Monday, June 30, 2014

Rak of Aegis is back at the PETA Phinma Theater

The Rak is back.

Rak of Aegis, the Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA) comedy-musical featuring chart-topping Aegis hits returns to the PETA PHINMA Theater stage this coming June to August.


Last January, the PETA original production broke box office records.

From an initial line-up of 36 shows, Rak of Aegis ended its first run with seven more sold out performances.

The musical drew in crowds of theatergoers, including secret Aegis fanatics and theater virgins, who were wowed, touched and exhilarated by the show’s riveting music and heartwarming performances.

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Rak of Aegis’ massive following proves that this timely tale of hope, resilience and original Filipino rock tugs at the hearts of Pinoy audiences like no other. Rak of Aegis brought not only theater lovers but musical icons and prominent personalities to the theater.

OPM President Ogie Alcasid, upon watching the show, stressed the importance of supporting music that’s sariling atin.

He said: “A show like Rak of Aegis is an embodiment of what we have to do as Filipinos – suportahan, tangkilikin at ipagbunyi po natin ang ating sariling musika!”

Rak’s popularity was even harnessed to raise funds for the survivors of typhoon Yolanda by several groups who organized benefit shows of the musical.

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For its second run, Rak of Aegis is scheduled to have 67 more performances at the PETA PHINMA stage from June 20-August 31, every Thursday to Saturday.

Fans of the musical as well as those who will watch it for the first time can expect the stellar performances of power couple Isay Alvarez-Seña and Robert Seña, and break-out star Aicelle Santos as they revisit their roles for this re-run.

Audiences should also be on the lookout for exciting interpretations by both old and new cast members. Rak of Aegis, is a playlist of chart-topping songs by the iconic Aegis band such as "Luha," "Halik," and "Basang-basa sa Ulan."

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The team consists of:

Playwright Liza Magtoto
PETA artistic director Maribel Legarda
Actor-musician Myke Solomon


The Rak of Aegis cast includes Kalila Aguilos, Kakai Bautista, Neomi Gonzales, Jerald Napoles, Pepe Herrera, Myke Salomon, Poppert Bernadas, Nor Domingo, Julienne Mendoza, Ron Alfonso, Phillip Palmos, Gold Villar, Gimbey Dela Cruz, Jet Barrun, Paeng Sudayan, Carlon Matobato and John Moran.

The re-run also features new cast members: Kimverlie Molina as Aileen, Oj Mariano as Kiel, Arnel Ignacio as Fernan and Jimmy Marquez as Jewel.

Joining the ensemble are choreographer Gio Gahol and Abigail Sulit.

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Rak of Aegis 
at the PETA Phinma Theater 
from June 20-August 30
every Thursday at 8 PM
and Fridays to Sundays, at 3 PM and 8 PM 

For ticket reservations, contact Ticketworld:
Tel 891-9999

Or contact PETA:
Tel 725-6244 
Mobile 0917-5765400

The Travelife Magazine team wins the grand championship for football last weekend

Congratulations to the Travelife Magazine team for bringing home the grand championship for the Torneo de Futbol (football tournament) over the weekend.

Apart from the Travelife Magazine football team, the other teams were composed of teams from advertising agencies and major corporations.

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Travelife Magazine's Creative Director, the very talented and tireless Bryan Arevalo, was a key player in this tournament.

We're so very proud that Travelife Magazine is # 1 in just so many ways. More details on this championship win in an upcoming blog entry.

See you all at Travel Madness Expo 2014 at SMX this weekend

Please look for the Travelife Magazine booth. 
We'll be giving away back issues of our magazine at special prices.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tours By Locals shows tourists around New Zealand's Bay of Plenty


Tours by Locals guide DOUG FARR gives Travelife Magazine the lowdown on one of New Zealand’s most scenic and historical destinations 

The Bay of Plenty is an idyllic location that’s a veritable Garden of Eden. It has the widest possible geographical diversity of landscapes, as well as the best climate and living conditions.

