Latest Stories


Mesmerized by Myanmar


STEFANEL guests Raffy Hechanova, Steve Cheng, Mariko Jacinto, Sea Princess, Linda Ley, Jonathan Matti, Gina Hechanova and pretty daughter Patricia

From its majestic temple grounds and astonishing natural beauty to its extraordinary cultural attractions and exotic ambience, Myanmar doesn’t fail to move and awe. The country formerly known as Burma is only now emerging from many years of isolation, and is finally open to tourists.

So I was thrilled to be invited by Malu Duenas, district sales manager of Thai Airways, to join a media tour to the famed “Land of Golden Pagodas.” Visiting this mysterious and evocative destination for the first time was an exciting experience. My seatmate onboard the Royal Silk Class of Thai Airways was Christine Dayrit of Philippine Star. This being both our first time to Myanmar, we were both very excited.

Flying “Smooth as Silk” daily to Yangon via Bangkok from Manila, Thai Airways utilizes its wide-bodied A330-300 aircraft. Our quick stopover in Bangkok was just long enough to buy some Thai goodies and meet our other sponsor, Khun Kate Kritwutikon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

OUR FUN Myanmar group: Jude Bacalso, Sea Princess, Raul Manzano, Christine Dayrit, Marbee Go, Malu Duenas and Khun Kate

Last frontier

Myanmar is the last frontier of discovery for cultural travellers in Southeast Asia. In my traveling world, that only means cultural shopping for Burmese gems and accessories. Upon landing, we headed to the moneychanger at the airport before checking in at the Park Royale Hotel.

Our tours included Yangon’s colonial-era architectural buildings, temples and trishaws and bustling markets. Our tour guide Khun Pyiu Pyiu also brought us to the town of Bago to see more impressive Buddha temples.

SEA PRINCESS with Myanmar monks in a temple in Bago

The former capital of Yangon offers a lot of attractive sights like the reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi Temple and the majestic Shwedagon Paya, the largest golden temple in the world. Who knows how many pagodas there are in Myanmar?

Most impressive was the hauntingly spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda that was glowing from all angles. Its golden spires tower over the city. Although I am a devoted Catholic, I made sure to make wishes and ask for blessings from as many Buddha statues as I could. There are over 6,000 statues of different sizes, and most are in solid gold.

THE MAJESTIC Shwedagon Paya and visiting monks in Yangon

The Karaweik Royal Floating Barge is another attraction; it includes a hearty buffet with a cultural show. The foodies in the group like Marbee Shing-Go and Raul Manzano were the ones enjoying the Burmese dishes, which had similar flavors and spices to Thai cuisine.

My Instagram partner Jude Bacalso and I were busy painting our faces with thanaka, a cosmetic paste that acts like a potent sunscreen with beautifying effects.

Precious gems

Our Yangon tour included an afternoon of city market shopping in Bogyoke or Scott market. This open stall market sells fashion, handicrafts, antiques and gems.  Christine, a gemologist and owner of Miladay Jewelry, assisted me by pointing out the different qualities of the precious stones.

FUN TOURISTS at the reclining Buddha in Chauk Htat Gyi Temple: Malu Duenas, Khun Kate, Marbee Go, Jude Bacalso, Raul Manzano, Christine Dayrit

Known as the jewel of Southeast Asia, Myanmar’s rich natural resources include several precious and semiprecious gems. We had a visit to one of the jewelry shops selling loose stones like rubies and sapphires and finely crafted jewelry pieces. But my jewelry shopping will have to wait for another trip when I return to Yangon with my husband, Dennis.

With all its colonial architecture, the city has several buildings that are well-preserved. The Strands Hotel has excellent colonial details and a charming lobby. The Governor’s Residence, an Oriental Express property in Yangon, was a lovely part of the city tour. Verdant lotus gardens surround an impressive Burmese solid teak two-story mansion built in 1920. The 48-room hotel has spacious verandas overlooking its relaxing pool.

Myanmar is so complex and peculiar. It would take more than a single trip to discover all beauty of the temples and monasteries.

METRO Society editor Raul Manzano shopping at Scott Market

Thai Smile, a sub-brand of Thai Airways operates flights to other Myanmar cities like Mandalay as another destination aside from Yangon.

Stefanel’s flagship store

Fresh from my wonderful trip, I hosted the opening of Stefanel in its flagship store in the new SM Aura at the Fort. Together with its local partner Nuovo Moda, Stefanel is now available for local fashionistas to enjoy the Italian fashion brand.

Guests walked into a grove of trees and flowers beautifully set up in front of the new shop. Huge blowups of Stefanel’s international Spring/Summer ad campaign were on display as well. This amazing campaign is a collaboration between international photographer Mario Testino and our very own Filipino creative talent Stephen Gan from Harper’s Bazaar, Visionaire, V and V Man.

CEBU Daily News’ Jude Bacalso and Burmese face painter

The setting was an explosion of roses and peonies that Jonathan Matti and Patrick Apacible conceptualized to match the very stylish Stefanel collection.

Flown in just for the opening were Stefanel big boss himself, Giuseppe Stefanel and the outstanding members of Stefanel’s international team led by Daniela de Piccoli. The new Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno and his gorgeous Filipino wife Agnes graced the special launch.

The Spring/Summer Collection was presented in a relaxed fashion show where the models mingled among guests so they could get a better view of the stylish pieces. Stefanel’s wonderful fabrics and quality really set this fashion brand apart.

It was indeed a really fun evening of La Dolce Vita with endless glasses of bubbly from Fifi l’Amour poured throughout the night. Head to SM Aura and do check out this quintessentially Italian chic brand, Stefanel.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Myanmar , Thai Airways , Travel

  • R_RR

    Interesting…nice article.

  • peach black

    whoever gave her the rotten idea she could write? Her syntax and pretentious demeanor makes my hair stand on its end doing figure 8′s

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 2 teenagers killed in Mlang, North Cotabato
  • No sympathy from North Korea over ferry disaster
  • 4 French journalists freed from Syria captors home
  • De Lima on Gigi Reyes: Let’s wait and see
  • South Korean relatives divided over whether to raise ferry
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Lifestyle

  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus