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Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is one of the first firstrate resorts in Mactan Island in Cebu. Located at the northwest tip of the island, in Punta Engaño, the resort has 530 rooms and suites, and its own beachfront. One can enjoy the beach and the different water sports the resort offers such as parasailing, sailboating, kayaking, wind surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing and speedboat fun ABOUT THE COVER rides. One can also enjoy the themed mini-golf as well as two swimming pools amid 13 hectares of landscaped gardens. Photo by Donald Tapan

Travel Features

54 68 45

Explore 18 Gesel Pereyra gets introduced to Capiz

Experience 26 Hugo Ripley guides us through Cape Winelands in South Africa 36 C. Mendez Legaspi takes Melaka 45 Sherma E. Benosa tackles Puerto Princesa Underground River and gets pampered at the Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa 50 Bernard Supetran is enthralled by Albay


Escape 54 Raymund Magno Garlitos stays at Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort and Spa 60 Reinerio Alba is delighted by Be Resorts in Cebu 62 Rene Sanchez Napeñas visits Zuzuni, Helios Spa and The Palms of Boracay 65 Roel Hoang Manipon spends pleasant moments at the Sunset at Aninuan Beach Resort in Puerto Galera


Other Departments Accommodations 68 Circle Summit Hotel in Cebu City 70 Torre Venezia Suites in Quezon City 72 Hotel Veronica in Roxas City, Capiz 74 N Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City Lifestyle 77 Pueblo de Oro properties Dining 78 Niña Elyca Rabadam samples Ciao Italia in Puerto Galera 88 Deni Rose Afinidad tries the Singapore restaurants featured in The Miele Guide



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

Encounter 90 Roel Hoang Manipon meets Joyce Penas-Pilarsky

Regular Sections 6 Publisher’s Note 12 Contributors 8 Editor’s Note 14 Postings

92 Travel Directory 95 Travel Calendar

98 Parting Shot


Pblisher’s Nte

Followers of this magazine may notice the long wait for another issue to come out. For the past years, we have been wanting to come out every quarter regularly. But as time goes by, with so many travel publications around, we decided to make a change. We are overcome by the urge to try something different after spending so much time traveling around. We wanted to make a difference to give our readers a different experience, something they will keep, learn from and enjoy, and even to pass on to others. Traveling is not just about seeing places and having fun. Traveling is also about learning about the place, the culture, the traditions and the people. This is where we come in! Our vision is to not just feature places for people to see. We want you to know the essence of the place . This year, we decided to come out three times. The following issues will not just be about leisure travel but will be collector’s items as well, something readers can get deeper information about a destination’s culture, tradition and people. It is our desire to create a niche, to be different. We want people not only to have fun but to know more about the places. This is what I call a real travel experience. So, dear readers, watch out for the next issues as we start to venture towards the real essence of traveling. Happy reading!



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012


Editor’s Nte

Summer is here again, and it often spells adventure. It goes back to childhood, this association with travel and adventure. Childhood summers are always fond and fun. School is out. I remember vacationing, like many other kids, in the province. My father’s home province is Pangasinan. I remember many summers in Pangasinan. Days were spent playing outside. I liked patintero on the road, still unpaved then. Sometimes, a tricycle would pass by, sending billows of dust. I liked making little kawalis, stoves and pots out of dry earth. I learned a nice trick in making a kawali out of dry soil. Make a small mound and create a crater at the top using a finger. Pour enough water into the crater and then sweep away the still dry parts. You have a small kawali. When we could not find water, we spat or peed on it. We were dirty little kids. I and my cousins explored the rice fields, catching frogs and crickets. We climbed trees to eat their fruits—Java plum, cashew, mango, star apple, star fruit and guava. The aratiles was a favorite, sticky sweet like summer itself. When it was the dusk, the farmers were going home from the rice fields on their carabaos. We would meet them and take on ride on the sled. At night, we were still go out and played under the moon. There was still no electricity in our remote barangay. We watched hundreds fireflies drifting around the tallest mango tree by our house. We would catch fireflies that strayed among the bushes. Before sleeping, my grandmother would perform a ritual. I did not know what it was for but I think it was to keep evil spirits away during sleep. She would threw a few grains of rice into a basin of water and recite something, a prayer maybe or incantation. She would get all the grains with a piece of cloth and tied it on my clothes, usually near the bellybutton. It was weird; I had a bellybutton on my shirt. When I woke up the next morning, I untied the little pouch and ate the grains of rice, and started

Editor in chief Roel Hoang Manipon at (from top) the airport in Caticlan, Malay, Aklan, on the way to Boracay Island; the Metropolitan Cathedral of Tuguegarao in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan; the Second Gallery in Angono, Rizal; and in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, with his beloved Bob Jerezo. He was also in Sepoc Point, Tingloy Island, Batangas (above, right).



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

again another adventure of summer. Times change, of course, but travel, especially during summer, in away takes me back in time. I rarely go home to Pangasinan now. My grandparents have died. My cousins have all grown up and gone their own ways. The house is greying. There are few fireflies. I now explore other provinces, finding familiarity with the unfamiliar. I will be like a child again, always out in the sun, tasting unfamiliar fruits, and learning and relearning things. May you travel this summer, and discover and rediscover many things.

Roel Hoang Manipon Editor in Chief

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012






MARIA EVELYN C. UNTAL Publisher/Managing Director

FE MARCELINO Finance/Comptroller



MEGHAN KYNA PARUNGAO Advertising / Marketing Officer



GESEL PEREYRA Associate Editor

NEIL MARIANO Creative Director

DONALD TAPAN Chief Photographer



Advertising/Business Development

Contributing Photographer



Operations /Administration Officer

DENNY ALONZO Corporate Secretary


Editorial Assistants




EVA U. TRIMBLE Liaison Officer in Columbus, Ohio

PATRICIA DUBLIN Liaison Officer in New York


NOEL D. UNTAL Liaison Officer in Thailand

JO ANNE C. MABBAYAD Liaison Officer in Singapore


Liaison Officer in Cebu

Experience Travel and Living magazine is published three times a year by Gusto Publishing, Inc., with business address at Unit T20, Sunvar Plaza, 156 Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines 1200. Telephone numbers: (+63 2) 227-6074, (+63 2) 384-6941, (+63 2) 377-7492 and (+63 2) 491-5159 Find us at Like us on facebook: experiencetravelandliving Email: (editorial) (advertising) Web site: 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 Travel and Living are solely those of the writers and not necessarily endorsed by the company and its editors.

Liaison Officer in Toronto, Canada

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.

Circulation/Distribution in Palisade Avenue Jersey City, New Jersey

OUR CONTRIBUTORS Deni Rose Afinidad is a beach party hopper. Even though she’s usually afraid to fly or of the open water, she’s a big fan of backpacking, diving and extreme sports. Her other sources of adrenaline rush are writing for The Daily Tribune and studying patternmaking and fashion construction at Slim’s Fashion and Arts School. Whenever she’s with McQueen or her sewing machine, she feels like a rock star would with his guitar.

Rene Sanchez Napeñas, or Dambooh to his friends, is the head of the Public Affairs and Information Office of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. He considers his job as a great blessing because he is able to travel around the country to monitor and document programs of NCCA. Having been tagged as the best event organizer in the office, he sees himself as someone who can turn simple gatherings into magical and memorable moments. He has eight nephews and nieces whom he treasures as his precious little angels.

English journalist Hugo Ripley went to South Africa in 1990 for two weeks and ended up staying for 17 years. He first worked for The Cape Argus, Cape Town’s biggest selling daily newspaper, now part of The Independent Group, before they launched a Sunday supplement magazine called Sunday Life, of which he was first TV and radio editor and then travel editor. He then became travel editor of GQ South Africa when it launched in 1994. In 2001, he and a colleague set up B Squared Publishing to distribute Cape Town’s first official tourist guide from the airport, Cape i. Ripley also does travel supplements for Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph Media Group and The Times, and contribute travel articles to GQ and Asian Dragon magazine in China.

Raymund Magno Garlítos is a

journalist, poet, editor, translator and children’s book writer. He has won several Palanca and Talaang Ginto awards for poetry, a Gintong Aklat Award for Best Book in Children’s Literature, grand prize at the Philippine Board on Books for Young People’s Salanga Writers’ Prize and the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour Diploma for Excellence in Translation. Some of his journalistic works have appeared in newspapers like The Manila Bulletin and The Daily Tribune, magazines like Cruising, Art Manila and many others. Under the nom de plume Rhandee Garlítos, he wrote the award-winning and bestselling children’s books Chenelyn! Chenelyn! and May Higante sa Loob ng Aming Bahay (Adarna House) and will have forthcoming books slated for launch this year. When in travel, he makes it a point to bring home delicacies from a place, buy bracelets and necklaces that bear the traits of the places he visited and take photographs on his digital camera without his face on them. Always never at ease at home where he does most of his writing work, he takes time to pet the two dogs and eight cats or smell the fragrances of the herbs and flowers from his fiercely blooming terrace garden or watching TV with his daughter and mother to relax.

Sherma E. Benosa is a freelance

writer/editor. She writes Ilocano and English short stories and contributes lifestyle and medical articles to various magazines. She’s a proud mom to four cats: Poinne, Angel, Raya and Dotti.



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

From Pag-Asa, the Xavier University High School newsletter to the UP Manila Collegian to the national broadsheets and magazines, C. Mendez Legaspi, or Charlize, as he is fondly called, only chronicles the “The Good, the Great and the Glamorous.” To find beauty wherever it blossoms is one of Charlize’s life philosophy. Currently pounding the pavement for the fashion, beauty and celebrity beat for the newspaper The Business Mirror, Charlize covers anything that celebrates the pleasant, the positive and the uplifting.

Reinerio A. Alba’s current fave book on traveling is Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons and is in awe of Durrell’s ability to capture the “spirit of place” of whichever place he visits. He wishes to visit Cyprus, too, because of the said book. And Greece, Italy, etc.

Teddy Pelaez has a big appetite

for action and a bigger appetite for food. He was formerly with the Business World and worked for Ping Lacson during the presidential election. Now as a freelance photographer, he wants to concentrate on travel photography.

Niña Elyca Rabadam currently works as a publication coordinator for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). She finds joy in road trips, watching movies, and coffee-shop conversations. She is a big fan of Kazunari Ninomiya.

Ma. Theresa Dumana is a product of St. Scholastica’s College-Manila and De La Salle University-Manila. Soon after graduation from college in 2007, she joined FAME Publishing as head writer of DiabetEASE and Travel Plus magazines. Her last engagement was as copywriter for the cable TV stations ETC, 2nd Avenue, Jack TV, Universal and Diva Universal of Solar Entertainment Corporation. Mai also dabbles in photography and blogging.

Bernard Supetran not only writes about

the country’s enchanting attractions, he also plots the roads leading to them, being the editor of EZ Maps, the Philippines’ leading map brand. He also provides media consulting services to various hotels, restaurants and local governments for tourism promotion. He maintains a blog ( which highlights the heritage and culture of the places he visits.


FLY | Zest Air Partners with ACE Insurance

A secure and worry-free trip awaits you when you fly via Zest Air, Asia’s most refreshing airline. Passengers can now avail of Zest Air Essential Travel Insurance at affordable and competitive premiums while booking their Zest Air ticket online. The airline led by innovative president and chief executive officer Alfredo Yao formally sealed its partnership with ACE Insurance spearheaded by country president (Philippines) Daniel Daly to provide travel insurance to Zest Air passengers in the Philippines. ACE Insurance is a member of the ACE Group of Companies, a global leader in insurance and reinsurance serving a diverse group of clients. Besides travel insurance, other accident and health insurance products will be offered to Zest Air passengers via ACE Insurance’s direct marketing distribution channels. For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact (+63 2) 855-3333 or visit Join the airline’s official page at

to a separate installment limit that is on top of the regular credit limit. Moreover, the WilconRCBC Bankard MasterCard features zero percent installment plans on select items at Wilcon stores for a minimum purchase of Php3,000 at three, six installment terms. In addition, the Wilcon-RCBC Bankard MasterCard features a rewards/loyalty program which triples a cardholder’s rewards points for all purchases made at Wilcon stores. Accumulated rewards points can then be redeemed as rewards vouchers and used to purchase items at Wilcon. Complementing these benefits are other privileges such as special buys at all Wilcon stores, DIY or home improvement workshops as well as 25 percent discount on home protect and business protect insurance from Malayan Insurance, the number-one non-life insurance company in the Philippines. “The Wilcon-RCBC Bankard MasterCard is designed for individuals who are in the process of building their own homes as well as those who want to do some home improvements. We are delighted to partner with Wilcon, which offers access to the widest and latest choices of home-building supplies and MasterCard, the leading payments solutions provider, to offer a differentiated product that offers customized benefits while helping ease the substantial financial requirement for home improvement or home building,” says RCBC Bankard president Oscar Biason.

CONSIDER | Tying the Knot at Sea Wind Resort

GET | New Wilcon-RCBC Bankard MasterCard

RCBC Bankard has moved to insure that it is able to provide its cardholders with decent and livable homes by launching its new co-brand card, the Wilcon-RCBC Bankard MasterCard. Backed by the strength of the country’s premier building and interior design supply provider, Wilcon, and international payment brand MasterCard, the new RCBC Bankard gives cardholders enhanced financial flexibility to build or improve their own home through exclusive benefits and special year-round promo offers and events. The Wilcon-RCBC Bankard MasterCard is perfect for big-ticket installment purchases, thanks 14


Getting married by the seashore, with the sky and stretches of sandy beach as witnesses, has become the in thing for modern couples. And, once again, the captivating Sea Wind Beach Resort in Boracay Island was the preferred choice for these modern-day nuptials. A recent ceremony was held for flight attendant Maristela “Mayet” Cu and band member Darwin Mabasa. The young pair exchanged vows in a very private affair with only their immediate families in attendance. Barefoot or clad in sandals, the whole entourage relished the cool sea breeze and powder-fine sand as they witnessed the oncein-a-lifetime profession of love at the beachfront of the incomparable resort headed by Sea Wind president Boy Jarantilla and his charming wife, Ruth. Sea Wind takes pride in its freshwater pools, well-appointed Filipiniana-themed villas and a

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

highly efficient staff always ready to provide the best services. Besides its picturesque surroundings, Sea Wind offers a full range of wedding services including a bridal room, souvenir photos, a sumptuous buffet of international dishes and a memorable wedding cake from the creative culinary team of Sea Wind. For inquiries, call (+63 2) 415-1285, e-mail or visit

WATCH | PETA and Rep Team Up For Care Divas

Manila’s pioneer theater groups, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and Repertory Philippines are producing the muchawaited encore performances of the hit musical comedy Care Divas on April 27 to 29, 2012, at Greenbelt’s Onstage. Care Divas is a disarmingly funny and candid musical drama about five transgender overseas Filipino workers in Israel who work as care givers in the morning and transform into glamorous drag queen performers come night fall. While desperate to make ends meet in another country, they also struggle to search for freedom and acceptance in a foreign land. The play’s theatrical and wickedly funny text, written by award-winning playwright Liza Magtoto, has lovely, gentle moments from the lives of the main characters: the kind and loving Chelsea, the often-sarcastic group leader Shai, the ditsy Thalia, the bubbly Kayla and the ill-tempered Jonee. Vincent de Jesus’s musical score leaves audiences humming tunes as it weaves through the narrative. Music and lyrics serve as the other “text” that embodies the romantic-whimsy of this play. Directed by Maribel Legarda, the creative team behind the show also includes costume designer John Abul, lighting designer Jon Jon Villareal, visual artist and set designer Leo Abaya and contemporary dancer and choreographer Carlon Matobato. Care Divas features a powerhouse cast of theater actors: PETA artists Melvin Lee, Vincent De Jesus, Phil Noble, Buddy Caramat, Dudz Teraña, Jason Barcial and Eric dela Cruz. Featured guest artists are Paul Holme, Ricci Chan, Jerald Napoles, Myke Salomon, Angeli Bayani together with Miguel Hidalgo and Dominic Miclat-Janssen. Veteran actress and Repertory Philippines’ Children’s Theater artistic director Joy Virata joins the cast as Adara and Sara, roles formerly portrayed

POSTINGS by PETA president Cecilia Garrucho. Watch Care Divas at Greenbelt Onstage this April 27 (8 P.M.), 28 and 29 (3 P.M. and 8 P.M.). For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA Marketing and Public Relations Office at telephone numbers (+63 2) 725-6244 and (+63 2) 410-0821, mobile phone number +63917-5765400, and e-mail

fresh milk. At P165 per glass, the new Super Shakes will temper the humidity away. It’s available at all Shakey’s Restaurants for dine-in only. For fast and efficient delivery, call 77-777 or log on to

MARVEL | Lenovo Unwraps The Budget Friendly Ultrabook

The latest addition to Lenovo’s ultrabook family, the IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook is designed for trendsetters, go getters and savvy socialites that require a cost effective machine coupled with strong performance and good HD video playback. The IdeaPad U300e Ultrabook is only 18 millimeter thin and weighs about 1.58 kilogram. It fuses tactile materials like the full-aluminum shell and cooltouch palm rest together with smart innovations like extra long battery life of up to seven hours and second generation Intel Core processor. The IdeaPad U300e runs cooler on the lap with the unique breathable keyboard that allows air to penetrate through the keys. Windows boot up time is made faster with Lenovo’s Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows 7 with optional RapidDrive SSD technology. The IdeaPad U300e also features HD graphics support, a HDMI output and integrated stereo speakers with SRS Premium Surround Sound for an immersive sound experience. Computer content also comes to life wirelessly on a big screen with U300e Ultrabook’s Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) Technology.

GRAB | Summer Refreshments at Shakey’s

This summer, make Shakey’s your sanctuary from the heat and humidity. The leading family restaurant offers all-new refreshing Super Shake concoctions, the soothing complements to an already extensive super shakes lineup. Be overjoyed with Orange Burst, a sensational milkshake made of creamy white vanilla ice cream blended with a delightful burst of fresh orange juice and whipped cream. It’s a sunny sweet treat! For an interestingly wonderful delight, try the Peanut Butter and Banana Slide. It’s a fun mix of creamy peanut butter and yummy banana slices crazily blended with smooth vanilla ice cream and

Cambodia are issued visas upon arrival valid for one month, except for nationals of ASEAN countries who are allowed to enter visa-free. Other policy reforms are currently being reviewed by a working group composed of representatives from the Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration, including a special long-stay visa for active retirees.

GO | Experience Macau Aboard the Harbour Cruise

KNOW | Visa Reforms to Boost Philippine Competitiveness and Spur Arrivals

Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. announced that visa reforms to be implemented soon will boost the competitiveness of the Philippines as a tourism destination. Among the new visa policies agreed upon in a recent meeting between Jimenez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, and Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Ricardo A. David, Jr. are the increase in the visa-free privilege for 166 countries/territories from 21 to 30 days, granting of a thirty-day visa-free stay to Chinese nationals traveling to the Philippines as part of a tour group handled by a Department of Tourismaccredited Philippine tour operator, and a fourteenday visa-free stay for Indian nationals who have a valid American, Japan, Australian, Canadian, Shengen, Singapore, or United Kingdom visa. The implementation of these new policies is part of the Aquino administration’s efforts to attract more foreign tourists and spread the benefits of tourism to the countryside by simplifying entry requirement procedures and processes and allowing them more time to experience what the Philippines has to offer. “We need to address the perception abroad that it is difficult to enter the Philippines. With these visa reforms, we will be at par with the entry policies of our neighbors in the region and, for some markets, more liberal. This will definitely help in achieving our target of ten million foreign visitors by 2016,” said Jimenez. Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia allow entry of nationals of most countries without a visa for stays of up to thirty days. Tourists entering

Macau’s glistening lights easily captivate travelers in search of superb excitement. The best way to relish the city’s rich heritage is aboard the Macau Harbour Cruise. The adventure begins from the historical Inner Harbour and treats passengers to famous tourist attractions like the A-ma Temple, Macau Tower, and Macau-Taipa Bridge, among others. Passengers will enjoy the most beautiful coastline scenery of Macau on the luxurious and relaxing cruise while feasting on several kinds of Chinese, Portuguese and international cuisine. Different venues for private and social gatherings offer various cultural and artistic performances onboard. From early September to early October, guests get a spectacular view of the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, which takes place mainly on weekends, or major festivals including the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. The Macau Harbour Cruise also offers charter service for wedding ceremonies, private celebrations, and product launches. The vessel sails daily from 11 A.M. to 10 P.M. Each trip runs for an hour and a half. For more information on Macau and the Macau Harbour Cruise, visit www.

WEAR | Stylishly Embellished Pairs

Summer season often inspires people to sport a style that features vivid colors, vibrant patterns, and quirky embellishments, but for Havaianas, such designs are not only for the warm season; they are year-round staples that complement taste and style. Havaianas introduces new pairs which take the elegance of Havaianas Slim to the next level. The newest lines of the Havaianas Embellished Collection, exclusively offered in Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-La Plaza Mall, and Rustan’s Ayala Center Cebu, boast five limited edition styles that

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


POSTINGS engraving service for their clutch bags.

BRING | The Ultimate Summer Accessory

will only be available on 250 pairs of speciallydesigned flip-flops. Adorned with a crystal accessory shaped like a dragonfly on the side of its strap, the Havaianas Slim Crystal Dragonfly comes in black, ocean green, and rose. Meanwhile, Havaianas Slim Crystal Harmony features a flower-shaped ornament at the middle of its strap and is available in grey/silver and sand grey/light golden. Discover one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, Sao Luis in Brazil, and literally walk on it with Havaianas Slim Geometric. Available in navy blue, sand grey/golden sun, and white, Havaianas Slim Geometric features graphic patterns and a metallic charm inspired by the distinctly Portuguese tiles of Sao Luis. Havaianaticos who are into eccentric embellishments can opt for the Havaianas Slim Hardware. Available in grey and rose gold colors, the pairs are decorated with charms that come in various shapes, like skulls and cones or screws and pyramids. With prints and charms inspired by the famous bobbin lace handcrafted in Raposa, Brazil, Havaianas Slim Lace features elegant patterns laidout on its soft soles available in aubergine, black, and white. Because Havaianas is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Havaianas is packaging these limited edition pairs with exclusive navy blue clutch bags. Havaianaticos who purchase these pairs from the Havaianas Embellished Collection between March 28 to April 28 will receive complimentary



Nivea Sun, the world’s number one sun care brand, offers a comprehensive and nourishing range of sun protection products to help you enjoy radiant-looking skin this summer—the ultimate summer accessory. Whatever your sun protection need may be, whether it’s moisturizing, whitening or extra sensitive for kids, you can rely on Nivea Sun complete range. It is the best companion for the whole family and a trusted partner by people who love creating summer memories.

VIEW | Amorsolo Portraits at the Ayala Museum

This summer, Ayala Museum presents the exhibition “Postura: Portraits by Amorsolo,” which openson April 11, 2012 at its Ground Floor Gallery. Fernando C. Amorsolo (1892-1972) dominated the Philippine art scene for four decades, from the 1920s to the 1950s, portraying the idyllic and the

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

ideal in Philippine art and life. His body of work covered a wide range of subjects, from rural picturesque scenes to large historical paintings. Amorsolo was most pre-eminent, however, as a portraitist. Portraits accounted for eighty percent of his output, mostly commissioned works depicting leaders in society and industry and their loved ones, as well as Americans residing in Manila during the American colonial period. The subjects given life by Amorsolo are all endowed with a noble and proper mien, attired either in elegant gala or at their Sunday best, exhibiting “postura.” The exhibition in on view until May 20, 2012. For more information about Ayala Museum, visit

BUY | Smith Optics For Your Eyes This Summer

While it is healthy to catch some warm rays, there are hazards in catching too much. That’s why protective gears are available to shelter the body from those harmful UV rays. Protection is crucial especially for the eyes, which are extremely sensitive to heat and the glare from the sun. However, getting a pair of sunglasses is not as simple as heading to the mall and picking up a pair off the rack. While protective purposes are considered, a pair of shades’ aesthetic quality does hold more value because it gives the wearer a chance to express his or her personal style. Innovative eyewear company Smith Optics offers a line of goggles and sunglasses that address both needs. With over 45 years of experience in developing quality eyewear, Smith Optics combines high technology and innovation to come up with products that are both functional and stylish. Be it for outdoor extreme sports or a finishing touch to complement a bold fashion statement, sunglasses are only as good as their fit to the wearer. In order to get that balance between style and a perfectly snug fit, knowing the ideal pair of shades that match different face shapes is important. Aside from the unique visible design, the range of Smith Optics eyewear is engineered to fit different face shapes. Combine that with the brand’s experience in manufacturing high performance sunglasses and the result is some of the best eyewear available in the market today. Smith Optics Brand’s dedication to develop only the best products has prompted celebrities and sports personalities to go with Smith Optics as their eyewear of choice. A-listers like artist Jesse McCartney, host Carson Daly, comedian Vince Vaughn, as well as Hollywood big shot John Travolta, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt have all been fitted with Smith Optics. Sports figures like basketball superstar Michael Jordan, NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and motorsports icon Travis Pastrana have also become Smith Optics eyewear fans. For more information on Smith Optics, check out,, www. or search RUNNR, Toby’s Sports or Urban Athletics on Facebook and Twitter.


Capiz governor Victor Tan co makes cultural and tour ism development of the prov ince a priority

We Come, We Are Captivated By Gesel Pereyra • Photos by Teddy Pelaez

The Capiz Provincial Capitol


t was early morning, and I found myself staring at the beautiful sky and lush foliage before me when I set foot in Capiz. Coming off the plane at the Kalibo airport in the adjacent province of Aklan, the two-hour ride to Capiz gave me the delightful opportunity to slowly take in the province in degrees, watching the scenery slowly unfold before my eyes. As our vehicle traversed the road that leads to Sapian, where we were to meet our guide Dino Altobano at a junction they call Crossing Talaba, we were treated to a roadside view of fishermen with nets on their backs, coming home to lunch. Passenger vans ply the route to this seaside



town along with the omnipresent habalhabal, an expanded motorcycle that can accommodate six to eight passengers. There is a very good network of roads connecting the municipalities of Capiz and the province of Iloilo, just two hours away. From our rendezvous point, we passed by the oyster and mussel farms of Ivisan where 20 hectares are devoted to tahong (mussel) and talaba (oyster) farming. Managed by a group of local fishermen, it is an ecotourism attraction, where fishermen teach guests how the shellfishes are harvested. I was told the salinity of the water in Sapian makes the mussels thrive, apart from the fact that the dreaded red

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

tide has never reached the area, making it a protected site. A few kilometers more, we reached a strip of white-sand beach in Basiao the local government is eyeing for development. We stayed at the RBM Beach Resort, one of many that had sprouted in the area. A favorite weekend jaunt for locals, Basiao’s main attraction is its spectacular sunsets and a cluster of verdant islets looking like broccoli tops, not far from the beach, where you can snorkel and swim. They may be reached through motorized boat rides. One of them is Maba-ay Island, which will be developed into an island resort, far from the din of the beach yet accessible enough for those seeking an island adventure.