There are gardens in every backyard and more organic foods are grown here than anywhere else. As you can imagine, its name, given by Captain James Cook in 1769, fits it perfectly.

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My top three favorite attractions here are Mount Maunganui, Kiwi 360, and the Rainbow Springs.

These are places that both locals and travelers enjoy, and they’re great spots for learning more about what makes this part of New Zealand special.


The striking mountain at the eastern entrance of Tauranga harbor is one of New Zealand’s natural icons.

From a very young age, New Zealanders are encouraged to be competent and comfortable in the outdoors, and hikes in this beautiful area are an integral part of most our childhoods.

Locals regularly walk the trails winding up the 232-meter mountain, while the more adventurous paraglide and rock-climb. And we all enjoy soaking in the geothermal saltwater pools at its base, or lazing on the beach below on sunny days.

This area is sacred to the Maori people and it features extensively in the mythology of the Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, and Ngati Pukenga tribes.

PS: Mauao is easy to access. You can get there in just a few minutes, after embarking off a cruise ship. It’s a great place to learn more about our history, the blend of Maori and European world views, and our ethics of care and engagement with the natural environment.

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KIWI 360 

There are many sites that depict different stories of New Zealand, but Kiwi 360 is my personal favorite.

Located in Te Puke, which is the kiwi capital of the world, it tells the story of the kiwi fruit and does justice to the 110 years that it has taken to develop the healthiest fruit in the world.

It’s not your typical tourist attraction. Here, you can tour the orchards that drive a remarkable industry. Every year, 100 million trays of kiwi fruit are sent from New Zealand to 62 countries across the globe.

Kiwi 360 was set up to teach visitors about this remarkable piece of New Zealand industry and the innovative agricultural model behind it.

New Zealanders believe very strongly that we should live harmoniously with our environment, so we must grow nurturing food from safe farming practices. We work hard to collaborate, create, and look after our local environment – and this is why we lead the world in sustainable agricultural production.


Maori stories are pivotal to understanding New Zealand.

I like to take my guests to specific cultural places that are quiet and special and a little bit secret -- the kind that are best visited in the company of a local.

However, there is one excellent and renowned public facility that does a great job of sharing a piece of our story with visitors, and that is the Rainbow Springs facility in Rotorua.

At first glance, Rainbow Springs doesn’t appear to have anything to do with Maori culture.

It’s an ecology center in a tropical parkland setting which is engaged in conservation and breeding programs for endangered New Zealand wildlife.

The center is immensely popular with locals and visitors alike, who especially love the up-close encounters with the kiwi birds.

Some visitors are even lucky enough to witness the baby birds hatching.

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But what does this have to do with Maori culture? 

Well, the center doesn’t only tell the Maori story; it is a part of the Maori story. Kaitiakitanga is a Maori word that means guardianship and protection; it’s a way of managing the environment, based on the Māori world view of the interconnectedness of humans and nature.

This environmental conservation is a core tenet of contemporary Maori culture.

Owned by Ngai Tahu, a Maori tribe that has invested in the enhancement of environment as part of tourism, Rainbow Springs demonstrates how we can manage the pressures of tourism and maintain the amazing natural features that attract travellers to New Zealand.


I always recommend that visitors sample our famous fish and chips as this is a bonafide local tradition.

New Zealanders love to pick up fish and chips from the local takeout and enjoy them as part of a picnic lunch on the beach. Snapper, terakihi and hoki are the most common types of fish. These are caught fresh and then dipped in batter and deep-fried.

Many places claim to cook “New Zealand’s best fish and chips,” but one of my favorites is “Oppies,” along the main drag in Rotorua.

Grab some hot take-out here and head to the cool shores of Lake Rotorua to enjoy your meal.


Imagine gliding along still waters at dusk, watching the sun go down and the stars coming out.

