Saturday, June 16, 2012

Travelife's extraordinary June-July 2012 issue


Good evening from somewhere in Asia, soon enroute to Istanbul and beyond.

No one travels like Travelife Magazine, the Philippines' leading travel and lifestyle publication. Our schedule for the first half of this year alone looked like the flight plan of a major airline as we literally crisscrossed the globe in search of exotic cultures to discover and adventures to write about.

We were probably on a plane or a ship every other week, but amidst such a hectic Travelife, there was no more enjoyable journey of learning and laughter than our six-day trip to Sri Lanka for a cover story on this island paradise’s most iconic mountain. It’s true that some things are better the second time around, and this second visit to Sri Lanka in 12 months was one of these.


Our cover story was really great teamwork on the part of businessman and photographer David Lim of Makati's Zone 5 Camera Club, entrepreneur and TV personality Kian Kazemi, and myself. We had a pretty tough schedule for about six days in Sri Lanka, but I think we all enjoyed the trip immensely.

Our serious work was only interrupted by hours of philosophical discussions and lots of laughter -- or perhaps it was the other way around and work just got in the way. Anyway, it was a really wonderful trip and the results speak for themselves: we've done the most comprehensive coverage of Sri Lanka probably out of all the media in this part of the world.  We hope our admiration for this small country with an old culture and a large heart comes across to you loud and clear in our cover story.

By the way, Sri Lanka is the next big destination for Asian travelers looking for bragging rights to new and exotic places. It's pristine and still untouched by mass tourism -- you can walk through 2000-year-old structures and be the only foreigners around.

So if you're at all interested in visiting Sri Lanka ahead of the crowds, make sure to get a copy of our new issue. No one has covered and will cover Sri Lanka the way Travelife does. By now we know it like the back of our hand.

We're doing a Sri Lanka tour in early February, by the way. Call Meg at Travelife Magazine if you wish to get on the mailing list for this very exclsuive TRAVELIFE Tour of Sri Lanka. Tel 8138400/ 8922620.


Our other editors -- all of whom are travelers first and then writers second, which is why we're # 1 --were no less industrious in skimming through miles in search of a story.


Editor-at-large Gabby Malvar, always one of our main headliners for his insightful and adventurous travelogues, threw any concerns for personal safety out the window by going to the most far-flung places of an already far-flung Tawi-Tawi. He actually hitched a ride on a military boat to reach places in Tawi-Tawi that ordinary civilians have never seen. Thus, we have beautiful Postcards from the Edge of the Philippines’ southernmost island, that perhaps have never seen print anywhere before. Another first for Travelife Magazine.


Meanwhile, New York-based editor-at-large Rafe Totengco delights in spending ever so stylish long weekends in the most picturesque locations. For this issue, he deliberately got Lost and Found in Venice, where he threw away his map and uncovered alleys, canals and islands full of life but happily devoid of tourists in the process.

Reading it reminded me of the week I spent in Venice by myself at the Hotel Danieli, years ago, while killing time in Europe in between two seperate holidays with family and friends. I too threw away my map and just walked the city like a local, discovering tiny but delicious trattorias and boat rides to nowhere famous but picturesque all the same.

Spending a week in Venice like a local also enabled me to actually jump on my hotel boat for a trip to the Lido, an island off Venice proper, where I spent the day swimming in the sea, and then afterwards I walked the boardwalk in search of the best clam spaghetti the island had to offer. Venice clams are famous.

No one I know goes to Venice just to sit by the beach; but this fact just made the experience all the more special. In Rafe's case, it was a trip to an island cemetery where he and his friend and a handful of locals were the only living beings around.


Contributing editor Jerome Velasco actually has a day job, but he certainly has many people fooled by the way he nonchalantly jumps on planes for good dinners and by his narratives that are full of soul and flavor.

Sometimes he likes to remind me that not only does he have a day job, but he also continuously makes great effort to write really serious foodie pieces for Travelife as well. Indeed, no one else can eat and write like he can, so he really is a gem for Travelife Magazine.

I invite my other editors to lunch and dinner whenever I can to thank them for their wonderful work; but I send Jerome handwritten thank you notes instead whenever the issue comes out, because I think he likes these better. He says no one sends handwritten notes anymore. But perhaps I should let him in more on just how much we all appreciate his works.

Anyway, his piece for this issue on an unassuming restaurant in Modena that’s run by one of Italy’s top chefs, made me seriously hungry as I was editing it; it took lots of effort not to order a takeaway pasta from one of my favorite Italian restaurants as I was working through lunch for this.

Since then, I've made a mental note to always edit his pieces on a full stomach. I’m sure that after reading his column you’ll agree that the sublime joys of the Osteria Francescana in Modena are Worthy of a Trip to ItalyScroll down to read more...


Contributing editor Dondi Joseph is another traveler our readers envy with a passion because he takes his camera and his palate somewhere cringingly beautiful and absolutely delicious practically every month. How convenient for us, too, that he can travel, photograph and write with passion and panache at the same time.

His status updates that appear on my phone are always about heading for a new destination -- almost as often as mine. It says a lot about the kind of people at Travelife when we're always BBM-ing each other from anywhere but home. In fact, as I write this out from another airport lounge, I don't think anyone of the people above is in Manila. That's Travelife and that's a Travelife for you.

Anyway, last I BBM-ed with Dondi, he was happily talking to a couple of our wine contacts in Hong Kong and then the next time I saw his status update, he was on his way to Singapore from Cebu.

He recently went to Australia to see what the food and wine scene were like South of the Terroir  – and he actually survived days of wine and more wine to write about it for us. Thank goodness.


Then there's regular contributor Gilbert Sape, an old Penang hand who gives us the delicious inside scoop on his old stomping grounds. He travels as much as we do, by the way, and in fact he sent in his photos for this article from somewhere in Laos. Gilbert's piece on Penang food is not at all fine dining, but it certainly is fun dining.

He gives you the best of so many types of Penang hawker stalls that it's actually possible to use his article as a guide to 24-hour hawker food dining. We've tried lots of those hawker food stalls ourselves since the Travelife Magazine and TV teams, too, are old hands in Penang -- so much so that we can probably drive those tourist rickshaws ourselves, complete with the narratives -- and we can certainly vouch for his chicken rice and chendol picks. We'd be back in Penang in a heartbeat as well, if we just weren't so busy going around the world...


Perhaps my favorite article in this truly hefty issue of dream trips and do-able journeys is an article on Scotland’s Mythical Mountains by Lillian Cobiao, a new contributor who writes with a sharp wit and a keen sense of history about a spur-of-the-moment solo trip. I was shocked to learn that she'd decided on a trip to the Scottish highlands after several glasses of Scotch ale in an Edinburgh pub -- but in retrospect, that certainly fits our bill for a Travelife. It also reminded me of myself just a few years ago...

Reading this made me want to visit Scotland all over again.

These are just some of the articles in our new and very hefty line-up for June-July 2012. This issue is full of real and real inspiring travel stories that will make you just want to go online and book a ticket somewhere soon.

This is what Travelife Magazine does, by the way. We take you out of the everyday into magical worlds and inspire you to plan on one day seeing them for yourself. Our editors and contributors are all real travelers first and writers second – and fortunately they do both very well. No one travels quite like us. Or writes like us. I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is why we’re #1.


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