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It’s time to make your travel plans for 2017

Whip out those credit cards and open all those travel websites on your Bookmarks folder—Malacañan just released the list of holidays for 2017! While this year was short on regular and special (non-working) holidays, 2017 is a completely different story, full of long weekends that would be perfect for a quick vacation. Plan yours now with Zee Lifestyle‘s Travel recommendations.


HONG KONG. We love the idea of seeing New Year fireworks from Victoria Peak! When in Hong Kong, we highly recommend a stay at the Marco Polo Hong Kong and Gateway Hotels.



Sunday, January 1 – New Year’s Day (regular)
Saturday, January 28 – Chinese New Year (special)

Saturday, February 25 – EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary (special)

APRIL 2017

Sunday, April 9 – Araw ng Kagitingan (regular)
Thursday, April 13 – Maundy Thursday (regular)
Friday, April 14 – Good Friday (regular)
Saturday, April 15 – Black Saturday (special)


LOS ANGELES. With Philippine Airlines flying direct to the City of Angels from Cebu, there’s no excuse not to go to the United States next summer.


MAY 2017

Monday, May 1 – Labor Day (regular)

JUNE 2017

Monday, June 12 – Independence Day (regular)


Monday, August 28 – National Heroes Day (regular)


SOUTH KOREA. Make summer last a little longer, as the season lasts until September in South Korea. Philippines AirAsia flies direct from Cebu to Incheon, making Seoul-searching easier no matter what time of the year.


Tuesday, October 31 – Additional Special Holiday


Wednesday, November 1 – All Saints Day (special)
Thursday, November 30 – Bonifacio Day (regular)


Monday, December 25 – Christmas Day (regular)
Saturday, December 30 – Rizal Day (regular)
Sunday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve (special)


NEW ZEALAND. Experience Middle Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Cathay Pacific has excellent connections from Cebu to Auckland.


The Philippines itself is not short on must-visit destinations. Here are some of our local recommendations:


DAANBANTAYAN, CEBU. It’s a three-hour drive from Cebu City, sometimes more, which to spoiled locals is two hours longer than what they are used to. However, the whole idea of going there means readily agreeing to the long trek, as discerning travelers know. You’ll have to plan at least a two-night stay to appreciate Kandaya Resort at its best. Otherwise, don’t bother.


PANGLAO, BOHOL. Thanks to easy travel between Cebu and Bohol – a 90-minute ride by fast craft – and connectivity from the revitalized Mactan Airport, it seems like Bohol has become the “it” destination, not only for Cebu locals but to many international travelers.


SUMILON ISLAND, CEBU. Explore the island on foot by following the trails that lead to Sumilon’s landmarks, including the natural lagoon, the lighthouse, the historic watchtower or baluarte, and the Yamashita caves. The path also showcases some spectacular views of the sea, especially from the highest points of the island.

SUMILON ISLAND, CEBU. Explore the island on foot by following the trails that lead to Sumilon’s landmarks, including the shifting sandbar, natural lagoon, the lighthouse, the historic watchtower or baluarte, and the Yamashita caves. The path also showcases some spectacular views of the sea, especially from the highest points of the island.


BUSUANGA, PALAWAN. You know you’re on to a good thing when you step out of the private fast craft in hundred-degree heat to the ladies room, and it’s stylishly air-conditioned. Then you walk out, and realize that the sea is on both sides. Oh yes, this is an island.


SAMAL ISLAND, DAVAO. If Samal Island is an oyster, Pearl Farm Beach Resort is the unique and beautiful gem within. This native getaway in the midst of the Davao Gulf showcases the best of Mindanaoan culture and hospitality, proving that something authentically Filipino can be raised to world-class standards.


SIARGAO ISLAND. The relatively untouched beaches on the island and the others dotting the waters around it, the choice waves that are friendly to both beginners and advanced surfers, the rustic charm of the small island community… Siargao is captivating, and you’ll be hard-pressed to keep from falling in love with the place.




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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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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