Page 1

The Joy of Flight p.8

Fort North p.14

Gifts for All Seasons p.12 Just the Pacs, Man p.6

The Philippines, a consistent top 20 placer in the world’s best retirement destinations, is now poised for higher ground. Johnna Villaviray-Giolagon reports


eith Watkins and Bob Gindernally sat outside the corner store in Cainta, Rizal, north of Metro Manila, enjoying each other’s company and the rare appearance of the elusive September sun. Watkins, 49, has been living in the Philippines the past four years with his Filipina wife. He lost this job in England and so they decided to pack up for the Philippines where the cost of living is decidedly cheaper. In the meantime Gindernally, 62, has shuttled regularly to and fro Asia and Hawaii that it has become more practical for him to relocate in the region. His wife for three decades is a Filipina so moving to the Philippines seemed to him like the natural decision to make.

Watkins and Gindernally are just two of thousands who chose to relocate to the Philippines over the past years as part of the phenomenon of International Retirement Migration (IRM) driven primarily by ageing baby boomers. This demographic is generally classified as the “active retired” who prefer to integrate into the host community, need special care, or want to live in a more structured and gated community of similar individuals. The Philippine Retirement Agency (PRA) reports that gross enrolment for the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV) in 2012 alone is 3,426, a 42 percent jump from the previous year’s 2,580. Last year also marked a milestone when enrollment breached the 3,000 mark for the first time in 27 years. Cumulative gross enrollment for SRRV

is at 28,893 while cumulative enrollment is 20,818, landmark levels according to PRA. Established in 1985 the PRA is mandated to attract foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to invest, reside and retire in the Philippines with the end-view of accelerating the socio-economic development of the country and contributing to the foreign currency reserve of the economy all the while providing them the best quality of life in the most attractive package. Since 2009, PRA has operated under the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Rising Numbers

According to a 2011 thesis paper by Mervin Magbuhat for the Graduate School of International Affairs of the Ming Chuan University, as many as 160,000 migrants

from neighboring countries and some returned migrants from the United States have actually resettled in the Philippines. Most expatriates carry resident or immigrant visas; Watkins and Gindernally, meanwhile, have non-quota immigrant visas by virtue of being married to Philippine nationals. Since 2010 the Philippines has made it consistently in the International Living magazine’s top 20 best retirement destinations in the world. This year it also lands in the 15th spot in the Cost of Living category with a perfect score of 100. Live and Invest Overseas publisher Kathleen Peddicord also lists the Philippines as among the world’s cheapest places to retire on a budget of USD1,200 a month or less. Turn to page 2

Photo by Yen Baet

PHL at Home

Vol. 2 No.4 Q4 2013 Philippine Edition ISSN No.

PHL at Home

a previous holiday or business trip. Expatriates describe their life partners as the most From page 1 valuable asset in relieving the stresses of assimilating into a foreign culture and successfully living their Citing Cebu as a particular example where it is not second life in a developing country. as “too hot and too crowded” like the capital Metro However, despite all these factors, the Philippines Manila, Peddicord says the country’s biggest draw is is not as successful in attracting retirees as other the cost of living and of real estate. “Expats in Cebu come from all over the world, but neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia, or the majority are from the United States, England, and Singapore. Comparing the Philippines’ SRRV, the primary Australia, plus a few from Germany, including good carrot to foreign retirees, with similar visas offered numbers of men aged 45 to their mid-60s who’ve by Thailand and Malaysia, Magbuhat concluded that come so their pensions will stretch much further than they would back home and, often, to restart their lives Thailand’s program attracts more expatriate retirees and it could be because there is a way for foreigners to with new wives and new families,” she writes. own land in Thailand. And while Malaysia scores Best Deals The general rule is that lower in Magbuhat’s study, it still A modest house in a respectable a retiree who decides to outperforms the Philippines’ SRRV neighborhood in the capital can go resettle in another country possibly because of Malaysia’s more for as low as PhP15,000 (roughly with a culture very unlike aggressive tourism promotions. USD348) and is even cheaper his own would have The lack of travel information outside urban areas; minimum taxi experienced that country campaign outside the Philippines’ fare in capital Metro Manila is less first as a tourist. primary tourism markets like the US, than USD1; food can be purchased Japan, Korea, and China (including in retail at any corner, allowing any Hong Kong) as well as negative publicity the country budget-conscious consumer to stretch his money. gets due to weak infrastructure, natural and man-made Health care is also inexpensive in the Philippines calamities, political instability, and threats to personal and tertiary hospitals are present in major population security and terrorism could have contributed to the low centers, an aspect that will benefit retirees of a more numbers. advanced aged or with specific medical conditions Magbuhat’s paper showed that in the Philippines’ case that require a regular checkup. there is a high linkage between tourism and migration. “For me, cost of living was part of the reason I Tourism plays an important role since the general moved here,” says Davao-based businessman and rule is that a retiree who decides to resettle in another blogger Bob Martin. “Another big reason for my country with a culture unlike his own would have move was just wanting to get out and do something different. I was a bit bored with life, and wanted to do experienced that country first as a tourist. This is a particularly crucial for the Philippines where the something adventurous.” infrastructure—the international airport in the capital “I also feel that the Philippines is a great place to has been voted as among the worst in the world—and raise my kids, given the family values that are part of the workings of the bureaucracy is different from the Philippine culture,” adds Martin. more developed Western countries. Martin, his Filipino wife and their brood “It’ll be right for those who have cultural experience of three boys and two girls have been living but if you come right from the States and come here, permanently in the Philippines since 2000, a decade you’ll say: ‘Whoa what’s this?’” chuckles Gindernally, after he discovered the islands in 1990. He now who was first introduced to the Philippines as a publishes an online resource for expatriates (www. serviceman in the 1970s. “I consider the Philippines my home,” claims Martin. “I have lived here for more than 13 years, and More Work have no plans of returning to the United States.” Unfortunately, the Philippines has been unable to achieve its full potential in tourism. The 4.3 million tourists who visited the country last year—while being Determining Factors nine percent more than the previous year—is still short Aside from the reason already mentioned by Martin, what makes the Philippines a top favorite as a of the annual 4.6 million target. A 2004 study by the Philippine Institute for retirement destination are its tropical climate, English being its second language and its inherent culture that Development Studies notes that while Japan is the country’s biggest source of tourist arrivals, the respects and honors seniors. Philippines was able to capture only 1.8 percent of And as illustrated by Watkins, Gindernally, and Japan’s 20 million tourists. Martin the key to successfully migrating to the Nevertheless, the world’s rapidly ageing population Philippines is a Filipina wife whom they met either is a clear motivation for the Philippines to continue before deciding to live here permanently or while on investing in retirement villages. The Philippines already has the natural assets to attract retirees and a society welcoming of people from a different culture. A study commissioned by the Retirement and Healthcare Coalition showed that housing units are Enjoy these benefits once you are a SRR Visa Holder: already being leased to foreigners in tourist destinations 1. Option to Retire Permanently like Cebu, Bohol, Panglao, and Boracay through a You may live, work and study in the Philippines nifty marketing and booking tool: the Internet. It is the 2. Multiple Entry Privileges same tool that made Thai retirement Village Lotuswell You may travel outside the Philippines and re-enter anytime successful. 3. Exemptions from: While a number of integrated and mixed retirement • Income tax over your pension and annuities villages have been developed in the country, these are • Exit and re-entry permits of the Bureau of Immigration performing less successfully than Lotuswell. • Annual registration requirement of the Bureau of “In some points the Philippines have even better Immigration • Customs Duties and Taxes with regard to the arguments than Thailand; the closeness to the western importation of household goods and personal effects culture and the highly skilled manpower in the up to USD7,000 • Travel tax, if your stay in the Philippines is less than medical sector needs to be advertised. It’s a matter of one year from the last entry date promoting the Philippines and establishing a system • I-Card (that) will entice expatriates to come over repeatedly As an SRR Visa holder, the PRA can assist you in and eventually settle for retirement,” the study reports. obtaining basic documents from other government agencies. These include, but are not limited to: “A big step towards the success not only for • Alien Employment Permit a retirement village, but also for the country as • Driver’s License a retirement destination, would be to bring all • Tax Exemption/Extension Certificate • Tax Identification Number stakeholders together on one table and offer a proper • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance forum for the stakeholders,” it adds. “The push factors Source: are there but the pull factors need to be addressed with one voice.”

