As a philanthropist, doting mother, and top gun of the S. Madrigal Group of Companies, Chu-Chu has plenty on her plate. But she takes time to enjoy life’s pleasures.
1. Priceless Traveling Experiences With Family. Not only is traveling a luxury, it’s also a pastime. I used to travel with my family when I was a child and now I’m doing it with my own. Here’s so much to do and so much to see when traveling. My husband Mandy and my youngest daughter Mic are the ones who know and love seeing the different highlights of the places we travel to. I just tag along but I always end up getting surprised at what I see and find—like the Biennale in Venice. I’ll never forget drinking Bellinis at Harry’s Bar in Venice, where Bellinis were invented, or relaxing at the Aman in Borobudur.
2. My Precious Pets. For me, koi are living, floating beauty, and it’s great to be able to share that beauty with our guests. It’s so peaceful to have my koi eat from the palm of my hand as I feed them every morning. Just watching them gives me a sense of tranquility. My poodle Brock, on the other hand, is known as my only son. He’s a Canadian/American champion. He keeps me company and he’s extremely loyal and cariñoso, and that’s good to have when your real children are far away or busy with their own lives. Mic also has a poodle who is super loyal and protective of her. These pets are very gentle and are happy to be around other people.
3. Collecting Art. I really got into art because of Mandy. Having paintings by celebrated artists is a wonderful way to decorate a home. Some of my treasured pieces around the house are those by Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Fabian de la Rosa, and Botong Francisco. But I have to say that my absolute favorites are those with sentimental value—like the portraits of my children at different ages and the portraits of my family and me together. They’re a good investment not only in monetary terms, but also as heirlooms for my children to display in their own homes when they’re older
4. Dining At Michelin-Starred Restaurants. My family and I love to eat. When we’re traveling, we make it a point to eat at excellent restaurants, using the Michelin guide as reference. Daniel and Le Bernadin are Mic’s ultimate favorite restaurants in New York. A few others are Arzak in Spain, Taillevent in Paris, and Lung King Heen in Hong Kong.
5. Experiencing The Best Flight And Hotel Services. I travel a lot. Most of the time, it’s to places in Europe or the States, where flights can take up to 16 hours to arrive at our destination. I like to be as relaxed as I can when I have to be sitting on a plane for that long by flying first class, where you have the best food and drinks they can offer, the kindest service, and of course, the most comfortable seats—which are practically beds usually. It’s my treat to myself. And after seeing the sights during the day, I make sure to stay at storied hotels for a good night’s sleep. The Peninsula in Hong Kong, the Oriental in Bangkok, Raffles in Singapore, Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Crillon in Paris, the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Danieli in Venice, and Hassler in Rome are some of my favorites. Many times, these hotels can tell the greatest stories about the country and its history.
6. Boarding The Orient Express. As my youngest likes to put it, traveling on the Orient Express is akin to time traveling and stepping into a whole different era. Expect fellow travelers to be dressed to the nines in their best tuxedos and gowns. Meals on board mean eating exquisite food and drinking the finest wine while watching the European countryside and mountains pass by. You have your own personal white-gloved butler carrying your luggage and delivering champagne and breakfast to your cabin.
7 Going On A Cruise. I went on the Regent Seven Seas cruise with Mandy and some of our good friends, and we cruised the Mediterranean. It was exploring Europe with some of our favorite people. Stops included Marseille, Sant-Tropez, Portofino, Monte Carlo, Venice, Rome, Amalfi, Pompeii, and Barcelona. It was also comforting in the sense that it was sort of home-away-from-home as most of the staff were Filipino. If you were homesick and in the mood for some adobo or sinigang, there was a fair chance that you would get it.
8. Indulging In My Guilty Pleasure. Mic likes to call me baduy because of this, but one of my true luxuries has to be watching my nightly teleseryes. I am so immersed in watching them that my family usually can’t talk to me during these periods. Because I am so busy and stressed during the day, watching my teleseryes is one of those times I can just enjoy and get completely lost in the stories. It’s 30 to 45 minutes of my personal pure bliss.
9. A Walk Down Madison Avenue. I often visit my children in New York, and whenever I am in the city, my definite go-to street is Madison Avenue. Whether it be for my daily exercise, shopping, or eating, there’s always something to do or find on Madison Avenue. My children always ask me to take them to Barneys. Sant Ambroeus, The Mark by Jean-Georges, Café Boulud, Lady M, and Dean and Deluca are our go-to restaurants, for a family meal or just to get a quick bite. All my favorite stores are just down Madison Avenue, like Carolina Herrera. On a typical Saturday morning, my children might be at Tory Burch or Ralph Lauren, Mandy will be at the Gagosian art gallery, and I’ll be La Maison du Chocolat buying sweets for my family. It’s a great street because it contains all these varied things—whether you actually go shopping, or just window shopping.
10. Doing Absolutely Nothing. I’m always on the go, whether for work or for my family and friends, so having the time to just catch up on sleep or do nothing is a real luxury. Every Sunday afternoon, I have a massage at home so I can relax before having to work again the next day. I always tell my kids to create some down time to just rest, especially because they’re at that age where they’re trying to balance school or work with their social lives. I think it’s more difficult to find the time to do nothing or relax than anything else, so finding that time is truly luxurious.