Monthly Archives: September 2012

Kyoto’s Nishiki

If you want to know more about the culture and people of a foreign destination, go to its main market.  That’s where you’d continue your education after a day at the museum.  It’s a taste of real, everyday life – including the quaint and the bizarre.  In Kyoto, it’s the Nishiki Market.

I didn’t know about Nishiki when I arrived in Kyoto last winter.  My friend Dennis just chanced upon it while on a bike tour through the lovely streets of Kyoto (I missed the tour; they said it was the best way to explore the city).  I thought it was just another tiangge.  It wasn’t.  It turned out to be a Disneyland for people whose love for apparel and footwear is at par with pickled food and fresh produce.  Think Quiapo and Divisoria.  It’s as massive but cleaner and nicer-smelling.  Plus, there’s no shoving and shouting, because that’s really the Japanese way.

Everything’s in Nishiki: fresh catch, teriyaki grilled salmon, preserved fish, golden omelettes, tea, mushrooms, china, utensils, knives, geta (sandals), canes, umbrellas, Pachinko parlors, moviehouses, pet cafés, Quickly, restos, rare Nikes, Vuittons, weird KitKats, origami, ice cream in winter, art, old Japanese prints, temples, a cemetery, and a rare Japanese display of affection.  Nishiki makes Kyoto even more wonderful.

Letters from digital nomads

You know what’s worse than taking a 16-hour flight, on economy, in an American airline?  Not taking any flight at all.  For months now, I haven’t been able to do the one thing that I love – write for the Star’s travel section. The farthest I had gone from Makati since was Nasugbu.  Obviously, we have a dearth of material there.   It’ll take a little more a month before I could write about the next adventure.

So I find my poor homebound self  planning, unnecessarily, that trip in October (and I hate planning).    And reading mail from readers that still trickle in.   Thanks to the Star’s online edition, my pieces are still Google-able.

The response has been generally kind and uncontroversial.  A few have offered to sponsor ‘fam’ tours outside the country.  But work has gotten in the way.  The most interesting invite was from a resort in Balayan Batangas, of the famous ‘parada ng lechon’.  I had to turn it down because the pigs weren’t due for slaughtering.

Most of the emails had one thing in common – the reader’s intention to take the trip, to Tokyo, Kyoto, New York or Hong Kong’s obscure culinary destinations.  They’d start with that.  I’ve been wanting to fly to wherever.Or, something like, Thanks for rekindling my dream of going there.

I doubt if they’d ever take that trip.

In an ideal world, they’d want to visit all the five boroughs of New York, end up in Grimaldi’s to sample the supposed best pizza in the world.  Or see the sakura in full bloom in Nara.  But they won’t.  Because they can’t.  Because they haven’t got time.

You’re only as busy as you’d like yourself to be.  Work mustn’t define you. The world must be your cubicle.  Idleness is health.  You can travel alone. Save up.  A dying friend ruefully told me a few weeks before his death that he’d never get to see Paris.  I’ve been traveling on his behalf since.

But if you really can’t get out of your smaller cubicle, I promise to try to transport you those places.  It sounds like an indulgent advocacy, but it makes me and some readers happy.  That’s all that matters.

From Lepanto to Sabio

It’s been almost a year since we moved from the CBD to the ‘burbs.  For 25 years, our agency held office in three locations, all within Salcedo Village, Makati.   We thought no other place in Makati could be as accessible and comfortable as Salcedo.  ATMs, Starbucks, Paseo Center restos, Office Warehouse, Jollyjeeps, Bugong’s roast chicken, Galleon’s dimsum, Army-Navy burgers, Goldilocks cakes, a pharmacy, Bugsy’s Bar, 7/11s, Ayala Triangle, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, and all the distractions that admen need to keep the creative juice flowing, were all within reach.  Before we left our Lepanto office, I had just moved into to my flat which was a few blocks away.  So some of us packed our stuff quite unexcitably last year.

But we were challenged to adapt to a new way of thinking about workspace.  We knew that the way we worked had changed.   Enough of inefficient space, high partitions, segregated enclose offices, ineffective storage.   The space had to be simplified, more flexible and free-flowing.  We had to break down boundaries and hierarchical layouts.  We had to promote the “we”, not the “I”.

Work was evolving.   We saw more teamworking, business embracing sustainability, economies diverging.  The most significant changes:  an unconventional space – a warehouse – that would be more cost-efficient and inspire creativity; and an ‘open’ plan.  No enclosed workspace except the CEO’s.

This is how the office looked before the big move.  We tapped the services of architect Leah Sanchez and contractor RG Roa.

A year hence, here’s the office we’ve come to love.  Our happiness has translated to improved productivity and efficiency.   It’s worth junking Bugong’s chicken for.

Pics by Henson Wongaiham:


the Big Ass Fan

the Cube juts out of the mezzanine


lots of parking and all for free!