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PERIENCE Volume 5 No. 4

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CONTENTS

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PERIENCE Volume 5 No. 4

ON THE COVER

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Ghie Pangilinan, co-founder of Skin Magical, shares how she and her husband Jerry established a highly successful skin product brand that fulfilled their family’s dreams---as well as those of countless others’.

40 Christmas Special 10

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The magical tale of Skin Magical

A couple’s journey into beauty, wellness, and business success

Travel Luxe 19

Reviving the Manila Grand Opera Hotel

How the historical icon is positioning itself to capture today’s generation

Travel Lite 24

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A jewel tucked in Intramuros

Boutique hotel Bayleaf is getting stellar reviews and with good reason

Luxurious, elegant, and neighborly

Winford Manila Resort and Casino places luxury living, and the game of high rollers, within reach

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Vivatel in Malaysia: hospitality with a heart

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The allure of Antipolo

Art museums, nature trails, exotic restos---it’s time you give this region a second look


CONTENTS

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Celebrity Travel 42

Entertaining Martha Stewart, Lazatin style

The food and lifestyle queen samples the finest Philippine dishes

Encounters 46 50

London daytour

A Filipina living in the British capital shows you its best destinations you can visit within 24 hours

Legoland Malaysia: where you can be a child again Theme parks, sea worlds, and a giant playground of building blocks

Events and Highlights 54

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58 62 64

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Marco Polo Hotels – HK GM receives award from

Stelliers’ Greater China 2019

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New World Manila Bay Hotel The Christmas tree it lit up was not just stunning--it was sparklingly crystal

Diamond Hotel Philippines Dazzling ways to treat your family this holiday season

New World Makati Hotel A 25th anniversary celebration

ARTDIALOGO’s creative synergies now on its 5th

cycle in SEA

Heilen Medical Wellness Center Fun yet lasting ways to stay healthy and happy the next year

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Be Vine's perfect partner on your most awaited day

#VineBride

Contact/Follow us:

@vineaesthetics @vineaesthetics

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Publisher’s Note

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agic. That’s the one word I’d like to leave you with as we end 2019 and move forward into 2020. Life has been filled with challenges this past year, and yet it has also opened many opportunities. Confronting those challenges can bring out the best from us---and that’s when magic happens. We get a second wind, see light where there was only darkness, and yearn for new heights to reach. Our cover story is certainly one strong example of how we can transform our lives, and realize our dreams of success. The same holds true for our other stories: one historical icon’s journey into restoration, a culinary lab that blossomed into a hotel, a casino quietly making it big in an underserved area. Their magic can be yours. May you find hope and inspiration in our issue today.

Ana Manansala

Publisher

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Publisher: Editorial Consultant: Associate Editor: Creative Director:

Ana M. Manansala Cora Llamas Rory Visco Neil Mariano

Contributing Writers: John Michael Bueno, Desiree S. Ching, Anne Ruth dela Cruz, Ana Karina Jardin, Ruby Asoy-Lebajo, Rica Paras, and Stephanie Tumampos Contributing Photographers: John Michael Bueno, Nelson Casuncad, Desiree S. Ching, and Stephanie Tumampos

Administrative and Finance Assistant: Sales Executive:

Melany Guevarra Simbul Santy Asperin Layno Bob Marasigan, Jun Escuadro

Experience Travel and Living is published bi-monthly by

MODE DEVI PUBLISHING, INC. Unit 2020 Cityland Herrera Tower, V.A. Rufino St., Brgy. Bel-Air, Salcedo Village, Makati City

DENNIS SIA, Vice President LILIAN SENGIA, Chief Finance Officer

Visit www.experiencetravelph.com Email: experiencetravelandliving@gmail.com Like us at www.facebook.com/ExperienceTravel.Ph Instagram: ExperienceTravel.ph Twitter: @xptravel.ph

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.


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CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Ghie Pangilinan’s pitch: Skin Magical can make you attractive AND successful

The magical tale of

Skin Magical New skin and a new life --- the Pangilinans’ success story has inspired many TEXT BY Anne ruth dela cruz

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n a period of four short years, Skin Magical has grown to be one of the best distributors of beauty products in the Philippines. The latest count shows that it has 160 distributors and over 40,000 resellers nationwide and even abroad. Its founders, husband-andwife team, Jerry and Rogelyn “Ghie” Pangilinan, had to overcome many hurdles before reaping what they had sown. First, a flashback to 2003. After having their first child that year, the couple decided that it was best for Jerry to work abroad as a seafarer. Meanwhile, Ghie tried her hand at opening her own business. She attempted other enterprises: selling hamburgers, running a sari-sari store at home, and setting up a telemarketing business. Ghie even tried to follow in Jerry’s footsteps by looking for work abroad, both in London and in Dubai. She, however, failed to find a suitable job.

Online selling “There is always this notion that if a member of the family is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), he makes a lot of money. That is not true,” Ghie relates. “Jerry made just enough to pay off our debt whenever he came home. That is why

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I had to look for other means to augment his income.” Ghie then ventured into online selling, as she liked the idea of doing business while staying at home and looking after her children. She sold a lot of products online, such as gadgets and baby clothes. Another promising venture were T-shirts during the elections; at one point, she had an order for a million of them. While the returns of this last enterprise were big, Ghie’s expenses still remained larger. This time, her sister suggested that she

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try selling skincare products online. Back in 2013, not too many people were doing it. Skin care was becoming a concern for many customers, but they still bought the solutions from the brick-and-mortar stores. That made the online beauty shopper an untapped market. With just P7,000 in her pocket, Ghie came up with her own line of skincare products known as Speaks G. This particular brand picked up --and soon, her business was doing so well that she was able to to buy a car from the earnings. “Jerry was expected to come home for vacation back in 2013 and I surprised him with a new car,” Ghie says. Because of the business growth, she adds that “we decided that Jerry would no longer work abroad and that he would help me with the business.” The following year saw Ghie and Jerry trying to distribute another brand of skincare products while still selling the Speaks G line. Business, however, took a downturn, causing the couple to lose all their savings. They found themselves starting from zero.

The turning point A manufacturer friend helped the couple pick up the pieces by advising them to rebrand their business; he also provided them with rebranded products

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on a consignment basis. Ghie and Jerry’s line of skincare products, which they called Skin Magical, was born in 2015. Their online business resumed, highlighting Skin Magical, and there was no stopping the couple. Their best selling products are the various rejuvenating sets that cater to different skin needs. Rejuvenating Set 0 is for sensitive skin. Rejuvenating Set 1 treats skin which has no pimples, can also remove pigmentation, and has whitening purposes. Rejuvenating Set 2 follows both sets for maintenance purposes. Rejuvenating Set 3 addresses pimple problems. Rejuvenating Set 4, the Tomato and Lemon Sets, contains anti-ageing properties. Skin Magical also has a line of lotions as well as different types of soaps and creams. “The Rejuvenating Sets are our best sellers because they are sold for only P250 and you have everything that you need,” Jerry explains. “The distributors get these at P135 per set while the reseller gets it at P170. So you can already see how much they can make.” He adds that in order to be a Skin Magical reseller, you only need to purchase P5,000 worth of products. With that, you will be able to set up your own online selling business. Skin Magical has grown by leaps and bounds. It now has nationwide resellers,

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franchisees at the provincial levels, and distributors at the district levels. The business also managed to find its way abroad---thanks to OFWs who would bring their products with them when they leave again for overseas work. Some of these OFWs said that they earn even more from selling Skin Magical products than from their regular jobs. Skin Magical’s appeal also goes beyond the Philippine market. “We also have Indian nationals who are asking about our products,” Ghie says. “We plan to start exporting but we have to make sure that we can produce enough supply to meet the demand.”

The success of their business has allowed Jerry and Ghie to spend more time with their kids.

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Skin Magical has created a well-balanced lifestyle for the Pangilinans.

With the earnings from the business, the couple has been able to construct a warehouse. A second warehouse is being built to meet their orders because the first one turned out to be insufficient. Social media and collaborations with influencers have also helped Skin Magical continually expand.

