Experience Travel and Living Volume 2 Number 3

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Vol. 2 // No. 3 // 2015 // ISSN 1908-2649

C H A NGE I S S U E

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EXPERIENCE Travel & Living // Vol. 2 // No. 3 // 2015

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Travel Luxe 10

Spellbound

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The magic of history

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Brawn, bubble, and braised meat

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Isle of the elite

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Paradise on earth

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The pleasure in variety

Ceboom! 40

Stay in splendor

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Party Ibiza-style

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The chocolate kingdom

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Lechon at its most luscious

Cover Story 56

Siquijor: Land of enchantment:

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A place of love and healing

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Mystical fire

Travel Lite 65

A pearl from the treasured past

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Leisure stay, the Pinoy way

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Rooms for refreshing

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Luxe food finds at Luxent

Living Well 80

Raw energy

Encounter 38

The Philippine Retirement Authority:

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Greater fun beyond the fiestas

surging towards the next 30

Postings 84

Hotel Jen Manila introduces

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Platinum Karaoke introduces its

new buffet deals

Ceboom! Spellbound by Cebu's creme de la creme

"ASIDE FROM THE HOTELS AND THE BUSTLING CITY, WE HAVE A NUMBER OF PRISTINE ATTRACTIONS OFFERING ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN THINK OF—YOU CAN GO UNDERWATER AT THE ISLAND BEACHES, ABOVE GROUND THERE IS TREKKING. WE HAVE CULTURE, WE HAVE SPORTS —NAME IT. IT’S HERE.” >> p10

“BIRIT” Ambassadors Vice Ganda and Angeline Quinto 86

A paradise you can call home

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KB Glutanac plus rosehips makes

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Marriott Grand Ballroom launched

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#CrownePlazaAt10—Celebrating

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RCBC Bankard introduces new design

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“Dream, believe, achieve” is Eurotel

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Vol. 2 // No. 3 // 2015 // ISSN 1908-2649

the skin white and glowing

C H A NGE I S S U E

(Photograph by Aph Cruz)

with an out-of-this-world splendor a decade of excellence with EMV chip technology Hotel's message to shareholders

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PhP200

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Loving everything about Lucerne Ogle Oxford’s magical history



editor'snote

We all need change. At some point, we need to depart from our usual routine to rid ourselves of monotony and perhaps, boredom. Going to the office or anywhere else, we sometimes decide to tread a different route with nary a reason—most of the time fabulously whimsical or out of the blue. We just do it. We make ourselves adapt to change and perhaps try to smile as we face the dullness that this mad world provides. We try our best to embrace the chaotic and to some, hopeless, traffic situation in the city, and the irreparable damage that led to the abhorring social and economic status of people caused by those with chockfull of empty promises. We need change. For this issue, we are humbled by the beauty of beauteous Huma Island Resort in amazing Busuanga in Palawan, while we discover the inner beauty of Lucerne in Switzerland and the magic of Oxford, all told by one of our most prodigious writers. And don’t forget our candid spotlight on the next most important metropolitan area in the Philippines that is Cebu and what it puts forward in terms of fantastic accommodations courtesy of two renowned vacation spots, fun and engaging recreational facilities plus mouth-watering cuisine that’s too hard to resist. So go ahead and delight in all of these!

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ANA MANANSALA-KEYSER Publisher

RORY VISCO Editor-in- Chief

ARIES ESPINOSA

CORA LLAMAS

Online Editor

Editorial Consultant

JERRY MANALILI Creative Director

ANGELA MORTEGA DENILLA Editorial Assistant

JOSEPH CORTES, APHRODITE CRUZ, GERALDINE “REGGIE” RULLAN-BORROMEO, RUTH FLORESCA, MAAN PAMARAN, JOANNE DELA RAMA, ANSON YU Contributing Writers

PATRICK UY, GABE BORROMEO, CHAMPY CACHOLA, RENJIE TOLENTINO Contributing Photographers

JOANNE VC FELIX, JOY FLORES, MAYNARD VILLADOLID Special Projects Group

GIAN AGUINALDO, DEAH RICACHO, CZEK VINLUAN Online and Social Media Group

NILO AGUSTIN Creative Consultant

NANET BONIFACIO Advertising and Sales Director

ALLEN CASTILLO, JUN ESCUADRO, BERNARD KEYSER Sales Group

JORDANAH RACINES Account Manager, Digital Media

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 City, 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.



contributors

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APHRODITE CRUZ (1) is a PR and marketing consultant by profession. She is an advocate of ecotourism and countryside development. On her spare time, she travels (mostly alone) to rarely visited and oftenunexplored places in the country. Ever the restless and elusive backpacker, she is rarely in one place for a very long time, as proven by the mole on her left foot. She loves jazz and world music, Mediterranean and Southeast Asian cuisine, classical literature, and the Philippines, where you’re never too far from the highlands or the beach, where you can experience the best of both worlds on a shoestring budget. GERALDINE “REGGIE” RULLAN-BORROMEO (2) devoured books before breakfast, read at the breakfast table, in the car, on the way to school, during recess and while waiting to be fetched. She reads pretty much everything she could get a hold of, including the literature

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inserted in the packaging of medicine bottles. Reggie is the quintessential reader who would cover her flashlight with a blanket so she could read past bedtime. In UP College Baguio High School, everyone predicted she would end up being a writer, one way or the other. To make the prediction come true, Reggie pursued a degree in Mass Communications and majored in Journalism in the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communications, Diliman, Philippines. She has been a published writer since 1991. JOSEPH CORTES (3) has been a journalist for more than two decades now. For seven years, he was a political reporter covering the Presidency, the Commission on Elections, and the Departments of Health, Science, and Public Works, among others. He shifted to lifestyle reporting, and has since then specialized in food, travel, and the performing arts. He is a regular contributor to a number of local broadsheets

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and glossies, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Mirror and Cocoon. JOANNE DELA RAMA (4) is a travel and lifestyle writer, blogger, and photographer. Her works are published online and in different publications in the Philippines and overseas. She co-hosted “Money Talks,” a radio show with Randell Tiongson, and had her own travel segment called “Lite Bites” at 103.5 KLITE FM. Joanne is passionate about all things travel, food, art, health, and meeting people from all walks of life. Since her first blog “Hearty Chowder,” her goal stays the same: to inspire people to live life to the fullest, and to share her own stories about life inspirations, travel, and lifestyle. RENJIE TOLENTINO (5) started his career in 1998 as media relations officer at one of the biggest public relations firms in the country. In 2010, he shifted to freelance PR consulting while following his

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passion for photography. As a lifestyle and entertainment photographer, he has handled some of the country’s top brands and had worked with top PR and advertising agencies across the metro. RUTH MANIMTIMFLORESCA (6) started writing professionally 12 years ago and had many of her articles published in major newspapers and magazines in the Philippines. Aside from home and parenting, she also enjoys writing about business, personal finance, advocacies, and lifestyle stories. Ruth also loves traveling and discovering new places where she gets to make friends with the areas' local residents. Aside from print publications, you can read about things she's passionate about online in mommywrites.blogspot.com. ANSON YU (7) is a freelance writer and is, as he says, an “occasional photography junkie.” He loves everything about Manila, a fascination

born out of the very place where he grew up and worked in. This fascination with the glorious past of the city made him a renowned name when it comes to writing (storytelling, if you want) everything about Manila and its rich history. In 2008, he became part of an organization that regularly holds walking tours in famous Manila spots like Intramuros, Binondo in Chinatown, Divisoria to name a few. After taking up Associate in Arts (Liberal Arts) at the University of the Philippines-Open University (Diliman), GABRIELLE "GABE" BORROMEO (8) continued her studies by taking up Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies at the same university. Gabe loves to write in order to organize her cluttered thoughts. She has been contributing her articles for several Philippine publications. She writes to keep her adventures alive and immortalize them. Gabe is constantly on the lookout for the best in life.


EXPERIENCE Travel & Living

SPELLBOUND THE MAGIC OF HISTORY BRAWN, BUBBLE, AND BRAISED MEAT ISLE OF THE ELITE PARADISE ON EARTH THE PLEASURE IN VARIETY

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10 17 20 22 30 36 This amazing window to the top of the world surely leaves one in awe and amazement

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The view was simply unforgettable, the landscape storybook-pretty.

P H OTO B Y A N S O N Y U

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travelluxe SPELLBOUND Lucerne’s museums, churches, and snow-capped mountains make you feel like you’ve entered a storybook Words and photos by Anson Yu

It was my first visit

to the Swiss city of Lucerne and I wasn’t sure what to expect. People say that the city was as pretty as a children’s storybook, but I was too tired from my journey to notice as I was checking in at the Hotel Europe. That changed, though, when I first saw the view from my balcony window. Before me was a shimmering blue lake mirroring the snowcapped mountains above it. I was enchanted. Lucerne had cast its spell on me. It was the beauty of the lake that first beckoned to me. Its German name made reference to the four canton (or administrative states) of its location, while its English name is in honor of the canton and the city of Lucerne. The lake drew the first settlers to the area as early as the 8th Century. In the 13th Century, it became part of a trading route known as the Gotthard Pass which linked the German-speaking states of Switzerland to what is now Milan. Today the lake caters more to tourists who can choose from twenty boats to cruise around it.

Ageless monuments

After leaving my things at the hotel, I headed for the Lucerne Pier to get my ticket. Upon boarding, the other passengers and I rushed to the top deck to fully enjoy the view. We took in the beauty of the landscape while struggling to keep our hats and hair in place from the wild mountain wind. Without saying a word, we began playing a game as to who would be the last to go down below deck. Losers could then warm themselves with cups of appropriately labeled "Kaffe Hell" from the dispenser. I managed to make it as one of the final two on the top deck, before I succumbed to the lure of the badly-brewed coffee. Making it back to land, I consulted a guidebook to see where I should visit next.

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Icicles sparkling in the early spring sun on the top of Mount Pilatus


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The Church of St. Leodagar was built on an 8th Century abbey that gave Lucerne its name. Meanwhile, the Lion Monument features the image of a dying lion carved into the side of a huge rock. It is dedicated to the Swiss guards who died protecting the French Royal family during the French Revolution. The Musegg Wall, which dates back to the medieval period, was part of the original walls that protected the city. After much deliberation, I decided to head first for two of the most iconic landmarks of the city, the Jesuit Church and the Chapel Bridge.

Restored glory

On the way, I passed one of the city’s main shopping areas, Schwanenplatz. This is the go- to place if you want to buy a Swiss-made watch; many of the major brands such as Rolex and Rado have shops here. But that didn’t appeal to me. Instead I went inside a small chocolate store

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called Max’s Chocolatier. Browsing their ware, I realized that even one piece of their truffle is going to cost at least P100. But that didn’t stop me from trying out one particular piece, a chocolate truffle filled with calamansi jelly! I was thrilled in finding a little piece of the Philippines here in Lucerne! The calamansi’s sharp flavors were balanced not only by the chocolate, but also by the almond paste and short bread pastry. It was an exquisite piece of indulgence. Walking around this small city, it was hard to shake off the feeling that you are walking inside a storybook. The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke as the locals call it) certainly looks like it came from one. This footbridge was named after the nearby St. Peter’s Chapel. It was built in 1333 and is regarded as the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. However the footbridge I was crossing was not entirely the original as it caught fire in 1993. But still they did a great job of restoring the bridge to its original glory.

The 2132-meter Mount Pilatus has been a looming presence in more ways than one. People used to believe that it contained the burial site of Pontius Pilate which gave it its name. During the Middle Ages, it was regarded as the dwelling place for dragons.


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1 Lake Lucerne as seen from the hotel room of the author who admittedly was spellbound by the sight 2 The Church of St. Leodagar. In the 8th Century, it was called the Monastarium Lucricia, thus giving Lucerne its name 3 Awe is invoked once you step inside the Jesuitenkirche or Jesuit Church

One of the bridge’s most distinctive features is the stone octagonal tower in the middle called “Wasserturm” or the Water tower. While it now houses a gift shop, it used to serve at one time or another as a prison, a torture chamber, and the municipal archive. A few steps from the footbridge is the Jesuit Church or Jesuitenkirche. When the Protestant Reformation hit Switzerland in the 16th century, Lucerne was the only city to remain Catholic. The Jesuits who were leading the Counter Reformation were invited to the city in 1573 to open a college. Then in 1666 they decided to build the church. Even though it was completed in 1677, the Jesuits kept adding new details to the church well into the 19th Century. Upon entering the church, I was in awe. I didn’t need a sign to tell me to keep quiet. The white- and- rose-colored interior did a good job of rendering me speechless. Taking a seat in the pew,

I savored its beauty until I felt my soul refreshed. After lunch, I explored the History Museum of Lucerne. The interiors were done like a warehouse. Artifacts from different eras of Lucerne's history were mixed up behind wire cabinets just as they were in storage. Many of the artifacts on display such as bridal gowns, household appliances, toys, and hats belonged not to historical figures but to the everyday people of Lucerne.

Dragon lore

By now I had a full day. But since it doesn’t get dark in this part of the world until around 9pm, I was still out and about exploring the city. By the time the sun was setting, I had reached the vicinity of the Lucerne Railway Station. It is one of the major train stations in Switzerland which make it possible to travel to most parts of Europe. The station’s sleek and modern architecture stands in great contrast to the rest of Lucerne. It was EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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CONTACT Grand Hotel Europe Haldenstrasse 59, 6006 Luzern +41 413700011 www.europe-luzern.ch History Museum of Lucerne Pfstergasse 24, 6003, Luzern +41 413704444 Max Chocolatier Schweizerhofquai 2, 6004 Luzern +41 414197090 www.maxchocolatier.com

4 The Chapel Bridge or "Kapellbrucke" and its iconic "Wasserturm" or Water Tower 5 This charming little hotel called Hotel Pilatus Kulm, located at the summit of Mount Pilatus, opened in 1890 6 The Schwanenplatz, one of the city's main shopping areas 7 The sun sets over Lucerne, but total evening won't happen until 9 p.m.

built in 1991 replacing the previous station which was destroyed by a fire in 1971. Fortunately, the entrance to the former station was saved and it now serves as a welcome arch to the new station. The locals shop at the lower ground floor of the station. Based on the prices displayed on the window, the items seemed to be lower than those in the shopping street. I even found bargain Swiss watches although not the more expensive brand name ones. I later found out that while many of the city’s retail outlets are closed on Sunday, the shops in the train station remain open. The spell cast by Lucerne did not fade when I woke up the following morning. This time it was the mountains that were calling for me, more specifically the 2,132-meter Mount Pilatus. For most of the city’s history, this mountain has been a looming presence in more ways than one. People used to believe that the mountain contained the burial site of Pontius Pilate which gave it its name. During the Middle Ages, it was regarded

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as the dwelling place of dragons. In the past hundred years, Mount Pilatus has been rebranded as a sports and leisure destination. It has since been visited by numerous historical figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Wagner, and Queen Victoria. As the number of visitors grew, so did the demand for food and lodging. So in 1890 a charming little inn called Hotel Pilatus Kulm opened on the summit. It was then later joined by the Hotel Bellevue in 1960. Queen Victoria visited Mount Pilatus in 1868, reaching its top by horseback. But I opted to get there by cable car instead. The view was simply unforgettable, the landscape storybook-pretty. Thanks to the fine weather that day, I was able to move from one side of the mountain to the city, the lake, and the surrounding countryside. On the other side, I saw more alpine peaks covered with snow. It was breathtaking. Breaking Lucerne’s spell over me was not going to be easy.


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travelluxe

Selling memorabilia is brisk business

A street performer doing what he does best

Outside Oxford's Radcliffe Camera, one of the more distinct structures at the famous Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe

It is structural magnificence such as this that makes Oxford a true attraction

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The Lloyds Bank Building at the corner of Cornmarket and High Street

The magic of history Oxford’s ageless charm is captured for a modern movie audience Words and photos by Anson Yu

back as the 11th Century when history first mentions the city as a center for learning. Because of these buildings, movie companies often come to Oxford for location shoots for films like the Harry Potter film series. Among the sites chosen was Christ Church, the largest and most famous of all the 38 colleges that make up the university. The producers thought that the college’s magnificent stone staircase and landing was perfect as the setting for the fictional Hogwarts school. The school’s dining hall, the Tudor Hall, provided inspiration for Hogwarts’ Great Hall. Another building inside Oxford that was used in the Harry Potter series is the Bodleian Library. One of the oldest libraries in Europe, it was the setting for Hogwarts’ school infirmary. The creative team also shot in the library the famous sequence of Harry’s professor teaching Moviemaking One reason behind Oxford’s dance lessons to the students. One of the more distinccharm are the historic buildings, tive buildings that make up the some of which were built as far Strange as it may sound, but we have to thank Adolf Hitler for saving the historic British city of Oxford from destruction. Unlike London which was bombed during World War 2, Hitler ordered his troops to spare the city. His reason? The Führer had plans to make Oxford England’s new capital. Whether Hitler actually visited the city himself is a mystery. History says he did not. But a relative of Hitler claimed that the would-be conqueror lived in England for six months just after the end of the First World War. This claim has not been backed by solid evidence. What is undeniable is the charm that Oxford exudes. Once you come here, you are almost certain that had Hitler visited this city himself, he would indeed have fallen in love with it.

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The Christ Church, one of the largest colleges at Oxford University

Christ Church, with its magnificent stone staircase and landing, was the perfect setting for Harry Potter’s famous Hogwarts school. It is the largest and most famous of Oxford University’s 38 colleges.

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Charles Lutwidge Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll wrote the book based on stories he used to tell the three daughters of one of the college deans. In fact the character of Alice was actually based on one of those girls whose name was also Alice. The book is still celebrated in Oxford through the Old Sheep Shop which specializes in "Alice in Wonderland" souvenirs. Not all of Oxford’s attractions are related to the colleges. At St. Aldate Street is First Class, the prequel to the Bodleian Library is the Radcliffe the St. Martin Tower, the belfry popular X-Men film series. OxCamera. The distinctive circular of the St. Martin Church until ford figured prominently in the building was built in the midit was demolished in 1896 to popular mutant cinematic uni1700s to house a science library; widen the road. Also known as it now serves as the reading room versity: hero Professor Charles Xavier studied and did his the- the Carfax Tower, it is the tallest for the student. A few scenes of Val Kilmer’s movie The Saint were sis on mutation in Oxford before structure in the vicinity at 74 feet. You can climb to the being recruited by the Central shot in the Radcliffe Camera. top of the tower and find out Intelligence Agency (CIA). Another Oxford landmark why Oxford is also called that made it to the cinema is The “The City of Dreaming Spires.” Bridge of Sigh. Built in 1914, the Mementos That the tower is also called covered bridge was used to link Oxford has also contributed Carfax is due to the English atthe old and new buildings of the to popular literature. It was the Hertford College. It was used as cradle of the timeless children’s tempt to pronounce the French a backdrop in the film X-Men: fairy tale, "Alice in Wonderland." word carrefour which means

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The Bridge of Sigh is another Oxford landmark that figures prominently in most movies


An Oxford town crier makes his rounds

To get to Nothing beats the feeling of being awestruck at the sight of Oxford's majestic structures which have withstood time

Heathrow Airport You can board a bus service that goes direct to Oxford’s Gloucester Green. It leaves from Terminal 1,2,3 and 5 every twenty minutes. A round trip ticket is approximately £19.

