Experience Travel and Living Volume 2 Number 2

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Vol. 2 // No. 2 // 2015 // ISSN 1908-2649



t ra ve l

l u xe

The pulse of España; street-level in Sevilla Harry Potter’s turning Japanese t ra ve l

l i t e

Sun Xi Beach Club: Cebu’s secret no more Seeking the sparkle in Maniwaya Island Destination Divisoria: Fashion “haute-spots”

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015



EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

contents EXPERIENCE Travel & Living // Vol. 2 // No. 2 // 2015

Travel Luxe 10

The best escapade in Bohol


Channeling your inner Harry Potter


Ninja for a day


Spain: The Sevilla way


Cover Story 28

Redefining luxury at Luxent


The leadership of lady managers


Style for all seasons

Travel Lite



The Aquatico experience


We dream of Dumaguete


The pleasure of privacy


Discovering Batangas’ little secret


Maniwaya Island: A treasure revealed


Dress for less


The great outdoor experience


Bountiful pleasures at Harvest Hotel


Leading a team of “thinking managers”


Dream dining destination in Central Luzon


Ageless and indulgent


Postings 90


Sofitel Philippine Plaza takes wellness to new heights


Outdoor activities at the Enchanted Kingdom


Countryside pleasures


App offers internet services zero data charges


Japanese cuisine at the Midas


Who dares, wins!


Florsheim regional executive

Cover photograph: PATRICK UY Gown: ALBERT ANDRADA Accessories: EVITA PERONI

visits Manila 95

Skin to skin with Gunze


Hotel Sogo’s culinary contest

Styling: JEAR DE MC CUTTAC and VIANCA ONASA Hair and Makeup: MJ PRAZ

is a ninja quest 96

Samsung’s new digital appliances


designed for the family

Pinoy at heart 98


Golf is business



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Redefining luxury at Luxent


After several issues of Experience Travel and Living came out under the new management group, I couldn’t help but wonder how we were able to pull it off, considering the tight competition from both the print and online spheres. Sleepless nights and many anxious moments notwithstanding, the team rose to the occasion, displayed nerves of steel and a firm resolve to publish fascinating and attention-grabbing stories and photos for our print and online versions, and our Herculean efforts seem to have gained some headway. Our sales team reports that the magazine went off the racks at such blinding speed, and the number of visitors who checked out our website, www.experiencetravel.ph, significantly increased sans any form of aggressive promotion. Clearly, everybody’s noticing this supposedly “small fish in the pond” in the travel and lifestyle media. So for this issue, we decided to lean back a little, had some “fun” and dipped our fingers a bit on some “fashionable” stuff. Our feature on Luxent Hotel, the grandest and most exciting hotel in Quezon City’s entertainment and lifestyle district, will tell you why it is the next most important business and lifestyle destination in the metro. We also talked to several unknown but equally proficient fashion designers in the Divisoria area and learned how they deliver high-quality and fashionable formal wear without breaking everyone’s wallets. Of course, the usual excellent local and overseas travel destinations are present, and our travel radar will continue to be on the lookout for thriving and breath-taking tourism hubs that we know you’ll be interested to check out on your next holiday sojourn. Happy reading!


EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015



RORY VISCO Editor-in- Chief



Online Editor

Editorial Consultant

JERRY MANALILI Creative Director






NILO AGUSTIN Creative Consultant

NANET BONIFACIO Advertising and Sales Director


DONABELLE TORDILLA (Colorado, USA), MA. CECILIA CHELA GAHUMAN (Hawaii, USA) International Representatives

Experience Travel and Living is published bi-monthly by

MODE DEVI PUBLISHING, INC. Suite 205 Corinthian Executive Regency Sapphire Road, Ortigas Center, San Juan, Metro Manila LILIAN SIA SENGIA, Chief Finance Officer DENNIS SIA, Vice President

Visit www.experiencetravel.ph Like us at www.facebook.com/ExperienceTravel.Ph Email experiencetravelandliving@gmail.com Call us at (632) 584-5360 The magazine and its editors assume no responsibility for 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 appear in the publication. Opinions expressed in Experience are solely those of the writers and not necessarily endorsed by the company and its editors. Printed in the Philippines. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED No part of the magazine may be reproduced in full or in part without prior written permission from the editors.


EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015






Rafael Zulueta (1) As chief photographer of a leading food magazine for the past 14 years, “Raffy” has mastered the art of food photography. He also does travel photography, but his training in lifestyle publications includes dipping his hands into fashion, beauty, news, personalities, product, event coverage and creative photography. He also takes photographs for some of the country’s leading online sites, business magazines, and mostread broadsheet newspapers. Ruby Asoy-Lebajo (2) Ruby’s exposure in the media started from her elementary years up to college. With a Bachelor in Journalism degree, her early media work started with being an editorial assistant, lifestyle writer, and involvement in corporate engagements where she learned the ropes of editorial work—from writing, proofreading, pictorial for cover stories, and dealing with personalities and celebrities. She shifted to advertising work and handled a magazine group, an online portal, a morning TV show and culinary TV shows. Her present work at a leading public relations agency taught her about discipline, creativity,


media planning and placements, while facing day-to-day challenges when it comes to handling clients. Joseph Cortes (3) With a more than two-decade journalistic career, Joseph first covered the political beat for seven years. He then shifted to lifestyle reporting where he wrote innumerable stories with specific topics focused on food, travel and the performing arts.






comes to writing (storytelling, that is) everything about Manila and its storied past. In 2008, he became part of an organization that regularly holds walking tours in famous Manila spots like Intramuros, Binondo in Chinatown and Divisoria, to name a few.

Niel Mugas (4) Certified traveler, wanderer, adventurer, explorer, adrenaline junkie. He admits the travel bug bit him when he was in his early 20's. But despite increasing limitations mainly from work and other concerns, he still manages to pursue his travel adventures with much vigor and passion.

Joy Mirasol (6) Joy Mirasol is a 30-something PR professional who believes that there’s no such thing as work-life balance and that the best ideas come out after midnight. A self-proclaimed water baby, she loves going to the beach every so often, and occasionally “trying” to surf and wakeboard in spite of her poor balance. She loves plane rides as much as road trips, and almost always found with a drink in hand, whether at the beach or in the city.

Anson Yu (5) Anson loves to walk for long hours, enjoys writing freelance and calls himself an “occasional photography junkie.” He is fascinated with everything about Manila, something that was born out of the very place where he grew up and worked in. The appeal of the city’s glorious past made him a prominent personality when it

Patrick Uy (7) Patrick is a most sought-after wedding photographer, whose clients include some of the biggest names in local business, politics, and show business. He also specializes in advertising photography and is the proprietor of Pacific Light Studio. He is past president of both the Camera Club of the Philippines and of the

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Advertising Photographers of the Philippines. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Ateneo de Manila University. Sylvain Liechti (8) Sylvain Liechti was born in Swizerland, grew up in Burundi, studied photography in Europe and Australia and worked as a freelance photojournalist for several Swiss newspapers including 24Heures and La Région. He traveled to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan where he did a photo essay on fishing activities in post-Soviet countries. Inspired by the work of Sebastiao Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, he became a photographer in conflict and post-conflict zones. He was the official photographer for the United Nations in Burundi, where he covered the demobilization process in 2009 and the elections in 2010. Since 2011, Sylvain was the photographer of MONUSCO, the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He covered the conflict in the Kivus and Ituri and followed the Blue Helmets in their different operations and daily life. His work has been widely published by the United Nations and media outlets throughout the world.


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Indulge in luxury and high-end living amid clear-blue skies and expansive bodies of water crafted for you by Mother Nature. Experience these at the Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa in bountiful Bohol, or marvel at the otherworldly charms and the magnificence that stunning Sevilla in Spain has to offer. You can't get these anywhere else. You can even channel your inner Harry Potter at the Universal Studios Japan or cherish the wonders of animation and savor the glory days of Japanese film-making at the Toei Studios in Kyoto, Japan. Get to experience all of these as Experience Travel & Living takes you there!

Everything quiet and serene, whether at the infinity pool of Eskaya or at the calm "blue" waters of the sea that beckons


EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


travelluxe 1 Marvel at the facade of Eskaya's famed Presidential ("Balai Datu") Villa 2 Bask in total privacy under Eskaya's rich foliage while served with your favorite cool drink 3 Experience a stunning view of the vast Bohol Sea and its deep blue and clear waters and you'll learn to appreciate the exquisite and luxurious beauty of Mother Nature


The Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa heightens the island’s natural enduring allure





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ichard Lim, Jr. the 28-year-old Managing Director of Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa, is now plotting the future of Bohol’s premier getaway for the very rich, famous tourists and high-profile celebs. “My vision for Eskaya is to make it one of the top brands not only in the Philippines but also in Asia,” Lim says. “With ASEAN integration, where businesses, investments and people in the region can move around freely, we could establish a couple of resorts in Thailand and Indonesia.” There are also plans to expand beyond Bohol and operate luxury resorts in Tagaytay and Palawan, places where tourism has been booming for the last several years.

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The thatched villas have their own private pool, outdoor showers and whirpool tubs, and a stunning view of the endless sea and sky, all blue and white all year round. 4 The Family Villa at Eskaya is certainly a perfect fit for families who wish to enjoy a grand time together 5 Perfectly landscaped pathways like this make walking around the resort a pleasurable experience 6 Alone time and marveling at the exquisite view of the blue ocean is definitely something to look forward to at every stay at Eskaya 7 The Infinity Pool at the Handuraw Spa 8 Bask in the comfort of Eskaya's Infinity Pool villas with bedrooms made out of cogon grass, bamboo and wood and enjoy a truly wonderful stay with your special someone 9 Refresh yourself in your villa's own private pool at one of Eskaya's Family Villas


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In anticipation of a huge wave of tourists expected to flock to the country because of a high-profile marketing campaign overseas by the government, Eskaya had undertaken since last year a P150 million peso expansion where nine more thatched villas at the resort’s 11-hectare property will be constructed. The plan is to have 24 private villas from the current 15 that guests could choose from. A new gym and tennis court are also being constructed and are expected to be completed around the same time as the villas. Eskaya alone is enjoying a resurgence in tourist arrivals which is not at all surprising given the resort’s fantastic sceneries, powdery sand beach front, top-notch facilities that married the modern and the rustic, providing world-class standards while preserving its idyllic beauty. The thatched villas are strategically located to ensure exclusivity and the privacy of the guests. While offering the comforts of modern technology such as Wifi, CD and DVD libraries, they are constructed the traditional Filipino way using indigenous materials such as bamboo, cogon grass, and wood. As a result, the villas resemble the traditional Filipino homes or “balais.” Most of them have their own private pool, outdoor showers and whirpool tubs, and a stunning view of the endless sea and sky, all blue and white all year round, especially during the summer season. For those who love pampering and relaxing, the Handuraw Spa offers a fusion of traditional therapies and modern spa technology; a melting pot of Asian healing practices and rich European spa traditions. For the sports minded, it has facilities for beach volleyball, badminton, water sports, kayaking, and scuba diving. Another interesting part of working at Eskaya, Lim says, is being sent abroad to market the resort. As a manager, he says he is “hands on,” which he thinks is both his strength and weakness. “I tend to handle the accounts personally. I try to get to know our partners in the travel industry. And sometimes when we have events such as big, high-profile weddings, I even handle them myself. So, I think it’s both a strength and weakness,” he says.

Dining experiences

That personal touch comes in handy during the dining experiences that the guests can enjoy at the resort: Under the stars by the poolside, or at the beachfront with a romantic bonfire, and the smell of food grills wafting through the air and mixing with the sea breeze. They are also serenaded with wonderful music as they dine, adding a romantic touch to an unforgettable luxury vacation.

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10 Eskaya's Handuraw Spa offers both Asian healing practices and modern spa technology 11 Whet your hunger pangs at Eskaya with its Tuna Tartare, one of many international classics at Lantawan Restaurant 12 Strolling along the white-sand beach of Eskaya is like heaven on earth

The resort also offers a unique Filipino dining experience with its international classics and Filipino bestsellers served at its Lantawan Restaurant. Inspired by local flavor, the restaurant also specializes in Boholano dishes such as “humba,” a pork dish that resembles the famous “adobo” although cooked and prepared in a different way, with a different flavor. With his busy schedule, Lim says his

only form of relaxation is getting a massage at the resort and enjoying its scenic, postcard-perfect view. “To be honest, sometimes when I am really stressed out, I just look around and tell myself that I am in a five-star resort,” he said. “Just looking at the sea already makes the stress go away.” It is one of the many experiences that many who visit Eskaya delight in and share.

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“Sometimes when I am really stressed out, I just look around and tell myself that I am in a five-star resort.” —Eskaya Managing Director Richard Lim, Jr. 12


EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


Channeling your inner

HARRY POTTER Words and photos by Anson Yu

In this Universal Studios Tour, you can fly on your own broomstick and fight Dementors



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Given the huge popularity of the “Harry Potter” book and film series, you will not be surprised how Universal Studios Japan in Osaka tries to control the crowds visiting this hugely popular attraction. For one, having an entrance ticket does not guarantee your entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as you need to line up for another ticket, which can be obtained for free within the park near Amity Village where the Jaws ride is located (just follow the horde of people running!) The ticket will indicate what time you will be allowed to enter the Wizarding World, and it will probably be the only time in your entire trip to Japan when you can see the normally polite and well-mannered Japanese acting frantic and rushing to get in line for those coveted tickets. Depending on the time printed on your pass, you can either explore the rest of the theme park first, or you can head directly to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The second one to open in 2014 after the first in Universal Studios in Orlando, it features Harry Potter’s Hogwarts school and the nearby village of Hogsmeade. But 1 The entrance to Hogsmeade of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios Japan already makes you wonder with much anticipation 2 You'll surely marvel at the throng of people crowding the streets of Hogsmeade Village 3 The iconic Universal Studios emblem stands proud inside this massive entertainment park in Osaka

cinematic theatrical experience where you will feel what it is like to fly on broomsticks, get fire blown at you and come face to face with the Dementors and giant spiders. The ride is so popular, the lines for this amusement ride can last longer than two hours!

Straight to the journey 3

One of the shops has a caged “The Monster Books of Monsters” that occasionally growls at shoppers. Then in a covered plaza next to the Owl Post shop, you can even have your picture taken next to a real owl. unlike the one in Orlando, this one features Hogwart’s Black Lake and live owls. Once you enter, you walk past what appears to be a smaller version of Stonehenge and down a winding path to reach the gates of Hogsmeade. From here, most visitors would rush straight towards Hogwarts where the main attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is located. It is a 4D

However, you can shorten your waiting time without the need for a magic spell. Just book in advance via the Universal Studio Japan website for an Express pass 5 or Express pass 7. Like magic, these two passes allow you to cut through the line for some of the more popular rides, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It is also said to be available for those booked in Universal Studios Japan partner-hotels nearby. Check online for details on how to get these passes as there are limited numbers issued daily. The Wizarding World’s other ride, Flight of the Hippogriff, is a child-friendly roller coaster ride completely opposite to the Forbidden Journey, but you will still find people lining for this. If you were not able to get the express pass and you don’t have the patience to line up, you can still enter Hogwarts via a castle tour where you can view the castle’s rooms such as Dumbledore’s office and the classroom for the Defense Against the Dark Arts. However, lower your expectations of

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Entrance for adults is ¥7,200 including tax, while children 12 years and below pay ¥4,980. Senior citizens are charged a special rate of ¥6,470.

While they have yet to find a way to transport Muggles to the park via broomstick, you can travel to the theme park via rail service. From Osaka Station, there

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are several direct rail services to the park. Another way is to take the city’s subway to JR Nishikujo Station and transfer to the JR Yumesaki Line to Universal Studios Japan.

4 The Hogwarts Castle that houses the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry 5 A sample meal with the Three Broomsticks' famous beverage, the "Butterbeer" 6 The amazing paintings inside the Hogwarts school 7 A group of people crowd the famous Hogwarts Express 8 A perched "live" owl continues to attract the attention of parkgoers

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it being like the movie since everyone, including Harry himself, talks in Japanese. Once done with the rides, you could probably hop over to Three Broomsticks, the only dining option within this attraction. Though food bought outside is allowed inside the park, looking for a place to sit down and eat can be difficult. Family-friendly British food fare such as fish-and-chips and Shepherd’s pie, as well as roast chicken and barbecue ribs, are offered here. The best part is that you can actually sample two of Harry’s favorite beverages—Butterbeer and pumpkin juice. I was only able to sample the Butterbeer. While it may look like real beer, it is non-alcoholic and tastes like an ice cream float.