Family time “Our sales has quadrupled this year---thanks to advertising and online advertising,” Ghie says. “The wives of OFWs have also helped us grow the business. Because of Skin Magical, some of their husbands no longer need to go abroad to earn a decent living.” To boost their supply chain, Jerry is looking into the possibility of purchasing equipment that can help speed up the production process. “If we want to make our presence felt abroad, we really need the help of machines to help us produce more,” Jerry notes. “In the past, we tapped our neighbors to help us if we had large orders, but that

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approach will not suffice at this time.” With Skin Magical doing well, Ghie’s sister made another suggestion to the couple: venture into the spa business. Ghie found it a good idea because as a resident of Morong, Rizal herself, she had to go to the nearest mall just to have a facial or her nails done. The couple opened their first branch of Skin Magical Beauty Wellness and Spa on April 2016; they later opened other branches in Tanay, Teresa, and Cainta. “We offer facials, massage, and nail spa, among others. This was actually my sister’s dream to have a spa and I helped her realize that dream,” Ghie says. There is a sad echo in her voice as Ghie reveals,“Unfortunately, my sister suffered an aneurysm in 2018 and died. However, her memory lives on in the businesses that we established.” Thanks to the success of their business, the Pangilinans now have the opportunity to go abroad as a family. In one of their trips to Taiwan, the couple saw another business opportunity – to bring authentic Taiwanese milk tea to Rizal. They have already opened a kiosk and have plans of franchising this once the business booms. “We have been to Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States,” Ghie says. “We hope to make more memories together as a family, something that was just a dream a few years ago.” Skin Magical is a story of transformation. As its products revitalize their customers’ skin, the brand has created a whole new life for the Pangilinans, and a brighter future they can look forward to.

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Jerry, a former OFW, and Ghie now help other OFW’s to realized their dreams.

Photoshoot credits: Creative management: Verde Creatives (Bemz Benedito and Rufino Hirang) Hair and make-up for Ms. Ghie Pangilinan: Herson Lee Rada Hair and make-up for Mr. Jerry Pangilinan and kids: Charlene Dacanay Styling: Emman Dela Rosa Production coordination: Santy Asperin Layno Production support: Skin Magical staff and employees

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TRAVEL LUXE

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Reviving the Manila Grand Opera Hotel How management is positioning its return to its days of glory TEXT BY Anne Ruth Dela Cruz PHOTOS FROM MANILA GRAND OPERA HOTEL

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hen Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domogaso was elected Mayor of the City of Manila, he vowed to clean up the country’s capital and do everything he could to regain its lost glory. He spent his first few months in office clearing main roads of all obstructions. He also organized regular stakeholders’ meetings to discuss what could be done to revive the city which progress seemed to have left behind. Rodney C. Robosa, the General Manager

of Manila Grand Opera Hotel, was among those who attended those meetings. To him and his colleagues – businessmen, business owners, and hotel executives – an up-and-close encounter with a sitting mayor was a first. “He wanted us to work together so that the City of Manila would be able to attract more foreign tourists to the country,” he recalls. One thing that he brought to the Mayor’s attention was his hotel’s own unique challenge: its location at the corner of Doroteo Jose and Rizal Avenue. Not long after, Yorme Isko – as

The hotels main entrance can be a doorway to history.

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TRAVEL LUXE The luxurious rooms are among the hotel’s attractions.

The bulk of the Manila Grand Opera Hotel guests are usually residents from the nearby districts who opt to have staycations instead of traveling to the nearby provinces. Robosa jokes that at one point, it was known as the “Summer Capital of Tondo” where Manileños preferred to do their R and R instead of venturing out to Baguio. The hotel has also become a favorite venue that holds seminars and training programs with many participants staying for the duration of these activities.

Historical icon Yorme’s actions, according to Robosa, “will contribute greatly to our desire to promote the Manila Grand Opera Hotel as a hotel of history.”

the Mayor is popularly known – not only cleared and cleaned the vicinity of the hotel, but he also lit it up and increased police visibility in the area. Traffic near the hotel has become more manageable, and snatchers who used to prey on the careless now think twice before engaging in any criminal activities. Yorme Isko also gave Robosa his own marching orders: “… to prepare reports so that the mayor could closely monitor the number and type of tourists that visit Manila,” Robosa said. “For now, 10 to 15 percent of the hotel’s market are foreigners who are mostly Chinese and Koreans.”

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Investment in the accommodations to improve them is always ongoing.

This icon sits on the former site of the Manila Grand Opera House which, according to a Philippine Graphic article written by historian Jose Victor Z. Torres, served as a premiere entertainment venue during the Spanish and American colonial periods. When it first opened its doors in 1899, the Opera House was originally built with a cycling racetrack called the National Cycle Track; it was owned by a certain N.T. Hashim who arrived in Manila in 1892. The land he bought for the track was part of the Hacienda de San

Lazaro or the San Lazaro Estate that was being subdivided into lots for sale. Barely a year later, he converted the place into a theater, the Teatro Nacional, which served as the arena for the Russian Circus Troupe and American theater companies. In 1902, an Italian named Balzofiore entered into a contract with Hashim to renovate and innovate the place for the Italian Opera Company. The heralded outcome was the Manila Grand Opera House. One significant part that it played in Philippine history was playing host to the opening of the first Philippine Assembly on October 16, 1907. The elections of the Assembly’s 80 members on July 30 of that same year signaled the formation of a body that would represent the 7.6-million-strong

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TRAVEL LUXE

Guests can choose from more than 200 rooms.

Filipino population. It was also instituted under the Cooper Act of 1902, following the publication of a census and the restoration of peace to the country after the Spanish-American war. Prominent politicians, businessmen, labor leaders, educators, writers, and newspapermen made up the Philippine Assembly. After hosting the first Philippine Assembly, the Opera House became a favorite meeting place for political and civil organizations. In 1910, it hosted a welcome program for then Resident Commissioner Manuel L. Quezon following his successful appearance in the US Congress. Twenty years later, it also became the venue for the First Independence Congress.

The lost years Unfortunately, the Opera House went into decline after its heyday. By the start of World War II, “it was virtually like a warehouse where its interiors were a cavernous darkness, dark and musty,” Torres wrote. After the war, Toribio Teodoro, a shoemaker by profession, went on a shopping spree and bought the Opera House and other properties around the Sta. Cruz area. He constructed buildings along Rizal Avenue and the era of sinehans or cinemas was born. Under the management of Teodoro’s son-in-law, Jose Dayrit, and daughter Cecilia, the Opera House returned to its old use as a venue for stage shows; it also featured second-run movies as double features. Among the legendary artists who performed at the Manila Grand Opera House were Katy de la Cruz, Bobby Gonzales, Diomedes Maturan, Sylvia La Torre, Conching Rosal, and the Reycard

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Duet. When television and the movies slowly replaced live entertainment, the Opera House gradually lost its luster and was relegated as the venue for taped-aslive TV programs.

Staging a comeback Things changed for the better in the 1960s. Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua purchased the lot and structure of the Manila Grand Open House and transformed it into the Manila Grand Opera Hotel. Presently, the hotel has 205 rooms and has become the place to go to for good food: fine dining at the Circa 1900 Bar and Restaurant, or The New President Sharksfin Seafood Restaurant, or a cup of good coffee at the Mr. Donut Coffee Shop. The hotel also houses the Manila Grand Oriental Casino and the Open Karaoke Bar. The hotel’s Ambassador Hall ballroom can accommodate up to 800 guests. Smaller groups can be accommodated in the hotel’s meeting rooms and in the business center. The hotel also has a swimming pool, massage services, a jacuzzi spa, a sauna, and a lush garden. The hotel also offers 14-hour room service as well as concierge and laundry services to cap the experience of luxury that has now become the trademark of the Manila Grand Opera Hotel. “We are constantly renovating our rooms so that we will not be left behind. Competition is stiff nowadays but you can always count on our staff at the Manila Grand Opera Hotel to give you the best service that you deserve,” says Robosa. That is a solid first step into restoration and revival.

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TEXT BY RORY VISCO PHOTOS from bayleaf hotel

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hat was initially intended to be just a laboratory for students of the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) became a full-blown hotel facility. Built in 2010, the vision of Atty. Roberto “Bobby” Laurel, LPU President, was to make it an extension of the university, something like a laboratory for students. “But when he saw the magnificent view from the hotel, he changed his mind and rued the loss of its potential, if it will only be used by the students --- so he decided to open it to the public,” narrates Ed Vitug, Bayleaf Hotel General Manager. So Atty. Laurel decided to open it as a full-scale operating hotel, with four restaurants, 57 rooms, a ballroom. and four meeting rooms,---facilities not usually found in a small, three-star boutique hotel. There were initial plans to build a “higher and bigger hotel” but the height restrictions that governed Intramuros buildings nixed the idea. Vitug continues, “We just worked around what we have. The designers patterned it like from the outside looking in. It looks like it’s blending with Intramuros’ structures but inside it’s a little bit modern.” The founder’s vision for the hotel became larger and grander.

A jewel tucked in

Intramuros A boutique hotel that offers near 5-star services has been getting raves

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Travel review websites consistently give Bayleaf high ratings.