London Bus “The Oxford Tube” and the “X90” are two companies which offer 24 bus services to Oxford. It leaves London Victoria Station every 12-20 minutes. It will make several stops around London before proceeding to Oxford’s Gloucester Green. A round trip ticket costs £ 18. Journey takes approximately two hours.

Train Trains leave London’s Paddington Station every half hour. Journey takes an hour and costs £ 20 one way. However it is said you can check the website nationalrail. co.uk to purchase tickets in advance for as little as £10.

"crossroad." This is because the tower stands at the crossroad of St. Aldate and High Street, which are both parts of Oxford’s shopping and entertainment area. High Street is of particular interest as this is the place to shop for Oxford-related souvenirs. Look for either the Oxford University Shop or the Shepherd and Woodward, as they sell gift items that are officially sanctioned by the University. If you prefer books, then look for Blackwell’s Books across from Trinity College. An institution in Oxford for the past 100 years, it has a basement retail space that measures 10,000 square meters! But you can’t leave Oxford without dropping by the Oxford University Press, also at High Street. Pick up a copy of their famous dictionary, the perfect souvenir that will help you find the right words to describe your visit to this great and historic city.

St. Martin's Church, the tallest structure in the area measuring 74 feet

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travelluxe

Words and photos by Anson Yu

Brawn, bubble, and braised meat Classic British cooking gets a contemporary twist in Jacobs Inn

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Breakfast in the British isle three times a day. That’s how many travelers believed and behaved if they wanted to enjoy good cooking in the United Kingdom. But in recent years, a number of British chefs such as Jaime Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal, and Nigella Lawson have helped raise the profile of British cooking worldwide. I recently got the opportunity to taste for myself this improvement of British cuisine when I visited Jacobs Inn near the city of Oxford. This gastropub was started by Johnny Pugsley and Damion Farah, who previously had opened a grocery/coffee shop in another nearby suburb. They soon developed a reputation for great food at fair prices using local produce and free range livestock. Wanting to expand this concept to a much larger venue, they decided to buy in 2013 the old stone inn The Red Lion located in the suburb of Wolvercote. Since its revamp into Jacobs Inn, it has been winning praises and notices from the British media. It was also included in a number of guidebooks such as The Good Pub Guide and The Good Food Guide.

Upon arriving in Oxford, I had to take a 30-minute cab ride to reach the suburb of Wolvercote. Waiting for me at the entrance was the restaurant manager, Diamond Love, who led me to the bar area. It had elegant yet comfy Chesterfield sofas that sharply contrasted with farmhouse furniture and Union Jack flags. At the center is the bar area, where guests and villagers gather to get their daily pint of ale. From where I was seated, I could see that the people from all around were flocking to the garden outside the pub. The owners have converted it into an outdoor dining area with deck chairs and an outdoor grill. It was apparent that Jacobs Inn was becoming the center of the village life. While the

Village life

To get to Jacobs Inn, I took a train to Oxford from London’s Paddington Station.

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grown-ups were enjoying their pints of ale on a warm spring day, the children were happily feeding the pigs and the chickens in one section of the garden. However, according to Diamond, these kids were not allowed to name the animals as they were destined for the dining table one day. Diamond then escorted me to the dining room. The old wooden posts and the rough timber beams in the ceiling contrasted with the elegant wooden furniture. The dining room was then accentuated with simple touches like old posters, candles in mason jars, and ketchup bottles for vases. Diamond then handed me the menu. Jacobs Inn specializes in updated traditional British comfort food. Aside from favorites


like steak, kidney pie, and smoked haddock, they have reworked classic dishes such as bubble and squeak, a dish of fried patties that British housewives cook to use leftover vegetables. Jacobs Inn’s updated version is made with fresh vegetables and served with creamed spinach and a fried egg.

Crackling cuisine

According to Diamond, the menu changes every month to take advantage of the available fresh food in the season. Currently in charge of preparing the menu and the food is Chris Kennedy, who comes with an impressive background working in a number of hotels and fine dining restaurants in the Oxford area. Since I was visiting on a Sunday, Diamond suggested that I try a traditional Sunday British roast (£ 14). I later found out that Sunday was the day British families gathered to eat roast meat together for lunch. Jacobs Inn also offered lamb, pork, and chicken with this favorite. In the end I decided on the roast pork with crackling. But first I started with a crispy brawn terrine with house chutney and grilled sourdough (£ 5.5). A brawn is a traditional English recipe that involves meat jelly made with the head of the calf, pig, or a boar. The slippery texture of the terrine stood out with a bit of meat flavor. This was accentuated by the sharp flavor of the green sprouts and a dab of sweet chutney. The roast looked gorgeous. The chef had plated the dish by ladling in the red wine gravy first. He then topped it with the braised red cabbage and the slices of roast, to be crowned with strips of the crispy crackling. Eating this dish from the top down, I was amazed at how each layer revealed a variety of flavors and texture such as how the crispy crunchy crackling stood in contrast to the soft pork meat. Needless to say my stomach was satisfied by the time I reached the bottom of the plate. But full as I was, I still had to face dessert which was a cherry bakewell tart (£6). This is an English dessert, composed of a shortbread pastry crust that was spread with jam and topped with a sponge-like filling enriched with ground almond. This was then covered with a fondant icing and cherries on top. I know it sounds heavy, but it seemed a waste not to touch it. But with a cup of coffee and a long chat with Diamond, I was able to devour every last bit of the tart. Truly British cuisine has come a long way.

Open daily 9am – 10pm 130 Godstow Road, Oxford OX2 8PG, UK www.jacobs-inn.com Note: A 10% service charge may be added to parties of five or more

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1 Family Sunday gatherings have become a tradition in Jacobs Inn 2 Children are allowed to feed the animals that Jacobs Inn raise 3 Jacobs Inn lights up for the night 4 The main meal, roast pork with crackling, is mouth-watering 5 British bar maids serve the bread 6 The serenity in the place makes it perfect for breakfast 7 Diamond Love, Jacobs Inn host 8 And now for dessert, the Cherry Bakewell Tart

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isle of the Huma, this high-end destination in Palawan, is the Philippines’ equivalent of the Maldives Words by Tet Defensor

The stunning beauty of the archipelago is captured in Huma, an island pendant in Busuanga, Palawan. The island resort and spa is making a mark in the international travel scene for its breathtaking view, luxurious accommodations, and impeccable dive sites. Divers are not only treated to the heavenly marine sanctuary underwater, but also get to appreciate the sunken Japanese warships and planes while on deep sea cruise. Like Maldives, Huma has been cited as one of the best diving sites in the world. The abundant marine life is heaven to those who love to snorkel and scuba dive. Huma has facilities for other water adventures like jet skiing and hobie cat sailing; its dive center is accredited by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Families who wish to enjoy the sights can go island-hopping and explore the island's rain forest landscape.

A dot of cozy huts on the shore is one of the first things that the first-time visitor will see upon arriving on the island

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travelluxe

elite

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(This page) Luxurious living runs like an undercurrent theme in every aspect of the resort, from therapeutic massages, infinity pools, to the dining room (Opposite) Two choices when you just want to crash: on a lazy lounge on the beach (top) or the first-class amenities of your hotel room (bottom)

The legend

The posh Huma experience is actually backed up by a legend. A visit to their website reveals an interesting story of a galleon called Huma during the 13th Century, at the height of the historical galleon trade. The cargo ship carried spices, opium, tobacco, cutlery, and textile from the Middle East. According to the legend, Huma had a daring and flamboyant captain named Ibrahim, a successful merchant

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known for selling only the finest goods. Huma carried rare and exquisite items which the captain charmingly peddled. Ibrahim stood out from among the merchants because of the luxurious goods onboard Huma, a reflection of the captain's fine taste. One day, while on voyage at the South China Sea, the ship was caught in a violent storm. A giant wave knocked the ship off balance, throwing Ibrahim and his crew off deck.

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The men could not get back to the ship and were washed ashore. The storm was miraculously gone the next morning. As Ibrahim and the rest of the ship's crew opened their eyes, they were all amazed by the enchanting sight before them. The crystal clear waters revealed miles and miles of beautiful corals and sea creatures. Ibrahim decided to live in the island so he built a house using pieces from the old ship; he included an open area, which he called Huma or a place where locals and visitors gathered to celebrate or just to watch the beautiful sunset.

The discriminating traveler

Huma has the most number of water villas in the country. Each villa has its own private jacuzzi and is equipped with individual wireless local area network (WLAN). Huma is also the first to have the spa treatment rooms with glass flooring wherein guests can actually see the corals and schools of fish while enjoying the spa treatments.

To this day, the sun basks in beauty as it lends warmth to travelers to the island. The heavenly destination is specially created for those who wish to enjoy a quiet weekend, topped with personalized, luxurious service. Huma Island is for the discriminating traveler who looks forward to enjoying a quiet dinner by the beach. Huma officially opened in December 2013. According to Darlene Achumbre of Huma Island's sales and marketing team, Huma has managed to cause a stir in the competitive industry though still in its "soft-opening stage.” Darlene says, "As the first Maldivian-inspired luxury resort in the country, we are creating a new face in Philippine tourism. We are the first to have the most number of water villas in the country (64 out of 81 villas). Each villa has its own private jacuzzi and is equipped with individual wireless local area network (WLAN). We are also the first to have the spa treatment rooms with glass flooring wherein guests can actually see the corals and schools of fish while enjoying the spa treatments." And while the new property enjoys the attention, management makes sure that their guests still enjoy the privacy they deserve. Darlene continues, "The elite travelers are looking for exclusivity where they can still live their preferred lifestyle. Our focus is on the experience of traveling to a destination they love, from private beach dinners to a sunset cocktail to nearby island tours. Our goal is to make their stay memorable and amazing."

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TThe panoramic landscape alone seems to make time stand still, which enhances the sense of peace experienced during yoga or during a private lunch time with friends.

Owned and managed by United International Hotels Group, Huma offers top-of-the line pampering. Aside from the water sports facilities, it has spa pavilions with glass floors that were built over the blue waters. Guests can actually watch the colorful marine life by gazing at the glass floor. Huma's spa services feature a host of massage treatments administered by trained therapists. The spa also carries a range of herbal oil and other treatments based on the Ayurveda healing philosophy. It also has an authentic Hamman steam bath for those who wish to cap their

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treatment with warm steam. Huma also has several food outlets. "Considering that the resort is a secluded island, we have eight dining outlets which offer specialty cuisines like Lebanese, Italian, International, Seafood and Grill, and Wines and Cheese bars," Darlene says. For Lebanese cuisine there is Al Fairuz. Al Dente restaurant serves Italian dishes. Seafood lovers can go to On The Harbour. Wine and cheese are served at Rudi's; cocktails at the Blu Bar; and allday international fare at Waves. For those traveling with their family, the resort also has an infinity pool, a kid's

club, a library, a beauty salon and a fitness center. Huma also has a 24-hour Villa Host service that caters to guests' needs.

HOW TO GET THERE Huma is just an hour away from Manila by air. Busuanga is accessible daily via Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Skyjet flights from Manila and Cebu. "Once our own seaplanes will be operational, we can fly our guests directly from Manila Bay and will land directly in front of the villas for only 55 minutes or fly our guests from Busuanga Airport to the resort for only 10 minutes." The high season for Huma is from January to May, and from October to September.


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A “watch” for you wherever you go, whatever you feel, wear or do

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hether as jewelry, work of art, or fashion accessory, a wristwatch is an undisputed modern timekeeping device that one can wear regardless of wherever one’s going, emotional or economic state, or even when making a fashion statement. But what does a good timepiece make? Jose Miguel “Miggy” Cabel Moreno, Operations Manager of SevenFriday Philippines, says every watch has its own character. “Personally, I collect watches that are unique, fashionable and comfortable to wear. If it is Swiss-made, that’s a big plus but above all, it has to be worth every penny.” When it’s all about the type of watch to wear for a particular event or occasion, Miguel says that since people have become bold and experimental when it comes to fashion accessories, a watch can be worn to complete an outfit. “I consider first the occasion then I pick the watch I’ll wear. For me, I personally gravitate towards SevenFriday’s classic pieces like the P1B1 since it fits any occasion, it is stylish and unique at the same time.” For those who travel, especially the fashionistas, Miguel says they would bring a pairing watch for each outfit. However, for practical travelers like him, one pleasing and smart-looking watch that can effectively match any type of outfit will do. He says that planning is key, and that he feels secure having just one watch that he constantly wears. But if there’s a special event, Miguel says he makes sure he has a

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matching one. That is why he loves SevenFriday because it has a lot of uniquely designed timepieces like the P1-3, P1-4 and P1-5. “They are fun and colorful yet versatile, good enough for those who take risks or not, so definitely there is a SevenFriday that matches any personal style.” As a travel essential, Miguel explains that a good and dependable timepiece that does not rely on battery is a travel essential. He said he always relies on his wrist watch to tell time, which gives him a great edge over his friends who can’t tell time because their mobile phone batteries died on them. Traveling should be worry-free, he adds, and every minute well-spent, whether for leisure or business. “SevenFriday watches are dependable and stylish. It’s about time we make them travel essentials.” Even for the moody bunch, whether it’s bright or gloomy, there is a watch one can wear to show his or her emotional state. For Miguel, however, he puts on a watch regardless of his mood since he feels naked without one, which he believes goes for other people, too. “I grew up having to wear a watch. Even in today’s age of smartphones that tell time, I still turn to my ever-dependable wrist watch. And besides, whenever I look at my watch, it is an instant reminder of how much I worked hard for it. Now, that’s a mood-changer, right?” His favorite SevenFriday watch is the P3-3, which always brightens his day, and the world can “bring it on.” It’s his every day, ready-to-wear time-

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Daniel Niederer, founder of SevenFriday

piece. No words needed. Just one look, Miguel said, and people will find out why. And this is why Miguel also believes that watches are also a reflection of financial/economic status, just like driving expensive cars. “Popular watches have been synonymous to fashion, affluence, and power. Most of us aspire for that awesome ride or better timepiece, every time. It is, in a way, showing the world our achievements. No successful person would want to be caught dead driving a beatdown (karag-karag) car or wearing a cheap watch.” SevenFriday is a Swiss watch brand founded in 2012. It is one of the few, if not the only watch brand, to have a distinct square case, and uses movements made by Citizen Miyota. Avid timepiece collectors describe SevenFriday

watches as “bold,” “futuristic” and “inspired by the industrial revolution.” Its time pieces have a very distinct face that is very appealing to consumers, a specific quality that gave SevenFriday a solid niche in the Philippine market. SevenFriday timepieces live up to the phrase “Thank God it’s Friday.” Its industrial design and feel exudes the “Friday” statement on any given day. For more about SevenFriday watches, visit www.sevenfriday. com or like its Facebook page, www.Facebook. com/SevenfridayPhilippines. Visit also their Instagram account, https://instagram.com/ sevenfriday_philippines or Twitter, @ Sevenfridayph.

Miguel Cabel Moreno, Operations Manager of SevenFriday Philippines

Its time pieces have a very distinct face that is very appealing to consumers, a specific quality that gave SevenFriday a solid niche in the Philippine market.


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travelluxe

PARADISE ON EARTH

A pristine beach, gentle waters, a relaxing spa and first-class amenities have made South Palms Resort Panglao a must-visit destination WORDS by Joseph Cortes // Photos by Renjie Tolentino

A grand mixture of colorful outdoor furniture on the South Palms Resort beach front evokes a playful vibe

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Panglao Island is definitely an all-year, all-weather destination that travelers can always enjoy. No matter the time of year you visit for vacation, Mother Nature always has her best foot forward. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 2 3 // 2015

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othing is more compelling than waking up to an unending vista of the sea. The sight of water lapping on the beach, the gentle crash of waves on the shore, the calm horizon of a new day—these are signs beckoning you to come out and enjoy your vacation. And if that beach happens to be the 700-meter-long stretch of powdery white sand at the South Palms Resort Panglao, then you are sure that you will love this journey. South Palms has the biggest stretch of beach on Bohol’s Panglao Island. Many travelers have commented on various online travel portals that its beachfront makes the resort truly “a paradise on earth.” No matter what time of day, no matter the month of year, the expanse of Dumaluan Beach that the resort occupies is your own private hideaway for the duration of your stay.

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Luxurious lazing

There are months when the water is gentle and the beach is pristine; this is the best month to be here. When you wake up in the morning, the sight of the resort’s groundskeepers patiently raking the beachfront of debris and seaweed from the past night’s tide is reassurance that your little feet will not be harmed by little bits of shell and coral when you go out for a walk. During the monsoon season when wind and wave are stronger, the beach might not be an all-day affair. But you can be sure that there will be patches of calm when you can have fun on the shore, laze on the numerous lounges scattered throughout the beach, and simply enjoy yourself. Panglao Island is definitely an all-year, all-weather destination that travelers can always enjoy. No matter the time of year you visit for vacation, Mother Nature always has her best foot forward. South Palms Resort Panglao is a 9.3-hectare complex within a bigger 43-hectare property. The resort occupies part of what used to be the massive complex of nearby Bohol Beach Club. If you’ve been here before, you would know that the changes are purely cosmetic. The old resort’s set-up of rooms has been retained, giving guests the privacy they desire. The interiors have been refreshed for a more modern tropical feel. The grounds have also been simplified to maximize sightlines of the beach and pathways to the rooms.

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Unobstructed view

The beach is just a few steps away from any point within the resort. Its sound is an omnipresent companion the whole day, whether you are just chilling at the receiving area outside your room or lounging on the assortment of furnishings by the beachfront—lounges, beanbags, a canopy seat, and a number of decksized swings, some with cushions and throw pillows for comfort. The sea is a constant at South Palms Resort. However, if you need a change from saltwater to freshwater, you can splash your cares away at the Coast Pool, the infinity pool at the center of the resort that has an unobstructed view of Bohol Sea. You can simply hang out here, perhaps as you have cocktail and chow from the nearby Coast Pool Bar—with its colorful retro bubble chairs that have become the resort’s trademark—or as you wait for hunger pangs to settle and make your way to the Oceanica Seafood Restaurant, which is just beside the pool. The restaurant serves buffet breakfast and dinner and a menu of a la carte favorites. Live seafood is available for those who want something prepared to suit their fancy. On the other hand, those staying in the resort’s east wing have access to the East Pool; yes, they can literally run from their beds and splash-dive into the pool.

