Unpacked

Misadventures Around the World


They say the best camera you have is the one you have with you at all times. And when you go around vacation hot spots and bring with you your bulky equipment, it could sometimes bog down an otherwise easy-going trip.

Luckily, smartphones have been beefing up their internals so photo and video documentation could somewhat be at par (if not better) than some digital recording devices. Take Asus’ update on the widely received ZenFone Zoom, the ZenFone 3 Zoom.

ZenFone 3 Zoom Dual Lens

The ZenFone Zoom packs two (2) 12-megapixel cameras working simultaneously allowing you to catch any moment desired. The ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih exclaimed that the ZenFone 3 Zoom is a “photographic dream machine” during the unveiling at CES2017 (one of the larger consumer electronic shows globally).

Both cameras do different things as you’ll see in this spec sheet:

Rear Camera Specs

This mix and match of cameras, lenses and processor means that your photos can come out crisper and clearer on practically any setting you may so desire.

We took the Zoom during our past 2 trips in Malaysia and in El Nido and here are some stunning photos taken by the phone’s dual camera.

The ZenFone 3 Zoom can take complex lighting parameters and make sense with the various sensors that it has.

ZenFone 3 Zoom El Nido 4

Even if the sun is shining so bright, it calibrates so that your photos do not come out over exposed.

Cat statue in Kuching, Sarawak, Malasia

Cat statue in Kuching, Sarawak, Malasia. Taken around 12noon

Colors come out vibrant without the need to add filters.

Taken at around 10:30am at Apulit Resorts, El Nido, Palawan

Taken at around 10:30am at Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan

Of course, the distinct advantage of the camera, as the name implies, is its 12x zoom. To make it effective, though, we suggest putting your phone on a stand or tripod.

The power of 12x Zoom!

The power of 12x Zoom!

Macro  photography is pretty easy as well as the camera tends to shift lens instantaneous depending on what you need to shoot at that moment.

ZenFone 3 Zoom Macro Photography

Shot at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The front-facing camera produces decent selfies as well. With a 13-megapixel f/2.0 lens, capturing selfies and even groufies becomes really easy.

With Nicole Batac of 2.0 Magazine on our way to Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan for Epson Fusion 8

With Nicole Batac of 2.0 Magazine on our way to Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan for Epson Fusion 8

 

Pre-departure with the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor and a host of other Pinoy greats going to Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.

Pre-departure with the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor and a host of other Pinoy greats going to Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.

Because of the 2 rear camera sensors, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is able to handle various night-time photography shots with better output than its predecessor. Whether you’re off to more formal evening affairs

Mr. Bernardo Bernardo holding the AIFFA 2017 trophy for their work with Imbisibol at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Mr. Bernardo Bernardo holding the AIFFA 2017 trophy for their work with Imbisibol at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

or something a liiiitle bit rowdier, you don’t have to worry about not catching that shot.

AIFFA Festival Director Livan Tajang, Director Raymond Red and Cannes Best Actress Winner Ms. Jacklyn Jose at the Junk, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

AIFFA Festival Director Livan Tajang, Director Raymond Red and Cannes Best Actress Winner Ms. Jacklyn Jose at the JUNK, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The ZenFone 3 Zoom can also record at 4K, which comes in particularly useful if you’re fond of creating nifty vacation vids.

While we’re not discounting a standalone camera’s worth, we just find it more convenient to bring a phone that packs a pretty solid camera as your main lens when traveling. The ease of convenience, the varied 3rd party apps that instantaneously enhances photos and videos quickly, and the on-the-spot sharing of creative content on social makes bringing a smartphone the more practical (if not ideal) choice. And with ZenFone 3 Zoom’s whopping 5000 mAH internal battery, you can take as much photos and videos as you want without worrying about your phone dying soon. In our travels, the phone lasted usually a day before we had to recharge it again. Not bad indeed.

If you’re in the market for a sensible smartphone that has amazing camera options, the ZenFone 3 Zoom might be the phone for you. It’s currently priced at Php 23, 990 and available nationwide through official distributors of ASUS goods.

For more technical reading on the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom, head over to our sister site’s feature:

ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom Review: Second Time’s The Charm

Leave your bulky camera at home! The ZenFone Zoom is all you need for travel!

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StrEat_01

A Treat for the Foodies

These days, foodies don’t just enjoy good food.  They love taking photos and videos of it to share for the world to see.  Hence, the #foodporn has been used 117,731,730 times in IG.  Other hashtags are also being used like #foodstagram, #foodforthought or simply just #food.  That’s how much people love to eat so they want to know the latest cuisines and restaurants to try out there.

Sharing your latest foodie experience can be a hassle with slow, unstable internet connection.  The solution of Smart Telecom?  Provide SmartSpots in strategic locations in the metro so people can share good food and appetizing photos and videos of it at incredibly fast speeds.