Magical places

One reason why the “Harry Potter” series is popular is how it manages to take something ordinary such as a train ride and make it a truly magical experience. Here, they managed to do that with the shopping. You could see this with the park’s recreation of Ollivanders, where Harry Potter bought his wand. To make the experience more exciting, only a limited number of people are allowed to enter the shops at a time. Once you enter the darkened front room, a Japanese shop assistant will start addressing the group before ushering them into another room where you will

meet Ollivander himself. In a mixture of Japanese and English, he will choose a subject from the group and help them “magically” choose the right wand. Once the act is over, the group then exits through another door and ends up in the rear room where you can buy a wand that represents your favorite character from the series. Another shop recreated here is Honeydukes, the place where Hogwarts students buy sweets like chocolate frogs and BertieBotts Every Flavor Beans. They have also reconstructed Zonko’s Joke Shop where students would buy their gag gifts and novelty items. While the other shops are not as dramatic in terms of presentation as Ollivanders, they are no less interesting when it comes to gimmicks. One of the shops has a caged “The Monster Books of Monsters” that occasionally growls at shoppers. Then in a covered plaza next to the Owl Post shop, you can even have your picture taken next to a real owl. Once done exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can now venture out to the rest of Universal Studios Japan. It is not as if the magic has ended, since this theme park has many more to offer, from live action stunt shows such as Water World to even more exciting rides like the Amazing Adventure of Spiderman. But admittedly, experiencing what it is like to be in Harry Potter’s world would be a tough act to follow. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015



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hile Kyoto is famous for its temples, gardens and geishas, it was also once the center of the Japanese film industry. Between the 1920s and the 1960s, Japanese film companies such as Toei Studio used to shoot as many as 60 films a year at their Kyoto studios. After production slumped in the 1960s, the company decided in 1975 to open part of its backlot for public tours. Since then it has evolved to become the “Toei Kyoto Studio Park.” If the name Toei sounds familiar, it's because it's also the same group that gave you animé classics such as Mazinger Z and Sailor Moon. It began its venture into animation when it bought the Japan Animation Studio in 1956. Since then then it rolled out live action fantasy series such as Kamen Rider (or Masked Rider) and the Power Rangers. Considering the popularity of these series, you might think that this theme park have exciting rides based on those shows. Well, sorry, there are none. Instead, the studio’s venture in animation and live action is highlighted in two separate exhibits where you can learn more about old-school animation (no computers!) as well as the company’s history in animation. That is, if you can read Japanese as all the signs and descriptions in the exhibit are in Nihongo. But it won’t really matter once you have taken a photo with Sailor Moon, UFO Grendizer, or the Power Rangers.

Historical cosplay


1 UFO Robot Grendizer or simply "Grendizer," one of the more popular robots in Japanese animation, found at the Toei Anime Museum 2 Actors who participated in various live swordplay inside the park 3 The Super Sentai collection on proud display 4 Studio visitors playing dress up 5 One of the tram sets that replicate an early 19th century Tokyo street

Even without the rides there are plenty of fun things you can do here. The buildings in the backlot feature authentic street scenes of Japan during the Edo (16031868) and the Meiji (1868-1912) periods. There’s a traditional court house, an inn, a police station, a public bath and even a Yoshiwara or a red light district. The studio still used this backlot as the setting for historical movies and TV dramas where visitors were welcome to quietly observe during the shoot. Unlike other backlots, these buildings are more than just façades as some have interior sets. My Japanese friend, Atsuko, noted the authenticity of the interiors when we entered a traditional farm house. One thing that caught her attention was the kamidana, an altar placed high on the wall where the locals would offer a simple prayer daily and offerings such as freshly cooked rice balls. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015







6 Bring back the kid in you as seen through these kids displaying their martial arts skills 7 Kids try doing animation "old-school" style (read: "no computers") 8 A typical street scene in old Japan 9 Park attendant in a bright yellow geisha outfit 10 Sailor Moon and her friends 11 A live ninja show never fails to amuse and entertain park guests, young and old alike 12 Kids ogling at the various Kamen Rider tosukatsu superheroes on display



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To add to the atmosphere, park attendants are dressed in historic costumes. For a total experience, the studio rents out costumes to visitors for a fee (¥8500 to ¥12000). There are over 30 different attires to choose from including that of ninjas, geishas, and samurais. There’s even a photo studio where you can have yourself photographed in the outfit of your choice. To keep visitors amused, performers roam, doing traditional Japanese street entertainment like juggling and acrobatics. There are also live demos of authentic Japanese sword fights, which you can even try out yourself, just for kicks. Visit also a location studio for a behind-the-scene look and learn more about how jidaigeki or historical dramas are made. For more action, check out the live action ninja stunt show inside the Nakamuraza Theater at the center of the park.

Live performances

If viewing all these live action shows inspire you to become a ninja as well, you can do so at least for a day. Aside from renting a ninja costume, you can enrol in a Ninja Dojo or training school where you can put to good use what you’ve learned by trying to escape from the Ninja Mystery House, moving from room to room via hidden passageways and avoiding traps along the way. Your newly learned ninja skills could also be useful inside the Trick Art

Museum which features 3D arts and props. Aside from historical dramas, Toei Studio is also known for creating the best and scariest horror films. With their knowledge on how to scare people, the park has come out with what they claim as one of the scariest haunted houses in Japan. Unlike other theme parks that rely on animatronics, this one has real actors so visitors are requested to refrain from punching, kicking or throwing their newly brought shuriken (ninja shooting stars) at the actors once inside this attraction. Other park features include a 360-degree 3D theater as well as a museum dedicated to Ukiyo-e or traditional Japanese woodblock prints. It may seem out of place to include a woodblock print exhibit inside a movie theme park, but remember this is Kyoto and it is the epicenter of Japanese culture. Even if none of the prints exhibited are the originals, the exhibit does a good job of explaining the process of how these prints were created. They even made it more fun for kids by including three interactive attractions for the whole family to have fun. For me, this is a theme park that is just perfect for Kyoto. It provides a light-hearted balance to the solemnity of the city’s cultural and art treasures. But like everything else in this city, it also offers visitors insights into Japanese (and pop) culture as well.

Unlike other theme parks that rely on animatronics, this one has real players so visitors are requested to refrain from punching, kicking or throwing their newly brought shuriken (ninja shooting stars) at the actors once inside this attraction.



Adults: ¥2,200, Children and persons with disability: ¥1,100. Note some of the attractions such as the Ninja Mystery House, Trick Art Museum and the Haunted House have a separate ¥500 entrance fee each.

The theme park is accessible from JR Kyoto Station via bus, subway and rail routes. If you are not sure which one to take, go to the Kyoto Tourist Information Center at the 2nd floor or the JR Kyoto Station. The staff is more than willing to help.

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SPAIN The Sevilla way Flamenco dances and all-night drinking sessions enliven age-old structures and historical landmarks WORDS and photos by Niel Mugas

“Sevilla, not Seville.” We were speeding towards Seville’s historic old town and my cabbie was giving me a crash course on the art of Spanish pronunciation and its benefits. He insisted that if I were to learn the secrets of this city or get assistance from its people, I should be able to say its name using its original form and sound. Three hours’ worth of roaming convinced me that he was right. I asked for directions using English and the locals shied away. I tried my very rusty Spanish and got long cheerful replies full of flowery and detailed instructions. It’s a matter of courtesy and pride, my cabbie shared. Sevillanos like to call their city using the local sound, not the westernized version, because they are extremely proud of their heritage. And why shouldn’t they be? Sevilla, located at the very heart of the autonomous region of Andalusia, is known throughout the world as the mecca of Flamenco culture. It exudes Old World charm while its magnificent architecture and urban planning rival any prominent state in Europe.

Turbulent past

Originally founded by the Romans, Sevilla was historically known as Hispalis and its people were called Hispalenses. After the Romans came conquests by the Vandals, Suebi, and the Visigoths. Then, the Moors or Muslims from North Africa stormed the city and established the rule of the Almoravids and Almohads dynasties. Nearly 700 years of Moorish reign have left deep cultural and architec-


tural influences on Sevilla. Over the years, this Moorish influence will be tempered by the Spanish control which began with Ferdinand III of Castile. During such time, Sevilla saw the spread of the Spanish Mudejar style, inspired by Islamic art developed under Christian rule. The bloody Spanish Inquisition and a plague in 1649 demolished Sevilla’s population by half, but the city managed to bounce back. The demolition of a section of its ancient walls also gave way to expansion and the construction of modern cosmopolitan districts. Developments in the 20th century like the construction of the Plaza de España for the 1929 Ibero-American exposition, the inauguration of the Santa Justa train station, the Seville airport (Aeropuerto Sevilla), highspeed rail system (Alta Velocidad Espanola), and the Metropol Parasol further spurred the growth of Sevilla.

Andalusian splendor

For nearly a fortnight, I spent every waking hour exploring the city’s every nook and cranny, like its modern shopping complexes such as Calle Sierpes and the numerous branches of El Corte Ingles. In Barrio Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter, you can spend hours here getting lost in the beauty of narrow alleys with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. Numerous shops sell azulejos or Moorish tiles, Flamenco dresses, abanicos and other Sevilla memorabilia. My feet also brought me to the La Macarena which covers the north-

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Sevilla's impressive Las Setas de Encarnacion or Metro Parasol, an imposing structure and symbol of architectural marvel made of criss-crossed wooden beams and touted as the world's largest timber-framed structure

The Las Setas de Encarnacion or Metro Parasol was built in 2004 to transform the erstwhile sleepy Plaza de la Encarnacion to a new contemporary urban space. It features art exhibits and performances for Sevillanos and contains several bars and restaurants.

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several bars and restaurants. The viewing deck at the top of the parasol provides a bird’s eye view of the city. Another must-see destination is the grand Plaza de Espana. Built in time for the IberoAmerica exposition of 1929, this landmark is a picturesque semi-circle plaza that features a mixture of Art Deco and Neo-Mudejar styles. A moat surrounds the entire complex, which you can traverse using a boat. At the center of this complex is a fountain that attracts local and foreign tourists alike.

Party time

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See or simply Sevilla Cathedral and its La Giralda or Bell Tower. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest Gothic church in Europe and the third largest church in the world

eastern section of Sevilla. It is located close to the Alameda and home to interesting mansions and smaller churches. Calle Feria is near the flea markets held every Thursday or El Jueves. At night, I would cross the Puente de Isabell II towards Triana located at the west bank of the Guadalquivir river to explore the old Gypsy quarter where you can buy porcelain vases, pottery items, and Moorish tiles. This former seat of the Spanish inquisition used to be the home of many sailors, potters, and Flamenco artisans. In it is Calle Betis,a street lined with restaurants, clubs and bars where you can pass time while enjoying the view of the Guadalquivir under the fading light. Calle Betis is also a great vantage point to see Torre Del Oro and the Teatro Real Maestranza. During siesta, when Sevilla falls into a mid-day slumber, I braved the summer heat and trekked to the historic old town and other important landmarks. The most popular include the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See or simply Seville Cathedral, a mammoth structure touted as the largest Gothic church in Europe and the third largest church in the world. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, this church has five naves and contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The bell tower beside the church is called La Giralda. It is the former minaret of a mosque built during the Almohad regime. In front of the church, you can hire one of the horse-drawn carriages for an authentic tour of the city. The nearby Casa Lonja de Mercaderes built in 1585 is also a UNESCO Heritage Site and is now called the Archivos de Indies. It houses all the oldest and the most important documents of the American colonies during the medieval period. The Real Alcazar Seville is also one of the city’s most majestic structures, with a group of palaces and extensive gardens decorated in the varied architectural design


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and influence of Sevilla’s former conquerors. The Patio del Yeso is a throwback to the Almohad style while the Palacio de Pedro I was built using the Spanish Mudejar style. The Alcazar’s main palace stands on a former Moorish fort built in the 10th century but later redesigned to be a grand structure to house the Spanish monarchs. Until now, it is still used as the Spanish royal family’s residence in Sevilla.

The Plaza de Espana, with a fountain at the center of this massive and picturesque semicircle plaza that is surrounded by a moat

I also spent some time walking around the streets surrounding the Alameda de Hercules, considered as Sevilla’s alternative district because of its edgy restaurants. Outdoor terraces and clubs remain open until 7 a.m. It is also the appointed gay district of the city. Notable structures include the Torre de Don Fadrique and the Convento San Clemente which boasts of 16 century azulejos and frescoes. One of the modern structures in Sevilla, the Las Setas de Encarnacion or Metro Parasol was built in 2004 to transform the erstwhile sleepy Plaza de la Encarnacion to a new contemporary urban space. It contains six huge parasols made up of crisscrossed wooden beams and is considered as the world’s largest timber-framed structure. Completed in 2011, it now serves as an identifying landmark that gives Sevilla further recognition, a la Guggenheim in Bilbao. The Setas features art exhibits and performances for Sevillanos and contains

While known for Flamenco bars, Sevilla also offers multitudes of options for gustatory delights and late-night partying. I made sure to check out a tablao or a more expensive restaurant that offers professional Flamenco performances. The entrance fee varies depending on the complimentary tapas that come with it. If you have a limited budget, many bars in the Triana district offer less expensive Flamenco shows. Sevilla is home to a million tapas bars where you can enjoy casual conversations with friends and family over a bottle of wine, sangria, or beer. For the men of Sevilla, the best option for drinking is a cerveceria. Unlike a tapas bar where you can order food with your drink, cervecerias offer beers and little else. Cruzcampo is the most popular beer in Sevilla and the entire Andalusia. Famous cerveserias include El Tremendo in Santa Catalina and Bar Jota in Avenida Luis Montoto. Many younger Sevillanos also engage in botellones, the art of public drinking with drinks. The drinking sessions normally begin around 10 p.m. until the early hours of the morning. The atmosphere was just electric and the energy was literally and figuratively intoxicating. Other popular destinations for the younger crowds are the El Arenal district located near the Cathedral and the Alfalfa neighborhood. Many discotecas and terrazas in the city stay open until 6 am. The most popular include Boss in Calle Betis, Babilonia, Notre Dame, and Weekend House Club. Live bars are also popular including Fun Club and Bulebar, La Buena Estrella in Alameda, El Perro Andaluz in Santa Catalina and Pub Taifa in Centro. Sevilla is a place that will remain with you long after you leave it, and the memory of its exotic charms will make you want to come back.

GETTING THERE Sevilla is easily accessible from other Spanish cities. From Madrid, you can take the two-hour high-speed train from Atocha train station to the city for about 55-70 Euro. You can also fly directly to the city via the local airline Iberia.

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1 The Lush Bar & Lounge Cafe is Luxent Hotel's spacious yet relaxing spot to either dine or just chill. Notice the wall at the bar area made of eye-catching glass tiles plus the high ceiling 2 Even with her eyes shut tight, you can picture total enjoyment from this girl at Luxent Hotel's unique, glass-encased infinity pool





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LUXENT Luxent Hotel sets the bar for hospitality establishments in Quezon City with its elegant ambience and friendly service Words by Joseph Cortes // Photos by Patrick Uy

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Travelers are a curious lot: no matter how hard you try to fit them into groups, it is hard to pin them down to specific categories. Many leisure travelers are conscious of conveniences that do not sacrifice comfort, yet offer a touch of luxury that will add pizzazz to their trip. Staycationers merely want a few days of pampering away from the demands of their homes. Budget travelers may scrimp on necessities, but may suddenly decide to splurge for quality me-time before heading home. And then, there are those who travel in groups— families, officemates, or specialists who are part of a convention or meeting—whose needs could be varying. What is important for all these travelers are well-appointed accommodations that could meet their demands.

Think of it as affordable luxury

Luxent Hotel in Quezon City is one such establishment. Located along busy Timog Avenue, just a few steps from the famed “Boy Scout Circle” memorial for the 24 Filipino Boy Scouts and scouting officials who perished in a plane crash on the way to the 11th World Jamboree in Greece in 1963, Luxent Hotel offers leisure and business travelers the impeccable service they demand. For three years now, Luxent Hotel has been known for being stylish and luxurious, a truly well-deserved


recognition. In fact, since the hotel opened in 2012, it has become the standard for corporate and leisure facilities and amenities in Quezon City. “Luxent Hotel is conducive to pleasure and comfort,” says Luxent Hotel General Manager Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan. “The hotel offers style and comfort, plus superior quality that is priced reasonably.” The hotel is now a favorite hub for meetings and conferences within the area. Apart from having a grand ballroom and meeting spaces, it is right within Timog Avenue and very near Tomas Morato, Quezon City’s entertainment hubs. Visitors can simply walk around to discover some of the city’s favorite dining places, clubs, and KTV bars for a night of fun and leisure. And since the compounds of two of the country’s biggest television networks are nearby, spotting your favorite actors is a common occurrence. “The hotel offers accessibility to many establishments,” Pagkalinawan adds. “We saw the potential of its proximity to hospitals, government offices, BPOs, private companies, entertainment hubs, TV networks, and shopping malls.” It is also close to a variety of tourist attractions, such as the La Mesa Ecopark, Quezon City Memorial Circle, and a number of mall complexes.

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3 Celebrating special moments at Luxent Hotel's spacious function rooms 4 Elegant banquet setups like this make Luxent Hotel a true favorite destination for wedding and other special occasions 5 The hallway outside Luxent Hotel's ballroom and function rooms is a perfect picture of style and grandeur with its high ceiling and walls bedecked with large mirrors


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“Luxent Hotel is conducive to pleasure and comfort. The hotel offers style and comfort, plus superior quality that is priced reasonably.” —Luxent Hotel General Manager Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan

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While the lobby provides a great preview of what to expect at Luxent Hotel, wait until you see their 117 rooms. All are wellappointed, decked with amenities that leisure or business travelers would need.


Grand lobby

The moment you step in, you will be awestruck by a spacious grand lobby, not really typical among other hotels in the city. The imposing high ceiling differentiates the hotel from the others, and gives a sense of elegance discerning guests have come to expect. The front desk at the left of the entrance is discreetly dressed in rich chocolate, while a huge abstract canvas over it adds color to the lobby’s sumptuous interior of cream walls, brown wood finish, and glossy black tiles. At its center is the hotel’s signature Lush Bar & Lounge where guests can have drinks and snacks in a stylish and relaxed atmosphere. At the other end of the lobby, just over the bar area, is a huge wall of eye-catching glass tiles. Near the front desk is the vestibule, a spacious part just before the elevator. It is separated from the rest of the lobby by a wooden enclosure that lends it drama, making it a perfect spot for pre-nuptial shoots. On most days, you’ll find incoming guests stopping here for a quick selfie.

