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Life and travel in the time of Covid-19

On the move at the time of the pandemic.



By Carol Esguerra Colborn

When Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, my husband and I cut short our annual three-month, all-inclusive vacation at a resort in Mazatlan, Mexico. When we left, the statistics were pretty grim and the US had become the new epicenter (still remains as such). But home is the best place to do self-isolation, not on a cruise ship out at sea or a hotel room in a foreign country.

Our Extended Time at Home

There were a few things we have learned to do to make our extended time at home a more meaningful pause. The new normal had begun to take shape. It includes things like online shopping, picking up groceries, cooking with substitute ingredients, exercising with videos, new levels of cleaning, watching movies on demand, and consulting with doctors through telehealth.

Zoom participation also exploded, fostering online activities that replaced physical interactions. We had kept engaged with family and friends while we were RVing for eight years around North America. It was no different during the time of Covid-19. Since most schools were closed, I thought it best to help with the kids. I conducted an hour-long session three times a week with my grandsons, aged four to six, and another once a week with those ages thirteen to fourteen. I was so happy that I got more engaged with my family, considering that my three daughters live in three different countries.

Upgrading my Zoom to “pro” to enable longer meetings—the free version is maxed at 40 minutes—I was even able to launch Zoom parties for residents of Viewpoint Golf Resort in Arizona where we live, playing online bingo and trivial pursuit. We did the same with meetings, parties, and fundraisers of our University of the Philippines Alumni Association in Arizona and America. Soon, our Christmas Party will feature Charades and a Silent Auction on Zoom, respectively. And then, as before, I found a project that made the time more productive. The last time, when my husband and I decided to stay apart for more than a month, my first book Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream was born. This time, during the Covid-19 lockdown, I was able to write my second travel book, Cruising Past Seventy. It’s Not Only about Outer Journeys. It’s Also about Inner Ones (I did not change the title to “Cruising with Coronavirus”). This is what I call a flagship project, big enough to consume one’s energy, to be fueled by one’s passion, and to be worthy of your time. I have found that finding a flagship project has been a great antidote to any over-arching problem I have encountered.

New Ways of Traveling

But, with a traveler’s soul, we had to find ways to continue encountering fresh places and ideas. As soon as the lockdown was lifted, we considered our car an extension of our home; it is a place we can keep as clean as we do our home. We created a short list of places where we could go, breathe good fresh air, and practice natural social distancing, like the state, regional, and national parks around us that were still open. When we didn’t see people on the trails, we got out of the car and walked a little. If not, we just continued driving. The operative principle was to distance ourselves from others, but not from nature. Taal Lake and Volcano, Hidden Valley Springs, Pagsanjan Falls, Pinatubo Crater, Lake Caliraya, and Villa Escudero around Manila come to mind.

In fact, when there was a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Arizona, we decided that we should actually go from our higher risk home to lower risk areas that accepted us. We went to three mountain retreats in Utah, Colorado, and California, and invited our children to meet with us there. Maybe Baguio does not meet the requirements for a mountain retreat because it is so crowded but maybe Hundred Islands or Subic Bay may qualify. But since the family members we met were not in our bubble—the people you live with and share daily activities with, like my husband and I are for each other—we developed certain rules to follow when we were with them. Those rules followed the principles of avoiding crowds, social distancing, preferring to be outdoors, frequent hand washing, and the wearing of masks.

In the process, we developed new rules for keeping safe visiting with loved ones during this time. For the foreseeable future, especially when we are still under the threat of viral diseases, we will follow these practices, especially numbers one to five. We still hope these rules can be relaxed later; but the sixth we hope we can do away with sooner, especially with loved ones.

1. Go to areas with lower incidences of Covid-19.

It is good that there are plenty of data to drill down to, even to zip codes. We have selected restaurants, groceries, mountain retreats, towns, counties, and states, this way.

2. Meet only in uncrowded open-air spaces.

Stick to patio seating for eating out, drive-in theaters for watching movies, outdoor services for worship, and hiking at off-the-beaten-path trails as a preferred activity.

3. Do not spend unreasonably long time with others.

CDC says more than fifteen minutes is too long. But, as long as we are socially distanced and masked, we have extended this to a maximum of two hours.

4. Do not ride with others in the same vehicle.

This makes us stick to our car as our preferred mode of travel. We are currently eliminating planes, ships, trains, and buses as options for travel.

5. Do not share rooms with people not in your bubbles

So we no longer stay in our children’s homes and no longer book multi-bedroom units but keep to separate units if we stay in the same hotel or resort. We also stick to our timeshares. As owners, we feel better taken care of. For example they keep twelve hours between check out and check in and do not send anyone, cleaners or technicians into the room during our entire stay.