StrEat_03

 SmartSpots in the Metro

The newest SmartSpots location is at an ultimate foodie place called StrEat at Maginhawa Food Park.  Browsing is free for 30 minutes with an option to purchase more time at a partner stall in the area.  How fast is the connection?  When we had dinner there, the download speed was close to 180 Mbps and the upload speed was at 178.76 Mbps.  You can also experience incredibly fast internet in their other locations at The Yard in Xavierville and The Yard Underground in Pasig.  We can expect more SmartSpots to be launched in the coming weeks.  Follow Smart’s Facebook page if you’re interested to know where the other areas will be.

Smart X StrEat folks collab

Smart X StrEat folks collab

More Than Just Fast Internet

SmartSpots offers more than just fast internet; they also provide great deals and discounts at their partner venues.  Take note that these deals are not exclusive to Smart subscribers, however, they do get additional perks.  To know all about these offers, text SmartSpots On to 292909434 and you will get access to their online magazine.

Dying to share those mouthwatering photos of your latest foodie escapade?  Then pick a SmartSpots area and satisfy your craving for food and need for incredibly fast internet for those #FoodPorn moments.

 

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What makes a fine suit? Is it the pop in color, the trendiness of the cut, the Avant Garde materials? If you ask the people from Ermengildo Zegna, one of the stalwarts of Made-to-Measure suits in Italy and across the globe, they’ll say it’s the confluence of tradition, fine craftsmanship and superb quality materials. It’s the exact measurement, the precise cut and the choice combinations of fabric that brings the suit together. Perhaps it’s this obsession with perfection that charged them when they launched their Essenze fragrance line.

In 2012, Zegna launched five high-end private-labeled fragrances under the Essenze line. The perfume celebrates the exquisite ingredients more than, maybe, the actual blend of the finished product. The underlying hero note across all the variants would be the one of the most used oils in fragrance making, the Calabria Bergamot.

zegna essenze a

The blend of the fragrance uses a higher quality (if not the highest quality) of the bitter citrus oil. To maintain this, Zegna decided to create, maintain and cultivate their own Bergamot farm. This makes a whole lot of sense, given where the brand started. In 1910, Ermenegildo Zegna was more known for its supplies of extremely high quality fabric for suit-making. In fact, the brand is one of the most biggest global producers of fine fabrics with renowned fashion brands acting as their main patrons (likes of Gucci, Yves Saint Lauren, Dunhill and Tom Ford).

By being the owner of the main ingredient in your collection, you can be assured that they will be using the finest Italian Bergamot available. That being said, Zegna’s Essenze is an exercise in appreciating luxury.

You see, Essenze, despite its price, is void from the usual pomp and grandeur that the usual fragrances this price range offers. In its stead, the Essenze line offers you the most exquisite versions of tradition and craftsmanship. It’s like tasting the best slice of Tuna Sashimi or enjoying a sip from an 18-year old Macallan. The note composition isn’t exactly innovative, but the sublime quality used to create the perfume is just perfect that it’s hard to find fault with the line. Even with average juice performance, the crisp, well-balanced fragrances makes up for any perceived flaws. Bottling is exceptional as well, with the juice luxuriously encapsulated within the squared bottles with magnetic caps.

They’ve expanded the variants ever since 2012 and have even offered friendlier flankers like the Acqua Di Bergamotto – that is almost identical to their signature scent Italian Bergamot except with a more pronounced aqua accord (and half the price).

Vetiver, Bergamotto and Iris

Still, despite all this, Ermenegildo Zegna’s Essenze remains to be one of the most underrated fragrance line in the fragrance community. There’s hardly any hype or discussion among the various fragrance community.

Personally, I highly recommend this for serious perfume collectors. If you want a feel of the classic, it’s best to start with Italian Bergamot – the scent that truly launched the line (and highlights the hero note of the collection).

If you still want a citrusy-scent that packs a punch, go with Mediterranean Neroli, a 2016 release. This, my friends, is one of the best neroli-centric scents ever. Perfectly balanced, has good longevity and projection.

Italian Bergamot

Florentine Iris is pure class. The story goes that it took them 6 years to plant, cultivate, harvest, dry aged and produce the Iris oil used in this fragrance. A scent that’s more suited for very expensive dinners, Florentine Iris is sublime in its beauty. Metallic-floral majestically mixes with soft musk to produce one of the best Iris scents I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.

Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze

Javanese Patchouli is an aromatic modern take on the classic herb. It’s astringent, clean but transforms into this creamy earthy tone because of the Tonka. I am pretty much addicted to this!

And speaking of earthy, let’s not discount the king of barbershop scents, Haitian Vetiver. This rooty, earthy yet clean Vetiver is one of the few that propelled my fragrance addiction as well.

Haitian Vetiver

Indonesian Oud is an interesting take on the classic oud (agarwood) – rose combo. While majority of the oud-rose fragrances convey a thick, warm scent, Zegna managed to translate the complex and heavy oils to the line’s DNA of sublime luxury. Indonesian Oud doesn’t scream its presence but stays reserve and looming, waiting for you to be captured in its majestic spell. This is one of the brightest and easiest ouds I have ever sampled. It’s a testament to how well-balanced the blend is that even if you’re averse to strong scents, Indonesian Oud by Zegna is something that’s easy to acclimate towards to.