In McLaren Falls Park you can paddle a kayak slowly across Lake McLaren to a rock canyon where a different sort of light emerges: the gentle shine of thousands of glow worms.

If you prefer your adventures on land, the park also offers an easy walking trail that takes you to a waterfall and glow worm dell.

This is a truly unique New Zealand experience, and just a 15-minute drive from the port at Tauranga.

Doug Farr is a Tours By Locals guide, a sustainable tourism advocate for over 20 years, and passionate New Zealander who lives in the Bay of Plenty.


Remembering parties all over the world, and my no-fail bottarga pasta

Recently, I've realized that quite a lot of our readers actually try out the recipes I occasionally print in this Travelife Magazine blog -- and apparently with great success.

So this has encouraged me to place more recipes every so often, especially of simple and pretty no-fail dishes I do when in a pinch, or in a hurry, somewhere in the world, living a Travelife.

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As you can imagine, a never-endingly eventful Travelife is extremely busy. There's almost no time to cook.

But interestingly, I've cooked pretty fancy dinners and prepared meals for parties in cities all over the world, while traveling. And I've loved doing so.

I actually like to cook when I'm traveling as the produce in certain cities and destinations is just so good and complete, that cooking becomes an absolute joy.


Tokyo is one of these cities, because you can get every rare ingredient in the world you can possibly think of as long as you are prepared to pay for it.

So it's a fantastic place to whip up a meal in.

But I've also cooked in many places elsewhere around the world, as quite a number of my friends will confirm.

I've cooked for a whole week of dinners at an eight-bedroom villa in Umbria and I've also made dinner for 18 in an apartment in Paris, just two blocks down from the Elysee Palace.


I've also made dinner for 30 in a three-floor apartment in London literally 25 steps away from St. James Palace.

I still remember that London party as I'd decided to invite all our good friends in London for a party, to celebrate something, and I'd done the entire party by myself.

I'd laid cocktails out in the living room and a buffet of hot meals in the state-of-the-art kitchen, and desserts and more drinks in the den that opened up to a rooftop terrace with a marvelous view of London.

Everyone had run of the house, save for the bedrooms, and people were going up and down all night.

However the party finally ended way past midnight with everyone on the rooftop terrace, drinking and smoking as it was a very fine evening.

Thank goodness the housekeeping crew came in the next day for clean-up.

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I also loved doing parties in New York.

Once my friend A and I hosted a Halloween party in my pretty nice suite at the New York Palace.

I also cooked most of the food for this as my suite had a cozy kitchen with a great view of Midtown.

I still remember how Japan Airlines had WiFi in the sky to New York then, so I spent most of the 14 hours in the air from Narita to JFK ordering fresh foods and groceries for the party, for delivery to my suite in time for my arrival.

Friends in New York came to this party, and some people I didn't know also did -- which was fine, anyway.

And some of those friends who were at that party read this blog, so perhaps they'll have some nice memories of that New York Halloween party I hosted at the New York Palace, living a Travelife.


I baked this nan myself,
and served it on a pretty handpainted plate
I'd bought on holiday in Sardinia one summer.
Living a Travelife... ;)

And yesterday in Tokyo, some friends came to lunch.

Again, I usually like pretty simple and quick dishes unless there's a special occasion, so I made an assortment of salads and several kinds of Indian curries. I also made my own nan.

And everyone was supposed to arrive at 12 noon and at 1045 AM I was still blowdrying my hair.

I only began cooking past 11 AM, but the result was a very delicious Indian lunch with my friends getting third helpings of everything.

I served a bagna cauda as a pre-appetizer
for lunch yesterday in Tokyo,
living a Travelife...


And finally, here's my no-fail bottarga pasta, which I did in 10 minutes the other day in Tokyo, as some people suddenly came to dinner.

It's simple and ever so good, but you must use the best ingredients you can find.


