My best holiday in the Philippines was…in Amanpulo when it first opened in the late 90s. It was empty, unspoilt. We saw dolphins and it was just wonderful. We stayed there for a week.
The best Philippine hotel for me is…Amanpulo.
The best Philippine destinations for me are…Palawan for beaches. But overall, Cebu because it’s got the nice city and the beaches.
One hidden gem in Cebu is…Abaca Resort, a small, exclusive resort with only nine rooms. Not many people know of it. Its beach is quite small. It’s only about 20 minutes away from the Mactan International Airport, right next to the Shangri-La Mactan resort. Their food is wonderful; it’s their main draw. The scallop risotto is excellent; the thin crust pizzas are good.
My favorite local buys are…fresh and dried fruit. Our dried mangoes and fruits are the best in the world. Banilad Road in Cebu is a good place to buy fruits. Go to Healthy Options for organic stuff and vitamins. We get our Italian foodstuff from Corte Fiorita [now Il Ducato Trading, a wholesaler of Italian ingredients]. For fashion, the Ayala Mall in Cebu is a good place for local and international brands. In Manila, I frequent Greenbelt 5 and the Greenbelt area in general and Rockwell.
For pampering, I have someone who comes to my house once a week for massages. My favorite is the Swedish massage. I use this body oil made from Thailand, which is really good. Abaca’s Anna Hyatt also makes wonderful aromatherapy and burning oils. If I could find the time to go to a spa, I’d go to The Spa here in Cebu.
Fashion and design events I would recommend for people to check out are…Manila Fame held every April and October. It’s a big event showcasing the country’s export products. Participants accept orders. And there’s the Philippine Fashion Week showcasing works of local designers.
My travel advice are…research on the weather to be sure you take enough warm clothes if needed; never drink water unless it’s bottled; and never eat anything raw unless you’re sure of the cleanliness of the place.
My travel essentials are…several books, my iPod, my Clarins moisturizer, my smartphone and mosquito repellent.
I would love to go to…El Nido and some resorts in Puerto Princesa and relax in beautiful beaches.
I’ve never had a bad holiday in the Philippines.
The worst hotel I’ve stayed in was in Subic. We had a gig there. The room smelled bad. It had that cockroach-y smell, which I hated. I don’t like places that aren’t clean. A hotel doesn’t have to be fancy for me. I don’t mind if it’s budget provided that it’s clean.
On holidays, I avoid…tourists. I don’t like traveling with tour guides and planned itineraries. I like discovering a place on my own and being able to live like a local. And Exercise. When on holiday, I’m lazy.
I love holidays but not…the actual traveling, the checking in and out, the packing and unpacking, the jetlag, and not being able to take everything with you.
Victoria Marin is a jewelry designer from Cebu. Visit Victoria Marin Limited.
Head to World Trade Center in Pasay City on April 21 to 24 for the 63th Manila Fame, a bi-annual design and lifestyle event that showcases furniture and home furnishings, holiday gifts and décor, and fashion accessories designed and crafted in the Philippines for the global market. The second Manila Fame event this year is in October.Visit Manila Fame.
-By Monica De Leon
Originally published in InFlight Traveller February to March 2010. Updated April 2016