Sarah Lahbati is the cover of Esquire November 2016

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On a lark, I decided to subscribe to Esquire Philippines. I used to be a faithful reader, beginning its first issue, when I trekked the entire avenue of Espana after catching a glimpse of its maiden issue on a drive back to my office, which was then located across the University of Santo Tomas. It was days ahead of its planned release in bookstores, so I made the effort to walk and search for the magazine stand I found it in.

I fell in love with the first few issues, but I was also reading Rogue. I preferred Rogue‘s voice, content, and layout, as opposed to Esquire‘s cluttered design. To be fair, I found most magazines cluttered after being introduced to Rogue’s clean layout. I also didn’t like how Esquire published a lot of stories from its US counterpart, some of which didn’t affect me as a Filipino. So I stopped reading the magazine.

But lately, I noticed that Rogue was becoming out of touch with its Filipino audience. I was growing alienated with their content, and even considered not renewing my subscription. That same day, I subscribed to Esquire. It was the best decision of my week.

Recently, Kristine Fonacier replaced founding editor Erwin Romulo as the editor-in-chief of the magazine. I found it interesting and impressive that a woman was leading a men’s magazine. I haven’t read enough issues to notice how this affected the magazine, but I loved its November issue with Sarah Lahbati on the cover.

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Esquire Philippine‘s November 2016 issue focuses on food, so the cover has a suggestive photo of Lahbati with a raw egg on her chest. Her editorial inside, shot by Edric Chen, has the actress posing with other types of food, including my favorite shot, which has her face drenched in red, possibly by raspberries. The story, written by Audrey Carpio, showed an intriguing side to Lahbati, who seems like the kind of girl who marches to the beat of her own drum.

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This month’s Man at His Best feature is of Dr. Natasha Reyes (another woman!), who shares details of her fascinating life as the emergency coordinator of Doctors Without Borders. She tells stories of working in Liberia at the height of the ebola crisis and in Western Visayas after Typhoon Yolanda.

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There’s also an amusing article by Kevin Sintumuang about the rise of emojis and how it’s slowly integrating itself in our communications. I still haven’t gotten the hang of using emojis so I felt terribly old.

For its Notes and Essays, managing editor Patricia Barcelon (another woman!) links food to memory, saying that it took her 10 years to master baked macaroni, because she was after the memory of her childhood.

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Food writer Clinton Palanca proposed how we can put Filipino food on the global stage: by not caring so much. This is accompanied by a thought-provoking article by Gerardo Jimenez pointing out that we should support farmers to sustain this growing interest in our cuisine.

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The magazine invited three writers to write about their sensual relationship with food, and while I enjoyed it, the highlight was the series of provocative food photos by Gabby Cantero.

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Near the end of the magazine, three writers wrote a series of articles about the Duterte administration. Despite reaching my saturation point with local politics, I liked reading them because it was balanced: there was one applauding the administration, one criticizing it, and another giving tips on how we can survive this rollercoaster ride.

Esquire Philippines’ November 2016 issue was a fun read, and I’m looking forward to the next few issues. The only thought left is, “Why did I leave in the first place?”

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