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Life and travel in the time of Covid-19

On the move at the time of the pandemic.

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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 info@zestmag.com.

Destinations

Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers venue for weddings

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers a charming blend of modern sophistication and timeless elegance, perfect for bringing dream weddings to life, from the grand entrance to the intimate moments, we ensure that every wedding is a distinct and unforgettable experience.

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Every couple has envisioned their perfect wedding, meticulously planning every detail from the outfits to the rings. The venue is such a vital element, and we’re thrilled to offer an option that might be just what you’re looking for.

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers a charming blend of modern sophistication and timeless elegance, perfect for bringing dream weddings to life, from the grand entrance to the intimate moments, we ensure that every wedding is a distinct and unforgettable experience. 

A Bespoke Wedding Experience

Lanson Place Mall of Asia’s attraction is the Saffron Grand Ballroom, a beautiful space perfect for a dreamy wedding celebration. It has a classic elegance and offers a versatile setting that fits any style, making it a great venue for all sorts of events.

The Saffron Grand Ballroom is a spacious, pillarless, high-ceiling ballroom that spans 676 sqm. It features a dedicated lobby, with a grand staircase that leads seamlessly into the ballroom where the magic unfolds. Couples and their wedding entourage can use private dressing rooms, equipped with vanity mirrors and a sizable lounge area, as they prepare for the special day. Couples can also customise the Saffron Grand Ballroom, tailoring the venue to their heart’s desires. 

In addition to the ballroom, the Courtyard, a tranquil oasis on the third floor, provides a harmonious backdrop for intimate wedding ceremonies, seamlessly blending the sophistication of contemporary architectural design with the warmth of nature’s embrace.    

“Every wedding should reflect the couple’s unique story,” said Rheinna Laberinto, Assistant Director of Events. “We want to make sure that each wedding is as distinctive and memorable as the couples themselves.”

Exceptional Management and Service

At Lanson Place Mall of Asia, personalised service begins the moment couples start planning their wedding. Lanson Place’s team of event specialists collaborates closely with each couple to curate a tailored wedding experience that caters to their particular needs and desires.

From hand-picking the perfect menu and overseeing table layouts to managing guests on the big day, the Lanson Place dedicated event specialists meticulously consider every element of the wedding. They make sure the big day is flawlessly executed, allowing couples to focus on celebrating their love. Whether couples envision a lavish ceremony or an intimate gathering, the team of devoted hosts is committed to making every wedding day stress-free and memorable.

“We understand that weddings are one of the most important days in a couple’s life, and we are honoured to be part of that journey,” said Laurent Boisdron, Vice President & General Manager. “Our commitment on your special day is all about you and we pay much attention to detail to ensure that every wedding at Lanson Place Mall of Asia is not only beautiful but truly unforgettable.”

Design a wedding as unique as your love story with Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila. Discover how Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila can craft the wedding of your dreams by visiting Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila’s booth at the Themes and Motifs Bridal Fair this 22-23 June 2024. Avail of the best bespoke wedding packages and make your special day truly unforgettable.

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Dining Out

Citadines Bacolod City brings new restaurants

Standing tall in the heart of Bacolod, this sleek urban oasis beckons guests with its contemporary design and unique island hospitality. Offering modern amenities, stylish interiors, and the distinct Negrense warmth, travelers can seamlessly transition from the bustling streets of Bacolod to the serene comfort of their accommodations at Citadines Bacolod City.

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Citadines Bacolod City, the Ascott Limited’s newest addition to its property roster, is the next go-to destination in the Visayas region, offering modern and comfortable accommodations for both business and leisure travelers.

Standing tall in the heart of Bacolod, this sleek urban oasis beckons guests with its contemporary design and unique island hospitality. Offering modern amenities, stylish interiors, and the distinct Negrense warmth, travelers can seamlessly transition from the bustling streets of Bacolod to the serene comfort of their accommodations at Citadines Bacolod City.

The property offers an array of accommodation options tailored to meet the diverse needs of guests. From Studio Apartments to Two-Bedroom Deluxe Rooms, each space is thoughtfully designed to provide the utmost comfort and convenience and ensures there’s accommodation suitable for any type of stay. Additionally, guests can take advantage of the inviting communal areas, which include a stylish lobby lounge, a well-equipped fitness center, and versatile event spaces.

During the sneak peek into Citadines Bacolod City, guests can savor culinary delights at the property’s in-house restaurants. Options encompass the Lobby Café which is Pureza, Grab and Go with Tam-is, Namit for all-day dining, Fuego Bar and Lounge for bar and lounge experiences highlighting steaks, and Adlao for poolside refreshments.

