Saturday, November 30, 2013

A really nice birthday party

Good morning at 3 AM in Manila, living a Travelife.

I've just returned home from the joint birthday party I organized together with my friend Mr. Jaded, at his very tasteful and palatial home in Forbes Park.

It was a great success, with around 250 people coming and going throughout the night, spanning at least five generations.

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We had DJ Wilke and his team spinning all kinds of music the entire evening -- we had to cater to so many age groups, after all -- although there was a lot of swing music because I'd done the playlist and I love to dance the swing.

What fun this party was. 

So many people from different parts of my life came, and I was really very touched.

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I'd planned this party practically long distance, as Mr, Jaded and I had decided to do a joint birthday party just before I left for South Africa.

So much of the organizing was done long distance, with my extremely hardworking and efficient Travelife team springing into action.

I still remember how I'd chosen the menu while flying over the Kalahari Desert in South Africa's Northern Cape; and how I'd texted some invites while on safari game drives.

I'll write more about this later as I'm simply exhausted now.


People stayed until way past midnight, drinking and listening to music.

Then, when everyone had left, it was just Mr. Jaded and myself, sitting around with DJ Wilke and his assistant, requesting all kinds of music.

We didn't dance. We just sat around listening in the early hours.


Since the dancing had stopped by then, I requested two of my favorite songs: "Stay Awake" by Ronnie Laws and "Sleeping with Butterflies" by Tori Amos.

The latter's a song that reminds me of something sad, so it wasn't really suitable for a happy evening like tonight.

But I wanted to play it loud anyway.


Then Mr. Jaded requested a song called "Suit and Tie." I'd never heard of this song before, but DJ Wilke immediately knew it, and so they played it loud for us.

It was such a cool song.

I immediately wrote it down on my phone so I could download it sometime.

So many evenings are wonderful in my life, but this was a truly special one in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Second time around at Nando's in South Africa, for delicious peri peri chicken

Nando's has some of the jolliest staff on the planet

This should have been posted last week....

Today, we left Kimberley for the Kalahari Desert again, for my last safari in South Africa before going back home.

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We were thinking of taking off around noon for the safari lodge, which meant we would either have to eat something packed on the plane, or have something very late at our next safari lodge.

Both options didn't exactly seem terribly palatable to me.


This was when I hit on the "bright" idea to pass by Nando's for some more of that delicious peri peri chicken.

I'd had Nando's peri peri chicken for lunch three days ago in Kimberley, and it was simply delicious. However, I'd had the spicy chicken; and someone had said that the lemon and pepper chicken is also a must try.

Unfortunately, I didn't think I would have a chance to try Nando's again.

After the safari in the Kalahari Desert, I fly straight to Cape Town for one very short overnight stay, and my schedule is completely booked in Cape Town.

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I'm arriving just in time for a very nice afternoon tea -- delicious scones and all -- and I have dinner lined up. The next morning, it's off on the long trek back home.

So today was the only opportunity for Nando's.


Fortunately, when you're traveling by private plane, you can basically take off whenever you want.

So I took a detour at Nando's and ordered two quarters (so that I could have 2 legs with dark meat instead of a half chicken) of roast chicken in lemon and pepper, plus wild rice and hot chocolate pudding.


The chicken was very good with lemon and pepper, although I kept using Nando's peri peri spicy sauce on it.

So I may as well just have ordered the spicy chicken again.

And the hot chocolate pudding was just as good as the sticky toffee pudding last time. I've decided to try and replicate this back home as well.

So, I'm typing this in the plane on the way to one more safari in the Kalahari Desert.


By the way, that plastic bag in front of me is holding some very special shopping.

Yes, I finally found what I've been looking for this morning -- although I literally had to take it off someone's floor to get it. 

But that's another story for another entry on my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Watch out for the 
Travelife Tour of Beautiful Northern Cape
May 16 - 26, 2014

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Tel 813-8400/ 892-2620

A delicious farmer's lunch in the Kalahari Desert

Last week, in South Africa's Northern Cape, living a Travelife, I took off from the airport of the a town called Uppington and landed right smack in the middle of the Kalahari Desert.

There's no commercial airport here, so I had to land in a private air strip in the middle of nowhere. We parked our plane here and transferred to a 4x4 made for desert drives.

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It was a four-hour drive to the lodge via sandy roads and about 90 dunes from the airstrip -- I wasn't kidding about being in the middle of nowhere -- so we decided to first have lunch at the only restaurant within a 100-kilometer radius.

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The only restaurant in the middle of nowhere was a simple and clean structure that promised nothing but cheese sandwiches and chips from the outside.

