One of the best things about my job in SariSariSounds’ is that I get to go to some of the most beautiful (hidden) places in the Philippines.
This February, I went to Casa San Miguel (Zambales) with Starbucks, Villa Malasimbo (Puerto Galera) with the Malasimbo Festival Team, and God knows how many events that involved people like Tara McPherson and Vincent Moon. I had meetings with visionaries and change makers all set at the most beautiful hidden spots in the Metro; Like sunset at the penthouse of the Fairway Tower in Fort Bonifacio, this New Orleans-inspired bar somewhere in Salcedo Village, and at the most comfortable coworking space in Metro Manila (one of my favoritest places in the world right now).
Consider this my hat-tip to gin pomelos, apple slices, San Miguel Premiums at four in the afternoon, freshly baked banana bread (“it’s organic, don’t panic!”), random talks about meditation and raw food, and instant sangria during meetings.
A tip for photographers who like chasing sunsets: Fort Bonifacio always has one of the best sunsets ever.
For me, the meetings and trips are a sort of coming home, or like reliving a part of my childhood or adolescence. It seems I am walking the ways of my father (a socio-economic development consultant) and my grandmother (an anti-drug-abuse advocate). There is no use denying it. I was just brought up like this. But I bring a little bit of what I learned from my mother’s family into this: the efficiency and effectiveness of self-discipline, the pleasure of perfection, and the passion for music and the arts.
With Casa San Miguel, I waxed nostalgic over chorale music, as it has been a good seven years since I last sang as a coloratura soprano. I found myself a little sad that they were still singing pieces arranged by people who were old when I last sang in a choir. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, some kids need to step up and shake the local classical music world.
Casa San Miguel itself was a gem. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting, but whatever it was that I saw there in Zambales was not it. Casa San Miguel was definitely more than what I was expecting. My friends and I are planning to go back there when Dave Eggar and Coke Bolipata jams together.
I loved that they kept the general lay-out of the bahay na bato that was the old house, and just added and modified where necessary. Modernity and antiquity living comfortably in one house, you can say. The food in the café was tasty, if not at all meat-lover-friendly. There was this one cookie that until now makes me wax poetic. You have to understand: I have very high standards when it comes to cookies. My mom makes the best kind of cookies, and for me to remember this cookie… it was just that good. I actually brought it home with me, just wrapped it carefully, tenderly, in a piece of tissue, and saved it for breakfast the next day.
I fell in love with Villa Malasimbo and the beautiful D’Abovilles. At night, in their beautiful hidden home, the wind swept through the house howling and moaning while Agnes Arellano sang about Puerto Galera. (Also a good time to mention that her husband totally hustled me. I can’t believe I fell for it. My Project 4 sensibilities are offended.) I met the beautiful Olivia D’Aboville and got a chance to talk to her about her art and France and being able to trace your genealogy all the way back to the 1100′s. The food and conversation was lively, the wine ever flowing, and the wind and trees and mountains and the promise of being near the ocean was all I needed. They spoke in French around me, nonstop. It was work, but it didn’t feel anything like it. I mean, who takes a boat ride across the Verde Island Passage for a meeting?
I can’t even contemplate going back to a regular desk job now.
At this point, my friends and relatives are going, “okay, exactly what is your job, Ailene?” But that’s for another day.