And to round things off, there’s Peruvian Ambrette, a fragrance that utilizes natural plant-based musk, Orris seeds and soft leather to produce probably the most complex of the fragrance mixes of the line. It starts off medicinal but the dry down is sublime and brimming with luxury!

Zegna SS17

Essenze in essence, has little to do with opulence but has everything to do with squeezing the best out of the most basic of substances. It’s the perfect balance, the right cut, the finest fabrics, the Italian Suit that’s made just for you –it’s subjecting one’s craft to the highest possible standard allowing you to expose its, well, essence.

If you pass by Rustan’s Shagrila Plaza or Glorietta, and you want to go beyond the usual designer and/or overly overpriced “niche” fragrances, check this line out. Some of the scents make me want to play Kate Hudson’s Cinema Italiano in 2009’s film adaptation of the 1982 Tony Awards Winner, Nine. “Style is the new content…they wanna ride on a Vespa down the Via Veneto. They wanna live in an Italian movie.”


Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze retails for Php 11,500 for 125ml bottle. There are times when Rustan’s will go on a buy 1 take 1 deal. It’s rare but it happens.

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While filming an episode of Helpless Gamer for our other geeky blog site, Ungeek.ph, I chanced upon this quirky contraption at Spectre Manila –a gentleman’s one-stop-shop lifestyle store of sort.

Cut, Shave, Suits, Bag, Shoes and Solid Perfumes at Spectre Manila

Cut, Shave, Suits, Bag, Shoes and Solid Perfumes at Spectre Manila

Tucked away in the quiet streets of Luna Mencias Street at Addition Hills (just right beside Shaw Blvd), Spectre is the place for you to go to if you a quick haircut and shave or be measured by distinguished tailors to have your exquisite suit custom-made for you. This is also where I first heard and learned about Fulton & Roark and the wonders of Solid Perfumery.

Solid Perfume

The simple utilitarian truth about perfume is that it’s hard to bring it with you always if you want to refresh your scent. You can keep them in your bag handy or transfer them to smaller decant and travel spritzers like Travalo but it’s not as comfortably handy and as elegant as you’d want it to be. For one, it’s weird to re-apply right smack at the middle of a night out.  For more discreet application, solid perfume would be your best alternative.
Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume 1

Fulton & Roark understood this behavior and decided to create a solution that looks and feels, well, quite manly.

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume Reserved No 3

The Solid Cologne line from Fulton & Roark combines sleek utilitarian function with stylish application. There are two case variants from Fulton & Roark. The regular one comes in a brushed silver metal ware while the limited edition comes in glossy gunmetal.  These solid containers are built to last—shatterproof and can be carried anywhere and anytime (gym bag, pocket, carry-on luggage, etc.).

While Spectre carries various scent variants, you only really need one container as the scents can be interchanged via refill cartridges that snap directly on the case via magnets.

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume Body Refills

To use, you simply just slide the lid open, like a switchblade, take a few swipes on the aromatic wax and dab it lightly on your pulse points.  Repeat as often as you like. 😉

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume 3

The collection also comes in various scent profiles ranging from green, aquatic, fresh to woody.

TYBEE and LTD. RESERVED NO. 03 is probably the most mass appealing from the group. That’s not saying they’re too generic to warrant interest, they’re not. TYBEE is a gorgeous aromatic with nuances of rosewood, cedar and white musk grounding the scent together while Ltd. Reserved No. 03 smells like expensive soap from some 5-star hotel resort somewhere halfway across the world. Green Citrus with slight touches of balmy labdanum and slightly smoky/ slightly green vetiver makes LTD. RESERVED NO. 3 a wonderful modern gentleman day scent.

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume 2

HATTERAS and SHACKLEFORD are personal favorites. I’m on Fougère high ever since I got my hands on Amouage’s Bracken Man and HATTERAS is Fulton & Roark’s homage to the classic green scent. Astringent lavender, green oakmoss and earthy vetiver builds the foundation of Hatteras while silver frankincense gives it a smoky/ spicy kick.

SHACKLEFORD on the other hand is best for night time affairs. Deep, dark, amber, woody, SHACKLEFORD mixes exotic sandalwood, balmy amber, rich leather with nuanced sweetness coming from various dried fruits. It’s surprisingly complex!

Fulton and Roark Solid Perfume Refills

While I won’t ditch my mainstay fragrances, it’s handy to keep these solid perfumes in your grooming arsenal. And while they may not be projection monsters, or have insane longevity, the beauty of solid fragrances, particularly Fulton & Roark’s is that you can apply them anytime, anywhere and look amazing doing so!

Fulton & Roark’s Solid Cologne are available at Spectre Manila for Php 2000-2600 with refills of only Php 350 pesos each. That’s not a bad investment there! Check out Spectre Manila for more info or drop by and check their wares (and get your hair done as well).

