25 Jun2010


My grandfather was a sharp dresser. He would go to court or his law office in off-white linen suits and a hat, and when he came home for his lunch and “siesta” he would pen notes in flowing handwriting at his desk, using one of several incredible fountain pens. See Lolo’s penmanship in this 50 year old passport. He also had a pretty cool leather attache case, if I recall correctly. And several flip top pocket watches on chains. My father was far less adept in the clothing department, but he kept up the tradition of fountain pens and beautiful penmanship. He also seemed to have a fantastic selection of small leather goods — agendas, notepads, billfolds or wallets and an insanely large collection of attache cases. So maybe you could say this affinity for the finer things is somewhat genetic. While I don’t wear linen suits these days, I have a huge number of linen shirts ad pants, several panama hats (that aren’t worn as much as they should be), a few nice pens, and a lot of small leather accessories.


When we go on family vacations, or extended trips, the small leather goods almost always come along for the journey. They are very well travelled doodads. If you are an animal activist and upset by exotic skins, leave this post now! So what are you likely to find in Marketman’s carry on bag? The large dark green zippered leather travel organizer on the left holds tickets, airline frequent flier cards and currency. On top of it, a blue ostrich skin passport cover keeps my three stapled passports together. To the right, my favorite notepad on which I jot travel expenses and keep track of remaining funds. It was a birthday present from Mrs. MM over 10 years ago and sports a dark blue leather outer cover with green stitching and inside, the leather is green. Despite dozens and dozens of trips, it still looks as good as new. I got Mrs. MM the same notepad with different colors of leather and she loves it too. On top of that in a light shade of blue is a leather picture frame, also a gift from Mrs. MM. It has a picture of her and one of the Teen, and they come with me everywhere. This was particularly wonderful when I used to travel for weeks on end for work. To the right of those pieces, is a medium-sized orange leather cover that houses cheap but functional notebooks from Muji or other paper suppliers. I tend to use one notebook for each trip to jot down notes for the blog and future food experiments. When I get home, I then have the notes in one place, though I have to admit I am less organized than that makes it sound. I often forget to jot notes for days on end! On top of that, a smaller black wallet in lizard skin. I only take essential cards and identification on long trips so I don’t need a large wallet. Below that in the photo is a long black leather chequebook case. On top of that, another notepad and credit card/calling card case in dark green crocodile from Florence, a Father’s Day gift three years ago from Mrs. MM and the Teen. Crocodile leather is the pinnacle of exotic skins for me, and I don’t fret because they are farm raised. To the right is another, bulkier notebook or sketch pad. On super long trips I bring both the orange notebook and this one. This one is in dark blue and with very supple thin leather, smooth on the outside and suede finish on the inside. The sketch pad is made of almost onion skin thin paper and I like to jot recipes, notes, etc. on that as well. Finally, on top of that, a nearly 20 year old dark caramel colored lizard skin pen case from Paris which protects a fountain pen that my mom gave me as a graduation present from college nearly 25 years ago… Just in case you haven’t started flailing your arms in the air screeching about political incorrectness, I also have tucked away somewhere a deerskin wallet (SO supple), pigskin cufflinks cases, shagreen watch boxes, etc. :)


Also in my hand carry bag are the following: several clear plastic folders that neatly organize travel itineraries, hotel reservations, email confirmations, etc. An international driver’s license. Sunglasses, don’t forget the sunglasses. A recent issue of Saveur, this one “The Market Issue” — can’t get more appropriate than that. My spicy sampaloc and champoy are also a must. A zip up case to stuff all of the receipts and paperwork as the trip progresses. And a brainless paperback novel for long legs of transpacific or transatlantic flights. Not pictured, but also essential are my camera, laptop, tape measure and cut out shapes of people’s feet who have made bilin shoes… :)


Finally, I am probably one of the last holdouts for a non-wheeled carry-on bag… Despite the weight and bother required to go long trips while lugging some 12+ pounds of hand carried baggage around, I still prefer my old-fashioned style bag to the new-fangled, retractable-handled, multi- wheeled monstrosities that are extremely common these days. No offense to the practical readers/travelers among you, but this is just my personal opinion. Oh, and a note on extravagance, luxury and durability. Unlike cellphones, ipods and laptops today that have a built-in obsolescence of about 2 years, my leather goods above will easily last 15+ years on average. They represent a dying breed of craftsmanship, fine materials, supple hand-feel that modern day gadgets (even the stunning looking new iphone4) just don’t possess for me. And better yet, each one has a memorable story of where it was acquired, who gave it as a present, and which places on the planet it has managed to visit. I hope the Teen will carry on the family “tradition” for such essential non-essentials… :)



  1. mayz says:

    big fountainpen buff here — is that a duofold?

