Category Archives: Frugal Living

La BUSA Italian Restaurant & Bar, Newly Opened Hangout Place for Italian Food Lovers

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Namesign

La Busa Italian Restaurant Lahug near JYMall

Last night I went to La BUSA Italian Restaurant & Bar with my CBSi pals to check out the newly opened place.  We were entertained by Stefano Quaquarelli, the chef and owner of the resto.  We had a good time checking their menu while catching up with each other.

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Cebu Bloggers Society Members 2

La BUSA is located at the ground floor of  Tsai Hotel and Residences.  It is a few walks away from JY Square Mall in Lahug.

Highly Recommended Courses in the Menu

Chef Stefanno assured us that all foods in their menu are cooked from fresh ingredients.  He goes to the market daily to buy them.  I assume that the restaurant is a family business because he is running it along with his mom.  The two of them were quite busy in the kitchen when we arrived.

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Braciola Di Maiale Pan Seared Pork Chop with Saute Beans

Braciola Di Maiale Pan Seared Pork Chop with Saute Beans – definitely a must try.

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Lasagna Classic Italian Recipe

Lasagna Classic Italian Recipe – nothing can go wrong with this one.

Highly Recommended Desserts

All their desserts are super yummy.  Unfortunately, I haven’t tasted their Panna Cotta because they run out of ingredients. ):

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Tiramisu

Tiramisu

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu -  Cheesecake

Cheese Cake in a Glass

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Apple Pie

Apple Pie

The Interior

La Busa Italian Restaurant Lahug Cebu City

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Drink List

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Interior

Menu and Prices

Compared to other Italian restaurants, La BUSA has more reasonable prices and much much cheaper than Italiannis in Ayala Terraces.  Click image below to clearly see the menu.

La Busa Italian Restaurant Cebu - Menu with Prices

About Chef Stefano Quaquarelli

Chef Stefanno of La BUSA Italian Restaurant and Bar Lahug Cebu

Chef Stefanno has worked in various Italian restaurants in China such as La Bettola, La Bottega, Frantoi Celletti, and Gisa Italian Restaurant.  He started the pre-opening of La BUSA on July this year and looks forward for its official public launching soon.

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Shogun Suite Hotel, Manila – Not Worth It, Shady Surroundings

Shogun Suite Hotel Manila Mural at Reception Area
Reception Area

Reception Area

The title of this blog post summarizes my overall impression of this “budget” hotel.  I was totally not pleased because they charge higher room rates but the service and accommodation are not good.  Also, I can’t disregard the fact that their rooms are stuffy and dusty.  That feeling when you entered a room and what you expected is the contrary.  Don’t trust the room photos they featured in Agoda.  They don’t look and feel the same.

Family Standard Room

Family Standard Room

Though, my overall review is negative, still I don’t want to disregard the positive things I experienced while staying there.  Thus, I’ll start my official review by enumerating the pros and then the cons.

The Good Stuff

One of the main reasons why I decided to book in there was the promise of a rooftop pool.  This can be categorize as part of the good stuff but honestly, their mini rooftop pool never impresses me.  It’s a so-so.  Perhaps, one of the good things about it is it’s centrally located.  Their breakfast buffet is also good with an ample variety of dishes.  Their reception and lobby area are decorated with a mural that has to do with Chinese warriors.  Other than these, I can’t think of any thing good about it.  Unfortunately, I got a lot of negative things to say.

The Bad Stuff

I booked a Standard Family room and it costs UDS52.45 per night.  As a budget traveler, this is already expensive but I thought the rate is reasonable because it’s a big room that is good for 4 people and breakfast for 2 is already free.  But, all my expectations crumbled to pieces when we arrived.  We were greeted with a shady hotel surroundings (the ambiance outside the hotel is worse than Colon Street area), the room is dusty and stuffy, the furniture inside it badly need some repairs, the air-condition unit is not working properly, body massage rate is too expensive, check-in and check-out is kinda slow, and pool at the rooftop is not well-maintained.

Total Cost

Waiting Area

Waiting Area

We stayed there for 2 nights and we paid a total of USD104.90.  This rate can actually make me afford a 4-night accommodation in another budget hotel minus all the bad stuff.  Thus, I’m strongly not recommending this hotel to everyone, especially for my fellow budget travelers.  Budget means you get the quality you want at an affordable cost.  Quality should always be the priority.

Location

Lobby

Lobby

Shogun Suite Hotel is located at 2867 Zamora Street, Rotonda, Manila.  You can just search in Agoda and you’ll get the exact details of its location using the map they provided.

Conclusion

Though my review is mostly negative, the truth is, we still had a great time staying there.  All the bad stuff were ignored because we spent most of our time outside, exploring and discovering the city.

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Bacolod’s The Ruins – Picturesque Burnt Remains of aTragic Past

The Ruins in the backdrop.