The Trip to Dumalag

The town of Dumalag, popular in Capiz because of its two caves, Suhot and Lahab, would be our last stop for the day. Suhot was developed into a resort by the local government. A small inn at the resort can accommodate at least thirty people and can host small wedding banquets at the reception area. On weekends, guests from as far as Iloilo would come to the place to take a dip in the cold spring and leave at the end of the day. Aside from Suhot and Lahab, other caves have been discovered by spelunkers in recent years such as the one in

Sta. Monica Church

Nowadays, the chicken is cooked tinola style with ubad (coconut pith) and monggo added into the broth to make it tasty and filling. It was a perfect merienda fare, along with ripe mangoes and suman, on a rainy day.

The Churches of Capiz

The bell in Pan-ay Chuch is the biggest in the country

the barangay of Jamindan, which has multilayered chambers, some as big as cathedrals. In Mambusao is what locals call the Kipot Hilton, the main chamber of which is as big as a hotel ballroom but is reached by crawling through a one meter opening. This year, a big caving convention was hosted by the province, owing to the growing interest in the caves of Capiz. Where there are caves, there are also majestic falls such as the Hinulugan Falls in the barangay of Pilar. I was told there are probably more undocumented and unexplored, and with such an abundance of natural resources, the local government is eyeing these caves, rock formations and waterfalls as a way to promote Capiz as a destination for adventure eco-tourism. Just as we arrived, the rain poured heavily leaving us with no choice but to explore the surrounding areas. A cooking demo for Dumalag-style chicken binakol was specially prepared for us that day. In the old days, the chicken is placed inside a bamboo tube and roasted in open fire.

We woke to a bright and sunny Sunday morning to start the tour to Roxas City, the provincial capital. On our way we stopped by the Church of St. Martin of Tours in Dumalag. Capiz was the second Spanish settlement in the Philippines after Cebu, and it’s not surprising to find a number of old churches all over Capiz. Made of yellow sandstone and shaped like a cross, St. Martin of Tours dates back to 1872. At the

front left side of the church is a five-storey belfry housing five bells of different sizes, all made in 1881. The road leading to Sapian turned to a bend that our guide says has been a place of many vehicular accidents. A small grotto had been constructed there by the family of Atty. Jose Villanueva, the provincial administrator of Capiz. The small grotto had grown into a five-hectare property with landscaped gardens and a beautiful, airy chapel. The image of Our Lady of Lourdes is perched on the highest peak, visible from the sea and distant mountains when lighted at night. It has become a tourist attraction and during Holy Week a place for meditation and prayer where devotees can participate in the yearly Way of the Cross that snakes its way up the hill. A little further from Sapian passing by Roxas City is the Sta. Monica Church in Pan-ay, a must-see for any first-time visitor of Capiz. One of the oldest churches in the country, its belfry is the resting place for the biggest Christian bell in Asia. The Baroquestyle church, built in 1774, is a heritage site. The wonderfully preserved church was renovated in 2010, the rooftop replaced with steel. Old wood that had been collected from the rooftop is made into mementos and sold at the museum gift shop, where antique santos and church accoutrements made of pure silver and gold are on display. Toto Isidro, our guide, tends to the bells just as his father did before him. He showed us the oldest of the nine bells in

Maba-ay Island, in the horizon, is eyed for development as an island resort

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the tower, dating back to 1842. The largest, cast in 1878, was made of 70 sacks of coins, weighing at 10.4 tons.

The Road to Roxas City

Touring the countryside as we did may be the best way to start exploring Capiz because it has much to offer in terms of natural attractions, but for the history buff, there are more places to whet the appetite once you hit Roxas City. We crossed the 100-year-old Roxas City Bridge which spans the Panay River going to Roxas Avenue. Built during the American Commonwealth period, it looked exactly the way it did in 1910 based on old photos at the century old Capiz Provincial Capitol. Right across the capitol is the almost 300-yearold Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral with a catholic college built beside it. A little further on Rizal Street, ten minutes away from the city hall, is the birthplace of the of President Manuel Acuna Roxas, an old hardwood and stone house with delicate capiz windows glinting in the early morning sun. We stood under Suhot Cave and Spring Resort



The Roxas ancestral home

the shade of the Roxas City bandstand and walked on the cobbled sidewalk of the park to the Panublion Museum, originally built as a water tank in 1910. Inside it is a comprehensive collection of the province’s rich culture and history. Although generally perceived to be sleepy, this seaside province in the Central Visayas has found itself in the list of the most visited places in the country in recent years. The vibrant atmosphere attests to that, as much as the loads of tourist buses I saw lining the streets of Roxas City. Hotels big and small have sprouted in the city. Pueblo de Panay, a mixed-use real estate development in downtown Roxas City, opened with much fanfare in December. The strong odor of fish signalled our approach to the dried fish market, where the picturesque sight of tons of fish drying in the afternoon sun, against the backdrop of a small chapel, enticed us to get down from our service vehicle to have our pictures taken. Capiz is a robust agrifishing economy and much of its revenue comes from the live and dried fish shipped to Manila daily. The pricey lapu-lapu is bred in a special place along the Palina River in the barangay of Cagay while the oysters are in all coastal barangays and the diwal (angel wings) are grown in abundance at the barangays Barra and Punta Cogon. Roxas City supplies a sizable amount of fish in Divisoria and Baclaran in Manila. It also ships a ton of lapu-lapu to Metro Manila once every two days. At the Cadimahan River, our group had the opportunity to talk to Alphonsus Tesoro,

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head of the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office, about the many tourism and cultural developments in Capiz. Feasting on fresh oysters, freshly caught from the mangrove encrusted banks of Cadimahan, Sir Al, as he is fondly called, saisd Capiz owes much of its vibrant tourism to the local government along with strong support from the private sector. With his strong cultural background, being a former head of the Committee on Central Cultural Communities, Subcommission Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and a theater artist, he, along with Governor Victor A. Tanco, implemented cultural projects for the indigenous Panay Bukidnon in Tapaz, Jamindan and the Ati in Dumarao. “We may not as yet be able to compete in terms of facilities and infrastructure although we are slowly but surely getting there. What we do have however is a rich cultural heritage. Capiz is also the birthplace of two National Artists, Daisy HontiverosAvellana for theatre and Jovita Fuentes for music,” Tesoro said. In the yearly Sinadya Sa Halaran, Roxas City and all the 16 municipalities showcased their local festivals along major streets of Roxas City. “We call these indigenous peoples communities ‘the living wealth of Capiz,’ and to preserve their way of life the local government provided technical and financial assistance for the establishment of Schools of Living Traditions. Here, language, literature, oral traditions,

music, cuisine and crafts are passed on to the younger generations, ensuring its preservation,” Tesoro said.

The Governor’s Mansion

On our last day, we paid a visit to the Governor’s mansion, where we met Governor Victor A. Tanco. Domestic tourism has picked up in recent days, and though the province has moved along by way of its reputation as the center of seafood tripping tourism of the country, the infrastructure and facilities to be put up by the private businessmen are needed because the province is now an emerging convention hub. Since 2009, Capiz was host to many conventions and events that soon enough growth outpaced the number of accommodations available. The Department of Tourism (DOT) and National Statistics Office (NSO) 2010 Household Survey on Domestic Visitors included the province as one of the twenty top destinations for domestic travelers whose main purpose of trip was for pleasure or vacation. “When we were planning for the province, we had the private sector involved because we realize they will be the prime movers of Capiz. Thus One Capiz, chaired by Judy Araneta-Roxas was born. So far, Roxas City alone has 46 hotels, including the small inns. On occasions, such as the time when the province hosted 2,000 guests for

a major national convention, the city could not accommodate guests so there is a spillover to the neighboring towns of Ivisan and Pontevedra. Because of this, we will try next to organize a home-stay [program] and find a way to standardize it to satisfy the needs of the growing home-stay market,” said Tanco. Capiz is part of the Republic Nautical Highway, which is a major tourism gateway in Western Visayas. Roll on-roll off (ro-ro) buses are operating to fetch passengers from Roxas City to Manila (Cubao or Pasay) via Culasi Port, Roxas City and Caticlan, Malay, Aklan. There is one passenger ship operating in Culasi Port, Roxas City, which embarks for Capiz twice a week. “We also have another port in Basiao but it is very small, only a fish port. We will develop it into passenger port,” he said. The last few hours of our Capiz trip was spent walking along the Baybay Beach and breathing in the fresh sea air at the La Playa de Roxas before heading off to Iloilo to catch our flight to Manila. Few places are as abundantly blessed as Capiz both in cultural heritage and natural beauty, and anyone who has stayed longer would have found more reasons to fall in love with this quaint seaside province. It won’t be my first and last trip coming here, intent to experience more of its known and hidden charms because, true to its slogan, Capiz really does captivate.

Meditation Hills

Chicken binakol, cooked with coconut water and meat, is a tasty local treat especially during rainy days

Getting There Travel time to Roxas City, the main gateway to Capiz, is 45 minutes by plane. Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines travel daily from Manila to Roxas City. It is approximately two-hour drive from Iloilo City and three-hour to Caticlan, Malay, Aklan. Ships also go to Roxas City with about 16 hours travel time from Manila. There is one passenger ship operating in Culasi Port, Roxas City, Moreta Shipping Lines’ M/V Love 1 which embarks for Capiz twice a week. There are also ferryboats that travel from Romblon and Masbate and also roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) buses.

Contact Information Contact the Capiz tourism office in Roxas City through telephone number (+63 36) 621-0042 local 133, fax number (+63 36) 621-0595 or e-mail address capiz.

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Dining in Capiz S

eafood in Capiz is more than just an attraction; it is for many the province’s raison d’etre. For years, it has been known as the seafood capital of the country, offering the variety and bounty of the sea. An agricultural-fishing province, Capiz has four municipalities touching the sea. Around sixty percent of the province relies on the sea and its tributaries for sustenance and livelihood. “If you count the many inlets and rivers, our shoreline is very big. On our northeast is the Visayan Sea, one of the richest and most diverse with over 1,700 species of marine life, five times more than what can be found in the Carribean Sea. Estancia in the neighboring Iloilo, two hours away, is called the Alaska of the Philippines because it also lies in the imaginary Visayan Sea triangle, which extends from Iloilo, Negros, Samar, Cebu and Masbate,” our guide Dino informed. What sets Capiz apart from the other seafoodproducing provinces in the region is that it has the best-tasting oysters, scallops and mussels. These shellfishes will only breed in a place where the water is at its best condition. Such as that in the barangays of 22


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The Lawaan Garden Inn

Fish being sun-dried is a common sight in Capiz

Basiao and Balaring in Ivisan where twenty hectares of the sea are devoted to tahong and talaba farming, the widest shellfish farm in the country. Fishermen teach guests how they harvest and tell what makes this area the best breeding ground for the shellfishes. Diwal (angel wings) is plentiful in Capiz. Diwal is a Hiligaynon word which means “to stick your tongue out” because part of its tail extends out of the shell like a tongue. It is called angel wings clam because the shell looks like the wings of an angel when spread

Oysters are farmed in the town of Ivisan and are best eaten fresh

Kinilaw na pagi or sting ray ceviche

The cagcagay soup

out or fully opened. Diwal is the star of the Capiztahan Festival. Fish and shellfish that prefer brackish water, on the other hand, thrive in Cadimahan River in Roxas City, a river that ends at the Baybay Sea. Cadimahan is fringed on both sides by a wide variety of mangrove trees, a refuge for thousands of different freshwater and seawater marine life. You can have your fill of seafood in big hotels and restaurants in Roxas City, in small inns and in food stalls in the wet market in the Teodoro Arcenas Trade Center, after shopping for Capiz handicrafts. Along the stretch of Baybay Beach is a group of stalls serving steamed, roasted or baked oysters, along with grilled catfish or squid at affordable prices. During our stay, we experienced dining at a fanciful restaurant of the Lawaan Garden Inn, a bedand-breakfast place in the heart of Roxas City, which serves first-rate dishes including kinilaw na page (sting ray ceviche), cagcagay soup (halaan) and the best laing sa sugpo I have ever tasted. The owners are Bicolanos who have found a home in Capiz, hence the hotel marries both cuisines in the sumptuous menu they offer diners. If you’re looking for clean, safe and affordable accommodations within Roxas City, their eight guest

rooms ranging from Php1,200 to Php2,000 are a pleasant option. They come with a charming garden, free Wi-Fi connection and surprisingly a swimming pool with Jacuzzi. But what makes for a true Capiz dining experience is to partake of oysters right at the very source. A trip to the Cadimahan River on our last day proved to be a wonderful experience. Gustatory greatness, as one famous chef declared, is most often achieved by noshing on something relatively simple. No one leaves Capiz without having their fill of oysters. You can bake, steam or roast your oysters over a fire, but when you are in Capiz, shuck ‘em and eat ‘is raw with a dash of soy sauce with mashed siling labuyo (red chilli) and a few drops of calamansi (Philippine lemon). In Manila, high-end restaurants put a premium on freshness and a matching price tag, but in Capiz you dine and savor these tender, slightly briny morsels of heaven guilt-free.

Contact Information Lawaan Garden Inn is located at Kilometer 2, Lawa-an, Roxas City. For reservations, contact telephone number (+63 36) 621-6255 or mobile numbers +63917-3121717or +63920-6125897. Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |



Six Classic Wines of the

Cape Winelands By Hugo Ripley


he Winelands of the Western Cape in South Africa nowadays offer an unparalled gastronomic journey through one of the most beautiful winemaking regions of the world. Aside from the glorious mountain and riverine scenery, visitors to the Cape Winelands will find luxurious boutique hotels in which to stay, some of the finest wines in the New World to drink and, on the vineyards that produce them, some of the best restaurants in which to dine. It’s a bounteous countryside with farm stalls, orchards, babbling rivers and vineyards that stretch away up the mountain sides. And the area was founded on the very best winemaking traditions. Franschhoek (“French Corner” in English), one the region’s prime producing towns, was founded in the seventeenth century by culinary-minded French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in their own country. They immediately spotted the similarity to their homeland’s Mediterranean terroir, and it wasn’t long before the Cape was exporting wine back to France. Franschhoek’s quaint streets are all named in French, and the town’s restaurants Le Quartier Francais, Grand Provence and La Petite Ferme are three of the most famous in the country. But it is their deadly winemaking rival in the nextdoor valley, Stellenbosch, which is the uncontested wine producing capital of South Africa. Stellenbosch was not founded on the same culinary heritage as Franschhoek but its early Dutch settlers were skilled engineers, and their knowledge of irrigation and farming soon unlocked the wealth of An enchanting view of Boekenhoutskloof in the Franschhoek Valley

The Estate wine of Rust-en-Vrede is a Bordeaux-style cabernet blend

the gloriously fertile soils. The venerable Cape Dutch homesteads of Stellenbosch today produce some of the finest wines in the New World: Meerlust, which makes the peerless Rubicon Bordeaux-style red blend; Kanonkop, whose red Paul Sauer is known as the grand cru of South Africa; and Rust-en-Vrede, whose Estate wine has been showered in international awards. Only Franschhoek’s Boekenhoutskloof (makers of The Chocolate Block) can match the class of Stellenbosch’s produce.

These two towns represent the heart of the Cape Winelands, but nearby Paarl also has many wine farms to recommend it and probably the best hotel (and restaurant) in the region, the Grande Roche. The Winelands spread far and wide in every direction to Wellington, Napier and Robertson in the east, and to the Hemel-enAarde valley near Hermanus in the south close to the Indian Ocean. Hemel-en-Aarde is the new kid on the block, well known as the home of Hamilton Russell, who only

Meerlust: Rubicon Meerlust’s Rubicon is French-style blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot

make two wines, a chardonnay and a pinot noir, but both of which are probably the finest wines in South Africa (and the most expensive!). This valley is worth exploring as there are numerous highly-rated new vineyards springing up making some exciting new wines. And not forgetting to mention Cape Town itself; Constantia in the southern suburbs is also a seventeenthcentury winemaking area with a handful of outstanding wine farms including Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia (makers of Napoleon’s favorite wine, Vin de Constance), and the completely unpronounceable Buitenverwachting, makers of my personal favorite red cabernet, Christine. While in Constantia you have to visit Uitsig, home to Cape Town’s best restaurant, La Colomb, and probably the most scenic of all the wine farms (Uitsig means “viewpoint”). Most visitors to the Cape Winelands have limited time to explore, so to offer a wide-ranging guide covering all the major bases of South Africa’s winemaking experience, these are the Classic Cape Six wines that I would recommend visiting to somebody with minimal time but a maximum love of wine.

Most South African vineyards are set around ancient Cape Dutch homesteads, built at the end of an oak-lined driveway where peacocks and guinea fowl are often the first things to greet you. And Meerlust is the classic example. The farm has been owned by Hannes Myburg’s family since 1756 and is about 10 miles outside of Stellenbosch on the road from Cape Town, and they make the wine that is always mentioned first in any conversation on South African wine, Rubicon. It’s a French-style blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot that is renowned for its elegance and black currant and raspberry flavors, which although not cheap at R280 per bottle, represents very good value compared to its French rivals. For best results Rubicon should be cellared for up to five years. Meerlust also make some of the best chardonnays and merlots but it is Rubicon that avid collectors seek out for their cellars. Visit www.meerlust. com.

Estate has whiffs of roast beef and spices

Rust-en-Vrede: Estate

Not far away from Meerlust in a stunning adjoining valley is the legendary Rust-en-Vrede. Owned by the family of a famous South African rugby player, Jannie Engelbrecht, this similarly gorgeous Cape Dutch homestead has been criticised of late for being more focused on food than on wine since their eponymous Rust-en-Vrede restaurant became the top-rated restaurant in the country. But this is unfair. All their wines are of exquisite quality and can be tasted in their gorgeous tasting facilities sheltered from the African sun under some old oak trees next to the cellar. The wines are good value—which is more than can be said for the restaurant which is definitely for special occasions only—and their flagship wine, Estate, is a well-priced Bordeaux-style cabernet blend that exudes whiffs of roast beef and spices and goes beautifully with the local Cape Dutch cuisine. Take time for a stroll around the gardens and to admire the towering mountains all around (www. If you want to stop for an al-fresco lunch while in Stellenbosch consider either nearby Overture (www. at Hidden Valley wine farm or Terroir ( at Kleine Zalze winery.

Boekenhoutskloof: The Chocolate Block

This winery is quite a mouthful to pronounce but is the current pick of the bunch in the Franschhoek Valley, where it is tucked away in the valley’s furthest extremity. Franschhoek, for me, is a wonderful place to visit as the “gastronomic capital” of South Africa, and for its awe-inspiring setting and for its quaint, upmarket boulevards lined with boutique shops and cafes. But the valley’s wines of late have generally been far inferior to Stellenbosch’s. Except, that is, for the wines of Boekenhoutskloof. They make the very popular wine The Chocolate Block, which at R170 per bottle makes for excellent value for a quality wine. Needless to say it has a distinctly chocolaty taste, blended into the shiraz grapes—known as syrah in South Africa— and grenache grapes which are notoriously hard to handle. Cellar this wine for at least five years ( While in Franschhoek, don’t miss spending a night at Le Quartier Francais hotel (www., and dinner at either their Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


The Chocolate Block (left) has a distinctly chocolaty taste, while the Vin de Constance (right) has silky, floral flavors

The Ataraxia has the finest wine tasting facility

Tasting Room (expensive) or the Common Room (good value). Also on the main street visitors can taste chocolate at Huguenot Fine Chocolates (

Klein Constantia: Vin de Constance

The small but excellent Constantia wine route in Cape Town packs a punch with the outstanding cabernet-based Christine from Buitenverwachting, and the oldest (1685) vineyard of them all, Groot Constantia, which is well worth a visit purely for a wander around the venerable lawns and herbaceous borders of the homestead. But it is its smaller neighbour, Klein Constantia, which makes probably the most famous dessert wine in South Africa, arguably in the world. Vin de Constance 28


EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

The vineyards of Klein Constantia

was Napoleon’s favorite tipple while he was incarcerated on the Atlantic island of St. Helena, and he would send to Cape Town for supplies of the liquid gold. It is famous for its silky, floral flavors which are derived from handpicking only perfectly shrivelled grapes, the pickers sometimes picking as little as ten kilograms per day. It’s quite hard to obtain, and you may have to advance-order some bottles from the following year’s vintage, and if you do get some don’t forget that it is essential to then resist drinking it for between five and ten years! ( Lunch at Constantia Uitsig (www.constantia-uitsig. com) nearby is a must.

Ataraxia: Chardonnay

The Hemel-en-Aarde is the up-andcoming winemaking region. Everybody in the wine trade knows the name already; it is the scenic valley near Hermanus that produces the famous Hamilton Russell chardonnay and pinot noir that Nelson Mandela is so fond of. They are world class wines but they are also not cheap at about R300 per bottle, so the chardonnay made by nearby Ataraxia gets the value nod for this area. Priced at R120 per bottle, this wine made by famed winemaker Kevin Grant is the wine everyone is talking about at the moment. Grant is pioneering what he calls “cold-climate” chardonnay, coming as it does from the vineyards closest to the ocean in South Africa, an area with cooling summer breezes. Ataraxia has possibly the finest

The Rust-en-Vrede’s tasting facility is next to the cellar, shaded by old oak trees

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Surfer-turned-winemaker Eden Sabie inspects the grapes in his vineyard in Swartland (left). Lunch is superb at La Colombe of Constantia Uitsig (below).

wine tasting facility in the country, built in a converted chapel with commanding views over the entire region. Wine farms in South Africa are generally open from Tuesday to Friday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., and on Saturday’s from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. (www.ataraxiawines. Nearby Hermanus is a popular town to visit for tourists, mainly because of the whales that migrate there in June to October, and there are many good hotels and restaurants to explore there.

Sadie produces the Palladius, which has a flavor reminiscent of a white Bordeaux

Sadie Family: Palladius

Last but by no means the least, this wine is made by a former surfer-turnedwinemaker and the “bad-boy” of South African wine Eben Sadie. He is only 33 years old and is always railing against the bureaucracy of the South African wine industry but is one of those people, who when they talk, people listen. His farm is situated in his beloved Swartland a little way up the West Coast from Cape Town. It’s not an area known for outstanding wines, but the Sadie’s wines have bucked the trend. Sadie has a philosophy that Cape wines are 30 |

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dictated by the nearby oceans (There are two oceans here, the Indian and Atlantic, which converge near Cape Town) and says that his farm is actually positioned 300 miles too far north, and that the middle of the ocean has the best climate! He always said he would never make a white wine in this area but thankfully he changed his mind, and his blend of viognier, chenin and grenache is an iconic wine of South Africa. This is by appointment only (www.thesadiefamily. com, but there is no information other than the contact details). If you are heading up the West Coast a great place to relax after some hectic winetasting is the lovely fishing village and beach of Paternoster (www. I haven’t even mentioned here the chenin blancs of which South Africa is a specialist, but do try Rudera’s (www.rudera. Robusto. Nor have I mentioned a new era of exciting organic and bio-dynamic wines such as Springfield’s Life from Stone ( near Robertson. By way of a conclusion the thing to remember with the Cape Winelands is that, as the area is so large and the variety of wines on offer so great, that visitors really just have to get out there by car, by bicycle, on foot or even on horseback to explore the area and just see what little gems land up on your tastebuds. Happy tasting.

