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Close UpTatler Friends Describe Their Manila

Tatler Friends Describe Their Manila

Tatler Friends Describe Their Manila
By Philippine Tatler
July 27, 2018
There's truly no place like home. In this feature, we pick the brains of 7 of our society friends to find out just what they love about Manila and their top picks in the city

1/7Ina Ayala

This loving mum and wife who has graced our cover and pages many times is an accomplished equestrienne with international triumphs to her name. She loves the arts, has taken to photography as a hobby, and travels extensively.

"Manila is a city that I understand. It has many facets—bright ones, dark ones—but once you have seen and experienced each of them, you discover what makes the city tick. And then it becomes pretty hard to forget."

RESTAURANTS: The Last Chukker at the Manila Polo Club, not only because it’s my sister’s, but it’s a place you would see me and my family eat at a lot. M Dining for the prawn and chorizo pasta, and the cotechino chips.
HOTEL: The Manila Hotel is truly special, having so much history and importance in our city’s story. Manila Peninsula, as its lobby holds a lot of seasonal celebrations. It is also a great after-party venue.
GYM: The Manila Polo Club stables’ Big Arena is the best place to burn calories, while sitting on a charming horse to boot.
DESIGNERS: Inno Sotto for formal wear; the late Pitoy Moreno, as well as Lulu Tan Gan for Filipiniana; Bea Valdes, Celestina, Rafe, and Aranaz for accessories. For furniture: Kenneth Cobonpue, Vito Selma, and Budji Layug.
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: Coron, Palawan—hands down!
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: Siargao, as I’d like to see what all the hype is all about.
WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE FOREIGN GUESTS? I would start with a welcome drink at the roof deck of Manila House, then host a Filipino-themed dinner at its Anahaw Room. I would make sure they visit the many pop-up stores in the city for local clothes, accessories, and homeware. For crafts, I would take them to Balikbayan Handicrafts, Tesoros, and Silahis Arts. I would encourage them to visit Intramuros; show off our beautiful Manila Bay sunset at the Sofitel poolside. For a taste of Filipino hospitality, I would invite them at home and for an unforgettable experience, I would prepare a decadent [but civilised] boodle fight. Can’t get more unforgettable than that!

2/7Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez

This half-Swiss, half-Filipina stunner is the VP for Sales and Business Development at Philux, a high-end, elegant furniture and lifestyle brand. Aside from her keen eye for classy interiors and furniture, this elegant wife and mother of two is also known for her exquisite sense of style, for which she has previously been written about and awarded for multiple times.

RESTAURANTS: People’s Palace’s Thai and Caruso’s Italian fare are classic and reliable; Tsukiji and Yakumi in Solaire for Japanese; Rambla as a neighbourhood hangout; and L’Entrecote, as the family goes there for steak frites. I also really love M Dining.
HOTEL: Solaire Casino’s Sky Tower has beautiful rooms, great service, and an amazing view of Manila Bay.
GYM: Kerry Sports, Steps Dance Studio, and Saddle Row, which I have recently tried.
DESIGNERS: Rajo Laurel, Rosanna Ocampo Rodriguez, Bea Valdes, and Vania Romoff for fashion. Ito Kish, Kenneth Cobonpue, Milo Naval, and my sister Jessica Kienle-Maxwell for interiors and furniture.
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: A log cabin in Baguio. I love the cool weather. In Manila, the terrace of our apartment on a cool evening!
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: Batanes is the next place on my list.
WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE FOREIGN GUESTS? The Pinatubo hike, Antonio’s in Tagaytay, Intramuros, the old Manila river front, and more personal spots like the port area and our furniture workshop for a glimpse of our day-to-day life.

3/7Marion Branellec-De Guzman

This young newlywed is the brand manager of international jewellery brand Jewelmer, known for the Golden South Sea Pearl. She loves nature, the sea, and an active lifestyle. Though she grew up in the Philippines, she spent several years studying in Australia and this dual perspective has changed the way she looks at the world.

"It is the Pearl of the Orient. I was born and raised in Manila, and it will always be home. Family values are treasured. The warm people, the vast array of local and international food, and the wave of cultural exhibitions and events."

RESTAURANTS: There are so many to choose from! My list of favourites always changes. The first two that come to mind, however, are Tilde Hand Craft Café and Samba—delicious food and the ambience in both is pleasant.
HOTEL: Shangri-La at the Fort.
GYM: Central Grounds Fitness in BGC [for crossfit].
DESIGNERS: Mia Arcenas, Rosenthal Tee, and Rhett Eala.
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: Antonio’s in Tagaytay or Palawan, which has the best beaches in the world. In the city, I like taking my mini schnauzer to the BGC dog park where he can run free. I hope we maintain our parks as it’s nice to still have some greenery amidst all the high-rises.
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: Siargao. I’m looking forward to going there for a wedding. I like to go to places where the local culture is still intact and the environment is preserved.