After the opening, Bayleaf Hotel was soon overwhelmed by the enthusiastic patronage and positive comments. During its first four years, the hotel was consistently number one on TripAdvisor. The Travelers’ Choice Award, given only to the top one percent of hotels in the country, was given to Bayleaf four years in a row. Equally impressive were the compliments from many other guests’ review platforms like Expedia or Booking. All these expressions of appreciation will continue to improve the hotel’s

facilities. Vitug says, “We’re replacing carpets and wallpapers, and we renovated our rooms already. The last phase would be the repainting of the building where we will need four months of good weather; we have to do it in January or February.”

A true Intramuros icon Officially, the Bayleaf Hotel is also called as the teaching and research hotel of LPU. After their academics, students then go to a real-life scenario where they are taught how to handle themselves

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Four restaurants offer guests a sumptous dining experience.

in front of different types of guests— nice, demanding, or difficult—and to develop more of their skills in a real-world environment. Bayleaf Hotel is the only hotel inside Intramuros, and a good mix of student interns (30 percent) and professional staff help run the hotel. Of the 30 percent, majority are from LPU; the hotel also accepts students from 10 other partner universities and culinary schools in Metro Manila and in Bulacan. As far as room stay is concerned, Vitug says majority of guests are tourists, with more than 40 percent of them from different countries. The domestic market corners the events segment, most of them corporate entities like pharmaceuticals, communications, government agencies, and the social market. One “happy problem” they have is a lot of inquiries which they cannot accommodate all the time because of their size. He hopes that Mayor Isko Moreno and the Intramuros administration can help them to further improve the area. He says, “Whatever the program and plans of the mayor, we are more than willing to support it because we know there are a lot of basic needs in Intramuros that are yet to be looked into, like socio-political issues. Despite these, we still try to give guests the better experience they deserve in this area.” Vitug proudly relates that the quality of food at Bayleaf is also something they are proud of. Offering a variety of culinary experience are their food and beverage outlets: 9 Spoons, Raffaele Woodfired Pizza, the Cioccolata Churros Café (customers claim that their churros are to die for), and the spectacular Sky Deck. Bayleaf ’s reviews, Vitug relates, are focused on the quality of their food, pointing to the hotel’s fantastic cuisine. He says, “We will never be able to consistently achieve our ratings if not for the quality of stay in general and the quality of food and service, with more than 70 percent of our revenues coming from our food and beverage outlets.”

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Simple elegance Vitug says Bayleaf ’s design could have gone bold and loud, but they wanted something simple yet exudes elegance--not just aesthetically but in terms of service and accessories. He gives their beddings as an example: “They’re not the cheapest in the market because they are high-end. We chose the thread counts in our linen so that guests get the remarkable experience that can’t be measured just by looking at it. Though we are a boutique hotel, guests get a complete experience.” He wishes that their guests would 28

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have more opportunity to explore Intramuros because the area is full of history. Safety issues make roaming in the area difficult, but the Intramuros administration has implemented programs to address them.

A “coaching” manager For a manager who has been with Bayleaf Hotel since day one, Vitug brings with him more than 20 years of experience in a 5-star environment. He elaborates, “Basically, I conceptualized everything, the name of the restaurants, the concept, NO. 4

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the design, and I also led construction and design in Cavite. When I came here, my challenge was to convert whatever I learned from a five-star environment to a boutique operation. I cannot introduce the most expensive wines in this area. I have to find good wines at a certain level to compromise so I think we were able to hit the sweet spot right here.” Vitug sees himself as a “coaching” manager, more suitable and effective for a younger, energetic staff. He believes in the value of training as a trained staff can give the guests a more pleasant


The windows of the hotels rooms open to a relaxing view.

experience. Skilled individuals are placed on the front line, supported by a welldesigned training program. Bayleaf Hotel’s service culture has always been about “kalinga” or genuine care. At the onset, the utmost requirement for the staff, Vitug said, is to understand and live it, and all their policies and procedures are based on the hotel’s 10 principles of looking after their guests, stakeholders, properties, and resources. He says, “Kalinga is inherent to us so we look for staff members who would

embrace the idea of looking after the guests genuinely. The staff has to be friendly, polite, and always ready to smile. Then of course, we have the typical organizational requirements of being ready for anything like planning and sharing all our issues daily so we learn from everyone.”

The future As mentioned, there is now a Bayleaf Hotel in Cavite and Vitug hopes they can start working on their third property in

Davao within the next two years. Bayleaf Cavite is much bigger, about three times the size of Intramuros, with a huge swimming pool area. He says, “Everything there is much bigger than what we have here. Also in our pipeline is Davao. We just built a school there last August so next is to open the hotel.” But right now, Vitug’s wish is that they remain to be the only iconic hotel in Intramuros. Growth is imminent --- they have evolved within its walls, and the next step might be expansion outside them.

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Luxurious, elegant, and neighborly

Stunning gold greets the guest upon arrival.

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Winford Manila Resort and Casino pampers you with a five-star, but budget-friendly treatment TEXT BY Anne Ruth dela Cruz PHOTOS from Winford Manila Resort and Casino

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here can you find a hotel bellboy or a footman loading the luggage of his guests into a tricycle? Or a mom dropping by the casino to play on the slot machine before picking up her children from school? Or bystanders at the gaming tables pooling their resources together to make a bet together with the players? Those were just some of the anecdotes shared

by Jeffrey Evora, President and Chief Operating Officer of Winford Manila Resort and Casino. Nestled in the heart of Sta. Cruz, Manila and just behind SM San Lazaro, Winford Manila Resort and Casino is a five-star hospitality brand that incorporates luxurious lifestyle and entertainment alternatives, gaming and attractive membership programs, and promotions for its clientele in Manila.

Evening at the pool side is one way to de-stress.

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A casino of comfort “We offer a five-star facility at very affordable prices,” Evora says, adding that the majority of their guests come from the Tondo, Manila, and La Loma, Quezon City areas. “Most of our guests come here riding on tricycles because the tricycle terminal is just across the hotel.” The 22-story hotel consists of 128 internationally designed hotel rooms, a swimming pool, gym and spa, a coffee shop and dining area, retail outlets, a helipad, and an eight-level parking structure among other amenities and services. It also houses a grand ballroom that can accommodate the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) market. Winford Manila Hotel Resort formally opened its doors on April 22, 2016 while its casino launched in January of that same year. The casino is a threelevel area comprised of gaming facilities

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with a capacity of 600 slot machines and 110 gaming tables. One highlight is an entertainment venue called Hippodrome, named after San Lazaro’s famed horse racetrack, and which showcases world class entertainment from popular acts both here and abroad. “We have casino guests who bring along their friends when they play,” Evora reveals a secondary market. “These friends are the player’s runners who run to get food, or whatever the player needs. Since these friends cannot afford the minimum bet, what they do is that they wait for their friend to bet before they place their bets.”

The man and woman on the street Not too many people know casinos can make money for the man on the street or the mom who wants some leisure time before picking up her child from school. That was one of the things Evora learned

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years ago when he was working full time at a casino hotel in Las Vegas. He inputted all the details about the players at the casino, including the amount of money each player bet, the games he played, the time of day he was present, etc. “While there would be big time players, the data I gathered showed that the casinos really made more money out


Evora believes that safety and security should support aesthetics and design.

of the regular people,” he says. “That was the result of a lot of marketing that we did to attract more people to go to casinos. We would be giving away US$20 coupons just so the people would come and play.” It was his background in the marketing of the casino hotel that gave Evora the opportunity to return to the Philippines. Back in 2008, Resorts World Manila was looking for a VP for Marketing for their casino operations, preferring an executive who had experience marketing one. Evora fit the bill and was hired. Evora’s stint at Resorts World Manila saw a growing number of Filipinos try their luck at the casino. Resorts World was also the first hotel to introduce a shuttle service that ferried guests to the hotel from various pick-up points. Evora also witnessed the 2017 shooting which had a gunman fire his automatic rifle inside the hotel, causing a fire to break out. The attack ultimately killed 38 people and injured 50 others. He was put in charge of looking

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Players can take a breather in the restaurants.

after the needs of the injured. That experience caused Evora to prioritize the implementation of outstanding security measures in Winford when he joined the hotel in 2017. He points out that security can never be overestimated, and that the hotel personnel would do everything in their power to keep their guests safe and comfortable.

