The Filipino Expat



The Filipino Expat
Issue 4 - Dec 2013
Pasko back home
Your guide
to a wonderful,
white Christmas
Get lost in Germany’s
Cool gift items
Delicious Noche Buena feast
Rediscovering Baguio
unspoiled beaches
Robin Padilla
visits Amsterdam
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Expat Issues
8 Undocumented kababayans in Spain, the Netherlands and London reveal their
struggles against stricter migrant policies in Europe.
12 Perpie Poblador shares tips on how to have a romantic and fuss-free wedding in
15 Get some insights on how to raise intercultural children
Health and Beauty
16 How to beat the winter blues
18 Indoor exercises for the cold weather
22 Gift ideas for Christmas
Cover story
24 Five countries that you should visit this winter season
28 Filipinos in Barcelona tell how to celebrate Christmas the Pinoy way
29 Poet Angelica van Doorn details different Christmas traditions that her family
31 Know how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines
On the cover:
The winter season means snow, glühwein,
skiing holidays and Christmas. The Filipino
Expat hopes to bring you the unique Filipino
warmth in this issue.
42 Filipino actor Robin Padilla brings joy to kababayans in Amsterdam
Expat interviews
44 Radio host Ana Lynn Bjørnstad shares the challenges she has to overcome as an
expat in Norway
Mouth-watering recipes
for the Holidays
26 Things to do in Germany’s popular Christmas markets
27 Tips on planning a European group tour
32 Experience the cold season in Baguio City
34 Undicovered Philippine beaches you should visit now
Readers’ Corner
A note from the editor
Contributors’ page
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The Filipino Expat likes to hear from
our readers. Keep on sending your
thoughts and comments to
[email protected]
Dheza Marie Aguilar
Diana Uy
[email protected]
Managing Editor
Dheza Marie Aguilar
Creative Director
Robin Kuijs
Congratulations! I hope to read more of your magazine. We were
expats for eight years and I can truly understand and feel how your
magazine will inspire the readers. We just moved to the USA this year,
but not as expats. But again I truly like how your magazine attracts
readers. Thank you.
- Marino Perez, USA
How to become a SMARTer Overseas Filipino Investor,
published on
I am a teacher in Tokyo, Japan. I have always
dreamt of having my own school that offers
quality education to young children in our
country. I finished my degree in Queensland,
Australia. I ended up in Japan because I feel in
love with country particularly the safety and
security that one can feel here. But my passion
is still for Filipino kids. I was encouraged by your
article [published online]. And I enjoyed your
magazine too. It is very informative especially for
us Filipinos abroad. It is very professional. There’s
nothing like this in Japan. I wish to read more,
and please keep me updated through email.
- Tess Poblador, Tokyo, Japan
Social Benefit Convention between Spain and the Philippines
The article is very informative. Thank you, Attorney Tenorio and The
Filipino Expat for this substantial information.
-Maria Kristine Fleischhacker, online reader
Free legal advice – Partnership of TFE and Habeas Corporation
Excellent article on Chona Abiertas Tenorio and her team Habeas
Corporation. Very recommended!
-Donna AG, online reader
The Filipino Expat Magazine
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Editorial Assistant
Lyssa Ericka Cabarles
Contributing Writers:
Ed Biado, Perpie Claes-Poblador, Maan Pamaran
D’Asis, Ana Angelica Van Doorn, Rose Ann Esquibil,
Lana Kristine Flores, Pieter van Overbeeke, Deepa
Paul, Patrick Camara Ropeta, Rica Unico Santos,
and Nats Sisma Villaluna
Contributing Photographers:
Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sonny Dimaculangan, Alex
de Vera Dizon, Camilla Jørvad and Clifford T.
Advertising Managers
Dexter Matilla (Philippines)
Rhea Topacio-Rogacion (Europe)
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Published 6 times a year
By The Filipino Expat
The opinions expressed in The Filipino Expat
magazine do not represent the views of The
Filipino Expat company. While we have exhausted
every effort to ensure the accuracy of the
information contained in this publication, neither
The Filipino Expat nor its editors, contributors
and staff will accept any responsibility for any
omission, typographical or printing errors,
inaccuracies or changes however caused. Our
editorial and creative teams reserve the right to
edit any material submitted at our discretion. All
texts, photos and graphics have been used with
the permission of the author or artists. All rights
are reserved. No part of this publication may be
duplicated or reproduced in a whole in any form
or by any means without the publisher’s prior
written permission.
Comments and complaints
should be addressed to:
The Publisher
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Lorentzlaan 74
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Telephone +31 (0) 624407692
Email [email protected]
[email protected]
The time for merrymaking, sharing of joy and gift-giving is finally here.
For Filipinos, the Yuletide season is the most anticipated and exciting part
of the year. In fact, the Philippines is known to have the longest celebration
of Christmas in the world, starting the preparations as early as September.
Why is that? Christmas to us is a flurry of activities that include decorating
our homes with colorful lights and lanterns, prettifying the Christmas tree in
the living room, planning reunions or get-togethers, making our Christmas
checklist, shopping for presents, and best of all partaking of a feast
surrounded by family and/or relatives particularly on Christmas Eve.
Our penchant for celebrating Christmas in a big and festive way could be
attributed to our diverse influences, largely from Spanish colonizers. We’ve
been doing it since time immemorial and we’re still doing it with as much
pomp and pizzazz today.
To our dear readers, however you are planning your Christmas and
whichever traditions you follow, The Filipino Expat is here to guide you
in making the most of the holidays. The idea is to give you more options
on what to do whether you are staying in Europe or planning to spend
Christmas in the Philippines.
We have features on the different ways people celebrate Christmas, travel
stories from Europe and the Philippines, a list of Pinoy favorites during
Noche Buena as well as gift suggestions. We even included tips on getting fit
during the cold season.
And how could we forget our exclusive interview with famous Filipino actor
Robin Padilla? Contributing writer Pieter van Overbeeke writes how Robin,
the original “bad boy” of Philippine cinema, charmed Filipina fans during his
recent visit in Amsterdam on page 42.
FilExpat writer and actor Pieter van
Overbeeke with Robin Padilla and veteran
actor Michael de Mesa hanging out at the
set of of the upcoming movie ‘10,000 Hours’.
On another note, The Filipino Expat is greatly saddened by the latest
tragedy that hit the Philippines. We join our kababayans worldwide in
praying for the victims as well as the quick recovery and rehabilitation
of devastated communities and provinces left behind by super typhoon
Yolanda (international code name: Haiyan).
Those who want to help, turn to page 45 for the list of accredited agencies
that accept donations and relief efforts. It might be a bleak time for the
victims to celebrate Christmas this year, but we can at least put a smile on
their faces this Season of Joy.
All the best,
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Pieter van Overbeeke runs a private tour group
based in Amsterdam. He is a popular figure in the
Filipino community in the Netherlands because
he speaks Tagalog fluently and is involved in many
Deepa Paul is a freelance writer living in Filipino activities. He has also played in several
Amsterdam with her Filipino husband, seven Filipino films. Overbeeke lives in Hoofdoorp with
month-old daughter and Singaporean cat. She his Filipina wife and their daughter.
blogs about everyday life, travel, motherhood and
other passions at She
loves Christmas and would love to know what your
favorite Christmas market is!
Patrick Camara Ropeta is a multimedia journalist,
photographer, videographer and producer
working in print, broadcasting and online media.
He is a trained media artist from Royal Holloway,
University of London, and London College of
Communication, University of the Arts London.
Based in London, he is interested in art, travel,
literature, films, music, theatre, among others. His
works appear regularly on ABS-CBN Europe.
Maan Pamaran D’Asis spent all her childhood
summers in the Philippines’ City of Pines. She
still considers it as one of her all-time favorite
destinations and never fails to find another reason
to fall in love with this mountain retreat. Even
though she is busy beating deadlines and being
a mom of four, she always jumps at the chance
to visit her Baguio haunts. Scoring fab finds at
the night ukay market has become an enjoyable
Lana Kristine Flores Jelenjev is an early years
curriculum innovator, engaged parent and a
passionate educator. One of her passions is
Rica Unico Santos graduated Bachelor of Languages helping parents and teachers provide meaningful
and Culture from the University of Utrecht in learning opportunities in daily interactions at
the Netherlands and specializes in international home and in school. She writes about her activities
relations, political history, development in the with her children at www.365daysofmotherhood.
third world countries and refugee issues. She blogs and shares her insights on engaging
about her life and musings at www.ladyboymirror. activities for teachers, parents and children at
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Lyssa Ericka Cabarles is a marketing practioner
who also dabbles in writing. She has a small pastry
business and training to become a sous chef. She
is a book and music lover and volunteers with
different organizations trying to make a difference
in the lives of other people.
Ed Biado is a Manila-based writer who dabbles
in all things mass and social media. He writes a
lifestyle column for the Manila Standard Today,
edits and has been employed by one
of the top advertising agencies in the world while
freelancing here and there. Follow him on Twitter
@EdBiado to read his snarky comments on current
events and pop culture.
Rose Ann Esquibil is a fulltime nurse at Revalidation
(Orthopedic) Institute. She works with cancer
patients recovering from chemotherapy. She gives
dance and work out lessons to kids and adults alike
at the GM Bodywork at the Evenaar Community
Centre in Amsterdam. She hopes to inspire people
on living a healthy, active lifestyle.
Photo Exhibit “A Nation Outside A Nation” – The Hague
Opening 9 November 2013, 4pm - 6pm
Exhibition until 22 December 2013
Liefhertje en de Grote Witte Reus
Stationsweg 137
2515 BM The Hague
The Netherlands
A Nation Outside A Nation offers a remarkable insight
into the labor migration of Filipinos and focuses on the
relationships between migrants and their relatives back
home. Triggered by a personal quest for the identity of
Nadine Stijns’ Philippine in-laws, the exhibit tells tales
about family love, inventiveness and traditional values. It
also shows the hardships that come with poverty and the
inevitable need to look for a brighter future elsewhere.
Nadine Stijns has been working in Asia on projects related
to labor migration. Her first book about her work in China
was launched last September at the Unseen Photo Fair.
A Nation Outside A Nation is made possible by the support
of Enfid NL, a NGO that supports Filipino migrant workers in
the Netherlands.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Paperless in Europe:
Undocumented workers tell their story
“Documento, por favor?”
“Andrea,” an undocumented migrant worker in Barcelona, rans into five
police officers who are doing their random inspection inside a train bound to
Puigcerda, Catalonia.
With her heart pounding hard in her chest, she calmly explains in broken
Spanish that she left her passport as well as her Spanish identification card at a
house where she was staying as a guest.
She is told to get off the next stop for further questioning. There, the police
officers ask for her personal details and one of them even phones her “host”
(a.k.a. employer) who tells them that the 25-year-old is indeed a guest in their
The police give Andrea the Orden de Expulsion, a document ordering illegal
migrants to leave Spain, and let her go. The native of Batangas got back to the
train and once inside, she cried.
Two years ago, Andrea arrived in Barcelona right after her contract as an au pair
in a Scandinavian country ended. She was ready for an adventure, encouraged
by friends who told her that it was easier for undocumented migrant workers to
get legal status in Spain as compared to other European countries. But Andrea
arrived at the most inopportune time. Spain was experiencing an economic
crisis, one of the worst in Europe, that stricter migrant policies were imposed.
“I am now scared of travelling around Spain. I feel like being inside a box. Being
illegal is difficult,” Andrea tells The Filipino Expat.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
ccording to reports in 2012, there are about
400,000 to 700,000 illegal immigrants in
Spain. Andrea is one of them.
In London, “Cherry” and “Shaylee” are
facing the same challenges as Andrea. They
are undocumented, constantly hiding from
authorities for fear of being deported.
Cherry arrived in the United Kingdom from
Qatar, where she worked for a year. Her former
employers would abuse her by not giving her
enough food as well as letting her work at
unreasonable hours. When her employers had
a trip to London, she ran away five days into the
vacation. She never looked back.
