and has been awarded the Presidential Citation for Best Practices just last July. The citation recognizes the best in local government units’ practices and programs in small and medium enterprise promotion. Lumban was awarded for “providing access to market.”

It is estimated that 30 percent of the town’s 25,000 or so population is engaged in the embroidery industry. The mayor projected it is 60 percent, perhaps the 30 percent involved indirectly. The industry mainly consists of small producers. Going around Laguna through the highway, one recognizes Lumban by the numerous boards advertising embroidery and formal wear, after the resorts in Calamba and signs of boatmen for hire in Pagsanjan. The town is studded with shops selling embroidered barong Tagalog and gowns.

The Enterprise of Embroidery Very near the municipal hall, along Rizal Street, is the shop of forty-something businesswoman Ailyn del Moral. Unlike many women in Lumban, Del Moral doesn’t know how to embroider. She opted to go school in Metro Manila, graduating with a management degree from Siena College in Quezon City. Her involvement in the embroidery and garments business is accidental. Knowing the reputation of Del Moral’s hometown, a friend asked about the process and cost of having a wedding gown made there. This sparked an idea of setting up a business. Her home has been transformed into a shop, which is now twodecade old, with the garage as a work area and the foyer an office and showroom.

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



Ailyn del Moral (top, right) owns and operates one of the many shops in Lumban, which offers a variety of products and services including hand painting (top, left) aside from embroidery. An in-house designer (above, right) is at hand to help customers.

On the day of our visit, her garage was full of embroiders for us to see the process. As with most of the town, the embroiderers were mostly middle-aged and old women. Normally, they work in their own homes. Shops subcontract the embroidering as well as other aspects of making a complete dress. The embroiderers were mostly wives of fishers and farmers who want to augment the family income. Men usually do the washing of the finished products, but it is not unusual to see men doing embroidery. On off season, one can see swarthy and brawny fishermen creating flowers with needle and thread, an amusing sight. More amusing is the thought of upperclass women wearing gowns with fine details created by the calloused hands of a fisherman. In Del Moral’s shop, a teenaged boy joined the throng of women, deftly pulling his threaded needle. Embroiderers are usually paid Php15 an hour. Although there are now machines for embroidery, which are used by some shops in Lumban back to back with hand embroidering, hand embroidery is still held in the highest esteem. “We don’t neglect our tradition of hand embroidery unlike in other towns which use machines, although we also have them here. Plus we also do painting by hand or by airbrush,” said De Leon.



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Hand embroidering seems a quiet and tedious work, requiring concentration and patience. Before embroidering, a design is “stamped” on the cloth. A design is transferred from paper to cloth by perforating the paper using a pen with washable ink. The design on the cloth is then traced with a pencil. The cloth is stretched taut as the skin of the drum using a tambor, two bamboo hoops the size of regular plates, and is ready for embroidering by hand using known traditional stitches. Lumban is said to be known for a particular design feature called the calado, which are holes rimmed with embroidery. Usual designs are floral and geometric. After the embroidery, the men would stretch out the piece of cloth on the bastidor, a large rectangular bamboo frame; wash it with detergent and water; and let it dry in the sun. Most of the embroidery knowledge and material are primarily for the making of the barong Tagalog, literally shirt or dress of the Tagalog people, which has become the official and national formal wear for men. The festival actually was first called Barong Tagalog Festival, held from April 29 to May 3 in 1996. It was soon renamed and moved to September to celebrate also the foundation day of the town, one of the oldest in the province, on September 22.

The embroiderers have regular design patterns. Popular is the pitchera, design forming into a U or two vertical rows on the front of the dress. Batok, literally “nape,” has embroidery concentrated on the upper portion of the dress, while Chinepa has it on the lower portion. Raya features the U pattern as well as stripes of embroidery. “Scattered” has embroidered designs scattered all over the dress, and a more concentrated version is called “All Over.” The fabrics usually used for the barong Tagalog are the cheaper cotton and linen; the mid-range jusi, imported from Hong Kong and can be bought in the markets of Divisoria in Manila; and the expensive piña, made from pineapple fibers from the Visayan province of Aklan. Del Moral said that it will take about three days to make a barong Tagalog. She said the cheapest barong Tagalog can be bought at P550. These are usually used as office uniforms. The most expensive is around Php5,000, made from piña. For gowns, an embroidered cloth sells for Php7,000 while a made gown is Php12,000. Wedding gowns fetch from Php40,000 and up. Shops here, which according to Del Moral’s estimation numbered at least fifty, offer a variety of products and services. Aside from embroidery, they also offer painting on fabric using acrylic. Painters are usually paid Php250 a day. Many shops here have their own designers to create the designs for embroidery and painting. Customers can consult with the designers or bring in their own designs. They can also bring in their own cloth just to be embroidered on or just buy from the shops then have it embroidered. They can also have their dress made in the shops as they also have dressmakers. Some shops offer ready-to-wear barong Tagalog and gowns. But the madeto-order demand remains to make up the bulk of the Lumban’s production. Retail sales from walk-in customers amount to twenty percent of the town’s sales. Lumban’s industry is a specialized one, said the mayor, unlike those in other towns in Laguna from which ordinary visitors can readily buy their products like slippers in Liliw or carved-wood knickknacks in Paete. Embroidery, barong Tagalog and gowns are heavier buys and often considered luxury items. But that doesn’t mean one cannot bring home a piece of Lumban heritage. Shops here offer items aside from gowns such as jewelry cases, cell phone pouches, fans, curtains, hankies, shawls, veils, tablecloths, table mats, napkins and table runners with little embroidered designs. But still the stars of Lumban embroidery are the barong Tagalog and gowns, which usually come in terno with its distinctive puffed sleeves, made popular by former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Many prominent people visit Lumban for these. In Del Moral’s office and shop, pictures of famous personalities and celebrities hang on the walls. Del Moral counted former First Lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, philanthropist and high-society figure Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, and former Philippine President Corazon Aquino as among her customers.

The municipal hall of Lumban was built in 1918.

Stitching Up History The reason why embroidery flourished only in Lumban in Laguna is partly explained by the fact that the town was the center of Spanish missionary activities in Laguna and Spanish nuns brought with them the art of embroidery and taught them to local girls. Spanish missionaries also brought embroidery to other parts of the Philippines. But some historians say that embroidery may had been practiced even before the Spaniards arrived because iron needles were being imported into the country from Chinese traders since the thirteenth century and some embroidery features bore aspects of Chinese and Indian artistic traditions. In Lumban, it can be declared that the embroidery industry traces its roots to the Spanish Franciscan nuns. For Mayor Paraiso, embroidery is as much integral to the town’s history and identity as its economy. Perhaps, this is the reason that the foundation day and festival are celebrated simultaneously. Local history says that the Spaniards, the Philippines’ first colonizer, arrived in the area in the early sixteenth century, crossing the Laguna Lake and building a military station and a church of grass and bamboo near the shore. They began

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



Christianizing the locals, and one chief way is holding comedias, plays depicting Christian-Muslim conflict and upholding Christian values and eminence. A sitio in the barangay of Wawa is called Entablado, meaning “stage,” attesting to the practice. The Franciscan missionaries moved southward, away from the shore, and built another chapel in what is now Kristiya, a sitio in Wawa. They moved again, finally settling where the present stone church of Lumban stands. A church of wood and thatch was built. Juan de Plasencia, OFM, administered here in 1578. After the church burned down, a stone-made one with a convent was built, completing in 1600, the first stone church in Laguna. A Eucharistic procession was held on October 9, 1600, and the Blessed Sacrament was enthroned. From 1606 to 1616, the church maintained a rest house for sick Franciscan missionaries. In 1880, the church was damaged by an earthquake. Lumban officially recognizes September 22, 1590, as its foundation date. Juan Tinauin was appointed as its first gobernadorcillo. Juan Tumbaga, gobernadorcillo from 1675 to 1750, established the different barangays of the town, though there had been barangays before the Spaniards. In the 16th century, Santa Cruz seceded to become a separate town. Pagsanjan also became a separate town in 1663, and then Cavinti. Lumban now is fourth-class municipality with an area of 96.8 square kilometers, the fourth largest in Laguna. It is not known when exactly embroidery was first taught by the nuns in the beaterio of Lumban. It is recorded though that in 1606 Rev. Juan de Santa Maria conducted a regional school where four-hundred boys were taught liturgical music and use of instruments. The first music academy in the country was established in the town. While the boys learned music, the girls were involved in embroidery. The music activity eventually died off while embroidery flourished, passed on from generation to generation. Lumban claims that at least one member of families here is engaged in embroidery, and every embroiderer traces her ancestry to a great-grandmother taught in the missionaries’ school. Although it is said that embroidery had been practiced in the Philippines before the Spaniards, it is recognized that the Spaniards developed the activity and made it flourish. Embroidery was in the women’s school curriculum as early as the Spanish educational reform in 1863. Young school girls doing embroidery were a common sight and were esteemed by how well they do it. In the nineteenth century, embroidery made in the Philippines became known and available in Europe. The Spaniards even made a bid to pit it against French and Belgian lace. Embroidered piña handkerchiefs were considered expensive in Europe. An embroidered gown made in the Philippines was given to Queen Victoria. In mid-nineteenth century, Santa Ana, Mandaluyong, Sampaloc, San Miguel, Paco, Malate, Pasay, Las Piñas and Parañaque were noted embroidery centers in Metro Manila. Embroidery in Molo and Arevalo in Iloilo City in the Visayas,



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where nuns taught girls in orphanages, was notable. It is also being practiced in neighboring Bacolod City. Taal in Batangas and Lumban were also noted embroidery centers, highly regarded until now. But Lumban claims to make the best embroidery with a refinement and attention to detail that cannot be found anywhere else. Both De Leon and Paraiso said that even Taal conceded to the superiority of Lumban’s craftsmanship. This is trumpeted by the Burdang Lumban Festival. The festival also puts into the limelight other Lumban attractions and products. Readily accessible are the few heritage structures in the town, particularly the church.

Handful of Attractions At the town heart is the church, notable for being first stone church in the province, the first Franciscan stone structure in the country and the venue of the first music academy in the country. It is a relative small, august structure flanked by the belfry and the convent, facing a plaza with a few lumbang trees, after which the town is named. Its short history given by the municipal government said that the tree was brought by Chinese traders who bartered wares from the ninth to the twelfth century. It is also called Otaheite walnut (Aleurites trisperma), a relative of the tung tree and the candlenut, which is used in cooking and extracting oil. Oil extracted from the kernels of the fruits of the lumbang tree and the candlenut is used for the preparation of paints,

varnishes and linoleum; for making soaps; as fuel for lighting; and for wood preservation. The patron saint of the town is Saint Sebastian the Martyr, whose famous image is that of being riddled with arrows. Old folks tell that an image of the saint was fished out of the river, becoming the town’s patron saint, and that very now and then it goes back to the river. Lumban honors its patron saint with a fiesta on January 20, during which townspeople hold the Paligong Poon, a fluvial procession on the Lumban River. Devotees ride on kaskitos, platforms held afloat and maneuvered by boats, the largest carrying the statue of Saint Sebastian.

Nestled among the Sierra Madre mountain range, 1,200 feet above sea level, Caliraya Lake is scenic with pine trees growing around it. The Americans put largemouth black bass into the water for fishing. Since it was built, people see the lake’s potential for recreation. In the 1970s, wealthy Manilans were lured by the lake, building vacation homes around it. Development and tourism halted in the 1980s with news of communist rebel group New People’s Army occupying the area. But in the mid1980s, development restarted. Now, there are resorts around the lake offering activities such as large fishing, wind surfing, jet skiing, water skiing, boating, golf, camping, and other sporting and outdoor activities.

Beside the church is the municipal hall, an old one looking like a little mansion with stone first floor and a wooden upper floor. Built on September 19, 1918, the structure still shows some old architectural details. In the southeastern upland part of Lumban, more modern tourist attractions are located around the manmade lakes of Caliraya and Lumot, which stretch to the towns of Kalayaan and Cavinti. In 1937, American Army engineer Major General Hugh Casey flooded the area, building a reservoir to supply water to General Electric’s hydroelectric power plant, said to be the first in the country. During World War II, the Americans destroyed the plant upon the arrival of the Japanese troops. The Japanese rebuilt it and then sabotaged it near the end of their defeat. Now the area is managed by the National Power Corporation.

The resorts and recreational facilities here now include the Caliraya Re-Creation Center and Resort in the barangay of Lewin; Lake Caliraya Country Club, also in Lewin; CaliRana Resort in the barangay of East Talaungan in Cavinti; Caliraya Hilltop in the barangay of Caliraya in Lumban; Lagos del Sol in the barangay of Kanluran Talaongan in Cavinti; and Caliraya Springs, also in East Talaungan. One of the largest and more known is the Caliraya ReCreation Center and Resort, having 7.6 hectares of land area and a hotel with 72 rooms and a spacious mess-hall type restaurant. Managed by the Saint Francis Group of Companies, which is into real estate development, retail, resort and condotels, mall management and education, it can accommodate 800 to 1,500 persons and is a popular venue for a company’s outing, seminar and group bonding. Its sloping ground features many recreational

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facilities like pools and an obstacle course. Horseback riding, rappelling and wall climbing are offered aside from a host of water activities. The management is religiously Christian, thus smoking and drinking are not allowed; rooms are a tad austere; and there is a Bible study session if one wishes. But these tourist facilities can only hold momentary attention. The town center still remains fascinating, with its folks, rural living and some gastronomic delights. Kesong puti, espasol, buko candy and ginataang hipon are Lumban’s native food items. Kesong puti, literally “white cheese,” is like cottage cheese, made from carabao’s milk. Made at home, the milk is simmered, a pasteurization process, and added a cow’s inner stomach lining, which contains rennet, the enzyme responsible for turning milk into cheese. With a dash of salt, the coagulated milk is then pressed to squeeze out excess liquid; cut into squares; and wrapped in banana leaves. Some find their way to Manila restaurants or being sold by men, tied together in a pole. Early morning on Gil Puyat Street in Makati City, near the terminals of buses going to Laguna, one can find these men selling kesong puti. The town of Santa Cruz has appropriated the kesong puti as its banner product with a festival to go with it. It must be remembered that Santa Cruz was once part of Lumban. In presentday Lumban, two families are still making traditional kesong puti, the De Lunas and the Del Valles in the barangay of Maracta. The espasol is the tube-shaped sweet made of toasted ground rice, coconut milk and strips of coconut meat. The sticky delicacy is dusted with toasted rice flour. Espasol is also prepared in many towns in Laguna such as Alaminos, Nagcarlan and Pagsanjan. Some say Los Baños makes the best kind. But Lumban folks are particularly proud of their ginataang hipon.



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Shrimps in Coconut Milk Perly Palay operates a makeshift store at the front garage of her nondescript house along Bonifacio Street in the barangay of Primera Parang. Really, a table was set up by the door laden with her famous specialty, the ginataang hipon or freshwater shrimps in coconut milk. A tarpaulin banner that reads “Perly’s Ginataang Hipon and Atchara” loosely hung by the grill gate. Lumban hails the ginataang hipon as its unique dish, and Palay is considered by many as one of the best makers of ginataang hipon in town. Balikbayans regularly order from her when they are to return to other countries, a delectable reminder of home. A large talyasi or wok nearby is where she cooks the dish. If one is early, one may catch her preparing it. A fisherman delivers the shrimps, fresh and jumping, caught from Laguna Lake or the river. Each is about an inch or so. A kilo of the small and slippery crustaceans requires milk, the purest as possible, extracted from ten coconuts. The coconut milk is let to boil while constantly being stirred. Salt and one-eight cup of sugar are thrown into white and fragrant liquid, still being stirred. Upon boiling, the shrimps go in, their jumping more furious but short-lived. Their grim death amuses the customers. There is more stirring, and the mixture will be done in an hour and a half, when it turns rusty brown in color and oily. The dish, not really attractive, is sold for Php250 per kilogram. But what it lacks in appearance, it makes up for taste—sweet and rich. The texture can be a challenge—grainy, crunchy and chewy—with the shrimps cooked and eaten whole, shells, heads and all. Chew well. A dash of calamansi juice gives tang to the dish. Lumbeños prefer eating it with bahao, cold leftover rice. Palay’s enterprise was inspired by her mother, who sold already prepared dishes, which were well patronized. She started with merienda fare and later decided to specialize in atsara or pickled green papaya and ginataang hipon, her version taking three years to perfect taking cue from customer comments. One of her techniques is the use of kakang gata, the purest coconut milk possible, and the constant stirring. The old way

was to let the dish cook without stirring. Because of her use of kakang gata, her ginataang hipon doesn’t spoil easily, lasting even for a week without refrigeration. The mother of four has been selling ginataang hipon for 17 years now, earning her about Php1,000 to Php4,000 a day. Her success inspired others to sell the dish in the same area. A block away, Elsa Abadines sells ginataang hipon in her sari-sari store along Tabia Street. Hers has a gooey consistency, perhaps cooked the old way. Palay’s delicious and long-lasting version earned the attention of the trade and science agencies of the government, which suggested marketing it in bottles. While Palay is still confounded by the idea and the techniques that go with it, one of her daughters, who is her frequent helper, has a clearer idea. It appears she will continue the ginataang hipon venture. Also eaten as ordinary meal, the ginataang hipon is proudly served during special occasions or when visitors come.

Badge of Pride Aside from these, there are another couple of things that Lumban is known for. For seekers, Lumban is known for its manghuhula or fortunetellers in the Calabarzon area. Destiny and lost objects are subjects for these manghuhulas. For archeologists, Lumban may be known as the place where the Laguna Copperplate Inscription was found. Found in 1989, the plate was dated to 900 CE and inscribed with an ancient script, containing words in Sanskrit, old Javanese, old Malay and old Tagalog. A document that tells about a person’s release from debt, it is an important artifact that tells of the Philippines’ ancient connections to the other kingdoms. But embroidery remains to be the queen attraction of Lumban. And this was shown in the festival, whose highlight is the street dancing competition, in which school children dance in bright and colorful costumes inspired by the barong Tagalog and embellished with known embroidery designs. They started at the multi-purpose covered hall in front of

Every year, Lumban celebrates its heritage of embroidery and foundation day with the Burdang Lumban Festival.

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the municipal building, marched in front of the church, through the narrow streets, and ended at the entrance of the barangay of Wawa with a showdown. Largerthan-life tambors and bastidors served as props. It was an amusing watch. Their zest and choreography led them to win a prize at the Anilag Festival, Laguna’s “festival of festivals,” last year. The Burdang Lumban Festival featured the usual components—a trade fair and exhibit; contests in sports, dance, singing, cooking, beauty; socials and parties; and recognitions. Activities related to embroidery included hand and machine embroidery and barong Tagalog painting contests; and a fashion show by the Lumban Embroidery Association. Noted fashion designers, such as Renee Salud, regularly contribute to the show featuring Lumban embroidery. Aside from augmenting reputation, the festival also hopes to revive interest in embroidery. Officials and businessmen here believe while the number of shops increased through the years, embroiderers are decreasing. The youth are interested in other things, said Del Moral.



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Fearing the craft may vanish in the future, Paraiso suggested to the Department of Education to include embroidery in its home economic classes. He said he went to Iloilo and observed the nearly vanishing tradition of hand-weaving in Panay. He fears the same for his town. Embroiderers here have no formal training in the craft. Passed on from one generation to another, they learn from observing and instruction by their mothers. “It is as if it is their instinct (to embroider),” Del Moral marvels at the young embroiders’ ability to embroider without formal training as if it is ingrained in their genes. To give them pride in what they do, Paraiso always exhorts embroiders that embroidery is not a relic of the past but is actually part of making history, that they are part in the making of history. “Alam po ninyo ‘pag ka po sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan nagbabalagtas ng batas ang kanilang suot ay barong Tagalog na burdang Lumban. Ganoon din po ang punong lalawigan lagi siyang naka-barong sa kanyang tanggapan,” (You know, in the provincial council, when they pass laws, they wear barong Tagalog with Lumban embroidery. Also the governor, he wears

The highlight of the Burdang Lumban Festival is the street dancing and parade in which school children dance in embroidery- and barong Tagalog-inspired costumes.



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barong Tagalog in his office) he once said. “Ang mga kongresista po at mga senador sa Kongreso ng Pilipinas, sila po ay naka-barong ‘pag nagbabalangkas ng batas. Ganoon din ang mga pari kapag sila po ay nagmimisa bagama’t sila’y naka-toga, sila po ay naka-barong katulad po ng mga abogado. Ang ibig ko pong sabihin tayong taga-Lumban ay bahagi sa lumilikha ng kasaysayan dahil kasuotan ng mga matataas na tao sa pagtupad nila ng kanilang tungkulin ay barong Tagalog na burdang Lumban. Kaya mapalad po tayo; bahagi tayo sa paglikha ng kasaysayan. Kaya po sa aking kababayan, aking pong pinakiki-usap paghusayan po natin, pagyamanin po natin ang pinamana sa atin na burdang Lumban.” (Congressmen and senators in the Philippine Congress wear barong Tagalog when they make laws. Even the priests, even if they wear vestments, they are in barong Tagalog underneath like those worn by lawyers. What I want to say is that we Lumban people are part of making history because the prominent people in fulfilling their duties wear barong Tagalog with Lumban embroidery. We are fortunate; we are part of history making. That’s why I ask you to do your best and enrich our legacy of embroidery.)

