Some call this the new normal—where the worlds of travel, arts, as well as home and living are concerned, innovative ways to doing things are best referred to as EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES
The drastic changes brought forth by a pandemic continue to unfold. Each day, we witness brilliant minds across industries propose new ways for pivoting and adapting. To call this chapter the “new normal” would be all too predictable. It also barely does justice to the brand of innovation applied to enhancing a life while on lockdown.
It was this very show of creativity, brilliance, and resilience that inspired a column dedicated to extraordinary experiences. Luxury, especially in a time when lives and livelihoods are on the brink, have now ceased to be measured by price, label or category. Rather, it is quantified by the amount of inspiration and enlightenment it brings to mind, body and soul. Here, a peek at truly extraordinary experiences of late.
Travel: Jetsetting to the Kitchen
For months, we’ve been traveling through throwback posts on social media, films on Netflix, and books that have been sitting on shelves for years. If by chance you find yourself stranded on an island beach or the mountainside, then that right there is your extraordinary travel story for 2020.
There is a silver lining here, best brought to light by Alexa Chung. She shared, “It’s been nice not to travel, to slow down, spend time in the home.” The host, model, creative director, and social media maven confided that past years were spent traveling non-stop. If anything, it was adding to the carbon foot print of a jet-set lifestyle. Today she is a better cook, somewhat of a carpenter and a puzzle master.
For the most of the first quarter, frequent fliers have been earning miles from trips to the kitchen, garden and living room. Because of restriction in travel, even those who’ve traveled the world, are seeing things in a new light. Landscapes we once took for granted appear grander and more magical than ever.
I have yet to pack a suitcase that will take me to the nearest beach or resort. Until then there is appreciation for places in the Mother Land to remind us that we need not travel far to see the wonders of the world. Places that have recently opened up to visitors include The Farm at San Benito, Amanpulo and Balesin.
A Serenity Series at Balesin invites guests to a weekend of Wellness and Yoga from July 31 to August 2. For Php 52,000, you can enjoy villa accommodations for two nights, healthy breakfast, a month’s supply of Immune Booster Packs from Aegle Wellness Center, the most invigorating 40 minutes inside the Hyperbaric Oxygen Tank, IV infusion of vitamins and immune boosters as well Kundalini yoga with Rosan Cruz.
Home: Spaces for the Stylish Plant Momma
There is one place often taken for granted that has now become our sanctuary: HOME. Within the five-month period of WFH, ECQs, GCQs (and what ever other term there might be out there), abodes have gone through transformations of varying scales. Storage areas are now inspiring work or recreational areas. Living and dining areas have been refreshed with cozy accents and home accessories to make cooped up days a little more bearable.
There are amazing pieces available online, which is probably as close as you can get these days to sourcing statement pieces from Salone Mobile in Milan or a very private showroom in Lake Cuomo. SHOPBlissPH was founded by the same design enthusiasts behind CASANUOVA. The site, apart from carrying essentials for the new normal, also offers an impeccably curated selection of contemporary design pieces from labels like Nomon Home and BOSA.
In an attempt to enhance their homes, many have also gone into tending gardens and embracing the life of a plant parent. Plant shopping in Bulacan is a great excuse for a road trip and some time outdoors, which has been deemed relatively safe. There, you will find a wide range of verdant species from rare African Talisay trees (that can set you back by Php100,000) to Variegated Thai or Albo Monstera Deliciousa (starting at around Php10,000 a pop). To add to the charm and chicness of being a planttita, consider design-inspired gardening tools and accessories from Garden Glory. Favorites from the Swedish born brand include the Reindeer Wall Mount, Hose and Nozzle Set as well as Matte Monkey Planters. Plant momma OOTDs will never look the same again.
Art: Weekend Auction Benefits and Ballet at Sunset
The art scene has never been more vibrant, dynamic and inspiring. When Salcedo Auctions launched the Bid As One Benefit Auction in collaboration with Philippine Fashion Labels and Designer in May, Founder Richie Lerma explained, “Art is a luxury to so many people and we wanted to underscore its abiding importance in society—uplifting our spirits while helping those who need it most. We have been running charity auctions since we began 10 years ago. I have always believed in auctions as a great venue for fund-raising.” The Bid As One Benefit Auction raised Php3M in support of Rise Against Hunger.
Today, Salcedo Auctions continues to hold expositions and vernissage events online. While mostly done through Zoom, this new gallery experience brings guests even closer to the artists and curators through casual yet intimate conversations you would otherwise feel too shy to engage in had it been held in a crowded space. There is also option to contact your favorite galleries to set appointments for private viewing. Salcedo Auctions just recently wrapped up the much awaited Gavel and Block Art + Design Sale were pieces by masters like Manansala, Olazo, Sanso, Saguil, Malang were featured. For collectors of contemporary art pieces, works by Justin Nuyda, Ricky Ambagan, Geraldine Javier and many more were exciting highlights. A visit to the new Salcedo Auctions home located at NEX Tower, Ayala Avenue in Makati is something to add to your agenda this month.
Watching another beautiful art from that’s fleeting. A prima ballerina’s grand jete on opening night can only ever be accurately captured in one’s memory. And so, it seemed almost impossible to imagine the country’s premiere dance company, Ballet Philippines, launching its 51st season during a time of restricted mass gatherings. With concert halls, theaters and other large venues for entertainment indefinitely closed, the challenge was to find a way to bring the experience of dance to viewers. During extraordinary times, however, the company decided they would take extraordinary measures.
In mid July, charcuterie boxes from Gallery Chele were sent out to a select guest list of ballet fans and enthusiasts. Choice sauvignons and a custom cocktail called Grand Jete were delivered accompaniments that brought the festive vibe of gala night to homes. As the sky turned golden, Ballet Philippines President Kathleen Liechtenstein welcomed guests to Sunset Soiree with Ballet Philippines. She introduced the new season and the birth of BP OnStream, which she details, “is a testament to the company’s determination to continue brining their audience enriching experiences while keep the love and practice of ballet alive.”
Online offerings on BP On Stream include free exercise tutorials, lectures and master classes from some of the world’s most renowned dancers including the Philippines’ very own Lisa Macuja-Elizalde. Liechtenstein adds, “Through BP On Stream we hope to carry the artistry of Ballet Philippines straight to your homes. While some may say that dance and the arts are non-essentials during a pandemic, we beg to disagree. Dance and the arts become even more vital during these unprecedented times. The health of the body depends on the health of the spirit. And art is the language of the soul.”
The soiree, albeit in digital format, was graced by an energetic crowed who cheered on the company dancers and the the company’s new Artistic Director, Honored Artist of Russia Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk. In his opening speech, Misha remarked: “Ballet can’t stand in place; it should progress and improve, but its classic basis remains unchanged. I want to wish us all good luck. We’ll handle it!” You may now stream Ballet Philippines’ Crisostomo Ibarra when you go on ballet.ph. A schedule of the free master classes and tutorials will also be available on the website.
Bianca Salonga is a lifestyle journalist who has been in publishing for the last two decades. She took up her MBA in Luxury Goods and Fashion in Paris, France. Both experience and higher education continue to inform her work as a brand story teller and advocate for purposeful living.
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