“We only had dates or tamar for breakfast,”
Cherry recalls. “Sometimes we could eat rice in
the morning, but only if the family had leftovers.
There were times when there was nothing to eat
at all, especially on Fridays when our employers
would be out because it’s their day off,” shares
Shaylee, on the other hand, fared worse than
Cherry at the hands of her former employers.
She was working for the said family in Dubai for
two years when they decided to move to the UK.
For two years, she endured exploitation in the
Middle East that continued when the family
moved to London February this year. Her
employers work for a diplomatic embassy in
She was given a salary of £200/month when
her contract actually said £1,000/month with
day off. Even worse, she was locked up at home
especially when the whole family was out.
She was also prohibited to speak to anyone,
especially fellow Filipinos.
Know your rights
While there are not many EU laws protecting
undocumented migrant workers, the latest
Employer’s Sanction Directive 2009/52/EC
allows certain kind of protection.
Some of these rights include allowing victims
of labor abuses, even those without proper
work documentation, to file a complaint
against their employer. They are also entitled
to back wages of up to six months as well as
social benefits that should have been given
to them during their employment period. In
severe cases of abuse, the directive obliges
member states to issue a temporary resident
permit to undocumented migrant workers.
Meanwhile, a temporary residence permit
might be issued to victims of gender-based
violence especially in France and Spain.
In the Netherlands, France and Spain,
undocumented migrant workers can go to
special police departments to report labor
abuses and crimes without being apprehended
because of their residence status.
Right to health care services
Despite experiencing difficulties in many
countries when it comes to availing of basic
health care services, undocumented migrant
workers can still go to clinics and hospitals
when they are sick or have emergency
situations. In the Netherlands, Portugal,
France, Spain and Switzerland, Belgium, Italy,
United Kingdom and Norway, undocumented
migrant workers have greater access to
healthcare under specific conditions. While in
other EU countries, undocumented migrant
workers have access to emergency cases
without being automatically reported to
immigration authorities.
When her mother was diagnosed with cancer,
she was not allowed to go home or speak to
them. Her employers even volunteered to send
her remittances home. Luckily, she found a free
wi-fi connection and was finally able to get in
touch with loved ones in the Philippines.
One day, Shaylee was left alone at home with the
baby and the door was unlocked (the keys went
suddenly missing). She did not waste any time
“I wanted to cry. I was so grateful. At last I was
able to contact my family and get information
online,” recalls Sherry.
“I packed quickly, took my passport which was
held by my employers, and made sure the baby
was safe. Then, I went out of the building and
The Filipino Expat Magazine
got on a taxi. I sent a SMS to the wife of my
employer asking her to immediately return
home because her baby was now alone.
That was it. I was so happy. I was free. I was
no longer a prisoner,” says Sherry.
But Sherry is not exactly free. Like Cherry,
she is playing a dangerous game of hideand-seek with the British immigration
authorities. Both girls don’t have any right
to remain in the UK because technically,
they don’t have legitimate working visa.
Under UK law, their working visa was tied
exclusively to the employers who brought
them there.
“At first I thought life in the UK would
be good. But it’s hard to find a job here
because of the random checks by the police.
Many of us are afraid to go out,” Cherry
There is an estimated 600,000
undocumented migrants in the UK,
according to a recent study by the London
School of Economics. Migrant Watch, on the
other hand, estimates it to nearly a million,
including cases that go unreported.
Rights for undocumented workers
Andrea, Cherry and Shaylee will continue
to fear for their safety and security unless
adequate laws for the protection of
undocumented migrant workers will be put
in place by their host countries. Otherwise,
they will be continuously prone to abuses
and exploitation wherever they are.
experienced extremely low salary as well as
verbal abuse from her employers.
Michele Levoy, director of Platform
for International Cooperation on
Undocumented Migrants, a nongovernmental organization that promotes
the rights of undocumented migrants in
Europe, reveals that there is an estimated
four million undocumented immigrants in
Europe, including thousands of Filipinos.
Majority is employed in domestic work as
well as in industries like agriculture and
tourism that include hotels and restaurants.
Many are in the sex industry as well. Experts
say that among workers in the EU, those in
the flesh trade are the ones who are most
vulnerable to abuse.
“Oftentimes a
minimum wage
is not applied.
Worse, they
migrant worker]
don’t get paid at all.”
“Oftentimes a minimum wage is not applied.
Worse, they don’t get paid at all. In some
countries, there are other kinds of abuses:
Physical, sexual [or] workplace accidents.
Many times they would not be able to get
workers’ compensation. We even have cases
where the employers denied any working
relationship with the undocumented
migrant especially in cases of severe injury,”
says Levoy.
Stricter laws on undocumented migrants
In recent years, some member states of
the European Union have imposed stricter
immigration laws. In 2008, EU member
countries agreed to enforce the “Return
Directive,” which is aimed at managing
illegal migration in the region and obliging
Undocumented migrant workers
of different nationalities hold a
street protest against labor abuse
and exploitation on the streets of
According to Coring Castillo delos Reyes,
president of the United Migrant Domestic
Workers in the Netherlands, most of these
paperless migrants are left with very little
choice but to keep mum even if they
are already experiencing the worst labor
“Domestic workers here are abused because
they don’t know their rights. They don’t
know how to defend themselves because
they are afraid of losing their jobs,” Delos
Reyes says at the sidelines of a recent street
protest against labor abuse and exploitation
of undocumented migrant workers held in
The OFW champion came to the
Netherlands in 2007 and has since worked
as a domestic worker. Delos Reyes,
herself, an undocumented migrant worker,
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Fighting to gain legal status is a continuing battle for paperless migrant workers.
member countries to return third-party
nationals to their countries of origin or grant
them legal status to avoid “legal limbo.”
This, however, only served as guidelines for
some member states to toughen up their
migration policies. In 2009, Italy passed a
law criminalizing undocumented migrants
with fines and detention. It also requires its
citizens, including health care professionals,
to report undocumented migrants, cutting
access of UDM’s to major health care
In the Netherlands, lawmakers are developing
certain measures aimed at criminalizing
undocumented migrants while in the UK, the
government is making proposals that require
landlords and landladies to report those with
no proper documentation.
In the UK, the government, led by the
Conservative Party, had chosen to tighten
the leash on everything, from budget cuts to
stricter rules on immigration.
with banks, landlords and employers, as well
as when applying for a UK driver’s license.
Patients could also be screened at NHS
hospitals and may force ineligible migrants
to pay for the services. Spot checks in public
areas and transportations are also becoming
more prevalent.
Undocumented migrants cost UK tax-payers
an estimated £3.7billion on health and
education services every year, according
to a recent study by the Home Office. This
is fueling new government proposals to
curb illegal migration through the so-called
Immigration Bill alongside fresh NHS reforms,
in addition to the already tightened visa
Migrant organizations in Europe are calling
on governments, especially in Europe, to
recognize that domestic work as official work
and ratify the ILO Convention C190 which
came into force September of this year.
The ILO Convention aims to grant paperless
migrant workers the same rights as regular
employers including being given the right to
work and stay legally in a country.
Under new proposals, the immigration status
of applicants must be checked when dealing
What the expert has to say
Lawyer Chona Abiertas Tenorio, an expert
on migration policies in Europe, says that as
a general rule, aliens enjoy the rights and
freedom according to international treaties
on human rights. However, this rule depends
on the situation of the individual and the law
of the host country. For those who come to
Europe from third world countries, meaning
those states that don’t have an agreement
with the European Union for free entry, they
are required to secure legal documentation
including an entry visa. Once you are in the
European territory, you must secure the
extension visa or apply for residence permit
depending on your situation.
Foreigners who went through the legal process
to stay in Europe are entitled to move freely
around the community and enjoy basic rights.
“Domestic workers
here are abused
because they
don’t know their
rights. They don’t
know how to
defend themselves
because they are
afraid of losing
their jobs”
They will be treated equally as the Europeans,
as well.
Here are some of the rights enjoyed by
properly documented migrants:
1. Free access to public health services,
emergencies, family doctors, operations,
medicines, etc.
2. Access to aid and subsidies from the
3. Free schooling up to secondary education
and scholarship grants in college.
4. Employment in different sectors that will
fit your qualifications.
5. Those who have university studies
accredited by the host country can apply for
employment in the government as well as
nongovernment companies.
6. You can apply for petition of descendents
and ascendants.
7. You enjoy all the rights and freedom that
By Patrick Camera Ropeta, Nathaniel
Sisma Villaluna and Dheza Marie
European citizens have, except the right to
There are many consequences of
working/living in Europe without proper
documentation. These include:
1. Without proper documentation you can’t
open a bank account, rent an apartment, sign
contracts, avail of credit cards, have telephone
contracts, and so on
2. The possibility of being caught, detained
and deported plus constantly feeling insecure
and anxious.
3. Getting unstable and low paying jobs as
well as greater exposure to risks of being laid
off without any indemnity.
4. Limited medical assistance, except during
emergency situations.
5. No social security affiliation.
6. High risk of not getting a job, at all.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Tying the Knot Easily
in Aeroskobing
Perpie Claes-Poblador shares how she and hubby got married in a foreign land
almost fuss-free
by Perpie Claes-Poblador
photos by Camilla Jørvad
our families and friends live in different
“How about we elope? Nobody will know,
except our families, until we tell them,” we
innocently joked to each other one night.
ike any other couples we also
experienced the highs and lows of getting
married –much more so because we are
of different nationalities (a Belgian and
a Filipina) and not to mention, we live in
another country as expats.
Before we knew it, we were heading north
and landed in these Scandinavian countries:
Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. We found
the Nordic region romantic, uncomplicated
and free.
Pinning down the wedding place
A Danish “fairytale town” called
Aeroskobing caught our attention.
Everything about it shouted “perfect
wedding venue.” We fell in love with the
place right away.
Finding the right country where you want to
get married is the first and most important
step. After all, it takes time and effort to
take care of all legal requirements. Plus,
there’s also the cost and effort you are
willing to spend that you need to consider.
Switzerland would have been the most
convenient choice for us. But securing all
the required documents, translating all
these in three official Swiss languages,
waiting for our application to get approved
on top of getting a wedding date and place
were just too much for us to process. We
didn’t have the luxury of time nor the
patience to do all of that. We decided to
look for other options. It didn’t hurt also
that we both love traveling, which greatly
helped us in making a decision.
Applying for a Danish wedding
Depending on the municipality, the legal
requirements were pretty simple and
‘Planning the perfect wedding requires
patience, determination and plenty of
romance’, says Poblador.
We checked on France. The waiting time
was just a couple of days shorter than
Switzerland. Still, we needed to reside
there for a minimum of one month before
applying for a marriage certificate. We then
considered Belgium and the Philippines as
other options.
I’ve heard stories about the tedious process
that a Filipino and a foreigner who want to
get married in the Philippines are usually
subjected to. We did not want that.
In Belgium, the marriage can take
place 10 days after the posting of the
marriage banns, a public announcement
of an upcoming marriage between two
individuals. We also had to consider that
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The author and her husband found their perfect wedding venue in Aeroskobing, Denmark.
country of residence.
straightforward: Our passports and visas,
birth certificates, documentation of marital
status, and notice of marriage and booking
form. Normally, the processing would
only take a week or two, and the couple
might be required to stay three days in
the country. In Aeroskobing though, we
were required to stay for a day only. But of
course, we still decided to stay longer.
We could have breezed through the
wedding. But there simply no avoiding a
few hiccups along the way. For instance,
it took some time for the consulate in
Geneva to respond to my husband’s request
for a certificate of no marriage. Later on,
we found out that he had to submit his
request to the consulate in Copenhagen.
Meanwhile, the folks from Aeroskobing
advised us to get our papers translated
in German, English or Danish language.
Luckily, the Belgian consulate was able to
provide us a German version. On my part, I
was anxiously waiting for the renewal of my
work visa. It arrived on the day before we
were to fly for Geneva.