The Ruins in the backdrop.

In the midst of a vast sugar cane plantation, there lay a stunning panoramic European structure, a non-living witness of a violent past that will be remembered forever in history.

The burnt remains of  Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson’s grand mansion is now a famous tourist spot in Talisay City, Bacolod.

Tagged as the largest residential mansion built before the World War II era, The Ruins is now just a pale reflection of the 903 square meter structure that was once a symbol of wealth and abundance.

The Violent History

Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a known sugar baron in the 1900’s, built the mansion for his first wife, and it became a home for their unmarried children. When World War II broke out, the guerrillas decided to burn it to stop Japanese invaders from utilizing it as their headquarters.

Another version of the story is that, Don Mariano went mad after the death of his first wife and burned the mansion himself. This is actually just a rumor to put a romantic twist to the whole story.  But, whichever version you want to believe, it was told that it took several days before most of the mansion’s parts were burned down.

How Much is the Entrance Fee?

When we went there last year, they only charged us Php60 per person.  There are discounts for students and children though but we didn’t bother to ask.

How to Get There?

Panoramic view.

Panoramic view.

Here’s an accurate direction they provided on their official website.

Proceed to Bata (PEPSI bottling plant) and turn east. About 600 meters, you will see a cellsite above a 2 story building on the left. Opposite that building you will see a big sign that says “THIS WAY TO THE RUINS”. You will enter that narrow street leading to Rose Lawn Memorial Garden. Follow the small red and yellow signs on the electrical posts which will lead you all the way to The RUINS.

 Note: This is part 2 of my Bacolod Post series.  Part 1 here.

References:
http://bacolodtheruins.blogspot.com
https://ph.news.yahoo.com/get-a-history-lesson-from-the-ruins-055716537.html
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Grand C Hotel – Value for Money, Not Ideal for Meticulous Travelers #CheapTraveltoSingapore

Grand C Hotel Singapore small private room

Singapore is indeed a very expensive city.  But, I did manage to travel there (with my hubby) on a “budget”.  One of the difficult things I had to do before our trip was the search for the most affordable room.  Since my hubby doesn’t want us to check-in in motels or dormitory type inns, I had to look for a hotel that has private rooms.

Grand C Hotel at 165 Kitchener’s Road

Photo Credit: Agoda.com

In Agoda, this hotel only garnered a 5.9 (above average) rating.  This is really too low considering that I have never booked a hotel here in our country with ratings lower than 6.0.  I tried to look for hotels with higher ratings but they are just too expensive.  There are cheaper ones but they are mostly located in Geylang, a known red light district in Singapore. Thus, I have no other choice but to book for Grand C Hotel (4 nights & 5 days).  In most cases, I would never book for one if most of the reviews in Agoda are negative, but I just had to because I can’t find any other options that are more affordable.

The Good Stuff

This is how our small room look like.

This is how our small room look like.

Booking in Grand C Hotel means value for money, central location, very fast WiFi connection, and good service (in my case, I met a very friendly grandpa staff who took good care of our room and things for 5 days).  Value for money because you get what you’ve paid for (Singapore standard).  Centrally located because it’s walking distance from Farrer Park (train station), Metro City Square and Mustafa malls, and there are a lot of small restaurants surrounding the area, thus you can easily grab foods whenever you’re hungry.

Grand C Hotel Singapore small private room

I was very happy with the excellent speed of their WiFi connection, considering that they are the cheapest of cheapest hotels in the area.  And, of course, I had a chance knowing a local Singaporean through the very friendly maintenance grandpa who are fond of chitchatting.

The Bad Stuff

Carpeted floor

Carpeted floor

If you are very meticulous when it comes to cleanliness, then this is not the hotel for you.  If you hate small rooms and the smell of herbs, then don’t stay in this hotel.  If you like to be treated like a VIP, then stay away from Grand C Hotel.  In short, this hotel is ideal for backpackers and travelers who only stay in a hotel to sleep.

A view from the lobby's window.

A view from the lobby’s window.

Don’t expect extra frills or any kinds of add-on services.  You get what you paid for.  Cheap accommodation in Singapore is not at par in quality when compared to affordable hotels here in our country.  Affordable hotels here in our country offer better accommodation and service  despite the fact that their  rates are around 60% lower than those cheap ones in SG.

The Cost

The very friendly grandpa hotel staff.

The very friendly grandpa hotel staff.

We stayed in Grand C Hotel for 5 days and 4 nights (Superior Room – No Window) but most of the time, we only slept there.  We spent most of our time outside sight-seeing and discovering the wonders of the small city.  For our 4-night accommodation, we paid a total of USD201.76 ( or Php8,675.68).  This is definitely the cheapest of the cheapest (and I’m not exaggerating on this).  For regular hotels, you have to pay USD200 plus per night.  At Grand C Hotel, we only paid USD50.44 per night.  And take note that I got this deal because Agoda had a 50% promo.  So this means that the original rate is USD100.88.   Here in our country, you can already book a 3 to 4 stars hotel for that amount.

