Category Archives: Places

Booking for a Budget Accommodation Near NAIA [24 Days Non-Stop Travel in Northern Luzon – Part 1]

I’ve been really, really planning to write about this but I only got the time, drive, and resources right now. Hopefully I can finish blogging about all the memorable and unforgetable experiences I had during those 24 days.

An Opportunity to Travel for the First Time in Batanes

It was around January or February last year when a friend asked me if I would like to go with her to Batanes.  I grabbed the opportunity without a lot of thinking.

Batanes is part of my Travel bucketlist. Thus, when an opportunity came, I didn’t have any second thoughts.

There’s so little time to prepare. Our scheduled flight from Manila to Basco was on March 1. We need to be in Manila the day before our scheduled flight.  This means that I needed to book an overnight accommodation near NAIA because our flight schedule was around 5 in the morning.

Unfortunately, I had the dates (of our depature to Manila and departure to Basco) jumbled, and ended up needing to book for a 2-night stay. Clumsy, disorganized me. ):

Searching for a Budget Accommodation near NAIA

Agoda is my most favorite hotel search engine when it comes to booking for accommodations that brings value for my money.

After careful filtering and scanning of guest reviews, I booked a 2-night stay at DG Budget Hotel NAIA.

DG Budget Hotel NAIA Review
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You can never really find a decent accommodation in Manila under one thousand pesos.

DG Budget Hotel costs 1.3K plus per night despite the fact that it is a semi-hostel with no private bathrooms.  But, despite these, the good things about this accommodation completely outweigh the bad ones.

Location

DG Budget Hotel is only 5-minute away from NAIA Terminal 4 via taxi.  Location-wise, this is one of the nearest accommodations to the airport if you are flying to Basco.

The place is near convenience stores and there is a bank and ATM at the ground floor.

Cleanliness

Our room is quite clean and their common bathrooms are odor-free. The corridor leading to the information area is also well-maintained.

The only bad thing is, they don’t provide a trash container in our room. We have to make use of a plastic bag as a replacement.

Comfort
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As a budget inn, it provides enough comfort for travelers on the go. The 2 single beds room that we booked are not that spacious, but it doesn’t matter because we didn’t stay there all day long.  We went out most of the day to the mall.

Their standard room with double bed though is quite comfortable.  We booked that room on our last 2-day stay in Manila before we returned to Cebu.

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They also provide a free hot and cold water station which is really helpful especially for someone like me who need more than 1 serving of coffee when I’m working.

Staff Performance

The staff are okay. There’s not much things to do other than man their mini grocery area where you can buy instant coffee and cup noodles.

Internet

Because I bring my work anywhere I go, internet connection is a crucial factor I consider when booking an accommodation.

DG Budget Hotel NAIA has above average internet connection speed. It’s also satisfying that they have two WiFi connections.  This is one of the major reasons why we stayed again there before we went back to Cebu.

Value for Money

Definitely one of the best choices when it comes to budget, location, and of course, internet. Be sure to book the standard room with the double bed. It’s bloody comfy.

I highly recommend this place for fellow budget travelers.

Next: My First Flight to Basco, Batanes Aboard SkyJet Air.

[Screenshot photos used in this blogpost are all from Agoda.com]

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Shangril-La Mactan’s Cowrie Cove Restaurant: Food Review

Are you looking for a restaurant to spend your special days or holidays here in Cebu?  Cowrie Cove Restaurant in Shangri-La, Mactan is one of Cebu’s fine dining destinations wherein you can enjoy your food while savoring the view of the beach.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to sample their Festive menu along with my fellow members of Cebu Bloggers Society.  Here’s the menu that Cowrie Cove specifically prepared for us.

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Here are the people I was with while enjoying the foods, small chitchats, the sea breeze, and the pleasant humid atmosphere at the sea view part of Cowrie Cove.

Cowrie Cove Restaurant Shangrila Mactan with Cebu Bloggers Society

Photo Credit: Sinjin Pineda of Libotero.com

Food Ratings and Review for Each Dish Served

We officially started our dinner with this appetizer.

This is the Sauteed King Prawn with Orange Salad and Roasted Carrot.  The sauteed prawn is a 9, orange salad an 8, and the roasted baby carrot a 9.5.  I love everything about this appetizer.  The flavor is very light and citrusy.

Next is the soup.

For our soup, we had the Pan Seared Scallop in a Truffle  Scented Polenta Soup with Parmesan Tips. The pan seared scallop is an 8.  Overall rating for this soup is 7.

Next is our main course.

The is Surf and Turf.  This main course is composed of Roasted Beef Tenderloin Rossini, Rock Lobster, Strawberries, and Balsamic Vinegar.  Definitely a winner.  Roasted beef tenderloin is a 9 and Rock Lobster a 10.

And last, but not the least, the dessert.

To cap off our dinner, we had Oven Roasted Apple and Raisin Vanilla Ice cream.  The roasted apple is a 7 and the raisin vanilla ice cream a 7.5.

The ambiance inside and outside Cowrie Cove is an 8 and the food service is a 9.5.  Overall, I enjoyed our dinner and would love to go back there to try their other menus.

 

N.B.: I am not paid to write this review.  Cebu Bloggers Society is a non-profit organization that mainly aims to promote everything about Cebu.  Happy New Year!

