Author Archives: markjnocampo

About markjnocampo

An every guy who has a lot of things to say about fashion, design, current trends, food, women's issues and other things that do not usually interest the average man.

Understated Paris (Hotel Residence Foch)


The author in front of HRF

My wife and I go on a short holiday twice a year. Whenever we travel we always look for a hotel that is the most upscale within our budget, is located in the safest area, is a short walk  to the major sites while still being away from the maddening crowd and will offer us a glimpse into the way we would live if we were locals. We got that with the Hotel Residence Foch.


Parisian apartment chic

It’s a narrow, classic style (Haussman era?) building with 7 floors. Very understated. The front desk/reception area is adequate in size and there is a small breakfast/dining area   opening up to a courtyard/garden at the rear of the property. Our room (61) was about 12 square meters excluding our en suite bathroom (which had a tub). Relatively new. Nicely  decorated. Very clean. Very quiet. Daily maid service. Comfortable queen size bed with good quality linens and pillows. Professional, welcoming and helpful staff. And, yes, there is a  lift.


Lobby with breakfast area toward the rear

HRF, as it is affectionately referred to, is located on Rue Marbeau in the 16th arr. The neighborhood is not touristy at all (read: devoid of pickpockets, thieves or the occasional   homeless person). It is a short, convenient and safe 5 minute walk from the Port Maillot stop of Les Cars Air France (Port Maillot is also the nearest Metro stop). Rue Pergolese  (perpendicular to Rue Marbeau) offers a number of boulangeries, bistros and a Michelin star restaurant called Le Pergolese. From the hotel it is a 20 minute walk along tree lined  streets to the Trocadero from where one will get the most iconic views of the Eiffel Tower (Halfway through the walk, grab a croissant and cafe creme at one of the cafes located at  Place Victor Hugo). It’s also a 10 minute walk along tree lined streets to the Arc de Triomphe putting you at the top of the Champs Elysees (or the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore ifone prefers a more exclusive shopping experience). Pub Crawling and nights out are not a problem either because if you miss the last Metro, just take a taxi to the Palais des Congres (a convention center/concert venue/mall located right beside Port Maillot) then walk to the hotel.


The Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero

The Hotel Residence Foch is a boutique hotel that is very attuned to a certain kind of French life. It gives you a base from which to experience the live quiet and comfortably, away from the crowd, dress well, eat a light breakfast, step out and be seen lifestyle of Paris. If that’s how you want to experience Paris then the HRF is for you.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Lessons From Moving

During the past nine years of our marriage, the wife and I have moved four times. Yes, four times. Our first time was when we moved from our parents’ houses into our first home as a married couple. Nothing fancy. Just a small studio in a walk-up, low-rise condominium complex. The complex was located near the top universities and was across the street from a semi-private – as opposed to a public – golf course. We didn’t have that many neighbors and there was a circular road withing the complex along which one could do a quick run.

Being in a “university neighborhood” gave us the advantage of student budget friendly dining, and since my wife had not yet found her inner Martha Stewart at that time, we indulged in the myriad dining options on offer. When we found ourselves with no cash on hand, as most newly married couples just starting out in their careers are wont to do, we satisfied ourselves with a dinner of peanut butter and jelly on toast. It was great, really. We were learning about married life and household maintenance together. I would scrub the shower curtain every week or so, while the wife learned how easy it is to use a vacuum. Everything we needed was within three steps of our bed.

We moved out due to a confluence of reasons. My wife became pregnant with our first child, there was a spate of car-napping incidents around the vicinity, and, after 8 months of living in our condo, I suddenly blurted out, “I can’t believe we’re living in a box!” It was mostly for the latter reason why we moved out.

Our second move was when we moved back into my parent’s house “to help us with the initial child care.” It was a big decision for us because my parents lived at the southern end of the metropolis, while we were coming from the northern end. It wasn’t that far distance wise, but the state of traffic congestion meant that the two ends are at least two hours apart. But help with child care, the quiet surroundings and living in a guarded and gated community was worth the trade-off. It was suburbia. In fact, my wife, who grew up in a house along one of the busiest thoroughfares in the northern metropolis, complained that it was too quiet. It was so quiet that she would complain about hearing the chatter of our neighbor’s household staff. Even though our neighbor’s house was 20 meters away,.. Behind a 2 meter high concrete wall…

This time, we had all the space we needed and then some. We had so much space that all the furniture we had in the condo we moved from fit in my old bedroom (this made me realize how cramped we were in our old place, but it also made me think about the practicality of building such a big house). And since my sisters have already moved to more cosmopolitan cities – one moved to Tokyo, while the other moved to L.A. – we converted one of their bedrooms into a nursery.