Conclusion

Would I go back to Grand C Hotel if I will travel back to SG sometime in the future? Yes.  Despite the cons, I still feel that the pros outweigh the bad stuff.  I highly recommend this to fellow budget travelers.

Have you’ve been to this hotel? Share your experience and reviews by commenting below.  Ciao!

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A Visit to the Farm – Toledo, Cebu #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 7 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

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WellCome – A Budget Hotel with a Rooftop Pool #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 6 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

SAM_4804

More about WellCome at www.wellcomehotel.com.

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Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Most people believe that traveling with kids is an extraordinarily expensive and strenuous affair since you will have to pay more and spend most of your time watching their every move. As such, they would rather leave their children with a nanny or a trusted friend than travel with them to their holiday destination. It is however important to note that holidays can be fun even with your children present as long as you consider several important factors when planning the holiday. Some of these include:

Research about your destination

Since you have kids on board, research on destinations that would not only be fun for you as an adult, but also your children. In this case, you can’t afford to miss popular theme parks, color pools and slides, white sand beaches, and the famous Jungle Island, which your kids would surely love.

Pre-travel considerations

If you are traveling with your children and other adults, discuss what destinations can cover the interests of everyone on board, including the children, and agree on how you will split chores and take time looking after the children.

Travel safety

When traveling with children on a plane, make sure they get safety seats or wear safety belts. Also, do not leave the children alone in a car.

Children with special needs 

If you have children with special needs, speak to parents whose children have similar conditions and try and find useful travel tips. You can also research about this online. You should invest in bracelets or jewellery that indicate a child’s medical condition if any, treatment and their doctor’s name in case of emergencies. The same applies for anyone with allergies.

Accommodation

Whether you have booked a hotel or opted for self-catering accommodation, always have toys for your children to play with. If you are looking to book a hotel, always check for special family discounts including free meals for children. Also scan the hotel room for any potential hazards and eliminate them.

Allow flexibility

Basically, you can never plan too much time for meals and national parks. Always feel free to extend time in the park or forest to ensure you don’t miss anything. As for the kids, always ensure that they are in a safe place. For example, if you are in a place like the Serengeti in Africa, they should always be in the car as it is dangerous even for adults to veer away from their vehicles.

Summary

Holiday breaks won’t be complete if the kids won’t tag along. It should be noted also that traveling with kids can be fun and hassle-free if you’ll consider the tips and pointers that are mentioned above. With the right precautionary measures, your trip will be fruitful, memorable, and enjoyable.

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How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

For too many people, going on a dream vacation can feel like an unattainable goal. While it would be amazing to travel to exotic destinations like Thailand, Australia, Singapore or Jamaica, many of us think that we would never be able to save up enough money to travel to these places comfortably, even if we were able to score last minute vacation packages. After all, most of us have mortgages, tuition payments and other assorted bills to worry about.

How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

Night shot of Marina Bay during our Singapore trip – December of last year.

Thankfully, this line of reasoning is completely wrong. You can go on that dream vacation, but it will require giving yourself a year’s time to plan and save accordingly. Here are some tips on how to save money during the year to go on your dream vacation.

Determine How Much You’ll Need – The first step is to sit down and calculate exactly how much money you’ll need to enjoy your vacation comfortably. While you want to create a figure that you can logically save up in a year’s time, don’t budget too much. After all, you want to have enough funds to truly enjoy your dream vacation.

Create a Plan – Once you’ve determined how much you’ll need, you simply need to create a plan determining how much and how often you’ll put money into your vacation savings. This is as simple as dividing your total amount by 12, the number of months in a year, or 52, the number of weeks. It’s a good idea to create a savings account for your vacation money. This way, you won’t be tempted to dip into it.

Stick To Your Plan – The most important aspect of saving for a dream vacation is really sticking to your plan. It will be tempting to dip into your vacation savings for little purchases throughout the year, especially around the holidays. However, sticking to your vacation savings plan will be something that you thank yourself for once the time for your dream vacation comes.

Get the whole family involved in this year of vacation saving. This is a great way to teach your kids about the benefits and rewards that come with diligently saving money. If you create a year-long plan and stick to it, you’ll thank yourself when it comes time to fly away to the destination that you’ve always dreamed of visiting.

 

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MOA IMAX Theater Lounge Area Manila #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 5 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (: 

998923_10151554770816951_1455272944_n        Cool and sleek red lounge pods.

Giant Coca-cola cap and Big big pop corn.

The ever beautiful Inday Minette.

The northern part of lounge, and the counter area.

Chiel, the one and only…

More about IMAX Theater at www.imax.com/theatres.