    Jun 25, 2010 | 6:51 am


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  3. Chito Limson says:

    Nice to see you here, MayZ. I do believe it’s a modern Duofold garnet marble in the Centennial size, judging by the thin/wide gold bands on the cap. Besides, this color wasn’t issued in the smaller International size.

    Mr. MarketManila, let me tell you about our group, Fountain Pen Network – Philippines. It’s a growing aggrupation of fanciers, collectors, writers and users of pens, inks and paper. As you may deduce, we are not tree-huggers because of our inordinate love for paper. Please visit our Yahoo! Group and do take note of the meeting schedules – we practically meet once a month – you may find a schedule when you can drop by to look/see and you’ll always be welcome to join. We also have a British member who’s stationed in Cebu City.

    If you’re interested to see what we look like and what pens we have, please visit the following URLs:


    Jun 25, 2010 | 8:02 am

  4. Footloose says:

    Woody Allen has one of those antique pocket watches complete with fob which he claims his grandfather, on his death bed, sold to him.

    There was a long period in the sixties and seventies when most Filipino globe trotters could be identified with the shoulder-strap travel bags emblazoned with logos of airlines that are now extinct they toted around. Nowadays you can easily spot them saddled with backpacks like ninja turtles. In check-in lines, one can accurately guess Philippine destination when you see passengers ministering to one or two Balikbayan or Pampers boxes. I referred to these before as our own matching luggage.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 8:07 am

  5. Betchay says:

    You are exuding with style,old soul!
    Sadly, I guess,because of all the airport restrictions and security checks nowadays,most people dressed down when travelling….shorts,flip flops,etc. Or just maybe the world has gotten smaller….you can have lunch in HK and be back the same day! And travelling is no longer exclusive to the affluents.
    Old photos of my mom and dad on their first trips abroad showed how dressed to nines they were back then. Times have changed.Comfort first before style but nice to know that they can still go hand in hand.Thanks MM for making us privy to your travel accessories!

    Jun 25, 2010 | 8:19 am

  6. Mom-Friday says:

    That ostrich and croc skin holders are so exquisite!
    I once fancied a stingray leather wallet and came to appreciate more exotic skins as I had the chance to actually see, feel and SMELL rolls of genuine leather hide at a tour of Mc Jim leather factory in QC (a popular local brand of leather goods).

    Jun 25, 2010 | 8:33 am

  7. tna says:

    MM, I could live in your hand carry bag! I l LOVE everything in it. Stuff like that I could spend hours poring over (maybe there’s a name for this fascination) …and the bag itself….oh, I am at a loss for words.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 8:51 am

  8. Jason says:

    MM i loved the book, it’s a fantastic read. I am sad to say however, I am part of the population with the wheeled carry on bags. I love your travel style, very old world.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 10:09 am

  9. joyce says:

    love this entry. i have a weakness for small leather goods as well and am willing to shell out more money for a well-made piece. leather goods get better with age and i agree that the tactile aspect of it is what makes it worth it. although i must admit i don’t bring as much stuff as you do ;P i pared down to the basics on my last trip out anticipating that i would be shopping a lot. maybe i should check out muji today after work for their notebooks.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 10:12 am

  10. joyce says:

    by the way, if you don’t mind me asking where did you buy your murse (man+purse hehe)? it looks stylish and sturdy!