Security and safety Apart from beefing up security, the hotel staff were trained how to respond to an earthquake, a fire breakout, and other calamities. Frequent fire and earthquake drills were initiated. “In 2017, we used to have earthquake and fire drills every week,” Evora recalls. “In 2018, we did them every two weeks to avoid desensitizing the employees just in case an actual event happens. We schedule the drills at different times and dates.” When it comes to managing the hotel staff, Evora is known to be very open and approachable. He makes it a point to have weekly conversations over coffee to address the issues employees think are affecting hotel operations. He treats his staff as his friends and makes sure that they understand why certain things are done in a certain way. “When I have meetings with my staff, my staff are really spoiled. That’s because I am the one who prepares and sends out the minutes of the meeting,” he says with a smile. “But, I make sure that I follow up the things I assigned them to do.”

Easy traffic Evora is also excited about working closely with Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso. In fact, he was the first to arrive at the first stakeholders meeting that the Mayor called. During the succeeding meetings, Evora would send a staff member who happened to be a longtime resident of Sta. Cruz.

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“Since Mayor Isko was elected mayor, traffic in the vicinity of the hotel has improved tremendously,” Evora observes. “The area has been cleared of any obstructions and we cannot wait to support the mayor in his other projects for Manila.” Currently Evora is content with Winford Manila Resort and Casino being identified as the hotel located next to SM San Lazaro. “Being located next to SM San Lazaro is working to our advantage,” Evora says. “Our foreign guests only have to cross the street to buy souvenirs that

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they can bring home. Those who do not have the proper swimwear attire can just go there to shop.” That personal touch that makes the guests feel like they are welcome neighbors is one of the draws that are bringing in more people. It is the secret that has transformed Winford Manila Resort and Casino into a hidden gem in the heart of the City of Manila. Winford Manila Resort and Casino: 352 Zone 35 1800 Consuelo Street, Consuelo St, Santa Cruz, Manila, 1014 Metro Manila. Landline: (02) 8528 3600. Website: https:// www.winfordmanila.com/


Vivatel Kuala Lumpur : Hospitality with a heart! Text and photos by Anna Karina Jardin

Nasir Ismail, General Manager

K

uala Lumpur offers a distinct charm to travelers from across the globe. The city amidst modernity still shows how diverse Malaysian culture is, through its breathtaking architecture and sceneries. The city does not sleep gastronomically as well. It is a great place to visit at any month. You will feel the pulse of South East Asia through its diversity in culture, community, and food. Kuala Lumpur knows how to define “vacation” through all of these mentioned aspects. The “Truly Malaysian” hospitality will linger with you as well when you stay at Vivatel. Managed and Operated by Vouk Hotel Management, Vivatel Kuala Lumpur is a modern 4-star hotel that is accessible to and from all parts of Klang Valley. The Petronas Twin Towers, Jalan Alor where the Hawker stores are located, and shopping places are a few minutes away. Its tasteful furnishing and harmonious blend of contemporary design, inspired by the elements of water, fire, wood, earth, and metal, will usher a spirit of zen-like serenity---which is welcome after you have toured the city. Vivatel Kuala Lumpur is 45 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airports (KLIA 1& 2). Guests can easily purchase necessities and anything they fancy from the nearby malls. The hotel is 10 minutes away from Bukit Bintang, a shopping haven; it is also a 5 minute-walk to the nearest Lightrail Transit. The Retro Cafe & Lounge is open from 6:30 am to 11:30pm It serves local, Asian, and international cuisine. To chill and relax after a long day from work or hours of visiting tourist spots, CLUB 7 is the place to be. It is open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. to serve signature cocktails and drinks. Vivatel’s hospitality is personalized to cater to the needs and comfort of each guest. Its efficient and friendly staff will immediately make you feel at home. Hence, they practice hospitality with a heart in here. Nasir Ismail, Vivatel Kuala Lumpur’s General Manager, explains the importance of this core value. He says, “Hospitality to me means greeting each and every guest in a warm welcoming manner and making sure all of their needs are taken care of. I believe, people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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Text and Photos by JOHN MICHAEL BUENO

The growing allure of

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here are many reasons to consider Antipolo as your next travel destination. To begin with, there is its proximity to Metro Manila, the accessibility of commute to and from the city, the scrumptious food, and the tons of activities you can do. This so-called ‘city in the sky’ is a first-class city. It’s also more than just a place for pilgrims. You can stay for more than a few days because it has several affordable hotels and resorts. Be sure to check out the following hot spots:

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Antipolo Nature trails, art museums, and exquisite cuisines are just some of the reasons to revisit it

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Luljetta’s Garden Suites Located at Sitio Loreland Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City, Luljetta’s Garden Suites provides refuge for the family. With several floors overlooking the mountain ranges, this place has a jacuzzi, several pools, a fish spa, wet and dry saunas, a massage area, IG-worthy spots, and cozy rooms that can accommodate big groups and families. Luljetta’s Cafe is known for its suman with caramel and cashew nuts --- all of which are sourced in Antipolo.

Mount Purro Nature Reserve The Mount Purro Nature Reserve is part of the Upper Marikina Watershed. It sits at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain range located at Purok 5 Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City. It’s a bit of a drive from

the city center, but very accessible and is available for day trips or stays. It’s an oasis full of fruit-bearing trees and Antipolo’s alluring flora! The reserve officers have been working with the local tribe called Dumagats. These natives can teach you how to start a fire with sticks and dried leaves, and more important, how to survive in the forest. They also have cooking demos utilizing the days’ harvest. Their not-so-

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deep pool can be used by your whole family. The cottages are designed for large groups, and are perfect for a short family getaway or company team-building activities. The owners are descendants of General Miguel Malvar, which means you can encounter a bit of history with his strategically placed memorabilia. They are very warm and hospitable and might sit with you while having lunch at Loli’s Kitchen which serves a buffet of organic Filipino food. The nature trail in the reserve can lead to a 90-minute trek to the summit. It’s one way to get your kids to experience nature.

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Obra Ni Juan Homegrown and proud, Obra Ni Juan supplies finely crafted formal and casual wear for huge malls in the region and outside the country. Their formal barongs and native dresses have all been modernized and made not just with hand embroidery, but with permanent prints; these prints are handpainted, and can be found in almost every garment. Arrangements can be made if you want to visit their warehouse, but their showroom is open to the public during office hours. Obra ni Juan employs locals, skilled moms, and former employees. The quality of the material and its Filipino design give them an edge.


Café Inday This place sits at the end of Gen. Luna Street, Antipolo, Rizal. One look gives you that feeling that “an artist lives here.” Walls are filled with works of art connected to the existing Inday Cadapan Home Gallery known for the works of madame Magel Cadapan. If you are hungry after that artistic immersion, Chef Liz Monteallegre prepares hardcore Antipolo native dishes including really good lumpiang pabasa (often served during Holy Week),

The cafe also serves food without additives. Recommended dishes are the Suman sa Lihiya (Rice Cake in Lye Water) with tea or Chocolate de Batirol (Thick Hot Cocoa). If you’re a fan of art, and fond of sculptures and good hearty food, this would be the perfect place for you. This cafe and tour of the home are only available by appointment. You may arrange it via the Cafe Inday Facebook page or through Bienvenido Tours.

Boso Boso Highlands Resort This place was previously known as the great motor-stop for bikers passing through Antipolo. It’s a resort now complete with huge function halls, rooms, and a coffee shop with a majestic view of Antipolo mountains. A quiet breakfast can start with their Cafe Cristina TapSiLogs (paired meals) and coffee.

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First Pacific Leadership Academy This is a center founded by Manny V. Pangilinan initially to train his executives with skills and knowledge before and during their stint in his corporations. It has now been open to the public including facilities like its restaurants, conference rooms, and accommodations. The academy has already hosted tons of events and served as a venue for team-building activities, birthdays, and weddings. Its Executive Residences were definitely designed for CEO’s and business people.

Tipulo Modern Filipino Cuisine Inside the First Pacific Leadership Academy grounds is the Tipulo Modern Filipino Cuisine. It has got pretty good versions of Filipino favorites such as the Lumpiang Ubod, Sinigang na Hipon, Ox Tail Kare Kare, and the hit dish Crispy Pata Tim.

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Santiago Brewery and Malthouse The craft beer industry has been bullish and Antipolo has earmarked a good representation with Santiago Brewery and Malthouse. Their Santiago Beer is apt for those who want to find something special, not your everyday lager. With malt, hops, and yeast, owner and master brewer James Gatlabayan initially did his brew in pots as a hobby. Seeing promise with his malt supply, government institutions like the Department of Science and Technology gave him a boost. Now the brewery provides over 20 types of malt. Gatlabayan’s beer line is already being supplied in events, weddings, and special occasions in Antipolo and its nearby provinces. Antipolo has so much to offer. Whether you’ve been here or not, there are still so much places to go to, so many kinds of food to savor, and very interesting people to meet. It’s about time to rediscover it!