Or at least that was my impression of it. I was resigned to be hungry, and to putting up with a meager lunch.


My guide said: "We're going to have a farmer's lunch."

Uh-oh. That did not sound promising to me, for some reason.

What a surprise then, to have had one of the best lunches on this particular South Africa trip, right in the middle of the Kalahari Desert.


Lunch began with an appetizer of sheep's tails.

Yes, this is farm country and sheep's tails are eaten with relish. I was initially squeamish about eating sheep's tails, but when I finally took a mouthful, this was absolutely delicious.

Then, for the main course, we each got a tiny black pot stuffed with all kinds of meat and vegetables. This is called a potjie (pronounced poi-kee), and it was also wonderful.


The best part of the meal, however, was dessert.

We had an absolutely scrumptious malva pudding which was moist and flavorful. I could not have enough of it.

The malva pudding was baked by the daughter of the owner of the restaurant.

When I asked her what was her secret, she said: "It's all in the apricot jam and the vinegar."

And this was one of the best lunches on just another trip in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Party time in a Travelife tomorrow night

My belated birthday party, together with Mr. Jaded, is finally happening tomorrow night.

It took lots of long distance planning as I was away on a Travelife for the most part, on four safaris in Northern Cape, South Africa.

In fact, I was choosing the menu for the party while I was on board a private plane flying over the Kalahari Desert, in South Africa last weekend.

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And I practically got thrown off my seat twice as it was quite a bumpy flight with the desert winds -- except I didn't really notice as I was so busy emailing the caterer.

We were flying low enough to get a WiFi signal via a portable Internet router, and I was online.

But now it's 24 hours to go, and everything is set.


So many friends have confirmed that they are coming, and I'm really looking forward to a fun evening with about 250 guests of all ages.

Literally, all ages. I think we're going to span five generations tomorrow night.

We have a very cool DJ spinning music all night, too, and we're setting lounging chairs all over the garden for those who don't wish to dance.

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I just hope the fine weather holds out.

And what a surprise. But flowers have started arriving at the Travelife office and at my home, in advance of my party.

Thank you very much. You know who you all are....

Comedy Club's United in Laughter stand-up comedy show on December 9

Last night, in Manila living a Travelife, after a very chic cocktail party attended by the business community for the launch of the Philippines Yearbook at the Fairmont Hotel, I headed over to Podium in Ortigas for a different kind of evening.

It was the press night for the stand-up comedy show called United in Laughter, featuring some of the best comedians from English-speaking Asia.

Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, is a proud partner for this unique show.

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Anyway, we laughed ourselves silly last night -- and so did the full house crowd.

It was just press night yesterday, so it was basically a preview, but we had an SRO crowd and everyone was laughing constantly.


Just in case you were one of the 2000 people who went to the Travelife Magazine show with Hollywood comedian Rob Schneider last October 28 at Solaire Resort & Casino, the comedians who did the front act for the show are also performing in the United in Laughter show.

And you'll probably remember how they brought the house down from Minute One. Even the foreigners in the audience were laughing because everyone else was laughing so much and so hard.

If you like stand-up comedy, don't miss this one-night event.

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December 9, 2013
8 PM

Opening Acts
Eri Neeman
GB Labrador
Alex Calleja

Main Acts
Phoon Chi Ho
Kavin Jay
Rizal Van Geyezel



Like raw fish--raw talent is best served fresh, well presented and usually with lots of hard work and a dash of sweat.

Original, energetic and daring, Phoon Chi Ho is touted as a “thinking man’s comedian” -- much to his dismay for he does not know what that means.

Phoon Chi Ho, emcee and star of the night showed that experience goes a long way in this business; his effortless ability to produce slapstick comedy with deliberately austere expressions is an impressive niche.”

"Sex, race and a barrel of laughs”

-- Time Out KL Magazine 


Andrew Netto is one of the hottest comedians in the Malaysian circuit having considerable success in the local and international comedy scene.

He is described as the comic with more spin than a high speed turbine, with his twist and insights in the daily workings of the average Joe.

The Malaysian is a regular feature in The Comedy Club KL shows and has performed or emceed dozens of the highly popular comedy show. He does his routine alongside seasoned international comedians and holds his ground despite his young age.

His highlights are performances with comedian Ahmed Ahmed and Maz Jobrani in 2011, and mega comedian Russell Peters in 2012 in front of an audience of 8,000 pax.


His material can be relatable to any age group, race or gender.

His warm presence yet flamboyant style while mixing play on words with physical humor can be considered delightful to watch and hear. Rizal has already shared the stage with UK comedians such as Craig Hill and Daniel Sloss and headlined sold-out shows in Singapore.


