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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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Find Your Summer Spirit in Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu

Breathe in the tropical atmosphere, as you find summer joys through sight, sound and taste at Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu. Poolside fun during the day, spent serenely and luxuriantly—a refreshment in hand. While the evenings are for outdoor family movie nights, with the ocean waves rippling in the background.

Summer is all of that, and more! Plan an extraordinary weekend with an array of exciting activities that await your arrival. Discover your #ShangriLaSummerSpirit from 15 July to 30 August.

Tiki Bar at Buko Bar

Epicurean Delights by the Pool

Keep yourself fueled up as you splish and splash with the whole crew. Take a quick break from all that summer jazz with Mediterranean and Polynesian-inspired bites exquisitely crafted for your palate. From rice balls and pastas, ice creams to sliders—indulge in tastes and aromas that transport you to a world of endless, golden summers.

Mediterranean Selections at Acqua

A Whimsical Touch

Make it a colourful summer for the kids! Let them explore their own version of paradise with whimsical floaties, sure to keep them happily afloat. Your little ones can now freely kick and play in the water with fun and fascinating, animal-shaped inflatables.

Pleasant Sundowner Tunes

Bid the sun adieu and embrace the sunset hues with live acoustics at the Main Pool from 4pm to 6:30pm.

Tiki Cocktails at Buko Bar

Champagne Bar at Acqua

A Toast to an Endless Summer!

Unwind and savour the tropical vibe as our expert mixologists craft refreshing Tiki cocktails and serve chilled bottles of exquisite champagne by the pool! With a backdrop of swaying palm trees and stunning ocean views, sip on delightful beverages and toast to unforgettable summer moments in paradise.

Family Outdoor Movie Night

Gather your nearest and dearest for an enchanting evening as we set up a large outdoor screen by the pool under the starry night sky. Cozy up as you enjoy a family-friendly movie that will delight both those who are young and young-at-heart at Treasure Island from 7pm to 9pm.

Surrounded by lush greens, let the experience bring you to a world of joy and laughter, creating cherished memories for you and the family. For more information on Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, you may contact (032) 2310288. You may also follow them on Facebook and Instagram or visit #FindYourSummerSpirit #FindYourShangriLa

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LONDON IN FULL BLOOM: An Exclusive Look at the recent Chelsea Flower Show

Dame Judy Dench (center in white) with gallery owner, Jerry Sibal, Edwin Josue, writer Eva Gullas and artist James Doran-Webb.

The Chelsea Flower Show in London, one of the most prestigious horticultural events in the world, returned in full glory in May 2023, captivating visitors with its stunning displays and landscape designs. Held annually on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, this year’s show proved to be a true feast for the senses, showcasing an array of breathtaking gardens, vibrant floral arrangements, and innovative landscaping. The 3-day event showcased 36 outdoor gardens, including four balcony gardens for small spaces. Inside the giant pavilion, blooms compete with each other, exotic flowers, roses, and many more.

Princess Kate Middleton walking the booths at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Dame Judy Dench, who owns several of Webb’s pieces in her garden, with James Doran-Webb and Jerry Sibal discussing the works of James.

One of the flower arrangements competing at the show.

The 2023 Chelsea Flower Show embraced a Nature’s Harmony theme, with a strong focus on sustainability and mental health. The show’s organizers emphasized the importance of sustainable gardening practices and biodiversity conservation, inspiring attendees to create beautiful outdoor spaces while preserving and protecting the environment.

One of the floral gazebo displays recycled chairs and salvaged materials.

Shops at the Chelsea Flower Show are mostly from sustainable materials.

What’s Cebu got to do with the Chelsea Flower Show in London? One person. James Doran Webb (, an Englishman working with driftwood, has been displaying his artworks for several years. James collects cast-off driftwood and shapes them into beautiful animal shapes that find places in some of the most iconic gardens. Leaping horses, owls, reindeer, and the occasional dragon, James Webb’s creations are avidly collected by landscapers to add accent to gardens in all sizes, using cast-off wood, fitting perfectly with the sustainable element—something Mr. Webb has done quite well for the last decade.

The impressive dragon of James Doran-Webb


The Philippine International Flower Festival will be held at the PICC in Manila from January 14 to 18, 2024. Watch out for more info from our website!

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Club Serena: A ‘Serene Luxury’ Experience in the Heart of Cebu’s Diving Mecca

photography by GPA Art and Photography

A three-hour drive, or more, depending on traffic, the fishing town of Moalboal in the southwest of Cebu Island is an extremely popular destination for divers and weekenders who love the white sand and pink sunsets. It is also a favorite place to stay for expats looking for a laid-back life of endless coffees or cocktails.

Thankfully, the big chain resorts haven’t discovered it and places to stay are mostly small family-run resorts. But if pampering is what you are looking for, there is only one hotel to book in Moalboal. Club Serena Resort is a 1.7-hectare beachfront property perched above coral rocks, presenting a unique union of luxurious accommodations and a host of activities to be enjoyed. This hidden gem is reached through a dirt road away from the main highway. Fronting a wide swath of white sand beach, it is an easy walk past several smaller resorts to reach the main town.

Recently renovated by noted architect James Jao, the new Club Serena has 17 rooms, three swimming pools, a restaurant, and a beachfront event space, all designed with modern Filipino aesthetic. On the drawing board are more rooms to be added, an expansion of their modern dive shop, and their popular Kids’ Club program. Their food outlet, Mira, offers all-day dining, favorite among visitors and locals, as well as the growing expat community that has settled in Moalboal. 

Club Serena offers diving courses for adults and kids by their resident operator, Seven Seas Aquanauts Phil. Corp, a PADI 5 accredited diving facility operating since 1988. For a complete list of the courses and their rates, please call (+63) 917.872.6367 or (+63) 905.459.5307.

The resort encourages above-water activities as well, and they have several paddle boards and kayaks available for guests to use.

For rates and more information, visit or email or (+63) 917.872.6367 or (+63) 905.459.5307. You can also visit their Facebook page for updates.

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