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12 Capture-worthy Places in Asia Every Photographers Must not Miss

It’s no secret that Asia is home to some of the best scenic views in the world. Considering that it’s the world’s largest continent, you’re sure to discover places any photographer will deem as paradise.

However, the entire continent is vast and it would be tremendously time-consuming for you if you’re embarking on a quest to capture the best places with only your camera and your wanderlust to bank on. You need proper information to make your hunt for great capture-worthy sites as efficient as possible.

Make your travel photography a breeze with these 12 capture-worthy places in Asia:

The Picture-Perfect White Beach of Boracay
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Photo courtesy of Hani_Han via Pixabay

The breathtaking contrast of Boracay’s sky blue waters and pristine white sands makes it impossible for photography enthusiasts and professional photographers to walk away without capturing a great shot.

Aside from the health benefits of going to the beach, another great reason why photographers visit this famous Philippine island is its underwater scenery. If you’re willing, a quick scuba diving lesson will allow you to capture the stunning coral reefs and marine ecosystem with your waterproof camera.

The Serenity of Li Riverriver-892346_1920

Photo courtesy of DEZALB via Pixabay

The serene beauty of China’s Li River is another place that budding photographers shouldn’t miss out on. The calm water, the towering mountains, and the touch of fog gives an otherworldly atmosphere that amplifies the scenic effect of your shots.

It’s highly suggested for photographers to take the raft when looking for great angles. Compared to being on a cruise, it allows you to get a closer look at the water . Best of all, the raftman is always willing to stop so you can take clearer, better photos.

The Kikuchi River Paradisejapan-1040657_1920

Photo courtesy of DeltaWorks via Pixabay

Kikuchi River in Japan allows you to be more attuned to the unrivalled beauty of nature. Capturing how the luminous waters, engulfed by trees, while making its way through the Kikuchi Valley produces engaging and dynamic photos.  

Kikuchi Valley is also known as the “Healing Forest.” Just like the benefits of relaxing by the beach, visiting this

renowned Japanese forest bathing site can boost your health and reduce stress while engaging all of your senses, making it a great place for great photos and relaxation.   

The Dazzling Sheikh Zhayed Grand Mosquemosque-618303_1920
Photo courtesy of
jpeter2 via Pixabay

The architectural beauty of this mosque in Abu Dhabi makes it one of the most noteworthy places every photographer should visit. The beautiful harmony of white and gold, decorated with subtle lines and paintings, bring out its solemn structural beauty no photographer should miss when visiting Asia.

The perfect time to visit Sheikh Zhayed Grand Mosque is around 4 o’clock as you can take photos of this structural beauty at your own pace. By the time you had your fill of photos, end the day gracefully by taking the complimentary Sunset Tour offered at 5 p.m. and try to capture the precise moment when the mosque is bathed in sunset colors.

The Splendid Angkor Wat Temple Complexangkor-809753_1920

Photo courtesy of Poswiecie via Pixabay

The Angkor Wat is the reason why 50% of tourists visit Cambodia. Visiting the place itself will answer the question why. The marvelous photos one can capture at different angles make it a photographer’s dream. The imposing archaic elements of the temple complex allow you to take splendid shots with almost no mechanical assistance from your camera at all.

The Majestic Taj Mahaltaj-mahal-1030894_1920

Photo courtesy of Unsplash via Pixabay

The Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world for a good reason. The spectacular weave of details and balance is noteworthy, and these critical elements are the reasons why the Taj Mahal is heavily regarded as the best example of Mughal architecture and India’s jewel of Muslim art.

With Taj Mahal, close up photos alone won’t do justice to its beauty. Make sure to take wide angles to capture all of its architectural glory. One good tip is to position yourself across the river so you can take photos without interfering activities.   

A Touch of Delicate History with Ephesus
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Photo courtesy of tpsdave via Pixabay

One way to ensure that you’re seeing the best of Asia is to visit the delicate remnants at Ephesus. The remaining structures are still something to marvel at. It will be a great addition to any photographer’s photo journal as it allows you to capture the history of Turkey in its splendid aftermath.

The Enchanting View of Phu Quoc Island
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Photo courtesy of Quangle via Piabay

Phu Quoc Island offers photographers what an untouched natural environment looks like. This peaceful island has scenic spots that can easily be captured into stunning photos. In addition to the picture-perfect sunset by the beach,  the hospitality of the locals will be one more reason that makes the trip to Vietnam worthwhile.

The Fascinating Gardens by the Bay
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Photo courtesy of cegoh via Pixabay

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay offers unique images waiting to be captured. This enthralling blend of structure and nature makes it appealing for photographers and tourists alike. Make sure to enjoy a fine long walk on a warm evening to get a beautiful shot.

The Lovely Racha Island
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Photo courtesy of karin_isme via Pixabay

Racha Island is one of the pleasant discoveries you’ll encounter in Asia. The way the fine white sand meets the clear waters will make you reach for your smartphone or camera for a quick snap. Another reason why visiting this uninhabited island of Thailand is that it offers solitude for people looking for a private moment to themselves. This makes it easy for photographers to take marvelous photos without too much human traffic.