Well-appointed rooms

While the lobby provides a great preview of what to expect at Luxent Hotel, wait until you see their 117 rooms. All are well-appointed, decked with amenities that leisure or


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6 Luxent Hotel's well appointed executive suite fit for the discriminating executive 7 The bathroom spacious enough for kids to play and have fun 8 The toothy smile means this child is having fun at the kiddie pool 9 The modern fitness equipment at the Luxent Hotel's AquaTrim Fitness Center located at the 6th Floor 10 Hotel guests find the exercise area of Luxent Hotel's AquaTrim Fitness Center truly invigorating for their health and fitness activities


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11 Luxent Hotel's "Hodebab," with fresh tuna, steamed Japanese rice and mixed vegetables 12 Pork Shoyu Ramen with quail eggs 13 Luxent Hotel's Executive Chef Christian "Ian" Martinez in action 14 Ginataang Halo-Halo with bilo-bilo, mais, monggo served with Turrones con Mangga't Langka on the side 15 The spacious Garden Cafe of Luxent Hotel is big enough to sit a huge throng of hungry people at any time of the day



business travelers would need. The hotel has 109 Deluxe King and Superior Queen rooms configured with a king-sized or two queen-sized beds, respectively. Unlike other hotels in the district, the rooms here are quite generous, averaging 37 square meters for that space you need during your stay. There are also seven executive suites, with a floor area of 49 square meters for those who require more room. In fact, each suite has a receiving area where guests can entertain friends if they need privacy. The hotel’s premier room is the Luxent Suite. With a total floor space of 161 square meters, it is now considered to be the grandest accommodation in Quezon City. It has two Master’s bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, an outdoor Jacuzzi, lavish living and dining areas, and a bar for that luxurious feeling for those who desire nothing but the best.

Fine amenities

There is much to enjoy and experience at Luxent Hotel that you don’t really have to leave its premises to have a great time. Lush Bar & Lounge is a popular spot for drinks in the evening. A pianist welcomes requests during the day, while those who simply want to chill can enjoy the sight of vehicles

zooming by from the hotel’s glass façade. The lounge has seasonal promotions of bar chow that are a steal. For more filling meals, the Garden Café offers daily buffets featuring a selection of Filipino and international favorites, with stations devoted to grills, Japanese and Chinese food, and a dessert bar. The selection of items on the buffet is more extensive on weekends. If you want some quiet time, splash, or need to work out, the AquaTrim Fitness Center at the 6th floor is a popular spot, with an infinity pool where one wall is made of see-through glass for that unobstructed view of those swimming in its waters. It may not be big enough to do laps but on a warm afternoon, you can just laze by the poolside with a drink in hand. There is also a separate pool for kids. The well-appointed gym is the other half of the “AquaTrim” amenities, with a selection of equipment to help you work your body to its perfect form.

A busy corporate crowd

The hotel caters mainly to a corporate market as it remains busy with meetings, conferences, and conventions on weekdays. On weekends, the leisure crowd, particularly couples or families celebrating an important milestone, comes in.

Of late, the hotel has become a popular venue for wedding receptions. The entrance to the grand lobby and the vestibule are favorite spots for pictorials. Its Seasons Ballroom is a fantastic and huge pillar-less space measuring 420 square meters, with a six-meter high ceiling and elegant lighting, and can be broken down into four smaller rooms for intimate events. There is also a 40-square meter conference room that can be split into two separate spaces, as well as two VIP rooms for private events. Pagkalinawan says the hotel has its share of repeat customers, proof of the quality of service it offers. The staff has come to know these guests and have formed casual acquaintances with them. “Our service is adaptive and flexible,” the amiable Luxent Hotel GM said. “We cater to the different needs and requirements of guests: from those working on a budget to those who want us to keep safe and take care of their expensive bikes. What sets us apart is we extend the extra mile in servicing any request.”

HOW TO GET THERE From EDSA corner Timog Avenue, just go straight until you reach the Boy Scout Circle, then make a roundabout and a right turn at the second corner, which is the other end of Timog Avenue. Luxent Hotel is to your right.

Luxent Hotel is at 51 Timog Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City. For inquiries and reservations, call 863-7777. Log on to www.luxenthotel.com for details and exclusive web-only promotions. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


coverstory “WOMEN ARE GOOD PEOPLE MANAGERS” Luxent Hotel General Manager Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan says it is possible to balance a professional career and family life with just the right mindset Words by Joseph Cortes // Photos by Patrick Uy


here was a time when the hospitality industry was male-dominated, from hotels to resorts, and from restaurants to catering firms, where they held leadership roles. It was only in the 1980s, as more women became part of the workforce, when things changed. Women started taking on management positions in various industries, including hotels. Luxent Hotel General Manager Melanie Siy- Pagkalinawan agrees the trend now is for women to take on the leadership of hotels.

Homegrown professional

“I think those were the days when it was only the men who became leaders,” she says. “Now, the trend is more and more women are becoming leaders mainly because they are more approachable. They have their feminine touch: they are more mentoring, democratic, in a way, and are good people managers, with a different approach to things.” She considers herself a homegrown professional. While many of her contemporaries sought greener pastures abroad, she chose to stay for personal reasons. This industry veteran already held various positions in operations in a number of hotels in the country. She started as a front desk associate at the old Holiday Inn Manila along Roxas Boulevard. When hotel management changed four years later, she stayed on at Traders Hotel Manila. She has worked at Intercontinental Manila and Mandarin Oriental Manila, holding various posts in operations. Before she joined Luxent Hotel, she was hotel manager for Best Western Oxford Suites Makati.


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Luxent Hotel in Quezon City is becoming a popular destination for business and leisure travelers looking for friendly professional service in a luxurious setting. “Luxent Hotel is known for being stylish and luxurious with its great ambiance, great comfort, great food, and the friendly service of the staff,” she points out. Luxent Hotel is a singular brand, a special endeavor of its owners who saw the demand for comfortable lodgings in a deluxe setting. It has been Pagkalinawan’s mission to realize this vision for the hotel. “The hardest part of my job? It is working towards the hotel’s vision and mission, which is to be the preferred premier hotel in Metro Manila,” she shares. “We’re still aiming to be the No. 1 in Quezon City. It will still take us a while to get to that goal, but we’re getting there.”

Participative management

Although Luxent Hotel has only been in operation for three years, there are plans to build a new tower adjacent to the present building to add to the hotel’s inventory of 117 rooms. “You can expect more rooms, more function rooms, more staff, and more F&B outlets,” she explains. As regards her leadership style, she emphasized that a good leader is only as good as her staff, and the Luxent Hotel GM has made it a point to personally meet with the hotel’s employees regularly to listen to their ideas. “My leadership is more participative management,” she elaborates. “I interact with the staff, especially during regular operations meetings so that I can get to

“More women are becoming leaders mainly because they are more approachable. They are more mentoring and democratic.”

The amiable and soft-spoken Luxent Hotel General Manager Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan

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The right mindset

“I want the guests to feel that we take their comments seriously. Good or bad, we reply to the comments, see where the team can improve on.” know how they feel and see what’s best for them. I go around and make contact with them in the morning. I share information. I involve them. I encourage them to get their support because the ideas come from them. Their loyalty will also be there, because all that happens here has their support.” Apart from being hands-on with the hotel staff, she values the importance of guests’ feedback. She personally goes through all the comments the hotel receives from various travel portals, taking time to respond to each remark made about the hotel. “I want the guests to feel that we take their comments seriously. Good or bad, we reply to the comments, see where the team can improve on. If it is a good comment, then I share it with the team to motivate them," she says.

The affable GM also believes social media is helpful and very powerful. She says, “When we first started, we only had a few likes. Now, it is in the thousands. It’s one of the challenges I encounter at work: maintaining the hotel’s reputation. You can never please everybody, but I’m quite happy with the results. We are consistently getting good feedback.” In all her 24 years in the local hotel industry, she has managed to balance work and family, a feat most working women would envy. “I want to encourage my management team that you can work and have a family. It is about achieving balance. You cannot just work and work.” What is her secret to attaining this balance between work and her personal life? “It’s all about having the right mindset. I trained my kids to work and study hard, but they can go out and play after their studies. It’s really give and take, and they understand that I have to balance things. And I taught them well that my job is very important to how they would grow up, because this is where we get our bread and butter,” she explains. “I can apply what’s happening here at the hotel and apply it at home. If I can have patience with my staff, I can also have patience with my three active boys.”

The hard-working management team of Luxent Hotel, led by its General Manager, Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan (seated, extreme left)


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TRAVEL&WELLNESS Dra. Mary Jane “MJ” Torres

Aesthetic Medicine Italian Society of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery International Society of Mesotherapy French Society of Mesotherapy

Are you easily tired? Are you unusually anxious? Do you have a weight problem, despite trying all kinds of diets and exercise programs? Have you lost interest in sex? These are some indications of hormonal problems

Are your hormones out of whack?

Go for BHRT! To replenish the hormones back to its normal state, The Zen Institute recommends Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, also known as BHRT. Hormones are chemical messengers that travel in the bloodstream to the tissues and the organs affecting the growth process, metabolism, sexual function, and reproduction. As we grow older, the body produces less hormones and this can lead to weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, low sexual libido, digestion problems and other physical discomfort. Hormonal changes can affect any one, male, female, young and old. Most people associate it

with menopausal women. But this is not true. You can be deficient even if you are as young as 30 years old. And it’s not only women, even men can suffer from hormonal deficiency. Common problems among males like baldness, flabby muscles, slow recovery from strenuous physical

To replenish the hormones back to its normal state, The Zen Institute recommends Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, also known as BHRT.

activity or low sexual libido, can actually be caused by hormonal imbalance. Several factors can affect the body’s ability to produce hormones. Unhealthy lifestyle associated with stress and poor diet can hamper the body’s chemical balance. Bioidentical hormones are made from plantextracts yet possess the same chemical structure as human hormones. It is exactly the same as the hormones that our body produces that is why it is called bioidentical. Taken in supplement form, the therapy is uniquely tailored depending on the patient’s hormonal requirement. Several tests are administered including blood screening and saliva testing to determine the root cause of the problem. A patient is given a self-test to determine if their hormonal level is below normal. Patients are also asked to indicate any form of discomfort like fatigue, sleeping problems, thinning hair, sagging cheeks or whatever is bothering them. The test results are crucial to the success of the therapy. All the treatments at Zen Medical Spa are evidence-based and backed up by science. Patients need to go through several tests before they begin their BHRT therapy. People may not be aware of it, but most of the symptoms associated with the aging process like slow metabolism, loss of energy, weakening of the bones, lack of sexual libido, all are

caused by hormonal imbalance. The sad part is that people just as accept it as part of aging, not knowing that it can be treated. If you get tired easily, that’s a hormonal problem and it can be cured with BHRT. For males suffering from thinning hair, it can be addressed immediately so they don’t have to worry about going bald. They do not have to live with the problem. There is a cure.

BHRT is also beneficial to those leading active lives, and require an extra amount of physical energy. The therapy is tailor fit according to your body needs. It’s for anyone who wants to feel young and vibrant at any age. THE ZEN INSTITUTE is located at 69 Scout Rallos St., Tomas Morato, Quezon City (632) 441-1712 / (632) 412-2528); Ground Floor, Bonifacio Technology Center, 31st St., corner 2nd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (632) 856-2027; and at the St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center, Maharlika Highway, Bgy. 2, Sto. Tomas, Batangas (643) 778-4811. Visit www.thezeninstitute.com and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ZenMedicalSpa

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travelluxe coverstory



Styling Associate VIANCA ONASA



Wardrobe ALBERT ANDRADA (p41) NIÑO RAMIREZ (p43) SFERA (p44-45)

Accessories EVITA PERONI


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Cozy and classy dining within your reach at Sta. Monica Beach Club in Dumaguete


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travellite Acuatico's unique infinity pool is truly welcoming and enchanting


Acuatico Beach Resort is easily recognizable among travel buffs. The image of its unique infinity pool, with the Acua Bar right in its center, is already identifiable with the resort. But of course that is just the visual, for there is more to the Acuatico experience than meets the eye. For years we have returned to this well-loved beach resort in Laiya, San Juan, Batangas. In its sixth year of operations, Acuatico has managed to make things exciting every single time. It could be its atmosphere, a laidback vibe that lets the guest enjoy time, and themselves, a lot more leisurely. That alone has allowed us to fully get into the Acuatico Experience. During those moments we checked in, it sure felt like being welcomed back home. The staff knows their returning guests well, and they do the same to new ones, too. Comforting thought, really. Even more comforting are the resort’s 21 rooms and villas. Sporting intriguing and even exotic names as Alta Vista, Casa de Playa, Estancia, Casita, Infiniti, Infiniti Poolside, Terraza, and Vista de Laiya, the rooms are the definition of comfort and elegance. There are queen/twin beds, LCD television, free Internet access, hot and cold showers, and telephones, among others. The rooms are Balinese-inspired—the kind that transports guests to rich tropical environs. Acuatico’s general manager Simonette Gusi says that guests will be pleased with the improvements they have made. “The rooms are more spacious, as do the bathrooms. They are newly tiled, so they are more pleasing to the eye,” she says. Eye candy is also in store beyond the rooms. Gusi adds that their famous pool now boasts of imported granite tiles. She remarks, “These improvements are meant to make the pool more attractive, last longer, and safer for guests. We even upgraded the treatment system for our pool water.”

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1 You cannot help but think of holding a cold drink or a favorite book as you relax and ease your mind of all your troubles and stresses here 2 The Acua Bar right in the middle of the infinity pool serves an endless array of drinks, alcoholic or not, and an extensive menu of delicious treats 3 The Game Room is surely a welcome treat for kids 4 A quiet area to ponder for some "me" time 5 One of the many spacious rooms and villas of Acuatico Beach Resort with its impressive amenities

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The resort has also installed elevators for its elderly guests and people with disabilities (PWDs). Gusi states, “We noticed that parents of our guests are having difficulty getting up to Oceano, our flagship restaurant. Of course, this is also in fulfilment of the Department of Tourism’s requirement to provide access to the elderly and PWDs. Thus, we have PWD-friendly restrooms, bigger doors, and access for wheelchairs. We always keep in mind the comfort of our guests. They come here to relax and have fun, and that is what we are giving them.” Consider us satisfied guests, too, of Oceano. Through the years, this restaurant has offered superb local and international dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We have already our favorites, notable among them Oceano’s version of the popular Batangas lomi and the hot-and-filling bulalo. This time around, the outlet is upping the ante with welcome treats. “We now offer themed buffets,” says executive chef Richard Dancel. “Whether it is Asian or European, expect not only the dishes to stay true to the theme. The accompanying décor and outfits of our staff will stick to our theme.” Dancel reveals that their promotions will be even more exciting. “Watch out for our extravaganzas,” he declares. “Our seafood extravaganza is guaranteed to become a big hit, with its extensive varieties of seafood.”

Acuatico has managed to make things exciting every single time. It could be its atmosphere, a laidback vibe that lets the guest enjoy time, and themselves, a lot more leisurely. He shares that Filipino dishes will always be part of the menu. “We have balikbayan guests that come here looking something familiar. Asian fusion is also a proven hit at Oceano. For example, our take on the Surf N Turf involves chili garlic sauce, not red wine sauce. Our version is now among our signature dishes.” “We likewise bake our own breads and cakes here, and use induction-type cookers, instead of the usual chafing dishes,” he adds. Those looking for something headier have the Acua Bar to turn to. It is right smack in the middle of the infinity pool and carries an extensive selection of treats, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Speaking of treats, it is imperative to indulge in massages and body treatments at Simona Spa. Guests also have the option to splash around using the kayak and pedal boats, as well as the outdoor Jacuzzi. Even kids have it going on with their own pool and game room within the premises. These unforgettable experiences are not just EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


reserved for guests, Gusi says. Pressed further, she replied that even the residents ofLaiya are in for an experience—and opportunity—of a lifetime with their K to 12 Program. “Basically we are helping students of the Laiya National High School, training them to become future employees of Laiya. They will be taught specialized skills and concepts related to the industry they are about to enter. When they finish schooling,

they will find employment here,” she explains. It is all good from here. Right after our conversation, we resumed our resort experience. We realized the sun was already setting, and we gagged in anticipation for it. The sunset is spectacular in this side of the world. Well, truth be told, life here in Acuatico, in this part of the world, is just as amazing. Our return trips to the resort are our just rewards.

6 Indulge in relaxing massage and other body treatments at the Simona Spa 7 Acuatico Beach Resort's amiable General Manager Simonette Gusi 8 A function room for important meetings with complete facilities 9 Executive Chef Richard Dancel is responsible for the mouth-watering food offered by Acuatico Beach Resort 10 Acuatico's Oceano Restaurant that serves appetizing meals and other delicious gastronomic treats


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travellite We dream of Dumaguete... ...and the Sta. Monica Beach Club is at its heart WORDS BY Lester Gopela Hallig


umaguete proved to be the dream we did not want to wake up from. While we enjoy big cities, we also adore the small ones, the places where there is a sense of intimacy with the locals and their culture. Dumaguete, more or less, gave us that kind of vibe. It felt like it reached out to visitors, took them by the hand, and made them feel at home. We even entertained the idea that Dumaguete is an extra-large living room with the warmest hosts. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


That feeling translated itself well when we arrived at our home in Dumaguete: Sta. Monica Beach Club. We have been hearing great things about this iconic boutique hotel and beach resort. We have been told about its fantastic view of the sea and the sky, the neatly arranged gardens, and the cozy accommodations. It did not take us long to finally experience all these and more.

Rest and relax

Now, after all is said and done, Sta. Monica might as well be the mini-Dumaguete: friendly and helpful people all around, relaxing and laidback environment, and glorious food. On hand to make us feel at home were its Marketing Director Katalene Agmata and Resort Manager Mark Guerrero. Both ensured we made the most of our time in Dumaguete. Sta. Monica, already known hereabouts as a famous event venue before being handled by One-Of Collection, boasts of 18 deluxe rooms and lofts. The rooms are classified into deluxe rooms, family lofts, and beach houses.

Certain to catch your eye are the splendid swimming pool and cozy bar, wellmaintained lush gardens, clean open spaces that are perfect for conversations and recreation, and the 100-seater Glass House function room. Each room comes with air conditioners, LED television with cable channels, internet connectivity, in-room safe, and tea and coffee-making facilities. We loved our room because it is so comfortable and private. It is near enough the resort’s other facilities and allows guests the personal space they need to fully enjoy their stay. Those “other facilities” are musts in Sta. Monica. We are talking about their splendid swimming pool


and cozy bar, well-maintained lush gardens, clean open spaces that are perfect for conversations and recreation, the 100-seater Glass House function room, and more.

Mouth-watering cuisine

How could we exclude the memorable Filipino and international dishes at the in-house restaurant Lanai, the 180-seater restaurant overseen by Chef Syl Malenab. Among the unforgettable dishes are the dark and lovely pork humba, the chicken halanghalang, the crunchy lechon belly, the stir-fried crabs in sweet and savoury chilli tomato sauce, the clam soup in lemon grass and ginger, and the creative crispy pork sinigang. Trained at the famous Amorita Resort (incidentally a One-Of Collection property), the staff turned on the southern hospitality and the personalized service. As soon as we checked in, we felt more like family than the traditional guests. Indeed, the sincerity came across, and we felt attached to the kind staff who always made sure we were enjoying ourselves. Of course we had to explore the surrounding places which offered history and culture (Silliman University, CataAl World War 2 Museum), adventure (Apo Island and the awesome snorkeling activity, Pulang Lupa Falls), and food (Sans Rival, Malatapay market’s lechon, baywalk streetfood). It was great we had Dumaguete Outdoor’s fabulous Angelo Villanueva to show us around and give us the lowdown on Negros’ wonders. After all these trips and eats, we headed back to our home, Sta. Monica. For the duration of our stay in the city, we always returned to the resort happy—happy to unwind at the resort and happy to get to know Dumaguete even a bit more. It is these things that matter at the end of the day. It is also further proof that dreams like these—Sta. Monica and Dumaguete itself—come true and make that holiday happen.

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1 This cozy accommodation speaks well of what Sta. Monica Beach Club offers 2 First-class rooms are a haven for relaxation 3 Be greeted by this captivating table setup at Sta. Monica each day that will surely melt your heart 4 Drinks, anyone? This swimming pool makes it truly hard to resist grabbing a glass and take a seat and while away the time 5 Nothing beats the feeling of going out of your room and immediately smell the sweet, fresh, seaside air 6 Sta. Monica's Lanai Restaurant offers the freshest and most mouth-watering dishes you could ever think of 7 This to-die-for villa at Sta. Monica will surely make you rethink your options, whether to stay, or leave and then come back for a longer stay, the choice is yours

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You can have a pick of where to take a swim: in the pool within the resort or in the beach beside it

A new health and wellness destination emerges in the Philippines The eco-chic Momo Beach House in Panglao Island, Bohol is a peaceful, inspiring destination for having a healthy and active lifestyle House as a peaceful, inspiring destination where guests can share our passion for having a healthy lifestyle,” says Ria Hernandez-Cauton, President of One-Of Collection, the boutique hotel group that manages Momo Beach House. “Here, we foster a nature-driven culture so that guests can get away, exhale all the big city toxins, relax, and soothe their mind, body, and soul.”

An eco-chic boutique resort in Panglao Island, Bohol is quickly emerging as one of the Philippines’ top health and wellness destinations, offering world-weary guests an escape from the urban fray, and multiple opportunities to rejuvenate in a beachside setting. Committed to meeting the demands of today’s increasingly


health-conscious and wellnessoriented leisure traveler, Momo Beach House distinguishes itself with a wide range of features and services that make for truly holistic holidays: nature-inspired architecture, homestyle al fresco dining, environment-friendly amenities, and a homey, meditation-conducive vibe. “We developed Momo Beach

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An eco-chic boutique resort and emerging health and wellness destination Only 20 kilometers from famous Alona Beach and a 45-minute drive from Bohol’s Tagbilaran Airport, Momo Beach House offers relaxation at its core and delivers on its promise of an authentic getaway. Its location, Panglao Island, is one of the country’s top travel destinations and serves as a perfect base for exploring Bohol’s world-class div-

ing sites, beautiful nature spots, and great outdoor adventures. Many have already commented upon the harmony, design, and ambiance of the 15-room beach resort, which has vibrant pastel rooms with stunning seaside and sunset views, plus a distinct architectural design theme incorporating white-washed furniture pieces, locally sourced organic bath products, wooden poolside lounge chairs, a repurposed wine rack made from an old fishing boat, and a beachfront bamboo bar. The shimmering blue pool looks out onto Panglao Island’s tranquil Momo Beach, while a nap-friendly hammock hangs poolside between thick, tall palm trees. “Sustainability is an integral part of One-Of Collection’s business strategy,” says Cauton. “The location of Momo Beach House is already blessed with a fantastic combination of sun, sea, and sky, and that’s why


Chill out in this eco-friendly lounge or the pastel-colored bedroom (below)

we designed it in ways that integrated key features of these beautiful natural surroundings.” Opportunities to rejuvenate in a beachside setting There is also much more to Momo Beach House than scenes of tropical idyll. Its Beach Tree Café is an all-day dining venue with a homestyle-inspired menu designed around locally sourced organic ingredients, and an approach to food that emphasizes health, freshness, clarity of ingredients, and local availability. Banking on the widely held notion that a healthy lifestyle is also necessarily an active one, the boutique resort also serves as a favorite site for regular private yoga retreats and wellness activities, with an on-call instructor and certified Sivananda teacher available to lead practice sessions for beginner and advanced yogis and yoginis. Momo Beach House also provides kayaks and a standup paddleboard for guests who wish to burn the calories and chart the waters; there’s even a dedicated

space (plus free-to-use equipment) for croquet lovers. The latest addition to the beach resort’s leisure offering is the new Sea Tree Spa, a wellness facility where guests can discover the healing wonders of traditional Filipino spa treatments and massage therapies. The Sea Tree Spa combines Filipino-Hispanic healing traditions with the skill and gentle touch of expertly trained spa therapists, who utilize various local and natural ingredients — Capture serenity as you relax on the shore

like coconut milk, ylang-ylang, lemongrass, tropical fruits, and local legumes—for a wide array of treatments.

The bedroom gives you enough space to stretch, walk around, and just enjoy the quietude of the moment

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One area, two vacation choices: the beach at the Sun Xi Beach Club (top); and a garden retreat on the heights at the Sun Xi Mountain Retreat (bottom)

The pleasure of privacy Rediscover your sense of self amidst nature in Sun Xi Ventures’ uncrowded beach club and mountain retreat WORDS by Cora Llamas // Photos by Sylvain LIECHTI


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rom the Mactan International Airport in Cebu City, it took three hours for our rented vehicle to reach the Sun Xi Beach Club in Alegria, Cebu. Along the way, we passed a few towns, a couple of cities, stretches of empty roads, distant farmlands, and grassy knolls before finally arriving at our destination, where we were greeted with a warm smile by Tash Ford, the club’s manager. The fresh wind and the smell of the salty sea that sprung from the coastline equally perked up our spirits. The quietness of the place, the soft music from the mini-bar, the sizzling aroma of Filipino food, the rare sight of books and non-tech board games placed on the cabinets—all of them immediately made us feel at home. While some resorts are designed to encourage you to show your stylish side or bask in luxury, the Sun Xi Beach Club invites you to let your hair down, wade in the water, and spend the night in a small hut under the stars. It is a place where you can just breathe for once, shrug off the pressures of the big city, and just be yourself.

Tash and her older brother grew up in Singapore still very much in touch with their English roots, where they “invited over friends for tea and have conversation.” “We grew up riding bikes in the backyards, playing games and interacting,” shares Tash. “I could sit in a cardboard box in my backyard, pretending I was in a car. Whereas now you see 10-year-old kids playing games on their phones. If ever I have kids of my own, I’d want them to play as well and go on their own adventure. “But these days, even on holidays, it’s rare to pick a board game and converse with your family. People need a vacation where they are not connected to the world, and do a little soul-searching.”

Raw attraction

The Beach Club also invites you to enjoy first hand Alegria’s still unseen pockets of natural wonders. The region is distant from the main city, but therein lies its beauty. Within a few minutes of the Beach Club is a landscape pocketed with waterfalls, streams, and caverns waiting to be discovered. Each one of them is still unspoilt, their attraction lying in the rawness that brings out one’s inner child. Scrape your knee while navigating from one small cavern to another. Take a dip in streams with the common folk who attest that the waters have helped heal their illnesses and given them new strength. Walk for 20 minutes through the ups and downs of a jagged path that gives you a view of crystal-clear brooks and small fields with fruits waiting to be plucked. And as some middle-aged expatriates discovered to their amusement, relive your childhood by sliding down a 20-foot waterfall. The one adventure we missed in this trip was watching a dolphin swim with the tides. But there will be a next time, as it would be a pleasure to return. The Beach Club with its natural simplicity and its design’s innate respect for nature makes you want to come back. Or maybe it’s just the utter absence of crowds in the place. The Beach Club’s eight cottages are almost always full. Still, unlike most tourist hotspots where there is little elbow room, here the guests can find a small table or a cot where they can unwind by themselves or with their own group.

Non-tech allure

Swimming has its own sanctuary as the lonely expanse of beach makes it feel like you own the place. If you want to explore more, a guide can take you on a kayak ride. It’s like an unspoken rule—each guest recognizes the other’s need for privacy and space. Maybe it stems from the beach club’s British origin. Tash’s parents—father Nigel and stepmother Lani, a Filipina—recreated the Club from the old, almost rundown cottages that used to litter an area with overgrown grass.

No litter,no crowds—just you and your loved ones with Mother Nature

And perhaps being close to the earth in more ways than one can trigger that journey. The Fords are environmentallyconscious and made sure that the design of the Beach Club blended well with the wonders of nature instead of overshadowing and competing against them. The respect is seen even in the small habits that Tash and her staff do: do not tolerate littering; pick up the garbage from the grass and the sea when you do see them. This attitude also finds expression in the Fords’ other property, the Sun Xi Mountain Retreat, just a 30-minute ride away from the Beach Club. The Retreat has been getting attention as the lone mountain resort in a region that is known mainly for its beaches. It was actually built in 2005, eight years before the Beach Club. Both properties come under the wing of Sun Xi Ventures.

Mountain hideaway

If the Beach Club offers privacy in a sunny environment, the Retreat sets it amidst a grand spectacle of undisturbed mountainous peaks that overlook miles of land. It has also gained fame for its 120-step staircase carved from the ground, leading from the garage into the Retreat, which consists of a 4-storey house, eight cottages, a massage center, and a spa. The gardens exquisitely surrounding the buildings that are built from natural wood again underline the harmony with Mother Nature. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


(This page, clockwise) Feel the wind and smell the sea right outside your private cottage; The Sun Xi Mountain Retreat's main guest house has a homegrown feel; The Retreat's cottages are made of wood and surrounded by gardens; Sun Xi Ventures General Manager Tash Ford; the small resto in the Beach Club invites 'tea time' and conversations. (Opposite page) The hidden wonders of Alegria, Cebu, all within a few minutes of the Sun Xi Beach Club: (clockwise) play time beside a mini-waterfall; brooks that lead into caves; a soothing evening at the shore

“We didn’t want to ruin the scenery,” Tash says. “We kept the slope of the land. We like to keep it green. The Retreat is a getaway in the mountain and not just on the mountain.” One distinction that makes a Retreat staycation distinct is the lack of intrusion of technology. The heights make cell phone signals weak. Like the Beach Club, the absence of cable-powered TV is noticeable. And while wi-fi is available, laying off the internet for a while can turn out to be relaxing. Perhaps time away from the digital world can lure the guests into discovering the lush one in Alegria. “We do get solo travelers who are looking for something different,” she continues. “Once we had a guest who


was doing a bike tour down south. He planned to pay per night but spent two weeks in the Retreat. He just read his book and walked off into the jungle.” Tash says that both the Retreat and the Beach Club plan to attract more such backpackers in the future. Other potential guests are couples with families who may not want to backpack but shun away from the big hotels, looking for something inbetween and, yes, something different. “We would like to have more guests, of course, but without disrupting the intimacy,” says Tash. “We want to keep that club membership vibe.” That uninterrupted time of solitude within one's space is fast becoming a luxury in the big cities. It is a premium that is preserved in the properties of Sun Xi Ventures.

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The rawness of the natural wonders around the Beach Club brings out one’s inner child. Crawl through a series of small caverns. Bathe in brooks said to have natural healing properties. Slide down a 20-foot waterfall.

GETTING THERE The Sun Xi Beach Club is located in San Jose, Madridejos, Alegria, Cebu. Contact info: (032) 511-7726. Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/

SunXiBeachClub. The Beach Club offers rented cars that can bring guests to and from the airport, and from the Beach Club to the Retreat and other places in Alegria.

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Discovering Batangas’ little secret Words and photos by Joy Mirasol

A quaint wooden gate is what separates you from where you are standing and the beach that beckons. What will you do?


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Want to know a little secret hideaway in Batangas where you can simply relax and have some quiet fun (if there’s such a thing)? That’s approximately three hours away from Manila, almost at the southern tip of Batangas province, and it’s called Punta Verde Dive. The property sits on the valley of the old Lobo Mountain right in Verde Island Passage, a strait that separates Mindoro from Batangas. Spanning three hectares, Punta Verde Dive offers the best of both worlds—the calming vibe of the mountains and the serenity of the sea. Lobo is a 4th class municipality in Batangas, and according to local folk, is touted as the “Atis (sugar apple) Capital” of the Philippines. It’s a gem of underdeveloped land by the sea slowly being discovered by tourists—beach bums and hikers alike. My friends and I were fortunate to have been exposed to Lobo for more than a decade now and have seen Punta Verde Dive gradually transform from what was primarily a family-owned private beach house and farm into a mountainside beach resort.

The beach

There’s no mistake that the waters fronting Punta Verde Dive is ideal for divers and underwater photographers who are keen to see the reefs of Verde Island Passage, known as the “Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity.” But we didn’t have to dive deep to appreciate Lobo beaches’ healthy marine life since just a few meters from the shore is a robust marine culture. Just bring your own snorkeling gear, and aqua socks are recommended as the shore is more rocky than sandy. The resort also has a kayak which guests can borrow, a great alternative for exploring the sea while getting that upper body workout. The part of the property right in front of the beach features the Diver’s Hut which can accommodate four people; the beach deck with a stairway entrance that leads to the shore where guests can relax on wooden beach beds and relish the view of the ocean; and a pavilion good for up to 40 people for dining and socials with three day beds that are great for afternoon naps.

And here’s another little secret: somewhere in the property is a small museum which features the owner’s collection of hundreds of antique bayonets and old photos, authentic vintage postcards, news clippings and other mementos from around the world, including a pair of 3D glasses from 1833! EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


The Malabrigo Lighthouse is truly an imposing—and impressive—sight

The 250-square-meter Infinity Pool is where you can enjoy a spectacular view of Verde Island and an unobstructed view of the ocean's greatness and majestic hue

A HISTORICAL SIDE TRIP On the way to Punta Verde Dive or even going back to Manila, you might want to drop by the Malabrigo Lighthouse, another historical gem from the Spanish colonial period. The centuriesold lighthouse built in the 1890s sits on top of a cliff and is one of the more well-maintained Spanish-era lighthouses in the Philippines.

Marvel at this short hanging bridge that leads to the Lodge, which can accommodate big groups

The infinity pool

A long flight of winding rock steps (another workout) leads to our favorite part of the resort— a 250-square meter infinity pool that overlooks the sea and provides a spectacular view of Verde Island. A row of wooden sunbeds line both sides of the pool, giving guests an unobstructed view of the sea while breathing in the fresh mountain air. By the pool is another pavilion good for up to 50 people. At night, the place is perfect for movie marathons with its projector-screen set up while enjoying snacks or cocktails. Night swimming is also an option. And here’s another little secret: somewhere in the property is a small museum which features the owner’s collection of hundreds of antique bayonets and old photos, authentic vintage postcards, news clippings and other mementos from around the world, including a pair of 3D glasses from 1833!

Private moments

Apart from the Diver’s Hut, Punta Verde Dive also has a Lover’s Hut nestled in lush greenery, with a balcony offering lovers their own private view of the sea. A few rock steps up lead to the Duplex, two identical rooms that can accommodate four people each. Like the Lover’s Hut, the rooms also have their own balconies that give that awesome seaside view. From the Duplex, you can reach the Lodge via a short hanging bridge. The Lodge is a Spanish-inspired


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complex with four rooms, three of which can accommodate two people, while the fourth one has bunk beds good for up to eight people, also with its own balcony and common living area. All rooms have their own toilets and baths and air-conditioning. At present, the entire property can comfortably fit 32 people, with new accommodations to be added within the year.