We were able to immediately provide a
copy of our marriage certificate, already
translated into English, German, Spanish
and French. The second copy was sent a
week or two later, right after it received
an apostille, a validation from the Danish
Foreign Ministry which gives our marriage
that seal of so-called international
Keeping it light and easy
My partner, an EU national working in
another European country (Switzerland),
can apply for my residence permit as his
non-EU spouse upon returning to our
Poblador enters marital bliss.
Getting married in Denmark is fairly simple
and easy. But we still chose to get our own
marriage coordinator - based outside the
country - to help us out. Through email
correspondences, our wedding planner
proved to be of great help in terms of
taking care of some paperwork, finding
the place to stay in as well as booking the
photographer to capture our special day.
I wanted a wedding dress that was simple
and classy. I found one online, it and was
delivered to me two weeks later.
The wedding ceremony took around 15
minutes only. Truth be told, it felt longer
than that. The whole time, my tummy was
churning, my hands were cold, and my
throat was dry. I was holding back tears as I
recited each word of my wedding vows. In
fact, when it was my turn to say the magic
word that would seal our marriage, I ended
up whispering it instead. I had to keep
asking everyone if I really did say it. They
assured me I did.
The bride chose a simple yet classy wedding gown.
My life will never be the same again. I am
now officially a “Mrs.” and on a new journey
to married life.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
f o t o g r a f i e
Weddings / Loveshoots / Portraits
Book before January 2014 and get a €100 discount on wedding packages when you donate €50 to
any charity organisation helping the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Parenting multicultural kids
by Lana Jelenjec
photo by Robin Kuijs
arenting is a challenging and rewarding gift. But along with it
involves a lot of compromises and a lot of redirection. After
all, the life you dreamt for yourself as a single, free-spirited
individual changes, as you now have your partner and children to
account for. But parenting in a multicultural environment has the
added challenges of re-assessing cultural norms, going beyond
boundaries, and yes, finding the right balance in providing what
everyone in the family needs.
So many nights you ask yourself, how can it be done? How do I
parent in such a way that will meet my cultural expectations and
still merge the philosophies of the Western world I am part of
now? What language do I expose our children to? How about
religion? How do I introduce certain traditions? How do I expose
them to our cultural values?
We’ve gathered the following tips from parents who have faced
and, yes overcome the various stages and difficulties of raising
multicultural kids:
1. Values are understated. It needs to be in the forefront of
parenting especially with multicultural families whose ideals and
practices are different. In the Philippines, we are raised to have
paninindigan (principles) and pagpapahalaga (value). These values
are taught starting in grade school. It is highlighted in television
commercials, soap operas, television shows, in our religion, our
neighbourhood. It is deeply ingrained in us that we are making
choices according to our principles and our values.
We are brought up with a “WE” mentality, making decisions
depending on how it will affect us and especially those around
us. We are bombarded with ideals of pakikitungo (level of
civility), pakikisalamuha (level of mixing), pakikibagay (level of
conforming), pakikisama (level of adjustment), and pakikilahok
“Parenting in a multicultural
environment has the added
challenges of re-assessing cultural
norms, going beyond boundaries,
and yes, finding the right balance
in providing what everyone in the
family needs.”
(level of participating). Our Filipino upbringing tells us that with
our partners and immediate families, including in-laws, we need to
practise pakikipagpalagayang-loob (level of mutual rapport) and
pakikiisa (level of oneness). We are faced with these values day in
and out most of our lives. But now being in a new environment,
new people and with new set of principles and priorities, you get
to ask yourself, “What do I hold true for myself and for my family?”
2. Communication is a MUST. Laying down values and
expectations and communicating them well are important. There
is no room for blurred lines. Meaning the practices of pagtatampo
and paglalambing will only be “lost in translation” especially to our
multicultural kids.
3. It takes a village to raise a child. Know that it is ok to call your
parents, in-laws or one of your friends to take the reins from you
for an hour or two when you think the situation is getting out of
hand. Parenting in a land so different, so unique and so foreign
can be so challenging. But it can also be an exhilarating experience
of learning your values and knowing your boundaries as well as
accepting those of your partner and the world you are a part of.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
How to
beat the
by Dheza Marie Aguilar
photo by Robin Kuijs
The Filipino Expat Magazine
inter depression, also called seasonal
affective disorder (SAD), is a mood disorder
that affects many people during cold seasons.
It is prevalent to those living in the north of the equator
(think the Nordic region or countries like Sweden and
Finland) or where there is less consistency of sunlight
and brightness.
Scientists believe that reduced exposure to sunlight
also leads to reduced production of serotonin, a
neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of
well-being and happiness. Lack of serotonin results in
feelings of depression and frequent mood changes.
For expatriates who came from tropical countries,
winter depression or sometimes called winter blues is
one of most difficult struggles to overcome. It affects
our daily lives, our relationship with others as well as
our work.
Symptoms of winter depression
Somber, dark and rainy climes will often make you sad
and irritable. When these feelings drag on particularly
during autumn and winter, they can lead to depression.
So when you start feeling like not getting out of bed
for days on end, consider that this could be winter
Other symptoms of winter depression include
increased feelings of laziness, sleepiness, fatigue as well
as craving for carbo-rich food that can lead to weight
gain. People suffering from winter depression are also
less inclined to socialize, preferring to stay at home
than meet with friends.
So when you start feeling like those mentioned above,
it is very important to talk to your doctor for proper
diagnosis and therapy. Remember that there are
different levels of winter depression.
Beating the winter blues
There are other practical ways to overcome winter
depression without visiting a doctor.
Regular exercise and proper diet are particularly
important during bouts of winter depression. Try to have
some outdoor physical activities for a minimum of 30
minutes, three times a week. Walking after or during
your lunch break will help brighten your mood especially
during those gloomy days.
Eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetable will help
your body store more energy and might counteract your
cravings for fattening and/or sweet food.
Since winter depression usually occurs around Christmas
time, there will be no shortage of parties and activities
that you can engage in. Even if it takes incredible effort,
drag yourself out of bed, get out of the house and
socialize. If partying is too much for you, go out for a cup
of coffee or lunch date with your friends or go shopping
with your girlfriends.
Light therapy
For severe cases of winter depression, doctors may
prescribe antidepressant medications or light therapy.
Light therapy is a process wherein a patient is exposed
to extreme bright lights for a certain period of time
everyday, indirectly shining it to the patient’s eyes. The
brightness can be so extreme that patients are advised
not to look directly into the light.
Light therapy is often expensive but it can be covered
by your health insurance. A more affordable alternative
would be to buy energy boosting lights that promises
to help in reducing winter depression. The energy lights
manufactured by Philips starts at about €150. The brand
claims that it has been clinically-tested to boost energy
that can help those suffering from winter blues.
Winter blues can be hard to beat especially for Filipinos
who are used to 365 days of sunlight. But as long as we
are aware of our emotional reactions to the changing of
seasons, we can surely beat this sometimes paralyzing
feeling of depression. We just have to stay positive.
Somber, dark and rainy climes will often make you
sad and irritable. When these feelings drag on
particularly during autumn and winter, they can
lead to depression. So when you start feeling like
not getting out of bed for days on end, consider
that this could be winter depression.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Indoor exercises
Seated Toe Touch Stretch
by Rose Ann Esquibil
photos by Robin Kuijs
s the weather gets colder, it gets
harder to get off the bed every
morning to exercise or change into
gym clothes after work. But more than
ever, we need to exercise and flex our
muscles during the colder months because
not only does it make our body stronger, it
also makes us warmer and gives us more
energy that the lack of sunlight could be
stripping away from us.
When we don’t have time to go to the gym
or run outside, these easy exercises are
ideal for our freezing muscles, even when
inside the office.
The exercise is divided into three parts:
Feet and Legs, Hands and Arms, and Torso.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Legs and feet
Seated Toe Touch Stretch. From an upright
sitting position, stretch one leg and reach
for your toes using your hand. Hold the
position for 20 seconds and sit back
straight again. Do the same for the other
Seated Toe Raises. Lift your toes while
keeping your sole firmly on the ground.
Make sure you are sitting with your back
Seated Leg Extension. With one foot on
the ground, raise your other foot until
your leg is parallel to the ground. Hold the
position as long as you’re comfortable.
Repeat using the other foot.
Seated Leg Extension
Elevated Push Up
Foot Drill. Rapidly tap your feet in
place continuously for 30 seconds.
If you have heels on, take them
off first.
High Knees and Chest Press. Using
both hands, pull your legs towards
your chest while bending your
Assisted Side Legs Lift. Stand in
front of your desk and lift your
right leg to the side at a 45-degree
angle, then bring the leg back
down. Repeat 12 times and do the
same with the other leg.
Thigh Tone. To tone inner thigh
muscles, place a bottle of water
between your thighs and squeeze,
doing reps of 10.
Arms and hands
Shoulder Up. Raise your shoulder
to your ear. Hold for three seconds
and then release. Repeat 10 times.
Hand Stretches
Seated Swimmers. Seated on
your chair, move your arms as
if you were swimming; first, do
freestyle five times, followed by
breaststroke and backstroke, also
five times each.
Seated Side Bends. Raise your
Seated Russian Twist
right hand, suck your stomach in
and bend to your left. The lower
you bend, the tighter your left
abdominal muscles will become.
Do this 10 times and the switch to
the other side.
Elevated Push Up. Do push ups
on desks and other pieces of
furniture in reps of 10.
Hand Stretches. Tense and relax
the muscles in your hands by
making fists, and spreading and
bending your fingers. Repeat five
Seated Russian Twist. Sit straight
up on your chair and place your
right arm behind your right hip.
Twist your body to the right and
hold. Alternate sides.
Abdominal Stretch. Sit on the
edge of your chair and stretch
your arms in front of you. While
keeping your back straight,
contract your abdominal muscles.
Relax and repeat.
Gluteal Squeezes. Tense up the
muscle of your rear and hold while
counting to 10. Repeat five times.
“We need to exercise and
flex our muscles during cold
periods because it does not
only makes our body stronger
against common cold diseases,
it also makes us warmer and
gives us more energy that
the lack of sunlight maybe
stripping away from us.”
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Experience a holistic,
non-invasive way to
beauty and wellness
Jane Torres, Vietura provides comprehensive
treatments and procedures, nutritional
counseling, cosmetic dentistry and life
coaching. All these are part of Vietura’s
three-step philosophy: Measure, mentor and
“Every patient is carefully assessed as a unique
individual by their personal consultant, who
then devises a holistic regimen best suited for
their particular issues and desires,” explains
Torres, who is resolute advocate of noninvasive, non-surgical solutions.
The lounge area as well as the treatment
rooms feature vertical gardens.
Non-invasive body
sculpting programs
like the ultra slim light
are administered by
certified experts.
Nutrional coach and wellness consultant Agnes
Tumaneng adds, “We aim to bring out the best
in our clients, allow them to enjoy the fullness
of life through Vietura’s non-invasive aesthetic
procedures combined with integrative
medicine and nutritional and life coaching.”
Vietura is derived from vie, which means life,
and tura, which comes from natura or nature.
It is the first health and wellness institute to be
located in a luxury hotel, a stone’s throw away
from the international airport.
Vietura offers skin vitality treatments
to help clients get that smooth, silky,
younger-looking skin.
oming home to the Philippines this Yuletide
season should be a treat not only for your
family but also for yourself.
Take advantage of the time spent in the
country to finally have those long overdue
beauty fixes, anti-aging treatments or weight
loss management that you’ve been hesitating
to do in Europe due to their relatively
expensive clinics and procedures.
The Philippines, one of the biggest contenders
in Southeast Asia in terms of medical tourism,
boasts of beauty and wellness facilities and
technologies that are not only at par with
the world’s best but also safe and most
importantly, effective.
Vietura, an aesthetic lifestyle institute located
in Sofitel Philippine Plaza, takes pride in being
one of the first in the Philippines to offer 100
percent non-invasive treatment programs that
are tailor-made to their clients’ specific needs.
