Category Archives: The Tippi Point

From West to East

Over the span of more than a few days, and with the help of our unlimited transportation passes, Ito and I criss-crossed our way through and around Berlin. In our neighborhood, we visited the inspiring Museum für Fotografie, Helmut Newton’s museum, which happened to be just a few stops from our area in Ku’Damm, known as Berlin’s Champs Élysées. We browsed and ate at KaDeWe (the city’s premier department store with the craziest gourmet food floor) and hung out more than once in Bikini Berlin (the hippest design concept mall overlooking the Berlin Zoo).

Exploring further down, we visited the haunting Jewish Memorial and walked around the historic Potsdamer Platz down to Checkpoint Charlie, which marked the infamous divide between the former West and East Berlin. We wandered the vast green spaces in Tiergarten (which is bigger than Central Park!) and enjoyed the beer gardens, relaxed to the live classical music that played by the Konzerthaus, and enjoyed the beautiful grounds of the Kulturforum and Museuminsel.

We also took to stepping off in unfamiliar stops and visiting neighborhoods said to be the stomping ground of the more creative, non-traditional types. In the areas surrounding Kreuzberg were many pop up galleries, open air markets, underground bars, and industrial-turned-conceptual spaces that were continuously evolving (sometimes on a daily basis). On our way to crossing the Spree River and visiting the former East Berlin, we even stumbled on a veritable ‘institution’, Bürgermeister (the best burgers in Berlin!), housed in a former public toilet under an overhead railway track. Go figure!

On our last night in Berlin, we discovered that the days had gone by way too quickly–but it’s a good thing one of the joys of traveling is planning the return!

IMG_5681Enjoying the cultural and historical sights in the Kulturforum

DSC_0306In Potsdamer Platz, the hi-tech Sony Center guards a relic of the past–the Kaisersaal (Imperial Room) encased in glass

DSC_0432The city has numerous picturesque, tree-lined canals, in addition to the beautiful wide open spaces of Tiergarten

DSC_0550Trees all aflame in the areas surrounding the Reichtag building

L1140836A sunny picnic by a medieval church in an open air organic market in the cool neighborhood of  Kreuzberg

DSC_0591Delicious brunch followed by a walk through the galleries in Moritzplatz, Berlin’s hub of creative cool

DSC_0596Fresh vegetables, rustic bread and a killer chorizo omelette  served on a slate slab

DSC_0595The best fresh blueberry pancakes topped with glazed peaches and smoked bacon

L1140820An interesting assortment of antique door handles at a weekend flea market

DSC_0477Kids in full swing at a lively outdoor street fair

L1140894The Oberbaum Bridge spans the Spree River between the former West & East Berlin

L1140897The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km long open air gallery featuring artworks by various artists painted on the Berlin Wall

L1140849This bridge is a historical landmark built in 1896 that now signifies the reunification

L1140841Taking a break by one of the hundreds of murals lining the Wall

L1140953A train speeds by and a full moon looks down over Berlin

*Photos by Ito

Big, Bold & Brimming Over

Sometimes a place completely defies our expectations and just takes us by surprise. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when Ito suggested we visit Berlin–subconsciously I expected huge blocks of impenetrable, imposing monuments, I suppose. Instead, what we discovered was a city that was exciting, creative, distinctive and bodaciously flavorable, much like a highly addictive brew.

It’s a sprawling city, and between East and West Berlin lay a wealth of history, culture, and probably some of the most vibrantly creative neighborhoods around. From our ‘home’ base on the lovely & leafy Kurfürstendamm (or Ku’damm), to the painfully historic areas in Potsdam, to the culturally rich surroundings of Mitte, to the wonderfully hip and happening neighborhoods in Kreuzberg, we spent 10 days just scratching the surface of a city that is exciting despite, or maybe because of, its flaws–taking us along for the ride as it comes to terms with its past and boldly creates its future.

*Photos from our first few days…

L1130438Berlin’s main station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof…

L1150099…is where the party started!