Fresh pasta 
The angel hair variety. 
You can also use dried pasta, 
but bottarga works extremely well with fresh pasta
so the effort to get fresh or to make your own is worth it.

Good quality dried bottarga from Muggine
Good quality bottled bottarga powder from Muggine
I always keep a supply of dried bottarga in my freezers,
and bottles of bottarga powder in my fridge.

Echire butter from France
Guerande salt from France. Or any kind of good sea salt.
The best quality extra virgin olive oil you can find.
I just bought in Tokyo a bottle of organic olive oil from Lebanon,
sold by the owner himself via a pop-up shop 
at the very upscale Meidi-ya foodshop in my neighborhood.
It's the purest, most amazing olive oil I've tasted so far.


Cook the fresh pasta to al dente.
Shave the dried bottarga with a cheese grater.
Drain the pasta quickly and then mix with lots of Echire butter.
Don't scrimp on the butter as this will keep your pasta moist.
Worry about the arteries later.... ;)

Sprinkle salt liberally on the pasta.

Mix the shaved dried bottarga with the pasta.
Sprinkle bottarga powder on top before serving.
The powder form adds depth to the flavors.

Serve with a very cold and dry white wine.

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If you think you'll like this,
click here for my no-fail recipe for pasta with oysters

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

The role of good luck in people's lives, and the topics for discussion in a world capital like Tokyo

Some of the desserts today, for lunch in Tokyo

One of the nice things about being in Tokyo, living a Travelife, is the fact that people here have conversations about the world outside of their "village," as well as about life, history, culture, literature, and philosophy.

Among many other things.

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Maybe this is a function of being a world city rather than a small-ish community run by 400 families who pretty much know each other.

Basically, there's very little gossip when people get together, as people get tired of talking about other people very quickly since there are so many other interesting topics to discuss.


I was reminded of this today, because I hosted a lunch for some friends.

Over Indian food I made myself, we sat all afternoon around the dining table talking about everything in the world.

Of course we talked about travel -- how can we ever not?

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But we also discussed what is happening in Iraq and how the world is becoming so polarized, to a book currently making the rounds in Tokyo about how Japan is about to come to ruin, and the trends for the global financial markets in the event of widespread unrest in the Middle East.

It was just a regular Saturday lunch with friends, but it was all very interesting.

I baked this nan myself,
and served it on a pretty handpainted plate
I'd bought on holiday in Sardinia one summer.
Living a Travelife... ;)


And, oh yes, we did talk about one person -- but not in a gossipy way.

I told everyone about our driver on our holiday in Morocco last week, living a Travelife, because I haven't been able to get him out of my mind.

The Travel Companion had gotten us the best driver to drive the best car in Morocco, and he was way over-qualified to be driving a car -- even for two intrepid world travelers who are pretty used to having the best all the time, and to having their way all the time.

That's our car, waiting to be loaded with a ton of luggage
on the day we flew out of Morocco...


This driver could talk about anything.

In hindsight, I regret not talking to him more, to understand more about Morocco, as I'm sure he would have been a wealth of information.

But the Travel Companion and I were talking with each other all the time, and he was making me laugh so much when he wasn't happily trying to make me sore about a few things, that there were few opportunities for real discussions with the driver during our trip.

At the lovely Dar Ahlam,
a Relais & Chateaux property


But the few times we three did have a conversation, he quoted the works of Islamic poets, French philosophers, and Spanish intellectuals.

Obviously, he would be doing so much more than driving a Benz around Morocco if he had been a citizen of a First World country instead.

In the United States, France or Canada, for instance, he would have made an excellent university professor or a journalist.

I served a bagna cauda as a pre-appetizer
for lunch today in Tokyo


I couldn't stop thinking about how big a part in life luck plays for us all.

It made me realize for the nth time that what happens in one's life is not just about talent, ability or hard work, but about being in the right place at the right time -- or even being in the right part of the world, for that matter.