    Jun 25, 2010 | 10:17 am

  11. Eden Claire says:

    MM, been reading your blog for some time now. My appreciation for food is very basic, but I found your site very appealing. This introduced me to more palatable explores for the taste buds :)

    Jun 25, 2010 | 11:14 am

  12. Karina says:

    This was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. :)

    Jun 25, 2010 | 12:10 pm

  13. Nina says:

    ………my three stapled passports together. MM, is there any reason why you have 3 passports stapled together? Just curious, coz here in the US once your passport is filled up, they punched holes into it and then give you a new one which you then use for future travel.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 12:20 pm

  14. Tony says:

    I also have two beautiful leather pen cases. One I bought in Paris at Galleries Lafayette. In French it is called une etuie. This was after lunch at the Cafe de la Paix in Place de l’Opera, always makes me spend more than I should. At the same time I bought a superb Dunhill cigar scissor cutter. In that case I keep my Cross and Le Must de Cartier pens. I bought the other one at the MontBlanc shop in Pacific Place, Hong Kong, also after lunch at Grappa. Obviously my MontBlanc pens are in there.

    Whenever I travel here or abroad they both go with me.

    Must go shopping before lunch!

    Jun 25, 2010 | 12:30 pm

  15. millet says:

    “cut out shapes of people’s feet who have made bilin shoes… :)”

    hahaha…so it’s not just our family! we grew up being asked from time to time to stand still with one foot one a piece of bond paper while my mom drew the outline of that foot! i did that while my kids were growing up, and to this day, i am insecure buying shoes for somebody and just asking for the shoe size and not having a cut-out to slide into the shoe!

    my dad was a big fountain pen fan. he gave me his treasured parker on my college graduation. mayz and chito, thank you for calling my attention to it again. it’s hidden in one of my closets, and now i feel i must go look for it.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 12:50 pm

  16. Jen says:

    Hi mr. mm!

    I’m a big fan of your blogs. I’m also into cooking and baking, reading your blog on a daily basis really influence me a lot in food prep and buying the best and the freshests ingredients in the market.

    And this entry will really help me to be organized and keen in my personal things.

    Thanks mr. mm!

    Jun 25, 2010 | 1:36 pm

  17. MrsS says:

    You made the right choice MM! Wheeled carry-ons are not actually a smart way to travel. They are much heavier, bulky to carry or drag when you have to catch the bus or train and walk on cobblestone streets.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 2:13 pm

  18. lee says:

    from crisp lechon skin to exquisite and supple leather. Skin is in!

    Jun 25, 2010 | 3:48 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    mayz, sharp eyes, yes it is a Parker Duofold, from a centennial collection that reintroduced the original 100 years after they began making them. I think I got the first one in the 1980’s or so. Chito, how fascinating that there is a group of like minded collectors. I wouldn’t call myself a collector, but I do appreciate fine pens. My grandfather had lots of them, but somehow, they seem to have vanished in the many decades since he passed away… Thanks for the links, will check them out after our current trip. Footloose, for many years I resisted using balikbayan boxes until you realize that they weigh next to nothing and take a whole lot of kitchen equipment back across the oceans… :) Jason, the book was a good read. Have to get his other ones. Joyce, do you mean the passport case? Several leather goods stores carry them. If you mean the suede hand carry bag, it is from Lambertson Truex, a firm that has since gone bankrupt and I regret not getting more of these bags (which also came in black nylon) when they were on serious mark-downs before they closed. It’s quite big, and when fully laden, can carry up to say 25 pounds of stuff… Nina, I have 3 passports together because my live U.S. visa is in an old passport and I have since filled two more passports so I have three stapled together. Until the U.S. visa expires, I have to carry around all three passports. :( Tony, for some reason, I think the French make the best leather pen cases, the best. millet, I have feet cut outs, a card with people’s clothing sizes and a tape measure. :)

    Jun 25, 2010 | 3:56 pm

  20. Connie C says:

    Has any of your precious things dropped out of your murse in your travels, MM?

    So nice that there are still people like you who travel in style. Nowadays, I’d hate to bring anything I’d be afraid to lose, especially at an age where I’d be fumbling for stuff in my bag, especially my eyebrow pencil, ha,ha. Maybe I am just not as organized as you. And not as big and strong, lugging 12 lbs would probably pull my shoulder out of its socket.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 4:53 pm

  21. Connie C says:

    Oh, nice handwriting to match the fine pens, notepads and organizers.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 5:01 pm

  22. Rona Y says:

    @MM–regarding your visa, you may have already investigated it, but normally you can get a visa transferred to a new passport. If you haven’t tried it, call/drop by your US Embassy visa department to check if they’ll do it.