Dining and digital detox

Unlike full-service resorts with restaurants and bars, Punta Verde Dive is still a work in progress. Guests can bring their own food or ask the staff to go to market and prepare food based on guests’ preference. In our case, we usually plan the menu and do our groceries right before the trip and have the staff cook the meals for us. We also bring our own chips and drinks. The town proper is about 20-30 minutes away, so better bring everything you think you need before heading to the property. Lastly, be prepared to go on digital detox. Telco signals are still weak in these parts, there’s no Wi-Fi and no TVs in the rooms. We can say that Punta Verde Dive inadvertently imposes an unplugged vacation— something we don’t think we need but actually do. For more information, visit www.puntaverdedive. ph or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ PuntaVerdeDive


Maniwaya Island


WORDS by Dolly Dy-Zulueta // Photos by Rafael R. Zulueta

So what do we know about Marinduque aside from being the home of the grand and colorful religious-cumlifestyle event called the Moriones Festival? Well, the province has a new and rising attraction, an island paradise with stretches upon stretches of virginal, white-sand beaches in the town of Sta. Cruz called Maniwaya Island.

Simplicity and beauty

Touted as Marinduque’s best-kept secret, Maniwaya Island is actually one of three big islands found within the waters of Sta. Cruz, the other two being Polo and Mongpong. Polo is the closest to the main island of Marinduque, with a large extent surrounded by mangroves. Next comes Maniwaya, and the farthest is Mongpong, which is smaller

and more mountainous but has some good stretches of whitesand beaches as well. Maniwaya looks like Boracay when it was still relatively untouched, an island paradise beautiful in its simplicity. For the longest time, there were no resorts; those who first “discovered” it usually rented a boat to get to the island, stay there the whole day and head back to the main island before

White-sand beaches still remain pristine, and the corals remain untouched despite the growing number of visitors Beautiful, untouched stretches of white sand await you at Maniwaya Island, Marinduque's best-kept secret—but not anymore

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Beachfront of Residencia de Palo Maria, one of the island's more recently developed resorts

sunset. The few families who lived on the island welcomed them and even shared their homes with the visitors. But in recent years, as more and more people discovered Maniwaya, small resorts were put up on the island, including Residencia de Palo Maria whose owners, Clarence and Esther Pernia, invested a lot on the hotel and resort. The rooms in Residencia de Palo Maria are of native bungalow types surrounding a pool with fountain spurts, and the resort faces the clear bluegreen waters of the white-sand beach. The owners have invested in finding potable water on the island and setting in place a powerful generator capable of providing 24-hour electricity for


HOW TO GET THERE Getting to the Southern Tagalog province of Marinduque is through Dalahican Port in Lucena City. Take a ro-ro (rollon, roll-off sea vessel that carries individual passengers and vehicles as well) to Balanacan Port in Mogpog, Marinduque. The trip takes four hours. From Balanacan Port, UV Express door-to-door vans take passengers to the town of their destination, including Sta. Cruz. It’s a one-hour ride from Mogpog to Sta. Cruz. A trip to Maniwaya Island can be made via a boat ride from Sta. Cruz’s Buyabod Port.

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Thrilling banana boat rides will surely elicit wild shrieks and shrills

Frolick in Residencia de Palo Maria's clear and refreshing pool with fountain spurts for out-of-this-world fun

"Punaw," a tasty kind of clam, best served and enjoyed in hot and flavorful soup

"Manakla" or Crayfish that's native to Marinduque

the entire resort. Knowing what guests would look for in a beach resort, they not only made it possible for them to stay overnight on the island, but provided all the facilities where guests can have great fun, including jetskis and banana boats. There are also snorkeling, scuba diving and wakeboarding amenities that more adventurous guests can use. Kayaks, speedboats and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are also available on the island. Some long-staying guests like to explore the island on foot at a leisurely pace or on board ATVs to cover more ground in lesser time.

Striking sandbars

Boasting of a 264-hectare

Marvel at this imposing tree house, found in a privately-owned part of Maniwaya

land area and a population of a little below 2,000, Maniwaya Island is accessible by boat via Buyabod Port in Sta. Cruz. There, visitors can either take the regular boat trip or rent their own motorized boat to the island, for a travel time from 30-45 minutes. The waters surrounding the island are so breathtakingly clear that you can actually see the rocks and sand at the bottom when you lean over the boat. Residencia de Palo Maria is in the Palo Maria area, perhaps the most commercialized portion of Maniwaya Island. Here, guests will find the best stretches of white-sand beach. Other beach areas are privately owned, although some of them

can be rented by private groups. Then there is the Southern side of the island, which is bordered by rock formations. Since Marinduque is an island province surrounded by rich waters, it is not surprising that Maniwaya Island is bountiful in fresh seafood such as lobsters, prawns and crabs. Resortgoers can just have food cooked for them for a fee, although they can also bring their own food when they visit the island. Most who visit Maniwaya Island first stop by Palad sandbar, which can be found a kilometer from the resort island. It is a one-hectare sandbar of fine white sand at the northeastern end of the island. During low tide, it appears like a small

piece of powdery white-sand beach right in the middle of the sea, and changes its shape depending on the season and the flow of the current and wind. During high tide, the Palad Sandbar disappears from view. Usually, low tide occurs very early in the morning, so visitors bound for Maniwaya set out early and stop by the sandbar to take pictures before proceeding to the resort island. Maniwaya Island is bordered by long stretches of fine white-sand beach, with lush green forests as a fitting background, plus a combination of cool breeze, beautiful turquoise waters and clear blue skies. It’s a totally serene environment that can make anyone wax poetic.

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DRESS FOR LESS Divisoria, Manila’s bargain hub, becomes a fashion destination WORDS BY ANSON YU PHOTOS BY PAOLO PANGAN & ANSON YU

For many Filipino couples thinking of getting married, a trip to Divisoria, Manila’s main wholesale market, is a must! Here, they can save money for nearly everything they need, such as invites, souvenirs, party decors and yes. even wedding attire. In fact, you could supposedly dress an entire wedding entourage in Divisoria for as little as P10,000!



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travellite Dark pasilyo notwithstanding, there's no stopping this Arlene Atanacio piece from glowing in all its full glory

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Beauty enhanced even more to make it truly striking with this bridal wear creation by Pilar Go


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This Cherry Beruela bridal wear is what we call a true crowd standout!

ut how did Divisoria gain such a reputation? No one knows for sure, but it seems to have started inside Yangco Market, the center of Divisoria’s textile trade. One of the oldest shops is the Maria Carla Store. Current owner Rowena Ong and her aunt Luisa Uy started the store in the 1960s by selling native formal wear such as barong tagalog and ready-to-wear bridal gowns. She recalls they would sell between 5-10 gowns a month.

Here come the brides Today at Maria Carla you can get a bridal gown for as low as P2,000, complete with veil, cord and wedding ring cushion, or their top-of-the-line by as much as P10,000. Rowena admits they are just retailers as they source their gowns from trusted suppliers in Pandi, Bulacan. But if someone needs a made-to- order gown, they can handle that as well. The price for the made-to-order starts at around P15,000. Once the client pays the deposit, she needs to come back after a month for fitting, usually for the gown underlining, then a second fitting until the desired look is achieved. If major adjustments are to be made, there might be a third and final fitting. Hopefully, by this time, the client would be satisfied enough to pay the balance. A former shop owner at Yangco Market remembers that before the 1980s, the demand for ready-to-wear wedding gowns was low. Most women then still preferred made-to-order wedding gowns. But as the country’s economy went down, people began accepting the idea of the affordability and convenience of ready-to-wear bridal gowns. In the succeeding years, quality and design improved vastly, but prices still had to be kept low. One innovation Yangco Market shops introduced was to produce bridal gowns in just one size but with a lacing system at the back, similar to that of corsets which can be adjusted to fit smaller or bigger brides. During the 1990s and early 2000, malls like Tutuban and 168 Mall opened. As shoppers began flocking to them, some of the bridal shop owners from Tabora and Ylaya Street moved their business there. Tutuban was probably the first to see the potentials of these shops, so they designated an entire floor for wedding apparel and other accessories, calling it “Here Comes the Bride.” Most of the shops then also expanded into making formal gowns, cocktail dresses, and even into men’s tailoring. In 2012 the building housing that section caught fire and most of the bridal shops moved elsewhere. Those who stayed, including Pilar Go, moved to another building. Pilar thus became one of the original tenants of Tutuban Prime Block. After helping run her family-owned native wear shop in Ylaya Street, Pilar now manages a shop called GGS General Merchandise Store. Her bridal wear

starts at P3,500 with accessories, while made-to-order gowns start at P10,000. While she has an in-house sewing staff, she outsources to her suppliers in Lumban, Laguna the more elaborate pieces.

Ready-to-order Pilar's relative Arlene Yulo Atanacio also set up a wedding apparel shop inside Tutuban. She graduated in 1989 at Slim’s Fashion and Design School, one of the country’s most prestigious design schools, and was even mentored by founder Salvacion Lim Higgins herself. She could have launched her career in Makati or Ortigas, but chose to do it in Divisoria since she grew up there. She also believed that Divisoria had what it takes to make it as one of Manila’s main fashion destinations. While she does offer ready-made wedding gowns, Arlene is prouder of her made-to-order line. At P10,000, it may be more expensive than her RTWs, but these are originals which she not only designed, the creation of which she personally supervised. Depending on the design complexity and the time of year, she can have it ready within a month. Arlene believes giving her clients her full attention is important. In fact, her advice for those looking for a made-to-order gown is that they shoud deal directly with the shop owner and not just the shop girls or assistants so they can get value for their investment. Another designer who started his career in Divisoria is Ben Verdeblanco. He was part of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines in the early 1980s, but after working abroad and experiencing a stroke that paralyzed half his body, he decided to downsize and focus his work in Tutuban. After the 2012 fire, he relocated to the 11/88 mall. Unlike others, Verdeblanco is focused solely on made-to-order gowns. Despite his disability, he still manages to personally do the cutting for most of the outfits he designs, and boasts that he can do it with such an accuracy that some clients from overseas would just send him their measurement, and he would produce a perfectly fitting outfit. The price of his bridal wear ranges between P10,000 and P30,000, and takes at least two months to Advice from the masters: Before visiting complete. He claims that by the first fitting (usually after Divisoria, check out 30 days), the gown would wedding blogs and already be 95% complete. forums to see if your Should there be adjustments, designer of choice can he says the client can pick it up a week after the fitting. deliver what you want. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


Style and savings Since the fire at Tutuban, the 168 Mall seems to have replaced it as the center of Divisoria’s wedding apparel trade, with three floors dedicated to wedding apparel shops. A shop owner, Cherry Beruela, said she learned how to design and sew bridal gowns by working for another designer. In 2007, she decided to start her own business at Tutuban, then moved to the basement of 168 Mall where she now runs a store called Jannah and Keith. While she has a small collection of off-the-rack gowns, she does mostly made-to-order ones, the prices of which start at P10,000. But she claims to give her full attention to clients, and if necessary, they can even accompany her as she shops for the needed materials. She also boasts of the quality of her work, claiming that many of her clients are usually satisfied at the first fitting. Currently, one of the more successful bridal wear suppliers is Aira Cabanding, with three shops inside 168 Mall. She only started five years ago, learning her craft from her mother-in-law Susie Bonaobra. Bonaobra herself is a successful bridal wear supplier, having been in the business for 25 years managing 3 of her own stores as well. Aira offers her own RTW collection, complete with accessories for only P18,000, while made-to-order gowns can start at P20,000. She does admit that they could be quite expensive, but are still considered bargains compared to haute couture designers who could charge as much as P100,000. Because the bridal wear scene in Divisoria is getting to be very competitive, Aira’s advice for those planning to get into the trade is that they should do their homework. They can check online wedding forums and blogs to see whether a potential bridal wear supplier can be trusted or not. Indeed, Divisoria’s wedding apparel trade has come a long way. Maybe the next logical steps would be for tenants to organize themselves and pool their resources so they can market their creations under a single brand identity, and help distinguish Divisoria as the country’s premier wedding and fashion design hub.

ARLENE YULO ATANACIO Randylene’s Barong Center Stall #NS-40C and NS-37C, 2F, Prime Block Tutuban Center CM Recto, Manila 0917-562-3727 Monday to Saturday (closed on Sunday)


Maria Carla Store 28 Pasilio Z cor. Pasilio C Yangco Market, Taboras St., Tondo, Manila (02) 241-9043

CHERRY BERUELA Jannah and Keith Basement, Stall LGE-05, Phase 5 (Soler St. Wing) 168 Shopping Mall Soler St. Binondo, Manila 0917-747-0647

AIRA CABANDING Bella Sposa 6th Level Stall 627 Phase 5, (Soler St. Wing) 168 Shopping Mall Soler Street, Binondo, Manila (02) 400-9900 0917-327-5404

PILAR GO GGS General Merchandise Store Stall NS-19 2F, Prime Block Tutuban Center CM Recto, Manila (02) 801-1629

BEN VERDEBLANCO 2F, Stalls 2J-3 11/88 Shopping Mall Reina Regente, Binondo, Manila 0927-467-2260 (02) 004-7046

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Surrounded by heaps of textile, this Aira Cabanding stands proud in all its shimmering delight

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EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


travellite The great outdoor experience

With its friendly horses and animal feeding facilities, the family-friendly Sta. Elena Fun Farm lives up to its name


Words and photos by April R. Ty

A loud and piercing screech—that's what broke the serene ambience of my lola's yard one summer afternoon. I was about seven that time, happily playing on the low-hanging branches of a lopsided mango tree. My sister strolled up to me with a wide Cheshire Cat grin and casually tapped my back. What I thought was an innocent gesture was actually her sneaky way of putting a giant beetle on my shirt. When I felt the prickly legs on my back, all hell broke loose. Fast forward to today, I can't help but chuckle at that memory. I had a great childhood filled with endless adventures outdoors. I want my kids to experience the same, to have the freedom to run around and explore nature freely. As a city dweller, though, I find it a bit challenging looking for safe outdoor play venues. So when I found out about Sta. Elena's Fun Farm, I didn’t waste time and immediately booked a visit. About an hour's drive from Manila, the Fun Farm is a great venue for kids and kids-at-heart to temporarily disconnect from the stresses of city living. Located inside the Sta. Elena Golf and Country Estate in Laguna, the Fun Farm offers activities and attractions that will captivate guests for hours.

Pony ride

My family and I were blessed with a beautiful sunny day during our Fun Farm visit. Walking past the entrance arch, we were greeted by the sight of huge wooden play huts connected to a mini zipline installation. Our six-year-old son, Cole, was excited to try the zipline but got distracted by the sound of horses whinnying so he decided to run further inside to investigate. Since the purpose of this trip was to let our kids explore, we allowed Cole to


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Author and her child are all smiles riding Chocnut the carabao, one of the many wonderful attractions at The Fun Farm

Lovely and cute guinea pigs any kid—or kid-at-heart—will really enjoy Cows go for a refreshing drink to quench their thirst

The mini zipline at The Fun Farm—low, secure and really safe for kids to enjoy

run around by himself, as we were assured that the place was safe, kid-friendly, and the staff exceptionally kind and accommodating. After we deposited our stuff in the pavilion, my husband Andrew, my daughter Ali, and I went looking for Cole. We found him in the horseback riding area, gazing in awe at the miniature horses corralled in a pen and at the three magnificent steeds standing proudly. We learned that these three were jumper horses from Australia. No wonder they were so tall! Andrew rode with Cole while I stayed behind with 14-month-old Ali. Perhaps sensing my longing for a ride around the farm, a staff member brought around a wagon pulled by an adorable carabao

named Chocnut, so Ali and I could ride behind the horse-riding duo. After what seemed like endless laps around the riding path, we visited the animal feeding house to see the cute little guinea pigs and fat bunnies hobbling forward for carrot treats. The Fun Farm is pretty generous with the feeds, handing guests a basket of sliced carrots for the hungry rabbits. Tissue and alcohol are readily available, so guests could sanitize their hands after the feeding session. There is also a hand and feet wash area, equipped with a repurposed kawali as sink.

Boat trips

Beside the animal feeding house is a mini-lake where kids could go on a boat

Walking around, we were entertained by the sight of goats, pheasants, ducks, cows, pot-bellied pigs, and even sheep. Our fearless son loved interacting with all the animals and was talking a mile a minute about how he wanted to live at the Fun Farm. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


These pyramid-like wooden structures that connect the mini zipline provide additional enjoyment to visitors at The Fun Farm

ride or try their luck at catching fish. My son was lucky enough to snag a tiny fish, but we immediately returned it to the pond after a photo op. We were all feeling hunger pangs by this time, so we walked back to the pavilion to eat. Guests have the option of bringing their own picnic lunch or ordering food from the Sta. Elena Clubhouse. After a hearty lunch of sinigang na bangus and fried chicken, we strolled across the pavilion to the Sand House, a place that younger kids will definitely dig. Like the setting of an island fantasy adventure, the Sand House comes complete with tire swings and a rope net hanging from the ceiling, and coarse white sand. From the Sand House, we proceeded to the mini zipline area and went on several


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rides before deciding to explore the Fun Farm more. We walked past an obstacle course that incited a contest between my husband and me (I won only because my husband is a bit uncoordinated). Walking around, we were entertained by the sight of goats, pheasants, ducks, cows, pot-bellied pigs, and even sheep. Our fearless son loved interacting with all the animals and was talking a mile a minute about how he wanted to live at the Fun Farm. We were the first to arrive at the Fun Farm at around 9:15 a.m. and the last to leave at around 4 p.m., an indication of how much we fell in love with the place. My husband and I were thrilled that even for just a day we were able to give our kids a taste of what it’s like to enjoy the outdoors. We cannot wait for our next visit!