SRRV Benefits

A journalist for 17 years, Johnna Villaviray-Giolagon writes about diplomacy, security, politics, and social issues. She was an editor and columnist for The Manila Times before joining a Japanese publication in 2005. Johnna now works freelance and can be contacted through


news byte UK to double trade with RP

United Kingdom’s Trade Minister, Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint (middle) spoke before media about his visit to Manila and his vision to boost trade and investment links and to double bilateral trade between the two countries within five years. He also announced a British Embassy-led campaign called ‘This is GREAT Britain,’ a six-month celebration of the best of British business and culture, building mutual prosperity and deeper friendship with the Philippines. He was joined at the press briefing by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima (left) and British Ambassador Designate Asif Ahmad (right), along with BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Gunigundo and DTI Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr (not in photo). Earlier, Lord Green met with Trade and Investment Secretary Gregory Domingo, Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr with Secretary Purisima at the sidelines at the Philippine Economic Briefing to discuss ways forward, including a planned Philippine trade mission to the UK next month.

US bares environmental programs in ASEAN

Secretary of State John Kerry recently bared the full range of environmental programs that the United States supports during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Here are the selected few. Combating Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. To end the destructive practice of illegal logging (which costs an estimated USD10-15 billion per year in lost tax revenues worldwide) and promote forest conservation, the United States participates in the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the APEC Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. Combating Illegal Trade in Wildlife. The State Department and USAID have worked with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEANWEN) to increase the number of arrests and seizures of illegal wildlife trafficking by member states 11-fold and train more than 3,000 government officials in law enforcement techniques. Combating Climate Change.Through the Global Climate Change Initiative’s Sustainable Landscapes pillar and related projects, the U.S. government works with regional partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while conserving biodiversity, protecting watersheds, and improving livelihoods of vulnerable populations. Coral Triangle Initiative. The United States was the first partner of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF), a multilateral partnership with the goal of sustaining Southeast Asia and the Pacific Island’s marine and coastal biological resources. Green Buildings. APEC and ASEAN held a series of joint workshops, supported by APEC Technical Assistance and Training Facility (TATF), focused on improving energy efficiency of the commercial building sector and facilitating collaboration on green building in the Asia Pacific region in order to prevent standards, codes, and testing requirements from becoming obstacles to trade.

Atty. Jose ‘Pepe’ Villanueva III Publisher Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. Henry Schumacher Katrina Legarda Editorial Board Walter C. Villa Editor-at-Large Sonny Ramirez Art Director Ayvi Nicolas-Cruz Proofreader Rachel Villanueva Marketing Consultant Kristine Vinas Circulation Manager

ALL CONTENTS COPYRIGHT 2012, RESERVED for The IMMIGRANT. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in whole or in part, without the express written permission of IMMIGRA PUBLISHING, the publisher of The IMMIGRANT. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of IMMIGRA PUBLISHING. The IMMIGRANT, Suite 302, Ferros Tower, 30 Polaris Street, Bel-Air 2, Makati City, 1209 Philippines For feedback and comments, pls email The IMMIGRANT is in ISSUU. Get your e-copy at theimmigrantphilippines.

ON THE COVER: ‘Sun-kissed’ The silhouettes of Mt. San Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw tower over colorful horizon and contemplative Sampaloc Lake in San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines. Award-winning, UK-based Filipina photographer Yen Baet shot this captivating scene during a brief visit to the country. Yen, who mounted her first solo exhibit Jaiya: My Thailand, My Story in New York City last February, has been named Thomson UK’s Top 10 Travel Photographers and Pollux Awards’ Photographer of the Year for Architecture.

The Immigrant faqs

Primer on Retiree’s Visa Atty. John Dy outlines what the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) can do for you

The Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) is a government owned and controlled corporation attached with the Department of Tourism. One of PRA’s mandates is to facilitate and attract foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens to invest, reside and retire in the Philippines.

What is the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV)?

the retiree should show the PRA proof of his/her monthly pension being remitted to the Philippines. The pension must be at least USD800 for single applicants and USD1,000 for married couples. Furthermore, an additional visa deposit of USD15,000 is required per dependent in excess of two (2). The deposit made under the SRRV Classic is convertible to investments. The investment, however, must amount to at least USD50,000.

Illustration by Manix Abrera

What is the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA)?

The SRRV is a special non-immigrant visa issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) of the Republic of the Philippines under the Retirement Program of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA). The SRRV may be issued to foreigners and former Filipinos who wish to spend their retirement in the Philippines. The SRRV entitles the holder to multiple-entry privileges with the right to travel outside and re-enter the Philippines anytime.

What is SRRV Smile?

May an SRRV holder work or establish a business in the Philippines?

Yes, a SRRV holder may work in the Philippines provided that the necessary Alien Employment Permit (AEP) is obtained from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Furthermore, a SRRV holder may set up a business in the Philippines provided that it complies with the ownership requirements provided in the Philippine Constitution and existing laws.

Is it possible for foreigners who are SRRV holders to acquire land in the Philippines?

No, the Philippine Constitution prohibits foreigners from acquiring land. However, subject to foreign equity restrictions, foreigners may invest in corporations registered with the Securities and

Just the Pacs... From page 6

Until then, Pacquiao is still relevant to others, like me, and most Filipinos who’ve been following Pacquiao since the beginning of his career going back to 1995. He’s also relevant to hardcore boxing fans the world over, who discovered the Pacman in the early 2000s. Having experienced the phenomenon from the start we know that every single Pacquiao fight is a reason for your world to stop and sit yourself down in front of a big screen to take it all in. It’s boxing after all, where one punch can change the outcome. As much as I miss the younger Pacquiao, I did see flashes of it during the last fight with Marquez. It happened in the third round, when Pacquiao got decked briefly from a Marquez right hand. More embarrassed than hurt, Pacquiao stood up, and for the next two-and-a-half rounds, he was no longer Congressman Pacquiao,

Exchange Commission (SEC). The corporation may then acquire land.

What are the benefits extended by the PRA to SRRV holders?