    But things are always different in the Philippines!

    Jun 25, 2010 | 7:38 pm

  23. Lava Bien says:

    I still carry my big back pack as check in,and no it’s not the school back pack kind. It’s one of those nice once, just plain black though not the noisy colors they have today. Hmmm.. and custom almost always ask if I were a military man hehehehehe. I think its my guns and shoulders hehehehehe

    Jun 25, 2010 | 9:21 pm

  24. NewYorker says:

    Beautiful collection of leather goods.

    Jun 25, 2010 | 11:47 pm

  25. roland says:

    MM – I love it brother! Right out of college my wife purchased me the same stuff but I never got into the habit of using them. Now with all the smart phones and computers, they are even pushed aside even more. But when I do get the opportunity the trusty old leather padfolio gets plenty of exposure (during client or vendor visits and meetings. I am a ball point man – so the Cross Morph has been my fave for the last decade – but I do love your attention to detail. Another thing that has gone by the wayside was my travel picture frame – somehow the laptop slideshow screen saver replaced that. Dang electronics! they seem so lifeless when I think about it!

    Jun 26, 2010 | 12:29 am

  26. roland says:

    sorry to be nosy — but interesting list – i can make out – saffron something, sports socks, deodorant, vanilla?, shoe polish, tennis shoes, brown belt — the rest i cannot read – travel safe MM

    Jun 26, 2010 | 12:34 am

  27. obot says:

    hi MM

    and when will we see a glimpse of your handwriting?


    Jun 26, 2010 | 1:35 pm

  28. arlene says:

    Hi marketman,
    wow, very nice collection indeed….. I need those green organizer and passport holder, where can i get them… We travel a lot and I have kids, If you dont mind may I ask where you get them? i tried looking at some leather store here in manila but it doesnt look as nice as what you have…. hehehe

    Jun 26, 2010 | 1:48 pm

  29. Mandy says:

    Such a beautiful bag there you got, MM. I love leather too. I love the smell of leather–I sniff my new items when I get them. Heehee. I don’t have the same budget as you do, so I usually get my small leather accessories from Fino. I try to catch them when they’re on sale. :) My croc stamped coin purse is like almost 10 years old & it’s still great. :)

    Jun 26, 2010 | 2:06 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    Mandy, fino has some great stuff, we get some items there too. arlene, the green organizer is in leather, from a store in the U.S., but several travel stores or leather goods shops might have something similar, including Fino at large Manila malls. The passport case was on super sale at a Parisian stationery store last year. Again, we have purchased nice passport cases from $7 (just this afternoon in Morocco) to sky’s the limit…

    Jun 27, 2010 | 2:41 am

  31. Marketman says:

    roland, OMG, I didn’t realize you would be able to read the list. It is a real one. :) Farro grains is first on the list, along with other ingredients I need to stock up on, got saffron in Spain. Deodorant because I have a favorite one and buy several sticks once a year or so… silver polish, not shoe polish, because it is so expensive and hard to find in Manila. :)

    Jun 27, 2010 | 2:45 am

  32. quiapo says:

    Georg Jensen makes metallic passort cases which are elegant and virtually indestructible. I know it doesnt have the feel and aroma of fine leather but its an interesting alternative if you travel a lot.

    Jun 27, 2010 | 8:05 am

  33. connie says:

    Very impressive leather collection but above all that can’t help noticing Steig Larsson’s book. :D

    Jun 27, 2010 | 9:24 am

  34. Virgie says:

    the last two items on MM’s list: tennis shoes and brown belt?

    Jun 28, 2010 | 4:07 pm

  35. esther says:

    A somewhat fashion post from MM? Absolutely wonderful! tres chic!

    Jun 29, 2010 | 9:55 am

  36. Rhea says:


    I use your blog to keep notes & tabs for my future travels!

    Anyways, would like to ask where I could get the international driver’s license? Is it LTO? or any other special office?

    Thank you :)

    Aug 11, 2010 | 9:55 pm


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