It was a quiet, comfortable life we were living, but fate had other plans. And so it was, in the month of June, after almost two years of living in suburbia, that we moved into our third home.

Our third home was new, but old (only a few years had passed since it was newly built, but it was designed by our landlord who is a spinster-banker). It was near our first condo, but this time, our home was beside the university instead of being across a golf course. In fact, our home had a rear gate that allowed me to enter the sprawling campus of my undergrad Alma Mater. Pretty neat, actually. Also, my wife’s Alma Mater (the “other” university) was just a short 5 minute drive away. We had loads of space, a front and rear garden, and a community whose residents have been attending the best schools in the country and abroad for generations. It was a very good community for a young couple who dream of a bright future for their yet to be toilet-trained toddlers.

The location of the house gave us the feeling of being in suburbia even though we were in the middle of everything. “Middle of everything” is relative, of course. We were in the middle of everything relative to my wife’s place of work and my children’s school, but I still had to drive an hour or so each day to get to work. Anyway, this home really helped shape our initial identity as a family. My wife surprised herself by discovering her love for cooking and I surprised myself by discovering how much I loved a beautifully tended garden as long as I was not the one tending it. Being an old gated community with such a low density of residents also meant that our children could safely play with the children of our neighbors out on the street.

When our lease was about to expire and our landlady decided not to renew our lease (our children are NOISY), we were forced to move a fourth time into our present home.

Our fourth move wasn’t an upheaval of any sort. Although, we did experience a bit of anxiety having to separate from the house that my young family has called home for three years. It was a relief, really, that we were moving to a new home (our present home) that was just 5 minutes away. This time, we moved into a three-level townhouse located in a guarded and gated compound, inside an old gated community right across my Alma Mater. The vibe was instantly different. The majority of residents are young families who chose the area because of the proximity to the best schools. A number of the houses are used as off-campus housing by out-of-town and foreign exchange students. And in recent years, we’ve noticed a growth in expatriate families.

It’s been interesting, this moving. We’ve kept the friends we made from our previous neighborhood, but we’ve also let go of older friends that no longer share the kind of family-centered life we lead. I love cars, but I have not felt the need to purchase a new car. In fact, we drive around in old cars that we just nicked from our parent’s garages. My wife has kept her closet neat and trimmed. And my children, well, they’re more interested in running about with their friends than purchasing a new toy that has just come out.

Our constant moving has affected us in such a profound way. We’re not attached. Yes, we’re attached to each other as a family. But we’re not attached to anything else. We’ve had to let go so many times in the past that possessions don’t really matter that much. The amount of our possessions have not grown over the years. In fact, we’ve been giving stuff away every chance we get. In a way, moving houses every so often has shown us what is really important in life and we’ve learned to live efficiently because of it.



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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


Mid-Foot Strike! (Newton Running)

I’m a slug…  Really…  I am.  I eat, sleep, go to work, eat, sleep.  In the middle of that, I’m able to squeeze in a few hours of quality time with my wife and kids.  Oh!  My wife and I also get a weekly massage from our favorite home spa.

Why is it then, do I have a photograph of a pair of Newton Running shoes?  Well, it involves a floor-to-ceiling mirror, an ever tightening pair of pants and my wife thinking of a name for my belly.

It wasn’t always this way.  There was a time, I could be called “sporty”.  Athletic even!  Well…  Not really.  But!  But!  I was living a fairly active life.  Involving myself in a mutitude of leisure sport activities, such as, but not limited to:  futbol, golf, scuba diving, basketball, badminton, partying (?), hanging out at the beach every weekend (?), and many other activities similar to the foregoing.

So it was, while dining in a restaurant called Simply Thai in Greenbelt 5, that my business partner convinced my wife and I to take up running.  We don’t really know how it happened.  Somewhere between the phad thai and the beef rendang, we said yes.  Oh, well…

Half an hour later, we found ourselves in Bonifacio High Street registering for our first run.  My wife was prudent enough to join the 3K run.  But, because I was a fool and the thought of running a paltry distance of 3K just didn’t sit right with my masculine side, I registered for a 10K run.  Yes, a 10K run.  Hah!  (Chest thump).  Of course, after realization set in, self-doubt began to take over.  I realized that I’ve never run continuously for more than 3 kilometers in my life.  What if I don’t finish?!

Lovingly, my wife took my arm, looked at me with her most supportively determined face and said, “Looking good is more important.  We must get new shoes!”  (I swear that in that moment, I saw fire in her eyes).  She led me across the gardens to RUNNR and without batting an eyelash began to select her new running outfit.  I, on the other hand, methodically examined the numerous shoes offered.  They were categorized under “stability”, “cushioning” or “neutral”.  Not understanding why, I turned to the salesperson for some help and was told that people have different ways of running so I had to choose the right kind of shoes in order not to get injured.  He guided me to a contraption that would help analyze my gait.  Anyway, after all of that, I ended up with the Newton Running shoes in the photograph.  Needless to say, my wife was already at the cashier with her Newtons and a “few” other items such as her Nike shorts and a running top from Equipe.