Sta. Elena Fun Farm limits the number of visitors to prevent overcrowding, and to ensure that guests get to fully enjoy the facilities. Try to book at least two weeks in advance to secure your preferred date. The Fun Farm opens at 9 a.m. It’s best to go early in the morning to make the most out of the visit. Don’t forget to bring sunblock, hats, and shades. Also, bring a trash bag for garbage. To get there, take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and take the Cabuyao exit. After exiting the toll gate, turn right and drive until you get to the Sta. Elena Golf and Country Estate gate. There is ample parking space outside the farm grounds, so visitors with their own cars need not worry where to leave their vehicles. There is an entrance fee of P300 which covers all the activities inside.



travellite Bountiful pleasures at


This newly-opened 4-star hotel is a modern legacy of the owners to the people of Cabanatuan City WORDS By ruby asoy-lebajo // photos by rafael zulueta

(Left) One of Harvest Hotel's reasonably priced yet well appointed rooms; (Right) Sit down, relax, lounge around at the hotel lounge area near the stairway

For this first-time Harvest Hotel visitor, the place evokes a very welcoming atmosphere and genuine Filipino hospitality. Upon arrival, hotel staff will treat you like a “special guest” and not just an ordinary customer. You are thus assured of a fun and unforgettable stay because they will take care of all your needs. By car, it took us almost three hours from North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) via the Sta. Rita Exit going to Harvest Hotel located in Pio Del Pilar, Cabanatuan City. Cabanatuan is the largest city of Nueva Ecija, touted as the “Rice Granary of the Philippines.” It originated from the term Kaban ng Tuwa, which means a cavan of happiness. It is called Harvest Hotel because Cabanatueños believe that the “harvest season” is something that should be celebrated, including the opening of a new hotel. Harvest Hotel was put up as a “legacy for the people of


Cabanatuan” by Boy Ilagan, an engineer by profession, and wife Angie, both Natividad, Cabanatuan City natives, who became successful in their construction business called First Kingston Leisure and Services Corp., which supplies elevators to several major establishments. “It is their first four-star hotel in Cabanatuan City,” shares Marc Montesa, Harvest Hotel general manager. “They had been dreaming of having a very nice hotel in Cabanatuan, but nobody wanted to invest so they put up Harvest Hotel. They wanted to give jobs to the local folk so 90 percent of the staff here are native Cabanatueños.”

Longtime dream Since its opening late last year, the hotel has been receiving overwhelming response. During its pre-opening, management conducted an intense and informative market profiling research and survey to make sure they were hitting the right

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market, mostly balikbayans, corporate groups, and travelers alike. Montesa says, “We are

The hotel lobby lounge serves as a perfect venue for meetings or casual conversations among Cabanatuenos

Harvest Hotel is an 83-room hotel situated in a sevenhectare property and is considered as the first full-service hotel in the city with highquality amenities and reasonably priced rooms.

trying to make Harvest Hotel the top-of-mind destination in Cabanatuan.” In fact, we noticed that locals truly liked the place, where they’d meet up, dine or have a nightcap at the hotel’s lobby, lounge and restaurant. Online reviews noted rooms were very modern and spacious and conducive to a very quiet stay and pointed to Harvest Hotel as “…the best place to stay in Cabanatuan. It's very modern, new, clean, and the staff very courteous and accommodating.” Harvest Hotel was even ranked #1 by Agoda.com, an online booking site. The 83-room Harvest Hotel is situated in a seven-hectare property and is considered the first full-service hotel in the city with high-quality amenities and reasonably priced rooms. There are standard twin and standard queen rooms, suite, and loft suite; the latter is considered the hotel’s best room, located at the top floor and has two floors with a separate living area, dining space, and a king-sized bed and bathroom. All rooms have a 32-inch TV, a safety deposit box, top-quality mattresses and beddings, and electronic key-card entry. Some parts of the hotel were also designed and built to conserve energy and protect the environment. There is also a swimming pool where Harvest Hotel guests can have fun and relax. Other attractions are the luxurious spa and the gym where guests can exercise to their hearts’ delight and keep fit. Even the food is a must try at Harvest Hotel, where they put a twist on Filipino, international, and Asian cuisine. More popular are the Cabanatuan specialties like Spaghetti Longanisa and Burgerniza, and cheeses (variety of kesong puti, carabao mozzarella cheese) and Bocconcini Caprese (fresh buffalo mozzarella balls). Chef Lester Marc Bergado is continually expanding the menu. The weekend all-you-can-eat offering every Friday, Saturday and Sunday is a hit, too, with Mongolian on Fridays, Tempura and Teppanyaki on Saturdays, and Family Brunch on Sundays.

Leading a team of “thinking managers” Harvest Hotel GM was once told he could be an ambassador of his country WORDS By ruby asoy-lebajo photos by rafael zulueta

Marc Montesa, Harvest Hotel general manager and a culinary arts and hospitality management stalwart, always treats his new post like a fresh experience. More importantly, he provides leadership to his team, which he says is composed of “thinking managers.” “By being ‘thinking managers,’ they will have ownership of their respective departments, and life in general, since every department is intertwined,” he says. What really helped the team grow is his providing leadership and a nudge towards the right direction. “Being managers, they should come up with solutions, not problems. If they can no longer handle the situation, I can give them guidance,” he continues.

Top of the line His management style is based on the principles of their managing company, Hospitality Innovators, Inc., which promotes values such as integrity, teamwork, respect, openness, and fear of God. The company also advocates treating those who enter the hotel as always

a guest and never a customer. Montesa says, “If you treat your visitors like a customer only, there seems to be no heart (parang walang puso). But if you treat them like a guest, you entertain them and you take care of them. However, we have to be God-fearing. It is important to have that kind of faith in our hotel system.” With expertise in Food and Beverage operations with sales, Montesa studied and worked at Isle of Mann and Heathrow in the United Kingdom. He also had stints at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, and Maldives. Locally, his previous posts included time at the Makati Shangri-La, New World Hotel Makati, The Peninsula Manila (where he stayed the longest), Astoria Plaza Hotel Ortigas, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino in Lahug, Cebu, Limketkai Luxe Hotel Cagayan De Oro, to mention a few. Montesa, who is barely a year in his new post, has easily adjusted. “Cabanatueños are generous people. They always smile and are very appreciative, so a pleasant encounter is

Harvest Hotel General Manager Victor Marc Montesa

up just adjacent to the hotel restaurant. Also in the pipeline “Treat your visitors is the opening of another as guests, and not as Harvest Hotel, this time in customers. You have to Baler, Quezon, by next year. take care of them and By all indications, the affable general manager loves entertain them.” to travel, and he likes to be by always assured. Whenever they the beach. His love and passion harvest, they’ll just give you are bird watching and butterfly rice, vegetables, fruits, sweet collecting, which he learned anchovies, cashew nuts, onions.” from his stepfather. “When I was 13 years old, my brother, Travel buff who was 12 that time, and I The hotel management is started collecting butterflies,” also planning to have culinary he quips. “We were also able trips packaged with hotel acto explore places from North commodations. “I really hope to South, and by the age of 15, that we can continue the good we already toured Babuyan things that we are planting now Islands up to Sulu. The for Harvest Hotel,” Montesa Philippines is really beautiful.” says. In two years’ time, he sees During his studies abroad, new expansions for the second he was asked by one of his block. “We will have a conventeachers, “What can you say tion hall; and a garden area, about your country?” Suitwhich is going to be a good ably impressed with Montesa’s venue for weddings.” There will answer, his teacher told him, also be a souvenir shop, pastry “You can become a good amand delicatessen that will be put bassador for your country.” EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


travellite Dream dining destination in Central Luzon Cabanatuan’s first four-storey hotel raises the region’s food-tripping experience WORDS by Dolly Dy-Zulueta Photos by Rafael R. Zulueta


new, trendsetting hotel has risen right in the heart of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. In a strategic corner of Pio Del Pilar Street, the four-storey Harvest Hotel revolutionizes the hospitality industry and introduces the luxury hotel experience to the local community. It is the city’s first four-star hotel and comes complete with swimming pool, gym, high-tech elevator, WiFi connectivity in all rooms and even in the men’s and ladies’ rooms. Parking is not a problem since there’s a huge parking space that can accommodate 80 vehicles at any time of the day. Since its soft opening in December 2014, Harvest Hotel is already attracting a steadily growing clientele for social functions like wedding receptions, birthdays, christenings, debuts and anniversaries. Credit that to the hotel’s spacious function rooms on the ground floor that open up to the pool area. More than the function rooms’ location, the space they provide, the cozy and elegant ambiance, and the good service that the wait staff renders, the hotel has undeniably become a favorite place to hold special functions because it serves very good food. US Angus Ribeye

Café Ecija, the hotel’s main dining facility conveniently located right beside the lobby, is the “playground” of Chef Lester Marc Bergado and his talented kitchen team. Together, the team has come up with the winning formula in terms of drawing up an a la carte menu that perfectly works in the Cabanatuan setting. It’s a combination of international cuisine (all-time favorite dishes from different foreign cuisines), Cabanatuan specialties (local dishes and delicacies that Cabanatuan is known for), and Filipino cuisine (classic Filipino dishes).

Three choices in exquisite cuisine

Harvest Hotel’s signature Burgernisa


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The international cuisine part of the menu is quite extensive, as it is the main turf of Chef Lester, a classically trained chef in French cuisine under the famous Chef Billy King of Le Soufflé fame. Chef Lester also worked with Chef Mau Arjona,

Pako salad, kesong puti, tomatoes and longganisa

Frozen Margarita

The talented Chef Lester Marc Bergado of Harvest Hotel's Cafe Ecija

who also trained under Chef Billy and now owns a chain of restaurants that include Uncle Cheffy and Larry & Mau Diner. For the international dishes on the Café Ecija menu, he offers a variety of Pepper Steaks (tenderloin, ribeye, US Angus beef), Italian specialties (including Chicken Saltimbocca), Norwegian Salmon, Lapu-Lapu, and American platters (such as the whole slab of BBQ Baby Back Ribs). For the Cabanatuan Specialties menu, Chef Lester makes full use of the variety of longganisas that the place is known for. A signature sandwich of the hotel is Burgernisa, which is a big, medium-grilled mixed premium US ground beef and Cabanatuan longganisa patty sandwiched between halves of toasted pandesal bun with fresh lettuce leaves, tomato slices, onion rings, chili mayo, kesong puti and alfalfa sprouts, and served with a side of sweet potato chips. For the Burgernisa, Chef Lester uses Nueva Ecija’s sweet longganisa. He reserves Cabanatuan’s Batutay longganisa, which is made with carabao’s meat or beef, for breakfast, although he also grills it and mixes it into his Beef Pochero, a dish later featured in an early morning TV show recently. He has also created such innovative dishes as Longganisa Spring Rolls and Longganisa Spaghetti. Aside from longganisa, Cabanatuan is known for its cheeses made from carabao’s milk. Chef Lester sources fresh mozzarella balls or Boconccini cheese and kesong puti


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The Cafe Ecija dining area

from the Philippine Carabao Center and uses them to create delicious dishes for Harvest Hotel. Then there is a whole lot of other fresh produce available in Cabanatuan that he enjoys working around, Cabanatuan having two big markets that serve as bagsakan centers or a drop-off place for fresh produce. It is also from here that Chef Lester sources fresh premium ingredients such as pakô (fiddlehead fern), a crunchy and tasty fern that he uses to make Pakô Salad, Kesong Puti, Tomatoes and Longganisa, which is a best-seller on Café Ecija’s Filipino Cuisine menu. It’s a generous helping of fiddlehead fern, cherry tomatoes, onion, salted Batutay longganisa, fresh carabao cheese and Harvest’s homemade vinaigrette. His interpretations of the classic Filipino dishes Adobo, Pochero, Kalderetang Kambing, Crispy Pata and Kare-Kare have also turned out to be certified hits with diners, who also enjoy the cozy casual ambiance of Café Ecija. When there’s an overflow crowd at Café Ecija, diners do not mind having their meal at the hotel lobby lounge, which is just adjacent to the coffee shop, or at the al fresco poolside area. This is particularly true on HOW TO GET THERE: Take a bus bound for Cabanatuan or Nueva Ecija, which will pass through the main road, Maharlika Highway. Harvest Hotel is located at 1179 Pio Del Pilar St., Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.

weekends, when Harvest Hotel offers affordably priced and themed Eat All You Can Buffet promos. It’s Mongolian BBQ Dinner for Fridays, allowing diners to create their own stir-fry bowls with veggies, meats and condiments of their choices and then watch their creations being cooked to a sizzle for P350+ per head. On Saturdays, diners get to indulge in Tempura and Teppanyaki Dinner for P400+ per person; while it’s Brunch Family Buffet galore on Sundays for P550+ per person. What’s more: Children aged 6 to 12 get 50% off the buffet price, and children aged 5 and below get to eat for free. While the dining public in Cabanatuan City is used to stopping by big restaurants and local eateries around the area for a good Pinoy meal, there has been nothing like Harvest Hotel offering a mix of international dishes, classic Pinoy food, and Cabanatuan specialties. Imagine having US Angus Ribeye Steak, all 200 grams of it, with Kare-Kare, Pakô Salad and Longganisa Spaghetti all in one meal? And there’s more: Dessert! Desserts are a must-try at Harvest Hotel. The cheesecake, especially, which can come with blueberry, cherry or mango topping, should not be missed! The cocktail drinks are also worth every sip. Having formally opened its doors to the public only last May, Harvest Hotel is poised to be not just the first four-star hotel in Cabanatuan City but also the dining destination of choice in Central Luzon.


Your next best place to stay is none other than Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub in Quezon City

Enjoy that leisurely dip at Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub's swimming pool

The Oblation Function Room that can fit up to 300 people

Take your dining pleasure to a whole new level at Millie's All-day Dining

A typical Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub room and its famous queen-sized bed

MICROTEL by Wyndham UP Technohub: In a class of its own


iscover the latest property from the Philippines’ fastest growing international hotel chain along UP-Ayala Land Technohub, beside Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Making a name for itself among the business, academic, and leisure crowd is Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub. With hotel staff trained in the global standards of the Wyndham Hotel Group—merged with Filipino qualities of warmth and hospitality—Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub carries the standard consistently across all Microtel by Wyndham hotels in the country. A pioneer in the no-frills, back-tobasics, limited-service concept, Microtel by Wyndham is also the fastest growing, with 13 hotel properties across the country and more planned in the near future. It is the sole Microtel by Wyndham franchise in Asia from the Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest and most diverse hotel company with approximately 7,650 properties and 661,000 rooms in 70 countries under 15 hotel brands.

guest rooms—each at approximately 25 to 30 square meters big—overlooking the city or a garden quadrangle. There is free WiFi, cable TV, free water via dispensers at every floor, and their famous queen-sized beds with chiropractor-approved mattresses. Guests can also enjoy a cool dip at the hotel’s swimming pool located at the roof deck, while marveling at the Quezon City skyline. Uniquely, the hotel gives special attention to persons with disabilities (PWDs). Aside from allocating the standard handicapped parking spaces, the hotel has a unique lowered surface at the front desk reception area for wheelchair-bound individuals, Braille system on nearly all hotel signage and room numbers, and five disability-access rooms at the ground floor that feature a large bathroom floor space —enough to fit a full wheelchair—and handlebar supports on the walls. For meetings, corporate events, wedding receptions or other social gatherings, the hotel’s Oblation Function Room can accommodate up to 200 persons, while three meeting rooms have the capacity for up to 30 persons. The wedding market has discovered Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub as the spot-on venue for pre-nuptial photo shoots for its picturesque environment, and for having rooms big enough for the bride and groom to prepare before the ceremony. Millie’s All-day dining, the hotel’s official dining facility, and its selection of dishes can best complement Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub. The best-seller, Baby Back Ribs, is an absolute must-try for every Millie’s first timer. Pleasurable dining becomes even more relaxing at the al fresco area, right by the refreshing garden quadrangle. More than a prime business hotel, Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub is all about a place to relax, communing with nature, fine dining, and having the experience of a second home.

Guy Umali, General Manager of Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub, takes pride in being a part of Microtel by Wyndham, saying he enjoys every minute of it since it is attuned For more information on promos, to his orientation, values and work ethics. “We meeting, wedding and venue packages, are very much family-oriented, and that’s very and room rates, call tel. (+632) 804-6888 Filipino. The company is 100 percent Filipinoor email uptechnohub@microtel.ph. owned. There should be no compromise in Microtel by Wyndham currently has keeping with the signature Filipino way of 13 properties located at Acropolis QC, hospitality, while exercising professionalism in Baguio, Batangas, Boracay, Cabanatuan, the workplace. And we have been successful Cavite, Davao, General Santos, Manila, with that. Filipino values and the Wyndham Puerto Princesa, South Forbes global standard—the (near Nuvali), Tarlac, and UP fusion of these two, a Technohub QC. All Microtel seamless symmetry. by Wyndham hotels in the That’s what makes Philippines are managed by Microtel by Wyndham Microtel Development Corp., the different.” hospitality arm of the PHINMA Microtel by Wyndham Group. For more information, UP Technohub is the call the Manila Sales Office latest and second largest at 899-7171, email sales@ in the hotel franchise. microtel.ph or go to www. At six stories high, the microtelphilippines.com. hotel features 120 clean, Microtel by Wyndham UP Technohub spacious, and secure General Manager Guy Umali EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015



Ageless and indulgent APU showcases why Pinoy dishes never get old


“Apu”—it is a term used by some people to address their elderly. It connotes legacy, culture, and timelessness. It speaks of a rich heritage that has been passed on from generations, much like an age-old family recipe. Imagine an image of a grandmother tediously preparing the ingredients for an old familyfavorite dish with the help of her son or daughter while the youngsters watch in awe. APU is also the name of a restaurant that showcases authentic Filipino cuisine located at the new lifestyleentertainment complex City of Dreams in Pasay City. With lots of guests coming in everyday for a taste of the classic Filipino cuisine associated with family reunions and regional celebrations, APU is living up to its name.