And sometimes, luck really smiles on you and allows to create the life you want, and live a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What to do about the Summer 2014 Paris sales and a rental car in Europe

So now that all our hotels are booked and all the winery visits are arranged, and even all our restaurants are confirmed, including private meetings with two of the world's best chefs in Europe, there's only one more issue that's causing a headache before we all fly off to France and Spain next weekend for summer holidays: the problem of the rental car.

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We're such a big group with a couple of children in tow as well, so for the last few weeks we've been scouring Europe for an appropriate vehicle to rent, as we don't exactly want to drive a bus.

It's easy enough to fit everyone in somehow, into the biggest vehicle we could find. The problem isn't the people, it's the luggage. 

None of us travel light, even if we are leaving home as light as possible, especially in view of the fact that we are hitting Paris, Madrid and a couple of major cities during sale season.


I'm pretty famous for traveling heavy, especially on the way back from a trip. I usually leave home with luggage I can lift with my pinkie finger -- but it's an entirely different story on the way back home.

Many years ago, way before I even had a Travelife, I once checked in 105 kilos of luggage traveling solo from New York's JFK Airport to Tokyo's Narita Airport on Japan Airlines.

Actually, that happened twice, and not even a stretch limo that someone had so thoughtfully sent to Narita to pick me up could fit all my luggage.


Last weekend, the Travel Companion and I were in Morocco.

We left home with two pretty light check-in luggages each, and then we revived another bag each on the way home from Marrakech.

I think we checked in a total of 85 kilos from Casablanca to Asia.

That's our car, waiting to be loaded with a ton of luggage
on the day we flew out of Morocco...


In case you're wondering, none of the heavy stuff is very pricey.

In my case, I just like unique things that I know I won't be able to get back home, and most of it is not anything that would break the bank.

I bought these golden dessert plates in the souks of Fes,
and the handpainted glass plates in
a pretty upscale antiques store in Marrakech

Just lovely stuff for memories like inexpensive brass tea pots, handpainted plates and elaborate pitchers.

Things to make me smile and remember our pretty happy days in Morocco, living a Travelife.

Or in the case of a trip to New York, regular stuff from Premium Outlets as it happened to be having a double sale. And if you've ever been to a double sale at an outlet mall in the States, you'll know these are just completely irresistible.

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This time around, for summer 2014 holidays in Europe, I think the other girl on the trip is even more of a serious shopper than I am. So between us both, we have a real luggage problem.

The guys are all traveling light.

"We could always take several cars and just do a convoy if the luggage won't fit," someone said.

He was looking at cars on the Internet and already eyeing a top-of-the-line Porsche Panamera or a soft-top Ferrari to rent and self-drive for our two weeks in Europe, if we were going to rent several cars instead of just one.


But, of course, it's more fun if everyone is together in one vehicle.

I did find something tonight that just might work if we girls downsize to just one medium-sized luggage each and avoid the Paris sales entirely on Day 1.

And if everyone squeezes in and holds their breath all the way to Spain from Paris.


But I'm just not sure if that would work, especially with regards to the Paris sales. My own resistance to sales is incredibly low.

Or with regards to holding one's breath, for that matter. Not after a degustation meal at Joel Robuchon in Paris.

We arrive early morning in Paris and the first order of the day is lunch at Joel Robuchon, where we've booked an entire section of this small-ish restaurant for everyone, for a nice, delicious and casual meal in jeans and tshirts after a long flight.

We're flying in from everywhere on different airlines, and someone is even coming in after watching the games at Wimbledon.

But regardless of jump-off point and mode of transport, we've all made sure we're in Paris by 11 AM for a nice lunch to start what looks like a nice trip.


So I really don't know what to do about the car, and thankfully I still have a few days to work on this; although I'll have my hands full with work and an eight-course farewell dinner I'm hosting for 40 people and in honor of two ambassadors the night before I leave.

Some things are just impossible, especially in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.