By Angela Casco
Images by Noel Pabalate
Morocco is a dream destination for many and for good reason—it boasts of exotic sights, rich culture, as well as charming scents and sounds.
Lucky for those who can’t go to the country just yet because of either budgetary constraints or a packed work schedule, Morocco is finding its way back to Manila via the second run of the Moroccan Festival at Rustan’s.
Aptly called Fall In Love with Morocco, the month-long celebration of Moroccan design and aesthetic ongoing until Aug. 31, is set to feature more authentic home and fashion items, as well as multiple activities for avid shoppers and jetsetters, all of which promise a convenient yet immersive experience of Marrakech, the country’s capital, at the department store’s Makati branch.
“We’re going bigger this year,” Marilen Tantoco, vice president for merchandising home division of Rustan’s, tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “The value of Moroccan Festival 2019 is bigger because we have brought in more items.”
Tantoco adds that there are more tables, fountains, and pouf cushions this time around. There are also more colorfully-embellished lamps, from 50 pieces last year to double the number this year.
Rustan’s Makati’s fifth floor transported guests from festival partners HSBC, Ralph’s Wines & Spirits, and Adventure International Tours, Inc. present at the exclusive opening event to Morocco with its elaborately styled setup, replete with servers dressed in Moroccan fashion, food in pattern-intricate plates, and Moroccan mint tea in traditional tea cups.
A standout display is a recreation of the famous Majorelle Garden. Clad in the garden’s signature Majorelle blue color, the mini presentation of the Yves Saint-Laurent-owned property is an instant trip to Morocco.
The rest of the festival features other carefully styled home items curated from the souks and boutiques from the Morocco capital, including colorful tea sets, plates, bowls, saucers, and their national treasure, tagines. Handcrafted rugs and carpets featuring ornate Arabic designs in a wide array of colors are also available.
[It] promises a convenient yet immersive experience of Marrakech, the Moroccan capital.
One’s closet can come alive, too, with comfortable yet luxe bejeweled shawls, slipper, kaftans, and D’jellaba.
Pure Argan oil, harvested straight from the heart of Morocco’s desert, is also available at the festival. Known as “liquid gold,” the oil is known for its beautifying benefits, such as providing moisture, repairing damaged skin, reducing the visibility of wrinkles, treating acne, protecting against stretch marks, and conditioning the hair.
Making this year’s run of the Moroccan Festival more special is a culinary presentation at the soonto-open Cafe Casablanca. Authentic Moroccan chef Rachida Bousta will head the food-tasting experience through a lunch buffet and a la carte dinner. From spiced lamb and beef roasts to sweet and nutty desserts, the dishes orchestrate a trip to Morocco via the taste buds.
“He (Bousta) has done Moroccan food in Dubai and other places and they’ll be here for about six months,” beams Tantoco. “We hope [the diners] will approve of it.”
Renowned restaurateur and hotelier Happy Ongpauco-Tiu will also share her how-tos in hosting a Moroccan-inspired spread in the comfort of one’s own kitchen. Happening on Aug. 27, the intimate and handson workshop will be exclusive to HSBC premier card holders.
Also bringing the vibrant mood and spirit of Moroccan culture is a belly dancing performance on Aug. 31.
Interested travelers smitten by the beauty of the destination can also book a first-class flight to Morocco on 0 percent installment for up to nine months on tour packages in the festival on Aug. 24 and 25 through Adventure International Tours, Inc.
While the second Moroccan Festival has only begun, Tantoco is already eyeing a third run next year. “I was going to limit the festival to a corner, but seeing the demand, we decided to go bigger,” she says. “We don’t know what we’ll do yet but if this becomes successful, we can have a part three to the festival.”