The Delightful Offers of Nusa Dua
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Photo courtesy of Mariamichelle via Pixabay

Indonesia’s Nusa Dua is a great place for photographers looking for quality shots of turquoise waters meeting whitish sands. It’s a bit isolated, allowing photographers to roam around and take great shots without any difficulty. Visit the Geger Temple, located at the top of the cliff, for better angles and a bird’s eye view of the entire location.

The Stunning Banpo Bridge
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Photo courtesy tpsdave via Pixabay

The Banpo Bridge is one of South Korea’s architectural highlights and is the world’s longest bridge fountain. It’s definitely one of Asia’s structural features that photographers shouldn’t miss. One of the major reason is its dynamic nature: the fountain is designed to perform various shows day in, day out.

The fountain boasts a hundred configurations that simulate the movements of willow branches and its leaves during the day. During the night, the fountain dances to the beat of music while being illuminated by 200 different lights. The sheer number of combinations the fountain offers make it a must-capture for every photographer visiting Asia.

Visiting these 12 capture-worthy places encourages photographers to come up with a noteworthy photography portfolio. The photos of these places will make a stellar addition, not only to your photo journal, but to your travel experience as well. When you’re on a travel photography journey, don’t just focus on looking for visually-appealing places, look for places that can enhance your travel experience as well.  That’s how you know that you’ve truly found one of the best capture-worthy places in Asia.

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Sustainable Setting To Travel And Learn

Doesn’t the mere thought of traveling makes you happy and giddy? While typing “things to do” and “what to eat” in a certain country or city, you suddenly realize how wonderful it is to live. Add a little more something to it like a diploma and a degree and you got the recipe for the most perfect getaway.

It should not be surprising that the number of international students around the world is on the rise. Studying abroad has “lucky” written all over it. It’s not every day that you get to travel while learning. According to a 2009 statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, there are around 3.7 million international students worldwide. UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics finds that the numbers are increasing by 12% each year, which means that as of 2015, some 2.6 million students have had the privilege to study abroad. In short, there are at least six million extremely lucky individuals who get to experience first-hand the benefits of traveling and learning at the same time.

The U.S., European countries, and major Asian cities are among the most popular destinations for international students. Young people get to study abroad via sponsorships, grants, and personal expense. Sometimes all it takes is to fill out that application form and know that there’s more to learning than crashing frat parties and scoring a date with a cheerleader or a football star. Yes, the struggles are real and there will be challenges and you will miss familiar places and faces. But it’s a big world out there. Go out, learn, and have fun.

Whether you are into the romantic, rustic, cultural or modern vibe, there is a very wide and diverse list of the best and coolest countries and cities to choose from, depending on the course or degree and other personal preferences. Here are some of them:

Oooh, Paris!

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Photo courtesy of Foundry via pixabay.com

For the third year running, Paris was ranked number one in the QS Best Student Cities index. The French capital is admired for its architecture and cultural heritage. There are a lot of internationally-ranked universities in Paris that often attract those studying culture, humanities, design and architecture, and also fashion. Do you know what is the common course requirement for studying French architecture? A trip to the Louvre.

The cost of living in Paris is rather high, especially for students, but the tuition fees are relatively low compared to other cities which offsets living expenses. In addition, you can stare and have the cheesiest photo at the majestic Eiffel Tower as often as you want.

Diversity in South Africa

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Photo courtesy of shilmar via pixabay.com

South Africa is among the most culturally and ethnically diverse places in the region. It’s history is also very interesting considering the country’s struggles during the apartheid and colonization. So if you want to learn about cultures, politics, and international studies, South Africa should be on top of your list. Plus, it’s also a great place to study linguistics. Did you know that they have 11 official languages? Nature is also a good discipline because of the wildlife and yes, the safari. And according to Abroad 101, Cape Town, South Africa’s capital, is among the top 10 friendliest cities in the world.

Awesome Australia

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Photo courtesy of pattyjansen via pixabay.com

You’ll never be bored in Australia. It is truly the perfect setting to travel and learn. From the beaches to the rainforests and postcard-worthy sites, Australia is simply a gorgeous country. Most of Australia is known for the beach life, night life and music. And of course, the way humans co-exist with animals.

Among its strong academic programs involve ecology, geology and marine biology. This is mainly because of the country’s varied topography and unique climate. The student population in Australia is large, diverse, and inclusive. There are also a lot of internationally-ranked universities across the country; seven can be found in Melbourne.

Nerdy in Germany

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Photo courtesy of tpsdave via pixabay.com

Germany is a cool destination for students, especially for those interested in the sciences and technology industries. It is a good place to study engineering and business, as it is a leader in both fields. Given its very rich history, Germany is also a good choice to study European politics. Students would also be glad to know that Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, gives subsidies to foreign students, making it an affordable study destination.

Museums and gardens are aplenty. Beer is also part of the culture.  Party nights can be a little notorious in cities like Berlin.

Lots of lovin’ in Dublin

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Photo courtesy of Clairetardy via pixabay.com

Ireland is a passionate nation. They pack so much pride for their sports teams, history, and heritage. Ireland is enriching on so many levels and it is just a fun country to be in. No wonder that among its strong academic programs are on the romance side — literature and writing. James Joyce, anyone?