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Mall of Asia Manila #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 4 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

1146513_10151554773771951_98940923_nA close-up photo with Chiel in the telescope.

One of the best views from Mall of Asia.

Inside and outside the mall.

1209436_10151554773281951_54290225_nPanoramic view

More about Mall of Asia at www.smmallofasia.com.

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BE Resorts Mactan Lapulapu Cebu #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 3 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

BE Resort’s Deluxe Room Interior

The Lobby.

Lime Cafe.

Their beach front and the amazing lounge pods.

Amazing beach shots.

Be Resort Mactan Lapulapu Cebu 21And the star of the event, Inday Liana Gail. (:

More about BE Resort at www.beresorts.com.

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Alona Beach Panglao Island Bohol #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

featured pic

Note: This is part 2 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 2

Morning stroll with inday Minette at Alona Beach.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 3

Early morning beach shot.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 4

Testing the water for a quick morning swim.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 5

I was left alone, ruminating by myself.  LOL!

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 6

The beach-lover chick.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 7

Save mother earth. (:

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 8

Afternoon shot by the beach.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 9

Bohol Diver’s Club beach

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 10

Dude at BDC’s beach garden.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol

Morning breakfast with dude at Bohol Diver’s Club.  Their breakfast buffet is yummy!

More about Alona Beach at www.alonabeachguide.com.

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Mt. Manghilao – Danao’s Highest Mountain Peak #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

featured photo

Note: This is part 1 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

Danao Mountain Peak 2

My pretty little sister enjoying the mountain view at the private rest house of Soulmate’s hubby.

Danao Mountain Peak 3

The view from the private rest house.

Danao Mountain Peak 4

The epic carabao pic. In the photo is my younger sister and Chiel, one of my close buddies. (:

Danao Mountain Peak 5

Nice skyline view.  This is the path leading to the private rest house.

Danao Mountain Peak 6

Another shot inside the forest.

Danao Mountain Peak 7

Simply amazing mountain view.

Danao Mountain Peak 8

Some of the people who celebrated mine and Soulmate’s birthday last year.  From left to right: Chiel, me, Soulmate, dude, manash.

Danao Mountain Peak 9

Jeepney ride with my dorky little sister and two of my friends.

Danao Mountain Peak 10

Meditating pose with the birthday girls: me and Soulmate.

Danao Mountain Peak

Sky, mountain, forest.

More info about Mt. Manghilao at www.danaocity.gov.ph/index.php/tourism/mt-manghilao.

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MUJI, a Brandless Japanese Store is now in Cebu

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines

MUJI, an international Japanese lifestyle retail store, opened their first branch in Central Visayas on December 20, 2013.  It is located at the New Wing of Ayala Center Cebu, Level 2.  They offer unbranded yet high quality products and goods that are sold at reasonable prices.

Minimalism and Recycling

All MUJI’s products are manufactured and designed with minimalism and recycling in mind.  From their complete line of household supplies, electronics, furniture, to cosmetics, apparels, food, travel and daily essentials, they focus more in creating functional products with simplistic packaging to reduce waste and help conserve the environment.

MUJI Store in Ayala Center Cebu

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - OutsideOutside the Store

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - TravelTravel Essentials

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FashionMen’s and Ladies’ Garments

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FurnitureFurniture and Household Supplies

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - KitchenKitchen Utensils

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - Educational SuppliesPens, Notebooks and other Stationery Items

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FoodsSnacks, Sweets, Dried Fruits, Popcorn, Instant Drip Coffee and Tea

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - CounterStore Counter

The overall design of their store is in synced with the company’s philosophy that promotes simplicity, green living, and sustainability.

About MUJI

Muji is simply the shorter version of Mujirushi (no brand) Ryohin (quality goods).  The company officially opened its first store in 1983.  The Muji store in Ayala Center Cebu is the very first branch they opened here in the Visayas region.  At the present, they have 205 retail outlets operating all over the globe.  Visit www.muji.net to check out their products online.

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/muji.ph

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MUJI_PH

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Masskara Festival 2013: A Glimpse of the Street Dancing Parade (Photos)

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 14

Because I didn’t find the time to get my media ID from a prominent blogger who offered us an ID pass, I had no choice but to battle my way down to the street dancers.  Starting from the very strong crowd, photography enthusiasts, and down to a group of Caucasians (a foreign TV crew I guess) who dominated the street every time a group of dancers passes by.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 5

At first I was kind of contented just taking photos from afar, but then I thought, I was there to document the event.  It’s just unfair not take some close-up photos.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 18

I easily made my way to a group of local photographers but there’s just something in the crowd that made them hesitate to go near towards the main attraction.  And it’s no other than this group of foreign TV crew who were also covering the street parade.  This group is so domineering.  They have all the lenses and have this very “authoritative air” every time they take their position to get a good shot/video each time the dancers stop by to perform.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 6

Fortunately for me, I didn’t find this group a hindrance at all.  I used their domineering presence to get some good close-up photos.  Every time a new group of dancers stopped by, I immediately positioned myself by their (foreign crew) side.  It was a BREEZE!!! (:

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Having a foreign TV crew by your side is AWESOME!!!! LOL!

