Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
This is my second time on their show and between my two guestings, which was basically a matter of two months, I feel a lifetime has happened. Of course, I’d been to six countries and a couple of cities in the Philippines, plus had a near-death experience in the Tokyo earthquake in-between; and so maybe that’s why I feel I’ve lived a whole lifetime between these two guestings. It’s like I came full circle between that first time and today.
Here are some photos of DJ Vince and DJ Tracey clowning around with their favorite magazine, by the way.
Then my day was taken up with meetings, all very successful. I’m happy to say we’ve concluded some significant deals for Travelife today -- the results of meetings and and lots of hard work hatching up plans the entire week. In fact, things have been so crazily busy that yesterday, when someone’s assistant rang me seeking face-time for her boss this week, I looked at my schedule on my computer and said to her: “Thursday at 630 AM or at 11 PM, or Friday at 1045 PM.”
But none of those worked for her boss. How about Saturday? She asked. Nope, I was scheduled to attend a cooking class with a top French chef from France at 9 AM and then was completely unavailable after that. And I so didn’t want to do another 630 AM meeting on a Saturday because I've been doing this all week. That’s how busy my week has been.
The party itself was great fun, and as usual I bumped into many people I knew of all generations and professions and was able to catch up. It was a treat to catch up with so many people in one go, especially as I just have too few chances to meet up with friends in Manila. I even bumped into some people who'd joined the Travelife Turkey Tour in November, and we spent a fascinating few minutes talking about the joys of bird watching -- which is a great passion of theirs.
ONLY FOR THE BIRDS
Apparently the Philippines has 200 rare bird species, which is both unusual and amazing. "The entire Philippines can fit into one province of China, but they have only 100 rare species," one of my bird watcher friends said. I then asked: "Is the Philippines tops for rare bird species then?" I mean if we were ahead of massive China, we must be pretty near the top. Someone answered: "No, we're more in the middle, especially compared to countries like Costa Rica."
Tonight certainly was one of the most enjoyable embassy parties and I think much has to do with the fact that Ambassador Brinks is a warm and friendly ambassador who doesn't take himself so seriously. I stayed way longer than I expected to; and on the way out, Ambassador Brinks accompanied me until the door. There was one bunch of tulips from the Netherlands by the side of the door and he gave them to me on-the-spur-of-the-moment. It was the very last bouquet and I was so pleased to receive it.
MAKE MINE A HERRING
It was also at this cocktail party where I witnessed the pretty fantastic sight of formally dressed Dutch people holding up long and large pieces of herring above their heads and eating it by slowly dropping the herring into their mouths from above, inch-by-inch. I'd found a place to rest my plate and eat at the ambassador's long dining table, and somewhere down this table were a row of Dutch people sitting upright and literally pouring the herring into their mouths from above.
"You've got to try that," said Consul Tony Rufino, with whom I'd been eating with and exchanging some gossip with. "You're Travelife, after all."
It looked very unusual and in all my visits to the Netherlands, I'd never actually witnessed such a scene. But he assured me that this was indeed the proper way to have herring. I was set to try it as well, in my formal saree and all, but I they'd run out of herring by then. Apparently it was very popular.
NOSTALGIA FOR THE 80s AND 90s
The last event of the evening was a rendezvous with the Travelife staff, both present and former, at a very nice bar and lounge that we’re thinking of using for a Travelife thank you party for our advertisers. Great music was playing -- the band was actually playing songs from the late 80s and early 90s -- and finally I could relax.
Could the day have actually gone any better? No, this was one of those almost perfect days.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Another great attraction for Citigold clients constantly on-the-go is the 24/7 medical, security, travel and emergency support anywhere in the world through Citi’s partnership with International SOS (ISOS). This ensures that frequent fliers can travel anywhere, safe and secure, knowing that ISOS is there for any emergency.
ISOS has over 20 years of experience in helping customers stay healthy, safe and secure whenever they travel, with a worldwide reach that spans 70 countries with 27 Alarm Centers, 26 clinics and a fleet of air ambulances readily available for any kind of medical emergency. The medical and security expertise of its multilingual staff also assures every customer the very best assistance and care they would need.