Taste the Sweet Fruits of Life at the

Nederburg Winery

A picnic with a Nederburg wine


hen Philippus Wolvaart received the title deed to his Klein Drakenstein farm from the Dutch East India Company in 1791, he called his property Nederburg, after a local official. Little could he have known that one day it would become a household name for generations of South Africans. Clearing his forty-nine hectares of land at the foot of the majestic Drakenstein Mountains and planting his vineyards in unchartered terrain, he could scarcely have realized he was laying the foundations for South Africa’s most awarded winery. More than two centuries later, Nederburg has become internationally recognized for its hallmark fusion of fruit and finesse, a style that combines classical elegance with purity of fruit expression and lively, refreshing flavors. It’s an honest and authentic approach to winemaking that appeals to critics worldwide, earning trophies, medals and accolades in international and domestic competitions every year but also delighting regular wine lovers for whom Nederburg remains their favorite choice. “We don’t make wines to win awards,” says Nederburg cellar master Razvan Macici, who has continued the prize-winning legacy of his luminary predecessors like Günter Brözel and Johann Graue. 32 |

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“Just like in the days of Philippus Wolvaart and those who followed after him, we make wines to please people’s palates—for the sheer enjoyment of good taste. That has always been Nederburg’s focus, and it is built on the premise that you need the best quality fruit to make the best quality wine.” While there have been many changes since those early days, much endures unaltered. Nederburg may be one of the most popular destinations for visitors to the Winelands but it is no mere showpiece. It remains as much a working farm as when it began, although far bigger in size today. It is here that grapes are harvested, sorted, vinified, bottled and labeled before being distributed to markets locally and abroad. The house Wolvaart built for his family, that his wife regrettably was never able to enjoy as she died before its completion in 1800, still stands proudly as one of the best examples of Cape Dutch architecture. Beautifully gabled and finely proportioned, it has become an icon in the Cape Winelands. It features the original Batavian floor tiles and yellowwood flooring and beams and has been faithfully restored and furnished with period pieces. To enter the peaceful tranquility of the thatched-roofed, white-washed, H-shaped Nederburg manor house is to experience a distillation of life lived over 200 years ago. When you drive up to the tasting complex, you notice the pristine vineyards, tended by a team of viticulturists. They follow environmentally sound growing principles that show the greatest respect for the land that sustains the vines on which Nederburg has built its reputation. The winery was the first to be evaluated in the pilot study that led to the development of South Africa’s eco-friendly Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) program in 1998 and which has since been hailed as the most progressive of its kind amongst Wine is aged in oak vats imported from France, Eastern Europe and North America

The historic and finely restored Nederburg Manor House serves gourmet dishes

wine-producing countries anywhere in the world. All grapes from summer, the general tasting area is made cozy in winter with which Nederburg wines are made are IPW-certified. a welcoming fire. Tours of the farm, the cellars and the historical It was the same underpinning respect for the land that had quarters start here too. originally led Johann Graue to pioneer new viticultural practices Visitors can enjoy their wines with tasty mezze platters. During when he bought the farm in 1937. He understood long before his the summer months, picnic baskets brimming with homemade peers that you needed superior quality plant material to grow delicacies can be preordered (preferably two days in advance), superior vines and he introduced a program of clonal selection while in winter, delectable platters are on offer. For special events that set the parameters for Nederburg’s present-day highly and by appointment, breakfast, lunch and dinner can be arranged sophisticated plant nursery. The work of specialists here is for private groups in the manor house. enhanced through Nederburg’s access Renowned not only for prize-winning to international research applied to wines but gracious and welcoming enhance quality through soil, water and hospitality, Nederburg enjoys nothing canopy management in the vineyards to more than welcoming guests to the brand consistently deliver outstanding quality, home. Experience the many facets of flavorful and well-balanced fruit. Nederburg, from cellar and historical Graue also introduced far-reaching tours to wine tastings and food and wine winemaking techniques to promote pairings. See the vineyards transform with quality to critical acclaim, spurring his the seasons, watch the cellar team at work. successor, Günter Brözel to make his own Enjoy the magnificent gardens in fine innovations that still further strengthened weather and keep warm beside the fireside Nederburg’s award-winning reputation. in winter. Today, Razvan Macici and his team Foundation platters are on offer continue to focus on cellar technology from November to March in the tasting to ensure the best possible environment center with soup and gourmet ciabatta in which to make wines by reducing the sandwiches offered from April to October. handling of the grapes to the minimum Pop in year-round for cheese platters and so give the fruit the best possible matched with the delicious wines, the opportunity to show it inherent characters. Burgermaster offering which involves Nederburg has also invested a pairing of a variety of burgers with a extensively in oak vats from France, selection of our wines or for a brandy, Eastern Europe and North America in coffee and biscotti tasting. which to ferment some of its wines and to Imbibe a sense of history in the Old age its reds, as well as selected whites. Cellar, where a fascinating timeline of Many of the cellar team’s best efforts Nederburg’s history is exhibited from White winemaker Tariro Masayiti, cellar master Razvan Macici and red are showcased, along with those of 1791 to the present. Book a picnic basket in winemaker Wilhelm Pienaar other top South African wineries, at the summer filled with home-made delicacies. annual Nederburg Auction, rated one of the top four wine auctions Breakfasts, lunches and dinners served inside or in front of the internationally. Discerning buyers vie with each other to purchase historic and finely restored Manor House are also available, but must the select wines on auction and the event remains a must-attend be pre-booked. Try the fine-dining experience called Nederburg’s social occasion on the South African wine calendar. Exclusive Gourmet Pleasures in the Manor House. Nederburg’s range is designed to accommodate a broad spectrum of palates and pockets from wines for relaxed, everyday Contact Information enjoyment to those catering to more specialist, connoisseur tastes. The address of Nederburg Wines is Private Bag X3006, Paarl, 7620 Sonstraal Many of these award-winning offerings can be sampled at Road, Dal Josafat, Paarl, with telephone number (+27 21) 862-3104, fax number Nederburg’s tasting complex with fine views of the mountains, (+27 21) 862-4887, and email address Web site is www. vineyards and exquisitely tended gardens. Cool and shaded in Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


The 1,200-hectare Rustenberg farm nestles at the foot of the majestic Simonsberg Mountain


riginally granted in 1682 to a German settler, Rustenberg farm was bought by Peter and Pamela Barlow in 1941. Uninterrupted wine records started in 1892, and for many years this 1,200-hectare property produced roughly 120,000 bottles annually from mainly red Bordeaux grape varieties, cultivated in the rich Stellenbosch soils at the foot of the majestic Simonsberg Mountain. The force behind the 21st century renewal is Simon Barlow, son of Peter and Pamela. Simon considers himself to be a custodian of the farm and is driven by his vision of “absolute passion and total dedication to quality in both the vineyard and cellar.”

The Wines

The Rustic Charm and Sophisticated Flavors of

Rustenberg 34


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The vineyard is 125 hectares with grape cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne and Semillon. Rustenberg was the first winery to vinify and bottle Roussanne in South Africa. The Rustenberg Stellenbosch Roussanne has initial flinty aromas followed with poached pear and ginger spice, and an intense and broad palate structure with a savoury finish. In the Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay, apricot and orange peel aromas are followed by flavors of almond and marzipan. An elegant wine with a well-balanced palate, it is matured in Burgundian oak barrels for twelve months. The Rustenberg Five Soldiers is a chardonnay redolent of flint, peach, lime and a hint of nuts, with an unmatched

concentration in the aromas and on the palate. The wine is named for five stone pine trees (Five Soldiers) that stand sentinel over the farm. The Rustenberg Straw Wine is a deliciously sweet wine, yet surprisingly fresh, with honeyed characteristics and hints of lemon. A centuries-old process of drying grapes on straw is employed to concentrate the natural grape sugar and flavor. The color of Rustenberg Stellenbosch Syrah is displayed in deep purple, inky hues. The aromatic profile starts off savoury and meaty, and develops into notes of violets and spices such as aniseed, cloves and cinnamon. The Rustenberg Stellenbosch John X Merriman is a flavorful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Plums and cigar box aromatics prelude a multi-layered palate with elegant tannins. It is named for the custodian who lovingly revitalized the farm during his ownership. The Rustenberg Peter Barlow is Cabernet Sauvignon from Rustenberg’s finest vineyard. Upfront perfume intermingled with cassis, hints of cedar and some herbaceousness lead to an intense palate with fine-grained tannins. The name pays tribute to the man who recognized the potential of Rustenberg, which he bought in 1941. The Rustenberg Unwooded Chardonnay is an elegant wine which reveals scents of lemon, mandarin orange and hints of pine needles, complemented by a crisp finish on the palate. The Rustenberg Sauvignon Blanc has inherent Sauvignon Blanc characteristics of green pepper, asparagus and gooseberry, with underlying tones of pineapple and passion fruit, which are sustained by a fresh and well-balanced palate with prodigious length. The Rustenberg Stellenbosch Schoongezicht White is an attractive blend of Semillon, Viognier and Roussanne with aromas of peaches and cream following through to the palate. The Rustenberg Stellenbosch R M Nicholson is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Black currant and pepper spice characters are complemented by a seamless tannin structure. It is named for the charismatic past owner-winemaker, Reg Merriman Nicholson.

The Tasting Experience

Guests are encouraged to enjoy the leisurely two-kilometer drive from the gate to the wine tasting centre, taking in the awesome beauty of the old oak trees lining the Kromme River along the way.

The tasting centre was once a stable for riding horses, but today visitors descend a graceful spiral staircase into a spacious, woodwarm tasting area, where the counter is made from well-matured barrels from the old wine cellar. Viewed from the grassy werf, the building retains its rustic Cape charm, with no hint of the modern, streamlined interior. On lazy summer days, an umbrella-shaded patio invites outdoor tasting, while in winter, a comfortable sitting room beckons, complete with an open fireplace and plump couches.

The Garden

The surrounding garden is lovingly nurtured by Rozanne Barlow, Simon’s wife, together with her team, and provides the ideal setting for a little quiet introspection. An intricate labyrinth, based on the Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth near Paris, is set against this idyllic backdrop. Nearby, gentle jets of water lure visitors to a sizable Koi pond, scattered with exquisite water lilies. The Rustenberg garden features a vast array of plants, from persimmons to plectranthus, fuchsias to foxgloves, columbines to cardoons, and scores of sweet-smelling roses. Hear the call of the resident fish eagles and try to spot the Claass’s cuckoos, blue cranes and the salvia-loving sugarbirds while taking your respite on a garden bench in the shade of old oak trees. The peaceful environment entices everyone to plan a return trip, and no matter where in the world they’re enjoyed, Rustenberg wines are sure to conjure up pleasant memories!

Contact Information Mail to P.O. Box 33 Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa. Call telephone number (+27 21) 809-1200, fax number (+27 21) 809-1219, or email wine@rustenberg. Log on to Check out Facebook account at www.

Rustenberg produces roughly 120,000 bottles annually from mainly red Bordeaux grape varieties

Christ Church Melaka, the most iconic and recognizable of Melaka’s tourist attractions

Melaka on My Mind By C. Mendez Legaspi Photos by Alexis Henri Onate


ith travel becoming more equitable and democratic, I quickly acquired the gallivanting vibe. In late September, I explored the temples, or wats, of the incredibly breathtaking Angkor and Ta Prohm, near the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia. Bangkok was next to be explored, with its temples and tawdry pleasures. The Thai capital, after all, has its splendid Grand Palace. But after my friends and I immersed ourselves—one time literally as we waded in river water to get to a temple/reservoir—in Siem Reap’s plethora of temples, Bangkok’s spiritual sanctuaries seemed less stellar. Speaking of religion, we have this innate conceit that the Philippines is the citadel of Catholicism in Asia. Well, maybe justifiably so. But was there ever a would-be saint who spread the faith in our shores? Melaka has that distinction, with my all-time favourite saint, Francis Xavier, spending several months there in 36 |

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Christ Church illuminated

photos?), so I asked my friend Alex, a photographer/graphic artist based in Hong Kong, if he can join me on this trip so soon after our Siem Reap/Bangkok sojourn. Fortunately, fellow wanderlust that he is, Alex was more than happy to oblige. When Alex learned that I intended to stay in Singapore for five days, he suggested that we make a side trip to Melaka and Kuala Lumpur in adjacent Malaysia. I let the suggestion simmer before I said yes. I did some quick research on Melaka, refreshing my memory about the exotic locale from what I could barely recall from history class. We would only stay in Melaka overnight, from mid-afternoon to lunchtime, before rushing to Kuala Lumpur. So we squeezed in as many sights as we could in that limited span of time.

Melaka According to the Wikis 1545, 1546 and 1549. The Jesuit missionary, who converted more people to Catholicism than anyone else, holds a special place in my heart. He is the saint (along with Saint Ignatius Loyola) who was a constant presence in my formative years at the Xavier University in my native Cagayan de Oro City, impelling me to visit Melaka, where he used to tread, preach and live.

Gearing Up for Singapore

Initially, I only wanted to revisit Singapore. When a budget airline advertised low fares (Php4,363.09), I excitedly booked a flight to the Lion City. I immediately dreamed of Universal Studios, the Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer. I’m not the lone traveller type (Hello! Who will take my

At this point, Wikipedia and Wikitravel were awesome sources of information. Malacca (Malay: Melaka) is the capital of the state of Malacca. Dubbed the Historic State, or Negeri Bersejarah among locals, it is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. Melaka City is 148 kilometers southeast of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, 235 kilometers northwest to Johor’s largest city, Johor Bahru, and 95 kilometers northwest to Johor’s second largest city, Batu Pahat. As the Melaka Sultanate flourished, the Portuguese conquered it in 1511. Later the Dutch took over in 1641 until the British Empire ruled Malacca. The state finally obtained independence with the

What remains of the interior of Saint Paul’s Church, with tombstones of Dutch nobility

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The Museum of Enduring Beauty

bus to at least fill up before we take off on our four-hour journey. Again, I was pleasantly impressed with Singapore’s efficiency as the bus driver started the engine as the clock struck 11:30. Crossing the Singapore-Malaysia borders proved uneventful— no massive delays like what usually happens on weekends, no nosy immigration officials, no untoward incidents. We only brought our passports when we exited Singapore but when we entered Malaysia via Kupang we had to take our luggage with us as is customary when making an entrance to another country. Remember to take note of your bus name and plate number to avoid being left behind. Some buses reportedly leave passengers if they take too long going through customs. We also had a thirtyminute stop in the middle of nowhere for some refreshments and toilet rituals. We arrived at Melaka Central, the center of all transportation in Melaka, at around 4 P.M. Alex looked for a telephone loading station

then Malaya states in 1957. Although it was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates, the monarchy was abolished when the Portuguese came. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri, or governor, rather than a sultan, acts as the head of state today. This historical city center has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. Therein lies another compelling reason to explore the place. To be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) must be of cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which is composed of 21 states/parties elected by their General Assembly. A World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, but UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.

Sidestepping Singapore

Having been in Singapore a day ahead of me, Alex met me at the Changi Airport. I braced myself to be overwhelmed again by the beautiful facilities of the world-class airport as soon as my plane landed. Alas, it was at the Budget Terminal, breezily efficient but having none of the stupendous trappings I envisioned. Well, so much for bloated expectations. A free shuttle service brought us near Beach Road, Golden Mile Complex, where buses to Melaka wait for passengers. I first had to change my pesos to Singapore dollars (SD1 is roughly Php34) to pay for the bus fare, which cost SD50 for two. The Indian lady at the money changer nearby wouldn’t accept my blemished, graffiti-ed thousand-peso bills. Good thing, I had crisp, clean bills, the kind that can cut your finger if you aren’t careful. We chose the 11:30 A.M. trip. When we boarded the bus, a Starmart Express first-class massage coach, a French family of four was already comfortably seated. I assumed we had to wait for the 38 |

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to activate his iPhone, the better to update his Facebook status every so often. I kept an eye for a money changer to change my pesos to ringgit (MR1 is roughly Php14.50). “Sawasdee krap!” boomed a voice not far away, a swishy eatery attendant waving at me. I acknowledged the greeting but politely gestured that I wasn’t Thai. I was tempted to pretend I was Ukrainian, but prudently restrained myself. “I’m from the Philippines!” I proudly declared in a way that would make Shamcey Supsup and Gwendoline Ruais clap in approval. “Kumusta ka?” came the fast response. “How come you know so many greetings?” I asked my welcoming committee. “I’m Tausug. From Mindanao,” he said, asking, “Are you Tagalog?” “I’m from Mindanao, too,” I said.

“Muslim?” he asked. “No,” I answered. “I am Muslim. Tausug,” my new friend shared. Then I asked him where the most favorable money changer was. He pointed at some kiosk, and we bade each other goodbye as Alex exited from a 7-11 store. Malaysians, perhaps sensing a fellow Malay in us, were quick to give directions when we asked them. We were ushered to a bus that would take us to a bus stop nearest to our inn. The short bus ride cost RM1. We asked the driver to drop us at a bus stop near Jalan Portugis, where the backpacker’s inn Alex booked us in is located. (Jalan means road; it’s dalan in Cebuano and daan in Tagalog.) Something must have been lost in translation, a common occurrence due to the language barrier, because we seemed to be nowhere near Ringo’s Foyer. Thanks to Google Map and Alex’s gadget savviness, we arrived at our home in Melaka. Up a narrow stairway was the lobby/living room, where we were greeted by the sight of two Caucasian couples watching The Prince of Persia. Everyone was all smiles. Alex and I gave our best Miss Congeniality smiles back at them. Alex asked for the owner or caretaker of the place. One guy, a Finn, replied that he was somewhere doing errands or something. We could not do anything but to wait for Ringo or someone who manages the place so we can check in and rest before starting our tour of Melaka. We were raring to freshen up for the photo oppotunities ahead of us. I seated myself at the far corner of the lobby, silently assessing the place and asking myself why some tourists would go halfway around the globe just to waste time watching a Jake Gyllenhall adventure romp instead of having adventures themselves in Melaka. My eyes then wandered to the walls of the guest house. Marlon and Marilyn were pouting in all their framed glory behind me. All-terrain bicycles were hanging from the other side of the room. A Mac was ignored (RM5 for an hour’s Internet browsing, though the place has free WiFi connection). There were a compact kitchen facing a dining area, a rack with various headgear, ceiling fans on full blast, a quirky chandelier, oversized pillows strewn about. The colorful trishaw

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Wheel of Fortune or Wheel of Change. No matter, it’s a super wheel

A skinhead, Chinese-looking fellow named Howard came ambling toward the room. He turned out to be the manager/owner of Ringo’s Foyer. Alex explained to him about their online booking arrangements. There seemed to be a slight misunderstanding on to the dates and rooms Alex booked through, a budget/ discount site for travelers. It seemed that Howard assumed that we canceled our booking, so he gave our accommodations (RM7 for a bed each in a tem-bed dorm room) to others. He tried to recommend another guesthouse to us with similar rates, but we decided to stay where we were and asked if there were vacancies still. Howard said there was a room for two for RM30. Alex and I took that in a heartbeat. The room had a queen-size bed. Because of the low rate, the room only afforded us an electric fan to combat the humidity and the heat of late October in Melaka. That was fine with us. We just needed a place to store our bags and sleep in after a whirlwind tour. Ringo’s Foyer (46A Jalan Portugis; +60 6 281-6393) is located just outside Chinatown and near enough the historic city center. Alex and I decided to go there on foot, the better to absorb the local colors and culture. We strolled through Chinatown on Jalang Hang Jebat Street, or more famously known as Jonker Walk. 40


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Jonker Walk is where you will find colorfully painted two-story houses and shops selling antiques, furniture and souvenir items with a splattering of restaurants offering Melaka cuisine. Since we were there on a Wednesday, we never got to experience the Walk’s livelier, more vibrant mood that it puts on on weekends.

Melaka Must-Sees

We crossed a dainty bridge over to the east bank of the Melaka River, where the Dutch Square is located. Busloads of Japanese tourists were already jostling for the best shots using their top-ofthe-line, just-released-five-minutes-ago digital cameras. We usually shy away from the madding crowd and prefer to preen and pout with a minimum of people as backdrop. The Christ Church, background of many a tourist’s Melaka memory, stands proud in the city center. A humble counterpart to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Protestant church is Melaka’s most iconic structure, tourism-wise. The coral red of the church brings out the vibrancy of the shrubberies and gardens surrounding it. Finished in 1753, the place of worship reflects original Dutch architecture. It houses handcrafted benches, joint-less ceiling with

The Flor de la Mar replica, now the Maritime Museum

skylights (The eleven beams were said to be hand-hewn from a single tree!), a brass replica of the Bible with a Dutch version of the image of Saint John engraved on it, tombstones written in Armenian and a replica of The Last Supper. Full disclosure: I never got to see these amazing interior features of the Christ Church, as I was enthralled with the trishaws enticing tourists to take them for a ride. A trishaw is a richly decorated, flower-decked rickshaw that will take you on a half-hour or fullhour tour, for a negotiated fee (usually RM40 per hour), of Melaka’s more well-known spots. You can’t miss a trishaw; it is adorned with bells, baubles, even Barbies! You can ask the driver to turn off his blaring stereo if you can’t stand local songs. In the middle of the Dutch Square is the Queen Victoria Fountain, built by the British in 1901. It is still fully functional to this day. It seems to be Britain’s way of stamping its presence even though the Dutch and the Portuguese have a more domineering and lasting imprint on Melaka. The Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower beside the fountain also has a British connection. It was built by a third-generation member of a philantrophic Chinese millionaire family. To fulfill Tan Beng Swee’s wish, his son Tan Jiak Kim had the clock tower commissioned. Tan

Beng Swee was the son of Tan Kim Seng, who generously donated the bridge adjacent to the clock tower and a parcel of land for a Chinese cemetery. The original clock was reportedly shipped from England. According to local reports, when the clock was replaced by one from Seiko in 1982, it created disgust and anger among the senior citizens of Malacca who still recalled the brutal treatment they endured during the Japanese occupation. Another imposing structure is the Stadthuys, the Dutch landmark also known as the Red Building. The Dutch colonized Malacca from 1641 to 1798, and they constructed the Stadthuys in 1650 as the residence of the Dutch governor and his deputy. It is now the present-day Museum of History and Ethnography, with exhibits featuring traditional wedding clothes and artifacts of Melaka from its glory days. We then went uphill, passing the Literature Museum on our left and the Governor’s Museum on our right. Too many museums, but it was twilight and they were all closed. It was time to see Saint Paul’s Church on Saint Paul’s Hill. Climbing the steps, we could see a statue beckoning us to come over. I thought it was Saint Paul and never thought much of it, but it still Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


The night market

Roast pork, Melaka-style Chicken curry made spicier

posed in front of the image nevertheless. After the gawkers have gone on to the church ruins, that is. Unlike most colonial churches, which were built by administrators, Saint Paul’s was through the efforts of a Portuguese fidalgo (nobleman) named Duarte Coelho. When his ship miraculously survived a tempest in the South China Sea, he erected a chapel on top of the Malacca Hill in honor of Our Lady of Grace (Nassa Senhora da Annunciada) in 1520 to 1521 as a sign of his gratitude for what he deemed as a divine intervention. Coelho called the church Our Lady of The Hill. When the Dutch came, they renamed it Saint Paul’s Church and had their dead nobility buried there. Giant slabs of stones with inscriptions can still be found there today. The British, during their time in Melaka, turned the ruins into a storehouse for their gun powder. The body of Saint Francis Xavier was interred there temporarily before it was transported to Goa, India. Coming down from the left side of Saint Paul’s Hill, you can see the Statue of Admiral Cheng Ho within the backgrounds of the Stadthuys. It’s a granite commemoration of the Chinese eunuch who commandeered a Chinese fleet on voyages around the globe. He was said to have come into contact with the Sultan of Malacca in the fifteenth century. From Stadthuys, we crossed the Dutch Square and saw a replica of a windmill on the other side of the street. We strolled behind the police station, on the banks of the Melaka River. Cruises cross its still waters, taking forty-five minutes with a distance of ten kilometers. The tour starts at the boat jetty farther down the Dutch Square and 42


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takes you all the way to Kampung Morten. The tour is only available during high tide and will only float when there are at least eight passengers. We didn’t take the ride. I just read all this from a travel guide. However, we followed the river cruise route by foot for a short distance. Wooden planks are placed for a leisurely stroll. From the East Bank, we could see the backs of old shop houses, some converted into restaurants, called godowns, where cargo or supplies used to be uploaded from the river directly into the warehouses. The Melaka River was instrumental in the founding of Melaka, being a conduit for trade, access to the town center and source of fresh water. Today, it is solely for tourism purposes. Before we reached the Chan Boon Cheng Bridge, we turned right to a wall with the giant UNESCO inscription: “Welcome to Melaka: World Heritage City.” We wouldn’t miss a photo opportunity with that as backdrop. Right across the UNESCO Wall is the Saint Francis Xavier Church. At dusk, the Gothic-styled church, bathed in yellow lights, looked foreboding. Built in 1849 by the French Reverend Farve to honor Saint Francis, the church still serves its mission as a Catholic place of worship.

Amazing Xavier Anecdotes

In the course of writing this piece, I did some research on my favorite saint’s special association with Melaka. I found out some interesting, spine-tingling things about the Apostle of the East, things that the Jesuits in our school never told us.

Stroll the cool night away on the Melaka riverbank

The streets of Malaka turn tranquil and silent at night

Melaka Cuisine When Saint Francis died in China in 1553, he was buried in a beach on Shangchuan Island. His body was transferred to Melaka and interred at Saint Paul’s Church for nine months. When it was decided that his body was to be transported to Goa, India, for his final resting place, the exhumers were shocked that Saint Francis’ body hardly decayed. His incorruptible body led to calls for his canonization. For him to be made a saint, the Catholic Church needed an anatomical relic. When Francis Xavier’s right arm was severed in 1614, blood still dripped. He was declared a saint in 1622, together with his Society of Jesus co-founder Ignatius Loyola. Now back to that statue on Saint Paul’s Church which I thought was Saint Paul. It was Saint Francis Xavier after all. I didn’t notice it at that time but reviewing my photos the statue’s right arm was decapitated. It was reported that the day after it was consecrated in 1952, a large casuarina tree fell on the statue. Only the right hand was broken from the fall. Two sacred reliquaries in connection to Saint Francis are kept in the Melaka church. One contains a fragment of a finger bone while the other holds a piece of skin taken from the foot of the saint. They are to be exposed only every December 3, his feast day. His body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket in 1637. Part of the saint’s arm bones was kept in a silver reliquary in the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Macau, moved to Saint Joseph’s and to the Chapel of Saint Francis Xavier on Coloane Island. It is now at the Saint Joseph’s Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum. The fabled right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptize his new Catholic converts, has been displayed since in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesu. Another regret from the Melaka trip: I never got to go inside Saint Francis Xavier Church. That sounds like a plan for another sojourn.

I would normally eat local cuisine. But having forgotten about lunch, and with the walking tour Alex and I just did, any food at that moment would satisfy us no less. We settled on a non-fancy, unpretentious eatery by the street and ordered spicy squid, fried rice and fired chicken by pointing at their pictures on a menu. The meal was filling. Still, we got disappointing stares from a neighboring table of old men who would have wanted us to taste their food fare such as satay, nasi lemak, asam laksa, Nyonya laksa and kuih genggang. Yeah, can’t spell or pronounce them? Don’t eat them. Yet. It was drizzling by the time we finished our dinner. Not ready to go back to our guest house yet, we decided to check out if Jonker Walk is brimming with activity. We found some tourists biding their time at Geographer’s Cafe, a sort of East-meets-West pub/restaurant. It’s actually a landmark pre-war shop house known to backpackers around the world. A drink, a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cake is a must when you drop by on this part of Chinatown. I have a certain denial of my advancing age, thinking that I’m still as sprightly and as energetic when I was a teenager. But things have a way of jolting you for a reality check. I was ready to lie down right there on the cafe if there was as much as a couch nearby. So off we went back to Ringo’s Foyer to call it a night. Back at the inn, some of our fellow travelers were resting their battered feet in front of the TV set. After the usual pleasantries, I went straight to bed with the intent of resting for a while before taking a bath to wash off all the dirt and grime I got from traveling from Manila to Singapore to Melaka. I woke up at 6 A.M. the next day.