Getting There From Makati City, take the South Expressway, turn at the Calamba Exit, turn right at the Calamba Crossing and go stright pass the towns of Los Baños, Bay, Victoria, Pila, Sta Cruz and Pagsanjan. Turn left at the Pagsanjan Church to Lumban. From Antipolo City, Rizal, go through Teresa and turn left at Morong. Veer left to bypass small towns of Rizal and Laguna and then follow the National Highway until Lumban.



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Contact Information Perly’s Ginataang Hipon and Atchara is at 172 Bonifacio St., Primera Parang, Lumban, Laguna, with telephone number (049) 501-2587 and mobile phone number 0928-32550116. Ailyn Del Moral’s shop is at 15 Rizal St., barangay of Santo Niño, Lumban, Laguna, with telephone number (63-49) 822-0129 and e-mail Caliraya Re-Creation Center and Resort is at Lewin, Lumban. Its Metro Manila office is at fourth floor, St. Francis Square, Julia Vargas Avenue corner Bank Drive, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City. For reservations, call 638-0515 or 632-1010 locals 421, 423, 284, 586 and 427. Telefax numbers are 637-7027 and 632-1010 local 558. E-mails are and Log on to www.stfrancissquare. or The municipal hall of Lumban is at Rizal Street, barangay of Santo Niño, Lumban, Laguna, with telephone number (63-49) 501-4252. Visit

E xpe r ience

Manor The

Creating a Lifestyle of Friends and Family at

at Puerto Galera

By Marko Fojas Photos by Donald Tapan


The Manor at Puerto Galera welcomes guests through a tasteful arch (below), which sets the stage for an awesome vacation, in which aquatic adventures await intrepid explorers (bottom). The resort’s amenities include the honeymoon suite, which adds a dash of exotic ambience for couples; the receiving area, which makes guests feel welcome and relaxed; and the Presidential Suite, which offers comfort and privacy (facing page, top row). Moreover, quirky knickknacks throughout the resort serve as interesting conversation pieces (facing page, bottom).



eft to my own devices, I could ramble on and on about the little details that bring the Manor at Puerto Galera to life. Every nook and cranny of the place has a quirky story to tell, and exploring this sprawling 5,000-square-meter property is an experience well worth your while. Just a few minutes away from the Muelle pier, this charming but not-so-little house does double-duty as the unofficial crowning jewel in the hills of the barangay of Santo Niño, in the resort town of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. For such a large structure, you’d think that it would be easily visible from afar. However, the uphill road we drove along did a splendid job of concealing the Manor at the last possible moment. It was only when we were already on-site that this place seemingly came out of nowhere to impress me. With such a build-up right off the bat, I already felt the careful planning and thought that went into creating this four-building complex. While it took owner William Lutt a total of three years to build the place and another year to furnish it, he began this venture through the unlikeliest of ways. It was back in 2004 when Lutt, based in San Francisco in the United States at the time, searched online for a place to renew his diving license. As fate would have it, he came upon Puerto Galera. “Aside from the arresting beauty of the place,” Lutt explained, “I also discovered a fantastic international community of Galerians and met my wife, a nursing graduate from a Cebu hospital.” It was the combination of these factors that compelled Lutt to develop the incredible potential of the massive land that he subsequently acquired. As he welcomed us into the main mansion, the entrance took us through an elegant arch that dramatically framed the balcony. Standing from this vantage point, we got a breathtaking eyeful of the Mindoro mountain range which was peppered with a vibrant explosion of plant life. As spectacular as the view was, it was only a hint of better things to come. At that moment, it became obvious to me that the Manor stands for everything that flimsy, haphazard resorts do not. The fusion of Asian and Mediterranean architecture makes use of concrete, stone and wood to give an impression of stability. The custom furniture, on the other hand, creates a very warm and organic feel. Lutt, an enthusiastic individual who deserves an article of his own, proceeded to take us on a tour of the main mansion which has enough features in itself to justify a week-long stay (at minimum).

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The various paintings and sculptures situated around the house have made the place a veritable haven for all forms of artwork. Most of Lutt’s collection was donated by past guests who were smitten by the Manor’s charm (and thereby adding to it by way of their contributions). For instance, the main dining area houses a couple of handmade masks which came from a US-based institute that cares for the mentally challenged. “It’s interesting how people with a supposed IQ of 70 could create something as elaborate as these,” Lutt told us. Looking at the intricately crafted sculptures, I pondered on how little our species really knows about its own grey matter. The masks served as a reminder of just how much of the human brain still remains uncharted to this day. Then, we checked out a threesome of statues made by a 17-year old student from New South Wales. From afar, the statues appear to have been made from expensive materials and premium pieces of wood. Upon close inspection however, they’re actually crafted out of recycled materials. Lutt said, “He basically gathered unused scraps lying around his father’s farm, and this extracurricular project earned him a full scholarship.” One man’s trash I suppose is another man’s work of art. Not looking at all shabby, these striking human likenesses used discarded teabags for the woman’s hair and clothing, as well as magnetic reels taken from old cassette tapes for the man’s beard.

The main mansion sports a number of luxurious spots such as a family room, two VIP suites, as well as an Indonesian and Filipino-themed room. There’s also the presidential suite which many notable political and social figures have used, thanks in part to the built-in receiving area which acts as a buffer for incoming visitors. This room boasts of a sizeable area composed of a king-sized bed as well as slate-covered bathroom walls and floors. The entrance to this suite is also flanked by two heavyset, wooden statues which in my opinion represent the sense of privacy and security that this room offers. A skilled local sculptor was commissioned to create these works of highquality art. Anyone standing in their presence would be thoroughly impressed. These bald, muscular figures project an intimidating vibe, thanks to their permanent, wide-eyed scowl and remarkable build. Lamps right above the sculptures are turned on at night and the overhead light makes them even more forbidding. “That’s why children staying over don’t usually loiter around this area in the evenings,” Lutt said amusingly. Lastly, there’s a honeymoon suite which appropriately takes on a Kama Sutra motif. Featuring a petal-laden bed and wall-mounted candle rests, this room also features a very sensual but tasteful statue of an Indian couple, passionately locked in a warm embrace. I jokingly suggested to Lutt to add a fertility statue, an idea which he seriously considered but concluded that conservative guests might find it too racy. As I walked downhill along the mansion’s fabulously landscaped grounds, I spotted an adult-sized infinity pool and its adjacent kiddie-

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sized counterpart. To accommodate guests’ spiritual needs, a thoughtfully constructed shrine with a life-size figure of the Virgin Mary rests at the bottom of the property. It was only when I went back up that I noticed an outdoor badminton and shuffleboard court. Speaking of which, Lutt and some of the staff had time to play a friendly game of shuffleboard as it was particularly slow that day. Since I was nearby, I paired off with Lutt to play against the staff. For the uninitiated, the game is played by using paddles to push weighted pucks across the court, which is broken up into different score zones. The objective is to strategically place your pucks just on the right spot to score points. Shrewder players may also knock their opponent’s puck off-court (a strategy that the staff used against us) to cancel the other team’s accumulated points. After ending the match in a draw, I realized the amount of finesse and maneuvering needed to win at this seemingly simple game. Another quirky artifact that caught my attention was an oddshaped bell near the badminton court. Lutt pointed out that it’s actually a decommissioned oxygen tank sawed in half. What makes this bell stand out is that it’s been repainted to a nice sheen of silver and embossed with a goldcolored Chinese character on the side. To top it off, it’s hanging on what seems to be a signpost painted in the same color. Next, we came upon a game room which provides even more diversion for its guests. This section of the mansion is ideal for various sports as it is fully furnished with a billiards, table soccer and table tennis sets. Its walls are also adorned with boxing posters of celebrated champions like Manny Pacquiao and Muhammad Ali. As we took notice of the “Thrilla in Manila” poster in particular, Lutt was prompted to excitedly recount the climactic ending of the said match between Ali and Joe Fraizer back in 1975.



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As for the remaining buildings in the area, the Ocean and Garden houses sit right next to the main mansion and boast of their own kitchen. Each of these self-contained units are perfect for “families who feel like making that special dish that grandma used to make,” as Lutt put it. Right across the worship shrine is the aptly named Barkada House which is best suited for groups of friends, thanks to its large dinner tables, double-decker beds and a separate cooking area. Of course, none of these accommodations would be complete without airconditioning, 24-hour cable service, an LCD television, and bathrooms with hot running water. With so much going on within this bustling mansion, one would assume that there’d be enough to keep you busy. However, they can also sign you up for water sports like diving (at up to 36 sites) or parasailing, wind-surfing, and yacht lessons. If that’s not enough, you’re welcome to try kayaking or snorkeling at the nearby sandbar beach. You can take your pick from any of these activities which are immediately accessible and allows a fully customizable and seamless experience. While all of these things already make the Manor a standout location, what really sets it apart are the founding principles of which it was built upon. Lutt declared, “Our main philosophy is broken down into five main concepts: quality, exclusivity, value, luxury and privacy.” Although the features covered so far have spoken volumes of the Manor’s class, there’s also the matter of the meticulous service that goes into this place. “We keep a file of our customers to keep track of their preferences,” Lutt explained. He said that they pay close attention to everyone’s specific inclinations, whether it’s the kind of food they like or the number of pillows they need to rest easy at night. Returning guests are even greeted with something as thoughtful as “Hello (name of guest), welcome back, during your last visit you had (name of dish)…What would you like to have this time?”

“Our main philosophy is broken down into five main concepts: quality, exclusivity, value, luxury and privacy.�

Service doesn’t get any more dedicated than that. Anyone staying here will clearly feel the staff’s genuine desire to pamper you in the way you deserve. It isn’t hard to see that they’re driven to provide guests with a place where they can stay for weeks or months at a time and feel well-taken care of in the process. The cuisine is nothing to sneeze at either. With two internationally-trained chefs at the gastronomical forefront, the Manor provides diners with a multicultural smattering of local and foreign dishes to suit palates of various nationalities. The main thrust of their cooking is to use local ingredients in their recipes. This approach effectively creates a combination of fine eating and simplicity which never fails to satisfy guests and non-staying patrons alike. Even customers who aren’t spending the night go out of their way just to have a taste of the delicious creations that the staff tirelessly whips up. When a place like this regularly churns out culinary hits like pesto and pine nut pizza along with mango crepes laced with hazelnut, it’s easy to see why people in the vicinity have a hard time staying away from the beloved Manor. Another defining aspect of the Manor is its exclusivity which is manifested in the lifetime membership that’s divided into about 300 slots. Lutt explained: “We did the math, and this scheme allows the place a maximum occupancy of only sixty percent at any given time in order to keep it from being too crowded.” From Lutt’s point of view, the Asian idea of luxury is the abundance of space. In most urbanized areas, people living in certain apartments, houses and condominiums usually have the problem of maximizing the cramped space of their residences. As such, he has evoked the concept of spacious luxury through the use of high ceilings and cleverly planned room layouts. The large window frames also exude this spacious feeling by offering guests a wide, panoramic view of the abundant presence of nature right outside their doorstep. He said, “Our balconies, terraces, viewdecks and French doors give you the feeling of being outdoors while being safe within the confines of our property.” When the Manor was still being conceptualized, Lutt envisioned a venue where a community of family and friends could thrive in a relaxing environment free from the stressful trappings of urban life. With such a unique setup in place,

guests from all corners of the country (and the world) can have their hefty share of ample space to slow down and escape from the pressures of daily living. Lutt told me, “Just as several generations of families have gone to the same summer camps in the US, I want to create something of the same spirit over here.” This is why the memberships are fully transferable and can even be passed on as an inheritance for the next of kin. This was done to guarantee the successors of the original members a spot in this cozy getaway in the decades to come. Ultimately, the community that Lutt will be pioneering is assured of a solid sense of longevity, thanks to the structure he’s devised. Furthermore, his business plan is based on a self-sustaining system by bestowing the members of the privilege to earn through revenue generated from walk-in customers. These earnings are rewarded in the form for food and beverage credits which the members can utilize during their stay at the Manor. Additionally, members have the prerogative of letting their friends use their slot and the option of allowing them to consume the said credits (or otherwise). The ironic twist, however, is that the walk-in rates are unexpectedly affordable even for those on a budget. “If I may wax poetic for a moment,” Lutt quipped, “I want to make it known that this is a place where the common man can enjoy the same comforts as the VIPs.” This is exactly the kind of value that is available to a wide range of guests who want to unwind for a bit without worrying about spending too much. “We want to offer a sincere service to the community where you don’t have to be rich just to have a great time,” Lutt explained. People can truly rest easy at the Manor since management is big on privacy. They understand the importance of this specific need, so they’ve taken the liberty of installing safes in most of the rooms as well as sealing off the entire place at night. “When the sun goes down, we have four separate lighting systems to make this place look like something out of New York,” Lutt said with pride. Many high-profile clients have particularly appreciated the Manor’s natural design which allows them the security they require during their precious R and R time.

Like I said earlier, this feature is barely enough to fully encompass the beauty of this well-made resort property, so let me just end it with some of Lutt’s thoughts on his future plans. He told me: “Five years from now, I see myself at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati, together with the members in order to celebrate how far we’ve come.” Not only that, Lutt intends to assign members into committees that will perform specific functions meant for everyone’s benefit. He is clearly an advocate of the expression, “Home is where the heart is,” and understands that the spirit of any place goes beyond bricks and mortar. As such, the strength of the Manor At Puerto Galera is in its numbers, and it’s just a matter time before they get enough people together. All things considered, it won’t take long to reach that point. After all, this is “the number-one mansion in Mindoro, bar none,” as stated by Lutt in a matterof-fact tone. Given what I saw over there, I had every reason to nod in agreement.

Getting There Puerto Galera can be reached via land routes from Manila to Batangas. Travel time to Batangas Pier from Manila is two hours. From Batangas, there are several ferryboat services that bring passengers to Puerto Galera in one or two hours. The Sikat and MV Super 85 Ferry and Bus Services have a package with a bus, coaster or van that goes to Batangas Pier and ferries. Sikat buses depart daily from the lobby of the City State Tower Hotel on 1315 A. Mabini Street, Ermita, Manila, with a departure time of 9 A.M. For more details, visit BLTB, JAM and Tritran buses depart for Batangas Pier from their terminals in EDSA-Pasay, Taft Avenue and Pasay City respectively. At Batangas Pier, there is a wide choice of ferries going to Puerto Galera. Usually the first departure is around 7:30 A.M. and the last ferry leaves at about 4 P.M. There are three main entry points to Puerto Galera by way of its port facilities: Muelle Pier (town proper), Balatero Pier (east of the town proper) and Sabang (north of town proper). Some ferries also go directly to White Beach. From Muelle Pier, the Manor’s pickup service can take you straight to the resort. For more details, get in touch with their office.

Contact Information For reservations and other inquiries, contact Q Exclusive Properties Group at Unit 210, Mile Long Building, Amorsolo Street, Makati City, through telephone numbers (+632) 572-1475 and (+632) 817-1073. Log on to

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One Tagaytay Shaking things up at

By Marko Fojas


agaytay City, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, has come a long way since it took its tentative first step into tourism over 70 years ago. Over the past several decades, this strategicallyplaced city in Cavite, just outside of Metro Manila, has witnessed numerous developments. Not too long ago, the establishments in this sleepy little city were few and far in between. In fact, there were plenty of spots where you could literally drive up and park by the edge of the road for an impromptu picnic with flagship attraction Taal Lake (and volcano) in full view. Today, this lively location is studded with a bevy of restaurants and hotels. While the choices have certainly increased over the years, one could say that this scenic spot’s tourist arena has become a tad bland or saturated. That’s where One Tagaytay Place comes in. As a relatively new player, the hotel’s hip and vibrant quirkiness provides a breath of fresh air for travelers in the vicinity. Right from the start, you’ll get a heavy whiff of the luxury that permeates this place. What might throw you off, however, is feeling this underlying sense of elegance even without the usual trappings associated with traditionally large-scale hotels. In today’s times, extravagance doesn’t always have to be associated with the stuffy drabness that comes with older and bigger establishments. This hotel thrives on the fact that you can enjoy the same comfort of expansive places minus the feeling of being overcrowded. Stepping inside the reception area, I immediately caught a glimpse of the cool shades of brown along with subtle hints of yellow, beige and white. The mishmash of these colors blended seamlessly with the hip and vibrant motif that dominates the place. As I would find out later on, this agreeable first encounter was only a visual hint of the dynamic spirit that defines One Tagaytay inside-out. And so I soon found myself in the dining room of Azalea, their culinary wonder of a coffee shop, with the people that keep the hotel’s unseen machinery running smoothly. Joining me was general manager Karl Velhagen, sales and marketing director Odette Aguilar as well as owners (and brothers) JR and Paolo Francisco. It was during this pleasant chat that they told me about how One Tagaytay Place came into being. The Francisco brothers revealed that the lot which the hotel now occupies wasn’t intended for such a purpose right away. Their father, Dr. Eduardo Francisco, has made numerous investments in real estate over the years and had simply purchased the property in the mid-1990s because of its ideal location. “By 2005, we began conceptualizing what we wanted to do with the place and the project finally pushed through about two years later,” Paolo explained.

At One Tagaytay, guests will get a great first impression because of the energetic vibe of the reception area (top). The rooms are cozy and spacious, without the stuffiness of old-school hotels (second from top). There’s plenty of room to schmooze at the penthouse suite (second from bottom). Brothers JR and Paolo Francisco keep things running smoothly (left).

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Not your typical pool: the view makes taking a dip twice as fun.

Having opened its doors to the public just last year, One Tagaytay’s catchy name is part of what got people curious enough to give this newcomer a try. JR said: “The word one was always present among all the names we initially thought of.” He pointed out that there was just something oddly fitting about having the word as a constant part of all the combination of titles they came up with. Paolo offered a couple of reasons behind the chosen number: “At the outset of this project, we envisioned our hotel to be the one place to go in all of Tagaytay.” Paolo added that the number one also symbolizes their first effort into the hospitality business. Karl informed me that Dr. Francisco’s other real estate ventures largely involve condominiums. As such, this hotel marks the start of a new undertaking for the family. However, JR stated that this new effort was a wellresearched one. “We did our homework, and we first thought of putting up a time share,” he said. “But after some careful consideration we eventually decided on what you see today.” “This place is managed by Genesis Hotels which provides the logistical framework needed for its daily operations,” Odette said. She explained that Genesis provides the front office management systems and software so guests will have a smooth and hassle-free experience while checking in, dining and so on. Clearly, the combination of structures in place ensures that everything is in good working order for the customer’s ultimate benefit.



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After a hearty and deliciously unconventional breakfast of sausage and caramelized onions, I took a tour around this refreshingly different hideaway. For our first stop, Odette took me all the way to the tenth floor to get a first-hand look at the penthouse suites. The clever design of these rooms is consistent with the fresh vibe that the hotel gives off. The spacious layout, ample furniture and visually pleasing hues caught my eye as I stepped inside. “This is perfect for groups of about four to six people,” Odette pointed out, “whether it’s for barkadas, families or executives.” As with most of the rooms, the penthouse suite includes a viewing deck to give guests a wonderful eyeful of the awesome scenery. A sweet escape awaits the corporate folks who are burned out from the pollution and frenzied pace of the urban jungle. If you need to do some serious brainstorming for that upcoming sales campaign, the unmatched backdrop will do plenty to jumpstart your creative side. On the other hand, this same visual landscape is most conducive for groups who seek inner peace in the form of spiritual retreats and other religious functions. All in all, there are a total of 120 guest rooms, which have the same soothing palette as well as standard comforts like a minibar, a cable-enabled LCD TV, Wi-Fi access and even a voice mail account. Not only that, there are also electronic in-room safes which further cement the hotel’s emphasis on privacy and security. Additionally, these living spaces are so well-conceived that there are a percentage of units dedicated for long-term residents. Our next destination was the 300-square-meter attraction known as the Aurora Grand Ballroom. This pillar-less facility is equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology, featuring

a wide-screen projector and a state-of-the-art PA sound system monitored from a separate control booth. While there are four other function rooms for smaller scale events, all of these rooms feature the necessities to make a wedding reception, business conference, empowerment seminar and any other significant get-together as hassle-free as possible. Together, these function rooms appeal to a wide market of varying customers in need of a cozy place to celebrate some of life’s most memorable gatherings. It’s this kind of flexibility that helps One Tagaytay kick off to a rolling start by reeling in as many types of customers as possible. As a whole, the staff’s customer service philosophy is definitely something others can take hints from. Karl told me: “As the newest kid on the block, we strive to get ahead by making a mark. We intend to do that by providing the best alternative for leisure travelers, groups of friends, families and couples.” Indeed, the hard-working people at One Tagaytay do their best by keeping their finger on the proverbial pulse of their clients and maintain a highly customized kind of customer service. This is done in many ways, be it through anticipating the guests’ preferences or with their adjustable room rates. “We understand that customers have particular needs, so we avoid being rigid with what we offer to them.” JR added that they “listen to client feedback which provides (us) insight about what people actually want.” To be specific, they’re aware of the different niches that give them business so they make sure that their accommodations are attractive to couples and honeymooners. Of course, the other rooms (as mentioned earlier) also cater to different types of people, whether they’re traveling on business or pleasure. The discreet yet lavish layout brings about another quality that people look for: seclusion. Scrumptious sausage and caramelized onions make for a unique and filling breakfast.

