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Chicago Charmer

Witty architecture, limitless activities, the Hilton experience and a stunning skyline await the media personalities and tour operators arriving on Cathay Pacific’s newly added flights from Cebu to Chicago.

Witty architecture, limitless activities, the Hilton experience and a stunning skyline await the media personalities and tour operators arriving on Cathay Pacific’s newly added flights from Cebu to Chicago.

We arrived at O’Hare airport, second busiest airport in the world, on a damp, cold and gloomy tuesday afternoon. Not the first impression of Chicago I was aiming for. But in the days to come, my travel companions and I, did in five days what most people would do in a month and I was swept off my feet. For those with us visiting their second, third or fourth time they fell in love with the Windy City all over again. A success story is what it is. A phoenix rising above several tragedies: The Great Fire of 1871, the gang wars of Capone on the South Side and Moran on the North Side in the early 1920’s, political and labor upheavals and an en masse migration post World War ii. Drawing strength from its strategic location, rich diversity and proud citizens, Chicago emerges a formidable “Second City”.

Here is an unmistakable whiff of progress, culture and history in the 52°F air. I, along with lifestyle editors Nelia Neri of Sun Star and Mayen tan of the Freeman and tour operators, Margette villarica of Destination Specialists Inc., Sheila Colmenares of Leisure travel and tours, Aida Uy of Cebu Fortune Travel International, Inc., Victor Carvajal of Travelways Intl. Inc., Andrew Teh of Global Link Travel and Tours received a Passport to Chicago offering free passes and discounts to tours, restaurants, museums and shows from Benjamin Kelner of the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. With so much to do and so little time, each ticked off items from the many inviting possibilities we could do as a group or on our own.

To ease our eagerness, our ‘travel link’ Eugene Cheng of Unilink, Inc. was there to help us prioritize and provide a van for where the day may take us. Filipinos as we are, the highlights of our trip always involved good food, and lots of it. Our first meal after our long flight was in Chinatown where we enjoyed Lobster atop Chinese egg noodles. The lovely Connie Cimafranca and Port Manager Maggie Wong of Cathay Pacific along with Anthony Legaspi the Director of Sales for Hilton International treated the whole group to try Chicago’s world famous steak house, Morton’s. It was love at first bite as the rib-eye melted its way to our stomachs. Chicago is also home of the original deep dish pizza and for our fill, Eugene brought us to Lou Malnati’s. the warm and cozy restaurant in the idyllic Gold Coast neighborhood was perfect for our lunch date on one of the coldest days of our visit. as with keeping up with touristy traditions, we also enjoyed fresh seafood over at the Navy Pier.

Eugene, a fellow Filipino who is a travel agent in the US, offered up his services to help us maximize our brief stay. He took us everywhere, around the Loop, the Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park and the Millennium Park. All 24 acres of the Millennium Park multi-tasks as a landmark, central hub, ice skating rink during winter, and a concert venue in Spring. A trip must include trying to find the right reflection on Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate and admiring the twirling steel ribbons of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. In the neighboring Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago houses the nations second largest collection of the world’s most beloved pieces of art like the iconic Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. After gawking at art you can take photos of the many sculptures scattered around the park like the Spearman and the Bowman, the eagle fountains, Agora and Daphne. We walked the distance between the institute to the Shedd Museum, Field Museum (where you can meet Sue the dinosaur) and the Adler Planetarium. It satisfied all my curiosities but you can also thrown in a side trip to the massive Museum of Science and industry, for good measure.

From the bird- eye view of towers, John Hancock and Willis, it’s easy to see why Chicago provides a fantastical backdrop for a whole range of Hollywood films. Chicago even saw the dawn of the silent screen with Charlie Chapman and Gloria Swanson as home to essanay Studios (now part of St. augustine College) and the Selig Polyscope Company at the turn of the 19th century. eighty movies and counting, from rom-com “My Best Friend’s Wedding” to period flick “road to Perdition” to name a few. Its alter-ego of Gotham City (Batman Begins, 2005, and the dark Knight, 2007) is one of the many worlds it doubles as.