Conceived by its chief practitioner Dr. Mary
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Vietura offers a range of treatments and
services that promote holistic balance. Having
problems concealing the signs of aging?
Vietura’s natural facelift and contour program
employs the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP)
and power cell lift treatments to stimulate the
body’s own healing process and smoothen out
lines and deep wrinkles.
Vietura’s body sculpting with weight
management program is also available for
individuals who wish to attain their dream
figures without the need for surgery. It
combines technology with a healthy lifestyle
by providing a diet program as well as an inhouse personal trainer to deliver more lasting
results. This package also includes Resonax,
the latest non-surgical face and body sculpting
technology from Europe.
When stress and worries take over one’s
body emotionally and physically, Vietura
recommends a detox program, which includes
colonics hydrotherapy, massage treatments
and a relaxing stay at the Sofitel Philippine
Plaza for a little rest and recreation.
“Weʼre not in the business of selling the quick
fix,” says Torres. “This is why we spend so
much time talking to each customer about
manageable diet and exercise regimens. We
listen and ask relevant questions to help them
take charge of the changes they wish to see
and feel.”
Vietura also features effective treatments
for conditions affecting oneʼs complexion or
digestion. More so, the center has state-ofthe-art aesthetic technology and equipment
for stem cell and chelation therapy.
To ensure the comfort of their clients, Vietura
has tapped renowned interior designer
Gruppo Espazio, to create a space that is
sleek yet natural. The results include warm
lighting and a live, vertical garden feature in
each treatment room. The latter is meant to
provide fresh oxygen into every room as well
as lend an ambience of being in a hidden
rainforest of sort, a world away from the
stresses and toxins of the city.
Under Torresʼ meticulous supervision, the
internationally-trained team consists of 12
registered nurses, a dietician, dentist and
lifestyle coach.
For more information about Vietura, please
call +632 551 5555 local 5000 or email at
[email protected] or visit
A taste of home
in the Netherlands
There’s no denying that wherever we are in the world, we
will always crave for the unique taste of Filipino cuisine.
But because Pinoy food is not yet popular in Europe, it can
be difficult for us to find a place where we can enjoy such
delicious indulgence except at home.
Located in The Hague, the Netherlands, Manong Alex Sizzling
Restaurant brings together all the goodness of Filipino food in
one unique setting, reminding kababayans what they’ve been
missing abroad.
The restaurant’s cozy interiors boast of a jeepney counter
and a terrace overlooking a small podium. On Fridays and
weekends, diners can enjoy live music performed by Filipino
bands or sing their hearts out through a karaoke session. The
nipa hut that was set up outside and imported all the way
from the Philippines, makes Manong Alex stand out among
the restaurants in the area. It is a favorite among clients who
want to dine al fresco.
But what makes Manong Alex popular not only to Filipinos
but also to other nationalities is the wide selection of Filipino
staples including the regular favorites like sizzling sisig,
tokwa’t baboy, lumpiang sariwa and many more. They also
offer buffet dining at an affordable price of €15.99 every
Pinoy food favorites run the show at Manong Alex.
“ Unlike other restaurants that
try to adjust to the
European taste, at Manong
Alex, we strive to cook our
dishes as close as possible to
original Filipino recipes”
-Alex Aragon, Owner
Owner Alex Aragon personally goes to the market every
morning to select the best and freshest ingredients for his
dishes. He puts a very high value on serving his customers
only the best and healthiest choices in his menu.
“We do not use preservatives in our dishes and we make
sure that they are healthy, well-prepared and will satisfy
our clients’ palate,” says Aragon, a graduate of culinary arts
from the Ramon Magsaysay University in the Philippines.
Aragon’s love for cooking, combined with his more than 15
years of experience as a caterer and businessman, allows
him to provide clients an unforgettable dining experience at
Manong Alex.
Manong Alex Sizzling Filipino Restaurant opens Sundays to
Thursdays from 12noon - 10pm and Fridays and Saturdays
from 12noon to 2am. It is located at Rabbijn Maarsenplein
19, 2512HJ, The Hague, The Netherlands. For reservations
call 0702137140
A replica of the famous Filipino jeepney is one of the attractions in the restaurant.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
All I want for Christmas
by Rica Santos Unico
Christmas is in the air. Bright and colourful lights decorate streets. Depending on which city you are in, temperature drops to all time low
forcing you to stay indoors or brave the cold outside wrapped in layers of thick clothing. The chilly winter breeze makes you grab a tissue
once in a while for your runny nose. Yes, the most celebrated event of the year is here. And it’s time to find the perfect present for our
loved ones. Here are some gift ideas:
iPad Air
Logging on to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
becomes so much easier with the latest iPad Air. You can also listen to music
and watch movies more with its 16 GB memory. Plus, it is 28 percent lighter and
20 percent thinner than its predecessor. Price starts at €479.
Philips radio with iPhone dock
This vintage looking radio made by Philips with dock for your iPhone
or iPod will be perfect for your son or nephew who loves music. Heck,
your husband might even like one too.
Nikon digital camera
Capture those happy moments
with friends and family as we
celebrate Christmas through
the Nikon digital camera D
3100 at €329 a pop.
Send free load to loved ones in the
Philippines through Aryty. The loading
service allows you to send/buy load from
Globe, Smart and Sun without charging
you any service fee. It doesn’t have any
hidden charges as well. Using an app on
your smartphone, it is very easy to send
load to the Philippines. Try Aryty’s free
trial. For more information, go to www.
Magic Sing
Channel your inner Regine Velasquez with Magic Sing ET23KH
Spanish Edition. At $ 399, you are sure to be the life of the
party at your next karaoke session.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Philips energy light
Many expats especially those who came from tropical countries suffer
different degrees of winter depression. Lamps that have been clinicallyproven to help boost energy can aid in the reduction of the secretion of
melatonin in our body, the hormone that produces drowsiness. Give your
loved ones a gift of “happiness” with these energy lamps. Price starts at
Aryty, a leading mobile top-up portal, allows you to load
any Globe, Smart or Sun Cellular mobile phone in the
Philippines. Whether you want to buy a load for your own
roaming phone or send load to a loved one, Aryty makes it
quick and easy.
Best of all, you only pay for what you send – there are no
service charges and no hidden fees.
Visit and start today!
Send a load in 3 easy steps!
1. Enter your loved one’s mobile number (from your
computer or mobile phone)
2. Select an amount to send
• No service charges
• No hidden fees
3. Your gift is received. Your loved one will get the load
Try mo! Libre! Try it for FREE!
If you’re visiting Aryty for the first time, you can send a FREE
load to any phone in the Philippines. Give it a try! There is
no cost, no obligation, no credit card required – and the load
arrives instantly. Visit to see how easy it is to give
a gift of load to your loved one – for FREE.
Aryty apps for Apple and Android devices
If you prefer to arrange top-ups with an app instead of a
browser, Aryty apps are available for FREE Download at the
Apple and Android stores.
With an Aryty app you can:
Start Free Trial
Send Now
Schedule Sending
Refer a Friend (earn additional free credit)
View Transaction History
And More…
Great Uses for Aryty
• Stay connected with family and friends
• Send a gift of load
• Support your family at home
Send a FREE Load at today - your family
and friends will thank you.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Experience fun
winter destinations
Text and photos by Dheza Marie Aguilar
he last of the autumn leaves have started to fall.
Daylight has become shorter. Moreover, temperatures
have dropped to levels so low, we simply need to bundle
up each time we venture outside our homes. The smell of
pine trees and glühwein somehow makes things a bit better.
Winter is almost here. There’s still plenty of time to plan for
the holidays – whether you are looking at doing some winter
sports, indulging in a leisure holiday in the mountains or
experiencing a vacation in a sub-zero environment.
famous fjords that are best seen during summer. Come winter,
the mountains offer a charm that beckons. At this time of the
year, the colorful wooden houses up in the mountains of Geilo,
for instance, would be covered in layers of powdery snow.
A wide range of winter activities can be had in Norway. Choices
include cross-country and alpine skiing, dog sledding and even
riding with the Saami reindeers during their winter migration.
The Filipino Expat has listed down some of our favorite spots
and activities all over Europe so all you have to do is enjoy:
Not to be missed is the world famous Northern Lights or
the Aurora Borealis, a winter phenomenon showcasing a
spectacular display of colorful lights in the sky.
Norway is probably one of the most picturesque countries in
Europe thanks to its unique natural landscapes. There are its
Have you ever wondered what’s it like to live in a castle on
top of a snow-covered mountain overlooking a small village
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The view from a mountain cottage in Norway.
with pretty houses spouting a regular trail of smoke from their
chimneys? If you grew up with Disney movies and have lived in
a tropical country almost all your life like myself, then I’m pretty
sure you would know what I’m talking about.
Germany has plenty of these picturesque scenes.
During winter, the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian
region of Germany transforms into your very image of fairy
tales particularly Sleeping Beauty. Similarly, the Black Forest
(Schwarzwald), is a favorite setting in many fairy tales. The
place is a playground for cross-country skiers. Warm up in the
many thermal baths for example, in famous Baden-baden.
Warm the soul with a cup of glühwein.
Winter is the most ideal season to
experience Russia. A number of
classic novels, like Anna Karenina,
have been set during the country’s
harsh winters. Plus, you need not
worry about bumping into too
many tourists especially if you are
visiting cities like Saint Petersburg.
Don’t miss Germany’s Christmas markets, considered among
the biggest in Europe. Stock up on yummy sausages, and hams.
Buy a souvenir like the famous German cuckoo clock or simply
drink the night away with jugs of glühwein.
Up for a more extreme adventure? Try swimming in Iceland’s
Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik amid a subzero temperature. Located
40 minutes away from the airport, the lagoon is a geothermal
pool where you can enjoy a warm, relaxing and even healing
dip despite being surrounded by snow and ice.
If you are a fan of the popular American series Game of
Thrones, then you will enjoy Iceland as some scenes in the
series are actually shot here. There are a number of travel
companies who are experts in arranging these kinds of tours.
Winter is the most ideal season to experience Russia. A
number of classic novels, like Anna Karenina, have been set
during the country’s harsh winters. Plus, you need not worry
about bumping into too many tourists especially if you are
visiting cities like Saint Petersburg.
Russia offers tourists unique cultural experiences. You can
choose to watch either classical or contemporary performing
arts or both. Museums like the Hermitage, which can take up
your whole day, boasts of rare paintings, statues, jewelry and
other incredible treasures that the Russian Czar families have
accumulated during their heydays.
Russia also did a good job in preserving the memories of their
great literary minds including Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexander
Pushkin, Vladimir Nabokov and many others. All throughout
the big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, you can find
apartments or house-museums where the original belongings
and some manuscripts of the authors are being displayed.
When it comes to winter sports, Austria is on top of the list
of many Europeans. And why not? Two-thirds of the country
is on the Alps mountain range. That means plenty of slopes
and pistes for endless skiing adventures, day and night. And it
doesn’t matter whether you are new in the sport or already an
experienced skier, you’d have fun either way.
The Christmas markets and villages in Austria’s big cities like
Vienna and Innsbruck are also worth checking out. You can buy
unique handicrafts from Christmas decorations to artsy trinkets
made by the villagers.
Christmas markets are usually located in front of famous
landmarks like medieval buildings or gothic churches.
Surely, there will be no shortage of wonderful things to
see, eat, or warm the heart with during these gray and cold
The Filipino Expat Magazine
10 things
to do in
Text and photos by Deepa Plazo
t is usually on the last week of November
that I begin putting up Christmas
decorations while humming Pasko Na Sinta
Ko and getting into the Christmas spirit. By
Pinoy standards, this is embarrassingly late.
After all, SM malls (a popular mall chain in
the Philippines) has already started playing
Christmas carols on the first day of September.