“Companies that need to plan for a fast-approaching product launch can rest easy knowing that they can do so without fear of being seen by the competition,” Paolo said. It’s easy for rival corporations to run into each other since they’re more likely to share the same venue for similar gatherings within the dense locations around Metro Manila. Let’s not forget the fabulous cooking which is essentially an extension of their personalized service. Though their cuisine has a wide range of local and international dishes to choose from, there are a number of in-house favorites and specialties that punctuate the hotel’s well-rounded menu. Some of the mouthwatering offerings include their signature take on the popular bulalo, a warm, beefy broth dish that goes particularly well with Tagaytay’s cold climate. We also had the pleasure of feasting on paella, a plentiful treat which was recently added to their line-up. This rice-based Spanish dish is an explosion of flavors, thanks to generous portions of seafood such as mussels and shrimps mixed into the recipe. Paolo, whose favorites on the menu include cream of tomato soup and burger with rice, said the hotel’s culinary arsenal is part of what gives them an edge. The numerous praises and testimonials they’ve received from satisfied diners are evidence of their meticulous attention to the guests’ preferences. As they say, people eat with their eyes first—you’d best pay a visit (if only for the food) to see for yourself what a knockout the beautifully presented dishes are. To put it lightly, One Tagaytay’s cuisine is the perfect marriage of taste and beauty. “Since we’re on the quieter side of town, we’ve also taken measures to keep our guests thoroughly occupied if they don’t feel like going outside,” said Karl. He was referring, of course, to the rest of the world-class facilities that round out this hip hangout. First off, there’s a commercial center built right into the area which includes a convenience store and delicacy shop. There’s also a fitness center you can check out if you want to work up a sweat during your stay here. Little ones and

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If the crisp air doesn’t clear your head, a soothing massage definitely will.

grown-ups alike will be able to splash around in the adult- and kiddie-size pools while enjoying a nice view of the greenery and surrounding residences. Lastly, there’s a spa just a stone’s throw away if you’re overdue for some good old TLC. One of the notable services is their aromatherapy treatment. The spa has a “scent station” imported from overseas which has long vials filled with various fragrances. You can choose which scent you’d like to use. With its bronze trimmings, this cluster of long cylindrical dispensers resembles a pipe organ from the mid 1800s. If you think that’s enough, you’ll be pleased to know One Tagaytay is also doing its share of corporate social responsibility in a handful of ways. One such example is taking great pains in order to be in harmony with the environment the hotel finds itself in. “The look, feel and physical stature of our place was designed to make it unobtrusive with the ecosystem here,” Karl stressed. Aside from that, they’ve also collaborated with the local barangay to do tree-planting events as well as outreach projects for the nearby community and schools. They’ve even offered

plenty of employment opportunities by integrating many of the local folks into their regular staff. As for future plans, they’re planning to capitalize on their rapidly gathering steam by way of an unorthodox marketing approach. Instead of the usual print, TV and radio plugs, they’re more focused on spreading the word through the Internet, not to mention glowing reviews from guests who’ve actually stayed over. This alternative method helps the hotel establish a loyal customer base which is increasing at an exponential rate. Furthermore, an al-fresco steak bar and restaurant is in the works which will unsurprisingly up the ante for the competition. “Putting up a hotel during these hard economic times,” Karl mused, “shows the daringness of the family to pursue such a venture.” Perhaps it’s their strict adherence to a dynamic flexibility that gives them the confidence to stay ahead of the pack. With so much potential waiting to be tapped, One Tagaytay Place is destined to continuously confound its guests’ expectations again and again.

Getting There One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites is in the barrio of Sungay in Tagaytay City, Cavite. If you’re taking the SLEX, exit via Santa Rosa. After leaving the tollgate, make a right turn to the Tagaytay-Santa Rosa road. You’ll soon pass the Tagaytay City market before hitting the junction. At the junction, turn left, going towards People’s Park and Picnic Grove, and travel about 800 meters to find One Tagaytay Place on your left. For those traveling via Aguinaldo Highway, coming from Coastal Road, go straight towards Tagaytay Circle. Once at the Rotonda, make a left towards People’s Park and Picnic Grove. This will take you to the junction which is approximately 800 meters away from One Tagaytay, found on the left side of the road.

Contact Information Call Tagaytay reservations office through phone numbers (+046) 483-0111 and (+046) 483-5813 to 17. Call Manila sales office at phone numbers (+632) 818-8318, (+632) 584-4111 and (+632) 584-4156, or mobile number (0922) 834-8874. One can also fax through number (+632) 818-8319, e-mail or, or log on to



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Serendipity Subic Bay

By Bernard L Supetran


ho hasn’t heard about Subic Bay Freeport Zone’s lush tropical forests, fine-sand beaches, close-to-nature adventure, special interest destinations or gastronomic delights? Chances are every true-blue traveler has this naval base-turned-tourism enclave in his must-see checklist. And who wouldn’t fall in love with this tranquil community by the bay with its romantic sunsets, intimate ambiance and eclectic character? As one poet puts it, “the mountains meet the sea” in Subic. With the opening of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), this travel haunt just got closer to Manila’s concrete jungle, so much so that it becomes irresistible as it beckons travel bugs in this season of rain and typhoons. Cancellation of plane flights and boat transfers or getting stranded in airports or piers because of inclement weather should not scare the living daylights out of you. Subic is just a seamless two-hour drive through the world-class roads of the North Luzon Expressway and the SCTEX. But what makes this weekend getaway a serendipity or unexpected find is a quaint boutique hotel on the northern end of Subic’s bayfront boulevard, which has become the zone’s icon of style and luxury. The two-year old Lighthouse Marina Resort is a spanking three-floor, 34-room hotel which has captured the fancy of seasoned Subic goers and has become the place to be seen in this side of town. “When we decided to build a hotel in Subic, we thought of a unique concept that will leave a mark in the saturated market. As a family engaged in the shipping industry for decades, we found the lighthouse theme very appropriate,” explains Zedrik Avecilla, the hotel’s marketing manager and scion of the owner. The hotel has creatively maximized space in so little a land area without the feeling of being cramped and makes guests realize the beauty in the old dictum, “Small is beautiful.” Its centerpiece is a twenty-meter functioning lighthouse whose radiance can be seen from as far as the Redondo Peninsula in Bataan. “Ask any navigator or fisherman, and they will tell you that a lighthouse is indispensable in ensuring the safety of vessels at sea,” enthuses Avecilla, a sailing enthusiast himself who has gone around the archipelago. Upon entering the hotel, guests are greeted by the cozy and intimate interiors with the warm white color, giving visitors a lasting first impression. “Comfort and elegance is our guiding principle with our minimalist yet classy design. We want to be known for surpassing expectations and maintain high standards of service, and not just being a typical boutique hotel where everything is done on a small scale,” he adds.

For after-dinner indulgence, unwind and sip the best spirits in town at the 720 Bar located at the base of the hotel’s lighthouse tower. Interestingly, 720 in sailors’ parlance refers to the two 360-degree turns which are served as penalty for infraction of regulations in a regatta. But as far as the hotel is concerned, the 720 Bar is not a punishment, but a relaxing reward at the end of a hard-day’s work. Avecilla also pointed out that the hotel is emerging as a venue for beach weddings and honeymoons because of its idyllic features. He pointed out that The Lighthouse stretches its creativity to offer newly-wed couples scintillating treats every romantic can think.

Luxury begins when you check in the spacious and wellappointed rooms, with types to choose from—Aqua Room, Aqua Terrace, Aqua Veranda and Aqua Spa Suite, which has a private Jacuzzi. Each room boasts of a 42-inch color LCD TV, DVD player, mini bar, ultra comfort mattresses with plush pillows and fabrics, coffee-maker, personal safe, Internet access, and a veranda with a soothing view of Subic’s environs. The piece de resistance is the glass-walled bathroom with a free-standing tub and a glass-enclosed shower area. Tastefully designed to pamper guests, each bathroom evokes elegance with its high-quality amenities. Worry not if rains shut you in as The Lighthouse rooms are good enough to make for quality time for family bonding with its board and card games. The wide-screen TV is compatible with laptops or Wii and PS2 game consoles for children. The hotel also has a wide array of DVD tapes of Hollywood hits. Avecilla said that the staff’s warm and personalized service more than compensates with its perceived lack of physical amenities offered by big hotels. At chow time, the Sands Restaurant has a wealth of gastronomic delights featuring seafood, Mediterranean and international cuisine. The hotel’s weekend al-fresco buffet dinner is simply a blast with its intimate dinners under the stars and lovely evening landscape and live entertainment to boot.



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“We take the extra mile to make honeymooners enjoy the time of their lives with our unique offerings such as sunset cruise with a private serenade, island barbeque onboard a speed boat, picnic in a secluded waterfalls in Subic’s rainforest, or a butlerassisted candle-lit dinner in a private veranda,” he beams. The young lad also envisions Lighthouse to be a mini yacht club of sort to entice its members to engage in water sports such as sailing and kayaking. This dream is slowly coming into fruition with the construction of a small jetty for adventurous yachtsmen who want to sail from Manila to Subic. Currently, the hotel offers sailing lessons or cruises aboard his Purpose Driven yacht which has been to the most gorgeous bodies of water and has raced in prestigious tournaments in the country. It will soon have kayaks for rent for those who want to paddle their way to adventure. “If you have something in mind that will make your stay more memorable, tell us and we’ll be more than glad to make it happen,” Avecilla concludes. Now, if that isn’t serendipity, I don’t know what is.

Contact Information The Lighthouse Marina Resort is located at the Waterfront Road, Moonbay Marina Complex of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in the province of Zambales. For inquiries and information, call phone number (047) 252-5000 or fax (047) 252-7527. Web site is www.

Tropical Getaway Truly a

By Vernadette T. Joven


t was my second day in Cebu, and I was up for more adventure since I have literally the rest of the weekend to spare. My next stop I was told is a tropical getaway, and it sounds like a refreshing and relaxing reprieve for me after traveling for more than an hour from the city. I was not disappointed. As soon as I set foot on Plantation Bay and saw the panoramic view of the entire resort, all the fatigue from the long travel vanished, replaced with renewed energy. Looking around the tropical resort from the reception villa, I was immediately captured by its rustic Southern charm, and the allure of the waterscape prepped me up for my overnight stay. While waiting for my room assignment, I browsed at some brochures displayed at the lounge, and an interesting booklet entitled “Don’t Panic: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Plantation Bay” caught my attention. Inside it are 38 interesting information about the resort and a list of possible things to do. Another useful tool is the illustrated map of the resort, which contains detailed markings and points of interest inside the 11.4-hectare tropical resort. Armed with the hitchhiker’s guide and map, I rode the shuttle jeep that goes around the resort and went to find the villa where I will be staying. Since the ride began counter-clockwise, I had a chance to have quick tour of the entire resort, wherein I was treated with a picturesque view of the lagoon, its Spanish colonial villas and the seamless landscaping of tropical gardens and boulder formations that encompasses the entire plantation.

Accommodation Reaching fourth from the last shuttle stop is Edu Hall, a twolevel, wooden decked villa that boasts of colonial architecture and a “room with a view.” A quick look inside confirmed the latter as I proceeded and opened the sliding wooden doors that led to the verandah, overlooking the lagoon. Surveying the room further, native furnishings dominated the interiors, evoking a homey feel that remains true to the rustic ambiance of Plantation Bay. From the high four-poster beds to the carved chairs and tables, it was like stepping into a page in history that is uniquely timeless. However, while it follows the look of old Manila, the basic resort necessities and a fully equipped restroom (complete with a Jacuzzi) are available for guests’ disposal. One common thing in all the 250 guest rooms and the twenty suites is the close proximity to either of the freshwater or saltwater lagoon, a private pool and cascading streams or waterfalls. The water component plays an integral part in the resorts’ thematic Caribbean community, combining places of relaxation with leisure by serving either as a centerpiece for each clustered villas, always in close proximity with water. In addition to its accommodation arrangements, the resort also houses a private enclave for small groups and intimate gatherings at Piazza Palermo and Quantum Villa, addressing the guests’ clamor for more capacity. The resort also has conference and business facilities, tailor-made for events and other functions. Plantation Bay Resort offers guests numerous possibilities for fun and relaxation. A golf cart shaped like a jeepney will take guests around the sprawling resort.

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The Mogambo Springs Spa has an array of treatments and facilities.

Indulgence Since it was already an hour before sunset when I finished settling in, I decided to move the ocular inspection of the resort to the following day and avail of a thirty-minute massage instead at Mogambo Springs before my scheduled dinner. The Mogambo Springs is the spa facility of Plantation Bay, which unlike the resort’s tropical and colonial concept carries a Zen-inspired look and feel, complementing the indulgence package treatments that promise utmost relaxation. Following the resort’s water-centric setting, a hot whirlpool serves as a lounge area leading to ten massage rooms, while a saltwater spring, a cold pool and a massage falls, which offers therapeutic relief, are available on the other side of Mogambo Springs. From massage therapies, body treatments to facial and beauty salon services, Mogambo Springs offers an oasis for weary bodies and those who are looking for a luxurious treat. In addition, Vichy shower facilities with a rain bar, a dry-heat sauna, a steam room and four Jacuzzi jets are also available to compliment the spa’s services. Now to complete the total spa experience, guests can also opt to stay in one of Mogambo Springs’ suites and private villa, so that massages and treatments can be enjoyed right at the comforts of your own room. For the full-body massage, I chose a combination of Japanese shiatsu and Swedish massage, which has energizing and relaxing effects to the body. It was pure indulgence and pampering for me as I let go of the day’s stress and fatigue with every stretch and pressure applied on my body.



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Leisure After engaging in a pampering session, I headed off to Palermo for a night of jazz and gastronomic specialties. It was a perfect way to cap the night off as I sampled Italian cuisine such as crabmeat ravioli in creamy white sauce and chocolate mint gelato with almond basket. Other equally sumptuous dining facilities include Fiji, which offers seafood, Japanese, Korean and other Asian cuisines; Kilimanjaro Kafe, which carries an international menu; and Savannah Grill, which serves American dishes such as burgers, hotdogs, steaks, and salads. Meanwhile Galapagos Beach regularly hosts Filipino fiesta (with cultural shows) and Hawaiian luau, while Korean buffet and barbeque cookout are held at Peninsula and Orion Beach respectively. The following day, after a hefty breakfast at Kilimanjaro Kafe, I decided to explore the resort grounds both on foot and via a guided tour. I found out that the clusters of villas and rooms are alphabetically arranged and are themed according to the names they carry, mostly after exotic places both factual and fictional. There are also a lot of spots for intimate escapes like the elevated pools below Mogambo Springs and the secret cave in the main freshwater lagoon. Aside from indulging on spa treatments and tempting cuisines, and swimming in the host of springs and saltwater lagoons, there are a wide range of activities that can be enjoyed inside the resort, including wall climbing, tennis, archery, fishing, billiards, tabletop soccer, air hockey, video games, table tennis, target shooting at the firing range, and pitch and putt. Meanwhile, aqua sports such as wake boarding, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, sailing (Hobie cat), and jet ski can be enjoyed at Galapos Beach, as well as island hopping, a sunset cruise and a banca ride. Overall, this self-contained tropical paradise combines all the elements of an ideal getaway: ambiance and privacy, comfortable accommodation, good food and numerous activities. There’s really something for everyone at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

Getting There Domestic and international flights go to Cebu daily, arriving at the Mactan International Airport. Direct international flights come from Hong Kong, Singapore, Doha, Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Palau, Taipei and Shanghai. Domestic flights come mostly from Manila. There are also daily ferries to Cebu from Manila, Tagbilaran, Dumaguete and Leyte. From the Mactan International Airport, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa is a short drive away.

Contact Information The Plantation Bay Resort and Spa is in Marigondon, Mactan Island, Cebu, with telephone number (+63-32) 340-5900 and fax number (+63-32) 340-5988. The Manila office is at Suite 906, National Life Insurance Building, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, with telephone numbers (+632) 844-5024 to 25 and fax number (+632) 844-5030. For inquiries and reservations e-mail or Web site is

Taal Vista Enhancing a Getaway at the



s a new dawn rises in the glorious mountains of Tagaytay City, a new face of Taal Vista Hotel peeks through the horizon, a testament to SM Investments Corporation’s commitment to bring hotel excellence in one of the most relaxing places in the country. Not just merely doubling room facilities, Taal Vista Hotel is now the biggest and grandest convention hotel in Tagaytay, boasting a total of 16 function rooms, a thousand-seat grand ballroom, and with an additional 133 exquisitely new rooms the hotel is more than capable in accommodating the biggest of groups in their most significant of occasions. Taal Vista Hotel’s picturesque quality that attracts those who long for a relaxing getaway remains even after its expansion, which has even enhanced the unique Taal Vista appeal. Many of the new rooms have the most spectacular view

of the Taal volcano and lake. Just imagine opening your eyes in the morning with the grand view of the beautiful volcano right in front of you. Then while sipping coffee, the nippy mountain breeze that is distinctly Tagaytay gently brushes your skin. It is an experience that can totally refresh your perception of a morning’s greeting. To make the hotel truly the best in its class and region, Taal Vista is brimming with offers that would appeal to their corporate clients, families and guests. New dining spots is up and running, promising to delight the taste buds with exciting culinary creations from local to international cuisine. The classy Lobby Lounge is still a spot where you can just chill. Gazing out from its floor-to-ceiling glass windows to the awe-inspiring view of the volcano and lake, it can be a surreal experience. Rediscover Taal Vista Hotel as it brings in new and exciting options for you and much more.

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Contact Information Taal Vista Hotel is at Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, Cavite. Its Manila sales office is at the ground floor of One E-commerce Center, Harbor Drive, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. For inquiries and reservations, call (+632)751-03088 to 89, (+632) 751-3117, (+632) 886-4325 or (+46) 413-1000. Web site is

A cco m m od a tions

Hotel Vida Living the Life at

By Marlet D. Salazar

THE COOL BREEZE THAT TOUCHES YOUR FACE and the calmness at night make you wonder if you are indeed inside an industrialized free port zone. There is so much to look forward to in enjoying at the Clark Freeport Zone, and the choices of abode abound. One of these is a year-old hotel just five minutes away from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. Hotel Vida is a work in progress, but is still a perfect place to stay with all the amenities, scrumptious food and nearby recreation areas. It’s just an hour-and-a-half drive from Metro Manila via North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) or Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).



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Commuters can take a bus going to Dau, get off at the terminal and take another transportation, maybe a cab or jeepney, going inside Clark. With its accessibility to major roads, Hotel Vida is not hard to miss along Manuel A. Roxas Highway. Situated in a 64-hectare lot, the first tower already has 125 rooms. The concept of the hotel is more modern Asian Zen-like, the one that gives a warm and calm feeling. Earth tones dominate the walls and ceiling of the whole building. Even the furniture, which resident manager Cecille Flores-Sanchez proudly declares are made in Pampanga, are of brown hues.

Hotel Vida is the only deluxe hotel in Clark Freeport Zone.