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 10

I only took a few photos as the heat of the sun is something that I can’t bear.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 11

All these photos were taken on the 21st of October.  That was on Sunday.  The 3rd of day of our trip there in Bacolod.  More stories of our Bacolod travel in my next blog posts.  For more street parade photos, you may visit my Facebook fanpage.

 

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Kitting Out a New Home on a Budget

Kitting Out a New Home on a Budget

Kitting Out a New Home on a BudgetStarting off in a new home isn’t cheap. Apart from the initial cost of deposits and agency or mortgage fees, you’ll have to stump up the funds to kit out your pad. The good news is, there are lots of money-saving tactics that you can employ in order to keep your spending down.

Shop around

When you’re on the hunt for kitchen appliances and other items, make sure you shop around for both larger white goods and smaller appliances like toasters, kettles and grills. There are lots of deals available online, and by taking a little time and using price comparison sites to review a number of options, you stand a better chance of bagging a bargain.

Go second-hand

Also, it can pay off to opt for second-hand products. These can also be found online auction and ad sites, as well as in charity shops and car boot sales. OK, so these items may not last as long or look as pretty as brand new versions, but they can save you a tidy sum. Of course, before you hand over any money for these items, you’ll need to make sure they work properly.

Free living

You might even be able to get some items for free. There are a growing number of reuse websites in cyberspace where people advertise products ranging from white goods to sofas that they no longer want. As long as you can pick the objects up, they could be yours for nothing.

Comb the sales

Timing is also key. If you stock up on products for your property during sale seasons, you can benefit from impressive value for money. This may mean being patient for a little while, but if big savings are on offer, it could be worth your while.

Kitting your new house or flat out on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to style. Often, it is the inexpensive little extras that help to make living spaces look and feel warm and attractive. Something as simple – and cheap – as adding some new cushions to sofas or placing a fresh bunch of flowers in a vase can bring rooms to life and suddenly make it feel like home.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/4929685747/

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My First Helmet Diving #Boracay2013

Helmet Diving in Boracay 2013

DON’T do Helmet Diving if you have ear and heart problems.  Also, if you have high blood pressure, you are not allowed to do it as it be very risky.

I apologize if I need to emphasize those serious health risks in this blog post.  I was quite unaware of them myself before we arrived in the diving site.  My mother who has high blood pressure was out-rightly prohibited when the diving instructors knew her condition.  Min0tte, on the other hand, tried to dive but she gave up because she experienced unbearable pain in her ears (caused by the pressure from the tank) when she was hoisted down.

The Fun Part

 The great part is the exhilarating experience when you walk underwater, see and feed a colorful school of fishes, and just be awed on how great it is to breathe down there.  See photos below if the video above is not working.

Camera

Camera

Camera

How Much It Cost?

Helmet Diving is one of least expensive activities in Boracay.  We paid Php350.00 per head for 40 minutes.  I managed to get a lesser rate by scouting for prizes first.  The first agent who I met offered Php450.  Note that rates/prizes vary a lot.  If you are a foreigner then the prize is 500% higher.  Frugal Tip: You can haggle for lesser rate if you are in a group of 10 or more.  The more people you are with, the higher chance of getting an affordable rate.

Is it Worth the Cost and Risks?

It’s really worth it but this kind of activity is better done in diving sites with lots of corals and marine sceneries.  If you haven’t tried it yet, be warned that the helmet weigh 25 kilos (but this won’t be a problem anymore once you are underwater) .  Also, you should know how to equalize your breathing when you are hoisted down.  You’ll also experience an initial pain (due to the tank’s pressure) while you are going down to the ocean floor.

I highly recommend this activity to groups as it is more fun feeding fishes together with lots of people around you.  It’s actually unfortunate that Mama and MinOtte weren’t able to join us.  But, nevertheless, it was really a very memorable and fun experience. (:

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Boracay at Night: The Good and the Bad

Boracay at Night

Boracay is tagged as the second best beach destination in the world.  This is already not new to anyone especially among beach bums and tourists alike.  But, for someone like me who grow up in Cebu and had been to its finest beaches, Boracay is not really that super great.  I mean come on.  When it comes to beaches, Sumilon Island here in Cebu is at par, and don’t forget Camotes, Malapascua, and Bantayan Island – these are just a few of Cebu’s best beach destinations.  Also, Panglao Island in Bohol is majestic.  The one thing that makes Boracay a wonder on its own is the never-ending-all-year-round activities that makes you want to come back for more.  And, honestly, that’s the very reason why I’m planning to go back may be next year.