In Europe, especially in Amsterdam where I
live, this is unspeakably early. Here, Christmas
is verboten until Sinterklaas is celebrated on
the 5th of December. Only then can Christmas
trees be discreetly rolled out for sale and
Christmas mentioned with a kind of cautious
Luckily for me, the Weihnachtsmarkt of
Germany is just a few hours away by train or
car. Germany’s Christmas markets are famous
for their picturesque scenes reminiscent
of Christmas wonderlands. Seeing them,
one can’t help but think that the Germans
must have bottled up their Christmas spirit
all year long just to have this incredibly
beautiful release of the holiday cheer of
sort –something that I can’t fully indulge in
Whether you’re a wide-eyed first-timer or a
longtime veteran, there are a few things you
shouldn’t miss at a German Christmas market.
Here’s a list of my top 10 things to do to make
your experience here even more special.
1. Get caught up in the scale and spectacle
of a big city market. For its sheer size, nothing
beats the wow factor of a Christmas market
in one of Germany’s major cities. At my first
Christkindlmarkt in Köln, I’ll never forget the
sight of the Kölner Dom (with 515-foot high
towers and the largest façade of any Church
in the world) looming over me from behind a
veil of twinkling Christmas lights. Whether it’s
a giant gingerbread man or a Christmas tree
over 100 feet tall, German cities know how to
go big… or go home.
2. Marvel at the fairytale feel of a small
town market. Away from the big city crowds,
a Christkindlmarkt becomes intimate, cozy,
and magical, with wintry scenes right out of
a storybook. I discovered this when, while
visiting the city of Aachen, our German host
suggested a side trip to the small town of
Monschau nearby. Decorated by a winding
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Crowds of shoppers fill Germany’s Christmas markets.
river and picturesque half-timbered houses,
Monschau turned out to be a snow-covered
gem tucked into the hills, and an unforgettable
Christkindlmarkt experience.
3. Choose a handcrafted ornament to add to
your Christmas tree. Traditional handicrafts
may be a dying art, but in Germany, they
come alive at Christmastime. From blown
glass to hand-carved wood and more, German
Christmas markets have a wonderful variety
of ornaments to choose from. My husband
and I always have a hard time picking out just
one! A perfectly matching set of store-bought
ornaments can’t equal the unique sentimental
value of a collection built up slowly over time.
“Germany’s Christmas
markets are famous for
their picturesque scenes
reminiscent of Christmas
7. Stay warm with a mug of glühwein.
Glühwein, or hot spiced wine, is the best way
to stay warm at a Christmas market. A few
Euros’ deposit is part of the price of each
drink, in case you wish to take home the mug,
which typically shows the year and name of
the market, as a souvenir. Prost!
8. Take pictures in the snow. After three years
of living in Europe, I still turn into a little kid
when it starts to snow. A snow shower during
a Christmas market makes for a truly pictureperfect winter wonderland. Folks back home
love to see these pictures, too!
9. Go market hopping. Visit more than one
market in a day. Major cities typically have
one main market in the center of town, with
smaller, different-themed markets within easy
walking or commuting distance. Or, make
a weekend of it and visit the smaller towns
surrounding the big cities to get the best of
both worlds.
4. Add a new piece to your family’s belen.
If your family has a belen, German Christmas
markets are the best place to find unique,
realistic furnishings handcrafted in the tiniest,
most adorable proportions. Whether you’re
looking for a sweet figure of the newborn baby
Jesus or a miniature clay jug of water for your
shepherds, this is the place to deck your belen
halls in style.
5. Find out what the town’s Christmas
specialty is… and eat it. Every town has its
signature treat that only makes a very special
appearance at Christmas time. For example,
Aachen’s Christmas markets are filled with the
spiced cookies called Aachener printen. Make
sure to try it… it might be another year till you
get your next chance.
6. Fill up on grilled meats and wurst.
Germans love their pork as much as Pinoys
do. Sizzling hot and fresh off the grill, various
types of wursten (sausages) and grilled meats
make inexpensive dinners that are easy to
eat while strolling around the market. My
carnivorous husband especially loves the
Aachen market for the stands that sell one
meter of meat on a stick.
Children enjoy some of the fun rides.
10. Experience the wonder of Christmas
through the eyes of a child. They say
Christmas is for children. True, but to that I
add: there’s a child in every one of us. Don’t
be a Scrooge! Let the festive spirit take hold
and let a Christmas market be the playground
for the child in you. Eat too much lebkuchen,
have some extra whipped cream on your
gluhwein, splurge on something beautiful
for your family’s Christmas tree. After all,
Christmas and the Christkindlmarkt only come
once a year.
the most of
group tours
by Dheza Marie Aguilar
oing on a group tour is a fun and economical way of visiting
European cities. Discovering a new place together with your
friends is often unforgettable and can enrich or sometimes
break friendship. It’s also a nice way of meeting other people and
make new acquaintances.
There are many tour companies arranging group tours but most
of the time, you will end up in a very big group of tourists that can
decrease the experience of fun and discovery. Operators tend to
cram so many activities in a strict schedule which can limit the
excitement of exploring a new place.
Independent tour operator Pieter van Overbeeke had been
arranging group tours for tourists for several years now. Since
being married to a Filipina entails a regular flow of Filipino visitors,
Overbeeke has been accompanying their guests to different tourist
sights in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. What started as
a way of entertaining friends and relatives now becomes a regular
gig for him. Majority of his clients are Filipinos but he also does
tours for other foreign clients in partnership with several bed and
breakfast accommodations in Amsterdam. He speaks fluent Dutch,
Tagalog, English, French and German, making it easier for him to
communicate with his guests as well as the locals.
Overbeeke suggests three tips on how to get the maximum out of
your group tours:
1. The more, the merrier. Arranging a tour for a group of four will
save you a lot of money of money especially on accommodations
and transportations but a group of six would be ideal. Overbeeke
hires a mini-van for transportation, especially going to other
countries like Belgium and Germany to save on travel time and ticket
prices. A group of six can comfortably fill up a mini-van and the costs
of renting it would be much cheaper.
When it comes to overnight accommodations, the price of a double
or a triple room and a single room does not differ significantly so the
more people that can share in the accommodation can reduce the
cost of travelling.
Overbeeke estimates that for a group of four people coming from
Amsterdam, doing a day trip in Brussels or Bruges, Belgium, a
budget of €80 per person, including the transportation and the tour
Tour guide Pieter van Overbeeke poses with a group of tourists in
front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
2. Know your schedule and book well in advance. Airfare, train
tickets and even hotels charges less when you book in advance,
eight weeks before your travel date in particular. Also be on the
lookout for early bird promos of airline companies or hotels. You can
do this by subscribing in a newsletter or websites that regularly send
sale alerts.
Knowing your schedule will also help you in planning for activities
which may be free of charge or discounted in the place that you are
visiting, for example entrance fees in museums or parks. Museums
sometimes offer free entrances on the first or last friday of the
month or particular days when there is a festivity going on.
Visiting a place during a festival also offers a lot of perks like free
tasting and free drinks during food and wine festivals. Do your
research and reduce your costs by planning in advance.
3. Hire a local guide. Hiring a local tour guide will make your visit
more efficient and memorable. By having someone with a local
knowledge, you will be able to know more about a certain place and
will make you appreciate your travel more.
It also helps to hire a guide who speaks multiple languages.
Although many Europeans speak English, you get a warmer
reception when you have a guide who speaks the language of the
country you are visiting.
Pieter van Overbeeke or more popularly known as Pedro Pinduko in
the Filipino community may be reached via email [email protected] or mobile number +31610716363.
Overbeeke speaks multiple laguages including Filipino.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Just like Home
by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna
he start of Daylight Saving Time, the
cool breeze of autumn and the long
chilly nights signal the arrival of the
merriest season of all.
Ask a Pinoy which month of the year is the
happiest and you will get only one answer:
December. Christmas time.
The Philippines has the longest Christmas
worldwide. The arrival of the first day
of September marks the unofficial start
of the Yuletide season as local radio DJs
race among themselves who play the first
Christmas song of the year. As the popular
saying goes, “Iba pa rin ang pasko sa atin.”
“I can barely wait! I will be home in three
weeks. Christmas with my family is all I
want this Christmas,” says Andrew, 29, as
he proudly brandishes his newly bought
two-way ticket to the Philippines from a
Pinoy-owned travel agency in Barcelona.
For most of our kabayans abroad though,
Christmas is not always the jolliest,
especially to those who can´t go home
and be with their families due to work,
financial concerns or legal conditions.
It has been 16 years since the last time
Tess celebrated Christmas with her family
in Cebu. Always being tagged along
to out-of-town trips by her employers
DURING Christmas, her last Noche Buena
with her kids was in 1997.
“I can still remember my last Christmas
with them, our Noche Buena, the Simbang
gabi. Although, I get to see them every
two years, still, it´s different going home
on Christmas. Thanks to Skype, I can see
and hear them even if we are far from
each other,” says Angela.
euros. To Spanish kids, the most-awaited
Yuletide celebration is the arrival of The
Three Wise Men. Santa Clause or Papa
Noel is not that popular in this part of the
“My employer starts putting up their
Christmas tree two days before Christmas
Eve. I told them that in the Philippines, my
family had already set up the Christmas
tree right after All Saint´s Day. They looked
at me as if I was crazy,” says Angela.
Glenda, 36, is lucky to finally have her two
small sons with her this Christmas. They
arrived last summer and to her, this will be
one of the best Christmases in her life.
“It was sad, of course, spending three
Christmases without my children. I was
crying all the time. It was hard. Good
thing I had my friends to cheer me up.
We cooked Filipino dishes, dressed up
and attended the simbang gabi [evening
Mass]. We even exchanged gifts on
Christmas eve. We tried to make ourselves
happy even if our hearts were longing to
be with our families on this special day,”
says Glenda.
Some opt to attend every Christmas
party they’ve been invited to and sing
Christmas carols with friends to forget
their loneliness during Christmas.
“We end up gaining a lot of weight
because each Filipino family prepares
‘meryenda’ for us. Imagine five houses per
“Here, Christmas is a
lot different. Ours is
noisier, happier, more
festive and colorful.
You can really feel
Christmas in the air.
Once I have solved
my legal situation
here, I will see to it
that I go home every
night!,” says Olive, who has been caroling
for three years now.
The countdown towards Christmas Eve
in Spain starts on the 16th. But instead
of attending Mass at dawn, Filipinos in
Barcelona brave the cool winter evening
breeze just to complete the nine-day night
masses in the hope that prayers and
wishes are answered.
Outside the San Agustin church, under the
giant twinkling parol, a handful Pinoy food
vendors along with their rich, mouthwatering native kakanins are swarmed by
hungry mass attendees wishing they were
puto bombongs and hot bibingkas.
Just like home, in the Philippines.
Angela, 25, can´t go home because of her
illegal status. This is her third year away
from home.
“Here, Christmas is a lot different. Ours is
noisier, happier, more festive and colorful.
You can really feel Christmas is in the
air. Once I have solved my legal situation
here, I will see to it that I go home every
In Spain, Christmas “officially” gets into
full swing on December 22 with one of
the world´s biggest lottery draw popularly
known El Gordo (The Fat One) with the
grand prize amounting to over 2.1 billion
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The streets of Barcelona come to life with kiosks selling Christmas items.
A Salad of Christmas Traditions
by Ana Angelica Abaya van Doorn
Like in the Philippines, we would start hanging Christmas decors at
home even before December came. We would have the traditional
parol (Christmas lantern in Filipino), little ceramic angels, and advent
wreath with lighted candles on Sundays. We even had a small
Christmas tree with the nativity scene, also called “presepio” in Italian
or “belen” in Filipino. Daily Christmas music filled our home.
Moving to the Netherlands, we celebrate Sinterklaasavond on Dec. 5.
On St. Nicholas eve, we give chocolates engraved with the first letter
of our names as well as the letter “S” that stands for Sinterklaas.