Eugenio Lopez Center This place served as a previous mansion and vacation house of the prominent Lopez clan, and was later converted into a training center for the Lopez Group of Companies. Open to the public for the past couple of years, it now hosts various events, conferences, and weddings. The center sits atop one of Antipolo’s highest peak and has one of the most amazing views of the metro. It also has affordable rooms for those who would like to have a quick getaway, a pool, and a restaurant that could rival the best of Manila! For a hearty meal, get the Fried Samosas, the Chori Burger, and the Sinigang na Bangus in Roasted Watermelon. There’s not much of a crowd, and the resto is located at Sumulong Highway in Antipolo City.

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A Filipino table for the culinary queen.

Text and photos by Desiree S. Ching

Entertaining

Martha Stewart, Lazatin Style

American entertainment royalty visits a prestigious Filipino ancestral home

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ong before those do-it-yourself cooking and lifestyle shows, Martha Stewart was already a household name. She was THE queen that started it all. Growing up, I remember falling in love with wreaths, rustic designs, and natural materials because of Martha Stewart. She provides practical, no-nonsense, and clean ideas and designs that make you go “Why didn’t I think of that?” Her simple tips on fixing up the home and recipes for cooking and baking made me enjoy browsing through the glossy magazines that my late grandmother, Marcela Yap Sim, used to bring home from the US. So you can just imagine my delight when Martha Stewart visited my adopted home, the Lazatin House in San Fernando, Pampanga. My husband, Jimmy Lazatin, is the grandson of industrialist Serafin Ocampo Lazatin and Encarnacion Torres Singian-Lazatin, the couple who built this grand home. This American multi-media mogul


and home and entertainment royalty was looking to experience the ultimate Filipino homemade dining experience. Ricco Ocampo, a fellow Cabalen, brought her to our private family home to experience home cooking only a few guests are privileged to see and taste.

A feast for a queen Our set-up for Martha’s visit is similar to our special family lunches and dinners at the Lazatin House, an American Colonial home built in 1925, the same year, Martha volunteered, that her “sprawling home in Maine was built, 1925.” The matuang bale (or old house in Kapampangan) is a lived-in private heritage home unlike other similar homes left only with caretakers. The place is well-maintained and equipped with modern comforts like air conditioning, updated bathrooms, and modern kitchen appliances.

Our set-up for Martha’s visit is similar to our special family lunches and dinners at the Lazatin House, an American Colonial home built in 1925, the same year, Martha volunteered, that her “sprawling home in Maine was built, 1925.” EX PER I EN C E T R AVEL AN D LI VI N G

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My sister-in-law, Aida JimenezLazatin, a florist and event stylist, dresses up the home beautifully year in year out; this visit of Martha Stewart was not going to be any different. She adorned this home with beautifully arranged fresh flowers and spruced up our landscaped gardens. The house itself has lots of stories to tell, one of which is the silver antique pineapple-shaped toothpick holder, something my brother-in-law, Marco Lazatin, showed and explained to Martha and fellow guest, businessman Robbie Antonio. What made this piece interesting is not only is it old, it was even mentioned by our national hero Jose Rizal in chapter 26 of his opus, Noli Me Tangere. Martha then asked to see the kitchen and requested a photo with the cooking staff: Lourdes Santos and Ate Perla (Dedicacion) Balgua, who practically grew up with the Lazatin aunts Carmen (Tita/ Manang Meng) and Anita Lazatin (Tita/ Manang Itang). They were personally tutored by the ladies on the preparation of the heirloom recipes that were served and which we continue to enjoy every weekend.

The author and her friends introduced Stewart to the country’s finest fruits.

Exotic Asian cuisines From the main home, Marco and our niece, Yvette Fernandez, escorted Martha to the function hall or “the party place,” as Martha puts it. Upon entering, the whiff of glorious dishes greeted her. She immediately gravitated towards the dessert table where tropical fruits were laid out rustic style. Aida and I set it up with a mix of natural materials to create interest; the mangosteen and lanzones were tied with a string, cascading down the wood trunk for effect. Aida provided the baskets and stands where the fruits could be picked up. The rambutan was served with the tops cut off, an idea my other sister-inlaw, Clarita Lazatin-Magat, and myself executed. We lined leaves on a crystal platter and arranged it accordingly. Martha did try the rambutan, but 44

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it was the orange jelly that fascinated her. She said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” To which Clarita said, “That’s how we grow oranges in Pampanga.” Martha ate four orange jelly wedges that looked festive and can really add color to your dessert set-up for the holidays. Then there is the family’s tocino del cielo, a rich custard served individually with one egg yolk per serving. Its syrup glistens on top of the custard, adding a sweet dimension to the yolk mixture. Cuisines served that day were local and special, and took two days to prepare. Nothing to sweat about since preparation for our Christmas lunch and NO. 4

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Martha did try the rambutan, but it was the orange jelly that fascinated her. She said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” To which Clarita said, “That’s how we grow oranges in Pampanga.”


dinner starts at least four days to a week before Christmas Eve. Our niece, Chef Maj Lazatin-Imperial, was the head chef, along with architect -- and now one of the family’s cooks -- Lara Fernandez Barrios. They made fresh fettuccine pasta with aligue (crab fat) sauce topped with crab meat and drizzled with parsley oil. It was the first item on Martha’s plate. Martha was genuinely interested in the food and asked about each one. She went to the paco salad and asked, “What

is it?” I said edible fern with shrimp and salted egg. She got some on her plate and proceeded to get the tidtad bigak or dinuguang baboy (in our case piglet), a recipe of the late Tita Meng, who was a big Martha Stewart fan! Continuing her lunch, she surprisingly got a helping of the bringhe with our version of Adobong Kapampangan, too. The only item she didn’t touch was the sinuso-cooked arroz caldo style. When I told her they were

cow udders, she said, “No, not for me.” Unfortunately, the one served that day was the best one I had to date with a lot of melts-in-your-mouth goodness, such that restaurateur Claude Tayag took some home.

Selfie time She continued to ask about the food, and tried a pigeon with mushrooms on a bed of couscous. She also tasted buro (Kapampangan fermented rice), where we layered the sharp, bitter taste of mustasa leaves to contrast the savory shrimp buro; it was then topped with a small cut of hito or catfish fillet, a seemingly Japanese influence on Filipino cuisine. After lunch, the nieces had plates for her to sign, which Martha did! She even asked for a photo with all of us family members holding the plates she signed. Since I was seated beside her, I thanked her for being so generous to everyone. She just smiled. Then looking to Doris Magsaysay-Ho, the CEO of maritime giant Magsaysay Group, she said, “Doris, I should invite the family over to my farm for lunch!” Then I said, smiling, “We just might take you up on that!” I then asked “Martha, can we get a selfie?” She looked at me, nodded, and replied with a definite yes and gave me a beautiful smile for our selfie. Not to be outdone was my indefatigable sister-in-law, Aida. Of course, I snapped a photo of her and Martha, too. It was a surreal experience for all of us present to meet the goddess who pioneered a career in media and created a multimillion-dollar household brand that transcends continents. Meeting Martha was a delight! I didn’t know what to expect, but as she walked through the doors of the Lazatin House, she was calm, collected, respectful---truly an appreciative lady like the one we watched on television, very mindful of everyone around her. Our version of the Martha Stewart admiration club will definitely continue.

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London Daytour

- Maximizing your trip’s time, cost, and social postings TEXT BY RICA PARAS PHOTOS BY NELSON CASUNCAD

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V

isiting London is a check off at one’s bucket list. Who can refuse the allure of a modern city, standing side by side with history, filled with artifacts of what used to be the biggest empire in the world, owning more than half of the entire earth. Because of trade and economic migration, London is also, a melting pot of culture, music, and the arts. Let me start of by saying that London is a city you can come back to over and over again. It offers plenty of options for tourists, food lovers,


and thrill-seekers. But if you only got a day and want to maximize your London trip, let me take you through an itinerary that maximizes your travel time, budget, and social media posts. Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, allot 1 hour for Immigration Check and Baggage Claim (1 hr; £0, 1 post). The Tube is the fastest way and the most convenient way to get to London City Center. Aside from the Piccadilly Line, the Heathrow Express brings you to London Paddington Station, clocking at 16 minutes (16 mins; £37 with return ticket, 1 post). Trivia: The world’s first underground railway opened in January 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives.