 

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In 1882, Houbigant changed the face of men’s perfume forever with the introduction of a new fragrance category: Fougère (read: Fooj-air). The uniquely green composition harnesses notes of lavender, oakmoss and coumarin – a unique derivative at the time from the creamy tonka bean. It’s the coumarin that lends the grassy, almost new-mowed lawn scent that contributes to the Fougère’s freshness.

Fougère also literally means fern.

Fern

Over the years many other labels started crafting their own versions with more notes added, subtracted or substituted, but almost always all retain the essence of Houbigant’s fougère originale, Fougère Royale – green, woodsy, ‘soapy’ and luxurious. (Examples of modern-day Fougeres are Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche, Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein, Polo by Ralph LaurenBrut by Fabergé)

The scent that changed the face of mens perfumery forever.

The scent that changed the face of mens perfumery forever.

Fast-forward 134 years later and Oman-based luxury fragrance-maker Amouage releases their direct homage to the classic fougère fragrance. The homage is so direct they named the fragrance Bracken – the quintessential genus of fern.

This isn’t the first time that Amouage outs a fougère (Ciel Man, Reflection Man and, to some extent, Memoir Man are considered as fougère) but this is the first time that the whole fragrance encapsulates fougère in its basic and rawest essence.

amouage-bracken-man_-banner

A burst of green, earthy goodness, Amouage Bracken Man is ridiculously good! A far departure from the house’s usual incense and oud-heavy creations, Bracken embraces the raw intensity of nature, conjuring imagery of a crackling dry leaves amidst the cold morning dew in a secluded enchanted forest.

Bracken Man Imagery

Green, dry, yet oddly damp. Bracken Man brings to mind these lush imagery for you to enjoy.

 

Upon initial spray, Bracken announces itself with an intense presence as the dry, astringent mix of lavender (lavandin here) and patchouli create this light floral, dry, green accord. The cypress would later join the fray, adding a layer of dry wood and keeping the scent structured as the almost nose-searing initial impression dials down.

The inclusion of clove and geranium lends to its spicy nuance while cedar and sandalwood touches up on the slight woody (or in this case, woodsy) character.

Cinnamon, nutmeg and the citruses that roll with Bracken rounds everything off in creamy, warm delight and keeps the scent from becoming truly soapy – a sharp contrast to another Amouage fougère, Ciel Man.

Amouage Bracken Man in Art of Scent

Bracken Man, majestically displayed at the Art of Scent Resorts World Manila

Overall, Bracken Man is one of the oddly fresh fragrances that would come out of the brazenly incense-heavy house of Amouage. The fragrance is particularly amazing for Philippine weather as a bit of sun and heat helps improve the already amazing projection one can get from Bracken Man.

On skin, Bracken Man sticks to you for a good 7-8 hours with a strong scent cloud lasting 2-3 hours on initial application. And while Bracken Man is best suited really for day wear, it can easily transition to a casual evening fragrance.

Amouage Bracken Man 2

As always, Amouage’s packaging is impeccable! As part of the Midnight Flower collection, Bracken Man follows the boxing and bottling convention of its more summery saccharide perky brother,  Sunshine Man. Instead of a swimming pool-like  box motif, Bracken celebrates the famed fern by wrapping the wooden box in quirky Paisley patterns.

Bracken and Sunshine Man

(L) Bracken Man, (R) Sunshine Man

As always, the bottle cap is adorned with 22-k gold markings and affixed with a single verdant Swarovski Crystal. The sprayer is coated in gold and wears a magnetic stopper with the word Bracken engraved on it.

Bracken Man Sprayer

 

As a whole, Bracken Man gives the classic fougère the royal treatment it deserves. It’s a very well put-together fragrance with the simplicity of a traditional fougère mixed with a complexity that only Amouage can bring. In an age where everything that’s old is new again, Amouage stepped up to the plate and delivered a godsend.

A new standard of fougère is among us; its name is Bracken Man.

Amouage Bracken Man 1

Amouage Bracken Man is available in Art of Scent (Shangri-La Plaza, Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams) for Php 13,500.00 or roughly $270USD, a good $120USD less from its official retail price on the Amouage website.

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Ahh…February, ze love month! Month of hearts and flowers and everything that’s dainty and quaint. This is also the month where Amouage, the prolific global perfume house based in Oman, decided to launch their latest floral scent in the Philippines: the lovely Lilac Love.

If you’re new to the house and you want to get to know a little bit more about them, you can check my review of Amouage’s Interlude and Journey Man here. 

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Last Friday, Feb 3, I was privilege to be invited to the VIP selling at the Art of Scent Resorts World Manila where the multi-brand store was transformed to Amouage’s own floral garden of sorts where Lilac Love sits center-stage.

Lilac Love Amouage

The light purple offering from Amouage is the first from its Secret Garden collection. Sweet, slightly sensual and super comforting, Lilac Love is pure bliss to the olfactory senses. But before we go into that, the packaging of Lilac Love is something to take note of as well!

Amouage Lilac Love 2

As always, the presentation of Amouage is exceptional! A bit of a departure from the older releases where the wooden box is lifted from the top, Lilac Love follows the same box-type from Sunshine Collection. The bottle rests on a soft foam-like crevice for added structure and bottle safety.