“Tam-is,” a charming corner on the ground floor, is named after the Hiligaynon term for sweet. Providing a quick grab-and-go option for food, like coffee and pastries, for guests who are always on the move, Tam-is greatly lives by the ideal that ‘life is sweet’ and is a nod to the joys and richness of life’s experiences. “Puerza” completes the lobby’s artisanal bakery and café experience by offering finely crafted European-style boulangerie and French viennoiserie for a sit-down and relax experience throughout the day.

At “Fuego Bar and Lounge,” guests can enjoy a menu featuring a variety of steaks, antipasti boards, sides, and cocktails that draws inspiration from the flames of the majestic volcanoes that surround the Negros region. Located on the second floor alongside the “Namit” all-day dining restaurant. It promises an unforgettable dining experience through its various unique ala carte dishes inspired by local and Southeast Asian cuisine.

When it’s time to unwind by the pool, retreat to “Adlao.” From fresh fruit platters to savory appetizers, guests can savor a tempting selection of snacks, refreshing juices, and expertly crafted cocktails all while enjoying the peaceful nature of the space.

“We are excited to offer guests a sneak peek into Citadines Bacolod City and provide them with a glimpse of the modern urban oasis and the different culinary offerings we have been working on,” said Jose Mari Medrano, Citadines Bacolod City’s Executive Chef.

Citadines Bacolod City’s signature program, City Hacks, and its staff, known as Citazens, offer guests an authentic local experience. With personalized recommendations and insider tips, Citazens help guests take full advantage of the city’s authentic local experience. These can include immersing in the city’s culture, cuisine, and hidden gems. Furthermore, for those looking to dive deeper into the food culture of Bacolod, the property’s Citazens are well-equipped to offer city hacks to help navigate the culinary scene with ease, guiding guests to the most authentic eateries and culinary hotspots.

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Destinations

Boracay’s OG Japanese restaurant turns 17

Located at the center of the lively D’Mall, Station 2, Boracay, HAMA provides a Zen-like, casual ambiance that perfectly complements its beachfront location. It’s easy to spot, as strings of red and black Japanese lanterns line their alfresco roof, while the inside seating area has wood and stone natural elements, reminiscent of a minimalist Japanese garden.

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HAMA, Boracay’s top Japanese restaurant celebrates its 17th birthday, as it continues to proudly offer a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine. From fresh sushi to mouth-watering teppanyaki dishes, HAMA strengthens its reputation further as a must-visit gastronomy destination on the island.

Located at the center of the lively D’Mall, Station 2, Boracay, HAMA provides a Zen-like, casual ambiance that perfectly complements its beachfront location. It’s easy to spot, as strings of red and black Japanese lanterns line their alfresco roof, while the inside seating area has wood and stone natural elements, reminiscent of a minimalist Japanese garden.

The name “hama,” meaning “beach” in Japanese, is a fitting tribute to its close proximity to Boracay’s pristine white sands and gorgeous blue seas, which a 3-minute walk can access. This casual setting, combined with the vibrant atmosphere of D’Mall, makes HAMA an ideal spot for intimate lunch outs, and family gatherings. Since its opening in 2007, HAMA has built an esteemed reputation as a favorite dining spot among tourists, known for its memorable authentic Japanese dishes that delight first-time travelers, and patrons coming back for more.


HAMA’s tender and delicious pork tonkatsu rice bowl

Owned by the successful duo Juan Elizalde and Paolo Occhionero, the same masterminds behind the other island-popular dining establishments ARIA Cucina Italiana, Boracay Beach Truck, and Cafe Del Sol, HAMA continues to impress with its diverse menu. Diners and patrons can enjoy traditional Japanese dishes with innovative modern twists, catering to various cravings and tastes, ensuring a dish and drink for everyone. Signature offerings include the exquisite sushi boat with 32 pieces of their bestsellers, flavorful teppanyaki udon with juicy, well-seasoned beef, and hearty bowls of ramen with rich and decadent broth. 


Be wowed by HAMA’s 32-piece sushi boat, perfect for big groups

The restaurant’s sushi and teppanyaki stations are standout features, showcasing the chefs’ expertise and providing customers with a captivating dining experience. The dishes are reasonably priced, and designed to be shared family-style, allowing guests to sample a variety of flavors in one meal, while extending their travel budgets, too.

Other than the relaxing ambiance, delicious food, and reasonable price points, the team’s warmth and excellence in service are what people recognize and love about HAMA, too. Under the leadership of COO, Ernesto Casas, who has been with the group for a decade and counting, the staff and team members are always ready to serve with eagerness and enthusiasm, giving traveling diners a pleasant and memorable experience every time. 

For those vacationing in Boracay, HAMA is a culinary destination not to be missed. Its commitment to food quality, dining ambiance, and customer satisfaction ensures an unforgettable dining experience that stands out on this beautiful island.

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