Take the District or Circle Line to Westminster Station, the heart of London’s touristy spot. Here you have The Big Ben, The Parliament, The London Eye and Westminster Bridge. (1hr; £12.70 Zone 1-2 Day Pass; 4 posts) Take time to fall in line to visit the Westminster Abbey, a large Gothic church and one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English Royals. Inside the church, there is a guided audio tour that narrates the rich English history. Take a moment to spot some famous poet at the Poet’s Corner at the Nave part of the Abbey, and buy some nice memorabilia at the Abbey Bookstore just before you exit.. (1hr; £16 entrance fee; 10+ posts). Take a walk to the Buckingham Palace, via St James Park (take some lovely poses in the park). Try to snap photos where you can see the famous balcony where the newlywed and newly born Royals take their first public appearance. And if you are lucky, you can catch the Changing of the Guard which typically happens at 11a.m. At the roundabout, you can walk up to the Victoria Memorial statue to take a good panoramic look of the palace. (30 mins, £0, 3 posts). Then head to the Household Cavalry Museum where you can take up close and

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personal photo ops with actual Guards with horses. (15 mins, £0 (just stay outside), 1 post) Located almost everywhere in London, take a moment to strike your wacky poses at the red phone box, a British cultural icon throughout the world (15 mins, £0, 1 post). Trafalgar Square is the next destination where you can see street performers, street artists, a fountain, and on a good day, people just hanging out. In front is the National Gallery, which houses several original paintings for art enthusiasts. (1 hr, £0 free entrance, 10+ posts). Then take a food trip in Chinatown, passing through Leicester Square where you can snap photos of ODEON Luxe Theater where Premier Nights of some blockbuster movies are held. If you crave for traditional Chinese food, take the classic London Chinatown Restaurant serving that cuisine since the 1980s. (1 hr, £10-20 is the usual food bill per person, 2 posts). Brace yourself for another part of the London tour by heading to the Tower of London. Take the Bakerloo Line at the Piccadilly Circus Station (snap some photos of London’s version of Times Square) going to Embankment, changing to Circle/District Line to Tower Hill.

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Tip: Download the Citymapper App to see accurate tube train times, suggestion routes, and train changes. (20 mins, £0 use your day pass, 1 post) At the Tower Hill, take a tour at Tower Of London that has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. (2 hrs, £24.70, 10++ posts). Upon exit, you have the best view of the Tower Bridge, so go ahead and snap the best one you got, and go ahead and make it your profile photo. (30 mins for several takes and poses, £0, single most important money shot). Take a nice walk down to The Monument, commemorating the Great Fire of London standing at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 202 feet (62 m) in height and 202 feet west of the spot in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666. (10 minutes, £0, 1 post). Walk up to London Bridge (often mistaken as the Tower Bridge) and snap a nice photo of the Thames River. Take a moment to pose against The Shard, a

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95-storey supertall skyscraper; standing 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, it is the tallest building in the United Kingdom. (10 minutes, £0, 2 posts). Your last pitstop will be a food stop but not your typical restaurant: the Borough Market, a retail food market and one of the largest and oldest food markets in London dating back to at least the 12th century. Here you can find a variety of international food from French cheeses, Indian curry, to Pad Thai. (1 hr, £10-20, 1 post). There, you have it, ladies and gentlemen. You can head back to Heathrow via London Bridge Station to Paddington (take Jubilee Line changing at Baker Street to Bakerloo Line to Paddington connecting to Heathrow Express). Take a moment to view and snap some photos of the newly renovated London Bridge station, one of the oldest train stations in the world, having opened in 1836 (30 minutes, £0, 1 post). Total Time: almost 11 hours Total Cost: £110-£130 Total Posts: 40++ posts

Rica Paras is an IT consultant living in London. She likes travel, food and fashion. Follow her at @iheartricaparas.


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Legoland Malaysia:

A

world where children grow by learning and thinking --- that was the vision that Ole Kirk Christiansen had in mind when he established the LEGO Group in Denmark in 1932. He started as a humble carpenter who just wanted to put up his own wooden toy business. The name LEGO was adopted from two Danish words, ‘Leg’ and ‘Godt’ which meant “play well.” A combination of those words

Where you can be a child again Where fighting supervillains and watching sea creatures can be a learning experience Text and photos by Stephanie Tumampos

LEGO originated from two Danish words which mean “play well”.

can also mean “I put together” in Latin --- and which captures the spirit of the world- renowned brand that continues to dominate the toy industry. Throughout the company’s history over the decades, its vision has remained true to its core. Children who play with the famous Lego blocks “play well.” Imagine a theme park that looks like it’s built from those blocks, and you’ll have a place where kids’ imagination can thrive. It will give them a place where they can just be themselves. That’s why these young ones and their parents fly to Legoland Malaysia. Kids rule inside Legoland Malaysia. During my trip, I witnessed parents marvelling how their children could have 50

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The bedroom design encourages the kids to use their imagination.

built wonderful designs despite having only bricks to build on. You also have adults who, despite their respective ages, are still kids at heart and share the fun. For familyoriented Filipinos who only want the best for their kids, Legoland Malaysia is only one hour’s drive from Singapore.

at the Lego store. Not to be missed is their restaurant. It’s classically LEGO-themed, too, from cups, tables, to utensils---except the food of course! Food served at the Legoland Hotel Malaysia restaurant showcases Malaysian cuisine, but also tries to serve its guests with various international dishes.

The hotel where adventure begins

The main attraction of Legoland is its theme park which is never crowded, although a lot of kids do want to experience it. Another thing that makes it different is that each kid can join in the activities, including the rides. This approach is very different from those in other theme parks, which make a distinction as to which rides only adults can take part in. A rollercoaster buff, I’ve ridden almost every model available, and I’m not easily impressed by just any ride. But the Great Lego Race VR Coaster was one of the unique ones I’ve ever been to. The roller coaster itself is designed for kids to stay comfortable and safe, but there’s a

Legoland Hotel in Malaysia is one of the most creative and child-sensitive hotels I’ve been to. As soon as I walked into the place, all I could think about was how to be a kid again. From wallpapers to beddings and sheets, everything inside the Legoland Hotel room was LEGO-themed. Every room has a treasure box and guests can play by unlocking its code by answering the clue sheet. Guests can win LEGO products and discount cards which they can use for their next purchase

The theme park

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twist. Attendants handed us VR goggles--which means that a person’s excitement is leveled up by the virtual experience it gives him or her. I’ve always been a fan of LEGO and their Ninjago series which by far, was one of the most successful products they have launched. It even has a cartoon series show and several movies! This interactive ride is a treat for kids who loved Kai, Cole, Jay, Zane, Lloyd, Sensei Wu, and the rest of the characters. Fighting villains

through every scene, the Ninjago ride was simply awesome. There were also driving lessons inside Legoland Malaysia; kids can even get a Legoland driving license. On the other hand, what I loved most about the Legoland theme park is their Imagination Room which is designed to enhance the thinking capabilities and creativity of kids. Guests can actually join sessions there which teach them how to make a simple

Childrens of all ages have fun while they learn.

code that will make a LEGO Mars Rover work. They can build a LEGO car with any LEGO block and test its capability for speed and durability. They can stack up LEGO bricks to form a durable building and test its resistance to earthquake through a simple simulator.

Fun under the sun Families can also chill and watch a movie through a big screen while sipping lemonades and enjoying the cool waters at Wave Pool inside Legoland Waterpark. This waterpark offers slides and slopes that reach starting from above an elevated area to a bigger pool down; these fun funnels are called Lego Slide Racers, Tidal Tubes and many more. Another thrilling experience also comes inside Joker Soaker: you can wait inside a huge bucket while it is being filled --- and then be poured over the water spilling out of it. Cabanas are also available where families can take a rest!

Under the sea Sea Life Malaysia offers kids the chance to acquaint themselves with the living creatures that live under the waters. More than 13,000 fishes and 120 types of species can be seen inside this aquapark. These creatures are divided into 11 different habitat zones where they are observed by guests. Attendants inside the facility teach children to appreciate sea creatures such as crustaceans, jellyfishes, sharks, and many more. One can also go through a water tunnel and marvel at the wonders of the underwater world. Legoland Malaysia is definitely a very different world. Spanning 76 hectares which are equivalent to 56 football fields, it offers a lot of activities for both adults and most importantly, Legoland’s main guests – the kids. I don’t think I can get enough of Legoland Malaysia. I might just come back soon to go back being a kid, treated like a kid, and most importantly, learn like a kid. 52

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Marco Polo Hotels – HK GM

receives award from Stelliers’ Greater China 2019

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alip Singh, General Manager of Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong, proudly took home the “General Manager of the Year” award at the Stelliers Greater China 2019. Celebrating professionals in the hospitality industry from over 300 applications across 18 categories, the leading hotelier awards platform was renamed Stelliers this year. It’s the only accolade in Asia that honors dedicated professionals of the hotel industry, with a judging panel consisting of representatives from HOK, Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Jones Lang LaSalle, and LRA By Deloitte. The accolade recognized Singh’s outstanding performance as a hotelier. Since taking up the General Manager role for Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong in December 2017, he has continued to strategically manage with passion and professionalism the three properties located along prestigious Canton Road: Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hotel, and Prince Hotel. Last year, the three hotels achieved 100% occupancy rates across its 1,450 guestrooms for 204 days, resulting in a 10% increase in RGI, leading their competitor set. Dalip said, “Thank you to my teams for their hard work which allows every guest to experience an exciting stay in Hong Kong. Only by working together as a team can I be honored as one of the leading stars on the stage. I love the vibrant, dynamic, and lively working environment in a people-driven industry where hoteliers are passionate to provide the best hospitality experience. I also enjoy developing talents as this sets associates up for success in their future. This is where the energy comes from, which excites our lives in the world of hospitality.”

