Domicillo: Discover Tagaytay’s newest boutique hotel

When I was a kid growing up in the ’70s, one event changed my life forever.
My dad took us to a uncle’s house in Dasmariñas Village. It was the most beautiful house I had ever seen—big, modern, with huge garden. I even remember the music that was playing: “Do The Hustle” was the rage at that time and the adults were dancing on the verandah. That visit made me want to own a modern home which I was able to achieve with my husband in our 30s.

A few years ago, a blog reader emailed me asking for advice on what is a chuva-approved bathroom. So I met up with designer and exporter Rene Alcala and spent the day looking at bathroom fixtures and tiles.
Rene told me he was building a boutique hotel in Tagaytay in collaboration with Budji Layug and other known Filipino designers.
Last November 2014, Domicillo opened quietly but I only got to see it recently with my husband and kids. To me it felt like visiting the out-of-town James Bondish home of an eccentric uncle—modern, boxy, concrete, with many levels and much greenery. The feeling I had was similar to that experience I had in the ’70s. (Photos: JILSON SECKLER TIU)

Domicillo

A sitting area with Milo Naval furniture

Domicillo

My boys loved the place. I feel though that there are parts that are not kid-friendly and I have some reservations about the bathrooms, just because I have very particular bathroom preferences.
My boys and I left for Tokyo shortly, but because I feel it deserves a story, I asked my friend and writer Dinna Vasquez to stay for a couple of nights and tell us all about it.

Domicillo

Room with a view at Domicillo
By Dinna Vasquez

There are lots of places to stay in Tagaytay, but many of them do not offer an unobstructed view of Taal Volcano and the surrounding mountains from your room’s window or veranda.
That view is free, of course, but Domicillo gives you the luxury of waking up to a selfie-worthy view.

Domicillo
Domicillo

It’s not just the view that makes Domicillo special. It’s the combination of natural and man-made attractions that make you feel so relaxed you won’t even want to go out of the room to have breakfast.
Domicillo, built along the Tagaytay ridge, is an eight-room boutique hotel that is a design and architectural collaboration between its owner, designer and exporter Rene Alcala and the Budji + Royal architecture firm.

Domicillo

A graveled parking lot with a concrete wall leads to steps and a ramp going down to the hotel.
“This was supposed to be a two-bedroom hotel,” said Alcala. “But when we were building it, after the excavation, Budji told me, ‘This isn’t going to be a two-bedroom. There is space for more.’”

Domicillo

The bed and breakfast, as Alcala prefers to call it, is full of rough, unfinished surfaces—from the raw cement of the floors to the unvarnished wood of the furniture—which is Budji’s signature look.
Alcala made the most of the 1,000-square-meter lot to indulge in his love for plants. There are several varieties of bamboo, giant staghorn ferns, elephant ear taro and many others.

Domicillo
Domicillo
Domicillo

Domicillo used to be a lifestyle store at the Cliffhouse complex in Tagaytay so Alcala, an exporter and the man behind Manila Mirrors, is no stranger to what visitors are looking for when it comes to accommodations.
“Everybody wants a good view because that is one of the reasons why they come here.”
We stayed at Domicillo for two nights as Alcala’s guests in the Layug-designed Premier room with a lower lake view. The room is comfortable enough for two adults and a small child although honestly, the place is more for grown-ups wanting to get away from the city.

Domicillo
Domicillo
Domicillo

It is the perfect hotel for couples who are celebrating anniversaries or simply want to reconnect with each other without the kids and the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila.
Domicillo is also not a place for older people who have difficulty walking or going up and down the stairs.
The Premier rooms, for instance, are two floors below the lobby. But we heard some older balikbayan guests loved the bed and breakfast so much they didn’t care.

DomicilloDomicillo

One couple reportedly didn’t leave the room for three days and ordered food to be brought inside.
We can imagine how they felt as the only times that we went out were for breakfast on our second day, a massage and dinner at the nearby Qi Wellness Living, and when we checked out on our last day. We simply ordered takeout from a fastfood outlet through the hotel’s landline and our orders were brought down to our room.

The Superior rooms with an upper lake view have beds designed by Milo Naval while the ones in the Deluxe rooms with a garden view were done by Tess Pasola.

Domicillo
Domicillo
Domicillo

The common areas and the guest rooms are full of mirrors designed by Alcala (they are for sale) and paintings by R.M. de Leon from his personal collection.
In this age of social media, the best way to describe the aesthetics is to say every nook and cranny of Domicillo is Instagram-worthy.