4/7Rajo Laurel

He is one of our country’s most notable, in-demand Filipino fashion designers, and has dressed high society’s biggest names and celebrities too. Rajo has multiple stores, a thriving label, and a still growing clientele; in addition, he has garnered many awards for this hard work and talent.

RESTAURANTS: The restaurant scene in Manila is thriving and so alive. I do have my favourites like Cirkulo and Hey, Handsome. I also love Mecha Uma and Sala!
HOTEL: I am sentimental about hotels and The Manila Peninsula always brings back so many beautiful memories. If I have the luxury of time, I love having a long afternoon tea in the lobby and reminisce about my Lola Betty. I do love Solaire as well as I think it’s very beautiful. Henry Hotel in Manila is another favourite as it is very charming and really feels like Manila to me.
GYM: I do my cardio spin class at Ride Revolution. It’s a great workout as you feel like you’ve gone to a club and danced your heart out. The gym at The Rockwell Club is also good as this is just below where I live.
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: Definitely Antonio’s in Tagaytay. That’s my little escape. In Manila, I love escaping to either art galleries or museums. Recently, I found refuge at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design [MCAD]; it was quite relaxing and rejuvenating.
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: I would love to go back to Batanes. It truly is one of my favourite parts of our country. I love being surrounded by lots of greens and clean fresh air.
WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE FOREIGN GUESTS? I always take my foreign guests to Cirkulo, as this is our clubhouse and it is the closest thing to having them eat at our home for me. Another place I would take them is Blackbird because apart from its historical location, the food is consistently delicious and the atmosphere, divine.

5/7Tippi Tambunting

She is a brilliant chef who has now transitioned to running multiple restaurant concepts—from M Dining to Donosti. Tippi truly enjoys what she is doing and it shows in the way she has her finger on the pulse of our local dining scene and her awareness of international culinary trends. She has helped elevate the local food industry and continues to contribute to its growth.

"I grew up in Manila. It is my home and that is why it is special to me."

RESTAURANTS: Kyoto and BlackBird
HOTEL: I grew up going to Peninsula Hotel, but I also like Raffles Hotel.
GYM: Electric Studio and B+B studio
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: Antonio’s is a great local escape.
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: I want to explore Palawan more and see the other beaches.

6/7Marilu Batchelor

This well travelled mother of two has lived around the world. Nevertheless, this highly stylish handbag designer, creative director for the brand Lulu B, and a director on the board of volunteer advocacy Hands On Manila still proudly calls the Philippines her home.

RESTAURANTS: I love Mirèio, Raffles’ elegant French brasserie style cuisine and its chic roof terrace bar with stunning views of the Makati skyline all the way to Manila Bay. Another favourite is M Dining with the innovative and creative Chef Tippi Tambunting at its helm. People’s Palace never disappoints with its consistent and flavourful Thai cuisine. Terry’s is another favourite for excellent Spanish food.
HOTEL: Fairmont Raffles tops my list! I especially love Raffles’ old world charm but with a modern flair. I also have a soft spot for the Peninsula.
GYM: My new favourite workout is rowing class at Saddle Row in Rockwell with my Zumba group. I also love taking boxing classes at Flyweight.
DESIGNERS: Rajo Laurel. I was his 8th bride 24 years ago! He has been my friend and designer for many years. Rajo is hugely talented, incredibly creative, and open to collaborating, which I love. He never fails to make you feel like a princess in his gowns!
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: AmanPulo—peace, tranquility, unparalleled beauty, and luxury. In the city, I love going to my local country club. I sit outdoors overlooking the sprawling green fi eld, enjoy the tropical breeze and just chill.
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: El Nido! Next on my travel wish list.
WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE FOREIGN GUESTS? To the beautiful and historic Santuario Del Santo Cristo church in San Juan, which was the church I attended with my family as a child. It was fi rst built in 1602 and though it has been re-built and renovated through the centuries, it still retains its Old World glory and is abundantly rich in history.

7/7Jaime Ponce De Leon

He is a patron of the arts and an expert in his field. As the director of Leon Gallery, this sophisticated man of the world uses his diverse cultural and artistic experiences whenever he supervises art auctions and gallery productions.

"There is an endless stream of beautiful people in Manila. There is so much creativity in this city and I’m always surprised."

RESTAURANTS: I like M Dining and Tsukiji for their consistency in everything.
HOTEL: I like Raffles for the nice rooms.
GYM: I like Raffles Gym because there’s hardly any people.
DESIGNERS: Pepito Albert for being so unique.
FAVOURITE SPOT IN THE COUNTRY: I go to Dumaguete as I’m from there. In the city, homes of my friends are fun hangout spots.
A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT: I haven’t been to Siargao so it should be the next destination.
WHERE WOULD YOU TAKE FOREIGN GUESTS? I would take them to San Agustin and Casa Manila as they are good showcases of Philippine art, style, and life.


Catch the full story in the July 2018 issue of Philippine Tatler, available in all leading newsstands and bookstores, and downloadable via Magzter, Zinio, and Pressreader.

Cover photo by Mikepua, taken from


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