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1 One of South Palms' many Deluxe Beachfront rooms. Hear the soft splashing waves every morning to wake you up refreshed and recharged 2 Palm, The Spa, located at the Garden level of South Palms Resort, is the place one indulges in various rejuvenating services and treatments designed to relax and reenergize your weary bodies—and souls 3 Your own jacuzzi while the beach beckons. What more can you ask for? 4 South Palms Resort Panglao makes sure guests feel a tropical vibe wherever they are within the resort 5 Soothe your tired bodies after a long day at one of Palm, The Spa's treatment rooms by the beach 6 The facade of South Palms Resort's premium accommodations, the Panglao Villa, which has its own private jacuzzi


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The resort has 90 rooms in seven categories spread throughout the resort. The west wing has deluxe beachfront and garden view rooms, while the east wing has deluxe pool view and premium beachfront rooms. There are three suite rooms with marvelous access to the beach. The Panglao Villa is the biggest with a 145-square meter space, while the South Palms Villa at the end of the east wing is a cozy 112 square meters. The Beach Villa, which is centrally located and is nearest the resort’s restaurant and bar, is an intimate 70 square meters.

Every need anticipated

If you need to check your emails, or go online to upload photos of yourself enjoying your break, the resort offers 24-hour free Wi-Fi access in guest rooms and public areas. And as in luxury establishments, rooms are equipped with hot showers, cable TV, a 32-inch LED TV, a mini-bar, coffee maker/tea service, and an

in-room safe. There are umbrellas in each closet, but should you find yourself without one during a drizzle, the resort staff will only be too glad to lend you one. And should you forget to bring along a trusty pair of flip-flops, each room has a couple of pairs of rubber sandals for your use during your stay. It is not all beach at South Palms Resort. Its Palm, The Spa has four beachfront treatment cabanas where experienced therapists can soothe tired muscles as you breathe in fresh air and enjoy the view. The cabanas come with drapes that can be lowered to give you the privacy you need during your treatment. And there are more. To make your stay complete, the resort has a full-service gym, a dive shop, tennis court, gift shop, and a traveland-tour desk if you need assistance to see the sights around Bohol. There’s even an ATM machine just in case you need cash when you decide to go on a drive to nearby Alona Bach, the happening place on Panglao Island. For the convenience of guests, the resort offers free EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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travelluxe shuttle service to and from the resort and Alona Beach during the day. At the end of your visit, after you’ve had your fill of the sea and peace and quiet in the resort and when you realize how much you’ve enjoyed your stay at South Palms Resort Panglao, you still marvel at how seamless the service you received during your stay. It is the hallmark of Boholano hospitality: that feeling that someone has second-guessed your needs. The staff is genial and attentive to your needs, always interested in knowing whether you are having a good time or if there is more they can do for you. As you board the van that will take you back to the airport in Tagbilaran City on your way home, you realize that you’ve spent too short a time at South Palms Resort Panglao—a return trip should be forthcoming. No matter the time of year, you can be sure that you will find the rest and recreation that you deserve on your next vacation here, because, truly this place is “a paradise on earth.” For inquiries about South Palms Resort Panglao, click on http://www.southpalmsresort.com or email info@southpalmsresort.com.

7 One of several deck-sized swings along South Palms' beachfront, complete with cushion for that comfortable feel 8 The long beachfront of South Palms Resort, one of the longest in the area, makes it a true favorite for honeymooners, families and lovers

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ADVERTORIAL

RETREAT IN LUXURY COMFORT AT SOUTH PALMS

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South Palms Resort Panglao assures guests they’ll have lasting memories after their stay

t is true that when you are on vacation, you expect to spend more time outdoors than indoors. When the outdoors consists of the grand expanse of white sand beach at South Palms Resort Panglao in Bohol, you surely would want to be outside most of the time. However, when the weather turns too hot or if a sudden downpour rains on your parade, it is best to seek solace in the cool comfort of your well-appointed room. At South Palms, all rooms are equipped with amenities you would expect from fivestar accommodations: hot showers, cable TV, a 32-inch LED TV, a mini-bar, coffee maker/ tea service, an in-room safe, and a 24-hour free Wi-Fi access. Of course, all these conveniences add to the luxurious quarters. All rooms are tastefully decorated in a tropical motif. Interiors highlight local craftsmanship. The dark wood floor is a pleasure both to the eyes and feet, while mood lights are hidden in stylized shell motifs that seem to float on the wall that has been given the appearance of finely combed sand. South Palms’s housekeeping executive Virginia Tabanao says it is this design that sets apart the rooms at the resort from other properties in the area. A special touch to all rooms at the resort is

the folded towel that greets guests when they first enter their rooms. The bath towels are shaped in the form of animals, depending on the room’s occupants. The standard design is a turtle; for rooms with children, the towel is folded into a dog. Couples on their honeymoon are given a towel folded into a swan to serve as good luck on their relationship. Tabanao says folding towels might be extra work for the resort’s housekeeping staff, but she points out that they are only too happy to give their guests something to look forward to during their stay. “We feel disappointed when we have little to make up in a room,” she declares. “Making up a room is just one way for the housekeeping staff to show guests their appreciation for their visit.” She also points out that Uratex, the country’s leading manufacturer of high-quality mattresses and foam products, customized the beds in South Palms Resort.

"A lot of our guests complimented how our beds are extremely comfortable." —Virginia Tabanao, South Palms housekeeping executive

Each bed consists of special pocket coil springs and the extra plush Senso Memory foam, designed to deliver superb sleep comfort. “We’ve received excellent feedback from our guests,” she adds. “A lot of our guests complimented how our beds are extremely comfortable. This is not surprising as the mattresses were not only designed for comfort but it also conforms with our body and reduces pressure points.” The Uratex mattresses are complimented with 300-thread count beddings for a silky, smooth feel. These are completed with largesized goose down pillows for added comfort. Most standard rooms use queen-sized beds. If you want a king-sized bed, you can always opt to upgrade into a suite room. South Palms also prides itself for being eco-friendly. For optimum energy consumption, each room is equipped with inverter air conditioners and LED bulbs. “The bathrooms are properly ventilated, so that there is no need for an exhaust fan. We use window screens that offer natural exhaust and help save the environment,” says Tabanao. Many experienced travelers advise that when we travel, we should take only memories and leave only footprints. At South Palms Resort Panglao, guests are assured that they have helped preserve the local environment as they enjoy themselves on their vacation. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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travelluxe

THE PLEASURE IN VARIETY

Timeless favorites, international delights, and creative cuisine make dining exciting in South Palms Resort Panglao WORDS by Joseph Cortes // Photos by Renjie Tolentino

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lphard Somosot has the best job in the world. As executive chef of South Palms Resort Panglao, every day is like a vacation. Compared with his previous jobs at prestigious Parisian establishments such as 58 Tour Eiffel and Rech by Alain Ducasse, the demands at South Palms are more laidback. Since he joined the resort’s culinary team last November 2014, Somosot has introduced changes to the resort’s menu to reflect what is locally available and in season: fresh seafood and vegetables that are specially grown within the resort. While

The popular prawn mango salad with bacon-wrapped sauteed prawns, ripe mango, grapes, mixed greens with roasted sesame dressing and crispy potato strips

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the a la carte menu contains standard Filipino and international favorites, a separate tabletop menu of weekly specials highlights the chef’s flair for French cooking. During our visit, the week’s special entrée was buttered poached lobster with mango beurre blanc, potato gnocchi, and tarragon oil. Lobster might be farthest from the minds of diners at the resort considering that there is a selection of live fish to be had—and he does tell us that live fish is quite popular among Chinese and Korean guests. However, the special menu is a convenient way of discovering Somosot’s talent.

Buttered poached lobster described in one word: delicieuse!

Customized and global The chef says the South Palms kitchen is quite flexible when it comes to guest requests. Often, it would mean preparing a simple dish that a guest wants. Europeans look for something simple and easy, such as a plate of buttered pasta. Koreans want fish cooked as they are accustomed to having it back home. Such demands are part of the service experienced chefs are used to providing diners. However, there have been special occasions where Somosot had been challenged by guests with strict dietary demands. He recalls a group of guests from India who were vegans and allergic to certain vegetables. He planned the menu in advance and specially prepared their meals for them. He says he felt a sense of accomplishment when he got their thumbs up at the end of each meal. But those occasions come few and far between. On most days, work at the kitchen would mean planning the specials to put out for the dinner buffet. Depending on the nationality of the guests at the moment, it could mean some spicy beef ribs for Koreans and steamed fresh pampano for Filipino and Chinese guests. It also helps that the South Palms buffet is extensive enough to have stations for live cooking. There are pasta, tempura, and Mongolian stations where chefs can prepare your order a la minute. There is also a special section for children featuring favorites such as spaghetti and fried chicken tenders.


Guests who choose to go full board have free breakfast and dinner buffet meals included in their room packages. It is an easy way to have a delicious meal at South Palms. However, the a la carte menu, which is available for lunch and dinner, has a number of delightful things worth trying.

Special and original The buttered poached lobster is one original dish. The mango beurre blanc is sauce that is both sweet and tart. The addition of tarragon oil gives the dish a freshness to contrast with the rich taste of the lobster. The steamed pampano is likewise just as delectable, with the soy-ginger sauce contrasting with the sweet flesh of the fish. Somosot had us try a special that he was working on at the time: Malaysianstyle fish curry. To temper the tart taste of tamarind in the curry, he added pineapples into the dish by stuffing the lapu-lapu with a pineapple salsa and adding its juice to the sauce. It has the spicy kick you associate with curry, but the pineapple provides the

winning balance it needs. Other additions to the menu include two salads that are meals in themselves. The summer salad is a mélange of watermelon, mesclun greens, walnuts, red onions, and feta cheese with a balsamic reduction. Think of it as a Greek salad with extra walnut pieces. The prawn mango salad comes with bacon-wrapped sautéed prawns, ripe mango, and grape pieces on a bed of mixed greens with roasted sesame dressing and crispy potato strips. A popular dessert is a take on the Boholano halayang ube, served with coconut jam and mango ice cream. The resort also has a number of drinks that are unique to them. There’s the mango and strawberry smoothie, which is a blend of sweet mangoes and strawberry puree. Think of it as a marriage of tropical and temperate fruits. Do try the Peanut Kisses and Special Blend, a shake with the goodness of milk and sweet Peanut Kisses. Don’t wait until pasalubong shopping to indulge on this Boholano treat. Now, you can also drink it, too.

The cozy interiors of South Palms Resort's famous Oceanica Seafood Restaurant

Succulent steamed pampano

South Palms Resort Panglao is located at Brgy. Bolod, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines. You can call (+63 38) 502.8288, (+63 38) 502.9106 (fax) or (+63) 9177167609 (mobile) or call tollfree, 1-800-1888-7777. You can also email inquiries via info@southpalms resort.com or visit their website, www. southpalmsresort.com or Facebook page, www.Facebook.com// SouthPalmsResortPanglao You may also contact their Cebu Sales Office at the Colonnade Mandaue, Mandaue City Cebu, Philippines. Call (+63) 917.304.8062 or email cebusales @southpalmsresort.com. South Palms Resort's Manila Sales office is located at 2013 Jose Abad Santos Avenue, Manila, Philippines. Call (+63 02) 708.8358, 935.7515, (+63) 917-3116590 (mobile) or email mnlsales@southpalmsresort.com

South Palms' Summer Salad: a merry mix of colors designed to tickle the palate

Chef Alphard Somosot

Boholano Halayang Ube a la South Palms lets your sweet tooth take over your dining experience

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encounter of. Through the PRA, foreign retirees who want to make the Philippines their international retirement destination can now choose from 4 SRRV options: SRRV SMILE—for active / healthy principal retirees 35 year old and above who would just like to maintain their Visa deposit of US$20,000.00 in any of the PRA designated banks; SRRV CLASSIC—for active / healthy principal retirees who would opt to use their Visa deposit of US$10,000.00 or US$20,000.00 (50 years old & above) or US$50,000.00 (35 to 49 years old) to purchase condominium units or use for long term lease of house and lot; SRRV COURTESY—for former Filipinos (35 years old & above), and foreign nationals (50 years old & above) who have served in the Philippines as diplomats, ambassadors, officers/staff of international organizations. The visa deposit is US$1,500.00. SRRV HUMAN TOUCH— for ailing principal retirees (35 years old and above), who are shown to have medical/clinical needs and services. Under Attractive benefits await those who qualify this option, the retiree only needs to have a Visa deposit for the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa of US$10,000.00, a monthly pension of at least US$1,500.00 and live in the Philippines for The Philippine Retirement and a Health Insurance Policy. as long as they want. An SRRV Authority (PRA) is a governPRA believes in giving equal holder may come in and out of ment-owned and controlled attention to the retirees by the country as often as he decorporation mandated to attract sires, and enjoy privileges such improving the quality of service foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to invest, reside, as exemption from securing the and meeting their satisfaction ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of to create a more effective operaand retire in the Philippines. It Registration Immigration Card) tion by means of partnerships develops and promotes the Philwith other government offices, from the Bureau of Immigraippines as a retirement haven Philippine-based foreign comtion; exemption from paying with an objective of accelerating the social and economic develop- travel tax at Philippine airports; panies, real estate developers, and tour and travel agencies. and exemption from getting a ment of the country, strengthening its foreign exchange position, Study Permit or Student’s Visa Growing vision for their dependent-children at the same time providing PRA enrolled close to who intend to pursue education further the best quality of life to in the Philippines. PRA retiree- 40,000 foreign retirees, 10% the targeted retirees in the most of which was accumulated last members may also use health attractive package. 2014. This was made possible cards issued abroad among The Special Resident Philippine hospitals and clinics through the continuous service Retiree's Visa (SRRV), which which are accredited by selected and dedication of PRA employis a non-immigrant, multipleees grounded on the core values health card companies. They entry, indefinite-stay visa is the (social responsibility, good govmay also avail of the one-time Authority’s core product. The ernance, innovation, teamwork, tax-free importation of housenumber of retiree-members repintegrity and discipline). hold goods/personal effects; resents an extremely important Over a sustained period of and many more. contribution to PRA's success. A Principal Retiree must be time, PRA has been among the at least 35 years old to enjoy the Government Owned and ConVisa options trolled Corporations (GOCCS) above benefits that only SRRV The SRRV allows all its forconsistently remitting annual holders are privileged to avail eign retiree-members to retire

THE PHILIPPINE RETIREMENT AUTHORITY: SURGING TOWARDS THE NEXT 30

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dividends to the national treasury. For the year 2014, PRA handed over and remitted a dividend in the amount of Php 144, 501, 127.18. Last year, it earned a net income after tax of P289.97 million and generated a Return on Investment (ROI) of 459% for that year. Thirty years ago today, the PRA was established with this vision: to be one of the leading and significant retirement destinations in the whole world and committing to the government, people, and retirees a standard of excellence in service. PRA continues to strive for more ways in making the Philippines an exceptional retirement haven, thus generating the market, looks forward to pursuing its essential duties, and aspires to be one of the best players in the growing retirement industry.

The Philippines ranked 17th out of 194 countries in the Global Retirement Index. Also, Forbes Magazine included the Philippines on the list of the "20 Best Foreign Retirement Havens for 2015." Truly with the Philippines’ unique factors and PRA's efforts, it will not be surprising for all of us that at a future time, the country will be one of the best players in the global retirement industry. Each year, International Living, a publishing group, ranks the best places in the world to live, retire, travel, and invest using the Global Retirement Index. The Philippines ranked 17th out of 194 countries. Also, Forbes Magazine included the Philippines on the list of the "20 Best Foreign Retirement Havens for 2015". For the Philippine Retirement Authority, it may sound cliché, but the best has yet to come.


SPECIAL FEATURE EXPERIENCE Travel & Living

Vol. 2 // No. 3 // 2015

CEBOOM!

Spellbound by Cebu's creme de la creme Experience Travel and Living highlights some of the finest and most alluring destinations in the island province of Cebu with regard to top-notch accommodations and gastronomic delights. Be enthralled by Zubuchon's lechon-based concoctions and other delights that made it a household name. Savor your chocolate cravings and other simple joys through magnificent, tradition-rich chocolate making that only Ralfe Gourmet can offer. Or bask in Cebu's fab and chic Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa or Moevenpick Hotel and Resort and discover why Cebuanos are among the elite when it comes to offering the most gratifying vacation hideaways this side of the country.

Who wouldn't want to take a walk amid a gloriously sunbathed yet breezy beachfront?

P H OTO C O U R T E S Y O F M O E V E N P I C K H OT E L A N D R E S O R T

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STAY IN SPLENDOR

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The Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa redefines luxury vacation in the heart of Cebu Words by Reggie Rullan // PHOTOS BY GABRIELLE BORROMEO

In 1521, Mactan Island became the battle ground where Ferdinand Magellan failed to subdue Lapu-Lapu and capture Zubu (now known as Cebu). This very island that resisted the changes that the Spanish crown wanted to implement is now the same precursor to modern Cebu's capitulation to change. From a sleepy coastal town, to a bustling industrial economy to a booming tourist destination, Mactan has grown to embrace the many "scapes" it has become. A traveler can indeed combine business and leisure in Cebu. It has evolved into a major city, port and tourist destination in the South and attracts investments and expatriates to its shores. Locals say that some tourists who fly to Cebu directly often do not know that it is part of the Philippines as it was marketed as a stand-alone getaway. Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, the first luxury resort in Mactan, wowed locals and tourists alike when it first opened in 1993. It has the biggest hotel venue for large groups. It has consistently been the home of international conventions since it opened. Trailblazing its way in the thriving tourism industry in the Cebu province, it presented a resort scene like no other with its sprawling thirteen (13) hectares.

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Sumptuous cuisine

The sprawling space hosts lush gardens and grassy enclaves that provide a quiet stroll after a flurry of resort activities or even just a busy work day in the city. The shoreline with an expansive beach area with white sands provides the open space that one seeks to unwind and relax. As Director for Sales and Marketing Albert Latade claims, "There really is no comparison with any other resort or hotel in Cebu province." To maintain its brand of hospitality quality in such a property is indeed quite a challenge. The team that is tasked to execute such standard of service is well equipped to meet the expectations of guests that may have travelled from distant places or just from the city for a staycation. To test these claims, this writer stayed for three days in an ocean view deluxe room. After a quiet walk in the flower-filled gardens where I took in the sweeping view of the seascape, I had lunch at the Tea of Spring. Chef Boon who, eight years to date, is at the helm of the resort’s Chinese fine dining restaurant, launched his signature X.O. sauce on the very day we dined at the Tea of Spring. Served alongside


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1 Thirteen hectares of sprawling space that hosts lush gardens, a white-sand beach, and classy accommodations 2 Filipino high tea at the Lobby Lounge 3 Sikwate (Traditional Filipino Hot Chocolate) 4 Filleto di manzo in salsa al gorgonzola (Beef tenderloin in gorgonzola cheese sauce served with roasted potatoes and caramelized shallots 5 Assorted macaroons 6 Di tutto un po' salumi e formaggi (selection of the finest Italian cold cuts and cheeses served with rocket salad)

fried peanuts, a dip into the X.O. sauce opens one’s palate to the smoky chilies, the savory famed Yunnan ham, dried scallops, and fried garlic. The salty, spicy, slightly sweet umami hit one gets is an eye-closing experience. This sauce, originating from Hong Kong in the 80's and now interpreted in Mactan by a Malaysian-Chinese chef who imports all the ingredients from China, is a testament to how Cebu has become a culinary attraction in its own right. Chef Boon uses this sauce in his prawn dish in an egg noodle nest, and the briny salty sweet smokiness envelopes the crystal tender shellfish meat. Paired with the luxurious fried rice made with dried scallops and topped with a fork-tender giant U.S. scallop, the sheer pleasure on the palate equaled that of viewing the garden scape provided by the picture windows right across our dining table. An eight-treasure soup made of dried scallops, fresh scallops, prawns, mushrooms, fresh lump crab, shirred eggs, grouper fish pieces, and tender squid chunks was made with a fish bone and Yunnan ham bone broth that boiled for several hours, creating a rich soulThe development of the sea satisfying hot course. The line of the resort into an unmistakable smoky flavor outdoor restaurant and lent by the ham bone to the bar creates a tourism spot savory confection sealed that is a class of its own. the deal on this starter

dish. Yunnan ham is hard to get, and having soup made from its bone is an entirely different treat. The sticky sweet and tart pork ribs of Chef Boon was a welcome turf counterpoint to his surf offerings. His secret, he revealed, is the vinegar he imports from China with a tanginess that becomes the finishing flavor for the rich pork. Mock chicken for vegetarians is not an off-putting chewy vegetable-based meat but a tender chunk of "meat" blanketed in oyster sauce and enriched with dumplings made of tofu skins and filled with mushrooms, carrots, and jicama. For dessert, Chef Boon wowed us with mango mochi balls, with rice wrappers that are cold on the palate yet soft and sticky, stuffed with chilled fluffy thick sweet cream and chopped mangoes. The cold sweetness of it all was akin to being deposited in a cloud after a satisfying meal that makes one forget the call of the ocean and the allure of the soft sand.