“The Emergency Healthcare Service is an exclusive service for our Citigold clients. With their very own International SOS membership card that contains the customer’s membership number and phone numbers, they can readily access medical, security, travel and emergency assistance 24/7/365, giving them peace of mind whenever they travel,” said de Jesus.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
In Hong Kong yesterday for less than 24 hours to sign some documents, I took advantage of a couple of spare hours to have dinner with my old friend H, a multilingual and multinational citizen of the world with homes in eight countries and ex-girlfriends in many more places than that. He was once master of the universe in Tokyo, and with impeccable timing he and his Ferrari moved to Hong Kong at exactly the right time to do so, and he promptly became a master of the universe there as well.
As always, wherever he goes, he's on top of his game and happily coasting along with a lifestyle of hard work and never-ending holidays to exotic places. His mantra is work hard and play hard, and he's one of these people who wants to have it all (and don't we all?). In fact, considering my trip to Hong Kong was very last-minute, it was a wonder that I even found him at work this morning, when I emailed on the way to the airport, and -- more importantly -- that he was free for the evening. Of course he immediately invited me to a fancy dinner in a glamorous and much-talked about place in Central with fantastic views and beautiful people but so-so food. If you know Hong Kong, you'll have an idea where I was last night.
"You're like me -- you're almost never free in the evening, and especially at the last-minute," I said by way of greeting. "What's wrong?"
He was waiting for me at the bar with a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket next to him, fiddling with his Blackberry. Yes, lots of my friends are on Blackberry but I'm only on BBM with three of them. He wasn't one of them. He smiled that delicious smile that had made many girls swoon in the past. Fortunately I wasn't one of them. I've known him for ages and we were always just very good friends. "Of course I had something tonight," he replied. "But I canceled it for you."
I'd written a novel some years ago about life in Tokyo amidst the heady rush of a couple of bull markets, and one of the central characters had been inspired by H. The character was smart, sweet, charming and kind; and generous to a fault because he'd been so lucky in life. But he was also unpredictable, used to getting his way all the time, quite competitive and incredibly spoiled -- the last was the result of women throwing themselves at him all the time, I always theorized.
He also played dumb about girls' feelings whenever this was convenient -- and this was way too often for my tastes. I always thanked my guardian angel that I was never on the receiving end of this charm as he left a very long string of broken hearts and angry females along the way. He was a great dinner companion but I also knew lots of women who were ready to hurl a buffet of expletives at the mere mention of his name. The character in the book I wrote is very much like him.
REAL LIFE BECOMES A STORY
The book was basically fiction but lots of it was based loosely on real life. And H had been tickled pink to be included and portrayed as a master of the universe forever getting into trouble because of girls running after him. I'd even written about a couple of double dates we'd had long ago that had actually happened -- and this is where real life became part of fiction. H just loved bringing to our dinners at some of Tokyo's best restaurants these beautiful women who never ordered anything because they were constantly on diets and who couldn't carry a conversation longer than five minutes.
"Guess what," I said to him, when we'd finished updating each other on our lives. He'd just sold a villa in the south of France to some Russian businessman in order to buy an even bigger one, and just returned from Tanzania to see the waterfalls. Meanwhile, I told him about my never-ending Travelife and all our wonderful projects in Travelife over the next few months. Apart from producing the Philippines' leading travel and lifestyle magazine, we're opening a store, organizing events and tours, and launching a tv show.
"One of my friends in Manila actually reminds me of you," I continued. He didn't look too pleased. "I can't have a double," he said, "I'm in a class by myself. You've said so yourself."
Then he thought for a moment and asked: "Is he as bad as I am?" I replied with lots of conviction: "Worse."
He paused again, as if to fathom the implications of a double who was double him. As I've already mentioned, he's quite competitive. Then he said, "That many girls, huh?"
"Not as many girls, I would think," I replied. "But he's worse because at least you know what you are. He just keeps denying any similarities and insisting he's a nice guy."
H smiled. "The worst kind," he said. "The man in denial. But -- similarities? How would he know about those if we haven't met?"
"Oh he knows of you," I replied. "I gave him a copy of my book last week to take on a trip, and I told him Chapter 2 was based on my friend H and that he reminded me of H. The moment he read it, he sent me a message saying Chapter 2 couldn't possibly be him."
"Hmm..I've never met a guy who didn't want to be me before," he said. It truly seemed an alien idea to him. Interestingly, I'd heard something to the same effect from H's double in Manila just the other day; and I'd had a long conversation with that same morning on why he reminded me of H.
"Oh he's very happy being himself," I said, "which is basically being you."