Most Irish universities put a lot of academic responsibility on the students. These universities do not cover everything in lectures, and exams are not very popular either. Learning materials are given to students and they have to be responsible enough to go through them. Just a friendly reminder: it rains all the time in Dublin so be prepared. Aside from passport, visa, and other academic requirements, climate is also among the major things to consider when traveling and studying abroad.

A great Spanish mix

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Photo courtesy of JoaquinAranoa via pixabay.com

There are a variety of lessons you can learn in studying abroad. Aside from the course requirements, there is also the rich history and culture. And when you think of the perfect mix of modernity and tradition, Spanish-speaking countries got you covered.

Spain has it all — culture, history, heritage, and tradition. Art, theater, architecture, and linguistics are perfect disciplines. Hailed as one of the most livable cities in the world, its capital Madrid is both enchanting and exotic. It’s very modern and the traveler in you will surely enjoy the awesome nightlife and flamenco dancing.

Argentina is also a good study destination. If you are looking for a Latin American perspective on politics, history, and religion, then Argentina is the place to be. Given the European history of its people, the social sciences are also a strong point. Argentina is also home to a lot of exciting rural areas and vibrant cities that you can explore.

The demand for quality universities in Costa Rica is high because of the high literacy in this Spanish-speaking country. It’s 96%! Costa Rica has a very lush environment, making environment-related fields of study its strong point. In fact, many of its universities sponsor educational trips to research on and explore the vast natural resources.

Royalty in the United Kingdom

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Photo courtesy of pixolga via pixabay.com

The UK is home to some of the oldest and most respected universities in the world, so you are guaranteed to find a really good one. It also home to some of the world’s most notable politicians, economists, scientists, and writers so you could basically study anything in the UK. For the travel part, you can experience royalty in some of the palaces, eat fish and chips, dine al fresco, go crazy over soccer, and fall in love with the cute accent.

Fall easily with Italy

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Photo courtesy of 762090 via pixabay.com

It’s easy to fall in love with Italy over and over again. The food is great and the sites are gorgeous. Every corner is worthy of a selfie and you won’t run out of updates and posts for your social media pages. Art, history, and architecture are good study courses in Italy. There is also Rome for classical history, arts and architecture. Then there’s Milan for fashion.

Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity. You get to see the world in a different perspective. You don’t go by an itinerary, but instead slowly take it all in. Do not be intimidated by the thought of studying in a different country. Embrace it like a true citizen of the world.

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Top 17 Recent and Upcoming Changes in Mactan Cebu International Airport (PHOTOS)

Probably one of the best travel-related news I heard these days is the current and upcoming renovations being done in our international airport here in Cebu.

On the 16th of this month, I had the chance to participate in an airport tour headed by Andrew Harrison, Chief Executive Advisor of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation.  We were briefed about the current and upcoming developments in Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Seeing the progress of the current renovation project made me feel more excited about the future of tourism and travel here in Cebu.  One of the best highlights of the tour is the development of a new terminal (terminal 2) wherein Kenneth Cobonpue is the interior designer.  Yes.  You read it right.  Kenneth Cobonpue, our very own Cebuano interior designer who is popular worldwide.  See a sneak peek of how the new airport terminal would look like in the photo below.

Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 Departure Lounge Retail View

Apology for low quality photo.  This is from Andrew’s Power Point presentation.

Terminal 2 is expected to open in the Summer of 2018.

Top 17 Current and Future Changes in Mactan Cebu International Airport

If you travel often, for sure, you already noticed the current developments done in our airport but if you haven’t been to the airport in a long while, you’ll definitely be surprised how the current contractor (GMR-Megawide) is currently doing their task in enhancing the functionality and accessibility of our airport terminal.

Current Changes You Can Now See in our Airport

This 25-year project between the government and GMR-Megawide Airport Corporation (the contractor that won the bidding) aim to construct and manage new commercial facilities within the airport terminal.  All new systems installed in the airport are part of ARINC CUPPS Systems.  Current visible changes are the following.

1. All Airlines Now Operate Using One Platform

New Mactan Airport Cebu 2

New Mactan Airport Cebu 3

Unlike before wherein airline companies used each of their own system in processing the needs of their passengers, GMR-Megawide had installed vMUSE (a common check-in system for all airlines) last June of this year to make check-in process more efficient.  Andrew emphasized that they don’t charge the airline companies for this major change.

2. New Flight Information Display System (AirVue)

New Mactan Airport Cebu 4

This new flight information display system is designed to enhance the operational flow inside the airport.  This helps passengers to keep on moving and help the airport increase their revenue opportunities through display advertising.  Read more details about this system here.

3. New Domestic Departure Area

New Mactan Airport Cebu 5

4. New Self Check-In Kiosk

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All passengers of Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, PAL, and Cebu Pacific can now check-in themselves using this system (SelfServ – Common Use Self Service Check-in Sytem [CUSS]).

5. New White Taxi Boarding Bay at Arrivals Level

New Mactan Airport Cebu 9

Aside from the toilet problems, one of the most annoying part of the airport before is the location of its taxi terminal.  Now, the new white taxi boarding bay provides passengers a more comfortable and accessible place to get a taxi.