Biking in Melaka

Rejuvenated from a good night’s sleep, I was ready to explore Melaka some more before our trip to Kuala Lumpur at noontime. Alex and I were too tired to do a walking tour, too stingy to hire a taxi and too fancy to call a trishaw. We wanted to bike instead. Ringo’s Foyer at 7 A.M. was dead to the world, so we rented two Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


bikes at a nearby guest house for RM5 each. These weren’t the BMX models but the antiquated ones. We were Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote) and Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) on a Malaysian holiday. When driving in a former British colony, you take the left lane instead of the usual right like we do in the American-influenced Philippines. So it was controlled panic when a car or a truck suddenly came to me head-on. Treading the narrow streets ever so gingerly, we reached A Famosa, at the bottom of Saint Paul’s Hill. The gate is all that is left of the former Portuguese fortress built by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511 to ward off the raids by the natives. A group of Indian students were our rivals in taking photos. They could only stare at how we conducted our poses. The Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum was still closed that early morn, so I just posed in front of its wooden gates. The museum is a fine example of the traditional craftsmanship of the Malays in the fifteenth century. Built without the use of nails, the roof was built of tough belian wood from Sarawak while the walls were of resak wood. Biking back to Dutch Square, we passed the Governor’s Museum, Museum of Enduring Beauty, the Malay and Islamic World Museum and finally stopped at the Maritime Museum. The last museum, also called Flor de la Mar or Flower of the Sea, is a massive replica of a Portuguese nau (carrack) weighing 400 tones. It resembles a Spanish galleon, and I thought it was one until I read literature about it. The original ship was part of the fleet under Albuquerque on his voyages in the Indian Ocean. It was to deliver to the king a large booty and treasures after the conquest of Malacca but it didn’t survive a storm and sunk off the coast of Sumatra in 1511. Albuquerque was rescued but the ship with its mythical treasures still lies on the ocean floor. Its remains a treasure hunter’s wildest wet dream. Robert Marx, an American treasure hunter, is said to have spent US$20 million to recover this untold fortune. “It’s the richest vessel ever lost at sea, with its hold loaded with 200 coffers of precious stones, with diamonds from the small half-inch size to the size of a man’s fist.” There was also a giant wheel on display beside the riverbank and what seemed to be another ruins of a fort. Both structures I failed to get the names of, but they were unmistakably remnants of Portuguese rule. After a quick lunch on another side street, this time partaking of roast pork and chicken curry sprinkled with traditional Malaccan spices, downed with lemon iced tea, the chef/owner engaged us in deep conversation about the similarities of both our countries—the people, the cuisine and the race. We made one big turn at Jonker Walk to see if we could buy a mask for our friend Evans, a collector of such for his flat in Barcelona. Sadly, the shop houses usually open at mid-afternoon. So we just returned the bikes and walked a short distance to our guest house to check out. Guests who arrived the night before from touring Johor in the north were lounging in the lobby. They were exchange students from Hong Kong on their Reading Break, like a semestral break for us. The college kids are from Scotland and the United States who took advantage of their vacation to see some parts of Southeast Asia. We enjoined them to visit the Philippines next time, and they promised 44


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Masks, amusing and horrifying, full frontal

Eye-catching, hand-painted clogs on sale at Jonker Walk

that they would definitely try our world-famous beaches. Having settled our accounts with an overly chatty “chambermaid,” whose favorite song is “Anak” by Freddie Aguilar, we asked for final directions to Melaka Central. We just walked another short distance to the bus stop. While onboard the airconditioned bus (RM1, same rate as the rickety one), Alex realized that he left his iPhone, which was being recharged. We immediately disembarked from the bus so Alex can retrieve his “life-support system.” The “chambermaid” gladly greeted him and handed his iPhone back. What an honest service. (On his Facebook page, Howard, the manager, said that if an item is left behind for a period of time he donates it to the Salvation Army.) That was a pleasant end to a wonderful stay in Melaka. I’ve only been to Malaysia once before this trip, and it wasn’t even on the mainland. I was on a Star Cruise with other young press people that took us from Singapore, Langkawi, Phuket and back to the Lion City. That was in 2004, before the devastating tsunami struck. A week after we left Bangkok this September came the worst flooding for the megacity in fifty years. God knows what catastrophe was on our trail once we left Melaka. (For the record, Melaka is intact and thriving as of press time.) Melaka is exotic, and it will always be in my mind. Until my next visit, that is.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) is one of the few caves which the general public can easily experience. It is navigable up to 4.3 kilometers and is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the world. The park-operated paddle boats take visitors for an hour tour of the cave. Tours are scheduled daily except during extreme weather conditions.

Making Palawan More Fun By Sherma E. Benosa


aving already visited the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) a few times before it won a spot in the New Seven Wonders of Nature, the thought of going back after the win just gave me little excitement (at least, compared to my first visit to the province). I thought the things I’d see would be the same anyway, that the only thing that changed is that now the site has another “world title” in addition to its being a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. But I also wondered about the developments that must have taken place or are taking place in that part of province. Surely, international awareness must have increased since the initial results of the international poll came out and especially when PPUR officially secured a spot in the top seven, translating to more tourist arrivals. I was curious about how the new honor accorded to the place is impacting tourism and local development. What I saw both thrilled and saddened me.

The Good News

New resort. One of the new exciting things that are happening in Sabang, Puerto Princesa City, is the newly-opened Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. A paradise resort within a paradise, Sheridan

has strategically positioned itself as the place to stay while you are on a leisure travel to PPUR, that is, if you want to experience complete pampering throughout your stay, and money isn’t an issue. Sheridan is the only premium resort in the area. It boasts of a big pool, an outdoor gym, a spa, a restaurant and a bar, good food and elegant rooms with great view. Sheridan also offers a tour to its organic farm about seven kilometers away. I find the tour to the farm among the highlights of my most recent visit to Palawan. We rode all-terrain vehicles going to the farm (It was my first time, and unlike my companions I didn’t muster the nerve to drive). I gathered some ideas about organic farming. I was very much interested in this because I want to introduce organic farming in our small parcel of land in my hometown. And we ate fresh, raw corn! We were also shown how the natives used to trap monkeys. I find the practice cruel, and I’m glad it has been outlawed. New activities. I was also happy to note that despite the presence of a “star attraction” in the area, new activities have been conceptualized to complement the PPUR. Among them is an 800-meter zip line, said to be the longest in the country that passes through a beach. Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


The PPUR and park was inscribed in the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list of World Heritage sites on December 4, 1999.

You have to trek a little bit at the monkey trail to get to the start of the zip line. The zip line is 800 meters long that will start at an elevated portion of the monkey trail and will end in an island near Sabang. Approximate flying time is one minute and 30 seconds. It was nearing sunset when we reached the elevated portion of the monkey trail, the start-off point. Some of my companions were contemplating backing out, myself included. But the thrill of doing it for the first time in a group composed mostly of first-timers coupled with the fact that the view below was of a calm sea made me decide not to chicken out this time. (I did chicken out not long time ago). None of my companions chickened out either. It was a good thing that I mustered the courage to do it. It was a great experience, and it wasn’t as scary as I thought. I thought I just got initiated into the zip line craze that has gripped the country for quite a long time already. Eco-tourism. Despite the increased demand in tourism, the conservation of the environment is still on top of the people’s mind. The province’s Protected Area 46


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Management Board (PAMB) is very strict in implementing environmental protection rules and guidelines to ensure that the PPUR and its environs, which is a protected area, won’t ironically become collateral damage to its increased popularity. Mangrove tour. This actually isn’t new. In fact, the mangrove tour has been in operation since the early 2000s. But it was my first time to join the tour, and immediately I realized that apparently, there are a lot of things in the province I haven’t experienced yet. This just proves that despite visiting a place several times, the experience will be different each time. There will always be new things to discover. The tour was educational. We learned about the importance of mangrove, its varieties, and some general tidbit on environmental conservation. At the end of our tour ride, our “mangrove lady” treated us to a song whose lyrics she herself wrote. This is the standard good bye activity in the mangrove tour. Usually, some guests can request to gather tamilok, an edible worm-like mollusk that live in mangroves. We didn’t get to experience that, though. Maybe next time.

Areas That Need Improvements

Despite preparations to accommodate the sudden influx of tourists, there are still areas that need improvement. Here I write some of my thoughts regarding service in the hope that this will be looked into before it’s too late. Lack of efficient system. Its inclusion in the list of seven new wonders of nature in the world has sealed Puerto Princesa’s place as one of the major attractions in the paradise province of Palawan. Since PPUR’s inclusion in the list, tourism in the province grew tremendously, even surpassing expectations. According to Ed Tongco, general manager of Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa, tourist arrival in January 2012 is 300 percent higher than last year’s. Despite preparations to accommodate these tourists, some services fall short, especially in servicing tourists to PPUR. Where before, it was easy to go to PPUR—you just have to drive to Sabang, pay your boat rental fee, wait a little, and then you will be brought to the cave via boat—now it’s harder. Apparently, you now have to request permit to go to the cave. The sad thing is that you will have to wait for a long time before the permit arrives. The problem is partly because the demand has become so great, while the cave can only accommodate 1,000 visitors a day. However, the main reason is the lack of an efficient system. Much of the inconvenience can be avoided if an efficient system is in place. Until an efficient system has been in place, tourists are advised to check how they may get permit to go to PPUR as soon as they arrive in Puerto Princesa, even if they intend to take the tour on their second or third day to increase their chances of getting a permit. Moreover, the waiting area has not improved to match the new status of PPUR. It’s the same old tents bearing the name of Puerto Princesa mayor Edgar Hagedorn and plastic chairs I saw a couple of years ago installed at the wharf. The tourists look like they’re waiting for their provincial bus instead of waiting to be brought to a world-class tourist spot. The tents are not even large enough to accommodate everyone. It was such a pity seeing tourists—both local and foreign—looking harassed waiting for their turn. Entertainment-based PPUR tour. Another concern is the way boat paddlers-cum-tour guides “annotate” during the tour. It is entertainment based. There is so much they can tell about the cave, but they instead crack jokes. While some of their jokes are really good, other “punch lines” aren’t really funny. Some even tend to be tasteless. I think it would be much better if they’d instead focus on environmental and historical trivia. Yes, a retraining, in my opinion, is needed. My point is this we have created a big demand for the PPUR. It has joined the ranks of other world-class tourist spots. It’s about time that service is leveled up to match its new status. We cannot afford to shoo away tourists by failing to provide them with an efficient system. Being one of the Seven New Wonders of Nature is a great distinction for the PPUR, but let’s not forget that the title is shared with six other tourist attractions. If we fail to level up service and we disappoint tourists in that area, there are six other spots they can go to. It’s more fun in the Philippines, our tourism slogan says. Let us make that true to the letter by complementing our spectacular tourist destinations with efficient service.

The limestone or karst formation in the area is estimated to be twenty million years old. The karst is eleven kilometer long. The PPUR has eleven minerals including the rare mineral serrabrancaite or manganese phosphate, formed from the mineralization of guano.

Getting There The major airlines Philippines Airlines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific fly to Puerto Princesa City from Manila. The Puerto Princesa Airport is one and half kilometers from the city proper, accessible by multicab (tricycle). Several passenger sea vessels ply the Manila-Puerto Princesa route including William Line’s MU Zamboanga and Aboitiz’s Super Ferry 3. Travel time is about 24 hours.

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Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa A Destination By Itself

Twenty minutes away from the now world-famous Puerto Princesa Underground River, declared last January as one of the official New Seven Wonders of Nature, is the Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. The only premium resort in the Sabang area, Sheridan boasts of elegant rooms, outstanding service, good food and fantastic view. It is by itself a destination. Opened only on July 2011, the resort has already billeted a number of notable people, among them President Benigno Simeon Aquino III; Luca Fornari, ambassador of 48


Italy; Roberto Lorca, ambassador of Chile; and some Philippine government officials, business executives and celebrities. Experience interviewed Ed Tongco, corporate general manager of Sheridan, about the developments envisioned for the resort.

E: How is Sheridan different from the other resorts in the area?

features a total of 94 elegant rooms and suites with Asian-inspired contemporary interiors and a touch of local culture that offers a breathtaking beach, amazing pool and lush garden view to create a feeling of both sophistication and comfort. Aside from accommodations, Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa provides the ideal meeting venue in Sabang to carry out important business conferences and corporate events.

Ed Tongco (ET): Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa is the only resort in the area that

E: What makes Sheridan stand out among the other resorts in the area

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and in the whole of Puerto Princesa?

encounter in your operations?

ET: Ideally, the location of our resort, being just twenty minutes away from one of the New Seven Wonders, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, is an advantage, but apart from that the quality of our facilities and amenities stand out than the rest of the resorts locally. In addition, we ensure that we provide a level of service to meet the high standards of our guests here.

ET: The major challenge we encounter is the remote location of the area. The availability of supplies, electricity and water is limited. That is why we have our own generator sets (for electricity and water), and we constantly need to make sure that we have enough supplies for the resort’s need particularly those items which we get from other cities or countries.

E: What are the developments being envisioned for Sheridan (both for the resort and the farm)?

E: How does Sheridan see itself in the near future?

ET: Sheridan aims to level up the service to make it one of the best resorts in Palawan. We’re planning to add 150 rooms to accommodate more guests (local and international). And we will definitely upgrade our facilities and amenities to suit an elegant, luxurious yet friendly service, the best that we could possibly offer to all our guests here. Also, farm enhancement to support the needs of the hotel and part of the tour activities as well.

E: What are the challenges that you

ET: We see Sheridan to be one of the top resorts not just in Puerto Princesa but in Palawan as well. We strive to provide

luxurious and the best experience possible to every guests we welcome here. We have a soon-to-open hotel in Iloilo and are planning to open hotels in Guimaras, Mactan in Cebu and another hotel in the city proper of Puerto Princesa.

E: How did the idea of an organic farm come about? ET: Our desire to provide wellness for our guests brought the idea of an organic farm. We want to make sure that this is a place of a relaxing, peaceful and healthy environment to everyone. Not just the place but the food they eat would be what’s best for them. And to support the needs of the resort ensuring the food quality and freshness.

Contact Information Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa is in Sabang, Puerto Princesa City. Its Manila sales office is at the ground floor of Pacific Corporate Center, 131 West Avenue, Quezon City, with telephone numbers (+63 2) 3766968 and (+63 2) 921-6963, telefax number (+63 2) 376-6970 and mobile number +63917-6318937 Its Cebu sales office is at Sheridan Building, Ouano Avenue, North Reclamation Area, Mandaue City, Cebu, with telephone number (+63 32) 345-1000, fax number (+63 32) 415-5131 and mobile number +639176313479. Its Palawan sales office is at Jeco Building, Rizal Avenue Extension, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, with telephone numbers (+63 48) 434-1449 and (+63 48) 723-7278, fax number (+63 48) 434-1448 and mobile number +63917-3083245. Web site is

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The majestic Mayon Volcano is long known for its almost perfect conical shape

Albay Mayon Volcano and Much, Much More By Bernard L. Supetran

A rock islet called Batong Langoyon in Cabarian, Ligao City



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ention Albay and immediately the image of the awesomely perfect cone of Mayon Volcano comes into mind, and for good reason. The icon of tourism of the Bicolandia for decades, this majestic mountain can be seen in many parts of the region on a clear day. Reputed to be the world’s most beautiful peak, it is best viewed from the postcard-pretty Cagsawa Ruins Park in Daraga, Albay, which was buried during the volcano’s most violent eruption in 1814. Regarded as among the world’s most restive volcanoes, its contour is so enigmatic it lures tourists, photo enthusiasts and plain kibitzers, even during its frequent rumblings. But beyond this legendary geological

The Santo Domingo Church, in honor of the town's patron saint, St. Dominic Guzman, was built in 1820

monument, Albay is a treasure trove of natural wonders which have been literally living under the shadow of this towering peak. Deriving its name from the phrase al baybay, which literally means “to the beach,” the province boasts of a long coastline on both in its east and west frontiers. Beach bums can hie off to Bacacay, an archipelagic town which boasts of a string of idyllic islands and the tranquil Sula Channel, which can rival the famed Loboc River cruise because of its verdant The pinukpok abaca fiber weaving in Legazpi City

vegetation and undulating mountains. The town is among the country’s bestkept secrets until the posh Misibis Bay Resort in Cagraray Island hogged the limelight. This ultra-luxurious resort, which continues to lure visitors despite its prohibitive rates, did to Manny Pacquiao what his opponents failed to do—send him deep into dreamland with its knock-out amenities. The beach havens in Albay are in Maonon in Ligao City, Calayucai in Santo Domingo, Sogod in Bacacay, and Rapu Rapu Island, all with a different character. Culture vultures and heritage buffs can go church-hopping in Camalig, Daraga, Santo Domingo, Tiwi, Malinao, Tabaco City and Polangui with their baroque churches, each with an interesting story to tell. For a touch of an eclectic urban life, laze around Legazpi City, the provincial capital and regional center of Bicol. Sink your teeth in mouth-watering Bicolano cuisine at Waway’s Restaurant, fusion food at Small Talk Café or signature fast food in casual restaurant Bigg’s. Savor the much talked-about Bicol Express, laing, pinangat, kinunot, cocido and other spicy delights to add spice to your dining pleasure. Hang around Embarcadero, a boutique lifestyle mall by the city’s bay area, inspired by San Francisco marinas. Sip your favorite coffee, zip across the bay, rappel from the mall’s lighthouse, go kart driving beside

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A zip line in Ligñon Hill

the historic Kapuntukan Hill or “Sleeping Lion.” For a dose of adrenaline rush or a relaxing commanding view of the city, a visit to the Ligñon Hill is a must. One of the highest points in the city, it is an adventure site with its zip line, hanging bridge, trails and the World War II Japanese tunnel. Better yet, rough it out in Mayon’s dreaded lava trail aboard an all-terrain vehicle for a unique physical adventure. For an all-time high, swing by the Mayon Skyline in Tabaco City which will take you the shoulder of the volcano and offer an exhilarating view of Albay’s Pacific seaboard. Take a glimpse of the rustic lakeshore life in Polangui and Libon, the mangrove forests of Manito, the rich waters of Pio Duran where some whale sharks or butandings find their way, or the refreshing waters of Vera Falls in Malinao. For the all-important pasalubong before heading home, lose yourself in the exquisite abaca accessories and home furnishings, hand-woven mats, sweet pili delicacies, spicy flavorings, cutlery, and pottery, among others. A suggested one-stop shop is the pasalubong center near the Grand Central Terminal in Legazpi City where all of these can be bought at a convenient location. After indulging in nature, culture and adventure, you’ll realize that there’s certainly much, much more to Albay than Mayon Volcano.

The Stations of the Cross at Kawa Kawa Hill in Ligao City

Getting There

Riding the all-terrain vehicle on Mayon's lava trail

Albay offers a bounty of souvenirs and food for pasalubong

Albay is about 538 kilometers southeast of Manila. Albay can be reached by plane through the Legazpi airport. It is served by Philippine Airlines, flying daily to and from Legazpi. About a hundred buses leave Manila daily to Legazpi. The terminals are located at the Araneta Center in Cubao and in Ermita, Manila, near the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Contact Information The Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office is at the Albay Tourism Building, Albay Astrodome Complex, Capt. F. Aquende Drive, Legazpi City, Albay, with telephone number (+63 52) 820-6314 and 16, fax number (+63 52) 820-6315 and e-mail address The office of the provincial government of Albay is at the Albay Provincial Capitol in Legazpi City, with telephone number (+63 52) 481-2555, fax number (+63 52) 480-3444, Web site, and e-mail address The Department of Tourism Regional Office 5 is at the DoT Building, Regional Offices Site, Rawis, Legazpi City, with telephone numbers (+63 52) 820-3664, 482 0811, 482 0812 and 482 0712, and Web site 52


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Spectacularly Shanghaied at

Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa By Raymund Magno Garlítos Photos by Donald Tapan

“He liked the serene world that Shangri-La offered him, pacified rather than dominated by its single tremendous idea.” —James Hilton, The Lost Horizon



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literary passage appears on the boxed toothbrush set, along with similarly packaged toiletries inside the bathroom of the Deluxe Seaview Suite where I stayed. It takes a trained eye to notice the kind of treatment a hotel gives to its guests through the gestures of hospitality that it offers: not just by the brand of soap or lotion that is often decked near the toilet sink or the bath tubs, but by the intricate details that a guest will pay attention to the moment he unlocks the door to his suite. From the placement of furniture, the configuration of lights tempered enough to pacify the harried

visitor, and yes, even the words that appear on the boxed toiletries are priceless trinkets of pleasure. That is how one gets captivated by the acumen of service that Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa offers to all of its guests—the feeling of being treasured and coveted is in itself a form of luxury. In my case, shanghaied is the perfect word to describe the experience of my sojourn in this deluxe destination: too strongly worded perhaps to those who take it literally, but that is how the place actually made me feel: I felt suddenly taken away from the balm and burn of routine life in the city, tucked in a room that made me feel I

owned the place, and subjected to the most royal of treatments. So is there any other better word to best describe a stay? Nestled in a cover of lush palms and greens and partly surrounded by powderwhite coastline, this most prominent and well-remembered heavenly hideaway situated in the historic Mactan Island is a most acclaimed deluxe resort establishment and is one of the island’s first deluxe resort accommodations in the country when it opened in October 1993. While it guarantees a superior experience that lives up its brand, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa still offers a unique approach to luxury for its guests with its lush greenery, manicured gardens, inviting white-sand beach, and from the vantage view of your suite, a breathless view of all of it. And then there is the endless sea, the enchanting picture of sunrise and sunset, and the infinite night sky on your balcony to complete this astonishment of the senses. In fact, one story that went around is that one moneyed foreign visitor who got so smitten by the charms of this resort decided to build his own version of the Shangri-La’s Mactan (as to which resort got inspiration from it, I leave it to the seasoned reader and traveler’s mind to discover). And despite the establishment of newer resorts and hotels, it remains to be a premier destination, and those who try to compete with it only show its reverence to its position in Cebu’s tourism.

In the Private Realm of One’s Own Pleasures

Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa

has 530 guestrooms and suites, including the Presidential Suite, two Shangri-La Specialty Suites and the Ocean Club, situated on the highest floors of the resort’s Ocean Wing. The newly-refurbished Shangri-La Wing has just been recently completed, and 75 luxurious rooms are now available for its guests’ delectation. Its new ocean-to-shore theme of warm, golden sand and fresh turquoise ocean hues blend flawlessly into the resort’s existing structure and seaside location, with tropical elements such as coral and seashells inspire room accents. Refurbished Superior Gardenview Rooms are warm and welcoming and feature views of landscaped gardens, providing a serene repose for guests after a day of recreation. Deluxe Seaview Rooms are decorated in a palette of seaside colors. They feature views of the resort grounds and the shimmering waters of the Mactan Channel. These accommodations offer a generous space of 36 square meters and private view decks that open out to spectacular vistas. The sprawling one-bedroom Casa Suites offer the luxury of space, each suite featuring a convertible bed in the living room as well as a cozy snack dining area and a separate powder room in the foyer. The exquisitely appointed Veranda Suites offer a private thirty-square meter corner terrace, allowing guests an expansive view of the property or the privacy to luxuriate under the Mactan sun. It also features a separate children’s room with a daybed and en suite shower room, and a separate pull-down sofa in the living room. The refreshed Shangri-La Suites are

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decorated in rich shades of taupe and turquoise, with accents of orange, silver and copper. The two-bedroom suites have a separate living room, dining room and pantry. The marble bathroom has a soaking tub and a separate shower cubicle. Luxury is felt in the finer details. The refurbished rooms and suites highlight Philippine craftsmanship in the capiz shell headboards, timber flooring and decorative fretwork lamps, as well as the use of sumptuous local materials such as teak and mother of pearl. Modern, thoughtful touches such as adjustable mood lighting and a fully integrated extra pull-down bed have been added. Complimentary, inroom wired Internet and wireless fidelity (WiFi) access is also available. In keeping with the resort’s green initiatives, materials have been developed and sourced locally when possible.

preserves, and exquisite imported butter. Those who are living their salad and fruit days will delight in the endless combinations of greens and fruit that the salad station offers. Aside from Continental cuisine, one may try the more exotic offerings in the Indian cuisine station, where tangu dishes and fragrant biryani rice are filled with a thousand flavors that will sear your soul. Those with a modest approach to food may enjoy the Japanese food station where there is more than enough sushi, sashimi and tempura you can imagine. Take yourself to the middle

Food and Entertainment Heaven

Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort has a variety of restaurants and foodserving fixtures that offer the discerning diner a wide array of cuisine and entertainment options to select from. Tides is an all-day dining restaurant that features a buffet of international dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner in an openkitchen set-up. It’s not all surprising to see the multitudes of guests going for an all-out extravaganza of gastronomical pleasures, the tables constantly filled and replaced as guests help themselves to a cornucopia of delightful dishes. There is a bread and patisserie section filled with French breads, canapés, croissants, fruit tarts and even the very Filipino pan de sal (bread of salt) along with different fruit spreads such orange marmalade, grape and strawberry 56


kingdom and savor the gustatory offerings at the Chinese cuisine station’s different varieties of dim sum, and if you want alltime favorite Filipino foods there is a special station dedicated for it. Even foreigners could not help themselves with the unique, tasty offerings . If you want more sophistication and a finer approach to dining, then there are specialty restaurants within the resort that can take your gastronomical pleasures to a new level. Tea of Spring offers a selection of traditional, contemporary, herbal, vegetarian and fragrant Chinese cuisine in a timelessly elegant and stylish setting, complemented by a wide selection of loose-

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leaf teas. On the other hand, have a vantage view of the Cebu Sea while imagining yourself in the Italian coast with Acqua’s modern authentic Italian cuisine. The Buko Bar is situated at the main wing pool—the best place for guests to take light refreshments in between swimming. On selected days of the week, a native buffet and a cultural show are available for guests to experience a true Filipino fiesta. Dining is a delight at Breeze, the resort’s newlyrefurbished food and service outlet by the beach, serving light snacks, sandwiches and coolers to keep you energized and refreshed while lounging in the sun, while Scoops serves delectable ice cream treats by the main pool. Guests can start the evening with a drink at the Lobby Lounge while listening to the soothing sounds from the featured entertainer. At Cowrie Cove, guests can savor fresh seafood under a canopy of stars and with the sound of waves directly below the al-fresco desk. The newly renovated Waves Bar is the perfect venue for guests to enjoy signature cocktails at sunset. Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort offers guests an unparalleled view of the sea from the intimate luxury of the Gazebo and the Observatory. Exquisite menus complete the perfect romantic evening in these seaside dining pavilions.

Chi, The Spa that Refreshes

In traditional Chinese philosophy, chi (also spelled qi) is the universal force that governs well-being and personal vitality, and good health is achieved when chi flows freely within the body. It also draws inspiration from the origins of the ShangriLa legend, a place of personal peace, enchantment and well-being. Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La, may be a

Chi, The Spa

regular fixture in many of the Shangri-La chain of hotels and resorts, but their branch at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is certainly the gem that gives the resort its essential appeal. Built like a Himalayan villa, it is a refuge for the tired and harried soul, with each treatment hut and cabana designed to exude that aura of peace and comfort. It is also one of the largest spa treatment villas in Asia. At the receiving lounge, one gets astonished by the art installation in the middle of the place, like a fireplace but instead of flames, a whirlpool-like fixture (some say it looked like an inverted Christmas tree) floating above it, filled with pairs upon pairs of gauze-like wings seemingly suspended in the fragrant air. The scent of oils and fragrant candles permeate every nook and cranny as meditative music flows like streams in one’s ears. The Chi Villas are complete with spacious relaxation areas, a private garden patio, sunken tub, herbal steam room ad shower. The names of the various treatment rooms and huts are also inspired by the names of places from the same legend. Chi’s spa treatments are drawn from the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire and earth—in which balance must be in place to maintain harmony, drawing elements from the Shangri-La legend where rituals and philosophies are fused together to achieve a holistic approach in physical and spiritual well-being. Before actual therapy, a personal therapist conducts a brief consultation, identifying the guest’s personal elements

given his/her personality; it is a ritual that I presume is unique to Chi. The therapist then identifies your elements and recommends a specific treatment for you to undergo. Some of Chi’s Asian Wellness massages include the eclectically named Mystical Flowing River Massage, a therapy meant to ease the symptoms of a modern hectic lifestyle using techniques to balance the left and right brain activity to create inner deeper calm, stimulating sluggish lymph systems to help restore stamina and improve overall health. Then there is the aptly familiar Philippine hilot massage, using warmed coconut oil and banana leaves placed all over the body and allowing the healing hands to detect areas of energy imbalance and blockade of the body. The most popular of them all, the Healing Stone massage uses basalt stones that the therapist glides all over the body to create a deeply relaxing and healing treatment. Chi also includes a selection of treatments called Sense of Place that showcases the well-being traditions found in Philippine culture and the many plants, herbs and botanical products with their potent therapeutic properties. One of them is the Kalipay (the local word for “sense of bliss”), which uses a combination of

volcanic ash, crush coconut shell body scrub and batik wrap, with a sensational hair and scalp treatment using avocado and cucumbers. There is also the Palina Hilot, a distinctly styled, four-hand massage that succinctly combines the two therapists’ innate healing abilities in massage strokes that are in perfect unison, recalling the ancient ritual of cleansing the spirit. Those with body aches may want to try the Hot Dinu-ot Muscle Relief, using a balm made of sambong (Philippine camphor), native lemongrass, lagundi (five-leaf chaste tree) and jackfruit tree bark applied to the body using deep-pressure massages, finished with large heated banana leaves wrapped around the limbs to gently steam the herbal compress for long-lasting relief.