Lilac Love Cap

The cap still resembles the Grand Mosque and at the tip of this white gold-plated magnetic little dome sits an amethyst-colored Swarovski crystal. Simple. Elegant. Magnificent.

Lilac Love Full Presentation

For the scent itself, Lilac Love breaks from Amouage’s usual offering – perfumes steeped in exotic oriental nuances with the enigmatic oud, smoky incense and luscious-balsamic myrrh. Lilac Love is light yet deliciously creamy!

Top notes harnesses intense floral accord with Lilac Accord, Heliotrope, Gardenia and Peony before it drops to its creamy gourmand heart. It’s interesting to note that because it is impossible to extract the scent of Lilac, Amouage had to recreate the scent artificially by masterfully combining various proprietary notes to form that nice violet flower.

Lilacs

Heart note is where things get preeetty interesting. The gourmand is played out with Tonka and Cacao mostly while the Orris (from the root of the Iris Plant) helps keep the two in check. The heart note leads beautifully to a nice powdery-sweet finish with Sandalwood, Vanilla and Patchouli (to add just a tiny bit of earthiness to the whole concoction).

Amouage Lilac Love 3

The imagery for Lilac Love feels like you’re having a dainty morning snack with sweet cakes and pastries amidst a beautiful spring floral garden. The floral and gourmand mix also makes this scent very relaxing. If you want to go the super gourmand route, the scent (especially towards the dry down) makes you feel, as silly as it sounds, like you’re sinking in a giant marshmallow bed.

Amouage Lilac Love Event Presentation

Amouage is known to create powerful and complex scents and Lilac Love is no exception. Even without thick notes of incense, oud, amber, opoponax, and musk, Lilac Love performs pretty beast-like at least for the first couple of hours. Longevity-wise I easily get more than 7 hours on this. On paper, the scent lingers for about a week before it starts to dissipate. Yes folks, 1 week.

Overall Lilac Love is a dream. While marketed towards women, guys shouldn’t be put off to try this baby out. It’s complex enough to “be” an Amouage but light enough to be inviting. I think it’s a great introductory bottle joining the ranks of Reflection, Sunshine, Dia Man and Jubilation XXV as great fragrances to get your nose started on a perfume house you can definitely fall in love with!

Lilac Love is available in all Art of Scent boutiques and costs Php 16,640 for a 100ml EDP bottle (Lilac Love retails for $440 or roughly Php 22,000 on their official website).

 

 

 

 

 

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While Pamilacan Island isn’t half as famous as Alona Beach and Dumaluan Beach, it should definitely be on your priority list when you visit Bohol.

The island is relatively small and is situated about 23 kilometers east of Balicasag. For the longest time, Pamilacanons worked as whalers and it isn’t really surprising considering that the island is home to dolphins and whales. Since 1992, however, there has been a ban on capturing these creatures. Hence, the people of the island “switched tactics” and are now very much involved in tourism and preserving the area. Today, the island is a small piece of heaven on earth.

Beach lover's heaven!

Beach lover’s heaven!

Our ride to the island

The perfect day to be out in the sun

The perfect beach weather!

Can the sky be clearer than this?

Hiding from the sun

Found shade from the sun

Pamilacan Island has something to offer that famous beaches in Bohol cannot – much needed peace and sought after quiet. Going to the island is like owning a private beach. Aside from an occasional visitor or two and the residents who are polite but usually keep to themselves, the beach is practically all yours. While this may not hold much appeal to party people, this is definitely something that the #TitosAndTitasOfManila would want.

The Coral Garden, is accessible from the island through a small, 2-seater bangka. Slather on your sunscreen because you’re going to need it. You’re off to an amazing snorkeling adventure that could last for hours!

Photo Grab from Josh Johnson

Photo grabbed from Josh Johnson

I went to Pamilacan Island from Tarsier Botanika in Tawala, Panglao. It was an hour away by motorboat. However, you can also arrange for a trip via tour groups that leave from Baclayon Pier. This usually includes whale and dolphin watching, a village tour, swimming and snorkeling. While the tour rates may be slightly more expensive than those in Alona Beach, do take note that these tours are eco-friendly and include a lengthy stop on Pamilacan beach for picnic and swimming.

Those who would like to enjoy the island a bit longer have the option of staying overnight in the basic accommodations available. Do keep in mind though that there is only electricity from 5pm to midnight.

Enjoy Bohol beyond the famous beaches, Chocolate Hills and Loboc River. Take time to visit Pamilacan Island – Bohol’s hidden gem.

me

 

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November 3 Wednesday  Night – 10pm, SM Makati

The mall floor is clearing of the usual metro day hustle with people trying to catch their last commute on the train or passing through the SM Mall towards the jeep and bus station. While the end of the work day signifies rest and relaxation for most, a throng of smartly dressed people were congregating to the wild urban jungle beats inside SM Makati’s H&M branch – like animals to a watering hole.