Safety and seclusion

Off to my room I went, thinking of the soft bed and array of pillows I could sink into until it was time for dinner. I dispelled the siren call of the sea view and pulled the heavy curtains together. Just in time, the bed was already turned down and I slipped into the comfort of the covers, forgetting that I should instead be outdoors basking in the sun in my beachwear. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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Eons of hours away, I woke up refreshed and ready for a walk. The well-manicured grounds were awash in the garden lighting. As I headed toward the Cowrie Cove, I spotted two gazebos at the end of the boardwalks flanking the outdoor restaurant. Gauzy curtains provided privacy and a reprieve from sunlight during the day. A seafood basket laden with the catch from neighboring shores all the way to Bohol and Leyte—such as lobsters and prawns grilled island style (salt and pepper)—allowed the seafood flavors to speak for themselves. The freshness of the seafood showed it had no condiments. One can enjoy the bounties of the sea seaside at the Cowrie Cove with the salty breeze caressing one's face. The development of the sea line of the resort into an outdoor restaurant and bar creates a tourism spot that is a class of its own. The guests enthused with the privacy, safety and seclusion of the cove, bereft of solicitors and other tourist hazards, show that there is indeed a demand from local and foreign tourists for a gold standard in resort amenities and facilities. The walkway to the private gazebos invited one to go further into the sea, with the bracing winds fluttering the gauzy curtains to the sway of the waters. A corner table and a couple of chairs allowed for a combination of drinks, snacks, and desserts to be partaken in a mini getaway within the Shangri-La getaway. The activities provided by the hotel for different age groups make it a family resort. Toddlers have an area with art and play materials provided. Bigger kids up to the teens have an adventure zone with hanging bridges, drop slides, a ball pit and a multiple level maze where they can burn extra energy. The pools around the resort provide different sceneries, some surrounded by garden and others have a sea view. The pools with

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the slides for different ages are enough to delight any water sprite, young or otherwise. The resort is also host to marine species that it vigilantly protects in the marine sanctuaries around its property. In fact, six hectares of the property are devoted to the use of its marine sanctuary. The extent of the resort’s commitment is shown in employing vast resources to this end. It has been the recipient of the ASEAN Green Hotel Standard at the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2008 held in Bangkok, Thailand. When weather permits, there is a daily schedule for snorkeling free for all checked-in guests. The group tour includes flippers, a life vest, and snorkeling set. The group swims into the marine sanctuary and observes schools of fish, clams, and corals. The schools of fish surround the group and the participants are given fish food to attract them closer.

Premium experience

One of the strengths of the resort is the availability of a diverse cuisine executed with skill and passion. At the Acqua, its flagship Italian restaurant, pasta lovers are drawn to the mainstay favorites like the porcini mushroom pasta, a luxurious dish with the rich cream and earthy prized fungi abundantly speckling the fresh-made tagliatelle. Starters like tuna and beef carpaccio were a fresh rendition of the meats with a drizzle of lemon and extra virgin olive oil; they were a rich, light offering before the main courses. For dessert, the panna cotta trio was a smooth and creamy confection with just the right amount of milk. The lemon sorbet with assorted fresh fruits in season was a refreshing cap to end the evening. A stroll in the extensive grounds was in order to burn the


calories from the Italian feast. A weekend at the Shangri-La Mactan was an unforgettable experience: the sheer luxury of the well manicured grounds; the soft bed and down covers; the warm and courteous greetings of the resort staff; the number of pools; the private gazebos jutting out into the sea; the seaside restaurant outlets; the buffets at the Tides laden with a bounty of surf-andturf choices; and complementing the well-loved local dishes, the authentic international cuisine— Japanese, Korean, European and American. The opening of Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in 1993 has brought Cebu to the fore of the tourism industry in Asia. Since then, it has won various awards from international award-giving bodies and has been credited as one of the reasons for spurring tourism now widely known as "Ceboom." For more information visit www.shangri-la.com/cebu

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7 Two choices when you want to swim: the pool and the beach 8 Wokfried prawns in XO sauce 9 US fresh scallop with crystal crab meat and dried scallop fried rice 10 Steamed Lapu-Lapu fillet and enoki mushroom with truffle oil 11 Sichuan vegetarian chicken with bean curd sheet dumplings 12 Chef Boon Bun Hoe of Tea of Spring

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PARTY IBIZA-STYLE Spanish "dinner-theater" at its best at Cebu’s Moevenpick Hotel

Words by Reggie Rullan // Photos by GabRIELLE Borromeo

The Cebu entertainment and culinary scene has "changed," to say the least, since the Ibiza party scene was introduced by the Moevenpick Hotel and Resort, complete with enthralling shows that showcase local singing and fire-dancing talents who exclusively perform at the Ibiza Beach Club. The Moevenpick’s Ibiza concept focuses on highlighting performance—and this is where the conceptualizers of this kind of entertainment, Manny Osmeña and Paco Beltran, prove that Cebu entertainers are world-class. Beltran himself was brought in from Ibiza, Spain. Ibiza is a three-island paradise which treats the whole day as just one big great party. The challenge for Beltran was to enhance the amazement within the already amazing scenery that Moevenpick created in Mactan, Cebu, Philippines.

Setting the stage To create his perfect party atmosphere, Beltran created a wish list. First, he asked for the most alluring lighting system, one that is colorful but is not glaring to the eyes.

Then he put up a powerful sound system, one that is easy to the ears, allowing the customers to talk while the music is playing loud enough to be heard and enjoyed by everyone else. Then he had designers come up with head-turning costumes, as colorful and beautiful like a fashion show right before one's eyes. In other words, together, Osmeña and Beltran created an all-out entertainment package. I’ve watched the show three times over a year, and I can say that the same performers each earned a 100-percent increase in skill complemented by the lighting, video, sound, music, and choreography. Their performance is a wonder to behold. It then is not surprising that Moevenpick’s Ibiza has received invitations to perform from other international hotels. It has become a farm of talents, a place where talent and skill are honed and nurtured. Beltran says they are now looking for more performers with great potential and whom they can train, in order to bring their shows to other hotels and resorts outside of the country.

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Feasting and fun Performers dance to popular music ranging from Latin, Brazilian, Broadway, pop, and retro, while appreciative guests dine on Brazilian barbecues or churrascoes and other culinary delights.

As of this writing, the shows have become a mixture of dinner and theater at the Ibiza Beach Club. Performers dance to popular music ranging from Latin, Brazilian, Broadway, pop, and retro, while appreciative guests dine on Brazilian

6 1 Lounge around or enjoy the morning sun and relaxing breeze outside of the Ibiza Beach Club at Moevenpick Hotel, Mactan Island, Cebu 2 Bask in modern architectural wonder that Moevenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu offers, especially during the night time 3 Wine and dine at the swanky Ibiza Beach Club and be allured by its soothing interiors 4 Paco Beltran, one of the geniuses behind the Ibiza beach party concept of the hotel 5 Seafood Tabouleh, one of the many favorites at Moevenpick's Sails Restaurant 6 Performers like these ones dance to the beat of a diverse set of music, courtesy of Ibiza Beach Club's international DJ

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barbecues or churrascoes and other culinary delights. The feast begins by choosing one's appetizer and salad in a buffet bar beside the grilling station. The wait staff then serve on rotation skewered Angus prime rib eye, grilled succulent chicken thighs, ostrich meat, lamb, and fall-of-the bone baby back and beef ribs. Deep fried pork belly provides a contrast to the grilled meats. An unending array of seafood—lobsters, sizable prawns, tender paprika-rubbed squid and parrot fish—is paraded to guests who can have their fill of the bounty of the sea. Freshly chopped parsley, oregano and garlic in olive oil—chimichurri sauce, yogurt dip, and aioli are served alongside the dishes. Dessert is grilled as well. The Queen Anne variety of pineapples was basted with butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then studded with cloves. It was served with yogurt, honey, and ground pistachios. The sweet, spice-laden light dessert provides the fitting ending to an otherwise high protein indulgence of barbecues.

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7 Experience Cebu's fantastic hideaway that is Moevenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu with its white sandy beach that enthralls everyone 8 A delightful seafood pasta that features the richness of Cebu's edible marine life 9 Prawns; more prawns, please! 10 One of Moevenpick's rooms, drenched in natural light for a truly enticing stay 11 One can't help but take a quick dip and explore the deep, blue waters of the sea that surrounds Moevenpick's glitzy Ibiza Beach Club

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ADVERTORIAL

the shower. Some rooms also have a glass wall at the shower so you can always pull up the curtain outside if you want a view of the whole room. OTHER AMENITIES Once the whole hotel is fully operational, guests can surely enjoy its amenities such as function rooms, business meeting rooms, a fitness center and a pool on the 7th floor with a bar area that offers a great view of the township below. An atrium is situated on the 5th floor where in-house guests are welcome to relax. Ilonggos and their guests will surely love this new destination. Birthdays, weddings and other important events will surely be synonymous to the Richmonde brand in the city. An additional parking space is also being constructed on the lower ground floor of the building.

TAKING THE ILONGGO HOSPITALITY TO THE NEXT LEVEL AT RICHMONDE HOTEL From Ortigas to Eastwood, Richmonde now opens as the most prestigious hotel in Iloilo Iloilo City once again welcomes the world at Richmonde Hotel. Iloilo used to be one of the country's busiest cities in terms of local and international trade during the Spanish era. After several decades of slow growth in steady pace, the city has recently propelled itself as one of the top destinations for meetings, conventions, businesses and travels. With the revitalization of the Iloilo river, old business district and the opening of the new international airport, Iloilo: the City of Love will never be the same again. IN TIME FOR APEC The old airport in Mandurriao, now considered as the new business district of Iloilo, was acquired by Megaworld to be the first and newest township development in Western Visayas. The sprawling 72-hectare property is now bustling with two BPO buildings, other hotels, malls and buildings under construction, the almost-completed iconic Iloilo Convention Center and the recentlycompleted tall Richmonde tower that houses a private company on the lower floors and the hotel on the upper floors. A DESTINATION FOR ALL Made from massive concrete, steel, glass and other materials, the blue shiny tower that is Richmonde is a sight to behold whether you’re standing next to it or from afar. Before you even enter the lobby, you’ll notice the high ceiling and be amazed how well the building was designed from the

outside to its interiors.Ilonggos are known to be soft-spoken and accommodating, so don’t be surprised when you see smiling faces greeting you upon arrival at the lobby. The check-in process is fast and hassle-free as long as you have everything you need to present. From the pearl white setting of the main lobby accented by wood and natural materials, you will be led to your rooms. From the hallways, to the elevators up to the rooms, everything just feels so new and pleasing.

COMFORTABLE GUEST ROOMS The rooms are spacious and really cool like you just want to stay there the whole day. Each room is provided with hangers, flat iron & board, safety deposit box, cabinets, mini bar, television, study desk, chairs, lamps, aircon, coffee- and tea-making facility, and most importantly, a soft bed with pillows for that ultimate staycation. The whole space for the rooms is utilized well, the design and placement of furnitures and partitioning of bathrooms are pleasant. The shower area is designed well, you can even sit while having a hydro massage from

MOUTH-WATERING CUISINE Ilonggos are certified food lovers. Known for a lot of dishes and pastries, Iloilo City now has a new dining destination at The Granary that offers local and international dishes in its ala carte menu and during dinner buffets. The famous ensaymada in plain, and ube flavors from Manila are now made here. Other dishes to try at the Granary are the nasi goreng, sinigang, kare-kare, pan-seared Norwegian salmon in beurre blanc sauce and many more.

The breakfast buffet in the morning is a treat that one can always look forward to. From cereals, to the fresh fruits, pancakes, breads, main dishes such as sausages, tuna, eggs, bacon and light desserts in the morning, it was surely a treat to start a great day. One can only wish they have the all-time Pinoy favorite taho like the one in Ortigas. The Bizbar is the coolest hangout place that is open daily from 4pm until midnight. GO OUT AND SEE MORE OF ILOILO Special arrangements can be done with the hotel for special tours given that some of the city’s heritage sites in Jaro are just a few minutes away from the hotel. But don’t miss out on the rest of the beautiful tourist sites in the city and province too! After having a relaxing stay at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, go home feeling great that aside from Ortigas and Eastwood, one can now look forward to having a Richmonde staycation in the city. Definitely, Hotel Richmonde Iloilo is one hotel highly recommended for visitors and tourists coming over to explore or do business in Iloilo City. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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THE CHOCOLATE KINGDOM How Ralfe Gourmet Inc.’s cocoa-created delicacies add to Cebu’s attraction as a must-visit destination WORDS By Gabrielle R. Borromeo // Photos by Cathy O. Oporto

In the Queen City of the South (Cebu City, Philippines), a chocolate empire was born out of passion and tireless dedication, changing the chocolate industry one chocolate creation at a time. It all began with Raquel Choa, now the founder and president of Ralfe Gourmet Incorporated. She grew up in a place that was abundant in cacao trees, and her grandmother Leonila trained Raquel how to plant and make tablea (chocolate discs). She was very passionate in everything she touched and imbued in Raquel the strict regimen of

how to get the best out of a cacao plant. Raquel woke up early in the morning to start work in order to be allowed to attend school and before 6 p.m., she hurried home since she lived in a remote, rebel-infested area. Despite the hectic work and school schedule, she was always an honor student. For a while, Raquel’s chocolate journey came to a pause when she moved to Laguna with her parents. It only resumed a few years later when she married Alfred Choa, a mechanical engineer who now runs his father's food canning business.

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The beginning

While Raquel began making gastronomic concoctions from her imagination, Edu Pantiño was teaching Raquel’s kids and would step in to help make business letters until he became an essential part of the company. Ralfe from Ralfe Gourmet Inc. is the combination of the names Raquel Choa, Alfred Choa and Edu Pantiño. Together this powerful trio built a chocolate empire whose products are brought to different Philippine embassies who give these chocolates as gifts to diplomatic officials in host countries. Back in 2013, in celebration of the 115th Philippine Independence Day, SM City Cebu and Ralfe Gourmet Inc. unveiled the Philippine flag at the Northwing Atrium which was created using 10,000 pieces of their very own assorted chocolate products. The Experience Travel and Living team was invited to visit the headquarters of Ralfe Gourmet Inc. and the cocoa bouquet of the boutique wafted in the air like a chocolate dream. The delectable fountain

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1 Cocoa beans nestled atop a traditional wooden mortar 2 Chocolates covered in either gold or silver neve fail to amaze onlookers 3 Chocolate cakes abound, as if inviting onlookers to try and taste them 4 Longganisa, rice and egg done sunny side up style, fresh greens

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ceboom! overflowing with liquid chocolate is a sight to behold. In the walls were chocolate paintings etched with drawings that each told its own chocolate story. The captivating chandelier that lit the table was laden with what seemed to be a treasure chest of chocolates. There were heavy bars of chocolates, some covered in gold and some covered in silver. There was even a variety of truffles and other chocolate creations by Ralfe Gourmet Inc.

Internationally competitive

Jars of chocolate spreads with a basket of fresh-baked chocolate bread and a tray of satisfying cookies beckoned for a taste. Rolls of tablea and tetra packs of cocoaflavored drinks dazzled one with the array of choices. And right outside when one exits this chocolate kingdom, a garden with cocoa plants and cocoa-themed ornaments catches the eye. All these chocolate confections are in the Queen City of the South, reinforcing its position as one of the Philippines' mustsee destinations.

As Raquel has a genuine love for tablea and her chocolate inventions, she designs them to go further out and make a name for the Philippines. She was challenged the most when a foreigner chef called her chocolates “dirty” because of misinformation that Philippine chocolates are literally made from sweat. She proved not only to this chef but to the whole world that her Philippine chocolates can make it anywhere. Now, the products of Ralfe Gourmet Inc. are sold in selected hotels, both in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. The Department of Agriculture also purchased from Ralfe's Gourmet Inc. and U.S.

President Barack Obama himself has had the chance to taste these chocolates. This is how she helped change the chocolate industry in Cebu City. It showcased her ingenuity as it elevated the Philippine cacao to international standards of chocolate making. The secrets of Ralfe Gourmet's chocolates are all found in the hard work of this boutique where pure cocoa is made into pure chocolate confections.

The magic method

For every visitor, the secret how to make real chocolate is unveiled. The first step is to crack open the

Jars of chocolate spreads with a basket of fresh-baked chocolate bread and a tray of satisfying cookies beckoned for a taste. Rolls of tablea and tetra packs of cocoa-flavored drinks dazzled one with the array of choices. And right outside, a garden with cocoa plants and cocoa-themed ornaments catches the eye. 4

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football-shaped cocoa fruit which looks just like the inside of a guyabano (soursop) fruit—white, soft and moist. As for the taste, it is surprisingly sweet. The second step is to separate the cocoa beans from the meat of the fruit. The third step is crucial. It is the selection of the beans. The fourth step is cleaning the cocoa beans. After these beans are collected, they will be placed in sweat boxes where their chocolate flavor will heighten and develop. This is the fermentation process. The fifth step is drying and roasting the cocoa beans to perfection with controlled heat and a specific amount of time. Last but not least, the sixth step is to remove the shell of the beans in order to lessen the bitter profile of the chocolates.