Domicillo
Domicillo
Domicillo

Room rates are inclusive of free minibar in all rooms, daily newspaper, breakfast for two at the hotel’s La Finca restaurant, organic amenities, and one-hour whole body massage for two for the Premier room, or 30-minute head or foot message for the Superior room.
The rooms offer free Wi-Fi and cable TV but because Domicillo is built on a steep terrain, signal problems are expected.
So most of the time, my daughter and I stayed in the room, read and talked. We didn’t watch a minute of television or spend hours on our mobile phones. We were just happy to enjoy each other’s company. Worth a visit!

Domicillo

Domicillo is at Km 58, General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika East, Tagaytay City.
For bookings and more information, call (046) 413 3552 or 0922 884 1532.
You can also like them on Facebook.

Stevie Wonder’s private concert at Solaire

When I was younger, all I wanted to be was Lisa Bonet—before the dreads, the piercings, and Lenny Kravitz.
Now that I am older, I love Kerry Washington. There has to be an African American woman inside of me.
Like every time I watch Scandal, I really feel Olivia Pope, especially when Stevie Wonder is playing in the background.

Lisa Bonet/Kerry Washington
Lisa Bonet/Kerry Washington

I’ve loved Stevie ever since I was a kid growing up in the ’70s, and I wouldn’t have known he was performing at Solaire in Manila, if not for Grace who told me about this.
But how to get tickets? I thought of my media contact at Solaire, before Grace reminded me we had connections: my dad is a friend of Enrique Razon.
I texted my dad for tickets, then a couple of days before the concert, I picked them up at my dad’s office.

Stevie Wonder invitation

Last Saturday night, Jeroen and I arrived at Solaire at 8:06 PM and found our seats at the balcony. At first I thought we had bad seats (not orchestra) until I saw Enrique Razon himself sitting in the same section, but at front row center. Right next to him were Korina Sanchez and Mar Roxas.
I looked around and wondered who are all these other people, aside from friends of Mr. Razon? I realized they were probably Solaire VIPs and high rollers.
I thought about how rich people are portrayed in Filipino movies and telenovelas: coñotic, Spanish-speaking in postura clothes. True enough there was a loud one in our section, name dropping. It was excruciating.
Then I heard the third richest man in the Philippines speaking to his friends—in straight Tagalog! He wasn’t wearing an Eddie Garcia suit, just a simple light blue shirt.

Eddie Garcia Enrique Razon
L-R: Eddie Garcia, Enrique Razon

The show started around 9 PM. Nobody told us to turn off our phones and nobody tapped us on the shoulder to stop recording the performance. We were treated like real guests. Plus there was no painful front act. I loved it.
Too bad there were a number of empty seats. What a waste for many of his fans who wanted to be there.
It had been 25 years since Stevie Wonder performed in Manila. Now here he was with a full band and five excellent backup singers. Blind since he was a baby, he walked to the stage alone—slowly in a straight line, then guided by white markers to the front of the stage, while playing this instrument.

Stevie Wonder at Solaire, Manila

For the next two hours, they played many of my favorite songs:
All In Love Is Fair
As
Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing
Isn’t She Lovely
Lately

My Cherie Amour
Overjoyed
Knocks Me Off My Feet

Ribbon In The Sky
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life

Stevie’s voice would crack at the beginning of each song and become perfect from the middle to the end.
He was wonderful and would ask the audience to sing some of the parts. I could see Martin Nievera in front of us singing to his heart’s content. He is my two brothers’ singing idol.

Stevie Wonder at Solaire, Manila

Then Stevie Wonder asked if there were real singers in the audience. Aiza Seguerra came onstage with two gutsy girls who should’ve stayed in their seats (sorry! ayaw ni Simon Cowell). Then Martin Nievera’s companions clamoured for him to go onstage. In fairness, Martin and Aiza did well.

Stevie Wonder

Sometimes Stevie would tease the audience and stop in the middle of a song. Jeroen didn’t like it! It was sort of like this.

But it was a pretty long show, Mr. Razon got his money’s worth. Having heard hit after hit, I was satisfied and okay to leave after the last song. No need for an encore. Truthfully I was more scared of traffic going out. That said, it was so worth it. Thank you for having us.