L1140726One of my favorite sculptures were of these fräuleins and a young herr by the banks of the Spree River

L1140655The beautifully historic Berlin Cathedral

IMG_6006Taking a break from exploring the impressive Museuminsel (Museum Island)

L1130373Enjoying the stretch of festivities beyond the Brandenburg gate

DSC_0482Glorious weather and an entire stretch of delicious food, flowing beer and cool, live music

DSC_0281Berlin boasts a wealth of architectural styles from Classical, to Modern…

DSC_0300…to Renaissance/Baroque

IMG_5987The leaves of the trees lining the parks had mostly turned a fiery hue

IMG_6031Stumbling upon a flea market filled with gorgeous antiques

     L1150024Versace is not the only one with a Medusa medallion

L1130492Finding the amazing work of Frank Gehry, not outside, but inside a building

**Photos by Ito

Day Trippin’

I don’t know what it was about the air in Amsterdam’s famous Canal District that made everything seem so…um, inspiring ;-) Or maybe it was the coffee?

L1140418Arrived through Amsterdam Centraal, a Gothic/Renaissance Revival station built in the 1800′s

IMG_5634Keith Richards looked on approvingly as we took a break for coffee…

IMG_5636…people watched…

IMG_20140930_013144…and uploaded some pics on Instagram!

L1140426Wandered past the square of the Paleis op de Dam

L1140415…and into the winding paths of this Unesco world heritage district where we enjoyed some seriously delicious food

L1140422I wondered if I could take these through customs??

L1140437Would have made the perfect addition to any ‘herb’ garden…

L1140427These world famous waterways were the perfect venue for bar hopping!

L1140419A tourist admired the classic features of Venus in the infamous Red Light District, LOL!

L1140449What’s in a day? Quite a bit when you’re tripping your way through Amsterdam’s laid back canals :-)

One Thing Leads to Another

The best thing about exploring new places is that one is technically never lost, simply because every turn is an exciting find :-) Oftentimes in discovering a place (in this case, Antwerp) we would be led down one street, and the next, and the next, by nothing more than a sense of wonder and an insatiable curiosity. And it’s usually started off by seeing something small but interesting…

DSC_0249…like a lamp post overflowing with pretty flowers. Which led us down a street in the Old Town…

DSC_0258…into a Palace on the Meir where we found some deliciously irreverent chocolates at The Chocolate Line…

L1140358…before heading into the direction of a side street lined with antique shops that ended in a weekend flea market…

L1140302…that eventually popped us out onto the beautiful medieval square of the Grote Markt…

L1140331…then led us around a side street of Antwerp Cathedral to find this charming brass sculpture of men building the cathedral…

L1140323…then down another street to pop into a store of hand made Belgian lace…

DSC_0251…before coming across a colorful and eye-catching driveway…

L1140356…that turned out to be the home of an artist who had opened his gallery for viewing…

L1140388…which took us down to the cellar and out to a space filled with amazing paintings…

L1140392…then back out on the street. Don’t you find that it’s always exciting to find out what lies just around the corner?

*Photos by Tippi & Ito

MoMu (& Me)

One of the places on my ‘must-visit’ list in Antwerp was the ModeMuseum (MoMu), or Fashion Museum, home to the collections of my favorite Belgian designers and the center for some of the best–in my opinion–contemporary couture. The museum itself, much like Antwerp, was not that big, but the fashion design concepts it holds and the impact of Belgian designers (and the early, famed, Antwerp Six) in the world of fashion has been nothing short of enormous.

While we were there I was lucky enough to catch the “MoMu Now” exhibit which put on display pieces from some of Belgium’s best (Raf Simons, Anne Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, my early favorite, Olivier Theyskens & many more) grouped by theme instead of by designer. Seen this way, it was evident that the collective fashion design aesthetic really mirrored the city of Antwerp itself, from its romantic utilitarianism to its refined deconstruction and love of art & industry. It reminded me that the best of contemporary fashion is not about blindly following global trends, but also about infusing design with its relevant environment and with modern function.