The PRA shall help the SRRV holder to obtain basic documents (from other government agencies) such as, but not limited to, an Alien Employment Permit (AEP), Driver’s License, and Tax Identification Number (TIN). The PRA will also assist a SRRV holder with any banking matters regarding his/her investment. In addition, a SRRV holder shall be entitled to discounts from PRA’s merchant partners. Furthermore, he/she will be provided with a guide or list of hospitals and doctors for use when the need arises.

or Manny the Bible-quoting preacher, or Pacquiao the actor, TV host or celebrity. In his moment of desperation, he became the old wild child, whirling dervish Manny Pacquiao, the fighting machine battling for his very life. And what a brutally beautiful display it was, as Pacquiao shredded Marquez with blistering barrages of leather from every angle imaginable. Of course, we all know how it ended. But for seven and a half minutes, the carefree, hard charging Pacquiao of lore was back. If only he can somehow summon up the will and courage to do that against Rios in Macau, and come out a winner, and do it one or two more times after that—I know, a tall order—there will certainly be many happy fans the world over willing to make Manny relevant again. Including a certain itinerant painting salesman, whose old portrait of Pacman sitting outside the carinderia near my house will surely finally find a satisfied buyer.

Ted Lerner has lived in the Philippines for 20 years and has been involved in the local boxing scene as a writer, TV commentator and ring announcer. He is also the author of the timeless Philippine classic book, “Hey, Joe-A Slice of the City—An American in Manila,” as well as the Asian adventure travel book, “The Traveler & the Gate Checkers.” Both books are available at bookstores throughout the Philippines and online at For comments email


What SRRV options are available to potential retirees?

Potential retirees may choose from the following SRRV options: SRRV Classic, SRRV Smile, SRRV Courtesy, and SRRV Human Touch.

What is SRRV Classic?

The SRRV Classic is available to retirees (aged 35 and above). The required deposit depends upon the age of the retiree. If the retiree is 35 to 49 years old, the required visa deposit is USD50,000. If the retiree is aged 50 and above, and he is not receiving a pension, the required visa deposit is USD20,000. If he is aged 50 and above but is receiving a pension, the required visa deposit is USD10,000. In addition,

Fort North From page 14

Foodies will be glad there are many places that offer delectable Ilocano dishes such as the famous pinakbet, poque-poque, dinengdeng, as well as inventive reinterpretations and hybrids. Herencia de Paoay, just across the Paoay Church, is famous for its pinakbet (local ratatouille) and dinuguan (pork innards in swine’s blood) pizzas. On the other hand, Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant Restaurant, at the heart of Laoag City, offers the poque-poque pizza, topped with the Ilocano dish of eggplant, tomatoes, onions and eggs.

Ilocos cooks a curious kind of empanada filled with shredded papaya, longanisa and egg, delectable dipped in sugar cane vinegar.

The SRRV Smile is available to retirees (aged 35 and above). It requires a visa deposit of USD20,000. This deposit is inconvertible into investment and is intended for end of term needs and obligations of retirees. However, it may be withdrawn upon cancellation of the SRRV. Furthermore, an additional visa deposit of USD15,000 is required per dependent in excess of two (2).

What is SRRV Human Touch? The SRRV Human Touch is available to retirees (35 years old and above), who are shown to have a pre-existing condition, and is in need of medical care and services. A visa deposit of USD10,000 is required. In addition, the retiree should show the PRA proof of his/her monthly pension being remitted to the Philippines. The pension must be at least USD1,500.

What is SRRV Courtesy?

The SRRV Courtesy is available to retirees, who are former Filipinos (35 years and above), ambassadors and former diplomats (50 years and above), who Turn to page 8

The Kapurpurawan rock formations were created by forces of the ocean crashing on the rocky coast of Burgos, near the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

Another specialty is the Saramsam pasta with green and ripe mangoes, tomatoes, spring onions and bagoong (shrimp paste) sauce. Located at the corner of Rizal and Llanes Avenue in Laoag City, the Dap-ayan ti Ilocos Norte is a favorite of many, serving the Ilocos empanada, deep-fried delights filled with shredded vegetables, egg and longganisa. Try also the Laoag miki. For pasalubong, head to the market for the popular bagnet and longganisa. After all these, politics is not remembered and preconceived notions are challenged. Ilocos Norte will regale you with stories, feed your body and soul, and warm you with hospitality. Travel editor Roel Hoang Manipon is ticking off all the provinces of the Philippines in his to-go list. So far, he has done about 90 percent of the 81 entries.

Beautiful Twilight Australian expatriate Peter Wallace enumerates his to-do list for foreign retirees in the Philippines


nce you pass 50 you start to ponder retirement. At 60 it beckons attractively, and at 70—if you get that far before retiring, of course, not that other alternative—it seems the only thing to do. But whether it’s 50 or 60 or 70, your


mindset should be to never retire, just change the way you live your life. I spend time with the generals of the Philippine military and they have this absurd law that they must retire at 56, just when they’ve gained all the experience, knowledge and expertise to really be effective. Generals don’t run around

forests, they sit at desks. Anyway, they ask me: “What should we do?” They start to plan ahead, and that’s what you must do: plan ahead. Yes, you can retire to a beautiful beach somewhere and watch the sunsets—but you’ll be a sunset. By all means go find a beach, but do something. Open a marine repair shop (my choice), or a restaurant or resort. Or teach windsurfing or diving. Or write a book (I keep being pressured to do that, but has so far successfully resisted). But do something. Running along the beach may keep you alive longer, but it won’t keep your mind alive. And that’s what you must do. Be mentally active, and continuously challenge your brain. Spend your money. You really can’t take it with you. If you have extra after your adventure, the kids can have it. Unless you’re determined to create a dynasty into the far future, enjoy life. Life is about quality, not quantity. It’s nice to live long indeed (so much better than the alternative) but best to live it well. Write a bucket list, things to do before you die. Yes “die,” not “pass on.” Face reality, we are all going to die. If you accept that then you are more likely to do things you’d like to do—not feel obliged to do. Mind you we, ourselves, aren’t doing too well on our bucket list so I hope there’s still more time left before we can complete it. And “we” is an important part of retiring, having a partner to enjoy your twilight years make it all better. We haven’t retired yet ourselves—I still love to work but we do spend more time on other things. Now the big question: where do you go to spend that second life, that dream retirement? For us it’s a no-brainer: the Philipppines. I love OZ, but the lifestyle here is unbeatable. The choice of places to live in is quite wondrous. Forget Boracay,

it’s for tourists now but there are a hundred other beaches with their own splendor. There are a few mountains with wider vistas and colder climate too if that’s your preference. Or few of the best shopping malls if that’s where you’d like to be (god help us). Wherever you go you are sure to find the people very friendly, considerate and thoughtful of (old) people. One thing I’d like to see, and I believe is coming, is the bestowment of Senior Citizens cards to foreign retirees. My wife has one, and it offers a lot of privileges. It’s not so much the 20% discount, although that’s certainly nice, but the special treatment you’ll get from just about anywhere. Supermarkets and pharmacies have a special counter for you. If there is a long line somewhere the people will guide you to the front. On those days when you have to drive even though your car’s plate number falls on color-coding, when a traffic aide pulls you to the curb you are sure to get a salute, instead of a ticket. Movies are free during Thursdays in Makati, the commercial center of Metro Manila. Just a bit of socialism, we try to leave the discount we get from dining out as tip whenever we can. It’s our way of sharing our blessings to daily wage earners. It’s exciting times for foreign retirees in the Philippines. The government is set to introduce a number of changes to attract retirees which include foreign senior citizen cards, special resident retirement visas, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) scheme for a seamless update of a foreign retirees'’'" medical records in local hospitals to improve the provision of health care services for foreigners, and improvement of retirement and rehabilitation facilities. Indeed, it’s (getting) more fun in the Philippines even for foreign retirees.

