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Fifth Floor to Morocco, Please

A cultural, culinary, and artistic destination right here in Manila

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By DOM GALEON

Hosting festivals that feature the culture of various countries isn’t new for Rustan’s. Arguably the country’s leading retail brand, Rustan’s has been at the forefront of curating the luxurious and sophisticated lifestyle, with brands that cover almost every need—from clothes to cosmetics and even food.

Now, for the entire month of August, Rustan’s is doing something it has last done 20 years ago now, and that is to bring the heart of Morocco into the country. In partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, Moroccan National Tourism Office, HSBC, and Fairmont Makati, Rustan’s launched “Le Coeur du Maroc,” a month-long festival of any and all things Moroccan, from stylish accessories and the babouche to the elegant kaftans, which are the fancier versions of the traditional loose robes worn in Morocco called djellaba, the fifth floor of Rustan’s at Ayala Center, Makati will showcase them all for the month of August.

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“For many decades now, Rustan’s has had a friendly and enduring business relationship with Morocco,” says Rustan’s Commercial Corporation EVP Anton Huang, reading a speech by Rustan’s Group of Companies chairperson Nedy Tantoco at the festival’s opening last Tuesday. “So it is a particular privilege for us to team up with the Moroccan Embassy in staging this Festival as a way to welcome the newly established Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Philippines led by His Excellency ambassador Mohammed Rida El Fassi and his wife, Madame Monia Zaoui.”

I hope that during this month-long festival, those who visit it and take in the flavors of Morocco will be encouraged to plan a visit to Morocco and enjoy the country and all it has to offer in a much fuller scale.

A fashion show featuring the works of Moroccan designer Fatim Zahra Ettalbi on Aug. 9 is the perfect highlight to collection. But it isn’t all just fashion. Visiting “Le Coeur du Maroc” at Rustan’s is akin to traveling to a North African bazaar, enjoying the beautiful colors and flavors of Mediterranean Morocco. To complete the experience, Rustan’s will also be home to Moroccan wares, notably the tangine, a clay pot used in traditional Moroccan cooking, as well as to Moroccan music, with a band performing live for two weeks. There’s also an artist doing henna tattoos and lessons in Arabic calligraphy running until Aug. 10.

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“I’m excited to enter the door to a fascinating experience of the souk, medina, and kasbah, which all tell the story of people of glorious origins and history, born of great civilizations,” says Department of Tourism secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, who graced the festival’s launch. “I believe this traditional Moroccan festival depicts Morocco’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity, which, in my preparation for speaking here, made me realize how similar the Moroccan and the Filipino cultures are. The arts, music, handcrafted jewelry are as an important part of their heritage as they are in ours.”

Naturally, a trip to Morocco won’t be complete without a taste of their cuisine, which Rustan’s makes available for one month at their fifth floor Casablanca café, styled in Moroccan fashion, with dishes prepared by celebrity chef Moha Fedal. But that’s for another story, so better watch out for that! Guests at the launch were served a fine sampling of traditional and fusion Moroccan dishes, paired with wines courtesy of Philippine Wine Merchants.

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“The food, which is a fusion of Moorish, European, and Mediterranean cuisines, makes extensive use of spices, similar to what we do in certain parts of the Philippines,” Berna adds. As Rustan’s curates the finest from Morocco, it is best that you experience it for yourself—and entrance to the festival is free!

“I hope that during this month-long festival, those who visit it and take in the flavors of Morocco will be encouraged to plan a visit to Morocco and enjoy the country and all it has to offer in a much fuller scale,” Anton says, reading Nedy’s speech.
After all, you don’t need a visa to visit Morocco, and you definitely don’t need one to experience it at Rustan’s.

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