Saturday, November 10, 2018

Three Days in Marrakesh, Morocco

Colorful attire of performers in Chez Ali
I spent three solid days in Marrakesh in 2018 and it will always be unforgettable. The rest of the other days were spent on plane travelling with two transit flights - Dubai and Casablanca - before finally setting foot at the famous travel destination in Africa, Marrakesh.

Dry land just near the hotel where I stayed
I missed a lot of nice places in Marrakesh because there was no time to explore further away from my hotel. I was focused at a work-related activity then. Nevertheless, even if I just had a sojourn, I will always treasure the experience and share that Marrakesh is artistically beautiful and literally beautiful - with its beautiful people.

When in Morocco, one can have a Sahara dessert tour. Even outside our hotel, a dry land is just nearby, giving one a little glimpse of what Saraha looks like. Should I be back there, I would be glad to have a tour on the dessert.

Entrance to Chez Ali
Amid very cold weather, we were eager to watch the performance
There are more horses in the performance
We were ushered to a place called Chez Ali in one of the cultural activities by the host nation. I enjoyed the gunpowder show where horse riders give performance together with a huge number of performers. One will be stunned with a sounds of the gunpowder being fired but one should not miss the action. Despite very cold weather, tourists patiently wait for the performance.

Marrakesh is known for palaces, gardens and mosques. I missed to visit those historical and famous sites. However, even if I just stayed in the hotel, I was amazed by the artistry everywhere I go. Just take a look at these pieces of art. These are colorful center table and side cabinet and imagine the artistry spent to create the masterpiece.

Center table

Side cabinet
Of course, there will always be a garden everywhere. The pathways are well maintained and crafted to have the gardens neat. I wish I would have visited the medina and historical gardens but I did not have time for personal tours outside the area. 

Morocco is known for a mix of influences of the world from Europe to Africa to Arabic. That makes it very interesting for me. I walked around the nearby street, it is named Mohammed VI Avenue. The pedestrian walkways are three parts - on both sides of the road and in the middle. I had a very nice experience which I can say a very different from the Philippines. I had several streets crosses and noticed that as I approached the pedestrian lane, the cars start to stop and let me go even giving me a hand signal to cross. Is that difficult to do in the Philippines? 

Marrakesh is a bike-friendly place. There are bike parking spaces and bike lanes. Even in rotonda, there are bike parking slots. There is more space for people than for cars. I have not yet figured out how EDSA will be as bike-friendly as this - maybe never.

Of course, when one is in Morocco, it is a must not to forget to bring home a Moroccan argan oil. I have known that argan tree only grows in Morocco. The tree gives the world-famous argan oil, a main ingredient in most premium beauty products. The range of products are available in the nearby Menara Mall, just connected to the hotel where I stayed. Aside from argan oil, herbs and spices, to which also Morocco is known for, are available as well. 

Range of products with Moroccan argan oil

Beauty products with Moroccan argan oil
From my three days in the historic and beautiful Marrakesh, I will always treasure the experience because I may never be able to go back there. In one of my visits to a Philippine museum, Museo ng Katipunan, I even learned that there were about one or two Filipinos who were exiled in Morocco during Spanish colonization. Maybe one day, Philippine historians can find out what happened to those Filipino revolutionists in Morroco. My brother even shared that Morocco is in his travel bucket because he was able to read one of the flyers about Morocco that I requested from the embassy when I was still in high school.

My big thanks to an international organization for bringing me to Marrakesh and to my boss for recommending me to be in Morocco. I was a bit anxious travelling alone that far but I made it. By the way, I stayed at Savoy Le Grand Hotel.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Destileria Limtuaco Museum

One of the must-do lists when you visit California in the USA is a trip to Napa Valley, where they grow grapes and make the best of their wines. In the Philippines, while we may not have Napa Valley, we have an array of tropical fruits and local raw materials to produce a world-class line of liqueur.

A former family museum, the Destileria Limtuaco Museum, is now open to the public.
The Destileria Limtuaco Museum opened its doors to the public in February 2018 despite the museum has been there as a private museum for the family. In 1979, Julius Limpe acquired the ancestral bahay na bato (house made of rock) to "enshrine the Destileria Limtuaco Museum."

I only knew before about Siok Tong, or Siok Hoc Tong wine, 
whenever I hear the brand Destileria Limtuaco.

The museum tells story of the "oldest distillery in continuous operation in the Philippines which was established by Bonifacio Lim Tua Co in Binondo, Manila in 1852, the Destileria Limtuaco & Co. Inc. It introduced and popularized the Chinese medicinal wine known as Siok Hoc Tong or Sioktong." At present the company itself is located in Grace Park, Caloocan City since 1956 while the company's museum is located in Manila City.