Exploring Boracay on a Budget at Night

The Good

I discovered that the most budget-friendly activity you can do in Boracay is to explore the island by doing a photo-walk during the night.

Boracay at Night

Compared to the “very” costly day-time activities, exploring at night is very friendly to your pocket.  You don’t really need to buy anything.  If you’re a first time tourist, taking photos is definitely a very rewarding and enjoyable activity you can do.

Country Crossing Sign - Boracay Island 2013

While exploring, you can splurge a bit and have a dinner buffet.  In our case, I managed to haggle the per head price, from Php285 per head (for 4) down to Php284 per head (for 3+1).  Yes, I got the 4th person free of charge. I’m that good in haggling. LOL!

Buffet Dinner - Boracay Island 2013

For Php213 per head, we already have a very sumptuous dinner that was composed of poultry meat and sea foods.  And take note, the drinks are bottomless. (; Another note: If you are in a “super” tight budget, you can skip the buffet dinner and just head to Andoks, Mang Inasal, Master Siomai, and a lot more cheaper options.

Band Singing - Boracay Island 2013

After we had our dinner, we were so full that we decided to stroll around.  I found out that there are so many dinner buffet deals ahead of us – the very reason the woman who convinced us to dine in their restaurant tried her best to keep us by giving us a lower rate.  Nice strategy!!

Seafoods Stand - Boracay Island 2013

Compared to other famous beach destinations here in the Philippines, I can say that Boracay has the liveliest night life.

Shakeys - Boracay Island 2013

You will never get hungry because the variety of options is endless.  From fresh sea foods, food stalls, fine dining, fast foods, and yes even a grocery store where you can buy canned goods and rice.

Empress Of Drac - Boracay Island 2013

While strolling, we found some fun ways to take photos.  At the beach side there were a few big photo-shoot studio umbrellas where we got our photos taken.

With Mama - Boracay Island 2013

Farther ahead, we spotted a couple of sand castles.  This one in the photo is not the usual fabulous sand castle I usually see but this is already okay.  Note: After you take your photos, some kids will ask you for a donation.  They are the ones who built the sand castles and they want you to compensate their effort.  You have the choice to just ignore them or just give them at least five pesos.  In my case, I gave them twenty.

With the Dancing Chefs - Boracay Island 2013

One of the best highlights of our long photo-walk session was the dancing chefs.  When we arrived at their dinner buffet area, we noticed a lot of Koreans and other foreigners having a good time taking photos with the restaurant’s chefs.  Who doesn’t want to have a picture taken wearing a chef’s cap?

Minotte and Mama - Boracay Island 2013

Although September is an off-peak season in Boracay, the clubbing life is so alive I would have tried going in a disco area if my mother was not with us.

Tourists at Night - Boracay Island 2013

And this is how the traffic looks like at 10PM.  Tourists had just started to pour in.

The Bad

While on our way back to our hotel, I was astounded when a policeman caught up with us and tried to check the photos I took with my camera.  He asked me if I took photos of “him”.

Police Car - Boracay Island 2013

I was like, really? You Mr. Policeman are overreacting.  I told him that I was only taking a photo of the police vehicle as part of my Boracay documentation.  In our way back to our hotel, we noticed some disturbances when a few policemen were apprehending a drunken tourist.  That’s the time that I noticed a police vehicle and snapped a photo.  It never occurred to me that a policeman in a tourist area would reprimand someone taking photos of her surroundings.

He tried to chitchat with us and asked where we come from and told us that he did the inspection for security purposes.  I was like, really?  They are expecting spies and conspiracies in this bloody island?  I wanted to LOL but at a closer look, I did consider his excuse.  Well, who knows? This can be a good aspect of the island – security.  Still, I really find it friggin’ annoying and unnecessary.  If you are a good policeman, you should know how to assess people.

The Other Side of Boracay Island

And here, I save the best err the worst for last – in my long and previous online researches about Boracay, I never really seen photos like this one that I took.  The results of my online researches all contain beautiful photos of the island – not a hint of the situation that’s being presented in the photo above.

When I passed by this young mother with her children, I can’t helped but realized that in the Philippines, the local/native people are the poorest of the poor.  And it becomes very ironic especially in an island as rich as Boracay – a tourist destination that asks for massive terminal fee, and environmental fees at every entrance gate.  Spell OVERPRICING and SCAMMERS – will write a detailed article about this in my next blog post.

Have you been to Boracay?  Share your experiences, may it be good or bad.  Goodnight. (:

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My Top 3 Remaining Travel Schedules for 2013

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Pitogo Island 2

Sunset Shot with Dude at Pitogo Island

At the end of October, Dude and I, along with Minette, will be moving to Pitogo Island.  We will be basing there temporarily or for good (there’s no final plan yet).  We’ve been planning for this move since early this year.  Dude will be quitting from his office job this October for various reasons but one of them is to have a flexible schedule to travel with me.  One of the reasons of our limited travel trips is his work schedule.  Also, we feel that Toledo City is a hostile place to live in.  It would be a relief to get away from this city. (Will try my best to write a separate post detailing about our misadventures here.)