Modern Asian Zen “The idea with the entry points in almost all floors is for the positive air to come inviting peace and serenity,” Flores-Sanchez said. Aside from the carefully designed outdoor pool, Hotel Vida also boasts of man-made water features that not only adds to its nature-themed concept but may also be linked to some sort of feng shui belief on the benefits of running water. Flores-Sanchez also said Hotel Vida, managed by Widus International Leisure Company, is the “only deluxe hotel in Clark that boasts of a presidential suite.” The deluxe rooms, junior suites, and one-bedroom suites are spacious and exudes a homey feeling unlike in the usual hotels. Each has sofas, bar and kitchen corners and are also furnished with flat screen TVs. The rooms have a view of either the pool or the golf course. The Hotel Vida spa is the perfect place for relaxation while the gym is for the health fitness buff. Hotel Vida aims to capture the corporate and leisure market. The management is looking at the year 2014 for the completion of the whole project, which will bring activity to Clark. The casino is set to open this month. Sanchez-Flores said the design is, again, very modern complete with entertainment area and restaurant inside. Other amenities to look forward to are the theme park, another hotel (tower 2), and the convention center.

some guests can enjoy golf at the Mimosa Golf Course at contracted rates. Families and group of friends can go to El Kabayo, not far from the hotel’s location. For those who are in for a vacation, they can visit the Nayong Pilipino, Paradise Ranch, Clark Museum, Clear Water, Mount Pinatubo, and of course the duty-free shops. The lush greenery surrounding the hotel provides for soothing relaxation. It’s not so humid here as in other areas in Central Luzon. ‘Festival’ of international cuisine The menu of Hotel Vida’s coffee shop, Salt, can be compared to a festival of international cuisine. Aside from homegrown Pampangan cuisine, guests have a choice of a la carte breakfast from Continental to Korean dishes. According to Hotel Vida’s food and beverage manager Cesar Reyes, the bestseller so far is the Caesar’s salad. It is not only the presentation that keeps the salad as the top choice but also because it consists of the fresh and crunchy Romaine lettuce, herb croutons and crusted Parmesan cheese sprinkled with Caesar’s dressing. The bestselling Caesar’s salad at Salt

Casino brings life to Clark The casino is the main attraction while the other amenities are being built. Looking at the plan, it seems that Hotel Vida will cover the highway as well as C.M. Recto Street. The theme park is aimed at child guests while the other recreation areas are for their parents. “This development aims to bring more activity to Clark,” Flores-Sanchez said. But in the meantime, guests of Hotel Vida can enjoy the nearby activities also offered by the hotel. For one,

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with of course the stuffing which is a hotdog, was just right to the palette. However, the voul o’vent wouldn’t have been great with curry powder and seafood stock powder, but the fresh cream was just overpowering that one bite is enough. Reyes is most proud of their bistek Tagalog “because it’s cooked the real Pampangan way.” Of the nine kitchen staff, most of them are Pampangans, which explains the authentic taste of the coffee shop’s local offerings. Reyes made a special mention of Italian and Filipino fusion of ginisa (sautéed spaghetti). This is something to try out. On weekends, Hotel Vida holds Mongolian Barbecue Night for the night crawlers. Expats who crave for steaks have a choice of American and Australian beef while the health conscious can opt for ostrich’s leaner meat. At present, Salt has an ongoing promo of additional wine for every order of steak, and the price is quite reasonable, Reyes said. Since most of the market of Hotel Vida is from Korea, the hotel has a Korean corner and at least one dish during days of buffet breakfast. However, Reyes said the dishes have to be authentic as Koreans can easily distinguish the ones that are not real Korean food. “In fact, for our kimchi alone, we have a separate freezer, and we use only the sale imported from Korea,” Reyes said.

The coffee shop Salt (above) offers a wide array of eats like the blueberry cheesecake (top) and pot roast beef (middle).

Salt’s pot roast beef and baked fish fillet are also winners. The beef is soft but not soggy, tasty yet not salty. It’s roasted to perfection and leaves a pleasant taste in your taste buds. The Mediterranean mixed seafood soup may look like a simple orange-colored soup but the tang prepares you for a hearty meal ahead. Experience Travel and Living tried the new dishes that will be introduced in the menu. The stuffed pork belly, seasoned with star anise, sugar, soy sauce, and A1 sauce



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Malt Bar’s mark In just a few months, Malt Bar has become the convergence of choice for night birds in Clark. Malt Bar is not the usual loud bar with ear-blasting music. It is more of chill-out place perfect for easy conversations and as a relaxing hub after a day’s work. The concept was Reyes’s who made it minimalist, playing with only the colors of black, gray and white matching with blue lights. “It’s very modern but also very cozy,” he said. Another favorite in Malt Bar aside from the cool ambience is their signature drink, Booze Clues, a concoction of five spirits. You can top it off with a platter of “street food.” This may be the only place where one can see tie-wearing executives and office workers eating kwek-kwek and isaw, only with a touch of some class. When the whole project is completed, it will more or less be like this: 1.6 hectares of theme park, 1.2 hectare of villas, 1.6 hectare of another hotel, and the casino, which will cover 1.9 hectare. But more importantly, “it will generate more jobs for the locals as we opt to employ residents of Pampanga,” Flores-Sanchez said. Aside from being the cuisine capital of the country, Pampanga, especially Clark, has some secrets that need to be revealed too, and that includes Hotel Vida’s homey, calm and relaxing atmosphere

Contact Information Hotel Vida is located at 5414 Manuel A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport Zone Pampanga, with telephone number (045) 499-1000, fax number: (045) 499-0762 and Web site

Hotel Vida resident manager Cecille Flores-Sanchez (inset, above) says the hotel has modern amenities like the pool (above) and the Jacuzzi in the presidential suite (inset, top).

Timeshare Program for Hotel Vida Patrons Widus Vacation Club Timeshare Program is a vacation ownership program that allows members to spend several nights a year at a very minimal cost. Each member and their families can enjoy seven, 14, 21 or 28 nights at their chosen dates. Aside from this privilege, they can also enjoy special contracted rates aside from the mentioned privilege nights. The timeshare program also gives members 25 percent discount at Salt Coffee Shop and Malt Bar, and twenty percent discount on all services at the Hotel Vida Spa. Another program that Hotel Vida cooked up for its valued patrons is the Widus Vacation Club Serviced Residences Program. Members

will have thirty free nights up to a maximum of ninety nights every year. For the days members, don’t use the unit; they will have a share in the rental services paid for by other guests who are billeted in their units. Hotel Vida has a special program called the Vida Circle that enables members to enjoy discounts and privileges by paying only Php6,500. Members will receive a book of vouchers of discounts and freebies they can use during their visits at the Hotel Vida. For more information on membership programs, contact Hotel Vida’s membership department at (+63 45) 499-4387 or at (+63 45) 499-1000. You can also inquire by e-mail with

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Hotels and Resorts on its Way

RECOGNIZING THE EXPONENTIAL NEED AND demand of luxury and business accommodations in the bustling Muntinlupa and upscale Alabang area, the Bellevue Hotel, the destination of choice in the southern Metro Manila, is stepping up to the challenge. With three expansion projects for the south and a beach resort underway, the Bellevue is redefining boundaries and changing the face of the hotel industry once more. With the very large volume of corporate accounts and long-staying guests from Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Alabang, Muntinlupa and Paranaque, the demand for rooms are exceptionally high, prompting the Bellevue to create a new wing to cope with the booming market. The Bellevue’s new Tower Wing is expected to fill in this void with its 235 rooms, capping the hotel’s room count to 459. Opening on October, the Tower Wing builds on the strengths and beauty of its predecessor and adds a bit more.



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The Tower Wing’s architecture is done by architects Esteban and Gavino Tan with its interiors by architect Arlen de Guzman, the same team behind the original and stately Bellevue Hotel. The new wing boasts of a rich Asian-inspired design mixed with post-modern interiors, evoking a sense of beauty and timelessness. Aside from its luxurious rooms, the new wing will also have two specialty dining outlets: a Chinese restaurant with a seating capacity of 200 guests and a Japanese/Korean one for 100, providing a rich multicultural dining experience. Its leisure bar boasts of a two-storey wine cellar as well as an outdoor area to chill out and listen to good music. Designed to give the most comfortable stay a hotel can give in the Metro Manila, the Bellevue brings to reality the vision of ultimate comfort and convenience. Adding to the Bellevue’s family of hotels is a smaller one to be built at the heart of the business district of Alabang at Madrigal Business Park. Targeted for costconscious businessmen and travelers, Parcvue Hotel will

From conquering the Alabang market to the verdant landscape of Bohol, The Bellevue continually reshapes satisfaction and luxury.

still have the quality, standards and class of the original property but with more selective services and amenities, without sacrificing the trademark Bellevue quality and space every guest needs. With the prevalence of the tourism and retirement market, the Bellevue is also set to build their very own condominium name The Bellevue Residences. To rise beside the new Tower Wing, The Residences will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom units and is geared to be a high-end premium residence, complete with its own spa, gym and swimming pool. Only 100 to 150 units will be built to ensure spacious units for each resident in the 26-storey tower. After dominating the southern market, the Bellevue sets its sights on the island paradise of Bohol. The masterplan for the luxury resort is to have 139 rooms, including several beachfront villas. With a lofty goal to be the best resort hotel in Bohol, the resort, to be designed by Recio-Casas, will offer a 200-meter beachfront, two

swimming pools, including a four-meter dive pool, a rejuvenating spa village, and a majestic ballroom good for 300 people. Located fifteen minutes away from the airport, Bellevue Bohol is gearing up to be the luxury haven at Panglao’s beach paradise. For those looking for their own romantic island getaway, each Ocean Villa will have a private plunge pool and their special beachfront honeymoon suite will have its own infinity pool. From conquering the Alabang market to the verdant landscape of Bohol, the Bellevue continually reshapes satisfaction and luxury. With an unwavering commitment into serving the needs of the community, the Bellevue shines on and adds a touch of class to our lives.

Contact Information The Bellevue Hotel is located at North Bridgeway, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City. For inquiries, call (632) 771-8181.

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Pan Pacific Manila The Butler Hotel:

WHILE BUTLERS HAVE PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE household of the rich and the royal for centuries, it was in 1998 when Pan Pacific Manila opened its doors to the public and introduced the Butler concept. Since then, the butlers of the Pan Pacific Manila have mastered the fine art of rendering impeccable service having been trained to anticipate the needs of every guest. Feel the distinct luxury in any of the 236 thoughtfully appointed, all-executive, spacious rooms and suites. Contemporary in style, the breathtaking views of the Manila skyline and bay is made possible by the floor-to-ceiling glass walls. State-of-the-art audio and video facilities make the hotel ideal for any event, celebratory occasions to professional meetings. The spacious Conference Suite, Grand Ballroom and boardrooms plus the assistance of the highly experienced banquets team ensure that all needs and expectations are met, if not exceeded. For dining options, the Pacific Lounge located at the topmost floor allows you to marvel at the splendid 180-degree view of the city skyline and Manila Bay. The Pacific Lounge also offers meeting areas, bar and a rooftop garden where one can unwind with a cool breeze to soothe the mind and body. The classic white gazebo amidst waterfalls and lush tropical landscape is perfect for a quiet rendezvous or



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romantic candlelit dinner. At the Lobby Lounge, guests can enjoy light conversations with friends or discuss important business matters with the wide selection of freshly squeezed juices, coffees, teas, wines, beers and cocktails. Set amidst a tropical landscape, guests may enjoy food and drinks from the Poolside Bar after a dip in the swimming pool, while sunbathing at the Pool Deck or simply relaxing at the outdoor jacuzzi. The celebration of culture and tradition infused into every facet of the Pan Pacific experience, from the warmth of the associates to carefully selected premium amenities and style designs. Experience the genuine care and heartwarming welcome in true Filipino Style, straight from the heart of the Butler, of course! Pan Pacific Manila is the first and finest luxury hotel in the region offering personalized Butler service.

Contact Information Pan Pacific Manila is at M. Adriatico corner Gen. Malvar Streets, Malate, Manila 1004, Philippines, with telephone number (632) 536 0788, fax number (632) 536 6220, e-mail reserve.mnl@ Visit

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Heritage Hotel The


Moves Forward IN 2007, AFTER A CAREFULLY planned refurbishment program, the Heritage Hotel Manila unveiled its contemporary new look in its 450 rooms and suites, serving as the biggest permanent one-man exhibition of noted modern abstract artist, Nestor Olarte Vinluan . The Heritage Hotel also redesigned its front desk to showcase the modern ceramic artworks of renowned artist Lanelle Abueva-Fernando. Guests are welcomed and ensconed in the presence of the enigmatic objet d’art. Each piece is a sublime interpretation of the tranquility and transcendence of the seemingly infinitesimal cycles of skyscapes and seascapes. The swanky Heritage Hotel has been suitably redesigned with a modern chic motif inspired by Manila Bay’s resurging lifestyle ripe for a luxurious mix of business and leisure. The highlight of Heritage Hotel’s new style in the rooms and suites are reflected through the light earthen hues and bright ambiance that seamlessly merges comfort and sophistication to create spaces in which guests may relax, indulge and bond with associates, family and friends. Guests staying at the hotel are greeted by grandeur as they enter the hotel lobby. The neo-classical splendour in colossal columns and majestic chandeliers, provide patrons a social milieu in which to sip cocktails or recharge with a cup of the signature Heritage coffee, entertain friends and converse with other guests. For those who need to keep tabs with business partners or loved ones on-line or simply sit back and unwind, the Lobby Lounge offers access to wireless Internet and a variety of good reads. In the evenings the Lobby Lounge takes on a whole new feel as a sultry songbird together with an acoustic band begins to envelop the atmosphere with soothing music accompanied by a grand piano.



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Besides the Lobby Lounge, guests with élan simply have to step into the Riviera Café to imbibe its modern French Riviera feel as a haven for the rich and famous. Snazzy up your rendezvous for two, make it or break it deal or celebrations of success and milestones amidst the Riviera Café’s bountiful feast of rich textures, fine flavors and elegant Eastern and Western cuisine in a beguiling lunch or dinner buffet. Guests are also invited to relax and enjoy the warm and sunny Manila weather from the comforts of the Riviera Café’s al fresco area, poolside lounge chair or the soothing cool waters of the pool. As guests explores further, their thirst for good times and thrills of luck will be satiated at the three floors of the PAGCOR Casino. For guests organizing intimate gatherings or business congregations, the Heritage Hotel’s Artists Ballroom and Grand Ballroom are the perfect venue for weddings, debuts, birthdays, anniversaries and conventions. Breaking from the adrenaline rush of the day, guests entering their private enclave at Heritage Hotel will instantly find meditative serenity in the art of Nestor Olarte Vinluan promoting further the Hotel’s modern chic aesthetic. Noted for his mystical modern abstractions on paper expressing vibrant and layered hues interplaying with ethereal markings, Vinluan is recognized as the maverick of modern non-representation art in the country. He was especially commissioned to produce a fresh series of works. At the Heritage Hotel, each modern cocoon exhibits a unique artwork of Vinluan, thereby the Hotel is akin to a modern art gallery housing art exhibition of Vinluan. On the other hand, another renowned artist adding modern flair to the Hotel’s ambiance has an impecable background as well. Lanelle Abueva-Fernando is the niece of the Philippines’ National Artist for sculpture Napoleon Abueva and daughter of former University of the Philippines’ president Jose Abueva. With her artistic lineage , she has made her own mark in the world of pottery.

Having a serene ambiance at the lobby, quiet retreat in a contemporary room as a security blanket, multitasking guests can cram their schedule and hop to nearby SM Mall of Asia and SMX Convention Center in as easy as a snap of a finger with the hotel’s provision for a scheduled shuttle service. Lastly, guests who love outdoor adventure and long to jump to and from the country’s famed powdery white beaches of Boracay or the natural wonders of Bohol or leap to any international destinations, enjoy the convenience of the Heritage Hotels’ location. The hotel is only fifteen minutes away from both the domestic and international airports.

Contact Information The Heritage Hotel Manila is managed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts with more than 110 hotels worldwide. For inquiries and reservations, call(+632) 854-888 or e-mail


HERITAGE HOTEL MANILA FIFTEENTH ANNIVERSARY In celebration of the Heritage Hotel’s fifteenth year milestone and as a prelude to the Sept 9, 2009, release of all the original 13 remastered Beatles albums and upcoming launch a Beatles rockband software for Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Xbox, the Heritage Hotel staged a back-toback photo, collector’s items and memorabila exhibit from August 18 to 21, 2009. At the lobby area, Steve O’Neal who is the Philippines’ foremost Beatles collector, displayed one of the crowning jewels of his treasured memorabilia particularly the most sought after Beatles Butcher album whose estimated value if mint exceeds five million pesos. The limited and controversial Butcher cover album shows the Fab Four in avante-garde stylized poses with decapitated dolls and raw meats. The exhibit also included John Lennon art work, awards, song lyrics and other valuable Beatles items. The Beatles exhibit culminated in a dinner show by the Los Angeles cast of the movie and Broadway musical Beatlemania at the Heritage Ballroom on August 21, 2009. Joe Stefanelli, one of the best John Lennon impersonators, was in town. Stefanelli portrayed John Lennon in the Forrest Gump movie and he is leading the Beatles tribute band. Conversely at the second floor gallery, the Heritage Hotel presented the photo montage of the legacy of its previous general managers and current top honcho through the span of fifteen years. During the early beginnings of the Hotel’s pre-opening under the management of Byron International, the hotel’s first general manager Yannick Poupon opened the hotel’s doors for both international and local travelers to experience five-star, deluxe services and amenities. In 1995, Kai Michaelsen, general manager and also director of the CDL Group, and subsequently Heinrich Maulbecker, general manager, unfurled the transition of the hotel’s management from Byron International to the Millennium Hotels and Resorts Group. From 1996 to 2000, Richard Teo led an exciting new season in the hotel’s colorful events, promotions and festivities. In the ensuing years, from May 2003 until January 2005, GM Peter Kan unlocked new opportunities for the hotel to face the challenges of the global landscape. From 2005 to the present, GM Eddie Yeo steers the course of the hotel to new heights of achievement. Yeo led the US$4.5 million refurbishment programme to give way to the fresh, contemporary new look and feel of the 450 rooms and suites accentuated with the modern abstract

artworks of internationally acclaimed Filipino visual artist, Nestor Olarte Vinluan. Photos on display also highlighted the Heritage Hotel’s modern chic motif inspired by Manila Bay’s resurging lifestyle ripe for a luxurious mix of business and leisure as reflected in light earthen hues and bright ambiance that seamlessly merges comfort and sophistication to create spaces in which guests may relax, indulge and bond with associates, family and friends. The Heritage Hotel photo exhibit cast the spotlight on the various luminaries, dignitaries and celebrities at the hotel as well as the food and beverage promotions at the Riviera Café.

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L eisu r e



a nd

A d v entu r e

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Fairways Living The PUEBLO GOLF ESTATES is one of Cagayan de Oro’s hidden gems, consisting of over forty hectares of high-value residential lots developed to blend with the natural setting of one of the finest golf courses in the Philippines.

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Scenic views The six clusters of the Pueblo Golf Estates are tucked away and interwoven with Pueblo Golf’s championship course, providing truly scenic views. One only needs to open the window to behold a terrain crisscrossed with daunting natural ravines, stunning vistas of the mountains of Bukidnon, shimmering lakes and rolling emerald green fairways. With its prime lots, homeowners are assured of getting the best of what life has to offer. Breathing room The cluster concept of the Pueblo Golf Estates allows for fewer lots per area. The lower lot density provides greater air circulation and a more serene and peaceful environment, allowing for spacious living. One can experience nature in all its glory here—kingfishers swooping down on the waters of the lakes and brahminy kites wheeling in their majestic dance in the sky. The facilities of the Pueblo Golf Estates, including landscaped entrance gates with guardhouses, perimeter wall, wide cemented roads, complete electrical, water and drainage systems, and 24-hour security, among others, are provided to assure homeowners’ comfort and peace of mind.



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The Midas Touch Rated among one of the top golf courses in the country, Pueblo Golf today is the best golfing destination in southern Philippines. World-renown golf course architect Robert Trent Jones II created this masterpiece of a golf course. The complex layout of the eighteen-hole par 72 all-weather championship course, with its intimidating ravines and gauntlet of roughs and bunkers exposed to unpredictable winds, makes an exciting and challenging playing field for all types of golfers. Pueblo Golf’s turf is composed of Tifton and Tif-dwarf grass imported in refrigerated vans from Georgia, United States. The expert contouring of the course, subsurface drainage, and five interconnected lakes ensure efficient collection of surface water

for re-use in irrigation, while state-of-the-art technology is used in the automated irrigation system to better manage water resources. Thus, Pueblo Golf is truly environmentally friendly and green. Designed as an all-weather championship golf course, it is playable even during the height of the rainy months. Pueblo Golf’s Mission Viejo-inspired clubhouse, designed by leading architect Willy Coscolluela, is the next stop after a bracing game. Players can freshen up at the shower and locker rooms and, if they please, they reward—or console— themselves with a relaxing massage, then rejoin the family at La Azotea for a cozy meal. For the transient travelers, there is Hotel Koresco, a luxury resort hotel overlooking the driving range and the golf course.

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Strategic location The Pueblo Golf Estates offers residents a lifestyle like no other. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the golf course, it imparts a leisurely way of life one would not expect in the city’s major growth area. As part of the Pueblo de Oro Township, the Pueblo Golf Estates is conveniently located near top schools. In fact, the grade and high schools of Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro’s top educational institution, as well as the SM mall, are all situated within the Township. It is close to the airport and is only a few minutes’ drive from downtown. There are those who have to endure early morning traffic just to make their tee time. At the Pueblo Golf Estates, there is no need to drive across town—the golf course is right at your backyard.