6. New Airport Medical Center

New Mactan Airport Cebu 11

The passengers’ medical needs and services are now catered in the new clinic located near the airport’s Engineering Office.  The new clinic also comes with a new fully equipped ambulance.

Upcoming Changes You Can Expect to See in our Airport

Aside from the gigantic changes that will be brought due to the development of a new terminal (terminal 2), here are first the things you can expect to change in the old terminal (terminal 1).

7.  New Terminal Seating 

Mactan Cebu Interntional Airport New Terminal Seating

 

This change is expected to be visible on September of this year.

8. Renovation Plan for Overall International Departures

Mactan Cebu International Airport Renovation Plan for Overall International Departures

 

9. New Plaza Premium International Lounge Interior

Mactan Cebu International Airport Plaza Premium International Lounge Interior

 

10. Airport Mobile Charging Stations

Mactan Cebu International Airport Mobile Charging Stations

 

11. Newly Designed Washrooms/Toilets

Mactan Cebu International Airport New Femaile Toilet

 

Mactan Cebu International Airport New Male Toilet

 

At last! The long wait is almost over.  Comfort rooms that are designed to provide comfort not discomfort.

12. Boarding Pass Validation with Automated Gate

Mactan Cebu International Airport Boarding Pass Validation with Automated Gate

 

Harrison said that our airport will be the very first in the country to implement this system.  Expect to see this change on the 3rd week of August this year.

13. Baggage Reconciliation System

Mactan Cebu International Airport Baggage Reconciliation System

See the rest of the current and upcoming changes in our airport in the Power Point slide presentation I created below.

Disclaimer: The compiled info in this presentation are based from Andrew Harrison’s original Power Point slides.

Exciting Features of Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2

The thing that excites me the most is the development of our airport’s 2nd terminal.  By just looking at the planned infrastructure, you can see that this one will be world-class.  Andrew said that they want the new terminal to be at par with the best airports in the world but at the same time maintain a theme and air that is uniquely Cebuano.

Without further ado, this is how the Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 will look like.

14. Boarding Gate Area

Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 Boarding Gate View

 

15. Baggage Reclaim Area

Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 Baggage Reclaim View

 

16. Check-In Area

Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 Check In View

 

17. Departure Lounge Retail Area

Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 Departure Lounge Retail View

 

Check the details of this upcoming development in the Power Point presentation below.

As I mentioned already earlier in this blog post, Kenneth Cobonpue will do the interior design of Terminal 2.  According to Harrison, the recent renovations and upcoming developments are expected to cost 17 to 19 billion pesos in the first 4 years of the project.

If you need more information about this current airport development project, you may visit the Mactan Cebu International Airport official website at www.mactancebuairport.com.

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Travel Nightmare: The Fear of Not Attaining One’s Bucket List

Nowadays almost everyone has their own bucket list, a phrase derived from the expression “kick the bucket,” which is a term for death. A bucket list represents a breakdown of the things a person wants to do before he dies. Travel is one of the high priorities in most people’s list and they do everything they can to reach the destination of their dreams. For some, failure to complete a bucket list is considered a nightmare, something that they really dread happening. Perhaps because for a lot of people, achieving one’s bucket list ideas has become a pursuit to beat not only oneself but also others.

Photo from Claudio Vaccaro via Flickr

Making and completing the list has become a competition of sorts, with individuals posting travel photos in their social media accounts as proof that they’ve really done it. Attaining a bucket list has somehow become a measure of self-esteem, a yardstick of achievement. There’s also the fear of not being able to enjoy life to the fullest before dying. According to psychologist Linda Blair, the whole business of creating and achieving bucket lists is “a way of denying the idea of death, not coping with it at all. People usually do this to ensure that there are things to look forward to, which means there are things that are still going to happen. My experience warns me that it’s probably done in order to prevent thinking about death.”

Whatever the reason is for your fear of not attaining your bucket list, there’s something you can do to stop it. There are things you can initiate in order to stop fear from paralyzing you and preventing you from ticking items off your list. Here are the steps you need to do in order to achieve your travel goals.

Transform excuses into tasks

 

Photo from Roderick Eime via Flickr, Creative Commons

It’s human nature to flake out and make excuses for the things that we fail to do. These excuses can be convenient at first but as time goes by, these excuses can have an effect on our overall motivation to achieve things. Slacking off can become a lifelong habit.

You can deal with this by pointing out the excuses you’re making and then turning them into tasks. For instance, if having kids is your primary reason for not traveling, then you can research about the stories of other travelers who have managed to take vacations with their brood. If lack of money is your primary reason, then you should create an estimate of the amount of cash you need to go to your dream destination and figure out ways how you can make that kind of money. If you fear solo traveling, then you can search for inspiring stories about solo travelers to rest your fears about traveling solo.

Change your mindset about traveling

 

Photo from Geraint Rowland via Flickr, Creative Commons

A lot of people are blinded by beliefs that prohibit them from their travel dreams. These people hold on to the idea that traveling, especially solo journey, is terribly expensive and a selfish, self-indulgent activity. They always think of traveling as an overly complicated hobby. These lines of thinking should be adjusted to accommodate ideas that will encourage them to travel. True, traveling can be expensive but there are ways to travel on the cheap. You can stay at budget accommodations and eat at inexpensive restaurants. No, it’s not true that traveling is a selfish act; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see the most beautiful beach resorts and experience other cultures. It’s a great way to enrich one’s soul and you owe it to yourself to do so. Yes, traveling can be complicated but patience and practice can make things easier in the long run.