Legend has it that Sinterklaas came from Spain, who spends most
of the year recording the behavior of children in a big red book. His
assistant, Black Pete, helps him in delivering gifts to kids.
ike a bowl of salad, we celebrate a unique, happy mix of
Christmas traditions: Swiss-Italian, Filipino and Dutch. When
we were living in the Swiss Italian canton, my six- and fiveyear-old daughters did not believe in Babbo Natale (Italian for
Father Christmas or Santa Claus) because their Swiss dad said he is
not real and giving gifts is a symbol of consumerism.
But after watching The Polar Express film in 2004, my daughters
started to believe in Santa Claus. They wrote letters to the following
Babbo Natale
via dal gelo -40
Polo Nord
Every year, we attend Filipino-Christmas parties complete with parlor
games and all-time favorite Pinoy dishes. At home, we do the manitomanita, a traditional Filipino way of exchanging gifts. Aside from
presents, we also give each other funny drawings and chocolates.
We cook up a feast that include lasagna, pandoro, leche flan, fresh
mangoes, kutsinta and homemade cake. We attend midnight mass
on Christmas eve and we have a family dinner. Then we play and sing
carols by the piano, share stories near the fireplace, Skype call with
our relatives in the Philippines and if we’re lucky, watch a snow fall.
Send your love from Europe to
the Philippines through Pinoy Balikbayan Box
Santa Claus
Freezing Point Road -40
North Pole
Babbo Natale is from the North Pole. He has dwarves for assistants
and rides a sleigh driven by reindeers. Come Christmas Eve, he
hops on his swanky, incredibly fast mode of transportation to bring
gifts to children who have been good the whole year round. Those
who have been bad will receive charcoal.
My sweet daughters will also send prayers to San Nicolao (or St.
Nicholas), known as the gift giver. He was born to a rich family in
Turkey but decided to use his inheritance to serve the poor and
the needy. He eventually became a bishop who was known for his
generosity and love for children.
“Ciao San Nicolao, please give me a St. Bernard dog to embrace.
I’m in grade 1. I hope you’ll be able to pass in our small chimney,”
one of my girls would pray.
So as not to disappoint my daughters, I would usually stage the
“arrival” of Babbo Natale when I knew they were fast asleep. I
would leave the presents where they can immediately see them
when they wake up. The next morning, I let them think Babbo
Natale came over bearing gifts by pointing to them the “shoeprint”
that he supposedly left on the carpet on his way out. Afterward, we
would head to the plaza for the Mercatino di Natale, a Christmas
fair that sells handicrafts, staying a bit longer to admire the gigantic
real pine tree adorned with Christmas lights, balls and bells.
The Feast of St. Nicholas falls on Dec. 6. I remember the family
sailing in Lake Lugano, with cups of hot chocolate and panetone
being passed around. While San Nicolao, with white, thick beard,
dressed in red mantel and holding a golden arched cane and a
donkey, told tales to children. San Nicolao would also visit schools
to hand out peanuts, oranges and chocolates to kids.
Mobile: +31 (0) 613183722
[email protected]
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Christmas in the Philippines
by Lyssa Ericka Cabarles
Photo by Michael Carlo Caparas
The Nativity Scene is a prominent feature in most homes and some buildings during Christmas.
Photo shows an interpretation of the Belen at the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati.
hristmas is the most celebrated
and most festive holiday for
Filipinos. As early as September,
you can already see some people starting
to decorate their homes with colourful
lights and decors while the radio begin to
play Yuletide ditties. The celebration here
actually ends on the first week of January.
Suffice to say, Christmas in the Philippines
is known to be the world’s longest. Part
of the reason is that Filipino Christmas is
a blend of cultures and traditions greatly
influenced by the Spanish colonizers.
The celebrations begin with Misa de
Gallo, popularly known to the Filipinos as
Simbang Gabi. It is a series of dawn masses
starting on the early morning of Dec. 16
and ending on the midnight of Dec. 24.
After each mass, families gather outside
the church to enjoy native delicacies sold
by vendors most especially during the
Christmas season. These include bibingka,
a yellow rice cake made of rice flour and
coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves
and cooked using coals on top and under it,
and the puto bumbong, a purple rice cake
named after the bamboo tube in which it is
steamed and is usually served with coconut
shavings and brown sugar.
One of the most distinctive Filipino
Christmas traditions is the hanging of
parol, derived from the Spanish word
“farol” or lantern. It is usually a star
shaped ornament made of coloured paper,
bamboo sticks and light bulbs, symbolizing
the Star of Bethlehem that guided the
Three Kings to the manger.
When you start hearing groups of
children singing Christmas carols out in
the streets, then you’ll know Christmas
has really begun. These kids go around
the neighbourhood to serenade each
household using makeshift musical
instruments like drums made of cans, and a
tambourine made of flattened soda crowns
joined by a thin metal wire. At the end of
their set, they will receive money or food
from the homeowners.
More than the merriment and long
preparations, Filipinos celebrate Christmas
for its spirit of giving. At this time of
the year, companies and even groups of
individuals organize fund-raising events
and outreach programs to give gifts and
Streets are brightened up by colorful
Christmas lights sold by vendors.
joy to the less fortunate. Schools and
offices all hold Christmas parties complete
with exchanging of gifts, otherwise known
as Monito-Monita or Kris Kringle which
is the Filipino version of “Secret Santa.”
On Christmas day, Children would visit
their ninongs and ninangs (godparents)
and would receive money as gifts called
Family is the heart of a traditional Filipino
Christmas. It is the time when friends and
relatives come together for a reunion.
On Christmas Eve, families would gather
to enjoy a sumptuous feast known as
the Noche Buena, the Filipino version
of Thanksgiving. The highlight of the
festivities, no Filipino Noche Buena is
complete without hamon and keso de
bola among other favourites like paella,
mechado, lechon and fruit cake.
Hanging of a colorful parol is a Pinoy tradition.
All things considered, Filipino Christmas is
not only about the family gatherings, the
food and merry making. It is also about
love, sharing
joy to each
Baguio Beckons
The cool climes of the City of Pines are
perfect for unwinding with the family.
by Maan D’Asis Pamaran
Photos by Alex de Vera Dizon
he holidays are upon us, and a popular
way to enjoy “sweater” season is to
hie off to the highlands for a quick
retreat from the pressures of living in the
Metro. Baguio is a great destination not only
during the summer, but any time of the year,
as it never ceases to amaze with all the old
and new hotspots that offer something for
every member of the family. Here are some
hotspots that make for delightful discoveries
at your next Baguio journey.
What to Visit:
The Bencab Museum. The beauty of Baguio
certainly inspires, this is one of the reasons
why National Artist Ben Cabrera established an
art gallery showcasing Filipino talent ranging
from young and upcoming artists all the way
to the Masters. The exhibits include artifacts
from hinterland tribes, showcasing what
our ancestors used for their rituals and daily
Tam-awan Village. The aim of this amazing
place is to preserve the Cordillera’s cultural
heritage, and at the same time nurture
emerging local talent. It regularly holds
exhibits and workshops for budding
artists, and a yearly festival that displays
tribal traditions kept alive for the younger
It offers affordable lodging at the Cordillera
huts, each unique and named for the region
that it represents – to give an experience
of living the tribal life. Picnics and bonfires
are also offered, along with eco-tours and
demonstrations on crafts such as printmaking,
wood carving, solar drawing, and painting to
awaken that artist in you. It is located at 366-C
Pinsao Proper, call (074) 446i8990-2949.
Ukay-Ukay Night Market. Shopaholics will
definitely enjoy bargain-hunting at this vintage
repository that appears nightly starting 7:30
p.m. along the stretch of Harrison Road. Here,
one can grab a designer dress for as low as
P50, or a pair of leather boots for P300. Part
of the fun is in the haggling, so don’t forget
to ask the seller for the “best price” before
reaching for your wallet.
Baguio City Public Market. Baguio is famed
for its fresh produce, and the best place to
find healthy treats to bring home is at the
Public Market. It is also a place to find all the
pasalubong goodies and souvenir items-- from
peanut brittle, ube jam, and inuyam all the
way to t-shirts, wooden back scratchers, and
yes, that classic guy in the barrel that packs a
big surprise.
Easter Weaving. The tradition of items woven
at the loom has faded into the background
with the advent of industrial machines.
However, Easter Weaving seeks to keep the
craft alive by setting up and selling items that
are made by hand from start to finish. They
Not to be missed, too, is a room where minors
are not allowed, as the Erotica gallery features
exactly what the name suggests. The artist’s
own works figure prominently as well and the
museum guides will be able to share vignettes
on the connection between artist and muse,
leaving one with the lasting impression that
beauty and inspiration can lie hidden even
under layers of dirt and grime. If one is lucky
enough, the artist himself may be in residence,
and may be cajoled for a photo opportunity
or two.
Behind the museum is a colorful restaurant
called Café Sabel, named after the
aforementioned muse, with a view to a lovely
garden, that, in turn spills out towards an
ecotrail leading to a natural waterfall. It is
located at Km 6, Asin Road, Tadiangan, open
on Tuesdays to Sundays; general admission is
at P100/head.
The Bencab Museum exhibits artifacts showcasing what Filipino ancestors used for their rituals.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Choco-Late de Batirol serves cups
of hot chocolate done old-school.
Easter weaving keeps alive the traditions of
items woven at the loom.
are the suppliers for the UP Sablay, by the
way, and while the design for the Maroons is
exclusive to them, there are other patterns
to choose from, and these come in the form
of table linen, bags, and even indigenous
costumes. The workshop and showroom is
located at Easter Road, Guisad 2. Visit www.
Where to Dine:
Balajadia Restaurant. The Slaughterhouse is
Baguio’s meat district. It is where livestock is
brought and butchered. Restaurants such as
Balajadia have sprung up in its periphery, and
these offer meat at their freshest and most
flavorful. The specialties at this eatery include
Ilocano-style igado, sisig, and bulalo. A musttry is the inihaw, which one dips not in suka or
toyo but in dugo, which is coagulated blood.
The owner’s answer to Manila’s Soup Number
5 is his Bat and Balls, a saucy dish that is said
to have aphrodisiac effects.
Choco-late de Batirol. A good way to feel
warm and toasty in the cool mountain climes
is to have a cup or two of hot chocolate done
old-school down at Camp John Hay. Instant
imports are no match for this rich cocoa bean
brew whisked by hand, meant to be enjoyed
in this quiet piece of paradise. The café also
“A good way to feel warm
and toasty in the cool
mountain climes is to have a
cup or two of hot chocolate
done old-school down at
Camp John Hay.”
offers hot meals, and native faves such as
crunchy turon, puto bumbong, and bibingka.
Baguio Deli. Aside from the strip malls that
offer outlet shops that sell designer gear at
discounted prices, Camp John Hay is also
home to dining places such as Baguio Deli,
which offers an all-day breakfast menu, to be
paired with hot and cold drinks. Pasalubong
fare is also available, headlined by northern
delicacies longanisa and bagnet.
Where to Stay:
Azalea Residences. This hotel offers a taste
of the Suite life in Baguio, as all its 99 rooms
come equipped with a kitchen, dining set,
and living room area. The structure, which
resembles a ski-resort, comes with modern
amenities akin to a serviced apartment. The
location is a secluded hill, not too far from
Baguio’s hotspots, but remote enough to be
insulated from the city noise, to give a feeling
of tranquil mountainside living. Its Tradisyon
Restaurant offers an extensive breakfast
buffet, along with a popular weekend
Mongolian buffet every weekend.
For more information, visit
Le Monet. This upscale hotel veers away from
the usual log cabin look and presents itself as
a sparkling gem among the pine trees of Camp
John Hay. The lobby simply sparkles with a
crystal chandelier, and the outdoor fountains
light up at night accompanied by a sound
show. It has 65 deluxe and 5 suite rooms, a
gym, an indoor heated pool, complimentary
shuttle service to select locations, and F&B
outlets under the supervision of the famed
Chef Robby Goco. For room rates and
reservation, visit
the sharks, an activity which is not usually
included in tour packages.