Newtons are very comfortable.  The sole offers a lot of cushioning and support, while the portion called the “upper” is soft and well ventilated.  What sets it apart though, are the “lugs” located in the forefoot area of the sole.  This design forced me to correct the way I strike the road when I run, aside from the fact that they offer a lot of shock absorption.  Newton Running takes the science so seriously that there are even on-line tutorials (Go to YouTube and type in “Newton Running”) on how to best use the shoes.  Cool!

We’ve been running an average of 5K every other night since then (We’re night owls) and I did finish my 10K run.  Amazingly, my back, legs and knees don’t hurt after every run.  Our Newtons really work as promised and it has helped my wife and I find a common sport that we can enjoy together.

On to the next run!

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Locked In (Tiffany & Co.)

 Jewelry…  One of the ways to a woman’s heart…  100% sure to bring a smile to her face…  and a man to his financial knees.  Happily, though, we oblige our significant other.  To keep the peace?  Yes.  But, more importantly, it gives us regular guys so much fulfillment to bring happiness to the ones we love.  Be it purchased or otherwise.

I sense that a growing anticipation will be triggered by the previous paragraph.  Your interest, dear reader, has been piqued.  Questions begin to swirl around in your head…  What kind of jewelry did he buy for her?  Was it expensive?  Did she like it?  Alas…  None of that happened.  But, I have to tell you that I was tempted.

Nina, Monika, Lana and Gabby of Rustan’s

Why is it then, that I am writing about jewelry when I didn’t buy anything?  Well, it just so happens that I was invited by Rustan’s to attend and cover the launch of a new collection of vintage inspired yet contemporary “Tiffany Locks” from Tiffany & Co.  I can tell you right now, if the wife were with me, it would have been the end of this blog because I wouldn’t have money left to pay for my internet connection.

The “Tiffany Locks”, made of 18k gold, sterling silver, or a combination of both (a couple of which are in the photo above), are attention grabbers.  They are actually quite innovative.  Taking a mundane, everyday tool such as a lock and turning it into elegant jewelry is remarkable.  It reminds me of the charms in numerous shapes little girls have hanging from their necklaces or their bracelets.  Unlike those, though, these Locks give women a certain allure that says feminine rather than girly, modern rather than new and vibrant as opposed to just plain fun.  The Locks look so good that I would really like to gift a couple to my wife.

Tessa Prieto-Valdes with the lucky winners of Tiffany Locks

The event, hosted by Cosplay Queen, Tessa Prieto-Valdes (referring to the host as the “Cosplay Queen” is cool and not at all derisive), had all the elements of vintage-comtemporary style.  The patented “Tiffany Blue” color was used to accentuate the elegantly festive atmosphere successfully as guests were milling around the display cases pulling out their credit cards to purchase pieces from the new collection.  Those guests that chose to rein in their desires did not have to look sullenly upon the beautiful jewelry as uniformed waiters were roaming the room with very delicious canapes (I was snacking the entire night), refreshing cocktails and over-flowing champagne courtesy of Bizu Patisserie.  The highlight of the night came when twelve guests were chosen and given the chance to win beautiful Tiffany Locks by opening the four display cases they were contained in.  Everyone watched as the chosen guests prayed that the key they were given would open the display cases.  There were a few tense moments, but everyone cheered when all four display cases were opened.  Even those of us who weren’t chosen to participate were caught up in the euphoria.  As the night ended and the guests were merrily going home with their purchases and prizes in little blue shopping bags hanging from their wrists, I take one last look at the jewelry on display and make a mental note for the future.

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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Magnificent (Magnanni)

 For those people who have read my previous posts, they would know that I have this thing for shoes.  Dress shoes.  The kind that guys like me who have shunned the corporate world don’t have any practical use for.  Yes, we may, on occassion, have the need to slip our feet into handmade leather loafers.  But, since these occassions are quite few and far between, a couple of pairs would be sufficient.


As if a woman would be satisfied with just a couple of bags…

Anyway, I was aimlessly walking around the mall one day, enjoying its cool, airconditioned confines.  As it was an aimless wandering, I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going.  When I was just about done with my Chai Tea Latte, I looked around for a rubbish bin to dispose of my cup.  I asked a person in uniform for some help and realized that the uniform looked familiar.  Taking stock of my surroundings, it dawned on me that my wanderings have taken me into the men’s department of Rustan’s Makati…  Again…

Emotions of guilt and joy swept through me.  Or was it joy first and then guilt?  Joyful guilt?  Guiltful joy?  Whatever…  A plausible excuse must be found to placate my wife’s growing irritation at my increasing clothing bill.  But, wait!  I have not done anything wrong!  It was not my fault that I am back in Rustan’s!  My feet brought me here!  Yes!  My feet!  I had nothing do to with it, so there.

