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Money on my mind

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We asked, they answered: Where do you spend your cash?


WORDS HIGH LIFE STAFF

Rajo Laurel, Fashion designer

Food and fashion go together in Rajo Laurel’s lifestyle. He is known for his eye for style: not only is he a fashion designer and founder of his own label, but he also sat as a judge on the Philippine edition of Project Runway. “I eat a lot,” he said with a bit of a giggle, when asked where he spends his money.

“Food is a big factor in where my allowance goes,” he said.

His most extravagant meal was one spent with friends in Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant rated the world’s best from 2010-2012, then again in 2014. The restaurant currently has two Michelin stars, and serves interpretations of Nordic and Scandinavian cuisine.

“I just literally flew there to eat. That was a splurge,” he said.

At home, however, Mr. Laurel winds down with a good book. His last read was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, a novel about a former aristocrat placed under hotel arrest in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The titular gentleman thus has to rebuild his life and maintain his dignity within the four walls of the hotel, and explores the difference between being noble, and being a noble. Food and books build a life outside fashion for Mr. Laurel who said his passions “not only feed the body, but feed the mind.”


Arthur G. Gindap, General Manager, Robinsons Hotels and Resorts

With a career in the hospitality industry spanning 38 years, Arthur G. Gindap carries traveling in his DNA. Being an envoy’s son, he has traveled from Thailand (where he was born) to Toronto (where his family immigrated). As a hotelier, traveling is part of the job but he also makes it a point to travel for pleasure with his family.

“I believe travel, among other things, allows you the means to continue working on yourself and be a better version of you,” he said.

“Travel is always a good investment. One can gain more from traveling than one stands to lose. Far too many business and personal trips are designed to maximize comfort and minimize uncertainty. But holidays are a terrific self-development opportunity: to get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to uncertainty, and maybe give up a little rest for some exploration and learning. The result is personal growth—greater emotional agility, empathy, and creativity.”

Mr. Gindap is eyeing Alaska as his next destination because of its diverse terrain of open spaces, mountains, and forests. “It’s a good place for an outdoor adventure, a good place for quality time with my family.”


Christian Mark Jacobs, Business owner, Naked Foodie

Fashion designer Francis Libiran and businessman Christian Mark Jacobs made waves last year because of their same-sex wedding in Boracay. The act of celebrating their love is highly significant in a country that does not recognize same-sex unions. By comparison, Mr. Jacobs’ attitude towards money is very, very conservative. Mr. Jacobs is also a business partner of his husband.

“I have sort of a formula. I think that you shouldn’t spend more than 25% of your paycheck on housing,” said Mr. Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs is also CEO of his own venture, Naked Foodie, which consists of a blog and an online bakery. In terms of his investments, Mr. Jacobs believes in diversity in dividing his money between high-risk investments (“that you feel very strongly about that will be successful”) as well as steady lower-risk investments (such as their business ventures).

“In this phase of my life, I’m very much investing in Francis Libiran Bridal, in Naked Patisserie, and Naked Foodie. As the future goes on, I’ll definitely be investing a lot in real estate,” he said.

As for his luxuries, Mr. Jacobs said, “I work a lot, literally 15-17 hours a day. I spend on luxuries that people might find a bit strange.” To these, he includes a good gym (“Working out, is really, like, my sanity”), a good massage, and good wine.


Mark Christian Parlade, PR director, StratWorks

Mark Christian Parlade started collecting superhero comic books when he was young. His hobby influenced his life’s philosophy that good always wins over evil and nice guys finish last, which he’s carried over to his career as the public relations (PR) director of one of the country’s most prominent public relations company, StratWorks.

As PR director, he has worked with companies such as Google Philippines, Cebu Pacific, and Coca-Cola Philippines and is known for his professional yet easygoing mien he has never hid his fascination for superheroes—DC superheroes, in particular—as evidenced by the thousands of old comic books and action figures he has on display at his house.