Culinary homecoming

“We are really after the classic flavor in every dish that we have on our menu,” Chef Seisma Lumbao says, explaining their preference for purity as opposed to following the popular practice of the fusion of a variety of dishes, such as Filipino and Japanese, for example. “These are the flavors most of us loved as Filipinos, and we also want to share it with our foreign visitors so that they could experience the real goodness of Filipino food.”


EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

APU's ox-tail Kare-Kare that never ceases to impress The Lumpiang Ubod at APU with heaps of arugula toppings, shoots, carrots and flat beans

The place gives off a feeling of entering an old ancestral house. The floors and most of the furniture are made of wood, heavily stained to give it an antique look but with enough details on the grain to show texture on the surface. A couple of sections made from finely cut adobe slabs are reminiscent of the Spanish colonial era, a rightfully placed accent to the wood-dominated space. With a banana leaf-shaped placemat, spoon-andfork tandem third-wheeled by a steak knife, a big plate enough to take in rice and viands, you are in for a feast. We kicked off with something light to whet our appetites before pushing on for the heavier meals. What better way to do it but to start with vegetables. No, we didn’t go for a salad; we had lumpiang ubod. The crunchy freshness of the arugula toppings, shoots, carrots, and flat beans could be heard with every bite. The wrap, obviously made from the kitchen and not bought somewhere else, gives the dish a soft and mild texture. But what really blended all these flavors together was the sweet combination of peanut and coconut milk sauces.


Moving on, we were then served with a very attractive pot of kare-kare. Two big chunks of cookedto-tenderness ox tail at the center, slathered with thick, mildly sweet, vibrantly orange peanut sauce with perfectly blanched vegetables jutting out on the side, added a colorful contrast to the dish. It was perfect for a cup of rice with all these flavors filling your spoon,

The entrance to APU bodes well of the awesome culinary experience one can expect

departing from the table and into our mouths. We put a bit of shrimp paste to tickle our taste buds in a very nostalgic, feels-like-home pleasure. By this time, we were already stuffed enough to cap off our meal with a steaming cup of hot coffee or tea. But we couldn’t resist APU’s take on the classic pork adobo. Two half-slabs of fall-off-the-bone back ribs oozing with soy sauce and pepper flavor sat on top of shredded purple cabbages and carrots made slightly sour from the vinegar, together with caramelized shallots; all these in a distinct sweetness that balanced the savory and sour when it all came into our mouths. It may all sound too indulgent, and somehow it did send us back in time, to a kitchen with our

HOW TO GET THERE APU is located at the Upper Ground Floor of the City of Dreams Entertainment Complex, Asean Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Parañaque City. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The APU's interiors resemble dining turn-of- the-century style, but with a modern touch

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“These are the flavors most of us loved as Filipinos, and we also want to share it with our foreign visitors so that they could experience the real goodness of Filipino food.” grandparents or parents preparing the meals. The goodness was also in the ingredients used in every dish. The kitchen gets most of its produce from an organic farm in Pampanga by the same restaurant owners. You can never go wrong with fresh and healthy ingredients, especially organic produce. “We also pride ourselves with the service APU provides to its guests,” General Manager Alyona Jeffery added. “We make sure that our staff knows how to provide a kind of hospitality that is distinctly Filipino.” The service in APU starts with the exquisite preparation of the dishes, bringing back the foreign and the Filipino diner to the unforgettable flavors of homegrown food.

APU's cozy and elegant interiors make for an extraordinary dining experience

APU General Manager Alyona Jeffery

Chef Seisma Lumbao

The Pork Adobo, APU-style, with fall-off-the-bone back ribs that's hard to resist


EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


Landmark hotel unveils Vietura, the first aesthetic institute of its kind in Asia


ith medical tourism on the rise throughout Southeast Asia, Sofitel Philippine Plaza has jettisoned the traditional spa playbook, and teamed with one of the country’s most renowned wellness experts that opened the doors to the health and aesthetic institute. Named Vietura, a combination of vie or life and tura which comes from natura or nature, the new facility is an aesthetic lifestyle institute that leverages on its holistic approach to beauty and wellness, providing 100 percent non-invasive treatment programs that are tailor-made for each individual. Conceived by its chief practitioner Dr. Mary Jane Torres, Vietura provides not just non-invasive treatments, but also nutritional counselling, cosmetic dentistry and life coaching. “Every patient is carefully assessed as a unique individual by their personal consultant, who then devises a holistic regimen best suited for their particular issues and desires.” said Dr. Torres. Every treatment is tailor-made for each profile. This special attention goes beyond each session to encompass their entire scope of needs. It’s all part of Vietura’s three-step philosophy of ‘Measure, Mentor and Monitor.’ This is truly bespoke beauty—going past superficial improvements by encouraging beneficial lifestyle changes, and carefully keeping watch on a client’s progress or set-


backs. In Vietura, one can expect to not only look better, but feel and live better for good. Sofitel Philippine Plaza General Manager Adam Laker said, “I am delighted about the opening of Vietura since it completes the health and wellness offering of the hotel. It is a high quality service to enhance and improve our client’s lifestyle. It is for the person who understands that the path to greater confidence isn’t dramatic change. It’s a long-term holistic approach that results in a more natural glow and prompts friends to ask, ‘Where did you go on vacation?’ Instead of ‘Who was the surgeon you visited?’” Technology and a healthy lifestyle Vietura offers a range of treatments and services that promote holistic balance. With Vietura's natural facelift and contour program, one can conceal the signs of aging. It employs the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and power cell lift treatments to stimulate the

“Every patient is carefully assessed as a unique individual by their personal consultant, who then devises a holistic regimen best suited for their particular issues and desires.”

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body's own healing process and smoothen out lines and deep wrinkles. Vietura offers body sculpting with weight management program for people who want to attain their dream figures without the need for surgery. It combines technology with a healthy lifestyle by providing a diet program as well as an in-house personal trainer to deliver more lasting results. This package also includes Resonax, the latest non-surgical face and body sculpting technology from Europe. When stress and worries take over one's body emotionally and physically, Vietura recommends a detox program, which includes colonics hydrotherapy, massage treatments, and a relaxing stay at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza for a little rest and recreation. At Vietura’s core lie the philosophy and fundamentals of its owner, Dr. Mary Jane Torres. A resolute advocate of non-invasive, non-surgical solutions, she spent years studying leading aesthetic methods in Europe. “We’re not in the business of selling the quick fix,” said Dr. Torres. “This is why we spend so much time talking to each customer about manageable diet and exercise regimens. We listen and ask relevant questions to help them take charge of the changes they wish to see and feel.” This concept reaches its zenith in Vietura, and takes it further with a comprehensive approach to wellness and antiaging by fusing aesthetics, integrative medicine, lifestyle and nutritional coaching. “It’s a very private setting so guests can be assured of anonymity,” Laker said. “That’s a factor in consideration for some people, especially those in the public eye.” Gruppo Espazio, the Manila-based interior design firm that also conceived the stylish Le Spa at Sofitel Philippine Plaza devised a space that is sleek yet natural, thanks to the warm lighting and the live,

vertical garden feature in each treatment room. When a guest enters, they are escorted directly to a treatment room, wherein there’s soothing, ambient music, an addition to its consultation experience. Another is the design itself, which was imagined by Gruppo Espazio. Living, vertical gardens spread out over the walls of the center, providing fresh oxygen into every room. The ambiance takes one away from all the stress and toxins of the city. Warm, cozy lighting and soothing ambient music complete the sensory experience. Services range from weight management tools, to anti-aging procedures, colonics, cosmetic dentistry, facial contouring and body sculpting. Vietura also features effective treatments for conditions affecting one’s complexion or digestion. Under Dr. Torres’ meticulous supervision, the internationally-trained team consists of 12 registered nurses, a dietician, dentist and lifestyle

coach. The center has state of the art aesthetic technology and equipment, for stem cell and chelation therapy, available from around the world. The luxury resort location also allows Vietura clients to easily enjoy the hotel’s other premier facilities such as Le Spa and So Fit, or check into a room or suite. For more information about Vietura, please call (632) 551-5555 local 5000 or email at info @vietura.com or visit www.vietura.com.

Outdoor activities at the Enchanted Kingdom The Enchanted Kingdom (EK) has a wide array of recreational activities catering to all ages. First in the bucket list for thrill seekers is the latest ride addition—AIR Race which turns your world upside down! Along with the popular sky rides like Disk-O-Magic, Anchor’s Away & Space Shuttle, it leaves you breathless as you walk away after. Taking away the heat of the sun are the splash rides like Jungle Log Jam, Bump & Splash, and Rio Grande Rapids. The rocking 7D Interactive Motion Theater is an interactive light gun motion ride wherein adults and kids can join in the thrilling real time adventure. Meanwhile the 3D ride at Rialto Theatre which features the superhero Green Lantern will surely create quality bonding time for the whole clan. Enchanté Goes Broadway at the Eldar’s Tent offers a world class performance of favorite Broadway musicals. Victoria’s Way at the bandstand, EK’s premier female group, captivates the audience with their vocal power. For more information, call (02) 584-3535 or 830-3535.


Experience life's simple pleasures at Cabo del Marco Nestled atop a mountain lake is a quiet getaway where the beauty of nature and a product of man's ingenuity breathe life and harmony. Unwind, relax, and bond with your family and friends in a quiet sanctuary not too far from home. Go swimming, fishing, jet skiing, or take a boat ride tour around the lake. And when darkness sets in, camp out on its sprawling grounds, and watch the bonfire glow under the dark skies. Enjoy the simple pleasures of the

countryside not too far from home. Only a 2- hour drive from SLEX, Cabo del Marco is located at Barangay Mahipon, Caliraya, Cavinti, Laguna. And if you are taking a side trip to Cavinti Nature Cave, Cabo del Marco is an ideal stopover to see the recently discovered limestone cave. For more info, please contact: (049) 543-2201, (02) 668-3090, (Smart) 0999-998-0520, (Globe) 0917-599-5717.

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


POSTINGS “We are working with operators, content partners, and governments from all over the world to address the barriers that prevent people from connecting and joining the knowledge economy. We are excited to bring Internet.org app to the Philippines and give people access to Internet services and tools that can help create new ideas and opportunities,” says Markku Makelainen, director of global operator partnerships at Facebook.

APP OFFERS INTERNET SERVICES WITH ZERO DATA CHARGES Local wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) through its value brand Talk ‘N Text, recently partnered with Facebook to introduce the “Internet.org” app. The app offers basic mobile Internet services—including useful education, news, health, messaging and communication—without data charges to help bring the mobile Internet to all Filipinos. Initially, Internet.org app allows Filipinos to enjoy free access to 24 websites featuring informative and practical content, including Facebook and Messenger, on their mobile phones. Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative that aims to make mobile Internet services available to twothirds of the world who are not yet

connected. Smart is the first telco to launch Internet.org app in the Philippines, its launch marks the first time the Internet.org app will be available in Southeast Asia. Since 2014, Internet.org has rolled out in six countries, including Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zambia, enabling people to conveniently browse information and websites with zero data charges. Bannering the Internet.org app in the Philippines is Smart’s budget brand Talk ‘N Text, which targets the larger mass segment of the population, but is also available for Smart and Sun subscribers. The services can be accessed from the Internet.org Android app or by visiting www. internet.org from a mobile browser.

Japanese cuisine at the Midas Yanagi Restaurant at the Midas Hotel and Casino offers a wide range of Japanese core dishes, which include sushi selections, teppanyaki and fusioninspired creations, without overlooking the traditional Japanese staples. A dish that exemplifies Yanagi’s vision in upholding authenticity squeezed with creativity and panache is the Aburi Sushi Five Kinds. This one-of-its-kind sushi that everyone can enjoy is comprised of slightly burnt hamachi, eel, salmon, tuna and

lapu-lapu. Food enthusiasts can go crazy over Tempura Maki, a share of deep-fried filled rice and enormous tempura rolls. Spoil yourself with a serving of Ebi Tamago, a plateful of huge prawns sunken in an exceptional egg sauce. The Kaki Papaya consists of a slice of a grilled tropical fruit cuddling a boiled Japanese oyster topped with caramelized miso mayo sauce. With all these lip-smacking servings, freshen your taste buds with Yanagi’s signature brewed citrus iced tea. Yanagi Japanese Restaurant is located at the Mezzanine floor of Midas Hotel and Casino, 2702 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. It is open from 11:30 am-2:30 pm and from 6:00 pm to 10:30 pm. For more information, please call (02) 902 -0100 or visit midashotelandcasino.com.


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Internet for all For his part, Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno said Smart’s partnership with Facebook is a big boost to its “Internet for All” campaign, an advocacy the telco has been strongly pushing for. “By launching Internet. org app with Facebook in the Philippines, we are making useful information within reach of millions of Filipinos,” Nazareno says. The Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines estimates that only 38 percent of the country’s population had Internet access in mid-2014. Subscribers may download the Internet.org app on Google Play Store. They may also simply text INTERNET to 9999 to enjoy the services. With the Internet.org app on their mobile phones, TNT, Smart and Sun subscribers nationwide may now access general information from Ask. com, Bing, Dictionary.com, wikiHow and Wikipedia; get news updates from Inquirer, PhilStar, Interaksyon, and Rappler; stay updated on sports

through ESPN and SPIN.PH; check out the weather and climate through Accuweather and RainCheckPH; and enjoy stories via Wattpad. They may also check out free programs and trainings on the official website of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority at TESDA.gov.ph; check employment opportunities on Jobstreet; sell items on OLX.ph; gain financial literacy via PesosandSense and YourMoney.com; learn about women’s issues in sites like BabyCenter & MAMA and Girl Effect; and access health information on UNICEF’s Facts for Life. On top of these sites, subscribers may enjoy the services of Facebook and Facebook Messenger, which they may use to connect to loved ones and friends. “Through Internet. org, Smart and Facebook are able to provide Filipinos with a vast wealth of information at their fingertips, which in turn opens up doors for greater social opportunities for them—at no extra cost. This service is what we call ‘panalo’ or a ‘win’ for our subscribers, and embodies the brand’s celebration of life’s small victories every day,” says Charles Lim, Executive Vice President and Wireless Consumer Division Head of Smart and Sun. Smart continues to have the largest and most advanced network in the Philippines today, with a total of 26,242 cellular/broadband base stations, including 11,083 active 4G/ HSPA+/Long-Term Evolution (LTE) base stations supported by more than 90,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables around the country.


SLIM AND SCULPTED IN ONE SEATING Fat is removed while leaving a smooth, balanced skin

of her flabbier body parts. “The tri-shaper procedure does not just remove the fat, but it also prevents the skin from sagging,” says Dr. Emehly Sevilla, director and owner of Vine Holistic Medical Aesthetics. “There are many fat-reduction treatments that leave the patient’s skin looking crumpled and worn, and it will take time and other procedures to restore it back to its smooth, glowing form. The tri-shaper addresses all those concerns, slimming you down while tightening your skin.” Lipocryosculpt is the first part of the tri-shaper, freezing the unwanted cells and then excreting them without leaving any lingering feeling of unpleasant stickiness. The second aspect or focused lipocavitation follows, targeting the unwanted fat with ultra-sound wave energy that triggers their steady if speedy removal.

Dr. Emehly Sevilla

The claims were shockingly true. It took only 90 minutes of treatment inside one of the rooms of Vine Holistic Medical Aesthetics, and three inches were shaved off the patient’s abdominal fats immediately. There was no pain or discomfort—the attending spa nurse merely administered the fat-reducing substance on that unwanted bulge while she laid down in comfort. But the slight “miracle” was accomplished and all-too-visible right after by the measuring tape. A few days after, the patient could wear without effort a size 29 jeans, compared to her size 32 before. Other patients enjoyed a greater inch reduction of five inches from their not-so-slim tummies through this new process called the tri-shaper, which is a combination of three aesthetic procedures that work together both to help the patient slim down and sculpt some

NO SAGGING “The third aspect is perhaps the most interesting part,” elaborates Dr. Sevilla. “The tri-shaper then focuses on the skin, making it tight around the muscles. Otherwise, that skin will sag because the removal of the fat tissues leads to looseness in that affected body part. “The fat bulges or fat stores also tend to harden and make the skin coarse and limp. The tri-shaper softens the skin. After one treatment, you can see the results—the skin still looks fresh and smooth while the concerned body part has become leaner.” Dr. Sevilla hastens to caution the patient from measuring the change through the usual weighing scale. “You may still weigh the same amount after your treatment,” she explains, “but you can measure the change in the arms, thighs, legs, and abdomen that had undergone the treatment. The loss of inches can be measured locally.” She also adds that this change must be maintained through consistent diet and a regular exercise. Those three lost inches can be regained in a weekend food binge if one is not careful. Dr. Sevilla adds that a new sculpted and slim form needs more than just one treatment; depending on the patient’s requirements and goals, a full program would require six to ten sessions. “The tri-shaper works fast, and it is safe and patient-friendly,” says Dr. Sevilla.