Those who are interested in kayaking around
the islets can avail of kayak rentals that roughly
cost €12 for the whole day. You can also opt
to rent kayaks for half a day at half the price.
Fishing and windsurfing gears are available
starting at €120 per person.
The Azalea Residences highlights tranquil mountainside living.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
5 Fantastic Beaches in
the Philippines That
Very Few Have Been
by Ed Biado
photos by Robin Kuijs, Pranz Kaeno Billones and Clifford Badongen
oreign tourists, domestic tourists and balikbayans alike
flock to the famous beaches of Boracay, Puerto Galera,
Batangas and a few other familiar locations when
vacationing in the Philippines. And why not? These are some of
the best beaches in the world. But being a tropical country made
up of over 7,000 islands, the country is blessed with countless
beach destinations from the expensive, such as Amanpulo, to the
affordable, like Subic.
So why go to the places where everyone has been? Instead, try
these places that are unspoilt, semi-undiscovered and mostly
untouched by commercialization (and pollution).
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Banana Island
Coron, Palawan
Beachfront nipa huts and pretty much nothing else exist on this
little slice of paradise in between the South China Sea (West
Philippine Sea) and the Sulu Sea. Coron has been getting quite
commercial these past few years and high-end resorts are
popping up all over the islands. Banana Island, on the other hand,
retains its rustic peacefulness away from it all.
If you’re lucky enough to not share the beach with other tourists
- that can happen, depending on the season and if you’re actually
that lucky - take Banana Island for all it’s worth, as if it’s your very
own private island: the pinkish white sand beach, the schools
of fish swimming very close to the shore, where even the most
neophyte swimmer can snorkel to their heart’s delight, dozing off
and waking up to the sound of waves crashing, and your hosts’
good old home-cooked meals. Big fat danggit for breakfast,
Getting there: From Coron town, charter a boat to take you to
the island. Coron is less than hour away from Busuanga Airport by
Laswitan Lagoon
Cortes, Surigao Del Sur
Ever heard of seawater waterfalls? That’s exactly what you’re
gonna get at Laswitan Lagoon hidden away in the town of Cortes
in Surigao Del Sur. The “falls” are not a true waterfall. Bummer?
Not quite. They are intense Pacific Ocean waves so high that,
when they crash onto the rock formations, they spill over to the
opposite side, creating an effect similar to how waterfalls, well,
fall. The water is collected in a basin that people can swim in
protected from the harsh waves. And that is more awesome than
real waterfalls.
However, this wonder of nature can only be experienced when
the amihan is strong enough, particularly between the months of
October and March.
Getting there: From Cortes town, take a habal-habal to Barangay
Madrelino, where the lagoon is. Cortes is four hours away from
Surigao City by bus.
Palaui Island (Punta Verde)
Santa Ana, Cagayan
Palaui Island
A sliver of white is what the beach looks like from afar, separating
the clear waters from the green hilly landscape. It’s raw and,
Tinaga Island is home to Mahabang
Buhangin, a beach escape with a
dedicated cult following of backpackers.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
“A sliver of white
is what the beach
looks like from
afar, separating
the clear waters
from the green hilly
landscape. It’s raw
and, until recently,
it was a secret.”
Charming bucolic scenes can be captured in some hidden Philippine beaches.
until recently, it was a secret. That was before the world got
acquainted with its pristine isolation via the American TV show
Survivor. It was the perfect location for the challenging reality
competition because conditions there can be harsh. In fact,
simply getting there is a feat on its own - you need a trusted guide
to get you through the mangrove forest that conceals the cove.
But it’s an adventure well worth it. Make sure you have your
camping gear in tow. There are no resorts on the beach and you’ll
want to spend the night after the long trek. And bring a friend or
two - there’s no one there at all most of the time.
Getting there: Charter a boat and a guide at the San Vicente
port in Santa Ana town to take you to Punta Verde. Santa Ana is a
three-hour van ride from Tuguegarao, which you can reach by bus
or plane.
Tinaga Island (Mahabang Buhangin)
Calaguas, Vinzons, Camarines Norte
Camarines Norte is not getting as much attention as Camarines
Sur (or CamSur, as their local government markets the province).
This is why Caramoan in CamSur comes to mind when talking
about Camarines instead of the Calaguas group of islands. This
is why the latter is less commercialized and more serene, which
makes it more beautiful.
Diniwid Beach
Boracay Island, Aklan
If the other options in this list are too obscure for your taste,
there’s Diniwid Beach found on the island of Boracay. Unlike the
beach party capital of the Philippines, White Beach, this is the
alternative side of Boracay that not many people go to. Most of
us go to the island to party, after all. But just like on White Beach,
Diniwid sand is white (albeit not as fine) and the water is crystal
clear and calm. The only thing that’s missing? The noisy rowd.
The best thing about this beach is that it’s only a few minutes
away from the main beach, where you would probably be staying
if you’re on the island. So there’s always the opportunity to
experience both the serenity and privacy of this tiny hideaway
and the comforts and the social scene that Boracay is known for.
Without needing to sleep in a tent and braving tedious treks.
Getting there: Take a tricycle from anywhere in Boracay to go to
Diniwid Beach. Boracay is a 15-minute boat ride from Caticlan
The biggest island in the Calaguas archipelago, Tinaga, is home
to Mahabang Buhangin, a beach escape with a dedicated cult
following of backpackers. Tents are mandatory here because of
the lack of accommodation options. It is recommended to visit
the place as soon as possible because it is now touted as an
emerging tourist destination and, before long, resorts may start
lining the incredible strip of white sand beach.
Getting there: Charter a boat to take you to the island from the
fish port of Vinzons town. Be prepared, though, because the
journey will take more than two hours. Vinzons is a short jeep ride
from Daet, which is eight hours away from Manila by bus.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
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New Beginnings
The Filipino Expat will put the spotlight on
multicultural kids and how they keep up with the
different traditions and cultures of their parents.
There will be a feature on the latest trends in
fashion and accessories. Plus, a travelogue on one
of the hottest luxury destinations in the Philippines.
Don’t believe in luck? FilExpat will interview a feng
shui expert for tips and guides on making luck and
opportunities work for you this 2014.
Dutch-Filipina beauty queen Sheryl Lynn Baas
tells us about how her mother influenced her to
give back to the Philippines, inspiring her to start
a charity foundation helping children get quality
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Noche buena feasting
The Pinoy celebration of Christmas culminates on Christmas Eve when families gather around the dinner table to
partake of the Noche Buena, Filipinos’ version of Thanksgiving. At this time, food is the centerpiece. Some serve the
same dishes as the previous year while others put a little twist on age-old recipes.
San Miguel Pure Foods company culinary center suggests a few heartwarming Christmas fares:
Crown Roast of Pork with Saffron Chorizo
Rice and Roasted Bell Pepper Coulis
1 whole crown roast of pork
(16 ribs)
1 tbsp salt
½ tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp olive oil
For the rice:
1-210g can Purefoods chorizo de
bilbao, thinly sliced
½ cup Magnolia Gold Butter, unsalted
2 cup uncooked jasmine rice, washed
2 strand saffron thread
2 cup chicken broth, hot
2 tbsp Magnolia Gold Butter, unsalted
For the coulis:
3 pc large red bell pepper, cored,
seeded and chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp shallots, chopped
¼ cup chicken broth
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
ground white pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200F. Trim off any
excess fat in the center of the crown as
the rice stuffing will be placed here. In a
bowl, mix salt, pepper, garlic powder, and
oil. Rub the marinade all over the pork. Let
the pork rest for 1 hour minimum inside
the ref. Roast the pork in the oven for
around 1½-2 hours or until the pork juices
are clear and not pinkish. Wrap pork with
aluminum foil to keep warm. Set aside.
In a medium pan, melt butter and sauté
chorizo slices. Set chorizo aside. Using the
same butter use for sautéing the chorizo,
The Filipino Expat Magazine
sauté rice until well coated with the oil.
Set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, grind
saffron threads and combine with the hot
broth. Transfer sauteed rice and saffron
broth in a rice cooker and cook until done.
Add in the chorizo slices together with the
rice and finish off with 2 tbsp butter. Mix
well. Set aside, covered with aluminum
Heat a medium sauté pan over moderate
heat. Add in the oil and sauté shallots until
translucent, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat
to low and add the bell peppers. Cover and
sweat for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Add a couple tablespoons of broth and
cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from
heat and puree mixture in a blender. Add
the balsamic vinegar and more broth until
desired thickness is achieved. The coulis
should be slightly thick in consistency.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
To assemble, place the crown roast in a
large serving platter. Place the saffron rice
in the center of the crown roast and also
around the sides of the meat. Serve the
coulis on the side.
1 pc Magnolia jumbo chicken
Soften butter and blend in the herbs and
garlic salt. Loosen skin of chicken and rub
butter well in between the skin. Marinate
chicken in soy sauce mixture for at least 1
hour in refrigerator. In a wok, melt butter
and sauté chopped onions. Add chorizo
and mushrooms. Cook for another 3
minutes. Add washed rice and cook for 5
minutes while constantly stirring. Season
with pepper. Transfer rice mixture into a
rice cooker. Ass prepared chicken broth
and cook until done. Stuff chicken with
prepared rice stuffing with prepared rice
stuffing. Do not overstuff. Extra stuffing
can be served on the side. Bake chicken in
a turbo broiler at 300 degrees F for about
an hour and 30 minutes at 350 degrees
F. brush with marinade halfway through
cooking time.
For the Herbed Butter:
1/3 cup Magnolia Gold butter unsalted, softened
1 tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp thyme leaves
1/8 tsp sage
¼ tsp garlic salt
For the marinade:
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
For the rice stuffing:
1/3 cup Magnolia Gold butter unsalted
1/3 cup white onions, chopped
2 pc Purefoods chorizo de bilbao
½ cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 cup glutinous rice (malagkit), washed
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 pc chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in,
5 cup water
The Filipino Expat Magazine
2 cups Magnolia Gold Edam cheese,
¾ cup Magnolia Gold butter, softened
2 tbsp dried mangoes, chopped
2 tbsp dried cranberries, chopped
2 tbsp dried pineapples, chopped
2 tbsp dried apricots, chopped
2 tbsp raisins, chopped
1 tbsp honey
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground all-spice
Combine grated Edam cheese,
softened butter, dried mangoes, dried
cranberries, dried pineapples, dried
apricots and raisins in a food processor.
Add honey, nutmeg and all-spice.
Continue mixing until all ingredients
blend together. Transfer cheese and
dried fruit mixture into a serving dish
and serve together with crackers,
crostinni and/or toasted bread.
2 cups Magnolia all purpose cream, chilled
½ cup powdered sugar
2 cup peanut brittle, crushed
500 gm fresh strawberries, quartered and stem
and leaves removed
½ cup almonds, toasted and chopped
Whip cream with powdered sugar until forms
stiff peaks. Chill in the refrigerator until ready
to use.
Divide crushed brittle in 5 serving containers
or put in 1 trifle bowl. Divide strawberries and
top over brittle in container/s then spoon in
whipped cream over strawberries then sprinkle
top with almonds. Chill until ready to serve.
Note: If strawberries are not very sweet
according to your liking, you can cook it with
½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar just until
strawberries starts to soften, then use as
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The ‘bad boy’ charms
Pinoys in Amsterdam
by Pieter van Overbeeke
photos by Sonny Dimaculangan
“As you know I am a Muslim, but Christmas
is a very important time in our country. It’s
something that needs to be celebrated for
all involved. It keeps family-ties strong”
The Filipino Expat Magazine
Robin, together with director Joyce Bernal and friends, relaxes at a restaurant.
amous Filipino movie actor Robin Padilla
was recently in Amsterdam to shoot his
latest film titled “10,000 Hours.”
Directed by Joyce Bernal, the movie is
based on a true story of Philippine Senator
Ping Lacson who was accused of crimes in
the 90’s and went into hiding for about 14
months including outside the Philippines.