6. Do not shake hands or hug.

When we cannot help it and want to express some warmth, we elbow-bump for a second.

We canceled our trips in April but resumed our travels in July. And we still intend to go to Mexico for our annual stay in January, if therapeutics and vaccines advance. Self-isolation helped flatten the curve for our community and the world when we had to do it.

Creative ideas helped us remain productive during our extended time at home. And with new rules, we have found a way to continue traveling and still be safe.

Believing that everyone's perspective is important, Zest Magazine has opted to provide an avenue for these perspectives to be known. care to hear the publication's contributing writers; or better yet, do some contributing yourself by contacting


Araneta City announces offerings for the holidays

This year, Araneta City celebrates the holiday with the theme “The City of Firsts: Your Home for Christmas” to encapsulate the warm essence of the season – the familiar comfort of celebrating with your loved ones, the delightful spirit of sharing and giving, and the tender feeling of being at home.



The most wonderful time of the year has arrived, and Araneta City is all set to make the much-awaited season truly special and extra memorable! 

This year, Araneta City celebrates the holiday with the theme “The City of Firsts: Your Home for Christmas” to encapsulate the warm essence of the season – the familiar comfort of celebrating with your loved ones, the delightful spirit of sharing and giving, and the tender feeling of being at home.

Create new Christmas memories at Araneta City by spending time with loved ones at the New Gateway Mall 2. Explore the mall’s wide array of dining options for meetups and gatherings. Make gift giving extra special by checking out the latest and trendiest items at the selection of new stores.

Spend time with your love ones at the spacious Quantum Skyview, and snap some groufies by the towering Christmas tree or by the dynamic LED ceiling display. Or bring them to the Sagrada Familia Church on the uppermost floor for moments of spiritual renewal and reflection.

For a more nostalgic holiday touch, check out these beloved classic attractions at the City of Firsts:

1. Fiesta Carnival: A reunion with nostalgia

One of the most cherished facets of Araneta City’s Yuletide celebration this year is the return of the Fiesta Carnival — the famous indoor theme park of the yesteryears. The OG go-to carnival from the 70s to the 90s will be revived at its original location to rekindle cherished childhood memories and create new ones. 

Friends and families are invited to enjoy thrilling rides and games that will evoke the same old happy feelings of innocence and youthfulness in a modern setting. Watch out for its opening across the Smart Araneta Coliseum Green Gate.

2. Giant Christmas Tree: The centerpiece of the holidays

The Giant Christmas Tree at the City of Firsts is a quintessential part of Christmas celebrations in the metro. The towering holiday symbol, which has been Araneta City’s tradition since 1981, glistens in gold, silver, and red to suit the bright colorful season. 

Complementing the overall design of the giant Christmas trees this year is a golden carousel that was placed underneath the tree, an ode to the returning Fiesta Carnival for an enchanting atmosphere of nostalgia and togetherness. Visit the bright tree at the Times Square Park.

3. Parolan: Your one-stop for everything Christmas

Parolan is another annual tradition that embodies the Christmas spirit in Aranera City. Running until December 31, this festive marketplace is a must-visit place for all holiday decorating needs. 

Here, visitors can find a wide assortment of Christmas decorations, including twinkling lights, baubles, and the iconic Pinoy parol (Filipino

lantern). This treasure trove of holiday decor makes it easy for people to transform their homes into a winter wonderland. So drop by at Parolan at the Farmers Garden Parking.

4. More Christmas delights at the City of Firsts

Araneta City is brimming with more festive cheers and dazzling displays for a familiar home-y holiday feels:

  • A breathtaking fireworks display, every Friday to Sunday until December 30;
  • colorful Santa meet-and-greet sessions every weekend until December 25, and Christmas Mascot Parade every Sunday until Christmas. 
  • Santa’s Workshop at the Quantum Skyview, New Gateway Mall 2; and 
  • enchanting evening busking at Manhattan Row from December 5 to 28.

With all these Christmas offers, Araneta City is warmly welcoming everyone to celebrate, create cherished memories, and rediscover the joys of being home for the holidays. 

Experience the magic of the holiday season in a place that truly feels like home only at the City of Firsts.  

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Filipino travelers value flexibility and accommodation choices – Visa

Filipinos value flexibility and accommodation choices, where 75% of travelers prioritized cleanliness when choosing their accommodation for the trip as a possible effect of the pandemic, and 35% of travelers chose to travel independently instead of packaged tours.