 

As it turns outs, that’s exactly what H&M wanted as they launch and celebrate the much awaited collection from the Kenzo X H&M collaboration.

It's a Kenzo x H&M Jungle during the VIP / Media preview party.

It’s a Kenzo x H&M Jungle during the VIP / Media preview party.

This capsule collection is the latest in the long tradition of fast-fashion retailer, H&M and their fashion house of choice for the year. This is also the 3rd year I’m exposed to the collab collections and I must say, 3rd times’ the charm.

As with the past collabs the rules of engagement are very similar. You go in, grouped in batches of 20s and you all have 10 minutes to shop the collab floor. For this year, you’re only allowed a maximum of 1 piece of a particular item during your turn. Meaning if you want to buy more than one sunglasses, you’ll need to ask a friend who’s also there with you to carry the said sunglasses and forfeiting his chance of buying one for himself. It makes everything fair and prevents people from hoarding a particular item set.

Celebrities, Personalities and Executives in full Kenzo x H&M garb

Celebrities, Personalities and Executives in full Kenzo x H&M garb

Unlike the Balmaination collaboration (Balmain x H&M) last year, the VIP private sale happened the night before the actual public launch of capsule collection. Models, celebrities and fashion personalities flocked the Makati branch and tried to get a piece from this superbly colorful and zany collection.

While waiting for their batch to be called, dancers and personalities in full Kenzo X H&M gear entertained guests. Never-ending canapés and drinks were going around and the DJ was mixing some sick retro dance sets.

Dancers entertain the crowd with their zany moves alongside 90's dance tracks

Dancers entertain the crowd with their zany moves alongside 90’s dance tracks

Guest and VIP wait for their chance to shop the collection before everyone else.

Guest and VIP wait for their chance to shop the collection before everyone else.

We got in a bit late (event started at 9PM) so we got pushed to one of the latter batches (Batch 10 or 11, I believe) and we were only able to get a couple of accessories like socks, and the men’s animal print scarf (well, not sure if it files under menswear).

Hey menswear, where you hiding at?

Hey menswear, where you hiding at?

Pretty much what we ended up with. Still, look at them purrty socks (and a really big cap in the background).

Pretty much what we ended up with. Still, look at them purrty socks (and a really big cap in the background).

This only meant one thing, *groan*, we had to line up again immediately to be able to get into one of the earlier batches during public launch day. No going home for me then, okay, fight!

November 4 Thursday Morning – 5:00am, SM Makati

With barely an hour of sleep, me and my friends pulled ourselves to go to SM Makati to line up. Unlike the past 2 years, the H&M branch at SM Makati is now a venue for the collection (previously you can only shop the collab collection at H&M SM Megamall).

We’re not sure if people were aware of this because when we lined up at 5 in the morning (very late for our standards) we miraculously got in the first batch of shoppers! I believe we were the 10th person in line. Woo-hoo!

At 9am there were hardly 20 people in line! I guess everyone flocked to SM Megamall that day. :D

At 9am there were hardly 20 people in line! I guess everyone flocked to SM Megamall that day. :D

We also got some free candies while in line

We also got some free candies while in line c/o Made in Candy

Ushers remind us of the hosue rules and what time the official shopping can begin. Previously they start letting people shop at 8am, this time it started during mall opening hours.

Previously they start letting people shop at 8am, this time around the “timed shopping” started during mall opening hours.

Even until 9am when we were finally let in SM Makati premises, the line didn’t build up as much as we thought it would compared to Balmain x H&M or the super crazy lines of Alex Wang x H&M collab last 2014. The best thing about not having a huge line after us is, if and when people on the first batch decided that they wanted more time and opportunity to shop, they can simply line up and do it all over again (which a lot of people did, fyi).

Outside the store proper

Outside the store proper

Store windows are decorated with the Kenzo x H&M prints

Store windows are decorated with the Kenzo x H&M prints

Host was rousing people up. Trust me, she didn't have to. Everyone was pumped and ready for some shopping action!

Host was rousing people up. Trust me, she didn’t have to. Everyone was pumped and ready for some shopping action!

DJ was dropping some sick beats during the entire morning

DJ was dropping some sick beats during the entire morning

The collab section is now twice the size of what it was during the VIP area and we’re now shown the full collection here.

Floor area doubled. Women's wear shown here.

Floor area doubled. Women’s wear shown here.

Accessories all on the table.

Accessories all on the table – bags, boots, sandals, socks, scarves, sunglasses and jewelry trinkets.

More amazing printed clothes on these racks

More amazing printed clothes on these racks

Moving towards the menswear. T-shirts were one of the first ones to go.

Moving towards the menswear. T-shirts were one of the first ones to go.

10 minutes and a few edits later, we were left with this. Tadaaa~

(Also, ladies and gentlemen, I’m officially broke. :p)

A close look at our haul. A couple of shirts, a cap, scarf, socks, and them ipad pouch bags

A close look at our haul. A couple of shirts, a cap, scarf, socks, and them ipad pouch bags

Forgot to mention the sunglasses and the neoprene Jacket/ Hoodie as well.