Spanish Ties

etirement tourism, or retirement migration—as it is more widely known—is increasingly becoming a target of most touristic destinations. Retirees are usually middle- to high-income expats who are the perfect clients for touristic services. According to Eurostat, those aged 65 years and over will account for 29.5% of the EU-27’s population by 2060 (against 17.5% in 2011). And as the European population is ageing, immense opportunities arise for specialized services related to middleaged citizens. Spain has a long tradition of being an attractive destination for retirement migration, a trend which started in the 1960s in the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca and has expanded ever since, especially after the 1980s. Britons and Germans started the flow, and Swedes and other Scandinavians soon followed suit. In fact, Spain has constantly been among the top retirement destinations in the world in the past decades. For instance, in the “World’s Top 10 Retirement Havens” compiled by International Living magazine, Spain has recurrently been among the ten best destinations. In the 2013 classification, it ranked 8th but ranked first among European countries. Meanwhile, the Philippines ranked 15th, which reflects the enormous potential of this country and the possibilities of cooperation between Spain and the Philippines in this area. There are several factors which have contributed to the development of retirement migration in Spain and which could also serve as indications in the case of the Philippines. First, a mild climate and a welcoming population. This is also shared by the Philippines, whose people are really warm and helpful. “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is not only a successful slogan, but a reality: foreigners, not only from neighboring Asian countries, but also from Europe and the US, really feel comfortable in the Philippines. Cultural, social and language factors add to the natural kind character of the Filipino people.

THE DIPLOMAT By H.E. Jorge Domecq, Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines

Second, good transport infrastructure and communications. Although expats can opt for distant destinations to spend their retirement, they usually want to have the feeling that, if needed, they can easily return to their countries of origin, whether to spend a few months of the year, or for family or business reasons. The excellent infrastructure network in Spain has tremendously facilitated touristic flows and retirement migration. In the case of the Philippines, apart from the infrastructure improvements that are planned, more direct, frequent and inexpensive flights should be facilitated if the Philippines wants to attract not only Japanese or Korean retirees, but also citizens from Europe or North America. Finally, adequate healthcare services. The Spanish health system is widely recognized as one of the best in the world, and the World Health Organization ranked it as the 7th best health system in the world in 2000. Mechanisms like the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) have enabled foreign residents to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Spain at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free when on a temporary stay, and technological telemedicine solutions have allowed high quality with reduced fixed costs. The Philippines could well create a system of incentives to develop medical centers located in top tourist destinations; these could enhance their competitiveness in attracting citizens who might require constant or easily accessible medical care. Perhaps foreign doctors could be granted authorization to practice in those centers, but at the same time many employment opportunities could be created for Filipino people, who are particularly renowned for their professionalism in the caregiving sector. Everybody recognizes the potential of the Philippines as a tourist destination. Improving its potential as a retirement migration destination would increase revenues, reduce seasonality and create even more employment opportunities for the Filipino people. Surely Spain will be glad to contribute to that goal.


Just the Pacs, Man Is Manny Pacquiao still relevant? Book author and boxing commentator Ted Lerner lists down the reasons


Illustration by Sonny Ramirez


n the sidewalk outside a raggedy looking carinderia (eatery) a few blocks from my house, a street seller daily peddles a few paintings. Each morning he displays his wares and, for the last several years, it’s always the same forlorn collection: a galleon ship, a naked lady, some historical European guy with a beard, and a shirtless, stern looking Manny Pacquiao, muscle-bound arms folded, staring at passing pedestrians as if to say, ‘I’m going to bash your head in punk!’ As I walked past the makeshift stall the other day something struck me about that painting of the great fighting Filipino. Like all of the peddler’s items, the portrait of Pacquiao has been sitting there for sale for over two years. How quickly times have changed. Even just three or four years ago, that painting would’ve surely been as hot a seller as the lugaw, mongo and pinakbet that gets doled out inside the eatery every day at lunch. And with the media circus gearing up for Pacquiao’s next fight, this one on November 24 in Macau against American slugger Brandon Rios, I wondered; Is Manny Pacquiao still must-watch TV for sports fans around the globe? Is Manny Pacquiao still relevant? Before I attempt to answer that question, we might as well cut right to the heart of the matter. Yes we have to face the cold, hard facts. The awesome, carefree, hard-living, wild child fighting machine that first swept through the Philippines in the mid to late 1990s, then Asia, then the US and eventually the entire world, is gone, never to come back. Sure, you might see that phenomenal fighting force in spurts against Rios, whose style is made for the hard-charging Pacquiao. But the entire package that wowed so many the world over for years? Forget about it. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Pacquiao of legend. Four years to be exact, going back to his destruction of Miguel Cotto in November 2009. Since then it’s been a fairly steady decline: three fights where he couldn’t knock out questionable opponents, a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez where nearly everyone except the judges thought he lost, a lacklustre performance in a disputed loss to Tim Bradley, then getting viciously knocked unconscious in the 6th round by old nemesis Marquez. What happened? Well, on the surface Pacquiao’s decline is nothing more than what has happened to every fighter going back to the beginnings of modern day boxing in the late 1800s. The fight game is a brutal way to make a living. Whether it be the gruelling training or the fights themselves, professional boxing extracts a tremendous toll on the physical and mental well-being of even the greatest fighters. Father time catches up with ALL boxers. One of the things that I’ve always loved about Pacquiao is his willingness to challenge the best fighters out there, and then go into the ring with all guns ablaze. Pacquiao, though, is now 34 years old and has been doing it like this for nearly 20 years, which is an eternity in boxing.

Any boxer the world over will tell you that if you want to compete and win at the highest levels of this brutal blood sport, you have to be all in. You can’t be a parttime boxer. Part-time boxers usually become full-time losers in the ring. And don’t forget that since he moved up to welterweight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008, Pacquiao has absorbed punishment from guys who were sometimes 15 to 20 pounds bigger than him come fight night. Even in victory, the body pays a heavy, long-term price. Still, while the physical decline of Pacquiao has been inevitable, when this downward trend comes wholly as a result from boxing at the highest levels, it’s truly understandable and even admirable. But Pacquiao’s woes in the ring haven’t just come from ageing and this is where my interest in the Pacman has certainly flagged. I’m referring to Pacquiao’s entrance into politics. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pacquaio’s decline in the ring started about the same time that he decided to enter into the sordid world of Philippine politics. Pacquiao had plenty of distractions before politics, but the acting, basketball, allnight pool playing, and gambling were all just diversions. Politics is not a diversion.