In the Grand Scheme of Events and Affairs

Aside from leisure travel, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is one of the country’s preferred out-of-town meeting venues and has earned a reputation for hosting

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


Thirteen hectares of dreamy escape

successful conferences and memorable team building preparations. Indoor meeting facilities include the Mactan and Rosal Ballrooms, seven convertible meeting rooms as well as The Marquee, the resort’s fully airconditioned indoor tent that spans roughly 1,200 square meters, the largest of its kind in the Visayas region. For events on a much grander scale, The Marquee’s spacious interior guarantees the ideal level of exclusivity essential to guests at distinguished events, including lavish weddings, gala dinners, social gatherings, and conventions and exhibitions. Full banquets can seat up to 800 people, while a reception area has a capacity of 1,200 people. All of the conference and function rooms feature the latest audio-visual equipment, including wired and WiFi Internet access. Companies may choose from full-day or half-day meeting packages, with a variety of themed coffee breaks and dinner party ideas. Special rates and savings apply for companies that book at least ten rooms. At the tip of the beachfront, where a bridge connects the adjacent Cowrie Cove restaurant, stands the Ocean Pavilion, a glassenclosed architectural masterpiece with a panoramic view of the ocean. It can seat up 70 people, and its high ceiling and clear glass are perfect for wedding ceremonies, intimate social gatherings, cocktail receptions and small-scale meetings. Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa offers a complete lineup of recreational facilities such as two swimming pools, a sixhole putting range, a fourteen-hole themed mini-golf park, a plexi-pave tennis court, a gym featuring modern exercise equipment, a salon, a sauna and a steam room. The resort 58


The resort has a 350-meter beach

also offers water activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, glass-bottom boat rides and island-hopping trips to nearby outlying islands. Beach buffs can get a dose of the sun, the breeze and the clear, cool waters of the pristine cove beach, which has a bar, tennis and a volleyball court. The latest addition to the resort’s amenities, the Mactan Terraces, located behind the Ocean Wing, is also a good place to hold outdoor team-building activities. With the resort’s expansive thirteenhectare grounds, meetings are taken a notch higher with the option to take activities outdoors. A 350-meter beach cove is the perfect setting for team workshops, incorporating exciting water sports and games such as raft-building, snorkeling and kayak competitions. Golf enthusiasts may try their luck at the six-hole pitch and putt and themed mini-golf park, while tennis

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

enthusiasts can play at the resort’s plexi-pave tennis court.

Amenities for the Young and Young-at-heart

As a family-friendly deluxe resort, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa provides services and facilities that cater to children. Children aged four years and above will surely enjoy playing at the Adventure Zone, a three-storey indoor playground where they can swing on ropes, climb up and down nets and ladders, or crawl through colorful padded columns, walls and floor and play on the 180-degree vertical drop slide, all under the careful supervision of well-trained staff. The Adventure Zone offers daily children’s activities tailor-made for each age group, as well as birthday packages, evening parties and half-day and full-day special activity packages. The main pool has a new water slide, and the newly refurbished

children’s pool has a brightly colored Aquaplay area that includes three slides, a rainbow shower and a baby bungee. Families traveling with toddlers and babies can use the resort’s services and facilities such as baby cots, baby bathtubs (upon request), bottle sterilizers, baby bath amenities and toddler activities. Those who want to get a breather may want to bring their children to the Toddler Zone, a play area for children aged three years old and below. Trained nannies are available 24 hours a day, upon guests’ request, and a resort doctor and nurse are on call at all times. Across from the Adventure Zone is the E-Zone, a complete entertainment hub with Time Zone arcade section, billiards, a foosball table, an air hockey table, a Wii console and an X-box 360 video console. A spacious lounge allows guests to view the latest Formula One, NBA finals or the World Cup while ordering specially concocted drinks and snacks. Two spacious karaoke rooms have a wide selection of over 10,000 songs in English, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. These karaoke rooms may be converted into small function rooms, complete with a long table for dining or meetings.

and movie watching,” adds Amon. In line with the resort’s 20th anniversary, current and future renovations are already laid out and being executed. “Not many guests will notice that there is an ongoing renovation in some parts of the hotel, and we made sure that the developments we are introducing will not disturb or distract the guests as they enjoy the facilities and the amenities,” remarks Agnes Pacis, director of sales and marketing. The current refurbishments will constitute 123 newly revitalized suites that will be available by June 2012, and by next year renovation of the main lobby and the 100 rooms above it will push through, to be completed by December 2013. “The addition of a fresher and a more

contemporary guest room product coupled with our legendary Shangri-La hospitality are sure to delight our loyal and first-time guests. These new rooms also promise to raise the bar, so to speak, of the level of accommodation on offer in Cebu.” Whether thoroughly relishing the different amenities or simply getting away from the maddening crowd of tourists by enjoying the peace and quiet of your own suite, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa’s brand of hospitality and luxury accommodation is the single tremendous idea that will certainly captivate your heart, cure your body and soul of its worries and stresses, and takes you to a different level of experience that can be best described in two words: spirited away.

Developments in Time for its 20th Anniversary

Part of the strategies in deeply entrenching Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa’s reputation as a primary leisure and luxury destination in the Philippines is the renovation of many of its existing structures and the creation of new ones. “It started with the renovation of the rooms in the Shangri-La Wing, which were finished on December 2011. Now there are 75 well-appointed suites that previous guests of the hotel who have checked in before would notice a transformation,” says Mildred Amon, the resort’s director of communications. International design firm Ara Design Asia, which was also responsible for the other Shangri-La properties in Indonesia, Malaysia and India. “We also want to promote an active lifestyle among the guests of the resort, so we are currently offering the Be Active program. It constitutes different activities like sports activities and golf tournaments, cultural events and tours, and entertainment activities like cooking demos with our chefs

Getting There The Mactan-Cebu International Airport serves various international destinations of Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air, Zest Air, Asiana Airlines, Silk Air, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Air Busan, Jin Air, Jeju Air and domestic destinations of PAL, Cebu Pacific Air,, Zest Air and Airphilexpress. The Cebu Port receives several passenger and cargo ships daily, servicing the Cebu-Manila and vice versa route and daily trips to different major cities in the Visayas and Mindanao. There are also fast crafts operating in Cebu that service the Cebu-Tagbilaran, Cebu-Dumaguete and Cebu-Ormoc and vice-versa routes. It usually takes at least two hours to reach said destinations. Ferries operating in Cebu are Carlos A. Gothong Lines, Cebu Ferries, Cokaliong Shipping Lines, F.J. Palacio Lines, George & Peter Lines, Lite Shipping Corp, Ocean Jet Fast Ferries, Roble Shipping Corp, Supercat, Superferry, Super Shuttle Ferry, Sulpicio Lines, Trans-Asia Shipping Lines and Weesam Express. Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is at Punta Engano Road, Lapu-Lapu City, a short 15-minute drive from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. From the airport, guests can arrive at the resort via limousine transfer, taxi or car hire. The resort also offers airport shuttle transfers for a minimal fee.

Contact Information Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa can be contacted through telephone number (+63 32) 231-0288, fax number (+63 32) 231-1688, and e-mail address Log on to Web site Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |



here is a definite attraction to a resort that offers its guests to just “be,” or to “be happy vacationing” to be exact. And this is how Be Resorts in Cebu is exactly earning its share of guests, located as it is already in the popular beach stretch of Punta Engaño at the northeastern tip of Mactan Island. One’s experience of the boutique resort begins with a quick scenic drive through the Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge, if you’re coming from Cebu’s capital. The bridge, which connects Cebu Island to Mactan Island, is, after all, one of the widest and longest

A Mactan Resort

Be Resorts in Mactan Island a refreshing sight of brilliant colors

That Lets One Be

bridge spans in the country. Outside it’s all creamy yellow for the 161-room resort, which is almost white under the sun’s glare, and the name of the hotel in interlocked white B and E letters set in a lime green background. Then one comes upon the lobby that is filled with furniture that are art pieces in themselves: two Chiquita stools with seats made from 350 pieces of natural rattan poles sitting on top of a polyurethane cushion inside a molded steel base the color of muted red, two lime green Yoda easy chair, which are actually rattan vines woven on a frame of mild steel in a design that uses natural material tension, and—oh joy—the so-called red dragnet, but this time a suspended type of chair where one can happily read away one’s favorite book, oblivious to the guests milling about. One is not surprised that these pieces of

furniture are by Kenneth Cobonpue, Cebu’s famous industrial designer and furniture maven whose international popularity is burnished further by an order placed by the husband-and-wife Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for a variation of his Voyage bed for their children (if you have the time, view the film Ocean’s 13, and you’ll also see a few pieces of unique, rattan weave furniture made by Cobonpue). The lobby easily crosses over to the dining area of the resort’s Rice Café where one can see at least two more of these Cobonpue Voyage models, this time customized into a dining couch instead of a bed. This idea of dining on a chair made by Cobonpue is enough to make one dreamy as one orders from the mostly Asian menu such as egg and chili roti, laksa and yes, the Cebuano grilled pork belly.

The resort's food and beverage outlets offer a delectable array of both local and international dishes



By Reinerio A. Alba • Photos by Fe Marcelino

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

Eye-catching pieces of furniture by Cebuano designer Kenneth Cobonpue as well as other interesting embellishments accent the resort

What adds to the charm is that the furniture blends well with the colors of the interiors, which are in lime green, light orange and yellow colors, making one feel outright that everything is sitting well with one’s idea of a dream vacation. The dining area opens up to the beach, and one might as well give in to the urge of rushing out at once towards the infinity pool then on to the beach area where more Cobonpue couches are lined up like small Star Trek-ky balcony chairs from which to view the amazing blue waters of Mactan. This lure of the beach becomes more pronounced as one sets foot in its white sand so that freshly-arrived guests automatically find themselves hanging out in the area, forgetting altogether that they still have their rooms to get into. The rooms are colored in the same calming ice-candy colors and provided with a flat-screen TVs with cable, and the latest sleep mate to date: chiropracticapproved mattresses. Rooms are locked by an electronic key card system, and one is assured by the hotel’s fully-automated fire Be Resort has a spa to ease away the stress

safety system. Baby cribs are even available when needed. For its suite rooms, there are even additional sofa beds, microwave ovens and bath tubs. Happily, too, one learns that children under twelve years old can stay for free in their parents’ room. “This is our way of acknowledging vacations really as a family bonding time, too,” explains Jennifer Baylon, marketing officer. The resort even has a barkada package for students out for a summer vacation with its quad-sharing overnight stay with breakfast offered from March 1 to 31, 2012. For those itching to share their photos on Facebook, the resort has wireless Internet access. Business men who need to keep in touch with their staff or finish up a proposal can have access to the hotel’s business center and come back again to lounge by the infinity pool to drink their favorite cocktails, which are available in the beach bar called Lime all day long. For the more adventurous, Be Resorts offers an array of aqua sports activities: banana boat ride, kayak ride, pedal boat

ride, jet ski and Waverunner. There is also the island-hopping tour, and yes, scuba diving. Cebu, after all, is a known haven for divers. One is not surprised, too, that, consistently, the resort’s play area is named Be Active. This is where the not-so-beachhungry guests can spend their time playing billiards, table hockey, football game and board games, while keeping their eyes on the children in the Kid’s Play Area. And where else to go to rid of all the lingering tiredness in one’s body than in the hotel’s spa? The spa is large enough to accommodate two guests, and one only needs to notify the desk person in advance to have one’s preferred schedule. For both the curious and guests who suddenly finds more waiting time in their hands until one’s flight out of Cebu, the resort is also open to day tours at Php500, which already includes use of facilities. Outside the resort, one can even safely flag down a tricycle plying Punta Engaño Road to visit the nearby Lapu-Lapu Shrine. The shrine commemorates the historic battle where Lapu-Lapu, the island king then, defeated and drove away the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. There, one finds the twenty-meter bronze statue standing proudly with its shield and bolo, seemingly shouting still the words “Let us be!” And with that, one finds oneself going back to the comforts of the Be Resorts, more determined than ever, to enjoy further one’s “being” as an uber vacationer.

Contact Information Be Resorts is at Punta Engano Road, Mactan, Cebu, with telephone number (+63 32) 236-8888, fax number (+63 32) 236-8808, email addresses and, and Web site Manila sales office is in Malate, Manila, with telephone number (+63 2) 559-9190. Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


Zuzuni is a boutique hotel in Boracay's Station 1 with four well-appointed rooms



uzuni is a Greek word which literally means an insect or a bug, or it could well be used as a term of endearment for lovers, but in Boracay, Zuzuni is associated with a superb Greek-Mediterranean food experience at the beachfront of Station 1 of the tropical island. Zuzuni provides both dining pleasure and an excellent hotel experience that is a stone’s throw away from the island’s hotspot. At one side are the hip party places, and at another are establishments such as Starbucks, ‘D Mall (Boracay’s shopping and commercial complex) and an dining hangouts. The four-room boutique hotel boasts of the island’s best Greek dishes such as horiatiki, a Greek summer salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, parsley and oregano, tossed in olive oil and red wine

Zuzuni fruits and muesli

Three Stops in

Boracay By Rene Sanchez Napeñas

Horiatiki salad



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

vinaigrette, and topped with feta cheese; chicken souvlaki, grilled skewered chicken and vegetables; and garides saganaki pasta, sautéed prawns in tomato pomodoro sauce with feta cheese and tossed with spaghetti pasta. Zuzuni also serves waffles and pancakes, omelets, soup, salad, sandwiches and a variety of the Filipino -silogs such as tosilog (tocino, sinangag, itlog), tapsilog (tapa, sinangag, itlog) and dangsilog (daing, sinangag, itlog). Zuzuni is a haven for both the firsttime Boracay tourist or the returning vacationer, offering convenient and classy accommodations and memorable dining experience.

treatment which starts with a yoga session, followed by an exfoliating Vichy shower body scrub treatment and a detoxifying body wrap. A dip in the Jacuzzi soothes the muscles in preparation for a relaxing 75 minutes massage. A facial treatment caps the holistic experience. After months of refurbishment, Spa Helios has ten treatment rooms, complete with Balinese inspired massage areas, outdoor private gardens with Jacuzzis, Vichy showers and rest rooms. After the two-and-a-half hours of pure spa bliss, one can say that while this spa experience comes with a price tag, it is worth it.

Helios Spa of Boracay Hills Hotel has all the luxurious amenities for a relaxing treatment and pampering

The Spa Helios of Boracay Hills Hotel


ould you pay US$120 for a spa? The answer is a resounding yes. Imagine this: fifteen minutes of foot spa, fifteen minutes of yoga, fifteen minutes of body scrub, thirty minutes of Jacuzzi bath, iced tea and tiramisu break, and best of all, an hour and fifteen minutes of massage. It all happens in a luxurious treatment room, away from Boracay’s hustle and bustle. A hidden gem in the island, the Spa Helios of Boracay Hills Hotel is a unique sanctuary for people who want rest and

relaxation. They can enjoy an exciting menu of spa treatments such as the hot stone massage using lava stones and copper stones that align the chi flow of the body; the hilot traditional Filipino massage; and the Helios signature massage, which is designed for people who love a very relaxing massage and at the same time focuses on trigger points in the body using a combination of Swedish and shiatsu massages. Another signature treatment is the Helios Sports Package, a two-and-ahalf hours of nurturing and stimulating Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


The Palms of Boracay provides a warm Filipino welcome to its guests on the north end of White Beach

The Palms of Boracay


y first time in Boracay five years ago was during a rainy season. It was off-peak, and people were not so many. Several years later and after many trips to the island, I was surprised to see the influx of tourists, especially Koreans who come in large groups. Not to be outdone in numbers are the Europeans and the locals. Boracay is simply a paradise. For others, it is a place for total relaxation. When in Boracay, a very good choice of accommodation is The Palms of Boracay. Located at the northern end of the beach, resort sports design inspirations from Mindanao. From its ornaments to its interiors, the grandeur of Mindanaoan culture is showcased in this architectural wonder by Therese Yupangco, one of the country’s leading architects. This is matched by the resort’s commitment to hospitality and warm service to its guests. Guests can truly savor the peace and quiet of the place. The hotel is designed to be an abode for those looking for a tranquil time with their families and friends. The choice of rooms includes two- and threebedroom, studio and executive suites. The rooms are complete with all the amenities one needs for a truly comfortable stay. The twoand three-bedroom apartments are a wealth of space with their 72 and 115 square meters, with native décor and artifacts. They are equipped with kitchenettes, dining areas, living areas, walk-in closets, bathtubs, and many other



features. Meanwhile, the studio apartment is a 43-square meter room with a king-size bed and a fully-equipped kitchenette. The executive suite is a combination of two additional bedrooms, lounge areas and kitchenette, perfect for the whole family. But more than the luxury, it is the service and hospitality of the staff that make anyone’s stay in The Palms of Boracay a truly memorable one.

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Getting There Boracay Island is at the northwest tip of Panay Island. There are several flights from Manila to Caticlan, a barangay in Malay, Aklan. From Caticlan, there is a short boat ride to Boracay. Flights can be as fast as 36 minutes. Some planes land in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan. From there, there is a two-hour ride to Caticlan. From Iloilo City, Boracay can be reached by bus or van with travel time of four to five hours. Grand Vista Boracay Resort and Spa is located at Hagdan Yapak, Station 1, Boracay Island.

Contact Information Zuzuni Boutique Hotel and Restaurant is located at Boat Station 1, White Beach, Boracay Island. For reservations or inquiries, call mobile numbers +63 908 862-0031 and +63 908 893-9841 or telephone number (+63 36) 288-4477. Visit its Web site, www. The Spa Helios at Boracay Hills Hotel is at Bantud, Manoc Manoc, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines, with telephone number (+63 36) 2883315, fax number (+63 36) 2883764 and email mail@boracayhills. com. The Palms of Boracay is at Station 1 with telephone numbers (+63 36) 2884762 and (+63 36) 288-1361, and email addresses, and frontofhousemanager@thepalmsofboracay. com. Visit Web site www.thepalmsboracay. com.


unday morning at the Sunset at Aninuan Beach Resort blossoms with a provincial air—quiet, bucolic, carefree. From the window, one sees a staff member sweeping the front yard, the beachfront actually. Another places peach-colored hibiscus flowers on the tables. Two hammocks tied to dwarf coconut trees gently sway with the breeze. One by one, umbrellas are opened among the tables and lounge chairs, bright orange like giant exotic flowers. The sea is sapphire and gentle, kissing the shore with auburn sand. One goes out of the room and walks the sandy path, pass the lush bougainvillea, to have breakfast by the shore. The fried eggs, ham, wholewheat toast, jam, butter and steaming coffee all taste fantastic—the best breakfast outdoor with hibiscus quiet on the table, umbrella filtering the sunlight, sand beneath the feet, sea breeze tickling the bougainvillea,

the waves almost making whispering sounds. Later, one has a glimpse of the vacationers and excursionists, mostly from nearby White Beach, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, riding the banana boat and para-sailing. One can join them as the resort offers these activities, or enjoy the quiet morning longer, lounging on a beach chair or hammock with a book or watching the vacationers get dislodged from the banana boat. Sunset at Aninuan Beach Resort is one of the best places to stay in the popular resort town of Puerto Galera, a favorite quick getaway of Metro Manilans being a short car and boat ride away and a popular diving site. One proof is a certificate of excellence, which hangs at the bar, awarded by TripAdvisor, a Web site where people rate accommodations, in 2010. The resort garnered a 4.5 rating out of 5.

Aninuan Anytime By Roel Hoang Manipon • Photos by Fe Mercelino

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


One can dine al fresco or lounge around with cocktails at the resorts’ beachfront

of White Beach, separated by rock outcrops and boulders, is Aninuan Beach. The area is mostly owned by the Ayalas, a prominent Spanish-Filipino family and has only two resorts—Tamaraw Beach Resort and Sunset at Aninuan. “I’m so lucky to have this kind of place,” says Lucila “Lexy” Niederer, who owns and manages Sunset at Aninuan, assisted by her nephew Lez Paul Funtanilla. “Because we are like in a secluded, semi-private island.” “I never dreamed of owning and managing a resort before but I have some friends who own resorts and hotels,” she confesses. “It used to be a very small resort with just two huts, very limited water and electricity.” She bought the property and started to rebuild it. “That I have zero experience working in a resort didn’t really make my life easy. That I want everything to be perfect made it worse. It’s really hard to get everything that you wanted. Most of the things are not

One important factor is its location—a beach area that affords one privacy and quietude but not too far from the happening area when one feels the itch to socialize or party. Most of guests commend it for its tranquility. In Puerto Galera, people and structures seem to concentrate in Sabang and White Beach in the barangay of San Isidro. Many divers and foreigners stay in Sabang, while locals stay at White Beach with its long stretch of shore. The density of houses, accommodations, bars, restaurants and stores along White Beach is staggering. The night life here is also bustling, especially during holidays and weekends. To the west 66 |

Sunset at Aninuan’s bar, a grass-roofed hut by the beach

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

available,” she relates. But her love for the place might have spurred her to go in building a beautiful place to stay for herself as well as for visitors. “I’m a dive master, and I dove quite a lot in Puerto Galera,” Niederer says. “I visited more than sixty countries but Puerto Galera is so different that it has a very special place in my heart. I keep on going back here. I just feel good being in this town.” After six years, Niederer managed to develop one of best resorts in town. Many accommodations here, especially in the White Beach area, can be spartan or inadequate, but Sunset at Aninuan is different—decent and charming. The buildings are all painted clean white accented by grillwork and ironworks in black paint and with deep-orange sun motif—tasteful structures to compliment the beautiful surroundings. The original structure, with its sawali exterior, is kept, housing some rooms and the restaurant. Beside it is a newer building. Both have 17 rooms. The newest buildings, with 16 more rooms, stand by the swimming pool. The rooms are in several types—standard, standard family, deluxe, junior, superior, junior suite and superior suite—with deriguere amenities. The restaurant, which merges with a recreation area, has a floor made of bamboo slats and marble, and serves delectable dishes, snacks and drinks—Filipino favorites such as sinigang, adobo, afritada, gambas and pancit; sandwiches and burgers; sausages; chicken and beef pies; salads; pasta,

Unlike most resorts in Puerto Galera, Sunset at Aninuan offers well-appointed suites

including their very own Pasta Aninuan (penne with bell pepper, tomato, onion and fish or chicken); pork dishes such as steak Marengo, pepper steak and schnitzel; beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes; and dessert. Outside, a grass-roofed round hut serves as the bar. The beachfront can also serve as a dining area if one prefers it alfresco. “Most of our clientele are families and honeymooners from all over the world,” Niederer reveals. “Most of them come from Europe and Australia. We had a few weddings also here, which is my most favorite job. Preparing and organizing for them makes me feel so great.” For activities, Sunset at Aninuan can arrange for many water recreations. Divers can go to the dive center, managed by its concessionaire AB Wonderdive. Then, there are several attractions of the town one can visit and experience. “Puerto Galera has so many things to offer. Aside from the world-class diving that we have and our own house reef, we also have two beautiful waterfalls within one hour of hiking and a Mangyan village. We also have this golf course, which is 800 meters above sea level with a breathtaking view of the island. People are so great with

their beautiful smiles and their honesty!” Niederer emphasizes. Of course, just staying and being cocooned in the resort can be the main activity, “sleeping and waking up with the sound of the sea,” Niederer adds. The sunset is spectacular here, and the name of the resort is an ode to that. “The sunset is different every day,” she sighs. “You don’t get tired watching it with a sunset drink in your hand. The quietness of the place makes our guests keep on coming back, and also the service that we offer.” Despite the difficulties she went through developing the resort, Niederer finds fulfilment in running Sunset at Aninuan.

“My grand vision for Sunset at Aninuan is to keep my clientele so I can help improve the image of Puerto Galera. I want to create a very special, friendly atmosphere that guests will always remember, and maybe this will put us on the map,” she says. She continues: “I love most of the guests that I’m having! So nice and interesting people. I even have a lot of friends now, which were guests of mine before. I want to see their beautiful smiles every time they come back! It makes me feel proud if they keep on coming back and multiplying, bringing in their friends and families. And I welcome them with open arms again and again and again.

Getting There To go to Puerto Galera, there is a one-and-half to two-hour bus or car trip from Manila to Batangas using Southern Luzon Expressway and Star Toll. From the Batangas Port, one can ride a ferry for one to two hours to the resort town. Sikat Ferry offers air-conditioned bus and connecting boat (Manila-Batangas-Puerto Galera). Bus leaves Manila at 8 A.M. at the CityState Tower Hotel, 1314 A. Mabini Street, Ermita. Reservation can be made at (+63 2) 521-3344. Buses ply the Manila-Batangas (Pier) route regularly. There are stations in Buendia Avenue, Plaza Lawton, Kamuning, Cubao and Pasay City-EDSA. At the Batangas Pier, there are ferries and outrigger boats going to Puerto Galera. They usually leave Batangas Pier every thirty minutes or hour. Boats arrive in Puerto Galera in different points—Sabang, Muelle, White Beach, Minolo and Balatero Port (ro-ro). If you bring your own vehicle, the regular roll on-roll off (ro-ro) ferry direct to Puerto Galera is the Montenegro Shipping Line at Terminal 3, leaving Batangas Pier at noon and departs Puerto Galera (Balatero Port) at 5:30 P.M. daily. The ferry can hold only six to ten vehicles. The other option to reach Puerto Galera from Batangas is going to Calapan City. Its distance from Puerto Galera is about 51 kilometers, and it takes about one-hour drive. Environmental Users’ Fee (EUF) for tourists is Php50 each. Main collection site is at Batangas Port beside the shipping lines’ ticket booths.