Set specific goals

 

Photo from Kate Ter Haar via Flickr, Creative Commons

Items on your bucket list look more realistic if you can make specific goals to achieve it. You need to establish a set of criteria in working towards reaching your destination. You can choose a place closest to your current location. You can opt for a place with the least expenses. You can center on that destination that you think you can’t bear to miss out before you die and concentrate all your efforts on it. You can choose a place where you have friends or relatives.

Obsess over the idea

 

Photo from Colton Witt via Flickr, Creative Commons

There’s bad obsession and there’s the good kind, which can be very helpful in achieving your travel goal. It’s all about finding out what moves you as a traveler. If it’s your ultimate dream to go to Morocco, find people who’ve been there already and ask them stories about the experience. Search travel videos of Morocco and promise yourself that you will see those spots with your own eyes in the near future. Hoard travel books and read them until you memorize everything there is to know about Morocco. Search for the nicest picture of the place and use it as your mobile and computer screensaver. Watch movies that used Morocco as a setting. Doing these things will fuel your passion for the place and will encourage you to give everything you got to reach that destination.

Surround yourself with like-minded people

 

Photo from Wazari Wazir  via Flickr, Creative Commons

People who are not that enthusiastic with traveling can dampen your spirits and make you hesitate in achieving your travel goals. This is why you should socialize and make friends with travelers or at least people who are really dead set in packing their bags and flying off to somewhere mysterious and exotic. It doesn’t matter if you plan to become a solo traveler or if you prefer to travel with a group. Travelers can give you realistic tips on how to find safe and affordable accommodations, food, and transportation. You can also sign up for forums and clubs that share your level of wanderlust.

Used wisely, bucket lists can help immensely in making you attain your travel goals. Do not see it as means to compete with others in terms of self-esteem and achievement. Travel because you want to see the world and gain experience that will make you happy. There’s no need to compare your bucket list to others; the only competition you need is yourself. Manage your fears and allow yourself to see a brand new world that only brave souls like yourself will be able to enjoy.

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The Six Trendiest Places to Live in Asia

If you’re looking to settle down, or to visit somewhere new and exciting on the continent, why not add Olaya, Galle and Medan to your list of possibilities.

From relaxing cafe cultures and world class cuisine, to watersports and beautiful architecture, these locations have a lot to offer.

Global property portal Lamudi has compiled a list of the six coolest places to live in Asia.

Medan, Indonesia

The Grand Mosque, Medan - Shutterstock

The biggest metropolis in Sumatera has captured true Indonesian character; historical influences still exist, side by side with the best that the modern world can offer – strong infrastructure in a metropolitan city.

It is home to a number of eye-catching buildings with Dutch-colonial architecture, including the Medan City Hall and the Great Mosque of Medan.

Obhur, Saudi Arabia

Obhur, Saudi Arabia - Flickr - Jun De Roxas

Located around 30 kilometers north of Jeddah, Obhur is an up-and-coming attraction in Saudi Arabia. The area is increasingly popular for locals and foreigners, and domestic and international businesses, as a result of the desirable facilities, infrastructure and activities available. The proximity to the Red Sea, and the abundance of luxury hotels and resorts surrounding the Obhur Creek, make the region a haven for national tourism.

Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore Fort, Lahore - Shutterstock

With amazing architecture dating back to the Mughal era, and gates of the walled city still standing, there is no shortage of sights in Lahore. The city is home to a number of cultural events, including the Festival of Lamps, and the Basant mela, to welcome spring. Lahore provides a mixture traditional and modern culture, where contemporary street food is served alongside traditional Pakistani dishes, and bazaars are found close by newly built malls.

Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle Fort, Galle - Shutterstock

Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has strong influence from both European and South Asian culture. The beautiful Dutch-colonial architecture is seen at its finest in the historic Galle Fort. However, this city is not simply a beautiful place to live; Galle is also a haven of shops, cafes, restaurants, and hotels, as well as offices for local and international companies.

Abdoun, Jordan

If you want to live in luxury and style, then Abdoun is the perfect place. Considered to be one of the most affluent areas of Amman, this district has an abundance of residential properties available for local and foreign residents. Abdoun is also home to some of Amman’s trendiest nightclubs, and Amman’s first mall, which makes the area an increasingly popular spot for the younger residents.

Cebu, Philippines

Fort San Pedro, Cebu - Shutterstock

If you are looking a relaxed way of life in a city that brings together urban and provincial life, then the island province of Cebu is the perfect location for you. The city is not only a center for trade, commerce and education, but also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. Spend your weekends island-hopping or scuba diving, experiencing local cuisine or relaxing in Cebu’s lively bars.

These six destinations emerged as the top places to live and work based from interviews, popular searches and  Lamudi’s more than 900,000+ listings from 32 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Check out exciting properties in these locations and see the difference.

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Top 10 Things I Love About Pitogo Island (Photos)

After over a year of residing in that quaint and laid-back island, I can honestly say that I won’t be easily impressed anymore if I’ll see any other smaller islands in the country.