Pitogo Island

Pitogo Island in front of me

In all honesty, I’m actually hesitant about the prospect of living there (though I fell in love with its scenery and the beauty of the surrounding islets), but this move also has to do with our financial stability.  We feel that we can have more savings living in an island compared to living in a sub-urban area.  Also, we have the peace of mind going to trips and travels knowing that our valuables are in a safe place.

My Travel Schedule for the last quarter of 2013

I write about our moving plan to give a detailed picture on how hectic our schedule would be a few months from now.  Thus between our preparations to move and settle down in an island (this time), we’ll also be inserting in our schedule the remaining travel plans we have for the rest of 2013.

September 6 to 9 – Boracay

Boracay from Boracy Camera Live Screenshot

Screenshot photo from Boracay Live Cam – August 15, 2013 – That’s White Beach!

 Definitely my first time going there!!! I’m sooo bloody excited that I booked our flight and hotel last June.  We’ll go there during those dates to celebrate my mother’s birthday.  Mama will be turning 48 this September and it’s really my long-time plan to bring her to a relaxing vacation because she’s so overworked “nannying” her grand kids plus all the “bone-breaking” work at home.  I really can’t imagine my mother’s hard-work all these years.  I intend to bring papa as well but he refused because there’s no one around to check on my younger sister and her kids (her husband is currently away due to work).

Frugal Tips in Booking a Flight to Boracay - I booked two one-way flights. Booking a round-trip flight would cost you more especially if your flight destination is to Bora.  Luckily, I managed to grab four seats that were on sale.  The base fare is Php399 (per head). (:  In our flight back to Cebu, I booked the Kalibo to Cebu flight to avoid the very costly Caticlan to Cebu fare.  Take note that the Kalibo to Cebu fare is not on sale but it only costs Php588 (excluding all kinds of taxes and fees that would make your head spin).

October 18 to 20 – Bacolod

Masskara Festival Bacolod City

Photo Credit

We’ve been planning to go to Bacolod because it’s just a ferry away from Toledo City.  Fortunately, a friend will also go there during the Masskara Festival.  That friend told me that she knows a very affordable inn there with high speed Wi-Fi.  Soulmate, a close friend of mine, will also come along with us.  Pretty much excited for this. (:

Frugal Tips in Going to Bacolod – If you are base near Toledo City, the best frugal way to go there is via  ferry.  The fare is only Php200 plus.  If you are  from Cebu City, you have the option to travel by ocean jet or via airplane.  Go for airplane if there’s a seat sale but the ocean jets are advisable if you’re on budget.

December 2 to 6 – Singapore

Singapore City

Photo Credit

This is a big year-ender for our 2013 travels.  I just got my passport earlier this month (after almost a year of processing!!).  I’ve chosen those dates because December 5 will be dude’s (my partner) birthday.  We’ve been planning for years to travel abroad together and 2013 is our lucky year.  I feel so lucky (again) because I managed to book a one-way  flight (Cebu – SG) when Cebu Pacific had a promo.  The base fare is Php1, 499.  Usually the base fare (if there’s no promo) is around Php4,000 plus.  I booked a separate flight for SG – Cebu and got a promo fare but it’s quite expensive compared to the latter since it’s priced in Singaporean dollars.  The total cost of the flight including all the taxes and add-on fees (back and forth) is Php7, 700 plus per head.  That’s Php4,000 plus cheaper compared to regular airfare and a round-trip flight.

Frugal Trips in Booking a Flight to Singapore – Never book a round-trip flight unless the airline company announced that they have a round-trip promo which very rarely happens.  Book two separate one-way flights to avoid paying more.

 

Praying and hoping for good weather during these scheduled trips.  I’m so happy that I’m slowly realizing my dreams to travel this year.  I’m looking forward for more trips next year.

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Lapu-lapu SuTukil Resto – A Big Rip Off! #ReviewTuesday

Lapu lapu Sutukil

The day we returned here in Cebu from our Manila trip, dude and I already decided that we’ll eat at Sutukil.  The fact that I’ve already went to Sutukil (a seafood restaurant near Capitol) made me think that we’ll be dining at a nice restaurant with fresh and sumptuous seafood dishes in the menu.  But, the next thing that happened to our food trip in Lapu-lapu is contrary to what I was expecting.

The Foursquare Search

Since I have no idea where Sutukil is located in Lapu-lapu, I used Foursquare to search for its specific location.  I found out that it is located near Mactan Shrine.  Note: I had no idea that the one I found in Foursquare is not the restaurant that I was looking.