Politics is all-encompassing. With power to consolidate and constituents constantly needing help, politics is a full time job. Any boxer the world over will tell you that if you want to compete and win at the highest levels of this brutal blood sport, you have to be all in. You can’t be a part-time boxer. Part-time boxers usually become full-time losers in the ring. Pacquiao, of course, has always maintained that he can multitask, but I believe that the results of the last four years, and the last year especially, speak for themselves. Having known, followed and loved the ‘old’ wild Pacquiao from the very start of his career, I admit to being dismayed by his entrance into politics. It may be as responsible for his decline as are ageing and the physical demands of boxing. I feel he may have thrown away the last few years of his stellar career. So am I saying that Manny Pacquiao is no longer relevant? The answer to that question, of course, depends on who you are and what part of the world you come from.

If you are the average boxing fan, meaning the occasional fan who plunks down USD70 only for the can’t-miss “mega-fights”, then the answer is ‘yes’ but qualified with a ‘maybe not.’ ‘Yes’ because the once-in-a-while boxing fan will not pay big bucks to watch Pacquiao’s fight with Rios. They are paying to watch Mayweather beat no-hopers but they won’t pony up to see Pacquiao anymore. When the masses of casual sports fans have lost interest—and they are the biggest audience out there—you have become irrelevant… to them. Pacquiao can turn this around, of course, by looking absolutely spectacular in his fight with Rios, and then perhaps in his next fight against another name opponent like Bradley. Then he will become relevant amongst those masses of casual sports fans again. Perhaps that’s when he can finally fight Mayweather. But considering all the downside we’ve just gone over, this kind of scenario presents very long odds indeed. Turn to page 4


A Natural High Vertical Garden Living at the Heart of Ayala Center


hen people think of cities, they envision landmarks, monuments and towers that embody the ideals and lifestyles of its people. In the meantime, gardens evoke a sense of privacy and serenity, an abundant refinement and communion with nature. Both are endeared for a variety of reasons; both create a definitive essence of the place. So when a city’s gateway, the most visible and valued location, is marked by a 51-storey residential tower with charming pocket of gardens in every floor, you can’t help but smile and be proud of the city’s continuing growth and evolution. Ayala Land Premier celebrates Makati City with the Garden Towers, a twocolumn community soon to rise in a prime commercial area to establish Ayala Center’s multibillion-peso redevelopment. Raising the residential condominium experience to a new level, the Garden Towers will fulfill an exciting promise: a new, greater Glorietta with world-class hotel row which includes Fairmont Makati & Raffles Suites and Holiday Inn Suites. Garden Towers enriches this enviable lifestyle setting with thoughtfully planned atmosphere replete with open space and expansive gardens seamlessly connected to Glorietta’s Palm Promenade. Be it work or play, Garden Towers has amenities for its residents: fitness facilities are open round the clock and while

meeting rooms are available during office hours upon prior reservation.

Sky Gardens and Sunrooms

Themes of natural light and air consistently show up at Garden Towers. From the fifth floor up, sky gardens offer a remarkable new concept in indooroutdoor environment. Residents enjoy an invigorating park experience—greens, fresh air, and expansive horizons—high above the city. From the living room of Garden Towers 1- and 2- bedroom units, residents enjoy a special connection to the lovely urban view just by opening the terrace’s sliding door. In place of the traditional balcony is a new sunroom concept—an all-weather indoor-outdoor space, with floor-toceiling glass enclosure which gives you an exceptional feeling of lightness. Read, work, or meditate on the balcony: the weather-proof wood and provisions make all these activities a unique experience while being in touch with nature in Garden Towers’ Sky Flats and Sky Villas. Discover the myriad dimensions of the city, nature and your self. The Garden Towers is your personal sanctuary in Metro Manila’s chicest, most happening neighborhood. Everything you love about living in Makati City, nurtured by nature and everything your heart desires.



The Joy of Flight Photographs by Walter C. Villa/Grooming by Arlene Adto

Walter C. Villa shares the thoughts of arguably the most influential personality in Philippine aviation


V host-producer, pilot, traveler, and aviation industry big cheese Capt. Joy Roa pulls no punches when asked to recall his beginnings. “I was not very good in college; I was very naughty in school,” Joy reveals. “I took up all the courses in Ateneo. I was the teachers’ favorite. They kicked me out of my course every semester.” Joy consequently earned his Interdisciplinary Studies degree in 1977 but his sight was already set on higher ground. “I always wanted to fly. Back then I did not have enough money to finish flying,” says Joy, who started tinkering with an old plane and restoring it to its flying glory. “I did a lot of Super Cubs,” tells Joy, referring to the iconic Piper PA-18 two-seat,

single-engine seaplane introduced in 1949. “I looked up the plane’s history and sold them with a history. While the economy was bad, I was exporting a number of airplanes.” In 1978 Joy completed his commercial pilot course in Manila. Four years later he finished Operation and Management for Aerial Advertising in California to become the pioneer in airplane towed banner ads in the Philippines. He did the works, even the acrobatic smoky thing back in 1983, the year Air Ads, Joy’s aviation company, was born. One by one Joy started to build his aerial fleet. From a single plane for flying friends to Baguio, Mindoro or the then still-unknown Boracay, Joy’s company grew to as many as 40 aircrafts of varying capacity offering not just missionary flights to remote destinations but also executive charters, aircraft sales, spares and accessories, maintenance and Hangarage, aircraft restoration and refurbishing, ground handling of international flights, corporate planning, and aviation management and consultancy.

Hot Pursuits

Joy’s passion for flying led him to organizing the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, a weekend in Clark Special Economic Zone (the former American airbase in Pampanga) that features everything that flies— from aeromodeling, aircraft precision competition, gliders, hot-air balloon, kiteflying, paragliding, skydiving as well as rescue demonstrations. Now on its 18th year, it’s the longest balloon event in Asia and puts the Philippines in the world aviation map. Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be any 19th come January, Joy’s birthday month, as he decided to take a hiatus. “We started the balloon fiesta to fuel the youth’s passion for flying,” says Joy.

Primer on Retiree’s From page 4

previously served in the Philippines, and retirees of international organizations, among others. A visa deposit of USD1,500 is required. Furthermore, an additional visa deposit of USD15,000 is required per dependent in excess of two (2) except for former Filipino retirees.

Where do you file the application and how much is the application fee?

All applications must be filed at the PRA office in Makati City, Philippines. The application fee for the principal applicant is USD1,400. The applicant’s spouse

and dependent will be charged USD300 each. This is a one-time charge. One can also file his/her application online through

Is there an annual fee to be paid?

Yes. There is an annual fee of USD360 for the principal and two (2) dependents upon enrollment and every year thereafter. An additional annual fee of USD100 shall be paid for each dependent in excess of two (2). SRRV retirees, who qualify for the SRRV Courtesy product, shall pay an annual fee of USD10. Please note that the annual fee together with the application fee must be paid prior to lodging the application.

OF FLIGHTS AND PLIGHTS. Roa and his tight circle of friends from the aviation industry promote volunteerism in the community near the former Clark Airbase for almost two decades with the annual aviation show.

“And we have to start with the kids and we can’t put them in a classroom and lecture them. And if we succeed we hope to see the aviation industry move forward.” However, after 18 years Joy lamented that he may have failed to impart the spirit of community volunteerism he had been espousing since the festival’s inception as the local government units and agencies involved with it allegedly failed to see beyond profits. “Selflessness more than selfishness,” stresses Joy. “The question shouldn’t be what profits can I get but what can I contribute to the community.”