Forgot to mention the sunglasses and the neoprene Jacket/ Hoodie as well. Print on Print on Print!

Suffice to say, the Kenzo x H&M collab shopping experience ran much smoother this time around. With stocks also offered in H&M Makati, lines were easily managed and everyone (mostly) got what they wanted. Kudos to the H&M Philippine team for organizing such a smooth event, we heard things were quite more intense elsewhere. Source 1 2

In fact when we checked H&M SM Megamall last Sunday there were still a lot of wares left. Majority are for women but I was surprised to see quite a bit of menswear still on the rack.

kenzo-x-hm-megamall-sunday-2

There were a lot of women’s clothes left last weekend. Better check in fast.

The Kimono jackets still have all the sizes last Sunday. If you want to own one particular piece of iconic item, you may want to consider that. That screams high fashion! 😉

The store still had caps with varying sizes as well

The store still had caps with varying sizes as well

Caps and accessories are still in abundance

kenzo-x-hm-megamall-sunday-3

Moooaaar caps!

There were about 4 large totes still up for grabs. Even though the design mimics that of a the Kenzo paper shopping bag, this is actually a really well crafted full leather tote bag with amazing detailings. Retails for Php 10,990, I believe — but it’s huge.

kenzo-x-hm-leather-tote-bag-large

If you want something a liiittle bit more quirky, these pink tiger-striped boots might tickle your fancy.

kenzo-x-hm-pink-tiger-boots

Meow!

Or you could switch it up with this all red ensemble– sandals, long socks, sleeves, beanie and earrings.

kenzo-x-hm-red-tiger-socks-and-slippers

At the end of the day, if you haven’t had the chance to check out these one-of-a-kind collection, you kinda owe it to yourself to visit either H&M SM Megamall or H&M SM Makati before they pull everything out.

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We saw a reversible jacket tucked behind the leather jacket racks at SM Megamall. Last check was size M. ;)

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Wear a plain long coat over the green onesie to diffuse the predominantly green look.

C’mon, unleash your wild side. Welcome to the Kenzo x H&M urban jungle.

 

 

 

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For some people, perfume (or the act of putting on perfume) is all about smelling good and attracting the desired partner (ala Axe effect), or maybe they appreciate the subtle luxury that a bottle of Eau de Toilette can hold, but for Hershee Izell, fellow fraghead and fragrance enthusiasts, perfumes are a way of holding on to lasting memories. In a way, this is why she went through the laborious task of creating an original line, aptly named Cherish.

cherish-campaign2

We caught up with Ms. Izell and asked her a few questions:

 

UNPACKED (UN): First of all congratulations on this endeavor. Was it nerve-racking?

HERSHEE IZELL (HI): Thanks! Yes, it was!!!

UN: What inspired you to create Cherish? Why perfume? 

HI: First of all, I created Cherish for my mom because I miss her since she is away from us and I wanted to associate a sentiment that would remind me of her whenever I use it. Perfume, I believe, is the best medium to do that since perfumes triggers long-term memories.

I also like the sophistication of perfumes. I create other items that are geared towards ladies like gift cards and soaps but perfume, for me, is just luxuriously gorgeous and it can help express my personality better.

UN: Have you always had an affinity towards perfume and scents? Tell us your favorite perfume (besides Cherish, of course). Do you have a particularly favorite note? 

HI: When I was a kid, I like putting cologne and scented powder, –Angel’s Breath, to be particular.  I also love the small scented gel-thingie  called ‘kisses’ and keep them in my pencil case until I was in highschool. I was using Johnson’s Powder Fresh and Angel’s Breath cologne up until high school. I like smelling fresh and clean!

When college hit, for some reason, I literally cannot stand fragrances all of a sudden. At that time, fragrance would just trigger my migraine. So I was scentless (and tried to be) for quite some time during those days. Maybe it was fatigue since I wasn’t as learned as I am now but it was only until my friend pulled me to different stores and outlets that my love for perfume resurfaced as I discovered there are so many beautiful perfumes!

One of my all-time favorite is Paris Hilton’s Heiress! This is an instant head-turner for guys. (To me at least) Heiress is alluring and sexy — something new that I discovered scents could do. So that pulled me deeper into exploring other fragrances.

My favorite notes would be Patchouli and Vanilla — both work amazingly well together–and some florals like Rose and Ylang Ylang. They are so relaxing and (sometimes) can give a romantic vibe.

UN: When creating a perfume, especially for a wider audience, are there any special considerations you took into account? Did you have to temper what you originally wanted so that a wider audience could appreciate the final product?

HI: Oh, definitely! Aside from my personal preference with the notes, I would ask close friends and colleagues their take and which among the sample scents are appealing and most interesting to them. The ones that have the highest vote would be taken into consideration before talking to the manufacturer and producing them in their actual sizes. Bottling and packaging is the same way.