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For the tour, the traditional way of making chocolate was recreated. A man pounds the beans with a huge wooden mortar and pestle, turning them into a chocolate mass, also called chocolate liquor. Ralfe Gourmet for its scale of production uses machines to pound the roasted cocoa nibs, while the finishing process is still handmade. Unsweetened chocolate is the product that can create confections as numerous as one's imagination. These Ralfe Gourmet products are sold in The Chocolate Chamber (TCC), their homegrown outlet that showcases the art of consuming chocolate. TCC is designed elegantly with clear glass separating the outside space from the inside chamber. The seats are comfortable with additional scarves laid in the backs of chairs for guests to use when feeling chilly. In TCC, one can enjoy, with a date or a group of friends or loved ones, a hot cup of chocolate bliss or a cold one depending on one's pleasure. There are a variety of flavors such as hibiscus, salted caramel, chamomile, orange, vanilla, cinnamon, bubblegum, cherry, malt, etc. There are also a variety of chocolate cakes (vegan, cashew, old-fashioned) and chocolate scones, buns and ensaymadas filled with chocolate liquor and chocolate chunks.

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The Chocolate Chamber is located at P. Quirino Mabolo Street, Cebu City. For more information on The Chocolate Chamber, visit the Facebook page under the same name. For more information on Ralfe's Gourmet, visit www.ralfegourmet.com. 5 Hannah Mae and Jonathan T. Choa 6 It's chocolate treats like these that make people go back for more at The Chocolate Chamber in Cebu 7 Various chocolate paintings etched with drawings that tell a chocolate story 8 Pizza with chocolate, anyone? 9 A tray of satisfying cookies and a cup of fresh, hot chocolate drink is too hard to resist 10 Have a taste of great chocolate and other chocolate-based treats at The Chocolate Chamber that showcases various Ralfe Gourmet products 11 Longganisa with tablea disc on top. Cute!

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Lechon at its most luscious Zubuchon’s reinvention of a staple built a business and caught the eye of Anthony Bourdain WORDS BY REGGIE RULLAN // PHOTOS BY GABRIELLE BORROMEO 1

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Zubuchon—the lechon (charcoal pit-roasted pig) that made Cebuanos take a second look at their homegrown specialty did not start out as a commercial operation. It all began in a family backyard in the Villalon Drive in Cebu where a lechon that tasted like traditional lechon was being reinvented with the innovations of Joel Binamira. His remembrance of his childhood weekends with his grandmother, Dra. Leocadia Binamira, sparked off a search for a lechonero (pig roaster) who could still roast without at least a cup of monosodium glutamate (MSG) massaged in the inside outside of a pig. Binamira also remembered that the caramel color of the skin was different from the

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1 Cracked skin and all, the lechon remains an all-time favorite of Pinoys all over 2 The lechon belly is stuffed with aromatics 3 Skilled lechonero carving out pieces 4 Crisp acupunctured lechon skin 5 A reinvented kinilaw na lechon 6 Refreshing kamias shakes complement the meal

current offerings of lechons in Cebu. The commercial lechons were all basted with soy and torched if an even caramelization was not achieved.

A new approach

And so ten (10) weekend lechon-roasting sessions were set off, with ten different lechoneros imparting their techniques and skills to Binamira. He discovered a particular lechonero who still remembered that there was indeed a time that no MSG nor soy sauce was used in roasting a pig. To flavor the meat, lots of garlic, onion bulbs, leeks, and lemongrass as aromatics were stuffed into the belly. Also, young coconut water was used to spray the skin during roasting and the natural sugars from the juice caramelized the skin.

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Binamira then added his own take on how to best roast pigs and basted the belly with olive oil prior to stuffing. He also added rosemary and thyme in the medley of aromatics that consists of 15 ingredients. And the most controversial innovation he added was to prick the skin all over with a tool he invented himself. The purpose was to allow the skin to crackle as the fat from the pricklings would ooze out during the roasting process. The result is an extra crispy skin never before prepared in such a way in the known lechon history of the Philippines.

To flavor the meat, lots of garlic, onion bulbs, leeks, and lemongrass as aromatics were stuffed into the belly. Also, young coconut water was used to spray the skin during roasting and the natural sugars from the juice caramelized the skin.

The concept of a lechonthemed restaurant came into play when he started experimenting with staple Filipino dishes; he promptly replaced the pork with lechon, highlighting it as a main ingredient in the recipes. Now Bourdain and business Zubuchon has several branches in Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City, His blogs about the lechon serving 1,200 customers a day experiments in www.marketmanila.com caught the attention with 15 roasted pigs. Zubudagat was also opened in the Marina of Anthony Bourdain and the Mall in Mactan. “The idea is to rest is culinary history. With make a main ingredient and the anointing "best pig ever" by apply it to mainstream dishes,” Bourdain in his No Reservations show, public interest in the Binamira explained. Now the locals have acclimalechon sparked a business idea to tized to his lechon and comprise sell it by the kilo in the Banilad Town Center (BTC) on weekends. 60-70% of his customers. The other 30-40% are local or forWhen a stall in the BTC opened for lechon takeout orders, eign tourists. A visit to the outlet was Binamira began to infuse more a lechon experience like no capital in the venture to turn it other. The Experience Travel into a full time business. Soon, and Living (ETL) team wisely the Zubuchon brand became timed its arrival an hour before known and resonated in the a newly roasted lechon was culinary scene in Manila. scheduled to arrive. While waiting, we partook of grilled squid stuffed with sisig 6 served on a sizzling plate. The briny flavor of the seafood perfectly complemented the rich flavors of the finely chopped lechon meat, the liver, pig face and ears. Next we had pritson (fried roast pig) with the crisp skin rolled up and placed atop the fried meat. Dipped in spiced natural coconut vinegar, the double cooked pig is a rewarding treat. Alongside are bowls of chicharon and fried peanuts tossed in tampalen—bits of crisp pork after pure leaf lard are rendered.

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The fresh kamias shakes did the trick and cleansed our palate so we could have one lechon dish after another. Next we had kinilaw na lechon, tossing it in vinegar and adding onions, ginger and finely diced red and green peppers was a refreshing dish, all of which was paired Savoring the meat with plain white rice. Next a platter of lechon with To have a taste of Zubudademocratic assorted cuts from dif- gat, we had a platter of grilled ferent parts and the pricked crisp seafood—scallops, prawns, and skin was served. Eating the lechon squid all grilled with a miniright when it arrives in the store mum of fuss and to the right is the next best thing to eating it tenderness so that the flavors right off from the roasting pit. of the seafood stood out as the

main attraction. We also sampled the seafood kare-kare and the alamang must have been cooked with pure leaf lard as it had that unmistakable richness only pork can deliver. The fried parrot skins served alongside half-inch diced tanguigue kinilaw, raw Spanish mackerel tossed in coconut vinegar, calamansi, chopped onions and peppers, was an inspiration from Binamira's recent trip from South Africa where he was served fish tacos. Using the fried parrot skins as a wafer, one tops it with the

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7 Fresh skin wafers covered with tanguige 8 Chicharon fried in lard, served with peanuts tossed in tampalen 9 Platter of grilled tender squid, sweet prawns, cheesy scallops and tanguigue 10 Fresh, dried seafood to whet your appetite

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kinilaw; a bite is a play of texture and flavor. Crisp fish skin contrasting with the soft cubes of fish, the saltiness of the skin contrasting with the refreshing notes of the kinilaw. The last dish was the platter of assorted dried fish (bulad) featuring danggit, espada, dried squid, fried parrot skins, and a strangelooking paper thin disc called saguyon. This fish fry from Lake Mainit in Samar was crisp, slightly salty and tasted of fresh dried fish. If only we were not filled to the gills with lechon, I would have eaten the bulad platter with rice, kamias and tomatoes. Using as close to natural ingredients as they are available and connecting directly with local suppliers is a procurement process that takes more time and money but spells more satisfaction to Binamira and his staff who have a 20% share in profits every year end. Several suppliers in Cebu and Bohol deliver live pigs according to his specifications. The last two weeks before the slaughter, they are fed fruits and vegetables in addition to non-steroidal pellets. They are slaughtered traditionally by slitting the throat as the pigs die a quicker death this way as compared to a stun gun. Also this makes for a more tender pig who experienced the least stress at the moment of death. Aside from his restaurant outlets, one can dine al fresco in the Zubuchon verandah in Villalon Drive and partake of a fresh roasted lechon right off the pit while its belly is still smoking. Bamboo poles can be used for special orders and special flavors or a specialty stuffing can also be made to order. Asked to define his secret to success, Binamira said it consists of serving "real food, honest food—from the person it is sourced from to the person making it." He added , "I filled a gap in the market at the time I opened Zubuchon where locals can eat lechon by the kilo or bring guests to showcase Cebu specialties." For more information, visit www.zubuchon.com.


TRAVELLite EXPERIENCE Travel & Living

SIQUIJOR: LAND OF ENCHANTMENT A PEARL FROM THE TREASURED PAST LEISURE STAY, THE PINOY WAY ROOMS FOR REFRESHING LUXE FOODS AT LUXENT

Vol. 2 // No. 3 // 2015

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Hanging from a vine before diving into the clear, green waters of Cambugahay Falls is indeed a breath-taking experience

Now, close your tired eyes and let your weary mind wander. Imagine you’re in the Mystical Island of Fire, where dreams are made of sweet sunshine. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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travellite Enjoy sumptuous food at the Dagsa Restobar, one of many dining destinations that offer the best in Siquijor cuisine

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Don't leave Siquijor without bringing these cute voodoo souvenir dolls

ENCHANTMENT

Two travelers uncover the secrets of mysterious Siquijor

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A place of love and healing WORDS AND PHOTOS by Aphrodite S. Cruz

Siquijor is a dream I never want to wake up from. Every time my restless feet wander off to this far-flung island in Central Visayas, it always feels as if I am wafting through an incandescent multi-hued dreamscape filled with endlessly fascinating characters and captivating sceneries. From the moment you arrive in Siquijor port with its alluring crystal-clear turquoise blue waters, you are instantly caught under a spell. The island is accessible from Dumaguete in Negros Oriental Island via ro-ro ships and ferryboats. There are tourist tricycles lined up right outside the port. On your first day, opt to take a tourist tricycle that could take you around the island for an entire day for 1,000 pesos beginning at St. Francis of Assisi Church within close proximity to the “Welcome to Siquijor” and “I Love Siquijor” markers just five minutes away from the port. Your next stops would be the Capilay

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Spring Park, the 400-plus-year-old Balete Tree, the San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent, Cambugahay Falls, Cang-Isok House, and Salagdoong Beach Resort, which has gained considerable acclaim for its cliff-diving spots and humongous slides that lead directly to the ocean. Try something different on your second day, travel like a local, and rent a motorbike for 250 pesos a day. Go off the beaten path and spend the entire afternoon basking under the sun and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Kagusuan Beach. Trek to Mount Bandilaan to get a panoramic 360-degree view of the whole island.

Heartwarming stories

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Never leave Siquijor without scuba diving or snorkeling. The coral reefs surrounding the island are one of the best in the Philippines. I am neither a licensed diver nor a strong swimmer, but I mustered every ounce of courage I have in my body and booked my first fun dive with Sea Pearl Divers. It proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made as a sole traveler. I always stay at Treasure Island, owned and managed by a sultry Filipina I love to call Clareng. Unpretentious and

unassuming, the resort exudes an isolated island kind of vibe cut straight from the Stevenson classic of the same name. In Neil Gaiman’s epic comic book series The Sandman, there is a volume called “Worlds’ End," a collection of stories told by eccentric characters who sought solace in an inn called Worlds’ End during a deadly storm. Clareng manages a bar in the resort almost similar to Worlds' End. During the day, the place is just the perfect setting for some brewed coffee and omelets. At night, it turns into an intimate venue where travelers ignite each other’s curiosity with stories from their homeland. Over bottles of beer and shots of tequila, a middle-aged Australian guy narrated to me how he traveled the world for 20 years only to find himself sitting in an airplane, gazing toward the bleak horizon, questioning all the decisions he made in life, and finally arriving at the conclusion that he is lost, lonely and just plain exhausted. Then by some stroke of serendipity, he came to the Philippines, met a beautiful Filipina, and ended up in Siquijor, where they now live in an idyllic house by the sea. “I have been all over the world, and the Philippines is the only place where people still


“Stranded in the island because of typhoon Ompong, we met a nice English guy while having dinner at Treasure Island. ‘I’ve been through a terrible divorce and this place healed me,’ our English friend said as if uttering a prayer of gratitude.” 7

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genuinely care for you and your safety without expecting anything in return,” he said. My dive master and owner of Sea Pearl Divers in Siquijor hails from Denmark. He also met an equally beautiful and smart Filipina, had a sweet child, and settled down in Siquijor. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather settle down than the Philippines,“ my dive master said without any hint of flattery. During typhoon Ompong when a good friend from Manila and I got stranded in the island, we met a nice English guy while having dinner at Treasure Island. “I’ve been through a terrible divorce and this place healed me,” our English friend said as if uttering a prayer of gratitude .

Mystical dreamscape

Love for a place is one of the highest and most honest forms of love. It starts with a yearning, followed by a painful stab and an unfathomable trembling in your heart. The desire to relocate fills you up. You grow restless and senseless like you’re under a spell. That’s when you know you’ve fallen in love with a place. A place never gets tired seeing you; a place embraces you unconditionally. And as for Siquijor, how can you not fall

in love with an island inhabited by people who are so warm and welcoming they feel like your extended family? How can you not fall in love with an island that has no scarcity of beauty, and which bids goodbye to a day so beautifully and poetically: melodramatic shades of orange tinged with fiery crimson, gracefully dancing with each other creating a grandiose feast for the eyes? The worst part about traveling to Siquijor? Leaving. The moment I start gathering my things and tucking them inside my bags is the moment I start feeling this unbearable heaviness. You arrive in a place teeming with beauty and dreamlike splendor, and you never truly depart; somehow, fragments of your heart are left behind in a secluded spot on a shoreline dotted with palm trees and rustic huts, in a rugged and mysterious trail leading to the top of a mountain, in places of worship rich in history, in parks bustling with kids, in quiet and quaint cafés, or in the small corner of a bar by the sea. Twenty-seven-years-old and to this day I can proudly declare, still one of the best dates I’ve ever had was the one I had a couple of months ago in an isolated beach in the island of fire. Talcum powder-

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like sand. Star-speckled sky. BB King’s redemptive jazz music and the calming sound of the sea creating a narcotic harmony as I feel the warm sand between my toes. A bottle of Shiraz. And a dog with golden fur named Russell—mostly your ideal date minus the truckload of saccharine moonshine. Standing behind the rails on the ferryboat back to Dumaguete as the island of fire slowly disappeared into the horizon, I whispered a little prayer to the gods to keep my friends protected from harm and bad luck, to help them keep their peace and keep this island that healed me in its current disposition: beautiful, tranquil, and simply enchanting. Now, close your tired eyes and let your weary mind wander. Imagine you’re in the Mystical Island of Fire, where dreams are made of sweet sunshine. 1 The marker at the Siquijor port, that aptly describes the island, which literally means "Island of Fire" 2 Who can ever resist staying at this homey resort that boasts of clean, unpolluted air and lots of rich foliage around? 3 Nothing beats a cool drink with a captivating sunset as backdrop— that is Siquijor 4 The rustic facade of the San Isidro Labrador Church 5 No need for burly security personnel if there's a dog like this keeping an eye on you 6 Blue waters all around this solitary fishing boat give a sense of tranquility 7 A lowly beetle enjoys its time on the beach atop snowwhite corals 8 Laze around the beach front under these huts either with a tropical drink or even coffee, plus a book to while away your time

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Mystical fire WORDS by Ruth Manintim-Floresca Photos by Ruth Floresca, Siquijor Provincial Tourism Office

Two words I often hear people use to describe Siquijor are “mysterious” and “enchanting.” This island associated with witchcraft is also becoming one of the Philippines’ must-see destinations. Now after visiting Siquijor this summer, I can also finally say it’s truly captivating. Siquijor, located in the Central Visayas region, is the third smallest province in the Philippines. In the 1500’s, Spanish conquistadors dubbed Siquijor as Isla del Fuego or "Island of Fire" because fireflies were said to swarm the branches of Molave trees and light up the whole island at night. According to Josette Armirola, Siquijor Supervising Tourism Operations Officer, tourist arrivals have been increasing every year since 2005 except between 2012 and 2013 when Typhoon Pablo damaged a lot

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of areas. Still, the visitors come, as she explains, “Travelers are intrigued about Siquijor since we are known to be an island of sorcery, magic, and shamans. When tourists learn about how beautiful it is, and that it is not a scary destination, more and more come to experience the place.”

Most visited spots

Armirola cites the following as some of the most popular places in the island: ● The 400-year-old enchanted Balete Tree, with its hundreds of roots and hanging vines is a sight to behold. There is a fish spa at its base where visitors can have fish nibble the dead skin off their feet. The water is cool and very clear. ● Cambugahay Falls can be reached by river or forest trek. This secluded area is a favorite of many adventure seekers who enjoy swinging from a vine and falling to the refreshing waters below. ● The Cantabon Cave could be challenging to explore, but the hour-and-a-half long trek is very rewarding, especially when one can finally take a dip in a pool at the end of

“Activities begin on Holy Wednesday where healers gather the final elements. On Maundy Thursday, they chop the more than 200 kinds of items before mixing and brewing them on Black Saturday to create herbal medicines, including love potions, which are bottled then sold.”


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1 With this kind of inviting environment—blue waters all over—you really can't stay away and most of all, leave 2 The San Isidro Labrador Convent, the biggest among the oldest convents in the country 3 Siquijor's Cambugahay Falls, a favorite among adventure seekers 4 Amid lush greenery, it's a joy to walk around these wooden trails while staring at the clear, green waters below 5 The iconic 400-year-old balete tree that's as enchanting as the island itself

the winding trail that passes through little streams and beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites. ● The San Isidro Labrador Convent is reputed to be the biggest among the oldest convents in the country. The Spaniards constructed it from 1887 to 1894. Believed to be the vacation house of the Diocese’s priests at the time, the convent is now a historical landmark as declared by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Entrance fee is P20/person. ● Tourists who love paying respects to places of worship would find several in different municipalities: San Isidro Labrador Church in Lazi, St. Augustine Church in San Juan, Our Lady of Divine Providence at Maria, St. Vincent de Ferrer Bell Tower in Larena, and St. Francis of Assisi Church in Siquijor. ● Salagdoong Beach, with a resort owned and managed by the provincial government, is an idyllic hideaway tucked in a cove and covered in fine white sand. It is a favorite, even among locals, for family picnics, swimming, and snorkeling during weekends. Entrance fee is P25/person.

