Connect with us


Hungry for art? Your next inspired getaway should be in Vienna

Zee Lifestyle editor-at-large Melo Esguerra celebrates art–both modern and classic–in a recent visit to Vienna, Austria.

For hundreds of years, Vienna was a center of intellectual and artistic life. Now, the city that reinvented modernity is the vanguard again, further reinventing itself as a 21st century hub of contemporary design and earning the title of the art set’s newest capital. Upon the invitation of my dear friend, artist and curator Bogomir Doringer, I came to Vienna for the second time this year. This time, I was lucky to have stayed inside the Museums Quarter Wien, more commonly known as MQ.

Being one of the largest culture and art complexes in the world, MQ is a destination for culture seekers. You could spend an entire day diving into the vibrant sprawl of renowned museums, exhibitions halls and art spaces–which is exactly what I did.

The Imperial City Stables were constructed in the beginning of the 18th century, and later was adapted into trade fair and exhibition grounds. With its grand opening in 2001, the Museums Quarter is nearly 300 years in the making.

Today, there are baroque buildings and contemporary architecture. Cultural facilities in every shape and size represent a variety of art sectors that merge and coalesce to form a scintillatingly contrasting whole.

Melo admiring the Egon Schiele exhibit at the Leopold Museum

Melo admiring the Egon Schiele exhibit at the Leopold Museum


The Leopold Museum is home to one of the largest collections of modern Austrian art. It is an impressive treasure trove of Viennese art nouveau, the Vienna Workshop, Classical Modernism and the Expressionist period. Here you can find art by Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl and the world’s largest collection of masterpieces by Egon Schiele.

It was the first time I found myself immersed in the work of Schiele, who is the protege of Gustav Klimt. I was bedazzled, bewitched and hypnotized by Schiele’s art, where sex is beautiful and the body poetic.


On the opposite corner building from The Leopold Museum is the MUMOK, which stands for the Museum of Modern Art Foundation Ludwig. The MUMOK houses a collection of around 9,000 modern and contemporary pieces. These span through classic Modernism, Pop Art Fluxus and Viennese Actionism to present-day film and media art. Major pieces include works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Claes Oldenburg, Franz West, Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell and Gerhard Richter.

I had come to MUMOK at the right time. Europe’s biggest dance festival, the IMPULSRANZ (the Vienna International Dance Festival) had a performance by Peaches and Keith Henessy at the museum. Together with their 25 performers, all participants of their workshop, Peaches and Keith performed “Critical Joy.” Afterwards, they spread their weirdness, queerness and divisiveness to the rest of the world from the MQ main court!

Melo admires the AJNHAJTCLUB exhibit, which celebrated migrant workers in Vienna

Melo admires the AJNHAJTCLUB exhibit, which celebrated migrant workers in Vienna


At the Frei Raun Q21 exhibition space at MQ was an exhibition tackling an important contemporary issue: immigration. Bogomir curated the AJNHAJTCLUB, a celebration of migrant workers. These are the men and women who came from Yugoslavia (now Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia, and Herzegovina) to work in Austria, half a century ago.

The collection of paintings at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

The collection of paintings at the Kunsthistorisches Museum


A few steps from the MQ is the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Museum of Art History. Walking up the stairs of this impressive palace is like walking in a dream. This museum, which opened in 1891, is considered one of the five most significant fine art museums in the world. Here, there are collections of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, alongside sculptural works and pieces of decorative art.


Not far from the Museum of Art History is The Secession Building. It was erected in 1897 by Joseph Maria Olbrich as an architectural manifesto of the Vienna Scession group. It was designed to underline their break with conservative exhibition space Künstlerhaus.

Created in 1902, the Art Nouveau building is one of Vienna’s most compelling constructions. It is home to Klimt’s 32 meter-long Beethoven Frieze, which depicts Beethoven’s 9th symphony and can be viewed on the basement floor. The final section of the painting–the embracing lovers surrounded by angels–is also known as This Kiss to the Whole World. I couldn’t help but dream that one day I will host a dinner in that basement, surrounded by Klimt’s greatness.

The crowds congregating around Gustav Klimt's The Kiss in the Leopold Museum

The crowds congregating around Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss in the Leopold Museum


It was at the Belvedere Museum where my eyes were treated to a feast of Klimt’s portraits and landscapes. It is here where you can find what’s probably his most recognized piece: The Kiss. Some art historians have theorized that the lovers seen lip-locked in The Kiss are none other than the painter himself and his long-time partner, fashion designer Emilie Flöge, who he had previously depicted in a portrait. 

Visitors to the Belvedere Palace during this time were in for another treat. We have been confronted with 1,005 refugees’ life jackets drifting in the the baroque pond at the palace gardens, courtesy of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. The installation, entitled F. Lotus, consists of 201 rings each holding five life jackets retrieved from the Greek island of Lesbos. They are arranged in the letter F and float like lotus flowers. He said the work was his way of addressing the tragedy of Europe’s migrant crisis. The Ai Weiwei exhibition is entitled Translocation-Transformation. It extended from the Belvedere Museum to the 21erhaus, Museum of Contemporary Art.

My Austrian friend Alex once thanked me for promoting Vienna as a destination for free thinkers and free-spirited travelers. I never thought that I was promoting Vienna at all. All I did was chronicle the adventures that inspired my soul. And always, after every visit to Vienna, my heart and soul is always full.

Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, Dec-Jan 2017


THROWBACK THURSDAY. Our Stylish Voyage on a Boat with Loida and Richard


With hosts Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau, we take entertaining to the high seas.

by Shari Quimbo photography Steffen Billhardt

The sky was decidedly gloomy on the Sunday afternoon Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau invited a small group of us for a sail, the clouds getting darker as I make my way to Porter’s Marina, where the Blue Planet was docked.

“Richard built the boat himself in Cebu,” Loida explains, going on to share that he was the former honorary French consul in Cebu. “It was built here, and I designed the interiors.”

All that work certainly paid off—Loida and Richard would often sail the boat out to different Philippine destinations such as El Nido, Siargao, Boracay and the Gigantes Islands in Iloilo. These could mean days-long journeys that sometimes meant dealing with some rough seas. Quick day trips, much like the one we were about to embark on, were also a regular past time.

Loida gives me a quick tour of the boat then shows off her tropical spread. With its bright blue and white floral seating, the cabin’s dining area is already a pretty festive site. “I wanted to keep it simple,” she tells me, arranging her fresh fruits around on the banana leaf-covered wooden slabs she was using as serving trays. “And I wanted it to look more local, more tropical. We are on the water, after all.”

The bamboo slats of the dining table were the perfect backdrop to Loida’s spread, which featured tropical fruits alongside an entire roll of lechon belly, fresh lumpia, empanada and steamed shrimp.

The highlight of the table, though, was the chicken liver pate, a dish that Richard makes himself. “Luckily, the French love to cook,” Loida jokes conspiratorially.

Finally, it was time to take the vessel out onto the high seas, and the group makes its way above deck to enjoy the view. The cool sea breeze was a bit stronger than usual, something that had to do with the dark rain clouds looming above us—something that would have deterred any other group, but not this adventurous bunch. Armed with a glass of champagne in one hand and a biscuit smeared with pate on the other, many stand against the railing, admiring the sight of the sky turning orange above the Mactan Channel.

And then it starts to pour. No matter, though—as the rain pounds against the deck, the party finds its way down below. A bottle of wine is opened, and then another, while a second pot of pate is transferred on a plate. Our captain waits until the waves calm before he brings us back ashore.

(This story has already been published in the printed edition of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s November 2016 issue as one of the Entertaining Features on pages 82-85.)

Continue Reading


Experience authentic Korean Barbeque at Da-In Restaurant

Filipinos are crazy for Korean barbecue. As such, there are a lot of places that are offering Korean barbecue. But Da-In restaurant isn’t just one of those restaurants.

Located in Salinas Drive in Lahug, Cebu, Da-in restaurant is a joint project between the Creative Cuisine Group and Da-Won restaurant. With state-of-the-art grilling stations in each table and various Korean cuisines ready to be served, Da-In would surely sate your Korean barbecue cravings without any hassle.

Visit Da-In restaurant today!

Continue Reading


Head Up North, Where A Relaxing Escapade is in Store at Maayo San Remigio

On your next trip out of the city, head up North to Maayo San Remigio, where a relaxing escapade awaits.

Oftentimes, when it comes to deciding the next travel destination, the Northern part
of Cebu is overlooked in favour of its Southern end. The South boasts of sunny beaches,
cascading waterfalls and the popular whale sharks who have made its waters their home.
While these are beautiful aspects that the South has to offer, the North is just as—if not
more—abundant in offerings. The North’s natural scenery is relatively untouched, and on top
of that, it’s less likely to be flocked by tourists.

This means more opportunities for a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the
city. The roads heading North are long and winding, yet the beauty that lies at the end of the
journey proves that the trip is worth it. Knowing that, where does one go in the North?

Hidden away in the northern part of Cebu, Maayo San Remigio is a haven for those
who seek peace and serenity, making it an alluring abode for a sojourn on the island.

The resort’s guest rooms are vibrant and reminiscent of the Carribean.

Approximately a 3-hour drive from the city, the resort grants access to a tropical
retreat with a captivating beachfront setting—a charming destination away from the daily
hustle. Whether on its fine white sands and blue waters or inside the cozy rooms, Maayo
San Remigio is a delight to local and foreign tourists alike.

A newly-opened resort under Maayo Hotels flagship, Maayo San Remigio is a
destination that guarantees a refreshing, laidback experience, sure to wash away the worries
you brought with you from the city.

A clean white aesthetic is made tropical with bamboo accents and greenery.

It’s equipped with a mix of luxurious relaxation and wellness, fun and entertainment,
and enticing wining and dining options. This Caribbean-inspired resort is a serene hideaway
on a lush slice of tropical paradise with emphasis on ultimate comfort and exclusivity.

The resort’s location makes it doubly precious; scattered throughout the resort
grounds are viewing areas that grant you access to the sunset. Watch the sun sink down the
horizon by the infinity pool, on the beach’s shoreline, or atop the cliffside with the waves
crashing below. When night falls, the stars come out to dance across the clear skies, making
for an unparalleled stargazing experience.

Sunsets at Maayo San Remigio are a sight to behold.

Maayo San Remigio blends authentic Cebuano hospitality with its tranquil
atmosphere and exceptional design. Its well-appointed rooms and villas ensure a relaxing staycation, while its thoughtful amenities and facilities evoke a feeling of belonging in
paradise. The resorts brings the culinary excellence that is found in the Maayo Hotels brand,
creating palate-pleasing Filipino dishes with a modern twist. Complemented by the resort’s
wide menu of drinks—from juices to cocktails to shakes—one will truly enjoy a stay here.

So on your next trip out of the city, head up North to Maayo San Remigio, where a
relaxing escapade awaits.

Continue Reading