Next Chapter

In 2008 Joy inadvertently became a TV producer and star of Asian Air Safari, a travel cum aviation show about his adventure as a jet-setting pilot traversing islands, oceans, and continents. It all started when Joy contributed a travel essay about his weekend trip to a local broadsheet. The editor encouraged him to come out with another but this time to accompany it with photographs, which consequently became videos—taken by consumer camcorders. He wasn’t too happy with the initial results so he bought a professional video camera and an editing machine.

What are the general documentary requirements for the principal SRRV applicant?

1. Accomplished SRRV Form 2. Payment of Application Fee/Annual Fee 3. Medical Certificate 4. Police Clearance (from the country of origin/last residence) 5. NBI Clearance 6. Bank Certification of Inward Remittance with a PRA designated bank 7. Original Passport with a Valid Entry Visa 8. Proof of Relationship for Dependents Joining the Application (i.e. Marriage and/or Birth Certificate) 9. Twelve pieces 2x2 ID photos

“While trying to look for perfection, we ended up with so many things,” recalls Joy. Then he walked into ABSCBN, not knowing anyone, and presented his production demo tape. He got an offer to come in only as blocktimer for an exhorbitant price and after much consideration and encouragement from his friends, he signed up. “Well, I spent more money on other crazy things,” Joy continues. “When I met other ABS-CBN newscasters in the studio recently, they told me about their running bet that I would only last for two or three episodes and how they are amazed I lasted nine seasons.” Joy thanks his friends from the aviation industry across the world who continue to host his visits—39 countries, 145 cities and counting. “No one can produce a show such as ours,” claims Joy. “Everywhere we go my friends would like to host me. Everywhere we go we use up to three planes to shoot our flying scene. I am not rich, and we don’t have many sponsors but my friends want me to achieve my aviation goal.” “Aviation is very good, very safe, very easy anywhere around the world but the Philippines. But if I can do an aviation show in the Philippines, it just shows that nothing is impossible.”

Please note that all documents obtained abroad should be translated to English, if necessary, and authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consular Office.

What are the tax implications of a SRRV holder?

Once the retiree actually resides in the Philippines and is issued an SRRV, he is deemed a resident alien under Philippine tax laws and he shall be subject to the payment of taxes if any income is to be earned from sources within the Philippines. To become a registered taxpayer in the Philippines, the retiree must apply for the issuance of a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Atty. John Dy is a practicing lawyer and a lecturer at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Law.





All Stems Go Still clueless about stem cell therapy? Ramil Digal Gulle gives the 411

f you are a foreigner considering stem cell therapy, then the Philippines has several options available to you— at a much lower price compared to getting the treatment in Germany or some other place in Europe. The IMMIGRANT is providing this quick guide for those who may be considering stem cell therapy.

What is stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy is just one of several cellular therapies that use medical technology to treat illnesses at the cellular level. Instead of administering drugs to a patient, the doctor instead uses processed stem cells—harvested, isolated, and grown in a laboratory— and infuses these in a patient’s body or directly into a diseased organ.

The theory behind stem cell therapy is pretty straightforward but first of all, we must understand the nature of stem cells. Stem cells are classified as “nondifferentiated” or “non-specialized” cells. Amazingly, stem cells have the capacity— once they are activated—to turn into any type of cell in our body. They can turn into brain cells, lung cells, eye cells, skin cells, heart cells, pancreatic cells, etc.— they are responsible for the development of our organs while in the womb. Scientists discovered that even as adults, humans still possess stem cells (but in a dormant state) in our bodies. The theory goes that if we can harvest and activate these stem cells, we can use them to a) heal diseased organs; and b) rejuvenate our bodies to restore youthfulness.

What illnesses and conditions is stem cell therapy used for?

There are two broad categories where stem cell therapy is applied: a) Pathological conditions; and b) Aesthetic/Anti-aging treatments. Of these two, it’s the latter that is being used most often in the Philippines and other countries where aesthetic and anti-aging medicine are practiced. There are reports of patients with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses getting benefits—less tremors, clearer thinking, more energy and stamina, being able to stand up and walk after being bedridden or wheelchair-bound, etc. However, there are also reports of patients who do not get any benefit at all. If you, as a patient, avail of it, you will be told by your doctors that it is currently an “alternative” form of treatment that is outside of standard medical protocol. More importantly, you will be informed that there’s no guarantee that it will work for you. In other words, if you are a patient with a serious illness like cancer (not leukemia), diabetes with complications, or a degenerative nervous system disorder, you are essentially taking your chances with stem cell therapy. You could benefit from it substantially, or it could do nothing for your condition, except maybe increase your energy, stamina, and lessen symptoms.

The theory goes that if we can harvest and activate these stem cells, we can use them to heal diseased organs and rejuvenate our bodies to restore youthfulness. What about stem cell therapy for aesthetic or anti-aging concerns?

Many patients who underwent stem cell therapy for aesthetic or anti-aging reasons report more youthful vigor, greater energy and stamina, wrinkles disappearing, smoother and younger skin, etc. One of the most outspoken beneficiaries of stem cell therapy in the Philippines is actor Albert Martinez, who at 52 years old looks like he’s in his early to midthirties if you meet him in person. Martinez cautions, however, that stem cell therapy alone will not produce amazingly youthful results. He still recommends a healthy lifestyle: maintaining a good diet, regular exercise, etc. “If you continue to abuse your body, then not even stem cell therapy can help you,” he said.

Is stem cell therapy safe?

The Philippine’s Department of Health (DOH), in fact, has issued guidelines prohibiting the use of animal cells for therapy in humans. According to the DOH, only three sources of stem cells are safe for use in humans: human bone marrow, human peripheral blood, and human umbilical cord blood. The DOH bans the use of stem cells harvested from human embryos. The DOH also bans the use of animal stem cells due to risks of allergic reactions, other immune reactions, and the possibility of animal-to-human infections like what happened in SARS, bird-flu, etc.

Doctors are also generally in agreement that using stem cells harvested from the patient’s body is the best, safest method. Stem cells taken from the patient’s own body pose no risk of infection and no danger of allergic or immune reactions.

Where do I get stem cell therapy in the Philippines?

The Department of Health announced that it will be issuing regulations on the use of stem cell therapy in the Philippines. It also reported that it has accredited only 14 medical facilities, including hospitals and clinics, to perform stem cell therapy. As of this writing, however, the DOH has yet to release its list of accredited facilities. Two of the Philippines’ biggest and most advanced tertiary hospitals are the Makati Medical Center and The Medical City. Both of these have dedicated facilities for stem cell and other cellular therapies, which are classified under the field of “Regenerative Medicine.” Both of these hospitals have invested hundreds of millions of pesos in medical equipment, medical specialists, technicians and even scientists, in establishing their Regenerative Medicine laboratory and treatment facilities. They offer treatments for both pathological and aesthetic/anti-aging cases. Obviously, getting stem cell therapy from these hospitals would also cost more, compared to say, getting it from a smaller clinic. A small clinic, though, would be able to provide stem cell therapy treatment provided that it has the proper equipment and personnel.

