Dashing spot: Calayan

Dashing spot: Calayan

A grueling 20-hour travel that ends nice—to real virgin natural attractions

Picture-perfect Sibang Cove.

Your castaway dreams can be made of this: 20 hours of butt-numbing bus ride and (literally) a rocking boat ride to get to far flung Calayan, part of the Babuyan Group of Islands at the northernmost tip of Luzon, 528 kilometers north of Manila.

Calayan’s main lure are its wildness and complete detachment from the world allowing you to enjoy its virgin natural attractions all by yourself—or except for maybe a local or two. It’s fabled for its white-sand beaches, stunningly blue lagoons,and beautiful hills particularly Nagudungan Hills, which offers a breathtaking view of the island’s three coves Caniwara, Sibang and Cababaan. Trek to Bangaan Hills for an IG-worthy ocean view of Calayan.

Get there

  • Take a Florida or RJC bus in Sampaloc Manila bound for Claveria, Cagayan, a 13-hour ride.
  • Get off at Claveria bus station, then take a tricycle going to the Claveria port.
  • Hop on a lampitaw, a native outrigger boat, to Calayan, a five- to seven-hour boat ride depending on the sea conditions.
  • Boats leave at 5am and 9am only. Pre-book your boat transfers.

TPS Homestay owned by Tessie Pimentel Singun offers an accommodation priced at Php300 (USD6) per night and Php120 per meal for each person. She can also help with boat hire. Call days in advance to book.
Mobile number: +63929 837 5737

Photo by Norma Rei Villamater



Fyre away

Fyre away

Music for everyone and the best baked mussels in town

The open air resto-bar-turned roofdeck has a casual vibe to it

In the character-laden village of Poblacion in Makati, where the swanky, gritty and the artsy collide, springs yet another resto-bar alluring to the middle-class Filipino crowd.

Fyre, which opened in December 2017, sits on an open-air roofdeck of a building on the corner of P. Burgos and Guerrero Streets. It’s no frill—wooden tables, benches and stools fenced in by planters, strings of lights hovering above, views of the immediate Poblacion vicinity and lit buildings of Rockwell Center in the distance. But don’t be fooled because it transforms into a legit party place as the night sets in.

If you come at 7pm you’ll spot guests having early dinner and drinks; the lights are brighter; the music, quieter. All these change by the hour.

On music, nobody’s left out. From 90s R&B to the most up to date tunes—the dj has got it covered.

There’s no scrimping on crew at Fyre and we appreciate its after effects—fast and efficient service.


The basked mussels are a must try. They’re grilled to perfection, seasoned just right

Mostly bar chows. The star attraction is the Fyre Roasted Pork belly, which was not what we had on our first visit. Instead we ordered bar chows we thought would go well with our drink of choice: ice cold beer. We had Chili Cheese Kropek, your typical crackling except that it’s coated in cheese powder and served along with pickled onion, black vinegar and chili on the side. We also ordered the TBT—tofu skin, bangus (milkfish) belly and tofu. Upon our request, the chef prepared it with no bangus but more tofu. It came out nice and light—fried-to-perfection on a bed of special sauce and sprinkled with chopped onions, tomatoes and herbs. I fell in love with the baked mussels—seasoned and baked just right—and the tasty chicken wings, which I thought could go well with steamed rice.


Local and imported beer, cocktails, hard drinks.

The basics
About Php400 (USD8) per person. Facebook.com/fyrerooftoploungeph

If you plan to go on a Friday or a Saturday night, reserve a table at least a week in advance

Seda Vertis North

Seda Vertis North

Find out how the biggest Seda hotel in the Philippines perfectly meld artsy and comfy. Plus more!

Contemporary giraffe wire sculpture adorn part of the lobby

Contemporary giraffe wire sculpture 
There is something likeable in the spacious lobby of Seda Vertis North, the sixth property of the Seda Hotel chain and biggest yet located on
Edsa in Quezon City. It’s like a hive of activity day in day out, all happening in a backdrop of muted hues, modern architecture, practical but beautiful furniture by Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma, and fun, Instragramable artworks by Ann Pamintuan.

438 guest rooms, meeting rooms for up to 100, a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 700, and an Ayala Mall right within the same compound are some of the pluses of Seda’s’ fairly young hotel, which opened in April 2017.


Author Ferdz Decena’s nest: The deluxe room

I stayed in a 32sqm deluxe room, which had a view of EDSA. Its sleeping comforts are notable—apt bed and beddings, faux wooden floors and adjustable in-room lighting—as were its modern conveniences like the 40-inch LED cable HDTV, media panel for connecting and charging gadgets, and an ample work desk.


Misto serves international and local cuisine, buffet or a la carte style. They have good coffee and pastries, while for the main, I liked their steaks. A la carte specialties are the Vertis Budger, four cheese pizza, and the super point chocolate cake for dessert.


Straight Up bar specialty includes local craft beer

Enjoy craft beer sourced from La Union at the relaxed Straight Up bar on the 23rd floor. Or have cocktails, wine, lager, beer or even coffee.


The large outdoor pool is as inviting as it can be no matter what season

While away at the large outdoor pool; have a treatment at the full-service spa while sipping delightful sambong tea; stay fit while on staycation using the hotel gym’s excellent lineup of Life Cycle equipment and free weights. A room dedicated for yoga and pilates is available.


From Phop5,000 (USD100) per night.
Visit Seda Vertis North.

Story and photos by Ferdz Decena

The place in Manila to get perfect hair

The place in Manila to get perfect hair

If money is not an issue then you should head to Philippe Tordjman Le Salon
 and get you the perfect hair cut, the perfect hair color, and more!

“Trend to me is what suits the person,” quips hair expert Philippe Tordjman when asked how he would de ne today’s hair trend.
Philippe casually chats with me, taking mental note of my habits and quirks. Then says, “you’re getting married; you don’t blow dry; and it seems to me you literally don’t do anything to your hair.”

Um… He’s right.

This no-nonsense advice is what you get if you book a service at Philippe Tordjman Le Salon located at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. The salon is just about the right size, fuss free, with young, well-trained staff; plus there’s the hands on boss, Philippe.

Once my hair’s been rinsed, Philippe takes the shears and cuts away, giving me a layered bob with asymmetrical bangs.

Then Yenji, Philippe’s senior hair stylist, does my hair color.

Yenji first dyes my hair to achieve a light ash brown color, and shows her assistants how to place the highlights. When done, another rinse, and finally a blow dry.

Then, voila! Got me the perfect-for-me hairstyle.


The basics

Haircut is from Php1,200 (USD24); hair color with highlights from Php7,250.

Visit Philippe Tordjman Le Salon

Story by Monica De Leon; photos by Daniel Soriano

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