Jose Antonio in one of his photo expeditions
Joey Antonio sleeps on floor of Korean monastery, enjoys Harbin at minus 27 degree winter & other travel photo adventures
WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2019 - 12:00am

How does an adventure-loving and artistically-inclined billionaire businessman de-stress, unwind and vacation?

Now at the peak of his business career as accomplished realty developer and of his avocation travel photography, the 73-year-old Century Properties Group founder and executive chairman, ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s special envoy to China and now President Rody R. Duterte’s special envoy to the US, Ambassador Jose “Joey” E. B. Antonio has just achieved another new milestone by combining his passions for travel and photography.

On Nov. 21, Joey Antonio unveiled his first ever solo travel photography exhibit entitled “Across the Continents: A Travelogue Series” at the newly-opened Antonio Gallery in Sky Loft on the fourth floor of his Century City Mall in Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City. 

Proceeds from the travel photo exhibit sale and venue fees will be donated by the J. Antonio Foundation to two charities: Operation Smile Philippines and Haven for the Elderly (formerly known as Golden Acres Home for the Aged).

In the past, as an active member of the Camera Club of the Philippines and Leica Club Manila, Antonio has contributed entries and works for exhibition. He also previously shared his photos with friends and kin through an annual postcard collection called “Travelogue.” Antonio revealed that he has no favorite photographers or inspirations, but he is grateful to compete with and learn from the Philippines’ best master photographers.

Het toured this writer through his artistic, refreshingly original 30 photos of sceneries and experiences from his travels and National Geographic-style expeditions across Asia, North and South America and Europe Excerpts:

Philippine Star: How many years have you been engaged in photography as a hobby?

Joey Antonio: About eight to 10 years, when I started to take photography seriously.

What are the cameras you’re now using?

I use a Hasselblad X1D2, a Leica S, a Leica SL, a Fuji GFX 50R and my mobile phone Huawei P30 which has tri-camera setup that combines 40-megapixel wide-angle, 16-megapixel ultra-wide and 8-megapixel telephoto sensors on its back. Huawei has one of the world’s best smartphones.

What was the first camera that you used when you were beginning?

I first used a Canon DSLR camera.

How did you get into this hobby of photography, specifically travel photography?

Traveling is my passion. My wife Hilda Reyes Antonio would often comment and ask: “How come I don’t get to see our travel photos?” Since then, I started taking a lot of pictures as a way to document our travel adventures and vacations, until it became a serious hobby.

Among these 30 pictures for your first solo exhibit, what are the most memorable?

Look at this picture, taken in Harbin City in northeast China, where I brought my whole family for a vacation in December. The winter there is really very cold; it was minus 27 degree centigrade when we went there! 

Monk Ringing Temple Bell, South Korea

Look at this photo of a South Korean Buddhist monk on the stone bridge. They had offered me the unique privilege of sleeping overnight at their monastery, and I slept on the floor, without a mattress!

Waterfalls and Rainbows, Iceland

How many nights did you spend there? In what part of South Korea was that Buddhist monastery?

Only one night! (Antonio and his wife Hilda laugh heartily.) It was in a place near Jeju Island.

You’ve been to so many countries and cities around the globe for your travels and photography, what three places on earth are still on your dream list to vacation and take your finest pictures?

Winter in Lake Placid, New York, USA

My top three dream places to travel to and to photograph are, first, Antartica; second, Patagonia in the southern end of South America, shared by both Chile and Argentina; and third, possibly some exotic city in China.

Which photos in your exhibit do you consider special? Why?

Yick Fat Bldg, Hong Kong

The two photos that I consider most directly related to me are those of the Louvre in Paris, with the famous pyramid designed by the world’s late, greatest architect I.M. Pei, who also designed our Essensa condominium project. The second photo is a New York City scene with the “Trump Tower” sign, because US President Donald Trump partnered with our family for our Trump Tower Manila project.

Jackie and Marco Antonio with kids Devon and Tali, Hilda Reyes Antonio, Century Properties Group founder and executive chairman Jose E.B. Antonio, Jigger Antonio, Cat Antonio and Carlo Antonio

(Author’s Note: Joey Antonio partnered with then-realty developer Donald Trump for the licensing of Century Properties Group’s upscale, 57-story Trump Tower Manila residential condominium project in Makati City. The New York Times reported that Century Properties paid $5 million in licensing rights for Trump Tower Manila.)

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Thanks for your feedback at willsoonflourish@gmail.com! Follow @wilsonleeflores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Buy PhilSTAR’s Tagalog tabloid “Pilipino STAR Ngayon” every Friday and read my column “Kuwentong Panadero.” Read also https://investment.fwd.com.ph/experts/asia-s-business-leaders-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them.

JOEY ANTONIO JOEY ANTONIO PHOTOGRAPHY
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