Satisfied that I have not done anything wrong, I finally glanced down at the magnificent pair of Magnanni shoes I have been cradling in my hands while I was undergoing my mental discourse.  Called the “Belton”, its exquisite brown sheen, delicate buckle, hand-sewn leather and the combination leather sole for the forefoot and rubber sole for the heel made me think about the movie Ocean’s Thirteen and how it was able to tastefully blend laid back elegance, impeccable style (care of world-renowned Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue), and careless wealth.

As much as I loved to imagine myself putting on a bespoke shirt, a light linen suit, slipping into these Magnanni shoes and getting into a Maserati Quattroporte (I am a family man, after all), reality must step in.  For the meantime, the shoes must be put back into its display stand and I must walk back to the parking garage, get into my vintage 4×4 and drive home.

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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Save My Skin! (Celeteque)

 You know how it is with guys and skin care?  That the two don’t mix?  Well, that’s just not true.  We are concerned about our skin.  It just takes a while for us to get to the point where we consciously seek out ways to improve and protect our “outer layer”.

We start out quite simply enough by popping our own pimples (apparently a big no-no) that were brought about by puberty.  Gradually, we move on to the commercially available astringents (another big no-no) that were used by our yayas (nannies).  It sort of tapers-off in college (buying skin care products cuts into our beer budget) then steps up again when we enter the corporate world.

The thing is, it’s just not enough.  In my case, years of futbol (soccer for the other half of the world), golf, scuba diving, hanging out at the beach and plain neglect have taken it’s toll.  This realization came to me while in bed engrossed in a game on my iPad.  I suddenly felt the urge to take better care of my skin.  With a jolt, I got out of bed and made a bee-line for my wife’s stash of beauty products (my wife is a dermatologist and skin care products for men make me break out).

After a few minutes of digging, I settled on an anti-wrinkle facial moisturizer by Celeteque Advanced which is pictured here.  It has a “Double Peptide Comlex” that is supposed to penetrate deep into the skin to help stimulate the formation of collagen.  It’s in a cream form which you pump out of the bottle (store it upside-down, otherwise, all you get is air).  And, surprisingly, the mositurizer doesn’t make me look like I just dipped my face in a vat of oil.  I’ve been using it morning and evening for a few days now and I haven’t broken-out yet.  Very encouraging…

I must recommend this to my yaya…

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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Uncategorized


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James Bondish… (Hackett)

 Ever since the time I decided to eschew the corporate life, I have been waking up with a smile on my face.  No more rush hour traffic.  No more long days.  And, I think more importantly, no more restrictive dress code.  My suits have been relegated to the back of my closet to make space for my casual, but otherwise, smart daily wear.

Of course, I’m not saying that I now look like a slob.  I still do appreciate clothes that are stylish and well-made.  It’s just that, rather than conveying a message of competition and assertion, I would like to think that the way I dress now conveys warmth and acceptance.  I think…

I do still work.  And, because of the nature of my profession (which I am trying to keep a secret), I still have meetings scheduled throughout the work week.  The difference is, the meetings are now more relaxed and informal.  Much like a meeting between friends.

Anyway, my more casual work wardrobe needed a little spiffing up.  Visa suggested that I shop around for a light sport coat that can be used for daytime appointments and not so formal evening functions.  Mastercard readily agreed.  And so, for the nth time, my credit cards find themselves in the men’s department of Rustan’s Makati trying to jump out of my wallet.

Being a regular guy, I made a mental map of the selling area and chose a route to follow.  After about half an hour, I was on my way to an elevated portion when I spied a blue jacket, which is pictured here, by Hackett of London that was left hanging in one of the fitting rooms.  It caught my eye because it was the first time I had seen something like it.  After ensuring that the room was empty, I entered to get closer to the item.  Maybe it was the yellow lighting in the room, I don’t know?  Called a “Blue Delave”, its soft blue color and luxuriously light linen fabric reminded me of the ocean, an immaculate shore line, and an ice-cold Daiquiri with those little umbrellas.  Or, maybe I’ve just been watching too many James Bond movies…

It wasn’t much of a fight, really.  I knew that this was the jacket I’ve been looking for.  It looks good.  It will go with the clothes I already have and it’s perfect for the tropics.  This is one time I gladly handed over my existence to the sales person and signed on the dotted line.

Now…  What to tell the wife…

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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


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