Invest in quality
“My house is filled with boxes of thousands of old comic books so I had to stop buying actual comics recently and I’ve had to just settle for digital copies that I buy off an app every week.

“I also drastically limited my collection to just a few comic book titles from DC Comics, so, as a way to fill the void, I started collecting action figures to display. I started with high-quality action figures from Japanese maker Kotobukiya just two years ago to display in my man cave. Their DC Comics ArtFX line has killer aesthetics, from the sculpt to the colors, they’re just awesome to stare at. I get a kick out of just looking at them.

The first Kotobukiya figure I bought was the DC Universe Superman for Tomorrow. I think I got him from an eBay seller for about Php7,000.”

Kotobukiya is a Japanese company founded in 1947, specializing in creating plastic models of characters from Marvel Characters Inc., Square Enix Holdings, and Warner Bros., among others.

Take care of storage
“I have just a little over three dozen figures now. I’ve had to buy IKEA glass cabinets to store and display my collections.

“If it makes you kid-in-a-candy-store-happy, and if you can afford it, go ahead and buy them. They’re easy enough to find with the Internet’s help (thanks, Google!) in my experience. Just make sure you keep them in a dry place, away from the sun, and dust them off every now and then.   

Enjoy the hunt
“The Kotobukiya DC line doesn’t include all the other characters I loved reading about or watching on TV when growing up, so I had to hunt them down from other lines, or I’ve had to have some custom made just so I could complete a Superfriends and Teen Titans diorama. I’m proud I was able to complete these within just a year with a little help from eBay and various toy (but I don’t consider them toys!) shops. Anyway, I enjoy a good hunt!

“There are two figures I am proud of although they weren’t made by Kotobukiya. These are two custom toys I asked Myke de La Paz of Phoenix Force Creations (a Filipino toy model maker) to make for me. The first one is of Donna Troy, founding member of the Teen Titans and mystical sister (don’t ask) of Wonder Woman. The other one is my avatar, an action figure of myself.

“I’ve stopped buying them in the meantime. I’ve completed my dioramas and I’m running out of room. I might change my mind if someone sells me their full DC Comics Kingdom Come collection, though.”


Steven T. Tan, COO, SM Supermalls

“I wouldn’t really say I have a worldly view, but it does help having experienced other cultures, to have a borderless perspective,” SM Supermalls COO Steven T. Tan said about his travels.

As someone whose parents encouraged their child to learn to be independent, Mr. Tan and his siblings were sent to Taiwan during summer vacations to experience Chinese culture there. It was also where he began working for nine years before moving back to the Philippines.

“I am passionate about travel. Encountering new places appeals to me very much. What I really like are the experiences one gets from travel. They can be inspiring, eye-opening, instructive and even life-changing. Travel pushes the mind, challenges the eye and invigorates the spirit,” he said.

Travel to get inspired
“Travel inspires people and inspiration is invaluable in my line of work. The more obvious thing is that I work in retail. But also, I am a purveyor of experiences.”

Keep new destinations in your bucket list
“I have this rule: every year I would like to visit a new place. It’s expensive but you can’t put a price tag on experience. So far, I’ve visited Reykjavik, Iceland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Brazil and Colombia in South America; Cape Town, South Africa; and, just recently, Mexico.”

Stay curious: talk to people and immerse in their culture
“More than anything, travel ignites my curiosity. I am a very curious person. I think you can call me a student of life. I like to be able to experience how other people live and learn from them. Whether we like it or not, we now live a globalized life. The Internet has made sure of that. But to really talk to people, experience cultures different from your own, and understanding other people’s way of life—you learn it best by going out, seeing, and experiencing the world.”

Take risks
“Experiences, good or bad, always bring out the best in each person. I’ve had travels that have tested my resolve. For example, traveling in the dark in Iceland early morning to catch the Aurora Borealis. That was such a trip. You have five-meter visibility and no living thing in sight for close to three hours. Utter silence. You can imagine what was going on in my mind the whole time.

“This November, I am trekking Machu Picchu. Wish me luck!”