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On board Philippine Airlines’ first-ever flight from Cebu to Los Angeles

Zee Lifestyle columnist Mayenne Carmona joins the exclusive media group invited to be among the first to try out Philippine Airlines’ newly launched Cebu to Los Angeles leg.

Philippine Airlines

On March 15, 2016, its 75th founding anniversary, Philippine Airlines marked another historical milestone: an Airbus A34-300, which seats 254 passengers, took its first flight to Los Angeles from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

At present, PAL has 11 weekly flights between Manila and Los Angeles, ten weekly flights between Manila and San Francisco, and four weekly flights between Manila and New York. The flight to Los Angeles from Cebu is an addition to their flight expansion routes.

During a press conference at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista said, “Customers in the Visayas and Mindanao have long clamored for direct flights between Cebu and the US due to the travel convenience this will bring. One can simply take a short hop to Cebu from any point in the Visayas and Mindanao, and connect to Los Angeles instead of flying all the way to Manila. Our goal is to make PAL the airline of choice in all the markets we serve, one that exceeds passenger expectations. We want PAL to be a source of pride for Filipinos.”

PAL VP for Marketing Ria Carrion Domingo said the Cebu-LAX service takes off with the “heart of the Filipino” and the “hospitality and waterproof spirit that the Filipino is known for.”

The PAL crew on flight PR103 were thrilled to pose with their President and COO, Jaime Bautista

The PAL crew on flight PR103 were thrilled to pose with their President and COO, Jaime Bautista

It was a treat for the members of Cebu media to experience PAL’s first flight to Los Angeles on March 15—they are now part of PAL’s history. Members of the media from Manila flew to Cebu and took the second flight on the 17th of March. I represented Zee Lifestyle, but flew with the Manila media because I am based in Manila. Other members of the media on the flight were JoAnne Rae Ramirez of People Asia and Philippine Star; Fil Sionil of Manila Bulletin; and Anna Sobrepeña of Lifestyle Asia. Also with us were PAL’s lovable ladies: Ria, Head of Marketing Activations Pinky Custodia, Marketing Activations Officer Terry Romilla, and External Communications Head and Spokesperson Terry Romilla. EIC of Philippine Star’s Lifestyle Section Millet Mananquil took the flight from Manila with PAL executives.

PR122 (CEB-LAX) departs Cebu every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6:25PM and arrives in Los Angeles at 5:35PM local time. PR 123 (LAX-CEB) leaves Los Angeles on the same days at 8:40PM local time and arrives in Cebu at 4:40 AM, plus two days.

From personal observation, taking the flight from Cebu was stress-free. There were no long queues at immigration to reckon with. The airport was not crowded—we all felt so calm, like we just came out of a meditation session. Their Mabuhay Lounge serves the best coffee in the whole of Cebu. I have the tendency to speak in hyperboles when I like something, but their coffee was really delicious. Cielo Villaluna can attest to that!

A view of the SLS Beverly Hills from the street

A view of the SLS Beverly Hills from the street

Our brief stay in the City of Angels was truly memorable. For starters, our hotel was world-class. SLS Hotel at La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills is a five-star boutique hotel with interiors designed by Philippe Starck. His designs never fail to dazzle me. His furniture pieces are sleek and on the edge of avant-garde. My room was spacious and minimalist, but with all the essentials intact. I just loved every second of our stay at the SLS Hotel.

The Gala Night was elegant and well organized. The menu of the seated dinner was well planned and delicious. Jaime led the speeches, followed by the other PAL executives. He announced the airline’s new mantra, “Heart of the Filipino,” with a new theme song performed during their Anniversary Dinner in Manila by stellar artists Lea Salonga, Sarah Geronimo and Bamboo Manalac. Versatile chanteuse Zsa Zsa Padilla was the entertainer of the evening.

PAL executives at the Gala Night

PAL executives at the Gala Night

On our third day, we were taken on a road trip to the Chino Canyon of Palm Springs. We took the aerial tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car. The breathtaking journey began at the Valley Station, and we disembarked at the Mountain Station where we had lunch at the Pines Café. After climbing the rocks and having our fill of picture-taking, we took the aerial tram to bring us down. It was an unforgettable adventure, and was the highlight of our trip. Next stop: the Cabazon shopping outlets. They had all the name brands, both American and European, to the delight of everyone.

The aerial tramway that took us to the Chino Canyons

The aerial tramway that took us to the Chino Canyons

All good things must come to an end. On our fourth evening, we were on our way to Tom Bradley International Airport. As expected, Airport Manager Rex Aldanese and Duty Manager Anna Pesigan facilitated our check-in. We were onboard PAL’s flight 103 to Manila. Although the flight was long, the service was impeccable and the in-flight cuisine was a gastronomical experience. PAL had tapped some of Asia Pacific’s top chefs—Jessie Sincioco, Fernando Aracama, Wataru Hikawa, Ben Lam, Bruce Lim and Yoon Yun Sun—to coordinate with their corporate chef Noel Ramos, and the results were Michelin star-worthy dishes! Being catered to and pampered by the team of Flight Purser Vivienne Pineda, Flight Attendants Maggie Gumaru and Aica Baes. CSM Geb Inocencio, and Flight Steward Jun Jun Uy made the long flight so comfortable and enjoyable. True to PAL’s new philosophy, PAL is indeed the heart of the Filipino. PAL President and COO Jaime Bautista’s goal of making PAL a five-star airline will soon be achieved.


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.)

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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!

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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.

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