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The gold standard in community living Pueblo de Oro is committed to address the needs of a growing and dynamic consumer market by providing a comprehensive product mix that includes quality residential facilities, ranging from exclusive residential villages for the high-end market to value-packed middle income housing packages and affordable

economic housing to thriving commercial centers where businesses of whatever size can locate.

Contact Information For more information, log on to

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Highlands Elevating Golf from Just a Game to a Way of Life



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ndoubtedly, Tagaytay Highlands is the best golfing destination in the Philippines. Home to two existing 18-hole championship golf courses—the Tagaytay Highlands and The Tagaytay Midlands—the exclusive leisure complex, only a 60-minute drive from Metro Manila, is certainly among the country’s well-kept treasures. The Tagaytay Highlands international golf course boasts of breathtaking views. From here, spectacular views of the Taal Lake, Laguna de Bay, Mount Makiling, Mount Banahaw, Manila, Batangas Bay and the island of Mindoro can be seen and appreciated side by side among man’s greatest masterpieces. The vast terrain of the Tagaytay Highlands golf course redefines a golfer’s experience as it takes the challenge to a whole new level. Designed by renowned American golf architect Richard Bigler, this 18-hole golf course seamlessly blends man-made ingenuity with the natural contours of the Tagaytay landscape, resulting to a variety of daring challenges like the 13th tee, which is situated no less than 84 meters above the green, and the 18th hole, which poses the test of a 150-yardwide gully. In addition to these, a cable car system can whisk golf players from the ninth and 18th holes to the first and tenth tees, as well as to the Golf Clubhouse. Other features of the golf course and amenities are the par-70, 6119-yard course; various challenges, including five man-made lakes, sand traps and dramatic elevation differences; rolling Tifton 419 fairways and elevated Tifdwarf greens; locker rooms with therapeutic and shiatsu body massage, sauna, 205

lockers for male guests and 72 lockers for female guests ; a fullystocked pro shop. If the Tagaytay Highlands golf course captured your fancy, the Tagaytay Midlands golf course will win your heart. Showing off a championship golf course with a picture-perfect view of the Taal Lake and Taal Volcano; and unobstructed views of Mount Makiling, the Tagaytay Midlands is a golf paradise. Other features of the golf course and amenities include allweather fairways; myriad challenges, such as the two-hectare lake at the Midlands’ signature hole number four; abundant greenery, including imported Tifdwarf on its greens, tifton 419 fairways, Bermuda grass, 37,000 trees, and over two million plants of different species; an 8.7-kilometer cart path; locker rooms with therapeutic, shiatsu and Swedish massage, steam bath, 308 lockers for male guests and 144 lockers for female guests; a fully-stocked pro shop; and a putting green. In addition to these features, there’s also the country’s first and only Swiss-engineered 48-seater funicular system that transports members and their guests from Tagaytay Highlands to Tagaytay Midlands and vice-versa in just four minutes and at the same time let them enjoy a magnificent view of the entire Complex and the countryside. Memberships to the Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club and the Tagaytay Midlands Golf Club entitle holders access to the Golf Clubs, The Country Club at Tagaytay Highlands, over twenty world-class food and beverage outlets inside the leisure compound, and exclusive purchase rights for The Spa and Lodge; and the Tagaytay Highlands and Tagaytay Midlands homes.

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Two 18-hole championship golf courses—the Tagaytay Highlands and The Tagaytay Midlands—will delight avid golfers.

Golf is a Way of Life There’s more! The construction of the second 18-hole addition to the existing Tagaytay Midlands golf course is now in progress. This development will complement the rising residential community nestled on the greens called the Lakeside Fairways, which will consist of six pocket villages namely—the Kew Gardens, Terrazas de Alava, Tivoli Place, Lakeside Enclave, Cotswold, and Katsura. The latest additions to the exclusive residential communities of Tagaytay Highlands—Cotswold and Katsura, situated amidst the fairways—will elevate golf from just a game to a way of life. Cotswold is a very unique concept where the laidback and active lifestyle is combined in a lush tropical setting. It will be surrounded by fairways and highlighted by calming natural surroundings. Katsura, on the other hand, is a Japanese-themed community inspired by the princely summer retreat of the Katsura Palace of Kyoto. It pays tribute to the simple way of life, immersed in the profound beauty of nature. Each property at Cotswold and Katsura comes with a propriety share of the Tagaytay Midlands Golf Club, which also entitles residents to enjoy world-class amenities at the Tagaytay Highlands Golf and Country Clubs. Enjoy the crisp and pleasing Tagaytay climate in a gated community with 24-hour security, independent and abundant water supply, 24-hour emergency medical and fire-fighting teams, 100-percent emergency power supply, in-house landscaping, and full housekeeping services. At your hands is an indulgence where anything is possible, distinctly Tagaytay Highlands—created by nature, perfected by inspiration.



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Contact Information Call Tagaytay Highlands at (+046) 483-0888 or 413-3808. Call also Belle Corporation Manila executive and sales and marketing offices at the 28th and 20th floor, East Tower, Philippine Stock Exchange Centre, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, at trunk line (+632) 6353016 to 20 or fax 635-3026, 635-3030 or 687-0690. For inquiries from outside the Philippines, call telephone number (+632) 635-3016 loc. 431 or mobile: (+63 917) 500-3726 or e-mail Log on to

Zamboanga Southern Pleasures at the

Golf Course and Beach Park



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009


t the southern tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula in northwestern part of Mindanao, Zamboanga City, one of the oldest and largest cities in the country, has a lot to offer the tourists. One of these is the Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park, managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority. It is a mere 10-minute drive from the Zamboanga International Airport (via San Jose Gusu to Upper Calarian). Expect sunshiny skies when you tee off at this fantastic golf course, the only golf course in Mindanao adjacent to a beach park. One of the oldest golf courses in the Philippines, the Zambaoanga Golf Course is among the four major, 18hole golf courses in Mindanao, established in 1911 by Gen. John Pershing. The front nine is a flat terrain with trees along the side of the fairways. The back nine is a rolling terrain with a majestic view of Basilan Strait. It is a challenging course with winding fairways and greens dotted with bunkers and sand-traps. It is a par 72 course with a total length of 6,404 yards, sitting on 64 hectares of land. It also has a 250-yard long driving range that

can accommodate 12 players. Numerous varieties of trees provide demarcation for the fairways. After a day of teeing off, one can rest at the clubhouse for some refreshments while lounging around. The beach park, on the other hand, is located at the seaward fringes of the golf course dotted with picnic sheds, tables and food stalls. In this beach, sari-sari stores can be found where you can buy the items that you need or forgot to bring. This place is private, but the public is welcome for a fee. The beach is dotted with trees, and has a kiosk and restaurants with karaoke bars. Public dressing room areas are also available.

The Zamboanga Golf Course is one of the oldest in the country.

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The 1.2-kilometer stretch of cobblestone-lined beach that was used as the landing area of the American Liberation forces in 1941 is also the former headquarters of the Japanese army, hence its moniker “Yellow Beach.� It is the most accessible beach in Zamboanga. An exciting and intriguing discovery would be the Santa Cruz Island, just fifteen minutes away by pump boat from Lantaka Hotel in the city proper, where one can enjoy swimming and sunbathing. The beautiful island is surrounded with over 300 miles of this uncommon pink sand beach. Snorkeling and scuba diving are also excellent diversions here because of the flourishing marine life and good water visibility, if weather permits. The island lies along the Basilan Strait, a waterway between the two vast seas, the Sulu and the Celebes, and a natural pipe of water for migrating fish. The interior of the island, which has a total land area of 222 hectares, is covered in grass and vegetation, with some flowering trees, providing a welcome shade from the near equatorial sunshine. Picnic sheds/tables, a pavilion, food stalls and dressing rooms/latrine are available for guests.

Santa Cruz Island on the Basilan Strait has pinkish sand.



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Contact Information The Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park is at Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City, with telephone number (062) 991-1796 and telefax number (062) 991-4490. The Manila reservation office is at the Marketing and Sales Department, Room. 520, fifth floor, DOT Building, T.M. Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila, with telephone numbers (02) 524-2502 and 524-2495, telefax number (02) 525-6490, e-mail and Web site

Ocean Adventure

Exciting New Developments at the


Timothy J. Desmond, chairman and CEO of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc., parent company of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Beach Resort, toasts with the management and developments staff at the ground breaking of the new Sea Lion Stadium, part of a multi-million dollar expansion program of the company.

cean Adventure, Southeast Asia’s only open-water marine park, in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, has new developments and additions to its already exciting lineup of entertainment and activities. On June 11, 2009, Ocean Adventure officials broke ground for an all new and much larger capacity Sea Lion Stadium and exhibit area, which will cater to and provide an even more delightful adventure for park guests of all ages. Since 2001, Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, the company behind the marine theme park and Camayan Beach Resort, has been offering tourists, students and corporate groups entertaining shows and presentations which aim to promote environmental awareness, protection and conservation. This is realized through the highly entertaining and informative Dolphin Friends Show and the Sea Lion Show as well as the ever popular Ocean Discovery Aquarium. The new sea lion stadium and habitat is expected open before the end of the year 2010. The seats of the new stadium will be twice as many as the old one. Additionally, visitors will be able to enjoy an exciting new feature—an underwater view of the animals—along with other exciting exhibits.



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Moreover, six new South American sea lion pups (Otaria byronia) have joined the Ocean Adventure family. Three pups were born into the resident population recently. On July 13, 2009, Brandy gave birth to a male pup, then on July 20, Sheena also gave birth to a male pup, and finally on July 24 Lupe gave birth to a female pup. All mothers and babies are doing well. Additionally, three female pups arrived from South America, making a total of six new sea lion pups. The South American pups will introduce new blood lines to the already successful breeding program, thus ensuring a population of these animal ambassadors that will entertain and educate thousands of visitors for years to come. Two new shows have been added to Ocean Adventures entertainment lineup, which started last September. The Rap, Jump and Roll is a special show for school children in a variety show format, hosted by Ray Sharkey, headmaster of the Seaweed Center for Finny Studies, a zany character who has some very creative ways of teaching kids about the marine environment and the animals that live in it. With a backdrop of a colorful coral reef 3-D wall, the show features high-flying trampoline performers displaying the patterns and colors of reef fishes, plus the Ocean Adventure mascots. Through trampoline antics, rap, comedy and dance, the park explores a variety of environmental and animal-related subjects with the message to take action in small ways. The show is produced by internationally recognized Brown Entertainment, famous for producing, performing and directing shows in the finest parks in the world including Disney, Sea World and Bush Gardens. Walk on the Wild Side is Ocean Adventure’s newest animal show, this time featuring wildlife of the forest. The show begins with a demonstration by the indigenous Aetas of their ingenious use of one simple plant, bamboo. They demonstrate their amazing ability to build and light a fire without matches, and to create a variety of utensils and tools from bamboo. Walk on the Wild Side then transports guests into the forest at night, where they can explore the sights of sounds of the deep dark forest. On the “walk” they meet a variety of birds, bats, mammals and reptiles. Its newest venue, Eco-Theater, is the site for this entertaining show including its signature brand of environmental education. Walk on the Wild Side is the perfect complement to the Dolphin Friends and Sea Lion Marine Patrol shows, bringing guests up close and personal with a whole new array of animal ambassadors. These developments are part of a grand plan for Ocean Adventure, which recently celebrated its eight year last October. Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium is in the first phase of a master development plan that will see the expansion of the existing product with facilities being added to better serve the growing popularity of this most appealing destination in Subic Bay. The first phase represents an investment of over US$6 million. The new Adventure Beach Events Area, with the capacity to cater to special events such as corporate outings and educational

tour group, has facilities such as a swimming area, recreation and entertainment, comfort rooms, showers, changing rooms and the newly opened Forest Grill Restaurant. With the ever-increasing popularity of Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel, the Island View Wing, with additional 38 deluxe rooms and two ocean view patio suites, will offer resort guests with incredible views of Ilanin Cove. Furthermore, there will be an all new reception center and a separate entrance to the Camayan Beach. Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel is a PADI Dive resort with a newly built dive headquarters located on the wharf, overlooking Subi Bay and connected to the beach by a new boardwalk. Timothy J. Desmond, chairman and chief executive officer, expressed confidence in the continuing growth of tourism in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. “This year alone, we are investing in several new attractions to offer our visitors an even more exciting and entertaining experience. We have recently opened Adventure Beach, which is a special events beach for group outings and team building activities. This new sea lion project is evidence of our ongoing commitment to provide our guests with the very best in family entertainment. We are also doubling the size of our Camayan Beach Resort Hotel by September of this year. We are in the final stages of completing our ten-year master plan which will expand our product offering to meeting the demands of the increasing popularity of this unique destination resort,” he said. Desmond also revealed that internationally recognized architect Terry Nichoson of Orlando, Florida, the original designer of Ocean Adventure and Camayan Beach Resort, continues to lead the design and construction in this latest phase of development. Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium is very proud to be one of the major players in Philippine tourism developments. It believes that its development plan and environmental programs are proofs of the company’s commitment to realizing its mission of becoming a contributor to the socio-economic activities of the country, benefiting not just the local residents but the national economy as well through partnerships with government agencies, travel companies, individual tourists and the corporate and institutional clients.

Getting There Subic Bay Freeport Zone is a two to three hour drive north of Manila. Ocean Adventure is located at Camayan Wharf, West Ilanin Forest Area. Taxi service is available at the Park and Shop, located at the main gate of SBFZ.

Contact Information Call the Ocean Adventure sales and marketing offices at SBFZ at telephone numbers (+63 47) 252-9000, (+63 47) or 252-5885 and in Manila at (+63 2) 706-3344 to 46. E-mail to ph and log on to

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



L i v in g

Golden Living in the City of Golden Friendship

Live Where You Never Have To Leave


n authority in housing and commercial development, Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation (PODC) captures Cagayan de Oro’s inimitable charm while offering the best in modern lifestyle essentials. PODC masterfully planned the 360-hectare Pueblo de Oro Township, complete with residential communities, central facilities, amenities, commercial and business hubs. The Township offers a life full of comfort, delightful leisure and reliable security. Pueblo de Oro’s residential subdivisions are carefully integrated with its top-notch business park. The Township is part of the city’s booming new growth area, and includes SM City Cagayan De Oro, a call center, church, educational institutions like Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan), and recreational facilities such as a world-class golf and country club, rated as among the top five in the Philippines. In keeping with PODC’s commitment to biodiversity conservation, the master plan of all its properties ensures that the natural environments are preserved and protected, including a 40-hectare area for the Pueblo Urban Rainforest.

The Courtyards at Pueblo de Oro is a “horizontal condominium,” the first of its kind.

First-class residential projects From the moment one enters the landscaped entrance of The Courtyards at Pueblo de Oro and beholds the stone-paved rotunda and majestic granite ball fountain, one knows he has stepped into someplace extraordinary. Two-hectares of fully built-up, high–end townhouses, the Courtyards is a first-ofits kind, exclusive “horizontal condominium” project offering world–class facilities and amenities. Pueblo Golf Estates is the only development in Cagayan de Oro that utilizes the cluster concept of creating residential alcoves masterfully intertwined with its world-class golf course, allowing residents to enjoy its refreshing landscapes and relaxing scenery. Nestled beside Pueblo’s forty-hectare urban rainforest is Forest View Homes, perfect for couples who are starting a family, emerging entrepreneurs and those who simply dream of waking up with a breathtaking view. Nurturing the sensation of country living while being only minutes away from city conveniences makes FVH a wise investment.

World-class amenities and facilities characterize this exclusive residential enclave.

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



The rotunda with a granite ball fountain of the Courtyards.

Businesses move up to Pueblo In addition to serving as home to the only SM mall in Northern Mindanao, the Pueblo Business Park boasts of a mixed-use commercial center that offers the socioeconomic benefits of propinquity and comfortable living for small and medium scale businesses. Regatta Square promises golden opportunities to dream big and grow business, where entrepreneurs are a few steps away from prospective consumers in nearby subdivisions, schools and offices. PODC takes commercial estate development to a whole new level with its IT Ecozone, the first ever PEZAaccredited information technology zone in Mindanao. Strategically at the heart of Cagayan de Oro, the Pueblo de Oro IT Ecozone is carefully integrated within Pueblo de Oro’s Business Park. It is a versatile business district where local and foreign investors can take pleasure in this unique work-life balance atmosphere.

Blooming and booming Cagayan de Oro City One looking for a place to retire in or take a vacation or migrate to would be well advised to look at Cagayan de Oro in the northeastern part of Mindanao. Over the last few years, the city has grown in leaps and bounds and has undergone many changes and yet has managed to retain its Old World charm. The Cagayan de Oro (CdO) of today is a booming trade and tourism center, an education hub, and a population center of over 700,000 people. It is one of the major and fastest growing cities in the Philippines, with all the amenities of a modern city minus the negative aspects of Metro Manila such as floods, typhoons and the legendary traffic jams. Many of its residents, including a good number of non-homegrown Kagay-anons (The city has a large base of migrant population and is a virtual melting pot of people of diverse cultures), attest to the city’s being a most ideal The Pueblo Business Park is a mixed-use commercial center.



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Cagayan de Oro “One looking for a place to retire in or take a vacation or migrate to would be well advised to look at Cagayan de Oro. Over the last few years, the City has grown in leaps and bounds and has undergone many changes and yet has managed to retain its Old World charm.�

place to live in. Aside from hospitals. Other health its strategic location (It is just facilities include a string an hour and twenty minutes of barangay health centers, by plane from Manila. Cebu private medical clinics and is just half an hour away by modern diagnostic centers plane and a sleep away by fast and laboratories. ferry. Davao is just five hours As of last count, there are away. Iligan to the west and over 80 private subdivisions Bukidnon to the southeast in the city, a good number are just an hour or so away.), of which, particularly those the city offers its residents in Pueblo de Oro, boast of a quality but affordable standard amenities and lifestyle. From food to power features such as wide roads to real estate, prices here are (CdO is perhaps the only relatively lower than Manila place in the Philippines If you want more adventure, Cagayan de or other parts of Luzon or where the set minimum Oro River has the distinction of allowing river Cebu, enabling one to stretch width requirements for roads rafting experience all-year round, using the his spending peso or dollar. exceed national standards), normal rafts or the Pinoy-style using tire inner The city has something underground drainage, tubes or salbabidas tied together. to offer everyone. If you perimeter fence, 24-hour prefer nature tripping, the security, and ample open beaches are close by and spaces and facilities such as so are mountain retreats. If parks, pools, playgrounds you want more adventure, and clubhouses. Cagayan de Oro River has In terms of modern day the distinction of allowing river rafting experience all-year appurtenances such as broadband and the Internet, the city does round, using the normal rafts or the Pinoy-style using tire inner not lag. Proof of this is the proliferation of Internet cafes where tubes or salbabidas tied together. If you are a golf enthusiast, one can surf for less than Php20 per hour (roughly US$0.40). there is Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club, which is just a As a further proof that it has the necessary telecommunication few minutes away from the airport, and if you want more golf and other needed information technology infrastructures, the there is the classic Del Monte Golf Club nearby, which has the booming call center industry has spread to Cagayan de Oro, distinction of breeding such golf champions as Celestino Tugot with a couple of call center firms and a medical transcription and Frankie Miñoza. company now in operation and several more expected to locate Would you like shopping instead? CdO has a good number here soon, particularly in the Pueblo de Oro IT Ecozone, the of malls and modern shopping centers, including national first such park in Mindanao. As a special economic zone, the brands like SM, Robinsons and Makro along with local brands park offers tax holidays and other incentives to its investors and Gaisano, LimKetKai and Ororama. In addition, the city has locators. completed the renovation of its major markets, including the Yes, CdO is in Mindanao but it is, and has always been, one Cogon and Carmen markets, turning these into clean and of the most peaceful cities in the Philippines, with a crime rate modern multi-storey buildings, and the construction of the that is much lower than most other cities. Its history has not Westbound Market and Transport Terminal. The city also has been marred by the so-called Mindanao conflict, nor has any something for night owls, including the Night Café, which is incident involving the Abu Sayyaf or some such terrorist group similar to the Boardwalk of the revitalized Manila Bay area. occurred there. It has helped that not only is peace and order As an education hub in northern Mindanao, CdO boasts of a priority of the local government but there is also an inherent 300 private and public schools catering to primary, secondary, harmonious relationship between Christians and Muslims in vocational and college education. The list of schools includes six this predominantly Christian area. universities, including Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier University) Because of the legendary friendliness and warmth of its and an international school catering to the educational needs of people, CdO has always been known as the “City of Golden expatriate families. Friendship.” Today, because of the great strides it has made by With regard to health care, the city has one of the more way of progress, notably in the last few years, city officials want favorable hospital bed to population ratios (1:474 in 2003, the to capture and highlight such progress by adopting another latest figure available) than most other places in the Philippines, tag line: “A city in bloom, in blossom and in boom.” Fittingly, thanks to the presence of at least twelve major and well-equipped Cagayan de Oro is indeed such a city.