For the overall composition, I first think about the character of the user and what may work with them…for Cherish I envisioned a very dainty feminine character. There’s boldness but there’s also innocence. Cherish is a fruity-woody scent with notes of tangerine and mango and vanilla in the opening. So there’s sweetness there before it settles on the boldness of ambergris and the subtle woody characteristics of cashmere wood. To add a unique feminine quality to the scent I had Iris added in as a “mystery” or special note.

UN: Most people feel that local perfumes would use cheaper perfume oils and ingredients. What’s your take on this and where did you source your ingredients?

HI: It doesn’t really matter whether a perfume is local or foreign. Quality is quality and that’s something that I discovered while going through this journey. I believe there are many sources of good oils here in the Philippines, I know that we’re one of the world’s source for elemi, but considering cost and sophistication in technology, I decided to source my ingredients in Europe: Germany to be specific. So, unlike other local boutique fragrances, Cherish is specially crafted, mixed and bottled in Germany. It’s a bit more challenging (due to higher custom fees and constant international communication) but the quality that you get is unparalleled!

UN: Will we see more creations from you in the future? A men’s line, perhaps?

HI: Yes, surely… I am looking forward in creating a perfume line for men. Maybe it would contain patchouli, one of my favorite notes, who knows? I’d love to work on a unisex scent, too, just to broaden people’s perspective of perfume.  Something that’s a bit stronger for the usual woman market but a comes off a bit lighter for men’s. That would interesting, no?

We got our hands on a full bottle and will be sharing with you our thoughts and impressions soon. Cherish will be available starting tomorrow (September 10, 2016) at www.ladiesthingsbyhersheeizell.com for Php 3195. According to Hershee, she’s still working on collaborating with other retail shops and distribution networks here in the Philippines and hopefully (if the perfume becomes a success) could open it up to world-wide audience.

 

 

 

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Free Venque Bag

Yup, you read that right! For a minimum purchase of 10,000 pesos worth of items you can walk away from Urban Traveller & Co with an extra bag at hand. And not just any old promo bag, it’s a Venque bag.

Venque Bag2

We’ve actually reviewed this and even brought it with us on our Bali trip late last year. It survived the wind, wave and sun of that Indonesian Beach Paradise (and in such stylish fashion, at that) and we’re pretty surprised that Urban Traveller & Co. decided to include this as the freebie to their promo (that’s Php 3,000 worth of savings right there – and an amazing bag to boot).

So what can you buy with your hard-earned Php 10,000 in Urban Traveller & Co.? We’ll we’ve compiled a short list of amazing finds for you to check out and (maybe) consider.

Bellroy iPhone 6s Case

Bellroy iPhone 6s Cases

On the surface, the Bellroy iPhone 6s Case doesn’t seem to look different from the gajillion of smartphone cases in the market. It’s only upon closer inspection that you begin to see and appreciate the space-saving genius behind this contraption.

Aside from keeping your uber cool smartphone safe and secure, the Bellory iPhone 6s Case also doubles as a mini wallet of sorts – where you can keep your essentials if you want to travel light and not carry too much things on you.

Bellroy iPhone 6s Cases 2

The case in itself is made with eco-friendly materials as well. Our sister site, Unbox.ph made a video review on this as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwTAJ78QhRA

The Bellroy iPhone 6s Case retails for Php 2450 to Php 4,500

Shop the collection: https://www.urbantravellerco.com/collections/phone-accessories

Key|Smart

KeySmart2

KeySmart is a nifty little gadget that organizes your keys like a Swiss Army Knife. No more bulk in your pant pockets and that annoying metal jiggling sounds with KeySmart.

The great thing about KeySmart is that it can augment itself with other important gadgets like car keys, USBs and other accessories to fit your need.

Fully customizable, you can also extend the number of keys that can fit in your KeySmart up to 100 keys! (Well, but we don’t really recommend it :p )

The KeySmart Key Organizer retails for Php 1,399

Shop the collection: https://www.urbantravellerco.com/collections/keysmart

 

Gnome & Bow Milton Cross Body Clutch

Gnome Bow1

We’ve actually highlighted Gnome & Bow before but we can’t stress enough how awesome the design philosophy behind this is. For this article, we’re looking more into the Gnome & Bow Milton Cross Body Clutch. Gorgeously created to fit an iPad and other small peripherals, the G&B Mitlon Cross Body Clutch embodies the Jekyll and Hyde design that we grew to love with this brand.

Gnome Bow2

On one side, the clean & crisp lustrous nylon embodies the cool and collected Dr. Jekyll while the other side hides a printed canvass cover for the always unconventional Mr. Hyde.

The Gnome & Bow Milton Cross Body Clutch retails for Php 7,500

Shop the collection: https://www.urbantravellerco.com/collections/gnome-bow

And there you have it, 4 easy picks for the mobile traveler – and all can be conveniently stored on your free Venque bag. 😉  Promo is from Aug 1 to 31 only!

For more  nifty bags and organizing tools, head over to www.urbantravellerco.com and check their wares or you can visit their physical store at R2 Level, Archeology Wing, Power Plant Mall (near National Bookstore).

Happy shopping, peeps!

 

 

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