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New World Manila Bay Hotel: Lighting up a Christmas crystal tree

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he New World Manila Bay Hotel welcomed the Christmas season with a ceremonial tree lighting held at the hotel lobby. The theme, “A Dazzling Christmas,” showcased a glittering Christmas tree formed by an elegant crystal-drop ceiling and sparkling Christmas balls. The tree was inspired by the spirit of genuine hospitality and reflected the kind of service New World Hotel has been providing to its guests, clients, and the community for the past 15 years. The highlight of the event focused on the true essence of the celebration: giving hope to the children of Kythe Foundation. New World Hotels and Resorts, as a brand, has established children’s welfare to be one of its priorities in terms of corporate social responsibility. Last Christmas, one of the hotel’s initiatives was to raise awareness and funds for the foundation by helping them with the selling of colorful Kythe caps which came in a sleek, contemporary design. Proceeds of the sales went to the medical treatments and developmental programs for children with cancer and other

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chronic illnesses. A Christmas wishing well was also stationed at the lobby for monetary donations. In addition to the fundraising cause, a special Christmas drink called Minty Berry was served in all the hotel’s restaurants. It was a refreshing mix of whisky and fresh strawberry purée infused with almond syrup, lime flavors, and mint leaves. New World Hotel General Manager Mark Heywood expressed his appreciation for the confidence entrusted them by the community. The patronage of customers also kept New World Hotel as the number 1 hotel of choice in Manila on TripAdvisor. In his speech, Heywood also wished those who attended the event a Christmas full of love and joy, as well as another year of prosperity. The event was well-attended by the hotel’s loyal guests, clients, and media friends; it was made even more special with the presence of Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan. The musical performances of the kids from OB


Montessori Manila, New World Hotel homegrown talents Soup of the Day band, and Ms. Classica Samson brought extra glimmer to the celebration. New World Manila Bay Hotel is a deluxe hotel located at the center of the Manila business district with easy access to business and shopping areas, including Mall of Asia, the largest shopping mall in Metro Manila. The hotel is near historical attractions such as Intramuros and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The hotel features 376 guestrooms and suites, Residence Club executive floors, six dining options, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and spa. The meeting and event space includes a ballroom and four meeting rooms. In recognition of its commitment to providing guests a memorable and

comfortable experience, New World Manila Bay Hotel was awarded the #1 hotel in Manila, Best Value Hotel, and the 2019 Travelers’ Choice by TripAdvisor. Its Chinese restaurant, Li Li ,and steakhouse and grill room, The Fireplace, were recognized in 2019 as among the Philippines’ Best Restaurants by the prestigious publication, The Philippine Tatler. Market Café, the all-day international dining buffet restaurant, received the TripAdvisor 2018 Certificate of Excellence for its exemplary cuisine and notable service. New World Hotels & Resorts’ deluxe properties are located in popular Asian gateways and getaway destinations. They are stylish hubs where business and personal connections are made. Its ten hotels, and one affiliated property, are

located in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. These signature properties will soon be joined by hotels and resorts in Bali (2020), Kota Kinabalu (2020) and Bangkok (2020.) New World Hotels & Resorts offer a full range of amenities and services, including multiple restaurants, business services, extensive meeting facilities, Residence Club executive floors, and recreational options. For further information or reservations, please contact your travel professional, visit newworldhotels.com, or follow the group’s Facebook page for the latest news. For more information and reservations, please contact the hotel directly at telephone +63 2 8252 6888, email reservations. manilabay@newworldhotels.comor visit newworldhotels.com.

In the photo from right to left: New World Manila Bay Hotel general manager, Mr. Mark Heywood, honorable Manila vice mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, director of sales and marketing Jane Paulino, director of rooms Christina Uy, director of finance Josephine Fabro, assistant director of engineering Jun Magpantay, hotel manager Nantha Kumar (back row) together with the kids of Kythe Foundation (front row) and Santa Claus.

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Diamond Hotel Philippines makes the Christmas magic more real for the whole family

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he holiday season is for reuniting with loved ones, celebrating sentimental traditions, and creating new memories, all marked by the spectacle of feasts that we crave for all year round. Last Christmas, Filipinos and tourists alike found a way to indulge, drink, and enjoy a diverse line-up of dining delights, from bounteous buffets, laidback tapas to dinner dates ---- all at the Diamond Hotel Philippines. Reunions were taken to a whole new level with culinary surprises and scenes at the lunch and dinner buffet at Corniche restaurant. Whether the guests were welcoming relatives from every corner of the world or entertaining buddies they had spent most of their lives side-by-side with, everyone felt right at home in Corniche’s warm, inviting atmosphere. With tables

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to accommodate different groups, from small barkadas to large clans, guests had their merry fill of international dishes richly plated and expertly prepared. For an Asian twist on a yuletide gettogether, Diamond Hotel’s Japanese chefs set up a lavish menu at Yurakuen, crafted to satisfy groups of up to six persons. The vibrancy of an authentic Japanese preparation dazzled guests with its aesthetics, and sent their taste buds on a whirl with fresh flavors of premium ingredients. The magic of the season was made all the more real beneath the crystal sakura (cherry blossom) tree as guests bonded over easy conversation and the clicking of busy chopsticks. When classic recipes and heartwarming pastries were the favorites, the Lobby Lounge offered all that and much more – particularly a glass of wine to go with each set menu. With a cozy ambience that rescued one from the urban bustle of the holidays, an easy lunch with colleagues or an intimate dinner

with that special someone transformed the holiday meals into a truly meaningful experience. Christmas celebrations took a sky-high turn at Bar27, with snazzy signature cocktails at the bayside view, and chill vibe for an all-time holiday evening out. Add a live band, tapas, and pica-pica, and a string of conversation that felt enjoyably endless into the mix---and it all added up to an unforgettable night of merriment. For more info about Diamond Hotels promos, click on onlineshopping.diamondhotel.com.

For queries and reservations, please call Diamond Hotel at (632) 8528-3000 ext. 1121. Diamond Hotel Philippines is located at Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila. For inquiries, please call (632) 8528-3000 or email guestservices@ diamondhotel.com. For more information on Diamond Hotel Philippines, please visit www.diamondhotel.com. For hotel updates and special offers, follow the hotel on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DiamondHotelPh.

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Cabo Del Marco Hilltop Lake Resort Brgy. Mahipon, Lumot Lake, Caliraya, Cavinti, Laguna

Amenities: Cabana Huts, Tree House, Videoke For booking/reservations, Please Contact +639974549582; +639999980520; +63495432201 Email: stepmarc_enterprise@yahoo.com


EVENTS & HIGHLIGHTS

New World Makati Hotel: a silver tree lighting Yuletide spectacle heralded its 25th anniversary

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ew World Makati Hotel welcomed the holidays with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony last November. The event was graced by guest of honor Makati Mayor Abby Binay, hotel executives Regional Vice President and General Manager Marcel van Mierlo, and Director of Sales & Marketing Jann Delgado. The evening’s host, television personality Pia Guanio-Mago, came with her husband Steve and daughters Scarlet and Brooklyn. As New World Makati Hotel proudly celebrated its 25th anniversary, the 25-ft tall Christmas tree was adorned in stunning silver and white holiday ornaments to highlight its milestone year. Leading up to the most awaited part of the night, the audience was serenaded by the hotel’s

A stunning silver Christmas tree comes alight to welcome the holidays at New World Makati Hotel.

