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A Night in Forbes ParkDec 15, 2008

A Night in Forbes Park

Lodging for One Night
When I sent out the email from my Gmail and Yahoo address list (friends to complete strangers and everyone in between) for a place to crash for one night during my Manila stay, I didn't really expect I'd get a booking from anyone, let alone a booking from the most prestigious address in the country, Forbes Park, and from a scion whose name resonates commerce, industry and politics (no need to mention names or street address now, right?).

I don't know in what part of the world my host was in, but I was referred to a private secretary (PS) who coordinated with the staff and myself. I was surprised at the level of logistical preparation my seemingly benign request entailed. I didn't realize it was too much of a bother...all I wanted was a roof over my head! My gracious host had 2 rooms made available for me...a big one and the small one. I was asked by the PS for my plate number. I said I was walking from the gate as I was commuting. The next instance, I received a text message advising me of a driver pick-up! Whoa!!!

The Zen Home
At the arranged place and time, a Toyota Land Cruiser arrived on time for my lift. Upon arrival, a security guard opened the house gate. Despite my host's absence, the house wasn't empty. It was looked after by a fulltime staff - I counted 9 so far (not including the PS). Two of them welcomed me inside the house. First thing they asked was if I'll have dinner (I said I already have). Then, I was taken to view the big and small rooms. That's all I saw but I wouldn't be surprised if the house was as big as a country club. Interestingly enough, what exceeded its size was how the whole house was tastefully given a scrutinizing attention to detail. Every part of it seemed well thought hand-crafted by skilled artisans who take pride in what they, subdued, calm and collected. It evoked warm serenity...not unlike the vibe I get from my host when we first met at a workshop. It was perhaps a fleeting 10-minute conversation and that was the first and last time I saw my host...more than a year ago.

The Small Room
Upon choosing the 'small room' (it resonated), they acclimatized me with the controls - phone (+ in-house directory!), big screen LCD TV, lights switches, air-conditioning, and even left me a tray of fruits and bottled water. Wait, there's also a baby grand piano in the room! Thought bubble: yeah, some small room. I was asked what time I'd like to have my breakfast. Wow, that's included too? Coffee and toast? Yummy! I said 7 am. Thought bubble: Is all this for real? Needless to say, I had a very good night's sleep.

The phone rang promptly at 7am advising me that breakfast was ready. Hmmm...the staff is on the ball. As I walked to the eating area, my morning brightened up as I was greeted "Hello" by the most unexpected thing you could imagine: a white cuckatoo....honest, I'm not making this up! It was free to roam around, although it obviously enjoyed being perched up on its own wooden bar.

Lavish Breakfast
Breakfast was a mouth-watering spread - Evian bottled water (I would have settled for tap), French press coffee (I couldn't have brewed a better one myself...did they have to pirate a barrista from Starbucks?), full breakfast lavished with fruits, butter, bread, ensaymada the size of a plate, 4 sunnyside up eggs (no, I couldn't have possibly finished them all), jam, etc. It was overwhelming.

Chauffeur Drop-Off
I informed the staff I'd be leaving after breakfast. They asked what time I'd like to be chauffeured. Again, wow! My amazement wouldn't stop. I said 8:30. The driver (a different one) was in front of the main door at 8:30 clockwork! And if I thought that was it, there was more! Before boarding, the staff handed me a loot bag of fruits from the breakfast table! This is like winning the lottery.

Royalty Treatment
All I wanted was a simple roof over my head to tide the night before I take on the challenges of the coming day...and perhaps morning coffee and conversation with my host. A small space on the floor would have sufficed as I came self-contained. However, what I got was royalty treatment...Forbes Park accommodation, chauffeur pick-up and drop-off, care from a friendly staff of 6 (not including 2 drivers and security guard), an ornately decorated room, use of the pool (I didn't avail of it though), hot and cold water...I can go on but I think you get the idea.

Sustained Giddy Excitement?
Normally, when I experience high-zoot accommodation, the giddy excitement is over after 30 minutes. However, this one was just one amazement after another. I was in disbelief my entire stay. Yeah, let's not forget the roam-around parrot...and the unexpected fruit loot-bag.

German precision and Swiss efficiency
The private secretary and the staff? What can I say? German precision and Swiss efficiency...and a smile to go with it! You can't top that. I've had the experience of well-oiled Swiss hotel accommodation in Geneva but it doesn't come close to this...promise!

I Want More
Can I ask for more? Yes! I would have wished my host was there if only to allow me to say thank you personally...and the morning coffee...and the ensuing conversation. At the end of the day, it's really all about human connection...the meeting of the minds and the friendship. The zen-home, as I fondly refer to this lovely place, makes for a wonderful complement.

High Zoot?
Does this mean I'm now a high-zoot guy? No, very far from it. On the other end of the spectrum, I slept on the sidewalk with the Calatagan farmers in front of the Dept. of Agrarian Reform...but that's a different story.

Invisible World
When I launched "Random Lives" on this site, I was curious to know what lay in the world invisible to me...the struggles of the people behind the counter, the balut vendor, etc. Now I realize how life in the upper echelons of wealth and power are equally as invisible to me. I am equally fascinated by both.

Thank You...Really, Thank You!
Lastly, let me express my heartfelt thanks and joy to my big-hearted host, the efficient private secretary and the helpful staff (sigh...not mentioning names seem so impersonal...but I don't want to infringe on privacy issues...I know you understand). Through your kindness, I was a child lost in a toy store!

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

(Dec 29, 2008) huwaw, lucky lucky lucky... here's to another year of that!

(Dec 21, 2008) you mentioned it right.. the place looks more like a countryclub than a house.

LotusForbes Park Host
(Dec 19, 2008) glad you had a comfortable stay. thanks for the humorous article. Have a wonderful christmas season. Maybe one day we will visit you up in Sagada.

"Gigit, you're welcome to stay there anytime. Just contact my assistant. I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay... nyahaha"
(Dec 18, 2008) wahahaha, sabagay, lopez ka nga naman ;) btw, Gigit, does this mean you wouldn't want to stay in humble lazcano anymore?? we're getting a sofa soon! hahaha. plus tope will be alone for the holidays. may yakapmate ka pa :))

Dennis ManonogDennis Manonog
(Dec 18, 2008) For someone who leads a spartan lifestyle, your Forbes Park adventure must really be worth all that pampering, even for one night.

"Gigit, you're welcome to stay there anytime. Just contact my assistant. I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay... nyahaha"
(Dec 18, 2008) hahahahha bentang benta!

(Dec 18, 2008) Your adventures are amazing. Correction... the BREADTH of your adventures is amazing! You should be writing a book :)

"Gigit, you're welcome to stay there anytime. Just contact my assistant. I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay... nyahaha"
(Dec 18, 2008) hahahahaha! katawa ka naman denshow! :P sosyal mo gigit! :)

DennisDennis Lopez
(Dec 18, 2008) Gigit, you're welcome to stay there anytime. Just contact my assistant. I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay... nyahaha

(Dec 18, 2008) wow ang nice naman :)

(Dec 16, 2008) nice! awesome experience you got. ;)

(Dec 16, 2008) sosyal nga!!!merry christmas gigit!

(Dec 17, 2008) ang chuchal chuchal ni Gigit. hehe... parang reward na yan sa SP. ;)

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