When we arrived at the place, I was a bit shocked because it was absolutely contrary to what I expected.  I was expecting the same Sutukil resto, the one we dined in a few years ago for my friend’s birthday celebration.

The moment we stepped out of the taxi, we were immediately mobbed by men, each of them was convincing us to choose their Sutukil resto.  Another man, offered us umbrella to avoid the heat of the sun.  I was like – is this a joke?  Are we lost?  And then the truth just sank in.  We were indeed at Sutukil but it is not the resto where I dined in a few years ago. ):

SuTuKil Restaurants in Lapu-lapu

The SuTuKil in Lapu-lapu is a cluster of locally-owned small restaurants that offer the famous Cebu dishes – Su (Sugba), Tu (Tuwa), Kil (Kilaw).  I was actually a bit disappointed when we arrived at the actual area.  While the the salesmen were busy convincing us to check each of the resto they represented, I can’t help but feel a sense of dread – something inside my head was telling me to leave and look for another place to eat.  But, before I can make a decision, my mouth had already spoken.  I’ve already told the “salesman” that we will be dining at their resto because it had a second floor and has a view by the beach.

Sutukil LapulapuCredit as tagged

This is how the Sutukil restaurants look like.  The unfortunate thing is until now I still can’t recall the name of the  resto where we dined in.

Fredz Sutukil LapulapuPhoto Credit: Pierre Marius

 I tried to search for some photos online and I got this one.  Still, I’m not sure if this is the resto.  All I can remember is the cashier area that is decorated by seashells.   I only managed to take photos of the inside.  See pictures below.

SuTuKil Lapulapu

This is how the inside looks like.  We were going to the 2nd floor because we were being promised of a good lunch view there.

Lunch View SuTuKil Lapulapu

But it was not what I expected.  Though the place is airy and has a good view of the beach, it smells muddy and surrounded by hostile people and children begging for money from the guests.  But, all these downsides shouldn’t have mattered if the foods are good and if they are fairly priced.

The Rip Off Menu

Though this story may seem a bit sad but we actually have a very hearty lunch.  Part of our laugh trip were the unsuspecting Koreans (who also got ripped off big time – no idea how much they have paid but I’m quite sure the rate is higher than ours).  We were also serenaded by a group of in-house “band” who also asked for a payment for their 10-minute show.

Moving on, after having so much fun, criticizing our food and our lunch neighbors, we got the shock of our lives when the bill arrived.  The total cost of our lunch is Php1, 500 plus.  I can’t recall the exact total cost but that’s the very close estimate.  WTF!  I can’t believe I’ll be paying this amount over a 3-course menu and a side dish in a local restaurant situated in a shanty place, smelly muddy beach, hostile people all over the area, and worst, a facility that’s only at par with ordinary “Karenderya” (tiny restaurants in street corners).  Below are the photos of the foods that we ordered.

Mud Crab in Chilli Sauce Sutukil Lapulapu

This is Mud Crab in Chilli Sauce.  We only had four of this because I felt (when I ordered) the price for each crab is super expensive.

Mud Crab in Chilli Sauce 2 Sutukil Lapulapu

Though it tastes good, my friend commented that the sauce is purely made from ketchup.  The other two of my companions echoed the same opinion.

Grilled Fish Sutukil Lapulapu

There’s really nothing special with this grilled fish.  I have no fucking idea why it cost us a lot.  This is from the fish that I ordered.  The waiter/cook in the counter offered us that they will grill half of the fish and they will make a “tinula” of the other half.

Tinulang Isda Sutukil Lapulapu

This is the rip off Tinula that they served.  The head of the fish is like an omen that foretells our ominous fate. ):

Kinilaw na Gusu - Sutukil Lapulapu

The Kinilaw na Gusu which normally costs Php10 to 30 at local Karenderyas cost us a lot in this food trip.  How fucking great is that?  Because I get so agitated after looking at the receipt, I forgot to keep it after we exited from that bloody restaurant.  The only thing that I can’t forget is the additional payments they asked us for the cooking service – Mad Crab Chilli Sauce Cooking Fee, Fish Tinula Cooking Fee, and Grilled Fish Cooking Fee.  Each payment costs at least Php80.00 (that’s a chicken meal in KFC already!!!).

Normally, I really don’t complain about food prices if it is fairly priced.  Like those restaurants in IT Park and Ayala Terraces that offer good ambiance, service, and of course a menu that is jam-packed with sumptuous dishes.  But, this one I really can’t just let go.  The place is awful, the food is so-so, and the pricing is a BIG rip off!!! No wonder we were the only guests (except the Koreans) on that day.

Please, please, please.  For your own wallet and palate sake, avoid this Sutukil Restaurants near Mactan Shrine.  For affordable yet super delectable seafood dishes you can try AA BBQ and Neo-Neo.

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