|Raya at Paray le Monial, France 2009|
And for the first Fab Travelers feature, I thought no one can be more fitting than the gorgeous and consummate world traveler Raya Mananquil, who’s a model, TV host, writer, and spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
List the countries where you’ve traveled.
Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.
Most countries that I have visited are quite spectacular for their own reasons. But if I really had to choose, I would have to say Spain, specifically Barcelona. You’re surrounded by the hippest youngsters from sartorially street to polished; the most creative buskers, whether frozen as human statues or dynamic in aerial acrobatics; architecture by Gaudi are speckled throughout the city; beaches that are within walking distance; the huge arts movement, from the celebrated works of their own beloved Dali to worldwide contemporary art; and a music scene that embraces both Euro-electronica and homegrown traditional love songs.
Name one place in the Philippines that you still haven’t been to but want to visit.
I have yet to make my way north toward Banaue, Batad, and Sagada. I’ve been meaning to make the trek for ages, and 2012 might be the year I finally do it.
Favorite resort/ destination in the Philippines.
Considering my previous yogic background, many people are always surprised that I’ve never been to India. One of my dearest childhood friends is Indian, and so I grew up exposed to their culture, philosophy, and lots of tasty curries. It has been a lifelong fascination and dream.
Best restaurant/food discovery in your travels.
Being vegan, I am always on the quest to find really good veg-friendly places to eat. Los Angeles has the most superior and best tasting meat-free dishes that I have ever had so far. Try the smoked soyrizo burrito at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro in Echo Park, where they also have a large glass display of dairy and egg-free desserts from ice cream to cakes.
If you’re in omnivorous company, make your way to Mohawk Bend also in the same neighborhood, that offers both meaty and meat-like viands. Be sure, however, to order the buffalo-style cauliflower, and finish off with their vegan gooey s’mores.
Give one packing tip that you swear by. And a beauty tip for travelers.
I’m probably the worst person to ask this question, because I almost always end up overpacking, and still end up thinking that I haven’t packed enough. I do think it’s worth investing in good luggage that are extremely lightweight yet sturdy, like Rimowa. I recently started to compartmentalize some of my clothing articles using those zippered pouches you can buy at Muji or Beabi. Also, I always bring my own laundry bag wherever I travel.
On long-haul flights, I always carry makeup removing towelettes with me, because washing your face in those tiny sinks they have in the plane can be tricky. If you’re not wearing a lot of makeup and want your skin to breathe or to freshen up en route to your destination, these will do the job.
What are your absolute essentials whenever you travel?
My trusty Canon S95 is compact, and takes pretty decent photos; my iPhone that keeps me entertained whilst in transit listening to music, watching downloaded TV episodes, and playing Words with Friends (my current app obsession); a robe, it’s what I wear during my downtime whether staying at a hotel or at home; and lastly, my own body sponge for daily exfoliation.
|Raya taking detail shots at Rotonde de la Reine inside the Grand Palais, Paris 2011|
Favorite luggage/ handcarry bag.
As mentioned earlier, Rimowa, from the Salsa Air series.
Favorite outfit/thing to wear when traveling.
It totally depends on the destination, but when I fly, I like to be cozy on board. I usually wear a thin sweater, sometimes layered over a tank, skinny jeans, low-heeled boots, sunglasses, a hat, and a scarf. I was traveling with Tessa Prieto-Valdes to San Francisco some months ago, and she was wearing a bright purple cocktail dress, a feathered fascinator, and designer stilettos on the plane. Unlike me, that woman is all glamour 24/7!
|Winter and fab. In Central Park, New York 2011|
|Fab festival outfit. Raya at Coachella, Indio, California 2011|
Traveling with girlfriends, traveling with a boyfriend, or traveling solo. Which is your favorite?
Easy. All of them!
What’s your best purchase (bargain or otherwise) in your travels?
I love going to vintage/ thrift stores and flea markets. I’ve acquired many precious wardrobe staples from these places. In New York on the weekend, I take the subway to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and spend the entire afternoon at the Artists & Fleas market. In Asia, the Jatujak market in Bangkok is a dizzying and euphoric shopping experience.
I can’t say there’s one standout memorable tangible purchase, but when it comes to watching concerts or music festivals, I don’t mind splurging a bit since many of the bands I listen to seldom make their way to Manila. Some of the most spectacular shows I’ve seen were The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem in Melbourne, The Flaming Lips in Singapore, Sufjan Stevens in Paris, Paul McCartney in Las Vegas, and Arcade Fire at Coachella in Indio, California.
My most recent souvenir is probably the best I’ve had so far. I recently attended the St. Jerome’s Laneway music festival in Singapore, and during the set of one of my favorite artists, Twin Shadow, the singer George Lewis Jr. walked down from the stage towards the audience and handed me his guitar. That’s right, I got to keep it.
|Friends and music: the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Singapore 2012From L-R: Michael Concepcion, Raya Mananquil, Carlos Concepcion, Bianca Valerio, Valerie De Los Santos, Divine Lee|
Share with us a favorite picture of yourself in your travels.
(Note: Raya actually asked me to choose. And this is my favorite picture of her.)
Share with us your favorite pictures that you photographed in your travels.
|Lagen Island, El Nido Resorts, Palawan 2011|
|Columbus Circle, New York 2011|
|Louvre, Paris 2011|
|Paris, France 2011|
|Sufjan Stevens concert at the L’Olympia in Paris 2011|
|View from the Empire State Building, New York, 2012|
|The Drums at the St. Jerome’s Laneway festival, Singapore 2012|
The best travel advice that you’ve ever received.
How about the best travel advice I can give? When visiting a country with English not as a primary language, I always make the effort to learn the basic phrases and numbers. When haggling, it almost always amuses the vendor when they see you make an attempt to speak their language. Even better, they think you’re local if you manage to pull it off. More often than not, you’ll get a much bigger discount.
What’s your travel philosophy?
Traveling opens our eyes in experiencing and understanding not just the zeitgeist, but also the overlooked nuances of our current lifetime that could potentially further ourselves ontologically. We witness disparities in culture, but more importantly, the sameness of humankind. But let’s be real, it’s also tons of fun! 😉
Raya is certainly not just fashionable, but very much an intelligent, introspective, philosophical traveler as well—which makes her so fitting to lead off my Fab Travelers series. Thank you Raya, for taking time out from your busy schedule to share with us your travels and lovely photos.