“Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.” —Oscar Wilde
When all else fails, travel to unravel! Discover new vacation spots with close friends or explore destinations to make unforgettable memories. Go to places with no Wi-Fi, yet find yourself making deeper connections with those around you.
Travel has always been my luxury of choice. The immeasurable personal experiences gained with each trip have truly made a permanent impact on my life. I receive so much valuable knowledge about the country I visit and enjoy the little thrills of shopping in between.
Since the start of the year, I have been traveling around the Philippines and luckily abroad, too. At the start of February, a couple of friends and I visited Hong Kong for the first time after the pandemic. It was just recently that HK opened its borders to visitors without any quarantine upon landing.
Between enjoying the different Michelin-star restaurants and going to factory outlets, I was pleasantly surprised that HK has not lost its charm and the shopping is just as exciting. Nothing beats retail therapy, especially when you are able to land a hefty discount.
While fully absorbing Hong Kong’s many offerings, I missed “Love Is In The Air,” the first major art exhibit of Kartini Gallery at the Palms Country Club in Alabang. Kartini Asia Gallery united with the Philippine art community to promote National Arts Month last February, and the resulting art exhibit was a happy celebration of love and art. The event was geared toward the promotion of Filipino artists and Filipino talent in the field of arts and culture. Kartini Asia Gallery owner Nina Malvar has been helping many young artists get their initial break into the active art scene.
The exhibit showcased the body of works of renowned contemporary artists including Nune Alvarado, Mayie Delgado, Fitz Herrera, Christian Tamondong, Waldz Villanueva, Jim Orencio, Mariano Madarang, Butch Payawal, Marlon Magbanua, Gilbert Angeles, Anna Bautista, Reynan Dingal and Glenmore Lawig.
Right after Hong Kong, I flew to Cebu to visit several furniture factories to help furnish our beach home. It was wonderful to see the different furniture suppliers doing well after the pandemic. They shared how terrible business has been, but they’re now able to bounce back slowly.
Still on the wavelength to discover the local scene, we drove to La Union the next weekend to support my daughter Jordan Prieto-Valdes as she competed in her first surf competition, one specifically just for female longboarders.
Jordan and her boyfriend Darud Boticario explored the surf scene in “Elyu” and tested out the waves in comparison to Siargao, where they live. She was so stoked to meet and connect with so many amazing female surfers.
Jordan also wanted to showcase and promote her upcoming women’s surfwear line, Junior Varsity (@juniorvarsitysurf on Instagram and Tiktok), launching this summer. The suits are made from recycled ocean waste, and proceeds will go towards supporting the Filipina surf community and ocean conservation. She’ll be releasing preorders available to purchase this month already!
Embracing the chill vibes of Elyu, we decided to extend our trip, but then I missed the highly anticipated Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Auction 2023, in collaboration with Leon Gallery‘s Jaime Ponce De Leon.
Leading up to its 25th year, ACC Philippines held the fundraising event that bannered some of the most sought-after, rare and important works of art by Philippine masters and celebrated icons, including Alice Eduardo’s “Joya” art piece. From H.R. Ocampo’s ethereal “Evensong,” Manuel A. Rodriguez’s “Flight of Angels,” Vicente Manansala’s “Madonna” and Nena Saguil’s “Composition Red,” to a 1963 Fernando Zobel and an elusive Anita Magsaysay-Ho, “Fruit Market,” these works represent the artists who created an iconic age.
Proceeds from the auction went entirely to the ACC Philippine Fellowship Program that supports Filipino artists in their journeys of self-exploration and development through cultural exchange in the United States and/or intra-Asia. Since ACC’s founding in 1963, over 300 artists have received fellowship grants. The ACC alumni roll holds exceptional talent across all disciplines, some of whom have become National Artists. Among them are Jose Joya, Lucresia Kasilag, Lamberto Avellana, Alejandro Roces, Francisco Feliciano, Jose Maceda, Kidlat Tahimik, Ramon Santos and Alice Reyes.
Artistry through makeup
Fresh from a quick trip to Bangkok, I finally made it to the latest Estée Lauder event to launch the Double Wear Stay-In-Place Foundation with endorser BJ Pascual, a prominent figure in the fashion and photography world. Estée Lauder establishes their top-performing product in collaboration with BJ, who constantly pushes boundaries through his work. The “My Shade, My Story” campaign was launched at Whitespace.
BJ is an inspiring figure within the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines, which has been constantly growing in representation, thanks to our increasingly progressive society and the surge of shows such as “Drag Race Philippines.” Many individuals belonging to the queer community in the country are avid users of makeup and have been channeling their artistry through that, especially evident in the recent years. “Drag Race Philippines” has especially showcased Filipino pride through contestants’ talents and wit.
After the launch, I came home to a special bottle of Evian and Balmain for their first-time partnership, united over a shared vision to dream together and to innovate for future generations. This joint ambition is encapsulated in Evian’s upcoming Limited-Edition 75-cl glass bottle, designed together with Balmain, incorporating the fashion atelier’s signature Baroque embellishments that add drama and richness to each one of creative director Olivier Rousteing’s collections for the luxury fashion house.
The iconic water brand also created a unique fabric crafted from recycled Evian plastic bottles, which has been brought to life in a singularly modern couture creation by Rousteing, alongside the artisans of the historic Parisian fashion house.
And now, I am in Morocco! How wonderful life is!
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