Healing festivals

During Holy Week, healers and herbalists from Visayas and Mindanao arrive at Siquijor’s Bandilaan Mountain View Park to prepare healing concoctions made from a variety of ingredients such as tree barks, roots, herbs, and insects. These were gathered from caves, forests, cemeteries, and the sea during the seven Fridays of the Lenten season. Activities begin on Holy Wednesday where healers gather the final elements. On Maundy Thursday, they chop the more than 200 kinds of items before mixing and brew-

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6 Explore the winding and eerie depths of Siquijor's Cantabon Cave 7 Herbal medicines and love potions concocted by healers and herbalists from Visayas and Mindanao 8 St. Francis of Assisi Church, located near the Siquijor port 9 Bandilaan Mountain View Park is where healers and herbalists gather to brew their herbal medicines and other potions during the Lenten season, a tradition that started during the early 1900s

ing them on Black Saturday to create herbal medicines, including love potions, which are bottled then sold. According to the residents of Cantabon and San Antonio, this village tradition began before the 1930’s and has been passed to the descendants of some famous healers. Arlene Mack, Chairman of the Siquijor Provincial Tourism Council, said the love potions are not supposed to be brought outside the island. Once a potion crosses the ocean, it will lose its efficacy. “So you have to bring that special someone here!” she advised with a big smile. Whether you are interested to meet some of the healers and explore Siquijor’s mysteries, discover lovely secluded areas, hike to interesting elevated areas, or simply relax by the beach, leave your trepidations behind. It will be a wonderful trip!

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TIPS FOR TRAVELERS Getting there Siquijor can be reached from Dumaguete or Cebu via fast ferry, motorized boat, or ship. There are approximately 35 inbound/outbound trips every day. Island day tours are available for those who do not wish to stay overnight. The last boat trip leaves for Dumaguete at 5:30 p.m. daily. Accommodation Visitors can choose from 108 establishments scattered all over the island. Expect to pay around P500-1,500/room in 11 homestays accredited by the Department of Tourism. Backpackers’ accommodations are also available from P250-500/person/night while average rates for rooms in resorts can go from as low as P1,200 to as high as P36,000 per night. Getting around For island tours, vans for 10 to 15 passengers can be rented for P2,500/day while easy rides and jeepneys, with a seating capacity of 14 to 16, can be hired at P1,800/day. Tricycles are likewise available at P1,000/day. Attire Put on lightweight clothing when going around the island but do not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts while visiting churches. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellant, flashlight, sun block, comfortable shoes, or rubber slippers. Language Although majority of the locals speak the native Cebuano dialect, many of them can converse in Tagalog and English.


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Breaking ground on Microtel by Wyndham Baguio’s expansion: In photo (from left) are Edward Hernandez, president, JIH Prime Management & Development Corp.; Jose Mari del Rosario, president and CEO, Microtel Inns & Suites (Pilipinas), Inc.; Marivic del Pilar, vice president, Victory Liner, Inc.; Engr. Dennis Abcede, Jr., project manager, D.A. Abcede & Associates; Roy Martin, area general manager, Microtel by Wyndham North Luzon; and Engr. Allan Manalo, SG Manalo Construction.

quicker and more convenient than ever. Microtel by Wyndham Baguio was recently inducted into the 2015 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame for winning the popular travel review website’s annual award five years in a row. The hotel was further honored by Booking.com, the world leader in online hotel and accommodation booking, with the 2014 Award of Excellence having an overall guest review score of 8.2. The sole Microtel by Wyndham franchise in Asia is the largest and fastest-growing

international hotel chain in the country, and currently has 13 properties at Acropolis QC, Baguio, Batangas, Boracay, Cabanatuan, Cavite, Davao, General Santos, Manila, Puerto Princesa, South Forbes (near Nuvali, Sta. Rosa), Tarlac, and UP Technohub QC. Microtel by Wyndham Baguio is conveniently located right beside the Victory Liner bus station along Upper Session Road, Baguio City. For reservations, call (074) 619 3333 to 34, (02) 899 7171, or go to www. microtelphilippines.com. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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Greg Dorris enjoying his morning ritual of reading the daily papers at the garden

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A pearl from the treasured past Relive a more gentile era of Manila in Coco’s Garden Words and photos by ANSON YU

the house itself seems squat and overwhelmed by the garden. The architecture of the house is minimal and very utilitarian. Inside the design seems reminiscent of Bahay na Bato or houses from the Spanish colonial era with its central wooden staircase and the gleaming wooden floors. An American character actor named Ken Metcalfe lived in the house in the 1970s. He appeared in some 46 local and foreign film productions that were shot in the Philippines. While some of the films he appeared in can be described as B-movies, he has also worked as a casting assistant on film classics such as Apocalypse Now and Born on the 4th of July.

Reconstruction

When guests call up to ask Gregory "Greg" Dorris how to get to his house, he would sometimes answer, “I am at the end of a dead-end alley at a dead-end street.” It may sound like a cryptic code, but that is how you get to Coco’s Garden in Paco where Greg resides and manages a bed-andbreakfast. Once you discover this place you will realize that the journey is worth it. But why Paco? The location of this bed-and-breakfast may seem odd at first as it is outside the usual tourist or business locations such as Malate or Makati. Greg claims that the location is one of the major advantages of staying in Coco’s Garden. Historical sites such as Intramuros and the National Museum are within reach, while Makati is fifteen minutes away. In fact one long staying guest commutes daily to her work in Ortigas from Coco’s Garden.

A piece of history

To locate Coco’s Garden, look for the Manila Sacramento Friendship Library along the Quirino Avenue Extension. You don’t turn right at the second corner which is Penafrancia. You turn right at the first

With Metcalfe occupying the lower floor, Greg only had the second floor to himself when he first moved in back in 2002. Eventually, over time, Greg took over the entire corner and before the road runs out, you house. With the landlady’s permission, he will stop directly in front of the last house restored the house back to its original layout which is Coco’s Garden. which meant removing most of the inner According to Greg, all of the houses dividing walls. This helped open up space on this alley used to be part of a family inside as well as provide cross ventilation. compound that belonged to a lawyer named During this time, Greg decided to install Gonzales. After the family moved away, the another bedroom on the ground floor and property was divided among their relatives. rebuild the rear patio area. He then filled But the name Coco’s Garden did not come the place with things he has accumulated from the family but from Greg himself. over the years, as well as gifts from friends. Coco is one of Greg’s pet dogs, the pure These included antiques he has picked up white native who Greg picked up years ago from antique stores in Mabini and precious from a farm. Coco’s name comes from her items he brought with him from the US such fondness for coconut meat. as his grandmother’s stove. And it is Coco and three of her fellow Still, Greg felt that something was canines who will greet visitors once they missing. enter the gate. Don’t worry, Coco doesn’t It was only some time later that he realbite; all of Greg’s dogs are quite friendly ized that what the house lacked was people. and warm up easily to visitors. Greg also He says, “This house wants to have people has three cats, but usually they make their around. It wants to throw parties! It wants presence felt much later. to have guests! It wants to hear laughter!” The garden where Coco and her pack So in 2011, Greg opened the bedroom on the loved to frolic is shaded by a huge banyan ground floor to paying guests. tree that straddles this house and the house Now, he knows that what he has is next to it. The lush tropical greeneries exunique. He says, “It is exemplary of what tend all the way to the backyard which has was life like before in this city and I want an open-air seating area. By comparison people to experience it.” EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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The architecture of the house is minimal and very utilitarian. Inside the design seems reminiscent of Bahay na Bato or houses from the Spanish colonial era with its central wooden staircase and the gleaming wooden floors.

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1 The mid-20th century charm of the Coco's Garden kitchen. Note how Greg's grandmother's stove oven dominates the area 2 Greg's own bedroom where he graciously let guests sleep in 3 The banyan tree that towers over the garden 4 Greg's collection of antique plates and China ware 5 The covered patio area is perfect for that intimate chat 6 Greg named the B&B after his beloved pet, Coco 7 The work station on the ground floor is distant from all distractions

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A friend one day suggested to Greg to list the house on an up-and-coming website called Airbnb. By coincidence one of the tech guys working on the site visited Manila and became his guest. The Airbnb tech wiz gave several tips to Greg such as how to increase his booking, lower his price, and get media coverage in the guide books. Apparently, the advice worked as bookings picked up and Coco’s Garden's Airbnb site has one of the highest number of reviews for a listing from Manila. Since then, Greg has received a steady stream of guests from all over the world. Due to the increase in demand, he now lets guests stay in his own room upstairs, while he bunks down on a mattress downstairs. If the guests inform him in advance, he will arrange for things like meals and massages during their stay. If the guests are traveling around the Philippines, Greg, an intrepid traveler himself, can help arrange their plans. He claims to have visited all but six of the 81 provinces that make up the Philippines. He can easily tap into his wide network of contacts to assist his guests around the archipelago. Another thing that distinguishes Coco’s Garden from other accommodations around Manila is how Greg helps visitors get in touch with local culture. He can anticipate the questions of tourists in their first visit to the country. He conducts walking tours of the older districts of Manila such as Binondo and Intramuros to help visitors understand Filipino history and culture. Another way his guests can experience the country’s culture are the cooking lessons on local cuisine given by an instructor in classes conducted inside Coco’s Garden’s kitchen. His guests seems to enjoy the experience of staying and keep coming back. The location doesn’t seem to be a deterrent anymore as they now realize that the serene and peaceful atmosphere in Coco’s Garden is a rare luxurious find in a city as busy as Manila. While Greg has no plans to expand the number of rooms he is offering, he is opening up the house for small intimate events such as business meetings or parties. This way more and more people can experience a piece of Manila’s bygone era.

CONTACT INFO Coco’s Garden Guestroom 1238-B Penafrancia Street Extension, Paco District Manila

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LEISURE STAY, THE PINOY WAY A staycation in Legend Villas offers you the best of the famous Filipino hospitality Words BY CORA LLAMAS

One thing that impressed me too about the Legend Villas was the design and architecture of the place. It was as if the designers had taken into account the guest’s preference for—you guessed it—privacy and security. 1

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1 The Legend Villas is already considered a "legend" in the local hospitality industry 2 You'd already feel secure and your privacy uncompromised the moment you enter its gates

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rivacy. Courtesy. And the unmistakable Filipino design. Those were the first things that I noticed the minute the cab drove me through the gates of Legend Villas, the hotel located in the heart of Mandaluyong City. A staycation in such a comfortable establishment, without having to endure the rigors of out-of-town travel, was what the doctor ordered. This particular weekend of my stay had been slotted for a quiet time to refresh my spirits and recharge my restless mind and tired bones. The gates of the hotel that seemed to enclose it off from the rest of the traffic and the hectic city life already promised some kind of sanctuary. The warmth of the welcoming staff added to the sense of ease as I walked in. While it is true that hospitality staff are trained to be accommodating and pleasant with their perpetual smiles, there is an extra cheerfulness that is found in the Legend Villas team. They also went the extra mile in responding to your requests, whether it be for a glass of water or a socket that you could connect your laptop to. None of them would leave your side until they were sure you were satisfied. That kind

of attitude and customer service immediately made you feel you were in safe hands.

Private cabin One thing that impressed me too about the Legend Villas was the design and architecture of the place. It was as if the designers had taken into account the guest’s preference for—you guessed it—privacy and security. Accommodations were evenly divided into the rows of buildings that sprawled across the compound. Regardless of whether you booked an expensive suite or a small place for a night’s stay, it was as if you were ushered into your own cabin, and not just a room. This approach made your stay both expansive and quiet: you were tucked away in your own private haven away from the rest of the world—but in a villa that seemed to stretch its wings and gave you space to breathe. The Filipino design certainly added to the warmth of the place and complemented the genuine care that the staff exhibited. My accommodation was a modest but comfortable two-bed room that contained the standard cable-TV and wi-fi services expected by customers from classy hotels. A complementary basket of fruit was more than enough to sustain you through

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Meals with music

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the night if you just wanted to enjoy your DVD or cableTV marathon without ordering room service or going down to the Legend Villa’s restaurant. The food alone in Lola Maria, though, is worth the trip. Anyone who wants to gorge on finely cooked Filipino cuisine would certainly have a feast. For the breakfast buffet, I had my fill of fried rice, mouth-watering tocino and sumptuous chicken, complemented by leche flan and sweet mangoes for dessert.

The centerpiece of Legend Villa’s cuisine though was served to me during dinner. And what better way to represent the best of Pinoy food if not our traditional favorites such as kare-kare, pinakbet, and crunchy lechon kawali? After a filling dinner, hang around Lola Maria for a while. You just might discover that the cabletv marathon can wait once you hear Pinoy top pop songs played live by a small band who can mesmerize you with their music. A couple of hours in that resto just listening to the sounds of favorite Pinoy ditties can add to your relaxation. Cap that with a massage to end a long day. Legend Villas offers a few varieties, but the one that stands out and is different from the rest is the homegrown massage that has the masseur sucking the chill and fatigue from your bones using the warmth of candles that are placed on crystal glasses mounted on your affected areas. You can literally feel your fatigue being drained from you while small slivers of energy seem to spark your spine. I did feel more than recharged when I checked out of Legend Villas the next day. Gotten my strength back and eager to face the challenges of the world. The staycation was a short but satisfying way of self-rejuvenation, and one worth a repeat.

3 Legend Villas' modest rooms really make any staycation most memorable 4 Alone or with a group, Legend Villas has rooms comfortable enough and guarantees a hassle-free stay 5 Bask under the bright sun or take a dip at the Legend Villas' refreshing pool

The Legend Villas is located at 60 Pioneer corner Madison Streets, Mandaluyong City. Call 633-1501 to 10. Click on www.legendvillas.com.ph. 5

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Rooms for Refreshing Linden Suites’ major facelift promises guests a more luxurious stay

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Words by RORY VISCO

The Linden Suites' modest yet elegant facade

The Linden Suites is considered a pioneering figure in the hospitality industry in the Ortigas Central Business District when it opened its doors back in 2000. After its peak during 2007-2008 where it experienced up to 90 percent occupancy almost every day, the management team asked itself if they should expand. “Business was really doing good so it prompted the owners to ask that question,” explains Dominic Dorol, General Manager of The Linden Suites, who got on board last January. “So Linden opened Tower 2 in 2008 or 2009 and that gave us an additional 40 rooms or should I say ‘suites.'” The expansion gave The Linden Suites a total room inventory of 168 rooms. As Ortigas boomed as a business district, many other players started coming in, making the competition stiffer. “Other areas opened their doors as well for other hotels to come in like in the Bonifacio Global City area,” Dorol says. “Being a pioneer in the hospitality industry in Ortigas, we took that role seriously so the owners decided it was time for a major renovation.” Starting in 2012, The Linden Suites facelift went underway, with Tower 1 finished in December last year. For Tower 2, Dorol said they implemented the “Perfect Room Project” or “PRP.” “PRP or Perfect Room Project is like a major scale room renovation but done slowly,” Dorol says. “We did it one room after the other. This is unlike what we did in Tower 1 where we closed some parts of the hotel for the full renovation. For PRP, we just renovated or refurbished the rooms one by one so as not to disrupt operations.”

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A spacious suite at The Linden Suites gives you enough space to breath and relax, with a spectacular view of the Ortigas Central Business District skyline

Taking care of the market

Ever since its inception, The Linden Suites had always been known as the “business traveler’s hotel” both for short or longterm stay, particularly because the size of its rooms makes it perfect for business or even leisure travelers. “For business people, our rooms give them space for themselves,” Dorol says.

“Some hotels may have big lobbies but inside the small rooms, everything is within reach. At The Linden Suites, we turned it around. We have a decent-size lobby but our rooms our spacious because we want our guests to breathe. We want them to clear their minds and free themselves from the daily grind of work and personal stress. The lobby is a public area; you can

only claim a seat and that’s it. But when you are in a room such as ours, it frees your mind and eases your physical system. It helps you relax. Leisure travelers like families marvel at how big the rooms are. They can even invite friends or the family over.” Dorol says their bread-and-butter clients remain from the corporate side, with the major ones like BPOs and their principals or expatriates coming in for seminars or trainings.

The Linden Suite reboot

Big spaces, wonderful interiors describe the suites at The Linden Suites

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The change that The Linden Suites underwent infrastructure-wise also involved aesthetics and mindset. The hotel renovation had one goal, which was to make it more contemporary. They revamped not just the facilities but also the services. Even the logo got a little tweaking. There were options, but the owners decided not to veer away too much from the original. The origin of the word “linden” was actually a tree. In the olden days when there’s still no wheeled transport, people would walk and stop by a Linden tree because it offered a lot of shade where they can rest. “It’s the perfect name for a hotel,” Dorol says. “Besides, The Linden Suites is known locally. Just about any cab driver knows where to go if you say Linden; it’s probably because there’s only one Linden.”


The Linden Suites' indoor swimming pool

Aside from the renovation, Dorol says Expect more they instituted “Linden 101,” sort of a backSo what else can people expect from The to-basics reorientation program for the hotel Linden Suites? Dorol says they will embark staff, whom he fondly calls “associates.” “We on a modernization project, with plans to refreshed everything—the orientation materials, training manuals, business programs. We even came up with a new tag line, which is ‘room to refresh.’ We wanted our guests to feel relaxed. Why do people stay in a hotel? Because you need to relax, be comfortable, everything made convenient, a place to refresh yourself after a tight day.” And their “associates” embraced the change totally, Dorol reports. Their fifteenyear-old uniforms were changed with new ones, and they attended make up seminars for personal grooming. “We wanted our associates to be presentable so even their shoes were changed with Florsheim, which excited them even more. An incentive system was also implemented to reward them for a good The Linden Suites' General Manager Dominic Dorol job,” Dorol enthuses. Even hotel rates were changed to make them more competitive, given the amount “Our rooms our spacious of competition in the area. “Our sales and marketing department came up with a very because we want our guests to breathe. We want them to efficient formula to compute rate and occlear their minds and free cupancy balance,” Dorol says. "That is why our pricing scheme is more in the mid-range themselves from the daily grind of work and personal stress.” level, which gave us a big opportunity to —Dominic Dorol, GM, balance our rates, to move up or down and The Linden Suites maintain flexibility.”

implement “paper-less check in,” especially for busy business people. “The room was paid already so why should you be kept in the lobby, especially if all the details of the guest were already validated? We’re looking into the technical stuff and it’s not cheap.” He says they’re also looking at offering free use of a tablet or a mobile phone inside the rooms, just in case for some strange reason the guest forgets his or her tablet or mobile phone. The hotel will also focus on more attractive family offers that cater to the “stay-cationers.” “We know the value of catering to the families who’d want to enjoy a relaxing vacation without having to leave the city.” Now what else can The Linden Suites offer? It’s success. Dorol says, “People say this and that about their hotel but for us, we will focus on the client, not on what we have but what we can give or offer them and what they’ll get. They will feel successful once they leave the hotel because they had a successful meeting, a successful event or gathering.” The Linden Suites is located at #37 San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600, Philippines. For rates and other details, call (+632) 638-7878 (trunkline); (+632) 638-7877 or (+632) 633-7012 for fax; email sales@lindensuites.com or click http://www.lindensuites.com. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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encounter Greater fun beyond the fiestas Tourism Promotions Board COO Domingo Enerio explains why modern twists are being added to local attractions Words by Maan D’Asis Pamaran

There is a thriving hiphop music industry in the country that will further highlight the musicality of Filipinos to a whole new level

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he Philippines has long been known for its fiestas. Every year, tourists converge on the Pearl of the Orient to celebrate festivities that have been held since time immemorial, partying and partaking in feasts with the locals. In a previous interview, Sec. Ramon Jimenez Jr. of the Department of Tourism (DOT) revealed that even the town fiestas have taken a modern spin. “There is a transition that is happening and it should be happening,” he said. “The Sinulog, for example, has been fit into the 20th century mold. … This has something to do with the changing times … It cannot just be a celebration of the 300 festivals that we hold every year. Some of them are purely of this time; we have to have events that our generation and the next should be able to identify with.”

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More innovative events

This is the reason why the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is actively seeking to host, partner, and promote new events aside from the traditional Filipino fiestas. Its Chief Operating Officer (COO), Domingo Ramon "Chicoy" Enerio III, says, “Our mandate is to promote the Philippines to domestic and international markets as an ideal holiday destination, as well as a center for MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions, and Exhibitions). Aside from vacations, we also look to encourage investments and retirement programs for expats. As such, we are tasked to coordinate with as many agencies as necessary, to grow tourism receipts, employment, and investments.” Two of the big activities held this year in conjunction with the TPB’s Visit the Philippines 2015 campaign were the Madrid Fusion and the MTV Music Evolution,

both designed to expose the Philippines to the international market. He continues, “Madrid Fusion is one of the biggest modern gastronomic events in Europe. The MTV Music Evolution is a partnership with a global brand targeting the youth sector. With Madrid Fusion Manila, we were able to showcase what is good about our cuisine. With the MTV Evolution event, we attempted to … highlight musicality and hiphop as something that is thriving in our country.” Enerio further explains the TPB launched five themes for Visit the Philippines 2015: • Cultural, with fiestas like the Sinulog and Ati-atihan; • Modern Lifestyle, with activities like the Madrid Fusion Manila; • Music and the Arts, in cooperation with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the museums (and to a certain degree the MTV Music Evolution)



• Sports, adventure and outdoor activities, with the Ironman, Wakeboarding competitions and Sailing events • Business, where the APEC Summit can help showcase our MICE capabilities on a large scale

Expansion

He talks about the grand scale of APEC, which will see the biggest delegation of the 21 APEC-economy world leaders such as presidents and prime ministers fly into the country. Approximately 180 events have been taking place all over the Philippines since the start of the year. The APEC activities will be presenting the Philippines as a destination for the MICE market, showing also the creativity and talent of the Filipinos. “It’s because whenever you attend conferences, what you would remember are the parties afterwards,” Enerio smiles. “You may attend meetings as a doctor, lawyer, or businessman, but at the end of the day all you want to do is relax and socialize with your colleagues. This is where the professional treatment of the organizers will come in, offering the kind of atmosphere that makes meetings more productive and enjoyable because of the ambiance and food that we have.” There is so much optimism in tourism these days, as evident in the current boom in hospitality facilities in the country, with more hotels coming up in the coming years. At present, Entertainment City in Pasay has close to 2,000 rooms and it will grow to about 5,000. The Bonifacio Global City (BGC) has Grand Hyatt with 500 rooms and the upcoming Shangri-La with 700. Even the mid-price category hotels like Microtel and City Garden are doing expansions, and groups that were traditionally in retail like Ayala and SM are venturing into the hospitality industry and putting up convention centers.

Future plans

The TPB board’s plans for the 2016 tourism framework will invite different markets to look at the Philippines for dif-

One of their projects launched in Japan is a video which encourages Japanese women to come to the Philippines where they can heal their broken hearts. Other markets include the backpackers, and those who want to come for volunteerism and corporate social responsibility activities. 76

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Hip-hop and club music are definitely the "in" music genres these days that make partying in the Philippines more fun than ever

TPB COO Domingo Ramon Enerio

ferent purposes. One of their latest projects launched in Japan is a video which encourages Japanese women to come here and heal their broken hearts. Other markets include the backpackers, and those who want to come for volunteerism and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Aside from the growing infrastructure and the natural beauty of the country, what really draws the tourists in is the Filipinos' innate warmth. Enerio says, “If you get another island in the region and put the two islands side by side, the more fun island is the one from the Philippines. When we talk to foreigners who come here, they always say that certainly, in comparison, it really is more fun in the Philippines.” The homegrown Filipino touch is a game-changer. He quips, “There are 10 million Filipinos working outside the country, and these are the Filipinos that

foreigners deal with daily. Pinoys are friendly, like to have fun, have good food, are hardworking, religious, and familyoriented—all positive attributes that you would like to find in a person. I ask these foreigners, ‘If you are happy dealing with Filipinos in your place of work or in your community, how much more if you meet the Filipinos in their own hometown?’” Instead of a single Pearl of the Orient, Enerio describes the Philippines as a string of pearls, bordering the western side of the Pacific. He says, “These are very tropical, balmy, island destinations perfect for island adventures. Aside from the hotels and the bustling city, we have a number of pristine attractions offering anything that you can think of—you can go underwater at the island beaches, aboveground there is trekking. We have culture, we have sports —name it. It’s here.”


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Luxe food finds at Luxent Get fab food servings at Luxent Hotel— and they’re quite tasty, too Words by Rory Visco // Photos by Patrick Uy

Some people think that food served at most hotels are largely all show and don’t have much on taste. Well, not all of them. The Experience Travel and Living team did a photo shoot recently at the swanky Luxent Hotel along Timog Avenue in Quezon City, located right along the city’s lifestyle and entertainment district. The vigorous, whole-day photo shoot started at the break of dawn and naturally, by lunch time, the team can practically hear their stomachs grumble with hunger. We were absolutely famished. Good thing that Luxent Hotel Ex-

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ecutive Chef Christian “Ian” Martinez prepared a sumptuous feast for this hungry bunch. Once the signal was given, the group—more than a dozen peckish souls—hurriedly trooped to the Garden Café at the ground floor. A good-natured guy that he is, Chef Ian made sure the gastronomic treat was not run-of-the-mill hotel food; it was meant to satisfy our hunger pangs and not just fill our stomachs. The food parade by Chef Ian and his team started with his “Hodebab,” a modest heap of fresh tuna served with steamed Japanese rice and mixed vegetables drizzled with sesame oil and

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Garden Café’s own spicy sauce. The veggies were a big hit, probably because we had several aspiring models in the team (they needed to watch their diet). The Asian Salad combined greens, red cabbage, bean sprouts, julienned cucumber and carrots, mandarin orange, ripe mango, and crispy chicken then served with sesame lime and peanut dressing and topped with crispy wonton strips for that added crunch. Their version of Caesar Salad, with Romaine lettuce that’s crunchy enough you’d think it was freshly plucked out of the garden, plus apple wood bacon, parmesan cheese flakes over herbed croutons and shrimp, completes the vegetable mini ensemble chowed down by the group like there’s no tomorrow. The Potato Sampler, on the other hand, was a true winner for me (well, for everybody). The chips, fries, and coated potato wedges altogether were a sight to behold, while honey mustard, ranch dressing, or even tomato catsup made this one even more appealing. And then there were the mains. Their Ramen, made up of pork slices bathing in deep, dark “shoyu” and topped with quail eggs, was simple and unpretentious while their Clam Chowder, with fresh vegetables and sio-

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mai, was creamy enough to our liking. The scene stealers were Chef Ian’s All-Meat Lasagna that’s packed with three kinds of meat. With Tuscan garlic bread on the side, it was definitely a hunger-buster, and the Zumo Burger and its Angus beef patty with house dressing, plus fruit salsa and nacho chips all in a sesame bun, and potato fries as sidings elicited burps from everyone—well, at least for those lucky enough to grab the tiniest morsel. And while the grilled Sirloin steak with 3-peppercorn sauce, mashed potato and buttered vegetables, and the Teriyaki Mini Burgers, drenched in a special teriyaki sauce and served with house fries were definite knockouts, we were so stuffed that some were already thinking of two things: enjoy a cup of piping-hot

brewed coffee or cigarettes for those allowed to puff smoke—or both. However, the gourmand experience was not yet over. As the wait staff waltzed to our table, there was a slight murmur in the group, something like, “Oh-oh, what’s next?” The collective thought pointed to desserts, and we were right. We said to ourselves that we have had enough, but the temptation that scrumptious “Guinataang Halo-Halo” with “bilo-bilo, mais at monggo” served with “Turones con Manga’t Langka,” plus Mango Ice Cream Cake and Pistachio Delight (both served with a modern twist) offered were simply too hard to resist. We all gave in, no matter how full we think we were. The dessert was like “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” However, the reality that there was still work to do for the rest of the afternoon kicked in but definitely, the humongous meals Chef Ian and his team prepared gave us the energy to plod on. By nightfall, it was a wrap. Thanks to Luxent Hotel’s Garden Café and its star-studded team of chefs, we all went home and savored a delightful gastronomic experience we won’t easily forget.

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1 Garden Café's Caesar Salad version, a veggie ensemble that you'd chow down like there's no tomorrow 2 Hail the Hodebab! Fresh tuna, Japanese rice and mixed veggies in one appetizing dish 3 The Grilled Sirloin Steak definitely stole the show 4 Chef Ian's All-Meat Lasagna that's packed with three kinds of meat 5 Creamy Clam Chowder at the Garden Café 6 Guinataang Halo-Halo with bilo-bilo, mais at monggo perfectly complemented the Turones con Manga't Langka for a mouth-watering sweet treat 7 Nothing beats this succulent Mango Ice Cream Cake with cherry on top

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livingwell

Raw energy Words and photos by Joanne-Marie dela Rama

Workshops on non-cooked meals teach participants how to live happier, healthier lives

Quest for health

This encounter changed Aileen’s life, prompting her to do her own research. She found out that she was gluten-sensitive and yeast-and-lactose-intolerant; her body was also pumped with toxins. Becoming vegan lessened her pain and improved her overall health. When the vegan diet became too bland for her taste, she tried her first raw food meal at The Farm in San Benito. That first class triggered a lifetime of learning and a new calling. Aileen studied Bio Nutrition at the Wellness Institute and was mentored in Raw Food Instructions by a chef. She also studied at Sun Café and Nourished Kitchen and attended a Wellness Conference on Superfoods and Chinese Herbs in the U.S. Aileen’s experience with raw and superfoods eventually led her to teach and share her own recipes and knowledge to others. The four-hour workshop included the right way of cleaning organic produce, raw food preparations, to the various combinations of raw and superfoods. It focused on the first five essential dishes such as the breakfast smoothie, the appetizer, the salad, the main dish, and guilt-free dessert. Her class also explains how the body works and how it can heal itself given the right conditions.

The power of purity

Raw food is healthy because it does not have any preservatives, refined starches, sugar and harmful fats. It does have vitamins, minerals, and photo-nutrients since it’s prepared without cooking or steaming. Raw food is uncooked, fresh, whole, and unrefined; examples are fruits, Aileen de Guzman in action

Maitake, Bulgogi in lettuce wrap and Astragalus Kimchi Salad with the Seaweed Ganoderma Soup

Discovering my mother’s colorectal cancer in 2010 was an awakening experience, especially as far as my food preferences were concerned. I got rid of our microwave oven and canned goods, and introduced more healthy dishes to my mom’s diet. With the awareness that each bite that we take could either bring damage or health to our bodies, I started attending a “no-cook” Raw and Superfoods Workshop. In one such class I met wellness advocate and green living proponent, Aileen de Guzman, who generously wants to help

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other people live a healthier lifestyle. Aileen’s journey started with her own personal crisis. After her marriage, she suffered from a painful hormonal imbalance called endometriosis which apparently had no medical cure. Other solutions like pain relievers, exercise, and acupuncture only gave her temporary relief. A chance encounter with a fellow patient in a fertility doctor’s clinic introduced her to a 6-month raw food diet which eliminated her endometriosis and helped her get pregnant.

vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds in their natural state. Our bodies absorb more nutrients from them, which is good for our health and total wellbeing. Superfood, on the other hand, is mostly food high in disease-fighting nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Examples are (plant-based) blueberries, kale, aç ai, dragon fruit, pomegranate, some dairy products like kefir and yogurt, and fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty "Raw energy," continued on page 82 >>


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Now's the time to try "raw" pizza

Mucuna Peppermint cupcakes

Start breakfast with “Colon Cleansing Tonic," which has triphala and coconut kefir topped with chia seeds

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This cocktail-like juice does its share of preventing you from contracting the common cold


Spinach and Parsley Manicotti

Workshop participants enjoying all the raw and superfoods sample dishes Workshop participants are all smiles after learning how to prepare raw and superfoods

Raw food is uncooked, fresh, whole, and unrefined; examples are fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds in their natural state. Superfood, on the other hand, is mostly food that is high in disease-fighting nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. >> "Raw energy," continued from page 80

fish. The Philippines’ own local superfood include sweet potato, squash, tomatoes, rambutan, mangosteen, noni, cacao and malunggay. The benefits of having raw food and superfood in your diet are as follows: • More energy and vitality • Strengthening the immune system • Improvement of digestion • Clearer and younger-looking skin • Healing of allergies and skin problems such as acne, eczema and psoriasis • Faster-growing and stronger nails • More vibrant, shinier, and healthier hair • More clarity of mind, better memory, brain power and focus • Lowering of blood pressure • Lowering of cholesterol • Improvement of eyesight

• Lowering the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. Aileen currently creatively concocts healthy dishes that are interesting and appetizing. Her culinary workshops have gone international, composed of cuisine from Italy, Japan, Korea, and Mexico. Her cuisine and her teachings help us make sure that our bodies can keep up with life’s daily fast-paced demands. It’s not just about making a dietary change but it’s living our lives to the fullest and wisest way that we can. Aileen de Guzman can be reached through 890-9161 or through her email, healthspringph@gmail.com. You can also reach her through Facebook, https://www.facebook. com/HealthSprings or blog at http:// www.healthspringph.blogspot.com/

Assorted Mucuna Peppermint Pies

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escape POSTINGS

Hotel Jen Manila introduces new buffet deals Feel like royalty as you feast on a sumptuous table of international cuisine Hotel Jen Manila, formerly Traders Hotel and recently rebranded by Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts,takes diners, foodies and good old buffet lovers around the world in a gastronomic adventure right at the heart of the Manila Bay area with the launch of its new buffet deals—Daily Lunch Buffet, Themed Dinner Buffet and Sunday Family Brunch Buffet at its famed allday dining restaurant, Latitude. Lunch will never be the same again with a tempting journey of international taste and flavor. Delight in the sumptuous choices of main courses with beef, chicken, pork, fish, or other delectable seafood items from Mondays through Saturdays for only Php 650 nett per person. Come dinner time, diners can whet their appetite with a wide range of appetizers, salads and main course meals in six rotational themes from around the globe every night from Mondays through Sundays. Themed dinner buffet features Asian Flavors on Mondays, Mexican-Spanish Aromas on Tuesdays, Jen’s Specialties on Wednesdays and Sundays, Pinoy Fiesta on Thursdays, Seafood Grill Night on Fridays and Barbecue Party on Saturdays. Executive Sous Chef Dirk Fiedler

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prepares a spread of appetizing favorites such as prawns, cheese platter, kare-kare (oxtail in peanut sauce), crispy pata, lechon kawali, inihaw na liempo, callos, paella, buffalo chicken wings, assorted dim sum, salads, appetizers, soup and more, plus a live action station. Themed Dinner Buffet is priced at Php 888 nett per person. Family treats Hotel Jen Manila recognizes that Sunday is always about families, recreation and relaxation, hence, the Sunday Family Brunch Buffet. Priced at Php 888 nett per person, families can enjoy a mouthwatering spread of breakfast and lunch favorites every Sunday. This

Latitude of Hotel Jen Manila offers international dishes and a la carte menus that originate from the five different countries found in the same latitude as Hotel Jen: Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand.

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offer comes with free access to Hotel Jen Manila’s swimming pool, Paseo del Sol, for the entire family to enjoy. It also offers free access to Kids’ Zone for those with children. All buffet deals are inclusive of unlimited Jen’s Signature Iced Tea, coffee or hot tea, free WiFi access, and free valet parking service. Latitude of Hotel Jen Manila offers international cuisine and a la carte menus that originate from the five different countries found in the same latitude as Hotel Jen: Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. Experience the warm and efficient service of the team that will leave you feeling like royalty presented with a hearty feast. Appreciate the airy and comfortable ambiance of this cozy hotel conveniently located in the vivacious Manila Bay area as you savor your enchanting meal and delight your palate. It is an ideal place for food-lovers, friends and families who are into taking delightful gourmet adventures. Hotel Jen Manila is located on Roxas Boulevard. The international and domestic airports are only 20 minutes away, and 30 minutes to the Makati business district. The hotel is adjacent to the country’s premier conference and exhibition facilities—the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center and SMX Convention Center and 10 minutes away from

the SM Mall of Asia. Malate, the entertainment district of Manila City. For inquiries and advance reservations, please call (632) 795 8888 or email food&beverage.hjm @hoteljen.com. Prices are inclusive of 10% service charge and applicable government taxes. Visit Hotel Jen Manila’s website at www.hoteljen. com/manila and www.facebook. com/hoteljenmanila for updates and promos.


Platinum Karaoke introduces its “BIRIT” Ambassadors Vice Ganda and Angeline Quinto Platinum Karaoke, makers of high quality and high-definition karaoke machines and acces-

truly love doing which are singing

‘Bonggang’ sound. He quipped with delight, “I

and having fun! But more impor-

am very happy to be chosen as

tantly, I am sharing this delightful

one of the brand ambassadors

endorsement with someone who

of Platinum Karaoke for many

is almost a sister to me, my good

the right vocals and tone to hit as

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the song plays.

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and actually use it at every fun

As a champion singer, Angeline Quinto is Platinum's confident

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its chosen ambassadors are

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citing products, MAJOR HD10 and

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Ganda and Angeline Quinto.

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Vice Ganda happily added,

one of the most beautiful voices in

“To my amazement, their song

the country, she is also a talented

list is more updated than the

actress.

very talented “BIRIT” ambassa-

total performer with comedic

Karaoke bars and with sound so

Angeline shared with the audi-

dors at a fun and lively event held

talent, and a trendy recording

superb that even my non-singing

ence, “It's a privilege for me to be

at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City.

artist. He represents the unique

friends suddenly start sounding

chosen as one of the brand am-

features and benefits of Plati-

like pros! Secondly, karaoke-

bassadors for Platinum Karaoke

num Karaoke—high-definition or

singing is very close to what I

because even before I entered

Platinum Karaoke offers thousands of songs, high-definition video and images, very afford-

the industry, talagang kumakanta

able and up-to-date upgradeS,

na ako using the karaoke. Dati

and excellent sound quality.

kailangan ko pa magbayad para

The first model introduced,

makakanta sa karaoke, pero

the HD Wireless Bravo, boasts of

ngayon meron na akong Platinum

excellent high-definition sound,

at brand ambassador pa ako!”

quarterly song updates, multime-

She added with excitement,

dia playback, multiple HD video backgrounds, and over 6,600 OPM and English Songs, among others. Bravo also comes with its own carrying case that can be taken to any location at any given time. It has high-resolution image and background videos of nature, international MTVs and clips, as well as animated 3D characters. The MAJOR HD-10 Karaoke,

“To my amazement, their song list is more updated than the Karaoke bars and with sound so superb that even my non-singing friends suddenly sounding like pros!" —Vice Ganda “Very significant ang Platinum

on the other hand, is not just a ka-

Karaoke sa career ko kasi malaki

raoke system but a full entertain-

ang tulong sa akin nito sa pag-

ment package in itself. MAJOR is

aaral ng mga kanta. Minsan,

equipped with high-end specifi-

hindi ko na kailangang humingi

cations which include a dual core

ng study materials dahil using my

processor, 1 TB Hard Disk Drive

own Platinum Karaoke, naaaral

storage, creating a reliable and

ko na ang mga ito at the conve-

very powerful karaoke player.

nience of our home.”