While writing this blog post, I’m currently preparing to travel to Batanes with my friend.  We booked a homestay accommodation in Basco for 7 days but I’m not sure if we will stick with that schedule.  I prefer to stay longer.

While I was researching for blog reviews about Batanes and was checking a lot of photos of the place, I can’t help but noticed that the sceneries are moderately similar to what I see there in Pitogo Island. Mounds of green hills, islets here and there, and the open sea.

Moto hills in Pitogo Island Bohol

That photo above was taken at Moto, one of the best parts of Pitogo Island wherein you can take great photos of the hills and the surrounding islets.  I’m sure those rolling hills in Batanes are more picturesque and have better landscape but this view from Moto hill is also nostalgic.

I actually feel a bit sad when I hear some people there who complained how boring the island is and that there’s nothing much to see.  I would love to share my thoughts with them and show them that their island has the nicest sceneries and they should be proud that they live there.

Below are the top 10 things that I love about Pitogo and I encourage curious backpackers to explore it if they have the time.

1. Going for a Picnic in Moto

Moto 2 - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

It’s nicer to go there when sunset is coming.  If you have a DSLR camera, the better.  This photo was taken by a point and shot camera only, thus the quality of the image is not that high.

2. Passing by this Farm Going to Tugas

Tugas - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

Every time we go to Tugas, I always peek at this little farm by the road.  I always see myself living in a farm rearing cattles, pigs, and goats during my golden years.  The smell of the the grass and the stink of the manure are like perfume to my lungs. Lols!

3. Commuting to Ubay via Pump-boat

Motor Boat - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia BoholCommuting without noise and air pollution.  Less than 5-minute travel from Popoo to Ubay in this small boat.  The only main downside is the waiting time.  The boat doesn’t go if the passenger count won’t reach 10.

4. The Serene Ambiance in their New Cemetery

Cemetery 2 - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

Cemetery - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

Not much to see but I still love this place.  Weird, right? I think cemeteries are among the quietest and safest places on earth.  This is a serene place wherein you can meditate, ruminate, or sometimes you can also get the worst err the best photo for a jump shot. (:

Cemetery Pitogo Island Bohol - JumpShot Final

Yeah, the best jump shot ever. Lol!

5. Biking to Bonbonon

Bonbonon - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia BoholI had so much memories in this side of the island.  Fainted a few times and got into an accident once.  But, if you are into mountain biking, the trail there is quite challenging.  Of course, that’s from a neophyte perspective. (;

6. Paddle Boarding in Aguining

Paddle Boarding Aguining - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

Paddle Boarding Failed - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia BoholThese photos are quite memorable.  Aguining is the side of the island wherein the road is very steep and quite dangerous during rainy season.  Still, it’s the only place in the island wherein you can find a fish sanctuary, an ideal place to snorkel and go for scuba diving in the nearby islets.

There’s also a beach resort in there wherein you can rent a paddle board and enjoy the rest of the day in the water.

7. Snorkeling in Pong Gamay

Snorkeling at Pong Gamay

Pong Gamay is one of the very few islets that surround Pitogo Island.  Though there’s no white sands in there, the clearness of the water would surely convince you to swim despite the very hot weather.  Of course, you can also snorkel since schools of fishes are just nearby.

Pumpboat going to Pong Gamay - Pitogo Island Bohol

View of Pong Gamay from our pump boat.

8. Chilling at Kabangkalan

Kabangkalan Beach Pitogo Island Bohol

One of the biggest downsides in Pitogo Island is it does not have a lot of white sands.  Most of the beaches are filled with rocks like that in the photo below.  There’s only a small strip of white sands in Pong Dako, the islet which I haven’t checked yet.

Kabangkalan Beach 2 Pitogo Island Bohol

Kabangkalan is also located in Aguining area but its road is safer compared to the other Aguining beach I mentioned earlier.  It’s ideal for a family weekend getaway.

9.  No Pollution and Traffic

Biking in Moto Pitogo Island Bohol

Of course, this is the main reason why I love Pitogo Island.  It is far away from anything toxic.  The air is fresh, the lifestyle is laid back, no noise pollution, no traffic, and most of the people there don’t know me.  I always believe that there’s freedom in anonymity. (:

10. Fresh Seafoods

Mud Crab - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

Big SeaShells - Pitogo Island President Carlos P Garcia Bohol

I guess I have to write a separate blog post for this since there are so much to tell about my seafood adventure in Pitogo Island.  It was there that I learned to love eating “wood-like seashells” (Wasay-wasay) and “Tuyom” (Sea Urchin),  the type of exotic sea foods that I don’t even expect to like. (:

This list is for sure not a complete one.  I still have a lot to say, a lot to express, a lot to share. I hope I can find more time to write another long blog post like this one.

Until next time! Namaste!

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Project Happiness Bakehouse Opens in Cebu

Project Happiness Bakehouse Cebu

I used to just gawk at PH Bakehouse’s creations via Facebook because they were only exclusively distributed near Cavite area before.  Just lately, I was really surprised that the owners, Iris and Marcel Pulga, had officially opened their very first store here in Cebu.  Project Happiness Bakehouse opened their door to Cebuano customers last Saturday (November 8).  You can visit them at Arcada 5, Highway Tipolo, Mandaue City.