Contact Information Contact Sunset at Aninuan Beach Resort through mobile numbers +63920-9318924 and +639209318946, and e-mail address Visit Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |




ny Manila-based visitor walking the streets of Cebu City will inevitably feel an outright familiarity with the place as if one has just wandered off into an unexplored part of Manila. This is especially true around Fuente Osmeña Circle, the landmark Cebu City rotunda that has a park and, yes, the famous fountain at its center named after Sergio Osmeña, the country’s fourth president and patriarch of one of Cebu’s most prominent political families. The fountain, more significantly, marks the inauguration of the city’s water system on Feb. 17, 1912. And to highlight the 100th year of this landmark fountain and the Buhisan Dam, the city government under mayor Michael Rama has even announced in February 2012 of its allotment of Php13 million to restore and beautify this historical rotunda park. This beautification project, which is set to start this 2012, is one good reason for regular visitors to the Queen City of the South to keep as close to the rotunda when staying in the city, affording them the experience of witnessing the improvements on the rotunda park each time one visits. It is around this rotunda that a number of food establishments are concentrated and where General Maxilom Avenue (formerly Mango Avenue), Osmeña Boulevard and B. Rodriguez Street intersect. In the early hours of the morning, local residents jog around the park, and other such physical exercises. In the evening, the rotunda turns romantic with lovers in benches enjoying the scenery. It is also a regular venue for concerts, cultural shows or even political ones. From the rotunda, one can also just as easily cross over walking to the nearby Robinson’s Place Cebu to shop at one’s convenience. To have this shopping experience in a four-level mall and to be resting in the comfort of one’s room the next with a single push of the button of a nearby elevator is just one of the conveniences being offered by the newly-refurbished Summit Circle Hotel. Situated atop Robinson’s Place Cebu, the Summit Circle Hotel, formerly known as Cebu Midtown Hotel, has been servicing guests since the 1990s. This property of Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC), reached within 40 minutes from Mactan International Airport has undergone a 68


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A Room in the

Summit By Reinerio A. Alba Photos by Fe Marcelino

makeover, equipping its 210 rooms with modern amenities such as cable TV and Wi-Fi. The hotel’s different room types include the double, deluxe king, deluxe twin and junior suites. “Although the structures are still the same, the obvious improvement in the interiors particularly the modern contemporary finishes in the guest rooms allows guests to be ‘at home’ in a more welcomed and relaxed manner,” explains resident manager Mirro Reperuga. “In terms of amenities, we are proud to mention that together with the recent makeover comes modern amenities like cable TV and free Wi-Fi, hypoallergenic and chiropractic pillows, rain shower vis-a-vis handheld shower to give our business travelers a well-deserved shower experience, just to name a few,” continues Reperuga. And why the re-branding? “With Robinsons Land Corporation’s huge portfolio of successful projects and continuous property developments, it was simply a matter of time for RLC to set its sights on developing its own brand of hotels that deliver world-class accommodations and service. Therefore, with the inception of Summit Hotels Group and Summit Ridge in Tagaytay City as first of its sub-brands, Cebu Midtown rebranding to Summit Circle Cebu was simply next in line.” Reperuga admits also to the advantage of being right on top of the Robinson Place Cebu in that they are able to direct their guests to the mall not only for their shopping needs but also for their travel requirements as the mall also houses a travel agent. “But our certified selling point has to do with our strategic location and the legacy of great service the hotel inherited from its former self, the Cebu Midtown hotel.” As a full-service, midscale hotel, Summit Circle Cebu currently has about 100 employees along with its outsourced security services and agency-contracted staff catering to a good mix of business travelers and leisure guests. The hotel offers competitive rates at

Php1,500 net price for its deluxe room, and prices ranging from Php7,000 to Php8,000 for suite accommodations. Guests who reserve early save more through the hotel’s “book early, pay less” reservation scheme via its online booking system. “January is always a peak month for the hotel because of the Sinulog Festival. We also have great beaches such as the ones in Bantayan and Malapascua, which attract visitors during the summer season.” The hotel is not offering packaged tours at the moment but the interesting and known landmarks in the area are always a jeepney, a tricycle, or a cab ride away: Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore de Santo Niño, Fort San Pedro, Taoist Temple, Casa Gorordo Museum, Alta Vista Golf and Country Club, Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary. For lunch, one can as easily satisfy one’s craving for the signature Cebu lechon by literally just walking to the nearby Zubochon branch along Gen. Maxilom Avenue, which is a popular nightlife area in the city. And one’s adventure in Cebu City is never complete without a visit to the taboan dried fish market for good bargains of Cebu’s famous dried danggit (rabbit fish) and other salted fishes as espada (belt fish) and anchovies. Reperuga is fully aware that Cebu, as the second largest city of the country with continuously expanding hub of commercial activity, is a sure destination for business travelers, but he makes it clear that the hotel is more than ready to service all guests who are in Cebu City for a number of other reasons. “I always go back to our value proposition, which is to provide our guests quality in-city accommodation through efficient, warm and friendly service, which to me is an important currency for guest satisfaction at a competitive price.”

Contact Information The Summit Circle Hotel is located at Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City, with telephone number (+63 32) 239-3000, email addresses reservations@ and, and Web site Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


A Taste of Venice

at the Heart of Quezon City Milano Executive Suite

Ventosa treatment at the hotel’s spa

Genova Suite


imog Avenue has always been known as the dynamic part of Quezon City. A treasure trove of gustatory delights, from pedestrian carinderia to the elegant cafes and restaurants that line the length of the avenue, the strip throbs with the beat of music from discothèques and comedy bars at night. Amidst the activity, Torre Venezia Suites stands at the corner of Timog and Scout Santiago avenues, an imposing presence with distinctly Italian-style architecture which makes it a landmark in the area. Originally developed as a residential condotel, it has now evolved into a fully-functional hotel. Torre Venezia was managed by Quantum Hotels for a year and a half before Torre Venezia Suites, Inc. (TVSI) came in August 2010. Under a new and creative management, led by Katherine San Vicente, one of the directors of TVSI, the 27-storey hotel is undergoing a major facelift to cater to the growing needs of guests and long-time residents. After the adding a gym and a spa, what they found lacking is a 24-hour restaurant and bigger functions rooms for corporate clients. They also thought of redesigning the rooms on the fifth to the seventh floors to reflect the Italian feel of the hotel. “Torre Venezia Suites has become a popular venue for weddings, 70


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Verona Room

Venezia Suite

By Gesel Pereyra • Photos by Donald Tapan so with the addition of functions and an in-house food and beverage staff, we will be able to provide a package that will give our guests everything they need—from bridal rooms, reception area to catering. The goal is to corner the market along Timog by modernizing the hotel and providing the best for our guests,” said San Vicente, who took me on a tour of the elegant rooms. The eighty-one rooms on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors have been remodeled in time for the holiday season, said San Vicente as we walked past the hallway of the fifth floor, our footsteps muted by the rich carpeting. An interior designer, San Vicente said it was a challenge to come up with rooms that will look elegant and expensive yet work within the budget. Furnishings and accents, such a lamp with cube glass base, were all custom-made in Pampanga. The heavy silk brocaded curtains are from Belgium. To save on cost in duplicating the design for the other rooms, she had a swatch brought to China to be copied. Other details like a fleur de lis-printed wall in the bathrooms, velvet high back chairs and ceiling-to-floor mirrors in the Napoli Room are a definite nod to the Neapolitan. The result is stylish and elegant, modern yet with the right hint of Italian design flair, inspired by the most romantic city in

the south of Italy, Venice. Their most expensive room, the Venezia Premier Suite, is perfect for honeymooners or couples on vacation. It comes with its king-size bed and thirty-two-inch flat screen TV, plush sofas and high-back chairs in earth tones. The Milano Executive Suite, the bridal room, has the same configuration as that of the Venezia Suite but with an open-type plan. Panoramic windows let the light in, making the room look twice as big. “There is plenty of floor space to set up a bridal boudoir, and people can move around freely, which is very important when attending to the bride,” said San Vicente. She then led me to Verona Room, which, she admitted, is her favorite. They have corporate clients who prefer the Verona over all the other rooms because it has plenty of space and furniture. It can comfortably fit in four to five persons and has with its twin double beds, loungers and chairs situated in each nook of the spacious room and a TV on a 360-degree swivel deck. “Torre Venezia Suites has fully furnished rooms in the upper floor, and we have twenty-five rooms at the moment. We call them the Appartamento—superior or studio units, double deluxe and lofts, which are two-bedroom suites. The suites extend to balconies while the kitchens are ready with refrigerators and microwave ovens. Some of our unit owners offer their units for rent through our onsite administration office, and we design their unit according to specs, so it provides a perfect investment opportunity,” she said. On the eighth floor is the swimming pool and garden deck with gazebo. An open area leads indoors to what will become a fullservice restaurant, set to open in January 2012. Guests will have the option to dine al fresco, or indoors in a small function room that can sit twelve to fifteen persons. Right now, the hotel has two function rooms with 250-person capacity, equipped with the latest audiovideo technology, but there will be two more functions rooms on the second floor. One can accommodate nine to ten persons while the other forty to fifty guests. “The management of TVSI is very positive about the many changes in the hotel. Expect more exciting offers and special promotions in the coming months as we keep in step with the growing needs of our guests,” shared San Vicente. All things considered, Torre Venezia Suites is a complete package, offering guests all the amenities they need to enjoy their stay in luxurious surroundings that feel homey and intimate at the same time, right at the heart of a vibrant city. The spacious lobby

Torre Venezia Suites has become a landmark along Timog Avenue for its Italian-style architecture

Contact Information Torre Venezia is located at 170 Timog Avenue corner Scout Santiago Street, Quezon City, Metro Manila. For more information, call (+63 2) 332-1658 to 60, fax (+63 2) 332-1621 or email sales@torreveneziasuites. com. Their Web site is The swimming pool and garden deck

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


Experience Luxury at

Hotel Veronica By Maria Teresa C. Dumana Photos by Teddy Pelaez


apiz has always been associated with aswangs, mythical creatures who roam the night and prey on humans, and mangkukulams, witches that inflict harm on others. But those were old wives’ tales from long ago, and the Capiz of this day is a progressive province, ready to show tourists what they’ve got—loads of fresh seafood, beaches and most of all affordable hotels boasting of world-class service and luxurious amenities.

Beginning and Progress

One might think that Roxas City is small but the owner of Hotel Veronica, Hyacinth Viterbo, knows better than be limited by this thought. Like seers predicting the future, they sensed the progress of Roxas City. According to the hotel’s interior designer, Lucille Manuel, “Soon this city is going to be bigger, not only in terms of population, but also in terms of development as the hotel stands on Pueblo de Panay Township, a commercial district of 200 hectares. Roxas City will soon be Panay’s most progressive city, and Hotel Veronica is ready for it!” One of the challenges is how to get ready for this progress. For Hotel Veronica, they have the solution—be different. Tapping Ma. Lucille Manuel’s designprowess, they decided to play around with the concept and design of the hotel. However, they stuck to one concept alone, and that is to give only the best design concept which the people of Roxas City can truly be proud of.

Luxury Away from Home

Situated in Pueblo de Panay, about five-minute ride away from the town proper, Hotel Veronica’s other challenge is how to deal with the numerous hotels, which are right smack in the center of the city. Manuel says that their clientele consists of “domestic and international tourist and some very important people who come to Roxas City either for business or pleasure.” So instead of giving the usual hotel amenities, the management fearlessly faced the competition by giving them what these guests crave for the most—comfort and luxury that need not be expensive. At the moment, the hotel has ten beautifully designed and modernized rooms, each having a flat-screen, cable-ready TV; 72


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individually controlled air-conditioning; rain showers with hot and cold water; and Wi-Fi connection so guests need not have to go out of their rooms and to the lobby to check their e-mails or get in touch with their loved ones. Manuel and her team made sure that guests not only enjoy modern amenities, but unique design concepts as well. For example, their Athena Presidential Suite boasts of a classic French contemporary design, with a king-size bed, a chandelier in the middle of the room and plush bedroom seating. Couples will surely love their stay in this luxurious room. Families and even barkadas vacationing in Roxas City can also have a good share of the luxury and comfort. Two rooms, named Tiziana and Lean, which a family or barkada of four can comfortably enjoy, has a Country English design and each have one queen-size and one single beds.

Facing the Future

Lastly, the seven deluxe rooms have a contemporary design with four rooms having two single beds and three rooms queen-size beds. Travelers who are in Roxas City for business or just to see the sights can surely enjoy the most out of these rooms. Of course, guests also want the best food in town that they could have their hands on. Hotel Veronica offers delicious food fare both local and foreign guests can enjoy over at Festa Restaurant, Ramboy’s Restaurant and Café Pueblo. Breaking it down for us, Manuel describes each of the restaurants and the coffee shop. “For fine dining we have Festa Restaurant, which serves the best Continental and Spanish-Filipino dishes. Ramboy’s Restaurant serves the best liempo, as well as some favorite Filipino dishes. For coffee addicts, Cafe Pueblo serves only the best gourmet coffee in town. Our guests and costumers can also experience the 250-square-meter, Spanish-Filipino-inspired, al-fresco court , where they can dine and relax under the sun or under the starry night and enjoy the full moon and the fresh air. It’s a good chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” she shares. Other amenities Hotel Veronica offers to their valued guests include airport transfers, laundry, massage and room services. For private functions, gatherings and events, they also have a function room that is good for forty people and the soon-to-open Circulo Galante Pavillion, which can accommodate 450 people.

Asked to invite people to come stay at Hotel Veronica, Manuel has this to say: “We sincerely wish to make your stay in Roxas City the most pleasant one providing you with nothing but the best kind of luxury away from home at the most reasonable rates we can offer. We only want our guests to have a sense of pride in chosing Hotel Veronica while they’re in town. Hotel Veronica was built for you, so please come and stay with us.”

Certainly one of Roxas City’s pride, Hotel Veronica is more than ready to face the future. For example, Manuel shares, a Robinsons mall is about to begin construction, and Hotel Veronica is right in front of it. She says that in the years to come their guests will feel the convenience of being close to this mall. Of course, since Pueblo de Panay is currently in the works, Hotel Veronica will also play a vital role in the commercial district. Their guests will be among the first to make the most out of the amenities once it is done. As for the hotel itself, Manuel says that they also have plans for expansion. Manuel reveals that after a year they will be building additional rooms to cater to the demand once Pueblo de Panay and Robinsons Mall are finally completed. She also says that the interiors and their service will also be improved to keep their guests happy and to generate loyalty.

Getting There Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines travel daily from Manila to Roxas City. Travel time to Roxas City 45 minutes. Ships also go to Roxas City with about 16 hours travel time from Manila. From Iloilo City, it is approximately two hours by bus or private car. There is one passenger ship operating in Culasi Port, Roxas City, Moreta Shipping Lines’ M/V Love 1 which embarks for Capiz twice a week. There are also ferryboats that travel from Romblon and Masbate and also roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) buses. Hotel Veronica is at Pueblo De Panay, Lawaan, Roxas City, Capiz.

Contact Information Hotel Veronica can be contacted through telephone numbers (+63 36) 621-0919 and (+63 36) 621-6658, mobile number +63917-3272832 and e-mail address Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


N Hotel Newfound Pleasure and Comfort at Cagayan de Oro’s Gem of a Hotel By Raymund Magno Garlítos Photos by Teddy Pelaez


first-time traveler to Mindanao’s City of Golden Friendship may find it easy to locate a hotel to settle in after a tiring flight and impatient commute, given the many establishments within the downtown part of the city. But those with a trained eye for comfort and leisure will find Cagayan de Oro’s N Hotel a great find, like a nugget of gold shining along the banks of Rio Grande de Cagayan. Upon arriving at the hotel, one cannot help but be mesmerized at the fierce glow of lights that welcome the visitor on the driveway, and the spacious lobby area already makes you think of infinite possibilities in store the moment you check in. Ami C. Saniel, the hotel’s sales manager who also doubles as public relations officer, immediately welcomed us as we soothed our tired backs on the lobby’s sofa with its inviting softness and plush pillows. As soon as we recovered from our rest, I noticed the amused look on her face as we eyed the hotel from top to bottom, with that persistent question of how this hotel seemed to exude five-star ambience. “Many of our visitors think that N Hotel

is part of an international chain of hotels and resorts. They even thought the hotel is a franchise from abroad. We keep telling them that this is a family-owned business,” she explained. The family that owns and runs the place based it on their own experiences when traveling abroad, getting ideas and inspiration from the best accommodations that they have encountered from Europe to Asia to America. The owners prefer to keep a low profile, but Saniel gave us a backgrounder on the name: “It stands for the first letters of the owners’ five children.”

Sanctuaries of Satisfaction

Saniel proceeded to give us a quick tour of the hotel’s 65 accommodations, which almost have the amenities of a five-star accommodation. N Hotel has 25 superior, 34 deluxe rooms, three junior suites and three family rooms, all designed to offer the visitor a taste of first-class relaxation at reasonable prices. Deluxe rooms and junior suites also have a pristine view of the hotel swimming pool through private balconies, where one can soak in the warm sunshine during daytime or savor the cool breeze at night time. Each room boasts of air-conditioning, tastefully done interiors, a mini bar, a safe and a vanity desk. She brought us first to our rooms so we could retire our bags and stretch our backs a bit. No sooner my companion photographer, who was amazed by the chic furnishings of the deluxe room where we were billeted, started shooting photos, from one corner to another. I checked the lined bedding and the soft bedroom pillows (which seemed to be filled with the down of so many birds), and I almost wanted to retire for a few minutes, even hours, watching the cable-ready flat-screen television or surfing on my laptop with the

high-speed wired Internet or simply surrendering to the invitation of the pillows. It got better as we followed Saniel to the junior suite. We were astounded by the fabulous delights offered: a spacious anteroom with its own flat-screen TV facing a sofa and two rotund cocoon chairs that resembled birds’ nests; two standing lamps with a painting hanging in between them and overseeing the sofa; and a large panel mirror imposed on top of a granite display table with an ochre vase facing a dining table and chairs. The bedroom is nonetheless as elegant with a king bed topped by several fluffy pillows (it seemed that the hotel put a high premium on plush cushions) with elegant covers. Meanwhile, the bathroom is doubly astonishing. Never have I seen a bathroom lined in black marble or stone, completed by a shower stall and a bathtub. This room is a perfect getaway for small families to spend quality time together or for groups who want the most memorable vacation or business trip. We then walked towards one of the three family rooms, which were so large enough to house a large group of eleven, fifteen and eighteen members. The beds were lined up, with a bench at the foot of each bed (one can stack his luggage or travel bag underneath the bench). The toilet and bathroom has two shower stalls and two toilets, so there would be no problems of sharing with somebody. The family rooms also have a cable-ready LCD TV and refrigerators. These accommodations are perfect for traveling extended families or large groups of vacationing tourists or business delegations. The superior and deluxe rooms, junior suites, and family rooms all come with a complimentary breakfast either at the hotel’s Bon Café or brought via room service. Extra bed for additional people can also be requested, which also comes with a complimentary Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


breakfast. Charges apply for these additional accommodations. All accommodations, including family rooms, have free access to the pool and the gym.

Venues for Special Occasions and Events

N Hotel’s function spaces are perfect for any business or social events. One can choose from any of the function spaces—The Heliconia, The Anthurium, The Cattleya and The Lambago Hall. The hotel’s accommodating reservation staff can make recommendations for any function to make them successful, with a particular attention to the finer details already taken care of.

Infinitesimal Highlights

Aside from the hotel rooms and the function venues, N Hotel hosts other amenities, be it for business or for pleasure. The Fitness Gym at the third level is a fully equipped health club, where one can enjoy the professional gym equipment. One can have an early morning exercise on the treadmill or have a cardio workout, and they also have a gym instructor who is always on hand to assist health buffs. N Hotel’s swimming pool is at the foreground of a simple but landscaped courtyard. All guests of the hotel have unlimited access to the pool from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. Non-staying guests may also have access to the pool by paying a fixed amount at the reception. The business center provides business travelers the resources and logistical support they need while on business, with a hotel staff on duty to facilitate services promptly and securely, such as photocopy service, word processing, use of computers and Internet access, and facsimile transmission. N Hotel also provides laundry/pressing/dry cleansing services, car/van rentals, and airport/seaport pickup and transfer services. Broadband Internet access is available in every room for a minimal fee, while wireless fidelity (WiFi) access is free in function rooms and the lobby.

Gustatory Delights

The hotel’s sole dining establishment, Bon Café, offers delicious Western and Filipino cuisines. Although Saniel confessed that their menu is a work in progress (the hotel having started only a year



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

ago), we dismissed her humble disclaimer the moment we saw the dishes that many of the hotel guests and even curious diners have particularly noted and liked. The servings were large and good for two to three people. We were served mango bangus salad, bangus fritters on a bed of crisp lettuce with mango slices, drizzled with mango-olive oil puree. They were absolutely to-die-for. The crispness of the batter-coated milkfish strips (I am usually wary of eating bangus because of the fine but potentially painful fish bones) were complimented by the fruity zest of the mango dip and the crunch of the green lettuce. Another welcome treat was the sinuglaw, a popular dish in Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao. Its name is a portmanteau of two known cooking methods in Visayas and Mindanao—the sinugba (roast over a hot grill) and kinilaw (cook by soaking in vinegar). The sinugbang pork belly combined with the kinilaw na tangigue is a marriage of flavors, the smoky tang of the pork made exquisite by the tartness of the tangigue, slightly tamed only by slightly tamed by organic vinegar and tabon-tabon, and mixed with slices of cucumber. There is also that occasional kick from the chilli which makes the dish truly sumptuous. The satisfying dinner was capped with a delightful conversation with Saniel. A stay at the N Hotel while at Cagayan de Oro remains to be a spectacular experience with its ever-gracious staff lead by Saniel, who, as a storyteller, gave us fabulous memories to bring home as we leave Cagayan de Oro, the city rising anew from the deluge.

Getting There There are daily flights to Cagayan de Oro from Manila through Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines. N Hotel is on 900 Kauswagan Highway, Cagayan de Oro City.

Contact Information Contact N Hotel through telephone numbers (+ 63 88) 880-1924 to 25, (+63 88) 858-2200 or (+63 88) 227-38596, mobile number (+ 63 922) 801-8691, fax number (+ 63 88) 880-1926, e-mail address sales@ and Web site Sales department can be contacted through telephone number (+63 88) 227-37983 and mobile numbers (+ 63 922) 848-0260 and (+ 63 917) 796-5211.


The Horizon Residences at Sto. Tomas, Batangas

Pueblo de Oro Offers Rustic yet Modern Lifestyle for Batangueños


he much-renowned kapeng barako, balisong, majestic view of Mount Makiling, the fresh air and its overall rustic charm have endeared and attracted local and foreign tourists alike to Batangas, a province south of Luzon. Its towns and cities have evolved, developing to become hubs of economic activity with increasing opportunities for employment. More and more people are La Aldea del Monte now looking at Batangas as their new home. Santo Tomas, for instance, is now a bustling first-class city, especially with the newly completed connection of the South Luzon Expressway to the Southern Tagalog Arterial road (STAR). Recognizing the need for developments that will address the growing housing need in the area, Pueblo de Oro Development Corporation Park Place (PODC) has embarked on For Php2 to Php3 million, one can already own building subdivisions in Sto. Tomas through its a house and lot at The Horizon Residences. For Pueblo de Oro Batangas Communities brand. as low as Php1.3 million, one can “park” his PODC is steadily growing as a nationwide cares away and move to Park Place. The newlydeveloper of residential subdivisions, with nine designed La Aldea Townhouse is available for only projects in key cities and provinces across the Php866,000 for an inner unit and Php988,000 country. In Sto. Tomas, Batangas, it has three key for an end unit. projects, namely, The Horizon Residences, which The premium neighborhood of Pueblo are single-attached Zen-inspired houses; Park de Oro Batangas Communities boasts of very Place’s Twin Homes, which are contemporary accessible location. Coming from Manila, Makati Asian in style; and the new La Aldea Townhouse or Alabang, the Sto.Tomas exit of the SLEX design. All three subdivisions have the leads you straight into the entrance of Pueblo de magnificent Mount Makiling as their background.

Oro Batangas Communities, a mere hour ride or less. Those coming from Lucena, San Pablo and Alaminos from the south also have easy access to the site through the National Highway. Travelers from Mindoro, Batangas, Lipa and nearby towns enjoy a faster route through the newly connected STAR. Modern conveniences like The Lyceum of the Philippines Laguna, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, La Consolacion, Sto. Tomas Public Market, Walter Mart are just minutes away from the Pueblo de Oro Batangas Communities. Built on 26 hectares of gently rolling terrain, this breathtaking enclave offers over 2,141 residential lots , with sizes ranging from 40 to 130 square meters. Land development has already started. The first batch of houses is scheduled for turnover by July 2012. According to Pueblo de Oro president Rommel Leuterio, all of Pueblo de Oro’s subdivisions have open spaces, landscaped gardens, winding jogging paths, giving residents bigger room to move about. This family-friendly enclave will also feature various amenities, including a clubhouse, gazebos, activity lawns, parks and play areas, and exclusive to The Horizon Residences homeowners is a basketball court and swimming pool. For more information visit our website:

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |



Ciao Italia owner Alberto Gomaraschi with wife Erma Nierva

Flavors of Tanigue with mushroom and white wine sauce with potatoes


Home-made pasta with seafood and pesto

in the Troics By Niña Elyca J. Rabadam Photos by Donald Tapan

T Prawns in garlic butter sauce

he over-all impression that Ciao Italia leaves is simplicity. It lets you experience Italy’s savory dishes with a laidback, tropical background. It is stripped to the bone—a feature that sets it apart from the usual Italian restaurants with their cozy Mediterranean-inspired structures. Ciao Italia stands unpretentiously on an elevated location at the west end shore of White Beach. It is a 45-seater tropical wineand-dine restaurant with a balcony-like structure, a roof and wall panels made of sawali found in traditional Filipino houses. It faces the Batangas Strait, affording one a magnificent view of its blue-green waters and a commanding view of Puerto Galera Bay. As the day ends, the restaurant becomes a perfect spot to watch the sunset. When it comes to food, it serves the best of what Italy has to offer. Alberto Gomaraschi, an Italian restaurateur who now owns Ciao Italia, prepared an almost complete Italian meal during this writer’s visit. The table was laden with dishes that a small group cannot finish. When Gomaraschi mentioned the food that he would be preparing, this writer almost

A sumptuous Italian spread

insisted “not to prepare too much.” However, it took some research to realize that the dishes weren’t merely prepared to impress the team; he was simply preparing a typical or traditional Italian meal. It consists of an aperitivo or appetizer, an antipasto, or a slightly heavier course; primo or the first course that is usually made up of fish like or non-meat foods (such as pasta); the secondo, or second course, which is the heartiest and main course of an Italian meal; a contorno which is served with the secondo as a side plate that usually consists of vegetables.; a dolce, the dessert; a frutta con frutta secca or formaggio; and some liquor called as a digestivo or liquor, or ammazzacaffe (liquor that is served after coffee) For an “almost” complete meal, Gomaraschi first prepared a yummy serving of gamberri al burro e aglio (prawns in garlic butter sauce) which served as our antipasto. Then, a primo of stracci di pasta ai frutti di mare e pesto di basilico (home made pasta in seafood and pesto with basil) was served. Next, we were served a secondo of tranci o di tanige ai funghi con patate (a slice of tanigue with mushroom and white wine sauce with potatoes). After that was a contorno—two

platters of ravioli ai formaggi (dumpling with mushrooms in cream sauce). Last, we had a taste of its semifreddo al mango (mango parfait) for formaggio. Gomaraschi also sampled us with a taste of Ciao Italia’s 14-inch Mediterranea pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, grilled eggplant, zucchini and black olives with parmesan. For digestivo, he prepared a selection of red and white wine. Gomaraschi usually presents his dishes in a unique fashion. According to him, he was inspired by how Asian cuisines are cooked. Thus, his dishes, though Italian in nature, have an Asian taste. Also, he prepares them in a stylish and colorful way. Since much effort is placed on plating, the disheas are all the more enticing and delectable! Gomaraschi owes his love for creating “good looking,” sumptuous dishes to his past influences and encounters. Aside from running a restaurant in Italy, he has worked for 35 years in a cruise ship that traveled to the western islands and the Caribbean. It was here he developed his skill in photography. “I love to take pictures. I want to

capture the beauty of things,” he says. This beauty he wants to recreate in the looks of his dishes. He also aims to give guests of Ciao Italia a sensuous experience. Regarding the place, he wants diners to feel relaxed with its ambiance. For its dishes, he wants diners to be initially attracted by their colorful presentations and have gastronomic satisfaction from its taste and aroma! Ciao Italia seems to be the heart of Gomaraschi’s life’s work. The overall look and feel of the place, and what it offers seem to mirror his interests, influences and past adventures—his work and trip to different parts of the globe, his passion in photography and cooking, and his venture to the food business. He chose to settle here in the Philippines together with his wife, Erma Nierva, a Filipina, where they are able to live a simple, laidback and happy life.