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Cagayan de Oro

The sights, tastes and products of Cagayan de Oro City.

In other parts of the Philippines With the success of the Pueblo de Oro Township in Cagayan de Oro, PODC has trained its sights on other locations and developments. Acacia Park Homes Laguna, one of Pueblo de Oro’s successful projects during its earlier efforts, is a residential development in Calamba City featuring a Mediterraneaninspired design with extra large windows providing occupants with a refreshing view of the outdoors. Following its first foray and highly successful venture in the housing market in Cebu through its La Aldea Buena project, PODC has launched the new La Aldea del Rio PODC has several projects all over the country.

Mactan, which reflects Lapu-Lapu City’s rich heritage. Its two-storey townhouse units bear classic SpanishMediterranean inspired façade and interior artistry, whose design concepts welcome any improvements and additions the owner may want to fit in. Designed to provide lifestyle essentials, La Aldea del Rio Mactan has everything, from landscaped parks and playground, strict security entree, to schools, hospitals and markets that are short distances away, topped with 24-hour stand-in public transportation. The gold standard in community living Pueblo de Oro is committed to address the needs of a growing and dynamic consumer market by providing a comprehensive product mix that includes quality residential facilities, ranging from exclusive residential villages for the high-end market to value-packed middle income housing packages and affordable economic housing to thriving commercial centers where businesses of whatever size can park their businesses.

Contact Information Log on to

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living




D inin g


and the Small Journeys into Flavors

By Roel Hoang Manipon Photos by Nikkorlai Tapan MY INTEREST IN SPANISH CUISINE WAS PIQUED BY THE television series Spain…On the Road Again, which had actress Gwyneth Paltrow and chef Mario Batali going around Spain, tasting the dishes, and thoroughly enjoying the journey and life in general. I always saw scenes of the two and their friends eating and having conversations. It sounds mundane, but it was actually engaging and quite intriguing. Food became not just something to take in for nourishment, but something romantic, gathering people together and enabling them to experience new sensations. My own encounter with Spanish food has been haphazard and rare, surprising in a country with a long history of Spanish colonization. Usually, the “Spanish” food I ate had been modified, its spirit trickling into the Filipino dishes inundated with sauces and savored incognizant of its origins. The Philippine dining scene, which is not really vibrant, only offers a handful of Spanish restaurants. Señor Alba’s, Guernica and Casa Armas are among the more known. As new and more sophisticated malls crop up in Metro Manila, strips of eating places also appear featuring new restaurants that can be exciting. At the Greenbelt mall complex in Makati City, new restaurants have opened around its magnificently manicured garden.



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Opened just a few months ago, on May 29, 2009, Tapella Restaurant quickly began to attract attention as the best Spanish restaurant in the complex. Its reputation may owe to the fact that it is owned by Spanish-Filipino restaurateur Francisco Cacho Jr. and his chef wife Alexandra Cacho, who operate Gaudí, a much-acclaimed and awarded Spanish restaurant at Greenbelt 3 and Serendra. While Gaudi is “formal” or fine-dining, Tapella is more casual. Casual can also describe the servings of the food: Relatively small portions that can be shared and without delineation between appetizer and entrée. This is the idea of the so-called “cocina en miniature.” Also the restaurant’s menu is designed for people on the go, who has no time to sit down for big meals. It may seem that this is not good way to eat. But it is actually healthy—breaking meals into smaller portions and eating throughout the day, breaking the three-meals-a-day format. There is nothing hurried about the place either. The interior is elegant and simple, in colors of beige and white, accented by black-and-white photographs. Overlooking the Greenbelt garden, the restaurant can hold about 50 diners inside and outside where there is an outdoor bar. Tapella’s food does not scrimp on quality and taste. Its name is an indication of its specialties—tapas, which are roughly “finger foods,” and paella. According to chef Cacho, Spanish food has changed over the years, as well as people’s eating habits. In Tapella, the chef who hails from the Basque region gathered dishes from different parts of Spain, merging the traditional and the modern, and serving them in consideration of the changing lifestyle of people. There is consciousness now on healthy eating, thus the dishes are less greasy. Also, good products are more accessible. But the core of what makes food and its eating great is still intact. The menu, in English and Spanish, shows Cacho’s gastronomic motto: “Start with a traditional base. Pour an infusion of unique contrasting flavors and a spoonful of intense passion, a dash of talent and a sprig of innovation. Finish off with disconcerting textures and illusion.” In an afternoon before its opening, we got know what Cacho was talking about as she prepared for us delectable samplers starting Tapella owner and chef Alexandra Cacho

Tapella sports elegant interiors and offers delectable Spanish dishes like calamari with black ink batter “el Bulli” and paellas.

with an Andalucian specialty, white garlic and almond soup, served in a shooter glass (Php70). It can be taken in one gulp, but the flavors—tangy, creamy and rich—coat the tongue like a soft and heavy blanket, offset by bits of almost and hints fruitiness, grapes actually. It is a good complement for cocido meat on fluted bread (Php210) and Camembert cheese with caramelized onion on fluted bread (Php180), both surprisingly simple and delicious. Other “soup shooters” worth trying are the cold tomato soup and beef tenderloin salpicao with white beans. The chewy fluted bread is also topped with Cantabrian anchovies; and chatka, mayo and lettuce. You can also have pork loin, pimiento and bacon; and roast beef with Dijon mustard on crusty bread. Other tapas served were chorizo stewed in red wine (Php245) and the octopus with paprika, salt and virgin olive oil (Php280). Strong and salty, the chorizo can be eaten with bread or rice. The octopus dish is a curious one. White circles of sliced octopus tentacles were laid on slices of potatoes and sprinkled with salt and paprika. The octopus was surprisingly tender, not chewy at all, with a subtle flavor. The paprika provided the sting. The potato was a perfect base. Other tapa selections include grilled items (pork, Moroccan chicken, scallop and shrimp skeweres), items with eggs (fried eggs scramble with potatoes and chistorra sausage; fried eggs scramble with fresh duck foie; and traditional Spanish omelet); potages and casseroles in earth pan or plate (tripe and chick pea stew; Asturian white bean, pork and chorizo stew; salted codfish with piquillo peppers and tomato; and certified Angus beef meatballs with almond sauce); traditional fried items in olive oil (cocido meat croquettes; Spanish salami croquettes; vegetable garden shoestring with fried egg; and Serrano ham and cheese bites in phyllo pastry) and miscellaneous items (Rioja style potatoes and chorizo; alioli potatoes; clams in fisherman’s style; marinated fresh anchovies; Iberian cold cuts platter; and Spanish cheese platter). The heavier group in the menu includes soup and salad combinations, paellas and rice dishes, pasta, seafood and “mountain specials.” For seafood, we had calamari with black ink batter “el Bulli” (Php255) and garlic sautéed shrimp the modern way (Php260). The squid was definitely an eye-catcher. Rings of squid were dipped in batter and its own black ink and then deep-fried. The result was a dish that looked like lumps of charcoal and a more flavorful calamari. The “el Bulli” in the name I presumed was the origin of this style of cooking—the famous haute-cuisine restaurant El Bulli in Catalonia.

Try also other seafood items such as batter-coated fried fish with roasted pimiento peppers, Malaga-style fried fish platter and sautéed eels and shrimps with crispy garlic bits. Another interesting dish is the certified Angus beef prime rib (grilled according to the methods of Villagodio), a “mountain special.” Slices of the beef are grilled on a small hot plate sitting atop a burner, the size perfect for the table, invented by the chef herself. Other mountain specials are garlic chicken; pork ham and cheese roulade in white sauce; and grilled lamb chops with herbs. Of course there were the paellas. We had three kinds: the picadillo paella (Php650), the Greek paella (Php485), and the Manchego cheese, chicken, shrimp and asparagus paella (Php500). The picadillo paella had different slices of meats. I saw a connection between it and the Filipino dish picadillo, a kind of stew of ground beef, tomato sauce and slices of white radish, potato or chayote. I haven’t found yet the connection with the word peccadillo, which means “little sins.” The Greek paella is yellowed with saffron and had salmon and white cheese. On the other hand, the Manchego cheese paella had the sheep’s milk cheese melting over rice, chicken, shrimp and asparagus. All paellas were a delight, symphonies of flavors. Other paellas on offer are creamy seafood paella, Alaskan king crab paella, vegetable paella with pesto sauce and black squid paella. If you don’t want paella, Tapella has pasta: black fettucini with shrimps, three-flavor handkerchief pasta and vegetable cannelloni. Tapella also has good selection of wines to further smoothen a venture into modern Spain in flavors. End this with dessert such tiramisu, Kahlua mousse, egg yolk custard, banana crepe and traditional arroz con leche, literally “rice with milk,” like champorado without the chocolate but with milk, and spiced with cinnamon and vanilla bean. The arroz con leche can be a perfect ending, a comfort food that reminds of home. And we are made at home in Spain, if only in flavors.

Contact Information For more information and reservations, visit Tapella, open 11 A.M. to 12 A.M., at the ground floor of Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City, or call 757-2710 to 11. Visit, or e-mail

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



Spanish Food & Wine Take Center Stage in


Grand Launch Chef Alexandra Cacho and partners offered a taste of the good life during the grand launch of Tapella, the latest Spanish restaurant in Greenbelt 5. It was a glittering success highlighted by the presence of the diplomatic circle and Manila’s veritable who’s who in high society. Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines, Luis Arias, graced the event together with Korina Sanchez as they cut the ribbon. Guests sampled a wide variety of tapas, paella, sangria and fine Spanish wines. The event was likewise a feast for the eyes as renowned Emma Estrada, who heads the Fundacion Centro Flamenco, presented a breathtaking performance that added even more flavor to the occasion. Guests were treated special surprises such as gift certificates from Gaudi, Tapella and a three-day-and-two-night stay at the Pearl Farm Beach Resort in Davao courtesy of Fuego Hotels. Metro Manila is now up and ready to welcome Tapella as the premiere restaurant offering an amazingly fun way to eat.

The ribbon was cut by Spanish ambassador Luis Arias and Korina Sanchez (above) during the Tapella opening, which was attended by (from top to bottom, left to right) Alfredo Roca and Pascale Jimenez; Siqui Cunjing with husband and Nicky Gemperly; Michelle Garcia, John Spakowski II and Maureen Santiago; Peter Capotosto and Perez de Tagle; Victoria Vicente, Malca Villanueva, Liza Morales, Alfredo Roca, Susan Salcedo and Michelle Garcia; Margarita Fores and Marilen Cacho; Francisco Cacho, Michelle Garcia, Korina Sanchez, Soledad Arias, Luis Arias and Alexandra Cacho; and Cory Quirino and Francisco Cacho. Chef Xandra Cacho poses with cooks and waiters (left).



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Tradition & Invention A Charming Restaurant Brings New Life to the Pugon Way of Cooking

is peppered with the occasional bizarre item that reading the menu is an adventure in itself. Chi’s was borne out of the couple’s fondness for whipping up good food when entertaining friends and family at home. Initially, the idea was to put up a small takeout pizza business. However, friends and family voiced a different opinion: pizza would go well with pasta. And why not rice dishes as well? Pretty soon, their line-up grew to include the whole shebang, with appetizers, soups and desserts. And everything they cook, they cook with their famous brick oven.

By Rachelle Tesoro Photos by Daniel Adapon ON SULTRY FRIDAY NIGHTS, TRAFFIC ALONG AGUIRRE Street in the suburbs of Parañaque becomes as congested as any you’ll find in Makati. Japanese restaurants, Korean diners, Persian food stalls and a cheerful myriad of bars and cafes themed for almost every culture in the planet crowd this strip of road, winding their way through the bustling subdivision that is BF Homes. In this Mecca famous for its many one-of-a-kind cafés and food joints, a small restaurant known for its unusual menu and home-style cooking is steadily making a name for itself. The little restaurant that could, Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen is gaining wordof-mouth popularity among Metro Manila’s foodies. Bloggers gush over the variety of pizzas, the puchon and chocolate cake. Sinking one’s teeth into a dessert pizza (the White Chocolate Strawberry Madness, if you must know) has proven near lethal, with one diner reportedly reduced to a tearful puddle of bliss. The brains and talent behind the quaint restaurant are Anton and Apple Tirona, the husband-and-wife team who coown and manage the business. Anton—Chi to friends—presides over pizza making, while Apple dreams up the desserts and the odd twist to familiar Filipino and Italian fare. Balut pizza, laing pasta, dulce de leche dessert pizza—their line-up of dishes



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Bringing it forward “During the Spanish and American times, Filipinos used to cook with a pugon,” Apple says. “In Pampanga, in Manila, the old houses had brick ovens to bake bread and lechon.” At Chi’s, the brick oven rightfully—and literally—takes center stage, sitting atop the platform of the open kitchen, a massive white dome with a chimney rising to the ceiling. The brick oven’s design is one that Anton himself supervised. “The brick oven is basically a traditional style of cooking. But then we wanted to bring it forward, to meld the old and new together,” Anton explains. “If you look at the interiors, it’s old Mediterranean, yet it has contemporary lines.” The restaurant certainly has a vintage feel to it. Tables and mismatched chairs are fashioned from dark wood, while overhead a wrought-iron chandelier illuminates a beautiful tiled ceiling. In subtle contrast are the striped walls, giving the place a modern edge. The warmth of the interiors invites customers to linger and relax, unmindful of the action that happens in the kitchen. The brick oven (above) where many delightful things come out such as the Chocoholic’s Pizza.

Apple and husband Anton Tirona (above) established a cozy restaurant in Paranaque that has become a buzzword among foodies because of its good food and its use of the pugon (below).

Buzzing around the brick oven are the kitchen staff, a blur of efficient hands pounding out dough, sprinkling over ingredients, and shoveling dishes into the brick dome. The traditional method of cooking with a brick oven is appealing not only for its rustic charm, but the earthy quality it lends each dish. “It seals in the flavor more,” Anton explains, “because it operates at a temperature higher than normal ovens.” While a modern conventional appliance functions at a maximum of about 450°F, their brick oven operates at about 700°F or higher. Inside the dome, a low fire crackles merrily, the brick walls absorbing and trapping its heat. Dishes are cooked quickly; pizzas pop out after two minutes, and because the heat is contained evenly on all sides of the oven, there are no burnt edges or blackened soot at the bottom of the pizza. “And since it’s a wood-fire brick oven,” Anton says, “even the flavor of the wood would go into the food.” The texture too comes out differently. The pizza crust is crisp at the surface and chewy on the inside. Their Pizza Verde is a delight to savor, with anchovies atop mozzarella cheese, the pesto permeating the crust itself, giving it a unique taste. Similarly oven-baked, the familiar laing is given an offbeat treatment and is served as a pesto-like pasta topping, while the popular lechon kawali is rechristened as puchon, or pugon lechon. Not your regular deep-fried pork, the result is a healthier take

on a Filipino favorite, retaining all of the crispness but with less of the fat. The Tironas’ love affair with pizza extends to their line of desserts, where they choose to replace regular pie crust with pizza crust. Their Chocoholic’s Pizza is a lip-smacking concoction of original chocolate cake batter spread generously over a thin crust, topped with grated white chocolate and a smattering of mini chocolate chips.

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



The delights of Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen: the laing pizza, the laing pasta and the pugon lechon.

Digging their fingers into the dough The couple’s ingenuity with food is apparently innate. Formerly part of the corporate treadmill, neither Anton nor Apple had any formal culinary background. Neither are they keen to expose themselves to a culinary school’s rigid rules or shortcuts. They learn simply through experimentation, and improve by listening to their clients. From time to time, a chef or food critic would drop by for a taste of their cooking, occasionally leaving them with words of advice. Mostly though, the Tironas go by instinct and research, trying things out at home, and serving them up to diners and seeing how they react. It’s the Tironas’ style to be completely hands-on—they’re not afraid of digging their fingers into the dough, so to speak. They are eyeing to expand their business, perhaps to open a branch in Makati sometime in the future. Right now, however, they’re busy weaning Chi’s out of its infancy stage, trying to come up with a new dish every month, and of course, trying to keep their burgeoning customer base happy. “We’re different; that’s what makes people curious,” Apple shrugs off their modest success with a grin. “It’s nice for us, of course. But it’s nothing gourmet at all, it’s just home cooking. It’s just a brick oven.”



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Getting There Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen is at 209 Aguirre Ave., B.F. Homes, Paranaque City. From South Super Highway, take the Sucat exit and go along Sucat Road heading towards Baclaran. Turn left at McDonald’s. You will then be entering BF Homes. Go straight along President’s Avenue. Turn right at the Starbucks, along Aguirre Street. After a ten-minute drive, you will see Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen to your left, just past De la Rama Street. Across from it is Rodeo Spa, and past it Kalye 215.

Contact Information Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen is open Tuesday to Fridays, 11:30 AM to 2 PM and 6 PM to 10 PM; and Saturdays and Sundays, 11:30 AM to 10 PM. It is closed on Mondays. For reservations and inquiries call (632) 820-7210 or 0917-8971117 or 0917-9260555. Log on to

W ellness

W By Maripet Poso

e’ve heard of Ayurvedic, Aboriginal and lomi-lomi massages, and we may have all already tried the more common Swedish and Thai treatments. Isn’t it high time we let the world experience the healing and soothing strokes of our very own authentic Filipino massage? Combining the therapeutic manuevers of the ancient art of massage and the luxury of modern science, Amuma Spa introduces the most exotic and mystical form of traditional massage: hilot. Hilot is an ancient relaxing method of healing specific areas of the body and bringing balance and harmony to the entire being, both physically and spiritually. Adding flavor to its authenticity is the fact that only few can claim expertise of this inherent skill. Unlike other traditional treatments offered today in many spas, hilot in Amuma Spa is done only by a certified manghihilot whose techniques were handed down to her from generations of manghihilot in her family. Still widely practiced to heal and counter illnesses in some remote provinces in the country, hilot was given a twist by Amuma Spa not only to suit the discriminating tastes of massage and spa aficionados, but to add a touch of luxury to it as well, combining healing and relaxation in one rejuvenating treatment.



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Hilot experience, the Amuma way Unique Filipino rituals are incorporated in the Traditional Hilot (thirty- to forty-minute treatment) and Amuma Spa Hilot (ninety-minute treatment) to give guests an authentic hilot experience. Amuma Spa also makes use of native materials as part of the signature treatments: virgin coconut oil and herbs are used as massage supplement, and banana leaves are used as hot compress to relieve aches, soften muscles and regulate body temperature. Chants and spiritual invocations (orasyon) are done along with the body massage to induce relaxation and promote healing. To complete the hilot experience, pausok or the space cleansing through medicinal herbs and mineral smoke is also incorporated. Since each of the therapists has her own inherent techniques, the Traditional Hilot treatment is never the same twice. That makes this treatment an exotic experience. It also focuses only on areas that need healing, hence the Traditional Hilot is not a whole body massage. A session opens with what the Visayan called padampi, the gentle application of virgin coconut oil or lana. This creates an initial connection between the healer (manghihilot) and the guest. This is followed shortly by the pahaplos, which involves spreading the lana using deep strokes to warm up the muscles and improve blood circulation. Proceeding to soften the muscles, the manghihilot does the third technique which is called papisil or kneading. This is the time where the guest starts to feel the stress

The spa of Maribago Bluewater Resort, Amuma, offers a shrine of serenity and an assortment of traditional healing treatments.

beginning to melt into oblivion. To further aid proper circulation, the papisil is followed by the patulak, a technique that concentrates on muscle and bone action. The manghihilot then proceeds to the papiga, a maneuver used to gently alleviate the guest out of the massage. This is the moment where the guest is completely soothed and tranquil. To finally signal the end of the treatment, the last of the hilot technique is applied, the payugyog, which involves spreading and settling of the muscles and tenderly waking up nerve endings. Aside from zeroing in on the root cause of the problem, that is, a tension in the back or a knot between the shoulder blades, and melting away years of accumulated stress, the manghihilot caps the treatment with a dasal/meditation and an advice on health and fitness. Enshrined in comfort and serenity Entering the Amuma Spa, conveniently enshrined at the heart of cozy Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort in Cebu, is like walking into a realm of comfort and serenity. The ambiance calms the soul. The amenities delight the senses. The scenery rejuvenates the mind.

