As I write this column, I look back at the stellar year that was 2014, marked with wonderful milestones and incredible adventures.
The country has been blessed to have had less calamitous typhoons this year, as we continue to fully recover from Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
Closer to home, it has been an overwhelmingly spectacular year filled with wedded bliss and family love, and travels to beautiful destinations!
With so many fantastic reasons to celebrate life, 2014 has been a thrilling journey filled with new chapters that chronicle places visited and cuisines savored.
I was checking all my Instagram photos from this year, starting with a visit to Mexico on the invitation of Coke Femsa, the new owners of the iconic beverage. I was thrilled to visit the
shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
A few months after that trip, I traveled to Eastern Europe with Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com) to explore Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna and Budapest. I was delighted to be the Philippine media representative visiting these beautiful cities.
Midyear was filled with festivities celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary with Dennis. Our “Game of Thrones”-inspired wedding ceremony and reception, with most of our guests dressed in medieval costumes with matching fur, swords and capes, is still a wonderful memory.
A week later, our entire family flew to Europe for a month-long vacation in Greece, Italy, France and Spain. Choosing a Greek tour from Insight Vacations again, we enjoyed Athens, Mykonos and Santorini where our personal tour director, Peter Daskalakis, took very good care of us.
I was happiest that my year included many activities raising funds for charity. Co-chair Kaye Tiñga and I had our most successful fundraiser yet, the 6th Red Charity Gala, which raised the highest donations to date for the benefit of “Yolanda” survivors in Samar.
The lively and enjoyable evening also featured the fashion genius of Jojie Lloren.
After much debate about traveling to Africa or not due to the Ebola scare, our TropAfrica troupe decided to proceed with our safari paradise. The travel consultants A2A Safaris (www.a2asafaris.com) pointed out how far West Africa is from the safari countries we visited, Kenya and Tanzania.
With that assurance, our TropAfrica troupe had the best “glamping” experience, seeing the beauty of the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. Our camps, Cottars 1920 Camp Maasai Mara and Singita Mara River Tented Camp, allowed us to chill in full glamour mode.
Still on safari adventure high, I decided to theme our home’s Christmas décor in a stylized African look with animal tones and a bit of “Game of Thrones” touches thrown in for good
measure. In decorating our house, I realized lots of Filipino and African products are similar, especially the wood carving pieces from the north.
At our annual Christmas party, we got the Destileria Limtuaco Bottoms Up Mobile Bar to provide a cocktail menu made with world-class Philippine craft spirits, but with an African twist. Beverage consultant Kalel Demetrio mixed four refreshing drinks with fresh herbs and fruits blended smoothly with liqueurs like Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, Paradise Mango Rum, Amadeo Coffee Liqueur and Very Old Captain Rum.
With exciting names like The Great Migration and Kilimanjaro Zest, the drinks were enjoyed thoroughly by the guests.
For orders, call 3614342; visit www.limtuaco.com.
We started the party with the Swatch bus ferrying TropAfrican guests from the Swatch & Swatch building, which was decked out in Swatch worldwide Christmas visuals. The bus itself was a visual masterpiece, with Swatch+Art+Fashion graphics and the hashtags: #tropAfrica, #HakunaMaTessa and #jumboDennis displayed all over it.
As we headed out from the Swatch Philippines and Inquirer Lifestyle events, we sipped champagne while having karaoke fun in the traffic. My outfit from Zanzibar matched my zebra headpiece and my favorite arm candy Swatch Skin Dorata.
The Swatch event redefined BenCab’s Sabel, with a multimedia maze installation on the ground floor that incorporated the beautiful subject into a multitude of mediums. From giant photos combined with dresses on mannequins, wall projections and a lighted box, and complemented by wall displays of Swatch watches, stacks of newspapers, a huge crate, cloud lamps and all sorts of amazing pieces, the exhibit was a testament to the creativity and artistic mind of genius Gino Gonzales.
Inspired by National Artist BenCab’s Sabel, the exhibit asked eight fashion designers to install their masterpieces in the Swatch & Swatch building. Inno Sotto, Pepito Albert, Jerome Lorico, Ivarluski Aseron and Joey Samson were joined by Dennis Lustico, Cary Santiago and Jojie Loren, past designers from the Red Charity Gala, to complete the set.
Inno and Jerome did some live design graffiti at the entrance while guests had giant photos of themselves printed out on faux Inquirer Lifestyle pages.
On the top deck, chef Gilbert Pangilinan of Kai deliciously prepared a top menu including various sushi, baked chicken rice paella, US Black Angus rib eye steak and Banana Harumaki
with ice cream. Check out the awesome exhibit at Swatch & Swatch building. Take a selfie or a groupie with hashtag #SwatchPH25 and #SwatchArtFashion.
As the year ends, we are already planning next year’s adventures that will hopefully include diving in the Galapagos Islands. In the meantime, I am happy to dive in our beautiful islands in Palawan.
We will be staying at Huma Island Resort & Spa, a spectacular hideaway nestled in Busuanga, Palawan. Surrounded by colorful marine life and sunken wrecks of dozens of Japanese warships and planes, this resort has been hailed as one of the top 10 best diving sites in the world.