Stevie Wonder at Solaire
The last song

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The crowd dancing

It’s raining men (and lechon!) at SM’s welcome party for Madrid Fusion Manila 2015

Last night, SM Supermalls held a welcome party for Madrid Fusion delegates called SM Fiesta By The Bay.
But they could have also called it A Night of 20 Lechons or Pogi by the Bay.
From the SMX Convention Center, guests of the ongoing Madrid Fusion Manila were shuttled by calesas and jeepneys to SM By The Bay, where a native cocktail set-up was waiting for them.
Meanwhile, Jeroen and I left the house at 6 PM and arrived two hours later due to the monster traffic.
Luckily the weather was perfect and we were welcomed with a festive set-up using indigenous materials like rattan balls, wood trunks, flora and local fruits like lanzones and mangosteen.

SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay

We made our way through many food stations. I started with the shredded catfish salad with green mango

SM Fiesta By The Bay

while Jeroen went for the deepfried catfish wrap

SM Fiesta By The Bay

I’ve heard good things about Manam restaurant and tried their crispy pork in a shot glass of singing

SM Fiesta By The Bay

They served smoke tanigue with herbed mayo

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Orzo and spice tuyo salad with kesong puti

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Jeroen said the fried chorizo balls were nice

SM Fiesta By The Bay

I’m supposed to be on a diet, but imagine my excitement when I heard there were 20 different lechon stations all over the place.

SM Fiesta By The Bay

We started with Pepita’s famous stuffed lechon (this one had salted egg and rice)

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Jeroen and I spent some time standing in front of Elar’s Lechon and picking the skin (sorry!)

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Lydia’s was there

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Mila’s Lechon

Mila's lechon

Charlie’s fried partition served in soft tortilla wraps and special sauce

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Cirkulo’s lechon de leche

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Guests enjoyed music by Katribo Kolektib, percussionists from Pinikpikan, Maguindanao, and Katribu and a special presentation from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Kontra-GaPi, an ethnic music and dance ensemble, set the mood of the night.

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Spotted: Cristalle Belo with a precious clutch

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Chef Claude Tayag

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Lali Hererra and Michaela Fenix

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Chef Him Uy de Baron of Nomama

SM Fiesta By The Bay

Jack de Mesa

Jack de Mesa

and let’s not forget the beautiful AFAMs* that graced the event.

SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay
SM Fiesta By The Bay

Madrid Fusion Manila is on this April 24 to 26 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, featuring Spain and Asia’s legendary chefs: Andoni Luis Aduriz, Elena Arzak, Quique Dacosta, Ramón Freixa, Francis Paniego, Paco Roncero, Mario Sandoval, Paco Torreblanca, André Chiang, and Alvin Leung.
The Philippines is represented by chefs Fernando Aracama, Margarita Forés, J Gamboa, José Luis “Chele” Gonzalez, Pepe Lopez, Rob Pengson, Bruce Ricketts, Myrna Dizon, Claude Tayag, and Juan Carlos de Terry.

In line with the festive culinary event, SM Supermalls holds a Gourmet Weekend Market from April 24 to 26 at SM Mall of Asia, where a premium selection of cheese, tapas, wine, ingredients, local finds and special bundles shall be made available in partnership with SM Markets (SM Supermarket and Hypermarket).
For a complete schedule of events at SM malls, visit SM Supermalls on Facebook or @smsupermalls on Instagram.
For more information, go to www.madridfusionmanila.com.

Special thanks to Candy Dizon for helping me take these pics :)

SM Fiesta By The Bay

*a foreigner assigned in Manila

What I learned from Art Basel Hong Kong 2015

Super late post!
I was lucky to have been invited to Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 last March 2015.
I love art, but I’d never been to Art Basel and didn’t know what to expect. The first time I ever heard of it was in 2009 when Brad Pitt famously bought a painting at Art Basel, Switzerland.
Art Basel, considered the premier art show in the world, is staged annually in Basel, Miami, and Hong Kong.
Here’s what I learned from the Art Basel HK experience:

1) Prepare your wardrobe. It is teeming with chica people, and I’m not talking about fashionistas. Art people are so much chicer than fashion people. I saw this from the moment we landed at Hong Kong International Airport. The vibe was different when we arrived. People were so well dressed.

chica girl in HKIA

2) How to dress: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. This is not a time to wear heels or cocktail dresses. Wear sneakers and flats with smart clothes. There is no need to overdress. The show is about art, not you (no offence).

Art Basel HK 2015
GalleriesBlumPoe20150313JHEH5668
Art Basel HK 2015
Galleries_Galerie_Hubert_Winter_20150313JH_EH_5763
Art Basel HK 2015

3) Where to stay: Jeroen and I stayed at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, though the official hotel partner of Art Basel HK was Mandarin Oriental, which provided shuttles to the venue. There are two Mandarin hotels in Hong Kong’s Central district. Both are not far from the Art Basel venue in Wanchai.
But if you really want to be near the venue, the best place to be is Grand Hyatt Wanchai, which is literally next to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Jeroen at the LMO HK

4) There’s Art Basel, and there’s Art Central. Aside from Art Basel, there was a smaller event called Art Central close to the area. Art Central’s inaugural Art Central event had 30,000 art collectors, buyers, and guests. There are less art pieces and though some are really expensive, there are more affordable offerings here.

art central HK
Art Basel HK 2015

My favorite piece: giant tablets (US$21,500)

Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015

Spotted: Bencab

Art Basel HK 2015

Interesting

Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015

The VIP Lounge

Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015

5) Do attend the talks. Jeroen and I went to the Art and the Movies talk at Art Central moderated by Alexandra Seno with guest speakers Joyce Wang, Fanny Pereire, and Fiona Marin. First time I heard and learned that almost every single thing you see in a movie scene needs to be cleared with its copyright owner.

Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015

6) Do not walk from Art Central to Art Basel! It may seem near, but it’s not. There as a construction going on in between venues, so Jeroen and I had to walk circles to get to Art Basel. The walk was pretty brutal for a girl with short legs, though Jeroen didn’t seem to have a problem with it. That said, I’m glad I wore Converse sneakers. My advice: take a cab.

Art Basel HK 2015
Looks near, but far

Art Basel HK 2015
Hang layo.

7) There’s a lack of food choices at both venues. Jeroen and I were lucky to grab HK$100 burgers at Art Central (I had two). After our long walk from Art Central to Art Basel, I wanted to find a place to eat and drink, but nothing decent. If McDonald’s were there I’m sure they would be packed.
At Art Central, this was packed

Art Basel HK 2015

This was lunch, eating standing outside

Art Basel HK 2015

8) What those VIP passes mean. When you get a VIP pass, you don’t have to pay entrance and you get to preview the shows before the masses enter. But beware, there are tons of VIPs in Hong Kong! That means every place is teeming with people. I can’t imagine how thick the crowds were when it opened to the public. But I saw the photos—the VIP days had better dressed people.

Art Basel HK 2015
VIP Lounge, Art Basel HK

9) You will feel poor. You will see things you want but cannot afford. Not in your wildest dreams. Jeroen and I heard the price of a David Hockney painting—over US$1,000,000.

Art Basel HK 2015

Yayoi Kusama

Art Basel HK 2015

Yoshitomo Nara

Art Basel HK 2015

Julian Opie

Art Basel HK 2015

My favorite artist: Mr.

Art Basel HK 2015
General_view_hall_booth_006

I love: Koji Tanada

Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015

10) You will feel overwhelmed. The sensory overload is too much you will feel like vomiting art after awhile. So pace yourself. Try not to take in everything in one day which we did because I got sick in Hong Kong.

Art Basel HK 2015
Art Basel HK 2015

Art Basel HK 2015

Come inside

Art Basel HK 2015

Galleries_1B13_Meile_005
Galleries_1B21_Kalfayan_002
Galleries_1C08_Lehmann_Maupin_005
Galleries_Goodman_Gallery_20150313JH_EH_5698
Galleries_Misa_Shin_Gallery_20150316JH_EH_7961

That’s not human. That is sculpture

GalleriesSullivanStrumpf20150313JHEH5753

General_view_ABHK2015_20150313JH_EH_5510
General_view_ABHK2015_20150313JH_EH_5548
General_view_ABHK2015_20150315JH_EH_7315

Poklong Anading

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So that’s my Art Basel experience. Thank you so much Alexandra Seno and Adeline Ooi for having us. Next time I know what to do.
To know more about Art Basel, click HERE.

Margarita Forés collaborates with Paco Roncero at the Raffles Makati

It’s a dream come true for established restaurateur and in-demand caterer Margarita Fores as she collaborates with Spanish two-star Michelin chef, Paco Roncero, in a six-course gastronomical feast in celebration of the first Madrid Fusion Manila (24-26 April 2015, SMX Convention Center).
This exclusive dining experience is scheduled this Saturday, 25 April 2015, at the Writers Bar of Raffles Makati.
For reservations, call 795-1840 or email dining.makati@raffles.com.

FA MFM_Paco Roncero Dinner_Invite

Margarita Fores would like to thank the following for their support: Qatar Airways, Nutriasia, San Miguel Corporation, the Department of Tourism, and Department of Agriculture.

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