“It can help give you the kind of body you want without going through surgery. All you need is perseverance to go through the full program and the posttreatment discipline to make sure your new physique stays that way.”

“The tri-shaper softens the skin. After one treatment, you can see the results— the skin still looks fresh and smooth while the concerned body part has become leaner.” —Dr. Emehly Sevilla

Carlos Agassi having his regular Trishaper Treatment

This time, it's model Vince flattening those abs

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After the cross, comes the crown. The winners enjoy their due recognition, prizes, and moments with celebrities like Rovilson Fernandez

WHO DARES, WINS! Get outside—it has been Recreational Outdoor eXchange’s (R.O.X.) drive to push this mantra not only to those who are already enjoying outdoors, but also to those who are curious enough to try how it is to feel free from the mundane wrappings of the city. The 2-day Outdoor Festival at the Bonifacio High Street had film showings, outdoors exhibits, and several booths that offered fun games and prizes. But to the more daring individuals, R.O.X. reserved some of the most exhilarating tasks to test their skills. To those who dared A plank track with rolling slopes was set up in one of High Street’s open areas. The challenge was to go around it without pedaling throughout the ride. Pumping the track takes a lot of body control and balance. But with the feel of breeze passing through one’s


skin on a hot summer day, it was all worth the strain. A 10-foot high rope was set up for those who wanted to try to reach its top with rudimentary climbing gears. Coaches patiently taught the participants how to use the apparatus correctly and safely. In one the event’s booths, people tried probably one of the lightest roadto-trail running shoes by running the fastest 100-meter dash. The Mountain Athletics Challenge tested not only the body’s capacity, but the courage of the human spirit. Education and advocacy R.O.X. aligned its event with environmental consciousness. Along with the booths set up for advocacy groups, speakers held free seminars on topics useful to travelers and outdoor explorers. These included plan-

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ning for your globetrotting trip, getting good angles for travel photos, and telling your travel story on film. There were also talks on how to explore the outdoors with kids, road safety and maintenance for cyclists, and responsible traveling that will safeguard the destinations being toured. Gruelling contests The most exciting part of the Festival were the competitions that highlighted team camaraderie and strength of spirit.

The Last Man Standing Competition gathered a few of the toughest individuals to battle it out in a test of will and determination. Standing for hours on a 3-foot pole under the heat of the sun, the competitors mustered all they have got to win a trip to Coron, Palawan. In the end, the winner was a lady whose will proved stronger than all the rest. The Zero Gravity Bouldering Competition showcased the country’s young and elite sport climbers who solved every problem presented on the wall to reach the top. The real beauty in witnessing this competition was seeing how everyone cheered for all—witnessing how each conquered their limit on the wall was a sight of joy to who anyone understands the toughness of outdoor competition. The Outdoor Festival definitely got many curious about the outdoors. Now, it’s time to determine when and where they will start their adventure.

Florsheim regional executive visits Manila

The top regional executive of Florsheim, Mr. Eric Leung, returns to Manila to further highlight the significance of the Philippine market for its growing global presence. “The Philippines is the third biggest market in the Asia-Pacific region. We see the relevance of our brand here and commit to continuously address the fashion requirements of every Filipino, male and female.” Leung said. Florsheim Philippines is indeed growing with an additional store marked as its tenth. One of the main reasons for Leung’s visit this month was to check out the newest Florsheim Store located at Ayala Fairview Terraces in Quezon City. In an intimate gathering, Leung took the time to talk about 22 years of partnership with Retail Specialist Inc. (RSI), current and exciting future fashion trends, and the Florsheim edge. “We have been partners with RSI for over 22 years now. Through them, Florsheim is made available to the Philippine market—competitively priced, timely display of the latest collection, and strategically located in prominent malls in Manila, Cebu and Davao.” Leung further narrated his impression of the discerning taste of Filipinos when it comes to footwear products. For classic brands like Florsheim, loyal customers are maintained by making sure the classic styles remain relevant and updated. New customers are gained with the development of new styles which come in different colors. Florsheim enjoys consumer preference mainly because it supplies the need of consumers for the basic and the new—produced with premium quality raw materials and meticulous product development. Florsheim, established back in 1892, is a leading international footwear brand present in the US, Europe, Central and South America and in Asia, with stores in glitzy and glamorous locations such as New York, Milan, Sydney, Dubai, and Hong Kong. It is also present in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and

the Philippines and will soon open its first store in Nepal. Popular Florsheim products include Royal Imperial, Imperial, Florsheim Regular, Comfortech and Sports & Casual. Mr. Leung said, “We have a rich heritage incomparable to others. Our focus remains on designing sophisticated, elegant and contemporary shoes that cater to all walks of life. We make our shoes using leading-edge technology and superior workmanship that results in exceptional quality, comfort and styling that people around the world have grown to love for more than 120 years.” As for trends, Leung sees men going for a more directional, rounder toe shape with neutral tones like cognac and taupe. Women, on the other hand, will continue to see the man shoe and ankle bootie to become popular, with the gradual introduction of flats coming back in to fashion. Colors to look out for in the Spring are classic blue, moss green, orange, lemon and pink, and beige, maroon and grey when going for more trans-seasonal colors. Consumers will also continue to look for comfort, flexibility and durability when buying quality, classic and fashionable shoes, he said, adding that the Asian market will direct its sights on the fashion side, especially for young executives. Florsheim’s current campaign in the Philippines is focused on a “return to classics,” where it will highlight the staple styles for men, such as wingtips, loafers, lace-up and so on. This timely collection reveal is perfect for students going back to school and the mark of mid-year for the professionals. To check out the newest collection inspired by classic styles, visit the nearest Florsheim stores at Trinoma, Shangri-La Plaza, Glorietta 4, SM Mall of Asia, Festival Mall Alabang, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Fairview Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu, Abreeza Mall Davao and SM City Davao.

For more information, follow them through Facebook @Florsheim Philippines, Twitter and Instagram @FlorsheimPH, or log on www.retailspecialistinc. com/brands/Florsheim.



unze, the leading innerwear brand from Japan, recently opened its first store in the Philippines at Glorietta 3, Makati City. It offers the comfort of feeling like you’re wearing your second skin whether for work, party or play. Working professionals find that it helps them become more fashionably prepared for what’s in store for the busy work week. Ladies required to wear stockings to work even in summer like the Gunze hosiery sub-brands such as the Mirica stockings made with Nylon and Polyurethane which gives a breathable feel with enhanced flexibility and durability. It matches the edgy corporate OOTD with comfort fitting camisole from Tuche uniquely designed with extra underarm fabric for a fresh feel all day even under the sun. And of course, any lady’s best “feel great” secret is her choice undergarments—a bra and panty set from Tuche empowers a “work-mode-on” mood throughout the rest of the day. Gunze created innerwear designed for male professionals to double productivity. These gentlemen come extra prepared for a hard day ahead wearing Gunze’sBody Wild crew neck T-shirt made of 100% cotton that can be perfectly matched with a Body Wild boxer brief in Polyester, Nylon and Polyurethane. Match that impressive shirt and boxer brief combo with Coolmagic formal socks that boasts of Rayon, Polyester, Nylon and lovely Acrylic material. That’s innerwear made with the best materials to (From left): Manny Concepcion, move with ease and less effort. One more Brand Manager, Gunze; Donna advantage is that you can wash them all toSan Luis, Marketing Head, Retail night and wear it again tomorrow. Continue Specialist Inc.; Rafael Dominguez, General Manager, Retail Specialist to cycle and still know that your everyday Inc.; Jun Nakamura, General wear will not discolor, stretch, shrink or Manager, Gunze; Shinji Hombo, Global Sales representative, Gunze lose that awesome skin-like feel. Gunze at play Ladies looking for their next outdoor adventure can wear the Tuche Camisole with bra cup matched with washed out denim jeggings from Tuche. Underneath, undergarments are as comfy as can be with Tuche lace panty for a skin-like all day at play. Their active feet need strong support with lace-type foot cover, cushioned and on-slip with silicone gel at the back heel. Men at play move with advantage through Gunze innerwear. They achieve unhampered mobility wearing Gunze’s Body Dry V-neck T-Shirt in black and Body wild boxer briefs in fashionable hot red prints. Active comfort requirement extends up to foot covers especially for sports activities. Tuche sports socks in bright colors and style selections are available now at the Gunze store in Glorietta 3. With Gunze, comfort is at its finest; a touch of comfort as your second skin. Check out the latest collection and exciting in-store and social promos thru Facebook @GunzePH or in Twitter and Instagram @Gunze_PH. Search using hashtag #GunzeSkin2Skin and #WearYou for exclusive posts online. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


escape POSTINGS Samsung’s new digital appliances designed for the family

(From left) Pablo Luzano, Hotel Sogo Sta. Mesa, 1st runner-up; Runel Namoc, Hotel Sogo Quezon Ave., Champion; Noel Villamor, Hotel Sogo EDSA Caloocan, 2nd runner-up


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The Filipino family is known for its continued adaptability. As life keeps going faster, households have evolved with breakneck pace but never sacrificing what keeps families together. However, building a happy home as a couple cannot be achieved overnight. Their experiences as young professionals may come in handy as they mature and journey through various stages­—from adjusting during the marriage’s early years, to preparing for the arrival of their children, managing the expanded family and its needs, and so on. Samsung Electronics understands these life stages. Their in-depth understanding of these concerns compelled them to stage “Made to Fit: A Musical” at the Blue Leaf Events Pavilion in Taguig City to launch their latest digital appliances line-up which has been designed to fit family needs. “We decided to introduce our products differently and creatively to demonstrate how Samsung Digital Appliances’ innovation keeps up with changes in consumers’ life stages, from being independent yuppies, to getting married, and eventually starting a family,” Jun Filart, Business Unit Head for Samsung Digital Appliances, says. “This shows that Samsung Digital Appliances are the answer to the ever-evolving needs and diversity of Filipino families.” Aside from the musical, the event featured an experiential area where guests tried for themselves the latest Samsung Digital Appliances, seeing how and why each appliance plays an integral part in creating a happier home with their guaranteed convenience, space and energy efficiency. Samsung’s Top Load Fully Automatic Washing Machine with ActivDualWash makes sure that the family’s clothes are washed thoroughly with its dedicated sink, washboard, and water jet built right into the washer. Its “Wobble Technology” creates powerful vertical wash motions to prevent clothes from tangling. A Magic Dispenser uses a propeller to dissolve detergent in the dispenser and spreads it evenly; and a Magic Filter located at the water level traps the lint, fluff and particles coming out of clothes—all these make washing more convenient and help reduce

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EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

(From left) Samsung’s Business Manager for Digital Appliances Daniel Ching, President and CEO Harry Lee, and Business Unit Head for Digital Appliances Victor Filart, Jr.

The 2015 Digital Appliances launch also featured an experiential area to showcase the key features of the newest digital appliances line-up

back pains by 43 percent when washing. Storage, space and cooling system are consumers’ common concerns when looking for a refrigerator. Filipinos, known to be food lovers,require big storage spaces to accommodate large quantities of food. Samsung offers a wide range of refrigerator sizes from 6.4 to 28.7 cubic feet and incorporates design that maximizes space efficiency. The Samsung Food Showcase Refrigerator (FSR) has a revolutionary “fridge within a fridge” design with two independent areas for more space, wider range of storage and organization options. The first layer provides clearly defined zones for frequently used food and ingredients while the inner case, tucked deeper inside the refrigerator, helps keep larger and longlasting items fresher. It has a metal cooling door that restores fridge temperature faster than a conventional one to maintain food freshness despite frequent opening and closing. Maximum storage space is achieved while keeping energy consumption and floor space requirements at a minimum. As a tropical country, Philippine climate is characterized by relatively high temperature and atmospheric humidity. Highly recommended is a durable, functional and quality air conditioning unit that’s effective all year long. The Samsung AR7000 air conditioner features a triangular design, enabling quicker, further and wider cooling. Its energy- efficient capability allows consumers to enjoy a powerful and optimized cooling system sans increasing electricity usage and expense. Samsung also offers a 10-year warranty program to demonstrate their confidence on their newest air conditioning unit. With its latest innovative, smart and high-quality digital appliances, Samsung is once again offering a whole new home experience for the Filipino family. Why settle for another brand if Samsung can guarantee convenience, space and energy efficiency with their products? Definitely, Samsung Digital appliances are designed to help strengthen the bonding activities of the Filipino family.


Golf is business

Dan Sais is building the Philippines’ first “international golf academy” Words by Cora Llamas Photos by Miguel F. Marcos Location: The Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club

The first reaction is usually shock. Then the person in front of him starts enthusiastically conversing in full Tagalog. That’s when Dan Sais gently tells them to slow down. Almost five years years after he and his Filipina wife, Carmela, had settled in the Philippines, the president of Esquire Golf Management can understand the dialect more than his fellow expatriates, and can easily even shift to a few Taglish phrases every now and then. However, he is the first to admit that he needs to learn more. Perhaps that’s the one thing that is disarming about the golf professional-cumeducator who wants to help professionalize the golf courses and country clubs in the archipelago. He is always learning


and open to the culture around him. Prior to their eventual relocation, the Saises were regular visitors in the Philippines since the 1990s. Most of their time was spent in Iloilo where Carmela’s family was based. Dan identifies the one thing he realized during those trips to and from their original home in California: “This may be a Third World country but the people have values that are important to them. You just don’t bring your ways and that of your own country in.”

Golf, the Pinoy way

The move to resettle was determined by several factors, one of them was a top-level recruitment position offered to Carmela by a major business process outsourcing (BPO) company.

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015

Dan Sais has played the game in many of the country's 65 golf courses

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015


Golf games become an avenue for networking, socials, and business deals

Dan wanted to practice the sport he loved with a passion, develop it in others, and help overall improve the standard of the sector. He addresses this two ways. First, he does consulting for country clubs and golf courses, looking at their “problems, underlying issues, and the things that cost them money. We offer training, development, infrastructure, cost mobilization or how to manage your cost and how to get the most out of your net income. The consulting side is relatively new to the sector in the country but people are beginning to understand that there’s actual benefit with this kind of service.” Second, his other company, the Esquire Golf Learning Center, offers private one-on-one instruction to players ranging from amateurs to veterans who want to improve their game. His youngest student is six years old, and his oldest is 76. Aside from Filipinos, his other clients come from various countries such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Germany. “Most of them are expatriates, businessmen, and country managers of BPO’s and other types of companies that are based here,” he says. “Golf


is part of the lifestyle of an executive. Part of their package comes with a membership and they use it learning the game or playing it better. They’re networking on the golf course.” Sais wryly remembers that part of his adjustment in the Philippines was the different way the Filipinos regarded the game. In other countries, one golf game would be done in three and a half hours. In the Philippines, Filipino golfers take one whole day because they intersperse with lots of eating and talking.

cent of that five percent avidly play golf on a regular basis.” To reach those golf buffs, Dan started by immersing himself in the language. He spent hours watching Filipinolanguage news, game shows, and other programs on The Filipino Channel. Pretty soon, he would catch and intuitively understand

Cultural immersion

He had a chance to observe this firsthand in the 1990s when his performance on the driving range and natural affability got him a lot of invitations. Pretty soon, he was touring most of the 65 golf courses strewn throughout the 7,107 islands including the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, the oldest in the Philippines built in 1907. “My network became bigger,” he recalls. “The players would have a weekly game, and each week would have a different place, and one person was a host.” He elaborates that there are 25,000 active golfers in the Philippines, “About five percent of the 100 million Filipinos plays golf. Less than five per-

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“Not everybody spoke in English. There was a disconnection with the culture, and it was with me. Once I started learning the language, I got more respect. People looked at me differently when I started communicating in Tagalog.” —Dan Sais

a few Tagalog phrases. He bought a dictionary, learned three new Tagalog words a day, and used each in a sentence. Learning the language was an important turning point. “As a tourist, the people around me all spoke in English,” he says. “But when I moved here, I realized that not everybody spoke in English. There was a disconnection with the culture, and it was with me. Once I started learning the language, I got more respect. People looked at me differently when I started communicating in Tagalog.” He also realizes, “If I could speak with a mixture of English and Tagalog, it will help my business get ahead.” He shows his business clients the value of the sport beyond the usual getting-to-know you. “When you do business with someone in the golf course, you can observe that person for four to five hours. Do they react angrily? Do they get frustrated easily? Can they carry a conversation? How they behaved on the driving course is the same that they would behave in business.” He describes another technique that his clients can carry over to the boardroom: “You let your business partner tee off first. If he hits on the right side, you hit it off on the right side; if you are a good enough player, you can control where the ball goes. And now you’re spending more time with the person. You don’t want to tee it off to a place away from where he tees it off because that would separate the two of you.” Then there are the sport’s more valuable lessons, which younger and more mature players can take to heart. Dan says, “Golf can teach you about honesty, integrity, dealing with others, and developing a sense of responsibility and ownership. Do it correctly—and it becomes a whole bonding thing and can lead to more business.” Dan Sais, a PGA professional certified in teaching and club fitting, teaches in several country clubs in Metro Manila. Lessons by appointment. Call +63917-562-1134.

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EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 // 2015