The movie is set to be one of the entries in
the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)
slated this December. Other cast members
are Michael de Mesa, Pen Medina, Bella
Padilla and Carla Humphries.
Robin was charming as ever. Die-hard
Filipina fans couldn’t help but follow him
around wherever he went. And needless to
say, their phone cameras were ever ready to
take an “obligatory” photo with the popular
and good-looking “Bad Boy” of Philippine
cinema. Robin even treated some of them to
lunch and gave them money.
He went as far as making a video of his
fans and posting it on his Facebook and
Instagram accounts.
“As you know I am a Muslim, but Christmas
is a very important time in our country. It’s
something that needs to be celebrated for
all involved. It keeps family-ties strong,” says
He adds, “We all celebrate it with my
daughters and relatives. It’s a bit hectic at
this time because of the film-premiere,
but I surely will make time for it. It is our
Robin praised the OFWs he met while
shooting here.
“They [OFWs] are fundamental to our
economy because it is them who bring
home to the Philippines billions of
foreign currencies while working hard
abroad, many times in difficult and simple
surroundings,” says Robin.
A fan gets cozy with her idol.
Robin’s wife Mariel Rodriguez also flew in
from the Philippines for a short European
trip. Ever the loving husband, Robin took
some time off from work to tour his wife
around the Anne Frank Museum as well as
the famous canals. Both husband and wife
are very much into organic food. So they
visited organic restaurants and shops. They
checked out an organic farm located south
of Holland as well.
Unbeknown to many, Robin has a soft
spot for overseas Filipino workers. In
fact, whenever he travels abroad, he likes
engaging fans to a conversation.
When Robin was asked what Christmas
meant for him?
The Filipino Expat Magazine
expat interviews
by Dheza Kuijs
nna Lyn Bjørnstad, 44, has been
living in Oslo, Norway for the
past 13 years. She lives with her
husband, two daughters and a dog named
Max. She works at Scandinavian Airline
and hosts a weekly radio show called
Ugnayon at Pinoy Radio Nordic.
and fish were thrown into the trash bin
just because they were not cooked the
way they should. We invited ourselves
for dinner at my parents-in-law´s place a
lot. I remember calling my mother after a
few weeks of craving for rice. She walked
me through the process of cooking rice
and I can now proudly say that I can do it
without a rice cooker. I am still probably
the worse homemaker there is but I am
getting better.
Apart from personal or family challenges,
frustration with the system is one of the
things I had to struggle with in Norway.
Why did you move to Norway?
There are just a few things I dislike about
living here and one of them includes
the long winters. It may almost be
immaculate when the snow comes but
the work that comes with it is heavy
-literally. There´s not much light during
the day. It can be slippery at times. We
have to put on layers of clothes. I guess,
I am not the only person who has a long
list of why I prefer spring.
What are your biggest challenges? How
did you overcome them?
My first year in Norway was the most
challenging. My husband is very sociable.
We get visitors almost all the time. And
when two or three Norwegians come
together, you don´t expect them to
speak English. So there was me, sitting
with them and understanding nothing.
My husband tried to translate a few
conversations but it was impossible to
keep up.
There was also my lack of skills in
homemaking. I could not cook, clean the
house properly, and wash clothes. You
can just imagine how many kilos of meat
The Filipino Expat Magazine
What do you like most about living in
You would probably find it strange that
the best things I like about living in
Norway are simple things. I can drink
water from the tap, you can walk in
the forest even in big cities and not to
mention, it is a safe country to raise a
family. Plus, it is generally a clean country.
The waste management here, especially
in my area, is fascinating.
Thirteen years ago, together with my
Norwegian partner, my daughter and
I flew to Norway intending to have a
one-month vacation. We planned to go
back to Manila before the school year
started. Our plans changed because my
partner and I got married that summer.
We decided to stay and technically, I am
still on holiday.
I had to find things out on my own:
How to enroll a child in school, how to
get listed in a Norwegian class, how the
public transportation works and believe
it or not, as simple as finding out where
to buy rice. My husband and his family
helped me, of course. But they know
very little about how to help immigrants
adjust to life in Europe. Good thing, I am
the type who is not afraid to ask for help.
I asked his friends and even strangers.
Along the way, I gained friends.
“There are just a few things I
dislike about living here and
one of them includes the long
winters. It may almost be
immaculate when the snow
comes but the work that
comes with it is heavy -literally.
There´s not much light during
the day. It can be slippery at
times. We have to put on layers
of clothes.”
What are the three important things
Filipinos should remember when moving
to Norway?
While I am thankful that we do not pay
anything when we get hospitalized, the
waiting time and process to get the
treatment you need is extremely long. It
is not easy to get sick in this country. You
might want to have a person who can
support you. The money from the social
system does not come automatically.
You should know that you have filled out
all the necessary papers. I am hoping
that with the new government, there
would be a little improvement on the
effectiveness of the system.
Learn the language as soon as you can.
The faster you learn the language, the
better your chances of being satisfied
wherever you are.
Learn the culture. The more you
understand Norwegians, the sooner you
would be able to integrate yourself in the
society. Remember that people will not
adjust to your culture.
Listen to the locals. They are your greatest
allies on your first year. They’ll let you
know what to do and what not to do.
Norwegians may seem overbearing but
they will try to help you in any way they
Sending help to the
A destroyed house on the outskirts of Tacloban on Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and
loss of life. (Photo courtesy of Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas)
by Lyssa Ericka Cabarles
he Philippines recently made international headlines
when it was hit by one of the world’s super typhoons
called Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan). As of
this writing, the report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction
Management Council (NDRRMC) said that an estimated 4,000
have been found dead, some 12,000 suffered injuries and more
than a thousand are still missing. Earlier reports said that death
toll could reach up to 10,000. Yolanda made its first landfall on
the early morning of Nov. 8, in Guiuan, Eastern Samar before
continuing on its destructive path to ravage neighbouring cities
like Tacloban, Capiz, and some parts of Cebu, Iloilo and Palawan.
While relief efforts from both the local and international
communities are pouring into the destroyed areas, thousands
remain in desperate need of food, water, medicines, clothing and
The nightmare is far from over. The affected provinces and its
people need full rehabilitation of their homes, community and
livelihood. The Filipino Expat has listed down the following
agencies where you can send help:
Habitat for Humanity- Philippines
The Habitat for Humanity Philippines is raising funds to provide
Cleaning Kit to 50,000 families, Shelter Repair Kit to 30,000
families and 10,000 Core Houses - all to the affected areas of
Super Typhoon Yolanda.
For Peso Donations, deposit your contributions to BPI current
account 2421-0014-24
For Dollar donations, deposit your contributions to BPI US Dollar
account 2424-0111045
Visit their website for more information: http://www.
Gawad Kalinga
GawadKalinga (GK) is a Philippine-based organization known
for building homes and communities across the country, has
launched Operation WalangIwanan: Typhoon Yolanda. Aside from
the immediate relief they are providing for the victims, they are
also planning to build new housing units to relocate the displaced
poor families and rehabilitate damaged homes.
For details on how to donate, you could visit their website http://
UNICEF is appealing for $34 million to help 4 million Filipino
children who survived Typhoon Yolanda.
UNICEF Philippines is accepting donations through the following
Online donation site:
Cash/Cheque deposit (account name: UNICEF)
• Metrobank: C/A 066-706631209-3
• BDO: S/A 002-08016364-3
• Land Bank: C/A 0052-1393-17
• BPI: S/A 001-50100335-9
• PNB: S/A 531-10730001-3
• RCBC: C/A 500000-1882
PayPal: Log in to PayPal, choose ‘Send Money’ option, key in
UNICEF email address ([email protected]) and select ‘I’m
paying for goods or services’ option.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
PAL flies to London
Philippine Airlines launched its inaugural flight to
London last Nov. 4, fulfilling the flag carrier’s promise
to return to Europe four months after the lifting of the
European Union ban.
“We’re very happy that London is PAL’s first Europe
destination since flights to that continent were
discontinued in 1998,” said Ramon Ang, PAL president
and COO.
PAL flies five times a week (Monday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), departing Manila in
the morning and arriving at Terminal 4 of Heathrow
airport in London, the premier gateway to the United
Kingdom and the world’s busiest international airport.
“That we have been given permission to fly to
Heathrow makes our return much more meaningful
... We take this as a strong vote of confidence by UK
authorities in PAL’s ability to bring in the passenger
traffic volume worthy of the world’s top airlines,”
added Ang.
PAL operates direct, non-stop flights, providing the
fastest travel to London (average 13 hours) as well
as convenient connections from the UK capital to
top Philippine tourist spots and other destinations
in Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
British business travelers can also make Manila a
gateway to PAL’s extensive international network.
Ramon Ang, PAL’s president and COO.
“With the new direct air links, our country is looking at
a potential windfall in tourism, trade and investment
from Europe,” said PAL’s chief operating officer.
In 2012, one third of the estimated 349,000 European
visitors to the Philippines came from Britain. In the first
half of 2013, arrivals from UK reached 60,234. “With
PAL’s new non-stop flights, we are sure these numbers
will rise even further,” said Ang.
PAL aims at providing the more than 664,000 Filipinos
in Europe with the most convenient travel to return
100 Lucky Juans treated to a joyful homecoming
in December),” said Joanna Baluyut, who has been
working in the Middle East for two years.
“’Yung ticket ko na panalo, sobrang laking tulong na
po sa’min na OFW. ‘Yung pera ng pambili mo ng ticket,
pampasalubong na sa ‘Pinas (Winning the ticket to fly
home is a big help for OFWs like us. The money we
could’ve spent on the ticket, we can now give to our
families),” added John John Cabrillos, who has been
based in the Middle East for a year.
A total of 100 winners were named in the promo’s 14week run from June 3 to September 2, 2013. To join,
the contestants simply had to “like” the official Cebu
Pacific Facebook page, click on the 100 Lucky Juans
application, and answer the question: “How will I make
my homecoming in the Philippines fun?”
Lance Gokongwei (right), Cebu Pacific President and CEO, with Alex Reyes, Cebu Pacific GM for the long-haul
no’ng pagtapak ko sa UAE, ngayon lang nagkaroon ng
A total of 100 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) based
in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were reunited with
ganitong promo kaya nagpapapasalamat ako sa kanila.
their loved ones in the Philippines through Cebu Pacific
Gusto ko na umuwi kasi nami-miss ko na aking pamilya
and GMA Pinoy TV’s 100 Lucky Juans promo. Families
(Since I set foot in the UAE, this is the first time that
and friends of the winning OFWs surprised their loved
they had a promo like this, so I’m really thankful. I
ones in a touching reunion celebration at Resorts
really wanted to go home because I miss my family),”
World Manila.
he said.
The 100 Lucky Juans flew back home last Oct. 7 aboard
the Dubai-Manila maiden flight of the country’s leading
low-cost carrier. These include Michael Cerillo, who
has been working in the UAE for 23 years. “Mula
The Filipino Expat Magazine
“Nami-miss ko na ang aking bulinggit. Sobrang saya
kasi napaaga ‘yung bakasyon ko instead of December
(I really miss my little one. I’m so happy because I
got to go home earlier for a vacation instead of going
Answers were submitted as a photo collage, twominute video or essay with 200 words or less. These
were judged based on creativity, adherence to the
theme and the number of “likes” they garnered on the
social networking site. The contestant’s length of stay
in the UAE was also a factor in the results.
“Cebu Pacific is very proud to be reuniting 100 of our
hardworking kababayans with their families in the
Philippines. This has made our maiden Dubai-Manila
flight a truly meaningful milestone,” said Cebu Pacific
President and CEO Lance Gokongwei. “We look forward
to be of service to even more Filipinos, as we continue
to offer our trademark low fares to even more long
haul destinations in the future. ”
The first and only Philippine carrier with direct flights to
Dubai, Cebu Pacific now offers daily flights from Manila.
The Filipino Expat Magazine
The Filipino Expat Magazine