The Department of Health explained that the “right equipment” should include an operating room for the extraction of the stem cells and the infusion of the processed stem cells later on. There should also be adequate emergency equipment, i.e. defibrillators in cases of cardiac arrest, etc. and even an ambulance for transporting the patient to a hospital. If you are a medical traveler, you would also need to arrange your accommodations in the Philippines during your stem cell sessions. Your particular condition, be it cancer, Parkinson’s, etc. would also entail more specialized accommodations.

How much is stem cell therapy in the Philippines?

There are no official figures to answer this question. My research shows that the prices range from about PhP150,000 to PhP800,000 per session depending on the facility and—as doctors point out— also depending on a patient’s condition. One doctor reportedly charges up to a million pesos for one session, although I have not personally verified this. Stem cell therapy is getting a lot of hype these days—but as with any medical procedure, patients must be proactive in conducting their research so they can find the safest, most effective, and most affordable option for them. Also, patients with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses are advised to undergo stem cell procedures under the supervision of their primary physicians.

( (Disclaimer: The information above is not meant to replace the advice of your ur primary physician. It is presented simply as a guide for fur further research on the part of patients and readers. The Medical City and Makati Medical Center are mentioned as part of the writer’s research. These facilities have not extended any remuneration to the writer in exchange for their mention in this feature.)

Photo courtesy of The Medical City

What’s the science behind stem cell therapy?

good company Tina and Rupert Jacinto

Resorts World AVP for entertainment Sviatlana Burkun, Resorts World VP for entertainment Colin Kerr and Resorts World AVP for Sponsorships Ana Chua

The official toast led by Marriott Manila GM Bruce Winton, Spanish Ambassador H. E. Jorge Domecq, Guest Chef Victor Burgos and RWM SVP and Chief Hotel Operations Officer Scott Sibley

Gastronomia de España


Flamenco Dancers flown in all the way from Spain

Our contributing society editor Maurice Arcache shows us how to fiesta!

t was a truly fun and exciting night, Spanish style, dahlings with an endless flow of tapas, wines and the always fascinating and heart pumping Flamenco dancers held at the popular Marriott Hotel Manila’s Gastronomia de España, a month long Spanish food festival. Guest chef Victor Burgos of Valladolid Spain, tickled the taste buds as we couldn’t get enough of mouthwatering jamon Iberico, jamon Serran, olives, manchego cheese, paella, chorizos, pintxos, churros, arroz con leche and other Spanish delights. Era incredible divino. Flamenco dancers who were jetted in from Spain gave their strong, graceful performance stomping their percussive footwork Celebrity Host and Model Bianca Valerio

with intricate hand and fab body movements. Now that dance really deserves a wow, mi amigos! Arriba band and Primo, a renowned trio from Resorts World Manila, played the background Spanish music while Bodegas Hidalgo brought the sangria and wines that kept everyone in Ole! mood. I tell you dahling, not very long, everyone was shouting “Viva España.” Naturellemente it had to be the Marriott Hotel Manila to give us a flashback of what Spain is all about. Que si? (as in di bala? dahlings) For more info on Marriott Hotel Manila, call 988.9999 or check out @marriottmanila on Twitter and Facebook.

Ecolab General Manager Hermie Limbo with wife Karen, and Marriott Manila’s Sales Manager Cecil Quidric

Resorts World Director for Marketing Communications Gerald Magtoto, Marriott Manila Sr. Designer Jane Manzanero, Resorts World Chief Integrated Marketing Officer Martin Paz and LifestyleAsia Magazine managing editor PJ Cana

Phoemela Baranda and Anton Zamora

CEO for Capitalwise Morgan Say and Fox Sports Reporter/Host Jannena Chan

Marriott Manila Executive Chef Meik Brammer, Marriott Manila Director of Revenue Catherine Ona and Impressions Executive Chef Cyrille Soenen

Fuego Hotel’s Managing Director Alfredo Roca, Guest Chef Victor Burgos, Grace Glory Go, Marriott Manila Director of Communications Michelle Garcia and Marita Rufino



That beat up, travel journal you’ve been keeping with you in your journeys now has a kindred spirit in Alunsina Hardbound Books, which comes in coptic-bound books, hand-bound leather journals and leather accessories. The brand is named after Alunsina, a goddess of the Tumandok, an indigenous group in Panay, south of the Philippines. Prices begin at PhP500. Available at AC+632 and FIRMA. www.


From Travelife Magazine: Publisher Christine Cunanan, Sales Director Irynn Constante and General Manager Gel Bayona

Gifts for All Seasons

Patty Laurel, Michelle Garcia and Amber Davis

Arlene Sipat, Michelle Garcia and Sari Jorge

Sparrow began as a dream of two friends, makeup artist Cathy Cantada Dizon, and entrepreneur Isabel Dizon, who want to create fragrance that awakens the senses and evokes memories of love and hope. The result is Sparrow which is available in Eau de Toilette (PhP599) in scents of Love Song, Sunrise, Feather Sky, Faith, and Summer Solstice. Also available in Room and Linen Fragrances (PhP799) in Nest, Grasslands, Home Sweet Home, and Breakfast in Bed. Available in Belle & Cat Nail and Wax Studio located at 131 G/F Sterling Centre, Esteban corner Dela Rosa Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City and

Think bespoke, think unique, and think Filipino—these artisanal items will be as relevant, and as beautiful, in the years to come. Lifestyle editor Geolette Esguerra writes down her favorites This small Monogram service by Ina Morales and Julia Morales developed into a fulltime monogram shop and service for home and kitchen accessories. In Oliver & Maude (O&M) They make use of a variety of materials like Plexiglass Acrylic, wood, leather, and fabric. Since all items are made-to-order, they need no showroom or physical shop; with the two owners preferring to keep the operations simple and low key. Email

wheels stuff

The Art of Arrival

There’s never been a better time for the entry of Rolls Royce and Bentley on Philippine shores. Seasoned motoring editor James Deakin points out the reasons


ou know you have arrived as a country when the BBC no longer has to use Hong Kong as the nearest landmark when referring to you. Or you can still make international news for anything other than super typhoons, flooding and attempts at overthrowing your government. Or when brands like Rolls Royce and Bentley appoint official distributors and open up dealerships. Seeing we can tick at least two of those three boxes, the Philippines, it would seem, has arrived. This is great, of course, but a third world country that relies heavily on foreign aid and humanitarian relief funds, now being given the distributorship for two of the world’s most iconic brands for wealth and luxury? #awkward. We know there’s a market here, sure, but unless the world only communicates on Facebook and countries can edit their

For the woman in your life who deserves only the best, try Lally Dizon’s Una Piedra collection of exotic skins like python and alligator leather from South America. Along with the trapezoidal-shaped clutches, the collection also comes with the Linea Cuff in various finishes. Croc clutches from PhP35,000 to PhP45,000; cuffs from PhP7,000 to PhP14,000. Available at Vintage Restore, White Plains and Makati; and Cura V in Power Plant Mall, Rockwell.

privacy settings and ‘block’ people like the World Bank and Foreign Aid from seeing this––much in the same way we choose what photos we share with our bosses, clients or employees––when the time comes for the hand out, isn’t it a bit like sending your butler to pick up your welfare check? And then there’s the timing. Opening a Rolls Royce or Bentley dealership at the height of the pork barrel scandal is like opening an underwater world in Marikina during Ondoy. Naturally there was no way of knowing this when working on the distributorship, but I’m sure the dealer may have wished that his bespoke Rolls Royce offered hindsight on the options list. But as ridiculous as it all sounds, I say yes. There’s never been a better time. The Philippines has arrived. Make no mistake about it. Rolls Royce sees it. Bentley sees it. Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Porsche and Jaguar see it.