The juxtaposition between the modern and the classic gives Chicago its look but it still remains very much a Great american City. Declared in 1991 as the “greatest american architect of all time” by the american institute of architects,Frank Lloyd Wright was a Wisconsin native but a Chicagoan at heart. His signature “Prairie” house with triangular gables, over-scaled roofs, bay windows, wide doorways, cross- axial lay out made of shingle, brick and stone characterizes many

  • by Katsy Borromeo


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For Our Next Travel Destination, We Dream About Koh Samui in Thailand

Impressive views of the Gulf of Thailand welcome you at the Arrival Sala

Silent Sanctuaries

Mayenne Carmona discovers the Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui is a quiet oasis to recharge and rejuvenate…

What does one expect from a Four Seasons Resort? Everything! Firstly, it will definitely be ranked no less than a five-star hotel or resort. Most importantly, it would not fall short of all your expectations: excellent cuisine, topnotch comfort at your fingertips in a well-appointed villa, courteous staff who offer impeccable service, and every other detail you could possibly need—down to the last cotton bud. After all, a Four Seasons Resort is always designed by a top-rated architectural team and interior designers.

The moment I stepped into the Four Seasons Resort at Koh Samui, I felt all my cares washed away by the soft waves of the bluest sea. The fresh air cleared my sinuses in no time, and the gentle breeze was a much needed caress to a tired mind and body. It was truly paradise regained for me and my friends. We were a motley group of career-oriented people who needed a much-awaited break from work, and this was the perfect choice for us.

Each Villa has a butler to cater to the guests’ every whim. The afternoon we arrived, we requested a sunset dinner by the beach, and much like a genie, our butler whipped up a romantically set candlelit dinner for six. A five-course delicious Thai dinner was prepared by their well-trained chef.

Our days were spent languishing by the beach, having daily massages, attending yoga classes, doing water sports and enjoying every bite of Thai cuisine. Golf carts transported us wherever we wanted to go within the resort. This vacation brought all my senses to another realm, and restored a weary soul to perfection. 

Four Seasons Koh Samui, I look forward to seeing you again!

Koh Samui is the third largest island of Thailand in the scenic Gulf of Siam. It is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok. Sandy beaches, coral reefs, coconut trees and abundant tourist resources make it a popular holiday destination.

For more information on Four Seasons Resort, visit their website at https://www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui/

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s March 2016 Travel Issue, “Silent Sanctuaries” written by our columnist Mayenne Carmona for La Vie En Rose on pages 32-33.)

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Get Lost in this Not-so-distant Island Safari Paradise


Tao Philippines Crusoe-style deserted island camp paradise is perfect for those who understand the luxury of simplicity and disconnection.

by Melo E. Esguerra photography by Scott Sporleder

Just when you think Palawan is fast becoming a second Boracay, where congestion of concrete buildings and human bodies have begun to define the island experience more than the pristine beaches of white powdery sand, the Lostboys of Tao Philippines came up with a new island project that guarantees an escape to paradise. They call the island Camp Ngey Ngey.

The Lostboys have taken over the abandoned resort of Manguengey in Busuanga, a remote island in Palawan. They have kept the ruins from the typhoon and built their signature bamboo Tuka huts around the main beach of the island, which serves as the camp area. Just a short walk away you’ll find jungle trails that lead to three other wild beaches, preserved reefs and windswept cliffs encompassed by crystal blue waters. And on certain days, when the winds are strong, one side of the island becomes a good site for surfing.


Eddie Brock, one of the founders of Tao Philippines, explains how this concept of an island safari came about. “When we took over Manguengey Resort, we were stuck with the idea of how to run it. We do not know how to cater to resort guests, the individual choices and needs, and menus,” he admits. “Tao’s expertise is to show travelers something new, something more raw and adventurous. We decided that we will not worry about things we don’t understand, and stick to what we do best. One of the best aspects of a Tao trip is creating an atmosphere of connecting with other travelers, disconnected from digital clot—without the worry of planning, wallets and keeping a status. Five days out in the remoteness with the islanders in control leads to a positive attitude: guards down, inhibition is off and open to meet new friends.”

The camp is accessible through the three day/two night boat safari from Coron, with beach and reef stops en route the camp and back. Guests will be joining other travelers, staying in individual Tuka huts dotted along the beach. There are lounges, a dining and kitchen area, and open hang-out places. Currently, the big mansion from the old resort is being restored into a villa that can accommodate a family or group of friends.

The island can be reserved for big events like weddings, parties and other meaningful gatherings.

In the island, there is no room service, no menus, no WiFi. You will arrive as strangers, you will eat together, swim together, laugh together, drink together, and get to know each other offline. Become part of the magic of Tao, and see what happens!

For more information on how the trip to Camp Ngey Ngey works, log on to www.taophilippines.com


(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s June 2017 Men’s Issue, “Lost in Paradise” on pages 110-113.)

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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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