As post-pandemic travel resumes, research shows that flexibility, convenience, and safety continue to be sought after by travelers around the globe. The latest Visa Global Travel Intentions Study (GTI) 2023[1] shows the evolving travel habits of travelers, presenting a roadmap for businesses to cater to their needs.

In the Philippines, some key findings of the GTI study revealed that Filipinos value flexibility and accommodation choices, where 75% of travelers prioritized cleanliness when choosing their accommodation for the trip as a possible effect of the pandemic, and 35% of travelers chose to travel independently instead of packaged tours.

Jeff Navarro, Visa’s Country Manager for the Philippines and Guam said, “We continue to see outbound travel bouncing back in the country to pre-pandemic levels, where Filipinos have taken on average two leisure trips in the last 12 months. We are optimistic that tourism will remain a vital backbone of the economy as we move toward the year-end holiday season, as Visa continues to facilitate safe and secure cross-border shopping activity, both for inbound tourists shopping at our many wonderful local landmarks, and for Filipinos traveling locally or abroad”.

The GTI Study revealed that the key motivations for Filipinos travelling locally and abroad are mostly for relaxation (69%), exploring something new (52%), and for adventure (48%).

The top three destinations abroad for 89% of Filipino travelers are to Asia Pacific countries such as Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, with travel peaking between December 2022 and March 2023.

“While we are also optimistic of the digitalization of travel that extends across buying airline tickets and tours, accommodation, travel insurance, and shopping, the study also showed 66% of Filipino travelers had payment concerns prior to leaving for their trip. This can be stressful for those who are not yet well-versed in digital payments, and who feel the need to carry cash and find money changers and ATMs. Contactless payments have emerged as the mode of choice in many places around the world, and we are supportive of all stakeholders in the ecosystem working together to enable cashless and contactless payments in the Philippines,” Jeff added.

The path to progress in tourism is a shared journey, and Visa will continue playing a role in shaping the industry’s future through widespread acceptance of digital payments for everyone, everywhere.

[1] The Global Intentions Study 2023 surveys more than 40,000 consumers globally across 37 markets including around 1,000 respondents in the Philippines, on travelers’ recent trips in the past 12 months and intention to travel in the next 12 months. The study’s fieldwork was conducted from April 2023 to June 2023.

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The Ascott Limited unveils Citadines Roces Quezon City

Once completed, Citadines Roces Quezon City holds the potential to establish the Ascott Limited within Quezon City, leading to growth opportunities and further brand awareness to the northern parts of the metro.



The Ascott Limited (Ascott) is thrilled to announce the upcoming opening of its latest serviced residence, Citadines Roces Quezon City, located in the vibrant Quezon City.

With its prime location in Don A. Roces Avenue Diliman, Citadines Roces promises to be a premier destination for both business and leisure travelers seeking a comfortable and convenient getaway experience in the heart of Metro Manila. Once completed, Citadines Roces Quezon City holds the potential to establish the Ascott Limited within Quezon City, leading to growth opportunities and further brand awareness to the northern parts of the metro.

Quezon City, the largest city in Metro Manila and the capital of the Philippines has been experiencing rapid growth in terms of development. As a recognized emerging district with established townships and mixed-use communities, the city has become a hub for multinational companies and government offices. Citadines Roces Quezon City is strategically situated near these businesses, as well as shopping malls and renowned companies, providing the utmost convenience to its potential residents.

Set to open its doors in November 2023, the serviced residence offers 200 well-appointed suites, including studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Each residence is thoughtfully designed to provide a combination of style and comfort while also showcasing its modern look designed for functionality. Future guests of the property can expect a seamless blend of contemporary amenities and top-of-the-line personalized services to cater to their needs and preferences.

The serviced residence boasts a range of exceptional amenities, ensuring that every guest is in for a well-rounded living experience. From a retail podium offering convenient shopping options to performance spaces that inspire creativity, Citadines Roces Quezon City is designed to cater to the most diverse type of travelers. The property also features an all-day dining restaurant, function spaces for meetings and events, a swimming pool, a fully equipped fitness center, and a resident’s lounge for both relaxation and socializing.

“As we introduce Citadines Roces Quezon City, we are excited to offer a dynamic and modern living concept that meets the evolving needs of today’s travelers,” said Philip Barnes, Ascott’s Country General Manager. “With its strategic location and an array of amenities, Citadines  Roces is poised to be a preferred choice for those seeking a comfortable and convenient serviced residence experience in Quezon City.”

As The Ascott Limited expands its presence in the Philippines, Citadines Roces Quezon City represents the brand’s commitment to offering an unparalleled level of comfort, convenience, and contemporary living in prime locations nationwide. 

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