Amuma is a Visayan term that aptly means to “pamper” or to “indulge,” and Amuma Spa does exactly that. It is a sanctuary that offers a wide range of massage treatments. Aside from its signature hilot massage, Amuma Spa also offers reflexology, body wraps, massage therapies and facial and nail care treatments. Gentle lessons in tai chi, yoga, meditation and even arnis are also available. Upon setting foot on cool tiles of autumn mix Indian slate into the lobby of the Amuma Spa, the guests are treated not only to an aesthetic architecture of the building but to the welcoming cocoon of comfort as well. The design is inspired by nature—flowing water features, wood and natural stones provide the overall calming ambiance. While deciding on what treatment to have, the guests may hang out in the Amuma Cafe where fresh fruit and vegetable juices and healthy cuisine may be had, or they may indulge in a bit of beauty pampering in the Amuma Parlor just beside the reception area. A large lagoon-style swimming pool in the middle of the Amuma suites provides a cool and soothing center piece. The second level of the Spa building consists of the spa rooms where private treatments are done, a spacious lounge area with low tables and fluffed-up giant batik pillows for those who wait for their treatment, a VIP suite that includes a steam room and a Jacuzzi and a veranda overlooking the carp-filled pond for foot spa sessions or just plain lounging. But for those who opt for alfresco-style spa treatment, they may have it in the Amuma Hilot Pavilion, a round native thatched-roof area by the pool where the whisper of nature and the gentle flow of water mingle with the relaxing sensation that the massage offers. What’s more: an outdoor Jacuzzi and sauna, a yoga pavilion and watsu pool are also available at the guests’ discretion. But if it’s the sand, sun and beach that they crave after their treatments, the Maribago Bluewater Beach resort is a complete getaway haven where they can soak in clear waters, bask in the sun or indulge in different water sports for that ultimate respite and rejuvenating experience.

Contact Information Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort and Amuma Spa are developed and managed by Almont Hotel of Cebu. For inquiries and reservations, call Manila sales office at telephone number (+632) 817-5751, e-mail or log on to

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



Beyond Face Value By Vernadette T. Joven


tepping inside an aesthetic center is a step forward to achieving a holistic beauty that goes beyond first impression. And beauty, according to Dr. Levi John Lansangan, doctor of medicine and surgery, certified plastic surgeon and owner of Shimmian Manila Surgicenter, starts at the face, particularly on the nose. “The nose dictates and affects the overall look of the face because it represents eighty percent of the mid-face beauty. This is why it is the first thing that people notice when they look at us,� said Lansangan. However due to the high cost of facial surgery, most Filipinos are shying away from such procedure. While some who are willing to undergo the procedure have to go abroad to avail the level of quality in terms of service and final result.

Dr. Levi John Lansangan (right) owns Shimmian Manila Surgicenter, which offers high-quality products and services such as flexible and safe implants (below).



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Lansangan shared, “It is our mission to provide safe quality cosmetic surgery the way advance countries do but in a more affordable way.” An affiliate of Shimmian Plastic Center in Seoul, Korea, where research and technology on nasal reconstruction have been on the advanced state, Shimmian Manila is the first aesthetic to specialize in advanced reconstructive rhinoplasty. This type of surgery according to foreign findings is proven safe, rejection-free and natural-looking. Rhinoplasty is defined as the surgical alteration and reshaping of the nose. From that term, Lansangan points out that nasal reconstruction therefore requires art as well, as the surgeon’s skills and surgical foresight. This is where Lansangan’s fifteen-year experience and expertise come in. Although silicone implants are popular in Asia, many cases of rejection and other complications have been recorded, that is why Lansangan uses and promotes Gore-Tex implants, which has many advantages. It is safe, worry-free and rejection-free.Unlike siliconeimplanted nose, which looks so done and stiff, Gore-Teximplanted nose looks and feels very natural. Since Gore-Tex is a soft, porous, flexible implant, it can preserve the integrity of normal nasal movement (Nose resumes normal movement from left to right, right to left, up and down). Related to that quality, it allows tissue growth through and within the implant therefore not treated as something foreign. To simplify this, healing with Gore-Tex is through incorporation (of tissues) whereas with silicone healing is through encapsulation, which eventually leads to rejection and other complications A move towards a better you Thorough assessment and setting realistic expectations are the first steps in the process of rhinoplasty. “Since every nose is different, has unique requirements, and should be in harmony with the rest of the face, the aesthetic plan also varies. And I plot the plan that would best suit the patient and would fit with what the patient wants,” explained Lansangan. In doing the aesthetic plan, Lansangan uses computer imaging to show patients the final results and to determine whether his recommendation jives with the patient’s expectations. Upon approval, the procedure is then scheduled. Healing usually takes about three weeks up to six months, although non-strenuous activities are already allowed ten days after the surgery. Apart from advanced reconstructive rhinoplasty, Shimmian also offers services such as purifying facial, micro peel, full facial, contouring facial, Obagi oxygen facial, chestical/backcial, TCA peel, glycopeel cleaning, diamond peel, Spanish peel, ultra peel, dermasanding with Spanish peel, tretinoin peel, Obagi blue peel, intralesional acne treatment, Silklight laser acne treatment, Silklight laser acne treatment, Silklight laser photorejuvenation, Silklight laser hair removal, dermal fillers,

Shimmian Manila Surgicenter uses and promotes Gore-Tex impants, which has many advantages over other options.

botox, meso-sculpting (lipodissolve), mesotheraphy for cellulite treatment, meso-firming, meso-lift, meso-white, meso-alopecia, endermologie, body scrub with bleach, and scleotheraphy. Moving further to its vision to be a leading medical institute on advanced constructive rhinoplasty, Lansangan revealed that Shimmian also extends his expertise and assistance to medical doctors in the field of cosmetic surgery by serving as a technology center, which allows knowledge sharing and training.

Contact Information For inquiries and consultation, visit Shimmian Manila Surgicenter branches at Medical Plaza Ortigas and Connecticut Street, Greenhills. Call (+632) 673-2924 or (+632) 725-3605.

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living




NOTHING CAN EVER COMPARE TO A RESTFUL VACATION TO EASE THE STRESS OF URBAN LIVING AND THE DAILY RIGORS OF WORK. AND FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO TRAVEL WITHOUT PUTTING A HUGE DENT IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, THEN CEBU PACIFIC SHOULD BE YOUR AIRLINE OF CHOICE. “In this day of improved access to information, all one really needs for a successful, hassle-free trip is proper planning, a good airline and some Internet know-how,” says Candice Iyog, vice president for marketing and distribution of Cebu Pacific. She adds, “After all, it’s better that you fly than spend a lot of time traveling, especially if you really want to take time enjoying your destination. Low-cost airlines are always offering comparable rates, anyway.” Cebu Pacific Air vice president for marketing and distribution, Candice Iyog, gives out useful tips on budget traveling.



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1. PLAN AHEAD! Before you can even start to make travel arrangements, the first step would always be deciding where to go. Should you head out to the beaches of Siargao or discover the grandeur of Legazpi’s Mayon Volcano? If you cannot decide yet, don’t fret. Aside from the tons of pictures that beckon to you from the pages of travel magazines, there are also photos and tales of adventures as can only be told from the eyes of travel and lifestyle bloggers. Do check out some of these blogs, including, Azraelsmerryland.blogspot and From their blogs, you can instantly get tips on the ins and outs of a certain destination, from the best places to dine and rest to how to best stretch your pocket money while going around town.

2. WHY IT PAYS TO BE FLEXIBLE! Once you’ve decided where to go and how long you want to stay there, it’s time to make travel arrangements. And in choosing the budget pro way of travel, be flexible. It also pays to book early—as in months before the chosen date of departure. If you originally planned to go on a Saturday, but realize there’s a Php288 promo seat sale that is valid for travel the next day, then go on Sunday! For early bookings though, be sure of your travel dates because changes or cancellations would mean extra charges. Be flexible, too, in choosing your flight schedule. Some days are less expensive than others and fares for early morning flights are usually a steal! For fare comparisons, log on to the Cebu Pacific Web site,

3. WATCH OUT FOR PROMOS! Watch out for newspaper advertisements and Cebu Pacific alerts. Seat sales can go as low as Php0 all-inclusive (meaning totally free) so it pays to stay informed of all seat sales and promos. Best way to keep up with promos is by signing up for Cebu Pacific’s e-mail and text alerts via the Cebu Pacific Web site. Booking online is one of the easiest ways to fulfill your travel wishes with the littlest amount of effort. Iyog advises, “Aside from booking in Cebu Pacific ticketing offices in Robinsons malls and airport branches, also book through the Web site or reservations hotlines.” Leading low-cost airline Cebu Pacific always has the lowest year-round fares. This means one can now catch a one-way domestic flight for as low as Php288 and travel in Asia for as low as Php1,299. Various tour packages are also available online to save you the headache of booking accommodations and land arrangements separately. Remember, planning early and wisely for that much sought-after vacation can save you a lot of money. With Cebu Pacific’s low fares, the money you save may mean more memorable experiences to any of the airline’s 32 domestic and 14 international destinations.

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



Romolo Nati

E n C O U N T E R

Brings Spring to the Philippines By Ida Anita Q. del Mundo

WHILE STUDYING IN THE UNITED STATES, ITALIAN ARCHITECT ROMOLO NATI MET SOME FILIPINOS WHO, AFTER SEEING HIS WORK, TOLD HIM TO GO THE PHILIPPINES. THE YEAR 2007 MARKED NATI’S FIRST VISIT TO THE COUNTRY, AND SINCE THEN HE HAS BEEN GOING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND ROME, ESTABLISHING BASES IN BOTH COUNTRIES, ITALPINAS AND ITA PROJECT. “In the Philippines there are many things to do with regards to architecture and real estate,” says Nati on why he decided to stay in the country. “Green architecture is very typical in Europe, but in the Philippines it is something new,” he adds. “This is a good, new market in Asia.”

Nati’s project is the eco-friendly building Primavera, the first in Mindanao, at the Pueblo de Oro Township in Cagayan de Oro City.



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Graduating summa cum laude in 1999 at the La Sapienza University in Rome, Nati did his thesis on car design. He received honorable mention for car design competitions from Mitsubishi and BMW. Even in college he studied green architecture and made many eco-friendly designs. Together with his friends, Nati established ITA Project based in Eastern Europe and went on to win international competitions for their green architecture. Nati says that the combination of green architecture and their Italian design aesthetic is what makes them successful. As for his company in the Philippines, the name itself, ItalPinas, highlights the importance of the partnership. “We want to understand the Filipinos’ needs and combine it with the Italian design,” he says. Nati, together with ItalPinas chairman Jose P. Leviste, Jr., bring this vision to life. With his focus on the environment, ItalPinas is a sustaining member of the Green Building Council, one of the foremost green building organizations in the world. Italian for “spring,” Primavera is also the name of Nati’s latest project, the first eco-sustainable building in Mindanao. Both a commercial and residential building, Primavera will be built in Cagayan de Oro (CDO), in the Pueblo de Oro Township, strategically located near a mall, a call center and a main road. Nati cites his good partnerships as the reason for his success so far in the country. For Primavera, he has partnered with the ICCP Group, a major developer, which helped determine CDO as the ideal place for Mindanao’s first green building. “Cagayan de Oro is a growing market and is considered a commercial hub in Northern Mindanao,” says ICCP chairman and chief executive officer Guillermo Luchangco. They also note that CDO’s economic profile has a large percentage of middle class, which is the target market for the project. Both expect the response towards the project to be very good. Already, there has been considerable interest in the building.

“The environment is a big resource for the Philippines,” he adds, stressing the importance of going green. “In the future there will no longer be a choice. You must build green.”

“This is a really beautiful country,” says Nati of the Philippines. In his two years so far in the country, he has already traveled extensively. CDO, Davao, General Santos, Subic, Cebu, Batangas, Mindoro, Palawan and Baguio are some of the places in his growing list. When asked if has a favorite place in the Philippines, he answers, “I actually have a problem because the more I travel the more I find that I like everything!” “Filipinos and Italians are very similar,” Nati says. “To be in the Philippines is like being in my own country.” With the Philippines already close to his heart, Nati is taking steps to save the country’s environment with his eco-friendly architecture. Primavera makes use of many features that will help reduce the building’s energy consumption. Some of these features include geo-cooling system, natural ventilation and a special shutter system, all of which will help in reducing energy consumed by air-

With Primavera, Nati gives Filipinos a fresh take on architecture.



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conditioning, which Nati notes is one of the important factors in the Philippines because of its climate. The building will also have solar panels on its roof that will significantly boost the building’s capacity to produce its own energy, not only reducing consumption, but also becoming sustainable. Nati also says that the building will make use of natural and eco-sustainable materials. “A green building includes the cooperation of residents,” Nati points out. In Primavera, condominium rules will be enforced to ensure that tenants also live an eco-friendly lifestyle. “Once people get used to something good, it will be hard to go back to the old way,” he says, confident that the eco-friendly way of life will catch on. Nati and his partners hope to create a whole green environment, not just a building. So far, all architectural drawings, mechanical and structural plans have been completed. Nati says that all they are waiting for now are the permits that they need to commence construction. If all goes smoothly, construction will begin in 2010 and the building will be ready for occupancy by August 2011. “I’m happy to see interest in the Philippine government and people in becoming eco-sustainable,” says Nati, noting that many polices are now being enacted that will bring the Philippines up to international standards of environment protection. “The Philippines is one of the richest countries in the world with regards to biodiversity.” “The environment is a big resource for the Philippines,” he adds, stressing the importance of going green. “In the future there will no longer be a choice. You must build green.” Nati further explains the choice of the project’s name: “Spring is when nature wakes up. It is something new, reborn.” Romolo Nati gives us a fresh take on architecture and gives life back to the country’s environment as he brings Primavera to Mindanao.




Web site:,

National Capital Region Room 207, Department of Tourism Bldg., T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 523-8411 to 20 Web site:

Boracay Field Office Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan Phone: (036) 288-3689 Web site:

Ilocos Region (I) Oasis Country Resort Hotel National Highway, Sevilla, San Fernando, La Union Phone: (072) 888-2411/2098 Fax: 888-2098 Email:

Central Visayas (VII) Ground floor, LDM Bldg., Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu City Tel. (032) 254-2811, 254-6077 and 254-6650 Email:,

Laoag Sub-Office Room 207, Ilocano Heroes Memorial Hall, Laoag City Phone: (077) 722-1473 Fax: (077) 722-0467 Email:

Eastern Visayas (VIII) Ground floor, Foundation Plaza Bldg., Leyte Park Resort Compound, Magsaysay Blvd., Tacloban City Phone: (053) 321-2048, 321-4333 Fax: 325-5279 Email: Web site:

Cordillera Administrative Region DOT Complex, Gov. Pack Road, Baguio City Phone: (074) 442-8848/7014 Fax: (074) 442-8848 Email: Cagayan Valley Region (II) No. 29-A, Rizal St. Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Phone: (078) 844-1621, 846-2435 Fax: 846-2435 Email: Web site: Central Luzon (III) Hilaga Village San Fernando City, Pampanga Phone: (045) 961-2665, 961-2612 Fax: 961-2612 Email: Southern Tagalog Regions (IV) Room 208, Department of Tourism Bldg., T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 524-1969, 524-1528 and 526-7656 Fax: 526-7656 Email: Bicol Region (V) Regional Center Site Rawis, Legaspi City, Albay Phone: (052) 482-0712, 820-3664 Fax: 482-0715 Email: Web site: Western Visayas (VI) Western Visayas Tourism Center Capitol Ground, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City Phone: (033) 337-5411, 509-3550 Fax: 335-0245 Mobile: 0917-722-6691 Email:



Zamboanga Peninsula (IX) Lantaka Hotel by the Sea Valderosa St., Zamboanga City Tel. (062) 991-0218 Fax: 993-0030 Email: Northern Mindanao (X) Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center, A.Velez St., Cagayan de Oro City Phone: (08822) 726-394, 723-696, 856-4048 and 858-8866 Fax: 723-696 Email: Davao Region (XI) Room 512, Landco Corporate Center Bldg., J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City Phone: (082) 221-6955, 487-0659 Fax: 221-0070 / 225-1940 Email: Web site: Soccsksargen (XII) Second floor, COMSE Bldg., Quezon Ave., Cotabato City Phone: (064) 421-1110 Fax: 421-7868 Email: Koronadal Sub-Office Ground floor, Marvella Plaza Hotel, Gen Paulino Santos Drive, Koronadal City Phone: (083) 228-8667 Caraga Region (XIII) Ground floor, Grateful Realty Corp. Bldg., 88 Pili Drive, Butuan City Phone: (085) 341-8413 Fax: 815-6040 Email: Web site:

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

EMBASSIES and CONSULATES Australia Level 23-Tower 2, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City 1200 Phone: (+63) 2 757 8100 Fax: (+63) 2 7578 268 Web site: Email: Belgium 9th floor, Multinational Bancorporation Centre, 6805 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: + (63) 2 845-1869 Fax: + (63) 2 845-2076 Web site: Email: Brazil 16th floor, Liberty Center, 104 H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 845-3651 to 53 Fax: (+63) 2 845-3676 Email: Brunei Darussalam 11th Floor BPI Building, Ayala Avenue cor. Paseo De Roxas, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 816-2836, 891-6646 Fax: (+63) 2 816-2876 Cambodia Unit 7A-B, Country Space 1 Building, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63-2) 818-9981, 810-1896 Fax: (+63-2) 818-9983 Email: Canada Level 6, 7 and 8, Tower II, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 857-9000 Fax: (+63) 2 843-1082 Web site: China 4896 Pasay Road, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 844-3148, 843-7715 Fax: (+63) 2 845-2465, 843-9974 Email: Denmark 51st floor, PBCOM Tower, 6795 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Manila, Philippines Phone: (+63) 2 815-8015 Fax: (+63) 2 815-8017 Email: Egypt 2229 Paraiso cor. Banyan Sts., Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 843-9220 Fax : (+63) 2 843-9239

Finland 21st Floor BPI Buendia Center, Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 891-5011 to 15 Fax: (+63) 2 891-4107 Web site: Email: France 16th floor, The Pacific Star Bldg., Makati Ave. cor. Sen. Gil Puyat Ext., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 810-1981/8 Fax: (+63) 2 813-1908 Germany 25/F Tower 2, RCBC Plaza 6819 Ayala Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-4906 Fax: (+63) 2 810-4703 Web site: Email: germanembassymanila@ India 2190 Paraiso St. Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-8151 Fax: (+63) 2 815-8151 Web site: Email: Indonesia 185 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-5061/68 Fax: (+63) 2 892-5878, 818-4441 Web site: Email: fungsipensosbud@yahoo. Ireland 3rd floor, Max’s Bldg., 70 Jupiter St., Bel-Air, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 896-4668 Fax: (+63) 2 897-8534 Email: Israel 23rd floor, Trafalgar Plaza, H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-5330 Fax: (+63) 2 894-1027 Web site: Email: Italy 6th floor, Zeta Bldg. 191 Salcedo St. Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-4531/2/3 Fax: (+63) 2 817-1436 Email: Japan 2627 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 551-5710 Fax: (+63) 2 551-5785, 551-5780 Web site: Email:

Korea 10th floor, The Pacific Star Bldg., Makati Ave. Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 811-6139 to 44 Fax: (+63) 2 811-6148

Singapore 505 Rizal Drive,1634 Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Phone: (+63) 2 856-9922 Fax: (+63) 2 856-9932

United States of America 1201 Roxas Blvd., Manila Phone: (+63) 2 528-6300 Fax: (+63) 2 522-4361 Web site:

Malaysia 10th and 11th floor, The World Centre Bldg., 330 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 864-0761 to 68 Fax: (+63) 2 864-0727 Email:

Spain 5th floor, ACT Tower, 135 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 818-5526 Fax: (+63) 2 810-2885 Email: and

Vietnam 670 Pablo Ocampo, Malate, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 525-2837, 521-6843 Fax: (+63) 2 526-0472 Web site: Email:

Mexico 2157 Paraiso St., Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-2211, 812-2212 Fax: (+63) 2 892-9824 Web Site: Email:

Sweden 16th floor, Equitable PCI Bank Tower II Bldg., Makati Ave. cor. Dela Costa Sts., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 811-7900 Fax: (+63) 2 815-3002 Web site: manila Email: ambassaden.manila@foreign.