Even Volkswagen, who has just launched again, sees it. It is time we do, too. All we’re missing is transparency. The Philippine automotive industry has never been better. We’re heading for another banner year and brands like these, however bespoke, create a halo around the industry that marketing alone just can’t buy. It’s confidence. It’s respect. It’s a seal of approval. It’s sign that we’ve arrived. Many feel that such opulence and luxury is not only unnecessary, but a slap in the face of the Filipino people, especially the poor. As a motoring columnist I’m not well-placed to tackle the problem of tax evasion and ill-gotten wealth on these column inches, but I can tell you that the real slap in the face here is to NOT spend that money but send that money, ill-gotten or otherwise, overseas so that they can buy these same products outside and support other governments and their people.

Let’s not confuse the issue here. Luxury cars are not the enemy. If the BIR could just collect their taxes properly, there would be no need for these buyers to be ashamed of indulging themselves because spending is the only way to circulate the money. In fact, provided customs and BIR do their jobs, in theory, you should walk up to a luxury car owner and shake his or her hand. He most likely paid more tax on that car than you or I earn in our entire careers. So once again, as insensitive as it may seem, I say that there has never been a better time. There’s never been a better time to stop pretending we’re a poor country. There’s never been a better time to flaunt our wealth to attract more rather than hide it in exchange for handouts. There’s an art to arriving, and there’s never been a better time to ‘arrive.’ And what better way than in a Rolls Royce or Bentley.

An endeavor which began as an experiment by Raqs Regalado and Ohm David, Raqsified introduces innovative craftsmanship by challenging the traditional use of materials (like cassette tapes and such) with the intent of helping minimize carbon footprint. By repurposing objects that people take for granted and turning them into fashionable and functional items, the brand sets itself apart from other creators. Cassette tape holder at PhP850. or +632-920-6958058

Amina Aranaz-Alunan creates beautiful handbags and accessories proudly made in the Philippines, using fine local materials and handiwork. Aranaz bags seek to “de-ethnicize the ethnic” while proceeding to combine native materials like mother of pearl, coconut shell, wood beads, with modern materials like crystals, stones, luxurious fabrics, and leather. Available at Power Plant and Greenbelt 5. Designed by Paul Syjuco, a GIA-trained gemologist and jewelry designer, Aum Jewels (pronounced om) provides fine jewelry with a unique perspective. While he accepts commissions for bespoke jewelry, you can also bring stones or jewelry for redesigning. He also offers ready pieces in the store. For special pieces, he finds inspiration from memories and impressions. Available at the Main Lobby of TriNoma or Firma at Greebelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati.


A UNESCO World Heritage site and a Philippine National Treasure, the church in Paoay is noteworthy for its unique architecture called “earthquake Baroque.”

Fort North First there are ancient churches, then the slew of other sensuous delights. Ilocos Norte lures you with its heritage and culture. Roel Hoang Manipon writes


Photos by Donald Tapan

he lowlands flanking the Cordillera mountain range have a generally arid quality but many things here are on heightened levels, especially in the Ilocos region at the western side. Hemmed in by the South China Sea at the northeastern Philippines, the occasional typhoons can be furious but the summers are always hotter than the rest of the country. The historic revolts were bloody and the volatile politics bloodier. The severity of the land and life has made the Ilocanos, the dominant ethnic group in northern Luzon, hardy and resilient, but not altogether conquered or disillusioned. In Ilocos Norte, they are welcoming, and the traveler, who is open for possibilities, will discover richness in culture and will have experiences that can be unique from other places in the Philippines, shaped by the land itself which once lured ancient traders who came for gold and which nurtured nationally known revolutionaries and politicians. Heritage and history are at once the main attractions of the province. Laoag, the capital city, is the gateway to Ilocos Norte, and Museo Ilocos Norte is a deeper introduction to it. Near the Provincial Capitol, the museum, a landmark in itself being a former warehouse for tobacco which the region is known for, is the repository of Ilocano heritage and culture. Another interesting museum, which is in the town of Batac, is the ancestral house containing the memorabilia of Ferdinand Marcos, the authoritarian president of the country and one of the province’s most famous sons. A mausoleum houses his refrigerated remains. Churches are the most visible heritage structures in the country, and Ilocos Norte is studded with monumental ones. The most popular is the Saint Augustine Church in the town of Paoay. Built in 1894 by Augustinian friars using a fusion of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental architecture, the church was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Philippine National Treasure. Try not to miss the 16th century Saint Andrew Church in Bacarra; the Santa Monica Church in Sarrat, the largest in the region; and the Saint William Cathedral of Laoag City. The belfry of the Saint William Cathedral is found to be more interesting than the church itself and is located 85 meters away. Built in 1612, the 45-meter high bell tower is considered the tallest structure in the region and sinks at least an inch every year, having been erected on soft ground. One of the oldest lighthouses and the most visited in the country is the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in the northern town of Burgos. Completed in 1892, it sits on top of Vigia de Nagparitan Hill and is still functioning. There are more recent structures but no less interesting. The so-called Malacañang of the North overlooking Paoay Lake was a rest house of former President Ferdinand Marcos, one of the

Once a rest house of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the so-called Malacañang of the North, has become a tourist spot because of its history and location overlooking the Paoay Lake.

The wind turbines that generate electricity has become a tourist curiosity at Bangui Bay.


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29 summer residences he built during his term. Now, the 1977 mansion contains Marcos memorabilia. The fourth longest bridge in the Philippines, the 1.3-kilometer Patapat Viaduct connects the Maharlika Highway from Laoag to the Cagayan Valley Region and affords a view of the Paselang Bay. The Bangui Wind Farm, the first in Southeast Asia, has 15 turbines about 70 feet tall lined along the nine-kilometer stretch of beach along Bangui Bay. The wind farm produces 74,482 megawatts of electricity annually. A curiosity, it is also visited for the beach. In Currimao, Sitio Remedios is a charming resort with six ancestral houses, gathered together and furnished with vintage Ilocano furniture for guests who love heritage. Ilocos Norte is not only for the contemplative and geeky types who love history and heritage. For beach bums, the town of Pagudpod is famous for its white sand shore, divided into three beaches—Pansian, Maira-ira and Saud. The last one is the most popular with a cluster of resorts to cater excursionists. The province is perhaps the only one to have deserts, or something close to it, in the country. On the outskirts of Laoag, one finds the 52-square mile La Paz Sand Dunes, where scenes from Born on the Fourth of July, Mad Max and many Filipino films were shot. Recently, people are coming to try the curious sport of sand boarding, which involves riding across or down a dune while standing with both feet strapped to a board. The Laoag Eco-Adventure Development (LEAD) Movement is operating the sand boarding activities. Hike around the Currimao Rock Formations and marvel at intriguing formations that stretch along most of the town’s coastline. Or trek around the Paoay Lake National Park and commune with nature. Turn to page 4

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