PH Bakehouse Creations

Project Happiness Bakehouse specializes in custom-made celebration cakes for all occasions and dessert buffets.  One thing that I like the most with their cakes is the fondant decorations.  Their Candy Crush themed fondant cake is really cool.Project Happiness Bakehouse Candy Crush Fondant Cake

I haven’t bought a fondant cake from them yet but I had the chance to taste a few of their creations during their launching and tasting activity last Saturday.  Below are a few of my favorite ones.

Chili Chocolate - PH Bakehouse Cebu

Chili Chocolate

This one is definitely mouth-watering and very unforgettable.  I mean there are other yummy chocolates in the buffet but this one sticks in my head because it is something that I don’t usually eat.  I would really love to hoard these sweets and munch them while I’m working.  (:

PH Bakehouse Cebu 3

Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips

I’m not sure if that’s the actual name but I’m quite sure that’s how it should be described.  This is another of their creation that I really, really love.  I hope I can afford to hoard these yummies. Lols!

Dulce de Leche - PH Bakehouse Cebu

Dulce de Leche

In the photo, they may look like your average cup cakes, but once you taste them, you’ll definitely want for more. (:

PH Bakehouse Cebu

These mini cup cakes are definitely yummy.  I don’t really expect that they are that good.  The raves from their customers in Facebook are definitely true.

More photos of their baked creations that I took last Saturday.

To see the rest of the baked creations, click here.

PRICING

The pricing for each cake or baked goodies depends on the quantity of  the customer’s order.  A fondant cake (the size and decoration like of that one in the gallery above) is priced around Php5,000 to Php6,000.  More information about their pricing here.

ORDER and DELIVERY

You may just fill up this order form or you can directly call/text PH Bakehouse through this # 0927.861.5008.  If you are more comfortable via email, contact them at phbakehouse@gmail.com, or if you are in Facebook, just send them a PM.  Iris and Marcel do their best to reply within 24 hours.

THE OWNERS

Oops, I almost forgot.  With me are Iris and Marcel Pulga during the launching of Project Happiness Bakehouse last November 8.

With Iris and Marcel - PH Bakehouse Cebu Owners

That was actually the first time I met Iris in person.  We used to be online co-workers before, and we chatted a lot in Skype.  Nice meeting you, ris.  Congrats in opening your very own bakehouse.

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Parkmall Celebrates Cebu Talents

Parkmall Cebu Events

Parkmall continues in giving recognition to homegrown Cebuano talents by having VISPOP artists Earl Andrei Ornopia, Kenneth Corvera, Johnever Canlom, Jerika Teodorico as featured guests on October 17 and 18 for their month-long anniversary celebration .  On October 24 and 25, BISROCK band The Agadiers will also jam with the mall goers.  Earlier this month, the Quaruplee Band and violinist Adrian Niño Beltran had also performed.

Catch these local performers at the Atrium as Parkmall commemorate their 6 years of improving the lifestyles of Cebuanos.

Parkmall’s 6 Years of Celebrating Cebu Life

Parkmall Cebu 6th Anniversary

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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

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. (:

419120_10151423802166951_1533846947_n

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

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, 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)

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!!! (:

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 12

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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My First Helmet Diving #Boracay2013

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

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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Traveling During a Bad Weather – Go the the Mall and Become a Voyeur

Our trip to Manila was greeted by boisterous thunders and a crying sky, begging us to stay in our hotel  and postpone any plan we have to get out and have fun.  Despite this inconvenience, we decided to go out because our time was very limited.  Instead of going to Intramuros, we decided to spend the whole day in MOA – the 3rd largest mall in the world.

The very first thing that I searched inside the mall is the J.CO store (this doughnut store is not available in Cebu).  After Krispy Kreme had opened two stores here in Cebu, J.CO somehow stole the doughnut rave fever.  I am quite curious if it lives up to its reputation.

While searching for the J.CO store, we passed by the mall’s basketball court and guess who I saw?  The big guy with the big hair.

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I’m not a fanatic but I was so surprised that I spotted (well, MinOtte spotted him first) Eruption at the basketball court.  He’s not famous but he’s the guy I have a secret crush on from Showtime.  LOL. (:  Anyway, here are a few snapshots of the basketball court inside MOA.

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That’s Chiel, a close friend who waited for us for almost 4 hours at NAIA because our flight got delayed. ):

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That’s MinOtte. (:

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Off to Manila!

I’m currently packing while dude is catching up with work and min0tte already soundly asleep.  I’m writing now via my tab because I’m not comfortable using dude’s laptop.

Our flight schedule tomorrow is around 1pm and I’m intently praying that the weather would be good.  Rain is not travel-friendly.

First time together in Manila

This trip would be quite memorable because it will be our first time to travel together as a group there.  My last trip there was way back 2009 and dude’s was on 2010.  For this time, it would be purely travel and a bit of  leisure.

Tagaytay trip cancelled

Due to time constraints, we are postponing our Tagaytay trip. I am setting up another sched to travel there so that we can stay at the spot longer.  May be after we moved to dude’s hometown.

Itinerary

I drafted one but I’m sure it won’t be used.  It’s more exciting not to plan. (;

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