MAJOR’s innovative multimedia

Truly, Platinum Karaoke is the

functions enable the user to play,

only choice for both Vice Ganda

store, edit and copy any media

and Angeline Quinto. With thou-

files in the karaoke player which

sands of songs more than what

acts as a media console at the

its competitors provide in the

same time.

market, you get to “Birit Pa More” with their two new products, and

Inspiring endorsers Platinum Karaoke also has its

be inspired by two amazing and inspiring performers.

own advanced recording studio to program all songs as close to

Platinum Karaoke is

the original. Every high-end and

available in all leading music

mid-level unit is programmed with

stores nationwide. For more

live-recorded background vocals

information, please visit www.

and the Training Song Technol-

platinumkaraoke.ph. Like The

ogy, which is an automatic func-

PlatinumKaraoke in Facebook

tion wherein pre-recorded vocals

and follow Twitter and Instagram

are played to guide the user on

accounts @platinumkaraoke. EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

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POSTINGS

A PARADISE YOU CAN CALL “HOME” Ambassador in Paradise is Boracay’s stunning resort that offers elegant rooms, fabulous fodder, and other amenities amid an eco-friendly setup

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F

or many, their home is their paradise, and nothing comes really close to calling it otherwise. But what if there is a place, especially in the Philippines’ most popular island that is Boracay, that offers the comforts of paradise-like amenities in a homey and modern setting? Ambassador in Paradise is an AAA-standard quality resort situated in the more serene part of Boracay, which is Station 1. With awards left and right bestowed on it by prestigious organizations here and abroad, one would expect nothing less than the best service, high-class quality comfort and style, and great food—all designed to give resort-goers the best travel experience they can ever dream of. With 60 sophisticated and stylish rooms, all made smart and chic with the finest of furnishings the discriminating traveler would want, Ambassador in Paradise should be the first name to search for in any travel website when it comes to top-notch accommodations. Top-of-the-line accommodations Their Superior Rooms come with a king-size bed, a flat-screen TV, mini bar and a safety deposit box, all standard features, plus an elegant shower room, with free Wi-Fi and complimentary gym access that has top-of-theline fitness equipment. Meanwhile, marvel at their Deluxe Rooms (kingsize or two single beds) located at the beachfront area, with a private balcony that provides an awe-inspiring view of the ocean. These are perfect for couples or families who desire a splendid view of the ocean’s expanse whether it’s sunrise or sunset. The Premier Rooms and the Premier Ocean View Rooms have practically the same facilities (one king-size bed or two single beds, flat-screen TV, mini bar, safety deposit box, shower or Jacuzzi) and room size (50 to 70 square meters). The difference lies in that the Premier Ocean View rooms come with a private balcony that gives an unobstructed and magnificent view of the ocean. For families looking for the best family getaway experience in the country’s most popular beach island, Ambassador in Paradise’s family rooms are spacious enough (60 to 80 square meters) to accommodate the entire household. It has two king-size beds and two loft beds, or four single beds and two loft beds and other standard room amenities. For those looking at an even bigger space to fit the family, the Family Suite, at a sizable 100 square meters, is large enough


The Presidential Suite will make the discriminating traveler feel truly presidential and grand. for a family or the “barkada” inside a distinctive 2-floor setup. The room has two king-size beds and one single bed, but can be further expanded to have five single beds. It has an elegant bathroom with all the modernities that families or groups will find truly rare and inimitable. Privacy and memories But then again, for families who value their privacy and isolation from the maddening crowd, the Casita Family Suite is the best option. Located in a more privileged part of the resort, the Casita Family Suite is where the family can truly enjoy a relaxing and serene environment, with its own spacious patio situated directly on the white beach sands itself. Read a book, take a sip from your popular tropical drink, and enjoy the tranquil setup to make your stay absolutely special. But for couples or newly-weds who want to spend quality romantic time alone with no distractions, the Casita Honeymoon Suite suits their privacy needs and time for creating premium memories together. Located directly on the beach with a huge private balcony, enjoy a luxurious stay with your loved one fully undistracted. And for the discriminating traveler, the Presidential Suite will make him feel truly presidential and grand. With plush and elegant interiors, a huge, 50-inch TV, plus a bar and

dining table that can fit up to 10 guests for your ultimate private party, be absolutely regal treated like royalty as you and your guests are welcomed with champagne. A butler will be at your beck and call throughout your stay. Food is also no problem as sumptuous feasts fit for kings are available at the Al Fresco Restaurant and Bar. You can even request for a romantic set-up by the beach just for the two of you for that extra special dining experience. And you don’t even have to worry about the cleanliness of your surroundings because Ambassador in Paradise is absolutely classified as an eco-friendly resort. To transport guests around the resort, make use of electric and solar-powered cars for noiseless and smokeless movement in the entire facility. The resort also recently installed the Renergy System, a system that uses Used Cooking Oil (UCO) which is expertly blended with diesel fuel to power all its generators. The result is a 70-percent reduction in the resort’s diesel fuel requirements, and is an environment-friendly way of disposing its UCO. Pretty soon, the resort will also install a hydrogen-based power generator, making Ambassador in Paradise resort in a class of its own when it comes to taking care of the environment in its daily operations. Ambassador in Paradise resort is located at Station 1, Sitio Pinaongon, Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines. Call (+6336) 288-1541 (Boracay) or (+632) 511-0511 (Manila). You can email reservations at reservations@ambassadorinparadise.com or visit http://www.ambassadorinparadise.com.

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escape POSTINGS Resorts World Manila President, Kingson Sian, Marriott Manila’s Director of Marketing Cristy Carreon, Resorts World AVP for Entertainment Svetlana Burkin, Star Cruises VP for Entertainment Colin Kerr Star Cruises and Kristine Manalang of Ultimate Productions

Nadine Madarang

Celebratory toast representing the beginning of a new journey led by Marriott Hotel Manila Executive Committee Director of Human Resources Marcia Garza, Director of Marketing Cristy Carreon, Director of Finance Rosanne Lee, Hotel Manager Anna Vergara, General Manager Bruce Winton, Director of Food and Beverage Brendan Mahoney, Director of Revenue Kate Ona and Director of Engineering Marc Creencia

Eager guests gathered at the black hole and were entertained with a dazzling light presentation before the dramatic reveal

Marriott Manila's General Manager Bruce Winton and wife Christina Winton

Marriott Grand Ballroom launched with an out-of-this-world splendor A grand launch for a venue designed to hold grand events

M

arriott Hotel Manila launched the Marriott Grand Ballroom, the Philippines’ largest ballroom, with an out-of-this-world experience filled with visual spectacle, ultra electro music, and thrilling entertainment. The event showcased the ballroom’s unique and advanced features to distinguished corporate guests and partners. It was a journey like no other as guests blasted off to a cosmic adventure. At their first stop at the Grand Ballroom, they relaxed at the spacious foyer designed with lush foliage depicting they are on “Earth”. Then, they were guided through a space tunnel lit by strobe light and haze, leading them to the black hole where the darkness was suddenly interrupted by a sparkling light presentation. Dance of the planets A blast-off countdown signaled

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the unveiling of the new space as Sky Fold Technology ascended and revealed the remaining sections of the ballroom, followed by a 20-minute entertainment act with an interplanetary theme. First to perform were poi dancers in four different stages in all their flaming glory representing Mars, followed by interpretative dancers in metallic gold who paid tribute to the beauty of Venus. Orbiting the main stage was one of Saturn’s rings which hosted a thrilling performance by Pilipinas Got Talent finalist, Frankendal Fabroa. Neptune was introduced by a dazzling laser light display that marked the entrance of flowing aerial dancers dangling from a 12-meter ceiling. The next big thing After the amazing visual dance, men in cloak similar to Jedi warriors marched towards the stage. One by one, they removed their hoods revealing the Executive Committee

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

of Marriott Hotel Manila headed by General Manager Bruce Winton; Hotel Manager Anna Vergara; Director of Finance Rosanne Lee; Director of Engineering Marc Creencia; Director of Food and Beverage Brendan Mahoney; Director of Marketing Cristy Carreon; and Director of Human Resources Marcia Garza. Mr. Winton led the toast, thanking partners and clients for all the support they have extended to the hotel and inviting them to embark on a journey with the new Marriott Grand Ballroom. Meanwhile, wait staff in Avatar,

This 3,000-square meter, pillarless structure with six VIP sky boxes can easily accommodate 4,000 guests for cocktails and 2,500 people for a banquet.

Astronaut and Star Wars costume served cosmic drinks. The space traveler guests were treated to a feast of humungous cakes, fresh oysters, prawns, mussels and other seafood placed on a bed of ice. Earth cake lollipops arrayed a giant globe stand, and a bottomless paellera was filled with pork tender kaldereta. This launch is the second of the three larger-than-life events that introduced the Marriott Grand Ballroom as the next big thing when it comes to meetings, celebrations, product launches, fashion shows, concerts, and other grand events. This 3,000-square meter, pillarless structure with six VIP sky boxes can easily accommodate 4,000 guests for cocktails and 2,500 for a banquet. This massive venue that can be subdivided into four sections is the only ballroom that uses SkyFold Technology, which has vertical folding partitions descend from the ceiling, and 176 Programmable Pillow Ceiling Lights that can change up to 360 colors. For inquiries call (02)988-9999 or visit manilamarriott.com. To join ongoing conversations, like Facebook. com/Marriotthotelmanila, follow @marriottmanila on Twitter and @manilamarriott on Instagram.


Lavish cold cuts and cheese available for everybody

Marriott Manila Director of Human Resources Marcia Garza with Primepower Services Owners Mr. & Mrs. Bernie and Vivian Caramba

Over 2,500pcs lollicakes in red velvet flavor

Marriott Manila’s Assistant Director of Human Resource Alfie Sotto was a dashing all white extra terrestrial

Model Janice Hung stunning in her futuristic black jumpsuit

Adding spice to the galactic affair were wait staff in Avatar, Star Wars and Astronaut costume

Jessica Tan, Jaime Lao, Winston Llamas and Resorts World Manila President, Kingson Sian

Interpretative dancers in metallic gold a tribute to the beauty of Venus

Marriott Manila Director of Marketing Communications, Michelle Garcia in Frederick Peralta

Mr. Craig Platon and Ms. Corazon Bautista of Bautista Organica Farms

The dessert centerpiece of the event, a huge rich chocolate topped with fresh strawberries

People Asia’s Greggy Vera Cruz was hailed “Best in Costume” for the night

Marriott Manila’s Director of Finance Rosanna Lee, Director of Revenue Kate Ona and Sales Executive Alain Inawat

An exhilarating performance by flowing aerial dancers dangling from a 12 meter ceiling

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POSTINGS #CrownePlazaAt10— Celebrating a Decade of Excellence

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night of glitz and glamour happened on July 17—known as #CrownePlazaAt10, it marked the celebration of Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria’s 10th year anniversary and a decade of success in making business travel work. The hotel caters to the needs of the business traveler from fully equipped rooms designed to be an extension of home and office, a wide variety of dining options, and comprehensive facilities for meetings. It hosts smallto large- scale events, ranging from casual meetings to elaborate weddings. Setting a benchmark Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) announced the introduction of two major brands in the market in 2003. The former Manila Galleria Suites was rebranded into the familyfriendly Holiday Inn Manila Galleria, while it revealed the introduction of the first and only Crowne Plaza brand in the Philippines. The Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria officially opened its doors in 2005. It was a timely opening in the fast-booming Ortigas district which

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needed a venue to cater to its business needs. Since the hotel opened its doors, it has been called the Manila ‘home’ by an established loyal following who has seen how it has evolved through the years. ‘Great Hotel, Guests Love’ “In its ten years, since it opened its door, Crowne Plaza has consistently lived up to its motto which is to always be a ‘Great Hotel, Guests Love’, says Ian Reid, General Manager of Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, “This simple motto is the driving force behind everything we do, and what has carried us through the decade.” “This year will see bigger and more programs for our guests to enjoy such as the IHG Business Rewards, Sleep Advantage, IHG Culinary Journey, and a special nutritious Kid’s Menu among others,” shares Reid, “We will continue to make sure to deliver our brand of consistency in everything we do, and these programs are only a peek of what’s to come in the years ahead.” Holiday Inn Manila Galleria and Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria are among the nine hotels under the belt of the Intercontinental Hotels Group

EXPER IENCE TR AV EL A ND LI V ING // Vol. 2 No. 3 // 2015

which has 4,700 hotels in nearly 100 territories and countries. It was recently inducted in TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame for receiving its Certificate of Excellence for the past five years which is based on guests’ reviews and comments. Journey ahead In the pipeline are major programs tailored to refresh, rejuvenate. and re-energize guests. This includes Sleep Advantage, which gives importance to a restful night’s sleep, a major factor that affects traveler’s performance, with a guaranteed wake up call, a choice of staying in a “Quiet Zone”, Aromatherapy and Premium Bedding Experience. Food lovers will be pleased with the rollout of the IHG Culinary Jour-

ney where featured celebrity chefs from all over the world will share their special dishes that will be made available in all dining destinations of both Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria and Holiday Inn Manila Galleria. Loyal IHG Rewards Club members are treated to a new top membership level, Spire Elite, where qualified members will enjoy more perks and benefits to choose from. Moreover, a special global business bookings programs, dubbed as IHG Business Rewards, offers rewards for bookers for their bookings for guest rooms, meetings, and all events booked at over 4,700 IHG hotels worldwide. Sister hotel Holiday Inn Manila Galleria, on top of its Kids Stay and Eat Free program has also recently launched its special Kid’s Menu in partnership with Nutrition Australia, a special menu that was created to especially take into importance the health and taste buds of its kiddie guests. For more information, call (632) 633-7222 or visit crowneplaza.com/ galleriamanila. Follow Crowne Plaza Manila on facebook, instagram, and twitter and be kept updated on the newest promos and events.


RCBC Bankard introduces new design with EMV chip technology

Travel privileges, online security measures, and budget advisories empower card owners to do smart spending RCBC Bankard Services Corporation is set to present the new design of the RCBC Bankard credit cards. The new design features four wave vectors and hexagons lining the top and bottom portion of the EMV chipembedded credit cards. “As we start converting to EMV cards, it is very opportune for us to introduce a new card design, which conveys the exceptional benefits our cardholders get from their RCBC Bankard.” said Ms. Angela Mirasol, Vice President and Marketing Group Head for RCBC Bankard.

The four wave vectors represent better budget management, a rewarding credit card experience, world class travel privileges, and secure shopping, both in-stores and online. RCBC Bankard prides itself in developing award-winning budget management tools including the following: the Spend Monitor, a free SMS alert feature that informs the cardholders once they are about to reach their predefined monthly budget; Spend Analyzer, which summarizes the cardholders’ monthly and year-todate spending according to categories;

Unli 0%, which allows cardholders to convert their straight purchases to three months 0% installment, by simply calling RCBC Bankard’s Customer Service number. It also boasts of a rewarding credit card experience through its most flexible rewards program that allows the cardholders to shift from earning points, to earning AIRMILES, to getting cash rebates. Recently, it also introduced the All-in Rewards Program, which allows cardholders to earn points from partner establishments on top of the points that they earn from their card’s rewards program. RCBC Bankard partner establishments include Petron, Figaro, Angel’s Pizza, Florsheim, Jellybean, Folded & Hung, Naturalizer, and the Cravings Group.

RCBC Bankard prides itself in developing award-winning budget management tools Safe, secure, and luxurious RCBC Bankard also provides a luxurious travel experience for its cardholders with its top-of-theline travel privileges across all card brands. They can call concierge service for information that they may

need when travelling abroad, and relax at the luxurious Miascor lounge at NAIA 1 while waiting for their flight. Further, it comes with a free travel insurance and Purchase Protection Insurance for unforeseen events. On top of all of these, cardholders can enjoy heightened security with EMV technology. Unlike the traditional magnetic stripe feature, EMV chips randomly generate unique codes in every transaction, making it more challenging to duplicate and use. On the other hand, for online shopping, the solution lies in the ShopSecure feature which allows cardholders to nominate their online Personal Identification Number (PIN). Alternatively, they can get a Webshopper, a reference device specifically for online shopping. RCBC Bankard Services Corporation issues and manages the RCBC Bankard portfolio in behalf of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, one of the Philippines’ largest private universal banks. RCBC and RCBC Bankard Services Corporation are members of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC), a conglomerate composed of close to 60 companies across a wide spectrum of industries including banking, insurance, education, real estate, construction, information technology, energy resources, advertising, and more.

“Dream, believe, achieve” is the message to shareholders Eurotel Hotel celebrates its 9th year Eurotel Hotel,

for 10 years and one

which is part of the

garnered the fifteen-

IDEAS Hotels Group,

years loyalty award.

celebrated its ninth

Meanwhile, among

year anniversary with

the twelve finalists for

the theme “Dream…

the Most Outstand-

Believe…Achieve.”

ing Employee Award,

The highlight of the

GremondMasarate

affair was giving

of Eurotel Makati

chosen by a panel of

only by those present

and winners. Addi-

recognition to the

was proclaimed as

judges composed of

was clear that

during the night but

tional bonuses were

very loyal employees

the winner. The Most

the HR Director, Sec-

night: Those who

by all members

given to the most out-

of the company who

Outstanding Supervi-

tor Head, Employee

dreamed can make

of the entire IDEAS

standing employee

had served from

sor Award went to

Relations and Man-

a difference. The

Hotels Group.

and supervisor win-

five to fifteen years.

Ronnie Balbin of Eu-

aging Director.

same holds true for

Plaques of ap-

ners who will be the

The most outstand-

rotel North EDSA who

The night

those who believe

preciation as well as

official candidates

ing employees and

emerged as the victor

also highlighted

that they have what

cash gifts were given

representing Eurotel

supervisor were

from among the four

local talents who

it takes to be part

out to all awardees

in the upcoming

also honored.

candidates.

performed to the

of the company’s

Mabuhay Awards,

delight of the guests

continuous growth

the most prestigious

Making a difference

as well as the

of the company. The

The winners

IDEAS Hotels

achievement of all

Twenty two (22) employees received 5-year loyalty

The message

awards. Two more

passed the screening

Group employees

employees should

received recognition

and were carefully

and Officers.

also be emulated not

The winners will represent Eurotel in the upcoming Mabuhay Awards.

search for outstanding employees in the Philippine hotel industry.

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