Friday, October 12, 2012

My never-ending Travelife, and everything I missed in Manila

So there I was in Japan, living a pretty nice Travelife, but at the same time I was missing so many wonderful events and milestones in Manila that I would have really liked to attend.

There were a couple of diplomatic parties, the opening of the painting exhibit of the Ambassador of Mexico, and a galleon exhibit opening as well by the Embassy of Mexico.

Then last Monday, there was also a real milestone of a party, as famed architect Jun Palafox celebrated his 40th anniversary as one of the country's leading architects with a big cocktail party at the Ayala Museum.


There was also the annual Manilart at SMX, which I'd completely missed, and the first-year anniversary of the French restaurant La Girolle. Finally, my favorite Ateneo Alumni Association art auction also happened last week, at about the same time as a great Ateneo basketball game.

This is actually the first time I'd missed the Ateneo art auction since it's inception, and I was so sorry to miss this unique event that brings together my school alumni and local art lovers.


But I was in Kyoto living a Travelife for this very eventful week, and a Travelife is all about choices -- although I certainly wish there were ten of me so that I could do ten times more work, experience ten times more living on the edge, see ten times more places, and of course be in ten places at the same time.

Or at least two places. I would have loved to have been both in Manila and in Japan in early October.

But that's not the case so I'm constantly having to make decisions about what kind of life I want to live and where to do it. In a Travelife, the world is literally your home -- and that's a double-edged sword, but one that I wouldn't trade for the world.


Just today I was doing my tentative travel schedule for 2013 and already I don't know where to get more time. So far, just to give you a basic idea of where I'm headed, my 2013 bucket list includes Mozambique and lots of other places in Africa, Lebanon, Peru, and some really amazing places in China and along the Silk Road.

Then my friend Joel D had to call my attention on Facebook to some very new luxury hotel he's found in a pretty exotic place, and which he's thinking of going to. I quickly looked up the link he'd posted for me, and the place seemed amazing. So I sent him a message: "Thank you for giving me more stuff for my already bulging bucket list."

When Joel had organized a group of us for dinner by the river in Prague last June, at Hillary Clinton's favorite restaurant, we'd been talking about all the amazing places in the world that need to be visited -- and the list was really endless.

We could have talked all night, especially as we were having nice wine and seated at a table with the best view in the world. But that's a Travelife for you....

Prague is one pretty amazing place by the way, especially in June when the weather is just perfect. After dinner, we'd all walked across the Charles River at midnight and I'll never ever forget that sense of wonder and amazement I had, walking on the bridge and gazing all around me at that romantic fairy-tale town.

Read more about Prague -- actually, read everything about Prague -- in the February-March issue of Travelife Magazine.


Earlier this month I decided to spend six nights in Japan as it truly is the best time of the year to be in Tokyo or Kyoto. The weather is perfect, the rains have stopped, the summer tourists are all gone, and the delicious food for autumn has started appearing on restaurant menus everywhere.

As usual, it was a jampacked six nights, literally living on the edge. Sometimes even I wonder why I do this to myself. People get breathless going through my daily schedule, while my travel schedule looks like the flight plans of the One World Alliance group, which is composed of about ten different airlines.

But that's the price I have to pay for wanting to live every minute of every single day in the best possible way.


So in six nights and six days in Japan, I had two meals at two Michelin two-star restaurants, two meals at two three-star restaurants, two nights at Japan's best traditional inn in Kyoto, and I'd also cooked dinner on two nights for two sets of guests.

Oh yes, and I had to work, edit, blog and finalize a cruise around Asia and logistics for a trip to South Africa coming up very soon as well.


On my last night in Japan, instead of catching my breath and taking it easy, I hosted dinner for a very important couple from the Philippines. I'd thought of inviting some other people, but then I realized finally that I really like intimate dinners, especially if I'm organizing them.  Two is my magic number, four is okay and six is maximum.

If I had my way, I would always have dinner with only one or two people because you can really have meaningful conversations this way without having to edit topics for the benefit of the majority.

So this was the case for this dinner I cooked in Tokyo last Monday night. I took out all my best pottery and tea ceremony items to use during dinner -- including beautiful dining pieces by long departed master artisans from Japan like Rosanjin Kitaoji and Shoji Hamada.

And because the pottery was so elaborate, I made a deliberately simple but good dinner to make the pieces shine. It also allowed me to enjoy the company of my own guests. This was Tokyo after all, so I don't just call a caterer for a dinner for four.


In Manila, my dinners are usually for six to eight persons and I like to do these buffet style unless it's a formal event. But in Tokyo, I usually choose a menu that allows table service and a more relaxed style.

The lady guest was extremely thoughtful, knowing very well how things are different in Manila and overseas. She's right up there in terms of that hierarchy in our little village of Manila, but several times she very kindly offered to help me clear the dishes for the next courses.

Of course I would hear none of this. I said to her, and I really meant it in the best possible way: "Ma'am, I'm quite used to this by now. In fact I have it down to a science."

And that was that. I really enjoyed having them over for dinner and we were able to relax and talk in a way not usually possible otherwise.

And then the next day, it was off to the airport and on a plane for the next chapter in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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