Eri Neeman emceed Travelife Magazine's Rob Schneider comedy show, by the way.

Eri has been doing stand up since 2008 and he is currently one of the rising stars in the scene. A veteran TV & Events Host, Former MTV VJ and cast of Bubble Gang. He represented the Philippines in the annual Hong Kong International Comedy Festival in 2010.

He is popularly known as Boy Back Up on Bubble Gang‘s wildly popular “Boy Pick Up” segment on GMA 7, which is a sketch he wrote and conceptualized together with Ogie Alcasid.


GB started doing Stand Up - October of 2008 at Club Alchemy. He was the first runner-up in the Hong Kong International Comedy Festival 2010.

In 2011 he represented the Philippines at "Laugh Off Asia" held in Singapore.

Since then GB has been doing shows around the Philippines and Asia. His first headlining act abroad was in 2011 at Comedy Masala Singapore. He is once again representing the Philippines for Get Hard Stand Up, a corporate show put together by Pfizer featuring the best stand up comedians in Asia.


Alex was one of the front acts for Travelife Magazine's Rob Schneider show.

Alex Calleja is considered the best stand up comedian in the Philippines today.

His relentless attack on the audience with punch lines leave their stomachs so cramped they get abs. Known as “The Master” on Studio 23’s Usapang Lalake he has made his mark as a Comedy Presence on Philippine tv.

Also the Headwriter for ABS-CBN’s morning show Umagang Kay Ganda as well as a Writer for noon-time show Showtime and the comedy gag show, Going Bulilit.

The Philippines Yearbook launch at the Fairmont Hotel tonight, and a great party on Saturday

Tonight, in Manila living a Travelife, I attended the very successful launch of the Philippines Yearbook, which is produced by the indefatigable Grace Glory Go and her son Vernon.

The Philippines Yearbook has a theme each year.

This time it's all about the pride of being a Filipino. Two or three years ago, for its landmark 75th anniversary, the theme focused on the families that form the business and social circles of Manila.

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This isn't exactly an unusual theme, but Grace did an amazing job of having 75 of Manila's most prominent families wear the most interesting attire and pose in the most unusual locations.

We were all photographed by the very talented Tom Epperson.

George Ty and family.
From the Philippines Yearbook,
as photographed by Tom Epperson

Washington Sycip and family
From the Philippines Yearbook,
as photographed by Tom Epperson

I was honored to be included, and I have to tell you that I did a triple take when Grace asked me to wear a long gown and go up a ferris wheel in Star City for my pictorial.

"What?" I gasped.


"You're lucky," Grace replied, with a twinkle in her eye. "I asked Fortune to pose in her pajamas."

She meant the equally indefatigable and charming Fortune Ledesma, honorary consul of Monaco and civic leader.

Fortune Ledesma and son RJ
From the Philippines Yearbook,
as photographed by Tom Epperson

Incidentally, the photo Tom Epperson took of Madame Ledesma and her family in their pajamas with a black and white kitchen as background is one of the best photos out of the 75 amazing photos in this yearbook.


Tonight, as with all previous years, the party was so well attended by the Who's Who of Manila society and business.

It was like getting to see everyone you know or should know in one place at one time.

As I'd literally just flown in from South Africa last night, I was very happy to see so many friends at this party.

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I was even happier that a lot of them are coming to a belated birthday party I've organized with my friend Mr. Jaded this Saturday.

Our birthdays are very near each other, and they are nowhere near November 30, but we decided to have this joint party this weekend.

As Mr. Jaded is quite busy, he left most of the planning to me.


So I proposed a dancing party, simply because so few people do dancing parties anymore and lots of people actually like them.

I got a cool DJ to spin music I like, and we've ensured that there's enough food and drinks to last the whole night.

People who want to dance have a very large dance floor to themselves, while those who want to chill have two lounges and a large garden to do so.


This afternoon, I was at Mr. Jaded's house to plan where everything should go.

He has a really beautiful house in one of the best neighborhoods of the city, and it really gets lovelier over time.

Each year he decorates his house wonderfully for Christmas; but this afternoon, the decor I saw already up in his house was simply exceptional.

He even put up a stunning Christmas mural in his foyer, and it's the kind of painting that makes you want to immediately go out and look for something similar at an art gallery.

I asked him today: "Where did that come from?"

I'd never seen this mural on previous Christmases, and it really makes you stop in your tracks.

In his typical dry fashion, he just said: "Oh, that's just been at the back somewhere."


Well, I'm glad it's now at the front, and just in time to receive all our friends for a nice chill party.

Everyone needs a chill party, and we're hoping you do, too.

So if you've received your invite from us, hope you can make it on Saturday for a really wonderful night in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.