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*Photos by Ito

On the Design Track

A lot of memorable things have happened in the couple of months since I last wrote, and today being a stormy day at home makes it the perfect day for a new blog post :-) In time for my birthday last October, Ito and I took a Eurail trip through Belgium and Germany (with a day trip to Amsterdam thrown in for good measure), to discover a side of Europe we hadn’t visited before. One of our travel idiosyncrasies as a couple has been a long standing fascination with train stations, mainly because we don’t have many (any?) in Manila.

The first leg of our trip was a few days in design-savvy Antwerp–after flying in to Brussels it was a quick train ride from the airport to the Antwerp Central Station, one of the most impressive train stations in the world. The domed building seemed more like an elaborate cathedral than a station, with ornate, lacy grillwork and gilded accents that made me want to design a dress in its honor! Visually captivating on many levels (literally and figuratively), this station reminded me that ethereal form and hard-working function are not mutually exclusive and are, in fact, something to strive for in our designs.

L1140409Looking at it, it’s no wonder it’s known as the ‘Railway Cathedral’

L1140459Natural light and gorgeous industrial details

L1140460Domed roof, vaulted ceilings…

L1140466…and well designed efficiency

L1140470A beautiful station makes commuting a pleasure

L1140473Impromptu portrait thanks to the station’s dramatic lighting!

L1140288Where form and function, classicism and modernism, all meet

The Productivity of Idle Time

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I’ve recently discovered the immense benefits of claiming some major down time for oneself. When things get a little crazy (as they often do these days), I realize that all it takes is a step back for things to find their natural flow again. Saying ‘no’ to certain things has allowed a spaciousness back into my life. Having time to doodle…and read…and journal…and daydream…without the frenzied pace that has ominously crept into our daily existence, has put unnecessary stress in the back seat and has let playfulness and creativity take the lead once more. Oftentimes the best ideas come in when we’re doing nothing at all :-)

Work (Forever) In Progress

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Busy on a myriad of fashion design, home and life-in-general projects the past week, I realized that for everything we accomplish, another new thing is just waiting in the wings to be started. It’s a never ending process of discovering, creating, learning and growing–the cycle goes on and on. We are all, forever, just a work in progress.

This goes so much against the concept of the bottom line, deadlines and the finiteness of a job done, and speaks to our deeper calling and life’s purpose which in essence is simply to experience the world and continually contribute back to it by sharing ourselves through our designs, photography, art, music, food, literature, etc. That way, while we are a work in progress, our work is for progress too.

What do you think about it? Is work just a means to an end, or something that can be never endingly progressive?

Designed for Travel

A couple of years ago, as travel got cheaper (Yay! More impromptu adventures!) and weight restrictions got more limited (Boo! Less clothes & shoes to bring!), Ito and I began shopping around for lightweight polycarbonate suitcases to replace the indestructible, but HEAVY, oyster suitcases that we had. We eventually got swayed to the Zero Halliburton polycarbonate suitcases which looked good and had a lifetime (limited) warranty. We made our purchases at The Travel Club in Powerplant Mall, and a few weeks later left on a trip, hopping from Manila to Singapore, and a few days later to Cambodia, before heading the same way home after a few days in Siem Reap. After our trip, I noticed a crack in the corner of my suitcase–I immediately took it back to The Travel Club and explained that I had bought the case recently and only noticed the crack back in Manila. They accepted my suitcase, and within the week had replaced it with a brand new one :-) Talk about great after sales service!

Fast forward to three years (and numerous long-haul and short trips, both local and foreign) later, my three-year old crimson case–which had held up beautifully–took a non-stop trip from Manila to London and arrived in Heathrow looking like it had been trampled on by elephants. It was all scratched up, the zipper looked distorted, and it had cracked in the corner (numerous ‘Fragile’ stickers notwithstanding). By this time I knew well enough to immediately make a report at the airport, which I did. Thankfully we were spending the entire two weeks in London and not traveling around Europe, so I didn’t worry about the crack worsening during the course of our stay.

damaged luggage

When we arrived back in Manila, I followed up the the report made in Heathrow with the airline’s baggage handling service in NAIA T2 and went home. While the representative I corresponded with was quick to respond, I rejected their initial offer since it wasn’t enough for a replacement. I decided to take my suitcase back to The Travel Club to see if they could assist me in any way since my suitcase was still under the lifetime ‘limited’ warranty (in the meantime, Ito’s Zero Halliburton suitcase continues to hold up just fine). At the same time, I also filed a claim with my travel insurance.

Initially, The Travel Club tried helping by issuing a certificate indicating the suitcase’s retail cost (around 5 times the initial compensation offer) and stating that it was beyond repair, but it soon became apparent that the airline would not be covering the full cost of a replacement suitcase. I was beginning to feel resigned to the whole thing and was going to charge it to unfortunate travel experience, when I received an email from The Travel Club (Primer Group).

Instead of repairing or exchanging my battered suitcase, they were offering me a spanking new ‘polycarbonate perfected’ suitcase of the same size (in the color of my choice) from their newest Briggs & Riley Torq collection. Best of all, it came with the ULTIMATE no-questions-asked-airline-mishandling-included lifetime warranty! You can imagine my relief at the thought of never having to go through this baggage-mishandling ordeal again!!

When Ito and I went to Powerplant, we met with the very gracious Ms. Joni Lim, Assistant Vice President of The Travel Club, and Ms. Renee Ngo, Brand Associate for Briggs & Riley, who took us out to a delicious lunch before handing over my handsome new adventure partner (well, other than Ito, hehe ;-) ). I’m thrilled and can’t wait for our next trip! Thank you, The Travel Club, for consistently offering your customers such amazing, personalized service!

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photo(26)My new travel partner–I chose a cool granite over crimson this time around :-)

photo(27)This suitcase is designed to look good while hitting the open skies (or sitting on a flower bed ;-) )

*As of this writing, the airline had doubled its initial compensation offer (which I accepted, for the hassle & aggravation) and my travel insurance also coughed up an additional minimum compensation. All’s well that ends well (although I am actually still waiting to receive both).

**(Suit)case closed–two & a half months after the report, I finally received the airline’s cash compensation of US$200 as well as my travel insurance’s maximum cash compensation of P8,167.17 (or US$192.26) for a total amount that was closer to my damaged suitcase’s retail cost. A happy ending to this travel tale! :-)

Raw Beauty

Un-manicured, un-styled, unfettered…and beautiful. The wonder of nature is in its ability to take our breath away, without any art-directing help from us. From the moment we began our descent over Camiguin, the lush greeness (is that even a word??) of the volcanic island seemed almost filtered and unnatural. Even the air smelled sweet & green! Ito’s and my early morning arrival at the intimate and barefoot-chic Somewhere Else Boutique Resort was punctuated with bird calls and butterflies fluttering through our open-air patio.

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photo(22)Over the next few days, with hand-drawn maps from Jerome (the quirky & funny French resort owner), we drove around and explored the second smallest island in the Philippines, managing to circle it in a day. We puttered around its coastal highway with stunning sea views, sometimes stopping to check out a giant clam sanctuary and photograph a romantically crumbly old church, other times cooling down in a waterfall lagoon and taking a dip in a pool of soda spring water.L1140160

L1140108We also took a banca ride and spent a day in picturesque nature-reserve, Mantique Island, where the coral gardens and snorkeling in the marine sanctuary were fantastic (I even had uni served to me picked up straight from the sea)! Of course it was expected that the seafood in Camiguin would be extremely fresh, and I gorged on everything from clam soup, to grilled fish, to garlic prawn pasta, to hand-tossed Napolitana pizza all from restaurants close to our resort. Did I mention I have a weakness for seafood??DSC_0079

DSC_0099To cap of our trip, we spent our last afternoon strolling the stunning stretch of powdery white sand on White Island, catching the sunset, and watching the sea and sky melt together into a watercolor-washed pastel-hued painting. It certainly didn’t take a village to get the island of Camiguin looking picture-perfect!DSC_0120

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*Photos by Ito

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