The museum showcases how the oldest distillery in the Philippines, the Destileria Limtuaco & Co. Inc. moved from the past and what it is now in the present. The facade of the museum is obviously of Spanish house while its entrance is a Chinese figure. Outside is a diorama of how cracking sugarcane was done with a tied carabao (water buffalo) doing the chore. It displays how it was before.

So as its flyer says, the museum has various photos, personal effects, iconic videos, array of printed materials from the past, objects of bygone eras, artisanal flavors, herbs and spirits, bottles, the red bikini among others that made the existence of Destileria since 1852.

When I was a kid, I saw those bikini-clad models in calenders of White Castle, somewhat, a Parental Guidance for us. Now, those mementos of the red bikinis are inside the museum and the White Castle whiskey as a brand has made a mark on us. The museum is divided into 12 sections, such as:

First Floor
A. The Gallery
B. A Matter of Taste
  1. How It Was Before
  2. Our Roots
  3. Our Mini-Distillery
  4. Our Process of Making Rum
  5. Our Process of Making Whiskey
  6. Ageing Matters
  7. Signed..Sealed..Delivered
  8. Home is Where the Heart Is
  9. Remember This
  10. So They Say
Second Floor
C. Best Foot Forward
D. Mark It.. Market
     11. Generational Vibe
     12. Product of Evolution
     13. And the Award Goes To

The most memorable part to me was the premium tasting. At an entrance fee of P200 pesos, (about 4 dollars only), I can taste their liqueur in the market. A total of four tastes was at hand. Much as I wanted to taste more, I was amazed that they are harnessing the Filipino tropical produce such as dalandan, manggo, coffee, sugarcane, dragon fruit, etc. I was delighted as well to see a brand of liqueur, Imeldifique. I inquired how they came to give that name, I learned that Imee Marcos came to the present generation of master blender on how the Destileria can help their farmers in Ilocos. They end up with a product named Imeldifique, after Imelda Marcos and getting raw materials from Ilocos. They also have the basi product and dragon fruit wine.

I left the museum happy that I bought with me 10 small bottles of wine. The company boasts of its export of wines made from tropical fruits like the one with mango flavor. Anyway, I can just order in big bottles online. If I was not commuting, I should have ordered the bigger ones. So nice to be given as pasalubong for relatives abroad or when going abroad. One of Destileria's line of products available for orders is called Philippine Craft Spirits and there are more products aside from this craft spirits.

The Philippine Craft Spirits:
  1. Amadeo Coffee Liqueur - a delicious infusion of fresh Philippine roasted coffee beans and the finest rum. It boasts of being one of a kind, no extra added flavor and color.
  2. Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur - the only liqueur made from sun-ripened Philippine mangoes.
  3. Very Old Captain Artisan-Crafted Dark Rum - barrel-aged in seasoned oak to perfect ripeness. 
  4. Liqueur de Calamansi - one of the Manille Liqueur Collection, made from calamansi.
  5. Liqueur de Dalandan - also one of the Manille Liqueur Collection, made from dalandan.
  6. Intramuros Liqueur de Cacao - an all-natural product using 100% roasted cacao.
  7. San Juan Lambanog - a traditional Philippine distilled spirit made from coconut.
  8. Dragon Fire Dragon Fruit Wine - fermented wine made with the meat of 100% red dragon fruit endemic to Ilocos Norte.
  9. Vigan Basi Philippine Sugarcane Wine - a premium cane wine made with sugarcane juice pressed from the best of Philippine Cane.
  10. Imeldifique Cooking Wine - made with sorghum spirit and enhanced natural Philippine onion and native garlic.
Moreover, there are souvenirs that can be bought inside the museum aside from wine. These include t-shirts, coffee mugs and note pads to name a few.

The museum services can be improved through, I think, the following ways:
First is when they can have a service for Order Now and We Deliver Later. If I want to buy right there and then inside the museum, I can pay my order and I can have it delivered at an address I want anywhere in the Philippines.

Second, in wine tasting, while the wines' raw materials come from the Philippines, it will be better to have something to pair the wine with that also comes from the Philippines. The Castello de Amorosa in Napa Valley offers bread sticks and chocolate; perhaps the Destileria can offer something Filipino. Why not peanuts, cashew or an artisanal chocolate like Theo and Filo or something coming from Cebu or Davao?

The Destileria Limtuaco Museum is located at 482 San Juan de Letran St., Intramuros, Manila.
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday; 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Entrance rates: Senior/student - P50; Adult - P100; Premium with wine tasting - P200 for adults only

For orders, visit:

They also partner with Convoy Marketing Corporation for orders and delivery:
Tel. No. (02) 361-4342; (02) 361-5161