Contact Information Ciao Italia is located at White Beach, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. For inquiries, you may contact its owner Alberto Gomaraschi through mobile number +63949-6300163.

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A Taste of

Asia’s Best By Deni Rose M. Afinidad

Jaan's after-dessert chocolate spree



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012


housands of foodies from around the globe have spoken: Iggy’s of Singapore is “the best restaurant” in Asia for the third time and for the second year in a row, while Antonio’s of Tagaytay City holds such distinction for the Philippines for the fourth time and for four years now. The winners of Asia’s “best” restaurants and chefs are now featured in the latest edition, 2011/2012, of The Miele Guide (TMG), Asia’s first independent and authoritative guide to the region’s finest restaurants. About 500 of Asia’s best chefs and restaurateurs gathered at the continent’s biggest ballroom in Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore—so far the biggest assembly of its kind—to crown the winners, including TMG’s first-ever “Chef of Chefs” or chef who inspired the most chefs in Asia, Umberto Bombana of 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo in Hong Kong. According to TMG publishers, the 500 restaurants in the book were picked by thousands of foodies from all over the planet through online voting. Voters chose from a shortlist of restaurants selected by a panel of 73 of the most respected restaurant

Osia is located at the Festive Walk of Resorts World Sentosa

critics and food writers in the continent. This year, 2,000 restaurants made it to the survey, but only the top 25 percent made it to the guide. “I know I won’t be disappointed eating here (in the 500 restaurants in the guide),” publisher Aun

Koh said in his gala speech. This year’s awards night had the theme “Celebration of archipelagos,” featuring a degustation dinner prepared by different chefs from Asia’s archipelagos, including the Philippines. Beef sinigang, by Chef Antonio “Tony Boy” Escalante of Antonio’s, represented the country. It was a twist on the Filipino staple with beef still served in a sour tamarind and taro broth purée but with rice noodles instead of rice, an ingenious way of making it global, observed Filipino celebrity chef Rob Pengson, whose The Goose Station

restaurant in Taguig City has been ranked third best in the country. “We’re happy to be in the book,” he shared. “It boosts our credibility. Usually, we receive praises from friends and guides from Manila for our services and food. To be known in the region means something,” added his wife and co-restaurateur, Sunshine. What they like most about the guide, said Pengson, is that its organizers have a proper criteria not easily influenced by others. “[TMG] shows that there should be a heart and a head into putting up a restaurant,” he said. The guide has been highly respected in Asia, said Bing Blokbengen-Leow, Miele Singapore’s general manager for domestic retail operations. “Other guides are only focused on their respective countries. But don’t refer to only one guide. There is a place for many voices. The Miele makes that voice be heard,” enthused TMG’s editorial director and co-founder, Tan Su-Lyn. Even if Miele is its naming sponsor, TMG claims in its Web site that the German appliances company “does not exert any influence over the selection and judging process that determines which restaurants appear in The Miele Guide.” Similarly, none of TMG’s other sponsors or partners allegedly have any influence on which restaurants appear in the guide. “Lastly, The Miele Guide does not accept any sponsorship, advertising, gifts, or free meals from any restaurant in Asia,” the publishers explained. TMG thrives solely on book sales

Osia takes pride of its stone-fired oven

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A generous view of Singapore's skyline from Jaan

and subscriptions, Tan disclosed. “Restaurants in Asia are different from those in Europe,” she said on why Asia needs to have its own independent restaurant guide. “The Miele is our way of connecting ourselves to people who appreciate and enjoy great living and experience. It is a platform for them to celebrate eating well.” Among TMG’s achievements, Blokbengen-Leow noted, are helping enhance the region’s food and wine industry by championing Asia’s dynamic dining scene and top talents. “It encourages chefs and restaurants to better themselves and make dining more exciting and exceptional, so they can continue to offer experiences that excite everyone,” she remarked. For a taste of Asia’s best, here is a quick 82


look at some of the restaurants featured in the guide.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Hong Kong) and Robuchon a Galera by legendary French chef Joël Robuchon respectively ranked third and fourth at this year’s TMG 20 Best Restaurants. The youngest chef to have received a Michelin star, Robuchon has 22 restaurants in ten cities across the globe. He also holds the record of having the most Michelin stars: 26. Robuchon’s newly opened Singapore branch in Resorts World Sentosa, dubbed by TMG as “fast food haute cuisine at its oxymoronic best,” boasts of sexy and sleek red and black interiors designed by world-

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renowned artist Pierre-Yves Rochon. “Mr. Robuchon wants it to be romantic, thus, the dim lighting,” shares restaurant manager Diego Requena. The Atelier, meaning “workshop,” draws inspiration from the simplicity of Japanese cuisine and the vibrant atmosphere of Spanish tapas bars. It is a unique dining concept where chefs can experiment and create, working on new ideas and fusing different concepts reflective of the locale. This presentation immerses guests in a dining experience where guests are part of the action, separated merely by a counter between kitchen and main dining area. According to RWS, Robuchon likens L’Atelier to an artist’s studio where diners can witness the chefs create, prepare and cook innovative dishes right before them,

Jaan's chef de cuisine Julien Royer

Jaan's homemade hum mus,

finger food and crackers

and in return the chefs have the pleasure of watching guests enjoy their meal. Consequently, the level of interaction between chefs and guests is heightened which as a result encourages the chefs to better their craft. “It’s like a theater. We perform in the kitchen while diners watch. The focus is on guests from beginning to end. All guests are looking at the staff, so they can directly see our precision and kitchen approach,” Requena explains. “This concept has convinced me that its informality and conviviality, where you can have just one dish or a whole dinner, is the way people want to eat today,” Robuchon has been quoted as saying. Chef de cuisine Lorenz Hoja thinks this concept is the next leap to open-kitchen restaurants. “French fine dining is all about warm atmosphere and precise details,” he enthuses. “It is no longer about an open kitchen, but guests open to all senses in the kitchen. You can see, smell

and touch everything. This concept is something new to Singapore, like coming home for dinner. You want customers to feel welcomed and not make them feel like they do not want to move.” With this kind of concept, recommended by Hoja to singles, Requena believes one will no longer feel lonely being alone in a restaurant. The best part, says Hoja, is it allows guests to raid the restaurant’s kitchen, claimed to be the most expensive in the world. At first glance, there is nothing so fussy in the black-and-white-tiled kitchen that would immediately hint of its status. It is not flanked by golden pots or patched with a diamond floor. But there is not even a single finger of flame from the ovens or the stoves. With the restaurant’s staff shorttongued about their world-renowned kitchen, no one can be sure if all the heat is from some sort of invisible laser or supersonic plasma. But one thing is certain: the kitchen puts many bedrooms to shame in its squeaky cleanliness! “It takes awhile to open the restaurant because the carrots and radish carvings are freshly made every day. Even the wheatgrass decoration is changed every day. But it’s very fun to work here. There is high quality in everything, which is why we’re finer than fine dining,” shares Filipino

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Celebrity chef Susur Lee

operations executive Don Acebedo. Requena says he loves working with Filipinos because they are hard working and do not complain or feel homesick. “We are very proud because all our restaurants are run like a family. There is brotherhood and teamwork. We know each other. That’s what also makes Mr. Robuchon so successful,” Hoja says. Robuchon, he points out, is very precise and international. “He knows what he wants. He has the heart of a winner. He is all about perfection. Nothing big or small. We imbibe this passion to always improve. His passion for food and wine you can see in his eyes.” This passion emanates from the restaurant’s pride, L’Amuse-Bouche, foie gras custard with red port wine and parmesan

foam, which in its richness, is the singlemost reason to understand all this rave about French foie gras. Quite exotic is La Caille, foie gras-filled free-range quail with mashed potatoes. Singaporean delicacies chili crab, chicken rice and laksa are a musttry in Robuchon style.


Ranking number four at last year’s TMG is Jaan, from the ancient Sanskrit word for “bowl,” an intimate, forty-seat restaurant aiming to showcase the finest in modern French cuisine in Singapore. According to TMG in which the diner ranked fourth best in Asia in 2009/2010, Jaan stands tall among 84


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Chinois Amuse Bouche

other high-altitude diners because of its winning formula of elegant food, comely dining room, and lofty views of Singapore’s sculptural landmarks. Perched on the 70th level of the swanky Equinox Complex in Swissotel The Stamford, Jaan’s signature ornate interior features a stunning Murano crystal and silver free-form chandelier, both illuminator and art installation. Julien Royer is the restaurant’s new chef de cuisine or “chef with an altitude.” He presents a three-to-five-course degustation menu inspired by the Artisanal Cuisine Movement, in which the approach to food is to showcase the freshest ingredients

through simple but beautiful dishes that reflect both culinary tradition and the chef’s own creativity. A native of Cantal in Auvergne, Central France, Royer is born to a family of farmers from four generations, which instilled in him a greater appreciation for ingredients in their pure and organic state. His passion for cooking is spurred by his mother and grandmother, from whom he learned the importance of carefully grown vegetables and animals raised humanely. He places a high regard on the origins and people behind the ingredients he source. He trained under legendary French chefs like three-star Michelin chef Michel

Bras. He said in an interview that he travels all over the world to find out what food tastes best at a particular time of the year, and this results in cuisine that celebrates and respects seasonality, terroir and the skills of the world’s best gourmet producers. His menu changes quarterly to reflect what is in season. Aesthetically, his dishes are a salute to the natural surroundings he grew up in and are adorned with herbs and flowers that add flavor and beauty to his dishes. He is especially proud of his Courgette Trompette, which features the rarely used vegetable zucchini in a dish invoking the feeling of summer in its burst of spices and colors.

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Besides having nearly 500 different labels of Old World and New World wines, Jaan takes pride of its long water menu.

Choconuts, Jivara mousse, peanuts, and macadamia nut ice cream

Chinois by Susur Lee

Chinois, by “ponytailed chef” Susur Lee, has been heralded as a “culinary genius” by the famous Zagat guide and as one of the 10 Chefs of the Millennium by Food & Wine magazine. The restaurant drums to the beat of what Lee’s famous nouvelle chinoise or bold interpretations of juxtaposing classical Chinese cooking with the classic techniques of French cuisine. For starters, try pan-seared scallop burger; chilled tomato with avocado and mango salad; or Chinois Amuse Bouchesteamed prawn sie mai with black truffles. Wash down strong flavors with a cool sip of honeydew, lemon and mango in the Luscious Sunshine mocktail.

Osia by Scott Webster

Osia, situated at the Festive Walk of RWS, is the rebirth of renowned Aussie chef Scott Webster’s famous Osia London diner. According to Webster, Osia serves sophisticated, contemporary Australian cuisine composed of healthy and light seasonal indigenous ingredients from Australia and other Asia Pacific regions. “As one of the world’s most discerning culinary markets, Singapore will allow me to challenge myself and my staff to continually move forward and create new and exciting dishes for my customers. Food and wine should be a journey of discovery; service should be professional and relaxed. So all my customers should just sit back and enjoy the ride,” Webster says. Must-try’s in Osia include flatbreads baked in a stone-fired oven and served with Osia’s signature dip tubes or dips Webster created into a paste. Topped with vanilla and pepper, Valrhona hot chocolate soup is a play between hot and cold like lava chocolate. Cocktails and cocktail seafood are combined in common shot glasses in the refreshing and psychedelic Seafood Ice Experience. The collection includes carrot Pokka ice mixed with lobster; calamansi mojito ice and scallop; Quandong orange Campari ice with Amaebi shrimp; pineapple coconut ice with southern blue-fin tuna; sour apple ice and Tasmanian salmon trout; and lychee martini ice blended with oyster. 86


Osia's signature flatbread with dip in tube

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

Contact Information L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is at 8 Sentosa Gateway, Level 1, Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore, with telephone number (+65) 6577-8888. Jaan is at 2 Stamford Road, 70F Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore, with telephone numbers (+65) 6431-5670, (+65) 6837-3322 and (+65) 9199-9008 and email address reservations@ Chinois is at Resorts World Sentosa, Hotel Michael, 26 Sentosa Gateway, with telephone number (+65) 6884-7888 and Web site Osia is at 8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore, with telephone number (+65) 6577-6560 and email address


Jyce of All Trades By Roel Hoang Manipon


ely J’s was full of diners during lunchtime, mostly executives who work in the area in Makati City and also families, enjoying their togetherness and catching up with each member. I want to eat Filipino food whenever I am here, said Joyce Penas-Pilarksy, that’s why I chose this. Pilarsky stood out of the crowd because of her height and her fashion. That day, she just wore a T-shirt jazzed up with hand-painting and sequins, and tight denim shorts. She was bouncing all around, and making and taking calls. I ordered for prawns in guava sinigang, my favorite, and rice accentuated with anchovies fried crisp. She took time to choose her food. She stayed away from meat and surveyed the fish choices. She settled for the binukadkad na pla-pla, which the restaurant is famous for. I only eat fish, vegetables and fruits, she said. Her friend Neilson attested to her being healthconscious. Every morning, he related, she put an assortment of fruits and vegetables into a blender for her “power juice.” The leftover she would apply to her skin. Despite her age, Pilarksy remains youthful, eliciting compliments from strangers. Another important thing to makes her youthful is her passions, which she follows unabashedly. And there are many—fashion, singing, painting, crafts, traveling, writing and philantrophy. “Most of my personal dreams were achieved,” she said. “The most fulfilling of all is the realization of my dream to make a difference in the lives of people. The school building



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

Pilarksy joined the Philippine Fashion Week in 2011 together with other designers and well-known brands

which I donated to Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres Foundation, run by Fr. Boyet Concepcion in Bustos, Bulacan, caters to 94 street children, and they are now enjoying the classrooms and library facilities. Recently, I went to inaugurate together with Governor Plaza of Agusan del Sur the ‘floating school’ for the Manobo children, a non Muslim tribe in Mindanao.” Several years ago, she and her German husband established the Jocelyn and Gunter Pilarsky Foundation that is currently involved in several charitable endeavors. When we met, she just returned from the Agusan marshlands, where she helped built a school for the Monobo, one of Mindanao’s indigenous groups, in a floating village, a collection of houses set on rafts, floating on water. It was an adventure getting there, she said. They were escorted by the military and the water was infested with crocodiles. The people live only with the basics. There were lots of difficulties getting there. There is no stopping Pilarsky in doing what she wants to do, especially now. She is realizing her childhood dreams. “I was born in Manila but I grew up in Makati,” she related. “I had a very happy childhood doing lots of things like singing, dancing, painting, drawing, designing and cooking. Even as a little girl, I always wanted to be a fashion model, to be a famous painter, well-known fashion designer for the stars. Back then I cut and sewed old clothes for my dolls, and I myself would tie, knot and wrap around bed sheets and linens to create a gown and walk like a beauty queen. During rainy days, I would sketch, draw different things in nature, flowers and butterflies as my subjects and paint it with different colors. I also picture myself as opera singer, singing is second skin to me and I would join singing contest and choir competition in school then. Even at a young age, I was already thinking how I could help other people especially those who are less in life.” She continued: “As a child, I remember vividly how I dress up my dolls every day. I made clothes for them and I would Pilarsky with the inmates of the Correctional Institution for Women, where she gave out gifts, delivered an inspirational talk and joined them in a salu-salo

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


line them up like candidates in Miss Universe. I loved to draw, sketch and paint. I usually gathered spare sheet of papers from my father’s office, who was a lawyer then, and I would draw and paint on them with different colors. From then on, I saw myself as a visual artist. Even with my own clothes, I usually made my own designs when I was young and even now.” “Of all the talents God gave me, I think painting is closest to my heart since numerous painting exhibits that I successfully mounted in Germany, London and Paris were for good causes. I usually donate proceeds of my painting exhibits for scholarship grants, feeding program, school building construction, hospital, etc.,” she revealed. Her father though wanted her to become a teacher, thus Pilarksy finished a degree in education at the St. Paul’s College Manila, but “after graduating from college, I continued my study in art education at the Philippine Women’s University and attended workshops of different painters. When I settled in Germany, I enrolled in different art schools and underwent tutorials from different famous art professors,” she said. She never stopped painting ever since. “I love Impressionism because it highlights the beauty of nature and landscape. I really adore vibrant hues, and the study of light is so interesting. The technique truly fascinates me a lot. I love the paintings of Claude Monet, Renoir and Fernando Amorsolo. I also love still-life painting, too. When you visit my house, you will find a handful of landscape and still-life paintings of mine,” she explained. Her foray into fashion began with modeling. “Back in college, I stand at five foot and eight inch tall, and I really wanted to become a fashion model so I decided to go to Hyatt Regency Hotel, where the longest running luncheon fashion show was held. I approached the legendary fashion director/choreographer Gary Flores. I presented myself to Gary, and he was so ecstatic in our first meeting. Right away he told me that I could join the group of models in Hyatt,” she related. She did that for about a year, and then she was employed as a flight attendant. “I became a flight attendant for Philippine Airlines back in the 1980s and eventually for Saudi Arabia Airlines,” she said. Her work allowed to her to travel, which has become a way of life for her. “I’ve been traveling all over the world. I will be in Austria and having fun while skiing. Last year after my participation in Philipine Fashion Week, I visited Italy, South Africa, Portugal, Armenia and Dubai. Traveling to different countries gives me the opportunity to learn new things, new cultures and develop great respect for them,” she said. The Philippines, of course, remains to be a favorite: “My favorite is still Boracay because it has a beautiful beach, so many places to go to and lots of things and activities to do, and also Palawan, a place to unwind, very peaceful and not too crowded. Sometimes, you feel like you are alone in the whole island.” After her stint as a flight attendant, she settled in Germany for many years. It is of recent that she caught the attention of Filipinos through her accessories and fashion. 90


EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

“I read a lot, combine things together and try to achieve what’s in my mind. Constant practice in making them fulfils my inspiration in creating such accessories. The greatest factor is my passion to create a dazzling Joyce Penas-Pilarsky fashion accessory collection,” she explained the process of creating accessories. Many of her accessories are “bracelets and bangles because people will look in your hands. Jewelry piece on the arm is my signature as well as the highlight the shoulder.” She showcased her creations in the last two Philippine Fashion Weeks. She is known for using laser technology in dresses. Naming Christian Dior and Christian Lacroix as her fashion idols, Pilarksy said her “designs are always young, sexy and gorgeous. The silhouettes are sexy. Body-hugging materials are used. They are a celebration of being gorgeous.” “Elements of nature are basically my source of inspiration. I love gardens in bloom, flowers in vibrant hues, lush greens, butterflies, bees and the birds and everything connected to nature,” she revealed. “Flowers in different colors and shapes are most common in my designs. Leaves and garlands as fashion accessories complement my designs. In the previous Philippine Fashion Week, most of my collection revolves around flowers and leaves. This coming Philippine Fashion Week, butterflies will be my major theme and of course garden and flowers.” With the many things Pilarsky is involved with, one will think that her typical day is packed and stressful, but she tries to maintain balance and finds time for quietude. “I start my day thanking the Lord that I am alive, and then I do my meditation, thanking Him for all the blessings in my life,” she said. “Then I read my Bible so that I may know what God wants to tell me for the day. Then I do my stretching and a little bit of gymnastics. After that, I take my shower. Then I prepare my breakfast. After breakfast, I get ready to go to have my voice lessons and study classical music and jazz.” She continued: “I stay there the whole day. Then, in the evening I watch TV. Sometimes, I just spend the day packing my suitcase as there are travels I have to embark. There are days when I spend the whole day sketching for my next collection, and it’s not easy. Sometimes I am writing the whole day, or reading. I do a lot of things, and I am happy that I am interested in so many things.” “Since I grew up with lots of love and encouragement from my family and friends, I harnessed my talents to the best I can, easily appreciates and understands people I meet,” she said. “I always look at the positive side of life and abhor negative thinking. I look into the eyes of the people I meet and always hope that I will be given the opportunity to spread God’s love to them.” She concluded: “I want to be remembered as somebody who spread God’s love around me and touched the lives of the people I met, as an inspiration and mentor, as somebody who gave children and people a better future, as a person who shared her time, experiences, resources and talents for the improvement of my little corner of the world, no matter how small my share may be, for God’s glory.” Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |



DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM OFFICES National Capital Region Rm. 207, Department of Tourism Bldg., T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 523-8411 to 20 Web site: Ilocos Region (I) Oasis Country Resort Hotel National Highway, Sevilla, San Fernando, La Union Phone: (072) 888-2411/2098 Fax: 888-2098 Email: Laoag Sub-Office Room 207, Ilocano Heroes Memorial Hall, Laoag City Phone: (077) 722-1473 Fax: (077) 722-0467 Email: Cordillera Administrative Region DOT Complex, Gov. Pack Road, Baguio City Phone: (074) 442-8848/7014 Fax: (074) 442-8848 Email: Cagayan Valley Region (II) No. 29-A, Rizal St. Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Phone: (078) 844-1621, 846-2435 Fax: 846-2435 Email: Web site: Central Luzon (III) Hilaga Village San Fernando City, Pampanga Phone: (045) 961-2665, 961-2612 Fax: 961-2612 Email: Southern Tagalog Regions (IV) Room 208, Department of Tourism Bldg., T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 524-1969, 524-1528 and 526-7656 Fax: 526-7656 Email: Bicol Region (V) Regional Center Site Rawis, Legaspi City, Albay Phone: (052) 482-0712, 820-3664 Fax: 482-0715 Email: Web site: Western Visayas (VI) Western Visayas Tourism Center Capitol Ground, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City Phone: (033) 337-5411, 509-3550 Fax: 335-0245 Mobile: 0917-722-6691 Email: Web site:,



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Fax: (+63) 2 7578 268 Web site: www.philippines.embassy. Email:

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Soccsksargen (XII) Second floor, COMSE Bldg., Quezon Ave., Cotabato City Phone: (064) 421-1110 Fax: 421-7868 Email: Koronadal Sub-Office Ground floor, Marvella Plaza Hotel, Gen Paulino Santos Drive, Koronadal City Phone: (083) 228-8667 Caraga Region (XIII) Ground floor, Grateful Realty Corp. Bldg., 88 Pili Drive, Butuan City Phone: (085) 341-8413 Fax: 815-6040 Email: Web site: EMBASSIES and CONSULATES Australia Level 23-Tower 2, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City 1200 Phone: (+63) 2 757 8100

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

China 4896 Pasay Road., Dasmarinas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 844-3148, 843-7715 Fax: (+63) 2 845-2465, 843-9974 Email: Denmark 51st floor, PBCOM Tower, 6795 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Manila, Philippines Phone: (+63) 2 815-8015 Fax: (+63) 2 815-8017 Email: Egypt 7th floor, GC Corporate Plaza 150 Legaspi St. Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 843-9220 Fax : (+63) 2 843-9239 Finland 21st Floor BPI Buendia Center, Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 891-5011 to 15 Fax: (+63) 2 891-4107 Web site: Email:

France 16th floor, The Pacific Star Bldg., Makati Ave. cor. Sen. Gil Puyat Ext., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 810-1981/8 Fax: (+63) 2 813-1908 Germany 25/F Tower 2, RCBC Plaza 6819 Ayala Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-4906 Fax: (+63) 2 810-4703 Web site: Email: India 2190 Paraiso St. Dasmarinas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-8151 Fax: (+63) 2 815-8151 Web site: Email: Indonesia 185 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-5061/68 Fax: (+63) 2 892-5878, 818-4441 Web site: Email: Ireland 3rd floor, Max’s Bldg., 70 Jupiter St., Bel-Air, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 896-4668 Fax: (+63) 2 897-8534 Email: Israel 23rd floor, Trafalgar Plaza, H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-5330 Fax: (+63) 2 894-1027 Web site: Email: Italy 6th floor, Zeta Bldg. 191 Salcedo St. Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-4531/2/3 Fax: (+63) 2 817-1436 Email: Japan 2627 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 551-5710 Fax: (+63) 2 551-5785, 551-5780 Web site: Email: Korea 10th floor, The Pacific Star Bldg., Makati Ave. Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 811-6139 to 44 Fax: (+63) 2 811-6148 Malaysia 29th and 30th flr., The World Center Bldg. 330 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. Makati City Phone: (+63)2 864-0761 to 68 Fax: (+63) 2 864-0727 Email:

TRAVEL DIRECTORY Mexico 2nd floor, GC Corporate Plaza 150 Legaspi St. Legaspi Vill., Makati City Phone: (+63)2 812-2211, 812-2212 Fax: (+63)2 892-7635 Web site: Email: Netherlands 26th Floor Equitable PCI Bank Tower, 8751 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 786-6666 Fax: (+63 2) 786-6600 Web site: Email: New Zealand 23rd Floor, BPI Center Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63)2 891-5358 to 67, 891-3272 to 75 Fax: (+63)2 891-5357, 891-5356 Web site: Email: Norway 21st floor, Petron Mega Plaza Bldg., 358 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 886-3245 to 49 Fax: (+63) 2 886-3244, 886.3384 Web site: Email: Pakistan 6th Floor, Alexander House 132 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village Makati City Phone: (+63)2 817-2772/6 Fax: (+63)2 840-0229 Email: Web site: cservicesmain.htm Russia 1245 Acacia Road., Dasmarinas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 893-0190 Fax: (+63) 2 810-9614 Web site: Email: Saudi Arabia 389 Gen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 890-9735 Fax: (+63) 2 895-3493 Singapore 505 Rizal Drive,1634 Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Phone: (+63) 2 856-9922 Fax: (+63) 2 856-9932 South Africa 29th Floor, Yuchengco Tower, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue Makati City Phone: (+63)2 889-9383 Fax: (+63)2 889-9337 Email: South Korea 122 Upper McKinley Road McKinley Town Center

Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city Phone: (+63)2 856-9210 Fax: (+63)2 856-9008, 856-9019, 856-9024 Email: Spain 5th floor, ACT Tower, 135 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 818-5526 Fax: (+63) 2 810-2885 Emails: and Sweden 16th floor, Equitable PCI Bank Tower II Bldg., Makati Ave. cor. Dela Costa Sts., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 811-7900 Fax: (+63) 2 815-3002 Web site: Email: Switzerland 24th floor, Equitable Bank Tower, 8751 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 757-9000 Fax: (+63) 2 757-3718 Web site: Email: Taiwan 41F, Tower 1, RCBC Plaza 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63)2 887-6688 Fax: (+63)2 887-7679, 887-4661 Web site: Email: Thailand 107 Rada St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63)2 815-4219/20 Fax: (+63)2 815-4221 Web site: Email: Turkey 2268 Paraiso St. Dasmariñas Village, Makati City Phone: (+63)2 843-9705, 943-9707 Fax: (+63)2 843-9702 Email: United Arab Emirates 2nd floor, Renaissance Bldg., 215 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-3906 Fax: (+63) 2 818-3577 United Kingdom 15th to17th floors, L.V. Locsin Bldg., 6752 Ayala Ave. cor. Makati Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 580-8700 Fax: (+63) 2 819-7206 Web site: uk/philippines Email: United States of America 1201 Roxas Blvd., Manila Phone: (+63) 2 528-6300 Fax: (+63) 2 522-4361 Web site:

Vietnam 670 Pablo Ocampo, Malate, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 525-2837, 521-6843 Fax: (+63) 2 526-0472 Web site: Email: LOCAL AIRLINES AirPhil Express R-1 Hangar, APC Gate1, Andrews Avenue, Nichols Tel. 851-7601 Ground Floor, Charterhouse, 114 Legaspi St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-1459/2071; 24-Hour reservations number: 855-9000 Cebu Pacific Airlines Airline Operations Center Domestic Airport, Pasay City, Phone : (+63) 2 702-0888 (reservations), (+63) 2 290-5271 to 72 (customer service), (+63) 2 852-2328 local 263 (accounting), (+63) 2 290-5321 to 22 (cargo), (+63) 2 290-5241 to 42 (group desk) Email: customerservice@cebupacificair. com (customer service) (accounting) Web site: Island Aviation, Inc. A. Soriano Hangar, Andrews Avenue, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines Phone: (63) 2 833-3855 Island Transvoyager, Inc. A Soriano Hangar, Lima Road cor Andrews Ave., Domestic Airport, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 821-5674, 851-5667 and 854-5674 Inter Island Airlines 74 Roxas Blvd., Paranaque City Phone: (+63) 2 852-8003 Philippine Airlines 2nd Floor, Power Realty Bldg., 1012 Arnaiz Ave., Makati City. Phone: (+63) 2 892-7339, 815-6481 South East Asian Airlines Domestic Passenger Terminal 1, Manila Domestic Airport, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 849-0100 ZestAir Domestic Road cor. Andrews Ave., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 855-3333 FOREIGN AIRLINES Air India Phil Am Life Salcedo Building, 126 L.P. Leviste St., SalcedoVillage, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-2441/1280

Air New Zealand 10th Floor, Rufino Pacific Tower, Ayala Ave., Makati City. Phone: (+63) 2 884-8097 American Airlines Ground Flr., Olympia Somerset Condominium, Makati Avenue cor Sto. Tomas St., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-8645, 810-3229 Asiana Airlines 6th Floor, Salcedo Tower, Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-5681 to 88 British Airways 4th Floor, Filipino Bldg., Dela Rosa Street cor. Legaspi Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 817-0361, 815-6560 Cathay Pacific Airways Limited Room 446, 4th Floor, IPT Bldg., NAIA Terminal 1, Ninoy Aquino Ave., Paranaque City Phone: (+63) 2 832-2979 China Airlines Ground Floor Golden Empire tower 1322 Roxas Blvd. cor. Padre Faura St., Ermita Manila Phone: (+63) 2 523-6319, 524-4950/4331 Emirates Pacific Star Building, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 858-5350, 858-5300 Eva Airways 5438 Don Tim Building, South Superhighway, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 889-5701 to 04 Finnair 10th Floor, Rufino Pacific Tower Ayala Ave,. Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 856-1427 Gulf Air 9th Floor, Ayala Life FGU Center 6811 Ayala Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 892-1313 Japan Airlines 2nd floor, Oledan Square, 6788 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 886-6877 to 78 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 8th floor, Athenaeum Building, 160 LP Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 848-5817, 815-4790 Korean Air Ground floor, LPL Plaza Bldg., 124 LP Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 815-9262, 815-9264

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


TRAVEL DIRECTORY Laoag International Airlines Terminal 1, Manila Domestic Airport, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 551-9729, 551-4813

Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 687-2212

893-3233 and 893-2020 (24 hrs.)

Lufthansa German Airlines Legaspi Parkview Condominiums, 134 Legaspi cor. Palanca Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 810-5033

Avis Philippines Manila Peninsula Hotel Shop #1, Ayala Wing Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 845-1844, 843-7140 Web site:

Sandeco Rent-A-Car 5446-48 South Superhighway Phone: (+63) 2 844-7954/7960/ 4478 to 79

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

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

Northwest Airlines 8th floor, Athenaeum Building, 160 LP Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 819-7261

Carlines Rent-A-Car Services Tuscany Condominium, 6751 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 810-5421, 813-1975 to 76

Qatar Airways Ground floor, 132-A The Colonnade Residences, Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-1888 Qantas Airways Limited 4th floor, Filipino Merchants Building, 135 Legaspi corner Dela Rosa Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-4738 Royal Brunei Airlines G/F SGV II Blg., 6758 Ayala Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 897-3309, 895-3545 Singapore Airlines 33rd floor, LKG Tower, 6801 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 756-8899, 756-8888 South African Airways 10th Floor, Rufino Pacific Tower Ayala Ave,. Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 884-8129 Thai Airways International Country Space 1 Building, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 812-4812 Tiger Airways 1000 Makati Ave. cor Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 884-1524 United Airlines 10th Floor, Rufino Pacific Tower Ayala Ave,. Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 884-8272 CAR RENTAL AND TAXI SERVICE Alamo Rent-A-Car 211 Quirino Avenue, Tambo, Parañaque City Phone: (+63) 2 551-4923/07 Avcar Rental Corp. 3674 Bautista cor Dayap Sts.,



Del’s Transport Services 1042 Vito Cruz St., Singalong, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 524-5187, 525-8396/2696 Executive Transport and Cars Casa Blanca, 1447 M. Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 523-5595 Filcar Transport Services 2nd Floor, Unit 2-A, Torre De Salcedo Bldg., 184 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 894-1754, 817-8346 and 843-3530 Telefax: (+63) 2 893-1251 Web site: Email: Gemini Transport Services 43 B. Francisco St., New Saniega Phone: (+63) 2 811-6888 Grayline Philippines 7737-C, St. Paul Road, San Antonio Village, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 890-3963 to 64 Hertz Rent-A-Car Unit 101, Sunset Tower, Makati Ave. cor. Durban St., Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 897-5161 NAIA Airport Terminal 1 Branch, Phone: (+63) 2 877-1406 Mobeline Charter Services 2449 Sequia St., Sta.Ana, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 890-2778 Nissan Rent-A-Car 2317 Aurora Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 854-7099 Fax: (+63) 2 852-6599 Web site: Email: Orix Auto Leasing Phil. Corp. 148 Yakal St., San Antonio Village, Makati City. Phone: (+63) 2 893-2523 to 27,

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

Sunflower Transport Services 7 Santa Teresita St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City Phone: (+63) 2 631-3496 Tigers on the Run 3rd Floor, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City Phone: (+63) 2 899-98-28/08 BUS COMPANIES Aladdin Transit Cayco St., Sampaloc, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 781-9168 BLTB 2nd Avenue, Caloocan City Phone: (+63) 2 363-4478, 365-7886 Baliwag Transit 2nd Avenue cor. Rizal Avenue, Caloocan City Phone: (+63) 2 364-7002, 364-0860, 364-0778 and 363-4331 Dagupan Bus Line New York St. cor. Edsa, Cubao, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 727-2330 or 2287 Executive Carriers and Services, Inc. 153 Quirino Ave., Baclaran, Parañaque City Phone: (+63) 2 851-8701, 912-4289 Fariñas Transit Fariñas Building 1238 Lacson St. Sampaloc, Manila 743-8580 to 84 / 734-5311 / 7499645 09173279665 Fariñas Terminal Brgy. 8 Fariñas St., Laoag City, Ilocos Norte (077) 7721177 / 09173279526 Five Star Bus Company 2220 Aurora Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 853-4772 Genesis Transport Services Inc. 101-A Giselle Park Plaza, Edsa Rotonda cor. H. Taft Avenue, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 733- 8622 704 Edsa cor. New York St., Cubao, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 709-0803, 421-1413 JAC Liner #2 Mapagmahal St. Brgy. Pinyahan, Kamias Road, Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 927-4745/6139, 928-6140

Jam Transit Timog St. corner Edsa Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 724-4897 Partas Transportation Co., Inc. 816 Aurora Blvd., Quezon City Phone: (+63) 2 725-1740, 725-1756, 826-1285 and 724-9820 Philippine Rabbit Oroquieta St., Sta.Cruz, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 734-9836 Philtranco Edsa, Apelo Cruz St., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 851-8077 to 79 (Pasay) and 722-7567 (Cubao) RRCG Transport Km. 18, Ortigas Avenue Extension, Cainta, Rizal Phone: (+63) 2 656-7503 Saulog Transit 1377 Quirino Avenue, Paranaque City Phone: (+63) 2 825-2926 to 30 Tritran CMC Building, Andrews Avenue corner Aurora Blvd., Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 851-7971 Victory Liner 713 Rizal Ave. Ext., Caloocan City Phone: (+63) 2 361-1506 651 EDSA, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 833-5019 to 20 551 Earnshow St. brgy 401 Sampaloc, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 559-7753 Edsa near Aurora Blvd., Cubao Phone: (+63) 2 727-4688, 727-4534 SHIPS and FERRIES WG & A (Superferry) 12th floor, Times Plaza Building, UN Ave. cor. Taft Ave., Ermita, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 528-7979, 528-7171 Web site: Email: Mt. Samat Ferry Express CCP Bay Terminal, CCP Complex, Pasay City Phone: (+63) 2 551-5290 to 91 Negros Navigation Pier II, North Harbor, Tondo, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 243-5231, 244-0408 Web site: Email: Sulpicio Lines Manila Terminal Office Pier 12, North Harbor Tondo, Manila Phone: (+63) 2 245-0616 to 30 Fax: (+63) 2 243-4570, 243-4571 Web site:



PASTORES FESTIVAL May 1 | Gapan City, Nueva Ecija This is celebrated to honor the patron saint of Gapan City, Nuestra Senora dela Virgen Divina Pastora. This colorful and vibrant festival strengthens the faith and devotion to the Virgin.

linguistic groups that have merged in the city.

MAY ILAOUD FESTIVAL May 1 | Milaor, Camarines Sur It commemorates the foundation anniversary and feast day of St. Joseph the Worker.

PAHAW-AS FESTIVAL May 2 | Dumangas, Iloilo Pahaw-as means a “harvest of the agricultural products from the fishponds or other water forms.”

SINAOT FESTIVAL May 1 | President Roxas, Capiz It is a cultural celebration. TANGYAN FESTIVAL May 1-7 | Igbaras, Iloilo It highlights the significant role of Tangyan River in the municipality’s history. BOA-BOAHAN FESTIVAL May 1 | Nabua, Camarines Sur Said to be of pagan origin, the name of the festival is derived from alinsangan, which describes the characteristics of the people living in the early settlements.

BALANGAY FESTIVAL May 1-31 | Butuan City It highlights the ancient boats dug in this area, one of the most important archaeological finds in the country.

DAYAW DALAN FESTIVAL May 2-3 | San Jacinto, Ticao Dayaw means “to show off, parade or display.” The festival shows the best of what the municipality has to offer. It is also in honor of its patron saint, Santo Cristo de Burgos. LUYANG DILAW FESTIVAL May 2 | Marilao, Bulacan The name of Marilao comes from a plant that abundantly thrived in swampy areas during the Spanish era, the luya or ginger. The festival aims to make the residents and the youth aware of the origin of the town.

PAHINUNGOD May 1-10 | Calape, Bohol It is a show of devotion to San Vicente Ferrer.

KATAGMAN (OGTONGANON) FESTIVAL May 3 | Oton, Iloilo This annual event showcasing the rich history and culture of the municipality dates back to the 13th century. FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS May 3 | Sta. Cruz, Marinduque This is in honor of the Holy Cross, and religious, cultural and civic activities are lined up. DUMAROKDOK FESTIVAL May 3-4 | Botolan, Zambales The festival highlights the domarokdok, the native dance of Botolanenos. Activities include street dancing , sports competition and search for Mutya ng Botolan. It also celebrates the feast day of their patron saint, Sta. Monica. BAMBANTI FESTIVAL May 4-10 | Isabela It is the anniversary of the establishment of the civil government of Isabela. MANTAWI FESTIVAL May 5 | Mandaue City, Cebu It showcases the city’s historical heritage as well as promotes the city as an industrial and tourist hub. LABIG FESTIVAL May 7-9 | Claveria, Cagayan The town fiesta uses labig, the leaf of a palm tree known as palma brava which grows abundantly in Claveria.

PANAGSANGAL FESTIVAL May 1 | Baggao, Cagayan As the name connotes, the festival shows the spirit of unity. TUBONG-TUBONG FESTIVAL May 1-7 | Tubungan, Iloilo Making this occasion festive is the streetdancing competition participated in by schools and barangays.

BASI FESTIVAL May 7 | Naguilian, La Union It promotes the basi, a wine made from sugarcane. ARAQUIO OF PENARANDA First and second Sunday of May | Penaranda, Nueva Ecija It features a traditional procession and dramatization of the finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helena and her son.

PANALAMIHAN FESTIVAL May 1-5 | Roxas, Palawan Also in celebration of the founding anniversary of Roxas, Palawan, the festival aims to show the richness of Roxas’s cultural heritage.

PUJADA BAY FESTIVAL May 9-15 | Mati, Davao Oriental It showcases the bounty of coastal resources.

UGYONAN FESTIVAL May 1 | E. B. Magalona, Negros Occidental The festival is celebrated through sports competitions, street dancing and others.

BAWANG FESTIVAL May 3 | Sinait, Ilocos Sur There are competitions and exhibits involving the garlic.

HANTIKAN FESTIVAL May 1-7 | Hamtic, Antique It celebrates the origin of the name of the province Antique and the town of Hamtik— hantique, which is a large ant.

CARABAO-CARROZA FESTIVAL May 3 | Pavia, Iloilo It features a parade of 18 gaily decorated bamboo sleds and a race among carrozapulling carabaos on a 400-meter course.

BALINTAWAKAN May 10-15 | Pontevedra, Capiz It is a gathering of Pontevedra’s senior citizens, who are sentimentally bound together to an unwritten commitment to preserve a simple tradition, which began on December 31, long before the outbreak of World War II.

PATTARADAY FESTIVAL May 1-6 | Santiago City, Isabela Pattaraday, which means “unity,” is celebrated on the occasion of the founding anniversary of Santiago. It celebrates the unity of the ethno-

RIT-RITEMONG CAYONG FESTIVAL May 3-5 | Sarrat, Ilocos Norte This is what the Sarratenos call their fiesta, celebrating liberty, courage, leadership, unity and brotherhood.

PALONG FESTIVAL May 10-13 | Capalonga, Camarines Norte The festival recognizes the etymology of the town’s name and signifies the abundant presence of roosters in the locality.

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


May-June LUBI-LUBI FESTIVAL May 10 | Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental The festival features the coconut as one of its major agricultural products.

KAOGMA FESTIVAL May 20-28 | Camarines Sur It celebrates the foundation of the province of Camarines Sur.

PAHIYAS FESTIVAL May 11-15 | Lucban, Quezon The festival honors St. Isidore the Laborer and is a thanksgiving event for the bountiful harvest as well as a way to ensure another one. People decorate their houses with farm produce and kiping.

PANAGYAMAN FESTIVAL May 22-24 | Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya It celebrates the establishment of the civil government of Nueva Vizcaya.

MAGAYON FESTIVAL May 11-22 | Albay Albay highlights its most famous image, the majestic Mount Mayon. BAGAKAY FESTIVAL May 11-15 | Sariaya, Quezon The festival honors St. Isidore the Laborer and is marked by procession wherein people grab goodies tied on bamboos where they pass. MAYOHAN SA TAYABAS May 11-15 | Tayabas, Quezon It is a thanksgiving event marked with agrotrade fair and the famous agawan ng suman in honor of St. Isidore the Laborer, patron saint of farmers, for the good harvest and abundance of agricultural product. BALWARTE SA GUMACA May 11-15 | Gumaca, Quezon Huge arches placed on the strategic locations are lavishly decorated with the most colorful farm produce, local delicacies, palm fronds and others. BARIW FESTIVAL May 14 | Nabas, Aklan The festival showcases the many uses of bariw leaves, a thriving livelihood in the municipality. PULILAN CARABAO FESTIVAL May 14-15 | Pulilan, Bulacan In honor of St. Isidore the Laborer , the festival features a parade of water buffaloes (carabao), which are made to kneel in front of the church.

BOLOBONG KINGKING FESTIVAL May 23-24 | Loboc, Bohol It features the history, folklore and traditions of the Lobocanons. Bolibong Kingking is a term applied to the drums and gongs and their rhythm used to accompany the supplication dance ritual in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the second patron of Loboc.

MANOGLAYA FESTIVAL June 9-12 | San Antonio, Northern Samar It is a cultural-tourism festival with cultural performances, street dancing, beauty search and exhibit. CAMOTES CASSAVA FESTIVAL June 10- 11 | Tudela, Camotes Island It is a celebration of bountiful harvest. Farmers display their various cassava-based products and share their technical experiences in producing and processing cassava products.

SAGAWAK FESTIVAL May 28 | Malalag, Davao del Sur Sagawak is a great volume and forceful flow of water the Lumads believe to cast away the evil spells to be buried in the bottom of the deepest sea, eventually bringing harmony, unity and progress. This is an annual festival featuring the rich culture, unique customs and worthy traditions of the Tagacaolos of Malalag.

KANSILAY FESTIVAL June 12 | Silay City The festival focuses on Kansilay street dance

DAPUGAN FESTIVAL May 28 | Mabini, Compostela Valley Dapugan is a Kaagan and Mansaka word “gathering.” It celebrates the abundance of marine resources of Mabini. PINANGAT FESTIVAL June 1-20 | Camalig, Albay It highlights the town’s famous dish. PILI FESTIVAL June 1-30 | Sorsogon, Sorsogon Pili is an indigenous crop of the Bicol region, particularly Sorsogon. This festival showcases the pili, emphasizing its importance and increasing the awareness of the public on its various uses.

MAGDADARAN TALIP FESTIVAL May 19-20 | Carasi, Dumalneg, Nueva Era, Adams It commemorates the ancient peace pact that has brought lasting peace among ethnic groups.

BILANG-BILANG ABAYAN FESTIVAL June 1 | Balangay Taft, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte It is a showcase of religious heritage of the Surigaonons in honor of Virgen de la Paz Y Buen Viaje.


VIRAY FESTIVAL June 8 | Sta. Ana, Cagayan It commemorates the viray, or boat, which is considered important in the history of the town whose main source of livelihood is fishing and eco-tourism.

HUDYAKA FESTIVAL Last week of May to first week of June | Zamboanga del Norte This is a weeklong celebration featuring an agro-industrial fair, sports, concerts and cultural shows. This is a combination of the different festivals of the 25 municipalities and two cities of Zamboanga del Norte. Festival champs of each town and city converge in a single jubilation. It is also known as Linggo ng Zamboanga del Norte.

OBANDO FERTILITY RITES May 17-19 | Obando, Bulacan Couples who are childless take this occasion to appeal for heavenly intercession and dance to please the Virgin of Salambao, San Pascual de Bailon and Sta. Clara. Maidens and bachelors who want husbands and wives can dance for their mates. Farmers also thank the Virgin for the bountiful harvest.


ABANG FESTIVAL June 4 | Soyung, Echague, Isabela It features a parade of boats with the image of Our Lady of the Visitation across the Pinacanauan River in the barangay of Soyung, Echague.

EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

GINUBAT FESTIVAL June 11-12 | Gubat, Sorsogon The festival highlights the meaning of the town’s name.

INDEPENDENCE DAY June 12 | Cavite, Manila and other historical sites (nationwide) It features re-enactment of the historic proclamation of the Philippine independence done at the mansion of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite. PASALAMAT DE TAYASAN June 13 | Tayasan, Negros Oriental It is a thanksgiving festival in honor of its patron saint, St. Anthony de Padua.

May-June PANGAPOG FESTIVAL June 13-18 | Santa Maria, Davao del Sur Pangapog is a Tagacaolo term meaning “good harvest.” This is a one week thanksgiving festival.

PANDAYAN FESTIVAL June 18 | Badiangan, Iloilo The festival showcases the ingenuity, craftsmanship, artistry, tradition and culture of the Badianganons

MUDPACK FESTIVAL June 25-26 | Murcia, Negros Occidental The festival is said to be a symbolic celebration of man’s return to primitive time when he is closer to nature.

BATTLE OF BESANG PASS June 14 | Cervantes, Ilocos Sur It commemorates the victory of Filipino guerillas in northern Luzon which led to the surrender of Gen. Yamashita and the end of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines.

LINGGANAY FESTIVAL June 19 | Alang-alang, Leyte The festival features a street pageant depicting the legendary story of the bells.

PALU-PALO FESTIVAL June 26 | Basco, Batanes It is grand celebration featuring a cultural presentation of the different municipalities of Batanes.

GINNAMULUAN FIESTA June 20-21 | Cabarroguis, Quirino It is the town fiesta of Cabarroguis featuring street dancing and cooperativism.

TAEPHAG FESTIVAL June 27 | Tagbina, Sutigao del Sur It highlights a common Manobo ritual used for opening a kaingin, rice planting, harvesting and other activities.

DORONG FESTIVAL June 14-19 | Kapatagan, Digos City This is a thanksgiving feast for the Bagobos. This week-long celebration features different activities such as mountain biking, motocross and mountain climbing and cleanup. There are displays of fruits and vegetables as well as a showcase of indigenous culture. NALIYAGAN FESTIVAL June 15-17 | Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur It celebrates the foundation of Agusan del Sur.

PINEAPPLE/PINYASAN FESTIVAL June 15-24 | Daet, Camarines Norte This festival features the sweet, succulent variety of pineapple, the Formosa, a known produce of the town. DAMSU CULTURAL FESTIVAL June 16 | Kiblawan, Davao del Sur Damsu is a B’laan word which means “thanksgiving for good harvest for the Anito.” KAIMONAN FESTIVAL June 17 | Maco, Compostela Valley This is a Mansaka term for “thanksgiving” for the blessings and bountiful harvest. It is celebrated every June 17 up to the last Saturday of the month in accordance with the practices of the ethnic group. SULAY-BASYA FESTIVAL June 18-24 | Sara, Iloilo The festival honors St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the municipality.

OYANGE KAUGMAN FESTIVAL June 20-29 | Polangui, Albay The festival’s name is derived from a tree which is abundant in the area.

SIRONG-SIRONG FESTIVAL June 28- 29 | Cagdianao, Surigao del Norte It is in honor of Saints Peter and Paul.

KALIGUAN FLUVIAL FESTIVAL June 21-25 | Cagwait, Surigao del Sur It honors St. John the Baptist, highlighted by the Search for Perlas ng Kaliguan beauty pageant, beach dancing and other beach activities.

APUNG IRU FLUVIAL FESTIVAL June 28-30 | Apalit, Pampanga It features a procession where the image of St. Peter is brought down from Capalangan to Calumpit River where a colorfully decorated mini pagoda awaits the image.

PIAT SAMBALI FESTIVAL June 23- July 2 | Piat, Cagayan It is a religious and cultural revival event in commemoration of the Christianization of the Itawes region of Cagayan.

KURADANG FESTIVAL June 28-29 | Sison, Surigao del Norte It is the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul celebrated through street dancing, agroindustrial fair and beauty contest.

CALUMPIT LIBAD FESTIVAL June 23-24 | Calumpit, Bulacan It honors the town’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist, held at the Pampanga River.

PINTADOS KASADYAAN FESTIVAL June 28- 29 | Tacloban City, Leyte The festival features body-painting, commemorating the courageous ancient warriors called Pintados.

HIL-O-HANAY FESTIVAL June 23-24 | Sigma, Capiz The festival highlights the Sigmahanon’s traditional way of life. TAONG-PUTIK FESTIVAL June 24 | Aliaga, Nueva Ecija It originated from a unique practice of the devotees of Saint John the Baptist in Bibiclat, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. Participants’ bodies are completely covered with mud and adorned with vines, banana leaves or dried coconut leaves. The ritual starts at dawn on June 24. They ask for alms and candles from the people and offer them at the church during the special mass.

BALYUAN June 29 | Tacloban City, Leyte It highlights the ceremonial exchange of images of the Holy Child between Leyte and Samar. PALAWOD FESTIVAL June 29 | Bantayan, Bantayan Island, Cebu The festival highlights the fishermen.

FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST and PARADA NG LECHON June 24 | Balayan, Batangas This is the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, one of the patrons of Balayan, Batangas, marked by throwing of water on other people. It is highlighted by a parade of whole roast pigs, many dressed up, which is a unique tradition of the town.

Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012 EXPERIENCE Travel and Living |


PARTING SHOT The famous sunset of Manila Bay, taken on November 2010. Photo by Mervin Concepcion Vergara

“We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another, and no sunrise finds us where left by sunset. Even while the earth sleeps we travel. We are the seeds of that tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind to be scattered.”

—The Prophet (1923) Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer



EXPERIENCE Travel and Living Volume 8 • Number 2 • 2012

Experience Travel and Living Vol.8 No.2 2012  

Experience the travel of a lifetime.

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