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Feeling the spirit of the holiday season with a performance of classic Christmas carols performed by the SOLV Foundation Children’s Choir.

beneficiary: the SOLV Foundation Children’s choir who sang a medley of classic Christmas carols. Ms. Guanio-Mago’s daughters led the countdown along with the mayor and hotel executives. Moments after the switch button was pressed, the towering tree of silver, white, and gold was finally lit, signaling the beginning of holiday festivities at New World Makati Hotel. Male classical and pop group Opus One then came down the lobby’s staircase singing, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year,” as guests looked on at the sparkling tree. The SOLV Foundation Children’s Choir were handed sweet Christmas Santa treats by General

Manager Marcel van Mierlo as a token of appreciation for their performance. A party at the hotel was done in their honor later in December for all 45 children as well as volunteers at SOLV Foundation. A portion of the hotel’s proceeds for the same month would be donated to their foundation, a non-profit organization that cares for street children in Barangay Palanan in Makati by providing them with a home and quality education. The program concluded with an encore performance by Opus One with a medley of English and Filipino Christmas songs, ending with their rendition of “Better World”. To help raise more donations for the SOLV Foundation and in celebration of its silver year, New World Makati Hotel held an ongoing Holly Jolly Raffle, giving away 25 exciting experiences and prizes: luxurious stays at New World hotels in Asia with premium airfare for two; two roundtrip tickets to Tokyo, Japan; the latest Apple gadgets – iPhone 11, Apple Watch Series 5, and AirPods; as well as Belo Skin treatments worth PHP5,000. The promo ran throughout the month of December, with a minimum spend of PHP5,000 entitling the guest to one raffle ticket.

For information and reservations, guests may call New World Makati Hotel at +63 8811 6888 or email Reservations. manila@newworldhotels.com and FBReservations.manila@ newworldhotels.com. Those interested can stay updated and follow New World Makati Hotel’s social media accounts, on Facebook at facebook.com/NewWorldMakatiHotel and on Instagram at Instagram.com/NewWorldMakati.

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ARTDIALOGO’s creative synergies now on its 5th cycle in SEA

in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia gathered 23 Southeast Asian artists. The fiveday cross-cultural and community engagement program promoted cultural under-standing, unity, and diversity that would empower communities, especially among children and the youth. This particular cycle was enrolled as part of the Art Empowerment Initiative 2019, co-organized by Soka Gakka Malaysia, the Malaysia Art Society, and Artdialogo Asia; it was sup-ported by the Hartamas Shopping Center, the Tuck Sun Logistics, the Soroptomist International Seremban, and Damas Suites and Residences. Also launched during the event was the art exhibition “Hues of Happiness.” On display were the works of Maestro Fernando Sena, Maxi V. Ramos, Joemarie

“Shared values can pave the way to marvelous collaborations that add value to the lives of oth-ers.” That was the vision of Anna Karina Jardin, Filipina artist and social activist, when she first founded ARTDIALOGO in 2016. She saw creativity in learning as one way for peoples from various countries and regions to live together harmoniously despite their cultural and ethnic differences. ARTDIALOGO Southeast Asia, which has now ran for five cycles and been held in three countries in three years, was intended to bring people, ideas, and cultures together; its par-ticipants could also come up with innovative solutions that can address social issues that have deterred their communities from moving forward. ARTDIALOGO 2019 held last year 64

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Sanclaria Chua, Miriam Daway, Lhean Storm, Sor Sophany Min Yin Thant, Shireen Lee, Pady Fadzilah, Jane Tan, Ang Kooi Yong, Khalid Othman, Honey Khor, Wattanachot Tungateja, Kanaid Silsat, Jhirat Phirasant, Emmy Go, Wiwik Oratmangun, Ugy Sugiarto, Pancho Piano, Katy Yu, Nazurah Usop, and founder Jardin herself. The hall featured 46 masterpieces made by these artists. The art exhibition depicted and shared each artist’s definition and realization of happiness. “It is a special collection as it circumnavigated around Southeast Asia, and all participating artists were chosen according to their contribution in making the world or their community a happier place,” Shireen Lee, Hues of Happiness Art Exhibition Curator, said. After the art exhibition launch, an art forum entitled “The Mechanisms of Value Creation through the Arts” followed. The discussion talked about the importance and the role of different sectors of society in nurturing the value of art creation, while encouraging artists to follow their path. The panelists --- Honey Khor representing Cambodia and Malaysia, Maxi V. Ramos and Robert Hayden Jr. from the Philippines, Soh Yi Da of Singapore --- explained their own best practices that dealt with art. ARTDIALOGO 2019 Southeast

Asia held curated workshops that aimed to create a more inclu-sive society while promoting solidarity and the value of one’s heritage and culture . Filipino representatives Maestro Sena, Ramos, and Daway shared the importance of knowing oneself through the elements of art. The children who participated during the workshop learned how to draw. A workshop on the performing arts entitled “Southeast Asia by Moves” was also rendered and conducted by the Laos Student’s Association in Malaysia together with the Division of Schools- Malabon educators led by Analiza B. DeLeon. It showed dance moves and various presentations about heritage. Laotian traditional dances were taught to the participants, while the Philippine dance tinikling was introduced. Malaysian artists led by Pak Khalid Othman and Ang Kooi Yong also held a workshop on the importance of appreciating one’s heritage using creativity. With an array of workshops to choose from, the enthusiasm of the artists, children, parents, and other participants made ARTDIALOGO’s cross cultural workshop a success. A mural painting was also installed on that day. “The wall may be big but together with everyone, we can surely create a work of meaningful art,” Bruneian artist Nazurah Usop said during the mural-painting activity at the

Hartamas Shopping Center. ARTDIALOGO 2019 Southeast Asia was a good example of how friendships can be built, and how nurturing one’s real passion can unleash opportunities for oneself and others. It has opened doors to students while leading some of the alumni to platforms where they can create their own cross cultural initiatives. The idea behind ARTDIALOGO did not come overnight to its founder. Jardin’s inspiration came from MONDIALOGO, a world-wide school contest held by the UNESCO and Daimler Chrysler in 2006. The task was to create solutions to the challenges that the world faced, and the matrix emphasized the value of teamwork, cooperation, and friendship. Jardin formed ARTIDIALOGO out of her love for the arts and her country, and she was grown to become a youth leader. Jardin emphasized to the participants, “Passion is within you, you do not have to go elsewhere to find it. However good friendships can be a valuable stimuli in nurturing that passion. Still, at the end of the day, it is within you, wherever you may be. I hope to grow this platform more effec-tively, open more opportunities to share the wonders of our respective heritage, and help artists to go beyond borders and touch the lives of young people and children.”

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Heilen Medical Wellness Center helps people stay healthy the whole-year round

I

t’s that time again: the Christmas spirit, the jolly cheer, everyone reminding us about the “most wonderful time of the year.” But festive seasons always make us forget our diets and our commitment to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, with Christmas parties happening practically every single day last December, it was important to stay healthy that holiday season, no matter what! This can be done by preventing sickness in the first place. It is a myth to think that illness

is an inevitable condition. In fact, current studies show that being sick is the body’s way of letting you know that something is offbalance. Modern medicine just addresses the symptoms, but not the underlying cause. This is where natural medicine comes in. As the perfect complementary partner to modern medicine, alternative and integrative healing looks at the core of what makes the body tick. Natural healing sees chronic illness as a characteristic of something being off-balance in one’s inner body

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rhythms. Heilen Medical Wellness Center takes integrative medicine in the Philippines to the next level. They are focused on designing treatment plans that integrate the latest medical technologies with timehonored therapies to address all sources of illness at all levels. This means that the patient receives an entirely personalized therapy for complete wellness. Last November, guests were treated with treatments that boosted their wellbeing. Examples were Vitamin C with Glutathione Drip and Infrared Sauna. Because each person is different, so too are the plans offered at Heilen. Before starting any therapy, the clinicians at Heilen identify the root cause or causes of the patient’s illness. The doctors do not rely on existing diagnoses but search further for the underlying reasons why a patient is sick. They examine patients according to the principles of biological-integrative medicine. This means that each patient and his own personal situation are looked at deeply. The message of Heilen to each one: “You are the key to your own recovery.” Natural healing is the ultimate advocacy in the field of science and medicine in today’s modern world. Innovative medicine and studies suggest that the alternative approach compliments -- rather than hinders -- the traditional way of handling physiological aging, auto immune and degenerative diseases. Learn more about Heilen Medical Center by visiting their clinic at: Upper Basement 111Paseo de Roxas Bldg., Paseo de Roxas Street cor. Legaspi Street, Legapi Village 1229 Makati City, Philippines Tel no: +6328 541 1923 Mobile: +63 917 866 5226 Email: info@heilenwellness.com Website: www.heilenwellness.com

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Profile for Mode Devi Publising Incorporated

Experience Travel and Living Volume 5 Number 4  

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