Netherlands 26th Floor Equitable PCI Bank Tower, 8751 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 786-6666 Fax: (+63 2) 786-6600 Web site: Email: New Zealand 23rd floor, BPI Center, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 891-5358 to 67, 891-3272 to 75 Fax: (+63) 2 891-5357, 891-5353 Web site: philippines Email: nzemmanila@globelines. Norway 21st floor, Petron Mega Plaza Bldg., 358 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 886-3245 to 49 Fax: (+63) 2 886-3244, 886.3384 Web site: Email: Pakistan 6th Floor, Alexander House, 132 Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-2772/6 Fax: (+63) 2 840-0229 Email: Russia 1245 Acacia Road, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 893-0190 Fax: (+63) 2 810-9614 Web site: Email: Saudi Arabia 389 Gen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 890-9735 Fax: (+63) 2 895-3493

Switzerland 24th floor, Equitable Bank Tower, 8751 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 757-9000 Fax: (+63) 2 757-3718 Web site: Email: Taiwan 41F, Tower 1, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 887-6688 Fax: (+63) 2 887-7679, 8874661 Web site: Email: Thailand 107 Rada St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-4219/20 Fax: (+63) 2 815-4221 Email: Turkey 2268 Paraiso St., Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 843-9705, 843-9707 Fax: (+63) 2 843-9702 Email: United Arab Emirates 2nd floor, Renaissance Bldg., 215 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-3906 Fax: (+63) 2 818-3577 United Kingdom 15th to17th floors, L.V. Locsin Bldg., 6752 Ayala Ave. cor. Makati Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 580-8700 Fax: (+63) 2 819-7206 Web site: uk/philippines Email:

Air Philippines R-1 Hangar, APC Gate1, Andrews Avenue, Nichols Tel. 851-7601 Ground Floor, Charterhouse, 114 Legaspi St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-1459/2071; 24-Hour reservations number: 855-9000 Air India Phil Am Life Salcedo Building, 126 L.P. Leviste St., SalcedoVillage, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-2441/1280 Air New Zealand 10th Floor, Rufino Pacific Tower, Ayala Ave., Makati City. Phone: (+63) 2 884-8097 American Airlines Ground Floor, Olympia Somerset Condominium, Makati Avenue cor Sto. Tomas St., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-8645, 810-3229 Asian Spirit Domestic Road cor Andrews Avenue, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 851-1807 to 08 or 851-1801 to 05 Asiana Airlines 6th Floor, Salcedo Tower, Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-5681 to 88 British Airways 4th Floor, Filipino Bldg., Dela Rosa Street cor. Legaspi Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-0361, 815-6560

Mandaluyong City Phone: (+63) 2 702-0888 China Airlines Ground Flr., Manila Midtown Arcade, Malate, Manila, Phone: (+63) 2 523-6319, 524-4950/4331 Emirates Pacific Star Building, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 858-5350, 858-5300 Eva Airways 5438 Don Tim Building, South Superhighway, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 889-5701 to 04 Gulf Air 9th Floor, Ayala Life FGU Center 6811 Ayala Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-1313 Island Transvoyager, Inc. A Soriano Hangar, Lima Road cor Andrews Avenue, Domestic Airport, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 821-5674, 851-5667 and 854-5674 Inter Island Airlines 74 Roxas Blvd., Parañaque City Phone: (+63) 2 852-8003 Japan Airlines 2nd floor, Oledan Square, 6788 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 886-6877 to 78 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 8th floor, Athenaeum Building, 160 LP Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 848-5817, 815-4790 Korean Air Ground floor, LPL Plaza Bldg., 124 LP Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-9262, 815-9264 Laoag International Airlines Terminal 1, Manila Domestic Airport, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 551-9729, 551-4813 Lufthansa German Airlines Legaspi Parkview Condominiums, 134 Legaspi cor. Palanca Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 810-5033

Cathay Pacific Airways Limited Room 446, 4th Floor, IPT Bldg., NAIA Terminal 1, Ninoy Aquino Ave., Parañaque City Phone: (+63) 2 832-2979

Malaysia Airlines 23rd Floor, LKG Tower Bldg., 6801 Ayala Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 887-3215, 843-6674

Cebu Pacific Airlines 30 Pioneer St. cor. Edsa

Northwest Airlines 8th floor, Athenaeum Building,

Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living



160 LP Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 819-7261 Philippine Airlines 2nd Floor, Power Realty Bldg., 1012 Arnaiz Ave., Makati City. Phone: (+63) 2 892-7339, 815-6481 Pacific Airways Domestic Airport Road, Pasay City, Phone: (+63) 2 851-1465/1416/1509 Qatar Airways Ground floor, 132-A The Colonnade Residences, Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-1888 Qantas Airways Limited 4th floor, Filipino Merchants Building, 135 Legaspi corner Dela Rosa Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-4738 Royal Brunei Airlines Saville Building, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 897-3309, 895-3545 South East Asian Airlines Domestic Passenger Terminal 1, Manila Domestic Airport, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 849-0100 Singapore Airlines 33rd floor, LKG Tower, 6801 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 756-8899, 756-8888 South Phoenix Airways AASI Hangar, General Aviation Area, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 852-5565, 852-5402 Thai Airways International Country Space 1 Building, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-4812 Tiger Airways 1000 Makati Ave. cor Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 884-1524

Web site:

4478 to 79

Budget Rent-A-Car The Peninsula Hotel Manila Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 818-7363, 816-2211/6682

Sunflower Transport Services 7 Santa Teresita St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City Phone: (+63) 2 631-3496

Carlines Rent-A-Car Services Tuscany Condominium, 6751 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 810-5421, 813-1975 to 76 Del’s Transport Services 1042 Vito Cruz St., Singalong, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 524-5187, 525-8396/2696 Executive Transport and Cars Casa Blanca, 1447 M. Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 523-5595 Filcar Transport Services 2nd Floor, Unit 2-A, Torre De Salcedo Bldg., 184 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 894-1754, 817-8346 and 843-3530 Telefax: (+63) 2 893-1251 Web site: Email: Gemini Transport Services 43 B. Francisco St., New Saniega Phone: (+63) 2 811-6888 Grayline Philippines 7737-C, St. Paul Road, San Antonio Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 890-3963 to 64 Hertz Rent-A-Car Unit 101, Sunset Tower, Makati Ave. cor. Durban St., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 897-5161 NAIA Airport Terminal 1 Branch, Phone: (+63) 2 877-1406 Mobeline Charter Services 2449 Sequia St., Sta.Ana, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 890-2778

CAR RENTAL AND TAXI SERVICE Alamo Rent-A-Car 211 Quirino Avenue, Tambo, Parañaque Phone: (+63) 2 551-4923/07 Avcar Rental Corp. 3674 Bautista cor. Dayap Sts., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 687-2212 Avis Philippines Manila Peninsula Hotel Shop #1, Ayala Wing Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 845-1844, 843-7140



Nissan Rent-A-Car 2317 Aurora Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 854-7099 Fax: (+63) 2 852-6599 Web site: Email: Orix Auto Leasing Phil. Corp. 148 Yakal St., San Antonio Village, Makati City. Phone: (+63) 2 893-2523 to 27, 893-3233 and 893-2020 (24 hrs.) Sandeco Rent-A-Car 5446-48 South Superhighway Phone: (+63) 2 844-7954/7960/

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Tigers on the Run 3rd Floor, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 899-98-28/08

Phone: (+63) 2 725-1740, 725-1756 and 724-9820 Philippine Rabbit Oroquieta St., Sta.Cruz, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 734-9836 and 489-0328 Philtranco Edsa, Apelo Cruz St., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 851-8077 to 79 (Pasay) and 722-7567 (Cubao)

BUS COMPANIES Aladdin Transit Cayco St., Sampaloc, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 781-9168 BLTB 2nd Avenue, Caloocan City Phone: (+63) 2 363-4478, 365-7886 Baliwag Transit 2nd Avenue cor. Rizal Avenue, Caloocan City Phone: (+63) 2 364-7002, 364-0860, 364-0778 and 363-4331 Dagupan Bus Line New York St. corner Edsa, Cubao, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 727-2330 or 2287 Dangwa Tranco 832 Aurora Blvd. cor Driod St., Cubao, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 410-1991 Executive Carriers and Services, Inc. 153 Quirino Ave., Baclaran, Parañaque City Phone: (+63) 2 851-8701, 912-4289

RRCG Transport Km. 18, Ortigas Avenue Extension, Cainta, Rizal Phone: (+63) 2 656-7503 Saulog Transit 1377 Quirino Avenue Parañaque City Phone: (+63) 2 825-2926 to 30, 826-1285 Tritran CMC Building, Andrews Avenue corner Aurora Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 851-7971 Victory Liner 713 Rizal Ave. Ext., Caloocan City Phone: (+63) 2 361-1506 651 EDSA, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 833-5019 to 20 España cor. Galecia St. Sampaloc, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 741-1436 Edsa near Aurora Blvd., Cubao Phone: (+63) 2 727-4688 SHIPS and FERRIES

Five Star Bus Company 2220 Aurora Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 853-4772 Genesis Transport Services Inc. 101-A Giselle Park Plaza, Edsa Rotonda cor. H. Taft Avenue, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 733- 8622

WG & A (Superferry) 12th floor, Times Plaza Building, UN cor. Taft Aves., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 528-7979, 528-7171 Web site: Email: customerinteraction@

704 Edsa cor. New York St., Cubao, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 709-0803, 421-1413

Mt. Samat Ferry Express CCP Bay Terminal, CCP Complex, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 551-5290 to 91

JAC Liner #2 Mapagmahal St. Brgy. Pinyahan, Kamias Road, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 927-4745/6139, 928-6140

Negros Navigation Pier II, North Harbor, Tondo, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 243-5231, 244-0408 Web site: Email:

Jam Transit Timog St. corner Edsa Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 724-4897

Sulpicio Lines Manila Terminal Office Pier 12, North Harbor Tondo, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 245-0616 to 30 Fax: (+63) 2 243-4570, 243-4571 Web site:

Partas Transportation Co., Inc. 816 Aurora Blvd., Quezon City




Jan. 8 | Escalante City, Negros Occidental

Jan. 13-20 | Tarlac City, Tarlac

This event commemorates the signing of R.A. 9014 into law declaring Escalante as one of the component cities of Negros Occidental.

The festival features various contingents of school children garbed in grassinspired costumes, painted in soot, all dancing to the beat of local tunes and ethnic instruments made of bamboo.

BINANOG FESTIVAL Jan. 8 | Lambunao, Iloilo


It is celebrated in honor of infant Jesus. Binanog means a “pool of dance” by the people in hinterland of Lambunao.

Jan. 1-21 | Kalibo, Aklan

Celebrated in honor of Sto. Niño, it is socalled because locals and tourists wipe soot on their faces, don ethnic costumes, parade around town as Negritos and dance in the streets to the beat of ambulant ethnic troubadours.


The intense, day-long festival is highlighted by a procession through the streets.

KINARADTO FESTIVAL Jan. 15 | Buenavista, Guimaras

This festival has presentation of songs, dances and musical tableau depicting the various influences Buenavista has been subjected to. It is celebrated in honor of the town’s patron Sto. Niño.


While the rest of the country takes a break from the New Year revelry, boys and men of this sleepy fishing town wear their mothers’ lipstick and put on their wives’ dresses BAILES DE LUCES

Jan. 9 | Romblon

In honor of the Sto. Niño, it has revelry and a fluvial procession. SAN PABLO COCO FESTIVAL Jan. 10-15 | San Pablo City, Laguna

The weeklong celebration is highlighted by a Mardi Gras during fiesta with costumes and floats made from coconut.

Jan. 5 | La Castellana, Negros Occicental

A celebration of charter day, it is also a thanksgiving for all the blessings received in the year. It paves for a prosperous new year with lights, nocturnal festivities and street dancing.

PASUNGAY FESTIVAL Jan. 15 | San Joaquin, Iloilo

This has its origin on a hillside in one of the inland barangays of the municipality when resting farmers witness for the first time the fight between the two raging bulls, set loose by their herdsmen. It caught the fancy of the barangay folks and soon it became a popular entertainment in most barangay fiestas. During the municipal fiesta, the best bulls from different barangays are pitted against each other. BATAN ATI-ATI MALAKARA FESTIVAL

KURALDAL Jan. 6 | Sasmoan, Pampanga

Jan. 15 | Poblacion Batan, Aklan

Pampangans from neighboring towns gather in front of the chapel of St. Lucy and dance for favors all night.

The participants celebrating this festival wear masks made up of papier mache and costumes. The festival is celebrated in honor of the Sto. Niño with merry making for a bountiful harvest, peace and prosperity, with street dancing.

KADAYAW FESTIVAL Jan. 7 | Pambujan, Northern Samar

The festival is a thanksgiving for the blessings received.


BANDI FESTIVAL and BAYLUHAY FESTIVAL Jan. 8-15 | San Joaquin, Iloilo

The festivals feature the biggest bandi (a sweet delicacy) in Western Visayas and the reenactment of the Barter of Panay.



Jan. 16- 22 | Ibajay, Aklan

SINULOG FESTIVAL Jan. 12-22 | Cebu

This is Cebu’s biggest and most popular festival in honor of Sto. Niño.

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

A religious feast in honor of its patron saint Sto. Niño, it is held by transferring the holy image of the patron from Ibajay Cathedral Rectory and enthronement at St. Peter Parish Church.


C A L E N D AR | January-February




Jan. 16 | Libertad, Butuan City

Jan. 22- 25 | Valderrama, Antique

Jan. 27 | Jordan, Guimaras

This is Butuan’s version of the Sinulog of Cebu, which has an equally lively and spectacular street dancing.

A festival created to discover and develop special talents from aspirants in the field of music, dances and sports, it is also a thanksgiving festival featuring a Mardi Gras competition.

Primarily a celebration of the economic endeavor that made Jordan what it is today, Sana-aw also pays tribute to the skillful artisans and workers in an endearing characterization through dance drama.

PANGISDAAN FESTIVAL Jan. 16 | Brgy. Tangos, Navotas

One of the highlights of the Navotas Day celebration is the street dancing and float competition focusing on the fishing industry. BANSUDANI FESTIVAL/FEAST OF THE DIVINE SAVIOR Jan. 17 | Bansud, Mindoro Oriental

This is a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest which coincides with town fiesta. It features dances and cultural presentations by schools and barangays.


It features the longaniza sausage. FEAST OF OUR LADY OF PEACE AND GOOD VOYAGE Jan. 24 | La Carlota City

It features cultural shows and traditional fiesta activities like procession, traditional games and cultural presentation. DINAGSA ATI-ATIHAN FESTIVAL Jan. 24-30 | Cadiz City, Negros Occidental

PANDOT SA BACOLOD Jan. 20 | Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

It features dramatization of the life of Bacoleños during the Spanish times and the life of being a Catholic. ALTAVAS STO. NIÑO FESTIVAL Jan. 21-22 | Poblacion Altavas, Aklan

January 22 marks the end of the FilAmerican war in Altavas, which is being celebrated as an annual thanksgiving and Armistice Day in Altavas. Later, the date was adopted as its municipal town fiesta. HALAD SA STO. NIÑO FESTIVAL

Various programs are lined up such as motocross, drum and bugle corps competition, Ginoong Cadiz and search for Mutya ng Cadiz. This spectacular revelry features Ati tribes garbed in their colorful costumes dancing to the fast and deafening beat of drums while carrying the image of the Holy Child Jesus. STO. NIÑO FESTIVAL Jan. 25 | Malolos, Bulacan

This is the biggest expression of devotion to the Holy Child Jesus in the entire Luzon Island.

Jan. 26-28 | Iloilo City

This is the fiesta celebration of Midsayap, Cotabato, in honor of its patron, Sto. Niño. Highlights are street dancing and theatrical parade contest.

Street dancing is characterized by frenetic stomping of feet and hypnotic drumbeating, with people dressed in unique costumes dancing and chanting all day and night.


Held in the town of Paracale, the festival is highlighted by “pabirik” street dancing, depicting the gold mining industry in the province. BULANG-BULANG FESTIVAL Feb. 2-9 | San Enrique, Negros Occidental

This festival gives recognition to the sport fowl industry which is one of the major sources of livelihood of the town. Bulang-Bulang is a dance presentation, which depicts the life and character of the fighting cock. FEAST OF OUR LADY OF CANDLES Feb. 2 | Jaro, Iloilo City

This is the biggest and most opulent religious pageantry in Western Visayas with the blessing of candles and a procession of the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria and the Fiesta Queen and her court.


Jan. 21 | Midsayap, North Cotabato


PABIRIK FESTIVAL Feb. 1-2 | Paracale, Camarines Norte

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

SALAKAYAN FESTIVAL Feb. 2- 5 | Miag-ao, Iloilo

An important historical occasion for the people of Miag-ao, this annual extravaganza attracts people with its week-long activity of food fair, agroindustrial and trade fair, fluvial parade, higante contest, literary musical contest, evening socials and the hablon and patadyong fashion show. The event’s highlight is the street dance-drama depicting the victorious battle waged by the locals against Muslim marauders sometime in 1754.

PAMULINAWEN FESTIVAL Feb. 2-10 | Laoag City, Ilocos Norte

The word means “Ilocano maiden.” It is a festival showing Ilocano customs and virtues. KALI-KALIHAN HARVEST FESTIVAL Feb. 8 | Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental

flag jump, balloon bursting competition, kite flying, trade fair, carnival rides and nightly concerts.

FEAST OF NUESTRA SEÑORA DE CANDELARIA Feb. 9 | San Enrique, Negros Occidental

The annual town fiesta is celebrated in honor of the patron saint of the town, Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. GULING-GULING FESTIVAL Feb. 9 | Paoay, Ilocos Norte

This is a harvest festival with street dancing showing cultural heritage and the art of kali, also known as arnis or escrima, the traditional martial arts of the Filipino people since the seventh century.

Townsfolk and their guests participate in singing and dancing in the street, dressed in their native costume, the antique and attractive abel Paoay kimona with matching tapis or pandiling, adorned with century-old jewelry.


Feb. 11 | Iriga City, Camarines Sur

Feb. 9-12 | Omni Aviation Complex, Clark Field, Pampanga

This annual festival features air sports events like hot-air balloon competition, aircraft maneuvers and precision flying, ultralights, RC demonstration flying, sky diving, aircraft rally, rocketeering,

TINAGBA FESTIVAL A tradition of the first harvest offering coinciding with the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, it is derived from the early rituals of the ancient Bicolanos offering their harvest to their own gods as a form of thanksgiving and to seek favor for a more bountiful harvest throughout the year.




Feb. 17-27 | General Santos City

Feb. 22 | Tabaco City

It celebrates the “friendly co-existence among the peoples of General Santos City.” Activities include agro-industrial trade fair, cultural presentation, culinary contest, pagana, kulintangan, ethnic musical instrument competition and Kidig-Kidig sa Dalan.

This is a celebration with praise and thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest in farming or good catch in fishing expressed through various activities like street dancing, beauty competition, games, food fairs, among others. SIBUG-SIBUG FESTIVAL

KAP’YAAN FESTIVAL Feb. 18-20 | Jose Abad Santos, Davao del Sur

This is the anniversary of the creation of the municipality with agri-trade fair and civic military parade. BABAYLAN FESTIVAL Feb. 19 | Bago City, Negros Occidental


It was conceived to highlight a unique aspect of Filipino heritage, one that dates back to the pre-Spanish period. This festival aims to rediscover the region’s indigenous music, literature, dances, rituals and other artistic endeavors.

Feb. 11-15 | San Jose, Camarines Sur

The festival features local talents and young artists in its efforts to promote cultural awareness, tourism development and youth empowerment in the district of Partido.

ASINAN FESTIVAL Feb. 20 | San Lorenzo, Guimaras

Marvel at how the ordinary salt has gravitated the people of San Lorenzo into an annual gathering with all the delicious trimmings of specialty products.

Feb. 23 | Zamboanga Sibugay

This is highlighted by a colorful, ethnic street dancing with rituals depicting good harvest, wedding and healing. PANAGBENGA: BAGUIO FLOWER FESTIVAL Feb. 25-26 | Baguio City

This event showcases Baguio as a city of flowers with a floral street parade float parade. MANIAMBUS FESTIVAL Feb. 27 | Negros Occidental

Maniambus is a Visayan word meaning “to strike with a club” because its coastal waters were then teeming with fish that catching could be done simply by clubbing.

PABALHAS SA TABLAS Feb. 11 | Candoni, Negros Occidental

In 1935, Santiago “Tagoy” Diego led a group to settle in Tabla Valley, now known as Candoni. Diego and the rest of the group of men cleared up the area, cut off the trees and created a road. KARANOWAN FISHTIVAL Feb. 15 | Bato, Camarines Sur

This festival is derived from ranow meaning “lake,” giving significance to the beautiful Lake Bato, which teems with numerous species of fishes such as the well known tabios, tilapia nilotica, carp, eel and many others. It focuses on the promotion of what the lake has to offer and the preservation of this important fish habitat. It is highlighted by a street parade where participants are clad in fish costumes.



Photos of the hot-air balloon (page 117) and strawberries (above) are by Borriz Caparuzo. The rest of the pictures are from Wikipedia Commons (, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. To view details of the license conditions, visit description pages at (for the Ati-atihan), Commons. (for the Sinulog Festival), (for the Pasungay Festival), (for the Dinagyang Festival), wiki/File:Candles_flame_in_the_wind-other.jpg (for the candles photo), (for the guitar), and (for the flowers).

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 5, Number 3, Nov-Dec 2009

Experience travel and Living  

your ultimate travel guide

Experience travel and Living  

your ultimate travel guide